Thursday, February 24, 2011

TFSA and Family Finances ~ More reading

Yes, I devour books like these...
 I have read this one last year and wanted to confirm a few things this year, so browsed it again.  I am amazed how few people know that a TFSA doesn't have to be just a savings bank account.  You can buy penny stocks/blue chips stocks, etc in this fund.  If you put in $5000 and the stock goes up (like a Bank of Montreal stock, etc) and you end up with $12000 in that TFSA account, it is all profit.  No need to report to the government.  IF you pulled out your $12000, you could put another $12000 back in the next calendar year.  NOT BAD!  A great way to make money for a down payment on a house or a vacation, etc.  A few chapters in this book are a real good easy to understand read.

They are American, there is some reference to Canada in it, I browsed it.  It is an easy read, they think along the same lines as us.  Think ahead, plan ahead, save what you've got.  No big surprises.  The biggest thing I got out of this was :  bring a crockpot along on trips that you need to stay in motels.  Plug it in the bathroom and come back to supper!  ha ha.  Loved it.  When they flew somewhere, they quickly went to a 2nd hand store and bought a slow cooker, make a trip to a grocery store and voila!  Food for the masses.  AND bring a cooler, motels have ice right or a little refrigerator...
They are very common sense.  They have 3 options for your personality type of actions you can take for each subject to help you reach your goal.

Yes, the one of the left is the same one as another post "How to Survive without a Salary" by Charles Long.  I guess I had reserved this version as well from the library.  A little easier to read on the eyes, same info basically.  How to get your life making you money, spending little to live and living the life you want.  EX.  Rent out houses for monthly income, be thrifty, grow your own, make investments that pay you dividends, work casual at something you love.
"What Every Canadian Should Know about Family Finance" by the Canadian Securities Institute, non profit.
Everything from a budget, mortgage, life insurance, RRSP, RESP, Wills, Power of Attorney, Investments, Minimizing Taxes, Education, Retirement.  Gives a listing of organizations to help you.  This was good to get you going and get some head knowledge and to confirm what you are doing is right or "wrong"...oh no.
A little time examining your finances can really pay off in the long run.

God has given us brains to live in this world.  We are meant to be an encouragement to others and a help.  If I am struggling to stay afloat, it is hard to bless others.  We have been very blessed in many ways and can't wait to be able to give back. We already know how to live on a shoestring, so we'll see what we can do when we actually start making some money again.  I'm waiting for the famine to be over ~ That excites me.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

OH how doth thy husband play?!?

What makes your husband giggle?  Besides tickling, I mean!  What makes him scream with sheer adrenaline?  What makes him tick?  What makes him giddy like a little boy in the candy shop?  What makes his heart beat a little bit faster and make him forget the rest of the world?  YOU!  Hee hee...had to add that in there.

Seriously, my husband loves snowboarding.  When we were first married and had no children, Gregg had his first taste of mountain snowboarding.  We went to see his cousin Ian in BC at that time and he took him to Mount Baker?  I remember how excited he was when he got back.  Also how I had to stand on the bed and try to peel his soaked-through wool sweater off his body.  He was exhausted and we both knew our life would never be the same!
Gregg Thiessen

Snowboarding became the "thing" to do in the Thiessen household.  Gregg's wonderful parents turned a hill on their property into a snowboarder's paradise and even manufactured a rope-tow to help them get to the top.  Endless hours of building jumps, etc and encouraging each other as some learned and some excelled.  Cousins made videos, we all laughed as they fist-pumped and yelled and acted like little boys with toys.  No real serious injuries, a few knees blown out...

If my husband would be given a short time to live, he'd want his family and cousins snowboarding in the mountains or on the "boarder Griz" hill.  I would be more than happy to do that for him.  He gives a shout out to his Creator of all that he is enjoying...the mountains, trees and snow...ever thankful to be able to enjoy all that our God has made.
Late spring sometime, this is our middle child when she was 6? But this is the view of the rope tow on ole' Thiessen hill.  Maybe someday it will rise again with the new and old generations together!

I Love Love Love my husband when he snowboards.  His body becomes alive.  He is my man.  I am a little tiny bit sad that I don't share the enthusiasm, but I will never deny him.  I have learned what "tweek" means, what a backflip and rightside/backside, 180 and 360 mean.  If someone rides "goofy" it is not from Disney.
Male bonding at it's finest

I am constantly reading a book by Stormie Omartian "The Power of a Praying Wife".    If you've never read it, give it a read.  It may just change your thought processes.  Our husbands need our prayers as much as the air they breathe. Today I am thrilled that my hubby gets to experience snowboarding again for the first time in two very very long years.  Blessings my Man!  Shred it up!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Typical January reading for me...

In my book corner this winter has been this book by Charles Long.

It is a good book.  Print is a little difficult to read, but a good read.  Unfortunately, I didn't learn a thing from this book.  We do every thing in this book.  Sigh... we are out-and-out conserver's.
I've been researching the Minimalist movement as well.  That I am not completely.  I store things for later use and have more than 3 pairs of shoes (although all 2nd hand, free).
There is always somewhere that anyone can cut back on spending.  I did love the example they gave of a newlywed college age couple.  They both worked regular jobs, saved and saved for 6 months, then spent 3 months travelling Europe.  That is great!  Famine then Feast!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A special supper

Here are a few pics of what our Feb. 14th looked like.

Made a heart shaped brownie for a friend, then divided up another pan for other neighbors

Uber-cute little oven mitt-hot pads came in the mail from Gramma!

A delightful new cake recipe~ Airways Sponge Cake ~ great with whipped cream and raspberries, didn't get soggy like an Angel Food cake sometimes does

This is how I cool my cake, came out of the pan perfectly later by running a knife around the edge.
Recipe is at end of entry.

 Girls set the table all pretty like for when Daddy got home.
Daddy brought his main honey some fresh mushrooms and a Bounty bar!  What a keeper!
Made a yummy meal, ate with fancy dishes and by candlelight!

Never to waste a drop!

Airways Sponge Cake
6 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups cake flour (I used regular white)
1/4 tsp
6 tbsp water ( I used room temp)
1 tsp grated lemon ( I left this out)
1 tsp lemon extract ( I used Mexican vanilla and 1 tsp of dark spiced rum )
1 1/2tsp baking powder
( I also added 1/2 tsp of cream of tartar to the egg whites)

Beat egg yolks until light and lemon color.  Beat in sugar gradually.  Sift flour and salt together (I just stirred); add alternately with water to first mixture.  Add extract.  Beat egg whites until foamy (best in glass container) add baking powder and continue beating until they hold a peak.  Fold into the egg yolk mix and pour into a UNgreased pan (tube pan).  
Bake 325F for 50-60 mins.
YUM.  Not too sweet and just firm enough to hold up to whipped cream, ice cream, sauces.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A day for Love

A day of stress for many a man ~ how to prove his love for his beloved on such a high pressure day.  Well, not in our house.  Some Valentine's Days have meant dinner out.  Most have meant quiet evenings at home, with the great excuse to declare some love.  We should never need an excuse or feel pressure to show our beloved how much they mean to us.  BUT seeing as we live in a society that bombards us with chocolate, flowers, candy and cupids, then we can hardly miss this day.

So today we will be making a lovely steak supper and desert for our main man ~ my love, the girls Daddy.  My girls are great at setting a beautiful candlelit dinner and they will be a part of it.  Yes, I have 3 girls who love to spoil their Daddy on this day.  If I had boys, I don't think it would be much different.  After all, they are spouses in training aren't they?  I want my girls to spoil their husbands on many an occasion.

We also take any opportunity to spread some love around to those around us.  Why not use these commercialized holidays to our benefit?  Maybe you can make someone's day.

We will prepare a yummy steak supper and while eating by candlelight, we will declare our love for one and another and also the love our Heavenly Father has for us.

What are you doing today? Enjoy it!

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Homemade Cottage Cheese

Cottage Cheese

1 gallon 2% or Homo. milk
1/2 cup vinegar
1 tsp. salt

Heat milk to 190F
Turn off, remove from heat and add vinegar.
You will see curds forming.
Allow to cool.
Drain in colander.
Pour curds into a bowl, salt and mix and enjoy!

Pour curds into a cheesecloth to allow it to drain/drip so you'll have a dry cottage cheese.

If you want a creamier cheese, add 1 tbsp cream to it and stir and add fruits, etc.

Here's the final product.  I got 3 store-bought yogurt containers full.

I'll add the final picture as soon as it is's sitting and waiting very patiently for me.  I want to freeze the dry cottage cheese for perogies or lasagna later.
UPDATE 2013 ~ I just tried this method with Lactose Free milk (store bought of course) for my girl. It was slightly sour, so I thought why not?  It didn't make big curds, but small curds.  It turned out really well for what Kate likes anyhow.  I am going to use it in a Gluten Free Lasagne for her tomorrow.  No use wasting milk that has just started to turn "sour".

Mozzarella Cheese Homemade

Here are 3 recipes for Mozzarella Cheese  (  I hope my friends that provided these recipes don't mind :)
What I've found so far is that it doesn't always have to sit for as long as they say.

Mozza Cheese
2 gallons whole milk (8 l)
2.5 tsp citric acid (dilute in 1/4 cup cool water)
1/4 tablet rennet (dissolved in 1/4 cup cool water)
1/2 gallon water (heated to a boil)
1/2 cup salt (dissolved in above hot water)

Stir citric acid into cold milk,  Stir 2 min.
Heat milk to 88 F and remove from heat.
Add rennet.  Stir for 30 secs.
Let mixture stand for 30 minutes or until it gels.
Cut into 1 inch squares.
Sit for 15 mins as whey separates from curds.
Heat slowly to 108 F and keep well stirred.
Remove from heat and allow to stand for 20 mins, stirring occasionally.
Drain in colander for 15 min.
Cut curd into 1 inch strips and lay criss-cross in a bowl.
Pour hot salt water over curd strips and stretch with a wooden spoon, pulling up and down until soft.
Gather and shape in a ball.  Place in container or mold and refrigerate

2. Mozza Cheese
Pour 3 gallons of milk ( cream included ) in big pan
Add 3/4 c/ lemon juice
heat until 88' .Turn stove off and add 1/2 tablet of rennet, that has been soaking in abit of water.
Stir really good for about 2mins.Then let it rest  for another 10 mins. By then it should have solidify.
Leave for 30 mins or longer ( sometimes I leave it for an hour ) and then slice in chunks. Drain though my cheese bag and squeeze all the whey out of it ( you can use part of that for bread making and the rest for the chickens) Drain well.
Put the curds back in pan add cold water until it covers most of the curds. Add 1/2 cup salt, and then gently heat until the cheese becomes every soft and stretches. I almost bring it to boiling. Stir often.
Then  pour through a colander, and when you can handle the cheese, knead it and it is ready to eat. Enjoy !!

Recipe #3  
What I do is. One gallon of milk (I fill my pot and it still works) Mix 1-1/2 tsp of citric acid in one cup cool water, then mix into the milk, stirring vigorously. Meanwhile dissolve 1/4 tablet of rennet into 1/4 cup water.
Heat milk to 90 dgrs. Mix in the rennet and let sit for about seven minutes. When you push your finger against the curd it should make what is called a clean break, the curd should split and you should see the whey fill in the around your finger. The curd will look like custard. Using a sharp knife cut the curd into about half in squares, back and forth and sideways.

Heat again to 105 while slowly moving the curds around to keep them from packing together.

Take off the burrner and slowly stir for 2-5 minutes (I usually do about 3)

Pour off the floating whey and ladle the curds into a microwave proof bowl. Microwave on high for one minute, drain off the whey and gently fold the curds into one piece.

Microwave for another 30 seconds. Drain again and stretch the curd (like you would taffy) The curd has to be 135 Dgrs to work properly. It will start getting really smooth and silky. If it isn't hot enough, microwave until it is.

Shape into a ball and submerge in cold water, this helps it keep it shape and keep it from getting grainy.

I have to submerge it quickly, because the warm fresh cheese is so yummy I could eat it all. (not quite, but it is good)

This sounds involved but you will have it done in about an hour.

As a footnote, I have done Recipe #3 using the microwave for 1 minute, then 30 secs. and another 30secs.  The cheese temperature was hot at 135F and I could quickly pull it with my bare hands and then form it into a shape.  I wrapped them in wax paper, then put in a freezer bag or container.  They will be yummy on pizza later!
The recipe took me approx. 30 minutes!

Homemade Yogurt with skimmed milk

1 gallon skim milk
1/3 cup live active bacterial cultured yogurt

Heat milk to almost boiling ~ 180F~.  Stirring.  Remove from heat and let cool to 110 F.  You may place pot in cold water to speed this up.
Whisk in the yogurt to your warm milk.  I added some vanilla.
Pour into glass containers with lids.
Put in oven with light on for approx. 12 hours, overnight.
Put in fridge until cool and enjoy.
May need some stirring.
Girls drizzled theirs with warmed up honey and sprinkled with homemade granola.  I added partially-thawed strawberries to mine.  Very nice!

Yogurt Cheese (Cream Cheese)
Drain above yogurt into a cheesecloth and let sit for approx. 12 hours, hanging/dripping into a bowl in your fridge.  (Maybe it's time to clean out the fridge to make some room?)  Some people have used nylons, but be warned that they really stretch!
You can add some fruit or herbs before you put in the cloth so fancy cheese!

I put 8 cups of homemade yogurt into this cheesecloth and let pour out then drip the excess moisture out.  I'd say about 18 hours.

 This is what I got~
Out of the 8 cups yogurt, I have these containers full.  Put 2 in the freezer to see what happens, put the glass jar in the fridge to try out with something.

This is not at all sweet, you need to sweeten with honey or jam, etc.  It is PLAIN yogurt!

Make your own Mozzarella Cheese from milk Homemade

Ok, so I've made mozzarella cheese two times now.  Two different ways, forgot to take pics the first time.  It is very edible and disappeared fast.  Great on pizza.  I will try another recipe later and take more photos.

Assemble your ingredients and supplies.  My recipe called for lemon juice instead of citric acid and rennet tablets.  I have no clue where you get those, these are from a neighbour.  I'm guessing a health food place would help you.

This is my big stainless steel (don't use aluminum) stock pot.  Approx. 3 gallons of milk, partially skimmed. Add 3/4 cup of lemon juice to this and stir.
Heat slowly, stirring, to 90F

Add 1/2 tablet of rennet that was dissolved in a little warm water.  Stirring.

Remove from heat.  Stir for 2 minutes.  Site 10 minutes and it looks like this:  weird custard jello texture.

Start slicing in 1 inch lines, then across the other way to make cubes.  Let sit 10 minutes and the whey will start separating again.
 See it is getting that whey on top.
 Drain off the whey.  This is where some recipes differ.  This is one version.  I won't probably do this one again, as see how full the colander was! Other version slowly stir the curds and heat them back up before straining.
 Picture of Bosch machine ready for the whey to be added and make bread!

 The curds
 I heated a kettle of water with 1/2 cup salt.  Poured it over the curds in the pan again, stirring...HOT!  Tried to stretch it out with spoon, not working that well so used my hands.
 Stringy mozzarella cheese!
 A bit lumper than the 1st time, a different recipe.
Yum yum

Making Butter Homemade Butter from fresh cream

This is my week of learning how to use whole milk products ~ oh the joys of the expanding waistline! This is the only milk that myself and one daughter can drink without having tummy aches or staying close to a bathroom.  ha ha.
  First things first, butter.  Just take cream and shake.  Easy enough.

Once whole milk has settled, you see an obvious line of cream on top and milk on bottom.  Just use a ladle to carefully get your cream.  Glass jars are a must if you don't want your milk going bad.  I remember Mom sterilizing all her jars with boiling water.

Girls insisted we "shake it the old fashioned way as it is more rewarding"...Mei started out excited.

Still excited...

Passing the jars around, a little excited ~

Now not so much!
We gave up after over 30 minutes of arm numbing shaking.  I poured the bubbly brew into the blender and in 2 minutes...butter!
The foamy-type butter curds float to the top, ladle them out with a slotted spoon into your cheesecloth.  You can also just pour the blender full into a cheesecloth-lined colander that sits in a bowl. Then your buttermilk ends up in the bowl and butter in the cloth. If you don't have cheesecloth, use a sheer curtain or sheer material, even nylons?  Keep the watery stuff, it is your buttermilk and makes lovely muffins or biscuits.  Put in a glass jar and refridgerate.

Press this with your slotted spoon and soon you'll have a nice blob of butter to squeeze out!
This is when you could salt it a little.  Some add cinnamon, or herbs for speciality butters.


This is when you could press it with a pretty mould, etc.  I made one blob in the shape of a heart.
This is unsalted.

Watch for the next post on mozzarella cheese making, yogurt, cottage cheese, cream cheese etc.
Use the buttermilk to make blueberry muffins for a recently widowed neighbor.