Friday, May 28, 2010

Frugal Tip Friday: Sun Tea

When the weather gets warm and the days get longer, I love to use the power of the sun to make sun tea. Get out a glass jar of any sort. It can be a canning jar, a pickle jar, an actual sun tea pitcher, or what ever else you happen to have on hand. Place in however many tea bags you usually use (we use 7 for a gallon of tea), cover the bags with cool water, and set in a sunny place. This can be outdoors or indoors. Make sure that the top is covered with something. A lid, a plate, a wash cloth, just something to keep the bugs out. Allow to sit in the sun for a few hours. When the liquid inside is dark brown, bring it in a make your tea as usual. We do the 7 tea bags to one cup of sugar and 1 gallon of water. Refridgerate till cold.
This is a frugal option in that you are using no "man-made" energy to steep the tea. It is all done by the sun. And it tastes lovely!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Thankful Thrusday: Week #16

~ Cookouts with family
~ A church full of praising voices
~ Busy days
~ Running water
~ The library and all it's resources
~ Documentaries
~ Fans on hot days when I refuse to turn on the A/C

Friday, May 21, 2010

Frugal Tip Friday: Freeze your cheese!

Next time you happen to spot shredded cheese on sale, buy it up!

We use shredded cheese a lot in this house! What can I say? We like it! So I tend to keep quite a bit on hand. But I was still having the problem of it going bad before I could use it all. Until I learned that you can freeze it.

It is actually very simple! Just throw the bag of cheese, direct from the grocery store, into the freezer. When you want to use it, pull out the flavor/kind that you want, break it up a little and use just like you would if not frozen. If you are going to use the full amount in the bag, then you can allow it to completely thaw in the fridge for a few hours before making dinner. If using from frozen, it will take a little longer to melt. So if you are using it on say a baked potato, you may have to give it a few minutes or throw it in the microwave or warm oven to help it along. I use the frozen cheese in salads I send to work with my husband. By the time he gets his lunch at work, the cheese is thawed! And we never have to deal with moldy cheese again!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thankful Thursday: Week #15

~ Purny baby feet after a bath

~ Meals that bring back fond memories of lost loved ones. (Swedish meatballs and butterscotch pie this week. I miss you Grandma!)

~ Going to a yard sale and buying a cast iron skillet for a dollar

~ Kombucha that turns out perfectly (google it!) :o)

~ Heirloom tomato plants (got all of ours planted!)

~ Baby teeth! ("L" got her first two teeth in 3 days! And she hasn't been super grumpy!)

~Productive mornings

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Quick Tip Tuesday: Easier bread slicing

It is hard to get fresh baked bread sliced thin enough for our liking. If we are planning to eat it warm, slathered in butter or jelly, it's not a big deal. But when it comes to sandwiches, we like it to be as thin or thinner than store bought. So I have discovered how to do just that.

Allow the fresh loaf of bread to cool completely on a wire rack. When it is totally cooled, place into a zip top baggie and the put it into the fridge over night. This "firms" up the bread. Then slice it into your thin slices. The bread is firm enough to slice yet still soft and yummy!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Weekly Meal Plan: 05/15-05/21

I am late getting this done this week. I've had a couple "feeling pooy" days and just didn't get it done. Have to go to the grocery store tomorrow afternoon to do the shopping for the week. Not my idea of a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Lesson learned?

Saturday dinner: BIG pizza. I happened to find one of those huge pizzas you can get at the grocery store on sale (it was "out of date" the next day) for $3.00! They are originally like $10. BBQ chicken. Yum!

Prep for Sunday: thaw ground turkey

Sunday lunch: Left over pizza? I am not kidding, this thing is huge! :o) Or maybe a freezer meal?

Sunday dinner: Swedish meatballs (making a double batch to freeze 1/2 for later use), mashed potatoes, cooked carrots and fresh bread. May come up with a special dessert. I need to get back into the habit of that. If all else fails, cookies and ice cream!

Prep for Monday: cook hard boiled eggs, thaw chicken breasts/thighs

Monday lunch: Tuna salad in homemade pita pockets, potato salad and hard boiled eggs

Monday dinner: Chicken tetrazini (making a single batch but freezing half for later use, one batch makes two 8x8 inch pans), peas, "daddy" potatoes and buttered bread.

Prep for Tuesday: soak beans, thaw chicken breasts

Tuesday lunch: Chicken fingers, mac and cheese, and Lima beans

Tuesday dinner: crock pot pizza beans

Prep for Wednesday: Check to see if first batch of kombucha is done!

Wednesday lunch: left over chicken fingers in pita pockets with lettuce, tomato, and honey mustard

Wednesday dinner, all meals for Thursday and Friday: Leftovers!

White chocolate chip cookies

These are just yummy! They are great warm, cold, with a glass of milk or broken up in a bowl of vanilla ice cream. A simple cookie with a great flavor! Chewy on the inside, crunchy on the outside. (This one's for you Christine! Hope you enjoy it!)


  • 1 cup butter, softened

  • 2 cups white sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (the powdered kind)

  • 1 tsp. baking soda

  • 1/2 tsp. salt

  • 1 2/3 cups white chocolate


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.

  3. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.

  4. Add dry mix into the wet mix a little at a time till all dry is used and the dough is well mixed. Fold in the white chocolate chips.

  5. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet, allowing for room to spread.

  6. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until cookies are set. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

The dough from the cookies freezes really well! I have some thawing on the counter right now to enjoy with some yummy raw goats milk! Mmm.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Frugal Tip Friday: New use for old coffee grounds

Next time you brew up a pot of Joe, don't just toss the used grounds. Instead, put them to work again. Sprinkle a layer on top of the soil of your house plants! They act as a natural fertilizer and insect repellent. You can also use them on your out door plants. Check with your local coffee shop (and isn't there one on every corner now?) Ask if they have can give you their used grounds. Most will willing pass them on to you for free and you can pick them up by the bag full!

So how is this frugal? By reusing something for another purpose, it usually is frugal, not to mention Eco-friendly. It also saves you from buying fertilizer and insecticide. Once again, also Eco-friendly as it saves those nasty chemicals from leaching into the ground. Unless of course you buy organic options. Then your good either way! :o)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thankful Thursday: Week #14

~Baby yawns. Sooo cute!
~Piles of fresh, clean, folded cloth diapers that smell of sun shine and spring breezes.
~One pan/pot meals
~Bath toys
~Morning cuddles with a sweet little baby
~Banana, yogurt and peanut butter "milk shakes"
~White school glue

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Quick Tip Tuesday: Double batch cookie dough

Next time you whip up a batch of cookies, make double! Roll the extra cookie dough into cookie sized balls, place on a cookie sheet covered in wax paper, and freeze for 24 hours. Place in a zip top bag labeled with the type of cookie they are and the bake time and temperature. Cookies that work great for this are...

  • Peanut butter (roll in the sugar before freezing)
  • Chocolate chip
  • Short breads
  • Sugar
  • Snicker doodles (roll in cinnamon/sugar before freezing)
  • Chocolate white chocolate chip (pictured above)

When it comes time to bake the cookie: Take out how ever many you want, place on a lightly greased cookie sheet (unless the recipe calls for it not to be greased,) allow to thaw for about 20 minutes and bake like normal! *You may have to increase the bake time by a minute or two. Bake for normal time and then check for doneness.*

This also allows couples or families with just a few children not to have to bake an entire batch of cookies. Instead, you can make up the whole batch and only bake what you need right then. We usually bake 4 to 6 cookies at a time. This also makes for a great last minute dessert when unexpected company arrives for dinner!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Book Review: The Duggars: 20 and counting!

I just got done reading this book and I must say, I loved it! I have always been a big fan of the show and watched it faithfully each week till we got rid of cable TV. I miss the show! I think it is the only thing I miss about having cable. It was one of the few remaining good, clean shows to be found there.

Ok, so back to the book. I borrowed it from the library but now that I've read it, I know it is one that I would love to own. It tells the history of the family, how they got started with just Michelle and Jim Bob and how that family progressed into the large Christian family they are today.

I look up to them for a lot of reasons. They are faithfully following God's decree to them to allow Him to choose the number of children they have. They are raising those children in the way they see fit, not allowing the worlds views to effect what they know to be right for their family. They are home schooling ALL those kids. I have no idea how she does it! :o) And they are doing it all debt free!

I learned alot in reading this book. It was very informative and well written. There are lots of great recipes and teaching techniques and there are many resources in the back of the book that I intend to look into.

All in all, I would say it was a great read and would recommend it to any one interested in large families, raising God fearing children, frugality, household management, or just anyone looking for a clean, wholesome read.

Other books I have been reading recently include:

Miserly Moms (loved this book! Lots of great ideas on how to live on one income in a two income world.)

Wise woman herbal for the child bearing years (a great resource for safe, natural remedies before and during pregnancy, for birth support and while breastfeeding)

The Doll in the Garden (a childhood favorite of my sister and I's that I just happened to rediscover again.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Scalloped Asparagus

I have never like asparagus! In fact, it has always been on my "foods I hate" list. But the only way I'd ever had it was boiled till mushy. That's just the way my family had always fixed it. So when I came down with a UTI when pregnant with "L" and the midwives told me to eat lots of asparagus (as it is great for urinary tract health,) I went out looking for a recipe that sounded even remotely edible. I was not holding out much hope! Then I came across this recipe and was pleasantly surprised to discover that asparagus can actually taste good! Since then I have made this and other dishes using this lovely green sprig and am glad to say that asparagus (as long as it is not boiled till mushy) is no longer on my "foods I hate" list!

  • 3 cups fresh asparagus, trimmed (this is about one good sized bundle at the grocery store)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened/room temperature
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese
  • 1 cup bread crumbs


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Put all the asparagus (reserving a few tips for garnish) into a greased 8x8 casserole dish.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, milk and butter then pour over the asparagus.
  4. Sprinkle with the cheese and then the bread crumbs. Dress with asparagus tips.
  5. Brown at 425'F for 20 minutes till asparagus is tender but not mushy.
  6. Enjoy!

Makes approximately 4-5 servings.

Weekly Meal Plan: 05/08-05/14

Saturday lunch: leftovers (we had more this week than I could get though on the days Zach worked so this will be "clean out the fridge" day.)

Saturday dinner:
Lemon garlic drumsticks, creamed spinach, and corn

Sunday lunch: Tuna salad in home made pita pockets, cottage cheese, and hard boiled eggs and probably a fruit

Sunday dinner: Roast chicken with potatoes, lemon and asparagus, served with brown rice

Monday lunch: Beef taco skillet and salad

Monday dinner: Chicken enchiladas (making a double batch to have an extra batch to put in the freezer)

Tuesday lunch: Tacos and blue corn tortilla chips with salsa

Tuesday dinner: Crock pot Lima bean casserole

Wednesday lunch:
Baked potatoes with broccoli and cheese

Friday, May 7, 2010

Frugal Tip Friday: Cloth napkins

Today's frugal tip is to start using cloth napkins. We just started using these a few months ago and we are loving it! They are easy to use and wash and are really rather inexpensive to buy! We got all of ours at Goodwill on a half off day. We got between 20 to 30 napkins (in four colors/patters) for about $4.00. As you can see below, they aren't the prettiest selection in the world, but for every day use it doesn't really matter. We also have a nice set in dark green for when we have company over for a nice dinner. You could also very easily make your own if you have a surger. I don't, so I bought mine ready made.
We keep our in a small basket on the table, just like we did with the paper napkins before and where they can be easily gotten to when I set the table. I wash them with our towels and they actually enjoyable to fold, but I've always enjoyed folding towels (though I can't say the same for the rest of the clothes.) We also tend to use one napkin for all three meals as they just don't get "dirty" very quickly, but that also depends on what we are having. Fried chicken usually means for a messy napkin by the end of the meal. :o)
They also have many other uses. I have covered up leftovers in the fridge with them instead of using plastic wrap or foil. I have used them to play peek-a-boo with a baby at the dinner table to keep her entertained for just a few more minutes while Mommy finishes her meal. I have used them as a baby head scarf in play. They work great for wrapping up things to go into a picnic basket (cookies, bread, a sharp knife, hot sandwiches wrapped in foil then in a napkin to keep them warm, ect.)
Cloth napkins are frugal in that you don't keep buying and throwing away paper ones. Just imagine yourself throwing away a penny or two every time you toss out a cloth napkin.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Thankful Thursday: Week #13

~ Library books

~ Snoods

~ Big, beautiful families to gain knowledge and encouragement from

~ Nursing bracelets

~ Wind chimes

~ Thunderstorms

~ Babies that sleep right through thunderstorms

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Quick Tip Tuesday: Hand Soap Plus

Do you ever have greasy hands from cooking that your regular hand soap just doesn't have enough umph to get clean but you don't want to loose the softness and nice smell that it gives you in exchange for using your dish soap to get them clean? Well, there is a solution!

In my regular hand soap pump, I keep a mix of 1/2 hand soap and 1/2 dish soap for scrubbing my dirty kitchen hands. You get the power and grease fighting of the dish soap and the smell and softness of the hand soap all in one! Just pour about equal parts of each into the soap bottle, replace the pump and shake for a minute or so.

This mix also works great on my husband's hands after he has been working on the cars!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Extended rear-facing carseats

On last weeks Thankful Thursday post, one of the things I was thankful for was "extended rear-facing car seats." After I had posted this, I realized that many people may not know what this is. Some of you may wonder why we are choosing to do this.

Well, this is actually something that I had never heard of until after our little "L" was born. I always thought that once she out grew the infant car seat that she would be put into a forward facing car seat and that's just how it was. So when I heard the words "extended rear-facing" I was intrigued.

After much research, talking to parents who choose to extend rear-facing their children and seeing video of how a child's body reacts in a typical car crash, I was convinced.

Typically, an infant is kept in a rear-facing car seat (usually one that has a base and carrying handle) until they are 20-25 pounds or 1 year of age. This has been the "norm" for a long time. Well, new research (this is just one of many studies) is showing that extending the time a child is rear-facing for as long as possible is actually safer and causes less injuries and deaths. This extension is done by placing a child into a rear-facing convertible car seat after they have out grown their rear-facing infant car seat or starting them in one to begin with.

There are now many models of extended rear-facing car seats of choose from. They range in price from $120 to upwards of $400. We have found a great one that is rear-facing from 5 to 40 pounds then turns forward-facing up to 65 pounds for about $140 (look on Wal*marts website for this price.) This will mean "L" will be rear-facing till she is 3 to 4 years old (unless she out grows it in height first) and then turn forward-facing, in the same seat, till she is ready for a booster seat.

Here is a great sight for more information on the benefits of extended rear-facing. Please, look over the whole site, it's a good one! And here are the recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics on child safety seats.

So, that is why we are choosing to do this. We may be called weired (wouldn't be the first time, won't be the last) but I will feel good knowing that my child is in the safest place possible when we are out and about!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Weekly Meal Plan

Saturday lunch: "L" and I are going to the Indianapolis Children's Museum with a dear friend of mine and her brood of three handsome fellas. Going to have a simple picnic lunch there.

Saturday dinner: taco salad

Sunday lunch: Italian chicken pasta

Sunday dinner: Pizza pasta pie and garlic bread

Monday lunch: picnic at the park with Daddy) toasted tuna salad sandwiches, cottage cheese, deviled eggs

Monday dinner: baked salmon, hard boiled eggs (mashed with butter on top), green beans, and fried potatoes

Tuesday lunch: baked potatoes and salad

Tuesday dinner: baked chicken, scalloped asparagus, and Lima beans

Wednesday lunch: chicken chunks, homemade mac & cheese, and peas

Wednesday dinner- Friday Dinner: leftovers

Sausage Chili Bake

This was on last weeks menu to try and I said if it was good, I'd post the recipe. So, it was evidently good! :o)

  • 1 pound smoked sausage, cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1 small onion, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder (or garlic salt, we just watch our salt intake)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) stewed tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can (15 to 16 oz.) kidney beans, undrained
  • 2 cups biscuit mix (store bought or homemade)
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs


  1. Heat oven to 350'F. Spray a 10-inch skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Cook sausage and onion in skillet for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion is tender. Spoon into ungreased 9x9 or 8x8 inch baking dish. Stir in garlic salt, chili powder, tomatoes and beans.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients until blended. Pour over sausage mixture.
  3. Bake uncovered 35 to 40 minutes or until crust is light golden brown.

Notes: There was quite a bit of liquid when it was finish cooking, though later the leftovers were less moist as some of the liquid was absorbed into the mixture. Next time I might drain a little of the juice off the tomatoes or beans. Also, the "pour over sausage mixture" is a joke. It is way to thick to pour! Instead, you have to spoon it on in lumps all over the top and then kind of spread it out. It will pretty well even out when it is baked. I also cut the sausage into smaller pieces. I cut it in half length wise and then sliced it into 1/4 inch thick pieces. I also used a little less than a pound and we didn't miss it. Between the beans and the sausage, I figured it was plenty of protein!

Makes 6-8 servings. Serve with green beans, a side salad or just by itself. Either way, it was quite tasty!