Posts filed under ‘Frugal Living’

Thrifty LOVE

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Yesturday was a beautiful sunny day. Cool and crisp but the sun…oh the sun…it was so nice to see you. The sun called me outside and I ventured  down the hill to the local thrift store to see what was in store.

I love thrifting. I love looking through all of the items that people have decided to pass on and wondering what the story is. I love that this is recycling…the whole someone elses trash is my treasure type of idea. I love finding just the right item. I have a running list of items that I’m on the look for. I tend to only buy things that I have an immediate use for (and a place for) in my home. Today was such as day.

I remember when I was younger my mom had a pasta maker and we would make pasta together. It was magical to watch the dough transform into noodles and then to cook an eat our delicious creations. Today I found a barely used Atlas Pasta Maker very similar to the one my family had. It was also on for 50% off and cost a whopping $7.

I know what I’m going to be making my sweetie for Valentines!

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February 14, 2008 at 6:01 pm 2 comments

Things I LOVE – Our Local Library

Imagine if you will a place close enough to walk to where you can go in select anything off the shelves you want and take it home without playing a dime. You can even go online and request an item from this great place (or others close by) and the wounderful staff will put it aside for you.

I LOVE our local library. I love that whenever I hear about a great book I simply log onto the library website and request it. I get a phone call on my cell to let me know when it arrives and go pick it up. The little one and I make a weekly trek to the library to fill her library tote with new books to cuddle up with on the couch and read…and read…and read.

What I have out right now:
The Kite Runner
Prodigal Summer
Hollyhock Cooks: Food to Nurish Body, Mind and Soil

Oneskein: 30 Quick Projects to Knit and Crochet
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life
Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder


Waiting On:

A Thousand Splendid Suns
Stuff : The Secret Lives of Everyday Things
Playful Parenting

Last Minute Knitted Gifts

Well as the evenings get cooler I look forward to snuggling up on the couch and reading a few good books…well, when I’m not knitting!  Any good book recommendations…???

September 25, 2007 at 5:20 pm 3 comments

Things I LOVE – All Natural Home Cleaning

I’ve talked here quite a bit about the things we’ve done as a family to reduce our impact on the environment, but one thing that I haven’t touched on yet is the one thing that I think is essential for both frugal reasons and environmental ones. Now I don’t really love cleaning my home but the task is made much better while using all natural cleaning products. I’ve used store bought green cleaners for years – good for the environment but not the pocket book. I always use much less than what the manufacture recommends.  The product last a long time however it feels like I’m always having to buy more and with living on three floors I’ve been looking for something more economical that I can have on each floor. In terms of store bought green cleaners I’m partial to the Ecover line of products and am still using the Seventh Generation laundry detergent to wash our clothes. 

Recently I have made the switch to DIY cleaners made from recipes containing Dr. Bronner’s, lemon juice, baking soda, vinegar, my favourite essential oils and water. The cost is dramatically less, its fun mixing up the solutions and best of all they work. My home is clean and there are no toxic chemicals or nasty smells…mostly you smell a light lavender-vinegar scent. The little one loves to help and has her own spray bottle and cloth.

Surface Cleaner:
2 Tbsp of Lemon Juice
10 – 15 drops of lavender essential oil
Fill bottle almost full with warm water
add 2 Tbsp of Dr. Bronner’s

Glass Cleaner:
1/2 cup vinegar
10 – 15 drops of lavender essential oil
Fill bottle almost full with warm water
add 1 Tbsp of Dr. Bronner’s

Bathroom Cleaner:
4 Tbsp Lemon Juice
2 Tsp Baking Soda
10 drops of lavender essential oil
Fill bottle almost full with warm water
add 2 Tbsp of Dr. Bronner’s

September 7, 2007 at 3:51 am 1 comment

“B” is for Beg, Borrow and Barter

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One way of reducing our consumption of resources, save money and build community is to get the word out about what you need and then borrow or barter for it. In our consumerist society this is so often forgotten. We all need to beg, borrow and barter for things more often.

Bartering in Action
Through various work connections we bartered computer services for a new computer. Great! Wounderful! Our old computer was running out of hard drive space and a little too slow for our needs. The new machine is efficient, fast and has more space than the old one.

At the same time our neighbours had put the word out that their computer had died and they were in need of a new one. Well we moved hard drives around and used our old computer box to build our neighbours a new to them computer. The same neighbours are in the middle of a bathroom renovation and have an old bathroom cabinet they no longer need. You guessed it…we are in need of a cabinet in our bathroom. So they now have our old computer happily humming away at their house and we have a newly installed bathroom cabinet. Bartering really does work!

Borrowing in Action
As I’ve mentioned before we live in a cohousing community where sharing resources is a central theme. If I need to trim the plants in my garden I simply go to the Garden Shed and borrow whatever tools I need. If I’m canning some Summer Salsa I simply go to the Common House and borrow a canner and all the necessary tools. If I need my carpets cleaned I can put the word out to my neighbours and we can hire a company to come in and clean all our carpets at the same time, usually for a cost savings.

Why can’t this model of sharing resources be incorporated into the design of our cities? Why does every household need a lawn mower or other items used infrequently? Could neighbourhoods have a central coop where they could go to get a tool that they need when they need it? This wouldn’t have to be limited to tools…what about camping gear, sports equipment, children’s toys, etc.???

P.S. – The Summer Salsa turned out great. It’s from this wounderful book on home preserving.

September 2, 2007 at 7:22 pm 1 comment

Adventures in Canning

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In an effort to eat as local as possible and savour the bounty of summer well into winter, I’ve been picking, purchasing and preserving large amounts of my favourite fruits. I’ve made strawberry jam, blueberry/raspberry jam and today my neighbour and I canned 40 lbs of peaches (20 lbs each).

The How:

1 – You can use a “syrup” to can the peaches or you can simply use water. Sugar has no preserving qualities and is used mainly for taste. I decided to use a very light sugar syrup. To 6 cups of water add 2 cups of sugar (yes this is the light version!). Heat to simmering. Next year I would like to try a honey based syrup.

2 – Wash peaches while you boil water in a large pot, enough water to cover a the peaches. Reduce water to a simmer after it boils.

3 – Dunk the peaches in the hot water for 20 – 45 seconds. Move them into a bowl of ice water. Skins will come right off after they cool for a few more seconds.

4 – Cut and pit peaches into whatever size you would like.

5 – Hopefully you have started your canner water to boil and washed your jars. If you haven’t, now is the time. Simmer the jar lids and rings, then cover and set aside. Scald the quart jars in the boiling canner water or run them through the dish washer.

6 – Pack your peach slices into the jars as tightly as possible, leaving about 1/2 inch of space at the top.

7 – Using a ladle or large spoon, fill the jar with the syrup to ½” of the jar top.

8 – Using a small spatula, try to remove as many air bubbles as possible from the jar. Slide the spatula down the sides of the jar to remove the bubbles.

9 – Remove a ring and lid from the hot water and tighten on the jar.

10 – Place in the boiling water canner and process for 20 minutes.

11 – Remove the jars and let cool overnight. In the morning, check the seals, remove the rings, label and store in a cool dark place.

I can’t wait to open a jar on a rainy day in December and think back to summer.

August 11, 2007 at 11:45 pm 1 comment

Halve It

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This post is inspired by Sharon at Casaubon’s Book. If you haven’t stumbled upon her site via the Riot for Austerity it is full of extremely well thought out and well written posts. A word of caution…be prepared to spend a lot of time there!

In Sharon’s recent post she talks about something I have been trying to do for awhile now…using half as much. Using half as much quite literally translates into half as much pollution, half as much waste, half as much money spent, half as much STUFF in our lives. What a simple way to reduce our consumption and have a positive impact on our environment.

True we cannot cut everything in half, however, for many things (like detergents) using half the manufacturers recommended amount will still get your clothes, dishes, toilet just as clean. In fact the product will last twice as long and chances are you won’t notice the difference. I took Sharon’s advice and watered down my dish soap and have been really conscious of using less shampoo when I wash my hair and less laundry soap when I put a load of clothes in. Just for the record my dishes, hair and clothes are all coming up clean.

With the lovely summer weather I have been hanging more and more of our laundry outside to dry and reducing our dryer use by much more than half. In fact for the month of August I have challenged myself to see if I can go without the dryer. Going without a dryer won’t work for us all year (we live in very damp Vancouver, BC) but could we go without the dryer for half the year?

What about the clothes in our closets? Could we cut that in half? Toys? Books? You get the idea. Sara at Walk Slowly, Live Wildly had a great post recently about STUFF. It got me looking more closely around our place and resulted in a purge of STUFF.  The amazing thing is I can hardly notice that I cleared out 2 full garbage bags of clothing, toys and books.

The other area I am trying to cut is my use of the car. I have committed myself to riding my bike to the office one day a week…not an easy task as it involves a 10km ride with numerous hills and going over one of the scariest bridge I’ve ever ridden across. But One Day can and will make a difference.

What can you halve?

August 1, 2007 at 5:20 pm 2 comments

Freecycle

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I LOVE freecycle. For those who have never heard of Freecycle before it is grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own cities and towns. One person’s trash can truly be another’s treasure!

Our community purchased a great natural gas BBQ in the Spring. Since then our old propane BBQ has seen little to no use. Well I decided to help it find a new home and posted it on freecycle. I had lots of interest in it and last night it went on it’s way to a new life with a young family who otherwise could not afford a bbq right now. I did good and now have more space and less clutter on my patio. The bbq will see some love and use once more. All is right in the world.

Now what else can I freecycle?

July 12, 2007 at 3:51 pm 2 comments

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I am passionate about reducing my impact on the environment and am learning to live simply and live green. I am learning the age old arts of home food preservation and cooking from scratch. This is yet another eco-blog and a place for me to really channel my passions for writing, photography and sustainable living.
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