May 22, 2012

Homemade yogurt

I recently decided that I wanted to take a shot at homemade yogurt. Both of my kids absolutely love yogurt, but I have two issues with the store bought kind:

1. It is pricey even when you buy the store brand!
2. I can never find one that is both non-fat and doesn't have sweetener in it for the kids, so I either end up compromising and choosing a non-fat one (which I hate because I want them getting the milkfat for their little brain growth!) or buying a more expensive brand (which I hate- duh).

I heard awhile back that you can make yogurt in the crockpot and decided that it was high time I tried it. And you know what???? I am so mad I didn't try this earlier! This is probably one of the EASIEST things I have ever made. Period! And it is so tasty! Jameson is still getting accostomed to the thinner texture, so I want to try some ideas to thicken it, but here is what I did. I got the recipe from this site.

What you need:
  • A crockpot
  • A bath towel
  • One half gallon of milk (they recommend starting with whole milk since 2% or skim will be thinner. I plan to try these out once I get the hang of the thickening agents)
  • 1/2 cup plain, active culture yogurt (this is just the starter. After you make your first batch you can use your own yogurt as starter! There is also a starter available at health food stores, though I have never tried this method).
  • That's it!

 Now, before you get started, this involves almost no work, but a lot of time. You will want to start this about 5 1/2 hours before bedtime or first thing in the morning. If you do it at night it will be finished the next morning. But you will only work on it a total of MAYBE five minutes!

First, pour the entire half gallon in your crockpot (PS- mine isn't dirty- promise! Just stained from being much used!!!)

Turn on low and let cook for 2 1/2 hours. 

After 2 1/2 hour has passed, unplug the crockpot and leave sitting for 3 additional hours. This allows the milk to cool to a temperature that will not kill the active cultures in the yogurt.

Next, pull 2 cups of the warm milk from the crockpot and put in a bowl. Add the 1/2 cup yogurt into the milk and mix well.

Pour the milk/yogurt mixture back into the crockpot and stir well.

Put the lid back on the crockpot and wrap in a bath towel. Sit in a spot where it will be as undisturbed as possible. Let sit for 8 hours, or overnight. If it sits for over 8 hours, it won't be a huge issue, it will just be a tangier yogurt.

The next morning, open your crockpot and be astonished at your thickened yogurt! 

You can choose to flavor it now or with each serving. This time I made one cup that I premixed with the honey just to experiment! Honey is a great sweetener for it, but you can also do fruit or flavorings. I also have seen suggestions of jam or jello mix, but I haven't tried these personally.

This was the result! Two 32 oz containers plus about a cup leftover. These two containers of yogurt would have cost me $1.79 each from the store. Because I used yogurt from my previous batch for a starter, I don't really count that in the cost, so my only cost was the $1.00 for the milk! Even if you don't get lucky and find some marked down milk, it will cost you about $1.99 (in my area, anyway), which is still almost half the price for much tastier yogurt!


May 21, 2012

Shopping trips- Target, Rays, and Aldi

I thought I would go ahead and get these posted since I am not always so good at getting stuff posted in time. Plus, I figured that if I post them now you would still have time to get some of this before some of the sales wrap up!

I actually hit up each of these shops this morning while I was killing time in between a dentist and eye doctor's appointment (yes, I had a very medical morning! I wanted to get both in on the same day so I only had to worry about getting a sitter once!)


Bananas: $.29/lb (on sale all week with no limit!)
Milk: Each marked down to $1.00 (I plan to use a few of these for the homemade yogurt I will (hopefully) blog about soon!


Pineapple: $1.29
Strawberries: $.99


Glow bracelets: $1.00 (These were fabulous last summer on the fourth of July to keep the kids entertained while we waited for fireworks).
Three boxes of pasta: On sale for $1.00 each, had a $1.00/3 Target coupon= $2.00 for all three
2 bottles of  bug spray: $4.29 each (normal price), had 2 $2/1 Target coupon (no longer available) and a $1.00/1 manufacturer's coupon= $1.29 each (note: Bug spray is something that, assuming you don't use a ton each summer, you can get by with NEVER paying full price for!)

May 19, 2012

Shopping trips for the week

This was kind of an exciting shopping week for me. This is the week that I normally do a larger amount of shopping because it is the week I buy for the next 2-3 weeks worth of meals. However, when I sat down to do my menu plan, I discovered that I really didn't need to buy much! I was able to use what I had in the pantry and freezer to cover most of my meals, so I just needed to pick up a few things here and there and grab some deals I needed to get! It is so exciting when I have weeks like this because it makes all my couponing/stockpiling worth it!


Ibuprofen: 2 @ $.99 each, had 2 $1.00/1 pain relief item Target coupon= FREE!!!
2 Barilla whole wheat pastas: 2 @ $1.37 each, had 2 $1.00/1 coupons (no longer available)= $.37 each
2 Up and up aluminum foils: $1.29 each, had two $.75/1 Target coupons (no longer available) = $.54 each
2 packs face sponges: $1.77 each, had two $.75/1 Target coupons= $1.02 each
3 Boxes Market pantry pasta: $1.02 each, had one $1.00/3 pasta Target coupons= $2.06 for all three

Total with tax: $6.57


6 packs sliced cheese: $1.00 each
5 allergy relief packs: $1.00 each
1 Ella's Kitchen Red one smoothie snack: $1.00, had a $1.00/1 Ella's Organic product: FREE!!!

Total with tax: $11.99


Baby carrots: $.49
Chocolate chips: $1.79
Tortillas: $.99
Turkey ham lunch meat: $2.79
Ground turkey: $1.49
Black beans: $.59 each
Rotel: $.59
Canned corn: $.39
Rotini pasta: $.99

Total with tax: $12.56

May 16, 2012

Mommy wars

With the recent Time magazine cover, there has been a wildfire of mommy wars being started. For those of you not familiar with this term, it is when a hot issue is presented on social networking, message boards, blogs, etc that gets mothers pitted against each other, being critical of the choices of other moms and trying to make sure everyone knows that their way is the right way.

I am sure this little intro doesn't leave you wondering how I feel about these. So it might strike you as odd that I am going to try to start one, right here, right now. 

You ready? It's going to be good.

I am going to try to start a mommy war against...


That's right! I think that, as mothers, we all need to gang up on this awful thing called mommy wars. I don't know about you guys, but I am SICK of them. I often like to read books set a few hundred years ago, or books about cultures that are more secluded from the media world (in other countries, Amish communities) and when I read these books, I find myself jealous that the mothers work together, not against each other, to raise their children. I so wish that we lived in a world where we could respect each others differences as mothers rather than try to critique each other. As women and mothers, don't we owe it to each other to be their to support one another, not judge?

Now, I am not telling you to turn the other way when your friend who is a mother is doing something they may not know is dangerous. But, there is a big difference between politely cluing a friend in on new car seat guidelines, as opposed to bashing them for being so uninformed about their child's safety. It is one thing to fill your mommy pal in on how much you enjoyed breastfeeding and offering to be there for support through their struggles, it is another thing to beat them down on their choice to formula feed and make them feel guilty for doing what they feel is best (especially when they have reached a point where they can't go back on this decision).  

There are TON of different parenting styles. And, you know what, THAT IS GOOD! Although I feel that research, my maternal instincts, and my teachings from mothers in my life have lead me to my parenting style make my parenting style the "right" way, that doesn't make it the right way for every mom. Some moms need more space, and THAT IS OKAY. Some parents find that they parent best and their child fares best when they are more hands on. MORE POWER TO YOU! Some mothers find that they serve their families best as a stay at home mom, and others find that having a job outside the home allows them to give themselves more fully to their children when they are with them and contribute financially to the family. Why does one have to be a "right" answer????? 

It is time that we stop obsessing over the "right" way to parent and realize that the best way that we can help our children and the children of our friends grow the best is to stop attacking every little thing other moms do and start showing some support. You don't have to agree with every little decision that your friends make as parents- they probably don't agree with all of yours! As long as their children are healthy, are having their needs met, and feel loved, they do not need every little decision they make being critiqued! 

It is time that us mommies make a stand against these mommy wars going on and learn that running another mother down for her choices will do nothing but bum her out and take her focus away from doing what is best for her children. But offering gentle guidance when needed and giving encouragement and support when she needs it will go a long way!

Okay... stepping off the soapbox now... :)

May 15, 2012

Shopping trips for last week

Okay, I am (yet again) a tad late getting these up. My goal is to get them up over the weekend before the sales end so that you have the opportunity to take advantage of the deals I find. Hopefully I will start getting better now that Jameson is starting to feel better and my life starts to get back to normal!


Merona shirt: On sale for $6, had a $3/1 coupon= $3
2 Banana boat sunscreens: $.97 each, had two $1/1 Banana boat items coupons= FREE!!!
1 Coppertone sunscreen: $.97, had a $1/1 Coppertone coupon= FREE!!!

Used Target debit card to get 5% off

Total with tax: $3.03


1 bag baby carrots: $.77
6 bags vegetables: $.69 each
2 Jars Jif peanut butter: $1.77 each, had 2 $.55 coupons (no longer available)= $1.22 each

Total with tax: $8.11


10 blocks of cheese: On sale for $1.00 each (by far the best price I have seen since I started watching my grocery budget!)

Total with tax: $10.81


4 Planters peanut butter: $1.98 each, had 2 $1/2 Planters Peanut Butter 04/29/2012 SS Insert (exp 05/27/2012)= $1.48 each
1 half gallon milk: $1.99 (I got this to make homemade yogurt. I will try to do a blog post about this soon now that I know I can actually do it!)
2 gallons skim milk: Marked down to $.99 each (I stuck these in the freezer to use for baking)
2 Kemps ice cream novelties: $2.98 each, had $1/2 coupon, $2.48 each (not an amazing deal, but I needed the ice cream sandwiches to make this for Mother's Day)

Total with tax: $16.29

May 9, 2012

My little trooper

On Monday Jameson had his tonsils and adenoids taken out as well as got ear tubes. Beforehand I did all the prep I can (because that is what I do when I am anxious about something). I stocked up on ice cream, pudding, popsicles and yogurt. I also picked up a few books for Jameson at consignment sale so he would have a special treat when we were waiting for his surgery since I knew he would be nervous.

The night before we decided it would be best to have Delaney stay with grandma so that we wouldn't have to stress about getting her somewhere early in the morning and could just focus on Jameson. We were really nervous about this whole thing because Jameson LOVES his grandma and loves spending the night there, so we were concerned that he would get mad that sissy was getting to stay there and he wasn't. Since he is really too old to just not notice that she wasn't there, we pretty much had to be honest with him. In order to get him excited instead of mad about it, we told him that when we got home we would have a super secret campout. That pretty much did the trick. When we got to Shaun's mom's house, Jameson ran in and told his aunt that "we are only dropping sissy off. We can't stay, we have to go to our super secret campout". I told him that he wasn't supposed to tell the secret, so when grandma got home he told her that he couldn't tell her what we were doing because it was a secret. Hilarious! Well, I guess I am letting the cat out of the bag, because I am not only telling you about our campout, I have pictures:

The next morning we tried to keep things pretty calm so that he wouldn't be upset. Luckily he was in a pretty good mood (sometime soon, once we actually have it figured out, I will blog about our new routine that has caused a 180 degree mood change in our kids!) We told him that we were going to a special doctor that was going to help him sleep better. As always, he asked if he could bring a toy and I told him yes (if that kid only knew- I probably would have let him bring just about anything that morning!). He chose his Curious George stuffed animal and three of his Thomas trains (more specifically, Gordon, Edward, and James- his favorites). I put him in comfy clothes (he is all about the comfy pants right now) and headed into town. Shaun and I were careful to have our breakfasts eaten before we got him up since he couldn't eat anything. He actually didn't ask for anything until right before his surgery, so we really lucked out.

Once we got there and got all checked in, we were taken back to the pre-op room. He was a little anxious about going back, but the nurse was super nice and really eased his fears. I also told him that he got a surprise when he got back there (the Thomas books) so that helped. Once we got back they weighed him in (while holding Curious George that he didn't want to put down) and listened to his heart, etc. He was visibly unsure but doing pretty well. No matter how much coaxing he did he had no interest in wearing the gown (gotta admit- little disappointed since I think that would have been super cute) so he did his surgery in just his comfy pants. When the scrub nurse came to take him back and said we couldn't go with him I was certain we were in for the meltdown I had been waiting on. He was very resistant until he was informed that there was a button he got to push (being the button going back to the operating room) and he was won over. He walked hand in hand with the nurse down the long hall. I peeked out just in time to see him jump up to hit the button. I really wish I would have gotten a picture- he just looked so big and little all at the same time walking through that big door to the OR carrying Curious George.

During his surgery we went back to the waiting room with my mom. I was really nervous, but, luckily, my mom and I just sat and talked the whole time and really kept my mind off of it.

When they came to get us to talk to us about the surgery they sat us in a little room (which they do with every patient due to HIPAA laws). We had to wait about three LONG minutes for the surgeon. I have no idea why, but I had a horrible feeling while we were waiting. His surgery was only about 45 minutes when they told us it would last an hour, so I was really freaking out that something had gone wrong. When his surgeon walked in I braced myself, only for him to tell us that everything went great (sigh of relief). He gave us brief instructions and then sent us back to wait with my mom until Jameson was awake enough to see.

Then came the heartbreaking part. When I turned the corner to the recovery area, I could instantly hear my baby crying. Ugh! I wanted to rip him out of the nurses arms the minute I got there. He sat on my lap for awhile before we had to start trying the fluids. If your kiddo ever has to have their tonsils out, let me let you in on something- this is the WORST part. He was absolutely resistant to the fluids. After trying a million different methods and fluids, we eventually had to resort to squirting it with a syringe into his mouth. The whole time he would scream that he just wanted a hug (his way to get his face hidden in my shoulder- and to break my heart!)

Snuggles with daddy after surgery

Eventually we got all the fluids in him and got to go home. As soon as the IV was out he really perked up and started talking about wanting to play. The entire afternoon with him was a battle to get him to drink fluids, but we eventually learned a trick that involved, "you get this once you take a sip" which seemed to do the trick. "This" being another game on the iPad, a game with grandma, whatever it took! After he started getting some fluids and eating some applesauce he was feeling a ton better.

See? Much better!
Since then it has kind of been a roller coaster, but at least a controllable one! He isn't really eating much so far, but the fluids have gotten much easier. He is ridiculously resistant to the pain meds, but we are starting to get that figured out somewhat. I am definitely ready for him to be feeling better!

I do have to say, as awful as this whole thing has been, something wonderful/strange has already come out of it. When I was going to bed last night, I discovered that when I walk by his and Delaney's rooms I always listen for their breathing. I don't think I ever really noticed that I did it before. The reason that I noticed it this time is because I couldn't hear his! Ever since he was a baby I could hear him breathing, and the past 8 months or so I could hear his freight train snoring. I had to actually step into his room to hear his breathing. Now, he is still snoring a bit right now due to the swelling and mucus in his throat, but it is so much calmer and quieter! It is wonderful to not be hearing constant gasping for air in the middle of a peaceful sleep! (And the fact that I can hear his sister's makes me nervous that we may be repeating this in a few years with her. Ugh!)

Thanks for sticking through this super long post (geez I do that a lot!)! Keep sending up prayers for his recovery, and if you could throw a prayer in there for him to realize that it is medicine and not cyanide, that would be swell...

May 8, 2012

Shopping trips this week

Sorry I a little late getting this posted. With Jameson's surgery Monday it has thrown my whole week off!

I had to do a ton of shopping to limit any shopping this week, plus I needed to stock up on stuff for after his surgery. Because there is so much, I am just going to highlight the good deals. Sorry (lazy)!!!

Dillons #1

3 lbs chicken breast: $5.69, has a $1.25/1 coupon sent by the store= $4.44
Brussels sprouts: $1.00, had a free item coupon sent by the store= FREE!!!
Two canisters of oatmeal: $2.99 each, had $.50/2 coupon sent by the store= $2.74 each
Edy's snack size ice cream: $1.25, had a free item coupon that printed at my last visit= FREE!!!
International delight coffee cream: $3.69, had a free item coupon sent by the company= FREE!!!
3 Voskos yogurt: $1.50 each, had 3 free item coupons sent by the company= FREE!!!
Ice cream: $2.99, had a $.40/1 coupon sent by the store= $2.59
4 Pampers wipes: $1.99 each, had 4 $.75/1 coupons doubled to $1.00= $.99 each
2 blocks of cheese: $1.88 each, had a $.50/2 coupon sent by the store= $1.63 each
1 Yoplait greek yogurt: $.99, had a free item coupon that printed at a previous visit= FREE!!!

Dillons trip #2

10 half gallons milk: On sale for $1.00 each
Hamburger and hot dog buns: $.49 each
2 Reach floss: $1.00 each, had 2 $1.00/1 coupons (no longer available)= FREE!!!
3 Voskos yogurts: $1.50 each, had 3 free item coupons from the company= FREE!!!
2 Yoplait greek yogurts: Marked down to $.75 each, had a $.50/2 coupon doubled to $1.00= $.25 each
2 Suave body washes: $1.99 each, had 2 $.50/1 coupons (no longer available) doubled to $1.00= $.99 each
Bag of rice: $.99 each, had a $.40 coupon sent by the store= $.59 each


Bananas: $.29/lb
Roast: $1.48/lb
2 Jolly time popcorns: $1.50 each, had two $.50/1 coupons doubled to $1.00 (expired)= $.50 each


Strawberries: $.99 each
Pineapple: $1.49
Oranges: $.49/lb

May 1, 2012

Menu plan

My menu plan has changed a bit now that I am staying at home! It is definitely more challenging to make a menu plan for three meals a day instead of just one since they were eating most breakfasts and lunches at the sitter's. It is also an added budget challenge to provide more meals a day, but I am determined to stay within the same budget. I have actually decreased our food budget by $10 a month so that we can up our tithe (that is ridiculously low).

Remember that this meal plan is for a two week period. It is also a little amended since Jameson has his surgery on Monday.

So here we go:

Homemade cinnamon rolls
Homemade poptarts (I actually made these today- they are alright, but considering the work that goes into them and the not-so-nutritional value they have, I probably won't make them again. But if you are a poptart addict they are definitely a better alternative!)
Flourless oatmeal raisin cookies
French toast
(I'll rotate through these as needed)

PB sandwiches x3
Snacky lunch x2
Leftover roast (sandwiches maybe???)
Leftover Haystacks
Spaghetti (we don't have this for dinner hardly ever because Shaun hates it- weird!!!)
Cheese quesadillas
Leftover enchilada casserole
Homemade mac and cheese
Leftover chicken parm casserole
Sloppy joes
Eat out x2 (one when we were grocery shopping today and I am planning for picking up food the day of Jameson's surgery)
Leftover beans and rice

Homemade pizza x2
Pasta and sauce
Breaded chicken
Hamburgers on the grill
Garlic chicken
Chicken and black bean casserole
Southwest rollups
Chicken Parmesan casserole
Breakfast for dinner
Rice and beans

Homemade granola bars
Orange cream smoothies
Homemade applesauce (from the freezer)

There will probably be some tweaking after the few week or two, especially with the lunches as I figure out what works best for us! Anyone with suggestions for easy, quick, healthy, unprocessed, and possible portable lunches- throw them out there!