Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Singing the Praises of Vinegar

I really dislike the smell of vinegar. It ranks very high on my list of unpleasant smells. However, I also really dislike ants in my kitchen, and that ranks even higher on my general list of dislikes. We have had to deal with ant issues every year that we've lived in the house (3 years), and to date we've had three different varieties of ants attempt to take over our kitchen. The previous two were easily controlled by buying some of those ant bait traps that take care of the whole colony. I usually buy the double-sided ones with two different types of bait. This time around, those snazzy little traps have been useless! These ants wouldn't even go in there! Not only do I still have the ants, but I wasted my money!

So, after trying many things (including keeping things clean around the kitchen and even using a little spray poison), I finally decided to try out a natural remedy I read about online- vinegar. Sunday night, I cleaned the entire kitchen and sprayed everything down with vinegar- counter tops, cabinet fronts, sink, side of the refrigerator. As of today, I have only seen one or two stray ants over the last couple of days. Best of all, I have gobs of vinegar and didn't have to pay a thing. I really didn't even mind the smell...much. I'm thinking I might start making more use of the cost effective solution!

And that, folks, is what works for me!

Be sure to visit Shannon's site for more tips!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Frugal Cooking

One of my favorite frugal cooking tips is to cook soups. They are easy to make and can make enough for a number of servings, not to mention they're very healthy! I cook soup at least once a week and use the leftovers for lunches. Here are some of my favorite recipes:

Sweet Potato Bean Soup (From Taste of Home)
2 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 small green pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 t minced fresh cilantro
1 t ground cumin
1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14.75 oz) whole kernel corn, drained
2 c water
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 plum tomato, seeded and chopped

Place sweet potato in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring water to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and cook for 13-18 minutes or until tender. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of liquid. Cool slightly. Place sweet potato and reserved liquid in a a blender or food processor; cover and process until smooth. Set aside.

In a small saucepan with a little bit of water, cook green pepper, onion and garlic until almost tender. Stir in cilantro and cumin; cook until vegetables are tender. Add the beans, corn, water, tomato sauce, salt, pepper and reserved sweet potato puree; heat through. Garnish wiht green onions and tomato. (For a thinner soup, you may want to add another can of tomato sauce.)

Black Bean Soup
3 cans (15 0z) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 3/4 c vegetable broth
1 cup fresh salsa
1/4 t ground oregano
1/4 t chili powder (more to taste)
several dashes hot sauce (optional)

Reserve 1 cup of the beans in a separate bowl. Place the remaining beans, the vegetable broth and the salsa in a blender jar. Process until fairly smooth, then pour into a saucepan. Add the reserved beans to the saucepan with the remaining ingredients. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes to blend flavors. Adjust seasoning to taste before serving. (I always double this recipe.)

Mexi Soup
1 onion, chopped
1/3 c water
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
1 can (15 oz) kidney beans, undrained
1 can (15 oz) garbanzo beans, undrained
1 can (16 oz) creamed corn
1 c vegetable broth
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1 T taco seasoning
several dashes hot sauce

Place the onion and water in a large soup pot. Cook, stirring occasionally for 4 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 25 minutes.

Corn & Cheddar Chowder (from Grandma's Kitchen)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 T butter
2 T flour
2 1/2 c chicken broth
1 (16 oz) can cream-style corn
1 c frozen whole kernel corn
1/2 t hot pepper sauce
3/4 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese
freshly ground black pepper, optional

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; cook and stir 5 minutes. Sprinkle onion wiht flour; cook and stir 1 minute. Add chicken broth to saucepan; bring mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. Add cream-style corn, corn kernels, bell pepper and hot pepper sauce; reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer chowder an additional 15 minutes. Remoe saucepan from heat; gradually stir in Cheddar until melted. Ladle into soup bowls; sprinkle with black pepper, if desired. Serve immediately. Garnish chowder with additional chopped bell pepper and fresh parsley, if desired. For a milder chowder, omit hot sauce and substitute a milder type of Cheddar. (Sometimes I add a couple of potatoes, peeled and cubed. I also usually double this recipe, too.)

These recipes make quite a bit of soup (especially if doubled), and I will make them for dinner and then eat them for lunch for several days.

For more frugal tips, be sure to visit Biblical Womanhood!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

For Tricia

Over in my sidebar, I have a list of people who have inspired me in various areas of my life. One of the most amazing stories I have been following is that of Nate, Tricia and Gwyneth. If you haven't checked them out yet, do it; you will be encouraged and inspired.

One of the posts on there recently has come from the inspiration of another blogger who herself has been challenged in the area of being thankful for her children and all the mishaps that go along with parenting. She made a list of things she can't wait for Tricia to experience with Gwyneth, and then invited others to participate. Nate has extended the same invitation. So, here is my list (all of which I have done in the past 24 hours). I can't wait for Tricia to:
  • clean up the water from the bathroom floor from the humidifier tank your daughter just broke
  • sing silly songs and make silly faces just tyring to coax a few more bites into her stubborn little mouth
  • get up at 5AM to lay your suprisingly awake little one back in bed and praying she'll go back to sleep and wake up at a more considerate hour
  • soothe your little girl who seems more interested in crying than in taking her morning nap
  • help her practice taking steps into your arms
  • cheer when you're sure that "ah duh" means "all done" and "doo" means "dog"
  • coax her to say "mama" instead of "bahbahbah" and "duhduhduh" all day long
  • do everything you can to make her laugh

Motherhood is not without it's challenges, but I love it, and I love my daughter to pieces. Please continue to pray that Tricia will get her new lungs soon and will get to enjoy all the many precious moments with her daughter that life can bring.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Update on getting rid of clutter

Well, my organization project from last week was a little more involved than I initially thought. I did get rid of the clutter from the dining room table fairly easily. The computer desk was quite another story. I spent a good bit of time sorting through the piles. By the end of that task, I had managed to produce several smaller piles that are currently still strewn all over the guest bed (which is in the room with the desk). I discovered I needed some new organizational items for my desk in order to completely get rid of the piles, so I purchased those last week. This week, I hope to complete this task and finally post my 'after' pictures!

Best Week at CVS Yet!

Wow! Last week's CVS deals were great! In two trips and four transactions, I got all of this...

...for 6.73. That's-
1 Venus razor
2 Pantene hair gel
2 Swiffer dry sweeper cloths (large box)
1 Glade flameless candle
2 Glade candles
3 Garnier shampoo/cond.
2 Tresemme shampoo/cond.
1 Tresemme hair gel
5 Colgate toothpaste
2 Oral B toothbrushes

I only have 7 ECBs to roll over on account of the fact that I bought a third bottle of Garnier not realizing that it was limit of 2 on earning ECBs. Not only did I not get any ECBs, I paid for it in ECBs and used one of my coupons. I also had some issues with the toothpaste. Two of the tubes I bought were mentioned in the ad as being on sale with ECBs, but they rang up at a different price and I didn't get the ECBs. I've been contemplating calling Customer Service about it. I used ECBs to pay for them, so I can't get anything back by returning them. Grr...

The Garnier deal is running again this week, and so is the Venus razor deal. Those are probably the only deals I'll do this week, but I might add the Irish Spring deal just because I got a CRT (cash register tape) coupon for Irish Spring which will make the deal even better.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Get Rid of the Clutter!

I really dislike clutter. I am by nature an organized person and love to file things away. How then, do I end up like this?

...And this?

Well, it would be easy for me to blame it on my husband, who is by nature a "pile-er" and not a "file-er," but that wouldn't really be fair. We both contribute to the piles, as some days it is just plain easier to do that than find the proper place for it. I, in turn, let it go because the task appears to be overwhelming for just me (the only one who seems to be bothered by it)!

Today, my transcription workload is light, so I have decided to participate in Crystal's Making Your Home a Haven Monday challenge over at Biblical Womanhood. These are obviously the before pictures of my dining room table and workspace, both of which are in some serious need of organization and de-cluttering. My plan is to tackle this later this afternoon. Won't my husband be surprised when he gets home!

Be sure to visit Crystal's blog at Biblical Womanhood for more on making your home a haven!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

50 free prints at CVS!!!

I found this link on Crystal's site. It's a great deal, especially if it's your first time using CVS's photo dept. But, even if you're already registered, you can still get 30 free prints, I believe. To my knowledge it does not have an expiration date.

50 free prints at CVS!