Thursday, September 22, 2022

Cereal Crumbs for Muffins

 Let's talk how to save on flour. Did you know you could save on flour by replacing it with cereal crumbs?  I've mentioned the Tightwad Gazette before on my blog.  In her book, she talks about making muffins with crumbs of any sort to help cut down on flour.  

*Check out her book linked at the bottom of this post for her muffin recipe.* 

Well, we eat cereal in our household and there's always the crumbs that no one wants in the bowl, but instead of throwing them out you can save them to use as flour! 





This post includes affiliate links, which means if you click on the link I get a portion of any sales at NO COST to you.  See my disclosure page for more details. 


After reading this idea in the Tightwad Gazette, I started attempting it. While I found it worked, I was needing to store the crumbs until I needed them.  So, I have a pint sized jar in my freezer.  Anytime we finish a box of cereal, or crackers I take the crumbs and pour them into the pint sized jar. As the jar gets filled I know I can start making muffins soon.  Before I make the muffins, I take out the crumbs from the jar and blend them up until they are smooth. This helps the flavors blend together better.  Sometimes, if my jar is full of chunks of crackers and cereal, I'll blend it up to see if I can get more in. 



You can use this to make all kinds of muffins.  

We like to add cocoa and make chocolate ones sometimes too!





Also, check out these awesome reusable canning lids! I use them anytime I use a mason jar, but don't need to water bath or pressure can it.  They are super easy to use and are freezer safe! 


Friday, September 16, 2022

Inflation!

 AGH! Every time you go to the store, prices are just depressing.  Anyone else feel they are doing well with saving money and then you do your weekly/monthly grocery shopping and you feel deflated? I feel each time I go I need to find another short-cut on how to cut costs.  Prices are just constantly going up.

Well, I thought I'd put together. a list of ways that I have saved at the grocery store.  Things I've been doing for years to things I've recently learned about.  Here is your one stop post to a lot of ways I've saved over the years. 

But, first let's start with a new one.  Recently, I was re-evaluating how our food gets used.  Am I using up our leftovers as well as I can?  Which led me to how can I make sure to not have so many leftovers?  I realized when I first learned to cook, I measured everything! But, now I just wing it, I go by what I think is enough.  Well, I've decided that going back to  measuring some things isn't the worst idea.

Take frozen veggies for instance. I started buying them in the bigger bag because it's cheaper, but we don't eat a whole bag each time.  I've gotten it down to about 1/4 bag per meal; however lately that's been too much for some veggies.  On Saturday's we usually grill out.  My girls and I prefer baked beans, while my husband prefers corn.  Why am I cooking 1/4 of the big bag of corn for just him I ask? Well, before it wasn't a problem, but now even if we end up not eating some of it as leftovers I don't like to waste it.  So yep, I've started measuring it out; 1/2 cup/person eating it approximately, a little more for my husband, but that's about enough for the kiddos.  If I'm making corn just for him, I only measure out 1 cup.  We've had less leftovers and less waste since. 



Click on each type of food you'd like to learn more about how I save on them. You will be directed to another post on my how-to. 

Baby Food

Bread Crumbs

Brown Sugar

Chicken Broth 

Cheese Sticks 

Cotton Swabs

Flour 

Laundry Detergent

Microwave Popcorn

Milk

Muffin tin liners

Oatmeal

Onion

Spaghetti Sauce 

Shredded Cheese

Snack Mix

Taco Seasoning

Frozen Waffles

Wax Paper


3 General ways to save at the grocery store

Make Monthly list

Expired?


I hope that you found something to help you save a little at the grocery store this week.  But, remember take it step by step, pick 1 or 2 to try this time around and then 1 or 2 the next time around.  Once you have a way to save down, it's easier to add another and so forth.  





Monday, September 12, 2022

Mudroom Remodel


So, I shared a sneak peak to our mudroom lockers on a previous post. I mentioned that I would share the mudroom locker remodel as well. 

Originally I wanted to wait until it was complete (I still want a rug), but I'm having trouble finding the right sized rug so I will share what I have for now. 

Of course I was so excited to get this project going that I forgot to take a before picture. But, if you can imagine all the stuff below (left photo) squeezed in the skinny mudroom (right photo) I'm sure you can figure out how cramped and un-orderly it was. 

      

The first thing was to change the color. I like a neutral palette, so I wanted to go with grey.  I knew I wanted the lockers to be white, so a clean grey background it was. 



My husband had the hard work of making the locker cabinets. However, he had a great tutorial.  I did not create these lockers myself, but found them on Pinterest. I was looking for lockers that would fit our mudroom and would be enough for the 5 of us.  One day I found them.  The gal who posted about them gives a great step by step guide.  If you are looking for a great set of mudroom lockers with easy to follow directions check out Jaime Costiglio's  DIY locker post.   Let me just say, both my husband and I are not professional DIYers, but with the help of Jaime's post we have some sweet mudroom lockers that work awesome! 


               

Matt had to make a couple changes to the original measurements. Our mudroom was just a little skinny to make the bench as wide as what Jaime has.  But, ours is in an actual mudroom so I wasn't worried about our girls needing to sit on the bench. So Matt just made the bench a little shorter.  




After they were in, it was time to paint them.  That was my job. 


Then we added the hardware. 



We even had a little extra space on the side, I have used this to store our umbrellas on the floor and hung some of our extra bags. 



Our girls were pretty excited to have their own space.  My favorite, there's a space for everything! Coats, jackets, backpacks & snow pants are fit in the main part. Below all their shoes fit for all seasons. (We only have a few pairs for each season) 


Up top there are two cubbies, one we use for gloves, hats and other accessories. The other I use for their school supplies, lunch boxes and any school notes. 


       

The last touch, other than a future rug, was the curtain.  I wanted to hide all the storage in the back, so I put up a basic extension curtain rod.  Then found a cute curtain at Target, as a Christmas present of course. 



















Monday, September 5, 2022

Grandparents Day gifts!



Grandparents Day is; September 11th this year.  Do you have ideas planned for those special grandparents in your kiddos lives? We were blessed to have one set of grandparents move close to us just after COVID hit.  It has been such a blessing! It's hard to remember what we did before they moved here.  First of all Sunday dinners have gotten a whole lot better! 

So, I love that there is a day we can show them how much care even more.  The best part about Grandparent gifts, is I don't know a grandparent who doesn't love a homemade gift from their grandchild.  It doesn't need to be perfect, but that it was made just for them. 

Here are some of our favorite grandparent gifts: 

1. Homemade cards: 

My girls enjoy making cards. We do a lot of crafts in our household and making cards is just another craft. These are easy to do and each kiddo can make them to their ability.  

2. Perler bead creations:

Another thing that's easy to make are the perler bead creations.  Pick a form, let your kiddo fill it in however and then add a magnet to the back. Voila! You have a cute refrigerator magnet. Or, thread a string through it to make an ornament. Also, they make great coasters, make a few and tie a ribbon around them for a coaster set! 

3. Flowers in a vase or pot ( could be store bought or wild):

Take a moment go for a walk and collect some wildflowers.  Put them in a vase and there you go a simple, but pretty gift. You can also purchase a bouquet, put them in a mason jar & tie a ribbon around it! 

4. Candy: I mean I don't think I need to explain this one. 

5. Coupons:

We like homemade coupons in this house.  If you saw my Father's Day gift idea post you know we use them a lot.  What we like about them is you can gear them to a particular person. Here are some ideas we like: 

free ice cream 

1-2 hrs date with said person (this would be good for an older kiddo, gift of their time with their grandparent)

golf date 

coffee date 

Well I hope these ideas help you.  Pair any two together and you are all set! Enjoy! 

 





Thursday, August 25, 2022

Fun School Calendar

 I am all about organization and things looking cute. While I wouldn't call myself fashionable by any means, I do like my organization to be cute and somewhat stylish.  

Last fall my husband built me the most amazing mudroom locker system.  Yes, I'm bragging, I was so excited to have it in and am so proud of him for making it. I'll share the process in an upcoming post. But here's a sneak peak at them for now: 


So, since my mudroom is now cute, I wanted to have my girls' school calendars presented in a stylish way as well.  One thing that was nice about this locker system is that they each have a cubby for school items.  With this I didn't need to have all their different schedules posted on the wall.  BUT, last year I realized we needed those important daily items in sight.  Things like Library day, PE day for shoes and now PE clothes. This year I printed out a daily reminder of the week for those important items marked with who they are for and framed the list. That simple! 



Adding a frame to almost anything makes it more stylish and cute in my opinion.  Plus, the frame can be decorated to your style.  You could easily do this for each kiddo's schedule if you wanted to.  What I like about this idea is you can gear it to what works for you.  I prefer to have a quick check list we can look at as we are getting ready to leave.  But, maybe you are one who needs the whole schedule.  You could easily use a frame for each child's schedule!
Some other variations: 
1. Add a dry erase marker and your kiddo could check off what they have ready to go.  It just wipes clean off the glass for each new day. 
2. Use pictures for the younger kiddos who are still learning to read. 

Check out this post by A Beautiful Mess for an easy how-to frame for swapping pictures. That way you could swap schedules or important notes from the school if needed. This is on my list to make one for those important papers. 

Here are some other schedules I have made and framed this week. While I can't say I will be diligently following these schedules, they help give me a baseline for each week/month. 


Laundry Schedule 



Cleaning Schedule 


Are you one to make schedules? What are some things you like to have a schedule for? 








 

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Homemade Brown Sugar


Dark: molasses, Light: sorghum


This post includes affiliate links, which means if you click on the link I get a portion of any sales at NO COST to you.  See my disclosure page for more details. 

Making homemade brown sugar helps in many ways.  One, it's just helpful to know.  There have been many times I've gone to get brown sugar and realized I didn't have any.  Being able to make my own in the spur of the moment has been so helpful. 

Two, you can gear it toward your family's taste buds. If you look up homemade brown sugar you're going to find the same ratio on almost any blog. 1 TBSP molasses to 1 cup of sugar. Pretty basic. But, you may find that doesn't match the store bought as well. At least, my family did. We use brown sugar when we eat oatmeal.  I put a little in and mix it and then I sprinkle a little on top just for fun.  Well, one of my girls noticed that the homemade brown sugar did not taste the same. However; I just learned how to make brown sugar homemade and I don't want to have to buy it anymore, plus if I make it homemade it's one less plastic bag item I'm purchasing. So I did some experimenting.

I use 1 1/4 cup of sugar to 1 TBSP of molasses.  Molasses does have a strong flavor and that extra 1/4 cup just helped take the edge off.  Plus, you make a little more which means your molasses bottle stretches a little further.

Now, while I was experimenting, I found out that some people use sorghum in place of molasses. While, sorghum is similar; here's what I found on google: molasses is made from sugar cane, sorghum is made from the sorghum plant.  They crush the sorghum stalks, then heat them, steam off the excess water and the sorghum syrup is what's left. Because of this, sorghum is sweeter than molasses. So I did some experimenting with sorghum instead of molasses to make brown sugar. 

Prior to inflation, sorghum was actually cheaper than molasses, making it a better use for homemade brown sugar. However; recently it's prices have increased quite a bit, I 'll break down both options later and you can decide which works for your family best.  Also, if prices ever go back to normal you have this guideline to help you determine which is cheaper.  

With sorghum being sweeter I did only used 1 cup of sugar to 1 TBSP of sorghum.  I found that the brown sugar I made from sorghum was lighter than the molasses brown sugar.  It would depend on if you prefer dark or light brown sugar, but if you prefer dark then you'd need to double the sorghum, keeping the sugar the same.

My how-to: 

1. Add the sugar (I always started with 1 cup before I strayed from the normal ratio)


2. Add the molasses or sorghum (1 TBSP or 2 if using sorghum and want it darker)


3. Mix on level 2 until the consistency is to your preference. I did have to stop it and scrap the bowl a bit and stir a little longer. 



4. Store in a mason glass jar. If you use 1 1/4 cup of sugar you can fit it in a pint size jar. If you double it you will need to use a quart sized jar.  



Now let's break down the prices shall we.  Using the recipe above for the molasses; 1 1/4 cup sugar to 1 TBSP molasses, and keeping everything measured by cups and TBSPs here's what I gathered: 

***Prices will vary depending on where you go and where you are located.***

Molasses:

1 bag of brown sugar costs between $1.70 - $2.29/32oz

    Using the $2.29 cost, this equals about .70cents per recipe or 1 1/4 cup of brown sugar. 

Molasses: $3.48 - $4.49/12oz = This will yield about 24 Tbsps or 24 recipes of brown sugar.  That's .19cents per 1 1/4 cup recipe. 

Sugar: $2.83/4lb = This will yield about 9 cups of sugar or 7 recipes of brown sugar. That's .31cents per cup of sugar + .08cents per 1/4 cup. 

    Using the $4.49 cost of molasses + the $2.83 cost for sugar, this equals about .58cents per recipe or 1 1/4 cup homemade brown sugar.  

As you can see you are saving around .12cents per recipe using molasses. 

Sorghum:

Remember for sorghum I only used 1 cup of sugar to 1/2 TBSPs of sorghum 

Sorghum: $16.99/16oz = This will yield 32 TBSP or 32 recipes of light brown sugar/16 recipes of darker brown sugar. 

Light brown Sugar: One recipe cost would be .84cents 

    Using your .31cents per 1 cup sugar + .53cents per TBSP of sorghum 

Dark brown Sugar: One recipe cost would be $1.37 

    Using your .31cents per 1 cup sugar + $1.06 per TBSP of sorghum 

As you can see right now, you would be paying around .14-.36cents more per recipe using sorghum vs. buying brown sugar. 

So depending on taste will determine if you'd rather use molasses or sorghum.  Luckily, my kiddos prefer the molasses to the sorghum as it's cheaper to make currently.  While sorghum has a sweeter flavor, personally I also feel the molasses tastes the most like the brown sugar in the store.  However, I will be watching those prices of sorghum to see if they go back down below molasses and we will just make another switch if they do! 

Remember it's the small savings that add up.  Plus, you are saving the planet by not buying another item in plastic. Molasses and sorghum both come in a glass jar and sugar in a paper bag.  No more need to buy the plastic wrapped brown sugar.  Save money and the planet!! 

I hope this helps you! 




Monday, July 25, 2022

Preschool Name



Preschool post! It's been awhile since I've posted about preschool, but I wanted to share our recent preschool activity.  This past year, I worked with my youngest on spelling her name.  We printed each letter from her name on it's own piece of paper. An easy way practice how to spell her name.  Don't have access to a printer, write each letter on a piece of paper with a sharpie or pen.



 

Then we mix up the papers and I would say the letters in her name and she would point to that letter.  After a bit, then she would put her name in order herself.  This is also something you could do to help with letter recognition.  As your child starts to recognize the letters in their own name, you could start spelling other names or words to help with learning their letters.  

Another way you cold use this is matching uppercase to lower case letters.  With this, I would just write each letter out instead of print each letter to save on ink.  You could even make them front and back to save on paper as well. Such as letters A-M on one side and N-Z on the other. 

To keep the papers from getting ripped or torn, you could put them in the sheet protectors. 

Depending on how far you want to take this activity, you have many options, but for a simple way help your kiddo learn their name it doesn't take much. 







Saturday, June 4, 2022

Easy, Affordable Father's Day gift ideas




Father's Day is just around the corner.  In our house we strive for homemade or adorable gifts. We have a busy May; 4 birthdays, an anniversary and of course Mother's Day.  So come June we try to make Father's Day fun, but simple as well. I wanted to share some of our favorite Father's Day gift ideas. 


Coupons: 


These are our favorite! My girls enjoy coming up with different things to gift their dad in a coupon.  I enjoy their creativity and it's so personal. Here are some we've made:

1. Free hour of alone time (or 3! )  

2. 1 free ice cream cone 

3. Free bottle of pop 

4. One free day of golf 

5. Help with yard work 



Treat/Gift with a fun pun:




1. Popcorn ~ You're the best Pop around (could also work for their favorite soda) 

2. Favorite Candy ~ We think you're the sweetest! 

3. Donut ~ Donut you know you're the best? 

4. Golf balls ~ You're the best dad, by par! 

5.Book ~ You're always up for an adventure 




Homemade: 

The less perfect, the more special




1. Popsicle photo frame with photo of kids and dad inside 

  • Need: four popsicle sticks, picture to use 
  • Glue four possible sticks together 
  • Attach picture to the back using tape
2. Handprints on paper framed 

  • Paint hand or trace their hand on card-stock and cut out. 
  • Frame 
3. Handprint card: Why buy a card when you can make one?
  • Cut cardstock to desired size (I cut mine in half)
  • Fold 1/2 sheet in half 
  • Paint or trace child's hand 
  • Add Happy Father's Day 
  • Let the kids be creative on the inside and there you go! 


Hope that this gives you some ideas to help make your Father's Day more fun! 

Saturday, May 14, 2022

3 ways to save on water

Let's talk water use. As summer is approaching we use water more and more.  Watering our gardens, filling up the pool and more! The last few years our area has had more drought than rain and so in the last few years, I've tried to conserve our water use more and more.  Here are three ways you can save water this summer. 

1. Use your dehumidifier 

    In the summer, while it seems there's less water outside, our dehumidifier is always running.  Originally, I watered our garden with our dehumidifier, but then I read that you shouldn't water anything you will eat with dehumidifier water.  So, now I use it to water our non-edible plants or our grass when needed. 


2. Re-use pool water 

    Of course we get out the kiddie pools in the summer.  Whenever we are done, I have the girls take the the watering cans and empty the water around the lawn.  It helps spread the water to the dryer grass + they think it's fun! So instead of just dumping the pool water in one area, we use it and water as much of the lawn as possible.

A couple years ago, look how dry that grass was!

3. Rain barrel 

    We recently purchased a rain barrel.  You can see what we got here  I'm so excited! I've been wanting one for years and finally got the hubby to come around, (he actually is the one who suggested we purchase this one recently).  We hooked it up to our back shed, which is close to where our garden will be. I can't wait to use the saved up rain water to water our garden! 






Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Busy Folders


Busy Folders

Do you have coloring books galore?  With three girls we accumulate a lot of coloring books and of course we never finish them or use them all up.  I struggled with getting coloring books and then not using them up. I felt I was wasting resources and money even if I didn't buy them.  Especially, when I was printing pages for my girls to color instead.  So, I started to find ways to use up those coloring books and make it something my girls enjoyed doing.  Recently, I posted on mg IG account about my busy folders. These folders are one of the ways that we use up our coloring pages. 

At the end of the school year, I collect any folders that are salvageable.  Really, they don't have to be in pristine condition, but able to still work (I even tape some first).  I make sure I have one for each kiddo.  These are their busy folders. Sometimes I save two per kiddo if I can just in case one falls apart.

Then I collect all my coloring books that I have on hand.  In each folder I put 8-10 pages choosing different coloring pages (not all come from the same book).  

Really that's it.  We use these folders for traveling and during church on Sundays.  I just make sure each week, usually Sunday night, to recycle any pages that are filled and make sure they have enough pages in their folders for the following Sunday.  



Another way we use up our coloring pages is by coloring them.  I know, I know that sounds obvious, but instead of just coloring in the book I tear the pages out.  We have a craft area, and in the craft area I have three hanging folders of coloring pages.  I tear out the pages of the coloring books and divide them into three sections; Bible, Holiday and anything else.  Then when the girls want a coloring page I will print one, but then they can pick from the folders. Having them in the folders really helps too when I'm re-filling our busy folders.  

Finally, we use the coloring pages as fun mail.  This is something that the girls' Nana started when we were living far apart.  She bought coloring books about something they liked and then would send them weekly mail with a coloring page or two each.  This could be something that your kiddos send to cousins or friends on their birthdays.  Or they could color a coloring page to mail to a friend or family member. 


Ways we use coloring book pages: 

1. Sunday folders

2. travel folders 

3. fun mail 

4. Color them 


I've found that while coloring books are fun, after they've filled their excitement, kiddos still enjoy them just in a different way. Tearing them out and having options to choose from helps, along with having different coloring ages in the folders for church or travel.  

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Chicken Broth



Making homemade chicken broth is so easy. Plus, it's a great way to save money and make sure you know what you are using in your recipes.  If you search for recipes or how-to ways on Pinterest you are going to find a bunch of blog posts.  Don't worry I've done the work of picking a few out for you!  I wanted to share with you how easy it is and these blogs help break it down for you!

The Cross Legacy Ok first of all, have you heard of Amy Cross? She has great ways to help make your produce last longer...like up to 3 weeks or more! What a great way to help save money, not throwing out produce, right?! Plus, buying it when it's on sale and being able to stock up for a few weeks! Anyways, back to Chicken broth.  She has some great ideas of saving your turkey carcass, plus ways to save on your veggies for the broth too! 

NoshTastic What I like about this blog is, the author gives you three different ways you can make your chicken broth; crockpot, stockpot or instapot.  Plus step by step for each one!! So whatever your style of cooking is you can choose from there! And some recipes to make with your new homemade chicken broth as well. 

So next time you have some chicken carcasses left over, or if you're like me your freezer is full of celery and onion peels.  Get out that stock-pot, or crockpot or even instapot and make yourself some homemade chicken broth! 



Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Make your own cheese sticks




Last week I posted a few ways to save at the grocery store during these months of inflation.  This post I'm going to share how easy it is to divide up a block of cheese for your own cheese sticks. 

I bought a 32 oz block of cheese.  It cost $7.80.  I wanted to see if I could get cheese sticks for less than it costs to buy a box of cheese sticks.  We usually buy the pack of 36 cheese sticks for $8.98. 



1. Laying the block of cheese standing up, I just cut approximately the thickness I wanted each stick to be. 



2. Then, cut each section into three cheese sticks. 



3. Store in bags.  I put about 15 in each silicone bag.  One bag I put in the fridge and one in the freezer. Colby jar cheese seems to crumble easier after it is frozen, so having cut it into the cheese stick shapes before freezing they will be able to thaw without having to be cut.  



I ended up getting 36 cheese sticks.  The same amount that we buy in the individual packs.  BUT, I paid about $1 less.  Seeing that we go trough them in about a month, that's a savings of $12 a year. $12 I can be putting to other grocery items. 

I hope that this pst helps you! Remember it's the little things that add up and small steps here and there when making changes.  Good luck! 





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