Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Busy Busy Busy!!

I know I haven't posted lately. So much to catch up on. We've been really really busy. Today we've been painting. I managed to get my husband to take a week off so we're painting our dining room, and he'll be putting up crown and chair moulding tomorrow. We decided to try Home Depot's greener "Fresh Aire" paint. We got it in Pinecone Hill, and I absolutely love the color. The cans were a little more expensive then regular paint at about 35 dollars a can. We had to get two for this project so it was a splurge at 70 bucks for paint. The paint didn't go as far as I expected it to, as in, I needed more then I thought for the space, but we had enough.

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Here is a before shot of our plain old room. It used to be a catch all and was always an eyesore. We took everything out, and now we're going to organize some of this stuff downstairs.


Here are a few after pics just to show you today's work. Tomorrow hubby will be putting up the moulding, so I'll be posting a bit of that too. More soon!

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Food finds

So, today was the first time I actually broke down and cried over money. I've watched our savings fall for the last three months, and thankfully we'll be getting a nice tax return that will keep us afloat for the next few months. Today, our entire mortgage payment used the overdraft protection. We were two months away from completely sinking. Our family still has one more nest egg, but we're house poor. We can't refinance because I don't work anymore, and we probably wouldn't be approved for the loan we have. I had been freelancing for a while after I quit, and we were just fine, until my mother was diagnosed with cancer, and couldn't babysit while I worked. I thought we'd continue to be fine, but I didn't realize how much I really made while freelancing.

So, I went to the store today, looking for more food solutions. Hubby and I decided that food would now only be purchased with cash. Credit card would be for gasoline only. Our budget for food for our family of four is $100 a week. One solution I found this week was our pizza friday. Long ago back when money was easy, we used to order pizza/or chinese on fridays. Almost every weekend, silly I know. Then we knew we had to cut back on take outs, so we would buy frozen pizzas, or walmarts pizza. Was a good move, because it took $30 friday night dinners to $10 dollars to make it ourselves at home. But now that our budget is 100% a week, I can't think that one dinner can be 10% of our budget. So I stumbled on something that will help.

While looking for a premade pizza crust to try to make our own pizza, I found a box of Jiffy pizza crust mix. My jaw hit the floor, I have had their muffin mixes in a pinch, but I had never seen the pizza crust. It was only 48 cents. What a tremendous savings. So now I was on a mission, I had to get cheese, which was a splurge at $2.50 for two cups of shredded mozzerella. I don't know yet if that will last for two pizzas or not, I'll be sure to share.

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For pizza sauce, you can buy little cans of tomato paste, even organic for less then a dollar. This little can was 69 cents, and the jar of organic speghetti sauce is about $2.50 if you are choosy, and I think it would make great pizza sauce. That jar would go quite a ways.

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So all in all, the pizza crust being .49 cents, paste .69, cheese 1.75 comes to 3.69 for a family pizza dinner. Being a vegetarian I would probably toss some vegetables that I have laying around the house to make it interesting, but what a difference in price. Maybe we'll be ok after all.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Garden update

So being in the mid-atlantic, there are just a select few things I have growing in my garden at the moment. Two weekends ago, I put in some sugar snap peas, and to my delight, they've popped up. They're climbers, so I've got some metal fencing for them to climb up.

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Also, there's some onions I've put in, they're the last thing that you can actually see, because I got bulbs and I just stuck them in the ground. I put in some kale, cauliflower, carrots, and romaine lettuce this week. So hopefully we'll see some cool early season veggies popping up soon.

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I went to my grandmother's today, she's a fiesty 89 year old lady who used to be a canning queen and garden guru. She hasn't gardened in many years, but I've been asking her for some advice lately on how to do things and where to get started. She gave me some of her old mason jars today (talk about going green!), and she even had some of the stuff she had jarred. Below is a can of green beans from 1982. Yes people...1982. They will be dumped very soon and cleaned up for me to do my own canning. They might still be good, but I have issues eating 27 year old beans. Really.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Vegetarian Barbeque

Part of my being green is being a vegetarian. There are multiple reasons why I have omitted meat from my diet, but I won't go into them all for now. Green Surfers really summed up many of my reasons so if you have time, take a look.

Having been invited this weekend to a barbeque, I looked up some recipes that I'll be passing along. I can't expect my hosts to always have adequate food for my picky diet, and I think well made vegetarian food may gently influence the food choices of my friends.

So, here's some things I plan on trying this weekend. I'll be sure to let you know how they turn out.

First, I found this mushroom veggie burger recipe. I plan on cooking my own pinto beans like I did last week to add to chopped up mushrooms. I'll precook these, shape them into patties and then toss them in a plastic container to bring with. I even get to dip into my frozen parsley that I froze a few weeks back. Yay!

I also found this cole-slaw recipe that looks divine. I always end up putting my twist to things, so if I change any of these recipes I"ll be sure to let you know. If your not vegetarian, I challenge you to try it for a day. My kids are not vegetarians, but they only eat meat once or twice a week. It's not that hard, and the health benefits are amazing. ;)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sweet Corn Bread

Quick post today. Here's my yummy recipe for sweet corn bread. It's a hit with my kids, and it gets in those veggies.

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (all purpose would work too)
  • 1 cup yellow corn meal
  • 3/4 cup sugar (or less to taste)
  • 1/4 cup frozen corn
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • squish of honey

    Preheat oven to 350. Lightly spray a 9 inch cooking pan. Combine all ingredients and cook for 30 minutes. For a softer bread, soak the cornmeal in the milk/oil for 10 minutes before adding the rest of the ingredients.

    Serve warm with butter, and it reheats wonderfully in the microwave. Enjoy!!

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  • Monday, March 16, 2009

    Cheap Dinner

    So I talked beans last week and how cheap they are. I also had posted a slow-cooker recipe for refried beans because cans are scarey. These beans were better then any I have had in a can, and probably cost less then a dollar to make. One onion, 2 cloves of garlic and only one cup of dried beans was enough to feed my husband and I twice.


    We made wet burritos that were inspired by the happy housewife who's blog I LOVE. I didn't have any enchilada sauce, so I improvised with mexican rice mix, and made the sauce and just poured it over and baked it.

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    We reheated the rest of the beans tonight over tortilla chips, and the beans were even better. I can't recommend this recipe enough. It fed us twice in two days, and was insanely cheap, and healthy. More later, try this if your in a pinch. It was really easy. ;)

    Friday, March 13, 2009

    Are canned goods dangerous?

    About 6 months ago, I had a conversation with a like minded mommy that got me thinking about how I fed my children. She explained she saw some research that said there were often dangerous levels of BPA found in any and all canned goods. BPA is often found in plastic, which is lined between the can and the food/liquid inside.

    In 2007, research found that 1 out of every 3 (33%) cans of baby formula contained dangerous levels of BPA. You can read more on that here. You can also find more useful information here. Laboratory studies have shown that exposure to BPA can cause neural and behavioral changes, precancerous growths in breast and prostate tissues (aren't we having quite an epidemic of health issues in this area?!) and early onset of puberty. It crosses the placenta and can often be found in ubilical cord tissue, and amniotic fluid.

    The National Institute of Enviornmental Health Sciences has some concern over the issue. Please read up on their political BS...please.

    The last link I will provide for you is from U.S.News. Apparentely we missed the boat, because this artical is almost a year old. However, I'm sure you all remember the big deal that has been made about BPA in baby bottles, and sippy cups. No one ever mentions that its in our canned food too. Read up, and for your own health, eat fresh, or can for yourself.

    Tuesday, March 10, 2009

    Project updates

    So this week, my goal is to hang up close line outside so I can hang dry some stuff out there. My husband is tired of me taking over the bathroom draping laundry everywhere.

    So today, I head over to lowes, and for only $8 and change I bought a clothes line and some hooks. The plan is to have the line either going from our deck to our fence, or from a tree to our fence. I'm hesitant to drill a hole into the tree because I dont' want to injure it.

    Lowes had an umbrella clothes line. Could you believe it was $200?! I found a website I wish I had found earlier. It's the Clothesline Shop. They also have other clotheslines but for much much less. The website isn't fancy, but the inventory is impressive, and the prices seem reasonable.

    Anyway, hopefully we'll get the line up this weekend, and it will work alright.

    Monday, March 9, 2009

    Happy Homemaker Monday

    Happy Homemaker Monday

    On my bedside table:
    A light, my knitting, and a vase of dried lavender.

    On my TV:
    Dust! No really, American Idol, and whatever else the kids want to watch.

    On the menu for tonight:
    Leftover speghetti

    On my To Do List:
    Put away laundry, get my tomato seeds going.

    New Recipe I tried last week:
    Cauliflower Curry Soup...it was alright.

    In the craft basket:
    Scarf for my sister-in-law

    Looking forward to:
    My husband actually taking sometime off.

    Homemaking Tip for this week:
    Hang your clothes to dry! Saves energy and your mind...more on laundry with a green twist later.

    Favorite Blog Post of the week (mine or other):
    Probably Lauren's...I should link, but I have to find it first.

    Favorite photo from last week:

    Lesson learned the past few days:
    When it rains, it pours.

    On my Prayer List:
    My mother

    Devotionals, Scripture Reading, Key Verses:

    Love is the foundation of a happy life. Knowingly or unknowingly we are forgetting this truth, she says. Amma, on several occasions, has said that it is important not only to feel love but also to express it. After all, love is our true nature. When we do not express love in our words and actions it is like honey hidden in a rock. She says, it is of no use to anyone. This mutual sharing and expressing of love should begin at home between sacred partnerships and parents and children. Only then will there be peace and harmony at home in our communities and in society. -- Amma

    Sunday, March 8, 2009

    Reducing Energy Use

    I recieved a flyer today while at church that I feel I should pass along. They recieved this information from Green America.

    Simple things you can do today to reduce your energy usage.

    Level 1

    1. Turn off lights you are not using (duh! Even your mom told you that one!). 2% energy savings.

    2. Clean coils on refrigerator and freezer. 4% energy savings

    3. Don't heat or cool empty rooms.

    4. Choose air-dry on your dishwasher. 5% savings

    5. Turn off electronics when not in use, like tv's, computers, etc. 5% energy savings

    6. Unplug appliances that are not in use.

    7. Wash clothes in cold water. 7% savings

    8. Hang clothes on dryer rack or clothesline. 10% energy savings.

    All in all, this can reduce your energy savings by 1/3rr, and reduce your over all carbon footprint by 8960lbs.

    More soon!

    Friday, March 6, 2009

    Super Savings Saturday

    Being new at the blogging and coupon clipping, here's my beginners finds for the week.

    Recently I've started clipping coupons to take to the grocery store to stretch that dollar even more. Each Saturday, I hope to post a few websites that will give you some added savings. I plan only to post companies that are either organic or environmentally consious.

    Most company websites require you to register an e-mail address. I hate junkmail, so I've created an e-mail address just for this. That way my personal e-mail doesn't get sedated in junk.

    Some of these company's will let you print out a certain amount of their coupons to sample their items. Stoneyfield was the first I found, and they let you print three copies. Seventh Generation is also a well reputable company, and they frequently change the coupons they offer. Lastly, Kashi this week is offering to send coupons, earlier in the week apparently they were giving away free entrees. I'm too late for that, but just look here for the coupons.

    Preserving Parsley

    So today I'm cooking in the slow cooker and my recipe calls for two tbsp of fresh parsley. Having just started my newest parsely pot, I don't have any ready to snip to use yet. So, I got some at the grocery store, at a splurg of 1.39 for the organic variety, passing up the non-organic which was 99 cents. This by far is much better then buying the prepackaged frozen herbs by Dorot. I believe they run over 2.00 for their package (it could be as high as four), but I didn't bother to check.

    Before our finances hit the crunch these last few months, I would have used what I needed and probably tossed the rest once it molded in my refridgerator, but now since life is harder and we're on a budget, it makes sense for me to try to preserve what I'm not using for this recipe. Freezing is pretty simple, so I tried that first.

    Here's a step by step to freezing your parsely.

    1. Wash the bunch of parsley, and let it dry out on a towel.

    2. Cut the nicest looking leaves, tossing the sticks in the trash.

    3. Then I spread them out on a plate, so they can freeze individually. I place them in a freezer, and wait.

    4. Once they are frozen, stick them in an airtight container and use as needed. Easy easy.

    Now for drying, this is where it could get trickey. Parsley has lots of water in it, so it doesn't just dry out as some herbs do, and with it still being March and relatively cold, just laying it out in the sun probably wouldn't cut it. Some sources say to microwave parsely, others say since microwaves vary, you could burn or cook your herbs instead of drying them.

    The directions I used for microwaving paresley to dry can be found here: http://www.the-herb-guide.com/drying-parsley.html

    I had no success when it came to microwaving parsely. As a matter of fact, the stick caught fire in my microwave, and the leaves still were squishy with water. I do not recommend doing this AT ALL. In the book Preserving Summer's Bounty by Susan McClure, she also suggests staying away from microwaving. Instead she suggests that parsley either be dried in a dehydrater, or if you're like me and don't have one, dry it on a low heat in the oven. However, after the fire in my microwave, I"ll be sticking to freezing. ;)

    I've provided a link to McClure's book here. I will be trying out her canning suggestions in later posts. :)


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