Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Another much needed break

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

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Vintage Holiday Decor

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas on the cheap Shortbread Cookies

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

Shortbread Cookies

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

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

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

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Green up your period

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

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

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

Hassle Free Green Options

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

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

Not so hassle free options 

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas on the cheap Apple Syrup

Apple Syrup

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas on the cheap Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

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

Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

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

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees

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

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

Makes about 8 servings

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

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

Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmas on the cheap Reindeer Droppings

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

Reindeer Droppings

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

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

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas on the cheap Yummy Herb Mix

Yummy Herb Mix

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas on the cheap Friendship Tea Mix

Friendship Tea Mix

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

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

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

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

Next.....Tasty Herb Mix