Sunday, January 31, 2010

Green Review Wholesome Sweeteners

Wholesome Sweeteners is a brand that I fell in love with. They have everything you need to sweeten up  just about everything. They were kind enough to send me several samples to try out and review for free. It was like Christmas in my home when the box arrived. Honey and sugar oh my oh my!
A few things you need to know about this company.
-They are the leader in natural organic sweeteners
-Made traditionally, minimally processed
-Partnered with AIB Certified organic sugar producer in the world to bring you a full line of organic sweeteners.
-Fair Trade Certified
-USDA Organic
-Appropriate for Kosher, vegetarian, began, halal and gluten-free diets.
-Made without the use of animal by-product

Fair Trade-What does this mean? Well a fair price is paid directly to farmers for their crops so that they can keep their land, send their kids to school and build thriving communities.

Organic Certified-To be certified organic they need to be the following. Grown and processed without exposure to synthetic chemicals, additives or GMO's.

Honey and agave-Made from green-cut cane and hand-harvested agave and honey;the remnants from production are recycled as fuel for the villages, wax is reused to help build the next seasons bee hives.

My review
They sent me so many products but I will review my favorites.

Organic Raw Honey-Multi-floral honeys collected by Mayan beekeepers in the tradition of their ancestors.  Raw Honey is thick creamy honey with a butterscotch essence; perfect in salad dressings, or with yogurt and hard cheeses.
I used this honey in our tea. My family has been sick the last few weeks so this honey was put to good use. I made hot chamomile tea with a spoonful of this thick wonderful honey. All of my children loved this honey because of its creamy sweet taste. Whenever they were coughing a lot, they would run to me and ask if they can have a teaspoon of this honey. They then would let it slowly dissolve away. IT really did help calm their coughs. I recommend this honey highly!

Organic Sugar-Free flowing organic sugar. Organic sugar holds just a hint of sugar cane's inherent molasses, which gives it a lovely pale blond color and mellow flavor.  The perfect one-for-one replacement for conventionally refined white sugar. From Paraguay.  I love the slightly sweet flavor of this sugar. Its wonderful in your morning coffee and even wonderful for all your baking needs. Ive used this so many times to make cookies for my children.
You bet I recommend this sugar.  You simply cannot go wrong with this one.

For more information about where to find this brand or want to check out their many different sweetener products, check their website out.

You may find these products in the NW at many stores including Whole Foods, New Seasons, and Fred Meyers.

Note:Wholesome Sweeteners did not pay me for this review.  I received these items for free of charge and tried them in my own time. This review is my own personal experience. Try them out for yourself, you wont regret it.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Agree to disagree 10+ years and running

Years ago we rented a old house that was surrounded by a concrete yard. We only had a front grass area that was maybe the size of a small pool.  Our back porch had some post about 4 ft from each other. One day I decided to string up some wire so I could hang up some towels to dry. When my boyfriend (not married just yet) came home, he wasn't happy about it. I explained to him how this could save us a little money by hanging them to dry but all I got was a funny look on his face.  So he explained to me it wont save us much money, looks really bad, and I used his stereo wire that was super expensive so my saving money idea really ended up costing us. This was the beginning of our green life.

Over the years we (I mean me) made more and more good green decisions in our life. From planning our wedding, buying our new home, to planning our lives. We decided on a small wedding which meant that I would have to get a part time job at a craft store so I could get a discount and make most of our wedding decorations. We bought our home within biking distance and also near a park so we could walk the kids there to play.  And now we own 4 duplex's which we will sell later so we can put money aside for the kids college funds.

I would not say its a battle but sometimes I think he thinks i'm a whack job. I get the strangest faces from him when he walks in on me and my newest challenges.  When he came home and I dug up our backyard to make a garden, he didn't say anything. Although he hated our fence system I had in place because it was ugly. I agree but it was the only way to keep our dog from eating our vegetables. He also didnt like the plastic pool that I cut the center out and planted my cucumbers in. Hey, it had a hole in it and it kept my cucumbers from traveling all over the garden. When he came home from work and saw the drying racks in the back yard with all our clothes on them, he did not like how it looked but said nothing because our neighbors could not see it. But it bothered him. The one thing that didn't bother him was our energy bill that went down that month because of me putting them outside to dry.
My husband is a good man and does many things to make our impact on this earth a little lighter. It was his idea to buy our VW Jetta which gets 45+ miles per gallon. His idea to buy our house where we live now so he can ride his bike to work. His idea find a house with a fireplace so we could save on our energy bill.  His idea to buy our dinning set on Craigs list and sell our old one. He also his idea to take the head chairs from our old set and make them match our new set. Lots and lots of sanding and painting. Also his idea to replace our old fence that has fallen down and reclaim all the wood to use in our fireplace. I am proud of him for trying. Proud of him for supporting my ethics. Proud of him period.
One amazing move we made together was buying this home. Our last home was almost new, twice the size of our first home,  had an amazing kitchen, huge tub, huge rooms, and everything that comes with a home. But we were miserable. We lived 45 minutes away from civilization. My husband would have to travel there everyday to work costing us over $300 a month in gas.  We never really felt at home. My children did not like the schools, we didn't like the school system.  Yes from the outside our home looked amazing and we looked happy. But really we were not. So at the worst time (late 2008 when houses weren't selling) we decided to make a huge move. We sold our house and lost about $20,000 from it. We threw in about $6,000 in updates to make this house shine above the rest. There were several houses for sale on our street.  For 2 months we kept that house spotless! And the couple who looked our home was a builder.  When he saw that we replaced the door hinges along with all the door hardware, he was sold.  He knew we went the extra mile for this home. he was happy to get a good home, we were happy to be the only home sold on the block and to get out of that town.

 My husband found a house within biking distance to his work that was expensive but really old. This home had good bones but was in need of updating. It was also half the size of our newly build home but larger than our first home.  We checked out the neighbors, schools, and zoning papers. This house had everything we wanted. Huge back yard check, future garden area check, play structure check, big garage check, on a cult-a-sack check, and lots of room for much much more. The moment we walked in we knew we were home.

You see two people can be very different but be the same. I am very out going and granola at heart. He is very private and handy in many ways. Its really true, opposites really do attract. One thing we do have in common is the way we live our life. We talk about every decision made. We think about how it will impact our footsteps here on earth. You see its not all about the money we save. Yes it's a nice bonus but not the key figure in this. Sometimes he thinks I go too far, and usually I don't think I go far enough. But over the years we have become one mind. We agree to disagree and it goes both ways. This is what makes us so good together.

So if your reading this and you have a significant other who just will not budge, there is hope. But you have to remember to think about their side of the story too. Its all about compromise.  Okay you can hang your clothes to dry but you have to allow me to do such and such. Its all about sacrifice and passion.  Making these two things work will help you along the way. Don't give up hope and always remember to have our next generation in sight with any decisions you make. As long as you both have this one thing in common, everything will be fine.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Put a cork in it!

This was the most easy project ever. Ive been collecting corks for about 6 months now thinking I would come up with another project idea. I was looking at them and all of a sudden it dawned on me. I remembered seeing these in a catalog but they were name tags. The name tags were so adorable but very costly. I think they were a set of 6 for $18. Taking their idea and expanding it is how I came up with this project. 

Sharp Knife
Bread Knife
Cutting board
Gloves-maybe work gloves


1. Find your favorite cork(s)
2.Use your sharp knife to cut the bottom so it makes the cork flat on one side and the cork will not roll over.
3. Take your bread knife and cut into the top of the cork (where the picture will go). Make it deep enough that you can insert the picture.  Maybe 1/2 centimeter-use your best judgement. Use a bread knife because it will cut and remove a tiny bit of the cork. This will make it easier for you to insert your picture.
4. Insert picture.
5. Done!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Homemade Goodness *Almond Milk*

Almond milk is usually about $2-$3 to buy in the grocery store. We recently discovered that one of my 5 yr old twins was lactose intolerant and were trying out different alternatives to milk. She really did not like the taste of soy, hemp was way too expensive, and rice she only liked when it was flavored with vanilla. So we ended up just buying mostly almond milk. After her getting used to drinking it, I decided to try my hand at making it myself. I am so glad I did. There are several recipe's out there but I decided to give you the basic one and you can alter it however you want.

Almond Milk
1 cup of almonds
3 1/2 cups of water
Fabric Jam bag -found in the canning aisle. Look for one with drawstring
Glass container( I use a mason jar)
Large bowl or large glass measuring cup(one that holds 3 1/2 cups of water)

1.  Start by soaking your almonds in water overnight.
2.  Next morning drain out water and set aside.
3. Add 3 1/2 cups of water to blender
4. Blend the snot out of it. I would say maybe 2-3 minutes on high.
5. While blending get your bowl
6. Set strainer inside bowl
7. Put fabric jam bag inside strainer
8. Once blending is done pour all the mixture into fabric jam bag slowly.
9.  Pull drawstrings shut and wring out all the milk.
10. Remove strainer and pour milk into your mason jar
11. Refrigerate-keeps good for up to 1 week.

Now that my daughter cannot have cow's milk, I substitute all milk in my recipes with this almond milk and it taste exactly the same as milk. If its too creamy for you, just add 4 cups of water instead of 3 1/2. Like vanilla almond milk? Add 1 tsp of vanilla and 2 tbsp of honey.

BONUS-Keep the almond meal left over from making your milk. It can freeze for up to 3 months. I use the almond meal when I make my own bread and its super yummy when you use it with flour and pan fry fish. Mmmmm. Just don't throw it away, get creative with it. Almond has lots of protein and has tons of flavor!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Create your own worm hotel

What a fun idea for the kids! I found this idea on a paper insert from my favorite tea we buy for the kids, Traditional Medicinals Throat Coat.

Recipe: A tall narrow glass jar, soil, water, black paper, tape or rubber bands, small pieces of grass and leaves, lettuce, coffee grounds and don't forget the earthworms!

Directions: Fill jar with damp soil (not so wet this can drown the worms). Place the worms in the soil, put leaves, lettuce and coffee grounds on top of the soil. Wrap the jar with black paper and secure it with tape or rubber bands. Let this sit for 24 hours and remove the paper the next day. Have the worms burrowed along the glass? Did they eat any food? Now you can see how important worms can be to help breakdown your compost pile.

When your done with this experiment, have the kids dump it out into your home compost. Teaches them to respect nature and let the little critters go home.

Did you know?
-Worms can grow new tails if they are cut off, but they cannot brow a new head.
-Worms do not have eyes but they can sense light. If they are in light for too long, they will become paralyzed.
-Worms can eat their weight each day.
-If a worm's skin dries out, it will die.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Little things I love

Once again I found an amazing mug at a local Goodwill. This time I paid $1.99. I believe whoever made this mug was still learning. You can see their marks all over it. They have an amazing eye for color and must have been testing out different dipping techniques. I love how the rustic naked clay on the bottom was left as is. Love love love it. It does have a signature but I cannot tell you what it says. I wish there was a year mark on it. Don't you just love the naked clay on the bottom?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Fight off cold and flue attacks the natural way

About a year ago I decided to not take any medications and only use all natural methods. Having 4 children you can see how expensive it was getting. Not only that but I was noticing that these over the counter medicines were only masking the symptoms, but they were filled with all kinds of things I could not even pronounce. I could not believe how long I was giving my kids these medications. Bad bad mommy. Since then we have used alternative methods to help us get healthy and fight off colds. We have had some ear infections and strep throat that we took our girls into their doctors and was prescribed medications. Now instead of just heading over to the doctor right away, we will try to fix it naturally. We call their doctor and get advise about everything that comes our way. If their doctor wants my girls to come in, we head right on over. But almost 80% of the time we do not have to and our natural methods work. This might not be for everyone but it works for us.
We have saved a ton of money in many ways. The best example is when my twins get a cold. When one gets sick, the other is usually sick too. Its unavoidable. In order to take my twins to the doctor it cost me $40 (2 $20 co pay)just to walk in the door. Yikes! And then there's the medication cost too. Last month I took all 4 of my daughters in to get flu shots and it cost me $80.
There are lots of ways to prevent getting sick. Even with flu shots, you can still get sick. You want to do everything you can to prevent getting sick. That means keeping your hands clean, exercising daily, getting enough sleep, controlling stress, and eating right. While there is no food that can protect you 100% (not even chicken soup! but it can shorten the flu's duration), eating lots of healthy foods can deliver the nutrients to fortify your immune system.

Eat healthy
Vitamin A-Keeps the lining of your nasal and respiratory passages in shape so they can defend against invaders. This vitamin is so important for fighting infection that even a small deficiency boost your risk of respiratory ills. But too much of it can cause birth defects and raise the odds of osteoporosis.
Vitamin A can be found in bright-orange and deep green veggies. Sweet potatoes, winter squash, carrots(super cheap), spinach(fresh if you can), kale and collard greens.

Protein provides raw materials to manufacture disease busting antibodies. More antibodies means less infection. Many protein heavy foods contain saturated fats so be aware of this.
Steer clear of steak, dark meat poultry and full-fat-cheeses;stick with low fat dairy, skinless white chicken, ground turkey breast, tofu, fish, nuts and beans.

Vitamin C
Vitamin C protects your lungs from flu damage by helping your body crank out protective immune cells known as chemokines and cytokines. These defenders send signals throughout your body, telling it that its infection-fighting time.
Not only drink your OJ but also produce superstars contain vitamin C. Strawberries, bell peppers, broccoli, tomatoes and kiwi also are filled with vitamin C.

Vitamin D
Vitamin D-3 strengthens your immune-fighting capabilities but many of us come up short of this vitamin in winter. If you feel your living outside of the sun belt, head on over to the store and pick up some Vitamin D-3 and get 1,000 IU of it a day. Take with a little fat to help absorption.

Friendly Fats
Healthy fats are found in many nuts. Walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, and peanuts have lots of friendly fats in them. Also olive oil and avocados too! They help you absorb vitamins A and D and also decrease inflammation which means you will suffer less with the flu.

Watch your weight
Eating more than you need can weaken your resistance. Researchers have found that too much blubber suppresses your inflammation fighters.

Anyway you look at it, you need to eat healthy and exercise to keep the flu/colds away. Here are a few things you should have around your home that can help with colds/flu

Honey-Do not give honey to an infant under 12 months. "For at least 2700 years, honey has been used to treat a variety of ailments through topical application, but only recently have the antiseptic and antibacterial properties of honey been chemically explained. Wound Gels that contain antibacterial honey and have regulatory approval for wound care are now available to help conventional medicine in the battle against drug resistant strains of bacteria MRSA. As an antimicrobial agent honey may have the potential for treating a variety of ailments. One New Zealand researcher says a particular type of honey may be useful in treating MRSA infections. Antibacterial properties of honey are the result of the low water activity causing osmosis, hydrogen peroxide effect, and high acidity. Honey may also be used to alleviate the effects of a sore throat, by mixing with lemon juice and consumed. The mixture coats the throat alleviating discomfort, and the antibacterial, antiseptic properties are good for the throat as well." (Wikipedia)
For coughs we take 1tsp of honey and lemon juice and slowly let it dissolve in our mouth.

ACV aka Apple Cider Vinegar-Apple Cider Vinegar, that wonderful old-timers home remedy, cures more ailments than any other folk remedy -- we're convinced! From the extensive feedback received from many people over the years, the reported cures from drinking Apple Cider Vinegar are numerous. They include cures for allergies (including pet, food and environmental), sinus infections, acne, high cholesterol, flu, chronic fatigue, candida, acid reflux, sore throats, contact dermatitis, arthritis, and gout. One person reported that a shot of ACV saved him from going to the emergency room for heart pain. Apple Cider Vinegar also breaks down fat and is widely used to lose weight. It has also been reported that a daily dose of apple cider vinegar in water has high blood pressure under control in two weeks!
Apple Cider Vinegar is also wonderful for pets, including dogs, cats, and horses. It helps them with arthritic conditions, controls fleas & barn flies, and gives a beautiful shine to their coats!
If you can get over the taste of apple cider vinegar, you will find it one of the most important natural remedies in healing the body. As a wonderful side effect of drinking apple cider vinegar every day, doctors have discovered that it brings a healthy, rosy glow to one's complexion! This is great news if you suffer from a pale countenance.
When were sick we take 2 tbsp of ACV a day. One in the morning and one in the evening.
Cayenne PepperCayenne 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.
Cayenne is traditionally used by herbalists to cure stomach aches, cramping, gas, varicose veins, allergies, and constipation. One of the most amazing healing properties of cayenne is that it has been used successfully time and time again to relieve heart attacks.
When we are sick I try using the cayenne pepper and make spicy meals. Especially with stuffy nose's, this spice does the trick.
I could go on and on about things in your home to help ailments. One amazing site I recommend is You name it, its there. This is my go to site anytime we have any problems. Readers have the ability to leave suggestions or warn against suggestions. Yea or No letting you know what worked or doesn't work. Bookmark this site and try it out next time you need a cure for any ailment you might have.

Note:I am not a doctor and if you medical advise call your doctor. These are just things that I have tried and we make a personal choice to live our life this way. Each persons body is different so call your doctor and talk to them about any natural method or plan you are planning to try.
Credits-Oregonian, wikipedia, and

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Super easy FREE ways to be a little greener

I used to think being green was going to be expensive and a task in itself. But you know once the ball started rolling, it really was so easy. I was just over thinking it like I do with every other thing in my life. You see, I'm what you call an indecisive person. I know, it sucks. Whats worst is that my best friend is also one. Not a good combo lol.
What was I talking about? Oh yeah, going green. I started this whole thing and eventually my husband jumped on board. Once he started seeing our money stay into our account he took notice. And now its funny because he will catch me sometimes going into my old habits. He will see me throw something away ( I obviously was not paying attention to what I was doing or my children were at my heels..) and he will say "That's not very green of you!". Drat! But I'm glad he does this. Over the years we have been adding to our list of green decisions. Maybe some you have done, and hopefully there are things you can get inspiration from. So here we go....

Find a greener job-What I mean by this is maybe look for work closer to your home. Then you could walk or bike to work . You pay less gas, get exercise, and the more your car stays at home the better. My husband started a recycling program at his work and I couldn't be more proud of him. Last year we moved so close to his work that the only time he drives is if he is sick. This has saved us over $200 a month in gas alone. Just keep these idea's in mind when your looking for a new job.

Just say no to styro-Styrofoam that is. Its made from petroleum and rarely can be recycled. Its just bad all around. You can avoid it easily. When you buy meat, insist its wrapped in paper which can be recycled. Work use Styrofoam? Bring it to their attention and insist on paper items instead. If you get them to switch, encourage people to bring their own reusable items.

Choose recycled paper-You can get virtually any paper product recycled now days. Its the "in" thing to do now. I was amazed how many recycled items they were selling at school time this year. When I say recycled I mean the product was made from recycled paper or one product waste turned into something useful. For example my daughter bought a pencil pouch made from lays potato chip bags. Super sturdy and look so cool. Think about these items when you buy gifts. My daughter bought her friend recycled paper pencils, note book and a pencil pouch for her birthday. For Christmas that same friend bought my daughter a cool spiral made from recycled paper and a cool paper pencil. See how it starts? Just gotta get the ball rolling!

Use less paper-Since were on the subject I thought I would throw this one in. When I print things at home, I reuse any of the paper I can. When I print color pages, I use both sides of the paper. My daughters bring home a ton of paper from school. I go through it all and any of the paper that's blank on one side, it goes into our printer. You can also use less toilet paper by doing the clothe challenge. Simply take an old flannel sheet (or find one at a thrift store) and cut it up into squares(no sewing needed). Simply use these squares when going #1 (or #2 if you dare!) and wash with your laundry. This alone will save you a bundle each month. We use toilet paper for #2 in my home so don't feel bad if you cannot do the challenge all the way.

Turn it off! If its not in use, unplug it or turn it off. I cannot even count how many times I have to turn off lights in rooms with no kids in them. Did you know that even when an appliance type item is plugged in but off, it still uses energy? Very little but that little bit adds up. So start unplugging items when your done. It turns into a habit once you start. Sometimes I wont even turn on the lights if its a bright day. I will open up all the drapes and that's just enough light for us.

Lets talk thermo-To save on energy we keep our thermostat at 58 degrees. During the day its at 64 degrees. At first it was too cold for me but after a while we were used of it. If we have a fire going it gets turned off completely. During the day is perfect because the kids are not in their rooms. We shut all our room doors so it keeps the heat in the main living area. By doing this simple step, we save a bundle in energy cost.

Be neighborly-I have amazing neighbors. We take turns walking or driving the kids to school. This saves us gas and sanity. lol. My next door neighbor and myself go back and forth on who can be more green or save money. Its so much fun egging each other on. This is not only fun but we inspire each other. We now share our garbage service and during the summer we swap produce. Currently were looking into sharing a paper. All the neighbors swap clothing, daycare, and if were looking for something in particular we let each other know. I was able to get a wagon this way. So get friendly and be a good neighbor.

Buy local-I'm not just talking produce from the farmers market. Yes you should do that too! I'm talking when it comes to anything. Have a local hardware store and a big chain store? Choose the local store. Chances are the owner is a local of your town and has to support his family too. Also they would be more likely to carry local products. Local compost, bark dust, etc. Always support local business when it comes to anything. Need a gift to send to a friend? Buy something local. We have a Made In Oregon store that I just love. They have great products to give as gifts. Maybe your state has a specialty cheese? Who wouldn't want cheese? I love cheese.....

Get used-Buy used is what I really man. How about this year you challenge yourself. Instead of heading out to the store to buy a lamp, head over to your local thrift store instead. Since my childhood I was a thrift store rat. So much so that I just love the smell of a thrift store. It really gets my heart going. It was an option for me in my 20's and now in my 30's its my only option. Why buy new items when there are perfectly good used items to get? Your not only saving things from going to the landfill but your saving money. Make it a challenge and stick to it. Only rule in my home is personal items like undies are bought new. Otherwise everything else is game.

No packaging-Instead of rummaging through the inner aisles at the store, try hitting up their bulk section. I invested $2 at my local Dollar Store for 2 packs of 4PC mesh bags used for putting sports stuff in. They look very much like the net bags you wash your bra's in. I use these for my bulk purchases like noodles or beans and also use them for my produce. They weigh just about the same as a plastic bag they have everywhere in the bulk section. Yet you can reuse them a zillion times, wash them, and never have to worry about recycling the plastic bags again(wishing that you do recycle them...). Why buy no packaging? There are two huge reasons why. Number one you save some tree's from being cut down. You get the idea. Less paper you have to take home and recycle. Number two you save a bundle of money. Why pay $1.09 for whole wheat noodles prepackaged when you can buy it for 90 cents per lb in the bulk section? Your saving 10 cents per package. Get the idea? Good for the earth, good for your purse. Now days you can find just about everything in the bulk section. Here in Oregon Winco has the largest bulk section Ive found. Love it!

Shower me with savings-This is the simplest idea out there. When I worked, for some reason I had to take a shower before my shift each day. I think its was just my mind routine because I really didn't need to take one each day. How about taking a shower every other day. Your water bill will be lower which saves you money. Have kids? Combine them in one bath. I have 5 yr old twins and I have given them a bath together since birth. I cannot do this anymore since they think the bathtub is a pool. So now I give one a bath, take her out and put the other one in. I still use 1 bathtub full of water. We also have a rule when it comes to bath. Once the water passes your privates, water goes off. No need for a full bathtub and less mess for mommy. Not a bath taker? Put a kitchen timer in the bathroom. Set to 5 minutes and take your shower. When it dings, time to get out. How easy can that be?

Foaming at the mouth-Another great way to save money is using a foam dispenser. I bought mine years ago from Pampered Chef but you can do it even more cheaper. Now days you can find liquid hand soap in a foam dispenser. Once it runs out, simply fill it up 25% with soap and 75% with water. Shake it up a bit and your ready to go again. If your kids are like mine, they use a ton of soap when they wash their tiny hands. I keep one dispenser in my bathroom and one in my kitchen. Back in the day I would buy 1 liquid soap every 2 weeks. Now I refill ours maybe once every month or so maybe. Still washing their hands and getting the dirt and germs off but using the appropriate amount of soap.

Kick your plastic habit-Stop buying zip lock style bags. These things are plastic first of all. Who knows what these things are actually made of so putting your food in them is not the best idea. Remember the days before these bags were made? Glass containers with lids can still be made, safe plastic containers also are made (not recommended), or what about good old Tupperware? I choose to use glass. If I do not have a container I use bowls with a plate over the top. Its been almost 2 years since I quit my plastic bag habit and its been nice. Now days you can find fabric sandwich bags for kids lunches or snacks. Reusable water bottles and stainless steel small containers are big sellers now. For NW locals you can find all of these items at Whole Foods or New Season and pay no shipping cost as you would with purchasing on the net.

I could go on and on about this subject but this should be good enough for now. No worries, I will be bringing you more easy ways to be greener eventually. So chew on these for a while.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Oats Oats and more Oats!

Oats are the little grain that could. Its always in the pantry waiting patiently for you to use it up. Usually just for cookies but never for regular food. Until now! I thought you could get a little more acquainted with oats.
Oats are packed with protein, B vitamins, calcium, iron and beta-glucan, an especially heart-healthful form of fiber that has been shown to lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels. Did you know there are 4 different type's of oats? Here's the low down..

Oats Groats-Whole oats that have been toasted, hulled, and cleaned. In addition to being cooked as a hot cereal, groats can be used to make chewy grain dish similar in texture to spelt or farrow.

Steel-Cut/Pinhead/Irish/Scottish Oats-Toasted oat goats that have been broken into three to four pieces.

Rolled/Old-Fashioned Oats-Groats that are steamed and rolled flat for quicker cooking. Rolled oats or quick-cooking oats work best in baked goods. For oatmeal that's both creamy and chewy, look for thick-cut rolled oats.

Quick-Cooking Oats-Oat groats that have been broken into pieces then rolled flat so that they will cook in four to five minutes. The tender choice for baked gooks.

Instant Oats-Thin, precooked rolled oats that need only be rehydrated with hot liquid.

1 cup of oatmeal contain:
166 calories
6 g protein
4 g fiber
1mg manganese
13 mcg selenium
63 magnesium

Are oats gluten-free?
Although raw, unprocessed oats contain no gluten, many oat products are cross-contaminated with wheat gluten at some time during the processing. If gluten is an issue for you, buy oats with "gluten free" on the label, which indicates oats were processed in facilities where they have not come into contact with wheat or wheat products.

I eat many types of oatmeal several times a week for breakfast. My favorite way is super easy to make.
Cook as usual. Add 1 tsp of brown sugar, pinch of cinnamon, tiny tab of butter (makes it creamy) and handful of slivered almonds. Oh so yummy! Keeps me full till lunch. My twins love it and eat every bit of it. Their favorite right now is a Bobs Red Mill 5 grain cereal mix. Its more chunky and they like the texture.

Wanna try something different? Oat meatloaf!

Oat Meatloaf

2 cups old-fashion oats divided
2 cloves of garlic minced divided
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion chopped
1 tbsp Italian seasoning mix
1 15oz can of chopped tomatoes
8oz of ground meat. Turkey/beef/chicken which ever you choose
3/4 tsp vinegar
3/4 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups prepared marinara sauce

Preheat oven 350 degree's F
1. Brown ground meat until done and set aside.

2. Coat your pan with olive oil. Bring 1/2 cup oats, 1tsp garlic, bay leaf and 1 cup water to boil in saucepan. Reduce heat on medium low cover and cook 10 minutes. Remove from heat once thickened. Remove the bay leaf and set aside.

3. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, and saute 3-5 minutes. Add Italian Spices and remaining 1 tsp garlic, and saute 1 minute. Add chopped tomatoes and juice. Crumble meat into mixture and stir in vinegar and sugar. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

4. Transfer meat mixture to food processor or blender, add cooked oatmeal, and blend until combined. Add remaining 1 1/2 cups oats and baking powder, and pulse until combined.

5. Spread oat mixture in prepared loaf pan. Spray top with olive oil and pour marinara sauce over top. Bake 50 minutes to 1 hour or until top begins to brown and marinara sauce is hot and bubbly.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Frugal Garden even possible? Why yes it is!

Walking through my grandmothers garden I take in all the smells, colors, and textures of her huge garden. From the beautiful tomato's that I ate till my stomach hurt, the super sweet raspberries my grandfather loved, the sunflowers that laid out in the sun to dry, and even the beautiful onions that I would not eat. Traveling out to my grandmothers was all about the garden to me. I was not there to visit or hang out with the family. I was only there for the food. Running into the kitchen to grab several plastic containers my grandmother would save and use for the picking produce and next thing you heard was her screen door slamming behind me as I take off into the garden.Every year this was our ritual. Summer time meant heading off to the garden. Only rule was that if you wanted anything from the garden, you had to help out with the garden. Help tilling up the soil, planting the seeds, picking weeds, harvesting everything, and help canning or freezing it. No lazy gardeners here. My favorite part of all was giving out produce to our friends or neighbors. We lived in low income housing apartments so there were plenty of people who were in need of free food. This is what gardening was all about for me. I am blessed to have all these experiences and memories. I believe this is how I became the woman I am today. Thank you mom for giving me all of this.
Can you have a frugal garden? Why yes! Over the years I have learned tricks on how to save money with your garden. I will over time bring you more and more tips but for now lets just start with the seeds. These are my seeds I ha
ve collected for this years garden. In total I might have paid about $10 for all of these.
5 packets alone regular price would be over $10. Here is how I do it.

After season sales
This years sales benefit next years garden. After the garden season is over, you want to head over to the stores you know do not carry these items seasonally. Try to wait for at least a month after the season is over before you go hunting for seeds. This way you can get them for 90% off instead of 50% or 75% off. All the seeds above in light blue were bought at Walgreen's for about a nickel each. This is great for a few reasons. Your paying almost nothing for seeds that will grow so many. If you can or freeze your produce, you save on money all year. Also you get to try new things you normally would not due to only buying what you need. I love flowers but cannot see buying them (especially annual's) just to have to replant them the next year. Getting them for pennies allows me to try new stuff.

Free seeds
Sometimes when you order plants on the Internet or from the catalog, they will send you free seeds. They want to encourage you to buy more by giving you free gifts. They think by doing this you will want to buy more. I see it as free seeds! The white/green seed packet is Huckleberry Tree seeds. My father in law gave these to me because he has no need for them. I believe he received them for free with some tree's he bought. Also during the summer you can get free seeds. There are a few programs that will send you free seeds to help with bug population. I was able to get sunflower and tomato seeds last summer this way. So keep an eye out for those.

Each summer I travel 30 minutes to Sauvie Island here in Oregon. They have a wonderful farm called The Pumpkin Patch that grows and sells all its amazing produce and flowers. Anything I didn't grow in my garden, I buy from them. Last summer I wised up. Why not collect seeds from produce I bought from the farm? It has to be easy right? Well not always. I love pumpkin in just about any type of dessert. They had over a dozen amazing beautiful pumpkins they were selling and I would only be able to get those type of seeds if I ordered them off the Internet or catalog. Ah ha! Why don't I save the seeds and grow my own! I simply cut a pumpkin in half, scooped the seeds out, and baked it. I put the pumpkin puree into freezer safe containers and froze it for later use. The seeds I simply washed off with water and laid out to dry. This is where "sorta" comes in play. If you do not let them dry long enough, they can mold. So if you think they are dry, let them dry another week. In the picture I was able to only save 3 types of pumpkin seeds. Trial and error. This year will be better.
Organic or not
These seeds above I bought at New Season's for 75% off. I really want a all organic garden but know when I'm living a frugal life, there was no way I would spend $3 per pack of seeds. Yes in the long run its an investment and my money would go far. I simply do not have that kind of money. So what I do is hit the all natural stores who I knew carried them seasonally. All the seed packets above are certified USDA Organic. The yellow packs kinds urked me because they were in plastic bags. Yes they can be recycled but why do it to begin with? These seeds had a sell by date of 10/10 so I knew they would be find until next summer. Also they had some beautiful plants that I would normally not be able to find in my local garden store. Just look at that amazing red sunflower! Buying these after the season gives me the chance to be an organic farmer.

Sharing seeds
Have a friend or family member who also gardens? Share seeds with each other and save even more money. My husbands co worker knew I gardened and gave me 5 tomato plants that I did not have. They grew huge and I has so many tomato's that the kids were allowed to go in the garden and eat any they wanted whenever they wanted. And there the memories flood in again....I did the same thing as a child. My neighbor has an amazing garden around all of her property that I just sit and stare at in amazement. Picturing myself bowing down in awww. I'm not worthy I'm not worthy! She share's seeds with me. Last summer she paid my daughters to take care of her garden and dog while her family went on vacation. My girls were in garden heaven! Not only did she allow us to eat anything we wanted but she had 5 lbs of oranges and 5 lbs of carrots in her fridge for us to eat. Oh and a half bottle of wine for the parents. Yummy! My girls loved the opportunity to do this for her. Just get with your friends/family and make a plan before the garden season is here. Learn new tips, money saving tips, and help each other out.

Cannot wait to blog about compost, garden planning, and bringing you amazing pictures (thanks to my new amazing camera) to share with all of you. This garden season will be just amazing. I'm so excited!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sustainable-travel map of central Cascades

A new map designed around sustainable travel in the central Cascades of Oregon and Washington will be unveiled Tuesday by project partners National Geographic and Travel Oregon.
The Central Cascades Geotourism MapGuide is detailed, full-color depiction of Eco-friendly travel destinations in the Cascades between Mount Rainier and Crater Lake national parks.
The map can be picked up free at select tourism information centers, downloaded on their website or ordered with a $5 shipping fee from its companion Web site or by calling Travel Oregon at 899-547-7842.

Geotourism is a way for people to explore and experience new environments and coultures that leaves them unspoiled for future generations. In the Central Cascades of Washington and Oregon, where breathtaking beauty can be found at every turn, we need to strive to promote the principles of geotourism every day. So as you take your journey to some of the most captivating places on Earth, I hope that you not only will be enriched by the experience but will be inspired to conserve and protect it-so you and all those who follow can enjoy it time and time again.

Tips for sustainable travel

Honor Protected Areas
Follow advisories and regulations when visiting protected areas (such as staying on established trails) and respect the rights of private landowners. Remember the usage fees you pay support local management programs and conservation efforts necessary to protect and maintain these areas.

Leave no trace
Follow all principles of the Leave No Trace Program-from preparation to preservation to respect for wildlife and others. Minimize your impact for the good of everyone.

Keep wildlife wild
Help protect this region's abundant wildlife. Maintain a respectful distance, use binoculars and telephoto lenses, refrain from feeding wild animals, and protect wildlife and your food securely storing your meals and trash, especially when camping.

Be Prepared, Stay Safe
Learn about local conditions and regulations before venturing out: What's the weather forecast? How are the roads? Are open fires permitted or camp stoves required? Remember that many mountain roads are gravel or single lane, and always carry tire chains during the fall, winter, and spring. Dress in layers-it's not uncommon to experience several seasons during the same day. Consider hiring a local guide for challenging activities.

Shop Local
Support the true regional character you've come to see by consciously spending your time and money at local businesses with local employee's, who offer locally produced food and products, handicrafts, and art. Your dollars will benefit the region and also help communities preserve traditions and protect natural resources.

Local Cultures
Be aware that you may encounter cultural differences. Research local customs, social norms, and environmental issues before you arrive, especially when visiting tribal reservations.

Reverse Your Route
Visit popular places at off-peak times and travel popular itineraries in reverse order. Seek unique experiences at lesser known attractions.

Mind Your Resources
Help conserve the natural resources you've come to visit by following the principles of reduce, reuse and recycle. Support tour operators, outfitters, and service providers that incorporate green practices into their operations.

Park the car
Explore the area by getting out into it-try walking, cycling, or taking public transportation for a portion of your travels. Rent fuel-efficient or hybrid vehicles when a car is necessary.

Give back
Enhance the value of meaning of your visit by volunteering your time to a local cause or project while you're in the area. Make a financial donation to an organization that supports environmental stewardship band community well-being the region.

We will be taking a really big vacation this July and I will be taking all these tips into consideration when we plan our trip. What great tips and information.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Urban Gleaners-Breaking the bread tossing habbit

Tracy Oseran is the dynamo behind Urban Gleaners, a small food-rescue organization. She started Urban Gleaners about 3 years ago. At first the SW Portland native and her daughter drove around in the family car picking up unserved food from a few Portland restaurants, then delivered it to nonprofits that feed the homeless.
Urgan Gleaners has grown much more since then. Now they have a small warehouse, an Old Town Kitchen and a van of its own. It picks up 40,000 pounds of food each month.
Feeding hungry people inspired Oseran to start out but her work has environmental benefits as well. 40,000 lbs of food saved from a landfill.
The Oregon Food Bank also saves 11,000 tons of food but only to larger quantities of food leaving behind the smaller ones for Oseran.
Trying to keep food out of landfills, Metro provided grants to help out five nonprofits purchase trucks so they could pick up unused food from local restaurants and groceries
. Orseran how now started to deliver food to local schools. Urban Gleaners now delivers to Powellhurst School in Southeast Portland every Tuesday and Thursday. Everything from cereal boxes to canned tuna that can be placed into little backpacks. Kids love the prizes they get to take home.
"I just want to pick up food and take it to people who needed it," Oseran says.
People wishing to volunteer time at Urban Gleaners, or, restaurants and groceries that would like to schedule pick ups, should call 503-226-8061

I not only wanted to highlight a local hero in my eyes but I also wanted to inspire others to do so. Start by contacting your local state ran food bank and asking how you can help. Or maybe as simple as taking your left overs to homeless shelters. Its easy to do and helps out in more ways than one. We could all get a little inspiration from this Oseran.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Little things I love

My best friend and I took a little trip to a neighboring town to check out their selection of glass ware. I was shocked how much they had in this store. It was a much better selection and this store doesn't use nasty tape to wrap their sets with. I was happy because I did not have to go home and take 30 minutes to remove the tape with toxic cleaners (the only thing to get it off). These three styles made my day.
First of all I will describe the top left item. I found this set of 6 bowls for only $7.99. A bit more than I wanted to spend but they are old and you rarely find sets that old. Natural in color with brown along the scalloped edge.
Next is the top right corner. These are medium size plates perfect for having a sandwich or small lunch. I found a set of 4 for only $2.99. Again a natural color with brown glaze on the edge. Just love the color.
And last but not least the bottom bowl. I only found 2 of these but couldn't pass them up. Natural in color with a band of golden yellow, orange and brown. I think I paid 99 cents each for them. So worth it!
I just love quilts. I love that someone took little nothing scraps and made something wonderful. Reminds me of the song "Coat of many colors" by Dolly Parton. My mother used to play this song and it really stuck in me. Really brings a tear to my eye when I listen to it. This quilt in the picture was made as a throw or possibly for a toddler bed. I use it as a throw in my living room. I keep 2 of these folded up on a shelf and they look so pretty over there just waiting for someone to use them. I found this at a Goodwill Outlet which sells by the pound. This quilt weighs a little over 1 lb so I might have paid about $1.50 for it. It is hand stitched and made from all sorts of beautiful fabric squares. This is one of my favorites in my home. Just love it!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

North Portland's Tool-Lending

NPTL North Portland Tool Library

The North Portland Tool Library (NPTL) is a community resource dedicated to building community and fostering sustainability by providing residents with tools and the power to use them. They loan a wide variety of tools to community members free of charge. The NPTL benefits North Portland residents by reducing the costs of maintaining and improving the places in which we live, work, and play. The NTPL helps support diverse, livable neighborhoods and fosters community pride.

NTPL has over 1,100 different tools to choose from, 900 of them were donated. The NTPL was founded in 2004 and they already have over 2,500 members. They also have a North Portland library and in the spring they will have a South East Portland library. Now if they could have a West Portland library!

Registration with the Library is free to all residents of North Portland and there are no costs aside from late fees and replacement charges.
Membership with the North Portland Tool Library is free and entitles you to borrow from our inventory of over 500 tools to assist in your project. There are a few simple steps, you must: 1) Be at least 18 years of age
2) A resident of North Portland
3) Review the NPTL Borrowing Rules
4) Fill out and sign the Borrowers agreement

To register, simply come on down to the North Portland Tool Library when we are open to sign up. Documents needed to register:

1) Oregon ID
2) Utility Bill
3) 2nd piece of mail to verify address.

I recently read about this place in the Oregonian Newspaper and had to write about it. As a homeowner myself, its gets pretty expensive to do any home improvements. First you need to find out what you need, then go to the store and buy the items and then 50% of the time you need another tool you don't have. And this is why it gets so expensive. If you were to go rent one from a tool store, its 1/3 of the price of the tool brand new. Luckily my husband had tools when we met, he has lots of friends who have tools and my father in law is stocked up with them too. But there are times when we just cannot find a certain tool and we have to buy it. This place would of came in handy and could of saved us a bundle. Unfortunately I do not live in North Portland. You have to live in North Portland to rent them.
What a great idea this is. Now if we could get more cities on board, this would be a great asset to any community. Just think about how much money you would save, they would save and how this would bring your community together.
So if your in Portland and need a tool, check their site out and see if they have it. Lets join each other and support our community.

Or if your in the neighborhood, come on by and check them
2209 N.Schofield , Portland Oregon 97217
Saturdays 9am-2pm
Tuesdays 5:30-7:30pm

Dont forget to check Surviving and thriving on pennies on Facebook!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Clothe Challenge Continued...

Its been one week now and were still going good. I thought I would just update you on the good or bad of this challenge so far.

NOTE:I have regular toilet paper for my guest. Ive had people comment how they feel bad for my guest that come over. I took this into consideration when I first started this challenge. My views are not everyone's views and I understand that.

-My kids have been doing this with no reminders from me. My favorite pro so far!

-Sometimes they throw them in the toilet which means mama goes fishing. Only happened twice so far....thankfully

-Not enough for a whole wash of just pee pee clothes (my kids call them that) so they get washed with all our usual clothes. Our clothes do not smell of pee and everything gets clean like usual.

-We choose to keep a small basket on the back of the toilet for our clean ones, and hang a net bag on the toilet paper roll for everyone to put dirty ones in.

-I can easily just toss the net bag into the wash with all dirty ones inside. They stay contained and get clean. When put in the dryer, I open the net bag and dry them with all the other clothes.

-For now my cut up rags work. I will be looking for better ones or make better ones later. For now, these are free and they work.

-We have used only 2 single rolls of toilet paper since last week. Usually we go through one and sometimes two a day. Will be discussing how much toilet paper to use with #2. My kids use way too much.

-My bathroom does not smell like pee or anything. I was thinking it might since we hang our net bag by the toilet. Some blogs recommend keeping a container filled with water for their dirty rags. I have small children and this will not work for me. The dirty rags dry pretty quick and I do laundry 2 times a day so there is never any dirty rags laying around.

-Summer time rolls around, its going to get interesting. I hand dry all our clothing during the dry weather. Might have to extend my line longer to accommodate all the small rags. Mental picture comes to mind lol

So far my thoughts? I am loving it. I actually prefer the rags now. Toilet paper is scratchy and I cannot believe how long I used it. Wonder if my mother ever thought of doing this? She did all kinds of crazy frugal things so I'm sure it ran across her mind.

Comments-Ive had good and bad comments. Some saying its going too far, some say its gross and some supporting this whole idea and are joining me in my challenge. I guess it just depends on who you are and what kind of lifestyle you have. As for us, we are minimalist, green living, frugal inspired, granola and hippy loving people. Of course this would of eventually happened to us. I can only handle 2 challenges at a time. For now its this one and getting rid of all plastic (which I'm almost all the way done Yeah for me!).
Your thoughts? You have a pro or con? Have some extra tips on the subject? Would love to hear from you all!

If you have not signed up for Facebook, do so now. Its just another great tool for you to find those great freebies and frugal idea's from. Whats great about it is you get up close and personal with all your favorite blogs. Do it now!

Monday, January 11, 2010

The clothe wipe challenge

I have to give a shout out to my friend on Facebook ( you know who you are!) for bringing The Crunchy Chicken to my attention. What a wonderful blog that intrigued me for hours. Just like myself, she challenges herself to do more and more. But she is way better than me! I stumbled across her clothe wipe challenge and signed up! Ive been wanting to do this for a long time but had some resistance from my family. So when I came across The Crunchy Chicken and her challenge something came over me. I had to do it no matter what anyone said. I have to at least try this and see how it goes. After all, I would be saving some tree's no matter how long I did it.
The challenge is simple-Stop using toilet paper and use clothe. Head on over to The Crunch Chicken and read up on this challenge here.

My challenge

To start this challenge I have to note that were doing this for #1 only. #2 probably wont go over so well and since I am the doing the laundry, its a no for #2. Just not up to that right now. I also just bought a 24 pack of toilet paper so we will see how long it takes till I have to go buy more. Toilet paper is now for #2 and for when guest come over. Now off to the challenge.....This is a random flannel Little Mermaid bottom sheet we have had for years. I picked it up at a Goodwill Outlet thinking I was going to find a top sheet to go with it. I never did so this sits up in my closet collecting dust. Until now!

I simply cut out the elastic at each corner and cut along the corner line making the sheet flat. I grabbed some toilet paper, enough for a single use and used it to measure how big I needed to cut squares from the flannel sheet. Then I started to cut. No measuring or anything. I ended up with more than enough to cover my family of 6 for a day use of the toilet. There is no need for sewing, I didn't want any abrasive corners or folds if you get my drift. The first wash they will fray slightly but no more after that. As you can see by my pictures, I am not the best cutter. As I was cutting, I made sure I had little or none fabric scraps. The only scraps I had were the elastic ends.

I keep a basket on the back of our toilet full of these squares. Then I took a fabric mesh bag (usually used for produce when I shop) and marked a huge red X on it with a sharpie. This way I know which bag is for this particular use and there will be no mix up. I hang it off the toilet paper roll and leave it open. Each time someone uses the bathroom, they simply toss it in the bag. The fabric will dry out in minutes so there is no smell to worry about. Each day I do 2 loads of laundry so I simply close the bag and toss it in our laundry(the whole bag closed). Same goes for the dryer, I toss it in. After the dryer stops, I fold all our clothes and take out the clothes and put them back into the basket. Done!

To encourage my girls, I told them they get to wipe The Little Mermaid or King Triton with their tushies. They giggle each time they go to the bathroom now. lol.

So far all is working well. We have only had to fish out 3 clothes from the toilet so far. lol. My poor 5 yr old twins keep tossing them in the toilet all while I'm saying "Don't throw them iii....". Too late. Once we get past this it should be easy. If you have small children, teach them early. You don't want to have to explain to the plumber why your pipes are clogged up with Little Mermaid Clothe...tee hee

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Green Review King Arthur Flour

Last month King Arthur Flour contacted me to review their products and of course I said YES! I just love trying new and healthy products and was excited to see what they would send me. I was not paid to do this review and these opinions are made by me and only me. I simply tell the truth and try each item. My family then gives me their honest opinions. I really am glad they contacted me. Not only are their products amazing, but their company is too.
Their shop is amazing to start off with. I was drooling over all the wonderful and great priced kitchen items. My catalog is full of circled items I want which was pretty much everything. Then there's the recipe's. It will take you hours t
o go through them all. I again circled so many that I want to try out. Their flours are what defines them. They have more than 2 centuries of baking experience. So you know your gonna get a great product. But this is not the only reason to buy their flour.

Bakers hot line? That would be a big fat yes! In the middle of a baking crisis? Call 802-649-3717 and their staff of experienced bakers can help you out. Or you can email them at anytime. Or you can visit their recipe section and look for yourself. I just love options!

They also have a baking education center in Norwich, Vt . If your local to them, head on over! They offer classes from kids to professionals.

Can you believe they even have a newsletter? This award winning newsletter is filled with seasonal recipes, answers to baking questions, beautiful colored pictures, and much much more.
Not looking for a newsletter but would rather have a cookbook? Yes they have those too!

My favorite is the life skills bread baking program. More than 100,000 school children have learned to bake bread through their free Life Skills Bread Baking Program, then shared their new skill with local food pantries. Visit their Web site to learn how your school can get involved.

And if this was not enough for you, they also
have traveling baking demo's. I know, truly amazing company. Did I mention they are a employee owned company? You betcha!

My review

Dough whisk retails $14.95
This crazy looking whisk has been in their catalog for 17 years now. Unlike a wooden spoon, dough doesn't stick to this whisk as you stir your dough. It blends tough dough with ease, made of beechwood and stainless steel, and is about 15 inches long. Since I have a bread machine, I used this took for making muffins. I just love this tool so much better than a standard mixer. It mixes all the items so much better and clean up is super easy.It truly does cut your mixing time in half. Better yet, its super sturdy so no more breaking wooden spoons! If you love this whisk but don't need one so big, your in luck! They also sell a mini one for $12.95.
Would I recommend this item? YES!
I can see myself using this for years and years. My girls love it because its so weird looking but I love it because it can be used so many more ways than just for baking. This would make a great gift for any baker or kitchen enthusiast.

Flours retails around $4
I was able to test the unbleached white flour and their whole wheat flour. I used this flour for a loaf of bread in my bread machine. Just like regular flour, it worked the same. But I have to admit, the taste of the bread was much much better. The texture of the bread was better, it would rise much better, and the taste was better. I used the whole wheat flour when I made muffins. I find it worked better with my muffins than standard muffins. Again the taste was way better and the muffins were so fluffy!

Would I recommend this? Yes! Although they do cost a bit more, its worth it. The flavor is so much better than any other flour I have tried. Its not like your regular dough flour flavored, its super yummy and rustic tasting. So worth it in my opinion.

Many thanks to the King Arthur Flour company for giving me this opportunity to try their great products!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Little things I love

Glass glass and more glass. I love using an item for a completely different task. Tall glass items on the left with a rubber seal were bought at Goodwill Outlet by the pound. I think I paid 33 cents per pound so I might have paid $1 for both of these. Perfect size for granola bars and candied almonds. All others are mason jars not currently in use for canning. I can easily put my recently dehydrated apple slices, homemade chex mix, hemp hulled seed, or even just pumpkin seeds in these. Throw in a lazy susan you you have a great storage system. I just love how pretty they look and there is no more opening up all kinds of containers just to see what it is.

Now you can easily do this on the cheap. As stated above Goodwill is a great place to start. You can use your not in use canning jars or save glass containers from other products. Pickle jars are great for this. I found large glass storage containers at Target for $9.99 but that is just too much money for me to pay. Years ago I bought 2 which are kept on my counter with whole wheat noodles. Vintage Tupperware scoops in each one. Love it!

Not pictured is my spice rack. I have 2 two tier lazy susans in my kitchen. They are filled with spice jars I have bought, Tupperware spice containers found used, and small canning jars labeled. I love my canning jars. We go through a ton of cumin and chili powder so I needed something a bit larger than a standard chili powder spice bottle. I also buy my spices in bulk so its cheaper. I find the glass containers keep my spices much longer than the standard plastic ones. I would of taken a picture but its not organized and really isn't pretty. Give me time....

Little things I love

My favorite past time is rummaging through little unique shops, thrift stores, garage sales, and local shops. I just love the hunt and it really does make my day when I find something that I love. Lately its been pottery of all sorts. Mostly functional items that I can bring home and use. I thought I would share my latest finds with you. My greenolution this year was to get rid of my plastic Tupperware collection and start collecting glass or stoneware. My kids are old enough now to use glass so I really have no use for any of it anymore. All will be donated to friends or family. All of my Tupperware is from the 70's and have had a long long life and will continue their job with someone else. I'm still a little saddened by having to give it away but I know its for the best. Its time to move on....
Please enjoy my finds and I welcome all comments

These, along with most of my items, were bought a
t a local Goodwill. I paid 99 cents each for them which is a great deal. They are a medium size plate which is perfect for my 4 daughters. Each were so excited to pick their own color. I love the texture on the bottom of each plate and marvel a
t the wonderful colors on each one.
I hit the jackpot when I found these items. Bottom large plate is thick, glossy and beautiful. I found a 4 pc set of these for only $3.99. Beautiful neutral color in the center, large band gold/harvest colored with brown on either side. Love love these! These will be for adults.

In the center are small white dessert plates with a funky gold/harvest border. Oh how these bring back memories. I just love them. This super thin plate is so darn sturdy. My mother had plates by the same company and as far as my memory will go, we never broke any of them. Super super sturdy! I think I paid $2.99 for 7 of them.

Your so granola

"Your so granola"
This is what I hear from people, mostly my family. I go shopping with my mom and when it comes time to bag up my groceries, there they are. My mother's eyes . Or when I for some reason forget my bags and either put them in my cart with no bag or stuff my arms with my items. There they are. But I must say my mom has been using her fabric bags and she is frugal in many other ways. Where else did you think I learned it? From the best, my mom. Ever since I was really young, my mom always told me I was born a generation too late. I was her flower child. And you know what? She was right. So I keep poking at her to do more. I encourage her to make better decisions.

"Your so granola"
I visit my sister ever so often and its kinda like the running joke now. Lets see how much we can poke fun at her. I love catching up with my sister and visiting with my niece and nephew. She gives me great clothing when my niece out grows them and I give tips on how she could save money or make things herself. My sister and I are complete opposites when it comes to life style. She has a separate freezer just for frozen dinner type things. I have my tiny freezer filled with pumpkin puree, frozen veggies, and beans I had made. She buys almond/soy milk in the jugs, I make my own. Yes we are opposites but I love her all the same. She at least tries to be greener. So all that poking and teasing is from the heart.

What gets me is cashiers at times. They automatically start throwing my things into a plastic bag. I always have to interrupt them and say "No plastic bag please!". Then they say "Are you sure?". Like I am going to change my mind after I already said no. Really? Did I not just say no? What happened to asking if I want paper or plastic? How about you say "Paper, plastic or your own bag?". Now thats an idea! To make it a littler easier for them to understand, I put my reusable bag up first. Then load up my groceries. Whole Foods and New Seasons are the only two stores I shop at that automatically either toss my food into the bag or just give them to me. No plastic involved at all! Want to have a no waste lunch? Head on over to Whole Foods or New Seasons. They use regular plates and silverware and plate your food right on them. You simply eat them and put them in the bin by the sink to be washed. Need disposable silverware? They have them made from corn. They have a bin for plastics, paper, and a compost. They have so many options that I cannot even describe them all. Trust me, head on over and have a meal there. Its my #1 place to go for lunch with the kids. These places help granola's like me live their lives with no one looking over their shoulder.

So yes, I am granola. Yes I do look silly at times walking out of the store with my arms completely full are barely hanging on. Yes I do hang my clothes in my backyard for all the world to see our undergarments. Yes I do try to make everything possible. Yes I do all of these things and thousands more. Why? Thats just me. If I can make less impact on this earth and teach others to do the same, then this is what I am going to do. This is my goal in life.

So stand proud and yell to the world "Yes I am granola!". Don't be ashamed or feel less than you are. You should feel good about yourself and your decisions. And for those who have children, they are the reason we do what we do. Our future generations are going to suffer for our convenience issues. Our to go, quick fix, precooked, wrapped in plastic, preservative filled, and non recyclable plastic problem. Our millions of pounds of garbage will be their problem. I am just not okay with that. How do you think children learn? They watch their parents or adults they look up to. I just don't do things, I explain everything to my children. Why we recycle as much as we do, why I buy bulk no packaging items, why I use my own bags, why we walk to so many places, why we make our own cleaners, and everything else. How are they suppose to learn if we do not teach them? Its time to set an example. Kids minds are like little sponges soaking up information.

So how about you, are you granola? What shade of green are you? What are your views on this subject?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Laundry soap for less than a penny per load? Oh do tell!

Making your own liquid laundry soap has several benefits. My favorite benefit of course is how cheap it is to make. But here are a few other reasons to make your own liquid laundry soap.

-You make enough soap to last for a few months. 15 minutes of work gets you by for a few months, not bad if you ask me.

-Perfect for people who do not love strong scents.

-You can control what your soap smells like.

-Can be used in HE washers or standard washers.

-Low sudsing

-Kids love helping me make the soap so that's a bonus!


1/2 Bar of soap-I recommend using a all natural bar of soap. My favorite right now is Oatmeal honey soap 2pk from Trader Joe's for $1.49. This should be enough to last you 6 months. Oatmeal I find makes your clothes softer than a standard soap. Remember not to get chunky kind. I know of many people who like to use Fels Naptha. For me its too strong and not a natural soap so I steer clear of it. You can use any soap of your choosing.

1/2 cup of Washing Soda-Not to be confused with baking soda. Washing soda is found in a yellow box (Arm & Hammer Brand) and usually cost around $2.50 a box. You can find this in the laundry aisle usually next to all the stain fighters. One cup of this will be enough for 2 years or more. This removes dirt and odors. You can find this online.

1/2 cup of Borax-Found in a green box usually right by the washing soda. Again it cost about $3.50 a box and again will last you a year or two. Borax is a naturally occurring mineral: Sodium Borate. Its a whitener and a deodorizer. Box will say 20 mule team on it. Found online too.

5 gallon bucket-I recently had to buy a new one due to my dog chewing on the lid of my old one. You must have a secure locking lid if you have children or animals. 5 gallon buckets kids or animals can easily fall into. These buckets are about $5 in the painting aisle of your local hardware store. If you buy soap that comes in a 5 gallon bucket, just reuse it. Perfect size. Costco or Sams Club sells this kind. Try to keep this bucket in a location your children or animals cannot easily get to. Top of the washer works well.

Whisk-I bought a large one from a thrift store used just for my soap and keep it in the bucket for mixing ever so often.

1 milk jug-makes it easier to measure when making the soap.

Essential oils-Not needed but if you want to customize your soap, get ones you like the smell of. I use tangerine, tea tree oil, or lavender in mine.

Cheese grater-this will be used to shred up your bar of soap

Measuring cups



1. Put 6 cups of water in a pan and put on medium heat. While its heating up, shred your bar of soap using a cheese grater. Add the soap and mix until completely dissolved. You do not want chunks so this is a very important note. Once

2. Have a gallon of water aside and ready. This is why a milk jug is handy.

3. Add 1/2 cup of washing soda and 1/2 cup of borax to the soap water mixture. Mix till completely dissolved.

4. Put 4 cups of hot water to the bucket.

5. Pour hot soap mixture into the bucket and whisk till dissolved.

6. Add one gallon of water you had set aside plus 6 more cups of hot water. Mix till completely dissolved.

7. Let soap sit for 24 hours and it will gel up.

8. Use 1/2 cup for standard washers and 1/4 cup for HE washers.


Sometimes I make it and take the time to stir it so its had lumps. Either way it washes my clothing very well. You will need to mix it ever so often so this is why a large whisk is handy to keep in the bucket. I have an old Tupperware measuring cup that I keep on the lid and only use for this soap. I have never had any bleaching type stains or any problems with this soap what so ever. Its never not washed out, its never made my clothes smell yucky, and I have literally have had no issues with it. I am no expert so test this out for yourself and play around with it. Different soaps will smell or the soap consistency will be different.

My calculations:
1/2 bar of soap=37 cents

Washing soda=$2.50 for a 55 oz box. This came to .16 cents per batch. I calculated how much per oz (2.50 divided by 55) and then weighed a half a cup of washing soda (4.2oz) and then multiplied my per oz price by 4.2.

Borax=$3.50 for a 76 oz box. This came to a .14 cents per batch. Did the same calculations above but borax weighs 3.5 oz.. A bit heavier.

Final cost: 37+16+14=67 cents for 2 gallons of laundry soap.

Two gallons of soap for a HE washer translates to 128 1/4 cup portions and .67 divided by 128=.0051938. Meaning it cost me 1/2 a penny per load.

Two gallons of soap for a standard washer translates to 64 1/2 cup portions and .67 divided by 64=.01046875. Meaning only one cent per load.

What does all this mean? I have way too much time on my hand ! All kidding aside, this will save you so much money. Especially if you have a large family like I do. 4 kids and 2 adults have a ton of laundry.

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