Friday, March 28, 2008

Homemade Vanilla

Today is Frugal Friday! I would love to put the button from Biblical Womanhood on
but,I have NO clue of how! I have accomplished uploading pictures. Yipee! So today I thought I would share one of my very favorite things(although I'm not so sure of the economy of it). Homemade Vanilla.Yum... I'm a baker,so this was right up my ally about 10 years ago when I saw it at the State Fair!Actually my bottle is from that far back! So here we go...

You will need 1 or 2 long neck bottles.

2 vaniila beans for each bottle.

With a sharp knife slice beans open to expose the seeds and place in bottle.

Pour in either Vodka or Bourbon Whiskey to cover beans.(We prefer the Bourbon.)

Let stand for about a month in cool, dark place. Then it's ready to use.

After you use about 1/3 to 1/2 a bottle you'll need to refill with the alcohol of choice. Let it stand for a couple of weeks. That's why I've gone to using 2 bottles so I always have it on hand. I don't use in recipes that are not cooked because of the alcohol flavor. I keep some on hand from the store, but they tend to be full of gross stuff! Even the "pure extract".

We also use Bourbon Whiskey, Fresh Lemon Juice ,and Raw Honey in equal parts for sore throats and deep coughs! Our peditrician reccomended this with our 1st daughter over 13 years ago and my Grandma makes it in a quart jar. We keep it in the refrigerator for about a year. And boy, does it work!

Down at the bottom I have some pics of our garden if you care to take a look!
Have a great weekend!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Fun and Inexpensive!

Well today is Frugal Friday! Something that we do that is inexpensive and fun is to load all the girls in the van (more fun since they can now do the loading!) and head to Sonic for BOGO on drinks! It's everyday from 2pm till 4pm. The girls get slushes and we get enormous ice teas! I really like their ice! (I know that sounds weird) Then we head to our destination: park, beach, garden.
We usually just drink water, no soda etc. And we kicked the slurpee habit about 10 years ago, so this is a nice treat! Also we only do this once a month or so. When we were on vacation in TN it got to be almost a daily side trip! Yikes! Gotta L.O.V.E. that ICE!
Our youngest calls it PHONICS.Dad when do we get to go to PHONICS?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Grocery Shopping

So I seem to have time to jabber today. Usually every 2 weeks I do grocery shopping because that's how our paydays fall.
Here's how I do it (on my good weeks!):

1. Take note pad and head down to deep freeze to take inventory. This past school year I started cooking all my dinners every 2 weeks. It's really worked out well for me. I usually have meals leftover and have some to share. It's been nice to take little gifts of banana bread or cinnamon rolls to friends who invite us over for lunch or a play date! Then with dinners that didn't get used I add them into my next plan to add more variety.

2. Make a list with 14 meals on it from previous meal plans and I try to add something new every 2 weeks.

3. Create my shopping list. I keep a pretty notepad by the phone were I usually have somethings started on a list. applesauce, lemon flavor, etc.

4. We are pretty much all whole foods at our house so coupons are not a huge part of my plan.My bi-weekly money is split into 3 or more areas: co-op, stores, off week sales and incidentals. I also have to keep in mind any presents, toiletries, etc. Anything leftover goes to savings or debt payoff. I do cvs but on a much smaller scale. Thank You CVS!

5. I'm an in season shopper meaning cheapest prices and not fancy! No pomegranates, pineapple, star fruit etc. Just the basics. Strawberries (now) , apples, bananas, cherries. Things that can be dehydrated, made into something else, etc. We do occasionally splurge!

6. So I try an hit everything I need on Thursday afternoon. The best time for me and 1 of my daughters. We have our list and we pray. We don't always get everything on the list, but it usually is filled in by something better. I do get what I need for my meals, but sometimes this changes and works out for the better.

7. Thursday evening is prep time and I usually get 3 of my 4 Sui' (?) chefs in the kitchen to chop and dice.

8. Friday morning I put it all together plus lead my youngers in school work.

9. Then at noon we head for raw milk! I'm excited because we are getting raw skim this week $4 a gallon that's cheaper than our grocery stores regular price! Hooray!

10. Friday night I do beans or whatever to get ready for slow cooking soup or blk. beans on Saturday.

11. Mondays and Wednesday I bake. Or make mixes so the girls can bake. I've lost over 50 lbs. and am struggling a bit with the sweets, so I would rather they do the baking! Daddy needs his W.W. chocolate chip cookies!

12. I've been trying to squeeze a dinner date for the 2 of us out of it. Sometimes we really need it. Our girls are really good about us "Dating" at home. (Usually we say everyone downstairs by 8pm. That's early if your a teen. But there are plenty of good books to read!) Sometimes we make a special meal together.

13. We also have been really utilizing our 4-H garden. We have 4 10 x 10 plots. Right now we have fresh spinach for salads and such, onions, radish, and lots of herbs! We just finished sugar snap peas and have a ton more growing. They usually don't make it home!

So that's were our bi-weekly grocery / household moo la goes. We have tons of deals on processed foods in our area, but we are not willing to go back to eating that way on a regular basis. We feel it keeps us out of the doctors office!

I'm gonna bake cinnamon scones, lemon poppy breakfast bread. I've 3 banana bd. and 4 pumpkin bd. in the freezer already!

I'm really trying to change from an "all or nothing mentality" so it doesn't always happen this way.Over the holidays I did very little cooking because our freezer was still overflowing! Praise the Lord for the break and the supply!

Have a wonderful night!

Feb. Financial Re-cap!

I've wanted to write this for so long... Thanks to everyone who have bold enough to write about their own financial sucess' and failures! Thank you Crystal at MSM!

First let me say thank you to everyone who has kept our family in prayer. Things are getting better in Younde(?), Cameroon, Africa. They did have a hairy weekend.My cousin sent word to my Auntie that there hadn't been any more riots, but that the military is out in full force with m-16's. We haven't heard about the orphanage. The embassy still requests that ex- pats stay in their homes. Gas went over $5 this past week. The city survives on the taxi!

Financially it was an overwhelming month........I've had a hard time trusting that the Lord would provide. I will say that we did not tithe regularly in the past year in a 1/2. We've always tithed. Even before we were married and on our own. The major reason was that we had $400 in doctors payments monthly for that time and we had come out of a situation were we saw the church using the money for VERY inappropriate things, when we could barely get by. I also was a bit disillusioned. Somehow over the years I had gotten it in to my head that if we didn't tithe the Lord would hate me or not love me. Crazy, I know.(My husband did not have this problem)
So what we found: We still ended up with a small debt (somehow we create annually). The Lord still LOVES me and didn't shun us.He still listened to me and didn't leave me! But that it has now a rekindled a desire in both my husband's and my heart to give what is the Lord's and as much more a we possibly can! Our family thinks we're crazy.....but when has that been any different! Actually the Lord showed us so much this past year and I think not giving a set 10% helped us to see what He is trying to show us!I'm not recommending that everyone do this. This what happened to us due to OUR created circumstances.
So for Feb.we: *Tithed fully.
*Made our last major doctor payment.
*Started using cash for everything (actually Jan) instead of checks or debit.
*Taking our budget down to zero at the beginning of every budget.
*Having a budget meeting.(we hadn't done this in years and I felt I was all alone and in charge...I hated that feeling!)
*Put our house up For Sale (we've become house poor due to hurricane ins. and taxes rising drastically- about $530 a month!)So the plan is to sell. Fully fund our emergency fund and by another house outright or have a small 15yr. mort.
*Used our entire emergency fund on a infection and re-root canal.Still
need another $660. But the Lord is working it out!
*Cut out our 2 dates nights a month ($50)
*Figuring out how to refund our $1000 E.F.
****Crazy as it is we have had about $1000 E.F. for most of our marriage, but when a situation would arise we would put it on a the credit card instead of using the fund. The cash somehow made us feel secure while incurring debt???HUH??? So when my husband arrived at the dental office with cash in hand to pay for my pain it was like a huge ceremony. I'm pretty sure the office manager thought we were crazy! We counted out over a $1000 twice. I think she thought we were both on Vicadine! We took LarryBurket when we were first married, but for some reason we never learned how to save for "normal emergencies" so when they arose we put them on THE CARD. Then we would pay it off with our income tax. This year is totally different!

So the Lord has been faithful as ever. Praise Him for his mercies and blessings!