Thursday, August 30, 2012

PlaySpent.org


You have to check this website out: http://playspent.org/

There are over 14 million Americans unemployed. Imagine you are one of them. You're savings are gone. You've lost your house. You're a single parent down to your last 1,000. Can you make it through the month?

My daughter's teacher gave her class this website yesterday and her and her friends had fun with it at school, and we had fun playing with it last night. Give it a try and see if you can make it to the end of the month and then come back and let us know how you did.
 
Belinda
© Belinda Richardson and Frugal Workshop, 2012.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Mother Earth News



Mother Earth News is one of my favorite magazines to read. The articles that I've read in this magazine fall right in line with living a frugal life and getting by on less money and with less stuff. I have issues of Mother Earth News stored on by bookshelf right next to my issues of The Tightwad Gazette and other personal finance books and cookbooks. I refer back to them often as they are another useful tool in living the frugal life. 

In addition to the magazine, Mother Earth News also prints a Wiser Living Series that includes such titles as Growing Your Own Food, Living on Less and Loving It, Guide to Self Reliance and Country Skills, guide to Backyard Chickens, and a Guide to Organic Gardening.

Today I wanted to share with you the article of contents from the Living on Less and Loving It guide, so that you can look over the contents and see if you think this is a guide that would be beneficial to you in your life.

Guide to Living on Less and Loving It

Green Gazette – Choosing a new bike; Tips to use less gas; and more

Live on Less and Love It! Try these 75 inspiring ideas and enjoy life more while spending and consuming less. 

Cut Your Food Bills in Half – It’s true! You can enjoy better and healthier foods, while spending much less to feed your family. 

Instant No-dig Garden Beds – Create or expand your food garden with these simple, time-saving techniques. 

Build a Simple Solar Heater – This low cost plan lets you turn any south wall into a source of free solar heat. 

8 Easy Projects for Instant Energy Savings – With these inexpensive ideas you can reduce your carbon footprint and slash your energy bills. Spending $400 once to save $900 per year. 

Easy Ways to Preserve Fresh Food – A guide to simple seasonal storage – canning, freezing, dehydrating and more. 

A Handmade, Debt Free Home – Blend vision, patience and perseverance and you can build your dream home. 

Grow Free Fruit Trees – Grow your own delicious peaches, apricots and nectarines from seed and save!

Backyard Beef – You don't need a ranch to raise your own, healthy, pastured beef. A nice patch of grass and some fencing will do the trick just fine. 

Go Solar for Free Hot Water – Solar water heaters are an easy entry into renewable energy, and will save you big bucks over time. 

Brew Your Own Beer – Home brewing is a lot of fun, and it’s a great way to enjoy flavorful, affordable drinks. 

How Do Your Eggs Stack Up – Whether you live in the city or country, here’s how to find healthy affordable, farm-fresh eggs – and even raise a few happy chickens of your own. 

Easy Garden Anyone Can Make – Here’s how to start an instant no-till garden.
Buyer’s Guide to Solar Air Heat – Tap free heat from the sun with these nifty solar hot-air collectors.

Save Money with a New, Energy-Efficient Furnace – Advice to help you know when to replace your old furnace. 

Tips and Yurts – These lightweight shelters provide cozy and inexpensive portable living space.  
My favorite article in the Living on Less guide is the Cut Your Food Bills in Half article, but I also like the article about the Solar water heater as well. We live out in the country on more than 40 acres of land and many of the ideas found in this guide are doable for us and this is a good resource to learn about many of those ideas. 

Do you read Mother Earth News or have you been to their website? The website is also filled with valuable information. Give it a try and see what you think. 

Thanks for stopping by and reading!

Belinda
© Belinda Richardson and Frugal Workshop, 2012 and Beyond.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Weekend

 
We’ve been very busy this weekend cleaning house at the Frugal Workshop.  Maybe it has something to do with the fact that after 2 & 1/2 weeks of school, we are fully back into the school routine.  Here is a list of chores we’ve accomplished this weekend: 

Laundry – Washed, folded, and put away eight loads of laundry including towels.

Garbage – Gathered up and hauled off this week’s garbage. This is a weekly chore and saves us approximately $20 per month by doing this ourselves.

Refrigerator – Cleaned out the fridge, washed all the dirty dishes and wiped it down inside & out.

Decluttered – My daughter put a lot of stuff she no longer wanted in our dining room this summer. We finally went through everything and cleaned it out. I also hung one picture and two sconces that she no longer wanted in another room. We loaded the items into our van and are waiting until we make a trip to town to donate the lot to Goodwill.

Cleaning – We cleaned out the bathroom and threw out several items that were no longer used and were years past the expiration date. Washed the rugs, dusted, vacuumed, and mopped the floors.

Sewing/Mending – I finally made the time to do some sewing and mended four articles of clothing and one of our quilts that was accidentally torn this summer.

Bedrooms – We stripped all the beds of their linens, washed them, flipped the mattresses and put everything back together again. 

Blog Work - I've been working on the blog this weekend. In order to find recipes more easily,  I created a recipe page. You can find a tab for it along the top of the blog next to the Home tab.

And all of this was accompanied by our daily chores as well. Chores like cooking and cleaning up the kitchen, general pickup, feeding our cats and chickens, and giving them all fresh water, etc. As much as we enjoy the summer break, the school year is good as well because of the routine and order it adds to our lives. 

How have you spent your weekend?

Belinda
© Belinda Richardson and Frugal Workshop, 2012.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

Saturday, August 25, 2012

What's for Dinner? Pedernale's Potatoes

Pedernale's Potatoes

Ingredients:


4 cups potatoes, diced
1 lb. lean, tender beef, ground
¾ cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons beef bullion granules
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Olive oil, butter
Salt, Fresh ground black pepper

Directions:

The potatoes should be of a variety that does not go mushy when cooked.
Dice the potatoes into 3/8-inch cubes.
Cook in lightly salted water until just tender.
Drain and rinse.
The meat should be a tender cut such as sirloin or top round, ground fine with no fat.
Sauté in olive oil the onion, garlic, beef bullion granules and meat in heavy skillet until meat is done.
Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
Add the Worcestershire sauce and mix well.
Place the potatoes in a suitably sized baking dish, and dot them with butter.
Top with meat mixture.
Cover with the shredded cheese.
Bake at 375 degrees until bubbly and the cheese has melted. 


This is one of the dinners I made this past week. We had leftovers enough for one person to have lunch the following day.  I worked two days this past week, but did not go out to eat and instead cooked dinner at home every night. 

Our dinners this week:

Monday

Baked Potato Bar

Tuesday
Grilled Chicken
Mashed Potatoes
Green Beans
Corn

Wednesday
Pedernale's Potatoes
Green Beans with Onions in EVOO

Thursday
Chicken Tenders
Rice
Green Peas

Friday
Baked Potato Bar

We started and ended the week with Baked Potatoes. What can I say except we love them and they are an easy dinner for me. Today is going to be a very busy day. I have several loads of laundry to catch up on and cleaning. I hope you have a wonderful Saturday and would like to say thank you for reading my blog. :)
Belinda
© Belinda Richardson and Frugal Workshop, 2012-2015 and Beyond.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Bonus Buy Shampoo


Another way that I save money when I'm shopping is by looking for items marked with the BONUS sign. These shampoo bottles have a small yellow oval on the top of the bottle that states, BONUS 33% More, which means you will get 30 ounces of shampoo for the regular price of $1.46 instead of the regular size bottle which has 22.5 ounces. 


Now this is an increase in price from when I bought it a year ago and blogged about it here. The 22.5 ounce bottle cost $1.38 in July of 2011. The other day when I was shopping I took my usual route through the store and went by the shampoo aisle to see if there were any bonus bottles. To my surprise there were several bottles, and I picked up eight of them. 

The BONUS bottles give me more shampoo for the same amount of money, which is a great bargain. Let's do the math: 

8 bottles x 30 ounces = 240 ounces

8 bottles x 22.5 ounces  = 180 ounces

A difference of 60 ounces, which is like getting almost three bottles for free, which is a savings of over $4.00! 
 
This is just another example of how we save money at the Frugal Workshop. Next time you are in the store check and see if they have any BONUS bottles of shampoo.  :)

Belinda
© Belinda Richardson and Frugal Workshop, 2012.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

Monday, August 20, 2012

Baked Potato Bar


Dinner tonight is a Baked Potato Bar.  

The last bag of potatoes I bought came from Sam's Club in the 15 pound bag for $7.32. There were 14 potatoes in the bag, which made each one 52¢. 

I can pick up a large container of sour cream for $1.96 and a bag of broccoli for $1.00, and even add some turkey bacon for $1.00 if I wanted that. 

My idea of a perfect baked potato is sour cream and broccoli. 

Either way this makes a great, affordable meal. 

Amy Dacyczyn even served this meal in her frugal household.



Belinda
© Belinda Richardson and Frugal Workshop, 2012.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Help Feed Yourself Wartime Poster

 Image: http://digitalcollections.library.yale.edu/1774991.jpo?q=Help+Feed+Yourself&qqid=1135556

I don't know about you, but I love these old war time posters. I put this one into Google's Picasa and  zoomed it, so I could read the poster. I thought some of my readers would like to see what it says as well, so I've typed it up for you to enjoy. According to the Yale University Library, this poster was used from 1914 to 1946.
 
Help Feed Yourself

Make Back Yards and Vacant Lots Productive

Work a Garden – Raise Chickens

Grow Vegetables and Fruits

If your Soil is Fertile and Sunny

Don’t let your land loaf. Keep it working all seasons. Don’t assume that the season is too far advanced to begin garden operations. Some vegetables may be planted at practically any time until past the middle of summer. Start new crops between the rows of others that are soon to be removed. Begin over again in late summer and plant vegetables that mature best in cool weather, such as radishes, lettuce, spinach, kale. See that your garden toward fall is full of potatoes, beets, turnips, cabbage, and other staple foods that can be store for winter. Grow Lima and navy beans for harvest when ripe. 

Can or Preserve Surplus Perishables

Dry fruits and sweet corn and such other vegetables as may be preserved in this way. Can only the products that cannot be kept otherwise. Concentrate products so that each jar or can will hold as much food and as little water as possible. There is a shortage of containers. Don’t let one be wasted in your home. Empty spaces and similar materials from jars and fill them with food. Reserve regular tight-sealing containers for perishable vegetables, meat, and fish. Use wide-necked bottles with paraffin seals for putting up fruit and preserves: use glasses or crocks for jellies and jams. Use bottle and jugs for corked and seal with paraffin for fruit juices, catsups, and other liquid products. 

Keep a Flock of Hens

If Your Soil Is Not Suitable for Gardening


A small number of chickens can be kept in almost any back yard. They can be housed at small expense in piano boxes or other large packing crates. They can be fed to a large extent on table scraps and vegetable waste. Their eggs should make a substantial addition to the family food supply. Surplus ? from hatchings and old hens will take the place of a considerable quantity of purchased meat. Separate roosters from hens after the hatching season and produce infertile eggs. Such eggs are much more easily kept in good condition than fertile eggs preserve surplus fresh eggs in water glass or lime water. 
 
Somebody has to Raise or pack Everything you Eat

Do your Share!

Children Canned and saved these perishables for winter use

Make Every jar Help Feed Your Family

Can this year if you have never canned before. The conservation of food is a vital necessity under war conditions. No previous experience is necessary. Canning and preserving are simple procedures and may be carried out by children or adults with home utensils Put up more food than ever this year if you usually pack for winter use. Write today to the U.S. Department of Agriculture or your State agricultural college or ask your county agent for explicit directions for growing vegetables, for raising chickens, and for canning goods at home with the ordinary home utensils. 

Demonstrate Thrift In your home

Make Saving, Rather than pending, your social standard

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.

Cooperating with State Agricultural Colleges

Belinda
© Belinda Richardson and Frugal Workshop, 2012.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

Friday, August 17, 2012

Reusing Peanut Butter Jars

 
We enjoy peanut butter in our house, and as a result, we end up with a lot of empty peanut butter jars. There was a time when I would have thrown an empty peanut butter jar in the garbage, but now rather than throw them away and have them end up in a landfill, I save them and reuse them whenever I can. Since todays peanut butter jars are made of plastic they are lightweight and easy to use. Make sure that you wash them thoroughly and then you can use them for many things not only in your kitchen, but in other areas of the house as well.

Here are some ideas:

Popcorn Storage

Popcorn bought in a plastic bottle at the grocery store is generally more expensive than popcorn bought in a plastic bag like the one you see here. Instead of paying for the convenience of the plastic bottle you can store your popcorn in a recycled peanut butter jar. I keep my popcorn kernels in the freezer because they stay fresher longer that way and I don’t know about you, but I’ve had more than one bag of popcorn develop a hole in it somewhere and spill out wherever it was stored. The recycled peanut butter jar solves that problem!  They also fit much better on the freezer door than the bags do too.  

Leftover Storage

Peanut butter jars are great for leftover storage not only because they are clear, so you can see what's inside the jar, but also because you are using something that you basically obtained for free making them economical as well.  

Food Storage

My friend Barbara, over at Fun and Frugal living, uses recycled peanut butter jars to store cooked bacon in her freezer.

I love, love, love this idea from Nike at Choose to Thrive: Fill an empty jar with an inch or two of peanut butter and then fill with celery sticks. What a great idea for a summer road trip.

 Image: http://choosetothrive.blogspot.com/2011/07/summer-road-trip-1-car-snacks.html

Gift Giving

I always thought homemade granola would make a nice gift for someone. Anna over at Cookie Madness has the same idea here. A peanut butter jar would be the perfect container to use in this case. This is her granola in the photo, by the way. 

 Image: http://www.cookiemadness.net/2012/05/tropical-granola-for-gift-giving/

Grease Disposal

No one should pour grease from draining meat down the sink drain because it will solidify and could end up as a costly repair job. One way I get rid of cooking grease is to put it in a jar for disposal in the garbage can. When I make tacos, I put the meat in my strainer, which has been set over my large glass handled measuring cup. I let the grease cool a little bit first, and then it pours very easily into one of these jars, which I can then dispose of easily.

In Conclusion

These are some basic ideas for what you can do in the kitchen with peanut butter jars. There are many more ways to reuse these jars. You can Google "reuse peanut butter jars" and get some good ideas. I saw a really cute idea where someone drilled holes in the lid and put string through it to make it look like a button and then stored buttons in the jar. Whatever you decide to do with your jars, remember to "use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without". 

From the Frugal Workshop, I hope you have a great day! :)

Belinda
© Belinda Richardson and Frugal Workshop, 2012.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Pizza! Pizza!


Last week while I was shopping at Sam's Club, I picked up some of the ingredients to make homemade pizzas.  On Sunday, I whipped up a double batch of pizza dough. The pizza dough recipe I use will make two cookie sheet sized pizzas or twelve after school snack sized pizzas. After I finished the dough, I made the two pizzas you seen in the photo above and that is what we had for lunch on Sunday. There was enough pizza left over for lunch on Monday and Tuesday as well. On Sunday, I put the second half of the dough in the refrigerator and waited until I had a day off to work with it. 

Here is what I picked up at Sam's Club for pizzas last week:

5 pounds Mozzarella Cheese - $11.98
3 pounds Pepperoni - $7.98
Black Olives 6.25

I also opened one of the Industrial sized cans of pizza sauce I blogged about here. I froze the rest of the sauce that I did not use for later.  And even after making all this pizza, I still have plenty of cheese, pepperoni, sauce, and black olives to use in other recipes.

The recipe I use for pizza crust is one I found years ago from the Friendly Freezer Yahoo group and was created by the list owner, Robbyn Snyder. Her website is no longer online, but if you use the Internet Wayback machine you can find it here: Pizza Page for Robbyn

Garlic Pizza Crust
Recipe By : Robbyn Serving Size : 12
 
Ingredients:

2 cups tepid water (90*)
1/2 cup oil
3 cloves crushed garlic
5 1/2 to 6 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons yeast

Directions:
 
Dissolve yeast in water and add sugar.
Add oil and salt and garlic.
Mix in 3 cups flour and mix well. 
Add remaining flour and knead till smooth.
Allow to rise twice in the bowl. Punch down.
Oil baking sheets, use hands to press out to edges.
Add sauce and toppings.
Bake at 425* for 20 min.

*********************************************


As I mentioned earlier, this recipe will also make 12 after school sized snacks, which is what I worked on today since I was not subbing. I set the dough on my counter and cut it into 12 equal size pieces and then place them individually into an eight inch round baking pan to spread the dough out. I make four of them at a time since I have four pans and they will all fit in the oven at the same time. Here is what they look like before they go into the oven:


Of course, if you decide to make these you are going to add the toppings you like. I love pepperoni and black olives. I love good Italian sausage too when I can find it. Here is what they look like when they are cooling on my baking racks:



As I mentioned earlier, I made twelve of these today, and Mom and I had one for lunch. I also have another one in the refrigerator for my daughter for after school. After they cool, I place each individual pizza in its own one gallon size Ziploc bag and stack them in the freezer. 

Here they are stacked up on my counter:

And here they are stacked in the freezer, right on top of a Tony's frozen pizza. Oh, the irony, lol. ;)


This to me is the ultimate convenience food. To have homemade pizzas already cooked and ready to just warm up feels like a luxury to me. I wish I had the energy to have them in my freezer regularly, but they get eaten up pretty fast. Sort of like how homemade bread gets eaten faster than store bought bread. 

What is one of your homemade convenience foods?


Belinda
© Belinda Richardson and Frugal Workshop, 2012-2016.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Snack Foods & Popcorn



When I was growing up we used to sit in font of the TV in the evenings and many times my Mom would pop a bowl of popcorn for us to enjoy while we watched our favorite television program, which back in the 1970s would have been the Walton's or Little House on the Prairie. 

Back then all you needed to make popcorn was a pan with a lid, some oil and a stove top. Those were the days before microwave popcorn was invented.  Sometimes we even used to take a brown paper bag and turn the edges down and put the popcorn in there to snack from. I can also remember doing that when I was first married in 1989.

Nowadays, s
nack foods are one of those items that can make or break a budget. When I was at Sam’s Club last week I noticed that Frito Lay products were two bags for $5.98 for 15 & 1/2 ounces (31 oz.) of chips.

I purchase white popcorn kernels in the two pound bag from IGA for $1.89, which has 27 – ¼ cup servings at 7¢ each. Three tablespoons of vegetable or corn oil from a 48 ounce bottle costing $2.50 will cost me 9¢.

Now, when I make popcorn, I like to use ½ cup of kernels and let the popping corn push the lid off the pan while it is popping, which is free frugal entertainment for the kids. So, my ½ cup of popcorn costs me 14¢ each. 

Let’s do some figuring in this. Let’s say you have snacks in your home at least one or two nights a week. You may go through two bowls of popcorn or two bags of chips in a week. You may be thinking two bags of chips would last longer than one or two nights of snacking, but have you seen teenagers eat? LOL. :)

Now, let’s do the math.

14¢ x 2 =28¢ (popcorn) + 9¢ x 2 (oil) = 18¢ = 46¢

46¢ per week for 52 weeks equals $23.92


2 bags of chips=$5.98

$5.98 per week for 52 weeks equals $310.96

$23.92 verses $310.96

Difference $287.04

Serving two bowls of popcorn instead of two bags of chips twice a week will save you $287.04 per year. That is a savings of almost $300 a year just by switching from chips to popcorn as a snack food. And that is only one thing that we can change. Imagine if we applied this to several things in our lives or even everything? Remember Amy Dacyczyn always said it was the little things that add up. :)
 
Belinda
© Belinda Richardson and Frugal Workshop, 2012.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

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