Archive for August, 2010

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to make “number salad”  for our number themed muffin tin, so today is a themeless muffin tin. But Wildflower loved it just the same.

Top, L-R: Cheese stick, apples, strawberries Bottom, L-R: turkey pepperoni, honey yogurt dip, strawberries


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It’s been THAT kind of a week around here, but I haven’t forgotten about my commitment to my blog! I was putting a lot of energy and thought into today’s frugality post- I’ve been writing it since LAST week! So there’s been less time and energy for the other things- and as you can see, I haven’t gotten a whole lot of knitting done this week either. But it’s more than I thought I got done! I’m happy to see the progress.

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Money is a topic that is near and dear to everyone’s hearts. Either you have it or you want it. And I believe that even if you have it, you don’t believe you have enough of it.  We are certainly in that position. I make a practice of being grateful for what we have, because even though we qualify for certain state assistance, we are still rich beyond imagination to most of the rest of the world. And I try to remember our abundant blessings.

But still, we try hard to make ends meet. I happen to be married to a guy with a lot of financial sense. He’s in school right now to be an accountant, but most of what he knows about money just comes naturally to him. He’s lucky enough to be married to a woman who likes to save money.  We don’t hold any debt besides my student loans and our mortgage. My student loans have rock bottom interest rates- so low that it makes LESS sense to pay it all off quickly than to just keep making the monthly payment. You’d have to talk to my husband as to why that makes sense, but trust me, it does.

But still, we seem to struggle to make ends meet. We follow all the suggestions for frugality that make sense to us. I found this list on the Prudent Homemaker‘s site, and it’s a good example of the “typical” suggestions:

1. Be a one car family (check)

2. Get rid of your cell phone (this isn’t a luxury for us, this is so I can sleep at night knowing we have access to a phone in our bedroom in case of emergency, and it’s been invaluable when I’ve needed to get in touch with dh when he’s out an about. But it’s prepaid, and we only use it for emergencies.)

3. For your home phone, cut call waiting, long distance, and caller id. (Check, except we have a good long distance plan, because it’s worth it to be able to keep in contact with our parents.)

4. Get rid of cable/satellite TV. (check)

5. Stop eating out (working on it…)

6.  Cook from scratch. (check)

7.  Drink water (check)

8.  Grow as much as possible on your property (check, and continuing to work on it)

9.  Buy used clothing, hand me downs, upcycle (check)

10.  Mend your clothes (check)

11.  Only go to the store when necessary (check)

12. Buy generic (check- unless the brand name is cheaper)

13.  Use coupons (I’m exploring this more closely but I’ve found that most coupons are for convenience foods, or products like deodorant that I make for cheaper.)

14. Eat less expensive foods. (This is my biggest tough area, because finding the balance between quality and cheap is hard- I eat a traditional, primal style and it’s hard to make meat cheap. We eat a lot of ground beef and whole chickens.)

15.  Turn your thermostat to 65 in winter and 79 in summer. (check- we also burn firewood we acquired for free to heat the house in winter as much as we can, and open up the house and turn off the a/c as much as we can in summer)

16.  Learn to make things instead of buying them. (Check- this is how I can afford hand knit wool socks. Also see #13.)

17. Learn how to do your own repairs. (Check, thanks to dh)

18. Get rid of your pets (ok, we have a cat…)

19.  Cut hair at home (check)

20.  Turn off your computer at night, and ceiling fans when you’re not in the room (check, unless we’re using our ceiling fans instead of the a/c)

21. Use the real thing instead of disposable. (check)

22.  Stock your pantry around the sales (check, learning all the time!)

23. If you can’t afford it, it doesn’t matter how good of a deal it is. (check)

1. Have your shoes resoled (ok, we don’t do this one)

2. get books and movies from the library (check- we use the library all the time! In the interest of full disclosure, we also have Netflix, because our library dvds are usually in poor condition.)

3. Look at your insurance rates (check)

4.  Make your own bread (check- full disclosure- though I can, and we do, we don’t do this ALL the time- dh prefers storebought. )

5. Unplug appliances (we don’t do this much either, I need to research it a bit more – something about strips, and turning them off…)

6. Turn off lights and open curtains (check- I do this more for my mental health though! :))

7.  Take shorter showers (ok, I”m guilty of long showers…)

8. Eat soup once a day- (hmm…. need to ponder this- I don’t do soup in summertime, but I”m sure I could do this in the winter!)

9. Don’t buy battery operated toys- (would someone please inform the grandparents???)

10. Wash clothes in cold water (check)

11.  Change your air filters regularly (check, and we take it one step further by just blowing ours out and putting it back in)

12.  Don’t buy dryer sheets. (check!)

As you can see, we make a huge effort to keep our costs low (and be good to the earth and our bodies, but that’s a different subject), but still we find ourselves going over budget. I know our biggest area of spending is food. Our food budget (and I use that term loosely) is higher than our mortgage payment. It’s like this because I justify things this way:  paying more for high quality food is possible because of all the OTHER areas we cut, and good food is an investment in our health, and we vote with our dollars when they go to local farmers and not the big box store.  Good food is the ONLY thing I splurge on. But, I need to find some kind of balance.

So, my question to you is this: how do you balance healthy eating (by this I mean real food ) and frugality? And secondly, do you know of any resources for advanced frugality? I have the Tightwad Gazette, so other than that. Books, websites, articles?

And lastly, I wanted to leave you with a bit of frugality that I’m proud of. We needed a place to contain all the things we take in and out of the house on a regular basis: keys, bags, coats, mail, etc. But it had to be on the wall, because of small space issues, so I was contemplating something like this, but I didn’t want the price tag. So, after rummaging around in our basement, I was able to apply one of my favorite maxims: “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without”, by *making do*, with this:

It’s got a shelf for things we take in and out of the house frequently, and hooks for coats and bags. There’s a mail basket on the kitchen counter, and our old key rack does just find next to the door. It’s not as contained and fancy as the other one, but we didn’t have to spend anything, we used what we already had! 🙂

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This week’s muffin tin had an ABC theme. Since it was “H” week in our happy lil homeschool, I just went with the H theme we’re doing.  So we have grapes and “H”oney yogurt, cukes and crackers, and “H”ot dogs. I wanted to have hummus instead of crackers, but it just wasn’t happening yesterday. The odd light you see in with the grapes is Wildflowers cod liver oil capsules. They taste like strawberry!

Overall, I wasn’t happy with this muffin tin, but it had everything I try to put in it (fruit, veggie, dip, source of protein) and everything but the cukes were eaten, so I can’t complain.

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This Moment

A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.” ~ Soulemama

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It’s starting to look like a sweater! There are no instructions for making it larger than newborn size, so I’ve been winging it, but it looks alright.  I’d say I’m almost halfway done with it now.  Squishy is growing very fast, so I hope I get it done in time for her to wear it, and that it’s cool enough for her to wear it soon! Knitting for babies satisfies my complete lack of patience. I’ve heard the term “process knitter” a lot lately. I’m not that kind of knitter. I knit to make things, not just to knit. If I could skip the knitting part and have the finished object, I would. But I’m learning to enjoy the process as well. It’s a process in and of itself.

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This morning, Wildflower said she had a sore throat. I thought it might be from um, protesting vehemently last night about her bedtime, so I gave her some Throat Coat tea with a honey stick to soothe it. She had a lot of fun adding it to her tea, after consuming about half of it straight.

Later on this morning, she sneezed and sniffed, and my mama-dar went off. I suspect a cold, so we’re now adding elderberry syrup to her supplements today. I hope it’s mild. My throat is sore too, so Mama is taking the elderberry too.

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