Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ways to Save on the Electric Bill

My DH was talking to him mother today, and she said her brother had just gotten his electric bill and it went up $100. I checked online for hers, and it has jumped $100, also. We haven't gotten ours yet, and it's not yet available to check online, so I don't know what it will be, but if their's is any indication, we can expect a higher bill.

I've been doing my best to save electricity this month...since last month's bill had gone up by $20...but it still remains to be seen if it's going to help our next bill.

I checked for some easy, cheap ways to save electricity, and these sites have some good ideas. (I tried to avoid the sites which said, "Change all your appliances to energy-saving appliances." Yeah. Like I've got a couple thousand dollars to spend on new appliances. SO, working with the appliances we have, here are some ideas for saving a bit here and there.

Save Electricity for the Environment

13 Easy Ways to Save on Electricity!

And now, I'm turning off the computer. ; )

Monday, December 29, 2008

Lime Cheeseball

One of our librarians went to Biltmore in Asheville, NC around Thanksgiving, and brought back a mix for a Lime Cheeseball. DH liked it SO much he wanted me to try looking online for a recipe (one that didn't include a $5.50 pack of flavoring.)

I found one that used lime Jello, and I tried it today. I had half of a block of cream cheese left over from something else so I used that, then I added in a little tiny bit of frozen lime juice (I found limes on the reduced rack at the grocery store and brought them home and juiced them and put the juice in the freezer, and I use a knife to scrape off the amount I need)...anyway, I used half a block of cream cheese, about 1 teaspoon of frozen lime juice and then I sprinkled lime jello powder in it and mixed it around and tasted it until it was good.

And it WAS good! I can't wait to need to bring something to a party and take it with some graham crackers and vanilla wafers. Uuuummm!

Choosing Voluntary Simplicity

I *know* I've heard of this site before...I must not have been ready for it, though, because it didn't "click" for me until just now. : )

I was searching for information on salt...I started wondering what those "anti-caking agents" are that they put in table salt...and Choosing Voluntary Simplicity was one of the sites that came up with information about salt.

I started exploring the site, and WOW! knew I had to share it here.

They even have a recipe for Homemade Ketchup which looks really easy and TASTY! (Homemade ketchup is one thing I've always wanted to try.)

She also makes this GREAT point about Being Sensible About Frugality ..."What sensible frugality does mean is getting the most value for the money spent. By practicing sensible frugality and saving money on necessary purchases… and perhaps eliminating unnecessary purchases… we actually end up with more money and more options of how to spend (or save) that money.
One of the first things most people discover when they try to live a frugal lifestyle is that extreme frugality is almost impossible to live with long term. It’s a lot like dieting. You can cut back on what you eat in a sensible way that you can live with happily for the rest of your life, or you can go on an unhealthy starvation diet that will make you miserable and is impossible to maintain. Some people try to save money by cutting so much out of their life that they end up feeling very deprived… the reason, I think, why some people get so burned out… they try too hard and deny themselves too much… almost guaranteeing that they will end up feeling impoverished and very dissatisfied with their new lifestyle." (end quote)

The Modern Homestead

My latest discovery...this site was FULL of fascinating things! I think (not sure, but probably) I found the address in a magazine, but I've just gotten around to checking it out.

It's stuffed with valuable information...I especially enjoyed the article about butchering chickens .

Enjoy The Modern Homestead (easy-to-use drop-down menus at the top of each page), or try the site map .

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Printable Calendars for 2009

This is my favourite printable calendar site.

I print one out for each month and hang it on the wall and mark appointments, schedules and such things on it, so *everyone* in the family can check it and will know what we're planning to do each day. DH has trouble remembering it's there (haha) and still relies on me to tell him what is going on, but the girls check it and mark their things on it.

Today I've marked when our library books are due and the time the basketball game starts Tuesday. : )

Friday, December 26, 2008

Tummy Troubles

Since my tummy is unhappy I'm going to post a couple articles related to that, then I'm making peppermint tea (from my own herb garden and going to bed.

(Oh, look, it's my herb garden from last summer! There is a gnome hiding behind my peppermint.) : )

ANOTHER cool Blog!!!


I just now came across it (yes, I'm spending Christmas night browsing blogs, lol) and the recipes are looking SO good! I've already copied the one for Vanilla Caramels ...I didn't know caramels could be homemade! : ) I can't wait to try!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

From Oscar and all of us!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


I don't claim to know lots about supplements, and I'm not a nutritionist or doctor ; ) but I would like to share the amazing change magnesium supplements made in my life.

I spent most of this year (2008) on the couch. My back hurt too bad to sit for more than a couple minutes, standing hurt, even laying on the couch didn't help very much. In September I started taking muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatory something-or-others ; ). I took them through the month of September, then in October my DH happened across an article online about magnesium deficiency causing muscle spasms and abnormal heart rhythms. (I hadn't mentioned it much, but my heart was beating VERY abnormally. Scary abnormal.) I thought, "Well, I can't lose anything by trying." so I bought some magnesium pills and started eating magnesium-rich foods. This is the most amazing thing ever, I think. ; )

On Saturday I asked my DH if he would cut my toenails for me, because I couldn't bend to reach them. I started with the magnesium on Sunday and by Tuesday I cut my own toenails! I could sit, stand, was simply amazing!

One week I was talking to my mom and cousin, telling them a funny story while laying on the couch, and I wanted to get up to demonstrate a funny part, and couldn't stand up. At all. That was scary, I was wondering if I'd end up unable to do *anything* for myself. The next week I was sitting, standing, walking, helping my mom around the kitchen, doing laundry...AMAZING!!!

Three days of magnesium supplements helped more than a month of muscle relaxers!

Now, I'm not saying magnesium will help everyone. But, if you're having muscle spasms it's worth a try! The pills aren't expensive, so you wouldn't be out much even if they didn't work. If they do work, you'll be glad you did! : )

One thing I don't mention, it bothers me quite a bit, though, and I'll tell this part of the story here, too, so you know more about why I was so worried about it. My brother suffered from severe muscle spasms for about 10 years before he died because of an aortic aneurysm at age 30. I think that perhaps if I had known what I do now he might have been spared. I've always thought back problems ran in my I wonder if it's not a problem with excreting too much magnesium instead. (My dad suffered from severe back pain, also.)

(A couple other things. I started out supplementing with 5 or so pills a day, instead of the one to three the bottle said. Also, my asthma has improved to the point where I haven't had to use my inhaler for two months (when I was using it daily), and I'm no longer craving chocolate!)

SO, for the sake of knowledge, I leave you with these links to begin your research on magnesium and the benefits of magnesium supplements.

Office of Dietary Supplements-Magnesium

Conditions Linked to Deficiencies of Magnesium


Monday, December 22, 2008

Homemade Laundry Soap


I haven't tried this yet, but I'm looking forward to trying it very soon. It looks SO interesting....I'm always looking for ways to save money, and this looks like a GREAT way! : )

I'm having to wait because my usual grocery stores don't carry the ingredients...and I haven't been over to the farther stores for a while.

I do have another link, too...Homemade Laundry Soap .

Looking forward to reporting back on this experiment! : )

***I found TWO other links for this today, after I posted, so I'm adding those, also.


And from this article about the Duggers I happened across this recipe...I'm cutting and pasting because it's annoyingly hard to find in the article.

(Begin copy)
Homemade liquid laundry soap

4 cups hot tap water
1 Fels-Naptha soap bar
1 cup washing soda
½ cup Borax

Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.

Fill a five-gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.

Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (It will gel.)

Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per two gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil.
Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons. Top-load machine: 5/8 cup per load (approximately 180 loads). Front-load machine: ¼ cup per load (approx. 640 loads).

Powdered laundry detergent

1 Fels-Naptha soap bar
1 cup washing soda
½ cup Borax

Grate soap or break into pieces and process in a food processor until powdered. Mix all ingredients. For light load, use one tablespoon. For heavy or heavily soiled load, use 2 tablespoons. Yields: three cups detergent (approximately 40 loads).
Inexpensive fabric softener recipes

Recipe No. 1: Add one cup white vinegar to rinse cycle. Works great. Removes residue and odors. Also helps to keep washing machine and hoses fresh and clean too.

Recipe No. 2:
1 container of name-brand fabric softener
4 inexpensive sponges, cut in half

Pour a whole container of softener into a five-gallon bucket. Fill empty softener container with water twice (two parts water to one part softener). Add sponges to softener/water mixture. When ready to use, wring out extra mixture from one sponge and add to the dryer as you would a dryer sheet.

(End Copy)

I liked that this one tells how to make powdered detergent...I don't remember the other ones doing that....or maybe I just missed them. Anyway, I can find it easier here. ; )


I finally ran out of my laundry detergent, so it was time to try making my own. I started out by grating a bar of soap. And spent the rest of the night sneezing. It was DREADFUL!!! I didn't expect it to be so small and powdery when I grated it. When I make some up again I'll wear a dust mask and a pair of goggles (it got in my eyes, too, and burned like, well, soap).

I used a recipe that was on a local homeschooling group this past week to make it, one bar of soap, one cup of washing soda and 2 cups of borax. Now I notice that the recipe up there says 1/2 c. I wonder if what I made is *really* off, *but* I still ended up using 3 tablespoons per load instead of the 2 tablespoons, because 2 simply didn't seem to clean well enough. I liked adding a splash of vinegar to the rinse cycle, too, because it seemed to help it rinse out better. (My first load I missed the rinse cycle, and the clothes seemed a bit slimy.)

My DH came through the kitchen while I was grating soap and asked what I was making and when I said "Laundry soap." He said, "I will BUY you some detergent." I told him I am trying to be more frugal and he'd better stay out of the way. lol

Bottom line....I like it, with reservations. I'll have to see how long it lasts before I decide if I'll be using it forever or not. If it lasts like some people have said (6 months or so) I will probably keep using it.

****Update: I used the last of my Borax and Washing Soda the last week of April, so it lasted four months. Not the six I was hoping for, but still, four months without having to buy detergent was nice. : ) (Some *really* heavily dirty things it wouldn't clean well...I don't know if anything would have, though. Thinking specifically of a shirt my DH had ground-in clay mud on...that might not have come out even with an expensive detergent. Anyway, he has more shirts.) ; )

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Chocolate Cake and Chocolate Frosting Recipe

This is the recipe for the chocolate cake I made yesterday (of which I forgot to take pictures). It was really good...the frosting is SUPER sweet, so if you don't like super sweet you might try a store-bought icing.

My DH and I decided it's a keeper, though, for *just-in-case* I ever needed to make a cake and didn't have a box mix on hand. Really, the cake part was much better than a box mix...very moist.

One last word about the recipe. The one I copied it from said to bake 15 minutes. I have no idea why it says that, but obviously 15 minutes won't be enough. Just bake it as long as you normally would a cake, and test it with a knife or poke it and see if it springs back.

Chocolate Cake (From Scratch!)

2 sticks margarine
1 c. water

4T. cocoa
2 c. plain flour
1/2 t. salt
2 c. sugar
1 t. baking soda

2 eggs, well-beaten
1/2 c. buttermilk

Boil margarine and water, remove from heat and add to dry ingredients, mix well and add eggs and buttermilk. Pour into prepared (greased and floured) pan and bake at 325* until done.

Chocolate Frosting

1 stick margarine
6 T. milk

4 T. cocoa
1 box powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla

Boil margarine and milk, add to dry ingredients, mix well, and add vanilla, spread on cake as soon as cake has finished cooking.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Another Site I Simply LOVE! and Mock Apple Pie

I LOVE this blog...A YEAR OF CROCKPOTTING ! She has the best recipes ever, and all in the crockpot!

I also adore my's probably the most-used item in my kitchen, because it's SO easy to use. Dump the food in, turn it on (yeah, it's an important part, which I have forgotten at times), and walk away. Return in a couple hours and eat! My kind of cooking...although my DH would tell you my kind of cooking is to stick something in a pot, walk away, and return when it's in flames. (Get him to tell you that story sometime, seriously. It involves a chicken, a *quick run* to the grocery store, a few men working on a water pipe, a hole across the road, and flames...great story)

Today I'm making a *from-scratch* chocolate cake...if it turns out I'll post the recipe...and pictures if I remember to take some. I'm also making dressing, which is one thing I do make well. My DH's family reunion is tonight, and I have to bring a few things, so I'm planning on a chocolate cake, dressing, a banana pudding and Emma is making a Mock Apple Pie.

Mock Apple Pie is SERIOUSLY good. Emma wanted to help bake something one day, and I didn't have much on hand to work with, but I did have a pile of pie shells I bought for 3 for $1 at a salvage grocery store, and we seem to always have crackers that haven't been closed properly and they've gotten stale, so it seemed the perfect time to experiment. : ) DH has an uncle who remembers eating it during the depression, and told the girls that story while eating the pie. This site tells the story of it...and discusses using Ritz crackers instead of saltine crackers as Heloise has in her recipe. We've used both (sometimes at the same time) and Ritz (or a cheaper ritz-type) crackers are better in it. Today, though, we're using saltines, because DH forgot to close up a pack of them, and they're too stale to eat now. ; )

I'm surprised by the differences in the number of crackers used in the recipes online! I saw them using up to 50 crackers! We do what Heloise says, about 20. It's a great way to use up several opened packs of crackers which have only a few left in the bottom.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Another Amazing Site!

I'm getting tired...I've been out most of the day; grocery store, library, school Christmas play and a funeral tonight. I thought I might skip a day on posting but then I started browsing through this GREAT site and wanted to share!

I'm linking to the kitchen page, because that's where I am right now. ; )

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

No-Cook Eggnog

In the spirit of Christmas-on-the-way, here's a no-cook eggnog recipe that I received from a homeschooling group today.

No-Cook Eggnog

1 1/2 cups 2% milk*
3/4 cup fat free half and half
3/4 cup egg substitute
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 Tbsp. bourbon**
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
Whisk together all ingredients in a bowl or pitcher. Cover and chill until ready to serve.
* Vanilla flavored soy milk may be substituted.
** I use 1 tsp. rum extract. You could leave both out and it would work just fine.

(If anyone tries it, let me know how it turns out. I don't like eggnog, but this sounds just a little better.) : )

World's Easiest Peanut Butter Cookies

I made cookies today...not for Christmas...they'd never last that long. ; ) More of a *just because* sort of cookie. ; )

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg

Mix, drop teaspoon-sized (or tablespoon, if you like big cookies) dollops on an ungreased cookie sheet, flatten with the back side of a fork for the cross-hatching and bake. 350*, I believe will do it.
They're done when the bottoms start to brown.
(Note: Do not go off to blog about your beautiful cookies while there is another batch in the oven!)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Beans...Cheap, Easy, and TASTY! : )

This is SUCH a packed-full site! More beans that you can shake a stick at. If you wanted to shake a stick at beans.

There are headings for 18 kinds of beans! I have the page saved opened to the Pinto Beans, because they're cheap and easy to work with, so I thought I'd start browsing there. I haven't had time to look through the site very well yet, but hopefully I'll soon get a chance to really go through it, and print out some recipes to try.

In the meantime, YOU enjoy it! : )


The quote at the bottom of the page came from this site , which I thought was very lovely.

I LOVE THIS BLOG'S NAME!!!! (And herbal remedies)

I simply HAD to get this name for a blog before someone else did! : )

I was browsing online, looking for something that had absolutely NOTHING to do with pawpaws (hey, look, it's a pawpaw tree in my yard!) or the masses, and then there it was in a newspaper article , and I knew it was meant for me! : )

You see, I've been playing with the idea of starting a new blog for a while now, putting up links and recipes for simple living/frugal living sorts of things. The homeschool groups I'm on frequently have posts about ways to live healthier, simpler, cheaper and so on, and I've been wanting to put them all together (not to mention that every once in a while I come across something completely on my own. lol)

SO, since there was this GREAT name just sitting there waiting for me to use it for a blog, the time must be right to start. I'm fighting with the urge to stick a link in this post so I will feel it's *really* started...let me see what I have handy...ah, here is a site that will send you an e-mail every so often with information about herbal remedies. So far I don't believe I've used any of the remedies, but I enjoy getting the e-mails and watching their how-to videos. The spot to sign up for the e-mails is at the bottom of the page.