Sunday, January 24, 2010

Taking a Moment to help those in Haiti

My Sister in Law sent me some information on an organization called "Feed My Starving Children"

Here's their "Mission Statement"

"Feed My Starving Children is a non-profit Christian organization committed to feeding God’s starving children hungry in body and spirit. The approach is simple: children and adults hand-pack meals formulated specially for starving children, and we ship the meals to more than 60 countries around the world."

From its beginnings, Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) has worked to develop a food mixture that would be easy and safe to transport, simple to make with only boiling water, and culturally acceptable worldwide.

With the input of scientists from major food companies in the Twin Cities area—including Cargill and General Mills—FMSC developed a formula consisting of:
1. Rice, the most widely accepted grain around the world.

2. Extruded soy nuggets, providing maximum protein at lowest cost.

3. Vitamins, minerals and a vegetarian chicken flavoring to give growing children the critical nutritional elements they need.

4. Dehydrated vegetables for flavor and nutrition.

Packaged in small pouches—each of which provides six highly nutritious meals—this easy-to-prepare food blend has won rave reviews all over the world. While the formula was designed to save the lives of severely malnourished and starving children, the ingredients also improve the health, growth and physical well-being of children who are no longer in immediate danger of starvation. A team of food scientists continues to monitor the FMSC formula to ensure that it meets nutritional needs for the world’s hungry children.
A single bag of food—which provides meals for six children—costs around $1 to produce

Every little bit helps! $30 will feed 3 children for 1 month. Even if you can only afford to donate $1...that's still 6 meals! Do what you can :)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Too Many Toys = Chaos

I don't know about you, but sometimes I just really have the feeling that my kids have too many toys. It probably crosses my mind the most when I'm struggling to get the boys down for their nap and it finally happens (Thank God!) then as I'm tip toeing down the hall trying to be stealthy as to not wake up my precious, although extremely cranky, 1 .5 yr old and 2.5 yr old toddlers when "SPEED? I AM SPEED? VROOOOOOOOOMMMMM!"
...That would be the sound of the Lighting MacQueen Shake 'n' Go speedracer car as I trip over it and send it racing down the hall.

"Mommy?! MacQueen?? I LOVE MACQUEEN!"

Yep. I just woke them up with my unfailing gracefulness. However I often can't help but to wonder if the "less is more" concept could very well be applied to our toy dilema. I've tried just about every toy organization unit on the market, we have 2 overflowing toy boxes and many skillfully stacked piles of toys throughout our 1,100 sq ft home. At any given time, the boy's bedroom floor may or may not be visible under a few dozen matchbox cars that "Not Me" dumped out, various stuffed animals and "toys" with so many bells & whistles that I'm convinced that the Toy Companies teamed up with Pharmaceutical Companies to drive moms crazy. You see, if they sell enough toys with enough noisemakers, Moms accross the world will have no choice but to buy some sort of medication to keep their sanity. I swear I can hear Elmo singing the alphabet in my sleep.

So we're trying something new. I went out and bought 4- 25 gallon plastic totaes. We left 1 toy box with some favorite toys in their bedroom and we're using the other toy box to store extra blankets and linen (this is also tackling our overcrowded linen closet- woohoo!). All the rest of toys go in these totes. I use a 3X5 card to label what's inside each tote and then we stack them up in the closet. If the boys get bored with what's in the toy box they can pull out ONE tote. However, before than can pull out another tote, the first one needs to be cleaned up and put away.
Today is our first day using this system. Surprisingly they haven't even noticed that 80% of their toys are no longer scattered all over. They're playing more quietly with the few favorites in the toy box, they're playing less destructively (no throwing, smashing etc.) and most impressively they're playing TOGETHER more. It's been a pretty quiet morning and as I look around my living room I am no longer struck with the yucky feeling that a toy store may have barfed all over my home.

I can see my floor...and I like it.

Humble Homemaking Words to Live By:

"To keep one's voice sweet, one's face bright, one's will steady, one's patience unperturbed, in the arena of the home, in the light of one's own family, is no light task" ~Margaret Sangster

Monday, January 18, 2010

Some Easy Peasy Recipes (Or as I like to call them, Pantry Cleaners and Wallet Savers)

These are 2 recipes that I use fairly often. I almost always have the ingredients on hand, they're delicious, and most importantly...they're cheap.

Crockpot Shredded Chicken (serves 2 adults, 2 toddlers)
3 Chicken Breasts (Or Pork Chops or any Combination of the 2)
1 Chopped Onion
1 Bottle of BBQ Sauce

Throw it all in a crockpot on low and cook til the Chicken's done, about 3 or 4 hours. Use 2 forks to shred the Chicken and Serve on Bread or Rolls.
Tip: Sometime the BBQ sauce will get too thin for my liking. When this happens I take the top off of the Crockpot for the last 30 mins and it'll thicken right up.

Italian Stew...or something. (Easily serves 4 adults, 2 toddlers)
2-3 Chicken Breasts or Italian Sausage
4 Cups of Chicken Broth or White Wine or Water
2 Cups frozen Spinach
1 Can of Butter Beans or Cannelini Beans
1 Can of Diced Tomatoes

Cook Chicken til almost done. Toss in medium soup pot. Add rest of ingredients. Cook til heated through and yummy. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if you'd like.

Humble Homemaking Words to Live By:
Proverbs 17:1
"Better a dry morsel with quiet than a house full of feasting with strife"

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Another DIY- Do it Yourselfer. Dishwasher Detergent

The Dishwasher is quite possibly the most incredible kitchen appliance to ever have been invented. Know what else? I'd bet money that it was created by a Homemaker...or at least someone with children. My MIL (that's internet lingo for Mother In Law, incase ya didn't know) is 1 of 11; yes, ELEVEN children. Can you imagine cleaning up dinner dishes for that family? My husband's grandmother is a Saint, seriously. Me? Not likely to be cannonized anytime soon. The dishwasher keeps me sane. Pop in the grimey dishes at naptime and sit down with a cup of coffee and let the swishing sound of water and electronic brilliance doing your dirty work relax and sooth you. 45 Minutes later- VOILA! Someday somebody will invent something that loads and unloads that machine...mark my words. However one thing that isn't likely to be replaced anytime soon is Dishwasher Detergent. I personally have a problem with this. It's expensive and bad for the environment. So, yep, you guessed it. I'm going to "Stick it to the Man" as they say, and make my own :).

There are many recipes out there for Homemade Dishwasher Detergent...and I've tried many of them. I've had some pretty cruddy results with some of them and I've finally come to find one that works even better than my preferred store bought Palmolive Eco brand. Here's what you'll need:

Ingredients from Left to Right:

Citric Acid- This can be bought in most health food stores (Wegmans, for all you New Yorkers!). I buy it online because it's cheaper to buy in bulk. This prevents a cloudy residue from forming on your glasswear. Some people say you can substitude with 10-15 packages of Lemon KoolAid (the unsweatened kind in those small envelopes) but I haven't had much success with this. I got a cloudy film when I tried the substitute but some people swear by it!

Arm & Hammer Washing Soda: Not to be confused with BAKING Soda. Can be found in the Laundry section of the grocery store. Usually it's on the shelf near the Oxy Clean. You can also find this online if your local grocer doesn't carry it.

Borax: Also found in laundry section near Oxy Clean & can be bought online if necessary.

Kosher Salt: I'm thinking you can probably figure this one out on your own...

Recipe: 1 Cup Borax, 1 Cup Washing Soda, 1/4 Cup Citric Acid, 1/4 Cup Kosher Salt, Clean Dry 32 oz container (Ex: Empty Mayo jar, Empty Yogurt Container...)

Add 1 Cup of Borax

Add 1 Cup Washing SodaAdd 1/4 Cup Citric Acid Add 1/4 Cup of Kosher Salt:
Shake to Combine Ingredients and....

Miller Brand Dishwasher Detergent! Use 1 tablespoon per load.

So I'm sure you're all wondering. Why Bother? How much is this really going to save?

Well here's the breakdown for you...

1 72 oz bottle of Palmolive Eco Costs: $4.99 plus tax for about 30 loads = .16 cents per Load

Miller Brand:

Borax (76 oz Box): $4.51=> .40cents per batch

Washing Soda (55oz Box)= $3.57=> .48cents per batch

Citric Acid (16oz)= $5.47=> $1.15 per batch

Kosher Salt (48oz)= 1.99 => .08cents per batch

TOTAL: $2.11 per batch

Each batch is enough for about 50 loads and that equals .04 cents per load!

Well, I think that just about speaks for itself doesn't it?

Happy Savings my Fellow Frugalers

P.S. Another reason to make your own Dishwasher Detergent-
Most commercial brands contain Phosphates.
Excess phosphates are known to accelerate the natural aging of
lakes (eutrophication) and also present a serious pollution problem by
encouraging excessive growth of aquatic plants. They enter
waterways as runoff from agricultural lands as fertilizer and as human
and animal waste. The largest source of phosphorous entering the
environment is synthetic detergents which contain phosphate
compounds to soften water, increase the pH of water, and increase
surfactant efficiency. About 7.5 billion pounds of detergents were
used in the United States in 1991. This source accounts for over 2
billion pounds of phosphorus which is nearly half the phosphorous
entering our waters. Sodium tripolyphosphate (STPP) is most widely
used, and ordinary detergents may contain up to 50% of it by weight.
Automatic dishwasher detergents require high levels of STPP
because it effectively prevents water spotting during the drying
As of 1992, 30 states, containing about half the population of the
U.S., have either limited or are considering limiting the use of

Moral of the Story: Purge of Phosphates, Save the Environment!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Spending too much Dough and other Bread musings.

We're a relatively small brood of 2 adults and 2 children ages 3 and under. Amazingly enough we go through AT LEAST 3 loaves of bread. Each. Week. Usually more like 4.
What can I say? Sandwiches are easy & accessable. My husband works on the road so he can't bring leftovers for lunch. Toast is a must with my morning coffee. Need a little something extra at dinner time? Bread and butter is our cure all.
So I got to thinkin'.
A good loaf of Wheat Bread costs anywhere from about $1.99 to $2.50 depending on the brand and the store. That means we're spending $5.97-$7.50 +tax per week...on BREAD! Ugh! I started thinking about ways to cut the cost of bread. $5.97-$7.50 per week may not seem like a lot to you...but that's $310.44-$390 per year! Anyway, I came up with 3 possible alternatives.
1. Limit Sandwiches in our Household
2. Buy White Bread
...Wait, no. That's just not going to happen. I haven't eaten White Bread since I was about 8 and my memories are not fond. Yuck.
3.?? Make Your Own.
Alright-Confession: I love to cook. I find comfort and solace in taking a few basic ingredients (or not so basic, depending on my mood), cooking them in a number of different ways (oohhh the possibilities!!), and the end result being all but Divine.
...Baking? Ehhh
Baking means Measuring. Baking means Chemistry. I HATE Chemistry. Unless your referring to a love scene from The Wedding Date, my favorite Chick Flick.
I DO, however, enjoy saving money. And so I embark on this journey of fickle yeast, gluten and ::shudders:: measuring cups. I'll be using the recipe for Wheat Bread from my Better Homes & Gardens cookbook (Thanks, Aunt Sharon!). Aunt Sharon gave me this cookbook for my wedding shower and it has been, and remains to be, my life preserver for all things Culinary ever since the commencement of marital, and subsequently, domestic life.
Attempt #1: Followed Instructions to a "T"...I swear! I even used measuring cups! The dough never actually proofed (baker talk for rising). I...decided to bake it anyway haha.
Outcome: Brickish.
Attempt #2: Same as above. Poor, Poor hubby. least he'll get his fiber this week! :)Attempt #3: Ok, I went through the "Tips" section of BH&G. I read something about proofing the bread in your unheated oven with a bowl of hot water underneath. Like This:
The dough proofed a tiny bit...I think. Baked it....Bricked it.
Attempt #4: I enlisted the help of a veteran Bread Baker for this one. She suggested activating the yeast in a small bowl with 1c. of warm water and a tablespoon of sugar. If it foams up in 5 minutes...all systems are a go. If not, it's bad yeast. Well I got foam! So I proofed it in the oven just like BH&G said. IT PROOFED! Majorly. It was wonderful! So I proceded on with my dough. It says to let it proof again for 45mins after you put it in the bread pans. It was going along so well. It was rising to almost double it's original size.
and then we got some turbulence. In other words, my 2 year old ran through the kitchen like a heard of elephants. This burst my little bread bubble as I looked in on the bread just in time to see the bread deflate as a result of said turbulence. This is what happened:'s got wrinkles :(. However, with hopes high, I decide to bake it anyway. *Hoping* that maybe it'll rise again while it bakes. I'm a sucker for high hopes. This is what it looked like after baking.Flat and Brickish.

And so...I'll bid my bread making aspirations adieu for now. I will not give up though! After doing some calculations I found that baking your own loaf of bread would cost approximately $1.20. That's $3.60 per week for 3 loaves of bread. That'll save about $2.37-$3.90 per week or $123-$202 per year!

As for the bricks...

Bread Pudding!
and Caramel Sauce!

Until next time...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Simple Beginnings!

Welcome to The Humble Homemaker!

This will be a place of, yep- you guessed it!


Cooking, Cleaning, Children, Baking, Frugal Living (my personal fave). All on a modest Budget

I look forward to sharing tips and receiving feedback from you all on this journey.

Home is where your Story Begins!

Simple Beginnings...and I do mean Simple!