Monday, October 28, 2013

Late Night Epiphany

 Last night I sorta came to a epiphany.  I was in bed watching TV which is something I always do.  Every single night we go to bed and watch the 10 o'clock news. Its our thing.  It's not a complete day without watching it.  While I was sitting there I was thinking of how much TV I actually watch.  Then I started to think that I was wasting my life away watching TV when I could put that time to good use.  Then I started to think about how when I'm older I will look back and see how much time I wasted watching the boob tube (my mama calls it that).  Then I started to think of all the ways I waste away my time and how I need to get out and explore more.  I then went to sleep as usual expecting to forget everything I thought about. 

But then when I woke up I remembered everything.  My husband came home from lunch and I told him about my epiphany.  He agreed with everything I said.  This is why I love him so much.  He's a guy that when the sun is up so is he.  He gets his stuff done then does what he wants. Usually a ride on his motorcycle on the back roads enjoying the beautiful nature.  He doesn't come inside unless its raining or gets dark.  He's always been this way unlike me. I enjoy nature to its fullest when I have time.  And when I say "When I have time" I mean when I'm not wasting time doing things.  Watching TV, playing around on Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, etc.  Well its now going to stop. Here's my plan. 

See this TV? It sits above our fireplace and I usually have it on during the day. I like to say its for the noise but its not.  AM Northwest, The Talk, Kelly & Michael and so on. See its not just for the noise. I watch it more than I would like to say. So for now I limit myself.  No TV during the day.  No TV when my girls come home to do homework.  No TV unless its family time.  Every Sunday we as a family watch Once Upon a Time.  Thursdays its Once Upon a Time in Wonderland.  Friday my husband and I watch Grimm (its filmed here locally!).  Maybe a movie here or there.  Maybe a documentary here and there.  But that is it.  Sorry TV. We need to break up.  Its not me. Its you. 

Since I'm cutting back on things I thought I would cut back on my Internet use.  Here is my laptop my husband bought me this year.  It will be my source of News.  It will be my source of research.  It will be my source to you the reader.  It will no longer be my buddy I play with and then realize that hours have passed and my kids get out of school soon.  Darn you Facebook! Darn you Blogger! I will no longer be on my computer for hours and hours.  I will write when I feel like it.  I will let my girls watch old cartoons on YouTube because its free (well besides my Internet bill) and I love that my kids like old cartoons like I did as a child.  I have a few reviews to get some here soon but besides that I'm in no hurry to write. I often run out of things to talk about and find myself not looking forward to writing at all.  That makes me sad.  I want to be happy and share things with you all.  I don't want to write about something just to get something on here. Its not as creative. Its not as informative. Its just plain boring. So when I am happy I write and share it with you. Deal? 

Yep thats a old school desk turned into a side table.  Paid $5 for it and its WAY cooler than any new side table.  Thats my green afghan my Aunt Robin made me when I was 1.  We use it every single day. 

I recently visited a friend who has a beautiful library of books.  WITH A LADDER!!! That's such a cool factor! It made me want to start reading again.  So from this point on I will fill my days with books instead of TV.  Inspirational books.  Good old nerdy cook books and garden books too! Foraging, DIY, etc. This is the most exciting part of change I am looking forward to.  Nothing beats the excitement of finding a thrift store book at a good price, a old book with character, pages already broken in and the smell. OOOOOHHH the smell of a old book. Just can't beat it! 

And here we are.  This is my front door.  This is my new entertainment.  Maybe do some yard work, go pet my Tabby who is sitting there awaiting me, drive to my favorite farm, go for a walk, take some pictures, etc.  Its here awaiting me. Its a huge world out there and I plan to enjoy it 100%.

Besides, life is too short to waste my time sitting in front of the boob tube or laptop.  Peace!

Whose with me?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Put it in a jar Brownies


4 cups all-purpose flour
6 cups sugar
3 cups baking cocoa
4 tsp baking powder
3 teaspoons salt
2 cups shortening

Yields 8 batches

Mix the first five ingredients well.  Cut shortening in as best you can.  Store in a mason jar in a cool dry place.  This mix makes enough for eight batches of brownies. Put 2 cups of this mixture into one mason jar. 

Attach these instructions
Combine mixture , 2 eggs, one teaspoon vanilla and 1/2 cup of nuts of your choice.  Stir till mixed.  Spread on a greased 8'x8' baking pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes making sure the center is set.  Cut into 2 inch squares. Makes 16 brownies.

Chocolate chips or sprinkles would be a great addition to this gift. If you have a coffee lover toss in some espresso powder.

Stay tuned for my next jar idea.....

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Put it in a jar Chewy Bars

Christmas is only 9 weeks away. Yikes! I will be sharing easy peasy recipes for gifts in jars which will help you save money! Enjoy!

Chewy Bar Jars

1/2 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans (or nut of your choice)
1 cup brown sugar packed and divided
2 cups biscuit baking mix divided

Layer the ingredients into the jar. Push down making the layers tight.  Put lid on. Done!

Attach the following instructions: Empty the whole jar into a bowl.  Drizzle in 1/2 cup melted butter, one fresh egg and a teaspoon of vanilla.  Mix it up.  Press this mixture into a 8"x8" baking dish and bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes.  Yields 16-18 bars.

Optional-Want to go another step above? Add some lovely fabric and tie on a wooden spoon.  Maybe even give a baking dish as well.

Stay tuned for more jar gift ideas!

Monday, October 21, 2013

ABC's of Me

A-Alive. I'm thankful for each day I'm here on this earth.  The earth gives me so many gifts each day. The lovely scent of rain hitting the plants. The many flowers which bloom and greet me every time I step outside.  I'm so thankful that I have come to a point in my life where I recognize these things. Its a huge lesson she is teaching me. No matter what comes at you keep growing and staying alive. 

B-Blessed. I have my husband and children.  I have a roof over my head and a bed to sleep in each night. With these things life is not a problem. 

C-Care. As the old saying goes "She wears her heart on her sleeve."It's true. Ive always been taking care of people. As long as I could remember if I saw someone sad or needing something I would try my best to fix it. Even if it meant giving them what I have and me going without. This is something I can give thanks to my mama for. She doesn't know it but she is the richest person I know. So much love and heart in her that it oozes out. You don't need money to help people. Just caring and taking the time is all you need. Thank you mama.

D-Dedicated. I knew from a very young age that I wanted to help the earth and all its creatures. When kids wanted to be a police officer or a dancer I instead wanted to be a environmentalist. Watching Captain Planet and the Planeteers only made my dreams become a reality.  From that point on I decided to dedicate my life to fighting for the earth. 

E-Emotional. I may be strong to most but I too am weak. Just this week a neighbor cut down a tree and I was sad for a few days. I'm still sad when I drive or walk by. I cannot watch sad movies because I'm a blubber butt.  No scary movies (not even scary music!) because I get physically sick and it feels too real for me. Lately Ive been emotional because my 4 daughters are growing up too fast. No more diapers, no more kissing boo boo's and no more snuggles. Sniff......I don't want to talk about it anymore.

F-Fighter.  I'm actually a lover not a fighter. I'm not going to waste my time on this earth holding onto anger or fighting with someone.  Its not going to solve anything or change the situation. BUT I can fight for a good cause. Earth! I am a consumer which is a very powerful thing (yes it is!). I have tools like email, blog, talk and social media. I will use these tools to fight for this earth.  

G-Grateful.  I really am grateful for all things big or small.  Right now I'm grateful for a small quilt on my lap. I'm grateful someone took scraps of fabric and sewn them together. I'm grateful the donated them to a thrift store for others to enjoy. I'm grateful I found it and bought it. I'm grateful I can find it on our couch anytime I'm cold. A lot of love went into this quilt and I am grateful for this. I can feel that love every single time I see it and use it. 

H-Help. Its something everyone can do no matter how old, young, tall, short, etc.  Whether its helping someone carry groceries, raking their leaves, cleaning their home, baking them dinner, giving them food or just listening to them talk. Its free to do.  Takes little or no effort.  BUT has the biggest impact.  

I-Inspire.  I have a big job to do. Inspire my children and hopefully others. Inspire them to do more with their life. Inspire them to never settle.  Inspire them to go above and beyond.  Inspire them to fight for a good cause. Inspire them to be happy. I could go on and on. 

J-Jellybelly factory ditcher. Yep you read that right. First five minutes of a Jelly Belly Factory tour we as a family ditched the tour and high tailed it out. The factory wasn't even running and none of the employees (or signs anywhere) mentioned this. We were on vacation in August and had drove to California. Kids were super excited and then no factory workers? Our imaginations were filled with oompa loompa workers, rainbow of colors flying through the air like magic.  Nope not that day. So we skipped it.  Shhhhh don't tell anyone.

K-Kittens and knitting.  Kittens should stay little. Why do they have to grow up? Seriously who can pass down a kitten? Those little tiny whiskers, little noses, and tiny paws. Plus have you seen the video Can't hug every cat? Let's be serious here. I will have any cat. Kitten or adult. Seriously if my husband would allow it I would have way more. I'm a dabble knitter. I can knit & pearl but that's about it.  Need a wash cloth? I'm your girl. Need a sweater? Go buy one. 

L=Love.  I do truly believe what go's around comes around. It's funny because I tell my girls all the time this and they think I'm nuts. But every time they are being naughty something happens to remind them that karma really does exist. They trip and fall or something along those lines. Lets face it everyone, if you give nothing but love out your bound to get love back. Word.

M=Minimalist. I was a borderline hoarder when I met my husband. Obsessed with vintage Tupperware and all things old. It wasn't until I found Fake Plastic Fish (now called and had to clean my grandmothers place after her death that I realized I had way too much and should only have what I needed.  I now keep toxic plastic out of my life and have become friends with Beth Terry ( who wrote a book you should own called How I kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too).  After weeks of cleaning out my grandmother's place I finally took a look at myself and realized I had way too much stuff.  Gram didn't throw anything away (dozens of eye glasses, scissors, checkbooks, fabric, etc you name it she hoarded it). I now try to keep just what we need and be happy with what we have. Well except for pottery. You can never have too much pottery.

N=My name is Nancy. Named after my great Aunt Nancy.  As a child I really didn't like my name because Nancy Regan was the first lady. A Nancy is defined as wussy.  Plus I was the only Nancy around.  Even now days I hear my name and look to see a older lady talking to her older lady friend. I have yet to meet a Nancy my age (in my 30's).  It wasn't until the last few years that I realized it was a good thing.   Anyone talks about Nancy and its gotta be me.  Plus its always good. Or at least I hope.

O=Organic. Organic means so many things to me.  It means healthy non toxic. It means earthly as it was intended.  It means grown with love.  I could go on and on.  I grow as much organic produce as my piece of land will grow.  I buy organic as much as I financially can.  I strive to live 100% organic.  It really can happen but it takes work and passion. You can be organic and be frugal. Any budget can live organic. I'm proof and I hope to inspire everyone.  

P=Pepsi addict and pottery. Or at least I was.  No matter how much I knew it was toxic and horrible to my health my heart ruled over and I would drink it. Even when I only allowed myself to drink it from a glass bottle. I had to quit cold turkey.  Wow that sucked.  But I found a way around it.  Once in a while I allow myself to drink a all natural soda. I make a simple syrup (organic sugar/water 50/50)from things from my garden (geranium) and mix it with club soda.  As for pottery....well lets just say I'm addicted.  I have a very hard time refusing a good piece of pottery. Slowly but surely I have replaced every piece of my dish ware with handmade pottery. All bought used!

Q=Quinoa. After the whole arsenic in rice (organic or not) I found a source to get organic quinoa for cheaper(Azure Standard). So I made the switch and never looked back.  Its actually easier to cook and we enjoy the taste way better.  I use it just like rice in any rice dish. Easy peasy.

R=RECYCLE!!! Seriously we recycle everything possible! Any organic food goes to the chickens or our dog.  Anything possibly recyclable its going in the bin.  Rarely is there ever anything in the trash unless my husband cleans the garage or we do home repair.  Because of our hard work we were able to get the smallest trash bin which saves us some change each year. But honestly I reuse so many things and buy package-free food so even my recycling is going down each year. Woot! 

S=Simple. I really truly do believe simple is best. Less clutter.  We have furniture but only what we need. Simple cooking.  I'm a really good cook but use simple ingredients and simple recipes. Less stress! When I'm planning a event I do everything simple.  Its less stress and my brain feels so much better.  

T=TV. Love it and hate it.  We cut out cable out but have Netflix.  Regular TV just seems like a waste of time for me. I feel like I get sucked in and time goes by so fast.  So honestly I don't watch it often and if it is on its for the background noise only.  I'm used of my girls usual hum drum of running around the house so when they are gone its nice to have noise in my home. I really enjoy watching things on Youtube such as Coal House and shows that put real people in past life.  I also watch many documentaries on Netflix.  Ken Burns has amazing documentaries.  

Use=Use what you have.  Here I go again making it simple.  This is a HUGE money saving tip. Don't have milk? Just use water.  Don't have light brown sugar? Use regular sugar or dark brown sugar.  Not only are you wasting $$ but think about the wear on your gar and gas money  you will save.  It can also apply when it comes to other things.  A good example is a personal experience I had.  I really wanted a juicer so I could make my veggies drinks.  Bought a Ninja & returned it because it was defective.  Then I bought a big name juicer from Costco which worked fine for 8 months then died on me.  So guess what I'm using now? Yep my blender I've had this whole time.  Keep it simple people. Use what you have. Stop wasting money. Even I need to take my advise at times.

V=Vanilla. I love the color because its simple and versatile.  I love the smell of vanilla beans so much so that I make my own vanilla using vodka and vanilla beans. The taste oh the taste. vanilla ice cream is the perfect base for any toppings.  I really could go on and on about vanilla but you get the idea.

W=Water. One day I will own a home with a creek nearby just to ease my body. The sound just makes all my stress go away. My favorite thing to do is take a super hot bath.  Add a cup of mineral salts and I'm in heaven.  I love listening to the ocean slam against the shore. Water is so beautiful as well.  Love pictures of it! All this said I'm a horrible water drinker. My girls all drink water all day long. Water in coffee counts right? No? Boo! So a way I like to drink water is to add a slice of lemon or lime. That I can do! 

X=The Symbol X to me means intersecting. Which is why I blog/write. I walk in my perfect line doing what I can to be kind to all and along the way intersect with all of you.  Seriously cool! 

Z=Zoo. I'm like a child each time I visit. I love animals and their characteristics.  They are so smart in so many ways.  I also get a big work out at the Oregon Zoo.  They have some serious hills going on!  

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Natural Ways to Cope with Hand Eczema

This Fall has really did a number on my hands. Anytime the weather gets really cold my skin has a hard time keeping up.   In the beginning of September I started noticing my hands were getting scratchy feeling.  I used every lotion I could think of to try to deal with it. Nothing worked.  I washed my hands constantly with soap hoping to kill any germs or whatever was bothering my hands. Reapplying lotion after each wash. It continued to get worst.
I then went to my doctor and had some blood test done to see if maybe I had a food allergy. After using a steroid cream (which I didn't want to take at all) and a week of waiting for the test results. Came up clean and the steroid cream did nothing. She recommended I no longer use the cream. Thank goodness! By this point my hands were cracking and bleeding to the point where I just wanted to go hide in a corner and scream. I felt like a freak. 
As most of you know because you follow Surviving and Thriving on Pennies on Facebook, I asked for advise from all of you.  I tried everything possible and have had great results! So as promised I have some tips and advise for those fellow freaks (calm down your not a freak just feel like a freak) who could use it.  
Here's the proof! You see any cracks or bleeding? Neither do I! Now I can walk among the rest of population feeling normal.  Phew!  If you have hand eczema and need some relief try these idea's out.  Who knows maybe it will help you feel less freakish.  

1. Aura Cacia Tea Tree Oil  or any essential tea tree oil.  I added a drop or two of tea tree oil to my clean dry hands.  Rubbed it in completely and let it soak for a minute.  Even with my hands cracked & bleeding this didn't hurt my hands at all.  Also didn't leave them oily.  Tea tree oil is known for killing bacteria, fungus and many many other issues.  

2. Alba Botanica has some Un-Petroleium Jelly but you can use any un-petroleium jelly with I'm sure the same results.  After using tea tree oil I would use a very small blob of this on my hands.  I rubbed it in completely and let it soak in for a minute or two.  Anymore of this and your hands will be oily.  Let it soak and let it do its thing.  

3. NO SOAP!!!! Seriously none at all.  To wash your hands simply use warm water and scrub the crap out of your hands. Rub your hands together for a good 20 seconds and dry as usual.  No soap in the shower, no soap at the sink and for goodness sakes no soap in public bathrooms.  Unless you are in a natural grocery store those soaps are the cheapest and most toxic soaps around.  This was a very hard thing for me to do. My husband pointed out my OCD pattern with hand washing. Thank you honey! lol.  Seriously I never knew until he pointed out how many times I washed my hands throughout the day.  

4.  Gloves are a must. I picked up myself a pair of natural rubber gloves (found mine at Kitchen Kaboodle but New Seasons also carries them). I used these gloves anytime I washed dishes, cooked food and cut up food.  Foods such as tomatoes have lots of acids that could aggravate your hands.  Instead of washing my hands I would wash my gloves. Kept my hands dry!  When my hands were cracked & bleeding I would apply my oils (top two of this list) and wear thin cotton gloves at night when sleeping.  When my hands were just fine with no cracking I wouldn't wear them.  Note-I green clean homes for a side job and gloves are to be worn 100% of the time.  Even green cleaners dry your hands out.  

5.  Avoid things that dry your hands out. Folding clean laundry was a HUGE issue for me. The clean clothes sucked away any oil/lotions I had on my hands. If you can pawn this chore off on your kids or loved ones.  One less chore woot! 

6.  Let your family/loved ones help.  I felt like a complete freak for a few days.  Especially my cotton gloves at night. Let's just say they are not the sexiest things ha ha.  Family/friends know that you are having a hard time with this and are there to support you.  If they want to help then let them.  Less stress is also a good helper when it comes to eczema.  Your body needs to concentrate on getting better and stress can only prolong your healing.  

After one week of keeping up these tips I have successfully beat flare ups.  I will likely have to battle eczema all Winter but am thankful I have found some relief.  As long as I keep this up it should be smooth sailing.  I hope this helps you feel less freakish.  It sure did for me!