A blog about family, food and fun!

Tag: fun

Pumpkin Farms and Pumpkin Carving!

Pumpkin Farms and Pumpkin Carving!

In honor of Halloween I thought I would post some pictures from our pumpkin farm visit and pumpkin carving extravaganza. We have been going to the pumpkin farm with the same group of friends for the last five years and our kids love this tradition! […]

Indoor Seed Starting Resources

Indoor Seed Starting Resources

Indoor Seed Starting Time   It is that time of year again when I start to think about what seeds I need to start indoors. This is our third year gardening at our house and the second year for us starting seeds indoors. Last year […]

Uber Frugal Month Challenge Week 4

Uber Frugal Month Challenge Week 4

We are entering our final days of the Frugalwoods Uber Frugal Month Challenge and it has been a great refresher for us to get back into our frugal habits. I am finally caught up on all of the emails and they really made us think about how we spent our money. Last week was a rough one for us and the entire week seemed against us but it did not effect our spending and we are on track with our grocery spending for the month. Yay!

 

Tacos made with canned refried beans, leftover pork, feta, olives and corn tortillas with salad.

 

We dug into our pantry a bit this week and used up some cans including olives, refried beans, tomatoes and a can of chicken. My kids love the cans of Costco chicken made into chicken salad and it is one of the few things I can send in their lunches that they will actually eat. I have tried making it from scratch chicken but even though I love it my kids are iffy on it.  We also used up some of the corn tortillas I found in our freezer. There are still quite a few in there though! Here are a couple of our other meals:

 

Salad, leftover refried beans, frozen corn and what we call “basic” cooked pork.

 

Homemade meatballs, homemade spaghetti sauce, gluten-free noodles, steamed carrots and salad.

 

As you can see a simple green salad with sunflower seeds has become a staple in our house.  I have always loved salads and try to eat at least one a day but I fell out of that habit while I was pregnant with our son. For some reason any sort of fresh fruit or vegetables made me sick and nearly two years later I am still trying to recover from it. Have you ever had a weird food aversion like that? Thankfully I can now eat salad again but I am still working on fruit. It just isn’t appealing to me any more even though I used to love it. I am hoping this summer when we are out picking fresh fruit it will spark my interest again! Our kids are not super fond of salad although they will eat a piece or two of lettuce sometimes when we ask them to try it so we always offer another vegetable and give them a choice of what they want. In the summer when we have lettuce growing in the garden the kids eat it all day long so apparently lettuce is only tasty to them straight from the garden? I may have to finally try growing some indoors and see if they will eat it.

 

Homemade English muffin, homemade pork sausage and vegan cheese.

 

One of the things my husband did for the kids this week was make homemade English muffins and make them breakfast sandwiches in the morning. They absolutely loved them and my son ate a whole one by himself which is crazy! Other days they ate them with peanut butter or even some of our homemade jam. We have ground our own meat for many years and my husband makes the most delicious garlic sausage. He made it this week and we have been eating it all week. I love garlic so it has been wonderful!

 

Homemade kettle corn.

 

The other food we have been munching on quite a bit lately is popcorn.  My husband loves his spicy but the kids and I love his dairy-free kettle corn made with coconut oil. We have been making it so much that we wore out his stove-top popcorn maker.  A new one is on our list of high priority household items to buy in the next couple of months. We use it several times a week for a cheap and easy snack!

 

A very windy and rainy day walk.

 

We had more than a little bit of cabin fever this week. Our kids were finally getting over two months of back to back colds and needed to get out and do something. Since we are being frugal we tried to find things for them to do at home but there reached a point last week when we had about 30 minutes to take them outside in the windy and very wet weather to jump in puddles to burn off some energy. It ended up being tons of fun! We went on the trail through the woods that I have been hearing about since we moved in but never gotten around to walking on and it was a pretty trail to walk on. We ended up doing a 3/4 (2yo and I) and 1 mile (4yo and Mr. Oscoey) loop and both kids walked the whole way and jumped in as many puddles as they could.  We will probably start doing more family walks around the neighborhood like that, especially since our son didn’t need to be carried. It is a great free activity for the family to do and it is important that our kids know the layout of the neighborhood for when they are older.

 

Water color finger painting.

 

Another boredom buster we did was to break out the paint. I realized we stopped doing our afternoon art because we got busy with the holidays. We have started it up again and the kids picked painting this time and had a blast. We cut up some sponges I bought a couple of years ago to paint with and our son wanted water colors so he practiced his painting skills and blending colors. They did make quite a bit of mess and we had to talk about how we behave while we paint but overall it was a success.

 

Puppy damage…

 

One unexpected thing that came up this week was some damage our puppy did to our wall. My husband patched and repainted this spot masterfully a couple of weeks ago but our puppy, being the crazy dog that he is, ran into the wall again and dented it with his gigantic bony elbow.  He is incredibly observant and noticed right away that the wall was slightly different so he investigated it and discovered he could peel back a section to chew on. Seriously. He did this while I was dealing with a kid “emergency” and he was not the least bit remorseful. In fact he tore another chunk off as soon as I wasn’t looking. I am really thankful that my husband is able to repair minor drywall damage and we do not have to pay someone to do it.  We have saved so much money doing small repairs ourselves and Mr. Oscoey has gotten better over the years and now you can barely tell that it was repaired. I highly recommend that you learn how to do minor house repairs like this so that you aren’t paying big bucks to have it fixed.

 

Overall the week was super frugal and we hardly bought anything besides necessary groceries like milk, fruit and some small key ingredients for recipes. I am excited to write up our end of the month recap later this week so look for it on the blog!

 

The Uber Frugal Month Challenge is almost over but how are you being frugal in your every day life?

 

 

How we Avoid Birthday Present Overgiftingitus

How we Avoid Birthday Present Overgiftingitus

When my oldest daughter turned one many years ago she was inundated with so many gifts they filled a small kiddie pool. She was the first grand kid on my side and her dad has a large family plus being the first child of our […]

A New Beginning in Budgeting Part 3: Reducing our Clothing Spending

A New Beginning in Budgeting Part 3: Reducing our Clothing Spending

Hello and welcome to the third installment of our A New Beginning in Budgeting Series! Our first installment was “A New Beginning in Budgeting Part 1: Using Quicken to Build a Buffer” and our second was “A New Beginning in Budgeting Part 2: Adjusting our […]

Dried Banana Chips

Dried Banana Chips

One of the easiest, cheapest and healthiest snacks I make my kids is dried banana chips. My son absolutely loves them! We buy a couple of bunches of bananas at Costco for $1.39, slice them up and put them into the dehydrator and at the end of the day we have enough snack food for a couple of months.  They are great to store a sandwich bag of in your purse for those days when your kids are starving but you somehow have used up all of the snacks you have stashed in your car. This may happen to me on occasion. My kids are always hungry! I love keeping them in my purse instead of granola bars because dried bananas weigh a lot less and it helps keep my purse from getting too heavy.

 

Gather all of your ingredients. Just two ingredients here!  Try not to look at the sad bunch of bananas on the right missing a few of it’s mates. We may have gotten a little impatient waiting for our bananas to ripen and eaten a few. Make sure your bananas are not overripe. The drying process intensifies the flavor and if you have any sort of blemishes when you are drying the bananas it can cause your dried fruit to go bad faster. I do not dry my bananas all the way to crispy since my son likes them a little chewy. I would not feel comfortable storing our chewy bananas long term so we eat them within three months. For long term storage they will need to be dried until crispy and kept away from moisture, heat and light during storage.  If they go bad and you do end up throwing a few into the compost bin remember, the whole bunch of bananas cost $1.39 so you are not breaking the bank tossing questionable food out.  Always err on the side of caution!

 

 

First things first, squeeze your lemon into a strainer that has been placed over your large bowl. This will catch any seeds or large chunks of pulp.  I used a hand held juicer to get every last bit of lemon juice out of the lemons since they are a little on the older side.

 

 

Next add your cold water. I filled the bowl most of the way and left room for my bananas.

 

 

Lay out your trays and bowl in a way that optimizes speed.  I like to have my bowl right next to the tray that I am working on so that I can quickly place my banana slices onto the tray. Not pictured here is my compost bag which I forgot to get out until after I had sliced my first banana.

 

 

I put a towel under my tray so that the extra liquid doesn’t spill everywhere. Lemon juice can stain towels so it is best to use an older one. I rinsed my towel in some water as soon as I was done to minimize any acid spots.

 

 

Slicing in progress! I put my banana peels directly into the compost bag for easy cleanup.  My banana slices were a little thick this time but if that happens it is ok. They will just need to be dried for longer.

 

 

Place your bananas on the tray after swishing them around in your lemon bath. The banana slices should not be touching but they do not need a lot of room in between since they will shrink down quite a bit. Always rinse your hands thoroughly after placing your bananas so that you do not have lemon juice sitting on your hands. The lemon juice can be an irritant plus you do not want to spread it all over your knife and work space.

 

 

Once you have slices all of your bananas place them into the dehydrator. My almost two bunches of bananas made two and a half trays but I didn’t really place them optimally since I knew it wouldn’t fill the dehydrator.  Make sure you leave empty slots between your trays if you don’t fill the dehydrator so that the air will circulate better.

 

 

Easy clean up! I make sure and scrub the counter really well after making anything with lemon juice so it won’t stain our awesome laminate counter top…

 

 

I usually check my dehydrator after a few hours and rotate the banana chips as needed.  We got about a half of a gallon sized Ziploc bag out of our bananas.  We eat them almost every day so they should last 2-3 months. I store them in the dark pantry away from moisture. Every time I open the bag I give it a little sniff and check to see if I smell anything funky. I also look over the bananas pretty frequently to make sure they are not changing color or growing anything obvious but you should be able to smell if they have gone bad pretty quickly.  We haven’t had any problems with our bananas but I make sure not to make more than what we can eat in a few months.

 

If you are going to store your bananas for more than a few months you should dry them until they are crispy and store them in a vacuumed sealed container in a cool, dry place. It is important to get as much moisture out as possible and keep the oxygen out if you are planning on using them for long term storage.

 

Here are some websites with great tips for using your dehydrator for every day items and long term storage:

 

Modern Survival Blog

Learning and Yearning

National Center for Home Food Preserving

Trayor Wilderness

Pioneering Today

Back to Our Roots

 

What healthy snacks are you making at home?

 

Dried Banana Chips

October 26, 2017
: 15 min
: 12 hr
: Easy

Make these super easy banana chips for a healthy snack!

By:

Ingredients
  • 2 or more bunches of bananas
  • The juice of 1 lemon
Directions
  • Step 1 Juice your lemon into a strainer held over a large bowl. You can use cheesecloth as well.
  • Step 2 Add enough cold water to the bowl to fill it most of the way but leave enough room for your sliced bananas.
  • Step 3 Slice 3 or 4 bananas into the bowl and stir. It doesn’t matter how thick you slice them but the thicker they are the longer they will take to dry. It is more important that they are uniform in shape.
  • Step 4 Stir your sliced bananas a bit then lay them out on your dehydrator trays. I place a towel under the trays to absorb any extra juice.
  • Step 5 Repeat slicing and placing your bananas until you have either filled your trays or used all of your bananas.
  • Step 6 Place bananas into the dehydrator at 135 degrees for about 8-12 hours.
  • Step 7 Rotate and check the dryness of your bananas every few hours.
  • Step 8 Place into a Ziploc bag and enjoy!

 

Gluten and Dairy Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gluten and Dairy Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Baking chocolate chip cookies with the kids is one of my favorite family activities. When we had to go dairy and gluten free I was a little upset but I found a way to make chocolate chip cookies with some easy substitutions. Back when we […]

Blueberry Picking 2017

Blueberry Picking 2017

We have had a super busy summer and I was really bummed that we missed the July blueberry picking season. Our bushes are only a couple of years old and don’t produce anywhere near enough berries for us to freeze. They were eagerly eaten every […]

Garden Update July 28, 2017

Garden Update July 28, 2017

Summer is upon us and the vegetable garden is in full swing. My pumpkins have taken over the garden space and the spaghetti squash is not far behind it.  The kids and I are harvesting berries, green beans and squash every other day.  I have been blanching and freezing small batches of green beans a couple of times a week since we have an over abundance of produce at the moment. It is wonderful to have fresh produce from the garden every day! I have already noticed a reduction in our grocery bill.

 

 

I went to go take pictures of the bush beans we have been harvesting and I discovered that we had eaten most of them! There are still some smaller ones left that should ripen in the next week or two but then we will be done with green beans until our pole beans start to produce some time in the next few weeks.

 

 

We only have two pumpkins so far but this one is gigantic.  I have been excitedly watching it grow over the past few weeks and my daughter finally got a good look at it the other day. We have decided that it is wonderful even if it doesn’t ripen. We will still carve it green!

 

 

There are several spaghetti squash in various stages of growth around the garden.  They are definitely an exercise in patience! Spaghetti squash is a family favorite and they seem to be taking forever to ripen.  Our very first one is just starting to turn yellow so I am hoping we can harvest it soon. We will be curing most of them so we can eat them in the winter but I want to try one this summer for sure!

 

 

I planted some radishes a few weeks ago and they are growing nicely. I completely forgot to write down when they popped up so I could keep track of when they would be ready to pick but I will be thinning them this week so I can check on their progress then.

 

 

They are kind of hard to see but my daughter and I planted our bottle gourd seedlings last weekend. They are doing well in their new space, crammed in front of some squash plants and an errant pumpkin vine.  I will definitely need to plant pumpkins somewhere else next year. They take up way too much space!

 

 

Our pole beans finally seem to be getting some legs on them.  I checked them again yesterday and one of them is already a couple of feet taller than our tepee so I will have to figure out a solution for that soon.

 

 

My ground cherry plant that I spent many months hoping would germinate and then carefully keeping healthy under the grow light has a couple of ripe fruits! My daughter was very excited to eat the first couple of them.  Our volunteer ground cherries are doing well and have some of the largest fruits I have seen, some are the size of a large grape.

 

 

We have two cucumbers. They aren’t very long but they are definitely fat! We ate the larger one last night and it was delicious! I will probably harvest the other one in the next day or two. I double checked our seed packet and the cucumbers are supposed to grow to 10 inches but this particular plant had several female blossoms shrivel up so I think it can’t support too many large cucumbers at once.  I have read it is better to harvest them to encourage new fruit.  Our cucumber vines are still pretty small at this point but I am a little nervous for how many they will produce later in the summer!

 

 

I thought I would also post a more general picture of the garden.  We have had a ton of growth since the last time I posted one.  Our tomatoes are coming along nicely but our broccoli is still struggling.  I am going to plant seed starts indoors ASAP for a fall/winter crop.  Adding the lavender plants to our garden has really helped with pollination.  Our marigolds all got eaten by slugs but I am sure we will have more next year since I think they are self-seeding.  We are having a huge problem with both crows and squirrels eating a majority of the squash blossoms but it hasn’t really affected our yellow zucchini or spaghetti squash production so I am not too worried about it. They are mostly eating the male blossoms so we aren’t able to harvest and eat any but honestly we haven’t had time anyways.

 

I am really glad we planted such a large vegetable garden this year! I am excited for more veggies to come! What is going on in your garden this week?

 

 

 

 

Gluten-free, Dairy-free Banana Bread

Gluten-free, Dairy-free Banana Bread

Banana bread was one of those things I always meant to make but never got around to. We would put bananas in the freezer and inevitably forget about them. I have tossed so many bananas into the yard waste I can’t even remember. Part of […]