Monday, June 25, 2012

Homemade Sour Kraut~YUMMY YUMMY!

WHAT DO YOU DO when your friend drops 50#s of fresh cabbage in a box on your front porch?

Uh... LOL..well, what we did was GOT BUSY making sour kraut and slaw...and freezing some...ATE SOME steamed...oh yes, cabbage a plenty for a while!

But if you love sour kraut and want some homemade GOODNESS~here's what I did ;-))

Please note that this is a good solid site for food preservation.  I use others as well, but I TRUST THIS ONE the most!  You won't go wrong going to a state university extension site like this one!

Here's the pics!

The cabbage was washed and cored...chopped with our kitchen aid mixer's chopping attachment!

I followed the directions of working in 5# cabbage increments and using a scale and measuring cup I layered the cabbage into the crock and with VERY WELL WASHED HANDS mixed the salt into the cabbage ;-)) til I had a crock full and began pressing it down.  As it sat, the 'brine' of cabbage/salt juices rose to the top of the mixture.  Using a food grade plastic bucket lid cut to fit the inside of the crock, I placed it over the cabbage mixture allowing the brine to come out over the edges where it began to bubble.

NOTE: BUBBLING IS the sign that your fermentation process is happening as it should...and when it stops~YOU ARE DONE!  This is very smelly, so be prepared for THAT SMELL! ;-))

Here's my gorgeous crock that belonged in my hub's family.  AND it is a secret to good sour kraut.  I had attempted to make sour kraut last year ANNND the yr before...unsuccessful....I didn't have this crock! I believe crocks are key...

Sooo head out to a store of somekind that sells old crocks~junk/antique/thrift/garage sale..or hit ole great auntie or grandma up for hers...she might not be using it now...and clean it very well...I used bleach and rinsed it multiple times!

Alrighty, I have salted cabbage in the crock with the 'plate' that fits about 1/4 inch from the edge of the crock so juices can flow around it~the purpose of the plate it to hold down the cabbage UNDER juices...they won't sour or rot that way...

Also you will need a heavy object to set on the top of the plate to weight it down.  Some suggested a sterilized rock, others a quart jar of sterile water.  I used a well scrubbed vinegar gallon's what it looked like in the crock...

I set the crock on this chair over to the side of my kitchen so I could keep an eye on it over the processing time. I checked on my progress about every other day.  The idea is to catch the kraut when the fermentation stops which is WHEN THE BUBBLING of juices stop...

IMPORTANT: Cover the crock with a dish towel or table cloth so NO BUG or VERMIN can get into it! I used a table cloth (freshly laundered) and bungee cord.

When we saw that they had, it was time to can our sour kraut.  It took 2 and 1/2 weeks for our kraut to process~and man was it good!

I gathered all my supplies. 
waterbath canner with lid
jars (12 1/2 pt; 2 1/2 gallon; 2 pts; 4 qts)
Lids and rings to fit all
clean dish towels
fork, tongs, pots, measuring spoons, (thingy that you put in jar to put food in through :-))
distilled water, pickling salt for brine to add to jars for canning

I followed the cold pack method.  But I sterilized the jars each one before placing the room temperature kraut backing it firmly into each jar. We left 1/2 in head space.  After packing to about 1 inch, I added about 1TBS brine to the jar to cover the kraut so that it wouldn't dry out in the jar after it was sealed.

Sterilizing jars imho IS CRUCIAL. I also sterilized the lids and rings as well as the tongs I lifted them with to place on the jar.  One CANNOT BE TOO CLEAN in canning!  Can you see that I've turned them upside down in the pots so that the boiling steam goes inside the jars? Also be sure to begin with just hot water from the sink.  NEVER place a cold jar in a pot of boiling water as it will shatter!

Brine is 1 1/2 TBS pickling salt into water (I used distilled water.) Boiled and cooled.  I used a measuring spoon to place into jars.

I had tightened the lids/rings to the jars and placed into canner. Following the directions for each size jar (as listed on the link above), I processed the jars for the full time.  Afterwards, I lifted each processed hot jar using a hand towel  (my jar lifter was in the basement ...) to set on a dishtowel to cool seal...

ALL sealed and look DIVINE!

Here's one of our 1/2 gallon for the fridge!

Are you gonna try it?  I can't wait to make rubens sandwhiches! OH YES!

HOW do you like to eat sour kraut? GOT recipes? I will post a couple of ways we like to eat it for's so soo good!

SisterT ;-))

Our NEW LOOK...A Work in Progress!

Back when I last wrote about our yard redo, I said it was coming along...well,we are end June and we definitely ARE in progress!

Grass got planted and flowers planted...we used blueberries for shrubs along with some FreeCycle plants of azalea and hydrangeas.  What a kick to see it all come together...

Here's some pics~;-))

This is the front of our house ;-))

End of the boardwalk ;-))

Side of boardwalk and garden front side ;-))

Back of house (deck on rt) with side view of garden ;-))
Old stove as a fire pit for fun! ;-))

Redoing an old house can be loads of work, but it's so rewarding!  I will add more pics to show our progress soon!
How's your old house remodel coming along?
SisterT ;-))

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


This summer, my hub took on a TREMENDOUS job of redoing the front of our old house.  Old houses have never scared us MUCH, but we knew this one was gonna be a 'booger' b/c it was really torn up in its REPO condition~the previous owner who got MAD, took it out on the home..leaving dogs to roam with food and running water right here in this house that did sooo sooo much damage that while not condemned, maybe...uh, well,,,,maybe it shouldda been EXCEPT that the structure and mechanicals were solid..HENCE...we took the plunge~AND bought it...

For those who may not remember SisterT's story of HUGE DEBT REMOVAL, we were in over 30K in debt with a very small income and another another state... and NEEDED a home, HERE in our new community...Certainly this was not the worst, but definitely NOT the best decision we're ever made either...

MY Frugal HISTORY if you wanna know!

But let me say on TOP of that..God and our precious church family have been sooo good to us...Within short order (almost 4 mos or so...) several of the men including my hub and my children at times~WORKED LIKE DOGS to haul out filthy carpet and flooring (yes, all the flooring HAD to be removed) as well as fallen ceilings repaired, kitchen gutted...oh my!...NIGHTMARE does not describe this house..except again...POTENTIAL...

This is a 2250 sq ft home. It is two story with a full's totally a cool thing in terms of what it has and will has RIGHT NOW~5 bedrooms and two baths, living room, dinning room, kitchen, mudroom, school area...a bath up and down~we thought this was essential!! PLUS a 3 car garage!  OH YES!! Soo while cosmetically my house was so bad, it had everything we need and want...well, maybe a pool (indoor) in the yard with an attached garage would BE sooo sooo nice! LOL...but overall, it was/is a comfortable home...and so THE REMODEL began...

FaceBook link to the front of the house remodel ;-))

FaceBook link to our house decorated LAST YEAR for Christmas!

And NOW I need to look at the front yard, b/c our dear friend with his tractor removed not only the broken hazardly stairs, he removed the hills of dirt on each side of them to make our yard level with the! NOW, we need to reseed and finish off the sidewalk...sooo what does a thrifty gal do??  Buy the supplies?? We've had to buy plenty, I honestly can't justify about $50 for bricks to line that SisterT has looked on FreeCycle a yahoo groups group...and guess WHA?? within about 5 min I've gotten a reply...a small community near me has town down an old school~oh yes! BRICK old school and they are giving away the bricks!! What a blessing!! I'm going to GO and recycle old antique brick for my old antique home...HOW COOL IS THIS?? And savings? Yes. I saved my money, but I also saved brick out the landfill...oh yes, we did...and sooo I will also prob get a few extra to line a flowerbed or two..oh yes, I will!!

Did you know about FreeCycle? It's national~a group of ppl concerned with recycling all kinds of STUFF...Just go to and search yahoo grops for FREECYCLE in your area...most likely someone is already being eco-financial conscious! woohoo!

Here's those pics:
our house BEFORE...
Today...and see that sidewalk?? BRICKS coming to line each side!! WOOT!

I am so thankful for the transformation and all the thrift conscious resources out there like FreeCycle~BTW..I've gotten so much for this home from FreeCycle: back exterior steel door, pedistal sink, shelf, curtain rods, uh...GO CK IT OUT...and do you know about Habitat For Humanity thrift stores?? They sell good used STUFF for the home that is donate and JUST might be what we need for our next project...

THOUGHT: It's an old house anyway...and WILL NEW materials add to the look or AM I trying to remake this house into a new look? This is an essential question, but some stuff like paneled doors are classic and will not matter...You decide...

And share what you are working on at your place!

WINNER!!!!! Carmex Healing Lotion and Cream!

Congrats to Patriots of the Republic Acad!! WHOOHOO!!

REMEMBER I have another giveAway going on ...HERE!! ENDS 11-22

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Christmas PREP~PRE Decorating BLUES...and THEN DECORATE!

Santa Furby...LOL...
I'm a clutter nut...totally have too much 'blessing' around my house, so when it's time to decorate, I gotta TAKE MATTERS into my hands and literally put it either away or OUT the house...DE-CLUTTER and CLEANING before decorating is sooo necessary (IMHO) ;-))  My mama used to say, "We're decorators NOT housekeepers!" But I'm really into changing this in my home and life.  I can't really find the joy in decorating a dirty house...can you?? NOT!

So let's give our abodes a spruce over...let's HIT THE HIGH SPOTS..up around door frames~up over the windows....LOW SPOTS too....under and in EVERYTHING...oh yes! Summer/Fall is a time where there's more dirt and dust~we're inside and outside more...more comes inside in the way of dirt and grime...Windows are often open bringing in the DUST...oh man!

Well, it's TIME...Gather your TEAM~Everyone can do something except the infirm and very elderly..wiping and a FLASH it can become clean and organized...

There's several ways to do this...A ROOM AT A TIME...A TASK AT A TIME....and AN AREA AT A TIME...let me explain:

I like to bust rooms up...Let's take the living or great room.  Get a few boxes/bags or receptacles...what ever you've got...PICK UP and place the extra stuff into LIKE itemed containers...Got a BUNCH OF SHOES hanging out at the door??or a corner of the room near it?? OKAY~grab the shoes and pick 'em up...get em out so you can put them away and clean...GET alll the mess out...leave the big items like huge furniture...Can't really MOVE that stuff...but dirt loves to hide in corners~it just naturally WAFTS there, I'm afraid...and I an not just 'afraid,'...LOL..I am healthier when I bust all the dirt out...little people~our precious little children can wipe baseboards while we moms wipe walls~older children can vacuum and mop...they really are a source of great's a FAMILY AFFAIR where all who live together come together to do the job~so everyone can play together too!

Isn't THAT what the purpose of decorating and enjoying the 'holidays' are about? FUN and FAMILY enjoyment?? Let's do our HOMEWORK (de-cluttering, cleaning, and sprucing up...) NOW! and be ever sooo ready for the holidays: THANKS GIVING, CHRISTMAS and NEW YEARS, family and fun~

SOOO are you ready?? SET???   Let's's a few pics of the "mess" I get to conquer...oh yes, I will find NEW homes and I I can...and soon, very SOON~Christmas decor will be HERE!
Self-cleaning table and messy book shelves..ack!
Shoes need a new home! Order won't hurt either!

Messy and needs a good clean!
Hoping to sand and repaint this frame. Construction leftover!
Okay~sooo what are YOUR areas to tackle?? I'm off to find a way to fix this stuff...and..and...Don't FORGET I have two giveAways going on:
ENDS tonight 11-15-11 11:59PM ET Carmex Healing Lotion and Creams
ENDS 11-22-11 11:59PM ET 2~books USPS STAMPS!


Friday, November 11, 2011

Review and GiveAway~CARMEX Healing Lotion and Healing Cream Gift Pack

Whoohoo! You can't beat this~well, it's just GRAND! Carmex is having a celebration 75 yrs AND COUNTING, and we're celebrating the GREAT products for skin care.  From lips to all skin areas, Carmex makes it just wonderful to soften and smooth~to protect and heal...I believe it's a great winter care line to use...Here's what I tried:
Love the wrap and presentation! SO FUN!

And you can win your own gift pack!

This gift pack includes
  • 1 5.5 oz and 
  •  1 1oz tubes of Carmex Healing Lotion (Aloe & Vitamin E)
  • 1 4 oz and 
  • 1 1oz  tubes of Carmex Healing Cream (9 healing ingredients)
 packaged in a pretty gold gift bag with red/gold confetti! HOW FUN!!

Last winter I used both to combat my dry cracked and bleeding heels and elbows.  Very quickly my skin became softer and less dry.  This year, before the winter weather abuse begins, I am already treating my skin to a wonderful experience with Carmex Healing Lotion and Healing Cream!

Comes in a  pump~
Each has a different consistency~the Cream is a thicker, richer product~I LOVE this one BEST!!  The Healing Lotion is less thick and neither leaves a greasy or oily feeling, but a smooth soft moisturized feeling!  They both have a little medicine like smell, which does not bother me, but just so you know, they are not scent free.  If you know the Carmex line, there is a characteristic odor with the lip products which is also with the skin care...You'll have to decide if this is a good thing or bad for you...I don't mind it because I like the results and use it at night so it's not so heavy to compete with perfumes and powders I may wear.

HELP ME spread the word about CARMEX Healing Lotion and Healing Cream~Post THIS GiveAway asking your readers to come follow me and join in for a chance to win their own party pack~5 BIG ENTRIES (leave separate comments but also the link once!)...OR...if you follow me already, post this giveAway for 3 chances (separate comments with the link in at least one of them ;-))...If you're new here~FOLLOW ME for 3 entries~BE SURE to leave me a comment for each entry...

ENDS 11-15-11 11:59PM ET  Let's spread the word!

WANT A COUPON???  CLICK HERE! for $1.50 off!!

REMEMBER that Carmex products are sold at local stores CK OUT this extensive list!
Be sure to *LIKE* them on Facebook HERE!  They have FUN contests frequently! woot!

I received these Carmex products in exchange for my honest opinions without monetary compensation as part of the Carmex Blog Squad.  My opinions are my own.

Also you might be interested in a second giveAway HERE for two books of USPS stamps!!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Christmas PREP...CARDS...Thinking 'Bout THAT NOW? YUP...AND A GIVE A WAY~WIN Two Free Books of USPS STAMPS

I'm not a big card giver,,,

But I WANT to be...

The internet has provided some cool ways to express the seasonal sentiments without busting my budget...AND I can GIVE cards to ppl I am around/visiting and seeing around the holidays too...while cutting Uncle Sam's part out which just takes card giving over the top for me personally...

What about you? Are cards in your budget? There's some really pretty ones too, and I especially like the handmade cards like my blogger buddy Lynn makes GORGEOUS CARDS HERE! and photo cards~
Here's the ones we

gave last year at church with our VBS pic (made by Shutterfly).  I want to create a list of CARD resources on a budget for anyone wanting to give cards who really is living on less like we are...

Here's some ideas and resources:
1. Save change all year long or purchase extra postage as stamps are bought so that the Christmas crunch doesn't make postage costs prohibitive.
2.  Make cards recycling old Christmas cards you have received from friends and family~there's some faves that I've kept to look at each year. I also use them for Christmas crafts too so that I have some recycled pretty Christmas images for things like gift tags and cards...FUN!
3.  Purchase cards after Christmas in the markdown areas...the selection might be limited, but the price will be better significantly.
4.  Look for cards in places like bargain stores~Have I plugged 'dent can' stores lately?  HUNT these down in your area b/c they have the absolute BEST value on food and other goods...what they do is purchase truck loads of discontinued stock from the major chains and pass along much of this savings to the consumers...Oh man oh man! I LOVE this kind of store, and I've been blessed with one right here in our area.  I had one before this back when we lived out of state, but also spent about 6 yrs in another state and area where there wasn't one...When our son was little, I got pull ups for a song...$4 a big bag..the ones that are sooo spency now...WELL WORTH going in this kind of store~which often are not attractive nor in the best parts of town...never been unsafe, just not in the designer neighborhood.  But let me tell you that canned foods and other stocking dry goods were well worth a few pennies about 1/4 the cost of what it is in the regular store...I *Like* that! Wouldn't you?? SAVINGS and MO SAVINGS!  BTW~I purchased my cards yesterday at that local store for $2.50 for 100 cards...I'm pumped! AND these are very nice cards!

5.  Email your wishes to those you don't see or won't see during the holidays.  These include out of town relatives and folks who you wouldn't see personally anyway.  There are some neat FREE eCards that really will make your friends and families' day. One year, we were sponsoring a soldier in Iraq with Christmas greetings and so I found a neat eCard that used our faces and voices to really make an animated card fun!  Here's a few more eCard resources:
1 2 3 Greetings
Care 2 Make a Difference
American Greetings FREE eCards
Funny eCards (some crass humor) I REALLY LIKE this one HERE!
Jib Jab Sendables (be sure and SEARCH for FREE in the search box)

6.  Hunt down or make up some photo cards of your family.  The photo processing sites of Snapfish and        are excellent in creating picture cards, but what about WalMart and the local CVS? They do it too and you can go online and upload your pics from your MY PICS document files...HOW easy is that?? WOW! Now, ck pricing...but you CAN save...

Set a budgeted amount and do what you can IF you want to share cards...

Facebook and other social networking like Twitter will be good to send personal greeting too...

Do you have any other ideas for budget boosting and giving cards this Christmas season??

I'm all ears! GIVE ME a shout out with an idea~Entry ONE for two FREE books of stamps~AND if you follow my blog leave me 2 comments to enter for those same TWO BOOKS of STAMPS!  ENDS Nov 22 11:59PM ET~

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Christmas PREP...Gift Giving

I'm going to put together some good strategies for reducing the cost of the holidays and stress~can't we all use a little LESS for our money and our stress? 

When just *thinking* about gift giving during the holidays, many of us find that our wallets just don't measure up! But we can still be generous and giving without this holiday tradition breaking us and our banks!

1.  Make up your gift giving list. LOOK at it really everyone on it who should be and are there others who you'd like to give to, but who totally understand if you don't OR really it's okay not to?? Adjust your list...

2.  Decide and consider what you would like to give.  What will make your littles delighted on Christmas morning? What about teachers, co workers, friends and extended family? FIGURE IT OUT before you hit the stores...make some notes...Did something bring a lot of delight for one recipient but bombed on another? Make notes, you will be GLAD YOU DID b/c having a solid list can keep us from overbuying and impulse spending...

3.  Begin getting prices on the items you will give.  Look for the best prices possible. Be sure to calculate not just the item cost., but also if there are other fees such as shipping/handling or other hidden costs that may not be as readily to see at the register. 

4.  Gather up sale dates on the items you hope to obtain...Black Friday and others are coming up...Are there other incentives that will make going to a huge sale beneficial? This weekend our local dollar store is doing a grand opening and as a lure to get me in the store, they're giving away $10 store gift cards...OKAY~this is only for the first 50 in the door and let me tell ya~SisterT is heading out b/c I purchase certain items routinely from this store...woot! WHAT A BOOST! I know $10 isn't all that much, but it can really be a saver for the items I use every day! OH YES! Soo what sales/incentives can you gather up? Can you make some extra effort in order to get the best price??

5.  Consider the gift that ALWAYS is right~money. For a couple of years since our kids became teenagers, we've given cash...I know it sounds like a cold hard reality, but it's FUN pinning up $1 bills all over the tree OR having them go on a Scavenger Hunt in order to find their 'gifts'!  One thing for sure, my kids can get WHAT they want ANND THEY SAVE b/c shopping after Christmas is shopper savvy and makes their money gooo all that much further...and hey, what's WRONG with that?

6.  Consider MAKING some of your gifts...RIGHT NOW, today...we have about 6 weeks to go...and if you are handy or creative you can give a gift of time and talent and share an item with your ppl you love...hey, I'm going with some handmade things this year, and soon I will add a post or two of ideas~Happy Crafting!

7.  Shop in our own STASH...Do you have new items just lying around WAITING for a new home? Does someone on your list absolutely LOVE something in your home that you can bare to part with and they'd be thrilled to have? WEED OUT and SHARE~it's okay if all your gifts are straight from the mall with a big price tage! HEY, we ALWAYS CUT TAGS OFF, remember?? LOL..but also remember to remove the tale tell signs of RECYCLE by cleaning/dusting and refurbishing a gift...a box is a box for a like new item but if the box is all ratty...well...and maybe this shouldn't matter...aren't our loved ones HAPPY when we don't overburden ourselves with increasing debt just to share Christmas joy? 

Okay, what IDEAS and STRATEGIES do you employ this time of year? 

I shop all year long and make all year you???


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

LOOKING at the Future of Thrift

garden goodies we preserved~
I just HAVE TO ADMIT IT~I hate coupons! I really do.  I think they are no more than a marketing tool to increase volume and to lure us into spending on things we *might* not even EVER want...OR at least this IS a possibility...HOW many times have we purchased something that when we got it home the reaction was, "wha? WHY did I get this?" OR "YUCK! THIS IS awful"?  Of course there are some pleasant surprises along the way of trying out new things and REALLY liking them! I'm ALL for that~but on a budget~or seriously managing our money, can we *AFFORD* all this trial and error? I don't think so. 

I propose that instead of working to save little, that we find other ways to gain access to financial savings without having to print or clip or organize such little slips of paper with all our time.  That's WHAT Thriving is proposing, and HOW I do it. How we live on less than many but live well...Living well isn't about who has the MOST stuff either, BTW...LOL...guess I'll save this for another day ;-)) but the whole idea is that thrifty living that is living well is all about management and strategy.  I don't say that we should NEVER use a coupon~but these dear sisters who are purchasing and then storing items b/c they have coupons~well, I don't have access to all kinds of coupons and most of us don't either~we'd have to hunt them down to be able to use them at the check out...I say, just hunt the best prices to begin with and get just what WE NEED and WANT. 

It's as simple, but really not all that simple as the GAME OF CHASE! I'm always chasing a good bargain! When I hear of an item that WE USE or need (and we can define *need* another day) I go and get it.  But sometimes I just have to say that we can't afford it right now, and matter the "best" price...

I know that delaying gratification is NOT a popular concept in our WANT IT NOW culture! I get that. Promise. But in this economy and in life in general~waiting is a worthwhile activity.  The cliche' of "if you snooze~you lose!" is not a best practice b/c then we are often times plainly stuck with our impulsive RESULTS...

Consider a plan for shopping and then sticking to this plan.  Do you make a list? Do you plan that list in advance so that you know just how you are going to utilize those items? Where are the best values in your town for your money? Are there some solid products that aren't fancy-schmancy that are just as useable for less than items that are faves but more spency?? Where ca n we trim and snip our sales ticket at the register? 

pickles and mustard
In my town, I have a few options that really make sense for us. Of course, we have a Sams Club, and frankly the 10 cents I often save over the bulk of goods I can get there is rarely the draw for me to shop there.  I only go when it's an item that only they carry at the best price I can find...this is beware of places that promise best do your own calculations and make SURE your money is returning in a way you'd like!  But where I live, there's what I call a 'dent can' store and a grocery warehouse.  Both offer me huge savings on the dollar and b/c the dented can store (not it's real name) is about 15 minutes further than any other shopping I do, I go only about once a month with my plan in hand and purchase just what we will use and often in bulk.  I have a large food storage area and chest freezer so this makes sense when gas is like it is right savings if it all goes in the tank!  The grocery warehouse offers all kinds of fresh produce for about 2/3 of grocery store savings~well, I'd like to think it was less, but it's not...and so this summer we're been fresh-preserving all kinds of foods for canned use when our garden is gone.

To get started, I suggest figuring out just what you all consume.  Make a list and track this over several weeks.  List your prices too.  SisterT is a notebook advocate! LOL...a handy-dandy notebook to write down all the prices on all the items you purchase and also list the place where you get it...SEE just where your money goes and on what you are getting.

Now let's begin listing where to get these items on the cheap.  Makes no sense to drive across town for ONE item, but can you lump items together? I shop by sale paper ads sometimes.  When an item is listed for a great price I will go  and get as much as they will sell to me and we WILL USE and that will keep or store well...

Got that notebook? Head on into your pantry area and begin making lists.  Organize this area according to like items too.  I know, it's work~but in the end, we're going to be able to purchase something we will enjoy or tuck it away for a long term or short term goal...

Let me know how you are tracking your purchases and HOW it's going. I'd love to hear how you are making thrifty living making sense!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Regroup and Restructure~

I've left Thriving without much attention for far too long and I feel let to get back to sharing what is working to make debt better~

Debt reduction really means keeping more money in my pocket.  How this is done is the real challenge.  What are you doing to save right now or make it? Some have downsized and others are working more jobs...what's happening? What areas most interest you?Do you believe in and use coupons? Tell me how effective they are overall~Thanks for stopping in~

Friday, March 11, 2011

Frugal Tip: Bathroom: Shower Curtains

When showering today I had thought as I inspected our plain white dollar store variety shower curtain that it was thin but has lasted several months and looks pretty good yet.  I LIKE those shower curtains despite their inexpensive quality of thinness.  In fact, I like them so much, they are ALL I purchase b/c I can LITERALLY purchase about three years worth of CLEAN, NEW shower curtains for the price of ONE really thick *nice* shower curtain that I've had to SCRUB and CLEAN all those three years! NOT KIDDING~and then...oh then...IF IF IF it should get ripped or torn in some way, I am obligated to OR FEEL obligated to KEEP the thing because it's cost me sooo much MOOLA~Mo than my little dollar (literally a BUCK) store variety shower curtain...and the ENVIRONMENT, you say??? Oh yes! SisterT has an idea for that too...OLD plastic thin shower curtains can be used for loads of second purpose uses:

  • drop cloths
  • craft projects
  • cat pan liners
  • floor protectors from rainy/snowy shoes

It JUST MAKES SENSE not to spend a whole bunch for an item where it actually costs MO to meet the need...and hey, I ALWAYS change shower curtains before we have house guests! Makes a nice FRESH bathroom even NICER and it was soo sooo GREAT for my pocketbook!

If you JUST GOTTA wash it... Add a few towels, they won't hurt it and you can save on the load!!

Thanks for stopping by~leave me your idea for an old shower curtain!;-))

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Folks we have a huge celebration in our lives!!! TODAY, October 25,2010 hub and I made our VERY LAST consumer credit DEBT repayment PAYMENT to our very last creditor!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! CAN I get an AMEN!!!!!

You see, it has been FOUR and A HALF loooooooooong years of making payments to our dept management organization (non profit consumer credit counseling group) who have faithfully made each payment for us ON TIME and who were able to negotiate our rates down from 29% interest to a modest 6% on our OVER 30K credit card bills~We had gotten NOWHERESVILLE on trying to get our creditors to lower rates prior to moving into credit counseling.  We were never behind, but with job changes and reductions that interest alone was eating us alive making it near impossible for us to survive much less THRIVE!

I am soo thankful~and hence why I've been blogging here at Thriving to encourage us both to really take a hard look at our lifestyles and our money.  Money management is an art and skill that can be uncomfortable, but tackling it head on can glean HUGE benefits!!

Remember, SisterT never earned a paycheck while we have been repaying our debt (or accumulating it for that matter!)  I learned HOW TO MAKE MY $$ become income by saving on our living expenses~by making what we have gooooooooooo a whole lot farther!  This challenge has become a hobby.  It's really fun once the mindset is established of what "ENOUGH" is in our lives.  I had to adjust that thinking in order to change my behavior.  Simple? NO.  But it was do-able.  With a willingness and desire, I found all kinds of creative ways to make my dollars stretch farther.

While I've not had to get a job to pay back our debt, I did have to not only change my thinking and become willing, I had to become educated about values on things.  Some stuff is just that~stuff...and seconds after I hauled it out of the store or off the lot in the instance of a vehicle, values changed.  OKay,,,soo NOW we are celebrating!! Will you take the debt management challenge and get your financial house in order?? I know these are tough times, but it will be soo worth it when you can become debt free and begin to build wealth for your future!

Read Tackle Tips for Debt Busting (1-6) so you can begin TODAY!
Don't wait~the future is coming...each tomorrow!
If you comment, I will follow! 

How to Get Started TACKLING Debt and Living~Tackle Tips 1-5

Making an assumption that debt is a near-death experience for many; it was for me; the burden being great in terms of killing off our peace and harmony in life.  Did you know that money problems TOP off the reasons why people divorce?  Getting money under control and debt resolved will bring great peace and satisfaction to your life.

I am going to suggest these Tackle Tips to form a plan and working strategy to remove that ole debt monster so that peace can reign in your life once again:

1.  Begin with prayer.  Pray that God will show you exactly what to do and give the willingness to do it.  (Being willing is HUGE!)

2.  If you are married, get the spouse and sit down having collected all the debt facts (statements, etc...) and make a list of the biggest in terms of overall dollars going out each month on the top of the heap.  Collect all payments for things that add accumulating interest.  Get a notebook and put this list in a vertical line and number the list: 1, 2, 3...

3.  Collect up all sources of income each month and have those available for view. NO GUESSING.  If your income fluctuates due to the type of job you or your spouse has then average the amount or take the lowest number you will have.  Come up with a pretty good idea of what is coming in.  Write that number down.

4.  Gently open a conversation without blame to either of you about the debt problem with your spouse.  Of course the spouse is probably aware that spending has potentially (there could be other factors, though) begun sending you all to the poor house!  Pray together asking God for willingness and ideas, for His will concerning this issue.

5.  Take a piece of paper for each of you and begin listing as you go about the next week, list down the purchases, dates and amounts AND purpose.  Sometimes the purpose matters like if you have to put an ER visit on a credit card because the cash is unavailable and a kiddo has a broken arm~these things do happen and without a reserve for emergencies, this can happen!  List it all~keep listing.  Leave nothing out~household expenses, school expenses, food, shelter, clothing, gifts,,,any and all places that collected your money throughout the week.

6.  Get together again with your spouse in about a week.  Make prayer and God a part of the process. Ask Him for clarity of mind and wisdom.  Discuss just WHAT and WHERE the money is going.  Make categories in the notebook for household expenses like Utilities/Groceries/Repairs/Decor/Yard Maintenance and more...list it all out and HOW MUCH or how little~the exact numbers...GET REAL here~honestly look at the numbers. Remember to also be kind no matter what the numbers show.  If you or your spouse has a shopping problem, gambling problem or some other problem, then be kind and not accuse.  Just list it all down.  Let God do the convicting and changing of the other person! He does and will in His time! But if you both list it all down you can clearly see your situation.

Okay, once you've done this~come back here for Tackle Tip 7.  The above will get you heading in the right direction with a clear view of the situation.  REMEMBER to pray, pray, pray as money issues really do cause stress and anxiety.  Anxiety especially if creditors are calling or interest rates are climbing for sure!  So be sure to bring God into the mix by making Him a part with the prayer in asking for the guidance and willingness. It's amazing what He can and will do.

Don't GIVE UP~You can WITH GOD and your spouse, find yourself repaying debt and having peace of mind and a sense of accomplishment like you won't believe!

I'd love to hear your comments and what' happening~If you comment, I will follow!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Live Streaming TV~No MO Cable Bill!!

Head over and ck out and leave that costly cable bill behind ya! Whoohoo!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Thrift Blogging: Ms Cheap

Here's a post from Ms Cheap about coupons with several links to sites that do internet coupons. ALWAYS print these out before you go shop when you are searching for a particular item. We do the beauty school for hair cuts and color services~it's OK, I promise! Remember the students want to please and there's an instructor~ but the greatest thing is VERY LOW cost hair care.  Can you imagine paying $3 for a cut? NO JOKE~our school offers clinic coupons and even has certain days like Thursday for free manicures~how cool is that? GO FIND THIS KIND OF THING in your area! THINK what you can do with that extra ka'ching!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ponzi Schemes Avoided

If it's too good to be true, it probably is! Please view Clark Howard on this timely subject. We don't need to lose a dime on bad investments! Go HERE!

Wooden Knife Care 101

My pics don't give justice to my GREAT knives!
Do you have wooden handled knives in your kitchen? Do they look good or are their handles cracked and parched looking? Are they your favorite knives, but you think they don't last very long as the handles give out long before their blades?

If you have wooden handle knives then you need to know that proper care is the key to preserving your cutlery for years to come!

I didn't know this until I married my hub almost twenty years ago, but we have knives that we have owned all this time ALL because...

Proper Care Tips:

1. Hand wash your knives ONLY.  Don't soak them in water or use the dish washer with them.  The moisture will cause the wood to swell and the handles to become brittle and possibly crack which is a risk of harm.

2.  Oil the blades when sharpening. You can use a sharpening stone to keep the blades nice and usable.  This makes them versatile.  Who wants to try to cut with dull stuff?

3.  I no longer use a wood block to store my cutlery, but I do have a wire drawer for them which provides ventilation and keeps them dry.  Dry knives will last longer.

Remember that keeping your cutlery lasting for years will require just a tad bit of planning. We put them separately from the sink and hand wash and dry them putting them away almost immediately so they are READY for the next use!

Happy cutting!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Curtains and MO for a BUCK!

Custom kitchen curtain
I blogged some time ago that I was hoping to make some curtains for my kitchen with some fabric I found at a garage sale for a $1.  I've finally gotten them done and want to encourage you in your creativity to SAVE $$ wherever you can! Just think what savings you can enjoy if you use what talents God has given you.  WHAT can you do? Do you crochet, sew, knit, embroider, garden, scrapbook, make cards, food preservation canning, paint, clean, or WHAT that can save you money and add loveliness and good things to your home and life?

OK, so what did I make for a buck?  How about four pair of curtains (CUSTOM) as each window is different!
One table cloth AND one table runner! NO JOKE! ALL for that yard sale buck, some time and thread.

WHAT did I save?
Curtains at Wal-Mart of similar style are $9.99 a pair x4 = $40.00
Table cloth   $9.99
Runner $7.99
HOW about over $50 bucks SAVED! Oh yeah!!
I love when I can do more for so or SEW much less!

TOS CrewMates were buzzing about JoAnn's Fabrics giving discounts for homeschool teachers~check it out in your neck of the woods for additional savings! Oh yeah!

Give me a shout out on WHAT you can do to SAVE MONEY~

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Truly Thrifty

SisterT isn't one for gimmicks.  In fact, I so dislike the hard sell that I will walk AWAY before my money can be snatched out from under my eyes~I do think that solidly researching a product is useful though. 

Today I went yard sale shopping and found myself at a home with OF ALL THINGS, canning jars. These were older jars, dirty OF COURSE, and no lids or rings.  There were several boxes of jars of the quart and pint variety and since we are beginning to get in our garden produce, I thought that getting jars at a savings would be smart.  So I asked the gentleman running the garage sale how much he wanted.  OK, HERE is SisterT's take on a MAN running a garage sale with no lady of the house in sight: OFTEN the prices are not as good and they don't know what is a good price.  I realize this is a generalization, but I have found it to be true too often.  As I expected, the gentleman gave me a price that was too high.  I asked him would he consider less.  (TIME TO BARGAIN...) and he said, "why, do you think it's too high?" Now, gentle reader, you KNOW I wouldn't have said such if I had thought his price was fair! Then I replied, "well, I'm not going to argue about it..." I did not purchase jars, but I did purchase a pressure cooker WITH THE WEIGHT which is something I had looked for, for quite some time. The pressure cooker was $4.  It was clean and sturdy.  A good deal!!

I went to several sales and found items I didn't want to purchase for the prices they were asking, and in more than that ONE case I walked away.  There was a hanging light...I don't even WANT a hanging light, but I did like the globes and could use them on the lights my husband had made for our bedroom for the sconces, but I didn't want to pay the BUCK! I walked...later on, we were out again and happened to drive by the site of that sale...LO AND BEHOLD...LOL...there was a FREE sign on several boxes by the street...OMgoodness, and there was my cool is that!! AND A pair of American Eagle leather slides IN MY SIZE...soo cute!! I had failed to see them b/c often yard sales don't carry my size 11 shoe size so I don't even look!! WOW!! OK, so I know, I am thrifty...I am in fact, cheap...but isn't it amazing that I got just what I it's my joy to get them washed up and globes on those lights~amazing!!

When you are shopping do you pay the first price you see?

I have learned that even the secondary market is divided by best pricing.  Garage/yard sales tend to be cheaper than thrift stores and Craig's List.  I also think that some garage sales are over priced in some items.  Another case in my shopping today was happening upon an estate sale by a family member...something done quite different than a non emotionally involved party.  The dear lady who was there manning the sale was obviously having a hard time letting go of her parent's items.  She had not only priced them waaaayyy too high~1970s floral couch with a urine smell she had marked $75.  Don't get me wrong, the price might not have been high for something clean and undated..dunno...but for ME it was too high...I'm sure she had missed the smell because she told me her parents had lived in that house 69 years and they had grown up was obvious she was still grieving...I felt for her and offered my sympathy... ... ... and gently left...

There are all kinds of situations at these kinds of sales, but often the bargains are out there for the hunting!  I call our absolute bargain our "deal of the day." Oh yeah, we had about a nice brown recliner for $5??? You cannot hardly beat that UNLESS it too had had that free sign!!

So I want to remind you to pay what you know to be the best price and what an item is worth considering your research. I knew that the canning jars could be purchased WITH rings/lids for just a few dollars his deal wasn't worth it to me TODAY...

Go ahead and hunt up your deal of the day and it will surprise you what you just might find...I call it, the thrill of the go!! 

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Downsizing Doesn't Have to Mean Loss

Our economy continues to tank for many of us.  Frankly we are not living on the money we once did, but have learned how to make not only our ends meat but do some extra stuff along the way that if we had not learned solid strategy we might be living in a vehicle or shelter it got so tight along the way! Boy, aren't we blessed~yes, but it was also taking a cold hard look at WHERE our money was traveling off to while we were left holding the bag wondering IF we would ever see the light of day!

My ideas are extreme for some of us, yes, I admit.  But if you find yourself either wanting to build wealth OR to maintain your home and well being while your money is tight, then you will want to read further.  Having some money tucked back for the just in cases won't happen unless we intentionally do what it will take to accomplish a little savings and curb our lifestyle so that we can save!

You know, if you were facing a job loss~loss of income, how would you deal? Would your car and home go quickly or could you find a way to make it on less? The designer lifestyle is all fine and good when we can truly afford it, but if we are living paycheck to paycheck when we really don't know HOW LONG our economic viability will last us is just plain crazy...You know it! So do I! But like so many, we waited until...UNTIL the job downsizing happened before we made efforts to preserve our home.  I offer ideas for deciding HOW to prioritize where your money goes~yes, spending reflects priority! AND we can make sure we are OK until things improve for us economically.  Listen, Hub and I have maintained and in some ways flourished on less than 1/2 or his previous income without losing ONE thing except some preheld ideas about money and living...AND vehicles were paid off and even a NEW TO US one was purchased with cash!

OK, so join on up~GoogleFriend me and read on...I don't think you will be sorry.

Even if you are not looking at loss, but just wanting a more secure future, these ideas can help! Hey, be sure and leave me a shout out and tell me what's on your mind!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Coupons For LOADS of STUFF~Food too!

I am NOT a huge coupon person ONLY because I generally find things cheaper or don't use the name brands hardly at all, but I've realized that money off IS MONEY OFF and some of you may have need of these~there's a few here that I could with no more ado...
Check THIS out!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Bargain Hunting~

Looking for the best prices includes the ACTUAL looking and shopping for prices while comparing the features of an item.  What is it, how is it made, and how much are three of the many many questions we have to ask ourselves before we settle in on a purchase.  Good deals are not always as they seem.  If something requires spending more money even though it's a great sale, it's not always such a good idea.  Think about clothing for example. If you hate to iron or find dry cleaning expensive, then fabric content is more than just a feature of the comfort and wearability in a garment~it's an essential to its value.  When I see a leather coat for instance. If it is genuine leather and will need dry cleaning then I know to calculate these costs into the total decision to purchase it or not. 

This weekend we hit some yard sales for deals on items we NEED! I love finding good quality items for pennies on the dollar or our spending.  We needed some glass storage jars for spices, coffee and other items like that so when I came across vintage jars with old coffee pressed logos I thought about how cute they'd be in my country kitchen. At .15 cents each they are truly a deal~

Finding a bargain entails hunting, and the better we are at knowing prices the potential BETTER the BARGAIN!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Making the Harvest Last

So the garden has begun coming in with the fruit of all the labor~whether it's your own labor or the farmers.  How to preserve the goodness has been a challenge for folks for years.  Last year we froze loads of our stuff. It was so delish this winter to pull our fresh fruit and veggies from the freezer to eat and enjoy~whoot! and so healthy!! Well, freezing is easy, no joke. But if you want to preserve food without a freezer canning is the way to go.  I have canned freshly made strawberry preserves which are to die for! This year, I am going to do a combination of both. Our freezer is just so big and we have more shelf space than freezer.  If you want to reduce the sodium and KNOW what's in your food, home preservation is the way to go.  I think in the morning we are going to hit the strawberry you pick.  Wonder where yours is near you? Search engine it~it's what I did!!

Here's a link about canning and harvest dates. KNOWING when the foods are available makes it possible as a first step!

Here's to preservation for later enjoyment!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Still Thriving With NO Green$

So with the economy like it is, most of us are making it with the changes that we've accomplished.  I am finding new ways all the time to do things on LESS~I need new kitchen curtains.  OK~sooo, I pulled out some fabric I have that I had purchased for $1 and got: ONE table cloth, ONE runner, Two window curtains and ONE curtain for under the cabinet.  Whooot! Then to beat this absolutely cheap situation, I wanted some new curtains for the bathroom~enter left over fabric that had been 10 CENTS from a yard sale:  it made THREE king sized pillow cases, and ONE pair of bathroom curtains~ You know, this is all good and they are just perfect...WHAT can you do to save a buck and enhance your life? At this rate, I can save enough for a trip...or if things are really tight, SURVIVE!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Mary, Mary Quite Contrary HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW?

Whoohoo! It's nice and warm here so last week hub and the kiddos worked in the yard to get our garden planted.  We are in the northern midwest so snow and coldish nights are definitely garden killers for young tender plants.  Some things worked for us this year and others did not.


Making the patch bigger by over 50%.
Tilling it up and tilling it again.  Breaking the soil down twice helped with grass removal.
Purchasing healthy veggie plants instead of starting our own~READ what didn't work and plans for NXT YR!
New way of "staking" the tomatoes and fencing the area to keep Peter Cottontail OUT of it!
Raised bed for lettuce and celery.  **WANT spring onions nxt year!

Didn't Work:
Growing our own starts in the basement despite light and soil.  Just too cool and forgot some crucial watering!
Tilling it all with our own small tiller.  Thank God for a Christian brother who helped with his tractor!
Buying plants, while it worked, the plan is this summer to construct a "greenhouse" of will follow!

Gardening is a process that can take years to cultivate the patch~soil and growing conditions.  
What a journey, and I can't wait to get into those FRESH VEGGIES~while not totally FREE, certainly lower in price and Oh SO healthy!


Friday, May 21, 2010


I have found myself all cluttered up in JUNK and off to the donation center it went today...HOW can I clean home when every surface and spot is full to the BRIM? I can't.  Staying organized and tidy brings ORDER to our lives.  Order brings a sense of being OK.  Less really is more!

I promise that as we declutter and spring clean that order and a sense that all is right with the world are results of our efforts.  What a good feeling to be able to bless someone else with items we no longer need in our lives! Sooo while spring has sprung on the outside, let's take advantage of the great weather and reorder our lives~somehow it will make tending to our financial house a little easier!

Monday, May 10, 2010


Debt is being discussed more and more in our world.  Isn't the USA touted as the world's most indebted country of all time? I've just read this folks! And WHY would it be so important to become debt free both nationally and personally?

Debt causes a vaccum of want and ultimately need as the amount owed is called for by the lender. Talk about pressue from this vaccum! Just imagine if our creditors asked us to repay our debt in one payment or  possibly two? WHAT would happen? Would we forclose or forfeit the debt for a return of some sort of value to the lender? This is what happens in home foreclosure. Houses are confiscated when money is requested by lenders, and it's not available! When the lender wants his money that is owed him it is huge stress because pressures increase!

But if we can find a way to become debt free~to live within our means no matter the meager wage or income, then we can be free of such pressures. This is true for us personally and nationally! Our nation will have to repay as will each of us for what we barrow from another! We must be sure that our debts don't increase because what we get for our borrowing needs to remain valuable so when we have to repay, the value is still available!  If we lose value, then we lose big time as we have nothing with which to repay our creditor. We must MUST must find healthy and innovative ways to reduce our debt. This will take sacrifice on our parts. We cannot be lured into spending what is not ours to spend~either personally or nationally no matter how good it all sounds!! WE MUST BE RESPONSIBLE for our spending!

It's so important to become debt free and avoid debt by living within our means.  This won't be easy when all around us is all kinds of advertising to GET OUR MONEY today and in the future!  That's really what debt is~ someone who guaranteed our money into our futures for a HUGE PRICE!

I got really excited seeing a friend's pics of her prepared and newly planted garden. Go Jennifer!! This was absolutely awesome and what a cost saver!! I know there is hard work and an initial outlay of funds, but in the end, so worth it!  Making anykind of plan to use what we have, make what we need less and save some can help whether it's the summer garden we just planted, using found objects to save money in needed items or making and selling things, it can all help! The idea is to save and KEEP more than comes into the home.  We must learn and learn well~our future is at stake here!

Remember to KNOW how much you owe, make a plan to pay it down as quickly as possible, and find ways to make the money we have last longer AND SAVE SOME!! THRIFT busts up debt!

It's so important to become debt free for so many reasons and the future absolutely depends upon it.
The old saying:
Live like nobody today,so you can live like nobody tomorrow!

Make a plan! Stick to it!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Mother's Day On a Budget

It's the last few days before Mother's Day and the budget is busted and there's little time to make an elaborite something special.  What to do?

If you live in the same city or town as your mother, cook what you know she will enjoy and invite her over Sunday.  Deck out the table with whatever you have that's pretty~we're on a budget with little to spare so go digging and use what you have.  Special linnens, dishes, and a few extra pretty touches like some home picked, garden grown flowes arranged in a pretty container for a centerpiece.  OK, no flowers? No problem.  What about a candle or several for the table? Only go this route if you already have candles.  Centerpieces can be whatever is pretty and will adorn the table.  Bowl of fruit? How about checking out what is available around the house that will be pretty.  The idea is to make the table special for mom. 

IF your mother lives out of town, TODAY is the day to get that card in the mail.  DO IT! Don't delay! To get there by Sat it's crucial that you move on it NOW! AND let the kiddos make the card or cards.  Grandmothers generally LOVE cards handmade from their grands.  You can make your own envelope to mail the card(s) in if you don't have a "stray" one lying around. 

Ideas on the cheap:
Do a pedicure or manicure for your mother.  These are sooo luxurious and relaxing.  Make mom a coupon offering the gift.  Present the "gift" card on Mother's Day.

Gift basket of items she'll love.  I recommend Dollar Tree for inexpensive shopping.  They have the filler for the bottom of the basket and the basket along with celephane for wrapping the basket after the gift(s) are enclosed.  For $3 extra, you will have a handsome pleasant presentation for your gift.

Ballon  I know this sounds silly, but recently my mother had surgery and my kids bought her the cutest mylar FROG balloon. This was almost 3 mo ago, and he's still up and flying. This was a Dollar Tree purchase that she has really enjoyed. 

Potted plant  Do you have an attractive plan mom would enjoy? Use some tissue or gift wrap to adorn the pot with some ribbon or a bow.  Use a straw or some other small stick to intert a gift tag for her.

Family pic  Get out the camera and take some family shots.  You can purchase inexpensive frames from my fave store OR you can even get a small photo album from the same store to make a mini scrapbook.  These are loads of fun, and whether mom lives next door or across the country, she will love it!

Book  Is mom a reader? Do you already own a nice book in good condition she'd enjoy? Think about this one.  It's really a great deal for the busted budget.

Gift of service  If mom is near, have the kids and yourself DO something for mom like cleaning out her car and washing/waxing or some yard work like planting some pretty flowers that will bloom until winter.  Does mom need something or want some other service done for her home? Cleaning out places like attics and garages or washing windows will be appreciated.

OK~What are your ON A BUDGET Mother's Day ideas?
Leave me a shoutout!

Monday, May 3, 2010


It's soon to be summer, and many families will be vacationing this time of year. Are you planning a trip or excursion? I was thinking that in this economy that WORK still creates a very "dull" boy (AND MOM) sooo getting away can be as important as ever before!

Where ya going?
Pick the destination is important AS FAR in advance as possible.  For travelers, tickets are generally cheaper if advanced purchased...but many of us can't quite decide if we want to lock ourselves into a PLACE, DATE and TIME sooo far into the future~ but there are other things that picking and chosing a head of time will do for us.

Go a head and dream up some places you'd like to go.  FAR or near, having an idea is good because then we can get some info on the area, attractions, and accomodations.  I mean, think this way, if you love love love, let's say...Disney...then going in the hottest time of year~May-Nov IMHO (because FL is still HOT these months) might not suit you, but in Dec or Jan if the heat is an issue...what else is there so you can decide if you want to see it too? When we travel, we will think up other places and plans so that we get more for our travel dollar.  Last year hub had a national convention he attended in a large city and we made some stops to other places nearby that otherwise we wouldn't have gotten near in a typical year...and it saved us gas and time...but you can do this same thing in a vacation.  Traveling by car does make this a bit easier, but in flying, you can still plan with your rental car at your flight's destination.  You can order travel brochures, and I like to pick them up as we travel. We live one mile off of a major interstate, and because all up and down all businesses have the travel brochures of WHAT TO SEE AND DO kinds, I always look them over on both ends of our state.  Doing this gives me ideas of what is there and what sparks our interest. 

A STAYCATION is that trendy new term for a close to home day trip kind of thing.  When I was a kid, it was called "taking a ride" or "going for a ride to see what we can see."  My parents were masters at this, and believe it or not, my favorite travel ride was down a road called "Stagecoach Road." It was AT THE TIME, a two line bath through the woods that I imagined covered wagons traveling and carriages of years a fore me...I love trees and nature too so peering into the woods as we had to go so gingerly because it wasn't well maintained, but Oh the adventure! 

Nature trails can do the same thing for a hike which can often be found in state parks.  Hub, kids and I have really just a few times, but LOVED going camping close to home but getting away from all the stress of life.  Sometimes just looking at something different for a night or two CAN really help in the long run.  I like to camp in fall and early spring.  In some parts of the country, I've camped in dead of winter and even over Christmas. Imagine Santa arriving in a camper or campground?  Folks in the state parks are friendly and it's a nice place to unwind. 

Sunday drives used to be quite common but with gas prices it's a difficulty, but we can budget for these if we aren't traveling.  Take an hour or two and really SEE your community.  Ride slow and LOOK at what is around you...I often ride through our small town just to see what is going on around me, and to look at what folks are doing to their houses.  I look at renovations and paint schemes, and even landscaping. Since nothing really is new, I like to get ideas of what appeals to me.  Something to see...and I like going and sitting in a park too.  When the kids were littles I'd take their bikes and turn them loose.  It was fun to see them with other kids and playing so hard.  Hearing birds sing and feeling the gentle wind is soo relaxing.  Nature has her own scent too!

OK, so if getting out and about or around isn't your thing, I suggest personal home spa times.  Head over and soak the feet, pedicure time!  Read a book or lounge on the yard to relax.  AND if this didn't work, hit the couch! A cool glass of tea and a good pillow work too~

Just remember that Vacation time is a time to either go or stay, but R&R are essential!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Convenience Foods on the Cheap!

Without a doubt, foods in the box, bag and pouch are easier and FASTER but definitely not cheaper and in some ways less healthy, which definitely ISN'T cheaper!

Soo what's a thriftmonger to do to save TIME and money and EAT FAST?

Figure out how to make up the foods inexpensively in a way they are available quickly!

Weekly menu planning can save time when figuring out the grocery list. Once a good list is made, be sure and check out the pantry shelves to see just what's there for the eating.  What is there that "NEEDS" to be eaten meaning that if left another day, it could spoil or become less desirable?  Eat everything well within dates and at its peak. This is optimum usage and thrift.

But how?

When a menu is made, the guess work is taken out of the week. Menus not only plan the shopping but the preparation and eating as well. A well balanced diet is easier achieved by planning. When a plan is made, groceries and other household goods such as tissue paper can be anticipated and purchased saving time, energy and GASOLINE by avoiding unwanted trips out to pick up this or that.  Is a holiday coming or a celebration in the family this next week or after? Plan for it.  If it's going to be costly, such as a birthday party, buy a few extra items each week and "squirrel" them back for the event.  It can take the load off of the week where it occurs. I purchase holiday items this way too. I've begun shopping a month or so ago for Christmas...yes, it's only April, but the prices may never be better! (Remember to know prices, even of foods and purchase foods (EVERYTHING!) when they are in season to get the best quality and prices.)  Menus are good, but methods of preparation are needed too to get the food items on the table....

but HOW do I save time here?

Easy.  By planning and work, foods can be prepared days to weeks in advanced and stored in safe ways that prevent spoilage so that they are pull out items ready and CONVENIENT! Convenience is WHAT we all crave! Foods that are quick and well as cost effective.

Chop foods a head of time.  If you are having beef stew and know that you are only using a few fresh carrots, then WHAT else will you make with carrots to prevent ruin?  I like to make carrot salad (grated carrots, mayo, 1tsp sugar/honey and dried fruit and/or nuts.) I also like to fix them on a plate FRESH so my kiddos can much on them.  IF prepared, they make a great crunchy snack that is very enjoyable~healthy too, and this is a win-WIN!!

Salad fixings such as tomato, cucumber, broccoli and onion, peppers~REALLY whatever you like, can be chopped ahead of time and placed in glass jars, plastic ware (don't like this stuff, but I do use some of it!), and or other storage devices~for iceberg or Romain lettuce, unwashed, I wrap it in paper towels and store in a plastic bag-it's best if torn from the head and washed as it's used and not cut even a head of time, because it will turn brown~ewww!

ANY veggie you can chop a day or two in advance of a meal, while chopping something else is better!  When doing summer squash, I would always chop up some for the stew pot, and also for the fry pan. Nothing better than some fried squash.  No, I didn't precook this, as it doesn't retain its texture and flavors.  Onions for all uses can be prechopped as well as peppers, celery, cabbage...a word about potatoes:  LOVE 'EM, but if you want to prechop, put them into water and in the fridge, or otherwise they will turn brown.  It your recipe doesn't call for peeled potatoes, you can always scrub the skins a head of time though! Do as much as you can while in the kitchen preparing other meals AND clean as you go.

Oh that DREADED WORD~cleaning!

I find that if I wipe and swipe up and around as I go,,,rinse and load, wash and dry as I go, there's less mess after the event.  I like to polish out my sink as I go too~MULTI-TASKing is essential to convenience.  Never go into the kitchen to just do ONE thing.  Accomplish as much as you can when you are there, so you can go on with the day as quickly as possible.

Eating at home, Eating prepared foods and not grocery-store-fast food-WANNA BEs is how we can save MORE money EVEN by not using coupons~yes, it's TRUE~by with planning and preparation!

No doubt, home cooked foods and convenience store foods DO NOT taste the same! As good as something tastes, it's not taste that's as important is the nutritional value to our bodies!  If you are just becoming acquainted with home cooked meals, then give yourself some adjustment time.  It takes time to adjust, but the wholesome flavors of REAL foods will catch on in your taste, AND as you tell yourself it's healthier and frugal, it will become more satisfying!  I don't CARE how good a fast food burger is, we'd ALL be hard pressed to recreate it at home UNLESS we have a chemistry set with all the right ingredients. READ those labels! No wonder we get sick and are fat!

Planning and prep work will make the inconvenient foods that are healthier and less costly a GREAT DEAL both in terms of our purses and health!

HOW long can we refrain from heading out to a restaurant JUST BECAUSE? (challenge here!!)

OK...plan that menu, and set a side just a little extra time~it will yield HIGH in savings!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

TV for Less

When you come into our living room, you will see the television over in the corner on top of the family three drawer chest. It's a larger screen older model that really takes up space. Why I keep it, I really don't know. Guess it's an icon of former times in our family because today we generally and this goes for weeks on end, do not watch it. But what do we do? We compute! LOL! In fact, the computers have totally replaced our television lives for the small screens of monitors and laptops. The sound is better, the picture is better and WE DON'T PAY A CABLE or DISH BILL either! Money Saving Plan 's Money Saving Mom has a guest blog about not paying a cable bill, but  I go a bit farther than she does in saying that I HATE network TV with the exception of "occasional" news~how about once or twice a year?  So with this said, I know I'm wierd. I am different. It's true. But living on my budget doesn't mean I have no entertainment. I have loads of it. I have online entertainment! I have all the FREE stuff out there that my handy-dandy search engine finds for me, PLUS I have Netflix. Netflix is affordable at $9.99 mo for unlimited monthly rental ONE at a time! OK, so it works out pretty good for us. We replaced the ONE EYED MONSTER for the four screens of life~we read on these screens; we listen to audiobooks on these screens; we watch live streaming stuff that cable subscribers watch (C-Span) when we want, and more! There are several free movie and TV programming sites too!

I LOVE YouTube! There is a wealth of stuff that people upload continuously~it is always being changed! If you want news, short film, videos of every kind they are there for the watching! I've seen loads of everything from television programming to film.

The television need not be mindless. It is also educational as well because our eyes are a gateway to the mind. If we remember this, the fact that we can CHOSE our programing as well as save money by not paying cable or dish bills makes my habit a win-win! (FORGOT to mention if you like the big screen and want to watch something as a family, you can use a patch cord to plug the computer into the TV~how cool is this???) Whoo HOO!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Gardening GETTING UPs

It's that time of year to don on the old clothes and hit the outside for garden prep. Some are already ahead of Sista because you live in a warm climate and haven't dealt with snow and the coldish nights of spring~but even if you were like me and had to wait for snow to mealt, it's all greened up out there now~start digging up that grass and planning the plot of gardening for the year!

What do you want to eat from the garden?

This is a question I asked myself this year. Last year we got LOADS of tomatos which were divivne, but boy oh boy there were loads to process for the freezer~do I want to do this again? YOU BETCHA! Love tomatos and we ate them all winter~in soups, sauces and stews!! Wish we could have kept them fresh all winter for a good ole "mater" sandwhich, but not possible as you all know~not in my sun deprived climate, but you might be able to bucket grow some and keep them inside, we can't.  Then we had loads of fresh basil. Not that I dislike basil, but HOW MUCH basil do I need is the better question.  I had too much and too much celery too~sooo folks, look at WHAT you want to eat and how much! I KNOW I want tomatos as we eat them a lot~but maybe you don't like them so much.  Grow less, unless, ofcourse you are sharing, which is wonderful to do.  Don't ever waste the bounty~I'm sure you wouldn't~  Decide on what to grow along with how much you want and need. Plan the garden first. Get good quaility plants and seeds.  We had a funny thing happen last year. My husband planted "squash" as it said on the package, which turned out to be a Japanese PUMPKIN!!LOL!! sometimes the cheap seeds will surprise ya! But they were good to eat and make great pumpkin pie~

Once you know what you want to eat so you know what you want to grow, make a plan for your garden. Will it be in the ground or pot gardening? We do a combination of a raised bed for leaf lettuces, celery, herbs and spinich. The rest of the produce goes into the ground in a tilled up plot area with a wire fencing which comprises of a double wire that is about 4 inches and then about 8 inches off the ground to deter vermin.  It really helped keep the bunnies out of our squash and peppers this last year.  WE DO HAVE A BUNNY too! He's cute, but a pain...wonder if he's fit in my stew pot? OK, just kidding! (My hub would eat him though!)

The location is important according to how much sun is needed for the plants. Remember too that soil prep is really important. We have clayish soil so we like to turn in compost each year. We have an almost antique tiller that my husband repaired that does a good job. If you don't have a tiller, a shovel is much more work, but will do the trick. Have you ever thought of asking for a broken one on FreeCycle and repairing it yourself? Sometimes this can work out well if you can do this kind of thing.  Once the soil is prepped, it's time to plant. Besure you let any plants you are transplanting wilt just a bit so when you go to handle them, they will not break. Water well after transplanting them, and be sure to keep it well watered throughout the growing season.   If you want organic foods, refrain from using fertilizers, but use good composting and manure to pretreat the soil before planting. I like to put egg shells into a milk jug with water and let them set until some of the egg shell disolves. I use this "treated" water on the plants, which they love! Of course, it's a bit smelly, but in the garden, it's just fine. what are you going to grow in your garden?

My hubby is planting:
lettuce (leaf)
peppers (bell, banna, hot and mild)
green spring onions
egg plant

I want to plug FreeCycle which is a YaHoo group where it's owned by local people for the purpose of recycling what is no longer useful for ourselves but for others. I am a member here in our community and have given and recieved some much needed and useful items. I have recieved tomato, peppers, pond lilies and raspberry starts and this year, strawberry plants. This is absolutely wonderful and WHAT SAVINGS!! We are soo blessed! Hunt down your local FreeCycle and join up! Remember to always thank each person who shares with you. I always am so thrilled someone shared with me!  

Here's to gardening!