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Posts Tagged ‘frugal’

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Snow day!  A day we have been given permission by nature to S_L_O_W down and do things peacefully.  We were inspired to make a chicken avocado soup, with this bread for dinner! Full bellies will sleep warm and cozy tonight.  Prayers for two sick boys.

Photo by Little Eagle.

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March has come in like a lion with a huge snowstorm bringing more than a foot of snow, and now the spring thaw has begun 10 days into the month.  Rain has been pouring down all day, the yard is flooded as the earth cannot swallow up the water fast enough.

We put a new bird feeder up on the outside of our living room window, during the snow storm.  It has been such a treat to watch woodpeckers, cardinals, blue jays and all the pretty birds that cohabitate in our yard, but a little more up close and personal.  We have always been avid bird watchers, journaling about what we see, blogging about what we observe and pondering over their cycle with the seasons.

Little Eagle has a big birthday coming up.  He is hitting the double digits.  We were so inspired by our bird friends that we decided to make bird seed ornaments as birthday favors.  Little Eagle will give them out to friends at church, and cousins. We are not having a formal birthday party with his friends this year, because he had a big one last year.  We decided as a family that each child gets to rotate having a big party.  Each child gets a big party once every two years, until Cedar is older, then it will be every three years to include him.  The amount of money, planning and time is taken into account, otherwise we gather as a family.

I got a recipe for bird seed ornaments off of Pinterest.  There are many more recipes to choose from, if this one doesn’t suit you.

3/4 cup flour
1 pack of gelatin
3 tbsp corn syrup
1/2 cup water
4 cups of bird seed

Make sure you spray the cookie cutters with cooking spray.  This is imperative. I did a test batch and basically ruined the shapes, because they did not pop out of the cutter easily.  Then I laid them out on wax paper on a cookie sheet.  The recipe makes about 8 ornaments.  So far I have made 17 successful ornaments. The rest I will use here at the house.

Mixing up bird seed for ornaments

When it was all mixed together I packed a handfull into the cutter and pressed from both sides filling it all in.  Then I placed it on the wax paper and pressed the top down.  With the test batch I used a straw to make holes in the ornaments for string, but decided not to do that with the other batches.  I will take embroider floss or hemp and just wrap them to hang.
ornament molds and curing
Here is a picture of the ornaments curing.  The shamrock is delicate and won’t make it, so I added it to our home stash.  The Easter egg, bunny, butterfly, flower and star works out.  If you are in a pinch use ball jar lids!

To make tags I used a unique paint brush and made a pretty design on watercolor paper, both sides.  Next I cut out shapes, punched holes and wrote “Little Eagle turns 10!”  This will slide right on the string to hang them.

This craft takes a little planning and doing, very little money and it is a great sensory experience packing the cookie cutters with bird seed.  You get to take a sneek peak early, because this mama has to plan with all the busyness of spring. Enjoy.

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Recently, a lovely lady I know shared a recipe for Amaranth Crackers on Facebook. I thought it would be a fun venture to bake them. First I had to seek out the seed, which evidentally is easy to grow in Kentucky, but I purchased ours in the bulk section at Whole Foods.  I paid under $2 for a ball jars worth, probably around a pound.

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First, I followed the directions to the recipe.  One part Amaranth to two parts water. Cook it up for at least 20 minutes on medium heat.  I actually cooked it a little longer.  Then, let it cool.  Little Bear and I took a nap to pass the time and rest from our big day.  When I woke, Little Bear was still asleep so I sneaked out to the kitchen and patted out the crackers.  Unfortunatley, I added a little too much salt. Otherwise they baked up nicely 20 minutes or so later. We will try this again another day.  I am glad we tried.  Here they are!

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The path of simplicity is truly what you make of it.  To me and my family it is a road of beauty.  It is a road that is not convenient always, but who says it should be?  Simplicity is the paring down of your life to purify the energy around you and find out what truly matters.  What does matter to you?  Most people say family.

I am piggy-backing on my last post about slow living, slow eating and slow educating.  To do these things you have to take a look at your family culture. Have you written down what is important to you?  Do you have goals? Expectations?  Boundaries?  How has society influenced you?  What are you really wanting to leave your children when it is all said and done.  Lots of money and “stuff,” or memories shared?  I am sure they would appreciate money, perhaps even skills that you have taught them, but most of all values, at least to us, values are important for posterity.

There have been several occasions where our children have lived in a very cluttered home.  There was a time when I was so overwhelmed with stuff that I thought I would go mad.  Eventually I cleared out anything and everything under their beds, on the shelves and streamlined their rooms. My living room and kitchen area is simple.  Not a lot of extra decor taking up space waiting for me to dust it off.  If I don’t use it, it doesn’t belong. I have been a practical person most of my life, so this was not terribly hard for me to figure out, although it was a side effect of having children.

We teach keeping the lights off when not in use.  We teach wearing appropriate clothes to keep warm and keeping the heat turned down to a reasonable temperature.  We like to air out the house on nice days and not overuse our cooling system.  We like to be proactive and eat well instead of getting sick, but it doesn’t seem like that mattered this year with all the sickness going around, it caught us too.  But we have learned from it and worked harder to investigate gut health, eating foods that are fermented and utilizing mother nature and her bounty of healing foods and herbs.

We own a small farmhouse with almost four acres.  The simplicity of play and living has far outweighed the desire to own more.  That is not to say we have not struggled and won’t ever struggle.  We own a business, Coydog Studios, and it has not been easy.  Thankfully, because of our life before we made the transition, it wasn’t as hard a transition as it could have been.  We did have family help at times and for that I am grateful.  I support my husbands creativity, and we are proud he has recently earned a place in the Kentucky Art’s Council Directory as Architectural Artist.  In reading his bio you will see how simplicity leads over into his work and creative life as well.  In our world Spirit and the Physical realm are not separate.  It’s simple, and interwoven throughout every moment.  Ryan speaks about “sacred space” in his work and I too think of our home as Sacred Space.  Sanctuary.  I have to work harder and longer if our sacred space is cluttered and dysfunctional.

As you know we home educate.  To fullfill my duty and sacred contract I have made with Creator I cannot have an environment that has not been simplified. There are times before and after having a baby that the house may seem fuller, but to everything there is a season and I always come back around to clearing and cleaning.  Simplifying is a constant.  Simplicity takes work.  Especially in this day and age when one can buy anything.  Where there are box stores on every corner and Amazon Prime can deliver you anything within two days.

To make it possible to shop at places like Whole Foods I had to do the work and preparation.  I had to go online, make lists, mark recipes, and read tips on how to shop.  I spoke with the folks working in the grocery isles.  They were more than willing to speak to a smiling, learning face.  I have learned in the isles where we shop, on the shelving, there are stickers for all the products.  On these stickers which read the prices are other numbers and information.  On the left hand side, top, there is a number that represents price per ounce or pound.  When you are shopping and trying to decide which product you get better bang for your dollar, read those numbers.  For example, I wanted to buy crackers for Cedar to munch on.  He is 15 months old. I had the choice of buying the baby brand cracker, or the crackers that were the generic Whole Foods brand.  I got more product for less if I bought the product not geared towards babies.  It’s all about the marketing, no matter where you go, and I realize this aspect.  Also, if you have the desire to buy something by the case, you get an automatic 10% off.  This is a rare need for us.

Also, we do not buy sodas, or loads of junk food.  Most of the food we eat is whole.  I do enjoy sweets upon occasion, but we have been sick this season more than any season in years, so we are eating less sugar that compromises the immune system.  If we do eat sweets I make them at home and alter the recipe with other substitutes that won’t hurt us, as much.  And as I said before I do not do a lot of purchasing in the middle section of the grocery, because I have learned to make many things.  In doing so, and in learning to cook good foods I have enabled us to shop at places like Whole Foods, where labeling is transparent. Where a family can shop and purchase non-GMO products.  And when possible we shop at Farmer’s Market, in season.

We have also learned to eat less meat.  You can still have a good meal without meat.  Your health is not determined on whether you don’t have meat on your plate, nor does every meal without meat have to be pasta.  Just take a look at my Pinterest food board and see many alternatives.

Below is another good link that I have also pinned on my food board with others sharing ways to shop at these other stores without compromising your budget, yet eating better.

http://foodformyfamily.com/menu-planning/whole-foods-menu-challenge-100-gift-card-giveaway

Fish was by far the most expensive it seemed.  Chicken and beef were doable if one prepared them in a good way and used the other parts to make things like bone broth, or leftovers for lunch the next day.  You can buy products like cous cous in the box or bulk.  If you buy cous cous in the box it is the same price as other grocery stores, and there is more variety.  Cous cous in bulk is even cheaper and there is less packaging waste for the landfill or to compost.

Something I have also noticed is the shopping carts are smaller at places like Whole Foods.  The isles are shorter, and there are less marketing ads flying around.  There is only one small isle of condiments, not a longggg isle, or two. Sometimes too many choices are just too many, and overwhelming.  We find the shopping experience at marketplaces like Whole Foods higher vibrating, and that is about worth the difference right there.  Trader Joe’s is definitely cheaper in some aspects and we have the choice to go next door and get some of the alternatives, however my friend’s husband works at Whole Foods and he says WF is competeing with some of TJ’s pricing. So, stay tuned and keep your eyes open. I still like to stop in Trader Joe’s as well though for certain things.

If you have patience or are blessed with even a bit of lawn or land you can grow a few plants to compensate the grocery bill.  I tend to grow medicinal and culinary foods most.  Community gardens are on the rise as well.  Another way we save, while having children is to breast feed 1 to 2 years and to use cloth diapers and cloth wipes.  I did make baby food for our second child, but we utilize the concept of baby led weaning now, so while we use some non-GMO brands like Beechnut, our little bear eats from our plate a lot.

Now, it may take some time to arrive at this destination.  There is more to it. Rhythm is tied to success I believe.  To keep us successful I shop the same day every week if we can help it.  We shop in the mornings, with three children who come to learn and be the next generation to make good choices.  It is also our payday, and I do errands for our business to make the short drive to a neighboring town worth it.

Feel free to comment with your own tips, or leave links to blogs or articles that may have helped you and your family budget better and still be able to purchase whole non-GMO foods.

Blessings!!

 

 

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