Friday, July 25, 2014

Use It Up - A Repost

We are on a mission for the remainder of the summer until school begins to USE IT UP around here.  We still of a lot of partial bottles and tubes of this and that.  This is a post I wrote early on when I first started this blog.  I read it the other day to give me inspiration and thought I'd share it with you as well, in case anyone else needs a little inspiration.

At our house we try to make the most of what we have.  One the best ways to stretch your budget is to use what you have and to use it all.  You will be amazed at how much is still left in a bottle or tube long after you were ready to toss it.

Bottles of soap, shower gel and shampoo – store it upside down to get it all; use a little water to rinse out the last remnants.

Toothpaste – start at the end and use a rolling pin or something similar to squeeze all the paste toward the top.  Some people even cut the tube open with scissors to make sure they don’t miss anything.

Soap slivers – dampen the sliver and the new bar of soap with water to “laminate” them together.  They will fuse together next time you shower.

Facial cleanser in a pump dispenser – use a little water and shake it well to loosen what is coated along the inside of the bottle and you will have up to two more weeks of cleanser.  If your cleanser is super thick, like mine is, you can do this a couple of times.  I get a whole extra month of use this way.

Chapstick and lip balm – once you hit the edge of the tube scoop out the rest with your fingertip or a flat toothpick.

Dish soap – when you get down to the last of it thoroughly rinse out the bottle and the residue that has accumulated on the cap and you’ll have enough for one more sink of dishes.  You can do the same thing with laundry detergent and fabric softener.

Liquid hand soap refill – I find I can dilute hand soap up to 50/50 with water and it lathers up and cleans our hands just fine.

We have a rule with cereal and crackers that you can’t open a new one until the open one is all gone.  This way we don’t end up with a bunch of open boxes that go stale before they get used up.

Mayonnaise or peanut butter – get out the rubber spatula and you can usually scrape enough off the sides to make another sandwich or two.

Mustard, ketchup and salad dressing bottles – store upside down in the refrigerator to squeeze out every last drop.

Milk just turned – make pancakes, biscuits or bake a cake.  A lot of old cookbooks call for sour milk in recipes because in the good old days you didn’t waste it.  It imparts the about same flavor as buttermilk I imagine.

Flat beer (that hardly happens) – make fish and chips or beer bread.

Leftovers – usually leftovers become a second meal and/or lunches at our house, but not always.  If it looks like you aren’t going to get a chance to use something up (or just can’t stomach the idea of eating that one more time) consider freezing your leftovers for a future meal.  I like to freeze smaller amounts in individual containers for a quick grab and go lunch when I am rushed in the morning.

Gift wrap – before you head out to buy more check what you already have and pledge not to purchase anything else until you use up what you’ve got.  Get creative with ways to make it work.  You may find this year you don’t need anything new at all.

It is not uncommon in this house to see a few upside down bottles here and there.  Not using things up makes me think of literally throwing handfuls of change into the trash.  Something I’m just not willing to do.

If you haven’t already done so take a look around your house, in your cupboards and pantry, inside the refrigerator.  Find all the items that have just a little left in them and decide to use it up.

I did this a few months back and we have been on a mission to use up a lot of forgotten items we found in our bathroom.  In the process you will save some money and as and an added bonus clear a lot of clutter. 

A lot of this is just common sense ideas we’ve probably all heard before.  Sometimes a refresher isn’t a bad idea.  If you have any great tips or ideas, please share.  We can always use a good tip for saving money.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Showering - Tiny House Style

Not too long ago I was having dinner with a friend when he offhandedly asked me if I showered at my landlady's house.  It struck me odd that he would even think I would, let alone that I might need to.  The guy had spent the whole day umpiring little league and obviously he must have spent too much time in the sun so I didn’t give him too much of a hard time.

I could have told him that I stand outside and use a garden hose, but instead I just laughed at him and said "No, I use my own shower."

Then it occurred to me that a lot of people might wonder how on earth someone can shower with only six gallons of hot water available at a time so I figured I'd tell you how we do it.  You see three of us need to shower or bathe and it does take a little bit of coordinating to get it all done sometimes.

One thing that is nice is that a six gallon hot water tank recovers pretty fast.  And our shower head is designed to restrict the water flow enough to conserve water but still shoot it out so you feel like you are in a regular shower.  It's pretty nice.

Depending on what is going on we typically rotate between night time and morning showers.  So all three of us needing to shower at the same time rarely happens.  I have it pretty much down to a science and can get shampooed, soaped, shaved and rinsed in less than ten minutes with hot water to spare.  Using a combination shampoo with conditioner in it saves time as well as having everything I need ready to use in the shower caddy.  My youngest isn't as organized and finds that rinsing off, then turning off the water while shampooing and soaping, then turning the water back on to rinse works best.  Most people I know with RVs tend to do it that way.

For baths it is much easier.  I fill the tub and boil a kettle full of water to add to my bath water.  Once the hot water runs out of the tank I can add the kettle to the tub with more cold water to get the level up to where I like it.  Sometimes a girl just needs a good soak in the tub. 

Definitely personal hygiene has not been an obstacle at all for us in the tiny house.  All three of us trying to walk through the RV at the same time however, is a whole different issue.  We still try do see if we can do it too.  Some people just never learn.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Christmas All Year Long - Ornaments

Most of my friends and relatives have kitties so my Kitty Kat Christmas Ornaments are perfect to add to the gifts I am planning to give them.  I also make dogs for my puppy minded loved ones as well.

I have some extra ornaments left from my Etsy store as well as plenty of supplies to make more.  This month I plan to make a few more and some puppy dogs too for the dog lovers on our gift list.

I like to try to make them resemble their beloved pets as much as possible and I have also made them to commemorate the ones we've lost and won't forget.  My aunt has a Shi Tzhu so I need to make an ornament for her as well.

I have a kitty on my tree that looks like each one of ours, that is, when we set up our big tree.  Last year, as you may recall, our tree was tiny.  Too small for these ornaments I'm afraid. 

Do you make ornaments?  What kind do you make?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Wanted - Guest Posters

If you happen to have some great ideas to share I would love to hear them.  I am currently looking for some fresh ideas from people who would love to guest post on my blog.  If you are one of those people please shoot me an email and tell me what you would like to write about.

Right now work, my new novel and getting the girls ready to head back to school are taking up a lot of my time, not to mention, I would still like to have somewhat of a social life.  If you'd like to help me out and give me a bit of a reprieve I seriously want to hear from you. J

Have a great idea, life strategy, craft project, or  recipe?  Are you an avid gardener, recycler, organizer, seamstress, party planner or traveler?  Do you raise chickens, cows, puppies, flowers, children? Let me know!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

I did not do much grocery shopping this week.  I picked up some fresh produce for salads and a package of hot Italian sausage that was marked down.

I did some "un-shopping" by returning a few items I decided I really didn't need or had found less expensive options somewhere else.  I was able to put almost $150 back into my checking account.

I went to the dollar store and spent $10 on toiletries we needed.  I bought two bottles of deodorant, two bars of bath soap, a bag of cotton balls, nail polish remover, a bottle of clear nail polish, a toothbrush, large tube of toothpaste and a 50ct. package of dental flossers.  Really exciting stuff!

The girls and I went out to dinner Friday night and used up two of the free meal vouchers they earned through the library's summer reading program.  We all had the salad bar at Sizzler.  Because we all drank water and the girl's meals were covered I only had to pay for my meal.  Our total was $10 plus we tipped out server.

My oldest used some of her allowance money to purchase notebook paper she found on sale at Walgreens.  She said it was her contribution to her back to school supplies this year.

While I was at work one day this week the girls took an inventory of all the school supplies we have and determined they really won't need much to get started with this year. That was a happy surprise.  My oldest will need a new back pack and a few clothing items for school.  I am hoping to find most of their clothing at thrift stores this year.

I watched a couple shows on Amazon this week and I listened to music on YouTube this week.

Saturday night I introduced my girls to a live KISS concert I streamed online for free.  It was a lot of fun to watch.  They still put on a really great show. 

How was your thrifty week last week?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Investment Cooking - Pizza Dough

The other day my daughter and I got busy with the bread machine and made up three batches of pizza dough to put away in our freezer.  My recipe is super simple and doesn't really take very long to make but it is still nice to be able to pull one of these balls of dough out in the morning, stick it in the refrigerator and by the time I am ready to make dinner it is thawed and ready to go.  On a busy week night it is a nice time saver.

My pizza dough recipe:

Pizza Dough

2 cups flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/2 tsp. yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. oil
1 cup hot water

Place ingredients in bread machine pan and start on dough cycle.  Add additional water or flour if needed until dough comes together in a nice smooth ball.  Turn off machine and allow dough to rest 10 minutes.  

You can use all white flour if you prefer.

We took each batch and divided it in half forming two equal sized balls of dough.  The balls of dough were put into sandwich bags and into the freezer before they could begin to rise.  When we were done I put all six bags into a one gallon zipper bag.  I find this helps prevent freezer burn.

If you don’t have a bread machine you could certainly do this with your mixer and dough hooks or by hand even.  It is not difficult at all. 

Do you make homemade pizza dough?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Inspired To Write Once Again

I'm a very visual person and when I write I like to see my characters in my head.  It helps me to better create my story if I know what everyone looks like.  In my last novel I patterned my main character after a really good friend of mine so it was no problem.  I even borrowed some of his personality quirks and character traits.  This time, however, I completely made up my main character from scratch.  I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted him to look like, details about his appearance, what type of personality he would have and so forth, but I couldn't seem to get that visual I needed securely planted in my head.

Now that the dust has settled around here and the cleanup is over I have been struggling to get back to writing.  As you may recall we had a little electrical fire incident at our tiny home and a resulting power surge that obliterated all of my open documents on my laptop.  Fortunately my laptop was spared any damage and of course, we are safe and sound as well.  While I have so much to be grateful for, and I truly am, I had lost three important documents - my blog postings, my financial tracking information in an Excel workbook I use and all my work on my latest novel.

I was very fortunate to be able to recover the blog document and the financial workbook both in their entirety thanks to a backup that had been performed.  However, although my novel had been backed up the same as the other two documents it was badly corrupted and I was not able to retrieve my work.  I was however, able to retrieve an earlier version from a week prior so it was not a complete loss thank goodness!

I had specifically scheduled myself blocks of time that week for some serious writing and as a result I had done quite a bit of work.  Just minutes before the fire broke out I had completed the first half of my novel and had done my first set of re-writes.  It was a huge accomplishment and I was thrilled about the progress I had made.  Now I have to go back and recreate all of the work that was done that week.

Fortunately I had read my work to my constructive critics and they are completely on board to help me get it all put back together so I don't forget anything of great importance.  It seems a bit daunting and I'm having a difficult time getting started.

On Friday night I hopped on Google and started searching for a picture of someone I could get that visual of and this is what I found.  It couldn't be more perfect, it is exactly what I had imagined and now I feel inspired to get back to writing.  I don't know who this guy is or if he is even real but if so he is welcome to stop by my house and introduce himself. J

I emailed a copy of the picture to my literary assistant that night and she told me to hurry up and get that book done.  To quote her "Wow.  He's gorgeous!" 

I think I'm now properly inspired.