Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Homemade Bed Buddy

I am always cold in the winter time and we keep our heat set fairly low to save on those bills. I've been meaning to make a "bed buddy" for quite some time and I finally made one this weekend! I didn't use a pattern or anything and it was so easy. I made a "pillow" out of a scrap of plain white fabric, filled it with white rice (not minute rice) and sewed it shut. I then made a removable case for it that can be washed. I just warm it in the microwave for about 2 minutes, then put it under the covers by my feet. It stays warm for quite a while and keeps my feet so nice and toasty. I love it! My girls both want one now. I wonder if these might make good frugal Christmas gifts for next year?

Easy Drop Cookies

This is such a quick and easy cookie recipe! It's not a big recipe, so if you have a big family they will eat them all up in a hurry. That works best for me because the more cookies left over, the more cookies I will eat! :)

2 eggs
2/3 Cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 Cup sugar
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Beat eggs with fork until well blended. Stir in oil, vanilla, and sugar until mixture thickens. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt; stir into oil mixture. Drop with teaspoon 2 inches apart on greased cookie sheet. Top with sugar or sprinkles. Bake 8 to 10 minutes.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Pizza Dough Recipe

Here's the recipe for the pizza dough I made this weekend. I actually found it at Biblical Womanhood and it is VERY good! I had been making a whole wheat crust prior to this, but Mike and the kids thought it was too "chewy". This recipe is now their favorite.
1 Tbsp. yeast
1 Cup warm water
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil or olive oil
2 1/2 Cups flour

I just dissolved the yeast in the water in my mixing bowl, added the rest of the ingredients and mixed. Then roll out your dough and press into a greased pan and add toppings. Bake at 450 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

My Favorite!

Have I mentioned lately how much I love my Kitchenaid mixer? It makes pizza dough the easiest thing in the world! I've had it for about 6 years and I'm sure I'll still be using it until the kids decide I can't be trusted around a stove. :) It's my very favorite kitchen appliance.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Walgreen's and CVS

I'm really excited about all the free makeup this week! Walgreen's has Jane cosmetics buy one get one free. I had a $2 coupon and found another $2 coupon at Money Saving Mom. I got eyeliner and lip gloss, both priced at$3.99 so with the buy one get one and the coupons, they were both free. I also had Walgreen's register reward coupons for the mascara so they were free too. I think I'm good on mascara for the next year and a half! :) The Benefiber was on sale for $4.99 and I had a $3 Walgreen's coupon from their Easy Saver catalogue and a $2 manufacturer coupon so it was free too. The Excedrin was on clearance for $2.87 and I had a $3 manufacturer's coupon...another freebie. The Walgreen's tissues together with the tissues and hand sanitizer I bought last week will earn a $10 mail in rebate. I'll get it on my Walgreen's gift card to get an extra 10%. The pencils were 6 for $1 and I got them so that I wouldn't have more items than coupons. I spent a total of $2.87 (I think , I know it was less than $3).

I usually shop at the Walgreen's closest to my house, but I decided to stop by the one close to church Wednesday night. A manager checked me out and I was hoping he wouldn't give me a hard time about my coupons. He was VERY nice and said he couldn't believe what good deals I was getting. Maybe it's worth it to schedule my Walgreen's visit on church days.

I've had a few people ask me about how much I keep in my medicine cabinet and wonder if I use everything. Most of the things I buy we DO use. When I have extras I pass them on to my mom or mother-in-law. For example, we don't really use indigestion remedies, but if I can get them for free I'll go ahead and just pass them on. Both my parents and in-laws use Mylanta and Tums. I also was told by our pediatrician that pain relievers and other pill type over the counter medicines are good for at least a year past their expiration date. I've never put this to the test, but it makes me worry less about everything expiring before we can use it. Most of what I've bought this year since I started CVS and Walgreen's shopping doesn't expire until 2009. Plus, when I started this in October I had one bandaid and some Calamine lotion in my medicine cabinet and that's about it. :) I feel so much better knowing that when we need it, it's there.

I did my CVS shopping in 2 transactions. I had $3 in ECBs, so the first thing I bought was the Sambucol. It was $12.99 and I had a $2 off $10 coupon, so after my my ECBs I spent $7.99 and got $10 in ECBs. I then bought the razor and deodorants using a $2 manufacturer's coupon on the razor, a $3 off $15 coupon and my $10 in ECBs. I spent $2.97 and have $14 in ECBs for next time. I'm really glad I got the Sambucol and I've already given it to the kids. Strep throat and the flu are running rampant around town and I'm hoping this will help keep them from getting sick.

See more Super Savings Saturday ideas here.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Menu Notebook

Menu planning has helped me SO much in trying to lower our grocery bills. I can tell you from experience how hard it is to stay within your budget if you don't have a plan!

The notebook in the picture was originally my Home Management Notebook, but now I have two notebooks. This one is devoted to my menus, recipes, and coupons. One section is for menus and grocery lists, one for recipes, and one for the latest Walgreens and CVS sales flyers and lists of "deals". In the recipe section I keep all those handwritten recipes from friends and family and recipes I've printed off the internet. The plastic page protectors keep them from getting wet or stained while I'm cooking.

A great place to get menu planning ideas is Hillbilly Housewife. She has lots of great recipes (many of which are in my notebook), a $45 emergency menu that will feed 4 to 6 people 3 meals a day and a low cost $70 menu that also feeds 4 to 6. I've used both of these menus and they are great.

I also keep 4 weekly menus in my notebook. These are just fairly simple, low cost menus for weeks when I just don't have the time or the "want to" to come up with a new menu. I keep the grocery list for that menu on the computer so all I have to do is print it up, add any extras we might need and head out to the store. This is probably the single thing that has most helped me stick to my grocery budget and avoid those last minute trips to McDonald's.

When I DO have the time, I try to plan my menus around what's on sale. Say there's a good sale on potatoes and chicken, then I'll look those up in my cookbook collection and come up with some menus based on that. There are also tons of recipes available online. If the sale is really good, I will sometimes go over my budget so that I can stock up and then later I can come in under budget.

Another great resource is Money Saving Mom. She has lots of great tips on saving money on groceries and menu planning. I've been menu planning and feeding a big family for years and I am newly inspired by her ebook.

It's also a good idea to look at your calendar when you're planning your menu. If you know one particular day is going to be extra busy, plan to cook something in the crockpot that day. I have 2 meetings tonight so I have soup in the crockpot and homemade bread rising.

Do you have any menu planning tips or notebook ideas? I would love to hear them!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Cotton Dishcloths

I love to knit these little cotton dishcloths. For a novice knitter like me, it's fun to work on a project that can be completed quickly and easily. I like to be able to see "results". These are fun to give away too. My mother and I have made homemade soap together a few times and I've given a bar or two of soap in a little basket with a couple of these dishcloths. I like to use them too. They seem to last a little longer than store bought dishcloths and they have a good texture for scrubbing. Just don't use a red one with any type of bleach cleaner. I know that from personal experience! :)

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Best Pumpkin Bread Ever

I usually make pumpkin bread several times between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but today is the first time I've made it in quite a while. Now I remember the reason...it's SO good I can't keep my hands off it! It really is the best pumpkin bread you will ever put in your mouth.

The recipe comes from my best friend (who comments here as retrohousewife). She is a GREAT home style cook and many of my best recipes come from her.

Best Pumpkin Bread Ever
1 can pumpkin
2 sticks butter, softened
3 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cloves

I just put all the ingredients in my electric mixer and mix until thoroughly blended (so easy). Pour into greased and floured loaf pans or muffin tins. It makes 2 large loaves, or 24 muffins. Bake muffins for 20 to 30 minutes and loaves for 45 minutes to an hour at 350 degrees.

Years ago (I think I was pregnant with Cindy at the time) I was making this while talking to retrohousewife on the phone. I made sure to set out all the spices so that I didn't forget one. I didn't want to mess up the recipe because I was on the phone. Well, guess what? After I pulled what should have been muffins out of the oven I realized I forgot a crucial ingredient. One of the spices you ask? No...the FLOUR!! I realized that I can NOT follow a recipe and talk on the phone at the same time. Too much for my little brain to handle. :)

Friday, January 4, 2008

Today's Apron

I'm a little late with a Christmas apron, but I thought I would show it anyway. It's another of my grandmother's homemade aprons. It's done with fabric paint. I completely forgot to get it out and use it this year.

Cindy took this picture for me so I didn't have to try to get one in the mirror. I thought she did a pretty good job!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, Children with Snowman
Happy New Year, Children with Snowman

Happy new year to all of you! We had the traditional Southern black-eyed peas with cornbread for lunch today. It's cold here, so the kids have built a fort in the living room with blankets and chairs and we are sitting around watching football. I finished all my Christmas thank you notes and they are stamped, addressed and ready to mail tomorrow. It's been a nice, quiet start to 2008.

Did any of you do some after Christmas clearance shopping? I went to Target yesterday and all their Christmas items were 75% off. I bought some wrapping paper, gift tags, ornaments, and a star tree topper. I have never been good about shopping year 'round for Christmas, but I'm going to try to be better about that this year. It will be so much easier, both on my schedule and my pocketbook to spread it out.

Speaking of schedules, I have a new home keeping notebook and I'll be sharing some of that with you this week. Have a great day!