Friday, September 14, 2012

Increasing Food Prices

The USDA has recently stated that this summer's drought will most certainly drive up the cost of food in 2013.  In an effort to prevent feeling that increase I've been trying to stock up on non-perishables.  I've gotten a good supply of dried beans, whole wheat flour, whole wheat pasta, dried fruit, & canned (from my gram's garden) & frozen veggies.

Admittedly, reports like this make me feel a little nervous, but I have high hopes that with a little crafty shopping in the coming months we'll be in good shape.  Rather than being paranoid, I figure I'm just being prepared.  Right?!

Anyone else nervous about raising food prices?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Make Your Own Foaming Dish Soap

After seeing the exorbitant price of foaming dish soap in the store, I figured I could make the same thing for much cheaper.  I use dish soap samples, which makes the soap completely free, & a few pumps work just as well as a squirt of regular dish soap. Yeah!  Here's how to make it:  

Simply take an empty foaming soap dispenser & your dish soap. (The same method can be used to make hand soap, just replace the dish soap with hand soap.)

Fill 1/4 of the pump with soap & fill the remainder with water.  Gently mix together.

Voila, you have foaming dish soap! Just add a few pumps to a sink of dishes & you're good to go.  Look forward to long lasting bottles of dish soap & fewer trips to the store!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Natural Fever Reducer


Emerson's currently sick & last night her fever spiked to103.7 & she was maxed out on fever reducers.   Feeling desperate, I remembered an article I read suggesting onions could draw down a fever, & figured it was worth a shot.

I simply cut the onion in half, put the cut side on the bottom of her feet, & covered her feet with socks to keep the onions in place.  Within 15 minutes E's fever was down to two degrees & her room smelled like a burger joint.

Of course this remedy requires a compliant patient; not one who freaks out & pulls off the sock/onion combo within a half an hour.  Regardless, if you're looking for a fast, natural way to draw down a fever, try the onion method.  It definitely seemed to work.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Storing Up For Winter

One of the many wonderful things about summer is the bounty of produce.  We try to eat seasonally, so in the summer, while produce is at the peak of freshness I like to prep & freeze as much as possible for the winter.

When strawberries were on sale for $0.99/lb I went a little nuts & bought 10 lbs to be prepped & frozen.  The frozen fruit isn't so fabulous on its own, but they're delicious in cereal, yogurt, or smoothies. 

Though it's a lot of work, it's nice when the pickings are slim in the winter to be able to walk out to our freezer & taste the freshness of summer.  Plus, the work is much more fun when it's overseen by the happiest little sous chef in town!

Monday, July 23, 2012

It's Back! Lotus Bumz cloth diapers for $8.32 each!

I don't usually share deals, but because this one is a fabulous deal on cloth diapers I figured I would pass it along.  Right now if you sign up with Keekoo (a daily deal site specializing in maternity-child products), you will receive a $10 credit.  You can then use that $10 credit toward one of their daily deals, Lotus Bumz one size pocket diapers.  After the credit is applied you can by 6 for $8.32 each, which is pretty fabulous for a new cloth diaper--especially ones this cute!

Here's how:

In order to use the $10 credit you must spend $50,  chose 6 of the diapers at $9.99, which will bring the subtotal to $59.94, enough to have the $10 credit applied, lowering the total to $49.94.

 I bought these the last time that Keekoo had them & they are FABULOUS!  I can even use them at naptime on Emerson, which is saying something because she's almost 2 1/2.  If you're interested sign up here, but hurry, the deal expires 7/27 at midnight.  

Cloth diapering & is a fabulous money & trash saver, & I just love it.  If you're looking for more information about cloth diapering check out my posts here & here & feel free to ask questions in the comments.  I'm happy to help!

Budget Buster

This weekend I got sick with mastitis...the third time in the three months since Harper was born. The upside is that our breast fed little Harper girl is precious & sweet & very, very healthy.  The major downside is I spent the weekend in bed with Harper & with my frequent sickness our frozen meal supply has been greatly depleted.  The first night we ran out of frozen meals & ended up getting take out the majority of the weekend.  Definitely expensive, definitely not healthy, definite necessity.

Note to self:  When healthy, stock freezer with meals in the case that I get sick yet again.  Seriously.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Stock Up Shopping July Edition

I try to spend as little as possible on groceries & I've found the most effective way to do that is to stock up when things are at their rock bottom prices.  This week when I went shopping these were the things I stocked up on:

  • This was a rare trip & against my usual method of spending $1/box of cereal, but JC & Emerson both love "waisin bwan", so I made an exception.  The cereal was on sale for $1.99, I bought 8 boxes, & after a coupon paid $1.87 a box.

  • Boca Chick'n Patties were on special for $2.89 (they're usually in the $3-$3.50 range at other places), so I bought 6 boxes.  
  • The pretzels were on markdown for $.89 a bag, so I bought 4.  I have been getting pretzels at the Dollar Tree, so saving the trip & paying less was exciting.  

  • 3 bottles of pure vanilla--marked down from $3.69 to $1.84
  • Almond extract--originally $3.69 now $1.84
  • Bay Leaves--clearanced from $2.99 to $1.48
  • Walnuts--reduced from $7.99 to $3.98 for a pound. 
  • And the shoes...well, how could I resist such a cutie pie pair of flats, especially when they were only $4.48, down from $15!
Happy weekend to you!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Give Me My Money Back


I know that credit cards are supposed to be the frugal girl's arch nemesis, but I have one.  I opened it back when I was in college & trying to build my credit, but after a while I quit using it, & sort of forgot about it. 

Then we applied for our mortgage & had to get it in JC's name because I'm younger & didn't have enough credit history, so I figured I better bust out the ol' plastic again.  I mostly use it when I make online purchases & pay it off monthly. 

That is until we had Harper & my brain cells went out my breast milk & I forgot to make the payment last month.  Bam, a THIRTY THREE dollar late fee.  THIRTY THREE DOLLARS!  Holy crap! Absolutely sick at my stomach I called & plead my case to the company.  Fortunately, the girl I spoke with was super sweet & reversed the late fee instantly.  Piece of cake.

So there you go folks, learn from my mistake, & if you do get a late fee, don't hesitate to call & beg for mercy.  They might just be nice & give you your money back.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Little Boxes on the Hillside, Little Boxes Made of Ticky-Tacky

I love a tiny house.  It's a sort of cult movement in which people give up their regular sized homes in favor of smaller, more sustainable dwellings.  MSN recently did a collection of 10 Tiny Homes & they are anything but Ticky-Tacky.  I'm absolutely in love with the above home; if only it were practical for a family of four.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

When Life Hands You Frozen Tomatoes

So our fridge makes me want to bash my head into a wall.  Try as I might to get the proper temperature settings, we still occasionally wind up with a tomato that gets frozen in the produce bin.  I used the throw them out because they become complete mush once they thaw.  That is until it occurred to me that I could actually USE THEM for something.  Um, Duh.

Now I just wash them, cut out the stem, & place the juicy/mushy tomato in a container.  I then proceed to chop it to bits with kitchen scissors.  (How cute are these Woodpecker scissors?!)

The tomato & juice are then perfect for sauces & soups, & I just keep it in the freezer until it's needed.

If only I had thought of this three years ago when we moved into this house...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Why I Mend Our Clothes

Back in the day people used to mend their clothes.  Back when people actually made their clothes rather than running down to the big box store to buy imported goods for a little bit of nothing.  My gram sewed, my grandma sewed, & her Amish relatives sure as heck sewed.  It's something that has been done for generations, & I have gotten into the habit of mending our clothes, & I'm not looking back. 

I'm not a great seamstress.  I don't think my skills ever improved past my 8th grade home-ec class, but I'm proficient enough.  I like the little labor of love sewing a button on JC's shirt, or mending the seam on a pair of Emerson's pants. I enjoy doing the same thing that my grandmothers & their grandmothers did for their families.  Our clothes last longer, our money goes further, & we put less in the landfill.  Mending our clothes is a simple act of love; love for my family & love for the Earth.  Simple. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Toilet Paper Roll Bulldozer

In the name of recycling, I thought I should share this cutie pie craft.  Not only is it absolutely adorable, but it's a fun activity to do while stuck inside due to unbearable heat.  Check out the detailed instructions here.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

DIY Shoe Repair

I am a total shoe girl, so when my favorite pair of sandals started to fall apart I was super disappointed.  I couldn't find a cobbler in town, so when I found an adhesive repair product called Shoe Goo at Target, I figured it was worth a shot

 I simply followed the directions, applied the adhesive, & spread it around with a plastic knife.

I then secured the layers with clothespins.  

After a day, they were as good as new.  The repair was easy, environmentally friendly, & great for my wardrobe.  I'm thrilled to be able to cobble my own shoes!

Monday, July 9, 2012

There is a Season-- Turn, Turn, Turn


We've been settling into life as a family of four &this season of our lives has been incredibly busy.  I feel like we're FINALLY inching our way out of the valley of survival to a somewhat serene plateau.

After our Harper girl was born JC's mom & dad came for visits, followed by my parents & sisters.  

We had Harper dedicated at church at the ripe age of 7 days old.

We've attended 3 weddings, drove 2,500 miles between 5 states, & I even drove the girls all the way to Texas by myself.  

It has been a wonderfully busy & challenging summer, but I'll be happy to return to our simple, frugal life at home, shortly. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

She's Here!

Our little precious peach, lovey girl is finally here.  


Harper Ruthlynn was born today at 3:13 pm weighing in at 8 lbs 5 oz, & 21.5 inches.  

We're doing well & Emerson is LOVING her little sister.  

Thanks be to God for a healthy baby & a smooth delivery!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Freebies In My Mailbox

I love getting the mail every day.  I look forward to it primarily because our mail is frequently peppered with free samples.  I definitely feel conflicted about the amount of waste that smaller sized samples create, but I do try to only order the samples I'll use & recycle all possible materials from the packaging.  I've found that for our budget, samples are a HUGE blessing, as are the coupons that often accompany them.  Here is an example of what we've received in the last week and a half:

Tide Pods
Sample box of Quaker Oat Squares & $1 off coupon (not pictured)
Purex Ultra Pack
Purex Detergent & $0.50 Purex coupon
3 bags of Lipton Tea (Not pictured) & $0.75 off coupon
Marley Organic Coffee
Gevalia Coffee
2 Dr. Weil for Origins Mega-Bright Serum
Garnier Pure Clean Shampoo sample
3 Tampax Tampons & 3 $1 off coupons
1 oz Craisin sample with accompanying coupon for a free bag of Craisins
 And I'm still waiting on my P&G sampler

 If you're interested in learning more about samples, find out my methods for getting free samples here.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Lotus Bumz Cloth Diapers--$7.32 each

I don't usually share deals, but because this one is a fabulous deal on cloth diapers I figured I would pass it along.  Right now if you sign up with Keekoo (a daily deal site specializing in maternity-child products), you will receive a $10 credit.  You can then use that $10 credit toward one of their daily deals, Lotus Bumz one size pocket diapers.  I was able to 6 for $7.32 each, which is pretty fabulous for a new cloth diaper. 
Here's how:
In order to use the $10 credit you must spend $50, so I chose 6 of the $8.99 diapers, which then brought my subtotal to $53.94, enough to have the $10 credit applied, lowering the total to $43.94.  The online reviews look excellent, & since we're about to have 2 in diapers I'm THRILLED to get a deal.  If you're interested sign up here, but hurry, the deal expires tomorrow at 11 am eastern.  

I love cloth diapering & it is a fabulous money & trash saver.  If you're looking for more information about cloth diapering check out my posts here & here & feel free to ask questions in the comments.  I'm happy to help!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

10 Things We Don't Buy

I was inspired by MoneySavingMom's list of 7 things she doesn't buy & thought I'd compile my own:

  • Paper towels/napkins/plates--We use cloth napkins, rags, & real plates at all times. 
  • Electric can opener
  • Shampoo/Conditioner/Body Wash--I use our stockpile, send away for samples, buy things when they're free with coupons, & use what we receive as gifts.  I haven't spent money on any of these things in years.
  • Clothes--I made the commitment not to buy any clothes over a year ago & I've been surprised how little I've needed.  (I did buy 2 maternity shirts when I found out I was pregnant, one for $5 at Goodwill & one for $1 at Target on clearance with a coupon).  JC & I often receive clothing as Christmas presents, & JC spends about $15 every 6 months to get his shirts & pants professionally washed & starched.  It's well worth the money as it helps him feel super professional & keeps him from buying new clothes.  I've also quit buying for Emerson & use what we have on hand unless I can find something for $2 or less brand new. 
  • A Minivan--Though it was tempting to upgrade when we found out our family was expanding we decided we just really didn't need a minivan/ accompanying loss of savings or car payment/bad gas mileage.  We're sticking with our 1996 Honda Civic & 2008 Ford Fusion, both of which are paid off, & will use a car topper when necessary for long trips. 
  • Professional Hair color--The Troyer's go gray early, so I had to start coloring my hair when I turned 24.  I've been using Loreal at home hair color & with coupons & sales I only pay $3/box. 

  • Laundry Detergent/Fabric Softener--I make our own, use vinegar, or we go without fabric softener
  • Commercial Cleaners--I was able to get some 7th generation for free after coupons & rebate several years ago, but as that is getting used I simply rely on borax, baking soda, vinegar, & salt to get the job done. 
  • Bottled Water--We've got a filtration system in our fridge & fill reusable water bottles.
  • Candles/Air fresheners--I use a candle warmer to use up scraps of wax or I make our candles.  Instead of air fresheners we use old body splash that has been sitting around for years.  It works just as well & doesn't include any propellants. 
Things We Hardly Spend Any Money On--Many of these things I thought that we didn't spend any money on, but when I REALLY thought about it, I could find occasional exceptions.

  • Cloth Diapers & Wipes--Despite using cloth diapers & cloth wipes that majority of the time, we do use disposable diapers for church & at night & use disposable wipes for nasty number 2s.  It's still a huge savings & it definitely saves on our trash output.  

Dryer--I air dry all of our laundry, but if & when JC does laundry, he does use the dryer.  I'd say we're 95% dryer free, which still seems pretty good to me. 

What do you go without?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Price Matching for Produce

I've never price matched at Walmart before, but this past weekend I was too tired to drive across town to Aldi, so I decided to go several blocks & price match Aldi's produce prices at Walmart.   I found it to be an extremely easy process.  I simply went in, grabbed the produce I needed, & had the Aldi sale flier handy for the cashier while checking out. 

I was able to get the pineapples & cantaloupes for $0.99 each, strawberries for $0.99/lb, & grapes for $0.89/lb.  I'm sorry to say I didn't pay much attention to the existing produce prices at Walmart, but I do know the Walmart price for pineapples was $2.25 each, so that alone was a great savings. 

I was told that Walmart cannot price match produce prices if they are priced per tray (Aldi had a 4 count tray of pears for $0.99), they need prices per lb. or individual prices, but other than that, price matching was a piece of cake.  I'm not sure it's something I'll do all that frequently, but for days when I'm just too worn out to drive across town it's a great alternative, especially as I currently like to eat an entire pineapple in one sitting!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Frugal Fashionista: Mother/Daughter Edition

It has been a while since I've shared our frugal fashions, so I figured there was no time like the present. I also included where the cost of the items I could remember...

Dress:  Target clearance--birthday present last year

Tank Top:  Liz Lange maternity--$2 after clearance & coupon

Cardigan:  Banana Republic--Christmas present

Leggings:  JC Penney--$1 after $10 off coupon (oh how I miss those)

Boots:  Steve Madden--Christmas present

Don't mind the smudgy mirror & terrible quality of this photo

Cardigan:  Steve Madden TJ Maxx

Shirt:  Motherhood Maternity--hand me down

Skirt:  Avatar

Shirt:  Liz Lange Maternity--$5 at Goodwill

Jeans:  Liz Lange Maternity--$2 at garage sale

And why not include our little sweetheart...

Seersucker Dress: Hand-me-down

Thank goodness you don't have to spend a ton of money to feel fashionable!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Frugal Experiment: Cooking Dried Beans in the Crock Pot

I have long heard that cooking dried beans is more economical than buying canned beans.  Approximately 95% of our meals are vegetarian & we go through a lot of beans in a month, so when I recently found packages of black beans for $0.30/lb I figured it might be a worthwhile experiment. 

Simply sort & wash the beans.  

Find a recipe, pour beans, water, & seasonings in the crock pot.  

Cook overnight or approx 8 hours, drain (if desired), package, & freeze.  Piece of cake!

Here are a few things I learned from my little frugal experiment:
  • Do not overlook the importance of sorting & rinsing the beans before you cook them. You won't save any money using dried beans if you need expensive dental work to repair a chipped tooth from an overlooked rock.  Emerson & I sorted our beans while watching a movie, & she thought it was the greatest thing ever.  
  • Aside from water to bean measurements, you don't necessarily need a recipe. I decided to double & loosely follow this recipe, but my beans ended up too spicy for E, so I can only use them for chili or other foods that she wouldn't normally eat.  Major bummer.
  • If you do find a great deal on dried beans, STOCK UP!  I only bought two 1 lb packages of beans because I hadn't tried cooking with dried beans before.  I am now chock full of cheap bean regret.  Chock full.
  • Unless you find a fabulous deal on dried beans, this might not be the most economical choice for you.  The Simple Dollar does an in depth cost analysis of dried vs. canned beans, but from my experience,  unless I find a fabulous deal, I cannot buy dried beans cheaper than I can canned.  
I'm definitely pleased I tried cooking with dried beans, & hope to again in the near long as I can get a good price.  

Friday, March 16, 2012

Homemade Butter in a Mason Jar

Recently, I purchased some cream for potato soup & while contemplating what to do with the remaining cream, I remembered making homemade butter with my gram when my sisters & I were little.  
Don't mind the crap photo, JC had our camera & I had to use my cell.  Apologies. 
It was SUPER simple & quite satisfying.  I used this tutorial as a rough guide (I didn't wash the butter or salt it), filled two small mason jars halfway, & shook the dickens out of them.  I did the shaking while watching Lord of the Rings & it took me from the beginning of the movie until Frodo was running to Buckleberry Ferry @ The Inn of the Prancing Pony.  For you non-LOTR nerds, I would approximate it was a good 15 minutes of shaking.

The cream separated into butter & a lovely buttermilk, which I poured off & collected for the following morning's pancakes.  Both the pancakes & the butter were delicious & it was such a good use of something that often spoils.  If you've never tried making butter it's a fun arm workout & has tasty results.  Plus, how many people churn their own butter anymore?!  You could be one of just a few!

Happy churning!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Bakery Outlet: Frugal Treasure or Rip Off?

Today, after reading & reading about the wonders of bakery outlets, Emerson & I finally ventured to our local Hostess Bakery Outlet.  I admit, I went in with extremely high hopes of dirt cheap baked goods, cereal, & more. Unfortunately, I didn't find the cheap confections I had assumed I would. 

Here's what I did find:
  • A very clean little shop--The store was set up nicely, with cute, tiny carts, & very pristine, orderly shelves.  
  • A rather limited selection--There really weren't all that many options & I only found a few loaves of whole wheat bread.
  • Prices weren't what I would consider outlet--In general, all of the bakery prices seemed just as high as regular retail.  With the exception of packages of a dozen whole wheat hamburger buns (meant for restaurants), everything was higher than Aldi's prices.  For instance, plain bagels at Aldi are $1.49.  The outlet had plain bagels for $1.79.  
Our local Dollar Tree doesn't have a set day in which they get their baked goods, which makes getting consistent deals difficult, but I think for now I'll stick to trying to get our whole wheat bread for a dollar & supplement with baked goods from Aldi.  

It was worth a shot...