Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Free Sample anyone?

Okay so about a month ago I got into Free Samples/Cuponing.

I haven’t done much couponing yet but I have jumped in feet first to the Samples. I’ll post a list below of my favorite links. 

I have found that Facebook is a great site for free samples. Most have you like the product or the company and then fill out a simple form. Others you take a survey or watch a video and answer questions. 


You do have to pay attention some samples are full size and others are sample or 1 time trial size. That and they have a tendency to go fast!

I figure if I spend an hour a day requesting samples it may pay off.

So here’s what I have received so far. (not what I have requested.. these have actually hit my house :)

Full Size Products:

Full Size of Tide Stain booster and a 1 load trial of Tide Acti lift and $2.00 Coupon (This was on Facebook and if you fill out the survey after using it you are entered in a sweepstakes for more free product and a washer and dryer)

Pro Glide Razor (Hubby Loves this surprise!)

Always Pads and Tampons

Carefree liners

Swiffer duster

Truck drivers magazine


1 Coupon for a free package of Jiff Single Serve

2 Coupon for 1 fre 12.6 oz bottle of Panteen

I know there was something else from Procter and Gamble but can’t remember what it was

Sample Size:

Shampoo and Conditioner X10

Perfume x5

Lotion X 8

Misc other X 40

I plan on updating this as I go so we can see weather this really pays off or not… If anyone has any other great freebie sites let me know.

On Facebook check these pages out! They give updates through out the day of free samples available and of those only available for a limited time.

The Frugal Family   (Also on Facebook)

FreeFlys (On Facebook)

Coupon Pro

I’ll add more as I find them.


To add to this… it is fun to receive free stuff in the mail almost every day!  My Hubby keeps asking what’s next LOL

No More Microwave

So this week after deep cleaning a lot of my kitchen I started thinking about our microwave. Do we really need it? How much power does it use? Is it good for us? So I started looking into it more.

After reading a few of the other blogs I follow who have actually tested their power consumption with their Microwave the consensus is that they do zap a lot of power. Then if you add in that ours cooks funny and always takes at least 5 minutes to warm up 1 plate and their are 5 of us. Why not use the stove and get them all warmed up at once?

Microwave products are not my favorite. Most have a ton of additives. Not to mention they are more expensive then making it yourself.

So do we really need this big piece of electricity hogging equipment?

My thought is no. My hubby is a little on the edge with this idea. So instead of getting rid of the microwave completely we have put it on a shelf in our laundry room that we don’t use. After 6 months we’ll see how many times we’ve pulled it off the shelf. I have a feeling it will be never but we’ll wait and see.  So far we’ve gone a week with out using it. If after a month it’s never been used we’ll either donate it or trash it.

(I forgot to post this.. oops! We have been microwave free for 2 months! We only took it out 1 time and honestly it wasn’t worth the work of hauling it into the kitchen :)    Honestly I think our food tastes better and doesn’t get over cooked as fast!  (ecept when someone forget to set a timer :)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Super Crunchy Home Canned Pickles?? No Way!!

I have had an aversion to home canned pickles.. I honestly could NOT stand them. Most of the time they tasted like sour mush.  Last Year I did a ton of research and have found an almost always (so far every batch has been perfect, but I know at least one will flop this year it’s a given LOL) way to get that crunchy Pickle.

1st always cut off the blossom end even if your doing spears. Most sights say this has some enzyme in it that can make your pickles soft.

#2 and a big step. Take your cut up Cucumber, Onions, Peppers, Garlic and even dill if you want place these in a bowl. Mix in canning salt and Ice. I use my hands and mix Ice and salt all the way through and then cover with ice again. Let this sit for 2 hours on the counter covered with a clean cooking cloth (I have dedicated ones for food use only).

#3 after 2 hours rinse off with cold water and remove any left over ice.

#4 pack these in jars and cover with your brine. Water bath or pressure cook for recipes recommended time and you should get a good Crunchy Pickle

Never Heard of this before? What would it hurt to try it with one batch? I know I’ll never do it a different way again!

Back to the blog!

Okay so I've been away for a while.. I miss blogging but everything around here has been going non stop. The girls are back in school so I am hoping to get caught up and dedicate at least a half hour a day to make this what I want it to be... I have so many cool and  exciting posts and recipes to get up and going along with pictures!  So please bare with me on this as I start to flood the news feed :)   I have updates and pic's of Panty hose in the Garden to our new pathways, Home made reusable makeup wipes/ sponge alternatives, to alternative toilet paper... and Many recipes for our family favorite recipe section...     Hugs to all!!

Me :)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Crazy around here

Things have been crazy around here so my blogging has sadly been a bit off. We are once again moving the house around.. I think this time it's going to fit better. All but 1 of the aquaponics have been moved. And we have added a light structure above them. Instead of mounted to the ceiling. This has made things take off like crazy. I am hoping for some indoor grown tomatoes before the end of the year.

Our Garden was doing okay until some beast of the 2 legged variety decided to tear through our Corn and pick all the cuecumbers growing in the big garden.

Thankfully I have Cucumbers growing in front also. Our Watermelon are Golf ball size And we have a few but not many Green Tomatoes. I have started saving seed this year to in hopes of a cheaper garden year next year.

With all the issues we have been facing with the weather and the 2 legged Varmits we are honestly doing okay. I just wish we were doing Awesome like last year...  Trial and error that's the way it goes. Next year we shoudld have the septic fixed and then we my break into the back yard for more Corn space... we'll see...  i just wish I could find an easier weed fighting stratagey. It feel like every year and all year I am pulling the same weeds!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fresh food in a lower waste house

Recently Corey and I have started towards our goal of a lower waste house hold. It’s amazing to how much weight I’ve lost and how much healthier we’ve felt. Not to mention the fact that the money we have is going as far as we need it instead of not coming close.

The Food Changes:

  1. All bread is homemade. I make Bread 1 to 2 times a week.
  2. All Pasta is homemade. The taste POP’s
  3. All pop is made in house. The Soda Stream  was a wonderful addition.
  4. Making fruit cordials and Ginger Beer instead of kool aid and other drink mixes
  5. I make homemade Ricotta cheese
  6. Only 1 meal a week has premade frozen or boxed products in it.
  7. Fresh Garden fair.
  8. Local butcher only.

So here’s my favorite recipe using a bunch of these things.

Homemade Ravioli stuffed with Fresh Basil, Fresh Ricotta and Sausage.


  1. Half Gallon of Milk
  2. 3 to 5 Tbsp of White vinegar or Lemon Juice
  3. 4 Cups Flour
  4. 5 Eggs
  5. Water
  6. 1/2 pound sausage
  7. 6 to 8 Fresh Basil Leaves (more if you want a stronger taste)


1.Start the night before and make your Ricotta

Bring half gallon of milk to a boil on the stove in a non reactive pan.

(non reactive being stainless steal not Aluminum)

Stir like crazy to keep it from scorching. Temp should be at least 120 degrees.

Add 3 tbsp of White Vinegar or Lemon Juice. Keep stirring you’ll notice curds starting to form. Turn off heat and keep stirring until you notice the yellow whey separate. The drain in cheese cloth to remove all the whey, don’t be afraid to squeeze it out. Refrigerate Cheese.

2. Make your dough for the Ravioli. (this can be refrigerated for up to 4 days)

Take 4 cups of flour (plain flour is fine you don’t have to get expensive flours!)   Put in mixer bowl if you have a good mixer with a dough blade. Add 4 eggs and mix until it forms a ball. You can add a little water if it’s to dry or an egg yoke.

(If you don’t have a heavy duty mixer then on your work station put the flour on the counter and make a well. put beating eggs in well and then mix dough together. Knead a bunch until it’s really soft. Wrap in cling wrap or a zippy bag and refrigerate over night)

3. Cook sausage and let drain. Refrigerate.

The Next day

1.Take about 6 to 10  Fresh Basil leaves (more if your a Basil Nut) and roll them up then slice.

2.Send them, your ricotta and half your sausage through the food processer to evenly mix and break up chunks.

3.Flour your work area. Then take your dough and break into workable sizes and roll out as thin as a piece of paper. You want it this thin because it will double in thickness when cooked.

4.Slice into strips as thick as you want your ravioli. Then place balls of your mix evenly spaced then take egg wash (egg beaten with a little water) and wipe it around the edges. Cut into squares and seal with a fork.

5.These can be put on a tray in the freezer for 2 hours and then in a bag in the freezer. Or they can be cooked fresh. About 5 to 8 minutes in boiling water.  Toss with a light sauce such as butter and Garlic, white wine, lemon butter or Pesto and the flavors will pop!

Panty Hose in the Garden?

Yep, I use a ton of Panty hose in my garden!

Weather they are to small or have a run they can be used.

Here’s a list of way’s to use them.

In the garden

  1. Tie them together and then string from post to post to support climbing plants like Cucumber's, Pea’s, and Watermelon. They are so soft that they support the plants with out cutting them when the wind is blowing.
  2. Cut the toes off and then cut 1 inch off at a time to use as ties for tomatoes. They give and stretch with the growth of the Tomato and still keep from cutting the plant.
  3. Tie around the berries to guide them where you want them to go.
  4. Tie Rose’s to the trellis

Harvest time

  1. Cut off the leg and fill with Potatoes, onions or popcorn and hang to dry.
  2. Dry corn and other seeds by hanging in the stocking.


I know there’s more ways we use them but can’t seem to come up with it right now. I hope this helps. Why spend a ton of money on specialty Tomato ties? In my experience they end up either cutting the plant or the plant grows around it, or the most likely thing they break in the wind. So let’s reuse something with many purposes and takes up very little space!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Soda Stream

I follow a lot of frugal blogs and the buzz this month is about the Soda Stream a way to make Soda at home. No more lugging home pop cans and bottles, not to mention no more plastic bottles in the landfill! Is it as good as it sounds? So far I’d say yes.

We purchased the striped down basic version of it.  I’m a simple kind of girl. That and there’s less to go wrong. I love the Soda Stream!

We did purchase an extra set of Bottles. I’m a Cola addict (Actually my migraines are a Cola addict :) And hubby can’t have Caffeine so having the 4 different bottles makes it so I can have 1 dedicated to Cola and dedicate other’s as Caffeine free.  The carbonation lasts longer then regular soda. My Cola sat out for a good 4 hours and was still extremely fizzy and not flat at all when I took a sip.. Amazing for me!

A few special notes about them from me.

Warning!! Make sure you have the plastic bottle screwed on completely if you don’t water will go EVERYWHERE!!!!!!

When you first use the soda maker use exactly as directed.

Then try these few tips. 

Make completely sure the water is very cold.

I only push the button until 1 buzz. 3 buzzes is way to much carbonation in my opinion.

As soon as you carbonate take it off put the lid on and shake gently. Then add your syrup put the lid on and shake gently again. (be very carful opening. The first bottle I made had so much fizz it fizzed over)


Cola: So far I’ve found the Cola you need about 1 and 1/4 to 1 and 1/2 lids full of syrup. 1 lid full tastes like when you get to the fountain and the syrup bag is almost out.

Orange: Use only about 1/2 a cap otherwise it’s extremely sweet and overly strong

Cranberry raspberry: Love it just how they say

Dr. Pete: Good the way they say

Energy drink: Add a little more then a cap full and it really tastes like Red bull only with more carbonation :)

You can also use fruit juice and homemade cordials and add to your carbonated water. I’m looking forward to making homemade ginger aile

I don’t know yet how much we are saving but I do know we used to spend about $50 a month on pop. ( I had a tendency to loose my cans around the house and they would go flat) So this I am hoping should pay for itself pretty fast. 

Corey told me Bob and Tom in the morning on the radio really love it also. In our area the kitchen store in the outlet mall, Kohl's, and Macy’s all carry it. At the Kitchen Store it’s $15 if you exchange and empty tank for a new tank. I don’t know the cost at the other stores yet.

I hope you found some good hints and info in this quick write up. Feel fee to leave a question if you want.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Okay, so if your like me you probably have a bunch of half burnt or almost all the way burnt candles lying around, not to mention broken ones. So why not use them?

This doesn't take much time and can even be fun.

First thing first, you'll need a few things:

Old Candles, bits of wax even those wax melts work

Candles jars, Mason Jars work to!

Candle wick and ends.. check out ebay for good prices on bulk.

Something thin like a skewer to go across the candle jar top to hold wick straight


Basically  the night before put any candles that you can't get loose from their jars into the freezer. The next day they should pop out easily. If the jar is a funny shape you might have to take a knife or screw driver and break it into pieces in the jar.. save jar you can reuse it.

Place all pieces into a pot ( you can leave the wick and metal piece they will be easy to scoop out later.

Melt on low heat in a big pot until melted. Add any scent or coloring ( we had half a purple candle in ours so it turned everything lavender)

Take wick and measure and cut to fit in jar with a little over hang

Place melted clippy (if you can't get the wick though, dip wick in wax and wait a second then it should slip right through with out separating the wick strands.

Place in jar, wrap around skewer

Pour in wax

Let cool!

One still hot the other half way cooled

Candles and wick

Jelly Jar candles

Votive candle

The top of a poured candle

Enjoy your candles. We love having these around for emergency's and I get more for my money on the wax melts we buy to scent the house!

Our Garden

I haven't really posted many pictures of our Garden. Part of that was due to a lack of camera last year. But I have some of what's going on now. :)

Mushrooms popping up thanks to all the rain

Strawberrys in full bloom

I'm not sure what his is. It's very invasiv and we can't seem to kill it off!

Potatoes popping up in three diffrent places!

This was planted 3 years ago at the original end to the garden. They never once grew... until now!

The front Rose Beds and one of the new Kitchen Gardens this is the all onion bed

this is the next area

Add caption

Longways down the fron Rose and Kitchen beds

This is in our "Canning" Garden. One of the 3 raised beds. Rose helped transplant the Strawberries out of here. This will now have tomatoes in it.

Potato Buckets new this year at the edge of the "Canning Garden"

More of the front

Kyera helping out.
So that's the first set of Garden photos I hope to post more and maybe even the drawings Corey made up of the layout of our Gadens.

Rain Barrel Excitement!

First I want to say thank you again to Jan @ Thanks For Today for her Sustainable living project. You can follow the link and read more about it. It was so much fun to join in and read about what everyone else is doing to help the environment and work towards self sustainability. There are people at so many different stages.

Other then a TON of inspiration, I ended up winning the grand prize ( I never win anything!). I Fisker's Rain Barrel. I posted last year pictures and instructions for our homemade rain barrel and we use it a lot! So to have an actual one we thought would be interesting.

It installed a little harder then the homemade one. You have to cut the pipe and get the black diverter squeezed on to the pipe and then the other end goes to the bottom of it. Honestly though the hardest part was getting the lid all the way on. I had to squeeze and bend in order to get it on fully. Otherwise everything else worked really well. Just make sure you have spade bits and a hacksaw around. We have these on hand but I know a lot of people don't.

It's rained since installing and works wonderfully!! My husband is in love already because we can now fully water both sides of our front gardens. This saves us from running a ton of hose all over the yard. We don't have to worry that someone left the hose on and the water is still running, and our bill will be sky high. We will only have to pay to water the canning garden this year. I figure this will save us at least $15 a month. Not to mention saving mom from tripping over hose's :)

My worst nightmare is now my favorite thing!

I will be the first to admit I have always HATED LAUNDRY!! I'm sure you can see my tag on my blog stating that I blog to keep from doing the laundry.. to true!

In my house you never know which person is going to have a skin reaction to a certain laundry product. We can go months and then suddenly boom! Can't use the 2 big containers of soap any more someone broke out in a rash. So it always feels like when is the bottom going to fall?

Then no matter what we used I could always smell a little sour smell. I'm sure it's probably do to our water but it really annoyed me. It's like the soap was masking the sour water smell. 

Add to that the loading unloading and folding and ugh. GO through all that for laundry that didn't smell clean..

Well, these last 2 weeks it's all changed! I love my laundry and can't wait to do it.. granted I'll be glad when there's less of it.. but wow.

The first thing i started doing was making my own laundry soap. It's not hard...

I take a few bars of our homemade Cold Process soap that is not overly supper fatted. ( why waste oils and moisturizing soap on the laundry?

Grate this and put in a container then mix in enough washing soda to cover the shreds so they no longer stick together ( I have used baking soda also with good results) Cool thing to the kids can help!

Add about 1/4 to 1/2 cup to your wash.. that's it.

You can add up to 1/2 cup of white vinegar if you need softener
 ( I looked at our softener the other day.. OMG the first ingredient was sugar, then clay, then dye, then fragrance) WOW  maybe I'll just throw some sugar in the wash :)

*Note* You can add Borax if you feel you need it. We don't because we try and use our laundry water in the garden and the Borax can build up and become toxic.

The second change for us was a laundry line. Yeppers, the girl who hated dong this growing up is now doing it willingly as an adult.. who'd of thunk?  I'll have to do a post on my clothes pin bag made from recycled jeans later this week. 

The kids had to get in on the action.. hope this continues!

Colty had to help!

So proud of his wash cloth!

Now our clothes smell nice (the sour smell is gone) and we are saving money not to mention the kids want to help. And I can still pin laundry up 2 items to a clothes pin just like when I was a kid :) Some things you never forget.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Aquaponics Tables

We've had our Aquaponics Beds on folding tables since we started them a few months ago and they were working great. However 2 days ago my husband noticed that the table was dipping in the middle. This was due to the weight and probably some water damage from a bed that had slowly leaked one night when I was gone.

Well with 200 lbs of rock, water, and my seedlings all at risk Corey new he had to do something and fast. So we sat down and talked about what I needed when it came to the beds. One of the things I had learned is I need to be able to get around all the long sides. It was really hard to replant when I drained the tanks. Because I'm short and couldn't reach the backs of the doubled up tanks.

So we took some measurements and came up with these tank stands. I will be loosing my small bed for a while, which is okay until I starts seeds again next year.

The other goal in this room will be to set up a seed starting area instead of the wobbly book shelf :)

So here are some pictures of the 1st 2 of the 6 bed tables we have to make. We hope to have at least 3 done this week. They are made of a mix of wood we had either given to us, or left from other projects. We will have to buy 1 4x4x8 because we are out of them. So our total out of pocket cost will only be $6.00 and we get our folding tables back :) Not to mention the risk of a flood has been diverted!

Colty helping daddy
Main Base
Adding legs
Two down 4 more to go!

I will post picture of the room as soon as all 6 tables are made and in place. Then the next step will be figuring out a seed starting table :)

Weekend Garden happenings

We had a great weekend out here and really accomplished a lot! All of our Strawberries have been transplanted into the Rose beds in front of our house. Thanks to my daughter Rose! Between the 2 of us and a little help from hubby we moved over 100 Strawberry plants.

Corey, the kids and myself started working on the walkways in front of the house. Our goal eventually is to put in more brick walks with Irish Moss growing in between them. Right now though we had to do something because the Lawn Mower can't get between the boxes and beds and all of our hand me down Weed whackers are having issues and at a friends house for possible repair?

So Corey tilled up the soil, we laid a heavy layer of Newspaper (Thanks mom and dad!) and then a layer of Wood Chips! All the kids helped and we had a lot of fun, including rides in the wagon of course!

We were also able to get 2 more of the front beds filled ( I can't believe Rose filled this cart up all by herself!!)

And planted one of the beds with Leaf Lettuce, Carrots and Leeks.

I hope to plant the other bed here in a few days.

Check out some of the cool start ups around the Garden

This Asparagus was planted 2 years ago at the original edge of the garden.. we never had even a hint of growth on these until now??

Potatoes  I guess we missed a few again. oops!
We really have a blast doing this as a family! The time flys by so fast!