Monday, January 31, 2011

The Best Oatmeal Cookies

My boys are cookie monsters!

They love cookies as much as I do!

So when I find a cookie recipe that we like, I love to share...

Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 cup shortening
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
2 cups oatmeal
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
6 oz chocolate chips
1 cup nuts, chopped (optional)
1 cup raisins (optional)

Mix sugar and shortening.

Beat and add eggs and flavorings.

Add dry ingredients and mix well.

Drop by teaspoonfuls in greased muffin tins.

Bake at 350 degrees, 12-15 minutes.  Makes 2 dozen.

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday Spotlight: Electrolux Ergorapido

This is a spotlight that I did about a year ago.  It's about a piece of equipment that I use almost daily!  I love this and wanted to share it with you, my groupies again!

Today I want to review a product that every member of my family, except the baby of course, has used and loved. It is a very handy piece of hardware to have in the house, especially a house full of messy males!

This is a lightweight vaccum that can be maneuvered easily around and under things. It works great on hardwood and carpet. But the best feature is that it is cordless! Yes, cordlesss! The Ergorapido has a charging base that doesn't take up much room and helps to store the vaccum easily and discreetly.
Ergorapido has a great little hand vaccum that easily detacts from the stand-up vaccum. I have found that the hand vaccum is perfect for cleaning up after meals. It is perfect for cleaning the food crumbs out of baby's high chair. The Ergorapid is even perfect for cleaning the crumbs from the sofa! I also use the hand vaccum to clean up flour spilage when I am baking. It amazes me all the uses I keep finding for this verstile hand vaccum.
The upright vaccum is amazing too! Since I keep it stored on its charger, its always ready to go. I use it to do touch up cleanings in the kitchen and dinning room daily. It's always ready to pick up the dirt that collects around the front door and where we keep our shoes.
I have found both my son AND my husband using the Ergorapido! Before I purchased this vaccum, I would have to beg and pled to get my husband to help with the vaccuming. When we start cleaning up the house for company coming, my husband and son sometimes fight each other to get to use the Ergorapido. I have found my husband using the vaccum to clean up a mess he made without being asked!
I'm not saying that just because you have the Ergorapid in your home your husband and children will help with the vaccuming but you know never know! I have even found myself vaccuming more!

This is a review of a product that I purchased for my home.  I was not paid by Electrolux for this post.  I like to share products that we use and love with my groupies as often as I can!!

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Two Day Meal Plan

Being the good Southern girl I am, I can cook me some pinto beans!  Now my family loves pintos!  A favorite meal for us is pintos and cornbread. 

And talk about frugal----2 pounds of dried pinto beans is less than $1.00!

I want to share with you how I can take my pintos and make two great meals for my family.

Pinto Beans
1 to 2 lbs of dried pinto beans
Ham bone or cooked chicken

Put dried pinto beans in a bowl and cover with 2 or more inches of water.  (It is suggested that you wash the beans first and get the floating beans out and any other bad beans you see.)  Soak the beans overnight.

The next morning, pour off water and wash beans if needed.  Pour soaked beans in crock pot.  This is where you can do some variations.  Traditionally, my folks will put in their beans a ham bone or ham fat.  I will sometimes do this when I have them.  Many times I use my canned yard chickens.  I will pour a whole quart of chicken into the soaked beans.  If you don't have either of these, put in a bouillon cube.  One cube for each pound of beans.

Once you pick your flavoring, cover your pintos with between 1 and 2 inches of water.  Cover your beans and set the crock pots on high of 4 to 8 hours or low for 10 or more hours.  Serve with homemade cornbread.

Now if you family is like mine, you will probably have some left over beans.  This is where the next meal comes in...

Refried Beans
Cooked pinto beans

Place cooked pinto beans in a sauce pan and heat.  As the beans heat, mash them up with a potato masher.  Serve hot.

How easy is that!!

But what good is refried beans without Spainish Rice...

Spainish Rice
2 T olive oil
2 T chopped onions
1 1/2 cups rice
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup chucky salsa

Heat oil in sauce pan and add onions.  Cook onions until light colored.  Add rice to onions and cook until the rice starts to turn brown.  Pour in chicken broth and salsa.  Bring to boil, then lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Now nothing is better with refried beans and Spainish rice than homemade torillas....

Homemade Torillas
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 t  baking powder
2 t  salt
3/4 cup  shortening
3/4 cup  hot water

Mix together flours, baking powder, salt.  With a pastry cutter, cut in shortening until the mixture looks crumbly.  Add water or enough to make it look moist.

Knead your dough.  While kneading, gather all flour from side of bowl.  If the dough is still sticky, add a dusting of flour.  Once you have kneaded the dough for about 2 to 3 minutes, let the dough rest for up to an hour.

Take dough out and cut into 10 to 12 balls.  Lightly flour your rolling area and roll your torilla out to paper thin thickness.
Place each torilla on a heated cast iron skillet.  Cook each side for about 1 to 2 minutes.  Serve hot.

We make bean borittos with the beans and rice by adding sour cream, cheese and lettuce all wrapped in the warm torillas.  Sometimes we can have this for two meals.  It just depends on how much pintos we have.

The best part...
 both meals are less than $4.00! 
Share your families favorite frugal meal!!

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Iris in My Garden

 I had a friend ask my a question about some iris she had purchased this fall.  As I had to do a little research to answer her question, I thought I would do a post on this awesome and easy to grow garden gem!

There are many types of iris with the bearded iris being the most common.  They are perennials that can grow in full sun (except where it is very hot, they will need some shade) in well drained soil.  Japanese and Louisiana iris grow better in wet soils. 

Iris don't like too much fertilizer.  They do better with low nitrogen commerical fertilizer.  Just good mulching with rich compost will give our iris's all they will need.

To promote extended blooming, remove the bloom stalk.  Clip the stalks as close to the base as possible.  Iris blooms make great cut flowers!

Bearded iris grow from a fleshy, bulb-like stem called a rhizome. The rhizome grows horizontally just below the soil surface. 

When planting iris, the rhizome needs to be high in the soil, and the roots well-anchored. This is done by digging two trenches with a ridge between them. The rhizome is placed on the ridge and the roots are carefully spread in the trenches. Then fill the trenches with soil, so that the top surface of the rhizome is barely beneath the surface of the soil. In heavy clay soils, the rhizome should be planted higher so that up to half of the rhizome is exposed above soil level. Make sure to firm the soil well and water thoroughly after planting.

The best planting time for iris is about six weeks after the last blooms die back to September, October.  You want them to get their roots well established before winter sets in.

Once you get your iris started, it will be hard to get rid of them.  Every spring they will come back alive and show off their beauty to you! 
***If you have a gardening question, shoot it to me!  I have a Horticulture background of over 27 years and would love to help you with any of your gardening challenges!***

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wordless Wednesday...The Lego Creation

The little architect is at it again...

This is our local land mark Toccoa Falls. (Its on the campus of Toccoa Falls CollegeCheck out this website for more details.) 

Knox had to do a project on Toccoa Falls and needed a visual aid.  He used his Lego's and made a replica of the Falls as well as Gate Cottage and the bridge across Toccoa Creek.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Homemade Clorax Wipes

I have been trying to make more of the everyday things we use in an effort to not only save money put also be more self-sufficient, depending less on have to buy everything we use.

So in this quest, I have been researching how I can make more of the cleaning supplies we use.

I love using Disinfectant Wipes (Clorox Wipes)!  I use them to wipe down my kitchen counters, especially when I prep meats.  It's a quick way to disinfect the counters.  They are great to use on the kids toys or when we travel to clean and disinfect.

But they are expensive and not real environmentally friendly!

So after doing some research, I came up with a Homemade solution...

I gathered up all of Hamp's baby wash clothes, an old baby wipes box, and some bleach.

I folded the wash clothes like the baby wipes are.  This will allow them to come out one at a time.

I then put the wash clothes in the empty wipes container.

I then I poured a mixture of...

2 1/2 cups of water
1/4 cup of bleach
2 to 3 drops of liquid dish washing detergent

...on the folded wash clothes.

These seem to be working fine!  I will just have to wash them with my dish towels and reload. 

This is more time consuming but I will be saving money...

I buy my Clorox Wipes at Sam's Club for $12.67/312 wipes. That's $0.04/wipe.  I usually buy 4 of these a year.  Spending a total $50.68/year on Clorox Wipes.

With these Homemade Wipes, I am recycling baby wash clothes (most of which were given to me when Hamp was born) and a baby wipe container (which I had to borrow from my son who was using it to hold his art stuff).  Both of these are being used at no cost.  The bleach was $0.02/ 1/4 cup and let's say the dish detergent is $0.01 for those few drops.  That's $0.03 for each batch of Homemade Wipes! If I make one batch a week that is only $1.56/year.

That's a savings of $49.12/year!
(Not counting the gas I save for each trip to Sam's.  The closest one to us in over 50 miles away!)

To me, that's a no brainer...

The Homemade Wipes are worth the savings!!

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Oh, the Curls...

Look at this....

Do you see them??

Those are...


My little Hampy might just have curly hair!

It would make his straight, fine haired Moma leap for joy if he does!!

Even if he doesn't, I'll love him no matter what...

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Friday, January 21, 2011

The Ice Sculpture

I have to share some more snow pictures with you...

My Knox decided that since we had soon much snow that he needed to make some type of sculpture.

So Knox made this....

It's the historic Stephens County Courthouse!

He even made it so that you could go in it...

Oops...the corner fell in!  But it was an easy fix...

Even little brother Hamp had to help with the creation...

It maybe a long time before Knox will be able to build something this big out of snow here!!

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Getting Ready for Spring...January Addition

Now, now, don't say that I am jumping the gun!

Before we know it, we will have our last frosty morning and it will be sneezing season spring again!

So are you ready to get ready to dirty in the garden??

Alright then, I'm not so crazy! 

We need to start thinking now about getting our flower and vegetable gardens ready.  I thought I would give you some more gardening chores that you need to be thinking about now so that you will have the best garden in the neighborhood!

Finish Planning the Garden:  If you haven't already, make a list of the vegetables you want to grow.  Try some new varieties along with your old favorites.  You will need about 1/10 of acre of garden space for each family member.  It is not a bad idea to make a drawing of your garden plan.  This will give you a fill of how your garden will look.

Send in That Seed Order:  After all that planning, it's time to order your seeds!  Plan on buying enough seeds for two or three plantings to lengthen the production season.  This is especially something for Southern gardeners to be thinking about.  Most gardeners in Zone 6 and higher can get almost 9 months of planting time in their gardens.  So why not take advantage of all that time!  If you don't have any seed catalogs to order from, check out this great article.  There are tons of free seed catalogs that you can ask to be sent to your house.

 Build Up Your Soil: If you have not applied manure or compost to your garden spot before now, do so before the next snow or as soon as the snow melts.  It is really better if you can apply the manure or compost before a snow to allow the manure or compost to get into the soil properly.  You need to apply 100 pounds of manure per 1/10 acre of garden.

Take a Soil Sample:  Now is when you need to take a soil sample.  For a small fee, most county extension offices will take and analysis your sample.  This will give you a base-line as to how good or bad your soil is and what, if anything, your garden needs.  In case you do not know how to get a good soil sample, read this extension publication on how to take a proper soil sample.  If you are still unsure, call your local extension agent for help.

Canning:  Start thinking now about canning and preserving all those wonderful vegetables and fruits you are going to be harvesting.  Check the rubber seal on the pressure cooker.  Order a new one from the local hardware store or on-line.  Sometimes this seals can be hard to fine, so starting now will assure you will be ready to can the first day you pick!  You might want to look into having a seal on hand just-in-case even if your seal is in good shape.  Also check the local dollar stores, grocery stores and hardware stores for canning jars.  Now is when they are on sale.  Check thrift stores too for canning supplies.

Early Planting:  Get seed boxes ready to start your seeds.  Tomato, peppers, and eggplant can start in early February.  Get a good quality soil mix high in peat and low in bark to start your seeds in.  Ready your seeding area.  Remember that many seeds that you will be starting need to be kept warm.  A great trick is using a heating pad under your seeds to keep your soil nice and toasty (be sure to use common sense and safety measures to keep this from being a fire hazard!).

I hope you are as ready as I am about getting dirty in the garden.

If you weren't, I hope you are itching to plant now!!

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wordless Wednesay...Redneck Snow Blower

You cannot say we Southerns can't improvise in the snow...

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tuesday Tips, Frugal Tips

I thought I would share some Frugal Tips, since it was Tuesday and I had some cool tips saved up!

Cheap Paper Plates:  Save those meat trays you are throwing away!  Wash them with some hot, soapy water and reuse them as paper plates when you are camping this summer.  They are just the right size and can hold a lot of stuff!  If you have a way to wash them, you can enough reuse them, again...

Holding the Recipe:  Glue one side of a spring-type clothespin to the inside of your kitchen cabinet door where you do most of your baking.  Clip your recipe and you have it at eye level and you don't have to worry about getting spills all over your recipe!

Energy Saver:  Try turning off your oven near the end of your baking time.  If you keep the door closed, the over will stay hot long enough to finish your baking.  You'll save on those electric bills!

Versatile Toothpaste:  Use toothpaste to clean more than your teeth!  It can be used to clean stains from teacups or coffee mugs.  Use it to clean bottoms of kettles as well as remove stains from some clothing.

The Perfect Pour:  Use a clean, empty ketchup bottle to get perfect pancakes.  Fill clean bottle with your batter and squeeze out picture perfect pancakes every time!

De-Knot:  Try this to get out the next knot in your delicate chain necklace.  Place the necklace on a piece of wax paper, add a drop of oil on the knot, and use two straight pins to gently loosen out the loops of the knot!

Do you have any tips that you want to share?

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Snow! Snow! Snow!

It's Monday and there is still snow in my front yard!

I just can't believe this!

Last Sunday night it started snowing and 8" inches later it is still on the ground! 

The kids were out of school all week because the temperatures didn't get high enough for the snow to melt and if any did melt, it would freeze that night. 

Northerners think we in the South don't know what to do with snow. Well we don't! 

You have to realize that it will snow one day and be 50 degrees and sunny the next!  What we got last Sunday was an unusual event...  It snowed, then sleeted, then didn't thaw out for three days!

I hear people say why don't they just scrap the roads.... You can't scrap ice!

I hear people say why don't they put salt on the ice...  Salt works alright on 1" or less, but has a tough time on 3" or more.  Our road departments use salt but it is nowhere as strong as what they have in state North of us.

I hear people saying they don't won't to see snow for a while...  Well cabin fever has kicked into high gear around here!  My son is as ready as I am to get back to school!

My biggest fear is that this is not our last snow this year!  The Farmer's Almanac is not showing any more, but you can never tell!

But man was it pretty while it lasted...

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday Spotlight: My New Yogurt Maker

Sunday Spotlight is a feature of a product that we use in our home that I want to share with my readers.  These are my personal opinions.  The products featured will be those that I have purchased unless other wise mentioned.  This is not a company sponsored review unless expressly told.

I love making homemade yogurt!

I have found that the kids and I like homemade yogurt much better than yogurt that you can buy in the store.  I also found that it is more consistently cheaper than waiting on our favorite yogurt to go on sell or a coupon.

I found that my homemade yogurt costs around 2 cent a oz. 

I did a lot of research and found a great recipe that I shared last year.  Click here for the recipe.  This is how I have been making yogurt fro the last year.  It may seem long, and it is, but well worth it in the end!

I only thing that I really hated was that I had to make a gallon at at time.  Even though we would eat a lot of yogurt, sometimes I gallon would go bad before we could sometimes get it all eaten. 

So I was pleasantly surprised when Grandmoma gave me a yogurt maker for Christmas!

I have been making yogurt non-stop!

What I love about it is that I can make yogurt without having to get out my big pots and heat my milk.  I can put in all my ingredients and turn on the yogurt maker to do it's work!  I usually set the yogurt maker as I go to bed, and in the morning we have fresh yogurt!

I love my new yogurt maker!  It is a Euro Cuisine Automatic Yogurt Maker.  This model even allows for you to make flavored yogurt.  I haven't got that adventurous yet.  But I plan on doing this pretty soon!

This is a great way to make really good nutritious snack for you and your kids.  It's one that is easy to make too!  I have found my oldest going to the frig and getting a yogurt with cookies on the counter. 

If you eat yogurt or smoothies in your house, I highly recommend that you try making your own yogurt with this recipe or try a yogurt maker like the Euro Cuisine Automatic Yogurt Maker.  I will dare to say that you will hate to go back to buying yogurt!

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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Do You Realize that I H-A-T-E...

Just to start this post, I want you to know that I H-A-T-E opossums...

My oldest Knox has become afraid of the dark ever since he was spooked by a coyote while playing outside.  He hears noises and all kinds of stuff every time we send him outside at night.  He is really spooked by the dark now.

The other night I sent him outside to close the chicken coop.  It was already dark, but since the coop is close to the house and we have outside lights, I thought he would be fine.

Well, he came back in a panic!

He slammed the door and said something was in the chicken coop!

Well, being the Oh-So-Considered mother, I told him he was just hearing things and there wasn't anything but chickens in the chicken coop.  In other words, I didn't believe him...I couldn't tell you how many times I have gone out there and there be nothing!  But he kept on, so Hubby went to the coop to check it out.

Hubby comes back and to my surprise he says, "We have a visitor in the chicken coop." 

He needed help.

It was an opossum!!

Knox had locked a opossum up in the chicken coop!

How (and more over Who) were we going to get that damn opossum out of the coop???

As we got back to the coop to help Hubby get the opossum out, we couldn't find it!  The coop was lock up but where was the opossum? 

He wasn't in the coop with the chickens.

So we looked in the chicken run but didn't see him.

As Hubby walked around the chicken run, his flashlight went up and there it was...

That damn opossum had climbed up the side of the chicken run to the top of the fence and was holding on for life!!

Oh let me just say that ....
They are a big ole rat with a long nose and nasty teeth!
They are just GROSS--sooooo GROSS!
They give me the Willy Wonkas...

So Hubby opened the door to the chicken run and tried to pull the opossum off.  He grabbed it by the tail and pulled.


That darn, stupid opossum just pooped!  He was really holding to the fence and even started biting the the fence to hold on!

Hubby used a stick to push him off the fence.

I screamed...

You do realize that I H-A-T-E opossums!
I can handle mice, rats, even snakes.  But I can't stand being around even stuffed opossums!
They give me the Willy Wonkas!!

The opossum ran back in the coop.

Hubby yells to open the coop door.

I asked if I really had to!

Hubby keeps yelling to open the coop door.

So I face my fear and open the door and quickly run around the back of the chicken coop.

You do realize that I H-A-T-E opossums!
I can handle mice, rats, even snakes. But I can't stand being around even stuffed opossums!
They give me the Willy Wonkas!!

The dang opossum goes back into the chicken run!
By this time Hubby had come around to the chicken coop door.  He goes into the coop but can't get into the chicken run without going back out the coop door and running around to the end of the chicken run.
I was at the chicken run door.  Hubby is yelling at me to open the chicken run door!  But that dang opossum was looking at me and glaring his nasty teeth at me!
You do realize that I H-A-T-E opossums!
I can handle mice, rats, even snakes. But I can't stand being around even stuffed opossums!
They give me the Willy Wonkas!!

I was saved by Hubby who had ran back around to the chicken run door and opened it before I could get the courage too!

Out ran that over-sized nasty rat with big ole pointy teeth and a naked tail!  He ran out and off to the woods!

Hubby made sure he was gone by following him with his flashlight until he got into the woods.

Knox and I checked to make sure he had not gotten the eggs we had not gathered yet.  They were all there and the chickens were all asleep, not being bothered at all by the excitement.

I H-A-T-E opossums!!

I'm just glad that Hubby was here!

Oh how I H-A-T-E opossums!!

I hope he doesn't come back.

I really H-A-T-E opossums....

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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Wordless Wednesday...Christmas Overload

Wordless Wednesdy

Hamp just couldn't handle waiting on Santa...

He fell asleep looking at the magazines.

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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Chocolate Delight

I want to share with you an easy dessert that was a big hit at our house this holiday season.

It's called Chocolate Delight.

I LOVE this dessert!

I could eat the whole thing in one sitting!

I use to think it was too many steps but I found a great easy step recipe.  The one suggestion I have when you make this dish is that you can make it while you are working on something else.  You have to let the bottom layers cool so you will have enough time to do this between cooling times.

I was planning to get pictures but each time I made it, it got eaten before I could grab the camera!

Chocolate Delight

3/4 cup melted butter or margarine
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup powdered sugar
1 8-oz pkg. cream cheese
1 13 1/2 oz carton frozen whipped topping
1 small box of instant vanilla pudding
1 small box of instant chocolate pudding
3 cup milk
Grated chocolate (optional)
Chopped pecans (optional

Combine butter, flour, and pecan, mixing well.  Press into 13 X 9 X 2 pan.  Bake at 375 degree for 15 minutes.  Cool completely.

Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, and half of whipped topping.  Blend thoroughly on high in mixer.  Spread over crust and chill.

Combine pudding mixes and milk.  Beat for 2 minutes with mixer at medium speed.  Spread over cream cheese layer.  Spread remaining whipped topping over pudding layer. 

Garnish with pecans and chocolate.  Refrigerate.

Yield:  about 15 servings

Another suggestion is if you don't have vanilla pudding, add another carton of whipped topping to the chocolate pudding and whip on high speed in the mixer.

Your family will love this dessert--I promise!!
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Monday, January 3, 2011

The Wii Dance

Our household is now in the 21st Century.

We now own a gaming system!

Yes, it's hard to believe, but Santa must have felt sorry for us.  He brought us a Wii!

Now Hubby and Knox got into the bowling game...

But not as much as Hamp did...

Could you image what Hamp would look like if he was really playing?

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