Friday, February 25, 2011

Hand Pump Soap, Pretty & Clean

* * *  How Fun Are These?!  * * *

I found this on "Just Something I Made" blog site by Cathe and I just had to share it.  I've found the darn hand pumps on these "disposable" soap jars to work far superior to those for which we pay ten times more.  (Same goes for spray bottles!) 

What Cathe has here is a fun, frugal, and crafty solution for the hand-soap blues.  Her article on the S.C. Johnson website shares more how-to detail, but with the photos she provides here the rest is really up to you.  Old maps, leather from an old worn purse, vintage wrapping paper, ... just think, the menu from the local Chinese restaurant. 

Great idea for teacher appreciation!

Be inspired, frugal friend! 

Tired of Cream of Mushroom?

Here's something I happened upon a few years back that has kept me away from the cream of whatever soups.  It's frugal and it tastes loads better.

It's called "Casserole Sauce Mix"  I've designated a canister for it so that I always have it on hand.  Now I'm sharing it with the world!  Or at least with the couple of ya that log into my blog.

Casserole Sauce Mix

2 cups instant nonfat dry milk
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup reduced sodium chicken or beef bouillon
1/2 tsp dried, crushed thyme
1/2 tsp dried, crushed basil
1/4 tsp pepper

Combine all ingredients.  Store in airtight container.
Use as replacement for canned cream soups in recipes.

To substitute for one can of condensed cream soup, stir together 1/3 cup dry mix with 1 cup water in saucepan.  Cook and stir until thickened.

Mix = 9 cans condensed cream soup.

Personally, I began omitting the herbs years ago, which allows more options when cooking.  I've chosen to use chicken bouillon as it pairs so nicely with most dishes.  Your family may have different requirements.  Try this handy mixture, it's so easy my kids can make it. 

Added bonus:  we can pronounce the ingredients!

Foods For the Sick 1910

c. 1910

The following come straight from the book pictured above.  Most are ludicrous, a few plausible, none prescribed today

All are entertaining, even humorous for us today and a part of our heritage and ancestry. 
You may remember some of your own "old family remedies."  Feel free to share them in the comment box below. 
I'd love to hear from you!

Foods for the Sick
and How To Prepare Them

Beef Tea by Cold Process  

Let finely chopped round steak and pinch of salt sit in a covered jar full of cold water for 5-6 hrs.  Strain and squeeze, twisting hard in muslin.  Very nutritious and better than extract from the store.

Beef Juice from Broiled Steak

With one pound of round steak, all fat trimmed off, broil slightly and press juice out.  You'll get 2-4oz.  Season with salt.

Mutton Broth

Take one pound lean mutton, including some of the bone, one pt of water and pinch of salt.  Cook three hrs. over a slow fire adding water as necessary to make half pint.  Strain through muslin cloth.  Cool.  Remove fat.  A very nutritious and delicious broth is made from this by adding corn starch or arrowroot, cook ten min., add three oz. milk or 1 1/2 oz. cream.

Meat Pulp

With rare round or sirloin steak, outer parts trimmed, shred with a knife and salt well.  one teaspoon to one tablespoon may be given to child eighteen months and over.

Junkets or Curds and Whey

One pint fresh cows milk, warmed, pinch salt and teaspoon sugar;  add two teaspoons essence of pepsin, or liquid rennet, or one junket tablet dissolved in water;  stir for a moment then allow to stand at room temp. for 20min. or until firmly coagulated; set in ice box or cool place until thoroughly cold.  For older children may be seasoned with grated nutmeg.


The coagulated milk, prepared as above, is broken up with a fork and the whey is strained through muslin.  This is best given cold.  If some stimulant is desired, sherry wine in the proportion of 1:12, or brandy 1:24 may be added.  This whey is useful in many cases of indigestion.

Barley Jelly from the Grains

Take three tablespoons of pearl barley, soak overnight then place in 1qt. fresh water;  add pinch of salt and boil in double boiler steadily 4hrs. or down to 1pt., adding water from time to time;  strain through muslin..

When cold this makes a rather thick jelly.  If a thinner gruel or barley water is desired, one half the quantity of barley should be used.

(Same goes for oatmeal, wheaten grits, or rice grains.)

Albumen Water

Put the white of one egg into half glass of water; stir slowly for 5min. without getting it frothy.  Strain through cheesecloth.  If necessary, sweeten and flavor to suit child.

Another way is to take the white of 1 fresh egg, 1/2 pt. cold water, pinch of salt and 1 tsp brandy.  Shake thoroughly and feed cold either with spoon or from bottle.  This is useful in cases of vomiting and can sometimes be retained by a very irritable stomach.

(I'm just going to add another reminder that this is no longer prescribed.  This is for amusement and slightly educational purposes only.)

Coddled Egg

A fresh egg with the shell on is placed in boiling water which is immediately afterwards removed from the fire.  The egg should cook slowly in the water for 7-8 min. when the white should be the consistency of jelly.  Add salt and, for a delicate stomach, give the white only.

Lime Water

Take a heaping teaspoonful of slaked lime (an inorganic compound with the chemical formula Ca(OH)2) and 1 qt. bottled or distilled water;  place in a corked bottle and shake thoroughly 2-3x during 1st hr.;  then allow the lime to settle for 24 hrs.  Carefully pour off and use the clear fluid.  From a teaspoonful to a tablespoonful may be given at a feeding.

Egg and Barley Water

To the white of 1 egg add 8 oz. of barley water and 1 1/2 tsp. sugar.  This is good for children recovering from a sickness when milk is not successful.  Rice water may be substituted for the barley water if preferred.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Time Management for Smarties

Time Management
Now, there's a term for the 21st century.  I don't know about you, but I could use some good advice here.  When I type these words on the Google search engine it returns about 548,000,000 results.  Articles are written, classes offered, it's defined on Wikipedia for us; the act or process of exercising conscious control over the amount of time spent on specific activities.

But we know what it is.  Managing time.  Just a couple of great ideas once in awhile is what I need.  So that I can have a little time to incorporate an efficient new plan before I'm introduced to the next great idea. 

When I'm reading an organizational book I take copious notes, implement a few new strategies, and call it a day.  Months later my notes are rediscovered, by now dusty and sadly ridiculous.  They end up in the recycling bin.  All I need now is more dust?  That's not what I was after!

I'm going to "go with this," as they say, and start my own plan.  Time management is thrifty because it is wise economy.  So my plan will be to include it under my "THRIFTY THURSDAY" series.  Let's see how it goes.


We ladies have been given an amazing ability here!  We don't even notice when we're doing it.  Standing and stirring white sauce constantly so that it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan while discussing the disadvantages of paying for a cell phone for your fifteen-yr-old when you can't pay off the Visa bill while deligating the other children to complete their respective chores is multitasking.  Making dinner, teaching stewardship, encouraging responsibility.  That's just ten minutes!

I bring books, knitting, even crosswords with me when I know I'll be sitting in a waiting room, or watching a game, waiting while picking up the kids, sitting at swim lessons, etc.

There are times, however when this super-talent becomes a handicap.  Some things demand our full attention.  I'm guilty of shooing away children when I'm in the middle of a project, or playing solitaire while on the phone with someone who deserves better.  These are moments that require more concentration.  Life is hectic.  Go ahead and stop once in awhile.  You'll be teaching your children to do the same.

I, for one, plan to work on learning when it's time to pause.  I don't want to half-appreciate the blessings in my life.  That's my "great idea" for first installment of THRIFTY THURSDAY's Time Management series.  Now, I have about twenty good, solid minutes to read a book and have a cuddle with my 5-yr-old before lunchtime and preschool. 

Organize That Medicine Closet

Being organized saves time.  It saves a lot of other things too, your sanity for instance.  I'm not talking "Martha Stewart" organized.  A little here and there helps a lot!  

Some days you don't know if you're coming or going.  I know.  I really do.  Maybe pencil-in an appointment for yourself for an hour or two and make your "someday-catch-up" today!  ...Or tomorrow, but this week.   We've got to make it easier for ourselves.

I'll start with the medicine closet because we know that can turn into a costly mess.  Pretty soon little Susie has a fever and we "just knew" we had some fever-reducer somewhere, but we can't find it when we need it.  So, what do we do?  Well, as nurturing mommies, we purchase more of what we couldn't find.

Several weeks later, however, we sure enough happen upon two half-gone bottles of fever-reducer in that same closet while we're searching for cough drops (because, of course, the illness is still travelling through the home).  That makes three ... by now also half-gone bottles of fever-reducer.  But from whence did they come? 

We've all done it.  Heck, we've all tossed out-dated meds.  Today, enough is enough!  It's time to make it easier on yourself.

First, buy, or recover, what you need.

For instance, I use more Excedrin® Migraine so I know I'm saving money when I purchase the large bottle.  However we don't use much ibuprofen so the smaller bottle is better economy for our family.   Medications have expiration dates and, though we hear that most just lose their potency as they age, this is certainly not a blanket statement.  Fact is, you and I don't know.  Better to stick with directions on this one.  When in doubt, throw it out!

 I'd had these bins around for quite some years, using them for everything from rubber stamps to crayons and markers to Legos.  A few summers ago I had almost donated them.  I don't know what prompted me, but I recovered them from the donation pile for this purpose and have used them in this way ever since. 

Of course, in years past I've used boxes and baskets, which is perfect as long as everything is returned to it's designated place, aka. organized.  In our home, that idea worked until the kids were old enough to seek dig out meds.  I needed something new!  Something easier

I often see such bins sold in the dollar stores (one of the boxes in the photo is about ten years old and from a dollar store) and with this life of relative ease, why spend more?

As you can see, I resolved to have different medication categories "share" the drawers amongst one another.  They're labeled accurately so what we need is easy to find, even for my 12-yr-old with an itchy rash, and my 15-yr-old with a sports injury.  I generally know what's there so I just tell them what to look for, which is handy when you're up to your elbows in raw chicken.  

Here's how I organized our closet:

1.  Pain Relievers
     TYLENOL®, ibuprofen, aspirin, Icy Hot®,  Orajel®
     Thermometers, pill-spitter, dosage cups

2.  Cold Care
     cough drops, decongestant, vapor rubs, antihistimines, lip balm, dosage cups

3.  Itch Relievers / Digestive Care / Sleep Aids
     calamine lotion, diaper rash ointment, hydrocortisone cream, acid reducer,
milk of magnesia, antacids, Chiggerex®, meletonin

4.  Oral Care
     toothbrushes, floss, toothpaste

5. Deodorants / Razors
    deodorants and razors 

My husband's old label-maker was a nice asset, but not necessary.  In days past I used my share of Sharpie® and masking tape.  You may find a need to organize differently for your family, the key is clear labeling.

There you have it.  Organizing is, indeed, a stitch in time that can save your caboose and your pocketbook.  Frugal is sexy!  Just ask hubby...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

tea party

Bean Art, a Vintage Folk Art


I remember working the Minnesota State Fair when I was fourteen.  My job was to sit in the back of the Bean Room in the Ag/Hort building.  I would sit back there reading Danielle Steel (hey, I was really young) and pick up anything that fell out of sorts.  This was the room where the Legume Art entries were showcased.  I know it sounds kind of silly to some, but some of them were quite amazing.  You may have seen these. 

Me (left) at about age 14, Halloween 1985

When I was sent an update from the Someday Crafts blog site it brought me back a few years.  I thought "Gosh, this would make a great fair project for the kids!"  So I'm sharing it with you as well.

The blogger suggests first finding a frame. 
Next, an image. 
Pencil the image onto a board that fits into your frame. 
She painted the background the color of the legumes used so the brown of the board didn't show through.

Next, using tacky glue, she filled in the spaces as indicated by given color.  Obviously tedious, this is what brings satisfaction in the end.  Attention to detail.  You may also choose to paint your frame a new color.

Now I know what we're going to be doing this June!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Kidney-Portuguese Soup

Alright, some of you have seen my posts about beans and may be thinking, "I just don't like beans."  Consider onions, peppers, asparagus, Brussels sprouts.  Did you always like those?  Now, those of you who still eat nothing but white bread and macaroni and cheese, well I know you won't be converted.  But we know that food-appreciation is learned. 

Learning takes practice.  If we know and respect that asparagus is good for us, we'll keep trying.  We begin to discover the nuances of it's nuttiness and fresh spring flavor.  Next thing you know, you're a fan.  Now consider taking this approach with beans.  You know they're good for you.  You want your kids to grow up appreciating them.  This is a good recipe from which to begin your palate-coaching.

The following is one of the first recipes I made with beans.  I didn't always promote them.  I used to, well, reject them.  But, you'll read in my earlier posts that legume economics won me over early in my career as a SAHM.  This recipe comes from the MN Health Dept, 1985, titled "If You Don't Know Beans About Beans."  Don't you love that title?  This one is a meal in a bowl; hearty, filling, and so flavorful. 

kidney beans

 1 cup dry kidney beans
6 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
salt & pepper
4 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 bay leaves
1 Tbsp allspice
1-6oz. can tomato paste

Follow usual directions for cooking the beans but do not drain.  Add the potatoes and a little salt.  Be sure they're covered.  Cook 15 min.  Meanwhile, saute the onions and garlic in oil.  Add to the soup.  Add the bay leaves, allspice, and salt & pepper.  Slowly simmer for 3hrs, adding more water if necessary.  Serves 6-8

Monday, February 21, 2011

When Life Gives Ya Snow, Make Pudding

Well, after an enjoyable spring weather teaser we're finding ourselves knee-deep again in fresh new-fallen snow.  The last 24hrs has brought us the greatest Twin Cities February storm on record with a new foot of snow, almost twice that in some places.  That officially brings us to 72.9-in. of snowfall for the season.  

And it's still snowing. 

It's hard to be upbeat for many of us right now.  As thrilling as this is in December, we're now ready for spring!  This sentiment is echoed by myriad grumbles on facebook posts over these past couple of days by my Minnesota chums  People wonder why we talk so much about the weather up here.  Well, for heaven's sake, winter is eight months long!  That's kind of a big deal.

In an effort to avoid some of the gloominess that comes with these late-winter storms, I got up early this morning and made a recipe I'd never tried before.  There's one in my "The Fabulous Egg Cookbook" called "Snow Egg Pudding"  that attracted me as I happened to be perusing through it the other day during the news forecast.  Now, this isn't something I'd make often because, I warn ya, it's a lot of work.  You're gonna stand over your stove until it's done.  You may even benefit from a helper if you're not a multi-tasker, or if a small someone shuffles in and wants to help.  But, these are fun and yummy when you're snowed-in with your kids!

Snow Egg Pudding

6 eggs, separated
1 3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp brown sugar

In shallow skillet over low heat place milk, sugar, lemon juice, & vanilla.  Stir constantly until sugar is dissolved and milk mixture reaches a very slow boil.

Beat egg whites until they stand in peaks; add Brown sugar gradually and continue beating until they stand in firm peaks.

Using large spoon, scoop up a portion of the egg mixture then gently slip into boiling milk.  Turn each "half egg" over once so both sides are done evenly.  Remove gently with slotted spoon onto paper toweling to drain.

Our Light & Fluffy Snow Egg Pudding

Strain milk mixture.  Allow to cool slightly.  Beat egg yolks until light and lemon-colored.  Slowly add the cooled milk mixture to the yolks, continuing to beat for a second or two.  Place milk and egg yolk mixture in saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture has thickened and coats spoon.  Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temp.  Pour into serving dish, arrange "half eggs" atop.  Refrigerate 1hr to chill.  Serves 6.

About Me

My photo
As long as I'm on this journey, rambling through life's exhilarating highs and trudging heavily amongst it's incapacitating lows, I might as well share whatever may be gleaned from my little bits of wisdom and my many missteps. No room for judgment from this broken mama. I'm writing from my heart: raw, open, messy, but saved. And I'm still thanking God!