The Complete Tightwad Gazette

tightwadOur financial situation has changed quite a bit over the last several years.  We’ve had to tighten our belts, loosen them a bit, tighten them again, and just when we thought things were getting better we had to tighten more.

I’ve pulled out The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn to re-read.  It’s a compilation of the bygone newsletter The Tightwad Gazette.  The book is a bit outdated, and while everything she presents in her book may not apply, the book itself can be a good read to find ideas to apply to your situation and put you into the frugal mind set to come up with your own ideas. It’s one of the books I think everyone could benefit from reading.

Amy’s personality made being frugal fun, not drudgery.  Her wisdom and experience really helps you refocus the way you see things.  One of the things I like about this book is all the creative ideas for repurposing.  I have to be careful, I have a tendency to save everything thinking it could be useful one day. lol

The book also has recipes.  Here is a recipe we like from The Complete Tightwad Gazette for Bean-Bacon Chowder (just in time for fall!) I make my own versions of this quite a bit.

Bean-Bacon Chowder

6 slices bacon, cut up
1 cup chopped onion
2 tbsp flour
3 cups milk
2 medium potatoes, peeled
1/4 tsp crushed dried thyme
1 22-oz jar of baked beans or substitute homemade
1/4 cup snipped parsley

Cook bacon and onion in a saucepan until bacon is lightly browned and onion is tender. Blend in flour. Add milk; cook and stir until bubbly. Dice potatoes; add with thyme, 1 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp. pepper. Cover and simmer 12 to 15 minutes or till the potatoes are done. Stir in beans and heat through. Top with parsley. Serves six.

Genesis 41:35-36 – And let them gather all the food of those good years that are coming, and store up grain under the authority of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities. Then that food shall be as a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which shall be in the land of Egypt, that the land may not perish during the famine.

Recipe: Pancakes from Scratch

pancakerecipe1aMy grandmother’s cookbook. Even though the copyright is 1946 (the year before my mother was born) I use it often.  The pages are a bit brittle and yellowed, the cover is loose…but it is always the first place I look for recipes.

THIS is my main pancake recipe.  So versatile, I switch it up using fruit, seasonings, make it for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  We actually have these more for dinner than breakfast.  By request.  Hubby loves pancakes. I also use almond or coconut milk since I’m not supposed to have dairy and I use honey instead of sugar.  And pancakes pancakes1aare frugal too.

Honestly, homemade pancakes don’t take much longer to make than boxed pancakes and taste so much better in my humble opinion.  And the fresher your ingredients, the better they taste.  And did I mention they are frugal?

Here is the recipe for you:

pancakes2aSWEET MILK GRIDDLE CAKES

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups milk
1 egg
1 tablespoon melted shortening

Mix and sift flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar.  Add milk, well-beaten egg, and shortening and mix well.  Drop by tablespoons on a hot griddle, greased well, and brown on both sides.  Serve hot with marmalade or honey.

I’d love to hear about your favorite pancake recipe, and if you try this one, I’d love to hear how you like it.  Until next time…grace and peace!

John 6:47-50 
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life.  Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead.  This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die.

Prepper? Homesteader? Survivalist? Other?

Other.  Really.  Well, for me anyway.

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Making slippers for Christmas gifts.

I’ve always been on the frugal side.  Sometimes more frugal, sometimes less.  Much of what I’ve done is just what I had learned growing up.  I’ve also always been interested in the outdoors, gardening, camping, hiking, farming etc.  Growing up in the city didn’t give me many opportunities for farming, but I really enjoyed any chance to be outside with nature and camping/hiking became one of my favorite activities.

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Celebrating my birthday with my great-grandmother…a homemade cake and homemade party hats.

I heartily understand the philosophy behind prepping and I agree with most of it.  I don’t feel like I need to live barricaded in militarized zone with 30 years of food and supplies put up in my hidden armored bunker.  If you do, that’s fine.  I do feel that as the manager of my home I need to be as prepared as possible to care for my family in what ever situation comes our way.  We live in crazy, fragile times.  But I firmly believe that the extreme form of prepping goes against what the Bible teaches.  The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, to take care of the orphans and widows, feed the hungry, visit prisoners.  It doesn’t say only do these things when times are good and stop when “stuff” hits the fan.  I will do my best for my family, but together we serve God first.

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Canning grape jam.

I would love to be a homesteader.  Living off the land is hard, hard work, but can be so rewarding.  We live in town on a small lot, and while I do a lot of things that homesteaders do, I wouldn’t classify myself as a real homesteader.  But again, a lot of these things I do I learned growing up.  For example: I learned gardening…organic gardening…from my grandfather.  In the big city.  I learned to make things by hand from my mother and great-grandmother.   I learned to be frugal from my grandmother…like using old clothing (read: underwear) to mop the floors and putting left over bread that is starting to stale in the freezer to use in the future for stuffing.  When I moved out on my own, I appreciated the farmers market that was right across the street, and I found out first hand how practical being frugal was.

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The garden goes all the way to the wood fence.

All these things became very real for our family when my husband lost his job a while back.  This area of Indiana suffered a great blow with many automotive, trailer and RV manufacturers laying people off or closing.  Hubby’s company closed and sent the work elsewhere.  Not being burdened by lots of debt and having a well stocked pantry got us through the hard times when many others were going under.  Not only were we able to keep our heads above water, but we didn’t have to rely on any assistance, food or utility programs.  And even then, we were able to help out others when they needed it.  I’m not saying it didn’t hit us hard because it did.  Only now are we starting to get caught up on things that we had to put off during that time (like getting our roof fixed, buying a stove with a working oven, getting a “new” running vehicle after both of ours broke down.)  But being frugal, prepared and doing as much with our land as we could, we made it through when many others didn’t.

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Curing onions in the garage.

So I guess you can classify me under what ever category you would like.  I’m not prepping for any zombie apocalypse, but for real life circumstances for my family and those around me.  I’m not living on an off grid homestead with livestock, but we are trying to live more sustainable where we are.  If you asked me what I would call it…I would call it living Proverbs 31.  Regardless of what circumstances arise, my main responsibility is to God first, then my family and my home, and then helping others as I can.

Matthew 25:34-40 – Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

Frugal Friday: Homemade Liquid Hand Soap

15-06-26liquidsoap1One of my favorite bar soaps is a goats milk soap I get from a local store.  When they get down to a sliver, instead of throwing them away I’ve been saving in a zip bag.  There are also a few Ivory soap bar slivers in the bag as well.  Now I’m making a very easy and frugal liquid hand soap.  You don’t have to wait until you have a bag of soap slivers saved up, you can buy your favorite bar soap to shred to make the liquid soap.  Castile is one of the more popular soaps to use, however Dove is one of the few bar soaps that doesn’t really work well with this recipe.

15-06-26liquidsoap2The basic recipe I’m using is 8 ounces of bar soap to 1 gallon of water.  I made mine today with 4 ounces of shredded bar soap and 2 quarts of water.  There are lots of recipes out there and the amounts are generally the same.

The instructions are simple.  Bring your water to a boil.  Shred your soap, remove water from heat and add soap.  Stir until all the soap is melted.  Let cool 12-24 hours.  Once the soap is all melted in the water you can add lotion, vitamin E, coconut oil, essential oil…what ever you like.  I added a tbsp. of coconut oil.  I like to wait until the soap mixtu15-06-26liquidsoap3re is cooled some before adding anything like that because I want to preserve all as much of the health benefits of the ingredients as I can.  Some people also like to add glycerine to the mixture (2 tbsp. per gallon.) That’s up to you, it works just fine without it.   Once the soap is completely cooled it should gel.  Just mix it with a whisk or use a blender to loosen it up enough to pour.  Pour into your waiting recycled pump dispensers and the soap is ready to use.  Use a pretty soap dispenser and homemade label and you have a great gift!

Have you tried making your own liqu15-06-26liquidsoap4id soap?  What is your favorite bar soap to use?

1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Laundry Tips

It’s a beautiful day outside. The sun is shining, the sky is mostly clear, birds are chirping away, and there is a wonderful breeze blowing through the windows. A perfect day for hanging laundry outside. I’m starting to get behind again…nothing says love more than clean underwear, right?   I have jeans going right now.

I took this picture a while ago of a local Amish clothes line here locally…I need one of those! lol

laundry

Anyway, I was sitting here thinking about saving time and money with my laundry. Here are some thoughts of things I have done, or plan on doing:

* Reduce the amount of clothes that we have. I know that I don’t need as much as I have….even though I recently donated two large garbage bags, I know I can clean out even more.  I’m thinking minimal.

* Wear things more than once. Growing up if our clothes weren’t dirty (or weren’t too dirty) we wore them again…especially pants. That might not work well with babies, but certainly can with older children and us adults. Undershirts can help with hubby’s that wear dress shirts to work.

* Use bath towels more than once. This would work if I can only get our son to hang his up when he’s done.  lol

* I taught my son to do his own laundry from a young age. He may have needed lots of help at first, but at 15 he is a pro at it now and even hangs it out on the line.

* I read somewhere that washing and drying most things inside out helps them last longer.  I haven’t done that as I am almost compulsive about making sure things are right side out before they are washed.

* Take the time to pre-treat stains as close to the time they happen as possible….and take the time to use bibs, napkins and aprons. I have more experience with stains ruining my own clothes that I really want to admit.

* Wash as much as you can in cold water. The only thing I wash with hot water are whites.

* Soaking your whites in the washer overnight helps keep them whiter without using bleach. Just load normally, add your detergent and turn it off as soon as it begins to agitate…then turn it back on in the morning to finish. I hear adding lemon juice while it soaks helps too, but I haven’t tried that yet.

* A half cup of white vinegar is a great fabric softener…and much cheaper.

* Hang clothes out on the line instead of using the dryer. This is a lot easier when there isn’t a winter storm outside and the temps are below freezing.  Or it’s raining.  So if you have the room inside, you could also hang things inside too…which could also help with the indoor humidity in the winter months. Just fluff them in the dryer if they are too stiff.

* If you use dryer sheets, cut them in half. They work just as well and they’ll last twice as long.

That is all I can think of. Do you have any other frugal laundry ideas to share? I’d love to hear them. 🙂

Psalm 51:1-2
Have mercy upon me,
O God,According to Your lovingkindness;
According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
Blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.

This is cute, I got it in an email quite a while ago:

A Recipe For Washing Clothes

Years ago, a grandmother gave the new bride the following recipe for washing clothes. It appears below just as it was written, and despite the spelling, has a bit of philosophy. This is an exact copy as written and found in an old scrap book (with spelling errors and all).

1. Bilt fire in backyard to heat kettle of rain water.

2. Set tubs so smoke wont blow in eyes if wind is pert.

3. Shave one hole cake of lie soap in bilin water.

4. Sort things, make 3 piles. 1 pile white, 1 pile colored, 1 pile work britches and rags.

5. To make starch, stir flour in cool water to smooth, then thin down with bilin water.

6. Take white things, rub dirty spots on board, scrub hard, and then bile. Rub colored don’t bile, just rinch and starch.

7. Take things out of kettle with broomstick handle, then rinch, and starch.

8. Hang old rags on fence.

9. Spread tea towels on grass.

10. Pore rinch water in flower bed.

11. Scrub porch with hot soapy water.

12. Turn tubs upside down.

13. Go put on clean dress, smooth hair with hair combs. Brew cup of tea, drink it and rock a spell and count your blessings.

I’m off to reboot my laundry, pour another cuppa coffee and count my blessings!

Raising Your Meat – Frugal or Cheap?

DSCF0326Having a sustainable homestead with animals has always been one of my dreams.  But there is nothing stopping us or anyone else with a dream like that from learning and practicing practical, frugal and sustainable homestead living right now where we are.  Think of all the skills we’ll have when that dream is fulfilled one day.

It seems to me, though, that a lot of people have such a romanticized vision of what farming or homesteading is that they are actually unprepared or disillusioned when they actually try to do it.  It is a long term way of life and the results are not instant.  There is a lot to learn and it is a lot of work. And while you skip a day in the garden, there is no slacking, time off, snow days or sick days when it comes to the well being of your animals who depend on you. The blog Walking In High Cotton has a good post about “Is Raising Your Own Meat Really Frugal?

While it is a good and very needed post, I think I would answer a little differently.  Yes, it can be very frugal. It isn’t cheap.

DSCF0063One thing that I have learned from trial and error is that there is a big difference between cheap and frugal.  Farming, homesteading, or sustainable living is not cheap at all.  But it can be frugal.  Living cheap is all about the short term, squeezing the life out of every penny regardless of who or what it might effect.  Living frugally is thinking long term, being careful with spending, even if it means spending a bit more to get better, lasting quality.  Living cheap expects instant benefits, living frugal plans for the long term rewards.  Living cheap is easy, living frugal (farming or not) is work.

It certainly can be frugal raising your own animals for meat if you are willing to put the work into it. If you are looking to do it because you want cheap, it certainly isn’t for you.

I’m Not Ready For Winter!!

winter3Practically we are ready, emotionally I am not.  I woke up this morning and I just can not get warm.  Not freezing outside yet, but 40F is close enough.  Very tempting to just turn up the thermostat.  Instead I grabbed my slippers and bathrobe.

With all the extra fees and service charges, gas it much more expensive than electricity.  And electricity isn’t cheap.  We do not have a wood stove (we have a manufactured home and can’t because of zoning and insurance) nor do we have a fire place.  So being the manager of my home, I need to find ways to stay warm frugally.

There are lots of tips to stay frugally warm in the winter: Turn down the thermostat, wear more layers of clothes, heat only the rooms you are using, wear warm pajamas to bed and use flannel sheets etc.  We also like to heat up homemade rice bags and stick them in the beds by our feet at night.

Another thing is to take advantage of cooking and baking.  Baking bread or making soup are great ways to add a little more heat to your home.

lampI also like to light oil lamps in the winter.  While they don’t put out a whole lot of heat, they do make me feel warm and cozy.

One of the more practical things we can do to stay frugally warm this winter is to make sure your furnace filter is changed/cleaned. If your filter is dirty, your furnace has to work harder to heat your home costing you more money. Check it at least once a month.

It’s a little thing, but all the little things together make a big difference!  What are your favorite frugal tips to stay warm in the winter?