Simple [Sim-puhl]

Simple [Sim-puhl]
1. easy to understand, deal with, use, etc.
2. not elaborate or artificial; plain
3. not ornate or luxurious; unadorned

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Homemade= Savings+Comfort

During my maternal shopping experience I noticed nursing covers seem to cost anywhere from twenty to fifty dollars a piece with limited coverage and conspicuous patterns. Not my cup of tea, but I found a pattern for a full coverage cover that is simple enough for even the most novice seamstress. I paid about $1.25 for the thread and about $6.00 for the fabric. You can even sew this up by hand in a few minutes if you don't have a machine.
I would suggest NOT using 100% cotton knit fabric like I did because it tends to cling to itself and my cotton shirt. Other than that, it is very comfortable, and I feel secure that no one will be getting a peek at my baby's mealtimes. I did leave mine long since I seem to be taller and need more coverage than the girl in the tutorial. Although upon examining this picture I may trim a good four inches off the bottom.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

In a Pickle

I've always wanted to make my own pickles, but I did not relish the idea of canning a bunch of pickles as I usually just eat them on a sandwich now and then. Still, I do enjoy pickles and even though they are usually four or five dollars for a jar and every time I buy them I sigh a little to myself. One day I was reading about the many uses of vinegar and I found this recipe for The Very Easy and Never-ending Jar of Pickles. Now I make my own fresh and delicious pickles regularly. I used to use dry dill, but fresh dill tastes so much better it's worth investing the three dollars in a plant.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Homemade Cold Cereal

Hot cereal is one of the comforts of home during the cold months of the year. Of coarse it's been industrialized with instant oatmeal packets and two and a half minute Cream of Wheat (not that they're not absolutely delicious or anything.) But there is something so genuinely nourishing about a pot of oats simmered and seasoned from scratch with only the extra effort of two to five minutes more of your morning. Fresh ingredients always feel better in the tummy. This combination is commonly known as "the love"; it is patience, creativity and gut instinct mixed into a creation to be consumed by those you take care of -Good care of. Well there's nothing like some good old-fashioned corn meal mush, or oatmeal, or cream of wheat, or Malt o' Meal -to warm you up nose to toes when your about to head out into the snow. But, there are times when hot cereal just doesn't shine it's best and it's mostly on hot days or times when you just want to munch and crunch on something sweet and just as nourishing. Cold cereal was something we just didn't eat when I was growing up because it was more expensive, less nutritious, and less satisfying. Still we would beg Mama to get us cold cereal so we could see what we were missing out on. Mama being the wise one, would come home from the store with huge bags of Corn Flakes or Cheerios or those straw bricks my dad seemed to like for as unknown a reason as ever there was. (He always liked weird stuff like rye bread and sauerkraut, and okra, and just about anything a child didn't even want to try. Flavors I grew into eventually; except okra, not touching that.) We would stifle our disappointment as we swallowed mouthful after mouthful of bland fiber. Finally we convinced Mama to buy Fruit Loops and at least Honey Nut Cheerios and everyone was much happier, but not healthier.
It wasn't until I left home and could decide for myself what to be frivolous on that I tried every sugary cereal I could find and decided Mama knew best. All that sugary cereal was usually a let down and left my teeth feeling all caked and grimy. Then I discovered granola and it became my guilty financial splurge. I splurged on a lot of sophisticated food during that chapter of my life, most of which was also disappointing. When I married and money mysteriously became even tighter I learn to give up on the sophisticated and less-satisfying pallet I had developed. "Eat what you love, but don't be a pig about it," became my new diet theory. I found a cookbook on amazon that peeked my interest being a "from scratch" -raised kind of cook and homemade food connoisseur. It had recipes for all homemade from scratch versions of store-bought favorites like Fig Newtons, Oreos, and cream cheese. I was afraid to spend the extra money on it in case the recipes turned out to be disappointing. An unfortunate repeated blunder in the past. However, after reading another blogger's review of the book I decided it was really my kind of cookbook and finally ordered it as a gift to myself. I had never enjoyed reading a cookbook so much and had it read cover to cover two days after it arrived. I was thrilled to learn I could make my own granola, and how easy it sounded! I rounded up the ingredients and with some trepidation followed the recipe to exactness. When my first batch of granola came out of the oven smelling all crisp and cinnamony I had such pride in my accomplishment and such high hopes that I now could munch and crunch granola guilt-free to my heart's content. I was sorely disappointed... It was bland, and far too cinnamony, and not even close to the sweet crunchy clusters I enjoyed so much from a package. How could the homemade version let me down so thoroughly! I decided to stick to my occasional splurge at Trader Joe's and forget the episode all together. What a waste! I had enjoyed reading the cookbook so much I began to follow the authoress' blog, it was funny and inspiring and the recipes were diverse and looked delicious, but I didn't dare try to make any. Then at the beginning of the year she posted a new granola recipe. It sounded wonderful, how could the orange and chocolate combination not be delicious? So I decided to give it another chance, and slowly but deliberately I bought the ingredients. I finally had them all, but not the motivation so I waited several more months until this week I decided I really wanted some nutritious cold cereal without the BHT or the over generous grams of sugar and high fructose corn syrup in it. (Commercials lie constantly BTW especially about what's good for you; in English class we called them "fallacies," but deceit is deceit by any other name.) So I bought some fresh oranges and today I trusted in myself and made the new granola. I tasted the cocoa nibs before I put them in having never tried them before; and yeah, there's another waste of four dollars -I threw them away instantly. Yucky, I'll just stick to nice sweet and silky chocolate chips thank you very much -to be added to the bowl before munch time of coarse, no need to melt them in the oven. I trusted my gut and added a couple handfuls of slivered almonds too because I do like toasted slivered almonds in the store-bought granola. Lastly, I used a Thick n' Rich maple syrup and already ground flax seed instead of whole. The rest of the directions I followed exactly and waited anxiously as it baked. Before removing it from the oven I decided to test the crunch. It was delicious! All lite and orange flavored and crunchy with just the right amount of sweetness! It even formed clusters! Finally, success! I'm so excited to have my own homemade granola I can make and enjoy a variety of ways. I enjoy adding chopped candied ginger and chocolate chips, but really it's just wonderful on it's own!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Clean Home: A Chemical-Free Zone

When one is pregnant she is supposed to avoid fumes and chemicals as much as possible, so it was the perfect time for me to implement a chemical-free environment in my home. (Besides the noxious fumes of my Mother-in-law's perfume that seems to permeate the house that is) Try convincing an aged woman to cut the cologne... Just try.
I decided to try a couple of recipes for homemade cleaners on a couple of blogs I enjoy reading. One is for window cleaner, and the other is an all-purpose cleaner. I tried them out this week and paired with a good scrub brush, a microfiber towel and some baking soda I cleaned my bathroom top to bottom. I do use paper towels when I clean my commode because using something I plan to wash and reuse later just grosses me out for some reason. But still, if that is all the paper towels I use I feel that is pretty forgivable.
I love having a squeaky clean bathroom, unfortunately it doesn't stay that way long. But, that just gives me an excuse to use my homemade cleaners again. These homemade cleaners work great to remove hard water stains and soap scum. The baking soda is wonderful to scrub the toilet bright and it's also good for the septic system. I don't have to hold my breath while I clean or run the fan anymore! The only drawback is the floor does smell like vinegar for a while after it's cleaned, but I will try a milder solution for the floor next time and see if it helps.
Hooray for economical and simple healthy solutions!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Soaps' Up

I tried an experiment this past year. I found this recipe for homemade foaming hand soap and decided to see how long it would last my household and if it would be cost effective. I started making my own foaming hand soap to use my bathroom last year with one quart of Dr Bronner's Liquid Castile Soap I bought at the grocery store for $12.99 and I still have a third of the bottle left. I'd say frugality success!
I have been very happy with the cleaning power, the gentleness on my hands (as I am a frequent washer,) and ease and convenience of making the soap! The Dr Bronner's liquid Castile Soap is ultra concentrated, it's made of natural oils and glycerin (which I learned last winter are actually stripped out of many commercial soaps and therefore dry our skin out so we have to contsantly apply lotion.) 
In one shopping trip I purchased a year supply of hand soap for my family that easily fits under the bathroom sink! I don't think I'll ever go back to bars or liquid soap.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


I love Spaghetti. I am talking long noodles in tomato sauce seasoned with herbs. With or without meat, any day of the week, any time of the day, hot or cold. Mmmm it's my favorite.
Since I married I have been searching for a Spaghetti I could make at home that was acceptable to my husband's pallet; he has a sensitive stomach and many food allergies. After five years I have found my champion. It is super easy and cheap to make.

Baked Spaghetti
By Bethany Thompson

Spaghetti Noodles (I prefer Trader Joes Brand)
Prego Traditional Spaghetti Sauce (my husbands favorite)
1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
2/3 lb Ground Beef, browned*
1 cup Colby Jack Cheese, shredded*

I brown the beef as I cook about 2/3rds of the package of pasta to al dente.
When the beef is ready I mop up the excess grease and water with a paper towel (a trip my Grandma taught me.) I pour in the jar of spaghetti sauce, add the brown sugar and stir like I stir gravy until the sugar dissolves and keep warm.
When noodles are cooked, I drain them and dump them into my pan of meat sauce and stir to coat evenly.
Dump noodles and sauce into a 9x13 pan, it will be spread about an inch thick, and sprinkle cheese evenly over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Serves four.
While it is baking I prepare my garlic toast and side of veggies; corn is my favorite vegetable to eat with spaghetti. This is also a good time to wash up the dishes since pots and pans take up allot of room in the dishwasher.
*I use only 2/3 lb of ground beef because I buy a 2lb package and split it into 3 to make it go further.
*I shred cheese myself with a small food processor I bought expressly for that purpose. My FP makes shredding cheese quick and painless even though I have to then wash it. Blocks of cheese cost less than packages of shredded cheese and the shredded cheeses have a substance the manufacturers put on it to keep the shredded pieces from sticking together. I don't remember exactly what the powder is, but it's not a food substance-Nasty.

My husband told me today I could make spaghetti like this any time I want to. Hooray for simple pleasures!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Hair DO

It will cost a woman at least $15 to have her hair cut, and of you want it colored, well say goodbye to another $30. I have just discovered that cutting my own bangs is not so hard and if I keep my hair long and even I can forgo the hair dressers all together. Coloring my hair is both tiresome and irksome, but really pretty easy and less than $20 if I get my stuff at Sally's. Sally's is a heaven for home hair stylists or DIYers and there's one not three miles away from me. I'm so excited I don't have to fork out $75 every time I need a cut and color at my favorite stylists anymore. Yipee!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A New Year, A New Beginning

After Christmas, when I was a child everyone wanted to know what gifts I received, and I could barely contain myself to tell everyone because I was so excited. (At least sometimes this is how it happened.) Unless, my family had financial trouble that year and then the "fun" gift telling session became awekward and uncomfortable as I waited for my moment of shame (socks and underwear anyone?) Why is it we remind eachother to focus on the true meaning of Christmas before it happens, but frequently focus on only the gifts after Christmas. If we want to remember the true meaning of Christmas all year perhaps we should tone down the part that distracts us from it.
The Christmas gift-giving is, after all, symbalic of God's gift of his Only Begotten Son to the world. This is the one Great Gift we are trying to remember all year long and I want to make sure the temperary things I recieve or give at Christmas don't distract me from it. For this reason, not to mention the mounds of money spent on an extravagant Christmas, I'm trying to simplify my Christmases without giving up the magic of the season.
My brother's family gives only one gift to one another which is frequently homemade for Christmas. I think this is a fabulous idea. Not only does it teach their children to be creative, to learn how to do new things, and be resourceful, it also teaches them to invest time, thought, and care in their relationships with eachother, strengthening their bonds as a family. When you make a gift for someone; you give yourself, when you receive a homemade gift from someone, you receive that person into your life. Maybe that is why an ill-received homemade gift feels so hurtful. But, it shouldn't keep us from putting ourselves out there to love and be loved.

Two of my cousins had baby boys at the end of 2012 so I decided to knit them some booties, one had twins that's why there are three pair. My mother gave me the pattern for these "Stay on Booties" and I have been making them ever since I learned how to knit. I've made them for my neices and nephews, for friends' babies and now for my cousins' babies. It is always great to have a good gift on hand that most likely won't be duplicated (and that is hard to come by.)
Another gift I am accustomed to giving is knitted dishcloths for weddings or just because, and whenever! These are great dishcloths, I found the pattern I learned to knit on in a blog I follow! I've always kept it pretty basic so I've decided I'm going to take my knitting to new levels this year.
My dear mother sent me a package with all of this for Christmas:
Isn't it delightful! Many of you may be wondering what it is..
When I was growing up my mother had several practical hobbies she taught to me, but she took up this hobby when I was a kid and it was neat to learn about it along with her. Spinning is a dying art my mother always wanted to learn, so my father ordered a spinning wheel and a few books for my mother so she could learn how and do it herself.
Spinning and knitting became a part of my happiness growing up, there is something about making your own yarn from things that are produced naturally by the earth and then making that yarn into clothing that keeps you warm that is so... fulfilling. I feel so independent making my own yarn to make my own clothing, and other neccesary items. It just feels right. Spinning Wheels however; are very expensive tools, more expensive than I can afford right now and so I turned to a spinning tool that is inexpensive, but I have found to be just as efficient.
This is a Hip Spindle or Navajo Spindle and it was invented by Native Americans to spin fiber into yarn to then weave blankets (most commonly known today) and clothing. There are many tools people around the world developed for the purpose of spinning yarn so they could make clothing etc. I have tried several types myself, but not only was this the most efficient for me, besides a spinning wheel, it was born in America just like me and it is a part of American Heritage. I am not a "Native American" in the sense of the people who lived here before Europeans transpanted here, but America is my native land and I embrace all of it's history and heritage without division. I believe we are all the children of this great country united under it's history. Everyone may not share this view; I have been called an idealist from time to time, but I still see nothing wrong with a constructive perspective and hope for the future.
Moving on from the Soap Box, I am so excited to have spinning in my life again, and I look forward to coloring/dying my yarn as well. (Any color I want!)
You will notice a large bag of white wool in this picture. It is a whole pound! I will be able to knit several items from this bag, and I will be sharing it with you from time to time! I will eventually move on to other fibers to spin such as cotton, and angora rabbit or goat hair, and maybe some silk! I will be titling these posts A Fiber Fancy so they will be easily searchable. The first project I am knitting from homespun wool is not a yarn that I spun or dyed myself, it is the kit in the photo. This yarn is called Blueberry Mix by Cascade Jewel Hand Dyed Yarn and it came with a pattern for knitted Cornucopia Wristers. I have wanted to knit myself some fingerless gloves for a long time and my mother will be making a pair too since she bought the same kit for herself! I am so excited to share the experience with her and to be sharing my progress with you! Happy New Year Everyone!