Sunday, June 28, 2009


Today is Kelly's birthday!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY KELLY!! I hope you're stuffed to the gills with Kobe hibachi food tonight. I'm looking forward to our brunch/lunch later this week!

Speaking of food, here's another "frugal" tip I learned that I tried out last night. How to stretch ground beef for only pennies (and make it healthier, too!):

2 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup dried lentils
1/2 cup bulgur wheat (found in rice aisle)

Mix all together. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer
until liquid is absorbed (about 15-20 minutes).

I added this to taco meat last night (I doubled up on the taco seasoning to account for the extra volume) and Brent couldn't even tell it wasn't all meat! The bulgur wheat almost has the consistency of ground beef once it's cooked. I've found recipes that make enchiladas out of the bulgur-wheat mixture and leave the beef out altogether. So good--and healthier, too!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Cleaner Recipes


4 bars of soap (Ivory, Fels Naptha, or your favorite)
3 cups Borax (powder, found in laundry aisle of Kroger/Dillons)
3 cups washing soda (not baking soda, also found in laundry aisle of Kroger/Dillons--I found Arm & Hammer brand)

Grate the bars of soap (you may find that freezing them first helps), then pulse into fine consistency in food processor. Mix soap with Borax and washing soda. ONE tablespoon of this mixture is all that's needed for a normal size load!

I used 1 bar Fels Naptha (found in the laundry aisle for about $1), 2 bars Ivory and 1 bar Irish Spring (the blue bar--it had the strongest "clean" scent) in my batch of soap. If using a soap that has color, I'd limit it to one of the four bars. Please note: This soap doesn't "suds" up, but don't let it fool you. It's getting your clothes clean!

Save the bottles that you use from other foaming hand soaps (Bath & Body Works, Dial, etc.), and buy a large bottle of regular hand soap (I use the Equate brand from Wal-Mart, milk & honey it!). Fill foaming bottle with 1/4 hand soap and 3/4 water, shake to mix.

Who knew it was that easy?!

Start with 1 roll Viva paper towels (select-a-size roll). Cut roll in half (with a serrated knife or saw...the end result will look like two oversized toilet paper rolls). Either fold the towels like an accordian ("fan-fold" like you're making a paper fan in grade school) if you want to fit the wipes into an existing wipes container, or leave on roll if you're using a large square plastic container. Mix together:

1 cup water
1 Tblsp. baby wash
1 Tblsp. baby oil
1 Tblsp. baby lotion

Pour water mixture over towels and let soak in. There should be little to no water left over--the towels will absorb the liquid.

If using a large plastic container, the cardboard center of the towels is easily removed once wet. Then you can pull the wipes from the center.

I love these wipes, but my only complaint is that the wipes tear apart too easily at the perforation. I find myself "chasing" the end to get the roll restarted. I'm planning to experiment with different brands of paper towels.

To your powdered dishwasher detergent, add equal parts of Borax and baking soda. Your final result should be approximately 1/2 powdered dishwasher detergent, 1/4 Borax and 1/4 baking soda. Some people have complained that this mixture leaves a residue on dishes, but I've found if you put plain white vinegar into the Jet-Dry dispenser it eliminates the residue.

We go through a lot of detangler for Sophie's hair! I've found that this works as well as any detangler I can buy, and doesn't leave her hair oily looking.

Simply mix your favorite conditioner with water in a spray bottle: 1 part conditioner to 10 parts water.

This is by far my favorite! I've used EVERY laundry stain treater created, and this mixture does the best job on stains. Simply fill a spray bottle with 1/4 Dawn dish soap (original blue formula, NOT generic) and 3/4 water. Mix gently. I keep small spray bottles of this throughout the house so I can treat the stains before sticking the item in the hamper. I've treated stains and then washed the item several days later--it still does the trick!

Friday, June 26, 2009


Here are the highlights of what's been happening with our 5 for the past few weeks:

Sophie is potty trained! I took the advice of a friend and put her straight into panties (instead of Pullups), and she got the hang of doing #1 on the potty pretty quickly. Actually...a little TOO well, because she'd have a hard time going to sleep at night because she was worried about wetting in her sleep (she wears a diaper or Pullup to bed). She's calmed down about that now. After about a week of going #2 in her Elmo panties (which devastated her--you know how much she loves Elmo!), she figured out how to do that on the potty too. AWESOME!!

During the first days of her potty training, I was sitting on the edge of the bathtub waiting for her to potty and was praying out loud (I'm not sure if my praying out loud all the time will strengthen the faith of my kids or make them think their mom is schizophrenic...but that's another post for another day). I was praying "...what a blessing it would be if I could get one of the kids out of diapers..." and Blake walked in and said "potty?" I took his diaper off, and I'll be darned if he didn't sit down and pee pee in the potty! God has a sense of humor! Blake hasn't been interested in the potty since, but I'll start working on his potty training next.

Graham had another hearing test last week, and they confirmed that he definitely has significant hearing loss. His tubes have already fallen out and his eardrums are concave, so it feels to him like he's in the mountains or on an airplane. The tubes usually last about a year, and his have only lasted 5 months. He goes back in for surgery next week, and while he's sedated the doctor will insert a different type of ear tubes that should last longer. He'll also have an extensive brain stem auditory test to determine the cause of the hearing loss. They've prepared us to expect that the hearing loss is irreversible, but I'm praying for a miracle.

Brent and I are taking a Dave Ramsey class at church, which we both love. Like I mentioned yesterday, we have a budget that's almost painfully tight but will hopefully pay off in the long run. The LONG, LONG, LONG long run. Will we ever eat out again?! We're trying to cut expenses, so I've been shopping mainly at Aldi, cooking all of our meals at home and making homemade waffles and freezing them (Brent and the kids go through SEVEN waffles each morning). This week I even made homemade laundry powder, dish soap, foaming pump hand soap, detangling spray and baby wipes. The dish soap and baby wipes aren't cutting it, but the rest are awesome. If you want the recipes, let me know! They all took less time to make than driving to the store to get them--I wish I would have heard about this years ago. Brent is changing the oil on our cars himself this weekend, which also helps a lot. I can't bring myself to wash ziploc bags yet, but know people do it. Any thoughts on how to do it without the kitchen being covered in drying baggies all the time?? If you have any "budget living" ideas, let me know!

My neighbor put heat-reflective tinting on their house windows and said it's made a tremendous difference, so yesterday we put it on a few of our windows. First of all, it's exactly like hanging wallpaper with your spouse, so prepare yourself for marriage counseling before you start! We finally got the hang of it and figured out a good system, though, and are really pleased with the results. It made an immediate difference in how hot the "sunbeams" were. Our living room and bedroom have vaulted ceilings and are usually like a furnace by the time I get home from work, and the poor air conditioner runs constantly until late evening to make up for it. I'm anxious to see how the house feels tonight. I'd love to see our electric bill go down!

Sorry for the long post!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

We're baaaaaack!!!

Hellooooooo from our house! It feels like we've been gone a while!

I have to be honest, I've been trying to decide what to do about our blog. I love blogging and love reading other people's blogs, but I struggle with finding something "fun and happy, light and bubbly" to post about every day, at least that anyone else would find worth reading. Then it hit me: I can STOP trying to make every post into a Holly Hobby snapshot of our day! Simple, isn't it?! Nothing drives me more crazy than the first five minutes of "fluff" conversation with an old friend before you get to the nitty gritty. The five minutes of "Life is great! The kids are great! Everything's great!" before the facade dissolves and you get the real story. I've let our blog become that five minutes.

So...from now on, as I continue to chronicle the day-to-day milestones of three silly toddlers, you'll also be subjected to the hodge-podge of things that make up our daily lives: trying to teach our kids about God, getting grounded in church, potty training, work stresses and cutbacks, tackling finances with Dave Ramsey, and learning to live within a very restrictive budget.

If you're in, I'm in. I'm ALL in.