Thursday, December 25, 2014

(I can't believe it's not) Chive butter!

The following post contains a review of a product.I was given for free. All opinions are my own.

Want to make a lower calorie non-gmo chive butter? I brought Big Bad Besan Bread to a  holiday gathering yesterday and decided to make a butter blend to accompany. I had been given a container of I Can't Believe it's Not Butter to review. Apparently they have simplified their ingredient list and use only non-gmo ingredients.
We have chives grow in our back yard each summer and as the weather grows cold I harvest all but a good inch at the base of the chive stalk. This year I froze half and dehydrated the rest. They really are best frozen as they keep their bright green color and their rubbery crunch is not entirely diminished as it is when the plant is dehydrated.
The butter was a hit! Much of my family thought it was real butter. I simply blended a scoop of the spread with the frozen chive pieces, but you could add garlic powder or roasted minced garlic too.
ICBINB is on sale at Cub this week and you can print a coupon here:

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Soup Flexipe

Recipes are nice, but if you are going to be a frugal eater you need a flexible.

If you don't know what a flexipe is check out this post on one of my favorite sites,  GetRichSlowly.

This past week I made broth and The Ogre flexed one of my mom's yummy soup recipes.

We had just read Carrot Soup with the kids so they were excited to help.

Carrot and Turkey Soup

Take a fat (The Ogre used butter) and saute some hardy vegetables (The Ogre used onions and plenty of shredded carrots) add a spice (The Ogre used thyme). When the veggies start to soften add some flour (oat flour was The Ogre's selection) and make a roux. Slowly add the broth in while stirring. The Ogre put so many shredded carrots in this soup that it was great without a grain,  but you could add quinoa/rice/noodle this time. Once the veggies are cooked to your liking and the grain is too, add the meat back in, a dash of salt to taste and enjoy. Preferably with some Big Bad Besan Bread with a slathering of butter.

If you don't have an ingredient, for heavens sake don't purchase it! Flex your creativity!

Oh, and don't forget to take your veggie scraps and put them in your freezer's broth bin! Now you are started on the next soup. It's like Amish Friendship Bread. ... It never stops!

Dem (chicken) bones

Among the list of items I refuse to spend money on is chicken broth. The broth you can buy tends to be salty, oily, and may contain msg or other lovelies. You might as well buy Campbell's chicken noodle soup and strain the noodles and "chicken" out. OR you can make your own for close to zero cents. I guarantee it will taste better too.

What I want you to start doing today is to keep a jar/bag/container in your freezer, label it broth if you like,  and start throwing your edible veggie scraps in there. Spinach stems, carrot peels, the outer layer from your onions, tomato tops, etc. I have been known to toss the occasional pear core or Apple piece in there too. Sometimes I take the container out and sloppily refill my spice jars, letting the extras fall in if I think they would make a tasty broth.

The next time you make a roast or whole chicken or turkey add the remaining bones/carcass to the container too. I don't eat the gizzards,  but since they are super healthy I throw those in the bin too. If you are a vegetarian or making a vegetarian soup feel free to skip the meat. 

Then when you have a spare moment toss this whole concoction into your slow cooker. Cover it with water and cook. You can do this overnight if you'd like.

After several hours the broth should be a deep carmel color. Turn the slow cooker off.  You may want to let this cool.  Then line a large sturdy bowl with a colander or strainer. Pour the cooled broth mixture into the strainer. You may have to work in batches.  I like to press down on the solids to push any flavorful liquid out. If the broth I am making is carnivorous,  I easily remove any segments of meat from the bone. Once you have all the meat removed and the veggies drained toss the solids.  If you made a vegetarian broth do compost those solids! If you are making soup right away set the meat aside to add in to the soup.

And there you have it: broth!

Broth which you can feel free to add any spices/herbs to if you like.

VARIANT: Sometimes I add a bay leaf and a few peppercorns to the broth as it cooks. I only salt at the table but if it weren't for the kids I may add salt to the broth too.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A keeping it real Christmas

This Christmas, inspired both by my good friend Gwen's annual Christmas card poem and by Mary Lambert's song "Secrets" I bring to you our first annual Keeping it Real Christmas poem

A Keeping it Real Christmas

It's December 16th
We've no Christmas cards sent
So I sit on the toilet
Reminisce how this year went

Boo-boy he reverted
To pooping his pants
Likes wearing frilly skirts
In which he can dance

He started Pre-k
Gained control of his bowels
Remains so inquisitive
Learning letters and vowels

Moo-cow she can't stand
She can't ride his schoolbus
Mom has thrown out her back twice
Trying to control Moo's fuss

We've tried strollers, the Ergo,
Tried the wagon and Mei Tei
Still Moo-cow screams and thrashes
When bus time is nigh

We love her so dearly
Making her opinion so clear
For this feminist mommy
A passive daughter was a fear

Beside all the tantrums
She really is sweet
She breastfeeds her baby dolls
And keeps all her toys neat

The Ogre continues
To work his twelve steps
But when he leaves for a group
He returns to a mess

He learned to control his anger
Coaching T-ball was a test
He attended a dad's group
We think he's still the BEST!

Our house was broke into
We can't get it sold
Our car was rear ended
Our garage? De-squirrelled!

Most days go decently
Long as mom uses her lamp
Gets her coffee, her pills
Then this place is like CAMP!

Mom started two new jobs
And then came this blog
She rarely sneaks gluten
So no more fibro-fog

This Christmas we tell you
Take a breath, take a rest
Days are long, years are short
And we're all very blessed

When you have to shop: SAVE

Most of us are not totally self sufficient. We have to pay others for goods or services some of the time. A lot of our money may be spent repeatedly at the same stores and restaurants.  In these situations I recommend buying discounted gift cards when possible.  Right now is prime time for gift cards. Check out this list on "Pocket Your Dollars". Look through it.  Any restaurants you KNOW you will go to this coming year at least once or twice?
I am planning on Davanni's because I love their gluten free pizza. I already stocked up on Domino's (to be enjoyed with their periodic 50% off sales). Going to check into Acapulco as they usually have a deal too.

Maybe money is tight and you never go out to eat. If you ever go to Holiday I recommend getting a few of the $50 gift cards. Do the math (and don't be surprised if you see me buying a good half dozen).

I also recommend using Raise to get gift cards. I searched for all the stores I regularly use and set up alerts so that I am informed whenever a new gift card is posted. Seems like many people have the same idea because the grocery store and gas station gift cards are always sold out, but that is what the alert is good for. Today I bought a Cub Foods gift card. Only saved a few bucks, but the shipping is free and it is money I am going to spend any way. I also have purchased CVS and Walgreens gift cards at decent discounts. Plus every weekend there is a sale where featured cards have an additional 5% off. I have always received the cards in a timely manner and they are 100 percent guaranteed. (By the way, I just checked and there are currently three Whole Foods gift cards listed)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Let me help you get your bowels moving

I love getting paid to shop.  On Friday I got money back at Target. For better than free I "bought" a banana,  three chai teas, two Applegate kids snack packs, four pasta sauces,  four packs of noodles.

Yesterday I made money at CVS "buying" probiotics and at Cub buying Tabasco sauce.
Sometimes I buy things I don't need because I make money on it. Today I am going to buy Ducolax at Walgreens and will make money on that purchase. If you need Ducolax and live in the twin cities you can have it. Private message me, no judgement ;)

I plan to post On here when I MAKE money purchasing items and will tell you how. When I say make money I am taking pennies,  but I LOVE pennies.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

So they didn't take my cheek....

A few of you know I was going to sell my skin, or small pieces of it, for cash. It was going to be a good $200+/stitch, can you blame me? I went yesterday and apparently my cheeks are too baby soft and supple (that is my way of saying I only had one zit and they wanted people with zero Or 3+ zits), so I took the twenty five bucks they gave me for trying and secretly thanked the zit gods and goddesses for not blessing me this week.

However, before leaving, I noticed they are going to do another study. This one is for a moisturizer. If you live in the cities and want to make easy money check out the qualifications and call 612.781.3400

Good luck!

Spending (not quite) eight dollars on MYSELF!!

Women's Dearfoams Summer Fur Slide Blueberry

My feet are always aching. Our floors are wood and slate and the hard surfaces do a number on my feet. This is why I always wear slippers. When the wonderful pair of slippers I had needed replacing I naturally turned to the interweb and googled "slipper giveaways" and entered some blog giveaways. A couple weeks later my prize arrived: slippers!

Well, sandal slippers. They were decent but then it got cold and I needed a new pair. Luckily I found a pair under my desk at work. I had them stashed away from when I was pregnant and needed a respite from my heels. I brought them home and wore them for a good month before the sole and the shoe separated. After fixing it with various glues I finally tore them apart and threw them in the garbage. The BIG garbage... OUTSIDE... where I would not be tempted to pull them back out, glue in hand, to macguyver another fix. Flash forward two weeks and my feet are killing me. So I decided it is time to plop down $8 bucks of my hard earned online earnings to buy a pair of slippers with good reviews. This is how:

First of all I used Ebates. This allows me to get 3% back (pennies...they add up!). I then went through the Ebates site to buy these slippers from Sports Authority.
ALPINE DESIGN Women's Polar Ginger III Slippers -

I like these white ones, but in a review a woman said hers held up for four years but got dirty so she recommends the grey (which she bought ten of! That is SUPPOSEDLY how good they are. I am starting with one pair.

ALPINE DESIGN Women's Polar Ginger III Slippers -

 The shipping is free and the reviews are great. They are on sale for $9.99 and you automatically get 20% off right now.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Holiday card hack for house staging

If you have ever tried selling your house you know it is important to depersonalize. If you have ever tried to sell your house in December you know that it is extremely hard to be festive while impersonal. Usually we plaster our kitchen cupboards with holiday cards as they come in. Not so this year. I stuck the first few on the fridge (I had removed all magnets but then there was the kids' thanksgiving magnet craft... The clutter is constant with kids! ) but I knew with showings I would not want to remove all the cards as the month proceeded. When Boo's balloon from his cousin's birthday party (more clutter! ) popped this morning I snatched the ribbon right up. I had an idea but of course had passed on all my ribbon in my decluttering. We have a side by side fridge. I taped the ribbon taught against the freezer and affixed our cards thus far to the ribbon. You can't see any tape and I will be able to remove the whole ribbon with showings. In a few days Moo's balloon will likely pop as well and I will add another row on the fridge side. 
The ribbon with tape before I applied the cards

Saturday, December 6, 2014


Toilet paper tubes irk me. You can't recycle them. You can compost them of course. Still though that is the third R (Reduce is better than Reuse is better than Recycle). I was glad that I was selected to try and share Scott's tubeless toilet paper, because,  let's face it, I have tossed paper towels and tossed paper napkins, but I just can't bring myself to No Impact Man it and toss the T.P. I Am pretty sure the ogre would appreciate that idea as much as a previous plan I hatched to get rid of the refrigerator, yeah that never happened. Anyhow I tossed the tube at least. Without the tube the toilet paper was, well, regular Scott toilet paper. My bum ain't picky. The one thing I will say is if your toilet paper holder does not roll itself then the paper gets tangled on it and you just have to pass the stuff on to your good friend Mackenzie when she drives you because, let's face it, gas is expensive and sometimes your company just isn't enough. One other thought for Scott. If it really is for the environment I hope they will ditch the plastic and start packing in paper like those giant single rolls.

Friday, December 5, 2014

A good (FREE) candy bar alternative

Right now on Shopmium you can get a dollar back for purchasing Justin's brand nut butter. This is quality nut butter worth the cost for a whole jar, however there are single serving packs too. I tend to skip meals and am on the go for my work so I picked up a pack of the dark chocolate hazelnut. Okay honestly I thought it would go good in a stocking but then it was there in my purse and I was hungry, so. ... I just ate it on the go! Because I am classy like that. Think of it as a sophisticated GoGurt.
Really though it is delicious and mine was 83 cents at cub. I submitted it for a dollar back through Shopmium so I was essentially paid 17 cents for this bliss. Pennies, yes, but I normally would have SPENT for a snack. I personally thought this better than a Reeses peanut butter cup and it killed my chocolate craving. If you have never used Shopmium it is an app where you buy a specific food item and get a set amount or percentage of the purchase price back. When you scan the item and receipt.   Sometimes you can get the whole price or above back and you don't have to wait until you get to a certain amount earned to cash out.  It pays you with every transaction. Also when you first sign up you get a free Lindt bar. These bars are yummy and a great stocking stuffer for this time of year. If you do sign up please use my referral code so I get credit: GMFEKEQL
One more note, the app often includes organic and natural selections and can be used At any retailer

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Cheap Gluten Free Pizza

This week Dominos Pizza is 50% off if you order online.  Also buy $50 of Dominos gift cards at CVS and get ten dollars back in Extra Care Bucks. They have gluten free pizza too. Need a coke with that pizza?  Pick up a two liter at CVS for just 75 cents after the Coupon in store.

Make the bread

This is my first blog post. I get a lot of my recipes from blogs and I want to share one of my recipes with you. I have never read the book Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, but I can appreciate the premise and I follow the title's advice. If you are gluten free and trying to live the thrift life you MUST make your bread. Well, I suppose you could buy the less expensive tapioca based breads, but a life well lived DOES NOT include that cardboard!

One of the most annoying parts about recipes on blogs is that you have to go through the whole blog before you get the recipe, so I will lay out the recipe simple for you right here at the top of the post while my bread bakes. Then we shall go through some of my technique on how to get these ingredients for less cost. I plan to price them out at some point to see how much a loaf actually costs.

My Big Bad Besan Bread (Gluten free and for the bread machine!)
Measure and pour into bread machine in order:
3 eggs, beaten
1 t cider vinegar
3 T oil
1 1/3 C whey leftover from cheese or yogurt making/water
1 C Besan/garbanzo bean flour
1 C Brown Rice Flour
1/2 C Tapioca flour
1/2 C cornstarch
4 t xanthan gum
3 T brown sugar
1 1 /2 t salt
2 1/4 t active dry yeast
2-3 T gound flax, chia, or any other
Then turn on your machine and let it work. I don't have a gluten free setting
so I just use the regular and it seems fine

How I make this delicious yet on the cheap:

Eggs: I love using apps that get me cash back on my groceries, especially with basics like eggs. You can even buy organic/free range eggs and get cash back. The offers change but I have received money back on eggs using the Ibotta  app, Groupon's SNAP app,  and Checkout 51.
If organic is not of importance to you, Kwik Trip and other gas stations often have deals on eggs or coupons for a dozen at a decent price. (and while you are at Kwik Trip don't forget to stock up on bananas, potatoes and onions!)

Would you look at those Mothers!
Cider Vinegar: One of the many things I buy in bulk. Cider is so acidic it can't really go bad. I was about to throw my jug out but my good friend Angela informed me that brown webs floating in your vinegar is a GOOD thing. Indeed these are called "mothers" and are full of good for you gunk, so look away and pour it on in! Since it won't go bad, buy vinegar in the largest (cheapest per ounce) container available.
Oil: Oil should also be bought in bulk, but not in so large a container that it will go bad before you use it. I prefer coconut, olive or canola.  
 Whey: Of course, you can use water if you don't have whey on hand. However, if you do dabble in cheese or yogurt making PUH-LEASE do not be throwing this down the drain. It is up the with webs of "mothers" in the good-for-you category. My cousin, Michael, solved my confusion about whey with the simple direction "Use as you would buttermilk." I freeze my whey in 1 1/3 cup servings in mason jars in the fridge door and thaw it out every time I bake a loaf. I usually leave some fresh in the fridge to throw in pancake batter, oatmeal, and sauces. I, of course, have a turkey, bought cheap with a Thanksgiving Day sale waiting in the freezer that I just might try a buttermilk (WHEY!) brine on. Yum!
Besan and Tapioca Flour: Besan is garbanzo bean flour. Besan and tapioca flour may be found in the ethnic section of your grocery store along with other goodies such as bean and rice noodles, spices, ground coconut and other various flours and grains. Again, buy in bulk. The starchy flours like tapioca last longer then the heavy flours, which you may want to store in the freezer and/or find friends to divvy up the loot with. 

Rice flour, xanthan gum, yeast, flax, etc: I buy these oft used basics on Amazon's subscribe and save. If the container is larger than I can use I post on facebook and find others to divide with me. I can be found salivating over 25 lb bags of millet flour and 50 lb bags of brown rice. Packages of that quantity don't tend to work as my network of buyers isn't that large, but 4 and 6 packs of Bob's Red Mill grains and flours are easy to find homes for. The xanthan gum I purchased regularly was out the last time I put in an order so I went out on a limb with a cheap off brand. The packaging was tacky and turned me off a bit, but this ended up being the best xanthan gum yet!


A couple more notes on doing this on the cheap:
Don't go buying a bread maker unless you really plan to make a lot of bread. There is a reason there are so many breadmakers in thrift stores. They are a good idea that few use. I was baking my bread in the oven for over a year before I broke down and allowed my husband to gift me one from a thrift store. If you get one from Macy's I don't even want to hear about it. Sure you may want one that doesn't leave a big hole from the paddle or that has a gluten free and/or quick bread setting. I want that too, but not enough to work more hours to get it, and every extra dollar you spend is another bit of time you have to spend working. So if you want all those extras just look harder, someone is bound to bring just the breadmaker you covet to a thrift store eventually.

 How to do it even cheaper/better:
Raise your own chickens! I really want to do this in my next house, so somebody hold me to it.
Add more extras! I didn't throw much flax in this loaf but I typically pour it in until I am sure I put in way too much. It always ends up tasting great. Sometimes I throw in sunflower seeds as an homage to that grainy bread my dad used to buy.
Substitute! Play around! Don't run to the store if you are one ingredient short. I was out of brown sugar with this loaf, but upon googling "brown sugar substitute" I came up with a substitute using ingredients I already had. If I ran to the store I probably would have bought more items and the item I wanted may not have been on sale. You may be thing, "Yes, but that molasses cost much more than brown sugar" so another day I will have to tell you how I got that molasses for free ;)
You could probably improve the health (and perhaps the glycemic load) of this bread by using agave nectar or go local with maple syrup or honey. Let me know what works for you.
A note, I have tried about 5 substitutes for that xanthan gum and have yet to find a suitable alternative, but would love to hear if you figure one out.

Don't forget to enjoy, especially if you have some leftover Thanksgiving turkey!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A portable Christmas Tree

My son, who is 4, has been bummed that we don't have a Christmas tree up.  Our house is on the market and I an trying to keep it uncluttered.  Our Christmas tree takes up a lot of space. Also I want prospective buyers to be able to envision their own holiday in this house, and I don't know that will necessarily be Christmas.
Last week was Thanksgiving.  None of us had work or school. The following Saturday no one had work or school either. Our usual routine had been abandoned. The ogre and I have pretty opposite schedules so we weren't sure what to do with eachother.
That is when I remembered a recent Facebook post on my friend Laura's page.  I called her and she assured me I could do the whole project for five bucks. That would cost less than driving out to her house to watch the game with her husband and be twenty times more enjoyable.
I bundled Boo up and headed out to Michael's where he picked out a large piece of green felt for the tree and several small pieces for ornaments.
Once home the ogre and I cut out ornaments while the kids glued, painted and hung them to the tree (painter) taped to the wall.
Boo says we can just roll it up and out it in the trunk to bring with to a new house!
How I did this on the cheap
Laura was right! The cost came out to four dollars, and only because I let Boo pick out so many colors. I dug through our recycling and grabbed a coupon for 50% off first which saved us two bucks.
We could have Done with just the felt but I had fabric paint so we let the kids mess around with that a bit.
How to do it cheaPer
Plan ahead! Go to Artscraps and buy recycled craft supplies for cheap. Thrift stores, garage sales, craigslist and twin cities free market are also great resources. I try not to keep too many craft supplies around because of the space issue but hope to have a designated craft space in our next home.