Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Another much needed break

Ive been having a rough month and half as most of you know. Life was slowly shifting back to normal until yesterday. Once again death has entered my life. My one and only grandmother I grew up knowing has dementia  and recently moved to live with my Uncle so she could be taken care of more closely. I think this was very hard for her to move away from her home which she lived in for many many years. I think it was too much for her and her health started to take the brunt of it all. She is now in the hospital and the doctors give her until New Years to live.
I owe everything to my Mother and Grandmother. As a child I spent many weekends during the summers driving out to her farmhouse and helping in the garden. All my Aunts, Mom and Grandma giving each other perms and all of us kids staying outside because of the horrible smell of those perms. Just think of all those chemicals...yikes. We played on her property all day long except to eat and pee. There were lots of barns to play in, some scary and some fun. Chicken coop, goat barn, Grandpa's wood workshop and of course the garden. Oh how I loved that huge garden. Eating tomatoes till I had a stomach ache was my main goal each day.   Digging up potatoes, eating more raspberries than I would pick for jelly, touching all the beautiful sunflowers laying out to dry, and bringing lots of wonderful produce to our apartments later in the day. What we could not use my mom would give to friends in need.
Now it's a rush to get anything we want from my grandmother's home.  Were pretty sure that the state will sell off everything including her home so they can use the money to take care of her how ever long she lives. In order to prepare myself I need to stop my regular daily agenda.  I'm sure once I take a step in her home its going to be a emotional roller coaster.  I need to be strong for my Mom and Aunt who are the ones taking most the brunt of this.  So for now I will be taking a break.
I'm saddened by the fact I won't be able to see her anymore. She has always been there and always had her door open for everyone. I'm sad I won't be able to go to her farmhouse anymore.  Sucks knowing it will be gone very soon. I'm sad my girls were not able to get to know her better. I just hope I can give girls these kinds of memories to keep and share with their children some day.
So for now I'm saying see you later. This is not goodbye. I will be back as soon as I can. And of course I will be reading all comments and answering any questions you may have.  Hopefully 2011 will be a better year.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Vintage Holiday Decor

My favorite holiday is Christmas hands down. I love decorating my home the day after Thanksgiving so we can enjoy the holiday that much longer.  The hard part of decorating for me is that I do not like anything you can buy in stores. It seems like everything is made of plastic or poor quality. So each year it's my mission to find old vintage Christmas items from my childhood.
My mom was a single mother trying to raise 2 girls. With  no help from anyone at all she made each Christmas as special as she could. Most of our decorations and Christmas ornaments were bought from second hand stores. And ever since I was a child I have had a special place in my heart for old Christmas items.

One of my favorite items is a tree skirt that my mother painted when I was very young. I now own the metal tin bucket (used for my garden items now) that she would keep her paint pens in. Metal pens with a round rubber end to pump. Remember those? Anyways I now own this and it's under my tree every single year. Its a favorite of mine and now my children.

 Next is another favorite of mine. I believe I found this in a little second hand store. My mother had one of these when I was little and I found this one in a tiny out of the way second hand store. It's so delicate and I am amazed it's lasted this many years. It was a ornament but I use it as a angel tree topper for a tiny tree by my front door.Love love love this one.
Last year I came across these lovely things. I paid about 25 cents for each of them. No idea if someone made them or if they were bought from a store. I believe they are from the 1940-50's. I am not a fan of plastic but looks like these were made from bits of plastic melted together. That's a form of recycling! My girls love coming home and seeing them above our garage.
A few years back I found these paper wall decorations for about 10 cents a piece. You can tell they were packed away in the dark because the color is just beautiful.  This year I took them in and had them laminated so they would last for much longer and be protected.

These two little things remind me of baby dolls I remember seeing as a child. Cutie Pies? Cannot remember their names. They are just adorable and I had to have them.
 And as you enter my home you see this adorable garland. I found this 2 weeks ago at the same second hand store. Its a vintage paper garland that says Merry Christmas. Paid a quarter for it. Love it!

Now last but not least I found a Santa that I remember us having when I was little. Its my favorite this year.

So how do you decorate each year? Anyone else out there in love with vintage holiday decor? Please share!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas on the cheap Shortbread Cookies

I found this yummy recipe online last night and it's definitely recipe box worthy. Since it's full of butter were probably going to only make these once a year and most likely around Christmas. One batch will be enough to last you a week even with little cookies monster's  in your home. I used my spritz cookie press but you can easily just use the spoon drop method.

Shortbread Cookies

1 lb of room temperature butter
1 cup of powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract (I used cinnamon oil)
1 pinch of salt
1/2 cornstarch
3 cups flour

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Cream together butter, sugar, vanilla and salt.
3.  Mix in another bowl flour and cornstarch
4.  Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture.
5.  Whip together at high speed until nice and fluffy.
6.  Put cookies onto a cookie sheet and bake from 12-13 minutes.
7.  Let cool for 2 minutes before taking off the cookie sheet.
8.   Store in airtight container at room temperature.

You can easily pick up metal cookie tins in any thrift store for pretty cheap. Just fill it up with cookies and anyone would love this as a gift.  The thing I love about using my cookie press is that it makes very small cookies and one batch will last you a long time. These can be made anytime of the year and would be pretty with some sprinkles on top.  I let my cookies cook 1 minute longer till they are slightly golden brown on the edges. Add's  a yummy taste to them.  Have fun!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Green up your period

I know it's not really a Christmas topic. But I thought I would throw this post in to spice things up a bit here. Each month Aunt Flow comes and goes and we end up using tons of paper products that end up in the landfill or sewer system.  You may think it's just a little bit but take a moment to think about it. You started your period what year? You get a period 12 times a year so times that by how many years you have had your period. It really is shocking how one person can cause so much paper products to go in the landfill/sewer system.  But old habits are hard to change especially when it comes to Aunt Flow.

The reason I bring this up is because I was at a friends house last night and I started feeling like I was coming down with the stomach flu. Then it started turning painful and I felt like I was going through hot flashes or was going to puke. I apologized and ran home like a little girl. I started my period. So I'm a wimp. Whatever.

There were no options when I started my period. No organic cotton and no bleach free alternatives. Nothing! All that had changed thank goodness and you can find options in just about any store you go into. Only thing holding you back now is yourself. So like a true friend that I am I decided to help you out a bit and show you all your options good or bad.

Hassle Free Green Options

Natracare is a great product to start with. You can find it in just about any major store chain and usually cost just a bit more than traditional tampons. Well worth the extra money and I will tell you why. Tampons are made with cotton blends which most people are not aware of.  Usually they are blended with rayon which contains traces of dioxin which is a chemical is associated with cancer. Remember Agent Orange? Yeah that stuff. That yummy stuff is in direct contact with your vagina's lining and can go directly into your blood stream.  Chlorine free is the only way to go if your going to use paper products.

Seventh Generation is one of my favorite brands for a few reasons. Just like the product above they are chlorine free. These two brands are pretty much the same. The only difference I can find is the price. Seventh Generation has an amazing website where you can sign in and talk with others in the forum. From ingredient list of all their products, super fast amazing customer service, and are very close with their customers. You can email them directly, facebook them, twitter them, myspace or watch cool video's on Youtube. They love hearing your likes, dislikes and comments and always reply to them. My favorite thing about this company is that they have coupons you can print at home from their site. I can find most of their products on sale at Fred Meyers and use a coupon with the sale to get the product for about half price.Amazon is another great place if you don't have a local store that carries them.   I have yet to see the Natracare on sale anywhere near my home. Seventh Generation is your brand if you live on a budget.

Not so hassle free options 

You can easily knit your own tampons, sew your own fabric menstrual pads, or even make your own sea sponges tampons. The best place I found how to's is at reusable menstrual products . I have yet to try making my own fabric pads because a bit scared and a tad lazy. But I did make my own sea sponges and did try them out. I am not a fan of them but know many people who are. These options are your best green choices because there is no paper or plastic involved and can be reused infinity. No more money being flushed down the toilet or put in our landfills. If you don't want make your own tampons you can buy them here . You can also buy premade handmade fabric pads at Etsy and also at eBay which is where I bought mine. You will save a bundle buying from the actual homemakers who make them.

 The DivaCup is another great option for those who don't want the hassle of making your own product. The Diva Cup is a latex free silicone cup that you fold up and insert into your lady parts.Your lady parts hold this cup into place so there is no worry of it falling out.   It can be used over and over again if you take care of it properly. They come in 3 different sizes so any sized woman can use this cup. At the price of $24-$32 it is an investment but will pay itself off very quickly.  You can find them on Amazon (best price I found), eBay,   Luna Pads and Drugstore.com. I will be investing in one of these next month to try my hand at them.

And then there's the free flowing option. If you don't wear undies (yes there are people who won't wear them) then you will need to hit the bathroom constantly. If that sounds like fun then have a go at it. I will keep to the options above.

So for now i'm out of here. If you want to live steer clear of my home. Just sayin...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas on the cheap Apple Syrup

Apple Syrup

1 cup unsweetened apple juice
1 cup sugar
Optional:1 cinnamon stick
Optional:1/4 cup apple liqueur

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and boil for about 15 minutes or until slightly thickened.  Remove from heat and pour, including the cinnamon stick, into a sterilized 12 oz bottle.  Cap tightly and refrigerate up to one week or freeze for later use. 

Great on pancakes but even better on vanilla ice cream. Yummy!

You can find syrup containers in thrift shops very easily which will save you some money.  Throw together some pancake mix, throw in a wooden spoon and then throw everything into a mixing bowl and you have a great gift for any pancake lover.  Mmmmm.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas on the cheap Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

This weekend we had two extra children over for a sleepover. That would make a total of 6 girls including myself. And what girl doesn't like chocolate? I topped it with a scoop of ice cream which was a big hit with the girls. Enjoy!

Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

1 1/4 cups  granulated sugar, divided
1 cup  all-purpose flour
1/2 cup  cocoa
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup of butter melted
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/4 cups hot water

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees

2. Stir together 3/4 cup granulated sugar, flour, 1/4 cup cocoa,  baking powder and salt.  Stir in milk butter and vanilla; beat until smooth.  Pour batter into ungreased 9 inch square baking pan. Stir together remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar, brown sugar and remaining 1/4 cup cocoa; sprinkle mixture evenly over batter.  Pour hot water over top.  Do not stir.

3.  Bake 35-40 minutes or until center is almost set.  Let stand for 15 minutes; spoon into dessert dishes, spooning sauce from bottom of pan over top.

Makes about 8 servings

This would be a great gift for a neighbor or would be great for taking to a family get together.  Stays warm for a long time and by the time you get to your family it will be nice and warm.  I recommend using organic ingredients as much as possible.  My cocoa was not organic but as soon as my cocoa is gone its in with the organic.

Note:I could not get a good picture of this no matter how I did it. I found this picture online from The Canadian Baker which is a great blog. Its packed full of amazing recipes.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmas on the cheap Reindeer Droppings

COME ON!!! Am I right or am I right? How much fun would these be to make with the kids? These are quick and easy cookies that any child or adult can make. Imagine if you added shredded coconut to these? That would really look like reindeer droppings! These cookies are not super sweet which is why I love them.  My kids can enjoy yummy cookies and I don't have to peel them off the walls from their sugar high. Enjoy!

Reindeer Droppings

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup baking cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk or milk
1/2 cup molasses
1 tsp vanilla extract
Optional nuts

Combine flour, coca, soda and salt; set aside. Cream shortening and sugar in a large mixing bowl; beat in egg, buttermilk/milk and molasses.  Stir in vanilla; gradually blend in flour mixture.  Fold in nuts if desired.  Drop by tablespoonfuls 1 1/2 inches apart onto a lightly greased baking sheet; bake at 350 degrees 12-15 minutes or until firm to the touch.  Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas on the cheap Yummy Herb Mix

Yummy Herb Mix

1/3 cup dry milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp dry mustard
2 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried dill weed
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp pepper

Add all ingredients in a one cup jar with lid-shake well.  Makes 2/3 cup mix.  Add instructions.

Instructions:Combine 4 tablespoons of herb mix with 6 tablespoons of flour.  Coat 2-3 pounds of chicken, brown chicken in 2 tablespoons of oil for 15 minutes on each side or until juices run clear.  To add an extra zest add 2 tablespoons of herb mix to mashed potatoes.  Or add 2 tablespoons of herb mix to chopped potatoes to bake in the oven.  Possibilities are endless.

This recipe is the most frugal gift ever. All these spices can be found in the bulk section for cheap.  This mix would look perfect in a small mason jar. Get creative and look for unique containers in thrift stores.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas on the cheap Friendship Tea Mix

Friendship Tea Mix

2 cups orange drink mix
1/4 oz pkg. lemonade drink mix (Kool-Aid)
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 ground cloves
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup instant tea

Combine all ingredients together and store in an airtight tin or jar.  Add instructions.

Instructions:Combine 3-4 teaspoons of Friendship Tea Mix with one cup of boiling water; stir until tea mix has dissolved completely.  Makes one serving.

I have yet to try this recipe out so let me know if you like it or not.  How cute would this be paired up with a vintage tea cup or tea kettle set? Maybe wrap it up in pretty floral fabric?  Remember to buy everything you can in bulk. Some places even sell orange drink mix in the bulk section!

Next.....Tasty Herb Mix

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Christmas on the cheap Bavarian Mint Coffee Mix

Bavarian Mint Coffee Mix

1/3 cup powdered non-dairy creamer
1/3 cup of sugar
1/3 cup instant coffee
2 tsp baking cocoa
5 peppermint candies, crushed

Combine all the ingredients together; store in an airtight container.  Attach instructions.

Instructions: Use 2 to 2 1/2  teaspoons per cup of boiling water.

All items can be bought in the bulk section. If you don't want to buy peppermint candies you can put some peppermint oil into your sugar before mixing all the ingredients. Or you can just give a candy cane with each gift and they can stir their coffee with the candy cane. Keep an eye out for vintage coffee mugs because this would be perfect in one.  Plus save you some money. This was my personal favorite to give all my co workers. Everyone loved it.

Next......Friendship Tea

Monday, November 29, 2010

Christmas on the cheap Vanilla Coffee Mix

Well it took me a bit longer to get back into the swing of things. I really do not handle stress well and looks as if I don't handle grief very well either.  I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and was able to spend it with friends/family. I spent the holiday at my moms with the rest of the family. It was a very hard day for me because it was my dad's favorite holiday. We would both hover in the kitchen waiting for the turkey to be done. He would carve and we would both eat the dark meat before it was even off the turkey. This year it was my duty to carve the turkey. Alone. It was a bittersweet day and I'm just lucky to have an amazing family that surrounds me. I love you all.

Each Christmas I like to make a plan of what I will be doing for all the family members. We have a rather large family so whatever I do it has to be budget friendly.  Each year I worked at Michael's Craft Store I would buy a Gooseberry Patch book. They would come out with one each year with new and exciting Christmas idea's. From crafts to recipes it was all easy and budget friendly. I now have 8 Christmas books and too many cookbooks and booklets to count. And every year I pull them out to get inspiration.

I will try my best to bring you one easy recipe each day. Along with the best place to buy these items or how you can get them cheaper or for free. Here we go!


1 1/2 cups powdered milk or non-dairy powdered milk creamer
1 cup baking cocoa
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup instant coffee granules
2 tsp vanilla powder

Combine all ingredients; store in an airtight container.  Attach instructions.

Instructions: Use 3 tbsp of mix for every one cup of boiling water.

Now days you can find most of these ingredients in the bulk section. You will save a ton of money by buying in the bulk.  I could not find the vanilla powder so I ended up using vanilla powdered milk creamer instead.  One year I made this for all my co workers. I bought paper bags and in each bag I had put a coffee mug, the mix, and some chocolates. My girls loved to decorate the bags with stamps or just doodled all over them with crayons. When you work for retail, anything involving coffee is a winner.

Next recipe...........Bavarian Mint Coffee Mix

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Last minute savings plan

In April I wrote a great post about 25 ways to save money that can be put to great use right about now. Christmas is only a month away and money is tight for everyone now days. So please try these out and hopefully you will stick to them from now on and save yourself money each month.  Its not only good for your wallet but good for the earth. Ive added a few more things so enjoy!

Could you use some extra cash after the bills are paid?  Maybe you need to save up for a birthday or holiday? I'm sure you all can and even if you don't need anything, saving money is always a good thing. About every 6 months I try to come up with a good list of things you can do to save money. Lets see how many of you do these things or will do these things.

1.  Stop buying plastic sandwich bags/storage bags. For lunches use fabric sandwich bags. Now days you can find these in all natural stores. If not try online at reusablebagssnacktaxi, or look for them at Etsy.
Added note:If you don't have the money to invest in these right now just get creative and use things around your home. Maybe use a cut up brown paper bag to wrap food, cut up a liner from cereal? Just get creative.

2.  Stop buying aluminum foil. Start saving the stuff you have now and reuse it as many times as you can. Or try just using metal lids from pots. Its going on 2 years since I have purchased any.

3.  No more air fresheners, plug in's or automatic fresheners. Just open up your windows or burn a candle. Biggest waste of money plus those things are filled with toxic synthetic oils.
Added note:Those essential oils you use to make soap? Simply reuse a spray bottle by adding water and a couple of drops of essential oils. Bamm! You have room spray or linen spray.

4.  No more prepackaged food or spice packets. Try looking up these at Recipezaar . You will save money and save yourself from preservatives, sodium and excess fat.  Remember you control it when you make it. You don't have to stick to the recipe exactly.

5. Stop buying laundry soap and make your own. A $5 investment will get you started. But if you don't have that $5 extra bucks just cut your regular soap in half and stretch it further.

6.  No more dryer sheets. Just make 2 balls from aluminum foil and toss those in the dryer. Or do what I do and use nothing.  And no I don't miss the smell of those synthetic fragrances.

7.  No plastic trash bags.  Yes you read this right. If you recycle everything possible and compost everything possible, you will need no trash bags. I take my trash out once a week and we never fill it up. Since there is no liquids or food in our trash there is no need for a bag. I just take the trash out and rinse it out with water once in a while.

8.  Stop buying cleaners. Simply use vinegar and water and that will clean up anything. And no your home won't smell like vinegar.

9.  No more cable or dish network. Have it shut off and love your family time. Now days you can watch movies on Hulu, watch favorite tv shows on their network websites, or rent movies for as low as $1 from places like Redbox. Regular TV is much better now then when you were little. You get a 24 hour kids channel and about a dozen others.

10.  No more eating out. This one alone will save you a ton of money. And this includes fast food joints. Yes it only cost you a dollar or so but you will pay for it through your health.

11.  Walk anywhere possible whenever possible within 1 mile from home. Less gas used means less money to buy gas. Try walking or biking. Yes you were born with legs for a reason!

12.  Hang dry your clothes. Got string and a nail? You have a easy clothes line! Put a loop at the end of the string so you can take it down anytime you want. Out of sight out of mind! This will save you up to $20 a month.

13.  Turn the thermostat down!!! 55 at night and completely off during the day. Put on a sweatshirt, socks and slippers. Plus gives you reason to snuggle. You will thank me later when you get your heating bill.

14.  No more new stuff. Try to find anything you need in a thrift store or garage sale before you buy it new.

15.  Get rid of disposables. No more paper towels, paper plates, paper cups, or to go anything! Just use your own and wash them. Yes even for birthday parties!

16.  Never refuse anything given. I always accept clothing, household goods, etc from friends or family. I rarely have to buy clothes because of this. In return I give away all our clothes and anything else I want to get rid of. Helps out in more ways than one. I have a friend who gives me extra organic produce that she cannot eat. Thanks Theresa!!! This saves me money each month and gets us eating things I normally wouldn't buy.

17.  No more medicines unless its really needed. Simple colds can be taken care of with vitamins, honey, tea, and eating healthy. There are always natural ways to take care of any ailment at Earthclinic.  Its my go to site for everything! Even if you have the best insurance you will save a ton of money. I save $20 (my co pay)each time I don't go to the doctor just because I have a cold.  Of course go to the doctor if its something serious or you just can't shake the cold off. Eat healthy and live healthy and you will not need to go to the doctor. I have been to my doctor only twice in the last 7 years and only because I found a lump in my breast. It was nothing serious after all but you just cannot chance something like that.

18.  No more papers! Each week you will get a free paper on your door step. Now days they even come with coupons! Plus your local stores ad's will be in there too. You can also go on any brands website and print out coupons. There's always a way to get around everything!

19.  Share a garbage service with your neighbor. This saves us $13 each month. My neighbor and I split the bill. We each recycle so much and compost everything that we just split our service. Never thought of that did you!

20.  Take a shower when needed instead of daily. No were not dirty people! I just wash when I need it. If my hair gets dingy or dirty I take a shower.This is the rule for our whole family. We do not roll around in the dirty, have dirty jobs, or sweat on a regular basis so we do not need to shower daily.  Just think about how much water and hair products you will save! Also when you do take a shower, put a limit on it!

21.  No more specialty coffee's! From now on make your own and take your own! This alone will save you a ton of money. Now days you can find organic coffee in bulk just about anywhere. Its way cheaper than buying your coffee from your local coffee shop. If you do need to grab a coffee, take your own mug and most places give a discount if you do bring your own mug.

22.  No more babysitters. Try switching with a friend/family member/neighbor. I do this with many people and have yet to pay any babysitters. Just remember to babysit in return. This alone saves a ton of money for people with many kids.

23.  Keep the lights off as much as possible. Open up drapes and let the sunshine in!

24.  Turn off the water when brushing your teeth.

25.  Take my clothe wipe challenge and save a bundle on toilet paper each month.


-Avoid all plastic!  I won't buy any plastic toys, food products, clothing, or anything else for that matter.  This rule has help cut clutter out of my home as well.  Look for food in glass so you can reuse or recycle it when your done.  You can use many large glass items for storing food in the pantry, fridge and even the freezer.  Apple sauce glass jars are great for storing food.

-Fix it, make do or ditch it. Anything that gets broken and can be fixed will be fixed. Anything that I can make do with we do.  Anything we don't need we donate or give to someone who needs it. This has saved us a ton of money. And now when we do need to buy something new we are very picky about our purchase. We look for no plastic items and stuff that can be easily fixed.  Most products these days are meant for single use or to be disposable. Even household items like scales.

-Borrow or barter.  Why buy something when your only going to use it once? Ask around if your looking for something in particular. Most the time someone has it and will let you borrow it. But know that if they need something you have then you need to let them borrow it.  Barter for daycare. You watch my kids and in return I will watch yours. My neighbor borrowed my dehydrator to dry some herbs I let her pick from my garden. In return she gave me lots of mint for making tea. Get creative!

-Buy seasonal food. Because my favorite produce stand is closed for the season I have to be creative. I cannot afford to buy anything I want organic so I buy whats on sale and in season.  Last week it was kale on sale so we ate kale. Organic pinto beans were $1 per pound so we had chili one night.  Instead of making a meal plan at home try buying whats in season and planning around that.  Also this rule can be used for meats.  Nitrate free pork sausage was on sale for $2.99 per pound so thats what were eating this week. 8 links for $5.99. Thats cheap!

-Buy in bulk. Less packaging means you pay less.  Also means less packaging to recycle.

-Make gifts and cards. Sometimes I make bath salts, soaps or things like that and give them as gifts. My girls love making their own cards which saves us money.  You can make a pie and give it to a girlfriend for her birthday.  Get creative and use what you have.  These are my favorite kinds of gifts to get.  It shows that you took the time for the person which means the world to them.

Now's the fun part. Watch your money stay in your wallet.  You can thank me later.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Can your Joe be any greener?

Each day I wake up and walk to the coffee pot like a living zombie. I feel this incredible pull towards my coffee pot so I can be able to live each day. My name is Nancy and i'm a coffee addict. I ran across this great article today  in the Huffington Post called Green Your Caffeine.  In this article you will learn a few ways to green up your caffeine habit. Great idea's but I have a few of my own to add. 

Thinking about all those years drinking coffee before I went green makes me cringe. All that pesticide filled coffee, paper coffee filters and disposable cups now haunt me in my sleep. Dreams of coffee cups that never decomposed follow me and keep saying "Way to go!". Well not really but you get the idea. 

There are several ways you can green up your cup of Joe which can be done little by little. No need to stress about it, just take baby steps. 

Switch to a French Press
This system you do not need any paper filters because it already has a built in metal filtration system. Its pretty easy to use which makes me happy. Put in your coffee grounds, put metal filter,  pour in super hot water, press the filter down and you have hot coffee. If you love a good rich cup of coffee then you will love the French Press. No paper and no energy needed equals AWESOMENESS! 

Getting the right coffee
There are several options when it comes to buying coffee. Just depends on what shade of green you want to be and how much money you are willing to spend. Here are your options:

USDA Organic-This means no pesticides or chemicals were used growing the beans. It can be found in just about any store you go into.

Fair Trade Certified-If your interested in the farmers who grow the beans then this is your best option. Fair Trade means that the farmers and and workers who grow the beans were treated humanely and paid fair in safe working conditions. 

Shade Grown-This is something new to me and I will look into finding this option. Shade Grown means that the beans were grown according to the Smithsonian Institution guidelines to protect migrating birds.  

Rainforest Alliance Certified-Basically means they were grown with "green" standards. 

If you buy coffee beans with any of these on the label then your supporting a great cause. I personally find my bulk  Organic Coffee at Winco for only $5.99 per pound. You can get a large coffee from Starbucks with that amount of money!  I ground it a the store and put it in my freezer when I get home. One pound will usually last us a month. 

Ditch the disposables!
Instead of using paper cups invest in a good stainless steel coffee mug. I recently found my Thermos stainless steel coffee mug at Costco for only $24.99. It was paired with a stainless steel soup thermos. This coffee mug should last me forever. Not many people know but paper coffee cups cannot be recycled. Now imagine how many paper cups are handed out each day at all the coffee shops. I feel a stomach ache coming on. So do me a favor and invest in a good coffee mug.  Oh and don't forget to bring it everywhere you go especially if you tend to get coffee from coffee shops. Some places even give you a few pennies off for bringing your own. 

Looking to green up your existing coffee machine?
If you have a favorite coffee machine and don't want to replace it then just invest in a metal coffee filter. My best friend gave me her coffee machine which came with this fantastic metal filter. Yes there is some plastic involved in this one but I will never have to use paper filters again. One day I will invest in a all metal filter and feel much better about it. These metal filters come in all different sizes and can be found in some stores but your best bet is to find it online. If you don't have the money right now to invest in one of these then switch from regular paper filters to compostable paper filters. This switch is the least expensive option but in time you will want to replace these with a metal filter.

Compost them!
Instead of tossing your coffee grounds in the trash, toss them into your compost. In no time you will have excellent compost! Any left over coffee from the day before gets poured into my indoor plants who by the way LOVE this. If your using compostable paper filters then simply toss the whole thing right into your compost. I sometimes just toss my coffee grounds around my plants on the soil.  I also mix them with my garden soil and use this mixture in my garden.  

Extra flavor
Instead of buying special flavored creamer that comes in plastic jugs, try to make your own special flavored coffee. Those creamers are full of tons of sugar, preservatives and who knows what else. I buy my favorite half and half from Whole Foods for only $1.29. It is not organic but it's hormone free. During the Spring and Summer I just add a 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla to my regular coffee. But during the Fall I add a pinch of cinnamon. Christmas I will toss a small candy cane in my coffee and stir it around. Adds just a touch of mint and is oh so yummy.  This simple tip will reduce your packaging and keep your money in your wallet. 

So take baby steps and try to green up your cup of Joe. Did I miss anything? Leave a comment and tell us your green tips when it comes to your cup of Joe!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Moving on but not forgetting

As most of you know my Father passed away last Monday. A year ago my Dad found out he had cancer and went through months of pain but finally beat the cancer. Or so we thought. 3 weeks ago my Dad showed similar signs of cancer which was confirmed a week or two later. But this time it was inoperable. It was an emotional week for my sister and a tough week for me as well. But we held it together so we could be there for my Mom and Dad. But I was scared. I had a dark pit in my stomach that I was trying to ignore. Saturday my Mom took Dad into the hospital because he wasn't eating and just didn't look good.

Saturday I took my daughter to her soccer game and my Sister called to inform me that Dad had a blood infection and the doctors were trying to give him medication to beat it. So I tried to watch my Daughter and support her while she played her game. That night we took the kids trick or treating and I tried to ignore the fact that my Dad was very ill. Sorta pretend it wasn't happening. Trying to trick your brain isn't that easy to do but I put on a pretty face. That night I went to bed with a stomach ache and rolled around for hours trying to go to sleep. I woke up at 4:30 in the morning worried about my Mom. What's to happen down the road? How will mom pay her bills? Dozens of things rolled around in my head and I never fell asleep.

7:30 rolled around and my morning was to start. Woke the kids, fed the kids and off to school the older girls went. I wasn't in the mood to sit around at my house alone (once again ignoring the situation) so I decided to get some groceries when I dropped off my twins at afternoon Kindergarten. I basically walked around like a zombie looking for things I needed at home. A 15 minute trip was taking me an hour. I put the groceries in the truck and started to head off to another store. That is when I received the call.

I couldn't understand anything my sister was saying. Only words I remember her saying were blood infection, 2 minutes and any minutes. She was crying uncontrollable and the only thing I could do was tell her to calm down and I was on my way. Two hours flashed by and somehow I managed to get up to the hospital. My heart pounded faster than ever and I felt like throwing up. I ran into the hospital and somehow found the floor I needed and stepped out of the elevator.  Time was standing still as I slowly walked down the hall. I couldn't hear anything and was looking for my Dad's room. I saw too much. I saw elderly men, a small child with dozens of tubes and cords, a beautiful elderly man eating his dinner, and then I saw Dad. This is when I fell apart. My knee's were weak, my heart ached and reality finally hit me.

For the next hour or so I stayed by my Dad who was unconscious. I laid by him stroking his hair with my face buried into his pillow. I listened to him breathe, watched his chest go up and down, and just looked at him. Almost like I wanted to imprint his face into my brain so I would never forget him. His breathing was a little scratchy but  slowly was quiet. I hugged my Mom and Sister often. And after a while I stepped out of the room and into a sitting area to look out the window. The hospital is up high on a mountain and you can see all of Portland Oregon. It was a really foggy night but I could see all the highways, car headlights, and bridges very clear. My best friend Dulcimer called me and kept my mind off of reality. It was a nice break. Once again reality came knocking and my Aunt told me to come to the room. So I hung up and ran into Dad's room to find all the family standing around Dad quiet. No one was saying anything and I asked what happened twice before anyone spoke. Dad had passed. I completely fell apart and my Aunt held me. All those movies I saw of people crying uncontrollable, women sobbing so loud, and literally falling over. That was me. I personally think Dad knew I was there and didn't want me to be in the room when he passed. Thank you Dad.

Since last Monday I have been to my Moms house everyday. Cleaning up around my Dad's table which he kept everything of his on. Opened the windows to let the sunshine in which my Mom loved but my Dad hated.    Removed all his medication, his dozens of random batteries he wouldn't throw away because they had not died completely, his smokes which my mother hated, and all his blankets and pillows off the couch which he slept on because it was comfortable. For some reason it was easier to breathe and the sunshine felt really good.

Why did I share with you all this personal information? I guess its a way for me to heal. Writing is my way of getting things off my chest and clear my mind. My blog is my life. The good, the bad and the ugly its going to be here to share with all of you.

Oreo's. He loved sports of any kind and watched them always. His love for records and music is something we shared. I now have his records and have been listening to them at home.  Every time I eat pork chops I will think of him.  Every time I hear the TV loud with sports on, I will think of him.  I will think of him always and forever.

Dad thank you for loving my Mom. Thank you for being the Dad I never had. Thank you for loving us like we were your own.  Thank you for sharing the last 15 years of your life with us. Thank you for loving me. I will never forget. I love you.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Time for a break

Today at 4:30pm my father passed away. I will be not posting anything for the next week but will be on Facebook to keep myself amused and to make time go by. I appreciate all your warm wishes and will read the comments each day. Thank you for being such loyal friends. See you soon.
aka Surviving and thriving on pennies

Saturday, October 30, 2010

16 must have items for your pantry

I recently read a great article by Lisa Turner called Screamin' Grocery Store Deals 16 Cheap,Organic Foods. After reading it I realized not many people know which produce is in season and a great deal. Eating seasonal is the best way to eat fresh and keep you on budget.  Lisa came up with a list of 16 organic deals man of which are currently in season and will save you some money. Here's her list and my little tid bits of non sense. Enjoy!

1. Cabbage-you can find cabbage for as low as 99 cents a head and as high as 99 cents per lb. I found mine at Thepumpkinpatch ( a NW local farm) for 2/$1. What a steal! But hurry because they close for the season very soon! Cabbage can be used in just about any meal. My kids love it because its one of the sweeter vegetables. Anytime I make soup, cabbage is always in it. As Lisa points out, cabbage is rich in cancer-preventative compounds and is way cheaper than broccoli which also has cancer-preventative compounds.

2.  Carrots-Rich in beta carotene and fiber. This is a staple in our home and you will never find my fridge lacking carrots. Organic carrots are one of the cheaper items and add so much flavor to any meal.  My favorite thing to do is make carrot juice and use the pulp to make carrot muffins. Sweet Potatoes also contain the same array of nutrients but carrots are a better buy. Don't forget to toss the discarded ends into your compost.

3. Kale-This beautiful item usually cost a bit more but is packed with nutrients.  You can find the same nutrients in things like chard, collards, and turn up greens but would need to eat way more. So a little bit of Kale goes a long way. I have yet to eat Kale and i'm looking forward to using it.

4.  Banana's-Once again a staple in our diet.  Organic banana's can cost as little as 79 cents a pound. Easy to toss in a kids lunch or just eat as a snack.   You can find them even cheaper when they start getting black marks on them. Simply buy them, take them home, peel them, put them on a cookie sheet in the freezer, and once frozen put them in a freezer safe container for later use. Later when you want to make banana muffins/bread you can take them out of the freezer to defrost and simply throw them in your better. No mashing is needed! They taste exactly the same as fresh banana's. Gotta love that! Don't forget to put your peels in the compost.

5.  Apples-In the fall organic apples can be found for as little as 79 cents a pound. Again these can be tossed in a kids lunch or eaten as a snack. The thought of apple pie, apple crumble or even apple sauce has my mouth watering. Possibilities are endless!

6.  Onions-Again a option thats packed in disease preventive antioxidants and last but not least FLAVOR! Organic onions can be found for as little as $1 per pound and a little onion goes a long way. Chop them up small enough and your kids will never know! Well at least in my family anyways. Onion is great in almost anything you make. Garlic and ginger also are pennies per serving and also add tons of flavor so snag those when they are on sale.

7.  Beans-beans the magical fruit, the more you eat the more you _____! Beans are your best friend when it comes to eating on a budget. Make sure to watch sales and stock up on organic beans. Buy them in the bulk section and they will last months. Simply soak them overnight in water and the next day cook them on low for a few hours. You can then take the cooked beans and put them in freezer safe containers and into you freezer. They keep for months this way and also are way cheaper than buying organic canned beans.  Another way to save money is to have vegetarian meals. Beans are full of protein and fiber plus way cheaper than organic meat. So maybe have chili, a great Mexican dish or even beans soup instead of your regular meat dish. So go take a peek at your options and have fun trying new beans out.

8.  Nuts-Again these are packed with nutritional benefits and a must in your home. I do have to warn you that they are a bit pricey. So keep a watchful eye on sales and stock up. They store very well in the freezer and a little bit goes a long way.

9.  Seeds-These are always cheaper than nuts so maybe a better option for you. Sunflower and pumpkin seeds are cheaper than nuts so maybe buy them and jazz them up a bit.  Flax seeds are another great option. Packed high with concentrated fats and super cheap. Again stock up when they go on sale and keep them in your freezer for later use.  I add flax seed to anything I bake. Cookies, muffins and bread are my usual.

10.  Brown rice-A low cost gluten free option. This is a staple in our home and I stock up when it goes on sale.  Also great buys are whole wheat pasta ( our personal favorite), oats and cornmeal.  All of which are great tasting and budget friendly. Also keep well in the freezer.

11.  Peanut butter-Filled with healthy monounsaturated fats just like almonds. This is your better buy.  You can find it in the bulk section or in glass jars. Do your math and buy for the price per ounce rather than the whole unit. I buy my peanut butter from Azure Standard . Its $23 for a 15 pound bucket of peanut butter. That's only $1.53 a pound! I just keep smaller amounts in mason jars.

12.  Ground Beef-This one you need to buy on sale. Organic ground beef can cost you up to $7.99 per pound. Now that's not budget friendly at all. So keep your eye on sales and stock up. Last month I found it on sale at Whole Foods for only $3.99 per pound. They will wrap it in one pound increments in brown paper for you which is my favorite part. I use very little meat about 3 times a week to feed my family of 6. This has kept us on budget and I have yet to have any complaints from my family. I also keep my eye on other organic meats and stock up on those as well.

13.  Chicken-Chicken can be found for as little as $1.49 per pound for a whole chicken. It can be cooked and meat pulled off to use in a few meals. Plus you can boil bones and get amazing stock from it which also can be froze. Double your moneys worth if you ask me.

14.  Olive oil-It's high in healthy fats and antioxidants. At a cost to pennies per servings its your best oil option.  Again watch for sales and make sure to buy in glass bottles because it can be recycled.  And don't even get me started on why plastic is a no no.

15.  Yogurt-Unsweetened is your best bet. Again keep an eye out for sales and get only what you need. There is no way to stock up on this one.  Plain yogurt you can get for cheaper and usually more for your money.  Just add fruit, granola, honey or do what my kids do and add a tsp of my homemade organic jelly. One cup of this for breakfast will do ya for the whole morning. If you want to save even more money try your hand at making your own. There are several methods of making it just Google it and have fun.

16.  Eggs-I find my vegetarian fed chicken eggs at Whole Foods for only $2.99 18 count. If you can find fresh local eggs from a farmer then that would be better. But your best bet is to have your own chickens and get the freshest eggs around. Unfortunately my husband is still saying NO to this option. Sniff sniff.  Eggs are full of protein and can be used in just about anything.  

I always keep these items in my home because you can make just about anything with them.  Just remember that if your going to make that fantastic dish with produce not in season, your going to pay for it. Literally!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Digging for savings

Oh how I love Goodwill Outlet. If you have never been to one then you need to find one near you. Unlike regular Goodwill stores where everything is hung up for you to browse through, the outlets are just bins full of stuff that you have to dig through. When you decide to go you need to prepare yourself. If have never been to a thrift store or just do not like shopping in them, then I would advise bringing rubber gloves. Since I grew up basically going to all these types of stores I don't have to wear gloves. There's nothing I haven't seen in these places and I simply wash my hands when I'm done shopping. You also want to set aside at least two hours for digging. Yes you read that right I said digging. They do have separate bins but you have to dig for what you want.

Clothes- All clothing is thrown into this bin. No matter what size, shape, or color. Its in there and you have to dig for what you want. Make sure you know your families sizes so you don't waste your money and buy things they won't fit.

Shoes-All shoes are thrown into this bin. They do keep matches together with rubber bands but after a couple of hours of people digging through them its impossible to find matches at times. I usually will shop in this bin first when I get to the store.

Glass-Anything glass related will be in this bin. Plates, cups, crock pots, candle holders, etc. This bin you want to be careful in. I usually will just look over everything and not touch unless i'm really interested in something. My last visit I struck gold and found two boxes of vintage mason jars.

Books-You will find every single type of book in this bin. Old, new, hard cover, soft cover, and children books.

Misc-This is the interesting bin. You name it, its there. Christmas decorations, rugs, sports equipment, Tupperware, toys, etc. This bin is hard to dig in but worth it. I usually will find something I like in this bin.  

Furniture Section- This section is in the back.  Furniture is pretty cheap and you can always count on finding things for $5 or less.  I found my daughters dresser for only $1, my other daughters desk chair for only $5 and so on. Its very random what you will find and if you see something you like you have to take it then. It won't be there later.

TV Section-They have a wall of TV's all on for you to shop from. No more not knowing it its going to work or not. You just pick which one you want and buy it. They are not fancy TV's but hey they are cheap and work.

Goody Bags-Up by the register there are bags filled with everything you can think of. Lotions, soaps, perfume, etc. These are very large and usually cost about $6.

To me this place is worth the digging. When you gather over 25lbs of items you pay only 89 cents per pound. Thats super cheap. Literally each shirt you get is maybe 10 cents each. A pair of shoe's might be 50 cents.   And when you have a large family like mine and a small budget, this place is your best friend. Take for example....

Seriously how cute are these? These are the most adorable leather heels. New these probably would of retailed for at least $50. I think I paid maybe 50 cents for them. Sweet deal if you ask me.

And then I found these. Again they are leather and would be at least $50 new. I paid a whopping 50 cents for them. Normally I would not waste my money on shoe's that I was not sure if I was going to wear or not. But for 50 cents I will buy lots of shoe's and play around with them in my wardrobe. Funky huh? Love them.
And look at this little gold nugget.  I have this thing for old books and it was calling out my name when I walked by. Just look at this man on the front. He doesn't look very happy. This book is called Samantha at Saratoga or "Racin After Fashion" by Josiah Allens Wife (Marietta Holley) 1887. I'm no bookworm and maybe I will read it or maybe I won't. I just love buying them and putting them on display. Speaking of display....
COME ON!!! How frickin adorable is this! A real silver spoon bent into a book/plate display. My daughter found it and showed me because she was confused why someone would bend a fork. I on the other hand screamed inside my head. I MUST HAVE IT! Now my pretty little old book can be displayed. Yeah!
This is a picture from the book above that I had to show you. Look at the lady in the water bath. See her hand trying to get her man over to the water? Just look at the expression on his face. "Who me?". Just think about it. This book was made in 1887 and i'm sure back then this was risky. It's like I have 1887 porn! lol.  Looks as if I might have to read this book.

So as you can see its worth shopping at these stores. I took home a little over 30 pounds of clothing and the above items for only $36. Man I love this store!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

DIY Mint or lemon balm tea

One of my many mint plants

I keep my tea in mason jars away from the light. Just wanted to show you how pretty my mason jars were.
Home grown tea is really the best tea you can drink. I love it because it pays for itself the first year you plant it. Its super cheap and very yummy. 

1.  Be sure to pick baby leaves before your plant starts to bloom flowers. Tea will be bitter if you use leaves after its blossomed. Pick only the tender baby leaves. I usually pick the top 3 leaves off each stem.
I picked up two buddies while I was picking today. I think Riley my dog smelled all the mint while she was taking her sun nap and my cat Tabby is just nosy.  She kept getting in my way of the mint so I would pet her but the smell bugged her. Sorry Tabby, maybe later.

2.  Once you have picked enough, put them into your dehydrator. Make sure they are not too crowded so they can dry properly. Dry your leaves until they are crunchy and have no moisture to them. I usually check them about once ever 30 minutes. There are several methods to drying things but I opted to borrow my neighbors fancy one because its super fast. 
 3. Once fully dried you can put them into any glass container and they will last pretty much forever. To enjoy your tea ball strainer or even your regular coffee pot. Just put your tea in your coffee filter and make as usual.  As always I stick my used up tea leaves into my compost.  The below picture shows peppermint on the left and lemon balm on the right.  Can you see my groovy harvest gold counter tops? What can I say, my house is old.  Since its so old I thought I would find dinner ware to match lol.

Just look at this yummy tea!

4. Enjoy as is or add your favorite sweetener. My personal favorite honey is Wessels because its local to me and I grew up in Forest Grove where Wessels is located. We use a ton of honey and Wessels makes 5lb containers of it. Its color is just gorgeous. One teaspoon into my cup and i'm a happy mama. 
I just want to note that the metal container of tea was given to me from a good friend Theresa. In exchange I gave her some of my home grown mint tea. She bought her tea off of Etsy. If you have not been on Etsy, go there now. You can find anything homemade or home grown there. From tea, to make up, to even toys. I bought my hand knitted wash clothes for only $3 there.  Love that site!

Friday, October 22, 2010

May I please use one sick day?

My twins have had a nasty couch for 3 days now. Been giving them lots of tea with honey and their daily dose of apple cider vinegar with honey. I think being around them so much while they are sick has exposed me to their germs. Usually I scoot on by without getting sick but this time I wasn't so lucky. The last few years I have only been sick maybe once a year. I attribute this to the way we eat and live a healthy life style.

Recently I found this wonderful book off Amazon. Luckily I was able to snag an 3rd edition for only $1. What a deal! The books called Herbally Yours by Penny C.Royal. It's about a woman named Penny who had poor health from her childhood till adulthood. She tried everything the doctors told her and was about to give up. Till one day she turned to herbs. Herbally Yours is the first comprehensive herbal handbook. Its an easy to use, alphabetized guide to use the herbs and is easy enough for the everyday person to use. Alphabetized herbs or ailments.  From diet, cleansing, pregnancy, nursing and even babies , its all here.

So today I woke up pretty sick. No fever but I feel pretty yucky. Stuffy nose, body aching and i'm starting to get a bit of a cough. Here is a cough recipe from this book that I will be trying out today.

1/4 tsp each of Cayenne and Ginger
1 tbsp of Honey
1 tbsp of Apple Cider Vinegar
2 tbsp of hot water
Mix juice from 1/2 lemon with 2 tbsp of honey. Take this every 15 minutes.
Licorice Root Tea or Tincture of Lobelia can be taken.
Tincture is an extraction of herbs in vinegar or alcohol. Apple Cider Vinegar is all the right for most herbal tinctures. IF the herb is oily or sticky, Everclear Brand 190 Proof can be used successfully. ( which I find amusing lol)

I need to pick up some ginger as soon as I feel like getting dressed. That may or may not happen because i'm feeling pretty lazy right now.  But until then I will stick to my usual.

Lots of home grown hot tea with honey
2tbsp of apple cider vinegar
Homemade chicken soup
Lots and lots of sleep

Anyone have any homemade concoctions they use? Have a favorite herb when your sick? Any crazy recipes for cough syrup?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Closed for the season

My favorite produce stand will be closing down for the winter in about 2 weeks. You know what that means right? Pay double the price to get my organic produce from my local stores. Well that's what most people think but its not true.  There are still ways to get around having to pay these prices. 

1. Collect and store. What I mean by that is try to collect as much produce as you can when it's cheap and prepare it for storage so you can store it and eat it later. Whether its canning, freezing or dehydrating. One thing I did this year was not to refuse anything given to me for free or I took advantage of something free. Blackberries grow like weeds here so when they were yummy and ripe I picked like crazy. I froze them for smoothies and made the yummiest jelly for my girls. Since freezing is the easiest , it was my preference. Once I made my jelly I simply labeled it and put it all in the freezer. 
Several time's my neighbors would give me things from their gardens (I did this as well) and I would use it or store it for later. I giant zucchini given to me by neighbor (thanks Jessica!) was shredded and put in the freezer. This will be used in muffins all year long.  Oyster mushrooms I found for $1 a pound was taken home and dehydrated. I even put the dried mushrooms in a blender and made mushroom powder. Lemon balm and mint growing in my yard was dehydrated and I use to make my own tea. 
Its funny, anytime I talk about doing all this it reminds me of the story of these squirrels. The main character was having fun and playing all the time. The other squirrels were looking for nuts and fixing their shelters. All along this main squirrel was doing nothing. Well guess who froze and didn't have any food? Moral of the story is all work and no play keeps the hunger pains away. 

2. Buy seasonal. I usually do this anyways. Usually in season produce is cheap. But a good deal would distract me sometimes. Oops my bad. But now I will have no options. So here's my plan. I'm kind of a store snob now. I stick to Whole Foods (1st choice) and then Trader Joe's (2nd choice). I can avoid plastic much better at Whole Foods but sometimes I save more money at Trader Joe's. I think I will go to Whole Foods and buy whats on sale. If its cabbage then our dinners will have cabbage in it. Carrots on sale then i'm hunting for good carrot recipes. I will buy what I can on sale and get creative. I think this is a great way to try new things. I will try my best to buy local during this time as well. Whole Foods is pretty good about getting products and food from local businesses and farmers. 

Now you know my plan. I'm not sure how well it will work but at least I have a plan. Wish me luck.

What do you do when your fresh produce stands close down for the season? How to you afford to keep buying organic? 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Dad update

I just wanted to update you on what's been going on in my life lately.  Last year my dad found out he had pancreas cancer. He started turning yellow so he went to the doctor and they found the cancer while they were checking him out.  It was a very troubling time for us but we made it through. He had surgery and went through chemo. He started eating more and finally started to get better. Or so we thought.

Two weeks ago he started turning yellow again. Mom took him in again and they confirmed he had cancer again but this time in his liver.  But this time he wouldn't be so lucky. They will do surgery to put a stint in but they cannot remove the cancer.  He will undergo chemo once again but I'm worried because he is pretty skinny already.  I have not been taking very well this time.

Cancer seems bad but what makes this worst is the fact that he isn't my real DNA father. You see my DNA father was an alcoholic and my mother gave him a choice of us or his alcohol. He chose the alcohol.  My mother raised my sister and I all by herself.  My real DNA dad would come and go every few years just to make a point that he was my dad. He would come to visit, stir stuff up  and then he would leave so he wouldn't have to clean the mess up. He did this until last year.  he would call, cry on the phone, give me guilt trips for not letting my children see him, make me feel bad for not talking to him, and finally the last straw was him telling my brother to  (insert word starting with F ending with K) off and saying he could care less if he ever saw me again.  Thanks DNA dad, love you too.

When I was in high school my mom met Jon. They worked together and really made a great match. He took me in like his own and it was almost like he had always been there. Thinking about it now it must not of been fun with my real dad came to stir things up and he would have to clean up after him. Sorry dad. When I say dad I am referring to Jon.  Last year I cut all ties with my DNA father because mentally I just couldn't take it anymore.  

So all was well and I was finally emotionally good. And now this. I don't know what to do. Don't know what to say.  I am lost for words. There is nothing they can do to get this cancer out of him.  My dad is being taken away from me. The only dad Ive ever had who cared about me, hugged me, loved me, and was there for my physically, mentally and emotionally. And there is nothing I can do about it. I'm starting to question life itself. Question what could we have done differently. But again there is nothing I can do. 

I needed a few days to accept (well not I haven't fully accepted it still) and take everything in. At first I didn't want to write about it. Didn't want to air out my laundry to the whole world. But then I remembered. I started my blog as a outlet. To write about my passions good or bad. So I hope you all stick with me for a while. It's a really tough time for me but I promise to keep doing what I love and writing. Maybe you all have gone through this or are going through this. This is gonna be a long hard road for me and its nice to know I have friends who will listen and be there. 

Oh and about my next race in 2 weeks. yeah I suck still.  Not sure I will do the half marathon but at least I will do the 6.5 mile one. I dunno. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Get ready, its coming your way.

Get ready because here it comes. No matter how much you avoid it, its inevitable. About 3 years ago drug companies started having recalls and I started reading labels on the over the counter children medication. First thing hit me was the fact that I was giving my children this medication anytime they were to get any type of cold. Who was I to think it would cure them? Man I was dumb. Have you read the ingredients in these medications? Well thats a stupid question because no one can even pronounce let alone read them. From that day forward it was my mission to find natural alternatives and keep those nasty medications away from my children. 

Now i'm no expert so don't send me any hate mail. I just want to share with all you what been working for the past 3 years for us.  I just want to note that anytime there is anything serious I call my doctor or pediatrician. If they recommend coming in then that's what we do.  I am in no way putting my family in harms way.  But if there is a way to get better the natural way then we do it.  If you eat healthy you will not get sick very often. We do not eat processed food, prepackaged food, or junk. I pretty much make everything from scratch and 90% of our food is organic. And because of this we rarely get sick. About once or twice a year we get a cold. 

 This is my arsenal for fighting colds.  I keep my home stocked full of certain things. Most of these items you will already have in your kitchen. 

Shopping checklist 
1. Organic unfiltered apple cider vinegar
2. Local honey
3. Tea 
4. Multi vitamin
5.Black Elderberry Drops 
6. Cayenne Pepper

You may use any brand you want of these items. My favorite apple cider vinegar is Solana Gold because its somewhat local but I will use Bragg which is found everywhere. Either will cost around $5 for a large glass bottle.   My local honey company is Wessels Family Honey.  It's made in my home town of Forest Grove Oregon and comes in a glass jar. I get my lose leaf chamomile tea from Whole Foods but also I grow my own mint and lemon balm to make my own tea. Muti vitamins are bought from Trader Joe's because they have no preservatives and are all natural. One negative is that they are in a plastic honey bear size container. But they are only $2.99 and very budget friendly. Since we eat so healthy the girls only take them when they are sick for a extra boost. Elderberry drops I found at Whole Foods for $11.99. This bottle will last us all winter long.

Apple Cider Vinegar 

Virtues of vinegar
Your grandmother knew the virtues of vinegar. Her grandmother passed it down.  Hippocrates, called the Father of Medicine, first prescribed it as a remedy in 400 B.C. Not everyone knows that vinegar is more than salad dressing, but for centuries has been cherished as a preventative and curative elixir.  
Vinegar is fundamental. It's universal like water.  Cook, clean, bathe and nourish with it, like people did in simpler times.  Apple cider vinegar can also lesson the harmful effects of food bacteria like E Coli, concluded a 1996 joint research study at Nagoya Medical University in Japan.  Surprisingly, they found only 45 medical studies on the benefits of vinegar.  The small number was puzzling until a respected cancer nutritionist pointed out that big drug firms (who fund most medical research) do NOT want to research a natural ingredient like vinegar because IT CANT BE PATENTED.

The Mystery of The Mother
In organic vinegar, there is a cloudy substance in it. That mysterious veil is called The Mother and its unique to apple cider vinegar.  As raw apple juice is fermented to hard cider, protein enzymes link into a floating, molecular chain.  Many manufacturers unnecessarily expose vinegar to clarifying agents, heat and filtration.  Look's advertising pretty but what happened to the beneficial dormant living-enzyme proteins? Really going beyond the legend, even your own intuition.  ACV is worth further reading, more than there's room for here on my blog.  

ACV Remedies

Start the day with this each day.
1-2 tbsp of ACV, tbsp of honey and cold water. Heat will de-activate the enzymes.
Think of it as a tummy antibacterial solution.

Stuffed up? Have a sniffle? many try inhaling a deep whiff of cider vinegar instead of chemical filled nose sprays.

Nasty cut? Throughout history vinegar has been a time-honored antiseptic. 

Crave something tangy or vinegary with your meal? That's the body's digestive solution to cutting fats, proteins and sugars.

Internal Benefits
  • Rich in enzymes & potassium
  • Support a healthy immune system
  • Helps control weight
  • Promotes digestion & ph Balance
  • Helps soothe dry throats
  • Helps remove body sludge toxins

External Benefits
  • Helps maintain healthy skin
  • Helps promote youthful, healthy bodies
  • Soothes irritated skin
  • Relieves muscle pain from exercise 


WARNING! Never give honey to an infant under 12 months.

Did you know that honey contains copper, iron, silica, vitamin B, manganese, chlorine, calcium, potassium, sodium, phosphorous, aluminum and magnesium? Depending on the part of the world where the honey comes from, honey will vary in mineral content. 

Honey for pain relief: Mix 3 Tbls. of honey in boiled water and drink. Honey has natural pain-relieving powers.

Honey Relieves Coughs:Cut a lemon in 2 and extract the juice. Add juice to a 4 oz glass. Then add 2 Tablespoons of glycerine and fill the remaining glass with honey. Dosage: 1 teaspoon during the day. Stir with spoon before taking. If you have a night-time cough, take 1 teaspoon right before retiring and then another one during the night. If your cough is severe, take concoction every 4 hours starting with when you wake up. As the cough gets better, you take less and less.

I personally like this recipe.  1 tablespoon of local raw honey mixed with 2 tablespoons of organic unfiltered apple cider vinegar. Chase down with a drink of water.  If you have inflammation in your throat add 15-20 drops of Elderberry drops. 


Tea contains high levels of antioxidants, some of which are called polyphenols, flavonoids and catechins, and all of which take on the "free radicals" in the body and prevent them from harming the healthy cells on board.
In other words, sending in antioxidants is disease prevention in its finest form.  Antioxidants are ready and waiting not only in tea's but also in several fruits, vegetables, nuts, meats and even wines.  If that were not enough, tea also contains fluoride which benefits your teeth and has bacteria killing properties which help control bad breath and the formation of plaque. 

Sore Throat

So how do you get started in doing your body some good with tea? To get the most health benefits out of your teas, choose high-quality loose leaf teas from your local or online tea shop.  Brew it up and enjoy.

Black Elderberry

In a 2004 study it showed that i
t's likely that antioxidants called flavanoids—which are contained in the extract—stimulate the immune system.   Also, other compounds in elderberry, called anthocyanins, have an anti-inflammatory effect; this could explain the effect on aches, pains, and fever.

The leaves, twigs, branches, seeds and roots contain a cyanide producing glycoside. Ingesting any of these parts in sufficient quantity can cause toxic build of cyanide in the body. In addition, the unripened berry, flowers and "umbels" contain a toxic alkaloid. So do not use any part of the elderberry plant except for the berries. The berries are non toxic.  It's very important to not let children play with or near the plant.  


The Elder Tree was supposed to ward off evil influence and give protection from witches, a popular belief held in some cultures. If an elder tree was cut down, a spirit known as the Elder Mother would be released and take her revenge. The tree could only safely be cut while chanting a rhyme to the Elder Mother.
Herb Pharm recommends to take two to four times per day.  Take 30-40 drops in a little water or along with your ACV recipe.

Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne Pepper is an herb made from the dried pods of chili peppers. Besides being a very popular spice in cooking, cayenne has also been used medicinally for thousands of years. High in Vitamins A, C, B complex, calcium and potassium, cayenne is a wonderful healing aid for the digestive system since it acts as a catalyst and increases the effectiveness of other foods and herbs when used with them. It is also very healing for the heart and circulatory system. Studies have shown that Cayenne can rebuild the tissue in the stomach and the peristaltic action in the intestines.

Anytime one of us has a nasty cough or sore throat we sprinkle some of this in our hot tea. It helps with inflamed sore throats and pretty much stops the coughing all together. Just a sprinkle will do you. Its not hot and even my children will ask for this. Love it!

Okay so there you go. Did I miss anything? Anything else I need to add to my arsenal?