Thursday, April 10, 2014

Infused Simple Syrup

In the beginning of the summer I bought a 6 pack of herbs by Drunken Botanist.  My 6 pack included two mint plants, one lavender, one anise, one scented geranium and one Angelia.  They smelled so darn good! At $9.99 a pack it was a high price but as long as the plants last a long time I was okay with it.  Not only are they great smelling but they also can be infused in simple syrups! I had great intentions ha ha. Well I just now got around to doing something with them. 

I ripped off some leaves and the instructions say to add 50/50 water and sugar ratio. Feel free to  use any herb you like.   So I grabbed my organic sugar, water and my herbs and headed into the kitchen.  I did just as it said. 2 cups of water with 2 cup of organic sugar. One herb I did't have many leaves so I made a small batch.  Heat mixture with herbs till water comes to a boil and sugar has dissolved.  I then turned off the heat and covered with a lid.  Let set for one hour.  

Once cooled I poured each simple syrup into their own mason jar. I made sure to strain all the leaves out and put lids on them.  Again I let them completely cool before putting them in the fridge.  Also make sure to write on each one what it is because they all look the same.  Here is the end results. Beautiful golden colored simple syrups. 

Now go buy some carbonated water, add as little or much as your simple syrup as you want and enjoy your all natural soda! 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Want Not Waste Not

You've heard the old expression "Waste not want not" right? Well in my case its want not waste not. I have called the paper service many times to tell them not to deliver this weekly food paper.  Yet each Tuesday this shows up on my driveway. UURRRRR!!!! So instead of just tossing them in the recycling I put them to use. I don't use coupons and this thing is loaded with them.  Coupons are usually for processed unhealthy food and we don't eat that stuff.  Don't get me wrong I still look just in case! And before you go emailing me I already asked around and no one wanted them.

If I get up early I can get the paper dry and not soaked with water. It's much easier to use when not wet! I simply open this paper up and make two piles.  One pile for glossy paper and the plastic bag.  The other pile is for non glossy paper and ad's that cannot be burned.  

I put the few glossy items and plastic bag into the recycling because I have yet to find a use for them. The non glossy items I stack and collect in a area that you cannot see in my living room.  I will use these for starting my fire in the winter months and for making paper pots for my garden.  It's April now so by the time the winter months come I will have a good stack to work with.

Now when you get junk in the mail or an annoying paper that won't go away, think of these things.  Use what you can before you just toss in the recycling.

What things do you use extra papers for? Comment here or on my Facebook and join the conversation!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Don't Throw In The Towel

We've all been there.  You give your bathroom a make over or completely overhaul it like we did.  This means that you need to buy new bathroom linens right?  There goes another $100+  towards the bathroom debt.  Not me! 

If you have closed cabinets you can simply hide them and no one would be the wiser.  But as you can see we have open shelves and I had to get creative.  I only did two things and each thing saved me a bundle of money.

1.  I kept all my white linens and folded them so you can't see the colors.  Most I have had for years, some were given to me by my mama when she bought new ones but also some were gifts.  They are in excellent shape and I see no sense in buying new linens just so they match my new bathrooms decor.  

2.  I picked up some grey towels at my favorite thrift store that sells by the pound.  These towels are a major brand and are made really well.  I simply bought them and washed them on hot water.  Used towels are no big deal to me. I would much rather pay 50 cents each than pay $10-$15 for each towel brand new. Not only is this saving me money but I'm also avoiding new resources, packaging and it keeps me out of big box stores.  Woot! 

Now go check my Facebook page out and join the conversations were having!!
We did our bathroom 100% DIY style which saves a ton of money! 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Rain Rain Go Away!

I'm a Oregonian inside and out.  We love our rain.  Heck we don't even use umbrellas unless its a monsoon outside.  Oh and flip flops? Those we wear all year long.  But as you can see we have lots of water.  A few weeks ago we had a week of snow and the news channels said we were in a drought and there was no need to worry about flooding.  Well a few days ago my husband was checking under our house to make sure the gas guy would have no issues putting our gas line in for our new stove.  We had a little bit of water at that time under our home.  Well 2 days later he checked again and we had a lake. 

Ive noticed water pooling under our deck for a little while but honestly our backyard has always done this each Spring.  No red flags here.  

Our sidewalk is old and has looked this way forever.  But its never looked like a island. 

So my husband quickly went and picked up a temperary pump for under our house.   Since we cannot fix any foundation issues till the rain goes away we just needed something to be a quick fix.  Here is this blue hose which shoots out dirty water from under our home.  Yesterday I was holding this tube and letting water shoot out pointed towards our neighbors drainage hole.  Then I had my daughter hold it while I dug a trench to allow water to flow to the drainage hole.  This family is a team when it comes to fixing things. 

Well everything seemed fine till this afternoon when my husband came home from work.  The tube had fallen back under our house and water was coming back in. UURRRR!!!!! So we picked up another tube and came up with a different plan.   Here you can see the tube goes directly out to the front of our house and down our driveway.  

What does all this mean? It means maybe or maybe not will I get my new stove up and working this week.  Look how pretty and sad it looks.  We are doing all the work ourselves except for this gas line which may or may not be able to be put in.  If the gas guy says its too wet then we can't do anything till the rain goes away.  So for now I cook in my torn up kitchen.

So if you need me I will be doing my own rain dance singing "Rain rain go away!".

Monday, March 3, 2014

Green Review- Celebrating Home Bean Pot

Just look how beautiful this is.  I'm usually one to love colors in nature such as browns, blues and greens. But this thing was calling out my name. Swoon!  This is called the Celebration Bean Pot and is made by Celebrating Home.  My wonderful longtime friend Tonya sent me this beautiful piece of art for free in an exchange for a review.  Yes I said it. ART!!  There was no talking me into this at all.  Part of saving money is cooking food from scratch the easiest way possible.  This fits the bill!!!  

Just a little background about Tonya. Ive known Tonya since we were 12 years old in 6th grade.  If your counting that's 24 years.  On a side note Tonya holy moly that's a long time!  She is one of the nicest people I know to date. She grew up in Oregon but is now located in Utah.  Anytime I think of her I get a smile on my face.  She oozes sweetness. Literally.  

A huge part of my reason to review this is to concert easy to do recipes into healthy easy to do recipes.  Our challenge is making them dairy free, organic as possible and less packaging. Challenge accepted!
 I simply went onto her Facebook page and found the  recipe "Bean Pot Cowboy Casserole" to try out.  How I save money is looking at recipes and thinking of what I have on hand.  No running up to the store for ingredients! Creativity is using what you have.  

Another reason I wanted to try this out was for the travel Oval Bean Pot Basket.  Its made out of metal and sea grass which  made my "plastic free" self squeal like a little girl.  I can now cook a healthy meal and take it anywhere I want.  Unlike other pots (starts with a P and ends with a Chef) that are expensive ($89) and have no way of traveling with it.   With Celebrating Home you can get the Bean Pot and the Oval Bean Pot Basket for less than the cost of other stoneware pots. Once again a no brainer for me.  

Here you can see Ive changed a few things.  Instead of using a can of mushroom soup I made my own roux by using mushroom stock, flour and butter.  Learn how to make a roux here.  Remember you can add any milk type product you want to keep it dairy free.  I used flax milk as shown in the picture.  But by all means use what you like.  Just make sure it has no sugar in it. 

I also substituted kidney beans for my own black beans.  You could literally use any beans you like in this recipe. I make my own to have less waste and more importantly save me money. One can of organic beans cost about $1 when you make your own and it is only about 50 cents. Its a no brainer! 

Another substation I made was the Mrs.Dash.  I bought Bragg seasoning mix years ago and when it ran out I looked at the ingredients and noticed I have all these spices.  Why buy more when I can make my own. Its so easy peasy! Just put a teaspoon of every spice you own into a mortar and pestle. Grind till its a course mixture and put into a container easy to sprinkle the spices out. In my case it was my Bragg spice bottle.  Done! 

I also want to mention our meat portions.  In the picture you can see I only used half a pound of ground beef.  Yes you read that correct.  Half a pound! We cut our meat budget in half just but doing this small step.  You might be thinking how can one do this??  It's easier than you think.  I just add more vegetables or grains to our meals.

Last but not least we didn't add any dairy cheese at all.  Because of the DIY mushroom soup I added it really didn't need any cheese. It was thick and creamy all on its own.  But once done we did add nutritional yeast.  I find it in the bulk section for about $6-$7 a pound.  You can buy it in a shaker like shown in the picture but its way more expensive.  I reuse my original container over and over again because its easier to sprinkle onto your food.  We sprinkle this onto any food we feel cheese would be a good flavor to add.  Which is pretty much everything! 

Just look how beautiful these colors are! Oh and the smell was so wonderful! 

Once out of the oven it looked like this.  Let it sit out for 15 minutes and it will continue to thicken up.  So you might be thinking "Did everyone like this recipe?" Lets just say it was quiet during dinner because everyone was stuffing their faces. It was that good.  If its quiet at dinner, that's a good sign.  No one asked about where the cheese was.  No one complained about the lack of meat.  No one complained at all.  Well one did but it was because they burned their tongue because they couldn't wait to eat it.  I'm taking that as a good sign! 

Now here is my favorite part of this bean pot.  It can be washed in the dishwasher!!!! I used a sponge to get the chunks of food out and then it went right into the dishwasher and came out spic and span!

-Its oven, dishwasher, microwave and freezer safe
-This pottery is fired at over 2,000 degrees
-You can cook, serve and store in the same container. Less clean up!
-Non-stick naturally. No need to spray with oils. Once food is out simply add a tiny bit of water to the          still warm pot.  It will loosen up any food and easily rinse out.  
-Once cooked it will stay warm for 3 hours
-Once frozen it will keep cold for 3 hours
-4 qt capacity. This sizes feeds my family of 6 easily.
-Has a 5 start rating. Highest quality pottery available in the marketplace today!

My Review
I'm giving this Celebrating Home Bean Pot a HUGE thumbs up!  Easy to use and easy to clean up.  LOVE IT!!!!
One small thing I didn't like was that there was a tiny bit of plastic in the box it came in. I can see why because its pottery.  It all was recycled easily! I keep my cardboard boxes that the actual pottery was in so I can easily store it when not in use.  This was a tiny thing compared to its uses and amazing quality. I'm okay with that.

Now here are the details

To find which bean pot makes you happy go to Celebrating Home. There are so many beautiful Bean Pots to choose from! Also lots of cookbooks and other travel accessories such as beautiful totes to carry your Bean Pot in.

Looking for new and yummy recipes to use in your new bean pot? Check out Celebrating Home Bean Pot Cookbook. Don't forget to cater these recipes to your likings.  All can be converted to dairy free or even gluten free.  Use what you have, whats in season and last but not least HAVE FUN WITH IT!!!! 

Also don't forget to check out Tonya's Celebrating Home Bean Pot Facebook page  where you can chat with others, find new recipes from Tonya or her fans, ask Tonya anything you are curious about and to get inspired.  FYI- I didn't even get into the dessert part of this amazing product. So many yummy amazing recipes to choose from!

Have a question about this amazing bean pot?
You can find Tonya easily!
email her at
or call her at (877)269-6126

Note-I was sent this product for free in exchange for a free review. This blog is non profit in every aspect and all reviews are written in my honest opinion good or bad.  I am not swayed by any company or person.  Any review of mine is honest 100% truth.  And this is why people like my reviews.  I make not one cent off this product. Not even links! I turn down products all the time and only review things relevant to this blog. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Kitchen Renovation DIY Style Part 1

Okay here is a before picture for you. Look at that retro flooring. Looks retro and pretty from here but trust me when you get close there is nothing pretty about it. YUCK.  We opened up the wall to the left as you can tell from the floor.  This kitchen was closed in and in fact we have the original two doors we could hang back up if I want some quiet time in the kitchen.  Its not 1967 anymore so the doors stay off! My husband and father in law and pretty handy and this project was done quickly.  They have a bit of work left but its already added more light into my kitchen and that makes me happy.  This space was used as my girls art area only because we didn't know what to do with it. We already have a dining room and the size was just weird.  Now its open to walk through and my husband will be adding shelves to make a media area.  It will store books and hopefully keep our personal stuff organized. Right now a basket holds everything and its not organized one bit.

As you can see our island is emptied and the doors are off. This is where were putting my new gas stove in.  Most expensive thing in this whole project is my gas stove. I use cast iron so gas was a must!  Only part we will not be doing ourselves is adding a gas line.  We leave that for the professionals.  Counters will be butcher block and cabinets will be kept and painted.  I had stored all my glassware, pots and pans in there.  Had is the key word. 

Another thing we want to do is take out some walls in our laundry pantry room.  This room sits right off the kitchen.  This was actually a very tiny toilet room but we removed the toilet and added shelves. The toilet room made no sense to us. It was WAY too small and we already have 2 other bathrooms. I think this was the ladies kitchen toilet so she wouldn't have to leave or be seen back when this home was built. Remember those two doors I told you about in the kitchen? My home is a 1967 home made to entertain.   It functions a little right now holding all my food.  I literally have my own store here.  I buy things in large quantities and years of retail has made me even straighten and face everything.  I like a organized pantry where I can see what I have.  If I have only a few of something I keep an eye while shopping and stock up again if I find a good sale.  Recently I added that tablecloth turned curtain to keep my dogs hair from floating in there.  Yep not only is this a laundry and pantry room but its also where my dog sleeps.  See what I mean?  I need to fix this room.  Its bugging me! 
This is another part of my laundry pantry room. But this was a shelf here when I bought the house.  I removed the door from this as well because every time you were looking for something one of my girls would open the door and hit that door. Who puts a door behind a door!!!! Here is where I store more food and all my glass jars.  I will be adding another curtain as soon as I buy one.  My dog has welcomed herself to a few things including a unopened container of chocolate covered sunflower seeds which I found puked up all over the backyard.  She is fine now promise. But as you can see I need to do something here.  

Here is another view of my kitchen which shows another point that I hate about it.  I have one track light that works. Oh I have other track lights but bulbs now days are bigger and when we replace them they get stuck and will not come out. And this is why we have one light.  Then we have this large window which lets the most light in.  Its still not enough as you can tell by the picture. Its so dark in here! Dark cabinets, dark floor and no lighting. I'm starting to hate my kitchen.  

Remember all my glassware,  pots and pans?  Yep look at my counters. This is the only place I can store them.  I swear I'm not that much of a pig. A little but not that much.  That stove we are giving away because it works still.  In its place we are putting our fridge.  My husband will be doing the waterline and work.  In the fridges place will be shelves for storing my cookbooks and such.  We will also be putting our microwave and large appliances such as my bread machine etc.  

Doing most the work DIY style it will take some time.  So until its done I have to put up with this.  Thats lots of sanding and prepping.  

Which means I have to put up with this.  DUST!!!! Its everywhere. 

Stay tuned for more pictures and updates on my kitchen.  
Peace and love to all.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Skills to Survive

Recently Ive been thinking about what my daughters should know before they move out.  I have a soon to be 16 year old who will be off to college in a few years and could really use some great skills to take with her.  I asked you what skills one should know when leaving your parents house and you came through with flying colors. Thank you for that! But of course I added my own slight twist to it.  

Enjoy this list of tips and skills you should know how to do before moving out of your parents home.

You should know how to cook a few things from scratch.  Nothing complicated just some simple things like making gravy, taco seasoning or even just soup. You should know how to use measuring cups and spoons along with how to read a recipe.  Also learn how to put a grease fire out safely.  

From freezing, canning and drying. There is a way to preserve food no matter what you have or don't have.  Learn how to keep food fresh and you will have fresh food always.  Watching a family member or friend do it and get lots of tips you won't find in books.  

Learning to bake food and you will always have something to eat. I'm not perfect at it and in fact I'm still learning how to do it.  It takes a little bit of ingredients and some time but its worth it. The end results taste so much better.  

From making your own powdered or liquid laundry soap, how to use a washing machine or dryer and even how to iron your clothes. You must know how to do these things because you can't afford to pay someone else to do it.  Invest in a wooden clothes rack and save money on energy.  

Protecting your living space is most important no matter what season it is.  Spring time is a great time to clean your carpets. Rent a carpet cleaner from somewhere or borrow a friends. Try dusting every inch of your living space.   Open up your windows & clean the tracks out. Try your hand at conserving water and energy all year long.  Winterize your home  tips will save you lots of money on repairs. This will save you a ton of money over the year.  Energy and water cost can easily go down with simple tips and tricks. 

It doesn't take much effort if you do it as you go. Seriously quit being a slop! Pick up your laundry, clean the counters with soap, take the trash out often, vacuum the carpet or sweep the floors and clean your toilets.  Keep your home clean and you will get sick less and your home will smell fresh and clean. And not to get into much detail but since you will probably be in college its a good idea to learn how to unclog a toilet. Who knows why people put things in there but they do.  Remember to not use toxic cleaners! Go DIY some simple green cleaners and get on with your bad self. You know you want to.  

Learn how to make a budget and keep on track with your budget. Remember its not only about having a budget but keeping within your budget.  Everything else goes into savings and stays there.  This is a hard lesson to learn when you are young but later on in time you will need that savings for one reason or another.  Its all about being prepared now and down the road.  Learn this simple tip and you will be good for a long time.  

Make a list of what you need not what you want.  Keep your list with you and shop at stores you know have good prices.  In fact keep a log what you buy on a regular basis and keep track of where the prices are low at certain stores.  Keep in mind how far each store is and it its worth it even after you waste gas to drive there.  
Remember to always buy in bulk! Less packaging and better prices! Stick to the basics.  Pasta, grains, beans and root vegetables are always good to have on hand because they keep for a really long time.  
Stick to the outer aisles of the stores because that's where the fresh food is.  Shop in the early afternoon weekdays because this is when stores mark down their products to make way for fresher items. You can always freeze things (even dairy!).  
READ LABELS!!! If it has lots of ingredients then its probably not good for you. Example-tomatoes should just have tomatoes not all kinds of preservatives.  Keep an eye on how much your getting. Most packages come with less than a pound now but still charge for a full pound.  Compare with other products.  You ca also learn by following my blog here or on Facebook

If you learn how to sew you can fix pretty much anything and stretch your dollar even further.  Why spend more money on something that could easily be fixed?  Want verses need! Or go on Pinterest.....

Once you do learn how to balance a checkbook you can see what money you do have or don't have.  Also keep track on your banks website and compare with your checkbook.  Sometimes a little mistake can mean big impacts.  Which usually mean charges to your account. These little charges add up to a big amount when you keep doing it. 

This could come in handy for years to come.  You could one day have a fireplace or get lost in the woods.  It could mean life or death for you.  I would learn how to build a fire and be safe either way.  Be smart! Learn how to build a fire.  

No one wants to smell you even though you left the room five minutes ago.  When someone doesn't want to share a hat with you then maybe there is a problem.  When your clothes stick to the walls you might have a problem.  Lets fix that problem. Go get yourself some good hygiene habits

You deserve to love and respect for yourself

In this day and age its very important to talk about this with your son or daughter.  When its appropriate, how to say no, what options you have, how to be safe and so on. Its all very important because one wild night could change their life forever.  Its good to know and have the facts.  Keep a good open line of communication so your son or daughter can come to you anytime they have a question about anything.  Safe and healthy sex is a bit touchy and embarrassing but it must be talked about for you and them.  Besides by the time they leave the home they should of had a few classes about the birds and the bees at school.  I'm sure you are more embarrassed than then.  

These two things don't mix when you are putting yourself through college.  They impact how you think and act and could have disastrous affects on your life.  Learning how to say no to drugs and alcohol can help your child make good choices.  Talk with them and again keep a open line of talk with them about it. Knowing they can call you anytime can help avoid situations, accidents and even death.  

This can be used in any part of your son or daughters life.  From proper talking etiquette to phone etiquette.  Its all important! Word of the day is ETIQUETTE! Remember to make eye contact and let that person know you have their full undivided attention.  

Learn how to grow a garden in small places, how to save seeds, how to compost and even learn how to grow herbs indoors.  

There are few things you can do to save yourself money in the long run.  Could be as simple as learning how to change a tire or a little more work by learning how to change your oil.  These things cost money and add up quickly.  Save money on the simple things so you can pay for the difficult things later.  Or you could just be friends with someone who knows how to do any car work.  Barter for car work! Thank goodness I have a handy husband. Phew! 

last but not least....

Assuming you have power and Internet still you can learn to survive a apocalypse with no problems at all.  Once you have learned this you can defend yourself against any zombie.  You go prepper!

Comment below if you have a tip to add to this list!