01 September 2014

Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments ~ 1 Sept 2014

Joining Brandy at The Prudent Homemaker for the frugal accomplishments line up - I feel like a lot of what I did was just business as usual so I won't list it all, and I did have some splurges this week that were not frugal.  Full disclosure: I stopped at the base drive thru on the way back from taking the kids to their camp van pick up each morning and got myself a soda.  But I did it on the drive I was on anyway, so we'll call that consolidating errands, okay?  LOL

Okay, for the real money saving stuff:

  • Used the new drying rack along with our smaller one and our Japanese sock hangers to dry laundry.  I found out I'll probably still need the retractable line up in the garage for doing sheets in the winter as the rack just isn't wide enough to dry them without a lot of nice warm sun.  I'm fine with that though - or even just tossing things like linens and towels in the dryer still, as drying clothes on the racks still cuts my electric usage significantly!  I was able to dry the sheets and tablecloth on the racks by "ballooning" them over the racks, and I dried an afghan by folding it in half over the chain link fence.  Those worked well that day because we had a sunny day with a warm breeze blowing through everything.
  • Caught rain on Saturday morning in totes/buckets.  I learned a new trick: putting a bucket under the lowest corner of the patio table results in a lot of water caught!  There's a little gap between the glass and the metal trim and the aggregate patio is uneven, so water naturally drained out that corner.  By staging a bucket in that spot, I got more than two gallons of water.  Compared to the bits and bobbits in the storage totes that were just stuck out in the open, that was quite the coup.  Everything has been consolidated into one tote that I can cover until I use up the water in the garden.
  • Picked up a natural dog magazine at the bookstore because my son spotted a feature listed about natural flea control.  Learned several tricks I'll be discussing with the vet and possibly trying, in the hopes of eliminating the use (and cost) of the chemical "spot" treatment for fleas and ticks that we use each month for Miss V.  I believe the skin issues she's having may well be from being squirted with insecticide every month, and I certainly don't like the risks to our family (even if we don't pet those areas, she rubs up against things in the house so it's certainly getting on the couch we sit on, etc) and the risks to non-threatening bugs like bumble and honeybees when she's outside in the grass.  We'll be picking up some diatomaceous earth (DE) at the feed store and starting there, along with herb and essential oil options I learned in the article, with her vet's input/oversight.  (This is easy since her vet is holistic in focus, so I know she'll support the concept - but I trust her more educated opinion on what is safest for the dog too.  If she feels it is truly unsafe to try this route due to regional infestations I'm not aware of, I will defer to that and continue with the cash for the chemical method.)
  • Ordered a tent Manly found for 30% off at REI on their Labor Day sale along with some other items we do not have for camping.  Found a fleece vest on sale for Bub and got a larger size that will last him several years.  We also ordered bear spray, which was not on sale but is a strongly wanted item in our area (the military police were tracking bears in our housing again last week).  We went in through my Ebates account and received 2.5% cash back on the purchases, and used a credit card for the order that we get 1% store "bucks" for that we save up for large purchases there.  I will receive a dividend back from REI on the bear spray because it wasn't on clearance.
  • Made cleaning supplies at home with essential oils.
  • Harvested over a pound of green beans and about two pounds of tomatoes from the garden.

26 August 2014

Keep Calm Craft On ~ 26 Aug 2014

Joining Nicole at Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm Craft On.

>Picture a picture here - yet again I'm having internet problems (thank you, Verizon) so I'll add the photo when I can!<

I finished up the Baby Amanda Hat fairly quickly and picked back up on the grey scarf I had on the knitting board.  I started on it while we were in Texas, to be a donation for our knitting guild's project of sending warm winter gear up to a reservation in a cold northern state.  Unfortunately the guild disbanded, and I didn't finish the scarf before I left anyway.  My folks are working with a local business owner to collect winter coats and accessories for a "Warm County" effort - the business owner is working with customers and other businesses to collect new and gently used winter items to give to people in their county who are in need of such items this year.  He hopes to have a whole storeroom full of supplies by fall so people can get ready in time, especially those with kids in school who need something warm for the bus stop.  (Perfect timing, since I just read the other day that Farmers Almanac is predicting another rough winter!)

I'm almost done with this skein and I think I have another in my yarn bin, so I'm trying to decide whether to keep this as is and bind off soon, making it a wide but shorter neckwarmer (which would work well - it's doubleknit so it's still pretty cozy, and the grey plus the width would be nice looking and super easy for a man to throw under a coat without having to tie anything, wrap it up, etc) OR to go ahead and add the other skein and make it very long and wrappable (which would also make it long enough to tie if a person wanted, or make it almost a shawl for a child).  If I don't add in the second skein, I can do a long, narrow scarf on the smaller knitting board or on regular straight needles.  Pondering, pondering...

24 August 2014

Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments: 25 Aug 14

Joining Brandy at The Prudent Homemaker to share some frugal accomplishments today.  Stop on by and see her.  Be sure to read the comments on the post too; they are always as exciting to me as the initial post!

This week I:
  • Ordered the clothes drying rack I'd been researching.  After hearing back from Real Goods about their shipping rate, I decided to go with this rack (not an affiliate link).  Even with the FedEx shipping, it came in at a lower price than the other rack I was considering and gives me several more linear feet of drying space.  I decided to invest in a copy of their Solar Living Source Book, which was on sale for $5 (a savings of $34.95!), while I was paying for shipping anyway. [Edit: It's already arrived! My Monday laundry time is going to be AWESOME!!!]
  • Restocked our vitamins and the children's toothpaste.  I used Ebates to shop at Vitamin Shoppe; that got me a 1% rebate in addition to the free shipping for purchases over $25, a 10% off everything coupon I received via email, and rewards "points" that will add up to a gift card at the end of the year.
  • Finally got our old home warranty cancelled.  Despite the fact that we closed on the sale of our home in April, they have continued to bill our card.  I finally got someone who is (supposedly) going to cancel the contract.  I say "supposedly" because even after I explained four times that we no longer own the house and the buyer has their own warranty contract, the woman continued to ask if I was *sure* I wanted to cancel my warranty contract. ;)
  • Made homemade ricotta and used items in the pantry to make lasagna for lunch Wednesday.  My folks are dog sitting for us that day, so it will give them a nice lunch before they head back out and we'll have leftovers for Manly for lunches.
  • Started a baby hat for a friend using yarn left from another project.  It's a wonderful yarn - lovely to work with and super cozy to wear - so I'm glad to have enough to make a second project and know that her baby will be snug and warm when their winter hits.
  • Organized batteries in a new tote (passed on by my mom in her own reorganizing/purging process) so I can better see what we have and what we need to pick up.
  • Passed on information about job training in a field that lacks sufficient people to Bookly, who is looking for ways to pay for college.  [If you know someone strong enough to handle livestock, calm enough to do it well, and not afraid of hard work, have them look into shearing.  My fiber teacher mentioned that her shearer makes a very fair wage because few people these days have his skill set AND treat animals and people well.  She said research regional shearing classes online to get started.]  Not a savings for myself at this point, but it may help my oldest earn some cash and who knows - maybe she'll give me a family discount if I ever have sheep.  LOL
  • Used the small drying rack to hang half a load of clothes, cutting the time/electric usage for the larger items that had to go in the dryer.
  • Purchased the Kindle version of a text I need for a free college course I'm taking in September, saving $5 off the print copy.  It is about Laura Ingalls Wilder and the bulk of the required reading is from the Little House series, which I already own.  There are two recommended reading titles that I am skipping for now.
  • Used rain water caught last week to water plants.  I was able to water all four blueberry bushes, my tomato & herb container (which has two water bottles to fill), the celery, the ginger, the licorice, and the two gooseberry bushes with what we caught!
  • Used seed heads on the calendula and arnica to reseed within the pots.
  • Used cloth/reusable feminine items as necessary.
  • Experimented with using an open window in the bathroom during showers instead of running the electric exhaust fan.  On breezy days it does a much better job anyway!  On more still days, it does about the same as the fan can do.  Since I shower in the morning, not at night, I already left the electric light off and just use daylight.  (Once I take my glasses off I can't see well anyway, so low light makes no difference to me.  LOL)
  • Found a piece of fabric in Nana's sewing items that I think is long enough to make a "draught dodger" for one of the doors for winter.  She also had a large amount of thread I can use to sew it up.  I have wheat berries in the pantry and will deadhead the lavender I purchased last weekend here and there as well.
  • Fixed the patio screen door and reinstalled it.  (The dog ran into it and knocked it off the door, then Manly tried to reinstall it and popped the wheels out; he's much stronger than the screen frame, apparently. Haha!  I thought we'd have to call maintenance and buy a new screen frame, but I got them to pop back in and put the door in sans the Strong Guy.)
  • Kept using passive solar (blinds and window openings) to cool the house.  Focused on pulling in the cooler air at night - as of this writing, we didn't have to use fans to pull the air in last night and it's actually downright CHILLY in the house this morning!  That means I'm also using an extra blanket to stay warm so my husband can stay cool in the air without having a fan on for his side of the bedroom.
  • Made homemade refrigerator pickles from cucumbers from our garden.  A very exciting first for me.  :) (That link will also show you some of our garden harvest for the week.)
  • Spotted a canning seminar scheduled at the base library - free admission!  Signed up Chatty and myself.

23 August 2014

Eat Local Challenge, Week 3

Pierogies from Costco, Walla Walla sweet onions from the CSA & tomatoes from our garden
Joining Wendy for the Eat Local Challenge - other than our CSA deliveries, not a lot to speak of that can't be said more easily with pictures.  So enjoy the view here, then head over to say hi to the Browns and see what they've been up to this week!
Garden harvest #1: pickling cukes, eggplant, tomatoes, gooseberries, peas & green beans

Garden harvest #2: eggplant, pickling cukes & green beans
My very first batch of homemade refrigerator pickles - three quarts worth.  WOOT!

20 August 2014

Yarn Along ~ 20 Aug 2014

Joining Ginny for Yarn Along and Tami for WIP Wednesdays today. I'm now about halfway through the Baby Amanda Hat I cast on earlier this week.  I'm excited to say I'm wearing my completed Basic Socks as it's a bit chilly this morning. Woohoo!

I've just begun reading Gene Logsdon's Holy Sh-t: Managing Manure to Save Mankind.  It's interesting, certainly, but I've tried to cover things in the picture in case you have young ones who walk up and look at pictures over your shoulder when you read blogs like I do.  (*ahem*  Yes, child looking over MY shoulder, I'm referring to YOU.)  I hope that helps a bit.

He's giggling now.  Not sure if that's because you all now know he was peeking at Mom's computer or because of the title of the book.  ;)

Have a great day, folks.  We have LEGO Club today and I'll be taking my knitting bag along.  I got several rounds done on sock #2 at the last meeting; maybe I can get the hat to the decreases!