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Monday, July 13, 2009

Menu Plan Monday July 13-19

Here's the plan for this week...

Monday- Weight Watchers Juicy Hamburgers, corn on the cob, salad
Tuesday- Weekday Lasagna, salad, garlic toast
Wednesday- Monterey Chicken, green beans, rolls
Thursday- Buffalo Chicken Pasta, salad
Friday- Pizza, salad
Saturday- Crispy Chicken Drumsticks, green beans, rolls
Sunday- Magnificent Casserole, corn on the cob

Monday- Omelets, fruit, hot herbal tea
Tuesday- Omelets, fruit, hot herbal tea
Wednesday- Omelets, fruit, hot herbal tea
Thursday-Cinnamon French Toast, fruit, hot herbal tea
Friday- Cereal, yogurt
Saturday- Blueberry Pancakes, fruit, hot herbal tea
Sunday- Cereal, fruit, yogurt, hot herbal tea

Monday-Wednesday- Kids eat at Library Summer Reading Program
Thursday- Sandwiches
Friday- Leftovers
Sunday- Fat Free Hot Dogs, Baked Doritos

Snacks and desserts- Chex Party Mix, Mississippi Mud Cake, Fat Free Rice Krispie Treats, Pistachio Dream Cake, Wendy's No Bake Peanut Butter Bars

Go here to see more plans.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Menu Plan Monday-July 6-12

Here's my plan for the week:
Monday-Crispy Chicken Drumsticks, green beans, rolls
Tuesday- Taco Junk, salad, Caramel Apple Salad
Wednesday- Beef Stuffed Peppers
Thursday- Chili Mac Crockpot, corn on the cob
Friday- Pizza, salad
Saturday- Weekday Lasagna, salad, garlic toast
Monday-Wednesday- Kids eat at Library Summer Reading Program
Thursday- Sandwiches
Friday- Leftovers
Sunday- Fat Free Hot Dogs, Baked Doritos
Monday- Omelets, fruit, hot herbal tea
Tuesday- Omelets, fruit, hot herbal tea
Wednesday-Low fat waffles and fruit, hot herbal tea
Thursday- Cinnamon French Toast, fruit
Friday- Cereal, fruit
Saturday-Blueberry Pancakes, fruit
Sunday- Cereal, fruit
Snacks and desserts- Chex Party Mix, Mississippi Mud Cake, Fat Free Rice Krispie Treats, Pistachio Dream Cake, Cotton Candy Angel Food Cake
Go here to see more plans.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Campfire Night

One of the things on my kid's list of fun things they wanted to do this summer was to make smores. I thought it would be neat to expand that idea to a campfire night. During a campfire night, we roast winnies, make smores, and just enjoy the fire. You could build a fire at a local park which has the facilities to do that, make a fire in your charcoal grill, or use a fire pit. Fire pits can range from $50-$300, so that might be an expensive purchase if you only bought it for that one time use. It could however be an investment if you planned to do several campfire night or use it when you campout. I was planning on going to a local park, but my son's Cub Scout Pack had a campfire night that we were all invited to and someone brought a fire pit. The kids enjoyed looking for sticks to roast their hot dogs and marshmallows on, but you could also use skewers. Make sure you keep safety in mind during a camp fire night by keeping your children from getting too close to the fire and having a bucket of water near the fire in case of an emergency.
After it gets dark, you can sit around the fire and tell stories. This activity was a lot of fun for my family and cost a lot less than if I would have gotten a camping site. The only money I spent on this activity was on the food and my family would have eaten dinner that night, so this was a pretty frugal activity for us. Here's a list of some items you may need for a Campfire Night.

Things to get for a Campfire Night
Campfire Marshmallows
Hershey’s Chocolate Bars
Graham Crackers
Hot dogs
Hot Dog Buns
Mustard, Ketchup, other condiments
Charcoal, wood, etc (Things to start your fire with)
Cold drinks
I hope you get the chance to have a campfire night with your family this summer.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Summer Reading Program-4-H Fun Week 1

We went to the library activites again today. Tuesday's are 4-H Fun days. Today they let the kid's make ziplock bag ice cream. The kids loved it! Then they ate it and they gave them a lunch. This was one of the things one my kids summer fun list that they wanted to do. Here are some pictures from today and the recipe in case you want to do this with your kids.

Ice Cream in a Bag
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup of Half and Half
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
6 tablespoons rock salt
1 pint-size Ziplock bag
1 gallon-size Ziplock bag
ice cubes
Fill the gallon size Ziplock bag with ice cubes and then add rock salt. Seal the bag. Put half and half, vanilla, and sugar in small Ziplock bag and seal it. Place the small Ziplock bag inside the large one and seal again carefully. Shake until mixture is ice cream or about 5 minutes. Wipe off top of the small Ziplock bag, then open carefully and enjoy!

Not So Big Bad Banana Muffins

I made 4 batches of these today. I tricked the kids with the 50/50 whole wheat and white flour and they loved them. I am freezing the rest for an easy breakfast on a busy morning this summer!
Not So Big Bad Banana Muffins
3/4 cup Whole Wheat Flour
3/4 Cup White Flour
3/4 cup Sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1 Egg
2 Large Bananas, mashed
1/2 cup Applesauce
1/4 cup Chocolate Chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease entire cupcake or muffin tin including the top of the pan with non-stick cooking spray. In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. In another bowl mix egg, sugar, applesauce, and bananas. Add wet to dryand stir just until combined. (A few lumps are fine.) Fold in chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared tin, filling all the way to the top. Fill unused cups with 1/3 cup water to prevent burning. Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Turn onto a wire rack and allow to cool before serving.
Notes: You can freeze these muffins and pop them in the microwave for 30 seconds for a great, easy breakfast.
Makes 10 servings at 3 Weight Watchers Points each.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Pizza and a Movie Night

My kids love pizza and love to watch movies, so why not do both in one night? This summer my kids made a list of fun things they wanted to do this summer and Pizza and a Movie night was one of those. I really like to do these nights because it's a time for my family to spend together doing something fun. We usually get our movie from the Redbox, which cost $1.00, but we have also gotten movies from the library for FREE. I don't cost the count of the pizza because I make it homemade and we would have had dinner anyways. So, I think this is a pretty frugal summer activity.

Here are the recipes that I used to make our pizza, pizza sauce cheesy breadticks, and Monkey Munch (our movie snack):

Pizza Hut Style Pizza Dough or Cheesy Breadsticks
1 1/3 cups water
2 tsp sugar
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp cornmeal
3 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp yeast
Add ingredients to bread machine, according to manufacturer’s settings, and run dough setting. After the machine beeps, roll out the dough. You can roll the dough into two 9×13″ pizzas (great for kid’s lunches!) or into two medium pizzas or a large pizza and an order of breadsticks (as instructed above). Parbake the crust with a drizzle of olive oil on it at 450 degrees for ten minutes. Remove the crust and add sauce and toppings. If making breadsticks, add your breadsticks at this time. Place into the oven for another ten to fifteen minutes or until golden and bubbly. Enjoy!
You can freeze your pizza dough for an easier night.

Easy Pizza Sauce
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
2 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
4 teaspoons dried onion flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 cups water
Combine tomato paste, garlic, parsley flakes, onion, oregano, basil and water in 2 quart saucepan. Cook over medium high heat until mixture boils. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes. Cool a little and spread on your pizza crust and proceed with remainder of your toppings.
Makes 3 cups
You can freeze this pizza sauce easily.

Monkey Munch
9 cup Chex
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
Put cereal in large bowl. Melt chocolate chips, peanut butter, and butter. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour over Chex cereal, put into a large plastic bag with powdered sugar and shake well to coat.Spread mixture evenly on wax paper and allow to cool.
This does not last long at my house!
We will be doing this several more times this summer. I hope you get to plan a Pizza and a Movie night for your family this summer.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Pine Cone Bird Feeders

Our family gets together once a week, usually on Monday night and does something fun together. It's a great way to make sure that you take time for your family. So, each week, I'll post something about what we did for fun.

On our summer fun list (that my kids made) they wanted to make pine cone bird feeders. They love the birds and were really excited about this. We have two huge pine trees in our yard and I kept seeing these beautiful pone cones on the ground well we started collecting them and I knew I was going to do something with them. So here's what we did.

Pine Cone Bird Feeders
Materials you will need:
Pine Cones
Peanut Butter
bird seed
Place string on the end of the pine cone leaving a loop to place the feeder on the tree. Place peanut butter on the pine cone and get into the underneath parts of the pine cone. We made 4 feeders and it took a whole jar of peanut butter. Next, I got a casserole pan and place the bird seed in it and the kids rolled the pine cone in the seed. Then we hung them on a tree.

Bird seed- $1.00 (we used half a bag)
String- $1.00 (from Dollar Tree and there is lots left over)
Peanut Butter- FREE (for me but this might cost you a little more.)
Pine Cones- FREE
So, for under $5.00 we had a really fun family time and also accomplished an activity the kids wanted to do this summer. The kids were really proud of their feeders and can't wait to see the birds eat from them. I am really glad that I waited to do this activity when my husband was home because every kid wanted you to help them. The extra hands came in handy.

So, if you want to have fun this summer with your kids, consider pine cone bird feeders.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Edible Play Dough

I have been watching a lot of reruns of Jon and Kate plus 8 and I saw the Valentine's Day one where she made edible play dough and I knew I wanted to try that out with my kids. We have played with lots of other homemade play dough and the kids love it. So, I knew they would love this and we would also have a snack! I did not tell my kids that it was edible, but they figured out. Actually my 2 year old figured it out first. This lasted about an hour and half of playing with and eating. Make sure you get your kids to wash their hands before playing with the edible play dough. My kids also loved helping make it!

Here's the recipe:

Jon and Kate plus 8 Edible Play Dough
Mix equal parts of powdered milk, honey, and peanut butter.
Add flour to reach play dough consistency.
Play and enjoy!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Frugal Summer Fun- Redbox Movies

Are you looking for fun activites for your kids this summer, but you don't have a lot of money to spend on that fun? Well, that's how I felt, so my family made a list of things they wanted to do this summer and most of them were pretty frugal activites. One activity was getting movies from the Redbox using the free movie of the month codes. We actual got to use the first one this week. We had popcorn and sodas, which cost maybe $2.00-$3.00. But all of those things were already in my pantry, so it felt like I did not spend much at all. We enjoyed watching Hotel For Dogs as a family.
Redbox is a great service for families not wanting to spend much money on family fun. You can find Redboxes in many locations. My closest one is in a Walmart, but I also have one near me outside of a MacDonald's. You will need to go to the Redbox website to find where the closest Redbox is to you. Once you find out where your closest Redbox is located go to that place. It will be hard to miss because it is a big red vending machine. You will have to have a credit card to rent a movie. The movies cost $1.00 per night. I think that is pretty frugal family fun. But, wait, on the first Monday of the month throughout this summer, you can go online and get a free movie code, we usually post it on Busy Mommy too. You need to hit the rent with promo code first and then proceed with your order, you will still need to use a credit card. If you want more than one free movie, all you have to do is use a different credit card. As long as you bring the movie back before 8 pm the next evening your credit card will not be charged. Also, if you register your e-mail on the Redbox website, they will give you a free first movie code to use and send you e-mails about upcoming movies. Another feature that I really like about the Redbox service is you can go online and reserve a movie, so when you get to the Redbox the movie will be waiting for you. You can not use movie codes on reserved movies though.
I have been using the Redbox movie service for over a year now and I have been quite happy with it! I did however have a movie that would not play. I e-mailed Redbox about my problem and they sent me a free movie code. So, I also think that they have great customer service !
So, if you are looking for a fun frugal family night this summer check out your local Redbox.

Summer Fun Plan 2009

Last Friday was my kids last day of school. So, now it's time for me to entertain them all summer until school starts back. But, what can I do that won't put a huge strain on the budget? This year, I decided to get creative after reading an article from Momadvice. I let my kids decide what they wanted to do. I already do a lot of fun frugal activites with them so they had some ideas already in mind. It was interesting to me that they put a lot of those activites and lots more that were very frugal on the list. It was also a fun family time as we sat around talking about what we wanted to do this summer. We posted a list of the activites we want to get done this summer and placed it next to our family message board. We will be marking things off the list as we do them to make the list even more fun. I will also be posting about these activites here as we do them, so stay tuned. Here is my family's list of of the things they want to do this summer to give you an idea of what you can do for a little or no money. I am sure your family will come up with their own great ideas.

Family Summer Fun List 2009

1. Go to Burger King Playland and Eat

2. Go to the Summer Library Programs

3. Make Homemade Slushies

4. Have a Homemade Pizza and Movie Night

5. Make and Play with Homemade Play dough

6. Go get some shaved ice from a local store

7. Spend a night with Granny

8. Go to the Park

9. Make Pine Cone Bird Feeders

10. Have a Family Bake Night

11. Make Smores

12. Go to the Movies

13. Go on a nature hike

14. Go to at least 1 movie night at the park

15. Get a free Redbox movie each month (They have 1 free movie code per month)

16. Go Swimming

17. Have an ice cream sundae night

18. Read a LONG book with mommy

19. Go on a picnic

20. Make homemade ice cream

21. Make homemade bubbles and play with them outside

As you can see most of these are pretty cheap. We do take the kids to the movies in the summer which will be the greatest expense but we do go to the matenee to cut cost. There are lots of free movies during the summer at some locations but we don't live near any of those or we would take advantage of that.

Why don't you make a list with your kids before summer gets started. You may have to give them a few ideas, but it is interesting to see what they will say they want to do.

Hope you have a fun frugal summer!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Easy Pizza Sauce

Easy Pizza Sauce
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
2 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
4 teaspoons dried onion flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 cups water
Combine tomato paste, garlic, parsley flakes, onion, oregano, basil and water in 2 quart saucepan. Cook over medium high heat until mixture boils. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes. Cool a little and spread on your pizza crust and proceed with remainder of your toppings.
Makes 4 servings
Calories 80 Fat 0.5 Fiber 4.5
This was really good on the pizza. I don't know about the serving size, but I can get at least 2 pizzas out of this one batch of sauce and maybe a third one.
Note: This pizza sauce freezes really well too.

Basic Pizza Dough

I have been trying out new recipes and the thing I really like about Weight Watchers is we still have those extra 35 points to spend as we want. Sometimes, we just need to have a "treat." This is one such treat for me. I found this recipe on Mom Advice.

Basic Pizza Dough (from"How to Cook Everything,")
1 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, plus more as needed
2 teaspoons coarse kosher or sea slat, plus extra for sprinkling
1 to 1 1/4 cups water
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
To make this dough in food processor: Combine the yeast, flour, and 2 teaspoons salt in the container of a food processor. Turn the machine on and add 1 cup water and the 2 tablespoons of oil through the feed tube. Process for 30 seconds, adding more water, a little at a time, until the mixture forms a ball and is slightly sticky to the touch. If it is dry, add another tablespoon or two of water and process for another 10 seconds. Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and knead by hand a few seconds to form a smooth, round dough ball. Grease a bowl with the remaining olive oil, and place the dough in it. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp cloth and let it rise in a warm draft-free area until the dough doubles in size, 1 to 2 hours. You can cut this rising time short if you are in a hurry or you can let the dough rise more slowly in the refrigerator for six to eight hours.
To make this dough by hand: Combine half the flour with the salt and yeast and stir to blend. Add 1 cup water and the 2 tablespoons olive oil; stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add remaining flour a bit at a time; when the mixture becomes too stiff to stir with a spoon, begin kneading, adding as little flour as possible- just enough to keep the dough from being a sticky mess. Knead until smooth but still quite moist, about ten minutes. Proceed as above.
To make this dough with a standing mixer: The machine must be fairly powerful or it will stall. Combine half the flour with the salt, yeast, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and 1 cup water; blend with the machines paddle. With the machine on slow speed, add flour a little at a time until the mix has become a sticky ball that pulls away from the sides of the bowl (switch to the dough hook if necessary). Knead for a minute by hand, adding as little flour as possible, then proceed as above.
To make this dough with the bread machine: Add ingredients as follows- warm water, olive oil, flour, salt, and then add yeast at the top. Turn machine on and select the dough setting. When the machine beeps, you can roll out the dough onto your pizza stone/pan.
I made this dough in my bread machine. I watched it and it seemed really wet so I added some more flour to it. It was still a little sticky when I took it out of the machine so I added some more flour. This was really good and once I took care of the stickiness, it was easy. I added a sauce, cheese and other toppings and cooked for 15 minutes at 450 degrees. Some people like to pre-bake there crust before putting on toppings and you can do that too.

If you cut your crust in 8 pieces this is 4 points per slice, but you also have to add points for sauce, cheese and other toppings. Try to stick with filling food toppings to keep this pizza lower in points.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mom Advise Experiment: Homemade Laundry Detergent

Experiment: Can I make a powder laundry detergent that will clean well, not break out my family, and be cheaper?
Experiment Taken From: Notebook 03.08.2007

Materials Needed: (See Instructables for their directions)
1 cup Borax
1 cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda Powder (not baking soda)
1 bar Fels Naptha soap (you can use other soaps like Zote used by instructables, but I could not find that soap, others also use Ivory, Pure & Natural etc)
Food Processor or cheese grater
Use the cheese grater on your food processor and put your soap in to grate. Then take out the grated soap and put in the chopping blade on your food processor add the grated soap and the rest of the ingredients and process until powdery. I like to put a wet dish towel on top of my processor during the chopping stage. Add to container and use 1 tablespoon for small loads and 2 tablespoons for large loads.
Note: You can use a grater instead of a food processor and mix all the ingredients with your hands, but I find that harder to dissolve in the washer if it is not more of a powder like substance.
I put my washing powder in a 5 gallon bucket that I got at Walmart for about $5. I also tied a long string to the bucket with my tablespoon attached, so I would never lose it. (see above picture)
Results: I was worried about whether this powder form would dissolve as I had read others having this problem. I just turned on the hot water and swished the soap around before putting in my clothes and I have not had any problems with my powder soap dissolving. I made 10 batches of the laundry powder to save more time later and it really did not take that long to finish all of the batches. My clothes seem clean. One big difference is that this soap does not make bubbles and people worry that it will not work, but it does work fine. Nobody seemed to break out from the detergent and several in my family have broken out when I have changed detergents. I figured out that this soap cost about 5 cents a load. I was using Sun detergent and it was about 8-10 cents a load depending on where I got it from. So, while the powder detergent does not save as much as the liquid homemade laundry detergent, which is more like 1 cents a load. I am still saving money. Most tide detergents are about 20 cents a load. Personally, I was really happy with the results. I would like to mention that you really do not want to wash your food processor in the dishwasher after you have made your detergent because it will leave a soapy residue on your dishes. Instead hand wash it. Also, I have read a lot of articles saying that this type of detergent is harder on your washing machine. I read that adding some vinegar to your fabric softener dispenser every now and then will help with this problem, so I plan to do that. I also learned that vinegar works really well as a fabric softener, so I may be switching for fabric softener sheets to a homemade fabric softener soon.
Conclusion: This homemade powder laundry detergent is easy to make, if you have a food processor, and cleans well. It also did not break anyone out in my family. So, I think it is a keeper for my house.
For more experiments go to Mom Advise.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Naturally-Dyed Playdough

I had this perfect project picked out this week, but it has rained every single day and we needed to go outside for this project, so we made play dough! I had never made it before and it was fun. Go here to see the first play dough recipe we made. This was the second one we tried.
Experiment: Can I make a play dough that the kids will love that is still pretty cheap?
Experiment Taken From: Notebook Entry 04.29.09
Materials Needed: See One Golden Apple for the original recipe
Naturally-Dyed Playdough
1 cup flour
1 cup brightly colored juice (blueberry, cherry, pomengranate, grape, etc.)
1/4 cup salt
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Put all ingredients in a pot and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the dough comes together. This only takes a few minutes. When cool enough to handle, squish and knead until smooth. Voila. Store in a container in the fridge.
Note: A lovely yellow can be made by using the recipe above, replacing the juice with water, and adding a teaspoon of ground turmeric.
Results: The play dough was super easy to make, smelled good, and was pretty cheap to make. But best of all, it gave my kids hours of fun! I do however like the ease of the first recipe because I do not have to actually cook the play dough and the colors were so much brighter.
Conclusion: I like both recipes and will definitely use both of them again. Both are cheap and my kids love them!
For more experiments go to Mom Advise.

Monday, May 4, 2009

My Brother-In Laws Wedding

We went to my brother-in-laws wedding this past weekend and I am pretty tired. 3 of my kids were in the wedding and my dh was the Best Man. My twins were the ring bearer and flower girl and my older son was an usher. It was hard getting them all ready and taking care of a 2 year old, but we got it done. My dh and I danced for the first time at the reception after being married for 10 years! lol!

Nathan and Katie Sue were so tired while waiting to take pictures. Katie Sue feel asleep and I love that picture of her! I can not wait to see the professional photographers picture.

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