Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Signing off

Next month I would have been blogging for one year. Its been so great sharing this first year of extreme frugality with you. I'm been so overwhelmed by how many people have chosen to read my blog. I never thought it would be so popular. Mostly, I just thought my mom would read it. :)

As I'm sure you've noticed, I haven't been as into blogging lately. I've needed to spend more time taking care of myself, my family, and my career.  However, with work, homeschooling, raising kids, building a business, earning a PhD (yes, I'm working on that too!), and producing income, I've decided that blogging just doesn't fit into my life anymore.

I am so grateful to have had an audience to write about my frugal lifestyle. I hope you continue on your own journey of frugality with much success. There are so many great authors, blogs, and resources out there for the frugal woman or man. I leave you with what I am reading right now to support my own continued journey of frugality:

Native Style Cookery is an ebook by Ayida Honor. Ayida's book is a vegan, soy-free, from-scratch book. It calls for ingredients that I have or am able to get easily. The recipes are fairly easy to replicate and are a hit with the family--even picky children.

I've read a lot of vegan cookbooks and often I feel like they all essentially contain the same recipes. This is not true of the Native Style Cookery book. Her book is full of unique recipes and I'm so glad she shared it with me!

Jeff Yeager is my ultimate cheapskate hero. He has written four books in total: The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches, Don't Throw that Away, How to Retire the Cheapskate Way, and The Cheapskate Next Door.

While I really encourage the reading of Dave Ramsey's books and find his work to be invaluable for those trying to make a budget for the first time, Jeff Yeager's philosophies much more closely resemble my own. Yeager believes being cheap is a greener, happier, and healthier way to live. He is down to earth and he gives advice that makes sense for my life and the way I live. I love him for that!

So, that's what I'm reading.

With that, I bring my blogging days to a close. Take care and many blessings to you and yours. Thank you so much for reading.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye Review

In researching fluoride, I came across Dr. Ellie's website. She explained the differences between natural occurring fluoride and synthetic fluoride (the kind that is a byproduct of pesticides). I had never understood that about fluoride before and so I continued to read her website, hoping to learn more.

So, I wrote to Dr. Ellie and ask her to send me a free copy of her book, "Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye", in exchange for an honest review on my blog. Her book claims that with the proper oral health regime you can actually eliminate your need for a dentist completely! This program claims it can do things like repair cavities. I was very intrigued and excited to learn from a professional especially after my baking soda toothpaste disaster.

Dr. Ellie immediately wrote me back and said the book was on its way. When I received her package, I couldn't believe it! She sent me the book as well as everything else I would need for her program! I was blown away and excited to get started!

I learned so much from this book about dental health! Its a very interesting read!

After using the program for almost two months, I have to say that I love it! I think Dr. Ellie's program has totally strengthened my tooth enamel  and made my teeth whiter and stronger. I no longer have tooth sensitivity of any kind and I know it is the result of this program! I'll definitely continue to use this system.  I have no doubt that Dr. Ellie's system is frugal--especially since she tells you how to repair your own cavities and avoid needing most dental work altogether! Amazing!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

5 Minute Kid Connection Ideas

As I'm sure you've noticed, I've been away from my blog for a while. Although I'll talk more about why later, part of the reason is because I've needed to take some time to focus on my family and our needs. Budgeting time is even more important to me than budgeting money. Because of that, I'm excited to share the following guest post is by Kassandra Brown, author of Parent Coaching Services.

My husband and I were talking yesterday about how we’d like to have more space from our children. We want to hang out, have dates, and be adults without interruption. Then it hit us – in addition to better boundaries to get space from our two girls, we also need to look at how to connect more deeply with them. Once they feel us wanting to play with them, they are more likely to be content to give us space. Here’s the list we brainstormed to help ourselves and our friends connect more easily with our girls. Each one is designed to be free take five minutes or less. But beware! You might find yourself having more fun than you expected and wanting to play longer. 

5 Minute Kid Connection Ideas
  • Read a Kids Book aloud. Talk about the pictures.
  • Tell a story from your imagination or memory. Cut yourself some slack. It doesn’t have to be publishable.
  • Play pretend.  Chase games, low on the scary high on the adult awkwardness, are especially fun.
  • Eat some raisins together
  • Draw or color
  • Take a walk to see what’s growing outside. Offer the names of plants you know.
  • Offer piggyback rides
  • Chase a child with a sweeper mop. Don't catch her. Dramatically fail to catch her. Try again.
  • Make a fort. A blanket and two chairs go up very quickly.
  • Swing in a hammock together.
  • Turn on some music and dance together. Follow the child’s lead.
  • Sew, weave, knit, or braid. Friendship bracelets from leftover yarn can be braided very quickly.
  • Play in sand, mud, dirt. Even girls who normally like to stay clean can really enjoy getting dirty - especially when invited by an adult.
  • Play in sprinklers or the hose on a hot day.
  • Resist the urge to always prioritize talking with grown-ups. Sometimes talk with and play with the children even if there is an adult nearby you'd like to engage.
  • When sweeping, offer the fun of playing jump over the broom handle by laying it on or close to the floor.
  • Pick a bouquet of wildflowers and give it to someone
  • Turn a jump rope. Invite other kids and adults to join in the skipping.
  • Pick berries
  • Do some mental math. Start easy and see what they ask for.
  • Play catch with something soft. Rolled up socks are good.
  • Invent an Activity

This guest post was written by Kassandra Brown who offers support, love, and guidance at www.parentcoaching.org. Kassandra says “Although direct conversation can be great once children are warmed up, it is often not an easy a place to get started.”  A unique discount  - not available to the general public - can be found by visiting http://parentcoaching.org/budgetingwiththebushmans

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Possum Living Book Review

Several people had recommended a book to me called Possum Living: How to Live Well Without a Job and with (Almost) No Money.  It was written in 1978 by a 18 year old who goes by the name Dolly Freed. It is about how she and her father lived with no "real" job between them in a house they bought for cash. Their living expenses were just a couple of hundred dollars each year and they covered those by doing the rare odd job for money. They raised their own meat, had a huge garden, did not own a car, etc. in order to accomplish such frugal living.

In reading Dolly's book, I had the experience that many of my readers may have had when they first came across my blog: "How can they live on so little? Are they crazy?" If you thought I was extreme, you won't believe some of Dolly's advice!

Possum Living  has a lot of information in it that I was unable/uninterested in applying to my own life. For example, Dolly raised and killed her own meat. She goes into very specific detail about how to kill and skin rabbits and other animals. Since I don't eat meat, this didn't interest me much. The other thing Dolly talked about that didn't apply to me was distilling her own alcohol. I have no need to make hard liquor and my understanding was that it is illegal to do so. However, if you are someone who is interested in these things, Dolly's level of detail about them would be helpful indeed.

Having mentioned the things that didn't apply to me, I can honestly still say I enjoyed the book. I agreed with Dolly's frugally philosophies almost entirely. I liked how she understood the importance of not spending money, even at a young age. I was inspired her story and it opened me up to the possibility that even if I lost my job, I might still be able to etch out a way of survival for myself and my family. For me, that was a  really, really empowering!

Here are my favorite quotes from the book and good examples of Dolly's way of thinking:

"It’s easier to learn to do without some of the things that money can buy than to earn the money to buy them." (p. 32)

"Television is like a loud salesman in your living room. Sometimes he's interesting, frequently he's embarrassing, and always he's trying to sell you stuff." (p.213-214)

"Many people . . .won't raise their own meat. But someone had to kill the animals you buy in the store. People who will buy meat but won't kill their own are being hypocritical, its seems to me. If you're not a vegetarian, kill your own meat--don't hire someone else to do it." (p. 41)

Thanks to the author of the book for providing me with a free copy in exchange for a review on my website.

What's your favorite frugal living book? Do you have a book about extreme frugality that you'd like me to review?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

How to Make Almond Milk

Almond milk is very easy to make. Since we buy our almonds in bulk, it is also fairly cost effective. To make my almond milk go further, I sometimes mix it in a 1:1 ratio with banana milk. This makes for a winning combination!

 Here's what you'll need to make almond milk:

4 cups water
1 cup almonds
liquid sweetener

The night before, put 1 cups of almonds into a pitcher with 4 cups of water. Let it soak overnight in the fridge.

The next day pour the water with almonds in it, into a blender. Puree on high speed until the almonds become pulp-like.

Pour the mix through a tight weaved strainer and into your pitcher. Set the almond pulp aside.*

My almond pulp
Add 1 tsp vanilla and 1/8 cup liquid sweetener, or to taste. Stir. Enjoy!

That's all there is to it!

*Don't let that almond pulp go to waste! Use it to make some banana nut muffins or cookies!

GREAT READER QUESTION: Is it really cost effective to make your own almond milk? 
For us, yes. We can buy almonds from our bulk supplier for $21 for 5 pounds, or $4.20/pound. There are 3 cups of almonds in each pound. Therefore, this recipe contains about $1.40 of almonds and makes a half pitcher. It costs about $3 at my local store for about the same amount in a small carton. And don't forget: I still had the almonds to use in baking so really, I got to use them twice for the price. :)

So, what do you think? Would it be cheaper for you to make or buy almond milk? What if you cut it with banana milk?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

I'll be honest with you: Storebought dishwasher detergent works best. In fact, my favorite kind is Seventh Generation. Both their powder and liquid are exceptional. However, I am too cheap to buy them. So, I make my own. I've tried A LOT of homemade dishwasher detergent recipes and most of them stink. Here's the best one I know of:


1/4 cup Castile soap 
1/4 cup water 
1 tsp lemon juice 
1/4 cup salt 

Put in a container and shake. This recipe will not clump like Borax-based recipes!

(This recipe makes a small amount so that you can see if you like it before creating a huge batch.)

Instead of rinse aid, use vinegar.

Photo credit: Jeremy Zawodny
When I don't want to bother with making up a batch of the homemade dishwasher liquid above I use one TINY squirt of dish soap and a three TBS of vinegar. (You can also use bleach instead of vinegar, depending on your comfort level with that.) This seems to work pretty well in a pinch. You have to be careful with the dish soap though. If you put in more than a tiny squirt, you will have suds everywhere.

What's your favorite dishwasher detergent? Have you ever made your own?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

How to Make Peanut Sauce

My friend introduced me to peanut sauce and I am in love! Its very easy to make and is full of healthy ingredients. I like to eat it in the following ways
  • As a veggie dip, especially for carrots and celery
  • As a spring roll dip
  • As a stir fry sauce
  • On sandwiches, pita bread or crackers
I've only been eating it for about a month so I'm sure there are many other ways to enjoy it. In fact, I've yet to have it on anything that I didn't enjoy!

Here's how you make it:

Mix the following in a saucepan

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup water
1/2 cup vinegar
1/4 cup Braggs, soy sauce or tamari
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 tsp cayenne
Sriracha or other hot sauce to taste

Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Once it begins to thicken, remove from heat.

This makes a generous amount of sauce--enough for one family dinner of stir fry, or for veggie dip for the whole week.

Peanut sauce and spring rolls
I enjoyed my peanut sauce as a dip for spring rolls. To make the spring rolls, I bought the rice paper wrappers from the store. (They cost about $5 and come in a huge pack of 50 or so.) You get them wet and then roll your ingredients in them. These spring rolls contain sauteed tofu and onions, raw cabbage, and raw shredded carrots. Yum!

 Have you ever had peanut sauce? Does anyone else believe that Sriracha is the ultimate condiment?
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