Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Conserving Oil, Today's Tasks

Now that hubby has let the outdoor wood boiler burn off, we've switched back to our oil furnance (our hot water heater isn't electic, it runs off either the wood boiler or the oil boiler). Of course, with oil prices being pathetic, I really have to make sure I make it last. I've turned down the thermostat and am doing laundry in cold and warm only, no hot, and I'm doing all my rinsing in cold water.

It's funny how everyone says we have to cut back on our consumption of gasoline. While this may be true (I think there's a lot of hooey going on with the oil industry) no one seems to be talking about reducing the use of petrolium-based products like plastic bags. How much oil would we save if more products, especially food products, were packaged in glass, crocks, or waxed paper? After all, foods in plastic aren't necessarily healthy.

My brother found a dairy not too far from him that sells milk in glass bottles. He says the combination of fresh from the farm milk and the glass packaging make the milk taste phenomenal!

If you're looking to cut back oil consumption and simply can't drive any less, consider the petroleum-based products in your house. They market non-petroleum dishsoaps now at decent prices. You can reuse containers or utilize waxed paper rather than using ziplock baggies. Just a few ideas.

Today, I managed to clean out the walk-in closet in the nursery. I also raked out my garden. Now, I just have to wait for the manure and rototiller. I also had to do some advertising for a re-enactor thing and print out some business cards. Tonight's dinner is in the crockpot: hot turkey sandwich filling! I'll slice some rolls and heat up some veggies. I'm also thinking of making a mixed berry pie! Yum!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Vintage House

My favorite magazine is Cottage Living. I've notice that most of the homes they feature that are older homes go through a modernization. These vintage homes are made to accomodate modern living. Of course, I don't have that kind of money. A challenge I have with this little cottage is finding places for modern things in a house that was built without the thought of microwaves and DVD's. My kitchen lacks in outlets and counter space simply because back when the place was built, there weren't such things as microwaves, coffee makers and toaster ovens. Those are the appliances that sit on the counter. My other appliances are put away: crock pot, bread machine, blender, food processor, roaster.

My living room was built before the need for storage for DVD's and videos.

My bedroom was built during a time when husbands and wives were content to sleep in a full size bed and not a california king.

Still, I enjoy the challenge and I enjoy living in a smaller home. Not only does it force me to keep only what is necessary, but it forces me outdoors more, too!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Gardens, Motherhood Musings

Today, I asked hubby what color scheme should go in the beautiful stone wall garden he built me a few years ago. It has always been yellow, orange and red flowers, but I thought something different was needed this year. Especially since the house was painted a totally different color last fall. He suggested blue and I whole-heartedly agree! Although, blue is a rather difficult color to get in a quantity of perennial flowers. Still, I'm going for it!

I've noticed that when my heart gets selfish and I get preoccupied with outside entertainments and things that my dear son seems so unbearable...cranky, misbehaving, off his food, and prone to tantrums. But, when my heart is back in it's right place and I'm all about the best job ever, motherhood, my dear son is sweet, more even-tempered, more apt to listen and obey, and he even eats and sleeps well. Connection? Perhaps.

Preggy Insomnia Musings

I had a great night's sleep last night, so it's pretty much assured that tonight is "insomnia night." I had insomnia with Bubby's pregnancy, too, so this is nothing new.

Yesterday was a gorgeous day with unseasonably warm, sunny weather! It was a great day for enjoying the little things in life and spending time with my little man. We walked over to the farm twice where Bubby was able to ride a horse again! (It's a miniature horse.) He LOVES riding horses and since his first experience about a month ago, I can't get on all fours (like when I'm peering under the sofa to see what toys ended up under there) without him climbing onto my back and shouting, "Go Go!" Usually, I indulge him because for some reason, it actually makes my back feel better!

The second time we walked over, we took the back way along the fields. We just strolled and meandered, enjoying the day. For a moment, I felt the urge to have Bubby hurry up, but I stopped myself realizing, "what's the hurry?" So, meandering we went, observing a chipmunk, a tiny purple flower, the cracks in the dry dirt, and two newborn calves in the field.

As we rounded the bend to the activity on the farm, Bubby was elated to see Daddy driving a tractor and our neighbor pulling in with the big truck. He also got to play in the sandbox and get all dirty while mommy enjoyed gardening fellowship with the farmer's wife and enjoyed her blossoming bulbs.

I thanked God for His creation and His beauty that still remains on this earth. I don't know how anyone can stand to live in a man-made concrete jungle so far removed from God's creation.

Rain should be coming by the beginning of next week and then everything will start turning a beautiful shade of spring green, just in time for my favorite month, May!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Back With Needle in Hand!

I can't put it off any longer. Bubby needs a new frock for re-enacting. I was hoping he'd fit into last year's stuff, even if I had to let it out a bit, but he just grew too much. I was not looking forward to hitting the sewing machine again. However, I'm finding it quite relaxing! His frock is nearly done now, though I haven't decided whether or not to add a collar. He also needs a hat. Last night, I made an apron for me.

Well, it turns out I've developed a lactose intolerance, perhaps preggy related. I can get away with a little cheese, so long as it's not the cheap processed stuff and yogurt doesn't seem to affect me too badly, but milk is out. Ice cream is out, too. I like rice milk, though and it was nice to have an excuse to buy it. I don't get soy milk because soy is dangerous. (www.mercola.com keyword: soy.) Almond milk is good, too, but more expensive and doesn't do well in cold cereals. I give up dairy anyway while nursing if the baby develops colic.

Oh, and I lost 5 lbs too! This is good news because the doctor said I was gaining weight too quickly. The baby is strong, healthy and growing very well. The only drawback is OW! All that growing hurts! I can't wait to meet her! Only 8 more weeks! It's going to go by so fast, especially since May is my favorite month and it always flys by.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Getting Closer, Organization

I'm really beginning to feel that birth is getting closer and closer. I've had to give up on a few projects because my body just can't handle a huge workload anymore. Thankfully, hubby picked up one project I really wanted done. He's finishing up the little porch off the kitchen that I started last year.

There's still plenty to do, though. With an added person entering the already small house, I have to get even more creative with storage and such. My kichen is going through a slight revamp to make it less cluttered and more efficient.

The closet in the nursery has to be redone.

I also have to go through all of Bubby's toys and reorganize them.

I'd like to put the fish tank in the basement and move my bookcases to where the fish tank is now. In order to do that, I have to really clean out the play area in the basement and get that TV stand built.

Well, I guess back to work!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Disposable Diaper Deals

I buy Walmart's Parent's Choice disposable diapers (I only cloth diaper part-time). Of course, I want to get the most for my money when it comes to disposable diapers. They can really rack up a monthly grocery bill!

Here's what I discovered about the different packs of size 4 Parent's Choice disposable diapers:

I used to buy the big box, thinking I was saving money by buying in bulk. It turns out that the big box of 92 diapers actually costs the most at approx. 22 cents per diaper.

Lately, I've been buying the smallest pack simply because I'm trying not to overspend each week. They're a better deal at 32 diapers per pack and approx. 19 cents per diaper.

HOWEVER, I found that the pack of 64 diapers actually rings up the cheapest at 17 cents per diaper!!

I know which one I'll be buying from now on!

Also, I'm keeping an eye on good deals, double coupons and savings between now and when I give birth so I can stock up on diapers for my daughter and significant savings. I was completely blown away by the amount of diapers Bubby went through in a day when he was a newborn. I don't plan on cloth diapering until at the very least 6 weeks post-partum, but it'll probably be more like 6 months.

And for my "green" tip for diapering....if you've got a little squirter on your hands (Bubby was really good at letting loose as soon as I had the diaper off), have a cloth diaper, towel, washcloth, or burp cloth handy to catch that fountain. I usually grabbed the diaper I was going to put on Bubby and ended up throwing it out and grabbing another diaper. That's a bit of a waste....not only money, but for our landfills, too.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Other Frugal Findings

I think I've established that, for the most part, living green is frugal and vice versa.

http://homeliving.blogspot.com is posting on Frugality and there are some great tips not only in the actual articles, but in the comments sections as well!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Kitchen Stuff

I don't have a pantry other than some shelves in the basement where my home-canned goods go. Otherwise, it's just cabinets in the kitchen jam-packed with stuff.

While flipping through a back-issue of Victoria Magazine (yes, the magazine is being published again), I found a small article on making a pantry. Of course, the pantry in the magazine was one most women could only dream about. But, I'm not one to let magazine pics and articles make me feel bad about my modest surroundings. Instead, I enjoy the creative juices that flow as I "do the best with what I have." So, now I'm inspired to make my cabinets more pantry-like and to clean out and re-organize my fridge as well.

Now, here's the part that's contributing to my "green" days of April:

Out in a lovely little barn-style shed is my stove that I bought with my own money for our little mobile home. Unfortunately, the kitchen in our current house can only manage an apartment stove and it's only set for electric, not gas. So, out in the shed sits my beloved gas stove. However, hubby has a great idea! He wants to get a tank and hook it up to my stove and make me a "summer kitchen!" Not only will this save on electricity by not running the stove in my kitchen, but it'll save on electricity by not heating up the house and dueling with the air conditioner!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Pull That Plug!

My husband got a hold of this nifty tool that reads when a wire is alive (electricity is running through it). I went around the house and tried it on the many appliances I thought were off. Turns out that many appliances actually do keep using electricity even when they're off. Of course, the obvious ones are any appliance that has a digital clock. I was surprised that my non-digital, plain ol' toaster oven still used electricity even when it was fully off! I unplug that now after each use, as well as my coffee maker. I don't need several clocks going in one room.

Also, anything that uses an adapter, so long as the adapter is plugged in, it is wasting electricity. Unplug those adapters, or put them on a surge protector power strip and turn the strip off when not in use.

Keep in mind, as well, that anything that's programmed, like the TV, DVR, VCR, DVD player, sterio systems keep using electricity when plugged in, but off. The problem is, unplugging them usually deprograms them. I'd love to unplug my TV when not in use, but then when I turn it back on, I'd have to go through the reprogramming ritual just to get it to do anything. (We only have rabbit ears and only get Fox really fuzzy, so we don't watch much TV. But we do enjoy videos.)

Then, we all know the energy and money wasting habits we may have. I know people who just have to have the TV on, even if they're not watching it. Not good for many reasons. Turn it off! I've gotten into the habit over the last few years to turn on lights in rooms I'm not using. I'm re-training myself to shut them off.

Oh, and for your outdoor light, get a motion detector rather than just leaving lights on all night long.

They are improving the quality of light that emerges from Compact Florescent Bulbs (CFB). The ones I have in my house really save energy and they cast a similar glow to incandescent bulbs. I don't think I could go all florescent, but I notice very little lighting difference if I mix it up. Also, it's nice to get a brighter bulb that uses very little energy. Otherwise, I'd be living in the dim just to afford the cost of using incandescent bulbs all the time. If you truly can't stand florescent, consider using them in the garage, outdoors, basement, attic and closets. Also, remember that florescent bulbs often contain mercury, so they have to be disposed of carefully. Check your local municipality for rules and regs and be very careful not to break them!!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Reducing Disposables

It takes at least an extra 24 hours to fill up my kitchen garbage pail now that I've cut back on disposables. I'm much more apt to grab a rag than a papertowel. I'm more likely to wet a washcloth than grab a wipie. I've also completely given up those disposable cloths for the Swiffer sweeper. Boy, does this save money!

Back when hubby and I lived in the single wide mobile home, I bought one of those handy little mops that you can buy those wet cloths to attach to it and mop your floors. Well, I soon learned that even in my tiny trailer, it would take two or three of those cloths to do the bathroom alone! They weren't all that cheap, either. So, I moved to papertowels attached to it and a squirt bottle. Still, it was a waste of money and not good for the garbage heap. So, when one of my towels became too torn up to use after a shower, I cut it up into appropriate sized pieces to attach to my mop. It works great! When I'm done, I toss the cloth into the laundry, wash it and get it ready for next time. It's also much more sanitary than sponge or yarn mops.

PS...Check out my All Things Feminine Blog for my 30 week belly pic! It's funny, though. I'm only 5'2", I wear a size 2 maternity jeans and size small maternity tops, yet when I step on the scale, I'm 150lbs!!! I can't believe it.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Composting Again, Gardening Again

I stopped composting my plant-based matter during the winter. I hated bundling, trudging through snow down a hill to dump a few potato skins. Now that the weather is improving (slowly), I'm back to composting.

Composting is a must for gardeners (even if all you have are a few pots or window boxes), and it's very green and saves money! I was very generously given a composting box by my neighbor. However, you can easily start one with a simple fenced-in area, or even a pit in the corner of your garden!

Today, I started digging up bulbs that are shooting greens out along the side of my house. They are going to my sister-in-law. I need that spot cleared out because we're going to be doing some work to help divert water away from the house.

It felt good to dig through the dirt again, but it doesn't take much now to throw my preggy tummy into pains. I'm all forward this pregnancy and boy, do I feel it. I'll be doing a lot of pilates and ballet poses to get my spine back the way it should be after I give birth. It's getting quite the curve in it from trying to support this growing belly of mine. Only 10 more weeks to go!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Seeds, Cottage Cheese, Cloth Diapers, Spaghetti Sauce

I love gardening. I organic garden simply because I'm too lazy to dust my plants and these past few years I'm either pregnant, nursing or have a curious little one eating tomatoes off the plant. It's just safer.

The problem is it is expensive to buy all those flowers and plants at the greenhouse every year. So, I've turned my sunny enclosed porch into a seed starting center! I've reused plastic pots and yogurt cups in the process, too.

Courtney asked how to make cottage cheese. There are several recipes out there, but the one I use is the easiest. However, it doesn't make cottage cheese like what you'd buy in the store. Instead, it comes out more like a ricotta. I don't eat it plain. I use it in meals like lazagna, stuffed shells, baked ziti and cheeseburger pie.

Pour 4-8 cups of WHOLE milk in a double boiler. Heat over boiling water until the milk itself is nearly boiling (don't let it boil!). Turn off the heat and add just a little white vinegar (1-2 tbsp.) Let it sit and separate into curds and whey. Then, pour all into a cheese cloth or muslin-lined collander and let the whey drain from the curds. The longer you let it sit, the drier the curds get. If it doesn't quite separate, you can slowly reheat it until separation occurs.

Candy, you are accidentally green, but I have to say many of my ideas come from you! I got my yogurt recipe and my homemade cleaners recipes from you!

I read an article on the debate between cloth diapering and disposables (based on which is more environmentally sound). The author did his own comparison with his own 7 month old. His conclusion was that disposable diapers are better for the environment and cheaper! Why? Because he wasted so many papertowels, wipes, water, stain remover, detergent and electricity (drying in the dryer) in cleaning each diaper. Candy has a much better and easier way to deal with cloth diapers at http://www.keepingthehome.com/.

While at Aldi, I needed spaghetti sauce. I usually just grab a jar, but so many brands (even not at Aldi) has high fructose corn syrup in them or other preservatives. So, at Aldi, I grabbed two cans of stewed tomatoes, one can of tomato paste and one can of tomato sauce. I threw all 4 cans into my food processor, added whatever I felt like (oregano, garlic, italian seasoning, salt, pepper, etc) and made a great spaghetti sauce on the cheap! It's also a great way to use up past-their-prime-but-still-ok veggies! Yum!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Green Cheap, not Green Peace

As I said before, I'm not into this whole "mother earth" thing and "Green Peace" whatever that is. However, I am into going green not only to improve my health and take care of God's earth, but also to save some money. I compiled a list of ways to save money and they're rather green:

1. Cloth Diaper More
2. Use Cloth Wipes
3. Cloth Maxi Pads (they're amazingly comfy)
4. Avoid Paper Towels (in fact, I decluttered my countertop by getting rid of the paper towel holder and putting the paper towels in the same drawer as my cloth rags. Now, when I need to clean something up, I'll be more likely to grab the rags than the paper towels.)
5. Make my own laundry detergent (this is going to be harder because it does take a small effort)
6. Use home-made cleaners (I really like the homemade glass cleaner made from white vinegar, rubbing alcohol and water. It's actually a great all-purpose cleaner, too)
7. Make my own yogurt and cottage cheese. (Tastes better, it's healthier and cheaper)
8. Lanolin for chapped hands and lips. (I just buy the lanolin tube for nursing moms. It lasts forever and works great!)
9. Avoid cold cereals and processed foods. (Not only can they jack up the grocery bill, but they're not very healthy either...stick with oatmeal and eggs)
10. East more soups (good and good for you and a great way to use cheaper cuts of meat)
11. Be careful of electricity use (we have a tendancy to put lights on in rooms we don't use)
12. Battery-powered clock for the kitchen (right now I have a clock radio and that's an energy-drainer and it clutters my countertop)
13. Line dry as much as possible

14. Facial Care: Look into non-paraben, safer, cheaper, but effective methods. (I've tried various products from stuff at Walmart to Burt's Bees to Mary Kay to Dead Sea to now I'm currently using DHC.

Walmart stuff: I like St. Ives, but a lot of the other brands are too stripping and many contain parabens and other harmful chemicals, or I just can't find exactly what I'm looking for.

Burt's Bees: kinda pricey, hard to find, and not effective. The shampoo doesn't work very well on my hair.

Mary Kay: very pricey, doesn't have all of what I'm looking for, stripping and not effective.

Dead Sea: Horribly pricey, works great for a while and then just not what I'm looking for.

DHC: Love this stuff, but a lot of it has parabens in it. A bit pricey, but cheaper than Mary Kay.

So, I'm wondering if the good old fashion stuff works the best. So, I'm looking for cold cream for make-up removal, Scottish lye soap for facial cleansing (see my side-bar for the link), witch hazel for toner, and I need to come up with a great, natural moisturizer.

I don't like spending a lot of money on cosmetics, however, I have high-maintenance skin.