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Sunday, October 3, 2010

I've been sick!

It's been about 3 weeks since I last blogged, because about 3 weeks ago, I got really sick! Unfortunately, I have a chronic health problem that flares up with a vengeance. Luckily, I'm finally recovering, so my blogging should be back to normal soon! I've got some awesome recipes and frugal ideas for cold weather just waiting to be written!

Friday, September 10, 2010

My Dog Was Attacked!

I had to take my dog, Amber, to the vet this week, because she was attacked by another dog and hurt! Luckily, she wasn't hurt very bad, but she needed stitches, pain killers, and antiseptic cream. Unfortunately, she keeps licking off the antiseptic, so I don't know how much it's helping!

I hope she feels better soon. The other dog came into my yard to attack her, so now I'm scared to let her outside. I think the painkillers are making her sleepy, because she seems a lot more tired than usual. She has all of these missing tufts of hair, and she keeps licking her cuts and whining. At least she's current on her rabies vaccines!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Frugal School Lunches

I've had a lot of people ask me how to make school lunches frugal. I've been packing school lunches for 4 years now, so I've learned a few things about making them affordable! Here is what I've figured out along the way:


Individual bags of chips, packages of cookies, packages of crackers, packages of baby carrots, etc... may look appealing and convenient, but they are real budget busters, not to mention wasteful and bad for the environment. Instead of buying individual packages of baby carrots (for example), just buy a regular sized bag and send one serving every day. You don't even have to put baby carrots in a plastic bag. I wrap them up in a paper towel, and they keep just fine. If you want to send yogurt or applesauce, get a small Tupperware container and portion some out from a regular sized carton, or jar. I have sent applesauce many times this way.


If you want to send cookies to school with your child, make some yourself! If you're not a big baker, buy a bag of cookie mix or brownie mix and go to town! I even buy mixes sometimes, when they are on sale. With sales and coupons, you can get all kinds of mixes for really cheap. Buy some cake mix and make cupcakes! Even if you pay full price for the mix, it is SO much more economical to make your own semi homemade, rather than just buying a package of cookies, muffins, or brownies. Also, the other kids and teachers will think you're mother of the year!:P It literally takes like 20 minutes to whip up a batch of cookies or muffins, whether you're using a mix or not. Just try it and see how happy your child is!


Not only do lunchables contain enough sodium to cause an elephant to have a stroke, they are also a HUGE waste of money and resources. If you want to pack your child some crackers with toppings, just go out and buy some crackers, a few toppings, and call it a day. Better yet, send your child to school with a sandwich on some whole wheat bread! People are always telling me that their child won't eat whole wheat bread, or won't eat fruit, or won't eat vegetables. They WILL eat it if that's what they are offered. Parents have to set the example by eating it first (with enthusiasm!) and then your kids are sure to follow.

Here are my basic lunch plans

Lunch I
Peanut butter sandwich on homemade flax bread (You can buy bread, I just like to make my own!)
An apple, plum, or banana
Blueberries, blackberries, or baby carrots
1 or 2 homemade cookies (depending on the size)
A thermos of juice or soymilk (sometimes I send juice boxes if they were on sale)

Lunch II
Two homemade whole grain muffins, such as zucchini or banana nut
An apple, banana or plum
Berries or baby carrots
1 or 2 homemade cookies
Soymilk or juice

Lunch III
Homemade whole grain pita bread
a small container of homemade hummus
Grape tomatoes, sliced cucumbers and baby carrots in a baggie
1 or 2 homemade cookies
Soymilk or juice

I pretty much always send one of those three lunches to school with my kids, and in 4 years, they have never complained. They especially love the muffin version. Sometimes I will send leftover pumpkin or sweet potato pie if I have any, instead of the cookies.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sweet bread recipe!

I got this awesome recipe from Kristen, who writes The Frugal Girl blog! I often make these bears for my kids when we have Family Home Evening. One time my friend Corey came over and ate like half of one bear all by himself! Once the bread is baked, it tastes great hot from the oven, slathered with butter and honey.

Sweet Bear Bread

4 1/2tsp yeast
2C milk
1/2C sugar
8Tbsp butter
2tsp salt
2 eggs
about 6 1/2C flour

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/3 cup warm water. Heat milk, sugar, butter, and salt until warm, but not hot. Add to dissolved yeast along with eggs and 3 cups of flour. Beat for 3 minutes on medium speed (or stir thoroughly by hand). Add enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough.

Knead dough for an additional 5 minutes on medium speed, or by hand on a floured surface.

Punch dough down and divide into fourths. Shape 2 fourths into balls and place on two greased baking sheets to serve as the body of the bear. Divide 1 fourth in half, shape each piece into a ball, and place above the body piece to serve as the head. Divide remaining fourth into 14 pieces, and shape each piece into a ball. Use 4 balls for the paws, 2 balls for the ears, and 1 ball for the nose of each bear.

Cover the bears with a towel and let them rise in a warm place for 30 minutes, or until doubled. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes, or until browned. Cool on a wire rack.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Reader Questions Post!

Here is another post where I answer reader questions!

Dear Liz,
Do you really think that making your own cleaning products and laundry detergent is a good use of your time? I can get a lot of that stuff practically for free by combining sales with coupons.

I don't make my own soaps and cleaning products just to be frugal. I also do it to avoid having harmful chemicals in my house! I actually started making my own laundry detergent as a way of reducing my allergies. After that, it just made sense to see what else I could make! And let's face it, making your own laundry soap and bathroom cleaner is fun!

Dear Liz,
Don't you worry that your homemade cleaning products aren't getting things clean? Maybe you should buy lysol or something, just for your toilet and kitchen sink!

This is a tough one, because I don't really know if there are tons of harmful bacteria living in my house. I guess if they are, they aren't doing anything. I've been making my own cleaning products for like 3 years, and we hardly ever get sick. I think the key is to just not let the microbes build up in the first place. I scour my kitchen every day, and my bathroom at least every week. Also, I don't prepare any meat anymore, so salmonella and other harmful diseases probably don't get a chance to multiply on my counters and sink.

Dear Liz,
I'm trying to be more frugal, but it seems like I'm always backsliding! How do you stay on track and stick to your budget?

Okay, first of all, everyone backslides! In fact, I backslid just this month! I don't even know where all of my money went. All I do know, is my budgeted cash ran out like 4 days ago. I had to go to the bank and take money out of savings to cover the deficit. The important thing is to make sure you have some savings, so that if you do overspend, you won't have to rely on credit cards, or just do without essentials. My plan next month is to try to be stricter with my budgeted money to hopefully make up what I overspent.
That being said, I do have a budget plan that I normally stick too. I stay within my budget by taking out a specific amount of cash every week and then dividing it up into different envelopes. I put $50 in the grocery envelope, $40 in the gas envelope, $10 in my babysitter envelope, $25 in my lawn care envelope, and $30 in my miscellaneous envelope. Once the money is gone, it's gone. Sticking to the cash system can be difficult, especially since I don't have a ton of cash to work with, but it's helped me to stay within my budget and not run through my savings, or go into debt during these lean times.

Monday, August 23, 2010

$19 per week for lunch??

My youngest daughter, Alia, recently started pre-kindergarten at a private preschool. It's free, because it's part of the Georgia pre-kindergarten program, but the school isn't the same as a public school. I was really bummed that she didn't get into her zoned school! Anyway, one crazy difference, is the private school has this CRAZY rule that you have to pay $19 per week for your 4 year old to eat lunch! I mean that they actually have a rule where you can't pack your child's lunch and you have to pay almost $4 per day for the school lunch! For a 4 year old!!

Luckily, my child is on a special diet, so I was able to get a WAIVER to pack her lunch. I actually had to produce a doctor's note to be eligible for this special privilege. Unbelievable!

Frugal After School Snacks!

In my experience, kids always come home from school hungry. This can be a real budget and health buster if you rely on packaged junk food as snacks. Here are some ideas for snacks that are both healthy AND frugal!

My friend Shannon gave me this awesome recipe!

4C flour (3C whole wheat, 1C white)
1C brown sugar
2Tbsp baking powder
1tsp salt
3 eggs
2C milk
2/3C oil
2C fresh or frozen blueberries, raspberries, blackberries or any combination.

Mix together dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients and mix briefly. Add berries and mix until just combined. Spoon into muffin tins lined with paper liners. Bake @400 degrees for about 15 minutes! This recipe makes 24 muffins.

I got this recipe from The Frugal Girl!

2C quick cooking rolled oats
1C flour
1/2C wheat germ (optional)
1/4C brown sugar
1tsp salt
1/2C oil
1/2C maple syrup or honey
1 egg
1/2C chocolate chips

Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Whip together the wet ingredients with the egg, and then pour over the dry ingredients. Stir together until combined. Add the chocolate chips and stir again. Spread evenly in a greased, rimmed baking sheet. It will seem like this dough will never spread out! I use the back of a big spoon that I've dipped in water. Actually, I often just give up after a while and leave some unevenness. It all still turns out delicious! Bake @35-0 degrees for 15-18 minutes. Cut into bars and enjoy! I try not to make these too often, because I will just sit around eating them!:P

Some other frugal after school snacks are: smoothies, celery with peanut butter, almond "milkshakes," homemade bread with peanut butter, fresh fruit in season, carrot sticks...etc