Saturday, August 21, 2010

Real Food!

Joanna isn't too sure about her banana! We've just started eating real food, and although she always wants to try our food, she isn't too fond of hers!
I'm taking a little different route with her food than I did with Benjamin. I waited a big longer - until she was six months - and I'm trying to stay away from store baby food, especially the baby cereals. I never liked how fake the cereal seemed, and with the help of a couple of cookbooks, I have the info I need to make her easily-digestible cereal myself (which will be cheaper, anyway).
Like Benjamin, though, I will be trying to have her feed herself as soon as possible. I'm feeding her from a spoon for now, until she gets used to eating real food and has better control over her fingers, but for some reason I've never really enjoyed this stage. I loved it when Benjamin could eat food himself (and he was happier and ate better as well). Benjamin was mostly self-feeding somewhere between 9 and 12 months, and I'm hoping for the same (if not earlier) with Joanna.

Peekaboo Bag

I recently made this tote bag as a gift - and I love how it turned out! I almost hated to give it away - I think one of these will have to come into my possession soon!

This is the "Pleated Beauty Handbag" from Bend the Rules Sewing.

A freezer!

For the past four years we have been well served by an over-the-fridge freezer. I've found that I can fit quite a bit of stuff in one of those freezers! However, over the past six months or so I have been using it more than ever. Between making more of my own foods - big batches of English Muffins, jam, chicken broth, refried beans, etc. - and also being able to find things like milk and eggs at discounted prices, which I then freeze to use later, this little freezer is almost constantly stuffed.
As berry season came around, I realized that I would have very little room to freeze berries. Not having blueberries for the winter would be a big disappointment to us. Living in a small apartment, though, doesn't leave much room for having an additional freezer. Not too long ago, however, I happened to see a compact freezer at the store, not much bigger than my little washing machine. I didn't know they made freezers that small. That would be perfect for us!
We were able to get a small, 5 cubit foot freezer, which fits nicely behind our table and perfectly suits our needs! Already it has helped me save some money as I have been able to take advantage of some great deals that I otherwise would not have been able to.
Freezing is the easiest (and thus my favorite) way to preserve food. I am so thankful to have this extra freezer that will not only help me continue to save money by buying food at the best possible prices, but will allow me to continue to make big batches of food to save me time later!

A freezer is not only good for storing food, but it's fun for magnets, too, and we also discovered that you can color on it with crayons, as the crayon just wipes right off (although I'm not encouraging the latter use; we just happened to discover that!) =)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Fun Finds!

A few weeks ago, when browsing an antique store, I found a couple fun little things! I thought this 1950s nut chopper was so cute! I hadn't ever seen one of these, and it was in excellent condition. I don't chop nuts too often, but I found that it will also work for other things, like chopping up chocolate chips for low-fat cookies!

I also picked up a more practical item - clothespins! I'm always running out of clothespins, so I was planning on getting more, and thought these had so much more character than ones I would have picked up at the dollar store. Look how big the springs are compared to the ones I already had (the one in the back)!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Value in Making it Yourself

Over the past couple of years, I have gradually been making more the things we use, instead of buying them. That includes food, body products, cleaning supplies, as well as things I can sew! Is it cheaper? Faster? Often, but not always. It's often cheaper, but sometimes I could find a similar item for a cheaper price. Sometimes it's easier and quicker for me to make something myself rather than dragging the kids to the store to buy the item, but usually I would buy it on one of my regular shopping trips, so that's not really an issue.
So why do I do it?
Well, for several reasons.
1. It's healthier. I use all real ingredients. No artificial ingredients, no chemicals, no preservatives. Just quality good-for-you stuff.
2. I get better quality for the price. Take bread, for example. I can find bread at the bakery outlet for a little over a dollar. It costs me about the same amount to make bread. But the homemade loaf is much healthier. If I were to buy a loaf of healthy all-natural bread at the natural foods store, I would probably pay around 3 (maybe more!) times as much. So the homemade bread really is a bargain for what I get.
3. It tastes better. Food that's homemade is fresher and that just tastes better.
4. It's an adventure. It's cool to find new recipes or patterns, especially for those things that you would never have thought of making yourself - and especially cool to have them turn out well! Then there's the experimenting and tweaking those things to make them just as you like them!
5. It's fun. I take a lot of pleasure in doing things myself and I get a great sense of accomplishment out of it.

The more I make things myself, the more it makes me want to try even more! I'm currently trying to not buy very many processed foods, so some of the things I (at least sometimes) make myself:

Baked Goods (Bread, muffins, cookies, pizza crust)
English Muffins
Granola Bars
Ice Cream
Refried Beans
Pizza Sauce
Pasta Sauce
French Dressing
Multi-Purpose Cleaning solution

Some things I'll be trying soon:
Ceasar Dressing
Ranch Dressing
Oil Face Cleanse
Laundry detergent
Dish soap

It really is fun and is often not as difficult as it might sound! I would encourage anyone to try to make more yourself!