Monday, October 5, 2009

You Can Can

'Tis the season to be canning around here. I would love to know how many of you do this and love it. I seriously can't think of a more beautiful, fulfilling project. The whole process is full of wonderful smells, beautiful colors and that wonderful feeling of SAVING A LOT OF MONEY.

The "Domestic Diva" side comes out of me every time I do it...for real! It's one of those projects that really isn't hard but brings satisfaction almost every day. I love looking in the cupboards (or above the cupboards in my case) and seeing all of the bottled goodness just waiting to be enjoyed. It seriously brings me so much joy.

I thought I'd take pictures of the process of turning garden tomatoes into beautiful homemade "Ragu" sauce. Enjoy!

I wish I could say that this beautiful bounty is from our garden but after two years of success, this years garden struggled...really struggled. Thank goodness we have a wonderful neighbor who has more bounty than she can handle and calls us every other day begging us to "come and pick". We've been very happy to help her out ;)

Look at these gorgeous tomatoes!!! Oh the beauty!

I used my trusty Blendtec to blend the tomatoes, skins and all into a wonderful sauce and then added some tomato paste to thicken.
This is my Aunt Coralee's recipe with a few little additions of my own!

Just a tablespoon of lemon give them that little boost of acid just to be safe.

Look at all of those crystal clear bottles...soon to be filled

Bath time!

The finished product! Now I can put them on the shelf and
admire them just like little pieces of art!
Oh yeah, and eat them too.

This is what happens to Norah when Mom is busy canning and can't save her from her evil twin sisters....Someday she'll get to taste the wonderful sauce and know it was all worth the torture.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Homemade Laundry Soap!? C'mon Hannah, Don't You Think That's Going A Bit Too Far?

I would have said the same thing if I hadn't tried it and loved it!

So flippin' easy and so fast....and IT REALLY WELL!

Here's what I did:

Gathered Arm and Hammer Washing Soda, Borax, Fels-Naptha (according to the sites I read and I will list below, you don't need to use Fels-Naptha, you can use any soap of your choice).

Used the fine grater and grated the Fels-Naptha

Mixed 1 1/2 cup of Washing Soda, 1 1/2 cup Borax and 1 Bar of Fels-Naptha

Done and DONE!

I only use 2 Tbsp. per load and our clothes have never been cleaner!

Note: I also put in a little scoop of Oxy Clean in with our laundry just because we have crazy, dirty little toddlers. Also, I still use fabric softener but according to our washer/dryer repairman you only need about half of what the bottle says you need. I kept and old container and poured half of a new one in the old one and added water to the rest. It works great and we basically get double the softener for what we pay.

You can make a liquid or powdered version. Both are low suds which was important for our washer and most newer ones.

Here is where I found the inspiration and what I based my recipe on:

I'm also working on getting a dishwasher detergent recipe. The one I tried isn't working as well as I'd like...leaving a film on the dishes so I'll let you know when I have that one perfected. If anyone has tried this, let me know if you have any tips!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The One Hour Project

The One Hour Project is a series of thirty small projects - each requiring roughly an hour of your time - that can help you get your finances on a better path, either by reducing your expenses, reorganizing your debts, or improving your chances at greater wealth.

While you can read all of the entries on the website (see below), I have also collected all of the entries together into a single downloadable PDF file and polished it for easy reading and printing. The PDF not only includes the project entries themselves, but all of the relevant supporting information for each project that would enable you to work on them offline at your convenience.

Cleanse Your Monthly Bills Go through your monthly bills in order to find and eliminate excess regular expenses.
Conserve Water Make a few simple changes around your house to trim your water bill considerably.
Reduce the Interest Rate On Your Credit Cards Take a proactive stance and contact your credit card company to get those rates reduced - and thus reduce the interest you’re paying them.
Go Christmas Shopping At Sale Time Take advantage of sales throughout the year to reduce the flood of expenses you’ll incur at Christmas - and at other gifting occasions as well.
Make Your Home More Energy Efficient Perform several simple one-time tasks to cut down immensely on your monthly energy bill.
Kill the Electricity Phantom Reduce the constant drain of your electrical devices by taking a few simple steps, further reducing your energy bill.
Switch Checking Accounts Eliminate excessive fees of all kinds - and maybe even earn an interest rate - by switching to a different checking account.
Price Compare The Things You Buy Regularly Reduce your monthly shopping bill with a clever technique that reveals the cheapest place for you to shop for the stuff you actually buy.
Do Some Preventive Maintenance Extend the life span of items in your home by spending a bit of time on preventive maintenance tasks.
Enjoy What You Have Try some interesting ways to increase your enjoyment of the things you already have - and reduce frivolous spending on new things.
Clean Out Your Media Collection Get rid of the media items in your home that you don’t use - and turn them into cash in your pocket with ease.
Perform Basic Car Maintenance Increase the gas mileage of your car significantly with a few simple maintenance tasks anyone can do.
Create a Water-Drinking Routine Discover the benefits of drinking water - and find ways to integrate it into your daily routine to decimate your beverage expenses.
Do Some Basic Diet Hacking Make a few very simple modifications to your daily routine to cut down greatly on your dining expenses.
Plan Your Meals For One Week In Advance Use meal planning to greatly reduce your food expenses for the week, both by eating at home and shopping in a cost-effective fashion.
Make a Quadruple Batch of a Casserole Take advantage of buying and preparing food in bulk to reduce the financial and temporal expense of home cooking.
Construct Your Debt Snowball (Or Something Like It) Organize your debts and develop a plan to tackle them directly.
Discover and Catalog Free Events In Your Community Find out about all the free activities in your community - and utilize them to reduce your entertainment costs.
Create A Visual Debt Reminder Give yourself some repeated encouragement for cleaning up your debt by making a debt reminder visual.
Dig Into Your Job Benefits Find out what financial benefits are really available to you through your job - it might be more than you think.
Dig Into A Personal Finance Blog Find out the thoughts and opinions of someone who is passionate about personal finance.
Take A Trip To The Library Discover the resources at your local library, both to reduce your entertainment expenses and to educate yourself about personal finance.
Go Through Your Important Papers Organize your most important documents - and perhaps utilize them to put yourself in better financial shape.
Thoroughly Research A Stock Learn how the stock market works and also find out whether a specific company is worth investing in.
Build Your Own Net Worth Calculator Build a tool to track your financial progress and motivate you to continue making positive steps.
Touch Base With Professional And Local Acquaintances Connect with people who may be able to connect you with greater success.
Get Involved In Community Volunteering Improve the overall state of the community - and meet similarly-motivated people in the process.
Give Someone A Helping Hand Reach out and help someone - and maybe that help will improve the lives of a lot of people (including yourself).
Keep An Idea Notebook In Your Pocket Keep track of the important ideas that float into and out of your head during a day - one or two of them might be as good as gold.
Open A High-Yield Savings Account (Or An Investment Account) Find a financially lucrative place to put the money you’ve found during these projects.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

SAVE MONEY - Make Your Own Bread and MORE!!!

I've never been very good at making my own bread. I've always wanted to be good at it but it just has never seemed to work for me. Either it doesn't rise correctly or it is crumbly or it's as hard as a rock.

That has all changed with this recipe. My mother-in-law invited me to a class the other night and since then...I have become a bread making MACHINE! I thought I'd share it with you.

Here it is:

Homemade Bread Recipe - From Start to Finish in ONE hour

10 1/2 cups white bread flour or wheat flour (do not use all-purpose flour)
1/2 cup sugar (white, brown, or honey)
1 Tbsp. salt
3 rounded Tbsp. SAF instant wheat (you need this kind of yeast...if they don't have it at your local store you can get it here)
3 Tbsp liquid lecithin (this is a mild preservative and a soy product and is really good for can get it at a health food store or order it here)
4 cups hot tap water

Mix dry ingredients. Add lecithin by pouring approximately 3 Tbsp. of lecithin directly into the bowl. Do not measure (it looks like three quarter coins in size) and water. Mix for 1 minute and check consistency. If dough is too dry, add more water. Dough should be VERY sticky (almost looks like cookie dough). Mix for five minutes. (Do not add flour to the dough after is has finished mixing). Spray counter, hands and pan with Pam (or any oil will work). Shape loaves and cover with dish towel. Let raise for 25 mins. Bake at 350 for 25 mins. This recipe makes four loaves of bread.

Note: For whole wheat bread use the same recipe but add one cup of warm applesauce as part of the hot tap water and 1 additional Tbsp. of lecithin. Mix for ten minutes instead of five.

Another note: If you are using a Kitchenaid mixer, it is best to half this recipe.

The cool thing about this recipe is that you can make all kinds of things besides just loaves of bread. So far I have made stuffed crust pizza, artisan bread, french bread, cinnamon rolls, a wonderful cream cheese blackberry braid, focaccia bread, can use it for so many things and if you stick to the recipe, it works EVERY time and seriously only takes an hour (or less) from start to finish! Another thing I love about the ingredients is that they can all be stored. There is no need for eggs, milk or oil...very cool.

Good luck and let me know if you have any questions. Also, if you want to learn how to make 50 different things from this recipe I'd suggest you get this DVD. I promise you won't regret it. I can honestly say that this class has changed my life....sounds dramatic I know, but it's true!

I had to take a picture of my first attempt at stuffed crust pizza. I literally had this out of the oven in less time than having a pizza delivered. I figured out that it only cost me $3 to make and it fed us for two was HUGE ( I made some dipping sauce for the was like having yummy bread sticks with cheese in the middle).