Monday, December 23, 2013

DIY Organic Buckwheat Pillow

I have been searching for a comfortable pillow for a few years now. Each time I find a new type of pillow I get discouraged.  Have you seen the prices of these pillows? From down to foam shaped these things can cost you anywhere from $30-$100 or more. Really hard to commit to buying something that you may or may not be comfortable with.  It wasn't until I stumbled upon a bag of organic buckwheat that I thought I might be able to afford such a luxury pillow.  Here's what I ended up doing.

DIY Organic Buckwheat Husk Pillow

What you will need:

Sewing machine or needle and thread

Pillowcase the size you like to sleep with. A thicker cotton one would work best. Use one you have already to save you money.   To make this easier you can buy a zippered pillowcase and simply fill it.  But this will add more cost to this project. 

6-7 bags of organic buckwheat husk. Found mine at Natural Grocers for a little over a buck a bag. Really would love to find them plastic free but this will have to do.

Dried lavender is optional. I grew my own and dried it just for this purpose.

Directions: Sew your pillowcase shut except for about 2-3 inches.  Fill the pillowcase with your buckwheat husk. Remember to add any herbs you would like into it before sewing it shut.  No stems so they don't poke through the pillowcase. I would test your pillow a few times to make sure you have just enough buckwheat husk and not too much.  You will want a little wiggle room to adjust the pillow as you would any pillow. To get the husk into the pillow I made a funnel out of paper and taped it so it wouldn't fall out. Once filled just simply sew the pillowcase shut.  

This pillowcase should last you over 10 years of use.  If it needs more husk simply take a seam ripper to it and add more.  Then simply sew it shut again.  Or if you are using a zippered pillowcase simply unzip and add as much as you want then zip it back up.  

If you need a "How To" video good old Martha has some here.  

Why even use a buckwheat husk pillow?
Buckwheat husk support your head and neck during the night.  Your weight of your head doesn't squeeze the air from the husk and the height of your head doesn't change at all.  No more neck pain or waking up to adjust your pillow.  Buckwheat hulls are temperate.  That means they do not take on heat or cold.  

This project cost me maybe $10.00 to make. I used a pillowcase I already owned that I know has never been exposed to bleach or chemicals.  Ive slept on it so many times so I know its comfortable.  I also grew, picked and dried my own lavender.  You can find dried lavender in the bulk tea section now days but will also add to the cost of this project.  You probably could save on the buckwheat husk by finding some non organic but these are the only ones I have ever seen where I live.  I'm willing to pay the cost for organic because I will be sleeping on this each and every single night.  

Note:Ive yet to sleep on this so I cannot tell you whether its comfortable or not. But I will update as soon as I test this out.  Peace

UPDATE: 1/01/14
Ive been sleeping with this pillow for a week now and so far I'm loving it.  I thought for sure I would hear a crunchy sound but nope. Well I should say only when I move the pillow around with my hand.  I added lavender to mine and get a lovely light smell of it each night.  Other than being crazy heavy I can't think of a negative thing about it. I'm forever changed by this pillow. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Green Review-Pumpkin Doodle It's Hip To Be Green Shirt

I'm a sucker for a shirt with a message.  I even have them made for myself.  My favorite shirt I ever made for myself says "I'm Green Suck It! ". It gets my point across which is my favorite part.  But look at this shirt. Seriously cute! Brown is a favorite color of mine and frankly it really is hip to be green.  

Lucky me Lisa from Pumpkin Doodle gave me one of my very own for free.   Lucky lucky girl! All I had to do was review it.  Lucky for them I love reviewing products for Eco friendly companies.  

Details:  This ultra fine combed jersey is fitted to a stylish look.  Don't you hate when you order a shirt and when it comes you realize its a unisex fit? Because you know when it says "unisex" it really means little boy fit. And there is nothing cute about that except for when a little boy wears it.  Well this one is the perfect fit for any woman. Super soft and I just love the green. 

Ive been wearing it for a few weeks now.  A few people have asked me where I bought it which I shared with them.  Ive had many "Cute shirt!" and even a "That shirts awesome.".  See why I love shirts with a message? I LOVE THIS SHIRT!!!!! This shirt also comes in chocolate(brown), pink, hot pink and purple. I'm kind of a plain Jane so black is good for me. But hey if you like to be out there then go ahead and get one of their beautiful colored ones. The lettering is smooth which is a bonus if you ask me. You know those shirts with lettering that are old and peeling off? No issues with that on this shirt. 

Shirt retails for $30 which is a great price. Have you seen the prices on shirts these days? I mean really. $100 for a cotton shirt.  $100? Your crazy.  $30 is a grew price and this shirt would make a perfect gift to your Eco chic friend or family member. 

But wait…it doesn't end here! If you order within 10 minutes I'll throw in a complimentary…, no I won't.  But I will share something else cool about Pumpkin Doodle.  

They sell organic clothes, body care products, bedding, beds and even art supplies. 
SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!!! Seriously its cold outside. 

I have set up a convenient wish list here for you to check out. Take a peek and see why I'm really loving Pumpkin Doodle. Note to family…hint hint

Organic Cotton Comforter Premium Eco Wool Filling 

Queen size please :)

Wool wrapped latex pillow

That one's for me & only me!

Yala® Women's Sophie Wrap

Light blue or mushroom size small please :)

That's not asking a lot is it? Every girl needs a wish list. Can you tell I love my bed? More importantly I love my sleep! 

Now lets talk about this amazing company.  Not only do they use green practices in their office but they also use wind powder for hosting. Cool.  They grow vegetables, use Eco friendly cleaners and not only  use non VOC paint but also reuse, recycle, repair and redesign at their office & homes. WAY cool.  They do so much more which you can read here. Now that's a green company!

Have a question? Need to contact them? Go to their contact page and ask away. Customer service is excellent! 

Don't forget to follow them on Twitter and Facebook

Last but not least….

Peace all! 

Note:This shirt was sent to me for free in exchange for a review. I'm not getting paid for any of my reviews or opinions.  If I say I like it then I really like it.  No fooling anyone here. I give my honest opinion always. I also don't review anything that comes my way. I'm very picky which is a bonus for you. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

20 Frugal But Thoughtful Gifts For Kids To Give Or Get

Don't let holiday gift giving stress you out. Here are a few ideas you use to make your little ones Christmas day even better.  I searched and searched the Internet and this is what I found.  Enjoy!

1. Bean bags-These are pretty simple to make. Just need some fabric and beans. No beans? Just use any dried food such as rice, lentils etc.  Use fabric you salvaged from something you don't wear anymore or maybe ask friends and family if they have extra fabric they want to give away.  Kids love bean bags. A friend of mine (thanks Brooke!) made my girls each a set and they continue to use them to this day. Mostly for barbie pillows.  Silly girls.

Better yet how about a lavender sachet or warmer?

2.  Crayons Upcycled.  Simply melt down crayons into candy molds.  Cool down and pop out. Perfect for toddlers!

3.  Homemade play dough is always a good gift!

4.  Fun soap. Most craft stores carry glycerin soap in 1 lb squares.  You simply cut up the soap, melt in the microwave and pour into soap bar molds. The fun part is when you add a small toy into the soap mold. Kids have to wash to get to the soap.  Have glycerin soap at home? Cut that up and melt it. This should save you some cash by using what you have.  Or if you have older kids just add some rope and make soap on a rope. Remember those? Ahhh the Avon days.

5.  Homemade bubble bath is simple to make.

6.  Bath finger paint is perfect for little ones. Heck even I would like it.

7.  Sweater Mittens take a little bit of work but could be given to any child of any age.  I think I just make myself a pair too!

8.Mason Jar Sewing Kit for someone who loves to sew. You can use a mason jar you have (or any glass jar with a wide lid) and some fabric scraps.  Need filling? Open up a old pillow you don't use and reuse the stuffing.

9.  Grippy socks for that toddler who doesn't slow down.  I made these for my oldest when she was small.  Super easy and very cheap especially if you have everything in your craft supplies anyways.

10.  Hobby Horse looks so easy to make. You should have most materials as well.  Wish this was around when my girls were younger!

11.  Felt Cookies would be a very low cost gift.  Perfect for any child who loves to play with pretend food.  Maybe a gift your little one can make for a sibling.

12.  Brown Sugar Body Scrub would be easy for any child to make for anyone any age.

13.  Gift Coupon Book that you could make for free using what you have. Instead of a metal hoop just use ribbon or string.  Super easy for kids to make these!

14.  Twig Star Ornament is something I want to make with my girls. This is such a easy thing to do and free if you have trees near you.

15.  Want to bake something?  Cookies-who doesn't love cookies???

16.  Cocoa in a mug-simply buy a $1 box of cocoa packets and put them into mugs. You can find Christmas mugs for $1 or less in thrift shops. Watch for 1/2 price tags! Or head over to a dollar tree/store and pick a few up.

17.  Write a story-Kids love to write stories so let them write it and add illustrations.  This could be a free gift idea if you use what you have.

18.  Reuse a old frame to make a new one. Kids love to glue noodles to frames then paint or color them when dry.  Add a favorite photo and done!

19.  DIY bubble bath.  Take some shampoo and pour into a small container.  You can use a mason jar and have the kids decorate the outside with a paper lane.  Add essential oils that you know they like.

20.  Sugar Hand Scrub-Get a mason jar, fill with sugar (or salt which ever you have), add olive oil and add some essential oils you think they would like. Mix well and make a label.

Now go and get creative!!! Try to reuse things and bring out the recycle bin because you never know what the kids will end up using from it.  And as always have fun!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Eating The Savings Literally

Christmas is like tomorrow. Well not really but might as well be. I mean seriously its in 20 days. AAAAHHHHH!!!!!! Take a deep breath and read my words.  There's still hope. There's still time to save money. Phew! The easiest and fastest way to save money is on your food budget.  And no your not going to cut back and starve. Promise.  Okay lets do this.

Saving on grocery budget

Free food.  Is there such a thing? Yes there is.  Just make it known to family, friends and neighbors that you will take any surplus from their gardens.  Be sure to do the same for them when your garden is growing well.  Wild food can be foraged.  This summer I picked wild raspberries and made jelly with them.  You can barter as well!  Get creative!

Grow a garden. Don't give me the excuse you have a black thumb. Been there done that. Yep even I thought I had a black thumb. Now days you can buy plants already started and even have produce on them.  Cheapest route is to buy seeds and start them inside your home.  Don't have patience? Fine spend more on larger plants. I find that cheating but that's just me.

Seasonal foods are your best friend.  You will always save money when you buy whats in season. For example Fall means pumpkins, cinnamon, turkey and cranberries.  These things are cheaper in the Fall and make your money go way further.  I buy 3 turkeys each year and put them into my freezer.  One for Thanksgiving at my home, one for Christmas day and one for us to cook and stretch for meals.  At 99 cents a pound I can afford to buy a lot and save a lot.  Summer means cheap fresh corn.  Simply cook it half way cut off the corn and freeze in bags. Now you have corn all year long.  See where I'm going here? Oh and don't forget that pumpkins can be used as decorations until you use them.   They last months in your home! I buy lots so we can have pumpkin sausage soup for months.

Preserve everything.  Canning can be cheap if you do it right. Buy 2nd hand mason jars and new lids.  Use a large stock pot.  After ten plus years of gardening I finally have a pressure cooker.  Don't have a dehydrator? Use your oven.  You think our ancestors had them? Research old ways and do it.  Don't forget you can freeze things too!

Don't waste anything!!! Each day I make my girls lunches.  There is always fruit peelings or seeds which I give to my chickens.  Then each day my girls come home and in their lunches is always their bread crust.  To the chickens they go.  Any bones go to the dog.  Egg shells get baked till dry and mixed in my chicken feed.  Seeds from bread bags go to the chicken feed.  All vegetable scraps go in to the freezer till I have enough to make a broth. Simply boil these scraps in water for 30 minutes and you have free broth.  Bones area also made into broth.  You get the idea. Nothing goes to waste!

Keep track of prices. I can't remember what I did yesterday but I can tell you exactly how much I paid for something 6 months ago. I don't get it but it works for me.  Some need to have a book with current prices of all the stores they shop at.  Whatever works for you do it.  Little bit adds up to big savings!

Bulk bulk bulk baby! Don't just go down the aisle for something you need. Hit up your bulk section to compare prices. Most the time bulk section is cheaper. But always check. Ive had to buy packaged a few times because it was cheaper.  Better yet buy a whole bag or case. Whole Foods gives you 10% off if you buy a case.  Winco sells bulk foods in 25 & 50 lb bags that are usually cheaper than just buying a few pounds.  RESEARCH! If you find a excellent sale buy as much as you possibly can. Example-I buy coconut creamer because we are dairy free. Whole Foods sells them for $4 a carton. I found them at Grocery Outlet for $1.49. WHAT?? I bought every single one of them they had and put them in my garage freezer.  Just shake well when thawed out. Looks and taste the same! Its been 6 months since I had to buy any. Woot!

Clearance can sometimes be helpful.  At my Grocery Outlet they mark things down to just sell them out.  For example-Organic coffee they sold for a few months for $5.99 a bag. That's a good deal considering regular stores sell it for $10+.  Well one day I went in and they had them marked $1.97. I snagged every single bag I could find. Now I don't have to buy coffee for at least 6 months.  What a deal! If you buy canned food some stores sell dented cans at a discount. Deli meats, cheese etc area also sold cheap before they spoil.  Remember you can freeze so many dairy products! Buy lots now and reap the savings later.

Go meatless.  Do this a few times a week and wow will you save money.  My kids don't even notice the meat is missing.  Try cutting your meat in half to start out with.  Instead of using a pound of ground beef use just a half pound.  Just do this a while then try a meatless meal.  Just remember to supplement some protein rich foods in there. Beans are a cheaper alternative to meat.

Stop buying junk. Serious. Don't just say it but do it. Have some self control.  No soda, chips, specialty coffee from shops and things like that.  If you don't buy it they won't eat it.  Instead bake things yourself. You have the power and control to keep preservatives and fat out of your life.  That's awesome power! And your bank account will thank you.

Coupons can help or not help.  Most coupons are for name brand products.  When you do the actual math most the time your paying more than the generic brands or bulk section.  Only way I will use a coupon is if its on a product I always buy. For example I buy dairy free butter.  Its $4.99 for one pound. Sometimes they have coupons and I will use them.  I don't clip them.  I don't go looking for them.  I don't plan my meals around them. You get the idea. Use them at your discretion.

Cut back or eliminate prepackaged foods.  No boxed macaroni and cheese.  No Hamburger Helpers.  No single serving foods. NOTHING. Obviously tortilla chips etc are okay because you don't' want to buy those in bulk.  Stale chips are icky.  No easy to make foods. I'm still amazed by myself sometimes when I make something that looked hard to do.  These meals are way healthier and cheaper than those easy to do ones. Trust me.

Cheap isn't always unhealthy.  You can buy carrots cheaper fresh than frozen cut up ones.  Sometimes frozen spinach is cheaper than fresh.  Compare prices and buy accordingly. If I score a good sale on shelf stable rice milk I use that to bake with instead of using my fresh flax milk. Why buy just chicken breast when you can pay half price for a whole chicken?  A little work yes but a huge amount of savings.   One great thing about grocery stores is that their is always options.

Cook from scratch.  I mean do I need to even go into detail here? Don't know how to make something? Google it.  Need to substitute for something you don't have? Google it.  Get creative!

Generic can be your friend.  I buy Whole Foods a whole case pasta sauce for $2.29 each. I get 10% off for buying the case.  Its their generic brand but its still organic.  For me name brands don't mean anything.  I'm more into what ingredients are in there, if its BPA free,if its a local company,  its GMO free and if its organic.  If its fair trade even better.  If you guy generic you will save at least 10%.  That's a guarantee.

So my friend, whose awesome now?


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

10 Steps to a More Creative (and frugal!) You

I'm pretty frugal but not as creative as I would like to be.  I know there is always more I can do but I'm just lazy sometimes. I say that because if I was to say I am too busy then that would be an excuse.  I teach my girls to not give excuses so I'm taking my own advise.

Inspired by my favorite book The Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn, I have decided to try and be more creative.  Christmas is coming very soon and I need to save money where I can.  I know I'm not the only one out there so enjoy these steps Amy has outlined in her book. I have quoted from her book and added a few personal notes after each one.

Ten Steps To A More Creative You

Step 1. Realize that you are creative.  Look for it in your daily life and nature that part of yourself.

My Note-I worked at a craft store for 10 years there is no excuse why I'm not creative. Just need to implement it into my regular life.

Step 2.  Give yourself mental space, a clear field.  We tend to fill up our days with TV, car radio, reading the paper, chats with friends on the phone.  Instead do that "mindless task" in quiet time.  This type of activity dominates my life……housework, mowing the lawn, scraping paints.  Boredom never strikes, as the mental gears whirl continually.  I write only after mentally rehearsing paragraphs a dozen times.  When someone says, "I'm just not creative like you." I reply "No, I just thought about it longer."

My Note- I can honestly say I have been doing this.  Ive been watching less TV and less radio.  Lately I've had Christmas music playing on my record player and the TV turned off.  In the car I've even stopped listening to the radio.  Since I have 4 daughters my life is filled with little girl voices 24/7.  So when I'm not around them I have been enjoying the silence.  The one thing I need to work on is thinking a little more before I act.  I have a very hard time with this. Once I get something into my mind I have to do it.  Reminds me of a piece of advise someone once told me.  If you feel you need to buy something just wait 24 hours. Usually you don't actually need the item and you save yourself some money by not buying it.  Need to remember this more.

Step 3.  Never ever compare yourself to others, but rather enjoy your own innovations.  I stumble over this block working in the shadow of many award winning designers.  No matter how good I  could become there would still be someone better.  Later I realized that no matter how bad I was there was always someone worse.  Compare yourself only to yourself.  "This is how good I am today.  I am better than yesterday and I will be better tomorrow."

My Note-Ive actually never compared myself or my design to others. I am personally eclectic and so is our style.  Others prefer cookie cutter looking interior designs.  Me I prefer vintage, good quality and natural color things.  Our furniture is new but our decorations are all 2nd hand thrift shop finds.  Our kitchen table is 2nd hand but the matching chairs we salvaged from our old set and repainted.  I like our taste.  Mostly because no one else has it.  Yeah for me having one less step!

Step 4.  I use a strategy I call "putting the problem into the mental computer."  your brain functions continually, even as you sleep.  Study the parameters of your problem and then let it rest for a few days.  Very often your mental computer will spit out the solution unexpectedly as you shower or drive to work.  This works much better than trying to perform as the clock ticks away.  If you are trying to come up with a great party idea, give yourself a couple of months of mental back burner time.

My Note-This is a great step.  I find myself doing this often especially when it comes to Christmas gifts.  I have a few things and think about what to do with them.  Sometimes it takes me a week to figure something out.  Most the time I have an idea and just need to narrow it down to details.  The end result isn't at all what the beginning thought was.

Step 5.  Brainstorm.  Toss the idea around with another person.  Be flexible and say or write down every "stupid" thought that comes.  Very often another person can take your idea and add a twist that makes it great.  Jim is my brainstorming partner.  he is very good at telling me when my idea is good and I should run with it.  Sometimes something isn't working just right and he can look at it and come up with a better sentence or illustration idea.

My Note-Another step I'm pretty good at.  I talk with my husband about a project I'm working on and he usually has another good idea.  He's a honey do husband and grew up in the sticks where you have to be creative because town was too far away and a waste of gas.  You either fix it or your stuck.  I grew up very poor and my mama had to be creative when it came to food and clothing us.  This makes us a great team.  Its one thing I love about my marriage. We make such a great team.

Step 6.  Find a springboard, a starting place.  For the tightwad this usually means determining which resources are cheap or in surplus.  Build from that point.

My Note- I love this step.  Since we do 99% of everything ourselves we always have left over wood or hardware.  For example I wanted more garden beds that I could move around.  My husband had built our deck and had plenty of left over unstained wood on the side of our house.  I just used his ends and pieces to put together some small frames.  I use these in my front yard each year to grow lots of things.  They are small and only about 6 inches tall so they are easily movable.  I get bored and change my mind all the time when it comes to my garden and its design.  I took my idea and used what we had.

Step 7.  Do not share your creative ideas with anyone who continually tells you they are dumb.  This is often a spouse or parent.  Professionally I should have switched jobs until I found an art director who shared a similar creative style.  The art directors that didn't like my ideas were not more creative than me.  Often they were less creative.  Mostly it was a matter of seeing things differently.  But, the constant message that I was doing it wrong took its toll.  A mouse does not go down the same hole over and over if he fails to find the cheese.

My Note-My husband often things some of my garden ideas are not good.  In my head I know how things grow and how things will change. He doesn't because he doesn't help me with the garden.  When I roll a idea past him he sometimes doesn't agree with me. Not because he things they are dumb but he doesn't see why it matters. Since I am the gardener I know why it matters.  Our ideas clash sometimes.  So most the time I go with my own ideas and don't even talk to him about it.  Sometimes he things they look ugly but most the time he likes the ideas.  Years ago he didn't want me to garden in the front yard. Over time he has not cared and now I garden in the front yard as much as I garden in the actual garden.  It's all pretty if you ask me.

Step 8.  Practice.   As with any skill, accessing your creative ability improves the more you do it.  You will develop your own methods and strategies to fall back on when tackling new problems.

My Note-As any gardener knows its never perfect.  The more you garden the better you get.  Some plants need more sun and some need less sun.  I'm consistently changing things up to have a better outcome.  Same with my food budget.  Every once in a while I get lazy and buy things that are easier to make. I always see myself spending more money and go back to my old frugal ways.  There is always room for improvement and I never stick to the same thing. Always change things up and alter your choices.

Step 9.  Avoid negative stress.  This also tends to block creativity, as your mind focuses on that problem instead.  Try to limit contact with individuals who bring on these problems.  If it is one within your household, try to limit your reaction to their actions.

My Note- I FAIL FAIL FAIL when it comes to this step.  I'm a high stressed person naturally and need to handle it better.  For example right now its Christmas time (my favorite!!!!!) and I have all these great ideas in my head.  Just the other day I pulled all our decorations out and set aside time for the girls and I do decorate.  Well my oldest was in her room except for 5 minutes to set up her nutcrackers. My middle daughter was more interested in her iPod and my twins only wanted to play with the wooden reindeer decorations and nothing else.  I was getting upset which got them upset.  I felt like my whole day was ruined by their lack of wanting to do anything.  In my head I had this perfect idea and it didn't go as planned.  I know I need to limit myself and my ideas with them. I know its mostly me thats upset. They were just as happy to play with the wooden reindeer or with their own things than to decorate with me. I need to not have these high expectations and feel sad when they are not met.  If they are happy I should be happy.  But honestly having hot cocoa. listening to Christmas music and putting up decorations is so much fun to me!  One day I hope they feel the same way.

Step 10.  Start small.  When you bite off more than you can chew you set yourself up for failure. instead set small easily attainable goals to build a sense of success.  in subsequent projects stretch yourself to slightly more ambitious undertakings.  Sometimes as you were reading the beginning of
this place you thought, "What the heck does creativity have to do with thrifty?"  Tighwaddery without creativity is deprivation.  When there is a lack of resourcefulness, inventiveness and innovation, thrift means doing without.  When creativity combines with thrift you may be doing it without money, but you are not doing without.

My Note-I need to work on this one a little more.  Usually I put everything off to the last minute. This year I had to plan a tea party birthday party for my twins. Sad because its probably the last little girl birthday part I will every get to throw. They are big girls now (sad mama!).  I planned several decorations and party supplies.  For weeks I hunted in thrift shops for things. And when I had no more time I bought what we needed which wasn't much.  I took time each day to complete different task. one day it was pretty paper cones filled with fake pretty flowers.  One day it was a happy birthday garland made from paper doilies and ribbon.  I felt less stressed and did manage to get it all done in time.  In the end I saved enough money to afford to take them to the mall to spend some birthday money.

To find out more amazing information head to your local library to snag these amazing books written by Amy Dacyczyn

Tightwad Gazette

Tightwad Gazette 2

Tightwad Gazette 3

Amazon has the set, Ebay,, Barns and Noble and Powell's all have these books.

Or maybe your as lucky as me and scored yours at a thrift store.

Don't want to buy? Ask your friends and family if you can borrow theirs!