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Showing posts from June, 2013

How to Dehydrate Your Own Blueberries

One day I had a crazy idea. I thought to myself that drying blueberries was a great idea. I mean, why not?

To buy dried blueberries in the store or online can cost $13-16 for 8 ounces. OUCH! That is an expensive addition to my granola! So I thought I would try to dehydrate my own blueberries. By doing this, I would have them ready to add to trail mix and granola.

I thought I was a genius. What followed proved I still have a lot to learn.

I did my research. Some people recommended poking a hole in them to dry them faster and a bit flatter. Some people recommended just drying them as they were. I choose option 2.

At the grocery store, I bought three pints of blueberries on sale for $1.99 (normally $3.99 a pint). Perfect. I am doing a project that will save me money and I am saving even more money with my initial purchase!

I filled the trays on my ancient dehydrator with the lovely blueberries after giving them a quick rinse.

I plugged in the dehydrator before bed and went to sleep. I woke up …

Those Tired Days

I am having one of those periods in my life. I call them the "tired days". I am exhausted. Not physically, but emotionally and mentally.

I know I can't be the only one. I know I am not the only one.

These days happen when I have a lot going on in my life, some big decisions that need to be made, some emotional issues to get through, and all I want to do is shut down. I don't want to think, I don't want to do, and I don't want anything.

Well...I do want things. Not exactly things, but things to happen. I just don't want to make the decisions. 

I like living my simple life, even though at the surface that life may not seem simple. I like the decisions I have made thus far and don't want to make the wrong one. That scares me the most - making a wrong decision. I would rather stick my hand in a blender than to make the wrong decision. I get very insecure at the thought of potentially screwing up my life, my kids' lives, and those that are around me.

Monday Frugal Update

This last week has been busy, busy, rainy, quiet, and busy again. Typical Iowa weather!
We have had some successes and some failures. I guess I shouldn't look at our bumps in the road as failures, but I try hard and want to be organized and well-planned. When I am not, I become a little hard on myself. A little positive thinking can go a long ways so please be kind to yourself too. 
We ate out this last week. Not once, but twice! Arghhhh!!! They were both after ball games that did not have concession stands to give the starving kiddos at least a little something until we got home. We did take snacks, but the games did not get over with until after 9:00 both nights which made planning much harder. I need to be more diligent about taking sandwiches or something that will take the edge off the hunger until we get home. 
However, the kids thought that it was awesome to get to eat out. At least they appreciated it!
I did some experimenting with recipes this last week. I think I had rec…

Chocolate Chip Muffins

Chocolate Chip Muffins are a household favorite! The kids think I don't make these often enough or enough of them when I make them. I have gone to doubling the batch just to get through more than one day!

You can make this recipe as healthy as you want or not. I have changed a few things from the original recipe and I will give you the original ingredients and what I use to make them healthier. Do what you want or use what you have on hand; making your own food from scratch is the best way!

Chocolate Chip Muffins

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour or 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour and 1 cup of whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar (I have used organic pure cane sugar)
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3/4 cup milk (we have used almond milk with excellent results)
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted (any cooking oil will work here)
3/4 - 1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a smaller bowl, combine egg, m…

Nourishing Foods for Your Food Storage

Food storage can be a tricky and confusing thing. What should you store? What does your family eat? What do you like to eat? What is non-perishable but still good for you?

A lot of food storage areas I see have a lot of junk food in them. I don't mean just the Little Debbie snacks. I see a lot of rice mixes, sugary cereals, processed foods, high carbohydrate foods, and empty calorie drinks. That is just a few examples. Those foods can come in handy if you are hungry. But they will do nothing to help fuel your body.

If you were to lose power for an extended amount of time, your body will use more energy to get tasks done because you will be doing more physically and mentally demanding things. Your body will need the nourishment of good, healthy foods for added energy and the additional calories you will need to power your body. If you were to lose your job or be laid off for extended amount of time, you need good foods to keep your mental energy and mood upbeat. Your body needs to b…

Monday Frugal Update

These last few weeks have been a wonderful experience in being frugal and creative! I have been working harder on doing things from scratch especially food. We have received some wonderful things from moving families that will help us tremendously!

I also have been working hard at my goal of not spending money at the concession stands. I know that this is a double edged sword with some people as the concession stands help the schools and sports. However, I cannot keep spending money like that. Even if I spend only $5.00 a night, we have games almost five nights a week and some weekend tournaments. I am looking at spending $25-30 every week. That does not include the $4-5 to get into the away high school games (we have activity passes for home games). So I could be spending another $10-15 a week. That comes to $35-45 a week. We do this for six weeks so that comes to $210-$270 for the season. Yikes! That is a lot of money!

If you think that is crazy to break down the numbers like that, …

Quick Chicken & Noodles

One of the many recipes my family enjoys is Quick Chicken & Noodles. The original recipe is from Gooseberry Patch Country Quick & Easy Cookbook. I have made some changes for my family and their preferences.

This dish is one of my go-to recipes when we need dinner in a hurry. All the kids love it!

Quick Chicken & Noodles

6 cups chicken broth or stock
2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
1/2 stick butter
1/2 onion, diced or 1/2 Tablespoon dried onion
garlic powder to taste (we use about 1 1/2 tsp)
Italian seasoning to taste (we use about 1 Tbsp)
salt and pepper to taste
12-oz. pkg. extra wide egg noodles, uncooked

In a large pot, combine chicken broth, chicken, butter, onion, and seasonings. Bring to a slow boil over medium to medium high heat. Once boiling, add egg noodles. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes until noodles are tender.

Yield 6-8 servings.

I typically serve this with a vegetable like green beans because they taste good together. I also serve this in bowls so the green beans a…

Homemade Laundry Detergent Revisited

I don't usually mess with my recipes once I make them. Especially my cleaning recipes. If they work, why mess with them?

Also I hate to fail. Usually failure costs money and I hate wasting money too.

The truth is that I liked my homemade laundry detergent, but I wasn't in love with it. It worked great, but I thought it could do better. I didn't like what it was doing with my whites, but I have resigned myself to a lifelong affair with OxyClean. I guess that makes me a little demanding, but I can live with that.

Also I wanted to find something that killed the smell of clothes that have been a car too long. Those who have teenagers in sports might feel my pain.

I started doing some research and found that just about everyone makes their laundry detergent just a little differently. Some recipes have more borax than I used. Some recipes used more bar soap. Some added essential oils. Some omitted the borax altogether.

So many options...more confusion for me....

I finally decide…

What do you carry in your vehicle?

There are some things that everyone should do in my opinion. One is being prepared for anything no matter where you are. Where do you spend a good deal of time? For me, that time is spent in my vehicle or near my vehicle.

I like to carry certain items in my vehicles. Some things are just standard and you can find in almost every vehicle. Some things are because of a life lesson I was taught (kids puking comes to mind!). Some things are due to the fact that I am frugal and do not like to pay more at convenience stores/concession stands.

This list is not a comprehensive list. I have taken the advice of multiple lists and I still have things I want to add when I can afford them. I will include those items in the list too. Also, take into consideration that I live in Iowa and need to think about winter conditions.

What do I consider standard carry items in vehicles?

* Jumper cables
* Ice Scraper
* Sleeping Bag and/or Blankets
* Maps and/or Atlas (try to find maps that have county blacktop roads …