Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Today I climbed Mt. Everest!

You'll never believe what I did today! I climbed Mt Everest. My dear sweet husband helped me...I guess you could say he was my guide by helping to get me started. it wasn't exactly Mt was more like Mt. Never-rest. I tackled our mountain of laundry. It's amazing the amount of laundry a family of 7 can provide...the hours of enjoyment I get with moving it from washer to dryer. Then the real fun starts...sorting and trying to get them to fold their basketful and put it away. You know...before someone dumps it out to find something and before the dog decides it makes a great bed.

I've heard...and I'm sure it's just someone's idea of a sick joke, that there are actually people out there who enjoy doing the laundry. I'm wondering what planet they are from or maybe how I can move to that attitude. When I'm faced with a mountain like that, I try to remind myself of two things: first, "All things are possible with Christ" and second, that God has truly blessed our family with plenty of clothing! Both trains of thought help me climb the mountain. Hey, maybe it's the Faith that moves mountains! :)

Anyway...I'm always trying to find ways to help with the mountain and if you've got any tips, send them to me and I'll post them for others.

Have a great day!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Waffle Experiment update and Homemade syrup!

Back in October I posted a great waffle mix recipe and told of our experiment to freeze waffles. I'm sometimes a little skeptical of how some things will work out...especially when I've read them online. You know, you can't always believe what you read.

However, in this case, I'd like to report that it turned out great! My first freezer batch of waffles were fabulous. I made a quaduple batch of mix and spent some time making them. Of course, this would have been much faster had I purchased a larger waffle iron but I wanted to experiment so I bought one of the smaller ones for less than $10 but only makes two at a time. You can see how this was a little time consuming since each batch makes about 16 waffles!

Anyway....they turned out great and I prefer the waffles that are a little crispy so when we take them out to heat, we use a toaster.

Now...on to the syrup recipe.

You'll find that most pancake recipes contain high fructose corn syrup....and ingredient avoided in our house. So, I've made up our own pancake syrup recipe which is really easy.

2 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon maple flavor

Put everything in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Allow it to boil for 5 minutes and then turn it off and let it cool. When cool, pour into syrup bottle or container.

Have a great day and enjoy the waffles!

Mavis D.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy's been extremely busy around here. Basketball season has started so we have practice twice a week with our homeschool team.

I've also been busy sewing because it's difficult and/or expensive to find maternity clothing my size. First I transformed two pair of jeans into maternity jeans and I hope to have a tutorial coming soon. I've also made 3 tops.

I hope to be making a few Christmas gifts for our boys. We have two sons who just really like StarWars so I want to make them a Jedi robe complete with hood. I'll also be making them some stuff from Indiana Jones since they imagine being him also. I love the imagination of little boys!

That's what's been going on here. Hopefully I'll have some posts about getting ready for the holidays coming soon. I love the holiday time!

Have a great day!
Mavis D.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Waffle Mix

I recently purchased a new waffle iron as an experiment. I want to make waffles up ahead and put them in the freezer for our little guys. I was skeptical at first. I had read about it being done but still wasn't convinced until I tried it myself. Let me tell you, it's great! Finding just the right recipe....not so easy. Here is the one we've settled on. You can mix all the dry ingredients up before hand and then just add the liquids before mixing and making them or you can make them ahead and freeze them. To warm them, pop them into the toaster. Oh...and this recipe is easy peasy to double, triple or more!

Plain Waffles

2 c. flour
1 Tbs. baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 Tbs. sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. milk (you can make this half water and half milk if you'd like)
1/4 c oil (we use olive oil but you can use what you prefer)

Combine all and mix well. Cook/bake on your waffle iron. To freeze for later use, put them on a cookie sheet and freeze individually. When frozen, transfer to a large freezer bag or container.

Flour can be a combination of half whole wheat, all whole wheat or half cornmeal. It's a pretty easy recipe. :)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Crock-pot Scalloped Potatoes with (Turkey) Ham

This has become one of our favorite meals. I'll make it and add a side dish of veggies to go with it and since we don't eat pork, I always use Turkey ham purchased from Aldi's.

Crock-pot Scalloped Potatoes with (Turkey) Ham

2 cups diced turkey ham
1 medium onion chopped
1 can of cream of chicken soup
1/2-1 can of milk (use the soup can to measure)
10-14 slices of American cheese, grated
4-5 pounds of potatoes, sliced thin (I slice them as I go so I don't accidentally slice more than I need)

Mix the soup and milk in a'll use just enough milk to make it pour easily. Spray your crockpot with cooking spray to make clean up easier. Add in layers ....potatoes, onion, turkey ham, cheese, then pour on half the soup mixture. Continue until you have two full layers. Set crock pot on HIGH and allow to cook for 4 hours.

You can also do this in a 9x13 baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through. We stick a fork in the middle to check them.  As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Our menu is pretty simple most of the time. I plan on sharing a few of the recipes during the week....especially our Crockpot Scalloped Potatoes and Ham that we're having on Wednesday. :)

Monday - Chicken and dumplin's with green beans

Tuesday - Chicken and Vegetable fried Rice - hubby made a TON of rice that needs to be used! LOL!

Wednesday - Scalloped Potatoes and Ham with sweet peas

Thursday -Sloppy joes with homemade buns and oven fries

Friday - as always, homemade pizza made by my 17 year old son. :)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Have you seen this new website?

I've been using coupons for quite some time but one thing I've found is that the coupons are regional and sometimes so are the sales. This makes using a lot of sites difficult and even depressing sometimes. Those who are lucky enough to live in areas that have CVS pharmacy, Super Target and other stores that have great sales and are really competeing with each other....well, I guess you could say I'm a little jealous! LOL!

In our area, we have the choice of Walmart (Arkansas is Walmart country), Sam's Club, a small Target, Walgreens and a couple of regional stores called Harps/Price Cutter and CV's Family Foods. Thankfully we now have an Aldi's that does save us a little money as well.

Anyway, I've also noticed our coupons are not always the same as other regions of the country which makes this site even better. It only has coupons that were available in our area. It's new and growing so be patient but if you live in the Arkansas/Oklahoma might help you too! It's called River Valley Steals & Deals. Check it might like it.

Have a great day!

Mavis D.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

So....did you notice on Monday I didn't have a menu plan for the week? By Tuesday evening I noticed I didn't have one! I've been officially planning our menu for a little over a month now and this past week I just didn't get it done and I paid for it too.

The menu plan has helped me be a little more organized than usual when it comes to meal time. I know what I need to take out and I'm not searching at 4pm for something to fix for dinner. It also helps me plan around our basketball schedule because we usually have crockpot meals on those days.

If you haven't tried menu planning, why not try it. The way I started was to sit down and make a list of all the meals I make for our family. By the time I was finished I had a list of somewhere around 30 meals! Whoo Hooo! One for each day of the month! That would make planning a lot easier.

Almost all of the meals I make are made from items I normally have in the pantry and planning the menu on Sunday allows me to stop after church to pick up the items I'll need. This all makes for fewer trips to town (we live 12 miles from the nearest SMALL town) and one relaxed mom!

There are other ways to make menu planning easy and might be helpful to those with less experience. A friend of mine uses Saving Dinner but there are others out there that are similar. There are also programs that allow you to type in your recipes and then choose the ones you want to have for that week....many of those programs also have a shopping list function that after you've chose the meals you can print a "grocery" list from the ingredients. There are lots of programs to buy that do this but there are also several free programs. I recommend checking out the free ones first before buying one.

Do you have any menu planning suggestions? Share them with us!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Basketball practice starts this week so a couple of our meals will have to be easier than usual.

Monday - meatloaf, homemade macaroni and cheese, green beans

Tuesday - Scalloped potatoes and turkey ham in the crock-pot

Wednesday - Taco Salad (taco meat, lettuce, tomatoes, tortilla chips) served with refried beans and sour cream

Thursday - Hot turkey ham & cheese sandwiches with side salad.

Friday - Homemade pepperoni & veggie pizza

Monday, September 7, 2009

Make Your Own Ketchup

Make it Yourself Monday

We've had a hard time finding ketchup without HFCS so I've decided to try my hand at making my own. I found a few different recipes and this one seems to be the best fit for us. It may have a little more garlic than you'd like but we like lots of garlic so it's not a problem for us. :)

I do think that once you try homemade ketchup, you'll end up preferring it, I know our family does and the cost savings is great!

Since I was also wanting to address cost, one requirement for the recipe had to be that it used tomato paste or sauce because it's cheap and easily stored. So, with out further delay, here is our favorite ketchup recipe!

2 6oz cans of tomato paste
4 tablespoons white vinegar (I accidentally used white wine vinegar but it still tastes ok)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
4 teaspoons molasses
2 teaspoons garlic powder (you can cut this back to one if your family isn't crazy about garlic)
2 teaspoons onion powder
1/8 teaspoons all spice
1 teaspoon sea salt (we prefer sea salt but regular table salt is fine)
2 1/2 cups of water

Mix all ingredients in a saucepan and simmer on low heat for one hour until it's as thick as you like. Allow it to cool completely before you pour into bottles....especially if you are using plastic bottles!

This recipe yields about 1 quart of Ketchup at a cost of less than $1 and all of the items it calls for are regularly stored in my pantry.

Menu Plan Monday

I'm trying to get a little more organized in our kitchen and to make menu planning easier. Last night, I wrote a list of main dishes we usually have to see exactly how many we have. I ended up with over 25 meals that our family enjoys. I want to make sure that we allow some days for trying new things but I'll be using that list to help build our menu for the week. Let's see how it goes!

Monday - Burgers (on homemade buns), oven fries and cantaloupe

Tuesday - Crock-pot Beef Stew with crackers

Wednesday - Lasagna & salad

Thursday - Baked chicken with gravy, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob and cantaloupe

Friday - Homemade pizza (We have this every Friday and I don't even have to make it! Our 17 year old son is the pizza maker in our family....he also loves to bake cookies!)

What will you be having?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Why We Avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup

Do you read labels? If you don't, you might want to get in the habit of it. There are lots of things in our modern diets that aren't real healthy for us. I know....I know....something is going to kill me, it might as well be that, right? That's true to a point but there is a possibly "quality of life" issue you might want to consider.

Needless to say, we try to eat healthier so that we can avoid a lot of the medical conditions associated with the foods we eat. Here are some reasons we try to avoid the high fructose corn syrup:

Some consider high fructose corn syrup to be the reason why our society is overweight. Basically, HFCS is sweetener that's in all sorts of foods....items you wouldn't think would have sweeteners in them. Ketchup, barbeque sauce, sweet pickles, pickle relish, etc. Because it's in so many things, most people consume quite a large quantity but the American Medical Association recommends only 32 grams of sugar per day. That's hard to do when it's in everything.

A Washington Post article talks about 1/3 of all high fructose corn syrup brands contain mercury. Of course, we all know that mercury is toxic to animals, including humans.

Most recently, research is showing a possible link to "Colony Collapse Disorder" in honey bees. It's believed to be because bee keepers often feed it to their bees in the hopes of increasing reproduction and honey production. Unfortunately, when temperatures rise (especially during the summer months) the HFCS produces a substance called hydroxymethylfurfural which kills the bees. You can read more about it here.

All this to say, perhaps if there is quite a lot of controversy and the "unknown" related to a food item, maybe we should avoid it until we learn more about it.

Many of the items we want to avoid in our diets we can do so by cooking from scratch. There is a great added benfit when we cook from scratch, not only does it benfit our health and possibly decrease our waistline but it also helps our budget. Cooking from scratch saves money as well as our health!

Do you have comments or more information? Leave a comment and let us know!

Have a great day!
Mavis D.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Rolled Sugar Cookies

It happened. Last night everyone had a serious attack! It was the attack of the sweet tooth! Thankfully our 17 year old son who loves to EAT kicked into gear. Although he loves to eat, I'm very thankful that he also loves to COOK! I mean, if you're going to have a habit of eating everything in site, it's nice to have a corresponding habits that work well together...right? That's what I'm thinking!

Here is the recipe he used and let me tell you, it makes a LOT of cookies....which 5 boys can go through a LOT of cookies!

7 cups all purpose flour
1 cup milk
4 eggs (beaten)
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups coconut oil (you can also use butter, softened)
5 teaspoons baking powder

Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together. Cut in the coconut oil (or butter) until it's well mixed. Add the sugar, eggs and milk and mix well. Cover with plastic or a lid and put in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. This will make the dough easier to work.

When the dough is ready, take out a handful at a time and work it. Roll it out on whatever surface your using (we just use the counter)'ll want the dough thin. Cut with cookie cutters and place on an oiled cookie sheet then sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes until they start to brown around the edges. Allow them to cool a bit before you remove them from the sheet. We also let them cool on a cooling rack for awhile before we put them in the cookie jar.

We made cookies that were about the size of vanilla wafers and we really liked that size because they are just right for little hands. We also think that they can be substituted for vanilla wafers in recipes that call for them.

These are simple cookies that are not too sweet but just sweet enough to satisfy our cravings and since they are homemade, I have no worries about letting our children have a few throughout the day. As always, cooking from scratch is always cheaper, tastier and better for you....even if it's cookies!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tipster Tuesday - The Stinky Garbage Disposal

Do you have a stinky garbage disposal? Don't worry, it happens to the best. Here are some solutions to combat the problem.

Mix half and half water with vinegar and put into ice cube trays and freeze. When frozen, drop them in the disposal and run them through. It will deodorize the disposer as well as sharpen the blades.

Another trick is to take a half lemon and run it through followed by 1 cup of vinegar....flush with cold water for about 3-4 minutes.

Have a great day!
Mavis D.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Although these are set up on a certain day, we have tendency to move them around to suit our tastes for that day so we might not have the baked chicken on Tuesday but hold it until Thursday, etc.

Monday - meatloaf, homemade macaroni & cheese, greenbeans, cantaloupe

Tuesday - baked chicken, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob

Wednesday - sloppy joe sandwiches on homemade buns with oven roasted potatoes

Thursday - beef fajitas served with sour cream, refried beans and rice

Friday - homemade pepperoni & veggie pizza (we have "pizza night EVERY Friday!)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

We're trying to keep our menu simple this week since school started. Some days we have a dessert but most days we don't. Everything is made from scratch, except the Lipton pasta sides and I had that left over from a LONG time ago when I actually bought that kind stuff. :)

Monday - grilled chicken breast, Lipton pasta sides (chicken), green beans and cantaloupe.

Tuesday - Tuna Salad with crusty bread

Wednesday - roast with potatoes and carrots (cooked in the crock-pot)

Thursday - Mexican Chicken Casserole, corn and sliced cucumers

Friday - homemade pepperoni & veggie pizza with a salad

Friday, August 7, 2009

Years ago, we were able to get some wonderful wild plums and I made tons of plum jelly. Well, we haven't been as fortunate with those and my boys simply love the stuff.

I tried buying the "plum jelly" from the store but they said it didn't taste the same and of course, all store-bought jelly I can find uses high-fructose corn syrup as it's main sweetener.

The other day I was at our local Walmart and noticed they had red plums on sale for $1.25 per pound. A great buy but our family doesn't eat plums quick enough so I bought some for jelly.

I started with 4 pounds of plums. Cut them up and remove the seed...leave the skins on. You'll need to cut them about the size of potatoes when you are making them for mashed potatoes. When you're all done, put them in a large pan with about 1 1/2 cups of water and bring them to a boil stirring occasionally. Simmer them for a bit and I like to squish the larger pieces up against the sides to make a mushy mixture. After they've cooked a bit, pour them fruit into a jelly bag. This is a straining bag that removes the pulp from the juice. Work it with a spoon to get all that good juice out.

Now, with juice ready, you're ready to make jelly. You'll need to follow the directions for your particular brand of pectin but these instructions are all about the same.

Put 5 1/2 cups of plum juice into a large pot....I like a tall one like a stock pot and if it has pour spouts on the sides it will make your job easier. Measure 6 1/2 cups of sugar into a bowl and have it sitting near by. Stir your pectin into the juice and mix well. Bring the juice to a rolling boil that doesn't stir down. While the juice is boiling, pour in the sugar quickly while stirring the juice. Bring the jelly back to a rolling boil. When it gets to the rolling boil stage, time exactly 1 minute with a kitchen timer.

When the timer runs out, remove from heat and stir it down until little or no foam is left on top. Pour into prepared canning jars, cover with sterilized lids and rings. And process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

When I made this batch the other day, our 17 year old came home from grandma's house and discovered that I had made some. He was really excited and couldn't wait for it to cool before trying some!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Thinking Outside the Box

Over the last few months of my coupon adventures, I have accumulated quite a nice little stockpile of items. Some of those items are things I use all the time and some are things I thought I would try….especially since they were very cheap and many times free.

So what do you do with all those things? Well….there is the usual things. Often times I will donate them to needy families or organizations that could use my extra items. Sometimes I am given a tax receipt so I can write those donations off of my taxes….other times I get the good feelings that come from helping others.

Other items, I have learned to use in different ways. For example, did you know that shampoo works great as body wash? It does! It’s basically the same thing so why not try it. I can get shampoo a lot cheaper than body wash.

How about using hair conditioner as shaving cream? Just smooth it on your legs and shave. The feeling it leaves behind is wonderful and luxurious….even nicer than the real shaving cream!

I use dishwashing liquid as laundry soap….just use a couple of tablespoons per load. You can also use the “grease cutting” type on stains. Shampoo also works well to cut greasy stains on clothing.

We use dishwashing liquid in pump bottles for hand soap as well. Just mix 2 or 3 parts water to 1 part soap and shake it up good….the amount of water depends on the consistency you like. You can also put about the same portions in the foaming pumps after you’ve emptied them.

Ok…here’s the last one and probably the funniest one. I had a stockpile of panty-liners. I had gotten them free so I was thinking of ways to use some of them. Did you know they make great bandages for large wounds? Just use them in place of gauze bandages and use tape to hold in place. They can be trimmed to fit any size you need and that way they won’t look so obvious. There should be a few in every first-aid kit in your home or car!

So, I hope you look at your stockpile in a whole new light and start thinking outside the box as to what uses you may find for the items on hand.

Have a great day!

Mavis D.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Million Dollar Chocolate Cake

This is a "Million Dollar" Chocolate cake because it's incredibly RICH! You'll need a full glass of milk when having a slice! We recently made this cake for my sons birthday and although it has chocolate icing to go with it, we think it would work well with a nice Coconut Pecan frosting as well.

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cups baking cocoa
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 1/2 t baking soda
1 t salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup hot water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare one 9x13 baking pan or two 9-inch round pans. A bunt pan can also be used.

Place all ingredients into mixing bowl except the water. Mix well for about 2 minutes, medium speed works great. Mix in hot water....don't worry if it looks thin, it's supposed to be that way. Pour into prepared pans and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove and allow to cool completely.

Million Dollar Chocolate Icing

3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup real butter, melted
2/3 cup baking cocoa
1/3 cup milk
1 t vanilla extract

After melting the butter, stir in the cocoa. Add the powdered sugar and milk by alternating between the two until it's all mixed in well. Stir in vanilla. This makes about 2 cups of icing. If you'd like to make it a little runny to pour over a bunt cake just add a little more milk but not much.

You can make this a mix by putting all the dry ingredients in a jar or bag and having it ready. Then just add the liquids when your ready.

Now, get out a tall glass of ice cold milk and enjoy!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Chicken Spaghetti

There are probably lots of variations on this recipe but this is the one that's become a favorite with our family. Probably not the most healthy meal on the planet but one that they enjoy and it's easy to make!

2 lb box of spaghetti, cook as directed
1 can of cream of chicken soup
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 can of Rotel (tomatoes with peppers, the "cheap" version will work fine)
1 lb Velveeta cheese
1 lb chicken, cooked and deboned

Melt Velveeta in a double boiler or large microwavable bowl. Stir in soups, Rotel and chicken. Mix well and toss with cooked spaghetti noodles. Salt and pepper to taste.

You may want to add a little milk if you like your sauce a little more runny.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Steak & Veggies

This recipe was adapted from another recipe I have. We added some bell peppers to the mix and the result was great!

2 lbs steak (any cut is fine)
2 large onions, sliced
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 bell peppers, cut in slices
1 can diced tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil or butter

Cut your meat up into serving size pieces. Put oil or butter into a skillet and seer both sides of the meat turning once. Put the onions on top then the salt and pepper. Pour the tomatoes over the top and simmer, covered, on low until the meat is tender. This can take up to an hour depending on the steak.

During the last 15 minutes of cooking, place the bell pepper slices on top. Don't let the peppers cook too much, just until tender.

Remove and serve with Herb Roasted potatoes.

Since the meat is cooked for a longer amount of time you can use cheaper cuts of meat. Try to find it on sale and don't be afraid to purchase meats that are nearing their "sell by" date. If it's close to the date, either cook it in the next few days or freeze it for later use.

This can also be cooked in a crock-pot!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Enchilada Casserole

This recipe has evolved over the last couple of years. It really didn't start out as a recipe. I had some leftover taco meat and re-fried beans after having taco salads and burritos one night.

Our family loves enchiladas but making each individual one and laying them in a pan was time consuming. So....what happens. I decide on trying something new. :) How about a casserole?!

I now make this up, usually several dishes at a time and freeze them. It's a perfect "freezer meal" and I've used them to give to families when we were providing a meal. Most of the time they ask for the recipe! So, here it is!

Enchilada Casserole

Corn tortillas - these are found in the bread isle, not the chip isle
taco meat - leftovers work great
Re-fried beans - canned works great....just water it down a bit to make it spreadable
grated cheddar cheese - or your favorite "Mexican" blend
Picante sauce

Spray your baking dish with cooking spray so nothing sticks. Pour enough Picante sauce in the bottom to cover the bottom of the dish. Place tortillas in one layer to cover the bottom. Spread refried beans on top....then taco meat and finally a layer of cheese. Do this over and over until you have filled your pan or used all your leftovers!

Bake at 350 degrees until everything is hot and bubbly. Serve with spanish rice and/or corn.

Sometimes I'll make up some rice to add to the layers. It really all depends on what you like with your "mexican" foods and how much "leftovers" you had to work with.

I haven't given quanitities with this recipe because I always make it with the leftovers from taco salad and/or burritos. Now, I always make sure I have too much so I can make this because our family likes it so much!

I'm Baaaccckkkk!

Well, I'm back from the far reaches of the basketball world! We've only got one more thing to do and that's the Basketball Banquet and it's only a couple weeks away! Whoo hoo!

During my "off time" I've been learning more and more and hopefully I'll be able to share those things with you.

One thing I have noticed lately and I really think it's only on some items. Some of the prices are going down. I know the price of milk and bread has gone down quite a bit. Do you know of other items? Kind of funny how they all said it was because of the price of gas going up it takes more money to get it to the stores but fuel prices have been down for awhile and I'm only now seeing some of the other prices go back down.

Unfortunately, I think this is a temporary thing since our dollar is being devalued on what seems like a daily basis. Please are still loosing jobs out there so it's not over folks!

In the coming weeks I want to bring some recipes that are low cost and healthy. Some were actually used during the Great Depression so you might find them helpful to stretch your food dollar.

See you soon!

Mavis D.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Ice Storm of 2009

A week or so ago we had an ice storm here in western Arkansas that caused our power to be out for a few days.

On Monday night we were sitting around doing our usual stuff, I was working “online” and the boys were play a little bit of Wii before they went to bed. Then…the power went off. It didn’t get restored until Friday morning but I’d have to say that it was a great learning experience for our family.

Knowing our area, we always are somewhat prepared for power outages but there are some things we found we were not quite as ready as we thought so here are some tips from what we learned.


If you have central heat and air, be sure you have an alternate source of heat. We have a gas fireplace and a large propane tank. Although we use it to “help” the heat pump on really cold nights, the fireplace did an excellent job keeping most of the house comfortable.

Hot water….that was different. We weren’t prepared for that at all and let me tell you…you have not experienced COLD until you wash your hair in ice water! LOL! Our hope is to replace our electric water heater with an “on-demand” gas water heater. This should serve two purposes. First, it would give us an unlimited amount of hot water for our large family and second, it would be more energy efficient since it would only be “on” when we were actually using hot water.

Cooking –

We currently have a Coleman camp stove that we simply place on top of the regular cooking stove. This works “ok” but we don’t like the smell it puts off in the house. We were also unable to bake bread and resorted to eating the stuff from the store (YUCK!). Our plan is to have a small stove similar to those put in camping trailers. We’ll set it up to be “portable” by building a cabinet to put it in and it will probably have wheels to make it easier to move. This is also providing an oven. These can usually be found used for a decent price.

You can also use Sterno cans but we’ve found these a little slow to cook things. Perhaps that’s why they can burn for hours!

My mom and dad, who live next door, just used their outdoor grill. It was funny; it gave her an excuse to “grill” in the winter. 

Another thing that is helpful is to have canned meats and other foods available. These can be home canned or store-bought but anything to help you be a little less dependent on your freezer the better.

Lighting –

We used oil lamps, candles, flashlights and battery powered lamps.

The oil lamps are great for longer periods of time. Be sure to have extra wicks, globes and oil on hand because if your power is out…all the stores will be OUT of these supplies.

Candles are another good choice but be careful if you have children…they seem to attract them like moths! Cheap “emergency” candles can be purchased at most $1 stores for a $1 per box of 10.

Flashlights are great for portable light. I suggest investing in the LED upgrade for your flashlight because it will make the battery last much longer and give an excellent amount of light.

Battery powered lamps are great for temporary lighting but again, I suggest upgrading the bulb to LEDs if possible to make the battery last longer. Also…only purchase the type of lamp that uses common size batteries…that way you can purchase one size of battery to fit several different tools.


If your family is like ours, we like all the electronic gadgets and things but when the power goes out they’re out too….in most cases. You should have several things that can occupy your time. We used board games, cards, dice, coloring, reading, etc. There are lots of things you can play or do as a family and many times this power-outage can bring your family closer together.

Many people believe that harder times are coming and I hope these tips have helped you think about the “little” emergencies. If you’d like more information on preparing for the harder times to come….let me know so I can post things along those lines. I firmly believe that preparation is the key to winning the battle of stress when these things happen.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Young Love

It's really pretty funny the things they do. My little T who is 6 years old has a girl. They are sure they will marry as soon as she "turns 15" and they are "grown up." At least their waiting...right?

Yesterday, we learned that she is loosing her baby teach and she was really concerned about it. With a very serious face, she turned to her mom and ask "Do you think T likes girls with no teeth?"

Now this is really funny when you know that we are from Arkansas. There are just too many jokes about those hillbillies with no teeth. :)

Too funny!

Sweets for the Sweet

My friend, Michelle, requested some recipes for sweets! She’s been waiting a long time for this and I hope you enjoy them as well.

Some of my favorite candy is Reese’s peanut butter cups and Almond Joy candy bars. Here are a couple of recipes that are very similar and best of all, they are easy to make....even our boys can do it!


Peanut Butter Chocolates

½ stick of butter, softened

2 ½ cups of powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup smooth peanut butter (I like Skippy Natural)

½ tsp salt

1 cup milk chocolate or dark chocolate

Mix together butter, peanut butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and salt in a mixing bowl. Blend on medium speed for about 2 minutes until it’s very smooth.

Use a spoon to dip out some of the mixture and form it into quarter sized balls. You can also choose to press the mixture into candy molds if you are going for a specific shape. When you are finished shaping them, cover them with foil and let them chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

While the “filling” is chilling (funny huh?), melt the chocolate. After the filling part has chilled, dip them, one at a time, in the chocolate. Allow a little of the chocolate to drip from them so the chocolate is a thin layer, then place them on a cookie sheet that’s lined with wax paper or parchment paper.

Chill them again to set the chocolate. When they are firm, serve.

Chocolate Coconut Candies

4 cups powdered sugar

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 tbsp vanilla

1 (12oz) package, flake coconut

1 stick butter, melted

12 oz pkg. chocolate chips (milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate)

½ block of paraffin (optional)

Mix together sugar, milk, vanilla, and coconut. Add butter and mix well. Form into desired shapes or press into candy molds. Chill overnight or for several hours.

Melt chocolate and paraffin in a double boiler. Dip candy and place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or wax paper.

The paraffin is option, I personally don’t use it but it does leave the chocolate a little softer.

If you want the candy to taste like Almond Joy (without the almond) then use milk chocolate chips. If you want it to taste like Mounds candy, use semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I know...

I know....I've left you hanging. Life has gotten busy around here and it doesn't leave much time for my hobby....writing here.

Our boys are in the middle of basketball season so it's keeping us running. We're also getting ready for "Nationals" and our year end banquet.

So...all that to say, please be patient with me. :)

By the way, I hope you all can help me. My family really likes the Kraft Coleslaw dressing but I am trying to find a recipe that comes close to it's flavor. Do you have any good suggestions? Leave a comment and let's see your recipe!