My Favorite Simple Recipes for the Basics

Here are some of my favorite simple recipes for the basics, I’m talking a short list of ingredients and simple prep.  The cool thing about these recipes is that you are putting all good stuff into them so it will taste wonderful and be top-notch at a low price.

No worrys about any ingredients on packaged food that you have to Google to figure out what they are.  Also, I filed this under ‘reduce’ because you can make as much as you need and you won’t need to have bottle for this and a bottle for that.

A side note – I usually just use regular vinegar for any recipe where ‘rice vinegar’ or ‘red wine vinegar’ ect… is called out and it seems to turn out fine.  Personal (lazy) choice.  Also, I usually substitute sweeteners for what I have on-hand (honey – agave – sugar).

Easy Basic Recipes:

Salad Dressings:

Vinaigrette 1        Vinaigrette 2


Teriyaki Sauce     Enchilada Sauce

Ketchup                  BBQ Sauce  (within a recipe)

Spice Mix:                Scroll to the bottom of these links for the simplest recipes

Chili Spice Mix       Taco Spice Mix

Great From-Scratch Cooking Websites:

Also, here are a couple of my go-to sites for from-scratch and frugal cooking:

Money Saving Mom Recipes

Tammy’s Recipes


Are there any basic recipes that you routinely make?  Please share your recipes!


How Low Can I Go With My Thermostat?

It’s that time again – time to start thinking about when to turn the furnace on. We usually like to hold out until October which is… tomorrow 🙂 It’s definitely fall in New England, the trees are turning color, the pears on our pear tree are ready for picking, the air is crisp…

…and its getting pretty stinkin’ cold in our house.

We used to set the thermostat in cold weather to 68-70 deg F and that was definitely comfortable. But… sometimes we were hanging around the house in tee shirts and even the girls (when young) would sometimes be comfortable in just their diapers.

One day, it occurred to me that I should put my collection of lovely sweaters to use and see how low could we go with the thermostat.

I was also insprired by a gal that owns a shop in town that said her doctor suggested she keep the thermostat at 60 deg F all the time to prevent her family from getting colds or the flu. I don’t know if I really buy that advice…(comment if it is really a legit thing), but it was a paradigm changer for me nonetheless because that’s the point where I thought… you know, I could go cooler and just wear a sweater.

So, How Low Can You Go?

It turns out that with appropriate cold-weather indoor wear ~ socks (or slippers), long pants and a shirt with a sweater or sweatshirt we can comfortably set the thermostat at 65 deg F. Oh, and I am pretty sensitive actually if it falls below 65 – I can definitely tell when we are on our way to 64 or 63 and I don’t like it, so I think we’re as low as we can go.

What About  at Night?

At night, we let the thermostat slip to 60 deg F- I’m sure there are arguments for going cooler… we’ve thought about it but haven’t done the night-time how low can you go challenge yet.  My excuse for not doing it before was that Megan still slept in a crib without any blankets but I don’t have that excuse anymore now that she’s bigger and in a real bed.  Maybe I will try that and then write a post about it.  It occurred to me that long ago, people would wear hats to bed, I don’t know if I am that hardcore.

With our propane heat costing upwards of $3.00 per gallon, and needing 1-2 tank fills per year,  our heating bill defintiely adds up. So, looks like our how low can you go challenge and our sweaters are saving us some money in the long term.

What do you keep your thermostat at during the day? What do you keep it at during nighttime? Would you be willing to try the how low can you go challenge?

Top 5 Reasons Why I Dig My Reuseable Shopping Bags

I’ve been using my reuseable shopping bags for about 7 years now and I really dig them.  I started out by buying five or so and got some free and sort of accidently stole a few from my mom.  Yeah, I’m pretty sure everytime the girls spend the night at my mom’s house their stuff comes back in a Trader Joe’s bag.

(I’ll give them back mom…)

Without further ado – here are the Top 5 Reasons Why I Dig My Reuseable Shopping Bags

1.  They Hold A-LOT of Stuff

This was actually the main reason why I took the plunge into buying myself my first 5 reuseable bags.  I remember walking in from my house carrying 3-4 plastic bags in each hand, noting that each bag only had a few items in it.  I wanted something beefier, that could hold some more items.  I wanted to carry… one grocery bag per hand.

2.  They Stack-Up Real Nice

I like the satisfying way they line right up next to eachother solidly in my car.  They behave themselves and sit nice and upright on my counter too (on my floor actually but the counter was cleaner so it won the photo op).

3.  I Use Them For Everything

Well, not eeeeverything but I use them as beach bags, overnight at grandma bags, pick-up toys around the house and transport them to the playroom bags.  I also use them as “uh oh, houseguest in 20 minutes, need to stash all the junk on the coffee table in the closet” bags.

4. Reuseable Bags Are Good to Mother Earth

Newsflash!  Just kidding, I know you know this is the most obvious one.  Plastic bags mainly end up taking up space in landfills and are easily airborn so they end up as litter and harm wildlife.  Plastic bags don’t biodegrade, they just break down into smaller and smaller bits of plastic polluting water and land.

Seriously, they even wrote a song about it:

5.  This Bag

Seriously… is This the Cutest Grocery Bag You’ve Ever Seen?

Instead of Hannaford it should say ‘Kate Spade’ or something.  I want to buy a whole set of these in all of the patterns and colors but… alas I already have as many as I need (except for maybe when I give my mom hers back…)

That bag is actually made in New England too which is a bonus.  I think it is made in nearby Lowell too which wins double bonus points in my book.

How To’s of Reuseable Shopping Bags

So, using these bags for 7 years has taught me some good tips for using the reuseable shopping bags:

  • Use one bag to hold all of your other bags neatly.
  • Keep them in a handy place where you can just grab them and go.  I keep mine handy under the kitchen sink.
  • Don’t Worry if you forget your bags, just remember next time.  I forgot to bring mine the first few times and eventually I did remember.  Now it is just a habit and I instinctively go for the bags before I leave the house.
  • It’s OK if you don’t have enough bags for your entire cart worth of stuff.  I just have the ‘overflow’ go to plastic or paper bags.
  • You might feel a little insecure the first few times you use the bags, but eventually it starts to feel natural.  Also, it made me feel more at ease that the baggers are used to packing the reuseable bags and don’t seem to pause one bit when they are handed a bunch of them.

Please share your thoughts with me on reuseable grocery bags.  Are you using them now?  Do you think  you might want to try them?  How do you remind yourself to bring them to the grocery store?  Do you use your reuseable bags for anything else?