Monday, November 29, 2010

RECIPE: Pumpkin Spice Latte Goodness (or How to Make a Latte without an Espresso Maker)

Today on the eve of the last day of November, I am craving the last bit of fall. It is looking a bit frightful outside and we have been listening to Christmas music all weekend, but I haven't really pulled out the decorations yet. This is certainly getting me ready for decorating though!

Pumpkin Spice Latte Goodness

2 cups whole milk
2  tablespoons pureed pumpkin (I use Libby's)
1-2 tablespoons sugar (I use my homemade vanilla sugar instead of sugar and vanilla and drop it to about 1 t of sugar. I don't like sweet coffee!)
1-2 tablespoons real vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon Penzey's Pumpkin Pie Spice (OR 1/4 t cloves and 1/2 cinnamon)
1/2 cup of freshly brewed strong coffee

In a saucepan combine milk, pumpkin and sugar and cook on medium heat, stirring, until steaming. Love that whisk in there - leftover from my days as a Pampered Chef. (I'll never be without one!)

Remove from heat, stir in spice. Oh so perty!!

If using vanilla and sugar, then add the vanilla now. No imitation flavors here. Use the real thing. Artificials are bad for you. And imitation vanilla is just gross. Process in blender for about 15 seconds until you have some scrumptious foamy goodness!

Pour into a large mug or two mugs if you are in the sharing mood. Pour the coffee on top. YUM!

Garnish with whipped cream and a sprinkle of spices if desired.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Homemade Laundry Detergent

I have been making my own laundry detergent off and on for the past seven or eight years. I began making my detergent because I needed to downsize our budget.You will hear about some of the other reasons in a later post. :)

Originally, I used Fels Naptha but I am unable to tolerate the smell anymore. I began searching out an alternative and found that some folks use Ivory. Other soaps mentioned were Kirk's Coco Castile and Zote. I have found Kirk's at a couple of grocery stores (Kroger in the bath soap aisle and Publix in the laundry section aisle.) Homemade detergents can sometime make clothes dingy. (Mine did when I used Fels Naptha and I quit using homemade detergent for that reason.) I read recently about Mrs. Stewart's Bluing and immediately bought a bottle. You only need a few drops per load so it lasts forever. Zote has brighteners added to it, but I haven't been able to find it locally yet. I was told to try Big Lot's and looked yesterday to no avail. I'll keep looking though to keep my options open. :)
Dawn's Homemade Detergent Recipe
1 cup Borax
1 cup Arm and Hammer Washing Soda
1 cup baking soda (not pictured)
1 grated bar laundry soap (Currently using Kirk's Coco Castile (It smells like Ivory so I am able to tolerate it.)
a few drops of essential oil (if desired - lavender is heavenly!) 

When I start my laundry, I turn the warm water on first, add 1 T of detergent per load (2 T for extra large loads) and then allow the washer to fill an inch or two. I then turn it the water to cold. The little bit of warm helps dissolve the detergent. If it is a hot water load I skip this step and just start it with hot from the beginning. If needed I add 1 cup plain white vinegar to the bleach dispenser and then add my clothes.Vinegar can be used to soften clothes or to cut the stink. :) It is great for toileting accidents too!

I need to warn you about  something. Your clothes will be clean but they will not smell like what you are used to. This lack of scent does not mean that they aren't clean. In fact, it means quite the opposite! I have always hated laundry detergent smells and love that my clothes are clean and smell fresh, not perfumey!!

To dry clothes in the dryer, I use small scraps of toweling dipped in fabric softener (Seventh Generation brand) and dry normally. I hang as many things as I possible can to avoid running my dryer.

This is my normal laundry routine. I have a completely different one for stinky/smelly/work clothes. That is another post (coming soon!)

Do you have a frugal laundry tip? How does your laundry routine differ?

Monday, November 15, 2010

TOS Review: Corps of Rediscovery

What little boy doesn't dream of creating his own fort a la Swiss Family Robinson? How many bows-and-arrows, guns and other weapons have been rudimentary crafted from sticks and string in a given year? Now boys everywhere have another option (which is especially good for those who don't live near woods!) The Corps of Rediscovery has a line of products designed for the little boy who wants to make his own toys. 

We recently received a Tomahawk Kit for review and had the best time crafting it. (Farm Boy adores arts and crafts of any kind and was totally psyched about this project!) We sat down one afternoon and painted it. While it was drying, we looked at some of the other items Corps of Rediscovery that we might enjoy such as the Pioneer Felt Ball Kit and the Fringe Pouch Kit. One of my favorite things was the Deer Antler Buttons! Talk about using every part of the deer! How cool would those be to embellish the Leather Vest or Headband?

Loved having a boy themed craft (though they offer a lot of girl crafts too!!) Easy directions. Great hands-on lesson!

None really. Farm Boy needed some help tying the leather strap around the stick. Nothing a little father-son bonding can't fix!

Check out Corps of Rediscovery for great Grand Reopening deals! The Tomahawk Kit is regularly priced at $7.99 but during the Grand Reopening is only $5.50! Many of these crafts would make great stocking stuffers for Christmas!

I received a Tomahawk Kit from Corps of Rediscovery for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.

Monday, November 8, 2010

RECIPE: Beef Up My Stroganoff

This recipe is altered quite a bit from a Southern Living recipe book given to us in the early years of our marriage. When we first made this we were broke and could only afford, we still make it with hamburger. Fresh mushrooms are a must and the consomme, sherry and lemon give it exceptional flavor. Once we were able to afford sirloin, we preferred it with ground meat. We also double the recipe since we all love it and fight over whatever might be left over! 

Classic Beef Stroganoff from Hamburger (or as we call it Stroganoff)

1/2 lb fresh mushrooms
1/4 cup chopped onion (chop finely and the kids will never know they are in there!)
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons butter (use the real thing not fake stuff)
2 tablespoons flour (can sub corn starch)
1 cup homemade beef broth
3 tablespoons dry sherry
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper (It does make a difference! Once you try freshly ground, you will never go back!)
8 oz sour cream

Heat butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onion and garlic until browned, stirring frequently. Add hamburger and cook thoroughly.

Add flour and next four ingredients, stirring well. Bring to a boil; reduce simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Gently stir in sour cream; cook until heated thoroughly (do not boil.) Serve over warm fat ribbon pasta (like No-Yolks) and garnish with parsley. Enjoy!
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