Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Penny Pinching Preparation for the Holidays

Halloween has yet to come and I'm already thinking of Christmas. Ive been gathering Christmas decorations for over a month now and hiding them in my room.  I just love vintage Christmas decorations but they are hard to come by.  So as I rummage through thrift shops I always keep my eyes open for beautiful things to bring home. These things have been around for generations and will continue to do so in our home. Not only does this put a smile on my face but they also don't break our bank. Woot!

Ive learned over the years that it doesn't take much to save money.  There are little things you can do to save some big cash. You can start saving on your grocery, electric, gas and household bills even with only a months time. True you only save a tiny bit with each tip. But remember that small change adds up to big savings. If you want to keep saving money just keep going with the tips and enjoy keeping your money in your pocket. Don't forget that these things are also helping your mother earth. Come be a penny pinching santa with me!

One easy thing you can do it stop using disposable napkins, utensils and plates. What a waste of money and trees.  Once you use them you toss them in your laundry. I also use these to wrap my daughters sandwiches in their lunches. There is a commercial on TV that shows a mom getting grossed out by having to use a fabric towel. How is having to go buy paper towels just to throw them away any easier than just using a fabric towel and washing it? Why don't you just go throw your money away? Goodness don't get me started on that subject!  While your at it stop buying anything disposable. Seriously get smart and stop throwing your money away.  This tip alone will save you over $100 each year.

One thing that has saved me $24 a year is not buying any shaving cream anymore.  Remember that thing your grandmother had in her bathroom sink? That square slimy thing? Yeah its called a bar of soap. It's pretty simple actually.  No packaging, no plastic involved and it last a long time if you take care of it.  I would suggest a soap holder with holes for air circulation.  Keep your bar dry when not in use and your soap will last a long time.  Instead of grabbing your shaving cream try grabbing a bar of soap and getting a good lather going.  Apply the same way you would your cream and shave away. Using a bar of soap also saves you from having to scrub your tub so much.  Shaving creams are filled with so many oils that stick to the side of your tub and leave a ring. Not with soap!  You can use the soap to wash your tub too! Some even use soap to wash their hair. Shut the front door! Its true.  Seriously stop buying shaving cream!

Another great way to save money is making your own medicine.  Obviously go to the doctor if you have something more than just a simple cough.  But for the regular old yucky cold this will do the trick.  You can make your own cough syrup easily. Even just some chamomile tea with honey will do the trick.  For a nasty cough sprinkle some cayenne pepper to quiet it. Works every time. And yes even my daughters will drink these.  Each time your kids get a cold you will save yourself  $5 by just making it yourself.  This tea my friend Tamara Rubin gave me Marshall's Farm Natural Honey and its her moms company. So if your from California keep an eye out for it. Taste amazing!

Good old vinegar has numerous uses for the home.  Stop buying cleaners and use a spray bottle with 50% water and 50% vinegar.  Use just like you would any cleaner.  Don't worry about the smell because after a few minutes it goes away.  I also use a 50/50 combo of water/vinegar in my carpet cleaning machine. Vinegar gets rid of any smells and cleans so well. 

Did you know that many stores pay you to bring your own bags? Yep! Bring your own bags and you get a few pennies off your bill for each bag you bring.  These pennies add up! Woot for no more plastic bags!!!! This tip alone would make Beth Terry a very very happy lady. This is my milk crate full of bags I have bought or I received for free from stores.  Don't forget to wash them once a week to keep them clean.  Just let them air dry.  If you master this tip try reusing containers in the bulk section.  For example I have a plastic container for liquid amino's that I wash when it runs out and then refill at the store.  I also use fabric bags for my produce and dried bulk foods.  You can bring your own glass container for things like flour/sugar but remember to bring it to the cashier to weigh before you fill it. Master that and you are one hard core green super hero!

Ever heard of DIY? Do it yourself is what it means. Instead of buying prepackaged foods you just add water to how about making it yourself?  Google what ever you want to make and find any recipe for any meal.  Not only will you save money but you will also keep preservatives, BPA and plastic out of your food and body. Woot! You simply cannot go wrong with homemade. 

Think you can master these simple tips? Then be hard core and enjoy these helpful tips from my older post and fellow bloggers. You can thank me later!

Lisa Sharp from Retro housewife Goes Green has some money saving food tips, homemade shower spray, homemade chocolate syrup and she can even save you money on your period

Amity Hook-Sopko from Green Gifts Guide has a great post on planning your holiday with less stress.  Look for her Holiday Budget Worksheet!

I also have another great post on steps to stop throwing your money away. It's packed with things you need to stop buying and I share with you so many things you can make yourself. 

You might also enjoy these:

DIY Mint Tea
DIY Chai Tea
DIY Banana Carrot Muffins
DIY Ketchup
DIY Beans
DIY Liquid Laundry Soap
Pack a waste free lunch

Save on your energy bill by heading over to The Crunchy Chicken or sign  up for her Freeze Yer Buns Challenge on Facebook. I do this every year!

Good Girl Gone Green shows you how to use your water responsibly and how to conserve water. She also has a great post about 10+ ways you can conserve energy.  See you can save money just about anywhere!

Condo Blues has a whole section on reducing your household energy up to 15%. Now thats sweet savings!

Make sure to come back and visit this page. I will continue to add on links as my amazing blogger friends share them with me. Saving $$ can be fun and its a never ending process.  Even I still learn new ways!

I just wrote a great post on gathering Free and Frugal Firewood.

Celebrate Green Blog helps you cut back on food waste.

Jen and Joey Go Green-
Water Conservation
Energy Conservation
Stopping those household drafts

naturemomsblog with 30 ways to save money, conserve energy and stay warm this winter.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Just another day

Hi, my name is Riley and I'm addicted to anything that smells good. I also have secret thumbs that my owners have yet to find. This weekend I opened up 2 glass jars of food when my owners were gone. This is where the secret thumbs come in handy he he he.  One jar was full of corn meal but was pretty empty so I couldn't get to the corn meal with my tongue. But the other jar was full of sunflower seeds and I was able to get a tasty treat for myself. True my owners couldn't eat the sunflower seeds with all my slobber in it.Your welcome chickens!   But hey it was worth it right? Well not so much. Now for some reason my owners kept me out of the main part of the house. Apparently they don't like the smell of my farts.
The end.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Beans, barley and bacon soup

What you will need
1 lb Beans of your choice (soaked over night)
4-5 slices of thick nitrate free bacon
1 cup Barley
1/2 Medium onion chopped
1 tsp Salt

Serves 6

Night before:
Soak your beans in water over night.
Next day:
Chop bacon into small pieces and cook on medium heat.  Toss in chopped onion and cook both till crispy. Toss in those beans, barley and salt.  Add enough water to cover all ingredients.  Bring to a boil then reduce to low and cover. Cook on low for 1-1.5 hours. Done!

Additional notes: I used a smoke salt which added a great smoke flavor to the soup.  The beans I used were white canellini beans because they have a wonderful smooth texture in the soup.  We like to add a dollop of sour cream to our soup when served. Just adds a nice creamy flavor to the soup. If your cutting back on fat you can drain the fat off the bacon. I like the flavor so I leave it in. By all means use this recipe as you will.  Add in anything you love. This is just the basic recipe and you can alter it anyway you like. Use what you have, use seasonal items and you will enjoy the savings along with the soup. Enjoy!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Natural Earth Paint Review

I feel pretty lucky to be able to review this amazing companies products. It's one of those I know someone who knows someone type of things. Gotta love blogging! I was super excited because this is a Oregon company that is local to me. Woot! Leah and Drew one day I would love to meet you one day (and little Django!). What a fantastic life story you two have. I have a feeling this Capricorn would get along with you two perfectly.
" An organic, Eco-friendly paint kit made from natural earth pigments (pure clay). The naturally colored clay was collected from the ground, dried, crushed and sifted into pure pigment. Mix water with these six powdered colors to create a creamy paint similar to tempera or add more water to create a watercolor effect. Earth Paints are different from other children’s paint in that they are high quality, rich, vibrant paints that are free of fillers and preservatives. They are perfect for adults to create quality works of art as well on paper, stones, fabric, canvas or wood." You get that? pure clay and milk powder. That's it. Seriously how cool is that? Mega cool!
This is what the box contains. 6 packs of pure clay/milk powder in different colors and 6 Greenware cups made from plants not petroleum.  Plus a great little pamphlet with information about the company and even some craft ideas. This is the Children's Earth Paint Kit Petite.
Instructions state 1 tsp powder to 1 tsp of water. Perfect consistency for our project.  We used room temperature water and it mixed up just fine.  Paint has a light smell of powdered milk which we enjoyed.
I asked my girls to draw the base of a tree in black or dark brown with the idea of using their fingers to paint leaves on the trees.  Fall is my favorite time of the year and I love my girls Fall artwork on our walls.  What started off with 2 girls ended up involving all 4 of my girls. Not only did my 7 year old twins love it but even my 11 and 14 year old daughters enjoyed it. Gotta love that!


My girls went to work adding leaves of all colors.  Each time they switched a color they washed their hands. They said they barely had to wash them and there was no struggle to get the paint off their hands. With acrylic paint it was a issue of getting it off and cleaning the sink quickly so they paint didn't stain the sink. Not with this paint!

You could easily use paint brushes but I thought the ultimate test would be fingers.  This way you would know how easy it would be to clean your hands.  Here you can see I covered our table with yellow paper so clean up was easy. But the girls did get some on the bathroom counter and it cleaned up super easy with no staining. 

And here is the end result.  See that smile? There you have a happy camper. Need I say more? Just a little more! I would recommend this paint to anyone with children. Heck I would recommend this paint to anyone. They not only sell children's water soluble paint but they also sell a larger Children's Earth paint Kit which is a bit larger and a Earth Oil Paint Kit. They even ship International orders. Best of all my kids loved this product and project.  They are already thinking of their next project to use these paints on.  Here are a few things going for this company.
Shipped in a cardboard box with no plastic on the inside. There was plastic tape on the outside but that is my fault for not asking for paper tape. Something I need to work on.
Non toxic paint that will last forever. When you mix the paint you have a week to use it up because it has milk powder in it.
Earth tone colors that can easily be mixed to make new colors. These colors are so bold and beautiful.
Super easy to clean up with soap and water. This is a must when kids are involved.
Oregon residents this is a LOCAL company!!!!!
At $19.95 its not going to break the bank. Remember these have a long shelf life when in powder form.
Run out of a color or need the oil? Simply order a individual color online!
You can ask questions anytime with no problem.
Now head on over to Natural Earth Paint and check them out for yourself. Don't forget that the holidays are coming and this would be a perfect gift to any family with kids or that artist who loves to paint. Go!
Note: I was sent this kit for free and I am not getting paid one penny to review this product. This is my personal opinion and I was not influenced by the company to give a good review.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Corn, chili & chorizo soup

Serves 4

1 tbsp oil
2 onions, chopped
1 lb corn kernels
2 1/2 cups chicken stock (sub with any stock)
2 cups milk
4 chipolte chili seeded finely chopped (optional)
2 cloves of garlic chopped
2 links of chorizo sausage
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp fresh cilantro

Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottom saucepan.  Add the onions and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until softened.  Stir in the corn, cover and cook for an additional 3 minutes.

Add the stock, half the milk, the chile's, and garlic and season with salt.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, then cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Stir in the remaining milk.  Set aside about 3/4 of the soup solids, draining off as much liquid as possible.  Transfer the remaining soup to a food processor or blender and process to a course puree. 

Return the soup to the pan and stir in the reserved soup solids, the chorizo, lime juice, and cilantro.  Reheat to the simmering point, stirring continuously.  Ladle into warmed bowls and serve at once. 

My notes: I used 1 pint of my tomato sauce and one of my roasted tomatoes for the stock.  I tossed in some roasted pork left overs along with pork sausage I had on hand. I didn't have any chorizo. Whats great about this recipe is that you can sub just about anything.  We like to crush tortilla chips on top, add some fresh tomatoes for that fresh added flavor and then a dollop of sour cream of course. 


From the cook book-Soup Bowl by Love Food.Parragon Books Ltd 2008

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Fall cleaning

As most of you know my washer (in the picture) has completely died on me. My husband gave me heads up on a friend coming over to take my dead washer and replace it with a used working one.  Thank goodness he called me because my laundry room was a disaster.  After 30 minutes its clean as a whistle! I just cleaned up the floor, swept and dusted. The washer and dryer came back to their "new" look with only vinegar and water sprayed on them.  Smells nice and clean now. Woot! See that ugly floor? Yeah its in my kitchen as well. Um 1977 called and wants their flooring back! One day...one day....for now it hides our dirt very nice.
This room looked like a bomb went off in it. A bomb in the size of two cute little 7 year old.girls...How can such small little girls make such a HUGE mess? This room took me 3 hours to clean with the help of my oldest daughter. We packed away all summer clothes and unpacked all their winter clothes. Organized all their Barbie stuff, Littlest Pet Shop stuff and their Polly Pocket stuff into separate containers.  This wonderful organizing unit you see here isn't as wonderful as it looks. Previous owners installed it and I'm pretty sure they didn't have any idea how to do it right.  It's not level and shelves constantly fall our.  That tacky wallpaper and this organizer will be gone one day. Hopefully its my next project. For now I'm just happy its organized. Woot!
This beauty took me 2 hours today.  It also was hit by the twin bomb. I had to empty my recycling bin 3 times just to clean this out.  Organized all the art supplies and washed down the table. Paper on it helps it look nice. The seating area has lots of storage so I keep the girls paper in there.  Years ago we saved money up for this table set.  We took it home, built it and stained it ourselves.  Can you believe all 6 of us ate at this table every single day?  There is no way we would fit in it now.  Perfect for our girls to use in the art room.  I say art room but its actually my kitchen dining area that we don't eat in. We have a more formal dining room with a much bigger table to eat at.  And then you have that ugly flooring again. I sweep and mop it and it still looks like that.
Well there you have my exciting day. I didn't spend any money and I didn't use any chemicals at all.  Just elbow grease and good old vinegar.  As you can see we don't have brand new furniture and our house is rather old. But I think we have the best house in the world.  I hand picked everything that someone else had loved.  We do 99% of our handy work ourselves. And were proud of what we have.  Well except for that butt ugly flooring.