Things We Do to Save Money

March 15, 2011

In these current times, with just about everything rising in price except our paychecks, I think everyone is trying their best to save money.  Today at MoPs, several ladies talked about how they save money on the things they buy and how they buy it.  And it got me thinking about how I  save money for our family.  Their stories were inspiring and I learned a lot and intend on utilizing some of their suggestions.

Here are some things we’re doing to save money.

1. Lower the temperture in your home or raise it depending on the time of year.  Even a degree or two will save you money on your bill.

2. Use florescent light bulbs.  Yes, they are more expensive short term, but they do save you money in the long run.  If you want to be nice to your wallet, replace them as your current ones burn out.

3. Teach your kids to shut the lights off when they leave their room, bathroom, etc..  We’re still working on this one.

4. Menu Plan.  If you plan ahead you have the time to utilize your crock pot.  So you don’t need to stop for fast food or make an emergency run to get something you need for dinner.

5. Use only 1tsp of detergent in your dishwasher along with jet dry (or the like).  This not only saves you money on detergent, it saves you from having to get a new dishwasher every 5 years.  We’ve been doing this for the past few months and I haven’t noticed a change at all  in how clean our dishes are.

6. Skip the heat drying.  Even if you don’t catch when your dishwasher is “done”.  It will still dry in the machine.  (Trust me, on this one.  I am the ever procrastinator when it comes to dishes.)  Of course, if water spots are the bane of your existance, simply grab a dish/hand towel, dry the dishes and put them away.  Not only do you save money, but your dishes are done faster too!

7. Make your own.  This is probably where I’ll lose a lot of people and that’s okay.  I make my own laundry soap.  It’s really easy, eco friendly, and from products that really aren’t hard to find (Washing Soda, Borax & Felts Neptha Soap).  As soon as I’m out of my current dishwasher soap, I’m planning on making that too (Washing Soda & Borax).  I do make bread on occasion (Most of the time, I use my bread machine to make the dough and let it rise the first time and then pull it out and bake it in the oven.) and regularly make my own chicken broth.  I make chicken broth after we’ve had a whole chicken for supper.  I simply save whats left along with the bones, then throw them, an onion, a couple of carrots and celery sticks into a large pot, fill it with water and let it boil for about a half hour.

8. Replace cleaners & paper towels.  I use vinegar water to clean with (most of the time) as well as baking soda.  Bleach water has been a long time disinfectent as far as countertops & so on go (though make sure to try a small area first before going gun ho, just in case).  Washrags are by far cheaper than paper towels and better for the envirnment, just make sure to get them back to the kitchen or wherever you keep them instead of sitting in a pile or in a laundry basket somewhere like mine tend to do.

9. Have an errand day or do an errand based on where you’re already going to be.  This saves on gas and time, something that we never seem to have enough of. (The time, not the gas)

10. Never pay full price.  Buy it on sale.  If it never goes on sale, switch brands.  Shop at thrift stores, garage sales and clearence racks.  Use coupons for items you already use.  This is something I’m not very good at, but I’m learning.

There are so many more ways to save money.  These are just a few.

How do you save money?

May God bless your socks off!

Rachel

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Chef Tim: Cranberry Carmel Apple Oatmeal Cookies

March 9, 2011

Kind of a mouthful, I know.  And believe me, I had a mouth full!

Tim has really begun to enjoy cooking lately.  And as he understands the concepts behind cooking, he’s a whole lot better at it.

I’m the cook.

Tim is the chef

I follow recipes.

Tim makes up his own.

Tim’s goal today was to make a very yummy, yet low calorie cookie.  He said he combined a couple recipes that he found.  (Something I’m not very good at.  At least, and have it still taste good.)

Cranberry Carmel Apple Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 cups old fashioned oatmeal

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 c margarine

1/4 c applesauce

1/4 c egg substitute (or 1 egg)

1 whole apple, chopped very fine (I suppose we could have shredded it too, come to think of it.  We left the skin on)

3/4 dried cranberries

8 carmels, chopped into tiny pieces (I cut them fourths and then cut each fourth into fours.)

 

Directions:

Mix the flour, oatmal, baking powder, baking soda, and both sugars together.

Add the rest of the ingredients.

Drop by heaping tablespoons on foil or parchment paper lined cookie sheets.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 8 to 12 minutes.  This really varies on the size of the cookies and your oven.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

 

Nutrition:  Calories 91; Total fat 1g; Sat. fat 0.3g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 64.4mg; Carbs 19.6g; Fiber 0.8g; Sugar 12.4g; Protein 1.3g

 

 

What we liked:

Tim: Tim liked the sweet/tangy nature of it and especially a couple we forgot about in the oven and got a little over done, so they were a bit crunchy.  (Not burned, just overdone)

Rachel: I loved that they were moist and almost cake like.  I was rather impressed with this recipe.  They were quite addicting.  But then, I think I say that about anything sweet.

 

What we would have done different:

Tim: I would have upped the eggs to 1/2 cup (2 eggs), skipped the carmels, lowered the margarine to 3T and upped the applesauce to 1/4 plus 1Tbsp.

Rachel: I agree that you really can’t taste the carmel much.  I tried sticking half a carmel in the middle of a cookie, but it really didn’t turn out the greatest.  I think I would have omitted the carmels as well, but left everything else alone.  I think I’ll try drizzling carmel ice cream topping on top instead before baking and see how that turns out.

If anybody tries these with or without the changes, let us know what you think.

May God bless your socks off!

Rachel


Cleaning House or Blessing Your Home?

March 1, 2011

I’ve made reference to flylady before.  (www.flylady.net)  But there are a few things that really stood out to me, that I think anyone can take away without following some sort of “system”.

First of which is that when you clean and upkeep your house, you’re actually blessing your home and all that live there.  You’re doing the same things: cleaning toilets, vacuuming floors, etc, the only thing that’s changed is your attitude.  I can’t stand cleaning my house, but blessing my home… that’s a different story.  It makes it seem more… important maybe.  Not something that I have to do, but something I want to do.  I want to bless my family and if that means making sure they have clean underwear every day, so be it.

The second thing I’ve really taken away is that housework done incorrectly, still blesses the house.  This one was another one that impacted me, but was sometimes hard to apply.  When Tim does dishes and puts something away in the wrong spot, I had to remind myself that at least he did the dishes.  (Especially since it’s something I hate doing!)  When Hannah and Caleb help me clean I do try and show them how to do it, but I praise them for any effort they make.  Yes, the kitchen floor may still have crumbs in a few places but Hannah can sweep it.  And yes, I may have to encourage Caleb, but he can put all his clothes away… even if it’s not how I would put them away.  But they’re only 3 & 5,

Speaking of kids chores, I personally think that kids should have chores or things they can be responsible for.

The only assigned chores we have, so far is to make their bed (pull the covers up), put their toys away, put their folded clothes away (which becomes unfolded in the process), Hannah can put her shirts & dresses on hangers, so she does that, and once a week they are in charge of taking everything they can off their bed (blankets, sheets, etc…).

I’ve tried chore charts and assigning them chores and having them put stickers on it when they finish and so on, but that sort of thing doesn’t work for me because I don’t keep up with them.  (This is also the reason they have an allowance and expected to do chores, rather than do chores to earn allowance.)  There are just a few things that have stuck: the kids can’t have breakfast in the morning until their bed is made (or stripped when applicable) and they’re dressed and they can’t come out of their room until they’ve picked up what they played with during “rest time”.

Now, life happens.  Clothes end up in a pile for a week.  We need to be someplace early and the beds don’t get made.  We have sick days and nothing gets done.

Something that has worked is to have written chores down on cards and have them pick a card randomly.  Then it almost seems like a game.  They’ll run and do their chore and race back to pick another.  I make sure to tell Tim that “Caleb cleaned the toilet and sink in the bathroom today” and he’ll Ooo and Ahh and tell Caleb what a great job he did.  Or I’ll say that “Hannah vacuumed the living room today!” and he’ll say something like, “Wow!  All by yourself?”.  I love to watch the kids beam with pride and excitedly tell him what else they did that day.

Caleb (who’s 3) can:

Make his bed (pull covers up)

Strip his bed (take everything but the fitted sheet off)

Get dressed by himself (including picking out clothes that usually go together)

Put his clothes away

Put his toys away

Clean the outside of the toilet with a wetwipe

Use the toilet brush (for cleaning, not just as a sword)

Wipe the sink down

Set the table with the kid dishes

Sock mop (one of our favorite chores)

Dust with a feather duster

Wash the lower half of the windows

Put the kid dishes and bowls away

Refill the cat dish with food

Hannah (who’s 5) can:

Do everything Caleb can plus

Vacuum smaller rooms

Sweep (with some help)

Fold her own clothes

Hang up her own clothes

Wipe down the table

Carry food (not hot) items to the table

Entertain Ethan for a few minutes or help by giving him his bottle

Pack her own suitcase for a weekend trip (I still double check to make sure she didn’t forget anything)

Wash her own hair (with some help)

Put silverware away (not knives!)

We’re also working on separating laundry and I’ve had her get the clothes out of the dryer before, with Caleb’s help, but I don’t make a practice of it.  Caleb has to still have help staying focused as so many things are so much more interesting.  And some things I haven’t had them do for the simple fact that they aren’t tall enough or strong enough.

No, things aren’t perfect, but they’ve been cleaned and that’s one less thing I had to do.  The kids are excited to do chores and I know, quite frankly, that they won’t always be.  I won’t always get to hear the words, “Mommy, do I get to do More chores?!”  (I’m thinking of recording those words to replay later when I hear grumbling.)

Now, none of these things happened over night.  Mostly it happened just by letting them help.  Neither one is excited to make their bed, but that’s something I started when they were 2 by having them pull the blanket up on one side while I would do the other.  We have a clothes rack where they can reach it and stackable storage bins for dressers.  Their plates and bowls are where they can reach them as is the cereal.  There were several mornings when I was pregnant with Ethan that Hannah went down and got bowls, spoons, and cereal for she and Caleb and poured cereal for them both of them to eat.  Then they would have a picnic on our bedroom floor while I dozed a little longer.  I try to encourage them to be self-seficient and yet be able to ask for help when they need it.  While Caleb’s impatience is frustrating at times, it helps him in this area.  If he doesn’t want to wait for me to help him with something (which happens a lot), he tries to do it himself and lots of times he does figure it out.  I realize this won’t always be a good thing, but some times it is.

Do your kids have chores?  What can they do?

May God bless your socks off as He has mine.

Rachel