Monday, June 30, 2008

Herb Mix

Herb Mix

This herb mix is used in many different ways and is easy to make and store. Use dried herbs to extend shelf life.

1/4 cup thyme
1/4 cup marjoram
1/4 cup savory
1 Tbs basil
1 Tbs rosemary (crushed)
1 Tbs fennel seeds
1 tsp sage

Mix together well in a bowl and put into a 1/2 pint jar with tight-fitting lid.

To use:

Herbed Chicken

Place chicken parts in baking dish and sprinkle with herb mix. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Herb Roasted Potatoes

4 large white potatoes (washed well and cut in cubes, you can leave skins on or peel them, whichever you prefer.

1/2 tsp black pepper (optional)
1 tsp salt
2 Tbs Herb mix
1/4 cup olive oil

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Place potatoes in a large mixing bowl and add all other ingredients. Toss to coat potatoes well.

Spread potatoes in a single layer on a cookie sheet or shallow baking pan.

Bake 20-30 minutes or until potatoes are golden brown and tender.

Makes four to six servings.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Cleaning the Castle

Cleaning house has never been a favorite passion of mine. Oh, I come by it honestly, my mom was not a clean freak either but you do have to do it from time to time. If nothing else, you will need to dig yourself out every so often.

I have a friend over at Squidoo that has put together a wonderful page about making house cleaning fun and how to enlist the help of your kiddos. You know, those who usually help make the bulk of the messes!

Check out her page here and be sure to say "Hi" to Susan. She's a former homeschool mom, mother of soldiers and a work-at-home mom/wife.

Have a great day and happy cleaning!

Mavis D.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Why I Shop at Aldi's

I have a few friends that have asked me why I am willing to drive 25+ miles to shop at a certain store called Aldi's. Of course, this amazes me that they have not even tried it! I guess it would really blow their minds to know that I used to drive over 50 miles to shop at an Aldi store before our "local" city earned its place on the map. My mother, sister and myself would all take the truck and make a day of it and we would buy enough canned goods to last our families at least 3 months.

Now you must remember that I do not shop Aldi's exclusively but I do get the bulk of our food there. I also do not shop there once a week. If I happen to be "in town" and I will be close to it then I'll stop there for my fresh produce or a gallon of milk, otherwise, it's usually a once a month shopping trip and I prepare our meals from the pantry.

I have found that shopping at Aldi helps keep my food budget down which is very helpful when feeding a family of used to be seven but one has left home now. When combining my Aldi shopping with cooking from scratch and taking advantage of sales, I have managed to keep our food bill down to $600 per month. For some, this may sound like a lot but most of those have smaller families. In addition, I have checked with the USDA's food plan chart, which says a family our size, should have a budget of $1058 per month on the "low cost plan!" It doesn't describe the "low cost plan" but I'm assuming it allows for a couple of roasts per month and a couple of evenings with lower cost steak choices with the bulk of other meats being chicken, ground beef, fish or pork.

I have compared prices with many different stores and have consistently found Aldi to be cheaper. Their "store brands" compare to those name brand items you are used to buying and many times the same company, on the same lines as the name brand labels, manufactures them. Of course, that is usually the case with most store brands located in all stores. I know this personally, as I worked in a canning company for a short time.

If you would like to compare prices without actually going to the store a homeschool dad was able to get a price list and he scanned it for the rest of the world. These prices were current for April 2008 and may differ a little bit by your location. It's now posted on the PDF file from there.

As with all of your shopping, I recommend you read the labels. As you may know, we avoid foods with high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils for health reasons but those things are in all processed foods no matter where you buy them. To read more about why you should avoid them check out "Cooking from Scratch - Healthy Living"

Have a great day!

Mavis D.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Stop Bleeding Quickly!

Have you had a cut that you thought you'd never get stopped bleeding? I have and I have friends and relatives who take blood thinners that have a serious problem if they cut themselves. Here is a little trick for stopping the blood flow quickly and it is as close as your spice rack!

Next time you have a cut, get your powdered Cayenne pepper out, sprinkle it on the cut, and cover with a bandage and amazingly enough, it does not sting! Because it is high in vitamin K, it has excellent clotting properties. You will also find that it has anti-microbial and astringent qualities that will help prevent infection.

Those of you who take blood thinner medications should carry a small container of the powdered cayenne with you. You never know when you might need it.

Have a great day!

Mavis D.

Chicken Marinades

Here are several marinade combinations that are sure to please. Try making them up, put them into gallon sized freezer bags and then add your chicken. You can freeze them and have them all ready to go; just thaw and grill or bake.

Many times, I will bake my chicken (especially leg/thigh parts) in the oven for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Allow them to cool then marinate them over night in a gallon-sized bag. The next day, when it is dinnertime, I just put them on the grill to heat them through and give them the "grilled" flavor. This serves two purposes; the chicken is completely cooked and it is great for quick barbeques when friends are coming over.

They are also a great money saver and avoids many of the preservatives found in storebought marinades.

Basic instructions are to mix ingredients together well and marinate chicken overnight or put it in the freezer for later use. There are special instructions for the Sweet and Sour chicken.

Pineapple Orange Chicken

1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup crushed pineapple in juice
1 tsp powdered ginger

Lemon Rosemary Chicken

1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbs dried rosemary

Honey Tarragon Chicken

1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp dried tarragon

Tangy Italian Chicken

1 cup vinegar
1 cup olive oil
1 Tbs garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dry mustard

Sweet and Sour Chicken

1 20 ounce can of crushed pineapple with juice
1/4 cup wine vinegar
3 Tbs brown sugar
3 Tbs ketchup
3 Tbsp soy sauce (feel free to use low sodium soy sauce)
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp ground ginger

NOTE: Special instructions for "Sweet and Sour Chicken" marinade. Mix all ingredients in a saucepan until well blended. Heat on low stirring to prevent scorching. Cook until slightly thickened. Allow to cool before adding to the meat. This also makes a good dipping sauce.

Have a great day!

Mavis D.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Learning to Knit

As many of you know, I have been learning to knit. This is not small undertaking for me. I have tried learning needlecrafts in the past. Like the time I tried to crochet. I was making a "doily" but when I finished it looked more like a bag! Apparently, I have a problem with tension...funny, a mom of 5 sons having a problem with tension? Impossible!

Well, I must report that I am not tied in knots and crying out for help. In fact, I have become quite addicted! This morning I ask hubby to drive to church instead of me was so I could sit on the passenger side and knit!

I have made two dishcloths, a scarf and I am working on a second scarf. My five year old "Little T" asked me to make him could I say "no?"

I did try the "cheating" way as some of my friends call it. I bought a loom kit and tried that when I just could not get the hang of hand knitting. Now, I have done both and really enjoy the hand knitting much better. The loom knitting seems to roll up a lot more than the hand knitting

Here are two dishcloths I have made. The one on the right is the hand knit one (blue) and the other is the loom knit dishcloth (multicolored). I did make a mistake in my first one but I "fixed" it and it will serve its purpose after all. However, do you see how the loom knit one rolls at the top of the picture...I do not like that so I have all but stored the looms and bought more needles!

I have found knitting to be very relaxing and I've even loosened up my tension.

I am a visual learner so I need to SEE something before I can do it. I was able to find some great videos online that were very helpful to me and you'll find them here. I hope they are as helpful to you as they were to me.

Have a great knitting day!

Mavis D.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


I have been checking my favorite haunts online for great deals in my local Walgreen's store. One deal this week is on Walgreen's brand maxi pads...yeah, yeah, I know I should get out more but this was a great deal!

First, they were buy one get one free. Not a great price at 4.99 for the cheapest package (the size I use) but when you combine it with the fact they listed a rebate on them in the Easy Saver get them free!

If you buy 2, you get a $5 rebate and if you buy 3, you get a $10 rebate. You can get one of each. So I "bought" 4 the first trip...they ring all four up and then take off two...there's my $10 rebate. On the second trip I "bought" 2...they ring up both and then it takes one off...there's my $5 rebate.

Now, I'm pretty new to this stuff so I'm not 100% sure it will work but I spent $15 for 6 packages and I will definitely get the $10 rebate so I really spent $5 for all 6 of them and if I get the $5 rebate then I got them all free!

Of course, I paid for it with my gift card that had money refunded to me for past rebates. I also purchased many of the other "free after rebate" items that they have available for June and used coupons in junction with sales to get very low cost laundry detergent.

I know some of you hate dealing with rebates but you should really check out Walgreen's. They have made claiming rebates so easy...everything is done online so you do not even have to use a stamp to send it to them!

Have a great day!

Mavis D.

Monday, June 16, 2008

When the Lights Go Out!

Today we spent over half the day without power. You never really think about the electric unless it's not working properly or it's time to pay the bill. Although we are trying to conserve energy we saw today how dependent are on it, a dependency that was a little on the scary side!

Without electricity, I am unable to cook meals, wash clothes, make phone calls, and a whole list of other things including blogging and checking my email. Last night when the power was off for a short time, we were unable to see except by candle or flashlight that and we only had a little wind up radio that my hubby bought for emergencies. It worked ok but we sure were tired of winding it up! LOL!

It makes me wonder just how prepared for emergencies our family really is and gives me ideas for some things we need to add to our household to prepare. Emergencies come in all shapes and sizes and many times, we never know how long they will last. When the power goes out you never know how long it will last!

I can get by without checking my email and if I really need to do that, I can always take the laptop to the local truck-stop where they have free wireless but what about eating? We've become quite accustomed to eating every day but what happens if I can't cook? Oh, we have a camping stove and we could set that up so we do have something but it is not an ideal situation and it probably is not would considered safe inside the house.

Anyway, after our little emergency, I've made a list of things around our home that we want to change or add to make life easier during those emergencies. I hope the list helps you as much as I know it will help our family.

1. Alternate ways of cooking: camping stove, barbeque grill, sterno cans, etc.

2. Emergency lighting: lamps with battery backups, emergency lighting, solar powered/battery backup lighting.

3. Communications: battery powered radio with rechargeable batteries; batteries stay in charger until needed.

4. Alternate heat source: Fireplace, vent-less gas stove,

5. Canned foods that do not require cooking. On this note, one last thing I want to change...we have a very large freezer where we keep frozen foods and meats. I could not imagine trying to deal with all of that thawing at one time. I am rethinking the whole idea of keeping that much meat and other foods frozen. I have decided to start canning a good portion of our meats and things. This will have a two-fold benefit. First, thee meat is canned and cannot spoil if the electricity goes out. Second, the children could make any type of meal they wanted by simply opening a jar. They would not need to cook any meat and I would not worry if they burned themselves trying to drain grease off or anything like that. I have a friend who does this and her children have been able to cook meals by themselves at very young ages.

Are there things you can think of that might help prepare for emergencies? Let me know by leaving a comment.

Have a great day!

Mavis D.

Mom's Favorite Biscuits

I found this recipe some time ago and we have fallen in love with it. It makes biscuits similar to those found at KFC. I always make several batches to freeze so they are handy to make. Just make them as usual, place them on a cookie sheet (before baking) and "flash freeze" them and put them in a freezer bag. When ready to use them, place them on a lightly oiled cookie sheet and bake as usual.

6 cups - all-purpose flour
6 tsp - salt
4 tbsp - sugar
4 tbsp - baking powder
2 2/3 cup - milk
1 1/3 cup butter, softened

Preheat oven to 425 degrees (unless you are making a "freezer batch")

Lightly stir together flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and cut in until it is crumbly...I usually use my hands but you can use a pastry cutter or two butter knives. Add milk and mix well to form soft dough. Turn onto floured surface and gently knead 6-8 times. Pat or roll dough into 1/2 inch thick circle. Cut into biscuits. Place on lightly oiled baking sheet and bake in oven for 10-13 minutes or until lightly browned. Makes approximately 36 biscuits. Serve with hot gravy or butter and jam!

Have a great day!

Mavis D.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Monday, June 9, 2008

Barbeque Sauce

This Barbeque sauce is a great alternative to the store-bought stuff that's loaded with things you can't pronounce and other things that simply aren't healthy for you. If you like it with a little spice to it...double the cayenne pepper.

2 Tbs oil
2 large onions, chopped fine
1 large can tomato sauce (institutional size)
3 cups brown sugar
3 cups Worcestershire (from the $1 isle available in most stores)
1 1/2 cups prepared mustard
2 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
1 Tbs garlic powder
1/2 Tbs ground cayenne pepper

Put oil in large stockpot and add onions. Sauté until onions are clear. Stir in spices and brown sugar; mix well. Stir in mustard, Worcestershire sauce and tomato sauce; adding tomato sauce last. Stir well and simmer uncovered on low heat for 15 minutes. Pour hot into pint jars and process in pressure canner for 20 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure. Makes 12 pints.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Wordy Wednesday

These are two of my babies. That big one there is now serving in the Army National Guard in Iraq. We're thankful for your prayers.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Low Cost Gardening Supplies

Have you been buying your bags of mulch and compost from your local garden center? The cost of those bags is unbelievable especially if you have a large garden or flower bed that will take many bags.

Instead of purchasing those bags, try calling your local landfill or county road department. Most of them shred tree limbs and other yard debris and process it to make mulch or compost and it may be purchased in bulk. Our local landfill charges $10 per pickup truck load...that is a lot of mulch! Even if you cannot use that much, you can share the cost with a friend or neighbor and still come out far ahead of the game. They usually have mulch in brown or red and many times those bags you are buying were processed at that same landfill... a local company purchased it in bulk and packaged it for sale.

Be sure to call early for compost as it usually disappears fast in the spring. Mulch is usually available year round, especially if you have recently had storms in your area.

Have a great day and happy gardening!

Mavis D.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Sloppy Jo's

1 lb ground beef
1/2 medium onion, chopped fine
1/2 cup tomato catsup
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 t. ground oregano
1/4 t garlic salt

Brown ground beef and onions in a skillet until no pink remains. Drain fat off. Stir in remaining ingredients and simmer on low for 15 minutes. Serve on buns or toasted bread. Makes 4-6 servings.

This is one of our boys favorite meals. We usually serve it with oven fries and coleslaw. Of course, we avoid catsup that has hydrogenated oils or high-fructose corn syrup.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Going "Girly"'s weird...maybe it's my age or maybe it is because I've lived for 20 years as the only female in our home but some strange things are taking place around here. You have noticed the blog. Flowers? Who would have thought it? I love those little Gerber Daisies...they are so cute!

I have always been a "tomboy" so girly things were just a little foreign to me but lately I have started changing things to look more feminine and I'm not sure where that change has come from.

Some of the changes...besides the flowers on the blog...are that I have started wearing a lot pinker, lacier stuff and I am learning to knit. I am learning many things I always considered girl stuff.

Still, I haven't given up all of my tom boyish ways. I like playing in the dirt but we call it gardening now and I have to watch my speed when driving....I like to race but I think that comes from my mom so I don't know if it's a guy thing or not! I still hate to wear dresses and I am most comfortable in my jeans and t-shirts. I do not wear make-up and I think anything more than brushing my hair is a nuisance. Maybe I am not changing as many things as I think I am. Hhhmm Well...maybe there is hope for me yet!

Have a great day!

Mavis D.