14
Apr

Frugal Friday and Craigslist Love

by Tiffany in Frugal Green

Whew! It has been a long while since I did one of these posts. Truth be told I don’t feel as though I have been very frugal or smart with my money lately. I never even got around to making a budget for last month, let alone sticking to one. That said I did have some frugal wins, even if it meant I spent a wee bit too much.

Got two loft beds on Craigslist. I was about to buy a loft bed for my daughter from Ikea for about $300. The one she actually wanted was from Pottery Barn for $800 so the Ikea one felt like a deal. At any rate I checked my local Craigslist ads and found two loft beds for $100 each. One was brand new and the other barely used. They both retailed for over $400 new. Now both of my younger kids have new beds. Score!

loft bed

My husband meets tons of people through his line of work and awhile back he met a man who empties out the apartments at an assisted living facility when they are vacated. Thanks to this connection we got two free exercise bikes we paid $100 for a barely used washer and dryer set.We turned around and sold the set for more than double our money. I sold one bike for $60 and the other we are keeping.

My Goodwill meanderings have paid off recently too. My fave Goodwill is next to a Target store and I am always finding brand new Target merchandise there. I got a 5-Shelf Trestle Bookcase ($69.99) new in the box for only $29. I had been admiring this style of bookcase for years! I also scored some storage baskets from target there for only $1.99 each and then later saw them at Target for $8.99 each.

I was desperate need of some new shoes and pretty much the only kind I buy are Reebok Nanos. They last, they fit my wide feet, and they are super comfy. The last time I bought some, Reebok was selling the 2.0 version of my beloved shoes. When I looked this time they are selling 7.0 versions. Knowing nothing about the 7.0 and not liking any of the designs I was not about to buy any for $130. They are seriously ugly! So I looked on eBay and found some new in box 3.0 Nanos in pink for $75 shipped. I adore them!!

I discovered a consignment furniture place near me and sold three older lamps we had laying around and made $15.

Earned $11 cash back this month via Benefit. Whenever I buy on Amazon or go out to dinner with my hubby to Texas Roadhouse we buy a gift card on Benefit first and pay that way. Then I print out a check for my cash back and deposit it through my bank’s app on my phone. Easy peasy!

Earned $25 through Ebates last month.

Lastly we bought new stainless appliances for our kitchen remodel. Did you know Lowe’s negotiates? I didn’t! We got a $2500 fridge that was a floor model and had a dent so they discounted it to $1400. Then they mentioned that one handle would not attach properly so we offered $1000. They agreed. With an energy rebate and selling our current fridge we ended up getting it for $700. So you never know. Oh and we fixed that handle issue in two seconds and covered the dent with a magnet. We also got a refurbished dishwasher allowing us to get a $800 dishwasher with bottle jets for only $311. Amazing!

See what I mean about spending?? I need to do a spending freeze.

5
Apr

Kombucha Recipes for Beginners

by Tiffany in Recipes

So you are brand new to kombucha brewing. Or maybe you have tried your own brew and decided you are ready to branch out and be more adventurous with flavors. Either way, here are a few recipes that are good for beginners to try and easy to add to your routine.

Basic Kombucha Recipe

If you are just trying to make a basic kombucha you will need a few items. Keep in mind, most of these items are available in kombucha kits but you can also reuse items you already have. I use bulk pickle jars. You will need jars, cheesecloth or People Towels (my fave), rubber bands to secure the cloth to the top of the jar, and a wooden cooking spoon. For the kombucha itself, you will need black loose leaf tea or black tea bags, white sugar, filtered water, and Kombucha SCOBY. The SCOBY is the yeast activator for kombucha. You will combine the hot water and sugar in the jar. Add the tea bags or tea and allow it to steep, cool down the mix, add the SCOBY, and let it ferment for three to 30 days.

Ginger Kombucha

All you need for ginger kombucha is fresh ginger, the basic kombucha tea mix, and some turmeric powder. Make the basic kombucha as normal. When the kombucha has fermented, before you add it to the bottles that you want to use, drain off the kombucha into the bottles. Add ½ tablespoon of fresh ginger and ¼ tsp of turmeric powder. Mix well and place in the fridge to cool.

Chia Seed Kombucha

If you are working on a weight loss routine, then you may already know the benefits of adding the superfood chia seed to your diet. You can make a powerful kombucha that contains this superfood. When you have removed your kombucha tea from the fermentation process, drain the tea and begin pouring it into your bottles. Add ½ cup of rehydrated chia seeds to each bottle. You can now get the power of the superfood along with the power of the bacteria in the kombucha.

Keep in mind, each kombucha recipe starts with a base that is very similar. You can use that base of tea, water, and yeast and build on that with your own ideas and recipes. Don’t become discouraged if the new recipes you create don’t workout. You can keep trying and find your own special drinks that work for you.

31
Mar

Living and Working Off the Grid

by Tiffany in The Homestead

Living and Working Off the GridYou’ve seen the old movies where there’s a cabin out in the middle of nowhere and the people utilize their talents to live off the land rather than work a 9 to 5 job.  If this appeals to you, even in the modern world this is still possible. You will have to do without some of the conveniences you take for granted, but if you’re tired of wasting your life away and want to enjoy more time doing things for you, this might be something to pursue. 

Purchase a piece of land

Before cutting strings with society and the modern conveniences make sure that you have a clear plan in place and stick to it. First, you’ll need to purchase a piece of land. Shop around for a farmer who may want to sell off a portion of his estate or an estate that the children don’t need or want. You should also take into consideration that you’ll need a private water supply and enough land to build a home, a shop, and grow vegetables.

How to heat your home

Once you have your land secured, you will need to decide how you want to heat your home and cook your meals. The good news is there are several options. You could install a wood stove, use propane, a solar inverter or wind or hydro power. Check out your options carefully and weigh the pluses and minuses. You can always change to something else at a later date but absorbing the cost a second time may not be in your budget.

Building a home

Living off the grid without mandated power supplies and electric wiring gives you a world of freedom with your design. If you have carpenter skills you could build a small cabin to start with and expand as time moves on. If, however, you don’t possess these skills, solicit a family member or friend to assist with the process. You’ll need a sound, well-insulated structure to retain the heat and keep you cool in the summer months.

Establishing a reliable food source

If you want to truly escape the hustle and bustle you’ll need to have a large garden that produces enough food to feed you for the year. Farming is a great way to significantly reduce your monthly food bill. You can also raise chickens for eggs and cows for milk if you have the land to accommodate them and the skills to care for them as well. Otherwise, you could simply plan a trip into town once every couple of weeks for the essentials you can’t produce on your own.

Employment

The nice thing about living off the grid is that your bills virtually disappear. There’s no heating, electric, cable, gas or water bill. Since your overhead is low, you no longer have to make a large salary to support you and your family. Instead, use your skills and talents to earn income to cover your costs. You can paint, sculpt, build, write, or sell your fruits and vegetables.

Living off the grid is not a lifestyle for everyone. If you enjoy having access to 200 channels and want cellular service at your fingertips, this may not be your cup of tea. However, if you want the freedom to spend quality time with loved ones and travel as you wish and you don’t mind a few compromises to achieve it, this could be something you enjoy. If you want a sure way to see if you are cut out for this lifestyle rent a cabin out in the woods for a month or two and see how you feel after. If you find it’s not your cup of tea there are still ways to join in on a smaller scale, even in more urbanized areas.

28
Feb

How to Save Money (and the Planet) Through Energy Efficiency

by Tiffany in A Green Home

energy efficient home

Finding a way to lower your electricity bills is appealing to everyone, but in this day and age we are also very concerned about our environmental impact. People are making greener choices all around.

If you would like to make some adjustments at home, and you are keen to remain green, here are some tips on how you can save money and be more energy efficient:

Adjust your everyday habits

You can achieve great savings through simple adjustments of your daily habits. Get yourself into the habit of turning your lights off when you leave a room, unplugging your devices when they are not being charged and only running the dishwasher and washing machine when needed.

Convenient electrical switches

An efficient option for your home is to ensure you have quality electrical switches located in convenient places. This way, you have better access to them and can easily flip the switch to “off “. You could, for example, place a light switch near your front door so you can turn the lights off when you leave the house or a switch to disconnect power from a gas furnace in a place that is easy to get to.

Better light bulbs

Low-voltage and efficient products avoid waste. You can switch over to greener light bulbs, such as compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs, to cut your electrical bill down.

Appliances

High quality electrical devices and products with A++ rating have the most efficient energy rating and can help you save money and energy without having to make huge changes to your daily activities. Simply check the quality of the next device or appliance you buy.

Prepare your house for even greater efficiency

When you have energy efficient appliances and products, you must take measures to retain energy in the home. The appliances and products can only get you so far, so it is important to ensure your home is ready for greater energy efficiency.

For example, your windows are extremely important. If they are inefficient and have an air-leak or another issue, it is easy to crank up the heat or air conditioning without realizing there is actually a problem with your windows. You could invest in new, efficient, double-glazed windows or improve your existing windows by sealing and draft-proofing them.

Overall, it takes a combination of paying attention to your day-to-day habits and ensuring you have an efficient home set-up to improve your energy efficiency. In turn, you will have lower energy bills, and thus more money in your pocket, and help save our planet at the same time.

18
Feb

Beginner Tips for Fermenting

by Tiffany in Healthy Eating

Beginner Tips for FermentingSo, you have decided that probiotic rich, fermented foods may be for you and you want to add more to your diet. You already know the numerous health benefits, the categories of fermented foods, and how you want to use them. The problem is, that you may have some trouble finding all the foods that you want or at the very least finding them within your budget. When a single bottle of Kombucha can run nearly $4, that can make a dent in your food budget fast. If this sounds like you, you may have already looked into fermenting your own foods. Here are some beginner tips that can get you started on the right track.

Start with Fermentation Kits

Kits are a great place to start if you are new to fermenting. There are several reasons for this. The first is that the kits will include everything you need to ferment the chosen food. There is no need to research all the different tools and ingredients and try to find them, they will be at the ready. The second reason for starting with kits is because they are often cheaper than trying to buy each piece you will need for the fermentation process. You will also receive step by step instructions as well as recipes to try later.

Stick with Foods You Already Love to Eat

You may already be eating fermented foods that you love, like yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, or pickles. It makes the fermentation journey that much more enjoyable when you try your hand at fermenting those foods yourself. The benefit of this is that you already know the flavors, textures, and methods you like of these foods. You know what you are looking for. You know what you like and it ls less likely that you will let fermented foods go to waste in the fridge. After all, you may have began this journey to save money, not waste it. Once you get the routines down for your favorite ferments then you may want to get more exotic and experimental.

pickles fermented at home

Create a Ferment Storage Area

Make sure that if you are starting to ferment your own foods, you have a proper storage area them. Make sure that you know where you will be storing them, how best to store them, and for how long you will need to store them before they are ready to eat. The last thing you want is to have the foods ready to go and find that you do not have the adequate space or area to support the fermenting process. Do some research on the best ways to store your fermented foods and the temperatures you will need to maintain.

By utilizing these tips you can start on a path to fermenting your own foods. Once you learn the basic processes you will have a fermented food pantry that you can pull foods from just like a grocery store, at a fraction of the price. Your budget will be super happy and your health will too.

fermented jam

Saturday, February 18th, 2017

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