Tuesday, June 28, 2011

True Couponing

I've used coupons here and there ever since we've had children. As I mentioned before we do most of our shopping through co-ops and warehouse stores, but there are some things I just can't get there or I have to buy to much of said item. That's were coupons come into play. With coupons, sale prices and BOGOs sometimes its a better deal at my neighborhood grocery store.

Last week I had the privilege of attending a free True Couponing seminar. It was wonderful timing with our buying club taking a break for the whole summer! Basically I learned that I need to be getting more papers so that I have more coupons to work with. I don't have the time or inclination to go dumpster hunting for extra coupons, so having extra papers delivered to my door step at 50 cents a piece is a much better option for me.

I also learned a super easy way to store these piles of paper. I had all the needed supplies to make my storage unit an immediate success! That's one of the things that has kept me from doing more serious couponing. After a couples of weeks of little pieces of paper flying around I get disgusted and throw them all away.

The ladies at the seminar explained everything in detail. Store, manufacture, and online coupons, stacking and sharing. We have no doubling in our area. They only "hard part" would be making sure you know what your stores accepts.

I was so excited to get my papers this weekend and guess what was on the front cover? A $5 off of $30 at Publix and I had 4 of them ( I only used 2 this week)! Yep that has gotten my couponing off to a great start. My goal is to pay 25% on all my grocery store needs, restock our pantry and help others. No extreme hoarding. I have no desire to be on any extreme style show :o)

So here's my totals: purchase price $179.20

coupons -$ 38.35
sale prices-$ 70.42

total out of pocket: $70.43
percent out of pocket: 44%

Pretty good start with not much of a supply (coupons). The store peelie did it for me. The cashiers at our store have been wonderful! They even say, "do you have another coupon for this or that. Or you can also use this coupon with that or stack this with that." They are very knowledgeable and want to help with getting the best deals.

Are you couponing? Why or why not?
Julie

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Changes

Does anyone remember my lovely craft room that Superman created for my birthday a couple of years ago? Click here, if you need a reminder.

Well today my lovely room that has been continually abused and misused is changing. It's becoming the School Room. Superman still isn't sure about all of this...the house is torn apart and quite frankly I'm a bit nervous myself.

I'll post the finish projects (there are 3 intertwind) next week or so. My goal is to have the two and 1/2 basics done by Saturday!

See you Soon.
Julie

Friday, June 17, 2011

Nifty Thrifty

I've deciced to link up with the Shabby Nest for this post. Read here and fly over and enjoy all the frugality there! I started thinking about this post months ago and have just not gotten around to it. Back in winter sometime our 2nd microwave went on the fritz (we've had 2 in 7 years-different models). Maybe it was due to poor quality or maybe it was because of all the rice bag wraps we were heating up before bed. I tend to think it was the first though.

Our first thought when this happened was google it up and check the best deal on a microwaves. We did and found one for about $160 new from one of the box store. We would have to take the money out of our emergency fund and we were okay with that. I mean not having a microwave is an emergency in the biggest way! Right?

Uh, no. I'll admit for about 5 minutes or so it was (ya know when we were googling). But then I decided to try and live without a micro. for a week and see how we did. The week turned into two and I started thinking of ways to use that area are above the stove. A cookbook shelf?

After a couple of weeks I soon realized that I liked the: light over the stove, the exhaust fans and the timer. So a shelf wouldn't cut it. I also was missing the conveinvence of defrost. Defrost means I don't have to plan meals in advance. I'm not big into planning that area of my life right now.

I also didn't like to heat up the big ovens to reheat 2 slices of pizza! But that thought didn't out weigh the feeling I always had when the micro. was on and radiating into my head while I was cooking at the stove. This in actuality may or may not be true, but it's how I felt.

Then Superman came to the rescue! He remembered the Little Chef had been using his 20 year on the job gift/ easy bake oven aka toaster oven. It was sitting in the small pantry while not in use. He checked it out and it fit :)




So for now we have the benefits of both. All my lights, fans, timers and pretty crispy quick reheatablity. The only thing lacking is defrost. It's been almost 6 months and I've learned to do without. I would still like it though and I'm looking into convection ovens for the spot. But we are good for now :)



Pretty thrifty/frugal i'd say!



Do you have any nifty frugal ideas to share?



Julie

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Coconut Flour - My Lazy Experiment

I was reading over at Heavenly Homemakers yesterday about using coconut flour in place of whole wheat. Hmmm. I am wheat grinder from way back and the thought of trying new lower carb flour substitutes wasn't very appealing to me until about a year ago. (I mean why fix what isn't broken right?) Then some close friends of ours had some of there children diagnosed with wheat gluten intolerance and now I've been thinking of ways to make healthy treats for them. I'm a baker at heart.


Anyway, Laura at HH was discussing how much she loves Coconut Flour. (She's a wheat grinder also) So I was wandering if I could take my unsweetened coconut shreds and grind them into flour? I googled it and found some amazingly looonnng process. Not for me!


So I went for it (because I really didn't want to go and clean the school room out). Here's what I did:

-I place about 1 cup of shreds into my blender and blended and blended.

*I had thought about my wheat grinder because it would truly get a flour texture with that, but it cannot handle high moisture items. (That's all Superman needed!)


I did this twice and came up with about 1 1/2 cups of rough grind flour. Remember this is just an experiment and coconut flour is really expensive.


I only needed 1/2 cup of flour for my 12 muffin recipe. So I measured it out and popped the rest into the freezer.


I then added:

6 eggs

1/2 honey (i would use 1/3 cup next time)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

4 tablespoons coconut oil


I mixed the wet ingredients really well. Then add dry.

The mixture was very runny. I figured because my "flour" wasn't very fine.
I then baked them for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

The picture above is what they looked like just coming out of the oven. When they started to cool they sunk in a bit. They tasted like a honey/coconut french toast! A little moist, but tasty nonetheless.


Would I make them again? In a pinch yes, but I think I'll go ahead and order some coconut flour!

Maybe...

***** Update**** My girlies REALLY liked these so I will be making them again;)


What have you made with coconut?

Julie




Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Reclaiming the Garden part 2

Ugh! Can I just say it gain? Uuuugghhhh. This what our garden looked like last fall. If you look at the top of the picture you can see the girlies swing set. The "ladies" coop used to be there. We moved it to the back of our garden now that we have more room. (We bought a section that didn't come with our original lot.)


To be fair the area above is so barren because that is where the swimming pool sits. It's back up now but the "ladies" did almost the same thing to the rest of the garden over the winter and spring.


Any ideas on what we should do with this site in the fall? I had planned a fire ring, but I really don't think it will be used much. Still thinking this idea through.

We purchased this fence almost 2 years ago when one of the do-it-yourself stores had them on sale. The ladies love going onto our neighbors property but they also liked to wander up the next street.

We had a long term plan for this fence. We knew eventually our neighbors-to-be were going to want to put up a wood fence and we would share in the cost. So the plan all along was to move this fence up and section off our produce garden and farm from the suburban backyard zone.


Here's the some of the ladies in there farm zone. If you look through the fence you can see how bad the ground looks.


The ladies really like this little run between the garden and a shady, wooded area on the other side. Here's where they enjoy their daily dirt baths and I'm okay with that. In the next couple of weeks when the garden stops producing we will open the gate and they can rummage in the garden. They love cabbages and collards. We grow collards just for them and wow are they still producing!


The garden and farm zone is about 25 x 85 feet. It also houses our new composting center. It's not finished yet. I'll post more when it is.


How do you keep your chickens out of your people areas?

Julie

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Today over at Smockity Frocks she's asked the question of what mistakes we've learned from in our gardens this year. After you're finished here jump over there and read all the link ups! ( I wish I knew how to put her cute garden picture up.)


The biggest lesson I've learned is that our tomatoes need acid! See look at how gorgeous and green these plants are but there are no blossoms or fruit. I think the problem is this from all the research I've done and the soil testing. I mean we did add about 2500 lbs of composted horse manure last fall. We've large tomato plants and out of the 10 plants we have gotten 2 tomatoes. Ugh! Very frustrating..... We plan on adding lime in the next month or so before fall planting in September. Which is like spring planting for those of you who live up north. Are seasons are fall/winter and winter/spring.

The other thing I noticed today were the blue jays landing in the tomato bushes. I need to find out if they may be eating the blossoms? I thought I saw some but then they were gone.


Anyone have any ideas? I would appreciate some help.


Julie

Reclaiming the Garden project 1

I really enjoy how the English use the English language. My favorite right now is the use of the word garden. It sounds so much prettier than backyard, although I do like a good back yard
b-b-q!

If any of you have chickens and live in the city or suburbs you know that they pretty much take up all of your garden space. They love to hunt frogs and lizards, scratch for bugs, worms and dig holes. Oh no one told you of the holes they dig? That's so they can lounge in a refreshing dirt bath. Yah. Know one prepared me for that part. Consider yourself warned if thinking cute fuzzy chicks.

In all seriousness we love our girls (the hens and the girlies that live in the house). I just have gotten soooo tired of walking out onto the back deck or anywhere else in the garden and stepping in slimmy poo.

So this will be the first installment of taking the garden back.

Superman (remember the guy and his shirt from yesterday?) built and put this screened room up for me two Mother's Day ago. He did it so I could enjoy the "ladies" in the garden and the girlies in the pool without being eaten alive by mosquitoes. No "ladies" are allowed in the screened room. Believe me they try!


Here is our effort at making a shabby candlier. Pretty shabby. I thought there would be a patina on the copper by now. The jam jars look beautiful all lite up at not and the candlier looks 100% better at dusk :)



Here is our old plastic Adirondack chairs that are on their last legs, but still functional. The past six or so years I've been giving them a new coat of paint each spring.


This year Superman requested a place to really relax. We searched high and low for a black daybed frame we had been holding onto for this project. We finally realized we sold it in a garage sale last fall thinking we would never get to it. So we made do with a bed frame and bed risers all painted black. We splurged on a semi water proof bunky mattress and I used table cloths for the cover and pillows throughout the room.


We popped a round circle of plywood on the fire pit (which we don't use in the room). A big raspberry candle for weight.


This a candle lamp we made our second trip as a family to the mountains. UG was itty bitty and our only girlie back then. She collected all the river rocks...


So here's a first look at we are doing to live in happiness with our wonderful chickens. It may take quite awhile for our garden to come back to life. I'm sure hoping it's sooner than later.


How does your garden grow?


Julie

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

So many comments

First off I rarely say much about this handsome man. He is an extrovert living in an introvert's body. If that makes any sense. He is the one who keeps me sane, picks me up when I'm down and breaks things into bite size pieces when I all I can see is the huge snowball ready to plough me over! Ah, snow... sounds nice about now. Anyway this man is the perfect for me. (He can be pretty romantic too.) But this post is not about him. It's about one of his favorite shirts.

Please Read
Here's a close up in case you missed it. Our two oldest girlies bought this for him on our Tennessee trip two years ago.

He brings it out when he feels like making a statement. Sometimes at youth group meetings, the beach, trips to Costco and most recently to the Florida Homeschool Convention. Anywhere there may be many young men around and our daughters are about. ( Yep, he loves them a lot :)

Here's a close up


Well everywhere he went at the convention he got stares, people asking him to stop so they could read, wonderful comments and even teen girls running down corridors to find out where they could get one of those shirts for their Dad :0) This a very smiley post.



The interesting thing is this doesn't just happen at a homeschool convention (although I will say it happened a lot more there). Men and women come up to him or nod their approval from afar when we are out around town. From those who have stopped us we usually hear about how many girls they have and how they did growing their girlies.




Sometimes I think more ill than I should of our society. But this shirt reminds me there are people everywhere who care about their children. So listen up Girlies out there. Dad's love and want to protect you, girls.




Their is also a Father above all who loves you more than you earthly father ever can. Take heart and trust in his love and care.


This is my favorite part. Although it would never happen... the young men around him know that he means business and that he will guard his daughter's hearts as long as they will allow him to.




I wish I could tell you how to find this particular shirt. I would actually be selling it if I could find it. I think we could have funded everyone's education with this and put away for future weddings. I have found similar ones on amazon if your interested.




What do you think?


Julie

Friday, June 3, 2011

Craft Day

It's time to get crafting! I find that my younger girlies really like to craft almost anything. My older girlies do it with more purpose. They need to be motivated. Hopefully they'll have clutter free homes.

We decided that every Friday would be Craft Day here at our home. Opening the house to friends and practicing a bit of hospitality. This is a very laid back event. Other than the fancy punch bowl and dessert.

What we've made so far: rosettes, rings, headbands and pin cushions. Here's a few pictures of our pin cushions.

Very simple project: Scraps of fabric, elastic, pillow stuffing, needle and thread.


Cut 2 rounds of fabric. One the size of a bowl and the other the size of a drinking glass.



Stitch around each circle on the outer 1/4 inch edge. Make sure you're smiling it makes it more fun! Stuff larger circle with pillow fluff and pull ends of thread together tying it off. At this point I sewed more stitches to make sure it would stay. It doesn't have to be pretty, it won't be seen.


Measure off a piece of elastic that fits nicely on your wrist. Stitch down to the bottom of the ball.


Place other circle that you have pulled together over the elastic and stitched area. Stitch this down to hide your elastic and sewing. You can use hot glue for this portion.


Wala! A wristlet pin cushion. You can even add some oil to the cushion before you close it up for a nice scent. We used Island Delight and Melon.


Many of the girls are making sewing kits with their Mom's. What a nice thing to add.


What are you crafting?


Happy Friday,

julie

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Freezer Baking

Whew! What a day. I've haven't been doing much baking lately. I've just needed a break. I've made the occasional batch of cookies and granola bars but nothing like today. Yup, my family has been eating bread from the bakery store. I've been able to get the $4.50 loaves of good bread for a dollar per loaf. So I took a much needed break. But alas the prices are going up and my Husband has really needed some home baking.


His favorite, whole wheat chocolate chip cookies. He really likes the with dark chocolate. I used to make up 14 dozen raw cookie dough balls and freeze them, but I found that we(I) like to eat frozen raw cookie dough.hmmm


A small batch of whole wheat banana chocolate chip muffins. I want to get some millet ones done and coconut.




Bread rising in the background and breakfast biscuits.


Here's a list of everything I accomplished:

7 dozen chocolate chip cookies

1 1/2 dozen banana chip muffins

6 loaves of whole wheat bread ( about a 50 cents per loaf)
2 dozen gigantic breakfast biscuits with homemade turkey sausage

16 1# whole wheat hot pockets (Italian and cheeseburger)


I'm done for today, but I would like to get in a couple dozen granola bars and oatmeal cookies before craft day.


What are you cooking up? Any favorite recipes?


Julie

Curriculum 2011-2012

Here's my curriculum plan for this up coming school. My goal is to get everyone organized and planned in the next 2 weeks so that I can have 6 weeks to play and have fun. We will be starting back to school on August 1st. Yippee!

12th garde:
Alpha Omega Consumer Math- 1 credit
Notgrass Economics - .5 credit
Notgrass American Gov't - .5 credit
Movies as Literature - 1 credit
Body by Design, The Reproductive System & Children's Apologia Anatomy
-she is surveying this course and teaching it to her younger sisters. she doesn't need the credit.
Rosetta Stone French year 2 - 1 credit

8th grade:
Tapestry of Grace year 3 (literature, Bible and history)
Alpha Omega Consumer Science - 1 credit
Artistic Pursuits - 1 credit
Rod and Staff English
Rod and Staff Reading
Apologia Physical Science - 1 credit
Teaching Textbooks Pre Algebra
Rosetta Stone French or Sign Language (class) - 1 credit

5th grade:
Tapestry of Grace year 3
Rod and Staff English
Rod and Staff Reading
Rod and Staff Spelling and All About Spelling (filling in gaps)
Apologia Human Anatomy
Saxon 65
Cursive
Daily Paragraphs for fun
Abeka Health - read alone

Supplement with Sates Cd's, Lyrical Science, Netflix movies, Mind Benders for critical thinking, crafting- skirt construction
**Balance Ball for school time

2nd grade:
Tapestry of Grace year 3
Rod and Staff English
Rod and Staff Reading
Rod and Staff Spelling and All About Spelling
Apologia Human Anatomy
Saxon 3
Cursive
Daily paragraphs for fun

I will be using many of the same extras for the younger girlies. Starting the 5th grader on note taking from movies and journaling again this year with their science.

Summer plans:
Sing the Capitals and States
Lyrical Science
Daily paragraph (not sure about)
Ocean and Sea Creature movies with minor note taking
Finish memorising Times Tables. Prizes! (I'll post when they reach their goals)
Free reading 1 to 2 books per week. Prizes!
Friday Craft Afternoon with girlfriends.
VBS
Swimming and Park

So I really need to get moving and I am procrastinating! I'm excited though, but just one more day by the pool reading...

What's your Summer and School plans for fall?

julie