Monthly Archives: June 2009

The 2009 Fabulous Food Network Magazine Challenge – Recipe 11 – Shrimp and Snow Pea Salad

The 2009 Fabulous Food Network Magazine Challenge
Recipe 11 – Shrimp and Snow Pea Salad
Page 38
11 down 56 recipes to go

As a way to provide summertime entertainment (let’s face it in this economy, we’re not going on a vacation this year) and still provide the kids with a learning experience, we’ve decided to recreate each of the 67 recipes found in the June/July issue of Food Network magazine. I’m thinking of this as teaching the kids to eat outside of the box.

We’ll make the recipes taking notes on ease or difficulty. We’ll also comment on the taste and will take photos of each recipe to see if our final product looks anything remotely like the ones in the magazine. So go ahead, grab a Pineapple-orange Mimosa (page 130) and join us this summer.

Snow peas are the best. They’re sweet, have a great crunch, and can be eaten plain as a snack. When we saw that they were going to be paired with shrimp in a sesame oil vinaigrette for the Shrimp and Snow Pea Salad we were all very excited.

This recipe is a piece of cake. First quickly steam the snow peas, cool them down, cut them up, and then add the other ingredients. By slicing the radishes thin, none of the kids got that burn that radishes sometimes give. The only even moderately difficult step is to toast the sesame seeds which takes all of a few minutes and adds a flavor well worth the time.

The rice vinegar and the sesame oil together add a nice Asian flavor to this salad. This is a great, summertime salad that could even stand on its own as a light lunch.

Shrimp and Snow Pea Salad

Shrimp and Snow Pea Salad

Two thumbs up on this recipe. All of the kids ate it. They loved the crunch and the dressing on the shrimp. Because it was so easy to make and went over so well, the Shrimp and Snow Pea salad will definitely be put on a regular rotation in our house.

Leave a comment

Filed under The 2009 Fabulous Food Network Magazine Challenge

Simple Thrift Column from Nashua Telegraph June 30

Wendy Thomas – Simple Thrift
Published: Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Investing in chickens could save money down the road

What if you decided to finally put your money where your mouth was and got yourself a bunch of chickens? columnists652

That is exactly what we are planning on doing. This Saturday, we are going to pick up eight baby chicks to begin our home-owned chickens challenge. The chicks are very young – and apparently you can’t tell whether they are girl or boy chicks yet – so we are going to take all eight with the understanding that the current owner who offered us the chickens will take back any males (roosters).

I’m quite certain our neighbors will appreciate this offer.

Once they have matured, we could have anywhere from zero to eight hens.
We’ve made this chicken decision for a few reasons:

• We want the kids to have something to do this summer that is far away from the TV set. Son Griffin is using his architectural software to design the chicken coop. Trevor and Logan are going to build it. Our daughters are going name the chicks, and Spencer is going to sit back and watch.

• I am interested to find out if chickens really help with the disposal of some food waste. I have also heard from many people that the tick population will be going down thanks to the chickens’ tick-eating ability.

• Admit it, haven’t you at least thought about having chickens? Don’t you think it’s a neat idea to create eggs with items you have around the house? Having chickens in our yard just sounds so romantically “Little House on the Prairie”-ish.

I do have a very good friend who has warned me against getting chickens. It had something to do with chicken poop in her yard. Let’s just say that if I ever start complaining about the newest addition to our family, I will publicly acknowledge her with an “I told you so!”

Re-evaluating can save tons

Many times you can save money simply by paying attention to what you buy. William Mosher, of Nashua, found out that he could have saved $32 on his groceries by buying house brands and by buying only what is really needed in the house.

“Another way to learn how to save is after you have done your shopping, sit down and read your receipt,” he wrote. “Check off with a colored pen the things you really don’t need that you could have done without or you could have purchased cheaper.”

He offers this example:

“I went shopping Tuesday and spent $32 more than was absolutely necessary,” he wrote. “I bought one package of hot dogs for $3.39 when I could have bought the house brand for $2.19. After reviewing my receipt, there were 13 items that I flagged as really unnecessary, and these items cost me the $32. Ouch!”

A local, thrifty vacation

New Hampshire has a lot to offer in terms of economical vacations and entertainment. One way to save money this summer is to take advantage of local opportunities. Caroline Morse, of Sandown, plans to do just that.

“My ideal vacation, although I won’t be able to do much of it this year, would be to do a long-distance bicycle tour, camping from the back of my bike, or a long-distance hike (maybe an Appalachian Trail section hike through the White Mountains), again camping along the trail. The rest of my family doesn’t think these sound like fun for some reason.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Simple Thrift Nashua Telegraph column, Simple Thrift Tips

Project Chickens before the Eggs – heat and fisher cats

Caroline (who gave us these chicks) has commented about some of the things I posted yesterday. I know a few people are reading this to see if keeping chickens is something they are interested in doing, so I’m raising her comments to the post level.

Honestly, having Caroline around is like have a Chicken mentor. She has been incredibly helpful so far and promises to oversee our progress making sure we have success. (Hi Caroline and Noah!)

chicks in a cage

chicks in a cage

Regarding Heat Lamps:

Caroline writes: You need to keep a heat lamp on chicks until they “feather out” – that is, they have more feathers than fluff. The feathers help keep them warm (and cool). At this point your chicks likely don’t need the heat lamp, unless you see them congregating close to the heat source to stay warm. (Mine are a week younger, and I’ve turned my lamp off at this point.)

Regarding Fisher Cats:

Caroline writes: And if you have fisher cats nearby, you’ll either need to make sure the chickens are locked in the coop at night, or make sure to use something like hardware cloth (like on a rabbit cage) instead of chicken wire on the coop.

Based on this information, we are going to take away the heat lamp (but we’re not getting rid of it because we’ll need it during the winter.)

Because we definitely have fisher cats in the neighborhood, Griffin is also going to take this advice and make some modification to his hen-house designs.

The chicks are currently in a large plastic tub in the garage. For now, other than doing occasional “chick-checks” and the kids holding and playing with the chicks, we’re just in a waiting game.

1 Comment

Filed under Project Chickens before the Eggs

The Chicks are here!!!

They’re here! They’re here!

Saturday afternoon, I packed up 4 of the kids and we headed about an hour north to a friend and reader’s (Caroline) house in Sandown to pick up our 8 newest little family members. That’s right, we decided to go ahead and get us some chicks.

Our new family additions

Our new family additions

Little did I know Caroline has an entire zoo in her back-yard. She has a small herd of alpacas, goats, hens, turkeys, bunnies, dogs, indoor cats and barn cats (who I must say are superb at hunting – just be careful where you step). She and her family shear the alpacas for the fur, eat the chicken eggs, milk the goats, and plan on eating those turkeys for Thanksgiving.

It was an amazing visit to a home that tries to be as self-sufficient as possible. Caroline told me that earlier she had ridden her bike for 25 miles to go to the library and back. Honestly, I don’t know where she has all the energy to keep up with everything.

Addy with Carter

Addy with Carter

Our chicks had been hatched by a homeschooling mom who had given them to Caroline. Caroline then contacted me because she knew we were interested in trying some hens for egg laying. Before you knew it, we had 8 little chicks to add to our six little rug rats.

This doesn’t mean that we will be keeping 8 chicks. Here’s something I’ll bet you didn’t know about baby chicks. You can’t tell what sex they are until they start growing a comb on the top of their heads, which usually takes a few months. And you can’t be too quick to decide which is which because even some females grow small combs.

Carter the chick

Carter the chick

Once we know which ones are the males, they are going to go back to Caroline. She has a lot more land than us and has neighbors who would not kill her if a rooster cock-a-doodle-doed at all hours of the day.

The kids who have already named most of the chicks. (Squishee, Miley, Carter, and Underwear (that’s my choice so that I can yell in the back yard “Will you please pick up your Underwear?!)) They are a little upset that some might have to leave us. But when I explained that they would be leaving us to go be Daddies, they were thrilled.

“You mean we’re gonna get more???!!”

Um, no. what we have right now is fine.

For the next month, these chicks will live in a boxed in area in our garage. That’s good because we don’t have anywhere to put them outside yet. We use woodchips in the crate, they eat stuff that looks like sawdust and they have continuous water. We also have a heat lamp over the crate to keep them warm.

Trevor with Squishee

Trevor with Squishee

And that’s about all we need to do with them for now. Although earlier when we had a break in the rain, the kids took them out back and let them run around for a bit.

Griffin’s project will be to design the chicken hutch. He’ll have to do research and come up with a plan for a henhouse and yard. The other kids will help him build it.

It doesn’t have to be too fancy, just fancy enough to keep the raccoons, fisher cats, and occasional coyote out.


Filed under Food Savings, The Chicken Challenge

The 2009 Fabulous Food Network Magazine Challenge – Recipe 10 – Steamed Artichokes

The 2009 Fabulous Food Network Magazine Challenge
Recipe 10 – Steamed Artichokes
Page 92
10 down 57 recipes to go

As a way to provide summertime entertainment (let’s face it in this economy, we’re not going on a vacation this year) and still provide the kids with a learning experience, we’ve decided to recreate each of the 67 recipes found in the June/July issue of Food Network magazine. I’m thinking of this as teaching the kids to eat outside of the box.

Food Network Magazine June/July Issue

Food Network Magazine June/July Issue

We’ll make the recipes taking notes on ease or difficulty. We’ll also comment on the taste and will take photos of each recipe to see if our final product looks anything remotely like the ones in the magazine. So go ahead, grab a Pineapple-orange Mimosa (page 130) and join us this summer.

Who couldn’t love an artichoke? Looking like a prehistoric, large, feathered acorn, each little pulled off leaf gets dipped into butter and then raked across your teeth to release the nutty, buttery soft pulp inside.

It takes time to eat an artichoke. It’s definitely not something you would make on “running to a soccer practice” night. But the time taken to eat one is well spent and like a box of cracker jacks, there’s a reward inside. For persevering and sticking with it, you get to eat the tender heart (dipped in butter again, of course).

We have always liked artichokes and when they are on the marked-down shelves, we pick them up. As a result of this previous positive experience, there were no disgruntled family members when I announced today was Steamed Artichoke day.

I placed the halved artichokes into a glass serving dish, added the lemon, thyme, white wine and olive oil and then covered and steamed them for about 20 minutes in the microwave.

When the artichokes were done I mixed in a tiny bit of the steaming mixture with mayonnaise and let the kids have at them.

Although the artichokes were universally liked, the mayonnaise sauce was not. To be fair though, the only time I use mayo in our house is either for tuna salad or as a source of fat to spread on the outside of bread when we make grilled cheese sandwiches. It wasn’t really a fair test as we’ve just never been fans of straight-up mayonnaise.

No problem, we melted some butter and set down to eat them in due course. The kids noticed that there was a slightly different flavor from the wine, thyme and olive oil but it was not enough for them to have any nose wrinkling.

Our Steamed Artichokes

Our Steamed Artichokes

And one of the best things about this recipe? It leaves you with stacks of leaves on your plate that you then get to dump into the composter after dinner making Steamed Artichokes quite the delicious and environmentally friendly recipe.

1 Comment

Filed under The 2009 Fabulous Food Network Magazine Challenge

Using eBay to be Thrifty

Published: Monday, June 29, 2009
Sell your stuff
Make a little extra cash with eBay
By WENDY THOMAS, Correspondent
EBay as a way to sell your unwanted items is alive and well, and although prices on average have come down in this economy, things are still selling. Those people who sell on eBay will tell you that auctioning items is a relatively easy and consistent way to make a little bit of extra pocket money on a regular basis.

There are many reasons people decide to sell on eBay, however, the most common is simply to downsize and make money.

When explaining her reasons for selling on eBay, Donna Boerner, of Merrimack, said: “The first reason is I wish to simplify my life by paring down the possessions that, in some instances, I have moved from one residence to another since I was a child. Time to let go. My husband and I would like to downsize to a smaller home and he made the point that I need to take the term downsize literally when it comes to my ‘things.’

“The second reason is to make a little cash.”

Boerner likens the experience to a much easier yard sale.

Courtesy photos
Donna Boerner, of Merrimack, sold this Steiff teddy bear for $181.38.
“I’ve always enjoyed the little thrill I get from selling items I no longer want when I’ve held yard sales in the past. In the past is just where I want yard sales to stay, though, because frankly I find them a considerable amount of work, and you’re a slave to the weather and traffic flow,” Boerner added.

One of the first few items Boerner sold was an old miniature Steiff teddy bear she had had for years. She got more than $180 for it. She became hooked and is now going around her house putting “lots” together of things she can sell at auction.

EBay is also a way to attract the attention of a large audience, especially if you are selling older collectible items.

Denise deBruyn, of Merrimack, is selling on eBay because she has a lot of antiques in her cellar and wants to move them out of the house while getting a little more than the asking price from consignment shops.

In one of her first few auctions, deBruyn sold a vintage glass shaker for almost $90 to a man in Canada. She has plans to put many of her other glass collectibles up for auction.

Courtesy Photo
At left, Merrimack resident Denise deBruyn’s vintage shaker went for $89.99 on eBay.
EBay offers a self-guided selling tutorial on its site to help you get started. Simply follow the links on the Web site. Many people who think eBay is too difficult to try find out that it is not that difficult, especially when you are taking it in a group or class environment.

“I netted approximately $130 my first week, $80 my second, and have a lot of ‘watchers’ right now (no bidders) which I hope at least almost half of the watchers become bidders closer to the end of the seven-day selling period.” Wrote Laura Ochoa, of Merrimack, an eBay class student who had never sold anything on eBay before the class.

Even Juni Pierce, of Merrimack, who admits that she is “technology challenged” has been able to successfully sell on eBay.

She wrote: “I have sold a few things and will sell more. It is kind of exciting when someone actually buys something and a real feeling of accomplishment and success. I would recommend selling on eBay to anyone. I have used the proceeds as pocket money and will eventually use it to pay back a loan.”

What it really boils down to is that eBay can give you some extra cash during a time when you could really use it. When asked if she intended to keep selling items on eBay, Ochoa replied, “I do plan to continue the eBay experience. Extra money coming in is extra money coming in.”


Helpful tips for auctioning on eBay:

• You must have a digital camera. It doesn’t need to be expensive, but you must be able to take and download photos.

• Each item must have a photo. Make sure the lighting is good and the background is a solid color. I use a pink or blue polar fleece blanket for my backgrounds.

• Go for the basics. You can spend a lot of extra money choosing things such as a bold title. It’s not necessary. If your item is good, someone will find it on the site.

• Craft a good title. People search on words used in a title. Don’t waste our space using words such as “and” or “set of.” Use as many searchable words as possible. For example, “Antique jade green glass scalloped 6 inch bowl.”

• In the description, create a story or a need for someone to buy your item. “This blue-eyed 16-inch doll” may very well describe her, but “This adorable blue-eyed sweetie sat on my daughter’s shelf for years” will sell her.

• If you can’t take a class, then hook up with an eBay buddy with whom you can ask questions and bounce ideas off.

• Don’t price your items too high. In this economy, people want a bargain and besides, a few dollars in your pocket is better than a figurine sitting on your shelf collecting dust.

• Use the U.S. Postal Service Web site ( to get information on shipping prices and to get free priority shipping materials.


Filed under Uncategorized

Guest Post: Teaching Our Young Kids To Be Frugal By Example


Note: I’ve met Becky at a few media events. Her blog is BargainBecky. She’s a very cool mom of 2 adorable, active boys. At these events, she and I hit it off right from the start. Neither of us believes that being thrifty is anything short of being smart and creative.

Photo Credit: Digital Sextant

Photo Credit: Digital Sextant

Because of this, I asked her to write a guest blog for Simple Thrift. Below is Becky’s post.


It’s no secret. I’m pretty frugal and pinch every penny. Having two children of my own sometimes makes me wonder how my frugal behavior will impact them. Obviously, I want to teach them to value money and to use it wisely (what parent doesn’t?). I also want to teach them that with a little hard work, you can make your money stretch further than you can imagine.

I’ve never actually “talked” about money or savings with my kids. For starters, they are only 3 and 1 1/2 years-old. They have other things on their mind like trains, toy tools and race cars. But I’m very surprised at how much my 3 year-old has picked up just by watching me.

I’m always cutting coupons every week. I’ve never told him what I was doing specifically, but as a 3 year-old, he’s asking me what I’m doing all the time. So I tell him simply “I’m cutting coupons so we can save money at the grocery store.” Now when I’m cutting coupons, he grabs his scissors and “cuts with me.” When my two sons pull out their play grocery cart and raid my pantry, I can hear their conversations. Without a doubt, my 3 year-old will mention the word “coupon” during their play. It’s kind of funny actually.

Our latest “subliminal” savings teaching actually involves a coupon! My son is obsessed with this one toy train. So we’ve been giving him quarters and dollars when he does something good to save in his “Special Train Bank.” This special train is available at a store that puts out coupons each week. So each week we’ve been cutting the coupon and telling him “Now save this with your train money so if you earn enough money this week, you can save some money with this piece of paper.” I think he’s more excited to add the coupon to his savings stash than the actual money!

It’s never too early to teach your kids about savings and as I see everyday, they learn the most just by watching our actions. Sure, I could just buy him the train or wait for a holiday, but it’s actually pretty fun for him (and me!) to save his quarters and coupons to get it!

Becky Haugh

Becky is a Stay-At-Home mother of 2 boys living on the South Shore of Massachusetts. She contributes to a blog mostly about grocery store savings at Her current project on the blog is to see if she can spend less than $5,000 this year on all of her groceries.

Leave a comment

Filed under Guest Post, The Family