Friday, January 21, 2011

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

I haven't fallen off the face of the earth, I've just not had the energy to write once my kids are in bed.  I've been trying out some recipes though and want to share them with you.  Today I will share the muffins we made during our snow day yesterday.  My kids devoured them and my oldest even asked to have one in his lunch today at school.

Banana-Chocolate Chip Muffins 
adapted from Eat Better America

1 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup mashed bananas (2-3 medium)
3 egg whites
1/4 cup canola oil (I used vegetable as it was all I had)
1/4 cup skim milk (I used whole as it was also all I had)
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 375.  Spray 12 large muffin cups with cooking spray or line with baking cups (recipe works great as mini muffins too).  

In a large bowl mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.

In a medium bowl mix bananas, egg white, oil, milk and vanilla with a fork until smooth.  Stir into flour mixture until flour is moistened.  Gently stir in chocolate chips.  Divide evenly among muffin cups.

Mix 1 tablespoon sugar with 1/8 tsp cinnamon and sprinkle evenly over batter.

Bake for 20-24 minutes (mini muffins take about 12 minutes) or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Lessons I Learned When The Washing Machine Broke

The week before Christmas the agitator on my washing machine quit working.  I called my usual washing machine repairman and he was booked for that week and then closed until after the new year.  No way could I wait that long to do laundry so I turned to Facebook to ask for a reputable repairman.  A friend had the same problem recently and she knew how to fix it.  Here are a few lessons I learned from that experience:

1. Google it.  For some reason it never occurred to me to try to fix it myself.  I do a lot of DIY projects but this seemed out of my league.  Turns out there are a lot of tutorials for this problem and the part to fix it was less than $10.  

2. Your washing machine is not as clean as you think it is.  I was appalled at how gross our machine was once I had the agitator out of it.  Every part I took out got a good cleaning and then I cleaned out all of the nooks and crannies I could get to on the machine.  

3. Do not overload your washing machine.  The guy at the appliance parts store said the main reason the agitator stops working is the machine has been overloaded.  He said there should be about an inch of water above your clothes when the tub is full.

3. Laundry piles up quickly when your machine is broken.  I usually do a load a day and it was four days before the machine was fixed.  A load a day doesn't seem too bad but four loads at once made me feel like all I did that day was laundry.

What projects have you tackled that were much easier than you thought they would be?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Six Tips Towards Living With Less

Our pastor does a series every year on finances and last week was the first in the series for this year.  He gave six problems that America has with money.  They are all common sense to me but are things that people are just beginning to learn thanks to the economy.  Here are his six points and a few comments for each.

1. Too much eating out.  There is nothing wrong with eating out as long as it is in moderation and a part of your budget.  He said that on average, drinking only water when eating out will make about every fifth meal free - good food for thought.

2. Too many college loans.  We are huge Dave Ramsey fans and I know he tells people to work their way through college so you do not wind up with loans.  People are constantly amazed that we paid cash for my husband's college even though we did not have full time income.  We worked every odd job we could so we could pay for his school debt free.

3. Too many clothes.  The mood hit this week for me to clean my closet and my husband quickly joined in.  Between the two of us, we cleared out 3 boxes and 6 bags of clothes and we still had plenty of clothes left in our closets.  Neither of us buy expensive clothes but we quickly realized we owned a ton more than we needed.

4. Too much house.  Kids do not realize that their parents did not start out in the house they currently live in.  You have to start small and work your way up.  People are buying too much house in order to have the lifestyle they grew up in.  Let your kids know what your first house was like.  Including taxes and insurance your house should be about 25% of take home pay.

5. Too much car.  The average car payment is $378 a month.  Save this much (and more) each month in a car fund so you can pay cash for a decent used car the next time around.

6. Too much credit card.  Our pastor found a fact that said you will spend 30% more when buying with credit instead of cash.

The key point of his sermon was that we need to be in control of our finances so that we can give back to others.  I'm glad he stated this as this was one of the first things we did when we finally came back to full time income.  We love to give and found it hard when we could barely pay our bills.  We've committed to still living on less so that we can help others in need.

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