Search This Blog

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sock Monster

We have a very large and satisfied Sock Monster at our house. How do I know he's large and well fed? Because half of our socks are missing. We tie-dyed a bunch of new socks for an upcoming party and even 2 of those came up missing. So there must be a Sock Monster--that's the only logical conclusion, right? Couldn't be kids leaving mismatched socks in the bottom of the dryer or behind the hamper. Surely they are conscientious enough to check their aim as their clothing sails through the air and magically into the hamper every night, right?

In any case I have a load of mismatched socks and I can't throw them away because I am convinced that the Sock Monster has a wife or a girlfriend who will force him to return the stolen socks and I will be ticked when the match shows up if I've thrown out the other sock.

So what to do......

Considering some of these socks have been mate less for months I considered setting them up to make new unions--but that seems too political--forcing matches where clearly they have not much in common--should stripes be with polka dots? I don't really care, the baby would think that was great, and luckily I don't care what the neighbors think. Still these socks have a lot of life in them so they should fulfill a purpose, even it it's a purpose not original to their design.

Here are some ideas just in case you too have a sock monster at your house.

1. Dust rags--a child's hand, or your own, can easily slip inside to clean up dust.
2. Doll clothes- cut a neck of out the toe, and arm slits in either side of the sock and your doll has a new dress or shirt.
3. Tie-dye the leftovers to make new pairs of "matching" socks.
4. Hackey-Sac/bean bag- fill the toe with beans, sew into a ball shape, cut off extra.
5. Coin purse- you can purchase a small purse clasp at many craft stores and attach it to the top of the sock.
6. Party Invitation- "This Birthday will Knock Your Socks Off" or "Have a Heel of a Good Time at our Party." Slip the invite inside the sock and enjoy the festivities.
7. Drink cozy- (for larger socks). Cut off the toe and place a coffee/tea mug inside to keep beverage warm without burning your hands. You can adjust the height of the sock as necessary.
8. Sock curls or sock bun. Click HERE or HERE for instructions.
9. Sack for small objects- we are constantly losing pieces to games or finding missing pieces to games. Maybe sock sacks could be a temporary home for these things until someone has time to return them to their rightful place.
10. Seriously--make it a game and see who can find the missing sock, or for that matter the sock monster.

I have heard to keep socks matched, put them in a lingerie bag and not in a hamper. That's a great idea. I am just happy for the clothes to make it into the wash each week---sock organization be darned! (HA, HA, HA)
Happy Hunting!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Resourceful Economics and Food Storage

To really stretch our food budget dollars is to use up every package and minimize waste. Food Storage, and learning how to use it, will increase your grocery budget, and if done correctly, can actually end up being “extra money” in your budget. You minimize waste and take a few minutes to make a few things rather than buying them will allow you to spend those dollars elsewhere. What do you do with the ends of the loaf of bread? What about the broken up cracker pieces. It may not seem like much to keep, but over time you are wasting a lot of useable food. 

BIG TIP: If you won’t eat it under “normal” (non-disaster) circumstances, don’t buy it or store it. An emergency is not the time to figure out how to use what is stored and if you like it or not. Practice using all items and recipes before storing them.

Homemade Croutons- using the heels of bread, day old bread, or bread that you forgot about, you can make your own croutons for soup, salad or casseroles.
8 slices of bread, crusts removed (any type, mix & match)
¼ c. butter or margarine, melted
¼ c. olive oil
3/4 tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. EACH onion powder, paprika and Italian seasoning
Salt, a pinch
Preheat oven to 350 deg. Cut bread into cubes. In large bowl melt butter, add olive oil and seasonings. Mix together, add bread crumbs and toss evenly. Bake on baking tray for 20 minutes, turning once half way through baking process.  Bake until crisp, then cool on pan. Store in airtight container in fridge.

Homemade Breadcrumbs
Using dry bread, leftover or broken crackers, you can make a quick bread crumb for coating fish, pork or chicken dinners.
Bread or crackers
1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
2 tsp. onion flake
½ tsp. garlic powder
Place all ingredients in blender or food processor and pulsate to crumbs. You can store these in an airtight container for about a week.

Tips on Herbs
Cut up and freeze in ice cube trays to use later in soups or stews.
Save old spice bottles to store your dehydrated spices from your garden.
Dehydrate in oven or microwave or even in the sun. Place on tray and bake 350 until dried.
Food Storage Chili
2 lbs.  Hamburger
1 medium onion
2 cans of whole tomatoes (15 oz)
1-2 cans tomato sauce (15 oz)
2 cans kidney beans (or one black and one kidney)
1 can white beans
1 can pinto beans
2 TBSP chili powder
2 tsp. Cumin
1 tsp.  garlic powder
salt, pepper to taste
1-2 cups water (start with one and add more if too thick)
1-2 jalapeno peppers, chopped* optional
Brown meat and onion in large stock pot. Add water, tomatoes, beans and seasonings. Let simmer for 30-40 minutes until thickened.
Tip for using Oats: Substitute 1/3 of the flour you are using to bake cookies, muffins, waffles, pancakes or bread, with oats. They add fiber and whole grains easily.

Instant Oatmeal Packets
¾ c. rolled oats
1 ½ c. quick oats
½ c. powdered milk
½ c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
Blend dry rolled oats in a blender, pulsing until powdery. In a bowl combine oats with remaining ingredients. Put ½ c. mixture into Ziploc bags. To use: combine one packet with 2/3 c. water and microwave for 2 minutes. Add dried or fresh fruit as desired.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Bean Advice from Shanna

To go along with a recent post/ class I taught at church here is some advice from my good friend Shanna. She is awesome and gracious to share her knowledge. If you attended the class, below is the info we reviewed.
Guest Post: Shanna's Bean Tips and Recipes
Beans are really easy to cook with and they add a lot of texture, flavor, and bulk (they keep you satisfied longer) to recipes.  The hardest thing is to plan far enough ahead to have them ready when you need them, assuming you are using dried beans.  Most beans need to be soaked for 4-12 hrs, drained, and then placed in more water to cook for 1-2 hrs. There are instructions on the packages I find it easiest to soak them overnight, then set them to cook while getting ready in the morning.  I put the cooked beans in the refrigerator to use when I get home that night to cook dinner.  Beans from a can work well too if you don't want to start from scratch, but they do have sodium in them as a preservative. Here are some of my favorite recipes (my family doesn't always like them, but I do!):

Black bean salsa
1 cup cooked black beans
1 tablespoon of liquid from cooked beans
2 tablespoons of lime juice
1/3 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 cup diced onion
1 chopped chili pepper
1/2 cup cooked corn
1/2 cup avocado
2 cups chopped tomatoes
Mix all ingredients and chill for 4 hrs.

Instant Refried Beans
3 cups dry beans
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
cayenne pepper to taste
Grind beans to a flour consistency, add remaining ingredients and store in an air tight container.

To use- 3/4 cup of bean mix
           2 1/2 cups boiling water
mix with a wire whisk in a saucepan, bring to a boil, and simmer on low for 4-5 min.  This works great for camping trips!

Minestrone Soup
1 onion chopped
1 potato chopped
1 carrot chopped
1 tsp. oil
fry until onion and potato are golden brown
2 cups water
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste
boil for 15 min.
1 zucchini sliced
2 cups kidney beans
1 cup canned tomatoes (I prefer to use fresh chopped tomatoes)
1 cup pasta
boil 15 min. and serve

Moist Cocoa-Lentil Cake
2 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup lentils
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup oil (3/4 cup applesauce and 1/4 cup oil works great too!)
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
4 tablespoons cocoa
1 1/2 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt

Bring water to a boil, add salt and lentils.  Simmer, covered for 40 min. (this can be done in advance)  Drain lentils, reserving 1/4 cup of the liquid.  Puree lentils and liquid in a blender.  Mix in a bowl, oil, sugar, and eggs.  Beat for 2 minutes.  Add puree, and vanilla fold in.  Then add remaining ingredients, beating for 2 minutes.  Pour into a greased cake pan.  Bake at 350* for 30-35 minutes.

My all time favorite place for beans is chili, but most people have a recipe they really like already.
I also like to add beans to my tacos, salads, soups and pureed in any tomato based sauce, like spaghetti sauce.  (I sneak pureed vegetables in that way too!)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Loose Change Challenge

I had this great idea late last night. What if I kept all my change for a month and saved it for something useful. Kind of like the debit card that rounds up your total and puts the extra in your savings account. So if you spend $5.90 they take $6.00 and put the extra 10 cents into your savings. I can't remember which card, but you get the idea.

So if I did the same thing with my change and just put it in a jar--would it add up to anything useful?
Most of the time my change ends up at the bottom of my purse and pays Tooth Fairy bills or allowance for the little ones that think five coins to pick up their room is great!

I found this great article on a favorite blog of mine. Check it out here to discover what a little spare change can do. The writer Sarah uses her spare change to build her emergency essential supplies.

I think that is a great idea. What else could you do with some spare change? Maybe donate it to a local charity, send it to troops overseas or buy some surprises to thank your kids' teachers.

I have a feeling that a little bit of change can make some big changes. I am taking up the challenge to make a difference with my change....join me!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

DIY Photo Gallery

Remember the 274 pictures I took from our Washington, DC trip? If not click here for a reminder of a most amazing place everyone should visit. Here's the picture I took in DC of our Capitol. We decide to restyle our bedroom. And ...

 Here's what we did. A photo gallery of some of our favorite architecture in DC. The middle is a piece of Subway Art of the Metro Stops, I matted it to some painted wood and added a picture hanger on the back-easy!

The pictures are black and white canvases--you can always find deals on Shutterfly, My Publisher or Snapfish for canvas deals, because normally they are about $60 for an 11 x 14. If you like the canvas look you can Google for them, or just print the photo and Modge Podge it onto a wooden backing, and add a picture hanger. If you do that, I recommend spraying the wood with adhesive spray first, then attaching photo, run a credit card along the top and edges of photo to remove bubbles and then Modge Podge over photo.

I have to thank my tech savvy husband for changing our colored shots into black and white. Pretty great reminder, and motivator!

Top left: The window at St. Patrick's Catholic Church
Bottom Left: Washington National Bank
Top Right: U.S. Capitol
Bottom Right: The support beams in the underground Metro tunnels

Friday, February 1, 2013

Doing More with Less: More Money Saving Tips

If you tuned into Monday Money (Jan. 28 post) you have learned some tips to help you live below your means this year.

Here are a few more tips for stretching those pennies...

1. Learn some basic skills. You don't have to have a sewing machine to survive, but some basic skills help. Mending a sock or cutting off torn jeans into shorts will help stretch those pennies. It's easier, and cheaper to fix something when it's slightly worn.

2. Repurpose. Think about swapping things with friends. You decide you don't like your old jeans, find a friend to trade your old jeans for her old earrings and you've got something new at no cost. Or turn a damaged table cloth into a table runner, an old sweater into a hat or Tye-dye that bleached t-shirt. Painting furniture or old frames can give the piece new life. Making something old new again, saves our landfills and your pocketbook.

When you buy an item see if there are other possible uses than what it was intended. Old drinking glasses can become planters or vases; cloth diapers or old towels can become dusting rags. Think of yourself as a fairy godmother of repurposing objects.

3. Grow things. Use the land you have to become more self sufficient. Try potted gardens if space is limited. Seeds are going on sale now, so try a few things this year. If you are a skilled gardener, how do you preserve your harvest? Home canning, dehydrating and freezing are great ways to enjoy it all year long. These are easy methods and will save you money.  

One of my favorite tips: freezing my herbs in ice trays. I harvest my herbs, wash them, chop them up, put them in trays, fill them with water and freeze them. Once frozen, I pop them out and put them in storage containers or bags. I can use them all winter long, they still give fresh tasting herb flavor to soups, stews and casseroles.

Simple way to self sufficient living.
Happy Savings!