Monday, December 12, 2011
5 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
3 tsp powdered ginger
1 cup solid white vegetable shortening (such as Crisco)
1 cup unsulphured molasses (such as Grandma's)
Melt shortening in saucepan. Add sugar and molasses and mix well. Make sure the sugar is fully dissolved. Sift all the flour, baking soda, nutmeg, salt, and ginger together in a mixing bowl. Add shortening
mixture to dry ingredients. Mix well. Add a little water if mixture is too dry. After it's thoroughly mixed, divide the dough into two equal parts and shape each part into a ball. Put each ball onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
Roll each dough ball out to 1/4" thickness and cut each house piece with form, removing excess dough. (A damp towel under the cookie sheet will keep it from sliding while you are rolling out the dough).
Bake on these cookie sheets in preheated 375 F oven for 15 minutes or until lightly brown. Let stand on cookie sheets until completely cooled.
Just a few candies, purchased in bulk, and royal icing will make everyone happy!
1lb powdered sugar (about 4 cups)
3 Tablespoons meringue powder
6 Tablespoons water
Place all ingredients in mixer bowl. Mix on low for 10 minutes, until icing has lost its sheen. You can also make royal icing using egg whites, but the experts say that you shouldn't eat it because of the raw eggs.
For the houses this year, I cut out 6 squares: 2 3"x3", 2 2.5"x3", and 2 3.5"x3". Have fun!
Sunday, December 11, 2011
We decided to try Cricket, since there were offering a free Android phone with sign-up. It had all the features we wanted, but the call quality turned out to be terrible, and the phone was driving him crazy. He couldn't type anything correctly - all the letters were mixed up!
Then I heard about RawData. I was very skeptical at first. I first saw it on an add on KSL. Could you really get a SmartPhone for only $40 a month? At that point there wasn't much on the web about this company - a Facebook page, and a survey (but only if you had a link - I couldn't find it through a google search). Now, they have a better web site: http://www.therawdata.com/ The idea is that, in exchange for greatly discounted phone service, they put a program on the phone that collects data about your reactions toTV and radio ads. They also occasionally send text messages to gather more data. The phone coverage is through Sprint, and is unlimited.
My husband has loved his phone (we paid a little more to get a Nexus S). It gets reception almost anywhere. The phone responds well to his typing (many fewer typos). He's been able to use it to patch an internet connection for his laptop when he really needs it. The text messages aren't too many, and sometimes it's even amusing.
I understand that RawData is now taking "Panelists" across the country. If you decide to check it out, let me know - they're also giving a referral fee, which I would love to have!
Thursday, December 8, 2011
First, I had the kids shred their old broken crayons using crayon sharpeners (pencil sharpeners are generally too small for crayons). They put the sharpenings on wax paper, in a thin layer. Then I put another layer of wax paper over top and ironed them until the sharpenings melted and ran together. (Be sure to put an old rag underneath the wax paper and another over top of it so that if any crayon gets out, it won't get on your iron or ironing boards.)
Then the kids used cookie cutters to trace Christmas shapes on the wax paper (markers work best for writing on it), and cut them out.
Joseph did find that you can use a pen to score white lines on the paper, unfortunately, it tends to make the layers of paper and crayon separate from each other, too.
Even Michelle made a couple - she didn't get the sharpener bit, but it still looked good just with stripes of crayon that she had drawn on (the wax paper will stick to itself when you iron it, so don't worry about having holes in the layer of crayon).
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Monday, December 5, 2011
Thursday, the entire area was hit with a tornado-level wind storm. Billions of dollars of damage was done, and 50,000 homes lost power. We were lucky enough not to be one of the areas where the schools lost power in the morning and sent all of the kids home! But, by 3:00pm, we were out of power, too!
It was rather nice to realize that we aren't too tied to the electrical line. The first sign that something was wrong was when the wireless internet quit working. My husband simply switched to using his phone to connect to the net, and assumed that our router had gone on the flake again. He asked me about it eventually, and I gave him instructions for re-setting the router. Then I went to the bathroom. When the light switch didn't function, my mental light bulb went on! We were out of power!
I had to switch the planned Christmas craft (we were supposed to do one the required an iron). The kids and I enjoyed that, until the sun started going down and I realized that I was going to have to get creative with dinner!
We pulled out the Coleman stove, set it up outside, grabbed a bunch of bottled goods, and made taco soup. I didn't have to open the fridge. Then we set the table for dinner by candlelight (electric tea light, to be exact:))!
I was grateful that we are accustomed to going camping. I was grateful that my children are accustomed to occasionally eating in the dark. We were grateful for a laptop with a great battery, and a SmartPhone, so that my husband was able to continue working un-interrupted. I was also very grateful that the power came back on before bed. I wasn't looking forward to figuring out how to keep everyone warm (especially the new baby) during the night! But we would have done just fine!
Monday, November 14, 2011
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Friday, November 4, 2011
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
This is more for next year, but I'm pretty proud of our family costumes, so I thought I'd post some pictures.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
The kids and I were enjoying a leisurely fall walk the other day. We got to an intersection.
Okay, when the red hand turns into a green man walking, Evan, you hold my hand so we can cross the street together, and Claire, hold the stroller so we can be safe.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Tis the season to be grateful. Actually any time is a great time to be grateful. I liked Carol's post about remembering to be grateful. This picture is of just one of my many blessings. This week has been full of challenges, blessings, and growth.
On a frugal note, it is fabulous if you happen to have a friend who is a professional photographer (see Ashley Zufelt Photography on facebook).
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Grandma was coming in to town and we wanted to make her feel special, so I asked the kids if they wanted to pick some flowers for her. I had noticed some gorgeous ones growing wild on a bike ride, so we hiked back to the spot and made her an "Ohio" bouquet. I was a little jealous when I saw how great it made her room look. So a couple of days later at the park I saw some even prettier ones growing wild, and they came home to brighten up the kitchen table. I could get in to fresh flowers around the house one day - but until we can afford them, we'll take nature's bounty.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Friday, October 7, 2011
Thursday, October 6, 2011
an adorable bubble car that makes walks to the park with three kids more manageable
free family entertainment exposing my kids to all sorts of new adventures - yes Claire even kissed it
and customer appreciation days at local farmer's markets with free slushies and balloons for kids and free roasted homegrown corn for adults
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
|photo from AllRecipes.com|
I LOVE foaming soap. I have three small children who love to wash their hands, and the foaming soap leaves a lot smaller mess around the sink, as well as being easier for them to rinse off their hands. I think in the long run, we even use less soap with the foaming variety...
Monday, October 3, 2011
Vegetarian Baked Potato Soup
Servings 8 Prep. time (min) 20 Cooking time (min) 60
4 potatoes, large
2/3 cup butter, divided
2 cups white beans, pureed in blender with water
6 cups milk
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
2/3 cup flour
4 green onions, chopped
8 oz. sour cream
Bake potatoes at 400 degrees for one hour. Cut in half lengthwise, scoop out and reserve pulp. Melt butter over low heat; add flour, stirring until smooth. Cook, stirring constantly, one minute. Gradually add milk, cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened and bubbly. Stir in potatoes, salt, pepper, one cup cheese, white bean puree, and 2 T. green onions. Cook until heated (do not boil). Stir in sour cream. Cook until just heated (do not boil). Serve with remaning cheese and green onions. Yield: 2 1/2 quarts
Inserted from <http://192.168.0.5:8080/ShowRecipe.html?IDRec=12>
Of course you can make this soup "unvegetarian" by putting in a cup of chopped ham and garnishing with two slices of bacon cooked and torn into pieces. But I don't even know if it needs that anymore.
Just a note on using beans in cooking. I find it easiest to take one day as "bean cooking day" and do three separate pots with white beans in one, black beans in another, and pinto beans in the third. You have to think ahead and put the beans to soak the night before or do the quick soak where you get them to a boil and let them sit for an hour before actually cooking them. Then I put them in one or two cup portions and freeze them. The white beans are handy to puree and hide in foods like soups, alfredos, and other saucy white things. The black beans are good in most all Mexican dishes, and the pinto beans can be turned into refried beans.
Saturday, October 1, 2011
We have been wanting a playground set for our backyard for over a year. The problem: we wanted a nicer wood or large metal set, but didn't have the $500+ to get even a basic set. Over the years we've put up a couple wooden ones for various family and friends, so we're familiar with the time involved.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Since Bonnie posted on her amazing birthday present, I decided to post on mine. My husband had a birthday last week, and he had mentioned the need for a new razor, although he said he didn't want to waste a birthday present on it. Then that week I saw on a local deal blog, www.moneysavingmom.com that I could print some coupons for razors and they would be free or cheap at Wal-mart.
So that morning I printed out the coupons and while the oldest was at preschool co-op the boys and I jogged to Wal-mart and got the razors. Wal-mart is not my first pick to shop (there is a Meijer, Target, Wal-mart, and 3 other grocery stores within jogging distance of my house), but their coupon policy comes in handy sometimes. If the value of the coupon is greater than the price of the product, they will subtract the extra from your total purchase price. So since some of the coupons exceeded the value of the product, I got $1 back for buying those razors, which I put towards the price of the other razors, to get the whole lot of them for free or nearly free.
You'll notice there are women's razors as well as men's - I gave them all to my husband as a "look, I won't be stealing yours anymore, I have my own now" and then the disposable ones I'll probably donate to a shelter.
The kids helped me wrap them up and when my husband questioned the oldest about his birthday present, she said it had something to do with "shaving his legs". Nice!
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
When buying produce in 5 pound bags or 3 pound bags, weigh two or three bags and pick the heaviest.
Today I bought a 5 pound bag of apples that actually weighed 5.75 pounds! Of course you may only find a bag that is 5 1/3 pounds but that's still more than 5 pounds. I haven't yet found a bag that is less than the marked weight.
Let's do the math.
- 5 pounds of apples hand selected (additional time)
- total cost $6.85
- 5 pound bag of apples
- $5.47 total cost
- actually 5 3/4 pounds
- and faster too!
- Savings $1.38
- plus the extra 3/4 pounds
- plus the shorter time in the store (time is money!)
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
For those of you interested in learning to make tamales, I used this website for my recipe and step-by-step guide: http://www.sonofthesouth.net/tamales/Tamale_Recipe.htm The detailed explanations and pictures really boosted my confidence the first time around, and putting spices in the masa dough really increases the flavor of the tamales (which are sometimes rather bland without).
Monday, September 26, 2011
I always buy my wheat from the Home Storage Centers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormons. You don't have to be Mormon to buy wheat there. The Home Storage Centers are run by volunteers so you do need to call ahead and see when the center will be open before going.
Home Storage Centers are all over the United States and Canada. Here is a map of the different locations.
- Locate the Home Storage Center closest to you.
- Then call the friendly people at the number listed.
- Let them know that you would like to come buy a 25 pound bag of wheat.
- Ask when they are open.
- If they ask what ward you are in, tell them you are not Mormon but would like to buy some wheat.
The current price for 25 pounds or hard white wheat or hard red wheat is $11.45. Look on the order form on the right hand side under the bulk column to see the prices.
And if you need more info on packaging and storing wheat for long-term use providentliving.org has lots of information.
Saturday, September 24, 2011
- First, mix up a white cake mix.
- Second, separate it into smaller bowls and use food color to color the batter in each bowl. We used red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple.
- Third, put cupcake liners in the pan and let the kids spoon in whatever colors they want! Just make sure you stop them when it gets 2/3 full.
- Fourth, bake them!
The kids loved it, it was easy, and it was way cheap! One note though, it only made 16 cupcakes instead of the usual 24. So go have fun; don't wait for a birthday!
By the way, my daughter's most played with present so far: the two frogs her cousin brought over.
Friday, September 23, 2011
When I got home from the school run I decided to open some windows to cool the house (for free) before we get back up to 90 degrees later today. I even left the front door open for a few minutes while helping a kiddo ride his bike.
Mr. Birdy liked the open door policy and paid us a visit. I managed to escort him out without any harm. Maybe I'll change my open door policy a little :)
- we each had/will have a baby in 2011 (no we didn't coordinate that)
- we each play a musical instrument (or two)
- we live in Texas, Utah, Ohio, and Tennessee
- we each have at least a bachelor's degree
- we choose to be frugal so that we can stay home with our children