I didn’t get any fall planting done last year since we had some unusually cold weather early in winter. Our last few winters have been very mild so I guess it was time for colder weather. Spring usually arrives in early February, but this year it waited until late March into early April. We got a late start on getting the garden tilled and amended. I also had to buy tomato and bell pepper transplants at my local nursery. We expanded the garden by several rows and planted new seeds this year. I finished planting all the April crops on Friday evening. Here is what we have planted this year: roma tomatoes, cucumbers, green/red/orange bell peppers, black beans, bush snap beans, zucchini, cow peas (similar to black eyed peas), sugar baby watermelons, and cantaloupe. I already see lots of cucumbers popping up. I also planted marigolds in between the tomato rows which helps to ward off caterpillars. I shall see how this does. I bought three more blueberry bushes which are all flowering. I will have lots of blackberries this year from all the buds and flowering on the bush. I’m very excited about my garden and very hopeful it will be plentiful. I included pictures below.
Category: Frugal Living Tips
Today’s thrifty living tip is to use a paste of baking soda to get stains out of plastic containers. It will also get out some funky smells. I use cold water to make a thick paste and let it soak overnight and rinse it out in cool water. You may need to do a second soaking but it usually gets out the stain on the first go rounds. Using hot water sets in the stains just like it will on your clothes. I wash it in warm water if the stain is out or mostly out.
Each year I say I’m going to get my house more energy efficient for winter, but I end up procrastinating and do nothing. Then when I open my heating bills I want to cry. This year I am going to make my house more efficient so I can stop dreading the heating bill. I have a 55 year old house that comes with the original windows and doors which can get drafty. I did take down my doors to re-stain them, and filled in all the tiny hairline cracks. We had a nice cold front but I couldn’t feel any wind coming through like usual. Here is what I’m doing this weekend.
1) I am hanging thermal lined curtains in my living room. I eventually want them in the bedrooms we sleep in.
2) Installing door sweeps for all three doors.
3) Installing foam weather stripping for the windows. I also will caulk around the outside window casings and door frames.
4) I made a door draft guard for all three doors. We only use one of them on a regular basis. I will only put it in front of the door at night.
I spent under $200 for everything including the curtains. That was my biggest expense since I needed 8 panels for my living room. I didn’t want to use caulk on the window sills since we live in a warmer climate. Our winters aren’t very harsh so there are days I want to be able to open the windows to let in any nice air. That’s another reason why we didn’t want to put plastic wrap on the windows. I should be able to save at least 20% off my heating bill just doing these simple steps.
There are lots of ways to winterize your house. I don’t have to wrap or insulate pipes since we don’t get hard freezes and most of the time it’s only a day or two at a time. I don’t have a furnace or boiler so I don’t need to clean it out or make sure it’s in good working condition. I have a forced air natural gas heater so it’s minimal maintenance. Our attic is already well insulated, and we don’t have basements in Louisiana. You need to consider your winterizing needs which will depend on how cold your area gets. There is a lot of great information on the internet. I hope I gave you a few tips to consider so you don’t cry when you open your heating bills this winter.
Today’s thrifty living tip is decrease your amount of laundry. How do you ask? There are two simple tricks I use in my household. First is to use a towel more than once. We don’t use washcloths, but the towel that only dries hands can be used for a week. The same thing for the bath towel. I make sure to hang it so it will dry between uses. We also wear our pajamas for 2-3 nights before calling them dirty. I have 2 pairs that I rotate nightly so I only have to wash 2 each week. I don’t wear my pajamas all day and only for bed. I also don’t wash clothes that I only wore for an hour or two like dress clothes for church. Unless I got sweaty, there is no need to wash them since they aren’t dirty. This has helped cut down on the amount of laundry we do each week.
Your local public library is your best way of saving a lot of money. A library card is free (just don’t lose it). Since I am living in a rural town, then it really saves me a lot of money in gas since I can do more than just check out books. They have lots of services and many times have clubs that meet. My library also offers classes on different things and not to mention the great kid related activities. Summer reading programs are very popular and many offer rewards for your kids to read. Check with your local branch to see what they offer. With your library card you can check out savings!
FAX/PRINT: I can pay a small fee to have items faxed, sent to me, or print/copy. It’s much cheaper than many places including grocery stores and the post office.
FREE Computers: If I need it, then I can get on the computers for free. Mine has a time of 1 hour per patron as they only have 3 computers. Many times the bigger libraries offer more so no time limit.
FREE DVD RENTALS: I can rent DVD movies and many are new releases! I find a great selection of movies, how to videos, seasons of tv shows, and kid’s movies/cartoons! My library gives me 1 week and the other one 2-3 weeks rental.
FREE Magazines/Newspapers: I can read many of the current magazines for free and my newspaper. They also give me the coupon inserts since they don’t want them. I have also been given older back copies for free as they would just trash them. Handyman magazine is great as diy tips last for years.
Story Time/Kid’s Activities: On weekends and in the summer, they have story time and crafts for the kids. My son loves participating in the summer reading program. Each child receives a free small cheese pizza to a pizza shop for participating. They also get entered into a drawing. He won the grand prize this year which was a $15 gift card to Wal-Mart! If you don’t go to your library then it’s time you check it out.
Naturally you can check out books. Of course libraries can also offer free classes on computers and other things. You just never know what you will discover at the library!
Today’s thrifty living tip is make your own cleaners. You are literally pouring money down the drain along with caustic chemicals. I put vinegar in a small spray bottle to use for counters, the sink, and cutting boards. It disinfects and won’t hurt anyone if ingested including kids and pets. This would also be great for high chairs and cleaning kids toys. I also use vinegar in the toilet bowl and bathroom sinks. Vinegar makes a great fabric softener and disinfects my towels and sheets. To clean vinyl floors I again reach for vinegar. It cleans my floors well and the smell usually goes away within twenty minutes.
For my stove top, I make a paste of baking soda and water. Just be careful not to get it close to the burner openings. I let it sit for 20 minutes, and just remove with a cloth and warm water. I may have to use a little elbow grease on the burnt on stuff, but this usually loosens it up making it easy to clean. There are lots of great recipes on the internet so just google homemade cleaners.
One of the benefits in living a sub-tropical climate is that I can grow vegetables when most of the country is buried under snow. I can grow food year round which helps my food bill plus I am outside in fresh air. I haven’t actually had much of a chance to start planting since it’s rained almost every day for the last two weeks. I’m expanding a little more for the fall season, but not too much so it’s overwhelming. I bought my seeds for baby spinach, green onions, and two variety packs of lettuce. I made sure one variety pack is slow to bolt since we usually have spring weather in late February. My father-in-law is giving me transplants of cabbage and broccoli.
I was very pleased with how well my garden did this past year. I had more than enough cucumbers which I used to make pickles. It was a big hit with our family. I want to learn how to can so I can give dill pickles as gifts. I decided to stagger the seeds so I don’t get so overwhelmed with everything wanting to harvest near the same time. This will be really helpful with the lettuce, cabbage, and spinach plants. My husband is really looking forward to the lettuce since he likes to eat salads in the morning for breakfast. If you live in a snowy climate then use your winter to make gardening plans and looking at seeds.