Open the Door to Prosperity

At a time when our nation is feeling the burden of financial crisis, it may seem ludicrous to talk about pursuing prosperity. What’s the point when it’s a struggle just to make ends meet? But prosperity amounts to so much more than a paycheck. By definition, it is a state of flourishing. And what you might not know is that a woman’s money mindset resonates through her life in profound ways, deeply affecting her self esteem, her relationships and, ultimately, her health. That’s why it’s the perfect time, right now, to work on shifting your perspective from “poor me” to limitless possibility.

Were You Taught to Prosper?

A woman’s financial literacy (her money management know-how) is shaped by her upbringing. If her parents’ finances were handled competently and with a sense of security, then she likely has a good sense of how to manage her own money as well as an innate faith in her capability to seek out all that life offers.

But all too often, girls are brought up in households where money is a source of stress. Maybe there never seemed to be enough, or perhaps poverty was equated with piety. Today, many girls are still inundated with the archaic notion Continue reading

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Getting By When Times Are Tough

There’s no denying it, times are tough right now. Money is tight. And more and more people are realizing the need to pinch their pennies in any possible way they can. I myself have been trying to find little ways here and there to save my family as much money as possible. Fortunately, there are a lot of little things you can do to stretch your income a little further, no matter where you are in life.              

Here are some things I do to help keep us within our very tight budget. See if you can pick out one or two to begin with, and apply them to your own household.

  • Eat out rarely, and cook meals from scratch; stop buying processed foods.
  • Grind our wheat for homemade breads, tortillas, pancakes, etc.
  • Make homemade yogurt, ice cream, etc.
  • Raise a garden and can any extra produce and meat we come into.
  • Raise chickens for eggs and meat.
  • Keep goats for milk.
  • Unscrew unnecessary light bulbs throughout the house.
  • Keep the air conditioner set high, and the heat low. Use a wood stove in the winter time.
  • Unplug appliances not in use.
  • Condense trips to town to conserve gas.
  • ake homemade soap and other toiletries myself.
  • Fix broken things and mend tears instead of replacing damaged items.
  • Stay away from the mall and only shop for clothing second hand.
  • Use cloth napkins instead of paper towels.
  • Buy prepaid phone cards for cell phones.
  • Ditch the television all together.
  • Cancel any and all unnecessary bills, memberships, subscriptions, etc.
  • Let kids enjoy the outdoors and play at the park instead of paying for extra curricular activities.
  • Be low maintenance; learn to go without the salon for tanning, getting your nails done, and highlighting your hair.
  • Find free activities to enjoy as a family or date night for entertainment.
  • Wash Ziploc bags and reuse them.
  • Hang dry all clothing instead of running a clothes dryer.
  • Use newspaper for going to the bathroom. (I’m kidding! Kidding people! Just had to toss that one in there for kicks.)
  • Dilute whole milk with water, especially when cooking and in cereal.
  • Use cloth diapers and wipes instead of expensive disposables.

One thing that helps me stay focused on this goal is a saying that was very popular during The Great Depression,
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”

I love this! This idea can be applied to every aspect of our lives. Some areas of saving money may take a little more creativity than others, but I’d encourage you to try to think of ways to scrimp and save in everything you do!
Use your things sparingly. See how you can stretch them to make them last even longer.

  • Dilute shampoo and conditioner with water. It’ll still work just as well and last twice as long! (Don’t try this on the cheapest brands though, it doesn’t work well on them.)
  • Use half the recommended amount of detergent in the dishwasher and washing machine.
  • Only use a pea size amount of toothpaste instead of a whole glob!
  • Lightly dab on moisturizer instead of saturating your face with it.
  • If you use dryer sheets, tear them in half to make them last twice as long.
  • Clean countertops using plain old water most of the time instead of spraying costly cleaners.

And use it all up, completely.

For example: toothpaste is pretty expensive (in my frugal mind). So when we get low on toothpaste, and the tube has been squeezed as flat as it possibly can be squeezed, I don’t stop there. Realizing that there is probably a little more paste still inside, I cut the tube down the side and… BEHOLD! There’s always a bunch of toothpaste still sticking around. So, I just scrape some off onto the toothbrush, and put the cut tube into a Ziploc baggie to keep it fresh. It usually lasts for another week and a half!

What else can you squeeze the last drop out of?
Swish water around in containers like shampoo/conditioner, liquid laundry detergent, dish detergent and such. Shake up your empty chocolate syrup container with a little milk, to get the very last bit of chocolate out before you toss the bottle. Cut open tubes of products, and be amazed at how much more stuff is hiding inside!

Before you throw something away, see if there might be at least one more usage out of it. The savings really add up!
Make do with what you have, or learn to live without it.

Often we think we need so many things, when in fact they are nothing but fluff. If there is something that you think you just have to have, give it a week before you buy that item, and I betcha you’ll decide it wasn’t so important after all.

Speaking of  The Great Depression, here are some ways those folks pinched pennies back in the day. We could learn a lot from their frugal ways.

  • Used the backs of worn-out overall legs to make pants for little boys and overalls for babies.
  • Made diapers and underwear out of flour and sugar sacks.
  • Made smaller clothes out of bigger hand-me-downs.
  • If their shoes wore out before a year, the children went barefoot.
  • Bartering; not only goods for goods, but work for work.
  • Used patterned chicken feed sacks to make curtains, aprons, and little girl’s dresses; three sacks were enough to make a housedress.
  • They mended worn out socks with a patch from another sock.
  • They saved string that came loose from clothing and added it to a string ball for mending and sewing.
  • They used newspaper instead of toilet paper. (They really did!)
  • They saved every scrap of material for making quilts.
  • When there was nothing more to eat, they had lard sandwiches.

Pretty hard core, huh? And we think we have it bad now!

There are so many other things you can do to keep your hard earned cash in your own pockets. Get creative, waste not, and reconsider everything you think you need! Do it whether you think you need extra money right now or not. There may come a time when you are suddenly without an income, and you’ll be so thankful for anything you’ve been able to put away for a rainy day.

So what do you think? Could you try any of these ideas in your home to help ease the burden of a tight budget? How are you getting by during these tough economic times?

Garden Gluts, Rocketing Vegetables…and Pesto!

We had an unseasonably warm April this year in Ireland. With the soil warmer than usual, we seem to have stolen a march on the planting and reaping. I hazarded planting in the tomatoes before June in the polytunnel and am being rewarded with tiny green fruits before summer solstice. I ate my first courgette (zucchini) for my supper on 1st June. With the polytunnel offering protection when the winds were wild and temperatures plummeted in May, we are experiencing earlier crops.

But the wild rocket (arugula) that I used as a catch crop to cut down on weeding has, well, rocketed. To cope with the glut I rang around friends asking them to come and help themselves. But with their own lettuces and salad crops coming along, there is only so much you can eat. And unfortunately, arugula doesn’t freeze well.

I was scratching my head over creating a soup recipe, when I remembered a surefire way of dealing with some of the glut- pesto. Continue reading

Midsummer Mooching

Editor’s Note: When we see the word “mooch,” most of us think of Webster’s second definition of the word, “to beg or sponge.” However, the first definition is actually “to wander aimlessly; to amble.”

Mooching, in my opinion, is an underrated activity for both adults and children.

In July, the harvesting of the garden begins in earnest. That means plenty of activity – harvesting, making hay, freezing, canning, jam making, dehydrating.  Preserving produce becomes a priority through July and August.

But before then we have Midsummer’s Eve. These really are the salad days – and I’m not just talking about lettuce.  The first early spuds will be harvested by month’s end. But that is over a week away. The legumes need feeding and the brassicas need weeding but we are playing a little bit of a waiting game in the garden at this point. Continue reading

More Babies and Blossoms (of Summer Squash)

Anybody who has ever raised summer squash and zucchini knows that there will come a time when there will be more squash than you can use.  In fact, there will probably be more squash than you, your family and your neighbors can use.

Recipes using the blossoms and baby squash are a great way to enjoy the extra bounty. Here are a few of my favorites.

Spinach Stuffed Summer Squash
10 – 15 small to baby squash, halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup onion, diced
1 cup chicken flavored stuffing mix
1 pound fresh baby spinach, steamed and squeezed dry
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Brush cut side of squash with olive oil; sprinkle with salt, and pepper. Place squash, cut side down, on a lined baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes, or until tender. Scoop out pulp, keeping shells intact; reserve pulp. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F.

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook 5 minutes or until transparent. To the skillet, add stuffing mix, spinach, sour cream, cheddar and squash pulp. Mix together and add salt and pepper, to taste. Cook for 3 minutes. Spoon mixture evenly into squash shells. Place on baking sheet, and bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until heated through. Serve immediately. Continue reading

Rite of Summer: Cranking the Homemade Ice Cream

What sounds better on a warm summer day than homemade ice cream?  Yes, ice cream is in the daily food group and provides us with calcium, vitamin A and D, protein and 5 other vitamins and minerals that are essential to keeping our  bodies healthy.  Take a guess at how much ice cream we eat a year. Just under 14 quarts per person…and our favorite flavor?  Good ole vanilla.   

When you make ice cream at home, here are some things you need to remember for making the best product:

* If using an ice cream freezer, read and follow manufacturers’ directions with care.

*Cooked mixtures need to chill; allow several hours or overnight for best results of a creamy texture.  All recipes containing eggs should be cooked to prevent salmonella.  Make the mixture the day before and refrigerate so that it can cool completely and add volume  in the ice cream freezer.

*When whipped cream is called for, whip it only to the soft stage.  If it is too stiff, it will taste buttery.  And don’t try to fold whipped cream into a warm mixture.  Any type of cream can be used, but will change the flavor and texture.  The higher the percentage of fat in the milk or cream, the richer the ice cream and the softer the texture.  Skim milk can be used, but there will be a noticeable difference in the texture.

*Prevent coarsely textured ice cream by using pureed fruit. Continue reading

A Garlic Prelude

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One of my favorite crops in my market garden is garlic. The cloves are planted in the fall and  start putting down roots before lying dormant over the winter. In the spring, they take off growing again and are flourishing in this year’s wet weather. In June, the plants are two feet plus in height and start sending up their flower scape, often making an elegant full curl. Garlic growers remove the scape in order to send more energy to producing a larger size bulb. The scapes can add a tasty garlicky addition to cooking while we wait for the bulbs to mature. In Ohio, we will start pulling garlic bulbs for harvest in July when about half the leaves are brown.

To prepare scapes, discard the flowering end as it can be a bit stringy, and then the tender portion can be chopped and used like an onion scallion in recipes and it offers a delightful mild garlic flavor. They are excellent in soups, stir-fries, pesto and anywhere you might use onions or garlic.

Here are a few suggestions to get you started. Continue reading

Don’t Waste the Squash Blossoms!

Squash blossom

Squash blossom

Are you growing squash this year? I tried to get by without growing it, but I caved at the last minute, so now there are two yellow squash plants and a butternut squash in the front raised beds. When squash first begins to bloom, all of the blossoms are male. That means it won’t be producing squash until the female blossoms appear a week or so later, and THAT means that you can eat them without fear of reducing your harvest. My favorite is the yellow squash, although all squash blossoms can be eaten.

They make an excellent breakfast dish. Pick the fresh flowers and buds first thing in the morning, making sure there are no bees or bugs inside them. Rinse them quickly in cold water, then shake dry and fry them in butter over medium heat until wilted.

You can also stuff them. Stuffed squash blossom recipes range


Continue reading

Fudgery, not Drudgery: Easy Fixes for Fudge Day

Every day is a holiday, and today is no exception: it’s National Fudge Day. Legend has it that modern-day fudge was invented by a group of girls attending Vassar College in the late 1890s.

They came up with this divine concoction to satisfy their midnight sweet cravings, cooked it over a gas or oil flame in their dorm rooms and served it to each other on scraps of cardboard (again, this is legend, so bear with me…). However it came to be, we can all enjoy a little fudge today with these easy, quick recipes.

(These great recipes — and 1,000 more — can be found in Lehman’s 55th Anniversary Cookbook.)

Five-Minute Fudge
2/3 c. undiluted evaporated milk
1 2/3 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. diced marshmallows
1/2 c. chopped nuts
1 1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chips
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine evaporated milk with sugar in a saucepan. Heat to boiling and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add remaining ingredients. Stir until marshmallows are melted. Pour into buttered 8″ or 9″ square pan. Continue reading

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Gardening Woes

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This has been quite a year so far, hasn’t it?  I know that many across the nation have suffered with snow, cold, wet, flooding, storms and all kinds of weird weather that makes planting crops and gardens a struggle.

In our area, there are still fields that have not even been plowed for planting yet.  I think the farmers are not even going to attempt planting them at this late stage.  Most crops should have been planted by the first of May, for crying out loud!  Fortunately, even the late crops that have been planted are coming up and will hopefully catch up for a good harvest.

The gardens are in the same position.  It’s been a struggle to prepare the soil to plant.  The farm that Norm works at has a “heritage” garden that is in the basement of a house shell.  The walls of the nearly destroyed basement makes a good shelter and holds the heat in for excellent growth.  However, until just last week, it had about a foot of water so that planting was impossible early on, like desired. Continue reading