Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Green Pastures Gummy Fish

Green Pastures Gummy fish will be available this month for shipping. If you have trouble getting your little rugrat to take his Cod Liver oil, this is great news. If you havent been taking Fermented Cod Liver Oil, read more about it here. You have probably seen various gummies in the store for vitamins, Echinacea and fish oil but no one has Fermented Cod Liver Oil gummies and none have this kind of power-packed nutrition! Green Pastures Gummies will have 600mg of FCLO in each of the 45 gummies in a jar. They will be using the Cinnamon Tingle flavor, which is my son's favorite. The fish are about the size of a swedish fish. Jars will retail for $35. Our price will be $30 per tub. Contact us by hitting the email link if you want to order.

Friday, December 11, 2009

How to quick soak dried beans

Dried beans are a wonderful staple for your home, but do require some planning since they need to be soaked. One way to remedy the "I forgot to soak the beans" dilemma is to use the quick soak method. Its very simple...
Take the beans you need and wash them, removing any dirt and pebbles. For every cup of beans you are cooking, use 2 cups of cold water. So, for 3 cups of beans, cover with 6 cups of water. If the pot is so big that the beans are not completely covered, add more water. Do not salt the water, this will slow the cooking process and the beans will be tough. Cover and put on high heat, bringing them to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes, then remove from heat, leaving covered and let them set for at least 1 hour. Drain and then cook as required by the recipe. Easy-Peasy.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My favorite bread pan

I bake bread nearly every day. I have for several years now and recently when I was thinking about things to be thankful for, my bread pan came to mind. Now mind you, it was pretty far down on my thankfulness list, but it was there. Mostly because I have never had a loaf of bread stick in it. Ever. This is quite a feat which I am certain most bread bakers can attest to. Its not like I carefully grease the pan before I bake or keep it remarkably clean. I don't. I spritz it a little with olive oil from my pampered chef sprayer and I pop the dough in. When the loaf comes out. I lay the pan on its side and pull a little on the loaf. Out it comes. Even better, I get a perfect crust every time. I give the pan a quick wash and dry and away it goes until the next day. The best thing about the pan was it wasn't even expensive. The pan costs $8.50 from a wonderful company called Breadbeckers. I had two pans, but a friend liked it so much, that she bought one from me. Maybe I should start selling them...

Less sugar in more cereals

If you read my posts, you know I avoid sugar as much as possible. My youngest rugrat doesn't do well with it at all and since it reduces your immune system, I avoid it even more during cold and flu season. General Mills announced that it is going to reduce the sugar content in 4 of its most popular cereals again. They will all be reduced to single digits, which is great news! Here is their announcement:
General Mills announced this week a commitment to further reduce sugar in cereals advertised to children under 12 to single digit grams of sugar per serving. The company has already been reducing sugar in cereals while increasing key nutrients, such as calcium and vitamin D, and providing whole grain.
They are offering a special coupon for their four "newly revised" cereals: Trix, Reeses Puffs, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Lucky Charms. Click on the CEREAL LINK

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Coupon Adventures 12/9

Got a great coupon for Family Christian stores this week in my email. It says to share with friends, so here you go: Family Christian Store Coupon

Its good for 25% off one item. If you haven't been in one of these stores before, you should check them out. In addition to an extensive selection of Christian fiction and non-fiction books, they have music, family friend videos and beautiful decor for the home. I did quite a bit of my Christmas shopping there last year and not only did I save there in the store, but they gave me some great coupons to use after the holidays.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Coupon Adventures 12/1

Harris Teeter ad this week:

Harris Teeter Milk 1 gallon, excluding Organic, $2.47

Red Delicious and Golden Delicious Apples, 3 lb bag, on sale BOGO for $1.99 = .66 per pound

Cucumbers on sale for .60 each

Green Peppers on sale .80 each

B1G2 EZ Peel White Shrimp ( 51-60 count) Sold in 2 lb. bag, limit 6

B1G2 HT Small Pack Fresh Boneless Chicken Breast, limit 6, approx. 1.60 lbs. per bag
* Regular Price: $7.98 each (price for 3 - $23.94)
* Sale Price (Must buy 3 to get sale price): $2.66 each
* Total for 3 = $7.98 (approx $1.66 per pound)

BOGO Oscar Mayer Bacon (12-16 ounce)
* Regular price $5.49
* Sale Price: $2.75
* Use.75 coupon (which will be doubled) from 11-15 inserts
* Total = $1.25

BOGO Skippy Peanut Butter, 15 – 16.3 oz
* Sale Price: $1.49
* Use .60/1 coupon from 11-15
* Total - .29 each

BOGO White House Applesauce, 6 pack cups
* Sale Price: $1
* Use .75/2 coupon
* Total = .50 for 2 (.25 each)

BOGO Purex or All Laundry Detergent (50 ounce)
* Regular Price: $5.99
* Sale Price: $2.99
* Use $1.00 coupon for Purex Natural Elements:
* Total = $1.99

BOGO Sargento Shredded Cheese (8 ounce)
* Regular Price: $3.29
* Sale Price: $1.65
* Use .40/2 coupon from 11-15 inserts
* Total for 2 bags = $2.50 ($1.25 each)

BOGO Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats (14.5-18 ounce)
* Regular Price: $3.49
* Sale Price: $1.75
* Use $1.00 printable coupon for Frosted Mini Wheats
* Total = .75

BOGO Pepsi Products Fridge Mate (12 pack cans)
* Regular Price: $5.99
* Sale Price: $2.99

BOGO All 2x Laundry Detergent
* Regular Price: $6.29
* Sale Price: $3.14 each
* Use .40/1 coupon: HERE

BOGO Millstone Coffee (10-12 ounce)
* Regular Price: $8.95
* Sale Price: $4.48

BOGO Bayer Aspirin, 24 – 36 count
* Regular Price: $3.79
* Sale Price: $1.89
* Use $1.00/1 coupon from 10-25 inserts
* Total = .89

BOGO Nature’s Pride 100% Whole Wheat Bread, 20 oz Sale Price: $1.34

BOGO Birds Eye Voila
* Regular Price: $5.15 each
* Sale Price: $2.57 each
* Use $1.00/2 coupon from 11-8 inserts
* Total for 2 = $5.15 ($2.08 each)

BOGO Blistex Lip Balm
* Sale Price: .49
* Use .25/1 coupon from 11-15 inserts
* Total = FREE!

7-up 2 ltrs $1.00 each

Pepsi Products 2 ltrs $1.00 each

BOGO Arnold Wide Pan Breads (24 ounce)

BOGO Blueberries, Raspberries, & Blackberries (6 ounce)

BOGO Tostitos Family Size Chips (14.5-18 ounce)

Snow Crab Clusters on sale $3.99/lb.

Tilapia Filets on sale $3.99/lb.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Coupon Adventures 12/4

Staples is offering a nice little deal right now where you buy a 16 +4 bonus pack of AA or AAA Duracell Batteries and use your Staples Reward card and you get the amount of purchase back in Staples Rewards to spend later as you wish. There is a limit of 2 per customer. If you have a Duracell coupon, this sweetens the deal, making you a money! This offer is good through Christmas, but only while supplies last, so grab them before they are gone!

Smart source had a $0.50/1 available and there is a $1.00/1 inside specially marked packages.

If you have empty HP ink cartridges Staples is doubling rewards for returning them to the store. This is an extra $6 in rewards for you to spend. If you purchase your ink there, they offer an additional 20% back in rewards on HP right now with a $50 purchase. This will cut your cost in half if you are buying their $57 combo pack.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Manhattan Declaration

I just finished reading and signing The Manhattan Declaration (MD), and I urge you to do the same. The Manhattan Declaration is a document affirming the sanctity of human life, the sanctity of marriage, and the rights of conscience and religious liberty. All three of these items are under siege in our culture today, so a group of Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians have drafted this statement and call upon others to defend life, marriage, and religious liberty.

You really should read the entire document, but I would like to highlight the end, which clearly states my position dead-on:

“Because we honor justice and the common good, we will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other anti-life act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family. We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.”

The bold emphasis is mine of course, but clearly states where I personally am in all of this. I understand that if the government chooses to impose more taxes on me to fund their programs, than I am morally and ethically bound to abide by those when I submit to the leadership of my country. I also understand that all people in this glorious country of mine have the right to choose paths that I don't agree with. I don't however, have to agree with them and should not be required to support them with my tax dollars if they are unethical. I cannot support something that is in complete opposition to what my Lord and Savior calls me to protect. Life is sacred, Marriage is sacred and I will not go against that very basic principle. I think this is why its such a volatile issue in this country. In today's America however, this traditional view is falling by the wayside as our government intervenes more and more in our lives to equalize society. Much of this is done in the name of tolerance.

Tolerance in the Miriam Webster dictionary is defined as: a sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one's own. In today's political climate we are told that tolerance means that all individual beliefs, lifestyles and truth claims are of equal value. This simply is NOT true. This kind of tolerance condemns discernment and says you need to accept all truth claims and lifestyles as if they were your own. Its asking you to make your worldview one that accepts every kind of thinking and all other worldviews. Yet this new type of tolerance goes beyond just respecting other worldviews. It also demands that I not impose my worldview on anyone else. It means that I will be labeled intolerant for attempting to share Christ with others. I must abandon my worldview because it is socially offensive, while Buddhists, New Agers and Hindus, etc., do not have to because their faiths are all-inclusive. In the past we were taught to study opposing truths and evaluate them. Now we are to study and appreciate them; no deep thought required.

As the political climate changes it has gone beyond being asked to tolerate these views. Now we are being asked to support them monetarily through taxation. This is where I feel compelled, like many other Americans, to draw a line in the sand. The Manhattan Declaration is just one of many attempts by conservatives to stand up to what I would like to label as oppression. For so many years we turned the other cheek as the morality of our nation started to fall. But no longer. We must stand before its too late. "If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all." Isaiah 7:9 NIV

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sharon's Best Baked Beans

I have been trying to master making baked beans from scratch for sometime. Our favorite brand is Bush's and while I love the flavor, I have never appreciated the ingredients that are typically included. I started experimenting with navy beans several months ago and I finally think I have a recipe worth sharing. They take a while to make, but the end result is really yummy and if you like Bush's you should enjoy these.

2 cups dried navy beans
8 cups of chicken broth(divided)
1/2 cup chopped onion
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 cup molasses granules(I get these through our Bread Beckers Co-op)
2 tsp mustard powder
2 T chili powder(I use homemade, if using store bought, whatever tastes best for you)
2 T liquid smoke
5 slices nitrite free bacon

Soak your beans overnight in water. In the morning, drain and replace water with 4 cups of chicken broth. I use home canned broth, so its unsalted. You should avoid adding any salt at this stage of the cooking process as salt slows the softening of the beans. Before pouring the broth over the beans, I remove the fat from the surface and place that in another pot to saute the onion and garlic. If the broth doesn't cover the beans, add some water. Bring the beans to a boil, reduce to a simmer and allow to cook until they are nearly tender. In the meantime, you can saute the onions and garlic in the chicken fat or a little olive oil(a tablespoon will suffice). Once they are starting to caramelize, pour all of it into a large 7qt crock pot. Spread out in the bottom and sprinkle the molasses granules over them. Add the mustard powder and chili powder and then the liquid smoke. Lay the slices of uncooked bacon over this, put the lid on and turn the crock on high. The bacon will begin to cook and the seasonings will meld together and form a nice sauce.

When the beans are just about done, the liquid will be almost gone. Pour the entire pot into the crock pot and stir everything together. Let the beans continue to cook on high in the crock pot until everything thickens and the beans are fully cooked.  Allow to cool and then refrigerate. The next morning, add 4 more cups of broth and cook on high again until liquid is gone and they have a thick sauce. Season to taste with sea salt(about 2 tsp) and pepper and a little more chili powder if it needs a little kick.
The beans are ready to eat. There are some ways to vary this recipe(see below).

1. When sauteing the vegetables, add a 1/2 cup of chopped red peppers. Finish as directed.

2. When sauteing the vegetables, add some chopped green chilies and eliminate the chili powder. Finish as directed

3. When the beans are poured into the crock pot. Add a package of diced hot dogs to the mix. Finish as directed.

4. for a more tomato-based sauce, add about 1/4 cup of tomato paste when you put the beans in the crockpot. Finish as directed.

4. When the beans are finished, ladle several scoops into a 11x17 pan, covering the bottom inch of the pan. Make up a batch of drop biscuit batter and spread over the top of the beans. Bake at 400 degrees until the biscuits are browned. You can also sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese on top of the biscuits during the last 5 minutes of cooking.

This post is a part of Fight Back Fridays by Food Renegade

Friday, October 23, 2009

Parental Rights are in jeopardy

This topic has been kept out of plain sight, but prominent Senators want to see the UN Rights for the Child Treaty ratified and enforced in the United States. This means that the government will have the right to make decisions about how you raise, discipline and educate your child. It sounds pretty far-fetched, doesn't it? But its true. Check out this clip from the news show Huckabee.

Hard to believe, but before you can blink an eye, it could be happening regularly. The cases Mike Farris mentions are happening now, without this treaty. What it passes, they will be a regular occurrence.

This issue won't just affect Christians or Homeschoolers or kids in private schools. It will affect EVERYONE. No religion is safe, spanking will become illegal, you will find that you have no say in what you want for your children. has more information about the Constitutional Amendment that would negate this treaty. It also shows you how you can get involved.

On November 14th, we are hosting a Parental Rights Conference in Asheville, NC. It will be held at Biltmore Baptist Church from 10am till 2:30 pm. If you are interested in joining us, please contact the church office at 828-687-1111 or visit the website for further information about the conference and a down loadable registration form

Monday, September 28, 2009

Amish Apple Pancake

6 large brown eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup soft wheat flour
1 tsp canning salt
1/4 t ground nutmeg(optional)
6 T butter

2 tart baking apples, peeled, cored and sliced
4 T butter
4 T sugar(sucanet or molasses granules work great)
1 T lemon juice

Put 3 T butter into two 10x13 pans. Place in the oven at the rack just above the lowest position and set at 425 degrees.

Meanwhile, mix eggs, flour, salt and milk in mixer(or a blender). Beat on high till frothy. Batter will be somewhat thin. Once butter is melted in pans, tilt pan from side to side to distribute on the bottom of the pans. Pour pancake batter into the two pans, distributing evenly. Place in oven at next to lowest rack. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes until center is firm and pancake puffs up at edges and is brown. Pancake will puff up very high around edges and stay low in the middle.

While baking the pancake, make the topping. IN a medium saucepan, take apples, butter and sugar and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until apples are tender and syrup begins to caramelize.

When pancake is done, slice into squares and place on plates and spoon topping over pancake.

Also delicious with a strawberry or blueberry sauce, powdered sugar or syrup.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Vinegar does a body good

Talking with a friend recently I was reminded of a wonderful tonic that can easily be made and stored in the refrigerator at home. This tonic is very soothing and is wonderful for nervous stomach, acid reflux, depression and the general blah feelings that come with winter and the shorter days. A tablespoon of ACV(Apple Cider Vinegar) contains 11 mg of Potassium. Potassium has several jobs; it helps control the amount of water in the cells of our body, assists in regulating our heartbeat, helps control our blood pressure, and is critical to our muscle function. While there isn't a standard RDA for Potassium, most recommendations are between 2000 and 3000 mg a day. Now you can't drink that much vinegar without getting an upset stomach, but it certainly helps.

The recipe below is packed with natural ingredients containing high levels of antioxidants, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties and can be altered slightly to add additional benefits.

Winter Tonic
1 cup raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar(I like Braggs)
1 cup raw unfiltered honey(local honey is best)
In a mason jar, combine vinegar and honey. Close the jar and swirl around until the cider and honey blend well. Do not shake or you will end up with a frothy mess. You can stir this with a wooden spoon if you desire. Keep stirring until the honey completely dissolves into the vinegar. They will blend well without heat. Keep this tonic in the fridge. You can take a tablespoon straight up or add to a cup of warm water or cool water. It makes a nice tea(reminds me of lemon honey water), but be sure not to make the water too hot or it kills the enzymes that are so good for you. Also similar to lemonade if you take in cold water. Take 1 to 3 times a day. Its great for an upset tummy. I have read that its good for anything from headaches and stomach aches to chronic fatigue, depression and arthritis-even weight loss! Start slow(it can have laxative-like and/or detoxification properties), with one tablespoon a day and use enough water to suit your taste. See how your stomach responds to it. Since it kills bacteria, it may give you some stomach issues as first. If so, reduce to a teaspoon until your body adjusts and then gradually increase the dosage. I recommend 1 tablespoon of the tonic to 8oz of good quality water up to three times a day.

Winter Spiced Tonic
Another variation of this health tonic is to add cinnamon. Get a good quality real cinnamon, not the junk you get for $1 at the local five and dime. You can add one 1 teaspoon of cinnamon to the mixture above if desired. Cinnamon is said to lower your blood sugar and combined with honey and vinegar is even more powerful at doing this so use with caution if you have low blood sugar issues. Cinnamon is known to be good for the circulatory system, excellent for treating arthritis, hair loss and many other health benefits. Do some research of your own and see if you would benefit from trying this. I know you can overdo on cinnamon, particularly if you aren't using a high-quality brand, so make sure you research this before trying it at home.

Yet another variation of the Winter Tonic which is good for fighting illness is made this way:

Feel Well Tonic
1 cup raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar
1 cup raw, unfiltered honey
8 cloves of fresh garlic
Put all the ingredients in the food processor and process until the garlic is completely pulverized. Pour into a jar, seal and place in the refrigerator for a week, allowing the antibiotic properties of the garlic to mix with the honey and vinegar. Take 1 tsp with a glass of water or juice each morning to keep illnesses at bay all winter long. Store in your refrigerator. It should keep all winter.

Lemon-like "tea"
One of my favorite ways to take ACV
Boil some water in a kettle. Fill your cup and add 1-2 T of Braggs ACV and 1-2 T of raw honey. Stir to dissolve the honey. Drink. YUM!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Green Pastures

I was very excited today to find out that I am now approved as a reseller of Green Pastures Blue Ice products. They carry a wonderful selection of fermented oil products that are not exposed to heat or other processes that speed extraction. As a result they are extremely high in vitamin A and D as well as all the enzymes, vitamins and other nutrients that occur naturally within the products. Products available are Butter Oil, Cod Liver Oil, Skate Oil and Coconut Oils and Ghee.

I discovered these products when I was exploring the nutritional deficiencies that can cause ADD and other processing disorders. Cod liver oil(CLO) is a nutritional supplement derived from the liver of cod fish. It has high levels of the omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, and is very high in levels of vitamin A and vitamin D. While there are many forms of CLO on the market, most are extracted using manufacturing processes that require heat and remove a lot of the benefits of taking this supplement. Green Pasture Blue Ice products are fermented. The definition of fermentation is "breaking down into simpler components". Fermentation makes foods easier to digest and nutrients easier to assimilate since much of the work of digestion is done for you. Another words, fermentation improves absorption and more of the benefits are left for you to absorb! Hundreds of years ago, CLO was given in this form. It was a standard supplement across the world. The process of fermentation was abandoned for quicker and less costly methods of extraction. While these qualities benefit the manufacturer and consumer cost-wise, the nutritional benefits are greatly reduced. After reading about this supplement, I decided to order some for my son. The amount of focus he gained in the first month was extraordinary. He now takes it daily and it is a part of his routine. He even recognizes that difference if he forgets to take it.

I try to keep this page pricing current, but to see more up to date pricing, visit our "other products" page:

If you are interested in ordering these products, please contact me directly. Some pricing is below:

Liquid Cod Liver Oil:

Available in Plain, Cinnamon Tingle, Oslo Orange, Peppermint and Arctic Mint  flavors(Skate Liver Oil has similar pricing)
The liquid CLO in 240-237ml bottles is

$43 each plus tax/shipping (discounts available for 6 or more of the same product)

The CLO capsules(120 capsules per bottle)

$31 each plus tax/shipping (discounts available for 6 or more of the same product)

Emulsified Cod Liver Oil:
Available in Licorice and Peppermint flavors
These emulsified gel CLO's come in 237 ml bottles
$43 each plus tax/shipping(discounts available for 6 or more of the same product)

Cod Liver Oil/Butter Oil Combo:
 Available in Chocolate, Cinnamon Tingle or Plain flavors
The emulsified CLO/BO Mixes come in 240ml bottles

$48 each plus tax/shipping 
(discounts available for 6 or more of the same product)

The CLO/BO capsules are slightly less

$38 each plus tax/shipping 

(discounts available for 6 or more of the same product)

Shipping/Payment information Sales tax is charged within NC, shipping is actual cost, no mark up. Orders of Green Pastures CLO/BO products over $250 to one address in the continental US will get half off their shipping. We cannot extend free shipping for coconut oil products. Email me for an actual quote for your location/order. We take payment via personal check or through Paypal via personal payment. Email candlerfoods at charter dot net.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Coupon Adventures 9/17

Harris Teeter is doing triples again and I headed over to do a quick shop.
The GM deal came around again and really gives you the potential to do a great shop

Purchase 15 GM items and get $5 off of your order.
Also two catalina deals sweeten the profits

Old El Paso buy 6 get $3 oyno
Green Giant Boxed veggies, buy 5 get $3 oyno

Using the mfr coupons on the green giant veggies and the printable for Old ElPaso along with getting a few deals near free in the GM package and you have yourself a nice pile of food for very little money. I plan to roll the catalinas over next week after the GM deal is over.

5 Green giant veggies$.99-2 $.50/2=$1.95
4 OEP $.79x6-$.60/2=free
2 OEP dinner kits 2.00x2-.60x2=$2.80
2 warm delights $1.66-2$.50/1=$.32
3 Biscuits$.80-2 $.75/3=.15

-$5 gm deduction
plus two cats for $3

This brings your total over $5 allowing for the GM deduction. You pay .47 plus tax.
There were several other freebies to be had, but stock was low. I did snag some really cheap Truvia 2.59 - 2.25 (.75) and a some of the green giant canned veggies. Overall a good time to stock up on vegetables!!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Creamy Italian Chicken

2 T olive oil
4 boneless chicken breasts, chopped
1 red pepper
1 medium sweet onion
1 medium zucchini
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 8 oz bottle italian dressing
1 8oz container of ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
8oz bag of wacky mac veggie spirals

Set out a large crockpot and turn on to heat crock. In a large skillet, heat your oil. Add chicken sauteing till lightly browned. Spoon meat into crockpot and return pan to stove. Add pepper, onion and zucchini and saute until tender, add garlic and saute additional 2 minutes. Add to crockpot. Pour dressing over chicken veggie mixture and toss lightly. Cover and cook on low until chicken is tender. Lower heat to warm and add ricotta and parmesan cheese, stirring to mix well with the liquid that is in the crockpot from the cooking veggies and meat. Cover and allow the cheese to melt and heat through. Cook pasta and drain.
Serve ladling sauce and meat/veggie mix over pasta.


With all the dietary issues around here, finding a sweetener that is affordable, natural and something I can work with is a challenge. Stevia has been around for a while but has had a bad rap because at first the FDA wouldn't approve it(they finally did in winter of 2008) and also because of the bitter aftertaste. It's also difficult to work with because you need so little to sweeten something so you have to adjust your recipes to compensate for the lack of dry ingredients when you replace sugar. It won't caramelize either so you don't always get the effect you want. Despite all this, I find it quite useful. Its doesn't alter your blood sugar and it doesn't have any GMO dangers. Its safe for my allergy-ridden son AND I can grow it myself.

I admit I have attempted to grow it in the past. Previous varieties that I have grown from seed have been quite bitter and the plants have not done well here in NC. Last year I found a new variety called Crazy Sweet Stevia from Richter's Herbs that is doing very well. I recently started my first jar of extract from the very healthy plants and hope to bring several of the plants in for the winter so I will have a good start in the spring. Stevia can be started from seed or propagated from existing plants. Since our growing season is shorter, I plan to pot for indoors and propagate this winter and put out several plants next spring. I will let you know how that goes.

Monday, August 10, 2009

How to make an Extract

While paying for the convenience of ready-made extracts can be nice, it can be costly. Even the extracts you use to flavor your favorite recipes are very expensive. If you use extracts to supplement your daily diet or use them regularly for medicinal purposes, the costs can really add up. Making your own extracts will save you hundreds and possibly thousands of dollars.

This is the simplest way to make your own liquid extracts in your own home. Start with a clean mason jar with a lid, the herbs of your choice and a good grain alcohol that is over 90 proof(Everclear or a good vodka is best). If you can use fresh herbs, that is best as well. Fresh material is always preferred but availability is determined by your abilities to grow them, the climate, available stores, etc and many quality herbs may not be available. It is unlikely that you have vanilla seed pods in your back garden, so do the best you can :) If you cannot locate fresh materials, be sure to get good quality, organic herbs from a reputable supplier. Also, you will not want to use a powdered herb for making an extract. It is difficult to filter out the plant matter at the end of the steeping period.

If you are using fresh material, remove the part you will need(leaves, stems, root) and put in the glass jar. Next, pour the grain alcohol or Vodka over the herbs. Completely cover the herbal material. If you are using dried herbs you will need to add more alcohol over the next day or two as the dried herbs absorb and expand. Keep this expansion in mind as you fill your jar at the beginning. A good ratio for dried material is about 1 part herb to 5 parts alcohol. After you have added the alcohol, cover with a new, tight-fitting lid. It is best to use a new canning lid. Reusing old commercial jars can lead to contamination of your extract.

Shake well and place the jar in brown paper bag(to protect it from light) & allow the herbs to soak for 1 to 2 months in a cool dark place. Shake every few days. I like to keep my extracts in a cubby on my desk. Each morning when I check my email, I shake the jars. The alcohol will extract the active compounds from the herbs. After 4 to 8 weeks, strain the herbs. Use a large sieve or strainer lined with a fine mesh cloth or cheesecloth placed over a large bowl or container. Allow all the liquid to drain out. If you are using a fine material, you can tightly squeeze the material to extract every last drop from the cloth. The herbal material left over that is saturated contains a lot of active medicinal compounds so do your best to extract all the liquid. If you want to remove the alcoholic content as well, you can gently heat the liquid to do so. Allow the solution to cool, then funnel the liquid into smaller bottles, preferably amber or cobalt bottles and store your tinctures in a cool dark place. Its that simple! You have now made your own herbal extract for a fraction of the price you would have paid at the store. Your extracts will keep for 3-5 years! Enjoy!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Garden Abundance: Jalapeño Peppers

One of the vegetables people often find in abundance and don't know how to deal with them is Jalapeño peppers. You only use a few in salsas and beyond that, most people aren't sure what to do with them. One of our favorite condiments is a recipe that I adapted from a banana pepper recipe years ago. My aunt met a guy that did the banana peppers this way and I decided that it made perfect sense to handle my jalapenos the same way as well. While I can't guarantee that these meet USDA canning standards, I can tell you that I make them and they last years without any visible signs of problems and we finished of a two year old jar just last week without any ill effects. The thing I like the most about this recipe is that you can make one jar or 20. It's totally based on how many peppers you have. My most favorite way to eat them is atop a slice of cheese pizza, fresh from the oven. We dice them and sprinkle on top of it after baking. They are also good on Thai foods(the classic sweet/hot taste) and I like them on nachos as well. If you make these and come up with another way to enjoy them, please let me know!

Sweet n' Hot Peppers (Hungarian, banana, chile, jalapeno-any kind)

* All the jalapeno peppers you want to fix
* Equal amounts of brown sugar and apple cider vinegar

To avoid severe burns, wear rubber gloves when handling hot peppers. After handling peppers, wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching your face.

Wash peppers. Remove tops and any bad spots. Slice in 1/8-1/4" slices. We keep the seeds in so its extra hot, but you can remove them if you like. Once you have an idea of how many jars your peppers will fill, prepare enough of the syrup mixture to fill your pint or half pint jars.

Put the clean jars in your canner full of water to get them hot, bringing this water to a boil. Measure out your brown sugar and vinegar in a non-reactive sauce pan and bring that to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and heat for about 5-10 minutes so all the sugar is dissolved. When everything is ready, fill the hot jars to with pepper slices-don't pack them, but you can shake them down to within 1/2" of rim. Ladle hot syrup mixture over the peppers leaving 1/2-inch head space.

Adjust lids

Recommended processing times for hot peppers in a boiling-water canner
Raw pack

* Process 1/2 pint or pint jars
o 10 minutes at 0 to 1,000 feet in altitude
o 15 minutes at 1001 to 6,000 feet in altitude

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Southwest Corn Relish

This is a great compliment to a burger or cold meat tray. Great as a salsa with chips as well. Try it on your meats! My father likes to have it with tuna.

Southwest Corn Relish
12 ears of fresh corn
3 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
1 cup red onion, chopped
1 cup sweet red pepper, chopped4 cloves of garlic, minced
3 cups apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup demarara(or evaporated cane juice)
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp ground coriander

To Can: Bring large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add corn and cover. Cook for 6 minutes. Drain and cool. With sharp knife cut kernels from cob to measure 8 cups. Put in large stainless steel or enamel saucepan. Add remaining ingredients except coriander. Bring to a boil over high heat and reduce heat to a gentle boil. Cook uncovered for 20 minutes. Stir in coriander and cook 2 more minutes. Remove from heat.
Ladle relish into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch head space. Process 15 minutes for half pints, 25 minutes for pints in HW bath.

For Fresh: Bring large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add corn and cover. Blanch for 2-3 minutes. Remove promptly and submerge in cold water to cool. With sharp knife cut kernels from cob to measure 8 cups. Chop remaining vegetables and add to corn. Set aside(I refrigerate) In stainless steel or enamel saucepan, add remaining ingredients except coriander. Bring to a boil over high heat and reduce heat to a gentle boil. Cook for 5 minutes until sugar is dissolved. Stir in coriander and cook 2 more minutes. Set aside, allowing to cool. Once cool, and flavors of garlic and seasonings have melded, pour over vegetable mixture. Tastes better as the vegetables marinate, so cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Makes approximately 10 cups of relish.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Roasted Tomato, Basil, and Goat Cheese Spread

Makes about 2 cups of spread

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 cup frozen basil, thawed
6 oz. goat cheese (chevre)
1/4 cup cream

Soak the tomatoes in hot water for 10 minutes to soften. Put tomatoes food processor and pulse until tomatoes are chopped add basil and pulse a few more times until mixture is well combined. Remove tomato/basil mixture to a bowl.

Put cheese and cream in processor bowl and pulse until mixture is blended. Put cheese mixture in the bowl with tomato/basil mixture and gently combine. Chill mixture for a few hours before serving. Great with Triscuits, French bread, or whole wheat pita triangles.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Garden Abundance-Zucchini

Zucchini Chips

Trim off ends of washed zucchini. If they are too large to put through the food chute on your food processor, cut them in quarters lengthwise. Using a food processor slicing attachment, run zucchini through to create thin slices.
Spread these out in your dehydrator trays and sprinkle liberally with garlic salt(mix 2 tsp garlic with 1tsp sea salt). Dry for several hours then turn the chips over to prevent them from sticking too much to the trays. Dry until crispy. Store in airtight container to prevent them from reabsorbing moisture. YUM!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Garden Abundance-Zucchini

Ever walked out to your garden and found a zucchini the size of Texas hiding in a corner? Everyone knows someone with an abundance of this green garden staple. Here is a great way to use some up and its delicious!

Zucchini Squares
3 cups grated zucchini
1 cup biscuit mix
1/2 cup finely chopped onion(sweet)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried pepper
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
2 T chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 olive oil
4 eggs lightly beaten

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well. Pour into greased 13 x 9 baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until knife comes out clean and top is lightly browned. Cut into squares and serve.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Coupon Adventures 7/23

Harris Teeter is doing Super Doubles this week. That means they will double coupons up to $1.99. Here are some freeebies you could get there. I plan to stop for foil and coffee :) If I find any more, I will post later...

Bumble Bee Tuna Pouch (2.5oz.): $1.99 - $1.00 coupon doubled  = FREE!
(coupon from 6/14 SmartSource insert) 
Heluva Good Dips: $1.49 - $.75 coupon doubled = FREE!
(coupon from 5/17 or 6/28 SmartSource insert)
Kellogg's Pop-Tarts (8ct.): $2.39 - $1.00 coupon doubled = $0.39
(coupon from 6/7 RedPlum insert)

Reynolds Wrap Heavy Duty Foil (35-50sq.ft.): $2.97 - $1.00 coupon doubled = $0.97
(coupon from 6/28 SmartSource)
Wholly Guacamole Dip 7 oz:  $1.99 - $1 coupon doubled = FREE
(coupon from 6/28 SmartSource)

Mayfield Ice Cream -- $1.99 ea -- w/$1.00 q = FREE
Penquin Tearpads in some stores

New England Cofee-- $ 3.24(b1g1) ea —w/$1.00 q= FREE!!!!
sign up for coupon here.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Coupon Adventures 7/20

Food Lion deals went well today:
1 package of Duncan Hines cupcake mix
1 package of papertowels(360 brand)
2 packages of Chinet dinner plates
2 packages of Chinet lunch plates
1 bottle of healthy accents Hydrogen peroxide
1 bottle of diet coke

Subtotal; $17.26(before tax)

$1.00 off Duncan Hines cake mix(FLIP)
$1.00 off chinet
$1.00 off chinet
Free lunch plates ifyou buy dinner plates($2.99)
free lunch plates if you buy dinner plates($2.99)
$1.00 off home 360 product (FLIP)
$1.00 off healthy accents product(FLIP)
$5.98 off for plates(sales price)
$ .36 off for paper towels(sales price)

Total out of pocket: $ .51

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Coupon adventures 7/19

I was excited to see more school supplies free after ECB's at CVS this week, so I went today(Sunday) to get them since I know they will run out quickly. I had several ECB's from last weeks couponing. CVS offered free spiral notebooks, pens and several other items. I also had ECB's from the arthritis Tylenol that made me $1 per box. In the store I picked up 2 packages of filler paper, 1 package of panty liners, 2 packages of pens, 2 packages of pencils, 2 bottles of shampoo, 2 memo pads and then went hunting for the 1" binders that were supposed to be free after ECB's. I couldn't find these, so I found the manager and asked if they had them. He said no but could substitute another binder. He found me two Avery 1" binders and had the cashier ring them up as free since the other ones would have been free after ECB's. I love it when the manager does that because I don't have to keep worrying about whether or not my ECB's are expiring! I checked out and after using last weeks ECBS I paid .89 for the items I got and received $12.94 in ECB's for my next shopping trip!

Here is how it looked:
2 pkgs filler paper: $4.00
2 pkgs of pens: $1.98
1 pkg panti liners: $ .89
2 pkgs of pencils: $3.98
2 bottles of Violage shampoo: $3.99
2 Avery Binders: $ 0.00
2 memo notepads: $1.98

Subtotal $17.++

Coupons Used:
$1 coupon off of Violage
$1 coupon off of Violage
$ .99 ECB
$1.00 ECB
$1.00 ECB
$4.00 ECB
$9.00 ECB

Total out of pocket: .89

Received these new coupons:
.89 ECB(panty liners)
1.98 ECB(memo pads)
$1.98 ECB(pens)
$5 off $25 coupon

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Learning Styles

Knowing your child's learning style is important. With this information, you can truly enhance the communication in your home because you will gain a tool to speak their language. If you know their learning style, as a homeschooling mom, you can determine why certain products can enhance your child’s learning style and strengthen their weaker learning styles.

The best way for children to learn is to play. One of the ways to make play engaging and effective is to understand how to match a toy with a child’s learning style, to best engage the child, and more importantly, to help experiences that will enable a child to develop additional learning styles. When children develop more than one learning style, they can increase their understanding and retention. Allow me to explain; when a child learns about the letter C visually, by seeing it on a blackboard, for instance, a neural pathway is laid down in the brain. When that child also learns about the letter "C", auditorily, by sounding it out, another neural pathway is laid down in a different place in the brain. And if a child lays his body down in the shape of the letter "C", kinesthetically, a third neural pathway is laid down in the brain. That is three pathways for learning the same thing. Can you see what an edge in learning this would be?

Let me give you another example: suppose you’ve just purchased a new desk. You know, the kind you have to put together at home? It comes in fifty separate pieces, accompanied by an instruction booklet to help you assemble it. How do you manage this? If you need to start working with the parts physically, you’re probably a kinesthetic learner. If reading the instructions clarifies things for you, you are most likely visual. If you can put it together if you ask someone to tell you how, you are probably primarily an auditory learner.

It is important to know that people use all three learning modes every day, yet usually there is one dominant learning style by which each of us can best access information. It is also good to remember that people tend to revert to their dominant learning style when strong emotions such as anger, sadness or embarrassment prevail or when there is stress or school. It’s the difference between learning and loving to learn or reading and loving to read!

Isn't loving to learn the goal? When you can, try to teach your child through their dominant learning style and practice using the weaker learning styles on less stressful topics.

This can start at a very early age. For example lets using reading a book. Cuddle a child on your lap and let him turn the pages. Books that normallly appeal to visual and auditory learners now satisfy the needs of a kinesthetic learner. I will admit that the ambitious helper may not let you finish reading the page before turning, but the important thing is that they are participating, which is important to a kinesthetic learner. Even children with learning challenges, such as dyslexia, can often overcome such barriers and become voracious readers with a little cuddle and some interaction.

The Quiz
Since how you learn can play an important roll in homeschooling or any schooling for that matter, its important to identify that primary learning style. It helps you to know what tools will be best when teaching him/her. A child that is completely auditory in learning style will not do well reading from a textbook on a daily basis and a kinesthetic learning doesn't want to look at a diagram, they want to do it themselves. The quiz below will help you to identify your child's learning style a little better and hopefully direct your efforts when teaching picking a curriculum or teaching a difficult concept.

Learning Styles Quiz
This quiz was designed to help you determine your child’s natural learning style. Circle all answers that apply.

1. When my child is learning something new, he/she:
a) Says “show me.”
b) Needs to listen and/or talk it through.
c) Gets his or her hands on it.

2. The activities my child enjoys most are:
a) Playing computer games or watching videos or movies.
b) Listening to the radio or tapes and CD’s.
c) Outdoor games and sports.

3. My child expresses his/her feelings by:
a) Making facial expressions.
b) Talking about them.
c) Using touch or her body instead of words.

4. When placed in an unfamiliar setting, my child:
a) Warms up slowly.
b) Joins right in.
c) Relates to others with his or her body instead of words.

5. As a baby, my child:
a) Especially enjoyed looking at things.
b) Babbled a lot.
c) Often needed to be held.

6. My child’s personality can be best described as:
a) Not very emotional outwardly.
b) Very dramatic, enjoys having an audience.
c) Sensitive, with easily hurt feelings.

7. My child is easily distracted by:
a) Color and movement.
b) Voices and music.
c) Movement and sounds.

8. My child prefers:
a) Looking at things, being an observer.
b) Listening and talking.
c) Touching things, engaging in activities involving movement.

9. The skills that are strongest in my child are his/her:
a) Fine motor skills (i.e. holding small pieces, coloring, etc.).
b) Ability to follow directions.
c) Eye-hand coordination.

Count all the “a”, “b”, and “c” answers. Mostly “a” answers, indicate a visual learner, “b” answers indicate an auditory learner, mostly “c” answers indicate a kinesthetic learner.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Free music download from 33 Miles

"Jesus Calling" from 33 Miles is a great song. We saw them during Summerfest last week and they sound just as awesome in person as they do on my MP3! Right now, you can get their song "Jesus Calling" for free on

Jesus Calling
What do you see when you look at your world today?
Is it so full of clutter that you feel like you're going insane?
And you can't fight back 'cause you're just too afraid
And it seems like the clouds in your sky don't wanna change
You see there's always another story, another side to every coin
And how you see your circumstance is all about a choice

When you see the rushing wind, feel the pouring rain
Hear the thunder now as the clouds roll in
You're blinded by the lightning
Do you also hear that still, small voice saying
"It's okay you're not alone
You may be scared to death but I won't let you go"
You may think the sky above is falling
But can you hear Jesus calling?

What do you see when you look at your world today?
Do you see a glimmer of hope, or has it all turned to gray?
Well start by counting your blessings one by one
Oh and I'm sure right there, you'll start to see the sun
You see there's always another story, another side to every coin
And how you see your circumstance is all about a choice

Because the darker the night, the brighter He can shine

Spaghetti with Spinach Pesto

Spinach can be found in abundance in my garden. This is a quick way to provide dinner and use some of that fresh sweet bounty in the garden. We sometimes cook turkey or chicken sausages sauteed with other fresh vegetables like red and green pepper and sweet onions and add to the pasta. It makes a colorful and healthy meal that is ready in under 20 minutes.

Spinach pesto
8oz box of spaghetti(or other pasta)
3 cups of spinach
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup of olive oil
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Start a large pot of water to cook your spaghetti. Once spaghetti is cooking, put the remaining ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Add a little water(if necessary) to get desired consistency. Pour over cooked and drained pasta and toss to mix. Serve immediately.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Free books

I have mentioned before how I love to garden and the idea of being self-sufficient is a dream I strive to attain on a daily basis. I recently discovered some classic gardening books online at a site called Scribd. In addition to making it possible to upload documents for sharing, others have taken classic books and made them available to us. Some of these books are completely free to download as pdf's(and sometimes text files) to your computer. Once downloaded, they are at your fingertips for reference whenever you need them. I suppose you could print them out, but the books I was looking at were over 200 pages, so I doubt I will ever be willing to spare that much ink(unless of course it was free as well)! Having the pdf files at my desk are good enough for me and adding these wonderful treasures to my gardening library thrilled me to pieces!

Vegetable Garden Encyclopedia

Self Sufficient Gardener

And the Classic: Complete book of Self Sufficiency

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Coupon Adventures 7/12

CVS deals this week are worth a run to the store:

3 Day Sale – Sunday(tomorrow), Monday and Tuesday Only

Caliber or CVS/pharmacy 1 subject notebook 70-80 sheet $.99
Get $.99 extra care bucks (Limit 2)
Final price FREE

Paper Mate Grip pens 8ct $.99
Get $.99 Extra care buck (Limit 3)
Final price FREE

Caliber or CVS/pharmacy school glue 5oz $.99
Get $.99 extra care bucks (limit 2)
Final price FREE

Caliber or CVS/pharmacy 12″ plastic or wood ruler $.99
Get $.99 extra care buck (limit 2)
Final price FREE

Caliber or It’s Academic 5″ pointed or blunt tip scissors $2.99
Get $2.99 Extra care bucks (Limit 2)
Final price FREE

Caliber or CVS/pharmacy 3-subject 120 sheets or 5-subject 180 sheets notebook $3.99
Get $3 Extra care bucks (Limit 2)
Final price $.99

Fusion Razor $7.99
Get $3 ECB's(limit one)
Use the $4 mfr coupon, making it .99

Also have Tylenol Arthritis for $.99 after ecb's and there are $2 mfr coupons out from a few weeks ago, making this a money-maker(limit 3)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Writing a Biographical Poem

This is a fun project for school and the results are almost always wonderful. We have used this method to produce a poem that can be written in calligraphy and framed to give as a gift. It is something that most children can do on their own.

Here's the formula to do your own:
First Name
How You fit in the Family
Lover of (3 things)
Who needs (3 things)
Who gives (2 things)
Who pursues (3 things)
Who would like to see (2 things)
Last name

Here is an example:
Lover of nature, books and God,
Who needs love, family and friends.
Who gives of himself and his time.
Who pursues life, liberty and happiness.
Who would like to see peace and freedom.


Today is megabucks Day at Swagbucks. Every Friday, you can win $10, $20, $40 and $100 Swagbucks. We all do searches on the internet. Why not get paid to do it? I have used my swag bucks to get gift cards at starbucks, amazon and barnes and noble. Some of those cards have been used to give as gifts and others for getting things we need for school.

You collect points that you earn randomly while searching and when you see a good deal, cash in your points to get the gift card for the store you need. Swag searches use Google results, so you can find what you want and get paid for it. If you haven’t signed up yet, you really should! Just click on the Swagbucks icon on the side of this page. You even get paid Swagbucks just for signing up. For those of you who are already signed up, on Friday's you can win big, so don't forget to do some searching today! I recently paid for an amazon order entirely with swag bucks I have been collecting.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Fried Potato Salad

Potatoes are inexpensive, easy to grow and store, so I usually have a good supply on hand. This was a big hit tonight with grilled chicken and green beans...

1/4 cup olive oil
8 cups red potatoes, chopped
1 medium Vidalia(sweet) onion, chopped
3 strips nitrite-free bacon, fried crisp and chopped
1/4 honey-Dijon mustard(if you don't have this, combine 1T honey with 2 T dijon mustard)
1 cup mayonnaise
1 T chili powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp salt

Pour oil into a large skillet. Brown potatoes until tender on the inside and crispy brown on the outside. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine chopped onion, bacon, dijon mustard, mayonnaise and seasonings.
Pour over hot potatoes in the skillet, toss to combine well and then to avoid washing yet another dish, dump the mixture back into the bowl using a spatula to get all the dressing out of the pan.
This can be served warm immediately or served cold a few hours later. Its great both ways!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Coupon Adventures 7/8

Harris Teeter
There were so great deals at Harris Teeter today

Crisco Oil is B1G1($2.19 each) and with the .55 coupon from the Sunday paper in June its less than $1.09 a bottle.

MC Grill mates are on sale B1G1($1.19 each) and with the .50 coupon from an insert back in may, they are .19 each

Ragu Organic spaghetti sauce is $1.99 a jar and with the .75 coupon from they are .49 a jar. I got these coupons online at The Coupon Clippers

HT split chicken breast is .77 a pound and I got to use a $2 off chicken wine tag I have been carrying around.

Daisy Sour Cream is $1 per 8oz container and with the .50 coupon they were free.

I also picked up some pictsweet frozen vegetables that were buy one get one, only $1.75 a bag for the family sized bags. I don't usually like to pay that much for frozen vegetables, but I am getting pretty low.

Overall, it was a good shop. I spent $23.04 and saved over $50.

Sargento shredded cheese is B1G1 and I had some .40 coupons left, so I got those for .60 each. I also picked up some red potatoes and organic bananas. I found loaves of sourdough bread for .99 each, so I purchased three of those. Its a brand I located in some deli's here locally that only have flour, water, salt and are sourdough based , so they have no yeast either. When I can't make bread, I like to pull these out of the freezer in a pinch. I got out of Bi-Lo under $10!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Extreme Couponing, part one-The Rules

I have dabbled in coupons before. You know how it works. You buy one of those little organizers and dutifully clip coupons each week. You file them and when you get to the store, you painstakingly flip through endless stacks looking for the one you know you have but can't find. You also find its expired when you do eventually locate it. The time involved and the lack of real savings is discouraging, so you give up. I know many people that have given up multiple times after making the same mistakes at each attempt. Some years back in my attempt to live a frugal lifestyle and live on one income, I decided to take it seriously. Here are some of the rules I have made for myself over the years. These rules may seem really silly to some, too restricting to others, but they have resulted in thousands of dollars in savings , not let me correct myself, over ten thousand dollars in savings in a years time. That's like having a job, and guess what? Until you get the hang of it, it WILL feel like a job! But after you get used to a routine and have your supplies built up, you will begin to see the fruits of your labors and it can be VERY rewarding...

Here are my Rules or Strategies for Success.

Strategy #1- Don’t buy it unless its on sale AND you have a coupon
First find your sales; each week, in the Sunday and Wednesday paper, your local stores advertise their sales. If you don't get a paper, you can see the flyers online on your computer. Some stores even have a handy shopping list that you can print out when you are done. Scroll through the ads and click on (or write down) the items you think you may have coupons for. I realize that some items rarely have coupons, like produce and milk, but TRY to stick to this rule for optimum savings.

Keep a Price book!
A price book is a notebook where you can keep track of sale items and the prices of items you buy. Set up a spiral bound notebook keeping columns for the date, store name, sale price and unit price. Keep pages categorized so you can find an item quickly for reference. You would be amazed at the fluctuation in sale prices for the same item at different stores. Some stores will even have a HUGE ad telling you their chicken is .99 a pound and two weeks later have the SAME chicken for .77 a pound in a smaller size. If you stocked up on the .99 chickens, your freezer isn't going to hold many .77 chickens, so by keeping a price book, you know that .99 isn't that great of a deal and you maybe only purchase one or two and then hold out for a better one to really stock up.

Sales go in cycles(cereals before school starts, oatmeal in fall, kelloggs rebate in Sept, Canned milk, chocolate chips before thanksgiving, Hams before Christmas, etc. If you have a price book and keep the dates of the great prices, you will soon see the patterns for yourself. When oatmeal gets near free, try to buy enough to last until you will need it again. That might mean getting extra coupons. Clipping services like The Coupon Clippers do all the work for you. You select the coupons you want multiples of and they mail them to you all ready to file. Then when that great sale comes along, you are ready to purchase a large supply at the best possible price. Clipping services charge a small fee for clipping a dmailing them, but if you don't have the time to clip or if your paper doesn't have the coupon you want or need, sometimes getting them online is the best way to go

Packaging can be confusing, so keep a ledger of the best unit prices you have found for foods and household items you purchase regularly: You’ll know immediately whether a 128-oz. box of cereal is a better value than a 64-oz. one. Take a small calculator with you so you can factor in coupon discounts, divide the price by the number of units and compare it to the figures in your price book. Be aware that a store’s published unit price changes regularly and is often outdated. Also be aware that during BOGO sales sometimes stores will raise the unit price to offset the loss of the sale.

Once you have a list of sales, match the sales to your coupons. Put your efforts into finding the best values in coupons. Despite the mark up, BOGO (buy one, get one free) ranks at the top, followed by coupons that offer a discount on a single item and coupons that require the purchase of several items to qualify for redemption. Be wary of coupons that offer, say, a 10 percent discount if you buy 10 units of the same product. If it is something you don't normally use, there isn't much point in having 10 of them.

Intense competition among stores has forced many to double and triple their redemption of a coupon’s stated value. Some do it every day, others during special promotions. Save your coupons for these bonus events (keeping in mind expiration dates). The multiple paybacks often total more than the cost of the products, meaning the store sometimes pays you!
Examples of this type of event would be:
o Harris Teeter; double up to .99, Triple coupons up to .99
o Ingles, double up to .50 with limits triple up to .50
o Bi-Lo doubles up to .60, credits for reusable bags, senior days

Five Questions to Ask Before You Redeem

• If the product is more expensive than your usual brand, will the coupon still save you money?

• Is a generic or store brand cheaper than the product you’re considering — even with the discount?
Use the cost per oz., unit on price stickers…make sure you compare apples to apples

• Will you have to drive out of your way, spending more on gas than you’ll save with the coupon?(plan your trips)

• Ounce per ounce, is the sale item, in fact, cheaper than a larger box or multipack?
Certain brands are consistently less expensive: Angel Soft Toilet Paper, Arm & Hammer Detergent

• Do you really want the product, or are you buying it simply to get your total up for the free turkey after 5 weeks?

•When you figure the price per oz, are you considering membership fees?

Strategy #2- Shop multiple stores; work them into your daily routine

First off, plan your trips. Don’t make a special trip out, try to do your errands on the same day, plan a route, take a cooler, pack your lunch and go.

If you are near a store known for the deals, stop and take a look. You may find an unadvertised special that makes something free. The other day I was in Ingles and they were clearing out a favorite salad dressing. I had $1 coupons and dressings were only $1 so I got them for free. The special wasn't in the ad and the only reason I found it was because I was in the area and I decided to stop and look. Its not always practical to do it this way, but when it is, take a look. Just don't get trapped into buying things that are not on your list and you are paying more than half of its value. Those are NOT deals.

When you are shopping, watch for sellouts on products you have coupons for but didn’t intend to buy immediately. Then get a rain check. You create an expiration-free sale for yourself. Other options would be that the item is on sale but you didn't have a coupon. Get a raincheck and wait for a coupon.

When you do find a deal, watch the packaging. For instance, when dishwasher detergent goes on sale, some types are better deals than others. The lemony fresh scent witha power ball might only have 20 loads, while the plain orginal might do 36 loads. Both are the same price, but one is worth a lot more. The same goes for pizzas. Look at the weight. A cheese pizza is typically has more weight. You can add your own toppings and get more pizza that way.

Whenever you can, aim for the trifecta: multiple purchases of an item on sale on a day the grocery is tripling coupons. This is the ultimate in saving money. I have had weeks where I got over $500 worth of groceries for less than $20. The key is to shop carefully and stick to the rules.

Strategy 3: Get as many coupons as possible
Here are some tips for building your coupon stash.
• Watch for your local grocers’ printed flyers, and sign up online to receive their e-mailed coupons.
•Coupons typically appear in newspapers on Wednesdays and Sundays. Buy multiple copies of the paper if they have good coupons (check taylortown, couponclippers)
• Check magazines
• If you love a particular product, call a manufacturer’s toll-free number or e-mail the company and request a coupon. (A third of manufacturers offer coupons only upon request.) Many will also send a free sample.
• Download free coupons from sites such as,,, and
• Keep an eye out for coupons printed on sales receipts and product packages, and at in-store “blinkies”
• Ask neighbors, co-workers and family to save them for you
• Join a coupon train
• Recycle bins, freecycle
• Ask a store manager to save them
• Ask someone with a paper route
• Coffee shops, hotels, restaurants…
• Shop online for coupons(thecouponclippers, ebay)
• Transfer of prescriptions/new prescription rebatesCVS receipt

Strategy 4: File rebates!
Watch for rebates. I found one the other day that required me to buy $20 worth of meat. That's not a problem most months. Save all your receipts from all your purchases and when you find a rebate, look through them and use the receipts that qualify.

Don’t pass up the rebate. Many customers buy a product because of a promised rebate of a dollar or two but never take the time to send it in. Don’t join the crowd! Those dollars can add up. Some companies will stall on sending as well. Follow UP by always keeping copies of the rebates you send.If you don't see a check when you are expecting it, call. Almost every time I have called, they have sent the check out within a week.

Strategy 5: Stay Organized

If you build up a cache of coupons for a variety of products, you can hold off on redeeming them until the items go on sale to max out your savings. Plan your weekly menus based on this strategy and, whenever you can, aim for the trifecta: multiple purchases of an item on sale on a day the grocery is tripling coupons.Keep your coupons in a book that you stash in your purse or car so you’re ready for unplanned shopping trips.

Lay them out by category or how you find them in the store. Bet a three ring binder and fill it with trading card sleeves. Put in dividers and then fill the sleeves with your coupons. Then, all your coupons are visible at once. You can find them quickly and easily see what is expired and needs to be pulled out.

Clip the coupons you know you will use, save the ones you don't think you will. I keep all the coupons I don't clip in a file folder, filed by month. If a sale comes along where I will make money on the item, you can be sure I will purchase it and give it to Goodwill or someone that needs it and use the profits to get what I need. While I don't think we should be greedy and take all the free things for ourselves, I will get one and share the item with a friend if I don't need it.

While there are lots more I could tell you, this one article is enough to digest for one day, so if you have questions, let me know and I will be happy to help. I will write more on couponing in the future.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Coupon Adventures 7/4

One last deal for the week found at Rite Aid. They had Stayfree Pads b1g1(buy one, get one) and I had two b1g1 coupons. I wasn't sure if they would allow me to use them, but I decided to try and they did. I got 4 packages($3.99 each) and also picked out a $1 scribble pad for my son. Total after coupons was $1.28!!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Coupon Adventures 7/3

Ingles had a great deal on chicken this week. Boneless, skinless breasts for $1.88 a pound. That means 100% usable meat for that price. I went to get that and partake of the sale on sierra mist, sunkist and Mug rootbeer at 5 cases for $12. On each box was a $1.00 off coupon, making the soda 5 for $7 or one for $1.40. A case of this usually lasts us several months since we rarely drink it and it has no food dye, so Brandon can have one from time to time. While in the soda aisle I found a booklet on the root beer I was getting that had a breyers ice cream coupon on it. Breyers ice cream is on sale at Bi-Lo, where I was heading next...I was getting a little excited...I also got some invisible kool aid(no food dyes) and a bag of sugar(for canning) and used a $2 off sugar coupon when you buy kool aid. The koolaid was .12 a pack and the sugar was on sale for $1.68. We make kool aid when the kids have friends over and I usually sweeten it with something other than sugar.
At Bi-Lo, I planned to get some organic peaches...finally fresh organic fruit at the store!! Then I got Dixie plates with my $1.00 off coupons. I also had a coupon for free napkins when you buy plates. So the napkins and the plates were less than $1 total. I save these for when the power goes out and we don't have water to wash dishes and napkins. The ice cream is on sale for $1.98 and with the .50 breyers coupon I found at Ingles, its .98 a container! I get the sugar-free ice cream for my girls and my hubby, who can eat it. They love it as a special treat. When they have the ice cream tonight, Brandon and I will have peaches with cream on top...YUM!
One more stop; Food Lion. Using the $1 off 360 products FLIP, I got free foil and the $1 off healthy accent products FLIP got me free rubbing alcohol. Then I picked up some freezer bags that were buy one get one and used my $1 blinkie, making two packages of gallon freezer bags, a package of foil and some rubbing alcohol all less than $1 with tax.


Over 1,000 years ago, Kefir, a cultured milk drink, originated in the Caucasus region, an area between Europe, Asia and the Middle East. It is prepared by inoculating cow, goat, or sheep's milk with kefir grains. Kefir grains resemble cauliflower and are a mixture of bacteria and yeast, clumped together with casein (milk proteins) and complex sugars. The grains can range in size from tiny(the size of a grain of wheat) to large(the size of a grape) Today, kefir is becoming increasingly popular due to new research into its health benefits. Kefir contains several major strains of friendly bacteria not commonly found in yogurt; Lactobacillus Caucasus, Leuconostoc, Acetobacter species, and Streptococcus species.

It also contains beneficial yeasts, such as Saccharomyces kefir and Torula kefir, which dominate, control and eliminate destructive pathogenic yeasts in the body. They do so by penetrating the mucosa lining of the intestines where unhealthy yeast and bacteria reside. Kefir forms a virtual SWAT team that housecleans and strengthens the intestines so that the body becomes more efficient in resisting such pathogens as E. coli and intestinal parasites. Since Kefir bacteria can actually colonize your intestines, something that yogurt cannot do, it can provide more nutritive value than yogurt by helping digest the foods that you eat and by keeping the colon environment clean and healthy.

Because the curd size of kefir is smaller than yogurt, it is also easier to digest, which makes it a particularly excellent, nutritious food for babies, invalids and the elderly, as well as a remedy for digestive disorders. Because the lactose is consumed during the fermenting process, many lactose intolerant people find it to be something they can drink without any problems.

The best part about kefir is that it is very easy to make. If you start with a little of someone else's kefir you can begin immediately. This is called a kefir culture. You use a little to make more, just like yogurt. However, eventually it won't work anymore and you will need more cultures. If you purchase Kefir grains, they can be used indefinately. They feed on the lactose in milk and will continue to live and grow as long as you supply it. They can be purchased through us or at some health food stores. If you would like to purchase kefir grains, you can contact us at candlerfoods at bellsouth dot net.

I like to make raw kefir so that I can preserve all of the healthy bacteria that exist, but some packaged kefir grains will ask you to pre-cook the milk and then cool it. It is a personal choice not to do this step and while you may need to do this for the original batch, you can use my process after that if you wish.

Making kefir from kefir drink:

What you will need:

1 quart wide-mouth jar, clean and sanitized with lid
2 cups of fresh milk
1/2 cup of kefir(from a previous batch)

Pour the milk and then the kefir into your jar. Shake. Place in a cool, dark place overnight. Refrigerate. Stir (or shake) and Drink.

Its really that easy. I usually allow mine to culture about 11 hours. I have heard some folks culture it for up to 18 hours. The longer it sits, the more tart it will taste and the thicker it will get. If you culture too long, you will see it separate from the whey and then eventually it can spoil. You should have a creamy, thick drinkable liquid when you are finished culturing it. It will continue to thicken in the fridge, but at a much slower rate. I like to drink mine in the morning before breakfast. It tastes somewhat like buttermilk and/or yogurt with a taste all its own. You can add fruit or sweeteners to it, but I like mine plain. It would make a great smoothie too.

Making kefir with kefir grains:
What you will need
1 quart wide-mouth jar, clean and sanitized with lid
2 cups of fresh milk
1/4 cup of kefir(from a previous batch)

Pour the milk and then the kefir into a clean jar. I use wide mouth quart jar add the milk and 1/4 cup of kefir grains. Cover the jar loosely with a lid and let set about 12 hours. Then, simply pour the kefir through a strainer to catch the grains and put the liquid in a jar and refrigerate. Put the grains in a clean jar and add fresh milk to make more. If you don't want to make another batch, you can put the jar of grains with the fresh milk in the refrigerator.  We drink it constantly, so I just make more.

Because you can make this so easily yourself and you get a 100% return when you make it, its an economical addition to your meal plan. There is no by product with kefir. No whey to pour off and it will constantly produce bigger fatter kefir grains. Its much easier to make than yogurt and its better for you. If you have milk, give it a try. You might love it!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Coupon Adventures 6/29

This week at Ingles...
Tyson boneless, skinless chicken breast is 1.88 a lb, which is a pretty good price, especially if you have a meat coupon.

Also, kool-aidaid is 8 for $1 and Ingles is one of the few stores that has dye-free kool aid flavors. Combine that with last weeks $2 off sugar and its quite a deal. I use the sugar for canning and make the koolaid with splenda or stevia for the kids.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Food Allergies, ADHD and life in the real world, cont'd

The ongoing saga of Food Allergies...

How do you deal with the normal day-to-day life that is America these days when you have a child that *really* shouldn't be eating "normal" food at all? Its not like you can pop into McDonald's and get an organic scrambled egg on a wholewheat tortilla with raw cheddar on the way to piano lessons. Here where we live, its a little easier. There are cafés with organic foods and whole foods and I can make it work, if I am willing to pay for it. And I do mean PAY for it. But might I remind you that this is the blog of a stay-at-home mom? You know, one-income family?? Those places are usually not an option, even on our best day. So I do a lot of cooking. I make whole wheat tortillas by the dozen...regularly. We grow a garden to obtain as much "free" organic produce as possible. We raise chickens for the organic and humanely raised eggs. We do what we can, but it still doesn't erase the fact that the bank drive thru always puts a corn syrup and food dye laden treat in the money envelope and the grocery store bakery has a bin of free cookies when you walk by. Other well-meaning people are always offering a cookie or treat to my son. They usually ask if its okay, but at this point my son already sees the treat and knows he can't have it. Its frustrating really, but he knows what will happen and so do I. Sometimes we do let him have some "junk" as we so lovingly refer to it. And he "freaks out", as he puts it. He will be invited to a birthday party and will have some cake, maybe without the icing or take home the goody bag and keep some of the candy. Its an ongoing process. It seems like everyday has a challenge or two. You have to be prepared at all times to provide a safe alternative if you want to stick to it. I suppose we are blessed in that we don't have severe reactions that require medical attention. And, since we homeschool, I don't have to medicate him to make a learning environment for 20 other children. Its just us and we make it work.

There are those frustrating moments though. Recently I discovered that his allergies were not taken seriously by some of my family. They didn't see a change in his personality when they slipped him some sugar, so maybe I was over-reacting. Actually, they didn't get to see my "overreaction" because I chomped down on my tongue and wrote it off to another day in the trenches. We moms of kids with food allergies have to fight our battles. That week, my son had had piles of no-no's at various times. At his birthday party just two days prior, we really went off the deep end and he was still coming off the effects of that, so perhaps there really wasn't a huge change; you know, from bad to worse? But for whatever reason some people just think you are imagining it when you, as the mother, see them change before your eyes due to a food allergen. So that afternoon he unknowingly had some sugar, went crazy soon after and then came home and was sick. He ended up with a bad headache, went to bed early and woke up with dark circles under his eyes. But of course, that was my imagination. So I asked if perhaps the sugar-free dessert wasn't really sugar free. It wasn't sugar-free they admitted but they didn't see any change and it was only a little sugar... you see, you have to was just my imagination.

That morning I decided we would go back to strictly non-allergen foods. No more walks on the wild side for a while. It will be BYOF from now on. I am happy to report that he's back to himself and feeling pretty good after only a week. The temptations to stray from the eating plan are there daily. I try my best to fill him with healthy whole foods and make him special treats as often as I can. As for eating out, we have discovered a few things we can eat safely. A thin crust pizza at Pizza Hut with only veggies, traditional sauce and light cheese works. A fast-food salad or fruit cup with a juice box is good and if all else fails, we brown bag whatever part he can't eat there. Its not like we eat out all the time. We can't! But the occasional need to is easier once you research your options and plan ahead.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Food Allergies, ADHD and life in the real world

Anyone that has a child with ADD or ADHD knows what its like to have a child that you know is bright, sweet and full of life trapped in a hyperactive, unfocused crazy person. Its distressing to see glimmers of that child but never for long. About a year ago I discovered that my son's seemingly out of control behavior was caused by food allergies. What led me to this discovery was nothing short of a miracle. I was at the library with my daughters and stood in an aisle waiting for them to find a book they were looking for. I turned around in the small space and of all the books there, what caught my eye was Twelve Effective Ways to Help Your ADD/ADHD Child: Drug-Free Alternatives for Attention-Deficit Disorders
Flipping through the book I knew in my heart that this was what was happening with my child. For years I had watched certain foods or meals seem to trigger insane reactions with my son that didn't make sense. Sleepless nights after a piece of candy, dark circles under his eyes after pizza, bouts with intestinal cramping, mood swings, hyper activity, lack of focus. So many different things that seemed to disappear when his menu was simpler and involved a week of eating at home. I devoured the book that day and was convinced that a common foods elimination diet was how I should start. I explained to him what we were going to do and why and we set the date to begin. It was challenging at first. The withdrawal symptoms alone were horrible. But after two weeks a new child emerged. The boy I always knew was there. I was thrilled. HE was thrilled. He felt better, slept better, looked better and most of all we had better school days and less behavior problems. But then came the BIGGEST problem of all...implementing this in our daily life...