Archive for the ‘Bread and Butter – Frugal’ Category

I couldn’t help but stop and ponder today as I was walking through the grocery store about recycling, note I’m all for recycling and do so myself, but this little bottle made me stop and think.  The bottle is made of 30% plant based sugar or sugarcane ethanol to be exact.  It therefore is capable of being recycled and thus reducing the carbon footprint.  It sounds great, wonderful in fact and at one time I might have jumped to buy it…but now.  My first thought involved that I can my own ketchup.  In this the only -waste- that results for a landfill is sometimes a canning lid.  Note I did say sometimes, those lids also have amazing other uses when removed from canning jars.  They hang in my bushes and fruit trees to ward off pests, in garden also.  I’ve painted them, decorated them and hung them in Christmas trees as decorations.  They have become bases for quilted drink coasters.

My second thought involved the actual process of canning the tomatoes.  The water I use to blanch the tomatoes to get skin off becomes water and nutrient for my garden.  The skins and seeds if I don’t use them to make tomato powder are fed to chickens which in turn produce eggs or meat. Even if they did not eat it, wildlife would which includes not only furry creatures , turtles, toads and lizards but also useful and necessary insects.

I then moved on to the plant and growth of them myself.  The flowers produce pollen for the bees which then provide us with honey.  The plants at end of harvest get turned into compost and returned as more fertile soil the next year.  Worms thrive on them and in this soil . They benefit the ecosystem rather then destroy it.

Now other then the factories needed to go through the process of returning these bottles into something capable of being recycled, not to mention the fact that few places truly do recycle and if you are lucky your higher priced recycling pickup doesn’t go to a dump anyways. Some of us, okay many of us throughout the United States do not hold the luxury of having recycling pickup.  We then have to drive to a location to drop off our recycled goods, this uses gas and creates our own carbon footprint from that trip. Some of these locations are not anywhere near where we live so it becomes quite a trip. I honestly have no idea how much waste is produced from the factories that are reprocessing these items back into a form to be reused.  I can only wonder if they are really doing good or if they are just creating another mess in the toxic soup situation.

So, with all this thinking I came to a conclusion.  They can keep their bottle and I will keep my “waste” to a single ring of metal and the rare cracked glass jar.

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This week my son had a very busy day working on his science project.  My daughter had a very rough time not being able to do the “big kid” stuff too and kept interrupting him.  It was obvious some running interference between the two was needed before it came to blows. Thankfully my “Rainy Day” box had just the answer.  Last fall I had stopped at a local yard sale and lucked upon a bin of sun-catcher kits thirteen in total for $1.00 a piece.  I of course snatched them up.  Walmart, Kmart, Joanne’s, Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, and many other places sell these kits for about $6.00 a piece, I supplied a link to JoAnne’s HERE.

The project is very simple, but it keeps children entertained for a few hours making it.  First let them paint the sun-catchers as they desire. I literally threw away the “paint by number” and let her use her own creativity.  Set them aside and let them dry while making the circle top.  Mine as you can see is not fancy, it is a ring cut out of a used milk carton, good way to recycle a bit.  I imagine I could have had her paint it, or wrap it with some scrap fabric to make it fancier, oh well, next time.

To the ring I punched four holes at the top, one on each “side” to which the hanging wires would be attached to.  I then punched eight more holes along the bottom around the circle.  I didn’t bother to measure or do anything fancy, more just eyeing it.  Once the holes were punched. I went ahead and added the string that it would be tied up with.  For this I wanted something that could sustain weather, I chose a fishing line, but the beading line would work well also. Cutting four 15″ lengths of line I fed it into the top four holes and knotted it securely. I also glued it to be sure it held.  I left the strings untied at top as I would be tying it directly to the branch.

I used the same process to attach the ornaments.  Pull the string through each ornament and knot it securely, then pull and knot it onto the ring.  Continue until all the sun catchers are hanging.

Now comes the most exciting part, with your child leading way.  Take the new sun-catcher windchime outside to the tree and hang it securely from a branch.  I love the soft “tink” sound the chimes make at the slightest of winds and the colors with the morning and evening sun shining through are beautiful.  Although, I think the most important part of it all, is the memories the sounds and colors provide of a little girls “rainy day” project.

On another note, my son was outside in the yard the other day looking for bugs to photograph when he happened upon this little cutie.  A small leopard frog had taken up home in one of my water garden beds.  I’m sure there is a more proper name then “bed” for these little ponds, but I don’t have one.  I’m fairly certain my water garden is about as untraditional as you can get.  There are no fancy fountains or preformed ponds, rather there are several flipped over plastic trash can lids set down into small recesses to make them ground level.  A few chipped pottery pieces also adorn out there of various depths and there is a larger heavy plastic “cooler” bucket for the deepest water source.

To help with the transition and more “natural” look, I added peat to the bottoms, through time the trees have added to that.  Some rocks and old logs rings cut off downed trees are used to make levels for smaller creatures, like the frog, to perch on or get out.  Also for birds to stand on to take drinks.  If you are concerned about mosquitoes in the stagnant water, mosquito fish are wonderful and can be obtained free from your local vector control office.  To help protect these air breathing fish from predators placing rocks allows them places to hide near, duckweed, algae, leaves and other sticks and branches make excellent protection areas.

So, the next time you dream of a water garden, or want ways to bring turtles, toads, frogs, snakes, and other wildlife into your yard and garden. Think out of the box, you will be amazed at the items you have laying around which will work perfectly.  As they say, if you build it, they will come.

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Since my children have been I have never parted with a single article of their clothing. I have found I can use almost every element in another way.  As they have grown so have the options for ways to use them.  One of my favorites is old school shirts and this is the process I use to break them down.

Lay out your shirt on a big surface, be it a table or the floor doesn’t matter.  Take a good look at it and see where and what you can salvage while offering you the largest pieces of material available for other sewing use.

The first thing I remove is the collar, this stretchy band makes a excellent ankle and wrist cuff for winter pajamas.  As it is always a solid color, it can be used for both boys and girls.

Second to go is the thin band that wraps around the base of that collar, this along with the same style band often lining the shirts edges makes for wonderful stitching together and use for making rag rugs once you have a large enough scrap bundle.

I tackle the sleeves as my third step, cutting them right at the seam.  These semi circle pieces can be used to make new sleeves for younger children, sewn into newborn hats (wonderful for charities), as fabric to make slippers and booties (also wonderful for charities or for younger children), liners for winter mittens,  making garden gloves for small children, sewn into a cup shape for dusting, stitched into small bags with drawstring attached for gift giving or party favors, or you can just use the fabric to make smaller quilt pieces or quilted hot pads, placemats, etc.

My next step is usually to remove the main large panel from the neck line.  Begin by cutting up the sides, using care to not cut across the seams, you will be keeping the seams to use in that rag rug making I mentioned earlier.

Now picking a point right under the button holes I cut straight across, I do the same straight across cut in back right under the semi-circle with the size and care information at back of the neck.  This gives me two decent size pieces of scrap fabric.  This can be used for making new clothing for smaller children, doll clothing, quilt squares,  throw pillows, just think outside the box and you can come up with plenty of projects.

This just leaves me with the neck/chest region remaining.  Here is where I actually do throw away a bit of fabric.  I cut panels on either side of the V button holes and throw the button holes away.  I also cut the sections around the label area in the back of neck, throwing away the label section.  I imagine I could go through ripping the seams on the back area to separate the fabric layers, I don’t bother.   This leaves you a couple more small pieces that can be used in your mini quilt/quilts, or for making pockets, doll clothing,  toss-a-cross rice squares, etc.

That’s it,  the final step is a couple large Ziploc baggies to hold your rag scraps, elastics and a rubber maid bin to hold your material scraps.  I have set a goal for myself to use them.  Once the bin is full  I open it and remove the pieces. From this I cut out a quilt pattern and sew it together, each quilt representing another passing of time and growth.  Same with the seam bag, when filled I sew them together end to end and begin working on a rag rug or rag placemats.

There is one more trick I wish to pass along to you.  If you have a shirt you really do not like pattern of, style of material, or that is badly stained and not salvageable for reuse as fabric.  Beginning at bottom, cut 2 to 3 inch strips all the way up to the top of shirt.  You want them to come off as circles, cut the circle to give you a flat strip of fabric, sew these together into a long rope and use that to braid or sew yourself a new rag rug.  The stains, pattern, or material won’t matter.

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I have a confession, I really like discarded tires.  They make wonderful rings around baby saplings and new propagation shrubs and roses.  Strawberry beds, flower beds, vegetable beds…oh the possibilities are endless. Best of all, they are usually free or very close to it.

I’ve used them for years to protect new saplings such as is shown with the baby orange tree from accidental lawnmower or weedwacker clipping.  Or to expand my supply of bulb flowers such as crocus, lilies, tulips and daffodils before separating and replanting in established beds.  They have become nurseries for vegetable and flowers in the transition stages. I’ve been known to stack two atop each other, fill with soil and stock full of tomatoes, single layer ones become beds for various lettuce, radish, or herbs.   Three high stacks make wonderful potato beds, in the fall, just kick over the tires and gather your hidden goods in their full glory.  You can arrange them side by side at various heights to display a rather unique look, paint them if you so desire to decor of your choice.  They work with limited landscape, or in areas where the ground just isn’t suitable for proper planting..IE:  flooded, clay or sand.  Next time you see a tire discarded at side of road, consider the possibilities.

**Yes, I did trim the grass around the lilies after taking that picture.**

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When we bought this acreage of land I had fallen in love with it instantly.  Hearing the birds singing, the sight of the large hawk, owl and eagle that have made homes in the woods, watching the squirrels scampering, the morning sight of the doe with her spring fawn grazing at the woods line, a lush array of greens as if painted by artists brushes, what wasn’t to love?  The added element of a large woods that encloses the back, wrapping around the property as if giving it a hug just sealed the deal.  It was a lot of work from day one, a poorly planned road being installed which sealed water into my back property like a dam didn’t aid. There is still a lot of work to do, each hurricane we have had offering more as they down trees.  There are patches where nature is reclaiming the far back yard bit by bit each year around where hurricanes have toppled large trees in mist of the underbrush.  I like many of these areas and plan to leave them grow up natural, expanding the woods.  There is also my nightmare area right behind the house where a huge old oak ripped up and fell into a dog kennel when Rita hit, followed by a large willow that toppled atop it with Ike.  That is my goal this year to work through that area and after clearing replant it with some fruit trees and a second raised garden area.

With this clearing work, I’ve been uncovering many diamonds in the rough growing.  Native trees, shrubs and plants which attract the birds and bees and allow the yard to have that “rugged” feel I deeply enjoy, and the wildlife to feel comfortable in the surroundings.  I’ve been blessed in that some of them produce edible foods that I can harvest and use to supplement the food supply of the family.  Farkleberry bushes, wild plums, persimmons, quinces, blackberries, wild grapes and wild strawberries dot the wooded area and woods edge.  Others such as rough leaf dogwood, beautybush, and wild holly make wonderful colorful shrub to weave flower and herb beds around.  Vines such as honeysuckle, wild wisteria, trumpet vines and jasmine climb wild through bramble at the woods edges, some have been harvested, propagated or dug up and moved to cover arbors, fence lines, or make “gateways” to secret gardens.  Even the wild flowers have not been spared from my hunting and harvesting.  Keeping faithful watch on what grows in the yard, forest or ditch bank that year, I have and will harvest their seeds or dig up their roots after they finished their flower show to move into my own flower beds.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I still fill my garden beds with old faithful flowers, but I have learned to use them as accents to the natural elements that nature provides for free.  So next time you look to do some landscaping, rather then visit your local nursery, take a moment to look around your own yard, a woods or field, and see what nature has provided in your area to enjoy.

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Making a run this morning to find a few tea cups to make a lamp (that will eventually get explained) I stumbled across this really cute kitchen set for my daughter.  No, not all the pieces are there, but still for $3.00 I think I can create something from our scraps box to fix her up proper for daughter to enjoy playing with.  I also grabbed these 4 pictures for $1.00, need a bit of work on the frame, but I really liked the country theme.

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That’s a greenhouse, not a green house because I already have that with all the spouting garden plants, clippings to be rooted, mint hanging to be dried.  Today after finally getting last batch of spearmint clipped and in dehydrator to be fine ground into tea mix I went to work on my latest scores.  This spring on my trip to Lowe’s to replace a dryer I stumbled across a pallet of clay pots with daffodils well past their prime inside.  There was about 15 pots in total and each holding 5 to 6 bulbs.  Asking the manager how much he wanted for the lot of them, he quoted me a price of  $4.99.  The pots alone were more then this and could be recycled many times for other projects.  Sold!  I stuffed the back of my vehicle with plants and children.

A second trip to Lowe’s a week later graced me with an additional 8 pots of various colored hyacinth they were getting ready to throw out.  Holding 3 bulbs each and being quoted a price of $3.99 for the lot I again filled my cart and headed for home.

Then, three weeks ago I made a trip to Kroger’s on one of those quick stop to pick up medicine trips.  While there I was browsing their floral department and seen a trash bin with several potted, yellowing Freesias tossed inside.  Once more my inquiry to how much for all the plants they had paid off.  For $.25 cents each ($1.50) I walked out with 6 pots of Freesias each holding 4 bulbs a piece.

I let them continue to dry in their pots in the yard and today went to work extracting the bulbs from the soil in preparation of storing them for next springs gardens.  Not a bad deal for 80 daffodil bulbs, 24 hyacinth and 24 freesia bulbs for $10.50. Also got two gallon bags of free potting soil and a ton of clay pots now. The hard part is to find the patience to wait until next spring to plant them.

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So often I just don’t have time to stop and think of what we will be having to eat for meals.  I do shop weekly for basics, perishables and coupon sales, but my shopping consists of sales fliers, coupon stacks and stocking up mentality, not purchasing all my weeks meal ingredients at one time.  I, as you know, preserve a lot of my foods.  Knowing I can feed my family healthy meals and purchase pet items and cleaning supplies for $100 – $150  a month is satisfying and no I don’t feel they are at all missing out by not getting soda, chips and convenience foods, or the runs to fast food joints.

To keep order and organization to this I keep a planner, a three ring binder that holds weekly, bi-weekly and monthly menu plans. I actually set mine up in a bi-weekly fashion with lenience. Shopping list check offs,  Grocery list of all items to stock pantry, refrigerator, freezer and more with what I need.  Also included are clear pockets to hold coupons. If interested you can find your own calenders to print and use here.

As I just finished next weeks menu, I thought I would share with you how I set up my week(s) of meals.  By pre-setting it keeps me from last minute desires to run out and grab something, or fast food nights.  As you will see though the week, everything is used up so it’s fresh slate by the time the next week rolls around.  Things I can make in bulk are, frozen for the next week, or next month meal menu.

Meal Calender – (My “food week” begins on Saturday)

Saturday – Breakfast

Scrambled eggs with bacon, tomato, cheese, onion.  Toast with jam, milk and orange juice

Saturday – 1st snack

Yogurt with pineapple, water

Saturday – lunch

Tuna/Pasta Salad  (left-over from day before),  homemade apple sauce, milk and water.

Saturday – 2nd snack

Veggie Tray (cucumbers, carrots, mushrooms, green peppers, celery prepared and put into a divider serving tray with non-fat dip for week-long serving) and water.

Saturday – Supper

Whole Chicken Roasted, mashed potatoes & gravy, green bean casserole, orange jello with pineapple, milk and water.

Sunday – Breakfast

Deviled eggs, sausage, cinnamon rolls, canned peaches, milk and orange juice.

Sunday – 1st snack

Homemade yogurt with peaches and wheat germ and water.

Sunday – lunch

Sausage and gravy biscuits, apple, milk and water.

Sunday 2nd snack

Veggie Tray & water

Sunday – Supper

Pork Roast, Mashed Potatoes, cooked carrots, apple sauce, milk and water.

Monday – Breakfast

Pancakes with canned peaches and syrup, sausage,  milk and orange juice.

Monday – 1st snack

Cottage Cheese & apple sauce.  Celery sticks and water

Monday – Lunch

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches, tomato slices with pepper and basil, grapes, milk and water.

Monday – 2nd snack

Veggie Tray

Monday – Dinner

BBQ Smoked sausage, baked beans, canned corn, biscuits, canned pears, milk and water.

Tuesday – Breakfast

Oatmeal with raisins, milk and orange juice.

Tuesday – 1st snack

Cottage cheese, canned pears, milk and orange juice.

Tuesday – lunch

Baked beans, biscuits, grapes, cucumber/tomato salad, milk and water.

Tuesday – 2nd snack

Veggie tray.

Tuesday – Supper

Lentil – Rice Medley, broccoli & cheese, thawed blueberries in milk, water.

Wednesday – Breakfast

French toast with blueberry syrup, bacon, milk and orange juice.

Wednesday – 1st snack

Yogurt with blueberries and water

Wednesday – Lunch

Chicken salad sandwich, carrot sticks, grapes, milk and water.

Wednesday – 2nd snack.

Veggie tray

Wednesday – Supper

“Breakfast for Supper Night!” Broccoli, bacon, cheese Quiche,  banana, milk and orange juice.

Thursday – breakfast

“banana bread” oatmeal, milk and orange juice.

Thursday – 1st snack

Cottage cheese with strawberry/mango preserves, water

Thursday – Lunch

Homemade bread with gravy and peas, yogurt-strawberry-banana parfait, water

Thursday – 2nd snack

Veggie tray

Thursday – Supper

Chicken soup and salad, fresh rolls and butter, fruit salad, milk and water.

(This is clean the fridge day, remaining fresh vegetables go into a soup, left over fruits go into a salad, fresh is purchased on today’s weekly shopping trip with sales flier in hand. This is also the day I make fresh homemade bread, rolls, etc for week ahead.)

Friday- Breakfast

Pancakes with canned peaches, sausage, milk and orange juice.

Friday – 1st snack

Yogurt with peaches, water

Friday – Lunch

Tuna Sandwich, carrot sticks, apple, milk and water.

Friday – 2nd snack

Veggie Tray

Friday – Supper

Tuna-Pasta Salad, vanilla pudding with peaches, milk and water.

So ask me again if I feel my family is deprived by my keeping to a budget, pre-planning , preserving and making my own foods from scratch and stocking away.  My answer…No.


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