Friday, December 7, 2012

Being frugal.. thoughts and rambling

Have you ever tried to explain to someone how your household makes it on one income?  Or how you can be a single parent and still pay bills in a time when it takes two people working to pay all the bills?  Ever tried to explain how you are "frugal" without making the person think you are scrooge or just plain crazy?

This morning I have a phone interview and I suspect that one of the topics will be on how I manage on so little money. So I have been really thinking about what it means for me to be frugal.

Frugal.  So here are a few things I do.  I coupon.  Not extreme couponing like they do on tv.  No I don't have the patience or awesome stores around here like that.  Just enough to buy in bulk when things go on sale.  I stretch my money as far as I possibly can. Am I religious about it?  No.  Some days you just need to stop and grab a pizza for the kids because its just been that kinda day.  I also know how to make things when I run out.  For example.  I have been watching the sales ads for laundry soap.  I haven't seen a stock up price so instead of paying more than I am willing for a small bottle... I made my own.  A few years ago I exclusively made my own laundry soap.  We have alot of skin sensitivities in this family (mostly me).  So I already had the needed items on hand.  Here's another thing I do.. When I buy things like this (washing soda and borax),  I buy TWO of each so that the next time something pops up I have it on hand.  Frugal?  You decide.  Having it on hand when I was broke?  Positively a life saver.   Want to try it?  Here is the link I used when I first started.  http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/laundrysoap2.htm
Awesome page.  Lots of pictures.  I don't know about you but I need pictures to help me! lol
Another example of making it myself.  Thanksgiving dinner.  I am cooking.  Knee deep in with things boiling, smoking, heating up all around me.  What do I discover??  No canned cream of mushroom soup!  OF course!  Never fails.  So I bring in my 12 year old son and put him in front of a sauce pan.  Open my made from scratch recipe book I have been putting together for quite some time.. and put him to work.  Easy, quick and delicious.  My son mixed his finished product in the green bean casserole we were making and we were done!  If you don't have a made from scratch recipe book, start one!  Its a life saver.  Think of all the things you buy at the store, then start searching recipes.  Make sure you try them out.  :)   If you need ideas, pinterest is my favorite go to site.  Here is my board with all my homemade recipe that I want to try.  

Well its almost time for my phone call, so I better wrap up my post and get ready.  If you would like to see more posts about being frugal, what I do, or just anything in particular.. Just give me a comment about what you would like to see!  I will be happy to see what I can do.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Chicken and Rice Wraps

I thought I would share another really easy and delicious family favorite.  Even the kids like this one. 

Its Chicken and Rice Wraps from the 4 Ingredient Cookbook.

 (An awesome cookbook!)






















Ingredients:

8 boneless skinless chicken breast (cubed)
2 cups water
1 box Long Grain and Wild Rice
1/2 cup ranch salad dressing
1 cup shredded lettuce
8 (10-inch) tortilla shells

Ok.  When I make these I either use Uncle Ben's or Zatarains.  Both are really good.
I also don't use the premade ranch dressing.  I use the Hidden Valley packets with mayo. 

First, cook your cubed chicken until lightly browned on each side.  Add water, rice, and seasoning packet from your box mix.  Bring it to a boil.  Cover; reduce heat and let simmer until liquid is absorbed.  ((This can also be done in a different pan if you want to get the rice going for a quicker meal.  Both ways work well.))
Stir in salad dressing.

Then make like a taco.  Place a couple spoonfuls in the center of your heated tortilla shell.  Sprinkle with lettuce.  Wrap and eat!  We also sprinkle with cheese.

You can also add some chopped up bacon strips for more flavor. 

Note: This is not the recipe verbatim from the book.  It is my shortened version.  If you would like the exact wording in the book, let me know.  Its basically the same.



















Monday, June 11, 2012

Parmesan-Ranch Roasted Potatoes

Its been a while since I did a dinner post.  So today I made Cubed Steak and Gravy with Parmesan-Ranch Potatoes and a rice/vegetable mix.  I thought I would share with you my recipe for the potatoes.  Now, I know at some point (somewhere) I came across the basis of this recipe.  I would totally credit them but I can't remember where I saw it.  Its supper easy and everyone loves it.  More importantly the KIDS love it.  That's such a hard thing to do around here!

My list of ingredients:
Potatoes (The smaller the pieces the less cooking time but make them big enough to eat with your fingers or a fork)
Parmesan
Hidden Valley Ranch Packet
Olive Oil
Parsley
Garlic salt
Paprika





Start by pour enough olive oil to coat all the potatoes.  I add the whole packet of ranch dressing mix.  Then I add enough parmesan that I see everything getting coated.  Then I add my seasons.  I do not measure these out.  I am sure when I did this recipe the first time that I used a specific amount but I've made it enough to know what my family does and doesn't like.  I then added the parsley, garlic, and paprika.  Now the parsley and garlic are optional.  There is enough flavor in the ranch packet to make it good without the extra.  But I like a little extra.  We've even added hot and spicy stuff to see how it tasted.  Mix it all up.  I recommend (from experience) that you put aluminum foil down on your pan And spray it with cooking spray.  I forgot the cooking spray on this batch and it STUCK.  ha That was fun to get off!


I baked these on 375 while frying up the cube steak coated in flour.  Probably between 30 - 45 minutes depending on how big your potatoes are.  Here they are all ready to eat.  

While I was cooking and surfing pinterest for ideas on tomorrow's dinner I came across a recipe for Parmesan Ranch potatoes with bacon.  Any recipe that calls for bacon and cheese will automatically catch my interest.   So I think the next time I make this there will be bacon involved!  

Hope you all enjoy. 














Friday, May 4, 2012

Gardening and Reading

Sometimes I wish my children were old enough to drive. (Only 4 more years on one of them!)  Why??
So I can read.  I love being able to sit in the car with a book in my lap.  My other half HATES when I do that.  So I sit and wait for the day when all my child wants to do is drive mom around.  (hahahaha)
Hey!  A girl can dream can't she!
And man am I reading one book that is hard to put down!  Its also really hard to find time to read it.  I can't pick it up in front of the kids and read it like I normally would do.  That would be so not comfortable.  Asking why yet?  Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James.  I started a couple days ago after my daughter's preschool teacher borrowed it from another mom in the class.  And me, being the nosy book person, needed to know why she was hiding the book under her jacket.  So, of course, I asked!  Glad I did.  Yummy.  I can understand the feeling of needing to hide the book.  Only if you are just looking at the cover it doesn't look like anything special.  Just a normal fiction book.  But inside... inside is a different world of pleasure.  Yep, I said pleasure.  Now some are going to disagree.  I've read many different negative reviews of this book.  Positive too.  But if you have an open mind (and a pulse!) then this book is steamy.  Of course this is not my first steamy book.  I'm a regular fan of Elora's Cave.  If you follow this link, be aware these are adult novels!  Just a head's up.  That is a link to some free short stories.  lol  After reading so many children books each week, this is a nice grownup book to read!  Always nice.  You can only read about so many cuddly bears and cartoon characters.  If you are more interested in the kids books we read, here is a link to our goodreads page where we list each book we read as a family and what we think of it.

Soooooooo...
Its spring time here in Tennessee.  We are gardening and planting every weekend now.  I have two different vegetable garden beds so far.  I need more!  One raised garden bed is all tomatoes.  One is cucumbers, cantaloupe, squash and watermelons.  We have tons of fruit trees now.  I have a back porch full of seedling and plants that need planted.  Only problem is I have a devil of a time planting in my ground.  We have that red clay you associate with Tennessee.  Oh yeah, tons.  You till it up and as soon as you plant a row its all hard again.  I probably have more bags of Miracle Grow dirt than regular dirt in my gardens!  Last year my mom bought a truck load of manure for her garden beds.  I am seriously weighing the pros and cons of doing so this year.  Smell vs. Better Soil.
Want to see some pictures of my garden?
Well!  Glad you asked.



Ah.. I love spring. (and great books!)



Thursday, April 5, 2012

Cardboard Box Repurposed into Cute Storage

Tonight my daughters decided they wanted to build with a big thing of Lincoln Logs.  Unfortunately they were located right beside my desk which means no moving in my chair or we would have some pinched fingers.  So being a good mother (and wanting to move around in my chair) I relocated them to the other side of the room.  This prompted a search for a basket to hold the Lincoln Logs.  I couldn't find anything big enough.  So I got creative.

I started with this.  A box and princess wrapping paper.

 I chose to use a hot glue gun to glue it down.  It was as easy as wrapping a present.  Just fold, cut and tuck until you have the whole box covered.  Then I traced and cut a piece big enough for the inside.



Here is what it looked like after all that cutting, tucking, and gluing.  :)
The one other thing I did was tape all the loose edges and the corners.







Here is the how the box sits on the bookshelf.  Can you tell its a box?  My girls love it.
And it was really inexpensive.  I had everything already on hand.  















Just thought I would share.  Hope you get creative too.  I would love a link if you have done something similar.  :)


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Flubber

Our family watched Flubber a couple weeks ago.  Everyone enjoyed it.  From the 4 year old to the 16 year old.. Oh and mom and dad did too but you aren't getting our ages!

But the boys, they really loved the idea of creating Flubber.  So they looked up a recipe and made it.  Here is the shots I snapped with my camera phone of how they made flubber.

First here is the recipe they used:  Flubber
Of course we didn't follow it exactly.  I didn't see the sense in two bowls being dirtied with glue and chemicals.  We used baggies instead and I think it worked soooo much better.

You need:

Warm water
20 Mule Team Borax  (found in your store's laundry aisle)
Elmer's White Glue







(Can you tell they had fun doing the whole "squishy" bag thing??)  



















Measure out 1 and ½ cups of warm water in a baggie. Add 2 cups of Elmer's White Glue.  Squish it around.



  • Measure out 1 and 1/3 cups of warm water into a small baggie.  Add 2 teaspoons of 20 Mule Team Borax. Mix well until the Borax is completely dissolved into the water. 
    Pour the borax mixture into the Glue baggie.  
    ( See no bowls.. Less mess)
    Now is the time to add paint, food coloring, or even glitter to the mix.





    So much fun.  Even for boys who think they are too old for this sort of thing.  hehe

    Have fun!


  • Tuesday, January 31, 2012

    "Death by Coffee Pot"

    While doing dishes with my son tonight, I realized we came very close to starting the dishwasher without putting in the coffee pot.  In my house, not having a clean coffee pot turns a grumpy teddy bear into a king kong size pain in the neck.  My son is guilty of doing this and since he is at school in the morning, doesn't really feel the wrath as much as mom does.  So while handing him the coffee pot (which he tries to grab with one wet hand!), I make the comment he must be committing suicide.  He looked at me and raised his eyebrow (quirky kid) and said "huh".  I said "dead by coffee pot".  After a minute of just staring at me, he gets it.  It was incredibly funny.  Now I think we have a new saying in the household.

    Don't you love bonding.