My kids love pancakes for breakfast! I have to say; their syrupy sweetness also goes pretty good with my morning cup of black coffee! So, I thought I would share my super easy recipe for fluffy pancakes.
The great thing about this recipe, is that you can just put all ingredients in one bowl and stir! I use a whisk and beat it good, till it is well mixed. You can also use an electric mixer – or even a blender. But the fastest way is just to whisk it good. It is ok if there are a few lumps in the batter. When you fry the pancakes the lumps will disappear. The batter is pretty runny, so you can add less milk for a thicker batter – which will also make slightly thicker pancakes.
You can use any skillet – but for our large family, I like to use my electric skillet. I can fry 4 at a time, which really speeds things up. Sometimes I make the pancakes a bit smaller, and fry 6 at a time. My Presto® electric skillet was a wedding gift – 17 years ago!! I didn’t use it much the first 7 years, but for the past 10 years I have used it quite a lot. I can also throw an egg on there with the pancakes, or some sausages…
It is non-stick, which makes cleanup a breeze. I usually think nonstick will get scratched too easily, but this skillet has lasted a long time. The spatula pictured is steel – probably not the best choice! But I am careful, and so far it has been fine.
We like syrup on our pancakes – but honey, maple syrup, or fruit is also delicious! Right now the days are getting colder, and somehow pancakes seem like the thing to make for the kiddos! They like peanut butter on theirs – which I encourage for the protein.
Do your kids have those days where nothing is interesting, anymore? Mine too. This morning, my youngest told me mournfully: “Mom, your phone doesn’t work, the iPad doesn’t work, and the dvd player doesn’t work. There’s nothing to do!!”
Oh my goodness. Child, mama will find you something to do! 😀 So after lunch, I pulled out my stained recipe, and punched up some play dough.
Trust me, once you make this easy recipe, you won’t want to spend another dime on the boughten stuff! This makes 2+ cups (maybe 3 cups?) of dough, and it smells so good, and is so soft and fun to play with. My kids LOVE the homemade version. They love picking the scents, too!
What’s great about this recipe, is the fact that it uses only 4 simple ingredients. The only one I have to specially buy is the drink mix. But it is very inexpensive, so I buy a 10 pack and keep it around for sudden play dough urges.
You can use any type of flavored drink mix to scent it with. The recipe calls for 2 envelopes, but I have scraped by with one, if I don’t have two of the same kind. Note: if you mix 2 kinds of drink mix, your play dough may turn out brown.
The process is quite simple: First, you mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Then, you set that aside for a minute. Put the water in a large kettle, bring to a boil. Once the water boils, remove from heat and add the dry mixture. Stir well.
The dough will look terrible for a bit, but use a sturdy spoon and keep stirring!
Once it starts forming a ball, turn it out on a clean, dry counter, and start kneading. CAUTION! The dough will be very hot at this point! Be very careful or wait till it cools a bit. Don’t let it cool completely, though, or it won’t get nice and smooth.
I gingerly start kneading it with my hands (stand mixer with dough hook might work too!). After 3-5 minutes, it becomes very soft and smooth. If there is still small specks and lumps in it, you can either knead longer or just give it to the kids. Once in a while, mine doesn’t quite get smooth, but my kids still love it!
So there you go! A large ball of play dough for mere pennies. Scented, non-toxic, and child-friendly.
Here are some cookie cutters that would be fun to use with the play dough! My kids have a big basket of cutters.
We keep ours in a zip-loc bag for several days up to two weeks and it stays nice. Usually they play with it like crazy for about a week, then someone leaves it set out for a night, and it dries out! I would guess it would keep several weeks in an air-tight bag or container.
TIP: Make several batches to give as gifts. Any kid will enjoy it!
Mix flour, drink mix, and salt in a bowl. Place water in a pot, bring to a boil. When water boils, add oil and dry mix. Stir vigorously till it clumps together. Turn onto a clean, dry surface, and knead for 3-5 minutes, or until smooth and soft. Caution!! Dough will be hot!!
Store in a airtight container or ziploc bag between uses.
I have a simple way to make your home smell amazing! My husband read a Facebook post to me recently… something about orange peels and spices. I didn’t have time right then to try it, but a few weeks later I thought of it, and wanted to see if it worked. Only by then – I had forgotten the recipe! So I had to come up with my own.
It is super easy if you do any Indian cooking – you will probably already have the spices. If you don’t have the whole spices, just use the ground version, I’m sure it will work just as well. I just place all the spices and orange peel in a small kettle, and fill with water, and simmer on the stove-top. You want to keep an eye on it, though, as the water will all evaporate after several hours.
Peel of an orange
3 whole cloves
1 cardamom pod
1 cinnamon stick
3 cups of water Place in a small kettle, fill with water, and simmer.
Pizza sauce is a staple at our house. We use it for our Saturday night pizza, but also for spaghetti, tater-tot casserole, etc. I love to can my own, but I haven’t been able to save my tomato plants from the deer for years, now. So I have to buy it. But I am a very frugal grocery shopper! I dislike paying a lot of money for staples. So I came up with my own frugal alternative.
I have a Sam’s Club membership, (worth it just for staples, when you have 4 growing kids!) so I buy the large cans of tomato sauce (6 lb 10 oz) and add my own seasonings. I am notorious for just throwing stuff in, but since a friend wanted this recipe, I did measure this time, and I think it’s pretty close. But it is very adjustable. Add more or less of any spice you like – make it how you like it.
I just stir it all together and then ladle into jars (leaving a 1 inch headspace or more) and store in the freezer.
The can of sauce costs 2.77 at my store, and the spices are minimal. It makes about 4 normal size pasta jars full. I usually spread it between 5 jars, though, so the sauce has room to expand as it freezes.
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I like chickens a lot. Maybe because, when I was small, I remember walking out to my mother’s chicken house, and gathering eggs…I’m not sure why I like them so much, but every spring I look at the signs that say: “Chicks here!” and want them so badly. We recently got a Murdoch’s Farm & Ranch store in our town. I love Farm & Ranch stores, by the way. Anyways, so when they started advertising ‘Chick Days’, I stopped in a few times to let the kids look at the chicks. At least that was my excuse! It was actually a good excuse for ME to get my chick fix.
I have tried 3 times to keep chickens here, and they always get eaten – either by fox, coon, or skunk. I had told myself firmly that it was a waste of time, money and energy to try again. But on the third trip to Murdoch’s, I caved. I got 3 Red Star, 3 Buff’s, and 3 Wyandottes. I like variety. I also was trying to get cold-hardy birds, since they will be living in a drafty coop most of the year. If they survive.
I knew the set-up I had been using was not going to work, so I set out to build me a coop. Now, as you know, I am not a carpenter. I do, however, believe anyone can do anything if they want to bad enough. I think more ‘skill’, and ‘talent’ is in our hard work, than in natural ability. I think anyone can be a musician, great cook, cowboy, writer, or, yes, even a carpenter, with enough learning, perseverance, and hard work. I know certain people can naturally do certain things alot easier than others. But usually its more experience or desire than actual talent.
Case in point: My Cowboy never wanted to be a carpenter. Never enjoyed it. But he is an excellent carpenter. He can build anything, without a plan. And it lasts, believe me. Why is he so good? Because he started when young, and worked with his dad, who taught him all he needed to know, little by little, hard day of work after hard day of work.
Me? Why, I had a dad who despised carpentry, never built anything he didn’t have to, and therefore most of my family is slightly lacking in carpenter skills. (except for a few brothers who actually enjoy it, and learned later. ) So I had no examples, and certainly no help building things. But I have built my first freestanding, semi-solid, totally un-square, sorta-kinda-cute, and totally functional structure! It held my chickies for the first time last night, and despite the multitude of cracks, they (the chicks) are still all there this morning! I hope the critters don’t find a way in – cause I have certainly tried to make it critter-proof, if not weather proof. It does keep out the rain, thankfully, as it rained last night. Here is how to build a coop on the cheap frugal, with minimal zero expertise…
I dug about 24 of these 1×4’s out of the ranch dump. They are from a fallen windbreak, I think. They are 8 ft. each. I had to jerk out about 4-6 old nails out of each one.
Then I got 3 old pallets that were sturdy, and nailed the boards over the cracks. Instant studs! Yay!
I cut out a section of the one pallet for a nest-box entrance, and made a nest box out of scraps I found in the barn.
I missed taking pics of whole sections of the process, but anyways, here it is – the nest box isn’t finished yet, and it need some paint. The roof is longer in the back to help protect the nest box from rain/snow. (that sounds good, anyways…the real reason was because i didn’t want to cut metal, and this piece was basically the right size.)
The front. I did have to frame this, since I just couldn’t wrap my brain around how to cut/fasten a door in a pallet. It was pretty easy, tho. Took me two tries to get the angle right on the door cross-support.
The inside. here you can see the pallets. I used some corner braces to fasten it to the floor. I couldn’t think of any other way. Didn’t have long enough screws to screw through the oak stringers. Check out my skylight! I wasn’t sure how to build a window, so I found this piece of clear roofing, and it works great as a skylight. Some days I will have to leave them in the coop all day, and I wanted them to get light.
Frank painted it last night. Well, some of it. See the nest box out the back? It missed getting painted, but I will finish it soon. I am quite pleased with my little coop. Not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but functional, and not totally sloppy-looking. And I didn’t have any help from the master carpenter, aka: My Cowboy. The cord is for the heat lamp, in case you wondered. Its still pretty cold here at night. (30º – 40º)
I was so worried last night, I kept waking and wondering if the fox/coons had found a way in to the coop…I went out this morning and there they all were – hale and hearty. I got that Tom Hanks/Castaway moment of “I can build! I have made a chicken coop!” Ha ha!
I had several things I wanted in my coop. 1. Easy access to the nest box from the outside. Check. 2. Natural light source, so I wouldn’t have to run a light. Check. I have to have a heat lamp, but don’t want to have to run a light when they are grown. 3. Door big enough for an adult to get in, if necessary. Check. 4. Somewhat rustic/cute. Check. 5. Critter-proof. Check. I am satisfied.