Monday, March 30, 2009

Hot Cereal Muffins

Those of you who frequent my personal blog know about my tendency to be sneaky and underhanded when it comes to dishing out stuff to my family which is good for them. We don't always have to be sneaky about it, but serving up meals which are nutritious is wise in many ways. And believe you me, it does save money--in medicine and doctors! I made this post today and Susan asked if I would post it here too. I'd be glad too!

Sometimes I push a specific ingredient or item, but this time I just thought I'd share what I believe is my favorite muffin. I don't remember where I first got the recipe, so I can't give credit to anyone. I love these, particularly when I make a mixture of cottage cheese and cream cheese, add a little vanilla to the mixture, and spread that on the muffins. Yum-YUM. The rest of my family prefers them with peanut butter. It's not going to be necessary for me to tell you all the reasons why these muffins are nutritious. You'll be able to figure it out yourself. I just wanted to share it, since I had lost the recipe for a while and it wasn't so long ago that I found it. So now I've started making them for breakfast again. Enjoy!


1-1/4 cup uncooked hot cereal (I use oatmeal)
1/2 - 3/4 cup hot apple juice or orange juice (heat until almost boiling)
2 Tablespoons canola or sunflower oil
1/4 - 1/3 cup honey
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup plain yogurt (I use Stonyfield organic)
1-1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1-1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind (best with fresh grated)
1/2 cup raisins (optional)

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cereal and hot juice. Mix until well blended. Mix in the oil, honey, egg, and yogurt.

2. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, orange rind and raisins. Mix the dry ingredients into the cereal mixture.

Fill 12 greased baking cups about two-thirds full with batter. (For some reason, I had a lot of batter last time.I put the overflow in a small pan. Usually, though, it's just enough for 12 nice size muffins.) Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

If you make a double batch, you can put some in the freezer for busy (or lazy) mornings. Try them, you may like them. I never got past oatmeal, because that's my favorite hot cereal. You may want to experiment with something else. Hope you and your family find them as tasty as I do.

Friday, March 27, 2009

More Saving Electricity

To piggy back on Joy's excellent post yesterday on the above captioned topic:

I went to the web site of our electric company and couldn't find a thing, even after typing in the search words: peak hours. They did have a way to e-mail them and leave a message, which I did last night, and received an answer this morning. To quote: "Your rate is not different for different hours of the day. Our heaviest load or demand for electricity is from 2:00pm to 7:00 PM Monday through Friday from June to October." They did furnish me with the breakdowns for both summer and winter rates based on usage. In the summer they increase the rate for all usage over 1350 kilowatt hours and in winter they reduce the rade in 3 steps, the first after 475 milowatt hours, then 775 kilowatt hours, and then anything over that even less.

Thanks Joy for making us aware of this so I could check it out. I'll be curious to hear what the rest of you find out.

For some additional ways and things I do to save on electricity:

  1. Don't use dishwasher except when I have a large dinner party with a lot of guests.
  2. We keep our house thermostat on 79 degrees in the summer & 72 degrees in the winter during the day. At night we turn it up to 82 degrees in the summer and down to 65 degrees in the winter.
  3. We have and use ceiling fans in every room of the house. LOVE THEM!!!
  4. I never use "Hot" water in the washer - seldom use "warm" - usually use "cold".
  5. We have replaced all light bulbs we could with the low energy saving bulbs. They cost more up front but last longer and save in the long run.


By the way: we are getting some much needed rain I'm not using the clothes line but my dryer. Sure nice to have it as a back-up when needed :o)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Saving Electricity

One of the best ways to save on your electric bill is to unplug things that aren't being used.

I'm sure you have heard of phantom load. I have been experimenting over the last few months unplugging items when we're not using them. (TV's, printers, VCR's, speakers, stereos, clocks, kitchen gadgets ) I have seen the KWH usage go down on my electric bills. Most electric company's list your kilowatt usage for the previous year and the previous month. So you can monitor your use.

Another thing I did starting in January was take advantage of off-peak and peak hours. I went to my energy company's website and did some snooping. I found out that off-peak hours in the winter for our area is 10:00a.m. to 6:00 p.m weekdays. That means they charge less per KWH for electricity than they do at peak hours. I had to do a search on their website of the words "peak hours" and finally found this information. It wasn't listed in an obvious place. fyi

So I adjusted my pool pump to now turn on at 10:00a.m. and run till 6:00 that way it is running mainly during non-peak hours. I'm also trying to run my dishwasher and do laundry during those hours too instead of waiting until nighttime when they charge peak rates.

Keep in mind that summer and winter peak/off-peak hours may be different.

So go to your energy company's website and snoop around and figure out what peak/non-peak hours are for your area and study your energy bill month to month and see if a few changes make a difference on your TOTAL AMOUNT DUE.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Clothesline

Since Spring is beginning to show its sweet head I thought I'd post about the clothesline that we put up last year.

Using a clothesline has many benefits: it not only cuts down on the electricity bill but it gets you out into the fresh air and your clothes smell wonderful!!

When I first told Mickey I wanted a clothes line he wasn't too thrilled at the idea. After a trip to price timbers for poles and cross bars, etc. it was like most things and was getting more expensive by the minute...oh and the cement to set it in, etc.

After we got home I went out in the back yard, came in and said, "Can't you just string me a little line between those two trees." He wasn't too thrilled about the idea. At first he thought he'd have to move his bird house but I pointed out it was just the two of us and I didn't need anything big or fancy.

He went and bought a clothesline wire that is covered with vynal simple as that ......... I had a clothesline. YEAH!!!

Picture from last August when the line was put up.

So look around your yard and see if there isn't some way to run some clothesline wire and enjoy another frugal step in simplifying our lives and cutting our costs.

Another frugal tip...use an ice cream bucket to hold the clothes pens. I seem to find multiple uses for these ice cream buckets. Clipping it to the line you can just move it along as you are hanging up the items. This way I didn't have to keep bending over and deal with my back. It had been about 39 years since I'd hung clothes on a line!!!

This was my first small wash and it dried in 1 1/2 hours. Mickey teased me that it would have taken 30 minutes in the dryer. Right...but I wonder how much electricity I saved?

Anyway, I am still delighted with my little clothesline. Who knows.....I may even start wearing aprons again but I hope I'll NEVER have to give up the washing machine :o)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Beauty Tips For Less

Hi Everyone!!

Today I just want to share a few tips on one of my favorite topics, Health and Beauty Aids. I LOVE trying new products, and can easily spend more on these than on groceries, if I don't restrain myself!!

1.) Tinted Moisturizer: last spring, I was so tempted to spend $12 on a little bitty tube of tinted moisturizer/ sunscreen at WalMart. But as I was carrying it around in my basket, it dawned on me, I could mix this up at home!! Each morning I put a squirt of my spf 15 moisturizer on the tip of my finger. Then add a little dab of foundation, about 1/3 to 1/2 of the amount of moisturizer, depending on the coverage I want. Mix up with my other finger, and voila!! =)

2.) If you buy a tube of lipstick or nail polish, but you don't like the color once you try it on and you can't return it for whatever reason, try mixing them up to make custom colors!! Right now I have a crimson lipstick that is too dark and a shimmery pale pink that is too light, and I love how they look blended together.

3.) You can double the life of your favorite lipstick just by using an inexpensive lip brush (from the dollar store) to access the 1/2 inch (or more) remaining lipstick in the bottom of the tube.

4.) Go shopping in your bathroom first!!! You can save a ton this way. If you didn't like a product at first, try it again with an open mind and see if it might work.... I cleaned up my bathroom cabinets and I found:
*enough Victoria's Secret/ Bath & Bodyworks perfumes and lotions to last a year ($100+)
*3 Venus cartridges that were pushed into corners and buried ($6-8)
*A couple more disposable razors I thought I didn't like, but they are fine ($4)
*2 half full bags of cotton balls ($2)
*4 half full bottles of conditioner and leave in conditioner ($10)
*3 nice pairs of tweezers ~ I am always losing and replacing these ($20)
*2 bottles of hairspray, hair glaze, a box of hairdye I forgot I had ($20)
*3 tubes of Neosporin (we are always losing and replacing) ($10)
*3 deodorants I didn't like, 2 shampoos I didn't like, 4 different types of toothpaste ($30+)
*All kinds cosmetic products I used once and forgot about. ($100+)
*And lots more.
Just by being A LOT less picky and using what I already have, I should be able to avoid spending a few hundred dollars over the next several months.

5.) Another idea for when you have half-used products you don't like, find a friend who has the same and do some trading!! I have done this in the past, and not only is it fun, you can discover some great new products for free.

6.) I have learned to always save my receipt, though. Sometimes I know the first time Iuse something, it is not going to work. If there's just a tiny bit gone, Walmart and Walgreens have always taken them back when I explained I didn't like it, and I had my receipt.

7.) Don't forget to check the clearance baskets at the ends of the aisles at the grocery store. I never check the regular aisle because it is always too expensive, but the clearance prices, esp. if you have coupons, can be amazing. I bought a Cover Girl Outlast lipcolor for $1, it was on clearance for $3 and I had a $2 coupon.

8.) Last, the dollar store can be a good source, too. I don't ever buy the "off" brands of makeup they sell there, but a lot of times, they'll have name brands like Maybelline and Cover Girl, from drugstores, that were labeled with the wrong color name. I have gotten some good deals there, too.

P.S. I would LOVE to hear what kind of forgotten treasures you all find, if you decide to clean out your bathroom cabinets, too!!!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Doesn't hurt to ask!

Several months ago I was making a pass through the meat department around 7 p.m. at Al*bert*sons to see if the ground beef was on sale. Now, I don't know about you, but it just chaps my hide to buy ground beef at $3.49+ per pound. So I just decided it wouldn't hurt to ask if they could give me a better price. The meat guy said, "Sure we need to move it out tonight so you can have it for $1.49 a pound". After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I said I'd take the rest of it. He continued to tell me that because of store policy they have to throw away the remainder of the ground beef every night. Guess what time I go to the meat department? I've lucked out several times since then. Sometimes it has depended on who's working that evening. One evening I didn't even have to ask. The guy just said if I wanted the rest of the ground beef, he'd give it to me at that price.

I don't know if this is their policy across the board, but it sure doesn't hurt to ask, right?!

The other deal we get here is at the dollar store. The Dollar*Tree has a contract with Sara*Lee for bread. This bread isn't day-olds (nothing wrong with that anyway). The expiration date is not for up to a week out. This includes the 100% whole wheat bread (which, btw, doesn't have corn syrup), multi-grain bread, bagels, and raisin bread all of which retail for up to $3.99. Also they have pita bread, hot dog and hamburger buns. All of these freeze well. (But shhhhhhh! this is a secret! I don't want those nasty hoarders stealing my bread!) ;)

Again, I don't know for sure if this is everywhere. I do know they do this in the Phoenix area.

Hope this helps.

Great week to you all!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Microfiber Cloths

Frugal Fridays is sponsored by Jessica at If you have a great frugal tip, join in the fun by signing her Mr. Linky.

I saw an article in Good Housekeeping on the subject of recycling in latest issue, and one topic caught my attention: "Smart Ways to Reduce and Reuse." In particular, the first item in this short list of eight suggestions talked about microfiber cloths. The article stated that one such cloth, before it needs to be replaced, can take the place of sixty rolls of paper towels. Did you hear that? Sixty ROLLS. Even if that's an exaggeration, that's a lot of paper towels we could save by using one of these cloths instead. The last time I bought paper towels, I noticed they are getting quite pricey.

I'm glad I read this article because it reminded me that perhaps I overuse paper towels for too many things. So I went and dug out the package of microfiber cloths I bought a good bit of time ago at BJ's. It was a pack of 25 and there are a bunch of them still left. So far we've just been using them for dusting and washing windows, but there are so many more uses. They are washable, absorbent, and gentle. They can be used wet or dry. Here are ways you can save on paper towels and save a few trees:

1. Cleaning windows, mirrors, and glass doors. You usually don't need a spray cleaner with them, another savings.

2. Gentle enough to use on your eyeglasses. Cut one up and make it smaller.

3. For dusting, of course.

4. Absorbing spills.

5. Wiping counters.

6. Washing the car. Polishing the car.

7. Cleaning the computer screen, glass surface on copiers, etc. and cleaning your phones, ipods. They don't scratch these surfaces.

8. Cleaning most of your appliances without needing to use abrasives or cleaning solutions.

9. Haven't tried it but I'll bet they're good for polishing shoes.

Got any other suggestions? Let us know! Oh by the way: Cutting up my husband's old white cotton tee shirts works good for a lot of these uses too! A friend of mine swears by cut up tee shirts for cleaning her eyeglasses.

Also on the subject of saving trees, the article pointed out that we could save on paper by not being so quick to print out a page when we could just jot it down on the back of something that we've already printed. Also, we could cut up once-used printed sheets and use the backs to write down notes, keeping some handy near the computer or telephone
. Or use the backs for shopping lists. Hey, use them for paper projects for the kids, too!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


This re-post in an Addendum to add additional solutions from comments for easy future reference.

The list of practical solutions listed below is a continuation of my post under this heading on my Penless Writer blog. If you have not already read that post. Please go here and do so.

Some practical solutions for getting our home & lives in order to weather the difficult times that may lie ahead in our lives and world:

  1. Begin to tighten your belt.

  2. Cut back on spending where ever, and how ever, you can.

  3. Start making extra payment on any credit card debt you have.

  4. Make extra principle payments on your home and/or automobiles.

  5. Refinance if the interest rate drops to 4% like they are discussing.

  6. Begin to lower the thermostat in the winter & raise it in the summer.

  7. Watch food ads closely and stock up when things are on sale, and just don't buy some items when they are not on sale.

  8. Start growing some of your own food.

  9. Put out some rain barrels.

  10. Recycle and reuse as many items as possible. We have become such a "throw away" society.

  11. Use your sewing, knitting, etc. skills. Both for your own use and perhaps to sell items.

  12. Have a garage sale and sell all the STUFF you really don't need or are not using.
The list could go on and on. I hope many of you will leave your suggestions in the comments. I will go back and add all of them to this list for easy reference in the future. Thanks!!!


Suggestion added by Mari:

  1. Trading talens - using the barter system (my personal thought on this is we will see more of the barter system during really tight times)

Maxine added:

  1. Saving glass jars to use for refrigerator/freezer storage. For freezing be sure and leave some air space at the top as the food can expand and break the jar.
  2. Use these glass bottle to take chicken noodle or vegtable soup when taking in foor to a friend. That way they don't have to worry will returning an emply dish.

Joy added:

  1. Match coupons with sales. Her store doubles up to 50 cents.
  2. Using electric blankets allows you to lower the thermostat and uses far less electricity.
  3. Making a compost bin.

Joyfulsister added:

  1. Use cash instead of debit card and you're inclined to spend less money.

Humble Wife added:

  1. Learning to cook more foods from scratch.

Kathy added:

  1. Wants to learn ways to economize in the homeschooling arena.

Thanks to these 6 who left these 9 great additional tips and solutions.

Saturday, March 7, 2009


I wanted to share an idea with you that we did one year. With all the financial problems and issueS our country is having today I thought this might be something some of you would like to do.

I don't remember the exact year we did this. We had all 4 children at home, and it was a tight time (financially) for us. Vacation time was rolling around and we did not have the funds to take a vacation as we normally did.

We've always been one who sees the glass half full & not half empty, and we believe in making Lemonade out of Lemons. SO..........

We decided to vacation at home in Tulsa!!!

  1. We would get up every morning and go out to breakfast and then begin the sightseeing and activities we had chosen for the day.
  2. We ate lunch and dinner out each day.
  3. We would return home at the end of the day and fall into our own beds to sleep.
  4. The next day we would do the same and so on.

Even though we had lived in Tulsa a number of years there were a lot of places and things to see that we had never taken the time, or had the time, to visit. This was our time to do just that.

We had a wonderful time and now that all our children are adults they will all tell you this is one vacation that they remember along with the trips to Disney World , Grand Canyon and various other trips we took during those years.

I posted about this and the places we visited that year in Tulsa back on June 6, 2007.Go here if you'd like to read that post:


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Paper bag popcorn

{Have a frugal tip or thought to share? Post about it on your blog and then head over to Biblical Womanhood for Frugal Fridays and leave your link so we can all be motivated and inspired.}

This is a fun way to make microwave popcorn without needing to use oil. You can also monitor how much butter and/or salt you want to put on it.
I found this recipe by doing an online search. It's been a year, and unfortunately I can't remember exactly which site I used, so I'll just say thank you to whoever thought of this first!

1. Put 1/3 cup of popcorn in a paper lunch bag.
2. Fold over the top about a half inch. Do this twice.
3. I seal it with a piece of gray tape.
(The original site said you could safely seal it with a couple of staples, but I didn't want to take that risk--you know, metal and microwaves--eek!
4. Now, here's where you'll have to play with it, because everyone's microwaves are different.
I set our microwave at approx. 1 1/2 min. Give or take a couple of seconds.

I haven't done a price breakdown on this, but I do know it is less expensive than store-bought microwave popcorn and much healthier.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


It's that time of the year in most parts of the Country to get seedlings started for the spring garden.

I'd like to show you a way to reuse and recycle toilet paper tubes to make a seedling container.

1. Cut the toilet paper tube in half.

2. Make four snips about a 1/3 of the way up the tube across from each other

3. Fold in towards each other to create a little container.

4. Place your soil and seed in the container.

When it is ready to go into the garden you can plant the container and all.

Here is a picture of how the bottom of the container would look.

Some seedling I started for the fall last year:

You can also write the date you planted the seed and the type of seed it was on the side of the container. I use a spray bottle to keep them moist.

Give it a try and let us know how it works for you.