Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Art Of Sensible Consumption

I like to think we are pretty sensible when it comes to our consumption of goods and services.  In doing so we keep our footprint small and our impact on the earth is much more minimal.  I spend less money and because of that I'm able to save more of it into my savings and retirement accounts.

I try to be conscientious of the things I do buy and do my best not to buy too much.  For instance, our home is small by most standards in the U.S.  We have 990 square feet (not including the attached garage), two bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs, a bedroom (converted from 2/3 of our garage) and half bath downstairs.  Our living and dining room are combined, we have a small galley kitchen with an entry way as well as a dedicated laundry room.

Our property is only 1/8th of an acre and we make the most of it.  The front yard strip of grass was nothing more than wasted space that consumed water to keep it green.  I removed the grass and filled in that area with gravel to extend our parking space and eliminate the need for watering.  The backyard runs the length of our house and behind it.  We keep chickens, a large compost bin, raised garden beds, fruit trees and space for entertaining.  We can mow our lawn with a push mower and it requires minimal water and upkeep.

We are careful with our food and do our best to eat leftovers and keep waste to a minimum.  Extra vegetables, breads and other kitchen scraps go to the chickens which enhances their diet and helps us out a lot.  In return they give us eggs and loads of entertainment.

Our compost bins are a great way for us to deal with additional waste and keep it out of the landfill.  We add food waste (no meat products), mulched leaves, yard debris and chicken waste.  Once it breaks down it is added to our raised beds and spread on our lawn and flowerbeds.  We use mulched leaves in our chicken coop too.

We burn sticks, branches from pruning our mature trees and junk mail in our firepot on our backyard deck.  This provides us with entertainment as well as a way to deal with all the extra wood from our trees.  It is also a great way to deal with items we would otherwise require a shredder for.  We compost the ashes too.

Rinsed and ready to recyle

When it comes to other consumables we try to use up everything.  We rinse out soap bottles, turn condiment bottles as well as lotion and shampoo upside down, use a spatula to scrape out mayonnaise and peanut butter jars, flatten and squeeze out toothpaste, face cream and ointment tubes to use up every drop.

Our trash is kept at a minimum.  We throw away an average of one plastic grocery bag of trash into the bin and set it on the curb for collection about once a month, instead of weekly.  We fill our blue recycle bin to the top and set it out twice a month for collection.  We donate, reuse and repurpose as much as possible.

To limit the amount of fuel I purchase for our vehicles I combine errands and minimize the amount of miles we travel as much as reasonably possible.  I live close to work, my children ride the school bus and use the city bus quite a bit.  We don't make a habit of running around just for the sake of doing so.

Our fireplace uses less energy than our baseboard heating

We keep our heat low and wear layers and warm socks on our feet in the winter.  In the summer we use two window A/C units upstairs to cool the entire house.  We also do our best not to waste water.

Boise, Idaho

I am constantly looking for ways to spend less, consume less, increase efficiency and streamline our processes.  The more I do this the more I realize how much we don't really need, which has led to a lot of decluttering and simplifying of our life.  This has led to less time spent cleaning and maintaining our home and more time spent enjoying our life.  That, in and of itself, makes it all worth it.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

Sunday I began my day with the usual.  I made a fresh pot of coffee, sat down with my laptop to check my emails and post on my blog, then started a load of and made up my bed with freshly laundered sheets.  Simple things that bring me joy.

I baked a loaf of wheat bread and a large pan of fudgy brownies from scratch.

I took the last of the pot roast and chopped it up and put it in my slow cooker with sliced mushrooms, pasta sauce, garlic and dried basil.  I let it cook on low all day before adding cream and cooking up some spaghetti.  I also made a spinach salad using up leftover black olives and leftover feta cheese.

Monday morning I woke up early and couldn't get back to sleep so I gave up and started my day.  Using my computer I printed out a sheet of return address labels for mailing bills and letters.  Each sheet has 80 labels on it so this should last me for a very long time.  I also worked on some sentiments for paper crafting and did a little writing before I left for work.

I put the leftover egg nog in the freezer to use later on down the road

Tuesday was another three hour robotics meeting so I picked up the young one from cheerleading practice (with her dinner packed) and I dropped off the older one and we held up at the library until it was time to pick her up.  As usual I took my laptop, found a quiet corner and did some much needed writing while my youngest ate her dinner, did her homework and read a book.  Work has been really hectic so it is nice to have this downtime and my youngest absolutely loooves the library.  We did the same thing again on Thursday when she had her next meeting.

In between errands and activities I've been going through my scraps
and making more things to share with all of you - stay tuned!

Friday evening after I dropped of the oldest at her high school for a basket ball game I headed off to the salon for my "annual" haircut.  I've decided this year to go back to a good simple cut, no more highlights and do my own maintenance with periodic ban trims at home.  I thought it would be a good way to test out something for when I hit the road in Laverne eventually.

I used my credit card rewards points for a $50 gift card

You all know I've been purging and cleaning and I wanted this year to add a few items to my work wardrobe to replace some of what I've let go.  I took a $50 gift card to Dillards and used that to purchase my annual pair of work pants and a really pretty Calvin Klein top I found on a clearance rack.  After the gift card I only paid $16 out of pocket for a good pair of slacks and a gorgeous designer top.  I left the store with a little spring in my step.

Saturday afternoon on the way home from picking up my oldest from her all day robotics workshop we stopped in at the dollar store so she could get a few things she needed.  I found three packages of pearl embellishments I'd been hoping to find.  I was so excited to see them in stock.  I will be using these on some upcoming projects I have planned.  I am having so much fun crafting lately.

Don't forget this week I am sharing my first Christmas Project A Month post.  I really hope you guys like it.  I had a ton of fun putting it together for you.  And there is a giveaway at the end of the post too!  So don't miss out on that one.

How was your thrifty week?

Friday, January 19, 2018

New Series! - A Christmas Project A Month

You guys, I am so excited about this, I can hardly stand it.  For quite sometime I have been sharing with you updates on my progress each month on where I'm at in preparing for Christmas.  In addition to doing that my plan is to also share a Christmas project with you! 

How fun will that be?!

I have a lot of neat things planned and I hope you will find them not only helpful, but inspiring as well.  So many other crafters out there have inspired me over the years.  Now it is time for me to return the favor.

You can look for these projects to post around the 25th of each month just like my monthly updates posted.  And yes, I'll be sharing my updates as always, just with a little something extra to go along with it.

Are you as excited about this as I am?  I sure hope so because Project #1 is going to go up next week!  Yaaaay!

Get ready to get crafting!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Handsoap Dispenser Gets A Facelift

I treated myself to a Christmas peppermint scented hand soap from Bath & Bodyworks (on sale for $3) this past Christmas and we just finished it up last weekend.  I really enjoyed that soap and it smelled really nice.  I also love the economy of making my own refill liquid for those dispensers.  So I decided to recycle this one and use it in our downstairs bathroom.

It was one of the easiest projects I've taken on so far this year, I kid you not.  And probably the thriftiest too.

You can use any kind of paper.  A picture from a magazine, wallpaper, even
one of those pages out of an adult coloring book would be nice.

I grabbed my Modge Podge, you can get a small bottle at Dollar Tree, you don't have to get a quart of the stuff like I did, and a small foam brush also bought in a pack at the dollar store.  I then went through my stack of scrapbooking paper scraps leftover from the journals I've been making.

Once I finally decided on one I trimmed it to size and then brushed on some of my Modge Podge onto the side of the bottle.  Then I placed the paper on the side and positioned it and then covered the top of the paper with another layer of Modge Podge.  Once I was done with that I set it aside to dry.  It was that simple.

I mixed up two tablespoons of my Bath & Bodyworks shower gel (a birthday gift from over a year ago) with a cup of warm water.  The girls wanted some color so I also added a single drop of red food coloring and mixed that in.  Then I filled up the bottle and we were all set.  The soap smells every bit as nice as one I'd buy at their store.

A quick and simple project to recycle something that would have ended up in the recycle bin.  And the refill solution is super thrifty too!  We love it!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Back To Meal Prepping

Many of you may be wondering if I went back to meal prepping after the girls started back to school.  That would be a Yes!  I sure did.  I didn't have a full week of activities, but I did have enough that meal planning helped out a ton.  It also freed me up so that I was able to do quite a few crafting projects during the week instead of having to wait until the weekend.  Yay!

Last Sunday morning I put black beans on to cook in my slow cooker and ended up putting three containers into the freezer for future use and one in the refrigerator for tacos.  The oldest and I put together a delicious pan of lasagna.  I also baked a loaf of frenchbread and we made a large salad.  We enjoyed that for our supper that night and then again on Tuesday.  We also had enough leftovers for our lunch twice.

Monday the girls browned up a pound of ground beef with taco seasoning and added a container of the black beans I had cooked on Sunday.  We chopped up some Romaine lettuce, tomato and warmed up flour tortillas.  There was enough taco filling left for our lunch the next day.

Tuesday I took a pot roast out to thaw and Wednesday morning I put it in the slow cooker to cook while we were at work.   I simply sprinkled both sides of the roast with a packet of Au Jus gravy mix.  When I got home the house smelled amazing.  I added carrots and potatoes and allowed everything to cook for an hour longer..  Then I made gravy with the drippings and we enjoyed a wonderful meal with plenty of leftovers for several more meals.

Thursday we had a full evening so I made a quick meal of onion and bell pepper omelets with toasted leftover frenchbread and fruit.

Friday I used some of the leftover pot roast, some Monterey Jack cheese leftover from making the lasagna, some of the leftover bell pepper and onion, and hoagie rolls I had in the freezer to make Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches.  All from leftovers and all very scrumptious!

Saturday it was just two us as my youngest was at a sleepover.  My oldest made up macaroni & cheese in the microwave from a recipe she found online for college students.  It was amazingly good.  We also finished up some leftover salad to round it all out.

Sunday I baked a devils food cake from scratch that kept us in dessert all week long.  I was surprised it lasted that long and stayed fresh, but it did.  It was a really good cake.  I'll have to make another one and share the recipe.

Our Sunday brunch, using up leftovers and making homemade syrup

Not overly labor intensive to put together a week's worth of delicious and healthy meals.  Plenty of variety too so we didn't really feel like we were eating as many leftovers as we ended up with.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Keeping Our Home Tidy 15 Minutes At A Time

You've heard me mention before in a post I did last fall that I do my housework on a schedule and I only spend about 15 minutes at a time doing so.  Sometime less, sometimes more, but for the most part I try to stick to just 15 minutes.  And it really work well too.

I make a habit of picking up after myself.  When I change clothes I hang up what needs to be hung up, put my shoes in the closet and put dirty items into the laundry basket right away.  I also make my bed the moment I get up every morning.  It only takes a minute and then it is done.

My girls aren't as good about it as I am so we have a rule that at the end of the day we go through the house and collect our things and get everything put away.  It is a good time to tidy up the living room, vacuum the floor if it is needed, wipe up any spills on the floor, dump the trash or whatever we find needs to be done.  We spend no more than 15 minutes doing this.

When we do dishes, we also wipe down the stove and counters as well as the dining room table.  We all help with cooking, setting and clearing the table as well as putting away the food after each meal.

I try to do something extra on each scheduled day for deeper cleaning.  For instance, when I cleaned the dining room last week I dusted the ceiling fan and the shelves, this week I focused on removing and cleaning the mini blind, next week I plan to wash the window and the floor.

Every day we swish the toilet bowl and wipe the sink and counter.  When I cleaned the bathroom on my schedule last week I mopped the floor and shook the rug.  This week I super scrubbed the sink and toilet with a scour pad and cleanser, next week I plan to wash the mirrors and tidy up under the sink.  The following week I plan to bop the cobwebs and wash the walls.

Not everything needs to be done every time.  You can rotate the deeper cleaning on a weekly basis and still manage to keep up on things just fine.  Admittedly it helps that all three of us work together and get things done.  I take care of the downstairs bathroom and the girls share the responsibility of the upstairs bath.  I vacuum and dust downstairs, they take care of the upstairs.  Every once in a while we switch off so I make sure things are done thoroughly.

It is truly amazing to me how much I can accomplish in just 15 minutes when I really focus.  This method saves me a ton of time which allows us to do other things, like have fun.  I still spring clean each room every six months and we declutter on a routine basis.  But for the most part 15 minutes a day on set chores it more than enough.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

In keeping with my goals for 2018, Sunday was a Pajama Day.  We stayed in our jammies and new fuzzy socks and kept it pretty low key.

To start off that morning I made french toast for brunch using a half loaf of homemade bread that was a little stale, leftover eggnog from Christmas as well as a couple eggs and some milk.  I made a batch of pancake syrup with sugar and brown sugar leftover from Christmas baking and a little Mapleine flavoring.  It was not only thrifty but it was absolutely delicious!

We gathered up our winter coats, hats and gloves, ran them through the wash, then hung them all up to dry.

Crafting with cake & coffee

For Sunday dinner I made a big pan of lasagna, a loaf of homemade frenchbread and a devils food cake with vanilla frosting all from scratch.  Yum!

Monday my oldest had robotics from 5:30 to 8:30 at the campus and my youngest needed to go to the library.  Rather than do a lot of running back and forth and to save on fuel I took my laptop and she took her homework and we stayed at the library and worked until it was time for robotics to end.  I watched a couple how to videos on Youtube too.

That is A LOT of craft supplies - too many!

Tuesday and Wednesday we didn't have any activities or errands which was very nice.  I came home and worked on craft projects each evening and was really happy to get a lot done and enjoy myself doing it.  I've got a jumpstart on Valentine's Day as well as Christmas and some birthdays.

Thursday my oldest had a band concert which made for a nice no cost family outing for us.  I just love their concerts.

Yes, I'm making another one!  Super excited about this one too!

Friday my oldest had a basketball game at school to play at (she is in pep band).  I dropped her off and then went to Walmart (by myself - yay!) as it is fairly close by so I could pick up a mini binder to use to make another journal.  I also took some time to check out their craft section and scrapbooking supplies.  I managed to make my little shopping trip last long enough until it was time to pick her up so I didn't have to run back and forth from the house to the high school saving on time and fuel.

Saturday I spent another morning paper crafting and then that afternoon I got busy and organized ALL of our craft supplies.  I found an empty shoe box size bin in the garage to reuse and put all of my scraps of paper in it to corral the growing pile.

The youngest had a sleepover with friends so the oldest decided to try a recipe she found online for microwave macaroni and cheese for college students for our supper.  It was actually pretty good and very thrifty.  I'll have to ask her to share it with us and I'll get it posted.

In the spirit of downsizing and decluttering I closed an account to one of my credit cards I haven't used in years.  One less thing to have to keep track of and worry about.

Much better!  Still too much stuff!

I also took two of our old computers into work and added them to the pile of old hardware we have set aside for recycling.  One was 20 years old and the other one was 15 years old (the young guys in my departments got a good laugh at them).  It feels really nice to no longer have those old computers sitting in our garage anymore.

Other than my trip to Walmart I didn't do any other shopping.

I made up a batch of foaming soap liquid to refill a soap dispenser by stirring two tablespoons of shower gel into a cup of warm water.

I added orange peels, coffee grounds, tea bags, egg shells and a banana peel to our compost bin.

How was your thrifty week?

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