Limoncello

As you probably have figured out by now, our family is Italian. One of our favorite family dessert drinks is Limoncello.

Well with the inspiration of Mr. Maker making all the home brew and wine, I couldn’t let him be the only one making fabulous beverages.

This is what started my obsession with anything cello.  I say anything because I am working on Orangecello as we speak. Stay tuned to see how that turns out.

Limoncello is easy and basic, really being patient is the hardest part.

What you will need:

Ingredients

Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel from the lemons in long strips (reserve the lemons for another use). Using a small sharp knife, trim away the white pith from the lemon peels; discard the pith. Place the lemon peels in a 2-quart pitcher. Pour the vodka over the peels and cover with plastic wrap. Steep the lemon peels in the vodka for 14 days at room temperature.

Stir the water and sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes.  Pour the sugar syrup over the vodka mixture. Cover and let stand at room temperature anywhere from 2-4 days. Strain the limoncello through a mesh strainer. Discard the peels. Transfer the limoncello to bottles.

This is perfect as a sipper on the patio or I like to add to a little lemonade and some half and half for the perfect lemon meringue beverage.

This batch is called “Back to School Limoncello”  My babies are off to 11th grade and college this year and this mom needs some patio beverages!

I hope you enjoy.

 

Chowder

 

Print
Ham Potato Corn Chowder

The most delish, easy summer chowder that is perfect for the night before back to school. 

Servings: 6 people
Ingredients
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Gluten Free Flour
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 package Morrel Diced Ham
  • 1 bag frozen corn
  • 3 potatos
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups milk
  • salt
  • pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat, add the onions, carrots and celery and cook until tender, about 8-10 minutes.

    Mix in the garlic, thyme and flour and cook until the flour is lightly browned, about 2-3 minutes.

    Slowly stir in the broth, deglazing the pan as you go, add the milk and potatoes, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 10-12 minutes.

    Add the ham and corn, cook until heated and season with salt and pepper.

Non Paper Towels

To make one ton of paper towels 17 trees are used and 20,000 gallons of water are polluted. In the U.S. we currently use more than 13 billion pounds of paper towels each year and that number is growing steadily. This equals more than 3,000 tons of paper towel waste in the U.S. alone. Decomposing paper towels produce methane gas. Methane gas is a leading cause of global warming.

The Problem with Paper Towels

Paper towels are not recyclable. They don’t contain much fiber, so the cost of recycling them is not financially beneficial. Also, because they are often dirty and wet after use, the fibers are further degraded. Since paper towels aren’t recyclable, they’re purely a waste product.

Our house has paper towels on the Subscribe and Save list.  Last year when we moved to using only cloth napkins, Mr. Maker swore he would not get on board if I moved to eliminate paper towels. We use paper towels for everything from clean ups to drying dishes to window washing.  As long as your paper towels are unbleached and chlorine-free, they are safe to toss into your compost bin, not the trash. Since our HOA says no to compost bins, we needed to find an alternative.

To make this experiment easier I left the paper towels. I left them hanging right above where I put the basket with flour sack towels.  You can see from the picture.

The nice thing about flour sack towels is they hold up to stains, they fold nicely, they absorb spills and liquid, and they clean without leaving residue. (this was an issue with our first try of using shop cloths) They also cost about $12 for 15.

Pre flour sack days ( June 2017)  we were using about 1-2 rolls of the XL rolls of paper towels a week at $1.64 per roll.  This is 140-280 sheets.  Since offering the option of flour sack towels, we are still on our 2nd roll for two months. So this will mean about 12 rolls a year for The Maker family.

These numbers were enough to make me think twice about grabbing the next roll of unnecessarily wasteful paper towels. But understanding exactly how to lessen my personal impact made all the difference. Below is the link to a five minute TED talk where Joe Smith shows us how to use just one paper towel, no matter the type, when washing our hands. This demonstration presents a powerful lesson that even if you don’t go completely paper towel-less, you can reduce your use.

VIDEO: How to Use One Paper Towel

Now let’s talk about the cost savings.

Cloth use equals bigger savings in the long run. In ten years we plan to  rarely buy new towels of any sort so if you’re an excessive paper towel user and you switch to cloth not only will you save $1,299 in five years but you’ll save about $2,500 in ten years – the savings will continually edge up the scale with time.

Also, at the regular grocery store I often see people with 8-packs of paper towels. Not everyone buys in bulk. If you don’t buy in bulk and are an excessive user it can cost you a lot more ($2.50 per roll is a typical mid-range cost at my grocery store). That’s about $1,800 in five years.

Saving the planet and saving money, by one simple change.

This is still a work in progress for us, and when we host people at our house, we do put the basket of flour sacks away in the cabinet.

I would love to know if you have tried this or something similar in your home.

No Spend Day Fail

It’s Friday, and you know what that means….I am going to show you how to make or save money.

This month we are working on NO$SPENT days. As I previously admitted earlier this week, I had a super emotional shopping day on Monday and I want to go through that experience and show you exactly how this could have played out differently.

My first confession, Monday spilled over to Tuesday and Wednesday. I am sure Mr. Maker is shaking his head as he reads this.

This is my No Spend Fail Confession:

Monday at Lunch time, my co-worker and I went to Target so that she could get school supplies for her son.

  • My first mistake was I should have left my wallet in my desk drawer. This would have made the impulse buys that I made impossible.
  • I wanted to get a book, for all the reading I want to start doing again. Second Mistake, I am not currently reading on the regular and I didn’t even begin by looking at the library which is a block from our house.
  • I needed Quinoa pasta for the farewell dinner we were hosting for our son before his mission trip. This I bought on sale and it was really good. $1.54. I could have used veggies I already had and made spiral noodles since I am the only one who needed to eat gluten free.
  • I checked Cartwheel before I went. I wasn’t supposed to buy anything but the allure of a deal made Cartwheel essential.

I spent $55.36

I spent $55.36 on a trip that was an impulse to begin with. Let me explain what I bought.

  • Two books, the reading habit for the life I am going to begin living required not just one book but two. $12/each after the 20% discount.
  • Quinoa Pasta mentioned above $1.54
  • Two baguettes. $2.99 but I had a 50 cent coupon.
  • Pasta Sauce $3.08, because I couldn’t remember if we had and I didn’t want to text my husband to check. We did have and the unused sauce is in the pantry.
  • Tupperware $12.99 with 20% Cartwheel and $2.00 off coupon saving $4.50, I didn’t need or want Tupperware but now $8.50 made it a deal. It is still in my trunk while I debate returning it.
  • K cups $10.99 because what if my Subscribe and Save didn’t arrive on time? By the way it did and now I have way too many K cups.

This entire $55 trip was not necessary but I backed it up with another $30 trip to World Market.

I spent $30 on a trip to World Market, because I am always the hostess and I had to have fun wine for my dinner guest for our sons farewell dinner.

  • Rose’ $11.99, I don’t drink Rose’ but its fun for the summer. (My MIL had one small glass and it is now in my refrigerator going bad.)
  • Sangria $11.99 in a fun bottle. This was really delish and the bottle was cute and I can reuse for Limoncello, it wasn’t needed but it was fun.
  • Italian Olives $5.99, that’s the theme of the dinner right?
  • Salami $5.99 because it will make the  platter more appealing with a theme?
  • Italian Cheese $4.99 this finished the look.

My 6 year old nephew loved the salami so much that he filled up on that and didn’t eat his dinner. After the family added crackers to the platter, I couldn’t eat any of it because it touched Gluten.

Now the icing on the cake $77 at TJMAXX

The hottest day of the week Wednesday and my bras was really bugging me, rubbing the wrong way. The solution= Shopping. I spend $77 at TJMAXX.

  • 6 new bras on clearance $34
  • 3 tops for work $34, if you have ever seen my closet you know this was NOT anything I needed.

Total Failure= $187

Now this may seem like a lot of extra money or maybe it’s pocket change for your family, for someone who prides herself on saving money and reusing what she has, this is pitiful.

I share this with you so that we can all look inside ourselves and see where we are wasting our money and where we have room for improvement. My NO$SPENT week is obviously a work in progress. As I type this out it is more embarrassing than anything.  The best part is this weekend is tax free holiday in Ohio, so I blew it on a whole different level and emotionally I don’t feel any different because of this stuff.  As my punishment,  I’ll just be sitting over here in my new shirt, reading this book, eating olives if anyone needs me 😉

We would love to hear from you on ways you have wasted or saved money and how you keep from temptations. I think I will be leaving all my cards at home from now on.

 

HELP! My Spending Is Out Of Control

You would think a savvy budgeting guru like myself would have all of the answers, you would be wrong.

One of the reasons that inspired us to write this blog,  is so that we can relate to real people like ourselves with budgets, families, and debt.  With that in mind I should let you in on a little not so secret secret, I am an emotional shopper.

It’s only Tuesday and I don’t yet have a day where I can use my “NO $ SPENT” sticker in my planner.

Not only that, but I own a planner where I use stickers. I think this may be something from childhood, where I had a major sticker collection habit. Regardless, my planner is my guide to life and I rely on it, so I am comfortable that I made this purchase with a 40% off coupon and paid cash. The rest of my purchases of late are completely off the budget track.

I thought I would include some steps, so that if you are like me at all you can incorporate into your life and hopefully we can end this cycle of emotional spending.

The most important thing is to Understand Your Spending Triggers

In many cases, knowing how to stop spending money has to do with identifying the emotional and psychological triggers that cause us to spend. If you remove those triggers, you’ll remove the temptation and opportunity to overspend. So the next time you head out the door, keep these in mind:

Time of Day

I am a lunchtime shopper. I find that I can get away from my desk, no kids, no husband, no crowd.  I can leisurely stroll through a store and take the full hour not working.  Do you find that you have more energy during certain periods of the day? If so, shop during times when you have more energy and feel less stressed. You’ll make wiser spending choices and think more rationally when you’re relaxed and less pressured.

Environment

Are there certain environments that make you want to spend, or make you feel obligated to spend just because you’re there? Craft stores, shopping malls, home shows, and even when you’re on vacation are all prime examples of times when you’re more likely to spend impulsively. So, take away the temptation by either steering clear of such environments, or only taking a few dollars with you.

Likewise, if you have a favorite store and you find yourself wandering through the aisles looking for great deals, do all you can to limit your opportunities to go there. For me this is TJMAXX and World Market, I have an obsession with fancy wines and foods. I like hostessing and showing off my dishes and platters. If we have people coming for dinner, I have to have a cute bottle of wine or some olives for them.

Mood

Different moods and emotional states can alter our energy, making us more prone to impulse shopping. For example, if we’re upset, stressed or anxious we may seek some retail therapy to feel better. This was 100% me this afternoon.  I am not sure if the 4 bras and bottle of Rose’ worked?

Instead of hitting the mall or your favorite internet shopping site, hit the gym or the park. Going for a walk or doing some exercise will do wonders for lifting up your mood.

What’s important is that you identify the moods that affect your spending behavior, and to find ways to avoid shopping during moods that will cause you to impulse buy.

Peer Pressure

Do you tend to spend more money than you normally would when you’re hanging out with your friends? Even the most well-intention friends can be a bad influence on us, especially if they have bad spending habits themselves. If you can’t afford to eat, shop, and vacation the way your friends do, it’s okay to decline their invites. That goes for co-workers too.

 

Lifestyle

If you’re accustomed to a certain lifestyle, it could be difficult to give up when you suddenly encounter a financial hardship. But, if your lifestyle ends up becoming bigger than your budget and you don’t know how to stop overspending your budget, you could end up in worse shape.

Your upbringing also has an effect on your lifestyle choices. If you grew up in a household where money was always tight, you may feel the urge to overspend to compensate for all the things you were deprived of growing up.  Similarly, if you grew up in a household where money wasn’t an issue, you may feel compelled to spend money you don’t have in order to maintain the lifestyle you grew up with.

The easiest way to start living within your means is to create a budget, and to stick to it. You may have to sacrifice some things, but it will be worth it when you see your bank account balance coming out of the red.

I am not sure if this helps. I know I like to Pinterest when I am feeling the shopping urge. Just look at what they have or show and what I already own that could work.

Thanks for listening to my woes. I promise I will work on getting back on track tomorrow.  Let me know what your shopping triggers are, we would love to hear from you.

Oatmeal Cups

It is always a good morning when you have oatmeal.  Did you ever notice that oatmeal cups are $1.50-$2.50 per cup.  Family of 4 and you have $6-$8 just in one morning.

Courtesy of my friend, the other Kathy….DIY Oatmeal Cups.  I can’t type much more I need to enjoy my breakfast 😉

Print
Oatmeal Cups

DIY Make Ahead Oatmeal Cups 

Servings: 1
Author: Courtesy of Kathy Evans
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp chocolate chips
  • 1/2 tbsp dried cocnut
  • 3-4 pecans chopped and toasted
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 tsp flax seeds
  • 1/2 tsp chia seeds
Instructions
  1. In Mason Jar Add all Ingredients, add 1/3 to 1/2 cup of hot water or hot milk, replace lid. ready to enjoy in 2 minutes. 

Friday Money Saving

It’s Friday, which means it is time to make or save money. Today, I wanted to focus on saving money. More over I wanted to focus on saving money for gift giving.

Christmas, Birthdays, Baby Showers, Bridal Showers, or Weddings.  Most of us have so many of these each year. Not to mention Anniversaries, Mothers Day, Fathers Day. If you are like us you have step moms, in laws, step dads and so on.  It adds up to a lot of gifts.

I wanted to share something our family started doing last year, in hopes that this may work for you or may inspire a different idea to save money.

Favorite Things

Just like the song goes, this gift giving my be wrapped in brown paper and tied up with strings.

With the exception of all graduation presents which are a check written for the amount of the year $21.17 for all grads this year.

For the holidays, we made this an extended family theme. “The Year of Our Favorite Things” the theme was simple, everyone had to think through something that they discovered, made, ate, or did that became their favorite thing.  Then you buy X amount of them (all the same one for each person in the family).  This year was a challenge health wise for me and so I found the little ice bags like I had when I was a kid. Over the holidays they had multiple patterns of these available and I paid under $40 for all of my gifts for the family.  They love them and everyone uses them.  Our son, loves Cheese its, and while that is not unique to him this year, he got everyone a box of cheese its. I think his total was around $15.  The rest of the family gifts included lotto tickets, 3 pack samplers of kcups, bagel gift cards, soaps, and cookies.  The story alone makes these things worth trying because they were thoughtful.

We expanded this idea to the entire theme of gift giving. Lots of my gifts center around things I have highlighted on this blog. Soaps, Kcup recyclers, resuable bags, pickles, and the list goes on to more that I just have not shared yet.

For baby showers, and I went to quite a few this year, something that I loved or used for my own baby, with a note was perfect.

There is something to be said for a pretty brown paper package tied up in string. Adding a tag with a note about why its your favorite thing, and suddenly gift giving on a budget takes on a new meaning.

I was always one to prefer a meaningful present than something that was on sale at the nearest box store. My sisters loved when I sent them a card with Garbage Pail Kids from our childhood, or nostalgic candy.

Let me know if your family has a similar idea or way that you save money with gift giving.

Stay tuned for next week when menus and grocery budgets come out.

 

Back to School Bummer

Hi Mrs. Maker again, I wanted to share with you a weird obsession I have. I love anything in small individual packages or sample size. Ever since I was little, I am obsessed with snakc food that come in interesting packages and prefer a single serving anything over a family size. With that being said, it should come as no surprise to you that I am or was obsessed with GoGo Squeeze Applesauce and Yogurts. I also love the Shine, Chobani, and Motts versions.  If these handy squeeze pouches were a thing when my daughter was a baby, believe me that she would have had them Ella, Gerber, Happy Baby, Plum…the list goes on and on, they even make squeeze pouch dog food?

I was obsessed with this until doing research for a back-to school post when I realized that they are so wasteful and can not be recycled.

A flexible plastic juice pouch is multi-compositional in nature and not recyclable in the current waste management infrastructure. The multi-layer films from which most pouches are comprised are often made up of several different plastics, which are difficult to recycle because these components require separating. Same goes for baby food pouches, performance nutrition packaging pouches and snack bags. TerraCycle offered a program to mail in the pouches, but the complication of cleaning, having 200 participants, and shipping was too cumbersome for me to even tackle and the program is currently full.

I am heart broken….my tiny applesauce pouches, no mess no fuss. I can not use them…….EXCEPT I can.

Reusable Food Pouches, Yes please. I have included a picture so you can see the actual pouch I ordered and my applesauce recipe will be included after we go apple picking this fall. 

So easy to fill, and as long as you can blend it you can use it. Yogurt, Pudding, Applesauce, Smoothies, Pureed Veggies. The options are endless.

They zip open so top rack dishwasher safe.

My kids love them, and I absolutely love them. If you have used, or figured out a way to recycle the store bought, would love to hear about it in the comments!!

 

 

August Menu Planning and Grocery Budget

Well here we are, the final piece before August Menu Planning and Grocery Budgeting.  I want to introduce you to Walmart Grocery Pick Up.

I like to recommend Walmart Grocery Pick Up.  for a few reasons:

  • Can make your list and stick to it, no impulse buys
  • No need to spend 1-2 hours of your day walking through a grocery store.
  • Still get great savings with prices being low, and Savings Catcher.
  • Freshness guarantee. (I had raspberries that were sub par and they immediately gave me new and credited my account.)

For our menu we shop for our family of 4 for around $80/week. We buy food only and cat food monthly because Subscribe and Save does not offer our brand of cat food. ($4/month)

The nice part about Walmart Grocery Pick Up.  is I can see exactly how much my order will be, no counting while I walk through the store.  This also let’s me tweak things if I go over budget.

Example: Last week, I wanted to make spaghetti and homemade meatballs for dinner. Ground Beef was $4.89/lb, plus rice noodles $2.89, and sauce $1.50 (I had other ingredients for this on hand) the total cost of this meal was $9.28.

For an alternative, I had half a head of cabbage from the Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls, cost $0, kielbasa sausage $1.50, and shelled rice noodles, $1.50. ( already had onion and other ingredients on hand. ) Total cost for this meal was $3.00!

This freed up about $6 from the budget. This let’s me go back and separate my needs from wants. I love fruit snacks, but if we are close on budget that month I do not need fruit snacks.

Another thing is “Savings Catcher” , this is a Walmart program where you enter your receipt number, and they shop current competitors ads. If there is a store with the same product cheaper , you get the difference on a Walmart e-gift card.  You can not use on the grocery app, but you can use on Walmart.com and in store on anything.  This year I have already received $65 in Savings Catcher refunds. I used this to buy a collapsible wagon for vacation and party supplies for a graduation party.

I was a loyal Aldi shopper forever but have not noticed any money difference since moving to Walmart.

The only thing I have found that is not in line is the amount of plastic bag use. I can not use my reusable shopping bags. I do however bring the bags back to the store each week to recycle.

Next week, I will begin offering up weekly menu plans with recipes. My menus and meal prep will be based off of my families eating habits and pricing based on  Walmart Grocery Pick Up, if you use this link its $10/off your first order.

This week, I would encourage you to check out Walmart Grocery Pick Up, and use for your current budget and list. I should add that the customer service they offer through grocery pick up is fabulous.

Happy Hunting!!!

Quick DIY Weed Killer

Quick and Easy! The Hubby is mowing the grass and says “hey can you whip up some of that weed killer for the rocks around the fire pit?”

1 Cup Vingar

1 TBSP of salt

1 Squirt of Dawn dish soap!

Done and done!  It took me longer to type this post!

Now back to my beverage on the patio!