Monday, March 31, 2008

Cookin' From Scratch - Cheddar Biscuits

I want to start you with a simple recipe for some great Cheddar biscuits....and I mean great! The boys just went crazy for them and I'm sure your family will too.

These are also great to make huge batches ahead of time and freeze them so they are quick and easy. There's not much extra time mixing a large batch than making a single so you might as well do that then put them in the freezer for a quick AND healthy alternative to the store bought stuff.

Mix together dry ingredients and cut in butter. Use a pastry cutter or two knives in a crisscross motion or you can mix with your hand until well blended and crumbly. Add cheese and mix well. Stir in milk and mix to form dough. Turn out on floured surface and knead together a few times until dough sticks together well. Pat or roll dough out to about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thickness and cut into equal size pieces. You can use a biscuit cutter but if you just cut like it is you'll have no waste and not have to rework the dough. Place on greased cookie sheet and bake at 450 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until golden.

You can also make several "batches" of this recipe at a time. Follow the directions and place them on a cookie sheet and "flash freeze" them in the freezer. When fully frozen, take out the trays and place them in a zipper freezer bag. When you're ready to use them, take them out and use same baking directions as need to thaw them.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Cowboys and Indians...Guns? Shooting? Not my son! HA!

When our oldest boys were young, we never let them have toy guns. It was a toy that we never wanted them to have. Why would we want them to go around pretending to shoot each other?

Well...I think there is something built into boys that they simply MUST have a gun of some kind. I figured this out when our oldest discovered his finger gun! We're thinking..."where did he get this idea from?" Later he found other "guns" to use, even building them from Legos. We soon gave up on that idea and decided to teach them gun safety and know, the kind that keeps you from shooting your brother "because he's driving me nuts" kind of self-control. So, now several years later they all have the traditional BB gun and they're learning to target shoot in the back yard, always being careful of what's behind the target as well as where all the other people and animals are playing. It's working well for our family and it might for yours too. Of course, the younger boys don't have BB guns but they do enjoy their "pop" guns and rubber band guns. :)

I wonder if their need for a gun could have been the result of the many John Wayne movies, they've seen...I'm a bit addicted to them.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

A Few Last Thoughts...Pantry Basics 3

Some may think that stocking a pantry and keeping track of everything will take too much of their valuable time. However, if you think about it, having a well-stocked pantry not only saves you money but saves you time.

If your pantry is well stocked and you're planning what to have for dinner the next day, which makes more sense? Making dinner from what is already in your pantry or having to go to the store to buy what you want to have for dinner. When you get to the grocery, you'll usually buy what you need but end up purchasing several more things you "forgot" to add to your list costing you the time it took to go and additional money.

Some have said to plan your meals weeks ahead. I simply do not do this. First, because I may not be in the mood to have Spaghetti for dinner that night or I may have things that need to be eaten before it "goes bad" but also I am unable to take advantage of sales and plan meals around sale-priced meats. If I stock my pantry, I can plan our meal the night before and use things from the pantry. I can then check the sales flyers each week and restock the pantry with the items that are true bargains.

One last benefit to keeping a well-stocked pantry...when bad weather is coming and everyone is at the store stocking up, you can sit home in the warmth and know your family will be fine.

Mavis D.

Basketball....Our New Addiction!

Wow! We had a busy evening! Two of our sons play on a local homeschool basketball team and tonight was the "basketball banquet." This is where they receive their awards for the year and get their "official" pats on the back for a well-played year. It was mostly a fun evening; getting the awards, talking about how they played this year and the things they'll be making changes to next season. Overall, it was a great night.

I didn't really think about it much while we were there but when we got home I couldn't stop thinking about how much time we've spent together and how much I'll miss all those kids! It's almost like they become part of your own family... especially after we spent a week together in the same hotel at "Nationals." That was like having our own little community! We would visit back and forth from one room to was great. Sort of makes you wonder what it would be like if we all lived in the same neighborhood.

This was our first year in basketball and I do believe we may be addicted. On the drive home, one of the boys ask if it was too early to sign up for next year. I didn't really need to answer this question...he already knew the answer.

We have a couple of great coaches who let them know we'd like to win our games but not at the expense of loosing our Christian character. Winning at all costs...isn't really winning. I like that attitude and the kids show it in each game they play.

Our boys have also made some great friendships. Maybe there's something about a bunch of boys sweating and getting stinky together that bonds them. It's kind of gross for us mom's but we still like to see it. To all those who helped our boys...thanks.

So... to all our teammates out there...we'll see you next fall! Ok...we'll see you before then. You know...part of that new stuff we're going to do...getting together to practice a little throughout the summer!

Mavis D.

Friday, March 28, 2008

You Must Think Outside the Box... Pantry Basics 2

Ok…you’ve just finished your monthly shopping and saved a ton of money. Now where are you going to put all this stuff?

Unfortunately, many kitchens have very little storage space. Oh let’s face it, MOST kitchens I’ve seen don’t have much space! Our family spent 13 years living in a small mobile home that had no pantry area at all and very few cabinets so I had to be quite inventive to find places to put my pantry items. It’s kind of funny now but we had stuff hidden everywhere! So you will have to learn to think outside the box…or in this case, the kitchen.
Just because it’s food items doesn’t necessarily mean it must be stored in the kitchen. Most beds are high enough to put a case of canned foods under them. Check each room and think of ways you can hide a case or two of canned goods or something there. Do you have a garage where you can put a few of those metal shelves or the metal cabinet similar to those used by teachers? If your husband is handy, he can build shelves and a cabinet out of inexpensive lumber. The garage is a great place to store extras.

In our mobile home we had a “bar” type counter that separated the living room from the kitchen/dining room. I put shelves under there and hung a nice little curtain. It worked great and provided a lot of storage area.
I have a “cedar chest” that we use for our coffee table in the living room but it houses my craft and scrap-booking supplies. I could very easily make that a food storage area if I needed it.
I’m currently working on a storage place for our winter blankets and quilts and to put material I‘ve purchased at discounted prices. I plan to get a few of the metal trash cans. I’ll fill them full of blankets and put a piece of plywood on them with a round table cloth. You know, the ones for the round “decorator tables.” This would be much sturdier than those flimsy tables and provide storage for my blankets. Of course, you can store other things in them including some of your pantry items.

One thing you’ll want to remember and write down is where you’ve stored what. It could be an interesting day if you have to FIND dinner.

Another thing, “pantry items” isn’t just for food. Think about paper products you use and other personal items like shampoo, deodorant, etc. So even if you don’t hide your canned peaches under the bed, you can use it for the extra rolls of toilet paper or paper towels!

If you have any questions, just let me know.

Have a great day!
Mavis D.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

You Must Think Outside the Box... Pantry Basics 1

I truly believe that the two best money savers is establishing a well-stocked pantry and cooking from "scratch." We'll cover the pantry this time and get to the "cooking from scratch" as we go along.

Having a pantry can help you save money by not having to run to the store to pick up something you might be out of and that you desperately need for dinner. It allows you to buy things in "bulk" as well, which usually comes with a cheaper price. you agree but where do you start. First, you'll need a list of things you normally buy in the course of a month. So sit down and make a list of all the different meals you normally cook. You can usually make a list of your normal purchases from that list. Another way to figure it out is simply keep your receipts for one month and make your list from them.

After you've made your list, start watching the sales flyers to see when those things go on sale. When they do, stock up on those items. A price-book helps if you really want to track the price of things but I usually go mostly on memory or have a general idea what something should costs and now I can spot a bargain from a mile away.

Remember, don't break the bank! Try to set aside money each month to build your pantry instead of stocking it all at once. If you really want to get it stocked up fast, have a yard sale or something to earn the money.

I usually spend one day a month doing the "big shopping" at my normal stops and then I check the weekly sales flyers for their bargains and just purchase those through the month. This allows me to take advantage of the sales but keeps me from overspending through the month. It also cuts down on the time I spend in the stores. Yes, I spend a lot of time on "shopping day" but the quick stops through the month are to pick up the "bargains" and are short and to the point. I don't browse at all, I go with a list...pick up the bargains and my fresh vegetables or other perishables and I'm out of there.

That should get your started for now. Next time we'll talk about where to put all of that stuff!

Have a great day!

Mavis D.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

No Picky Eaters Allowed!

I have some weird sons. I know, that sounds strange coming from an adoring mom but they are a little different and I am thankful for it.

So what makes our boys strange? Well, I'll tell you. Come closer...ssshhhh...they like broccoli. Yeah, they actually LIKE broccoli! In fact, they like almost all veggies...sure, some more than others but I'm dumbfounded by the number of kids these days who don't like broccoli, green beans, and many other vegetables we consider normal wonderful foods!

Perhaps I was too mean to them when they were just little guys. So what did we do that made them so strange? When we had veggies, or anything for that matter, we had a rule: They had to try something 20 times before they could absolutely, without-a-doubt say they didn't like it. :) Yeah, you guessed it...they never kept count of the times they had tried it! After awhile, they learned to like what they had been turning their noses up at. Sure, most of those things still aren't their favorites but they do eat them without a fight and do enjoy most of it.

There's an 8 year age difference between our #3 child and our #4 child (long story) so we're starting over with the rule. He's just 5 but he's slowly learning that we don't really tolerate "picky eaters" much in our home so he has to try it many times. The thing he doesn't like...pinto beans, but he's getting better, he likes them with ketchup now.

Milk the Savings

Have you seen the price of milk lately? Wow, I'm thinking it might be cheaper to buy a cow! :) In many places, the price of milk has gone to $4 and $5 a gallon. I thought I'd give you a few tips to stretch your dollars there.

There are three basic forms you can get your milk in...the regular gallons, evaporated milk and non-fat instant dry milk. So far, the "regular" milk in gallon jugs is starting to become a luxury. When you have teenage boys, they can go through it fast! So I limit our budget on regular milk and tell the boys to take it easy.

I also keep a stock of evaporated milk on hand. When I'm cooking and I find the boys have drank all the milk, I simply use evaporated milk by adding the same amount of water. 1 can of milk to 1 can of water = 1 cans of regular milk. It tastes a bit different but works great for cooking.

Lastly, there is the non-fat instant dry milk. Here is where most people turn up their noses and say "YUCK!" but I have been experimenting with it lately and have found something that works. Have you ever read the side of the box? You know, the part that says, "some settling may have occurred during shipping." Well, there is the key to making the milk work. Many times, the smaller particles sift to the bottom and leave the lighter ones on top so when you mix up a batch it doesn't taste right. Here's the trick, instead of mixing it by dry measure using cups try measuring by weight. For example, to make 4 quarts of milk, my box calls for 3 3/4 quarts of water to 5 1/3 cup of instant milk. If I tried to measure it by cups my milk would end up a little off but if I measure by weight, which my box says 12.8 ounces, I'll use my little kitchen scale and measure the correct amount then mix well. I like to use a container that I can seal and shake it well. Let it refrigerate at least overnight. The milk will not taste like "whole milk" but it will taste very much like the 2% milk sold in gallons at your local grocery.

I can buy the instant milk at our local grocery for about $13 per box and each box makes 20 quarts or 5 gallons which works out to be about $2.60 per gallon, quite a bargain compared to the $4 or $5 per gallon of "regular" milk.

Hope this helps!
Mavis D.

Monday, March 24, 2008


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Financial Peace

In August of 2007, we were facing some pretty tough decisions concerning our finances. was bad enough that we were considering bankruptcy. We even had an appointment with an attorney. After the meeting, my husband and I talked for quite some time and decided against it. We would take another route and dig ourselves out of the mess we had made with a little help from a guru.

Dave Ramsey entered our lives....he seemed to be popping up everywhere anyway so we figured we'd take the classes. WOW! It has been an amazing ride! We learned so much during those 13 weeks and now it's been 7 months since our first class. We've built an emergency fund, paid off a few of our debts (working on the rest), started saving for those things that only come once a year like taxes and insurance and the future is looking bright. We're so excited about this new way of life that we've become coordinators for Financial Peace University. Oh, we don't get paid for it in money....our payment comes in knowing that we're helping others escape to freedom.

If you haven't checked out Dave's program then go to and read all about it. Check out one of his books from the library and find a class nearby. It will be the best money you've spent in a long time and I'll keep you posted on OUR progress.


Hello, I'm just starting my adventure into the world of blogging so I hope you'll all bear with me. :) The purpose of this blog is to share with you the many tips and tricks I have learned through the years of being a wife, mother and general homemaker.

We'll discover new recipes and I'll share my recent frustrations with learning to make homemade bread. Tips for managing money (or the lack of money) and many other things I wish I'd known 20 years ago when I started.