Tuesday, April 30, 2013

2nd Hand Treasures

I've seen these before but cannot remember where. Maybe New Seasons? I wanted them so bad but couldn't afford to buy them. I walk by them with a sad face. But then I was in my local Goodwill and came across these. I'm not sure if they were dishes for your kitchen but I knew they would be perfect for my bathroom.  One for soap, one for tooth brushes and the dish with a lid would be perfect for my organic cotton balls.

I had a soap dish and tooth brush holder but they were falling apart and the dish was too big for my small sink. I happily brought these home to live in my bathroom.

I paid $12.00 total for all 3 pieces. These are handmade and I would of spent easily over $50.00 for them brand new. Money well spent if you ask me. I would much rather fill my home with handmade goods than manufactured cookie cutter goods.

As a bonus I took them home with no packaging or plastic involved. Just paid for them and walked out with them in my hands. Swoon!

Note-One has a capital letter A on the bottom so if you know what that means or maybe who made these please send me a email at survivingandthrivingonpennies@yahoo.com . I would love to give credit where credit is due. Thank you.

Dairy Free Diary

Well it's been a whole since I have updated you. I'm still avoiding dairy and coming up with alternatives like a pro. But I'm also finding rough spots along my journey.

The bad-I recently lost a beloved friend of mine. I was heart broken and grieving. I had a few bumps in the road that included a few ice cream cones and a slice of pizza. My stomach hated me. Gassy and stomach ache from hell. From now on I must resist the urge to go back to my old ways.

The good- I'm finding I don't miss the dairy. Cheese is heaven or so i thought. I do keep a tiny bit of shredded cheese in the fridge for my girls. Honestly they rarely use it.

Another good thing-I ran out of non dairy butter last night by using it in some oatmeal cookies. So this morning my usual toast wasn't so usual. Instead of butter I used coconut oil and then a thin layer of peanut butter. Oh my gosh was it heaven. And no it didn't taste like coconut.

Until next time....

Saturday, April 27, 2013

April Food Budget $167.06

I decided to add this grocery bill to April because I ordered it in April. It won't be shipped till next week though. I order from Azure Standard  about once a month because it has excellent prices and large sizes of food. Here is what I ordered this time.

CodeProduct NameSizeQty OrderedPriceTotal
HS221Oregon Spice Tomato Powder, Dehydrated1 lb.1$10.50$10.50
HS592Oregon Spice Cinnamon, Ground, Organic1 lb.1$5.90$5.90
EO075Nature's Alchemy Peppermint0.5 oz.1$4.90$4.90
QP018Fresh Produce Onions, Yellow, Organic3 lbs.1$3.50$3.50
GY948Oregon Seafoods Albacore Tuna, Food Service Pouch4 lbs.1$39.15$39.15
HS217Oregon Spice Taco Seasoning Mix1 lb.1$6.35$6.35
QP324Fresh Produce Fresh Garlic, Organic1 lb.1$5.00$5.00
Estimated Total: $75.30

Tomato Powder-I am completely out of tomato sauce that I froze from last summer.  This year I will need to grow more tomatoes so I will not have to order this anymore.  I use tomato powder anytime I need to add a tomato taste to our food. Usually in mexican food. I find that it makes the dishes more moist.

Cinnamon-My girls LOVE cinnamon in their oatmeal or on their toast. I pay over $10 if I buy it locally from the bulk section. Here it's just about half that price. Just need to remember to order it and not over pay next time.

Peppermint Oil-I have been out of this oil for a long time. I use this oil in so many things from dog shampoo(keeps fleas at bay), candles and even for headaches. Its essential! In the stores I would pay over $10 so this is a great price. Again just need to remember to order it.

Organic yellow onions-I had to buy some from Whole Foods yesterday and they are $3.99 there. Here I can save 50 cents. Yes a tiny bit of money but hey it adds up to a big total later and then I feel bad. No more forgetting to order!

Albacore Tuna-My husband buys canned tuna from the stores and pays about .80 cents a can. Did I mention BPA laced cans? Yeah its horrible. So this is a test. Buying in large quantities and separating into smaller containers. This way we avoid BPA and avoid excess packaging.

Taco Seasoning-We love mexican food and cook it often. If I were to buy all these spices separately it would cost me at least $10 per pound.  Here Azure has the same spices already put together and for only a little over $6 per lb. This stuff is so good! It's not organic but its not filled with preservatives and has way less packaging than if I ordered packets. Win win if you ask me.

Organic garlic-I can find this locally at Whole Foods but it cost me $7.99 per pound. Here I pay $5. Yes $2 difference but hey its $2 and that adds up.

One thing I wanted to note as well is that when I order from Azure its free shipping (our total order for all families have to be over $750 to get free shipping making each of us having to order at least $50 to do this). Remember this when you decide to shop online. Most people forget about this small detail. Yes you might have picked a great deal on food but if your paying for shipping you have to add that in your total as well.  Make sure you remember this small detail.

These pennies that I save don't seem like a lot.  But when you add them up over time they make a big difference.

Check them out, call customer service & see if they deliver in your area

Grocery Outlet 
Adams Organic Peanut Butter $29.88
Coconut Organic Half n half $3.99
Coconut Milk $3.99

Total $37.86

Peanut butter-I didn't need any peanut butter but this was an excellent deal. These retail $5.00 each making these half the price. I can't even make my own peanut butter for that price. Plus these are glass jars with metal lids that I can reuse. Woot! 

Friday, April 26, 2013

April Food Budget $53.90

Life handed me a few things to deal with so I wasn't able to write much or share my food budget. But as promised I brought it back. My goal is to not necessarily focus on how much I'm spending but just keeping track of what I am buying and how I can improve it. Every little bit counts!

Yes yes yes I know I have a fancy new bread machine. I have no excuse at all . Well except that time is something I don't have much of. That's still no excuse. If I made my own I could avoid all this plastic. Anyone have any good tips on what to do with bread bags besides recycle them? I'd love to hear your tips!

I have a Franz Bread Outlet store a few miles from me and this is why I bought these. They have amazing prices and one good thing about bread is that you can freeze it. Here I bought 10 loaves of bread for $12 plus when you spend a certain amount of money they let you take a few for free. Today they let me take 3. Thats 13 items for $12. I make 4 sandwiches each day in my girls lunches.  Plus they sometimes have toast for breakfast and they LOVE sourdough toast. This should last us for a while. With these prices I don't go broke.
Total $12.00

Whole Foods

Organic chard 2/$3
Organic onions $3.99
Bell peppers $2.99
Flax milk $3.99
Liquid Aminos $3.99
Organic chicken breast on bone on sale $4.99 per lb. 
Each paper wrapped chicken is about $3.99
Chicken $23.94

Total $41.90

Grand total for today $53.90

Peppers-Individual bell peppers are 2/$5. With such a price difference I sent ahead and bought the ones wrapped in plastic. I know it bugs the crud out of me. Thats a $2 price difference though. So I will just suck it up and be annoyed.

Onions-Again bulk onions are $2 or more per pound.  I would be spending a good $10 for the same amount of onions. Annoyed by the packaging but again I will suck it up. My friend Beth wouldn't be happy with me. Sorry Beth!!!! 

Chicken-My husband is on this food diet which includes lots of protein. These are for him only. 2 weeks ago he paid $5.99 a pound for organic chicken from Costco. Were saving $1 per pound buying it from Whole Foods and no plastic packaging. Woot! 

I'm still eating through all the meat I bought and put in the freezer. Using up what we have before I buy anymore. Of course if I come upon a great seasonal deal I will buy some & freeze it. This is how I save $$. Its a process but its well worth it when you save as much money as I have. 

Im feeling pretty good about my purchases except for the plastic. As time goes I plan on perfecting this and growing as much food as I can to avoid plastic all together.  I'm still learning just like all of you. Lets do this together. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

In the frugal garden 2013

Things are finally looking good in the garden. When I first bought this house it really didn't have any garden at all.  A few random garden beds made of pressure treated wood and a ton of bulb plants in random places. I quickly took those beds out and spent a year taking out anything toxic, fixing the fences and getting organic soil in there. It seemed so overwhelming and I thought it would be a expensive process. Boy was I wrong. When we do everything ourselves we save a bundle of money. We also were given many things for free.  Little by little we made our foot print on this home.

This galvanized bucket I found at my grandmother's farmhouse.  She had these buried half way into the ground and filled them with sandy dirt. I imagine she kept her carrots and potatoes in them. For Christmas my daughter made me this cedar planter box. She took a industrial arts class & each project she had to do she made each of us a gift. She such a good thoughtful daughter.  These plants I started from seed or were given to me. I just transplanted them into these pots and put them by my door. I didn't want to plant edible plants in the galvanized bucket because its white stuff on the outside. It can be toxic from what I read so for now its just holding pretty flower plants. I did line the bucket with garden plastic (ack I know!) but again Im not eating anything from this bucket.

My neighbor Christy had this plant in her front yard but it wasn't doing to good. She gave me it and it now grows near my front door. When I'm buying plants I usually pick things that give me something in return. This usually means it had to be edible or it doesn't make the cut. So when people ask me if I want a free plant I usually take them up on the offer. I really do love this plant now. Its growing on me.

My peas are finally up and grabbing onto the tee pee I built. It's just a matter of time before you cannot see the bamboo poles. Inside I planted some chard that I found in my green house.  It somehow survived all winter long with no water. They have been in here for about a month and doubled in size. Hmmm maybe I will do the same this year. I bought a 32 pack of geraniums over the weekend so I tossed one of those in there for extra color. They are all red & I can't wait to see them all in bloom.
Ive shared this before but felt the need to do it again.  This is a old ladder that was my grandfather's. I found it out in the open on their property. I was going to hand it on the wall & make it into a bookshelf but instead I will use it out here until it will not stand anymore. It looks really pretty along my fence holding some herbs. I would love to find some little animal or garden gnomes.

Another large tee pee I built a few weeks ago. My beans are finally peeking out but I also planted some over the weekend. So when the first batch are done growing I will have another batch coming along shortly after.  First round is Valentine Black Beans and the second is Scarlet. My strawberry patch is growing right along side. What you cannot see is the corn I planted all along this wall.  I get lots of sun and the corn will shade this area nicely. My girls rooms get really hot and this should keep them much cooler.

Last year I planted some cabbage and it never really grew. Instead of pulling everything from this area I just left it. Well this week they flowered so my girls get to eat the pretty yellow flowers. Its pretty cute to watch them do it. Yes you can eat the flowers of any cabbage or broccoli plants. Actually lots of things can be eaten when flowering. Do your research first though :)  That birdbath was my grandmother's as well.  Doesn't hold water but it sure looks good with hens n chicks. 

So as you can see it doesn't cost much to have a garden. It also takes time to do things. Just be patient and have fun with it. Oh and never refuse a plant unless its a nasty plant that will spread and choke your other plants. Just be wise when it comes to ground cover. Currently Im digging out a ground cover that smothered my mint patch. UUURRRR!!! I will share pictures as soon as I complete that project.  

Go get out in the garden. I mean it. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Bog Berry dryer balls Review

Handcrafted, Eco-friendly alternative to dryer sheets. 

These beautiful wool dryer balls are made with a core of freshly carded wool batting from a family farm in Lancaster County, PA. The colored sets are made with additional wool purchased from a small, Eco-friendly company in Maine.  Lucky me I was able to connect with Brooke Petry and she sent me a set of these to review for free. Let me just say I was gitty from the get go! 

Whats to love about dryer balls?

-Eco friendly alternative to dryer sheets. Stop using those toxic filled softeners today!

-Biodegradable. Once done with these you can let your kids/animals play with them. Once they are falling apart simply toss them in your compost bin. Can you say zero waste? Sweet!

-Chemical Free-Did you know that softeners contain toxic chemicals? Read about it here. Better yet do the research yourself and get informed.

-Energy Savers. I normally line dry my clothes in nice weather but when I cannot I only use these. They have cut my dryer time by 10 minutes. Those minutes add up and have saved me so much energy and money.

-Softens clothes while reducing wrinkles and static. 

-Great for scenting your drawers and closets. Simply take a wool ball and add a few drops of your favorite essential oils. Then place anywhere you need some added freshness.  You can also do this and toss them in your dryer! 

-Decorative. When not using (in nice weather like in my case) you can simply put these in a pretty bowl and set out anywhere to decorate. What a beautiful sight of colors and texture it is! 

How do you use them? Simply toss them in with your clean wet laundry into the dryer. Turn the dryer on. Done. 

Review-I have tried as many Eco friendly alternatives I can get my hands on. From making my own liquid softener, using tennis balls (NEVER AGAIN STINK!!!), aluminum foil balls (waste of time did nothing) and simply just went commando after all those. That is until I found these. Ive been using them for 3 weeks now with great results.  I have less static and my dryer time has been cut by 10 minutes per load.  
Each time I unload my dryer I toss the clothes/balls on the floor in my living room. While I fold my daughters/husband find this time great for throwing balls at each other.  They don't hurt anyone and frankly its just fun for them. Not fun for me when I get tagged but at least it doesn't hurt lol.  

Would I recommend these? Yes because they have lots of uses making my money go further.  No waste what so ever and completely biodegradable. Whats not to love about that?  Worth every penny and would make a perfect gift for anyone. I'm falling more and more in love with these.  I really wish this company was local to me but that's the only con I can come up with.  

Go get them and tell them I sent you. You can thank me later.

Need more proof? Check out this great review from The Greening of Westford.

Brooke Petry sent me these for free to review. I am not getting paid one cent for any of my opinions on this blog.  I'm a non profit blogger who does this in her free time and gives her honest opinion.  Basically what I am saying is you can trust my opinion because I'm not getting anything out of this except for some free wool balls. Sweet amazing free balls.

Now go get some!
Have questions about these? 
Email  Brooke at brooke@bogberrydryerballs.com 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

DIY Tapioca

My children are in love with warm homemade tapioca. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do. 


1/3 Cup Tapioca
3/4 Cup Water
2 1/4 Cups 2% Milk (I use coconut milk use what you like)
1/4 tsp Salt
2 Eggs, seperated
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 tsp Vanilla

Soak small pearl tapioca in water for 30 minutes in a 1 1/2 quart saucepan.  Add milk, salt and lightly beaten egg yolks to tapioca and stir over medium heat until boiling. Simmer uncovered over very low heat for 10-15 minutes.  
Stir often.  Beat egg whites with sugar until soft peeks form.  Fold about 3/4 cup of hot tapioca into the egg whites, then gently fold mixture back into saucepan.  Stir over low heat for about 3 minutes.  Cool 15 minutes then add vanilla.  
Served warm or chilled, plain or with nutmeg/cinnamon or coconut mixed in. Makes 3 1/2 cups.


Monday, April 1, 2013

Old School Chef New School Technology

I admit it. I'm old fashion when it comes to cooking and kitchen tools. I do own a food processor only because we were able to get it free with frequent flyer miles.  I do own a bread machine but thats because I suck at making bread.  Now that I think of it we have more recent kitchen appliances that I would like to admit. But honestly I don't use them all.  

I have always been a old fashion kinda girl.  Memories of watching all the adult women in the kitchen at my grandmothers preparing meals flood my brain.  My favorite memory is my grandma Mary cutting pasta by hand. Those were the best thick noodles ever. I can still taste them!  So when my grandma Mary passed away I knew what I wanted from her house. All her kitchen tools and garden tools. From her kitchen timer that doesn't work at all but ticks, her beautiful green creamy glass bowl, all her cast iron pans/pots and even her metal and wooden hand mixer.  

So this morning when I went to peel 2 organic potatoes to make fried potatoes it dawned on me. I have a slicer blade on my food processor. Took me a minute to figure out how to use it but I did. Then 2 seconds later my 2 potatoes were sliced. I was amazed. Part of me wanted to slice them by hand which would of taken me a good 5 minutes. I can tell its going to be a love hate relationship. Takes energy to use my food processor. Not only that but it will take water to wash my food processor.  If I cut them by hand it takes no energy or water. Hmmm time to ponder........I came up with a decision. I will peel by hand when its just a potato or two. If I need to cut a whole bunch up the food processor is coming out. 

Part of me wants to live in the past.  Part of me wants to save the world and use only things with elbow power.  Then the other part of me ( the cooking wife part) wants help getting meals out faster. Luckily because I hate plastic so much I don't  buy many kitchen gadgets at all.  Now days just about everything is made of or partly made of plastic. Yeah cheap now but in the long run they will break and eventually have to be replaced.  I look for mine in thrift shops. I can usually find older things made well and for cheap!

So whose with me here?
 Anyone else out there stuck in the past kitchen? 
How do you get around buying things plastic-free?
Are you a old school or a new technology chef?