Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bake Sale Containers

I'm contributing to a bake sale fund raiser for the Navy Wife Family Support Group. Some of my baked items are rather gooey and don't really package well in plastic wrap. To maintain the presentation of my peanut butter drizzled chocolate cookies I reused come plastic clam shell food containers which I bummed off from a few coworkers who buy their lunch from the cafeteria.

They look so professional and pretty, plus I reused items that would have sooner been in the trash, works for me.

For more Works for Me Wednesday Tips go to Rocks in My Dryer.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Cookie Coating

I thought of this tip as I was trying to quickly make snicker doodle cookies the other day for a gift. Normally I take balls of cookie dough and roll them around on a plate of cinnamon sugar, I found it much much quicker to dump all the balls of dough in a large zip top bag add in cinnamon and sugar and toss. The cookies were evenly coated in a matter of seconds. My cookie dough was frozen, if you tried this with freshly made cookie dough the balls would stick to each other.

I was so pleased with how this worked, plus the left over cinnamon sugar can be stored in the bag for another use.

Go to Tammy's Recipes for more Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

Monday, April 28, 2008

Menu Plan Monday April 28 - May 4

Monday 4/28 Chicken Pot Pie

Tuesday 4/29 Leftover chicken pot pie

Wednesday 4/30 Baked Pasta, Salad

Thursday 5/01 Leftovers

Friday 5/02 Pizza Night

Saturday 5/03 Hot dogs, baked beans (I'm going for an all American meal)

Sunday 5/04 Roast Chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy (A classic comfort food perfect for Sunday)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Impromtu Gifts and Frugal Packaging.

I save a lot of things that some people would say belong in the trash. Pretty much any food container that could possibly be reused is washed, dyed and put into a big box loaded with "trash" and saved for any future craft project or gift container.
I get excited when my container collecting pays off. Sunday night we were invited to a birthday gathering, celebrating two belated birthday's with some board games and good company. It was very impromptu and we were invited two hours before it started. I couldn't bear to show up empty handed with no gifts. I had cookie dough in the freezer (a huge time saver) in 20 minutes I had freshly baked cookies in the most adorable packaging made with a quickly stamped tag and a little ribbon to dress up my blue trays I found in the "trash" box ( mushroom containers from the grocery store). I just love reusing items, it's such a great way to save money, Plus my gift packaging is original and receives plenty of oohs and awes (boosting my ego just a wee bit)

Reusing packaging works for me.

for more Works for me Wednesday tips go to Rocks in My Dryer.

for more frugal tips go to Biblical Womanhood for Frugal Fridays

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

So Kind

Yesterday I received two wonderful things in the mail, both really made my day. I feel more connected when I receive something from a far away loved one.
My mom sent me a big envelope stuffed with coupons, always appreciated. My mother-in-law sent me some dried kefir grains, I mentioned my interest in wanting to try keifer and she sent me some of hers and a homemade card to accompany them, so sweet.

It feels so good to know that you are loved and thought of and yesterday I got a double portion.

Monday, April 21, 2008

2 Timothy 16-17

16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

I forgot to most my weekly memory verse. It's already Monday evening, where does the time go?

Menu Plan Monday April 21- April 27

Monday 4/21 Quiche the best quiche recipe I've made so far. I love the subtle flavor and spiciness the green chilies add.

Tuesday 4/22 Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs - I make this frequently it's a favorite chicken recipe

Wednesday 4/23 US Senate Bean Soup- I'm making this, but here is some info about the soup.

Thursday 4/24 Leftovers Night

Friday 4/25 Pizza Night

Saturday 4/26 Tuna Casserole

Sunday 4/27 Pasta Carbonara - I've made this once before several months ago, it's good not as as my mother-in-law's, but it's tasty enough to have made it in my recipe binder. I use bacon instead of pancetta for frugality's sake and it turns out just fine.

For more Menu Plan Monday go to I'm an Organizing Junkie

Homemade Pasta

Sunday afternoon was a bit lazy and easy going, I ventured into the kitchen to try something new and daring. I dug out my pasta roller and made some raviolis from scratch. Really tasty but super time consuming (probably becuase it was my first time making raviolis). I was inspired to start making fresh pasta after reading a Martha Stewart Living article about a year ago, I have the paper version torn from the magazine stored with my pasta roller. I use the Kitchen Aid Mixer Stand attachment, and it works really well. Making the pasta dough is really easy, you can roll it out by hand but having a pasta roller or pasta machine really helps out.

On a clean counter mound 2 cups flour, make a well in the center and add 3 eggs, 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, mix together and knead dough until smooth and satiny, I had to add more flour but I live in a very humid climate. Let the dough rest about an hour before rolling out into sheets.

To make raviolis I took similar sized sheets of pasta dough (some I cut to size using a pizza cutter) I placed teaspoon sized mounds of cheese filling on one sheet of pasta and topped the filling with another sheet of pasta dough. It helps to use a little water to "glue" the dough together. (just dip your finger in water and apply around the filling) Make sure there is no air in the ravioli or it will burst open when cooking. I used my pizza cutter again to cut apart the squares of filled pasta. Place the finished raviolis on a floured baking pan or cooling rack to dry for about an hour, I covered them with a tea towel.

Fresh pasta cooks up much quicker than dried (a couple of minutes) when you boil fresh pasta start testing for doneness early, The raviolis seemed to be done once they started floating.

I love making pasta and being in the kitchen. I like knowing that I can make something and it will turn out good, that being said I'm glad that I made raviolis but I probably won't be adding them to my weekly menus being that they take to long to make. Maybe if I find some ravioli molds at a yard sale or thrift store at a cheap price I'll try again and see if it goes any faster.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Making homemade sandwich rolls

Making bread is cheaper and healthier than store bought bread and it's easier than you think.
Yesterday, made some good looking and super tasty sandwich rolls. Most of them will go in the freezer for future meals and a few will be saved for lunches this weekend, I was thinking tuna sandwiches but the rolls look just right for some French dips, so who knows.

These rolls were made from a hamburger bun recipe, I shaped them into rectangles resembling a sandwich roll (think hoagie or sub sandwich) I sprinkled the tops with sesames seeds and ran a paring knife down the middle of each roll before baking to give the tops the split look that bakery rolls have.

I spent a whopping 15 minutes of "work" on these rolls (quite possibly less). I used my bread machine (bought from a thrift store for $5, given to me by my mom) I dumped in all the ingredients and let the machine do the rest, just before the machine was ready to "bake" I stopped it, removed the dough, shaped the rolls and baked them in my oven.
It's true that the total time to make bread can be hours, which requires a little bit of planning ahead, but actual working time is not much at all and it's reduced even less with the help of a bread machine.

My Frugal Friday Tip is to bake your own bread. Homemade bread is a fraction the cost of store bought and with twice the taste it's worth every bit of effort.

For more Frugal Friday Tips visit Biblical Womanhood.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Folding Towels

I was thinking a little too hard to come up with a Works for me Wednesday tip, and than it hit me as I was folding laundry how much I like folding towels, I'm a little compulsive about my towels, I like them to be uniform and neatly put away in the closet. I've got my towel folding down to a science and I thought my method would be perfect for sharing on Wednesday, after all it works for me.

I don't have a matching towel set, we own a whopping 9 bath towels in three different styles, thankfully they are all white or beige colored, so they look somewhat cohesive.

Here's how I fold my towels:

1. Fold in half (hamburger style)
2. Fold in thirds (hot dog style) like folding a letter
3. Fold in half (hamburger style)

This method is so easy I love how it gives the towels a uniform look when put away.

Go to Rocks in my Dryer for more Works for me Wednesday Tips

Monday, April 14, 2008


This Article from Blissfully Domestic is gives some really good organizing insight and tips.

Menu Plan Monday April 14- April 20

Mon 4/14 Cowboy Hash - This is a really good breakfast meal that's too good not to have for dinner
Tue 4/15 Mango and Beef Wraps -This is also a tasty recipe plus I have roast beef in the freezer
Wed 4/16 Spaghetti and salad - simple and classic
Thur 4/17 Leftovers
Fri 4/18 Pizza Night!
Sat 4/19 We are going out Saturday!
Sun 4/20 Sesame chicken - A favorite

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Psalms 119:89-90

Your word, O LORD, is eternal;
it stands firm in the heavens.

Your faithfulness continues through all generations;
you established the earth, and it endures.

These feet were made for walking.....

You can't tell in the picture but I have a very noticeable tan line from my shoes, my feet are very white in comparison to my legs. Yesterday Greg and I went on a hike, I think the group leader or someone underestimated the difficulty of this hike. This was by far the most adventuresome hike I've ever been on, EVER! I'm talking about jumping over streams, sliding down steep hills, using rope to pull yourself up and hang on to avoid falling, wadding through tall plants where there was no discernible path. Our tour guide wore a BRIGHT yellow hat and more than once I was glad he did, as I felt lost sometimes. I had a ton of fun, I just had no idea what I was up against. There was a small stream we had to jump over, it was a good 5 feet or more, there was a branch that I could grasp for balance and another branch that could be used for a stepping stone of sorts, as the second person to get across I was holding up our group in trying to build up enough nerve to jump across, I have very little balance and coordination in me and I ended up falling off the stepping branch twice. My shoes and socks were soaked and Greg had a really good laugh. The hike started at 11 and we thought it would last roughly an hour, so we didn't eat lunch before we left and Greg requested that I not bring a big back pack full of "essentials." We didn't get home til nearly 4 o'clock, I was so hungry but at the same time I was glad not to have brought a bag as I probably would not have made it climbing up and down steep hills. At the end of our hike (or I guess you would say the middle) we rested and played around for about 45 minutes at a large waterfall (I forget the name of it) there was a fresh water lake or pond at the bottom of the falls and several people went swimming, even Greg jumped in despite the fact he had no swimming trunks. It was really pretty. Also on our hike we detoured a bit and walked to the "Tank Farm" where we saw a couple of very rusty and beat up WW2 tanks. I was upset that we didn't think to bring the camera. We'll take more hikes I'm sure and I'll will try to remember the camera.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Frugal Scrapbooking - Use what you have.

It's spring break for me and I've been cleaning up the house and scrap booking. I'm just a few pages shy of finishing up our Key West Vacation photos. Today as I was cleaning up my scrap booking mess, (so much for a clean craft room) I realized that I did not purchase a single thing to scrapbook, I seem to always run the craft store to pick up something special for whatever scrap booking project I'm doing. Today's frugal tip is a no brainier but here it is USE WHAT YOU HAVE.
I used my computer to print out a few signs and labels for my pages as I always do but I did not purchase new paper, stickers, stamps, or new crafting toy.

One big tip that helps me is keeping a box of scrap paper, I never throw away paper, even the smallest scrap can be used for a tag.

Getting photos out of the shoe box and into an album : a few days and $0
Preserving memories for your children's children : priceless

It's been a nice week off and a frugal one at that.

For more Frugal Friday Tips visit Biblical Womanhood.

Also, since I've been cleaning up and crafting I couldn't help but go through old projects. Here are a few photos from my wedding album which took more than a few days but I'm awfully proud of it.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Pizza Night

We may be having people over, perhaps for Pizza Night on Friday. (it will be our second official pizza night) We were invited to go out for dinner with some of Greg's friends, but I declined unless our "general checking" account payed the bill, of course Greg said no. We recently did away with our entertainment fund and opted to increase our "allowance" which means that when we want to go out to dinner our personal "fun money" pays the bill. It's funny how little we eat out now, not that we ate out a lot before. I made the suggestion that Greg invite the guys over to our house instead. It should be fun.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Clothes Pin Recipe Holder

I recently discovered that my oven hood is magnetic. If you are like me your well loved recipe cards and print outs are wrinkled and splattered with all sorts of food stains. Yesterday, I made a recipe holder to get my recipe cards and printouts off the counter and in a more visible location. I glued a magnet to the back of a standard clothes pin. I than added a little paper tag for cuteness. The clothes pin attaches to my range hood and works really great. I love it! No more messy recipe pages. Now if only I can think of something to protect my recipe books.

For more Tips visit Tammy's Recipes

Making Frozen Yogurt

I made Raspberry frozen yogurt yesterday, It is so good and so easy. Also a less guilty pleasure than ice cream. You'll need an ice cream maker, I use the Kitchenaid mixer attachment ice cream maker.
Here's how I made my frozen yogurt:
Take two cups of plain yogurt place in fine mesh strainer and let about 1/2 liquid drain off. Meanwhile mix 2 cups frozen raspberries or strawberries with 1/3 cup sugar, pulse in blender or food processor until coarsely chopped, set aside. Sprinkle 1 envelope unflavored gelatin (2 1/4 teaspoons) over 1/4 cup whole milk and let sit about 10 minutes to soften gelatin (I suppose you could try a flavored gelatin) In a sauce pan bring to a simmer 3/4 cup whole milk with 1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons sugar, stirring to dissolve sugar. let cool 5 minutes. Add gelatin mixture and stir. Let cool to room temperature and than gently mix in the strained yogurt and berries. Refrigerate until cold and than poor into your ice cream maker and freeze as directed. Getting the mixture cold is really important, it helps your ice cream maker work better.

It seems like a lot of steps, but it's quite easy and well worth the reward. It was my first time using gelatin in frozen yogurt, I just happened to have some in my pantry from an old recipe. I think the gelatin helped give the frozen yogurt a creamy texture. Really fantastic! Plus it got the husband's seal of approval.

Go to Tammy's Recipes for Kitchen Tip Tuesday

Monday, April 7, 2008


Last night, Greg was mowing the lawn and he had a frog jumping along side him, narrowly missing the lawn mower. After he finished mowing the lawn he called me out to see his frog friend which was happily hopping in the drive way. Of course I had to have a picture, especially since this little guy was so domestic and unafraid. We have a large street lamp near our house, at night you can see a dozen of more of these frogs congregate and wait for bugs which are attracted to the light, It's quite a sight. The frogs are quite large, about the size of my fist. I don't mind the frogs as long as I never see one in our house. Critters seem find their way into our house, we've had numerous geckos, a shrew, and a snake, all of which cause a big scene (on my part) when discovered. The last three weeks have been critter free and I haven't seen anything indoors short of a small gecko. Let's hope that our home will remain critter free now that we are settled in.

Ribbon Tree

I'm cleaning up and organizing my craft stuff, this has been an ongoing project. I have a large twig that I just couldn't throw away I knew it could serve some purpose. I have emptied out my ribbon box and strung my ribbons on a sting hung on the wall. With my ribbons out in the open I can see what I have and I don't have to dig through a box making a big mess in the process.
Back to my twig: I have tied all my ribbon scraps to it, now I can see them all. Again- no more digging through a box.
My ribbon tree is a little big but it's cute and now my twig has a purpose.
By the way the twig is held in a wrapped Quaker oatmeal box and rock salt for support (the only thing I could find short of digging for rocks outside)

In case you were wondering this is what my ribbon organization used to look like:

For more Works for me Wednesdays go to Rocks in My Dryer.

Menu Plan Monday April 6- April 13

Monday April 7 - It's leftovers for tonight

Tuesday April 8 - Beef enchiladas with rice and beans

Wednesday April 9 - Tuna noodle casserole

Thursday April 10 - Leftovers Night

Friday April 11 - Pizza Night!

Saturday April 12 - Soup and cornbread

Sunday April 13 - Spaghetti and meatballs with a garden salad

Go to Organizing Junkie for more Menu Plans

1 John 4:10-13

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another 12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.

Greg and I started an Adult Sunday School class yesterday called Teamwork in Marriage. It's our first ever marriage type class. While we haven't found a church yet, we thought why not just jump in and get connected, this class is only 8 weeks long, if the church doesn't seem to click after the class is over we can continue church hopping, but I have to say I'm anxious to be settled and have a church family. I already know two other wifes who go to this church.
In the first class we talked about several verses on love, this verse in 1 John really sunk deep with me.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Homemade Soft Scrub - Frugal Friday Encore Edition

I just finished cleaning my bathroom with homemade SoftScrub and my results were so great I knew I needed a second Frugal Friday Post.

I have the day off and I planned on doing a bunch of household chores that I have been putting off for days and days. My biggest excuse for cleaning was that I didn't have the proper cleaning solutions for the job. I have moped around the house for a while "organizing" cabinets and being distracted by all sorts of things until I came across a forgotten list of homemade household cleaners I had printed off a while back. For whatever reason I was immediately motivated to get cleaning and I quickly made a batch of homemade "soft scrub" I just finished cleaning the bathroom and scrubbing the tiles in the shower stall and my homemade cleaner worked beautifully.

To make SoftScrub simply mix baking soda with enough liquid detergent to form a paste with the consistency of frosting. Apply with a sponge, swish, swipe and rinse. My shower stall is clean and shiny. I love it. I also used the mixture to clean the counter and sink, I had days of caked on toothpaste and all sorts of it's pretty and clean.

The best part about this soft scrub substitute is that I can make as much or as little as I'd like. I made just a small amount- enough to clean my bathroom once, so I don't have another container of cleaner taking up space in the cabinet.

Pizza Night

I'm starting a new tradition at our house. Pizza night is every Friday. I love pizza! it's quick and easy to make, it can be a well-balanced meal , it's cheap, and tastes soooo goooood. I thought I'd share how I make pizza for Frugal Friday. My picture came from last week's pizza made with zucchini, mushrooms and caramelized onions so good. One of the best things about pizza toppings is that you can be creative and use what you have in the fridge or pantry. Pizza is also nice because it's easy to change it up by trying new toppings and ingredients. To keep the cost down I don't usually go out and buy "toppings" at the store, it's always what I already have on hand from other meals. (I do like to buy pepperoni if I have a coupon)

You don't need much for pizza, here's the basics:
a crust
marinara sauce (this can be homemade or from a jar)
grated mozzarella cheese
Romano or Parmesan cheese

I use a baking stone for my pizza, you can use a baking sheet or if the crust is frozen bake right on the oven rack.

FOR THE CRUST (it's a thinner crust) :
I have tried many crust recipes and they have all been ok, nothing fantastic. Since our move I have tried something completely different and original for my crust and it has worked really well. Before we moved I packed away some non-perishables from our pantry amongst those items were ziploc bags filled with the dry ingredients for no-knead bread (I've made this often, it's really great). When we moved in to our house I had all these bags filled with flour and such. On a whim I tried making pizza crust with those and it worked beautifully, I've since used this method about half a dozen times, and now I'm down to two ziploc bags, it's funny because I have not made no-knead bread at all since moving.

In the bags are 2 and 3/4 cups flour, 1/4 cup whole wheat flour, 1/4 teaspoon yeast, 1 and 1/4 teaspoon salt. I take about 1 and 3/4 cup of the flour mixture and add 3/4 cup water. I mix until a dough forms and than knead on a floured surface a few times until the dough is smooth and a little springy, it's a soft dough but not sticky. I cover the dough with a tea towel to rest a few minutes, while it's resting I gather all my pizza ingredients and prepare to make my pizza.

SOME TOPPING IDEAS (the list could go on and on, just use your imagination):
pepperoni (of course) you can make it if you are ambitious-someday I will try to do so.
Canadian bacon and pineapple
bacon and caramelized onions (My husband's favorite combo)
yellow squash
tomatoes-big slices or cherry halves
basil leaves
mini meatballs

I like to dust my baking stone with corn meal, to help give my crust a crispy crunch. I put my dough right on my stone and use my rolling pin to roll it out thin and evenly, I used to use my hands to spread the dough, but I like using my rolling pin since it turns out thinner and more evenly. As a side note some people preheat their baking stone, I don't out of convenience and because I like to roll out my crust on it. Once my crust is rolled out I spread my sauce about 2/3 cup or so, it's really to taste, I just eye ball it. Next, I add my grated mozzarella cheese about a cup and half, again this is eyeballed you could use more or less to taste. Then comes what ever toppings I am using. Last, I like to sprinkle the top with some Parmesan cheese.
I bake my pizza in a hot oven (475) for about 12-15 minutes, sometimes a little longer, I judge the doneness by the color of the crust, I like it to be a golden color.

It takes me less than 20 minutes to get a pizza in the oven and we are often eating within a half hour start to finish, you can't get pizza that fast from delivery. While the pizza is baking I am cleaning up the kitchen, preparing a side salad if we are having one, or setting the table.

Pizza is by far my favorite meal to make and eat.

For more Great Frugal Friday Ideas go to Biblical Womanhood