August 29, 2013

Time for No Bake Cookies

I have had one of those summer colds that you get from going outside in the hot weather and then coming back inside into the air conditioning.  So in order to help keep my grandson Ryan healthy, I haven’t had him as much as I usually do.  I have spent the majority of the time resting on the couch in our living room and watching movies in between sleeping.  I have drunk enough water to drain a lake.  Lots of rest is the best medicine for when you are sick.  When I was working full time I would be sick twice as long as I didn't get enough sleep.  This is the best part about being home.  Even when I have Ryan, I can always take a nap when he is taking a nap if I feel I need the rest.

Today we are back to our normal schedule.  I put Ryan in the stroller and leashed up our dog, Molly and we walked my husband to work at 8:00 a.m.  Then we took a long walk and got back in time for Ryan to have his strained veggies.  Today’s choice was carrots.  Then there was a quick run to Wal-mart and around 10:00 we had play time.  I sit and play with Ryan on a quilt that I use just for him and we sit on the porch swing and enjoy the outside before it gets too hot.  Before long he was tired so I gave him a bottle and cuddled him to sleep.  He is now napping in his bed.  However, I have no idea if this is going to be a 1 hour or 3 hour nap.  So, I don’t depend on nap time being a time that I can get a lot done.  I just do little stuff.

With it being so hot outside, I hate to heat up the oven.  However, it is hard to go without having a few cookies on hand to eat with a cup of coffee.  It is during the summer that I rely on no bake recipes AND I also rely on making cookie dough ahead of time to freeze.  Sometimes I make no bake cookies and other times I take cookie dough out of the freezer and bake a few cookies in the early morning before the weather gets hot.  If you have the cookie dough ready to go, it saves so much time in the morning.

I have two basic no bake cookie recipes that we enjoy.  One calls for sugar and corn syrup which I know a lot of people are trying to avoid, but cookies have sugar and fat in them so if you are trying lose weight or lower your consumption of sugar, then don’t eat them.  For me, I would rather eat one cookie with all the bad stuff in it than 3 cookies made fat free and with a sugar substitute.  All things in moderation is my motto.

No Bake Chocolate Cookies

1/2 cup margarine or butter
2 cups sugar
6 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 cup milk
Pinch of salt
4 cups quick oats
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cook the margarine, sugar, cocoa, milk and salt.  This means that as soon as it starts to boil, time it for 2 minutes.  Then stir in the vanilla and oatmeal.   Drop by tablespoons onto waxed paper or a cookie sheet lightly sprayed with cooking spray.  Cool.

Cereal Bars

1 cup sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1 cup peanut butter

4 – 5 cups cornflakes

Melt the corn syrup and sugar together.  Bring to a boil.  Add peanut butter and stir well.  Pour over the cornflakes.  Stir.  Spread into a greased 9 x 13 inch pan.  Let cool.  (You can add just about any kind of cereal to this instead of the cornflakes.)  Another option is to melt a bag of chocolate chips with 1/4 cup peanut butter and spread over the top.  I leave this off as the bars are good without the topping.

August 26, 2013

It's going to be really, really hot!!!

I just heard on the news that here in Iowa today the temperature will be hovering around 100 degrees.  The weather forecast for the entire week will be the same each day.  Hot.  That means the heat index will make it feel hotter.  This is not the time to scrimp on air conditioning.  I am keeping the window air conditioners set at 68 degrees in order to keep our downstairs nice and comfortable.  The one thing I can't stand is to be hot.  I can live with being cold as I can always add a sweater and layer my clothes to be warmer.

The challenge in August when it is this hot is to try to figure out what to serve for supper. By now we have done a lot of grilling so it isn't quite the novelty as it was at the beginning of the summer and it is too hot to stand outside over an even hotter grill.  It is on days like this that I pull out the electric roaster that I use to cook the turkey at Thanksgiving and I set it up in the basement.  I use it as a portable oven.

Tonight I will be cooking my semi-famous turkey casserole in it.  Here is the link to the recipe. Back in June I roasted a turkey that I had leftover from Christmas and I carefully cut the breast pieces for sandwiches or to use as the main dish for dinner sometime.  The rest of the meat was cut into small pieces for soup or casseroles and the carcass was boiled down for broth.  All the meat and broth was frozen for later use such as a day like today.

I will put the casserole together in a square casserole dish and place it in the roaster to bake.   The best part of this is that the heat from baking this casserole does not affect the temperature in my kitchen as it cooks in the basement and the heat stays there.  Also it takes less energy to heat the roaster and it preheats in no time at all.  To complete our dinner meal, I will serve watermelon and a tossed salad.

I know some people will think who wants to eat something hot on a hot day, but these are also the same people who will go to an air conditioned restaurant for a hot meal or stand in the hot sun grilling some meat.

As I write this post, Ryan is taking his nap.  He spent the morning at his other grandpa's house as I needed some extra rest as I have a cold.  While he is napping I may take a nap myself or go through some of my sewing patterns so I can plan my next project.  I'm already thinking ahead to Christmas and there are several gifts I want to make.  I don't want to wait until November or December to work on these projects.  Also, there are a few tops that I would like to sew for myself.

I better start getting more sleep at night as when Ryan goes down for a nap, it will be sewing and craft time for Grandma.

August 25, 2013

Renewed Focus

I have been back from vacation for two weeks.  Over vacation I started to think more and more about this blog and how I seemed to have writer's block.  After all it has been close to 4 years since I began this blog and what more could I say about frugal living?  Then it dawned on me this morning that with watching my grandson 4 days a week, I have so much more to contribute, so I will not abandon this blog that I love so much.

I will try to post every other day what I have been doing and give you a glimpse into my daily life which has changed tremendously from 4 years ago.  So let’s begin this new journey together.

Last week was the second week that I watched my grandson Ryan while his mom works at her family business and coaches volleyball and while his dad teaches math at the high school and coaches cross country.  Ryan has lots of aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents including a great-grandma that lives nearby.  I raised my kids living in the Midwest while my parents lived in New York and my in laws moved from the east coast to the west coast.  We were on our own when it came to caring for our sons, but we didn’t think anything of it as it was our normal way of live.

It would be hard to watch Ryan if it wasn’t for his good nature.  He is happy, and good natured.  Ryan has the same temperament that his daddy had when he was a baby.  About the only time he gets fussy is when it is nap time.

The one thing I have learned from watching Ryan is that basic items that you need to have in your home to care for a baby have gone up in cost tremendously.  Also there are more and more “necessities” for baby on the market. One day I went to purchase a pacifier for him to keep at my house.  There were about 50 different kinds of pacifiers to choose from.  When my kids were little I think there were just 2 kinds.  Also there are all sorts of unnecessary things that you really don’t need.  I don’t need a baby monitor or a wipe warmer. 

 I have purchased items as I have needed them.  For example, I purchased a Graco portable crib/play pen.  I bought it new and on sale for one reason.  Many times items are recalled and I knew that this one item was important for me to buy new.  It has 3 levels so that I have been able to raise or lower the bed as Ryan has grown.  This has been a big help for my back. 

I purchased the exact stroller that Ryan has at home.  It fits his car seat and it is a heavy duty jogging stroller.  I looked at a lot of strollers and I found more and more had wheels made of plastic.  Knowing how much a stroller can be used even for more than one child, my mind was made up to research and buy quality.  Again some online shopping paid off when I found a heavy duty jogging stroller on sale for $20 less than offered in a store along with free shipping.

Ryan is almost 6 months old so I added a walker and high chair as the final things I need for him.  I searched at local consignment shops for these items but found that I could get them on sale with free shipping to me for a bit more money.  In fact, the walker was only $5 more new and the high chair was only $30 on a close out clearance sale. 

I give Ryan a bath every now and then as needed.  I refused to pay $25 for a baby bath.  I simply put a folded towel in the bottom of the bath tub and took another towel and rolled it up to for him to rest his head on.  Then I simply lower him on the towel and wash him and let him kick in the water.

As far as items such as baby bath, lotion and powder, I went to the Dollar Tree and bought these items for $1.00 each.  I keep a large bottle of hand sanitizer near where I change Ryan’s diapers.  This was also purchased for $1.00. 

I have purchased a few toys along the way at garage sales.  Anything that is plastic such as rattles and the sort I wash and dip in boiling water to disinfect them. 
My son and his wife provide diapers, formula, cereal and jarred baby food for Ryan.  I supply the baby wipes.  Normally I would have just purchased white cheap wash cloths and used soap and water to clean him, but I came upon a deal at Wal-mart.  I was able to get 400 baby wipes for $6.00.  These are really thick wipes and even with a messy diaper, I only need one wipe.

I really enjoy caring for Ryan.  It is almost like I have been given a do over in my life.  I always wanted to stay home with my kids when they were young, but we just couldn’t afford it.  Now I am home and helping to care for my grandson and I am loving it. 

So, this is the challenge of my new life:  caring for my grandson a few days a week, managing my time and home along with continuing my dedication to frugal living.

Tips for Today: 
1.  The advantage of having a stockpile of pantry and freezer items has become invaluable to me as I don’t want to run out to the grocery store for one item with a 6 month old in tow if I don’t have too.

2.  I had been making my own hair detangler but discovered that a 10 oz. bottle of children’s hair detangler only cost $1.00 at the Dollar Tree.  It works great on my hair hair.  Also my hair is dry so I use conditioner in the shower.  After towel drying my hair I squirt a little conditioner into my palms and rub it on the bottom 3 inches of my hair.  I rub it into my ends and I let my hair air dry.  Air drying my hair helps to keep it from being damaged by the heat of the dryer and the additional conditioner helps to keep my hair moisturized.  

August 07, 2013

Vacationing, kind of

I'm on vacation for a few more days.  Actually, I'm visiting my mom out east.  I'll be blogging when I get home. I miss my family and home and am ready to get back home and cook regular meals. 

In my down time this week I have been working on a new household schedule for when I begin caring for my grandson 4 days a week beginning next week.  I know I will only be able to get household chores done during naptime.  However my walking time should increase as he loves to be in his stroller going on walks.  It's a pleasant and happy trade off.