Saturday, January 30, 2010

Restocked Coupons Today!

When I checked on a little while ago I noticed that they had restocked the dairy coupons! That includes the $1.00 off 2 pounds of cheese, $.75 off of any 1 (32 oz.) or 4 (any size) yogurt, and I was able to reprint the save $1.00 when you buy 2 packages of Kraft or Cracker Barrel natural cheese. Don't forget to print them each twice! Last time I used my Albertson's doublers with my cheese coupons and with the sale price of 2 pounds of cheese for $2.99 I ended up purchasing 6 pounds of cheese for $.49 a pound!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Handy Invalid Care Tips!

Just a couple quick tips today! I brought hubby home from the hospital today. He was desperately in need of a bath, but he can't get his cast wet for 21 days. Wrapping his leg in a garbage bag and having him stand in the shower with the injured leg away from the water took care of that (wrapping a towel around the top of the garbage bag and duct taping it in place helps absorb drips and keeps water from running under the bag). Unfortunately, he is taller than me so washing is hair and upper extremities was causing the soapy water from the shower to run down my arms and drench my shirt. I took a couple of old crew socks, and cut the stretchy top part off. I put those on each forearm, and viola, it absorbed the drips! The crew sock trick would work great with toddlers who want to feed themselves. Use a couple mismatched kids socks the same way to absorb food drips. Also, the hospital sent us home with a couple of ice bags to use. They are long and skinny with ties on the ends. Very handy, but a stinker to fill with crushed ice. After dumping more ice on my foot than in the ice bag, I wised up and used my canning funnel. A canning funnel is designed to fit into the opening of a regular mason jar, allowing the produce to be placed easily into the jar. Well, it also fit perfectly into the opening of the ice bag allowing the ice to slide in easily (and not all over the floor). If you need to make your own ice pack, fill a quart sized freezer bag with 1 part alcohol to 2 parts water. Make sure the bag is completely sealed and freeze flat in the freezer. The alcohol will keep it from freezing solid. Making it much easier to form around the injury (wrap a hand towel around the ice pack to avoid frost bite). They are reusable; just place in the freezer to refreeze. Hopefully, you won't have to use these handy ideas on any of your loved ones, but it's good to be prepared....just in case!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Dry Onion Soup Mix Recipe

My darling hubby had surgery this morning to repair a fractured knee cap (moral of the story: DO NOT STEP IN THE PUDDLE IN THE PARKING LOT, IT MIGHT BE ICE INSTEAD!) While I was in the waiting room during his surgery I thought I would do a little menu planning to get organized, since I will have an invalid on my hands for the next three weeks. I was looking through my copy of "What's For Dinner?" by Jana Schofield ( another Tightwad Mom's Frugal Book Pick, by the way) when I came across her recipe for making your own dry onion soup mix. I have a lot of recipes that call for this particular ingredient, but it's kind of pricey. Not to mention, that I have been out on more than one occasion (usually, right when I'm in the middle of throwing the recipe together). So, I thought I would share. I'm going to buy the ingredients in the bulk section at the grocery store, and mix up a triple batch, so I'll always have some on hand.

Dry Onion Soup Mix

3/4 cup beef bullion powder (or beef soup base powder)
1 cup minced dry onion
1/8 teaspoon onion salt (or plain salt)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup onion powder

Mix together and store in a jar (a clean empty peanut butter jar would work great). 1/4 cup mix = equals 1 package of onion soup mix. Note: I think I will add 1 tablespoon garlic powder into my mix.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Warm Banana Cobbler

Holy Moses! I have to share this recipe with all of you! I made Warm Banana Cobbler for dessert tonight. I had some bananas that were freckly (see I can turn this into a frugal post). I wanted to try something new, and my family is getting sick of banana muffins or pancakes every time the bananas get ugly (which seems like about every fourth day). I must also confess that I make the crappiest banana bread......EVER!! I was hankerin' to do a little baking, and I found this recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks ("Better Homes and Garden's 9x13 The Pan That Can). If your a banana fan you have got to try it; it is FABULOUS! I made a few tweaks by adding some nutmeg, and cinnamon. I also added an egg into the batter to give it a richer flavor. I also omitted the nuts (they make my tongue break out). My dear hubby gave it a double thumbs up, so it must be a winner (he's picky and not afraid to voice his opinion). I'm telling you it tastes like heaven! Anyway, drum roll please.......

Warm Banana Cobbler

1 1/2 cups self rising flour, divided ( just mix 1 1/2 cup flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, and 3/4 teaspoon salt together in a small bowl. It is exactly the same thing)
1 cup oatmeal
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
3/4 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 cup butter melted
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
4 ripe bananas
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 butter
1/2 cup nuts (optional)

In a medium bowl stir together 1 cup self rising flour, granulated sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg. Add in milk, melted butter, egg, and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Pour into a greased 9x13 inch pan. Slice bananas over the top of the batter in a single layer. In a large bowl combine butter, 1/2 cup self rising flour, oatmeal, and brown sugar. Stir to combine. Cut in the 1/2 cup of butter until crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over bananas. Bake at 375 for 30 - 35 minutes. Let cool for 30 minutes, and serve while it is still warm with ice cream.

The perfect treat for a cold winter night! Enjoy!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Yummy Fry Bread Recipe

Navajo Tacos are an easy and cheap dinner idea. Basically it's a scone or fry bread topped with chili, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes (in season), sour cream, and salsa. My hubby served a church mission on the Navajo Indian Reservation. A little Navajo grandma took a liking to him, and gave him her family recipe. Thought I'd share it. The trick to light fluffy fry bread is to let the dough rest for as long as possible. I like to whip a batch up before church and let it sit while we are gone ( I have let it set for up to four hours before). This recipe makes quite a few, but my family gobbles them up as fast as I can fry them!

Fry Bread

6 cups all purpose flour (or 4 cups all purpose flour and 1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk
2 - 2 1/4 cups water

Combine dry ingredients. Whisk together milk and water. Add to dry ingredients and mix together until a soft dough forms ( it will be sticky). Place in a greased bowl. Cover bowl and let rest for at least a half an hour. Pinch balls of dough the size of golf balls and stretch out flat. Fry in two inches of hot oil (if you strain the cooled oil through a mesh strainer and refrigerate, you can reuse it a second time) until light brown; turn over and fry the other side. Serve as a Navajo Taco or with jam or honey.

Friday, January 22, 2010

School Lunch Ideas

Yikes! They just announced in our newspaper that our school district is raising school lunch prices another nickel. That may not sound like much, but it is already $1.85 for elementary school and $1.95 for secondary school. Times that by 2 children @ $1.85 and 2 children @ $1.95 it comes to $7.60 a day or $38.00 a week. That's about half of my weekly grocery budget! Not to mention I question some of the "healthy" lunch items that they serve.

If you are like me I run out of creative lunch box ideas quite often. I have one child that ate a bagel with cream cheese, half an apple, and a granola bar every day for half of the school year, but the other three are all about variety. I picked up a lunch box for my Star War's fan for a $1.00 at Deseret Industries. My 14 and 10 year old's lunchboxes came from the clearance table at Fred Meyer's. One cost $3.00 and one cost $2.50. I also bought a refillable thermos on the same clearance table for $1.25, and a couple at Deseret Industries for $.25 each . It's not cool to pack a lunch box in High School so my oldest son brown bags it, literally. It was an initial investment, but I think I have recouped the cost. My only dilemma was how to send beverages in their lunches. None of the lunchboxes came with thermoses, and Capri Suns and juice boxes are to expensive to do all the time.
After much brain storming I came up with these (I had to show you the thermoses, too.):
The frozen juice container is the perfect size (about 12 oz.) to send milk or juice, and it has a screw top, which is perfect for my 10 and 8 year olds. Fewer leaky messes when the lunch boxes come home! Anyway, here I are a few ideas for filling up your kid's lunchboxes.

Main items:
1. sandwiches made with leftover chicken, turkey, or roast.
2. spread a tortilla with peanut butter, drizzle with little honey and roll around a banana
3. PB and J rolled up in a tortilla
4. a bagel spread with flavored cream cheese ( I buy plain whipped cream cheese and blend strawberry or raspberry freezer jam into it to make flavored cream cheese; much cheaper than buying it ready made at the store).
5. homemade lunchables made with cheese slices and canadian bacon, pepperoni, bologna, or lunchmeat (cut the meat and cheese into fun shapes with a small cookie cutter) with crackers
6. leftover fried chicken
7. peanut butter and apple slices ( they sell tiny storage containers at Dollar Tree that are the perfect size for sending condiments in lunch boxes)
8. yogurt and graham crackers (my kids like to scoop the yogurt with the graham crackers)
9. Spaghettios (warm up and placed in a thermos)
10. leftover chili or soup in a thermos
11. basically any leftover warmed up and put in a thermos (not such a big hit with the little boys, but my daughter loves it)
12. cubes of cheese and pretzel sticks (my kids like to spear the cheese with them)

Side items:
1. applesauce and graham crackers
2. pretzels
3. apple slices (dip in 7 up or lemon juice if you kids are weird about brown apples)
4. any fruit in season
5. carrot and celery sticks or pickle slices with ranch dip
6. homemade trail mix
7. canned fruit sent in a reusable container (pineapple and mandarin oranges are very popular at my house)
8. tortilla chips and salsa

1. homemade muffins
2. homemade cookies, cake, or brownies
3. banana, applesauce, or pumpkin bread
4. jello or pudding (make your own and put in a washable container)
5. granola bars
6. flavored popcorn or carmel corn
7. yogurt covered pretzels
8. homemade fruit leather

Beverages (I always fill the containers 1/3 of the way full with milk or juice the night before and place in the freezer. In the morning I add more milk and the powder milk mix and shake it up good, or add more juice. By lunch time it has thawed enough to drink, but keeps the beverage cold:
1. chocolate milk
2. strawberry milk
3. orange or apple juice (made from concentrate, then you'll have the fabulous containers)
4. ice water
5. hot chocolate (fill the thermos with boiling water and send a cocoa packet. Add a leftover candy cane to stir it with)

Happy lunch packing everbody. Hopefully this post will save you a little money and give you some different ideas for lunchtime!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Hooray! It's Baking Day!

Today I decided to do a little baking. It all started with the bread. We are on our last loaf so I started a batch this morning. While it was rising I decided to make some brownies for lunches. Then I thought maybe I should make some muffins for snacks or breakfast for the next couple of days. While I was at it I might as well make a double batch of cookies, right? The oven was already heated up, so I might as well. When I was all done I ended up with:

1. Six loaves of whole wheat bread ( one loaf went home to Uncle Matt's house)
2. Two dozen Cranberry Almond Muffins (recipe is located in the older posts; if your interested)
3. One pan of Reese's Pieces Brownies (I had to use up all the extra Reese's Pieces from my race car making stint)
4. Ten dozen Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies ( if you have Shredded Wheat crumbs laying around replace some of the oatmeal in the recipe for an equal amount of crushed Shredded Wheat)

It took a total of five hours start to finish, but we have home baked treats for a few days ( I hope). Baking from scratch is so much cheaper, and healthier than buying them from the store. Now my kids (and the neighbor kids, and my brother in law, and my nephews) think I'm the coolest mom on the block (for a minute). Plus, I like to bake, so for me it's cheap therapy.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My Eyeglass Drama!

When it rains it pours! So last month we dealt with plumbing problems (check out my older posts for that FUN story). This month it has been various car repairs. What can I expect from a 12 year old well loved Suburban ( I refuse to buy a new one because they cost more than my first house did, and that seems wrong, somehow!) However, I love my Suburban, lots of room to haul my children (and children's friends), groceries, thrift store and yard sale finds. So, I will suck it up and pay to keep it in driving condition. Did I forget to mention the best part of all, four wheel drive ( a fabulous luxury, if you live in snowy, icy Idaho). I thought we were out of the woods with unexpected expenses. I guess I shouldn't have voiced my relief out loud, because Sunday morning as I was getting ready for church my glasses broke!

At first, I thought the screw had come loose, which is no big deal and easy to fix. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case! The plastic broke right next to the lens; snapped right in half! Let me mention I am a blind as a bat without them; so going without would be dangerous; especially to everyone around me. I thought maybe I could just wear them as is, but they kept falling off, so I had to go to plan B. Out comes the glue gun ( I couldn't find the super glue, of course). Plan B was not such a good idea! It fixed them temporarily (15 minutes), but the glue melted the plastic and the reglue (17 minutes later) did not fit together well. So now, I'm going to church looking spiffy with my obviously repaired eyeglasses; that definitely tested my vanity! Right after I got home from church the broke completely. So, Sunday afternoon I called the optical store where I bought them about 18 months ago. They still had the frames in stock. I could just buy those, and they would put the lens in the new frames. Problem solved, right! Wrong! When the optician put the lens in the frame she somehow got something on the lens that ruined the finished on them. If you look through the lens it's like looking through somebody's oily fingerprints (which is what I thought was the problem), and there are tiny scratches all over them. I did every thing I could think of do make it better, but nothing worked. Now, it was on to Plan C; my five + year old glasses (which my kids lovingly refer to as my Harry Potter glasses. Hmm, note to self, extra chores for the children!) Yesterday, I went back with the broken glasses, and explained the problem. They worked with them, but sorry we can't fix them, and they are discontinued lenses, and your warranty has expired; so we can't help you!
Arrrgh! I returned the frames I had paid for and left slightly enraged. After, I calmed down ( and drank a 32 oz. Diet Coke) I tried to figure out the cheapest options.

That's when I had my AH HA moment. We have a membership at Costco. I buy groceries and the occasional handy gadget there, but I have not taken advantage of there other services. After work I ran out there to check the selection and what services their optical center offered. It was like the heavens parted. They squeezed me in for an exam right then (this is at six o'clock ). The exam only cost $60.00; instead of the $75.00 I was going to have to pay elsewhere. There selection of frames was pretty good. There were a lot to choose from! The prices started at $29.99 and when up to $119.00 (for the fancy, smansey ones). I found a cute pair of wire frames (kind of looks like a thinner version of Sarah Palin's) for 59.99 ( I paid $85.00 for the frames at the other optical shop). The lenses are a polycarbonate (very thin, lightweight, and durable, great for blind people like me; no Coke bottle lenses) and include UV block, scratch resistance, and an anti glare coating (I forgot the name); all for the grand total of $75.00 for both lenses. My last set of lenses cost $75.00 each. My total cost was $142.01 for the glasses and $60.00 for the exam, a total cost of $202.01. Much better than the $310.00 I thought I was going to have to pay somewhere else. I should have them in 5 - 10 business days! I guess I should look on the bright side. Now, I will have new glasses (kind of like a mini makeover), and it cost much less than I had originally anticipated. HOORAY!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Fabulous Thrift Store Finds

I have to tell you that I love to shop at thrift stores! It is like going on safari; it is all about the thrill of the hunt. You never know what you are going to find. I keep a small notebook in my purse with a list of items that my family is in need of. About every week or so I make a loop and hit the second hand stores in my area. Sometimes there isn't anything really worth buying, but quite often I hit pay dirt!!! You do have to have a general idea of prices, because not all thrift store finds are a good deal. It's silly to pay $X.XX for Walmart brand jeans at a thrift store if you can buy them on clearance at Walmart for exactly the same price or less. However, most of the time you can find name brand clothing (some with the tags on them) for significantly less than buying them at the store. Household items, books, toys, holiday items, picture frames, canning jars, wicker baskets, and some electronics are usually good deals, too.

Anyway, I hit Deseret Industries this morning looking for pajama pants for child #4 (his are getting VERY small. He and #4 son are the same size right now; so no hand me downs). Here are the great things that I found. 1. "Preach My Gospel" for $2.00
2. You've Got Mail on VHS for $2.00 (it's one of my favorite movies)
3. "Homemade" by Alexa Lett for $.75 (full of thrifty gift ideas)
4. Over the door shoe organizer for $2.00 (to replace the one the little boys destroyed)
5. Sunday shoes for child #3 for $4.00
6. Brand new laundry basket for $2.00 (still has the tag in the bottom of the basket)7. 18 jelly jars at $.25 a piece (stocking up now to fill with jelly for holiday gifts)
8. A backpack for $1.50 ( saving it for next school year to replace the one that will inevitably
wear out this year)
9. An 9x6 three ring binder for $.50 ( so I can start a price book, but more about that later)
10. 2 yards of new flannel for $2.00 (for my fabric stash or to make more pjs)
11. 2 pairs of pajama bottoms one for $2.00 and one for $3.00 (the whole reason I went to D.I. in the first place)
12. A pint jug for $.75 (to put in my daughter's lunch bag)
13. Fisher Price Dollhouse with family and furniture for $4.00 ( in new condition; I am so proud!)
14. Little Tikes Kitchen for $7.00 (not pictured, but in great condition)
15. Little Tikes Workbench for $7.00 (not pictured, but also in great condition)
These items are for my sister in laws who has a daycare. She mentioned she wanted to get these items, but couldn't afford to buy them new.

Everything cost me a grand total of $47.70 including tax. Not bad, considering all of these things new would have cost three of four times that amount if I had bought them all new!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Refresh Your Dry Herbs

Quick tip today! When you are cooking and a recipe calls for dried herbs, you can refresh the flavor of the herb by rubbing it between the palm of your hands. Place the amount called for in the recipe in the palm of your hand. Then rub the herb between your palms into the other ingredients called for in the recipe. This crushes the herb and renews the flavor. This works especially well when cooking with your crock pot. Word of caution, DON'T try this with bay leaves, they are poisonous when eaten!! Bay leaves are designed to be simmered in the recipe and then removed from the soup or stew before serving it.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Tightwad Mom's Frugal Book Pick Of The Month

I have a confession to make! I love to read! I also like to learn new things. It makes me happy. Especially, if I am learning something while I am indulging my habit. So, I thought every month I would share my thoughts about some of my favorite frugal books! Who knew that someday I would enjoy writing a book report!

I thought I'd start off with my all time favorite, "The Tightwad Gazette" series, written by Amy Dacyczyn. Originally, the Tightwad Gazette, was a newsletter published monthly between 1990 - 1996 by Amy and her family to share her insights on frugality, and to share tips and ideas that her readers sent in. She felt like fellow penny pincher's needed a forum to share ideas and for support. After she stopped publishing the newsletter, she decided to compile those articles and ideas into easy to read books to help beginners get started and handy ideas for the more advanced.

I checked her books out of the library several years ago when I realized that I really wanted to streamline our budget, and cut corners, so that I could scale back my hours at work (I love my job. So I didn't want to quit, entirely). I wanted to be home more with my kids raising them; instead of sending them to daycare everyday. I always felt like I was a fairly frugal person, but Amy made me realize that there are a hundred little painless ways to cut corners that add up to big savings. Her books are full of ideas, tips, and recipes that help make stretching your budget easier. She also adds in plenty of funny commentaries on her own frugal journey. Some of her ideas are a little extreme, but they give food for thought. The most important things I learned from "The Tightwad Gazette's" are:

1. Think outside the garbage. How can I reuse this container, cardboard, box, milk jug, etc. to save me money? You paid for it; so it's silly to throw it away before you have gotten all of the use out of it that you can.

2. There is a satisfaction in finding ways to maintain your lifestyle in the most frugal way possible.

3. Money isn't everything.

Anyway, I loved the books so much, I watched thrift stores and bought them. In fact, so many friends and neighbors asked to borrow them, that I bought a second set (used from to loan out. I broke out in a sweat thinking about not getting my books back, because I refer to them constantly. In fact, my husband jokingly calls them the Tightwad's "Standard Works". Happy reading everyone!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Go Speed Racer!

Tonight was Nate's Cub Scout Pack's Pinewood Derby. Silly me, I volunteered to bring the refreshments; not realizing I would have to take it up a notch from the usual granola bar or cookie! After many days of pondering, one of my co workers suggested something she saw done for an Easter treat. I tweaked her idea a little bit, and came up with these:

I started with these supplies: 1. Use a Ho Ho for the body of your car. Add two dots of frosting on each end of the Ho Ho.
2. Place a Reese's piece or M & M on each dot of frosting to make head lights and tail lights ( 4 total ; 2 on each side)
3. Add two more dots of frosting on each side of the Ho Ho and place a Keebler mini shortbread cookie on the dots of frosting.
4. If you want to make it fancy you could add a Hershey Kiss or Chocolate Star on top .

Not bad for a last minute treat! These little cars would make a cute cake topper for a Birthday cake, too!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Cranberry Muffin Recipe

I'm in the baking mood tonight, and I just threw a batch of muffins in the oven for a quick breakfast in the morning! So, I thought I'd share a yummy muffin recipe with you. A friend gave this recipe to me a few years ago, and my family loves them. Plus, this recipe is great for using up any extra cans of Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce leftover in your pantry from the holidays. They also freeze well.

Cranberry Almond Muffins

3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
Sift these ingredients together in a large bowl. In another bowl whisk together:
4 eggs
1/2 cup butter melted
1 cup sour cream (plain yogurt works, too)
1 tsp. almond extract
1 (15 oz) can whole berry cranberry sauce
1/2 cup sliced almonds(this is optional)
Stir this into dry ingredients until just moistened. Pour into lined muffins tins.
Bake at 375 for 20 - 25 minutes until light brown. Let stand 5 minutes before removing muffins from cups. Makes 24 muffins.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Alternatives To Laundry Stain Removers

I have spent the better part of yesterday and today catching up the laundry that multiplied during the holiday vacation. I didn't even know we owned that many clothes! Anyway, it got me thinking about how expensive laundry can be! When it comes to laundry I am picky about detergent. I can usually save money on detergent if I clip coupons and watch for sales, or buy it at Costco (their brand is fabulous; I give it two thumbs up!). My biggest pet peeve with laundry products are stain removers. They are a necessary evil if you have anybody at your house that eats, plays, goes to work, goes to school, works outdoors, works indoors, or is generally human. Most commercial stain removers are expensive and don't work that great either. So when I decided a while back to trim the fluff out of our household budget I started experimenting to find cheaper alternatives. Here's what I came up with ( and thank you to my family for providing me with such a wonderful array of stains to work with!):

A bar of Fels Naptha soap, which can be found in the laundry aisle at most grocery stores for around a dollar, is a great all around stain remover. I keep a spray bottle of water on the shelf above the washing machine. When there is a stain to treat I just spritz it good with water and rub it several times with the bar of Fels Naptha. Let it sit for a few minutes to break down the stain and wash as usual. This will even work on grease stains (lip gloss stains) that have gone through the washer and dryer. Follow the instructions above, but let it sit for about half an hour. Then wash in the hottest water the fabric will stand.

Just a plain old squirt bottle (think empty ketchup bottle) filled with liquid laundry detergent works great as a general purpose stain pre treat too. I like to use the concentrated (like All 3x concentrated laundry detergent. I can usually buy it for about $1.00 to $2.00 for a 32 load bottle if I use a coupon and combine it with a sale). Squirt a little on the stain, rub it in, wait a minute and them wash as usual.

Shampoo will take out ring around the collar. The cheaper the better. Squirt a line along the collar rub it in, and then wash in warm water.

Dish soap is great for grease stains and grass stains.

Mix half white vinegar and half water in a spray bottle and use it to spray on the armpits of shirts that starts to get yellow arm pit rings. Let the clothes sit for a few minutes so it can start to break down the stain. Wash clothes in warm water if possible.

Hydrogen peroxide will get blood out of any white laundry (carpet too). It also works to bleach out stains on white areas of patterned clothes (try not to get it on the colored section. It can bleach out colors). Use a cotton swab to treat the white area.

Dishwasher detergent (gel works the best) is awesome for getting grass and ground in dirt stains out of white football pants. Get the pants wet and squirt dirty spots with dishwasher detergent. Scrub with a scrub brush. Let them sit for several minutes. Rinse out well and wash in warm water. I usually scrub the pants laid out in the bath tub so I can hose them down with the shower head and contain the mess.

Finally, if you have dingy whites soak them overnight in your washing machine. Add a cup of baking soda and 1 1/2 cups white vinegar to the wash water. Let them agitate for a few minutes and then turn off the machine and let them soak overnight. In the morning drain the tub and then wash the whites in warm water with your regular detergent. If you have a front load washing machine use 1/2 cup of baking soda and 3/4 cup white vinegar. Put the baking soda directly in the wash tub, add the clothes, and then add the vinegar in the dispenser cup. Set your machine to the soak cycle and then follow the instructions for your machine. The combination of soda and vinegar will break down the build up in the whites and make them brighter.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Save That Foil

It's another quick tip today, too. When your recipe calls for covering the dish with foil before baking don't waste aluminum foil. Cover your 13x9 inch pan with a large cookie sheet, instead.
I came across this idea by accident. The other day I ran out of foil right as I was throwing dinner in the oven. Naturally, I was in a hurry, and none of the neighbors were home to borrow from. In desperation, I threw a cookie sheet on top of the casserole and hoped for the best. It worked great!
Desperation is always the mother of invention in my book!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Tablecloth Recycle

Today's quick tip. Don't throw away your holiday vinyl flannel backed tablecloth after the holidays are over. It makes a great waterproof mattress cover for a child's twin bed. The flannel clings to the mattress so that is won't slip around. Just cover it with a mattress pad or old swim towel so that your poor child doesn't sweat to death. If someone does have an accident it's super easy to throw the sheets in washer and wipe your "new" mattress cover with a disinfecting wipe (much better than having to cleaning the mattress).

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy Birthday!

It's my fourth child's birthday tomorrow. He's going to be eight years old this year ( Eight is great when your name is Nate!). Bless his little heart he has asked for homemade pizza for dinner and a puppy cake for dessert. We started the tradition with our kid's that on their birthdays they can pick whatever they want for dinner, and what kind of cake/ dessert they want. Since he's my baby (sniff! sniff!) I felt like I should make some sort of an effort to fill his request. Thank you to the ladies on Pinching Your Pennies for their help doing the research, and their good ideas that made this dessert possible! Well, here is my masterpiece!! Obviously, I had better not quit my day job (HA! HA!)! He is happy though, so I suppose that is all that matters! HAPPY BIRTHDAY NATE THE GREAT! WE LOVE YOU!

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Reason Why!

I suppose I jumped the gun a little bit, and started posting willy nilly last month without explaining why I started this blog! So bear with me as I bore you with my monologue. Hopefully you won't think I'm completely insane when you are done reading it!

About a year and a half ago when the economy started going south, the weather went crazy and crops were destroyed , gas and food prices skyrocketed, and "the world seemed to be going to **** in a hand basket" ( as my grandma used to say) I freaked out a little bit (okay, a lot). How was I going to make ends meet, especially since our income seemed to be shrinking and our financial responsibilities increasing? I had been spoiled for far to long, I decided! Now, don't get me wrong we are not rich (monetarily) by any means, but we have always lived a comfortable life. Mainly because my husband and I have worked hard and tried to live within our means. I got to thinking about how history always repeats itself, and the current circumstances in the world around us were reminding me more and more of The Great Depression. I wanted to figure out how my Great Grandmother's generation had survived and raised families in dire circumstances.

First of all, I headed to the library and checked out books on The Great Depression and World War II. They were fascinating reading, and I learned several things.
1. Everyone became resourceful. Waste not, want not took on a whole new meaning. They weren't just being frugal; they were trying to keep their families alive.
2. Nothing went to waste....nothing.
3. Everybody who was able grew a garden and raised chickens. They either sold the surplus, or shared with those less fortunate.
4. Most did not rely on the government to bail them out. They took a sense of pride in taking care of their own.
5. They were not selfish or stingy either! If some one in their community was truly struggling (and most were) people would share whatever they had to lighten their neighbors burdens.
6. Most of that generation reminisced later in their lives not about hardship and suffering, but about the simple pleasures, and the fine sense of community everyone shared!
My reading got me to thinking about my Grandmother's and Great Grandmother. They were a hard working group of ladies, to be sure. I can remember my little Great Grandma carefully pulling apart the empty wax paper liner from a box of cereal, smoothing it out, and rolling it into the ever growing roll to be used in place of waxed paper. She also washed the plastic silverware and cups after every family picnic, too (I swear some of that silverware was as old as I was). I also remember hours spent every summer of my childhood helping Grandma or Grandpa weeding, and harvesting garden. Monday was always bread baking day at Grandma Johnson's. Out came her big enamelware dishpan, in went the ingredients (she never followed a recipe), and out came nine beautiful loaves of bread (and maybe sconces with homemade jam, and garden veggies for lunch if we were lucky)! WE were also constantly amazed how Grandma could take the leftovers from Sunday dinner (barely enough to feed one person), and after adding a little of this, and a little of that, TA DA, she could feed eight hungry people. I also thought of how my mother worked hard to feed and clothe six kids, using the skills she learned from her mother, without us ever feeling that we were poor. Bless them for teaching me basic homemaking skills (sewing, cooking, cleaning, crocheting, canning, gardening, etc.). If I was the product of these fine women, I certainly shouldn't be whining. It was time to step it up and make them proud.

How was I going to take the lessons I had learned and make them feasible for a modern generation (me)! I wasn't quite ready to raise chickens and churn butter, but there had to be plenty of other ways I could make my budget stretch! Back to the library I went. This time to check out books on frugality. My turning point was when I checked The Complete Tightwad Gazette" by Amy Dacyczyn and read it (she is a frugal genius in my eyes and I will probably refer to her often). She made me realize that there are hundreds of ways to save money and think outside of the garbage. Then my wonderful sister in law ( and you know who you are, Shannon) clued me in to Pinching Your Pennies. I was already a sale shopper and coupon clipper, but this website made it so much easier to find and exploit good sales!!

One of my blessings is that I live in a tight knit neighborhood. Most of the families share, swap, and watch out for each other. We laugh that there has been a perpetual bag of hand me downs circulating for years now. Take what you need , add what you don't, and pass it along. Needless to say, we have a great since of community. As my neighbors and I have struggled together, I have had them ask me advice on all sorts of subjects ( I was enrichment counselor in our ward for three years; so most know the skills listed on my Domestic Resume). Last year several families started gardens. All of sudden gardening and canning questions started popping up. I ended up teaching a class on Squarefoot Gardening for Relief Society. Next came questions about sewing and mending, and then where can I find a good deal on.......? As everyone started cooking more from scratch I would get phone calls asking me for substitutions and equivalents in cooking. When I started saving oodles of money on my groceries because of PYP and matching coupons with sales ( not to mention greatly increasing my food storage with all of my great deals) everyone wanted to know how I did it. (I'm really not patting myself on the back, I promise!)
I have loved helping make my friends, family, and neighbors lives easier with little snippets of info, but I knew there might be others who could be interested in simple ideas and information on making their budget stretch a little further. Finally, a couple months ago my sister in law (yes, you Shannon) convinced me that if I started a blog #1) it is great free therapy, #2) I can share the clever tips and ideas that I come across, #3) maybe I can help someone else make it through "The Great Recession". If there was one thing I have learned along my frugal journey is that we are all in this together!! United we stand, but divided we fall!


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