Coffee Time - The Difference between City Roast and French Roast


We are still so cold today. I think that our high was about 5 above. We do have lovely snow on the ground and it looks like a white Christmas for sure. To celebrate the cold temps I will continue to post about something that never ceases to warm me body and soul, coffee.
In my last 4 posts I discussed the joys and how to's of roasting your own coffee at home.
But how do you know which level of roast you will like the best? Experimentation is always a great way to go. Since you roast in small batches it is easy to roast and taste different roasts and see which one you like best. There are many terms used to describe the various roasts from the lightest brown to the darkest almost charcoal bean. Below is a list of roasts from my favorite coffee sight - Sweet Marias.

Roast Names
List of roast names from lightest to darkest:
1. Light Cinnamon
Very light brown, dry , tastes like toasted grain with distinct sour tones, baked, bready
2. Cinnamon
Light brown and dry, still toasted grain with distinct sour acidy tones
3. New England
Moderate light brown , still sour but not bready, the norm for cheap Eastern U.S. coffee
4. American or Light
Medium light brown, the traditional norm for the Eastern U.S .
5. City, or Medium
Medium brown, the norm for most of the Western US, good to taste varietal character of a bean.
6. Full City
Medium dark brown with some slight oily drops, good for varietal character with a little bittersweet.
7. Light French, or Espresso
Moderate dark brown with oily drops, light surface oil, more bittersweet, caramelly flavor, acidity muted.
8. French
Dark brown oily, shiny with oil, also popular for espresso; burned undertones, acidity diminished
9. Italian or Dark French
Very dark brown very shiny, burned tones become more distinct, acidity almost gone.
10. Spanish
Very dark brown, nearly black and very shiny, charcoal tones dominate, flat.

Do you have your roaster yet? Have you bought some green beans? Baby it's cold outside, roast yourself some coffee!
Add to Technorati Favorites

Coffee Time - The Easy Way to Roast Coffee at Home



Another cold day in the Pacific Northwest. We are expecting snow soon and very cold temps. What a wonderful time of year to enjoy a rich warm cup of coffee. Of course in our house, anytime of the year is coffee time. I explained in my post, Shoestring Savings - Coffee Time, why we started roasting our own coffee. Then in my next two posts, Home Roasted Coffee Time and I Would Sell My Cow For a Bag of These Beans, I discussed the roaster that we use and where we buy our green coffee beans. Today let's talk about how to roast.

As I've mentioned before there are lots of different methods for home roasting but the method that we have found to be the most economical and the easiest is to roast with a hot air popcorn popper.

You will need:
  • 1 hot air popcorn popper. Remember to buy the poppers with the air vents in the cylinder and not the popper with the screen in the bottom.
  • About 1/2 cup of green coffee beans. Use the same measure of beans that you would use for popcorn.
  • A bowl to catch the chaff, if you are roasting in the house. We roast outside so we just let the chaff blow away.
  • A colander.
Where to Roast:
You can roast inside but the beans will smoke during the roasting process so be sure and roast in a place where the smoke can vent out. We prefer to roast outside. That way we don't have to worry about the smoke and the chaff can blow away and be swept up later.

How to Roast Using a Hot Air Popcorn Popper:

  1. Place the popper outside on a table near an outlet. Note - popper will not roast very well if the temperature around the machine is too cold. The machine sucks in the cold air. If it is below about 40 degrees, place the popper in a small box, big enough to allow some air to flow around the popper. We use the kind of box that two gallons of milk come in. Cut a small hole for the power cord to go through.
  2. Pour 1/2 cup of green coffee beans into the popper.
  3. Place the cover on the popper, including the butter dish.
  4. Place a small to medium size bowl below the chute to catch to chaff or just let it blow away in the wind.
  5. Turn on the popper.
  6. In approx. 2 to 2 1/2 min. you will smell fragrant smoke ( I think that it smells like brownies) then you will begin to hear the first crack which sounds like popcorn popping. If you like a lighter roast, start watching you beans now. Pull the beans just before they reach the color of roast that you like as they will continue to roast a little as they cool.
  7. The first crack will subside and in another couple of minutes you will start to hear the second crack. The second crack sounds like rice crispies snap, crackle, popping in milk. If you like a darker roast start watching your beans now. This is the place where you will get a darker French Roast. You will also see more smoke at this point. This is normal, don't panic. During the peak of the second crack, the beans are usually a dark brown with some oils starting to show.
  8. When the beans have reached the desired roast, about 4 minutes for lighter roasts and six minutes for darker roasts, stop the popper, pour them into the colander and stir with a wooden spoon or swirl them around to cool and stop the roasting process.
  9. You can grind and brew as soon as the beans are cool enough not to melt your grinder. I always like to make a pot right away, but the maximum taste is achieved after they have set for about 4 hours to overnight.
  10. When the beans are completely cool store in an airtight container out of direct light. The experts say not to store in your fridge or freezer.
  11. For the best fresh taste use your beans within five days and then roast some more.
  12. For more information on popcorn popper roasting, visit one of my favorite coffee sites Sweet Maria's.
See how easy it is to have fresh, rich, deliciously affordable coffee?
Coffee Time posts still to come: The Difference between City Roast and French Roast, What's the Deal With Decaf.






Add to Technorati Favorites

Coffee Time - I would sell my cow for a bag of these beans


My last post, Home Roasted Coffee Time, discussed our discovery of roasting green coffee beans with a hot air popcorn popper. I know that it sounds strange but it really does work. Since we only spent $10 on our roaster, now we need to find affordable green coffee beans.

The wonderful thing about home roasting is that the green beans can be bought in bulk, the larger the quantity the lower the price. Large quantities of beans can be stored in a burlap sack or paper bag in a dark cool spot and will last for a year or more.

Two of our favorite sites that carry green coffee beans are Gotcha Coffee and Sweet Marias. Both offer good quality beans and excellent customer service. If you love to Ebay it's a great place to buy green beans. We have been very successful watching the auctions and bidding on beans. Just remember whenever you buy online you have to figure shipping costs into your final cost per pound to see if you getting a good deal and saving money.

Our goal was to always get beans for less than $5 a pound and most of the time we were successful. One day we chanced on the mother load of green coffee beans. We were in a Costco that had a commercial roaster in the store. Next to the roaster was a small sign that said that they sold green coffee beans and to inquire at customer service for a price. We asked at the desk and couldn't believe what they told us - $60 for a 30 pound box was the average price. Have you done the math? That's $2 a pound! Of course, $60 is a big chunk of change to plunk down at once for beans but 30 pounds of coffee will last the average coffee drinker quite a while. Costco carries a good variety of beans and, so far, we have found them to be of good quality. If $60 (more or less) sounds daunting, go in with a group of home roasting friends and share the cost.

I've told you where to get the roaster and where to get the beans. My next post will discuss the extremely uncomplicated how to of Home Roasting.

image by stock.xchng
Add to Technorati Favorites

Shoestring Savings - Home Roasted Coffee Time


In my last post, Shoestring Savings - Coffee Time, I wrote about a great way to economically take care of your coffee fix - Home Roasting. In this slow economic time we need to find ways to save money and still maintain the things that give us joy.

In our home one of those joyful pleasures is coffee.

Home roasting your own coffee is really quite easy. You only need two ingredients - green beans and a roaster. There are many coffee roasters available online. I haven't seen many in the mainstream stores like Target or Walmart but gourmet cooking stores carry them. The problem with these kind of home roasters is that they are expensive. We keep thinking that we will someday invest in one of these more pricey roasters. They do have their perks: you can set the roast level, there is a timer that let's you know when the beans have reached the level of roast that you desire, some of them have a place that allows the smoke to escape. Yes, a nifty expensive roaster that looks cool sitting on my counter would be nice to have, but we are shoestring people and we need to do what's the most cost effective.

The first time we tried roasting we tried it in the oven. Do Not Try This At Home! We followed the directions carefully but the part that said that the beans will smoke a little was clearly an understatement. Our house filled with greenish smoke and we found out that all of our smoke detectors functioned very well. Further research led us to a site that suggested roasting green coffee beans in a hot air popcorn popper. We searched our area for the right kind of hot air popcorn popper and found that there are two kinds of poppers available. One popper has a screen in the bottom. You do not want to use this kind because the oils from the roasted beans will clog up the screen causing it to cease to function (and with my luck, start a fire). The other kind of popper has air vents in the side of the cylinder. This is the kind that you want to use.

We searched high and low for the right popcorn popper at the right price and finally found one at Walgreens for only $10. Sometimes Walgreens has a rebate on these poppers and you can get them for $6. What a deal!

So, now we have the roaster. In my next post I'll tell you where to get the best prices on coffee beans.

Image by stock.xchng
Add to Technorati Favorites

Shoestring Savings - Coffee Time


Happy December! It is 19 degrees and much colder today than the last time that I posted, July 2. It is a sunny morning and from the window of my office I can look out over my favorite tree which is sparkling with ice like diamonds in the sun. I'm very glad to be drinking this warm rich cup of coffee.
In our home coffee is the essence of warmth and comfort. Not just any coffee. Certainly not the kind that you buy in the store and have to open with a can opener or pull the foil off the top. Noooo, not that kind of coffee. Years ago we discovered how much better a cup of coffee is when you buy good beans, grind them yourself and make a fresh pot. Unfortunately this can also be expensive. The price of whole beans has continued to rise. Even the lesser quality beans have gone up to almost $10 a pound. What are poor coffee consumers to do?

About a year ago my husband came upon a solution, Home Roasting. We found out that buying green coffee beans and roasting them ourselves can save us up to $8 per pound! That is a significant shoestring savings. I'll tell you more about how we roast at home in my upcoming posts.

image by stock.xchng
Add to Technorati Favorites

Shoestring Travel -Costa Rica on a Quarter



Recently some friends of mine, Zack and LeeAnn, celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary in Costa Rica. What made this a Shoestring Travel experience was the unique, and I think brilliant, way that they paid for their trip. I asked LeeAnn to write a post so that the rest of us can learn their secret.




Costa Rica on a Quarter

Well, not just one quarter. But one quarter at a time, saved up in a peanut butter jar...
Last year my husband and I spent seven days in Costa Rica, snorkeling, soaking in the tropical sun, exploring the jungle canopy on zip-lines, sitting under hot waterfalls near a volcano, and listening to howler monkeys scream us to sleep. It was the vacation of our dreams, to celebrate our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. Now international flights and fancy hotels are not normally in our budget, and we did not go into one penny of debt for this fabulous trip. Here's how we did it.
Our strategy was long-term and two-pronged. The first prong involved repeatedly filling a peanut butter jar with quarters. Long, long ago (or at least a hundred years ago, as net savvy teens say today) we started saving dimes out of our pocket change, toward a tenth anniversary celebration. This worked really well, and we were able to book a nice bed and breakfast and pamper ourselves silly, while a friend watched our small children overnight.
We then decided that we should save quarters toward our twenty-fifth anniversary. Who knew how much bed & breakfasts might go up in fifteen years? We started in, one quarter at a time, every day or two sorting them out from our pockets and purses and piles on the dresser, and plunking them in the jar. Whenever the jar was full, we rolled the coin, and carried it down to the bank, where it went in a special savings account. When the balance was sufficient, we bought savings bonds. Turns out a peanut butter jar holds about $100 in quarters. That adds up significantly faster than dimes!
The second prong of our strategy was plastic. We used our credit card for everything we possibly could, every day. This required strict discipline, of course, and I wouldn't recommend you try it if you haven't sufficient self-control. I kept track of each charge just as I would a check written on our account, and deducted the amount of each charge from the balance in our checking account. This ensured that we didn't overspend, and had the money to pay the bill in full.
We always paid off the balance in full each month, so we were not in debt and paid no interest. We just put groceries, gas, and miscellaneous everyday purchases on the credit card instead of paying cash or writing a check. Many stores don't even accept checks anymore, but every little espresso stand takes credit cards. We also paid our insurance bills, our propane bills, and our medical bills with our card. I even made our regular contributions to charities and missionary organizations in this fashion.
Every transaction added air fare points (or reward points in our case) to our account. By the time we were ready to plan the trip, we had enough reward points to completely pay for our two round trip tickets to Costa Rica. In fact, we picked Costa Rica as a destination, a little more exotic than we might have dared otherwise, in part because we had the points for international tickets!
So, with quarters transformed first into savings, then savings bonds, and then finally into traveler's checks, and our air fare “free”, we headed very far south and enjoyed every minute of our week in the sun (in January!), knowing we were not digging a debt hole with every pina colada and souvenir purchase. Hotels, rental car, meals, excursion fees, all paid for, one quarter at a time.

Images by stock.xchng
Add to Technorati Favorites

Key to Shoestring Savings - Patience, Patience, Patience

is one of my favorite movies. Last Sunday a line from that movie kept running through my brain, "In your patience possess ye your souls."
Do you remember the scene? The band has just finished recording their first record and the lead singer asks when they will get the finished product. The recording technician answers, "In your patience possess ye your souls." The bass guitarist says, "Luke" (the quote is from the Gospel of Luke - 21:19 KJV) and the other guitarist - the comedian - looks confused and says, "Luke? Who's Luke?"

Why does this Biblical movie quote have significance for the frugal lifestyle? Because if we are patient and willing to wait, the things that we need and want will come our way in an affordable manner.
Case in point:
The really-cool-super-comfortable-much-wanted-dog hair proof-leather couch.
We have been wanting a leather couch for oh so long. The couch that was in our living room was actually very comfortable in a worn missing one leg balanced on phone books kind of way but it was really time to replace it. Of course, the problem was that all of the leather couches that we liked were very expensive. For people trying to live a frugal lifestyle our tastes are quite high end. The key to finding what you want on a Shoestring budget is patient and diligent searching. So we kept our eyes out for the people who wanted to give us the expensive couch for not very much money.
On Sunday we stopped at a furniture store that was having a tent sale because my husband said that he thought that they had leather couches. I wasn't really very excited about stopping. The draw back to patient diligent searching is that the search becomes a way of life and you think that the object of your search is always down the road and never where you are. Right at the front of the tent was a most wonderful leather couch. I still wasn't very excited. This was kind of a pricey store and we had seen similar couches for a little under $2,000. In fact, the salesperson said that it had been on the floor for $1,700.
"The leather is quite dry," she said.
"And quite wet," I replied noticing the damp spots as a result of a recent rain shower.
"How much?" my husband asked.
"$400." the salesperson answered.
This was followed by an exchange of looks between my husband and myself that communicated - did you hear what she just said? - Can we afford this? - How can we pass up such a great deal?
Now, after drying the wet spots with a blow dryer and rubbing copious amounts of conditioner into the leather, we have the really-cool-super-comfortable-much-wanted-dog hair proof-leather couch sitting in our living room.
Hooray for Luke!

Here is our lovely new couch.
Add to Technorati Favorites

Simple Shoestring Pleasures



I just read a post by Christina at Northern Cheapskate entitled Why a Recession is Good For Us. She has a wonderful glass-half-full attitude. There is so much to learn about ourselves, our families, neighbors and communities when we have to think before we spend. When my husband and I first got married, like many newlywed couples, we were so very broke. My grandmother used to say that we didn't have two pennies to rub together. We always tried to keep the basics in our cupboards - flour, milk, eggs, baking soda, butter, ect. - because when all else fails you can always make pancakes.
When we were really feeling broke and needed something to boost our morale we would play Find the Change. You know the game - how much change is in the bottom of your purse, under the couch cushions or spilled out on the dresser? The goal was to collect enough coins (yes,pennies count) to buy a bag of chocolate chips. Then off to the store to purchase our prize and home again to bake our scrumptious indulgence. What fun we would have making the treat together and, of course, eating as many cookies in dough as we actually baked. No matter how empty the bank account, eating fresh hot chocolate chip cookies with a glass of cold milk or a cup of coffee always made me feel rich. Still does!
Today, as everyone is feeling the economic crunch, it's important to remember the simple things that make life fun. So, just for practice, even if you have a million dollars in the bank, play the game. See if you can find enough change to treat the family to a Simple Shoestring Pleasure.

Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup flour mixed with 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cups flour
1 package chocolate chips

Cream butter and shortening together. Add sugars and beat until fluffy. Add eggs, flour mixed with cinnamon, baking soda and vanilla. Mix until well combined. Taste dough. Beat in remaining flour. Taste dough. Stir in chocolate chips. Taste dough.
Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8 - 10 min. until cookies are lightly brown around the edges. Remove cookies from oven, eat a cookie, then cool the rest on a rack.

Images by stock.xchng
Add to Technorati Favorites

Shoestring Wedding - You can afford your cake and eat it too! part 2


In my April 30 post, Shoestring Wedding-You can afford your cake and eat it too! I talked about my daughter's idea for an affordable wedding cake. To recap- she plans to order a small layered cake from an independently owned bakery that is just branching out into special occasion cakes. I love the concept of helping local businesses. Obviously the small cake wont feed the 150 some guests that will be expecting a piece of celebratory confection so we needed to come up with an equally affordable wedding guest treat.
My husband found the solution. While surfing the web he came upon Bakerella's blog. Her post for that day featured a truffle like treat called Cakeballs. They are so easy and fun to make and absolutely delicious and best of all the simple ingredients make them very pocket book friendly.

I am making some test cakeballs this weekend and will take a picture of my efforts.

Images by stock.xchng
Add to Technorati Favorites

Mom 4 Life







There is a young mother that I very much admire. When she decided to be a stay at home mom she still wanted to supplement their income so she started a wonderfully fun online store,
Mom 4 Life. Whether you are a new mother or a grandmother, visiting Heather's store is a treat. Recently Heather had a very hard thing come into her life and the life of her family. Her blog tells of her loss and the hope and strength that she has in her Saviour Jesus. I have been moved, inspired and strengthened through her heartfelt sharing. I hope that you will take some time to visit ( and shop ) Mom 4 Life and Heather's blog.
Here is what Heather says about Mom 4 Life:
Mom 4 Life.com is a unique website specializing in products that are 100% mom invented. Started by a mom of two in 2003, Heather Ledeboer has grown Mom 4 Life at a breathtaking speed. Her website now offers over 900 products. Ledeboer is passionate about being a mom and has built her business around her children’s sleep schedule and hired employees when Mom 4 Life experiences growth spurts in order to allow her to be a stay at home mom (her original goal when starting her business). Desiring to help other moms in business, Heather searches out products that are new, unique to the market and (most importantly) comprised from the handiwork of a mother. Knowing how difficult it can be to take a new product and get it in front of the target audience, Mom 4 Life steps in to do just that successfully marketing products by moms (over 250 of them), for moms. Not only passionate about helping moms in business, Heather also seeks to help moms in need. Mom 4 Life donates 10% of its proceeds to local pregnancy centers. Heather believes that it when you are blessed, you are called to be a blessing to others. Helping moms is the way that she feels compelled to fulfill that calling.”
Add to Technorati Favorites

Shoestring Wedding - You can afford your cake and eat it too!


Wedding magazines and books are full of pictures of wedding cakes. I actually love to look at them. I love what they are doing with the frosting now and the real flowers and the different shapes and vibrant colors. But have you seen how much a wedding cake costs?!!! You could pay for your honeymoon for the price of the cake. Maybe that's a small exaggeration, but it's not too far off. My wonderfully frugal daughter came up with a very cent saving idea for her wedding cake.
She often frequents a small independently owned bakery in the downtown area of our community. They have started to branch out into selling special occasion cakes. Since they are just starting out, their prices are very reasonable so our soon-to-be-bride ordered a small version of a wedding cake from them. Since the bakery is small, they pay special attention to quality and the little touches and since wedding cakes are a new venture for them the hope is that they will go out of their way to produce a quality product. This way she is saving money and supporting a small business.

Now, a small wedding cake will not feed all of the guests. I'll tell you about our delicious solution to this dilemma in my next Shoestring Wedding post.
Add to Technorati Favorites

Shoestring Entertaining - Ice Cream Cake that's fit for a dairy queen


Ice Cream Cake is such a treat for a birthday or graduation. But those cool cakes can be pretty pricey at Dairy Queen or Baskin Robbins. Here is a recipe from my mom that is delicious, elegant, and best of all Frugal.







Ice Cream Cake

You will need:

  • Cake mix - your choice
  • Brick of ice cream- your choice
  • Large carton Cool Whip.
  • Your favorite hot fudge or caramel sauce.
  • Your favorite candies or sprinkles and nuts.

Line 13" x 9" cake pan with foil. Make sure the foil comes over the sides so you can easily take cake out of the pan.

Spray foil with Pam.

Follow directions on cake mix package and pour the batter into the foil lined pan. Bake.

Let it cool.

Using the foil, remove the cake from the pan.

Cut the cake into two layers using a string of dental floss.

Cut ice cream in slices and lay on top of bottom layer.

Cover the ice cream with candy, fudge sauce or whatever you’re hungry for.

Put top layer back on and freeze.

Before serving take out of the pan and put on serving tray.

Cover the entire cake with cool whip. Add nuts, sprinkles etc..

It will look so great your friends will want to know which ice cream store you picked it up at. You will enjoy the compliment and happily be counting the money you saved..

Image by stock.xchng

Add to Technorati Favorites

Shoestring Beauty - 52 Card Workout


It's almost summer and that means .....sigh.....swimsuit time. It's time to work off the effects of winter. The stores are brimming over with exercise equipment guaranteed to shape you up and slim you down. Unfortunately those miracles are expensive. I think that we'll all agree that joining a gym costs money - sometimes lots of money. Work out videos and exercise classes can cost a pretty penny, too. Don't despair! Here is a great workout that only costs as much as a deck of cards. My son introduced this 52 Card Workout to me when he was home for break and far from the exercise facilities at the U of I.

Here's how it works:
  1. Shuffle the deck.
  2. Draw two cards until the value of the cards is over 10 ( aces are 20, face cards are 10 )
  3. Complete that many jumping jacks, push ups, and sit ups then rest for that many seconds.
  4. Discard those cards and draw new cards.
  5. Continue drawing cards and exercising until you make it all the way through the deck.
  6. You can treat jokers as wild cards i.e. an extra 20 seconds of rest that you can play whenever you want or double the value of the last card or just count the joker as a face card or ace.
Make it a family affair and workout together, taking turns drawing the cards.
When you first start out you may only be able to make it through a portion of the deck, but don't give up. Soon you'll have a 30 -40 minute strengthening and cardio workout.

How are you getting ready for swimsuit season?
Add to Technorati Favorites

Shoestring Parenting - Building Self Esteem

Be A STAR!

As parents we want to help our children learn to love and appreciate the special people that they are created to be. We also want the members of our family to learn to love and support each other. Here is a great project from Miss Kay. Though she describes the process in a classroom setting it is easy to make this work in our families as well. So, go ahead - be a STAR.

Some of the awesome requirements of a kindergarten teacher are to teach their students to have confidence in themselves and how to get along with their classmates. I found that this book that we put together on Fridays was one way to develop my goals and it also became a treasure for each child.

During the school year every student was given a chance to be STAR for one week. He was given special jobs and privileges during the week and a book to take home written and illustrated by his classmates. In preparation for making the book we brainstormed kind words we could use to describe that child, such as: kind, caring, loving, thoughtful, helpful, dependable, trusting, unselfish, sharing, sweet, smart, handsome, cute, etc. We also talked about what the child was good at like: running, jumping, singing writing, sharing, listening, drawing, reading building, acting etc. Each child was then given an 8.5 x11 piece of paper. They each drew a picture of the STAR with colorful markers. As they worked I wrote a sentence across the bottom of each page, dictated by the artist, about the STAR. {As the year progressed some of the students could do their own writing.} I made a special cover beforehand, but that could also be the job of the STAR .We stapled all of the pages together and read the book as a group. Imagine how proud each child was of his page and how thrilled the STAR was to listen to all these kind words and to get to take the book home and read it with his family.

I can also see this as a family project, perhaps at birthday time. I believe it could mean more than a very expensive gift. Think of your own creative ways to make this project happen. What a perfect way to show love and appreciation to each other. Don’t get up tight about your drawing. Stick figures work just fine .For very little money you could even have it coil bound and laminated at an office supply store. What a wonderful keepsake!!!!!

Miss Kay is a retired Kindergarten teacher (and my wonderful mother). She believes in creative hands-on learning. For more ideas from Miss Kay click on Ideas from Miss Kay under Shoestring Parenting Projects and Ideas.

image by stock.xchng
Add to Technorati Favorites

Shoestring Recycling - the pantyhose stretch


I love it when friends share their shoestring ideas. My friend Lois offers this advice for stretching the life of a pair of pantyhose.

When I was in my teens, back in the '70's, pantyhose were still a relatively new product. The old garter-belt style stockings actually stayed up better (most of the time), and if one stocking got a run in it, I just replaced the one defective stocking and saved the other new one for the next disaster. As long as I bought the same color all the time, this worked well! Pantyhose presented a new problem, because it seemed as if the entire thing had to be replaced when one run got out of control. But my parents had survived the Great Depression, and making do was Standard Operating Procedure in our household. I decided to cut off the damaged pantyhose leg and save the good one until I had a mate for it from the next major run or snag. This didn't always work out right away; sometimes I'd end up with several right legs and no lefts, or vice versa. But eventually it seemed to work out, and I didn't have to buy new ones so often. It meant wearing two "panty" sections at once, one over the other, but I didn't really mind at the time, because it all seemed to stay up better that way.
In recent years, I haven't worn nylons nearly as much as I did back then, so I haven't bothered to do all that. Besides, I seem to wear the entire pair out all at once!! But if I was wearing pantyhose all the time, and wanted to save some money, I certainly could go back to that goofy system once again.

This is a great idea and you can always recycle the cut-off leg by using it to make a Nifty Nylon Deodorant Nixer.

How do you get extra wear out of a pair of pantyhose?

Image by stock.xchng
Add to Technorati Favorites

Free Jewelery! You're Kidding! No, it's really free! (plus shipping)










We recently celebrated our anniversary. My husband bought me a beautiful pair of earrings; amethyst stones in a sterling silver setting. Knowing how much I love a good deal my husband said, "Should I tell you how much I spent on them?" "Of course," I answered. "They were free!" he said with a grin.
Now, I love free - especially when the quality is good. The truth of the matter is that you have to pay $5.99 for shipping. Still, it's a great deal. I looked up the earrings in the store's catalog and they list for $49.00. So I decided to tell my friends and neighbors and become an associate.

The way this site works is that they display a different piece of jewelery every 10 - 12 minutes. You can see what's coming up and have them alert you when a specific piece will be on sale. Enjoy something lovely for free. Click on through the ad above or at the top of the sidebar and find out how beautiful free can be.
Add to Technorati Favorites

Shoestring Wedding - Elegant Frugality


My daughter is getting married this summer. We have been having such fun designing a wedding that fits her and her fiance's personalities and is still affordable and fun. We have made some fantastic finds on the sale racks and in the creativity department. I have asked her to write a post about how things are going so far and I will keep you up to date with new shoestring wedding developments.

Here is what Britta has to say:
Summer is quickly approaching and with that my wedding day. With the wedding comes much planning and much purchasing. My mom and I have been on the prowl for unique ways to make all my wedding day dreams
come true in an affordable fashion.

Wedding gown: Our first goal was to scout out various bridal boutiques to get a handle on which style and shades of white worked for me.
On our second trip into the bridal unknown we visited a bridal boutique that had both a main store and an outlet store. Being the ultimate deal seekers that we are, we stopped by the outlet store first. It was there that we purchased two wedding gowns for under two hundred dollars! Our thought was to give me a little extra time to choose between the dresses and then potentially make a little extra money on the resale of the dress that I didn't choose.

Bridesmaid dresses: The dresses...well, they have been our best buy yet.
At JC Penny we found three fabulous gowns in each of my three wedding colors on clearance for a total of nine dollars - yes, you heard right, that's $3 a piece. I have to admit that I lucked out in this arena with three brides maids who are very similar in size which made it simple to find dresses for all three. However, I am confident that the real key to this find was the fact that I was open to be influenced by the sale racks.

My parents are known among family and friends for their imagination and ability to creatively make things happen. For instance....

Seating for the wedding: We are having an outdoor wedding. Since seating is often a problem at outdoor weddings, we have come up with an affordable and colorful solution. My dad and friends will be making benches and painting them my three wedding colors with paint purchased from our local Habitat for Humanity for $5 a gallon. The paint was a perfect match which just goes to show that if you keep your eyes out you are bound to find what you want for the right price.

Wedding favors: For the last coup!
For about a year my parents have been mastering the skill of roasting their own coffee. For one of my wedding favors we will be offering freshly roasted coffee. So, for about three dollars a pound for pre-roasted green beans we have a unique, delicious, and affordable option to offer our coffee loving guests!

These are just a few cost effective finds that we have crossed off our list but we will be sure to update you with our future deals as the big day gets closer and closer!

Do you have any ideas about how to put on an elegantly frugal wedding?

Image by stock.xchng
Add to Technorati Favorites

Shoestring Meals - Feeding a crowd


Have you ever been faced with the dilemma of feeding a group of teenagers? When my oldest son was turning 18 we wanted to have a birthday party for him. I thought we'd invite a few of his friends and have pizza. He ended up inviting every person that he had ever spoken to (not really, it just seemed that way). We couldn't afford that much pizza. We knew that the kids were going to be hungry and we didn't want them to think that the party was lame. So, we had to find an affordable yet teen approved alternative.
My husband remembered that his mother used to make these Cheezy Sandwiches. He said that they were great; his friends always loved them. So I said - Let's give them a try.

At first I was skeptical of the strange combination of ingredients, but after trying one I was sold and so were the kids. During the party I put a big bowl of the sandwiches on the counter and left the room. When I came back, just a few minutes later, the bowl was almost empty. Standing next to the bowl was a visiting exchange student from Japan named Yoshi. I asked Yoshi what had happened to all of the sandwiches and he jiggled his tummy and said, "They're in here". Ever since we have always called these sandwiches Little Yoshi's.
The recipe makes about 2 dozen so double it or triple it for a crowd.

Little Yoshis (or Cheezy Sandwiches)
  • 1 lb Cheddar Cheese
  • 3 chopped up hard boiled eggs (No, I'm not kidding. You really put hard boiled eggs in these.)
  • 1 4 oz can chopped olives or about 1/2 cup of olives that you chop yourself
  • 3 green onions finely chopped
  • 1 can tomato sauce (we like to use pizza sauce)
  • 24 Potato Rolls (Potato rolls work best but we have used all kinds of rolls, even hamburger buns. Whatever is on sale - or, if you have time, bake your own rolls)
  • foil

  1. Heat oven to 250 degrees
  2. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Slice rolls 3/4 of the way and stuff with a spoonful of cheese mixture.
  4. Wrap each roll in foil and place rolls in oven for 15 - 20 minutes or until cheese is melted. You can place the rolls directly on the oven racks.
  5. Place all of the foil wrapped sandwiches in a bowl and serve warm.
  6. If you have left overs, store them in the fridge and warm them in a 250 oven.
I wish that I had a picture of these yummy sandwiches but I haven't made them in a while. I think that it's time for another party!

image by stock.xchng
Add to Technorati Favorites

Shoestring Parenting - Books Offer Cover to Cover Learning


Another Great idea from Miss Kay

I treasure the times that I have spent snuggled on the couch reading to my children. Good picture books can be found for free at your local library or for very little at thrift stores or garage sales. Start a book sharing group with other parents. Whatever it takes get a book in your child's hands and read together.

Here is a wonderful insight from Miss Kay into the value of books for teaching the emerging reader.

It wasn’t until I studied to be a kindergarten teacher that I began to understand why educators stressed so strongly the importance of reading to your preschooler. I only thought of it as a wonderful closeness and bonding time and that they would learn to love books and want to learn to read themselves. I hadn’t thought about the fact that my preschooler was emerging as a reader and that there were many concepts he was learning in preparation for the real thing. Just think of all the seemingly simple but necessary concepts your child can learn as you share this precious time.

1. This is called a book.

2. The book has a front and a back.

3. We start at the front.

4. Each page has a top and a bottom.

5. The pages are in a certain order.

6. The book has a title, author and illustrator.

7. The little marks on the pages are called letters.

8. Each mark has a special name.

9. Each mark has it’s own special sound.

10.The letters go together to make words.

11.There are spaces between the words.

12. We say the words from left to right to tell the story.

13. The pictures help to tell the story.

14. The pictures give us clues to figure out what the words say.

If all this is so, it makes sense that we start with very simple rhyming books with few words that repeat themselves throughout the book. This is so important because the attention span of a preschooler is short and because these concepts can naturally be taught. Point to the words as you read them. As you move along from left to right your child will soon want to try it too. After reading it a few times, your child will remember what each page says by looking at the pictures and remembering the rhymes. Soon, you’ll find him reading the book himself. Of course he has memorized it, but think how he is emerging as a reader. What an accomplishment that is to him. He says “Look, I can read.” and you say “Wow! That is wonderful! How do you feel about that?” You have begun to build his confidence . Continue to follow this pattern. Ask questions as you read. What will happen next? Why is this happening? Where are they going?
What things look the same or different?

The most important thing to remember is that each develops at his or her own unique pace.

HAVE FUN!!!!!! DON’T PUSH!!!!!!! ENJOY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Miss Kay is a retired kindergarten teacher. Her approach to learning is always creative and hands on.

For more great books and activities visit my StoryTime blog Wondersome StoryTime.

Image by stock.xchng

Add to Technorati Favorites

Shoestring Savings -Getting the most gas for the gallon



My friend Janelle is traveling to the coast this week. (Yes, I'm very jealous!) While she was listening to the radio she heard an interview with a man who runs the pipeline in California and he gave some tips on how to get the most gas at the gas pumps. Here are a few of the tips from the interview as relayed by Janelle:



  • Put gas in your car during the coolest part of the day because you get less fumes that way and more actual liquid gas.
  • The nozzles have this kickback mechanism for vapors and while you are filling your tank the vapors kick back into the hose after they come out and you've paid for them. To counteract that, fill on the lowest setting. The slower the gas comes out, the less vapor you will have and the more gas will stay in your tank.
  • Also, (and I've heard this before) you get better gas mileage if you keep your tank above 1/2. Don't wait for it to get on E before you fill it. Gas dissipates at a rate you wouldn't believe and the more air in your tank, the faster it dissipates and you lose gas.
All of these little tricks will help your gas go farther.

Thanks Janelle!

How do you stretch your gasoline dollar?


Image by stock.xchng
Add to Technorati Favorites

Shoestring Parenting - Educational Socks


Recently while I was folding the laundry I looked at a pair of socks with new eyes. Suddenly this pair of brightly colored foot ware wasn't just for keeping my feet warm or showing perky colors through my black mary janes, they were educational. There is a lot that you can teach your children using a pair of socks.
  • Colors
  • Counting by ones and twos
  • Sorting
  • Greater than/less than – Who has the most pairs of socks? Who has the least pairs of socks?
  • Multiplication – if you have 5 pairs of socks how many single socks do you have? 5 x 2 = 10.
  • Fine motor skills as they fold the socks into pairs.
  • Problem solving skills – We only have one of Daddy’s black socks, where do you think the other one is?
  • Writing and reading – take all of the single socks (if your family’s anything like mine you have quite a collection), help your child make a wanted poster for the missing socks and hang it in the laundry room.
  • Art – make sock puppets or stuff them and make caterpillars. Then read The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.
I love educational toys. The bright colors and fun noises and all of the promises of pre-this and pre-that skills just suck me in. The major problem with these toys is that often they are soooooo expensive. You could really go broke buying all of the gizmos that promise to educate your children. But Educational Socks – I can afford those.

Another affordable household learning item is paperclips. My mother, a retired kindergarten teacher, uses Paperclip Math.
What other household item can turn an everyday chore into a teachable moment?

image by stock.xchng
Add to Technorati Favorites

Shoestring Beauty - Recycling Nylons


Pantyhose and I have a love hate relationship. On one hand, I love to put on a fresh pair with a really sassy set of heals. On the other hand, I can never get through a single wearing without a snag or a run. Then I have to baby them along with hairspray and fingernail polish so that I can wear them, if I'm lucky, maybe two more times - three if my skirt is long enough to cover most of the run. Ultimately the run wins out and I have to throw them away. It seems like such a waste. Every time I throw another pair away I wonder, "What could I do to recycle nylons?" Recently my daughter gave me the answer.
We've all had this problem - You are getting dressed and as you pull on that favorite shirt or little black dress you realize that your deodorant has left big white smudges. You're in a hurry, and if you try to wash them off you end up with big wet spots. So, you pull the smudged clothing off in frustration and end up wearing something else that never makes you as happy as your first outfit.


Solution - Take an old pair of nylons and cut off the legs. Take one leg and stuff most of it into the toe. Then take the other leg and stuff all of it into the toe of the first leg. Tie off the end and you have a Nifty Nylon Deodorant Nixer (or in layman's terms, something that will wipe off the deodorant marks). It really works great! Just rub your nylon ball on the mark and it comes right off. Be a little creative and stuff lighter nylons with something colorful then add some pretty ribbon and you have a lovely and functional gift.
Add to Technorati Favorites

The Amazing Wonders of Baking Soda


My daughter was telling me that a friend told her (isn't that the way that it always happens?) to mix a little baking soda in with her shampoo for a clarifying effect. We live in an area where there are lots of minerals in the water and they can leave a film on your hair. My daughter decided to give the baking soda a try and was very pleased with the results.
Baking soda is truly an inexpensive household wonder. Every pantry should have a big box on the shelf. We buy the 12 pound bag from Costco. The book, Resourceful and Ingenious Uses of Baking Soda, is an ebook full of great ideas for using Baking Soda. Click on it and discover uses that you never dreamed of.
Here are some of my favorite ways to use baking soda:
  • To clean stubborn stuck on stuff on your pans, make a paste of baking soda and a little dish detergent apply it to the trouble spot and scrub.
  • A baking soda paste really does relieve the pain from a yellow jacket or bee sting.
  • About a cup in bath water is good to soothe itchy chicken pox.
  • I dip my toothbrush in baking soda and gently brush to help whiten my teeth. It seems to be quite effective on coffee stains.
  • We all know what a great deodorizer it is. I sprinkle it on the bottom of my kitchen trash cans and in the dirty clothes hamper. The deodorizer idea that everyone knows best is an open box in the fridge to absorb food odors.
The Arm and Hammer site has more ideas for using baking soda. There is also a fun book out by Vicki Lansky and Martha Campbell called Baking Soda: Over 500 Fabulous, Fun, and Frugal Uses You've Probably Never Thought Of.
Over 500! I really had no idea how amazing baking soda is.
Of course my favorite way to use baking soda is in chocolate chip cookies. I think that it's time for coffee and a cookie.
Add to Technorati Favorites

Shoestring Meals - Making Chicken Go Further


We buy those big bags of frozen chicken breasts from Costco. Each piece is individually frozen so you can use one breast or many. Since each piece is quite big, one or two stir fried with lots of vegetables and served with rice will feed our family of 5. Another way to stretch chicken is to make chicken strips. One large breast can be cut into about 6 strips - 4 chicken breasts = 24 strips! Since chicken strips are quite rich tasting 3 or 4 strips make a good main dish, even for a hungry teenager. We like to serve them with pan-fried potatoes or French fries. (I know, not the healthiest meal but you don’t have to eat it every day.) I also like to pair it with fruit salad that features citrus fruit since citrus does a good job to cut the richness of the fried strips.
My husband, the real cook of the family, makes delicious chicken strips. His trick for making them crunchy good - after each strip is dipped in batter roll it in crushed saltine crackers and then fry them in the deep fryer.
Click on this link for another good chicken strip recipe – Easy and Fast Chicken Strips.
What’s your favorite chicken recipe?
Add to Technorati Favorites

Shoestring Parenting - Paperclip math

Here is another great idea from Miss Kay (my mom). Miss Kay is a retired kindergarten teacher. Her approach to learning is always creative and hands on. To see more ideas from Miss Kay check out the Shoestring Parenting - Projects and Ideas.

I love to think of inexpensive things to use around the house to help our children learn. A pack or two of large, plastic- coated, colored paper clips will do just fine. These activities are especially good for 4 and 5 year olds. First lay them out on the table and let your child explore what he might want to do. Try these activities. Sort them by color. Count each set. Use the terms, more, less, and same. Help your child make a chain using a pattern( red, yellow, blue etc.) See if your child can keep the pattern going. Vary the pattern, making it more difficult. See if you can make sets of 5's and tens and practice counting to 100. Now see what ideas you and your child can come up with. Have fun! Don't push. Give them time to develop in their own time. If they are not interested they are probably not ready.

image by stock.xchng
Add to Technorati Favorites

I'm sick! - Home Remedies


The Dreaded Crud finally caught up with me this week. I tried to fight it. I upped my vitamins, I drank echinacea tea, I though positive "I will not get sick" thoughts. In in the end the crud won. Once you've been tackled by the flu there's not much you can do except endure. But there are things that you can do to make the whole process easier to live through.
  • First on the list for me is to drink, drink, drink. Drink lots of water, the cool water feels so good on a sore throat. There are also wonderful teas that are formulated especially for colds and flu. Celestial Seasonings and Good Earth make two of my favorites and a friend recently suggested Gypsy Cold Car Tea. Of course, coffee is on my list. It may not be a flu fighter but it is good for my soul.
  • Rest if very important. To achieve the proper restful state when you are hit by the flu you need a very soft and comfy blanket to snuggle in. Then you need a stack of favorite movies; movies that are very familiar so that you can doze in and out and still know what's going on. Movies that you can watch with your eyes shut. My sick movies this week have been My Big Fat Greek Wedding (never watch this one with the stomach flu), Two Weeks Notice, Pride and Prejudice, Ever After and While You Were Sleeping. I need happy endings when I'm sick.
  • My friend Janelle's mommy made her chicken soup when she felt awful and it was just the ticket. Mothers are very important when you are sick. Mine lives far away in Arizona but I always feel better when I talk to her. Here is a link to a yummy recipe for Chicken Soup.
  • I know a pharmacist that suggests sucking on zinc lozenges during the day and gargling with whiskey before bed. This process is said to cut the duration of your symptoms in half. I haven't tried the whiskey but the zinc lozenges seem to help.
  • I also have friends that drink Aloe Vera to fight illness.
  • Heat on your chest and throat is very helpful for coughs. My friend, Gayle, made one of those rice logs for me. It is rice sewn up in a cloth tube. To soothe the desire to cough, I warm it up in the microwave and hold it on my chest. It feels so good and really helps those night time coughing fits.
What do you to live through the flu?

Images by stock.xchng
Add to Technorati Favorites

Shoestring Shopping - Cruising the Clearance Racks

I come from a long line of clearance shoppers and my daughter, Britta, has inherited the bargain shopping gene. In fact, she is the best clearance shopper that I know. Here is some advice from Britta on cruising the clearance racks.




If you are anything like me shopping can be a welcome escape from some
of the harsher realities of daily life. Since I was a little girl I
loved to take the little money that I had from my allowance, birthday
money, or money earned from odd jobs and browse the clearance racks
for the perfect addition to my wardrobe. I knew that that less I spent
per item the more I could have at the end of the shopping trip. Those
early days of shopping have long passed. I have transitioned from a
little girl with a small chunk of change to a happily poor college
student with a similarly small budged for clothes and accessories.
Thankfully the passion for browsing those clearance racks remains.

I have been frequenting T.J. Maxx lately as I have found that every two
to three months their stock sees some incredible mark downs. Recently
I purchased a pair of darling twill pants for seventy cents and a
Calvin Klein bra for a dollar. Occasionally necessity requires us to
make larger purchases than seventy cent pairs of pants. I needed a
pair of snowboarding pants a couple weeks ago and remembered seeing a
few pairs left at T.J. Max in their seasonal clearance. I found a
fantastic pair of three hundred dollar (retail value) snowboarding
pants for forty dollars. So let me share with you a few secrets
about "sales" and "clearance racks"

1. There is always a better sale than the one you are at.
2. If you find something you like but don't need it immediately wait a
couple weeks and you are likely to find it at a much better value.
3. Don't save up all your shopping energy for a single trip. Casually
keep your eyes out for new things so that you don't feel pressured to
make purchases for over priced items.

Happy shopping!
Add to Technorati Favorites

Shoestring Shopping - Great Book Buys


If you have visited my other blog, Wondersome StoryTime, you will know that I love children's books. (If you haven't been to Wondersome StoryTime I hope that you will take some time to visit me there.) Of course your local library is a great place find all of the books that you could possibly want to read. I love our libraries. The librarians are kind and helpful and there are new books coming in all the time. But if you have kids at home you want to start building your own library. When we were at Kohls the other day (see my last post) I found their Kohls Cares for Kids section. This season Kohls is featuring full size hardback Dr. Suess books for $5 and for $5 more you can buy a stuffy to go with the book. To go along with Horton Hears a Who they sell a soft squishy Horton. Grandparents, these are great gifts! Not only are you getting a really good price but Kohls donates money from the sales to organizations that help kids.
When my kids were in school I found that a great resource for ordering books was the Scholastic Book order forms that they brought home once a month. I couldn't wait for the book orders to come home so that I could look through them. I pretty much filled out our collection of Box Car Children books through Scholastic.
Amazon is also a great place to look. Their selection is never ending and they sell both new and used books. I have an astore with Amazon that I feature on Wondersome StoryTime that sells the books that I post about and some of my other favorite reads. Be sure and check out The Wondersome StoryTime Store.
Thrift stores, garage sales, used book stores, grandma's attic....where do you like to buy great books? Start building your library now. When your kids are grown, the grandchildren will love it.

Image from stock.xchng
Add to Technorati Favorites

Shoestring Shopping - Buying Discount


Has this ever happened to you? You are filling up the gas tank in your car and suddenly the gas nozzle takes a disliking to you and spits gas all over your clothes? Of course that never happens when you are on your way home, it happens when you are just starting out. Usually going somewhere where they don't appreciate the smell of gasoline wafting from your shirtsleeves.
That's what happened to my husband yesterday. We were on our way into town and Greg got gas on his shirt. Now, town for us is 30 miles away and once you start out you are committed. Driving home again is not an option. So Greg stuffed the offending shirt in a plastic bag and made plans to buy a new shirt when we got to town.
I know what you're thinking.
You are thinking that buying a brand new shirt isn't very
Shoestring-ish. Well, it's not, unless you have a Kohls nearby. A Kohls department store just opened in Coeur d'Alene last year. Their normal clothes can be pretty pricey but their clearance racks are fantastic. We found a brandname shirt set with a T shirt under a button up shirt for about $8. That's $8 marked down from $42 which translates to $4 a shirt. That's Shoestring Shopping.
My daughter is one of the best discount shoppers that I know. She will be writing a guest post soon about Shoestring Shopping. In the meantime if you have any suggestions for saving money on food, clothes, appliances etc. please leave a comment and share.

images from Yotophoto
Add to Technorati Favorites

Let Me Entertain You or Support Your Local Actor


Yes, that's me in the middle being pulled in two directions. That picture was taken during a rehearsal for the play Mary, Mary by Jean Kerr. All right, I admit it - I ....act. I also ....sing and occasionally.............I....dance. I love it! I live in a small community that is surrounded by other small communities and when we first moved here I was pretty certain that there wouldn't be any place for me to do these things that I love. Boy, was I wrong. Among these small communities there are two active and prospering theater groups, there is a wonderful community choir and a yearly variety show that includes some of the best talent in the area and draws audience from all over the Pacific Northwest. The best part is that these are not professional groups; they are volunteers. They are our neighbors and our coworkers and local business owners. We buy our groceries from them or see them at the post office and then we get together in the evening for rehearsal. That is true community. That's why they call it community theater. Community theater is a place to build friendships, to refine old talents and to learn new skills (I told you, occasionally I dance).
How does this apply to the Shoestring Lifestyle? By volunteering in your local community theater you learn performance skills without having to pay for expensive lessons. Kids and adults alike learn to work and play together, learn leadership skills, group dynamics, team building, problem solving, how to work on a budget - I think that all of those companies that pay big money for their workers to go to team building workshops would be a lot better off doing a production of Our Town or producing a musical. And if you're an audience member you get to see well known productions like Life With Father and Arsenic and Old Lace, Fiddler on the Roof and The Fantasticks all for just a fraction of what you would pay to see them at a professional theater. You save money and you get the joy of seeing your friends and neighbors do something that they love. So, take in some Shoestring Entertainment this weekend and visit your local community theater.
Add to Technorati Favorites

Affordable Luxury - Valentine's Day


Luxury - An indulgence in something that provides pleasure (Websters)

Last night we decided to go out for coffee and a Valentines Day treat. I love these kind of dates. We cruised around town and found a new coffee place, Calypsos. It's the kind of place that you can linger in, with couches and comfy chairs and good music. They make a very good Americano and their chocolate brownies are big and rich. We split one. So we lingered for an hour eating chocolate and drinking coffee and enjoying each other's company. We could have gotten all dressed up in uncomfortable clothes and gone to an expensive restaurant where we would have spent too much and eaten too much (actually, I love those kinds of dates too) but when I picture my husband sitting in an overstuffed chair with his leg draped over one of the chair's arms, drinking coffee and so relaxed ...... I couldn't have asked for a more luxurious evening.
Add to Technorati Favorites

Parenting on a Shoestring - The Scrap Box


You don't have to spend lots of money on art supplies for your children. You just have to give them the opportunity to create. My mom, Kay, taught kindergarten for years and her class always had the most wonderful art center filled with scraps of this and that designed to spark creativity and be turned into wonderful creations. Thanks to stores like the Dollar Tree crayons, markers, glue and scissors can be bought for very little. Our homes are full of fantastic this-and-thats that can be recycled into art. So don't wait around until you can afford expensive art lessons for your children, the time to start creating is now.
Here is one of mom's favorite ideas - The Scrap Box.

Iam a retired kindergarten teacher from Arizona and love to share ideas that worked in my classroom. One of the favorite things my kinderkids liked to do in the classroom was to have free time at the art center using the Scrap Box. This was a perfect time for them to use their creative imaginations and solve their problems independently. It was their treat to make anything they wanted to using only the items in the box. It was my joy to see their finished products and observe their satisfaction in what they were able to accomplish. I would ask them to tell me about it and I would then tell them about the parts I liked best.
This center did not include coloring books, stencils, worksheets or stamp pads. It was pretty exciting to see what they accomplished without these things. My hope is that every home with children would put together a box like this. It is not a neat and tidy activity , but it is a wonderful gift you can give. I suggest using a large plastic box with a lid.
Items included in the box:
Scissors , paper punch
markers, crayons, pencils
glue sticks, masking tape
bright yarn and string
white and colored paper scraps
poster board scraps
wallpaper and wrapping paper scraps
old greeting cards
paper plates
popsicle sticks
old magazines
greeting cards
etc.
Add to Technorati Favorites

Shoestring Meals - Swedish Pancakes


It is 4:20 and I still don't know what to make for dinner. Since I decided to post about these delicious Swedish crepe style pancakes, I guess that's what's for dinner too. This is a recipe that belonged to my husband's grandmother. Grandma Edie was Swedish to the core and though she has been with the Lord for some time I still have the Swedish pancake recipe card that she wrote for me when I first got married. It is quite battered and stained (I'm not a neat cook) but I can still read her lovely handwriting and it is still one of our favorite meals.
Even though you would think of this as a breakfast meal we often have it for dinner. I figure 3 eggs and 2 cups milk make it high in protein and calcium. Then when you pair it with applesauce you get a decent dinner. This is a great Shoestring Recipe because when you are out of everything else you almost always have eggs, milk and flour.

Swedish Pancakes
3 eggs
2 tbl sugar (sometimes if I'm feeling guilty I use less)
2 cups rich milk (Grandma says rich milk is milk mixed with 1/2 and 1/2. I rarely have 1/2 and 1/2 so I just use milk.)
3 tbl melted butter or margarine
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup flour

I mix this up in a blender. Add the first 5 ingredients and blend then add the flour and blend some more until the flour is completely mixed in. Pour into small pancakes onto hot griddle. Best when served with Swedish Lingonberries (you can find lingonberries at IKEA) but also yummy with Apple Sauce.

Quick Microwave Apple Sauce
Apples are a great Shoestring staple to have on hand. There are so many things that you can do with an apple.
Peel and slice at least one apple per person. Put the apple slices in a microwavable casserole dish and add about 1 cup apple juice and a tbl of butter (butter is optional). Microwave on high until the apples are cooked and tender. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and mash until you get the consistency of apple sauce that you like. I like mine a little chunky.
Add to Technorati Favorites