Search This Blog

Monday, January 31, 2011

Mastering the Iced coffee at home!

I thought I'd leave a quick post while both my kids are napping :), and as I poured myself another iced coffee, I thought I should share my NEW discovery for how to make a delicious iced coffee at home!

As my toddler constantly reminds me, I run on Dunkin . That being said, with me being at home with our kids for the past 6 months, we are lucky if we can pay our bills let alone pay $2+ for a coffee everyday. But I am an iced coffee junkie. There are only so many days I can pour a hot cup of Maxwell House and pretend to like it. Especially when being home with said kids, requires me to consume a ridiculous amount of coffee daily :) 

So, I set out to make an iced coffee at home that I would actually like. So after some experimentation, here's what I found;

1. for me, and probably you too- admit it, the obsession with the iced coffee is actually the cup. So I went and spent $5 at Old Navy on a reusable iced coffee cup, because aside from the benefits to the environment... let's be honest, drinking iced coffee out of a travel mug with a plastic straw just isn't the same.

2. Since I can't afford the $7- $9 it usually costs for the bags of Dunkin Donuts ground coffee (either at retail outlets or at an actual DD location), I found the Hannaford Donut Shop Blend to be a fabulous substitute and it's only $5.49/ bag!

3. I found the Coffee Mate Cafe Latte flavor to be the best mix in, in lieu of using entirely too much cream!

4. My own preference also includes LOTS of ice and 2 Splenda , despite people's warnings that I will surely die of cancer.

I am also entirely too lazy to double brew, so I just put my coffee maker on strong when I make the coffee the night before. You could also put some of the coffee in an ice cube tray and use that for the ice so that as the ice melts, it doesn't water down your coffee!

Do you drink hot or iced coffee?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

YES, you CAN cloth diaper your baby!

With my son, I thought the same thing you're thinking right now... entirely too much hand-to-poop contact, right? Wrong. I have discovered the perfect hybrid diaper for all of you who want the environmental benefits and cost savings of the cloth diaper, but don't want to spend your entire day with your hands in a wet pail and doing laundry :)

May I introduce, the gdiaper :

The g diaper is a cloth shell, that come in a variety of adorable color choices, with a snap in plastic liner. Now, into that liner you would place an insert. You can choose from a cloth insert or a biodegradable disposable insert. As long as you do not have a septic system, and follow the specific flushing instructions , you can put the poop where it's supposed to go... in the toilet! :) Or you can add it to your compost pile.

We choose to use the disposable inserts, and purchase them buy the case from my favorite website, . Not only are they delivered to us within 2 days, but based on our order it's always FREE!

The g diaper, unlike some other cloth options, does come in sizes S, M, L. The upside is the great fit! The downside is that unlike one-size options, you have to continue to purchase different sizes. However, here are some options I have found to work GREAT for even more savings over traditional disposable diapers:

* watch your favorite retail location (I've found them available at both and Target ) for sales
* ask around! Do your friends have any they are no longer using? The shells are always good! (I got all but 2 of my 12 g diaper stash from one of my besties!)
* check sites like craigslist for people selling their cloth diapers- you ALWAYS get a deal!
* follow fellow g diaper-ers on Facebook , there is always someone looking to SWAP or sell!

Keep checking my blog for the 1st NurturingtheNaturalMama Event, which will be a cloth diaper exchange!

Here's how the cost savings breaks down, in comparison to traditional sposies:

I've looked through several websites and books, and the average seems to be that one would change a diaper about 10 times in 24 hours in the first couple of months. Let's compare cloth diapering to Luvs diapers since they are one of the least expensive. A case of size 1 Luvs diapers, which is 264 diapers, costs $38.99. This would last you a little under a month, so let's say you purchase 2 cases, so that you would get the FREE shipping from , and it would last you a whole month. So that's a total cost of $77.98 (not including wipes).  Over the course of a year, (taking into account that you use only about 6 diapers per day after 6 months), that would be a cost of approximately $690.

Your initial purchase of g diapers, should you buy them outright, would need to include shells, liners, and inserts. I recommend the g diaper baby bundle , which includes all of the above and the swish-stick for toilet flushing :) At full price, this costs $137.95 from our friends at . (right now it's on SALE for $129.99).  So this would include 128 disposable inserts (keep in mind, this would be even CHEAPER if you chose to use the g diaper cloth inserts).

To make a long story short :) End result would be as follows, after your initial g diaper purchase;

1 year of sposies                                        $ 690
1 yr of g diapers w disposable inserts         $  412
(Smalls come in packs of 40/each x 6months, and M/L come in packs of 38 x 6 months)  
1 yr of g diapers w cloth inserts                  $ 120
(2 packs of small cloth inserts, and 2 packs of M/L cloth inserts)

And, really, how ADORABLE are they??!

What cloth diaper(s) do you use??

Chicken Soup Recipe, as promised.

So while I am well aware I should leave the food blogging to my sister, Michelle Collins, I can't help but share the chicken soup "recipe" that I typically use to get the most out of my $0.99/lb whole chicken (from Hannaford).

The glory of this dish is that it lasts at least 3 more meals, and all we paid was around $3.00 for the whole chicken (which we roasted the other night and ate with the rutabaga casserole ). Additionally, you can use whatever ingredients you have in your pantry. I have made several variations of this recipe in the last few months, but here's the latest :)

take your chicken carcass and leftover meat and put in a stockpot and cover with water.
add a little olive oil and salt and pepper and bring to a boil
add any root vegetables ( I added onions and carrots this time)
boil until meat falls off the bone, usually about 20 minutes
add any other seasonings you wish. I always add Simply Organic Cumin, Paprika, Crushed Red Pepper, and Rosemary.

remove chicken carcass and debone it. I just use a fork and shred it off the bone.
add 1 and 1/2 cups brown rice and 10 ounces frozen spinach (they'll both cook in the boiling water)
add chicken back to the pot and simmer for at least 30 minutes.

then Enjoy!!

What's your favorite chicken soup recipe?

For additional budget-friendly recipes, please visit The Economical Eater

Thursday, January 27, 2011

My Inspiration

Ok, so not much of an entry, but I wanted to share with everyone the blogs/websites that have been my inspiration in wanting to become an official blogger :) 

The Economical Eater 
want great food choices on a budget? Check out my sisters incredible blog!

The Leaky B@@b
if you're a mom- you HAVE to check out this blog! Great advice, and as of late, on the news all over the world for the controversy of Facebook deleting the group page due to nursing photos.

Mama Eve
Your natural parenting resource.

And you can check out all my FAVE group pages on the all new NurturingtheNaturalMama FB page!! 

Crafty Mama II

Need some ideas for home decor?? Check these out!

Had I known I would ever be sharing this information, I would have taken a 'before' picture of these furniture pieces. But nonetheless, imagine a nightstand dug out of my parents basement, that was a nice dark wood tone, but painted over with chipped white glossy paint, and no fixture on the drawer.

Find a can of neutral paint in the attic of your new apartment, and pull a fixture off another item in your parents basement... and for $0.00 you have a brand new night table! :)

Now, if you're anything like me- your husband is a carpenter :) Using some scraps from his last job, he created this amazing toy box for our kids! I painted it using the same paint I found in our attic. So yet again, another piece of furniture for $0.00

When my family moved into our modest little apartment, we had nothing on the walls. So we created some picture collages with some more scraps that my husband picked up from work and some paint we pilfered from my parents basement. Decorations for the living room?? FREE :)

How do you recycle pieces in your home?

Crafty Mama

Christmas this year was a return to the days of hand made, love filled gifts! Where we taught our kids the true meaning of the holiday- love & family. Here are some easy things to do at home that turned out to be cool gifts!

I found some awesome iron-on decals at the local craft store and created some cool baby items. Get creative with things already around your house! All the baby items I used to apply the decals, I had received as gifts for my daughter that had never been opened. Total cost- just that of the decals $3.99.

I also found this fabulous decal (only $1.99), which I plan to use to make some pillowcases ($4.99 from Target)

We made everyone handmade ornaments for Christmas this year. I purchased 2 packages of cardstock that came with envelopes from the craft store. I used a silver Sharpie to write heartfelt messages on everyone's cards/ornaments. 2 rolls of ribbons created the loops to hook them to the tree, and I found the little snowflake fasteners also at the store for only $1.99.

We made 13 ornaments. Total cost for ALL the supplies? $11.99. Best thing? We have enough to make 6 more ornaments :)

Fill me in on some of YOUR craft ideas! 

Tonight's SAVE

I can't always buy organic. I shop at my local Hannaford whenever possible, but also spend my weekly allotment of cash at WalMart or Target. Lately, I am all about the flyers and the coupons. Hannaford's flyer last week indicated that rutabagas were $0.99/pound. So I did it... with absolutely NO idea what to do with it... I purchased a rutabaga.

Our family is committed to purchasing and consuming predominantly whole foods, which can be expensive. So in an effort to save some cash (in addition to scoping flyers and clipping coupons) we have been purchasing foods as whole items. For example, in lieu of buying prepackaged chicken breasts (typically ranges from $6 to $7), we have been buying a whole chicken (usually around $3.00). We then proceed to get several meals from said chicken, versus just the one meal with the chicken breasts.

So back to my rutabaga. I had a whole chicken I was going to put in the oven today. Googled what to do with the rutabaga, and thankfully came up with a delish side to our roasted chicken (which later tonight will turn into chicken soup- yum!)

Pics to follow, but try this :)

1 rutabaga, peeled and cubed, then boiled for about 20 min
once tender, drain and add 1- 2 tbspn of butter
mash together, slowly adding 1/2 cup milk
add 1 tbspn bread crumbs (we had Panko bread crumbs in our pantry), 1 tbspn brown sugar, and 1 egg

transfer to a casserole dish and top w shredded carrot and bread crumbs and butter
add salt and pepper to taste
bake at 350 for 30 minutes

roasted chicken with apples and onions and a side of rutabaga casserole
(given that we already had the butter and bread crumbs and other seasonings in our pantry)

This also leaves us with leftovers for tomorrow AND I will be using the remainder of the chicken (bones and all) for chicken soup later tonight, which will feed us for another 2-3 meals!

 WATCH for that recipe :) and tweak it to fit what you have in your pantry! Happy eating!

Journey to the land of GREEN

I get it. Being 'green' is trendy. Is it the recession? Is it because people truly care about the earth? Those questions I cannot answer. What I CAN tell you, is that while my family truly does care about the earth, we also find that we have times where we struggle financially, so we are constantly looking for affordable options that do not contain a bunch of additives or chemicals that could cause any potential harm to our kids, our dog, ourselves or our planet.

So how do you create a greener home? I will guide you as I continue to exchange our everyday household items for greener versions. I will be sure to provide "easy" ways, as well as a craftier version for those of us who can't always afford to click and order :)

We'll talk about household items, groceries, pet products, cloth diapers, clothing, and energy savings. I welcome you to add your comments and ideas! 

Taking the Plunge

Having been inspired by the online 'mama' community as of late, I have decided it is time for me to share my own stories for (what I hope is) your enjoyment :)

I am not a writer, or a cook, or a naturalist, or a hippie. I am just a mom who attempts to provide the best for my family by finding affordable green options, and discovering homemade options whenever possible.

I hope you will join me as I share past experiences, parenting practices, recipes, and my tips for saving some green! Enjoy!