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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Chicken Broth--Homemade Style

If you haven't made your own chicken broth you are totally missing out!  Not only is it crazy nutritious but it tastes awesome and you know exactly what goes in it.

First thing you want to do is to grab some celery, onion, carrots, chicken bones, and a bay leaf.  I always save my vegetable scraps and chicken bones and fat and toss them in the freezer for this reason.  

Toss everything in your crockpot and fill it with water.  I usually end up putting about 10 cups of water in there.  Sprinkle a little bit of salt and pepper and let it cook on low for about 8 hours.  The longer you let it cook the richer and better it will be.

After your 8 hours (or however long you've cooked this) is up, strain your broth with a fine strainer.  This is what you'll have left over.  You can just toss this because there's really no use for it anymore.

Take your strained broth and put in the Ball freezer containers ( or however you want to freeze it. I can mine, but you can process them however you'd like!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Wool Dryer Balls

Last night it snowed in Kansas City...this morning it snowed in Kansas City...last Wednesday night it snowed in Kansas City...last Thursday (can you guess?!),yep, it snowed in Kansas City.  I am sick of snow.  I'm from southern Arkansas where we don't get snow...period.  Anyhow!  With cold weather and no power for about 3 hours (I almost lost my mind because I had no clue what to do without power) I decided to make these dryer balls I read about here:

You want to make sure you have 100% wool...I forgot to take a picture of exactly what I bought but it's called Fisherman's wool.  If you have an old, shrunken by mistake, wool sweater you can use that too.  Just make sure you unravel it.  I got the wool at JoAnn Fabric but you could find it at Michael's or where ever you buy your craft stuff.

Apparently, they cut down on drying time and when you pair a couple drops of essential oil (I'll be using lavender) they basically replace your dryer sheets. <----my main reason for making these.

First step is to wrap the yarn around your fingers about 20 times.  Then wrap the yarn around the center about 20 times. (Just estimate.)  Fold yarn again and wrap 20 times until it starts to form a ball then continue this until your balls resemble the ones below.  I apologize for not taking pictures of the first steps.  I'm sure I'll make more though, and I'll link up those pictures when the time comes. 

This large piece of yarn (is that what you would call this?  I'm drawing a blank.) gave me 4 large dryer balls.

Next step is the felting process.  Take one leg of a pair of old pantyhose and place one ball at a time in them starting at the toe.  I spun them really tight and tied some cut pieces of pantyhose between the balls.  I think you're supposed to use embroidery floss or acrylic but I had neither of those on hand so I had to improvise.

Throw the balls in with a load of laundry that requires very hot water (towels, underwear) and dry them on high as well.  This is going to make the fibers stick together and make them smooth and tight.

This is what they will look when they come out of the dryer.  Felted and pretty and ready to be slathered (not really but I wanted to use that only need 1-2 drops) with lavender oil!

Here you can see the fibers felted together.  Enjoy your new addiction.

 Caution: your hands and fingers will be sore so don't curse me too much.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Money Saving Tips #2

I've had a few questions about how I stay within my $200 a month budget and I'm sad to say I don't have an exact plan to this madness.  Here a few pointers,though, that might can help you out.

1.  Use the envelope system.  I don't use this for everything, just groceries.  I'm sure I could maintain my budget a little better for everything else but I want to get one area under control at a time.  I start out by putting $200 in an envelope at the start of the month and only use what's in the envelope.  If it runs out, I'm done for that month.  

2. Use the Coupon Savings Tracker.  This has helped SO much.

3. Stockpile.  This is key!  If you see a sale on whole chickens one week for $.79/lb, BUY 10!  Okay 10 may be a little much for a small family...just use your best judgement and buy a number you think you're going to use until the next sale rolls around.

4.  Use a menu plan. I'm not saying you need to have an extravagant menu plan or have everything completely lined up but if you see chicken, rotel, pasta, etc on sale in the same week for a great price, stock up and see what you can easily make with those ingredients.  Basically you want to base your menu plan on the items you pick up for free or cheap at the grocery store.

5.  Buy in bulk.  I shop at Costco for anything like spices, potatoes, milk, garlic, shredded cheese, butter, etc. These prices are considerably cheaper than buying at the grocery stores.  Ex:  I can get a 15 lb bag of red potatoes at Costco for $4.49 which is a much better price than buying a 5 lb sack at the grocery store on sale for 2/$5.  I think it's worth a trip to a wholesale store (Costco, Sam's Club, BJ's) even if it is just once a month. 

There are some things that aren't good to buy at wholesale stores, though.  Just because it's a "Value" pack doesn't mean it's a good deal.  Take cereal for example.  I'm not sure how much wholesale stores charge for a big box of cereal but I'm sure it's in the $7-$8 range.  My price point for a box of cereal is under $1.50. (And yes, I get it at this point quite frequently, so it's not impossible.)

6.  Shop the Drug Stores.  The only drug store I shop at is CVS but this is where I buy all of my toiletries.  I don't count this as part of my grocery budget but I spend pennies on the dollar for all of my toiletries.  I haven't paid full price for makeup, shampoo, face was, oral care, etc. in over 2 years.  (Others are Rite Aid & Walgreens)

7.  Shop Amazon.  Now this one is new to me as well but this is my favorite place to buy toilet paper.  The HB and I are quite the TP snobs and we'll only use certain kinds.  Amazon has (2) 30 pack Double Rolls of Quilted Northern TP every now and then on sale for $21.74 shipped.  This is a deal that I don't have to leave my couch for and it comes straight to my door.  It comes out to .36/double roll if you take into account that you are buying 60 rolls (or .18/single roll ). This is my stockpile price!

8.  Pay attention to the weekly circulars.  I do use coupons but the majority of my savings come from just paying attention to the weekly ads.  

9.  Buy multiple papers.  Once you get into shopping the deals, you'll notice products you use that go on sale that you'll have coupons for.  In this case, you'll want to have more than one paper with coupons in order to "stock up".  I usually buy 3-4 papers a week.

10.  I get a ton of coupons from this website.  It's super easy to use and they usually have really great value coupons.  

If there's anything I missed or anything you have questions on, please leave a comment and I'll do my best to help you out.

Seeds, Seeds, Seeds!

I am so excited I can hardly stand it!  My seeds that I ordered a couple of weeks ago from Seed Savers Exchange & Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds have arrived! And do know what that means?!  Spring is almost here AKA gardeining season is almost here AKA canning season is almost here!  AAAHHHHH!!!

This will be the first year that I have started my own seeds so I'll be learning as I go.  I'll be starting these seeds indoors within the next week and I'll update y'all on my progress (and hopefully successes)!  Stay tuned for details on when to start seeds indoors and what kind of care they need.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Money Saving Tips

Today I want to talk to y'all about my favorite coupon tracker and the best way to track my spending.  I use this super awesome tool that I found on called the Coupon Savings Tracker (find the file here :  I have two different files that I have saved on my computer: one  for drugstores (CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid) & one for grocery stores (Price Chopper Midwest, Hen House, & HyVee).

I've been using this spreadsheet since January (it was one of my goals to save money on groceries) and I'm happy to say that I've stayed in my $200/month budget!  Woohoo for coupons and sales!!  By using this tracker, I was able to save 9% in groceries in January & 86% in February.  No bullspittin'!

This is an awesome way to track your spending if you're trying to budgetize (is that a word?) your life.

Happy spending y'all!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits

First off I have to say that I did not come up with this recipe.  This wonderful woman at posted it and it's one that is wonderful.  

If you've never had buttermilk biscuits, you are totally missing out!  These biscuits are awesome! 

Note:  I actually halved this recipe because I'm only feeding 2 people.

Buttermilk Biscuits

2 cups all purpose flour
1/8 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 stick frozen margarine or butter
3/4 to 1 1/2 cups cold buttermilk

500 degrees until browned on top (11-12 minutes)

First thing you want to do is sift the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and cream of tartar.

Grate your frozen butter into your flour mixture and then stir.

Add in the buttermilk to you flour mixture and butter and stir until gooey.  Just eyeball the buttermilk because you may need more or less.  It really just depends on what kind of flour you use.  (I just use best choice and I've never had any problems).

From here, lay out your parchment paper (a staple when you are baking) and sprinkle about a handful of flour onto it.

Flour your hands well and knead your dough 5 to 6 times.  No more than that because your dough wil become tough. Press your dough to 3/4" to 1" thick.  I usually take a regular mouth mason jar lid to cut my biscuits but just use whatever you have on hand that makes the size of biscuit you want.

 At this point you want to melt 1.5 tablespoons of butter and spread on top of biscuits

 Bake at 500 degrees until browned on top.  (Not sure how long they were in there....let's say 11 minutes?!)

 And there you have it folks!  The best darn buttermilk biscuits topped with homemade muscadine jelly and a big glass O' milk!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Potty Training Disaster

Today has not been a good day for potty training.  It doesn't help that Mother Nature to drop like 7 inches of snow where we live today (secretly saying thank you since I didn't have to work today).  Apparently Rango doesn't like the snow...and he dislikes using the bathroom in the snow even more.   Since last night, I've had one shoe get the insole chewed out (thanks Boomer) and cleaned up poop once and pee twice.  It's a good thing these guys are so darn cute!  Any advice for our sweet little devil puppy is greatly appreciated.  

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Because of my huge addiction to Pinterest (I'm sure most of you suffer from Pinterest-pandamonia as well) I've turned into Suzy the Homemaker in a slightly crazy way.  After seeing so many people making their own laundry detergent (you said WHAT!) I decided to hop on the bandwagon. Verdict: best (of many) decision EVER!

NOTE: This picture shows essential oils (lavendar & tea tree).  These are not neccessary unless you want the added fragrance.  I use Purex Crystals (not pictured) in place of the oils.

2 Cups Fels Naptha
1 Cup Borax
1 Cup Washing Soda
1 Cup Purex Crystals or Downy Unstoppables

This is just a trial version of the laundry soap.  If you wanted to go all out, just quadruple the recipe (aka make as big of a batch that you want.  1 bar of Fels Naptha equals around 2 cups)

Anyhow-- You want to grate the soap.  If you've got a bad-ace blender you could use that, otherwise just grate it with a cheese grater while watching reruns of Sex & the City.  Mix all the ingredients together and keep in a large bowl in your laundry room.  

Best thing about this laundry soap: (2 things actually) You only need TWO TABLESPOONS per FULL load & it smells FANTASTIC!  

Try out this website to get more information:

First Day on the Job

So this is my first time blogging and I am about to burst with all of the excitement I have contained within me!  I really want this blog to be about my daily life, the fun we (the HB & I) have with moving, the loves of my life (the puppies), canning, home cooking, gardening, and oh so much more!  The fun we are all going to have is just unexplainable!!!

Welcome to my blog and I'll hope you join me on all of my life's daily adventures.