Friday, January 30, 2009

Combatting The Economy- A Mother's Way

Busy Bee Change Purse

I have been thinking a lot about how to save money. Actually, not just lately, I have been for a few years now. I don't know of anyone that I come in contact with that isn't concerned about the rising prices on just about everything and the looming fear of loosing jobs in this troubled time.

I am among those that are fortunate enough to be able to stay home with my children and hold down the fort. Sometimes, it feels like that fort is being attacked from all directions and it is easy to become discouraged. As a homemaker, it is my job to make the best with what we have and stretch those pennies. As time has went by, I have discovered very like minded individuals across this country that are trying to do the same. I thought that it would be good to pass on this list of helpful websites and blogs that have helped me here and there over the years and a few things that we have done to save some money.

You might have already read my tutorial on how to make homemade cloth napkins. I know what you are thinking, that is something tiny as far as saving money. But, hey, every little bit adds up. If you think hard enough, you will come up with a lot of things that you could do to save some cash for a rainy day.

  • One major thing that we have found is that if you can buy and store anything in bulk, you will save a lot. Buying in bulk may not be cost effective or even practical for small families but for our family of 6, it is practical- very practical. In our society, we have all kinds of options available for buying in bulk. Most people don't have to drive far to find a Costco, BJ's (I miss BJ's- they are closing), or Sam's Club (all here in the southeastern United States). I'm sure you could add more to the list from where you live. The main thing to remember is that if you shop at a large warehouse store, do you shop there enough to justify the membership fees? Our local BJ's Wholesale Club practically knew us by sight as we visited almost every week. So, our membership fee made sense to us. Had we only shopped there once or twice a year, the membership fee would be a waste of money.

  • If you have a large family, take advantage of Food Co-ops. Years ago, I thought food co-ops were groups of paranoid people that were afraid of food sold in retail stores. I pictured everyone wearing flip flops and long hair. Why I thought that, I have no idea but I have changed my perspective of people buying from co-ops. As a matter of fact, I am now one of those that buy from a food co-op about once a year. I can't find a good co-op on my side of the states so I buy my wheat from Azure Standard. They are awesome as far as a tremendous variety of products available at a reasonable price. I would buy more from them but I can't justify the expensive shipping fees that they charge to get my product shipped all the way from Oregon.

  • Take advantage of your local farmer's markets and stands. My great uncle farmed all of his life and sold his produce to neighbors, friends, and the local grocery store (back in the 60's and 70's- stores bought from local farmers from the trunk of their car). Why, you don't travel far down any street in the summer time and not see a sign posted telling you of produce for sale somewhere nearby. Right off of the top of my head, I can think of a farm up the street from me and a huge barn that sells fruits and vegetables in the summer time not more than 5 minutes from my house. You will see that buying local is not only good for the local economy, the food tastes better as it is fresher- not to mention the better nutrition that you will get from that locally farmed food.

  • Don't stick to just one grocery store to buy all of your food. Shop around. Look at sales papers. Check grocery web sites. If you are coupon savvy- which I am not-, clip, print, trade, and save coupons. I won't go into the coupon thing but I'll list some great sites to help you get started if that is your thing.

  • Plant a garden. You would be surprised as to how a few extra vegetables coming into the house makes a difference on a grocery budget. We still are eating off of the corn on the cob that we put up last summer. it has made a difference in helping to save money. I have free corn- the grocery store has corn that is sometimes over $1.00 an ear! Two of my kids can eat three ears a piece. Add that up and you will see that it would cost me over $10.00 just to buy corn on the cob for one meal from the grocery store!

  • If you are crafty and can justify the cost of supplies, make something to sell on the side. I opened an etsy shop to sell baby quilts online and things just kind of grew from there. A person does have to put down ground rules before venturing into a business. Establish how much you want to spend on materials and keep an eye on your profit. If you are going "in the hole" by running your business, then it is just not worth it. I had a monetary goal to make every month from the sales in my shop and so far (this month not included), I have reached that goal. Keeping an eye on the big picture is a must as far as determining if something is worthwhile to pursue or not.

Having said way more than I had intended to, here is a list of helpful places that can help you save some money, eat healthier, maybe make some money, and overall, combat the scary economy.

The Family Homestead - My most favorite site in the world. Crystal Miller led me on an adventure in homemaking and I have learned so much from her.

The Nourishing Gourmet - Recipes and information on feeding your family nourishing foods

Janes 4 girls $800.00 annual budget- Where a single mom of three feeds her family on only $800.00 a year. She shows step by step and purchase by purchase as to how and what she gets using sales, coupons, rebates, and other freebies. (this is a great site but is slow to load on my computer)

Money Saving Mom- Advice and information on stretching the grocery budget, recipes, encouragement, coupons, and freebie deals. She also lets you know of the weekly CVS deals and has a link on how to play the CVS game and get free stuff from CVS.

A Year of Crockpotting - An awesome blog where one lady makes a dish in her crock pot everyday of the year.

Hillbilly Housewife - Recipes and information on feeding your family frugally.

SueGregg- Recipes and information on healthy eating- check out the blender waffle recipe- they are the best things you will ever put in your mouth- (except chocolate.....)

Heavenly Homemakers - One woman's daily musings on how she feeds her family healthy and nutritious meals- has lots of recipes and information.

Passionate Homemaking - An encouraging site for healthy recipes and products that you can make yourself (ie: homemade deodorant).

Organizing Junkie - Just what it says- helps you to become more organized and offers tips and information for running your household.

Azure Standard- A Food Co-op in Oregon that has almost any natural food that you could think of.

Whole Foods Market- My most favorite grocery store in the world. Shop there and you will see why I say that.

Etsy - One of the most popular places online to sell hand made items

This list could go on and on. I just wanted to give you somewhere to start if you are looking to save some money this year. It takes some work but after awhile, saving becomes second nature.

Please feel free to let me know of your favorite sites to combat the economy in the comments. I love finding new places to learn more.....

And for those of you that were expecting some silliness-

I promise that I will be back to my old self again soon.
I'm off to see what's outside my windows -
but first, I need some chocolate ......

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Thinking of Spring

May it rain on your garden this summer

Last year, my brother planted a garden. We hung around his place a lot last summer. No, not for the produce. We were bushhogging (on and off) and digging around in our storage container. It is funny, we still didn't get the field completely bushhogged. (is "bushhogging" just a southern term?) Anyway, we had a lot of picnics, ate all kinds of berries and nuts, put some major milage on the go-cart, and watched the building of the outhouse. (I'll let you know more about the outhouse another day- it is quite a story)

He (my brother) came by the other day and mentioned gardening. It got me thinking about planting one and what in the world we would need to plant the most of. Farming is in our blood you see. Most of my ancestors were farmers like a lot of people's ancestors from the part of our world. Sometimes, the sight of a seed catalog makes the pulse race and unfortunately, the pocket book shrink. My brother (or Uncle Bubba as he is frequently called), already has a plan as to what seeds he is going to purchase. He asked what we wanted to plant and he would order it with his. I stood there with that "deer and car light" look. I had not thought about it but it is time to do it.

I guess I'll be spending some spare time figuring out what we use the most and go with that. I have to be practical and think ahead to the end of the summer- you know, harvest time. Harvest time makes me very, very nervous. Why do I get nervous at the thought of harvesting goodies? Hence the picture you will now see:

Fire Ants! They are evil. They want to hang around in the pea patch and bite your fingers as you pick each pod. They like to hover under each corn shuck as you pluck it from the stalk. Biting unsuspecting feet, ankles, fingers, and whatever else they can get to is their ambition in life when they infest your garden spot. They are the reason harvest time makes me nervous.

Now that I have my complaining over with, back to the point. I have to think ahead and not plant to many fire ant inducing vegetables. So far, I know they love corn and clay peas. Hummmmm, what to plant? A better question: How do you run fire ants out of the garden?

......Stay tuned as I plan to bring you some hilarity from the garden as spring and summer arrive......

If you haven't noticed it by now, if you scroll down to the very bottom of this blog, you will see a cute little YouTube box. Click to start it and you will see a little "diddy" about fire ants.

A Wordless Wednesday

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Remaking an old favorite- The Peanut Butter Sandwich

A nice bowl of hard spring wheat- the makings for... a peanut butter sandwich?

Sometimes, at my house, we do things the hard way. Today, you will see that what I just said, is so, so true. Over the past year, I estimate that I have fixed approximately 350 lunches- give or take a few. Add that to the 350 or so breakfasts and 350 or so suppers and you will get the idea that we don't go out to eat very much. Truthfully, we don't eat "quick" pre-packaged foods either. What does this all add up to? I pretty much live in my kitchen.

Feeding my family wholesome and most importantly healthy foods is a labor of love for me. The meal that drives me crazy is lunch. There are only so many times that you can eat sandwiches, soups, leftovers, etc. To put it nicely, the kids get sick of their choice of lunch items.

In the past, if you mention peanut butter sandwiches around here, one or more kids quickly said they are not the least bit hungry, ran to the cabinet, and started scavenging for something else.

Fast forward to the present: The peanut butter sandwich now has been totally remade at my house. No longer is there scavenging at the mention of America's staple sandwich spread.

Here is what we did (the hard way) that has changed the PB & J forever:

The ingredients:
  • Fresh flour tortillas
  • Peanut Butter
  • Applesauce
  • Honey

We started with an idea (and the realization we were out of bread) of making flour tortillas to spread the peanut butter on. With the flour container empty, the trusty, old hand cranked flour grinder was brought out and set up. Everyone loves grinding grain (for the first 3-4 minutes only) and argues over who gets to grind first. If you are not out of flour like I was, just get your trusty bread flour out. (Mental note: I want an electric grinding mill for Mother's Day)

Here is the first grind. The grain was quite rough so we ground it two more times.

Flour Tortilla ingredients:
  • 3 cups fresh whole wheat flour (if purchasing flour, use bread flour)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt (sea salt is best but not necessary)
  • 6 Tablespoons shortening (I use organic palm oil)
  • 1-1/4 cup warm water
Mix the salt and baking powder into the flour. Add the shortening and cut in using a pastry cutter. Continue to cut in the shortening until the mixture has the consistency of pea-sized clumps. At this point, mix in most - but not all- of the water. Mix together and add additional water as needed to get the consistency of biscuit dough. Transfer the dough to a surface and knead for a few minutes. You only need to knead the dough until it is well mixed and smooth. At this point, divide the large lump into lots of smaller balls about 2 inches in diameter. (You can make them smaller or larger but the idea is to have enough to make into a normal sized tortilla).

Divided dough balls

Let the dough balls rest for about 10 minutes. If you roll them out without letting them rest, they will be unruly and difficult to manage. No one wants unruly dough balls.

Sorry that I don't have a picture but next, use a rolling pin to roll the individual small dough balls into a circle. If you are lucky enough to have a tortilla press, now is the time to use that handy gadget! (mental note: I want a tortilla press- ask for one for Mother's Day).

Cooking Tortillas on the Griddle- (and yes, I know they are not perfectly round- cut me some slack please....)

Cook the tortillas for a few minutes on a hot griddle. Flip and cook the other side until both sides have a faint browning. (My griddle is set at 350 degrees). Don't over cook as you still want the tortilla to be soft enough to roll up.

It is at this point, I do not have any pictures of the assemblage of the sandwiches because they were gobbled up faster than I could run to get the camera.

Mix peanut butter and a desired amount of honey together. Spread an even layer of the peanut butter/honey mixture on the entire surface of one side of a tortilla. Spread a thin layer of applesauce over the peanut butter/honey mixture. Start on one side of the tortilla and roll toward from one side to the other. You should have a cute rolled up peanut butter sandwich when you are done.

Stand back and watch the "sandwiches" or roll ups disappear as quickly as you make them!

So there you have it. The peanut butter sandwich was remade at my house. I wonder how long it will take before the kids get sick of these? Maybe I have awhile ......

So What's Your Crafting Addiction?

Here are the four objects I use the most. (I've entered every pin cushion giveaway that I come across and have yet to win one. For now, my sorry tomato will just have to do.....)

Everyone I know has their own little craft that they love. Crafting of anything gives a person a sense of accomplishment and lets one's mind steer off into another direction away from the stress of the day. Don't you agree?

I like to sew amongst other things. My favorite thing to sew is a quilt. Time, however, is usually against me when it comes to quilting. There are only 27 - 30 hours in a day -for a mother- right?

I learned to sew on a machine (and by hand) back in middle school in a home economics class and later in high school. Thank you Mrs. Huecker and Mrs. Renner where ever you two are.

My grandmother made quilts for all of her grand children and we all thought that having one of grandma's quilts was one of the greatest things that could possibly happen to a kid (OK, I did- I don't know how everybody else felt about it). I started making quilts for my kids a few years ago and I have promised to make one for each member of my family. Other than my kids, only my brother has received his quilt. I'll get to the others eventually, I hope.

I lack a great deal of patience when it comes to quilting however. My sister in law can hand quilt all day long and it doesn't faze her a bit. Me, I panic and then avoid the situation all together. As a matter of fact, the wall hanging I made in my kitchen was pieced by me (with the machine no doubt) and my sister in law graciously asked if she could hand quilt it (probably because she knew I would never quilt it by hand). You know already what my answer was! Hand sewing doesn't scare me really. I just can't sit for hours concentrating on one thing. I have to move around, I have to cook, I have to cook, I have to cook....oh, sorry- cooking is what my kids just think I should be doing all of the time- not sewing.

So there you have it. I sew (on a machine 99% of the time). Give me my sorry tomato pin cushion, my scary rotary cutter, the most awesome pair of scissors on the face of the earth, and my old trusty Kenmore any day. So, what are you addicted to?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I have a thing for horses. But I guess you might have figured that out already.

I've been hanging around barns (and flies) for some 25 years (has it really been that long?) The responsibility of raising my family keeps me in check so I don't get to spend as much time with four legged critters as much as I used to. Not that it is a bad thing. It is just that at this point and time, my "human" babies need me more.

Pictured above in my banner, beside my littlest one, is my first horse; Orion's Stardust or "Dusty" to put it plain and simple. Dusty is a registered Arabian. Dusty is also very, very, old in horse years. On April 1st, 2009, Dusty will turn 31 (human) years old. I can't believe it myself. I have come to the realization that Dusty might not live another year or so but I comfort myself in knowing that he has lived a pretty interesting life and thanks to my sister who know takes care of him everyday, he will leave this world, well fed.

I don't know the history of Dusty's early years other than he was born in Pickens county, South Carolina and at some point in time, was in more than one Arabian horse show. Just to let you in on a few things; Dusty is a goof ball and therefore, I don't imagine he went very far in any Arabian shows (hence him being sold to us in the first place I would suppose). Dusty also doesn't like men- they make him nervous (ask my uncle what happens when a man rides my horse- he will tell you quite an interesting "rodeo" type story). Dusty was abused at one point in his life and I would imagine, he is leery of men (especially those with lunge whips) because of that abuse. Dusty also has this head swinging habit and that nervous balking thing that he does when something doesn't quite look right to him. He is talented in an odd since of the word. When he was seven, he could count how old he was by pawing his foot on command. One of the strangest things he can do-but only when his nerves are torn to shreds- is dance. A few of the family has witnessed his prancing in place. It makes me wonder if he did dressage in those horseshows....

When he was boarded at a barn, early on in my horse ownership, someone let him drink out of an aluminum can and he has loved canned drinks ever since. His favorite is Dr. Pepper but any soft drink will do. (If you don't have a can, he will daintily drink from a plastic cup as well). As I think back, he has eaten a lot of weird stuff for a horse. Right off of the top of my head, he loves moon pies, pecans, M&M's, Hershey bars, mulberries, strawberries, and once gobbled up an entire Whopper from Burger King- completely by accident. (He was faster than I was and woofed my dropped burger down before I could pick it up). In his old life now, he loves the loaves of bread that my mother treats him to every day. He has her spoiled by the way. He neighs, paces the fence, and gets her attention if she is late in tossing the daily treat. I'd imagine he is dreaming of warmer weather, loaves of bread, and mulberries right now.

Dusty has carried me through a lot of dark times as my very best friend. I stopped riding him some 14 years ago or so and he is in full retirement now. I guess that is why he has lasted so long. He now spends his days relaxing and doing his favorite thing- Eating.

Here are a couple of my "horsey" related favorites from The Schooling at Home Estians and The South Carolina Etsy Street Team. Make sure and click on their shop names to go to their shops and see some more of their beautiful work!
This beautiful print is from Farmgirldesigns

These beautiful prints are available from Rachelsstudio.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Rare Occurrence in Our Neck of the Woods

If you look really, really, really, really, close, you can see what I saw on Sunday, January 18th, 2009 (I must record that exact date in case we never see this sort of thing again). I would imagine the weather man was celebrating -as for once, because he got it right. The sad part is, the kids had hoped he got it wrong. Trusty old weather man said that we would get snow flurries. That is exactly what we got. Trusty old weather man said it wouldn't last long. He was right. Trusty old weather man said it would turn to rain. He was right again. (Boo hoo). Hey, it was the weekend. A little snow in the south wouldn't be too bad a thing would it?

This is all it amounted to. A dusting....... (boo hoo). I do know of a few kids that made the best of it. A few flakes landed on a tongue or two. There was that big bike accident (sorry there are no pictures). I know a young boy that discovered that if you ride across snow covered gravel on a bicycle and slam on brakes, you wreck (and you ruin a good pair of pants in the process).

The snow came and went (boo hoo again). It's amazing how much excitement snow can cause around these parts.

For those of you that see snow all of the time, it was a big deal that South Carolina got to see the white stuff. Usually, we are blessed with freezing rain and power outages that last way longer than they should (don't get me started on this one).

I guess I'm happy for the hour long flurries (maybe it wasn't even that long). At least we don't forget what snow looks like when we get to see it every once and awhile.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Look What's New at Minnie Mae's Etsy Shop....

Leave it to my hubby to come up with something totally out of the blue that is associated with his favorite obsession; computers. As you see above, we just listed this awesome desk clock made from a crackled cd. It is a quartz analog with....get this....a snooze button. Gotta love a snooze button, huh? He has plenty more that he is cranking out but we wanted to see what people thought before he went totally wild.

Here it is standing up. He strategically placed a blue granite stone behind the clock to give it stability or "stand- up ability". Can you guess how hard it is to photograph a shiny surface like this? You don't want to know how many pictures were taken to get these two shots!

If you are interested in purchasing one of these clocks, go here. If not, go here anyway (pretty please).

I have a feeling that he has caught the Etsy bug so stay tuned....

Friday, January 16, 2009

Just Who Is Minnie Mae Anyway?

Minnie Mae, Bessie Pearl, and unknown

I thought it was about time to share a little bit about who Minnie Mae really is (or in this case,....was). Most people think that my name is Minnie Mae. Nope, I am not a Minnie Mae. As you see to the right side of the post, my name is Rosemary. .....Stay with me here......

OK, so now you are saying, "Did you steal someones identity?". Not really....well....not that I think about it, well yeah, I guess so. The reason most people call me Minnie is that it is the name of my etsy shop. So why is my shop named after Minnie Mae? You are about to find out.

Pictured above is the real Minnie Mae along with two of her friends. This picture was taken in 1924. Minnie Mae is the one to the far left in the picture. Beside her, is her (at that time) future sister in-law, Bess. Unfortunately, the third mysterious person on the right is unknown to us all.

To make a long story short, Minnie Mae was my grandmother. I say "was" to be grammatically correct but she is still my grandmother. I feel very weird talking about her by using her real name. All of her grand children called her "Nannie". It was before my time when someone came up with that name but regardless, it stuck.

Nannie had a tremendous impact on my life. She was kind to everyone she met. I don't remember her ever saying a harsh word (except to the cat that kept running in the door). She was an awesome nurse to anyone that was sick. Not a real nurse, but the "tuck you in and feed you chicken soup" kind of nurse. One of the things that I remember most about her, was that she could make you forget your troubles within two minutes of speaking with her.

My Nannie owned and operated a community grocery store when my mother was little. I always thought that was "cool". She could "tat" too. (Hummm, if she were alive today, I'd be selling some of her stuff for her- who am I kidding? She kept up with the times- she would probably be selling stuff for me!). Like most grandchildren, I could go on and on about my most cherished grandmother so I'll spare you the details.

When it came time to open my etsy shop, I had no problem thinking of a name for it. "Minnie Maes" was the name I chose. I chose her name to honor her memory and the legacy that she left behind. I think Nannie would blush at that thought......

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What's Outside My Windows.... (Part 4)

Just who is this mysterious cheerleader anyway?

It's been awhile since I seen something "strange" outside my windows. I even had someone say that they were looking forward to my next installment of "What's outside my windows". I was wondering when I would see something outside my windows that was worthwhile to show everyone.

Well, CurlyFry, here you go. I looked outside this morning and what did I see? This mysterious cheerleader that chose not to show her face- is what I seen.

What can we speculate from this scene? Well, first off, she looks like an animal. Maybe even a party animal. She is probably related to Shrek Hopefully, if you haven't been living under a rock for the past few years, you know who Shrek is. There is nothing wrong with being related to an ogre. After all, princesses marry ogres.

We can also tell that she uses way too much hairspray! I mean, who has hair that stays right in place like that? Certainly not me, that is for sure.

She probably feels great patriotism for her country. Note the red, white, and blue on her shirt. We could also interpret the stars as reminiscent of the fourth of July. Hey, wait, isn't this January? What's going on? Is she confused and dazed. You know how cheerleaders can fall from those huge pyramids they do. She might have fell and hit her head......

The last thing I notice is that she has her back to me. Is she avoiding me? Doesn't she like attention? But wait....... she has a rather large object protruding from her face....could that be......a huge yellow nose? That explains it, she is self conscious. She has a big honker. Now we know. Poor thing, she shouldn't be ashamed that her nose is big (and yellow).

Maybe if I introduce myself to her, she will turn around and let me see her face. Hey, if we become friends, who knows, I might get to meet her cousin Shrek..... That would be way more cool that looking outside my windows!

The South Carolina Etsy Street Team is Having A Contest

I'm a member of the South Carolina Etsy Street Team. (And yes, I know that some of you know that already. I'm just letting the others know. Not the "others" from Lost however. Can you tell I feel kind of silly today?) They are having a creative challenge contest to try and get team members back into the swing of things in this new year. The theme is, "LOVE". Ooooh, so many things a person could make with that theme. Up until about a week ago, I had no idea as to what I could make with the theme love. I didn't want to sew up a love themed grocery bag as I felt that would be too easy. I was just going to pass on this contest. "No big deal" I said to myself.

But things soon changed. Thanks to my hubby's wonderful aunt, Faye, I was hit over the head with inspiration. (Ok, technically, the shed door and a strong wind bumped me from the backside - you get the picture) Believe it or not, because of a random gift that Faye gave me, I immediately came up with my idea that eventually turned into Kelly Faye, that you see in the picture above. I had wanted to make a doll for a long time. As a matter of fact, I have one of those old (from the 80's- 1980's not 1880's -hee hee) adoption type doll kits that I found in a thrift store. Unfortunately, it is still up in my closet- untouched. I get the box out from time to time but that is as far as it goes.

Back to the original story.... Faye was cleaning out some of her mother's old things from the shed outside and asked if I seen anything that I wanted. My eyes zoomed in on a bag of yarn, very lovingly rolled into neat balls. She seen it at the same time and asked if I did crochet. I don't (that is on my list to learn) but their was just something about a bag of yarn that caught my attention. "Here take it", she said. When I got home that day, I dumped the yarn out and neatly folded in the bottom of the bag was a huge piece of muslin type material. "Ha Ha", I said out loud. The makings for a doll lay before me. "I think I'll try to make a doll for the creative challenge" I thought.

So, there you go. I started making a doll with no thought to the fact that I had no idea on how to make the eyes. (What I felt was one of the most important parts by the way). I finished the doll within a few days and my little one told me that the doll needed a name. Hence comes the story behind the name:

Some of you with small children may know who Handy Manny is. If not, go here for your quick education. Handy Manny has a friend that runs a hardware store. That friend of Handy Manny and the Tools, is named Kelly. The song about Kelly's hardware store has stuck into all of our heads around here- especially my little one's head so now, you know the origin of the dolls first name.

Now comes the middle name. My mother in law said that I should name the doll after Faye (Remember her? She gave me the makings of Kelly- (Not my mother in law- she is the one that hits my father in law over the head with her purse in Walmart) stay with me here.....) Now, this doll, which by the way, represents the love a child will give her- (not to mention the love themed clothes that I sewed for her)- has her new name: Kelly Faye.

So there you have it. My entry for the contest. Go to the South Carolina Blog to read up on the contest. I'll be asking all of you to vote for your favorite next month so stay tuned......

By the way, Kelly Faye is for sale in my etsy shop if anyone is interested. Come give her a look-see.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I Know Someone That Should Be On Etsy........

Walking Stick

I have a pretty good father in law. He likes to tell jokes a lot. As a matter of fact, on any given day, you might hear him say something to this effect: "What do you call a deer with no eyes?"- "No Eye Deer". Or, you might hear him say this one: "What do you call a deer with no eyes and no legs?" - "Still No Eye Deer".

I know, I know, he didn't make up those but he often gets a laugh wherever he goes. Beware if you work for a soft drink company and are stocking your wares in any store when he walks by. He has been known to ask the Pepsi guy when the Coca Cola shipment is due in or vice versa. That in itself isn't all that funny but he acts so completely sincere in his questions and the soft drink guy shakes his head and thinks about how dumb people are in this part of South Carolina. The exact effect he was aiming at.

Imagine what people once thought when he stood with his hand on one hip, a finger tapping his cheek, a very puzzled look on his face, and stood leaning back with a very confused look on his face and looked at something (which just happened to be the color blue) on the store shelf. He shook his head in agreement to his thoughts and stated, "Yep, that there is blue". Then he walked off. See, I told you he tries to make people think that people in our fare city are dumb. If those shocked people standing there staring at the blue item on the shelf, (shaking their head in disbelief at what just happened in front of their eyes,) only listened carefully, they would have heard my father in law on the next isle, giggling. (My mother in law, by the way, could have been heard knocking him over the head with her purse.)

You get the picture. My father in law doesn't spend all of his time joking around. He has a little hobby. He can see hidden faces in wood. He tends to carve out those faces pretty fast too. Hubby and I have told him that he needs to put a few up for sale but he is just not completely warmed up to the idea.

I was hoping that this little blog post would give him some inspiration to start an Etsy shop. Maybe seeing some of his stuff on the Internet would give him the little nudge he needs......

Dude that looks like Willie Nelson

As with any grandpa, he has inspired the younger generation to pick up a stick and carve out the person trapped inside it.

This is my son's first attempt at carving his own walking stick. (He does plan on opening a shop, by the way).

Who knows, maybe before long, there will be another Etsian on the never ending list. All I know is that my father in law is talented and I think people should know it.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Cookies for Breakfast?

Who wouldn't like cookies for breakfast? (I just had a vision of Cookie Crisp cereal......)

I'm talking about real cookies. Homemade cookies. The kind that smell good in the oven. You know, the kind that makes you want to slap someone. Well, I have a tried and true recipe that you will love and it is healthy! Because these cookies are healthy, you can use these babies as a breakfast food! Did you catch that? Fast, breakfast food that is nutritious and delicious!

As with anything I cook, the recipe can change each time I cook it but for the sake of sharing this recipe, I bit my lip and wrote down the recipe for you. I apologize for the comments out to the side but, like I said, I change things all the time and I wanted you to know how you could personalize your cookies too.

Standard Breakfast Cookie recipe:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • 2 cups rolled oats (this is slow cook oatmeal- only dry)
  • 2 cups plain flour (I use King Arthur's Bread flour- they don't bleach their flour)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (I use sea salt- has more minerals in it)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (If you have a thing for cinnamon, I guess you could add more if you like)
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda (not powder- soda- the stuff you put in your fridge to fight odor)
  • 1 cup of "goodies" ( this could be raisins, chocolate chips, nuts, etc- I use raisins most of the time)
  • 1/2 cup of melted butter (I use real butter- I suppose margarine would work, but I'm not sure- don't get mad at me if it doesn't)
  • 1 cup of honey (yes, I said one cup of honey- honey has a lower glycemic index than sugar and it gives baked goods such a wonderful flavor. Check your supermarket or neighborhood bee keeper- I buy my honey in a quart jar)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (use the real stuff- not the artificial stuff- Don't you want the real stuff anyway?)
  • 2 eggs (You know me, I use cage free, vegan fed eggs. Once you have lived in the country, regular white eggs just don't cut it)
  • 1/2 cup of buttermilk (this is a must as you are using baking soda and the acid in the buttermilk is needed to make the cookie dough rise when combined with the soda)

Did you notice that there is no sugar in this recipe? No, I did not make a boo boo. The honey is your sweetener (yum).

Mix all ingredients together except the flour, oats, and "goodies". Once they are mixed well, mix in the flour, oats, and "goodies". You will want your batter to be thick so that you can spread it easily into a greased cookie sheet. If the batter is too dry, just add a little more buttermilk. The main thing is that you don't want the batter to be runny. Scoop out the batter onto the cookie sheet and spread around into one big roundish looking glob about 1/2 " thick. I suppose that you could shape them into cookie shapes but I don't fuss with the shape. Pop the one big massive cookie into the oven. This is the part that I let you guess at. I don't time the cookies. All ovens are different. As an estimate, I would guess about 15 minutes minimum. Keep peeking at the dough and wait until they are light to medium brown and feel done to the touch. Make sure the center of the huge cookie is done and not "mushy". Pull the yummy cookies out of the oven and cut into bars- I use a spatula to cut them with. At this point, call the herd in and tell them they get to eat cookies for breakfast. You will be a hero!

Voila, you just made a nutritious cookie that you can use for a quick breakfast or a healthy snack. They save so much time when you have some of these made and put into the freezer for those hectic days!

Cookies without the guilt! What could be better?

Want to make these sugar free for a diabetic?

Substitute the honey with: one teaspoon of powdered Stevia (or two dropper fulls of liquid Stevia) then add 3/4 cup of sugar free applesauce to the batter before cooking. (The applesauce will replace the bulk and need for the extra liquid ) Hey, everybody can use extra fiber!

I ran up on a recipe very similar to mine. It is short, sweet, and too the point. Visit here if you don't have time for my silly comments! I haven't tried her recipe exactly but her cookies sure did turn out prettier than mine.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Sew Your Own Cloth Napkins

Looks like I'm going on a picnic doesn't it?

In our never ending search and journey of penny pinching, Hubby and I discovered something rather simple, yet overlooked, when it comes to saving money in the household budget. Being a new year, and in these financially difficult times, (when everyone is looking to save some money), I thought I would show you how we save an estimated $52.00-$78.00 a year. How do I come up with that figure? Well, I have a large family that can very easily go through an entire pack of paper napkins in one week. Given the cost of that pack of paper napkins can run anywhere from $1.00-$1.50 each, and there are 52 weeks in a year, you can multiply to see where I came up with the $52.00-$78.00 a year total spent on paper napkins. If I had bought more expensive brands of napkins, I would have spent more than $78.00 a year.

Guess what? I don't spend over $50.00 a year on napkins anymore.

I travelled to my neighborhood department store and purchased one yard of fabric from the $1.00 discount table. The black and white checked fabric in the pictures is what struck my fancy that day. Read on to find out how you can save money too.

Materials Needed:

One yard (or more if preferred) of a tight knit and heavy homespun type material (cotton only)
Sewing machine (or serger)
Scissors (or rotary cutter and mat)
Washing machine/dryer


Purchase at least one yard (more if you want to make a lot of napkins) of a close knit cotton fabric that shares the same colors on each side. Homespun is a good fabric to look for but make sure that you purchase the thickest homespun you can find. If you don't know what homespun is, ask someone at your local fabric store and I am sure they can help you out. Beware, I purchased a cheap homespun fabric in a blue plaid, made my napkins and the fabric was so thin and flimsy that they crumpled into a heap in the wash. In order to use them, I would have had to iron them each time I washed them. Ironing napkins is not something that I want to do so, I now have a nice set of cleaning rags because of my bad fabric decision. Just make sure you get a thick and heavy fabric. Pre-wash your fabric if you are worried about color bleeding (homespun tends to do this) and shrinkage.

Decide what size napkin that you would like. We use napkins that are somewhere around 12-14" square. Iron your fabric. I have a rotary cutter and board so I just folded my fabric and lined up the measurements and cut away. If you do not have a rotary cutter, just cut you a template from a piece of cardboard or manila folder and use that.

After your napkins are cut out. You will need to finish the edges so that they will not unravel. I do not have a serger so I used my regular sewing machine to do the job. A serger would save you some time in the long run but a sewing machine does the job quite nicely. I can not remember the exact number of napkins I got out of that one yard of fabric but I know it was somewhere between 12-15 napkins. Depending on the width of the fabric and size that you cut, you will have more or less than I did.

Using a tight zig zag stitch, sew as close to the edge on all four sides of the napkins as seen in this picture. Trim off any extra fabric between the stitches and end of edge.

Now, throw your napkins in the washer. Wash them in a regular cycle and then tumble dry. Depending on if you used a serger, you may have perfect napkins come out or if you used a sewing machine, you might have a mess of strings hanging off of your napkins. Don't panic. Trim the strings off of your napkins and they are done. I only had a few strings handing off of the edges the first time they were washed. The tighter the zig zag stitch that you use will prevent extra strings hanging off in the long run.

Now, you have a nice set of cloth napkins to use everyday! Technically, of course, you will end up spending some money on energy expenses (washer and dryer), but to me, napkins do not take up much room in the washer and I am always washing a load of towels anyway. In the long run, I don't figure it costs much for upkeep when I toss the dirty napkins in the wash.

Congratulations, you made it yourself and you will save enough money this year to support your coffee addiction!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Healthy Eating (Part 1)

Being a new year, I figure a lot of people are making resolutions to eat better. Around my house, we try to eat very healthy. Of course I still love M&M's, but for the most part, we eat healthy by both choice and necessity. As I had written in an earlier post, we eat as naturally as possibly to help combat diabetes and it's complications.

I could not even begin to break the surface when it comes to sharing the information that I have learned over the past two years as far as healthy living and eating go. Saying this, I will let you all in on a few sources of information that I have found and use almost every day. But that will come later (in bits and pieces- I have to have something to write about every once and awhile).

The main thing that people need to realize is that our American diet and the diet of many developed countries all over the world tend to consist of foods that are full of artificial additives in the form of preservatives, flavor enhancers, and dyes/colors. These additives allow companies to keep food "fresh" (so to speak) , delicious, and eye appealing. Time is essential for food distributors. They need to get the food out and "help" that food stay fresh as long as possible before it is consumed by consumers. The "help" I am speaking of, often comes in the form of preservatives (ie: BHA (Butylated hydroxyanisole), BHT(butylated hydrozyttoluene), Sodium Benzoate, etc) and the flavor enhancer that rattles my bones; MSG (Monosodium Glutamate). Those long names sure do make food sound tasty, huh? Look it up. Some are listed as carcinogens in the state of California. That means they can cause cancer, people! Did you know that most boxed cereals on the supermarket shelf contain both or at least one of BHT and BHA in it's ingredients list? So, what are kids eating for breakfast before they go to school and getting in trouble for being hyperactive? Something to think about......

Welcome to part 1 of our adventure!

How did I become aware of the fact that our food has a lot of artificial chemicals you may ask? First off, I have had a few lactose intolerant children under my belt. There are many years I spent trying to find some sort of dairy product that my children could consume without having adverse effects (diarrhea, hives, cramps, etc). This made me wonder something. I got to thinking about my grand parents and great grand parents. None of them were known for having trouble consuming dairy products. Why is it happening now to my kids? In the back of my mind, I wondered if milk, fresh from the cow, made a difference in the area of defeating lactose intolerance. At that point, I couldn't do anything about it as I didn't know anyone that had a cow to test my theory, so I was helpless. As I said, I used a variety of products: rice milk, pasteurized goats milk, and finally the Lactaid brand of milk at the supermarket. Once Lactaid milk became a staple at my house, my youngest little one increasingly became unable to tolerate milk in any form or fashion. What was a mother to do then? Then one day, I ran across a post in my favorite message board that mentioned Hummmm, there are people selling raw milk? I had to check this out. I took my trip to and guess what I found out. There was a farmer selling raw milk not 10 minutes from my doorstep, at that time. I made the call and was immediately educated in the wonderful health benefits of raw milk. I was skeptical as society teaches us that unpasteurized milk can kill you. I guess that it could if it wasn't handled properly, but, the state was monitoring this farmers milk business. I took a leap of faith- especially with my child's health.

To make a long story short, the farmer told me of how one woman was put in remission from cancer by drinking the colostrum of one of his cows, how a man was cured of fibromialgia because of his cows, and how droves of people came everyday to purchase this miracle "white gold". We bought that first jug and were scared of it. After all, you had to shake it up before you used it or thick globs of cream fell out into your cup. (Later, I figured out that this glorious glob could be turned into homemade butter- but that is another story). Time went by and guess what, we learned not to be scared of raw milk- especially since we could watch it come out of the freshly cleaned cow's utters, and most importantly, my little child could now tolerate milk. It was a miracle in my eyes. Why, you say, was my child able to consume raw milk without any problems? Well, I still don't know the technical answer to that question but I can say that raw milk is rich in naturally occurring microbes (or bacteria) that break down the lactose in the milk. Pasteurized milk products have killed the naturally occurring microbes that do this. Human bodies have to do it themselves without the bacteria's help. Some people's bodies can't break down milk sugar. So what does that tell us? Raw milk has goodies in it that help break down the raw milk- pasteurized milk does not. In my opinion, this could be the reason for increased lactose sensitivity now a days. ................something to think about huh?..............

Take a visit to Real and read up. Go to the Weston Price Foundation site. Read the cookbook by Sally Fallon called Nourishing Traditions. These are all sources that are very eye opening. Raw milk is illegal to buy in some states in America but hopefully things will change. I am fortunate enough to live in a state where I can buy it. Yes, it does cost more than traditional supermarket milk but it is worth it to me. As a side benefit of raw milk, we have found that raw milk helps in weight loss and also is good for helping keep blood sugar in check. It is a win, win situation for us as a family.

Now that we drink raw milk, I look at supermarket milk differently. It kinda isn't "milk" to me. It has been cooked and had a whole bunch of "stuff" added to it. No, I don't think people that drink supermarket milk are weird. I just know that raw milk works for my family. Read up on it. You just might be surprised at what you find out.

Happy New Year!

I just wanted to drop in and tell everyone that it is my sincere hope that this coming year is one of peace and prosperity for all.

And on the silly side, did anyone get any sleep last night? We are not party animals around here so we went to bed before midnight. The cannons and fireworks going off until 3 am had other ideas when it came to letting people sleep though!

I've always heard that what you do on New Years Day will be what you do all year. If that is true, I will be mopping my floor, steam cleaning the carpet, washing clothes, and listing things on Etsy all year. The first three things on that list are a bummer. I tried, I honestly tried to get those things done yesterday but things just didn't work out. Oh well. I guess I will have some seriously clean floors all year. (Who am I kidding?) Based on that old tale, what are you doing today that you will find yourself doing all year?

Enjoy your holiday!