Tuesday, October 29, 2013

How to Estimate Utility Bills

We are currently house hunting, and all of those uncertain expenses that come with owning a bigger home are weighing on my mind. We looked at a beautiful five bedroom home the other day, but with all that extra space would come a higher utility bill...as expected. But how much higher? How do you estimate those additional costs?

Through our local power company I found a resource for estimating your home energy cost. Your estimated cost will depend on the house details, your appliances, and your usage. If you are shopping for a new home, knowing the following about your potential house will help you accurately estimate your future energy costs:

  • Is the home weatherized?
    • By owner?
    • By Professional?
  • Wall insulation thickness
  • Ceiling insulation thickness
  • Floor insulation thickness
  • Windows (single or double pane?)
  • Type and age of heating system
  • Type, age, and location of water heater
  • Type (energy star?) and age of appliances that come with the house (stove, dishwasher, etc.)
This fun calculator will also give you tips on how you can decrease your energy costs in the future. It's a great tool that I will definitely be using when planning our budget for our future house!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

How to Read Crochet Charts

I found this pattern on Pinterest for a crochet skirt.
I especially like the trim and thought it would be fun to crochet this to a slip and wear as a skirt extender, BUT...I don't know how to read crochet charts.

I did some researching and found a couple excellent resources for crocheting using a chart. Here is a pdf from Redheart yarn on how to read the symbols in a crochet chart. This tutorial shows you how to read the actual chart once you know what the symbols mean.
Skirt extenders add a little length to skirts a little too short to be comfortable and add a touch of femeninity to an otherwise ordinary outfit. Hopefully these will come in handy when I get around to making my fabulous skirt extender!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Slacker Blogger Clean Up

Peril of a slacker blogger: Posts from nearly one year ago still waiting to be published...

I attended a wonderful class last month last year at church on cleaning your home. There were some great tips that I want to remember, but I certainly don't need another piece of paper lying around waiting to be lost. So hopefully these tips and tricks turn out to be helpful! I'll update as I try them.

Have you ever thought about putting Rain X on your outside windows that get direct rain? You get fewer water marks and don't have to clean your windows as often!

Spot X is supposed to work miracles for getting hard water spots off your faucets. For the edges around your faucet, use a ceramic razor blade or plastic putty knife.

Pumice stones help remove hard water deposits and stains in toilet bowls.

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser works in the shower. I've never used it for anything other than crayons and pen marks an the wall {and let me tell you, I LOVE Mr. Clean. He's the second best man in my house!}

I guess it's time to clean the bathroom and see if these really work!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Random Act of Kindness

Today I had a rough morning. I know as a mother I’m supposed to be the one who holds it all together when everyone else is falling apart, but I just couldn’t do it today. One kid woke up cranky and got another kid cranky, and I joined the cranky team. My great wisdom and many years of experience failed me big time.

I seriously couldn’t figure out how I was going to get in a better mood. I didn’t want to listen to music. I didn’t want to read. I didn’t want to go on a walk. I really didn’t want to do anything. Suddenly I remembered something I saw on Pinterest. One woman spent her 35th birthday doing 35 random acts of kindness with her children. I didn’t have all day to do random acts of kindness, but I did have a half hour.

I loaded up the kids and grabbed $3 in quarters. As I handed out the quarters to the kids, I explained that we were going to be Santa’s helpers.  At first the kids were super excited, but after seeing the neat things in the candy and toy machines they wanted to buy something for themselves. I reminded them that today our treat was to give to others, and they quickly got back into the spirit of things.

We had so much fun running from store to store leaving little surprises for some lucky kid to find. We went to a strip mall so they would all be close together and hit Albertsons, Ace Hardware, Dollar Tree, the laundromat, and Blockbuster. As we were running over to the bank, Camille said she felt warm inside and that she knew that was the Spirit. Tate told me he felt “very smurfy.” {Has anyone else seen The Smurf’s one too many times?} As we were looking for a candy machine, the teller at the bank asked if she could help us. Unfortunately the only candy they had was what the tellers hand out to the kids, which sparked an idea. We asked if she would give our quarter to a kid who came in to the bank and wish them a Merry Christmas from another kid helping out Santa.

It was the best medicine EVER. Seriously. If you're having a rough day you should try it. If you need ideas {or even just one!}, here is the original post.

More Healthy Alternatives

I like to eat healthy, but I sooo enjoy having some sugar. Sometimes I'm looking for a "more healthy" option rather than a healthy option :) So these tricks probably aren't for the person on a diet, but rather the person looking to cut back a little. Did you know you can substitute applesauce for vegetable oil in almost any bread type recipe? I had a friend in college who was an excellent baker and she taught me this trick. I've used it in store-bought cakes and muffin recipes.

I hate having to buy special ingredients for recipes {especially perishable ones}. It seems I only use a small amount and then the rest of the container goes bad because I don't know what to do with it. One such ingredient for me is buttermilk {which I rarely use in baking or cooking} so when a recipe calls for it I make my own from scratch. Not only do I save money and avoid waste, it also contains less fat - especially if you use skim or 1% milk. Put 1 Tbs. lemon juice in a glass measuring cup and add milk until you have one cup. Let this mixture sit for at least 5 minutes before using in a recipe. Can't tell the difference!

If these tricks sounds familiar, it might be because I posted this information in my "Mommy can I have another" best ever bran muffin recipe, but sometimes it's helpful to have the info right in front of you. Or maybe you didn't even see these substitution tricks because you tuned out when you saw the words bran muffin. It's okay. Not everyone likes muffin tops. Or bran. But now you have a couple more tricks up your sleeve.

"Mommy can I have another" Muffins

Tate told me this morning that he can eat five of these in one sitting, but I cut him off at four and handed him a yogurt. My kids absolutely LOVE these muffins. The recipe makes about three dozen, and they're usually gone within 24 hours. The nice thing, is that if your family knows how to pace themselves {unlike mine} the batter can be refrigerated for up to two weeks so you can pop them in the oven and have fresh, warm muffins anytime you like. This is especially handy on busy work or school mornings. I haven't tried freezing the batter yet, perhaps I'll give it a shot next time. Without further ado, here are the best bran muffins ever {at least, they're the only ones I've ever enjoyed}.

Bran Muffins
2 C All-Bran
1 C Bran Buds
1 C boiling water

Combine above ingredients and let sit until not hot anymore.
Then add the following ingredients:

2 beaten eggs
1/2 C vegetable oil*
1 1/2 C Sugar
2 1/2 C Flour
2 1/2 tsp. Baking soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
2 C Buttermilk**

Mix ingredients well, pour into greased muffin tins, and bake at 400 F for 18-20 minutes. Leftover batter can be stored in fridge for up to 2 weeks.

*You can substitute applesauce for vegetable oil in most bread type recipes {including store bought cake mixes}. I've don it in this recipe and can't taste the difference.
**No buttermilk? No problem! In a glass measuring bowl, put 2 Tbs. lemon juice and fill with milk until you have 2 cups. Let sit for five minutes before using it in recipe.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Old McDebbie's Farm

I just heard about this fun farm that I want to check out next year! It opens in March and there are train rides, pony rides, fishing, and animals to feed. In April they have Easter Egg Hunts. In October they have Friday night fires for marshmallow roasting and a not-so-scary Halloween trail. This place sounds like a blast! Why am I posting about this in December?  I just found the flier in "the pile" {more on that here} and want to throw away the flyer, but I don't want to forget about it! So we'll see you in 2012, Old McDebbie!