Monday, April 29, 2013

Chicken Fight

Cherokee Trail of Tears Beans

    If it's not one thing it is another around here.  Our coffee pot doesn't keep coffee very hot. It's the heating element I guess.  It just doesn't stay hot enough.  So the easy answer to that problem has been to just pop the coffee cup in the microwave for a minute and ... ta da..... hot coffee.  Until today.
  All was going well, coffee perfectly blended with my cream and sugar, sitting in the microwave.  Ding.... Coffee's done!  I reach up to take it out of the microwave.... and the door won't open.  No amount of pushing, pulling, smacking, shaking.... nothing could convince that freaking microwave to release my first cup of morning coffee. 
    Mars finally got it open a bit later but says the problem with it can't be easily fixed.  Something about small plastic parts and made in china was mumbled a few times.  So I guess we are going to need a new microwave. <sigh>  

   Sometimes living on a small budget can be challenging.  For instance this month, included in the regular bills is the car registration.  That by itself isn't really a game changer. I knew it was coming and so I'm ready for it.  Same with a couple of other "extras" on the list this month.  I've got to fill at least one propane bottle this month for the canning stove.  Strawberry season is upon us which means it's time to pick up strawberries and make my strawberry jam for the year.  And I still need to pick up a few more tomato plants from the farm/nursery down the road and get them in the dirt.
       You see, I've had those things figured into the budget.  Now, I know folks say you should have an emergency cash stash for times like these.  And I can just hear someone saying "Dang it's just a microwave, they are cheap".  Well you would be correct on both counts.  Stuff happens.  I've always known that.  And this is just another one of those small annoying things that happen from time to time.  The microwave will have to wait.  My priorities are already set for the month.  I can't justify NOT doing any of the stuff I'd already planned.  The car, the propane, the strawberries, and the new plants are all higher on my "need" list than the dang microwave.   If I happen to see one on CraigsList or Freecycle though.... ya never know!

   I can't be sure but I think that the broody girls all trying to stay on that one nest have committed murder.  The one little chick was dead this morning.  I think they stomped her to death, which, by the way, is what I think happened to the other one. So now I'm on the look-out for new peeps. I'll try to rig up a box of some sort for it for now. The heat light might be a problem. I DO have one bedside lamp.  It's got like a "bendy" neck on it.  Maybe that will work.  I've still got a little chick starter so that's a good thing.  We'll have to see how it works out.  I'm pretty much playing it by ear with them. 

UPDATE:  I've got a confession.... the chickens kinda freak me out a little anyway. Don't get me wrong, I love having chickens.  I'm just not one of those "chicken petter" peeps.  Last year one of the old roosters came at me and left a few marks.  I'm a tad gun-shy with them now.  But there was a baby in there. I just knew it would get stomped to death like it's other eggmates.  So I pulled on my big girl panties and jacket ( Gotta protect the arms) and grabbed my gloves. 
   WOW! Those hens got MAD.  They were flying at me, pecking me, squawking up a storm,  dust flying, flapping wings, ruffling feathers, looking for any weakness on my part.
  Who knew?  Stop laughing!  You could have warned me ya know?  Anyway, I rescued the chick and its now in the house in a box chirping non-stop.  Life is good!

So other than the Attack of the Killer Chickens and the death knell of one of my favorite appliances ....... Today was a good day.  Plenty of sunshine and a good dose of dirt under my nails.  I planted the rest of the row  that was finished and we're getting the next one ready.  I'm not in as big a hurry at the moment though because we are going to have yet another cold front come through at the end of the week.  What a spring!!

Friday, April 26, 2013

114 Frugal Money Saving Ideas / Tips

By SciFiChick 
 With the higher and higher cost of living these days, many of us are left struggling trying to make ends meet.  These days I'm always looking for a new way to save money. Things are tight all over. If you haven't already done it you might want to sit down and write out a budget.  Figure out where ALL your money is going.  You can't stop "leaky pockets" if you don't know where the leaks are.  Once you've done that it's time to see just where you can make some changes in the way you spend.

 I've compiled a list of things that I hope will be helpful to some.  If you have some other ways you use to make your dollar stretch, please feel free to leave a note in the comments!

In no particular order at all ... Lets get started!

 1. Check out your phone service.  Do you have a homeline and a cell phone?  Are both really necessary?  There are several good cell phone provider's out there and rates are starting to be quite competitive.   Some prepay cell phone plans are even cheaper than a monthly service. 

2. If you have a high speed internet connection, consider loosing your home phone long distance carrier and use a program like Skype to talk for free.  Or consider Magic Jack or Uma. Very very low cost phone service.

3. Take a look at your car insurance coverage.  When was the last time you compared insurance prices?  I'd been using one of the "Big" companies for a few years, having found that at the time they had some of the best rates around.  Recently I decided to see if I could find a better rate.  I was ecstatic to find that I could save over $300 a year with a new company! Shop around.  You never know what is out there if you don't look for it.

4. Pay your insurance annually.  You can save a few more bucks a year this way.  My insurance company charges a $5.00 fee every month if paying by the month.

5. Are you paying your bank to be their customer? There are too many banking services that offer free checking to be paying your bank for the "privilege" of doing business with them.  Lots of banks will require direct deposit or a minimum number of debit card uses per month for free checking but that's not a big price to pay for free(ish).

6.If you are printing something from your computer, check the "Print Preview" first then print only one page.  Most of the time you can save your printer from using a second page and save ink as well.

7. Invest in a solar dryer.  Hanging your laundry out not only saves money on your utility bill, it just smells so much better! 

8. Use cold water in your washing machine.  It's the action in the washer that cleans the clothes!

9. Unplug anything that is sucking "ghost power"  We've got a power strip that we can flip on and off when we need to.

10. I like to declare a baking night when it's cold and I'm going to be using the oven.  It warms up the house and you get yummy goodies too!

11. Turn down the thermostat.  We aren't blessed with alternate heat (yet) so we use electric heaters in the RV.  They have a thermostat we crank down to about 60. This may be a little cool for some but learning to layer your clothes in the winter can save you money.  That's why they make sweaters you know!  :)

12. Speaking of turning down the thermostat, you can save money if you'll turn down your hot water heater to 120.  Most are set to 140 degrees. You'll still have hot water but you won't be scalding yourself!

13. Keep your air conditioner filters changed/cleaned.  This helps keep the AC from working so hard.

14. Use your laptop instead of the home computer.  It runs on batteries therefore it can save you money since it's not always plugged in.

15. Speaking of computers, set your computer to "doze off" after 10 minutes of non-use.  This will save on your electric use as well.

16. Close off the rooms in your house you aren't using to save on heating and cooling.  Around here we close off the bedroom when we get up and open it up an hour or so before bed.  In the spring/summer, use the weather when you can.  Open up your windows at night to catch cool breezes and close them before it gets hot again outside the next day.

17.Make your own household cleaners. You can make your own all-purpose cleaner, glass cleaner, de-greasers, floor cleaners, anti-bacterial wipes and many other things to use around the house.  Not only are they cheaper... err...frugal.... they are also "Green Products" made from things you probably already have on hand.  Vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice and alcohol are just some of the ingredients you can use.

18. Make your own laundry soap.  I've been making my own for a couple of years now and have saved a ton of money.  It works well, it's easy to make and it's inexpensive.  Have you seen the price of some of the name brand laundry soaps lately??  You can make your own for pennies a load.   I just love it!  And I love the savings too.

19.This one may not be for everyone but I cut my husbands hair.  We invested in a pair of clippers a few years ago which makes it so easy to do.  He looks good and it's also saved a ton of money.  Now I just need to learn to cut mine. 

20.Craigslist, Freecycle, Penny Papers, Thrift Stores and yard sales all can provide most things you are looking for.  Why buy new when gently used is so much less expensive?

21.  Can you borrow what you are looking for? Sometimes there are things tht you only need once.  Maybe your neighbor already has "one"?

22. If you do have to buy new, choose wisely. Well made products may cost a bit more but they tend to be durable. 

23. Check out 3 month supplies of prescriptions thru mail order. With some insurance plans you can have your medications for much cheaper via mail order.  Especially those that you have to take every day.

24. If you are on medications, ask your doctor for the generic drug.  Places like WalMart and Target have hundreds of generic medications for $4 each.

25. Drink more water!  Not only is it better for you than those soda's but it's FREE. 

26. Keep your freezer full. If you have to, put milk jugs or 2-liter bottles of water in the freezer.  It's less expensive to run a full freezer than an empty one.

27. Have a no-spend weekend, or a no-spend week, or if you think you can do it, try a no-spend month! Guaranteed to make you take a look at how your money actually works for you. 

28. Check out shopping online. For example, we recently had to replace the starter on our car.  The auto parts store wanted $150 for a replacement.  We went online to Ebay and found the same exact starter for $30. (and free shipping)  Quite a savings.

29. Plastic grocery bags can be reused all sorts of ways. A regular size plastic grocery bag will fit in most bathroom trash cans as a liner.  Use them as lunch bags.   Going to the park?  Take extra's for your trash and for things like wet towels and swimsuits. 

30. Use cloth napkins instead of paper ones.  Along the same line, use kitchen towels instead of paper towels whenever you can. 

31. Shop "Seasonal Sales".  This not only goes for food but for just about everything. For instance I buy all my "stationary" once a year.  Notebooks, office supplies, pens, pencils, sharpies etc are bought during the Back-To-School Sales.  There's a "season" for just about everything. (

32. If you are going to college, consider your local Jr College to get some of your core classes out of the way.  Most Jr College credits will transfer to a University but be sure to check first.  Attend an in-state college and save a ton of money.  Also, try finding used books.  You can find them online for wayyyy less than they want in the college bookstore.  Consider auditing classes that you are interested in but don't "need" for your degree. 

33. Lots of folks use CFL light bulbs to save energy.  I'm not one of them.  Personally I think they are dangerous and don't belong in the home.  You can save money over the long run by switching to LED lighting where ever you can.

34. Never ever spend your change. Set a goal and save for it. You would be amazed at how much money you can save this way. 

35. Open the curtains/drapes on the sunny side of the house during the daytime and close them on the shaded side(in the summer I reverse that). This works very well on sunny, non-windy days. This allows me to use natural light as well.

36. Try your hand at DIY projects.  YouTube is a goldmine of hands on visual teaching.  You would be amazed at how many things you can learn to repair or make at home at pennies on the dollar compared to their store bought counterparts. 

37. Make your own gifts instead of buying.  If you are good at crafting, knitting, sewing or crochet you may already be doing this.  You can also make some pretty cool gifts if you don't know how to do any of these things.  You can make Food Mixes in Jars, Homemade Jerky for the guys, jellies, jams, candy, breads, cookies, candles, soaps.... all sorts of things that take very little money.  Did I mention that they will love the homemade touch AND they can use the gift instead of it being shoved into a closet somewhere to be re-gifted later on.  Don't forget to include a handwritten note with your gift.  It makes it so much more personal.  Oh, and did I mention all the money you can save doing this?

38. If you are considering making a big purchase why not try waiting 30 days and then see if you still feel the need for the item.  I find myself sometimes not needing something nearly as much as I thought I would three or four weeks later.

39. Yes, I know smoking is horrible for you.  Stop if you can (or if you want to).  This can save a TON of money over a years time. 

40. I'm still a smoker.  I buy my tobacco and the cigarette tubes on line and roll my own.  A pound of tobacco and 2 1/2 boxes of tubes are under $25.00.  That comes to  $1.oo a pack.  Not a bad savings at all.

41. Do your own auto maintenance.  Learn to change your own oil. Keep your tires properly inflated.  Wash your own car.  Check your own fluid levels.  All these things cost $$ when someone else is doing it for you.

42. When traveling, pack yourself some goodies from home.  Instead of stopping somewhere and laying out cash, consider packing a nice lunch. Stop at a park along the way if you need to stretch.

43. Try planning your vacations in places you have friends and family you can visit.  Staying with Aunty Em could save you a ton of money!

44. If you are going to be traveling for more than a day, find a local grocery store and buy your foods there. 

45. Consider a vacation in your local area.  Camping at the lake or river is not only fun but it's really inexpensive.  Even if you don't have camping gear many state and corp parks have cabins you can rent.  You'll still save money and have an awesome time while you are at it.

46. When running errands, try running them at "off peak times".  You'll be able to save time and gas by not having to wait in 5'o'clock traffic.  You'll spend less time looking for a parking spot too!

47. When you have errands to run, make a list.  Stop making all those extra trips in the car.  Gas is expensive.  Get it all done while you are running around in one trip.

48. Boardgames are a fun way to spend an evening at home with the kids.  Pop some popcorn and have some fun!

49. Take advantage of your local area for having some fun.  Festivals and free concerts, parks and lakes cost next to nothing and can get the whole family out of the house for awhile. There are free basketball courts, disc golf, tennis courts and playgrounds.  Don't forget to pack a picnic lunch! 

50. Check out your local community events and hit the fun ones.  Lot's of time you can get free entertainment and meet some new folks. To find special events and festivals, pick up a free state tourism guide.

51.Instead of going out to the movies, subscribe to a DVD rental service like Netflix.  No late fees and no gas used going back and forth to the movie shop!
We chose to disconnect from tv here.  To have it installed here is an expense that I'm not willing to pay.  We do have internet acces for news, weather and "fun" stuff. Our internet provider has a bandwidth usage limit that doesn't allow us to stream movies. What we've chosen to do instead is to not for everyone.  We rent Netflix DVDs and watch one per evening.  Our total cost for both the internet and the Netflix is still less than having tv on satellite.

52. Think about loosing some of those cable channels you never watch. Sometimes it's cheaper to rent a movie occasionally than to keep all those extra channels.  Do you really need 259 different channels?  You could save a good bit of money by at least getting rid of some of those channels you never even watch anyway.

53. Rediscover your local library.  Depending on where you live you might be amazed at all they have to offer. Free  Books, DVD's, CD's,  internet service. What's not to like?  Some even offer E-Books for lending. 

54.  Libraries have lots of programs your tax dollars pay for anyway....story tellers, classes for adults, movie nights, nice bi-lingual people who do taxes, videos, internet access, etc. Not to mention magazines and newspapers, so drop your subscriptions. You know they just pile up to be recycled after the first read-through anyway. 

55. Cancel magazine subscriptions.  Read them at your local library.

56. If your town or county has a community college, you can usually join that library as well. It is available to all community members.

57. Check out the Amazon Kindle Reader.  Even if you don't have the actual "reader" you can download a version for your computer.  There are 1000's of books offered free at any one time. 

58. Instead of going out how about inviting friends over.  Just about anything you do at home will be cheaper than going out.  Fire up the grill or put on a potluck dinner. Maybe watch a movie or play some cards and have a few drinks.  Always fun and easier on the pocket too.

59. Here's another along the same line. Get together with a group of friends and all take turns at being hostess for dinner and DVD's.  Everyone else gets a night out of the house and your turn only comes up once every two or three or four times.

60. I like to keep a running list of the things I use.  Mine is on my fridge. A friend of mine keeps her's inside her pantry door with a pen attached to it so she can jot it down as she takes it out of the cupboard.   When you remove something from your pantry write it down so you will remember to replace it.  And always remember to rotate your groceries.  This makes sure you don't end up with wasted food. There is nothing worse than having to toss out something that you could have used if you had just rotated it in your pantry!

61.  Check out the weekly ads in your area BEFORE you go shopping and use it to help with making your list.  Once you get your pantry stocked up you can use this "tip" to help you prep and save money while you are doing it.  The idea is to try and NEVER buy anything that isn't on sale or doesn't have the best bang for the buck so to speak.

62.  Always shop with a list

63.  If you have to veer off the list... make sure it is because you have found a REAL bargain.  Try and give yourself a little "leeway" just in case you find one of those Unadvertised Specials.  Don't make a habit of it but always try to be aware of these specials and jump on them if you find yourself a good bargain!

64.  Use coupons. You CAN save a lot of money using coupons.  There are tons of websites dedicated to couponing.  Check them out and do a little homework. Check out stores that offer double and triple coupons.  Don't buy things that you will not use or that you don't need.  Remember:  Eat what you Store and Store what you Eat.

65.  Never shop when you are hungry.  There is no better way for me to load up on "crap" than when I go to the store with the munchies.  All the sudden everything looks good!

66.  Try to shop alone.  Think about it.  When you take the kids or even the significant other how often do you find yourself buying things you had NO intention of getting when you walked in the store?

67.  Check out the store brands.  Not always, but more often than not, the store brands are just as good and usually less expensive.  If you try the product and don't like it, most stores will refund you your money. They want your business and want you to come back.   I have actually taken back the label of an empty can of soup once that I thought was disgusting.   They gave me my $ back!  OK I know this one isn't a tip for the faint of heart but hey ....if you are frugal...

68.  Compare unit prices.  I have found this to be really really helpful.  Most all stores show the price per ounce. Lot's of times what you "thought" was a good deal really isn't at all. Compare the per ounce costs of each item.  You would be surprised at how many times "bigger is not always better".

69.  Buying in bulk can save money.  Be careful with this one though.  I have found lately that some smaller sizes are actually less expensive than buying in bulk.  This is where watching your "unit" prices comes in handy.

70.  When you are checking out ALWAYS watch the scanner.  I've caught mistakes over and over again because items didn't ring up correctly at the checkout.  Why spend all that time trying to save money just to have them not ring it up correctly?  Don't be shy about letting them know.

71.  Watch for marked down items.  You can save huge money.  I try to go earlier in the day to catch marked down items. Always check what I like to call "the bargain buggy" This is where you can pick up some great deals on "dented" and discontinued items. When a package is torn or squashed they will mark the item down as well. 

72.  I also find some excellent deals in the meat department like this.  Since I either use what I have bought the same day or freeze it that same day this works well for me.  I once found sliced cheese (24 oz package) marked down to $0.75 each. And yes it was "real" cheese. I bought all 15 packages and put them up in the freezer.

73.  When you find something that you use regularly on sale - Stock up and buy as much as you can afford to. You know you will be using it later on and prices are rising fast these days.  Store what you eat and eat what you store.

74.  If the store is out of your "sale" item always ask for a raincheck.  They usually ask how many you want at that price.  I ALWAYS tell them I want the maximum number allowed if it has a limit.  When you redeem the coupon you don't have to buy that amount but if you can afford it and want to you still have that option.  While you are waiting for them to restock that item you can also start looking for coupons for it.  That way when it does come in, you can save even more.

75.  Sign up for the "Store Card"  This can save you money that you didn't even know about.  If you are reluctant to give up your information to them do what I do.  Make up some BS information.  They NEVER check the information anyway. And if they do, so what? What are they going to do?  Call the grocery cops on you?

76.  Remember that a sale is not always necessarily a sale. Many times a store will try to push something that has been overstocked and will just put it on an end-cap to get your attention.

77.  Stay away from convenience foods.  You can make most of the same things at home for half the price.

78. Avoid last minute  impulse items.  They put all that stuff next to the check-out counter to try and get you to make unnecessary purchases.  Keep your hands to yourself in the check-out lane!

79. Eat fruits and veggies in season. Stock up and can,freeze or dehydrate what you can't eat now.

80. Wean yourself off of processed foods.  They are expensive and you can make most of the mixes yourself. Link here ,and here for a couple.  A Google search will net you plenty of them. Another good thing about making things from scratch is that you KNOW whats in it.

81. Buy in bulk when possible.  If you can't afford to do it alone, maybe a family member or friend could share the expense.

82. I rewash freezer bags and use them again. I am careful with them and I do buy the good bags because they seem to be a lot tougher. When I've used them once, I wash them, dry them, and use them once more. I've used some more than 3-4 times with no holes and it kept great. With a garden that has saved me a ton.

83.  Buy cheaper cuts of meat and cook them in a crock pot to make them tender and flavorful. Crock pots are also great for chili, stews and soups.

84. Make your own pudding cups ( or jello cups or applesauce cups, etc) No more buying those individual snack packs.  For instance, pick up a large box of "snack crackers" are then repackage them into small zip-lock bags.  Instant savings!

85.  I used to think making bread at home was hard to do.  Then I found a brand new bread machine at a thrift store for under $10 and proceeded to start making my own bread.  These days I have given up the bread machine for the oven but either way I've saved so much money making my own bakery products.  I haven't bought a loaf of bread from the store in a few years now.  A tasty way to save money!

86. If you just can't bring yourself to bake your own bread, check out your local day old bakery store or even your local dollar store. I just can't justify spending over $2.00 for a dang loaf of bread, even on a good day!

87.  Go "meatless"  one day a week.  We love meat. But face it, it's expensive.  We like beans around here so I'll cook up a pot with some rice and cornbread for dinner sometimes.  Makes great leftovers as well.   Use the leftovers as a side dish during the week.  Another thought is to have "breakfast for dinner".  Pancakes and eggs for dinner.... oh my!

88. Buy cheese in bulk and stop buying those per-packaged expensive ones.  It's super easy to shred cheese in your food processor and bag it up yourself.  Make your own cheese cubes and cheese sticks too.

89.  If you don't know how to cook it's time you learned.  Cooking from scratch saves tons of money and it's just plain better for you.

90. Invest in a deep freeze.  It can pay for itself over time pretty easily.  You can take more advantage of meat sales, as well as fruits and vegetables.  Buy meat in bulk, take it home, repackage and freeze.  You can save several cents per pound this way.

91. Made a little to much "stuff" for dinner?  Label and freeze it.  Pull it out of the freezer and take it to work for lunch one day.

92. Make your own "fast food".  You can make things like breakfast tacos, biscuits and sausage and egg "Mcmuffins" at home for breakfast on the run. .  Put them together and wrap with plastic wrap and toss in the freezer. 

93. Check out local discount stores in your area. Try places like Family Dollar for "luxury" items like cocoa powder and semi-sweet chocolate. Dollar stores and "scratch and dent" stores can save you even more money.

94. Keep a steady supply of low cost basic "staple" foods, then use small amounts of the other more expensive foods (or food from your garden, better still) to round out the basics and add variety without breaking the budget. 

95. Buy foods on sale in bulk when you can see the savings.  Freeze, can or dehydrate what you can't use right now.

96.  Food wasted is money wasted.  Rotate your foods. Use the First In First Out method and remember the old saying.... "Store what you eat, and eat what you store".  There is no sense in stocking up on Spam for an emergency if there is no one in your house that eats it now.

97. Use your leftovers.  People waste so much food they stick in the fridge and forget. When I have leftover vegetables, even if its just a small spoonful, I put it in a jar in the freezer.  When its full I'll turn it into a soup or a casserole.

98.  I keep a roll of masking tape and a sharpie  on my fridge  and label the leftovers and date them when I think of it.  This really helps when you have no idea how long that science project has been lingering in the back of the fridge. (I need to work on this a bit harder... hey no one's perfect!)  Around here nothing actually goes to waste.  We usually make lunch from intentional leftovers from dinner and what doesn't get eaten by us, or the chickens goes into the compost pile. 

99. I can get at least two and sometimes three meals from a whole chicken for the two of us.  That doesn't include the carcass, which I use to make a nice chicken broth for a soup or stew or something.  That can make a single chicken stretch out for four or five nice meals for us. 

100. If I've got leftover meats sometimes I like to cut them up and add them to a quick stir fry with rice.  (no, really, it's ok to eat pork and beef at the same time) Really quick and easy meal.

101. A FoodSaver vacuum sealer is another one of those things that will pay for itself over time.  You can easily double the time many foods will last using one.  (INSERT LINK TO FOOD SAVER POSTS)

102. If you have a way to have a garden of ANY size you need to be growing as much of your own food as you can.  Even in an apartment, with a balcony you can grow enough to enjoy fresh salads all season long.  Gardening can go a long way in reducing your overall cost of food. Not to mention how good and how good for you it is!
103. Learn to can.  It's not as hard or as scary as people think.  Modern Science has made it safe and easy to do.  Even if you don't have a garden you can take advantage of your Local  Farmer's Market.  I promise you there is nothing better than opening up a jar of home-canned green beans in the middle of winter to put a smile on your face.

104. Dehydrating is another excellent way to put up and store foods that show up on sale or are in season.  Last year I grew several herbs and dried them to use until I can grow them again this year from the seeds I saved.  That saved me money at  the grocery store.  I didn't have to buy parsley, chives, sage, basil, oregano,thyme, rosemary, cilantro, or dill.  This year I'll be adding mint, oregano, thyme, rosemary and lemon basil to my herb garden.  You can grow herbs in small posts on your kitchen window sill and enjoy fresh herbs most of the year.

105. Do you eat out for lunch at work?  Stop for coffee and a doughnut in the mornings on the way in?  Try taking your lunch to work. One thing I used to like about going out to lunch at work wasn't so much for the food but for the change of scenery.  Try heading to the park for lunch.   If you REALLY want to be entertained try parking under a shade tree at one of your strip malls.  People watching is always interesting!  

106. Stop eating out. Make eating out something you do for a special occasion.

107. If you DO go out to eat try going out for lunch instead of dinner. The menus are often the same, only with much lower prices for lunch time.

108. Always take a snack and a bottle of water with you while you are out on errands and avoid hitting the fast food lane.

109. Pick up a discount card to buy gas. Lot's of grocery stores have them as well as places like Costco and Wal-Mart.  With some cards you can save 5 cents a gallon or more.  If you are worried about them tracking your information, just make something up.  It's not like they are going to do a background check!
Use your crock-pot during the summer, instead of the oven when you can.  This will keep you from heating up the house.  If you do have to use the oven during the summer, try doing your baking late at night after things have cooled down.  Your AC won't have to work as hard.

110.  I use those generic SOS steel wool pads to clean the bottom of my cookware.  To re-use them again I toss them in a baggie and store it in the freezer.  No more rusty wool pads that have to be tossed WAY to soon.

111. Invest in a thermos and take your coffee to work with you.  With the money you save by not buying $5.oo coffee's every day you could easily afford a nice home brewed coffee every day! 

112. If you can't live without your venti latte, consider buying an espresso machine.  It will pay for itself in just a little while.
113. Avoid buying nonfood items such as detergent, toothpaste, shampoo, napkins, and facial tissues at the grocery store. Usually you can get these items much cheaper at discount or warehouse stores.

114. Reduce, reuse, recycle  Good words to live by!

Do you have a tip or trick that saves your family money?  Please feel free to share it in the comments.

Copyright 2013 Bacon And Eggs/ SciFiChick

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thursday Thoughts

Is it just me?  I'm having the hardest time getting myself to sit down and write lately.  I mean, there must be something left to say that someone else hasn't already covered or beat to death yet.  Then again I could just be bored .... to much time spent indoors and feeling a bit unproductive maybe? Or maybe it's the fact that my WILDBLUE (SUX) broadband limit was reached about 26 days ago.  This makes it extremely difficult to be able to do much of anything at all on the internet.  It's like having dial-up only worse than I remember dial-up to be.  Painfully slow.  Maybe I should try and find a dial-up router for times like these! heh  Do they even make them anymore?  Anyway.... No picture's today.

We may (or may not) have seen the last of freezing temps here.  I've got my fingers crossed.  The tomato's I set out last week are still alive.  I've been covering them at night for the past week.  I'm going to step up and be brave today and get some things in the ground. I really need to get the root bound peppers  into the ground.  I figure if another freak freeze comes thru I can just try covering them as well.  As for everything else, I'm going to start sticking seeds in the dirt as soon as the grounds ready for them. Today I've got 100 foot to work with.  It's still wet out there but maybe.... just maybe..... it will dry up enough to work before it rains again. 

I've got chicks trying to hatch right now.  I don't really know how all that's going to work out though. I'm no expert when it comes to anything, much less chickens.  I've got 4 hens sitting on two piles of eggs and they all went broody about a week apart.  I've found one dead chick that looked as though it might have been squished in the melee that happens when one of the hens gets of the nest to stretch a bit.  I just happened to be in the coop at the time, sticking my nose where apparently THEY didn't think it should be.  So I got a full head on attack by an angry mama hen!  Knocked my hat right off and scared the crap out of me.  Heh,... at least I got to see that there is one live chick in there so far.  That's a close as I want to get for now.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Checking In

I'd like to tell you that I've got the entire garden planted!  Well I would LIKE to tell you that.... Alas, I cannot.  We got yet another freeze night before last along with around another inch or so of rain.  The tornado's were off to our Northeast and we were lucky to just get some high winds and torrents of rain.  I think the drought for this area just might be over now. 

   Those of you who've been following along for awhile might remember that since we moved here to Oklahoma we've been experiencing weather records.  And not the good ones either!  Rack another record breaker up for me here.  The freeze two days ago was the coldest overnight temp for this late into April.  Our last frost date is supposed to be April 15th.... Uhmmmm... not this year.

I've been trying not to stress over not being able to be out gardening.  Wondering if it's safe to plant yet, I'm sure glad I waited.  The neighbor wasn't so lucky.  She'd set her tomato plants out a couple of weeks ago one day when the sun was deceptively shining.  Three days later it froze.  Then, just to be sure, it froze again the next night.  Needless to say she will have to replant those tomato's.   That kind of reminded me of the freaky early frost we had the first part of October last year.  Just bad enough the first night to shock everything, and one more time the next night just to make sure what wasn't dead before is now.  Gotta love gardening, eh?

   I can't blame her for wanting to plant.  Honestly?  I did the same thing earlier this week.  Monday here was beautiful and I couldn't stand it so I waded out into the muddy garden and set out about 20 tomato plants.  Then I happened to hear the weather forecast on the radio saying it might freeze towards the end of the week.  Well CRAP!!!!    All's well though, we covered up the tomato's and they are ok.  Everything else is still sitting in the greenhouse. It's even muddier out there now than it was before so I'm resigned to wait until it dries up enough to work in.   

I did have a "Duhhh" moment the other day.  The back of every pack of seeds gives instructions for planting.  One of the first things most say is " Plant in the spring, after all danger of frost is gone."  OK... I'm waiting.....

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

My American Truth

Somehow with all that is going on around us I thought about this piece I wrote a year or so ago. I grow more worried for this country every day. 

My American Truth

You have chosen to lay your hands upon me.  To invade all that is dear to me.  To reach out and tell me that the things I have always held near and dear to my heart are nothing more than the illusions you have created.  You seem to believe that it is alright that while you wrap your fingers around my throat, slowly tightening your grip, and watching me slip slowly into the abyss, to show others your strength.  That this is my cross to bear for all the things, both imagined and real, that this is what you see.  That this is my cross to bear because you feel the need to control me, to have me answer to a higher and more powerful being.   Something "larger" than me? Something bigger than what I can see?  That somehow you and those you find yourself helpless to resist can actually try to  make me feel that WHAT I am and WHO I am are less human, because you deem yourself  as something more?  That it is acceptable  to lay hands on a person that only strives to exist on  this earth with all the same rights that you do? Even though all they wanted in the first place was to be respected. To not feel slighted or wronged by the unbearable measures you take to make them feel less "human" or to less "desirable"?  When a voice lifted up is meant to be heard, not stifled. Who reached out and touched you and made you "Stretch Armstrong"? Long stretchy arms that encompass all and yet can't hold a thing?  To silence me and dare me to utter another word for fear of reprisals?  "Don't say another word or I will make it so much harder for you"?   Right now I have to fight not to feel that I am a coward.That I am not scared,... that I don't speak out...and that I don't protest.  I just let you do what you will with the rights that I KNOW I have.  I do this because I am afraid, because I feel weak, because I feel alone.
 Do I honestly think that this is how a lot of the rest of America feels?  Yeah, sometimes I'm afraid so.  I find that many of us hunker down like cowards rather than stand up to what is happening to our country.  It's an easier road to travel. We don't have to respect "Her" like we used to these days.  We don't have to honor those who laid down their lives before we came along, who fought and died so we could "bitch and moan" about how things are these days. Those fine men and women who died laying down their lives so we would have the RIGHT  to "bitch and moan".    But do we respect them... or her???  Oh hell no!
Don't you DARE grab her up by the throat and tell her "What must be done will be done"  to try and extinguish the fire that is in her heart.  Don't you DARE threaten her with what will "happen to her" if she doesn't bow down to what you think she should be.  This lady, America, is a fine lady, and she may forgive some of the injustices done to her (for the "greater good") but she will never forget where she came from... where her roots lay ....and where her heart stands.   Folks will say that "She asked for it.. that she deserved it...that she did all she could to make others treat her that way".... Just remember
You may judge her handlers, but you cannot be a judge of her heart.  There is so much in all of us, those who know that to judge someone by the actions imposed by others cannot possibly see into the heart that still lies beating in this great country.  It might be just under the surface, facing the lies and untruths they want us all to believe....But there is much still here.  It beats wildly in the Patriots that are awakening.  She cannot die. Let it not be said "She was good and strong, yet I failed her."  If she dies then we will surely all  die with her. And if she will stand then they will say "America, Long Live Liberty"

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Winter Winter Go Away!

What we've got here.... is failure.... to communicate ...

The calendar says it's spring time.  The weather IS warming up .... and down.... and wet ... and windy.... sunny and warm... cloudy and cold... (did I mention cold and freezing?)    Every time that I think it's going to be nice enough to plant the weather changes again.  And I know it's not just me.  There are blizzard warnings for Colorado out for tonite and hail and tornado's from Nebraska down to Texas.  We are all in this together!

Honestly, I just want to be able to get into the garden and get the rows ready to plant.  Rain is moving in tonight though and will be sticking around for a day or so.  More wet and soggy garden.  Sinking in mud doesn't actually work out too well when hoeing up rows.  I know I'm supposed to be patient. I know that our actual last frost date is April 15th.  It just doesn't seem right is all.  Living most of my life in and around Austin, Tx doesn't quite give me all the prospective I need to live in a state that has four actual seasons. I never knew how hard it was to have to wait to plant. It makes me realize I just might be "impatient"!  Especially since everything was in the ground and starting to come up by this time last year. 

Hey at least we were able to get some stuff in the ground.  The area at the "bottom" of the hill is all in and planted.  It doesn't seem to get as wet down there. I think it runs off pretty fast is why. The onions are looking good. Same for the different lettuces.  I'm not sure what happened with my turnips though... not a single one came up.  So I replanted them this weekend.  A bit of spinach and swiss chard are finally starting to come up.
I don't know what the deal is but I seem to have trouble getting  the chard and spinach started. I'm working on a learning curve here I suppose.  Which reminds me.... if you are thinking about gardening as a means of survival if SHTF you might want to get a bit familiar with the whole process.  Just tossing some seed in the dirt and hoping for rain isn't going to save your family. A seed vault of heirloom vegetable's aren't going to save your family if you have no idea what you are doing.  Oh and don't forget that it takes a couple of months to actually eat anything from it.  Anyway... I digress.

I picked up about half of our tomato plants over the weekend.  They are some good looking plants but I still need to drive over to the farmers place down the road.  He sells vegetable plants and I know he'll have some tomato's.  Lets just hope I can afford them. 

Things are starting to green up here and the grass is getting tallish so Mars broke out the lawnmower.  Checked all the fluids, aired up the tires, worked on the battery and mowed all of about 15 minutes before it quit.  Seems like the same spindle housing that broke off last year decided to do it again.  <sigh>  Part has been ordered and should be here by the end of the week.   Just in time too!  What is it about spring every single year that has us buying lawnmower parts?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Dryer Lint.... Outside the Box Thinking

Uses For Dryer Lint (11/13/10)

Just about everyone has dryer lint.  I suppose most people just toss it out in the trash. But I don't.  I've been saving dryer lint for what seems like ages. I happen to know that there are lots of other folks out there that do the same thing.  How do I know this?  Because not only have I had LOTS of people actually admit that they save lint, I have seen it with my own eyes.

  Walk into most laundry rooms and you will probably see a pile of lint somewhere.  On top of the dryer, in a separate trash bag, in an old coffee can and some even have a "special container" just for lint saving.  I'm one of those.  I have an old trick or treat bucket stuffed to the rim with dryer lint.  Somewhere I even have ANOTHER container to dump the bucket into when it gets full. 

I was thinking about it one day (yeah I do tend to think of off the wall stuff sometimes)  and asked myself just what in the world I was going to do with all that fluffy, multi-colored recyclable material. I don't know why I even started saving it to start with.  I just kept thinking " There must be something I can do with this stuff".  I also decided to ask around and see what others had to say about the stuff.  The number one answer, hands down, was to use it for firestarter. 

I started searching around and came up with a few  other things that dryer lint can be used for. I'm kind of glad I did too.  Somehow it makes me feel better to know that I'm not alone in my "harvesting" of lint! 

 Here is where I have to put in a serious warning.  Dryer Lint is EXTREMELY flammable.  Which is, I suppose, one reason that the #1 use for it is for starting fires!

You have to be careful when you burn dryer lint as well.  Remember that how it burns depends on what the lint was made out of.  Things that are man-made will melt and/or smoke. It might smell like burnt plastic or even put out fumes.  Cotton, wool and linen dryer lint will work just fine.  If you aren't sure about what's in it you might want to take it outside in an open area and burn some.  If it morphs into something ( like little beads etc) don't put it in your fireplace or bbq pit.

  Some of the things people use it for call for caution and a bit of common sense.  If you decide to use any of these ideas please use your head and remember just how flammable this stuff is ok? 

Alrighty then....  We have the warnings out of the way.  Now on to some of the interesting things you can use all that harvested dryer lint for......

Here are a couple of  ways to use that fluffy stuff as a firestarter.  I like a couple of these ideas because not only does it call for using your dryer lint but also some of the other things just laying around the house "just in case".

 Try using it instead of lighter fluid the next time you fire up your BBQ pit.  Lay little pieces around your briquettes to start your coals.

 Lint also makes a good woodstove or fireplace tender.  Just ball up some of the soft lint and place it in your starter kindling. They should ignite quickly and get your fire started easily.

   Take an empty toilet paper or paper towel roll and stuff it with old newspaper and dryer lint. Close up the ends and you have a great firestarter.  Use it in your fireplace or put a couple in your stash for your next camping or hiking trip.

 This idea seems to be one of the most popular in the searches I've done.  Take a cardboard egg carton and stuff lint into it.  Then, using old candles, paraffin, or even used crayons, Pour melted wax over each cup on top of the lint.  Use one or two of your "lint eggs" to start your fire.

 Make firestarter "kisses".  Take a small piece of wax paper and wrap lint and little wax bits in it. Then twist the wax paper ends like a candy wrapper.  Put them in your stack of wood and light the end of the waxed paper.  This would be a good way to use up some of those little bits of crayon pieces that the kids have laying around too.

Something else I ran across while reading about lint is to use it when making small dolls and teddybears as well as the batting for quilts.  Stuff your home-made cushions with it.  I saw where someone used it in their old farmhouse for insulation against drafts. Personally I'm not sure I would want to do this though because of the possibility of it catching on fire. I only mention it because it actually would work.

You could leave some out in the yard somewhere for birds to make their nests from as well as using it in your worm beds. Again, I would do a bit more research before trying one of these ideas. 

How about using it to make a draft stopper? It would work well on a tile floor, especially if you have a metal door or one of those metal kickstopper on the bottom of your door. You could use a tube sock and stuff it with dryer lint and then sew the end closed to keep the drafts from blowing in under the door.

You know that nesting box material you pay an arm and a leg for at PetSmart for your hamsters and guinea pigs?  Try using dryer lint instead. Warm, clean, cuddly and cheap!

How about using it for packing material?  It can't be any worse than using those dang peanuts that get everywhere when you open up a package. 

Use your artistic abilities and make a  masterpiece from old dryer lint. Use it for kid's craft projects.  You can shape the lint into almost anything or even use it to replace cotton for things like snowmen or clouds.  Just glue the "shapes" onto construction paper.  How about using it for things like  hair or even fur for your craft projects!   You can make some dryer lint clay from it or even make paper out of it.  There are several places to get recipes for either of these projects on the internet. 

You could make candle wicks from it, as well as rope.  Just roll it the same way that the Indians used to make rope from plant fibers.  It would take a bit of time but it would work!

You could use it to help with growing your plants.  You don't want to put the lint on the soil next to the plant.  It could mold.  But you could use it in the bottom of your pots.  It will keep the soil IN the pot and let the water OUT.  If you are going to do this though you might want to be careful with what kind of lint you use.  Some fabrics and some laundry detergents have chemicals that you might not want on your plants.  But if you use the dryer lint from natural fabrics like cotton and linen and eco- friendly detergents it should work just fine!

Here's another use.  Use dryer lint to soak up used motor oil.  Before you change the oil in your car, put down a "sheet" of lint under the car and on the sides of the front of the car.  If you spill oil, cover it with another layer of lint and firmly step on it so it soaks it up well.  Be sure to discard the lint carefully. 

So there you have it!  Some actual uses for that stuff that seems to magically "grow" without much help.