Family Life, Frugal Living, Recipes

Cherry Crisp

food red sweet raw
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

On Sunday night I used the last of our Door County cherries to make a cherry crisp.  The rest of the world may not know this, but Door County Wisconsin produces that best cherries around.  I look forward to them every year.  Honestly, nothing tastes better than  warmed Door County cherries over a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  I am very lucky that my family lives very close to Door County and that a trip up there every summer is not an obstacle.  In fact, my dad spent his summers picking those cherries, as that side of my family has very strong roots in that area of the state.  Here is my recipe for cherry crisp.

 

Cherry Crisp

Filling

4 cups of pitted cherries

1 cup of sugar

1/4 cup corn starch

Topping

1-1/2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

5 tablespoons butter, melted

For filling, combine cherries, sugar and cornstarch in a bowl and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Pour in an 8 x 8 baking pan. Combine all topping ingredients; sprinkle over filling.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly around edges.

Serve with vanilla ice cream and enjoy!

IMG_0597

Frugal Living

Reuse Packaging

Another post from my friend at Green Suburban Living.

Reuse Packaging

We all order from Amazon.  I like to think that I’m helping save on gas emissions by shopping from home and seeing what my choices are, instead of driving all over town to find just what I need. And there’s the birthday-like feel of having a package arrive at your door, just waiting to be opened…

But I have seen a few posts lately talking about not popping the air packets inside your packages, because of the Coronavirus. The theory goes, these air packets are filled with air from China, which is shipped over to us, and could be infected with unknown pathogens.

Now, I am skeptical for one big reason.  It seems silly that the plastic sleeves would be filled with air before shipping.  That’s a lot of space to take up on a shipping container/ship/truck/train. Perhaps the sleeves themselves are made over there, but it’s more likely that they are filled at the distribution center.

But, that’s a sidebar. My post today is about reusing that packaging that comes free to you with your Amazon order.  Yes, it is satisfying to pop them, and yes, I have entertained my children by giving them bubble wrap and letting them go to town. But this is free packaging, people!!!

Couple of ideas for you:

Save one of those big Amazon boxes and throw the air pillows and bubble wrap in there whenever it arrives.  It comes in handy for birthday gifts and around Christmas time.

OR, save them up in a bag and take them to your nearest UPS Store.  YES, they take them for free! And YES, they reuse them when someone pays them to ship something.

Either of these options helps the environment by a) keeping the plastic out the landfill after just one use, and b) if everyone started doing this, UPS would have to order a lot less of the new packaging, which is an even better goal. Less need = less production.

So, take a look at the packaging you get next time, and take an extra minute to reuse it or bring it to someone who will!

Smile more,

Laureanna

Frugal Living, Household

Frugal Dog Care?

IMG_0498

I have become one of those people that we have all made fun of, myself included.  I am a full fledged, proud, weird dog owner.  I am that person who talks to my dogs in really weird dog voices.  They all have really stupid nicknames, I take more pictures of them than my own children and I probably greet them first when I get home.  After all, they are happier to see me than any person has ever been to see me.  Who else might be so happy that they tinkle in happiness.  See, I said tinkle.  I am that weird that person.

I used to be really cheap when it came to my dogs.  See, before my children became adults, my dogs, while family were more pet than child to me.  In recent years, that has changed and I am no longer cheap with my dogs.

I no longer buy then cheapest dog food I can find, on sale.  I feel so bad that I used to change the dog’s food on a regular basis, based on the sale price, coupons and reward card points.  By luck, our late dogs did not have a constant case of gastroenteritis.  I know better now, dogs need to eat the same brand and if you change, it has to be gradual.  That’s not to say that I buy their food without considering the cost.  I buy the food, recommended by the vet, through chewy.com.  By doing this, I get the discount given by having a monthly shipment.  They also offered a really good introductory price which convinced me to commit.

The girls love their bully sticks.  I also buy those through chewy.com, on discount.   I buy those now instead of rawhide.  Rawhide is another thing that was a regular in this house years ago.  It’s cheap and I had no idea how bad it is for dogs.  I know better now.  Those bully sticks are really gross, aren’t they.  But, the dogs love them and when our oldest, Luna, resists coming in, a bully stick does the trick.

We live in the midwest which means that mosquitos and ticks are part of our summer fun!  Proper immunizations and preventative medicines are a must.  When I was a kid, we had a dog that got heart worms.  I have no idea what the treatment for that cost my parents, but I am so glad that I have the means to prevent that for my girls with a monthly pill.  They are also given a preventative for ticks.  The price for these pills is steep, but I believe that it is worth it if they prevent lyme disease.  I can’t believe the number of people I know who have had lyme disease, it is so unfortunate that humans are not able to take the same kind of preventative that dogs can take.  We have done all immunizations, with the exception of bordetella.  The dogs do not go to doggy daycare, until that happens, I am going put that one off.

We also keep up with annual vet visits, spay them and take them when they need care.  Because of their love of non food items, I did purchase pet insurance for unexpected visits, like needing socks removed from tummies.  We also have a Care Credit card which allows for a year of no interest in the event of the unexpected.

I am not as good as I should be in a lot of areas though.  We have a toothbrush for the dog that has never been opened.  I accepted a box of dental chews that I keep forgetting to give them, so unless I improve that, dental work is likely in their futures.  I also forget to have their nails trimmed until they are ice skating on the hardwood floors with their way too long nails.  I have a friend who works at a vet who has been known to help me get an emergency visit on a Saturday for a trim.  You know who you are!  Thank you.  Also, I have golden retrievers, they need to be groomed and brushed more.  When the weather improves, I will set up the kiddie pool and they will get a well deserved bath.  Not to mention a day in the yard playing ball with their nerf gun.

My girls are so important to us.  They complete our family and I know that they will be a great source of comfort in a few short months when our nest is empty.  Here is a picture of our girls

IMG_0574 (1)

It is really hard to take a good picture of dogs! Also, ignore that weird spot on the wood floor that needs refinishing!

 

Family Life

Meal Plan February 23 – February 29

Here is our meal plan for this week.  Since I started posting our meal plan every week, we always know what to make.  I have everything on hand because I base my shopping list on the meal plan that I establish on this site.  I am also able to save money because I know exactly what we need and stick to my list.

Sunday February 23 – chicken noodle soup, salad, dinner rolls

Monday February 24 – chicken noodle soup and rolls (leftovers)

Tuesday February 25 – bean enchiladas

Wednesday February 26 – crockpot mac and cheese (my daughter will making it)

Thursday February 27 – lasagna, salad

Friday February 28 – fish, potatoes, vegetable

Saturday February 29 – pledge drive at church

bowl of soup
Photo by jenvit keiwalinsarid on Pexels.com
Family Life

The End of an Era

Yesterday my senior daughter performed in her very last show choir competition, ever.  It’s over.  An era has come to an end.  It was an era filled with stress during tryouts, always wondering if this was the season she could be cut.  Her Mondays and Wednesdays will be hers again.  Our checking account will be a little fatter as we no longer need to pay the annual fee to the school that covers the costumes, choreography, travel and other expenses.  It’s official, 15  years of being a family that has a child in a competitive activity (my son played soccer) has come to an end.  Until yesterday at 4:30 pm when I saw her on stage, I thought I was ready for this moment, completely.  Who doesn’t want their Saturdays back?  In fairness, her schedule only took 3-5 Saturdays per year, but those years of soccer were a different story.   I can’t lie though, seeing her yesterday, knowing it was over, kind of broke me.

It isn’t the show choir aspect that broke me.  It is the fact that in a few short months, my years of being an active parent to minor children is coming to an end.  Her brother was born in 1997 and it’s now 2020, someone else can do that math on how long we have been raising children.  In so many ways I am so ready. The Saturdays, which I already spoke of will be coveted.  No longer playing musical cars because she has someplace she has to be will be so refreshing.   But, these lasts, and firsts, that we are experiencing makes our future so much clearer.  Last month she performed in her very last federation for violin.  Next month she will be performing in her last solo and ensemble.  Her last voice recital will be in June, the day after her high school graduation.  In April, after 13 years of violin lessons, she will be finishing up with the teacher who has known her since she was 3 years old.   We have a semester filled with college events, scholarship events, projects, etc.  The time is going to fly by and one week after graduation she is going to Europe for over 2 weeks to celebrate her graduation.  My baby is going to be leaving us and it’s going to be really, really hard.  I knew that it would hit me, I just wasn’t expecting it to hit me in a high school gym in the middle of nowhere Wisconsin.

She seems ready though.  On Thursday night her college hosted a meet and greet for students from our area of Wisconsin.  She loved it.  My normally shy girl was talking to the president of the university with confidence.  She asked questions, answered questions and proved she is more than capable of living 100 miles away from us on a campus she is not familiar with.  I felt nothing but pride and happiness for her that night and the feeling of sadness I felt yesterday was nowhere to be found.  I will have to remember that feeling when I look at her and feel sad.  She is going to be doing what she was raised to do, take those wings and fly away.  I know she will always come back and thankfully, I will have no problem stalking her on campus if necessary.

IMG_0587My girl performing.  I cannot take credit for this photo, a friend took it for me and I am grateful for that.

Family Life

Brunch

I don’t have a lot to say this morning, but I took some great pictures of the brunch my daughter and I shared with friends this morning.  Sometimes, pictures are just too much fun not to share.  Missing from these pictures, the dill pickle bloody mary that Hannah and her friend shared.  Happy Saturday friends, it’s going to be a great weekend.

Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

Lots of frugal finds this week that had me saving dollars.

  1. Penzey’s Spices had a deal that you got free hot cocoa with a $5 purchase.  We needed a few things, so I took advantage of the deal.  Plus, Bill Penzey hates Trump as much as I do.  So, I am more than happy to spend my hard earned money at his store.                                                                                                                                               IMG_0551
  2. We actually took advantage of grand opening deals and prizes at a local, newly opened, gas station.  Free pizza and donuts were our prizes.  Sure, not a lot, but the pizza made for a nice lunch on Saturday.
    sliced pepperoni pizza on white ceramic plate
    Photo by Sydney Troxell on Pexels.com
  3. My daughter bought new tires in November.  She recently ran over something metal that required a new tire.  The manager at Tires Plus was amazing.  Instead of charging her $125 for a new tire, he offered her the road damage warranty for tires she bought in November, retroactively, for $75 instead.  He did not have to do that, but it was smart business.  We are going to give Tires Plus as much business as we can in the future.
  4. In March we will be spending the night at a hotel out of town. We needed 3 rooms for all of us. I prepaid them saving $60.
  5. I recently remembered that I have an Aveda Pure Privilege card.  I don’t buy a lot of Aveda because of the packaging, but I figured it was worth my while to check out how many points I have.  I had enough points to redeem for my favorite, way too expensive tea. Score!                                                                                                                    IMG_0553

What other great ideas are out there to save money?

Eco Living, Family Life

Eco Dental Health

My post today was originally posted on greensuburbanliving.com.   Bookmark this site, Laureanna gives great ideas to make the world a cleaner place.

 

Not-Forever Toothbrushes

In celebration of dental health month, I thought I’d throw out a couple of ideas for how to reduce your plastic load when taking care of your teeth.  How else are you going to be able to smile brightly about all the positive changes you’re making?

A Facebook ad popped up recently with this jarring thought: All the toothbrushes you’ve EVER used are still here on Earth.  Let’s say three toothbrushes a year, times your age… And then times over 300 million of us probably doing about the same thing just in the USA. Most of us don’t give a second thought to the free toothbrush we get at the dentist’s office, or even another second thought when we toss out our old, somewhat mangled one into the garbage. We certainly don’t think that it will be on Earth FOREVER.

And beyond the toothbrush material, there’s the packaging to consider.  Usually, there’s additional plastic found here too.

In this age of information and innovation, we’re able to make choices that are better for the long term of our planet. Try to avoid all plastic toothbrushes – they’re made from crude oil, and will be around for millions of years, someday breaking down into microplastics that everyone will ingest. Better choices include recycled toothbrushes or ones made from bamboo. This cuts down on our plastic load, and in the case of bamboo, relies on a renewable resource.

My purpose is to educate rather than sell products, so I’ll let you do the research on what might work best for you.  Googling “best toothbrush for the environment” gives a trove of leads. Many also offer recyclable packaging! If you try one, or if you have one that works for you, please leave a comment for others. 🙂 At our house, we love the bamboo ones – especially for backpacking, because they’re so lightweight.

Finally, what about the free toothbrush that you get twice a year from the dentist? Remember, you can always say “No, but thank you” and talk about your efforts if they ask. Or, donate it! Homeless and women’s shelters are often looking for basic toiletries items to share with their clients.

Good luck!

Smile more (brightly),

Laureanna

 

Eco Living, Family Life, Frugal Living

Eco Friendly Party Ideas

balloons calm clouds colorful
Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom on Pexels.com

I know that it is only February, but graduation parties are only a few months away.  I myself will be having a graduation party for my youngest.  As good parents, we want to give our children the best of everything, right?  Even fun, brightly decorated parties.  They worked hard, they deserve it.  Before I go further this rant, I will be the first to admit that with my older children, I had parties and pulled out the stops.  I decorated with balloons, plastic confetti, plastic utensils, paper plates.  The works!  I wanted to enjoy their party, celebrate their accomplishments and make my life easier.  But, in the last couple years, I have become so much more aware of the environmental impact of these disposable items. Parties can be fun without the plastic waste.  Here are some ideas:

  1. Skip the balloons.  They are fun, colorful, beautiful and loved by many.  I love balloons.  I always have.  Sitting on the end of a buffet, they can make the party seem so much better.   But, they are terrible for the environment.  They do not decompose, animals eat them and they get stuck in everything from trees to utility lines.  Instead of balloons, how about a bouquet of flowers at the end of that buffet instead. My daughter’s school colors are red and white, so that leaves us with a lot of options.  Stick with local flowers and that is even better.
    person wearing red sweater and black pants holding bouquet of pink flowers
    Photo by Secret Garden on Pexels.com

     

  2. Use the paper plates!  The water waste to clean a sink full of regular plates is likely just as detrimental as the paper plates.  But, spend the extra dollars and purchase environmentally friendly plates that are compostable.  A quick google search will give you endless options.
  3. The precut and arranged fruit and vegetable plates from your local grocery store are so tempting.  But, they are sold in huge containers of plastic that will no doubt end up in a landfill.  Instead, create your plates with serving dishes you have at home and cut your own produce.
  4. Choose alternatives to single use plastic water bottles.  Fill a 3 gallon water dispenser with water (you can add citrus to make it pretty) and have paper cups available.  Or, but cans of water.  The aluminum is still better than plastic.

    sliced lemon fruit in glass picher
    Photo by Julia Zolotova on Pexels.com
  5. Instead of purchasing confetti to decorate, use a hole punch and create your own out of leaves that you find on the ground or construction paper.  This another free option and 100% eco friendly.

    assorted colors paper cutouts closeup photo
    Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com
  6. Use your everyday utensils instead of plastic utensils.  It will take extra time to clean them, but think about how much more eco friendly that choice will be.  Also, you already own a drawer full of utensils, so you will also save money.
    blur breakfast close up cutlery
    Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

    These are just a few of the ideas I have as I already start planning my daughter’s graduation party this summer.  What other ideas are floating around out there to make graduation party season both fun and eco friendly?

Frugal Living, Recipes

Mushroom Stroganoff

Last night I made my favorite comfort food, mushroom stroganoff.  We eat very little beef, so I need to adapt my recipes that call for beef and make them vegetarian. My stroganoff is very simple to make. During the winter months, the dish is a regular in our meal rotation.

IMG_0571

Mushroom Stroganoff

12 oz pasta or egg noodles

1 tbsp butter

2 8oz containers mushrooms (I use button mushrooms)

1 chopped onion

1 tsp garlic powder

2 cups vegetable stock

3/4 cup sour cream

3 tbsp flour

1 1/2 tsp dried parsley

salt and pepper to taste

Make pasta according to direction. While pasta is cooking, melt butter and saute onions for 3-4 minutes.  Add mushrooms and saute until soft.  Add garlic powder, cook for additional minute.  Add vegetable stock and flour and whisk until the stock is thick.  Add sour cream and parsley.  Simmer for 5-7 minutes.  Add salt and pepper, serve over pasta.