Simplicity – Small & Cheap

Living simply & cheaply…wherever you are!

For Simplicities Sake…

…I am moving the content of this blog (and all my other’s) to my primary blog.   If you are, by some miracle subscribing or reading on a regular basis, please update the location to



June 13, 2009 Posted by | announcements | Leave a comment


Every Saturday, we make pizza from scratch.    I even make my own dough, but even if you aren’t that gung-ho, making your own pizza is definitely more fun than ordering in.


1 pizza dough, made or bought ($1.00 for homemade)

jar pizza sauce – 15 oz for 11×18 cookie sheet pizza ($2.29 purchased)

mozzarella cheese – about 2 c (one bag) for 11×18 sheet pizza ($1.67 on sale)

toppings – whatever you like!    This is where you can break the budget–or not.   We consider pizza a treat and therefore ALWAYS have pepperoni and green olives on it, making our minimum topping cost about $2.00.    If you choose to use leftover meat and veggies, this can be uber-cheap!   We had some leftover bacon this week and added that, too.

Grease the cookie sheet and drizzle cornmeal to keep pizza from sticking.   Spread dough to cover.    Pour sauce and spread with back of large spoon.   Cover sauce with mozzarella cheese.     Add toppings as desired.


Put in oven and cook according to directions for crust.   My homemade crust makes 10 fairly big/filling pieces.   We ate 2 each but also skipped lunch.   If we eat lunch that day, we eat one piece each.

Cost per slice – $0.70 (assuming base + pepperoni & green olives)   Your results may vary based on crust & toppings used.

What are your favorite pizza recipes?   Leave us a comment and let us know!!

June 17, 2009 Posted by | Recipes | | 1 Comment

AFM – What do I do with 2 POUNDS of key limes?


What does one do when they get a two pound bag of key limes (which, if you’ve never seen one, are the size of a bouncy ball that you get in vending machines outside of grocery stores)?   You make limeade!   Sounds like a pun, but seriously!    Most recipes that call for limes use 1 Tablespoon to 1/8 c.     That’s like 2-7 limes.  Two pounds of limes is like 30 of them (that’s a guess–I have not counted the lime carcasses covering my counter.    I don’t have room on my butt for 10 batches of lime bars and white chocolate lime cupcakes.

First, my tips for juicing key limes.   Roll them on the counter to break up the membranes inside (got that tip from AB).   Cut them in half between the “tips”.   If you cut the other way, you will hit major membranes.    Try it, you’ll see what I mean — I didn’t take pics of that part, sorry.  Squeeze them and then flip them inside out to ensure you break all the membranes and get the most possible juice out of them.   Do this over a tray that can catch ALL the juice because even if you do this over a measuring cup you will lose precious drops of juice.   When you do this All. Morning. Long. and see a puddle of juice on the counter…well that’s a little annoying.

So anyway, on to the recipes…

Limeade (from Cooking For Engineers)

  • 1 c lime juice
  • 1-1/2 c sugar
  • 1-1/2 c water

I will summarize for you since I screwed it up because, as a non-engineer, I didn’t understand her notation at the bottom.

Make a simple syrup from the water and sugar by heating the two until the sugar is dissolved.   Remove from heat and add lime juice (that’s where I screwed up–I added the lime juice while heating).

Makes 3 cups of concentrate.

To make the limeade, add 1 c concentrate to 3 c water.   Drink.  Repeat.

I also made Lime Bars (from

Bottom Layer:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine

Top Layer:

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice (approximately 1 large lime)
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest (optional)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 to 5 drops green food coloring (optional, but they look like lemon bars without it 🙂 )


Bottom –

Mix together flour & powdered sugar.   Cut in butter until well combined.   Press mixture into a 8×8 pan and bake at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.   While the crust is cooking, prepare the topping.

Top –

Break the eggs and beat slightly.   Add the lime juice, zest, sugar, flour and food coloring if you are using it.   Mix well and pour over hot crust and put back in the oven for approximately 20-25 more minutes.   Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Makes 9 bars.

And finally, the coup de grace, White Chocolate Key Lime Muffins, also from

For the cupcakes (super sweet!):

  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons grated key lime zest
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh key lime juice
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips

For the glaze (nice and tart!):

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/8 cup fresh key lime juice


Fill muffin cups with foil liners.   Don’t skip this, trust me.   The white chocolate chips kind of settle to the bottom and don’t come out very well.   You end up with lots of lopsided muffins and yummies to eat out of the pan.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.

In a seperate mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar.   Add the eggs, juice and zest, mixing well.

Into the butter-cream mixture in the large bowl, add 1/3 of the flour mixture, stirring until combined.   Add one-third of the buttermilk, stirring until combined.   Continue alternating one-third of each until all is mixed well.   Fold in white chocolate chips.

Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and put in a 350 oven for 18 – 20 minutes until the toothpick comes out clean.

Makes 12 -18 cupcakes.

While the cupcakes are baking, wisk together powdered sugar and lime juice.    After the cupcakes are done baking, poke pencil-sized holes (or smaller) in the top of each muffin and pour the glaze over the top and into the hole.    Cool completely.

Eat.  Repeat!

June 16, 2009 Posted by | Recipes | | Leave a comment

Coupon Craziness – Wags Edition

I didn’t take pics because I didn’t plan on blogging my trips until I got a Fab diaper deal at K-Mart this week.

Trip #1 –

  • 4 Dove Candy Bars – 2/$1.69 – (2) B1G1 Q’s valued by cashier at $0.89 each = $0.40 each
  • 2 Snickers Bars – 2/$1.69 – (1) B1G1 Q valued by cashier at $0.89 = $0.40 each
  • 2 M&M’s – $0.69 on sales – (1) B1G1 Q valued by cashier at $0.89 = $0.26 each
  • AND I scored a Physicians Formula Organic Wear Mascara with a coveted pink TMF sticker!    $9.99 – $9.95 MIR = $0.04!!!   I didn’t even bother going home for the coupon.   Risking $10 to save $1 just didn’t make sense to me!

Total Regular Price – $17.35

Total Sale Price – $17.04

Less Coupons – $3.56

Total OOP – $14.77

Less MIR – $9.95

Total Trip Cost – $4.82

Savings – 72%!!

On my first trip, I scouted some Physicians Formula Organic Wear products on clearance and I knew I had a few coupons at home so I ran home to get them.   I bought:

  • 1 Physicians Formula Organic Wear Eye Shadow Duo for Hazel Eyes – $4.79 clearance – $1/1 Q = $3.79!
  • 1 Physicians Formula Organic Wear Tinted Moisturizer + Free Mascara – $11.99 – $5/1Q = $6.99!

I had a $1/1 Q but when I paid in cosmetics and made friendly with the clerk, she traded my $1/1 Q from the paper for a $5/1Q she had in her secret stash.   Thanks, Donna!!!

Total Regular Price – $20.99

Total Sale Price – $17.79

Less Coupons – $6.00

Total OOP – $11.79

Savings – 44%    Would have only been 25% without her.   Moral of the story:  Pay in cosmetics and make friends with the clerk!

June 12, 2009 Posted by | coupon craziness | , | Leave a comment

AFM – Cordon Bleu Casserole

I had this on my menu plan to use Chicken leftover from Tuesday but I never cooked that and had a bunch of turkey in the freezer that I wanted to use up.    I’m sure chicken would work just as well.

The original came from Taste Of Home‘s Cookout/Potluck super Magazine, but you can find it on their website.

You will need:

  • 2 cups cubed fully cooked ham
  • 4 cups cubed cooked turkey
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup butter, cubed
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1-3/4 cups milk


In a greased 2-qt. baking dish, layer the turkey, cheese and ham; set aside.

In a large saucepan, saute the onion in butter until tender. Stir in the flour, mustard and nutmeg until blended. Gradually stir in milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Pour over ham.

Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.

Yield: 6 servings.

COOKS NOTES:  The original recipe includes a bread crumb topping, but everytime I make one, it stinks.   I scraped all mine off–I just can’t seem to get it right.   Also, the ham I had was thin sliced lunchmeat-style and so I just shredded it fine.    If you use chunks, the original has you browning the ham first.

June 11, 2009 Posted by | Recipes | , | Leave a comment

Coupon Craziness – K-Mart $2 Super Doubles Edition

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a coupon craziness post. I’ve been contemplating ceasing couponing…or at least purchasing coupons in the Sunday paper. The Detroit papers have quit carrying at least the P&G inserts up here and the Record-Eagle (AKA the Retch) doesn’t have squat in them. Add to that the cessation of the EasySaver program and I’m just not using as many as I was. The two nearest Wags are both so out of my way and expire in a week and a half (or so), that I don’t find enough good deals to perpetuate them. I keep losing money and it’s just really not worth it to me. Many of the coupons I’ve used lately have been IP’s or mailed by a manufacturer. Anyway, I did get some awesome deals this week and wanted to share.

First, K-mart $2 double coupon trip #1:

  • 2 Rubbermaid Easy Find Lid 1.25 c containers – $2.24 – $1/1 (X2) = $0.24 each!
  • 2 Rubbermaid Easy Find Lid 5 c containers – $3.14 – $1/1 (X2) = $1.14 each
  • 3 packages of Pampers – $9.99 – $2/1 (x2) = $5.99 each
  • 3 packages of Bliss chocolates – $3.00 – $1/1 (x2) = $1.00 each!

I also bought a TON of summer clothes for DD for next summer and a few pants for this summer/fall as it’s really cold and she is short on them. I got 4 pr shorts, 2 pr pants, a 3-pc bikini set (I hate one-pieces–I get FULL COVERAGE bikinis for both of us), and 4 shirts for $37.75 or approximately $3-$3.50 each, which is my low end price point for NEW clothes (i.e. anything except carters and special occasion/church)

Total Regular Price – $126.84

Total Sale Price – $100.84

Less Coupons Redeemed – $13.00

Less Coupons Doubled – $13.00

Total Spent – $65.59

Savings – 48%

Then I went to the K-mart across town since they instituted a 10/txn limit this time.  I got:

  • 2 Pringles – 2/$3.00 – (2) $1/1 (x2) = FREE!
  • 1 Glad Trash Bags – $10 — no coupons…In fact, I’ve NEVER seen any for these!

I also found 2 pr pants on the clearance rack for $2.50 each and a 2 pk of shirts that I wanted but the other store didn’t have the right size, for $6.00.   Average price per piece = $2.75.

Total Regular Price – $34.02

Total Sale Price – $25.26

Less Coupons – $2.00

Less Doubling – $1.00 (they wouldn’t go lower than price, remember)

Total Paid – $22.26

Savings – 35%    They must not take into account the non-clearance regular price.  I think they were like $5.99 each originally.

And my last and most marvelous K-mart trip for diapers this AM.    I didn’t even really plan it either and it’s the only one to deserve a pic.


I bought:

  • 2 Huggies Little Movers diapers – $9.99 – $2/1 IP (x2) = $5.99 each – $0.75 CGM rebate = $5.24 – $2.80 catalina* = $2.44 EACH!!!!!
  • 3 Pure & Natural diapers – $9.99 – (2) $1.50/1 Q (x2) and (1) $3.00/1 Q = $6.99 – $0.75 CGM rebate = $6.24 each – $2.80 = $3.44 EACH!!!!!
  • 1 Huggies shampoo – 3/$10 – $1/1Q = $1.34 each

**AND because I bought $50 of participating products, I got a $14 ONYO catalina for K-Mart ($14/5 pkg of diapers = $2.80 each)

I also bought some Bordeaux’s Butt-Paste b/c DD has been getting diaper rash lately and Desitin’s causes her major pain!

Total Regular Price – $65.28

Total Sale Price – $61.83

Less Coupons – $11.00

Less Doubled Coupons – $8.00

Total OOP – $42.83

Less Catalina – $14.00

Total Trip Cost – $28.83

Savings – 56%!!

    June 10, 2009 Posted by | coupon craziness | , | 2 Comments

    AFM – Caldo de Res (Beef Soup)

    I didn’t take a photo because it’s a stew and I’m not a food photographer.   Even after I screwed it up (I boiled all the water out and caught it JUST before it started to burn — such is life with littles who need you!), it tasted phenominal!!

    You need:

    • 2 lbs beef shank with bone (my new FAVORITE ingredient!)
    • 2-3 red potatoes, cubed
    • 3 carrots chopped
    • 1 calabacita squash, chopped (similar to zucchini)
    • 1 lb frozen corn
    • 1/4 head of cabbage, chopped
    • 1 tomato, quartered
    • 2 cloves of garlic
    • 6 tsp fresh cilantro
    • salt
    • water


    Boil water in medium pot with garlic and salt.   How much water, you ask?   However much you want, I guess.   We used a 4 qt dutch oven and filled it halfway (after I screwed up).    Maybe a little less…the veggies make the water level rise quite a bit.

    Cut the meat off the bone, into 1″ chunks and throw the meat and the bone(s) in the boiling water.   Cut all the veggies and set aside.

    When the meat is cooked, lower temp to medium and add the corn.  Let cook for 10 minutes.   Ad the potatoes, carrots, squash and tomato and let it cook for another 15 minutes.    Add the cabbage and let cook until potatoes and cabbage are tender.   Turn off heat and serve hot.

    Serves approximately 8 when using a normal sized dutch oven.

    Well, here is my first review on the food.  The tomatoes didn’t last a day after I brought them home.   By Sunday night (I picked up Sat. PM), they were furry.    So I used a can of diced tomatoes (undrained) and it worked fine.

    Also, the produce box proudly proclaims PRODUCE OF USA.  However, the items inside told a different story.   The Key Limes were a product of Mexico and the garlic was a product of China.   It must have come over from China to the US during the Ming Dynasty.    They were so old that most of the cloves were exposed and were very dry and brittle.   I didn’t even attempt to eat them and threw them straight in the compost pile–I bet they are so old, I couldn’t even grow garlic from them!    I used dried garlic instead.

    Also to note is how much I LOOOOOOVE beef shank w/bone.    The bone(s) — It required 2 packages to get 2 lbs of meat and so I got 3 bones (1 in one pkg and 2 in the other) — give SUCH a flavorful broth.   They were $2.97 a pound and well worth every penny.   You get fatty, flavorful, tender meat and yummy bone juices.    I will definately keep this cut of meat in my back pocket for beef based soups.

    Stay tuned for the key lime bonanza!    What would you do with 2 lbs of key limes?

    June 3, 2009 Posted by | Recipes | | Leave a comment