Saturday, January 04, 2014

Naming that Cheapo #CookBook ( #frugal #recipes #budget #vote #poll )

Combing (sort of) with this post is my one on The Soup Diaries.

I need a name for my frugal cookbook. While I know the meals in it won't be 7 courses with prime rib on the menu, I know they'll be filling. The change in food purchasing could be drastic for us, but it was the one place I knew it was possible to save budget money. Moving into a larger home this year, while it's added inside space and privacy for growing children, it's over doubled our living costs. The budget has to be reeled in before I have too much month and way too little money.

Earlier, I posted on my Facebook Profile that I was at a loss as to what to name this book. Some great friends came to the rescue with some suggestions. Now the problem is, I can't decide which to name the book. 

That's where I'm hoping you will come in. Vote in the sidebar for the title you like best. Remember you can only vote ONE time, so pick your favorite. I'll announce the title once the poll closes.

Poll is over to your left at the top. It closes in the afternoon on January 11. :)

Join me on #Facebook for the 2014 #QuestionOfTheDay #QOTD

Today's question (the first of the new year) is posted and I'd love for everyone to join me. The daily questions will all be FAMILY FRIENDLY as is the facebook page. They will cover kids, homes, parenting, and life in general. I hope you'll join me. Like Facebook Page

For different questions and random chatter that you won't find on the page, you can friend me on my profile as well. Friend Me

And don't worry. You're welcome to do both. You don't have to choose one or the other.

Coming Soon ~ The Soup Diaries ( #recipes #soup )

I don't know about everyone else, but I love soup. I honestly could eat it daily (except I'd probably gain 50 pounds a month). Soup is the one dish, that I'll eat, be full, and still go grab another bowl ~ and then even a third ~ no matter how stuffed I am.

So, what is The Soup Diaries? It's going to be a compilation of all my favorite soup recipes. Often I've added a twist from a recipe I've found ages ago (or centuries ago).

Also, if you're looking for eating on the cheap (or at least as cheap as possible with the way prices have gone up), I'm also compiling recipes that I'll be using to save my budget this year.

Be watching.

P.S. I'll be looking for reviewers as well. So, if you're interested, watch so you can be first to get a copy.

Telling Tales ~1: Homeschooling

Each week I'm going to try to bring a little of my experience with homeschool right here. Some of you may have experienced it, some of you most likely will...some may be fortunate enough to have everything run smoothly. In any case, I do hope you'll join me each Friday for some tidbits.

(Please feel free to send me your myths...I'll see if I can prove them correct or incorrect in upcoming features -

Myth #1: My child won't be socialized if I homechool. They'll only have limited interaction with adults and siblings and will have trouble when it's time for them to graduate and fight the real world.

INCORRECT -- My children have become closer. They help one another with work. This bonding was something I didn't see when they were in school. They'd come home and try to stay as far away from one another as they could. Family is important. I hope they are forming a bond they will share throughout life.
As far as socialization, there are many option.
1) Events at your local libraries (generally free, but may cost up to $3 in my experience)
2) Children's Workshops at Home Depot (these generally have a fee, however, your child comes home with a neat created craft)
3) Local School Events (that's right. Did you know your child can't be kept from playing sports at the local schools? They also can't be kept from dances such as homecoming, prom and so on. Just be sure all your required paperwork is filled out at your school district office about your intent to homeschool and then sign them up)
4) Homeschool Groups (Larger areas have a variety of homeschool mom/children groups. Try to get into one or more. If there isn't one, look into rallying a couple moms to help you and start your own)
5) Play dates (these may seem "old fashioned" but they're still lots of fun. Bring a blanket, a picknic lunch and some friends to a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly park date)
6) Create your own events (partner up with several homeschool groups. Combine for the major events: Graduations, Homecoming, Prom and so on)

There are many more ideas and options other than those listed here. Feel free to share your own as well.

#Fabric #Recycle #Crafts ~2

Everyone loves fresh new sheets. Right? Typically, the ones I buy come in these neat little zippered plastic containers that most of us throw away.

I decided to pull the paper/cardboard inserts out of them and use them for fabric. While not the easiest way to store and get to them, since I don't yet have an actual craft room, this does the trick. They stay organized, dust free and sort of all in one location. Plus I'm saving the environment from throwing away more garbage.

Do you have neat ways that you recycle for your crafting projects? I'd love to hear them (I have a few more of these posts coming soon as well).

Friday, January 03, 2014

#Recipe ~ Rice Pudding

The thing I love about the Rice pudding recipe I'm going to share today is that it can be one of those "put in a jar" gifts.

Decorate a mason jar, attach directions and a note and you have a great gift from the heart.


1 1/4 C White Rice
3/4 C Raisins
3/4 C Currants
3/4 C Brown Sugar
3/4 C Sugar
1 1/2 tsp Cinnamon

(use the above if you wish to use it as a dry goods jar gift)
1/2 Gallon Milk

Place all dry ingredients into slow cooker, mixing them together well.
Heat milk to just boiling and pour over dry ingredients.
Stir well.
Cook on high for 3 hours, stirring occasionally.
Watch closely the first hour to keep rice from clumping.

#Sewing #Patterns #Crafts

 I was shopping for sewing patters. The idea is to make my kids each, in their favorite pattern of choice, a quilt, pillow cases, throw pillows and matching pajamas.

After looking at looking at several places and several online places, I decided it was really silly of me to pay what everyone is asking for a pattern when I could likely make my own. Now, before everyone runs away screaming at the thought, I just figured that I'd grab a pair of current pajamas, add a little to the length and allow slightly more elastic for the waste and use them as the base of my own pattern.

Along with allowing for the inseam and such.

Has anyone done this? I was thinking it would be rather simple to do for the t-shirt type night shirts and jersey type night shirts as well.

#Fabric #Recycle #Crafts ~1

I have kids and an item consuming washing machine (at times). Every once in awhile the kids will rip things. Every once in awhile the washer will as well.

I hadn't thought much on it until my son's favorite transformer blanket became the latest washing machine victim. When I told him we'd have to throw it away he cried, screamed and all out threw a huge fit.

So, I decided, since I recycle so many other things-why not recycle some of the blankets that are falling victim to kids, washing machine or just old age. Even with old age, only small portions tend to be worn.

The idea? I cut up his transformer blanket into pieces, leaving out the areas that had been torn. Now, I have several pieces of material to put into a new blanket.

Pictures coming soon.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

The Canning/Freezing/Planting Process - Year 1

 I am working my way through the list of items I should can this year. Mind you, I am starting it late and the garden isn't even ready to go yet. Add to that, it's the first time I've done a garden in the new area with the icky ground we have here. (It'll be a raised garden.)

I know that, no matter how productive I really need to be, some of what I want to accomplish in full summer number one here...simply won't be possibly...just realistically. Nothing to do with my time limitations or anything else.

The other thing is, I have kids that think they need to eat constantly. Also ones that pick and choose what meals they'll eat and which they'll choose to skip only to make something else hours later. It really doesn't help me get my budget in line at all.

Keep in mind, for a pancake household can go through an entire store purchased box of pancake mix. So, I have eaters. 

Peanut butter is really expensive where I live. So, to offset the cost for peanut butter, I figure I really need to not buy jelly. However, since I've yet to plant any bushes or trees, I'm likely not going to have any of my own stock to make jelly from. There is a small local farmer's market that I plan to check out this summer. Hopefully their prices won't be as scary as the fruits in the three grocery stores we have (all of which are at least 30 minutes one way to drive to...well, one is, the other two are around an hour).

Also, on some items, I know I can freeze rather than can. This does save time...but also causes the need to invest in something that can seal them up really well. Freezer burn tastes yucky. I also need to check freezer life as well as canning life on some of the items I'd like to stock my shelves with this year. This information, I'll share on the blog as well. 

I have to admit, we are a potato family. We're going through about 15 to 20 pounds of them a week. My kids love them as a side for most every meal. They also enjoy them as a snack. Or made into french fries. Realistically, I doubt I can even plant enough to keep us in potatoes just for the summer, let alone the winder months.

So, as you can see, there are things I have to admit failure on right at the start. I'd have to plant all my acres in potates to keep up with the amount my family eats.

Bread is another expensive item in our stores here ($2 a loaf is the cheapest). I have to make myself really work on keeping homemade bread readily available.

I'd definitely love to have enough corn, beans and tomatoes so that I don't need to buy any over the winter months. I'd also like to keep us in jelly through the winter and into the summer (even if this year I'm buying fresh from farmer's markets). I'm  hoping to do the same with squash.

I have chickens that I'm hoping will lay well before winter hits and that will allow me to cut back on purchasing eggs. Goat milk, I'm also hoping to steadily have by end of summer...that will stay flowing through winter. (Milk is $3 to $5 a gallon at any given time/store). 

One thing I am noticing is that start up costs are huge. But, once you have everything, hopefully, everything will run smoothly and there will be extra money left in the budget after the month is over.

I'm roughly planning for 30 weeks of needing canned items. This also may put us into a place of being out and having to buy for a time. However, with each year, I can make that improve. My logic is (these aren't actual numbers yet, only sample numbers): Now, this is assuming you have the space to plant. I did, but no longer will after my move. I'll have a very small area for a garden ~ and it'll be in direct sunlight.

(2014) If I plant --
5 rows of corn
5 rows of potatoes
3 rows of squash
3 rows of strawberries
3 rows of cabbage
3 apple trees
2 pear trees
3 blackberry bushes

I would increase yearly by 2 or 3 of everything (so eventually I'll have plenty extra to donate to food banks or to provide to my children as they get older and move away from home).

(2015) I would then plant --
7 rows of corn
7 rows of potatoes
6 rows of squash
6 rows of strawberries
6 rows of cabbage
6 apple trees
5 pear trees
6 blackberry bushes
then maybe add another item or two I'd love to have available fresh 
3 rows watermelon
3 orange trees
3 rows cucumbers

((**Remember, too, that some items you plant, you want to be sure you have some properly stored to use as seeds for the next year. This will also cut costs.**))

(2016) I would then plant --
10 rows of corn
10 rows of potatoes
9 rows of squash
9 rows of strawberries
9 rows of cabbage
9 apple trees
8 pear trees
9 blackberry bushes
I'd increase by 2 or 3 those items I chose to add the year before 
6 rows watermelon
6 orange trees
6 rows cucumbers
then maybe add another item or two I'd love to have available fresh
(onions, carrots, grape/muscadine vines, lettuce, blueberries, raspberries) 

At some point, of course, you will max out on increasing your numbers. That's when you've made it! 

For me, I need to locate local farmer's markets that aren't charging the same or more than store prices. Yes, for real. Here, during the corm festival, I got corn at the local grocers for less than they were selling it at the festival. Also, anything and everything home grown and home made will almost always cost you more around here.

So, I'll have to keep everyone updated on how I get around this and how much I can actually manage to plant in my small ~soon to be my~ yard.

#Sewing #Quilting and WalMart #Fabric

I stopped at Wal-Mart a few days ago and took a look at their fabric section. While it's not JoAnn's, it's not as bad as I thought it would be. They have a decent variety of different types of fabrics. To my surprise, they even have a section that included jelly rolls and other cut quilt fabrics. While not a huge selection, there are some there and it has grown from when they first introduced it. Here's to hoping it continues to grow.

Where do you purchase your fabric?

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Wordless Wednesday 1 ( #WordlessWednesday )

So, mine will likely not be so wordless, but I hope you'll stop by each week anyway :)

Latch Hook to Cross Stitch? #LatchHook #CrossStitch #Crafts

I was thinking about transferring some cross stitch projects to latch hook. Has anyone tried this? I'll have to find a bulk place to purchase the yarn and canvas (or whatever you call it). Any suggestions?

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a very safe and happy New Year. Here's wishing everyone a great 2014! 2013 went entirely too fast for me. I'm going to work harder on making every moment count this year and not let it slip away so quickly.

How are you celebrating? Anyone make resolutions?

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My First #Winner

This is for the Amazon $15 gift card. The winner was chosen by rafflecopter.

Congratulations to ~ Wanda C

I will be emailing you shortly.

Don't forget, the January Giveaway is already live. Be sure to check it out and watch for other giveaways.

2014 Birthday Club #birthday #cards #signup

So, I'd love to organize a birthday club for 2014. I know, it's really last minute. But if you're interested, please let me know. We'll do US only for now. However, if you are interested and you're a US resident willing to send to someone in another country, let me know. Also, if you're in another country and would like to be involved, let me know as well. Since this is my first year with this, I;m hoping it will grow. Also, be watching ~ as I'll be running a Christmas on as well.

Anyway, you're commitment? You tell me. Options are as follows:
1) Birthday card to 5 people
2) Birthday card to 10 people
3) Birthday card to all who sign up

Then I'll work out the details. Also, if there are more options, based on sign ups, I'll let everyone know.

Please use the linky list below to sign up. I'll be organizing and sending the details soon.

#Homeschool Step- By Step #1

Now I know I won't manage to hit on absolutely everything, but since a friend of mine is just beginning her homeschool journey, I'm going to give it a try and share as much information (and trial and error) as I can right here on the blog.

First: Know your state rules and laws. Also be sure to clarify if it's based on days or hours of study as a main. As a homeschooling parent, you must be well-informed and well-researched. There are some that pick (especially in some states) at homeschooling parents. You don't want to miss any information that you need to know.

For Arizona, there are two acceptable schedules: 5 day and 4 day school weeks (believe it or not, we even have some public schools using the 4 day school week).

In Arizona, they recommend 180 days for a 5 day schedule and 144 for a 4 day schedule. However, the ultimate "stick to" is the hours of study. 

In my state, the break downs are as follows (for hours needed per school year)
Grade K - 360
Grades 1-3 - 712
Grades 4-6 - 890
Grades 7-8 - 1068
Grades 9-12 - 720

So make sure you check with your sure you're getting your hours in and accurately documenting them. (I'll be sharing some of the ways I'll be documenting in later posts.) Some states require more documentation than others. Even if your state (like AZ) doesn't require a ton of paperwork, it's always in your best interest to do it. Have that complete record on the off chance that you'll one day need it.

Are you new to homeschooling? Start planning early. It's better to grab things you may not need than to get in the pattern of your homeschooling schedule and find that you don't have it.

By the way, you'll be able to find all the step by step posts for this series by clicking on the label "Homeschool Step By Step" 

Finally, is there a topic or concern you'd like to see addressed here? Please let me know. If I don't have the answer, I'll contact others and research until I find it.

#Sewing #Crafts

I am searching for some neat pajama patterns for the kids. I think I'm going to try making my own this week. I just have to figure out how to determine how much fabric I need. I don't want to piece them together. I love my pajamas and I'd live in them if I could. So, I was thinking, with the cold winters, it would be wonderful to have a large supply of really warm pajamas.

A thought - I have thought about quilt pajamas. How do you think they would look? I was thinking of piecing it together and then lining it and then adding backing. But, I do wonder if it would look to awkward. Although, they'd probably be warm.


Monday, December 30, 2013

Latch Hook #LatchHook #Crafts

While I'm on the locations hunt and where to shop ~~ anyone have any great locations for picking these up? They're really expensive where I am and since they seem to get partially done and then set aside (lol), I figure I should be cost conscience. Plus, I'd really like to build up my latch hook supplies.

Cross Stitch #CrossStitch #crafts

I really do need to add to my supply. DMC floss shopping is on the list as well as picking up some more needles. Anyone have favorite places for cross stitch shopping? It's been so long since I have. I'd also love to do it mostly online, if possible.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Homeschool Curriculum ( #homeschool #curriculum ) ~What are you looking for?

I've been working for a few years on developing my own home school curriculum. You know? The one where what you piece from here and there and the concepts you wish something would include are all rolled into one book/lapbook/study guide/etc that you create. :D

So, right now, I am asking if there's anything anyone is truly searching for. If so, and it's in my "knowledge reach," I'm happy to make sure it's included where it fits in.

Curriculum being worked on are grades K-12. My oldest will be graduating in a couple of years and she's decided that she really was offered a better education at home.

Again, if there's a grade level, topic, subject, etc that you'd love to see first, please let me know. As it will take me some time to get all the information and all my notebooks and binders of what worked for me ready to be shared.

#Craft #Gifts ~ Do you do them?

Do you make handmade gifts for people at holidays (or birthdays)? How well do they go over? Who do you decide to give them to (considering the time and effort placed into them)?

I'd love to hear who's on your craft gift list for 2014 and what you're planning on giving them.

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