Monday, July 13, 2009

Cooking & Camping

I love to camp. And I love to bake. So imagine how I feel when I can combine the two!

The first night I made bread. Yep. Yeast bread!!

The key to camp cooking is to prepare your stuff ahead of time. Before
we left home, I measured out all my dry ingredients and put them in a zip top bag. I wrote on it the directions & measurements for the wet ingredients. Once we were up there I just needed to warm my milk, add the butter & yeast - mix it together, let it rise & then bake! I baked it in my dutch oven over the fire. . . let me tell you it was quite impressive!

We loved it so much I almost forgot to take a photo to share!

Night two I made a dessert. This is a cobbler type thing that I've forgotten the name of. You had to make a dough, then add the milk & kneed it.

Pat it flat, then add it into the dutch oven with the fruit filling.

I made Peach. Here's how it turned out:

More please Mom! This little cutie loved eating outdoors!

Now. . . a few tips about camping - Pack carefully so that you can still see out the back. I'm happy to say I got everything we needed into the vehicle and we took home everything we came with and some stuff the family had brought separately for us! Wow that's impressive packing.

I know this is cute. . . But don't pick wildflowers. Some only bloom every 7 years (not these yellow ones). And lupine won't last in a glass unless you singe the ends with a flame. Besides, wildflowers need to bloom & go to seed so there will be flowers next year!
When you leave - don't forget to drown your fire. Look at this steam & smoke. . . that was one hot fire!

Have fun & let me know how your trip goes!


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Coupon Savings!

Great news!! I opened my coupon spreadsheet yesterday and started looking at it closely.

I've saved $118.13 using coupons in January, and $40.49 so far in February. This is not counting the store savings - this is just coupons! That's great!! And I will say I'm super picky about coupons. I don't use them for anything I wouldn't normally buy. I'm also careful to check to see if the generic is less without a coupon than the brand name is with the coupon.

So I thought today I'd post a few of my favorite links to the money saving blogs I like to read. Eventually I'd like to get them into my list on the sidebar.

**Please note these are not links - you'll need to copy & paste to open the link. Sorry about that.
This is where my grocery/coupon spreadsheet came from
I love this one on Weds!! - they have links to tons more blogs with great tips!

This is the BEST at keeping track of your money - it does it for you. Sadly I use a local credit union & it can't link up with them - but it tracks everything else. I just started using this last month

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Storage idea!

I had a great idea last week for storing all my holiday door decorations. Its so easy I can't believe I didn't think of it sooner!

I started putting up command hooks on the inside of my closet door. Then I hung all the door decorations on the hooks! Brilliant! And so simple!

This is not our main closet, but an extra one in the basement. This is also where I keep wrapping paper & other holiday decorations. The Christmas & Easter stuff are in boxes in the garage - but everything else fits in here.

Come see more fun stuff at Rocks In my Dryer's WFMW

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Spring is coming and so are my bees!! I have a colony of Cutter Bees living in my back yard. So I bought them a house. What else would a good former-Realtor do?

It was a purchase from a man in Seattle who sells his stuff on Etsy. The AR is his initials - I wish that it could have been customized with mine or just said bee or something. But I love the bee logo and the house is fabulous!

Cutter bees are the same as Mason bees. They won't hurt anyone - they just like to pollinate.

I'm putting the box out this week. I know its early but better early than late!

While we're talking houses - I also bought a butterfly house from the same shop.

I hope I can get a few to move in! We'll just have to wait & see. Come see more hints & tips at Rocks in my Dryer


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Saving $$$ 1996 Style!

I have this book from 1996 that my MIL bought for me at a yard sale about six or seven years ago. The prices are so funny to read! Pillsbury refrigerator biscuits go on sale for $.25! Hahaha! Ground beef is $.99 per lb. Expensive cereal is $3 a box. But the concepts are still very valid!

I'm re-reading it and have found some GREAT recipes!

Right now I'm making homemade granola. I'll post the recipe after I decide if I like it. The one I'm excited about is a cream of ___ soup mix.

Cream of ____ Soup Mix
2 cups instant milk
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup instant chicken bouillon
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp pepper

Combine these in an air tight container.

To use for soup, combine 1/3 cup mix and 1-1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil stirring often. Add a vegetable for more flavor - diced celery, mushrooms or broccoli.

To use for any recipe calling for a can of cream of mushroom, chicken, or celery soup use 1/3 cup mix and 1-1/4 cup of water. Boil a few minutes & stir often.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Potty training time

Already? Ava will be 2 at the end of Feb. She's just barely in a size 24 months. Her car seat is rear facing - she weighs 22 lbs soaking wet. But she's showing potty training signs.

Today marks day 2 of training.

When Emma was this age she was showing signs of being ready, so I bought some great vinyl training pants. It was my first intro to cloth diapers. Who knew I'd like them? I bought them because I hold the opinion that a diaper keeps you dry and you don't feel uncomfortable. And if you're not uncomfortable, why bother using the potty? (This is what I think two year olds are thinking) It was a great clearance sale - they were less than $2 or $3 each. A few have had a mishap or two over the years of being borrowed & loaned out. I learned the hard way they don't like dryers - they just melt holes in the vinyl.

So I've gathered them back from my SIL and will start using them again. Sadly, a good number of them are a 3T! So I started looking online. The ones I want - now that I'm a BTDT (been there done that) mom - have snaps or velcro on the sides for easy emergency removal. They're also quite spendy. PUL isn't cheap. You can't buy in at Joanne's. We're talking special order commercial found on the internet fabric.

But I started thinking and then I started sewing! I made my own cloth trainers! And they're waterproof too!

I used a pair of panties for a pattern and made it a bit larger. I traced them in one piece so it sort of looks like a diaper shape. Then I wondered why I didn't just trace one of my very nice cloth diapers? I cut one layer for the outside - I chose a cute green flannel. One layer for the inside - off white polar fleece. I would have prefered a microfiber cloth, like the dust cloths you buy - but wasn't fond using it on my first pair of trainers.

My waterproof lining is. . . (get this). . . grocery sacks! I saw a tutorial for this on Etsy. You cut your grocery sacks and lay them out flat. I found the easiest thing is to cut off the handles and the bottom, then cut down one side. I came out with a piece about 3 feet long. You layer them about 5 or so bags thick and slowly melt with your iron. You need to have parchement paper sandwiching the bottom & top layer, so you don't melt onto the iron or the ironing board. If you need more waterproof fabric you melt a piece, then slip it about an inch into the next sandwiched bit of plastic, and melt them all together.

I actually cut the plastic liner first, then the fleece & flannel. I stitched right sides together everywhere but the back. Added some elastic that I stretched as I stitched on the leg openings. Flipped it right side out. Added more elastic on the back and stitched that all closed. Added my velcro & there you go!

They crinkle a bit - its not a quiet thing to wear. But they work! Its not a diaper, it won't hold a lot of liquid for very long, but it keeps a puddle from forming on the floor! I don't think you can dry in the dryer - the plastic liner is likely to melt. My next pair will have a bit more room on the sides for the tabs but overall I think they're great! And it saved me $14 a pair!

You can see the finished trainer on top of an extra layer of my plastic fabric. Be sure to cut larger than you want the finished product - look at how much smaller this turned out in the end.

Love the bag melting bit? Here's more on what to do with your new found fabric! Etsy ideas

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Save $$$ on dishwasher soap

So this year for us is all about spending less $$$ and saving more. I'm trying out new ways to be frugal & searching online for this good info.

Dishwashing Soap for about 8 cents per load
  • 1 Tablespoon Borax (76 oz sold for $5 at Ace)
  • 1 Tablespoon baking soda (128 oz for $13 online - it may be less at Costco where I bought a big bag)

Mix the Borax and baking soda together. Then, add to your dishwasher's detergent compartment, and run as usual. I like to mix up a big batch & fill an old Costco soap container.

Interesting facts:

Borax and baking soda are both natural disinfectants and mild abrasives – just what you need to blast away stuck on food and germs. In fact, you may be interested to learn that Borax is a common ingredient in many commercial detergents.

Why bother?

  • its inexpensive
  • there are no harsh chemicals
  • it does not emit chlorine gas like other commercial detergents
  • it is an effective sanitizer
  • it is an effective stain remover
  • its an effective water softener
  • and its environmentally-friendly (phosphate-free)
  • You actually use a lot less of this than the commercial stuff
Be sure to keep this away from kids & pets just like any other cleaner. I also marked the 2T line on my old scoop so I know I'm not using too much. I've been doing this for a month & have only once had to re-wash my dishes. (I'd loaded them funny & they just didn't get clean)

There are lots of places I may have found this info. . . But I'm pretty sure I read it at TipNut

Now head off to RocksInMyDryer for more Works for Me Wed tips!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Photoshop Success!

I've been trying to make a watermark for my photos. I had someone send me a photo of a garment she wanted duplicated with some major modifications. I later realized what site that pic had come from. It got me thinking that lots of people never think about copyrighted stuff, and I don't want my designs being copied (neither does anyone else). . . So I intend to start marking my designs.

Here's my photo with the watermark. I don't know that I can explain this well enough for you to duplicate. Google define brush 6.0 (or whatever photoshop program you're running). I finally figured out that in 6.0 you can't have a custom brush larger than 999 pixels. Whew. That only took me 2 days to figure out!

Basically - the short version is you create a photoshop file of whatever you want the brush to be (smaller than 999 x 999). Go Edit to Define Brush, name it and you're done. That sounds overly simple but it was really easy - once I figured out the size bit!

Here are a few links I used to help me Bitbox DaniDraws Also search online for free brushes - but remember that thing I said about copywrights - don't claim them for your own if they're not and don't try to sell what isn't yours.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Blog Buttons

You know those cute little blog buttons everyone seems to have? Here's how to make one - follow this link

I don't do well following directions & got distracted part way through. So I did mine differently - I made my picture in Photoshop and saved it. Then on Blogspot, in the Layout section I added a gadget - a picture. I uploaded the picture and put my blog address as the link. I added the directions in my comments. I hope it works!

Okay - I'm back. It does not work. I'll be working on it for a bit. Maybe tomorrow I'll figure it out.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Saving $$$ making bread

So we know that baking at home can save money but I have troubles figuring it all out. You take the cost of your flour, decide how much it is an ounce, how many ounces you use. . . blah, blah, blah. It makes my head spin.

Poking around on the King Arthur site, I found this is figured for you at the end of each recipe!!

Here's white sandwich bread. Ignore the fancy name. They need you to use a special pan but also said you can use a regular pan & cover with a cookie sheet weighted with a brick.
Buy vs. Bake

Buy: Pepperidge Farm Very Thin White Bread, 22¢/ounce

Bake at home: Pain de Mie, 8¢/ounce

They also did the same for a cheese cracker similar to a Cheez-It. Mmmmmm. Plus look at the difference in ingredients!

Buy vs. Bake

Buy: Sunshine Cheez-It Crackers, 33¢/ounce

Ingredients: Enriched Flour, Soybean and Palm Oil with TBHQ for Freshness, Skim Milk Cheese, Salt, Contains Two Percent or Less of Paprika, Yeast, Paprika Oleoresin for Color, Soy Lecithin.

Bake at home: Vermont Cheese Crackers, 24¢/ounce

Ingredients: King Arthur Flour, Vermont cheddar cheese, yeast, salt, baking powder, vegetable shortening.

Come see Rocks in my Dryer for more Works for Me Wednesday tips!

Sourdough Starter

I've gotten my sourdough starter going again. I bought a great crock to grow it in & a starter. Then something happened with the starter & I quit. For a good 6 months. But I've got a new one & I made a bread last night!

My starter - before & after replenishing

Dried Yeast Starter

1 pkg active dried yeast
2 cups flour (unbleached white is my fav)
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 Tbs honey

Mix everything together in a non metal container. This will double or even triple so be sure you have room for it. I use a crock, but you can use a canning jar or a bowl. Cover loosely & let stand on the counter for a day or two. You'll see bubbling happen within the first 10 minutes, but let this wait for a few days to get 'sour.'

Feeding/Replenishing your starter
You need to put in about as much as you take out. There's no exact measurement to this - you just need to experiment. I used 1 cup starter, so I replenished with 1 cup flour & 3/4 cup water.

There's some great info here at KingArthurFlour. Its not where I bought my crock - if I remember I'll put the link in.

Sourdough White Sandwich Bread
1 cup starter
1 1/4 cups white flour (unbleached)
1 cup warm water
1 1/2 cups milk
2 Tbs honey
2 tsp salt
2 Tbs butter
6 1/2 cups flour

Mix the first 3 ingredients & let stand 10 to 24 hours.
When you're ready to bake, heat the milk, honey, salt & butter. Cool to lukewarm.
Add cooled mixture to sourdough mixture & beat in enough flour to make a dough you can handle. Turn out onto a floured board and let rest 15 to 20 minutes. Knead until smooth & elastic. Don't skimp on kneading. *I used my KitchenAid with the dough attachment to knead & then hand kneaded for just 3 minutes or so.

After kneading, place in a greased bowl, spritz the top with cooking spray & cover with a damp towel. Place in a warm location & let double. Punch dough down & let rise again. (Each may take 2 hrs to rise) Knead dough into shape you desire & put in baking pan - I've been using my stoneware (Brad ordered these in at Hometown for anyone in Yakima!) & it is fab! You should have 2-3 loaves. Dough should fill each pan about 1/2 way. Cover with a damp cloth & let rise again.

Bake at 375 for 45 minutes.

My dough - before baking but after rising. . . . and after baking.