Tuesday, July 29, 2008

They're Keeping Me Busy!

Wow...I have been busy! July is canning season here in Arkansas and although I do not can (preserve) a lot of things, one thing that my pantry is well stocked with is home canned tomatoes. Usually I put them in the jar whole but this year I wanted to chop them up and see if I can fit more tomatoes in the jar without so much liquid. I think it is working out nicely, don't you?

I use home canned tomatoes in a variety of items throughout the year. To name a few: chili, Italian Vegetable soup, spaghetti, stews, and several other things.

This year I also chose to make salsa! We just adore having "chips and salsa" all through the year so I want to have several jars canned before the tomatoes run out.

Also keeping me busy...we put up several ears of corn. We purchased them from a local grower and my son and I had lots of fun husking them. We usually just blanch them and put them in large zipper freezer bags. This lets me get out what I need when I need them. The fun part of that is watching my 13 year old "vacuum pack" them. He uses a straw inserted in the side of the bag...closes the bag across until he gets to the straw. Then he sucks the air out, gently pulls the straw out and seals the bag. So far, he's the best one at this....he can get the bag "vacuumed" down really tight and get the straw out before air gets back in! LOL! Hey, if nothing else...he can get a job vacuum sealing stuff...right?

Have a great day!

Mavis D.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Wordy Wednesday

He was found hopping around in our back yard. Do you know what kind of bird he is? Let us know!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Make your own "Hamburger Helper™"

Those prepackaged meals in a box are handy when you have a starving family looking at you and whining. However, the cost of those convenience meals keep going up and up,, This doesn't mention the contents of the package with all of it's preservatives, no where near the quality food you want to feed your family.

Here is a mix you can put together to have on hand in just such a case..."no preservatives added!"

The directions are simple. You will assemble all the dry ingredients and mix well. Place them in a zipper bag until needed. These can also be stored in mason jars normally used for canning or preserving foods. I like to put them in those and put the plastic reusable lids on them.

Beefy Mac Skillet Dinner

1/4 cup dried chopped onions
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 cup uncooked elbow macaroni

1 large can of diced tomatoes (28 ounces)

Place the first 5 ingredients into your storage container (jar or zippered bag) and store until needed. This is your "packaged dinner."

To use...simply brown 1 pound of ground beef in a skillet until done. Drain off fat and set aside. Pour the tomatoes into the skillet, add your "packaged dinner" and mix well. Add the ground beef back in and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook until macaroni are as tender as you like.

Have a big family? Double the recipe and feed the whole crowd! The photo is a "double-batch" because of our large family.

Keep watching...I have many more recipes to build a well-stocked pantry.

Have a great day!

Mavis D.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Learning to Knit

Well...it has been a couple of months since I started my journey into the world of knitting. I have made quite a few projects...mostly "small" ones. Here are the two scarves I made for two of my boys that I mentioned here.

The red one is for my 6 year old and the gray one is for my 13 year old. They are knitted in a simple garter stitch pattern so it would look the same on both sides. I cast on about 30 stitches and just knit them. We would measure for length when we thought it was long enough.

I know one thing for sure. I am addicted! I snatch time here and there to knit and I usually do not leave home without something...even a simple project. I have found that I can "watch" TV or listen to audio books while knitting...unless it is a patterned project...then I'm too busy counting! It seems to help my concentration and I can actually remember what I have listened to...I wonder how our preacher would like it if I were knitting while listening to his sermon. :)

Have a great day!

Mavis D.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Just Bunches, Please

Psst...Come closer. Do you remember the cereal that has been coming up lately all over the internet because of the great coupons? The "Just Bunches" from the makers of Honey Bunches of Oats? I purchased two of those boxes (with coupons, of course). The first box was devoured so fast I didn't get a chance to look at it closely but I was able to snag the second box and take a closer look. It is exactly what the name implies....it's just the "bunches" from the Honey Bunches of Oats cereal, which of course is everyone's favorite part of that cereal....right?

So I took an even closer look and found that the "bunches" which are made up of a secret ingredient...in fact, they are none other than... (drum roll, please)...granola! That is right folks, those sweet little flavorful bites of honey, nuts, and oats, otherwise known as granola. Therefore, at $2.68 a box I think we can think of something else that will save money, make our families happy and is probably a healthier choice since we'll be avoiding the preservatives. Make up a batch of this granola...break it into pieces and serve with cold milk. You can even mix it with a box of cheap corn flakes to make it stretch farther but try to find some that doesn't have high fructose corn-syrup.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


9 cups rolled oats
2 cups wheat germ
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cups slivered almonds
1 cups olive oil
3/4 cup water
1 Tbs vanilla
3/4 cup honey

Mix the first four ingredients together well in a large bowl. Mix the last four ingredients together in a separate bowl. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry and mix well. Spread on trays and bake at 300 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow cooling then break it up into bite-sized pieces.

Wordy Wednesday

Patty cake or Prayer?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Ranch Style Beans

We just love Ranch beans and the homemade beans are the best. Try this recipe for stocking up or building your "recession proof pantry."

2 lbs bacon, optional
7 lbs pinto beans
3 bottles catsup (small)
1 large can of tomato juice
2 T. chili powder
1/2 cup salt
6 large onions, chopped

Pick and wash the beans and soak over night. Next morning, drain them and cover with cold water then cook for 25 minutes at a simmer. Add water if needed. Mix all other ingredients, pour over beans, and simmer 10 more minutes. Pack hot into clean and sterilized quart size jars leaving 1 1/2 inch headspace. Process the jars in a pressure canner at 10 lbs of pressure for one hour. This will make 16 quarts.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Super Savings Saturday

Here's the savings for this week. I made 2 trips to Walmart...none out of my way, I was already in the area for other business.

Transaction 1

Planters Peanuts - 2.68 x 2
Kotex pantiliners - $1 x 2
Just Bunches cereal 2.62 x 1
Crayola crayons .22 x 4
Koolaid 0.20 x 6
Gold Bond lotion - 0.97 x 1
Buddies soap 0.94 x 4
Schick razors 1.97 x 2

Total before coupons - 20.73
Minus coupons - 19.00
Total AFTER coupons - 1.73

Transaction 2

Planters Peanuts 2.68 x 2
V8 Fusion 2.98 x 1
Just Bunches cereal 2.50 x 1
Pert Plus shampoo 2.88 x 2
French's mustard 1.52 x 1
Vlasic relish 1.08 x 2
Vlasic Ovals 1.98 x 2
Zantac 4.23 x 1
Buddies soap 0.94 x 6
Gold Bond lotion 0.97 x 2
Koolaid 0.20 x 6

Total before coupons - 37.25
Minus coupons - 30.52 (one was the free mustard)
Total AFTER coupons - 6.73

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Challenge?

My friend, Michelle, has challenged me to post more often. She tells me that she checks several times a day to see if anything is new. She has also suggested a few things she would like to see which is very helpful for thinking of topics.

Therefore, my question is...what topics YOU would like to see covered. I have a few on my list that I'm working on but I like to keep that list full....so leave a comment and tell me what you think.

Have a great day!

Mavis D.

Financial Peace - June Update

In June, we paid off another credit card! Whoo Hooo!

Here is where we are in our "Baby Steps"

1. Emergency fund - DONE! August 2007
2. Debt Snowball - working, scheduled to complete by January 2010 but we are working HARD to be done before then...hopefully WAY before then!

It does not seem like we have gone far but when you consider where we were in August 2007 when we took our first class, we have made leaps of progress. We are no longer on the brink of bankruptcy and we see a light at the end of the tunnel and feel more hope than ever before!

We are also going to be saving for a van to replace ours when needed. It is getting old but we are hoping to hold off a little longer...after all...it ONLY has 191,000 miles on it! :) I have mixed feelings about replacing it because it has been such a good van with very few mechanical problems but, as with all things in this life...they don't last forever.

We were coordinators for Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University back during the spring and we are happy to announce the beginning of our second class. We learned a lot in our first session and we're excited to get started again and apply what we learned. This will be our second time "teaching" and our third time "in" the class. We will be starting in late August and finish right before Thanksgiving and the holiday shopping season. Please pray with us that this class will make great changes in the lives of the participants.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Beef Marinades

A couple weeks ago, we had some delicious marinades for chicken. Today, along those same lines, we have marinades for beef. As with the chicken marinades, mix these up, divide steaks into gallon sized freezer bags, pour in the marinade, mix it around a little and freeze flat. Then simply thaw and cook as desired by baking, slow cooker or grilling.

Use these to save money and avoid those yucky preservatives found in store-bought marinades.

Basic instructions are to mix ingredients together well and marinate beef (steaks or roasts) overnight or put it in the freezer for later.

Stir-Fry (slice beef thin)

1/3 cup sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp Schzeuchuan pepper seasoning
2 tsp ground ginger

Fajitas (slice beef thin)

1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup lemon juice
1 tsp dried cilantro
1 Tbs dried onion
1 tsp chili powder
2 cloves garlic, minced


1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp curry
1/2 cup beef broth
3 Tbs orange juice

Beef Marinade (for roasts or steaks, this is great in the crockpot)

1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cup beef broth
1 large onion, chopped
1 Tbs olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs tomato paste
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp black pepper
1 small can mushroom pieces (optional)