Saturday, August 30, 2008

Reasonably Healthy Lunch Ideas

My middle daughter, Julia, was 13 last year. She decided that she would NOT carry a lunch box to her co-op. Now since she only went one (full) day a week, I didn't make too much of it. I'd send her some (healthy) peanut butter spread on crackers and a water bottle. Just making sure she had a big breakfast and supper on that day.

This year she is going 3 days a week. All day long. Something had to change. I talked with other mothers and we brainstormed a few things. All are more than agreeable to my middle (and now youngest as well) daughter.

First, there is no need for a lunch box. I pack a small cooler for them both together and put it in the co-op kitchen. Whenever they get hungry between classes, they can just go grab what they want from their personal "refridgerator". And they don't have to lug anything around.

And here is some of the ideas we've come up with to fill it. Bear in mind that the girls only have 15 minutes between each class, so the snacks have to be pretty small.

*Half sandwich (we call these "bendovers" cause you "bend" the bread "over")
(Preferably some type of minimally processed meat on a whole grain bread.)

*Big huge pickle (cut into spears cause the girls have braces now...I buy them in those huge glass jars that they have at Sams)

*Box of raisins

*String cheese

*Whole grain crackers (with or without non hydrogenated peanut butter)

*Fiber One Bars

*Non-sweetened applesauce cups

*Non-sweetened fruit cups



*Organic chocolate milk

*Bottled Water

~~~When the weather turns cooler I plan to put a thermos of something warm as well. Homemade soup or chili. Or even just some hot chocolate.

They do have a use of a microwave at the co-op but there time is so limited that I don't think they'd have time to use it. Especially if there were someone ahead of them. So that's why I've not included things that need to be warmed or heated.

I'd love to hear others ideas!


And The Winner Is...

I'd like to quickly thank you all SO MUCH for participating in my 2 year blogoversary give-a-way. You all made this so fun and really memorable event for me. So thank you.

Unfortunately there could only be one winner. But I do encourage all of you to consider RS Designs when you need a blog makeover. I just can't say enough about their work. And their customer service is top of the line. Thank you Revka. :)

And the winner, chosen by a random number generator, is...

Jana Kelley!

I will be emailing Jana shortly. Should she not respond in 3 days, another winner will be announced.

Thanks again for all the fun. And congratulations Jana!


Monday, August 25, 2008

Breaking News!


Today, on my sweet, precious middle daughter's 14th birthday, I finally got a second wind on my walk/jog.

And I jogged 3/4 mile.


Now back to your regularly scheduled program. :)


Monday, August 18, 2008

Menu-Plan-Monday w/Give-A-Way!

Well, it looks like it will be yet another week of simple foods. And not much home time. A dearly beloved Great Uncle went home to the Lord Saturday night. He had been sick for several months so it was not a shock, but still so very sad. He leaves behind a wife of over 60 years. My mind won't wrap around being with someone for that length of time and then them just suddenly being gone.

We also have several things that we must get done for back to school. And many of the fall activities are starting back up now too. So it would have been a busy week anyway. The loss just adds another element to it.

Monday - Crockpot beef brisket (didn't get to it last week) with vegetables

Tuesday - Will be out at family events

Wednesday - Leftover brisket sandwiches with sweet potato fries

Thursday - Quinoa and Black Beans, salad

Friday - Pizza night! Whole grain crust and as much vegetables as I can pile on top, with homemade pesto! The basil is still going crazy in the garden.

And if you're at all interested in a new, fabulous blog design, don't forget to check out the contest I'm running!

For more menu ideas, be sure to check out Laura's Blog!


Friday, August 15, 2008

Frugal Friday Give-A-Way!

Contest is now over. Winner will be picked and announced soon! Stay tuned. And good luck!

Tell me, what is more frugal than something free?!

I'm so happy to announce a very special give-a-way right here on my little blog.

In celebration of my 2 year blogoversary, Revka of RS Designs has very generously offered to give away a $60 credit toward any of her custom websites or blog designs. That means that if your choice is under $60, it's absolutely FREE! Anything over $60 you simply pay the difference.

I first saw Revka's work during a blog carnival. I didn't win the carnival, but decided to contract with her for the blog design you see here. Revka is very professional. She somehow manages to take care of her family and do this incredible work on the side. She is timely, polite and very helpful to those of us that may not be too computer savy.

I've gotten so many compliments on the blog since Revka got ahold of it. And I'm just thrilled that I now get to participate in one of her give-a-ways!

There is even "free for the takin" (as we say in Tennessee) buttons and badges at her site! And look how pretty!

Proud Mommy Blogger

Proud Blogger

RS designs - custom designs at affordable prices
(Ohhh, I'm keeping this one!)

They even have free templates sometimes!

Red Tape:

To enter:

1. Just go to Revka's site and look around, come back here and tell me something you love in the comment section of this post. It's that easy.


2. Sign up for her newsletter on her website (and let me know in the comment section that you have done so). That way even if you don't win, you'll be kept up on other give-a-ways and discounts. It's a win/win!


3. Write your own post about this give-a-way and link back here to this post, letting me know in the comments that you've done so.

Do one of these things for one entry. Two for two entries. Or all 3 for 3 entries in this contest! Remember, you have to mention it in the comment of this post for it to "count" toward an entry. How else will I know you've done it?

Contest open to anyone with a blogging platform that allows you to customize your template yourself. Contest runs from blog posting time (ie- now!)on August 15, 2008 thru noon EST August 29, 2008.

Winner will be chosen at random by Saturday August 30 and notified by email (so please be sure to leave a valid email address or blog address that has your email listed). Winner has 3 days to respond to email after which a new winner will be selected.

Good luck to all of you!

For more frugal fun, be sure to check out!


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Running, Eating and Aging, Oh My!

I've been blogging here for a little over 2 years and I suppose over the course of time things just naturally change.

I don't feel old. Truly. But the harsh truth is...I'm not getting any younger. And I feel almost as if I'm at a crossroads in my life. It seems that people my age either start to really kick it up a notch as far as health and lifestyle are concerned, or they get old.

Yes, yes I realize that the years go by either way. But there is a difference in growing older and getting old. At least to me there is.

I want to be as healthy and active as possible for as long as possible.

So my husband and I started walking a couple of months ago. As a side note, I don't recommend STARTING a walking program in the middle of summer in the South. To say that it's hot, even late in the evening, is an understatement. To put it mildly. But we* started out strolling and pretty quickly picked it up to a fairly fast walk. An 18 minute mile is a fast walk, right? Don't laugh.

We go 1½ - 2 miles total. Now we're* up to running a third of it. Any google search turns up many "Couch to 5K in 8-9 weeks" programs online. I'm taking it a little slower. But I do plan to do it eventually. And truthfully, I'm proud of what I've accomplished.

The thing is, I ran in high school. So I FEEL like a runner. But I just not anymore. I hope to be again. But right now, no.

But we* are trying. And that's a step in the right direction. Pun intended.

We're still eating the green smoothies almost every day. I just don't think there is any argument about the nutrition in them. The other foods that we eat are pretty simple. But the goal is to try to make each bit as nutrient dense as possible. We fair at this sometimes. But it's a journey. And one that I feel blessed to be undertaking.

*Please note that when I say "we" or "we're" I'm talking about me. My husband can run circles around me. But it feels better to say "we".


Monday, August 11, 2008

Menu Plan Monday w/give-a-way teaser!

Just when I think I'm busy, life kicks into high gear and I know what "busy" means! We, like most others, are getting our back to school gear in order. With a high-schooler this has new significance for us homeschoolers. Or maybe just for me. :) Lots more organization and paperwork. And I really need to find time to get it all together this week. The sooner the better.

The garden is also coming in so I'm processing (and by that I mean cooking or freezing, I don't can) lots of delicious foods.

We're still working on eating very healthy, though we did kinda blow it last week as it was my BABY'S *11th* birthday. Unbelievable. So we had too much junk food and cookie cake and I know this week will be harder to settle back into with the nutritious foods.

We're also still walking/jogging. I will do a separate post about that. I think it deserves it's own spot.

OH! And I also want to encourage all of you to check back here this coming Friday (the 15th). I'm going to have a pretty sweet give-a-way in celebration of my 2 years of blogging here. I'm not going to say what it is, but I will tell you that it's something that many of you would LOVE to win.

With this flurry of excitement going on, the menu is going to be as simple as I can possibly make it.

Monday - Tilapia, big garden salad

Tuesday - Fish sandwiches on sprouted wheat bread. Sauteed sweet potatoes

Wednesday - Quinoa and Black Beans, salad

Thursday - Crockpot brisket with vegetables.

Friday - Pizza night! Whole grain crust and as much vegetables as I can pile on top, with homemade pesto! The basil is going crazy in the garden.

I hope to put up pictures of the pesto, but it's not my recipe. I found the one that we love the most on


I usually make at least a double batch. We eat it on everything.

For more menu ideas, be sure to check out Laura's Blog!


Monday, July 28, 2008


It has been so hot here. Not only hot, but the humidity! If anyone thinks the humidity doesn't matter, it's because you've not experienced it. Trust me. We've had afternoon thunderstorms almost daily for so long that I can't recall the last time I've had to water the garden. And then about the time we go out for our walk/jog, it's just so incredibly humid that it's like breathing through water! I come home and my hair looks like I've been in a rainstorm.

Speaking of walking/jogging, I got up to 2½ miles Saturday! Mine is mostly walking, but in my defense it's a really fast walk (and it was hot!). My husband is now jogging over a mile of it! The plan is to continue to pretty much walk (3-4 times a week) this week and possibly next. The week after that I'd like to start incorporating more jogging. I'm really pleased with it. It's such a tension reliever and a great bonding time with my sweet husband.

We had guests yesterday and at outside and made entirely too much meat. So now we've got lots of leftovers with which to work. I hope to begin to put up some prices with the menu's in the next several weeks.

Monday - Leftover pork chops with sauteed vegetables, big salad

Tuesday - White beans, cornbread and sliced onion (at the request of my husband)

Wednesday - Quinoa and Black Beans (didn't get to it last week), salad

Thursday - Leftover beans, mashed, in a whole grain wrap with cheese and fixins (lettuce, tomato, sour cream, etc)

Friday - Pizza night! Whole grain crust and as much vegetables as I can pile on top, with homemade pesto! The basil is going crazy in the garden.

For more menu ideas, be sure to check out Laura's Blog!


Monday, July 21, 2008


Well, the little get-together for my sister turned out really well. We had an additional 5 people at the last minute, but we somehow pulled it off with just enough food to not have any left to nibble on later! Which was a *good* thing.

I've found that it's super important for me to have good healthy foods here to eat, because when I get really hungry, if there is nothing else, I'll go for the junk. So I'm working on that this week.

We've also started to walk/jog. I hesitate to even mention this because I feel silly at my age/fitness level trying to start to be a runner. But it's something that I did years ago and something that I want to do again. We've been at it for a couple of weeks and we are doing 2 miles a night now. It takes a little over 40 minutes.

I hope to get my sidebar updated at some point, but it's been (as usual) busy here. Last week BOTH of my younger girls got braces. They put them on in "phases" at this particular orthodontist so we go back tomorrow for "phase 2". So the updating may take a little longer.

Anyway, on to the menu. Still no prices, though I'm working on it.

Monday - Leftover whole wheat homemade pizza, a big salad

Tuesday - Grilled chicken breast and sauteed vegetables over brown rice

Wednesday - Quinoa and Black Beans (didn't get to it last week), salad

Thursday - Youth Advisory Council Meeting and they always bring food. I have no idea.

Friday - Leftover chicken/vegetables in a whole-wheat wrap. Salad

For more menu ideas, be sure to check out Laura's Blog!


Monday, July 14, 2008


It has really been a long time since I've posted! I'm not sure where the time has gotten away to, but I hope to be back a little more regular. I've really missed it and missed you all. Thank you for your sweet comments and I hope to catch up with you all soon!

This has been a summer of change as far as food goes. It all started with the Green Smoothie. And it's really progressed from there. I always thought we did pretty good nutrition wise, but we're playing in a whole new ballpark right now. And I'm still learning so much.

My goal is to post some of the specific things I'm now doing differently, but the general idea is to limit all processed foods. Make each bite we eat as nutritionally dense as possible. The kicker is doing this with 3 daughters. Doing this and still having a varied, enjoyable menu. And doing this on a budget.

In the spirit of frugality, I hope to go back to adding prices to my menu soon. But I've not figured it very well with this new way of eating yet.

Having said all of that, today is my sisters birthday! I'm hosting the party and it's a very standard American diet (SAD) party. So here goes the menu for the week!

Monday - Typical Party Foods! Sausage/cheese dip, chips, pigs in a blanket, nuts, pickles, birthday petits fours and ice cream.

Tuesday - Back to the real world. Grilled chicken breast and sauteed vegetables.

Wednesday - Leftover chicken/vegetables in a whole-wheat wrap. Salad.

Thursday - Quinoa and Black Beans, salad

Friday - Homemade, whole wheat, pesto pizza. Salad.

For more menu ideas, be sure to check out Laura's Blog!


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Quinoa (Protein) "Cookies"

I *so* swiped this recipe from:

Green Smoothie Girl.

But as usual, I have some compulsive urge to change things around. So here's what I did.

I ground Quinoa in my BlendTec to get a cup of Quinoa flour.

Then, because I didn't have any ground, I ground some wheat in my BlendTec to get a cup of wheat flour. This is both the quinoa flour and the wheat flour in the bowl.

Then my battery in my camera died, so I didn't get to show the added:

1/2 cup coconut oil
T Baking Powder
t Vanilla
1 L Egg
1/4 cup Agava
1 cup Rolled Oats
1 t cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins

But I promise I added it. And my camera battery was just charged enough to make a picture of the mixed dough.

I charged the camera again while I was putting the cookies on the pan to bake. Just so I could get this picture for you.

And here is what they look like once they're baked. (I eyed the coconut oil instead of measuring it and think I added a little too much as they spread out more than normal, but it didn't seem to change the taste.)

And here is the PROOF that they are delicious. My P I C K Y redhead likes them. (Excuse the 80's hair and makeup, she just got back from a dress rehearsal for a play she's in tonight!)

These are something that I feel good about giving my family. If you try them, let me know!


Monday, May 19, 2008

BlendTec Question

Tisha left a comment asking if the BlendTec can grind peanuts to make homemade peanut butter. She said that she had seen a Vitamix demo at Sam's and was amazed that it could do that.

Let me start off by saying that I've never used a VitaMix, but from everything I've read it seems to be a great machine. That being said, this is why I chose the BlendTec:

1. If I'm going to trust someones opinion on what foods I put into my body, I'm certainly going to trust them on something less important like which blender to purchase. This is what Green Smoothie Girl has to say about Vitamix v's Blendtec.

2. It has a larger motor. 3 horse power. That's ridiculous.

And yes Tisha, it WILL make fresh peanut butter. And honey nut butter. And honey butter. And maple nut butter. And maple butter. And strawberry butter. And homemade (healthier) mayonnaise. And BUTTER (from cream).

And all of these recipes came with my blender in a big colorful recipe book.

And while I've not tried it, I've heard that you can also make almond and/or cashew, and/or pecan butters.

It also has a section on milk substitutes with recipes. Nut milks. Oat Milk. Seed Milk. Wheat Milk. Rice Milk. Etc.

Many smoothie recipes (though none like the green smoothie that I've found so far). Even iced cappuccino recipes!

It also makes bread dough (even from wheat berries). It has a whole section of soup recipes that look really, really good. Many, many sauce recipes. Salad dressing recipes.

I'll play with this thing for at least a year before I've scratched the surface of all that I want to try!


Green Smoothie, The Cost Breakdown

(Ok, I hadn't intended this to be a Frugal Friday post, but I'm just so excited about the cost savings that I just had to share!)

Every morning I make 2 pitchers of green smoothie. That's a GALLON of the stuff. Each day.

I got the idea from watching the Green Smoothie Girl video, though I don't use her exact recipe. Look her up on YouTube as well! She is amazing and inspirational. And I have bought her basic recipe collection and highly, HIGHLY recommend it. I will probably join have now joined her 12 Step Program as well.

To make my green smoothie, I use:

Baby organic spinach

Collard greens

Flax Oil





Frozen Fruit

Crushed Ice (from my refridgerator)


I do have to go shopping (at Sam's) at least once a week now, which I don't particularly enjoy. But it's really not out of the way for me as my girls have a co-op that is literally a mile or so from the store. If I had to drive farther, I'd have to factor in the cost of gasoline and at this point that would significantly add to the total.

At Sam's I can get:

Baby Organic Spinach, 1 ½ # - 4.78 (makes appr. 4 smoothies)

Collard Greens, 2# - 3.27 (appr. 8 smoothies)

Baby Organic Carrots, 5# - 5.44 (appr. 28 smoothies)

Fuji Apples, 5# - 6.48 (appr. 18 smoothies)

Banana, 3# - 1.32 (appr. 8 smoothies)

Frozen Mixed Berries, 3# - 7.68 (appr. 6 smoothies)
Frozen Mixed Fruit, 6# - 8.56 (appr. 12 smoothies)
Frozen Strawberries, 6# - 8.44 (appr. 12 smoothies)
Frozen Blueberries, 3# - 9.43 (appr. 6 smoothies)

The flax oil I buy is Barleans and it's $29.99 or less (on sale) locally and it lasts about a month.

The Stevia is $8.99 (or less on sale) locally and a box lasts about a month.


So now, how much does it cost to make each smoothie? (Prices rounded up)

Spinach - 1.20

Collard Greens - .41

Carrots - .19

Apples - .36

Banana - .17

The Frozen Fruit can be as little as .70 or as much as 1.57. With the average being 1.07

The flax oil is appr. .50 and the stevia is appr. .30

So that would make the *average* cost of a full half gallon of green smoothie to be:


But remember, I make 2 of these a day. So MY daily cost is $8.40. Or $252.00 a month.

This was very hard on my frugal mind at first. Even though I realize how important nutrition is, the total cost was hard to swallow. But for some reason, we didn't seem to be spending any more money a month. We actually seemed to be SAVING money and I didn't really understand at first. And then I realized a few things.

+ This is a meal (breakfast for me and my daughters, lunch for my husband) for 4 of us daily. This saves at least $6 a day. Or $180 a month

+ After much research, we no longer take a multi vitamin. We just don't feel like it's necessary with all of this great raw nutrition we're getting. So that saves $45.00 a month.

+ Coffee has lost much of it's importance to me. So instead of buying an expensive whole bean, I'm just getting some cheap grocery store coffee and drinking about half of what I was before. This is saving over $30.00 a month.

+ We're buying *MUCH* less meat a month. Much, much less. My husband is a HUGE meat eater and it's amazing how much less he's eating now. We're easily and conservatively eating less than half the meat we did before. This is not a deliberate thing. This is just what's happening. This is EASILY saving us $40 a month.

+ Our sugar cravings are gone. Really pretty much totally gone. So we're not making nearly as many sweets as we were before. Saving probably $15 a month.

So, if the cost a month for the smoothie is:


Minus the fact that it's a meal replacement brings the total to:


Minus the multi-vitamins:


Minus the coffee savings:

+ 3.00

Minus the meat savings:

+ 43.00

Minus the sugar cravings:

+ 58.00

So there you have it. By my making this smoothie, we're actually AHEAD by appr. $58 a month. I am absolutely not exaggerating this. If anything I'm being conservative.

As an example, I will frequently buy very ripe bananas for about .10# and freeze them, reducing the banana cost in the smoothie. Also, our fresh strawberries are coming in and that significantly decreases the cost of the smoothie right now. And the peach trees show great promise this year. Along with our blueberry bushes, grapes, blackberries, and apples for next year. Also carrots and spinach can be grown to further reduce the cost (we're trying carrots this year and I'm hopeful that my husband will put up a cold frame box for spinach this fall).

But having said all of this, I would do it even if it DID cost me an extra $252 a month. Because how do you put a price on health? And maybe more importantly, teaching your children healthy eating habits?

For more frugal inspiration, be sure to visit Crystal's Blog!


Green Smoothies, BlendTec, etc

Mrs. Gunning asked about the BlendTec Blender that is found on Green Smoothie Girl's Site in a comment and I thought I might answer it in a post in case others are interested as well.

I did buy the blender. I checked eBay and other sites high and low for specials but found that it's just a product that people don't seem to sell once they get one. It's always discouraging AND encouraging as I shop for a product to find that I can't purchase it used much more cheaply than I can new. It means that it's a good product. (And I'm going through the same thing now wanting an Excalibur food dehydrator. They cost as much used as they do new. Sometimes more!)

I ended up getting mine from Everything Kitchens. They were running an email special and I got it a *little* cheaper. The sale runs through May 31 if anyone is interested.

Mrs. Gunning also asked if I'd used it to grind wheat. I have not. I have a BlendTec wheat grinder and grind a lot of wheat at a time with that. However with a grain mill you can't grind oily grains. Like flax seed. So I have used it to gring my flax seed. And it works perfectly. It does seem to cloudy the carafe a little though, so keep it in mind if that bothers you. I've also used it to grind Quinoa. I found a recipe on Green Smoothie Girl for Quinoa cookies. They are not very sweet and they are high in protein and the whole family likes them. I've had no trouble at all grinding the Quinoa.

So I'm sure that the machine would grind wheat as well. Just bear in mind that you have to grind a smaller amount at a time than you can in a grain mill.

We've been drinking the green smoothies for a little over a month now. One of my husbands friends, who is all into health and nutrition, saw my husband drinking one and asked about it. He bought himself a blender and called up in a day or so saying that he feels like he's drinking "life". The stuff is pretty amazing. And surprisingly great tasting. I'm going to do a seperate post on the cost later today.


Friday, May 09, 2008

Michelle Duggar

The Duggar's are adding to their family.




Tuesday, May 06, 2008


I can remember when I was young I thought that when I became an adult I would know things. I didn't know how. I never really thought about how. Just that somehow when I reached adulthood that many of life's mysteries would somehow magically be revealed to me.


When that didn't happen, I set out to find answers. And when I'd formulated opinions I was ridiculous about defending them. I wasn't very tolerant of those that didn't share my belief's. Because, after all, I was now "grown up" and I was right. Right?

And then I came to a point in my life, not too awful many years ago, where I started to realize that I didn't have the inside scoop on all important things in my own life, much less on anyone else's life. That was a humbling time.

And through the years since that time, I've come to realize how very little I know. That the old saying about walking a mile in another's shoes before you judge has tremendous merit.

So now I try, and often fail, to love my neighbor as myself. No matter what their choices. I try to avoid being judgemental. I often fail at this too. I believe that loving our neighbor is one of the most important things we can learn here on earth. We're commanded to do it after all.

A lady recently approached me talking about various things in her life. Hardships. I was startled because I didn't know the woman at all. She certainly didn't fit into the surroundings. I stopped and listened to her, but my body language was terrible (I thought about it after the fact). She obviously had problems other than the ones she was talking about. And she picked me to share with. And I know that I wasn't nearly as embracing as I should have been. It was a safe area. My husband was close. There was no need to fear her. And yet I did. Because she was so different. And came at me so suddenly.

I talked to my husband on the way home about how Jesus would have acted with this woman. And I felt shame. While I was sweet to her, I certainly didn't do all that I could have done to touch her life.

These are the area's that I am trying to work on in my life. Loving my neighbor, especially the less-loveable ones.

And living in the past. But I'll save that for another day.

As a funny aside, when I started typing this post, I had every intention of talking about food and our dietary changes lately. And why I've not done a Menu Plan Monday. And the fact that we're having out of town company tomorrow for several days and how to feed them when we're eating so differently. That's why I called it "nourishment". I had absolutely no intention of speaking about these things that have been on my heart. But it's what I typed for some reason.

But there are other kinds of nourishment. So I think I'll keep the title.


Friday, May 02, 2008

Frugal Friday (Budget Busters)

I know I've not been around much. It's been a whirlwind of a week. Last Friday night we had an overnight GirlScout event at the mall. :) It's a really fun time, but I'm older and staying up all night is harder. And then Wednesday was the girls annual Science Fair. Lots of fun, but LOTS of work to get ready for that. Tonight the girls have another overnight youth function. So it's been get ready for one thing, barely recover, get ready for another thing.

Oh, and we're having out of town company next week for several days. :) Which I love. But it's work. Then an end of the year GirlScout dinner. And then the next week is finals for the girls. And we're planning a summer trip. And I've been working in the garden ever spare second. But I finally got it all in the ground.


I'm not specifically listing a frugal tip this week, I'm telling the things that seem to eat up all of my extra money. Or maybe better put, some of the reasons that I'm frugal in other areas. So that I can afford these things.

(I hope this is ok Crystal. If not, feel free to remove. :)

Tisha is the sweet lady who won my blog contest. And she has tagged me to list my five budget busters. So I thought, how fun! This can be part of Frugal Friday as well! (I'm all for multi-tasking you know. ;) Plus, I've got to admit...there are areas that I'm still working to find more frugal ways.

1. Green Smoothies. We can eat very, very cheaply if we eat a lot of processed food. But that is simply not acceptable to me at this point of my life. We have recently starting drinking Green Smoothies. And yes, I had to buy the blender (I tried it in my lovely KitchenAid blender and it started to have that burnt electric smell really quickly.) We've been doing this daily for over 2 weeks now and I *love* it so much. My husband is sleeping better and I've dropped 5lbs! My youngest asks for her smoothie every day (and my picky red head will even sometimes have some). The thing is, the ingredients aren't super cheap either. We are now buying 4.5-6 lbs of raw spinach, 4 lbs of collard greens and a huge bag of baby carrots (the kind you get at Sam's) ever week. But the most expensive part is the fruit. We have some fruit trees that we planted a couple of years ago that will hopefully help with some of that cost. And I think my sweet husband is relenting on a cold frame for some winter produce. This is my long winded way of saying that I'm trying to get the cost down (and have not even been able to really tell the true cost of it yet as it's so new). And I may post on this more as I get it all figured out. :)

2. My daughters activities. Since we homeschool, I feel a certain obligation to allow them too many a few outside activities. And they all seem to cost a bunch. Times two daughters.

3. My oldest dog. He's 13. And he has arthritis. So we buy some pretty expensive medication for him. I don't at all resent it. I think it's an obligation. And one that I will gladly cut corners in other areas to make happen. He limps pretty badly when he's off the medication. So it's simply not an option to not buy it.

4. My daughters co-op. Great, great education. But it's not cheap.

5. Gasoline. I drive very little. But good grief! A tank on average lasts me 10 days. But it's costing over $50 to fill up! I remember when we first got the vehicle that I now drive and I could not force $15 in gasoline into it. Which I suppose shows the age of my vehicle. :)

I'd love to see what the rest of you spend your money on. If you decide to do a Budget Buster post, please leave a link here so I can check it out!

For some frugal ideas (and I really feel like I need them more than ever now), be sure to visit Crystal's Blog!


Monday, April 28, 2008

Blog Carnival Winner $50 Visa Card!

I have got to start off with saying how very nice to have all the comments! You are the sweetest bunch of ladies! Almost everyone had something nice to say. It does the heart good.

I almost wish I hadn't asked what you'd buy though. It made me think of many, many things that I'd like to have as well! LOL

I wish I had 560 giftcards to give away. But I don't. I only have the one. Well, truth be told, I don't even have it in hand yet. But I will have it tomorrow. :)

And the winner is:


She said in her comment:

"I would use the money so my husband and I could go out on a date!! :) How fun, thanks for this great giveaway!"

I really hope you guys have fun on your night out if that's what you decide to do with the prize.

I've already emailed Tisha and if I don't hear back from her in the alloted time, I'll draw again. :)

Thank you all so much for participating. I will be visiting many of your blogs as time allows.


Monday, April 21, 2008

Want A $50 Visa Giftcard? Give-A-Way Over!

Giveaway over! No more comments allowed. Winner to be picked soon!

Bloggy Giveaways Quarterly Carnival Button

Time for another blog give-a-way! What a fun way to meet new and different bloggers and maybe win a little loot in the process!

Well, the loot at this site is gonna be...a $50 Visa Giftcard!

That's right. 50 smackeroos (in plastic form) to spend how you see fit. Mailed right to your door. Maybe you've been wanting a mixer? Or something from Amazon. Or how about some nice steaks at the grocery store? Hey, you can even buy gas with it!

Whatever you little heart desires.

To enter:

Leave a comment telling what you would like to buy with the giftcard between right-this-second-now and 4pm Saturday, April 26 when comments will be turned off. I know that's an odd time, but I promise I have my scheduling reasons. :)

Winner will be chosen with a random number generator and notified no later than Monday, April 28. If you don't say what you'd like to buy, your entry is void.

This contest is open to bloggers and non bloggers alike. But please make sure if you have a blog, to have an easy to find email link. And if you don't have a blog, you must leave a valid email address (how else will I get in touch with you when you win?).

You have 3 days to respond to the winning email notification, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

This contest is open to residents of the US only.

See how easy? Come on and comment!

Want to enter more contests? This would be the place to click!


Monday, April 14, 2008

Menu Plan Monday (with costs!)

Seriously. I can't believe it's Monday already again. Every year as we wrap up the school year it takes me by surprise. Which is totally silly I know. And all the activities! From science fairs to Girl Scout dinners to play productions. And much, much more. Our schedule is starting to look scary.

We're changing things up a little here in the food department. Reevaluating how we feel nutritionally about certain foods. To tell the truth, we've gotten into eating some foods (sometimes) that are just not so healthy. White rice. White potatoes. More sweets than I would like to have here. Bacon. You know.

So I imagine our food budget is going to go out kicking and screaming. I will, of course, do what I can to keep it low. But I do want what we use to fuel our bodies to be as nutritional as possible without breaking the bank.

I am excited that our peach trees have teeny peaches on them. And it looks like we may get some cherries too this year! We've also planted more things recently, but I'll save that for a garden update post.

I've been reading Green Smoothie Girl's site and have found tons of inspiration. Though we will most likely never be vegetarian (though we were for a while). It just doesn't seem to work well for us.


On to the menu. Prices are rounded to the nearest 25¢. The total price of food is counted on the day that it is cooked. Leftovers are counted as $0. On any day that no vegetable is mentioned there is a raw vegetable platter served and $2 is added to the menu cost for that day for the cost of the vegetables with dressing. There are always homemade rolls. They cost me less than 55¢ to make and last for several days.

(Yes, the price of bread flour has increased so much that it's made a significant price increase in my rolls. Still a great deal, but up from 35¢ last fall.)

(I also make a whole wheat bread that I will soon calculate the costs and give the recipe.)

What I'm working with this week:
TONS of fresh root vegetables (Sam's trip) and a ridiculous amount of both fresh and frozen fruit.

Monday - Steaks (my husband picked some up from the grocery store yesterday and they were not on sale, but they look fabulous), collard greens, carrots and ww bread. $29.50

Tuesday - Steak (leftover) fried quinoa. Think of it as a healthier fried rice dish? (This is an experiment. It may not work.) $4

Wednesday - Church moving party. We'll probably have to grab something out.

Thursday - Grilled thin sliced pork chops, creamed corn, salad $23.75

Friday - Pork chops (leftover) with sauteed root vegetables over quinoa. $6.25

Total for the work week - $63.50

For more menu inspiration, head over to Laura's Blog!


Monday, April 07, 2008

Menu Plan Monday (with costs!)

I finally got my freezers cleaned out (and the small one defrosted) last week. It was really past time. So now I at least know what I have and what I need. I also got the pantry dusted and straightened. It's amazing the little things that can make a difference. It really looks a lot better!

What (fresh) I'm working with this week:
Some leftover steak. We finally got to cookout again yesterday (in between church and our small group meeting) and we've got a little of the meat left. I also have cabbage and lots of eggs.

On to the menu. Prices are rounded to the nearest 25¢. The total price of food is counted on the day that it is cooked. Leftovers are counted as $0. On any day that no vegetable is mentioned there is a raw vegetable platter served and $2 is added to the menu cost for that day for the cost of the vegetables with dressing. There are always homemade rolls. They cost me less than 55¢ to make and last for several days.

(Yes, the price of bread flour has increased so much that it's made a significant price increase in my rolls. Still a great deal, but up from 35¢ last fall.)

(Also, this is the estimate of these individual meals. Not included is the cost of drinks (tea, milk, occasionally soda, ect), desserts (which we have way too often), snacks, or any other meal of the day. This price does NOT reflect my grocery totals for the week.)

Monday - Steak fried rice $1.50

Tuesday - Thin sliced pork chops (cooked on the grill), sauteed cabbage $10

Wednesday - Dinner at the church. I'll bring some vegetable dish. $6

Thursday - Sauteed chicken and vegetables on lettuce $11.75

Friday - Leftover sauteed chicken/vegetable burritos $2.50

Total for the work week - $31.75

For more menu inspiration, head over to Laura's Blog!


Friday, April 04, 2008

Frugal Friday Another Banana Tip

We don't really have issues here about wasting food. I like to think it's because my expectations have always been that it's disrespectful to waste, but the truth could just as easily be that we're all good eaters. We like food.

However there are exceptions. Like when the bananas at the market are HUGE and no one wants that much banana in his/her cereal. So we might try to get someone to share. And there were times that if no one would, we'd simply forgo the banana.

Well, no more.

We simply slice off as much of a banana as we'd like to eat. Right through the peel. This is what was left of this particular banana.

After a day or so this is what the end looks like.

To use the rest of the banana, we simply slice a very small sliver off.

And the rest of the banana is as beautiful and fresh tasting as ever!

For more frugal ideas be sure to check out Crystal's Blog!


Monday, March 31, 2008

Menu Plan Monday (with Costs!)

Oh the sugar!

Our local grocery store puts ripe bananas in 5lb bags for $1.49. I must have gotten there as soon as they did it last Thursday because the ones that were in there packaged up were just ready to eat and not at all over ripe. So I bought a bag. And we ate on them. And then I decided to make banana bread. A double recipe. And we ate on that. And there were still tons left so I made another double batch of banana bread (this will go in the freezer) and there is still bananas (3) left (that will have to go in the freezer whole. They win. I'm done.)

Yesterday was my sweet husbands birthday. He wanted a cake. I made it into 2 8 X 8 cakes and took one to our small group at church. They ate. We ate. People took some home. And there is still too much cake left.

All of this to say that my husband has asked that we lighten it up a bit here and I couldn't agree more.

What I'm working with this week:
Not much other than a head of cabbage and some regular and sweet potatoes in the way of fresh vegetables.

On to the menu. Prices are rounded to the nearest 25¢. The total price of food is counted on the day that it is cooked. Leftovers are counted as $0. On any day that no vegetable is mentioned there is a raw vegetable platter served and $2 is added to the menu cost for that day for the cost of the vegetables with dressing. There are always homemade rolls. They cost me less than 35¢ to make and last for several days.

Monday - Tuna Patties, baked sweet potatoes, homemade whole wheat bread. $9.50

Tuesday - Tuna pattie sandwiches, raw vegetable platter $2

Wednesday - Dinner at church. I'll bring what's needed. I have no idea yet. $10 (or less)

Thursday - My Family's Favorite Meatloaf, sauteed cabbage $14.25

Friday - Meatloaf sandwiches, vegetable platter $2

Total for the work week - $37.75

For more menu inspiration, head over to Laura's Blog!


Friday, March 28, 2008

Frugal Friday Gardening

Being sick for a few weeks, I feel that I lost much of my garden prep time. When I started feeling more myself, it suddenly dawned on me that it was time to start planting early seeds and I had to hop to it!

This is our first year planting most things from seeds, so I didn't have any of the "equipment" ready to do so.

So I improvised. Using whatever little pot I'd kept from buying small plants in years past. But mine certainly doesn't looks very tidy, and it took a lot of dirt!

I wanted to give some seeds to a needy family that is starting in gardening this year, but they didn't have any little pots and absolutely no money to buy any.

I'd researched many different things that could be used, from egg cartons to toilet paper tubes, and then I found this:


You end up with these little newspaper cups that are so perfect for your seeds. It was exactly what I was looking for. If it would only work.

Looks simple! So I tried it. And guess what?

It's as simple as it looks!

For more frugal ideas be sure to check out Crystal's Blog!


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Homemade Frugal Delicious Stovetop Granola

My family loves granola. But granola is *expensive*. And it usually has some pretty weird ingredients. So I decided to learn to make my own. I found several recipes (this being the best one in my opinion), but as is par for the course here, I tend to combine them and make my own recipe out of it.

This recipe is, bar none, the best granola we've ever had. It makes a HUGE amount. But can be easily divided.

To make it more frugal, use what you have on hand or what is inexpensive or in season.

Printable recipe follows picture tutorial.

Heat 4 tablespoons of Olive Oil up in a HUGE pan.

When the oil is hot (medium high) add 8 cups of oats and a bag of coconut. Here I added a little bag because my sweet husband picked it up for me on the way home and paid a FORTUNE for it. If I'd had a cheaper bag, I would have added more.

Brown the oats and coconut in the skillet stirring constantly. It takes several minutes to get them good and toasty looking. Then pour this into a bow.

Heat a little more oil and add 1 cup of sliced almonds. Stir until they are toasted. You can also do this in the oven or even skip this step. But toasted almonds have a lot more flavor than untoasted almonds. When toasted put them aside.

In the same skillet melt 1 and 1/3 cups of butter.

Add 8 Tablespoons of honey.

And 1 1/3 cups of packed brown sugar. Stir constantly until it comes to a good bubble.

Then add back in your toasted oats and coconuts (not your almonds yet).

Now brown this mixture for several minutes. It gets all caramely and toasty. You'll know when it's done.

Have some parchment or waxed paper ready.

Dump the hot toasty mixture on the parchment or wax paper. Pack it together so that you have chunks instead of crumbles. With the toasted almonds spread on top and packed down.

I like to add another kind of nut just to keep it interesting. Here is about 1/2 cup chopped pecans. All the recipes say to wait until it's totally cool and bagged to add the nuts and fruit, I have no idea why. I add them right after I pack it down on the parchment paper.

Here I am packing the pecans into the granola mixture.

Add some dried fruit. Here is close to a cup of dried cranberries. And I don't show it (forgot to get the picture) but I also added half a cup or so of dried dates just cause I had them left from Christmas baking.

Pack the dried fruit down on the (still warm) granola mixture.

Once it's set for a while, start to break it up. If you wait until it's completely cool it may be harder to crumble. See the corner that's missing? That's where the family can't keep their little grubby fingers out of it. Yeah, it's that good.

Even after the family had eaten and eaten, we still had a huge gallon bag left that weighed right at 3 lbs.

Be sure not to put it in the bag until it's totally cool or condensation will occur and it will ruin the granola. This keeps for a long time on the shelf. I've not found out how long because the family gobbles it down within a few days at most.

Homemade Frugal Delicious Stovetop Granola

4 T Olive Oil

8 Cups Oats

A bag of coconut

1 1/3 Cup butter

8 T Honey

1 1/3 Cup packed brown sugar

Up to 2 cups Nuts (if desired) (toasted if desired)

Up to 1 1/3 cup dried fruit of your choice

Heat the oil in the biggest pot you've got over medium high. Add oats and coconut. Stirring constantly until browned. This will take several minutes. Set aside in a bowl.

Heat a bit more oil and toast any nuts you want to toast. Set them aside separately.

Melt butter. Add honey and then brown sugar. Stir constantly until you've got a good bubble.

Add toasted oats and coconut back to butter/sugar mixture and toast several minutes until the mixture gets all toasty and caramely.

Pour mixture on parchment or waxed paper. Pack down. Add nuts, pack down. Add dried fruits, pack down. Once it begins to harden, break up into big chunks.

When totally cool put into a huge zipper bag (or two).


For more "Works For Me Wednesday" Tips, be sure to visit!