Friday, September 30, 2011


Not sure if its because I'm feeling sick and in a grumpy mood or if its just that time of the month but I feel a rant coming on. So sit back and enjoy the ride.

I decided today that I was going to write everything that is on my mind.  Over the past 3 years I have tried to write about what was on my mind, what products I liked, and what I thought my readers wanted to read about.  It started out as a daily journal of my life and my goal to save money.  In my journey to save money I discovered less packaging, environmental impact of my purchases, and you can in fact live a organic lifestyle on a budget. 

Most the time I get many amazing comments from readers who love what I'm doing and have joined me in my journey.  On occasion I get comments about how disgusting things are, how could I do that, and how I'm going too far with everything. I was alarmed at first and started rethinking everything I was writing.  Well today I decided that I will no longer hold my thoughts back when it comes to living a greener lifestyle. 

To those who find my post a bit too far my advise to you is stop reading this.  Move on to another blog that you feel fits your life.  There are so many amazing blogs out there you just need to find the one that fits you.  I write about my journey and what has worked and not worked. I offer advise which you can take or not take it.  Do with it what you will.  But don't hate on me.  I have so many people who love and support what I am doing and I would rather surround myself with them. 

I read dozens of blogs some of which I love 100% and some of which I love 90%.  Some are religious which is totally opposite of me, and some are just cheesy but I get good info from.  It's not my job to judge them and point out that I don't like about what they write.  Its a free country and people can write what they want.  I can choose to go else where and don't waste my time stressing with it. 

I write for myself and to help others.  I love to show people that you really can save money and live a greener lifestyle.  I love sharing products that are good for the environment.  I love sharing with people.  I love teaching people.  I am who I am take it or leave it.  Because when it comes down to it I don't care what people think about me.  I'm green suck it.

So my question to you is do you have people judge you because of your lifestyle?

Do you lose sleep over what people think about you?

Do you bite your lip instead of speaking how you really feel?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


The earth is changing;
The seasons turn round.
The autumn leaves flutter
Their way to the ground.

My own world is changing;
The seasons conspire
To grand me the peace
of a rest by the fire.

Melissa Pinol

This poem is everything I love about the Fall season.  I look forward to cold dry days when I walk my girls to school.  The leaves changing such bold colors then falling down around us. Hot cocoa in front of the rip roaring fire crackling away.  I am ready for Fall before Summer is even over. 

I tried growing my own pumpkins and squash but it was doomed from the beginning.  I planted them in my yard where my dog has access.  My thinking was that they do not put off a smell when ready so my dog wouldn't be interested in them.  So a week or so after I planted them (and they started growing) my dog decided to dig in the dirt and spread them all over the yard.  I scrambled to find them all and replanted them in my garden where the dog couldn't get them.  They had plenty of water and sun but didn't really grow all that much.  So this year I had only a small amount actually grow. This year we will have to go buy pumpkins to carve.  Were excited because its been a while since we have had the experience of going to a farm and picking our own out while enjoying all the fun stuff that comes along with it. 

I took a trip to one of my favorite farms yesterday.  I was on the hunt for blue pumpkins and was excited to find one with lots of fun markings.  These pumpkins make the best moist pumpkin puree for any pumpkin recipe.  At 49 cents per pound its a great deal!
Just look how beautiful these are.  Man I love Fall!
Last night it hit a all time low here in the NW Portland area.  It was 39 degrees! I was worried about my tomatoes all night and actually lost a little sleep over it.  So this morning I panicked and pulled all (5lbs worth) my tomatoes. 
Look how beautiful these things are! I will be putting all these in paper bags to ripen so I can bake them.  Roasted red tomato sauce is my favorite and will probably be put in my freezer for later use.  Yummy!
All Fall I will be saving any and all seeds I get from all the organic pumpkin/squash I buy.  As long as they are organic I will be able to save them to grow my own next year.  Here you see my pink banana squash seeds I am air drying right now.  I didn't plant my banana squash in a sunny enough location so they didn't get as big as they should of been.  Next year I will remember this! Once these are done and completely dry then I will keep them in a dark cool place until January. 

I'm also reading a few books right now.  These are my two current reads which I'm enjoying very much.  My goal is to read one chapter in each book each day.  So far so good.  Today was about fast food commercials and how much our children are actually watching each week.  3 hours to be exact! Also learned about meat and how the food pyramid tricks you.  I know exciting huh?

So what are you reading right now?

Whats going on in your garden?

Are you a Fall nut like myself?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

$50 a week

I'm still getting lots of produce from my garden so this is why you won't see any in the picture.  I'm using what I have and getting pretty creative with it.  Also I still have some meat left in the freezer from previous shopping trips so I didn't need to buy anymore.  Right now I'm mostly buying fresh items that I cannot freeze and snacks for my girls lunches. 

Whole Foods

$2.50 RBST Free milk-we drink lots of water so we don't need much milk.
$3.99 12 pack recycled toilet paper
$1.78 2 cans of organic tomato paste-I use to make pizza sauce
$1.49 Sunshine Dairy Half n Half (my favorite and LOCAL!)
FREE-They only had one 12 pack left but one egg was broken.  I took it up to them and asked if I they had more.  Took them a few minutes but found some and gave them to me for free for my troubles.  LOVE THIS STORE!

Donated my 10 cent bag credit to a local charity + all my change I had in my purse.


Trader Joe's

$1.99 Sour Cream Puffs-lunch snacks for school lunches
$1.99 Ruffled Veggie Chips
$2.29 Fire Roasted Salsa Salt Free-glass jar will be reused. We eat chips n salsa for snacks
$2.29 Fennel Toothpaste -my kids love this stuff
$1.29 Organic Spaghetti Pasta
$2.78 Organic Whole Wheat Pasta Fusilli
$2.58 Pizza Dough Fresh -using to make pizza tonight. I'm no baker...I just cook damn good.
$2.29 Kosher Dill Pickles-OMG are they good!


I have $22.74 left for this week still.  Not bad!

On the way home I checked out a garage sale that was by my home.  I have a rule to only stop by is they are on the way where I am going this way I don't use up much needed gas.  Remember the post I wrote for Retro House Wife Goes Green? Here is a great example of how to save money.

I found these two lovely metal pots for only 50 cents each.  I will be cleaning them up and giving them a new coat of spray paint to freshen them up.  Now that's a score!! These would of cost me at least $10 each if I bought them new.  These will be used on my front porch or in front of either side of my garage. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Meet Sean Gettings and Lisa Sharp. They are pretty cool.

This week has been pretty good for the blog.  I was asked to guest post in my friend Sean Gettings blog called The Environmental Guy (and part-time background actor!).  Head on over and read my guest post and learn some ways to get your children to recycle. Make sure to become a fan on Facebook of his too. Those little girls in the picture are pretty darn cute. I hear they look like their mama....haha..

This is my friend Sean Gettings. He's pretty cool.  We share a love for the earth and fight to protect it.  If you love getting your nerd on and reading about recycling, solar panels, urban chickens and buying local and eating fresh then you will love his blog. Best part is that he is a local guy here in Portland and knows the in's and outs of Portland. He is married to Amy and has 2 beautiful children who I melt over each time I see a picture of them.  Those curls!!!   Lets give him some love and help him on his way. 

I also guest posted on my friend Lisa Sharp's blog called Retro Housewife Goes Green.  If you do not have a garden, want to start a garden or just don't know where to start then you have to check out my guest post.  I love Lisa's blog and have been a fan of it for a long while now.  Keep her in your favorites and be sure to check her blog out on Facebook as well.  I literally could go on and on about things she writes but just head on over there and get comfy because you will be on there a long time.  Yep she's that good!

My summer pea plants are done producing anything so I decided to pull them and replant peas for the winter garden.  I also dead headed my marigolds and save some of the seeds for next year.  The other flowers you see are a bit crazy looking but I'm leaving them for the birds to snack on.  They love the seeds off of them.

Much better! Chicken wire really is the best for this area.  You cannot see it and the peas love to climb it. 

My scarlet beans are still thriving so I am keeping them for a bit longer.  I pulled my cauliflower out because I didn't pick them in time and they flowered.  Here you see lots of dirt area which I have planted lots of lettuce. 

For fun I planted corn in the garden beds.  One bed doesn't get enough sun so the corn is only about a foot tall.  This corn in the sunny bed is about 6 feet tall.  I will use these to decorate the front of the house in October.  Who knows, maybe I will get some corn out of it.  Its my first time growing corn so I'm enjoying watching them grow. 

These plants died a long time ago.  The wooden box was a goodie I found at my grandma's and I grew some Alyssums in it which have all died.  The pot on the right my daughter Megan planted some pea's which did pretty well.  She was able to eat anything it produced (which was only about 4 pea's but was excited to eat

them).  At this point I'm having fun getting creative with everything. 

I simply took the soil out and added some good organic soil to it.  I planted spinach in the wooden box and pea's again in the pot.  I love this stuff.
Last but not least look who came out to play?  Out of the 3 sunflowers I planted only one decided to grow super tall.  I just love how beautiful it is.  Think I will plant way more next year.  Love love love them!

UPDATE: Less than 5 hours later a squirrel decided to rip the head off of this sunflower.  Don't think it understood that the sunflower had not yet grown any seeds. So now I'm mad and sad.  It's war you damn squirrels its war!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I don't know what my problem is lately but I have been really slacking.  I bought 2 dozen packs of Pepsi because we were craving it.  Although they were aluminum which can be recycled it was just a bad choice on our part.  I should of just bought one can and left it at that but no the sale price got me. They are all gone (off to recycling) and were not buying anymore ever again.  Well hopefully.

School has been going for two weeks now and I'm just now getting into the groove of things.  Its the first time in 13 years that I have had a few hours to myself.  Instead of taking advantage and cleaning my house I decided to leave the house each day and hit the thrift shops.  Well now there is no excitement while shopping because I have been to each one way too many times.  Today has been the first day where I have been cleaning and actually getting things organized. 

I did manage to go to the store and bought myself a few packs of bulbs.  P.Allen Smith has a line of bulbs at Fred Meyers and I wanted to shout out to the world when it saw them.  I normally do not buy bulbs because its always the same old boring plants for sale.  P.Allen Smith has the best assortment of crazy beautiful plants. 
This pretty plant is called Allium Schubertii.  Seriously how wicked is this plant?
Who doesn't love a flower ball? What a beautiful plant. Its called Allium Ivory Queen.   This will be a plant people will stop to look at. 
Last but not least this is called Allium Purple Sensation.  Just look at the deep color of these. Gosh I'm in love!

I plan on putting these in the best show I can.  My yard will be the one that people on walks stop and look at.  Love crazy colors and crazy shapes. 
Any of you have plant suggestions for me? Do you grow a crazy beautiful plant? Share!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Winter garden already?

I am so glad Fall is here. This week in Oregon the weather is getting a little colder and I am dreaming of hot soups and hot chocolate. In the garden its getting not so pretty because the summer growing season is coming to its end. Each week I go through and compost plants that are not producing anymore. My handy Northwest Garden Guide (available locally at New Seasons) tells me I need to start planting for the winter garden.  Why do I love this book so much? Well I could go on and on but its basically gardening for dummies. This book is well worth the $14.95 price tag for gardening goofs like myself. This book includes a detailed monthly gardening calendar that shows you what's happening in your garden through the seasons and when to plant vegetables, herbs and flowers. Here are more goodies.

-Maritime Northwest Climate Zone Map
-Techniques to extend the growing season
-Vegetable, herb and flower variety recommendations
-Month-by-month gardening tips
-Beneficial insect identification
-How to beat common plant diseases organically
-Getting organic outside the garden
-Ideas for gardening with children
-Seed and compost resources

Need I say more? Go grab this book for yourself!

My second crop of beans are doing very well.  My first crops were grown specifically to put in the freezer so we could enjoy these beans all winter long.  We have about 15 pounds of beautiful burgundy, scarlet and blue lake beans.  This crop will be for eating fresh each night and sharing with everyone.  Just yesterday I was able to pick about 4 pounds of beans which I donated to a local senior center that distributes food to locals.  I was also able to give some to my neighbors Jim and Hazel (HI!!!!) who we love dearly.  They are allowed to pick anytime they want and take anything they want. 
For some reason the big black bumble bee's LOVE my bean flowers and do not like when I'm picking them.  I have to be real careful not to make them mad. Sorry bumble bee!
I also have a few second crops of burgundy bush beans.  These are my favorite because of how beautiful in color they are.  My kids love them and call them magic beans because when we cook them they turn green.  Another great reason I love them is that you can plant them pretty much anywhere.  I usually plant them randomly in flower beds, along walls, and just about anywhere.  They are a small plant that gives and gives.
I also planted yellow wax beans for the first time this year.  I would recommend these for people who love a mild flavor bean.  They add such beautiful color to our meals so these will be in my garden from now on. 

My tomatoes are still giving even in September.  This is a speckled Roma plant and I cannot wait to see the end result.  I had way too many starts and instead of just throwing them out I decided to plant them everywhere in hopes of maybe getting something from them.  Looks like I will!

Kale is a favorite of my girls so I decided I would go kale crazy.  I planted them in pots...

In anywhere and in between that I could stuff them....

and anywhere I pull a plant I toss some kale seeds in.  Kale grown in your own garden is so much better than anything I have found in stores.  So tender, so flavorful and can be used in so many ways.  Kale chips will be requested from my girls but I dream of kale in soups. Yummy!
This has nothing to do with the winter garden but I wanted to show you something that makes me smile each day.  Fred Meyers was having a 50% off plant sale and I picked up two jasmine plants for only $10. One plant had a small starter so I'm actually getting 3 plants. What a deal! These beautiful plants were in tiny tiny pots and the poor plants were so root bound. They only had 2 blooms because of this.   I quickly separated the start from one plant then transplanted all 3 into very large pots and watered well.  I don't want to plant them into the ground until I find a perfect spot for them.  My goal is to plant them near a window so the beautiful smell will come right into my home.  They will live in the greenhouse this winter if it gets too cold.  I think they were thanking me by giving me such beautiful flowers this week.  Your welcome!

Here is a list of things you can plant this month here in Oregon and Washington.

Sow Outdoors

Carrot Family-cilantro, chervil

Mustard Family-arugula, cabbage(for spring harvest), first early market springtime.
Cress-broadlieaf, landcress
Mustard-gai chi, giant red, green in snow, green wave, mizuna
Radish-misato flesh

Beet Family
Spinach-winter bloomsdale, giant winter, skookum, tyee

Sunflower Family
Endive-frisee, green curled, perfect, tres fine maraichere (often damaged by winter weather but some still try)
Lettuce-bronze rodin, brune D'Hiver, little gem, perella red and green, rougette du midi, rubens red, winter density

Late September (all overwintering)

Carrot family-caraway
chervil-brussels winter
sweet cicely
Grass Family-gramineae
Overwintering Grains-barley, rye, spelt, tritcale, wheat

Mustard Family brassicaceae
arugula, rustic arugula sylvatica
mustard-green in snow, green wave, mizu-na
radish-misato rose flesh

pea family fabaeae
peas, snow-chinese snow
fava beans-aprovecho select, aquadulce, banner, sweet lorane

beet family chenopodiaceae
beets-chioggia, lutz green leaf, winterkeeper, yellow intermediate mangel
spinach-winter bloomsdale, giant winter, tyee

sunflower family compositae
lettuce-brune d'hiver perella, red tinged winter, rubens red romaine, winter density, winter marvel

pea family fabaceae
peas, snow:chinese snow

grass family gramineae
overwintering grains-barley, rye, spelt, triticale, wheat

Monday, September 12, 2011

$50 a week

It's been a long time since I have shared my $50 a day.  I get so much stuff from my garden that honestly you would get bored of just seeing a picture of milk and butter consistently. But the growing season is slowing down and I am now having to buy many things. So here we go.

Mark's NW Fresh Produce

$5.00 ($2.50 each) 2lb bag of sweet peppers. I bought 2 bags so the girls can have them in their lunches for school.
5 Tomatoes
2 local apples


Plate in picture is of things I picked from my garden. Enough green and yellow wax beans for dinner tonight and a handful of broccoli spears that needed to be used.  I pulled the broccoli out because it was done for the season. 

New Seasons

$1.99 Woodstock Crushed Tomatoes
           I usually buy Whole Foods but wanted to try these out because they were the same price.
$2.59  Milk 2% rbst free hormone free
$2.50 Organic Franz Bread
$1.38 Organic Celery

Whole Foods

$2.99 Yellow Banana's Fair Trade (.69 per lb)

$1.49 Sunshine Dairy Half n Half (lowest price around & my favorite!)

$3.39 18 ct vegetarian fed free range chicken eggs

$1.68 Gran Queso small wedge of cheese (wanted to try something new)

I'm stocking up on items for making tea this Fall and Winter.  I searched for name brand tea's that were specifically for colds and immune boosters. I found a few good ones and wrote down their specific ingredients that I knew I didn't have which were not too many.  The ones I didn't have I looked for in the bulk spices/tea aisles.  My girls love hot tea when they are sick and prefer it over any medication you can buy for colds.  Today I found a few items I didn't have.

.83 cents Lemon Peel ($20.64 per lb but you don't need much so worth it)
.12 cents Lemongrass ($11.52 per lb)
.30 cents Licorice Powder ($14.99 per lb)
.65 cents Orange Peel ($12.99 per lb)
.08 cents Fennel Seed ($7.99 per lb)
.12 cents Clove ($21.49 per lb)

Don't let the price per pound scare you away.  These items are just things you don't need to add much.  The base of tea's are usually raspberry leaf which is pretty cheap.  All bulk tea's are cheaper by the pound rather than prepackaged tea's.  They taste much better because they are not steeped in paper bags which you can taste.  Try it out for yourself!

Also I picked up some seeds for next year at 75% off.  Pink Cosmo's were only $1.25 and the sunflowers were only 47 cents so I couldn't pass them up. I usually get as many seeds as I can the year before and on sale. Otherwise I couldn't afford to have so many different beautiful and unique items growing everywhere. 

This is with a 5 cent bag credit because I always bring my own fabric bags.  Also not pictured or priced is a cheese stick that I bought and ate.  They are so yummy!!!

Friday, September 9, 2011

School Time Savings Part 2

I have fond memories of my mother taking my sister and I to many thrift shops.  I remember the smell of them, the color of the buildings themselves and the layout of each store. Some were very organized and we found what we needed pretty quickly while others were just a mess and we had to dig to find anything.  To be honest digging was my favorite part.  When your little its so much fun wandering around looking at so many things.  All those times mom told us not to snoop? Those rules went out the window and we were allowed to touch everything and explore. I cherish all those memories and continue to let my girls explore as I did.

School time can really empty your bank account if you are not careful.  Each year I see parents rush to the store with their gotta have list.  4 pairs of jeans, new undies, new socks, new shirts, new new new etc.  And for what reason? It has to be new just because its the first day of school? Where are these rules you follow? I just shake my head each year because I know they can save money if they tried.  Hopefully I can save people money with these easy methods. I recommend making a list of what each child needs along with their sizes and carry this list with you at all times.  Enjoy these tips and add anything I might have forgotten. 

1. Hand me downs-This really is a no brainer. For me this is easy because I have 4 daughters. My oldest daughter gives my middle daughter all her clothing. Then when my middle daughter grows out of them they get handed down to my twins. There is four years between them so I only hand down my favorites to the twins.  Whatever my kids don't want (And I go through my favorites and stash them) we will give everything away to friends and family.  I always tell them if they get rid of anything think of us which usually happens.  For those not able to hand down clothes to each of your children then make it known to everyone you know that you will take any hand me downs from anyone.  For example if I'm looking for something in particular (lets say a comforter) I will get on Facebook and tell everyone what I'm looking for. Most the time someone has what I'm looking for.  I will barter for items or trade items as well.  Get creative and let it be known what your looking for.

2.  Thrift Shops
There are so many different type of thrift shops and you need to check them all out.  Some have better sales, some have certain items more than others and some have day sales.  For example I know I can find kitchen items for super cheap at a certain senior thrift shop.  I know I can get shoes for cheap at my local Goodwill Outlet. You just need to remember this when your looking for certain items.  Thrift shops are great because they sell gently used items that have plenty of wear left in them.  Many items are brand new with tags still attached, sometimes things were only worn once because they didn't like the fit/color and sometimes you find stuff that was loved and worn many times but are still nice.  No matter what these items are going to be cheaper than buying them brand new.  So even if you don't get them on sale at the thrift shop your still getting them at a great price.  My personal favorite place to shop at Goodwill Outlet because everything is sold by the pound.  You name it you can find it.  But word of warning! They do not separate or hang items. Books are with books, shoes are with shoes but clothing is mixed up and in large bins so be prepared to dig.  If your queasy bring rubber gloves. I go just as I am with no gloves. Yep I'm that good.

3. Yard/Garage Sales
You can plan your day by getting a local paper and hitting up all the garage sales or do what I do and just drive around your neighborhood. Most times I see them on my way home and stop by.  You can usually find items for super cheap and even lower priced than thrift shops.  People really want to get rid of this stuff and are willing to sell at any cost.  I don't haggle and will pay what they ask if I find a good deal.  If its too much I will just move on.  They want a certain amount for whatever reason and if I'm not willing to pay that they wont budge.  For some people this is the most fun part of the experience. Another great reason to shop at yard/garage sales is that they know the item well.  For example I bought a pressure cooker with all the pieces but not directions.  The older lady selling it was the original owner and told me the easiest directions.  I would not of had that information had I bought it from a thrift shop and who knows if  could of found directions online because the pressure cooker is pretty old.  So ask questions and go out with the idea of having fun.

4.  Retail Stores
This is my last option for school clothes.  After I look in thrift stores, ask friends/family, hand me downs and I still have not found certain items then and only then will I look into retail stores.  Of course we buy underwear and bra's brand new. Socks are handed down through the kids because they are not hard on them and rarely have holes in them. Sometimes I just cannot find shoe's in good condition or in a certain size so I have to find them brand new.  I always hit the clearance rack first then look into the sales area.  I have a certain price in mind (usually less then $20) and will stick to that.  I will wait it out until I find what I'm looking for.  Right now I'm on the hunt for school shoes and being very patient. Well I'm trying to be anyways.  I do not go look in each store hunting for them because I find its a waste of gas and my time.  I find that if I wait it out I will find it almost always.  Stores mark up their products way too much. $34 for a polyester shirt? No way. I can find that in Goodwill for $4.99 or Goodwill Outlet for a quarter.  So it will have to be marked down a lot before I will even think about buying it. 

5. Online Shopping
Sometimes you don't have many options for thrift shops because you live in a small town or out of the city so this might be your only option.  Most places off free shipping now which makes it much easier for many to shop.  You can find some good deals if you really look.  When shopping online always look at the Clearance tab first.  Don't forget to look for savings codes too.  For example if your looking to shop at Gap Google "Gap code" and you will find a code that someone shared almost always. You can use that code many times on clearance items as well.  Just type in the code at check out.  My favorite thing to do is shop end of season sales.  If I find a deal I will buy items a size larger so I can save those items till the next season.  Pay full price at the time of the season or pay a fraction of that price the season before? This takes planning but in the end it saves you a ton of money.  So be careful and shop reputable companies, watch for sales, watch for codes and always watch for free shipping.  Also check to see if they have free shipping to stores. Walmart is a good place for this option.  You will just have to hit your nearest store for the items you ordered.

So how do you save money each year on school clothes?

Have a favorite thrift shop or store you shop at?

Leave a comment and share with others!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

School Time Savings Part 1

 Do you go broke every year buying school supplies? From new clothes to shared supplies your money wont go very far.  Over the years I have learned how to save money in just about every possible way.  I know its a little late getting this to you but better late than never.I will be writing a few post in the next few days covering everything from supplies to clothes.  First post will be about supplies so enjoy and add a comment if you feel I have left anything out.

1.  At the end of the school year kids are sent home with supplies they didn't end up using which we keep everything and save it for the following year.  Then when we get the new school supplies list I simply go through what we already have and reuse them.  Shared items must be new but individual supplies can be used.  Colored pencils, pencils, markers, etc.  Reuse what you can and only then make a list of what you need to actually buy new. 

2.  Keep a list in your purse of things the kids will need to be bought new and always carry it on you.  I don't do one big purchase trip but instead each time I'm at the store I browse the school area and if its a good deal I will buy it.  Some stores will get you into their store with one good deal but all their other supplies are regular price.  That is how they make their money to be wise to it. Remember multi packs are now always good deals so do your math.  Always look for a Eco friendly options and non-plastic packaging.  Sometimes they are a tiny bit more expensive but worth it in the long run.

3. Reuse anything possible.  For example we reused backpacks from last year because they were in perfect condition and we didn't need to go buy new ones.  This saved me a good $100! My two older girls are reusing their lunch boxes because they are vintage and still in perfect working order.  Garfield and Mermaid are always in style.  My twins are in 1st grade this year so they wanted new lunch boxes.  I found some metal lunch boxes at Old Navy for $10 each. Yes a bit expensive but I'll tell you why I purchased them.  They had Smurfs on them and not just any Smurfs. Vintage style ones and not the new Smurf movies ones (which are lame!). The metal box has metal clasp and plastic handle just like the ones from when I was little so I know they will last. If the plastic handle brakes I can make a new handle very easily.  These can be easily hand washed or thrown in the dishwasher.  Each classroom has a bin they put all the lunches in and someone will always get a smashed lunch because most are fabric bags.  Not ours! We also are reusing our fabric bags, bamboo utensils and fabric napkins.  You get the idea.

4.  Family help-Each year my mother goes on a craze to find school supplies at the lowest possible prices.  She has been doing this since I was little, after I left the house and even before I had kids.  Its her calling I guess.  If I ever need something but cannot seem to find it I simply send her a email with the list and she almost always comes through for me.  She enjoys it and I get what I need.  So let those family members or family friends help out if they want.  Even if we don't need things its okay.  You can never have too many glue sticks! Just remember to recycle them!

5. Don't always stick to the list! My oldest daughter brings home a generic school list that honestly the teachers never need any of the items.  Almost always the teachers send home their own list and I have to go spend more money which drives me nuts.  Instead I don't buy a thing and when she comes home with her list I then will buy the items. Its usually only a few items that are pretty cheap.  Remember this when your kids get into middle school or high school.

Hopefully this helps out some of you. Did I miss anything when it comes to supplies?
How do you save money?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Back to normal....finally.

I feel sorta bad now. I didn't realize how long its been since I had posted anything. Oops...sorry.  Well I blame some laziness but mostly I have been way too busy with my family.  Between soccer games, my husband traveling for work and keeping the house chores done I literally am just too busy to sit down to play on the computer.  I have been busy keeping the garden producing and have lots of produce in the freezer.
I planted what I thought were yellow wax bush beans but turned out they were runners.  Oops. I scrambled to get support for them and I think I did a pretty good job with it.  Inside I have kale, ghost pumpkins, and random flowers which hopefully will do fine.  I'm a bit worried because the beans take up all the sun leaving very little for the rest.  The beans have flowers already so I should be getting lots of beans soon.  Did I mention this is in my front yard?  I wanted to show everyone that you can plant anywhere and it will look nice. 

I ended up pulling my yellow crook neck because they were not producing very much and really wasting my garden space.  In the back I planted broom corn that I can hopefully use to decorate for Fall.  I also planted some more Patti pan squash which hopefully will give me some produce before the whether turns cold.  Then in front I planted the first of my winter garden which is mainly kale.  My oldest daughter is drooling at the mouth thinking of the kale chips we will be making.
The middle bed was full of Patti pan squash which were all done producing so I pulled them out and planted more tomatoes starts I had.  Hopefully I get some speckled Roma because they are beautiful when ripe.  This last bed I just planted more kale and some lettuce.  I really want to take advantage of the growing seasons and if all turns out okay I will be getting food all year except for December.

This area was just going to be for strawberries but I got bored one day and planted a ton of things.  So far I have lots of varieties of tomatoes, Patti pan, zucchini, bok choy and lots of kale of course.  The strawberries are still producing a little but only enough for the girls to go snack on.  My twins will eat any strawberry with a hint of red on it.
I'm finally getting tomatoes!!! enough to make my own tomato sauce but I'll take it.  Love fresh tomatoes in anything I cook.   
Yesterday I pulled all the bean plants off my metal stakes.  Although they are pretty they were just not giving me any beans anymore. I then planted peas because they are hearty plants and will grow well in the Fall.  My corn in the back is growing nice and will also be used to decorate in the Fall.  I do have some bean plants still producing, some broccoli is giving me a little and of course I planted more kale. 

I pulled my Cosmo plants because honestly they were turning into tree's.  I didn't realize that the variety I planted was so big.  In the beginning of the season I had potatoes planted here but I have since harvested them and planted tomatoes.  I kept all the flowers where they were because they just looked so pretty there.  The peas on the fence are doing very well but will soon be giving me very little and will be pulled and replanted again. 
This wall is just crazy.  I have zinnia's, Cosmo's, beans, random flowers, sunflowers and some herbs all jam packed in here.  They seem to be thriving with each other so I have kept it the way it wants to grow.  I just love all the beautiful colors blending together. 
Last but not least here is my last garden bed.  My cauliflower grew slowly because of the lack of sun but finally they are ready to be harvested.  My second crop of scarlet beans are growing over the older crop.  Not a good idea of me to plant under the old crop.  Its really not fun trying to pick beans and the spiders have made a nice home in there.  Yuck! My banana squash in the back is not doing well and I think I will have to pick it this week.  They didn't get as large as they should but something is better than nothing.  My green peppers have yet to give me anything, bok choy needs to be picked because of the bugs, and random carrots will be needed picked soon. 

Now that you have seen my garden, how well is your garden doing? 

Are you getting lots of things to harvest?

What method of preserving are you using?