DIY, freezer cooking, recipes

Waffles: Mix vs. Scratch

I used to make waffles from scratch.  I rarely made waffles because I had to drag out all of the ingredients, make the waffle mix, heat up the waffle iron, stand in the kitchen to make each waffle, burn a few, clean the waffle iron… I hated it.  But, my kid loves waffles.

Anything for love, right?

We were facing the possibility of a one-income household, so I was trying to cut corners anywhere possible.  When I took a look at our grocery budget, I noticed that a huge chunk of our monthly expense was PopTarts.

Yes, PopTarts.

But, it wasn’t just the kid.  It was all of us.  Especially me.  Between my son and I, we would go through a big box (6-packs) of PopTarts every two days.  Oops.  But they are sooo good with a tall glass of milk.

I’m trying to lose baby weight.  DH is trying to get in shape.  And the last thing our seven-year-old needs is sugar.  So, I started making waffles and freezing them to eat for breakfast.  And snacks.  And dinner when I’m feeling super lazy.

I read an article online (can’t find it now), explaining that it costs $2.00 to make waffle mix from scratch (yields 10 waffles).  And I thought I was saving money!!  Yikes.  So I grabbed a box of waffle mix at Aldi and did a calculation of my own.

1 box of waffle mix $1.49
8 tbsp of oil $0.24 ($2.89/48 oz)

This recipe (doubled the instructions on the box) yields between 32-40 waffles.  So, even if I come out on the short end of that, it’s $0.05 per waffle.  I was paying $0.19 per PopTart and we were all eating TWO at a time.  Now we all eat breakfast for less than a dollar.  Score!

Other Waffle Tips:

I use cooking oil to grease my waffle iron.  I use a spray bottle, even though the users manual says to brush it on the plates.  I hate washing my brush.

Cook waffles until the steam stops coming out of the sides of the waffle iron.  If you open it any sooner, the waffle top & bottom layers will separate and your picky seven-year-old will complain.

Freeze waffles.  If they last that long in your house… they don’t in mine.  No matter how many I make, they’re all gone within a week 🙂

Another short cut I like to use, is to mix up the recipe in a pitcher, for easy pouring.




DIY Athlete’s Foot Treatment

My husband suffers from an extreme case of Athlete’s Foot. If you’re anything like my stubborn strong-willed husband, you use a new cream or spray for a few days (until someone stops reminding you) but not long enough to have any lasting effect. Then, you’re back to using the carpet on the stairs or in front of your favorite chair as your “scratching post”.  My latest discovery is that he stretches a sock, one end in each hand, to scratch between his toes, leaving the sock twice the length that it was to begin with.

A few weeks ago, my toes started to itch.  So, we’re trying something new and getting rid of this stuff!  No more expensive creams and sprays that sit, forgotten, in the medicine cabinet until they expire.  We’re trying a home-remedy.  Vinegar is my fallback for everything.  You can find websites that list hundreds of uses for vinegar.  I buy white vinegar at Walmart in the biggest jug they have for less than $3, and I use it for everything.

I remember my dad sometimes adding vinegar to a foot soak to soften dry skin.  So, I thought, why not?  If it softens skin, it has to help with the dry skin caused by Athlete’s Foot.

Foot Soak Recipe (credit owed to my dad):
Add enough vinegar to a dish tub or large rectangle container to fill it 1-inch.
Add hot water to cover your feet.
Soak for 15 minutes.
After soaking, scrub off any dead skin with a pumice stone or an old towel.
Rinse feet well.

Note:  I’ve used both apple cider vinegar and white vinegar to soak my feet.  For the Athlete’s Feet treatment we’re using white vinegar, because it seems to be more common in “cleaning/disinfecting” recipes.  

The best part:  After one soak, DH asked to have another!  Almost every night since the first he’s asked me to make him another soak.  Now, he’s reminding me!  He says his feet feel great after the soaks, and I haven’t found any stretched out socks laying around… 🙂



“Homemade” Honey

My uncle surprised us with some of his honey harvest:  a small ziploc container full of honeycomb!!  Yum.  Except, I had no idea how to get the honey out of the honeycomb.  I’ve heard of people just eating it whole and spitting out the wax… but I wanted to put it on my toast.  Squeezing worked… sort of.  I resorted to Google to find the answer.

Basically what I found was that I could squeeze the honey out and mush up the honeycomb, then put it all in a strainer (nylons were suggested) and let the honey drip out.  That sounded messy and time consuming.  The second option was to heat the honeycomb and melt the wax.  When everything cools, the wax will be on top, ready to be skimmed off,  and the honey will be on the bottom, ready to be eaten!

  • I melted the honeycomb down in a double boiler.  It only took about 15 minutes over medium heat for the wax to melt.
  • I could pull out the big chunks of wax with a disposable spoon.
  • Then I poured it back into the original container and let it cool completely.
  • When the wax hardened on top of the honey, I scraped the sides with a disposable knife and skimmed the wax off the top.

Ready for eating!!

Now my husband wants to know what fun plan I have for the leftover beeswax… Suggestions?


cleaning, DIY

Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent

When I first started using coupons, I ended up spending a lot of money on a lot of laundry detergent.  That was before I figured out that coupons don’t always make products a “good buy” — even when the blogs say it’s “rock bottom price”.  If “rock bottom” Tide is more expensive that what you would be using anyway, don’t buy it!!
Then, I noticed all the recipes for homemade laundry detergent.  I read a lot of mixed reviews and different combinations before I decided to try it for myself.  There are different brands of soap, ways to scent the detergent, the choice between liquid detergent or powder detergent… and many, many more options for you to consider.
Here is what I do:
1 cup Borax
1 cup Washing Soda
1 bar Fels-Naptha Soap
Step One:  Chop the soap up into cubes.  This soap is pretty easy to cut – I was expecting it to be harder, but I didn’t have to put a lot of effort into cutting it.
Step Two:  Add 1 cup of Borax, 1 cup of Washing Soda, and the soap cubes to a food processor.  I use my Ninja blender because it’s big enough to hold everything and mix it up really well.
Step Three:  I give the Ninja a few quick bursts (3 or 4?) and then I turn it on a let it go until all of the soap is chopped into very fine bits.

See how tiny the soap gets chopped up!!!  I store the powder in a Tide box and I use a measuring spoon to measure 1 tablespoon for each load.

I’ve been using this detergent for months and have made it several different times.  Here is what I’ve learned:
  • Powdered detergent:  I grew up using liquid Era.  That’s what I was using for my first year of homemaking.  However, I “stocked up” on some powdered Tide using my coupons and I was just as satisfied with the results.  The powdered detergent seemed a little easy to make and store.
  • Fels-Naptha soap:  I read a lot of recipes suggesting to use Ivory soap.  I also read a lot of reviews that said the Ivory soap left the clothes dingy but smelling good.  Ivory is a body soap.  Fels-Naptha is a stain-remover.  I’d rather have the stain remover in my detergent.
  • Chopping the soap:  Another hesitation I read about was how to break the soap down so that it dissolves in the wash.  A lot of commenters seemed to think that if they used a grater or food processor to chop up soap, they couldn’t use it for food anymore because everything would taste like soap.  Do we worry that washing our plates with soap will make our food taste like soap?  I don’t.  I’ve used a cheese grater and a food processor to chop up the soap and both have worked just fine afterwards.
  • Grater or Food Processor:  I have used both and found that the food processor is just so much easier to use and takes far less time.  Grating worked, but it took forever.
  • HE Washer:  I used this detergent in my old apartment sized washer.  I would start the load on “warm” for a few seconds to dissolve the soap.  When I got my new HE washer, I was worried about using this detergent.  I read that it’s fine to use in an HE  washer because it really doesn’t make any suds at all.  I was worried, however, about the soap dissolving.  Then, I learned that my new washer has this nifty feature where I can tell it to wash in cold water, but it will heat the water up at first if it’s too cold to dissolve a powdered detergent.  Very nifty.
  • Are the clothes clean?  Yes!!  And, we discovered that my husband actually loves the clean-smell that the Fels-Naptha soap gives to the detergent.  It doesn’t smell like flowers or a beach, but it does smell clean!!
  • Baby Clothes:  There are no dyes or fragrances in any of these ingredients so the detergent works great for baby clothes!


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DIY, remodel

Sneak Peak: Kitchen Update


Still to come:  wall cabinets, backsplash, lighting, and more!!
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What do you think?  
If you could change one thing in your kitchen, what would you change?  
Mine was to have a counter where I could do prep work.  Mission accomplished!!  
My husband was dying to have a faucet with a pull-down nozzle.  Check!!

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DIY Nursery: Part 1

My Nursery To-Do List: 
  • Buy crib
  • Buy changing table
  • Make crib skirt (started)
  • Make quilt (started)
  • Make bumper pads
  • Make changing pad
  • Make curtains
  • Cut and hang blinds
  • Paint window frames

 The first things we did for the nursery was to buy some furniture!  I picked the Davinci Jenny Lind Stationary Crib in Cherry.  I had every intention of buying this crib from Amazon, but I found it at a local surplus store for $65 (score!!!).  I splurged a bit on this dry sink (see left) bought at a local primitive store — but I supported local business so I think it was okay to splurge.  I plan to use this as a changing table and a dresser.

I started making the rag quilt, following the tutorial by Jubilee Fabric.  I’ve never made a quilt before.  The most complicated sewing project I ever tried was making curtains for my son’s room.

I think I’m doing a pretty good job!  I am not using batting between the layers, because my baby is due in June and I do not want a heavy quilt.  I am using mostly homespun fabric and a little bit of flannel fabric.
I also started the crib skirt.  I got Simplicity Sewing Pattern 9140 because I wanted a ruffly crib skirt and most tutorials I found online were for plain crib skirts.  The pattern also includes many other crib accessories – I may try to make bumper pads from the pattern if I have time to make them.  The crib skirt will be the red plaid fabric pictured above in the quilt.  I have all of the pieces cut out and one end panel sewn on, which I got done all in one day!  I have learned that I despise hemming, so I’ve started procrastinating a bit on the other sides of the crib skirt.  Hopefully I can get some more done with it next week!
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