2015 – Year One of New Beginnings Goals

We may never actually get to live at our farm, but we are definitely moving in the right direction to make it work harder for us and for it to bring even more enjoyment. Though we have been met with varying degrees of obstacles these past several months, we have decided to move forward as if. As if we may someday soon make the move to a place that we both love….as if the obstacles will soon fade away as if they are only long lost figments of no consequence.
For the past month, I have been lost in seed catalogs and websites. Sometimes it gets to be overwhelming. I WANT EVERYTHING, but then some sensibility returns and I empty my cart or start fresh with my list. Unfortunately, I have a terrible habit of purchasing entirely too many plants/seeds which always results in a failure…money wasted. This year, with this new beginning, I am going to “try” to be more prudent in my choices. Thus the LIST…a list to keep me on track…to curb my spending…and reign in my early enthusiasm that almost always wanes the moment it begins to get too hot! Now that I am considerably past the spring chicken stage of my life, I need to be fully cognizant of my own limitations.
So, here goes…. a list of projects for the 1/2 acre we are pulling out from production/grazing for our own personal use.

    1. Fencing around 1/2 acre area to deter deer and raccoon. Fencing may be easily expandable if more space is needed.
    2. Set up rain collection and water tanks within the plot.
    3. Begin orchard. Trees have been ordered and should arrive at the end of the month.
      • Plant 12 apple trees with tree tubes and stakes– Gala, Golden Delicious, McIntosh
      • Plant 12 pear trees — Ayers, Orient, Keiffer
      • Build trellis system and plant 7 Blackberries — Triple Crown, Oauachita, Apache
      • Build trellis system and plant 3 Heritage Raspberries
      • Transplant 2 young apricot trees and 10+ Sandhill Plum shrubs into the orchard area.
    4. Plant buckwheat crop for early pollinators.
    5. Begin wildflower patch around the perimeter of the plot.
    6. Transplant trumpet vines starts.
    7. Develop Asparagus bed and plant 30 crowns–Organic Purple Passion, Organic Jersey Knight, Aparabest
    8. Develop raised beds, as well as beds for future row crops.
    9. Develop cut flower beds.
    10. Inside perimeter plantings of lavender to assist in pollination, as well as deterring deer.
    11. Prepare bed for Fall Garlic plantings.
    12. Plant a short double tree row of 20 Christmas trees.
    13. Rodent and pest control measures…
      • Raptor perches on corner posts
      • Bat Box (an anniversary present)
      • 2 Bluebird nesting boxes (Christmas present)
    14. Butterfly habitat, with various shallow watering stations. (plenty of fennel, dill and milkweed)
    15. Three sisters planting of corn, beans, and squashes.
    16. Make best use of companion planting arrangements.
    17. Pumpkins – Blue, Long Island Cheese, Minis, and ?
    18. Watermelon
    19. Grow a significantly sized salsa garden with various peppers and many heirloom tomato plants.
    20. Try my hand at seed saving.
    21. Attempt some wattle projects using resources from the farm.
    22. Grow some kick-butt, Gigantor Sunflowers…HUGE…Enourmous!!! (in hopes of taking a specimen to the County Fair)

Whew! I am already feeling a bit overwhelmed. I may not get all of these projects completed, but at least I know my destination, which reminds me of one of my favorite sayings. “Goals are like vacations, if you do not know the destination how will you ever know if you have arrived?”

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Our little plot will be located at the forefront of this area. My preference would have been to set it much further back from the road, but water source considerations won out on this start.

Vacation Anyone?

Every now and again, I get a hankerin’ to hop on a cruise ship to get away from my reality. Can you relate?

Though my life is not ‘bad’, it is lacking in certain areas. I have lost focus and have over-burdened us with  too much excess. Excess stuff….excessive mileage on our vehicles…excessive upkeep of too many ‘places’. Sometimes, I just want to take a break! Go away and forget what is facing me…to ignore what really needs to be done. At times the projects before me send me into an abyss…so escape is my ‘answer’.

Today, as I sit watching the beautiful snow fall, I feel the same need to run away, but today it wasn’t a sunny locale with warm sands beneath my feet that tugged at my heart. My longing comes from some place much closer to home. Our farm is where I wish I could be this very moment….four miles west and two south. So very close, yet so far. I have always dreamed that we would eventually build a house and make our forever home at the farm. How relaxing it would be to be sitting on the front porch, with a hot cup of coffee in hand…watching the snow fall across the field and pasture beyond. Instead, at this moment, I watch the snow falling and my neighbors dilapidated fence swaying in the breeze.

I have not given up on our dream, but these days so many obstacles have barricaded the doors of opportunity….which keeps me falling back into my balcony cabin dream. While reading a homesteading book today I came across a quote from Seth Godin (an author of several marketing books)that spoke to me. “Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.” If you long to be somewhere in your life other than your present location…make it so! You see, I do know what it is going to take…even if new obstacles appear. I must energize myself with the thoughts of the outcome and forge beyond the pain of what is before me.

Escape to the Farm

Yes, I am being vague….but as you can see, it has been a very long time since I added to this blog. I need to find my ‘voice’ again…and gradually bring you along on this new path…a ride of expected ups and downs as we create our own vacation spot, right there…underneath our feet.

Water, Water Everywhere

Water…water, everywhere….but not a drop that I will drink. I guess it is all those years of drinking bottled water that has me spoiled. Forgive me city officials, but I don’t WANT my water to have a taste. Water should be tasteless, with no lingering after flavor.

So what’s a environmentally knowledgeable gal supposed to do if she cannot stand the taste (or smell) of the tap water straight from her faucet? Buying bottled water is reserved only for emergencies around here, so I have had to learn to plan ahead and have palatable water available at all times.

 Some will say that using water filters is not environmentally friendly and hopefully, someday soon, there will some way of recycling those little darlings….BUT until then, I  see it as my only economical choice for providing my household with water that we like to drink.

I just love my PINK Brita Grand Water Filtration Pitcher.They are a bit difficult to come by locally now and I am kicking myself for not purchasing more for the farm house and our camper.

Guess I can suffer through it all though will my Brita 42629 Slim Pitcher for my camper…which is actually perfect for the small fridge in the camper. Now when the water from the campground hydrant tastes a little wacky, I have this handy to make up small batches of clean-tasting water. Many years ago, when we first started camping, I would buy a couple of cases of bottled water and keep those iced in a cooler. It would really upset me to find half empty bottles being left around, with no one claiming that they didn’t finish the bottle. Now each of us has our own stainless steel water bottle for which we are responsible. Want some water to take to the shore while you are fishing? Where’s your bottle? Problem solved!

Spring has Sprung

Yep…time to begin thinking about Spring projects around here (and most likely it is the same with everyone else, as well).  I am rethinking our plans for a side yard garden this year. For the work put in for the past two years we have gained very little in return. I am beginning to think my green thumb is more a gray or black color.

On a positive note, we are working on getting my new laundry line up. I was hoping to have a fence up by now, but it looks like it may never happen which means I cannot have my solar dryer up where I really want it to be. I have to hide it behind the house, which presents an entirely new problem–the GAS LINE! {deep sigh}. My Hero is in the process of making the base where I might be able to move it if/when we do get a fence. Using a 5 gallon bucket, he set the base inside with concrete and hopes to bury it temporarily for immediate use. Currently I have it placed over a huge stand/base that we use to support some rather large outdoor Christmas decorations.

A couple of days ago, I hung my first laundry load of the spring and boy was it a challenge! Not only does the stand make it a bit tall (I am 6’1″ so that means it is REALLY tall for most people), but once I hung the first towel, the wind would spin the line around like a whirlygig. I am sure it was a sight watching me try to hang on to the line while balancing the towels and clothespins…all in the process of hanging them without dropping them in the dirt first. My Hero promises he will rig something up so that the next time we have sustained 40 mph winds and 60 mph gusts I won’t feel as though the line will gain some lift and fly off to Nebraska. :)

Heinz Wholesome Memories Intergenerational Garden Awards

Children and gardens go together right? Then why are both of my daughters skeptical of my attempts at sustainable or environmentally responsible living? Neither show the slightest interest in gardening (organic or otherwise) recycling, saving energy (unless it is their own), or downsizing. Yesterday as I was perusing my newest Mother Earth News, I came across an article about a couple living in a tiny house. When I mentioned that I would like to do the same, JMorgan just shook her head and said she “just doesn’t understand” me. Hais has severe issues with me line drying her clothes in the warmer months. Not only does she NOT like the crispness of the clothing, but she deplores the scent…what is wrong with her?

Of course, this is all poked in fun…well at least on MY part…but my girls definitely do not share any of my passion for organics nor environmental responsibility. Where did I go wrong?

Today I came across a grant contest sponsored by Heinz for inter-generational gardening. Though sad that I have no little ones at home with whom to enjoy this project, I found it to be quite interesting. An application can be found at KidsGardening.org

from the website…

“Heinz Wholesome Memories Intergenerational Garden Award will help families grow memories together. Recognizing the power of gardens to connect individuals of all ages socially, culturally, and emotionally, the H. J. Heinz Company is proud to sponsor the Heinz Wholesome Memories Intergenerational Garden Award, designed to foster family-focused garden efforts in communities across the country. The award will provide 57 families with the tools needed to embark on a successful gardening adventure that will foster lasting intergenerational memories while growing wholesome food.”

Winning applicants will receive a $500 Award package including:
Kids’ Tool Set
Preschool Kids’ Tool Set
Cedar Raised Container Garden
SofTouch Hand Tool Set
Picture Pockets, Large
Zinc Plant Markers
GeoBin Composter
3 pairs Kids Work Gloves (1 of each size)
Watering Can
Kangaroo Pop-Up
Veggie Garden Seed Collection
5 Gardening Journals
Down & Dirty Activity Book
Intergenerational Gardening Tip Sheet
Heinz® Tomato Seeds

KidsGardening.org states the entry deadline is January 10, 2o10 and last year’s winners can be found on the Heinz website.  With an empty nest here at our place, we are a bit late to apply, but I hope that you will apply today!

Christmas 2009

In years past it has been our tradition to set a formal table for Christmas Eve Dinner. This year was no different, with the exception of an added guest. Many hours and days are spent preparing for this one meal where all the china and crystal is set for a festive celebration. Two days of shopping in two seperate cities were spent looking for some of the items for the dinner and two days of cooking culminated into a seven course meal which included an aperitif.
After the meal, as we were all finally able to sit around the living room, each of us expressed an interest in change. As tired as I was at the moment, I listened with interest. We all decided that next year we might lean more toward a more casual affair. I jokingly mentioned that we could have taken a quick weekend vacation for what it cost for the meal….OR we could have least dined on the most elegant cuisine and not had the worry of preparation and clean up afterwards. The time spent “working” could have been better spent playing games and interacting…all in the same room.
After a bit of consideration, I am thinking that this may have been the very last “fancy” Christmas Eve meal. Of course, I do not think I will resort to eating at Burger King as I did on Thanksgiving, but a less labor intensive meal will be in order. If this change does come about I will, however, refuse to change my own favorite rule of “MOMMA DOESN’T COOK on CHRISTMAS DAY!” just because I am simplifying Christmas Eve. :)

A Green Christmas?

Several times, My Hero has asked me what I want for Christmas. Every year I beg for Mr. Clean Magic Erasers for my stocking. I am almost embarrased to say, but one Christmas the Erasers were not in my stocking, nor were they under the tree…and boy did I pout. I was so, so, so disappointed! Don’t think he will ever make that mistake again.

This year, I am asking Santa for a solar dryer! Yep! A REAL clothesline, not a make shift line tied between a pole and a hook on the garage. After a couple of days of research, I believe I have made my choice. I think I like the idea of a parallel collapsible clothesline. Whitney make a galvanized steal arm version of a parallel with 182 feet of hanging space. With this type of clothesline, I can store it away during the winter or when we have guests in the back yard.


Unless I want to drive about 150 miles, I have no way of being able to see these in person or to compare a parallel with an umbrella. The parallel above is on sale at Amazon at the moment. After searching several sites, I have found that Amazon has the best price on the Whitney Designs 4000 Parellel Clothesline, so I am thinking I will be including the url on the list I hand over to My Hero Santa.

This past summer was more than crazy for us and I am ashamed to admit that I didn’t feel I had the time to do  what was best for the environment. I never hung any clothes on the line and our electric and gas bill showed it.  Summer before last we saw a 33% energy savings over the prior summer. Soon after Christmas this year, as our household quiets down, I plan to have more time for being more environmentally responsible. The new clothesline is only a first step in the right direction.


From the Sideyard~City Wildlife

Most of you know that, because of large trees, most of any gardening we do is in the side yard. Due to some major life events this past year, there was no gardening at all. Partly due to time constraints, but mostly to do with lack of motivation.

Looking out the kitchen window was fairly depressing, so I set out to add some minor points of interest on which to gaze while doing my least favorite chore of washing the dishes. I love to watch wildlife out my window, but because we have always had cats, very few species dared to entire our yard. Now that we are kitty-less I decided it was time to start feeding the birds again. In the past we felt it pointless and almost cruel to provide a “kitty-buffet” for not only our brood, but the multiple strays that wondered in. Now that we have none of our own, we have fewer feline visitors.

We put up corn feeding stations for the squirrels, who now provide us with much entertainment, and two bird feeders. We only feed safflower, nuts, and black oil sunflowers in hopes to pull in the specific species of birds. Along with the feeders, I provided a “make-shift” watering spot as well. Every day, as I would stand at the sink, I wondered how long it would be before the little darlings found the bird feeders. Every day I was met with disappointment….UNTIL TODAY! Today, my patience was rewarded with the site of two finches!

This week we also actually planted some mums that I had sitting in pots on my front porch in hopes of saving them before another (major) freeze. No sustainable vegetable gardening going on here at the  moment, but I figure that about February I will be perusing seed catalogs and dreaming of a greener side yard for spring.

Squirrels provide such great entertainment with silly antics. These next photos were taken on the first day that the squirrels found the “stash” we had provided for them.

WordPress Theme Woes

Since I have been away for so long, I wouldn’t expect that many readers are still around. I thought that after my children were sent off to college that things would calm down enough for me to re-establish myself in blogdomhood….NOT! I have checked in here a few times, but when I noticed that there were some technical issues with my sidebar I just could not devote the time to figuring out a solution. This is something that the blog did itself…without my help….because it was fine one day….several days as a matter of fact…since the last post and everything was fine. Then one day I sauntered in here and found I had no sidebar. What is it called when the bar is no longer at the side, but at the bottom?

As much as I hate having to give up my personalized header, I guess I am going to search for yet another WordPress theme. I know my theme was not overly professional, but it was MINE…unlike anyone elses. So with deep regrets of not having a better technology ability, I must forge forward with someone else’s theme. Don’t know how long it will take me to find the right one…but a-huntin’ I shall go…..

Climate Change Seen as a Security Threat?

From GreenBiz.com

Climate Change as a Security Threat

A front-page story in Sunday’s New York Times proclaimed Climate Change Seen as a Threat to U.S. Security, describing how climate change could lead to “profound strategic challenges to the United States in coming decades, raising the prospect of military intervention to deal with the effects of violent storms, drought, mass migration and pandemics.”

The story noted that “Such climate-induced crises could topple governments, feed terrorist movements or destabilize entire regions, say the analysts, experts at the Pentagon and intelligence agencies who for the first time are taking a serious look at the national security implications of climate change.”

The Times writers, like so many others, have short memories. This is hardly “the first time” the military has examined this topic.
{snip}

More HERE.

Back to school, or back to the poor house?

Living on a Dime

Back to school is a time when many moms witness their money sprout wings and take flight, finding their homes at retail stores across America. I know that consumer spending is good for the economy, but I don’t take it upon myself to keep the entire US economy propped up, so when my first-grade son announced that he wanted a backpack with rollers, I saw this as a wonderful financial teaching moment. His school is small, and he doesn’t walk to or from school. He didn’t need rollers.

I told my son that I would give him $8 toward a backpack. I told him that if he wanted a fancier one, he could put up some of his allowance money for the difference. That’s the rule at our house. Mom and Dad buy the basics the kids buy the extras. It was amazing how my son’s perception of the need for rollers changed when his allowance was on the line. Yes, he has concluded, a regular backpack will do the trick this year.

Thousands of parents are buying back-to-school supplies. From crayons and notebooks to calculators and lunch boxes, the list of what to buy can be as long as the list of your kids’ excuses.

I know that you are anxious to get your kids back into school, but there is no need to take out a second mortgage just to get them in school. Instead, use some of these money-saving tips from www.LivingOnADime.com and you can happily send your kids to school and keep some of the cash for mom’s back-to school celebration!

*Wait for the list to come out and stick to it, otherwise you might buy things you don’t need. Remember, the Bank of Mom doesn’t pay for frills. Any extras the kids want will have to be funded from their own cash reserves. I do understand that it is nice for kids to have “hip” back-to-school supplies. I look at yard sales and thrift stores for brand-name finds. For instance, I recently found a gently used Barbie backpack and a Barbie lunch box and no one would know that I paid $1.00 each instead of the $32 that Becky Johnson’s mom paid. Who says stay at home mom’s don’t make any money?

*Don’t buy back to school clothes. Children don’t need an entirely new wardrobe every fall. Some mom’s act as if aliens clothes-napped their kids clothes the night before school and the fashion police will come arrest them if they donít buy the latest designer clothes right away. The kids wore clothes all year long, didn’t they? If they need something like a new pair of shoes or new jeans then buy what they need, but donít just buy a new wardrobe because it’s the thing to do.

*Use back to school sales to your advantage.

If you know your kids go through a package of socks, underwear or jeans every six months then stock up while they are on sale. The same is true of crayons, paper, notebooks, backpacks and lunch boxes. My son went through two backpacks and two lunch boxes last year, so this year we will buy two while they are on sale instead of waiting until the middle of the year when they are full price. We will also be checking garage sales between now and then to find any good deals on those items. Donít be tempted to buy things that you wouldn’t normally use, though, just because they’re on sale.

*Go through last year’s school supplies to see which things are still usable. If my student has a working calculator, the Bank of Mom will not extend credit for a new one.

*Limit activities to one at a time. Activity fees can add up fast. One at a time is the rule at our house. If you can’t afford the activity, it doesn’t hurt for the kids to use their own money to pay for it. The best way to teach them money management is to let them manage their own money when they have nothing to lose, instead of after they have maxed out the credit cards someone persuaded then to sign up for in college.

 

Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam are frugal living experts and the authors of the Dining On A Dime Cookbook. Dining On A Dime will help you save money on groceries and get out of debt, by cooking quick and simple homemade meals. For free tips & recipes visit http://livingonadime.com

 

 


Chipotle’s and Food, Inc.

Okay, so I haven’t yet told you the highlight of my day trip to Wichita. We ate supper at Chipotle’s Mexican Grill. I was first introduced to Chipotle’s a couple of years ago in Manhattan, Kansas. My Hero had eaten there a few times with one of his fellow managers and wanted me to give it a try. It was after this trip that I wanted to cover all of my basement walls in corrugated steal, just as Chipoltle’s wanescotting throughout their restaurant.

To be truthful, however, when My Hero mentioned going again tonight, all I could remember about the food before was that it was a tad spicy, the choices were confusing, and there was a lot of it.  Tonight I wasn’t as intimidated by the menu, which could have been because I was just so darn hungry and didn’t care. I ate three of the most yummiest barbacoa tacos ….loaded!

While we were there I noticed a “Food, Inc.” poster on the wall. Maybe some of you are familiar with said poster, but it states…

“I hope that all our customers see this film. The more they know about where their food comes from, the more they will appreciate all we do.”

Steve Ells, Founder and Co-CEO of Chipotle Mexican Grill

I had heard of Food, Inc., but knew with our geographic limitations, the chances of me getting to view the movie were pretty slim. Seeing the poster in the restaurant renewed my interested. Looking at the menus, all the meat descriptions include the words “naturally raised”.

From their website…

” When you order naturally raised beef at Chipotle, here is what you are getting (and not getting):
· No added growth hormones, ever.
· No antibiotics, ever.
· Vegetarian feed with no animal by-products.”

Further investigation found that Chipotle’s believes in Food With Integrity. “FWI is a philosophy solidly based on a foundation of not exploiting animals, the environment, or people.”

The trailer from the movie……

 
(something happened to the link for the trailer, so I have replaced it with this YouTube version.)

Maybe you have already visited Chipotle’s before….maybe it is your favorite restaurant…I don’t know. After perusing their wonderful website and really undertanding their philosophy, I will be returning and certainly recommending to anyone who will listen. I hope that you will take a moment to look over their website….there is just so much to see.

Tech Lesson Learned Today

Learned something new today. 

Hais’s brand new tablet computer fell off of her bed last night and she could not get it to boot. She contacted tech support (in India somewhere) and they “diagnosed” something was wrong with the hard drive. That left me having to drive to Wichita today to see about getting it repaired. Best Buy said that it could take a month or longer to get the computer back. Time was important, since in a bit over a month, Hais will be leaving for college. She was a bit panicked over the Comp papers store on the computer…that are due tomorrow, as well.

This is the first time that I have been in a Best Buy since the Geek Squad had been introduced and I must say that I was somewhat impressed. Well the short of the story is…..the lady at Best Buy had no difficulties what-so-ever booting the computer. I guess it just needed a bit of rest and recovery from its heavy fall onto the wood floor of Hais’ bedroom.

Lesson learned today….before you drive two hours to turn in an insurance claim on your daughter’s computer first make certain that it is indeed damaged and then right before you leave….check it again.

The upside of all of this was that I was able to shop a little while I was in Wichita. Found the perfect Marilyn Monroe poster for Hais’ dorm room and had fun at the Super Target. I must really be boring if this was the highlight of my day…haha!

Want a New Wind Turbine?

T. Boone Pickens needs to find homes for 687 giant wind turbines after calling off plans for his huge wind farm project in Texas.

Pickens Calls Off Massive Wind Farm in Texas

from the AP

HOUSTON – Plans for the world’s largest wind farm in the Texas Panhandle have been scrapped, energy baron T. Boone Pickens said Tuesday, and he’s looking for a home for 687 giant wind turbines.

Pickens has already ordered the turbines, which can stand 400 feet tall — taller than most 30-story buildings.

“When I start receiving those turbines, I’ve got to … like I said, my garage won’t hold them,” the legendary Texas oilman said. “They’ve got to go someplace.”

{snip}

In Texas, the problem lies in getting power from the proposed site in the Panhandle to a distribution system, Pickens said in an interview with The Associated Press in New York. He’d hoped to build his own transmission lines but he said there were technical problems.

{snip}

Renewable energy provides a small fraction of electricity used today, but the wind and solar sectors are the fastest growing in the U.S. In 2008, the U.S. became the world’s leading provider of wind power.

Like most industries around the world, the recession has hurt wind turbine manufacturers and wind farm developers. Companies have shelved development plans and laid off workers.

Check out the video HERE.

Project Laundry List

Many of you know that I have a thing about air drying our clothes. Unfortunately, I do not have a fancy-smancy, nor handy-dandy, laundry line….just a make-do-with-whatcha’-got line that is cobbled from an inexpensive retractable single line attached to my garage and ending on at a tall pvc pipe slipped over a t-post. Isn’t that something?

Last year I reported to you that we had cut our utility costs by 33% for the months of June/July and that I felt that solar drying and cold water washing made the huge difference. Unfortunately, my solar drying is meeting with some opposition this year from Hais and JMorgan. Both cannot stand the smell of fresh, air dried laundry…nor do they care for the crisp feel of nature on their clothes. Between their protests and my own issues with my life being totally unorganized I confess that my solar dryer is not getting much attention this summer. I still hang MY nicer clothes up in the basement instead of letting the dryer vent fill up with the threads from my favorite garments, but I have to admit that I have thrown loads of towels into the dryer lately.

Maybe the wet beginnings of summer kept me from getting in the groove with things…or maybe it is that I am just being lazy because my thoughts are scattered from here to yon. Who knows? Maybe today will be the day I begin to work toward re-establishing my old laundry habits. Hais’ comforter is hanging on the line as I write. She will be home from school in a few hours…maybe it will be dry before she arrives and I can just throw it in on her bed without her noticing. Maybe she won’t notice the lovely aroma…maybe it will soke up the “aroma” from her room before she gets home….maybe I can get away with saving some money while making a tiny impact on energy overuse.  We’ll see.

For those of you who are looking for ideas and motivation for solar drying your own clothes, I strongly urge you to take a look at Project Laundry List. From their website….

“Project Laundry List is making air-drying laundry acceptable and desirable

as a simple and effective way to save energy.

 

Save approximately 15% on your energy bill.

Do your laundry the green way.

 

Want your clothes to last longer?
Use a clothesline and cold water wash.”

 

They even have a store where the profits benefit the non-profit Project Laundry List.

See what I ordered? Adorable! I can hardly wait for it to arrive…..

 

from the website….
Nova Scotia Dress Clothespin Bag

“These beautiful bags are sewn in Nova Scotia by a woman who spent decades pinning things up on her clothesline. She wanted to have a place to store the pins that was attractive and whimsical. We bring you…the Nova Scotia Dress Clothespin Bag.”

Stop by and take a look at all they have to offer at the Project Laundry List Store.

Sustainable Living Field Laboratory

I just love this guy! A few years ago, John Wells left his New York live to build an alternative energy and sustainable living field laboratory. Southwest Texas Alternative Energy And Sustainable Living Field Laboratory is an inspiration toward a greater sustainability for all. John shares his poem, “The Best is the West” which gives us a light look at his journey todate.

Saving $54 on Laundry Soap

Saving money is always a good thing. Some save by using coupons, others by cutting back on purchases, but on some necessary items cutting back is not an option. Unless a national brand product is on sale…at a great price…I almost always purchase store brands of products. In our home, purchasing generic laundry soap is a necessity. I cringe everytime I see that $15-20 price tag on the large bottles of Tide, Cheer, etc.

I have shared my laundry soap recipe here before, but today I am sharing someone else’s recipe. Many of you are familiar with the Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar Family with 18 beautiful children and their television series. While looking for a tator tot casserole recipe for My Hero, I came across Michelle Duggar’s recipe for laundry soap. Though it called for the same ingredients as the recipe I have been using, the amounts and directions were different. After giving her recipe a try this time, I believe that I prefer her method rather than mine. Check out her LAUNDRY SOAP RECIPE.

The Duggars also have a new book The Duggars: 20 and Counting!: Raising One of America’s Largest Families–How they Do It that answers questions that many of us have about their amazing family.

Michele’s original recipe calls for a Fels-Naptha Bar, but I used a bit over one bar of pink Zote Soap in my version, which gives it a nice pinkish shimmer. There is a  white Zote Laundry Soap  that I have found online, but not in my local store yet. You will notice in the photo that I have reused older detergent bottles, but some of the mixture is stored in a recycled juice jug. I just could not throw any of it out…so I stole My Hero’s water jug.

Photobucket

Guestimating the current cost of each of the containers, I figure we saved around $54 with making my own soap. Those boxes of borax and washing soda were purchased well over a year ago..so it almost feels as if this was all free. Not knowing how to figure the energy usage cost, we did not take that out of the total..but I do know that the supply cost is around $2. Not bad!

May the Farm be with You, Always!

I found this entertaining and informative video,Store Wars”, over at Mother Earth Soup via Path to Freedom. With characters Cuke Skywalker, Obi Wan Canolli, Darth Tater, and Chew Broccoli, the Free Range Studios video is a humorous look at organic vs. chemical grown foods.  I hope you will enjoy “May the Farm be With You” as much as I did.


Be sure to check out Mother Earth Soup and Free Range Studios.

Build Your Own Compost Tumbler

I have always wanted to purchase a compost tumbler, but felt that they were a costly, frivolous purchase. Not being very mechanically minded, I could never figure out how to build my own either, but after visiting How-to Homestead I think this would be an easy enough project that I might be able to complete myself. Finding a large food grade barrel may be an issue, but I already have the remaining supplies.

Backyard Self-Sufficiency

Well, I finally did it…I purchased Backyard Self-Sufficiency by Jackie French.

From the back cover…

“Self-sufficient gardens are beautiful: a ramble of productivity, a profusion of smells and colour.  We’ve forgotten how beautiful edible plants can be: fat, red apples and trendrils of grapes; bountiful red-flowering perennial beans, and soft, feathery fennel; the wide, bright blooms of passionfruit, and the scent of orange blossom on a summer night.  It’s like a Garden of Eden in your own backyard!”

Though she lives in Australia and her garden advice is based on Australian seasons and soil, Jackie French offers many ideas and suggestions that will be useful in moving forward with the development of our own self-sufficiency here in small town America.

You may recognize Jackie as the author of Diary of a Wombat, a delightful children’s book with whimsical illustrations. Diary of a Wombat is an ALA Notable Children’s Book, Younger Reader Awards Winner. When I was teaching fulltime, I used Diary of a Wombatin lesson plans and Writer’s Workshop. It is a great book for classroom filled with diverse learners and is mentioned in other educational/teacher resource books.
Mostly thought, Diary of a Wombatis just fun to read whether by an adult or child.

FEMA Trailers for $5

Obama Administration to announce Katrina housing transition plans….

The Obama administration will announce plans today to virtually give away roughly 1,800 mobile homes to 3,400 families displaced by Hurricane Katrina who are living in government-provided housing along the Gulf Coast, officials said.

Read the full story from the Washington Post HERE.

I do not know all the particulars, but weren’t the Greensburg FEMA trailer occupants forced to pay rent when they were trying to phase out FEMAville…something like $600 a month?  This just doesn’t seem right!

First Day of Attending College Together

DD1 (we have to decide an alias for her soon) has moved back up here, from Texas, to attend summer school with Hais. This is the first time in many years that they have attended the same school at the same time. Both are taking 6 hours this first summer session and after the first day, both realize the huge challenge before them.

Life promises to become very interesting these next few weeks, as the stress of working…taking classes…and still wanting to be a kid…all mesh together in this short semester. I hope that all of you will be sending me good vibes and lots of positive thoughts to get us through these weeks.

DD1 and Hais on the first day of attending college together. The “grann-mobile” is in the background.

Zero Hour

Today is the last day that my baby walks through her school’s doors as a student. Graduation is tomorrow. Family has already begun to arrive. The house isn’t ready, nor is the Hall for her reception following commencement…..but it somehow it doesn’t matter. I cannot believe I am going to let people see my house in the disarray it is in…but somehow it doesn’t matter.

Comment anyone?

I am not certain, but I think I may have my comments thingy fixed. I have no idea why or how the problem came about, nor I am certain how I fixed it, but I hope it stays fixed.

We have been sooo busy here getting ready for Hais’ graduation next week. My baby is on her way to being on her own soon.

Comment Difficulties

Thanks to Mrs. M over at Freaky Frugalite for letting me know that there is a problem with leaving comments on my posts. I noticed this a couple of times when I was trying to leave comments on others’ blogs, but was unaware of the same difficulty here at my place.

Being totally and completely technologically “dumb”, I do not know where to begin to find out where the difficulty hides. If anyone has any suggestions, I would certainly be very happy to hear them. In the meantime, I will continue searching for an answer.

I am a HUGE Fan

Posting on my blogs has been very sporatic lately, however I occasionally surf around to other blogs in an attempt to keep up with everyone. Today I came across the cutest blogger “award” over at I am Harrietactually it is not an award at all…just a gesture to let your blogger friends know you are a fan.

Harriet has proclaimed April as “Tell ’em You’re a Fan Month”   with this cute li’l widget to share.

There are so many blogs that I just love…I want to send the love out to everyone….but I am starting with:

(in no certain order)

CindyDianne

Hot Belly Mama

Wisdom of the Trowel

Brazos Cowgirl

The Zahn Zone

Freaky Frugalite

Homesteading Housewife

Prairie Dreams

Peak Oil Hausfrau

…and of course back to HARRIET also!

The guidelines are very simple…

For April:

 

Tell your favorite blog sites that you’re a fan.

 

        1. Leave a comment or an email for your favorite blogger telling them that you are a fan of the site.

2. Feel free to snag the image  to present to your blog friend or post on your sitewhen it is awarded to you.

3. When you receive more than one fan, put the number of fans you have received under the image.

4. The more fans you receive=the better!

HAVE FUN!

chasing the wind…errr tornado

Concern over tornadoes is just a way of life in our area. I found this online article about a unprecedented upcoming Tornado chasing effort in Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Nebraska and the Texas panhandle. $10mil is the expected budget for such a huge endeavor.

The chase will run between May 10 and June 13th of this year….and we have a huge week long camping trip planned at Meade State Park right in the middle of it. The way my luck has been runnin’ maybe we ought to take out some extra insurance.

 BIGGEST TORNADO CHASING EFFORT EVER PLANNED

Though I was not directly affected by the Greensburg tornado, I realize that my family will never be the same since that weekend. I never returned to work (well except for one day) after that night. Our flooded basement was nothing in comparison with the devastation seen by those in Greensburg that night.  I remember sitting in front of the television and the internet while listening to the radio…worried about my daughter who traveled on her way to a State Forensics Meet, through Greensburg,  less than 45 minutes prior to the tornado swallowing the town. All night we visited on the cell phone, worried about the other storms in their path. Upon her return two days later, the little van carrying a frightened team dodged tornadoes and large hail off an on for 4 hours.

When I lived in Texas, I loved thunderstorms. I enjoyed the thunder and lightening. Don’t get me wrong, Texas has its share of tornadoes…but it seems that here in Kansas EVERY thunderstorm brings a tornado somewhere. An exaggeration? Yes…but it does feel as though I cannot enjoy thunder without worrying about tornadoes.

So $10 million does sound like a lot of money…but if I were on the voting committee to approve the funds…..I would ask to vote YES….TWICE!

My (not so) Frugal Moments

Money has never flowed freely for us, so I am always looking for ways to cut back on costs.  With my DIY projects, DH often tells me “your time is worth more than that”, but my thought is that if what you are doing is not keeping you from making money, then your time is NOT worth “more than that”.  My theory is that if you have to have something done…AND…you don’t have the $$ to pay for it, then DIY is your only choice.

If you are making something yourself (that has to be purchased)…say…like…ummmm….graduation announcements? If  the end result is half the cost of the Josten’s school announcements….that is a good thing right? (disclaimer: don’t tell anyone…but…. sometimes my ideas end up costing more money than what would have originally been spent. Shhhhh! ) For instance... those aforementioned Josten’s announcements run approximately $1.50 each. I think having the “official” announcement chosen by certain members of the senior class is important, but not necessarily important enough to send to everyone on our grad list. Last year, some family members had photo memory announcements designed that ended up costing about $1 each.

After looking at a few of those announcements, I thought…goodness! I can design these…AND I have a reasonably priced printing source that could make my announcements half of even that cost. Well Prom was the past weekend, which means it is time to begin working on those announcements. So far, I have spent four solid days of designing and I STILL don’t have an end product with which I am satisfied. After looking at several designs online, my designs are not quite up to par. My ideas are good I think, but my software is failing me.

So this is where I whisper to you, again, that my ideas sometimes cost me more than if I had just gone ahead and purchased someone else’s work. I have been looking at an upgrade to my software for quite some time now, but just could not rationalize spending the money.  In this lifetime, I will never be able to afford Adobe, Dreamweaver, Expressions II, etc. Print Shop is more inline with my budget. I wanted to upgrade to the Print Shop Pro Publisher 23, which would be the third version I have purchased over the years, but I still was having a bit of a time letting go of the cash. Yesterday, after 5 hours of non-stop mistakes and redoes of one announcment, what did I find in my email inbox but a nice 33% discount on thePSPP! In my exhaustion, my willpower was weak and out came the plastic and just like that my new version is on its way.

The way I calculate it, that makes those announcements closer to that $1 each mark now… depending on how many we actually purchase. So there you go….save pennies…spend dollars.

Solar Cookin’ Time

Saturday was perfect! Lots of sunshine…temps in the 70s….a kitchen that was torn apart because of painting….and a roast that begged to be eaten. In between paint strokes, DH brought the solar cooker up from the basement and cleaned it up a bit so I could cook. He was very helpful, but I suspect he not only found this an easy diversion from his difficult task, but HE suspected that it might be the only way he would get fed on Saturday.

Some of you may remember that I purchased this solar cooker about this time last year, but it did not arrive until well into the heat of summer. Unfortunately, it has yet to pay for itself in energy savings…but in entertainment dollars it has its own account built. Since it was so beautiful outside, I decided that there was no better time than the present to get back in the groove of cooking outside.

At approximately 10:45 A.M., I had my pan full of FROZEN roast, cut up potatoes and carrots, and a bit of onion to add some interest, all ready to place in the cooker. DH had the cooker set on the saw table out in the side yard. As I placed the pot into the cooker, I quickly became disappointed. I had chosen the wrong pot…it was too big for the cooker. It was then that I remembered this from last year. Back to the kitchen I went to find a smaller roaster. After searching and searching for the lid to the smaller pot, it was Hais who found it in the first place she looked.

Back to the cooker I went. We set it all up…latched the cover, connected the reflectors, turned it toward the sun…and I stood there thinking..somethings not right. Geeez! The sun is still a bit low in the sky! I needed to turn the cooker on the other side! DH was becoming increasingly concerned about where my mind had gone, but we finally got it all turned around and on its way to cooking by 11:15 A.M.

The beginning temps were 150° , but soon reached 170° by 11:24 and by 12:15 P.M. it was on its way to some real cookin’ at 225°.
Around that time, I added another pot with frozen black-eyed peas to the simple solar cooker and placed it on the ground.
Every hour or so, one of us would go outside to check the temperature and the track the sun, making any adjustments that were needed. Around 2:50, the temps were hovering around 250° and remained there until the sun began its western descent. When I brought the roast in, there was a shadow falling partially on the cooker and yet the temp was still around 225°.
Since I had not opened the pot once to check on the roast during this time, I was not certain what to expect. I figured that if it was not finished cooking, I could move the cooker further out away from the house to continue cooking..or I could nuke it or pan fry it as a worst case scenario.

We were pleasantly surprised with the outcome, so much so that we finished off the entire meal in no time flat. Guess all of that painting built up a huge appetite.

I enjoyed this solar cooking experience so much that I decided to become a Global Sun Oven Dealer. More about that sooooon!

GiveAway at $5 Dinners!

You know how I love a great contest or giveaway, right? Well I stumbled across this lovely new website, $5 Dinners.com, and Erin is offering a yummy Sister Schuberts Giveaway of a basket filled with some scrumptuous goodies.

sister-schubert-basket

A ~snip~ from $5 Dinners.com….“Valued at $49, the hand-painted gift basket comes with two pans of Sister Schubert’s rolls, a choice of Sister Schubert’s specialty gift products, a package of Mook’s Cheese Straws, two packs of Red Diamond Estate coffee and a hand-decorated, seasonal cookie.”

Erin’s goal is to make $5 Dinners for my family every night of the week and she generously shares tips, ideas, menus, and coupon sources to help us tighten the belt at our homes.

The contest ends on Thursday, March 26th, so RUN~~don’t walk~~over to $5Dinners.com.

Let’s Eat the WhiteHouse Lawn

Well Kitchen Gardens International was successful….

The ground is broken for the WhiteHouse Kitchen Garden

First lady Michelle Obama takes part in the groundbreaking of the White House

AP – First lady Michelle Obama takes part in the groundbreaking of the White House Kitchen Garden on the South {~snip~}

WASHINGTON – Twenty-six elementary schoolchildren wielded shovels, rakes, pitchforks and wheelbarrows to help first lady Michelle Obama break ground for a produce and herb garden on the White House grounds.

Crops to be planted in the coming weeks on the 1,100-square-foot, L-shaped patch near the fountain on the South Lawn include spinach, broccoli, various lettuces, kale and collard greens, assorted herbs and blueberries, blackberries and raspberries.

There will also be a beehive.

“We’re going to try to make our own honey here as well,” Mrs. Obama told the students from Bancroft Elementary School in Washington. The school has its own community garden.

{~snip~}

I am the most excited to hear more about the on-grounds apiary!

Bread Baking Basics from Jill Cooper

Bread Baking Basics

by Jill Cooper

Living on a Dime 

We get so many questions about how to make homemade bread, so I thought I would try to answer just a few of them today. Don’t let all this information make it seem too involved and scare you away from making bread. Once you get used to it, it really isn’t a whole lot harder than baking a cake. Just read the information and then follow the recipe step by step.

I once read a book by an older woman on how to bake a pie. She said bake one everyday for 2 weeks and at the end of that time you will know how to bake a pie. That rule applies for many things, including bread baking. Things may seem a little awkward or difficult at first, but after you have made it 14 times you will have learned what not to do and will get comfortable with it. There really was a lot of wisdom in what that older woman said.

We didn’t put my favorite recipe for homemade bread in Dining on a Dime because it isn’t quite as frugal as others, but I thought some of you might like it now. Also, I will give you my grandmother-in-law’s very frugal recipe.

Before I share the recipe, here are some useful tips on baking bread:

  • Unless the recipe states otherwise in the recipe, heat about 1/4-1/2 cup of the water to 120-130° or until it is hot when you put your finger in it. It can’t be too hot or too cold. This is one of the most important parts of making the bread. With practice and time, you will start being able to tell when you have the correct temperature.When the water is hot enough, add part of the sugar (about 2 Tbsp.) to the water and then the yeast. You add sugar because yeast feeds on sugar. This process is called proofing. The yeast should start foaming, which tells you it’s good and also that you haven’t gotten the water too hot. If nothing happens, your yeast is dead for one reason or another so you need to get some new yeast or try it again with a different water temperature.It is also good to do this because proofing the yeast gives the bread a better start. So you don’t get confused, there are some recipes where you add the yeast with the flour and other ingredients and can’t proof. That’s OK because those recipes make up for it by calling for you to mix the ingredients with a mixer.
  • When you can, add a 1/2-1 cup of mashed potatoes to your bread recipe or, in place of regular water, use water you have used to cook your potatoes. Yeast loves potatoes and the more it eats, the bigger it grows, making the bread lighter and fluffier.
  • Never add salt with your yeast and water because the salt will kill it.
  • Have all ingredients at room temperature. Don’t forget to take the eggs out and let them warm up.
  • If the recipe says to add enough flour to make a stiff dough, just add the flour until it is slightly sticky, taking that last 1/2 cup or so of flour and putting it on your kneading surface. Then knead the last of the flour into the bread. If you get to much flour in the recipe, it makes the bread tough. Beginners sometimes put in all the flour that the recipe calls for and then add more flour on the board to knead, it causing the dough to get too stiff.
  • You can’t knead bread too much. Knead until it is very smooth and elastic, usually about 10-15 minutes. I know that is a long time. That is why I don’t make bread as often since I have had CFS. I made my best bread on the days my husband would come into the kitchen, spy my dough and start pounding on it. He had more strength than I and always did a better job of kneading.
  • I always roll my dough into a 14×9 rectangle then roll it jelly roll style and put it in the pan. This helps to get rid of any large air bubbles you might have in the dough that can leave large pockets and holes in your bread.
  • I have tried many methods to raise bread, from putting it in a covered bowl on the stove to putting it in the car on a warm day. What I found works best for me is to heat my oven on the lowest temperature while I am mixing my dough. After about 5 minutes of heating, I turn the oven off, turn my oven light on and place the dough in my oven (not covering). It works great every time. The heat from the light seems to give it the right amount of warmth.I also do this when I put the bread in the pans to rise. I place the dough in the oven to rise using the method I described above (reheating the oven and turning it off). Then, when it is almost double in size, I leave it where it is and turn the oven on to the temperature that the bread is supposed to bake and bake it.
  • Most recipes say to let bread double in size and, to see if it is ready, press your finger into it. If the dent stays, it is ready. After you have made several loaves, you can pretty much tell when it is ready. When I use the method for raising dough I describe above, I skip this test because my bread finishes rising the last little bit while the oven is preheating.
  • Most bread doughs can be frozen. Mix and knead. Shape into loaves, mini loaves or rolls, not letting it rise. Wrap very well and freeze. When you want to use it, thaw and let it rise. It will keep in the freezer about 4 weeks, but after that the yeast starts going bad.
  • When you freeze or in store home baked breads, be sure to wrap them well. Bread can lose its moisture. If you don’t think you will use it quickly, freeze part of the already baked bread, because it can dry out and get moldy faster than store bought bread. This is the reason our great-grandmothers came up with recipes like bread pudding and French toast.
  • If your bread isn’t quite done but is getting too brown, you can tent with foil. To test whether or not it is done, thump it with your fingers and it should sound hollow.

Here’s my favorite bread recipe. It is a cinnamon bread but when I want to make regular bread, I just make it into loaves without spreading the cinnamon and sugar on it. This makes 2 loaves of bread.

Jill’s Favorite (Cinnamon) Bread

6 1/2 – 7 cups unsifted flour
6 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 pkg. yeast
1 cup milk
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup margarine
3 eggs (room temp.)

Filling:

Margarine, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon

Mix 2 cups flour with sugar, salt and yeast. Put the milk, water and margarine in a large mixing cup and heat in the microwave to 120° or until it feels really hot when you put your finger in it. (The margarine doesn’t need to be melted.) Gradually add to the dry ingredients. Add the eggs and 1/2 cup more of flour. Stir in enough additional flour to make a stiff dough. Turn on to a lightly floured board and knead until smooth and elastic (or you can knead it in the bowl). Place in a greased bowl (It sounds strange, but I use bacon grease), turning to grease the top. Put in warm place (like I mentioned above) and let rise until double; about 35 minutes.

Punch down and divide into 2 halves. Roll into a 14×9 rectangle. If you are making regular bread then, beginning at the 9 inch end, roll as you would a jelly roll, gently making it into a loaf. Divide and place in 2 greased 9×5 bread pans. Let rise again for about 35 minutes until double. Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes. To see if it’s done, thump with your fingers. If it sounds hollow, it is done.

For Cinnamon Bread:

After you have rolled the dough out, spread it with a thick layer of margarine. Then sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon and roll as above. Be sure to tuck the ends under so the goodies won’t ooze out.

Grandma Suhler’s White Bread

This is a great frugal recipe or one to use when you are short on ingredients because it doesn’t call for things like milk or eggs.

This recipe was written the way we did it years ago, with just the ingredients and minimal instructions, so I hope you can figure it out OK. As you will see this, recipe breaks most of the rules I explained above, but her bread was always great.

You might also notice she did most of her kneading and working the bread in her bowl instead of dirtying a counter. One of our readers mentioned doing the same thing on the blog a few days ago.

1 pkg. yeast
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. shortening or margarine
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups water, very warm
Flour (about 6-7 cups)

Shift flour into the above mixture, stirring until it is too thick to stir. Then work with hands, adding flour as needed until it becomes a very stiff dough and won’t stick to your hands. Place in a greased bowl, turning to coat top and set in a warm, draft free place about 1 1/2 hours. (This is why I like my oven method for rising.)

Punch down and let rise 1/2 hour more. Make into loaves or rolls. Makes 2 loaves. Bake at 325° for 1 hour for loaves and 35 minutes for rolls. (I found 375° for 25 minutes also works for the rolls.)

Last Note:

You don’t always have to use as much yeast as the recipe calls for. For example, my original bread recipe called for 2 packages of yeast and it made 2 loaves. I have used just one package for years and it works fine. Grandma’s original recipe was doubled and made 4 loaves but still only used 1 package of yeast.

If a recipe calls for 2 packages of yeast and it makes 2 loaves of regular bread, you can usually just use 1 package to save a little. If you plan on making bread on a regular basis, you might want to buy yeast in bulk or in the jars because it is much less expensive. You can find bulk yeast in warehouse stores or larger grocery stores. Just take some out and freeze the rest. The yeast will stay fresh for up to 3 years this way.

Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam are the authors of Dining On A Dime:1,000 Money Saving Recipes and Tips. Dining On A Dime will help you shop smarter, by cooking simpler meals and by making your own basic cleaning products and beauty aids. For free tips & recipes visit Living on a Dime.

How to Peel a Potato

Growing up in Texas, we had potato salad all year around. I don’t know if it is because the colder months stay around longer in Kansas or what, but it seems it is more of a summer online cuisine in our household now. My mom made the best potato salad ever and always included boiled eggs, sweet red onions, and a bit of mustard in her creation. I try to stay near to her recipe, however I leave my potatoes in larger chunks than she did.

One thing that Mom didn’t teach me was how to prepare the potatoes for the salad. Maybe it is that I didn’t pay attention to those huge potatoes until it came to the mixing, but in my younger days, I always thought you were supposed to peel the potatoes before boiling them. I don’t remember who it was that explained to me you to boil them with the skins on, so that the skins peel away on their own, but I was very thankful for the advice. It made potato salad so much easier.

Today I recieved an email from DH’s (our) niece that included a link to a youtube with Dawn Wells from Gilligan’s Island with instructions of how to peel an Idaho potato. Because of the warnings against opening videos on Facebook, I decided to not open the link from the email and to independently search with keywords in another tab from the YouTube sit and there it was. Mary Ann showing us the most efficient manner for peeling those potatoes. Well, I was so excited to learn one more simple trick to use just prior to the boiling…that I knew I had to share it here. I am sad that I did not learn of this trick in my earlier years of cooking, rather than finding out when I am 50…BUT-I am sincerely looking forward to giving this a try.

Hope you enjoy the video….



This one is going to be filed under “For Dummies Like Me!”

Our Very Last Track Season

State Basketball ended this past weekend and track season has begun. That means it is time for new track shoes, thermal tights, and thermal gloves. In Kansas you just never know what the weather will bring at any given track meet. Hais, our daughter, has had to battle raging wind, rain, sleet, etc. to blistering hot days when she has participated in high school track. This being her senior year, I think that we have finally figured out the different equipment she needs to keep her warm and safe. She works so hard, we want her to be comfortable. This will be the very last chance we get to “do it right”.


One of our favorite places to purchase athletic supplies is EastBay, which is a UPromise.com
partner. Currently the Eastbay contribution is up to 9%, up from 4% not very long ago. Maybe this is because of Bonus Month.
So let’s see, a set of thermal tights will run approximately $120 before tax and high jump shoes will cost approximatley $60. At this new contribution rate, my earnings would be near $12 on something I am going to purchase anyhow. That doesn’t sound like much, but if I earn these “rebates” on a regular basis, say twice a month….that is $288…enough to purchase 1 or 2 textbooks freshman year.

After you sign up for your free account at UPromise.com, visit Eastbay.com for all your Under Armour needs!

Can you spare a 10 spot?

The other night, while surfing around on Facebook, I found my high school Journalism teacher…who is celebrating his 40th year of teaching. OH MY! Feeling a bit nostalgic, I began surfing for classmates. I found a few, but I was having difficulty in finding a current phone number for my best friend from high school, Kathy. Because we had talked around our 30 year reunion time, I knew that I would ultimately find her number in one of my old address books, or in a past email, so I was not very concerned.

{fade in “theme from the twilight zone”}

The very next day, out of the blue, I received an email from her. Kathy was, is and always be…and athlete. She has run the Boston Marathon and has run in many charity races, so it was no surprise that her email explained that she is planning to participate in a 150 mile bike ride to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis. I emailed her to wish her well and she responded that we needed to catch up with a phone call.  I was not prepared for what that phone call revealed.

As we shared “pleasantries” I soon learned that she has fallen on hard times. She shared that in the past two years, aside from death, she has experienced every conceivable tragedy one woman could possibly could. It would not be appropriate for me to share the specific details, but she is now single, last year was laid off from her perfect job of 15 years…which resulted in the most extreme kind of financial devastation, and had a major medical scare. But, that is not the end of it.  Like I said she is an athlete, and for several days during her daily athletic training for a marathon, she began having some symptoms that were believed to be attributed to an electrolyte inbalance. Within three days of her symptoms, she was diagnosed with MS.  Upon hearing this terrible news, my heart sank. I wanted to cry…but you know what….she….all 5’2″ of her……was smiling (yes, I could tell it over the phone) and happy and looking forward to participating in the bike ride. With her debilitating disease limiting her ability to participate in all of the activities she loves, she was still as chipper as always.

So often, when people who have had as much happen in such a short period of time, attitudes are not of a giving nature. Not Kathy—she continues with her life of giving…even when so much has been taken from her. It is an honor to say I know this person. Having said all of that…..I would like to share the link to Kathy’s MS Bike Ride page so that you can read her own thoughts on the disease and the ride …HERE. Kathy’s goal is to raise $2500 for her ride. Yes, I know that money is tight for most everyone right now, but any amount you could spare to donate to the MS Society on behalf of Kathy’s brave 150 mile bicycle ride. Remember that even the smallest contribution is appreciated and helps Kathy reach her goal.

Air Drying Without a Clothesline

 

 In celebration of great weather and being able to hang my freshly washed blankets and sheets on my laundry line, I am posting this article submission from Jill Cooper at
LIVING ON A DIME.

 

Air Drying Clothes Without A Clothesline

By Jill Cooper


Living on a Dime

 

    We all know that if we don’t dry our clothes in the dryer we save on electricity, but many of us don’t think about how the dryer reduces the life of our clothes. For a long time I couldn’t understand why so many people were buying scads of socks and underwear for their families every few months. When my children were growing up, they almost never wore out their underwear and socks and we owned only about a quarter as many pair as most people. No I didn’t buy some name brand known for its child proof quality. I usually bought the least expensive ones I could find.

 

    Fast forward a couple decades. One day after folding my grandson’s new underwear, I noticed that the waistband was terribly rippled. After doing some research, I discovered the answer: The dryer was destroying the rubber elastic in the socks and underwear. I rarely dried my family’s clothes in the dryer, so the elastic never broke down. It doesn’t just happen with underwear – Have you ever noticed pilling (those little fabric balls) on your clothes and linens and the resulting lint in the dryer? That is the result of the fibers being rubbed thin. The dryer also shrinks clothes and sets in stains.

 

    The two reasons I think most people don’t line dry their clothes are that they think it is inconvenient or they’re just not sure how to do it. Here are some of the best tips I have found to air dry clothes without a clothes line.

 

    Though I don’t use the dryer to dry my clothes, I do use it for five minutes or so with some loads (just long enough to fluff the clothes). I put one load in the dryer and only leave then there as long as it takes me to load the washer with the next load.

 

    If you have no clothesline, you live in an apartment or your homeowners association won’t allow clotheslines, here are a few ways to dry without a clothesline.

    Using a clothesline to dry your clothes can save lots of money!

 

    You need at least one drying rack and some type of clothes rod. You can buy drying racks at most discount stores or hardware stores. You might locate a clothes rod in your laundry room above the dryer, use a sturdy shower curtain rod in the bathroom or get a metal clothes racks that hooks over the back of a door. You don’t need much. I can hang two loads of laundry on one drying rack and 2 feet of clothes rod.

 

    Hanging on a Clothes Rod

 

    Hang as many items as you can on clothes hangers, beginning with the obvious things like dresses, dress shirts and blouses and hang the hangers on a clothes rod to dry. Be sure not to put the hangers too close together or the clothes will not dry. You can also hang things like pajama tops, t-shirts, small kids shirts and one piece outfits. Lightweight pants, pajama bottoms, skirts and sweats can be pinned on clothes hangers and even sheets can be folded and hung on them. If you are really short of drying rack space, you can hang socks, underwear, wash rags, hand towels and towels on hangers and add them to your clothes rod, too.

         

    Hanging on a Clothes Rack

 

    When hanging clothes on a drying rack, I start at the bottom with socks and underwear, wash rags and baby clothes. Young children’s clothes and hand towels go on the middle layer and the top rack is for towels, jeans, pillow cases, sweaters, sweats, pajama bottoms and t-shirts. I try to use every inch of space, so if I put a pillow case on the rack and there are a couple of inches left next to it I put a sock there. I even hook bras on the corners of the rack.

 

    Drying racks are handy because they can be moved to speed up the drying process. Place them outside on a sunny (but not windy) day. Inside the house, try putting them over a vent and the heat or air conditioner will dry them faster. If you don’t have central heat or air then you can place them in front of your heater or a fan. Don’t place clothes close enough to heaters to be a fire hazard.

 

 

    If you are short on space and don’t want to look at a drying rack in the middle of the room, do the laundry before bed, hang it and in most cases it will be dry by morning (especially if you set it above an air vent).

 

    Try hanging large king sized sheets or blankets over your shower rod, over the rail of your deck, between two lawn chairs or folded in half or quarters over your clothes rack. When you fold large items, you must flip and turn them every 5-10 hours so that each side gets dry.

 

    Sometimes it is useful to hang a clothesline in the basement or attic. Be sure to check out your department stores and hardware stores for other ideas. They have many clever items like retractable clotheslines, things to hang over doors and some not so new ideas like extra large drying racks that can hold two loads of laundry each.

 

    Even though this may sound complicated at first, once you do it a few times it becomes second nature to you. Pretty quickly, you will discover the most efficient way to hang your clothes on the rack. I know automatically that three wash rags fit across the bottom bar of my rack and the two socks will fit next the that particular t-shirt. It’s like putting a puzzle together- the first time takes you longer than the times after that because you know where the pieces fit.

 

 

 

 

Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam are frugal living experts and the editors of  LIVING ON A DIME.

As a single mother of two, Jill Cooper started her own business without any capital and paid off $35,000 debt in 5 years on $1,000 a month income. Tawra and her husband paid off $20,000 debt in 5 years on $22,000 a year income.


White House Farmer

I just came across White House Farmer



The sub-line for this interesting blog  is “We’ve always had a White House chef…now is the time for a White House Farmer”.

The site was developed soon after Michael Pollan (one of my favorite authors) of

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals

and

In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto

suggested the White House develop five south acres for growing fruits and vegetables for the First Family and staff. Farmer in Chief was an open letter to the then President-Elect, published in the New York Times Magazine.

There is no way that I can do justice to the article by writing a synopsis, so I will include a very small exerpt…..

“After cars, the food system uses more fossil fuel than any other sector of the economy — 19 percent. And while the experts disagree about the exact amount, the way we feed ourselves contributes more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than anything else we do — as much as 37 percent, according to one study. Whenever farmers clear land for crops and till the soil, large quantities of carbon are released into the air. But the 20th-century industrialization of agriculture has increased the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by the food system by an order of magnitude; chemical fertilizers (made from natural gas), pesticides (made from petroleum), farm machinery, modern food processing and packaging and transportation have together transformed a system that in 1940 produced 2.3 calories of food energy for every calorie of fossil-fuel energy it used into one that now takes 10 calories of fossil-fuel energy to produce a single calorie of modern supermarket food. Put another way, when we eat from the industrial-food system, we are eating oil and spewing greenhouse gases. This state of affairs appears all the more absurd when you recall that every calorie we eat is ultimately the product of photosynthesis — a process based on making food energy from sunshine. There is hope and possibility in that simple fact.”




Lighten the Load Challenge Update

We have been so busy around her de-cluttering and getting ready for company that will be visiting soon(in only a few short days now), that I have been remiss in reporting my Lighten the Load Challenge 2009 updates over here. I have been pretty consistent with posting progress on the Lighten the Load Facebook Group Discussion Board, but time has been in too short supply around here for posting any place else.

This past week:

350 Units Debt Reduction

65 Units of Junk out the door in one fashion or another

2 Units of personal weight loss

And one more celebration!!! I now have new bathroom flooring! My kitchen flooring still looks like something you would find in an abandoned house, but hopefully soon this too will be replaced. I am so tired of the boxes of flooring taking up room in the dining room. It was become such a fixture in the dining room that stuff is now sitting on top of the stack…NOT a good sign!

We are still looking for others to join in on our challenge, if even for a short while. The Facebook group is growing slowly. Come along…invite your friends…let’s make it a party!

$25 Shell Card Giveaway!

Suzanne, the eBay Selling Coach, is giving away a $25 Shell Card on her blog….eBay Selling Coach! When you stop by and leave a comment for your entry, would you please let her know that I sent you?
She has several opporunities posted for additional entries.

One of our goals here in our Sustainable Backyard is to become less burdened by the material possessions we currently own. Simplification and less clutter are high priorities-thus the Lighten the Load Challenge. Throwing our unwanted items away would be the easiest manner to de-clutter, but it is not the responsible thing to do. Recycling, upcycling, sharing, and selling are our chosen methods of simplification. Selling is a means to becoming debt free as well. The only way I can live the type of sustainable life I want is to become debt free. Through her blog and her WAHM Facebook Group, Suzanne has given me many great ideas for selling successfully on eBay. So, if you are an eBay seller or if you have ever considered becoming an eBay seller, spend a little time on her site. Suzanne offers so many wonderful ideas for making your business grow!

Come visit the Lighten the Load Challenge on Facebook, for fun and commeraderie in de-cluttering and reducing debt in your life!

Hot off the Press

You have read my posts about Living on a Dime and the cookbook I just received, Dining on a Dime….and you KNOW I am really liking this book. What do you normally do when you find something really special? You pass it on! I just received an email from Tawra, the author, and she is offering the e-Book version of the cookbook for ……drumroll please….ONLY…..$5! That is amazing! 

The sale ends tomorrow, the 10th, at midnight…so do not delay! You will not regret this small purchase. The Potato Flake Bread Starter recipe is worth the FIVE alone, but the cookbook is filled with so many wonderful recipes for saving money. You can find the laundry soap recipe in her book also.

Get your very own e-copy
of the
Dining on a Dime Cookbook
today!
This morning we ate Dining on a Dime raisin bread for breakfast. YUM!

Dining on a Dime Cookbook

National Backyard Farming Movement

Would you support a National Backyard Farming Movement? This morning I have read two articles about how the Philipines Department of Agriculture is promoting their national vegetable program to help improve productions and consumption of homegrown goods.  Their Dept. of Ag “will provide seeds, technology, and greenhouses, as well as help market linkages”.

Read the GMANews.tv story HERE.

Perusing further, I came across a poll from the Bahamas asking participants if they would support a National Backyard Farming Project and a news article, Home Garden Flourishing,  at thebahamasweekly.com–which displays a few photos of a backyard farming project.

To me, this is an interesting consideration and I am certain I will fill many hours with further research on the topic, but meanwhile, would YOU support a National Movement toward this kind of sustainability?

free polls Would you support a National Backyard Farming Project?
SIGN ME UP!
Hmmm…Gotta’ think about it….
Definitely NO!
Who cares?


Yep! Another Great Giveaway…one that SAVES $$!

With all the uncertainty of today’s economy complete with rising costs of EVERYTHING, it is nice to find a giveaway that is sure to save money. Suzanne at eBay Selling Coach is giving away 500 coupons! You may remember that she is also offering her eBook, SAHM’s Guide to Selling on eBay, as a free download as well. If you decide to drop by and add your name to the drawing, would you please mention that I sent you? Thanks!

 OH! And GOOD LUCK!!!!

Loving My New Cookbook!

Remember the Dining on a Dime Giveaway we sponsored with
Living on a Dime a couple of weeks ago? Mrs. M. at Freaky Frugalite won the copy from our blog and I believe some of you purchased your own copy. Well, I am so excited. I received mine a couple of days ago and I could not be happier. I regret that I did not have an actual photo of the book when I posted about it because I think the graphics used before did it no justice. This is a really nice cookbook!


There are so many great recipes offered in this book that it was difficult to decide with which to start. The next morning after it arrived, I tried “Mike’s Baking Powder Biscuits” and the “Basic Muffins” recipe where I added some very ripe bananas. My family is so accustomed to eating canned biscuits that they were not certain how to act. Luckily the recipe was simple and the family loved them.I am in the process of making my very first sourdough starter with the Potato Flake Starter Bread Recipe from the section on breads and baking. Day 2 and counting. I will keep you posted.

Not only are there food recipes, but you will find recipes for beauty products, cleaning supplies and much more. There is a section on basic frugal cooking and even an herb guide. Menu ideas flow, along with helpful hints for picky eaters, and a pantry/shopping list keeps you organized.I am telling you, if you missed purchasing this book the first time around, take a look at it. You will not be disappointed. Drop by Living on a Dime to get your copy or to check out the other great eBooks on thrifty living and digging out of debt.

Path to Freedom in Mother!

My copy of Mother Earth News arrive a couple of days ago, but I didn’t have time to sit down with it until last night at bedtime. Perusing the magazine in bed, I suddenly sat up with an Oh My Gosh!…waking DH. He didn’t know what had hit him. After apologizing for my over-zealous exclamation, I shared my excitement about seeing an article by Jules Dervaes in Mother.

It seems that I am a late comer in this knowledge. I vaguely remember something being written at Little Homestead in the City, but with all the sickness at my house I had made a mental note to return to the post later when I could concentrate. I had no idea it was being published in Mother Earth News!

WooHoo to the Dervaes Family!  See the article at An Amazing and Productive Urban Homestead.  Afterwards you might run over and check out their newest project–Freedom Seeds, “the revolutionary new seed sovereignty movement spearheaded by the non profit Dervaes Institute.”

Freebie at eBay Selling Coach

Lately, eBay has been my only source of income and I suspect that many of us will be turning to such opportunities to make ends meet in these coming months. I know that eBay is a bit far from being sustainable, but right now it is keeping me afloat. Sharing what we can is good…so I am letting all of you know about this wonderful freebie that is being offered.

Suzanne Wells, the famous eBay Selling Coach, is offering a free copy of her book Stay at Home Mom’s Guide to Successful Selling on eBay as part of the Good Karma Experiment on Facebook.

I personally have this book, read her blog daily AND belong to her SAHM eBay Facebook Group. Everyday I am amazed at the free information that Suzanne offers. Stop by her place at eBay Selling Coach and grab yourself a copy. You will not be sorry. Oh…and would you mention that I sent you, please?

ENJOY!

Monday Lighten the Load Update~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ON Wednesday

This past week has been the most exhausting in a long while. Being sick and trying to keep up with everything has been near impossible. It doesn’t help that Hais is coming around with what appears to be a secondary infection/illness and DH is still not quite up to snuff with the cough that followed his illness.
The Lighten the Load  Challenge was definitely NOT in the forefront of my efforts this past week. Having said that, I am embarrassed to post my tiny bit of progress at only 25 UNITS.

eBay– 20 UNITS
trash/junk –5 UNITS

I didn’t even take my earnings to pay on debt, but hopefully this next week will show at least a bit more progress. Maybe-Maybe not. It is Wednesday and it is still an effort to concentrate to even write this entry…so we shall see, right?

 CindyDianne reported a success of 121 UNITS with Craigslist and donations this week over on the Facebook Group. A big woohoo to her!

Good luck, and happy lessening to all, on your Lighten the Load Challenge!

Monogram Teacher Giveaway

 

 

Check out this awesome Monogram Tote Giveaway.

For her 100th post, Monogram Teacher has teamed up with Monogram Chick for this super-fantastic giveaway that ends on January 23rd.  Monogram teacher has great sense of humor as she blogs about daily happenings and her life as a first grade teacher. 

When you leave your entry, would you mind telling her you find her through li’l ol’ me?

THANKS!

House of Sickness

It’s official! The crud that started with Hais has now run its course through her, DH and now me! Two weeks of at least one person at any given time being sick. Hais missed a couple of days of school and DH missed an important out of town meeting Thursday and Friday of last week. They both have been on a round of antibiotics, but they didn’t see to hurry in progress toward getting well, so I have opted to NOT take a round.

I have been treating the symptoms…headache, stuffed right side of face, exhaustion, chills, then too warm…you know the drill. I have gone through two entire boxes of tissue the past 2 and a half days. Meds include generic Dayquil and Tylenol. Today I took a generic Benadryl type pill. Liquids? Oh yes, plenty of them. I single handedly have finished off 2 qts of grape juice and am working on another 2 qts., hot Echinacea tea, DeTox Tea, coffee..gotta have coffee, 2 qts. orange juice with yummy pulp and lots of water. I cannot imagine what my sinuses would feel like if I had not taken in as many fluids. The only problem is…for the input there is always output…..which gives me a tiny bit of “excersize” going back and forth and up/down the stairs.

I do not feel like driving into town to make it to the health food store, so I am now purchasing my natural remedies online. I used to take a Get Well Soon blend of herbs, but since I no longer have access to that brand, I am switching over to Rainbow’s Light Get Well supplements. These supplements have a unique blend of Chinese herbs that speed up the healing process and counteract the general yuckiness (is that a word?) of cold and flu symptoms. When I compared those ingredients to that of my old brand, the Rainbow’s Light had higher IUs of garlic and echinacea. Best of all, House of Nutrition is  having a SALE on Rainbow’s Light products.

Rainbow Light's Get Well Soon 45Tabs

50% off Rainbow Light Products at House of Nutrition

 This is the week that we have our Chocolate-Fest for a Serendipity Club fundraiser at the school. This morning, I regretfully called the sponsor to tell her that I could not participate. I always worry if the teacher will think I am one of those parents who just do not want to be bothered, but I did explain to her that if I-I-I were the one doing the purchasing…I-I-I would NOT want anything coming out of this house to eat. Luckily, she purchased some extra items and some of the girls are helping out with the baking, so I can just send a check to reimburse the cost…and then maybe include a little donation to the cause. Money does not buy happiness, but it can sure get you out of a jam sometimes.


Monday Update~Lighten the Load

Monday is now the “official” day for reporting progress, struggles, ideas, and suggestions with the Lighten the Load Challenge. Feel free to link your progress post on your own blog in the comments of this entry…OR…post it at the new Facebook Lighten the Load Challenge Group.

Today’s update includes all progress from January 1 to this point. Here goes:

Sold VW: 1500 Units (weight)

Debt: 250 Units

eBay: 8 Units

Unfortunately, there was no actual debt reduction with the sale of the VW. Tags, taxes, etc. were all due at the end of the year…so the mula went to that huge bill.

I figured the debt reduction on the amount the principal was actually lowered and not on what I paid, ‘cuz you KNOW I am payin’ some interest here.

The eBay reduction comes from the weight of the products actualy mailed. Because of my closed actions last night, I will be able to show more progress in this area next Monday. I have decided to only post a reduction AFTER it is physically shipped.

Taking small steps toward my challenge is what is going to help me be successful. Our family has been fairly sick, with little motivation to do much of anything., but I did conquer one very tiny area of our house. The MEDICINE CABINET. I am embarrassed to report that I had box after box, and bottle after bottle of different meds that had expired. I went through every package, every prescription bottle and cleared out everything that was expired. I even pealed the labels off of the prescription bottles, so that they could be recylcled.

Speaking of which, our recycling bins are filling quickly, which will show a fair amount of progress after the first Saturday in February. I can hardly wait.

So tell us your progress, your struggles, your concerns, and YOUR ideas for reduction of clutter, weight and debt.

Lighten the Load 2009 Facebook Group

Now I have gone and done it. Not only have I joined facebook, but I have actually formed my very own first group for the Lighten the Load Challenge. So if you are a facebook user, rush right over there and join the group. If you are not a facebook user, now is as good a time as any.

While I was at facebook today, I was able to add Jules Dervaes and Path to Freedom to my friends list. You know I can never get enough of them.Hope to see you there soon!

Lighten the Load Challenge

In my post, Lighten the Load Confessionals, I shared with you that I am challenging myself to rid myself of 11,500 units of household weight, personal weight and debt between now and the end of the year.

One UNIT = $1 or 1 lb.

Example: Personally lose 3 lbs  + DH’s loss of 5lbs + $200 in debt reduce + 100 lbs of household items donated, sold, recycled, etc. =

a loss of 308 Units for one week!

With this kind of progress over 52 weeks that would result in a loss of 16,016 units.  Again this is just an example.

Understanding that reducing debt by $200 and reducing clutter by 100 lbs. each, and every, week are a lofty thoughts (I am avoiding the G— word here), I feel I have can reasonably assume that my chosen unit target is attainable.

I am challenging myself and announcing my 11,500 goal publicly so I can solicit your help in  motivating me to post my records for all the world to see.If you are interested in joining me in shedding unwanted, stress-causing, factors in your life….I welcome you with open arms. Set your own parameters to Lighten the Load in your life….everyone has their own concerns, stress buttons, etc. I just welcome having someone to share the challenges, exchange ideas and to celebrate the victories. If you would like, please feel free to grab the widget as small motivational reminder for yourself or as recognition for taking the first steps.  If we develop even a small group, I may just have to design some real badges of honor for completing different levels of the individual challenges. Did that make sense at all?

Lighten the Load Confessional

Stress has been ever present for me these past several months and has been building to a point of great frustration and anxiety. My house and my jeans are are bursting at the seems. I have struggled with weight my entire life, so that is nothing new…but this issue with my house has me to the point of nightmares.  I need help! I need help, but the house is so bad I could not let anyone step inside TO help. I would have to clean the house BEFORE the housekeeper came.

Everywhere I turn, there is more stuff. We really bit off more than we could handle when we purchased this 2 bedroom, one bath, 100 year old house. The bathroom is 6×6 with only a claw foot tub. We shower in a make-do stall in the middle of a partially finnished basement. I have only two very, VERY small closets….my daughter’s and the one where I store some Christmas items. I have an eBay room, that is overflowing with all of my teaching supplies (as is a storage area in the building behind the house), and odds and ends of this and that. I have another room that I would like to use as a large walk-in pantry, but it is full to the ceiling with boxes of stuff that we have not unpacked from partially moving in. Guess at this point I should point out that I actually have furniture in two separate houses…because I did not want all of my furniture here in the way while we were remodeling/restoring. For four years, I have lived out of Rubbermaid containers and used make-shift rods for hanging clothes. I don’t have a linen closet…well that is if you count the Rubbermaid container.

I feel as though this clutter/mess perpetuates itself with the stress and my total shut down of being able to function or to figure a way out of it. The mountain of clutter scattered throughout my house is so mind boggling that I absolutely do just shut down….and when I shut down…. nothing gets accomplished AND the clutter/mess gets worse…and so on and so on.  Sometimes I wonder if I am lazy and that is reason/excuse that I cannot seem to get motivated to get organized, but then I realize that my inability to cope is because the overall project is so overwhelming.

In addition to the craziness of my household, I have gained so much weight over these past two years. I am not confident enough to share exactly how much I weigh, but I will share that it is to the point that I am beginning to have medical problems. My family has a history of heart disease and my mother passed away before she turned 60…so turning 50 this past year has added even more to my stress levels.

Debt is another stressful issue at the moment. My two year hiatus is over in a couple of months…the funds have dwindled and unfortunately, we cannot live on one income. Hais’ college expenses are looming on the horizon. In my current mindset and physical condition, I cannot see myself going back to teaching. I either have to get 3/4 of my debt reduced within 6 months or find a way to make decent money working from home…or I will be back to teaching full time. (Just a bit of a disclaimer here…I LOVE teaching…I just do not like everything that goes with it.)

Around the world, people make their New Year’s goals– with weight loss and getting organized usually at or near the top of the list. The older I get, the more that making New Year’s Goals seems futile. I never seem to accomplish those goals, so why bother to set them?So, what am I going to do? Well, I have decided that I am NOT going to just throw my hands up in despair. I am going to take action…small steps toward a total goal of lessening my anxiety in the form of debt, weight and other crap in my life. (please excuse my language for a moment)

I wonder if there are others who struggle with these same issues…in part or whole. If so, I invite you to join me in my own challenge for this year…nope NOT a goal…but a challenge to Lighten the Load in 2009″. To lighten my debt burden, lighten the weight causing excruciating pain on my back and knees….AND to lighten the weight of the crap (ooops that word again) in my house will be my challenge for these next 11 and one half months. I am challenging myself to Lighten the Load by 11,500 units. A unit is a pound or a dollar….and yes, I have some pretty heavy items in my household. In fact, I am going to knock 1500 off of the list almost immediately, because we just sold our little 1970 VW Beetle.

So here I am confessing my short-comings, fears, and general anxieties about life in hopes that it will motivate me to move forward in a positive, deliberate manner. Would you like to join me?

Folks! We Have a Winner!

Drum roll please!

And the winner of Dining on a Dime is Mrs. Mecomber at Freaky Frugalite. Mrs. M is one of the busiest blogger type ladies I know. I have such difficulty keeping up with my lonely few blogs, but she has a plethora of blogger venues.  Tawra will be sending the book toMrs. M as soon as I get her address sent.Congratulations Rebecca!

For those of us who did not win, Tawra has an exceptional sale (ends today) on the Dining on a Dime Cookbook and on a set of three great books that includes DoDPenny Pinchin’ Mama and  Dig Out of Debt.  I could benefit from all three.

Thank you to everyone who participated. Stay tuned for my 200th post Giveaway…which actually happened several posts ago…but I did not want to run it at the same time as Tawra’s.

I found another one!

Okay, so you know I love to share and I found another great giveaway—

You will find a super, cool

 

Girly Giveaway

 

at

 

The Fam Five

 

from now until the 13th!

Take a look at this adorable bag that she has filled with some shweet goodies.

 

 

 

And don’t forget,  that the Dining on a Dime Giveaway ends on the 7th!  That’s TODAY!

WooHoo! A $25 eBay Gift Card Giveaway!

John Paul over at Vitamin eBay is hosting a $25 eBAy Gift Card GiveAway. The contest is valid between Jan. 5 and Jan. 11, 2009. John Paul owns www.asapsellsit.com, a NYC eBay consignment and is offering the gift certificate to one lucky person…ME! I hope!

Here are the specifics as posted on his blog–
“To Enter:
*Leave your e-mail address in the comment section below. Please note to use this gift card you must have an eBay account and a PayPal account.

*For Bonus Entries*
-Post the giveaway on Twitter.
-Post the giveaway on your blog.
-Post the giveaway on a group or forum discussion board.
-Post the giveaway anywhere that someone other than yourself might see it. (keep it clean)

**Bonus entries will be given for each extra that you do. Just be sure to include in your comment if you did any of the extras and which ones.**

-Gift Card winner will be posted & e-mailed on Monday Jan. 12th 2009!!!
-Giveaway starts Monday Jan. 5th 2009 at 12:00am and ends Sunday night Jan. 11th 2009 @ 11:59pm (Pacific Time).
-This is a random drawing. Winner will be selected by random.org “

Ten Easy Ways to Get Oganized

About this time every year, it seems as though many of us begin looking toward setting those New Year’s goals. In those goals often comes the regulars of losing weight, paying off bills, and reducing clutter/getting organized.  Jill Cooper brings us some great reminders for getting organized in the home…..

10 Easy Ways to Get Organized
by Jill Cooper
http://www.LivingOnADime.com/

. Hang up your keys. (Preferably by the door.)

. Find a place for your purse, coat, gloves and other frequently used items and always keep them there.

. Make your bed each day as soon as you crawl out of it.

. Get dressed. Even if you are a stay at home mom or your job is at home, get dressed. Clothes really do make the man or woman. You’ll be just as productive as you are dressed which means if you are dressed for sleep (pajamas, sweats or a robe) then you will get about as much work done as you would when you are sleeping. That may be stretching it, but you get my point.

. Wash the dishes and wipe the counters after each meal. No matter how large or small the meal or how tired and in a hurry you are, do the dishes. Even if you are hurried or late in the morning you wouldn’t dream of leaving the house half dressed. Make leaving your kitchen clean as important a priority as getting dressed for work. This may seem impossible at first but once you are on top of things it should only take five or ten minutes to clean your kitchen.

. Get rid of trash. About 50% of what unorganized people have in their homes is trash or stuff they will never use again. Stop wasting time taking care of it, moving it or stepping over it. As you walk through the house, pick up garbage and toss it.

. Control your laundry. Don’t let it control you. Follow these simple steps to help keep your laundry from taking over your home and you.

     Place a hamper or basket for dirty clothes in each bedroom and/or bath. Make sure that everyone’s dirty clothes are put in the hamper before bed and in the morning.

    The laundry isn’t done until it is put away. Get out of the mind set that if it is washed and dried it is done. Folding and putting it away is equally as important.

         Some of us think that if we get the laundry washed and dried that’s all we need to do and it’s okay for the family to just pull stuff out of a pile. That makes as much sense as cooking a meal and expecting everyone to stand at the stove and take turns scooping the food out of the pan and eating it one spoonful at a time. You wouldn’t dream of doing that. Yes the food is cooked, but the meal is not complete until the table is set and the food is put on plates. Do the same for your laundry. Put it away.

. Pick up continually. This may seem like a pain to do at first but if you stick with it, it will become a habit. I didn’t realize how much of a habit it had become for me until I was visiting my daughter’s the other day. As I was walking into the kitchen, I picked up empty glasses and odds and ends on my way. Then when I walked from the kitchen to the bedroom I picked up toys as I went in there. It wasn’t even my house but I had seen something out of place and out of habit picked it up. Every sock or glass that you walk past is a spore waiting to flourish into a vortex of debris. Catch it while it is small! _

. Read and dispose of newspapers and magazines. There are usually two reasons people have stacks of newspapers and magazines piled around:

    They want to save an article in it. If that is the case then cut the article out as you are reading the magazine and file it. Trust me, you not only won’t cut that article out at a later time, but you probably won’t remember what or where it is.

      They don’t have time to read them. If you aren’t going to read them the why are you subscribing to them? Stop your subscriptions. This doesn’t have to be an all or nothing thing. If you can’t keep up with the daily newspaper then just get the Sunday paper. Most people usually have more leisure time Sunday to read it. Pick out one or two of your favorite magazines and stop subscribing to the rest.

With any item, if it is broken or you don’t use it anymore get rid of it. That includes clothes, toys, furniture, decorations, dishes and exercise equipment. If it’s not important enough to fix right now, you don’t need it!

Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam are frugal living experts and the editors of http://www.LivingOnADime.com/. As a single mother of two, Jill Cooper started her own business without any capital and paid off $35,000 debt in 5 years on $1,000 a month income. Tawra and her husband paid off $20,000 debt in 5 years on $22,000 a year income.

NOTE: Remember the 7th is the last day to add your name to the hat for the drawing for Dining on a Dime from Tawra and Jill. Leave your comment HERE for one chance and check out how to get up to three chances for your opportunity to win.


List of Banned Words for 2009

Okay, so here I was cutting articles from the newspaper for Hais’ senior scrapbook and what did I find? A API story written by Jeff Karoub titled Discouraged words: One sees red over “green”! The title caught my attention, then I perused to find an inset titled ENOUGH ALREADY! with this:

Lake Superior State University’s 2009 list of bannished words: 

  • green
  • carbon footprint or carbon offsetting
  • maverick
  • first dude bailout
  • Wall Street/Main Street
  • monkey
  • 3 (Emoticon for “heart” used in text messages and email.) 
  • icon or iconic
  • game changer
  • staycation
  • desperate search
  • not so much
  • winner of five nominations
  • It’s that time of year again

    –The Associated Press

Looking for the actual story online (so I could link to it) only provided me with LSSU’s actual release on their website. LSSU issues 34th annual List of Words to be Bannished  was released online on December 31 under the university’s Campus News.  Though I consider this a parody of sorts, I am disappointed at some of the environment/ecological choices added.

{snip}

“Environmental buzzwords are getting the axe this year.
“Green” and “going green” received the most nominations.

GREEN – The ubiquitous ‘Green’ and all of its variables, such as ‘going green,’ ‘building green,’ ‘greening,’ ‘green technology,’ ‘green solutions’ and more, drew the most attention from those who sent in nominations this year.

“This phrase makes me go green every time I hear it.” Danielle Brunin, Lawrence, Kansas.

“I’m all for being environmentally responsible, but this ‘green’ needs to be nipped in the bud.” Valerie Gilson, Gales Ferry, Conn.

“Companies are less ‘green’ than ever, advertising the fact they are ‘green.’ Is anyone buying this nonsense?” Mark Etchason, Denver, Colo.

“If something is good for the environment, just say so. As Kermit would say, ‘It isn’t easy being green.'” Kevin Sherlock, Hiawatha, Iowa.

“If I see one more corporation declare itself ‘green,’ I’m going to start burning tires in my backyard.” Ed Hardiman, Bristow, Va.

“This spawned ‘green solutions,’ ‘green technology,’ and the horrible use of the word as a verb, as in, ‘We really need to think about greening our office.'” Mike McDermott, Philadelphia, Penn.

CARBON FOOTPRINT or CARBON OFFSETTING – “It is now considered fashionable for everyone, tree hugger or lumberjack alike, to pay money to questionable companies to ‘offset’ their own ‘carbon footprint.’ What a scam! Get rid of it immediately!” Ginger Hunt, London, England.

Mike of Chicago says that when he hears the phrase ‘carbon footprint,’ “I envision microscopic impressions on the surface of the earth where an atom of carbon forgot to wear its shoes.”

Christy Loop of Woodbridge, Va., says that ‘leaving a carbon footprint’ has become the new ‘politically incorrect.’ “How can we not, in one way or another, affect our natural environment?”

Presidential election years are always ripe for language abuse. This year, the electorate grew weary of ‘mavericks’ and ‘super delegates.’ As Michael W. Casby of Haslett, Mich. said, when he suggested banning all of the candidates’ names, “Come on, it’s been another too-long campaign season.””

{snip}

“STAYCATION – “Occurrences of this word are going up with gas prices.’Vacation’ does not mean ‘travel,’ nor does travel always involve vacation. Let’s send this word on a slow boat to nowhere.” Dan Muldoon, Omaha, Neb.

“The cost of petrol forces many families to curtail their summer voyages and a new word has sprung, idiotic and rootless…” Michele Mooney, Los Angeles, Calif.”

Can you say “Bozo”?

ENOUGH SAID!

 

New Year GiveAway

Tawra Kellam at Living on a Dime has graciously offered her book, Dining on a Dime, as a great giveaway to kick the year off right. Living on a Dime is having a 50% off sale on all their books and 63% on sets.  Dining On A Dime has never been on sale for more than 25% off so this is a great deal.

I personally have three of the Living on a Dime books and cannot believe the amount of information packed into one book, especially for such a reasonable price.

So here’s the technical stuff.

The contest will run from January 1-7 and is open to United States residents only. Tawra will send the Dining on a Dime book directly to the winner.

Visit the Living on a Dime website at http://www.livingonadime.com/books/nys.html  and take a look at all of the money saving books offered, then come back here and post a comment about your favorite. One first comment entry per person.

Receive a second entry for writing a post on your blog and  include a direct link back to this post, then come back here to let me know by leaving the link in another comment.

You can get a third entry by posting the following widget into the sidebar of your blog.

Hurry! The week will be over before you know it!

Pops and Route 66

We are in Oklahoma City this weekend to celebrate Christmas with J-Mo. Celebrating Christmas in a hotel isn’t most peoples’ idea of a perfect Christmas, but we are having a great time. Last night we spent the evening at Pops in Arcadia, Oklahoma (just east of Edmond). I have been hoping to visit there for over a year now, but I am so glad now that we waited and enjoyed the experience together. Take a look at their website here.

Pops is soooo cool with over 500 different kinds of bottled pop displayed and for purchase.
The flavor tour can be found here.

This is what we sat next to while we dined.

It was fun trying some different flavors of soda. My favorite of the evening was Dr. Pepper with White Chocolate, DH and Hais opted for Vanilla Dr. Pepper. J-Mo had Cherry Diet Coke, which she said was the best she had ever tried.

The food was simple, delicious, plentiful, AND reasonable.

 


It doesn’t look like it in this photo, but the Cheeseburger was large…however, maybe not as large as Hais’. She ordered the 7 oz. Pop’s Burger made from beef brought in from the NoName Ranch in Wynnewood, Oklahoma. The beef is free of pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics and qualifies for the 100 Mile Diet for the locals because NoName Ranch is only 85 miles from Arcadia. I would like to think that these are the reasons Hais chose this burger, but I know better. The choice was made because she could add bacon, jalapenos, and special cheeses..haha! Nevertheless, it WAS a yummy choice!
Check out the description on the Pops Menu.

I had never tried fried WHOLE okra, but I know this is how I will be cooking it at from now on. I am just a bit sad that I didn’t think of this on my own.  YUM!
Afterward, I tried my hand at some time exposures of the beautiful 66 trees for Route 66…
…followed by some antics in front of the neon bottle.

Old Man Winter

Old Man Winter has brought us a dusting of snow this morning. The cold is unbearable. This morning I reached into the cabinet for a glass and the glass was could not have been any colder than if it had been sitting in the refrigerator.

Stay Tuned…200th Post Give Away Coming Soon!

I probably should have hit this 200th post ages ago, but since I have been on a hiatus of sorts from blogging it has been a slow climb to that number. In celebration, I will be giving something away in a drawing. Hmmmm, what will it be? Either something “UpCycled” or a gently worn book. Looking and looking for just that perfect thing!

This Lovely Winter Weather

Because I do not go outside much during the winter months, the winter weather does not usually bother me. I love snow…and don’t even mind a bit of ice now and then…unless I have to drive in it. For some reason this year I am thinking that maybe I would prefer to live in a warmer climate. I have always loved living someplace that actually had four seasons, but as I get a bit older my thoughts are that I might enjoy a year round climate of around 68-78 degrees. While I am dreaming, I would like that place to not have tornadoes, hurricanes, monsoons, tsunamis, or dust storms and even though it is not weather related, add earthquakes to that list also. A girl can dream, can’t she?

According to the internet, the temp this morning was 2° with a wind chill into the negative double digits. Now that is COLD. We actually have ice forming on the inside of some of our windows and yesterday I even saw a few snow flakes gliding in through the leaks in a northwest facing window. I already had some large bubble wrap adhered to the window panes, but the snowflakes brought out that plastic shrink wrap stuff intended for winterizing your house. Up it went…for the first time ever. It is making a slight difference, but I know the tape isn’t holding like it should. Maybe the box was a bit old….who knows how long I have been storing it.

Yesterday, as I was going out to feed the cats I noticed that our storm door was covered with ice. My hands were damp and as I grabbed the door handle from the inside, my thumb attached itself. It reminded me of Christmas Story where the little boy had his tongue stuck to the flagpole.

We have family in Texas and I read someone’s status on Facebook where they were complaining about having to turn the air conditioner on in December. Gosh, how warm did it get in Dallas this weekend? I am wishing warmer weather to those who need it and cooler weather to those who might be thinking of turning on the air conditioner….just now…as I hear my own heater firing up. BTW–it is set on 58.

~My Apologies~

As I surf around the internet and on my own blog, I do not browse with my sound up. I have recently discovered that the news video shared on an earlier post automatically plays every time you land on my page. Since I have not posted in…ummmm…errrr…like forever…the post has remained on the front page. I am so sorry everyone.

Unfortunately, I do not know how to fix it so that it does not automatically play and I do not want to remove the post, so I think I may just have to keep on posting until it rolls off of the first page. If anyone has a suggestion, I am definitely open.

Rising Food Costs

 ♥

Yet another New York Times article, this time from way back in October.

Thriftiness on Special in Aisle 5

{snip}

“Grocery chains see their role as teaching consumers how to whip up low-cost meals. The stores have long offered recipes and shopping tips, of course, but nowadays they are adopting a relentless focus on value.

On its Web site, Hy-Vee, a supermarket chain in the Midwest, offers ways to feed a family of four for $8 or less. To make pork chop dinner, Hy-Vee recommends four pork chops, one package of apple sauce, some frozen vegetables and “Hy-Vee 5 cheese Texas toast.” Total cost: less than $2 a person.”

{snip}

This is a great article about how retailers are trying to teach consumers how to be thrifty, but the above mention of an $8 meal as a means of being frugal struck me as funny. $8 x 7 dinners is $42…which is more than some people’s budget for ALL meals for the entire week.

Catchin’ UP on STUFF

Busy, busy…..that is always my response these days when someone asks how I’ve been. “Busy-Busy!”

After my whirlwind trip to Texas to visit my stepfather after his bypass and to be moral support for my brother, I found myself running ragged back here in Kansas.

For awhile, we had other personal issues seemed to take over our lives here, but things are getting a bit back to normal.

Basketball season has begun and we are on a constant run with associated activities. Hais actually won the free throw contest with 13/15 score, followed by an additional 2/5…total 17/20 at the large annual tournament that we play this time of the year. She will most likely get to compete for the overall title at the Championship game on Saturday against other the other winners from the alternate locations of the tournament. We lost last night, so we will be playing for 3rd/4th on Saturday.

At this time of the year, my Ebay sales take over that little bit of life I have outside of basketball. All of that will die down on the 21st, and then the new push will be to get ready for our meager Christmas. Hais will be in Texas for the first portion of her break from school, but I will meet her and other members of my family for a small celebration in Oklahoma City. OKC is a good half-way point for us all.

I have not had an opportunity to do one bit of holiday decorating here. Our town is having a decorating contest for the first time I have known…and I am not going to be able to participate. In a way, that makes me sad, but then I think about the energy I am saving, mine and that of the electric company, I feel a bit better. At some point though, I AM going to have to put up a tree. The norm in my house is to decorate at least four trees…in themes…but moderation is the word of the month here.

So how is your holiday season going so far?

Tag at Prairie Dreams

Anita at Prairie Dreams was tagged by BJ at  ~~Sweet Nothings~~to participate in a game. Anita did not “tag” anyone, but left an open invitation for those who with to participate.

So here are the rules:

1) Open the closest book to you, not your favorite or most intellectual book, but the book closest to you at the moment, to page 56.

2) Write out the 5th sentence, as well as two to five sentences following…

Before I post mine, I have to share that I almost fell out of my chair with what I found on pg 56. I actually have 4 books stacked next to my computer–all of them about dog breeding. I had been researching the books for pricing information before listing them on eBay. I picked up the first book and thought, hmmm would this be appropriate to share? I thought, hmmm, I’ll try the second book–no one will know the difference. I found a page with a quote from the book and an illustration…but the chapter heading on the next page didn’t seem too appropriate either– in fact even worse than the first book. Okay, so the third book…OH MY! NO! and the same with the fourth…geez! So here goes…from the first book-

Dog Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook 3rd Edition, James M. Griffin, M.D.  and Lisa D. Carlson, DVM

“Diagnosis is based on clinical signs, a chest X-ray (not always positive), and identification of the eggs or larvae in stools or respiratory secretions.”

“Bronchoscopy ina Filaroides infection may reveal small nodules in the wall of the trachea. Larvae may be seen peeking  out of these growths.”

OH LOVELY!

Just as Anita, I will not tag anyone, but would be happy for anyone to play along. Just let me know so I can check out your entry.

Great News Story About Frugal Living

You know how it goes. When you find something wonderful, you can hardly wait to share it with everyone you know. I have just come across two great blogs that I would like to share.

Seeking Simplicity is a very interesting blog about Miranda’s family  and how they are living  a simple, frugal life in Wisconsin. Miranda’s other blog is Green365,  a photo blog based on Riot 4 Austerity, which many of us are familiar with as a project geared towards a 90% emissions reduction.

Miranda was recently interviewed for the television news story below. I apologize for the advertisement prior to the story and that it automatically loads, but I could not figure out how to manipulate the automatic play.

Hais Signs Her National Letter of Intent to Play Basketball

The official news release has not been made, but on Friday, dear, darling Hais has signed her National Letter of Intent to play basketball at a Kansas university. The NCAA early signing period is from November 12-19th this year and Coach tells us that a press release will be issued after the period ends.

Some of you know me and my family’s real names, but to protect Hais I will just say that the university is a NCAA Division II school located in Kansas and that narrows it down a bit. If you want to know more of the nitty gritty details, please feel free to email me. After the official announcement is made,  I may include a photo of Hais at the signing somewhere here on the blog.

Basketball season begins TODAY ! YeeeeHaw!!

My Empire of Dirt

New York Magazine

September 10, 2007

My Empire of Dirt
An Experiment in Brooklyn-Style Subsistence (Backyard) Farming….

 
∞ 
Writer Manny Howard shares the ups and downs of an experiment with becoming a backyard farmer and localvore for one month. Unfortunately his family was not on-board for this venture, and it appears to have been only a temporary lifestyle change, but I still found his story to be quite an interesting read.
I actually watched the video first, before reading the entire article, so I did not realize until the end that it was temporary.
 
Warning: There are a couple of words that I would not repeat in front of my children in the written article, located HERE.
 

 
 

Family

Just wanted to let everyone know that I have not fallen into a deep hole and forgotten. This past weekend I made an unexpected trip to Texas to visit family. My step-father had heart surgery last week, but I am now back at home….and exhausted. Not from my the step-father, but from my brother…whewwww. It was a whirlwind of a trip.

Photo Hunters

I do not know why I have avoided participating in Carnivals and such in the past, but I think I am going to make a go of participating in


I loved the photo at Mrs. Mecomber’s place New York Traveler.Netand found that it all began back in 2006 at tnchick.com, average blog & home of the photohunt . If I understand the hunt, a new theme is posted every Saturday and you may post a photo that represents.
Since today is Election Day, I thought I would share a photo of an old flag that I took the week that I purchased my camera. I was still learning the settings, so it is not the “best” photo, but I still like it.

4 X 4 Game

I found this fun game called 4 x 4 at Ramblings From *While You’re Up* and it looked fun so I decided to join in.

The game is to open the picture file on you computer. Go to the fourth folder, open it, and post the fourth picture.

The fourth picture  in my fourth folder, just happened to be a recent photo that Hais had taken of Buttercup. Hais actually has this posted on her recruiting website as an example of her photographic abilities.

{We are still trying to find a home for Buttercup if you know of anyone who might be interested.
}

So, what is the fourth photo in the fourth folder on YOUR computer?

More Bread

Just a quick sharing moment. DH came home with THREE loaves of bread today. Two of the same stale bread…at a great discount….and a nice fresh loaf for sandwiches. When asked if he thought it was a bit of an overkill, his response was….”NOT if you are going to make some more bread pudding!”  He even brought home another box of raisins.

Delicious Bread Pudding Recipe

I thought I would share the recipe, along with some photos. Don’t pay attention to the messy kitchen, please….

2 cups milk

1/4 cup butter

2/3 cup sugar

3 eggs

2 teaspoons cinammon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 cups cubed bread (about 9-10 pieces)

3/4 cup raisins (optional)

In a medium saucepan, heat milk on medium heat until a foam forms over the top. Add the butter and stir until it is melted. Cool to a lukewarm temperature. In another bowl combine sugar, eggs, vanilla, cinammon, and nutmeg and beat at medium speed with an electric mixer for approximately 1 minute. Using a mixer, slowly add the cooled milk/butter mixure to the egg mixture. Place bread in a lightly greased 1 1/2 quaet casserole. Mix half of the raisins and then sprinkle the remainder on top. Slowly pour mixture on top of bread cubes.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes. Serve warm topped with Lemon Sauce.

LEMON SAUCE RECIPE

1 1/2 cup powdered sugar ( I added additional 1/2 cup powdered sugar)

1/2 stick butter (I added 1 tablespoon of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter)

4 Tablespoon of Lemon Juice (I added 1 Tablespoon of Mexican Vanilla Extract)

Melt butter. Add powdered sugar and lemon juice. Stir. You can add water 1/4 teaspoon at a time to thin the mixture to the desired consistency.

So don’t poke fun at my Tinkerbell slideshow…I LOVE Tink!

I Do believe in fairies….I DO believe in fairies! :)

 

Using Up…Doing Without

The current economy is scary for most everyone… 

While I don’t think we will have to start doing without the essential items of our lives, I do think that we will be cutting back in non-essential areas….such as eating out. We travel a considerable amount of time, so eating out while on the road may take on a new look….it will most likely never be completely stricken from our budget.

Eating out just because…I am tired….it is late….I don’t want to mess up the kitchen…..OR…because it’s the dog’s birthday….is being cut from the spending budget. We will be eating at home on  a regular basis.

Today, while I was organizing some pantry shelves, I noticed I had a few items that were nearing the expiration date. In the past (and please do not flame me…this has been a learning process for us) I might have thrown those expired items away. Not anymore….we are making do with what we have….and USING IT ALL UP! Just the other night I cooked a roast that had been in the freezer for almost two years. It was fine. Another night I found a can of spinach that was 1 month past the expiration date and after checking for any creases, dents, or evidence of spoilage we cooked it up. DH love spinach with boiled eggs…something I never heard of before meeting him…lol.

A few times this past month, our local grocer has had milk on sale for $2.50 a gallon…a bargain. One night DH came home with only one gallon of this $2.50 milk and it resulted in me fussin’ at him for not purchasing a second gallon. Fortunately, I have Hais (DD2)trained to purchase two if she finds it on sale. Three days ago, DH came home with two gallons of the sale priced milk, along with two loaves of sale priced bread. He has been eating sandwiches a lot lately, so I did not see a problem. (Now before I proceed, I would like to preference the remainder of this story with DH normally brings home the freshest….tastiest breads ever when he shops.) When the man eats two to three peanut butter sandwiches for lunch every day, two loaves do not last very long, so I was happy that he thought ahead.

For some reason our bread stash was not dwindling and I soon discovered the reason. The brand (which will remain nameless) was not something we had purchased before and it was NOT (by any means of the imagination) fresh. The crust was somewhat hard and it was tasteless. What to do? There is an entire loaf sitting on the shelf! What can I do with this? The wheels started turning…and my stomach was growling…so my first idea was a grilled cheese sandwich with LOTS of butter…..yum. That didn’t make a dent. Now what? We could have french toast for dinner tonight…even though I prefer a thicker french toast. BREAD PUDDING! The entire family loves bread pudding. Luckily, I did have some raisins on hand…so right now…my house is fresh with the warm aromas of nutmeg, cinammon and vanilla and in another 40 minutes or so…..HEAVEN!

Weekly Food Budget

With all of the devastating financial issues surrounding us, many people are concerned how they will feed their families. I came across something interesting in a blog post at Armenian Evangelical Emmanuel Church Chanitz.  The post shows photos of families from around the world displaying the amount of groceries they consume in one week, along with the money spent.  This was my first time to visit this blog, but the entry was definitely an eye opener.

Food Consumed by Family Shown in One Week & It’s Expenditure!

To Roast or Not to Roast! Pumpkins!

 

To Roast or Not to Roast!

By Tawra Kellam

http://www.LivingOnADime.com/

 

Peter Piper Picked a Profoundly Plump Pumpkin — Now What does he do with it?

 

Every fall I get many questions about what to do with pumpkins. Many people find curious fascination in imagining what it would be like to grow these versatile little gems, as if growing something that produces a large fruit is somehow more respectable than growing, say, a serrano pepper. Many people eventually venture into pumpkin experimentation. Some succeed and many fail. Much like a dog that chases a car, many people never give thought to what they would do if they actually succeeded in successfully raising a patch of these fall favorites. Whether you have found yourself with more pumpkins than you know what to do with or you are one of the people who had to buy pumpkins and duct tape them to the vine, these tips for roasting and using pumpkins are sure to help you make the most out of them (no matter how you acquired them)!

 

 

How to Roast a Pumpkin

 

You can only do this with a freshly carved pumpkin! Do not use on a pumpkin that has been

carved and sitting out for several days.

To bake a fresh 6 to 7 pound pumpkin, halve the pumpkin crosswise and scoop out the seeds and strings. Place halves, hollow side down, in a large baking pan covered with aluminum foil and add a little water. Bake, uncovered, at 375 for 1 ½ to 2 hours or until fork‑tender. Remove. When cool, scrape pulp from shells and puree, a little at time, in food processor or blender. Mix with a little salt.

 

To freeze pumpkin puree. Put 1‑2 cups in freezer bags along with spices and use in pies.

 

To use pumpkin puree for recipes: Line a strainer with a double layer of  cheesecloth or a flour sack dish towel and let the pumpkin sit to drain out the extra moisture BEFORE cooking with it. Pumpkin is very moist, so in order for your recipe to come out correctly, you MUST strain it.

 

 

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

 

Boil seeds in water for 5 minutes. Drain well.  Sprinkle with salt or seasoned salt. Place a thin layer on a cookie sheet. Bake at 250 . Stir after 30 minutes. Bake ½‑1 hour more or until crunchy.

*Squash seeds may also be used.

 

 


. Pumpkin Smoothies

½ cup pumpkin

¾ cup milk or vanilla yogurt                       

¼ tsp. cinnamon                                     

1/8 tsp. nutmeg                                               

2 tsp. brown sugar                                      

4 ice cubes

whipped cream (optional)

sprinkles (optional)

 

Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into 2-3 glasses. Serve with a small amount of whipped cream on top. You may also add orange sprinkles if you like.  Serves 2-3.

 

Pumpkin Pancakes

 

2 cups flour                  

2 Tbsp. brown sugar, packed        

1 Tbsp. baking powder    

1 ¼ tsp. pumpkin pie spice        

1 tsp. salt              

½ cup nuts, chopped (optional)

½ cup pumpkin

1 large egg

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1   cups milk 

 

 

 

Combine ingredients. Stir just until moistened; batter may be lumpy. Heat griddle or skillet over medium heat; brush lightly with vegetable oil. Pour ¼ cup batter onto hot griddle; cook until bubbles begin to burst. Turn and continue cooking 1 to 2 minutes. Serve with Pumpkin Maple Sauce and nuts.

 

Pumpkin Maple Sauce

 

1 cup maple syrup             

¼ tsp. ground cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice

1 ¼ cups pumpkin

 

Mix together until well blended.

 

 

In 5 years, Tawra Kellam and her husband paid off $20,000 personal debt on an average income of $22,000 per year. Tawra is the author of the frugal cookbook Dining On A Dime. Dining On A Dime has over 1200 recipes and tips to help you eat better and spend less. For more free tips and recipes visit her web site at http://www.LivingOnADime.com/. 

America Unplugged Challenge

I promised it and here it is ….


America Unplugged!

 

It has been awhile since we offered a challenge here at TSB, so what better way is there to finish out 2008 than with a DE-electrifying, environmental, money saving challenge? As the year winds down, I will be suggesting ideas and report on our own efforts in this challenge. I know that many of you already “live” this challenge as part of your everyday life and I hope that you will share ideas and suggestions for those of us beginning.


 

So, novice or veteran, if you wish to share your plans for beginning or further success, please post your tips in the comments section of this post. For those of you that wish to participate, feel free to add the widget to your blog and add a comment below.


Home Energy Vampires

I wish I could take credit for the title of this post, because it so fits the season. I found this article about the appliances sucking our energy dollars out of our pockets at Yahoo! Green and wanted to share.  After reading the article to DH this morning, he had to poke fun at me because I used to give him a difficult time when he would go around the house unplugging things before we would go out of town (and prior to approaching storms).

What’s wasting energy in your home right now

By Lori Bongiorno Posted Thu Oct 9, 2008 9:34am PDT

“Virtually all of your electronics are sucking up energy even if they’re turned off or not being used. Some of the biggest culprits include your TV, computer, and printer. Even your electric toothbrush is drawing energy when it’s plugged in and sitting idle.

On its own, the “vampire power” used by one device might seem miniscule, but collectively it amounts to more than $4 billion a year of wasted energy here in the United States. What’s more, the Department of Energy says that about 75 percent of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off.

The easiest (and most obvious) thing you can do is get up right now and unplug whatever you’re not using. Candidates include:

  • Your hand-held vacuum in its charging station
  • Power drills
  • Automatic coffee makers
  • The VCR you haven’t used in nearly a decade
  • The TV that’s collecting dust in the guest room
  • The empty refrigerator in the garage

  • {snip}

    Check out the remainder of this article HERE and the related How to Reduce Vampire Power article at Huddler’s Green Home Blog…where you will find a great Dracula graphic displaying a phantom load chart.

    These next couple of days our family will be going through our household to unplug and to add appliances to surge protectors to reduce our overall phantom load usage.The surge protectors will not only reduce wear and tear on the cords, but make it easier to “unplug” by just  flipping a switch.

 

So, are you up for the challenge?  What lengths do you go go to, or would you go, to reduce the vampire sucking going on at your house?

Stay tuned for the soon to be released America Unplugged Challenge!