Thursday, June 30, 2011
This is not my normal kind of post - in fact, I don't think I have ever ended a post with out a happy ending - but - so far today, ... any way.. I was thinking a few days ago on how this blog may paint the picture that I have it all together (ha) ... This blog isn't meant to be too personal. Just tips, recipes, ideas, articles, stories.. etc.... The reason behind this blog post is that I am REAL. My children are REAL, and I struggle with typing about the hard times because it just gets me more upset... But I'll try :)
Well! I just typed about 3/4ths of the story and realized my blood pressure was raising and I was getting really frustrated all over again... So - in order to make this happen I'm just going to type out in bullet form.
Screaming, Crying, begging toddler at the dollar store. (broke the can opener and needed a new one, on a bright note, it works great and I don't miss my Kitchen Aid can opener one bit - it works awesome.. totally worth more than a dollar.
Poopy Sam (who was wearing underwear btw)
I almost pee my pants and leave Sammy in the bathroom and say, "don't touch anything"
Run to the bathroom
Claire is screaming and tired
Sammy's bathroom door locked- make him open it.
POOP EVERY WHERE.
Keeping my cool, Sammy kept saying "I try to take care of it mommy"
Plop Sam in the bath, turn on the shower
Claire is screaming and still poopy
I'm screaming inside, but still keeping my cool
I wipe down as much as I can, scrub my hands and grab Claire
"Sam, get all of the poop off and do not touch the soap or get out, I have to change Claire's diaper
Run out, hurry and change Claire's diaper
Run back to the bathroom, tub full of poopy water
Poopy water and his entire bottle of brand new body wash
"I take care of it mommy"
Okay, he's just trying to help.
"Unplug the drain, we need clean water" calmly believe it or not.
Claire is still screaming
Sam- "NOOO!!!" SSSSPPPPLLLLLAAAAASSSSHHH
I am now SOPPING wet with poopy body wash water.
calm down cara calm down cara calm down cara calm down cara calm down cara
Claire still screaming
get Sam in towell and hurry off to Sam's room to get dressed -
Sam won't go to his room.
at this point I am mad.
Sam, get into your room RIGHT NOW
Sam pokes me and throws toys and kicks me
I leave room ... Sam throws toys at door.
windows still open, the whole neighborhood hearing our little throw down
I could go on.
Finally I somehow got him dressed and told him
You take your nap right now, and don't come out of here until AFTER you wake up.
"I love you mommy"
bad mom bad mom
"I love you so much sammy, So much."
Tonight.... I don't even know where to begin.
Sam NOT listening
Still not listening
He gets sent to bed early
........ yeah right.........
I keep going in there and trying to use every trick possible to get him to lay down and go to sleep.
I run into his room, he's next to his
TOPPLED over dresser
I scream in shock "YOU COULD"VE DIED, YOU COULD"VE DIED"
He starts crying
I race to him and squeeze him in a hug
Mike says I'm hugging him too tight.
STILL BEING A STINKER
Glass shattered everywhere. Sentimental objects that were on his dresser broken.
Me- In shock, A total MESS. Emotionally and physically drained. Sick of yard work and dreaming of the yard being done so poor Mike can get a break and so we can both take care of the kids. We are both SO worn out and drained.
There you have it. Cara in REAL life. I know sort of gloomy. BUT, that is REAL, today at least. And with it all, I REALly wouldn't trade it............................but it is still SO SO HARD.
I'll try and post something fun in the next few days to make up for this gloom :) .... on the bright side, I did make enough soup for 5 meals and it only took me about 15 minutes to make ... I'll post the recipe later....
Monday, June 27, 2011
1/2 cup of canola oil (or any other oil of choice ... I like canola oil because it has no taste and is among the heart healthy oils as it has no trans fat)
You can either whisk this until your arm is dead or use some sort of mixer, I love my Kitchen Aid! I wasn't thinking and used the paddle instead of the whisk , but it still worked just fine :) -
It will start to look like this.... just keep mixing! :) .............................. yup, KEEP mixing!
See how smooth it looks? It actually still looked slightly lumpy as I was mixing, but when I stopped the mixer it smoothed out ... these are the mysteries :) ha I mixed the butter and oil for about 5 minutes.
Now! Pour into a Tupperware and refrigerate - NOTE - it will be really runny right after whisking it to death, but after a few hours in the fridge, it's set and perfect! :)
Developing self-reliance—the ability to care for ourselves and our families—is the responsibility of every sister. We become self-reliant as we learn to love work, as we seek inspiration to find the best ways to provide for ourselves, and as we work with family members to meet basic needs.
When we are self-reliant, we use our blessings and resources to prepare for and avoid problems. Self-reliance, however, is enhanced as we pray for the courage to meet with faith the challenges that will surely come. Self-reliance also enables us to keep our covenant to care for others.
In Relief Society, we are taught self-reliance principles and skills. Sisters can learn about budgeting, debt relief, employment qualifications, the scriptures and the gospel, teaching others to read and learn, technology, physical health, fitness, addiction prevention and recovery, social and emotional health, preventing illness, gardening, food production and storage, emergency preparedness, and many other things that will help us become self-reliant. (pst. it's me - read over that list! It doesn't just say "cook, build a food storage... etc....." technology, teaching others to READ and LEARN, addiction prevention and recovery ... SO cool... ehem.. sorry, you can continue :))
Julie B. Beck, Relief Society general president, explains that “providing for ourselves and others is evidence that we are disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. … When [my mother-in-law] passed away suddenly last year, she left evidence of her self-reliant life. She had a current temple recommend and well-used scriptures and gospel study manuals. We lovingly divided up the pots, pans, and dishes with which she had prepared thousands of meals. She left us quilts she had made from old clothing. She believed in the old adage ‘Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.’ We saw the supply of food she had grown, preserved, and stored. Particularly touching were her little account books in which she faithfully recorded her expenditures over many years. Because she lived providently, she left some money she had saved for emergencies, and she left no debts! Most importantly, she had taught and inspired many others with the skills she had acquired during her faithful life.”
Isn't that just a great message? The line "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without" really stuck with me.. it's been interesting trying to implement that this month but it really is fulfilling as inconvenient as it is!
I also love that the lesson isn't geared toward "getting out of debt" or 'to those in need" - It is to us all, it's about being mindful with our resources and "blessings."
My favorite though is the line that says: Self-reliance, however, is enhanced as we pray for the courage to meet with faith the challenges that will surely come. I love that!
Although so many of the things that I am posting about seem so inconvenient and maybe slightly crazy.... it's all a matter of where we would rather be frustrated and inconvenienced. I was talking to a friend and she said something that really stood out to me. I wish I could type verbatim what she said but it was on a different topic .. so, I'll just tell you my interpretation. YES, making everything from scratch and pinching pennies is hard, but life is hard. We can choose to have the difficulty of more dishes, more time and effort in doing things on your own .. or we can choose to have the difficulty of debt. I want to take the first road :). I can handle dirty dishes and only shopping once or twice a month, that's all in MY control.... debt however is is OUT of our control and it has no mercy... my dishes are much more friendly then debt collectors :) ...... Where would you rather have your worries?
Thursday, June 23, 2011
PICTURES... I can't promise it will be toooooo soon, but I will post pictures of the recipes I have posted, I will also post a tutorial on how to make the perfect shaped loaf of bread. .. I just made homemade graham crackers and they taste pretty good! - I'm going to put them to the test tomorrow... the S'more test that is. We've got the tent set up in the living room and everything.. you know, to get the full effect. In fact, I'm about to drag my two year old out of bed so we can have a sleepover in there... you know.. the TOTAL full effect! :)
A year or so back, I had a friend ask me for ideas on fun things to do with kids.... I typed out a massive list of fun ideas and things I used to do with my preschool students and my sister's kids... it's saved on a computer that seems to be crashing right now... so hopefully I can retrieve it and post it. There are a whole lot of fun ideas to fill in those days you will be spending at home!
I have another friend experimenting on home made yogurt~ What? How cool is that? Maybe when she figures it out she can teach us! (eh, eh, Jenny? :) )
A friend of mine who is a pro coupon-er (seriously, she left the grocery store today with a cart full of stuff and the store paid her after ringing it all up.. that's pro) - :) She will be spotlighted with her expertise when she gets the chance :) - She's a busy mama herself, but.. it is something to really look forward to! :0)
My sister-in-law is a total inspiration! I remember a year or so ago going to the Dinosaur Museum with her and she and I talked about her financial plan - After following their plan and the spirit, they are now COMPLETELY debt free- Completely! She agreed to share her story, so she will be spotlighted soon as well! :)
If any of you have any tips, advice, stories, recipes.. etc.. post a comment and then we can figure it out through email :) So exciting!
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Nine Grain Whole Wheat Bread
4 c warm water
1/2 c honey
1/4 c molasses
1/2 c vegetable/canola oil
2 T lemon juice
10-12 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c wheat gluten
1/4 c ground flax seed
1/3 c 9 grain cereal
1/3 c sunflower seeds
1 heaping T salt
In a large bowl or mixer (I love my Bosch) , dissolve the yeast and sugar in 4c warm water. After the yeast has proofed and is bubbly, mix honey, molasses, oil, eggs and lemon juice. Mix well. (tip, I add my oil first and then use the same measuring cup for the honey and molasses.. the sticky stuff slides right out of the measuring cup when it’s already oiled :) Another tip from my excellent mama.) Gradually add 5 c whole wheat flour, mixing well after each addition. Add the flax, 9 grain cereal and sunflower seeds. Stir well. Let stand for 20 minutes. Mix in gluten, salt and the rest of flour until dough pulls away from the bowl. Knead for about 4-5 minutes in mixer or Bosch, or 10-15 minutes by hand until dough is smooth and elastic. Put into a greased bowl and cover. Let rise until doubled, about an hour.
Punch down and shape into four loaves. Place in greased bread pans and let rise until doubled again. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until crust is golden brown! You will be so proud of yourself and you will probably never be able to go back to yucky store bought bread! :) - It's been interesting, all I can taste is the preservatives in store bought bread now.... well, you won't find that here! This is REAL bread! :) :)
I leave one loaf out and freeze the rest so it stays fresh. When you want to pull a loaf out and defrost it, you can either let it sit out to thaw or take the twisty tie thing off, and place the bread in the bag in the microwave for 1 - 1 1/2 minutes ... perfection! :)
You can get ALL of these ingredients at most whole food stores. I get all of my ingredients at Kitchen Kneads off of Redwood Road and between 7800 and 7000th South on the East side of the road here in Utah. I love that place. I get my bread bags and twist ties there as well. I've yet to see them in regular grocery stores.
ENJOY! If you have ANY questions, feel free to ask! :)
Dave Ramsey suggests, in his own way, to live on "rice and beans, beans and rice" until the family finances are under control.....
I have to say. I LOVE beans.. not so much rice.. however... I don't think it's all I could eat, thankfully, I have some other meatless, healthy recipes I will share later on :) -
My mom is amazing. She brought us up on homemade bread, beans, granola, .. just about everything from scratch! I am so grateful to that and don't think I can thank her enough. This is why I get excited about having my kids see me cook these things... She did a great service to me and my sweet new family! Here is her AMAZING .. and amazingly EASY recipe for homemade re fried beans.
4 cups pintos washed and sorted (even if the package says it's been cleaned like 3 times, you still need to go through and separate the sad beans, rocks, and other stuff from the good beans - you don't come across much, but it's worth it!)
1 T oil
1 T salt
Place ingredients in pot and add water until covered. Bring to a boil then turn off and let soak up to overnight. Rinse and drain beans.
Add 1 can diced tomatoes
1 can diced chilies
1 onion, diced
1 T salt
Cover with water and cook in pressure cooker for 45 minutes or in a crockpot for 6 hours. (I don't own a pressure cooker, the trusty crockpot saves the day again!) When finished cooking, strain almost all of the liquid, reserving some just in case your beans seem dry. Puree’ or mash them using a food processor or blender.. or you can just try hand mashing them. Use the reserved liquid to make it the desired consistency. :) You can pressure can these or put them in freezer jars or baggies and freeze them.
Another TIP - You can buy a huge can of re fried beans from Costco for like 3-4 bucks - SO MUCH cheaper then buying the small cans. We bring home the big can, and separate it into our freezer jam jars and keep them in the freezer! I love the homemade, but it's nice to have one of these suckers around when you just don't have the time to make it ... and to be honest, it's pretty comparable in price.Seriously, you have to try my mom's recipe - talk about REAL :) - Remember, this blog isn't just about saving money, it's about enjoying the world by simplifying ... not necessarily making things easy, but going back to basics... life is so much more enjoyable that way.. we get to experience the world in it's REAL form :).
Think about what you buy. Remember that conveniences are just that.. conveniences. In essence, we are paying big companies to make things easier for us, just like we would pay a maid to clean our kitchen. - If you can do it yourself. Do it. :)
Paper products: - plates, cups, utensils, napkins, paper towells, baggies water bottles...think about it.. the list goes on.... But chances are, even though you are buying those on a weekly or monthly basis, you already have a closet full of real towells, real plates, real cups, real utensils..... why to we keep buying them again and again just to throw them away? .. Again, don't get me wrong .. I'm a realist.. some days you just NEED a paper plate dinner, I'm just saying keep them away from the kitchen so if it's not one of those days, you aren't tempted to use them... It's better for the environment and your wallet! :). Keep them on hand for just in cases, but make them last by only using them when you need to :). -- It's worth investing in sandwich size Tupperware and little containers for snacks for the kiddos.. you only buy them once! I know what you must be thinking ...... Oh man.. I don't have time to be doing dishes all of the time - just change your mindset- you have a choice on each dollar that comes your way, you can either spend it, or save it.
Okay, this next one is going to sound a little crazy... and maybe it is.. maybe it's not.. BUT I am willing to do what ever it takes to make the money we already have work. I make bread each week (I'll post the recipe soon). I go through bread bags and twist ties like crazy. Now I just wash them really well when I'm finished, set them out to dry and fold them back up for the next time :) - I also make my own mixes and put them in baggies: waffles, oatmeal, muffins. You can just store them so much easier in the baggies and I need my tupperware for other things.... so, I just save all of the baggies and do the same thing.. wash them out and re use them. - I remember going to a friends house when I was younger and I must've been eating over or something because I went to there silverware drawer and found a bunch of plastic utensils .... if you can wash them, do. Some days are rough and it feels good to throw them away and not worry about it, but if you can do.. then the next time you're having a bbq you can use clean ones and get another use out of them before you throw them away... (I know, I know, weird .. but who cares? I'm not caring anymore what other people think! I just want to keep my job.. a stay at home mom.. and a husband that gets to come home at night.. we will live within our means, WHAT EVER that means. :)
Couponing is excellent and you can save LOADS of money! There are a few.. disclaimers though...one... if you wouldn't normally buy it - DON'T. Don't even cut it out. - The next one is the important one. If you aren't making enough to make ends meet right now... this is not the time to be stock piling. You are in survival mode and should ONLY be buying the things you absolutely need. Couponing has the tendency to make you concentrate on purchasing, not saving. You do save, but even though you got 12 body washes for the price of 4, you could've used the extra 5-10 bucks you spent getting the 12 bottles you wouldn't need for a while on the fruits and vegetables that your family needs NOW. Again, this is if you are in "survival" mode, if you have a little extra, by all means! Build your storage! That is so important too :). I do know how to coupon and for those who aren't in survival mode, I will do a post on "how to coupon" a little later :).
This next one is the one I'm working on right now and I'm amazed at how much it has helped. It's hard.. but hard is OKAY. :)...... Make an entire MONTH of meal plans and stick to it. Go to and do all of your shopping except for produce for the entire month in one day. This saves on time, gas and if you are anything like how I tend to be.... you know, you make the list.. but then end up getting everything on your list and a handful or two of other things you see while you are there... so you save a TON of money as well. Staying home will also open up a TON of time to make things from scratch and spend good time with your kiddos. :) - SO - Make a detailed list of what you need, take inventory and make sure you won't run out of toothpaste, shampoo, toilet paper, diapers, and get it all in one shabang! Then, you can have your husband pick up the produce you will need for the week on his way home. I promise, if you can do this, you will save SO much. Those small impulses that add up will be gone!
Mike is selling his car and he will be taking the bus. His car was paid off and got like 45 mpg, he has to get an express pass which is pretty pricey, but we would STILL be saving money with gas, repairs, oil changes and insurance! Imagine what it could save if you had a payment and were only getting 25 mpg or less! With some of the money from the car, we are going to get a new bike for him to ride to the bus stop. - He'll get his exercise in, he'll get to read his scriptures on the way, or any book for that matter and he will be to work and home at the same time every day!! Doesnt' that sound fabulous? In the winter, he'll most likely take the van to the bus stop (It's about 5 miles away) but if I'm only going grocery shopping once a month, I don't need the car very often, and if I know I will need it, I can take him to the bus stop in the morning, it will be hard to get the kids up, but for the few times a month it will actually happen and the money will be saving, it will be worth it! Hard is good. :) We can do hard things! :) The more we try to take control the better life seems it will get. :)
We are keeping a gas/mileage log. We decided how much money a month I could spend on gas, did the math and figured how many miles a day I can drive. Taking shopping out of the routine (I would go 2-3 times a week.. I KNOW) I can save up my miles and basically go every where I was going before and still be within the budget :) For example. I can drive 20 miles a day and round trip mileage to my parents house is 42 miles. So, if I wanted to, I could go there every other day... this does not make me feel stuck! :) - If I wanted to take the kids to Salt Lake to walk around the temple, I can work it in and make it happen :).... It just feels like I have more control over the situation. :)
Consider wants and needs. I know, I know, it's nothing new, but obviously we all have a problem with it. I'm a pro at justifying just about everything. For example. Last year when we moved into our home, we had money set aside to put in our yard... well, one unexpected expense after like a million... we couldn't... so, again we did the same thing for this year and it again, life happened. - So! We need to put our front yard in so we don't' get fined, the backyard.. as much as I have been dreaming about it will have to wait until next year. Mike did all of the sprinkler system designing and installation, we are spreading the topsoil ourselves and actually seeding it ourselves..... 2500 dollars on the low side for sawd, about 700 dollars for hydro seeding, about 60-100 dollars to seed it yourself. It may take more time to grow in and we'll have to seed bare spots in fall and spring (probably another 20 bucks) BUT, it's okay to be patient. I'd rather have my husband at home at night and be with my kids in the day and to keep our credit cards at their zero balance.
We NEED clothes. Last month I swallowed my pride and went shopping at the DI. I found the CUTEST clothes for Sammy and Claire and they were like 1.00 each. I like things new, fresh and in style, but my kids don't care what I am wearing and they couldn't care less what they are wearing... but we still lucked out and found really nice like new things for both of them. When our kids look back to their early childhood, they aren't going to remember the details of the things they had, especially clothes, but they will remember when we spent time with them and when we let them "paint" the bread dough with butter and when we turned cleaning into a sing/dance party...... if you have the money to buy new and even expensive, great!! I'm just sayin' keep it real! :)
A few months ago I bought clippers (or what ever they are called) so I can cut Sammy's hair myself. I was spending 15 dollars every month and a half and half of the time he looked shabby because his hair got so long so fast.... so.. I tried cutting it myself... all I can say is thank goodness he won't remember that first haircut... it was .. well. a mess. But the 2nd one was FABULOUS and he doesn't get shabby anymore because I can just do it my self. Stick him in a booster, turn on his favorite movie and give him a sucker - wa-la! I paid the clippers off in 2 cuts..... now I just need to get Mike to let me cut his hair! :0) hehehe... He wants me to get a little more practice in~
I stopped spending 100 dollars on my hair and spent 6.99 on a great clips cut. I know that's daring and I have had some bad cuts from there... SO- you have a few bad cuts until you find someone you like.. but then you find someone you like and you are only spending 7 bucks. It's worth it. ---- My sisters in law are so talented! They've set up a "trade" system where one is a great hair stylist and the other is a great digital scrapbooker. Camille keeps on Crista's hair and Crista keeps up on Camille's scrapbooking! Take advantage of your talents! :)
You can make anything you want from scratch. I make my own bread, crackers, bagels, muffins, cakes, baby food, frozen meals, beans, raisin bran, granola, ..the list goes on... I have recipes for laundry detergent (20 dollars for a year supply! can't beat that) dishwasher soap, body wash, etc..... I haven't tried them yet as I am still stocked from my couponing days... but I'll let you know how it goes! ------ Did you know you can use distilled vinegar as a rinsing agent in your dishwasher instead of jet dry? I've tried that one and it totally works!
Take advantage of city events! They are usually free and they are all through out the summer! Fireworks, parades, concerts, movies at the park.. the list goes on.
O blast.. my fifteen minutes has turned into about 25, so I had better go :) - These are just a few ideas to get your minds spinning, I have so many more, but not the time. I'd like to hear what you do as well!
Again - don't be discouraged - Think of this as liberation. Closer to self reliance.. not relying on the stores, or credit card companies... You CAN do this. It just takes a shift in thinking and then it is exciting :)