Frugal Friday – A Winter Utility Bills Challenge

by Tiffany in Frugal Green

frugal fridayI am looking for ways to save money this winter on heating costs. Last winter our peak bill was close to $600. That about knocked our socks off. It of course reminded us that we should have looked through a year’s worth of utility bills prior to buying this house. I don’t know for sure if we would have passed on making the purchase but we probably would have. But now we own it, and we do love it, so it is time to stem the bleeding.

I am going to make a challenge of reducing the bill and get the family involved. Every dollar we save compared to the previous year’s bill will be divided five ways (five family members). Hopefully the kids will be more serious about turning off lights and unplugging gadgets before they leave the home for school each day. For my part I have a couple ideas…

We already installed a new thermostat last year because our other one was ancient. We may actually go ahead and get a smart thermostat that will adjust when no one is home and that we can control from our phones. I am thinking about getting Honeywell’s smart thermostat. It has great reviews and it is much cheaper than the Nest.

We were ready to redo the insulation in our attic just a few weeks ago and go from batting insulation to spray foam. But then my husband realized that the batting was not going to budge without HUGE amounts of work so we are now thinking about having more insulation blown in instead. And if we have money leftover from not doing the spray foam we might add insulation to our garage doors.

We bought some oil filled radiators to heat specific areas such as upstairs bedrooms rather than turning up the furnace. I also saved money on them by using the Benefit app to buy gift certificates and get an automatic rebate and then using Giving Assistant to make the purchase which resulted in another rebate. Double dipping! Anyway, we are impressed so far with their ability to heat a room pretty quickly and then sustain that heat even after they are turned off. It was some obscure frugality newsletter from 20ish years ago that mentioned them and inspired to me to try.

I plan to buy some nice down comforters and duvet covers for each family member. It is a side goal to make my bed as luxurious and comfortable as that of a posh hotel. Why not ooh and ahh when you get in bed every night instead of doing so only when you go on a nice vacation??

I will be adding more thermal curtains to some bare windows. We have four windows that are still bare or have minimal (ie too thin) curtains. I am not sure if this will help because the house has all new windows and doors and they are super nice and high quality so there are no drafts. The fact that the previous homeowner had recently spent many thousands of dollars on new windows and doors is a clue we should have picked up on, LOL. If the new curtains don’t help with warmth at least they will look nice.

Other frugal wins for the week:

  • We are doing a small kitchen remodel with a budget of $1500. More than half that went to buying new kitchen counters. We opted to buy our counters from Menards while they were offering an 11% rebate so we will be getting almost $90 of that money right back. You have to use the rebate money at Menards but that means I will be be able to get all new drawer pulls and cabinet knobs for FREE! There might be some left over for paint brushes too.

How did you do?


Organic Meal Delivery with Ion Nutrition

by Tiffany in Healthy Eating


The meals I struggle with the most are actually breakfast and lunch because I eat them away from home. I am great at planning and prepping healthy, organic meals for dinner and all meals on the weekend. The motivation and inspiration kind of runs dry when it comes to packing lunches though. Most of the time I grab a ramekin and some instant organic oatmeal for breakfast and a side of leftovers for lunch. When there are no leftovers I often eat Chinese takeout. This can be pricey and though I often go for stir fry loaded with veggies it is not organic I am sure.

Recently I gave a meal delivery service a try, Ion Nutrition. A box of prepared, fresh meals arrive at your door and you eat them at your leisure. These are not gross TV dinners either. These are delicious, organic, gourmet meals prepared by culinary experts. There are NO preservatives, additives, dairy, gluten, GMOs, hormones, added sugar or soy. They are nutrient dense for optimal nutrition and best of all they allow you to eat well, feel good, save time.

  • FREE delivery anywhere in the U.S.
  • Healthy, cost-saving meals for the home, the office, or the outdoors
  • Indulge in your health with an ultra-portable, refrigerated meal management bag. Enjoy tasty, healthy meals anytime, anywhere

There is a regular plan, a protein+ plan, and a paleo plan so you can select the ones that goes best with your eating style. They were super, super tasty too. I had a chicken thigh that was melt in your mouth delectable and a beef patty that had me wanting to inquire about a recipe. The meals had generous serving of veggies too. They were really perfect for taking to work and eating healthy on the go. I would not hesitate to order again though they are on the pricey side I admit. That is the only stumbling block.

Have you tried a meal delivery service before?


What Kind of Bird Feeder is the Right Choice for Your Garden?

by Tiffany in Enjoying Nature

what-kind-of-bird-feeder-is-rightIf you’re hoping to encourage more birds into your garden, it can be hard to know where to start, can’t it? It’s not as simple as just throwing some stale bread on the lawn and watching them flock in (and in fact, bread isn’t good for the birds and should be avoided).

Well, don’t worry. There’s lots of advice available on how to encourage birds into your garden, but you’d perhaps be wise to start by focusing on one thing in particular: add a bird feeder to your garden and fill it with food.

Bird feeders can be decorative and beautiful, working in harmony with your garden design. Others can be sturdy and capable of coping with winter weather, whereas some feeders are specifically designed to keep away pests or contain a specific type of bird seed. Read on to find out more about each type of bird feeder so you can decide which one suits you best.

Decorative Bird Feeders

Decorative bird feeders are, as their name suggests, the most ‘aesthetically pleasing’ bird feeders available. Of course, a decorative bird feeder can be functional as well as beautiful, but these feeders tend to come in particular designs that are suitable for maintaining your garden décor. For instance, you could choose a lantern design if you have a Zen garden, a copper feeder if you like the industrial look, or something that’s more seasonal, such as snowman-shaped bird feeder for winter!

Nyjer Seed Feeders

Alternatively, a nyjer seed feeder is useful if you want to encourage species of birds such as goldfinches and siskins into your garden. These birds really enjoy the small, oil-rich nyjer seeds, but you’ll need a specific kind of feeder if you want to provide this food source. Nyjer seeds are very small and, therefore, need a small port to ensure that the right amount of food is administered when a bird visits.

Squirrel Proof Bird Feeders

Squirrel proof bird feeders are a great choice if you have a problem with bushy-tailed fiends stealing food from your garden. There are lots of varieties available, including types that are caged to prevent squirrels from getting their claws and teeth into them. Some are even weight-activated and close off feeding ports when accessed by a squirrel.

Another option is to buy a feeder that ‘baffles’ a squirrel, utilizing a design that makes it hard for squirrels to cross. If you think this is the right choice for your garden, there are plenty of squirrel proofing options.

Window Bird Feeders

If the reason you’re installing a bird feeder is to get a closer look at different species of birds, why not install a window bird feeder? They’re generally made of clear, shatterproof plastic so you can see inside, and using suction, the feeder attaches to your window which allows you to observe birds from the comfort of your own home.

Bear in mind that a bird feeder can be both nice to look at and practical, so don’t feel limited to only picking from one of these categories. Just decide what’s the most important factor to you when installing a bird feeder, and then get one that matches those needs!



by Tiffany in Beauty


I have shared my deep and abiding love of all things coconut before. I cook with coconut oil all the time and I use coconut in lots of recipes. I use coconut to clean my teeth, I use coconut in my shampoo bars, I use coconut as a moisturizer, and I use it in many homemade essential oil products…it is a deep, deep love. My only big no-no with coconut oil is putting it on my face. It has a high comedogenic rating which makes it likely to clogging pores.

I was super jazzed to try some new products from Skinny & Co Coconut Oil. I got some lovely little jars with coconut for oil pulling, sugar scrubbing, removing make-up (not for me), moisturizing and healing, and boosting metabolism, energy, and clarity. They supposedly have the only 100% raw alkaline, coconut oil in the world. They have a patented system that crafts the only coconut oil under 100ºF. In my humble opinion you can see, smell, and taste the difference. Their products are fantastic!

I loved the oil pulling oil because they have infused it with yummy peppermint. It tastes pretty darn good and oil pulling isn’t usually the most enjoyable process. I think I found my preferred brand for sure. Oil pulling helps keep teeth clean, remove plaque, improve breath, and can even help whiten teeth – naturally.

The metabolism boosting moisturizer has the yummiest coconut smell. The inflammatory moisturizer has essential oils in it and it smells quite nice as well.

My fave though is the sugar scrub which uses coconut sugar and vanilla. I use in the shower daily to exfoliate and it is does the job while still being gentle. Love the smell too! It is like rubbing myself with fresh baked cookies. It is so natural you can add it to your coffee and tea! Wowsa!

If you want some new coconut products to try that are ethical and raw, give these products a go. They have no toxic chemicals, no fillers, and no solvents. There are never more than five ingredients. The coconuts are wild harvested, handpicked, and cold processed. I was super impressed and I know you will be too.


Disclosure: I received these products free from Skinny and Co but I was not monetarily compensated, nor did I have to write about them. I almost always say no to product offers but I had to say yes to these because hello…coconut oil! I am glad I did.

Monday, October 10th, 2016



Driving Another Kia Soul

by Tiffany in Green Cars


The Kia Soul is one of my all time favorite cars. It isn’t the greenest, I have my faves when it comes to eco cars, but it is one of my faves for budgetary reasons. It is a very nice and practical car without a huge sticker price. I like Kia in general and have also driven the Forte and the Optima Hybrid, they are all great cars.

It is probably a bit greener that what I currently drive but in general I don’t find this car to be green at all. My gas mileage during the week I had it ranged from 24 to 28 mpg. It was also not as loaded as the previous Kia Soul I drove but the price is also much lower. This car sells for $21,670. I don’t buy new so this car, one or two years old, would probably be at my sweet spot.

As far as look go it is very sharp though I much prefer color on the outside. The interior was very nice though. I love the remote keyless entry, rear camera, touch screen display, bluetooth capabilities, and 10 year – 100, 000 mile warranty. The only drawback was trunk space. I drove the car to Cincinnati for some amusement park fun at Kings Island and to visit Ikea. I had very little room for purchases and spend a some time doing creative arranging. This is hard to avoid in smaller cars though and I am not willing to buy SUVS or mini vans so I get what I can get.

The Kia Soul definitely stays on my favorites list!

Kia Soul

Sunday, October 9th, 2016

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