Friday, April 30, 2010

Frugal Tip Friday: Baked potato night

Looking for a frugal meal option? Once a week, institute a baked potato night! Potatoes are cheap! You can buy a 10 pound bag for under $4.00 and have about 25 to 30 medium sized potatoes. You can also buy larger "baking potatoes" as well, just stay away from the ones individually wrapped in plastic to the "baked" in the microwave as they are super pricey. They are really easy to make and can be topped with just about anything!

Preheat your oven to 350'F.

Scrub your potatoes well using a nail brush or veggie brush.

Jab a fork about 1/2 inch into each potato about 2 places on each side and once on each end of every potato.

Rub each potato down with oil (olive, veggie, canola, bacon grease, lard, ect.)

Place into a shallow baking dish or on a cookie sheet, not touching each other.

Bake at 350'F for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. They are done when the skin is slightly wrinkly and a fork goes in smoothly (should feel like when you boil potatoes for mashing.)

Serve with any of the following:

  • bacon bits (homemade or store bought)

  • shredded cheese

  • sour cream (or plain yogurt)

  • salt

  • butter

  • broccoli

  • chives

  • salsa
  • Be creative!

You can also pair the potato with a side salad, a bowl of soup, or a cup of fruit. Bake a few extra while you are at it. They warm up great in the microwave for a light lunch the next day at work! Try a baked sweet potato. I usually bake some of each as my hubby likes the sweet potato and I can give some to my little "L" as she is starting solids and really enjoys making a mess on her tray with chunks of sweet potato!

This is frugal as potatoes are filling, inexpensive and yet still very yummy. You can add what ever toppings taste good for each family member and they are usually things you have on hand.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thankful Thursday: Week #12

~ my bread machine

~ midwives who will continue to answer your questions long after your baby is born

~ hot tea on cool mornings

~ random things that a baby will play with for hours (ie: plastic leg off an old laundry hamper, small pack of unopened baby wipes, unopened cross stitch kit, ect.)

~ Interchangeable knitting needle sets

~ bendable wire clothes hangers with 100's of uses

~ extended rear-facing car seats

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Quick Tip Tuesday: What's in the fridge?

How many times have you dug into the fridge to find something to snack on or to hunt for the tub of butter or just to clean it out and found a bowl of mystery food growing in a long forgotten corner? Or wanted some leftover that you thought was in there but now you can't find it?

No one wants to find fur developing in their fridge because they forgot they had put some leftover casserole in there! So, one way to solve this problem is to keep a running leftover list on your fridge. Below is a picture of ours. We use a very small dry erase board (we got ours free from the Realtor when we moved into our current rental but I have also gotten them from a baby expo, a competition my husband was in during high school, and I've seen them at Goodwill and Wal*Mart.) You can also just use a piece of paper stuck to the fridge!

Any time you put a new leftover in there, add it to the list. When you use something up, mark it off or erase it. Mine is fairly simple (unless I have been doing a lot of cooking and have lots of leftovers.) You can also do like my Mom does and write the date of when the item was put into the fridge so you know when it needs to be used up. You could also put how many (approximately) portions are left.

There has been more than once that I have used a leftover side dish for dinner the next day, saving me from making a whole other side dish. It is quick, easy and saves you from digging for that little container of beef stew that you think is in there when really it was eaten by your hubby at 2 in the morning the night before. :o)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Seeking your opinion

Hello to all of my readers! I hope this post finds you all well and feeling blessed this beautiful day! I was wanting to ask a favor of you all today, in order for me to serve you better as a blogger, I am wanting to find out what you do/don't like about my blog. Please, be honest! It will not hurt my feelings, no matter what you say! I just want to get a better idea of what my readers like, dislike, enjoy reading about, areas that need improvement, etc. Here a few sample questions that you might like to answer but feel free to write anything...

  1. What do you like about my blog?
  2. What do you not like about my blog?
  3. Anything you'd like to see more of?
  4. Anything you'd like to see less of?
  5. Any particular subjects you'd like for me to blog about?
  6. Anything I need to work on making better?
  7. What do you like reading about?

What are you interested in? (nutrition, recipes, crafts, frugal living, homemaking, meal planning, faith, child rearing, home birth, breastfeeding, whole foods, etc.)

So, if you'd just leave a comment that would be great! Or, if you want to e-mail me directly, you can send your responses to

I will keep an open mind to your suggestions and will be sure to follow your lead on the things you want to hear about. I am just trying to get an idea of where to take this blog, if it needs to be taken anywhere, or if it just needs to stay "as is."

Thank you so much for your time and for being my readers! Without you, well, no one would be listening so there really wouldn't be a point in me even writing this! :o)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Weekly Meal Plan: 4/25-5/01

Sunday lunch: Baked potatoes and side salad.

Sunday Dinner: Chicken noodles, mashed potatoes, cooked carrots and fresh bread

Monday lunch: Home made pizzas, salad, and green beans

Monday dinner: Pasta pinwheels, salad, and garlic bread

Tuesday lunch: Sloppy joes, home made potato wedges and cottege cheese

Tuesday dinner: Cheese-it chicken, home made mac and cheese, and peas

Wednesday Lunch: toasted cheese sandwiches and tomato soup

Wednesday dinner: leftovers

Thursday and Friday: leftovers, bean burritos, and baked potato

Saturday lunch and dinner: not sure yet because Zach has to work so it will come down to last minute on when he works.

Monster Cookies (Rarrr!)

Monster cookies! Called that because they are BIG cookies if you follow the recipe. You can make them smaller, but why would you want to? These have become a favorite around here as they are quick and easy to make and are super yummy!

  • 1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups baking mix (store bought or home made)
  • 1 cup oats (old-fashioned or quick cook)
  • 1 cup M&M's, chocolate chips, butter scotch chips, peanut butter chips, white chocolate chips or what ever you have on hands
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 375'F. In a large bowl, beat brown sugar, shortening and eggs till smooth. Stir in remaining ingredients.
  2. On an ungreased cookie sheet, drop by 1/4 cupfuls about 2 inches apart. Flatten to about 1/2-inch thickness with the bottom of a glass that has been lightly sprayed with oil.
  3. Bake 12 to 16 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for about 3 minutes before trying to remove from the cookie sheet.

Makes about 1 1/2 dozen cookies.

This is what we chose to do with a few of our cookies. Yes, that's ice cream and it was GOOD! :o)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Frugal Tip Friday: Half Price Day!

Keep an eye out at your local thrift store for "Half Price Day." Most thrift stores will have one about once every three months or so. On this day, everything in the store is half off! The last one we went to, we got about 20 cloth napkins, 3 shirts for me, and a new baking pan for under $8!

Be aware though that you will NOT be the only one there looking for bargains! The place is usually packed to the gills. We couldn't even get a cart because they were all taken. So maybe think about leaving the little ones home with the hubs! :o)

But it is a great time to stock up on children's and adult's clothes, dishes, linens, decorations and much more! And many thrift stores' proceeds go (at least in part) to help local organizations. Frugal and good of the community!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thankful Thursday: Week #11

~ Dried beans- they are cheap, easy to make and ever so tasty!

~ My new tea pot. It whistles! :o)

~ Movie night with my hubby.

~ Early morning showers.

~ Old tin cans (perfect for growing herbs in)

~ Inner peace, no matter how rare.

~Bamboo knitting needles

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Quick Tip Tuesday: A (less) sticky situation

Next time you have a recipe that calls for honey use this quick tip to save you some frustration.

Spray the inside of the measuring cup or spoon that you are going to be using with a good layer of cooking spray. Or just rub it down good with some oil on your finger. Instead of sticking to the spoon like the last bits of honey usually does, it will run right on out! Saving you the trouble of having to scrape and scrape to get those last good drops out.

Monday, April 19, 2010

This weeks meal plan

This is something I've been meaning to get back into the habit of doing. I used to make weekly meal plans faithfully, but around the Super Bowl, Zach's schedule gets so messed up that I finally just gave up. Never knowing when he was going to be awake, at work, hungry or asleep made it very difficult to plan anything. So, I am getting back into the habit, I hope!

Zach is home for lunch Monday-Wednesday but then Thursday and Friday he works 3rd shift and isn't up in time to share any meals with me (he is eating his breakfast while I am eating my lunch) so those days I will just post what I am having for dinner. He also isn't here for dinner on Wednesday. On days that he works I usually just have leftovers for lunch.

Sunday dinner: black bean and rice casserole- this was a new recipe and, although I needed to add some more seasonings, we were quite pleased with it. I want to make it once more before posting the recipe so I can actually measure the extra seasonings I put in as I just kinda eye balled it last night. :o) We also had ice cream cookies using a new cookie recipe that I will also post in the coming future.

Monday lunch: green bean/sausage/potato stuff, buttered bread, tea and lemonade
Monday dinner: Chili sausage bake- new recipe, if it turns out good, I will post it!
(Just realized we are having sausage twice in one day. Will have to watch out more closely for that in the future!)

Tuesday Lunch: baked potatoes, light salad
Tuesday dinner: Lemon chicken, garlic and onion potatoes, and sweet peas

Wednesday lunch: toasted tuna salad sandwiches, deviled eggs, fruit
Wednesday dinner: Leftovers

Thursday: baked potato and soup

Friday: leftovers

Saturday: we will be gone all day on a local farm tour! Yeah! We are so excited about this! It should prove to be lots of fun and packed with information! For dinner I will probably plan a crock pot meal that can be left at home all day to cook while we are gone.

I usually do my meal planning on Friday morning and my grocery shopping Friday afternoon or Saturday with the hubby.

I would really like to get back in the habit of this! It saves us money, saves me time and keeps us from hitting fast food places for the convenience.

Garden Update

I thought I'd update you on how our garden was going so far. Below are a couple pictures of our starts as of yesterday. They are all looking good! Including the new squash seedlings that have popped up in the last few days and seem to double in size every day. Fast little guys!

These are the squash. Top left are the yellow squash, middle are the zucchini and the upper left are the cucumbers.

And here is a view of all of them. Bell peppers, cucumbers, yellow squash, zucchini, and three types of tomatoes (beef steak, Roma, and cherry.) All of these will be planted in plastic totes as we are renting and aren't allowed to plow up the back yard like the last place let us. :o) But I did a lot of research into container gardening when we lived in the city as we were planning to container garden on the balcony but then we found a new rental place with a yard before we had the chance to try it out. I am anxious to see how this goes! We are also planning to plant some large sun flowers along the back wall of the house to hopefully get seeds from. I've never done sunflowers before so we shall see.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Lovely Lemonade

Who doesn't love a cool glass of lemonade on a warm day? It is sweet, refreshing and ohh so yummy! So I thought I'd share my favorite (and easy) recipe.

1 1/4 cups lemon juice (fresh squeezed or from a bottle, 100% juice of course)
1 1/4 cups sugar or honey
1 gallon cold water
Lemon slices (seeded) for garnish, optional (though it does make a pretty garnish when you have company)

Pour the first two ingredients into a 1 gallon pitcher and stir till the sugar/honey is mostly dissolved. Add in the cold water till full. Either place the lemon slices floating on top in the pitcher or on the rim of each glass. Serve over ice or straight up.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Frugal Tip Friday: You can freeze butter!

Many people don't know that you can freeze butter. Real butter and "fake" butter (ie. Margarine). Stick butter and tub butter.

So when you find it on sale, buy it up and pop the extra in the freezer. When you are close to running out, just put it in the fridge to thaw. It takes about 24 hours. I tend to keep two sticks in the fridge at all times. When I use the last of one, I get out another. Simple as that!

This is frugal in that you can buy butter when it is on sale and it keeps well for about 3 months in the freezer so you don't have butter going rancid!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Thankful Thursday: Week #10

~ Whisks
~ Old (but still good) books
~ really nice sales associates
~ a good nights sleep
~my wrap sling
~hot showers
~ bananas

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Quick Tip Tuesday: I lost my car! Again!

Do you ever wish you could GPS your cars location in a parking lot? Maybe they just need to have grocery store valets?

Well, until the day this happens (not guessing it never will but hey, we can hope) here is a tip to help you locate your car in the vast sea of cars that look just like yours.

When you park, get out your grocery list and write on the top of it where you parked. The isle number, about how far back, if you were next to a cart corral, what side of the store you entered (if there is more than one entrance) ect. That way, when you are done shopping, just refer to the top of you list to know where you need to go.

Also, try to park next to a cart corral. This will majorly narrow down your hunt and makes things so much easier when you have a little one. You can place them, your purse, the diaper bag and still have a free hand to lock up the car and go.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Why are dandelions a bad thing?

Why do so many people have a problem with finding dandelions in their yards? What is so bad about them? They are pretty, easy to take care of, come back year after year, and cost nothing to care for.

Mind you, I understand why we don't like them in our flower beds and vegetable gardens. They choke out our "wanted" plants and take over the whole place in no time at all. They are hard to completely get rid of without coating all our plants in harsh, harmful, deadly chemicals and are a pain to try to pull up.

But why such a fuss over them in the yard? They are beautiful! Why fight them? Why fuss and holler and complain when year after year, they are just going to come back? Why not accept them and take them for what they are. A gift of beauty from our loving Father. Meant to be pleasing to the eye. They can also be pleasing to the mouth. Yes, you can eat them! Here is a great article (from one of my favorite bloggers) on the many uses of each part of the dandelion.

So weed them out, kill them off, spray them with weed killer, pluck them from every corner of your garden, yard and side walk. But as for my yard, they stay! :o)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Homemade Laundry Soap

Making your own laundry soap can be a great way to save your family money while still getting your clothes wonderfully clean. We have used homemade laundry soap (this recipe) for about 2 years now. It works great! Even on my husbands inky, stinky work clothes and on my daughters cloth diapers and clothes, with no allergic reaction. And she has sensitive skin! So here goes...

2 cups bar soap (Ivory-what we use, Fels Naptha, or Zote. You can't use just any soap. It has to be one of these as they are low-foaming)
2 cups borax (found in the laundry section of your local big box store)
2 cups washing soda (do not confuse this with baking soda, they are not the same thing. You can find this in the laundry section of many grocery stores or on-line)
Step 1: Grate the soap. You can use a cheese grater or a knife and cutting board. Just make sure you shave it into very small pieces! This is the most difficult and longest process of the whole deal and it only takes about 10 minutes! :o) Place the soap shavings in a 1 gallon ice cream bucket. Mine happens to be 5 quart, doesn't really matter much. Place the bucket in your kitchen sink.

Step 2: On the stove, heat 1 quart of water to a rolling boil. Pour into the bucket with the soap shavings and stir with a whisk till all the soap is melted. If there are a few small pieces floating, it's alright, they will eventually dissolve.

Step 3: Add in the borax and washing soda. Again, stir with the whisk till they are totally dissolved. At this point, it will look like slightly thinned icing. Note the picture below of it dribbling off the whisk. Looks good enough to lick off the whisk, but by all means, restrain yourself from doing so! It will only bring back bad memories of the first time you back talked your Grandmother! :-P
Step 4: (And this is why we put it in the sink) add in cold water till your bucket is full. Stir lightly with your whisk. You will get some bubbles but try to keep them to a minimum.

Mmm. Frothy goodness.

Step 5: Put on the lid and allow to sit for at least 24 hours. After that 24 hours, stir well again with the whisk. Make sure you label well!

Step 6: Mark on the back of the bucket three lines of equal portions. I did this with a ruler.
To use: Stir well and dip out 1/3 of the mix. Pour into a 1 gallon container. You can use another ice cream bucket, a glass pickle jar or an old laundry soap container (this is that I use.) Add in another gallon or so of water, what ever it takes to fill up the container. Every time you use it, give it a little shake or stir.
Use 1/4 cup per regular load. For high efficiency washers you can use even less.
Like I stated before, this works great! And it is cheap too! Less than $2.00 for the pre-mix which makes three containers full once diluted. I would guess that at about 100 loads or so. You can also add some drops of essential oils.
Tea tree- natural antiseptic
Lavender- for smell
Or any other scents you like.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Frugal Tip Friday: Bake in batches

In the picture: gronola bars, fresh bread, and 10 half-baked personal sized pizza crusts.
Not in the picture: loose gronola

My frugal tip for today is to bake in batches. As you can see from above, this day I baked a number of things. The loose gronola was first as it takes a low tempature. Then I had to plan out when the bread and pizza dough would get done rising and baked them one after the other. Next was the gronola bars, which I was mixing up as the pizzas were baking. Then I turned around and made a couple of those pizzas for dinner that night. All in all, my oven was probably on for 3 hours. But, there was no preheating for each item. I'd get one done and in would go the next one.

Also remember, during the winter, do your baking in the morning. That way it heats your house. In the summer, do your baking in the evening so you aren't running the A/C to cool off the house again. And when you are done baking in the winter, leave the oven door cracked and you'll have a toasty kitchen to do your clean up in!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Thankful Thursday: Week #9

~ Random parks found on long car rides to somewhere else

~ Family joining together for holidays

~ My parents

~ The prayer before a BIG holiday meal

~ Old dresses on new babies

~A church full of little ones dressed to the "nines"

~hiding Easter eggs (I think this is more fun than hunting them as a kid!)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Quick Tip Tuesday: Kerchief Tie

Mother/daughter hankerchiefs. Ok, so her's is actually a cloth napkin. :o)
I wear hankerchiefs a lot! At least a few days a week. They keep my hair out of my face and keep certian little hands from pulling the little hairs at the back of my neck quite so bad. :o)
So my tip for today is on tying the kerchief. Whenever I knot one on, the knot at the back of my neck often gives me a head ache. (I get frequent tension headaches.) And if at any point in the day I need to tighten the knot, it is a real pain.
So my solution is to instead tie it with a rubber hair tie or small rubber band. Pull the kerchief tight on your head and then twist it around the two tails till tight. Slip on your head and then if at any point during the day it needs tightened, simply pull gently on the two tails (much like you would to tighten a pony tail.)
This keeps it tight without having the big bump/knot at the base of the neck.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

Have a wonderfully blessed Easter!
May we all remember it is not about the eggs, the bunny, the basket, the frilly dresses, the candy or the large amounts of tasty food (although all these things are nice.) It is about our Lord, Jesus Christ, dying for our sins on the cross and being risen again. Spend some time with your family and celebrate the renewal of life again this spring!
We will be going home for the weekend so there will be no post on Monday.
I will be back first thing Tuesday morning!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Morning Glory Muffins

These turned out so good, I just had to share! They are packed with fruits, nuts, spices, and even a veggie. It's like an entire meal in a muffin. :o) Ok, so maybe you will have to eat something else with it but they are really good!
6 eggs
2 1/2 c. sugar
2 c. oil
4 c. grated carrots
1 c. coconut
1 c. raisins
1 c. chopped nuts
2 c. grated apples
4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
4 tsp. cinnamon
4 c. flour
Stir all ingredients together. Make as many muffins as desired, baking at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.
Note: This recipe makes quite a lot of batter. Extra batter will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks!
Yields: 4 dozen muffins.
I made a half a batch and baked them all in two mornings. The first day will take a while in prep to get all the ingredients shredded, chopped, together, and mixed, so allow yourself a good hour or so from start to finish. But then the next day(s) are super easy! Just pour however many muffins you want and bake! Or do like I did and bake them all in just a couple/few days.
These also freeze well! Bake them up, allow them to cool and then store in a freezer bag in the freezer. When ever you want them for breakfast or a snack, pull out the number you need and pop in the microwave for about a minute or in the toaster oven for a couple minutes.
Serve with butter or just dry and enjoy!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Frugal Tip Friday: Freeze Some Grapes!

My husband is a big fan of grapes. And although I like them, we just don't make it though a whole container before they go bad. My husband also loves frozen grapes. So when I find fresh grapes on sale, I buy them up! I will leave some out for him to eat fresh, the rest I freeze.

Pull all the grapes off the vines and place in a colander. Rinse well with cold water and then allow to dry, either in the colander or pour them out (carefully) onto a clean towel. Once dry, spread them out on a cookie sheet, they can me in more than one layer. Place on a level surface in your freezer for 12-24 hours. Try not to accidental dump them in the freezer. There are still a handful of grapes laying in the bottom of my deep freezer right now. :o) Once frozen, store them in a zip top bag.

My husband will get these out when he gets a sweet tooth instead of hitting the cookies or ice cream. They also work great in smoothies as a substitution for the ice.

This saves you money in two ways. You can actually buy frozen grapes, but they are usually more expensive than fresh. And it saves you from throwing away good grapes because you didn't get them all eaten before going bad.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Thankful Thursday: Week#8

~Rubber duckies

~Non-stick pans

Rice socks

~String and all it's many uses

~Knowing that we aren't "stuck" on this earth forever.
~Tears of joy
~The ability to learn something new each and every day.