Quick And Easy Beef Stew

I threw this together last night and it was very tasty. We all weren’t eating, so I don’t know if it would have served our whole family of seven. It possibly could have with 7 1-cup servings.

1.5 pounds of beef (for stew, or some beef cut up), browned
2 carrots
2 stalks of chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 potatoes (I used red ones), cut into bite-sized pieces
pinch of garlic (I used dehydrated)
1 small can of V-8
1 large (32oz. I believe) container of chicken stock
1.5 c. water
salt and pepper to taste
*1T. cornstarch to thicken (optional)

Place browned meat in soup pot on medium heat. Add stock, water and V-8. Stir continue to heat. In separate pan, saute onion and celery; add to soup pot. Cut carrots in bite-sized coins; add to soup pot. Add garlic, salt and pepper. I simmered this for about 1hr, loosely covered (or until vegetables are soft). Serve with a thick slice of yummy bread. *I added 1T flour to mine (preferred cornstarch but couldn’t find), to thicken it a bit.


Clotheslines Are Beautiful

I was reading The Simple Dollar, one of my fav-o blogs, and as I went through the posts (Note: readers sure are great for those of us who are skimmers.), one that particularly caught my eye was about clotheslines and his decision to choose not to install a clothesline because of the perceived “poverty” it (may) imply. I decided to come jot down my thoughts on the Simple Dollar’s post, before reading the comments that followed.

Growing up we always had a clothesline. I remember mom hanging out clothes in our small town house. I remember using the poles for a multitude of imaginary play (kissing the boyfriend-pole, as a soldier husband/boyfriend returning from war, twirling around the pole as a dance partner, etc). When we moved from small town house, there in the bigger city backyard was a clothesline. My first apartment didn’t have one, neither did my second. But I often hung clothes in the shower, or on the deck. Not a lot, but often enough. I was very pleased when our first house had a clothesline in back. It felt like home again.

One of the first signs of Spring is the ability to, hang clothes out on the line. In Winter I will sometimes hang clothes indoors, but it isn’t the same. I hang clothes out of habit. It is free, simple and brings me joy, the simplicity of it all. I was once told that each load of laundry dried in the dryer is about $1. I’ve seen it quoted as less, but in my head I stick to that dollar amount as motivation to hang it outside. As if I needed it. I love the smell of line-dried clothing. Sheets dried under the sun make slumber that much more sweet.

Sometimes when I’m hanging the clothes out to dry, the neighbor will tease, “When you’re done over there, you can come hang mine, too!!” We laugh about it. A friend of mine saw my lines and asked if I used them, “What a little homemaker you are, line-drying your clothes.” That was the first time I realized that, duh, not everyone hangs clothes out to dry.

Never did I think it might be a sign of poverty. Never did I think that someone might think it absurd or “ghetto” to dry my clothes on the line. I enjoy the sight of sprinklers and clotheslines, toys in the yard and people on porches. To me, it is neighborhood life. Personally, I don’t think I could live in a neighborhood where line-drying was unacceptable, and the pressure to not have a clothesline in my yard kept me from doing so. Although, I would simply overlook that pressure and do it anyway. That may not be the comfortable choice for Simple Dollar, though. But there is an alternative: an Indoor Clothesline!! Ooh-la-la. Make the neighbors happy, while being able to line-dry clothes. You miss the nice bennies of the sun, fresh air, etc. But for pure frugality? Can’t be beat.

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day, all you mothers.

The twins made this for me at school. Frank set them out on the counter before he left this morning for work, and I found them there when I came into the kitchen. Very sweet.


He also gave me a card, a cute one with monkeys on it.

And I picked 2 tulips from my yard, a sweet blessing for a “black thumb” plant-killer like me on Mother’s Day. We’re going out for dinner (my decision and my choice of restraunt). Not sure what I’ll be craving in a little bit, but happy with the idea of dinner out.

At church today, the sermon was about love, and mothers, and how even those who have no children are mothers, too. A person who gives of herself and cares for others, is like a mother. We can be a “mother” to our own parents, our neighbor’s, children, spouses, co-workers… the list goes on and on. So Happy Mother’s Day to all you care-taking “mothers” out there who give of a bit of yourself to someone else.


Attune Probiotic Bars

Recently I was contacted to see if I’d like to sample some probiotic bars from Attune. Since I’m somewhat familiar with probiotics, I agreed.

We’re a family who drinks Keifer (thick, sparkly, tickle-your-tongue, probiotic yogurt drink). It helps with some of the digestive issues we’ve had, and is a healthy snack alternative. I was curious about the bars that promise to deliver probiotics in a different form.

The bars arrived in this fancy silver package:

It came with a folder full of information on probiotics. Inside the shiny sliver package – a goldmine of bars: Lemon, Mango Peach, Strawberry Bliss, Blueberry Vanilla, Mint Chocolate, Wildberry and a couple Chocolate Crisp bars. The kids were ready to dig into them and try them out. We sampled a few different ones and placed the rest in the refrigerator (they arrived with a cool-pack to keep them cool and are supposed to be refrigerated).

The bars were about the size of a granola bar, maybe smaller. Chewy and relatively tasty, with a yogurt-y “frosting” on each bar. Major drawback: sickeningly sweet. If you look at the nutrition info on the website, the first few bars don’t look so terribly bad (12g carbs), but then, those are not the “granola” bars — they’re the chocolate bars. No one in the house was fond of the chocolate bars. The granola bars have nearly double that amount of sugary impact in them (22g carbs). That’s just too much for me. Keifer’s got a significant amount as well; the tendency to “sugar up” is not passed over even in the organic world.

Bottom Line: The kids liked them well enough, and it may be worth buying, especially after a child is on antibiotics, as a way to deliver the probiotics. But for me… my fiber pills have probiotics in them, and there’s no sugar involved. if I’m eating something sweet I generally go all the way and eat a real sweet, skipping the healthy part on the way.


Links: Attune Foods
Probiotics Wiki Probiotics after antibiotics (Google)


What it costs to fill up our tank.

Picture on Picasa

Are you brave enough to take a picture of the pump after you fuel up? I’d like to see it. If you do, leave your link here for me.

I know most people are sharing in the misery of paying for high-priced gasoline. The dent it makes in our budget is becoming more and more… tangible. We have a BIG van for our BIG family. Our van has a 30-gallon tank. Whenever I fill that sucker up, I feel the attendant’s eyes burning into my back, waiting for me to speed off without paying. I hear that’s been happening more and more.

Our little car has a 10-gallon tank and the price just to fill that little bugger up is nearly as much as the 30-gallon was (in what seems like) not that long ago.

So of coarse, the question is – What do YOU do to cut down on the impact of high fuel prices?

Some ideas to ease the blow?


  1. Take less trips; plan more when we do. A gallon of milk costs $7 if I have to run out late at night to get it instead of planning ahead, or doing without until I can combine a trip.
  2. Ride-sharing. Especially when it comes to the kids and practices (mainly the older ones). Think of it as “free” gas (gas you would normally be using, but found out a way not to). That helps me remember how important being creative about saving a bit on the gas bill is.
  3. Combining errands (similar to the first tip, but if I’m simply driving somewhere, school, practice, etc. Think about where am I going, what (other stores) will I be driving by and do I really need to take this trip? If I know I have to drive D out to practice (which isn’t close, mind you), there’s a grocery store on the way. If I have my act together I can shop while he’s at practice. It is like getting “free” gas.
  4. Figuring out the cost to certain destinations. Weigh the cost against the benefit of going. This helps me put it into perspective. I figured it costs me about the same amount of money to drive to work as it would to take the bus. I was contemplating taking the bus, but since there’s no real savings (on money), and there is on time, I opted for driving.
  5. Teach your older kids to to be savvy bus riders. We are fortunate enough to have very good public transportation. Our kids can use their semester bus pass to board the buses, even when they aren’t going to school. We take advantage of that when we can. The bus that goes by our house goes right by my parent’s house as well. If Beaner’s visiting gramma, she can often take the bus. Again, it’s like free gas!!