Write a Letter: Preserve Your Family History

Today I found a letter my dad wrote his grandmother (my great-grandmother) in 1971.

It might be one of the coolest things I have ever found.  The return address on the envelope included my dad’s Social Security number.  I assume they used it to identify the soldiers on post. WOW!  Things have really changed!

I imagined my dad writing the letter as he sat in his barracks at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, during basic training. He wrote about the things you would expect a young, homesick soldier to write about to his grandmother.  Then on page two, he spends half a page telling her about the terrain, soil conditions and stunted tree growth (probably caused by the infertile soil in his opinion). I laughed when I read this part.  Typical of my dad to feel the need to discuss soil conditions.  My sister and I especially enjoyed that part of the letter.

It was such a special moment.  To have a little glimpse into my dad’s life.

As I put the letter back, I was filled with sadness.  Sadness for future generations who will miss out on these special moments.

Writing letters is a lost part of our history. When was the last time you wrote a letter?  It’s so easy to send an email or text.  Somehow, I don’t think a printed copy of an email will have the same meaning to our children or nieces and nephews as a handwritten letter.

There’s something about holding a handwritten letter in your hands that is special.  Like you are holding a little piece of history.  You’re transported back to that time.  You feel a connection to your family.  To your past.

I am challenging myself to write one letter a month.  I want to preserve a little bit of history for my family.  I hope you will join me in this challenge.

When was the last time you wrote a letter?

~Laura

 

Fun and Frugal Friday: Wrapping Paper Holders

Joyastle.com has the perfect idea for organizing your wrapping paper rolls.

photo courtesy of joyastle.com

Check it out.  It’s amazingly simple and you will wonder why you didn’t think of it earlier.

And if you are a nerd like me, being organized is fun!

Have a great weekend!

~Laura

Eat Food to Stay Hydrated

We’ve all heard that we need to drink 8 cups of water a day.

And most of us fail. Every. Single. Day.

Glass of waterphoto courtesy of Bergius
 

But there is hope for those of us who have a hard time drinking enough water. There are a lot of foods you can eat to help stay hydrated. These foods are packed with water and are yummy! I like to eat most of them anyway.

fruitphoto courtesy of theseanster93

Peaches, pineapples, oranges and apricots contain more than 85% water.

Strawberries, watermelon and grapefruit contain more than 90% water. I love a cold slice of watermelon on a hot summer day!

Lettuce, zucchini and other green veggies contain more than 94% water.

Drinking a glass of water 30 minutes before a meal can help curb your appetite.

What other water packed foods do you enjoy?

~Laura

Fun and Frugal Friday: Make Your Own Nutella

Nutella.  My sister loves it.  I’ve never tried it.  Maybe I should.  I’ve heard it’s delicious, but I don’t even like peanut butter that much.

If you love Nutella as much as my sister does, you probably would like to consume it in mass quantities.  Why not make it yourself?

Do It Yourself Nutella

  • ½ cup blanched hazelnuts
  • 3 ½ oz dark chocolate (72%cacao), chopped
  • 1/3 cup &  2 Tbsp sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp hazelnut oil
  • pinch of salt
  • 3-4 Tbsp hot water

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Place the blanched hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast in oven for 5 to 7 minutes or until pale golden.

Remove the hazelnuts from the oven and allow to slightly cool (you want them warm but not hot).  Chop in a food processor until they are almost a smooth paste.

 Melt the chocolate, sweetened condensed milk and hazelnut oil in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth.  Add to the hazelnut paste in the food processor. 

Add salt and blend.

Add hot water and blend again. 

Continue blending until the mixture is a thick, spreadable consistency (like peanut butter or nutella).

Try it and let me know how it compares to the real stuff.

Should I try Nutella?

~Laura

How to Flash Freeze: Buy Groceries in Bulk and Save!

Photo courtesy of Sarah Braun

One of the ways I save on groceries is by buying items in bulk.  You can get good deals on veggies, fruit and meat that are reaching their expiration date. But, there’s no way you can eat all of it before it goes bad.  Let your freezer do the preservation work for you.

Follows these 3 easy steps to flash freeze your food bargains:

1. Dice vegetables or fruit.  I cut meat into portion sizes my family will use.  If you bought chicken strips or fish filets you can leave them whole to freeze or cut into smaller portions.

2. Place the pieces on a cookie sheet lined with wax or parchment paper.

3. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer for about 2 hours or until the food is frozen.  Transfer to freezer bags (make sure you squeeze all the air out) and return to the freezer.

Freezing using this process makes it much easier to scoop out how much you need instead of defrosting the entire bag.

Do you buy fresh herbs in bulk? Blend them in a food processor, adding water until the bits come off the sides.  Measure and spoon herbs into an ice cube tray, freeze and then dump the cubes in a freezer bag.  Take one out when a recipe calls for fresh herbs.  You can also dry your herbs and store them in bags or jars.

Freezers run more efficiently when they are full.  If you have a lot of empty room in your freezer, fill milk jugs with water to take up space.  If your electricity goes off, a full freezer will stay colder longer, which will help your food stay frozen.

Do you buy in bulk?

~Laura

Prepare for Tornado Season

Usually on Friday, I like to share a fun project you can easily do without spending a lot of money. This Friday, I want you to do something that could save your life.

I want you to prepare for the spring tornado season.

prepare for tornadophoto courtesy of Photo Junkie!

The University of Missouri Extension Service, has a great list of preparedness tips and other information you need to stay safe  during a tornado.

I highly recommend getting a NOAA weather radio.  If you are depending on your phone to alert you of a tornado, you still need a weather radio.  Phone towers can be knocked out during storms.  NOAA weather radios will work when your phone won’t.  Make sure you get one with SAME local alerts.  I’ve seen them at Walmart, Kroger and Walgreens.

Please take a few minutes to prepare.  It might save your life.

~Laura

Best Way to Store Berries

so they last longer and you save money.

One of the ways to save money on fresh produce is to check it carefully before purchasing.  Always inspect the container of berries or bags of fruit to make sure there are no moldy or soon-to-be-moldy pieces of fruit.

After you get the produce home, it is also important to take a few minutes to prepare it so that it can last as long as possible.  No one likes to throw away food that they bought a few days ago.

Cook’s Illustrated has all the info you need on the best way to wash, dry and store your fresh berries.  Rinse your berries in a vinegar and water solution to kill bacteria.  This will prevent mold growth.

Fresh, local strawberries are one of my favorite things.  I can’t wait until it’s strawberry season!

What’s your favorite fruit or veggie?

~Laura

Fun and Frugal Friday: Make Your Own Chalkboard Paint

photo courtesy marthastewart.com

Learn how to make your own chalkboard paint at MarthaStewart.com. All you need is 1 cup of flat-finish latex paint in any color and 2 Tbsp of unsanded tile grout.

If you’ve ever purchased chalboard paint, you know it’s expensive and you can only find it in black.  I love this idea because it save a lot of money and you can make it any color!

I really like the idea of painting the inside of a kichen cabinet with the chalkboard paint! (If only my pantry was as organized as the one in the picture.)

Have a great weekend!

~Laura

 

Fun and Frugal Friday: $1 Valentine Candle for Your Sweetie

Make a unique candle for your sweetheart for Valentine’s Day.

Start with a $1 candle from your local dollar store or Walmart.

Then print or stamp a design on tissue paper. Stamping is the easiest option. If you choose to print on tissue paper, it’s a little tricky. Tape all the edges of the tissue paper down on a regular piece of paper. I tried regular copy paper the first time, but it jammed in my printer. It worked great when I used card stock.

After I printed my design, I cut it out and rounded the corners. I thought it would stick better to the candle if the corners were rounded.

Position your design.

Next, place a piece of wax paper over your design.

Get out the hair dryer and hold it over the design. The hot air will cause the wax from the wax paper to melt affixing the design to the candle. You need to wear pot holders, because it will get hot! Hold the candle upright during this process. The wax in the candle will melt and you don’t want it to spill out or get on the sides of the candle holder.

Allow the candle to cool.

An easy and one-of-a-kind gift!

Total Project cost = $1

  •  Candle = $1
  • Tissue Paper and Wax Paper = Free.  Already had.

Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day?

~Laura

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How to Clean Your Microwave

Last week on Facebook, I told everyone how excited I was that Bethany from The Big Red Pot was doing her Clean Sweep series again this year.

My goal this year was to follow along each day.  Well, I finished Day One – Clean Your Microwave and promptly fell behind.  I am going to get back on track!  I will just start back up today on Day Six – Kitchen/Laundry Baseboards and the go back and get days two – five later.

Bethany’s cleaning directions worked like a charm on my microwave. I did not have a lemon to use so I used lemon juice in the water instead.

However, the lemon juice water was no match for the filters under my microwave. My microwave is above the stove so it is exposed to all kinds cooking messes. I removed the filters and dampened them.  Then I sprinkled them with baking soda and let them set.

After several minutes, I took a toothbrush and gently rubbed the baking soda and water mixture around on the filter.  I waited about another 30 minutes and then dipped the toothbrush in the lemon water and scrubbed the filter.  The gunk came off!  I rinsed the filters and let them air dry.

Now my microwave is clean inside and out and the filters look like they did when they were new!

While we’re talking about cleaning, try making your own all-purpose cleaner.  It works great and is easy to make!

Have you started your spring cleaning?

~Laura