Sunday, May 22, 2011

French Toast - the lazy way

Time for another recipe! On Friday, I purchased some day old French bread in order to make open faced toasted roast beef sandwiches. I only used half of the loaf, so last night, I sliced the other half of the loaf and made French Toast for this morning, the lazy way!

8-10 slices of day old bread, about 1 inch thick. (may be fewer slices if larger loaf)
1 1/4 cups milk
5 eggs (beaten)
1/4 cup sugar (have used equivalent amount of sugar substitute)
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
cinnamon (optional)

Place sliced bread in a 9 x 13 baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray. Mix together milk, eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla. Pour over bread in the baking dish. Sprinkle with cinnamon if desired. Cover and place in refrigerator overnight.
The next morning, pull it out of the fridge and preheat the oven to 400. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

I then top it with whatever. My favorites are either butter with some powdered sugar, or sweetened strawberries. Of course, butter and syrup are always ok! If there are any leftovers, they warm up nicely in the toaster.

I know, I should have taken photos... but I didn't.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Deal of the Day

I do like a little splurge now and then, and when I can get a good deal on one - it's even more fun! A while ago we were given a Keurig single cup coffee maker. The cups can be a bit pricey for it - but with some watching you can find some good deals. At some online locations, I can usually find them for less than $. 50/each shipped. (when ordered in larger quantities) But, my better deals so far have been buying locally using store coupons. Bed, Bath and Beyond has a great selection of the cups, and sends coupons out in the mail regularly for either $5 off a purchase, or 20% off. This gets the cost per cup down to about $ .40 if you purchase one box with the coupon.

Last week, I got a $10 Kohl's cash card in the mail. I hardly ever shop there, but it could be used on anything over $10 including sale or clearance merchandise. I went online this morning to check out what Kcups they carried - and found out they were on sale this week! While their sale price of $11.99/18 is still over my $.50/cup mental limit - combined with the cash card, I paid $1.99/18. $.11/cup is within my budget!

So, the moral of the story? Watch your "junk mail" for good coupon deals for department stores. As I went through the store I saw some other options for clearance or sale merchandise that would have been a great deal with the card.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Making it at home - Egg Drop Soup

The whole family likes to eat Asian food. Stir fry can be pretty economical, healthy, and easy to make. But I was missing the "extras". With a little searching, some trial and error and tweaking, I think I have come up with an egg drop soup recipe that rivals take out.

Egg Drop Soup
4 cups chicken stock/broth
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
3/4 cup frozen corn
2 eggs, well beaten

Heat stock to boiling over medium heat. Combine cornstarch and water, stirring until cornstarch is completely dissolved. Gradually stir into stock. Boil for 2 minutes. Add corn and bring back to simmer/light boil. Slowly add beaten eggs while stirring soup. Season with black pepper to taste.

You could easily add chicken or tofu to make it more of a "main dish" soup, leftover veggies, etc. Give it a try if you have cut takeout from the budget, want more control over what is in your soup, don't have a good place to get it nearby, or just want to give it a try.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Following up

I wanted to follow- up on a couple of recent posts...

The Ants
It has been 3 days since I have seen a live ant - and the only dead ant I have seen is the one that got stuck in the honey. I'm calling the recipes I used here a success. Since then I have also been using the Borax for cleaning.

The World Record
It was fun to be a
part of The Great Diaper Change - although according to the Chewy Kid - it was not as exc
iting as he thought it would be. I think he was a little surprised at how much preparation and verification went into the event. Our s
ite was very organized and it was fun to chat with friends, acquaintances, and other parents. I was really surprised at how calm it was considering the number of babies and toddlers in one room! Here in Des Moines we had 41 participants, and below are the totals that have been reported so far.

203 hosts reporting 6277 participants so far!Australia – 3
Brazil – 40
Dominican Republic – 5
Germany – 26
Malaysia – 39
Spain – 17
Switzerland – 13
Canada – 891
United Kingdom – 25
United States – 5218

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sloppy Joe Casserole

Here is an easy casserole to throw together. I sat on the original recipe for this after finding it online for awhile because it just seemed like it would be a little odd. I finally made it one night (ok, well at least a couple of the ingredients were the same as in the original recipe!) when I gave the Chewy Kid the chance to choose between two new recipe ideas - and he picked this one.

1 lb. ground beef or turkey, crumbled, browned and drained
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
2 cloves garlic chopped (or 1 teaspoon prepared garlic)
3 cups cooked rice (I use brown)
1 can sloppy joe sauce
2 - 3 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
1 cup shredded co-jack or cheddar cheese

mix everything but the cheese together and put in a 2 - 3 quart casserole. (I definitely recommend giving the dish a spray of non-stick spray!) Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes. Sprinkle the cheese on top and bake an additional 5-10 minutes.

When I made it this week, I sprinkled some french fried onion rings on top along with the cheese. They were a hit!

Of course you can substitute, especially for the veggies - use what you have on hand, frozen, canned, mixed, whatever your family will eat!

When we were eating this earlier in the week, we all commented how it is a strange combination of stuff, but it comes together into one of our favorite meals. Unfortunately, I missed getting a photo!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Ants are Marching...

and they are marching right into the Chewy Tot's Room. It appears they are cruising in through the window area somewhere. I do love nature - and even the smallest critters out there, but not in my house, thank you.

So, it was time to Google "child friendly ant deterrents" which let me to a variety of homemade ant killers. The best collection I found was at It also had some basic information about ants and why some baits work one time, but not another. I was looking to try something with Borax since I was going to be picking up some for other uses anyway. After looking at some of the "recipes" I went into the kitchen and went to work - just like when baking, I only used the recipe for inspiration!

I decided to make two different baits:

Bait #1 - equal parts borax and peanut butter
Bait #2 - equal parts borax and honey

After mixing (and labeling the containers as ant bait and NOT-FOOD!) I put about 1/8 of a teaspoon of bait on a small square of paper. I did two of each bait and set them on the windowsill in the Tot's room. A few minutes later, there were already ants munching. An hour later, the ants were "shoulder to shoulder" crowded around the bait loading up. The visible population of ants in the room had exploded. Not a surprise with the honey and peanut butter available to all.

Now the question is - what happens when they take it back to the nest? Well, my understanding is that it should "take care of the problem". Obviously, it will take a few days to see if that is the case or not - or if I have just opened up a soup kitchen for wayward ants.

Does anybody else have any experience getting rid of ants or other crawlies? I am open to any tips or tricks -- especially any "chewy" solutions that are child safe and frugal!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cinnamon Biscuits

The past few days, I've been thinking of Hardee's, back when there were Hardee's everywhere, and I even worked drive-through at one for a summer during college. Then I started thinking about the cinnamon biscuits, and I decided they shouldn't be too difficult to make. I've embraced the biscuit over the past year, and have found them a fast, easy, and frugal way to add hot, fresh bread to dinner. So now, it's time to branch out to breakfast.

Cinnamon Biscuits

2 1/4 cups of biscuit mix plus a little more for kneading (I make my own and keep on hand - recipe here)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
2/3 cup of milk

Mix the mix, sugar and cinnamon together. Add milk and stir to combine. Put dough out on surface dusted with biscuit mix and knead 8-10 times. Pat down to about 1/3 inch thickness and use a biscuit cutter (or knife) to cut into biscuits. Gently reknead scraps and repeat until you are left with one mini drop biscuit left. Bake at 450 for 9-11 minutes until golden brown and delicious.

While baking mix together a simple powder sugar glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 T. Milk
1/2 t. vanilla or cinnamon (optional)

When you pull them out of the oven, allow to cool for a minute or two, then drizzle with the glaze.

Here is the result:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Go to Camp!! an essay by the Chewy Kid

The Chewy Kid wrote this essay. We told him he needed to write a persuasive essay - and he totally ran with the topic and main points. He did have some minor editing help. I hope you enjoy it as much as we have. We are also excited about the message he is sharing - Going to summer camp is a great rite of summer for kids - and many never get the chance to go. If you are looking for a camp for your child this summer - be sure to check out for more information on finding the right camp for your child.

Go to Camp!!

by Joe Cackler - 9 year old experienced day and overnight camper

Have your kids ever wanted to go to camp? This is your lucky day! This essay will tell you the answer. Read on to find out why!

Sometimes, all the time if the staff are good staff, your kids will have fun. When I go to camp, one way I have fun is horseback riding. If your kids have fun, they are happy. You all like your kids to be happy right? Well, I hope so! You may be thinking, “What does my child get besides happiness?” Skills! Read on to find out more.

If you go to the right camp, your kids will learn new skills. One I learn is acting. Your kids may also learn horseback riding, knots or archery. You may be thinking “what do I get?” a break! Read on.

Ever think “I need a break!?” If you are a stay-home parent, sending your kid to camp will give you a break. (This is for parents that are home in the summer too!) The aftermath: “aaah! I can relax today! aaah!” Still need a break? You can sign your kids up for multiple days and overnight for even more relaxing!

Parents: “You can go to camp this summer.”
Kids: “Yeah!!!!”
Well, I hope you now know why you should send your kids to camp: They have fun, learn new skills and you get a break! That wraps things up, so please send your kids to camp.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Back to our regularly scheduled programming...

Yes, it's been a long time since I've posted. Life has been busy between illness, work, family events and such. I've been working on posts - and will be posting more this week. If there is anything "chewy" that you are interested in seeing more of (reviews, recipes, family activities, etc.) please let me know!

The Great Diaper Change!

This Saturday, we'll be taking part in "The Great Diaper Change", a worldwide event to set the record for the most cloth diapers changed simultaneously.

We'll be attending the event in West Des Moines, at the Val Air Ballroom at 11:00 a.m. If you are not from the Des Moines area, you can find a location closer to you here. The Ballroom makes a great location for this event, since it opened in 1939 -- back when cloth diapers were just called "diapers". In recent years, the Val Air has been updated and had a rebirth to fit the needs of the community -- sounds like a perfect match!

Ok, it may sound a little odd - but I am really excited about this - for a few reasons:

  • What a great opportunity to raise awareness of how far cloth diapering has come in the past 10 years. Press coverage, and a chance for people to see cloth that is not the cloth diaper that they are imagining in the press.
  • A chance to see the scope of the cloth diapering community here in Des Moines and meet other parents. (And see a lot of cute babies and diapers!)
  • The Chewy Kid is obsessed with Guiness World Records (aren't most 9 year old boys?) and I must also confess to reading several World Record books cover to cover when I was his age. We've been looking at the rules, and he's excited to go be an observer. He is also learning about the technicalities that go into a World Record.
  • I hear there are going to be goody bags and/or door prizes!
Even if you only cloth diaper part-time, or are just considering - please consider joining us. If you are in need of a diaper - I'd be happy to lend you one for the event, and even take it back home and wash. If you are interested in attending, please RSVP on the FaceBook event posting here.

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

What is buying local?

I've been thinking a lot about buying local lately. I do enjoy patronizing local small businesses. There is something about going into a small shop and visiting with the owners/workers, and hearing their passion for the products that makes shopping more fun.
It is easy to think of the small simple storefront as buying local -- I of course like Little Padded Seats, Mr. Chewy seems to be fond of Quill and Nib.

Then I start thinking about "area" owned businesses. For example, I do the vast majority of our grocery shopping at Fareway. Although it is a chain, it is an Iowa company, and they do carry a lot of Iowa products. I think, at least in my mind - this is a more "local" choice that going to the "Super Center" to get my groceries. But what about franchises with local owners? What is "local" business anymore?

I enjoy shopping locally and visiting smaller shops whenever possible. This is also very true in dining out - nothing like that local gem - (Flarah's is nice and close to the office!) and Nan's Nummies beats the super center bakery any day!

What is shopping local to you? What are some of your favorite "local" businesses?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What was for dinner last night?

I knew dinner last night was going to be a challenge -- I was going to be out for the afternoon, and it was the Chewy Kid's 4th grade fine arts night at school, so the boys would need to eat early, but Mr. Chewy and I wouldn't eat until we got home afterwards. Sounds like a job for the crock pot! For some reason, I decided to google "Crock Pot Fried Rice" It sounded good - and a good use for the various things sitting in my fridge and freezer. I should have known that Stephanie over at would have tried fried rice in her slow cooker at some point. So I glanced at her recipe here: ... and then went into the kitchen.

I didn't have any "leftover" rice, so started some brown rice in the steamer. Meanwhile, I rescued a sad onion and some very sad looking carrots, cleaned and chopped them. After cooking and cooling the rice I put the following in the crock pot (sprayed w/non-stick spray)

about 1 1/2 cups cooked chicken
2 1/2 cups veggies (I had carrots, onion and garlic - could use whatever fresh or frozen you have)
3 cups cooked, cold rice
about 3 Tablespoons soy sauce
a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce
black pepper
I mixed all this together then added 2 well beaten eggs and mixed again.

Cooked for 4 hours on low - and had fried rice! It was just about right 4 hours later.

Fast forward 2 more hours - and the grown-ups ate - It was still ok -- and I would have thought it was more that fine - but the consistency was better two hours earlier. At this point - we added a sprinkling of dry roasted peanuts on top of ours -- and Mr. Chewy added a little hot sauce.

Overall - it's another keeper of a recipe. The Chewy Kid and the Chewy Tot both had seconds. Easy, inexpensive, tasty, and a great way to use leftovers!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Re-using and Remembering

Mr. Chewy loves notebooks and pens -- it doesn't matter what size - he likes to always have something handy to jot down a quick note, or a nice journal to encourage writing. He has always liked "build your own" systems, custom creating systems to fit his needs. He recently bought a Levinger punch to create his own custom notebooks. He also began cleaning house and decluttering. We save WAY too much stuff - especially from vacations. Using some of our "Key to the World" cards, he created these mini-notebooks perfect for jotting little reminders, lists, and such. Our vacation memories will literally be in our hands every day. Pretty cool.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

So last year, I made my "New Year's Resolution" on my birthday - and it was to read my Bible every day in the next year. Well, today is a new year, and time for a new goal. Now that reading my Bible daily is habit - it is time to hone another discipline. This year I want to focus on prayer.

I am committing to spending time each day in prayer, and setting aside a SCHEDULED time for prayer each week with Mr. Chewy. I'm sure there will be days that it is easy, and days where I really don't want to. I know that for both Mr. Chewy and I, keeping a streak is a great motivation, or at least enough motivation to help keep us in the habit.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Winter Weather

As we are settling in for the incoming storm - I've been wondering if any of you have "Winter Storm Traditions" What do you do to feel warm, pass the time, and make it "fun"?

I usually do some baking, and as long as there is power we might have to have some wii challenges if there is no school. (Mario Kart anyone?) Of course, board games are always an option too!

What are your plans?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thrifty Thursday - cleaning shower curtains

I have been surprised how many people are unaware that you can easily clean dirty and/or moldy shower curtains. All you need to do is take them off of the rings, and wash them in your washing machine on hot, and hang them back on the shower rod to dry. I only buy new liners when I get a tear - otherwise, we just wash the crud off easily - and without using bleach or other harsh chemicals.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

ish Mash Monday - Play to win.

We like to play a lot of board games at the Chewy house - and one thing that has come up before is "Do you ever let the kiddo win?" We don't, and have tackled how we play games very similarly to this post titled Who wins? Playing games with kids. Check out the article for some great ideas and games.

I think the points are pretty valid - and go right along with the article. I don't think I have ever let a kid win. We all play to win.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Mish Mash Monday

It's been a busy couple of weeks at the Chewy House - so I need to catch up a bit.

Mr. Chewy has been busy roasting his own coffee in the garage. As an official taste tester - I can say it's pretty good! If you want to know how he did it you can read about it at his blog "Stuff I Like". He's got a pretty good photo log of the process. By roasting it himself, some really nice beans are suddenly in our price range, and it's fresher. Sounds like a win/win to me!

I've been back on the "diet" for a week now - and it's going well - Well, at least the holiday weight is gone, now we've got to tackle the vacation weight, and the baby weight. I'm keeping track of my food and progress on again. It's been updated again since I reviewed it last summer here, and is even easier to use. If you are looking for a free tracker that helps you not just track calories, but fat, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and more it's a great place to start.

The Chewy Kid loves to read - and is supposed to track reading minutes for school. For YEARS we have struggled with this and keeping track. While sometimes maybe he "stretched" the amount of time he read, for the most part I think it was grossly underestimated. Thanks to my friend Amy, I became aware of the Mark-My-Time Digital Bookmark. It has both stopwatch and timer features, and can pause as well. I think using the bookmark has allowed us to take the focus off of watching the clock, and back onto the book.

Looking for a fun Saturday afternoon date idea? Mr. Chewy and I are planning to hit Farms Uncorked at Living History Farms on January 22nd. A couple of years ago we went to Beer and Bread with some friends and had a great time. (Even though I was pregnant at the time and all of my beer was of the "sasparilla" variety.) I great, casual event and a chance to try some great local food and wine! If you want to wait for Beer and Bread, it's the first Saturday in March, and you can find more info at the Living History Farms website.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Simple Saturday - roasted carrots

I haven't posted a simple recipe for awhile. This one is healthy, inexpensive and easy in addition to being tasty.

Roasted Carrots

1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into sticks.
italian seasoning
non-stick spray

Heat oven to 400. Arrange peeled and cut carrots on a baking sheet. Spray with the non-stick spray. Sprinkle with seasonings and toss to coat. Bake for 30 minutes.

Of course you could easily change up the seasoning. I'm thinking dill might be good. They had a lot of flavor, and since I was heating up the oven to bake our entree for 30 minutes, didn't take much extra time. Everyone seemed to like them too!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Free For all Friday - Garbage Limits

This community in Canada is limiting the amount of garbage you can dispose of without paying an extra fee. Right now, I think our family would be ok and this wouldn't affect us at all. There is an exception if you have more than one child in disposable diapers, however, should there be? It is a choice. Cloth diapers are certainly a viable option - and why they wouldn't be forcing people to use cloth, they would pay the extra fee for the garbage as opposed to those of us who are using less landfill space.

Find the article here:

What do you think?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Thrifty Thursday -- making the gifts last

I'm not sure if this is more a thrifty thing or a sanity thing! The chewy tot received several new toys for Christmas. I can't blame people - it's fun to buy toys for little ones! We had decided ahead of time that we would open one or two toys at each stop and put the rest up - and then, every couple of weeks we'd bring out a new toy. We did this last year and it worked splendidly! We even saved some that we knew he would be able to play with after his surgery until then.
I'm also planning on storing the toys once "released" in tubs in the "toy cubby" and get out one at a time to build in some more variety as well. Of course a few favorites will stay out more!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from the Chewy Family.

I'm pretty sure this was the first time in awhile I've been awake to welcome in the new year. Mr. Chewy and The Chewy Kid had started Star Wars (Episode 4: A New Hope) at the right moment for the Death Star to Blow up right at Midnight. I think I've seen this movie exactly once before in it's entirety. The Chewy Kid did make it to midnight though!

Last year - I made my resolution on my birthday, instead of on New Years Day. It seemed to work better, so I think I'll stick with that again this year - so I guess you'll have to wait another month to find out what that is!

Wishing you blessings throughout the coming year.