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Monday, May 31, 2010

$1,200 Challenge

I originally started this challenge as one for myself. I thought it would be interesting to see if we could live off $1,200 for a month.

I've heard from several people who also want to take this challenge along with me, so will be setting up a post each week where the readers who choose to take this challenge alongside me will be able to chime in with their progress.

Others have said that $1,200 isn't a reasonable goal at all because for them their mortgage/rent costs that much alone. True. The $1,200 goal was for my family. I looked at our budget and figured out that I could probably get down to about $1,400 a month pretty comfortably. Then I lowered the goal $200 less because I don't want this challenge to be a breeze. I want to have to have to think about it and work at it. I figured that our "set bills" will total about $850 for the month of June, which means that I have $350 or so to play around with (for food and necessities). It will be a challenge but it may be do-able. If you want to join this challenge but the $1,200 figure is laughable then come up with your own goal. Figure out what your set expenses will be for the month and then add $300-$500 on top of that and set that as your goal. $1,200 is not the magic number, just a number that I came up with that was the lowest I thought our family could go.

I'm doing this because I want to see how low we can go. I'm doing this because there are families out there that have no choice in "how low they can go" but are rather trying to make ends meet on $1,000 or less, whether it is due to unemployment, illness, or other factors. I want to walk a mile in their shoes for a month. So whether you are joining the challenge yourself (if you are, please introduce yourself in the comments!) or just want to watch and see if we succeed, follow me on the journey this month!

Chrissy from Traveling Light was so kind and made me a button for this challenge. If you have decided to take the challenge as well, feel free to grab the button on the right and post on your blog. Even if you decided on a different amount (say, $2,000 or $3,000) you are still part of the "$1,200 Budget Challenge"! We are in this thing together!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Can a Family of 5 Survive on $1,200 a Month?

In a bad economy such as this many people are being laid off from work or their hours are being cut. Some families are losing their homes and others can't make ends meet. Cutting their expenses to the bare minimum is a necessity. Some families don't even know where to start.

Yesterday I got the bright idea to cut our expenses to see if we could survive on a smaller income. I think of myself as frugal, but how frugal can I be? For the month of June, my husband and I have decided to see if we can live off of $1,200. That includes all bills such as phone, electric, gas, mortgage; as well as food and other expenses. All extra will be put into savings. We are not stocking up on anything beforehand.

Can it be done? My husband doesn't think so, I think it is possible. As a matter of fact, the first few years that we were married we were living off around $1,100 a month. So of course it is possible. The question is, can we stick to it? Come follow us for the journey this month and find out. I will be keeping track of what we spend and also give helpful little hints on how we do it. I promise to be honest if we fail, as well. The goal is to have spent $1,200 or less from June 1st-June 30th for our family of five, three dogs, and two cats.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

New Seventh Generation Winner

Due to the first winner not getting back to me in time, I put all the original entries back into the pot and had Jacob draw a new name. The winner of the Seventh Generation Natural Baby kit is commenter #3, Elizabeth, who said:
"Ooh what a fun giveaway. I have not used anything by them but have always wanted to give them a try. Maybe now is my chance!"
Please contact me at babys_mama1 "at" yahoo.com by Wednesday, June 2nd to claim your prize. Thank you!

Menu and Grocery Trip Update

Getting back into the routine of updating on Saturday with my menu and shopping list. Remember, my goal is to feed my family of five for $75 weekly.
The menu this week is:
Turkey Ham
Sauerkraut Sandwiches and fries
Broccoli Alfredo
Homemade Pizza
These are all served with other sides, of course, usually something that I decide at the last minute. Lunch is typically sandwiches, cheese and crackers, soup, or leftovers. Breakfast is either oatmeal, eggs, toast, or cereal.
My shopping list for the week:
1% gallon milk $2.79
hot dog buns 99 cents
hamburger buns $1.59
O-I Texas Crisps $2.69 (have no idea what came up labeled this way)
Broccoli florets $1.69
8 ox. shredded taco cheese $2
5 yogurts @ 60 cents each
2 boxes mac&cheese Explosion 88 cents each (had 2 free coupons)
8 oz. mozzarella cheese $2
Turkey ham $4.71
dozen eggs $1.09
2 lbs. ground beef $3.25 and $3.48
deli ham $2.68
deli bologna $2.79
1.65 lb. bananas 97 cents
1.02 lb. peaches $3.05 (I didn't realize they would cost that much as I only bought three smaller peaches, which means they were $1 each)
Paper towels $1.99
Gummi worms $1.50 (kids needed a treat)
Asian noodles $1.29
2 packages corn tortillas for the tacos 69 cents each
hand soap 99 cents
Special K bars $2
Jello cheesecake $2.29
Alfredo sauce $1.99
Can of baked beans $1.48
Can soup $1.89
sauerkraut 99 cents
head of lettuce $1.29
5 kiwis $2
sweet onions, 1.30 lb $1.29
Miracle whip $1.88
Package roma tomatoes $2.99
3 lb. Washington apples $3.29
2 ltr. root beer .79 cents

Grand total for the week: $72.29
How did you do this week?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Frugal Friday: Pets on the Cheap

Pets are not a frugal purchase as they take both time and money. But if the joy of pet ownership outweighs the costs for you then owning a pet on the cheap is still possible. We love our pets dearly and feel that the cost of them is worth it to have them a member of our family. Except for our bulldog, which has skin issues and requires medical care for that and special food, we have been able to have pets for very little cost.

Acquiring pets. I do not recommend breeders for a pet. Yes, we got our bulldog from a breeder because after searching shelters for years we were unable to find a bulldog or even bulldog mix. But I probably wouldn't do it again. I am all for Humane Societies or shelters when choosing a pet. Not only is the price decent (on average, around $100) but they come with medical care - shots and spaying/neutering is already done. The shelter staff screens their animals so can tell you which animals would be a good fit for your family. There are purebreds at shelters (which is where we got our Pomeranian). But don't pass by the mutts as they are just as good pets and are often healthier than a purebred as they don't have as many genetic issues. The shelters are full of cats and kittens as well just waiting for a loving home.

Feeding pets. Besides our bulldog (who needs grain/corn free food) we are able to feed our pets fairly cheaply. We try to steer clear of products with any grain listed as the first ingredient as those are cheap fillers which are not good for the animals. Try to buy food with chicken,lamb, or fish as the first ingredient listed. While you will pay more in the beginning (around $20 for a 20lb. bag) the animals really do eat less of the food so it ends up being about the same in the end. Better food means better health so less vet bills. Our female cat can not eat cheap cat food or else she gets urinary tract infections and we have been to the vet too many times for that so I make sure to stick with a better brand of food for her. The better food also means less frequent waste as the animals are better able to digest the better foods, which means you are saving time cleaning the litter box or picking up outside. Sign up for PetPerks card at Petsmart to save money, be on the lookout for coupons, and check out other stores such as farm supply stores or feed stores to find better prices on animal foods.

Vet Care. Medical care can get expensive but there are ways around it. I buy the flea medicine online which saves money (Joe's Pet Meds is one of the cheapest I have found). We go to a vet who doesn't push products or shots at us and we try to keep our animals as natural as possible. I feel that many of the shots are unnecessary, or at the very least, not needed to be done yearly. We do the basics and make sure to keep them updated on their rabies (as required by law). Of course, as a pet owner you must be prepared for the bigger emergencies that may happen with a pet. Our cat, when we lived at the farm house, got her back leg stuck in a trap and drug herself home in the middle of a cold snap. It took us three days to find her, and by then her hind leg was frozen. She needed it to be amputated, which cost us close to $200 after several setbacks. It was worth it and she is going strong at eight years old and moves around quite nicely with just three legs. If you decide to own a pet you better be prepared to take care of that pet.

I have no advice about pet sitters as we have only gone on vacation once and had my family stop in to care for the animals while we were gone. If you vacation quite regularly you need to be prepared to board your animals while you are gone or have a pet sitter. Some hotels allow pets in the room with you but I can't imagine that traveling with a pet would be very relaxing, and those who you are visiting may not appreciate having an animal visit along with you.

Do you have any pets? How do you care for their needs and save money at the same time?.

Drawing Winner - OLGA

Since no contact info was given by Olga for the Seventh Generation Natural Baby kit I am unable to contact you and so far have not heard a thing. Please contact me by tomorrow afternoon (Saturday, the 29th) or you forfeit your prize and the remaining entries will be entered back into a drawing. Thank you!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Boys Will Be Boys...

Going back to my Sunday post I received several comments about whether you let your children play with toy guns or not.

For us, it wasn't even a question of not letting them play with guns. My husband hunts (although, hasn't for several years) and I grew up playing with the typical toy guns and swords. It didn't make me violent or want to play with a real gun. I didn't grow up in a household that had real guns, either.

We do have guns in the house now. They are kept locked away from the children and the ammo is stored in a completely different area of the house. The kids have seen the guns, have been with their dad when he has gone target practicing, and know that guns are not toys and are not to be played with or handled. At some point the kids will be allowed to handle the guns but at this early age they are already learning gun safety.

I get the point of parents who don't allow toy guns, toy soldiers, or any toy weapon in the household but for me I don't see the correlation between playing with a toy and becoming violent or shooting someone with a real gun. If the toys are banned, children typically make something into a weapon anyway, such as Jacob who constantly is finding "weapons" in the yard:

As for real guns, I am all for everyone to have the right to bare arms (except criminals, of course). While there are many irresponsible gun owners (seriously, guns need to be treated as a tool and kept out of reach of children), guns themselves are not the problem. If someone is wanting to harm someone else, they are going to find a way to do it with or without a gun. It's sad but it's true.

Now, I do have issues with violent video games, but that's another topic entirely!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wholesome Wednesday: Natural Birthing

Joseph, a week old, May 2008

Birth is a natural process, not a medical emergency. It is all too common for it to be "treated" instead of letting our bodies go with the flow.

Labor is rushed if the due date is just a few days past due, interventions are done during labor that can stall it or put the baby into distress, c-sections are done all too often. Many times, these are all unnecessary. Don't get me wrong, there is a time and a place for an induction, epidurals, or c-sections. A perfect birth doesn't always mean natural...a perfect birth is when the outcome is a healthy baby and mother.

But it is true that the more intervention, the greater risk of problems arising. Let's start with inductions. The doctors give us a due date of 40 weeks, and often within a few days of the due date (whether before or after) doctors are often discussing inductions. The fact is that a normal pregnancy can last anywhere from 38 weeks to 42 weeks. Being induced means stronger and more painful contractions, which means you may be more likely to need pain killers/epidural. Seeing as how your body wasn't ready for labor (and the majority of women do eventually go into labor naturally, it is a rare instance where a women won't go into labor before 42 weeks) things aren't exactly ripe and ready and your body is forced into something it wasn't ready for. Which is why inductions often start the road to problems.

Epidurals and other drugs can cause your labor to stall, either making a longer labor or causing you to not progress at all and needing a c-section. It can also cause the baby to be in distress, which requires immediate action. Not only that but they all have possible side effects to both you and the baby.

This isn't a "how to have a perfect birth" post. You can plan every single detail and nothing could go as planned. A mother choosing to get an epidural, drugs, or needing a c-section is not a failure.

For me, choosing to have a natural birth was not just to avoid a c-section. I wanted to see if I could do it. I wanted to feel what it was like to give birth naturally, like women for centuries have been doing. I wanted to follow my body's lead and just do it. I plan to write my birth stories out later on so won't bore you with the details twice but will mention that with my first I finally relented to getting Demoral, which did nothing for the pain but made me drowsy which in turn made me fall asleep and wake up with each contraction. I was so out of it that I couldn't get on top of the pain. I got stuck at 8cm for a few hours and it was pure torture. I only found out later that the doctor was thinking of a c-section since I wasn't progressing.

The next two were done with a midwife in a hospital and were totally natural. It is amazing to feel the power of your body working with your mind while in labor and while it is intense it is liberating. The natural high after giving birth is amazing as well and lasts for hours, if not days afterwards. As a women, or as a person, I have never felt as strong as I do after giving birth. It's amazing! Giving birth just comes naturally!

What birthing choices did you make? Looking back, would you do it again the same or do something differently?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


take time
to smell

the flowers.

Giveaway Winner

The giveaway winner of the Seventh Generation products is Olga! Please e-mail me at babys_mama1@yahoo.com to claim your prize!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Not Me! Monday

Yesterday we had temperatures in the low 90's. With high humidity to boot. Our grass needed mowing. Hubby said that it was too hot to mow. I did not tell him to mow without his shirt, hoping to watch my shirtless hubby mowing for awhile. Nope, I totally wouldn't say that. I wasn't more than a bit disappointed when he decided to mow, but not shirtless. I was a bit giddy though when he decided to wear a muscle t-shirt while mowing. Hey, a girl has got to get her kicks every chance she can! :)

I was not totally relieved when hubby decided to put the air conditioner in downstairs and upstairs in the kid's room. I did not tell hubby that it was supposed to cool off last night so that we could probably get by with a fan in our window and could put our air conditioner in some other time; only to realize by midnight that it wasn't cooling down and that I felt like I was in a tropical rain forest. I did not jerk my window open as high as it could go and get the pedestal fan and aim it directly at me at midnight in hopes to cool off. It wasn't 2am when I finally feel asleep. I won't be me asking hubby the minute he gets home from work to please put the air conditioner in our bedroom! And I so don't wish that we had central air so that we don't have to go through the putting the air conditioners in/taking them out routine every year. Nope, not me!

I was not a bit confused with the ending on LOST last night. I get most of it really, but so many questions were left unanswered and I feel they rushed the death of Locke/Smoke Monster and still don't get why Jack had a son in the parallel universe (aka purgatory) and the son was even shown this episode but then later Locke tells Jack that he doesn't have a son?! Wasn't confused by that a bit...

On a side note, the giveaway ends this evening! Be sure to sign up and winner will be announced later today!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Saturday Snapshot

I guess Jacob is recruiting Weezy to be a part of his infantry. She puts up with so much!
On a side note, here is a mommy survey question: Do you allow your children to play with toy guns? Why or why not?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Frugal Friday: Garage Sales

I've written before about how to host your own garage sale to clear clutter and make a little money. Garage sale season is now upon us and there are tips that make your garage sailing more fulfilling.

1. Buy a paper or check the library paper for that week's listings. Luckily, we get a free paper in the mail each week which shows the garage sale listings. Some people choose not to advertise their sales and instead just put signs up around town, but the serious garage sale hosts will list the sales in the paper. This will help you plan.

2. Take note of the start times. The majority of good stuff is gone within an hour of opening time. That is not to say that you can't find good items later in the day, but the best deals are snatched up quickly (you know, like the $5 Coach purses). Try to get to the sale around opening time.

3. Do watch for signs around town while running errands. While it is best to plan by what is advertised in the paper, the unadvertised sales may hold some good treasures as they may not have as heavy traffic as the advertised sales. Some of my better deals have been at sales that I found just by following signs. Last year I bought three bags of boy's baby clothes for Joe at one of those sales.

4. Make a list of what you want/need and try to stick to it. I know, easier said than done and I am still trying to learn this rule. It is difficult to pass up things that are priced cheaply but in the end you aren't getting a good deal if you are buying stuff that you just don't need. Really, how many jeans does a six year old need or how many vases can you use? Pass it up if you don't need it.

5. Don't just think of your household wants/needs, but also gifts. Many sales have brand new items at them that would be perfect to stash in your gift closet. Brand new stationery, new books, new lotion or fragrance gift sets, new baby clothes, etc. Think outside of the box.

6. Don't hesitate to haggle about the price. If you want something, but don't want to pay their asking price, give them an offer. The worst they can say is no. Near closing time they will probably be willing to go even lower in price...I know I am always anxious to get rid of everything at our sale so that we don't have to drag it back inside so take any reasonable offer on the last day.

7. Bring snacks and drinks for the kiddos and yourself if you plan to it several sales in a day. There is no worse money waster than having to stop at a gas station to quench your thirst or satisfy your hunger and leaving there $10 lighter. Plan ahead on these things!

8. Leave kiddos at home, if at all possible. Again, easier said than done. They almost always are dragged along with me and end up picking out toys or things that we just don't need. It is also challenging and exhausting getting three kids in and out of the van at each stop. So if you have a babysitter, parent, or friend who is willing to watch them while you garage sale, take full advantage of it!

9. Check all clothing for stains or holes.

10. Have fun. Think of it as a challenge!

Happy garage sailing!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Clean Can Be Green and Baby Can Be Comfy! (Giveaway!)

I have children and pets, which means that my house gets messy and dirty. But because I have those children and pets I feel a need to keep dangerous chemicals out of the house. I don't want to wash a counter with a cleaner that my children may set their food upon or scrub a tub with something toxic where there is a chance the residue may later be floating in the bath with the kids. Washing floors with chemicals means that the pets may get chemicals on their paws or the kids get it on their feet. Clean, in this day and age, does not mean safe.

What is a mother to do?

I've written before about making your own cleaners and will write about it again, I'm sure. But as a mother I also enjoy the convenience of ready made products as well. This is where natural cleaning products can fit in. Seventh Generation is my favorite company because from a business standpoint they truly believe in making safe products for both the family and the environment. I've used their dish detergent and fabric softener sheet quite often. So imagine my surprise when upon request Seventh Generation provided me with a "Natural Baby kit" for review.

These cleaners are ones that I feel comfortable using around the family and letting the kids help me clean with as well. And they work! They get the counters, sinks, tubs, and floors clean with botanicals! The disinfecting wipes are a lifesaver in a house with boys where I can just wipe the toilet seat, rim, and around the floor.

While I could do away with paper towels completely and save the earth even more I have to pick my battles and in a busy home I often find the need for a disposable towel more than a rag. I never tried the Seventh Generation towels because they looked stiff and non-absorbent but after getting them in this kit and testing them I will stick with them as they absorb great and are recycled. If you have to have paper towels, at least pick ones that are better for the earth!

Along with cleaners, Seventh Generation makes baby diapers and wipes. While I often use cloth diapers I also use disposables at times and have had great success with Seventh Generation chlorine free diapers. Remember my post about tampons and pads and the dangers of bleached cotton in those products? The same is true with diapers and Seventh Generation diapers are chlorine free. Bleaching cotton products can create dioxin and studies have shown a direct link between dioxin exposure and cancer, environmental and reproductive disorders. Why would we want that on our baby's bottoms for the first two to three years of their life? The wipes are also chlorine free, as well as free of dyes and fragrances. And the natural baby laundry detergent is perfect for sensitive baby skin.

The great part is that Seventh Generation products are easy to be found. I've found them in our local Hy-Vee and I have bought a case of the diapers on Amazon before, where the cleaners can also be found as well. So switching to natural products does not mean that you will be running all over town looking for them; they can also be bought from the comfort of your own home. I highly recommend joining the Seventh Generation Nation on their site where you can get coupons, special offers, tips, and their newsletter.

And now for the best part! One of you will get to win the exact same "Natural Baby" kit as I received above! It includes a package of diapers, tub of wipes, wipe refill, disinfecting multi-surface, disinfecting bathroom, disinfecting wipes, baby laundry detergent, all purpose spray, natural paper towels, and a recycled Seventh Generation bag! All you need to do is leave a comment on this post about whether you have tried Seventh Generation products before and what your favorite product is. Comments will be closed and winner will be picked on Monday, the 24th of May.

And if you don't have a baby, enter the contest anyway! Use the cleaners yourself and pass the diapers onto someone you know who has a baby, or save for an upcoming baby shower. What better gift then to introduce a new mom to healthy, natural products?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

It's Cool Like That...

I've never been one of those people who shuns minivans. I think they are much more fuel-efficient than large SUVs and just more practical than a car when you have more than a couple children.

I LOVE how Toyota is marketing their Sienna van as the hip new thing. While I don't have the new Sienna SE, I do have a Sienna van and love it. Minivan mamas rock!

And you all know how much I love garage sales...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Frugal Quick Tip

Here for Not Me! Monday? Scroll to next post, please.

A quick tip I wanted to throw out is that one of the reasons I am able to keep our food budget to $75 weekly is because I sign up for all the freebies and free coupons that I can. Some weeks I am able to get $10 or more in free food by doing so.

I recently signed up for Kraft First Taste which is a way to learn about and try their new products before the general population gets the chance. Just go to their website and sign up. Check your account often (I recommend at least weekly) by signing into your account and clicking on "new offers". Just last week I was offered free Oscar Meyer turkey bacon and a personal pizza. I already received the coupon for the bacon in today's mail. We like breakfast foods in this family and love bacon. Turkey bacon is much healthier for you and here I am getting a free package (up to $4 value!). Right now the website may be swamped as the word is that most accounts are being offered six free coupons right now (yay!) so if you can't get in now try again later. You can't beat free!

Not Me! Monday

After a whole week of rain and chilly weather I did not get excited while going to the garden to see how everything had grown, only to be disappointed to see dead tomato and pepper plants. Was it the possible frost on Mother's Day that slowly killed them or the hail that we had on Tuesday? I did not replant but also leave the *almost* dead plants hoping that maybe they will make a comeback.

It wasn't me who got a pile of books at the library on Friday and spent the majority of the weekend reading. I don't ever allow myself that type of luxury. :)

I have not become frustrated with all the "stuff" that the children have and leave all over. Clothes, toys, and odds and ends are not the bane of my existence. I do not see a huge de-cluttering spree coming on.

Happy Not Me! Monday!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Frugal Friday: Test New Products, Spread the Word

Many companies know that mothers are their biggest spenders. They have multi-million dollar advertisement campaigns in order to raise awareness of their products. Everything from free or high cents off coupons in the papers to advertising on mommy blogs.

With advances in the internet many companies are campaigning more and more on the web to drum up business. There has been a big upswing on Facebook groups by companies where you can "like" their page and get a free product coupon in return. I've gotten several free products this way and learn about most of them through Hip 2 Save. It's fast and easy. Many companies, when you become a fan on their Facebook page, also let you know about special promotions and discounts. A nearby grocery store sent out a 10% off coupon for your total order (I saved $4.50 that way) and also updates me on Buy 1 Get 1 Free promotions and other sales so it is totally worth it to become a fan of these companies on Facebook.

There are websites designed specifically to create a buzz and spread good news about a new product through word of mouth. Becoming a Bzzagent for example, is a way that word-of-mouth marketing works. Depending on your interests you will be offered certain bzz campaigns. All you need to do is test the product and spread the word about them. I have done everything from testing Take5 candy bars to trying out dog food (I didn't try it, my dog did)...all for free!

Vocalpoint is a place for women to be in the know about new products. I've received so many free coupons in the mail for items and many are products that I probably never would have known about or tried without the incentive of "free" but that have quickly become my favorite. You can give your feedback on the products right on their sites. I've received coupons for Del-Monte fruit, organic cereal, and so much more.

Does having a party with friends and family and trying out the latest products sound like fun? Houseparty offers you the opportunity to do just that! I've been able to host two house parties through them...one was a clothing swap for Green Works cleaner. They sent the invitations along with goodies to pass out such as Green Works laundry detergent samples, Burt's Bess products, Brita water bottles, and coupons. The other was a Digorno Pizza party. They sent an apron, pizza cutter, necklaces/beads, games, and six coupons for a free pizza, along with several high value coupons to hand out to guests. These are all free to become involved in and I am constantly getting offers to host a party but only apply for those that interest me.

Being able to try fresh, new products for free and give my opinion to companies on their products? It's a win-win situation!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Woodland Wonder Event

Every Mother's Day my Aunt Pat puts together an event in my Grandma's woods. There have been fairy parties, a Renaissance fair, a treasure hunt, and this year it was a Woodland Wonder event.
My mom and Joe
Jacob in a fort that his cousins built

My Grandma!

Jacob and his aunt Abby playing musical "leaves"

Aunts and children playing musical "leaves"
What a lovely time the children had. After walks and games in the woods the children got to make fun little snacks which involved "baby" bananas, apples, caramel and whipped cream, gummy worms, cookies, and more. How fun!
Thanks to my brother, Dan, for the photos!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wholesome Wednesday: Cast Iron Skillets

I planned to do a whole post about all my cookware but decided instead to focus on cast iron today. I've written about my cast iron skillet before but wanted to write about the benefits of cast iron cookware.

The first benefit of cast iron is that during the cooking process a bit of iron is leeched into the food. This benefits those who are low on iron or just need that added supplement in their diet.

The second benefit is that there are no harmful coatings on this pan (such as teflon) that could chip off into your food. The seasoning process means that the pan becomes non stick with use. The more you use it, the better it becomes.

An iron skillet takes a bit more care. The suggested cleaning method is just wiping down with hot water and not using dish soap but I have to admit that I often add a teeny tiny amount of soap just to make myself feel better. I then heat it up on the stove to dry and rub with a little cooking oil. If your pan becomes rusty or begins to stick you can re-season it by scrubbing with steel wool, rub it with oil or shortening, and bake in an oven for a few hours.

A properly taken care of cast iron pan or skillet will outlast you and will be something that can be passed down to your great-grandchildren. It is a wonderful investment for the kitchen. A few years ago I paid around $13 for my skillet (a Lodge one from Walmart). I will only make my fried potatoes and sauteed green beans in that pan as it adds a unique taste that no other pan can duplicate. When a recipe calls for a skillet I always reach for the cast iron one first and only use my other skillets if the cast iron one is already in use. I also love that it can go from stove top to oven and looks nice as a serving plate as well!

Do you use cast iron cookware in your home?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Happy Birthday Boy!

The pictures that I posted of Joe on Sunday were a bit glum. Rest assured, Joe was happy on his 2nd birthday, especially while eating his cake!

The little stinker really is entering his terrible twos, and just had to stick his tongue out to prove it; along with a few crumbs of his chocolate cake!

We gave him a Radio Flyer car for his birthday but with the weather being a bit on the cloudy and windy side he has been riding it more inside than out. I'll be snapping photos of him in it when the weather cooperates!

I can't believe that my little baby is already 2 years old!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Not My Child! Monday

It wasn't MY child who left the faucet outside running (for who knows how long!), which in turn got the basement all wet. We have carpet in the basement, but luckily it comes out in pieces, so it was not us who have several pieces of carpet laying in the yard to dry out last week!

One of my children did not smear cherry yogurt all over the carpet on the stairs and the toy room last week. He, who shall remain nameless, did not make sure to grind the cherries deep in the carpet. He also did not decide to decorate his sister's stick horse and his brother's Spiderman car with the yogurt.

My child did not turn the dial on the big chest freezer to "off" at least a day before I noticed it. Everything was not thawed out by the time I noticed it and we now do not have soggy vegetables and pizza that need to be eaten.

Nope, my children would never be so destructive and bad!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Why So Glum?

Why is Joe so glum on his 2nd birthday?...

Why, just because his uncle is trying to get him to smile for some photos! Happier birthday photos later this week!


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