Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Delaware Deal Chicken: Johnnie's Dog House

Today's daily deal on Delaware Deal Chicken is $10 worth of food and drink for $5 at Johnnie's Dog House. We eat at Johnnie's 2 or 3 times a year, so this will make for a really inexpensive meal one day this fall!

Johnnie's Dog House also provided the inspiration for the summer Hot Dog Challenge that I've been posting...trying new twists on the familiar hot dog without eating out! I really like their Texas Ranger hot dog, and my husband is a fan of the Delaware Destroyer - two hot dogs on a kaiser roll with mac and cheese and chili! Johnnie's has also won best family restaurant in the northern part of Delaware several years in a row. It is a fun place, and I am excited to go and use our deal!

Get yours today!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Today, I'm thankful

...for cooler mornings that make me put on socks (even if they are mismatched!) 

...for time while my kids are still sleeping to read. 

 ...for my husband who made my coffee (I'm thankful for coffee too!).

...for my little people who are now up, even with their wet sheets that need changing and diaper that needs changing.

...for homemade chocolate chip scones, made in preparation for Irene, the storm that did not even affect our power.
...for lukewarm chocolate chip scones, coffee that is no longer piping hot, and a book I'll probably not get to read this morning because I'm a mommy first.

Joy is not giddy. It is not an emotional rush--it is what happens when you accept your lot and rejoice in your toil. So rejoice in your children. Look them in the eyes and give thanks. You will not even remember the work of all this planting when the harvest of joy overwhelms you.
Today, I'm thankful for joy.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Children's Art Gallery

The same week that I did this side table makeover, I also started working on a frame that I rescued from (yet another) neighbor's trash. The end result looks like this:

The perfect framed art gallery for all those children's art projects!

My frame started out looking a bit worse for the wear. It was trash after all!

If I was doing a really good job, I would have spent a good bit of time sanding all that yucky old white paint off, but since this was supposed to be a simple project, I opted for just painting over it. I ended up needing about 3 coats of black paint to cover all the cracks and holes in the wood. My vision for this was to mimick this wonderful kid's art wall from A Soft Place to Land. Maybe one day I'll get the chance to add to our gallery wall! 

I love that this is a big frame, so we can hang several different pictures together. Also, I won't be constrained by the size of the artwork, even though the ones currently hanging are all the same size. I'd like to get some cute clips to hold the art, but for now we're just using sticky has worked well so far!

I'm also hoping this will be an easy way for us to love the art projects and enjoy them without building up a ton of clutter. It hard to know what to do with the doodles that my daughter loves to make. They have sentimental value, but I don't need a whole box of them to store! Now we have a great place to enjoy the projects, and when there is a new picture that needs a spot to be displayed, something else will have to come down. It will likely get recycled at that point, though I'm sure some "extra special" artwork will still get saved. 

Do you have any fun ways to display your children's artwork? I'd love to hear about it!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

CSA Week 13

Last night for dinner we used several of the items that we picked up from the farm in the afternoon: peppers, squash, and lettuce. It's awesome knowing that the food we are eating was picked that very day! Everything tastes so much better fresh, doesn't it??

We got another watermelon this week, though they are much smaller now than when we first started them...a sign that summer is wrapping up! Also we got lettuce, the purple and orange peppers, summer squash, and potatoes. Yum!

We are just waiting on Hurricane Irene now. I'm planning to do a little baking this afternoon since the storm is not supposed to really hit here in Delaware until late afternoon or early evening. It's kind of fun knowing that we'll be hanging out at the house and not going anywhere today and tomorrow, but we're also trying not to take things too lightly. Thankfully our house is on quite a hill by Middletown standards, so we should be safe from any flooding. Stay safe this weekend if you are in the path of Irene also!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Food Waste Friday

Every Friday, I join with The Frugal Girl and other bloggers to clean out my fridge and freezer and take a picture of anything that has gone bad over the last week. This holds me accountable to faithfully check every week, and motivates me to use up our leftovers. This has made a huge difference in the amount of food we waste every week. I hope you will participate with me in food waste Friday, too! 

Oh boy....after doing so well with our food waste this summer, the past week has been pretty rough. The little bit of leftover pizza sauce and salsa should have just been used up instead of getting stuck back in the fridge. Its so much harder to use a little bit of something! The corn and carrots were both from our Colchester CSA. I just never got around to dealing with them either. And the only thing that I will claim was not really my fault is the leftover orzo. Martin took it to work two different times and never finished it up. I guess I could have eaten it instead, but rejected leftovers never seem super appetizing to me!

One of the good things about the accountability of taking a picture of our weekly food waste is that I am able to pinpoint why food is getting thrown away. Pretty much everything this week was a result of my own laziness. A lot of the time I can get away with not being as diligent as I should and can still salvage our food from ending up in the trash. But this week it all caught up to me. Whew! I'm all the more determined to fight my lazy attitude towards food waste (and a number of other things) this coming week. Thanks so much for joining me as I learn to live a purposefully, thrifty life!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hot Dog Challenge: Corndogs

This summer we're trying out different toppings for our hot dogs instead of the old standbys of ketchup, mustard, and relish. Its been a lot of fun so far!

I found this recipe for homemade corndogs from Farmhouse Table, and we decided to try it out! Here's a look at our finished product:

Since all the corndogs I have ever seen were on a stick, I used these wooden skewers and stuck them in the ends of my hot dogs. This ended up being an unhelpful step - the skewers prevented the hot dogs from laying flat in the oil! I ended up getting flustered and pulling them all out without taking any pictures. It was pretty funny looking thinking back on it now! But I also had to redo the hot dogs that I first tried with the skewers, too.

Anyhow, once that all got sorted out, I finally had something that resembled a corndog. On the whole, I was actually disappointed with how they looked...not like the pictures on the original recipe. But, I think the main problem was that my cornmeal batter was too runny. I'm not sure if that was because I added too much liquid or if something else was different. Next time I will make sure that my batter is thick enough that it does not roll right off the hot dog before they get in the pan!

I ended up spooning batter on top of the hot dogs as they sat in the oil to get full coverage. Certainly not the prettiest thing I've ever made, but they tasted amazing!

Mmmmm! Crispy and golden brown on the outside. We dipped them in spicy mustard, but the flavor was so great they would have been amazing by themselves.

Our taste tester agrees! Homemade corndogs are excellent!

Check out the rest of our Hot Dog Challenge specialty dogs!
Texas Ranger
Salsa Dog
Avocado and White Sauce
BBQ and Peppers

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cloth Diaper Sale: Cotton Babies

Cotton Babies routinely runs sales on "seconds", merchandise that is not perfect, but has minor enough flaws that it is still functional. Right now there are a number of items on Clearance from Cotton Babies, which is a great way to add to your cloth diaper supply. 

The Flip covers for $9 caught my eye, as well as the bum Genius 4.0 covers for $10! Neither of these come with inserts, so be aware of that. There are some organic flip inserts on sale as well. 

When we went from one to two in cloth diapers, we opted for the Flip system. Not only is it cheaper than the full pocket diapers, but you need less covers since they can be reused without washing, and since the Flip is a bit more streamlined, it fits a little bigger than the pocket diaper. For more of my thoughts on the Flip diapers, check out this post.

I really would love to upgrade some of my 3.0 bum Genius diapers to those new 4.0 covers that are just $10, and it is so tempting when Cotton Babies runs a great sale like this. We decided that our diapers, while showing a good bit of wear, still have plenty of life left in them. And now that E is potty trained except for overnight, we have extra diapers on hand! So I'm passing up another great deal because for us right now the thriftier option is to spend nothing, even when it's on clearance.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Free 8x10 photo collage from Walgreens

Here's a great way to remember your favorite moments from this summer!

Now through August 20, get a free 8x10 photo collage from Walgreens Photo center. Use the code PRINTONE when you check out! You will have to pay shipping to have it sent to your house, but choose in-store pick-up to get it completely free.

I've made a number of these through the free offers Walgreens offers periodically and they always look very nice!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Trash to Treasure

Our newest piece of furniture is this lovely little end table. I mentioned on Facebook last week that my kids took really good naps several days in a row (apparently I'm wearing them out this summer!) so I was able to finish up this little project!

Here is the original table. I first spotted it on a neighbor's curb waiting for the trash. I couldn't let that happen, so I rescued it! Before it was even in the house, I could already see it painted black.

Thanks to this little orbital sander, I was able to get most of the yellow paint of and sand down to the real wood underneath.

The only sanding I had to do by hand was for the drawer knob. My 2-year old gets the credit for this picture!

The new black knob!

And the finished product! I had to do 2-3 coats of black in order to make sure that none of the light wood or leftover paint peeked through, but it was really simple and easy. The perfect nap-time project! I'm sure I could have done a better job getting all the old paint off, especially if I had stripped it like I did with the desk to dresser redo. But since this was a lot cheaper piece of furniture, I was ok with cutting a few corners.

We are excited to put this to good use, much better than it ever could have if the garbage truck had gotten to it first!

Have you ever rescued something from the trash? I'd love to hear about it!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Bacon and Avocado Quesadillas

One of our favorite go-to meals, especially in the summer, is quesadillas. I love that they are quick, only require the stove top to be on medium-low, and are so flexible that we can use whatever is on hand as the filling! Plus, I almost always have the basic ingredients, cheese and tortillas, in the house at any given time, so this is a great last minute dinner option to avoid unplanned eating out.

On this particular night, quesadillas were on our menu plan, so they were a little nicer than plain cheese! I started with a little bit of mozzerella, added crumbled bacon and chunks of avocado, then topped it all with a layer of cheddar cheese. I like putting cheese on the top and bottom of the topping because it makes things stick together much better for flipping!

Let the tortilla shell get crispy and brown on the first side before you flip. Get the heat up to medium to make sure that you are not waiting around for 20 minutes!

Once the quesadilla is done on both sides, slice into pieces (a pizza cutter works great for this!) and for a little extra flair, serve with sour cream, salsa, shredded cheese, and chopped tomato. This makes it feel a lot more like a quesadilla you would get out at a restaurant.

Add some fresh fruit on the side and you have a delicious, quick meal for a warm summer day!

Some of our favorite other versions include shrimp and bacon (with BBQ sauce), pizza (with pepperoni and tomato sauce inside or for dipping), spinach and bacon or chicken, and BBQ chicken and onion...the possibilities are endless!

Do you have a favorite way to have your quesadillas?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

CSA Week 11

We are loving the melons from Colchester Farm! They are some of the best melons that I've ever tasted. We picked up another watermelon and another cantaloupe, along with heirloom tomatoes, potatoes, and a beautiful lettuce mix.

We have been getting a ton of rain this weekend! It sounds like more is headed our way, so hopefully our yard won't end up like a swimming pool when its all said and done.

I'm looking forward to posting some fun new recipes this week. Stay dry!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Food Waste Friday

Every Friday, I join with The Frugal Girl and other bloggers to clean out my fridge and freezer and take a picture of anything that has gone bad over the last week. This holds me accountable to faithfully check every week, and motivates me to use up our leftovers. This has made a huge difference in the amount of food we waste every week. I hope you will participate with me in food waste Friday, too! 

This little section of lime is barely worthy of a food waste picture in some ways. This was leftover from my Cherry Limeade making adventure. It would have been so easy to stick it in a glass of water and enjoy it instead of letting it grow pink mold, though! 

I also had a few of last week's CSA carrots that got a little limp on me. I cut the ends off and have them in water in my fridge, though, so they should firm up and we'll either eat them today or I'll cook them and freeze them for later.

Have you checked what's growing in your fridge lately? Its a constant battle for me, but it is worth it!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Delaware Deal Chicken

Daily deal sites are popping up all over the place right now. I am not an impulse shopped at fact I rarely take advantage of the one day sales with Groupon or Living Social. It's a good thing in that we are not spending money on impulse buys we do not need. But I am also learning to have a few things that I am always on the look out for, so that I am ready to make the same day purchase. It's almost always things that we go through on a regular basis, not "extras", though!

That being said, a new daily deal site called Deal Chicken just opened for the Delaware area today! The first deal is for Matilda's Pub in Newark, and it will be great to see some what other businesses will be featured in the coming weeks.

Be sure to visit Deal Chicken to sign up to receive their daily emails!

Monday, August 8, 2011

CSA Week 10

Whew! I'm a little behind today. Here's a look at what we picked up at Colchester Farm on Friday for our week's CSA share:
A watermelon (pink inside this time!), a cantaloupe, corn, purple peppers, and carrots.

We have already enjoyed the cantaloupe, peppers, and carrots...delicious! Melons just taste like summer!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Homeschool Freebie of the Day: Narnia Audio Download

Note: The site is moving very slowly. This is a great freebie and many people are taking advantage of it. It will probably take time, but it is working.

The Homeschool Freebie of the Day is an audio download of the Complete Chronicles of Narnia books by C.S. Lewis. Here is what Homeschool Freebie has to say about this collection:
The reader is Chrissi Hart, who has a lovely British accent just perfect for these readings. The readings are downloadable or available as 101 half-hour podcasts, so between the seven books in the series, there's almost 50 hours of listening here! Wonderful for family or bedtime listening… bookmark this site and enjoy this incredible treasury of some of the best children's books ever!
I have a different audio copy of the Narnia books. I recently read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to my daughter. She's 2 1/2 of course, so her attention span was not always there, but she understands the characters and the story even at two. They are truly classics that anyone can enjoy!

Food Waste Friday

Every Friday, I join with The Frugal Girl and other bloggers to clean out my fridge and freezer and take a picture of anything that has gone bad over the last week. This holds me accountable to faithfully check every week, and motivates me to use up our leftovers. This has made a huge difference in the amount of food we waste every week. I encourage you to participate with me in food waste Friday, too! 

I spotted this little container of creamy tomato sauce yesterday. I was growing some lovely fuzzy bumps on the inside. Its always a bit frustrating to have such a little bit of leftovers, because it is easy for them to get lost in the back of the fridge and forgotten about. Really, I should have just made some extra pasta for lunch the next day to use it up! This cucumber is from our CSA several weeks ago. It looks like just the one end is going bad, so if I cut it off, the rest should be fine for lunch today.

I was very pleased with how we did this week, especially because I was able to salvage several things by freezing them! I have half a container of ricotta that I'm planning to use for a Stromboli tonight. I also have another 3 or 4 pounds of bananas to cut up and freeze. I love having these as a treat in the summer for my kids, but I bought a ton of bananas this week to have them in the freezer for homemade ice cream. You might say that I have a slight addiction! Other than the ricotta, everything else in my fridge is in good shape, and we'll be getting our new CSA food today! I

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Homemade Salsa Verde

Lately we have had the option of picking tomatillos as part of our CSA share. Colchester Farm sent us this Salsa Verde recipe the first week that tomatillos were available to help with ideas for using them. I've made this Salsa Verde three times now, and we have finished it off quickly each time!

The first time I only used half a pound of tomatillos. These little guys have a paper-like skin that you peel off, and then they are sticky! The sticky comes off with a light washing, and then you are ready to cook them. (I've also read that you can make salsa without cooking the tomatillos, but I opted for cooking each time.)

The first time I boiled the tomatillos. Put them in a pot of water and bring the water to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover for 5 minutes. Then remove from the water with a slotted spoon.

Or you can roast the tomatillos. Slice in half and spread on a baking sheet covered in foil. Place under the broiler for 5-7 minutes...
...until they look like this!

While the tomatillos are cooking (either method), chop your onion and place in a food processor. Add the tomatillos, lime juice, cilantro, jalapeno peppers, and sugar and pulse until it looks like salsa!

Tomatillo Salsa Verde (via AllRecipes)
1 1/2 lb tomatillos
1/2 cup chopped white onion
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 teasp. sugar
2 jalapeno peppers
salt to taste

Remove papery husks from tomatillos and rinse well.

Cook tomatillos either by boiling or roasting

Place tomatillos, lime juice, onions, cilantro, peppers, and sugar in a food processor (or blender) and pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped and mixed. Season to taste with salt. Cool in refrigerator.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Simple Homemade Ice Cream

I saw this recipe on Pinterest via Crystal at Money Saving Mom, and I could not wait to give it a try. The recipe originally comes from Sophistimom and is touted as "one ingredient ice cream"! All you need is a food processor (and while a food processor is a kitchen appliance that can be rather pricey, you can also find some great quality ones for less than $30, like the Cuisinart mini - this is what I have and I love it).

Start with chunks of frozen banana. I raided the supply of frozen banana slices that I keep on hand as snacks for my kids! Put the bananas into the food processor and cover. Pulse for a few seconds at a time, chopping the bananas. You may need to scrape them down the sides at times too. Continue to pulse until the consistency of the bananas looks like soft serve ice cream! Then I added a heaping spoonful of peanut butter and about a tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder and pulsed again until I had this deliciousness:

Sophistimom also suggested adding Nutella instead of peanut butter and cocoa, and I'm sure any other nut butter would work too. I love that this tasted like ice cream, but was something we could have for a snack in the middle of the day. It really hit the spot and got us through until dinner. My little helper could not agree more!

Ever wonder why I post recipes? Check out this post.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

$3 Disney Lunchboxes!

Today only you can get a Disney lunchbox for just $3 after $3 cashback through ShopatHome! Shipping is also free with the code SCHOOLSHIP at checkout!

This Cars 2 lunch box is one of the available lunch box, along with Toy Story, Disney Princesses, Mickey & Minnie, and Tinkerbell. This is a great Back-to-School deal, but it will likely sell out before the end of the day. If you are new to ShopatHome, you will also get a $5 credit after your first purchase. The Shop at Home links are my referral links.

Thanks, Moms Need to Know!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Why Recipes?

A regular feature of Thrifty Living is recipes. I've never really talked about why I dedicate a good portion of this blog to posting recipes...its certainly not to show off my cooking prowess! Most of what we eat is simple food, not elaborate like many cooking blogs.

Save money by cooking at home instead of eating out. Any time you eat out, you could have made the same thing at home for less. Eating out costs more because someone is preparing your food, serving you, and you pay for the convenience of choosing from any number of items on the menu. This does not mean that you can never eat out if you are living frugally! Especially if you are used to eating out a lot, going cold turkey may be an unreasonable expectation. We plan our times for eating out, and try to stick to only when we have planned. This way we stay within our budget for restaurant food, but also are able to look forward to when we will be going out to eat. 
Those spur of the moment "I don't feel like cooking; let's eat out tonight" moments are still hard. But having a goal (even if you fall short) is going to help way more in the long run!

A big part of eating out for me is particular foods....some things just always taste better out! So I've worked to pinpoint favorite foods I want to eat out, then we try recreating them at home. One of my favorite things to do is "copycat" recipes...especially things like Cherry Limeade from Sonic or Chick-fil-A chicken nuggets

(Creamless creamy tomato soup with grilled cheese)
Keep it simple. Have a few recipes that are easy. Preparing a highly labor-intensive homemade meal every night of the week is probably not going to make you want to eat out less. You may be more likely to want "a night off" from the kitchen because it is so much work. We have a few "stand-by" favorite recipes, depending on the time of year. Right now a quesadilla is a super easy dinner that does not require the oven, and we've been giving our crock-pot quite a workout! In the fall and winter, chili is one of our favorite go-to meals. 

Mix things up! A few favorites are good, but can get old quick if you are having them every week. Pizza is on our menu most Fridays, but we try to have different versions of pizza instead of the same old same old...BBQ chicken, stuffed crust, pizza bagels, etc. 

Trying new recipes can be great when they work, but chances are if you are doing a lot of cooking at home, you are going to have a recipe flop! Sometimes you can figure out what went wrong, and sometimes the recipe needs to be filed away with a note that says "gross"! I've had to do both!

I've been enjoying trying some new recipes lately, and I can't wait to share them with you!
(Avocado and White Sauce hot dog)
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