Wednesday, March 27, 2013


 Some pictures from today...

The calendar may say March 27, but the thermometer still said 33 degrees at 9 am this morning! So coats for everyone!

The wheatgrass that the kids and I planted is growing in spite of me being rather forgetful with keeping it watered.

Too cold to play outside this morning, we opted to paint. We all enjoyed... oh yes we did!

What did you do today? 

"Let us rejoice today and be glad."  Psalm 118:24

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Frugal Five

Let's see if I can come up with five frugal accomplishments this week!

1. Sold a bunch of stuff at a yard sale this past weekend. Had my two big ticket items (a laptop and a tablet) not sold, it wouldn't have been as worth it. But they did sell which was super nice! Plus I sold a lot of 25 cent and $1 items! (I took 6 boxes of stuff and came home with 3!) This money is going into our 10th anniversary fund.

2. Stayed in budget for groceries this month. Shouldn't have to go shopping until after the first of April.

3. Made some homemade cleaners.

4. Had a few "lemon ice cubes" that I made last spring that I found in my freezer. Impressive that they made it through our move last June! Although maybe a bit weird that I kept them! Instead of throwing them out, I plopped them in a saucepan with a cinnamon stick and cloves. Made a lovely air freshener!

5. Used a big flat box from a recent purchase to make a play area for the toddlers one chilly afternoon. I cut one side off the box so that it was open like a sandbox and filled it with plastic Easter eggs (yard sale purchase from last year for $1). My goodness, they had a good time. They were so excited to see it when they got up from their naps!

How have you saved money this week? I always love reading your lists!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spinach Cheese Casserole

I tried this recipe over the weekend and it was a hit. Even those who don't care for spinach said that it was pretty good.

Super easy too!

I got this recipe from a local magazine and wanted to share it here with you too.

This casserole would work very well for brunch or a light lunch or as a side dish to a heavier meal. Broccoli or any other kind of greens (such as collards) can be substituted for the spinach if you prefer.

Spinach Cheese Casserole

1- 10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach (I used 16 ounces and it worked fine.)
3 eggs, lightly beaten
8 ounces cottage cheese
3 Tablespoons flour
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 pound sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook spinach according to package directions and drain. Place in medium bowl and add eggs. Stir in cottage cheese, flour, butter and cheddar cheese until well mixed.

Spoon mixture into a greased 9 inch square baking dish. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until very lightly browned.



Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Frugal Five

Once again, it's time to share five frugal things from my week.

Here goes...

1. We had really warm weather over the weekend. We opened the windows instead of turning on the AC. Today we're back to cooler temps.

2. Combined some errands to save gas $$.

3. While at the dump, I noticed some boxes of glassware on the "Free Paint" table. I noticed some plates in one box; I am looking for some extra plates for hosting our Sunday fellowship. The attendant said I could help myself to whatever I wanted. I picked out 4 plates that weren't chipped and left the rest. Not really my style but will certainly work until I find something else! 

4. Went to a few yard sales on Saturday. Found some curtain fabric in the shade of purple we're planning to redecorate our bedroom in for $3. At the next sale, I found a bathroom rug in the same shade for 50 cents. So a frugal master bedroom/bath redo is on the horizon!
This shows the paint colors we're looking at.

5. Used some coupons-- Earth Fare sent out some good coupons for free cheese (with $5 purchase) and 1/2 price sausage this week; we were going anyways so we took advantage of the deals. Used a Deal Saver coupon (a local Groupon-style site) for lunch on Saturday--other than the tip, we spent nothing out of pocket! We love buying Groupons for restaurants we enjoy; it stretches our eating out money significantly since it's often 50% or more off the purchase price.

How have you saved money this week?

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Few Kitchen Tips

Today, a small collection of kitchen tips:

We enjoy eating leftovers but I like having them organized instead of hanging out all over the fridge. A while ago, I began using a plastic shoebox to hold small leftover containers. This works really well; we can see at a glance what we have to use up. Any larger containers of leftovers are stored right beside this box.

I discovered by accident one day that the lids from the 5 pound sour cream  and cottage cheese containers from Sam's Club fit perfectly on my soup/cereal bowls. They seal pretty good, making it possible to fill these bowls, cover them with lids and stack them in the refrigerator. Who knew?

We inherited almost brand-new granite countertops when we purchased our home. My first thought upon moving in was, "How in the world do I clean these?" I was used to using simple homemade cleaning products (like straight vinegar!) and couldn't find anything at first that was completely safe for granite. I used some purchased granite cleaner for the first little bit then was happy to find this homemade recipe. It works really well and is cheap! I like to add a little peppermint essential oil for a pleasant scent.

Do you have any kitchen tips to share?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Vintage Laundry Art

A few years ago, I got an embroidered vintage laundry bag from my mother-in-law. It was during a time that both her parents and aunt were seriously downsizing and this was in a pile of various things she wanted me to go through.

Of course, this hand-embroidered piece immediately caught my eye! I loved it right away. Her headscarf, the apron, the tiny embroidered clothespins....

We don't know who made it  and I'm not sure if the bag was ever technically finished since there were no drawstrings or anything at the top. And there are a few stains but nothing terrible.

My laundry room is rather dark--hope to lighten it up with paint one day. When we moved into our house, I hung this laundry bag in there for a bit of decoration. I hung it with two thumbtacks for a quick fix but I knew I wanted to do something nicer with it-I just didn't know what yet.

Last week, I had the thought to stretch it over a canvas. So next time I was at Hobby Lobby, I got a 16 x20 canvas. (A 2-pack is $7.99 plus I was able to use a 40% off coupon!)

I cut into the backing on the bag so it would fit the canvas on all sides and used thumbtacks to attach it.

Seriously--that's it! I don't know that this can technically be called a craft project!

It's simple but I really like my one-of-a-kind art piece!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Fudge Brownies

Ok, so these brownies aren't healthy by any stretch of the imagination but they are a yummy treat every once in a while!

They're quick to mix up and bake and work really well when you need an easy dessert for hospitality. And most people love brownies!

I'm one of those people who loves brownies from a mix--it took me a while to find a homemade brownie recipe that reminded me of the boxed brownies! In my opinion, so many homemade brownies tend to be dry and not very chocolate-y but these are very moist and fudgy!

Fudge Brownies

1 cup butter (2 sticks), melted
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
4 eggs
1 cup flour
Optional--1 cup chopped nuts

In a  bowl, mix butter, sugar and cocoa. Add eggs and mix well. Stir flour into egg mixture and mix. Add nuts if desired.

Pour batter into a greased 9 x13 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until brownies test done in middle. Cool in pan.

Makes approximately 18 brownies.

**I prefer brownies with a little gooey center so I only bake these about 25 minutes. Don't over bake!**

Best eaten fresh--within a day or two.

Good with or without frosting. This homemade chocolate frosting is delicious and easy. Or you can use a tub of ready-made frosting from the store--I've found that the chocolate is usually pretty good! For the brownies pictured, I used a can of Aldi chocolate frosting which is extremely yummy for $1.29.

Homemade Chocolate Frosting

1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup cocoa
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Pour all ingredients into mixing bowl and beat until smooth.

Enough frosting for one 9 x13 pan of cake or brownies!

Brownies to celebrate a friend's birthday!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Frugal Five

 Some frugal things this week:

1. Used a Groupon we had purchased to get lunch one day. We had paid $10 for a $20 Groupon to a local restaurant. We got enough food for two full meals for both of us by only paying 26 cents extra!

2. Used some coupons-- FREE yogurt parfaits at Chick-fil-a, 40% off coupon at Hobby Lobby!

3. Andy had some postcards from his business that were outdated. They are only printed on one side so I rescued them from the trash and put them with my scrap papers--perfect for daily and weekly to-do lists! He has also been saving the tear-off daily calendar sheets from his desk calendar; we won't need to buy note paper for a very long time.

4. We purchased new eye glasses online for a fraction of the price of buying from a local vision center. I will be sharing more about this in another post, but I received my order yesterday and they appear to be very good quality.

5.  Made homemade laundry detergent. We've been using this for at least 2 years now and are still very pleased with it. And it's cheap!

How have you saved money this week?

Thursday, March 07, 2013


1. Conversations between my husband and I at Lowe's last weekend:

Me: "Look at this--the "roundy" one with whirring!"
Husband: "Your use of technical terms astounds me."

Me: " Oooh, this one has thingies!"
Husband: "Again, your use of technical terms astounds me."

2. The little ones love  I find it a more interactive sort of entertainment than plopping them in front of the T.V. The letter 'B' has a picture of a boy who says "I am a boy." that they both really like. So now when they see the laptop, Toddler Girl asks for the "puter boy". (Computer boy).  Even Toddler Boy comes along saying, "Boy, boy."

3. Me: "We need to take down our snowflakes and winter art and put up Spring stuff!"
Toddler Girl: "It would be fun! We go to the store and buy springs!"

4. Toddler Boy: "Eff, eff, eff."
Me: "I have no idea what he's saying."
Toddler Girl: " He say 'eff'' for tree."
Me: "Hmmm...good to know!"

5. Toddler Boy: Jabber, jabber, jabber, "Kit Kat!", jabber, jabber, jabber."
Me: "Kit kat!"
Toddler Boy: "Kit-TY cat! Meow. Meow."

6. Toddler Girl: "I have pick-ups again." (Hiccups)

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Wisdom and Picking Up Toys

Almost every morning during my quiet time, I ask God for wisdom as I deal with the little ones that day. And I usually don't think much more about it.

Yes, there are "incidents" throughout the day that require me to stop again and ask for His wisdom on how to handle them but I guess it's not always forefront on my mind.

This morning, I prayed for wisdom as usual and then the day started.

Breakfast is cleaned up. Diapers are changed and the potty is visited. Boo-boos are kissed. Redirection! Baby is fed.

And while this is going on, every toy within a certain toddler's reach is moving towards the floor. And the other toddler loves to do whatever the friend is doing....
Another morning--this photo even catches our little culprit in the act!

Then it was time to clean up and we all know how popular clean-up time is! These little people who are so bright and can repeat everything they hear us say even from several rooms away suddenly have no idea what to do. If they hear me at all, I am given an absolute "deer in headlights" look. Otherwise, they carry on oblivious or one is clearing shelves as fast as we get anything put back on them.

Typical scene in Toddlerville, I know!

This morning, without even thinking about it, I began to sing a new "clean-up" song. It was, in fact, so new, that even I had never heard it!

I sang it about five times, while starting to pick up the toys, with minimal help. Suddenly, something clicked and I had two little people scurrying around picking up toys as fast as they could, smiling and laughing and clearly having a wonderful time.

We finished up and I ushered two happy little children to the kitchen table to play with playdough.

It was all so different than usual and suddenly I knew that that little song was one of God's answers to my prayer for wisdom that morning. Singing, even a silly little song about picking up toys, brightened and brought peace to the moment and set the tone for the remainder of the morning.

James 1:5 says "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God ,who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. "

Thank you, Lord!

This is just a small example of one way God answers prayer and gives wisdom for dealing with little daily things. He is a personal and practical God and He loves it when we come to Him with our needs!

Are you needing wisdom today? Ask Him!

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Frugal Five

Thankfully, not as much spending happened around here this week!

Five frugal things for the week:

  1. Got some deals at Target.
  2. Stopped at some thrift stores this weekend and scored a few good things I'd been looking for: a booster seat (for the table) for the littles ($3), some rain boots for me ($3.99), a beautiful Shabby Chic sheet for sewing ($2.99), a variety of organizing containers (25 cents - $1) and a few other things. I'd been looking for rain boots for me for a while and had priced them new--way more than $3.99! They are super cute; I'll try to post a picture soon.
  3. Made asparagus soup using this recipe as a guide. I used the woody ends I had saved and didn't have nearly as much as the recipe so I scaled it back considerably and it made two bowls. Just enough for the two of us! It was quite good!
  4. Needed a basket to store some things on top of our bathroom cabinet. I had a wire basket that fit the space just right but the handle were too high and they don't bend. I thought about this a moment, then took the handle off. Perfect! No need to buy another basket and I can put the handle back on if I want to use it at another spot.
  5. Started saving banana peels for fertilizer for my roses and garden. We go through quite a few bananas around here so I should have a nice collection soon. The link on that pin is no longer found; google something like "banana peels for fertilizer" and you should be able to find out more information. Toddler Boy's mom said that her parents put a banana peel in each hole before planting their tomatoes and it makes a big difference in the crop and health of the plants.
How have you saved money this week? 

Monday, March 04, 2013

How To Wash Lettuce

In my recent library pile was the book, In The Green Kitchen: Techniques To Learn By Heart by Alice Waters.

I enjoyed this book since I love reading cookbooks and how-to's. This book is a combination of the two.

One of the "how-to's" instructs how to wash lettuce. I knew I could learn from this!

Now you may be thinking, "Who wouldn't know how to wash lettuce? It's just putting lettuce in water, for Pete's sake!"

Anyways, while I knew the basics of washing lettuce, her instructions walked me through the simple process and left me with dry lettuce leaves instead of soggy ones in a very short amount of time. I also learned that smaller batches in the salad spinner do much better than stuffing it full--who knew!?!

So I thought I'd share "How To Wash Lettuce" with my readers.

How To Wash Lettuce

Fill a large bowl/basin with cold water--your kitchen sink can also work. Separate leaves, put them in the water and swish them around a bit with your hands. Let soak for a minute or two. The dirt and sand will settle to the bottom of the bowl. Lift leaves out of the water; drain in colander. Or do as I do and shake them a bit to get the water off.

If lettuce is still gritty or dirty, change water and soak again.

To dry lettuce: Put lettuce in salad spinner, no more than half full and spin leaves dry. Empty water after each batch.

No salad spinner? Use a colander to let leaves drain before proceeding. Or you can use this method. :-)

Lay leaves out in a single layer on a clean dish towel.

Roll it up. I let it sit for a bit like this. I think if I read the directions right, you can put your lettuce towel roll in the fridge.

Cut or tear your lettuce leaves for a salad or refrigerate until ready to use!