Wednesday, February 6

10 Ways to use Rolled Oats

My family of five has pretty hearty appetites. It use to only take a few days before most of the food in our cabinets started dwindling. 
To counter this, we've started buying quite a bit of our staples in bulk. We have tall metal shelving in our basement that houses large sacks of grains and flour, bags of dried fruit, jars of sauces, jams and preserves. It's a nice feeling, needing something and being able to just walk downstairs and grab it.
It's also an easy way to loose money on food - if you don't make an effort to use it all up before it goes bad. I haven't really ran into that problem yet, but I am diligent on keeping an ongoing inventory to avoid it.
I thought it might be fun to do a series on all the different ways to use up what you've got stored.
First up - Rolled Oats
** Recipes are linked to each use **
I was able to buy a 10 pound bag of oats for $6.80
10 pounds is a lot of oats, let me tell you! I have had this bag for a few months now, and still have more than five pounds left. Thankfully, dried grains have a long shelf life.
10 Ways to Use Rolled Oats
1). Fruit Crisps - you can use just about any fruit - I always grab whatever is close to going bad - before it actually does of course.
2). Granola - this is so versatile and so much better for you than store bought cereal. We make and use half a gallon of granola a week. You can find our favorite recipe here.
3). Breakfast Cookies - my kids love these! I'm sure half the reason is in thinking they get to have a "real" cookie for breakfast. I love them because they're quick, easy and freeze well.
4). Oatmeal Cookies - our whole family's favorite cookie! Try the recipe with tart cherries and chunks of dark chocolate instead of raisins - yumm!
5). Oatmeal - okay, okay, kind of obvious, but it really does make a great warm hearty breakfast for hungry kids. You can make a big batch and then add each person's favorite ingredients to their bowl. It keeps everyone happy.
6). Oat Bread - Oats add depth and chewiness to bread. If you've never had oat bread, make some, you may never eat normal bread again!
7). Fish or Chicken Breading - use rolled oats instead of bread crumbs.
8). Meatloaf extender - Instead of using 2 lbs of ground beef in meatloaf, use 1 lb and then add 1 cup of oats to the mixture.
9). Oatmeal Pancakes - Super easy and has more fiber than traditional pancakes.
10). Apple Oat Muffins - Make for an easy and quick breakfast on the go.
How do you use your oats?

Monday, February 4

DIY Sewing Cards for Kids

My little girl has taken an interest in sewing lately.
She's come up with all sorts of fun projects she wants to complete - sewn crowns, doll clothing, princess dresses and matching pajamas for her and her sister - just to name a few.
I want to encourage her to pursue this, but something about a four year old and needles just doesn't sit well with me. Part of the problem is that she wants to do most of it herself - which is great and nerve wrecking at the same time.
 It took a while, but I was able to convince her that if she practiced enough on her new sewing cards, I would let her start using the real thing. I haven't decided just how much "practice" she will need, maybe a year or two?
We made our own sewing cards, and it was really easy to do.
What you need:
Scrap book paper (optional - you could also use computer paper and decorate it or leave it plain)
3 or 5 mil laminating sheets (I use 5 mil)
Hole puncher
1). Using your paper, cut out desired shapes.

2). Place shapes in laminator sheets and then laminate them.

3). Trim around each shape, making sure that all the edges are smooth and rounded well. Take your hole puncher and punch holes along the edge.

4). Cut a long piece of yarn and then wrap tape around each end to stop frays and allow for easy threading.


That's it! Super easy, and for us it was free because we had all of the supplies already.
Happy Monday Everyone!
- Lisa :)
** featured on**

Friday, February 1

Spending Fast Recap - January 2013

One month down, eleven more to go!
At this point, that sounds kind of depressing. The first two weeks were easy. I was running on a motivational high and just KNEW I could do this, without a problem.
 But then week three showed up, and at that point I had already had one of my favorite (but unfortunately not necessary) kitchen tools bite the dust, I ran out of lotion, facial toner and toothpaste, and I really wanted a glass of wine. Combine that with all the amazing books being released right now and my love affair with all things crafty - well, it kinda stinks.
I have the means to make my own lotion, toner and toothpaste, so those were not classified as needs just yet. Thankfully I have a husband that's willing to brush his teeth with clay for me - if that doesn't say "love", I don't know what does.
And while staring at a large crock pot full of potato soup needing to be blended, I initially thought a new immersion blender was a need, but I waited. I'm glad I did, because really, for the few times a month I actually use the immersion blender, I could easily use either my regular standing blender or hand mixer depending on what needed to be done. So, for now, an immersion blender is not really a need for me. Before this, I would have just gone out and bought the blender without a second thought.
This was a turning point for me, I must admit. I really didn't think we spent all that much on unnecessary purchases, but we do. A few extra minutes and a little thinking outside the box can take you pretty far and save a lot of money.
At it's very least, this year will be a paradigm shift for me, and at it's best, my student loans will be paid off.
On that note, I'm extremely happy to report that even though this month was not perfect, I still came up with A LOT more money than I had anticipated.
I slipped up a smidgen, I did buy some wine and I splurged a bit on my spices so I could make our own Chai - more on that later...
Honestly, I had a target number that I wanted to throw towards my student loans, which at the beginning of the month I thought was a bit optimistic.
Well, I surpassed that.
That surprise, that feeling of accomplishment, that outweighs any purchase any day.