Archive for the ‘ Bits of our Lives ’ Category

5 Minute Homemade Ice Cream-in-a-Bag (frugal family fun)

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

We’re like any other family and love to have fun together but we don’t love spending lots of money to accomplish that!  And so recently when I came across this recipe for Homemade Ice Cream in a Bag and knew that we had to try it.  We all love ice cream and I was pretty sure that we’d have fun watching the milk turn into ice cream almost right before our eyes.  And I was right- in fact, it kind of felt like we were performing magic or something!

Want to try it yourself?  Here’s how:

Combine 2 Tbsp. sugar, 1/2 tsp. vanilla and 1 cup milk or half and half in a small quart sized Ziploc bag and seal tightly.

Then place 1/2 c. salt and enough ice cubes to fill a half gallon sized Ziploc bag half full.  Place the smaller bag inside the larger bag and seal the large bag tightly.

Shake the bag.  (The gloves help keep your hands from freezing!)

And shake it some more.

And some more—hold on to it, it likes to try to slip out of your hands!

And yet some more until you’ve shaken it for 5 minutes and it gets ice cream consistency.

(If your child gets tired of shaking it, you might have to help them out like my husband did here.)

And then you can open it up and see your ice cream!

Eat it in the bag or do like we did and dump it out into a bowl.

Ours was a little soupy still but we got tired of shaking it.  I’m pretty sure it would have gotten a little bit firmer had we just kept at it.  But we were impatient and it was good anyway.

This little guy loved it.

Can’t you tell by that grin?

Okay, so here’s the recipe and instructions in an easier to read format.

 5 Minute Homemade Ice Cream in a Bag

2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup half and half or milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup salt (The bigger the granules, the better. Kosher or rock salt works best, but table salt is fine.)
Ice cubes (enough to fill each gallon-size bag about half full)
1 pint-size ziplock bag
1 gallon-size ziplock bag

Combine the sugar, half and half, and vanilla extract in the pint-size bag and seal it tightly.  Place the salt and ice in the gallon-size bag, then place the sealed smaller bag inside as well. Seal the larger bag. Now shake the bags until the mixture hardens (about 5 minutes). Feel the small bag to determine when it’s done.  Take the smaller bag out of the larger one, add mix-ins, and eat the ice cream right out of the bag. Serves 1.

Recipe via Family Fun

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Welcome to “The Thrifty, Frugal Mom”

Friday, January 6th, 2012

My family and me

Hi, I’m Lydia Beiler and I’m excited that you stopped by!  Some of you have been faithful readers of my blog before it moved here to the site and so you already know quite a bit about me.  But for those of you that are new, let me introduce you to my family and tell you a bit about myself.

My husband Vince and I just celebrated our 5th anniversary in November and hope to enjoy at least another 45 years together.  I know that many ladies say they have a wonderful husband and it can sound rather trite after a bit, but really, my husband truly is wonderful and I often find myself wondering how I got so blessed!

We are the parents of a very energetic, social 3 1/2 yr. old son Logan who makes sure we never have a dull moment.  And just 3 weeks ago we were thrilled to experience the joy of new life again with the birth of our daughter Sophia Delight.  In 2010 we had the difficult experience of losing our daughter Eleni only 2 hours after her birth, so having a healthy baby girl feels like an incredible gift and we are enjoying every moment of this newborn stage.  (Well, maybe not the lack of sleep!)  I love being a wife and a mom and one of my favorite challenges is learning how to be as efficient as possible while managing our household.

So what inspired me to start blogging about saving money?  Well, we weren’t married long before I realized that just the basic grocery and household items quickly added up to figures that were way higher than what I really wanted to spend! And that was even with shopping at Aldi, a discount grocery store, using the occasional coupon and doing without some things that many people consider staples.  I wasn’t sure what more to do, so I just tried to watch sales and spend as carefully as I could.  Yet I felt like I was fighting a losing battle

Then around 4 years ago I stumbled across a money saving blog and was rather astounded.  I didn’t know that coupons could actually get you items for FREE!  Or that there were actual websites that did the work for you by matching coupons and sales.  A whole new world was opened for me and I loved it!  My “money loving” side was in its element and I soon was a faithful coupon and rebate user.  I loved when our mailbox started filling up with free samples, high dollar coupons, free magazines and the occasional coupon for a completely FREE item.  Before long I started to see a huge drop in our grocery/household expenses.  (Last year I saved around $5,000 by shopping sales and using coupons and rebates.)

This developed in me a huge passion for learning more ways to save, whether it was in the area of groceries, clothing, or utilities.  Once our son was born, I quit my job as a certified pharmacy technician and became a stay at home mom. It was then that I got inspired to start my own blog where I posted links to printable coupons, great online and store deals, cost effective recipes, lots of money saving tips and more. I have loved this way of helping others learn to not only save their money but to be good stewards and have fun doing so in the process.

I want to be a good steward of the things that God has entrusted to us.  I want to be able to give generously.  And I want to be able to help others learn to live within their means.  That is what this blog is all about.  I hope that I can inspire you to save and teach you some of the things I’ve learned and am learning along the way.  I also look forward to learning things from you too!

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Tags: | Categories: Bits of our Lives, Must Read

She’s Here!!

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

We’re so thankful for the precious new gift of life that God blessed us with on Wednesday! Sophia Delight joined us weighing 8lb. 4oz. and is beautiful and healthy. This verse has been on my mind and heart and pretty much sums up our feelings: “The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad.” (Psalm 126:3)

You likely noticed that I have been posting a bit less frequently. That will likely continue for the next week or so as I continue to recuperate, take care of my children and enjoy having family around for Christmas. I’m just not sure how things will be around here! But hopefully with the new year I’ll be back to posting more normally.

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Tags: | Categories: Bits of our Lives

Frugal Family Outdoor Fun

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

When have you last taken a break from the mundane daily grind and gone outside to play with your family? Clorox2 has declared Sept. 24 to be Worldwide Day of Play and is challenging people to take their Play 2Day Pledge,, and it got me thinking about some of the things we’ve done with Logan this summer.

We don’t spend lots of money on recreational things as a family. Fun can be free too you know! And so in the spirit of being thrifty, I thought I’d share some of the simple things we’ve done outside as a family this summer.

Every Tuesday evening is family night here and often that finds us taking a walk downtown. Sometimes just for the sake of taking a walk and sometimes to get ice cream at our delicious local creamery. But every time it involves Logan riding the trike he got for his birthday- legs frantically pumping as he flies along. I often wish that I could freeze those moments. Him intently riding his trike, hunched forward, focused. Us walking behind, enjoying his boyishness. It’s such a simple thing really, but it brings all of us such joy.

There have also been evenings where we’ve walked to the park 1 1/2 blocks away. Sometimes we take Logan’s ball along and play ball tag and sometimes we just sit, relax and read while he amuses himself kicking his ball, throwing sticks and just running off that endless energy of his. Again, a very simple thing to do but one that provides lots of fun.

And then there are the times we just stay put here at home but end up going outside to play. Usually the favorite thing to do is play ball. I think Logan could spend hours doing that! Our yard is small but we can still find room to set up a mini baseball field. Honestly, I’m always amazed at the delight little people can get from simply spending time together playing like that. And there’s something about being outside that seems to bring out extra spunk!

One more thing that we did this summer that wasn’t totally free was to go mini-golfing. That is actually one of our favorite memories of the summer! Our local mini golf place has little child sized clubs and so we all three could play. Well, the youngest one of us didn’t really play but he sure did have fun being like mama and daddy! And we were continually laughing and being amazed at how his wild swings could get him such good shots so often! Maybe we need to loosen up a bit and we’d get a hole in one a little more often too? At any rate, the $15 spent that evening was worth every penny of outdoor family fun.

The thing that really stands out to me as I think back to outdoor things that we did this summer is that all of them were easy to do and most of them didn’t cost us a penny. It just goes to prove that having fun really can be free!

What have you done fun outside this summer with your family? Do you have creative, cheap ways of having fun outdoors?

“I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Clorox2® blogging program, for a gift card worth $40. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”

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Tags: | Categories: Bits of our Lives

My Latest Fun with Coupons

Friday, September 16th, 2011

The Food Bank- when I was there though, the shelves were MUCH emptier!

I am so excited about my latest new experience with couponing! This past Tues. I went to the local moms group that I attend. It was the first meeting of the season so we just had a welcome brunch and then had time to just connect with each other again. For about 15 minutes though, one of the ladies from the Conestoga Valley Food Bank shared with us what they do, their needs and their vision. I was really impressed.

Not only do they help quite a lot of local families get through hard financial times by giving them needed food and grocery items, they also have a real heart for caring for these people. Instead of having the people line up to get their food and household items, they set up appointments for each individual/family and then a volunteer meets with them, helping them get the items they need and also giving them a chance to talk if they wish. Lots of times they are able to care for these people by listening to them and praying with them. I was so blessed by the ministry that the Conestoga Valley Food Bank is doing!

But my ears really perked up when Beth mentioned that they can always use volunteers to do different things, one of which was shopping for the items they give away. I’ve been wishing I could volunteer somewhere but with a 3 yr. old it’s pretty hard to be able to do that very easily. (I have family that would babysit but they live about 30 min. away.)

To make a long story short, I am now going to do shopping for the food bank, watching for low prices on the foods and household items that they need and using my coupons to get them ultra cheap. The great thing is that I can do this on my own time and really, it won’t even take up much of my time because I’ll simply do this while I’m already doing my regular couponing/shopping! And obviously, they’ll reimburse me for my purchases too. It just feels like the perfect fit.

So why am I sharing this with you? For two reasons. For one, if you live locally and have items that you get for free (or very inexpensively) and would like to give them to the food bank, I’ll gladly work with you to make that happen. Also, I’m guessing that other food banks would love to have someone do this same type of thing for them and I thought it might be something that some of you all would enjoy doing.

For you locals that would be interested in donating items to the food bank, they will take pretty much anything. Items like cereal, canned fruit and veggies, pasta, Hamburger Helper, toothpaste, shampoo and soap are things that they give out to each person. However, if someone donates other items they happily pass those along too!

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Tags: | Categories: Bits of our Lives