Tuesday, September 28, 2010

hey, come over here..

Head on over to my Facebook and check out some great reads. Here's what you will find today!

-Vegan Potato Hash-Recycle your day has a great recipe.

-Have you switched from white to brown? Heavenly Homemakers has a great article about this subject.

-Recycle your cat. Yes you read this correct.

-11 year old boy talks about whats wrong with our food system. Inspiring

See you over there!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Nice pumpkins!

Why thank you. They are pretty nice don't ya think? I love blue pumpkins. I love the color and most of all the texture of the pumpkin puree they give me. Sure you can go buy cans of pumpkin puree and just use that to make baked goods. I wouldn't feed that stuff to my dog. Just sayin... It just doesn't compare to the real deal.
Making pumpkin puree is super easy and it freezes very good.

Making pumpkin puree

1.  Turn oven on 350 degrees.  Find he pumpkin you want to bake. Look for pumpkins that bake well and have a smooth consistency.  Most have a sticker on them which helps finding the right one. I love the blue pumpkins because they have a rich, creamy, and thick consistency. Regular pumpkins are too watery  in my opinion.

2.  Cut the pumpkin in half and scoop the seeds out with a large spoon. I take the seeds and lay out to dry. These can be used to grow them next year. Make sure they are completely dried and put in a paper envelope. They will mold if they are not ready.

3.  Spray the pumpkin flesh (flesh that will touch the pan) with olive oil.  Lay the pumpkin flesh side down.

4. Put in the oven as is and not covered. Bake for about 45 minutes to an hour. Pumpkin will be done when you poke it with a fork and its soft.

5. Once done take out and let cool. Scoop out insides and put in freezer safe container. No need to blend because when you bake it, its super soft and 100% puree. DONE!
Just look at the color of this stuff. This is how pumpkin puree is suppose to look like. Now tell me. Are you going to keep buying that stuff called pumpkin puree in a can or use the real deal? Uh huh....that's what I thought.

Now that you know how to make pumpkin puree, try two of my favorite recipe's out.

Pumpkin Breakfast Muffins

2 cups of pumpkin puree
1 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup of water
4 eggs
2 cups of flour
1 cup of oats
2 tbsp ground flax seed
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp of cinnamon

Mix all wet ingredients together. In separate bowl mix all dry ingredients. Then mix all wet with dry ingredients. Pour batter into muffin papers and bake 375 degrees until golden brown. About 10 minutes.

Pumpkin Bread/Muffins

3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp ground flax seed
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin puree
4 eggs
1 1/4 cup olive oil

Mix all wet ingredients together. In separate bowl mix all dry ingredients. Then mix all wet with dry ingredients. Pour batter into muffin papers and bake 375 degrees until golden brown. About 10 minutes.

You may add more or no cinnamon that you want. I like cinnamon but very little of it in my pumpkin recipes.  Chocolate chips would make any kids mouth water.

Welcome to Fall!
If you have any recipes you would like to share involving pumpkin puree, go ahead and leave a comment. I'm always on the hunt for new ones!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Flavor Stretcher

I have to just face it. I just too lazy to can anything ever. I did can green beans one year and they were yummy but I knew then and there that it was way much more effort than I wanted to put in. I told you i'm lazy. Ive been freezing our food ever since then.
As most of you know I am a huge fan of Marks NW Fresh Produce.Did I mention how much I love Marks? I could go on and on about it.   I'm usually there about once a week taking advantage of their cheap produce. This last time I went pretty early so I was able to see what they just got in from the farms. They just received beautiful pumpkins of all kinds. Best part was that they were only $1 for large and 50 cents for small. I grabbed the largest pumpkins I could find and made a B line to the cash register. I snagged 7 beautiful pumpkins that will give me pumpkin puree for a year. Just look at them!
My favorite thing to do is freeze flavor stretchers. Flavor stretchers are produce that make a huge flavor impact with just a small amount. Bell peppers and jalapeños are a favorite flavor of ours so when they go on sale, I stock up. This week at Marks NW Fresh Produce bell peppers are 2 for $1 and Jalapeños were only 99 cents per pound.  I bought out all their jalapeños and snagged 6 very large bell peppers. This should last us all winter. When I freeze these for later use it not only gives us the option to add a fresh flavor to our food all winter but it also saves us a ton of money. Buying any produce out of season and you will be paying two to three times the price.

Freezing flavor stretchers

 Bell Peppers are the easiest thing to freeze. Simply take out the seeds and stem. Cut into tiny pieces so its easier to use them when your cooking later on.  Then lay onto a cookie sheet that has a sheet of wax paper on it. They will freeze to the pan if you don't put the wax paper down. Go ahead and add as much as you want because they break up pretty easy when frozen.
Look how beautiful these are. My children do not like the green peppers as much as the red and yellow so I mix them up. Plus they are so pretty this way. As you can see I have a pretty thick layer of these but don't worry.

Now into the freezer they go. Let them freeze for an hour or so. Once frozen take them out and put them into any freezer safe container you want. They will break up really easy and you will be able to just toss them into any container. And your done! These added into any dish will make it taste so fresh and yummy.


I might have outdone myself with this one. They were only 99 cents a pound so I took everything they had which was about 5 pounds. Uggg. Rinse your peppers well and get prepared to handle these.

Remember those household gloves I told you about? Pull those suckers out! Trust me you will need these. You will need a knife, gloves, melon baller and cutting board for this one.
Slice off the top of each pepper and then slice down the middle. Take your melon baller and scoop out the seeds. Once all seeds are out go ahead and start slicing your peppers into small pieces.  Be careful to watch out for .............too late. Pepper juice in the eye. Let me go cry for a moment. Okay i'm back. Lets start this over.

Okay same rules apply when preparing them to cut up. This time pull out anything that will cut your peppers into pieces. Whatever you have , use it. Trust me. Ask my eye how it feels right now. Ugg. I'm using my Pampered Chef Food Chopper and my eye thanked me. Once they are chopped up toss them into your favorite freezer friendly container.

I'm using some old Tupperware containers that attach to each other. Anytime I need some jalapeños I just pull off the bottom container. I hand wash these Tupperware containers in warm water and never microwave them.  Jalapeños add an extra kick to any meal.   So as you can see I didn't cut up as much as I bought. These peppers are super hot and juice is squirted everywhere in the air. I was in tears from squirting juice in my eye and my nose was starting to run. I think I will just have to cut up one pound at a time each day.

This simple DIY of flavor stretchers can be used for anything you want.  Take advantage of seasonal sales and freeze what you can.  Your wallet will thank you.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Simple ways to reduce your grocery bill REVISED

Back in 2008 when I started this blog I was concerned about my family being healthy and trying to live a frugal lifestyle more than being green.  My blog was only a month old when I wrote a post called simple ways to cut down your grocery bill. Well its 2 years later and I have changed my buying habits completely.

I thought I would revise my list and tell you my mistakes and how I changed them. Ugg here we go....

1. Shop early in the morning. This way you will find markdowns and get sale items. You wait too long and they will run out and you will have to get a rain check.  Dairy and meat will almost always have mark downs.

2010-I rarely ever go to the store anymore. Because I no longer buy many things prepackaged, I find it not necessary to even bother going to stores looking for markdowns.   I now only buy my meat from Whole Foods when they have sales and we eat 50% less meat than we used to. Whole Foods meat counter wraps all their meat in paper so there is no more plastic wrap or Styrofoam to worry about.  The only dairy we buy is large organic yogurt and its only 2 times a month if at all. We do go through our share of sour cream though...I just cannot kick the habit.

2. Buy seasonal-I work my meal planning around these items. Potatoes are super cheap so we have been eating alot of them. Apples are in season so the girls eat alot of those for snacks. This alone will save you alot of money. Chicken seems to be on sale alot too so stock up on it. Just buy as much as possible, take home, pull the skin off, put in freezer bags and in the freezer. Buy now when its cheap and eat later.

2010-Same rule applies today. But I buy from Marks NW Fresh Produce which is just right up the street. He buy all his produce from local farmers who are organic or use green practices. Plus he lives in my neighborhood, hey Mark! Each week I buy enough to get us by for a whole week. Enough for snacks, meal planning and for my daughters lunches each day. If Mark is selling his produce for super cheap, I buy a lot and freeze or dehydrate it. Currently its red bell peppers which I chop up and freeze for later. This stretches our money even further. I use my own fabric mesh bags and large bags of course.

3. Produce-Apples are on sale for pretty cheap right now so when you buy them, pick the smaller ones. You wont know the differance when you eat it, plus your paying less because they weigh less.

2010-Not sure why I did number 3 because I pretty much covered it in number 2. Oh well. Apples are in season right now and I have been buying them a lot. I recently bought a ton of apples and dehydrated them for snacks later. Mmmm love apple rings.

4. Clean out your fridge before you shop. No reason to buy something you already have or go to use something and find out its expired. Its a good excuse to clean your fridge too.

2010-I have done this way too many times in the past. But I have been doing much better. Uh wait, I lied. I bought a 10lb bag or organic sugar and when I went to put it away I found 2 of the same thing half used in the back of my baking cabinet. It made me mad because I thought we were out of sugar for a week. Urrr! The night before I need to get groceries I go through my whole kitchen and writing down what we need.  I have a horrible memory so I cannot count on it anymore. I blame the kids.

  5. Buy dried or dehydrated things. They will not expire and you use them when you need them. I always have powdered milk for when I bake or cook. That way I can use fresh milk for my girls cereal or our coffee. This is a great option for people who dont like to drink milk but need it for cooking. This way they dont throw out milk from expiring. Saves a bundle. I even use it instead of fresh milk when were broke. Once its cold , you cannot tell the differance between it and the fresh. If you can find a large box for under $10 grab it. Ive seen it as high as $18 for the same size. So if you can afford it, grab it. You can easily get 5 gallons out of it. Thats only $2 per gallon.

2010-I have changed this one completely. I do not buy dehydrated milk at all anymore. I now realize that I have no idea where this milk is made, who made it, and if it's even organic or not. I was buying fresh organic milk for a while but its really expensive so I stopped that. I now buy organic milk from Whole Foods for only $5. We drink a ton of water now and have cut our milk drinking in half which has saved us some money. We recycle the plastic container the milk comes in or my girls use them to do upcycle crafts. They make great bird feeders.

6. Produce-dont buy too much at one time. I buy just enough for the week. Enough for my girls lunch's for school and enough for snacks for the rest of us. This way your not throwing out fruit that you couldnt eat fast enough and wasting money. I buy whats on sale and in season each week.

2010-Seriously didn't I cover this already? Sheesh! I blame the lack of coffee.

7. Try too cook with what you have. Look at your pantry and think outside the box. Ive came up with some creative dinners this way. Only have a half a pound of meat and some noodles? Make Burger Helper. Just brown meat up in a pan, add noodles, add water till it covers noodles, and cook until noodles are done. Once done, add a couple spoons of sour cream(or half % half, or plain milk) and spices of your choice. Done! Kinda like hamburger helper but healthy. Ask friends and family for idea's. My neighbor and I always tell each other what were cooking so we can get inspired off each other.

2010-Same rule applies. If I am days away from payday (my current status) I try to use what we have.  I still make homemade hamburger helper but try to make it different each time so we don't get bored of eating it.  Sadly I no longer live in that town and don't speak to my friend often and I miss that. I miss you Cathy! It was so much fun hanging out with her and trading recipe's. I also miss trading idea's with my other neighbor Tessie. I would always go to her when I needed help canning or preserving food. Miss you guys!  

8. Rethink things. Do I really need this? Am I going to suffer later when I dont have enough money for something when I should of not bought that item earlier in the month? Most the time I dont need the item. Just would be nice to have it. So rethink things.

2010-Well I am happy to report that I no longer do this.  I do think this to myself but no longer buy things I do not need.  Since I avoid plastic and packaging, I no longer buy things we don't need. No more hair products falling out of our cabinets because I bought them on sale and "had" to have them. I only use all natural shampoo and conditioner from Whole Foods and just recently added some all natural gel. No hair spray, shine spray, or hair products of any kind. I'm loving all the cabinet space I have now. I live a simpler life with things that we need and not full of things I think I need. Ahhh it feels good.

9. Coupons-only use them if they are on a item that you must have or can get it for almost free. This is how the companies get you to buy their stuff. They give out coupons and we go buy them because of the coupon. If I need the item, or can get it for almost free, and its less than the store brand then I will buy it. But only then. I have a organized brain for coupons. Once I clip them out, I know in my head that I have that coupon. So when I go shopping, I look up and down the aisles and clearance and will remember I have that coupon. It gets easier after time.

2010-Again happy to report I no longer do this. Just now are they coming out with coupons for healthy organic items. Not many but at least there are some around. Now the only time I use a coupon is if its right by the item or if I happen to read the store flyer. I do not buy the Sunday paper for coupons, do not print out any coupons, and rarely ever use them at all.  Ive stopped buying preservative and sodium filled food. Most coupons are for these type of items.  I also know that just because its free or almost free, I don't need to bring it home.  Well unless its produce which I will never refuse.  I now make our snack items from scratch. homemade muffins, bread, cookies, etc. I control how much sugar, sodium and health benefits by making it myself. Plus no having to recycle or throw out packaging. 

10. Buy in bulk when you can. Some stores are more expensive this way but discount wholesale stores are cheaper. Winco for example is the best place around here. Your not paying for packaging and you buy as much as you want or as little as you want. Good place to get baking items and dried fruit. Anytime we travel I buy dried fruit. It never goes bad and its just as healthy as fresh produce. Plus whatever we dont eat while traveling,I can use later for baking muffins and what not.

2010-Pretty much the same now. If I can get organic options for as cheap as Winco I will do so. Winco I only buy a few things from now. Bulk noodles, rice, beans and baking items such as baking soda.  If I buy anything else from them it will have to go through my list. Is it made local? Packaging cannot be plastic.  Is it healthy? If its not all of those on my list, I do not buy it.  I dehydrate my own fruit so there is no need to buy those anymore. Ive recently learned to dehydrate grapes to make my own raisins. Ive never been a raisin fan until now. When you buy in bulk you save a few ways. No packaging means less you pay for the item.  Less I have to recycle.  I bring my own mesh bags to put bulk items in (available at  the dollar store) so no more plastic bags in my home.  Occasionally I have to use a plastic bag for spices but I recycle them and reuse when I can.

11. Ship discount stores. Our local discount store is Grocery Oultet. They are pretty cheap anyways but when they mark down stuff, its super cheap. I get all our snacks from them. Crackers, granola bars, etc. They are usually $1 or less a package. When big time shopping, I will go there first. I dont know how many times ive shopped there after the big store and found things I just bought for 3 times the amount. And im so anal that I will buy them again and return the others. So now I just shop there first and save myself frustration, gas and money.

2010-This one I no longer do at all. No more sugar, sodium and preservative filled foods in my home. SWEET! We now snack on fruits or veggies from Marks NW Fresh Produce or snack on muffins or cookies I have made from scratch.  Its supporting local farmers, saving me money and also keeps us healthy. Win win!

12. Dont always stick to a list. Like I said before, I cook around seasons. Summertime its lots of salads, fall its lots of apples, winter its squash. You get the idea. Cook around the seasons instead of buying that crab that you had to have and spend a pretty penny for. Eat crab when its in season. Or buy a ton of it and freeze it for when you will crave it later. You will save yourself a ton of money this way.

2010-Same rule applies but I buy local now. I do not buy any produce from big name stores.  I buy it from Marks NW Fresh Produce or from a local farm.  During the summer and early fall I grow my own produce in my very own garden.  This saves me a ton of money.  My neighbor's have garden's too so we swap produce often. Just yesterday my neighbor Christy gave me some plums from her mother's garden.  I also scored a HUGE zucchini from my friend Jessica which I will be shredding and freezing. It will be used in almost all of my muffin's I will make later in the year. I love zucchini fresh, and in muffins but do not like zucchini bread. Weird huh? 

 13. Can or freeze. When it comes to produce, I will buy a ton of it when its super cheap and bring it home to freeze. Red bell peppers were 4/$1. I bought a bunch and brought them home. I rinsed them, cut them into strips, put them on a cookie sheet and put them in the freezer. Once frozen I pull them out and put them in a freezer bag. Done. You have ready to cook bell peppers for up to 3 months. I do this will all our berries, beans, meat, produce, and baked goods. My freezer is always full. Saves me money down the line. This month again is tight but im using up the chicken that I got on sale for 99 cents per pound and will be good until the end of the month.

2010-Same applies now although I didn't can anything this year.  We bought a medium size freezer which is in my garage. This is where I put all my frozen goodies which I do not use everyday. Currently its filled with jams, beans, oats, and shredded zucchini. Soon to be filled with lots of pumpkin puree. I'm so excited. 

14. Bake-instead of buying baked items like muffins, cake and etc. Make it. You can control how much sugar goes into it and make it healthier.

2010-Same goes now.

15. Fresh or frozen is best. Dont buy premade or packaged meals. You will waste your money and usually its not healthy at all. I dont trust companies anymore, they will put in lots of preservatives, anti cake who know whats, and are usually stuffed with fat. I feel much better about making all our food. Sometimes it takes longer but its worth it.

2010-Couldn't of said it any better even now 2 years later. 

16. Crock pot-I could go on forever about the pro's of cooking with a crock pot. Just know that if you don't have one, invest in one or find one at a thrift store or get from someone getting rid of theirs. I cook all soups this way, and our beans. Use's less energy, and you can throw food in and forget about it until dinner time. Worth every penny to buy one. I soak dried beans, and cook them in a crock pot for up to 6 hours. Once done I seperate into freezer bags (2 cups per bag) and we use beans alot with our meals. I use only 1/2 lb of meat per meal with 2 cups of beans to make our meat bill smaller. Meat is expensive when your cooking for 6. And beans have lots of protein so we sub with them. We eat alot of mexican dish's so it works for us. And I usually have enough beans to add ham to. My girls love ham and bean soup so I make enough extra for their school lunch's. Same with black bean soup. Endless idea's. So buy one!

2010-I still do the same thing today.  My crock pot is still going strong.  I have now added a bread machine to my kitchen now so my crock pot is no longer lonely.  

17. Stop buying soda and fresh juice. This alone will save you a ton of money. I admit we do buy soda every week months but only when its in season and super cheap. $6 for a 24 pack is all we will pay. Otherwise we dont buy it. We drink water, milk, or Crystal Light (store brand). Crystal light taste just the same as kool-Aid but it has no sugar. My kids love it. Walmart has it for $1.50 and you get 5 quart size containers out of that. Plus during the summer we make our own frozen pops out of it. Yummy! My girls have a multi vitamin so they get all their needs from them. Plus they eat plenty of fresh fruit. So dont feel like if you dont buy juice (frozen or fresh) that they are not going to get their vitamins from it.

18.  This has changed slightly.  I do not buy Crystal Light anymore because of Aspartame. Since fruit juice is so expensive when its not filled with high fructose corn syrup, I usually make my own lemonade.  1 cup of lemon juice, 1 cup of organic sugar and fill the pitcher with water. This is way cheaper and my kids just love it.  We also drink way more water now which we add sprigs of lemon balm or mint from my garden.  

18. Stop buying fancy coffee. I admit that I still do drink them but not nearly as often as I used to. Only if I have the extra money (which isnt often). There are ways of getting a fancy coffee for free. You know those punch cards they have? Buy 6 drinks get 1 free? Tulleys has this card and I found a way of saving me a bundle. Whenever we shop at Fred meyers (Tulleys is in it) I get a childs cocoa for the girls if they are good. They are only$1 and the workers will split it into 2 cups for my twins. It will take me a month or two to fill the card because we only go every once in a while. I will fill my card this way. Once I get 6 punches, I will then save the card for when im broke. When I dont have any money at all and were in the store, I will pull my card out and I get $5 credit towards any drink I want. Expresso Shake here I come. FREE! Its worth it to me. My girls dont always get cocoa so it varies how long it takes for me to fill my card.

2010-I now rarely drink coffee from fancy coffee shops.  Ever morning I make my own coffee in my own coffee machine. My friend Dulcimer gave me this really cool machine that came with a metal reusable coffee filter. No more paper filters!  Thanks Dulbs!  I put my coffee grounds in my compost and pour any left over coffee in my plants. This is why my plants and I get along so well.  I buy bulk organic coffee from Winco for only $5.99 per pound which is a great deal. Any coffee gift cards we receive I will buy coffee beans and put in the freezer for when we need them. I will then grind them and store them in the freezer. My coffee always taste fresh this way.  Anytime we travel I try to pick up some signature local coffee. We had some amazing Montana coffee all summer that I picked up in Montana on our vacation. Mmm yummy. My husband was given some Chinese Coffee on a work trip earlier this month too. It was good but weird. All i'm saying is that squirrels were involved and if your squeamish than its not the coffee for you. Just sayin...

So there you go. Never get too comfortable with your purchases and always be willing to change. Just look how far I have come. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Not so perfect

As promised here is your picture of proof. My running buddy Michele is on the left and a friend of her's Amber on the right. This race I wanted to blend in with the crowd (unlike our last race) so I found those awesome socks and decided our theme would be old school. What I didn't know was that in this particular race not much people dress up. Out of the almost 3,000 people who did the race, we were one of maybe 2 other people who were wearing fun stuff. No matter, it was fun and you could not miss us. I really lost count of how many people said they loved the socks. If you want to find some crazy socks, head on over to Aries a locally and operated all female sports clothing company. LOVE THEM!

I have to say this picture is a favorite of mine. It show's my personality and all you who know me know this is true. I'm a bit off if you know what I mean.  But this is why my friends and family love me. I do not like taking pictures of myself at all. I always look angry and I cannot understand why. Drives me nuts. I also have low self esteem and just have never really thought of myself as a pretty girl. But this picture for some reason makes all those feelings go away. I accomplished something that I wanted to do. I did this for myself and maybe this is why I love this picture. Oh and my legs look fricking hot!  For once I see a beautiful strong woman. Its a nice feeling.

Yesterday was my first actual day of no kids in the house. No training, no chores, and just relaxing on my list of things to do. My best friend Dulbs came over and I helped her jean shop. On our way home we had some pretty good conversations about many things. One of which I wanted to address here on my blog. I feel as if sometimes people think i'm perfect when it comes to being a greenie. Greenie is what we call ourselves in the Facebook world. People who live their life as Eco friendly as possible and try to make the smallest impact on this earth. Anytime I step out of the "image" people have of me its almost like a shocker. Which kinda bothered me a little bit.

In no way am I perfect when it comes to being green. I too stumble around in this journey that many people are taking. If your a long time reader, you know how far my journey has come. I started this blog as a way to help people save money and try to live a greener lifestyle. Its not only a way to teach all of you but a huge way to teach and motivate myself. No way did I ever think that we would of come this far. I really want all of you to know that i'm in this journey with you. I'm right along your side trying to figure out whats best for this earth and our wallets. I am a stay at home mom so I have more time than most to research and try things. Many of my readers have jobs and things that makes their time limited. I just try to make it easier for my readers to find information and how to's on ways to save money or be greener.

I too have my downfalls. I have little secrets just like all of you. One of which is my addiction to Pepsi. I have about 2 or 3 a month. And no they are not in can's but instead are the ones you find in plastic. For some reason my brain pretends its not in plastic.  Lately I have had cravings for Dorito's. It started last week when I went to a friends house to visit. Thanks Shelby for calling me out on this. I really could of picked a healthier option but I caved in. To be honest I was at a newly opened Walmart and was just checking the new store out when I saw them at the register. Okay to be honest I was looking for them. See i'm not perfect. I make mistakes just like everyone else in the world.

So this whole topic makes me wonder. Do all you have weaknesses just like me? Let's all band together and let all these secrets out. Name what your weakness is and how you can avoid it in the future.  I will start!

Surviving and thriving on pennies-Pepsi in plastic and Dorito's in plastic bags.  Since I cannot kick the Pepsi habit all the way I can at least buy them in aluminum cans so I can recycle them.  Instead of Dorito's I can find a healthier version like Sun Chips which come in a biodegradable bag.

Now its your turn!

Friday, September 10, 2010

There go my babies

Another reason I have been absent recently. Not only do I have my race on Sunday to train for but I also have been dealing with this. My babies are in Kindergarten! They are no longer babies or so they tell me so. Whatever. Note the adorable snack bags I just bought them off Etsy. I just love the fabric, so adorable. Also note the book bags. These were my oldest girls bags that I saved for 2 years. Saved me some money!
 No more I love you mommy. Its now all about how smart their teacher is, their teacher does this, their teacher does that, blah blah. Okay so i'm selfish and want to keep my babies all to myself. Well....just for a minute. They start being turds and i'm skipping all the way to school. Telling them I love them and hugging them all while in my head i'm screaming "Yahoooo!".

Now I have two and a half hours to myself each day. The first 5 minutes I cherish the quiet house. Then it gets too quiet and I turn on the radio.  I get some laundry done, dishes done, and just when I sit down to relax....they come home. But instead of mad faces they have happy faces and actually miss me. You try keeping up with 2 little girls screaming about all the cool things they did all while tossing out papers everywhere showing you all the stuff they colored. Its very hectic when they get home.

There go my babies. Here comes my big girls. Mommy is sad.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dirty little hands get a break

I have just been way to busy to even sit down anymore. I barely have time to even squeeze a shower in...yeah its that bad. If i'm not running errands, taking kids to and from soccer practice/games, walking/picking up kids from school, then i'm usually trying to get the house picked up and clean. Don't you hate when you clean and you sit down to admire your work and it still looks messy? Just one day I wish my house would stay clean for at least a few hours. Or wish my kids could actually get food in their mouths. Or keep their toys, shoe's, and backpacks in their rooms. Oh and if all our clothes could wash themselves then that would be awesome. Just sayin...

Since I didn't know what to write today I thought I would share with you some of my current favorite things.  All of which I bought myself and no one sent me or paid me to write about them. Just wanted to share with you the simple things that make me happy right now. 

While grocery shopping at Whole Foods I found these little pretties. We own a set of duplex's that I (lucky me..eehh) get to clean about 4 times a year. Yeah for me! I do not like the typical rubber gloves you find in stores because they smell so bad and my hands sweat in them. I also have a hard time finding any that fit me because my hands are so small. So when I found these I immediately had a smile on my face. 

"These gloves are made from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified latex, i.e. the natural rubber is sourced from a responsibly managed plantation.  Furthermore, the rubber tappers, who cut the bark to get the raw material flowing, have received a fair trade premium and it is their decision how to spend their extra income. If You Care Household Gloves-good for nature, good for people."

FSC Certified latex from responsibly managed plantation
100% natural cotton lining
100% renewable resources

Cardboard box:
Cardboard from FSC-certified recycled paper
Processed Chlorine-free (PCF)
Biodegradable non-toxic inks and glues

Disposal of gloves:
Naturally biodegradable and so is the box but I recommend recycling it so it can be used again. 
Okay so whats not to love about that? I left the best part last. They only cost $2.99! Ive used them many times and they feel just as sturdy as the nasty rubber ones but they are WAY more comfortable. No more sweaty hands! Oh and they don't smell either. SWEET!

So sorry for the crappy picture. I was just too lazy to take a picture of mine at home. At least i'm honest. I usually use Seventh Generation liquid dish washing soap but found this on sale at Whole Foods and I also had a coupon. Me having coupons is rare so I had to try this out. 

-Cleans and degreases
-Fresh plant-based fragrance
-Contains green tea extract, known for its deodorizing properties
-Based on plant and mineral ingredients
-Fast and complete biodegradability
-Minimum impact on aquatic life
-Safe for septic tanks

Ingredients-Water, Anionic and non-ionic surfactants, Green tea extract, Citric Acid, Salt, Fragrance (Grapefruit), Biodegradable preservative. 

I love how this stuff cleans and I love the light smell of grapefruit. Its pretty much the same quality of Seventh Generation so if I ever run out of it and this stuff is on sale, its my choice. I prefer the Seventh Generation  over this because Ecover is a bit runnier. Seems to me like i'm getting a bit less because I have to use a bit more. This stuff retails for around $3.99. I was able to pick it up on sale/with coupon and get it for around $1. Keep an eye out for those sales and coupons! 

Last but not least Ive been enjoying chocolate.  Trader Joe's sells this 3 pack of chocolate for only $1.50. Milk chocolate, chocolate and dark chocolate. I prefer the dark chocolate and the fact that my kids don't like dark chocolate is an added bonus. Win win! I allow myself one 3 pack per month. When I need a little "me" time I simply just break off a piece and let it slowly dissolve in my mouth.  For some reason it just makes me feel better. :)

So there you go. My current favorites.  My race is on Sunday so after that I will have more time to myself and the blog. But until then......I suck. Just sayin...

Monday, September 6, 2010

Happy Anniversary!!!!...............................3 days late

Yeah so I just realized my 2 year anniversary for my blog came and went. I told you ive been way too busy lately. Well good news is that i'm still here alive and kicking. Oh and my race is on Sunday so after that I will be back into the swing of things. But for now....I suck.

I do some how manage to keep up on my Facebook so head on over there and check for the latest freebies, good reads and my random thoughts.

By the way, who knew this blog would be around this long? What started off as a way to save money has developed into a beautiful green baby ready to fight to save the planet. Thank you for sticking with me through this journey. You guys are the best.

Friday, September 3, 2010

I hate shopping

I know "hate" is a strong word but its true. I truly do hate shopping anymore. Years ago I loved going shopping. The thrill of finding a good deal, the oh so cool bag you would get to put your new purchase in, the ridicules loud music and even the smell of each shop.  I felt like I was "in" if you know what I mean. As I stated many times before, I was raised by a single mother. Money was tight always and I always have wants never met. I remember begging my mother to buy me spandex shorts because all the cool kids had them and I wanted to be oh so cool. Thank you mom for not buying those things. Whats cooler than super tight spandex....especially on boys lol.

Memories of standing in line with my sister come flooding in. We would each have some shampoo with coupons just so we could get our shampoo cheaper. Hated it then but loving it now. It was only when we were buying toilet paper that we would really complain. Standing there hoping that no one from school would see us. I was thinking I would die if anyone saw me buying toilet paper. Yes mom, I would literally die ......of embarrassment that is.

Forward 20 years or so....DONT DO THE MATH! I have yet to send my kids in line with coupons but I have done the coupon thing and lost. For 2 yrs I lived in a small town with only 2 store options so I had to get creative.  I printed the coupons, walked to the store, and came home with free stuff. There was just a few problems. First of all it was not healthy food. Crackers filled with sodium and HFCS in just about everything.  Walking to the store saved me gas so I was clear on that problem. I have read so many blogs talking about hitting up stores left and right. Are they factoring in the gas cost with their savings? And then there is the plastic issue. Each box of food has a inner plastic bag. Almost every product  has plastic touching it, wrapped in it, or even single wrappings wrapped up in one package. And don't get me started on these companies who make the products. Most are in another state way far from myself.  How is that helping my state?   I put a stop to all these issues and never looked back.

I now go through a mental checklist when I shop. If it doesn't meet 90% of my list then I don't buy it. Plain and simple.

1. I look for little or no packaging.
2. Is this a local company?
3.  Is this a healthy/organic option?
4. Can I make this myself?
5.  Do we really need this item?
6. Can I make do without it or get it 2nd hand?
7. It it recyclable?

Just the other day I went shopping for a backpack, jeans and 2 pairs of shoe's. Not a huge list but these were the things that my girls needed for school. Since we did not buy any new clothing for my 2 oldest girls, we wanted to get them something they really needed for school. Her backpack was still in good order but just a bit past her age group. We will store that backpack for my twins. This will save me money later. Finally found "the bag" she wanted. Paid for it and walked out plastic bag free. One thing I was shocked to find was crazy high prices on these bags. One was $65! Unless they are rock climbing to school, I found no need to pay that price. Thats 2 weeks worth of meals for us. Bullshit if you ask me.
Just sayin...

Next was to find 2 pairs of shoe's for the twins. I ended up going to Fred Meyers so I could check their clearance section. Ive been looking in second hand stores but have yet to find anything worth bringing home. I never find them when we need them, always when they don't really need them. Ugg. After 30 minutes of searching we found a pair for each of them. Light up $9.99 Carters shoe's for one and a pair of plain Jane $12.49 Adidas for the other.  Regular price together would of cost me $55. I bought one size too big so they could grow into them and again this will save me money later. Both pairs of shoe's came in cardboard boxes with paper inside the shoe's. Only plastic involved was to hold the paper tag on the shoe's themselves. Oh wait...i'm pretty sure the shoe's are not all leather. Crap. Well at least I tried.

I found myself being distracted but all the plastic crap in each store. It seems as if these stores carry only plastic. Plastic kitchen ware, plastic clothing, plastic shoe's, plastic school supplies, plastic plastic plastic. It really did make me sad and sick at the same time. I try not to say anything in front of my girls because I think they are getting tired of hearing about it. So for now I try to teach and not preach. My 12 yr old rolls her eyes at me every once in a while to hint at me to stop. I do have to give them credit at times though. They do look for plastic free alternatives most the time which makes mommy smile.

So yes, I hate shopping. I hate that anywhere I look in a store I see plastic. I hate that I have to research before I step foot into a store just to find something not plastic. I hate that I have to go out of my way to avoid it in my home. Well not true. I like getting rid of it. I love when I can get all the plastic out. Its like i'm winning the plastic war against the plastic monsters(companies). Know what I mean?