Friday, December 16, 2011

The Non Toxic Avenger by Deanna Duke

For months I have been hearing my blogger friend Deanna Duke talking about her book she was writing and random things she was testing out.  So when the book finally came out last month,  I knew I had to get it.  I could of easily bought it off Amazon but I wanted to find it in person at a local book store.  I waited....and waited...and waited until the day it came out and I ran up to my closest Barns And Noble.  I saw it on their website and thought I would save myself some shipping cost and get it from them locally.  But of course they didn't have it. That would be too easy wouldn't it? Darn them. Then I checked Powell's because I knew they had to have it.  Powell's is my favorite store because its locally owned and sells used books as well.  Again it was a no go. 
One day I was out with my friend shopping off Capitol Highway in Portland and came across this cute little book store.Annie Blooms is a small store but has a community feel to it. There was no way I would find it here.  But I asked anyways.  I almost peed myself and did squeal when the nice lady said they had one copy.  Took a minute but she handed it to me and I swear I heard angels singing in the back of me. I am a life time shopper to Annie Blooms from now on. 
I took the book home and there I sat for hours reading the book.  I couldn't put it down. I am not a fast reader and it usually takes me forever to actually finish one because I get easily distracted.  Well that and I have four children bugging me consistently.  But I literally read half the book that night and was angry when I had to put it down to go to bed.  Long story short I read the book faster than any other book Ive ever read. 

Everything Deanna talked about over the last year was all the sudden coming back to me.  From first page to the last page it was full of great information.  What I love most is her sick and twisted mind which resembles mine.  She can always put a funny spin on just about anything.  You really can take her experiences and turn them into useful information that you can use.  I loved that she shared everything she does from her deodorant, face wash and even her tomatoes (which I also use).  If she eats them then I know I'm doing something good.

What I really love is that she doesn't just give up and go back to her old ways.  She found non toxic alternatives to her toxic main stream products she has loved over the years.  And if she couldn't find one at the store then she would make it.  If her son didn't like so many plants then she would sneak them in one by one.  And lets not get into Hank and his cakes.  Another great thing is that she explained everything so well that even I could understand it.  I couldn't pronounce all the chemicals but I sure could tell you what they were and how they would affect us. 

This book would be great for the newer greenie and even a novice greenie like myself.  I learned so much from this book and will read it a few more times.  Maybe I will be able to pronounce the words too.  Maybe. 

Would I recommend this book? YES
It would be a great gift to your family, friends or even just a neighbor.  And if your from Seattle then you have to buy it.  Support a local writer! And because Deanna has always been a great friend and fellow blogger of course I had to buy it.  She rocks.
So what are you waiting for? GO BUY IT!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Something borrowed nothing new

My daughter has a choir tonight which she told me about just a few hours ago.  Instead of going to the store and throwing down a good chunk of green cash I decided to see what she had already to work with.  Here is what we came up with. 
I found a white Gap summer dress at Goodwill a few years ago and she is finally able to fit it.  It's a halter dress that ties behind the neck and had silver sparkles everywhere.  I love her connect the dots (freckles).

  My daughter can never take a bad picture.  Seriously its crazy.  I don't understand it at all.
I then found a cute little black cardigan that drapes down.  This will keep her shoulders warm and add to the Christmas feel of the outfit. 
She needed something red to top off the Christmas feel so I purged all of my jewelry.  I took one of my many pearl necklaces and hung a beautiful red pin.  I found this pin at my grandmother's house.  I have no idea if its real or just red glass but that means nothing to me.  Its just beautiful and I feel my grandmother with me when I wear it.I then used two of my pearl bracelets and we tied a cute ribbon bow on it.  Hailey added the cute little bell. Hailey wore a pair of black dress shoe's with this outfit.   This completes her Christmas outfit for tonight. 


I dare you to put together a Christmas outfit!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Penny Pinching Christmas

You can save money at Christmas many different ways.  Here are a few things to inspire you.
In 2009 I made several ornaments. These copper ornaments are super easy. They are made from frozen juice metal lids, ribbon and left over copper sheeting from another project.  I simply drew a design on the copper, used a pen to make a imprint on the copper then wrapped the copper around the metal lid.  I then added ribbon onto the copper on the back.  No glue needed!
This year I bought many santa's from a little thrift store.  I remember these from when I was a child so I had to get them.  Paid $1.00 for 5 of them. Now thats a deal!
One of my very good friends gave my girls each a ornament with their names on them.  They are always on our tree.  I think giving ornaments for gifts is a great idea.  Helps them save money and is an inexpensive gift for you to buy.  Thank you Krisin!

Another year we took pine cones, added glutter on the edges and then added ribbon to hang them.  These are super cheap and easy to make! Kids love to make this one.

When I was working at Michaels (did for 10 yrs) after each season they would take down the examples and toss them into the trash.  I took these cute guys home for free!

When we brought home our Christmas tree my husband trimmed the bottom so we could put the tree in our tree holder.  I used the trimmed pieces to make my wreath.  I saved a wreath form that I bought last year just so I could use it again.  I then found some red raffia and made a bow to put on it.  This was a FREE project!
This beautiful tree skirt was painted by my mom when I was young.  It looks exactly the same and even smells the same each year when I bring it out.  Sorry mom but im keeping it! Christmas would not be Christmas without this tree skirt. 
Here is our tree today.  Some bought, some hand made, some are 2nd hand and some are given to us.  Simple but beautiful.  And pay no attention to the angel on top.  Its a little crooked like we are.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Bubble wands, teethers and hand kites oh my!


I recently saw a bubble wand kit that would be perfect for my girls.  Until I saw the price tag! It retailed for $20 and you could only make one bubble wand. You dip these into bubble water and swing around making a ton of tiny bubbles.   I knew my girls would love it so I decided to make my own for them.  Here is what I used and how much it cost. Would cost less if you use what you have from home.
.89 one wooden dowel
$1.99 Super Glue
$2 Bottle of bubbles
$3.99 Copper colored aluminum wire
scrap ribbon
That's only $8.87 for TWO!

You can make any shape wand you want. I wanted two star ones but as you can see it didn't happen.  Simply attach the metal shape to the wooden dowel that I cut in half.  I super glued the wire to the wooden dowel and wrapped a bit more wire around the wire shape to make it stronger.  I then glued some ribbon around all the wire to make it pretty.  DONE!
BTW-If you get super glue on your fingers don't freak out.  You don't have to use fingernail polish! Just get a sink full of warm water, lather your hands up with soap and rub a pumis stone on your hands.  Works like a charm.


I ordered some wooden rings online in hopes to make my own hand kites for the girls.  Well they were a bit too small. Will read more carefully next time.  I decided to use them to make teething rings for a family gift.  I simply melted some beeswax, olive oil and cocoa butter in a small bowl.These are safe for kids to chew on and a wonderful all natural finish. I then dipped the unfinished wooden rings into them and laid them down on newspaper.  I heated the wooden rings in the microwave for 30 seconds to melt off excess oil and then let them cool.  I then simply looped them on some ribbon and I was DONE!  Pretty cute huh? These sell for up to $30 each on Etsy and about the same in shops.  My total cost was $6. Woot woot!


These are hand kites.  Children hold the ring and run around watching the ribbon fly in the wind.  They can also throw them into the air like a shooting star. I am in love with these.These also sell on Etsy for $7-10 each.  These two were soaked in beeswax, olive oil and cocoa butter.  Here is what I needed to make these.

Wooden Ring-found mine at Home Depot bag of 7 for 7.99. Found in the curtain department and unscrewed metal clips out of them. 
Ribbon-.50 cents each. I used 6
Total cost for the two-$5

How to make them cheaper?

I could of used ribbon I already had
I could of used something different than wooden rings but I liked these.
I did use a beeswax candle (bought from Goodwill) , olive oil from the kitchen and already owned cocoa butter(can leave out)
All items could of be bought from second hand stores

My girls will be very happy on Christmas and it was worth me sneaking around trying to make them.  One of a kind items are always better than any plastic toy you can just go buy.  Cheers!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

$50 a week and busting my budget

My husband gets paid once a month so I have to stick to a budget or there will be no money at the end of the month to buy groceries.  Each payday I go what I call big time shopping.  I buy a ton of bulk dried foods and a weeks worth of fresh food.  I then stash away $50 for each week so I can buy fresh items that cannot be stored for long.  Things like milk, eggs, and meat.  This allows me to have fresh food all month long and take advantage of weekly sales and seasonal food.  I do not plan any of our meals, instead I cook meals around what I find seasonal, local, organic and on sale.  This keeps my food budget down and keeps our meals interesting.  Check back each week so see what were eating and be sure to check Surviving And Thriving On Pennies on Facebook to see pictures of our dinner meals or just to get inspired!


$2.14 Sweet Hickory BBQ Sauce (hubs doesn't like any of the natural kinds so its this that I buy)
$3.62 Oven Browned Turkey Deli Meat All Natural (on sale $3.99 per lb)
$2.17 Store Brand May (I cannot stand the all natural kind so I buy store brand)
$2.65 White Jasmine Rice
$5.98 Kraft Cheese ( cheapest one...not a fan but budget friendly)
TOTAL MINUS 5 cent bag credit =$16.70


$4.99 Organic Milk (switched to organic...thought about it freaked myself out again. Its back to organic)
$1.50 Organic Romain Lettuce (sale)
$3.63 10% ground beef all natural 1.
$3.42 10% ground beef all natural 1lb
TOTAL minus bag credit=13.49


$1.97 Organic Cannelloni bulk beans 1lb
$1.99 dozen vegetarian fed free range eggs
$1.49 Sunshine Dairy Half n Half
$2.01 Organic Red Lentils 1lb
$2.99 Organic Gala Apples 3lbs
$3.99 Organic Fuji Apples 3lbs (rang up wrong, sign said $2.99. Of course I was in a hurry and didn't want to complain so I sucked up the $1 over charge. UURRRKKK!!!!)
$1.59 Fair Trade Banana's
$3.29 Tomatoes
$3.29 Tomatoes
$3.84 Italian Sausage Deli All Natural
$1.49 Tomato Paste (tried to avoid canned so picked this. Then realized that duh..its in a aluminum tube. CRAP)
$4.99 Dark Roast 3 Bean Blend Coffee


$2.49 Holiday Tortilla Chip
$1.69 Salsa
$11.69 Organic Noodles(cheapest organic ones I can find. These sell out often so I snagged a ton)


So as you can see I went over budget by lets just say A LOT. I blame a few things.
First of all big ticket items like coffee, cheese and lunch meat put a dent into my budget. Uggg
Trader Joe's has the cheapest organic noodles and always sell out of this particular kind.  I snagged as many as I could possibly pay for today.  It will save me money later but as of now its busting my budget. 
Last but not least some people have been complaining about not having anything to eat (aka snacks).  So I had to toss in a few bags of not so bad snacks. 
That being said I think I did pretty good.  Bought in bulk when I could, bought organic when I could and didn't buy anything not on my list. 
Last but not least I should get a gold metal for how fast I shopped.  There was bad traffic, tons of people Christmas shopping, and it was in the evening on a Saturday.  Yep I need a metal.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

$50 a week

 My husband gets paid once a month so I have to stick to a budget or there will be no money at the end of the month to buy groceries.  Each payday I go what I call big time shopping.  I buy a ton of bulk dried foods and a weeks worth of fresh food.  I then stash away $50 for each week so I can buy fresh items that cannot be stored for long.  Things like milk, eggs, and meat.  This allows me to have fresh food all month long and take advantage of weekly sales and seasonal food.  I do not plan any of our meals, instead I cook meals around what I find seasonal, local, organic and on sale.  This keeps my food budget down and keeps our meals interesting.  Check back each week so see what were eating and be sure to check Surviving And Thriving On Pennies on Facebook to see pictures of our dinner meals or just to get inspired!


$2.36 Saltines 2 boxes (I make peanut butter sandwiches for the girls lunches with these)
$1.69 Pretzels (snacks for lunches)

TOTAL minus bag refund =$3.99


$2.69 RBST free gallon of milk
$4.99 Organic carrots 5lbs
$2.99 Apples 3lbs (was cheapest organic option. Bag will be recycled)
.95 Brussels sprouts (if something is charged by the lb you can open up net bags. This way you only buy what you want. I did this)
$3.71 Natural beef meatballs (sale for $3.99 )
$4.07 Natural beef meatballs( broken down into smaller meatballs to stretch further.)

TOTAL minus bag refund=$19.35


$2.19 Organic dried garbanzo beans (no more caned beans..only buying in bulk from now on)
$3.99 Organic bagged apples 3lbs
$1.76 Organic Split Pea
$2.49 Sunshine Dairy local egg nog (YUMMY! and 1/2 price!!)
$1.49 Sunshine Dairy Local Half n Half
$1.24 Fair Trade Banana's

TOTAL (bag refund donated to local charity)=$13.06


Also pictured is a great 6 pack of seasonal beer.  This was not taken out of our food budget and its more of a treat than anything.  We do this once in a while and anytime they have a seasonal beer we usually will buy that one.  You can only buy them once a year so we try new ones often. 

As you can see were under budget which means I can get things later if we run out of anything.  I also want to mention that my brother gave me a 50lb bag of oats for Christmas which should get some creative juices flowing in me.  I also was able to get 10 lbs of whole walnuts from a friend who lives on a farm.  I have shelled about 5lbs and put them in the freezer and have another 5lbs to do in the next couple of days.  These will be used for baked goods all year long.  My daughter watched a friends dogs for the weekend. They have 6 chickens that laid 4 eggs which I was able to keep.  And last but not least my friend Theresa gave me some organic produce that she could not eat up so I will be incorporating them into our meals.  This week has been really good for us.  Cheers

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Ruby And Her Angels

When I think of Christmas it's not about my favorite things given to me.  It's not about the amazing food I ate.  Its not even about the (dare I say it?) tree.  I think of the moment I pull our Christmas boxes down from the garage and dig into them to find my favorite pieces.  Oh sure I could just run up to Target and buy some cheaply made plastic decorations.  ABSOLUTELY NOT!  And for two reasons. 

2. Nothing is made to last

Today I am sharing my ultimate favorite Christmas things.  Enjoy and share if you have these or remember them.  I LOVE THEM!
I picked up this pretty thing at a little out of the way thrift store.  It reminds me of the angel decorations from when I was little.  Their expression on her face just makes me smile. 

Seriously how beautiful and delicate is this little pretty? Her glitter is almost all gone but you can still see sparkles here and there.  I'm pretty sure it was a ornament at one time but these days she sits on my fireplace mantle.  When I turn on my lights she sparkles ever so much. LOVE.

These are absolutely adorable.  They have some paint chipping off here and there but I fix that with some pens and paint.  Just look at their faces! I mean COME ON!

This little thing is my ALL TIME FAVORITE! My mother had one of these and I remember as a child always wanting to hold her.  I found this one at a thrift shop and almost peed when I saw it sitting on the shelf. I have no idea how old she is or how she lasted this many years but I am thankful she has made it to my home.  She sits atop a little tree we decorate each year and put on a table.  Perfect size!

Last year I found this party vintage paper party sign.  It is very old and again I have no idea how something like this could last this long.  Its one of those paper party signs you throw out after you use it.  I think some older couple from the depression kept this and finally let it go.  They held on to everything (including my grandmother) because they didn't have much and what they did have they treasured.  People these days are such a disposable mass of people. I just know kids these days will not have many things to cherish as I do.  My kids will be lucky because I treasure all of my things. Each year this sign will be up on our entry way beam for all to see.
Again here you see more paper decorations I found in thrift shops.  I find them, fix them and then laminate them to last for years and years.  I just love the curly hair around her cheeks. 
Then you have the cute little snow man with a winter hat and mittens.  Love the smile on him.

This Santa is one of my girls favorites.  From his Rosy pink cheeks to his fuzzy eye brows. 

And another snow man.  There is never enough of them. 
And then there are these.  I mean COME ON!!!! They seem to be made from bits of plastic melted together.  I have no idea how old they are but they look like they would be from the 40's-50's.  You see why I love thrift shops?
A new tradition is all thanks to my oldest daughter.  She has always loved nutcrackers so each year we get her a new one.  We moved to this home and these were lost in the shuffle.  So for one year they were not out and my daughter was so sad because she thought she lost them forever.  The next year we finally found them and it was like Christmas day for her.  They now live on our buffet side table each December protecting the tree. 

This year I turned one of my handmade plates, a ugly brass candle holder, a broken vintage pine candle ring and some smelly pine cones into a lovely table display.  I burn a apple/cinnamon candle which makes my home smell lovely.
Last but not least we have these.  My grandmother had ruby table wear stashed away and I always heard of it but never saw it.  When she passed away earlier this year we were going through her stuff and I stumbled upon all her ruby wear.  I swear I almost peed my pants.  It was like I hit gold and I screamed for my mom.  It now lives at my mothers place once again stashed away and never see the light of day. 
A few years ago I started collecting ruby wear from different stores.  Fred Meyers and Target were selling them for just a few years and I only allowed myself to buy them if they were at least 50% off.  I now proudly own 6pc setting of wine glasses, goblets, mugs, bowls, plates and large bowls.  I now proudly own two green pieces of glass bowls that were my grandmothers.  Each year we use these every day from December to all the way up to Valentines day.  It's something my girls look forward to and I love the beautiful smiles on their faces when we bring them out. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas Smorgasbord

Over the years I have come up with some handy idea's for Christmas idea's.  Take these idea's and get inspired. If this photo doesn't inspire you I don't know what will.  Would I like to be a fly on the wall at their house!


I put together kitchen baskets for each family.  End results were baskets only costing me about $2.50. Woot woot!

I share 5 easy and cheap mixes to make and toss in a mason jar. Most under $1 each. Woot!

25 stocking stuffers for under $1 should help anyone with kids.

Ways to save $ at Christmas is a great list of things you can do in the weeks leading up to the holiday.  This way you have more money for gifts or maybe just for saving.


Love easy mixes in jars?

Chocolate Peanut Popcorn anyone?

What about a Brownie Mix?

Pancake Mix is always a hit! I usually include wooden spoons and vintage aprons with this gift.

Christmas Cappuccino Mix is a hit for co workers. Plus its super cheap to make!

Even Christmas treats for your 4 legged friends!

Chocolate Chunk Cookie Mix will be a hit with anyone.

Almond Rocha anyone? ME ME!!!!

Blondie's to die for.


Christmas on the cheap

Part one-Vanilla Coffee Mix are great for co workers.
Part two-Bavarian Mint Mix is a big hit as well.
Part three-Not into coffee?  Try this Friendship Tea Mix out.
Part four-Herb mix for anyone whose handy in the kitchen.
Part five-Reindeer droppings everyone will gobble up!
Part six-Hot Fudge Pudding Cake for any chocolate lover.
Part seven-Apple Syrup for the pancake lover.


To be determined.....

Garden Gift

This is a repeat for my regular readers.  If your new then here is a cute gift idea for any gardener. 
Look closely and take notes.  Get thrifty and reuse what you can. You will need one glass tile sheet, wax crayon (for writing on after they are made), heavy duty epoxy, rubber gloves, Popsicle sticks and silverware.
You might do this......
And if you do that then you will have this.

Then just look at this! What gardener wouldn't want these for a Christmas gift?

Then you get to keep the left overs.  Whahoo!!!!! Now you may steal my idea and make some lucky gardener happy.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

$50 a week

$50 a week


$5.23 12 Cans of Tuna (my husbands request)


.46 cents Garlic Salt
$3.88 Deli Pepperoni


$2.19 Organic Raisins (sale $1.99 per lb)
$4.22 Organic Unbleached Flour (sale .89 cents per lb)
$2.69 RBST Free Milk
$4.11 Ground Beef All Natural (will be used in 2 meals) Sale $3.99 per lb
$1.99 Turkey Lifters (sale 50% off Metal & no plastic)


$4.99 Organic Sugar 4lbs (not pictured)
$6.58 Tomatoes (will be buying these from now on. Can recycle the container & no BPA!)
$1.49 Sunshine Dairy Half n Half (local company RBST Free)
$1.10 Fair Trade Banana's
$4.11 Ground All Natural Pork (will be used in 2 meals) sale $3.99 per lb
$4.99 Coffee Beans 3 Bean
.90 Organic Fennel
$1.99 Vegetarian Fed Free Range Eggs


The bag of bird seed you see was not taken out of my food budget.  Not sure how it ended up in the picture.  I get it from the bulk section for only 44 cents a pound. My poor birds outside have been giving me dirty looks so the feeders must be empty.  I did go over budget but only by less than one dollar so I think I did pretty good. 

I will no longer be buying cans of food so I'm pretty sure my budget will be tight until I can figure out where to buy things for the cheapest.  Today was about tomatoes so I found the paper type containers for only $3.29 which is about fifty cents less than New Seasons for the same exact product.  Only other thing I buy is tuna in a can which my husband requested this week.  I found them on sale for only 44 cents each which is cheap where I live.  This should last him for a couple of weeks.  I will be buying dried beans from now on and cooking them then storing them in the freezer.  Other than that I don't usually buy canned food.  This should be a easy thing to get accustomed to. 

Last but not least I think I have solved my problem when it comes to storage containers to use in my daughters lunches.  I was looking for stainless steel or glass and didn't like any of my options what so ever.  They were either too hard for my girls to open or too expensive.  Instead I will be sending food in small mason jars (which I own a ton).  These are easy to open and made of thick glass so do not brake easily.  This week I'm testing this out. Will get back to you on it. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Fill In The Blank Friday

I found a blogger called The Little Things We Do and thought I would give this little thing a try. 

1. Waking up at the break of dawn to go shopping is...... stupid if you ask me.  Why get up at the crack of dawn to buy things that we don't need? Exactly.  Nine times out of ten the items are made of plastic anyways. Not my cup of tea.

2. If I were to go shopping today I would be on the hunt for..Stainless Steel containers for my girls lunches, groceries, or a 6 pack of good local dark beer.

3. The best thing I ate yesterday was-Gravy. Nuff said.

4. Something I've been learning lately..Who cares what the hell people think.  Do what makes you happy, avoid/ignore the drama, and lead by example.

5. I cannot start my day without....Coffee, TMZ and Facebook. Yeah I suck.

6. My nighttime attire consists of a...comfy pajama pants, thin long sleeve t shirt, and sometimes socks until I get my feet warm.

7. I am looking forward to...finishing up my Yale online courses, decorate for Christmas, and planning out my garden and improving it from last year.

Fill in the blanks and share!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Grandma the great turkey thief

This year don't be afraid to buy a big turkey.  Left overs are a very good thing and can be used in many ways.  So make sure to save all those left overs or steal as much as you can.  Well don't steal but make it known you want them!


Save any left over meat for later use.  Cut up into cubes and freeze in one pound increments so its easy for you to use later. Turkey meat can be used in any recipe that calls for chicken. (think pasta, cold turkey salads, etc)

Save all turkey juices and freeze for later use.  Turkey juices are liquid gold if you ask me.  Use to make rice, add to potatoes, and they also make wonderful gravy. YUMMO!

Bones bones bones. DO NOT THROW THEM AWAY!! Simply pull off the skin, keep all the meat and put those bones to good use.  Toss them in a big pot of water and boil away.  You can easily freeze or can all that turkey stock for later meals.  This stock will add so much flavor to anything.  My favorite is to cook rice with homemade stock. Yummy!

Note-The first Thanksgiving I hosted for my mothers side of the family was in my very first home.  My grandma Mary came and when she left that night she took my turkey carcass. That thief! Then it didn't make any sense to me and I was happy because I didn't have to throw it away.  Now I can see exactly why she took it.  Living through the depression my grandma knew a good thing when she saw it.  Kudos to you gram.  Miss you more and more.


This makes a lovely treat for the kids later on after our dinners. 

Many people add it to sandwiches for a zesty touch.  I on the other hand would throw up a zesty touch if I did that. I don't do sweet with my main food.  I know...I'm slightly off.....but in a good way I promise.

Maybe add it to a glass of cold lemonade?

Maybe a mixed drink?

Or just purge the fridge at night  and eat it like you want to.  You know you do!


Like there are any left overs of those!

But if there is, you have options.  Save them and use them to make Shepard's pie. 

Who doesn't love mashed potatoes with cheese melted on top? Or maybe some sausage with cheese? Or maybe some chives with sour cream? Or maybe just the potatoes because your too lazy to add anything?

Again like there are any left overs of them!


Not even going to talk about this one because there are NEVER any left overs of these. I mean ....come on!


These can be added to any soup for up to a week after Thanksgiving. 

You can also put them in freeze safe containers and toss them in the freezer for later use.  Corn in corn chowder, beans in veggie soup, pea's in mac n cheese, etc.  You get the idea.


Any left overs of these are crumbled and tossed outside for the wild life.  And I swear I hear them say thank you as they take them and run off.  Well that or they are cursing me because I didn't throw out the good stuff.  I swear a squirrel flipped me off one day.  I swear!

Anyways you get the idea.  Don't throw anything out. Reuse everything you can.  And last but not least have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.  Don't drink and drive! Hopefully you will be stuffing your faces and feel too fat to drive.  Isn't that the point of Thanksgiving? 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Just a quick note....
You will no longer be able to get to my blog using

I have changed it to make it easier for people to find me. From now on its

Check your feeds and google reader.

My naughty and nice list

This Friday is the last day for my girls to turn in their list to Santa.  "Santa" needs the list to give the elves because it takes a long time to make each gift.  Or Friday is the day we do our Christmas shopping. You can believe which ever option you want. For my girls its do or die time and they have been working very hard at thinking of what they want or need. 

We have been talking to my 7 year old twins about how Santa expects them to be good all year and not just for this month.  As I'm telling them this I started to think about if I had been good.  After a few minutes I started to realize that maybe I should practice my own medicine.  Or mommy would be getting a big fat lump of coal this year.

So today I decided to write myself a good and bad list of things I have done this year.  This way I could see everything and determine whether I would be getting any coal under the tree or not. 


-Stopped making & using my own liquid laundry soap. I really missed the smell of store bought soap so I have been using the Eco friendly kind. I am using half the amount to save money.
I can fix this by using up my store bought and start making my own again.  This will save me a bunch of money.  Just suck it up Nancy sheesh.

-Driving my kids to school when I should be walking & driving more in general.
Since I carpool with neighbors this isn't all that bad.  BUT I now will walk anytime its not raining. I live only 3 blocks away so there's no excuse.  I have been driving my bug more because its mine and I can only drive it by myself when the kids are in school.  But it uses less gas than my euro van and makes me happy.  Wanted a bug since I was little and I finally have one.

-I stopped making my own bread.
Well I get my bread free from the bread store so I'm saving money this way. BUT all the bread items come in plastic. I went from zero plastic waste with making my own to several plastic bags a week.  Ugh.  I will start making my own bread again but still get the free bread when I need it.  I would be making bread non stop otherwise.  4 kids lunches a day is a lot of bread.

-I have been eating out more.
Okay I admit I'm hooked on Starbucks Salted Caramel Mocha. DAMN THEM!!!! I bought a few of them this last month and I should of known better.  Damn liquid happiness! I will stop buying them and cry in the dark by myself.  I sometimes meet my husband for lunch but its never fast food and only once in a while.  This is the first year were able to do this so I won't stop this naughty thing.  Sorry but I love my time with my hubby.

-I purchased beauty products instead of making my own.
I started to notice lines around my eyes and completely freaked out.  Up until now I have been able to make my own products and have good luck with them. Obviously I need more moisturizer and work.  While shopping at my favorite natural store I came across some beauty products for 75% off.  So I snagged myself some goat milk all natural eye cream, moisturizer, and face mask for around $10. That's a screaming deal. So I feel bad for spending that money but don't feel bad about spending it on myself. 

-Spent more money on new clothing
I bought myself a pair of jeans for $24, spent $35 on undies and bought myself a $20 dress.  Until this year I have not allowed myself to buy myself anything new unless it was under garments.  Due to my thin build its hard to find jeans so when I found them that cheap I snagged them.  Undies are always new but this time I bought some "wow factor" ones...I'll just leave it at that.  And the dress ....well it screamed "me" and it was over 50% off.  I buy my children everything so this year I decided to once in a while splurge on myself.  I'll try to only buy if its a really good deal.


-I expanded my garden & was able to store my produce to use for the whole year. 
We build 2 very large garden beds using untreated wood.  Topped them off with copper to keep the slugs out naturally.  I also purchased and used my greenhouse for many things.  I rotated my crops and planted things all year long. I also expanded my garden to the front yard by adding a few beds up there using left over wood.  End results were plenty of produce which I canned, froze or dehydrated.  This way I can enjoy green beans all year long and make pumpkin baked goods anytime I want.  Also saved me a bundle of $$$$$

-Replaced all our windows in our house. 
Wow is all I can say.  After we replaced them we never had to put our A/C during the summer.  I am truly amazed what new windows can do to your home.  We did all the work ourselves which saved us a bundle of $$.  Total spent for 8 odd shaped window and a sliding glass door was $1,500.  Woot woot!

-Added insulation to our attic.
We just did this last month so I'm not sure exactly how this will help out.  We spent about $700 for materials and the machine was free because we bought over $200 in products.  My husband was up in the attic spreading and I was in the garage stuffing the machine.  Only took about 2 hours so it was pretty fast.  We saved a bundle because we did it ourselves. 

-I ran the Helvatia Half this year and improved my time. 
I have always enjoyed running but it wasn't until 2010 that I actually ran in a race.  I plan on running the Helvatia Half each year and plan to add a new one each year as well.  2012 my new run will be the Hippie Chick Half with my oldest daughter.  Each race I will try to improve my time and enjoy the whole experience.  From improving my health to enjoying my surroundings.

-I volunteer at my daughters school two times a week.
I also volunteer for events when they need me.  Just recently I helped with 3 of my daughters Fall parties.  My children LOVE when I'm at their school and get to see them.  I love helping the teachers out because they need it so much these days.  Instead of planning my volunteer days around my life I decided to plan my life around them.  Its a win win if you ask me.

-We are gathering hats, scarfs, gloves, jackets and blankets to hand out to the needy this winter.
My husband is the one who brought this up this year.  What a great thing to teach to our children.  We are blessed and healthy so why not try to help others? I have been gathering things from friends and family and been buying them when I find good deals.  So far we have a good stash but are in need for more.  So if any of my friends/family have more let me know. For those I don't know I encourage you to give to the needy.  Clothing or food it doesn't matter. Just give!

After making this list I believe that I will be getting no coal for Christmas.  I realize I'm not perfect and I make mistakes just like everyone else.  My mistakes are not the usual ones and may seem silly to some but they are things that I feel bad about.  I have this inner struggle with being as green as possible but I am human and have my cravings and wants.  I can change my mistakes very easily and will learn from them.  I also can better myself each year. 

What about you?

Do you have a inner struggle when it comes to being green?

Try to make a naughty/nice list and see if you learn from it.

Monday, November 14, 2011

$50 a week

This week was a maintenance week for me.  I have plenty of veggies frozen from the garden and still have plenty of pasta/rice from before. So this week it was just the fresh items I needed. 

New Seasons

$2.69 Gallon of rbst free milk
$4.19 Ground Sirloin 5% fat ground beef ($3.99 per lb sale this week)
$2.42 Nitrate Free bacon ends (cheaper than bacon slices! )

Total minus bag refund $9.25

Whole Foods

$1.89 rbst free Vit D 1/2 gallon milk (used for creamer)
$1.99 Free range veg fed eggs
$3.99 Fragrance Free Lotion (my daughter is allergic to just about everything)
$4.99 3 bean dark coffee beans whole


Trader Joe's

$3.98 Two bags of puffiest white cheddar puffs (my girls lunch snacks)



$4.99 Tillamook 2lb block white cheddar w/coupon (normally $9.99 woot woot!)
$2.50 Darigold Butter (usually $4.39 woot woot!)
$1.25 Frozen Apple Juice (on sale. Using for daughters science project)


Fred Meyers

$2.69 International Creamer Cinnabon
$2.69 International Creamer White Chocolate (my husband wanted these)



I'm under budget by about $10.  Payday isn't till Friday so money is tight right now.  I'm trying to save where I can because it seems like prices of any type of food has increased.  To offset those cost I am trying to cook as much as possible and have no extra expenses.  Just going to have to get creative. 

So have you noticed all the prices going up?

Anyone else notice the shortage of organic sugar in the bulk?

Have your peanut butter prices gone up?


Saturday, November 12, 2011

The A to Z Guide to Me

The A to Z Guide to Me

I totally stealing this and would love to give credit to whoever started it but cannot find that person. So I will give credit to Crunchy Chicken and call it good. Enjoy and pass it on!

Age-35 but feel more like 20

Bed Size-Queen. Big enough to scoot away from the hubby when I'm hot but small enough so I don't go too far away.

Chore I hate-Bathrooms, putting away clothes, sweeping and dusting. That's one right?

Dogs-One dog and her name is Riley.  She's afraid of everything but is strangely addicted to the red laser. Even more strange is the fact that I can play with the laser for hours. Run dog and

Essential start to my day-Coffee whom I owe everything to.

Favorite color-Any shade of green and deep purple.

Gold or silver-I prefer silver but some how gold slips into my life.  Beggars can't be choosers.

Height-5'5 on a good day.

Instruments-iPhone.  Only thing I know how to use that makes noise besides my mouth.

Job title-Mom, wife, sister, daughter and volunteer. Or as I like to be called Awesome.

Kids-4. Alyssa 13, Hailey 11, Emma 7 and Megan 7.  This is why I'm crazy.

Live-Southeast Portland, Clackamas, Forest Grove, Hillsboro, St Helen's and now Northwest Portland Oregon.

Mother's Name-Debra, Debbie or as I call her Mom.

Nickname-Mama, mom, Mah Ther, honey,  nany, aunt nany and Nanc. I'm sure there are some I'm leaving out as well.

Overnight hospital stays-Each time I gave birth which was 3 times.  Also the day my father passed away. Technically I didn't sleep over but I was there ALL day long. Never want to do that ever again. Although I should note that the hospital food has come a long way so...

Pet Peeve-People who drive like slugs on the highway but speed down regular streets. WTF? People who park their big ass trucks into compact car spots. I park my euro van way out in the parking lot because of this.  People who don't use their turn signals. I literally want to bash my vehicle into them each time I see this.  I'm seeing a pattern here.

Quote from a movie="My daddy HATES these boots!" Anyone tell me which movie this quote came from?

Right hand or left hand? Right hand. All but 3 of my kids are right handed as well. Emma has to be different of course.

Siblings-I am the youngest of 5. 4 brothers and 1 sister.  Tim, Mark, Dave and Deb. I only grew up with my sister but these last few years I have been given a chance to grow up with my brothers.  Love you guys.

Time I wake up-During the week 7am but during the weekends I try to sleep in as much as possible.  I LOVE my sleep. But my kids like to ruin it for me so I'm usually up at 8:30am.

Underwear-Well I own too many because I cannot say no to a good cute pair of undies.  How many can one lady own? Well apparently like a hundred. Story goes that my grandmother from my DNA dad's side said always wear clean undies because you never know if your going to be in an accident and get your clothes cut off. Always wanna look like a lady. Yeah and you wonder why I'm weird.

Vegetable I hate-Love everything except okra and eggplant.  It's all about the texture.

What makes me run late-My kids. (fist in air)

X-rays-None that I can think of.

Yummy food I make-If you ask me I say everything.  Ask Alyssa and it would be Macaroni and cheese.

Zoo animal-Strangely my favorite thing at the Oregon Zoo is the farm animals.  All of which you can see if you just drive on the country roads out here. Well sometimes in friends backyards too. 

Fun huh? Pass on and have fun.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Stretch marks can suck it!

When I thought of pregnancy the first thing that came to mind was this. I had no idea my body would stretch beyond its limits.  For some reason I thought my body was just made to do this so it would stretch and go back to normal.  My first pregnancy I didn't gain much weight except for in my belly.  This was years before I was living a green lifestyle.  I was 20 and I didn't think of my body and the affects pregnancy would have on it.  I wasn't thinking of products or their ingredients.  All I knew was that my stomach was itchy from the stretching and I needed something to make it stop. 
My second pregnancy was a different story.  I still didn't know or understand products and their ingredients.  This time I craved Pepsi and Dairy Queen.  A cheeseburger, fries and a Pepsi to be exact.  Memories of getting my favorite meal and waiting till I got home to enjoy and devour each bite when I got home and all that going down the tube when I dropped my Pepsi and cried for a half an hour on the porch.  Lovely memories like that. Well as you can imagine I gained a bit more weight with my second pregnancy.  Even better was the fact that the baby weight spread to my legs, neck and fingers. 
Then in 2003 I found out I was pregnant with twins.  All I remember was leaving the doctors office and my husband was quiet all the way home.  We pulled into the driveway and got out of the car still in silence.  My neighbor came outside and asked how the doctors visit was and if we knew what we were having.  One word came out of my husband.  Twins. It wasn't that we were upset...more shock than anything.  I convinced my husband to have another baby insuring him that we would definitely having a boy.  Two girls already so it was a definite thing.  100% sure. But no.  Instead we were having twins.  Doubling our children in one pregnancy.  Later we would find out we were having twin girls. Yeah. No more kids for us. We learned our lesson. 

Now to get an idea of who I am just imagine this.  I'm 5'5 and small framed.  Ever since Ive stopped actually growing I have weighted about 105 pounds.  Ive had the body of a boy.  No boobs not butt no nothing.  Always waiting for puberty to kick in.  Just ask my classmates. Only when I was pregnant did I ever gain any weight.  So you can imagine what my little body did when I was pregnant.  My single pregnancies made me look like I ate a basketball.  Then with the twins I looked like I was smuggling a beach ball in my shirt.  All the weight went into my belly and you would never have known I was pregnant looking at me from behind.  Now just imagine what that does to a persons skin. it is.

Yep, that's me.  No its not a boy. Want to know my secret to no stretch marks? Vitamin E and olive oil.  That's it.  Ive given birth (close your eyes men....all natural no C sections and breastfed each one of my children) to four children.  Two of which were born on the same day.  Now I'm not in as good as shape as before kids.  Looks flat huh? Yeah not so much.  I'm just skinny and I run a lot.  Makes you want to run with my in my next half marathon huh? I don't use any toxic products.  I try to make everything I can from nature.  I am as green as I can get.  I eat pretty healthy but I have my moments.  I'm not perfect in any way.  I'm just fumbling my way through life just like everyone of you.  I just hit the jackpot when it came to this.

You hear that stretch marks? GO SUCK IT!

Directions: Each day I slathered myself with either vitamin E or olive oil.  Pretty easy huh?

Now that I have exposed myself to you how about exposing yourself to others.
 What did you use when you were pregnant?
Do you have a secret recipe?
Did you get stretch marks?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Biryani Rice with chicken

While I was at Trader Joe's on Friday they were handing out samples of this yummy food called Biryani Rice.  It was $5.99 for a bag plus $2.49 for the chutney plus $1.99 for coconut water.  It was pretty darn good and I thought maybe it would be nice to try something new at home.  To buy this from Trader Joe's I would of needed 2 bags of the rice mixture and one jar of chutney.  Total dinner would cost me $16.46 and that is the reason I was determined to make it myself. 

Biryani Rice with chicken

1 chicken breast
1/4 cup of chopped onion
1 cup of frozen pea's (or fresh)
1/2 cup of red bell peppers chopped
1/2 apple peeled/chopped
1/4 cup raisins
1 can of garbanzo beans
2 tsp salt
2 palm fulls of curry powder
6 cups of coconut water (or 6 1/2 cups of water boiled with coconut for 10 minutes.  Strain and use water)
1 tsp of butter

1. Ccoconut and 6 1/2 cups of water simmered on medium heat for 10 minutes. Strain and set aside water till you need it.

2.  In a separate pan saute apple, red peppers and onion till tender. Once tender add in curry powder, salt, peas and chicken.  Add water till the water covers the chicken.  Drain and add in your garbanzo beans.  Boil till you are left with half the water you added in the first place.  Turn off heat, mix in your teaspoon of butter and leave.

3.  Take coconut water and 3 cups of white rice and put into a large pot.  Heat till boiling then turn down heat to medium low and put a lid on it.  After a few minutes you will notice the water is almost gone and you will see holes in the rice where steam is coming through.  Turn heat off and set aside for 10 minutes.  This ensures that the rice will absorb all the water and your end results will be soft and fluffy rice. 

4.  Once the rice is done add in your curry mixture and mix till you see no more white rice.  Put a lid on this and let set for another 5 minutes.  Again this ensures that the rice will absorb all the liquids till nice and fluffy. 

5.  Put rice into bowl with 1 tbsp of chutney. Done!

Here is what my cost was to make this whole dish.

$1.19 chicken breast ($5.99 for bag of 5 breast)
.50  3 cups white rice (at $1 per lb)
FREE water
FREE onion(my sister gave me them)
.41 frozen pea's (bag has 6 cups was $4.99)
.33 frozen red peppers (used about 1 which bought for 3/$1)
.10 organic apple (was .79 per lb, used 1/2 apple)
.41 raisins (used 1/4 cup pack was 3 cups at $2.49)
.99 can of organic garbanzo beans
.99 curry powder ($1.99 jar used 1/2)
.10 Organic coconut flakes (was $5.99 per lb used very little)
1.24 Chutney ($2.49 per jar used 1/2)

Butter/salt I had

Serves my family of 6 plus enough left overs for lunch tomorrow. Makes about 9/10 cups. 

Honestly I was a little freaked out by apples and raisins in the rice. I have never been a fan of sweet stuff in my main meals and the thought of chewing on them freaked me out. BUT once this dish done there were no chunks of either of them and you would never know they were there unless you made this dish.  If you like the taste of them try not cooking them all the way. 

This meal is slightly spicy so if you cannot handle spice then instead of adding coconut water try adding coconut milk.  Or maybe try adding some plain yogurt for another added creamy flavor.