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5 posts from February 2013


Up -Cycling

If you eat cereal, drink coffee and go through peanut butter like we do, then this is for you.  Stop recycling and start up-cycling!

The possibilites are really endless. Here are some of my favorites from tonight's story.. and some extras!

Cereal box magazine file:



Cereal box junk drawer organizer:



Peanut Butter Jar storage:



Shopping Bag's a go-go:





Nutty, Fruity and Yummy!

Watch "What Can Davis Save Us?"

OK. I'm lazy. I admit it. If there's an easy way to do things, I'm all over it. That's why I'm so drawn to nutrition bars. OK. I'm always late, too. That's another reason I love bars. They're easy, and you can eat them while you're running out the door, getting ready for work, driving to work, during work. Whenever, wherever. 


Of course, with ease comes a price. The healthy bars can be pricey: $2 to $4 a bar, depending where you buy them, which isn't bad for a once-in-a-while treat. But when you eat them daily (Sometimes several times a day. I told you, I'm always late), that can really add up. Plus, you have to be careful that you're eating the right bars. You grab the wrong nutrition bar and you might as well be eating a candy bar. Some bars actually have more sugar than the treats you find in the candy aisle!  Not good.  By healthy bars, I mean bars with no high fructose corn syrup (I know. The corn people say it's fine, but I try to have my family avoid it anyway). We're really trying to limit our processed food, so I look for bars with only a handful of ingredients, around 5 or 6, and with words my 8-year-old can pronounce.


That's why I was so excited when I stumbled upon recipes for DIY nutrition bars! Yay! Not only are they less expensive to make, you can put in the exact ingredients you like. Win-win!  The DIY "Lara" like bars are date-based and one of my favorites.  You can find the recipe here at the Wanna be chef. They're just dates, nuts and dark chocolate. If you're kids like peanuts, throw them in there. But if someone has a peanut allergy, leave them out. You can use almonds or brazil nuts or any other nut instead.  The DIY "Clif" bars are just as easy to experiment with. The combinations really are endless. Both brands have flavors like apple pie, lemon, oatmeal cookie, cherry pie, German chocolate. Check out the different flavors available online or the next time you're at the grocery store, and experiment.


What I've learned:


I've been making the DIY Lara bars for a few  months now, and I really like them.  After doing some price-checking, I've found that the bulk bin at Giant seems to be the best buy for the dates and the bulk nuts.  You can also find the dates in bags alongside the raisins and figs. Those are a little more pricey per pound, but you can usually find them 2 for $5 on sale somewhere. The bulk nuts are also usually cheaper than the canned. Take a look at the "price per pound" on the shelf label. That's usually the best way to see if you're getting the best deal. As far as chocolate goes, the darker the better, and the healthier, you can use a bar or chips. I like the 60 percent dark Ghirardelli chips. They're easy to work with and are delish!  


As far as mixing goes, a food processor, a magic bullet or a really good blender are a must when working with the dates. They can be very sticky and big. If you're using a blender or magic bullet, make sure you work in small batches, and always remember to take the pits out! They will not grind up, trust me. I usually blend the dates first. They'll form a big sticky ball of date paste. Remove it from the canister and then do the nuts and chocolate together. Then you can mix the dates and the nut/chocolate combo together by hand in a big bowl and press it into a foil-lined cake pan. The mixture will be kind of dry and a bit crumbly, but you'll see that it will start to hold together. If it seems way too dry, you can add a tablespoon of water before you press it into a 9 x 13 pan. Then just pop it in the freezer for 20 minutes and once it's set, you can slice it into bars. Lara bars are on the smallish side -- about 2 X 3 inches, but you can make them any size you like. I typically cut my slab into 16 nice size bars and wrap them in wax paper and pop them in the freezer.


I tried the Clif bars for the first time for this story. They were easy enough, and you don't need a food processor for this at all. I used a food processor and I think that was a mistake. If you've ever eaten a Clif bar you know that they're a bit on the chunky side. So by hand is probably the way to go if you want that consistency. The food processor made them more fudge-like, which wasn't bad. It just depends on your preference. I followed the recipe exactly except for the wheat flour. I'm trying to cut down on wheat, so I used rice crispees instead. Instead of cocoa powder, you can use the healthy raw cacao or even a chocolate protein powder. That's the great thing about making them yourself. You can change things up to fit your needs. These taste really close to the Clif chocolate brownie bars and they were a big hit with my taste-testers, a.k.a. the newsroom.


I also made a KIND bar. I love these! We didn't have time to include it in the TV story, which is a shame because these were really good.  KIND bars are usually just nuts, seeds and dried fruit, kind of like a trail mix bar. These were also super-easy to make. Just take your favorite nuts, throw in some dried fruit and seeds and mix them up with honey. You can chop the nuts if you like or leave them whole. I left mine whole like they do in the original KIND bar. Unlike the other bars, which go in the freezer, you bake these for 15 minutes. They'll be gooey, but once they cool they hold together and you can cut them into bars with a large, sharp knife. Once again, you can either wrap them up in wax paper so you can grab them and go or store them in an airtight container.


Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to run! Time for work. Luckily, I have plenty of bars in the freezer to grab :)


Here are some links to other DIY bar flavors:








Fish and Chips Shop

The new smell of clean or fish and chip shop?

 OK. So I don't hang out in fish and chip shops that often. In fact, to be honest, I've only ever been in one once before, but I imagine this is what they smell like. (minus the fishy smell). I'm talking about the pungent scent of vinegar.

 If you use home cleaners, you're going to become very familiar with vinegar's sharp smell. That's for sure.  Vinegar is the superstar in the DIY cleaner lineup. It's in practically every recipe because it works, but it also smells.  The good news? It doesn't smell for long.  Really. I think the smell fades faster than the smell of bleach, and vinegar is oh so much safer for you, your family, your pets and your indoor air quality. (Do not use if you have granite countertops though! Vinegar can damage granite. Try this alcohol-based spray instead).  

 If you still can't wrap your nose around the vinegar smell, there is an easy fix.  You can add some lemon juice, like the recipe in this week's "What Can Davis Save Us?" DIY cleaner story, or add an essential oil like lilac or eucalyptus.  Another super-easy way is to throw some orange peels or lemon peels in a glass jar and fill it up with your vinegar, let it sit for a couple of days and magically, the vinegar smell is gone. 

 We featured two of the more popular DIY cleaners in the newscast, but there are tons of recipes out there.  You can make your own disinfectant wipes, glass and window cleaner, dish-washing detergent, shower cleaner, bathroom cleaner. The list really does go on and on.

 Here are a few of my favorites.  The best part? A few of these blogs even provide links to print your own labels! I love labels!  It just makes your cleaners look so nice and organized, plus it guarantees you won't use your toilet cleaner on your counter top or vice-versa. 



 I've been using DIY cleaners for several months now, and I have to say I've grown used to the scent, and I actually kind of like it.  Makes me think of french fries, and that could be a whole new problem.



The Pink Stuff

Pink Stuff. That's what my family affectionately calls our homemade laundry detergent. Obviously because it's pink. Like pink goop really. It may not look exactly like store bought detergent but it works! I've actually been using my batch for about 8 months now and I love it.  We used ZOTE pink soap in our recipe which is what gives it that nice pink color.  It also has a very faint fresh scent to it.

 I mixed up my giant 5 gallon bucket last spring and it's still going  strong!  Remember that 5 gallons makes 10 gallons of detergent because you mix it with equal parts water before you use it.  The best part the first batch (the most expensive) comes out to just over a penny per load! A penny! And the best part is since you only use a cup of borax and a half a cup of washing soda you have plenty left for several more buckets full. All you have to do is buy your $1 bar of soap. So that's $1 for 10 gallons of laundry detergent! You can't beat that.

Here's the recipe I used from  the blog "Just a LIttle Nutty" 


What I've Learned

 First off remember to get a lid for your 5 gallon bucket. (They sell them at Home Depot) That's a must. Also if you have a food processor you may want to use that instead of the cheese grater it will go a lot faster.  Another time saver is using a drill with a paint mixer attatchment. I bought one at Harbor Freight for $4.   It makes the detergent a lot smoother and easier to pour.  I keep my big orange bucket in the laundry room and just refill a half gallon bottle as needed.  You're going to want to break out your drill and mixer before each refill just to mix it all up.


Stars and Sunshine HE Powder

The Frugal Girls 


Interest in Pinterest?

Pinning. It's one of the most popular and fastest growing Internet obsessions, with a reported 10.5 million registered users doing it daily.

So what's the big interest in Pinterest?

According to online market watchers, anything and everything, especially when it comes to DIY projects. Here you can find tips on everything from how to plan your own wedding to how to make your own drain cleaner.

But, do any of these miracle cures, quick fixes and money-saving tricks actually work outside the blogosphere?

"What Can Davis Save Us?" decided to put some of the more popular DIY money-savers to the test.

First up, a healthier lifestyle is a goal for a lot of folks these days, but the buzz words, "all natural," "organic," and "green" can be a real buzz kill when you see the cost: $15 for laundry detergent? $10 for an all natural bathroom spray cleaner? Then there's food. All natural snacks, while good for you, can leave a bad taste in your mouth when you take a peek at the grocery bill.

But according to millions of "pinners," being healthy doesn't have to come with a healthy price tag.

A quick search reveals dozens upon dozens of posts on how to make everything from all natural soaps and cleaners to protein bars and fruit roll ups, and all with products you can easily buy in your grocery store.

  One blogger shows how you can even make your own laundry detergent for pennies instead of quarters a load!

And the trendy, high-end French-labeled cleaners found in those fancy cooking stores?

You can make those, too! Labels and all! Saving the environment, your family's health and money all at the same time!

And most are safe enough to eat!

Speaking of eating, there are millions of pins for all natural snacks for kids and the health conscious. Protein bars, snack bars, fruit chews, granola complete with how-to instructions, once again claiming you, too, can spoil yourself without spoiling your diet or your budget.

While you're cleaning your diet and your counters, why not clean out your cupboards?

Organizing is the best way to clean out the clutter, and studies say living in a more organized home is less stressful and therefore more healthy. Plus, it's easier to clean!

But who needs all of those fancy bins, baskets and bottles from those fancy catalogs and Internet sites?  You got it. You can do it yourself with a little help from some creative friends. That's right! In the DIY world, recycling is being kicked to the curb! Now, it's all about "up-cycling".

Haven't heard of it? Well you will. And odds are, you and even your grandparents have been doing it for generations.  Use old baby food jars for screws? You've up-cycled!  A shoe box to hold old family photos? Yep. You got it. It simply means taking something you might otherwise throw away and using it for another purpose. Move over Martha Stewart, and take your pricey spice jars with you. You can get the same look at a fraction of the price.

All this month, "What Can Davis Save Us?" will help you live clean and green on the cheap. All it takes is a little mixing, chopping, gluing and, oh yeah, pinning!

Who says housework can't be fun?




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