Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!!

I made these little party favors from clearance Easter Kisses, Halloween M&M's, and free Chocolate covered pretzels. The buckets were from Target Dollar Spot, Halloween Clearance, 2 for .25. They were paired together black and silver, and orange and silver. I'm saving the black and orange for a Halloween party. Here's the trick to freezing chocolate without it turning white. Seal it up well, then put it in the refrigerator overnight, and then the freezer. When you want to use it just do the opposite. Take it from the freezer and leave it in the refrigerator overnight. It's the sudden temperature changes that cause the discoloration. The Kisses I had frozen since last Easter looked and tasted great!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Free Magazine Subscriptions

Looking for free gifts for those on your holiday list? Who isn't in these crazy economic times! How about a free magazine subscription from All you have to do is watch some ads, put in the code shown on the screen withing 30 seconds, and then fill out your mailing info. I sit and crochet while I'm watching the ads. So far I have received Popular Science, Good Housekeeping, and today I got Field and Stream. Don't tell, but that's for my 15 year old son.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

My Frugal Life Part 2

The single most important thing to do before becoming frugal is change your mindset about your life and your money, and then plan ahead. If you feel deprived, it just won't work. Accept where you are financially and then be prepared to make changes. Don't have a "poor me" attitude. Don't say things like, "We can't eat out or buy this or that because we can't afford it." Pat yourself on the back and tell yourself you are making changes to better you and your family's lives. The goal is to be able to afford what you need by looking forward and planning ahead. Because everyone's situation is different, I can only tell you what has worked for us. My hope is that others will find useful information that will work for them. I'm going to start with very broad and general suggestions and then get more specific in future posts.

Where to begin? First stop all unnecessary spending. Stop eating out, buying coffee, buying lunch, window shopping (too much temptation!), going to the movies, renting games and movies, buying expensive gifts, buying any and all unnecessary anything. You need all your extra cash to pay down debt (if you have debt) and plan ahead. Here is list one of what works for us. If you need to ease into it and just cut out a few things each month, that's fine. It will get easier!!


(very) well stocked pantry
plan dinner the day before and take anything out of the freezer that I need
make lunches the night before
make salads to last 3 days
only shop to restock pantry
only buy when price is the lowest and use coupons when possible
raised my kids to eat just about anything
use leftovers for lunches and other meals
eat vegetarian meals a few times a week
garden - can and freeze food
volunteer for and receive food from a reclaimed food organization


make laundry soap
hang clothes to dry as often as possible
tear fabric softener sheets in half - if I need to use them
wear clothes more than once when possible
use towels and wash clothes for 4-7 days before washing


I only buy about 1-2 rolls of paper towels a year, instead we use white washcloths that can be tossed in with just about any load of clothes.

use vinegar and water for the majority of cleaning
replaced almost all light bulbs with CFLs
reuse, reduce, recycle
stopped garbage pick up - we take our trash and recycles to the waste management station (it's much cheaper)
live in a small house

Clothing and Gifts

I do the majority of my clothes and gift buying for the year in February and March when the stores are running their 75%-90% off sales. Storing items has been a bit of a chore because we are a family of 6 in an 1100 sq ft home.

Shop at thrift stores and accept "gently worn" clothing from friends and family.

I keep a notebook with a list of everyone I buy for, the items I have purchased for them, and the price.

I'm sure this initial list is a bit confusing and incomplete, but I had to start somewhere!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Focused and Organized

Meredith at Like Merchant Shipshas a post on Frugal Hacks about finding your frugal niche. It is funny that I stumbled upon this older post this morning, because this was on my mind in more ways than one. I sell handmade items on line on Etsy and at local farmer's markers and craft shows. I feel the many different items I sell make my table and online shop look cluttered. As with this blog, it has been hard for me to find my niche and therefore showcase or concentrated fulling on what I am doing now. I realize I have this problem in other areas of my life as well, such as housework and projects I need to finish in my home.

So my goal is to start becoming focused and organized with my blog, my handmade items, my house, and my life in general. Any frugal suggestions in this area are greatly welcome!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

New Job

I wasn't really looking for a job outside the home, but I got one anyway. I work 3.5 hours a day in the cafeteria at a local middle school. The pay is okay, but the benefits are great! This will not only help us stay afloat, but hopefully we'll be able to pay down some debt.

Monday, September 8, 2008

My Frugal Life Part 1

I originally started this blog as a way for me to organize and reflect on my daily life. Much the same with journals in the past, I have been very sporadic and have found myself unwilling to be able look at past entries without criticizing them. Recently this has been true of my blog, mostly because of the horrible happenings of the past few months. I had a friend commit suicide, we had an unexpected drastic loss of income, my father-in-law has been battling brain cancer, and we are struggling to complete a much needed addition to our tiny 1100 sq ft ranch home for our crammed in family of 6. And that washer my SIL just gave us? It's leaking water as I type!

If it weren't for the frugal lifestyle we had already had in place, we would not be able to meet our monthly needs right now. On the flip side, there really isn't anymore I can cut out of my budget to free up more cash. We still have a considerable amount of debt and I refuse to slide backwards. It is time to think outside the box, and find creative ideas for income, because selling t-shirt scrubbers and other hand made items on ETSY, just isn't cutting it. LOL

I realize one of my biggest problems is organization and staying focused. I'm not only right brained with my creativity, but I also tend to bounce around between projects a lot. Therefore, I have decided to start a series of posts, first dedicated to what I already do in the way of being frugal and green, and then move on to new ideas and things to try. This will also be a great way to reflect on past accomplishments and inspire me in the future. I also hope I can pass on some useful information to my readers and encourage useful comments from you!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

He Provides!

God really is so good! I was talking to my SIL about my washer issue. Last year she bought a new FL set and still had her old washer sitting in her basement. Is is almost exactly like ours, and she said we can have it! I often find myself concentrated so hard on what we need and want that I forget to give thanks for all the little necessities God provides every day. Last year I became active in a reclaimed food pantry, and I also started couponing and stockpiling like crazy. At the time, these actions weren't necessary to our way of life. They did, however, allow us to get some of our debt paid off. Since then our income has dropped significantly and if it weren't for the actions of the past year, we would be up a creek right now! He knew what was coming and provided in advance what we would need, and He is still providing!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Washer still Broken Now What?

The part we replaced was just a symptom of the original problem. I researched reviews last night and found out my Kenmore 80 Series Super Capacity Plus washer is a big fat LEMON! Now we are faced with a big dilemma, sink another $200 plus (in addition to the $35 we just paid and the original $400 plus for the machine) or spend $1,000 we don't have for a high quality front loader. I read the reviews for Fls last night as well, and I'm not really impressed with most of those as well. One thing for sure, this time I'll get the extended warranty. I hate those warranties because I think an appliance should last more than 1 - 2 years anyway! My last Kenmore set lasted 14 years aside from a few inexpensive parts towards the end. It might still be working for all I know. I would welcome any advice!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Yay! My washer's fixed!

I have never been so happy to be doing laundry at 10:00 pm. Our (2 year old) washer broke a few weeks ago, and after taking it apart and replacing the, broken in two, plastic part, it still wasn't working right. Mr. Right Brain finally had time to take it apart again, tonight, and found and fixed the problem. Even though we all wear many clothing items more than once, with a family of 6 we have a lot of laundry every week! In the past two weeks I have spent $38 to wash cloths at the laundry mat. That didn't even include drying, which we line dried at home. I was so desperate today that I hand washed a few things just to get by. I was determined not to lay out any more money at the laundry mat. Boy is hand washing hard work! If you are interested in hand washing, Robyn, at Lentils and Rice has some good advice on how to to it much easier. For now, I'm sticking with my much appreciated washing machine!

Back to School

Well, my three teenagers started school today. (Big unhappy face.) At least I still home school my youngest. Sometimes I think I'm the only mom who is not happy to send my kids off to school. I really like my kids! I enjoy spending time with them, I like to hear their opinions, and I like the people they are growing into. I am so lucky to be their mom!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Best Deals Yet

This had to be my best shopping trip yet! I'm finally getting the hang of it! I bought $88 worth of food and household items for $7.97. I'll get back $2.97 because of a rebate from Noxema for a oop of $5.00!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Orange Spice Sun Tea

Today it's in the 90's with high humidity. A perfect day for making orange spice sun tea. I use 6 regular tea bags with 4 orange spice tea bags. My mom used to make it on the stove and use real oranges, spices, and then a lot of sugar - sooo good! I take the lazy route, and then leave out the sugar, that way I can drink more. I found the orange spice tea bags at the dollar food store last year and really stocked up.

June Rebates

These are my June Rebate items from Rite Aid and Walgreens. I'll probably pick up more from Rite Aide during the month because it's just down the road, but since Walgreens is a 25 mile drive (round trip) I only go there once or twice a month. I like that I can submit them online and don't even have to pay for postage!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Recycle Those Messy Jars

Have you every thrown out a messy jar because it was such a pain to wash, or because of all the water involved in getting it clean? I fill it about 1/2 full of warm water, add a little dish soap, put the lid on, and shake well. Then I leave it on the counter and occasionally give it a good shake (over the course of the day) until all the gunk is loose.

Cheap Makeup

I just ordered 45 e.l.f makeup items, including mineral wear foundations, for $67.50 shipped!! Most items are $1.00. Use coupon code CAROLINA for a first time buyers %10 discount and orders over $75.00 get free shipping. I hear that they were bought out by Nordstrom and everything with the e.l.f. logo has to go! Great Christmas gifts for my girls!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A Lot of Free Shaving Cream

Walgreens has Satin Care shaving gel on sale for $2.00, minus $1.00 Instant Value Coupon from the rebate book, minus $1.00 manufacture coupon - Free. But wait there's more! When you spend $20.00 on certain Gillette products, get a $5.00 Register Reward. 10 free shaving gels and $5 to spend - WOW!

Purchase VS Transaction

At least once a week a cashier will tell me I can't use more than one of the same coupon because the coupon states one per purchase. I tell them, very nicely, that means one coupon per item, not one coupon per transaction.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Free Rebates

These are the free rebate items I have picked up so far for the month of June from Rite Aid and Walgreens.

Cheap Razors??

I guess it's a matter of opinion if this is a good deal. My three teenage kids love these, so I stockpile them when I can get them for a somewhat reasonable deal and give them at Christmas. Last year I put together packages with expense razors and shaving gels for them and they absolutely loved it! Good thing they don't read my blog because I'm doing it again this year! These nine razors with the bonus gel were $77.66 regular price, $54.24 clearance price, minus 9 $4.00 off coupons $18.24, minus $10.00 in gift cards from hair color deal, $8.24 OOP.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Beware Double Coupons

I recently discovered that both of the grocery stores in my area have a limit on how many of like coupons that will double in the same transaction. So if you are buying 4 or more of the same item and using a coupons that will double, check your store's policy or purchase them in separate transactions.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

How To Get Great Deals

I'm frequently asked how I get such great deals, so here is an example of one I did last week. Target is giving a $5.00 gift card with the purchase of a box of Perfect 10 hair color. I had BOGO coupons so I was able to get 2 boxes for $12.99 and then received $10.00 in gift cards at the checkout. When I repeated the deal I could use the gift cards and pay only $2.99 for 2 boxes. Because I didn't use the gift cards every time I did the deal I ended up with $60.00 in gift cards near the end of the week. Since I had a lot of coupons that were getting ready to expire and Target had a lot of clearance food and nonfood items, I did a big shopping trip. My total was $170, after sale and clearance prices $146, after coupons $96, after I used $30 in gift cards my OOP was $66. This might seem like a high amount spent this week, but since I am still in the beginning of my stockpile stage I bought a lot of certain items like Ziploc bags and Morning Star products.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Where to Find Coupons

I have people ask me all the time, "Where do you find your coupons?" Even the cashiers at the stores ask me. Where? The internet of course! Hot Coupon World is not only great for coupons, but has a massive amount of information to help you save in the stores. I have also found some real money savers at Mommy Saves Big, and here is a list I happened upon, Coupon Bar. You will have to down load a program (it will be offered when you try to print) to be able to print coupons. It's free and safe! If you are looking for a coupon for a particular item, and don't find it at one of these site, try going straight to the company's web site. I do this often with high success!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

My Green Shoes

You might as well hear this from me instead of someone else. I like shoes that are...well...what some might call unattractive. I call them comfortable! I got these great shoes from Simple Shoes. They were originally $80 marked down to $19.90 each with free shipping. I normally don't spent that much on shoes for myself, but the green aspect got me. My son wants the pair with recycled tire soles - cool!!

Free with Coupons

Last night I went shopping to four different stores, Jubilee, Wal-mart, Target, and Topps. I spent hours planning my trip by matching coupons to sale items and clipping them to lists. I've learned organization is the key to maximum coupon usage. I also was at my computer while I planned my list. If I didn't have a coupon for an item I wanted, I looked up the company online to see if one was available to print. I was surprised how often one was! I used 80 coupons last night and the 35 that were under a dollar were doubled. I got some OK deals (items I need and usually don't go on great sales but I still used a coupon), some fantastic deals and above it what I got for free!!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Save Big by Stockpiling

I had quite a few people ask me how I can afford to shop as much as I do. First let me say it comes in spurts. Some weeks there's nothing worth buying and some weeks are a goldmine. This week was a goldmine!! I'd like to explain how stockpiling can save you money in two ways. This week I bought 20 large cans of Maxwell House Lite coffee for $99.80, $4.99 a can. When it was around $6.00 a can it would go on sale for $3.99, somewhere, almost every month. I'd buy a few and then it would go on sale again. Now that the price is over $9.00 a can, it hasn't been on sale much. I had accumulated 30 $1.00/1 coupons and have been waiting for a big sale while picking up one can at a time, paying over $9 a can. This week Tops had it for $5.99 and the manager was kind enough to order in extra for me. The first way I saved is by paying about $80 less for 20 cans of coffee by combining the sale with the remaining coupons I had, and now I can replenish my stash as it goes on sale. The second way I save is by freeing up the money I was paying for coffee every week, I am now able to buy larger amount of other items and stockpile them as well. I had previously stockpiled a year's worth of toothpaste, shampoo, body soap, razors, foil, and months worth of cereal, salad dressings, canned goods, frozen foods, and meats to name a FEW. Every time I am able to stockpile an item for a very low cost it frees up more and more money from my weekly budget, and affords me the time to wait for that item it go on sale or clearance for the price I am willing to pay. Some might say coffee isn't a necessity, why purchase it at all. I very rarely buy pop (MAYBE for a party) and we don't drink a lot of juice. We mostly drink milk, soymilk, and water, and well honestly, it's my husband's and my one vice!

Please Save Me Your Extra Coupons!!

I never believed those woman on TV who claimed to buy $200.00 plus worth of groceries for $10.00 by using manufacture's coupons and rebates. "Impossible!", I'd yell at the TV when they would show her at store, clutching her binder of coupons, and smiling like she just won the LOTTO. Mostly, I was trying to make myself feel better about feeding my own family of 6 for about $80+ a week. That number had been steadily increasing over the past few year until late fall when I got involved with the "food run" I talked about in a previous post, but I still hadn't been able to get down to the $30 - $50 range I so desired. I honestly believed there was no way to get super great deals using manufacture coupons except the occasional coupon matched with a clearance item. I stuck to my routine of stocking up on loss leaders, searching the clearance sections, and doing the bulk of my shopping at Aldis. All that changed a month ago when I discovered Hot Coupon Worldand I can honestly say I'll never view coupons and shopping the same way again! I may never pay full price again!!

Here, again, is another instance where I am torn between being frugal and being green. I have been purchasing multiple Sunday papers to get the coupon inserts. I have been saving the papers to use as ground covering for my garden and also to compost. I still need to do more research to make sure this is safe. As a last resort I will, of course, recycle them. Here are my reasons for justifying purchasing these papers. We don't subscribe to a daily paper and until recently only occasionally picked up the Sunday paper. Buy using almost all CFLs in my home, hang drying most of our laundry, making my own environmentally safe laundry soap and general purpose cleaner, shopping thrift stores for a portion of our clothing and other items, using reusable shopping bags, making (and selling) items from recycled cloths and paper, recycling, reusing and not wasting everything and anything possible, I'd like to think I'm doing a good job off setting this wastefulness. Even so, what it all boils down to is money, and with two kids graduating from high school next year and then going off to college, I need to save every penny I can. Two years after that I'll have another in college for a total of three at the same time!!

Yes, that is my coupon binder! I'm looking for a great deal on one that zips all the way around and has pockets for scissors and a calculator. I'll probably find one in late Summer with the back to school specials.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Free Box

I have always been fairly successful at putting on a yard sale. Even though I've had a few that bombed, usually due to bad timing such as a storm or a holiday weekend, for the most part they have faired well. I think one key to success is generosity. In the past few years I have always had a FREE BOX, and in this year's case I had three! I have always given things away at my sales, a toy to a sweet little kid, extra baby stuff to an expectant mom, or just knocked the change off the sale's total. It all depends on the person, the circumstance, and my mood at the time!! The free box serves many purposes. It is usually items that I would have otherwise thrown away, not totally useless items, just not sell able. For example, a slightly melted on the corner spatula, a backpack with a broken zipper, a stack of Taco Bell cups headed for the recycle bin, magazines, stained clothing, and toys or games that are missing pieces, to name a few. I place the box, or boxes, at the back of my sale so people have to come through everything to get to it. Often people will see it just as they are turning to leave, and often people will make a purchase after rummaging through the free box and taking a few items. I started doing this because I hated the idea of just throwing items like that in the trash and I think it makes my yard sale "junky" if I put them out for sale.

Here's a couple other quick tips for a successful sale. Use bright pink poster board for your signs, if it is allowed where you live. Place a quarter box by your checkout area. I had two this year, one filled with small toys and the other household items. After customers put their items on the table for me to tally up they will rummage through the boxes (or let their kids) and will spend an extra buck or two. Another bonus is I don't have to price and find room for all those little things. Lastly, Thursday and Friday are the best days for a sale. I MIGHT consider doing Saturday again, but NEVER Sunday.

Monday, April 21, 2008

My Scrubbies are in the SPOTLIGHT!

My Etsy shop has been crazy busy for the past 24 hours. My Recycled T-shirt Scrubbies are on the front page in a Spotlight article.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

My House is a Disaster!!

I have read so many posts by other bloggers over the past few weeks about simplifying their lives, I decided to finally get serious about it myself! I come from a family of pack rats, and although I have fought with this my whole life and had plenty of up and down moments, I really thought I had it beat. I've even been ridiculed for having yearly to bi-yearly yards sales and hauling stuff to the Salvation Army frequently, but there's always so much more left in the house! A family of six in a tiny house with no basement really has to have a use it or lose it attitude!

This week the kids are off for spring break, and not only have we been systematically going through the house room by room, drawer by drawer, but I also intend to have a yard sale Thursday and Friday. That means everything has to be priced and set up by tomorrow night! This morning, my house looked like it had been picked up and shook, but by this evening it all started coming together. While the sale is going on we intend to do a thorough spring cleaning from top to bottom, including washing all the bed linens and curtains! Have four kids, three of which are in high school, has been a wonderful blessing this week. They all cleaned out, and got rid of, so much more than I thought they would (willingly!!). We are gong to need a vacation, after this "vacation".

Monday, April 14, 2008


We stopped having our trash and recycling picked up a few years ago when the price went up to $24 a month. We now take our garbage and recycling to the waste management station and it cost us between $3 - $6 a month. It doesn't cost me anymore for gas because I combine it with other trips that are in that same area. I'm able to recycle more items at the station than I was allowed to put out at my house. (More variety) I purchase bags for $3 that hold at least 2+ weeks of our family of 6's trash. (You have to have your trash in their bags and be able to tied it shut when you bring it back.) We compost food scraps as well.

From what I've read we are pretty lucky to have this option, I guess most people don't. It can't hurt to call around and check though, because most people that live around here don't know you can do this!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

My Interview

Wow, she posted it fast! Want to read more about me? Check out my 10 question interview on My Wooden Robot. I really feel special!!

Friday, April 11, 2008


Head Over to

My Wooden Robot did a post about my Etsy shop. I just completed an interview that hasn't been posted yet, but I'm too excited to wait.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I Thought I Knew About Coupons

I DO know more about using coupons than anyone I know! I would see little blurbs here and there while cruising around the internet looking for frugal information (and the occasional freebie), and I'd think, "What could they know that I don't?!" I would just assume they were doing what I was already doing. Well, they sort of are, but on a much grander scale, with far greater returns than I could have imagined, and using team work to do it in less time. I would spend hours some weeks clipping, sorting, and matching up my coupons with the weekly sales, not to mention the time to plan and execute my shopping trip, and I was usually getting little return for my time. I had finally given up and haven't been doing it at all for the past few months. Now my stash of coupons have expired!

A fresh clean coupon start it were I am now. I purchased a Sunday paper a few weeks ago and there were no coupons in it?? I purchased one this past Sunday and there were two inserts, and I thought, "Are gone the days of three coupons inserts, along with 2/1.00 eggs and 88 cent hamburger?" Well thanks to my newly found, and most favorite (so far) coupon information site, Hot Coupon World, I know coupons inserts are not just randomly stuffed in the paper, but there is a schedule. The are no inserts on holidays and the P&G Saver goes in at the beginning of the month. I also learned that my $1.00 buy price for deodorant is way to high, even .50 is considered high! Free is the price and with coupons and rebates, and it's really not that hard to do!! I love Free!! I truly believe that saving money is better than earning more money. Don't get me wrong, I'm still for making more money, but what's the sense in working harder if you are just going to be more wasteful!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Torn Between Being Frugal and Being Green??!

I LOVE free stuff! Free food, free cloths, coupons for free anything, and of course free samples. The choice is easy when my son and I are walking around Sam's Club and enjoying our free Tapas style lunch, sometimes we even get juice! The problem is the samples I get in the mail. I love getting great stuff in the mail. I go to Twisted Branches and Spoofee almost every day, and am currently checking out 2 more freebie sites to set if they warrant daily or weekly visits. I use all these great little finds as gift basket fillers, stocking stuffers, extra special little treats for the snack jar, and even for myself. I always seem to have some great shampoo and conditioner sample in the shower. I have discovered some great products this way, and have even bought full sizes of some products. (When it was on sale and with a coupon of course!)

So here is my dilemma, the over packaging. I feel so guilty when I get a 1 oz serving of cereal in a metallic type bag, in a little box, with additional product information in with it as well. Or even worse and little antiperspirant sample, with all the little plastic bits and pieces needed to make it, also in a little box with additional papers. I hardly even use antiperspirant, which makes me feel even more guilty. (FYI I use a Crystal stick!) I even gave up free samples altogether for awhile, because I was getting everything I possible could and ended up with stuff I could never use or give away. This was last summer when I really started getting serious about being more green and also lowering my utility bills as much as possible. About a month ago the I started back to my old habits, but with a bit more forethought about the ones I chose. Even though I recycle it, I still feel bad about the packaging. I welcome anyone else's opinions on this matter.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Don't Knock it Until.....

I found this recipe on Lentils and Rice, and even though I knew my kids would try it, and most likely like it, I never dreamed my husband would like it. He only eats a few varieties of beans, and except for hummus, chickpeas isn't one of them. The kids and I like any bean. Here's the strange part of this recipe, lentils and rice said it tastes like egg salad, one of my daughters said it taste like tuna salad, and my husband said it tastes like chicken salad. I agree with my husband, but I also think it taste like chickpeas, which I like very much!

I didn't add as many ingredients as Lentils and Rice did. I guess it depends on how you like your egg, tuna, chicken salad. I used mashed (but not to fine) chickpeas, chopped celery, a little salt and pepper, and mayo. The kids were eating it out of the bowl while I was making it. Finally, something new for lunch!!

74 Cent Dinner for Six

Mushrooms, broccoli, cherry tomatoes tossed with 1 pound of fettuccine I got on clearance at Target for 74 cents. I also used a little olive oil and spices which I didn't include in the cost. I also didn't include the cost of the gas and electricity used freeze, store, cook and wash up after. In future posts if a significant amount of olive oil, butter, spices, etc. are used I will list the cost, otherwise it's just too much of a pain to calculate.

So are you wondering why I didn't include the cost of veggies? I got those for free from my food run. When I get home from the food run (that's what we call it here at home, so that's what I'm sticking with) , I sort, wash, blanch or saute, and then freeze any fruit or veggie that won't last more than a few more days. If it can't be frozen, then we eat that up first over the next few days!! One time there might be lot of peppers, another a lot of strawberries, you just never know. I have quite a variety of frozen items from the past few months, along with garden and farmers market items I put up last fall.

Homemade Laundry Soap

I have been making my own laundry soap for months and I just love it! I use to buy 12 or more gallon jugs of soap when it went on sale for about $1.88, and then I would have to store them in our little house. It was a real pain in the winter because laundry soap will freeze if you store it in the garage. Now I just make 2 gallons of soap at a time for under 30 cents a gallon and the real plus is I'm reusing my containers AND it's eco friendly soap!

Homemade Laundry Soap

1/3 bar grated soap
6 cups water
1/2 cup borax
1/2 cup washing soda
2 gallons hot water

I heat the grated soap in 6 cups of water and stir until the soap is dissolved. Add the borax and washing soda and stir until dissolved. Add this mixture to a 2 gallon bucket of hot water and stir. Stir occasionally over the next 24 hours while cooling. If it separates while cooling just stir well to mix.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Reclaimed Food

I have read that up to 47% of all food in America gets tossed in the trash. I know you are probably thinking that's impossible. I did! First, think of the waste at the farm, then in transport and finally the processing plants or the grocery stores. There's tremendous waste at the restaurants, buffets, and hotels. Lastly, the food we throw away in our own homes.
I'm not going to list specific facts because it's so easy to google the information. Click images and you will see tons upon tons of tossed out food. What I do want to list is the actions I take to lesson this waste.

1. Stop throwing away food. Sounds easier that it actually is! This requires a certain amount of fore thought about the meals I cook. If I cook too much, what do I do with the leftovers. In addition to just eating them again for lunch or another dinner, I will either freeze them to use at a later date or remake them into an entirely different dish. Eventually I will be posting some recipes where I do this quite creatively and with tasty results!

2. Realize the value of what is being wasted. If $20.00 worth of food were thrown away this week, it would be the same as ripping up and throwing away a 20 dollar bill. My husband and I work far to hard for our money, and we work very hard to stretch that money as far a possible, than to just toss it in the trash.

3. Teach my children to appreciate the real value of what we spend our money on, not just food. I believe this is very important so that they will be able to succeed more easily once they leave home. I don't want them to end up buried in debt before they graduate college because they were not taught how to be frugal. I also want them to be conscious consumers, and pass that information on to their children.

4. Now for the bigger picture. I am very fortunate to be able to volunteer for an organization that reclaimed approximately 3 million dollars worth of food last year and distributed it to over 2,500 persons weekly through 25 programs including food pantries and soup kitchens. This is food that is at or near it's expiration date, or is just over stock. It comes from many groceries stores, a dairy, an orchard, bakeries, a health food store and miscellaneous other stores. It is all edible food that would have been thrown in the trash if this organization had not organized ways to reclaim it.
Twice a month, and usually with the help of one of my teenage children, I drive 70 miles round trip to collect food that has been reclaimed and set aside for our small community pantry. We usually have two or three vehicles that caravan together. After the food is collected we go back to the pantry, unload, organized it all, and then it is immediately distribute to families and individuals who need it. With the economy the way it is, the list of people who come to the pantry has been growing pretty steadily. I take home bread, produce and misc. food items to help feed my own family and I feel I am more than compensated for the 140 miles and 10 or so hours a month I volunteer. This has been such a tremendous blessing for my family. Not just because of the food it has provided us, but the opportunity to serve our community in such a basic and necessary way.

Soon I will tell you exactly what I do with that food once I bring it home and the impact it has had on our lives. I encourage you to see if such organizations exist in your own community or start one yourself!

Oh My Little Cuppy Cakes

I made 30 of these adorable cupcakes for a friend's daughter's bridal shower. Did you guess it's a hand crocheted washcloth? As soon as I get a 40% off coupon for Michael's for the silicone liners, I'm going to make more.

Testing, 123 Testing

Well, I really haven't a clue as to what I'm doing!! Hopefully I will soon be able to look back and realize it was all very easy to master. I am starting this blog for many reasons. First, I've always wanted to be able to share my frugal ideas and tips with anyone and everyone who wants and can use them.
Second, I wanted a place where I could organized all these scraps of paper clogging my desk and random pieces of information floating around in my head. This will be a much easier way to share my information and recipes with friends and family as well. No more typing up emails and/or cutting and pasting info! Yay!! Maybe I'll be able to use my desk for ... well, desky things!
My third reason might be the most important one of all, and one I wasn't even aware of until I read it on another blog. I am hoping that having an outlet for my never ending and sometimes uncontrollably racing thoughts, I'll be able to give my husband some piece and quit. After working and eleven hour day and then picking up and dropping of kids, the last thing he wants to hear (no matter how much he loves me) is how I was able to make a fabulous meal for .74 cents. Well, that he might be interested in, but you get the idea!