Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Cupcake Holder Dilemma

So I was at Aldi recently and had a hardcore life decision to make.

Yes, it was good vs. evil.

Angel vs. devil.

One side of my brain vs. the other side.

This was calling my name:

This is a cupcake holder.

Made of plastic.

It was $4.99 on clearance.

And calling my name...

As a Mom to two young kids where cupcakes are almost a monthly requirement for some sort of school event or fundraiser, I really could use this cupcake holder.  But it was plastic...made from non-recycled plastic and sure it had a recyclable triangle on the bottom which means at the end of it's useful life it could be recycled technically, but I really had a hard time with this because I promised I would stop buying plastic.

That is much harder to do than I first thought.

So I ended up putting it back on the shelf and walking away from it.  I reminded myself that I have cupcake pans and pretty dishes and containers I can use to transport and display them.  I reminded myself that I also have muffin/cupcake tins that came with a plastic cover that I can use to transport them.  Sure they aren't as pretty but hey, you just take the cupcakes out of the oven, decorate them and put the cover on and voila, you are good to go.

So even though I thought to myself "yeah, but this means I can make even MORE cupcakes for the fundraisers", I reminded myself that sometimes less IS more.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


A recent Facebook conversation with a friend over bread machine vs. kneaded bread and which is truly "homemade" reminded me...what the heck do you do with those "bread butts"? You know, the ends of the bread that no one wants to eat and that sit in the bread bag until the rest of the loaf has been eaten and then goes stale and eventually gets thrown out.  Except in this house.  You know my philosophy on throwing things out...you may consider it even pack-rattery.  But I call it free breadcrumbs.  :)

Take the stale bread ends that no one wants to eat and keep them in a bag in the freezer.  When you have about 3/4 loaf total volume of ends and pieces of stale bread, place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and dry them a little more in a 250 degree oven for about 15 minutes.

Some of this leftover bread includes pieces that were cut up for New Year's cheese fondue as well as some slices of good wheat bread that had just gone stale from not being used up quickly enough.

Add these ingredients below.

1 tbs basil, 1 tbs garlic powder, 1 tbs parsley, 1/2 tbs onion powder, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp salt
Voila--you have your own homemade breadcrumbs!  I keep an old mason jar on hand to store the breadcrumbs in and have attached a label to it with the recipe so when it's time to make more, it's right there on the jar and I don't have to go digging around for the recipe somewhere.  So easy!

So you've recycled what WAS old, unwanted bread into something you can coat your baked chicken or fish with or use in whatever other recipes you have that call for breadcrumbs.  I do recommend keeping them in the fridge though since they are freshly homemade, they go bad quicker than the store bought breadcrumbs.  I can keep mine in the pantry for a month or so but any longer than that and I recommend the fridge.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Christmas Recycling

WAIT!  Don't put all that torn wrapping paper and old Christmas cards you got this holiday season in the trash or recycle bin!

There are a variety of things you can do with all your post Christmas "trash" like Christmas cards, ripped wrapping paper, torn gift boxes, and used ribbons.  Here are some ideas:

Make Gift Tags From Christmas Cards

I take Christmas cards I receive from people, cut out the pretty images from the front cover and hold punch it, tie an old ribbon from past gifts around it and tie it onto a gift.  Or sometimes I skip the hole punch and ribbon and just fold the cut image and tape the back of it to the gift, (esp. if I run out of used ribbon).  Here are some examples of gift tags made from Christmas cards I've received.

Make Notebooks or Scrap Paper Pads from Wrapping Paper Remnants

I took the remnants of torn wrapping paper from the post-Christmas gift opening extravaganza and cut them up into 4 inch or so squares.  Then I took some bruised up gift boxes that would never be able to close again without many feet of tape, and I cut them up into long strips that I then folded over and covered in large wrapping paper remnants with glue.  One staple at the bottom is all it took to then attach the wrapping paper scraps to the "matchbox" style cover and voila! You now have a little scrap pad to keep by the phone, in your purse, car, etc.  I will warn you, wrapping paper is a bit slippery so it's tough to write on it with pencil, but pen works just fine.

What I love about these ideas are that they are green and frugal!   Why buy gift tags or notepads, even if cheaply at the dollar store, when you can get them completely free from what you'd otherwise throw in the trash or recycle bin?  What green and frugal ideas do you have with holiday "remnants"?  I'm sure there are tons of other things out there you can do, so please share if you come across any!