July 31, 2011


Posted by Ethne~

You all have used aloe gel when you’ve gotten sunburns, yeah?  Trust me, this pale-a$$ skin of mine has been lobstery numerous times.  PAIN!

Well, how many of you have real aloe plants?  Naturally I didn’t till Thrifty Nana (my mom) got one and shared it with me.  It’s a succulent, and doesn’t grow outdoors in MN through all the seasons, but is a great house plant.  Hers grows well all year; she recently gave me a start of my own and it’s growing in my house that gets virtually no plant-friendly light whatsoever.

But the real key is its usefulness.

If you get a burn, cut or scratch, cut a piece off, open the ‘leaf’ in half, and spread it on your wound.  Easy peasy.

Thankfully, it was on hand recently when I was over at TN’s and her cat (Stuart) got into a tiff with her dog (Bella) – they haven’t quite gotten used to each other yet, though I’m pretty sure that Stuart will be the alpha animal.

Baby Stewie was not about to pose for a picture.

The tiff involved me – right in the middle!  I was holding Stuart (or Baby Stewie as I call him) and Bella got really jealous and started jumping at my leg.  No cat reacts well to a dog barking and jumping at it.  I got a healthy scratch on my arm in the scuffle.


Since the scratch was from either a cat or dog claw, I cleaned it with alcohol first.  No infections for this chica.

Next, TN cut a piece of the aloe plant and rubbed it on my scratch.  It’s a natural gel that provides a cooling feel, as well as has healing properties.  My scratch felt better instantly and has healed remarkably well.

TN's gentle application
Look closely and you can see the aloe gel
coming out of the green slice
All doctored up by my mom;
you're never too old to let your mom take
care of you!
Check your local plant store, or check online for a start of the plant.  If you’re a WOM, you’ll love having it on hand.  And think, how THRIFTY to have a healing plant that regenerates itself with no effort on your part!  That’s FREE and FABULOUS, Friends!


Posted by Lori~

My brother’s girlfriend Dena makes an AWESOME fruit pizza.  Check it out!  BEAUTIFUL!
This pizza was served at the lake!  IT'S TRULY ART!
Fruit pizza sheet-cake style!  AWESOME!
But recently, while at the lake…Dena had leftover cookie dough (she actually uses the Pillsbury sugar cookie dough you buy in a tube).  She used this dough to make cookies and the kids made their OWN mini fruit pizzas.  What a fun project, fun KID'S cooking idea, and the best is that it involves fruit (HEALTHY).  i am sure Ethne’s girls will be doing this WOM-PROJECT VERY SOON!

Cousins A and A making their pizzas!  They look so HAPPY!

Thanks friend and WOM-MOM FOLLOWER Dena for this tip!  IT’S TRULY WOM-WORTHY!

July 29, 2011


Posted by Ethne~

Hey Friends!  Today Lori and I are on our way to DL, MN (not to be confused with DL, ND where Lori and fam vacationed last week)!!  We are so excited we might pee our pants.

Sadly, I don’t have any time off from work to arrive on Thursday like TC, Special Guest Steph and CH did.  It worked last year but not this year.  I’m certain they won’t do anything that we’ll miss out on.

Wouldn't want to miss out on learning
how to "trill" wine like last year

What’s in store?  Well, a few things are secret, but some things we do can be shared!!

We are going to make a theme meal, and since the cabin we’re renting has a grill (and A/C, we double-checked this week), our theme this year is grilling!  Not just cooking chicken, but we want to be creative.  We’ll see!  We might try our hand at making ice cream and I am bringing the best chocolate cake in the whole wide world.


We usually have a house cocktail, which may or may not contain spirits, to imbibe upon at a whim.

We usually bring each other little presents.  That’s always a fun surprise!

There will definitely be some sun-bathing and relaxing.  I feel rather gross in a bathing suit, but I am POSITIVE that the fake tan I will be applying just before we leave for DL will ensure that my legs will not be Purple People Eater white.  Plus, I got a new bathing suit which is as flattering as can be.

Not flattering

There will most assuredly be a trip for pizza and people-watching at the local Zorbaz.  It’s a DL and Brainerd requirement when vacationing up north.

Most definitely, CH will be bringing yearbooks and photo albums going back to ancient times, so we will gab and gossip like we still live across the street from each other and have never left.  No time could pass at all.

Have a wonderful weekend, Friends!  But I bet ours will be better!!!

July 28, 2011

The Best Chocolate Cake in the Whole Wide World!

Posted by Ethne~

I am about to share with you THE best chocolate cake you will ever have in your entire life.  Don’t quibble with me.  You will not win this argument.

MoJo, PoJo and Little M

This recipe is from Dot’s (college roomie) mom MoJo.  We typically go up to the J’s cabin up north once a summer around Dot’s b-day.  As is family tradition, MoJo makes Dot this cake.  We ended up making a second cake since the first one was gone instantly (in large part due to me eating it as full meals and snacks).  I probably would’ve taken it on the pontoon if we had some Tupperware (note to self...).

Up at the J's cabin - Easy Mac and NH loved the pontoon ride!
KD was not interested in this slow a** jet ski ride
Easy Mac sleeping with KK on a boat ride -
life doesn't get much better, Friends!

The ingredients will surprise you:

½ cup butter
½ cup vegetable oil (I use olive oil or canola for everything)
1-3/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
½ cup sour milk* **
2-1/2 cups flour
4 T. cocoa
1 t. baking soda
½ t. baking powder
½ t. salt
2 cups shredded zucchini (yeah, that’s right!)

*You can make milk ‘sour’ by adding 1 t. lemon juice or vinegar to regular milk.

**You can use kefir yogurt.


Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Cream butter, oil and sugar.  (I use my hand mixer.)  Add eggs and vanilla, beat.

Brown eggs (cage free Friends) have golden yolks.

Sift dry ingredients together and add to egg/sugar mixture in small parts alternating that dry mix with sour milk till everything is incorporated. 

Kefir on left; dry ingredients on right

With a large spoon or spatula, stir in the shredded zucchini till thoroughly mixed up.

Zucchini shreds - they do not have flavor - sneakin' in a veggie!
FOLD the zucchini in - i.e. stir zucchini in gently.
See?  You already can't tell the zucchini is in there

Spread in a lightly greased 9” x 13” pan and top evenly with topping*.

Topped and ready to bake



¾ cup MINI semi-sweet chocolate chips (mini chips are key)
1/3 cup brown sugar (I like dark brown sugar)
½ cup chopped nuts or flaked coconut (or both) (I like coconut)

Bake for 40-45 minutes.

O. M. G.

Friends, this cake is so moist, so chocolatey, so AWESOME, you will not even believe it till you make it.  The zucchini, being shredded, is invisible in the cake, but is what makes the cake so moist.  Plus, you’re sneaking in a veggie!!  I like that you have the sweet topping, but don’t need to worry about a frosting.  The topping with coconut kinda reminds me of Girl Scout Samoas/Caramel DeLite cookies.  But if you’re not a coconut person, it’s not overpowering either.

I GUARANTEE that this cake will win you over.  I am NOT KIDDING that this is the best cake EV-ER.  The cake used in these pictures is made for Girls Trip ’11.  Lucky us!  Try it, you'll like it, just take a tip from me (high school cheer)!

SHOUT OUT to BG, whose awesome mother-in-law DG gave me the zucchini fresh from her garden. J

July 27, 2011


Posted by Lori~

Last summer it rained and it rained A LOT!  This summer however, it has rained even more.  And unfortunately, the rain had to put another project on our home project check-list. 

Our basement did flood a few times this summer (specifically when it rained).  And so, a few weeks ago Steve and I went to town on our landscaping.  We needed to build up the ground in order to slant the dirt away from the house.
Mid-project, but mostly the before
Steve and I did look into hiring someone to do the job, but we soon realized we could do it ourselves for A LOT CHEAPER.  We dug in, we got dirty, and we went town.  We are starting with one side of the house first (this summer’s project) and if needed, we will hit other sides of the house in the future.

Tons of rock to move...plus check-out that plastic!
First up, we had to dig up the flowerbed.  We opted to save several bushes.  We simply cut them down and used 5 gallon bucket rings (Steve cut them off and they were purchased at a garage sale for less than 25 cents each) to serve as a dike around the bushes (to keep the dirt away from the trees).  We pulled out old plastic and moved wheel barrel after wheel barrel of rocks.

Steve pulled out the window boxes and reset them.  We then hauled in and shoveled a ton of clay (sloping away from the building). 
Moving this pile was OUT-OF-CONTROL!
But, a great workout!
Lastly, we hauled in truckloads full of top soil. 
The after.  Ready for grass!
Another view
Back-side of house (other side of fence)
WOMS—next up we will be sodding the ground and growing grass.  Stay tuned for that project and for updates (Steve and I are virgin sodders).  
We also started the beginning of "planning" the garden by using old railroad tiles and soil. 
Sod will also be going here!
Mur-Man and Rog like to get DIRTY!

Mur-Man's hands and shoes--straight to the tub!
WOMS—get your hands dirty to improve your home!  Plus—you save money!  DO IT! 


Posted by Ethne~

As I discussed here, I thought it would be a good idea to make Sweet Baby T-Rex some homemade cat treats.  Given his kidney disease, he’s not supposed to have a lot of wheat and corn, but more lean protein like turkey and enriched white rice.  He is on prescription kidney formula (low protein so his kidneys don’t have to work extra hard) from Dr. M. 

My Sweet Baby T-Rex

But I like to give him treats too, so I thought that it would be a good idea to make some even if they have a few ingredients that aren’t ideal for his kidneys (ie wheat).  Even if they have some wheat, it’s not like he’s going to subsist on them, and I can also be sure that he is eating wholesome ingredients rather than by-products, fillers and ash (yeah, you read right – a lot of pet foods have ash in them – WHAT THE F**K?).

Anyway, I did some internet research and found a few cat and dog treat recipes (remember, Lori’s beloved dog Roger and Neen’s new sweetpea Bella need treats too) that would be worth trying (and possibly THRIFTIER?)

Another test subject: Louie
(Dad and Mom Connie's cat)

This recipe was mish-mashed from a couple of recipes I found, based upon ingredients I already had.

You’ll need:

One 4.5 oz. jar of Gerber turkey & rice baby food - $0.51 at Target
2/3 cup wheat germ
¼ cup water
2/3 cup flour plus more till a dough forms


Heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Mix all ingredients together with your hands till a dough forms that isn’t sticking to your hands.  I added flour as necessary till the dough was able to be rolled out with my rolling pin.

See the dough rolled flat in front of me?

I rolled the dough flat with my rolling pin till it was ¼ inch thick.  Then I cut it into little bite-size bits with my pizza cutter.  Be careful not to cut too hard – or I’d have scratched my island’s counter top.

Messy fun that doesn't make me freak!

The girls thought this was great, and since we were only making cat treats that cost us $0.51 out of pocket (I had the rest of the ingredients so the remaining cost was nominal), I didn’t get too excited about them “messing” anything up, nor did I freak about them touching the stuff because nothing was raw.  They thought it was fun to put the little squares on the cookie sheet.

Tray o' Treats

We placed the little cat bite-size pieces on a greased cookie sheet and baked them for 20-24 minutes until they were slightly browned.  They weren’t crispy, but they weren’t raw dough either.

Yummy treats

Take out, cool and place in an airtight container or Ziploc bag.  Some of the recipes I found indicate you can store in your fridge or freezer.  I put my treats in the freezer for good measure, though in my opinion they really aren’t going to go bad.

The test: Theodore ate 1 treat straight up.  Then that’s it.  He hasn’t eaten any more than that.  He has no teeth (not kidding), but that hasn’t stopped him from eating cat treats or dry crackers in the past, even though his primary meals are soft cat food.  I suppose time will tell if he likes them any more.  Or I’m stuck with about 100 cat treats – perhaps I can pawn them off on Roger and Bella if he doesn’t?

Yeah right!
That's a sniff, not a lick

THRIFTY comparison: You can get around 30-40 cat treats for a couple bucks at the grocery store.  Hard to say what’s all in them.  OR you can make 100 treats for about $0.50.  The math tells the tale, Friends.

I’ll check back again with whether he likes these treats in the long run.  If not, I’ll tell you if Bella will eat them.  My girls never ate any store-bought baby food, and I only once tried to make meat baby food, which they didn’t eat.  If T-Rex won’t eat these made out of baby food, I’d say we have a sign: meat baby food is icky.  (I found another recipe with tuna, and I’m pretty sure that’ll work.) 

July 26, 2011

TUESDAY AT NOON: Ethne on...TC's Wedding!

Posted by Ethne~

Since I told you here about TS’s wedding last weekend to BC, I thought I should give you the deets.

Special Guest Steph and fam came to town (naturally I snatched up baby EK and didn’t put her down till it was time for Steph to nurse…my boobs are on hiatus).  CH and her husband CH came, and Shaun, the girls, Thrifty Nana (my mom) and I were all in attendance.  We were thick as thieves.

Fellow Thieves: I stole Baby E

Seeing as T & B are on 4 different hockey leagues, all of whom were invited, we didn’t know very many people there.  That didn’t really matter tho.  We just yapped it up the whole night.  I semi-watched my children, glad that there were multiple other youngsters there to distract them and ease me of my parental responsibilities.

AK and Easy Mac: I see an arranged marriage in their future.
Thrifty Nana facilitated this - Easy Mac was thrilled!

Lots of other kids to play with -
AK was having none of it!

TC looked FAB-U-LOUS!  She is lucky enough to have long legs, a slender waist, gorgeous long brown hair and a nice rack.  BC, you totally lucked out with this babe – she is a catch!

CH and bride TC - aren't they gorgeous?

It was also awesome that I got to catch up with TC’s older sister BN.  Since TC and I grew up from 2nd grade on just three houses apart from each other (CH was across the street), BN was thoroughly annoyed with me on many occasions, I’m sure.  Now that we’re adults, I think she doesn’t mind me so much. J  Her kids B, A and L are adorable, of course.

And one of the best things of all was seeing my 2nd set of parents growing up – TC’s mom and dad, BS & LS.  I knew the code to their garage door, so I let myself in any old time I wanted.  I raided their fridge and did other things that only I could get away with.  They probably wouldn’t even let TC get away with what they let me get away with.  I adore them.  Since my mom and dad have now moved away from Williston, I don’t get home much anymore, so these times are too few and far between.

BS and me - Easy Mac was nearly asleep.

Let’s face it, though, here’s the real secret: BS brought me the best thing in the whole wide world – her homemade pickles.  She knew from the start that her pickles were the way to my heart.

These Three = Pickle Thieves!

Thanks for hosting a fab event T & B!  It was great to see my bff’s (and revv ourselves up for GT ’11) and hometown fam. 

BFF's - we missed u Lori!

Best of all, I got to dress up in my new dress and fill the bodice in with my sweet Bombshell cleavage.  If TC hadn’t looked so gorgeous, I would’ve been mistaken for the bride, I’m sure of it.

Shaun, CH, CH and me ~
I wouldn't have filled out my dress without the BOMBSHELL!
Thrifty Nana and the girls dressed up too!
Easy Mac - cooperate!
KD - pay attention!