Friday, July 31, 2009

Making Your Own Beauty Products

To be honest, I have just started experimenting with making my own beauty products, but I have yet to be disappointed with what I have made!

Hair Rinses:
Rinses improve the health and nutrition of the hair follicles and increases shine and bounce. It also can help with itchy skin, dry scalp and dandruff. I make both of these rinses - one for each of my middle boys.

Rosemary Hair Rinse
* Good for itchy skin, dry scalp and dandruff

2 cups vinegar (apple cider is best, but white will do)
2 cups water
10 drops rosemary essential oil

Work into your hair after shampooing, rinse with water.

Hair Rinse for Blonds
* Good for shine and has some lightening properties, especially when combined with sunlight

1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup vinegar (apple cider is best, but white will do)
2 cups chamomile tea, cooled

Work into your hair after shampooing, rinse with water.

Sugar or salt rubs polish and moisturize your skin, removing the old, dull skin, giving you a fresh and glowing look.

Milk Facial Scrub
* Milk is a gentle cleanser and an exfoliant, it also makes skin soft and moisturized.

2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp milk or yogurt

Gently rub onto skin, being careful and gentle around the eyes for 2 - 3 minutes. Let sit on your skin for an additional 2 - 3 minutes. Gently wash off.

Full Body Salt Scrub
* Excellent circulatory stimulant that not only promotes healthy, glowing skin, but helps control weight gain and cellulite.

2 cups medium grind salt (sea salt, Epsom salts)
1/4 cup olive oil (healing and soothing - good for dry or aging skin) or gentle liquid soap
6 - 8 drops of essential oil (optional)

Some good choices for essential oils (combine or use alone):

Rosemary - stimulating, astringent and conditioning; particularly good for dry or aging skin
Tea tree oil - antiseptic, disinfectant, astringent
Juniper berry - soothing, antiseptic, cooling, refreshing, and is suppose to be good for cellulite
Lavender - aromatic and restorative, good for stress relief and for tired looking skin
Lemon balm - cleansing, antiseptic and refreshing fragrance, good for a pick me up

Combine ingredients in a bowl. Fill tub half full of warm water (or cool - depending on the season). Wet down you body, then rub salt mixture vigorously into your skin, starting with your hands working up your arms, than your feet working up your legs, than lastly your torso (avoid your face or open cuts). Once complete, sit in the bathwater for at least 10 minutes to allow the salt to work into your skin.

Rinse with warm water then follow with a cool rinse.

Not only is making your own beauty products frugal, but you also get the added benifit of knowing that what you are puting onto your skin is nourishing and benificial and not loaded down with chemicals or perfumes.

Today I am linked to Frugal Fridays and Finer Things Friday!


* Recipes (some adapted) have been found in Beautiful Handmade Natural Soaps, by Marie Browning; The Herbal Home Spa, by Greta Breedlove; and from notes I have made from random readings and articles.

Espresso Chocolate Chip Cupcakes


Making cupcakes is a nice alternative to baking a cake in that there is not cutting or slicing needed and it takes a fraction of the time in the oven, so your house does not heat up as much. We love desserts and are trying new recipes this summer. Here is one I found in Cupcakes, by Ceri Hadda.

Espresso Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

1 1/3 cup Flour
½ tsp Baking powder
½ tsp Baking soda
¼ tsp Salt
1 cup Mini chocolate chips

6 tbsp Butter
1/3 cup Brown sugar
1/3 cup White sugar
1 Egg
3 tbsp Espresso powder
1 tsp Vanilla

½ cup Milk

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Cream butter and sugars till fluffy, add the egg, espresso powder and vanilla in mix well.

Combine the dry ingredients and milk alternately to the butter mixture, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.

Bake at 350 for 15 - 18 minutes. Makes 12 cupcakes.
For more cupcake recipes see:

For more great recpies check out Foodie Friday, The Recipe Swap and Food on Fridays!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Making Your Own Bath Salts

Who doesn't love relaxing in a warm tub? Bath salts are good for relaxing, but they are also good for your skin and for aching muscles. Baths are not just good for cooler winter months, but are also perfect after long summer days of doing yard work, gardening, hiking and so on.

Buying bath salts can be a pricy, but making your own bath salts is easy and inexpensive and you only need a few ingredients and only takes about 5 minutes to make! Here is what you need:

Epsom Salts - Epsom salts will dissolve easily in bath water and are very soothing to the skin and muscles.

Sea Salt - Sea salts can be found in a fine or coarse grind, although a finer grind will dissolve better in bath water. Dead Sea salts can also be used and can be found in most health food stores, but are more expensive than regular sea salts.

Coarse Salt - Coarse salt can be found in large chunky crystals and are an attractive addition to your bath salts. The salt will neutralize your skin so the essential oil fragrance will cling to your skin. All salts are known to be healing and soothing on your skin.

Essential Oils - Essential oils are produced in flowers and herbs and can impart beneficial qualities. For example, tea tree oil is a astringent, which cleanses the skin and an antiseptic, which inhibits the growth of bacteria on the skin.

Fragrance oil - Fragrance oils are synthetic scents that either reproduce a scent of a natural essential oil, like vanilla, or are blended to produce a scent that are not naturally found in nature, like a rainforest scent. Sometimes fragrance oil is a good alternative as some essential oils are very expensive.

Basic Bath Salt Recipe

1 cup Epsom salts
1 cup either Sea Salt or Coarse Salt
15 drops Essential oil
5 drops Food coloring (optional)

Mix all ingredients in bowl and then pour into a glass jar. Shake lightly to mix every day for a week before using. Add 1/4 - 1/2 cup to bath water.

Refreshing Bath Salts
(This will also help with colds and flu)

1 cup Epsom salts
1 cup either Sea Salt or Coarse Salt
5 drops Peppermint oil
5 drops Eucalyptus oil
5 drops Tea tree oil
5 drops Blue food coloring

Mix all ingredients in bowl and then pour into a glass jar. Shake lightly to mix every day for a week before using. Add 1/4 - 1/2 cup to bath water.

Tropical Bath Salts

1 cup Epsom salts
1 cup either Sea Salt or Coarse Salt
7 drops Mango oil
7 drops Coconut oil
5 drops Red food coloring

Mix all ingredients in bowl and then pour into a glass jar. Shake lightly to mix every day for a week before using. Add 1/4 - 1/2 cup to bath water.

Milk Bath

1 cup either Sea Salt
1 cup of Powdered milk
10 - 20 drops of Essential oils (your favorite)

Mix all ingredients in bowl and then pour into a glass jar. Shake lightly to mix every day for a week before using. Add 1/4 - 1/2 cup to bath water.

For more tips check out WFMW!

(If you are interested in more frugal and natural beauty tips I will be posting more on this topic on Friday)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancakes

We eat alot of pancakes, I often will make a big batch that the kids can reheat for an easy and fast breakfast. If you are not a blueberry fan, then these pancakes are also nice with sliced banana's and syrup as well.

Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancakes

3 cups Whole wheat flour
2 tbsp Baking powder
2 tbsp Sugar
1 tsp Salt

3 cups Milk (or 2 cup milk and 1 cup yogurt)
2 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla
1 tbsp Vegetable oil

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside. Mix milk, eggs, vanilla and oil with a whisk or hand mixer, pour over dry ingredients and mix well.

Let your batter sit for 3 - 5 minutes and then you are ready to go.

With a laddle, pour pancake mix onto medium-hot, non-stick frying pans, sprinkle over blueberries.

Small bubbles will start to appear, flip when the pancake is golden (you can tell by how many bubbles you can see - the pancake above still needs a minute or so).

Flip over and cook for another minute or so.

Pile your pancakes high! Enjoy with blueberry syrup or regular syrup!
For More Breakfast Ideas:

Monday, July 27, 2009

Back from Camping

We are back - slightly sunburned and definitely over tired! We spent the weekend fishing, swimming in a river, playing volleyball and board games and eating way too much junk food.

Today the kids and I are going to rest today and do some much needed cleaning and laundry, while my poor husband puts in at least 14 hours at work today.


Friday, July 24, 2009

Going Away

My husband has convinced us to go camping this weekend, and although my daughter and I are not real campers, we ended up conceding.

So I have been busy packing and preparing (seems more work than it is worth to me) and have not had the time to post, but I will have something ready to go for Monday. My plan this weekend is to spend much time lazing around reading and writing (and eating alot of junk food :) ) while the boys fish.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Soothing Effect of Laundry

Soothing? Laundry? I bet that got your attention. Laundry is one of the most disliked chores for moms everywhere! It is not that it is really that bad or hard to do, it is just so continuous (kind of like dishes!).

Here are a few tips that have helped make this chore easier for me:

1. Have scheduled laundry days

Feel like you are doing laundry all the time? Well maybe you are! Pick certain days of the week to do laundry - my days are Monday and Thursday for clothes and Friday for towels and bedding. By having a break in between I no longer feel like I am always doing laundry and do not feel the stress that I should be doing laundry when I am not.

2. Get a washer and dryer that sing

You heard me right - our washer and dryer sing! We needed to replace our old washer and dryer and decided to get new, high-efficiency front loaders. What we did not know when we made the purchase is that they "sang". Whenever a load is finished it plays a little song, then again when you open the door.

Even the kids are impressed with this new purchase, my eldest son (about to turn 17) calls it our "happy washer" and has gotten joy from watching the spin cycle from the place of honour - the toilet (our washer and dryer are in our main floor bathroom).

So now, instead of an impatient sounding buzzer signaling that the load is complete and needs your attention, we hear a little song that seems to call us and by coming and opening the washer or dryer, you are rewarded by another happy little tune.

3. Hang your laundry on a line to dry

I have never done this before this summer - I started with a little line, to hang heavy clothes like jeans and sweaters, but within two weeks I feel in love and my accommodating husband and son built me a better, longer line. Now I hang the majority of our clothes, towels and bedding out to dry.

I started doing this in hopes of saving money on electricity, but what I never expected was that the act of hanging wet laundry out to dry and removing dry laundry that smelled and felt like sunshine would be so soothing! There is something about this simple act that seems to transport me back to simpler times, when life was slower, not quite so busy and high-tech. Plus, hanging all the "dainties" out on the line riles up all the kids, which makes me laugh. There is nothing quite like seeing all your boys underware swinging in the breeze to put a smile on your face - it is the simple pleasures!

I am almost ashamed to admit it, but I now LOVE doing laundry and am somewhat disappointed when there is none for me to wash!

For more tips check out WFMW!


Monday, July 20, 2009

Lemony Meringue Cookies


I am always playing around with new cookie recipes and in summer there is nothing quite like the refreshing taste of lemon. Meringue is light and fluffy and not as heavy as a regular cookie. These cookies are lemony with a hint of coconut sprinkled on top and are perfect on a hot summers afternoon, to pack for a picnic or to bring to a pot-luck!

Lemony Meringue Cookies

4 Egg whites, room temperature
1/2 tsp Cream of tartar
1 cup Sugar
1 tsp Lemon extract

Coconut for sprinkling

Beat egg whites and cream of tartar till soft peaks form. Slowly add sugar a bit at a time, while continuing to beat.

Add lemon extract and beat till stiff.

Drop by the spoonful onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake at 225 F for 1 hour. Turn off the oven and let the cookies sit for an additional hour.

For more great recipes check out Tuesdays at the Table, Tasty Tuesdays and Tempt my Tummy Tuesdays!

Related Posts:

Mocha Meringues

Rainy Day Cookies


Simply Dressing For Less

What does your closet look like? Do you have enough shirts, tanks and pants to cloth a small village? How would you describe your wardrobe – trendy, classic, relaxed, or maybe an odds and end smorgasbord of all of the above, bursting at the seams?

Personally I would say I have a relaxed wardrobe – basic jeans, sweaters, shirts and tanks fill my closet and drawers, along with really casual wear of elastic band pants, fuzzy socks and older shirts and tanks that I use for house work.

I recently read that North American women have more clothes than almost any other place in the world; children are born with wardrobes that are already bursting out of their dressers. We want to look good right? We also want our children to look nice, but does each person in our house need as many clothes as we have?

Part of simplifying our lives is simplifying our wardrobes and our view on shopping. This has become even more important in my family as my children have become teenagers and fashion and name brands have all of a sudden become important to them and requests for clothes has become frequent and has turned from a need to a want.

Here are some hints that I am putting into practice to simplify our shopping:

1. Go shopping twice a year – spring and fall

This is an important habit that I have just started this past year. This causes us to have to do a bit more planning and makes you evaluate what you really need and evaluate every purchase more. We now take inventory about what we have for each person before our shopping trip and then make a determination about what is needed (not wanted) and then we write a list for each person.

My children get a certain amount of money to spend on building their wardrobe for the season, if they want higher priced name brand items than they can do with less or save up money prior to the shopping trip.

Then benefits of shopping only twice are huge, not only are we saving time over the course of a busy year, but less time in malls means less requests for clothes. As some of you may know, teenagers and clothes equals headache!! The boys are manageable, but my daughter wants all the new and trendy clothes and LOTS of them. Her constant requests can break even the most strong-willed person. Her power of persuasion and sheer determination when her mind is set is something to be admired, but if I allow it to become a battle of wills between her and I, I am afraid I am on the loosing end too many times. When I look into those beautiful big blue eyes I can cave if I don’t have a clear plan in place!

2. Shop wisely

Multi-seasonal - Buy clothes that are good for layering and are good in various seasons.

Multi-functional - Look for items that can be dressed up or down and can be paired with a variety of items, not just one.

High quality - For many things it is better to have 2 or 3 high quality items than 10 – 15 poor quality.

Classic over trendy - Every now and then it is fun to buy trendy item, but overall our wardrobes should be made up of pieces that are not going to go out of style.

Machine washable - Check the label before you buy – buying clothes that are difficult to care for is going to add to the time you spend cleaning.

Comfortable - Have you ever had a pair of jeans that every time you bend over you are showing half a moon? Buying clothes that don’t fit properly or are uncomfortable is a waste of money.

3. Buy fewer accessories

Some people really have a love to accessorize; they have belts, shoes, jewelry, purses, handbags for every occasion (and then some), but if you are trying to simplify your life and your wardrobe then you must also simplify your accessories.

Buy neutral hand bags/purses – that can be dressed up or down, have useful compartments to help keep you organized, and have good straps. Make sure they are comfortable to wear before you buy.

4. Do not be afraid to buy used

I have found many good deals at garage sales and thrift stores. Sometimes this means buying something for the next season (like a winter coat in summer), but if you have a place to store the item you may be able to save yourself lots of money.

5. Do not be afraid to bend the rules

So you happen to walking through a mall and you see a really good sale on items you know you actually need. Shopping twice a year does not mean passing up on all the good sales! This is not a set in stone rule, it is a guideline to help you plan your time and to move away from shopping so frequently. It is important to know when stores typically have sales to get rid of the past season and try and plan your shopping trips around those sales, but if you see a good sale in between than go for it! Just do not buy for the sake of buying, if shirts are on sale, but you already have 10, do you really need more?

6. Set a good example and teach good habits

If you children are young, remember, that if you child has 15 pairs of pants at 5 (even if every one was donated and cost you nothing), they will become accustom to that and still want 15 pairs at 13 years old. Help your children have a reasonable wardrobe, that is not excessive and bursting out of their closet and dresser, have your child help you go through what they have and determine what is really needed. Have them help you pack away clothes that your family wants to save (for a younger brother or sister), give away or sell.

Children are going to be influenced by their peers and by media, but by setting a good example and teaching good shopping habits is setting the stage for them to be able make wise choices.

For more frugal tips check out Tightwad Tuesday and Tightwad Tuesday with Canada Girl.


July 20 – 26 Meal Plan

Monday – Pork Chops with Baked Potatoes and Green Beans

Tuesday – Spicy Tomato Sausage Pasta with Buns

Wednesday – BBQ Chicken with Thai Style Rice and Bean Salad

Thai Style Rice and Bean Salad
(*Note - I have not yet tried this recipe, we can try it together!)

1 cup Rice, cooled
1 cup Corn
1 cup Black beans (cooked and cooled)
1 Onion, chopped
2 Ribs celery, chopped
1 Red pepper, chopped
1 Jalapeno pepper, chopped
1/4 cup Cilantro, chopped

2 tbsp Sesame oil
1 tbsp Rice vinegar
1 tbsp Lime juice
3 Garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp Ginger, minced

Thursday – Egg Strata with Crusty Buns

Friday – Sunday – We will be away from home at camp, so whatever they serve!!

Breakfasts - Yogurt with fruit and granola, toast, cold cereal or muffins (essentially - you must fend for yourself!)

For more meal planning ideas check out Menu Plan Monday!

Have a happy week!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Using up Leftovers

One of the ways that I try and stretch my grocery dollars is to using up my leftovers. There are some times when the teenage boys eat every last scrap of food at dinner, but often we have leftovers.
Last night we had bean salad for dinner and since I made a large portion, I was expecting leftovers. Roll-ups are a great way to use up leftovers - just toss in whatever you have and roll it up! No matter what you stick in there it normally turns out delicious! Here is what I made my boys for a mid-night snack (literaly, it was mid-night, but we had been out at the local fair):

Leftover Roll-Ups

Sour cream
Grated cheese
Leftover bean salad
Leftover meat in the fridge
Leftover vegetables you have in the fridge

Load up what you want on your tortilla and wrap it up. We had some leftover corn and tuna that the boys tossed on theirs as well. Frugal, nutritious and will fill up hungry boys (and hungry husbands - I tossed two in his lunch for today as well).
For more frugal tips check out Frugal Fridays!

Have a happy weekend!


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Cool and Refreshing Bean Salad


Beans are an easy, frugal and nutritious addition to any meal. I have been experimenting in new recipes for beans, as one of my goals is to add more beans and lentils into my families diet. Everyone in my family really enjoys beans, so this should be a pretty easy challenge, but in the past I always used canned beans, not dried. I have no idea why it took me so long to make the switch, dried beans are way less expensive and by making the entire dish myself, I control the ingredients that go in. I guess I was just put off from the time it would take, but with just a bit of planning and a slow cooker it is way easier than I thought it would be.
I have serious cravings for food that is spicy, like make you cry spicy, so I will be serving up some fiery hot chicken drumsticks (which is adapted from a chicken wing recipe I found), but to cool down our palates, I decided to make a refreshing bean salad and will also be serving fresh carrot and celery sticks with homemade ranch salad dressing for those who just love to dip. This is a fun meal that everyone will be happy with!
Bean Salad
2 cups dried beans (any combination you like)

1/4 cup olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice (about 1 good sized lemon)
1 - 2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1/2 purple onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
The day before:

Rinse off your beans and check them over for any stones or beans that do not look good.

Place your dried beans in a bowl and cover with cold water, let sit and soak for 8 - 24 hours (This step is not necessary, but helps the beans become more digestible and decreases the over all cooking time). Transfer to your slow cooker, add three cups of water for every cup of beans. Cook them on low over night - about 8 - 10 hours.
Mix up the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper in a small glass container. Shake to mix. By mixing the dressing the night before the garlic will infuse the oil and have a more mellow taste, not such a sharp taste.

The next day:
Drain and rinse and transfer to a bowl. Let cool in the fridge for 4 - 6 hours.
Once your beans have cooled, add your chopped vegetables and pour over enough dressing just to coat, toss to mix (if you have extra dressing, save it for a salad the next day). Place back in the fridge until you are ready to serve.
Easy peasy right?
Related Posts:

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Q & A: Simplifying Your Life

I have gotten a couple of questions on Simplifying Your Life (Part I, II and III) that I would love to answer:

"You mention your family’s "beliefs, goals and priorities" in the last couple of posts. I'd be interested to learn what your family's beliefs/goals/priorities are and how you established them. Was it a formal process with the whole family? Are they written down somewhere? Etc.

This was an interesting question to me and made me really think about how we first started establishing our priorities as a family. I would not say that we have a formal process that the whole family was involved in, but it did all start with a discussion with my husband and I years ago. Our children were pretty young and we were getting a lot of “advice” from well meaning friends and family on what they should be able to do, or should not do, I was getting pretty frustrated and my husband, after listening to me ramble on for some time, finally just looked at me and said “in our family we choose ________, it is that simple”. I left out the particular situation because it doesn’t really matter, it was his statement that left me feeling at peace and more free to make choices for my family based on what we thought was best – not what others thought was best.

This conversation made me start thinking about all the conversations my husband and I had in the past, things that we had both said were important to us and I started making more and more parenting decisions based on simple statements that we had agreed on. We came to an agreement on what we thought about things like leaving our children alone (at home and at activities), sleepovers, tv/movies/games, and so on. Decisions became easier, less stressful and based on what my husband and I thought was best for our family, not what others where doing or thought.

I also have certain goals and priorities that are personal, based on what I think God is calling me to do in my family. You can see the shorten version of this in my sidebar:

I will…

Once a year we have a family meeting to discuss our Lead Roles. Each person needs to explain how they feel they did over the last year and state any goals they have for their areas for the upcoming year. These goals are discussed and can be added to by other family members, but need to be agreed upon. This is important when dealing with big issues such as finances, it confirms that my husband and I agree on our goals and that the kids know what we are working towards, but even in the smaller things, like snow removal, it gets the kids thinking about how they did and how they can do better. Each summer I go through our Chore charts and Lead Roles and make any adjustments that I feel would work better or add any additions due to being a year older.

In short, I believe that it is up to my husband and I to come into agreement for what our family’s beliefs, goals and priorities are, but as the mother and wife, I set the tone for how those play out in our family.

“I need small steps. How do you do it? Do you have a daily list? try to keep a certain amount of free time?”

I do have lists; I find that if I have a list of what needs to be done it is more likely to be done! I have a weekly outline of what to do:



I also have Spring and Fall Cleaning and De-cluttering lists and Weekly Cleaning lists, which I don’t always follow perfectly, but having a list takes out the guess work. I am not a naturally organized person (as many friends will concur), I have to be specific about planning my time to keep my family and myself organized.

For more tips on everything from keeping organized, getting out stains or great recipes check out WFMW!


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

No-Roll Biscuits and Oatmeal Muffins

I do a lot of baking to help cut down costs – and who doesn’t love fresh biscuits? But often they seem like just a bit too much work. Here are two easy recipes that do not require any rolling and you can have them mixed and in the oven in 5 minutes flat! Since these are just biscuits and not loaves, cooking time is around 1/3 of the time, which means that you are not heating up your house for long during these hotter summer months (I say hotter with a hint of sadness, as we have had below temperature weather, with no really “hot” weather yet :( )

No-Roll Biscuits

3 cups Flour
2 tbsp Sugar
5 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
½ cup Margarine

1 Egg
1 cup Milk

In your food processor mix together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add margarine.

Mix until crumbly.

Pour into a large bowl (repeat if making a double batch) and make a well in the middle (hole in the middle).
In a medium bowl mix together milk and egg(s) and pour into well. Stir lightly to mix, the batter will be sticky, if you are feeling like it is too dry, add a bit of milk, but do not kneed. Drop dough onto a cookie sheet in large clumps.

Bake at 450 F. Cooking time will vary depending on the size you made your biscuits, check at 10 minutes, but can take up to 18 minutes. You can tell they are done when the tops are golden brown.

No-Roll Cheese Biscuits

2 cups Flour
4 tsp Baking powder
¾ tsp Salt
1 cup Grated cheddar cheese

¾ cup Milk
1/3 cup Vegetable oil

Combine four, baking powder and cheese in a large bowl and stir to mix. Add milk and vegetable oil and stir to incorporate.
Drop dough onto a cookie sheet in large clumps.

Bake at 400 F for 35 – 40 minutes.

I grew up with a love of oatmeal (my mom has some Scottish roots) and although my mom never did a lot of baking, she did make oatmeal muffins. Sometimes she would leave them plain, or other times she would add raisins or chocolate chips (which of course was my sisters and my favorite). My kids have also grown up eating oatmeal muffins, and eating them takes me back to fun times when I was a kid.

Oatmeal Muffins

2 ½ cups Flour
2 cups Oats
½ cup Brown sugar
2 tbsp Baking powder
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Cinnamon

2 Eggs
2 tbsp Molasses
½ cup Vegetable oil
2 cups Milk (or 1 cup milk and 1 cup yogurt)
2 tsp Vanilla

1 ½ cups of raisins, nuts or chocolate chips (optional)

Mix together dry ingredients and make a well in the center.
Beat eggs till frothy, add remaining wet ingredients and mix well. Pour into well and stir only to moisten, batter will still be lumpy, which is fine.

Pour into greased muffin tins.

Bake at 400 F for 16 – 20 minutes. Makes 24 muffins.

I always freeze muffins so that my kids can have easy food to grab when they are in need of an easy and fast breakfast or a snack. Just place in the microwave for 20 seconds on a medium heat.

Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins

This is a great variation of the above muffins, good if you have to use up some applesauce.

2 ½ cups Flour
2 cups Oats
½ cup Brown sugar
2 tbsp Baking powder
1 tsp Salt
2 tsp Cinnamon

2 Eggs
1 cup Applesauce
1 tbsp Molasses
½ cup Vegetable oil
1 cup Milk (or ½ cup milk and ½ cup yogurt)
2 tsp Vanilla or Maple

Topping: 1 tbsp EACH cinnamon and sugar

Mix together muffins as stated in the above recipe, just sprinkle the topping over the muffins before putting them into the oven.

For more recipes and ideas check out Mouthwatering Monday, Tightwad Tuesday, Tuesdays at the Table, Tasty Tuesday, Temp my Tummy Tuesday .


Monday, July 13, 2009

Weekly Meal Plan

In the winter I meal plan by the month, but in the summer, with our days and weeks constantly changing, I find it easier to meal plan by the week. So here is what my family will be eating this week.

Monday – BBQ Beef, Spicy potato oven fries and Coleslaw

Tuesday – Spicy buffalo drumsticks with cut carrot and celery sticks and Mediterranean inspired bean salad

We love spicy chicken wings, but chicken wings are fairly expensive, so I altered a recipe that I found to use chicken drumsticks instead. Since this is a very fiery dish, the vegetable sticks and the bean salad have a cooling effect.

Spicy Buffalo Drumsticks:

3 – 4 lbs Chicken drumsticks
½ tsp Cayenne pepper
1/3 cup Tabasco sauce
2 tbsp Butter, melted
2 tsp Cider vinegar

Marinade chicken overnight (or for at least 30 minutes). Shake off excess marinade and either bake at 375 F or bbq over medium heat, brushing meat frequently with marinade.

(Note – for a less spicy flavor omit the cayenne pepper and reduce Tabasco sauce to ¼ cup)

Wednesday – Pork chops, Baked potatoes and Broccoli salad

Thursday – Chicken burgers (made with chicken thighs), Spinach salad

Friday – Vegetarian Burritos

Saturday – Salad with hard boiled eggs and tuna

Sunday – Leftovers and whatever you can make for yourself

Lunch – Macaroni and tuna salad (made on Monday for the week) and leftovers

My sister made this for a picnic once and my kids loved it. It is so easy, no measuring, just pour and mix to taste.

Macaroni Tuna Salad

Cooked macaroni noodles
Canned tuna
Onions, chopped (any onion you like – white, green, purple)
Vegetables, chopped (any you have on hand – peppers, peas, celery)
Favorite seasoning blend (we use steak spice)

Mix it all together to your macaroni, tuna and veggies are well coated in the mayonnaise. Chill for at least 6 hours.

Breakfast - Yogurt, granola, fruit, toast, eggs and cereal

One of my goals this summer is to get my grocery bill down, while not sacrificing produce or dairy. Another goal is to add more beans and lentils into my families diet. What are some of the things you are working on right now when it comes to meal planning?

For more meal planning ideas see Menu Plan Monday.

Have a blessed Monday,

Saturday, July 11, 2009


I love being a homemaker and I feel completely fulfilled and satisfied, yet I have noticed that many women feel that if they "just stay home", that some how their job is just not as important as when they worked outside of the home and I often hear that they feel that they are just “not good at it”. On top of this, many women feel the pressure of their family (and friends) to contribute financially, especially in recent times when prices seem to only rise and incomes stay the same, jobs security is low and unemployment is rising.

I remember when I was younger thinking that to be considered strong, hard working and confident I would have to have a high paying and respected job. Well, I sure didn’t get it, much to the disappointment of some; yet in many ways I believe my job, although low paying, and in many ways, not respected, is the foundation of not just my family, but also my community.

There have been times in my life, when I have taken contract work that has caused me to put in 8 hour days outside of the home for weeks (or months at a time), and although the financial pressure did ease, other pressures increased 10 fold. Now don’t get me wrong, I have the utmost respect for mothers that work full-time outside of the home. There are definitely some women whose God-given talents lead them into a variety of important jobs and there are some single-mothers that don’t even have the option, but there are also a huge group of mothers out in the workforce, who are there only because society as a whole puts so much pressure on families financially – having new cars, taking vacations, putting your children in extra-curricular sports, having hobbies are all expensive - almost all seemingly unobtainable on a single income. Yet, in the process of trying to keep up with the norm, much is being sacrificed. The breakdown of families and youth tells a sad story and shows that children and families are taking the brunt of everyone just trying to keep up.

Look back 50 years when a typical family lived on only one income – things were very different. Most families would have only one car, meaning you would only need to pay for one registration and insurance. Now, many families not only have vehicles for both adults and one (or two or three) for the older children in the home as well – often bought and insured by the parents. Homes were smaller on average, according to the National Association of Home Builders (Housing Facts, Figures and Trends for 2006) an average home in the 1950’s was 983 sq ft, by 1970 it was up to 1,500 sq ft, in 1990 2,080 sq ft and in 2004 a whopping 2,349 sq ft! The average house size has more than doubled! The concept of children sharing a bedroom or often even sharing a bathroom is no longer the norm, in many families each person not only has their own bedroom and bathroom, but also their own television set, dvd (or blue ray) and laptop and/or computer.

All of this has started me thinking about all the stuff I have, especially about all the stuff I want and if what we spend our money on, and what we have, really lines up with what our families priorities are. Keeping up with the norm on one income is not really achievable - but should it even be a goal anyways? In most cases I would say probably not, yet it is so easy to slide into a "wanting it all" mentality without even realizing it. To start thinking about newer and nicer vehicles, a bigger home with a perfect kitchen and lots of bathrooms that is out of town, nice vacations, new clothes, more lessons for the children and on and on and on.

So am I willing to give up some of that?

I guess for me, it really comes down to the fact that time with my children can just never be replaced, once time is gone that is it. I spent the first several years of their lives chasing societies dreams, enhancing my education, striving for a prestigious position in society, and not a day goes by that I do not look back and wish that I had done lots of it differently. I can not change the past, but I do have control over the present, and I believe that one of the best gifts my husband and our children is me staying home.

Being a homemaker, to me, is about making our house into a home. Making the lives of my family comfortable, and have them feel well cared for and well loved. I may not have a lot of formal job experience, but my life experiences are rich and I thank God everyday that I have been given this opportunity.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Rainy Day Cookies

The weather has been poor all week, kind of on the cool side, windy and rainy. Today seemed to be the worst weather of all, so bad,in fact, that we did not want to leave our house. So what do you do on rainy summer days? Normally on rainy days you will find me in my kitchen, with the smells of chocolate and spicy cinnamon surrounding me and wafting through the entire house, enticing the children and warming and soothing my soul.

There is something about the comfort of baking yummy treats that soothes me like nothing else - the mixing, the pouring, the sweet and spicy smells, it warmth coming from the oven, and the way everyone in the house, even the dogs, start to gravitate towards the kitchen.

Today I made two stand by favorites - Double Chocolate Espresso Fudge Ice Cream Sandwiches and Snickerdoodles. We to cheer up our cranky moods and the second to bring comfort and calm (honestly, I have a cookie every feeling under the sun and will take almost any opportunity to bake up a batch!).

Double Chocolate Espresso Fudge Ice Cream Sandwhiches:

1 ¼ cup Margarine
2 cups Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla
2 Eggs

1 ½ tsp Instant espresso powder
¾ cup Cocoa, shifted
2 cup Flour
1 tsp Baking soda
½ tsp Salt
1 – 2 cups Chocolate chips (semi-sweet or dark)

Vanilla ice cream

Cream together margarine and sugar. Add vanilla and eggs and mix well, until fluffy. Add dry ingredients and chocolate chips and mix together until incorporated. Drop onto cookie sheets and bake at 350 F for 8 minutes (or until the outsides are done and the center is just about set – do not over bake your cookies if you want them chewy, if you want them crispy cook for an additional 2 minutes).

Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for 2 – 3 minutes before removing them and let them sit for an additional 5 minutes. In the mean time, grab the ice cream from the freezer.

Take two warm cookies and put a scoop of ice cream in between. Eat some place that is easy to clean, the warm cookies starts to melt and soften the ice cream - yummy!

This is guaranteed to cheer up just about anyone and is a good celebration cookie as well (I often make these to celebrate the kids first day back at school – but I make them while they are gone, while I dance gleefully to loud music around my kitchen!)!

½ cup Butter
½ cup Shortening
1 ½ cup Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
2 Eggs

2 ½ cup Flour
2 tsp Cream of tartar
1 tsp Baking soda
¼ tsp Salt

2 tbsp Cinnamon
2 tbsp Sugar

Cream together butter, shortening and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Add dry ingredients and mix until well incorporated.

Form into small balls and roll in the sugar and cinnamon mixture. Place on cookie sheet and bake at 400 F for 8 – 10 minutes.

These are best enjoyed with a cup of tea, guaranteed to sooth frazzled nerves and help bring you a sense of calm.
Related Posts:

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Simplifying Your Life in a Throw Away Society

Are you a keeper or a tosser? I am definitely a tosser – I have been known to wipe the clutter from entire surfaces strait into the garbage out of pure irritation. This has gotten me into sticky situations in the past, as I am sometimes none to careful about what I throw out. I remember one time in particular that my husband could not locate a very important document (ahem, amongst his clutter), and he accused my of throwing it out when I was trying to clean up his stuff. I denied it, I got my back up, I pointed the finger back at him and stated that if his stuff was clean and organized that we would not have to be looking through countless messy boxes full of crap – all along I was desperately praying:

“God, please, I beg you to help us find this document. I promise that if we find it I will never go through my husbands stuff and throw things away again”

You see, just the week before I went on a mad cleaning spree that included emptying a couple of the boxes into the trash without careful examination and it was coming back to bite me. Since that day I think I have prayed that prayer a couple more times, although a bit differently:

“Okay God, I messed up again, I did it again, but this time, if we can just find it, I promise not go through things randomly and just throw them away. I have definitely learned my lesson this time!”

In case you are wondering, in all the times I prayed, God was totally faithful and had incredible mercy on me and helped us to locate the missing item (God cares about the details), and it has been a couple of years now that I have had to pray such a plea (see, I am learning my lesson).

I talk a lot about de-cluttering and getting rid of the excess in your life and I think that is very important…Yet, there is one area that I think that we are bad for just mindless tossing – and that is food.

How much food do you think you waste every day? How about in a week or a year?

When I first starting thinking about this I thought I wasn’t doing that bad – after all, I have hungry teenage boys that will clean other’s plates and their own. Yet the more I thought about it, the worse it seemed to be. Things like a cup of coffee left in the coffeemaker, or that half a cup of coffee or milk that the kids or I didn’t finish were the first obvious culprits, but then I started thinking about food that my kids took to school and didn’t eat, only to be thrown out, or the produce that we never got around to eating that went bad and had to be tossed, or leftovers that got pushed to the back of the fridge and now look like a scary science experiment. Once I really started thinking about it I realized that my family throws out more than I had originally thought.

My challenge now is to start going through my fridge mid-week and finding ways to use up food that is about to spoil, instead of discarding food that looks questionable at the end of the week. Also – if in doubt, make less or take less. Throwing out a cup of coffee or a half a glass of milk may seem small and insignificant at first, but it speaks to our overall attitude about wastefulness.

How do you think your family does at not wasting food? What small changes do you think you can make to decrease food waste in your home?

Interesting articles about food waste:

Food For Thought: America's Food Waste

Lessons From History: Don't Waste Anything

Food Waste Friday - The Frugal Girl (challenges us to keep track of how much food we are wasting)

Related Posts:

Simplifying Your Life - Part I

Simplifying Your Life - Part II - How Much is Enough?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Simplifying Your Life – Part II – How Much is Enough?

We live in a society who always wants more – more clothes, bigger homes, better vehicles, more gadgets, more success, more money. We are constantly bombarded with adds for new iPods, laptops, iPhones, Blackberries, new vehicles – we live in a culture that is not satisfied with what we have, but is completely geared towards wanting and getting more. Yet, every item we own or buy says something about us, about what we think is important, what we like, what we think about, and ultimately, what our beliefs, goals and priorites are.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven…For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matt 6:19,21

Think about that for a minute…

What are your treasures? What do you spend your time doing and spend your money on? Is what you are doing/buying enhancing your goals or hindering them? Are you creating more work for yourself, or lessoning it? Is the activity/item going to bring your family closer together and increase your joy or cause distance, stress and strife? Are you doing it or want to buy it to fill an emotional void in your life, or an attempt to make yourself look trendy, in style, important and well off?

I don’t know about you, but it is difficult for me to put aside my earthly treasures – my clothes, house, vehicles, activities can start to take a very important role in my life. In the end, servicing, cleaning, storing, watching, worrying over and even praying for, can ultimately start to steal our joy and rob us of time better used and money better spent. It is not that any of these things are bad, but learning to live more simply will ultimately reduce stress and get rid of things that are not in line with your beliefs, goals and priorities.

So where do we start?

1. Pick one area and start slow.
Don’t just randomly start a whole bunch of projects – that will be good for no one and you will likely just be sorry you ever started and give up altogether. Instead, pick one area of your life and start to de-clutter that area. It could be finances, cutting back on your activities and commitments, removing the excess from your home – whatever is most important to you.

2. Try living without it.
You never know what you can live without if you never try. Maybe your family could live with just one TV, or maybe you can live without cable, or without cell phones. Make a list of all the things that cost you money, that cause you stress, or that you think do not line up with your family’s beliefs, goals and priorities and then decide – is this something I may be able to live without? Then try it for a week – you may be surprised!

3. Follow the 1-year rule.
If you have not worn it or used it in one year or more, than you need to really evaluate if you need to keep it. Lots of us hold onto items for sentimental reasons, or in hopes of one day fitting back into those jeans, but in most cases, if you have not used it within a year, you are not going to use it in the upcoming year. Keeping the item only causes additional clutter and disorganization with attempting to store it. (*Note: If you have not worn something due to pregnancy, please feel free to wait an additional year, but remember, our bodies change with pregnancy, what looked good before, might not look good now.)

I can already hear all the reasons why not to get rid of things.
(I do live with a confirmed pack rat and have heard EVERY excuse!!)

1. Getting rid of it is like throwing money away.
Unless it is truly garbage or not good to anyone, than you can sell it or donate it. Remember, you are saving both the money and time it would take to clean it, store it, repair it and insure it.

2. I am going to fix it one day.
If I could have a nickel for every time I heard this one…Alright, my husband (and husbands all over the world) says this to me all the time. To him, everything is “fixable”, but if you haven’t fixed it in the last year, the likelihood is that you never will. Either make a plan right away to fix the item yourself, get it fixed by a professional, or dispose of it. Packing your home full of broken down items only adds to your long “To Do List” and will add stress every time you see it or hear your spouse complain about it.

3. It was a gift.
Gifts are suppose to bring you pleasure and comfort, not stress and chaos. I personally think that it is perfectly fine to re-gift an item, if you do not use it and enjoy it and someone else that you know will, why not give it to them? Getting rid of something that was given to you does not mean that you do not appreciate their thoughtfulness, and unless you were given a precious family heirloom, don’t feel guilty about getting rid of it.

4. It has sentimental value.
I admit, I may be a tad less sentimental than some, but I rigorously limit what I decide to save in the way of keepsakes. People do enjoy looking through old photos, souvenirs, awards, newspaper clippings and so on – when they are organized, accessible or displayed, or stored neatly in a chest. These items can not be enjoyed when stuffed in countless boxes or drawers all over your home.

5. I am going to fit into it again one day.
This is a HUGE one for women; we are notorious for holding onto clothes in hopes that we will one day fit back into our high school or pre-pregnancy jeans. The problem is, that if you are always looking backwards, you are not trying to look your best today; you are just striving to be what you were. Our bodies change, and even if we are carrying some extra weight, we can still dress ourselves beautifully and take care of the bodies that we have today.

If you have items hanging in your closet that do not fit and they are in good shape and have a classic fit (meaning they are not likely to go out of style) and you really want to keep them, store them away, but if they still do not fit you in one year – get rid of them! Find someone who can use them and learn to appreciate your new shape.

6. I may need it in the future.
Oh, how many times I have heard this one from my husband or children! The problem is that they are not likely to FIND it in the future! When your life and home is cluttered, not only is it difficult to keep track of what you have, but it is difficult to locate it as well.

God is very clear - owning a lot of stuff does not fill our life with meaning, it just leads to a lot of clutter.


Simplifying Your Life

Life sure has a way of getting complicated fast – kids, husband, job, school, bills, home maintenance, vehicle repair – oh my! I could go on, but the list would get exhaustive!

For me, summer is time for a slower pace, a time to evaluate my priorities, our schedules, and in the end determine what my family’s goals are for the upcoming year. What is really important? Is what we are spending our time on in line with our priorities? What am I doing or buying that I can live without?

Living simply is about reducing stress and eliminating excess, the things that are just cluttering up your life, getting rid of things that are not in line with your goal and priorities.

Living simply has many benefits:

1. Saves time
When you determine what your priorities are, you will not waste time on activities that are not relevant. Plus, I have always said, it is quicker to clean a room with 10 items than a room that every surface is taken up by knickknacks, piles and so forth.

2. Better organization
If you reduce clutter, it is easier to become and stay organized.

3. Green living
By consuming and wasting less, you are being a good steward of the earth that God gave us to care for.

4. Promotes good health
Part of living simply is learning to eat simply. I am not talking about boring foods, but REAL food. Food that is well prepared, with nutritious and healthy ingredients, eating food that promotes health and growth of our family. Eating simply means cutting out the foods that are not good for our bodies, or the bodies of our children, and replacing it with whole foods, using fresh ingredients, that nourish and energize our bodies and encourages healthy eating habits in our growing children.

5. Saves money
This one is HUGE for me, I love saving money, but often I feel myself pulled into wanting items that are not really a necessity and do not really line up with my families goals and priorities. In the end, buying less saves, not only the initial cost of purchasing, but the costs associated with maintaining that purchase.

Take small steps, rushing in and trying to implement a whole bunch of changes is going to create stress, not reduce it! Besides, if you make a lot of changes all at once, you will likely come up against some resistance in the form of your husband and children. For example, if all of a sudden decide that you are not going to buy anything pre-packaged, including your husbands favorite cereal and your children’s favorite afternoon snack, they are likely to revolt. Instead, pick one area of your life that you feel is not matching up to your family’s goals and priorities and start makings some changes.

For example, if eating more simply and healthy is a priority for your family that you feel needs work, find some simple and nutritious changes. Find a meal or two that you can make that use only fresh ingredients, or instead of offering your children boxed cereal in the morning (that is likely loaded with sugar), offer them a banana smoothie.

Similarly, if you decide to de-clutter your house, don’t start pulling apart rooms randomly, you will never get it all done and you are likely to just feel stressed about the mess and even more overwhelmed. Instead, pick one closet or one toy box so that the project is small and manageable instead of daunting and overwhelming.

Taking steps to live more simply does not take a lot of time or effort; it only takes a real desire to re-focus on the priorities of your family and a willingness to remove the clutter that stands in your way.

For more tips see WFMW!

Related Posts:

Making Summer Cleaning Quick and Effective

Watch Out!! Bathing Suit Season Here we Come!!!


Monday, July 6, 2009

How Much Does The Average Canadian Spend on Food?

The actual facts are hard to pull from the data available. According to Statistics Canada, an average family in Alberta spends around $625 a month on food. What makes it so difficult is what constitutes a family – which is anything from a single person living on their own, to a married couple with 10 children. Averages that cover such a broad spectrum are not very good indicators of what an average family – or in my case, 2 adults and 4 children – would spend per month on food.

I feel that I am a very frugal shopper; I don’t buy a lot of prepared or packaged food or too many “snack” items, nor do we spend much on eating out (between $50 - $100 per month) and yet my food budget over the last year (includes all household supplies like toilet paper and personal supplies like toothpaste and shampoo) ran an average of $1,030 per month. This equals out to $172 a month per person, or $5.85 a day per person. Now keep in mind that I am essentially feeding 5 adults and 1 child and that this amount is in Canadian dollars, but I have been determined to make some changes and get this amount down!

So how low can I go without sacrificing health and nutrition and fearing revolt of my husband and children?

Over the last month or so I have been researching what other families are eating, looking for new recipes and essentially trying to find ways to cut costs. I came across a blog that holds a carnival called Meal Plan Mondays. I also have found a blog from a mom that feeds her family of 6 on $60 a week! Can you even imagine? I spend that just on dairy and produce every week (actually, I think I spend closer to $80 on dairy and produce each week)!

So how is she and others like her doing it?

This last month I determined that I would cut my food budget $200 – my goal amount is $800 per month, which equals out to approximately $133 a month per person (or $4.38 a day per person), and to do this I have already implemented a lot of significant changes:

1. I have started making homemade yogurt.

The cost per month for homemade yogurt is $12.50. I was spending about double that before and we were not eating yogurt ever day, just for snacks. Now about 3 of us have yogurt almost every day for breakfast.

2. I started making my own cleaning supplies.

I read a few articles, looked up countless recipes and then jumped right in! It is hard to guess, but I think I am saving about $175 a year, which equals out to a savings of almost $15 a month.

3. I have replaced canned beans with dried beans and have added more lentils and barley.

Everyone in our family has always loved beans, but switching from canned to dried only took a bit of planning, and it costs significantly less! I make all my beans in my slow cooker, so really, the effort involved is minimal and I can make about a side dish of beans for around .50 instead of $2.50. That is a pretty significant difference.

I am not to fond of lentils (I never had them growing up), but I am working on developing a taste for them. My boys like them fine, but my daughter will not even try them (stubborn girl!) and we all love barley. I have found lots of new recipes and will be trying them out and perfecting them for our family over the next few months. When we try something we love I will share it J!

4. I plan for one meatless meal and one frugal protein meal per week.

I was pretty much already doing this; I love having a good vegetarian meal at least once per week and although sometimes the meat lovers in my house complain (quietly – in fear of losing their meal), all my boys love their veggies as much as I do and I have been slowly turning my husband as well. I have been searching for even more vegetarian recipes over the last month and I think I have found some that everyone will enjoy and will cost less then $10 to make.

I also have been diligently making sure that I make at least one meal with eggs or tuna each week, both of which are very frugal and nutritious. A tuna casserole costs around $7 to make and will typically feed at least two people lunch the next day. A meal with eggs normally comes in around $5 - $6 and my daughter will actually eat these meals.

Cutting our food budget is a daunting task for me – we live in Alberta (a wee bit red neck) and a meal is not a meal without a big hunk of meat on your plate! Yet with a bit of creativity and work I am confident that everyone will leave the table full and satisfied.

So here is our weekly meal plan: (added late - but better late than never!!)

Monday - Pork roast with roasted carrots and onions and mashed potatoes; desert - Rhubarb pudding cake with whipped cream

Tuesday - Bbq meatloaf with potato salad, baked bbq beans and corn

Wednesday - Spicy spaghetti with homemade garlic bread

Thursday - Spicy coconut Rice and beans with curry vegetables

Friday - Asian pork hamburgers with stuffed jalapenos and salad (with ginger dressings and white beans)

Saturday - Eggs and toast with muffins or biscuits

Sunday - FREE FOR ALL!! :)

Breakfasts: cold cereal, yogurt and granola, muffins or toast

Lunch: whatever you can make yourself or find in the fridge :)

Possible desserts: Apple-rhubarb crisp, ice cream with fruit and fudge sauce, lava cakes, cheesecakes (I haven't quite decided what I am going to make just yet for the rest of the week, but here are some of the requests and options)

Related Posts:

Frugal Grocery Budget

50 Money Saving Tips


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Burn Fat – Not Oil

I saw that on some guy’s shirt the other day and thought that it pretty much described my life right now and it made me giggle.

In an earlier post, I mentioned that we were having vehicle trouble. My poor van is not doing so well, it has high kilometers and things are just breaking down. Even if my husband had time to fix what is wrong with it, it would still cost more to fix it than what the van is ultimately worth (fixed). With registration and insurance due, we decided to park the van for the summer and try and figure out what to do in August for the school year. We looked at lots of vehicles, but never really found a great deal, or the perfect vehicle, nor did we really ever have any peace over any of the purchases we were considering, so in hopes of saving money over the summer, we decided the best thing to do was wait.

So the kids and I (Brandon - 16, Jesse - 14, Justin - 14, and Tia - 11) will need to burn fat, not oil, if we want to get somewhere!

I realized some things very quickly:

1. That my husbands jeep that seats 5 does not fit 6 people, no matter how hard you try push them in!

2. Jesse can get even hungrier than he already was.

3. Jesse can actually eat more than he already was!

4. That the likelihood of actually saving any money is slim, I am just using all of the saved money to feed Jesse!

5. Tia can bike slower than she can walk, so slow in fact that I can barely keep my bike upright.

6. Walking in runners after my daughter used them and stretched them out causes blisters.

7. That if I don’t want my daughter to “borrow” my shoes I must hid them.

8. That when your water bottle leaks, just be thankful that you were not carrying it and that your son looks like he wet his pants, not you (sorry Jes).

9. That Brandon can actually walk faster than everyone else and when he has a designation in mind he is very capable of walking there.

10. Tia has less energy walking somewhere than she does walking home afterwards - after walking over 10 kms she seems to complain less!

11. That peaceful walking requires earplugs or music to drown out the children’s bickering, complaining and questioning.

12. That so far (since July 1st) we have walked, biked or roller bladed: 46 kms (or 20.9 miles)

13. That this may be a very long summer!!!

For more Frugal summer tips check out Frugal Friday!


Friday, July 3, 2009

Baking with Seasonal Ingredients

Summer gives us an abundance of healthy and frugal fruits and vegetables. Depending on where you live, you may get more or less, here in Alberta we tend to have more vegetables than fruits (we get a lot of fruit from British Columbia next door). We do have some homegrown fruit and overall fruit is very inexpensive at our local grocery stores. The Farmers Market does offer a large variety of fruits as well, that are also sold at very reasonable prices.
To keep my cooking and baking frugal (and delicious), I try to use ingredients that are in season. I continue baking all through summer, it is just not as hot here as down south; plus, it cools down a lot once the sun goes down, so your house cools down and you can bake in the late evening or early morning without your house feeling too hot. There is really only 2 - 3 weeks (over the entire course of summer) that it is just too hot to turn on the oven.
Here are a couple of recipes that are inexpensive to make and will please the whole family!
Fruit Custard Pie:
* I suggest blueberries, cherries, apple and rhubarb (the picture of mine above is rhubarb - as it is free!)
3 - 4 cups of fruit, cleaned and diced
1 tbsp flour
3/4 - 1 cup sugar (depending on on how sweet or tart you like things)
3 eggs
1/2 cup cream (you can use milk if you want a lower fat option)
Mix the fruit and flour and put in an uncooked, prepared pie crust. Mix the sugar and eggs together till frothy, mix in the cream and blend till smooth. Pour over the fruit.
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/3 cup flour
With a fork, mix untill crumbly. Sprinkle over the pie.
Bake at 400 F for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 350 F and bake for an additional 30 - 40 minutes, or until set.
Serve warm.
Fruit Crisp
* Any fruit combination is fine - my favorites are apple, rhubarb and apple-rhubarb.
4 - 6 cups of fruit, clean and diced
1 cup margarine
1 cup flour
1 1/2 cups oatmeal
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
Place fruit in a large cassarole dish. If you would like you could sprinkle sugar or cinnamon over the fruit.
Mix together topping with a fork until crumbly and sprinkle over prepared fruit. Bake at 350 F for 40 - 50 minutes or until the fruit is soft and bubbly and the topping is lightly toasted. Let cool on the counter for 15 minutes before serving.
Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.
For more Frugal Tips and Recipes see Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Life As Mom, Friday Recipe Swap, and Foodie Friday!
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Have a great weekend,