Thursday, April 28, 2011

Lazy Girl's Guide to Homemade Baby Cereal

Even though E is past the age where she would eat baby cereal on its own, I like to add it to her applesauce & so she gets a little extra whole grain & nutrition.  This past week we ran out of cereal, & I also found a cup of Cheerios that had gotten stale from sitting out overnight.  That got me to thinking...

  I just dumped the Cheerios in a reused tortilla bag & whacked the heck out of it with a rolling pin...

Until it looked like this...

Now we have a whole grain baby cereal & no waste!  How's that for recycling?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Greening My Cleaning

Remember way back when I shared this pic of our linen closet?  See the bottom left...all of those trial sized bottles?  They're just Emerson's size, and therefore she believe it is her absolute duty to play with them as often as the linen closet is left ajar.  The only major problem with that is at the bottom of the closet I have all of our bathroom cleaning supplies.  We just don't have another place for them.

Needless to say this has caused me a great deal of concern over the past few months.  I had planned on changing my cleaning products out when they were all used, but after catching E in the linen closet one too many times, the time for action was upon me.

These are now the only cleaning products in our house (excluding baking soda & vinegar).  I cleaned everything else out & gave it to my gram.  I had already been using these 'green' products, but once these are gone I plan on switching exclusively to homemade cleaning products made from vinegar, baking soda, salt, or castile soap, & hydrogen peroxide (in my clorox bottle).  I plan on getting most of my recipes from Mrs. Dunwoody's book, but if you'd like a link, check out my cousin Tonya's cleaning blog. 

If you are thinking about moving toward green cleaning products it's certainly an easy change.  Environmentally friendly cleaning products are more widely available & have become much more potent  in recent years.  If you don't want to spend the extra money, or don't want to bring new cleaning bottles in to your home, consider making your own.  It is SUPER cheap, and to my mind there is nothing safer than some old fashioned vinegar & baking soda. 

If you do make the decision to abandon more traditional cleaning products DO NOT dump them down the drain!  Even if they are used consider donating them to a church or a non-profit.  Also consider a family member or neighbor with a fixed budget who might benefit from them.  Everyone can use all the help they can get in these strained financial times. 

Whatever you decision, if you've never tried one of the newer green cleaning products, be bold & give one a try.  It just might surprise you. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Another Year Older...

And hopefully another year wiser.  Yesterday was my 27th birthday.  I'm officially inching my way out of my twenties...which is utterly bizarre.  I have been unbelievably blessed this past year with a healthy daughter & a wonderful partner.  At the end of the day I always come back to a feeling of complete & overwhelming gratitude for this little life of ours. 

We had a very simple celebration.  JC came home from work early with a pizza, pop, & redbox movies.  We ate as a family, watched Hulu, and snuggled all together in bed.  It was a fabulous way to spend a cold, rainy birthday.

Here's hoping that this year continues to celebrate the simple joy of our wee life. 

Monday, April 25, 2011


I'm not one to be into material things--shocker I'm sure.  When it comes to Easter, we're much more into celebrating Jesus' life & death, & spending time with family, than buying a $20 chocolate bunny for Emerson to eat.  Keeping simplicity in mind here was E's Easter basket. 

Her basket is actually my childhood Easter basket,  complete with a lamb Beanie Baby from back in the day, hair clips I made for her, and the only thing we actually spent money on, a Little Golden Book about a bunny, a duck, & an egg that we bought at a Goodwill in Tulsa for 50 cents. 

 The barrettes were made with clips I've had since middle school, ribbon saved from gifts, flowers & woodland creatures bought with a Christmas gift card, & saved buttons from assorted clothing, & a hot glue gun bought with said gift card. These cost me nothing out of pocket & look just darling on E. 

Of course on Easter morning E mostly cared about her eggs & boxes of raisins that her great Gram gave to her. 

And I was proud that the sweet little Ralph Lauren dress that I splurged on while I was pregnant ($8 at the resale shop) was actually able to be used as an Easter dress as I had hoped while hugely preggo.

 I hope you had a lovely day with your family & loved ones.  :)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Belated Earth Day To You

Yesterday was one of my very favorite holidays.  I look forward to Earth Day all year long.  I always use it as a time to try to reflect upon my actions, how they impact the Earth, and to set goals for the next year.

This upcoming year I hope to:
  • Attempt to use/make more natural toiletries
  • Support local farmers & utilize our farmers market
  • Look into reusable feminine products (eek!)
  • Plant at least one tree to replace the one that fell on our house
  • Try to pre-cycle & use products that are in less packaging to bring less waste into our home
  • Attempt to grow & preserve as much of our own food as possible
  • Use only green/natural cleaning products in our home
  • Continue to purchase 100% post consumer content recycled toilet paper
 Even if you are not big into the green living moment, consider making one small change this year.  It will make an impact on our Earth, and every little bit counts.

Also if you live near a Lowes go & get your free tree today!  They're giving away a million! 

Have a blessed & wonderful Easter.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Mary, Mary Quite Contrary

Forgive the poor picture quality, I can't find my camera, so these were all taken with my cell.
My garden is starting grow!  My beautiful little seedlings have hatched!  The above picture is primarily tomatoes, but on the right there are 3 little pots of peppers.  Those peppers didn't do as well as I had hoped, but I got a few little babies.

My dryer pots are also doing quite well.  My basil sprung quickly and then for some reason vanished.  I don't really care too much though because we've got seed for basil in our Aerogarden.  Aside from the failed basil (upper right) and the 2 in shrink wrap, these are all peppers of some variety.  I hope we'll have enough! :)

But my shining moment of glory appeared to me earlier in the week...

Our first Aerogarden tomato!  I'm such a proud mama.

I have to say I'm quite pleased at how well all of this growing is going.  I truly have no idea what I'm doing.  We had one garden once, and a large portion of it was eaten by critters.  I'm hoping we have been luck this year.

I need to plant my other seeds in the ground, but it has been raining & the soil needs to be tilled one more time. Hopefully we'll get them planted next week before it turns crazy hot & dry.

I also need to install my rain barrel (I have a really large & beautiful official rain barrel), but for now I'm using rain water that I've gathered in a bucket.  Classy huh?

How is your garden growing?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Plastic: To Use or Not To Use...

We live in a society where nearly everything we own is made of plastic.  Medical supplies, food containers, toys, phones, computers, practically everything.  Truthfully I had never really considered  plastic until I was pregnant and noticed EVERYTHING baby was labeled BPA free.  I read up on BPA & totally agreed it should be removed from products.  After that research I've always made a point to buy Little Emerson BPA free products & have slowly transitioned away from plastic food storage & drinking cups.

But after reading this highly informative article by NPR with excepts from the book Plastic: A Toxic Love Story, I began to get seriously wigged out.  The idea of the plastic from an IV bag leaching into my system with unknown effects is just flat out disturbing . Or the thought of infertility from plastic usage is enough to make me want to move away from plastic entirely; especially after learning one of the most harmful types is used to hold bottled water & pop.  

I truly encourage you to read that article and take a look at your plastic usage & if it can be changed.  Just think about all of the things we've learned about lead...

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Times They Are A Changing

Spring is by far my favorite time of year.  I love feeling like I survived a harsh cold winter, and can now see the beauty of nature coming back to life.  Every year it astonishes me to see the leaves come back on the trees-- like somehow over winter, I forgot leaves existed.

It always makes me take stock in the simple pleasures of spring.

 Thanks Rita for this pic!
Around here our tulips & irises are blooming.

We have our very own Easter bunny that I've lovingly named Penelope.  

And our little doodlebug is quickly becoming a little girl. 

We have been blessed beyond measure to make it through the winter to see the beauty of spring.  I am so looking forward to this season of our lives. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

25 Easy Ways To Go Green

We've spent the better portion of this evening hanging out in the closet waiting for the local tornadoes to go away.  Needless to say, I'm feeling a little drain of creativity.

 In the meantime, check out this list from Real Simple: 25 Easy Ways To Help Save The Planet

Just call me Captain Planet.  :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Doing It Cheap: On The Go Cloth Diapering

I'm cheap.  I own it and I wear it proudly.  I think that word gets a bad wrap, truly I think being cheap is just a way of trying to make do with what you have.  I try to use cloth diapers & wipes as much as possible & here's how a gal can CD on the go with what you have already. Can't get any cheaper than that...
 In our diaper bag I always carry an extra cloth diaper, a wet bag, and some cloth wipes.

*The wet bag actually came with a Huggies Pure & Natural sample.  I'm relatively certain it wasn't intended as a wet bag, as it came with disposable diapers, but it works beautifully.  When we have a used diaper or wipe, I just throw it in there & seal it up.  When we get home, I dump the contents in the diaper pail & thoroughly Lysol the wet bag.  Easy peasy.  If I you don't have a handy lil wet bag like this, but don't want to spend the money on buying one you could reuse a ziploc, a grocery bag, or a bag from your newspaper.

*The cloth wipes are kept in a wipes container my gram found for us at the dollar store.  You don't need to spend more than a dollar if you're looking for function.  Mine happens to have a lovely picture of Piglet on the outside, but you really just want something that will seal & keep the wipes damp.  I would assume a reused butter tub or any other small sealable tupperware type container could serve the same purpose.

On road trips I find it difficult to cloth diaper while driving, but I still bring along my cloth wipes & my wet bag in the car.  You can still use the cloth wipes even if you can't use the cloth diapers.  Save a little green wherever you can right?

Remember, cloth diapering is GREAT for the environment & FABULOUS for your wallet and you don't have to have a ton of money to do it.  If a cheapy like me can do it, I'm certain you can too.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Benefit of Being An Informed Consumer Part II

I truthfully hadn't intended for this to be a two parter, but sometimes life just hands you opportunities...

See that beautiful specimen above?  That's my phone.  It's a two year old LG EnV 2...aren't you all envious?  See all the chips & dings on the side?  That's the handiwork of my little lovey Emerson who has adopted this phone as her own.  See why I can never ever get a new phone??

Truth is I'm perfectly happy with this ol' jelopy.   I've never been an early adopter of technology & find myself to be a rather low tech gal.  I've never had the internet on a phone & personally can't see any reason why I'll need it in the future.  So imagine my surprise when my husband called me & told me that my phone bill this month was over $25 due to internet downloads.  Say what?!

I promptly called Verizon to ask how this was possible & what exactly was on my phone.  Apparently I somehow got signed up for some email browser & some other loveliness.  But here's the kicker, the one was a monthly subscription!  Had we not looked at our itemized phone bill I would have been charged every month until god knows when!  Fortunately the Verizon guy was really sweet & removed all the charges, walked me through how to remove the apps, and blocked my phone from ever being able to access any such nonsense again. 

So please, take the time to look at your bills before you pay them.  You never know what you might be incorrectly charged & I'm sure you'll save yourself a whole lot of money. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Benefit of Being An Informed Consumer

 Companies love to hear from their consumers.  Information from consumers  (good or bad) helps them adjust their product to better serve the needs of their clientele, and often the company will thank you for your opinion with coupons, samples, or a replacement product.

As a child I can remember my mom occasionally calling companies if there was a major problem with a product, and often they would send a replacement item, or something of the like.  This lesson has been passed down, and I know that at least one of my sisters will also call manufacturers if there is a problem.  In fact, one time my sister, Natalie, found a rock in her Zatarans (I think it might have even broken one of her teeth) and they sent her a HUGE box of replacement products & samples as an apology.
Now, I'm not in ANY WAY condoning calling a company and making up a problem.  I think that is HIGHLY unethical; however, I see no problem calling a company to either praise their product or let them know there is a problem.  It makes companies serve their consumers better.

A year or so ago I bought some bath oil when it was on sale.  I hadn't used it & several months later I pulled it out & it had weird little floaties all in it.  I was wigged out so I called the company; while they said it was still ok to use, I said I was quite uncomfortable using it.  In the end they sent me a check so I could replace the product.  I did, was quite satisfied with it, and haven't had a problem since. 

Yesterday I was washing dishes in the dishwasher & my Finish Powertab didn't dissolve, it just sort of melted all over a handful of the dishes & made a big nasty mess.  Now this isn't the first time this has happened to me; I'd say it has happened at least 50% of the time & it always results in me having to run the ENTIRE wash cycle again.  It just about kills a water/energy saver like me to waste soooo much unnecessary energy.  Yesterday I got annoyed enough that I vowed to call the company & complain.  It took a little bit of time, 10 minutes or so, but the end result was a coupon for a replacement box of detergent.  I'm still skeptical that it will work, but at least it provides me with some new detergent & I'll give them one more try.

I have also called companies to let them know how much I love their products with mixed results.  Some LOVE that you like their product & will send coupons so you continue to use their product.  I've also called some companies & they've said thanks very much, gave me a little info, but didn't offer and coupons.

I would say that of the handful of times I've actually contacted companies I've had a positive experience, & about 95% of the time I either get a coupon or some sort sample.  While I wouldn't suggest devoting a lot of time to it, if you feel passionately enough, contacting companies to review their performance can be a worthwhile habit.

 Just remember to always be ethical about the call, have the packaging in front of you, and remember you are talking to a HUMAN BEING who deserves to be treated well & with respect.  Even if the Zatarans broke your tooth.  

Saturday, April 9, 2011

This Is Why I Clip Coupons

When we got back from Texas, this was what greeted me in our backyard--a large chunk of our cedar tree on the roof & power lines. Not good.  Not good at all.  In fact our tree guy said we were lucky that the tree didn't pull the electrical from the house; he has seen people lose everything they had in five minutes when a tree falls on the electrical lines.  Needless to say this problem needed to be fixed.

Aside from the safety issue, the only problem was our insurance deductible is $1,000 and the bid for the tree removal was $800. That means we were 100% responsible for paying for this lovely act of nature...Welcome to being a home owner.  While I hate the idea of losing so much money so quickly and not really gaining anything positive from it (no improved energy efficiency, no awesome product to use), I am so unbelievably thankful that the damage was minimal, our family was safe, and mostly, that we have the money in the bank to cover it.

I find that frugal living can at times be rather tedious.  Is it really worth it to send away for a sample that will only provide you one or two shampoos?  Or to spend the time to make your own laundry detergent when you're only saving $5 from the cheap store brand?  Every time one of these unexpected life events occurs I have to answer a resounding yes.  Perhaps it does take a lot of time to live frugally, to clip coupons, and to save money, but to have an emergency fund & to not have to go into debt makes it TOTALLY worth it.

Even if we were to somehow find oil in our backyard & become Beverly Hillbillies, I know I would still live frugally.  I like the comfort of knowing that by living modestly we will have enough for a comfortable life AND be able to pay cash for unexpected expenses.  To me, that makes all of the effort completely worth it. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

What To Do When You Can't Afford Cloth Diapers...

I am a HUGE believer in cloth diapers, but often the start up costs seem daunting.   This is a WONDERFULLY comprehensive article and list of resources for anyone who might be interested in trying cloth, but doesn't have any money to spend.  It's nice to see people using creative ideas to cloth diaper for free.  Check it out here

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

We Are Family

 I'm currently in the Lonestar state staying with my beloved Gram & Gramps.  My mom, uncle, great aunts & uncles have all come to see us.  It's days like today when I truly appreciate the immense noise & joy having family together brings. 

When I was younger, I didn't appreciate the specialness of family.  As I become older, I find such happiness in hearing stories of the past & in the simplicity of seeing people enjoy Emerson.

 As they say on M*A*S*H--  

"I don't care how poor a (wo)man is; if (s)he has family, (s)he's rich." 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Refresh Your Shoes

My sweet little doodle bug is quite hard on her shoes.  She drug them all behind her as she was crawling, and now as she is becoming a toddler, dirty shoes just will not do.  

 In order to clean her shoes, I just took a little bit of fingernail polish remover on a paper towel & rubbed the dickens out of her shoes.  The shoe on the right is the finished effect.  It looks practically brand new.  It works beautifully on leather or rubber soles of shoes, just watch out for will stain them.

This method might not be the greenest, but it makes shoes look brand new & certainly prevents me from going out and buying new shoes.  And that definitely saves lots of green.