Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Praising God at the Dentist

I have a confession to make: I put off going to the dentist for 5 years. I know! Its horrifying! What can I say? I'm young and unwise, but boy have I been paying for it! I finally went in for a check up a few months ago and surprise surprise I had 6 cavities!! Oh. My. Goodness. I had to schedule two appointments to get them filled and I was kicking myself for putting it off for so long. Anyways, as I was sitting in the dental chair last week grumbling that I had to go through this for the second time in one month it hit me. I should be praising God that I have access to such care. I should be so very grateful that I live in a place where keeping your teeth healthy is even possible! I started thinking about all the people in the world who have little to no access to dental care and I began to feel so very grateful for all of the shots and drilling going on in my mouth. So today I'm praising God for my healthy teeth and the fact that I'm cavity free! And praying for those who aren't blessed with the same. What are you praising God for today?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Homemade Peanut Butter

I was inspired by this post at The Prairie Homestead and decided to attempt my own homemade peanut butter! Here's my adapted recipe:

Homemade Peanut Butter 
 1 1/2 C peanuts (I used honey roasted)
approx. 1/2 tsp olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp honey (or to taste)
 Blend peanuts. Slowly stream in oil and honey. 

Linked at Raising Homemakers

Spring Planting Schedule

Zone 6 - Last Frost Dates: March 30-April 30

Start Indoors:
Tomatoes - March 12th
Onions - March 12th
Peppers - March 12th
Tomatoes (2nd planting) - March 26th

Early Planting:
Carrots - April 9th
Peas - April 9th
Spinach - April 9th

Late Planting:
Corn - April 23rd
Cucumber - April 23rd
Corn (2nd planting) - April 30th
Zinnias - April 30th
Carnations - April 30th
Marigolds - April 30th

Harden Off Started Seeds: 
April 23rd

Transfer Started Seeds:
April 30th

I'm hoping this will work out right. I really don't know what I'm doing and I'm kinda just guessing when I should be planting. Does anyone see any major mistakes? I'd love the input!

Linked at the Homestead Barn Hop

Monday, February 21, 2011

Prairie Gold Flour

I came across this absolutely wonderful whole wheat flour in an Amish foods store last year. I bought it because they had it labeled as an, "excellent bread flour." Let me tell you it has completely changed my perception of baking with whole wheat. It bakes almost as light and fluffy as white flour! I can substitute it for white flour in most baking recipes and it turns out awesome! So I highly recommend checking out Wheat Montana's Prairie Gold 100% Whole Wheat Flour! Hop on over to their website and check it out! You can buy bulk wheat to grind yourself or you can buy the already ground flour in several sizes. Happy Baking Ya'll! :)

*I'm not being compensated for this review. I just love the flour and want to pass on the goodness! :)

Product Description:
"Literally thousands of bakers have told us that they wouldn’t use anything else. This flour, ground from our Prairie Gold® wheat, will delight you, your family and your customers in every way. It’s so versatile it can be substituted for white flour in some recipes, giving your baked goods unique flavor, plus all of the benefits of whole wheat. 100% whole-wheat flour. Chemical Free. GMO Free."

This post is linked to Raising Homemakers
and the Homestead Barn Hop
Come on over and join the fun!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Dollar Tree Deals

I don't claim to be a coupon queen (although I'm thinking of trying my hand at it), but I do appreciate a good deal. That's why I buy some of our household products at Dollar Tree. Now you have to watch dollar stores because sometimes you can actually get things cheaper elsewhere, but you can get good deals on certain products. I've found toiletries, cleaning products, and medicine to be the best bargains. The above picture is what I buy on a regular basis for just a dollar a piece without having to clip coupons or watch ads. Here's a list of what's pictured:

6 oz toothpaste
64 oz laundry detergent (I plan on making my own once I run out)
25 oz dish washing liquid
26 oz dish washing detergent
40 count ibuprofen 
10 count each day and night cold medicines
1 oz hydrocortisone creme
36 count allergy medicine

 I stock up on these when I go so I only have to buy them every few months or so. Does anyone else shop at the dollar store? What've you found to be a good deal?

This post is linked at Raising Homemakers and at Unwasted Homemaking

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Start of a Home Planner

The home planner is a tool that helps you keep your lists, schedules, and important information organized. I'm not completely done with mine, but I've got a good start. Here's a peek inside:
The first page is my daily schedule:
Then I have my weekly cleaning schedule:
Next comes the monthly budget and menu plan:
Last is the master grocery list. This is a complete list of common items we purchase on a regular basis. I think it's going to be really helpful when menu planning and making grocery lists. 
I have plans of adding a monthly calendar, mailing addresses, birthday lists, recipes and anything else I feel will help me in the running of our home. Do you have a home planner? What sections are in yours? I'd love to know!

Linked at Raising Homemakers

Sunday, February 13, 2011

2 Week Menu Plan

I've enjoyed having a menu plan over the last couple of weeks. I haven't stuck to it 100% because sometimes stuff happens (like your dog decides to eat the chicken that's thawing on the counter).  Anyways, here are some of the benefits I've found with menu planning:

1. Keeps food from spoiling because you have an efficient plan. 
2. Saves money because theoretically you buy only what you plan on cooking.
3. Encourages healthier eating because you have accountability. 

Sunday: Grilled Ham and Cheese, Veggie Chips
Monday: *Valentines Day
Tuesday: Swiss Chicken, Couscous, Mixed Veggies, Biscuits
Wednesday: Grilled Chicken, Corn, Sweet Potato Casserole, Biscuits
Thursday: Ham and Macaroni
Friday: Homemade Pizza
Saturday: Free Day

Sunday: Chili Frito Pie
Monday: Hamburger Hash Brown Casserole, Peas, Biscuits
Tuesday: Ham, Potato, and Veggie Skillet, Biscuits
Wednesday: Biscuits and Gravy, Bacon
Thursday: Blueberry Pancakes
Friday: Homemade Pizza
Saturday: Free Day

Friday, February 11, 2011

Pumpkin Birthday Cake

I made this cake for my mom's birthday and it was a hit! It turned out really moist and tasted a lot like carrot cake. I dusted it with powdered sugar instead of using icing which was good because it was sweet enough on it's own. Here's the recipe:

Pumpkin Cake

2 C sugar
1 1/4 C vegetable oil (I used 1 C oil and 1/4 C applesauce)
1 tsp vanilla
2 C canned pumpkin
4 eggs
2 C all purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350.
Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine sugar and oil.
Blend in vanilla and pumpkin, then add eggs one at a time.
Gradually beat in flour mixture.
Pour into greased pan and bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

I'd like to play around with the recipe and see if I could make a healthier version. Enjoy!

Linked at Raising Homemakers

Low Cost Wedding Tips

I wanted to share some money saving tips that we found to be helpful when planning our wedding. I've read that the average cost of a wedding is somewhere between $20,000-$30,000. That's so ridiculous and I don't believe for a minute that it's accurate. At least I hope it's not accurate because that's just plain wasteful. The total cost of our wedding was around $2500. We got everything we wanted and we could have done it cheaper if we had too. The bottom line is the amount you spend on your wedding is up to you and with a little hard work and creativity you can plan a nice affiar no matter what the budget.

1. Set a budget and stick to it! Write your financial plan out on paper and keep track of what you're spending, otherwise your costs could easily spiral out of control. If you have a written plan and a realistic amount of money in mind that your committed too your way ahead of the game!

2. Keep a level head and focus on what's important. It's easy to get caught up in planning the perfect wedding, but what about the actual marriage? What about the man your committing your life to? Focus on your future husband and forget about the ice sculptures and the $5,000 dress that you just have to have! (People don't actually want those things do they?) It's OK to fore go the expensive caterer in favor of cupcakes and homemade snacks because no one really cares anyways. Besides it's your wedding and you can do whatever you want.

3. Don't hire people to do something you can do yourself!  The only thing we hired people for was to style the bridal party's hair and to make the cupcakes. (And boy were they worth every penny!!)  Everything else was done by us and our family and friends. Our loved ones operated the sound system, video recorded, took pictures, made and served food, arranged flowers, and decorated the venue. We also printed our own invitations. By doing most of the grunt work ourselves we saved lots of money. Most people are more than willing to lend a hand and a lot of people volunteered without us having to ask. Take advantage of willing family and friends and remember to repay them down the line when they need a favor!

4. Consider a weekday wedding. Although it may sound strange, we got married on a Friday afternoon. Since we were getting married at a non peak time my mom was able to negotiate our venue for half the price! Normally it rents for $1200 a day, but she got it for $600. Our wedding and reception were at the same location so we didn't have to pay a church and a reception facility. This was by far the biggest expense for the whole wedding, but it was worth it to us because it was exactly what we wanted and so beautiful! If you have a church that you're a member of and could use for free, take advantage of that! Most churches have reception areas as well.

5. Skip the florist and buy in bulk. It's awesome that carnations are my favorite flower because they're basically the cheapest! We about fell over when we priced them at our local florists because they were 1.50-2.50 per flower! We ordered our flowers from Sam's Club in bulk and arranged them ourselves. I believe we got 300 flowers for around $120. That's .40 per flower. Keep in mind that choosing something like roses or lilies is going to cost you more, but ordering in bulk can definitely save you some money.

6. Consider a casual and simple wedding. We had an afternoon wedding in a barn for goodness sake so it was easy to pull off the casual atmosphere. We got married at three thirty so no one expected to be served a meal. We served fruit, cheese, little smokies, hershey kisses, cupcakes, and sweet tea! The groom and groomsmen wore pearl snaps and cowboy boots and the bridesmaids wore $25 dresses from target! (Please don't ever pay for those $200 bridesmaid dresses at bridal shops no matter how cute they may be! You can always find a suitable and cheaper option!) The more casual the atmosphere the less pressure to spend lots of money!

We planned the wedding that we wanted at a price that we could afford and you can to! Refuse to believe that you have to spend tens of thousands to have a nice wedding. Have fun and do it your way!

Linked at Raising Homemakers and The Little Green Project @ Heavenly Homemakers

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Daisy in the Snow

Normally I'd think dedicating an entire post to my dog would be annoying, but considering we've been snowed in together for two weeks, I'm beginning to think it's perfectly normal! Ha Besides the snow is as tall as she is and I think it's funny! Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Two Feet and Counting!

So the weather man forecasted 2-4 inches. Boy were they wrong!! When Mike left for work this morning at 5:30 AM we already had 6+ inches and when I woke up at 8:30 we were at 20+ inches! It snowed over two feet in 5 hours!! This is the most snow I can ever remember! They said on the news that our area usually averages 6 inches of snow per season. That means we got four years worth of snow fall in 5 hours this morning! I was so shocked when I looked out the window. It reminds me of how I imagine it was for Laura Ingalls! I let my dog out and she wouldn't leave the porch because the snow is taller than she is! Crazy. Pictures will never do it justice, but here goes:
 Can you guess what this lump is? Yup it's my car.
 Here is our backyard fence, which I think you can tell is over halfway covered and it's STILL coming down!! They say most of the accumulation is over, but they said that last week and it snowed another 5 inches. We shall see.
Is anyone else getting this much snow?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Homemade Coleslaw

I made homemade coleslaw for dinner tonight. This recipe is suppose to be similar to KFC's. I've already sampled it and it tastes pretty good! :) I cut the recipe in half and adjusted it to what I had on hand. It made about 2.5 cups prepared so normally it would make 5 cups.

8 Cups Raw Coleslaw Mix (Carrot and Cabbage, Shredded)
1/3 C sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 C milk
1/2 C miracle whip
1 1/2 tbsp white vinegar

Set Coleslaw mix aside.
Mix everything else in mixing bowl.
Add coleslaw and stir until coated.
Cover and refrigerate for a few hours.

Note: The original recipe also called for 2 tbsp minced onion, 1/4 C buttermilk and 2 1/2 tbsp lemon juice, but I didn't have them. It seems to have turned out fine without them.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Menu Plan

Monday: Swiss Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Peas, Biscuits
Tuesday: Lemon Pepper Chicken, Coleslaw, Corn, Biscuits
Wednesday: Ham and Veggie Hash Browns with Pumpkin Muffins
Thursday: Cheesy Beans and Rice, Biscuits
Friday: Mom's Birthday Dinner
Saturday: Free Day

Baking List:
Fruit Bars
Pumpkin Muffins
Yogurt Biscuits
Banana Bread
Mom's Birthday Dessert (?)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Easy Fleece Tube Scarf Tutorial

I made this scarf in less than an hour. The doubled fleece makes it really warm which is good because we are experiencing below zero temperatures this week! Also fleece is usually on sale this time of year because stores are making room for spring fabrics so buy it up! I thought I'd do a tutorial in case anyone else wanted to make one too.

 1. Start by cutting a 13" X 60" piece of fleece. (This makes a 6"X 60" scarf. You can adjust the measurements to make the size that you prefer.)
 2. Then fold your fleece in half right sides together. (This means that the wrong sides will be facing out.) Fleece stays put pretty well, but you can pin it if you want to.
 3. Now decide how long you want your fringe to be and cut strips on both ends.
 4. Your scarf should look like this.
 5. Now, starting just below the fringe sew down the open side of your scarf with a 1/4" seam.
 6. Turn your scarf right side out like this and try to smooth it out as best as you can. (Do not iron fleece as it could melt.)
 7. Now topstitch along the edges of your scarf and just above the fringe. This keeps your scarf from rolling and makes a more finished looking piece.
 8. Take a top and bottom piece of fringe and tie a double knot. Do this until all fringe is knotted.
Your done! Now wasn't that easy? OK I'm off to make some matching ear warmers! Happy Sewing Y'all! :)
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