Monday, June 29, 2009

Where did she go?

I know, I know. Its been a few days. But I can explain myself, promise. Over the weekend I had 2 extra children and 1 potluck, 4 soccer games, and all my regular life to attend to. It was very crazy and hectic. I learned each day to pack more things to each game. 1 bag for things to keep the kids entertained, and 1 bag for snacks and water. Did I mention it was over 80 degree's each day? So yes, sunscreen was packed. So where did my blog fit into these days? Well as you saw, it didnt. If I wasnt packing for the soccer games, I was cleaning my house, cooking for 8, or sleeping. And on top of all this its allergy season. So I had to balance coffee with my allergy med's to keep awake. OOhhh this was a long weekend.... Im still recovering from it.

So I had to remember one thing. I am not super woman. I have to let some things just go. My blog and laundry were the first to go. This was a very hard thing for me to let go. I didnt want to let you guys down and I just do not like my laundry to get piled up. I think as a mother, we struggle with simple things like this. We feel like we need to prepare and get everything done. I guess even if it drags us down with it. Well I struggle with this and am determined to be more relaxed. Lets just see how this pans out. lol

So "Im Sorry!" and im back. I have lots of things that have been stored up in my brain that I want to write about, so get ready.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Pet Friendly Plants

In the past, Ive put in my garden only to feed my dog and not us. Its very aggravating when you work so hard at having a good garden and your dog comes along and eats all your profits.Well Ive grew wise. So I found some things that I can plant and my dog will not eat them. Spearmint, mint, lemon balm and lemon verbena are great herbs that you can grow for the beauty and to eat them. My dog wants nothing to do with these plants. lol. Although maybe it would be good, it would keep her breath smelling minty fresh. lol.
Also the light green plants you see are carrots. Yep, carrots can be grown and animals have no idea whats going on beneath the dirt. Potato's would also be a good thing to grow here, I just didn't have enough room.
I would suggest planting produce that grows under the soil or does not put off any smell. So remember this when you are planting. I moved into this house with all flower beds already here so I didn't have a choice where these beds were put. So I didn't have a unused flower bed, I got creative.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Frugal Gardening Progress

I didn't have any more room in my raised garden beds so I ended up just making dirt piles along my newly built fence my husband put up for me. Wasn't sure how this would all work out so I just went for it. Turns out, the plants love it. The row of green is cucumbers and in the corner are a few herbs. Behind the both of those are pea's Ive planted and will grow up on the fence. I wanted to take advantage of every space I had in the garden.

One thing I found out was that bugs really love lettuce and broccoli. To be able to harvest any of my produce, I would have to plant certain things in certain places. I used my long tall raised bed to grow all my lettuce, spinach and broccoli. I used a net that I bought for $10 (gasp) to cover them all due to birds wanting to eat all my seeds. Plus keeps our kitty from doing her business there too. Well these plants thrive in here. Every night we go out and pick some for salads at dinner time. Or while I'm watering my garden, the girls will usually sit and pick a snack. The tall dark green plants are my spinach that is at the end of its life. I usually will just pull one plants and pick all the leaves off for salad. Plus I have broccoli in 2 different age's so I will have constant broccoli.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Frugal Gardening Progress *Pea's*

As you can see, the pea's are climbing my left over fence pretty well. When ever I water them, I usually manualy train them to go up it. I was skeptical about them actually growing up them but I was pleasantly surprised. Cant wait to see how tall they get.

Since I didnt have enough space for my pea's, I pretty much put them anywhere they could climb. In the small wooden plant box are beans that are only about 6 inches tall. Behind them I planted the pea's knowing they would be able to climb up the metal garden art. Well these pea's are doing great, especially since the beans didnt do so well so I had to yank them out. So the pea's are thriving now.
If you ever thought about growing pea's but didnt think you had the room, you would be surprised where you could put them. Some people plant them in front of their corn and the pea's grow up all over the corn. Try to use plants with each other, plant them near things they can grow up, and get creative.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Free Summer Family Activities Portland Metro Area

Looking for something to do with the kids? Dont have much money? Or none at all? Well here are some idea's for you. Plan ahead, pack a lunch to save even more money.

earning Experiences


This may seem obvious, but playgrounds are a great place to spend a summer afternoon. But you need to branch out beyond your neighborhood. Try exploring a different playground every week.

  • Washington Park near the International Rose Test Garden
  • Ibach Park on SW Ibach Street in Tigard
  • Pirate-themed park off a pathway on NW Graf Streetin the Bethany section of Washington County .
  • And don’t forget to seek out a park with a water fountain on hot days like Jamison Park in the Pearl District, Salmon Street Springs in Downtown Portland and the Commons fountain in Tualatin, or a public pool.



With free entertainment, free story time and free passes, public libraries are a great place for families on a budget. At Washington and Clackamas County libraries, you can check out tickets to area attractions.


Passes available from Washington County libraries

Passes available from Clackamas County libraries

Summer Reading Programs


It can’t hurt to learn a little something over the summer, and many museums are full of Northwest history.


Sunday Parkways

Sunday Parkways are 7-8 mile "temporary parks" along city streets connecting neighborhoods and residents in North, Northeast and Southeast Portland. Streets are open to walking, bicycling, rolling and roller blading - without having to watch out for cars!

  • Dates - June 21 in North Portland, July 19 in Northeast Portland and August 16 in Southeast Portland / 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Great Outdoors

  • Oregon State Parks Camping Deal - From now through Sept. 30, you can camp at one of Oregon's 20 first-come, first served state parks during the week and get three nights for the price of two.
  • Visit a national park for free - Entrance fees will be waived at 147 national parks and monuments during three weekends this summer. The weekends are June 20-21, July 18-19 and August 15-16.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Green Review Seventh Generation Pads & Tampons

I have reviewed many of SG (also known as Seventh Generation) products in the past but I was luckily able to finally try out their feminine products this time. As you know, every ones menstrual cycle is different and I am not a expert. But I am woman, a mother of 4, and have had my menstrual period for many many years and Ive tried just about every brand out there. So take my words of advise and try them out for yourself to see how amazing they truly are.

SG Chlorine-Free Organic Cotton Applicator Tampons
Made from 100% certified organic cotton, whitened without chlorine, have no rayon, and is packaged in 100% recycled paper. They come in regular, super, and super plus absorbency in 16 count. Retail $4.99-$5.99.

Review: To be honest, they did their job. No difference at all from regular tampons. They did their job, and I was very happy about its performance. That being said, I would choose SG over any other brand. They are packaged in recycled packaging, and take the time to think of all these things for us. But I would like to add my personal opinion to this review. For me, having my menstrual period each month is agonizing. Each month no matter what I did, I would get cramps and be bloated. So each month I make no plans around that time. I am not comfortable, I'm usually in pain, and I just am not up to doing much. This time around, I was truly amazed. No cramps. Was this caused by all the chemicals used in making regular brand feminine products? I guess one will technically never know. But in my opinion, yes. It was so bad, I literally didn't use tampons because it would just hurt too much. Ive been using pads for many years now because I just couldn't bear going through more pain. So when I did this review, I was a little scared to use the tampons. But once I did use them, I was amazed. I felt normal, and didn't get any discomfort at all. No cramps, no nothing. Would I recommend these little amazing things? YES YES YES. Could I say it any louder? I wish I could. These are the best tampons and I will be using them from now on.
Chlorine Free Maxi Pads

SG ultra-thin pads are made of a combination of absorbent materials, polyolefins, adhesives, and a silicone-coated paper. The top layer is a non-woven polyolefin cover sheet. The absorbent materials consist of chlorine free wood pulp, chlorine free airlaid fabric, and Lysorb, an absorbent gel. Lysorb, also known as SNAP (super absorbent natural polymer), is a polysaccharide derived from wheat. Polysaccharides are complex sugars found in many natural substances, like the fibers of cotton, wood, and wheat.
Now you can get the absorbency and comfort you want in a maxi pad that’s chlorine-free. Features secure, no-slip adhesive and a soft, cloth-like cover for comfort.
Retail $4.99-$5.99

Review: Well to be honest, they again worked just like any other brand of pads. Which to me is just great. But the added bonus is that you are using a safer material for your body. I was a little thrown off by the plastic packaging and each pad was wrapped in a plastic type wrapping as well. I cannot find anything on the website about it being recycled or not. I dont want to assume it is, but SG has been a leader in recycled material packaging and I just don't think they would use toxic wrapping on their natural products. I am awaiting a email on this topic and will get back to you. Would I recommend these? You betcha. They worked very well and there was no leakage with normal use. So perfumes, dyes, or irritation from materials. I will keep you posted on what response I get from them.

I truly am a believer in SG products. They are a top leading company in this green movement and have been for years now. I use their products on a daily basis in my home. From laundry soap, to surface cleaner, to even their toilet paper. You can find them on sale more than any other eco friendly brand out there and they have coupons for you to print out. If you don't have a printer, just email them and they will send them to you. I get a quick response to any email I send them. They have very fast and friendly staff just waiting for your emails. I cannot find a single negative aspect in this company. It is my all time favorite brand. So to SG and all those SG fans out there, keep up the good work!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Hmm never thought of that. 30 ways to save money

I'm sure you try your best to save money, and just when you cant think of any other way of doing it, there's more. Either a suggestion from a friend or family member, or your favorite blog knows some interesting ways. Well that's where I come in. Here are some ways you can save money that you didn't think of. Little gift from me to you!

1. Put off grocery shopping for a few days. Get creative and try to use what you have. I like to purge my freezer, pantry and shelves for things that I need to use, forgot I had, or put aside for later. Sometimes we get creative meals from this.

2. Pack your own food. Either for work, going to a zoo, going to the park, or going over to a family members house. Prepare and pack ahead. I do this every time I go do my errands. My twins smell any sort of food and they think they are hungry. lol. I pack nuts, dried fruits, bagels, juice or water. Sometimes just dry cereal. It satisfies their hunger till we get home. This will save on your wallet in so many ways. You might think " It's just $3 for a lunch from my favorite fast food place." But its $3 each day, $15 each week, or $60 per month. Brown bag it please!

3. Exercise wherever you want. Why pay for a gym membership that you might or might not have time for? Either way, your paying every month this huge bill. Try jogging while your children have sports practice. Or do crunches while the kids play at the park. Have small children? Use that jogger that's been collecting dust! That's what I did. Now that they are too big for it, I'm switching day care with my neighbor and I can jog by myself now. Buy or borrow equipment. I have a large ball and a dvd to do yoga. Ask your friends if they would like to swap sometimes. There are ways around everything. Just get creative.

4. Start a garden. As friends or family if they have any extra seeds or plants they want to get rid of. If you have a garden, start trading with friends. This week alone I received 5 tomato plants and some radish to plant in my garden. In return I gave them spinach that I had to use up from my garden. Have potato's that you didn't use and started growing? Plant those. Same with garlic. Again get creative! Buy seeds after the season for cheap and use them for next year. Get free seeds on the web ( keep reading my blog!). Invest a tiny bit and you will get a plant that gives and gives a ton of food for your family. Guess what? You don't pay to transport them and you don't eat all those chemicals they spray on them to keep bugs away. Win win!

5. Barter your life away. Have a friend who works at a salon? How about babysitting in return for them to cut your hair. Get creative with your friends and family. You can get some good stuff this way.Yesterday I was able to get a wagon from my neighbor. I had given her a bunch of my twins clothing a few weeks ago. Today alone I was able to get a really cool rock fountain and 5 ferns for helping out my father in law. Yahoo! Just start talking to your friends and family and you might be surprised what you can get.

6. Get rid of your cell phone or maybe your land line. If you text a lot, get a unlimited plan and ditch your land line. Don't use your cell phone much, get rid of your plan and buy minutes. Use your land line and your cell for emergencies only. You can save yourself a bundle this way. We only use cell phones so we got rid of our land line. $50 a month saved this way.

7. Get rid of cable. Yep, I know we all dread it but you will survive without it. After a week or two, you will start to be okay. Promise! I couldn't believe how much TV we watched because we payed for it and were going to watch it. Now I don't feel the need to watch TV at all. Instead I find other things to do. Plus I keep my $50 each month in my account.

8. Be vehicle aware. Do you really need that many cars? Think about your cars. How many people in your family. Which gets the best gas mileage? Which has cheaper parts? Think about all these things. We have 3 vehicles. I know, I'm horrible. But here are my reasons. All of them are paid for. (whole other issue to talk about too) Our van, so we all can fit into it. We are a family of 6 and are not fans of mini vans. We have a euro van. It only gets around 22 miles to the gallon, but runs perfectly and we can all fit into it. Rarely do we drive it. Our car. It gets 35 in town, 49 highway miles per gallon. You see why we have it? I drive this mostly when and if I drive. I walk as much as possible so we rarely have to get gas. Our truck. Used rarely if ever and only used to haul things. We pay insurance on all 3. We thought it over and decided to sell the truck. Once we sell it, were getting a trailer to haul stuff. Guess what? We don't have to insure it! Saving us money each month. See what I mean? rethink your vehicles.

9. Keep on budget. Nuff said? Don't spend money you didn't plan on spending.

10. Think vegetarian. Did you know you can survive without meat? Crazy thought huh? I bet no one would even notice the meat was missing. Last night we ate homemade whole wheat pancakes, eggs, and salad(all from our garden). No one said a thing. And they were completely filled and didn't starve. We eat 4 out of 7 meals each week vegetarian. This has saved us over $100 each year. Just remember to eat protein filled meals. Sub with beans and things like that. Buy in bulk, soak, and cook them. Then freeze them for later. This will save you money.

11. Nothing new. Don't buy anything new anymore unless its needed. Obviously under garments and things like that have to be bought new. But everything else try to buy 2ND hand. Garage sales, thrift shops, or things given to you by friends and family. You just keep a list of things you are on the hunt for, and keep measurements of everyone in your family. This will save you hundreds each year. Ive been doing this this year and have saved a bundle already. I grew up in thrift stores so I have no issues with this rule. If you have never had anything 2ND hand, you might have some issues. Just think about this. Everything can be washed. It can be cleaned. It can be dry cleaned. You will live if you do this. Just think how many things you will save from going to the landfill. This alone should get you inspired to try 2ND hand.

12. Samples freebies giveaways. All these things can save you money. Why buy travel size things for a trip your gonna take? Use up your freebies. Use free sanitary girl items for your purse. Use freebie med's to make a emergency box for camping. Sample size deodorant perfect for your kids. These samples really do add up. So yes get those freebies or sign up for those samples. You might not need them now, but you will eventually. I have yet had to buy any toothpaste, deodorant, or lotion. Ive received so many samples that I wont have to buy them for years.

13. Yard Chemicals. Stop buying them. They are expensive and toxic. You do not want your children being exposed to them right? Pull weeds by hand. Put the kids to work.

14. Gas powered is so yesterday. Push mowers are in again! Yep, we gave our gas powered lawn mower to friends and bought a Scotts push mower. Not only will this save us money by not having to buy gas for it, but it is better for the earth. Your yard will start looking much greener because your grass clippings fall into the grass and become mulch. You can find these push mowers at thrift stores, I did 1 day after buying mine new. UURR. Go figure. So add that to your list for 2ND hand things. They have edgers, and many many more things that are man powered. Do your earth some good and start going old school.

15. Line dry your clothes. Why pay electricity to dry them when the good old friend of ours is outside ready to dry them for you. We save $20 each month by doing this. Either buy a fold able one, or go to the dollar store and get line and wooden clips to make your own. I just love the smell of my clothes when they are air dried.

16. Ban air sprays, plug In's, and gels. You know , those things that faux spray your smells away. Good old candles do a way better job of this. Either make your own, buy them on sale or clearance, or get them 2ND hand. I see them all the time in thrift stores. Candles get rid of smells so fast. If you need a smell to go away in the bathroom hint hint, light a match and blow it out. The smell will be gone. Promise! FYI-those popular brands that say those are natural sprays, are not natural. All synthetic oils. Just look on the back of the package for their 1-800 number and call them if you don't believe me.

17. Turn down the thermometer. Just turn it down 2 degree's and save yourself money. Do it a little each week until you get to a comfortable temp you all can live with. Invest (after Christmas is perfect time) in heating blankets or quilts. Quilts can be found 2ND hand anywhere. Or maybe afghans. My mother used to put one at the foot of the bed. She found that if her feet were warm, the rest of her was too. Feel a little cold? Put on socks and a sweatshirt. Maybe curl up with a blanket on the couch. Good excuse to cuddle with the hubby! Try drinking cocoa, hot tea or warm milk before bed. My kids love this one.

18. Unplug everything and keep everything off. Only plug it in if you are going to use it. Even when the item is turned off, its using a small amount of energy. Keep lights off during the day and only turn them on if you are in a room with no windows or its dark and there is no natural light. Its a big rule in our home. Only thing plugged in at our house is alarm clocks, washer dryer, and main house items. Drapes are opened during the day, windows are open to clean the air, and no lights are used. At night we close all windows and drapes to keep the heat in, and burn candles or use Energy efficient light bulb lamps.

19. Water usage. Limit shower time. Turn off the water when brushing your teeth. These are things we all know. Try installing a water saving faucet, and only wash a full load of dishes in your dishwasher. I hook my washer hose up to my laundry room sink. Its filling a bucket Ive put in the sink. I reuse this water to water my garden outside. I use plant based soap for my clothes and do not use softeners at all. There is nothing toxic in my clothing so there is no need to worry. Plus I use half of the recommended amount to save money as well. Water your garden at night so all the water you do use will not evaporate. Or maybe water in the early morning hours. Try sweeping your porch or drive way instead of hosing it down. Rethink your water usage.

20. Lay off the AC. Try opening up your windows early in the day and air your house out. Once the sun is out, close your windows and drapes. Also keep the doors shut as much as possible. Maybe get a small fan to get some air circulation. Wear thin cotton clothing and keep your hair up. Sometimes I let my girls wear their bathing suits in the bathtub with cold water. I let them each dip into it and get cooled down. Sometimes I add a drop of two of blue food coloring to give the added effect of a pool. They just love this.

21. One mans junk is another mans treasure. Ever pass a box or random item on the side of the road that has a huge "FREE" sign on it? Try stopping and checking it out. You might get some use from it. I found a dresser with missing knobs for free and brought it home. I painted it with some left over spray paint and its now where we keep our art supplies. My favorite thing I found for free was a old wooden trunk. Its now living at the end of my bed and holding our extra quilts and blankets. I just love it. Most garage sales or even thrift stores have a free box. Remember to check those out too. I have found so many Tupperware lids, and candles this way. You just never know what your gonna find. Tell your friends and family that if they ever give anything away, let you know. Same goes for you, let your friends and family know if you are getting rid of something. I rarely have to give anything to goodwill, its always given a new home with someone.

22. STOP USING Z plastic BAGS. You know that brand that starts with a Z and ends with a bag. The plastic zip bags that everyone buys. Wash the ones you own and reuse them as much as possible. I was buying over 1,300 bags just for my children's lunches alone each year. I was sick to my stomach when I figured that out. I am still using Z bags I bought a long time ago that Ive been washing over and over again. If you do need them, buy the heavy freezer bags. They last longer. Try using Tupperware to freeze things in, or maybe freezer paper. It can be recycled. Do not use wax paper of any sort, it cannot be recycled. You can now buy recycled aluminum foil so use that and remember to recycle it again. Try canning stuff. Maybe borrow a dehydrator. I'm on the hunt for glass bowls with lids to use for our left overs to put in the fridge. I feel so good about not buying these little bags anymore. No more filling our landfills or killing animals in the wild for my convenience. Plus it saves me a bundle of money. You can now find earth friendly fabric bags to replace those z bags. Try . One small investment will replace those unsightly plastic ones. You can wash them over and over again.

23. Stay home. If you do not go anywhere, usually you don't spend money. Enough said?

24. Pay your bills on time. Don't get late charges. Enough said?

25. Pay in cash as much as possible. When you have your actual money in your hand, you are less willing to hand it over.

26. Stop eating out or drinking out. Eat homemade meals and make your own coffee.

27. Rent movies not go to them. Lets do the math. $20 for a couple to see a movie at the theater. Plus $5 for that tiny popcorn doused in oil, and another $5 for that small drink filled with sugar. That's $30. How about rent a movie from red box for $1, buy a 2 liter of Pepsi for $1.50, and make your own popcorn and control how much butter actually goes on it for about $1. That's $3.50 compared to the $30 if you want to the theater. Hmmmm let me think about which one sounds better? Think about it.

28. Make your own cleaners. If you look at my yesterdays blog, you will find a few easy recipe's for some good cleaners.

29. Buy in bulk. Be smart about it, not all stores are a good value in their bulk section. Big stores like Winco have a huge selection of items you can buy in bulk for super cheap. If you are not sure if its a good deal, check both items. 1 lb of whole wheat noodles in the bulk section or $1.49 for 10 oz of a prepackaged noodle of the same kind. Hmm. I think I'm taking the $1 per lb. Always keep a tally of things you always buy and how much they are in the bulk section. You never know when you are gonna find a marked down item, or super sale on something you always buy. You will always be prepared. If its prepackaged, your probably gonna spend more money on it. I rarely buy prepackaged anything.

30. Have fun and get creative. Try to rethink your way of thinking. Try to come up with more ways to save money. Every little tiny bit can add up to big savings. My husband said line drying my clothing wouldn't save us much money. Guess how much I saved us in just 2 weeks of hanging our clothes on the line? $10. That's $20 a month. Uh huh! I told you so! I hope Ive inspired you.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Homemade Goodness *cleaners*

Ever thought about just making your own cleaners? Well its easier than it looks. Here is some alternatives for you to try out.

-Instead of chemical cleaners, use soap and water, baking soda or lemon juice.

-Use either of the following mixtures in a spray bottle.
*Dissolve 4 tbsp baking soda in 1 quart of warm water.
*Use a mixture of 1/2 cup vinegar and 1 cup to 1 quart of water.

-Mix vinegar and salt together for a good surface strength.

-For an abrasive cleaner, use baking soda or a non-chlorinated scouring powder.

-To clean floors try the following.
*Use a damp mop on linoleum for day to day cleaning.
*Vinyle floors, use 1/2 cup white vinegar with 1 gallon of water.
*Wood floors use a damp mop with mild vegetable oil soap.
*Black heel marks can be cleaned by rubbing with a paste of baking soda and water.
*Crayola may be removed by rubbing with toothpaste and a damp cloth. Do not use on porous surfaces.

-To disinfect try the following
*Rubbing alcohol is a disinfectant, but be careful. Its toxic when digested and is flamable. Only use in a well vintilated room, try opening up the windows. Do not use anywhere near a ignition. Wear nitrile gloves and apply to the surface with a sponge and let dry completely.
*For bathrooms and kitchens, spray the surface with distilled vinegar, thenspray with 3% hydrogen peroxide solution and wipe clean.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Emergency Pantry to save you money

Over the years we have had our ups and downs just like everyone else has. Money gets tight towards the end of the month, unexpected bills, paying off credit cards, or just trying to save where we could.  
My food budget is usually the first to be impacted. For example:I took a girls trip away with my best friend last month. Only way I would of been able to go is if I paid my own way. Well I dont work and the only money I am in contact with is my food budget. My husband is in charge of all other bills and living expenses. So all month ( he gets paid once a month) I pinched and used what we had. And guess how much I spend for a month of groceries for a family of 6? Only $300.  We were not deprived, we didnt go without, and my kids didnt even notice. Yes, we came out fine. 

How you might ask? Well I stuck to my plan. I only bought what we needed. I used what we had. I kept an eye out for free with coupons items, and didnt go into any stores if I didnt need to.  Here is what I need on hand to get by and save money.  All or most of these items are bought in bulk or are a store brand. If any are name brand, its due to me getting it out of the markdown sections because the can is dented or discontinued.
1. Whole Wheat Pastry Flour 
2. Baking soda
3. Baking powder
4. Salt
5. Yeast
6. Baking cocoa
7. Sugar
8. Flax Seed-used in anything we bake
9.  Brown Sugar
10. Whole Wheat Noodles (any type pick the cheapest)
11. Dried Fruit (cheapest.make sure no added sugar)-used for muffins or homemade trail mix
12. Nuts (roasted not fried. Low sodium if possible)-used in muffins or homemade trail mix
13. Small chocolate chips (if cheap...Try dark chocolate-less sugar)-used in muffins
14. Dried Beans (pinto is cheapest)-soak in water 1 day. Cooked in crockpot for a few hours then freeze for later use.
15. Canned whole tomato's (use potato masher to mash and use as sauce)
16. Frozen corn and pea's (taste fresh and usually cheaper)
17.  Meat (mark downs only or $1 or less per lb)
18. Tomato sauce
19. Saltine Crackers-used in school lunches. Make your own peanut butter/cracker sandwich
20. Seasonal fruit (less than $1 per lb or banana's 59 cents per lb)
21. Milk-can be frozen if you buy markdowns for cheap.
22. Eggs-can be frozen
23. Butter (Buy on sale for $1 or less and freeze them)
24. Brown Rice(which ever is cheapest)
25. Spices-chili powder,cumin,etc.
26. Cereal (freebies or bought for $1 or less)
27. Cheese (used only when needed..not as a snack)
28. Whole Wheat Bread
29. Ground Coffee (do not buy from any coffee stands. Make your own)
30. Crystal Light type drinks (Cheaper than real juice and no sugar!)
31. Seasonal Produce (if no good sales buy carrots, celery, onion and potato's)
32. Corn Meal
33. Olive Oil (used spairingly)
34. Vegetable Oil (for baking)
35.Natural  Apple Sauce no sugar added (sugar substitute when baking)

All items are changable. If I find something for cheaper somewhere else, thats where I get it. No particular brand, we eat whatever brand is cheapest. We always buy bulk over prepackaged. Its 100% of the time cheaper. If I come accross a major sale, I buy a lot and freeze or put in the pantry for later use. We plan our meals around seasonal sales and what is in our garden. I try recipes with no egg if im out of egg, and try to get by without going to the store. For snacks I make muffins or healthy treats. Whole wheat keeps you full longer so it balances out the fact that its usually 10 cents more than regular noodles. When baking I cut out 50% of the sugar needed with apple suace. Make your meals 50% vegetarian and you will save a ton of money. Replace with beans and you will get your regular protein.   Get creative and try new things. Dont keep making the same meals or your family will get bored. Keep trying new things. Get the kids involved and let them help you make dinner. This will get them to eat the actual food and get creative along with you. 
Keep this up and you will be saving a ton of money. When you need to go to the store, go through and inspect what you have and need. This way you dont buy what you already have. A full pantry is a full belly. 

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Organized Overstock

This is my closet. To be exact, its my overstock. I call it this by habit, too many years in the retail business. I try to keep all my deals and freebies all organized so when we need something in particular, I can say yes I have it and its in this basket. I try to keep extra of everything on hand. When I'm out and about and I find a good deal or get something for free, I get it. Even though we do not need it at the time, I still get it. Why pay more when I need it then, when I can pay less when we don't need it. This rule is good for food and everyday needs. 
In this picture is my cleaners, razors, deodorant, hair samples, and soap. The deodorants are small sized samples mostly which are perfect for my daughters. They are small and if their younger sisters get into them and we have to throw them out, I'm out nothing.  The soaps are mostly free ones  my husband has acquired from
 his hotels when he travels for work. He takes everything home for us. I have not bought soap in years. The hair samples I use when my hair starts to feel dry. I just go in and pick what I want for a hair uplift. 
One basket I have is for vitamins and medicines. And the other small one is for my samples of those items. We use those when we travel or keep in the car or purse. I have a basket just for lotion and body soap samples. I get so many of them that I need a large basket just for them. I use the small lotion samples for my purse or car. The body soap samples we use for regular soap. I keep one in each bathroom to use as hand soap. Sometimes I put the soap in my Pampered Chef foam soap dispenser to make the soap go longer. 
I keep this stuff all organized so I always know whats in there and if I need anything. Its nice to go in there and be able to grab what I need without having to dig around to find anything.  I never refuse a sample of anything because it can always be used in our house. Even though its a small container, it can be used. I literally have not had to buy any soap, toothpaste or deodorant in a long long time. We just use the samples we get. We don't have a preference in brands for anything in our home and adapt to what ever we get. This alone has saved us a ton of money. Whats really nice is if I need to throw together a get well basket or a pampering basket for a friend, all I need to do is go shopping in my very own closet. 
What does your overstock look like? You don't have one? Start keeping box's or baskets, clear out an area just for this, and start getting organized. 

Saturday, June 6, 2009

My line dry test

About two weeks ago I challenged myself to not use my dryer. I was hesitant because I do a ton of laundry. Washing clothing for 2 adults, 2 older girls, and 2 younger girls who change their clothes about 3 times a day. I really do not have a large line to dry my clothes on but I do have a fold able one if I really needed it. 
So off I went. Washed my clothes in my energy efficient washer, and then out to the line I went. At first  I wouldn't even think of line drying my jeans. They get a bit scratchy and I didn't think my children would like that. Guess what? They didn't even notice. lol. So I went in it for the long haul. Socks, undies, and everything went out. We went through a great warm weather spurt for about 2 weeks. It was really nice. I was able to get about 2-3 loads a day without being home all day. I loved hanging the clothes and listening to the birds and squirrels chirp at me. Then when I took them down, the smelt so good.  My towels are crispy, perfect for exfoliating your skin and felt so good. 
So was it worth it? You betcha! I was able to get in the yard and relax. My 15 minutes hanging and bringing down the clothes was very theraputic. It was quiet, my kids were not yelling, and it was nice and warm outside. Plus I was able to keep an eye out on my children while they played. 

And you would not believe the reaction my husband gave me. He actually said he was wrong about it and it knocked $10 off our electric bill. Crazy huh! Imagine if I did this all month. This has really made me start to think. From now on I will be line drying all my clothes any day its an option. If I can save us $10 in two weeks, how much can I save this summer? This is my new challenge for myself.  How about it? Want to try out this challenge?  Not sure how to start?

Go to your local Dollar Store and buy 1 pack of clothes line and 1 pack of wooden pins. Just use nails on your fence and string along the clothes line any way you want. Done. $2 dollar investment is all it takes.  Keep an eye out for the foldable ones at yard sales. You often can find wooden ones, which are the best and last for many many years. Or if you have a handy husband, have him design you one made from post. They are worth every penny. 

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Homemade Goodness *Automatic Dishwasher Soap*

Yep, its true. You can make your own automatic dishwasher soap. Who would of thought. I started making my own a year ago and havent looked back. If I can get earth friendly detergent on a super good deal, I will pick them up. But its pretty cheap to make your own. 

1 cup Borax
1 cup of Washing Soda

Mix and put in a air tight container with a lid. Use 1 tbsp per load. 

You can find both these at most Abertson's, but I found mine at Winco. They usually are about $2.00 each. Remember, you only need 1 cup of each so this stuff goes forever. You can also use this to make your own laundry soap (look in previous post). This stuff is great. Works better than store bought kinds and doesnt have any harsh smells. Nothing at all to be exact.