Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Frugal ways to beat the heat

Here in Oregon its just plain HOT! Yesterday we hit 106 degree's and today should be even hotter. Over the last few days we've done a couple of things to keep it cool in our home. We do have central AC but don't want our bill to be crazy high so we use it only when needed. Here are a few ways you can beat the heat and not have to spend extra money.

1. Shut all vents except in the main living area. Ours in our living room/kitchen area.
2. Shut all doors and keep them shut.
3. Put a towel in front of each door to keep heat from coming under the door and into your other area.
4. Hang dark blankets on windows if you don't have blinds. Hang them even if you do have them, the more cover the better.
5. If you have a vent near a window or sliding door, make sure you lay a piece of wood or maybe a broom on the bottom of the curtain, keeping the drapes away from the vent. This way the cool air doesn't go up the window/door and get hot.
6. If you own a fireplace, try to cover the opening with a piece of wood or something long enough to cover it. In our home its 2 large pieces of artwork with a blanket over it. The bricks on our fireplace get so hot, they let heat into our home.
7. Do not use your oven or stove. Eat snack food that you do not have to cook. Maybe use microwave, toaster, rice cooker. etc.
8. Open your fridge only when really needed. Same for freezer. This will save you energy. Plus if you power goes out, it will keep stuff colder longer until it comes back on. (Ours went out last night for a few hours)
9. Sleep in your main living area. We have slept in our living room together for 2 nights now. Its much more comfortable. Pillows and sheets are only needed. Plus its family time!
10. Do not use your dryer. I hang all my clothes outside. Take advantage of the heat and save some on your energy bill. I do this regularly and it saves me about $10-$20 a month off our electric bill. Our family of 6 does a lot of laundry.
11. Take a cold bath. Let the kids wear their bathing suits, they will love this. I let them take a 20 minute bath before bedtime so they can relax and get some energy out.
12. Hang dark colored sheets on the outside of each window. Its not pretty but it keeps the heat from getting to your window, prevents the windows from heating up and letting heat in your home. We do this because we have not replaced our old windows for new ones. Saving up for that.
13. Keep a cool wash cloth for each person, and a bowl with water nearby. This way if the power goes out, you don't have to get up and get them wet again. This helped our children so much. Once we handed them one of those, they fell asleep right away.
14. Wear thin clothing or very little. Undies and tanks are all were wearing while home. My little ones wear just undies, it keeps them cool and comfy.
15. Try to stay home. The more you open your doors, the more heat will seep in your home.
16. If you own a garden, water each morning and evening. Once it cools down, water your garden. Do not water in the daytime, all that water you use up will just evaporate and some plants will even burn from the heat.
17. Early morning open up all windows and doors and let evening heat out. It will get fresh air in your home and cool it down. If at night its cooler and has a little wind, you can do the same. Once the sun comes up, shut up everything again.
18. Do dishes at night. If you have a timer, use it to your advantage. Not only is water rates cheaper later at night, you will not heat up your home this way. Same goes for laundry. If your not able to hang dry clothes, do laundry at night. Open up your laundry window to let hot air out. I will usually use my washer timer to wash a load during the night so when I get up, all I have to do is hang dry.
19. When its livable, we turn off the AC for the night. Since were all sleeping in the living room, we will keep a small fan running over all of us to get air circulation. Much cheaper than keeping the AC on all the time.

Things to do while cooped up in your home or need to get out
1. Craft time
2. Coloring books
3. Reading books
4. Game systems. We have the Wii that we use to battle each other. We play stuff like car races, Mario, etc and get family time at the same time.
5. Watch a movie
6. Play board games-switch with a neighbor when they get bored of their games. This way you don't have to go buy any.
7. Go to the store and take your time.
8. Go to the mall, usually have a play area
9. Public fountain
10. Play dates
11. Back yard pool -I fill mine once, each day take strainer out and remove grass or gunk. Should last a few days this way. You can add a 1/2 tsp bleach if you want to keep it clean but I choose not to, keep it toxic free.
12. Sprinkler time. We have no sprinkler system in our yard so 2 times a week we use the sprinkler to water our yard. This is perfect time for the kids to run in the sprinkler. Plus its in the evening and kids can get their energy out and go to bed easy.
13. Computer time

Remember, just because you have an AC doesn't mean you should keep it running 24/7. Not only is this a good idea for the power company and helps prevent black outs. But your saving money on your energy bill. Remember, there are lots of people who do not have AC and have to use just fan's. Children and the elderly need power to keep those fans running. Remember to check on any elderly people you know, they are more susceptible to this heat and some don't have family members near by. Maybe invite them to stay with you. Help out as many people as you can.
Remember to stay cool!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Garden Update

So my garden is in full swing. Currently (on the left) my yellow crook neck squash is giving me plenty for dinners. But you can only eat so much before you are just tired of them. Ive given my extra to all my neighbors or anyone who even looks at me. lol. I also just discovered that you can use them just like zucchini. So I shredded a few and put them in the freezer for later use in zucchini bread or in my favorite banana muffins. You don't taste them in them and they make the muffins so moist.
Just today I discovered my cantaloupe has started to grow. I will let you know if they actually ripen or not, Ive heard they are very hard to grow and most don't ripen. Until then....

On the left (if you can believe it) are my tomato plants a friend gave me. I believe there are only 4 plants there. Can you believe it? Crazy. My tomato's are finally starting to turn red and my kids are so excited. Thought about canning them but my children love them too much. Besides I cannot complain when my kids are munching on veggies from the garden.

Also in full swing are green beans and pea's. Every other day I go and pick all that are ready, clean them, blanch them, then lay on a cookie sheet in the freezer. Then I transfer into a freezer container for later use. This year no canning green beans, I'm going to see how this freezing thing goes. I have plants along the side of my house and in my garden. They look like a hedge and you would never know they were beans unless you dig in them. I take advantage of every part of my property.

In the very far back right hand side you can see my broccoli. Its finally starting to get crowns growing. I am waiting till they get larger till I pick them. Again, I will probably freeze them for later use. I'm so excited its finally growing. Seems like forever!

What you cannot see in the garden (squash has grown over them) is my cauliflower. Its very large and green. Still waiting to see if it actually grows and were able to eat it. Ive never grown it so we will see.

So anyways as you can see, there is always something ready to eat. I just love it. I love that my children can go out there and just pick what ever they want to eat.. If you have children who just will not eat veggies, I challenge you to start a garden. As stuff grows, and they help you water the garden, tell them all about the veggies and what vitamins are in them. My children think veggies make them super hero's and they have super strength. Cant get any better than that!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Have you used your doctor today?

Dr Bronner's Castile Soap
You know you have scene this little bottle before. Its sold in just about any store around you. Did you know you can get about 20 uses from this small bottle? Plus its super earth friendly. I just love this soap and I hope you will try it out. This usually retails for $4-$15 depending on which size you need. You can also buy it by the pound in New Seasons stores and many other health stores. Here's the low down on the many reasons why you should buy it.

Its made up of a combination of extra virgin coconut, olive, jojoba and hemp oils, together with pure essential oils.
*Completely biodegradable and vegetable based
*Made with certified fair trade and organic oils
*Multi purposes with 18 uses
*No synthetic foaming agents, thickeners or preservatives
*100% post consumer recycled (PCR) cylinder bottles and paper labels
*Simple ecological formulations based on old world quality and expertise
*#1 selling brand in North America
*Do not add chelating agents, dyes, whiteners or synthetic fragrances.
*3 times more concentrated than any other leading brands
*Comes in Liquid and bar soaps

The many uses of Dr Bronners Castile Soap
1. Foot soak. Put a couple of drops into a dishpan of hot water, then let your feet soak for a few minutes. Sit back and relax.

2. Wood Cleaner. Just a few drops in a spray bottle full of water. Spray wood and clean all that oily gunk off.

3. Artist, make up, or paint brushes. Few drops of this in a cup of warm water and let soak for 5 minutes.

4. Face wash. I would use about 1/2 -1 drop of soap for this. Perfect for those who have oily skin.

5. Cleaner or disinfectant. 3 parts water, 1 part vinegar, to a small squirt of of soap. Cleans everything.

6. Carpet or fabric stain remover. You can use your homemade cleaner for this one or just add a drop or two to the stain and then some water. Use fingers to work in. Gets just about everything out.

7. Bubble Bath. My #1 use! Just add a cupful to your running hot water. Enjoy!

8. Shaving lather. I would use this on your body only. I don't think it would work good for men.

9. Dish soap. Just add 1/2 cupful to your dish pan. Wash away!

10. Everyday counter cleaner. Add a couple of drops to a spray bottle filled with water. Use on counters, stoves, etc. You name it, it cleans it.

11. Massage oil. Not sure about this one but if I did use it like that, I would do it in the shower. This way you can wash it off your body when done.

12. Pest Spray. 1/4 oz to 1 qt of water. Peppermint works best. Pest do not like mint of any sort. Spray on any plant those pesky bugs keep eating.

13. Veggie Rinse. This gets off any spray or chemicals used on thick skinned veggies. Thin skin veggies or fruit absorb chemicals so best to get those organic.

14. Aftershave. Again...not sure about this one. You have luck with this one?

15. Pet shampoo. This makes any animal smell so good! I love this tip. Gets all that dirt and grime off your pets. Make sure not to get into eyes.

16. Laundry. 1/3-1/4 cupful per load. I love this one. My laundry comes out so clean and smells so good.

17. Toothpaste. The website says use 1-2 drops on your toothbrush. I don't think this will taste good but good option for when your camping or forget your regular toothpaste.

18. Shampoo. I think this works best on people with short hair. Gets all the oils out of your hair. Not at all what you want when you have longer hair. Again good for when your in a pinch.

19. Hand or body soap. I would dilute it down with water for hand soap. Use a loofah sponge with 1-2 drops for body wash. Squeaky clean!

20. Camping buddy. I would take this with you any time you are camping. This way you don't have to pack 20 different products.

Now all this said, what are you doing? You should writing this down and getting it for your home. Its truly the most amazing soap ive found.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Compare to save

I went to Whole Foods to get muffin paper cups (recycled non toxic) and couldn't believe my eyes. They want $3.49 per lb for whole wheat noodles. The next store I went to was Winco and they have the very same noodles for 99 cents per lb. Now why such a difference in price? I really pays to keep an eye on what cost what. I know what I can get for cheap in each store.
Those muffin papers for example. I can get those just about anywhere for about $1.99 and come with about 40-60 in each package. But Whole Foods are recycled and non toxic, have 60 in each, plus cost $1.49. Worth my time going there to get them. They also have corn based utensils for camping for only $1.12 each pack. I feel good about buying these because they are biodegradable and I can throw them away and feel good about it.
Every Tuesday we get a free paper with all our local stores flyer's in it. I look through each one very carefully and decide which store I'm going to get what I need from. If one store only has 1 good thing on sale that I need, I will pay the couple extra cents from a different store I was going to anyways. Not worth my gas money to save those extra pennies I would of saved. Same goes for coupons, I'm not driving to a store just for one good coupon. Unless its a super crazy sale, its not worth my gas money going there.
So remember to compare and keep note of how much things are usually and shop around that. Buy whats in season and plan meals around those items. This alone saves me a bundle each month.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Frugal Veggie Medley

I know this doesn't save you a bundle but it does help save you some change. Little by little this change add's up to big savings. I priced these 1lb bags of chopped onion and green pepper medley at Winco for $1.68. Buy 1 green pepper for 58 cents plus one onion at 28 cents. Now I only used half my onion so it was actually only 14 cents. My total is 72 cents. I like almost a dollar savings! How about you? Here's how you make your own.

You start with cutting out the seeds from the bell pepper and cutting your onion in half. Once done with that, just cut up into small pieces. Then spread your mixture onto a cookie sheet and into your freezer. Takes about 30 minutes to freeze. Take out of the freezer and the mixture should just crumble off easily with your hands. Put into a freezer safe container and put into your freezer.
This mixture is good for omelette's, sauteed vegetables, chili, or even into your favorite burger's. Lots of possibilities.
Remember, you can add any of your favorite veggies to your taste. I decided on this mixture because peppers are way cheap right now. I love the fresh taste it gives any meal I'm making. I also do this with items from my garden. Currently I'm picking green beans and snow pea's from my garden, blanching them in water, laying them on a cookie sheet to freeze, and putting in a freezer safe container for later use. Last year I canned and thought I would freeze them this year. When corn is in season, I'm going to try my hand at freezing my own. We will see how that goes.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Encourage and teach

Last night while I should of been sleeping, I was thinking about ways to encourage and teach others to be more earth friendly. I had spent the day with my mother running errands and just spending time with each other. I am a pretty nice person and do not like to push my idea's on anyone, but I do like to encourage who ever I can. When it comes to my mother, I can be pretty honest with her and she will even ask me questions about things I do and why I do them. Yes, sometimes I go to extremes with things in my own home and I think she sometimes wonders why. Well same goes for me. I try to understand why someone wouldn't want to be more earth friendly. I think its an age thing to be honest. My mom is over 50 (not gonna go there) and she is pretty much set in her ways. She likes things just the way they are. So when I try to encourage her, some times I get no where. But I still try. We went to a store and I asked the cashier to not put my items in a bag. My mother then bought some items and I swear the cashier put her items in a dozen bags. I almost fell over. (sorry mom!). But to be fair, my mom does use these bags for her small trash bags and are used for other things. But still......gasp.
Why do you keep doing it? Well I'm not sure. I think I'm just a passionate person. Once I get on something, I keep at it. If its something I truly believe in, I want to share it with everyone. I guess I just want to make a difference. Even if its something small, every bit helps especially when it comes to our earth. Think about it, all these people who say say "My not recycling is not going to make any difference", they all add up. Its like donating money. Yes, I only have change to donate. But my change, plus hundreds of others little bit of change, add up to a big donation. Even pennies add up. So when they say that its not gonna make a difference, its not true. Every single tiny bit of effort does help. It really does add up. I promise!

So if you don't want to make a big difference or think you don't have the time, try these simple things out.

-If you are buying just a handful of items, carry them and skip the plastic bags and skip paper too. Bring your own bag if you need to buy a lot.

-If there is a option to buy in bulk, do it. Less packaging means less waste.

-Skip the small thin plastic bags. Banana's don't need a bag, bell peppers don't need a bag. Think about it. You can wash your produce when you get home.

-Walk to the store and save on gas and don't put toxins in the air we breathe

-Stop spraying chemicals in your yard. There is plenty Eco friendly ways to stop weeds. Like picking them yourself.

-Use plant based soaps. Bars, cleaners, dish soap, and laundry soap.

-Buy local produce

-Don't liter

-Buy used items before buying new.

-Recycle everything

-Stop buying paper towels. Buy 1 pack of fabric ones and wash them after each use.

-Encourage and teach your children. Remember, children are like sponges. They will learn every little thing from their parents or siblings. You show them, they will follow.

I challenge you to be more green. Try to rethink your way of thinking. Its amazing how many ways you really can make a difference. My children amaze me everyday with new exciting ways to save money and be greener. We thrive off each other. I really do believe if you teach your children to be earth friendly, it will be with them forever. I will try my best to spread the message, and my children one day will hopefully spread the message more. I will never stop and will continue to teach people about being earth friendly. We only have one earth and there are no second chances. Think about it.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Aluminum Toxicity or a side of phthalates anyone?

I was putting some left overs away one night and ran out of plastic clear wrap. I just did not know what to do, leave it open and have the food dry out or throw it out. I would of never thrown it out, that is a huge money waster. I decided to put a plate over it to use as a lid. This really got me thinking. I had already stop using ziplock type bags and managed to beat that challenge. Well I decided to try a new challenge. Stop using clear plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Oh my goodness, am I crazy? Well I didn't think so at the time but now I'm starting to think I really am crazy. One would think this would of been a easy task.
Why do this? Well first of all it was going to save me some money. I'm all about saving money in any possible way so this was a no brainer. But we cannot forget about the environmental aspects of this challenge too. Certain types of plastics are made with chemicals that leach into your food. In general, the more flexible the plastic, the more likely it is to contain plasticizers called phthalates. Some are harmless but others are toxic and cause cancer. The FDA has not yet required labels on plastics but some (Clorox) are choosing to do so to keep us informed.
Read up about it here

Aluminum foil is another alternative for you to cover your food. A good thing is that its recyclable and you can now buy recycled aluminum foil. The bad thing is that you cannot microwave it. But something you might not know is that your body can absorb aluminum into your body. The digestive track, skin, and bodies tissues. Aluminum Toxicity is a real danger and you should read up a little bit about it. There is so much information about it that I just couldn't write a small paragraph about it.
Aluminum Toxicity

I'm still working through this challenge to this day. I have stopped buying clear wrap or using it all together. The stuff just freaks me out now. I recently bought some aluminum foil and will use it just until I get enough covered containers. But once that's done, its out with the aluminum foil too. We do not use anything to cover our food in the microwave, which has not been a issue because we rarely have any left overs and when we do I just recook the food. The part that has been the toughest is putting food in the fridge. Ive been able to find a few vintage Tupperware containers but not nearly enough. Ive been on the hunt for glassware with lids but that seems to be the hardest to find. I do not have the money to go buy brand new ones and really do not want to. I'd much rather go find some in 2nd hand stores or yard sales. I guess maybe save some from ending up in our landfills. I have found 1 item that is glass. Its literally that hard to find them.

So as you can see this is a up and running challenge still. I hope you get inspired by my findings and maybe start a challenge of your own. Sit down and calculate how many plastic wrap or aluminum foil packages you buy each year. The total will be your savings if you choose to take this challenge. But do not do this challenge strictly for the money saving aspect. Think about how much toxic chemicals you will keeping away from your family. We cannot keep all toxins away but we can try our best to keep as much away as possible.
If you need help with this challenge, feel free to email me. I am always willing to help out anyone. All questions welcomed.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Need to entertain the kids but have no money?

Over the years I have found many ways to keep my kids entertained with little or no money. Most of these idea's result in family time which is a good thing if you ask me. Now days our children are busy being being zombies with the cartoon box (tv) or playing games on some game system. I hope these idea's can help you out in a pinch.

Think local
1. Go for a walk. Pick a different way each time. Sometimes we go for walks and the kids determine which way we go. Its fun to walk around places we haven't seen in a while. We talk about what we like about each house, and try to find birds or cats.

2. School Grounds. Walk to your nearest school and let the kids play on the play structure. Maybe bring some fun things like balls, Frisbee's, or jump ropes. Sometimes we pack a picnic and make a couple of hours out of it. When my daughter has soccer practice at a school, I like to get my jogging time in. She practices and I get exercise.

3. Local parks. Now days most home neighborhoods are built with their own play structures for everyone to enjoy so look for those. Or just find your local park and go for a walk and let the kids play. We have 4 local parks so we can just take turns going to each one. Sometimes we meet up with friends and the kids can play while moms get some big people conversations.

4. Play dates. Maybe plan a play date with a neighbor or just meet up with friends at their homes. Maybe each person bring something to snack on but make it a rule that you have to use what you have. Kids can play while moms hang out.

Look around your home

5. Board Games. Remember those things you have stashed away? Yep, those are games and you can play them. Who would of thought? Pull those out and maybe each game night a person gets to pick what game to play. Pop some popcorn (hopefully you have a popcorn popper) get drinks and have fun at the table or on the floor.

6. Craft time. My girls love to go through the recycle bin and use stuff to create things. Ive accumulated lots of things over the years for them to have fun with. Buttons, pom poms, wooden craft sticks, etc. During the beginning of the school year there are tons of sales on glue's and anything else they would need for school. I just buy extra and the kids use them at home all year long. So remember this when you find a excellent deal.

7. Game systems. Yes even those are entertaining. We choose not to use ours often and encourage our kids to think of other things to play, but sometimes its just fun for the whole family. We have a Wii system (after much discussion about good/bads about it) and play games like bowling, tennis, boxing, etc. By the time were done playing, were all tired and want to go to bed. I recommend playing before bedtime, this way no chasing the kids around and the kids go to sleep right away.

8. Kitchen time. Let the kids help out when you are in the kitchen cooking. Let them add things, cut up things, and talk about the healthy benefits. My kids just love helping me do anything in the kitchen. Well except clean, still working on that one.

9. Movie time. Go through all your movies you own and pick a movie you haven't seen in a while. Pop some popcorn, get some blankets, and have the kids grab their favorite pillows. Just chill out and enjoy the movie.

10. Gardening. My girls love picking a good book to go out in the garden with me. They sit on a bench and just relax while I'm watering the garden. Sometimes they will help me pick weeds or even water for me. Get them involved and discuss all the stuff your growing. This is a great way to get the kids who do not like veggies to get excited about whats growing and will want to eat it more this way.

11. Cleaning. I have a child who just does not like to clean, no names please. Sometimes the whole family will go into their rooms and help them clean. Doesn't sound like much, but that child will love having you all in there helping them. It teaches them to help others and accept help at the same time. Its nice to find stuff we didn't know we still had, stuff they lost and maybe even rearrange their room or change it up a bit.

12. Play in your own back yard. Wow, what an idea. lol. Maybe play tag, or just watch the kids play. My kids love doing stuff and saying "Mom watch this!" or "Mom watch this!". I usually will do some yard work while I'm out there. They get mommy time, I get stuff done. Win win.

Have a little bit of money?

13. U Picks. Find a local farm and do a you pick. Kids fill up their tummies while you pick and this usually will take a few hours up of your time. It supports the local economy and its healthy for your family. Teach your children about why local is better and enjoy the scenery while your there.

14. Memberships. If you have a zoo membership, take advantage when your broke. Go during the non peek hours, pack your own lunch, and linger as long as you want at each animal. Maybe you have a local library, go there and let the kids read books. Our local library has a wonderful pond so we usually walk around it and look at the ducks. Think about what memberships you have and use them as much as possible. Have a friend with a membership? Maybe they can get you in for free. Have a friend who works somewhere they can get you in for free? Rethink who and what you know.

15. Remember it doesn't take money to have fun. And spend as much time with your kids while they are home. They will grow up and leave the nest eventually. Its sad but true so spend your time making good memories. Remember to take a lot of pictures!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

My latest ways of saving money

I'm busy. Lately it seems I'm too busy to even go grocery shopping anymore. I'm even too busy to use coupons, can you believe it? One would think you need coupons to save money but you really do not. How your wondering? Well here's how I've been doing it lately.

Buying local. There is this great produce stand on West Union and 185th in Hillsboro Oregon that has great local produce for super cheap. We just love going there and looking at all the great beautiful fruits and veggies. We buy what is in abundance because its usually cheaper. Mango's are 3/$1 so were eating those.

Farmers Markets. Sauvie Island has a great place that's called The Pumpkin Patch . If you need a few hours to get away, you need to go there. From their free animal barn that your children can see, to the fantastic market to get all your produce, or their amazing U Pick selection and prices. Its a great place to go. During the fall they have a corn maze for day or night, everyday their cafe is open to get a great cup of coffee, or pick up a gift at their gift shop. Buy candles, figurines, toys or old school small size candies like chicostick or nicco's. We just picked raspberries and blueberries to bring home and freeze for later use. Worth the gas money to go.

Winco bulk section. About once every two weeks I go stock up on my baking goods in their great low priced bulk section. From nuts, dried fruit, to flour or sugar. Its super cheap. Plus if I use my own bags, they pay me 6 cents per bag I use. What a deal! I just go through my pantry before I leave and make a list of what I need and how much. I also pick up their 5 dozen eggs for $3.88 and milk for $1.99. Such a deal.

Meat. We really do not eat much meat but the meat we do eat is markdowns or from family. Our local Safeway has an amazing markdown section. They are marked down 30% or 50%. Depending on what it is, I will pick up anything for less than $1 per lb. Yes you can find meat for less than one dollar per pound. Chicken, Pork and even Beef. I usually find whole chickens or small packs of pork but occasionally will find beef. Also my brother in law hunts so when I go visit my sister, she usually sends me home with interesting things. My recent visit brought home fish and ground deer meat. Free for me! I will bring any meat I get home and put it right in the freezer for later use. Luckily my two older daughters are vegetarians so our meat budget has shrunk 50%.

Backyard Garden. I have a garden in my back yard that is just starting to give us plenty of food. Green beans, lettuce, chives, and soon much more. So this will save us a ton of money. I planted everything I could get my hands on.My garden is about 100 sq ft and in a triangle size. Not really big but I make the most of my space. In this little space Ive planted the following:
Broccoli Tomato's (5 types)
Spinach Cantaloupe
Lettuce Cauliflower
Pea's Zucchini
Beans(5 kinds) Yellow Crook Neck Squash
Cucumber (3 types) Onions
Herbs (to many to list) Potato's
Leeks Strawberries
Blueberry Bush Huckleberry Bush

We've had really nice weather so I'm able to hang dry all our clothes in the warm sun saving on energy cost.

If we need anything non food, its bought at garage sales or thrift shops. Just today I found a few pairs of shoes for my middle daughter, a great desk chair for my oldest, a pair of amazing Nine West heels, and a few clothing items for only $15.

Recently we've given away our gas lawn mower and purchased a push mower. This is a $100 investment in our eyes. Never again will we have to buy gas for it and will no longer put toxic fumes into the air we breathe. We do not actively water our lawn but do when it looks like it needs it. When my girls want to play in the pool, we keep it up for 2 days. When its ready to empty, I use my watering can and use the water to water all our plants in the backyard including my garden. I try to do it in the evenings and early mornings so the water will not evaporate and my plants dont get burned by the sun.
To entertain the family we will get free Redbox movies on Mondays, or watch them off the computer from sites like or From old school cartoons to recent tv shows, they have it all. I just pop popcorn in my old school popcorn popper I bought for $1.50 a couple of years ago. Way cheap! Soccer takes up 3 days a week so we also enjoy watching our daughters practice or play games. We walk whenever possible or ride bikes to save on gas. Boring but needed, we also help each other clean rooms. Kids do not like this one but they have no choice. lol. The girls like to do crafts at their craft area, recycle items and incorporate them into the crafts, or just go color in their color books. There is plenty to do that doesn't cost a cent.
To save on energy cost, we open up our windows in the early morning to get cool air in. Then during the day we close everything up. Sometimes we do have to use our air conditioner but I try to avoid it. During the day I try to keep curtians open to let in natural light and we do not turn on any light switches.

I go to the store maybe once a week to get groceries. This way it cuts back on gas money. I make our own snacks, or treats so that saves us money. We do not eat out and if we do its usually a grocery store and consist of fresh fruit, yogurt and a roll or bread item. Most the time I pack our own food and water. We try to live a sustainable lifestyle and keep it simple.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Whose eating my strawberries?

Now I know my children are not eating the strawberries. Hmmm im pretty sure my cat doesnt like them either. Only thing I can come up with are birds. Birds will eat just about anything they can get their beaks on. I have seen people put reflective plastic type paper on theirs and that seems to work. They have actual red strawberries growing. I have yet to see any of mine growing in weeks. I needed to get creative, its way too hot to go drive and get party supply reflective ribbon. Also its kind of expensive. So out came the aluminum foil. I simply cut strips of the aluminum paper and wrapped them around a few plants. One thing I like about this is that you can recycle them when you are done. Plus my aluminum foil is recycled anyways. I put strips on all my berry plants. In my neighborhood there are tons of birds around so I need to cover all bases around my home.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Homemade Goodness *Poor Girl Breakfast*

This recipe orginated from my grandmother and she made it for her kids growing up. My mother has been making this for my sister and I since I was little. When times were rough, my mother became very creative. Every little bit of food had to last and nothing went to waste. This is my all time favorite comfort food that I now make for my children. You can alter it however you fancy.

Poor Girl Breakfast

1-2 cups of left over rice (we use brown rice)
1-2 cups of milk (or make up your powdered milk with water)
1 tsp of sugar
1 shake of cinnamon
tid bit of butter

Take left over rice and put into a bowl with a tid bit of butter. Microwave for about 1 minute until very hot. Remember your adding cold milk and hot rice will turn the milk warm. Add 1 tsp of sugar and a shake of cinnamon. Mix well. Add milk till rice is covered. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

School Clothes for less

I know, I know. School does not start for another 2 months. But hear me out and I can save you a bundle. If you plan ahead, you could save some serious cash later. I promise! A few years ago I was on maternity leave and money was super tight. I was due to have my twins in a few months and needed to look for clothes for my daughter who was going into 1st grade. I was starting to freak out and stress about it which was not a good thing because I was carrying twins and needed to keep it easy the last few months. I came up with a plan and stuck to it till school started. In the past we were able to purchase a few new outfits, some shoe's, and all the needed supplies with no problem. We hit sales, and saved some money. So this time I really needed to get crafty and we did it. First you will need to make a list of all the kids shoe sizes, pants size's, shirt sizes, and take measurements of length, and waist. Keep this list on you at all times. As you find stuff on your list, check it off. This way you do not buy too much or not enough. Then stick to this list.

1. Let go of brand new idea's. You can find brand new or like new items in thrift stores all the time. Your kids do not care if they aren't brand new, as long as its something they are into and they like. Obviously you need to buy new undergarments and you can get them pretty cheap right before school starts. They will have super good sales on all this type of stuff. If their undergarments are in good working order, then there is no need to buy more. Other than that, everything else can be bought 2nd hand.

2. Yard Sales. If there is a yard sale in my neighborhood, I will usually stop by and check it out. I will not waste my gas to run around the town looking for that good deal but spend a ton on gas. Think local. If there isn't anything local, go with a friend and split gas. Talk to each other and make a plan before you hit the sales. This way you can both be on the hunt for each other and cover more grounds. Remember to buy a size larger than the current size your children wear. School wont start for 2 months and kids grow like weeds.

3. Thrift Shops. Shoe's will be one thing that's hard for you to find. If you like a certain brand of shoes but do not want to spend retail, thrift shops are your best friend. I find 95% of our shoes from thrift shops. I usually have my children with me so I can just try them out and just pack them away till school. You can find a lot of good deals in thrift shops so keep that in mind when you just cannot find what you are looking for in yard sales. Jackets, etc are usually harder to find.

4. WOM. Word of mouth is a very powerful tool. Email, facebook, myspace, phone call, etc . Let everyone you know, know you are wanting clothing for your kids. When ever my kids outgrow anything, I pass them all onto my friends, neighbors and family. I'm am just happy to get them out of our house to make room for clothing that they fit. This summer alone I received tons of clothes and shoes from my friends and family for free. So if you give, others will give. Its like the old saying. "Pat my back and I will pat yours". This is very important to me. I don't money to just give out but I will give anything I can. From either bringing a homeless person a meal, to giving our extra change to any donation box. I am a very giving person and it makes me feel really good to help others. And same goes for information. This is why I love my blog. I can help others save money with my experience's.

5. Clearance or markdowns. I do sometimes find good deals from retail stores. Not very often but it is possible. If im able to find a pair of shoes in a good brand for a good price, I will buy them. For example I was able to pick up a brand new pair of Converse for my daughter for only $6 at Target. Thats a crazy deal considering they are $29.99 new. Converse last forever and can be handed down through my children. Once good thing about having all girls. I will buy them a little big, that way they will be able to wear them longer. Sometimes you can find good deals on undergarments. You know, those people who open up packages (or should I say rip them open) and then the store has to tape them up and sell them at a cheaper price. I take advantage of that. You can get a 4-6ct package of undies for around $3. Thats half price. Im okay with that. Socks are also sold this way. So im always checking mark downs and clearance even if we dont need them right that second. Think ahead.

6. School supplies. Reuse items if possible. Rulers, markers, erasers, pencil holders, notebooks, and much much more last for a long time. Just reuse them. Glue sticks and stuff like that can be bought on sale. Make sure to check all sales flyers and shop the cheapest. My mother loves to buy school supplies (I think its a weird obsession lol) every year whether we need it or not. Most the time we need it so I just give her our list of things we need and she gets what she wants. Saves me money and the kids love it. The closer school gets, the cheaper the supplies get. Plus take advantage of these deals and stock up on craft supplies. We have a huge craft supply selection all year long because of me stocking up on them. We didnt need them then, but we use them now.

7. Web,, and even are great sites to find free clothes. Just sign up for free with all of these and keep checking back to see if any locals are giving away clothes. You can find anything on these sites but remember to keep your eye on school items. You can even just put up a post stating you are looking for kids clothes and list the sizes you need. People are very giving. Remember to use the site when you are giving away stuff.

8. Remember to get creative. Maybe barter for your stuff. Lets say your neighbor needs some help with their yard, let them know you will trade yard work for clothes. Get creative and help each other out.

Pass this on to all your friends or family. Or just remember that your little bit you need to give away could help out another family in need. So ask around and let people know you have some stuff to give away. Help others.