Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Resolutions - Losing Weight

One of the top New Year's resolutions is to lose weight. As someone who struggles with weight, it is a very hard thing to do. I have lost some, but I still have a ways to go. So far, I have lost around 20 pounds. I do feel better in general even losing that amount. I need to lose about 80 more pounds. The New Year is a great time to refocus on those efforts.

I have found a very useful tool to aid in the weight loss process. It is incredibly helpful, it is free, and it has accountability built in. It is an online course, really a bible study, that digs deep. There is a daily lesson with questions and answers. What this program does is pair you up with a mentor who has already successfully completed the course. This mentor reads your lessons and responds accordingly. It has been so good for me. I wanted to pass it along, especially during a time when so many will be focusing on losing weight. You can find the course, called "The Lord's Table", at . And I am going to use the New Year as a time to refocus and continue along on my way to my weight loss goal.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Homemade Oatmeal Facial Mask

I was in need of a little "mommy pampering" time today. I decided to have my own personal home spa. And it only cost me a few cents. Bonus! And it involved all natural ingredients from my kitchen, no extra added chemicals. Double bonus!

I took an oatmeal milk bath (scented with dried rose petals), you can find the recipe for this at . I also conditioned my hair with a homemade hot oil hair treatment, which I posted previously .

I decided that along with all of that, I wanted to try my hand at making a homemade facial mask. I came up with this recipe using things I had on hand at the house. I think the one I ended up making would probably work best for those that have combiniation skin and struggle with acne (that's me!). After using this mask, I did notice that the redness from my acne was reduced some, and my skin felt fabulous!

Oatmeal Facial Mask

1/4 cup ground oatmeal (grind in a blender or food processor)
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 tablespoons witch hazel
1/2 tablespoon lemon or lime juice (I used lime because that's what I had on hand)

Mix all ingredients together. Initially, it will fizz a little from the baking soda and lime juice, but not much. Wet face with warm water. Apply mixture to face and leave on for approximately 20 minutes. Rinse off and pat dry.

This facial mask does tingle a little bit, so if you have sensitive skin, you may want to test it on a small area of skin first. To me, it felt very similar to store bought facial products that have alpha-hydroxy in them. Overall, I am very pleased with the results and like it better than any product I have bought at the store. I will definitely be using this again!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Evaporated Milk Recipe

Recently, I posted a recipe for sweetened condensed milk. I liked it so well that I thought I would see if there was a recipe for evaporated milk out there somewhere in cyberspace. Sure enough, there was! I tried it out on the old Fantasy Fudge recipe from the Kraft Marshmallow Cream jar. The recipe turned out great! Now that I know how to make my own sweetened condensed milk and my own evaporated milk, the cost of my holiday baking goes down even further.

Evaporated Milk Recipe

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 cup powdered milk
2 tablespoons butter

Mix powdered milk and warm water together. Add butter. In a small pan, heat mixture together. Beat well, cool, and store in the refrigerator.

I used a whisk to stir it while cooking it on the stove, it seemed to work really well for me that way. This recipe is from recipezaar.
If you are interested in the Kraft Fantasy Fudge recipe (and this is the original one, they have changed it on the current marshmallow cream jars), you can find it here.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Saving Money On Movies

I like to watch movies from time to time. The theater is usually a no-go for us because it is so expensive to go nowadays, especially with a family of five. The snacks are outrageously priced too. Then there's the whole issue of the kids sitting still during the movie, without having to take twenty trips to the bathroom (OK, so maybe I am exaggerating a little there!). There are way more reasons for us to skip the theater than there are to actually go.

That brings us to movie rentals. Yes, they are much more affordable. And children who do not care to watch the movie are free to roam and play closeby instead. Many people are going with Netflix these days. That can be a bargain for sure, but if at all possible, I like to keep our business local and help the local economy and business guy out. Many movie rental stores have specials for additional savings, so it may be worth it to check it out. Our local store has "Movie Mondays", where I can go rent any movie in the store for $.99, including new releases. Plus the fact that this movie store has rentals that are allowed to be out for anywhere from 2-7 days, so I don't have to watch them right away if I don't have time to. Or if I don't want to go on Monday, they have another special, 5 movies for 5 dollars, but you can't get new releases on the deal. You can always call the local movie stores and ask about specials.

One more idea I would like to throw in there is the local library. Many times, renting movies from there is free. That is not an option for us because of the distance of our library from us. They have to be back the next day, and that just doesn't work for us because of the drive to get there. But I know of many families who happily rent movies from their local library.

For us, using the specials gives us significant savings. Just because you are on a budget doesn't mean you have to miss out on entertainment. There are ways to enjoy a movie for significantly less, and honestly it is just more convenient for us anyhow.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cappuccino Gift

I had previously posted a recipe for Instant Cappuccino Mix . I made it into a cute gift by putting the cappuccino mix into a mason jar and giving it a decorative Christmas touch. I placed a square of fabric over the lid and screwed the band around it. For the fabric, I cut it out using pinking shears to prevent fraying and to make it look pretty. Then I tied a matching red ribbon around the band. Voila! Pretty, decorative, useful gift!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

My Homemade Hot Fudge Sauce Recipe

We like hot fudge sauce around here! Besides being less expensive than store bought sauce, it is a whole lot yummier! (I KNOW - is is even possible for hot fudge sauce to get any yummier?) This recipe is one of our favorite treats served with vanilla ice cream. It is really easy to make.

Hot Fudge Sauce Recipe

1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk
Milk, if needed

Place all ingredients except for milk in a medium saucepan. Stir continuously over medium heat until ingredients are melted and well blended. If necessary, add milk in small amounts while continually stirring to reach desired consistency. Serve immediately.

This recipe store well in a covered container in the fridge and can be microwaved to reheat. Also, see my post on homemade sweetened condensed milk in place of canned. It can be found at .

Monday, December 7, 2009

Make Your Own Sweetened Condensed Milk

This is another little recipe I came across in "The Madison County Cookbook". I didn't know this was possible before I read it, but you can make your own sweetened condensed milk. I know right now, a 14 oz. can of the stuff costs around $2.00. In the recipe notes, it said that the store bought cans of the stuff at that time cost around $1.45 each, but that this recipe only costs around $.25 to make the equivalent. I am sure it costs a little bit more than $.25 in today's economy, but it is still significantly less to make it yourself versus buying it.

With the holiday baking season in full swing, I decided I would give this recipe a trial run before I use it in all of my special Christmas goodies. I have a homemade hot fudge recipe that calls for sweetened condensed milk, so I tried it out on that one. My family couldn't tell the difference, and it tasted the same as it always tastes - delicious! I will definitely be using this recipe more often when I am in need of sweetened condensed milk. And I will also post my hot fudge recipe soon too - it's very simple and very yummy!

Sweetened Condensed Milk

1 cup powdered milk
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup boiling water
3 tablespoons melted butter

Put all the ingredients into a blender and mix at high speed until smooth. Use this in any recipe that calls for Eagle Brand condensed milk. Makes 14 ounces.

It will be rather thick, but then again, so is canned sweetened condensed milk. This is the equivalent of one can.

P.S. This came from page 233 of "The Madison County Cookbook", copyright 1994.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Instant Cappuccino Mix Recipe - Gift Idea!

I was looking through a cookbook last night that I have had around the house for while. I picked it up at a thrift store about a year ago and have thumbed through it before, but never paid close attention to what was actually in there. It is a quaint country-style-homecooking type of cookbook called "The Madison County Cookbook", ala "The Bridges of Madison County". It is chock full of great recipes, but this particular one caught my eye. I was thinking "thrifty gift" when I saw it.

I have a few ideas to make it into a rather cute gift. I could repurpose some small coffee cans to use to store the cappuccino mix. To make it presentable and cutesy, the cans could be covered in some fancy paper or a nice fabric. Another idea, which is probably what I will do (especially since I just gave my empty coffee cans to my daughter to craft with), is to place the mix in some Mason canning jars and use some ginghamed Christmas fabric over the top of the lid with some pretty ribbon for presentation. Or I could just go and buy some cute decorative containers to gift it in (there are lots of cute Christmasty tins and such for sale right now). I know a few people who would appreciate a cappuccino gift :)

Now on to the recipe. I made some of this mix tonight, and so far the verdict is that it is a keeper!

Instant Cappuccino Drink Mix

1 cup instant coffee creamer

1 cup instant chocolate drink mix

2/3 cup instant coffee

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Store in an airtight container. To make cappucino, mix 2 tablespoons per cup of hot water (add more or less to get desired flavor). Top with whipped cream sprinkled with cinnamon, nutmeg, or chocolate shavings, if desired.

I should also add, I like extra spice, so I added a little bit more cinnamon than the recipe called for. It is delicious!

P.S. This recipe is found on page 61 of "The Madison County Cookbook", copyright 1994.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Cutting Costs On Laundry

Laundry is one of those unavoidable chores. Since it is a regular household chore, finding ways to save money cleaning clothes will definitely contribute to cutting costs. There are ways to save on the cleaning products, as well as cutting costs on your energy usage. Here are my best money saving tips on laundry:

1. Wash most of your clothing in cold water, rather than using warm or hot water. After we started doing this, our monthly utility bill went down. If you use cold water, it costs less because the water heater will use that much less energy heating more water. The one thing I still use hot water for is when I wash cloth diapers. That is a sanitary issue, so I will not use exclusively cold water on those. Everything else gets washed in cold water.

2. Make your own laundry detergent. I have been making my own for quite a while now. It contains less chemicals than store bought laundry detergent, and it is also quite a bit less expensive. I posted my laundry detergent recipe when I first started this blog, it can be found at . There is also a website that has a variety of laundry detergent recipes, it is .

3. Vinegar can be used as a natural fabric softener. It can be easily done if you put it in a Downy ball. I personally still like to use my regular fabric softener. If you prefer to do that, stock up when there are good sales and clip coupons. You can also buy the store brand of fabric softener as well, it is usually priced substantially cheaper than the name brands.

4. Homemade stain remover costs less than buying it. I have a recipe posted, you can find it at . Or you could buy stain remover in bulk from a place like Sam's Club.

5. Line dry your clothing. It costs less because it uses no energy from the dryer. We have cold winters where I am from, and I have allergies (I don't want pollen sticking to my clothes), so I personally don't line dry, but I would if I could.

The best thing you can do to cut costs is to find ways to reduce your energy usage. Switching to homemade detergent, or finding a detergent that costs less is the next best way to save.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Downs Syndrome Orphan Needs a Family

Some friends of mine recently adopted a boy with Down's Syndrome from the Ukraine. Sean came home to be with his family last May. While they were at the orphanage, they met another little girl named Lacie, but they were unable to bring her home at the time. They have not forgotten about her and would like to be able to go back and get her. It costs alot of money to do so, but by going to rescue these children, their lives are being saved. The special needs children are placed in institutions if they are not adopted by the age of 4. They do not do well there and often die as a result. You can read more about it on their blog, . There is also a place to donate towards the cause at their site.

You can also read more about adopting children with special needs through . I would also like to add that the Adamson family is a very nice family who love and care for their children dearly. Their home is a wonderful home for a child to become a part of.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cute Potholders to Crochet - Gift Idea!

I found this incredibly cute potholder pattern through . I was going to try a few other patterns I found there, but after trying this one I am hooked! (No pun intended!) It is a simple cobble stitch to get the textured look, and then layered with a picot edge trim. The pattern is called "Maryanne's Potholder" and it can be found at .

In the pattern, it suggests using some yarn to hold the pieces together while joining the two sides. I personally found it easier to just use four safety pins, one at each corner, and remove them after the project is finished. I have made these in quite a few color combinations, my personal favorite is a cream color with a darker contrasting color. The beige ones are nice too, though.

These little cuties can be whipped up quickly and would make a great Christmas gift, or any other kind of gift you might want to give. I plan on giving them in matching pairs. They would go nicely along with a jar of homemade jam or jelly, if you happen to have some on hand. I have tons of chokecherry jelly that I made in preparation for Christmas, so that's what I will be giving out to many unsuspecting family members (unless they are reading my blog, which will leave them suspecting) along with these dainty, yet hefty, potholders.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Saving Money On Shipping Packages

I just paid for postage online and printed my own shipping label. No long lines at the post office, super easy, more convenient, and CHEAPER! I can drop the package off with the mailman, or drive it to the post office and drop it in the drop box. The web address is . It does help that I have a small postal scale at home already, but there are also fixed rate priority mail boxes and envelopes that have a high a weight limit. The online rates are discounted rates. It does cost less to ship by doing it online than it does to take your packages into the post office. I don't know about you, but I am sure happy to NOT have to wait in long holiday lines at the post office, AND pay less for shipping!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Crockpot Lasagna

This recipe has quickly become a family favorite. To me, it is easier to make than conventional lasagna, mostly because with the crockpot I can leave it be and not worry about it until dinnertime. I have a larger size family crockpot, so if you use a smaller one, adjustments to the amounts of the ingredients may have to be made.

Crockpot Lasagna

1 pound cooked ground beef

1-2 packages uncooked lasagna noodles

22 ounce container cottage cheese

2 - 26 ounce cans or jars of spaghetti sauce

4 cups shredded cheese

1 cup water

Place enough sauce inside of crockpot to lightly cover the bottom. Place a layer of uncooked lasagna noodles on top of that (I do have to break some of the pieces to get it to fit right). Place some sauce, ground beef, and cheese on top of the noodles. Add another layer of noodles, then add sauce and some cottage cheese. Alternate layers until ground beef and cottage cheese are used up. Then add another layer of noodles, remaining sauce, and remaining cheese on top. Pour 1 cup of water evenly around the edges of the lasagna. Cook on high setting for 1 hour, then cook on low setting for around 4-5 hours.

If I happen to have mushrooms on hand, I have added them as well. I also prefer to use the whole wheat lasagna noodles. Hodgeson Mills brand makes a really good one! This recipe also makes enough for us to have a couple of meals out of it.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Planning Meals

I have decided that I am going to try to be more organized and less wasteful by planning our meals. We are going to give it a whirl, and I am sure that this is a great way to reduce spending! I am hoping that this will help me use up things like fresh produce before it goes bad because I forgot that we had it. I am thinking it will also help me to utilize the ingredients in my cupboard as well, before I go out and get more! I have thought of doing this before, but have never gotten serious about it. I think it will also help me to plan ahead enough to avoid eating out as much as possible.

I found some awesome printable meal planning charts over at . They have them for weekly or monthly menu planning. I am going to start out with the weekly meal planning form. I think doing the monthly one would be too overwhelming for me. I am also going to plan on having my family help me plan the meals by giving their input. By doing this, I think the transition to meal planning will go more smoothly and the family will be sure to have some of their favorites on the menu. I think I am also going to look around some more, they seem to have lots of ideas and tools for being more organized, and their printables are free!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Excellent Turkey Recipe

Looking for a last minute great tasting turkey recipe? Do I have the recipe for you! This is the only recipe I have ever tried, and I will not try another one because this one is so good! The family always gives it rave reviews every time, and the meat is super moist and delicious (even the white meat).

My recipe is based on the Paula Deen turkey recipe. I find it pretty simple to do, using my roaster instead of my oven makes it even easier. I use less energy, plus it cooks faster in there, and my oven is free to use for other Thanksgiving goodies.

Super Moist Roasted Turkey

1 turkey, thawed
1 medium sized onion, quartered
1/2 cup melted butter
2 bay leaves
Italian Seasoning

Empty the turkey cavities (don't forget to check the neck cavity - this has happened to me before!). Place the quartered onion inside the main cavity, along with the bay leaves (you can always add more fresh herbs in there if you like to add flavor). Close the legs by putting them back into the turkey stirrups (I have no idea what those things are called!). Take the melted butter and baste the entire turkey. Then sprinkle the Italian seasoning over the entire bird. Cook according to directions on turkey wrapper, or according to instruction in your roaster manual (this will be different than cooking it in an oven because it does have a tendency to cook faster). When the turkey is done, discard the onion and herbs.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Free Greeting Cards

I love going to the store and looking at all the cards when I need one for a special occasion. But then I see how much some of these cards cost, it's pretty crazy! I have seen regular greeting cards cost more than $5 a piece. Granted, not all of them cost that much, and there are ways to get nice greeting cards for a much more reasonable price. However, I often find that the cards available for $.99 are pretty well picked over, and there isn't much of a selection.

If you are on a tight budget and need a card, there are ways to do it for next to nothing. There is always the dollar store, they might have them pretty cheap. If you have kids, they can make a greeting card for whatever occasion you need one for. Some occasions may not be appropriate for this, however. You could always make your own greeting card as well. If you are good at things like scrapbooking, this is an excellent way to save on greeting cards and add a nice personal touch.

Then there's always the internet. There are plenty of sites out there that are devoted to free printable greeting cards. Some of them want your personal information before they will let you print a card. I tend to steer clear of these because then it opens up my email for junk mail. We just used a site today that looks pretty good. My daughter has a birthday party to go to, and she found a card she liked at . They even have cute little envelopes to make to go along with your card. There is also or . There are other sites that are free, such as but you have to become a member to use those. Happy card making!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Easy Stir Fry Recipe

We just finished eating some delicious stir fry! Yum! I used to buy the little seasoning packets at the grocery store that cost $1.00 or more per packet, plus you still had to add the soy sauce and the sugar yourself. I found some recipe ideas online to adapt and make my own stir fry sauce from scratch. I like it even better than the store bought packets, and the ingredients are things that I usually have around the house. Bonus! The honey and the brown sugar are interchangeable, but I prefer making it with the honey.

Easy Stir Fry Sauce

2-3 Tbsp cornstarch

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed, or 1/4 cup honey

2 cloves minced garlic

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup cider vinegar or white vinegar

1/2 cup water

1 1/2 cups vegetable, chicken, or beef broth

Combine ingredients in a large bowl, mix well. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large skillet or wok. Add meat and brown (if using meat). Add veggies, stir fry. Add desired amount of sauce and bring to a boil. Boil until slightly thickened. If you have leftover sauce, it will store in the fridge for up to two weeks.

We like to serve our stir fry over whole wheat or whole grain spaghetti noodles. Of course, rice goes well with it if you prefer that. We like using the noodles because it is something a little bit different, and it tastes great! I also choose to use all of the sauce at once, because we like our stir fry saucy :) I hope you like this recipe as much as we do!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Recipe

This recipe is a favorite around our house! We eat it for snacks, and sometimes for breakfast too. I adapted this recipe from another one and made it my own. We have also served it to guests in our home, who always enjoy it :)

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 beaten eggs

3 mashed bananas

2 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 cup ground flax seeds

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup chocolate chips

Combine ingredients in order given. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour in a greased loaf pan.

I have also used this recipe to make muffins with. Just place batter in muffin tins and reduce baking time to 30-35 minutes. This recipe will also fit well into an 8x8 baking pan in place of a loaf pan. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Tips For Saving At The Grocery Store

We went grocery shopping yesterday. I am always on the lookout for savings, and I was pretty happy that I got a cart load of groceries for $75. With a family of 5, I think that is doing pretty well! I just thought I would offer up a few tips that I use for saving at the grocery store :)

1. Wal-Mart is usually NOT the cheapest place to get groceries. Their prices are consistently low, but there are ways to save at the grocery store even moreso than at Wal-Mart. Although, Wal-Mart will usually match the grocery store ad prices if you bring the flyer along with you. I just prefer not to go to Wal-Mart myself, mostly because of the crowds. The local grocery store also usually offers better customer service, like drive-up service to pick up your groceries, or a bag boy/girl to help you get them to your car. I have to say that I have really appreciated that service, especially when I have some squirrely children along with me :)

2. Shop the local grocery ads. You can get some great deals doing this! Usually the front page and the back page have the best deals listed on them. The best deal I got at the store this week was to buy two Dole bagged salads (2 for $5), and get a pint of grape tomatoes, a bag of shredded carrots, a cucumber, and a bottle of salad dressing all for free. I also got fresh mangos for $.79 each, and apples for $.49 a pound.

3. Clip coupons, but use them wisely! I clip coupons, but am cautious about how I use them. If I am going to use a coupon for something, it usually has to be on sale as well, otherwise it is not worth it to me. This week, I got some Red Baron pizzas for cheap. They were on sale for something like $3.79, plus I had $1 off coupons. My husband likes my home cooking, but does appreciate the junky food every now and then!

4. Buy less pre-packaged foods. We all love convenience foods, but they can get expensive, plus they really aren't that good for you. It does take more work to cook from scratch, but if you make extra it will last for a meal or two. Heating up leftovers is just as convenient as popping a frozen pizza in the oven. I don't usually buy convenience food unless is it on sale and/or I have a really good coupon to go along with it.

5. Know where the store clearance areas are. I have gotten plenty good deals shopping this way. One of my latest deals was buying several large bottles of John Frieda hair conditioner for $1.00 each. I have also gotten ziploc baggies for $.50 a box this way too.

6. Stock up when there are really good sales. If there is a product on sale that you will consistently use, it is worth it to buy alot of it. A while back at our grocery store, they had Secret deoderant and Xtreme Sport deoderant on sale for $1.00 each. My husband and I both like those brands, and we bought around $20 worth of deoderant. Those deoderants usually cost around $4 each, so at $1 each it was definitely worth it to stock up.

7. Check your receipt after you check out. I do this consistently, and you would be surprised at how often there are mistakes that result in being overcharged. One time there was a difference of over $8.00! It has happened often enough that I make an effort to check it every time. If you are overcharged, take your receipt to the customer service counter and show them what you were overcharged for. Sometimes the stores just didn't get the sale price in the computer correctly, or an employee may have mislabeled a product. Most of the time the store will be happy to sort out the errors with you and give you the difference of what you were overcharged for.

These are some of my tips for saving money at the grocery store. If you have any more tips, feel free to share!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Hubby's Shepard Pie Recipe

My hubby likes to cook from time to time. When he does, I figure it best to stay out of the way. He takes over my kitchen! He made up this recipe tonight, and has offered it up for my blog. What a sweetie! It was a hit with the kids, and I will admit that it was pretty good too :)

Hubby's Shepard Pie

1 pound browned ground beef, buffalo, or turkey
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
4 oz. can mushrooms, drained
12 oz. can of corn, drained
2 cups prepared brown gravy
4 cups mashed potatoes
1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese

Brown the meat along with the onion. Combine ground beef, onion, worcestershire sauce, mushrooms, corn, and gravy. Spread evenly in a 13x9 inch baking pan. Top evenly with mashed potatoes, then with cheese. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Free Crochet Patterns

It is getting to be that time of year when thinking about holiday gifts becomes more of a priority. I have been to several crafting stores today to look at pattern books for crocheting gifts. This year, I am more into slippers and socks. In past years, I have crocheted scarves, gloves, hats, afghans, etc.

My problem is that I like one pattern in each book, but I probably wouldn't use the rest of them. I hate to spend the money to buy a whole pattern book for just one pattern that I will use. I decided I would come home and look for some crocheting patterns on the internet and see what I could come up with. At least then, I can find one pattern I like, and I am not out $10 or more dollars for buying the pattern book.

The website has many, many, many free patterns, plus links to other free patterns. To see what kind of patterns are available on this website, click on the "site index" option at the bottom of the webpage. Their website says they have thousands of free patterns available. You're sure to get some new ideas for projects just by browsing around there! The picture on this page is actually their logo. What a neat website!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Great Turkey Sale at Safeway!

Click Here for the 2011 Turkey Sale!!!

I just finished reading the Wednesday grocery ads to discover that 'tis the season for buying cheap turkeys! For the last couple of years, we have made an effort to get to Safeway and stock up on their super cheap turkeys. This keeps us well supplied with some poultry for the entire year. If you are going to do this, it helps to have an extra freezer. If you don't, you could always cook all of the turkeys within a few days of getting them, and then freeze the cooked meat in freezer bags or some sort of container. We use the cooked turkey meat for all sorts of things, like turkey alfredo, turkey noodle soup, turkey sandwiches, etc.

The specials this week on turkeys are:
- Safeway Turkey up to 16 pounds, $5.88 each
- Safeway Turkey 16 pounds and over, $6.88 each
- Honeysuckle Turkey up to 16 pounds, $8.88 each
- Honeysuckle Turkey 16 pounds and over $9.88 each

These are each limit one, and require a minimum $10 purchase, plus you need a Safeway Club Card. In the past, I have been able to make a $10 purchase, plus buy one of each kind of turkey on sale. It is limit one of each kind, so you should be able to buy one of each per trip to the store. My family is very fond of turkey, and this is a great way to stock up on meat for a relatively low price. Check out to see if your area is having the turkey sale.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Diapering For Less

Ah, the joys of motherhood! Diapers! Diapers are one of the bigger expenses of having a baby. The Real Diaper Association,, estimates that it costs roughly $1,600 to diaper a child for two years in disposables. That's alot of money! (Note: there are lots of other interesting diapering facts on that website too!).

One of the ways to save money on diapering is to use cloth diapers. There are many advantages to this. Saving money on diapers long-term is a definite bonus. Using cloth cuts down on waste and disposal as well. You can always re-sell your diapers when you are done with them and recoup some of the cost. While you cannot sell used cloth diapers on Ebay anymore, there are other sites around to sell them at, such as Also, has very reasonable prices for a very simple cloth diaper. We use the diaper covers, and I really do like them alot!

One of the disadvantages of cloth diapers is that the initial upfront cost is quite a bit. It is like spending your entire diaper budget all at once. Buying used diapers can help with that, or you could make your own cloth diapers if you know how to sew. There are many free cloth diaper patterns out there on the web. Some mothers will also make diapers and sell them as a business. There are also ideas about how to make them economically for less on some of these websites. This website,, has links to several different kinds of free cloth diaper patterns.

Right now, we use both cloth and disposable diapers. I was converted to cloth diapers by a friend, I actually bought my first diapers used from her. To me, doing diaper laundry was just an added chore, but I have found that it really isn't so bad after all. I like to use the cloth diapers when we are home, and the disposables overnight and when we are out and about.

Saving money on disposables is also possible. I have found that the generic diapers, most of the time, serve our needs just fine. I know some people have to use name brand diapers for various reasons. If you use name brand diapers, sign up at or and get on their mailing list for coupons. They send out some pretty good coupons, and I have noticed that in this economy, the coupons are better than usual. Use those coupons when the diapers are on sale, and sometimes you can get the name brand diapers for the same price as the generics. Some stores, like Walgreen's, sometimes have really good sales on their brand of diapers, like buy one get one free. If there is a sale like that, it is a good time to stock up on diapers for a while if you have the money to do so. Target also has a really good generic diaper for a reasonable price. When we buy their diapers, we usually get a large box of them for around $13-$14 (considering that Pampers and Huggies are usually around $20-$25 for the same size box, the savings are significant).

Whether you use cloth or disposable diapers, there are ways to cut costs and save money!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Peanut Butter Playdough

We like to play with playdough around our house from time to time. A fun twist to playing with playdough is playing with edible playdough. The kids have alot of fun with this activity, and it tastes pretty good too!

Peanut Butter Playdough

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup dry powdered milk
2 tbsp. honey

Mix ingredients together until it forms a plyable dough.

Diaper Cream Recipe

I found this recipe today for homemade diaper cream. We are trying it out, so far I like it. I like it because it is made from ingredients in my kitchen, without all of the extra added chemicals and preservatives. Not only that, but it is super thrifty, and it seems to be doing well for my little one's diaper irritation. Super simple, super thrifty!

Diaper Cream

3 Tbsp Cornstarch
2 Tbsp Olive Oil

Mix together to form a paste, add more cornstarch or oil to get desired consistency, if necessary. Store in a covered container.

I personally added a little bit extra cornstarch because I wanted the paste to be a little bit thicker. I got the recipe from this website:

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Crockpot Turkey & Noodles Recipe

I made up this recipe using things I had around the house. My family really seemed to enjoy it, so I am passing it along!

Crockpot Turkey & Noodles
1 16 oz package of elbow macaroni
2 cups cooked turkey (or chicken) cut into smaller pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced carrots
1 6.5 oz can of mushrooms
1 10.5 oz can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 jar alfredo sauce
3 cups water

Combine all ingredients in crock pot. Cook on high setting for an hour, then cook on low setting for four hours.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Crockpots Are Our Friends

I LOVE my crockpot! When trying to be thrifty, you will find that a crockpot most definately is your friend. There are many advantages to using the crockpot vs. using the stove or oven. The energy used to cook with the crockpot is less than using the oven or stove, thus saving money on your energy bill. Using my crockpot also allows me to plan ahead for busy days and have a meal ready to go for supper instead of eating out when I know there is going to be a time crunch in the evenings (that saves lots of money too!). It is also easier to eat healthy using the crockpot.

My favorite part about using the crockpot is that it allows me to prepare dinner for my family in the mornings (my most productive part of the day) rather than in the evenings, when I am starting to get tired. If I plan ahead and use the crockpot, it is easier to resist eating out or feeding my family convenience food that really isn't that healthy. Plus, my house smells good all day from the food cooking!

Some things I make in my crockpot regularly include lasagna, chili, pea soup, pot roast, chicken and rice, lentil soup, and pork ribs. In the near future, I will be posting some of my crockpot recipes, so stay tuned!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Homemade Hot Oil & Honey Hair Treatment

I happened upon a recipe online for a homemade hot oil conditioning hair treatment. I decided to try it out for fun. I have bought the occasional hot oil treatment from the store, but those can be pretty expensive. So far, I am impressed with this hair treatment and I will probably use it again. It is rather simple, I found it here.

Honey Deep Hair Conditioner

1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp olive oil

Combine ingredients and heat up in the microwave. Apply to hair and wrap in a warm towel for 30 minutes. Rinse and shampoo hair.

This left my hair looking and feeling shiny and soft. I have longer hair, so I tripled this recipe. The honey and the oil mix together quite nicely when warmed up. I hope you enjoy this little pampering as much as I did!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Homemade Laundry Stain Remover

One of my daughters has been checking cookbooks out from the library. She was looking through them and saw this recipe and showed it to me. I don't know how well it works, when my current stain remover runs out I will probably try it out. This recipe comes from the cookbook "Recipes Kids Vote For." Why kids voted for a stain remover, I have no clue! LOL!

Homemade Stain Remover

1/2 cup ammonia

1/2 cup white vinegar

1/4 cup baking soda

2 Tbsp liquid dish soap

2 quarts water

Mix all ingredients together and pour into a spray bottle. Shake solution before each use. Spray on stain and let it soak for a few minutes before washing as usual.

As a side note, for your safety, do not use this spray with a load you are using bleach on. Bleach mixed with ammonia or vinegar can create toxic gases and fumes. If you decide to use this, please come back and leave a comment to let us know how it works!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Thrifty Haircuts

Warning! What I am about to suggest for saving money on family haircuts may be down right risky and adventurous for sure was for me when I started doing it! I got this crazy idea that I could cut my family's hair when we stumbled upon a haircutting kit at Sam's Club in 2003. The price was right, my husband was a willing victim, and thus, mom cutting the family hair came into practice.

I have to say that I did have one haircut under my belt at the time. My uncle sure was a good sport! He asked me to cut his hair with his electric clippers. Somehow, I ended up trimming one side too high above the ear. I informed him of this, and he was pretty cool, calm and collected about it, so I proceeded to try to even out the rest of his hair to match. What resulted was not exactly pretty...since he was bald on the top, he ended up with what I would like to call "the monk cut"! He went and looked in the mirror, and after having a good laugh with me, he decided I should just shave it all off. I can do the completely bald haircut pretty well!

Our haircutting set is a set of clippers with attachments, scissors, clips, a comb, and a cape. I have to say that the attachments really help with giving a decent haircut. I also trim my children's hair, and I have even cut my own hair a time or two (that's more tricky than cutting someone else's hair!). Our haircutting set cost us around $18 at the time we purchased it. It more than paid for itself after one or two haircuts. We have saved hundreds, if not thousands of dollars now just by doing our own haircuts. And my husband is still handsome, even after I give him a trim :-)

If you are not quite so adventurous, I would highly suggest clipping coupons or watching for specials. Another option is to go to a local beauty college if you have one. We have a few around here, and if you let a student cut your hair, it is only around $4-$6 a piece, which really is a pretty good deal. And with that, I will wish you "happy haircutting"!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Homemade Oatmeal Bath

Oatmeal baths are a good way to soothe sore, chapped, dry, irritated skin. The last time I checked (and that was a few years ago!), it cost quite a bit for a small box of oatmeal bath packets from the store. I believe a box of about 6 cost around $3-$4, and that was for the generic brand. The Aveeno brand was closer to $5 or $6. I got to wondering if there was a way that I could make my own, as just plain old oatmeal is rather inexpensive.

I managed to find a few ideas online. I haven't tried all of them, but I will share them with you. One idea was to place plain oatmeal in an old nylon stocking, tie a knot in the end, and let it sit in the tub. The soothing part of the oatmeal is supposed to leach out of the stocking and into the bath water. I haven't tried this one personally, but theoretically it sounds like it should work.

Another idea I liked even better was to take some plain oatmeal and place it in the blender or food processor and grind it up until it is a fine powder. You can use it like that, or you can also add a little bit of cornstarch and baking soda to add additionally soothing ingredients. That is the way that I make it, it works great! I actually adapted that recipe from this website The way I make it is I take 2 cups of finely ground oatmeal, 1/2 cup of baking soda, and 1/2 cup of cornstarch and mix it all up. Add 3-4 tablespoons per bath. I store the mixture in a ziploc baggie. The cost to make up a batch of this oatmeal bath is pennies on the dollar for what it costs to buy a box of oatmeal bath.

The website I posted above has printable sachets that you can make and put the oatmeal bath mixture into, as well as a more elaborate oatmeal milkbath recipe. I just may have to try that for personal gifts this year, especially Christmas!


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Bread Machine Whole Wheat Herbed Pizza Dough Recipe

Here's the pizza dough recipe I promised! We love making our own pizza at home for lots of reasons, but one of the best reasons is because we can make it healthier than store bought or restaurant pizza. And it is much more affordable than buying those other pizzas. This recipe is one that I have come up with after experimenting and finding just the right flavor.

Whole Wheat Herbed Pizza Dough

1 1/4 cup water

2 Tbsp oil

3 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 Tbsp yeast

2 Tbsp sugar

2 Tbsp italian seasoning

1 Tbsp Creole seasoning

Place ingredients in the bread machine in order given. When adding yeast, make a little indent in the flour for it and cover it up with some of the flour. Use the dough cycle on the bread machine. When it is finished, roll the dough out on a greased, floured pizza pan. Top with your favorite toppings and bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes.



Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Saving Money on Fresh Produce

BeforeI get started on this article, let me first say thanks to my friend cindyinsd for the picture of the lemons. It is actually a painting done on a velvet matboard. You can visit cindyinsd's blog at

We all know that we should try to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. Buying fresh produce can get pretty expensive in a hurry, though. You can eat plenty of fresh fruits and veggies even on a budget. There are just a few tricks you can try to keep the cost down and your intake of this fresh goodness up.

1) Check your weekly grocery ads. Usually the best deals will be printed on the front and back pages of the flyer.

2) Buy produce when it is in season. It will be at its freshest, and at most likely the lowest prices of the year. For example, buy your watermelons in July and August when they are $2.50 each, versus buying one in December, where a watermelon may cost you $8.00, or possibly more.

3) Check your local farmer's market, sometimes they have better deals, sometimes they don't. One advantage of the farmer's market is that you can usually speak with the farmers themselves about exactly how they grow their food, this is good if you prefer organic foods and pesticide free produce.

4) When the growing season comes, plant your own garden and fruit trees. The fruit trees may take a few years to get going, but it will pay off in the end. If you get a good garden crop, you could always share and trade with your neighbors, friends, and family. Another benefit of having a garden is that it will help your children in the veggie eating department. My kids are more willing to try the veggies that they helped grow.

It is possible to eat healthy on a tight budget. It's just a matter of making a plan and knowing how to buy fresh produce at the right seasonal times. Your family will be healthier, and you will feel better knowing that they are eating well!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Whole Wheat Italian Bread Recipe for the Bread Machine

My experimental bread turned out pretty decent last night! It is a heavier, heartier bread bursting with flavor, and it was a nice addition to our meal of Vegetable Cheese Soup. Here it is!

Whole Wheat Italian Bread

1 cup Italian Dressing

1/2 cup water

5 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp sugar

3 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 Tbsp yeast

1/4 cup ground flax seed

1 1/2 Tbsp Italian Seasoning

Put Italian Dressing and water in the bread machine. Then add the butter, sugar, and whole wheat flour. Dig a little hole in the flour and put yeast in there, then cover it back up. Add the ground flax seed and the Italian Seasoning. Start the bread machine and use the regular bread cycle.



Friday, October 9, 2009

Bread Makers Can Save You Money

I love my bread maker machine! It has opened a wonderful door to all kinds of breadmaking possibilities in our home. When I first got my bread machine and had only one child, I started making our own bread instead of buying it. I was able to make whole wheat loaves of bread for only a few cents, versus paying $2.00 on up at the store per loaf. It's as simple as putting the ingredients in the machine, and it does all the work: the mixing, kneading, and baking.

Now that I have 3 kids, I don't make the homemade bread quite as often. I still use my bread machine regularly, though. Pizza is a popular meal option around here, and while we enjoy the occasional restaurant pizza, I make our own pizza quite often. I use my bread maker to make my dough, as the machine has a setting specifically for dough. This enables me not only to save quite a bit of money, but I am also able to make a healthier whole wheat pizza dough. I came up with my own herbed whole wheat pizza dough recipe, which I will share sometime soon on this blog. My husband has also used this dough to make calzones and baked, stuffed sandwiches.

My bread machine initially cost around $45.00. However, it has more than paid for itself, as it has lasted me for around 6 years, and it is still going strong. If it ever does bite the dust, I will definitely be getting a new one. Currently, I am planning on having Vegetable Cheese Soup for dinner, so I came up with a recipe for an Italian bread, which is baking in the bread machine right now. If it turns out to be any good, I will post that recipe soon as well. We'll see!


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Black Bean Enchilada Recipe

I'll admit it, the first time I looked at this recipe, I thought it sounded gross. But it's not, it's actually pretty good. We have served this recipe to many different guests over the last few years, always to rave reviews. This recipe I adapted from a recipe in a cookbook pamphlet called "Bean Cuisine".

Bean Enchiladas

2 cups cooked black beans or kidney beans
3 cloves minced garlic or 3/8 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
1 large onion, chopped
1 Tbsp oil
1/2 cup shredded cheese (I probably use more than that, enough to cover the enchiladas)
1 can corn, drained
2 cups salsa (I think I use slightly more than this)
Corn tortillas

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Saute onion and garlic 2-3 minutes. Add beans, corn, cumin, and 1/2 cup salsa. Cook 3-4 minutes. Spoon mixture into individual tortillas and roll up. Spoon 1/2 cup salsa into 11x7x2 baking dish. Arrange tortillas seam side down, top with remaining salsa. Add cheese, and cover with foil. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

I have just a few other notes and tips about this recipe. In order to make clean-up easier, I always spray my baking pan with some non-stick cooking spray. It helps prevent a baked-on mess in the pan. Also, I always heat up the tortillas in the microwave for a few seconds before stuffing them, this helps them to be more flexible and less likely to fall apart. This recipe usually makes about one 11x7x2 pan full, plus an 8x8 pan full when I make them. Enjoy!


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Beans Are Economical and Nutritious

Tonight we had black bean enchiladas for dinner, yum! I will post the recipe sometime in the near future, but our dinner brings us to the subject I would like to address today: beans. Beans are a great staple to keep around. You can buy them canned and already cooked, but they are more expensive than buying dried beans, and contain added sodium. I used to think it was a pain to use dried beans because of the preparation it takes to get them cooked. There was the soaking, then standing over the hot stove for an hour or two while they cooked. Time consuming and hot!

I tried a new method of cooking beans that I much prefer. It is energy saving, and I do not have to stand around waiting for them to finish cooking. I still soak them overnight, but first thing in the morning, I put them in my crockpot with lots of water, then cook them on high. By the afternoon or early evening, they are ready to use. Many times what I do is put them into plastice storage containers and freeze them, so they are ready to use when I need them. Then I pull out a container to use when I am making chili, enchiladas, soup, or whatever else I might need some beans for.

While searching online for bean nutritional information, I happened to see that the vegetable of the month at the CDC is beans. Beans are a very nutritious vegetable, being a good source of iron and protein. Here is the link for the CDC's information on beans:

Another big advantage of using dried beans is the fact that they are cheap, and one 16 oz bag can be used to make several meals. Most bags of beans cost less than $1.00. That is quite the bang for your buck! Our personal favorite beans are black beans. If you have overlooked beans as a dietary staple, give them a try! There are lots of good recipes out there on the web that are full of flavor and delicious.


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Breastfeeding is a Bargain

It's been a little while since I weaned my last child, but I would like to put a plug in here for breastfeeding. Yes, it does save money (ALOT!!!), but there are so many other positive reasons to breastfeed as well. According to the website formula can cost between $1,160 and $3,915 per year. That can be a significant chunk of anyone's budget!

As a stay at home mom, I have had the privelage of being able to exclusively breastfeed two of my kids. My oldest started out breastfeeding, but mostly had formula as she got older. Honestly, I did find breastfeeding to be more convenient and time saving than bottle feeding. With breastfeeding, the milk is always ready, at the right temperature, and there are no bottles to wash afterwards.

I think the benefits to my children were notable as well. I did notice a difference in the health of my two younger children who were exclusively breastfed. My oldest child was sick more often as a baby, while my two younger children rarely had any health issues at all. Breastmilk provides antibodies to the infants to strengthen their immune systems. That is one thing formula cannot provide. Statistics show that breastfed babies are generally healthier as infants, but later in life as well. The health benefits don't apply just to baby, either. There are additional health benefits to moms as well, such as a lowered health risk of diabetes, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and postpartum depression. Better health equals less trips to the doctor equals less money spent. I think, however, the best benefit I experienced with breastfeeding was the bond that I shared with all of my children. For even more information about how breastfeeding can benefit your family, check out


Friday, October 2, 2009

Cheap, Healthy, Convenient Waffles

I love convenience foods because they are quick and easy. What I hate about them, however, is the cost and the fact that usually they are rather unhealthy and very processed. One solution that our family has come up with is to make some of our own convenience food. I am sharing with you today a recipe that I tweaked to make it even healthier. My family loves these whole grain waffles! I usually triple the recipe and then freeze the waffles in large ziploc baggies. We have a family of 5, so tripling the recipe works well for us. If you have a larger or smaller family, adjust accordingly. We use these waffles the same way that you would use a store-bought frozen waffle. We just pop the homemade frozen waffles in the toaster ~ they come out still tasting great! They're great for breakfast, but my kids also like to eat them plain as a snack.

Whole Grain Waffles
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup oatmeal
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup ground flax seed
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cup milk (more if needed to get the right batter consistency)
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup oil

Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a seperate bowl, mix the liquid ingredients together. Add the liquid mixture to the dry mixture and stir until well blended. Add more milk in small amounts, if needed, to obtain the right consistency. Then you are ready for the waffle iron! (Don't forget to grease your waffle iron...that always helps the waffles come out perfectly and makes less of a mess of your iron).


The Checkbook Balancing Act

Today I had the lovely task of balancing the checkbook and paying the bills. It got me to thinking on ways that people needlessly lose money at the bank. Some of the fees that banks charge are absolutely outrageous, and most of them are entirely avoidable. With the average fee for an overdraft at $30 and up (and that is per check/transaction!), it is something that should be avoided for sure. Before you plan to go shopping, make sure you have the money in your account first - and if you don't - don't go shopping! Online banking makes it so much easier to keep track of and manage your account. I know I have found it to be a blessing, as I can take care of banking issues and transfer money from the comfort of my home without ever stepping foot in the bank, which also saves on time and gas money.

Another way banks collect up people's hard earned money is through fees at the ATM. If you need cash, stop at the bank during bank hours, or go to an ATM affiliated with your bank. Many times, if you go to an ATM not affiliated with your bank, there will be a $2 - $3 charge per transaction, sometimes more. If you use ATMs very often, those costs can add up quickly.

A major bank I used to do business with started charging a fee if your account went below a certain balance, particularly savings accounts. If a bank is just making things up to charge you for, it may be time to find a new bank. I have found that credit unions tend to be less "fee happy", have better customer service, as well as lower interest rates on loans if you should need one.

These are just a few ways banks find to charge you an arm and a leg. It's your hard-earned money, manage it well and avoid unnecessary fees.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Beware of Hidden Fees When Ordering Online

I just happened to be in need of a particular item that I have to special order. Of course, ordering online is always faster and more convenient than ordering by mail or telephone. I have a regular company that I have used several times successfully, but I happened to see an offer in a newspaper ad that I thought I would try out instead this time. It was a coupon code for a "buy one get one free" deal. I was happily going along, glad to be getting such a great deal, until I got to the total bill page. It seems that my "buy one get one free" was turning into not such a great deal when they added a rather large handling fee, plus a high rate for shipping. In the end, what it was going to cost would probably be the same as what I would pay to buy two of the product I wanted at regular price. The only difference was that the company wanted me to think I was getting a bargain, when in actuality, they just tried to tack on extra fees at the end to try to recover whatever cost they got me to think they were discounting. I emptied my online shopping cart with that company and went back to my regular old standby. Sometimes the place that has already been giving you good customer service is still the best deal. Be aware of the psychological tricks companies try to use to lure you into doing business with them. If you see something odd, or wonder about extra fees, don't close the deal!


Saving Money on Home Heating

Today is a good reminder that the season of cooler weather has arrived. We are supposed to be expecting our first snow of the year where I live (early, I know!). The air has chilled and the wind has picked up. Brrr! I thought I would expand upon that subject by addressing how to save money on home heating this fall and winter. Let's bring on some weatherization ideas!

First, before the heater is even turned on (if you have a gas furnace like we do), make sure you put in a new filter. Not only does it improve the quality of air that you are circulating through your house, but it also increases your heater's efficiency. A very dirty filter is not only disgusting, it's also a fire hazard. Make sure to change these every 3 months.

Last year, my husband went around to all of the windows outside and sealed them with caulk. I am so glad he did this, because as he went around the windows on the house, we discovered that this had never been done on our home before we moved in. We definitely saw a decrease in our heating bill last winter, despite it being one of the nastiest winters on record. Because not as much heat was escaping our home, the furnace didn't kick on as often as before.

Another thing I did last year that made a difference is that I made some draft blockers to place at the bottoms of the doors leading outside. I have seen these for sale at home improvement stores for around $10 a piece, but if you want to save even more you can make your own. I took some old blue jeans and cut and sewed them into a tube a little bit longer than the length of our entry doors. I put in some dried beans (for weight to hold them in place better), stuffing, dried beans again in the middle, some more stuffing, and dried beans again on the end, then I hand sewed them shut. These have also helped keep the warm air in and the cold air out.

We have made a habit of turning the heat down when we leave the house. It doesn't need to be as warm if no one is there using the house. We usually turn it down to around 65 degrees when we are away from home, and keep it around 70 when we are home. Some people also turn down the heat when they sleep and just throw on an extra quilt, but we prefer not to do that because of having children who often wiggle their way out from under the covers as they sleep. Use common sense as you look for ways to conserve energy and save!

These are just some basic ways to save on your heating bill. They are not limited to just these, but these are some of the things that we have done to reduce our energy consumption and our heating bill. Feel free to post your ideas, or things that you have done to reduce your bill! :)


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Saving Money on Household Cleaning Products

Let's face it, cleaning products can be expensive! Over the last couple of years, I have come to realize that I do NOT need to purchase all of these products to have a clean home. I have asthma and allergies, so in addition to being expensive, many of the chemicals in the products bothered and irritated me. Plus, I wanted something safe for my kids to be around. I certainly do not want them being around chemically laden products when I clean! I discovered that I could make my own cleaning products at home that were safe, effective, and cheap. Now, this process can be as simple, or as complex, as you want to make it. Me? With my busy life, I tend to go for the simpler option. Here are a few of the simple recipes I use, if you have any others feel free to post them in the comments section.

Basic Household cleaner
1 part vinegar to 3 parts water
Mix it up in a clean spray bottle. Use this anywhere in the house, it kills germs and deodorizes.

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent
1 part baking soda to 1 part Borax
I use this recipe as is, I mix my batch up in an old ice cream container and add 2 teaspoons
to every load. Some people also like to put a little bit of vinegar in the rinse compartment.

Homemade Laundry Detergent
1 cup washing soda, 1 cup borax, 1 bar of soap finely grated
I also mix this up in an old ice cream container, add 2 tablespoons per load, more for larger
or more soiled loads. I still personally use liquid fabric softener, but some people will use
vinegar as a natural fabric softener. If you opt for this, a really easy way to do it is to put it
in a Downy fabric softener ball. This detergent recipe can also be made with baking soda
instead of washing soda, but you may need to use more of the detergent in the wash if you
make it that way. Washing soda can be hard to find, if your local store doesn't carry it, you
can always request that they do. Another option is to order it online, or go to your local
pool supply store and buy soda ash (it is the same thing as washing soda).

Natural Scouring Powder/Toilet bowl cleaner
Baking soda, as much as you need to do the job
Just sprinkle baking soda on the area you are cleaning, the same as you would store bought
scouring powder. Use a damp sponge, scrub, and rinse. I also use plain old baking soda to
clean my toilets. I sprinkle some in the bowl, then use my toilet brush to scrub, then flush.
I have also heard of people pouring in some baking soda, then some vineger; let it set for a
few minutes. Scrub, then flush.

Carpet Deodorizer
Baking soda, as much as you need
Sprinkle baking soda on the carpet the same way you would with the commercial carpet
deodorizers. Vacuum it up.

As you can see, baking soda can be used for lots of things! Not only are these cleaners better on your budget, but they are better for the environment too. Using homemade cleaners reuses containers, you are not buying new packaging either, thus recycling and reducing waste. Plus, using natural products is less harmful to the environment in general, and reduces (if not eliminates) the amount of hazardous chemicals in your household. I don't know about you, but with little ones in my home, I prefer it that way!



Welcome to The Thrifty Housewife Blog! Everyone knows that in this rough economy, finding any extra way to save is of the utmost importance. However, when the economy does get better, you may find that living a frugal lifestyle is something you would like to continue. Not only is it better for your wallet, but I have found that living frugally is also better for the environment. Every time I look at a list of how to live "environmentally friendly", I find that I already do much of what is recommended simply by being thrifty and living frugally. Let's sit back, have some fun, and find more ways to save!