Dollar Dinners – Pumpkin Pancakes

It’s Thursday evening and just before payday. My cupboards are bare except for the absolute essentials – flour, sugar, salt, spices and oil….and a couple cans of pumpkin and canned fruit.

I have 1 dollar in my pocketbook….what could I possibly purchase for 1 dollar, so I can make dinner?

Pumpkin Pancakes…yes, my mind was turning out homemade recipes while I briefly walked the aisles of Aldi’s food store this evening. Eggs, only 95 cents and they come from a regional egg farm too. Perfect flavor for a cool evening in the Midwest.

Nothing in my Betty Crocker cookbook told me how to make pumpkin pancakes, but I figured it would be the same as “1/4 cup of fresh or frozen berries.” I used real canned pumpkin not the pumpkin pie filling and added my own pumpkin spice mix to a traditional pancake recipe. I had to add extra flour to make up for the moisture of the pumpkin (I also omitted the oil).

If you ever have had sweet potatoe pancakes….mmmmm…., you know that these orange colored pancakes were oh sooo delicious too! Not such a strong flavor as pumpkin pie or even pumpkin bread, but just as light as regular pancakes.

I’d have a picture, if my kid didn’t eat the last of the stack!

Stock Up on Hardy Winter Squash and Pumpkins for the Best Recipes

It’s nearly the end of the Fall Harvest, and as farmer’s markets and produce stands are winding down along the East Coast and Midwest, it’s time to stock up for the winter.

Buy Hardy Winter Squash Varieties that Will Last Throughout Winter

Squash – there are still several varieties of squashes available. Look for the mature varieties of

  • Acorn
  • Butternut
  • Buttercup
  • Delicata
  • Hubbard
  • Pumpkins (sugar or pie)
  • Turban
  • Spaghetti
Types of Winter Squash

Pumpkins and winter squash (over 40 varieties are available) are stocked full of vitamins and provide a healthy dose of  beta carotene antioxidants to fight off winter flu bugs. Squash and pumpkins also contain Vitamin C, Iron and riboflavin along with the benefits of being low in calories, but high in fiber. Weight conscious people will also appreciate that these orange veggies are cholestrol and fat-free.

Unlike yellow squash, zucchini and other types of summer squash, the hardier winter squash can be kept for 2 to 4 months if stored correctly, and if bought directly from the field.

Start stocking up and saving for the winter months ahead with these delicious recipes, you will enjoy the hearty flavors of pumpkin and squash soup that these recipes provide.

How to Cook Winter Squash

Butternut Squash and Pumpkin Soup

Delicata Squash Stuffed with Wild Mushrooms and Herbs

The Facts about Household Water Usage

Average household water usage statistics.

A few years ago my son came home from school to a note on our door that read something like “Had to turn water off due to pipe leak. Will get water back on soon.” – That’s it. My son called me at work about the note and said there wasn’t any water coming from the sinks. I told him to not flush the toilet until I got home.

Once I arrived home I read the note myself and tried all the faucets. No water.

We hoped the water would be turned back on at least in a couple days, but that didn’t happen. In fact it was more like 7 weeks without running water! That meant no showers, no flushing toilets, no washing dishes, no washing hands or any other kind of washing including clothes.

We didn’t have any other place to stay or to go for that matter. So, I gathered up every bucket and container that I could possibly fill and asked my other neighbor if I could fill up using their outdoor hose. That got us through 1 day. The next day a friend gave us a 5 gallon container, which we filled up and used for washing hands, dishes and cooking along with the other buckets.  Then I bought a five gallon container, so we could fill up about 12-14 gallons of water every day.

This is what I learned about our daily consumption of water…

  • Each toilet consumed about 3 – 5 gallons of water for every flush. That’s a lot of water! Our house had 2 bathrooms, but we only flushed one toilet once a day as needed.
  • I could wash a sink full of dishes including pots and pans using only 1 gallon of water. It’s not about how much water you use, it’s about how well you scrub.
  • Baby wipes and hand sanitizer work just as well as soap and water. This is how our troops keep clean too.
  • I could take a bath using only 3 gallons of water – heated first on the stove of course.

I don’t know how much water my stackable washer used, but I’m sure it was way too much. I had to do laundry at the laundromat or at a friend’s house, which was both inconvenient and sometimes expensive.

After several weeks of divvying up water for various needs, we were finally blessed to have the well replaced, new lines put in and increased water pressure restored. Although I still kept one of the 5 gallon containers on hand just in case.

There’s a new meter on the market which measures your water consumption and let’s you know when you’ve used too much. The Koolhaus faucet let’s you know not only how much water you have consumed from the faucet, but also from the entire bathroom. I’m afraid of what it will say about my son who takes 2 mini showers a day to my 1 every other day.

How much water does your family use at home on a daily basis? Take this quiz to find out from the USGS site. I was shocked to find that our 2 person family consumes much more than I thought! Yikes!

Alternative Choices for Halloween Treats

Offer alternatives to Halloween candy this year with these healthy treats.

If you’re tempted to promote your healthy conscience this Halloween, choosing a junk-food free roundup of treats and toys for your trick-or-treaters may be returned with scowls and disappointment, but your efforts could be well worth it! Classic Halloween candy is filled with excess sugar, calories and fat that can easily lead to overeating–for both kids, and adults. If you want to promote a safer and healthier Halloween this year, it may be helpful to stock up on some healthier alternatives.

Here are some ways to cut  costs and ‘indulge’ in some healthier treats over Halloween:

Peanuts. You can buy snack-sized bags of peanuts, or make up your own in miniature Halloween-themed bags tied with green or black ribbon. Peanuts in their shells are a healthy snack for all ages, and those with peanut allergies will easily be able to discard their treat if needed.

Homemade candy apples. You can buy miniature apples for these and cover them in low-sugar caramel and a handful of nuts. Wrap them up in Halloween themed saran warp or bags and hand them out as a tasty–and attractive–alternative to traditional candy.

Cheese and cracker snacks. These are already available in convenient snack packs, and can be added to any trick-or-treater’s goodie bag for a healthier choice than all that sugar. They’re also much cheaper to purchase in bulk, so stock up as needed!

Applesauce cups. These individually wrapped cups are a simple treat that will satisfy that sweet tooth without the extra sugar and calories. Pack these up with some animal crackers for a fun miniature Halloween snack pack.

Halloween party favors. Everything from spooky rings to skeleton key chains can be purchased in bulk at the party store, or even online. Putting together miniature goodie bags is another fun idea for parties and Halloween get-togethers. Choose a variety of favors for different age groups.

Sugar free gum. A much healthier alternative to sugar-laden treats and snacks, and easily purchased in convenient snack sizes. Take your pick of some of today’s leading, low-calorie brands for a simple low-cost alternative.

Find more choices for Halloween instead of candy at AssociatedContent.com. Original article by Sabah Karim

Greener Living Tips: Eco Friendly Living Rooms

Green and Eco-friendly Living Room Tips

Going green is a great idea for a variety of different reasons. The top two reasons to go green include helping the environment and saving money. What many people don’t realize is that you can start going green right in the center of your own home, ie: your living room. The living room is often the center of relaxing, entertainment, family bonding, and more. So why not make your living room more eco-friendly with these easy tips!

Check Your Thermostat
Since the thermostat for your house is often located in your living room, it’s a great place to start. Make your wallet and the environment happy by simply turning down your thermostat in the winter and turning it up in the summer. Of course, you don’t have to freeze or melt either. By changing your thermostat just a few degrees, you’ll be making a huge difference. You’ll also see your energy bill go down a bit too, especially if you’re keeping you’re thermostat at more eco-friendly temperatures throughout the year. And make sure you don’t have anything warm (like electronics that create a heat byproduct) near your thermostat otherwise it can alter the AC or heat.

Buy Secondhand and Vintage
It’s official. Vintage is in the season once again and is continuing to make a great comeback when it comes to furniture and décor. So instead of purchasing a brand new sofa, paintings, vases, and more, try checking out local antique stores, Goodwill, Salvation Army, freecycle.com, and craigslist. These locations and websites have a ton of different options for vintage and secondhand items for your living room. Plus you might just score a $200 item for about $20 bucks!

Invest in Drapes and Curtains
Drapes or curtains are great things to have. They can keep sun out during the harsh summer months and help lock in heat during bitter cold seasons. Needless to say they are a relatively inexpensive way to help regulate temperature within your living room. And don’t just limit it to your living room either, follow this simple tip for the rest of your house as well, including your bedroom.

Eco-Appliances
A great way to go green is with your appliances. Make sure your TV meets energy standards and is one of the most eco-friendly on the market today. Don’t be afraid to shop around either. Also, invest in other green electronics as well, including stereo systems and gaming systems. Another great tip is to make sure your electronic devices are unplugged when not in use. You may think that just because they’re off it means they’re not using energy, but it’s not true. Unplug and save money!

Keep Your Fireplace Clean
Many of us have fireplaces in our homes. These are great for a variety of different reasons, including keeping warm during the winter. Not only that, but they create a cozy atmosphere. However, go green with your fireplace by keeping it clean. Hire a chimney sweep often to reduce ash buildup and more. Make sure you burn clean burning logs too.

Original article by Rachel Krech, AssociatedContent.com

Recycled Shipping Containers Saves Money & Space

The Ultimate in Constructing Eco-Friendly Living Space

All across the globe, we use shipping containers to move large quantities of goods from one country to the next. Now, what happens to these containers once they have served their purpose? Do they get tossed to the bottom of the ocean? Are the bits and pieces shot into outer space? Actually, they’re being converted into luxury homes, beach homes, camping cottages and more. That’s right, today, designers and architects everywhere are making good use of these shipping behemoths. Have you ever heard of a shipping container home? If you haven’t, you will – these babies are on the rise when it comes to eco-friendly living.

In European countries, the use of the shipping container home has been around for a few decades. They’ve certainly increased and ‘container cities’ have been popping up all across the continent. They’re even used as dorm rooms for universities – saving the students, and the schools, some nice pocket change.

Read the rest of this article about shipping containers here.

DIY Eco Friendly Cleaners – Dishwashing Soap

Thinking of homemade laundry detergent, reminds me of creating my own dishwashing soap and general purpose household cleaner. I found a great recipe that’s also easy and inexpensive. Now I have a better use for those plastic dish soap and laundry detergent bottles!

Try this recipe from NaturalHomeMagazine.com (one of my most favorite magazines for finding DIY ideas and greening my daily routine).

This eco-friendly dishwashing soap can be used for dishes, handwashing, floors, stoves, refrigerators, and sinks. The eucalyptus and mint provide a disinfecting quality as well as a fresh scent.

5 cups grated castile soap
1/2 cup baking soda
1 teaspoon borax
6 cups hot peppermint tea
1 teaspoon eucalyptus essential oil

Put grated soap into a three-quart stainless-steel saucepan and add hot mint tea. Simmer for 15 minutes on low heat. Add baking soda, borax, and eucalyptus oil and remove from heat. Allow to cool, then store in a labeled plastic jug or squirt bottle. Shake before using.