Treats On A Budget

We went through several very financially tight spots in the course of our marriage and raising children. To this day, I don’t think my grown children ever remember doing without during those times. It takes a little extra work but you can preserve the integrity of an imposed budget and still provide all the surprises and treats in life for your children.
My favorite surprise treats for my children, when they were young, was ‘cupcakes’ but the actual recipe was usually a bit healthier and easily accomplished from inexpensive items. To this day, they still enjoy surprises and with their current concern for healthy eating, like the fact that I watch the ingredients. What goes around comes around!

Nutty Pineapple muffins
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 teaspoon softened butter
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 can (approximately 8 oz. give or take an ounce!) crushed pineapple
1 cup chopped nuts, your choice

Grated zest of one lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a muffin tin with cupcake papers (recipe makes six to eight muffins)
Cream together the brown sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Blend together the flour, baking powder, salt, soda, and spices. Add the flour, pineapple, and lemon zest and stir until just blended. Add the nuts and stir in.* Scoop into prepared cupcake papers filling to just a bit above halfway.
Bake for approximately 30-45 minutes but check after 30 in case your oven runs warmer. A toothpick inserted in the middle of the cupcake should come out clean.

After the cupcakes have cooled, a lemon icing is nice!

Lemon icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
Enough fresh lemon juice to form a spreadable icing
Sprinkles at this point would not go amiss!

*All the pineapple, juice and all, goes into the batter. If it seems still stiff, add bits of water to smooth out. If it is too loose, add teaspoons of flour to make it right.

Rosary Suggestions

More Rosary suggestions . . . translation: I found a new place to buy interesting beads for making Rosaries.

I enjoy making Rosaries and since there is a great demand for them all over the world, I spend a couple of hours a week working on them. However, having a bushel basket of one type or color of bead would soon have me very bored and my production would fall off drastically. SO, when I’m browsing the Internet, one of my most frequent searches is for 8mm and 10mm beads, the sizes for Hail Marys and Our Father   beads on a Rosary. AND, I’m looking for inspiration, new colors, new shapes, etc. Fortunately, there is quite a variety available but not in the price range for ‘wholesale’ Rosary output. I have two sources on Amazon but was still looking for Rosary adventure!

One day, I came across DoreensBeads on-line – They come from Hong Kong so I researched a bit with ordering from that far away, etc. I read the reviews and most everyone was pleased with the service and the prices. I was pleased to find a huge variety of beads for reasonable prices. I also incorporate bead caps on my Our Father beads and they had exactly what I wanted with some bags of 100 or more going for under a dollar. I found them about two months ago and have already ordered from them four times! The picture included with this post is of Rosaries made from these beads.


Cold Summer Treats and You Control the Sugar!

When my children were small, they used to love those plastic tubes of frozen juice treats. These days, they all more health-conscious so wouldn’t touch them anymore although they recall them fondly. Not only was the frozen treat fun to save on a hot afternoon, the fact that there was no stick made it easy to tackle and kept their hands cooled down, too. If only there was a way to make these the way we want them without the sugar, chemicals, and food coloring. You’ve guess it! If you check on, you can now find the plastic tubes being sold and most brands usually include a small funnel to get your fruit creation into the tube for freezing.

Imagine the scope for coming up with tasty but better for you treats. My daughter is talking about blending together fresh strawberries and some yogurt for her creation. Also, for a grown up barbecue, you could make up a favorite mixed drink and pass of some interesting flavors where the ice will last as long as the frozen treat. On a diet? Frozen iced tea or coffee? A lot of room for imagination here.


Another Sore Loser?

Frankly, I’ve never seen a bigger bunch of sore losers in my whole life. In spite of an election that went by the books and in spite of an election tainted by the left with voter fraud, Donald Trump was elected president. Not even knowing the basics of our Constitution, students and paid protestors are demanding we change to popular vote NOW, impeach the president-elect, and even send out hopeful tweets hinting or directly asking for someone, anyone to take out President-Election Trump. The current president says people have a right to protest and the media is having at it with soap opera like news.

And, we are not even safe from this caterwauling when wanting to do something like ordering groceries and such. Seems that CEO’s would rather jeopardize their companies than stick to their business at hand.

For over 30 years, we have been ordering our herbs and spices on-line through Penzey’s Spices. We liked their small batch processing, the quality of their product, and price. We started using them when they were only one shop back East and everyone was through the mail. Today, they have 30 stores. We have noticed that the CEO has been leaning a bit left in his monthly magazine/ad but we recognize everyone’s right to be/think as they see fit. Seems, however, that he doesn’t value our democratic process much or respects the man who won the office.

A recent Facebook Post has created an internet firestorm.
In it, CEO Bill Penzey asserts that Trump voters “just committed the biggest act of racism in American history since Wallace stood in the schoolhouse doorway 53 years ago.” Penzey references the infamous segregationist George C. Wallace, who vowed “segregation forever” and blocked the door to prohibit black students from enrolling at the University of Alabama on June 11, 1963.

Penzey offers some suggestions for Trump voters to make amends this Thanksgiving season, including making sizeable donations to the American Civil Liberties Union or the Southern Poverty Law Center. Or, he suggests, do what you do best and volunteer, noting that Republicans really are a “good bunch.”

Sorry, but having a CEO decide that all Trump voters are racist doesn’t set well with me. I don’t like condescension, either admitting that Mr. Penzey allows that we aren’t all THAT bad but need his guidance.

Fortunately, my annual order for herbs and spices kept getting delayed in ordering. I do not wish to support a CEO with feelings so far beyond the social norms of being a businessman dealing with the public. Even as I wondered where to find the spices that add that certain something to my baking and cooking, we discovered that there is some inner family turmoil about the business and some of the family departed from the Penzey flag ship, years ago, and have a spice company called The Spice House. This morning, I took my list originally slated for Penzey and ordered from The Spice House. The two sides of the family don’t seem to share political views or, at least, one of them respects their customers and their views. In fact, for a short time, The Spice House is offering free shipping if you put in NO POLITICS in the payment page.

An added bonus is that The Spice House has a lot more interesting items, spices, herbs, chilis, extracts and they are less expensive. Mr. Penzey of Penzey’s Spices doesn’t want to deal with ‘racist’ Republicans so we were more honorable to him than he was with us and we unsubscribed from his email and Facebook and put in a rather substantial order to The Spice House. A win/win, right, Mr. Penzey.

Quick Budget Friendly Muffins

Pay day is today but shopping won’t happen until the weekend so I’m getting very creative with what’s left in the cupboards and refrigerator. I hate going to the store for only one or two things because I usually come home with two bags full of bargains I just couldn’t pass up. Nope, payday shopping requires a list that I usually can keep to without too many extra expenditures . . . usually! This one recipe looked good for either a fast breakfast treat or something to go with stew or soup for dinner.

Quick Budget Friendly Muffins
1 cup whole milk
1 beaten egg
1/2 cup softened butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a muffin pan with sprayed vegetable oil. This recipe should make 12 muffins.

Mix together milk, egg, and butter in a mixing bowl. In another bole, combine the dry ingredients. Lightly combine the dry and wet ingredients being careful to not
over beat the ingredients. Bake for approximately 15 to 20 minutes or until raised and golden. Serve warm from the oven or at room temperature.

*King Arthur Flour came out with a cup-for-cup gluten-free flour which I’m anxious to try in place of the wheat flour used in this recipe. To date, I’ve been a huge fan of Better Batter but, according to King Arthur, you can substitute this gluten-free flour in your regular recipes.

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things – Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Castile Soap

These are a few of my favorite things . . .

I’m always doing a lot of research before buying most anything. I usually read the one-star reviews, first, to see how serious the complaints actually are before reading the five-star rave reviews. One can usually ascertain between one and five the real value/use/benefit of any said product. There are also the times when someone will had me something with a, “Here, try this. You’ll love it!” Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t but I’m always up for the adventure.

Thought I’d share some of my current favorite things. Although since discontinued, Costco was selling Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Castile Soap. I’m a huge fan of anything peppermint so it got my attention immediately. A quick search revealed that, as usual, Costco had the best price by far so I treated myself to a bottle of the liquid soap and wasn’t disappointed. Especially on those mornings where the California summer heat is already making itself known, it is a great shower scrub leaving your skin feeling cool for a while after the shower and smelling delicately nice. As I said, I like peppermint. In addition, Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Castile Soap has a multitude of other uses. Such as:

1. I use this as a body and face wash. It only takes a small amount to get through a shower. It doesn’t dry out your skin and won’t interfere in any cologne you might add on later.

2. When you feel the hair spray and other hair products are weighing down your hair, this stuff is a great scalp shampoo and rinses clean. Followed up with your favorite cream rinse and you have manageable hair for the rest of the day. (Yes, Dr. Bronner sells a great stay-in cream for after your shampoo!)

3. It works well as a shaving cream without any burns or scrapes.

4. Combining ½ cup of the soap with a cup of baking soda really cleans and deodorizes your laundry.

5. Using ½ cup of soap in about three gallons of hot water makes a good floor mop. Also noticed that ants do not like this stuff so it seems to have kept any thirsty pests out of my kitchen this year.

6. It makes a good scrub for fruits and vegetables. Just a dash in a bowl of warm water and scrub with your hands to get off any dirt or residue. Rinse in cold water.

7. It is a good wash for your dog. Wet down the dog and use what you need (depends on size of dog) to wash down you dog, rinse.

8. A mixture of one tablespoon of peppermint soap in a quart of water makes a good anti-bug spray for your plants. Really have a problem, add a bit of cayenne pepper and/or cinnamon into the mix. Put in a spray bottle and rescue your plants, chase away the bugs, and make your house smell great in one process.

Since Costco no longer offers this product, the next best price I found was on Health stores sell it but it is usually a lot more expensive.

Crafts and the Annual Christmas Fair

A friend asked me how I had fared at the fair this year and I have to say that in spite of a slow start, everyone seemed to get adequate business although many of us were buying from each other at times! We are ‘sister’ parishes with another parish as the bishop is looking to combine us, one day, into one, large parish. Sad to say, however, I didn’t see anyone from the ‘other’ parish joining in or checking out the great items for sale this year. And, I’m the only one from the ‘other’ parish who comes over to join in this event.

We had a lot of really interesting and fun vendors this year which made some last-minute Christmas shopping very easy if you were looking for unique or homemade. I even got a special order of the spicy/sweet sugared almonds I was selling!

The slow beginning of the day was a bit of a downer but several people came up with suggestions on how to increase the flow of people next year got everyone renewed and excited about participating next year.

The pictures here are views of my booth at the fair.