Thursday, August 31, 2017

My Frugal 5 – Camping with the Grandchildren Edition

My husband and I took our grandkids camping for a weekend. They are 3 yrs. and 5 yrs. which means we were very busy.
1. We picked a State Park at $27 per night. We did a bunch of the free stuff around the State Park during our weekend. They have a playground, beach, hiking trails, fossil hunting, a nature center, a wildlife rescue habitat, along with other activities. We did the planned family movie on Saturday night. Everything is free to park visitors.

2. I collected a few fun/crafty activities for the grandkids to do that I had in my stash of supplies. They enjoyed doing activities at the picnic table in the evening after dinner. I had bubbles and sidewalk chalk packed to use and beach toys too. We watched cartoon movies in the evening before bedtime. I didn’t have to spend any money on any of these items, because I already own them.

3. I picked up a few clearance snacks that they will enjoy like Teddy Grahams and a trail mix. They'll have fun making a Jell-O Creations Dessert Kit S'Mores Cups on Saturday afternoon after lunch.  I have cocoa and the makings for S’mores over the campfire too.

4. We’ll keep the meals simple, cheap, and kid friendly. I’ll prepare a few things at home to take with us with food we already have like muffins for breakfast. I’ll make a fruit salad and 2 meals worth of macaroni and cheese. I could cook all the food while camping but preparing a few things will save us time. An example dinner will be grilled chicken breast, macaroni and cheese, and fruit salad.  I’ll keep the food budget low by using as much as I can from home.

5.The State Park that we stayed in had an Anniversary celebration at their resort. We enjoyed free activities, swimming, and food.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

August 2017 Reading List

8 Weddings and a Miracle Romance Collection
Move a Mountain by Lena Dooley
Wall of Stone by Nancy J. Farrier
Blown Away by Love by Paula Griffin
Wrong Church, Wrong Wedding
Stormy Weather by Tracie Peterson
The Bouquet by Gail Sattler
Flowers by Felicity by Janet Lee Barton
Petals of Promise by Diann Hunt
Roses in Bloom by Sandra Petit
Flowers for a Friend by Gail Sattler

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Hershey’s "PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE" Chocolate Cake

2 cups sugar

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup Cocoa

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup boiling water


1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans. 

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with "PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE" CHOCOLATE FROSTING. Makes 12 servings.

  • ONE-PAN CAKE: Grease and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Heat oven to 350° F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely. Frost.
  • THREE LAYER CAKE: Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost.
  • BUNDT CAKE: Grease and flour 12-cup fluted tube pan. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Frost.
  • CUPCAKES: Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups. Heat oven to 350°F. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. Frost. About 30 cupcakes.


1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine

2/3 cup Cocoa

3 cups powdered sugar

1/3 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Clutter Busting Challenge August 2017

I'm purging 22 items. I've noticed that I'm purging about 30 items each month things this year. It may not seems like a lot but after being on this journey for 6 yrs. 8 months I'm thankful that I've maintained the habit of discarded unneeded items. I know that I will never have to deal with such a monster task of discarding so much again. At the height of my decluttering I was donating over 2,000 items per month for a couple years. I no longer need to go searching for thing to discard. I run across stuff randomly and add them to a bag to donate. At one time I'd spend an hour a day collecting things to discard. I don't spend anytime at all on it now. I'm happy that I never have to deal with a backlog of stuff. My home is always clutterfree.

My purge pile:

Thursday, August 17, 2017

My Frugal 5 – Food Edition

1. On Sunday I made Crockpot Zucchini Soup for this week’s lunches with a huge zucchini I bought for $1 at a roadside stand.  I had enough zucchini leftover that I decide to add it to my stuffing recipe for dinner too.

2.  I was craving chocolate instead of going to the store I baked a homemade Chocolate Cake. I hadn’t made a homemade cake since April for my oldest daughter birthday. I’ve been making boxed cake mixes but didn’t have any.  I saved money using what I have instead of running to the store.

3. I didn’t take care of my garden very well this summer due to going on a 3 week 25th anniversary trip. The weeds overtook my garden and a groundhog ate most of my plants. I’m thankful I got 2 cucumbers and 8 tomatoes. Free food!


4.  I love iced coffee in the summer. I brew my own coffee at home using a traditional coffee maker. I don’t usually use or buy creamer. My husband brought home a little creamer tub from work. I added about 1/3 of the creamer to a glass of ice with cold coffee. I’m having an iced coffee 3 days this week for no extra cost. It tastes so light and refreshing compared to the syrupy mess bought at coffee shops. 

5.  I bought 3 loaves of bread at Aldi on sale for 35 cents each. I used up 1 1/2 loaves by making an egg bake and Panini’s. But then our youngest son told my husband we were out of bread and he ended up buying 3 more. Our son hadn’t realized we had bought any and my husband forgot. So now we have 4 ½ loaves of bread to use up. I might be eating peanut butter and jelly for breakfast for awhile. I’ll probably make French toast this week for dinner and anything else I can think up.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

No Bake Chocolate Cookies

2 ½ cups white sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup milk
3 cups quick cooking oats
½ cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a saucepan bring sugar, cocoa, margarine, milk, and salt to a rapid boil for 1 minute. Add quick cooking oats, peanut butter, and vanilla; mix well. Working quickly, drop by teaspoonfuls onto waxed paper, and let cool.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Southern-Style Green Beans

4 slices bacon, diced
2 pounds green beans, ends snapped off and longer beans snapped in half
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon butter, optional

Brown and crisp bacon in a large pot. Remove bacon from pot and reserve. Add green beans to pot along with all remaining ingredients, except butter. Bring to a boil and then turn heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally. Drain beans and add butter if using. Check beans for seasoning and add extra salt and pepper to taste. I like lots of black pepper. Sprinkle with bacon and toss to distribute the bacon and butter.