Line Drying: Saving Money the Old Fashioned Way

Posted 06-30-2010 at 06:26 PM by MyFrugalFunLife

Most of us have houses full of nifty appliances that make life easier. However, they are not cheap to run and cutting back on using them can save quite a bit of money! The summer months are the perfect time to go back in time and learn the simple but cost effective way of line drying clothes.

To get started first check your local city ordinance or HOA guidelines to make sure hanging clothes outside is allowed. Then decide which clothes line system will work best for your yard.

If you have a big space to work with the traditional long lines and two poles on each end will give you lots of space to hang clothes. If you don’t have access to polls try utilizing trees or deck railing-get creative :)
If yard space is an issue look into an umbrella style system. Retail they start at around $50 but many times you can find them used on Craigs List for a fraction of the cost. The nice thing about the umbrella style is most of them are removable for when you need to mow the yard, or during winter months.

Once you’ve got your line system set up its time to hang clothes! Instead of fabric softener I use vinegar in my wash rinse cycle-it help keep the clothes soft. I prefer hanging my clothes out first thing in the morning so they’re dry by early afternoon. I’ve also become a pro at making them all fit (socks and dishtowels get pinned on top of jeans and big towels etc).

Some clothing items, like jeans, tend to get crunchy after being out in the sun so some people prefer to throw those items in the dryer for a few minutes to soften them up. Even though you may opt to do this-a few minutes of dryer time is still going to save you a lot of money over using your dryer exclusively!

Now if you don’t have a back yard or are not allowed to hang clothes outside there’s still line drying options for you. You can get an indoor drying rack for a reasonable price at most hardware stores. Having two or three of these racks will be able to handle most regular sized loads of laundry. If you have a basement you can also set up a line drying system down there and just hang your line from nails or other basement fixtures. You’ll have to be a bit more creative without an outside option but most people will be able to make it work-just think outside the box a bit :)

Not only does line drying save you money-there’s also nothing better than the smell of clothes dried in the sun. The sun is also a natural stain remover so that’s an extra benefit of line drying! If you’ve never line dried before I challenge you to try it this summer, you might never go back to using your dryer!

Diaper Swapers

The Art of Cooking

Posted 06-30-2010 at 02:55 PM by whitneywalters

I grew up in a family that rarely used boxed foods. My parents cooked almost everything from scratch. I was taught how to cook at a young age. I loved helping my mom cook from as early as I can remember. My mom taught me almost everything I know about baking and my dad taught me almost everything I know about grilling. I think the early introduction to cooking from scratch is what gave me the love I have for cooking now.

My husband grew up totally different, while his mom did a lot of cooking, she did a lot of cooking from boxes, like instant mashed potatoes, hamburger helper and frozen pizza. It did not help that my husband was a picky eater and was never really taught how to cook. After he graduated he lived on a steady diet of frozen pizza and Mcdonalds, this all changed when we got married. It was a struggle at first but over the last five years he has grown to love all the food I cook, has learned a little about cooking himself and his diet is so much healthier now.

If you are struggling when it comes to the art of cooking I have a few simple ideas to help you on your path to cooking from scratch.

1. Keep it simple. You do not have to cook fancy meals. One of the meal time staples in our house is boneless, skinless chicken breasts. They are very versatile and easy to cook. We eat them at least twice a week, sometimes more.

Here are two of my favorite simple ways to cook them. – put thawed chicken breast in a cake pan and cover with your choice of chunky salsa Bake at 350 until chicken is fully cooked. Top with sour cream and shredded cheese if desired. I usually serve these with Mexican rice and black beans. – season thawed chicken breasts with garlic and Italian seasoning. Bake at 350 until chicken is fully cooked. While chicken is cooking, cook angel hair pasta and broccoli, cut chicken into strips, add broccoli and angel hair pasta to chicken and cover with alfredo sauce.

2. Use your crock pot. There are a ton of websites and cook books out there that are full of fantastic recipes for the crock pot. Most are only a couple steps and very easy to do. I use http://www.a-crock-cook.com/ for many of my crock pot recipes. Two of the easiest things to cook in a crock pot are a whole chicken, with potatoes and carrots or a roast with potatoes and carrots. Very simple, easy and a complete meal with only a couple steps.

3. If you are strapped for time in the morning, make a meal the night before. My kids love French toast and this recipe for over night French toast is easy and quick. http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1818,150191-239202,00.html , I make it the night before, throw it in the oven when we wake up and serve it with fruit.

- here are a few more overnight recipes for you http://www.cooks.com/rec/search/0,1-0,breakfast_overnight,FF.html

Remember to get your kids involved with whatever you are cooking. Teaching them to cook from a young age will help them be able to make the right choices when it comes to cooking later in life.

You Are What You Eat

Posted 06-22-2010 at 08:20 AM by whitneywalters

I am sure that everyone has heard the saying, “You are what you eat” more than once in their life but many people do not understand how true this statement really is. Food is a huge part of our lives and many foods can have a huge impact on our daily lives.

Are you feeling stressed? I know you probably want to reach for something comforting and full of carbs but you should try the follwing first:
1. Drink a glass of water, even a mild state of dehydration can stress the whole body.

2.  Eat a sweet potato, the will help curb the desire for something sweet and fill of carbs but they are also full of beta carotene, vitamins and fiber.

3.  Eat some turkey. Turkey has an amino acid called L Tryptophan which triggers serotonin, a natural relaxer. This is the reason many people feel tired after eating turkey.

4. Eat an orange, when you are stressed your body releases more free radicals then normal and the vitaman C in the orange will help keep them in check and repair your body.

Think you are coming down with a cold? Try some of these to feel better sooner:
1. Eat some garlic, it has long been known to protect the immune system.  Garlic contains allicin, ajoene and thiosulfinates, which guard your body against cold and flu. Eating garlic during cold will shorten the amount of time it takes you to heal.

2. Nothing beats chicken noodle soup. Chicken soup contains cysteine, an amino acid that acts like common bronchitis drug acetylcysteine, which protects the bronchial tubes from the accumulation of inflammatory cells. Warm salty chicken broth also prevents thickening of the mucus, keeping the temperature in the throat high and relieving cough symptoms. Garlic and onion, which are often added to the chicken soup have immune-boosting effect.

3. Drink some hot tea with honey. The tea will leave you feeling warm the honey will aid in soothing a sore throat and reducing a cough.

Trying to drop a few pounds? These foods will help you reach your goals:
1. Everyone knows veggies are important but eating them raw gives you way more of the benefits. Do you not like eating just plain veggies, then try making a avocado dip or get some fat free ranch to go with them and snack away!

2. An apple a day, keeps the pounds away!! Apples and berries  contain Pectin, which restricts the amount of fat our cells can absorb. Berries such as blackberries, blueberries, black and red currants, raspberries and strawberries help to detox your body and  boost your metabolism.

3. Stay hydrated with green tea. Green tea will boost your metabolism and speed up the rate at which your body burns fat

These are only a few tips, there are many more foods that help aid in all the areas mentioned. We all need to watch what we eat because in the end we are what we eat.

Let’s Make Some Money: Having a Garage Sale

Posted 06-15-2010 at 03:08 PM by MyFrugalFunLife

If you’re like many people your house is full of clutter that seems to breed while you’re not looking! Having a garage sale is a fantastic way to get rid of your unwanted clutter and to make some extra money in the process! Here’s some tips to having a successful garage sale:

Advertise: You can make your own signs from poster board or buy pre-made signs. Adding balloons to your signs is a great way to catch people’s eye and to also show that your sign is a current one and not an old sign from a previous sale.

You can also place a free ad on CraigsList.org or pay a small fee and place an ad in your local paper. And if your grocery store has a free community bulletin board make sure to put your garage sale info on it!

Price Items to Sell: garage sale shoppers have one thing on their minds-getting a bargain. Overpricing your items is a certain way for you to have an unsuccessful sale. This is especially true with items that have sentimental value to you-that sleeper might have been the one your baby wore home from the hospital but to everyone else it’s a used piece of clothing that every other garage sale is also going to be selling.  Being realistic about pricing will allow you to move your stuff and still make a nice profit.

Set Up: Put bigger items like furniture and children gear close to the road-these types of things get peoples attention. Have a hanging rack for nicer clothes, costumes, coats etc. I take the bar from my coat closet and put it in between two ladders-a simple and effective way to hang clothes :) If possible use long banquet tables to set your items on. Ask friends and family members if they have any that you can borrow. Otherwise, card tables, upside down bins, and saw horses with plywood can act as tables. Make sure you have plenty of walking room in between your tables-spread things out as much as possible so several people can shop at the same time without getting in each others way. Also make sure to have a designated area where people can set their items down and pay.

Running the Sale: People shop more in the morning so try to have your sale set up and open by 8 or 8:30am. Make sure you have enough change and bags. And having a friend do it with you gives you another set of hands for bathroom breaks, busy times, and lunch time.

Take Down: Most sales close down by 4 or 5pm and two hours before I close mine down I put out a sign that says ‘fill a bag for $3′-this gets rids of some of the left over items and makes less work when I’m cleaning up.

After you’ve ended your sale make sure to pull your signs (save them for your next sale). You can either box your items up to donate to charity or save it for the next time you want to do a sale.

Other Tips:
- I add things to my garage sale ‘pile’ year round and as I add items to this pile I price them. It only takes a second to place a tag on the item as you’re putting it aside, instead of pulling it all out the day before the sale and trying to mark everything.
- If you live in an apartment or rural area try and find a friend or family member that lives in a  heavy traffic area and suggest doing a sale together.

For the Love of Wool!

Posted 06-15-2010 at 03:03 PM by whitneywalters

When I first started getting active in the DiaperSwappers Community I visited the Extra Fluffy forum a lot. I liked looking at all the pictures of the diapers but did not know what the fuss was all about with woolies. I thought they were adorable but I just did not get why someone would want to spend that much money on baby clothes.

It was not until after the birth of my second daughter that I was introduced the world of hyena cart auctions. One day I decided to browse and see if I could find any woolies on auction, lucky me I found a pair that I just loved and I decided to put in a low bid. Thinking there was no way I would win I was very happy a couple days later when I got an email saying I did. I loved them as soon as they came and I knew why everyone was so crazy over them. Not only were they adorable but it was nice to be able to find something that fit her cloth diapered bottom so well, was made with her measurements and functioned as a diaper cover at the same time. I knew I was going to want more!

It was soon after that when I started looking into recycled wool. It was a lot cheaper then most knit woolies and still just as adorable. Thanks to a couple of really amazing mamas here on DiaperSwappers I was able to get some super adorable recycled wool in a trade and another pair for an amazing price. Since we do not have a ton of money to spend on a wool stash I knew I had to be as thrifty about it as I could so I started collecting wool yarn from swaps here on DiaperSwappers so I could make my own, I also added woolies to my ISO lists. I also kept checking the hyena cart auctions and have been able to snag a couple amazing deals.

If you are longing to get your hands on wool but think you can not afford it, think again! I currently have 3 pairs of knit longies, 3 pair of recycled longies, 1 pair of shorties, 2 skirties and a large collection of wool yarn to start making my own. By doing trades, watching of auctions and sales I have only spent $68 total.

So You Want To Work From Home: A Rose By Any Other Name…

Posted 06-15-2010 at 02:58 PM by Harmony96

If you intend to have your own home-based business (as opposed to working at home for someone else), then naming your business is another big step to take. Here are some tips and suggestions to help you find the right moniker.

1. Check trademarks. You definitely don’t want to make a name for yourself that someone else has already used. That would only cause confusion if a potential customer contacts you when they think that they’re contacting the other company. Here are some good instructions on how to check trademarks, but keep in mind the warning at the bottom of that page, because just because a trademark doesn’t exist for a particular name doesn’t mean that a company doesn’t exist for that name. You can also Google the name you’re thinking of using, to see if it already has an online presence.

Under construction2. Name it after your product. Many times, your product itself can be easily incorporated into your business name. This is beneficial because potential customers can know what you’re selling just by hearing your company’s name. But, obviously, if you choose to call your company by your craft, you would need to do something more creative than “Diapers” or “Clothes.”

3. Name it after your child. I have also seen lots of people use their child’s name in their company name. Maybe you started out by making items for your child and now want to expand, so the inspiration for your company has come indirectly from your previously only personal projects. Or maybe your child has a unique name that will be easy to remember.

4. Keep it catchy. You want something that will be easy for people to remember. Alliteration helps with this, as does keeping the name brief (four or five words are the very most that I would put into a company name). Sound it out in your head. Ask close friends what they think about your potential choice.

5. Incorporate it into your logo. If you thought of your logo first, and let’s say it’s a sun behind a cloud, then a business name of “Dana’s Doggie Duds” wouldn’t really make sense with that logo. Think about the meanings of colors and what font would convey your ideology best.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

10 Easy Steps to a Healthier Eating Style

Posted 06-9-2010 at 05:36 PM by whitneywalters

I have always been the type to eat a pretty healthy diet but my husband on the other hand was the polar opposite of me when it came to eating habits. Before we got married he ate a steady diet of pizza and McDonalds. After we got married I started helping him change his eating habits, I cooked whenever I could but at the time we were both working full time and we had gotten pregnant on our honeymoon so I was not always around to cook him dinner.

After the birth of our second child we made the choice to have me become a stay at home mom, this is when I began taking bigger steps in making sure the whole family was eating a healthier diet.

When you have picky eaters in the house I know how hard it can be to make a well balanced meal. My daughter and I  love almost all foods, my husband and son on the other hand are really picky eaters. Here are a few ways I have been making sure they are getting a proper balanced diet.

1. Make your own spaghetti sauce. It is a lot simpler then you would think and in making your own you can add other vegetables in it. I personally add zucchini squash to mine.

2. Replace stewed tomatoes with v8 juice when making soup.  Not only does the v8 have more vegetables in it but it adds a really nice flavor to your soups.

3. Cut down your intake of red meats. Some red meats are high in saturated fat, which raises blood cholesterol.  High levels of LDL cholesterol increase the risk of heart disease.

4. Stop boiling your vegetables, eating them raw or steaming them keeps more of the nutrients in your vegetables.

5. Avoid processed, prepackaged or boxed foods. It is a lot healthier to make from scratch. For example home made mac and cheese is very simple and it making it your self you can take a lot of easy steps to make it a healthier meal ( using wheat noodles, skim milk and adding vegetables just to name a few )

- My Mac and Cheese Recipe
Whole wheat mac and cheese noodles
Cojack cheese
Sharp cheddar cheese
Skim milk
Salt and pepper
( I will also add one of the following depending on the day ( bacon bits, cooked hamburger, cooked broccoli )

Cook the noodles like normal
Then layer in a glass casserole dish in the following order
Noodles
Whatever mix in your are using
A combination of the cheeses
Salt and pepper
Repeat until dish is full, stopping with the cheese
Add milk until is is about half way up the pan

Bake on 325 for about 45 mins or until cheese is melted properly

My kids will no longer even eat boxed mac and cheese they like this so much.

6. Eat wheat noodles and bread. It is a simple and easy way to eat healthier. We have always eaten wheat or whole grain bread but I made the switch in noodles about a year ago, my husband did not even notice the difference until he saw the box.

7. Grow a garden and do organic gardening. I can not stress enough how much you will enjoy having fresh vegetables. My son love tomatoes but he will not eat a store bought tomato. He loves going out to the garden and picking a fresh tomato, he then happily sits down and eats it like an apple. If you live in an area where you are not allowed to have an in ground garden you can do container gardening also. Even a small amount of fresh vegetables is a great thing.

8. If you can not do any gardening at all look for fresh and organic vegetables at local farmers markets. Look for deals and stock up, you can freeze the veggies for later use.

9.  If you do not drink a lot of water because you do not like plain water try adding a lemon or orange slice. I had issues getting my son to drink a lot of water but he drinks it all the time with a little bit of flavor in it.

10. Try eating beans instead of rice. Brown rice is better than white rice but beans are better than both. One cup of kidney beans has 16 grams of fiber and 13 grams of protein. If you are using canned beans rinse then first because it will rinse off the excessive sodium.

- I make a three bean salad with black, kidney and pinto beans. Mix those with salad greens and it makes a great salad and a great source of protein.

The Benefits of Babywearing

Posted 06-8-2010 at 09:22 PM by Faiths13

Your baby spends nine months in your womb; the closest two people can be to each other. He feels the warmth of your body, hears your heart beating rhythmically, and is filled with the familiar smells of mommy. So it is only natural to mimic that closeness by using a baby carrier or sling with your sweet newborn baby. Baby wearing is not only good for newborns though. It’s also good for older babies and toddlers, as well as for moms.

With the many variety of baby carriers out these days, it is possible to find one that can suite your life and the stages of your child. When you are out at the store and your baby is crying to be held, when you are in desperate need of something to eat but your baby doesn’t want to be put down, when you are amongst strangers and your little one needs a little extra security – these are all perfect opportunities for babywearing.

The closeness of having your baby snuggled into you, held securely with a sling or carrier, can help keep you in tune with her needs. Babies who are constantly kept close do not need to cry out as often to get attention – mommy is already right there. You will be more in tune when you baby is hungry or needs a diaper change and able to tend to those needs before your baby becomes upset.

It’s important for babies to have a trust and sense of security in the world. Being carried and held close often can bring that feeling to your baby. That trust will bring happiness and contentment to your little one. As your baby grows older, he will have an innate sense of security and love, which will help him become self-reliant and secure.

Babywearing can be great for fathers too. There are many styles and prints that are geared towards dads to help get them into the babywearing vibe. Many dads love to use baby carriers as a way to develop that same closeness that usually only mothers get. Your baby will become used to his voice, movements and heartbeat, forging a new kind of bond for the two of them.

Convenience is another reason many mothers choose to wear their baby. If you have an older child who needs your hands on attention, babywearing can keep you free to tend to them. Or if you need to move about the house to cook a meal or do a chore, wearing your baby will keep her safe and content while you go about your daily routines. The gentle rocking motion of your movements will keep her sleeping peacefully much longer than if you were to leave her alone.

As your baby becomes a toddler you do not need to put away your baby carrier. There are many carriers that are made to hold the weight of toddlers while giving your back a break. Your toddler will love to have the advantage of being held, giving him an adults eye view of the world and a secure place to retreat to when things become more than he can handle.

With the many different types of baby carriers out, you may find yourself with more than one. You may choose to have a sling for around the house and a backpack for outtings. You may want a wrap for your newborn and a structured carrier for your toddler. And with so many prints to choose from, you may want more just because you love the look. Babywearing can compliment your life and bring you closer to your child as well.

Vinegar: Your New Best Friend!

Posted 06-8-2010 at 09:18 PM by MyFrugalFunLife

Studies have shown that the air in our homes are very polluted and we add to it by using concoctions of chemicals to ‘clean’. Not only are these cleaners unhealthy for you and your family but they’re very pricey!

You can get away from those chemicals and chose an all natural, safe, and super cheap option-vinegar!  Vinegar kills germs, viruses, bacteria, and is also great for cleaning up messes. And of course its really cheap :) Here are a few of the things I use vinegar for:

All Purpose Cleaner: One part vinegar to one part water-shake in spray bottle and you’re ready to clean your counter tops, toys, and bathroom. When it dries the smell will disappear.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner:  add 2-3 cups of vinegar to your toilet bowl before bed.  In the morning use a toilet bowl brush to remove the loose gunk and flush.

Carpet stain remover: mix vinegar with baking soda together to create a paste-scrub into the stain with a scrubby or old toothbrush.  Allow to dry and then vacuum up (test on a hidden part of your carpet first)

Ant Deterrent: same recipe as all purpose cleaner-spray one part vinegar to one part water where ants frequent in your house-ants hate the scent of vinegar and will avoid it!

Tub Grime Remover: get rid of that nasty ring around the tub by wiping down with vinegar and then follow by scrubbing with baking soda.

Disinfect: spray full strength vinegar on door knobs and other areas that are prone to germs (test first in hidden area to make sure its safe on the surface you’re using it on).

Remove crayon marks from walls:use an old toothbrush with undiluted vinegar and scrub away crayon marks on walls (it cannot be used on all paints/surfaces so make sure to test first).

Microwave Cleaner: one part vinegar with one part water in a microwave safe bowl and nuke it for a couple of minutes; it makes all the crud in your microwave loose and then simply use a damp dish rag to remove it (it will be very hot afterward so use caution when removing it)

Dishwasher Rinse Agent: I haven’t bought expensive dishwasher rinse agents in ages-instead I put vinegar in my machine’s rinse section and it does everything a commercial agent does, for a fraction of the cost.

Fabric softener: I no longer use expensive fabric softeners or dryer sheets-instead I add vinegar to the rinse compartment on my washing machine and it works great. Its safe on cloth diapers too :)

These are just a few of the ways you can use vinegar to clean-there are hundreds of other uses for vinegar too 1001 Uses for White Distilled Vinegar is a great resource for vinegar uses, as well as About.com. Vinegar is inexpensive and all natural-once you start using it for your cleaning needs you’ll never go back to store bought concoctions again!

*Do NOT use vinegar on marble- it can damage it

A Simple Guide to Carriers for Newbies!

Posted 06-8-2010 at 08:43 PM by MinnieBees

Wearing my 4 month old in a Vatanai

Mei Tai? SSC? Wrap? What? Navigating baby carriers can be daunting for people who are new to babywearing. Hopefully, this guide will help you.

A good place to start are pouches. Pouches are very simple tubes of stretchy heavy cotton that you wear around your body like a Miss America sash. They can be worn as a hip carrier and a snuggly newborn carrier (pay attention to your newborn’s airway if they are in a pouch. The chin should not be on the baby’s chest, the baby’s neck should be straight). They are very economical, and probably the fastest carrier to put on and take off. However, the ease of wear also means that comfort can be compromised, especially for older children.

Wraps are a great carrier for many moms. There are two basic types of wraps, (1) stretchy wraps, and (2) woven wraps. Stretchy wraps can be used only for young babies, ones they get heavier stretchy wraps, are, well, too stretchy. I can’t say that I ever loved them. they feel nice, but they get uncomfortable pressure points more than woven wraps. Woven wraps are probably the most expensive option, but they are also probably the most versatile. They can be used from the newborn period until preschool age. They come in many different colors, patterns, and fabrics. I love Didymos, Girasol, Vatanai, Storchenwiege, Gypsy Mama, and Elleville.

Mei Tais are a great go to carrier for most moms. They are very simple to put on, don’t take up a ton of room in the diaper bag, and last from the time your baby can hold their head up until preschool age. They can be worn on the front and the back. There are also some great economical choices, as well as some higher end carriers. I love Oliviabolivia, Freehand, Silly Goose, and Himmel, but there are many others out there.

SSC’s, or soft structured carriers, are great for moms and dad who want the comfort of a mei tai, but don’t want to tie straps. They are basically a mei tai with buckles. These are wonderful for a quick on and off, but are comfortable enough for all day. Some of them have great features like diaper bags that snap on, toy loops, and padded waists for heavier kids. They can easily be worn on the front and back, even for clumsier moms. Sometimes the buckles can be uncomfortable. These are carriers that most dads are happy to use, also. Some brands to look in to are Ergo, Boba, Beco, and my personal favorite, Bloo Kangaroo. There are also half buckle options, which are a hybrid between the two. I haven’t personally tried any of those, but many moms love them.

Babywearing is a very rewarding aspect of motherhood. I love the closeness that I feel with my children when I am wearing them in a carrier, it also is extremely convenient. The only drawback I can think of is how addicting all of these beautiful carriers are!

My 4 month old in a custom Bloo Kangaroo SSC