Monday, January 30, 2012

raising a glass to simpler times

Today I'm beginning with an aside. Have you joined Bloglovin' yet? I held off joining because it was just one more social media gadget, I couldn't imagine getting yet another username and password, and I already organize the blogs I follow in Google Reader. I changed my mind yesterday because it occurred to me Bloglovin' might be a good way to find new blogs. And it is! If you're thinking of trying it out, you can follow my blog with Bloglovin. Now, onto the topic at hand...

If I've learned anything about myself during this frugal challenge, it's that I enjoy simplifying my life. Rather than feeling burdened by buying less, I feel more free than ever. Nate is feeling it too. In fact, we are so enjoying our new-found freedom that we're willingly cutting out any expense possible. I'm following up on the frugal challenge goals I started out with 23 days ago so you can see how far I've come.

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1. Consolidate my driving trips down to one/day or less to save gas and time.
I did well on driving less and was helped on that score by winter weather and sick kids.
2. Find other forms of (free or cheap) entertainment besides TV. Cancel cable.
Done! I have a stack of library books to read, joined a book club, and we canceled cable. We are still watching TV but only via Netflix, Hulu, and a digital antenna.
3. Learn how to make more food from scratch, like bread, chips & crackers (I can't even pop popcorn!) for snacks, vanilla extract, and seasoned salt.
I am making lots of bread, got the recipe for and made my dad's famous popcorn (will post soon), and am beginning to gather homemade recipes for vanilla, Italian dressing, seasoned salt, and even cocoa and chai!
4. Start using homemade remedies, toiletries, and cleaning products.
I went "no poo"! I also bought borax to make grapefruit scouring scrub, and I'm on my way to making more homemade cleaning products from this e-book.
5. Learn how to make homemade toys to reuse items like plastic bottles and cereal boxes.
I've gathered the boxes and bottles but haven't purchased paint or other materials yet. I am waiting on a budget surplus, which is a new way of shopping for me.
6. Compost.
I am learning as I go. There isn't much happening with it now because I am again waiting on a budget surplus to purchase a pitchfork to turn it and add coffee grounds.
7. Start planning our first spring vegetable garden and manage herb garden better this year.
I admit I haven't pondered this one yet. Who can think about spring when the ground is frozen?
8. Learn about conserving electricity, e.g. via water bottles in the fridge to eliminate fridge cutting on so often.
I added ice cubes and water bottles to our fridge and freezer. I'd like to learn some other tricks too. Anyone know of a good place to find ideas?
9. Find recipes to make large batches of food at once and store in our chest freezer, cutting costs and number of times I have to cook.
I've been doubling recipes left and right and finding new freezer recipes, so our freezer is gradually filling with goodies.

10. Learn how to can and buy necessary items like tongs and ball jars to begin canning.
I started a canning board on Pinterest for inspiration and am learning from my fellow bloggers like Food in Jars and Roving Lemon. Jar-lifting tongs and ball jars are on the "budget surplus list" too.
I consider this frugal challenge only the beginning of our quest to simplify our lives. I was inspired by Design Mom's interview with the couple who bought 90% of their belongings on Craigslist, and I think one of our new goals, to add to the list above, is to buy the majority of things we need second-hand. We already use consignment for the kids' clothes and toys, but most other purchases have been newly manufactured goods.

One of my favorite consignment items, Charlotte's "Marilyn" jacket

When you cut out charge for overhead and sales tax, you can save a bundle. I am proud to say I haven't purchased anything for us at Target/Walmart/Amazon/Insert-Warehouse-Store-Here in 2 months, so it's a start!

In what areas are you simplifying your life? I would love to learn from you!

This post is part of Seasonal Celebration Sunday, the Homestead Barn Hop, Homemaker Monday, Monday Mania, Natural Parenting Group's Monday Blog Hop, the Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways Blog Hop, Teach Me Tuesday, Green & Natural Mama Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday, Your Green Resource, Farmgirl Friday, and Frugal Friday.


Babci said...

The "Marilyn" jacket is aptly named . So funny ! Gosh she's adorable . This was a goldmine post , I'm particularly interested in the natural cleansers .Last week I got ill after cleaning all day . Everything had bleach in it . I took aspririn , Advil ..nothing worked . Worst headache ever . Goes to show you , there may be more to this challenge than just saving money . The simple life...if only .

The Lone Home Ranger said...

Mom, if you're not up to making your own products, you know how I love Mrs. Meyers. I can't find my favorite smell, geranium, in many stores, so I used to buy it online at But I am gradually replacing even "natural" cleaners like Mrs. Meyers with the homemade kind, especially for the bathroom: tub, toilet, sink, mirror, all with vinegar, baking soda, and borax. Cheap and better for the environment and your health. They sell big empty spray bottles and shakers with the mops and sponges.

Jmommymom said...

What a wonderful list. Simplification is so freeing!

You mentioned hand-made toys. Check out this tic-tac-toe game my daughter received as a birthday gift. I was totally impressed.

Julie Norkoli said...

What a wonderful list. Simplification is so freeing!

You mentioned hand-made toys. Check out this tic-tac-toe game my daughter received as a birthday gift. I was totally impressed.

The Lone Home Ranger said...

Julie, what a wonderful gift idea! In a fit of nesting instinct, I purchased a brand new sewing machine two years ago, and I am embarrassed to admit (particularly on a post about frugality) that I haven't even taken it out of the box yet. The threading process alone is enough to scare me away. But a tic-tac-toe quilt is inspirational! I am pinning it to my Ideas for the Girls Pinterest board.

Jacqui said...

Thanks for joining up with the hop this week! Hope you will consider joining our forum, many of the parents on there have great resources for homemade products! Looking forward to following your blog :)

Julia said...

even though it seems like spring will never come, it WILL be here sooner then you could possibly think - especially when you are considering planting. Every year it lies and says "oh you have plenty of time" and then Poof, I've missed the prime planting time

Dawn said...

Very inspirational - thank you! :)

Beingfrugalbychoiceblog said...

I would highly recommend checking out freecycle in your area. It's a bit like craigslist but everything is 100% free. I bet you can find your canning items and pitchfork within a few weeks!

IThoughtIKnewMama said...

Wow - Good for you! You should be really proud! I look forward to hearing more about how these goals go. (And I also recommend Freecycle as another poster recommended!).

Thanks for linking up at the Green & Natural Mama Linky!

Rebecca said...

Well done for sharing your goals with us. I am sure it makes it easier for all of us to live more frugally when we share what we intend to do and how we plan to make these changes towards living a simpler life-thank you!
I'm so glad you dropped by and I really welcomed this contribution last week to the Seasonal Celebration Linky- a great collection of seasonal recipes, homemaking, crafts, homeschooling and motherhood thank you so much!
Seasonal Celebration is live once more, so feel free to pop over and join this wonderful celebration of creative talent! Rebecca x

kelly rhoades said...

Hi! The Ball Canning Book is an excellent book for a beginner to use to learn how to cook. Simple recipes, diagrams, and just plain easy to use. For your garden, if you like pastas and homemade pizza, plant plenty of tomatoes to can! Herbs are easy to dry too. You can find simple instructions on the internet. I dry all summer long and have a good supply for the winter.

sarah saad said...

اهم شركات نقل العفش والاثاث بالدمام والخبر والجبيل اولقطيف والاحساء والرياض وجدة ومكة المدينة المنورة والخرج والطائف وخميس مشيط وبجدة افضل شركة نقل عفش بجدة نعرضها مجموعة الفا لنقل العفش بمكة والخرج والقصيم والطائف وتبوك وخميس مشيط ونجران وجيزان وبريدة والمدينة المنورة وينبع افضل شركات نقل الاثاث بالجبيل والطائف وخميس مشيط وبريدة وعنيزو وابها ونجران المدينة وينبع تبوك والقصيم الخرج حفر الباطن والظهران
شركة نقل عفش بجدة
شركة نقل عفش بالمدينة المنورة
شركة نقل عفش بالرياض
شركة نقل عفش بالدمام
شركة نقل عفش بالطائف
شركة نقل عفش بمكة


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