Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Homemade Finger Paint Recipe

Once upon a time, I used food coloring in my house. Once upon a time, when I used food coloring, I felt that the food coloring being sold in my country was such bad quality that I had my dad bring me a package of McCormick brand food coloring when he came to visit me.
That food coloring is now sitting on my shelf, unused, after its long trip around the globe, because we no longer intentionally consume food coloring.
So, what do you do with a bunch of food coloring when you won't eat it in your food?
Paint with it, of course.
Yes, I know this is controversial to suggest, because your skin also absorbs toxins through your pores, and these go directly into your blood stream without needing to go through your digestive system... and many people won't put anything on their body that they won't put into their mouth... and I try to do that for the most part, but... yea, I guess I'm being hypocritical for not using shampoo for this reason but have no problem having my kids paint with something I won't let them eat... 
But either way, here's how to make your own homemade finger paint recipe using just a few basic ingredients. If you don't want to use chemicals, a chemical free variation is written below.

Homemade Finger Paint Recipe

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Hearth and Soul Blog Hop

Hearth & Soul Hop
Welcome to this week's edition of the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop, where each week, cooks from around the globe share their most delicious, nourishing, and heart warming recipes. The cooking carnival where you come to share your best kept cooking secrets, those recipes with the magic ingredient in it called "Soul Spice"-  the made from scratch recipes that you make with love to feed your family, friends, and loved ones.

My co-hosts for the blog hop are:
Alea of Premeditated Leftovers,
Swathi of  Zesty South Indian Kitchen
and April of The 21st Century Housewife

Favorites from last week:
Preserved Lemons- I've wanted to make these for a while, especially since I have a source of organic lemons to forage...
Gluten Free Corn Fritters- These look like delicious powdered donuts! I want to try them out!

Sunflower Seed Gluten Free Cookie Recipe With Non GF Option and Sugar Free Option

Every Tuesday I go to a Mommy and Me type thing in my community with my kids, and the hostess always makes some baked good that makes me start drooling. I mixed these up, as a takeoff off these sunflower seed cookies from Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen. I would have made them like she did, only maple syrup is a fortune where I live, and I had no apple sauce in the house, so I made these changes to work with what I had.
Because I used sugar in place of maple syrup, I was glad that these cookies have minimal sugar; they're yummy even so. No, they're not the sweetest cookies out there, but they're still a good snack to bring along so I am not tempted to cheat, and maybe I can get my kids to eat this instead of what the hostess offers. (My kids aren't entirely gluten free but I still try to minimize the amount of gluten they eat because I think they really would be best off gluten entirely but my husband isn't on board with me about that.)

ETA: After bringing these to my "Mommy and Me" today, the hostess, Debbie, fell in love with these cookies and wanted to recreate them in her kitchen for her family to eat. They're really a perfect breakfast cookie- high in protein, high in fat, sweet, but still low in sugar, and very satisfying to eat. Debbie has no need for making her cookies gluten free, so she made these cookies with gluten and sans the special gluten free flours, and they came out just as good, she said. I've included her changes in parenthesis below.)
I also tried making these sugar free, and they came out terrifically, so I've included those changes below as well. Now that I've made them sugar free, I have absolutely no guilt serving these to my kids or myself at any time of the day, even for breakfast.

Sunflower Seed Gluten Free Cookie Recipe

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Ginger Carrot Soup Recipe

The inspiration and to idea for this soup goes to Lisa from Allergy-Free Vintage Cookery, the author of a really awesome blog with a boat load of recipes that are amazing for people on a restricted diet, and many of them can be made pretty frugally. I really love her blog and wanted to give a shout out to her and thank her for all her terrific ideas, and share with you a recipe that I made that is a take off of her Spunky Ginger Carrot Soup.
This recipe is pretty versatile, and is, as my sister Kelly calls it, a bare pantry recipe, as it entails very minimal ingredients, ones that people generally have in the house, and all frugal ingredients.

Ginger Carrot Soup Recipe

Friday, February 24, 2012

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Recipe

I love cake. I hate that gluten free flours are a fortune. I love finding recipe for cakes that use cheaper ingredients than the standard gluten free recipes (and therefore don't call for almond flour or coconut flour or any other more obscure or expensive ingredient), but still resemble the gluten full version and taste good. I have to thank my friend Rikki for sharing this gluten free chocolate cake recipe. I changed it a bit, using sunflower seeds instead of more expensive ground nuts to make it cheaper.
Its an easy recipe, including no separating or whipping eggs.

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Recipe

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Assumptions and Store Loyalty

I used to have big issues with "corner grocery stores", or "mom and pops" grocery stores, because I knew them to generally be expensive and tending to rip people off.
I believed in the "mega stores", knowing that with a larger sales base, the mega stores are able to take some losses and have good sales and still come out on top.
So I suggested to people to stay away from the "corner store", and to shop at cheap "mega stores". And in a way I was mistaken.
Not 100% mistaken, but its not always the best advice, I've learned.
My corner grocery store (ok, not on my corner, but its the walkable one in my community, the convenient one where people shop out of ease), not so long ago, was purchased by a supermarket chain. The store pretty much stayed the same, the workers stayed the same, and I still kept out of the store because "I do not shop at corner grocery stores".

Meanwhile, my "favorite supermarket", the one that has amazing loss leader sales... has been having prices that have been somewhat less than amazing lately, but still, that's where I keep on shopping because its "cheaper there than at the corner store". Or is it?
Not necessarily.
Its because of that sneaky trick that stores do that gets even the best of us.
Buying your loyalty.
Making you have store loyalty.
And boy, did they get me good.
Not only did I shop exclusively at that store, I scoffed at people who shopped at the corner store, and recommended that people shop at "my store".
Store loyalty? Bah.
It makes fools out of the lot of us.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Credit Gap

This is a guest post.

The credit debt crisis is perhaps one of the greatest struggles facing most American families. As many chose to live beyond their means, high amounts of debt are forcing families to downsize or pick up additional shifts at second jobs simply to make ends meet. According to the following infographic provided by, you just might be surprised by the staggering difference in debt amongst generations.


According to the credit & generational infographic, those that seem to have the most debt are those in our age bracket – those wishing to have it all: cars, the house, and a family. We were the first to have easy access to incredibly inexpensive interest rates and school loans. For years, we have blamed the younger generations for being so quick to charge anything with their bad spending habits, but it looks like in our attempt to live a comfortable life with the Joneses, many of us over did it.

However, that doesn't mean that Generation X and the Boomers have ruined the state of the economy. While we have the most debt, we are also doing fairly well to manage it. In fact, most of our debt is in homes and cars, things that propel the economy. But perhaps a bit more frugal living just may help those who are in over their heads, as well as establish better spending habits amongst younger generations.

Where do you fit in? Are you in the "Greatest Generation", the Baby Boomers, Generation X, or Generation Y? If you have debt, how does it compare to the average debt of someone in your age bracket? What type of debt do you have? The same debt as is typical for people your age?
Why do you think there is such a discrepancy between the types and amounts of debt for each age bracket?

See my disclaimer.

Homemade Kefir Recipe- Probiotic Yogurt Alternative

I like yogurt. So do my kids. So does my husband. Because it's expensive to buy in the store, I make homemade yogurt for my family whenever they want it... or rather, whenever I feel like putting in the effort. I mean, making yogurt isn't a ton of work, and if you love yogurt, you really should make it instead of buying your own as the savings are tremendous... But at the same time, yogurt making entails quite a few steps- boiling, cooling, mixing, letting sit in a warm place, retrieving it to refrigerate, and then eating it...  and some time I don't feel like doing that.
Meet kefir. Kefir is a probiotic, fermented milk product, just like yogurt, but it differs in quite a few notable ways.

1) Kefir is a bit more runny than yogurt.

2) Kefir making is much easier than yogurt making in certain ways, but harder in other ways.

3) Kefir has a slightly different taste than yogurt- more tangy and yeasty at the same time.

4) Yogurt usually just has acidopholous, but kefir can have as many as 25 different types of probiotics.

5) Yogurt can be made via "chain yogurting", using one bit of yogurt to start the next batch, which you then use to start the next batch, but they get less potent each time, and eventually it'll stop working, and you'll need to start over. Kefir, on the other hand, must be made via "chain kefiring". Similar to kombucha, kefir is made by adding a SCOBY- a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast- to milk, and letting the probiotics in the SCOBY digest the milk. This SCOBY is called kefir grains (they look nothing like grains, more like clear gummy cauliflower florets); you reuse those grains again and again and again, forever and ever, and not only do they not die, they actually grow and reproduce.

6) Yogurt takes 7-10 hours to be ready; kefir takes 24-48 hours to be ready.

7) Kefir is more digestible than yogurt. Yogurt gives me stomach problems, but I can handle small amounts of kefir.

8) Kefir has a huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge amount of health benefits, many more than yogurt. Its been used to treat so many different health issues, among them healing all sorts of stomach/digestive issues and illnesses, skin issues like acne, eczema, psoriasis and sunburns, is a natural antibiotic, helps heal certain cancers, lowers LDL cholesterol and helps with heart disease in other ways, strengthens the immune system and helps with many autoimmune diseases, helps with certain neurological issues, helps with certain age related illnesses and issues, among many other things! (See here for a full list.) 

So, how do you make kefir?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Hearth and Soul Blog Hop

Hearth & Soul Hop
Welcome to this week's edition of the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop, where each week, cooks from around the globe share their most delicious, nourishing, and heart warming recipes. The cooking carnival where you come to share your best kept cooking secrets, those recipes with the magic ingredient in it called "Soul Spice"-  the made from scratch recipes that you make with love to feed your family, friends, and loved ones.

My co-hosts for the blog hop are:
Alea of Premeditated Leftovers,
Swathi of  Zesty South Indian Kitchen
and April of The 21st Century Housewife

Favorites from last week:

Monday, February 20, 2012

Tongue Tie and Lip Tie Snipping- For Health and Monetary Benefits

A kid with a tongue tie.
I'm not a big interventionist, and I don't hold much trust in the medical establishment. I don't rush to the doctor for every little thing, and I think far too many people jump into doing surgical procedures that not only could be avoided, but often do more harm than good.
That said, I've elected to have minor surgical procedures for not just one or two, but all three of my kids. Lee had his tongue tie and lip tie snipped, Ike had his tongue tie snipped, and Anneliese had her lip tie snipped just yesterday. Why would I, as a mom, choose to do elective medical interventions and choose to put my kids through pain, not to mention being willing to pay money for these surgical procedures?

I guess to answer this, I'll have to start at the very beginning.

My Kids' Tongue Ties and Lip Ties
When Lee was born, nursing hurt at first. Of course, everyone "knows" that nursing usually hurts, right? But I dunno, something just didn't seem right. It really, really hurt, and it didn't seem normal.
When the docs came around and were telling my roommate in the hospital that her baby had a tongue tie, I listened carefully, then asked the doc "So does my baby have a tongue tie also?" They took a quick look, and then said "No, doesn't look like it" and then went.
But when nursing was still painful 3 weeks later, and on top of that I got engorged and got mastititis because Lee wasn't managing to empty out my breasts from milk, I paid a visit to a lactation consultant who affirmed what I had originally thought- Lee certainly did have a tongue tie, and that was why nursing hurt so much- he wasn't able to get a proper latch and flattened my nipple like a pancake while nursing.

At the recommendation of my lactation consultant, I took Lee to a dentist in the area who specialized in correcting tongue ties. The dentist asked me to open my mouth real wide, peered in, and said "You have a tongue tie." He then looked at my husband's mouth and said "You also have a tongue tie! Tongue tie is genetic generally; its very likely that all your kids will end up with tongue ties."

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Homemade Sponge Cake Recipe, Chiffon Cake- Gluten Free

Today is my 24th birthday, and my husband, Mike's 26th birthday. Yes, we share a birthday, and it allows us to be frugal by only celebrating our birthday once instead of on two separate days. Ok, I'm only partially kidding- because its both of our birthdays, we do try to do something nicer than if it were only one of ours. No, we haven't "really" celebrated yet because my babysitter isn't available on Saturdays, but we'll probably do something later on in the week, have a nice date, probably, which I'll post about when it happens.

What we did do so far was have a yummy cake, no, not frosted, in honor of our birthdays. We're not big cake or desert people here. Real food is yummy enough- why make junk? It just means that you'll eat it, and if you're eating proper meals you don't generally need to be snacking between them. And if you eat a satisfying meal, there's no need to eat more after the meal is over.
Anyhow, all that is why just a plain cake is something special around here, and I don't feel the need to add more sugar and such to make a frosting when its just myself, my husband, and my kids enjoying it, even if it is in honor of our birthday.

Here's a really yummy recipe for a cake my mom gave me, and it calls for no specialty gluten free ingredients or any hard to find ingredients, so that makes it pretty cheap for a gluten free cake, and you can make it even if you have no dietary restrictions because it isn't one of my wacky gf recipes calling for teff flour or xanthan gum or millet flour or almond flour- these are all things most people have around the house anyhow.

My mom calls it sponge cake. My friend, Robin, who has been baking longer than I have been (her son is just a  year or two younger than I am) said that this isn't a sponge cake, its a chiffon cake, as it has more ingredients than a simple sponge cake.
Me? What do I know? I'm just the chef. So long as it tastes good, I don't care WHAT it is called. I just put both names in the title so that people searching for either one on google can come across this post. I just call it yummy cake.

This recipe does involve separating eggs and beating them, but don't let that scare you. This was the first time I ever made a "sponge cake". Ok, maybe not- I might have made an angel food cake when I was in my early teens with the help of my mom, but this was the first time in my married life that I tried to do it. And I didn't fail it. So if I could do it, so can you.

Ok, before I give the recipe though, I just want to mention that your cake pan needs to be ungreased, and you don't want to be doing this with a glass cake pan, as the last bit of the instructions involves dropping the cake pan on the floor from a foot and a half up, and you don't want to be doing that with a glass baking pan. Unless you're asking for trouble. (So yes, that's why you see an aluminum pan up there. Because my baking pans are glass.) No, I have no clue why exactly you're supposed to do this, or how it works, but somehow it's supposed to stop your cake from "falling".
Also, when you beat your eggs, you need to do it in a container that is completely grease free, as fat will make the egg whites not beat properly and your cake won't work. So make sure your bowl is very clean before you do it. Oh, and do it in a deep bowl unless you want things to splatter all over. (I beat mine in a pitcher, actually.)

Sponge/Chiffon Cake Recipe

Friday, February 17, 2012

Homemade Gluten Free Beer Replacement Recipe

Kombucha "Beer" after the foam settled
down a bit
For much of my life, I viewed beer and coffee much the same way. The taste was icky, but I'd drink it to get the desired affect. In the case of coffee, to wake up from the caffeine, and in the case of beer, to get a little lightheaded from the alcohol... I never got why anyone would drink decaf coffee, because in my opinion, the only reason why someone would "subject themselves" to coffee would be for the caffeine, so decaf was just drinking icky stuff for no purpose...

As I grew older and my tastebuds developed, I began to appreciate the taste of beer... and somewhat the taste of coffee. Ok, I'm still not a coffee lover, but I do love beer.
Only I can't drink it now, for the most part, as beer is made from grains... Yes, they do sell gluten free beer (for a fortune, might I add), but its not readily available where I live.
And I like using beer in cooking. Beer battered fish is one of my favorite ways to make it. Beer battered chicken is also quite delicious. But alas, no beer.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

When Should You NOT Bulk Buy

I've written many times about bulk buying, and how it is a great money saver. You might think that that means that if you find a source of buying bulk foods, you should definitely do so. But is that so? Is bulk buying always worthwhile? Is it always smart to bulk buy?
There definitely are times when it is certainly not a smart idea to bulk buy...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Healthy Cookie Dough Dip Recipe

Love is... a big bowl of chocolate chip cookie dough.
At least in my marriage. (Well, after a clean house, that is... and uhm, in case you were wondering the state of my cleaning challenge, it failed abysmally... 9 months pregnant wasn't the best time to attempt to change life long habits, especially since I'm trying to take it easy still after giving birth until I recover all the way, and therefore the state of my house is highly embarrassing...)

Well yea, anyhow... My husband loves cookie dough. Really. He loves all dough. He even used to eat bread dough when his mom wasn't looking when she was baking...
So, chocolate chip cookie dough? He loves it!
In honor of V-day, I decided to share one of Mike's favorite foods, with a variation that makes it healthy, gluten free, sugar free, and pretty frugal to boot. (Ok, raw honey isn't ultra frugal at all, but if you replace it with sugar, its pretty cheap!)
And oh, it started off as Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip... but I added the chocolate chips to it when the chickpeas were still hot, and the chips melted, so... no more chocolate chips, more like chocolate swirl cookie dough.
And in case you were wondering what it tastes like, it tastes a drop nutty, even though its nut free. And because I used my homemade vanilla (made with vodka) it has a slightly, slightly alcoholic taste... But other than that? Exactly like cookie dough. No, it doesn't taste like chickpeas.
Oh wait- yea, this is the first time I'm mentioning chickpeas. Yea, that's what its made out of. Did I scare you off? Please say no. This doesn't taste like beans at all! This is a terrific way to get low cost protein-legumes- into bean haters or bean skeptics...
Eat it by dipping fruit into it, or cookies or crackers, or spreading it on a sandwich, or just eat it by the spoonful like my husband and I do. (And in case you were wondering, because of the flax seeds and chickpeas, its a complete protein.)
P.S. This recipe is based on a whole bunch of recipes of this sort from around the net. I take credit for this version, but not for the original idea!

Healthy Cookie Dough Dip Recipe

Hearth and Soul Blog Hop

Hearth & Soul Hop
Welcome to this week's edition of the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop, where each week, cooks from around the globe share their most delicious, nourishing, and heart warming recipes. The cooking carnival where you come to share your best kept cooking secrets, those recipes with the magic ingredient in it called "Soul Spice"-  the made from scratch recipes that you make with love to feed your family, friends, and loved ones.

My co-hosts for the blog hop are:
Alea of Premeditated Leftovers,
Swathi of  Zesty South Indian Kitchen
and April of The 21st Century Housewife

Favorites from last week:
Craggy Flourless Chocolate Cake- Just as soon as I buy more cocoa powder, this is going on my menu!
Veggie Black Bean Dip- You know me- I'm always happy with a good bean recipe, and this one looks fab!
Curry Chicken Salad- Perfect way to use up bland chicken left from making broth, or even to mask dried out overcooked chicken breast.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Manage Money Better by Using Online Calculators

This is a guest post by Nancy Evans. She is freelance writer that specializes in business and health.

The plain truth is that just about everybody could use some help when it comes to managing money better. Between having to constantly stay on the look-out for debit card fees and juggling unplanned albeit necessary purchases with the monthly bills, even the most financially responsible of us are sometimes unable to keep up on our own. Unfortunately not everybody has the money to afford a consultation with an adviser or an accountant, yet for those of us who are “on our own” who also happen to have an Internet connection, countless tools and resources are available in the pursuit of improved personal finances.

Online calculators are particularly useful when it comes to improving personal finances. Before you try and find out what is a cash back credit card is in your attempt to make ends meet, see if you can't free up some of your money and make what you spend go farther by taking advantage of the following seven calculators:

Credit Card Repayment Plan Calculator: Even if you got yourself a fancy no annual fee credit card, it doesn't do you any good to be making payments that will result in you paying hundreds if not thousands in interest. To either find out how much you'll have to dish out monthly or how long you have to go till it's paid off, use a credit card repayment calculator.

Withholding Calculator: Two bad things can come from failing to set aside the right amount for Uncle Sam every month. Either you'll be sent a fat bill courtesy of the IRS, or you'll be letting money be taken away from you every month that doesn't have to be deducted. To minimize both, run your income and filing status through this IRS-provided withholding calculator.

Retirement Calculator: Just like with credit cards, there's no point in putting money into a retirement plan every month if it isn't going to be enough for you to lead a comfortable life in your elder years. Utilize a retirement calculator to not only see if what you're saving will get you where you want to be, but to see if there isn't a better plan out there for you to try.

Fuel Economy Finder: Folks serious about saving money can't afford to be driving around gas guzzlers. If you're in the market for a new ride, use a fuel economy calculator to determine the most cost-effective choice among affordable options.

Cost-of-Commute Calculator: Over time inefficient routes to work and elsewhere can add hundreds of dollars to your annual spending. Use a cost-of-commute calculator to see how much your daily driving costs you, then on conjunction with a free online map service, find a better route if one exists.

Cost-of-Smoking: The annual cost of smoking cigarettes is a slap in the face to anyone so-far unable to quit the habit. If someone in your household smokes, see if they can't be talked out of it by bringing up how much money it robs the family of every year.

Home Energy Saver: It's been estimated that 58% of the energy Americans consume every year is completely wasted. This is due to inefficiencies at both the power plant and the homestead level. Use the Home Energy Saver available through the Department of Energy to find the best ways for someone in your particular situation to cut down on energy waste.

Finding ways to manage money better is not a task that must be undertaken alone. This is especially the case considering all the tools and resources available online that can help you, specifically online calculators. Part of managing money better is learning when to take advantage of a bargain, and nothing beats free service.

Do you use any online calculators to assist with your finances? Which ones?

See my disclaimer.

Getting Things for Free (Or Nearly), The Oat Test, and Teeth Strengthening

You know me. I totally am not a deal blogger, because I think in general deal blogs often encourage consumerism, because its like, "hey- this sale is only for today and tomorrow, and this thing is only a THIRD its original price- so why not get it?" when really, even though its cheaper than it was originally, its still something you don't need and still is a waste of money, and encourages you to make impulse purchases instead of mulling over a purchase for a bit to see if that's how you want to spend your money.

That said, this post is about a deal. And here's why.

The last time I had oats I was doubled over in pain for 12 hours. My stomach did NOT forgive me for that. I decided that I must be intolerant to oats the same way many gluten sensitive people are.
But then I read more, and I discovered that most oats are heavily contaminated by gluten, so its very possible that I wasn't reacting to the oats themselves, only to the gluten that it was contaminated with. To know if it was oats I was sensitive to or just to the gluten contamination, I looked to buy certified gluten free oats, or certified gluten free oat flour.

Gluten free oats here cost nearly 7 dollars a pound. Gluten free oat flour costs 14 dollars per pound. Yes, seriously. That's approximately what a T-bone steak costs here per pound. And T-bone steaks aren't cheap here...

Yea, I couldn't justify buying gluten free oats just to test it out...

Friday, February 10, 2012

Great Gluten Free Whole Grain Bread

I've never been a bread eater. In fact, there's a picture of me at my wedding holding the ceremonial loaf of bread that I was supposed to eat, and pulling a face, because I DID. NOT. WANT to have to eat that bread. I didn't like bread!!
(I wonder, if maybe, my body was subconsciously telling me that bread was not good for me.)
But either way, even though I never liked bread, now that I'm off gluten, now I just get such cravings for bread, which I can't easily have...
I mean, there are plenty of gluten free bread recipes  out there, but many call for ingredients that are either too expensive (like almond flour) or that I can't get where I live (like sorghum flour or garfava flour or quinoa flour) or that I won't use because of health reasons (soy flour)... And then even when you do come across a recipe for a bread that calls for ingredients you have, there's quite a good chance that your bread will come out terribly. Oh my, just memories of those truly disgusting bread attempts...

Anyhow, I made this bread based on the recipe I got from Wheatless Foodie with my own alterations, and I made it three times already and it tastes pretty great! And the best thing is, it tastes decent even when cooled off, but as with all gluten free breads, it tastes good warm.
And once the bread starts to get old and stale, you can use it to make homemade gluten free bread crumbs or french toast!

Gluten Free Whole Grain Bread

Thursday, February 9, 2012

What To Do When Food Prices Are Icky...

You might have wondered why I haven't posted pictures and summaries of my shopping trips lately. I've wondered that myself...
On Tuesday, I went to the grocery store, telling myself "This time I won't let my readers down. This time I will come home, lay out my groceries for a picture, share how much I spent and what I bought and why."
But I didn't.
You know why?
Because when I saw the bill, I was not pleased.
It wasn't low.
And it wasn't because I bought a ton of stuff.
Its just that the food prices were way too icky.
I used to shop at my grocery store on Tuesdays because they'd have loss leaders on Tuesday where I'd be able to get vegetables for 12 cents a pound.
Yea, none of that this week. The cheapest veggies were 25 cents a pound, and there weren't many for that price either. Only cabbage, carrots, onions, beets, and potatoes. And only a 5 pound limit of each of those veggies as it is.
Great. Everything else was much more expensive.
Now what...

So yea, that's what this post is about. How to manage when food prices are icky. What to do when you don't like the prices that currently are in the store.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Fun Frugal (and Educational) Game For the Whole Family

Something like this can be the basis of a really fun game.
Read on.
Wouldn't it be nice if there was a game you could play without needing to spend any money on any equipment, that was fun, in which everyone in the family could participate? Wouldn't it be great if this activity not only was fun, but also was educational? Wouldn't it be awesome if this game could take up a fews minutes if that's all you had time for, but could be continued for longer periods of time and still not get too old?

Well, fortunately, there's this one game that fulfills all the above, which we can call “Mystery Game” for now. But before we get to it, one thing is for sure. We all know that scrabble is among the most popular, group games you can play with family and never get bored. It’s been around since the 1930s, yet it never gets old. But over the years, the word-finder game has evolved into various versions that are even more fun, the most popular one being Words with Friends. The best part about this latter version is that whenever you’re stuck and can’t seem to create a word that will earn you high scores against a competitive opponent, you can always rely on the words with friends tool to help you out. With this online tool, you won’t have to pass when it’s your move (which could cost you a win). While it can come to your rescue when you hit a wall during a game, this tool doubles up as a practice tool and helps you improve both your gaming skills and your word power. Talk about killing several birds with one stone!

Now, did we mention a “Mystery Game” somewhere? I didn't make it up, nor do I even know its name, but its provided us with entertainment many a time. I play it with my 2 and 4 year old sons when they are bored and acting up because of it and I don't want to make a mess. I played it with my boys when I was nursing my baby on a shopping trip and was offered a private room in which to nurse more comfortably and I didn't want my boys to start playing with the computers and equipment that was in that room but didn't want them to get whiney either. I've played it with older kids as well. And ok, maybe not every adult would enjoy playing it, but its something akin to Charades in that its not too jeuvenille for adults to play. I, for the record, do find it enjoyable to play.

So, how do you play it?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Hearth and Soul Blog Hop

Hearth & Soul Hop
Welcome to this week's edition of the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop, where each week, cooks from around the globe share their mos+t delicious, nourishing, and heart warming recipes. The cooking carnival where you come to share your best kept cooking secrets, those recipes with the magic ingredient in it called "Soul Spice"-  the made from scratch recipes that you make with love to feed your family, friends, and loved ones.

My co-hosts for the blog hop are:
Alea of Premeditated Leftovers,
Swathi of  Zesty South Indian Kitchen
and April of The 21st Century Housewife

Favorites from last week:
Carrot Ginger Soup- Carrots are cheap and in season, and ginger is very medicinal... I think I might be making this for supper tonight...
Beet, Apple, Orange, and Pear Smoothie- Such an interesting combination of foods, but it sure looks delicious! And I love that its all seasonal produce and dairy free!
Eggplant Szechuan Style- I always loved Chinese restaurant eggplant dishes, but never was able to satisfactorily recreate the dish at home. This looks like it might work, but I'll have to replace the calamansi extract with lemon juice. (Yes, I had to google calamansi since I had no clue what it was.)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Letting Go of the Idea of Perfection

I have a secret to tell you.
I am not that different from the All American Housewife- the picture perfect soccer mom with her perfectly manicured hair, nails, and lawn, and stylishly decorated house. I like many of the same things, and maybe in a dream world I would have many of the same things as her.

But... I think one of the most important things I've learned/have been working on since adopting a more frugal and greener lifestyle is to just let go... Letting go of my dreams of perfection.
Because... face it- perfection is NOT normal. Its not natural.
Perfection often is the byproduct of assembly line style mass production.
Perfection often is the byproduct of chemicals and other tampering with nature...
Perfection often is dreadfully expensive.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Mock Tuna Salad Recipe (Chickpea Based)

I wish I could take credit for this really awesome recipe, but I can't. My friend, Debbie, knowing about my site, my love of cooking, and my love of delicious frugal recipes, as well as my recommendation to use legumes as a frugal protein source thought I'd like this recipe, and she hit the nail on the head with her recommendation. This spread is so yummy, I eat it by the spoonful and haven't managed to save enough ever to have leftovers. Its also loved by my kids and all the guests I've served it to.
This recipe uses chickpeas to make a spread that tastes pretty similar to tuna salad. I don't know about with you, but where I live canned tuna fish ends up being pretty expensive per can and especially per pound; chickpeas are much cheaper, especially if you soak and cook your own dried chickpeas. Even if you're not a legume lover, there's a good chance you'd like this, as it doesn't taste very "beany", and really does taste like tuna salad, surprisingly!

Mock Tuna Salad Recipe

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Easy Homemade Nursing Pads Tutorial

I've mentioned in the past that I have an oversupply of milk, and the overactive letdown that comes along with it. That makes nursing pads pretty much a necessity for me, unless I want two embarrassing telltale wet spots appearing on my shirt throughout the day.
Before Lee was born, I ordered cloth diapers from the US, and together with my order, I purchased cloth nursing pads. Suffice it to say, those nursing pads were absolute garbage (that's a euphamism for the less polite word I would use to describe them) and did not work in the slightest...
So, of course, I ended up being forced to spend a fortune on disposable nursing pads... because going without simply isn't an option (so long as I want to stay dry)... and all the local disposable nursing pads are outrageously expensive.

That is, until I figured out how to make my own reusable nursing pads that work very well, even better than the disposable ones, and they cost me NOTHING to make.

How did I make them? Easy as pie!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Foraging Shepherd's Purse and Homemade Shepherd's Purse Tincture Recipe

I think I'd heard of shepherd's purse for the first time on a pregnancy forum, discussing ways to shorten postpartum bleeding. It was touted as a terrific cure for that as well as problematic menstrual cycles,and that you could buy it at any pharmacy that carried natural medicines. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that this "miracle herb" actually is a plant that grows locally and around the globe, and is very easy to find, and on top of that, it's also used as an edible green?

I wanted to make some shepherd's purse tincture to take during my postpartum period so that I wouldn't bleed for months on end like I did after Ike's birth, and I found one lone plant growing about 2 blocks from my house, which I immediately took home and researched how to turn it into a tincture, which I then did.

When I wanted to make more tincture, I looked for more plants but couldn't find any... until I hit the jackpot when I discovered about 6 plants growing near the curb in front of my house, and then... another million more in the empty dirt filled expanse in front of my house...

So, how do you identify shepherd's purse?