Saturday, January 31, 2015

Camouflage Cake

 My son's girlfriends birthday was a few days ago.  Like with all the kids, I just had to make her a birthday cake!  I love making cakes for people.

She loves camo so when I was looking for ideas I came across this cake mix at the store.  It costs $2.98 per box.  I was thinking the cake looked cool but surely I could do that for cheaper!

I had a box of white cake mix at home that I paid probably around $.50 for with coupons a couple weeks ago.  I made up the mix and then divided it into 4 bowls.  Using the wilton food coloring I had on hand, I colored the batter camo colors.

I used 2 8" round cake pans.  I took spoonfuls of each of the colors of batter and dropped them  sporadically in the pan.  

I baked the cakes according to the directions on the box.  

They turned out awesome!  I used the same colors to dye white frosting for decorating the cake.  

Here was the end product.  
And of course here is a picture of the inside of the cake!  

Friday, January 30, 2015

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Jump Start to Eating Better

Along with not paying attention to what we were spending we were also not paying attention to what we were eating.  Both my husband and I are at our all time heaviest weight.  Time to get some motivation and get losing some of those extra pounds.

It's hard though, right?  We have gotten caught up in the loop of too tired, to busy to exercise.  Everyone tells me if I start working out and eating better I'll have more energy and feel better.  But it's hard to get motivated  when you are so.tired.all.the.time.  Since I've gained weight I have become more fatigued, my joints, especially my knees are hurting alot of the time.  Just getting up off the floor from playing with my kids is painful and difficult.  Ugh.  I am tired of feeling this way!

So to jump start our journey of getting back to eating real, healthy, naturals foods my husband and I are doing the Dr. Oz 2 week weight loss program.  Basically it's no wheat, dairy, caffeine, sugar, or alcohol for 2 weeks.  There is a recipe for a breakfast smoothie you can drink each morning which is actually very good.  You can have 6 oz of lean meat each day, 1/2 cup brown rice, and unlimited low- glycemic veggies.  There is also a vegetable detox broth that you can make and drink each day  He gives you a guide to follow and if your interested you can find more information by clicking here.

I'm hoping that this will get us back on track to eating better. We definitely need to move away from all the processed and sugar loaded foods.

We are currently on day 3.  It's been a little rough.  We both have felt very fatigued and have been suffering headaches the past couple days.  I'm hoping all this will pass and we will begin to feel better.  I can already tell my stomach problems are better so that's a plus.

It is also making it a little tough to menu plan.  I am trying to have the kids eat what we are plus adding in some fruits to their diet.  I am planning to start posting my menu plan again each Monday.

So wish us luck!  Has anyone ever tried this diet?  If so, I would love to hear from you!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Saving Money on Produce

I like to use coupons when I buy groceries.  However I find more often than not that most coupons are for products I don't use or products that are unhealthy.  You very rarely find coupons for fruits or vegetables.

So what are some ways you can save money on produce?

Grow as much as you can yourself.  Having your own garden is inexpensive, healthy, and puts food right at your fingertips.

Buy in season.  Not all produce grows year round.  Strawberries at the store a couple weeks ago were $3.99/lb.  If I wait till Summer I can get them for $.99/lb.  Stick to what's in season for maximum savings.

Buy in large quantity if you find a good deal.  You can always freeze or can the extra.  I've bought pears, apples, and peaches in large quantities while they were in season.  We eat what we can while they are fresh and I preserve the rest.  I've done the same with strawberries and blueberries.  We eat what we can and then I freeze what's left.  Frozen berries are perfect for smoothies.  You can enjoy produce year round without paying the extra cost.

Buy at Farmer's markets.  Usually you can find a fair deal through local farmers.  Plus it's always good to buy local.

Pick your own farms.  Some farmers allow you to come to their land and pick your own produce.  If you are local to my area (Des Moines, IA) here is a great link from the ISU extension office for pick your own farms.

Watch for sales.  Of course you can always watch your local stores for sales on produce.  Plan your meals around the produce that is on sale and/or in season at the time.

How do you save money on produce?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Garden Thoughts

Here in Iowa we are getting a taste of Spring.  The weather has been wonderful-temperatures in the 40's and 50's.  It makes me start thinking of my garden.
(Our garden June of 2012)

There are so many benefits to having a garden.  At the top of the list of course is the money you save.  The food you grow can also be much healthier than store bought produce.

 There is just something about growing your own food that I find appealing.  I like being self sufficient.  I enjoy being outside.  I feel good about providing my family with clean, healthy food that we grew ourselves.  Knowing exactly how and where everything was grown.  Knowing and controlling what chemicals, if any, where used.  Getting your family involved with the planting, harvesting and preserving.  An added bonus, you get to play in the dirt!  I absolutely love having a garden.

I have started getting seed catalogs in the mail which is another sign that Spring is near .

I've been thinking and planning out this years garden.  Here is the list I have so far of what I will be planting...

Bell peppers
Green Beans

I am so ready for Spring!

Do you garden?  What are your favorite things to grow?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Back on the Wagon

Since my blogging break, my family as well as myself have gotten sloppy.  Sloppy with spending money, sloppy about turning lights off, sloppy about taking long showers, you get the idea.  I am not happy to admit that for the first time in forever, we have, wait for it... credit card debt.  It pains me to even type that.

I could fill you with excuses.  Unexpected expenses came up, we had multiple car issues, health issues and so on.  But, along with all that we also went out to eat a lot, bought unnecessary items, and just didn't keep track of expenses the way we should.  Basically we just got lazy.

It's ok though.  We have recognized the problem and are ready to change.  We are excited to begin paying off our debts and putting money back into our savings account.

So let's start with an easy fix.  Eating out.  For our family of 6 (my oldest son has moved out) we spend an average of $50 each time we go out to dinner.  If we go to a sit down restaurant we can spend upwards of $100.  Even if we eat at McDonalds we are looking at $35 or so for all of us.  If we eat out twice a week that's $100/wk, $400/mo, $1200/yr.  For unhealthy, processed food!

Our goal right now is to completely cut eating out, at least until we get caught up on some bills.  Once we are caught up, then eventually we can work back in to eating dinner out once in awhile.  I'm not gonna lie-we like to go out to dinner.  Who doesn't like to go out with family or friends and enjoy a night away from the kitchen?

For now cutting this unnecessary expense could save us a few hundred dollars per month.