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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Homemade Easy Bake Cake Mix

Tired of spending $4 for an Easy Bake Cake Mix?  We found this recipe and made several Ziploc snack bag sized mixes to store in the freezer for those rainy day moments.  It worked great and saved $ as well as my sanity.  An extra bonus for us was that it was dairy free for my littlest princess :)


  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened lemonade or any flavor drink mix (we used cocoa powder)
  • 1/3 cup shortening

  1. In a medium bowl, combine sugar, flour, baking soda, salt, and lemonade drink mix or cocoa powder. Stir to blend. Cut in shortening with a fork or pastry blender until mixture resembles corn meal.
  2. Spoon about 1/3 cup mixture into 10 small containers or sealable plastic bags. Label and store in cool, dry place. Use within 12 weeks.
  3. Preheat Easy Bake oven. Grease and flour a 4 inch miniature cake pan.
  4. To make a cake: Empty the contents of one bag cake mix into a small bowl. Using a fork, mix with 4 teaspoons water until smooth.
  5. Bake until done, cool, decorate and enjoy!

Easy Homemade Apple Butter

We like to smear it on our toast, muffins, mix into our yogurt or oatmeal, even over waffles....Nothing says mmmmmmmm better than apple butter!  Here is my easiest and best recipe:

10 cups of finely diced apples with skins
2 cups of sugar
1/2 cup of apple juice or cider
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ginger

Dice your cored apples, with skins on, as fine as possible. Place all the ingredients into a crock pot.

 Cook on low for 8-12 hours stirring occasionally. When the apples have fully cooked to a mush I run it in small batches through my food processor. 

Spoon into clean jars and boil for 10-20 minutes in a bath of boiling water if canning. Otherwise, they can be stored directly into your fridge or freezer.

Homemade Snowflake Ornaments and Decorations


During the winter holidays we try to do a craft project or bake once a day.  This is the cutest idea we have done yet this year and it is SOOOOOOOOOOOO simple!

waxed paper
white glue


Draw snowflake designs onto squares of waxed paper.  Give your child a bottle of white glue and show them how to fill in the design.  Sprinkle the snowflake shapes with glitter and let them dry overnight.  Peel them off the paper when dry and hang as ornaments, use as window clings, give as gifts; the possibilities are endless!

Homemade Red Pepper & Jalapeno Jelly

Okay, here it is by popular demand, my recipe for Red Pepper & Jalapeno Jelly!  Just be sure to read the serving suggestions at the end and ENJOY!!!

Ingredients for about 10-1/2 pint jars:
5 cups of finely chopped baby sweet peppers (yellow, red and orange)
2 cups of finely chopped jalapenos
1 cup of finely chopped green pepper
6 cups of sugar
2 cups apple cider
1.5 cup apple cider vinegar
6 Tbsp. Fruit Pectin
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (or leave jalapeno seeds in)

1.  Dice the peppers into small pieces.  I love my easy chopper for this!

2. Bring apple cider, apple cider vinegar, and sugar to a boil. Add diced peppers and red pepper flakes and cook for 5 minutes.

3. Add fruit pectin slowly and bring to a rolling boil for 2-3 minutes. Turn off heat. Spoon a small amount into a bowl, put into the freezer for a few minutes to see if it is the consistency you are looking for. If not reheat and add more pectin 1 Tbsp. at a time until you reach your desired firmness. 

3. In a large pot of hot water sterilize your jars and lids.  I usually do this first or while I am cooking the jelly.

4. Spoon finished jelly into clean and sterilized jars and put on the lids.  Boil jars in a pot of hot water for 10 minutes being sure to cover them with the water. Carefully remove the jars and listen for them to pop as they cool! Once they are cooled they are ready for storage in the pantry or fridge.

Some Serving suggestions:

1. Spoon into Chinese food for a kick of spice or use as a dip for egg rolls.
2. Drizzle over softened cream cheese for a festive holiday dip with crackers.
3. I put mine in a crescent roll ring with cream cheese, crab, and diced peppers and bake at 350 till browned. Serve warm.
4. Use as a topping for bagels.
5. Use as a dip for shrimp.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


This has got to be the easiest and BEST pumpkin butter recipe I've come up with yet!!!  It is not safe to 'can' pumpkin at home due to the low acidity of the fruit, so I spoon the hot finished product into freezer safe jars and place them straight into the fridge/freezer.  This recipe makes 3 pint jars, so I put two in our basement freezer for later and one upstairs in the fridge for us to enjoy right away.  You will never pay $8.99 for a jar ever again....This recipe cost me around $3 for 3 jars!!!!

 I am a pumpkin nut, so I added a few serving suggestions below.  (Feel free to comment and leave me your favorite way to use it!)


2- 15 oz. cans pumpkin puree- fresh or store bought (not canned pumpkin pie mix)
1 & 1/2 cups Brown Sugar
1 cup apple cider
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ginger

Mix all the above ingredients into a saucepan.  Cook on med. heat for 10-15 minutes.  Turn off the heat and spoon into prepared jars.  Screw on the bands and lids and cool in the fridge/freezer.

Try mixing a spoonful in:

*Vanilla Yogurt
*Softened Cream Cheese on your bagel
*spread onto graham crackers
*in your peanut butter sandwich
*Makes GREAT hostess or holiday gifts!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Homemade Hot Pocket Sandwich

These were a total mistake....which most great ideas are!  I was out of bread after feeding 7 kids french toast for breakfast, but lunchtime waits for no one.  I have always wanted to try homemade tortillas so today seemed like a great day.  I modified the recipe because I have a child with milk allergies and my pantry isn't regularly stocked with lard, but it is stocked with coconut oil.  They turned out more like pie crust or crackers.  We spread on 'food glue' (mayo) and the kids added ham and turkey strips, lettuce, matchbox carrot sticks and cucumbers as they chose.  They rolled up nicely when warm and tasted like a healthier version of a hot pocket!  YUMMMMMY!

So here's the recipe:

3 cups All Purpose Unbleached Flour
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 cup coconut oil (here is where lard or butter would go)
2 Tbsp Almond butter (omit for 'real' tortillas)

3/4 cup water

 Mix the dry ingredients, then with a pastry cutter cut in the fats until you have a course dough. Add water and knead until you have a smooth (not crumbly) ball. Let rest 1 hour. Divide into 10 balls, roll out one at a time to 1/8" thickness and toast it on both sides in a frying pan. No need to add anything to the pan if it is nonstick. Spread on mayo or any other condiments you like and add toppings (lunchmeat strips, chicken, cut veggies, etc.). Pastry will roll nicely while warm. Serve immediately.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Use for Recycled Bottles: Window Sill Herb Garden

This is such a cool idea I saw in a kid's magazine while waiting in the Dr. office.  ReUsing your plastic bottles you can make a window sill herb garden. The best part is it will (supposedly) self water!  Here is what we did:

1.  Rinse out your plastic 1 or 2 liter bottles.  (I reattached the lid so my soil didn't fall out.)

2.  Cut the bottle into two pieces so that the top will fit into the bottom and almost touch the very bottom of the bottle.
3.  Scoop your potting soil and pack lightly into the bottles.
4.  Poke holes with a pencil and drop your seeds in, then gently cover them up with the dirt.
5.  Fill your bottle bottom half with some water and sit the top into the bottom.
6.  Place them in your window sill and watch them grow!

I hope this works, honestly we are not sure, but just planted our's and we will see!  Leave your comments and let me know what you think or what works and doesn't for you!!!

Friday, April 1, 2011

HOMEMADE HAIRCUTS: How I save $360+ a year, minus cost of suckers!!!!

 It all started about 2 years ago, my husband started to pack the kids into the car to go get a round of haircuts.  I had a sad look on my face.  He knew I had always wanted to try to cut "boy hair", but never had the guts to try it.  On the way to the local SUPERDUPER CUTTERS he turned into a Wal-mart and bought me a set of hairclippers and a huge bag of lollipops.  When he came back home I panicked.  Uh-oh.....Now I would HAVE to try it! 

It was not so bad.  I had been watching them get their haircut for years and my friend down the street who is a stylist had already showed me what to do.  Before I started snipping I watched a few videos on Youtube.  Then I took a deep breath and away the clippers flew.  I wasn't really nervous, was time to cut my husband's hair.  I was so afraid he would go to the office on Monday and be ridiculed by his peers (and fellow lawyers) by saying "Hey, what happened to you?  Your wife cut your hair!!!"  Of course it was nothing like that.  No one even noticed and over time I have gained more confidence and skill!  So, the point is....don't be afraid!  Go for it! 
(And remember, hair grows back anyway.)

 Before and Afters

We ran the numbers and by cutting my 2 sons and husband's hair every 6-8 weeks I save about $360 per year.  (I also cut my girls hair, but sometimes take them in if they want a particular style I am not sure I can do for them.)  The time I save running around is precious and they seem to like getting the one and one as well.  This morning while I was giving Gabe his haircut he wanted to talk about heaven.  When I was done he said, "Thanks Mom, it's just the way I like it.  Now, don't forget my lollipop!"


*starting w/ dry hair, comb or brush through to avoid pulling on tangles

*begin at the base of neck, (I used a #2 guard) and go up like a "C" motion against the grain.

*trim up hair until it is even with the ears

*wet hair and begin cutting sections from bottom to top.  Be sure to hold hair up and down in a line between your fingers going vertical with the head, not horizontal, except for the bangs.

*trim bangs

*using small trimmer shorten sideburns to even lengths, shave neck and even up the bottom of hairline.

This takes me about 10 minutes per child and then I pop them into the shower!!!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Homemade Play Dough

Looking for a fun and inexpensive activity?  Try making your own play dough!
It is really easy, most every ingredient is already in your pantry, and the kids will play for hours and hours! 

I have children with symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and they are serious sensory seekers.  So this activity feeds a healthy sensory diet as well, keeping them engaged and out of trouble.  We use vibrant cake icing colors and food grade flavorings for safe and yummy smelling dough!
2 cups Flour
1 cup Salt
4 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
2 cups Water
fun flavor/scents (click here to find apple, cotton candy,

Directions:  In a large pot stir flour, salt, cream of tarter, water, and oil.  Continue to mix on very low heat until the dough starts to pull away from the sides and forms a ball.* 

*it may look like this is never going to happen, but trust me it does!

Remove from heat and let dough cool.  (At this point I dump it out on a plastic board and start the next kid's batch.)  When dough is cool split into balls to color/scent.  Add a few drops at a time until you get the colors and smell you are looking for.*  If you use liquid colors it may get slightly sticky, just add a bit of flour while you are kneading it. 

*you can use extracts like vanilla, peppermint or almond, but do NOT use cinnamon because it can burn the skin!!!

When done cover your table with plastic, give them cookie cutters, rolling pins, plastic spoons, pizza cutters, etc. and go relax for a while!  The first time they play with it some you may notice the dye staining hands or the tablecloth, but it does wash out and is harmless.  It stops happening after a couple of times.

At the end of playtime we store the dough in ziplock bags and in the back of our refrigerator!  Costs pennies lasts for months!

Monday, February 28, 2011

HOW TO MAKE: Tea Stained Paper

Tea Stained paper is a favorite activity in our house. I have a friend who runs a recycling paper company and he gives us rolls of plain white paper that printers usually just throw away (Call your local newspaper and ask when they give out their short rolls). We haven't bought craft paper in years. I like to give my kids a warm, wet- not hot- teabag to use like a paint brush. We tea stain the paper, let it dry and then I write words (usually Bible Verses) and decorate our house with it. It looks rustic and is a great educational tool too!

Another use for the "free" paper is to let your kids stamp, color, or draw on it with markers and use it as wrapping paper for birthday parties.  (I haven't bought birthday wrap in years either!)

Tea staining is so easy...and it's ADDICTING!  Have fun!