Saving money & living better while roughin' it old school: Part IV

4.30.2010

Let's talk cloth!

Forewarning: This'll get a little personal. Personal enough that I've spent the better part of writing this article blushing. You've been warned.

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1. Cloth Diapers - There are a lot of reasons that cloth diapering is a good choice to make, but I certainly pass no judgment on those who decide it's not for them. I thought I'd throw that out there first since I have a lot of friends who don't cloth diaper whose feelings I don't want to hurt. I truly believe you're either cut out for it or not. It can be a dirty, stinky game and it's not for the faint of heart. It also requires more time, more water and more patience.

Now that I've gotten the negatives out of the way, let's move on to the goodies. First things first, cloth diapering is FUN! If you talk to a mom who cloth diapers, you will inevitably discover that she has a *slight* addiction to the fluffy butts. Just check this out and tell me it's not the cutest thing you've ever seen!

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Photo from gdiapers

This?

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Meh, no comparison. But, really, do our babies' bums need to be cute? No. It just makes the work worth it. So let's move on to advantage number two.

Some are hesitant to cloth diaper after looking at the prices of these babies. Yes, they're expensive and yes, it's an upfront investment. But even if you go a little crazy for diapers like I have and spend $800 on cloth diapers and accessories, you're saving yourself tons. The average family spends $2000 on disposables for each child. If you cloth diaper through two children and spend $800 on your "stash," you're saving $3200. Now, being realistic, that's not entirely true. There are other costs to consider, such as washing and drying. I usually line dry, which cuts out that cost, but we definitely pay for extra water and detergent. Even so, the resale value on cloth diapers is pretty incredible. So let's say the resale value when you're done cancels out the extra water costs. You can realistically diaper your child in the cheapest option (prefolds), spend no more than $100 - $200 when it's all said and done and come out ahead by $3800 or more. If you have more than two children, you'll continue to see your savings grow, though you may not be able to resell by that point. It really is incredible. I'd much rather spend my money on something both reusable and adorable than blow it on something ugly and kinda uncomfortable.

Just picture this scenario with me for one moment. Someone says to you, "Hey, would you rather wear these paper underwear that you can just throw right away and don't have to wash for $1000, or these soft, plush, luxurious undies that do require washing for $100." No brainer, right? WHY would we spend $900 extra for something uncomfortable that sits in a landfill and pollutes our Earth? Such is cloth diapering.

I think for many, the decision is made simply because that's what people do. I had NO idea that cloth diapering was gaining popularity until I was several months pregnant and a friend of mine started talking to me about it. Even then, I was way too skeptical to consider it an option. I remember thinking, Who cares if they're cute?! I do NOT want to deal with baby poo! Turns out, it really isn't that bad. Sure, we dunk our diapers in the toilet on occasion and I schlep on the ole' yellow gloves to put them in the washer, but that's the extent of the grossness. You can even cut down on the smell almost completely by investing in a nice diaper pail deodorizer that's safe for cloth diapers, such as fluff dust. Just know that there are other options and they really aren't too difficult, time-consuming or stinky. A little, but not much. Also: these ain't your grandma's cloth diapers.

Advantage #3 is the obvious: better for the environment.


Bread is the enemy.

4.29.2010

I was going to write this awesome blog post about how I discovered that store-bought bread is evil and in no way nourishing and that sprouting grains to grind into flour to soak overnight with an acid to knead yourself and then turn into bread is really the way to go. I was going to. But then my friend Jenna wrote a blog post that almost made me pee my pants outlining just how ridiculous all this is getting. I would have to agree that 22 hour bread is pushing my limits.

It's a whole series, in fact, and it's very much worth reading. Start here, then go here and here. You're welcome. She's hilarious.

I'm still making my own toothpaste, though. Just sayin'.

Saving money & living better while roughin' it old school: Part III

4.26.2010

Let's continue on, shall we?

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Homemade Toothpaste

This is probably the first DIY project I completed that left me feeling like super woman. I was like, "Dude, I just made our own toothpaste." Awesome, right? And EASY. I started following the blog Clean several months ago after stumbling upon her toothpaste recipe. She's also the maker of LuSa Organics products - organic goodies for little ones.

Anyway, her recipe seemed simple enough and I loved how it cleared up her daughter's ECC (early childhood caries). Ben's already chipped two teeth and I'm a little concerned about what that means in the long run. Plus, who doesn't want to know exactly what's in their toothpaste and save money? The recipe calls for a few ingredients that I had no problem finding at my local Whole Foods. My only complaint is the hint of a soap taste, but it's minor enough that I can live with it. Plus, both my husband and I were amazed by how clean our teeth felt after our first brushing. Seriously, I felt like I'd just stepped out of the dentist's office without having to go through the torture that is the dentist's office. No need to re-state what she already laid out, so be sure to check it out here.

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Moisturizer/Body Scrub

I like to exfoliate when I can (read: when my child isn't on napstrike) because I have really, really dry skin. So maybe you're not a body scrub type of person, but if so, here's a great recipe courtesy of Keeper of the Home (who, by the way, has an amazing blog).

Body Scrub: Brown Sugar, Honey and Organic Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1-1/2 cups Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/8 cup local, raw Honey
1/4 teaspoon of desired scent options: Homemade Pure Vanilla Extract, Lemon Juice, Lavender essential oil, Fresh ground coffee, Cinnamon or Clove
In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together to form a paste. Add scent if you would like to, but it is not necessary. Store body scrub in a sealed container in your shower or by the sink. No need to refrigerate. To use, scoop some into the palm of your hand and massage skin as needed.
Moisturizer: Believe it or not, coconut oil is fantastic! This was the very first beauty product I replaced and it kind of happened on accident. I started using coconut oil after my friend, Melissa, raved and raved about it. I used it on Ben's diaper area and on his face rash and it really helped - much better than Aquaphor ever did. So one day I slathered some on my arms and POOF: silky skin. As a bonus, it's so deliciously divine smelling that I sometimes want to eat my arm off. I've heard several woman rave about extra virgin olive oil, too, but I love me some coconut so I stick with that. It's nature's moisturizer (and you can use it on your face, too!). If oil isn't your thing, you might want to check out Brambleberry, though I don't know that you'll save any money going this route. But hey, at least you'll have the brag factor of making your own lotion and you'll know what goes in it.
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Lip Balm
The greatest lip balm EVER (seriously) is straight lanolin. Do you remember using lanolin for a certain, hm, ailment you had while breastfeeding? Another product with multiple uses! And the cool thing about lanolin is that it lasts forever. Just squeeze a teeny bit on your lips to do the job. I've had my tube of lanolin since Ben was born and I think I still have at least half the tube left, if not more. A much more natural solution to moisturizing chapped lips.
Another option is this recipe I found but haven't tried yet, also from Keeper of the Home: Mix ¼ c grated beeswax, 2 Tbsp cocoa butter, 3 Tbsp coconut oil and 1 Tbsp almond oil together over low heat. Pour into small containers.
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Make-up remover

I touched on this while explaining the oil cleansing method, but use EVOO as a make-up remover. Works like a charm!
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Shaving cream
Maybe this sounds nuts, but there is no need for shaving cream. EARTH. SHATTERING. Here's a tip: exfoliate your legs with the homemade body scrub first, then lather them up with some bar soap and poof: you've just eliminated the need for one more beauty product in your tub. Girl scout's honor.
What are some homemade recipes you use for beauty products? Am I missing some good ones?
Stay tuned for the cloth discussion up next...

Banana Apple Bread

4.22.2010

FOREWARNING: I just found this post in my drafts tonight. It's two months old and is most certainly not part of my new diet. But it is still heavenly. The end.

This insanely decadent bread recipe comes from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book. I knew it would be both divine and unkind to my waistline. Turns out I was right-on about both. A pound later and I decided it was worth it because this was heavenly.

I've had many variations of banana bread, but good ole' mom's is always best. I'd never heard of pairing apples and banana together in a loaf, but wowee! So let's get down to business, shall we?

Grab these ingredients:

For the apples:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 Granny Smith apples; peeled, cored, and cut into half inch pieces
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


For the banana bread:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons (or one stick) unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
¼ cup fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups very ripe mashed bananas (roughly 3 or 4 depending on size)


First, position a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter and flour a 1 1/2-quart loaf pan.

Preheat a skillet over medium-high heat. First add the butter and let it melt.

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Next, add three tablespoons brown sugar to your pan.

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Heat 'til bubbling. Oh man, YUM.

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Add your two cored, peeled and diced apples and sprinkle on the 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon.

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Sauté until golden and tender, about 5 minutes.

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At this point, you'll probably snatch one or two of these diced apple beauties up and eat them. Go ahead, it's cool. Just be careful; them babies are HOT! I burned my finger.

Stir in the vanilla. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Now let's move on to the bread part. Equally as important just not as yummy smelling.

Grab a medium bowl and add your 2 cups flour.

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Next, dump in the teaspoon of baking soda.

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Then the 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon.

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The 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

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Let's take a brief pause to make fun of my 1/4 teaspoon scoop. Can you see it? Here, let me show you a better picture:

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I have no idea when or how this happened, but I do know that I've had it for four years exactly like this. I suppose I'm so cheap that I can't spend the dollar on a new set. Is that sad? Surely this can't be accurate anymore. ANYWAY.

Next you'll want to add the 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt. I'll spare you the close-up measuring scoop pictures with the blurry background as you're probably laughing behind my back about it by now anyway. Just try to remember that I'm trying my hand at photography and food pictures are FUN! And I have an obsessive personality. Again, ANYWAY. Moving on.

Next, grab your stick of butter and cut it up.

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Throw it in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment and cream it with your cup of granulated sugar until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.

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Add the two eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

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In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup orange juice and one teaspoon of vanilla.
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Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in three batches, alternating with the orange juice mixture, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each flour addition. Are you getting excited? You should be.

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Stir in the mashed banana goodness and mix until combined.

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Then stir in the reserved apples.
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Don't those apples look straight-up ridiculous? I decided that if I had to choose one thing to live off of for the rest of my life, it would be sauteed apples, dripping in butter and cinnamon. I might be really fat, but I'd be happy.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.

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Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes before unmolding onto the rack to cool further.
ENJOY THIS SINFUL DESSERT.
PS - This freezes well. Just make sure to eat it within three or four weeks. Any longer than that and I'd be scared to try it.

Fatty McFaterson

4.20.2010

I've talked about being fat quite a lot, so it should come as no surprise that I'm going to take a whole blog post to talk about fat (and now a lack thereof). Mostly this post is just a gigantic thank you card for my mom, who, on a recent trip to see her in South Carolina, taught me how to finally get rid of my baby weight once and for all. Can you even call it baby weight come your child's first birthday?

My mom spent most of her adult life carrying some extra pounds. Then I told her I was pregnant, and I suppose the realization that she was about to become a grandma really shifted things around in her brain. Suddenly, she was shedding weight like nobody's business. She was running an hour a day, weight lifting, eating healthy and so on. Within a few short months, she shed over 50 pounds. Wow! She looked amazing! As awesome as it was, it was a blow to my ego when she came to visit me in the hospital after having Ben and pictures were taken that looked like this:

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I mean, look at me! She was so skinny that she took my disgusting cow status up ten notches. I remember vowing, while flipping through those pictures, that I was going to lose that baby weight faster than anyone had ever lost it before! By Ben's one week birthday, I think I'd lost 30 of the 40 pounds I'd gained. The problem? I was DIETING. WHILE BREASTFEEDING. I was a humongous idiot, desperate to get back to my pre-baby weight. That resulted in some issues in the milk supply department for which I have always been so upset with myself. So as quickly as I'd started the diet, I stopped. I wanted to provide for my child first and foremost, and even though I was doing the Weight Watchers nursing mothers program, it was clear that I was doing it way too early. So I stayed fat.

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Months and months (and months and months and months) went by after that, and my weight didn't budge. I was up a good ten pounds from pre-baby weight and was really doing nothing about it. I said I was, but I was scarfing down oreos all the while. And then all the non-dieting caught up with me and I was suddenly up SEVENTEEN pounds from pre-baby weight.

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I had to go out and buy new, bigger pants. Yikes. A quick stint on Weight Watchers and I lost those extra seven pounds in time for Ben's first birthday party. I thought I looked pretty good until the pictures surfaced.

As I so often do, I said I was going on a diet and I was going to finally kiss those ten pounds goodbye. But yet again, another three months went by with barely a budge. And then I went to visit my mom.

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She put me on her plan: I figure my daily caloric expenditure using this calculator and choosing "sedentary", then I add the 500-600 calories I burn off in exercise. I then shoot for 70 to 80 percent of that number. Every fourth day I shoot for 90% of that number to avoid plateauing. Of those calories, I stick to a ratio of 15% fat to 55% carbs to 30% protein. It sounds confusing, but she whipped me up a spreadsheet and it was a piece of cake. The best part of this diet is that because you're consuming so many calories (I shoot for about 1500 per day), the weight is lost in a healthy way and, therefore, stays off.

Suddenly, I was losing weight at warp speed. Thirteen pounds later and I now fit into my skinny shorts! I weigh less than I have since HIGH SCHOOL. How rad is that?!

And now, please forgive me for a quick moment of bragging. I hate bragging, but I'm so proud to finally be here and be happy with me! And just in time for our beach trip in a few short weeks.

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Hello, 120s! My, how I've missed you. And thanks, mama!

Saving money & living better while roughing it old school: Part 2

4.13.2010

I'm just going to continue right along with installment two. No fluffy, wordy intro because this post is long enough.

Beauty products/hygiene alternatives: I was a bit taken aback when I first checked out the Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database that I've posted about before. The Environmental Working Group took it upon itself to rate thousands of the products we use on our bodies every day. The ratings span from 0-10, with zero being least toxic and 10 being most. I couldn't believe that the mousse I use on my hair every day was rated a 10 and that the "organic" body wash we were using on Ben was a 3, or a moderate hazard. I set out to find some safer alternatives, and in the process I cut costs, too.

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Photo by Tabiii

Dr. Bronner's is a fabulous line of products. I highly recommend them. I use the baby mild bar soap on Ben and it's not only cheaper than the organic body wash we were using, but it will last longer and is rated a 1 in the Skin Deep Registry. I also switched out my body wash with this bar soap. Read the back of your body wash before you suds up again. Are all those detergents, fragrances and preservatives really necessary? I like to remind myself that just because I'm putting it on my body doesn't mean it won't enter in my body.

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The large containers of Dr. Bronner's pure castile soap are great for frugal families. Not only is the soap safe, it's concentrated, meaning it will last ages. And the even better part? It has too many uses to list. You can use it in place of your body wash (though it's pretty watery), or you can recycle a foaming soap pump (like my Bath & Body Works one, above) into a home for a safer soap. I mixed about equal parts water and soap in my pump and had a rich, moisturizing, yummy smelling hand soap in seconds. You can also use it to clean dishes, wash clothes and more. Some people use it as toothpaste (there is a peppermint version), but I can't brush my teeth with straight soap. I do use a little bit of it, however, in my toothpaste recipe, which I'll share next time.

If you're feeling more adventurous and don't mind the upfront costs associated, you could certainly make your own soap. I would love to do it at some point, but I'm not ready to drop the ball on purchasing the materials needed yet. If anyone here has tried their hand at soap making, I'd love to hear about it!

The No 'Poo Method

My next step was finding a better alternative to shampoo and conditioner. I'd heard about the No 'Poo method before, but I was quite skeptical that stopping my use of shampoo and conditioner would somehow make my hair look better. Forgoing my old standbys for baking soda, water and vinegar? As. If. And then I just bit the bullet one day, tired of struggling to find a safe shampoo that wouldn't land us in the poor house (kind of kidding here). What could be the harm, right? If I hated it, I hated it. End of story. If I liked it, well, then I've saved us money and added another healthy routine into my life. Amazingly, I became a believer in...er...no 'poo. It could use a better name, that's for sure.

The concept is fairly simple. While shampoo does clean, it also strips the scalp of oils that are there for a reason: to protect the hair. Ever wonder why we use conditioner? To fix the damage created by the shampoo. And then we use more products to fix the problems that conditioner leaves in its wake. It's a never-ending cycle.

Baking soda will become your new shampoo. It's the weakest of all alkalines and it gently clarifies the hair. The standard recipe is 1 tablespoon of baking soda to 1 cup of water. Shake it up and you're ready to go. This solution works for me, though you can feel free to tweak it to your own preference depending on your hair type. I keep this solution in an oil & vinegar-type container in the shower. You use it much the same way as shampoo. Apply it to your scalp, massage in and let it naturally clean the ends of your hair as you wash it out. I leave it on for a minute or two before rinsing it. In the beginning, I found myself using tons of this solution because I didn't feel like my hair could possibly get clean any other way. The longer I go, the more I realize that it doesn't take too much to do its job.

Apple cider vinegar will become your new conditioner. You can feel free to skip this part if you don't feel you need it. Apple cider vinegar is a mild acidic and it serves to de-tangle the hair follicles, seal the cuticle and balance the hair's pH balance. I keep mine in a water bottle (squirt-kind) and apply it to the ends only. If you let it get on your scalp or use too much, you might find your hair becomes oily. The standard recipe for this is the same as the baking soda solution: one tablespoon vinegar to one cup water. You can tweak this to your liking, too. If you find your hair is too oily, cut back on the vinegar. If you find your hair is too dry, add a little more.

Many, many people have transition periods when switching to this method where they find their hair is quite oily. The average seems to be a week or two, but I was lucky in that mine was only a few days. This is normal as your body adjusts to the sudden lack of oil-stripping. Remember that it was having to constantly replenish the oil supply in response to shampoo's stripping effect. Cut your scalp some slack. ;)

My final word on the matter of No 'Poo is that it really does work. I still find myself slipping back to my shampoo ways when I long for the "smell good" experience, but my hair looks and feels so much healthier without it!


The Oil Cleansing Method


In short, this method uses oil to clean. Sounds quirky, huh? As well as insane. Who uses oil to clear up acne? Breakouts are actually caused by bacteria, dirt and hormones, not oil. Just like the no 'poo method, the oil cleansing method breaks the cycle of stripping your skin of the oils it needs. Think about it: why would your skin produce oil if it didn't need it? If you use a cleanser, you're stripping away those important oils. And to compensate, your skin produces more oil. This isn't the case for everyone. I have really dry skin, and I discovered that it's dry because I'm stripping away the oil it needs. And I guess my body sucks at replenishing. And I'm a great example to use. I never (as in EVER) had breakouts in high school, but come adulthood, BAM. I think they started around 22, and they got pretty bad. And I don't have oily skin. Okay, point proven. Acne isn't caused by oil.

By cleansing your face with oils (the right ones, of course), you are ridding your pores of the dirt and bacteria that gets trapped there and you're replenishing your skin with helpful, healthy oils that will protect and heal your skin.

Now, where to start? Grab yourself an empty container (a glass jar is nice, just make sure it's thoroughly cleaned each time you refill) and some castor oil and extra virgin olive oil. Castor oil has anti-inflammatory properties and it helps heal and cleanse your skin. But because it's a thick, potent oil, you must balance it out with a thinner oil. I use EVOO (as do many people practicing this method), but I've also heard great things about sunflower seed oil. You can use any natural, cold-pressed vegetable oil that you have in your house. Now, before you decide what ratio you need, you probably want to evaluate your skin type. Those with oily skin typically do best with a ratio of 30% castor oil to 70% EVOO (or other vegetable oil). Those with a balanced skin type (equally oily/dry) do best with a ratio of 20% castor oil to 80% EVOO. Those with dry skin (Me, me!) do best with 10% castor oil to 90% EVOO. As with the no 'poo method, play around with the percentages until you find what works. If your skin is too dry, use less castor oil. Too greasy? Less EVOO.

Now, the brass tacks. Apply a quarter-sized amount of the oil to your face at night and gently massage it in to dry skin. You'll want to massage for about a minute. Hey, this is pampering, folks! Next, soak a washcloth with hot, steamy water. Lay it over your face. A mini-facial! Leave it there until it cools down - room temperature is good. Then wipe the oil away, rinse out the washcloth in hot water again, and again lay it over your face. Let it cool. Voila! Done!

Most people find that this only needs to be done once a day, usually at night. In the morning, a simple splash of water should do. Your skin will become clearer and WILL glow - in a good way! And yes, this method removes make-up. And the best part? Many, many people swear that it clears up acne better than any facewash on the market.

Stay tuned for toothpaste, moisturizer and lip balm next!

Saving money & living better while roughin' it old school: Part I

I've been stewing on this blog post for a long time, but I guess I just haven't felt inspired enough to sit down and spend the time writing it. But then my friend Jenna wrote this awesome post about the modern mama, giving me the inspiration I needed to get this accomplished. After working on it for a few weeks, I decided it's probably best to break it down into installments. If I try to publish the whole thing in one swoop, I'm likely to lose all but maybe three of you awesome readers. So, without further adieu, I present installment one of Saving money & living better while roughin' it old school.

Months and months ago I decided to become aware of our finances. In other words, I wanted to find out where our money was going and where our budget could be scaled back. That's when I started cutting coupons. But even so, I was still spending way too much money. Why? Convenience, convenience, convenience. What can't you get nowadays that's as ready-to-go as possible? We don't even have to clean our own showers anymore! Scrubbing Bubbles does it for us!

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All that convenience comes at a steep price. I've been on quite the health kick since becoming a mom. And becoming a mom to a "sensitive" child kicks up my desire for an organic home a notch or ten. How am I to make our home and food healthier while slashing bills?

I suppose my friend Claire must be tuned into my inner thoughts because around the same time I was contemplating all of this, she sent me this link to a recipe for liquid laundry detergent that's touted for helping clear up eczema. Cheap, easy, better for the environment AND better for Ben?! What was this gold mine I'd stumbled upon? Oh, right. It all boils down to my new philosophy on life: do things the way they used to be done. Rough it like an old school housewife! Sure, we've made some great advancements in the past few decades, but when it comes to things like parenting and running a household, I tend to believe that getting back to the basics is where it's at. That day, I realized that it was quite possible to replace almost all of our convenience purchases with homemade alternatives while slashing costs, having fun and feeling like a productive housewife (I use that term on purpose; more on that another day). I'm not going to try to reinvent the wheel or take credit for anything below, because I can't. These aren't new ideas by any stretch of the imagination! Quite the contrary, they're old ideas making a big, big comeback.

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Photo from blogthecoast

1. Gardening. This is sort of a no-brainer and something I'd already planned on doing long before I became "green", but it's at least worth a small shout-out. Grow your own food! Save yourself loads of money! Know exactly what your food is comprised of! A few of my favorite gardening sites/articles are all the Gardening 101 articles on Simple Organic, You Grow Girl and Square Foot Gardening.

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2. Give up the bleach & other toxic no-no's! When I found this post on homemade cleaners, I was over-the-moon excited! About two months ago, I said goodbye to Green Works, Windex and the last of my bleach and replaced them with a 50/50 solution of vinegar & water (all-purpose), a 50/50 solution of hydrogen peroxide and water (disinfectant - spray it right after your vinegar/water solution to kill germs and bacteria as well as bleach) and some baking soda (scouring agent). I highly recommend reading the link I posted to learn how best to use these cleaning products. Not only does this work as well or better than everything I was using, but it's insanely cheap. If you're afraid of the vinegar smell like I was, don't be; it doesn't smell once it's dried. Finally, let's discuss streaky mirrors and windows. Take your old, empty Windex spray bottle, fill it with 2 cups water, 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol and VOILA, you've got a glass cleaner your child could accidentally drink and you'd be all, "Drink up, babe!" An age-old trick is to use newspaper rather than paper towels to get it sparkling.

For laundry detergent, see the link I posted at the top of this article (here) or try this recipe a friend gave me: 1 cup borax, 1 cup washing soda and 2 cup finely grated ivory soap. Use 2 tablespoons per load. There are thousands of other recipes a quick google search will turn up, too.

Now the one area I haven't dabbled in yet is homemade dishwashing detergent. I love, love, love my Biokleen automatic dish powder and haven't heard many good reviews on a homemade one that actually works. But, if you feel like being adventurous, I have a friend who recommended this one. I do feel very strongly about using phosphate and chlorine-free dishwashing detergent that's organic and safe. Have you ever taken a sip of your child's sippy cup that's been washed in a dishwasher? It's disgusting! It tastes like the detergent. I've also heard many studies that claim one of the biggest chemicals found in the liver during autopsies are the chemicals in dishwashing detergent. I believe it!

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Photo from Amazon

For the toughest grime (think toilet rings, really dried-on stove messes, etc.), I've found stainless steel scrubbers to be amazing! They're cheap, too. Amazon has a two-pack for around $2.80 here. You can reuse them, too, by disinfecting in the dishwasher. Bonus!

Mopping your floors? Another cheap breeze! Long ago, I bought a mop similar to the Swiffer disposable but it's reusable and meant mostly for wood floors. It looks like this and I got it at the Dollar Store for El Cheapo:

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I bought a few extra cloth pads so I have a clean one at any given time. I was using this harsh-smelling "special formula" spray for cleaning my wood floors until about a month ago. And then it dawned on me that I bet I could use...what do you know...VINEGAR! I looked up some articles that confirmed that the vinegar/water mix is, indeed, safe on wood floors, and ever since I've been toting around my handy all-purpose homemade mix spray bottle and cleaning all the floors in my house this way. Easy. As. Pie.

Stick around for info about beauty products & food, up next!

So long, coupons.

4.12.2010

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Sheesh, I can't keep up with this blog anymore. I can't believe there was ever a time when I blogged multiple times a day!

I have a few posts in the works, but they're taking forever between all our time outdoors, family visiting and spring cleaning. Also, who forgot to tell me how much work a toddler is?! WOW!

I've really gotten away from my coupon posts lately (okay, okay, MUCH MORE than gotten away - they don't exist). Mostly because we've completely switched gears in this house. After stewing on this for a long, long time and finally convincing hubs to watch Food, Inc. with me, we are transitioning to a completely different lifestyle. One that's sure to be filled with trips to the farm, weekly farmer's market dates and lots of time at Whole Foods. I found that living a "coupon" way of life lends itself to living less healthily and spending way too much time focused on cheap foods, not whole foods. But in staying true to my frugal roots, I have found a way to make this (very) expensive lifestyle work for us, and most of it involves getting back to an old-fashioned way of living. I'm so excited to share it all, but it's a work in progress. Stay tuned!

Ah, and now, my nap-revolting toddler beckons.

Who needs the internet when the weather is beautiful?!

4.05.2010

I've been noticeably missing online lately, I know. I can't help myself! The weather is so beautiful, I never want to sit inside!

Easter was fabulous! It was beyond cool to see Ben scout out some eggs at an Easter Egg hunt and get excited about his Easter basket. It amazes me every day how quickly he grows and changes. This is, by far, my favorite age.

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Hope everyone had an awesome Easter!
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