Filed under: Frugality, Uncategorized | Tags: cloth napkins, Consumerism, frugal, reusing, Waste reduction
What a lucrative week it’s been for me! I haven’t felt too well so I’ve stayed pretty close to home, just working in the garden, playing music and napping mostly. Even without going out anywhere, the money came to me this week!
Monday: I appealed a bill for my recent teeth cleaning…I had chosen the dental insurance company because their website claimed my chosen dentist was in their network but it turns out the website was incorrect…that’s not my dentist’s fault nor was it mine and by golly, they agreed and said they’d pay this claim! Savings: $129.00!
Tuesday: The Community Garden held a potluck this evening. I always wash and save my plastic flatware (it seems to breed like rabbits in their designated bag even though I always try to keep a set of the environmentally UNfriendly stuff in my purse and car so I won’t create any more inbreeding.) I had more than enough for everyone at the table…
I had bought a package of paper napkins on sale for 22 cents many moons ago and I had a stash of those ubiquitous red plastic cups from many many dinners, picnics, etc that get the clean and save treatment as well. So I offered to bring tableware for everyone, including paper plates. NO, I haven’t figured out a way yet to clean paper plates and reuse them so I bought a package of sturdy ones for this event for $3.00 and should have enough left to see me through the summer. There were about a dozen or so of us gardeners in attendance and you can see from the photo no one looks unhappy about the reused cups and forks, do they? I feel good that I saved a bunch of money AND avoided a bunch of stuff going to the landFULL because I brought the plastics home, washed them up again, and they’re waiting for the next event that requires them. The paper napkins went into the compost pile, but sadly, the plates had to be thrown away. Savings? priceless, because the gardeners are getting the message that it’s okay to reuse ‘disposables’.
By the way, Michael and I attended a great outdoor party last Saturday night and the hostess provided a basketful of cloth napkins made with pinking shears from scraps of mismatched fabrics. It was charming and I’ll start using my own scrap fabrics for a project like this. We always use cloth napkins for our home use but I’d never thought of doing that for a party or potluck. duh.
Wednesday: Today I ordered some badly needed beekeeping supplies and used my $50 gift card I’d gotten for Mother’s Day, leaving me with only $11.56 balance to pay out of pocket! Su-weet!
Thursday: An unbelievable offer came our way today…a couple of months ago I’d applied, and was accepted, to serve as a congregational delegate to attend my church’s annual general assembly next week. The agenda is so jam packed with fun activities, workshops and sessions that Michael decided to go with me, making it affordable since we only had to pay for his registration of $350.00. The church had voted to send 3 delegates in all but one of the other two has decided NOT to attend so now the funds will go to reimburse Michael for his serving in her place. A cool fact: the assembly is being held in Columbus, Ohio this year, which is only 30 miles from where two of my daughters and my grandkids live so we’ll attend the sessions during the day and then drive to their place to stay at night saving us a bundle in hotel fees and giving us some good ‘face time’ with our loved ones. For a week. Priceless, priceless, priceless!
Friday: I received a check in the mail today for my portion of a class action lawsuit brought against Vibram Five Fingers shoes. They weren’t as advertised and the company was found guilty. My non-guilty pleasure was for $20.21!
As always, I want to remind you that frugality is NOT the same as being cheap. It’s simply a matter of watching where all of our money goes, sticking to our long term, big-picture goals, which then allows us to live life to the fullest on very little money. Cheapness doesn’t give one that feeling of satisfaction that frugality does: Cheap and frugal people both love to save money, but frugal people will not do so at the expense of others.
One other huge component of frugality for me is knowing that buying less stuff results in a healthier environment too. I’m happy knowing that my plastic forks and red cups aren’t going to end up floating in an ocean of trash somewhere.
Filed under: Closed Loop Systems, Mindful Consumerism, Uncategorized | Tags: beekeeping, Consumerism, frugal, Gardening, growing food, growing vertically, reusing, simplicity, the good life, Waste reduction, worm castings, worm tea
My days are once again revolving around the weather and the garden. I’d been waiting for the perfect night to relocate my growing bee colony to a more permanent place (from atop their temporary headquarters on top of our camper!), and after several stings and some help from two strong women, the move seems to have been a success. Tuesday night was a full moon with no wind so it was as good as it gets.The little pollinators are now located in a private corner of my yard, surrounded by copious amounts of blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and blooming butterfly weed with a picket fence to keep curious dogs or kids at bay. I love my bees and my neighbors are in complete agreement with me having them, so all is well. Thank you again City Commissioners for realizing the importance of honeybees and making them legal within our city limits. Next bee hive: the community garden of course!
It’s also ‘pea-pickin’ time in Tennessee’ and I’ve already picked three pounds of sweet, organic sugar snaps from my 4’x5′ bed, with a couple more pounds to come. That little space makes tremendous use of a discarded and inverted umbrella-style clothes line pole that we string with twine for the peas to twist up and around on. After the peas are finished, the plants are cut off so the nitrogen-fixing roots can continue to nourish the soil, the lightweight pole is folded up and stored underneath my tool shed until the next viney crop needs it, and the bed will be planted to Longkeeper Tomatoes for fall and winter eating. Not bad for 20 square feet of soil!
In addition to my tower of peas, I saw another neat idea downtown today for a ‘tower of power’. What a great way to grow strawberries or greens in a small amount of space! The perforated pipe you see in the center has a removable cap, allowing the pipe to be filled with compostables, which the worms promptly draw into the surrounding soil, making nourishing castings in the process. The owner of this growing tower bought one like it and realized how easily he could make one himself…I saw the ‘store bought’ one too and it really didn’t look much different at all except the planting pockets were a little wider and he’s growing full sized kale and other greens in them. So, if you’ve got an extra plastic rain barrel laying around…
Speaking of worms…my new-to-me worm bin has four levels, with a spigot at the bottom for drawing off ‘worm tea’ which I then feed to nearby plants. It fits in this out-of-the-way corner of my patio and I love the idea that the worms are constantly and quietly working to help me grow food, just like the bees…
OK, so what do honeybees, worms and homemade growing towers have to do with transitioning? They’re all good examples of closed loop systems. Anytime you can create a closed loop system-that is, a system that creates no waste, you will find yourself one step closer to sustainability, a common theme that runs through many of this blog’s posts and is a central tenant of living a lifestyle that is NOT based on constant energy input. These are but three examples of closed loop systems right here on my little urban lot. Using rainbarrels, planting and growing food using open pollinated seeds, building compost bins or even tending a flock of hens that are able to thrive on food that you grow for them or where they have access to wild foods are more examples of closed loop systems. Solar panels and wood stoves that are fed with managed woodlot cuttings or blow downs are yet more examples. I even consider the food that I grow and can sort of a closed loop system since I save many seeds and then reuse the same canning jars and reusable lids year after year, as well as the canning water itself.
It’s all part of a simpler way of life that I find more satisfying and creative than one based on consumerism. I love the sense of freedom I have when being in charge of my life-even if just a small part of it- and find the challenges this ‘good life’ presents are far more pleasant than those that require paying for solutions. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s the journey, as much or more than the destination, that feeds my soul. I hope this blog provides you with food for thought as you seek ways to pilot your own ship.
Filed under: Frugality, Uncategorized | Tags: allergies, disposable plasticware, homemade fruit roll ups, neti pot, recycling, reusing, rooibos tea, wood chip mulch
This week has been one of odd May weather and neither of us feeling well so more time than usual was spent right here at home. We tried to get in our daily walks while completing errands and we did manage to mulch the ‘taters and pick some fresh peas. Freshly laundered clothes were hung out to dry one day and lots of healthy meals were cooked from scratch. In other words, nothing out of the ordinary…
Monday: Although I’m quite tired of the cool, gray weather we’ve put up with lately, it has given us an opportunity to work our plot in the community garden in the comfort of those cooler temperatures this week. We weeded our paths and then covered them with a thick layer of wood chips that were delivered to us by a local tree trimming company- for FREE. I bet since landfull fees are so high, that these types of companies would have free chips no matter where you live. Check it out in your area! Our chip pile has already gone down quite a lot…
Tuesday: My strawberries continue to sweeten and ripen in spite of the cool weather. When life gives you strawberries (and ripe bananas) make fruit roll ups! I’ve never made them before and for a first time effort, they came out really well. Wish I could share their goodness with each of you. But we’re planning a camping trip soon, so these will be a really nice addition to the supplies. Here’s the directions: wash and core 2 qts of berries, puree in blender, add 1 1/2 very ripe bananas if desired (and it helps thicken the leather). As an aside, I also added 1/2 tsp powdered Vitamin C to make them even healthier and to prevent oxidation and unwanted browning.
I suspect two things with this delicious snack:
1.) You can use any kind of fruits you like best or have the most of, but you’d have to remove seeds of course
2.) You won’t really save any money because I just looked online and saw that a box of 10 FAKE fruit roll ups costs only $2.10. Those made with 100% organic fruit are simple unaffordable! My recipe made a couple dozen but I had to pay for the bananas, the electric energy used to dry them in my Excalibur dehydrator and the Vitamin powder (which I had on hand, but still…) So these aren’t particularly ‘frugal’ but it is a great way to enjoy fresh fruit next winter when you couldn’t buy a ripe LOCAL strawberry if your life depended on it! There’s no box to recycle, however I wasn’t pleased with my choice of plastic wrap for packaging them. I suspect I might’ve been able to dust the outside of the dried fruit with a bit of confectionary sugar before rolling to prevent sticking and then put them in a single ziplock bag that I could rewash for storage. Live and learn. Let me know if you make roll ups with some other fruits, will you?
Wednesday: This didn’t really happen on Wednesday of this week but I just had to gloat a little over this windfall. A friend ordered a certain kind of tea online but was shipped a POUND of the wrong type. When she called the company to let them know, they told her to keep it and they would reship the correct tea. Guess what? She doesn’t like ORGANIC Red Rooibos tea and we do very much. And guess what? She gave us the tea. And guess what? The tea was $42 a pound.
Thursday: My seasonal allergies have really bothered me this spring so I started using my Netie Pot again as my choice of drugs. (I’m very careful in how I use it because it’s been said you know that ‘netie pot is a gateway drug’.)
Here’s my easy recipe… I read somewhere that using it at bedtime seems to be most effective then.,in that it washes away the days’ accumulation of pollens that are in your nose: Mix 3 tsps of iodine-free salt with 1 tsp of baking soda and mix well. Add 1 tsp of that to 8 ozs of lukewarm distilled or boiled water, then use the Netie pot to irrigate nostrils. If you have trouble picturing this absolutely harmless but effective natural practice, watch this 15 second You Tube video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9i6x6uGm2k. Savings: Prepackaged saline solutions average 15 cents each. Box of 100 is $14.69 PLUS one hundred little non recyclable foil envelopes. Just sayin’…
Friday: Since our environmentally disastrous trip to California last month I’ve tried to make peace with Mother by being super vigilant about my resource and energy uses. Today I knew that I’d partake of the free pre-made lunch salad they always give me as part of my noon-time chemo treatment so I made sure I carried a plastic fork with me to eat it with and I refused the straw in paper for the canned juice drink, brought the can home for recycling, as well as the nice plastic container with lid for a future “leftovers” trip in the car. Hardly cause for vindication but I felt better about it. Please remember to keep some plastic forks and spoons in your car, purse or laptop case. It won’t save you any cents but it sure makes sense!
Hope your weekend is healthy, fun and frugal too!
Filed under: Earth Day | Tags: Compost, French marigolds, frugal, Global Warming, growing food, repurposing, reusing, root knot nematodes, sustainability, sustainable energy sources, vinegar uses, Waste reduction, zero waste lifestyle
April 22nd is Earth Day. hooray. I’m very happy we have that one internationally-recognized day a year to celebrate this beautiful blue planet, but we simply cannot continue to honor our mother only once every 365 days. The well-respected ‘science guy’, Bill Nye recently said,” We must engage political hopefuls and elected officials on the topic of global warming.” I say, we must also support our farmers and learn to eat a sustainable, diversified diet of foods (and medicines!) grown within our local regions. We must commit to a near zero waste lifestyle, while learning to reuse and repurpose everything that comes through our lives. We must support alternative energies, even if they are in our backyards. We simply must clean up our act and take better care of our earthly home.
To that end, I have been thinking about ways we can make the needed changes, going beyond the same old advice about carrying our own shopping bags and changing our light bulbs. By the way, compact florescent bulbs are now ‘old’ technology and have been replaced by LED bulbs in both output and energy usage. Check them out. (While you’re at it, turn the lights off when you leave a room if you didn’t learn that in third grade.) Buying our way out of hard to solve problems is not the answer but if you are going to buy bulbs anyway, please consider LEDs next time. Or better yet, set up a small solar panel on the tool shed and expand your array as you can afford it.
I think what started out as a post about planning and planting our gardens this spring made me realize how even the choices we make there are important in terms of how we treat the earth. Do you rotate the things you grow every other year or two, giving your soil a chance to rebuild it’s microbiological life and replenish what was taken from it the year before? Are you using at least some open pollinated seeds so that the seeds can be saved from your best plants year to year? Are you improving your soil by continuously making and adding compost, growing cover crops, or adding worm castings? Is your water supply for your garden sustainable? Are you capturing rainwater and using thick mulches to avoid evaporation and weeds growing? Growing food without the inputs of commercial chemicals, fertilizers and hybrid seeds is the best way to grow healthy food that doesn’t cost you-and the earth-an arm and a leg.
In the fall of 2014 when I was pulling up a spent tomato plant I discovered what looked to be evidence of root knot nematode damage. I took a picture of the tomato root and emailed it to my county extension agent and he diagnosed it. I spent the winter reading all I could about the soil pest and ended up planting the whole bed last summer to a special French marigold that was touted as THE best for helping to eliminate it…
Commercial nematicides are very toxic and very expensive but this package of seeds-with shipping-was less than $5.00. I stored the extra seeds wrapped tightly in my deep freezer in case I have more problems in the future. You can see from the picture what a beautiful solution it was!
Here’s another example of ways to solve a problem using what you have on hand: I run vinegar through my coffee pot on the first of each month to keep hard water deposits from building up inside of it. Once it’s run through, I pour the HOT vinegar on weeds. This picture was taken just 20 hours after the pour.
The hot vinegar works just as well as a toxic weedkiller and would’ve been ‘wasted’ had I just dumped it down the kitchen sink. Once I run the vinegar through, I follow that with a potful of plain water to remove all traces of it. I use that quart of hot water to pour down my bathtub drain where it promptly melts accumulated soap and keeps the drain running smoothly. Those weeds are dead. No chemicals used, and I solved two problems with one stone. Just sayin’…
Today I transplanted some of my early veggie starts into larger pots so that they can grow more freely until it’s time to plant them in the garden. The pots and trays have been reused many times over, and the ‘potting soil’ is some of our fine crumbly compost made from household and yard wastes. Absolutely nothing was purchased new to provide us with another season of healthy, delicious organic veggies. I even collect rainwater for watering them since I don’t like the idea of adding fluoride to my broccoli!
All of this is simply to say:
One final thought I’d like you to think about: “There is no ‘away’, as in “Throw it away“. Every day is Earth Day!
Filed under: Frugality, Uncategorized | Tags: compost bins, food, frugal, growing food, plants, reusing, rosemary, seed saving, seed starting, taxes
I can hardly believe another week has gone by since I wrote last Friday but I’m hoping to pick up my own slack next week…I’ve already got several (hopefully) good ideas for posts percolating. This week has been a steady round of doctor visits and tests, along with 3x a week physical therapy on my wrist (which is responding very well!) Time away from home almost always involves spending more money, whether it be on fuel for the car or meals out and this week proved it.
Monday: We got the first round of cool season things planted. These things transplant well and I’ll replant them every week to 10 days until it’s too warm for them. We didn’t have to buy any seeds at all because we had plenty left from last year and had stored them in jars in the freezer. Some were our own saved seeds from prior crops so the food produced from them will be absolutely free, and because the seeds saved were from our own ‘best of the best’ we can expect them to produce well in the same microclimate that they were produced in last year!
I also direct seeded 2 more kinds of lettuce and spinach as well as cilantro in the greenhouse bed. I’m betting they sprout in a few more days. Nothing picture-worthy there until they’re up! I’m already dreaming of the fresh green stuff soon to come. Savings to come: priceless
Tuesday: The spray bottle that I use to mist the top of the soil while seeds are sprouting quit spraying so I soaked the sprayer part in hot, soapy water and that cleared it up! Savings: About $2, a trip to the store AND one less thing in the landfill.
Wednesday: Multiple back to back doctor appointments meant carrying ‘lunch’ with us. It needed to be something that didn’t create a mess, was filling and a decent substitute for a ‘real’ meal. We packed up our standard bagels, nuts, apples and water bottles and it was healthy and didn’t cost us any out of pocket money. Savings for 2 lunches from the hospital cafe? $8-$10
Thursday: We ate out this night after a long day of appointments and errands. We walked 2 blocks to the locally owned “Wok and Habachi” restaurant and had a splendid meal with enough leftovers for our lunches the next day. I considered it money well spent since we were both tired and out of sorts, but to compensate a bit, I used two uncanceled stamps peeled off of mail I’ve received, shredded old documents and added the shreds to our too-wet compost pile, and planted a newly rooted start of a very hardy variety of Rosemary that had made it through our coldest weather back in December…
Friday: We got our income taxes done today at the local community center for FREE. This is the one of the few benefits of being a ‘senior’ and by golly, I’m going to take advantage of it! Friends tell us they pay $75-150 to have their tax returns completed!
Michael is having more surgery on Monday and will be in the hospital for a few days but I’ll find ways to continue to save money, lower my ecological footprint and live well on less regardless of the circumstances. It’s just how we roll…
Have a great weekend!
Filed under: Frugality, Uncategorized | Tags: books, cauliflower, Consumerism, elderberries, frugal, growing food, Radon, reusing, Waste reduction
This will be a quick post, just a ‘gentle reminder’ that it’s Friday again. If you’re new to this blog, I like to reflect on the week just passed and then share some of the ways that I have found to keep money in my wallet.
Monday: It’s seed-starting time so I bleached a bunch of our 4 pack cups saved over many years. Sterilizing them like this before each new use eliminates soil-borne bacteria or other disease transmitters to my new seedlings. Remnants remain of labels reminding me how old some of these carefully preserved cups are. Reusing over and over? Priceless!
Tuesday: I caught a sale and was able to buy three beautiful heads of cauliflower for 99 cents each. When life gives you cauliflower, USE IT! We enjoyed it once in Wild Rice Risotto with Butternut Squash and Cauliflower, and Red Pepper Kale from the garden on the side. We ate the second head in a Cheezy Cauliflower Soup that was delicious. I still have one head left that I plan to make a curry with tomorrow. Normal price: About $3.00 per head. Savings: about $6.00!
Wednesday: I bought a book from Amazon that I’d read some time ago. The library didn’t have it but it was one I wanted to keep to refer back to so I put it on my ‘wish list’ and waited for the price to drop. Did you know that if you put things there they’ll also let you know when the price has changed? It’s a hard back without a mark in it and with a nice dust cover for one cent plus $3.99 shipping, and the seller was in Tennessee, hopefully creating less of an environmental foot print than say, shipping from California or someplace ‘off’. I love buying used books but I won’t pay over $4 for them so sometimes I just have to be patient. Patience has rewarded me many times and is one of the key tenants to frugal living. Savings over original price: $9.00!
Thursday: Got the results back from my Radon test… the ‘safe limit’ is 4, our readings were only 1.7 so not having to pay for mitigation methods to remedy it saved us about $1,000. The test kit was Free.
Friday: With today’s warm sunny weather I felt compelled to ‘get outside’ so I pruned my elderberry bushes before they break dormancy. I’m going to have to work harder at protecting the fruits from the birds this summer, and plan to try a reflective tape but would appreciate any other tips you know that work. Elderberry Wine and Syrup? Priceless!
Filed under: A New Paradigm, Adapting to Change, Back to Basics, Household Economics, Simplicity, Transitioning, Voluntary Simplicity | Tags: backyard hens, clotheslines, compost bins, frugal, growing food, productive, rabbits, reusing, simplicity, the good life
Back in about 1967, (you know, when dinosaurs walked the Earth) all 7th grade school girls were required to take “Home Economics”, while boys had to take “Wood Shop”. I still have the sturdy footstool by brother made for our mother but I happily no longer have the ugly red dress I had to make-with darts and a zipper! At the time I resisted the sewing and cooking skills taught to us by Mrs. Fuller, but the concepts stuck with me, and for most of my adult life I’ve been able to sew a complete wardrobe- from a Barbie dress to a wedding dress- or cook a 10-course meal from appetizers to dessert. Too bad most folks don’t still consider those valuable skills, but with yard goods now costing more than many fully-made, store bought garments, and convenience foods costing less than many food basics, I can understand the reasoning-if pure frugality is the only criteria. Having raised four daughters, sewing and cooking skills were invaluable to our family.
Now that I am beginning to see the light at the end of my chemo tunnel, I am reminded anew that those skills and more are part of me now and frugality is not the only criteria. I just don’t know how to live my life any other way. Michael and I deliberately chose to live a life of voluntary simplicity when we took early retirement in 2002-I at 49 and he at 55, a decision we’ve never once regretted. Sure, we’ve had to make choices, but those choices were often very agreeable ones: did we want 150 channels of Cable TV or could we be satisfied with a roof top antennae and a converter box? The extra time not spent watching so much television opened the door to many other pleasant activities, like playing music and volunteering, gardening, writing this blog, joining a church and other organizations that hold similar values to ours. Over the years we also discovered that using our house as a center of production vs using it as a center of consumption fit right in with a simpler lifestyle, all while enabling us to live lives that feel very rich indeed! We’ve had to make some concessions recently due to lingering health problems and increased medical expenses, but growing and preserving food, reusing and repurposing, all while making the house as energy efficient as possible still allows us to live comfortably in spite of the increased expenses. My grandmother used to call it “Pulling in your horns”. I prefer ‘radical home economics’ because the former makes it sound like a temporary situation, but radical homemaking is truly a way of life.
I recently read a blog post about how some middle class folks just like us are buying older, smaller homes in well-established neighborhoods and using every inch of available space in the home and yard to increase the home’s productivity: some are renting an extra room out, others are converting former garages into home office space or workshops. Others are tending small flocks of hens and beehives; but what about rabbits? When my daughters were young and involved with 4-H projects we started with a buck and two does and within 6 months had 32 rabbits! A quiet, high protein source of meat that could easily be grown, harvested and prepared for the freezer was the idea-far easier than chickens, pigs or cows, for example.
Radical? not really. But I digress…
Many are converting front-yards to raised beds for growing fresh food and back-yards to clothes lines, compost bins and rainwater storage barrels.
These conventional, affordable homes are being converted to radical home economies and are substituting beautifully for the large homesteads that were so eagerly sought after in the ’70s and ’80s. AND these homes can often be paid for with the proceeds made from selling their former McMansion or McSpread. It’s heartwarming to me, especially during this cold spell we’re experiencing here in NE TN, to know we are not alone.
What are you doing to make your home productive vs consumptive? This first month of this new year is a good time to think about ways you might do that in 2016, then share them with the rest of the readers in the comments section.