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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What I Learned From My Fridge and Freezer Troubles

 photo IMG_1876_zps43165ec9.jpgWhen my husband and I went away about a month ago, we came home to a non working freezer. Since then the stuff in the freezer started frosting over and then defrosting, and I needed to fix the freezer on my own. And even after that, it stopped working well, and yet again, the past few days I had things defrosting on the top shelves of my freezer.
You have no idea how high my stress levels were. Through the roof, I tell you.
Because I was pretty sure that my fridge was slowly, slowly dying. Because why else would it stop working three times in the space of a month and a half?
I researched the costs of new fridges, and even went out to a store that sold them to check it out, and started freaking out at the disgustingly high prices I saw for a fridge similar in size to what I have now.
But before I would spend that much money on a new appliance, I figured we should invite the local appliance repair man to inspect our fridge and just give one final check before we sign the fridge's "death certificate".

I can breathe a huge sigh of relief, because the fridge needed only a few minor repairs, and I learned some stuff about fridge and freezer maintenance that hopefully will help prevent this problem in the future; I wanted to share it with you, so that you don't either have these issues and need to pay a repairman. (The repairman's fee was only 7% of what I would have paid for a new fridge like we had.)

I Just Made a Weaning Party

I did something I never did before.
A few things, actually.
 photo turtle34.gifI nursed a kid until 2 months shy of her third birthday- my first two kids I nursed until 19 months each, this one until 34 months.
This is the first time I nursed all the way through a pregnancy and then nursed two kids at once, also called tandem nursing.
This is the first time I nursed a kid until she was old enough to have an intelligent conversation with me, that I could reason with her, and could tell me in her words how much she loved nursing.
And this is also the first time I made a weaning party.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Frugal Accomplishments This Week

It's that time again, that time where I share just how frugal (or not) I was in a week. Fortunately this past week as a good one, and I have a decent amount of frugal things I did to share with y'all.

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Here's what I did this week to save money, divided by category:

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Healthy Homemade Strawberry Jelly/Gummy Candies- Refined Sugar Free, Gluten Free

 photo IMG_1841Medium_zps147db0ef.jpgOn Friday, I had the exciting enjoyment of emptying out my freezer, because it wasn't working and things were starting to defrost- fortunately only just a drop defrosted, and not an entire freezer full like happened the last time. I'd left the freezer open a drop (something blocked the door) and some stuff defrosted enough to spill onto the fan and then refroze, making the fan unable to move, and the freezer and fridge were starting to not work. Fortunately, we fixed it ourselves quickly and easily enough, but I found some strawberries that I'd bought on sale when they were in season and froze, which had defrosted with these freezer issues...
So I said instead of re-freezing those strawberries, I'd make them into a dessert.
I'd been reading about making homemade healthy sour gummy candies (similar to the homemade mango gummy worms I'd made before) and I was trying to figure out what flavor to make them, and then I decided to take the defrosted strawberried I had, puree them, and turn them into strawberry sour gummy candies. Only they didn't come out so sour, so next time I'd probably increase the lemon juice (and reduce the water) in this.
And though they were gummy, they were slightly closer to the texture of jelly candy than gummy candies; I would have liked them to be even chewier, so next time I make this, I'll probably use 7 or 8 tablespoons of gelatin instead of 6.
While I made these with strawberry puree, I'm sure it would also be terrific with other pureed fruit, like raspberry puree, mango puree, applesauce, peach puree, etc...
My kids really enjoyed these gummy candies. But the best thing I did with them was coat them with homemade chocolate, to make chocolate covered strawberry jellies, very similar to chocolate covered jelly rings... But I'll get to that in another post...

Healthy Homemade Strawberry Gummy/Jelly Candies- Refined Sugar Free, Gluten Free

Friday, October 17, 2014

Chicken Piccata Recipe- Gluten Free and Dairy Free Options (With Vegan Suggestions)

 photo IMG_1838Medium_zps0805be34.jpgI had never heard of chicken piccata until I was searching for recipes to make with the capers that I foraged, but it instantly appealed to me- capers, chicken and lemon sounded like a match made in heaven.  Most versions of chicken piccata are made with gluten and dairy, as it is typically dredged in flour and then fried in butter, but I made this gluten free and dairy free by using gluten free flour and frying it in olive oil, and it was amazing.
I've also made this exact recipe with fish (tilapia) instead of chicken and it's amazing. And if you're vegan, you can fry up whatever form of fake meat you make- whether seitan, tofu or something else- instead of the chickeb.
I finally wrote up this recipe after making it a few times- I'm serving it tonight with gluten free spaghetti and steamed fennel for a nice Italian style meal.

Chicken Piccata Recipe- Gluten Free and Dairy Free Options (With Vegan Suggestions)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Yummy Apple Muffins Recipe- With Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, Vegan Options

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Got any apples that need to be used up?
The other day I wanted to make a sweet baked good, but I was short on most ingredients that seem to be in the standard muffin recipes. I did have a lot of apples, though, and figured they'd make a great muffin. I wasn't disappointed.
I based my muffin recipe off this one, and they came out so great that people were telling me I should market it.
These muffins are gluten free (but can easily be made with wheat if you're trying to keep costs down), can easily be made vegan, and can easily be made refined sugar free. I've made mine vegan and not vegan, refined sugar free and not refined sugar free, and they're great all ways.

Yummy Apple Muffins Recipe- With Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, Vegan Options

Monday, October 13, 2014

Frugal Accomplishments This Week

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Hi there everyone! Good thing I make sure to share my weekly frugal accomplishments on Mondays every week, because it pushes me to blog even when I've been being lazy. Sorry for the lack of blog posts this past week- I'll try to get back on the bandwagon...

Here's what we did to save money this past week:

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Easy Dal Recipe- Vegan and Simple

 photo IMG_1749Medium_zpsc8c08dc8.jpgI sometimes feel that on this blog, I post my amazing special recipes that taste superb and are a real treat to eat, but tend to leave out the recipes for things that are relatively basic, that I make all the time.
This dal recipe- Indian style lentil curry, is one of those- I make this probably a few times a month, since it is quick to cook, takes minimal ingredients, my kids who aren't the hugest fan of lentils don't mind it, and it's cheap.
Made from red lentils, if I'm being more ambitious I pair it with some Indian side dishes like curried veggies, chutney, and Indian style rice. But if I'm short on time and/or energy, just serving it with rice and a simple vegetable salad works as well.

Easy Dal Recipe- Vegan and Simple

Monday, October 6, 2014

Frugal Accomplishments This Week

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I'm proud of myself- for the first time in a while, it seems, I actually kept track, every day, of what we did to save money. It was a good week, also doing frugal basics, but also having a good time, frugally. I finished the week feeling that I really accomplished a lot, so that was great.

Here's what we did to save money this week:

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Making and Painting Plaster Bisques/Molds/Casts

 photo IMG_1739_zps6395124e.jpgWhen I was a kid, there was this place called Plaster Playground not too far from my house. You'd pick out a piece of molded plaster (I only recently learned these are called plaster bisques) and paint it, then bring it home. All the cool kids in my class had birthday parties there, but it was very expensive, and in my house, we simply didn't have birthday parties at Plaster Playground.

However, my mother is very inventive and came up with great alternative ideas for birthday parties, and one thing she did many years for our birthdays was make her own plaster bisques at home, and we'd decorate them at our birthday party. I remember one year I had a Balto themed birthday party, and she made Balto (or wolf, most likely) shaped plaster bisques for us to paint.
My mom would put hooks in the plaster so that they could easily be hung up on walls; my bedroom walls were filled with so many years' worth of birthday party plaster paintings.

I hadn't given much thought to plaster painting until recently. However, when we came back from our anniversary trip, we brought back some gifts for the kids, including a play makeup set for Anneliese. The packaging for the makeup set inspired me, because there was so much detailing on it that it felt a shame to throw it out- I thought "Won't this make a really awesome plaster thing to paint?"

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