Baking Powder

I have always been confused about the difference between baking soda and baking powder.  I have googled it and read all the explanations and still just trust the recipe and put what it calls for.

Recently, I was making a cake and realized that I didn’t have any baking powder.  I didn’t have time to run to the store, so I decided to try making my own. (I posted about lots of other emergency recipe substitutions here.) It only calls for three ingredients:


2 Tablespoons Baking Soda

2 Tablespoons Corn Starch

4 Tablespoons Cream of Tartar

Mix together and store in an airtight container.


Remodeling…..on a budget!

photo(18) photo(15)

With five kids in the house, the bathrooms can get pretty nasty.  I feel like I clean them all the time and still feel like I am visiting the local gas station every time I walk into their bathroom.


After bleaching the floor, and changing out the base boards, I still couldn’t walk past this bathroom without feeling like I needed a bottle of disinfectant.  So I did what any SANE woman would do……..I tore out the floor!


I decided that if I tiled UP the wall, maybe, just maybe, I could get this bathroom clean once and for all!!


In preparation for tile, I pulled up the linoleum and cut out three feet of the sheet rock.  We put in the cement backer board and installed the tile.  (Since I am NOT an expert on how to tile….I will tell you that everything I learned came from You Tube.  I watched about 20 videos teaching me how to tile and I did it!)

photo(16)I stained the cabinets.  (This little job cost me less than $10 and it made a drastic difference!  I purchased the Minwax PolyStains.  You do a light sand and two coats of stain to finish the job!! THIS is the video I watched to know how to do it.)


Painted the walls, bought a new shower curtain and TADA…..New, improved, non-stinky bathroom!!!!

I talked to a contractor, and he told me he would charge me $900 in labor to do this job….plus the materials.  That sounded INSANE!!  Once I got two days into the project, I understood.  This was a LOT of work.  But in the end, I am glad I did it.  I love looking at it knowing that I did it!!!  And it saved me a lot of money.  Here is the break down of what  I spent:

$20 for a tile saw on Craigslist

$75 on tile

$12 on thin set mortar

$50 on cement backer board and screws

$15 on grout

$20 caulk, bathtub trim, and sponge

$15 on shower curtain

$30 on paint and paint supplies

$10 on stain and sandpaper for cabinets

$25 Misc. stuff (mirror clips, sheet rock knife, base boards, etc…)

I was amazed at how little the cost of supplies actually are.  The majority of the money spent on a remodel goes to labor….because it is laborious!  I am inspired to watch more videos and learn how to do simple remodeling projects for the rest of my house.  We have put many of them off because it is so expensive to hire people to do things for us.

Maybe you don’t have a smelly bathroom that needs a make over, but before you put off another project let the experts who posted over at You Tube give you a few lessons on how to do things for yourself!!


How to Freeze Broccoli

Telling my kids to eat their vegetables is like trying to baptize a cat around here.  But…there is one mighty green giant that they LOVE to eat and many times ask for more!  BROCCOLI!  The hubs can be worse than the kids when it comes to vegetables but will eat broccoli if it’s smothered in cheese.  So now that broccoli is in season, I’m finding great deals at the grocery store and taking the opportunity to stock up on one of our favorites around here.   If your trying to be frugal, I found $.0 .99 lb. is a great buy and a frugal way to stock the freezer!  Here’s how you do it!


First, you need broccoli that are FRESH and crisp. Choosing firm heads with small, tight florets will contribute immensely to the success of your final product. Don’t let broccoli sit in the refrigerator, try to find time to perserve withing hours of when you plan to cook and freeze them.  The frozen florets can be tossed directly into stir-fries, added to pastas or soups, or just steamed on their own. Once you’ve found your broccoli, go ahead and rinse them!

Broccoli 2

Next, Separate into Florets and bring a large pot of water to a boil while your preparing the broccoli. You will need it later for blanching. Split lengthwise so flowerets are no more than 1 1/2 inches across.  Remove leaves and woody portions.  Seperate the heads into convenient-size. Note: Some recommend soaking broccoli in salt water ( 1/4 cup salt/gallon of water) for 30 minutes to remove bugs. I don’t do this but it may be a step you want to do.Broccoli 3Then get the pot of boiling water ready (about 2/3 filled) and a LARGE bowl with ice and cold water.  The picture above shows my set up for the blanching process. Note: All fruits and vegetables contain enzymes and bacteria that, over time, break down the destroy nutrients and change the color, flavor, and texture of food during frozen storage. broccoli requires a brief heat treatment, called blanching, in boiling water or steam, to destroy the enzymes before freezing. Blanching times for broccoli is 3 minutes (or blanch with steam for 5 minutes) – the duration is just long enough to stop the action of the enzymes and kill the bacteria.

Begin counting the blanching time as soon as you place the broccoli in the boiling water. Cover the pot and boil at a high temperature for the required length of time. You may use the same blanching water several times (up to 5). Be sure to add more hot water from the tap from time to time to keep the water level at the required height.

Broccoli 4After vegetables are blanched, cool them quickly to prevent overcooking. Plunge the broccoli into a large quantity of ice-cold water (I keep adding more ice to it). A good rule of thumb: Cool for the same amount of time as the blanch step. For instance, if you blanch sweet broccoli for 3 minutes, then cool in ice water for at least 3 minutes.  Drain thoroughly. Repeat blanching, cooling and draining steps with all the remaining broccoli. Broccoli 5When broccoli is completely cooled and relatively dry, package into meal-sized portions in resealable bags. Portions will vary with families. I freeze roughly 2 cups per bag.  As best you can without squishing the greens, squeeze the air out of the bag and seal. Using a Sharpie, label with the date, and freeze as quickly as possible. If you have the option, freeze in a deep freeze over a refrigerator-top freezer. The faster the broccoli freezes, the smaller the ice crystals will be and the more appealing the broccoli’s texture will be when reconstituted.

How to serve: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. A large pot is key, as you will be adding a large frozen mass to the water, and you don’t want to lower the water temperature too much or you’ll end up with mushy broccoli.  Salt the water if you like and when it is at a fast boil, add the broccoli all at once. Keep the heat on high but do not cover pot as the broccoli can turn brown.  Cook for one minute (or to taste), then remove with a slotted spoon. Drain and serve. You can also steam the broccoli, if you like.

100 Household Ways To Use Vinegar

I’ve been doing some reasearch on ways to use vinegar and I was amazed at what I found.  If your like me, I have 10 different cleaning products in my house.  Window cleaner, deodorizers, carpet cleaners ect.  I then realized I probably spend more money than I should on cleaners, whearas a 4Liter bottle of white vinegar cost between $1.79 and works just as well.  Not only is vinegar a natural organic bi-product of fruits, vegetables and grains, it’s shelf life is almost indefinite.  I also wanted to mention while vinegar does have a distinct odour, it’s a clean smell that dissipates quickly and 97% of us already stock vinegar in our homes which makes for a frugalistic deal!

100 household ways to use viniger
Cleaning Kitchen
1. Naturally disinfect all surfaces {mix 1 part vinegar with 1 part water in a spray bottle}
2. Scrub stuck on stains {make a paste with vinegar and baking soda and scrub with a sponge}
3. Clean your dishwasher {pour 1 cup into the bottom of the dishwasher and run it with no dishes inside}
4. In place of “Jet Dry” {fill the Jet Dry cup on your dishwasher with vinegar instead}
5. Clean out your coffee maker {pour 2 c. white vinegar and 1 c. water into the coffee maker and run a full brew cycle. Remove and replace the filter and run 2 cycles of just water}
6. Disinfect cutting boards
7. Clean and disinfect pots, pans, utensils, plates, cups, etc.
8. Clean your hands with vinegar to remove strong onion and garlic odors
9. Keep sponges and kitchen rags fresh by soaking in vinegar overnight. {rinse them before using again}
10. Clean “un-washable appliances” {spray white vinegar on electric griddles, George Foreman grills, etc. and then just wipe with a damp cloth or paper towel.}
11. Unclog your drains Pour about 1/4 cup of white vinegar or vinegar concentrate down the drain and let stand at least 20 minutes. Another very effective cleaning action can be created using a quarter cup of baking soda and then adding the vinegar – the resulting foaming action will clear the pipes. Flush the drain with hot water. Freshly boiled water works best.
12. Natural de-greaser {clean with vinegar and then rinse with cold water}
13. Microwave: {pour 1/4 c. vinegar and 1 c water in a glass bowl; microwave on high for 5 minutes; wipe clean}
14. The steam from a boiling a bowl of vinegar and water can loosen caked-on food and get rid of odors in the microwave, too.
15. Mix vinegar with citrus juice to freshen your garbage disposal {citrus peals work great too}
16. Naturally clean your fruits and veggies by soaking them in 1 part vinegar and 1 part water
17. Clean a non-self-cleaning oven by spraying the inside with vinegar and then sprinkling with baking soda. Let sit for 5-10 minute and then scrub with a sponge
18. Clean your stovetop
19. Remove hard water spots from stainless steel by wiping with a cloth dipped in vinegar
20. Clean the insides of water bottles and coffee thermos by “swishing” with vinegar — this will naturally kill any bacteria lingering at the bottom where you might not be able to reach
Cleaning Bathroom
21. Clean counters and all surfaces with 1 part vinegar and 1 part water
22. Toilets {pour white vinegar directly in the toilet, let it sit for a few minutes, and then scrub with toilet brush}
23. Mirrors {Christy’s frugal gal recipe for glass cleaner}
24. Showers and bathtubs
25. Stinky towels {wash towels with 1/2 c. of white vinegar in the rinse cycle}
26. Mold and mildew {mix 3 T. white vinegar, 1 t. Borax, and 2 c. hot water. Shake, spray, and let it soak for a few minutes, then rub the area with a soft brush or cloth}
27. Remove hard water stains from your shower nozzle by pouring 1 part vinegar and 1 part water in a plastic bag. Use a rubber band to attach the bag to the nozzle and let soak for 10-15 minutes.
28. Remove limescale buildup on your shower door or in your tub by heating a small container of vinegar to the boiling point. Pour vinegar over the problem areas and it should loosen the lime.
29. Wash your shower curtain by putting in the washing machine with a few old towels. Use 1/2 c. laundry detergent and 1/2 c. baking soda for the wash cycle, and then 1 c. vinegar for the rinse cycle.
30. Clean the grimy soap build up from your soap dish by soaking it in 1 part vinegar and 1 part warm water
general home cleaning…
31. Wood floors {mix 1 c. vinegar with 1 gal. warm water; clean floors with this mixture and then dry with a clean cloth}
32. Use it in a steam mop to clean most surfaces
33. Leather sofas/chairs {spray white vinegar over surface and “buff” with a soft clean cloth}
34. Walls {wipe down pretty much any wall surface with a cloth dampened with white vinegar}
35. Disinfect kid’s toys, books, etc. using 1 part vinegar and 1 part water.
36. Remove dirt and stains from your mattress by blotting with a clean cloth dipped in vinegar. If the spot is still damp, simply sprinkle a little baking soda over the area and vacuum it up.
37. Clean the filters in your dehumidifier / humidifier by soaking them in vinegar for 1 hour
38. Clean mini blinds by soaking them in a bathtub filled with warm water and a few cups of vinegar
39. Spot clean carpets by spraying a little vinegar on the spot and blotting it with a damp cloth
40. Wipe down the inside of all your refrigerator shelves and drawers for a food-safe alternative to traditional cleaners.
41. Wipe down electronics {computer keys, mouse, phone keypad, etc} by wiping with a rag dipped in vinegar.
42. Clean residue and build-up on the inside of your washing machine by dumping in 2 c. of vinegar and running it on the quick cycle.
43. Remove water rings from wood furniture by mixing 1 part white vinegar and 1 part olive oil. Dip a soft cloth in the mixture and rub on the affected area {going with the grain}. Then wipe with a clean, dry cloth.
Laundry – Simply add about 1/2 c. to your rinse cycle to…
44. Remove built-up soap residue
45. Reduce static cling
46. Naturally soften your clothes, towels, blankets, etc.
47. Stop colors from running
48. Whiten whites
49. Reduce irritation for those with sensitive skin
50. Prolong the life of your tights and nylons
51. Remove lingering odors {cigarette smell, smoke, gas}
52. Eliminate that “moldy” smell from damp towels and work-out clothes
53. Remove yellow stains from sweat (Check out Christy’s frugal gal recipe for stain remover)
54. Remove blood stains {let soak for 10 minutes}
55. Remove ink stains {mix 2 parts vinegar and 3 parts cornstarch, rub on stain, let dry, wash}
when ironing, use vinegar to help with…
56. Removing wrinkles {mist clothing with 1 part white vinegar and 3 parts water}
57. Cleaning the inside of your iron {fill the water reservoir with white vinegar}
58. Cleaning the metal plate of your iron {mix 1 part vinegar and 1 part salt and scrub the plate with this paste}
59. Eliminating scorch marks {rub the scorched area with a cloth dipped in white vinegar and then blot with a clean towel}
Health & Beauty:
60. Hair rinse {in place of conditioner}. Just pour 1/2 c. or so over your hair and rinse well
61. Clean your children’s retainers or Invisalign braces by soaking them in vinegar for a few minutes
62. Strengthen your nails by regularly dipping them in vinegar
63. Prevent infections by spraying small cuts with vinegar
64. Dry up a cold sore by dabbing it with a cotton ball soaked in vinegar
65. Drink 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to help relieve constipation and/or heartburn
66. Kill lice by spraying warm apple cider vinegar onto the scalp just before the final rinse. This will break down the “glue” the nits/lice use to attach to the hair
67. Soften your cuticles by soaking in a bowl of white vinegar for 5 minutes
68. Get rid of blemishes by mixing 1 part vinegar with 10 parts water and dabbing the solution on your freshly-washed face with a clean cotton ball
69. Soothe sunburned skin by soaking a towel in vinegar and then laying over the burned areas
70. Naturally whiten your teeth by dipping a toothbrush in white vinegar and brushing your teeth {only do this once a week and rinse thoroughly with water after you are finished}
71. Put cider vinegar on the pad of a bandage and cover your warts. Replace with a fresh bandage every night and the warts should be gone within a week
72. Mix a few tablespoons of vinegar in your babies bath water to help with diaper rash
73. Remove the hairspray residue from your flat iron or curling iron by wiping with a rag dipped in vinegar
74. Clean brushes and combs by letting them sit in a 1 gallon of water mixed with 1 c. of vinegar
Home & Garden:
75. Clean your windshield wipers with vinegar to keep them functioning properly
76. Loosen rust — like rusted-on screws or rusty patio furniture by soaking the areas in vinegar
77. Keep flying bugs away from your outdoor parties by putting cider vinegar in a shallow dish away from your food. By the and of the night, your dish will be full of “floating bugs”!
78. Make a fly trap for your kitchen by filling a mason jar half full of cider vinegar. Then punch holes in the lid and put the lid back on. The flies will crawl through, but won’t be able to get out again.
79. Mosquito spray — just pour vinegar in a spray bottle and spritz on your skin. The vinegar smell will go away after a few minutes, but you should be bug-free all night!
80. Clean the grill by scrubbing the grates with vinegar and scrubbing with a grill brush
81. Spray it on your weeds as a natural weed killer
82. Clean all your patio furniture with 1 part vinegar and 1 part water in a spray bottle
83. Clean your lawn mower blades {spray vinegar on the blades and scrub off}
84. Keep cats out of your children’s sand box by pouring vinegar around the outside of the box
85. Put a few drops of vinegar in your dog’s water bowl to neutralize his/her urine and prevent those ugly brown/yellow patches in your grass
86. Keep flies away from your pool by pouring vinegar around the outside edges of the pool
87. Spray ripening melons and pumpkins with vinegar to prevent mold from growing on the skin
88. Quickly clean bird droppings by spraying the area with vinegar and then wiping with a cloth/sponge. This will also disinfect the area.
89. Keep uninvited guests out of your veggie garden by soaking several rags in vinegar and then placing them around your garden. Repeat the process every 7-10 days.
90. Before you start painting, wipe down the surfaces with a cloth dipped in vinegar and let dry. This will assure that all the dirt and grease is removed and the paint will adhere properly.
91. Remove the “skunk smell” from dogs {or anything else} by washing with 1 part vinegar and 1 part water and then rinsing thoroughly with warm water.
92. Make your favorite vinaigrette or salad dressing
93. Tenderize tough cuts of meat mixing a little vinegar in with your other marinating ingredients.
94. Use it to “pickle” almost anything!
95. Freshen smelly shoes by spraying the insides with vinegar, placing them in a paper bag, and then putting the bag in the freezer overnight.
96. Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar to the water when boiling an egg to prevent the yolks from turning brown
97. Add 2 tablespoons to the water when poaching an egg to stop it from “spreading” out
98. Naturally sanitize baby bottles/nipples by washing with vinegar and warm water and then storing in the freezer
99. Remove sticky residue from labels, stickers, gum, etc. by rubbing the area with a rag dipped in vinegar
100. If a child has an “accident” on a mattress, clean it with a solution of vinegar and water. Afterwards, pour some baking soda onto the mattress, and brush or vacuum the residue once it’s dry.

Original content from Readers Digest, and


Extending the life of Summer Fruits

Last week one of our local stores had their blueberries and raspberries on sale.  I mentioned in a previous post Blueberry Bread how much we LOVE blueberries, so of coursce, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to stock up.  Shortly after I came home from the store I realized we were going to be gone the whole following weekend.  I didn’t want to come home from our trip and throw away this wonderful deal.  So I came across some wonderful ways extend the life of berries.  Best of all, freezing fresh fruits during their peak season is a pretty savvy way to be frugal!


Here are a few tips I found on how to extend the life of berries.

  • Vinegar kills any bacteria or spores on contact (That’s why its used in all natural and frugal cleaners). Applying the same principle to berries will help kill any mold or bacteria that might be on the surface of the fruit.
  • As soon as you come home with your fruit, before placing in the fridge do simple vinegar wash first.  Prepare a mixture of one part vinegar (white or apple cider) with five parts water.  It is not necessary to rinse the berries after soaking.  Before placing in the refrigerator, cover loosely with a paper towel to absorb any moisture.
  • Dump the berries into the mixture and swirl around. Drain, rinse them with water, dry and put in fridge (I promise they won’t taste like vinegar). Let stand undisturbed for 1 minute; do not allow berries to soak for longer.  Make sure they are completely dry before storing them in the fridge, which is the magic secret.  Raspberries will last a week or more, and strawberries can go almost two weeks without      getting moldy and soft.

Freezing Fruit

Here are some simple tips to freezing your fruit!

  • Wash blueberries or raspberries and pat dry.
  • Sort out any under-ripe, over-ripe, bruised or otherwise damaged berries. Also remove any leaves, stems or debris.
  • Pour the blueberries onto a cookie sheet in a single layer. This will keep them from freezing together in clumps.
  • Place the tray in the coldest part of your freezer, and leave it there until the berries are completely frozen.
  • Transfer the frozen blueberries to a freezer bag or another freezer-safe container of your choice.
  • Blueberries will keep in the freezer indefinitely, but are best used within six months of freezing.
  • Stay on top of what’s in your freezer by labeling all bags and containers with their contents and the date that you froze them


Here are some frugal Summertime Fruits for June – July – August

Apricots, Asian Pear, Barbados Cherries, Black Currants, Blackberries, Blueberries, Boysenberries, breadfruit, Cantaloupe, Casaba Melon, Champagne Grapes, Cherries, Crenshaw Melon, Durian, Elderberries, Figs, Grapefruit, Grapes, Honeydew Melons, Jackfruit, Key Limes, Limes, Loganberries, Loquat, Lychee, Mulberries, Nectarines, Olallieberries, Passion Fruit, Peaches, Persian Melon, Plums, Raspberries, Sapodillas, Sapote, Strawberries, Sugar Apple, Watermelon.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins

This is absolutely, without a doubt, the best chocolate chocolate chip muffins.  Ever.  It’s moist beyond imagination.  These from “almost” scratch muffins are delicioso!  This recipe was introduced to me by the most amazing neighbor back home.  Amy was one of those people you could joke around with and have so much fun with and then have a deep conversation with and it wasn’t weird at all.  She brought me a chocolate loaf after I brought Kinley home from the hospital.  I’ve been addicted ever since. Every time I make this recipe, I can’t help but reminisce on our friendship and what she  taught me.   Most importantly as a new mom(at the time) she reminded me to never take myself too seriously.  (It’s a hard challenge for us moms you know:) but her wisdom has carried with me through some of the more challenging moments in my mothering adventure. It was definitely the little gesture of love that made the difference in my life…  May you take time to enjoy these wonderful muffins with the ones you love or maybe it’s your neighbor who needs a helping hand of chocolate happiness:)

chocolate Bread recipe two


Yellow cake mix
8 oz sour cream
1 pkg instant chocolate pudding
3 eggs
3/4 cup oil
3/4 cup water
I bag of mini chocolate chips

chocolate bread 1_edited-1

Mix and pour into  prepared greased muffin pans.

chocolate bread 3_edited-1

chocolate bread 4_edited-1

Bake at 325 for an hour or until a toothpick comes out clear. Easy peasy jungle


Stain Remover

I have five beautiful, wonderful……M.E.S.S.Y. kids!!!  I love them, but I HATE when clothes get stained and ruined.  Especially if it is one of the older ones.  I want those clothes to stay nice and clean so I can pass them down the line!!!

So I fished around for a recipe to make a stain remover.  I found on here but had lots of problems with my spray bottle getting clogged.  Then I did a little research about baking soda and found out why.


I then came up with my own recipe and haven’t had any problems with clogging since.

Here is what you need:

3TBS Baking soda

3 Cups Warm water

1/2 cup ammonia

1/2 cup Dish soap

photo(153) photo(154)


Take the baking soda and dissolve it in the water.  Your water should be clear before moving on. Don’t be tempted to use any more than what is called for in the recipe.  If you do….you will get clogged!  One cup of water will only absorb 1 Tablespoon of baking soda.   Any remaining will be at the bottom of your container, ready to be sucked up into your sprayer.

Pour your water mixture into the bottle.


Add 1/2 cup of ammonia.

Add 1/2 cup Dish soap.

Shake well and spray on stains!  (You can use this on carpets  and upholstery also, just make sure to test it first in an inconspicuous spot to make sure that it won’t hurt it. )

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