Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Lastly....

 Ive been thinking long and hard about where this blog is going, how long will I write and whats next.  After a long time thinking of it, talking to my fellow bloggers and time...... Ive come up with just one answer. Surviving and thriving has grown up and its time to move on.

Surviving and Thriving on Pennies began as a way to save $$ and hold myself accountable. Our puppy was sick, almost died and I had a looming vet bill to pay.  My 4 daughters were little and I just quit my job to stay at home with them.  Money was tight!  And this blog was born.

 Instead of running around in circles (which I feel I am doing right now sharing the same information) I have decided that its enough.  Ive shared my life with you since 2008.  The ups, the downs, the sad and of course the happy.  From the death of my father and grandmother, moving to a new home, what I cook, how to DIY everything and of course my random tid bits.  My life has been an open book for 6 years.

 You all know how much I love you all but I cannot keep up with everything.  My day starts checking my Facebook feed, sharing everything that relates to my blog, catching up with other bloggers and sharing their stuff. Then I head to my page and click "like" on every single comment you all make, respond to any and all that I can and then I will go about my daily routine.  That involves sharing sales, pictures of things I find interesting, taking the time to post pictures which isn't a easy process.  In fact it takes 6 steps or more each picture.  From Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and even Flickr....It's a lot.  In fact I feel like I'm treading water.

So what does all this mean?
Well it means I will not be writing any new post on here.  My blog has officially ended.  Everything on this blog will be kept as is and you will be able to use it as reference.  Remember I've been writing since 2008 so go back and have fun reading the old post.  As for my Facebook.....its still active.  I will keep it going but will have no pressure to be on it every single day. You can still message me anytime you want and I will get back to you when I can.  Any other social media I'm just not sure.

I'm scared of this huge step.  This is a big change for me.  I fear I will let you all down by ending my blog.  I fear that I can't go back once I have posted this.  I'm afraid that I will have nothing once this is done. This blog has been my baby for 6 years.  I created it, wrote it single handed and have taken care of it while it grew.

If there's one thing I can be proud of is that I have kept true to myself.  It started non profit and it stayed non profit.  To this day I have only spent $5 on my blog for more photo space.  Ive never been paid one cent for anything I have written on here.  In fact 90% of products I have shared or reviewed has been out of my own pocket.  I did have some great companies send me some amazing products.  I did have many awful toxic companies ask me to do reviews and every single one of them I said "HELL NO".  Ive spent hours and hours and hours on this blog in one form or another.  The fact is that I'm just overwhelmed and need a break.

What now?
I'm working towards simplifying my life.  Less tv, more time outdoors, more family time and everything in between.  I'm thinking of starting a page on Facebook which of course I will share with you when I create it.  I still want a place I can go to and be with like minded people. I know each and every single one of you will come with me on the new journey which makes this so much easier for me.

Now for the fun part.  You thought you knew me..... but I have kept some things private until now.

Hi My name is Nancy.  Not to be confused with Fancy Nancy because there's nothing fancy about me.

Ive been married to my best friend for 15 yrs now.

I have 4 daughters ages 16, 14 and the twins are 10.

I have the mouth of a sailor inside my head. Ok not true. Sometimes they blurt out for all to hear.

I love dancing and I don't care where I am.

I love a good thick dark beer but will settle with wine. Heck I'm good with whatever.  Beggars can't be choosers people.

I never graduated high school.  A little fact most don't know. Even people who know me have no idea.  

My kids think I'm weird.  They are correct.

I'm nostalgic.  WAY TOO nostalgic.

I have tiny feet.  I blame my toes really.  They are tiny.

I'm curious about food.  Growing it, finding it, preserving it and making it.

I love documentaries. Ken Burns...he gets my goat.  Heck history in general gets my goat.

I carry on way too long.

As you can tell.

Anyways........I want to personally thank your or being my support group.  Thank you for being there when I needed you.  Thank you for giving me inspiration.  Thank you for giving me purpose.  Thank you for letting me be apart of your everyday.  I can only hope that I helped out a few of you.

I hate goodbyes.

Love and peace to you all.
Nancy












Monday, October 27, 2014

5 Frugal Things and Some Not so Frugal Things

Remember my charity dinner I attended?  We were invited by a friend so it was free to attend.  I would of loved to bid on something but they were out of our price range so we just ended up spending time with our friends, ate some lovely dinner and danced the night away. Miss Oregon was there, there were free snacks...and I feel as if I'm forgetting something.... Oh and there was wine.  Lots of wine. Since the husband was driving I had a glass or two.....too much. I slept awful and woke up at 6am for my trip very very very tired.  So I ate some breakfast and filled my belly with coffee and we were on the go! 



1. Saved $7.50 by parking in the neighborhood and not in the city street.  Woot!


2. Lunch was just a sausage and only set me back $6.50.  Simple but oh so goooooooood!


My not so frugal thing was dinner.  We ate at a authentic German place and my dinner and drink set me back $30 after taxes and tip.  Yikes! Honestly it was well worth it. Plus I'm going to research and try to learn to make this DIY style! Can't put a price on that! 



3. Instead of going out for drinks we picked up this game at a shop for $13 and headed back to our KOA cabin.  We will never book a cabin at this particular KOA ever again thank you very much. It wasn't a pleasant expierence and Ive been to many KOA camps in Oregon and Washington. But we made the best of it. We brought some brews from home, a book and played this game. Way cheaper than if we had gone out for drinks.  


4.  We headed back into town and had breakfast. I ordered banana bread french toast and a huge cup of black coffee. It was SO GOOD!  Again I will have to make it DIY style at home. Yummo! We went for a walking hike at Blackbird Island right after breakfast.  Free to do and takes about an hour of walking.  While we were walking I was working on a photo project I'm doing for my husbands Christmas gift.  More details at another time for that.  This walk really cleared my brain and completely  soothed my soul.  It was a much needed break in nature.  Oh and FREE!!!!!


5.  Spent 2 whole days with my best friend. Thats priceless! The radio didn't get turned on once and we enjoyed our time together.  I love my best friend so much and cherish our overnight trips we take a few times a year.  She is as frugal as me so our trips are usually fun filled and don't break the bank.  Camping, cabins and cheap hotels. We choose to spend our $$ on memories not lodging.  


My not so frugal thing is how much I spent on stuff.  I picked up a few birthday gifts and a Christmas gift for my girls that totaled $50.  Then I wanted to find something that I could always think of my trip every time I saw it.  This authentic German made Quartz Cuckoo Clock with Swinging girl for $49 fit the bill.  Its flashy enough with the swinging girl to keep my girls fascinated often but doesn't make a cuckoo noise that will drive us nuts.  One day I plan to buy a nicer one but this particular one was in my budget.

So as you can see I had a blast on my trip but also kept on budget.  In fact I have a little extra money left over so I will put it in my grocery budget.  Were cutting back on everything for a little extra $$ for Christmas.  Instead of using credit cards to buy things we save money everywhere we can, plan ahead and use cash.  We also don't buy a ton of gifts but instead get our girls meaningful things they really want.

A HUGE shoutout to Joslin for all the tips you sent me for my Leavenworth Washington trip.  You did a fantastic job of pointing out where to go. THANKS!!!!!




Wednesday, October 22, 2014

DIY Spicy Sausage Pumpkin Soup


Spicy sausage pumpkin soup I only made in the Fall so we look forward to it all year long.  This soup even converted my husband to liking pumpkin. SHOCK! It is made with just a few ingredients and really is very simple to make.  I hope you all enjoy it as much as we do.



Ingredients:
Pumpkin or squash you like
Spicy sausage of your choice
Milk or broth
Salt and pepper
Optional: bacon 

Instructions:
Cut the pumpkins/squash in half and scoop the seeds out.  Save those seeds and bake them for a yummy snack! Lay the pumpkin/squash flat on a cookie sheet lightly oiled with olive oil.  Bake at 350 degrees till you can poke the pumpkin with a fork and its goes straight in with no problem.  Bring the pumpkin/squash out and let them cool.  


2.  While the pumpkin/squash is cooking go ahead and cook up the spicy sausage.  I am using pork spicy chorizo sausage because it was on sale so go ahead and use what your budget allows.  If the sausage isn't spicy then add some red pepper flakes and spice that sucker up! My husband came up with the idea to add bacon so I threw that in as well.  Once done remove the meat from the pan and set aside.  


3.  Scoop all pumpkin/squash meat and put into the pot.  Here is where you can make it as thick or runny as you want.  Sometimes I just add almond milk and sometimes I just add any broth I have on hand.  Tonight I decided to add a little of both.  Tonight's choice is almond milk and mushroom broth because I had it in the fridge and they needed to be used.  Get creative and try different things.  Once you have done this get your emulsifier out and start getting that soup creamy. If you don't like chunks at all go ahead and add the meat into it as well.  We prefer a little bit of chunks so once I'm done with the creaming I add the meat back in.  Add salt and pepper to taste and there you have spicy sausage pumpkin soup.

Vegan? Don't add the meat.

Dairy free? Add any non dairy free milk you like. Heck just add broth.

Don't like spice? Don't add spicy sausage just add regular sausage.


Now go enjoy the soup.  You can thank me later

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

5 Frugal Things


1. My steal of a deal on dried beans at Whole Foods.  These Heirloom Jacob's Cattle Trout Beans were 50% off making them $2.25 a lb which is more affordable for my budget.  Trying new things also gets my girls to eat new foods.  Today I'm soaking one pound of them in hot water so I can cook them later on.  I make a batch of beans about once a month and freeze them in 1 cup sizes so they can be thawed out easily.  These beans are so beautiful and I'm pretty sure you could use them in just about any meal.  If you do the math I'm paying only about .37 cents compared to a can of beans (which they don't sell these types so I compared to other beans) for $1.  Now that is frugal! 



2. Its roasting fire season baby! Today we plan on having our first fire of the Fall season.  Its a annual thing we do each year.  Kids get home from school, I start making a hot yummy dinner and my husband gets home from work and starts a fire.  Can't wait for the smell...oh the smell! The sounds....oh the sounds! My girls will be happy to lay in front of the fire and putting their toes up to get warm.  LOVE!!! Also we turn off the heat and that saves us a bundle of $$.  We saved wood all year long so we can do this.  Free wood from neighbors, left over wood from projects and salvaged wood from everywhere.  Now that is frugal!


3.  Bulk section.  Each Fall I try to take advantage of seasonal sales.  Dried food in the bulk section is ALWAYS a money saver. It takes a tiny bit of preparation but its well worth it.  Not only is food cheaper but its straight up just food.  No fillers and no hidden ingredients as long as you buy just real food.  Some stores have some not so healthy things in there as well.  I buy all kinds of beans, lentils, herbs and even rice.  You see this also helps me save energy.  No storing food in my fridge! No need to hurry and use it up because these can last for months on end.  This is hands down the best way to save on organic food.  Now that is frugal.


4.  Second hand stores.  Now don't get me wrong.  I love going to antique stores to drool over all the vintage clothes, kitchen items and just about everything you can imagine.  But the sticker prices are shocking sometimes!  I like to hit little thrift stores that are out of the way or almost even look like they are out of business.  Thats where you find the good stuff.  Above is a slip from the 50's-60's.  Baby blue with white lace.  Antique store would charge me $10 easily for this. Since I found this at Goodwill Outlet (pay by the lb) I think I paid maybe 10 cents for this. Its as light as air!  Now that is frugal! 


5.  Loved gifts. While I was at Goodwill Outlet I found this beautiful loved book.  My twins 10th birthday is coming up next month and one of them is in love with Raggedy Ann and Andy.  I paid $2 for this 1925 GOLDEN BOOK.  Its old, smelly and been used a ton.  SHE WILL LOVE IT!  I could of paid $14 for it at Powells, $4.99 at a regular Goodwill store but nope I paid $2 at the Goodwill Outlet.  Now that is frugal! 

And I saved the best reason for this book. 


Just look at these illustrations!  Look at the vivid colors! Look at the characters! I mean really.....

This post was inspired by The Non Consumer Advocate and I had her permission to write this.

Now its your turn.  What frugal things have you been up to?



Sunday, September 14, 2014

Free DIY Upcycle Art

I helped a friend Sue move & reorganize at her shop and in exchange she gave me some art canvases. These have no signatures and probably some older kids art work. Which means I can paint over them without ruining some works of art worth who knows what. 
I dug around our paint pile and found some water based primer and a old paint brush. 10 minutes later and we have a blank canvas. Free! 
Once dry I'm letting my twins paint till their hearts content. Can't wait to see what my little Picasso's do with these. 

Perfect project that cost me zero dollars and in return endless hours of fun and some beautiful art work. Talk about non consumerism! 

Big thanks to Sue! 




Friday, August 15, 2014

20 Things You Didn't Know About Me

1. I never plan anything. Why? Because I'm awful at it. My brain works in one mode and one mode only.  Anymore and it overloads.

2.  I'm 37 but act 15 and look 25.

3.  I'm a old school nerd when it comes to records.  I have 2 record players and many albums. Seriously nothing beats the sound of a record. Nothing.

4.  I don't eat raw carrots or apples. Its a texture thing. I will eat them cooked but keep those raw things away from me.

5.  Ive eaten steak 2 times in my life.  I don't get the hoopla about steak at all.  Its good but not worth $15+ a pound for.

6.  I wear flip flops 80% of the year and I live in Oregon.

7.  I love old things and this includes my husband. Just kidding he's only a year older than me. But a year is a year baby! From old kitchen items, furniture and even clothes.  LOVE IT!

8.  I'm addicted to liquid energy. MMMMM COFFEE!

9.  I'm just as in love with my husband as the day I laid eyes on him. Its pretty sickening to people.  Mostly our daughters.  Only when we make out in front of them.  In a week its our 15th wedding anniversary.

10.  Although I grew up pretty poor in a single mother household I can honestly say I never felt deprived at all.  My mama is and always has been the most amazing mother ever. Ever!

11.  My favorite juice is grape juice. Hands down.

12.  I rarely buy anything for myself.  Well unless you count sweet sweet handmade pottery I score in thrift stores.

13.  My best friends name is Dulcimer. Yes you read that correct. Dulcimer is an instrument.  She is the most beautiful person inside and out.

14.  When I was a kid I had pet rats, parakeets and a cactus.

15.  I am a half full glass kind of gal.

16.  I can't see at night. I'm blind. Even in my own home. Ive lost count how many times I have jammed my toes on furniture.

17.  Ive been the same size since middle school.  From shoe's to clothes nothing has changed.

18.  I'm a big chicken. No scary movies for me unless its real paranormal stuff which for some reason excites me and scares the pee out of me.

19.  I laugh till I cray. At a certain point my body says sure lets cry now.  AFV gets me every single week.

20.  I care too much. So much that I get anxiety about it. Mostly stuff that I have no control over like global warming, toxic chemicals and where the world is going to.  I'm afraid for my children but know if I continue to be a good example just one day maybe my kids will be the new green leaders and will keep the fight going.

Now share one thing about you that I don't know. Go!

Monday, August 4, 2014

How to Save Money on School Supplies


I have learned over the years many different ways to save money on school supplies.  Having four daughters you can just imagine how expensive it can be.  Maybe these tips can help you out. Enjoy!



At the end of the year teachers send home extra supplies that didn't get used and everything from the students desk they get to take home.  I empty all their backpacks and keep everything I know they will use again.  So here you can see we had plenty of left over pencils which came in handy. This year the teacher asked for 36 pencils for 4th graders which they share. Since I have twins this means I needed 74 pencils.  And can you believe it that I actually had that many? I did.  They are able to reuse scissors, calculators, pink erasers, pens, and pencil pouches. Woot! 


My next stop is to write down everything we didn't have at home onto a paper and head over to a thrift store.  Each of my twins needed a 1.5 inch binder and these easily can cost about $5 a piece.  I found 2 perfectly good binders for .99 cents and $1.99.  Saving myself  about $7 or so. Its recycling, its reusing and its saving me money. Woot!


Next after that we stopped by Office Max to get what I couldn't find at home or the thrift store.  4 folders at .25 cents each, 3 composition books on sale for $1 each, and pencil erasers for a penny a pack.  
We also needed spirals and it was a lesson for my girls in how to save $$.  My oldest was pointing out just to buy a pack of 10 for $3.50.  Yes a good price but we don't need 10 we just needed 4.  I was going to wait to buy these till I found a good price but I was lucky enough to see they were selling them single and a great price.  40 cents each! So instead of spending $3.50 I only spent $1.60.  Yes its a small amount of savings but its savings! 


Once I looked around and things were too pricey for other stuff I left and headed to Target which is in the same parking lot.  Tissue is always a must and only $1.39.  Sharpies were $1.99 (unlike Office Max which were $1.79 each!). Glue sticks .39 cents each, crayons .50 cents each (Office Max $1 each) and colored pencils .99 cents each.  
My girls have eczema so they cannot use any antibacterial hand sanitizer because they break out in a rash and itch.  Last year the school wanted hand liquid but I talked to the teacher and explained our issues.  I ended up buying toxic free hand soap for the whole class and replaced it anytime it ran out.  This year they want wipes and even the "green" ones have some not so good ingredients.  So I headed on over to the baby section and found these Seventh Generation wipes that will work just as well as the ones they wanted us to buy.  They were $2.49 which is around the same price as the mainstream bleach kinds.  

And here is what I came up with.  Everything the school list ask for but at a big price savings.

Tissue- $1.39
Wipes-$2.49
Composition books-$3
Spiral Notebooks-.80
Crayons-.50
Glue sticks-.39
Erasers-.1
Colored Pencils-.99
Folders-$1
Binders-.$1.50 (different prices so I made it even)
4 Sharpies- .99 (2 we had & were free)
Pencils-FREE from last year
Pink erasers-FREE from last year
Scissors-FREE from last year
Calculator-FREE from last year
Zipper Pouch-FREE used ones we found
Ball Point Pens-FREE we had them

Total $13.06

Could of cost us this much more
Average prices I saw today

Pencils would easily cost us $6
2 Sharpies-$1.99
Erasers-.99
Scissors-$4
Calculator-$1.99
Zipper Pouch-$3
Ball Point Pens-.99
New Binder-$4.99

Total $23.95
Add the total above and your looking at $37.04 for one kid.
That's $74.02 for my twins. YOWZERS!

For my older girls who are in middle and high school we don't have to buy anything just yet.  They do have a suggested list on their school website but honestly they never use any of those items so we don't buy them.  We instead wait till they go to school the first couple of days and my girls ask what they specifically need for the class and then we buy those items.

Lets not forget this doesn't even include backpacks, lunches, clothes and shoes.  For us we reuse our backpacks and lunch boxes each year.  I buy fabric that's good quality so I know it will last many years.

So how do you save money on school supplies? Share in the comments below and lets inspire each other!



Friday, August 1, 2014

No Fuss No Muss Clean Face plus DIY Skin Toner


For some reason memories of me in high school reminds me of clowns.  I admit it. I used make up.  At fist I dabbled and then it turned into a full blown problem.  It was awful just awful. I'm sorry everyone from high school.  I mean really.

These days my skin routine is pretty simple.  Just 3 items! 

1.  Good Soap made by Allafia sold by Whole Foods 3 for $6. Comes packaging free (love!) and is made somewhat local in Washington.  Coconut is my personal favorite but they have many other scents and even one unscented. 

2.  Skin Toner which I make. Keep reading to find out how I make mine.

3.  Acure Argan Oil that I purchased at Whole Foods for $10 on sale.  I bought this a year ago and I still have half a bottle.  This stuff goes far! Its also multi use which I love.  Adds shine to your hair and makes your skin feel amazing but not oily.  

My no fuss no muss clean routine

1.  In the shower wash your body and face with Allafia Good Soap.  For extra cleaning use a wash cloth but for sensitive skin just rinse with water from the shower.  Need some extra cleansing? Use a tad bit of baking soda in your hands with the soap to scrub your face. 

2.  Once out of the shower/bath you can pat dry your face with the towel.

3.  Spray your face with DIY Skin Toner.  It will dry when you get dressed.  

4.  Get your hands wet and add a couple of drops of Acure Argan oil.  Rub all over your face completely including your neck.  If your hair is a bit frizzy also rub your hands on your hair.  It adds such a beautiful shine without making your hair oily. Just don't add drops to your hair directly or it will do that.  Tiny tiny TINY bit will do ya.  

5. That's it! 



DIY Toner

What you need:
Witch Hazel
Rosewater
Glass spray bottle 
All can be purchased at Whole Foods or New Seasons (or any natural store)

Directions:
Fill the bottle half way up with witch hazel. Fill the other half with rose water.  Done!

Note: Now days you can find rose water/witch hazel in one bottle but I don't think its smells as lovely as when you mix it yourself.  Plus you can use the rose water to spritz on your face at bedtime. Its lovely and feels amazing. 



As you can see I have no skin issues at all.  I get the usual pimples when my monthly visitor comes but that's how it goes. Otherwise this is how I look.  I wear no make up because I have no skin issues to cover.  I'm not saying this is the miracle cure or anything its just what works for me.

NOTE: Again I'm non profit and these products are things I love and purchased with my own money. All links are not affiliate and are simply here to show you what they are. I'm not getting paid to write this or promote these products. I just love them.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

DIY Zucchini Bread


Whats a girl to do with a huge zucchini that mysteriously showed up in my garden today? Zucchini bread of course!  I really don't get where these things hide because I'm pretty good at harvesting every few days and very well I might add.  3 times now these sneaky zucchini have hidden on me and then WHAM there they are. WHHHAATT???? I mean really. 



Zucchini Bread

Preheat oven at 350 degrees

2 cups of all purpose flour  ( I used Arrowhead Mills organic flour that I found on sale at Grocery Outlet $1.49 a bag which is a steal of a deal so I bought a case of them)

1 tsp cinnamon (although you can add more if you like. I'm not a huge cinnamon fan)

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 salt

1 cup sugar (I use Wholesome Sweeteners which I buy from Costco for $11 a 10 lb bag. WAY cheap this way. Wholesome Sweeteners are my favorite and only brand of sugar I buy. Ive worked with them many times over the years and they rock! )

3/4 cup of oil ( I used olive oil)

3 large eggs (1 egg from Mary, 1 egg from Cleo and 1 from Gladys. I love them so!)

2 tsp vanilla 

3 cups shredded zucchini (from my garden today)


Butter and flour your cake pan or if you use a stoneware pan then no need to do that.  First 5 ingredients mix in a large bowl.  In a medium bowl beat sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla.  Mix in zucchini in this mixture as well.  Once mixed well you can add this wet mix into the dry mix.  

Pour batter into your standard sized cake pan.  Bake about 40-45 minutes or until a fork is poked in and comes out clean.  Let cool and enjoy.  

And as usually you can add anything you want or alter as you will.  Don't have regular sugar then use brown sugar.  Just have whole wheat flour then just use that.  Get creative and have fun with this! 

$$ saving tip-Buy in bulk whenever possible! Its cheaper usually and no packaging to toss or recycle. Plus any chance I can show off my food in mason jars i'm all over that. lol.  But serious. I'm a little obsessed with mason jars.....

I found this recipe here and altered it to my likings. It called to bake for 1 hr 20 minutes but mine didn't take that long.  t love Epicurious recipes!  Go take a peek and see how you can alter it to your likings. Life is way more fun when you change things up. 

NOTE:I'm a non profit blogger and I do this all in my free time. I get no money from any of these companies I just share what I love.  Links are not affiliates! 

Monday, July 21, 2014

DIY Lemonade Blueberry Muffins


Today my friend Theresa let us pick her blueberries/lemonade blueberries and I put them to good use. Blueberry muffins can easily be a treat or a small breakfast. What I really love about this recipe is that there is very little sugar in them. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.


Blueberry Muffins

1 cup blueberries of any kind (I used blueberries and pink lemonade blueberries)
Sugar
2 cups flour
3 tsp double-acting baking powder
1 tsp salt ( I used 1/2 tsp)
1 egg
1 cup milk (I used water)
6 tbsp melted shortening (I used olive oil)

Heat oven to 425 degrees.
Mix flour, baking soda, salt, 2 tbsp of sugar together in a bowl.  Beat egg till fluffy.  Add milk, shortening and egg to dry ingredients.  Only stir till mixed then stop.  Add blueberries and mix very little.  Fill cupcake papers.

Bake 25 minutes.

Optional: I sprinkled a bit of sugar on top along with some cinnamon.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Get your creative juices flowing!

With prices going up on just about everything its time to get creative.  Ive been trying for years to share how you can shop at Whole Foods and keep on a budget but the same old cliche happens. Whole Foods Whole Paycheck! Well to be fair yes you can spend your whole paycheck very easily.  But to be perfect honest you can do that in any store not just Whole Foods.  Its how you spend your money that determines if you stay on budget.  Instead of planning your meals then going shopping how about go shopping, buy whats in season and then do your planning? Let me give you a few examples.



I recently went to my local Whole Foods and made sure I would stick to organic and on sale.  So here you can see Organic Zucchini only $1.99.  I picked up 3 of them to use during this weeks dinners.  Spent only 2 smackaroos! Soon I won't have to buy because my zucchini plants are loaded with flowers. That will save me a bundle. 


Since the Organic Spinach was 2 for $4  I snagged myself two bundles.  This is a good sale and those bundles are pretty large.  Tonight's dinner will include a bundle of these.


And look at these! Organic Baby Bok Choy is so yummy! I took home about 4 of them only setting gem back $2.  Yup these will also be used in dinners or heck maybe even in scrambled eggs in the morning.  I'm drooling just thinking about these. 


What I really needed was fruit and was hoping to buy some apples. At $2.49 per pound (not in season here) they just weren't in the budget. These white nectarines will be just fine. Yes they are not organic but they are non sprayed and way better than fruit in big box stores.  I mean right?   I picked 5 medium ones and headed towards the next sale item.  By the way I didn't use one of those paper boxes or use a plastic bag because that's added weight to my bill.  Just put them in the cart because we wash our produce before we eat.  And besides plastic sucks!


Organic black plums? YES PLEASE!!! Again I picked up a few of these and plopped them gently into my cart as is no bag or paper box.  My girls are going to scream when they see these.  So plump and juicy.  Our plum tree isn't ready just yet but soon we will have a week or two of our own fresh organic plums for free! I'm sure I will find lots of ways to preserve them.  


And here here looky here! This is how I make budget friendly organic meals.  $1.39 is a fantastic price but did you know you can buy them for cheaper? Buy a case of them (12) and get an extra 10% off! When you feed a family of 6 like I do a case isn't a big amount ha ha.  I already have regular pasta so I picked up a case of these to stock up on.  So instead of paying $16.68 I only paid $15.  That's only $1.25 each!


So when it came to making dinner I brought out what I had bought earlier at the grocery store.  On the way home I also stopped by my local Grocery Outlet and picked up nitrate free salami for only $1.99 each.  Kept one out for dinner and the other 5 went into the freeze for a later meal.  


Now doesn't this look yummy? I boiled the noodles then drained.  In the empty pan I tossed in 2 minced cloves of garlic with some olive oil.  I then tossed in the recently rinsed spinach, the salami  and tossed the noodles back on.  On a medium heat I cooked it till the spinach till it wilted. Added salt and whalah! You have dinner.  Here's the break down.

Organic Pasta from Whole Foods $1.25
Organic Spinach from Whole Foods $2.00
Organic Garlic FREE from my garden
Nitrate Free Salami from Grocery Outlet $1.99

Total cost: $5.24
That fed 5 people making it $1.04 a person.
I even have left overs!

Now is that budget friendly enough for you? Now go to your local organic or natural grocery store or local Whole Foods and do this for yourself.  Be smart with your purchases and you can still stay on budget!  Just gotta get your creative juices flowing people.



Thursday, June 26, 2014

DIY Banana Cream Cake or Muffins



Here is my Good Housekeeping Cookbook.  Well to be honest its my mama's and I don't believe she gave it to me but more of me borrowing it and never giving it back. Sorry mama! Its a 1963 book so the pictures are very outdated but so far each recipe Ive used is super yummy.  I apologize for no actual photo of our banana muffins.  You see they were so good that they didn't last long enough to take a picture.  Enjoy!

Banana Cream Cake

2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup oil, butter or shortening (I used olive oil)
2 medium eggs
4-5 ripe bananas (5 small or 4 medium)
1 tsp vanilla (I didn't have any so I used vanilla agave syrup)
1/4 cup of flax seed or nut of choice

Oven preheated at 375 degrees

In medium bowl mix all wet ingredients with the sugar.  In a separate bowl add all the dry ingredients and mix.  Grease your pan with oil and then sprinkle with flour or in my case put in cupcake papers.  Mix the wet with the dry ingredients.  Fill pan with batter or fill your cupcake papers  up to the top.  Bake for 25 minutes or until you poke with a fork and it comes out clean.  Enjoy! 

Note:Ive used a few different flours such as barley and this still turned out yummy.  So use what you have and get creative.  

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

DIY Oatmeal Pancakes

DIY Oatmeal Pancake Mix 

I recently checked out a King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion Book from the library.  Boy am I glad I did! I found this Oatmeal Pancake recipe and tried it out. Hands down the best recipe I have found so far and I've been looking for a good pancake recipe for a few months now.  These pancakes are filling and a great start to any morning.  I'm not getting paid by King Arthur Flour I just really loved the recipe and wanted to share with you.  No links are affiliate but you can find their book on their website in the link above or you can check it out from the library for free like I did. 




Master Mix 

3 1/2 cups rolled oats (blend to make course but not a powder. (I left whole & liked it very much)
5 cups flour 
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking soda
1 cup oil

Directions:

Mix everything but the oil together till blended.  Add the oil very slowly making sure to mix very well.  Should be a nice course consistency.  Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.


Pancake Batter
1 cup of master mix
1 cup of milk (I used coconut milk)
1 egg
Mix dry master mix with milk and eggs.  1/3 cup of batter per pancake. Let this batter set for 10 minutes before cooking.  The oats will soften up nicely during this time.  

 Recipe says it makes 12 pancakes per batch but I found it didn't.  I made a double batch and it made 10 total.  So unless you have super tiny pancakes you gotta double the batch or even triple it.  




We really enjoyed these pancakes.  I thought the texture would be weird but it really wasn't.  I didn't notice the oats at all and the pancakes had a wonderful flavor.  You can add any flavors you want to this but we like just traditional pancakes and add what we like to them.  Here you can see we have a few syrups and also some strawberry syrup I made myself.  Me? I prefer just a tab of butter.  Easy peasy and yummy.  Lets not forget to have an egg with your pancakes.  Today I used one of Lulu's eggs and of course it was a double yolker.  SCORE!  

Monday, June 2, 2014

DIY Gluten Free Chocolate Cherry Cookies


While shopping at the newly opened Mark's NW Fresh Produce stand I heard my name called.  Mark knows me because I've been shopping there for many years now.  "Hey Nancy I will give you a steal of a deal on cherries if you are interested." Uh lets think here......YES! I expected a great price but he gave them to me for free.  FREE!!!! But I had to tell him what I did with them. So I dragged 2 boxes of almost bad cherries home and processed them.  Dark cherries went into the dehydrator and light cherries cooked in simple syrup and put in mason jars to use in pies later.   So Mark, what do you think? 


 Gluten Free Chocolate Cherry Cookies

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups Gluten Free Flour Blend your choice(I used Gluten Free Mama's Coconut Blend)
3/4 tsp Xanthan Gum (I used plain cornstarch)
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter ( I used dairy free)
1/4 cup shortening (I used Dr.Bronner's coconut oil)
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla (I used cherry juice)
2 eggs
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried cherries (dehydrated my own and used them)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In medium bowl mix all dry ingredients.  In another medium bowl mix wet ingredients and sugar.  Mix the two together.  Scoop by spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes till a little golden on the edge of the cookies.  

Enjoy!

Note: Make this recipe your own by using what you have. You have a different gluten free flour you like then use it.   Any dried fruit or chocolate chips will do.  Not into chocolate? Use nuts! Don't like dried fruit? Just use chocolate chips! Heck just use nuts and its tasty! 

You can find Mama's Gluten Free products at any New Seasons Market.  Not local to me? Go here and find a location near you. As for Marks NW Fresh Produce you can find him every year on the corner of West Union and 185th in Portland Oregon.  Head over to his Facebook page and find out more information.

I also wanted to let you know that Gluten Free Mama is just a brand I like to use and I'm not getting paid any money to write this. In fact I did this on my own because people wanted me to share.  We are not a gluten free family but I enjoy them from time to time.  

Saturday, May 31, 2014

DIY Cucumber Chopped Salad


What you need:

2 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp mustard
1/4 chopped fresh dill (or 1tsp dried dill)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tomatoes chopped
2 cucumbers chopped
1 bell pepper chopped
1/2 medium onion chopped 
Salt and pepper to taste 

Serves 5-6 people

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

DIY Orange Peel & Rosemary Cookies


I really love a simple recipe with simple ingredients that come together and make a huge flavor.  This cookie recipe sure did the trick! I thought the rosemary would throw my tastebuds off but it was pleasantly delicious! 

What you need:

1/2 lb butter (I used dairy free)
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup of sugar
2 eggs
Zest of one orange
1 tsp fresh rosemary minced
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt

Instructions:

Cream together butter, vanilla, sugar, eggs, orange zest and rosemary.  Add in flour and salt.  Mix till smooth.  Drop by teaspoons onto a cookie sheet.  

Bake 375 degrees
15 minutes
Yields 2 1/2 dozen 

DIY White Bean and Herb Spread


This year I really want to take advantage of herbs in my garden.  In the past I have dried them and used them for cooking.  They are so much better than any herb you can buy in the store. Whats even better than that? Fresh herbs in your food! Enjoy!




What you will need:
2 cups cooked white beans (I cooked my dried beans but feel free to use canned)
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves minced
1/2 cup fresh parsley (I used fresh wild celery)
1 tbsp fresh rosemary minced
salt n pepper to taste

Instructions:
Put all the beans in a bowl and smash half of them with a potato masher or fork.  Add olive oil, garlic, vinegar, parsley, rosemary and mix well.  Salt and pepper to taste.  

I have only tried this used as a dip but I'm sure you could use it on a sandwich or even dip pita bread in it.  I recommend making your own beans so you can control how much or little of sodium you want.  Let it sit overnight and WOW will your tastebuds thank you! 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

DIY Garden Lemon Pound Cake


Preheat oven at 325 degrees

FOR THE CAKE
20 fresh lemon balm (I used fresh lemon balm from the garden)or lemon verbena leaves 
1 cup butter (I used dairy free)
2 cups sugar
3 eggs (fresh from my hens)
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk (I used dairy free flax milk)
2 tablespoons chopped lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (I squeezed fresh lemons)
1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

FOR THE SAUCE
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 cup lemon juice ( I squeezed fresh lemons)
20 fresh lemon balm or lemon verbena leaves (I used fresh lemon balm from my garden)
2 tablespoons of butter (I used dairy free)

MAKE THE CAKE
Butter and flour 10 inch pan or bundt pan. I used a standard size stone cake pan.  Take lemon leaves and lay them on the bottom of the pan rip side up.  Cover the whole bottom.  

In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar.  Add eggs and keep beating till completely mixed an a little fluffy.

In a separate bowl mix flour, baking soda and salt till completely mixed.  Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk till all mixed completely.  Now add lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla.  

Pour batter into cake pan.  60-70 minutes or until you poke it with a fork and it comes out clean.  Once done let the cake cool at least 10 minutes before putting it on a cake plate. (or keep it in the pan for easy clean up)

MAKE THE SAUCE
Mix sugar and flour into a small pan off the heat.  Stir in 3/4 cup boiling water and mix well.  Turn heat up till you get small rolling boil.  Add lemon juice, lemon leaves and bring back up to a boil.  When it thickens up a bit turn off heat and pull the leaves out and put into the compost.  Let cool before using.  

Cut the cake into squares and when serving be sure to drip a couple of spoonfuls of sauce and add a fresh lemon leave. Now go enjoy! 

NOTE: I used mostly organic ingredients but use what you have or what fits into your lifestyle.  Fresher the better though!  Get creative and don't be afraid of using different but same ingredients. In our case we are mostly dairy free so I used dairy free butter and milk.  To be honest I accidentally forgot to add the milk and didn't notice till I was writing this lol.  It still turned out yummy! 

This recipe is by Edon Waycott and found in the book COOKING from the GARDEN by The Taunton Press which you can purchase from Amazon  (not an affiliate link I make no $$ off anything I share) or be like me and borrow it from your local library for FREE!  



Sunday, May 18, 2014

Green Review Polly by Shelby Rebecca





  “Polly” Review
       Book Written By: Shelby Rebecca


In this inspiring book, a praying mantis and her new friends Emack the rose-eating spotted bat, and Jackson the orphan aphid, go on an amazing adventure to the tree between the four rivers to live a happy fighting-free life. But their adventure got interrupted when they get knocked out and contaminated by a crop-dusting airplane and get knocked out of the sky, falling into a toxic bug-poison infected farm.. The trio meets a girl named Greta who is battling an illness whose father runs the bug-poison farm.. Polly and her friends get separated and she gets kidnaped by mutants, and is on trial for spying. The punishment is taking Polly’s life. Its up to Polly to come up with a solution to all of her people’s problems.


As a thirteen year old, I thought that this book is a amazing story that inspired me to be even more curious of what I eat such as where my food comes from. Shelby Rebecca brings the eco-friendly story to life by giving friendship and adventure to the book. I learned even more about the effects of crop-dusting and what it does to our body. I can’t believe that people would even think of putting poison on the food we eat. This story is astonishing.

I highly recommend this book because it shows you to think out of the box and to become curious about the effects of crop dusting like I did. I think that this book would be good for all ages to learn more about the world around us and to become more cautious of the things we do and eat. Thank you Shelby for creating this wonderful and inspiring story because it really helped me understand the importance of Organic foods.

Shelby Rebecca sent me a free copy of her book in exchange for a free honest review. My 13 year old daughter read this book and wrote the review.

Now if you want to buy this book you can find it on Amazon. You can also check her out on Facebook.