Sunday, August 28, 2011

Make your own Gifts in a Jar

A new friend and I have recently been talking about gifts in a jar.  There are so many creative things that people can do!  They've been around for a long time, but now there's new ideas a-brewing on the web. And before you go out and buy canning jars, remember to just look around to see what you have on hand.  Practically any clear jar with a lid can be used for some of these ideas.  If the lid is all scratched up, give it a coat of paint (on the outside, of course!) or sand all the paint off of it and then clean it well.  Don't be too shy to ask friends and relatives if they have any they want to part with and there's always the thrift stores and auctions.  Grab up the little 1/2 cup or 1 cup jars for spice mixes, too. 

New lids and rings for canning jars will run you about $0.12 for each jar, so that's not bad.  You could also spray paint the rings, red or green for Christmas, red or pink for Valentine's Day, black or orange for Halloween, etc.  I love the ol' curling ribbon on the spools.  Also rafia and jute.  You can get so much mileage from that stuff if you stick with the basic or neutral colors.  Wrap it around the jar, tie a knot or bow, glue on a button, cinnamon stick piece, little do-dad if you want, add the label (and cooking instructions if needed) and you're done.  Make several at a time while you have the mess and you're good to go later.

Buyer beware!!  Use your nose before you buy anything from the thrift shops.  From now on I'll pass if they already smell like perfume or aftershave.  I bought a really cute bottle at the thrift store a while back.  The plan was to put some vanilla beans and vodka (homemade vanilla) in it for my daughter.  Honestly, I tried everything I could think of to get that smell out of the bottle and cap, including soaking in full strength vinegar for days.  It still smells like aftershave.  I got to thinking that when you buy something from the thrift shops, you really don't know what's been in there, so food things probably are best put in food type containers, ya know?  I later did some vanilla for a friend using a bottle from when Bill had bought some tea when he was working.  That was smarter.

So, take a few minutes and browse these links.  There's more than just the standard cookie mixes and soup mixes in these jars.  Gift ideas for about any occasion and some have printable labels, too.

http://www.tipjunkie.com/jar-homemade-gifts/ - 48 gift ideas in jars, some printable labels offered.

http://www.craftbits.com/gifts-in-a-jar - lots of different ideas for jars and mugs including some nice sounding herbal stuff.


http://www.budget101.com/frugal/jar-gift-mixes-190/ - offers suggestions for presentation.  There are also links on the right side of the page for gluten free mixes and diabetic mixes.  Gobs of spice mixes for little jars, too.

Got a dehydrator?  My sister dried a bunch of apple slices, and filled a pretty apple shaped jar with them for a gift for our mother.  Mom was thrilled!  Unfortunately she ate all of them in two days...then couldn't get too far away from the pot for the following two days.  :o)  But I thought it was a great idea.

Beef jerky is really expensive to buy.  But you can get a roast on sale, ask the guy at the meat counter to slice it for jerky and make your own.  Stuff some in a jar for a gift.  Send one to Bill.

Need a gift for a cook?  Real vanilla is another thing that's expensive to buy.  Around here, the beans are $7 PER BEAN.  I spent $28 for 200 vanilla beans online.  That's enough to keep me in vanilla for the rest of my life with plenty to spare.  You can put 6 or 12 vanilla beans in a jar for a gift, too.  Then they can add the booze of their choice - vodka, rum or brandy are all good choices. I bought mine at  http://www.vanillaproductsusa.com/servlet/StoreFront
Infused oils would be nice - a few garlic cloves, or some fresh rosemary, etc in a fancy little bottle filled with olive oil.  There's some ideas here:  http://homecooking.about.com/od/condimentrecipes/r/blcon3.htm
Homemade flavored vinegars, like baby lemon vinegar or these: http://busycooks.about.com/library/recipes/blflavvin.htm sound good, too.

Got a gardener in the family?  A gallon plastic jar filled with good potting soil, a ribbon with some packets of flower seeds, or a pair of gardening gloves, or a little shovel (think kid's toys) would be cute.  Or forget the potting soil and put the gloves, etc in the jar instead.  If you can gather the flower seeds from your own flowers, you can put them in envelopes, label those and gussy them up with stamps, stickers or magic markers (where ever your creative abilities lie) to put in the jar, too.  Now's the best time to get gloves and other gardening stuff since it's the end of the season.  If you have a lot of flower seeds you can gather, you could fill little jars with the seeds.  Don't forget to label so they don't end up with mystery stuff unless you're doing a wildflower mix.  If you remove the staples from newspaper slicks and run them through the shredder, you'll have colorful packing stuff for filler and to hold stuff in place in the big jars.  They can also use the shredded paper for mulch.

Thanks, Little Rooster!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Low Tech Termite Traps

Here in Kansas, termites are the norm.  When we lived in town, if one house in the neighborhood had their place treated for termites, the following year the neighbors had to, then down the street it went.  When the cycle started in the neighborhood of our friends, they had the outside of their place treated right away and signed a contract for monthly checks of bait traps.  I don't know how much they pay each month, but this has been going on for several years now.  I bet he's spent $1000 for those monthly checks by now.  Ouch.
Edited to add:  I talked to my friend yesterday.  She said they spent $800 to $1000 just to have the Tox-eol bait traps put around their house.  The cost is determined by the number of traps they say you need based on how large your structure is.  Now they pay $250 a year to have the traps checked monthly.  Double ouch.

The termites serve a purpose in nature, being part of the decomposition cycle.  That doesn't mean that I like them.  And even though I try to do the green thing, I'm not willing to risk my home and hard work by spraying with soapy water and keeping my fingers crossed. Termites were in a couple areas on our property when we bought it, so we considered it a 'known termite area' and acted accordingly.

After we got our foundation done, I bought several boxes of borax (20 Mule Team, Borateem) and threw it all over the crawl space area plus inside and outside of the foundation (before and after backfilling).  One neat thing about borax is that it keeps working for 2-3 years after it gets wet vs. DE that is ineffective after it gets wet.  A couple years later we were in the crawl space and saw one spider, that's it.  I was impressed. 

Fast forward two years and we're adding on to the side of the house and attaching to the old garage.  Bill thought he saw active termite activity on the back of the garage.  *Sigh*  So we called the local pest control guy and paid him $700 to treat the outside of the house and garage.  Come to find out, it wasn't termites that Bill saw.  I wished I would have done the borax thing around all the outbuildings and then just kept an eye on them, you know?  But at the time, we thought we'd be tearing it down in the future.

I learned from the termite guy that ants hate termites.  In the areas where we know there was active termite activity, there was also major ant activity.  He also told me that the purchased termite baits were 'iffy'.  Sometimes they worked, other times they didn't.  Well, he also makes a living spraying and doesn't live in the cheap seats in town, either.  But if they are 'iffy', I might as well make my own and check them myself.

So, instead of doing commercial bait traps, here's how to make your own.  Simple stuff.  First, dig a hole at least a foot deep, about 6' away from your building.  Throw in a chunk of wood, like a hunk of scrap 2x4.  Put a short piece of 1" PVC or any kind of metal pipe in the hole.  You want it to be long enough to reach the wood yet short enough so it's not really sticking out of the ground too far.  Pour sugar water on the wood, let it soak for a bit, then fill the hole back up with the dirt. The only reason for the pipe is so you have some way to add some more sugar water every once in a while.  PVC will degrade over time in the sun, but use what you have around there.  If your bait trap is in an area where you mow, obviously you want it short enough to mow over it, or have it stick way out and mow around it.

If there are termites around there, they will be attracted to the wet wood.  The sugar will attract the ants initially and they'll take care of the termites.  Next year, dig up one and see what ya got.  No termites and ants?  Good deal.  Put the trap back together.  Repeat on the next trap. The traps aren't going to create termites, but hopefully if there are any in the soil, they'll aim for the trap instead of your house.

Is this a sure fire thing?  No.  Will termites that are already in your building leave for the homemade trap?  No.  But it's cheap, green and it might save you a few bucks.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

And even more ways to save money

Here's a few more things to save money - I don't think I've listed them before, but a million other bloggers have...

Crank out the vacuum cleaner and hit the things you normally don't think about vacuuming - the refrigerator and freezer coils, anything with a fan.  This one I probably have listed before.

Canned air is great for some things, but not always great for your computer.  I use the vacuum instead (sucks dust out instead of blowing it deeper inside of some sensitive parts) BUT use some caution.  You don't want to suck out any sensitive part, either.  I put my hand loosely over vented areas and then vacuum on top of that hand.  Bill (on the other hand) just goes to town with the vac.  He had to retrieve his keyboard's G key from the bag one time.

Replace the furnace and a/c filters often.  We buy the cheaper ones and try to remember to replace it once a month.

Save your sugar and flour bags.  Cut off the bottom and up one side and you have a heavy, flat sheet that can be used to drain bacon, etc.  I was using a coffee filter for a while, but it's just not quite big enough.  We have bacon a lot during tomato season, so now I'm going to save all those bags during the baking season.

Do you buy cold cereal in boxes?    All of the following I found at http://frugalforlife.blogspot.com/ .  The link is to her home page.  It's a pretty interesting read.

Here's what you can do with the wax paper liner:


Store bread ends for bread crumbs
Cut to the size of your cake and then put the frosted letters on the liner and freeze, then peel off the letters and place on your cake
Roll into a funnel and pour your spices into the little jars
Crush nuts and graham crackers in them
Use as a cover for nuking items in the microwave
Line the top of cabinets that don't go to the ceiling for easier cleanup
Cover your cutting board with a liner or two to cut down on meat juice soaking into the cutting board
Wrap a piece of liner around the cork to cooking wine for easier removal
Use in freezer to protect food products from moisture and preserve freshness
Easy to wash and reuse due to their sturdiness
Freeze meat in them
Place food on to cool, such as cookies
Use for your lunch to place your sandwich in
Roll out your pie or cookie dough on an opened bag
Use to separate meat, cheese and other food products
Cover your hand and push down rice krispy bars


Now as for the cereal boxes here are a few items to try:

The standard use as a magazine holder. Just cut diagonally in half.
Cut them up into hundreds of bookmarks, punch a hole in the top and add a ribbon
Open them up, tape the creases open and you have a temporary placemat or something to color on.
A mystery gift box for clothing
Fill with shredded paper and use as a lightweight box filler when shipping
Give them to kids for playing house and shopping
Great for the block builder in your family, and cheaper too.
Cut off the back and flaps and use as a temporary tray
Store your plastic bags, printer paper and other desktop items
Use them as backing in frames for posters and pictures
A quick file folder or mouse pad

Monday, August 15, 2011

How to make rose petal jewelry


I saw a rose petal necklace years ago.  It was at least 40 years old and still had the rose fragrance.  The beads were matte black and rolled into several sizes, then strung with fake white pearls in between. 

All you need is a bunch of rose petals, water and time (this isn't a last minute gift idea).  It doesn't matter if the petals are fresh or not.  Even dried roses that are ancient will work. For the black beads, use a cast iron pan. Lighter shades will result in a lighter bead.

If you're of the artsy-craftsy nature, this sure would be a unique thing to have or wow!  Talk about a special gift!  You sure don't have to string a necklace like this, do what you like.  You'll have what is basically a pan full of clay-type stuff, so play around! 

Here's a link that gives you the basics to make these simple, yet elegant beads:

This gal's blog has pictures and a more updated way to do it, using a food processor and dehydrator:

A search on Google Images will show you what other artists have created (past and present).

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Switchel - A different way to drink that ACV

I first saw this recipe on the Sufficient Self website.  I tried it, tweaked it for my own personal taste (less ginger and for sure NOT the oatmeal) and now I'm hooked on the stuff.  I also use my homemade apple cider vinegar as it has a bit more apple-y taste.

I'm doing a copy and paste from Hillbilly Housewife:

Switchel
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (yes vinegar)
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup sugar or honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal (optional)
  • tap water to make 2 quarts
This is a very old recipe, imported from our Yankee neighbors to the north, and before that, from Nova Scotia. Did you ever wonder what folks used to drink in the days before soda pop, and when lemons were out of season? Why Switchel of course. Instead of lemon juice, it uses a tangy combination of flavorful apple cider vinegar, molasses and ginger to make a summertime treat which will whet your whistle better than any modern thirst quencher I’ve ever run across.

First get out a two quart pitcher. Measure the vinegar, molasses, sugar or honey and ginger into it. Add cold tap water to fill. Stir to dissolve everything and serve in tall ice filled cups. Traditionally, oatmeal was also added to the mixture, to give it a little body, and improve the flavor. I am ashamed to say I have never prepared it with the added oatmeal, so if anyone does, please let me know what you think. This beverage takes a little getting used to. It is strongly flavored, nothing bland about it. It tastes best when it has mellowed overnight, blending the ginger with the molasses. It does quench your thirst better than anything else on a hot summer day though, and of course, costs next to nothing to prepare. I have also tried heating it in the winter time and drinking it as a hot toddy, it is actually quite delicious this way.

Barb:  Blogger still has issues (that might never go away!!), so I'll continue to add my comments up here. 
Yes, I use a lot less ginger than the recipe, too.  I was even thinking that maybe this winter I'd try it heated (without the ginger) and add some cinnamon to a cup.  My theory on stuff like this is that it can't be any worse than bad.  :o)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

What I'm doing with the potato harvest

We're digging spuds again.  Since we had so many volunteer plants, they are in all stages of growth.  Not necessarily a bad thing, you know?  I like to take plenty of breaks while I have stuff going.

So right now, I have 3/4 gallon of milk in the slow cooker destined to be yogurt, potatoes cooking in the microwave and potatoes cooling on the counter.  In a few minutes I'll start some dehydrated sweet potato treats for the dogs (edited to add that they aren't digging them.  O well).

I don't have a basement or cold room to store potatoes, so it's best for me to get them to the point where I can put them in the freezer.  Even if you didn't grow them yourself, if you snag a bunch on sale, here's what you can do that doesn't seem to heat up the kitchen too much:

Scrub potatoes that you're going to use right away as the peel comes off very easily when they are really fresh.
I take all the small potatoes, cut them in half or leave them whole if they're really small.  Spray a pie pan or other microwave safe shallow dish with cooking spray.  Put the potato pieces in the dish, spray them lightly with cooking spray and zap for around 8 minutes on high.  Let cool and freeze on cookie sheets (or in my case, pizza pans).  When frozen, put them in freezer bags, squeeze out the air and put them back into the freezer.  That way you can pour out as much or as little as you want and they won't all be stuck together.

The bigger potates get cut in half or quarters lengthwise, then sliced into chunks.  You can use whatever shape or size that you want, just make sure that they're all about the same size on the pan, and all the same size in the freezer bag.  You may need to adjust the time on the microwave, too.  More on the plate or bigger chunks require longer cooking time.  You just need to get them cooked about 3/4 of the way done.

The small whole potatoes (and halves) I use with roasts, pork loins, baked chicken.  I just put them in frozen when the meat is almost done.  The chunks I use when I make potato soup, cottage fries, etc.  I boil them for smashed potatoes as our bunch likes the peels in it.  I also have finished cooking them in the microwave or boiled them for potato salads.  The smaller chunks are used for southern style hash browns, other soups, etc.

You can also make a big batch of mashed potatoes and then freeze them in meal size containers.

If you don't mind turning on the oven, I have also cut long wedges of potato and diped them in melted butter.  When the pan is full, I sprinkled seasoned salt (use whatever you like) and baked at 400F until they just started to brown.  Cool and freeze in bags.

I've never tried freezing shredded potatoes.  A friend of mine tried it and the next day she had several bags of black, icky potato shreds.  I think she didn't cook them long enough but she swears that she did....??  So you're on your own with those.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Links for frugal recipes AKA eating on the cheap


“The remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served us nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.” ~Calvin Trillin  (Copied from another site, but I forgot where I saw it!)
______________________________________________

http://www.leftoverchef.com/  Wonderful site that lets you type in what ingredients you have around the house, then gives you recipes of what you could make with them.

http://busycooks.about.com/  Tons of info and recipes here.  One of my favorite sites to get the recipes to make your own convenience foods and so much more.


http://www.hillbillyhousewife.com/  Lots of recipes and information for the frugal minded.



These links should keep you busy for a while.  I'll post more as I come across them.  Let me know if you have some that are favorites of yours!

Tomato overload and lots of tomato paste

Yesterday morning I counted the tomatoes on my table.  51 of them, but not all of them were completely ripe.  Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful that I have them as this isn't the best tomato year for many of my friends.  I did the 'tinkle and sprinkle' fertilizing on them, but I sure can't tell people that around here.  :o) 

If you don't know what 'tinkle and sprinkle' is, it's diluted urine.  You have to get past the ewww part of it, but it sure seems to work.  I just whizzed in a bucket and added 10 parts water or so to every one part whiz.  I poured the diluted urine close to the plants when they were still smallish and then watered to make sure it wasn't too strong and to make sure some got down to the roots.  Now it's almost shocking how big and full my plants are compared to everyone else's around here.  Okay, enough talk of pee and back to the tomatoes.

I always shoot for growing enough to last us until next year's harvest.  I didn't get nearly enough tomatoes last year, but this year I might make it.  Yesterday I made 10 pints of salsa, 3 cups of ketchup (Heinz ketchup clone recipe) and 2 cups of pizza sauce.  The rest of the tomatoes are slated to be spaghetti sauce and more BLT's.

Two items that I always buy in the big, institutional size cans, are tomato sauce and tomato paste.  Where I live, it's a huge savings to buy the big can over a bunch of little ones.  The tomato sauce isn't too bad to deal with as I can ladel it into different size containers and pop them in the freezer.  The tomato paste is different.  You just usually don't need too much of it at a time.  I had to open the can as I use some in my salsa, then I just stared at the rest of it for a bit.  I'm rather low on little containers right now.  Then the obvious hit me (only took a few years) - I could just blop big spoonfuls out on some freezer paper or wax paper on a cookie sheet, freeze the blops and then store them in a couple gallon freezer bags. 

The ketchup and pizza sauce were afterthoughts.  Both use tomato paste.  We're a Hunt's ketchup family, but I haven't found a recipe that tastes close to Hunt's.  So I use the homemade stuff in cooking (goulash, meatloaf, etc) and save the pricey stuff for hamburgers or whatever.  The pizza sauce is fantastic, I could just eat it with a spoon.

Here's what I used:

I should add that I don't follow the pizza sauce recipe exactly.  I don't use anchovy paste nor do I add all the separate spices.  I love the taste of Tone's Spicy Spaghetti Seasoning, so I use a teaspoon or so of that instead.  I also use the parmesan/romano blend (the kind of powered cheese in the plastic jar), plus I simmer it for a few minutes.  Use the seasonings that you love.

And the salsa?  Everyone seems to have a different opinion of what 'good' salsa should be.  Mine is thicker, no chunks with a touch of sweetness.  After cooking, I let it cool and then hit it with the stick blender.  I used to can it, now I just put the jars in the freezer.

20 - 22 peeled and cut up tomatoes
Two 6 ounce cans of tomato paste

OR

An institutional size of tomato sauce

Then add:
3 big onions
2 bell peppers
1 cup of white vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup salt
9 to 14 jalepenos, half with seeds (more or less, depending on heat level desired)

Rough chop all vegetables (except tomatoes) in food processor.  Mix all ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes.  Can in jars or freeze.  Makes about 10 pints.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Homemade Orange Oil Cleaner and Cleaning Paint Brushes!

I have a new appreciation for orange peel.  Usually I just throw the peels into the garden or if I need a major sugar fix, I'll make candied orange peel.  A couple of months ago I decided to try making Orange Oil Cleaner. 
*There is another post about ways to use orange and other citrus peels, too.*

It sure was simple enough.  I filled a glass quart jar with orange peels and poured white vinegar to the top of the jar.  Screwed on the lid, put it on a shelf away from light and I was done.  Every so often I gave the jar a shake. After about a month, it was starting to look thicker, and since I had more orange peel, I filled another quart jar with them.  Recipes vary, but from what I read, you're supposed to wait up to three months before you use it.  Just strain the liquid into your container of choice, then cut it with up to 10 parts water when you're ready to do some cleaning.

If you're going to use it in a spray bottle, you need to strain it really well.  Try a coffee filter.

You don't have to eat all those oranges at one time.  Just add the peels (and more vinegar) as you get them.  It also doesn't have to be just oranges.  Any citrus fruit will work - grapefruit, lemons or limes.  If you just want a small batch, put the peels of one piece of fruit into a quart jar, add vinegar, wait at least a couple of weeks and then cut it with 3 parts of water when you're ready to use it.

Okay, so now I have two jars of weird looking orange peels.  On another shelf I had two good paint brushes that were ruined.  One I had used with urethane and didn't get all of it cleaned out (I hate that stuff).  The other I had used with oil base primer and it was drying before I tried to clean it off the brush.  (I really hate that stuff.)  I had tried soaking them in straight vinegar and had no results, but for some reason, I still hadn't thrown them away. I figured that I had nothing to lose, so I stood both brushes in a wide mouth mason jar and poured in some of the orange cleaner without adding water.  I added just enough to cover the bristles of the brushes.  I put the jar into a couple of plastic grocery bags, wrapped them around the top of the jar, trying to make a seal around the handles of the paint brushes.

The brushes have been soaking for three days now.  I just checked them and voila!  Both are bending when I push down on them!!  There are bits of primer in the solution now, so it's gradually taking that off the brush.  I'll check them again in a couple days.  With some luck, I'll be able to salvage the brushes.

I'll post the end results.

Update!  2-4
Well, the brushes are toast.  I did check them about a month after I put them in the orange oil cleaner.  They were a little better, but I doubted that I was going to be able to salvage them.  Then I forgot about them.  Now months later, most of the orange oil has evaporated despite my efforts to make it as air tight as I could.  More of the urethane came off, but the metal parts of the brushes are naaasty.  Amazing what vinegar will do to some metals.  :o)  I had read that you could get latex paint off brushes with vinegar, but if it's oil based?  Doubtful.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Cost of Working Calculator

Years ago I was working a job that I truly hated, but felt I had to keep since we needed the extra paycheck.  It was one of those things that I couldn't even enjoy my two days off, as one of those days was spent in dreading the following work day.

Then we did our taxes.  I was in the middle of check registers and paper shuffle when it hit me.  I went through the check registers (pre-debit card and computer era), adding up everything that I had spent for the year that was even remotely associated with my job.  Most of it was eating out because I was too tired and too disorganized to put a meal together.  There were a few checks written for clothing and I figured in the extra gasoline.

So, how'd I fare?  Drum roll please....I was actually clearing $1.35 an hour.  That sucked.  I don't know that it would have felt any better if I had actually loved the job.  I stuck it out for a few more months until I decided that I'd rather sit out on the curb with a 'will work for food' sign.

Here's a nifty little calculator that will help you decide if it's worth working a crappy job, or any job for that matter.  Make sure you subtract what you pay in taxes before you enter your amount in the 'net income' field.  http://www.anycalculator.com/costofworking.htm

This still won't give you the total picture.  There's the wear and tear on your vehicle to consider (oil changes, tires, tune ups).  Sure, you'll still have those expenses whether you work or not, but a set of tires will last you many years if you're only driving 5000 miles each year.  Okay, maybe you aren't in hermit mode like I am.  Last year I drove 1750 miles.  But you see what I'm talking about.

There's also the flip side to consider.  If your employer pays for part of a health insurance plan, you probably get cheaper rates from the group insurance plan.  Buying health insurance on your own is really expensive.  Or you can go without it.  Many people can't afford it.

Would you go nuts staying home?  I thought I would, but I was going nuts working crappy jobs, too.

Things are different today than what they were years ago.  The internet has tons of information available with some mouse clicking.  I could have learned how to save that couple hundred bucks that I was actually clearing each month and not stressed about it. 

Maybe this will help you decide if it's time to quit working for someone else, live a more self sufficient lifestyle, or if it's time to look for a better job.

Monday, August 1, 2011

And more dog food chat + homemade Frosty Paws recipe

As I said in a previous post, my neighbor has championship dock diving dogs.  These dogs are her life, actually ALL her animals are!  She made a comment the other day that her animal housing is always cleaner than her own house.  :o) 
She was the one that told me about the race meat at the local greyhound supply place.  The race meat is $0.49 per pound, packaged in 5 lb. tubes like what you see in the grocery store.  They have a fattier grade, called 'farm', that is $0.39 a pound, packaged in 10 lb. bags.  The fattier grade has about the fat that we see in 90% lean ground beef.  All this has a thick layer of charcoal laid down over the meat while it's ground so it sure isn't something that you'd want to throw on the grill.  I bought the cheaper grade for my first experience...and freaked out.  It smelled really weird and messing with a 10 lb. frozen chunk was just more than I wanted to deal with that day.

Anyway, she also told me that she orders a case of either pork or beef neck bones from the grocer's meat department.  I ordered 30 lbs of pork neck bones.  They were huge!  Another freak out day.  But they were $0.80 a pound.  Bill cut one in half on his band saw (or some kind of saw) and the boxers were in hog heaven (no pun intended) that evening.  The next day boxers were upchucking all over the house.  Oh joy.  So I browned up the remaining 29 pounds in the oven, then used every stock pot I had to make bone broth.  I was kinda hating pork there for a while.

The beef neckbones were better, kept the dogs occupied for two full hours and no one threw up.  I think Bill wanted to, though.  They were $1.39 a pound.

Now then, Stacy (my neighbor) feeds her dogs ANY vegetable, including cooked asparagus.  They are especially fond of canteloupe and other fruits.  This time of year she has to keep a closer eye on them as they have snagged cucumbers from her garden.

She feeds her dogs eggs.  The entire egg.  Cracked me up!  (Again, no pun intended.)  She just handed each dog an egg and told them to get off the deck.  They went down to the grass, cracked the egg and ate it, shell and all.  I offered my boxers a little pullet egg today.  They both sniffed at them, then stared at me.  That's okay, they got the inside, the hens will get the crushed shells later.

Barb mentioned in her comment that she gives her dogs yogurt.  It reminded me of a recipe for homemade Frosty Paws - and this sure is the time of year to make them!

32 fluid ounces vanilla yogurt
1 ripe banana, mashed or one (5 ounce) jar banana baby food  
2 tablespoons peanut butter 
2 tablespoons honey

Blend all ingredients together and freeze in 3-ounce paper cups.
Microwave just a few seconds before serving to your pooch.