Thursday, January 26, 2023

Homemade Hot chocolate

Oh my word, can I just start off by saving we have gone through so much hot chocolate this winter! One of the reasons is because we've had a lot of snow. Lots & LOTS of SNOW to be exact!! Seriously, I can't even count how much we've gotten at this point except that we've had 8 snow days due to it!  SO, with that we have drank a lot of hot coco! 

I have referenced making homemade hot chocolate in a couple different blog posts over the years, but I wanted to devote one just to hot chocolate. 

First of all, we've used this recipe from Eating on a Dime for years and we really do like it.  A couple things I've learned with this recipe over the years. 

1. Add the salt: 

    In a previous post I had said we didn't add the salt, but recently I was told how salt is a flavor enhancer so I would say add it for sure!  It will help! 

2. Add a little more sugar:

    Let's be honest, homemade hot chocolate is not healthy, it's hot chocolate.  BUT, it's better than store bought because you know what you are putting in it.  If you are switching from store bought to homemade you are going to notice a difference in the sweetness, especially your kiddos.  So I started by adding a little more sugar to the mixture. Then you can slowly pull back on the sugar as taste buds adjust. 

3. Ease into homemade:  

This is my preference instead of adding sugar, but it just takes longer.  Make your batch of homemade hot coco following Eating on a Dime's recipe. Then, buy the big container of store bought hot chocolate. Taking a new jar, put 1/2 of the store bought into the jar & 1/2 of the homemade into the jar.  Shake well. As you use it continue to add a little of each, but slowly taper off on the store bought and use more of the homemade each time.  Again, eventually your tastebuds will adjust. 

So if you are looking for a way to save this winter, try making homemade hot chocolate; you'll save money and be a little healthier too, (but remember it's hot chocolate)! And if you live where I do just sip and enjoy the snow! 

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Ice Cream bucket = free storage


Way back when I first started my blog, I did a post or two on re-using ice cream buckets as storage. You can check them out here: Ice Cream bucket storage or 3 ways to use that Ice Cream bucket but over the years I've added a few new ways to re-use that ice cream bucket and wanted to share. 

1. Freezer storage: 

This is my new favorite! We have a deep freezer and if you have one you know how hard it is to lose something at the bottom. Well, if you use ice cream buckets to store your items in it helps getting those items from the bottom better.  Things I use my buckets for in the freezer: 

  • meat
  • homemade cookies/treats
  • gluten free items 
  • homemade mini pizzas

2. Storage in your shed: 

I recently have been trying to organize our shed better.  Here are some ways I organize with the buckets in my shed: 
  • gardening gloves (mine + my girls) 
  • seed packets 
  • soil pods
  • gardening tools + markers 
  • summer toys for girls 

3. Pots for your plants:

In the last couple of years, I've become a plant lady. Well, I always have enjoyed plants, but in the last few years I've added a lot of plants to my house.  It started with a couple as gifts from my grandpa-in-law's funeral.  My husband and I were gifted two beautiful plants to take home, since then I have added many more! Ice cream buckets make great pots for plants; especially if you don't want to spend a lot. 

4. Outside toy storage: 

We have a big toy box we keep summer toys in.  After awhile the toys were just getting dumped.  So I took some of our ice cream buckets to use: 
  • jump ropes 
  • chalk 
  • bubbles

5. Around the house: 

  • Use for plastic bags: both ziplock or grocery bags  
  • Kids' toys 
  • cat/dog toys 
  • homemade baby wipes 

Thursday, January 12, 2023

January Spending Freeze


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. 

    January calls for a spending freeze in our house. What's a spending freeze you ask?  Well you really can make it work how you want, but the basic idea is it helps you to spend less in the month of January, and even February or as long as you choose to follow it. In our house my goal is Jan-Feb., after that I'm usually ready to stop, but that's just my preference.  However; let me explain to you what all a spending freeze is plus ways you can incorporate it and then you can decide how you want to go about it. Let's get started!

First of all, as I stated above a spending freeze is a way to save.  Basically, it's giving you permission to not spend. Sometimes we need that don't we?  Even though we know we shouldn't spend, it's nice to have a way to say, "sorry I can't".  So that's what a spending freeze in short is. 

Secondly, there are many ways to have a spending freeze. Here are the questions to ask when starting your spending freeze. 

1. What do I WANT to spend my money on this month? 

    For example, we usually say only the basics:  Groceries, gas, house payment, heat, phones, giving etc. 

2. What do I NOT WANT to spend my money on this month? 

    For example, eating out, getting coffee, buying those small items that don't feel they add up, but they do, EVEN IF it's a good sale.  Really, this is where you can make your list big or small.  Do you participate in a get together each month and go for coffee, would you want to keep that or not, you're choice. This is the part where you can make your list big or small depending on what you want to cut out. 

    Some things we include for this; extra snacks, clearance rack, eating out, coffee dates etc. 

3. How long do you want to try this? 

    Like I said we aim for 2 months. You could decide you want to for one month and take it month by month.  Again, that's the easiest part you get to pick. 

    That is the basis of a spending freeze in our household.  Now, this idea is not new, there are many other ways to do this.  You can google spending freeze and have lots of blog posts pop up.  So feel free to take this as a start and research other options.  

Also, let me share with you some other ideas that I've heard of as I was planning out this post: 

1. Don't spend your $5.

    This one is based off the idea that you use cash.  You could switch some of your purchases to cash if you wanted for this purpose.  But the plan is you get your cash in $10 & $20 (think Charlie Brown Christmas) anyways, and then don't spend your $5.  For example, say you go shopping for some clothes and you spend $15, you hand the cashier your $20 and get $5 back.  That $5 goes into an envelope or jar somewhere instead of getting to spend it.  So essentially you "spent" $20 on those clothes at that moment.  At the end of the month you see what you've saved.  Add it to your account or use it for something you are saving for.  

2. Save your change, round up 

    This one is similar to the "don't spend your $5" idea. But instead you just save all your change.  When you go to the coffee shop and spend $5.76, you put the 24 cents into a jar or box.  At the end of the month or year, count to see where you are.  Again deposit into your account or use for something you are saving for. 

3. Shop from your freezer and pantry this month: 

    This is a great time to take stock of what you have.  Jordan Page's Shelftember Challenge is a great way to get started with that.   

4. Use up what you have before you try something new: 

    We've all been there. That new lotion comes out and you want to try it.  But then your old lotion sits on your shelf not being used.  Just like throwing out money.  So, as you are done taking stock of your pantry above, do the same with your toiletries and such.  Don't plan to buy something new until you have used up what you have.  

5. Cross legacy's ways to save on produce: 

    Another great blog to follow is Amy Cross's A Cross Legacy.  She has so many tips on ways to save on groceries throughout the year.  But, she has some great tips on how to use up what you already have too.  PLUS with her process you don't have to go shopping as often which means spending less because we all know we spend more when we go more! 

Plus check out a few different books linked at the bottom that I have found helpful as well. 

But remember, just like all New Year's resolutions, give yourself grace.  This is not as easy as it sounds. especially when you are in the grocery store with your kiddo who just really want that snack that you said you weren't going to get his month. Really, give yourself grace if you spend when you really had planned not to.  It's a process, just a destination.  Every little bit is going to help.  

Thursday, January 5, 2023

One dress = 2 holidays!

Guys! My friend recently shared a genius idea of hers and gave me permission to share!  At Christmas she buys red dresses for her girls and then re-uses them for Valentines! 

She told me she uses black tights and shoes for Christmas, and then switches to white tights and shoes for Valentines! It's that simple! 


So this Valentines, as you are browsing dresses for your little girls, keep in mind the option of reusing it for the following Christmas! Or at Christmas when you are purchasing a dress keep it red, then you can use it again at Valentine's! Not only are you saving money, but you are also re-using and therefore helping our planet too! Instead of multiple dresses, you are just getting one.  One less and helping there be less! 

Hope you have a Great Valentine's!