Today's Quote

“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.” Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Sewing for Less

Recently, I had someone ask me why I bothered sewing clothes when I could buy them at the thrift store cheaper than I could buy fabric. I explained to her that sewing isn't a skill that warrants expensive trips to the fabric store. Many times I have someone give me clothes that are a bit out of date or too large or whatever. Usually, my sewing adventures involved re-making things into other things. Here are some things that I have done that keep clothing, household goods, and other sewing costs even cheaper than buying clothing at the thrift store.

1. Re-making what I already have. I had some boho/hippy style skirts that were given to me by my mother in law. They were cute and I love hippy style clothing. However, it doesn't really love me. I am short and a little wider than I would like to be and these skirts made me look shorter and wider than I already am. But I didn't want to get rid of them. So I made them into summer sundresses for me and my oldest daughter by simply replacing the elastic waistband with another piece of elastic that fit around our busts and then adding nice wide shoulder straps. We can wear them loose or with belts to give our waist more definition. They fit great and even left loose are more flattering because they fall in a more even way than they did when they were skirts. They come to just a hint above our knees so don't make us look even shorter than we are. The cost of 5 dresses was maybe 1.00 that I had in thread and elastic. That is about 20 cents a piece. Thrift store cost would have been at least 2.00 a skirt if not more.

2. When I am at yard sales or flea markets I pick up sewing supplies. I am always looking out for sewing supplies. I once bought a quart size Ziploc bag full of black thread for 1.00. That was years ago and I am still using that black thread. There were probably 15 to 20 spools in that bag. Another time I bought 4 large spools of serger thread even though I don't have a serger. I paid about 2.00 for all 4 spools. I use it for handsewing items and I am still using off those spools.

3.Along the lines of remaking, many times yard sales with have nice quality clothing for almost nothing. If the material of the clothing is good quality I try to consider if I can re-make it or re-size it. I have made many skirts out of shirts that were way too large or dresses for my daughters out of shirts that were too large.

4. Clothing that has stains can often be cut apart, the fabric flipped over if the stain doesn't go through and remade into something else. Or it can be cut up and the stained portion discarded, then the rest can be used for some type of home goods craft such as patchwork placemats for the table, or everyday dinner napkins that don't really need to match perfectly.

5. Fabric is fabric, so I am prone to picking up decent quality sheets anytime I can. I had built up my stash of sheets so well that recently when I made thermal curtains for the house I had plenty of sheets for the project. I made curtains for 14 very large sets of windows (4 required an entire kind size sheet to cover) out of maybe 3.00 worth of yard/thrift store sheets. I also made 3 shade cloths for the garden out of some cheaper stained sheets that were actually given to me.

These are just a few of the ways that I can save money sewing. Sewing for our house saves a lot of money and doesn't mean any trips to the fabric store. Recently I was in the fabric store getting my scissors sharpened and while I was waiting looked at the price of fabric. The lady that prompted this post was right. For the cost of fabric, I could buy a whole lot of clothing from the thrift store. But I can do it much cheaper. Blessings, Kat

Monday, April 20, 2015

At War with the Electric Bill

Our power company really and truly has a racket going. When the bill comes it has two numbers listed on it, the useage amount and the amount of state tax charged. These two are added to give me the total amount to pay. They like to say that I pay 7-8 cents per kwH. However, if you look at how much you used multiplied by the appropriate rate (tiered rate) then you find that you have been charged almost twice what your calculations should have been. When you call the company to find out why you find there are all sorts of hidden fees within the amount charged under useage. Fuel fees, base rates, several different taxes, etc. You can't win for losing. We dropped our useage down to 640kwH this past billing period. According to the rates we should have been charged 44.80 plus the 3.00 state 47.80. Instead our bill was 90.88. Over 30.00 in hidden fees and taxes. Must be nice to get away with hiding charges and fees from customers. I bet a lot of folks out there would not be happy if they realized what they are really paying and what they should be paying. Why tell people that they are paying 7 cents a kwH when clearly they are not. Isn't that false advertising? Wouldn't that be illegal if any other business did that? So how is it that the power company can get away with it? So we are at war and determined more than ever to give them the least amount of money that we can get away with. Have a blessed day, Kat

Friday, April 17, 2015

Rain, Rain...

While California is in (and has been in) a severe drought, we are severely wet. We have been having a tremendous amount of rain over the past month and frankly it is getting to be a little much. It is pouring rain now and has been since about 7pm last night. There is no end in sight for today at least. Our septic system is feeling the strain as the pipes gurgle with each slow flush of the toilet. Showers are on major restriction and those that do take place are good old fashioned "navy" showers. We did get a small break on Wednesday enough to warm the water in the solar shower outside so that all of us could get a good shower. It was nice even though the water was more lukewarm than warm. It was more comfortable than cold and it allowed a better shower than a quick in and out navy shower. I washed as many dishes in the outdoor sink as possible to give the septic a small break from the dishwasher. Everything around here is wet and flooded. The garden has grown by leaps and bounds and so has the grass. The bad thing about the garden is that I find very few non rainy pockets to get out and pull weeds, the good thing about the grass in that there is plenty for the critters to eat. There is so much water that the fire ants are everywhere looking for a dry place. You don't have to step in a bed to get bit, just step outside. It seemed nice that we got the solar shower fixed so that it was working properly. However, one requirement of have a solar shower is having some solar power..hard to do when the sun is hidden behind those rain clouds. I told my hubby that maybe I needed a redneck bathtub. We have an old cast iron tub just sitting out at the barn waiting to be used for something. We don't need it for a water trough...we have another one for that. He just shook his head and mumbled something about all the wood being wet. I know there are times he truly wonders what in the world he got himself into when he married me. I think this was one time that he felt fortunate to be cleaning out the winter bedding from the goat barn...a very stinky chore especially with all the rain. You watch folks...I will not only have a solar shower but soon, very soon I will also have a redneck bathtub. I just have to get all the planning and placement figured out so that he can't help but say, "Yes, honey, that sounds like a fine idea. I will get right on that." Sometimes, truly I think I might be a little off myself. But that feeling only lasts a fleeting moment. We have had to do so much with so little for so many years that I am beginning to think that I am learning to do stuff with nothing at all! LOL! California, I will gladly give you some rain today in exchange for some sunshine tomorrow. Have a blessed day everyone, Kat

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Tightwad tips for April- Part 1

Well, I guess I have had a good number of frugal accomplishments for the first part of this month. Here is what we have accomplished.

1. I made butter from the cream off the goat milk.

2. I made cheese and yogurt from our goat milk.

3. I bought chicken leg quarters on sale for 39 cents a pound.

4. We have eaten salads from the garden 4 times this month.

5. I made 3 play dresses for little britches from older clothes that I had saved but were not really in good shape to give to someone else or wear into town.

6. I saved the buttons off the clothes that I deconstructed for the play dresses.

7. Our grass is growing like crazy now so we were able to decrease the grain fed to the horse. She gets more in the winter because of the cold and no grass, only hay. So in the summer when we have plenty of grain we can cut her grain needs by half.

8. I baked potatoes in the crockpot.

9. I grilled one meal entirely on the grill.

10. Everything that possibly can be is on power strips to be completely shut off at night.

11. The solar shower was used 6 times which kept the water heater from having to be turned on.

12. I used by grocery store fuel perks to save on gas. We filled up both cars at the same time for 1.76 a gallon.

13. I am now able to collect some weeds, herbs, and such for the rabbits. So after spending a couple of weeks re-introducing these things slowly we are now able to replace 1/2 of their grain needs. This cuts the feed bill in half for the rabbits.

14. Since it is that time of year to clean out and replace bedding in the rabbit colonies we raked pine straw to mix in with the regular straw. This cut down on half the cost of the straw. It would be nice if we could just use all pine straw, but it isn't very absorbent. Mixing it in is about the best we can do.

15. We have a barrel set up for solar hot water and were able to wash the breakfast and lunch dishes by hand using the hot water from the barrel. This meant that the dishwasher ran every other day instead of everyday, cutting down on electrical useage.

Well, that is about it. I am hoping to have a solar oven and cooker up and running by the end of the month so that we can cook mostly with solar power during the summer. I would also like to make a haybox type cooker, but don't know how much that will benefit during the summer since we don't eat soups or stews or heavy meals in the summer.

Hope this gives others some ideas on little ways to trim those living expenses. It is especially needed nowadays since the cost of living is rising faster that paychecks are rising.

Have a blessed day,

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Frugal Accomplishments- Week of March 22

Well this past week has not been real exciting. We did do a few things that saved us money in the long run, but not a lot of money at one time. Here goes though, glean what you can.

1. We had one veggie meal for supper...bean and cheese burritos.

2. We cooked one meal on the grill using no electricity for the evening....grilled rabbit and salad.

3. We butchered rabbits recently and so two meals this week came from the farm.

4. I made Swiffer sweeper pads for my sweeper that I use daily on the floors.

5. I picked baby greens in the garden to make a salad for supper.

6. I had not sent in my daughter's dual enrollment application just yet and lo and behold in my email I get a note with a code to use to be able to wave the application fee...I used it immediately. Saved 25.00.

7. Potatoes were on sale at the local small grocery store. I purchased 40 lbs for 8.00.

8. I turned the goats into the yard to graze and nibble, therefore cutting my hay useage for the day in half.

9. I put compost in one pasture and the chickens have been spreading it and working it in for me. Free fertilizer.

10. We had a fence that was made from landscape timbers that was falling down, so I am now taking it down to use in the garden for netting around the garden beds and to build a low fence around a portion of the garden. Hoping to be able to put pigs there.

11. I just started to be able to milk the two goats that kidded a couple weeks ago, so now I will be able to start making cheese, butter and yogurt!

That is about it. I am sure that I will have more soon as I am always looking to make our dollars stretch as far as possible. Blessings, Kat

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Ridiculousness of Wearing a Hate Symbol

Recently, I have raised a stink within our church. Normally, I am not one to cause conflict or confrontation. On this occasion I am the source of the conflict and I proudly stand on that fact. Our youth leader wants to print new t-shirts for our children with the Arabic Nuun on the back of the shirts. For any that don't know what this is let me explain its history just a bit. The nuun is the 14th letter of the Arabic alphabet. It means nazarrah or Nazarene. I has always been used as a symbol of shame or hate against a Christian. Recently, ISIS (you know....the terrorist group) has adopted and used this symbol to mark Christians for execution. They have effectively used this symbol to eliminate every Christian in the city of Mosul for the first time in the history of that city. I don't want my child wearing this symbol and I simply will not compromise on this issue. Our youth leader says that by wearing the symbol we are showing our support for the Christians that are losing their lives. No we are not. We are showing our support for a symbol of hate. I was even told by this youth leader that she was glad that her faith was so much stronger than mine because she was not afraid to wear the symbol and that she was happy that her fear did not come before Christ. No wonder other religions hate Christians if we are all so pompous and judgemental. Persecution comes in many forms my friend. Back to my subject. Let me show you how ridiculous it is to wear a symbol of hate and try to make it mean something that it does not. Picture a group of Jews heading to temple wearing a swastika, or a group of African Americans walking down main street wearing white sheets and hood with KKK printed on them. Both could say that they were wearing the symbols of hate to show their support for those that suffered and died under those symbols. How is that any different than a Christian wearing a symbol of hate that Christians are currently suffering and dying under? It isn't. You can't twist things to mean what you want them to mean. They mean what they mean. A symbol that has always been a hate symbol will always be a hate symbol. I won't even go into all the other problems I have with my child wearing this symbol, but the list is long. We live in dangerous times my friend and Americans are naïve in their safety. We all know that there are sleeper cells of terrorist organizations within our borders and why on earth would we want to give any type of impression to them or anyone else that we appear to side with them?! If we wear a swastika, then we are marking ourselves as white supremacists. If we wear white sheets with KKK and hoods, then we are marking ourselves as white supremacists. If we wear a pentagram, then we mark ourselves as a satanist or a witch. If we wear the Arabic Nuun then we are marking ourselves as muslim terrorists. Period. Thanks for listening to my rant. Blessings, Kat

Monday, March 16, 2015

Homemade Crunch n Munch

The other night my hubby and I were watching a movie and he wanted know something crunchy, salty and sweet. Junk Food. Crunch n Munch is one of his favorite junk foods but because of cost it rarely finds its way into our home. Not to mention the children will find it and inhale it like the air they breathe. I occasionally find it at the discount store for a dollar a box, but the boxes are small and half empty so even discounted it seems like a waste of money. So I started looking around yesterday to see what I could do to satisfy that next craving for something crunchy that he might get. I wound up having all the ingredients to make my own crunch n munch. I made a ton of it and it probably only cost me the same price as buying one box. Here is the recipe that I used.

About 7 cups of popped popcorn
2 cups of almonds
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter
1/2 cup of maple syrup( can use corn syrup instead)

I popped the popcorn, enough so that I had about 7 cups or so after popping. Then I placed the popcorn and the almonds in a very large roasting pan. I then placed the sugar, butter and syrup into a sauce pot and brought it to a boil. I let it boil for a minute or so until it was good and creamy. I then added the vanilla and stirred really well. I then poured some (not all)over the popcorn, sprinkled with salt and mixed. I kept repeating this process until I was out of caramel and all the popcorn was coated well. Then I place it in a preheated 250 degree oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes. I kept stirring and mixing the popcorn every 15 minutes while in the oven. This came out really well and is soooooo good. There will be enough for everyone to have a snack for the whole week. He was delighted when he got home and was greeted with a kiss and his favorite junk food. Incidentally, he said it was better than the store bought stuff. It takes so little to make him happy! Blessings all, Kat