October 1, 2014

DIY Orange Clove Gardener’s Soap

This is a heavenly scented bar soap for gardener’s soil stained hands, but it’s just as effective and wonderful for your mechanics work worn and grease slicked ones! The scents combine deliciously and leave your hands clean, lightly exfoliated, and moisturized.
DIY orange olive oil gardener's soap

Homemade soap is much simpler to make than you might think, and I prefer it as you can customize scents, colors, and shapes to suit you or as a gift for a loved one. Toss a couple of these yummy soaps in a basket with a new set of gardening tools, a sun hat and you have a lovely DIY gift for the gardener in your life.

Ingredients:

Soap base
2 Tbsp. ground Clove
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. Shea butter
2 vitamin E capsules ( or 2 tsp.)
Grated peel from 3 oranges
Soap mold
witch hazel in a spray bottle

DIY orange olive oil gardener's soap ingredients

Directions:

1. To dry orange peel – grate oranges onto a paper towel using the larger grates, trying to just get peel not the white pith. Spread pieces out into a single layer and place in microwave for 20 second increments until dried and hard, sprinkle evenly into the bottom of molds.

grated orange peel for diy soap recipe
2. Cut soap base into 1”x1” cubes- the amount you use will vary depending on the size of your molds – my 4 mold container holds 6 liquid oz. each so for the purpose of this tutorial we will use my measurements. My 4 molds take about 9-10 pieces of soap base when combined with other ingredients- you may have to experiment a bit with your mold to determine exact amounts.
3. In a microwave safe bowl combine soap base cubes, olive oil, and shea butter- heat in 30 second increments, stirring each time. It takes about 1 ½ minutes to 2 minutes to liquefy.
4. Remove bowl from microwave carefully, stir in clove and pierce vitamin E capsule and disperse contents into mixture.
5. Pour into soap molds and spray lightly with witch hazel to cut down on bubbles.
6. Allow to harden overnight.

bar of orange olive oil soap
7. Remove from molds and keep in a dry, cool place to store.

Toss a couple of these yummy soaps in a basket with a new set of gardening tools, a sun hat and you have a lovely DIY gift for the gardener in your life.

Have you ever made soap?

Orange olive oil gardenern's soap

 

   About Jody: Jody is a Christian stay at home mom of 2 living in fun, and sunny Florida. She is passionate about: cooking, gardening, my backyard chickens, reading and scrapbooking. She loves taking all kinds of things apart and remaking it on her own.

The No Stess Way To Build A Stockpile

Having a well stocked pantry is so important! You never know what’s going to happen financially or even weather wise that might prevent you from being able to buy groceries. A well stocked pantry gives me a sense of security because I know I’ll be able to feed my family should something unfortunate happen. How long depends on how well stocked your pantry is (but something is better than nothing).

The No Stress Way To Build A Stockpile

The concept of stockpiling can be daunting (especially if you’re thinking of Extreme Couponing Stockpiling :) ). But it’s really not complicated at all to get started!  Mine is a more realistic approach to stockpiling.  Just take it nice and slow in the beginning and follow these steps. Remember everything new requires a learning period so give yourself some time to get the hang of building your stockpile.

1. What’s a stockpile?

To begin building a stockpile, you should probably understand what a stockpile is. A great way to explain stockpiling is that you’re building up a supply of items that your family normally eats or uses when you find those items extremely cheap. You may not need everything at the moment, but you’re prepping for the long haul.

2. Know What You Need

When it comes to stockpiling, you should know what you need product and food wise.  Take an inventory of your pantry and make a list of what you’d like to stockpile and go from there. That way you’ll know that you already have 10 cans of tomatoes and maybe you’ve determined that’s enough. Or maybe you’ve decided that 10 cans is not enough and you need 10 more! Figure out a quantity that will work for your family (and your budget).

3. Get Space Ready

You are going to need a place to put your stockpile. Find a place in your kitchen, basement, under the bed or in the garage that will house the extra items you’ll be buying.  Repurpose a linen closet or a utility closet like I did (My New Pantry & How I Organized It). Get creative!  It’s best to keep this area as organized as possible from the get go.

door to the pantry

4. Watch for Sales To Get Items for Your Stockpile

Here comes the most exciting part of stockpiling! The actual grocery store trips to get the items you have on your list. Here are some ideas to keep in mind when preparing for your trip.

1. Sales – Get your items at rock bottom prices! You’ll want to have an idea of when  sales happen in your area (usually every 6-12 weeks) and what your best price is. A price book is a great way to track that! Here’s my post on how to set up a price book. Or  to keep it super easy, you can just take advantage of  advertised weekly deals.

2. Coupons – You might want to use coupons when items are on sale to get the best price. For example: if you have a $1 coupon for a box of Macaroni & Cheese and the item goes on sale for $1, this is a great item to stock up on. I don’t use a lot of coupons but the ones I do use are organized in such a way that it’s easy for me to use them.  Here is my post on How I Organize My Coupons. Even if you don’t eat products that you usually find coupons for, most people still buy toilet paper, toothpaste, deodorant etc. So use your coupons to stockpile these things.

3. Obtaining Coupons – There are several ways you can obtain coupons. Printing off coupons, downloading coupons onto frequent shopper cards and purchasing your local newspaper are the most common ways to get coupons. Of course, you can also ask family and friends if they are going to use the coupons they have. Collect as many coupons as you can for the things your family normally eats.

4. Price match in stores that have this policy.

5. Determine Your Budget for Stocking Up

Since you are still going to be doing your normal grocery shopping,  you’ll have to decide how much of your grocery budget you can set aside for the purpose of stocking up if you can’t add additional money.

Can you use $5-10 of your regular grocery budget just for stocking up? Or perhaps you can only buy 1 or 2 extra things each time you shop.

Maybe your grocery budget is already really tight – then you need to think about ways to make some wiggle room. Maybe you need to plan for more vegetarian meals  in order to squeeze some extra money out of the grocery budget for stocking up.  Perhaps do a no spend weekend or cut back in other areas.  Maybe you need to sell something to get a bit of extra stock up money.

Some people allocate a portion of their tax return or bonus for stocking up. However you decide to handle this, do set yourself a limit for stockpiling and don’t go over budget.

6. Maintaining Your Stockpile

1. Mark the expiration date on your item with a marker if you can’t easily see the expiration date stamped on the item.

2. Keep like items together

3.  Rotate your stock.  Since you will be buying several items of the same type, you’ll want to have a good rotation practice in place. Keep the oldest items towards the front and the newest items in the back. Part of rotating is paying attention to the expiration dates.

Having a stockpile of food and other products on hand will give you peace of mind!

Do you keep a stockpile of food and other items? 

The No Stress Way To Build A Stockpile

LINKING TO: Thrifty Thursday

10 Ways You Can Save $100 This Month

No matter what your income level, everyone can benefit by saving a few extra dollars this month. With the cost of living constantly growing and the holidays coming up, having enough money is a major concern for most people. Here are 10 Ways To Save $100 This Month (without a whole lot of sacrifice).

10 Ways you can save $100 in a month

While some of these may already be implemented in your life or may not work for you, a few may be new to you or reminders. Remember to think outside the box with your budget and financial needs.

10 WAYS TO SAVE $100 THIS MONTH

1. This month make a no take out or no restaurant food ruleLearn to make your favorite take out/restaurant foods at home and don’t eat out or get take-out. There are tons of copycat recipes on the web for not only for dinner but also your favorite breakfast and lunch restaurants.  Try copykat.com and Pinterest for recipes.

2. Cancel your landline and just use your cell phone if you can (or try to switch to the lowest plan that will work for your needs)

3. Eat From Your Pantry: Put a hold on spending until you have dwindled what you already have in your freezer and pantry. Most of us have a rather large stock of items in our pantries, yet we continue to go shopping every week as if we have to do so or not eat. Take stock of what you have in your pantry and create your menu plan around it. Purchase only fresh fruits, veggies and milk as needed.Stick with it and work through your pantry foods or freezer meals to feed your family.

4. Go Vegetarian at least one day a week.  Skip the meat  and save money on your grocery budget. Substitute hearty bean, lentil and vegetable dishes that are satisfying and nutrient dense at a lower cost.

5. Join a local Freecycle group or Facebook barter/swap group and see if you can find some of your wants/needs for free.  Freecycle.org is a group where people in your area post things that they are willing to give a way if you come and pick up.

6. Turn Off Cable or Satellite: While many families already do without these luxuries, it may be time for you to evaluate if you truly need the services if you haven’t already done so. With Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Roku  and more out there for such a low monthly cost, many families are letting go of their  cable TV subscription. Some people even get tv stations with antennas! If you can’t let go completely, look at your plan and see if you can reduce the packages you currently subscribe to. Often they’ll give you a better deal if you threaten to cancel. It’s worth a try!

7. Take some water and easy to eat snacks with you when you’re out and about so you won’t be tempted to grab something to eat while out. These little trips to the fast food drive thru and gas station convenience stores add up! If you’re going to be out all day running errands or whatever, be prepared. You know you can’t go all day without eating or drinking something.

8. Do a No Spend Weekend at least once a month. Stay home, stay out of all the stores and find some free activities to do in your town or work on some projects around the house (as long as you already have the materials.

9. Make your own cleaning supplies instead of buying them. Check out my post on 15 Great DIY Household Cleaners

10. Re-think your entertainment/movie watching. If you’re going to the movies go to the show that’s discounted. In my area most shows are discounted before 6pm and there are a few theaters that have special days where the discount is even better and it’s all day anytime.

Better yet, rent a movie. We’ve found that paying to stream a movie on Amazon is way cheaper (and more convenient) than all of going to the movie theater. Also, rent from your library if you have one that has a good selection.

These simple ways to save $100 this month are easy to implement in any family. Between all of these you can save anywhere from $25-$100+ easily over the course of a month. If you combine them all there is potential to save quite a bit!

Don’t let the simple things add up and blow your paycheck. Look outside the box and work hard to bring your budget back where you need it to be.

What simple tips do you have for saving money?

 

You might also like: How to Get Out of Debt By Using the Snowball Method

How to use the Debt Snowball Method to get out of debt!

Easy Frugal Fall Wreath

I have a cute idea for an easy to make fall wreath today from Katie Femia who is going to be doing some guest posting for me while I pack up my house. She came up with this clever idea to use a burlap charger ($2) as the basis for a fall wreath!

Super easy to make frugal fall wreath!

Invite the warmth of fall into your home when you craft this festive and frugal fall wreath. Made from just a few dollar store materials, this pretty wreath is a fresh spin on the traditional idea of a wreath. Here’s how to make it.

Materials:

1 burlap covered charger ($2 at local craft store)
Assorted fall foliage and flowers (dollar store)
Mini pumpkins (dollar store)
Fall ribbon of your choice. You will need wide ribbon for hanging and thin ribbon for an accent. (dollar store)
Hot glue, glue gun
Scissors

materials for frugal fall wreath

Directions:
1. Begin by cutting your fall foliage and flowers up into individual stems. This will make them easier to work with. If any of the flowers are large (such as the orange sunflowers we used) you can remove the bloom at the head.
2. Before you apply your flowers, lay out a design. Once your happy with how it looks, apply some hot glue generously to the back of your flower heads. Press them to the charger and hold them in place until secure.
3. Add some embellishment around the flower heads. I used smaller fall mums as well as some mini pumpkins. Apply a generous amount of glue to these items and press them in place creating a cluster. As you can see I created two dominate clusters, but you can arrange as you wish.
4. Finish the front by adding a few small bows, created from your thin ribbon if you like.
5. Cut a length of the thick ribbon to use for hanging. Apply some hot glue to the ends and press it to the back of the charger until secure.

Once your glue is dry, your frugal fall wreath is ready for hanging!

dollar store fall wreath

This  easy fall wreath is perfect for hanging on  a door, mirror or over a buffet. Anywhere you need a touch of fall in your home.  It is sure to make your space look great without spending tons of money!

Katie Femia took a leap of faith several years ago and left her career as an elementary school teacher to pursue her dream of becoming a writer. She now enjoys the day-to-day musings of writing for a variety of websites as a regular contributor. She covers topics such as frugal living, craft projects, DIY projects, money saving strategies, and everything in between!

Getting Out of Debt By Using The Snowball Method

One of the reasons we are so looking forward to moving is that we plan on renting a much smaller less expensive house so that we can throw more money at some debt we accumulated over the past four years  (mostly a loan for private college tuition and a credit card we used to pay for more tuition). Are you  also trying to pay down debt but you’re not getting anywhere? Consider using the debt snowball system to get rid of your debt for good.  That’s what we’ve been doing and its working!

How to use the Debt Snowball Method to get out of debt!

The first time I heard of the Debt Snowball Method was after reading Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey.  It’s Baby Step 2 (Baby Step 1 is saving $1000 for your emergency fund).  Basically the strategy is that you pay down your smallest debt first while paying the minimum due on your other debt. Then when that debt is gone you roll that payment into the next debt on your list. This way you stay motivated as you see balances go down and debts get paid off!

Some people prefer to start with the highest interest rate debt instead (which some call the Snow Avalanche Method) and I think it just depends on what you find motivating. Some people are more into actual number crunching and some people are more into getting a psychological boost from seeing debts go away. A lot of getting out of debt is often behavior related.

Here’s a quick run down to get you started and at the end is a list of debt snowball calculators.

Dave Ramsey Daily tip - debt snowball method

How the debt snowball method works

#1. Make a List of Your Debts
In order to start paying down your debt via the snowball system, you need to list your debt from smallest to largest. Keep in mind that you’re not worried about any amount of interest at this point. You’ll want to focus on the actual amounts of the debt. I have a sheet in my Budget Binder that I use for this. Here’s my post on how to make a budget binder

#2. Put All Extra Money Towards One Debt
Instead of trying to spin your head and pay off all of your debt at once, you’ll want to put all of your extra money towards one debt. For example: let’s say you have $20 at the end of each week’s pay period or you get a bonus or you sell some stuff. You will want to put that money to good use by adding it to a particular debt. Preferably the smallest debt you have at the moment. The victory in paying off debt this way is you get excited to see one debt gone, one after another, even if they are small debts.

#3. All Money Goes Somewhere
You can’t have a snowball system if you are not telling your money where to go. This is where the zero-based cash budget comes in. Sit down each week/month and plan out where each $1 is going to go.

Paying down debt isn’t easy, but it’s something that needs to be done.  If you feel defeated in the debt paying process, try to celebrate the small victories in this process to keep you motivated.

Do you have plan for paying down debt or are you debt free?

Debt Snowball Calculators

Dave Ramsey Debt Snowball Calculator (free trial)

Crown Ministries Debt Snowball Calculator

What’s the Cost

Google Drive Debt Snowball Template

Debt Reduction Snowball Calculator

Debt Free Snowball App

Linking to: Thrifty Thursday

 

You might also like:  10 Printables That Can Help You Save Money

10 printables that will save you money

10 Printables To Save You Money

Did you know that simply being organized can be your ticket to saving money in the long run? One of the best ways to staying organized when it comes to saving money is to utilize the free printables that can be found online.

Here are 10 printables that will keep you organized and help you save money!

Being organized with paying your bills, knowing what you need and don’t need at the grocery, planning your meals and being able to find and use your coupons among other things will save you money! Really! Rather than search them out yourself, I found 10 great printables that will help you with this goal and put them all in one post. Consider this your “one stop shop” for free printables to help you save lots of money!

10 Printables to Save You Money

1. Printable Monthly Budget Chart from Raining Hot Coupons

2. Printable Planner for Sales Cycles from Faith Filled Foods for Moms

3. The “Ultimate Grocery List” from The Frugal Free Gal

4. Weekly Meal Planner from Passion for Savings

5. Expense Tracker from Creative Savings blog

6. Coupon Binder Pages from Moms by Heart

7. Printable List of Places Kids Eat Free from A Mitten Full of Savings

8. Stock Up Price List from Couponing To Be Debt Free

9. Annual Bill Organizer from Teach Me 2 Save

10.  Free Printables to use in making a budget binder from A Cultivated Nest

How does being organized save you money?

Linking to: Frugal Friday

You might also like my post on:

How to create a coupon organizer for the not-so-extreme couponer.

how to organize coupons for the NON-extreme couponer

How to Get Started With Couponing & Coupon Sites

I’m not a huge couponer but I do use coupons and they do help me save money! Every little bit of savings adds up in the long run! Do you want to start using coupons but have no idea how to get started?  Here are some basic steps for how to get started with couponing and at the bottom of the post is a list resources to find printable coupons.

Here's a basic guide for how to get started using coupons and a list of resources for printable coupons

If you’re not familiar with couponing it can be a bit intimidating at first!

A coupon is a piece of paper (or digital “piece of paper”)  from the manufacturer or store that offers you a discount for a specific item. Coupons can be used at most stores that carry that particular product. To be able to receive the discount you need to purchase the item that the coupon is for and give the coupon to the cashier (it’s easier to refer to paper coupons but coupons are also available in a digital format).  The cashier will run your coupon across the scanner and the amount of the coupon will be taken off your purchase price of that item.

How to Get Started Using Coupons

1. Start gathering your coupons. There are many places you can find coupons.  Newspapers, magazines, in stores,  online printables, and ones you can load to a shoppers card or app. In the newspaper almost every week you can get the Red Plum and Smart Source inserts.  The first week of each month Procter and Gamble has an insert in the paper as well.

Many magazines have great coupons as well.  All You is always full of great coupons.  Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Day, Family Circle and Red Book often have manufacturer coupons.

You can also look for coupons on products on store shelves when you walk though the store.   There are  a lot of great websites to get coupons from like coupons.comredplum, Mambo Sprouts (natural & organic coupons). There are also times you can get great coupons printed out right at the register.

If you have certain products or brands that are your favorite try emailing the companies or calling them to request coupons.  Some companies offer special coupons if you follow them on social media sites as well.

When you are ready to take on more coupons start asking friends and family members to save any unused coupons or complete inserts they have.  Some people also choose to have more then one paper delivered to their homes. There are also coupon clipper sites you can get more coupons from.

*You can usually print out more than one coupon but you can not make a copy of a printable coupon

Couponing-how to get started

2.Decide how you want to organize your coupons.  There are three well known “systems”, the binder, the small coupon organizer and keeping the entire insert.

* Keeping a coupon binder is great but can be very time consuming. You’ll need a 3 ring binder, baseball card dividers and section dividers.  If your binder is organized just right and you come across an unexpected sale you can easily flip through to see if you have a coupon for that item.  It is best to organize the coupons in your binder by certain categories. This will take more time in the beginning but in the long run will save you time and money.

* The small coupon organizer is great for organizing coupons if you’re not going to try extreme couponing.   You could combine this system with the binder method and when you have a certain trip planned you can get out all the coupons you know you will need for that trip out of your binder and organize them in the small organizer. Check out the way I organize my coupons here

One way to organize coupons is to use a small expanding file -see how to use this system efficiently

* Keeping all the inserts is a great option too.  You can organize them in a little file box by date which will help when searching the deal hunting sites and they tell you which date to get certain coupons from.  Be sure to regularly clean out your expired coupons.

You can always donate the expired coupons to the troops.  They must be clipped manufacturers coupons. You can send them here:

Support Our Troops® 
P.O. Box 70
Daytona Beach, FL 32115-0070

3. Check the sales circular for your grocery store. When it is time to do your shopping, go though the stores circular ads and make your grocery list. Go though your coupons and match the sales with what coupons you have in your coupon stash. This is how you save!

*B1G1  BOGO (Buy 1 Get 1 Free) + coupons saves you money.  Stacking (a store coupon + a  manufacturers coupon) saves you money. Knowing your lowest price for an item + using a coupon saves you money (see my post on how to make a price book here)

You want to be as organized as possible so you won’t get overwhelmed when you are checking out. You may want to start out by just going to the store for your coupon items if you’ve never used coupons before or if you’re using a lot of coupons. Once you’re comfortable with the whole process you can then combine your trips and get your coupon and non-coupon items in the same shop.

There are lots of  coupon match-up sites that do a lot of  the hard work for you!  They tell you what’s on sale and tell you where to find a coupon for that item (see the resource list below for some of those sites)

4.  Check your stores coupon policy. When preparing your first coupon trip you will want to be sure to check out that stores coupon policy which can usually be found on the stores website. It is best to print it out and have it with you at the store.   If you can’t find it online ask someone at the customer service desk if they can get you a copy.  It is always good to have a copy with you in case anything comes up at the register because some stores limit how many coupons you can use on a certain item and other things.  (Sometimes you get a cashier that needs to be reminded about the store’s coupon policy)

5. Double check your items and the coupons you are going to use.  Before you check out, check your list and make sure you got everything that you planned on getting with your coupons and that you have the correct coupon. It’s a good idea to count how many coupons you are going to use if your are using a lot of them. It’s easier to make sure that all of them scanned properly when you check your receipt when you know the total number of coupons you used.

You may have to visit a few different stores to maximize your savings. But by using coupons you will be able to get sale products to stock up on for cheap or sometimes even for free!

Coupon Resource Sites:

  1. Krazy Coupon Lady
  2. Money Saving Mom
  3. Southern Savers
  4. Passion for Savings
  5. Hip2Save
  6. CouponMom
  7. I Am That Lady

Happy couponing!

13 Unique Ways To Save Money

Written by Jess Weaver for A Cultivated Nest.

Are you tired of being in debt? Maybe you just want to save some money for something special. Well, there are many ways you can save a bit of cash, while still living (and loving) life that may not be your ordinary way to save money!

13 Unique Ways to Save Money

Here are 13 unique ways you can start saving money right away:

#1. Skip Couponing (if you’re an over spender)
If you are an over spender, sometimes couponing can lead to you spending more money than you would without couponing. Only coupon for what you need or use a price book instead.

#2. Leftovers (not just your own)
Make it known that you are willing to accept any one’s leftovers. This leftover thing doesn’t need to be weird. Just take leftovers when people offer them to you (after holidays and family gatherings, work functions, church functions). Better you use them than to have them thrown out.

#3. Don’t wash your hair
If you usually wash your hair every day try every other day or every third day. You’ll save money on hair care products and water.

#4. Go With a Store Bought Phone
In today’s day and age, you can save a ton of money by going with a store bought phone. Straight Talk has the same service (in most locations) as the bigger brands, like AT&T and Verizon.

#5. Hang Around Thrifty People
If you are spending a lot of time with people who spend money, then you will probably spend a lot of money as well. Hang around cheap/thrifty people and you are less likely to spend money.

#6. Be “Stingy”
Americans spend way more money than they really need to. It’s time to get a little stingy with your money. You don’t need to go out with your friends every weekend or leave the house every day (unless you work of course). Stay home and watch the dollar signs add up.

#7. Go to Bed Earlier
I know some of you have to stay up and work or whatever it is you do at night. However, going to bed when it gets dark outside is one way to save money on electricity.

#8. Detail Your Own Car
You probably ignore this part of your car anyways, but in case you get the itch to pay someone to do this. Don’t do it. Simply wash, wax, and detail your own car to save some money in the long run. If you’d like to make extra money, you could even start a little side business in the car detailing department.

#9.Use a Clear Jar
Every time you get some change –  a penny, quarter, or dime put it in the clear jar. It’s amazing what you can save over a short (or long) period of time. The clear jar helps you see your progress a little better.

#10.  Clearance Section
Have you ever stopped and looked in the clearance/markdown section of the grocery store? It’s not just old food that’s sitting there to be bought. Most of the time this is food that is simply changing labels (companies decide to upgrade branding from time to time). They put it in the clearance section to make room for new stuff or a new meat sale starts and they have to get rid of meat to make room.

#11. Get Rid of Not Only Cable but Your Internet
If you want to really save money, consider getting rid of your internet. This might take some getting used to, but there are plenty of free WiFi spots all over town.

#12. Get Weird
Hear me out, start picking up every penny, nickel, dime, and dollar you see on the street. People may look at you a little weird, but it’s a great way to save up money over time.

#13. Recycle Everything
No joke, recycling  or repurposing can help you save a lot of money. However, you don’t want to be one of those people on a television show because you decided to collect every single piece of paper you came across (trust me).

I hope these tips for little things you can do to save money help you! What out of the ordinary things do you do to save money?

You might also like:

How to Make a Budget Binder & Free Printables
Budget Binder - Bill Paying Schedule

Couponing – how to get started & resources for printable coupons

Here's a basic guide for how to get started using coupons and a list of resources for printable coupons

How To Get Started With Canning

Home canning is definitely experiencing a revival! Today I have Sadie Lankford sharing some tips for how to get started with canning.

Great tips for how to get started with canning

Thinking of canning? Here are some tips to get you started.

Do your homework. Read books about canning for beginners (check your library before buying any books), watch YouTube videos, and read articles (like this one!). Take notes, so you can use them when you get started.

Buy supplies as you can afford them or ask around before buying. The basic supplies you’ll need (or might want) include:

— Canning jars. I use ones that I bought for $9 for 12 at Wal-Mart. The seals were included.

— A funnel and ladle, for filling your jars.

— Tongs/jar lifter ( to lift the jars from the water bath.)

— Large stock pot

— Pressure Canner and Cooker

–Non Metallic Spatula

-Cheesecloth to separate solids from liquids

canning equipment

Sterilize, sterilize, sterilize. This step is so important to me when it comes to canning. It might be because I’m overly-cautious, but I always recommend sterilizing your lids and jars in hot, soapy water. After they’re washed, place them in a boiling water bath for up about 8-10 minutes. You can leave the lids in the water until you’re ready to use them, just to be safe and reduce the risk of them coming in contact with something before you seal the jars.

Related article: Prep, Pick, Preserve

Slice and dice! Follow your favorite recipes (I find mine on Pinterest) and slice your fruits and veggies. Keep in mind that tomatoes should have lemon juice added to them before you can them to ensure they keep the proper pH level. Add ascorbic acid solution to fruits so they don’t brown before you can them.

Fill ‘em up! Fill the jars with your vegetables (and/or fruits), and cover them with your pickling solution or boiling water just so you can cover all of the produce. Grab the lids from the water bath, wipe down the rims of the jars with a clean, damp paper towel, and seal them. Next, is processing.

ball jar filled with pickles

Select the correct processing time. The processing time can vary, depending on your ingredients (are they hot or raw?), your jar size, and your elevation. Check out this chart to help you select the correct processing time. The lids of your jars will (or should) make a slight “pop” noise after they’ve been removed from the pot.

Do more research. If you’re still unsure on how to do something, check out books from the library (or buy them from Amazon), and read other how-to guides on canning, pickling, and preserving. It seems that while the basic steps are the same, each person does it a little differently so it’s always great to hear other perspectives.

Remember your why. Canning is a lot of fun, but it’s also work. If you get to a point where you start to get frustrated, remember why you started canning. Was it to save money? Was it so you could ditch the preservatives? Or maybe it was so you could make some extra money! Whatever your why, keep it in mind!

Sadie Lankford  blogs at Slap Dash Mom where she shares lots of different things like recipes, crafts, fitness tips & parenting stories.

15 Great DIY Money Saving Household Cleaners

Moving to a greener lifestyle often means giving up some things we have become accustomed to and while that can often be scary, it can also be really amazing if we give it a try. One thing that I first did when I decided to live a greener lifestyle was to get rid of as many chemicals as I could. I started with my cleaning supplies. I was worried that switching to a greener DIY approach would mean my homemade cleaners wouldn’t be as effective as store bought cleaners. I’m happy to report that I was wrong (although I’ve found they do take a bit more elbow grease or time to soak).

15 natural household cleaners you can make your self
So if you are getting started on making your own cleaners whether out of a desire to be more eco-friendly or just because you want to save some money, here are 15 great DIY Money Saving Household Products to get you started!

15 DIY Money Saving Household Cleaners

1. Homemade  Cleaning Wipes from Organized Home

2. Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent from The Frugal Girls

3. Homemade Carpet Powder By Crunchy Frugalista

4. DIY Hardwood Floor Cleaner by Clean Mama

5. DIY Soft Scrub Abrasive Cleaner by Saved By Grace

6. DIY Orange Basil Vinegar Cleaner by The Happier Homemaker

7. DIY Stain Remover for Clothing by The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking

8. DIY Glass & Window Cleaner by The Dabblist

9. Homemade Swiffer Wetjet Refills by Surviving the Stores

10. DIY Miracle Deep Cleaning Spray (For stuck on food, grease and soap scum) by Saved by Grace

11. Make Your Own Liquid Laundry Detergent by One Good Thing By Jillee

12. Screen Cleaner (for Tvs, Computer Screens, ipads etc) by Brown Thumb Mama

13. Homemade Reusable Dryer Sheets by Clarks Condensed

14. Homemade Citrus Cleanser by One Good Thing By Jillee

15.  DIY Liquid Soap from A Cultivated Nest

These are all easy to make, eco-friendly and frugal!
15 diy money saving household cleaners (roundup)

Tips For Saving Money on Organic Meat

Most people know there are ways to save money on organic fruits and vegetables, but if you are trying to go as organic as you can in your diet, you will notice the sticker shock when you go to purchase organic meat!  Here are some tips on saving money on organic meat that have worked for me.

Great tips for saving money on organic meatYou will often find that the price is double or more what you are used to paying! Even when it’s not organic, meat is hard to save money on. Here are some tips for saving as much as you can on organic meat.

Tips & Tricks For Saving  Money on Organic Meat

  • Buy a whole or half of an animal and split the cost. Get some friends or family members together and directly buy from the farmer. Many times, this is the cheapest way. Each of you can split the cost and the meat. Just make sure you have the freezer room!
  • Be aware of portion size. The recommended size for meat is about as big as the palm of your hand, typically about 3 ounces.  Use less meat and round out your meals with more vegetables or grains
  • Look for wholesaler sales (like Zaycon) in your area. There are some great wholesale companies popping up that directly sell to the public via “events”. They ask you to pay for and reserve a large portion of meat (usually entire cases) and you come to the event, mostly held in business or church parking lots, and pick up your order at a later date. Many times, these wholesalers deal with farms that do not practice factory farming techniques such as corn feeding and often the food is natural and cage free.
  • Buy from farmer’s markets. If you are lucky enough to have an expanded one held in your area, you can often get organic or grass fed beef and other meat at these events. Since they come directly from the farmer, you can ask questions and they are often cheaper. This is a great way to go if you don’t have the space for a whole or half of an animal.
  • Check out wholesale clubs. These big box stores like Costco are starting to meet the demand from consumers to bring in more organic choices and one of them is meat. You can often find it much cheaper when bought in bulk at these low-cost buying markets.

10 tips and tricks to save money on organic meat

  • Just like with meat that is not organic, the less desired cuts are often cheaper when they are organic as well. While these may take longer to cook, they are perfect for crock pot recipes!
  • Check to see if your community offers a food CO-OP. This is kind of like a members only way to shop where it is run by volunteers (usually the members, so it might mean you will have to do some volunteer work as well) and collaborates with local farmers and producers to contract with them for a low price that is desired by the co-op community. Sometimes you can get organic and natural meat at 20-30% off store prices!
  • Visit your local old fashioned butcher shop. He or she may have some great tips for you and insider places to buy from and they may even have some great sales themselves.
  • Stretch your organic/grass fed ground beef with beans.
  • Check the closeout section of your normal grocery store. I often find grass fed beef and organic chickens reduced because they go a new shipment in. When you find organic meat at a great price stock up!

Follow these tips and buying organic meat will be much more affordable!

How do you save on organic meat?

 

7 Ways Your Smartphone Can Save You Money

There are so many ways you can use your favorite techy gadget to save you money. If you are going to take it everywhere you go, why not put it to work for something besides Facebook or Angry Birds? Here are some ways your smartphone can save you money that you may not have thought of!

7 ways your smartphone can save you money

Ways Your Smartphone Can Save You Money

1. Apps, apps and more apps. Everyone knows that the best thing about having a smartphone is all the fun apps you can put on it to simplify life and keep you entertained. However, did you know there are apps out there to help you find the best price of gas in your area (Gas Buddy)? Or how about apps designed to do the price matching for you when you head out to buy groceries (Favado)? There’s an app that gives your rebates on purchases (Ibotta). Target has a mobile coupon app that  will save you money (Cartwheel). Most of these apps are free, and they will help you keep your finances in check.

2. Use your calculator function. The calculator on your smartphone is one of the best ways to make sure you stay in budget. Just use it while you go through the store and add up things as you go along or figure out exactly how much a % off is (this is especially good if you’re not great at math). This way, there are no surprises when you get to the register on what you will be paying and you can better monitor if something is really a good deal.

3. Use your smartphone as a camera. No need to buy a fancy camera. These days smartphones take great photos and there are several apps that you can use to edit your photos to make them even better.

4. Look up digital coupons and deals in-store. Many times, advertisers do not advertise some of the deals they have. Instead, they have them available only if you search them out online. Google digital coupons that can be used right at the register while you check out. Also, find out if your favorite stores do digital text coupons. One store, Target, has an SMS text service that will send those that subscribe coupons periodically that contain a QR or Bar code that can be scanned for savings.

5.  Track your spending with your smartphone. If you are trying to keep your budget in check, getting an app that allows you to track your spending, such as the one from MINT.com, will help you do that. MINT’s app allows you to track spending, deposits and more while keeping an eye on all your bank activity. OneReceipt let’s you track your spending by taking a photo of your receipt & uploading it to your account.

6. Save money on gas AND not buying a GPS system  by using your phone’s navigation. Typically, most smartphones have built in navigation or you can get a free app. Even if you are not new to your area, you may be taking the longer way around to your destinations. Use your navigation to find routes that are the quickest way to get to any destination thereby saving you not only time, but gas.

7. Use your smartphone to compare prices. If you really like to compare prices, but don’t want to drive from store to store, use your smartphone at one store to look up prices at nearby competitors for their prices on the same item. You may find that you are already holding the lowest price on that item, and which case you just saved time and money by not having to drive all over. Plus, your smartphone gives you the ability to not only compare brick and mortar store prices, but also hunt for a better deal online. Use the lower price to price match!

Hope this gives you some new ideas. How do you use your smartphone to save you money?

 

how to use your smartphone to save you money

 

Thrifty Finds, Frugal Hits & A Miss

It’s been a while since I shared some of our frugal doings and thrifty finds. Instead of having garage sales we’ve been donating our stuff to Goodwill and of course, I have to run in while my husband drops stuff off. At least we’re donating waaay more than I’m buying! :)  Here are some recent thrift store finds.

Thrifted rooster print

I found this fabulous rooster print for $3.93! It says French Roosters, 1 in a series of 2 and its from Target. I don’t ever remember seeing these at Target?

thrift store pasta maker

We found a pasta maker! Can’t wait to try this out.

Thrifted Davis and Waddel pepper mill

Look at this fabulous yellow pepper mill! It’s a Davis and Waddell and retails for around $30 I paid $1.91!

We also got a Weider Workout Bench for $8 (it’s too dark in the garage to photo graph it).

Here are a few money stretching ideas that we did:

fresh picked lettuce

– greens are going strong in the garden so we haven’t had to buy any lettuce or kale (although if it gets any hotter my lettuce will bolt)

Sherwin Williams cedar deck stain

– after getting an estimate of $1300 to pressure wash and stain our deck (not including the screened porch floors), we bit the bullet and did it ourselves. Maintenance people…if we hadn’t let the deck go for as long as we did it would have been a much easier job!

– we started unplugging our washer and dryer when not in use. Our outlets are behind our units so it’s easy for us to do. The first bill that we got after implementing this was for a few weeks was 775 kWh used down from 877 kWh used the previous month and we had already turned the ac on a few times.

Frugal fail – I had read that people were putting their deep freezers on timers and having them cycle on 12 hours off 12 hours. We tried 6 hours to begin with and experienced no problems in the first few days and then I noticed that some things we’re feeling a bit soft in our freezer. So we discontinued using a timer on our deep freezer. It might have been our timer (it was an old one) or  our freezer (it’s old too) or something else.  I know other people had great success reducing their electric bill with no issues by having their freezers cycle on and off. So you may want to test it for yourself.

Found anything great at the thrift store lately? Have any frugal tips you’d like to share?

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