Monday, December 22, 2008


Our family enjoys eating biscuits for breakfast, dinner, and leftovers get eaten anytime between for a snack. We make ours a little healthier with the addition of whole wheat flour and by using oil instead of shortening. Here is our adapted recipe. You can use oil in any biscuit recipe by simply substituting it for the shortening. The dough may be a little stickier than usual. You can also substitute whole wheat flour for about a third or a half of the total amount your recipe calls for. You may need to experiment with your recipe a little bit before you get the proportions you like.

Butttermilk Biscuits
3/4 cup unbleached flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup oil

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Combine dry ingredients. Add milk and oil. Stir just enough so dough leaves side of bowl and rounds up in a ball. Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead lightly ten times. Roll dough 1/2 inch thick. Cut with floured 2-inch biscuit cutter. Place on ungreased cookie sheet about 1 inch apart for crusty sides or touching for soft sides. Bake until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Immediately remove from cookie sheet.

Herbed Cheese Biscuits
Use the same recipe as above, and add 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, 1 tablespoon parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

How To Make Fabric Sanitary Pads

I have been using homemade fabric sanitary pads for about a year. The reason I use them is to save money, and also to avoid the rash I get from the store ones. To read a good article about using fabric pads, hop over to Hillbilly Housewife. She has a pattern over there as well that is a little different than mine.

water proof fabric (optional)
cotton batting

Begin by tracing your favorite commercial pad, preferably one with wings. Use this pattern to cut one layer of flannel or other soft absorbent cloth and one layer of water proof fabric. You could use another layer of flannel, but the water proof fabric makes the pad "safer". I used Classic PUL from Neptune Fabrics because that is what I had, but if I buy more I would like to try the breathable one.

Next make an oval pattern that is a little smaller than the body of your pad. Cut three or four layers of cotton batting using this pattern and stack them on top of each other. They will look very bulky, but don't worry yet. When everything is sewn together, the pad will be smaller. Zig-zag around the edges of batting to hold all the layers together.

Now lay down the water proof fabric, right side down (fuzzy side down). Next center the oval padding on the bottom layer. On top lay the flannel right side up.

Pin very well all around the edges and down the middle of the pad to hold all the layers on place.

Use your zig-zag stitch again to stitch around the edges. Switch to straight stitch and sew around the edges of the inner pad.

Completed! If you don't like your pad the first time, keep using them for a while to get used to it. Don't be afraid to experiment with your pattern until you have the size and shape you are comfortable with.

To Use: Place in pantys and wrap the wings around just like store bought pads. Safety pin the wings on bottom. Or you could add a button or snap or a bit of velcro.

To wash: As you change each pad, rinse it out and put in a bucket of cold water to soak. I like to add a few tablespoons of borax to reduce staining and odor. Try to get them washed within two days. If you can't wash them, get them out if the bucket to dry, or they will start to stink. Just throw the pads in the washer with your other clothes. They won't hurt a thing.

If you would like to try fabric pads but don't want to make your own, here are some stores that sell them.
Cottontail Baby
Mother Of Eden

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Book Review

The Encyclopedia Of Healing Foods by Michael Murray N. D. is the best book on food and nutrition I have ever seen. It came with my herbalist course as required reading, and I fell in love with it. The book opens with an overview of nutrition and how to design a healthy diet. Next Dr. Murray covers vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Part three is the "Compendium Of Healing Foods" where every fruit, vegetable, meat or other food you ever heard of (plus several you've never heard of!) is listed. In the chapter "The Healing Power Of Vegetables", vegetables are listed with a vegetable overview, history of the vegetable, nutritional highlights, health benefits, how to select and store, tips for preparing and serving, and finally safety. "The Healing Power Of Fruits" follows vegetables, and the following chapters cover every food group. The book closes with a chapter titled "Promoting Health and Healing With Food". The Encyclopedia Of Healing Foods is an essential book to anyone desiring to learn more about food and nutrition.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Creative Leftovers

Our family has always eaten leftovers. I remember being shocked the first time I heard someone say they threw away leftovers because nobody would eat them. What a waste! It is true, leftovers can be boring. Especially when you eat them the same way the very next night. We try to make ours taste like they are new, not just heated up food from yesterday. To reheat casseroles, try making a little more sauce, cream soup, or whatever is in the recipe, and drizzle over. Add some fresh cheese, bread crumbs, onions, etc on top. This takes away the dry, reheated texture. Throw odds and ends of vegetables in a pot of soup. Before our family was as large as it is now, and we eat every bit, I remember my mom had a bowl in the freezer that she always put leftover vegetables in. Then when she made vegetable beef soup, she would add those frozen vegetables. Soup is a great leftover hider! You can throw in vegetables, rice and other grains, or gravy. Use your imagination. You never know what recipe you may come up with that will be a new family favorite! Steaming is a good way to heat up pasta or rice without drying it out. Use extra spaghetti sauce to make lasagna. We like dressing made with leftover cornbread and biscuits. Like the vegetables, save them up in the freezer until you have enough. Day old french bread is good in bread pudding. Cinnamon raisin bread is delicious as well.

Banana Bread Pudding
8 cups cubed day old french bread
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 eggs
2 cups milk
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup sliced firm banana
(1/4 inch pieces)

3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3/4 cup milk
1/4 light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place the bread cubes in a greased 4-quart casserole; pour butter over and toss to coat. In a medium bowl, lightly beat eggs; add milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir in bananas. Pour over bread cubes and stir to coat. Bake uncovered at 375* for 40 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Meanwhile, for the sauce, melt butter in a small saucepan. Combine sugar and cornstarch; add to butter. Stir in milk and syrup. Cook and stir over medium heat until the mixture comes to a full boil. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat; stir in the vanilla. Serve warm sauce over warm pudding.

Planned leftovers are actually a good way to save time. Making an extra casserole to put in the freezer dosen't take much longer than making just one, and is very convenient on a busy day. Here is my favorite planned leftover recipe.

Day One:
Cuban Black Beans
cooked black beans
cooked rice
shredded chedder cheese
fresh tomatoes, chopped
green onions, sliced
sour cream

On each plate, layer rice, black beans, and corn, and sprinkle cheese on top. Put the tomatoes, green onions, and sour cream on the table for everyone to put on their pile as they want.

Day Two:
Santa Fe Chicken Stew
4 whole chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 small onion, diced
15 1/2 ounce can whole kernel corn, undrained
24 ounce can black beans, undrained
14 1/2 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
10 ounce can rotel tomatoes, undrained or 1 cup salsa (We usually use a combination.)
1 1/2 cups prepared brown rice
garlic, cumin, and salt to taste
chicken broth from cooking the chicken
(The original recipe calls for the canned ingredients. Substitute leftovers as you have them.)

Place first nine ingredients in a crockpot. Add chicken broth to make the stew the consistency you like. Cook on low for three to four hours.

Ladle soup into bowls, and sprinkle with Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese. Serve with tortilla chips and extra salsa.

And finally, a recipe that uses leftover oatmeal. Honestly, the thought of reheating leftover gluey oatmeal is kind of gross to me. But these muffins are delicious.

Breakfast Oatmeal Muffins
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup leftover oatmeal
1 cup raisins, optional
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and soda. In another bowl, combine oil, eggs, oatmeal, raisins and vanilla; add to dry ingredients and stir just until moistened. Spoon into 12 greased muffin cups. Bake at 350* for 18 minutes.

For more frugal tips, visit Biblical Womanhood.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Blue Jean Quilts

Quilting can be a very expensive hobby, but if you scrap quilt, you can make quilts for just about free. I have made two twin size blue jean quilts, and am nearly finished with a queen size quilt made out of old clothes and scraps from sewing. Each of them cost about ten dollars for the materials I needed. I had been saving blue jeans for a quilt, but it was taking a very long time. When you are saving jeans from two young boys, and a hard working Daddy, there isn't much left to quilt with! So I decided to check at garage sales. That wasn't going too well either, until I found a garage sale where the people were selling blue jeans for a dollar a bag! And they had tables of them! I was so excited. I think I bought three trash bags full of blue jeans. We were able to wear some of them, and the rest were perfect for my quilt project.

Here is how I made my quilt. You can save your old blue jeans, find them at garage sales, or ask all your friends to save you their jeans. Don't worry about all the blue jeans being the same shade. The variations add character.

Begin by cutting your jeans into squares. I cut mine six and a half inches square. You could make yours smaller or larger according to your taste. Remember that smaller squares make more cutting and sewing. You can make some squares out of two triangles sewn together and cut some squares around pockets. Sew the squares into strips and sew the strips together to make the quilt the size that you want it. Next comes layering the quilt. To save money, I used an old blanket for the batting and a sheet for the back. This makes a very heavy quilt. Lay the quilt top on the floor right side up. On top, lay the sheet, or whatever you are going to use for backing, upside down. (Right sides together.) On top of the sheet, lay the blanket or other batting. Smooth the layers as flat as you possibly can. Pin well all around the edges, and trim the edges even. Sew around the edges leaving about a foot open for turning. Trim the corners and turn the quilt right side out. Sew up the hole. Next you tie the quilt. I used red cotton yarn, and tied on the corner of every two squares.

Use the same method and make a matching pillow. Happy sewing!

For more frugal ideas visit Biblical Womanhood.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Natural Cleaning Recipes

One of the biggest ways most people introduce harmful toxins into their homes is through cleaning products. Commercial cleaning products are loaded with poisons that are harmful to your health and to the environment. What to do? Make you own homemade natural cleaners using mainly ingredients you already have in your home! Don't try to switch all at once. Make your homemade solutions one at a time as you use up the store bought cleaner. And while you're at it, ditch the paper towels. Save old holey socks, and cut them down the side to use for cleaning rags. Worn out T-shirts, and other old clothes also work well for cleaning rags. To clean mirrors, use newspaper. Here are some recipes that we use to get you started. Remember to always label your containers!

Scouring Powder
Mix equal parts baking soda, salt, and borax in an airtight container. Use to clean sinks, bathtub, counters.

Antibacterial Spray Cleaner
1 teaspoon borax
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 cups hot water
1/4 teaspoon eucalyptus essential oil
1/4 teaspoon lavender essential oil
3 drops tea tree essential oil
Mix all ingredients and pour into a spray bottle.

Drain Opener
Pour 1 cup baking soda down the drain, then add 1 cup hot vinegar. Wait a few minutes before flushing the drain with about a quart of very hot water. Repeat if necesary. This process, cutting down to 1/4 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup vinegar is also excellent for keeping garbage disposals clean

To clean floors combine 1/4 cup vinegar with 1/2 gallon hot water. If a stronger disinfectant is required, add five drops tea tree essential oil.

For more natural cleaning recipes and ideas, visit these sites.
Frugal Fun
Natural Healthy Home Cleaning Tips