Friday, April 30, 2010

A peek into my room...You know you want to look!

My husband and I are very "resourceful" as some would call it. Over the almost 11 years we've been married, we have accumulated or revamped lots of things. Yes we could just easily go buy a bedroom set and go into debt doing it. But why? If I wanted a cookie cutter bedroom  I would go to our local furniture store. We really love things that have character. Things that you know you will not be able to find anywhere else. Its kinda describes us in a way. Very different.... In a good way of course!

Take for instance this bed. Looks just like a Pottery Barn bed but its not. My husband built that bed for me for a little over $100. I found a few beds that I liked and gave him some pictures and this is what he built for me. It's a queen size massive bed that I cannot wait to get into bed.

Just look how the front looks like a white picket fence. This week I painted the walls a beautiful soft color. No VOC paint cost me $34.99 from Home Depot. Worth every penny literally. I did not have to open any windows because there were no paint fumes.  This paint was nice and thick so it covered very well. I also bought a new bedding set for $89.99. This sounds like a lot of money but it actually isn't.  This was the least expensive adult bedroom set I found. It came with a king comforter and 2 king shams(king because the comforter is bigger and there will be no more fighting over the covers). No sheets, no valance, no pretty pillows and no bed skirt. That is why its was only $89.99. I actually went to Bed Bath and Beyond and the cheapest adult bedding set I found was $149 and it looked like a bedding set you would find on display at some furniture store. They were U G L Y. Best part was that I was able to just use my existing bed skirt from my last bedding set. It matched perfectly!

So the total for my bedroom makeover so far is $124.98. Yes I probably could of found a bedding set at a thrift store or could of waited until I found one online. I didn't want to wait and really could care if I found it on sale.  This year I wanted to spend a little extra money on our room because its where we go to get away. Our room has always been the last thing we do on any of our homes we have bought. This house will be our last home and we do not plan to move out ever. I want my room the way I want it. Relaxing and beautiful. Just don't pay attention to the sheet on our window. Next thing will be new curtain rods and curtains. For now this free alternative will have to work.

Whats next? Well I will show you things in our room and how we came across them or what we did to them. Stay tuned.....

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Weekend Project Free organic mulch part two

Saturday I decided to relocate my mint and lemon balm plants. Currently they were in this flower box in the above picture. I some how never realized while planting these last year that the wood to make this box was pressure treated with chemicals. This flower box was here when I moved into the home and I think I was just excited that I didn't have to build flower boxes because there were so many of them already made on our property. If I was not going to eat these herbs, I could of just left them where they were. I plan on using them for tea this fall so I had to relocate them somewhere. Yes this flower box is about 10 yrs old and maybe all the chemicals have all leached out but I didn't want to take the chances.
I recently cut down two shrubs turned into tree's right across from this flower bed and the area was blank. And it also had that ugly bark dust which I dislike! So I took off the top layer of bark dust and put it in our yard debris can. I dug several holes and put coffee grounds (from last year) into each hole for nutrients and then relocated each plant over to the new location. Then I covered the whole area with the new organic mulch I received the day before.  The flower bed will now be filled with flowers just as soon as I pick which ones I want. I have over a hundred seed packets I bought last year for pennies during the end of season sales. Here are the results

 The windows on the side of our home is our kitchen windows. I can't wait to grow flowers so I can see them out my window. The wood shed you see was build to my husband a couple of months ago from scratch. I just added a metal sun onto it which added a nice and final touch to it. Soon my grass will look way better than it does in this picture. I used our push mower this weekend for the first time in months so our grass was pretty thick.  That was such a task! Push mowers and thick grass do not go well together. Soon the grass will go back to normal and the grass clippings will give it nutrients which should help with keeping it low and green.
Total spending for this project=$0
To my local friends/family readers if you want any spearmint or peppermint I have some extra (top pic) if you want it. Just let me know and I can get it ready for you. If not I will have to relocate these somewhere else. Anyone know if it deters bugs? I heard they can help with bugs somehow but i'm worried they will take over my garden. Maybe pot them and put them in my garden? Any advise would be helpful!

Dont forget to head on over to my Facebook  for daily freebies.
Today learn how to turn your jeans into skinny jeans, make your own glass cleaner,  and much much more!
What are you waiting for ? Head on over to Surviving and thriving on pennies!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Weekend Project Free organic mulch

My next door neighbor has a beautiful garden which I always want to sneak a peek to get inspiration from. Her garden has wonderful little path's with mulch all over her yard so I asked her what it was and how much it cost. To my surprise she said her husband can get it free anytime for anyone. So this weekend this wonderful pile of organic mulch was dumped in front of our house. I was excited!
My weekend project was to use the mulch any way I could. So Friday I put our new wheel barrel to use and mulched away. When we bought our home it had fresh bark dust everywhere. It looked nice but I really have never been a fan of bark dust. I saw sliver hunting in my near future. And after a few months when the weather was really nice, flea's decided to infest our home. We tried everything we could to get rid of them naturally. Eventually we were eaten alive so bad that we had to get the heavy duty industrial strength toxic stuff. Well now the flea's are gone and warm weather is almost here again which makes me paranoid. This weekend I decided that I would cover up all that bark dust with this organic mulch. Since the organic mulch had a mixture of different wood branches and pine needles, it should deter any flea's and weeds.  And here is the end results
 Notice my home with its shwanky (is that even a word?) double doors. Yep its an original 1967 home with original just about everything. This really doesn't look like much work but I swear it took me all Friday to do this.  I think it took about 30 wheel barrel loads just to do the front yard alone. Soon I will be relocating my strawberries under this front pine tree because strawberries thrive off acidity soil.  Currently my strawberries are located under the two bedroom windows you see in the picture.  Strawberries are perfect for sidewalk garden area's because the sidewalk's contain them so they wont travel.  They have pretty little white flowers and are green all year round. Maybe you have an unsightly area near your sidewalk? I take strips of mylar (recycle a mylar balloon?) and tie them around my strawberry plants. Birds love strawberries and will eat every single on of them if you do not put something shiny down to scare them. They do not like anything shiny. I will be using green mylar this year to blend in with the plants.
What about you? Did you have any free updates on your yards or landscaping? Have any idea's? Share with everyone!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

How do you score? Mine was 24/25 Whahoo!

PlanetGreen has a great post today(thanks Beth for bringing this to my attention) that I had to compare with all of you. They came up with a list of 25 wasteful things you CAN live without. I thought I would score myself and see what you guys scored. Leave a comment with your score!
Here we go:

25 Wasteful Things You Can Live Without:

  1. Plastic wrap -- Instead, use a container with a lid. Check!
  2. Tin foil -- Use an oven-safe pot or dish with a lid. Check!
  3. Disposable cleaning cloths, dusters, etc. -- Use a microfiber cloth that can be washed. Check!
  4. Paper towels -- Use a tea towel, instead. Check!
  5. Disposable pens -- Buy a good pen that only needs the ink well changed. Ah poo! 
  6. Paper plates -- Washing dishes may be an effort, but it's worth it. Check!
  7. Plastic cutlery -- Use the metal stuff. Check!
  8. Disposable razors -- Invest in a razor that only needs the blades changed. Check!
  9. Packaged fruits and vegetables -- Produce does not need to be packaged. Check!
  10. Individually wrapped snacks -- Snacks travel better anyway in a hard container. Check! Although we have purchased them for when we a little poo!
  11. Juice boxes -- Put juice in a reusable container (not plastic). Check!
  12. Electric pencil sharpeners -- Use the hand-crank version of days gone by. Check!
  13. Disposable diapers -- Cloth diapers aren't that much more difficult to use. Check! My girls are older so no use for those.
  14. Disposable cloths -- Fabric cloths can be washed regularly to avoid bacterial or viral build-up. Check!
  15. Paper or plastic single-use grocery bags -- Get a few reusable bags. Check!
  16. Bottled water -- Install a water filter on your tap or pick up a water jug with a filter. Check!
  17. Non-rechargeable batteries -- Make the investment for rechargeable batteries and you'll save money in the long run. Check!
  18. Electric can openers -- Use a little muscle. Check!
  19. Single-serving pudding or yogurt cups -- Buy a large container of yogurt or make your own pudding, and send it in a reusable container. Check!
  20. Plastic cups -- Stick to reusable cups. Check!
  21. Disposable table cloths -- Spills are a reality of life; just clean them up as they happen. Check! We own fabric ones.
  22. Antibacterial wipes -- If you must, use a gel hand sanitizer. Check! We use good old soap bar's. 
  23. Facial tissues -- Unless you have a bad cold, a handkerchief will work just fine. Check!
  24. Paper billing -- Switch to e-billing for your bank statement, credit card bill, utility bill, etc.  Check! Anytime there is that option we choose it. 
  25. Plasticized sticky notes -- Use the original paper sticky notes; they can be recycled when you're done with them. Check! We do not use them so double check!  

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Stupid can't be fixed

I have been having a hard time keeping my fingers quiet (or mouth shut for that matter) when it comes to ridicules or just plain stupid things. You can thank my mother for this great post title. Its a great quote she has said over the years.   I try to be the good guy and just keep my thoughts to myself but realize that I have the right to speak my opinion good or bad.  So enjoy my little list of current frustrations and give me some of your thoughts about them. Maybe i'm no the only one thinking it?

1. Kleenex 
Are you fricking kidding me? How lazy can we be! Is it that hard to use a cotton towel and throw it in the laundry when dirty?  "A clean fresh towel every time" is what they claim on Kleenex website.  Yes you can achieve this too if you JUST WASH THE TOWEL!  That aside how about the tree's being harvested for your products? Where does your wood pulp come from? You will be unhappy to know that it comes from some U.S places but also Australia, Canada and Brazil.  How about just U.S. and save yourself some money and lighten your carbon footprint? Oh and get this, "We will not knowingly use wood fiber from illegally harvested timber or forest areas requiring protection, such as primary tropical rainforests and any areas protected by government authorities." So does this mean your not checking all your sources?  If you would like to read more about their fiber procurement read here. I just have one thing to say about this product, "Seriously, are we that lazy that we forget about the cost the earth will take for using these products?" WTH!

2.  Coupons=free isn't always good.  I know I will be getting a ton of hate mail but I really don't care at this point.  Coupons can be a good thing if you use them right. Now days you can find coupons for organic and fair trade products pretty easy. The green movement has got all these companies attention and now greenies like myself can start saving money too. I am all about saving money but more importantly my families health and our carbon foot print is most important to us. I shop from about 4 stores all of which are within 5 miles from me. Winco I go to once a month and its the farthest from us. The other 3 are within walking distance (1-2 miles). I do not get the paper or buy coupons from anyone. The only time I get coupons is when they are sent to me by the company  (newsletters), they come in the FoodDay paper which comes once a week, or they come with freebies that I rarely sign up for.  Since I do not buy prepackaged anything, single use anything, or preservative filled food there is no need for me to pay to get coupons.
Now for the hate mail part.  I think the coupons are being abused. Yes I said it! Until recently only unhealthy, prepackaged, sugar filled, preservative filled and just plain horrible food companies were giving out coupons. Stores have different coupon policies so eventually you would be driving to several stores just to get things for cheap or free. Is it worth is? To me no its not. I waste my whole day going shopping just to save money when i'm actually spending that saved money on gas. You also have to remember the hassle it takes with using coupons. There are some good stores who enjoy coupons but not many. Most the time the register person gets annoyed, the cash register doesn't ring up your order right, you have to be watching closely, tell them when it didn't ring up right, they get annoyed, they call a manager, etc. You get my drift. Companies give out coupons for a reason. They want you to buy their product. With the green movement here and our eyes open wide to their practices, there are even better coupons coming out of the woods. The companies are afraid were not gonna buy their product so they throw coupons our way like a fishing line with a coupon hook. And you fall for it each time!
So is it really worth it? To me personally, no. I use coupons for companies who have green practices. Usually just for Seventh Generation products or Wholesome Sweeteners products. Thats it. If I request a freebie it has to be something I know I will use. I don't sign up for every single freebie that comes my way. I enjoy my no clutter closet.  I get my big shopping done once a month (we get paid once a month). Then I only go to the store if I need something which is usually about once a week to get fresh organic milk from Whole Foods. If im in the area and a store has produce for cheap, I will stop by.  Saves me time, gas and the planet thanks me!

3. Litter bugs This one really gets me. We went on a family hike on Saturday this last weekend. It was such a beautiful day and really was the perfect temperature for the hike. My husband said hold on and lightly walked right off the trail next to  a tiny stream.We couldn't believe what we saw. Garbage in the tiny stream up and in the mountain. He wanted to set an example for our kids. Don't just say it but take action and do it.  You would think that people would enjoy the beauty and want to keep it beautiful by not littering.  We humans are the laziest selfish people at times.  I had to take a picture because I was so proud of my husband who is slowly turning extreme green. Not literally but you know what I mean.  We packed a zero waste lunch with us and enjoyed our lunch in the natural beauty of this place. There was 2 huge waterfalls and several small streams that were a beautiful song in the back ground.  Birds sang thank you songs in the tree's while we ate. Well I imagine they did.  They see enough litter bugs that they are thankful when they find someone who is compassionate.

So what do you think? What are your thoughts on coupons? What do you do about litter? How do you deal with it? Speak up and enjoy the hate mail with me!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Share Verb-to use, participate in, enjoy, receive.

I have several blogs that I read each day and I thought I would share them with you. You can participate with them or just enjoy them. But do receive them into your life! And by that I mean add them to your Google reader!

Citizen Green is a blog written by a retired biology teacher.  Just like myself, she is slowly trying to reduce plastic in her life. I just love her post today about newspaper seed pots.

The Crunchy Chicken is one of my most favorite blogs. My favorite is her Challenges. Scroll all the way down on the right hand side and try out a  few of her challenges. From her "Freeze yer buns" challenge to "Buy nothing" challenge. There is something for everyone there. Don't forget she's on Facebook too!

The Green Phone Booth Where ordinary women become Eco-hero's! Sign me up!  This blog is written by a group of unmasked hero's.  Strong women who banned together to write this amazing blog.

Adventures of a frugal tree-hugger is another favorite. Her post are few and far between but I love each one of them. From her amazing menu's to handmade noodles. This blog will keep you inspired.

Best of mother earth is written by a single mother of 2. I love her clever idea's and beautiful pictures.

Make and takes is a great craft blog. I love all the adorable crafts this blog comes up with. My favorite this week is Cereal Box Robins.

Mrs.Green from My Zero Waste inspires me every day. Watch her heart filled video's while she struggles to better this earth. From her husband who tries to be green as possible to her little miss green who learns everything from her parents. While your there subscribe to the news feed too. This site is just amazing.

The Good Human Don't blow it....good planets are hard to find. This blog is busting at the seams with great info. This feeds the fact junkie part of me.

This should keep you busy for a while. Stay tuned for many more of my favorite blog's. My Google Reader is full of amazing blogs and of course I will share them all with you.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Less trash talk more trash action!

Do you find yourself having to jump on your trash can lid just to close it?  Have you even sneaked out at night to put it in a neighbors trash can? Oh you know you have!  Well it sounds like you need to reduce your trash now. You just need to get some new behaviors and I will show you just how easy it really is.

  1. Use a durable shopping bag Pledge to use durable bags for all future purchases, to collect your recyclables or whenever you need one.
  2. Avoid disposable items whenever possible;e.g (napkins, single-use cups, utensils, plates).
  3. Choose well-made, durable items that can be used again and again.  You will likely spend less over time for well-made items than replacing inferior, less durable goods more often.
  4. Use the blank sides of scrap paper for notes and list before recycling the paper.
  5. Buy in bulk fewer shopping trips, less packaging, more product, last longer.  Refill your own bag or containers instead of getting new ones each time you stop by the store.
  6. Get a reusable bottle and fill it with your clean tasty tap water.  Why buy bottles of water when your gonna throw the bottle away. Reuse your own water bottle and hey water is much cheaper when from your own faucet!
  7. Pack your lunch in reusable containers to reduce waste and save money.
  8. Look for less packaging, better yet-look for none!  Make sure packaging can be reused or recycled easily.  Or even better buy from the bulk section where there is no packaging!
  9. Buy handmade and locally-made/grown There is usually less packaging than products shipped from far away.  Cannot find anything local? Try Etsy for anything you want to buy handmade. I buy my crocheted sponges from here and LOVE THEM!
  10. Get a travel mug for your coffee and other beverages.  Coffee shops usually give a small discount for bringing your own. Remember...those fancy coffee drink disposable cups are lined with wax and cannot be recycled. You should tell them you DISLIKE this next time you stop in to get your favorite coffee. 
  11. Borrow books from the library or buy them used instead of purchasing them new. Look for a local bookstore so you can support them.  You can find books for cheap at yard sales too.  Better yet borrow books from friends or family! 
  12. Repair, refurbish, or recover home furnishings, appliances and electronics instead of throwing them away.  Donate reusable items no longer needed to a nonprofit or thrift store.
  13. Purchase quality used items (furniture, clothing, sports equipment, toys and books) at second-hand stores, garage sales and through classified ad's.  Sometimes things just need bolts tightened, a fresh coat of paint or can be turned into something different.  Get creative!
  14. Compost leaves and grass clippings in a home compost pile and use it to improve your garden or house plants. 

Saturday, April 17, 2010

How's your "Carbon Footprint?"

Carbon Footprint-noun. A measure of the impact of human activities on the environment, and in particular climate change.  It relates to the amount of greenhouse gases produced in our day-to-day lives through burning fossil fuels for electricity, heating and transportation, etc.

If you live in Oregon like I do then you need to try this carbon calculator. Today I received my spring/summer 2010 paper. I actually look forward to getting this because its packed with amazing information.  
If your curious about your household's habits and how they translate to a carbon footprint, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality's (DEQ) online Carbon Footprint Calculator can provide answers. If you do not live in Oregon you can still try this out. You can still compare yourself to other average households. Individuals and households enter information about transportation, housing and shopping activities and the tool calculates their carbon footprint.

Try it out here and see for yourself.  Answer a few questions about your family, transportation, housing, and shopping.  At the end of the little questionnaire it gives you a summary and helpful hints on how you can reduce your carbon footprint.  

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Frugal family day at the Oregon Zoo

My children had no school on Monday so it was off to the Oregon Zoo for us!  I was a beautiful day with just a bit of rain which stopped when we arrived at the zoo. No worries its Oregon and when you grow up in Oregon, this is normal.  I packed a waste free lunch into our trusty old red wagon and we headed off. Lucky for us the rain scared everyone away and there were only about 100 people in the entire zoo. Sweet!  Past trips to the zoo anger me because of all the crowds and crazy lines you had to wait in just to get into the crazy filled zoo. Each time we go to the zoo, this is where we eat. Not sure what its called but its a small pond with some beautiful bronze animal statue's by it. The pond has a small waterfall that is really quiet and nice steps to sit down and eat. Sometimes were lucky enough to have ducks wading in the water waiting for us to drop some food.

So how do you have a waste free lunch? Take a look at the picture and see. First of all I packed each girls lunch into our free lunch bags that Subway offers when you get a kids meal. Each bag had an animal on it which was perfect for our zoo trip. Each child has 2 fabric bags I bought from either New Seasons ( health food store) or Snack Taxi which is also sold in stores and Reusablebags. One is a perfect size for a sandwich and the other is a perfect snack size for crackers. Also each child had their own reusable water bottle. I packed apple slices in my old Tupperware and put everything into a free tote I was sent in the mail. Look how excited one of my twins on the right is about getting a bagel with cream cheese. Too funny.  So far our zoo trip was absolutely free! So far.....

But of course we had to stop in the zoo gift shop just to look at stuff. Yeah, just to look at stuff. 30 minutes later we come out with 4 stuffed animals and $18 gone out of my pocket. Actually that is not a bad price. With a zoo membership you get 20% off your purchase. Rarely do we ever buy anything from these shops because they are overpriced. But I was able to excuse this purchase because I know my girls will play the snot out of these stuffed animals. They are super soft and what child doesn't love a super fluffy stuffed animal? Exactly. Plus all profits go to the zoo and taking care of these beautiful animals. Win win in my book!

You can use this example for many places, not just the zoo. Have a zero waste meal anywhere. Hiking, the park, etc. Just give yourself 30 extra minutes before you leave to go anywhere and you can do this. Also remember to take any utensils you might need and fabric napkins too!

I also found some goodies for you today.  Its a great day full of freebies today!

Head on over to Surviving and thriving on pennies on Facebook and find these great deals:

Free Lever 2000 from Sams Club
Free Starbucks coffee today only!
Free Cascade action pacs
Free Tampax Tampons
Free Stayfree Pads
Free Vital Aid Drink

You will also find a great article by Healthy Child Healthy World about why you should avoid softeners and also how you can watch Food Inc soon!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

25 ways to save some green

Could you use some extra cash after the bills are paid?  Maybe you need to save up for a birthday or holiday? I'm sure you all can and even if you don't need anything, saving money is always a good thing. About every 6 months I try to come up with a good list of things you can do to save money. Lets see how many of you do these things or will do these things.

1.  Stop buying plastic sandwich bags/storage bags. For lunches use fabric sandwich bags. Now days you can find these in all natural stores. If not try online at reusablebagssnacktaxi, or look for them at Etsy.

2.  Stop buying aluminum foil. Start saving the stuff you have now and reuse it as many times as you can. Or try just using metal lids from pots. Its going on 2 years since I have purchased any.

3.  No more air fresheners, plug in's or automatic fresheners. Just open up your windows or burn a candle. Biggest waste of money plus those things are filled with toxic synthetic oils.

4.  No more spice packets. Try looking up these at Recipezaar . You will save money and save yourself form preservatives and control your salt intake.

5. Stop buying laundry soap and make your own. A $5 investment will get you started.

6.  No more dryer sheets. Just make 2 balls from aluminum foil and toss those in the dryer.

7.  No plastic trash bags.  Yes you read this right. If you recycle everything possible and compost everything possible, you will need no trash bags. I take my trash out once a week and we never fill it up. Since there is no liquids or food in our trash there is no need for a bag. I just take the trash out and rinse it out with water once in a while.

8.  Stop buying cleaners.  Try making your own.

9.  No more cable or dish network. Have it shut off and love your family time. Now days you can watch movies on Hulu, watch favorite tv shows on their network websites, or rent movies for as low as $1 from places like Redbox. Regular TV is much better now then when you were little. You get a 24 hour kids channel and about a dozen others.

10.  No more eating out. This one alone will save you a ton of money.

11.  Walk anywhere possible whenever possible within 1 mile from home. Less gas used means less money to buy gas. Try walking or biking. Yes you were born with legs for a reason!

12.  Hang dry your clothes. Got string and a nail? You have a easy clothes line! Put a loop at the end of the string so you can take it down anytime you want. Out of sight out of mind! This will save you up to $20 a month.

13.  Turn the thermostat down!!! 55 at night and 65-67 during the day. Put on a sweatshirt, socks and slippers. Plus gives you reason to snuggle. You will thank me later when you get your heating bill.

14.  No more new stuff. Try to find anything you need in a thrift store or garage sale before you buy it new. This is always my rule. Buying new is only if you absolutely cannot find it new. I recently had to buy 4 pairs of jeans new (ugg!) because I could not find any used.

15.  Get rid of disposables. No more paper towels, paper plates, paper cups, or to go anything! Just use your own and wash them. Yes even for birthday parties!

16.  Never refuse anything given. I always accept clothing, household goods, etc from friends or family. I rarely have to buy clothes because of this. In return I give away all our clothes and anything else I want to get rid of. Helps out in more ways than one.

17.  No more medicines unless its really needed. Simple colds can be taken care of with vitamins, honey, tea, and eating healthy. There are always natural ways to take care of any ailment at Earthclinic.  Its my go to site for everything!

18.  No more Sunday papers! Each week you will get a free paper on your door step. Now days they even come with coupons! Plus your local stores ad's will be in there too. You can also go on any brands website and print out coupons. There's always a way to get around everything!

19.  Share a garbage service with your neighbor. This saves us $13 each month. My neighbor and I split the bill. We each recycle so much and compost everything that we just split our service. Never thought of that did you!

20.  Take a shower when needed instead of daily. Now were not dirty people! I just wash when I need it. If my hair gets dingy or dirty I take a shower.This is the rule for our whole family. We do not roll around in the dirty, have dirty jobs, or sweat on a regular basis so we do not need to shower daily.  Just think about how much water and hair products you will save! Also when you do take a shower, put a limit on it!

21.  No more specialty coffee's! From now on make your own and take your own! This alone will save you a ton of money. Now days you can find organic coffee in bulk just about anywhere. Its way cheaper than buying your coffee from your local coffee shop. If you do need to grab a coffee, take your own mug and most places give a discount if you do bring your own mug.

22.  No more babysitters. Try switching with a friend/family member/neighbor. I do this with many people and have yet to pay any babysitters. Just remember to babysit in return. This alone saves a ton of money for people with many kids.

23.  Keep the lights off as much as possible. Open up drapes and let the sunshine in!

24.  Turn off the water when brushing your teeth.

25.  Take my clothe wipe challenge and save a bundle on toilet paper each month.

Monday, April 12, 2010

And the winner is.......

And the winner is.......

 The Brickey Family said...

I would love Option 2!! My whole house needs to be greener :)

You have 4 days to contact me with your name and address. Seventh Generation will send this kit to you directly. Congratulations on winning the Seventh Generation kit!

Thank you so all my fans for taking part in this giveaway. I look forward to having many more of them in the future.

Taking today off to spend time with my kids but you can find some interesting reads and freebies here.

Have a great day!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Giveaway!! Seventh Generation kit of your choice!

Update:Giveaway has ended

I am happy to announce my first giveaway ever! Seventh Generation is one of my favorite companies ever.  I was offered by Seventh Generation to get their brand new disinfecting wipes sent to me for free. Seventh Generation provided me products to review upon my request. To my surprise they offered to send a winner of my giveaway the kit of their choice. Whahoo!

They have a new line called Botanical Disinfectants. These amazing products kill 99.9% of germs naturally.  This includes influenza A virus including H1N1.  They are also EPA Registered.  The thing I really love about this company is that is discloses all ingredients.  They make everything from laundry soap, spray cleaners, paper towels, to even dishwasher tabs. There is really no excuse to not buy these green products. They sell everything you can imagine.

Seventh Generation are working to ensure that their products have a circular lifecycle, meaning natural resources are being used and renewed at a rate that is always below their rate of depletion.  They are committed to making sure that everyone in their company interacts with—from the farmers who grow their lavender to the customers who use their products—are treated fairly and with respect. They also proudly donate 10% of their profits to support organizations that work for positive change. Did I mention that all packaging is made from recycled plastic? They wouldn't have it any other way.

Currently Seventh Generation has a great offer going on. They have a $5 rebate when you buy any 3 of their products. This is an amazing deal for a few reasons. SG products can be found in just about any store now so its easy to find them. Sign up with Seventh Generation on their website and print out some great coupons to use towards your purchase to get the rebate. You will basically get 3 of your favorite SG products for super cheap or even free. What's not to love about that? Their site is full of lots of information. From product ingredients, thousands of tips, a wonderful forum you can read and leave comments on, and also why they do what they do. They send a email newsletter about once a month with lots of great articles in it. I love this newsletter and look forward to it each month.

My review
The above picture is the kit I was sent to review.  Dishwasher tabs work amazing! My dishwasher doesn't care for the liquid SG dishwasher detergent but it loves these. I really love them because now I can let my girls load the dishwasher and add the soap without worrying about them touching the soap.  I also love their new disinfecting wipes very much. They have a very light pleasant scent and clean super well. I've even rinsed them and used them again. My favorite product is Wild Orange and Cedar Spice all purpose cleaner. Love the smell! I have used their liquid dish soap for a few years now and its the only brand I will buy. I really could go on and on about this company.

The giveaway
One lucky winner will win a kit of their choice.
Choice 1
Healthy Home Starter Kit
Disinfecting Multi-Surface
Disinfecting Bathroom
Disinfecting Wipes - 35 ct.
All-Purpose - F&C
Glass - F&C
Shower - GM&L
Toilet - EC&F
Tub & Tile - EC&F
Natural Paper Towels
Seventh Gen Recycled Bag
Choice 2

Free & Clear Starter Kit
Disinfecting Multi-Surface
Disinfecting Bathroom
Disinfecting Wipes - 35 ct.
Please note: The Disinfectants have Thymol sent (from Thyme oil). These are NOT considered free & clear, but they are great for immune-depressed households or those with small children, hence why I’ve included them here. The scent dissipates quickly.
Laundry Detergent – F&C 32 oz
Liquid Fabric Softener – F&C 40 oz
Dish liquid
All- Purpose Cleaner
Auto-Dish Pacs
Glass Cleaner
Natural Paper Towels
Seventh Gen Recycled Bag


Choice 3

Natural Baby Starter Kit
Diapers – please provide size
Disinfecting Multi-Surface
Disinfecting Bathroom
Disinfecting Wipes - 35 ct.
Baby Wipes Tub
Baby Wipes Refill
Baby Laundry Detergent
All Purpose
Natural Paper Towels
Seventh Gen Recycled Bag

Choice 4

Disinfecting Kit
Disinfecting Multi-Surface
Disinfecting Bathroom
Disinfecting Wipes - 35 ct.
Natural Paper Towel
Seventh Gen Recycled Bag

How to enter
If you want to win this kit sign up with Seventh Generation and just leave a comment with your name and which kit you would like to win. Maybe you don't need this? Well you can still enter and maybe give it to a shelter or needy family. This giveaway could be for anyone. Maybe you just had a baby, choose the baby starter kit. First home try the free and clear starter kit. You must have a valid US address to be eligible.  

When will this giveaway end?
Sunday April 11th at midnight.

The winner will be chosen at random by I will announce the winner and you will have 4 days to reply with your information or I will have to pick another winner. 

Please read my disclosure at the bottom right hand corner of my blog please.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Is it worth it?

I try my best to be as frugal or green as possible in every aspect of my life. In my mind i'm telling myself "Save, save save!" or "What is the best earth friendly possible option here?". And usually I do a really good job. I'm starting to see my life balance itself out. I save money and have money for my girls to do things they want like soccer. So yes I save but yes we also spend. Then you know how the story goes. You work hard on saving money and smile each time you check your bank account. Feels so darn good to actually do something you put your mind to.

Then one day you hit a road block. For me this happened on Sunday. My dishwasher has been put-put putting along barely working but working no less. Each time I use it I want to yank the sucker out, take it to the backyard and then shoot it. Then I would realize I am against guns and visualize myself taking the biggest hammer I can find and taking all my anger out on it. How dare my dishwasher not do its job. Does this thing not know that I clean up after 6 people? That I only have so much time to get the dishes done before I am onto the laundry heap.  And then real life hits me. I'm talking to my dishwasher.

In my mind i'm thinking that we can just go pick up a new dishwasher and be on our way. I always find good deals and this would be no different. Each time we have bought a new home we have had to replace the dishwasher. Each time it was plastic on the inside and white on the outside. Each time we head over to Lowe's or Home Depot and give them $400 and drag our new dishwasher home. Well this time we were hell bent on getting one that will last. Stainless steel was my husband's goal and utensil holder was my goal. Stainless steel found, check! Large Utensil holder, check! $750 out of our account, check!   OUCH!!!

So I ask myself, is it worth it? And each time I come up with the same answer. YES YES!   Not only am I able to pay for my girls soccer each year (Don't ask...) but were able to afford upgrades in our home that will last longer and be more energy efficient. Were able to enjoy our time without having to worry about how were going to pay for it. I feel good about using my dishwasher now knowing that I am using less energy and use less water than my last one.  I feel good about planning to buy a fridge to match and also use less energy.   Yes all that money I worked at saving will be gone. But I know that if I didn't save that money, I would not be able to replace our old energy sucking appliances. We would not be able to do family fun things as often.  We would not be able to do lots of things. Being frugal and green not only saved me money, it made our life more comfortable and we walk with lighter footsteps.

So now's your turn to answer the question. Is it worth it?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Eliminate kitchen odors naturally

You go in your kitchen and smell some foul odor. You walk around smelling everywhere but still cannot find the origin of the smell. Has this happened to you? I know it has happened to me and it drives me crazy! We could just go buy a room spray and cover the smell and oh yeah poison the air at the same time. Or you can take the time to clean a few spots and eliminate the odor.

Clean out your refrigerator
Toss all food that has gone bad into your compost. Wash the drawer they were in with your favorite green cleaner or even better with your homemade cleaner. Wash the shelf that you usually put your milk on. No matter how hard you try not to have milk drippings, somehow they always drip. uuggg.  Put a new container of baking soda. I use a canning jar with fabric held on with a rubber band so I just replace mine with new baking soda. Baking soda absorbs any odors and will need to replaced every 6 months. Use old baking soda for cleaning around the house or unclogging your drains.

Empty your garbage
Again now matter how much you try to avoid it, it some how always gets dirty. Sprinkle some baking soda (maybe from your fridge?) in the bottom of your garbage pail then put your bag back inside. I do not use trash bags (dont freak out!) because I rarely even have any trash. Yep, I recycle that much! So weekly I wash my trash can out. I can go 2 weeks sometimes without taking my trash out. I save about $5 a month just by not buying plastic trash bags. Yipee!

Burned your dinner?
If you just burned food (or recently did) turn on your hood fan. If its a nice day out, just open your windows. If you have lots of smoke grab a vinegar/water soaked towel and wave it back and forth. The smoke will catch in the towel and the vinegar will help neutralize the smell. Make sure to keep your burners free from food particles too. I would try to clean the burner's once  a week.

Mold and mildew can grow easily in a kitchen that is damp. This mildew and mold smells really bad and is not healthy. If you are getting mold under your sink, fix the leak and open the cabinet until its completely dry.  To wash your cabinets use vinegar and borax because it kills the mold and mildew.

Garlic and onion smells
Did you know that hot water sets the smells off? Use cold water to remove these odors. Just wash your dishes and hands in cold water and soap and it should take away any smells.

Want to freshen up your home naturally? 

-Warm up a little vinegar on the stove top while you are cooking anything strong smelling. It should neutralize the odors.

-Burn an unscented candle to help dispel odors. Keep all candles out of reach of children and pets.

-Pour equal amounts of water and vinegar into a spray bottle.   Simply spray this into the air in any room that needs freshening up. Vinegar smell will go away quickly along with any odors.

-Pour a little vanilla extract on a cotton ball in a saucer and set it out somewhere on your counter. This is nice for those who cannot stand strong smelling cleaners or fragrances.

-Heat cinnamon sticks, cloves, orange peels, or lemon peels in a sauce pan full of water.  Do not allow to boil, just heat it.

-Grow your own clean air! Green plants are the only true air fresheners. They produce oxygen and also remove toxins and particulate matter from the air.  House plants with scented leaves can make indoor air smell nice.  Simply stroke your hand through the plant when you need a little refreshing. By doing this you release their fragrance into the room.  I recently bought several ferns for my home just for cleaning the air in our home.  Ferns need little sunlight and can be put in just about any room. They love high humidity which is perfect for the bathroom.

To learn more about how to green up your home, pick up a copy of "Green Housekeeping" by Ellen Sandbeck. Support your local bookstore or get it online at Amazon.

"The new bible on detoxing your home, from the kitchen to the septic tank."-House & garden

Monday, April 5, 2010

decorating on the cheap part three

This might be the most simple project I have ever come up with. If you need a shelf and really do not have much money, this shelf is for you. I had no place to put my girls soccer awards, pictures and trophies so I was on the hunt for a shelf. The problem is I had barely any extra money. I found a piece of extra fence wood we had laying around and really liked the weathered look of it. Then I found some wooden unpainted brackets from our local hardware store for only $3 each. I once again found some spray paint of my husbands and painted them. This project took me maybe 5 minutes to do and those 5 minutes were just waiting for the paint to dry.

Total cost =$6
Total cost if bought new=$19.99

Now this project is silly but it just goes to show you that I will do anything to save money. My newly redecorated room  needed new outlet plates.  It was late and I really didn't want to drive to the store to get new ones so I decided I would try to revamp them. To get an idea of what they looked like before just imagine your grandma's favorite flower blanket. Yep, ugly ugly brightly colored flowers all over them. I really liked the curves on these and knew if I could revamp them, they would fit perfectly into my newly redecorated room.   So once again I went into my husbands spray paints and found some glossy white. It took a few layers but I was finally able to cover those ugly flowers. Once they were dry I simply put them back.  But there was a problem. The original outlets themselves were beige. Uggg! So again I went to my art stuff and found a tube of white paint and a small paint brush. I very CAREFULLY painted them white. I would advise turning off the power to do this!  Now this isn't permanent because the paint might come off eventually. But it works for now and one day I will replace them. Can you tell what I did? Exactly!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Freezer Safe Containers

By request I would love to share with you my many freezer safe containers I use.  I have several things I use, none of which are expensive and usually have in my home already. Just remember to get creative and remember to label and date each item.

Tupperware-I went through a Tupperware stage for about 2 years. I found it in thrift stores, yard sales, and some were given to me by friends or family members. Remember when your looking for them you are going to find them one piece at a time sometimes. I bought lids only or bowls only because I knew I would probably run across the matching piece eventually.  Since then I have given almost all of my Tupperware away. I saved only ones that are perfect for the freezer. They should be easy to stack and easy to clean. Also keep in mind portion control. I also kept very large pieces so I can keep all my baking pantry food nice and sealed shut. I have a rule of never heating my Tupperware in the microwave because of no plastic number on most of Tupperware. Vintage Tupperware is a little too "iffy" and i'm not sure if its BPA free. The above picture is not my Tupperware but I do own those. They are perfect size plus the lid doubles as a small plate. Sweet! Love the colors!

Canning Jars-These are great for liquids. I use small glass canning jars for freezer jelly. I also shred zucchini or squash and put them into small glass jars. This way I can use it all year for muffins or what not.  Small glass jars are perfect for putting in your freezer door which is easy to access.  I also store dried good in the large canning jars. I keep them on my counter along my back splash because its the perfect size and not bulky plus I can see everything and do not have to hunt for anything. Love love canning jars! One thing you might want to keep in mind is that water expands when frozen. So keep plenty of room at the top of the jar so whatever you are freezing, it has plenty of room to expand. I've lost 5 jars recently because of this. Bummer. A pack of 6 large jars cost about $8. Medium sized retail for around $6 and smaller are about the same price.  You can also find these in thrift stores or yard sales but do not pay more than 25 cents for them. You can buy new lids and seals in the stores for about $3-$5.

Recycled Ziplock style bags-I know I know, I tell you all the time not to buy these things. Its true, do not buy them! But if you get one from a friend or relative put it to use. I bake pumpkin and freeze pumpkin puree and put the puree into these bags. They store really well and thaw out super fast. Each time I use it I simply wash it in warm water and let it dry. I will reuse these until they fall apart. Once they are too far gone to use for food, its onto our girls and their Barbie stuff. After my girls use them and they have too many holes to hold anything, they are cut up into pieces and recycled. Remember this option is free when you keep them when given to you.

Plastic Canning Jars with twist lids-I really do not like plastic but these were brand new and I thought I would try them out. I do not particularly canning due to me having 4 kids on my ankles constantly. But I do love freezing food. These smaller plastic canning containers are pretty cheap and as long as you do not heat them up and wash them in soap and warm water you can use them all you want. I love the easy to screw on cap and especially love the size of them. They hold 1 cup of food. Perfect for shredded zucchini/squash or pumpkin puree. Usually a recipe consist of one cup or two cups of puree/shred. Also they store well in the freezer door. These usually retail $3 for 3 of them.

There are lots of other alternatives all of which will be more expensive.  Pyrex is a favorite among people. They last for years and years but are an expensive up front cost. You can find 16 piece sets from Costco or Target for around $40. This means you will get an 8 piece complete set. They count lids as a piece. Lids these days are a plastic/rubber combination and can (not recommended) be heated. I love the old vintage Pyrex because the lids are glass and can be put in the oven with the lid.  My favorite are the dark brown Pyrex which is super hard to find. Trust me, people do not like to give up their Pyrex. 

Another alternative is plastic ziplock brand type containers. I personally do not like these. Yes they are cheap and have every size you can imagine. But they cannot be heated in the microwave for long or they will melt. Also the plastic is usually #1 or #2 plastic and absorb stains and odor. They will crack over time and will need to be replaced. Good thing is that they can be recycled. These containers rank up with ziplock bags in my mind. Just bad all around.  These retail for $3 for a pack of 3-6.

Ive seen some thick plastic containers with snap on lids at Costco as well. My neighbor has these and they seem pretty sturdy. The lids are lined with a rubber type seal to keep all liquids in and they are square and perfect size for storing in the freezer.  They usually cost around $20 for a large set of them.  I really do not know how long these will last but im sure longer than ziplock brand but not as long as Pyrex. 

Ive also seen stainless steel in places like Storables and many many websites. Only thing about these are that they are more expensive than Pyrex. I would say that if you want these for lunch bags its a good investment. But for freezer containers, its just way too expensive. One small 2 cup size container cost about $6.99-$10 each.  The prices go way up from there.

Another great thing I use is glass jars from products I buy. I buy apple sauce for my girls to have in their lunches. The apple sauce I buy is a large glass container with a metal lid. I use these to store soup in the freezer and also for noodles and what not's on my counter. They are very dual use and can be recycled when done. I just love the simple design of the container too. These are free because you already bought them and are reusing them.

Finding the right freezer container is really up to you. It all depends on how much you want to spend and how ECO friendly you want to go. For me I choose frugal and Eco friendly as much as possible. I also like dual use items. This way I have less, to do more.

What about you? What do you use? How much do they cost and where do you find them?  Share your information so it can help everyone out:)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Homemade Goodness "Oatmeal Bread" (bread machine)

Oatmeal Bread for the bread machine

1 1/4 cups water
3 tbsp honey (I used agave)
2 tbsp butter
3/4 cup quick-cook oats (I used regular organic kind & worked fine)
1 3/4 tsp salt
3 3/4 cups bread flour (I used unbleached regular flour)
2 tbsp bran (I used wheat germ, only thing I had)
2 tbsp dry milk
2 tsp active dry yeast

Put wet ingredients in first then the dry ingredients. Use your finger to form a well in the flour and put your yeast in this well.
Follow your instructions on your bread machine, each one is different. Mine says to select basic selection then pick crust color. Start.
This takes about 3 hours to make but well worth the wait. Its a much heavier bread and is super filling. I love the sweetness of this bread. This is my favorite bread now. Below is the same machine I own. Super easy to use and clean. You can get this on Amazon but I found mine for only $50 at my local BI Mart. Cheapest I found around here in Oregon.  My mother and sister own this as well. I have read reviews on this machine and almost all of them are great reviews. One review stated that they used this machine for 12 years everyday and its still up and running.