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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

5 minutes for me

As you know, I've been pretty much absent for a couple of weeks.  I've been crazy busy with cake orders, the end of baseball season and school and everything else in between.  I had a total of 11 orders between the last two weekends.  I'm so thankful!  But that also means less time to spend on my blog.  I have to say that I've been missing it and sort of feel guilty.  I have a feeling such will be the case the rest of the summer.  I'd like to get back to my Frugal Friday's at least because I know a few of you were looking forward to it.  So, this is what I've been up to....  I didn't take pics of all of the work since some was repeat of other cakes and plain cupcakes.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Time just slips away!

I've been so busy lately with my cake business that time is just slipping away.  I'm grateful for the increase, seriously grateful!  I just told my friends the other day that I used to pray for God to give me just as much business as I could handle.  Then, after listening to Joyce Meyer one day on TV, I changed the way I pray about it.  She said if you are going to pray, ask big!  Don't underestimate what God can do for you.  So, I started praying for God to just flood me with business.  No joke, I've had 11 orders between last weekend and next!  Just about every day I have inquiries about orders.  God is good!

Anyway, what's been happening besides cake and icing?  Well, Max turned 7 on the 15th.  We haven't been able to celebrate with his friends yet because of the cakes.  I made him an ice cream cake and we had his dinner of choice, chili cheese dogs and macaroni and cheese.  He got a new bigger bike this year and he was very excited.

He wants to take 2 friends to the movies to celebrate.  He also got to spend 2 nights with his aunt and went to Six Flags Hurricane Harbor.  He and Zach came home baked from the brutal sun, even though they said she put sunblock on them twice. 

My niece graduated from 8th grade today and I went and watched that ceremony.  It's amazing how quickly time slips away.  Tomorrow Zach will have his moving up ceremony.  He's going into 7th grade.  I can't say that I'm really looking forward to having Zach and Max home all summer......together.  All my 2 older boys do is argue and it's sooooooo aggravating!  We'll make it work I suppose.

So 2 more days left of school, then no alarm for me!  Yay!  I'll be back early next week...in the meantime, I'll be cakin'

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Please forgive me and hang in there!

I'm so sorry!  I've been MIA for a few days as my cake business has suddenly taken a turn for the better!  I had 6 cake orders for this weekend and I have 2 more to go.  I missed my Frugal Friday :-(.....

I'm trying to sit down tomorrow and update you on all that's happend, including Max's 7th birthday!

Bear with me, please.

Monday, June 14, 2010

SUPER MAX




This is what happens when your six year old gets hold of the camera.  It's quite comical!


SUPER EXCITED!


SUPER SCARED!


SUPER SILLY!

SUPER......GROSS?

I have no idea what he was eating but, clearly, he's not the cleanest boy alive.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Frugal Friday 6/11

This turned out to be a busy week since I got 2 large last minute cake orders.  I hope you all enjoyed my first edition of Frugal Friday last week.  Earlier in the week before my 2 orders came in, I thought to myself that I should write my post for Friday just in case and I never did.  Big mistake!  So, I'm taking a break from caking to bring you some more tips.

This week...IN THE KITCHEN!

Homemade Stock


I have to say that nothing tastes quite as good as a homemade stock when making soup.  And I know what you're thinking..".stock?  I'm NOT making my own stock.  There are so many good ones on the shelf of the grocery store!"  Not only is this a better tasting stock but you control what goes in!  And, not only are you getting a great tasting stock, you're also cutting down on household waste!

Here's what you do:

Every time you get ready to use a vegetable, wash the outside thoroughly, even onions and garlic.  Get yourself a freezer container or baggie and every time you peel a vegetable, stick the peelings and ends that get cut off into this container in the freezer.  When it's full, add it to water and boil it.  Strain and voila! stock!
You can use anything you like in it.  Carrot peelings and ends, zucchini ends, pepper tops, onion and garlic skin, green trimmings (collards, escarole, etc), celery tops and bottoms, mushrooms, broccoli and cauliflower stalks, honestly the list is endless!

No more expensive extract! (Citrus)

I'm a baker so I know how expensive flavoring extracts can be and lots of them don't even really taste good.  If you do any baking with orange or lemon extract, stop buying them!  Before you peel that orange to eat the inside, use a microplane grater and get all that flavorful zest off!  EVERY time.  Keep your zest in a small ziploc baggie in the freezer and each time you eat an orange, get that zest off.  And the same with lemons.  Zest it before you cut it open and save it in a ziploc bag.  Each time you need lemon or orange flavor for a recipe, pull out some and stick it in your recipe!

That's all I have for today.  I know it's not fabulous but I'm actually in the middle of making 2 last minute cakes.  I'm making a 20" standing Dewar's bottle and a club penguin cake, both for the same family.  They've been very time consuming and not very cooperative..sigh.  Until next week....

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Finally!

I'm finally starting to lose weight.  I decided to do South Beach for a while just to kick start the weight loss.  Exercising alone just wasn't doing it and when I don't see results week after week, I get discouraged and quit.  So now I'm feeling better and I just started week 3 and have added in a serving of fruit each day.  Still no bread, pasta, rice, sweets.  It got hard around days 9-12 but I suppose now I've trained my brain, as they say you do.  I rarely have the cravings for carbs like I did.  I can't say it's easy to get a salad when my family gets cheeseburgers and fries at fast food joints (not that we eat out so often.)  I've been trying to avoid them and when we do stop somewhere, I try to go to Wendy's where I can have chili.  And it's not easy to snack on cheese sticks and nuts when my hubby is eating chips and salsa.  It's especially hard now because my son Max is playing baseball.  Games are twice a week and at the concession stand they sell all those fattening goodies like cheese dogs, cheese fries, nachos with chili and cheese, meatball hero's, chicken nuggets, onion rings....the list goes on!  What do I get?  A cheeseburger and throw the bun away.  And I get to watch my husband eat the greasy fries that I wanted so badly.  Breakfast?  Forget about it...I'm sick of eggs, but having a piece of fruit with them now makes it much more bearable.

I am losing weight, I just can't tell you how much because my scale is wacky.  For the first time in years, someone actually said to me "WOW! you're losing weight!"  YES!  I am! 

Maybe by the end of August, I won't be so embarrassed to sit next to my size 6 sister on the beach.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Who's leaving the plastic baggies at the store?

And the winner of the PB Green Re-usable Lunch Set chosen by random.org is.....



Keira!  Congrats Keira, I'll email you shortly with contact info so you can order your new lunch set.

Thank you to PB Green for working with me on my first giveaway!

You've gotta speak up!

For quite some time now, when I receive a product that's damaged in any way or not up to standards, I contact the company.  You've gotta speak up when you spend your hard earned money on something and end up not being able to use it.

Recently, I had purchased Wilton gum paste on 3 separate occasions at Michael's and AC Moore.  When I opened them, all three of them, I found that the top portion of the gum paste was already hardened and un-usable.  Now this stuff is expensive and there's not much in the package, so when you're having to cut a portion of it off to get to the usable stuff, that's upsetting! 

I got on the phone with Wilton customer service and guess what they did?  They replaced all three bags!  Nice, right!  It came via FedEx in less than a week.  Now that's how a company should react to such problems.  Thanks Wilton!

Last Reminder!

Tonight at 9 pm EST the PB Green giveaway ends.  Don't miss your chance to win a re-usable lunch set including 2 snack bags and a sandwich wrap!  Enter here ------->PB GREEN GIVEAWAY

Friday, June 4, 2010

FRUGAL FRIDAY! 6/4


I'd like to start a weekly post to share tips on how I try to be more frugal.  I'm hoping that you will learn something new and it will help you and your family.  What better day than "Frugal Friday"!! 

And so, here's the first weekly installment of Frugal Fridays.  I'll be asking for guest bloggers from time to time to share your ideas so if you're interested, please email me at littlemissmuffins2@gmail.com!

This week I'd like to talk about your dirty laundry.  A while back I gave you the recipe and instructions, complete with pictures, on how to make your own laundry detergent.  Don't worry, it's really easy!  You don't need to be Suzy homemaker to do it, I promise. 

So how much does a bottle of Tide cost these days?  Like a hundred bucks?  No, seriously, it's really expensive and it's one of the worst ones out there as far as polluting the environment.  Check out this article from Naturalnews.com to read all about it.  

So let's say you pay $12.00 for a 64 load bottle of Tide.  The 64 load estimate is for small loads.  Do you only fill it to the bottom line?  Let's even say you do.  That's .1875 cents per load.  I'm guessing you only get more like 50 loads and therefore pay more like .24 cents per load.

The recipe I shared with you HERE, cost .71 cents for 64 loads!  That's a whopping .01 cent per load!  If you need me to post the breakdown I will but trust me, it's accurate.

So I ask you, will you please try a batch or 2 of this?  You won't be disappointed!  I do an average of 10 loads per week so it costs me .10 cents per week to wash my clothes.  If you use Tide, you're spending $2.40 per week, $124.80 per year.  Mine costs me $5.20 PER YEAR!  I know it doesn't sound like a lot, but if you add that to 5 or 6 other things you save over $100 on, you've just freed up an extra $500 or more per year!

I hope you're inspired.  It's cheap and green!

NOTE:  From reading several other reviews on homemade laundry detergent, I've decided to use Ivory soap next time as several posts have reported color fading from using the Fels Naptha.  I have not experienced this color fade as of yet.

PB Green Giveaway Ends Monday 6/7 at 9 pm EST

A reminder to all you wonderful followers, that my PB Green Giveaway will end in just 3 days.  Be sure to visit the post and enter for your chance to win a FREE set of re-usable snack bags and a sandwich wrap in a pattern of your choice!  These are wonderful high quality items that you shouldn't be without!

BUY THEM! PB Green Bags


Please stop by the post and enter!  And please visit PB Green Bags to see her beautiful items!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A whole new level of frugalness

I haven't always been frugal.  I've always worried about money because we've never really had any but we had credit cards, right?!  Isn't that what credit cards are for?  To buy things you can't afford?  Yeah, well that got us into trouble for too many years.  We have only 1 credit card left and it's in my husbands name.  I haven't personally used a credit card in a year and a half.  It's been interesting living on cash only.  Liberating and scary all rolled into one tight little ball of nerves.  So, I've come up with more and more ways to be more frugal, out of necessity.

A whole new level of frugalness needs to be achieved in the coming months.  Things are tight now and come September they're gonna get much worse.  You see, because of the foolishness of those evil demon plastic cards, we took out a home equity loan to pay off the first round of debt.  We've been paying interst on the thing for 5 years and now the draw period is coming to an end and repayment starts.  Not only that, we now have a brace payment every month.  So, I have the daunting task of cutting back at least another $250 per month.  Now, I've got some perfect ideas, but I have a husband who has some say in those decisions, unfortunately.  If I had my way, we'd switch from our $80 per month satellite tv to $35 cable.  He won't budge.  I'd also take his Jeep off the road and have 1 car.

Instead, I've got to come up with other ways to cut back.  Things I have total control over like hanging the laundry instead of using the dryer all the time and calling around to get better insurance rates, paying the bills on time so there are no nasty late fees.  I've also started making my own laundry detergent and when all of my dishwasher tablets are gone, I'm planning on making that as well.  My mission is to cut my grocery bill by a third.  I save so much money already on groceries that I'm not sure how I'll accomplish that one, but I'm certainly gonna try!  Luke is turning 2 in July and is showing an interest in the potty so another goal is to potty train him this summer so I can cut out diapers except for night-time.  I'm having the kids do more eco-friendly crafts like making magazine bowls.  I've gotten re-usable snack bags and sandwich wraps instead of using plastic baggies.  All may seem like little things, but they all add up!

So, what money saving tips do you have for me?

Wordless Wednesday!


Mama's little apprentice?  Looks like my 22 month old's gearing up to take over my cake and cookie business one day!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

PB Green re-usable snack bags and sandwich wrap giveaway reminder

Just a reminder to enter for a chance to win a re-usable snack bag and sandwich wrap set from PB Green.  Your odds are good as there are only 19 entries right now!  You get to choose which pattern you would like to have for yourself. 

Enter Here-------------------------->PB GREEN GIVEAWAY

Please do not enter any comments for contest entry below this post.  You must visit the original contest post to leave your entries.  Thanks!