Friday, April 15, 2016

Coming back to blogging after a long eventful time

I have been away from this blog for some time and we have had some big changes in our lives. We are now parents of two, not one. The pregnancy was hard and complicated and I nearly lost her more than once. I got thrown into trying to balance homeschool and life for my first child while having a baby then toddler.

We found our youngest is one of the growing number of children who have life threatening food allergies. Hers are so severe that she can be affected with airborne particles of the food. All of the sudden our diet and eating out habits changed and we had one anaphylatic episode. I have learned to be a vigilant ingredient reader, a health advocate for my toddler, and I can train anyone to administer an epi pen. I am glad we had already established our homeschool. I feel as though at least that rhythm was established when we got the news that it would be very hard for our youngest to attend a traditional school.

In 2013 my mother passed away suddenly, and my heart was broken for a long time. We were close and at the time I was pregnant with my second child, and I mourned the relationship she would never have with her grandmother. When she passed I noticed that my father might have some memory issues, but he was in his mid eighties and there is a certain amount of age related memory loss that is normal and expected. Then he was falling a lot. He was unable to keep up himself, his house, and was confused by tasks that were routine the month before.

It was obvious he needed help. The only problem is he did not want my help. He wanted his independence and freedom and would strike down all assistance I tried to line up for him. I now know this is all part of the dementia. Unfortunately our society is not set up to deal with the needs of the very elderly or dementia patients. The law said he was an adult and he could make poor decisions or not take proper care of himself as long as he did not hurt anyone else. Essentially the social programs that are in place to help people failed my father and many other elderly people.

This year he fell for the 20th time in a calendar year and he finally listened to the heeding of the doctors that he could no longer live alone. So now at almost 90 he lives with us. He seems to be adjusting well, and my children enjoy having him here.  I care for him and try to help him with the issues associated with his dementia.

The blog in the next few weeks and months will continue to include frugal food options, and homeschool tips and stories, but it will also include stories from our life.

As a family that has a tight budget
As a family that struggles with the challenges associated with life threatening food allergies
As a homeschool family that pulls from many resources
As a caregiver caring for some one with dementia and Alzheimers
As the family of a veteran working with the services available
As children of God trying to walk the plan he has laid out for us

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Frugal Food- Canning Corn

Last year my sister in law showed me how to can green beans. I was excited to try to can on my own, and this year I was given a pressure canner from my husband's step mother. I have been waiting for enough food to come in this year to make it worth canning, and then all of my father in law's corn came in at once and they were gracious enough to share with us.
I pulled out the canner and inspected it, and since it had already been inspected by the local extension office I felt pretty confident using it. However I was still nervous as I have heard horror stories of the canners blowing up, but with instruction manual in hand I was going to give it a try.
It took a long time to get all the corn off the cob, and I am pretty sure I hurt my hand doing it. I would suggest if you try to can corn that you enlist help of others for this part, if nothing else to give your hand a rest once in a while. Also, lots of corn ears make a small amount of jars of corn. I had a normal size roasting pan half full of fresh corn kernels and I got 8 pints of corn out of that. Above is the corn before processing.
I thought I followed my instructions properly the first time, but I had not allowed the water to boil enough before putting the weight on and the canner just would not come up to pressure of any kind. I thought for sure I had failed. I let it sit to cool down with the intention of pulling the corn out of the jars when they cooled, draining and freezing them, but my husband being the great man that he is convinced me that maybe together we could figure out what went wrong and we tried again after resealing the cans. It really was something as simple as the water was not at a full boil before putting the weight on, but it was my first time canning alone, and I did not know that. So lesson of the day for me would be canning has a learning curve like any other task, and this will just take practice.

Here is the corn right out of the canner still hot. Do you can your own vegetables? Do you have any tips to share for a novice canner like myself?

This post is shared at the Homemaking link up

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Frugal Food - Zucchini Fritters

We love these around here in the summer when the zucchini seems to take over, and they are easy which I love.


1 medium/large zucchini (you want normal size not monstrous), grated on the large holed side of a box grated
6 oz shredded mozzerella or monterey jack cheese
1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 egg
3/4 cup of milk ( Dry milk works fine in this if you have some you use for cooking, but you want 3/4 milk reconstituted not 3/4 milk powder.)
1 tablespoon oil, I used Olive oil
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dry Italian seasoning mix

Mix all ingredients till well mixed in a large bowl or stand mixer. Preheat oil in a pan for pan frying, or coat an electric griddle with a bit of oil and heat to 325. When your oil or griddle is hot make your fritters/pancakes as you would cook normal pancakes. If you deep fry these, the batter is a bit runny, you may need to adjust milk content a bit to get the right consistency. They are better in my opinion on the griddle, but I wanted to give the option for those who don't have a griddle.
Makes 10-12 fritters, definitely enough for 4, maybe enough for 6 people. They reheat well if you have leftovers.
I usually serve this with fresh corn on the cob.

Price breakdown July 2011
1 zucchini- free from the garden (or about 50 cents right now at our grocery store)
1 box Jiffy mix - 50 cents
1 egg free from our BIL's chicken ( or about 16 cents from the store, if your dozen is $2)
3/4 cup milk (38 cents - milk is about $4 a gallon here)
6 oz mozzerella ($1.50)
The spices and oil are in too small of quantities to price

Total - $3.04 or 76 cents a serving at 4 servings

Served with corn at 4/ $1.00 which brought the whole meal to $1.01 per person.

This is shared at the Raising Homemakers Link Up

Thursday, June 30, 2011

When times get tough

We live frugally all the time, not just because I believe it is important to be a good steward of what you have, but because we just don't have a lot. We are making ends meet by living without things that others consider necessities, but I think are luxuries, like cell phones and cable tv. We had a small savings, and then the worst thing that can happen when you are close to the edge happened.... the unexpected!! First it was a car repair, then an unexpected doctor bill, then losing glasses in the ocean and having to replace them, and then yet another car repair. Somewhere between unexpected thing #2 and #3 we exhausted our savings... and of course the unexpected keeps coming. I have had a hard time sitting down to write anything on here as I knew I wanted to write about dealing when you can't figure out what to do, but I really wasn't sure what I was going to do, which did not leave me much to write about. Here is what I am doing so far.
First we prayed, and thank God for what we actually do have and ask for his help in our trying time.
Take stock in what I have, in our case a stocked freezer and some one who can cook, meaning at least there is one thing less to worry about.
Prioritize, Prioritize, prioritize... what can wait till next week will just have to wait.
Remember that this is temporary and things will turn around.
Lastly and this is a big one for me, don't worry. It does no good when I am in the thick of something, especially something we can't easily change to worry. It takes my mind off my family, off any happiness I may have and keeps me from not being present in my own life. Those are all things I can't get back once the time has passed.
What do you do when times get tough for your family?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Vinegar and its many uses

Growing up I never used vinegar except to dress collard greens, which I love. I grew to love it as a condiment and began to make my own pepper vinegars, salad dressings and marinades. However I was still missing the greatest uses I have found for vinegar yet.
It cleans, VERY well. It deodorizes. It softens clothes. It cleans hard wood floors and laminate floors with ease. It disinfects almost as well as bleach. Combine it with baking soda and you can clean almost anything in your home. To top it off it only costs $2.32 right now a gallon at Wal-Mart in our area. 

Here are the things that I currently use vinegar for in my home:
1-I use it to clean counters, tabletops and other surfaces that I would normally use a multi purpose spray on, with a spray bottle from the dollar store and a 50:50 ratio of water to vinegar.
2-I use it to get odors out of clothing by adding a cup of vinegar into the fabric softener dispenser of the washing machine.
3-I use it in rinse water, about 1 tbsp to half a sink of water, for my dishes to get the last of the soap residue off of them. 
4-I clean drains with it by placing baking soda (50 cents a box) down the drain to the rim, pouring vinegar in it, and stopping up the drain and coming back in 30 minutes or so to pour boiling water down the drain to clear the clog. This works best if you do it regularly, about once every two weeks or so to move the gunk out of the drain.
5-I use it as a shower spray to cut down on the possibility of soap scum or mildew.This can be full strength vinegar or the 50:50 ratio of vinegar to water.
6-I clean the coffee maker with 1/3 vinegar to 2/3 water run through the machine like brewing coffee, to clean the inner workings of the machine.
7-I let it do the work if there is stuck on food on a pan or the counter, let it sit and come back to it in a bit and it will scrape with ease.
8-I make a paste of baking soda and a small amount of water to make a scrubbing cleanser for the bathtub, and then I come back with vinegar to foam out the last of the baking soda film and clean to surface with the bubbling reaction.
9- I use it to rinse my hair once a week to make it shine and pull off shampoo build up. - You can soak orange or lemon peel in a mason jar of vinegar for this purpose to give it a citrus smell. I use a 50:50 water to vinegar ratio here.
10- I use it to clean windows and mirrors streak free.

Best of all, if my two year old gets hold of my cleaning spray there is not a call to poison control as it is just vinegar, and not a whole bunch of unknown chemicals. The worst that will happen is she smells like a salad for the rest of the day.
 This post is shared at

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Take advantage of the season

Right now it is super hot here. It is definitely summer, with the high humidity and 95 degree days all week. I have been dealing with this heat all my life, you think it would not shock me when it goes from the gorgeous mild spring weather here to the "please try to find somewhere air conditioned for the afternoon and mow the lawn after 8 pm weather" in what seems like 1 day, but it does.
This early heat makes for good gardening though, you just have to hydrate- hydrate- hydrate, you and the plants that is. We are limited by what we can put in the ground, by where we live and the provisions of the housing community, but I have a thriving container garden that seems to have really taken off. I am so excited by this, not only because it cuts my grocery budget some, but I thought until this year that I may have inherited my mother's black thumb. The only thing I had managed to keep alive for any amount of time was an aloe plant that actually liked when I forgot to water it.
There is something in the southern woman psyche that makes us want to garden even in the oppressive heat. Maybe it is the connection to our grandmothers and their ability to feed an entire brood of children with stuff out of the yard, in my grandmother's case 10 kids a husband and whoever he brought home from work.

I love squash blossoms, they are beautiful to me. They can also be tasty stuffed with goat cheese and herbs... but since I want to have squash I am just going to let them do their thing. 

My first Romas, can't wait till they turn red!

The strawberries from a local farm. These were going to be jam, but we have chomped on them and now I think I will buy more for jam and freeze what is left of these. There is nothing like having summer's strawberries when there is frost on the ground.

Lastly, today I am making my first batch of sun tea for this year. Here are instructions if you have never made sun tea.  How to make sun tea

What are you doing to enjoy the summer? Do you have any plants producing yet? 

This post is shared at:

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Recharging your batteries

Last week I took a break from the norm and took a trip with my mother in law to a quiet lake home. There was no internet in the lake house and I thought that may put a damper on the fun, as it has become such an integral part of my day. However, I found that I was fine without it. Although I did miss the contact from friends and being able to just look something up when I wanted to go sight see, it was not a great disadvantage.
I took less than 5 toys for my daughter and she played with none of them. She had more fun running to the end of the large fenced yard and back than playing with the toys I had for her.
I read a novel, for the first time in a long time and we spent a lot of time outside when the day had not yet gotten too hot. We took picnic lunches on our trips and cooked simple things for dinner most nights. (Although I will admit we did eat out more than my frugal side liked, but it was supposed to be a break for everyone and sometimes on the go you have to.) We visited inexpensive sites around the lake house, and had lots of fun together as a family. My husband was not able to join us because of work and we missed him, but I am really glad I took time to take care of myself too.
I learned that I had taken too long between rests that I had stretched myself too thin and that I need to take a break before I get to that point next time. I learned that my rest helps my mood and therefore helps my child and husband's mood making for a happier family. I learned that no one can go at full speed for so long without having to break routine and recharge.
How do you recharge? How can you recharge if you don't have the ability to get away?