Showing posts with label Frugality. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Frugality. Show all posts

August 13, 2023

The Misto: Works for Me Wednesday

As you must know by now, this blog has an inclination towards green living. So for my first "Works for Me Wednesday" (who I just found out is on vacation this week, shucks! but I'll post this anyway) I wanted to share my thoughts on an item that makes all the home cooking I do much easier and healthier. It's probably something you've seen before, or maybe even have...enter The Misto.
This little aluminum beauty saves you from buying cans and cans of unrecyclable cooking sprays like PAM. You just pour whatever kind of oil you like to use, in my case, olive oil or canola, pump the top a few times, then spray just like you would with Pam. When it gets a little clogged, just fill with warm water and a drop of dish detergent and spray it out. Easy as pie, or at least as the spray you use on the pie plate!

You can get one on Amazon or at Bed, Bath and Beyond, where I bought mine.

August 11, 2023

10 Tips for an Eco-Friendly Refrigerator

If you're like me, you don't think too much about your refrigerator. Believe it or not, I don't spend evenings thinking about how well it works and how shiny the stainless steel front is. But lately as I try to maximize our energy savings and minimize our consumption of natural resources, I've been looking for ways to make my fridge work in a more eco-friendly way.

10 Tips for a Greener Refrigerator:
1. Keep your freezer and fridge on the lowest setting possible. I've always done this but sometimes I forget to reset it when we have a power outage or surge and it resets itself back to the "normal" (read:high) manufacturer's setting.

2. Don't overfill your fridge. Air needs room to circulate in order to cool food properly. Keep it full but not packed like sardines in a can.

3. Don't stand with the fridge door open, deciding on what to eat. (Duh!)

4. To prevent #3, organize your fridge. Put snack items in a long bin that you can just pull out of the fridge entirely when you want to rummage for a snack. Same goes for sandwich making stuff. It's easier to keep all of those in one bin that you can grab easily.
bin made from recycled plastic

5. Keep drinks at the front and center so they're easy to grab.

6. Dust off your coils periodically.

7. Be sure your door seals properly. If you can slide a sheet of paper in between, you'll need to replace the seal.

8. Wipe off any major condensation on containers, such as a cold pitcher that was left out for a little while on a hot day. The defrost mechanism of the fridge needs to work harder to remove that excess water.

9. If you're in the market for a new refrigerator, buy an Energy Star model. And of those models, the most efficient are the ones with freezers on top (cool air falls). Least efficient are side-by-side double door models. UPDATE: Here's a great point from Rebecca of Green Baby Guide from the post comments--"Be careful about energy star refrigerators. A smaller refrigerator without the energy star label almost always uses less energy than a huge one WITH the label. An appliance can get the energy star label by being the most efficient model for its size." Thanks Rebecca! I didn't consider that! Also, she tells me that Consumer Reports says that bottom freezer models may be the most efficient after all. I'm going to do some more research on that.

10. To clean messes inside the fridge, use an eco-friendly and food safe solution of 1 part white vinegar to 2 parts water in a spray bottle.

August 7, 2023

Thrifty Green Thursday

The gals at Green Baby Guide have a post on laundry for Thrifty Green Thursday and to express my dorkiness, I wanted to confide in you that I just love laundry. I love using natural, thrifty products (see post a few days back on homemade laundry soap), hanging clothes out on the clothesline, and smelling freshly laundered fabric. There is also something wonderful about seeing a stack of neatly folded cloth diapers that were dried in the sun sitting next to the changing table. It takes so little to please me!

For my contribution to Thrifty Green Thursday, I wanted to share a green tip that doesn't involve laundry but involves water conservation.

I keep a bucket in our shower to catch the water that is wasted while the water is heating up (sorry, but I just can't stand in a cold shower).
I then dump this water into my watering can and use it with the plants on the porch. It's also good for the water in the can to sit for a while so the chlorine evaporates out of it...much better for your plants. I'd love to eventually install a gray water system, maybe when we renovate our crumbling bathroom.

For more green living tips, visit Green Baby Guide.

August 5, 2023

While I'm on the Topic of Fels-Naptha Soap

I also saw in the Homesteading Column of Mother Earth News (love that magazine and have for years!) that you can also use Fels-Naptha soap as an insecticide. I haven't tried this but here's the link with the recipe.

And if you go to the Mother Earth News site, you can get a yearly subscription for only $10!

DIY Laundry Detergent. It Really Works!

When I'm not using Seventh Generation liquid detergent for SoJo's laundry, I use some of my homemade stuff that I created from a recipe that I found in the newspaper in the Everyday Cheapskate column by Mary Hunt. I enjoy reading the column and just found out you can get it delivered to your email inbox for free. Just click here to sign up. She covers all kinds of things from food to finances to health and beauty and the tips are just a sentence or two long so she won't waste all of your precious time with lots of words.

I've saved some money using the laundry detergent recipe she published. I use the powdered in a front loader and it works well, and I can get all of these things in my local grocery store The Fels-Naptha soap is great for pre-treating dirty cloth diapers too. Here's the recipe:

1 cup grated Fels-Naptha soap; 1/2 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (not baking soda, please!); 1/2 cup 20 Mule Team Borax.
(You can also add a few drops of essential oil...lavender is a good choice!---Kathleen)

Mix, and store in airtight container or bag. For light loads, use 2 tablespoons. For heavy loads, use 3 tablespoons.

Big batch: To make a large batch, grate 6 bars of Fels-Naptha soap, and then add 3 cups of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda and 3 cups of 20 Mule Team Borax. Mix well, and store in covered container.

TIP: Homemade detergent will
not make suds in your washer, so don't be alarmed. Fels-Naptha soap is pure and typically makes little or no suds in the water. This makes it perfect for use in the new high-efficiency washers, as well as traditional washers. You also will notice the need to reduce your laundry softener; in most cases, you even can eliminate the use of softener completely. You also can use white vinegar in the last rinse (one cup is plenty) to remove all traces of detergent.

3 pints water; 1/3 bar Fels-Naptha soap, grated; 1/2 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (not baking soda, please!); 1/2 cup 20 Mule Team Borax; 2-gallon bucket for mixing; 1 quart hot water. (You can also add a few drops of essential oil...lavender is a good choice!---Kathleen)

Mix Fels-Naptha soap in a saucepan with 3 pints hot water, and heat on low until dissolved. Stir in Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda and 20 Mule Team Borax. Stir until thickened, and remove from heat. Add 1 quart hot water to 2-gallon bucket. Add soap mixture, and mix well. Fill bucket with additional hot water as needed (you should have about 1.5 gallons of the mixture), and mix well. Set aside for 24 hours or until mixture thickens. Use 1/2 cup of mixture per load.

July 31, 2023

Check out Your Local Library/ Kool Aid Dye

Yesterday was only my second time away from Soren for more than an hour and surprisingly, I don't pine for him like I thought I would (it was only 3 hours). As you may know, I am a certified art teacher and fiber artist, and before I had SoJo, I taught art classes in a variety of places, including a local art museum (my primary job). One place I occasionally teach art workshops (on a volunteer basis) is at our town library. Two evenings ago on NPR, there was a brief piece on libraries and how people are flocking to them again, mostly due to the economy being in the toilet. I've been frequenting my local libraries for years, but I can see why people are returning because libraries are a great source of free stuff like books (obviously), DVDs, and internet access.

The children's programming at local libraries is usually great too, and most often, FREE! Our branch has baby lap-sits, which are stories and songs for babies and kids, and I am going to start taking SoJo next week so I can meet some other townie moms.

The program that I taught yesterday was related to their summer theme: Bugs. I led a workshop on dyeing silk scarves and we talked a little about silk worms. Here's an interesting fact: Silk moths can no longer fly because they've been bred to make silk for so long that they've lost the ability. Anyway, we got about 35 kids at the program, which was a lot more than I usually have, so I can see that parents are looking to find free alternatives to summer entertainment.

So why am I posting this? No reason really, except to encourage you to visit your library. I know most of you probably already do, so consider supporting it as well by volunteering or donating used books for book sales.
Also, here's some info on dyeing yarn or small pieces of fabric with unsweetened Kool Aid. It's not what I did with the library kids, since we used commercial dyes, which are more reliable, but Kool Aid dyeing is cheap and fun to do with your own little ones! It's also nice for dyeing plain white onesies, which are usually made of 100% cotton.

Kool Aid Dye Recipe
One package of unsweetened Kool-Aid
3/4 cup of water
1/4 cup of vinegar
yarn/fabric that is made from a natural fiber like wool or cotton

Soak the yarn/fabric in hot water for a half an hour
Mix the Kool-Aid solution
Squeeze excess water from yarn/fabric
Place yarn/fabric on long sheet of plastic wrap
Pour dye over the yarn/fabric and carefully wrap it up in the plastic
Place bundle in a microwave container
Cook on high for 3 minutes, checking it once (you can move it around so the dye is evenly distributed
Take it out of the microwave. CAREFUL...IT WILL BE VERY HOT!!
Rinse with a little dish soap once the item is cool enough to touch. When the water runs clear, you can allow it to air dry.

July 12, 2023

I Miss Bravo TV...And Introducing the Smoker's Bib

Before I became pregnant with lil' Darlin,' my husband and I had decided that if we were to have kids, one of us would stay home full time with them. Well since it would have been nearly impossible to live on my measly salary as a Museum Educator/art center teacher/Buddhist high school art teacher/occasional writer for an art teacher magazine AND a writer for the Craft in America PBS series teachers' guides, we decided I'd be the one to stay home and raise our child. I actually think I needed to stay home just to get a break from keeping all those part time jobs under control...never knew if I was coming or going. And because he's an IT guy, he definitely has more job security.

It's really worked out great, as I love being home and taking care of the baby and house (on most days) and since my husband works up the street at the local university, he comes home for lunch and can take a few hours here or there if I have an appointment I don't want to take lil' Darlin' to. However, we've had to make some cutbacks to our spending to make up for the cut in our income. It's mostly been pretty easy, like not going out to eat, not buying new clothes, consolodating our car trips to save on gas, and cutting back on entertainment.

Since we aren't big movie buffs, I didn't miss the entertainment factor until now: this week we had to switch to basic cable. Our town's provider just raised the rates another $20 a month which is over $200 a year, so we had no choice but to scale back. I miss Bravo the most, as I love Project Runway and Kathy Griffin's shows. However, with the internet, you can find a lot of free shows online, and if you don't mind viewing them on a computer screen, you can save a little money on your cable bill if you'd like to downsize to basic cable. I should say that I haven't been watching much TV lately, because I don't want Soren to get used to it being on. I'd like for him to avoid TV until he's 3 or so, as I don't think much good can come out of infants watching it (sorry Teletubbies!).

So last night, husband and I were watching some of the Tonight Show clips. Our favorites have always been Headlines and some of the funny product segments. There was an absolutely hysterical product that had us rolling. It's called The Smoker's Bib, and it's meant to prevent people from getting burn holes in their clothes. We were tempted to get some for our neighbors who our house adjoins to. Days when it's really windy, our house reeks...I just hope they don't ever cause a fire with a lit cigarette in bed or something. I never see the man outside without a lit cig.

I suppose you could use this for haircuts too.

July 8, 2023

Did You Say Cardboard?

Check out these cool items made with cardboard. Quite eco-friendly. Click on the Boldfaced words to link to their source. Some of them are for sale.

Cardboard Speakers

Chair, stool and rocker from Foldschool
(free patterns on their site)

Cardboard Bicycle (it actually works and cost only $30)

Corrugated Cardboard Lights

Cardboard house (blueprints found HERE)

Cardboard Rocket Playhouse from Natural Pod (an awesome natural store for kids)

Too bad we just bundled the cardboard for recycling this evening...

June 27, 2023

Cloth Diapering

As if motherhood wasn't tiring enough, I've started using the cloth diapers I bought when I was pregnant (and a little more naive). For the first few months, they were too big for SoJo, so I held off. And the disposables, as much as I try to be eco-friendly, were easier, especially when dealing with a hyper-sensitive and cranky baby pretty much all day long. Actually, cloth diapering hasn't been that far the only issues I have with these are that you need to change your little pip more often (sometimes twice an hour) and that they seem a lot bulkier in the crotch, which makes me think SoJo will end up looking like a bow-legged cowboy. I am not like some people who are disgusted by the thought of messing with baby poop, so the cleaning part is not so bad. Plus he usually only has one poop a day now so it's mostly wet diapers I have to deal with. I am using Chinese prefolds and diaper covers, which are the most traditional and the cheapest, which is why I bought these. I didn't want to spend too much as I wasn't sure how I'd feel about using cloth diapers. I'd really like to try some of the all-in-one diapers or the ones with inserts, but we just don't have the money to spend on them right now, especially since the pre-folds are working fine. What gave me the confidence to use these is my mother-in-law who used them in the 70s and 80s with all three of her kids. For her it was a matter of economy, as my father-in-law was a trucker and she stayed at home. She showed me how to use them and how to clean them, and I figured if she could do it, I could too. At least I have the Snappi, an alternative to diaper pins, which I just couldn't get the hang of even after she showed me how to use them. My fingers just aren't so strong, and since I have a wiggle-worm instead of a baby, I'd be afraid I'd poke him.

These photos show him with the prefold and the Snappi and also with the Bummis diaper cover on top of the prefold. The cover works pretty well, but if there's a few pees in the diaper, like after a nap, it gets damp and I need to change it. Also I need to carefully attach the velcro tabs so that the edges of the hook side doesn't scratch his legs. But otherwise, the prints are cute and they were reasonably priced at Soft Cloth Bunz, where I bought all the diapering supplies. If you sign up for their emails, you get a coupon, I think it was for 10% off or something. And if I remember correctly, there was free shipping on items over $150, which is at least what you'll spend if you switch over to cloth. If anyone wants to know more details, please email me at I'd be happy to chat with you about my experiences!

June 26, 2023

Baking Bread

There's nothing like a looming stretch of 90 degree heat to make an idiot want to make bread. Of course I'm kidding, poking fun at myself for deciding to do just that. Seriously though, I recently found a really good online deal on a Sunbeam bread machine at Circuit City and decided I've waited long enough for one. It was only $38 with free shipping, which to me was a bargain. With the cost of bread and flour continually rising, I decided I'd rather make my own bread which is cheaper in the long run, healthier, and much much tastier than sandwich loaves. So far I've made 3 loaves, 2 of which were Honey Flax and were delicious, and this one, a sunflower/oat, which I have yet to taste. It's so easy to make, just drop in the wet ingredients, add the dry, and turn on the machine to whatever setting you need. I figure that I probably need to make about 20 loaves for it to be worth the price I paid, and assuming the machine doesn't break, I will definitely get my money's worth. I fantasize about baking up loaves with the dozens of soups I make all Fall and Winter. Yummy!
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