Mindset the Real Purpose of Frugal Living

Frugal Living, Mindset, Food Cost, Food Expense, Food Waste

There’s the battle inside my soul. The battle of the busy. The battle of wishing I could take my kids on a bike ride everyday but can rarely seem to find the time. The battle where what is left at the end of the day doesn’t include the energy to engage fully. I lay to read stories only to fall asleep. I sit to watch a movie to do the same.

I crave time with my precious babies that I created in my womb. I crave memories for them that I had as a child of the simple. The time. The lake. The beach. The campground. The pool. The bike paths. The ski hills. The presence.

When I am naturally homemade I feel connected. Connected to generations past and to generations (who if I do this thing right) will lead our future. It’s not a philosophy; it’s modeling. It’s ingraining in the younger generation that there’s another option to eating vegetables than out of a can. Not so they can judge vegetables that come from a can but so they can have a healthy appreciation for ones that don’t. And a reminder for myself of that fact in the process.

The busyness often blurs the lines of the beauty. I craved the simple. The time we were impervious to the world around us. A time that was naturally homemade.

Your Naturally Homemade Life – Trisha Funk releasing summer of 2015

So many bring up the frugal living that has become part of my business model over the last few years with question marks in their voice. The professional investment advising strong women wants to talk frugal living?

But it’s life that we crave. A life filled.

Filled with more money than we need. Filled with more opportunities than we could wish for. Filled with more time with the people most important to us. More security. More breathing room. 

When we really grasp frugal living into our core we accept that there are things we don’t need to be sold. We are empowered by an ability to be self sufficient. 

So yes. Practicing frugal living keeps money in our bank account that we may otherwise spend. But to me it’s so  much more than that.

It’s the actions ability to influence the mindset. 

A mindset of security. A mindset of calm. Simple. Authentic and Transparent. Natural. 

What mindset does the concept of frugal living evoke for you? Why or why not is it something that is important to you?

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And if you’re not on the list you won’t be one of the first in the know when “Your Naturally Homemade Life” hits the major retailers and just might have an opportunity to score a review copy before it does! Hint..Hint….. 

Zero Food Waste Challenge – The Final Checkin

I missed last weeks post because I was in morning to night meetings in not so sunny San Diego last weekend. So worth the trip and the new relationships formed. So this post is going to cover the foundation of the last two weeks of the 30 Day Zero Food Waste challenge.

Can you believe we are at the end. It seems like just yesterday that we hooked arms and declared to the world together that we are NOT going to be part of the America that tosses 25% of our food purchases. Well until that first week when I tossed what would be about 25% of my food budget for the week……… But I know you did better because you’re a rock star. 

I felt AMAZING about how these two weeks began because I reinvented dinners into meals for the family to eat while I was gone and used up things that needed to be eaten first rather than running from the “What do you guys want for dinner tonight?” Meal planning method I have fallen into for the last few weeks.

And then this happened………bays lunch

That would be Bay’s lunch……… 3 days after he took it to school. Also apparently three days after he ate exactly one bite of everything in his lunch box. And lastly, three days after I should have found it in his back pack.

Apple. One bite. Check. Turkey Sandwich with Organic Cheese on Organic Bread. One Bite. Check. Unhealthy chocolate dipped granola bar……2 bites. Check Check. AWE Cashews….At least those can be salvaged……Oh wait….Until, when he took his one bite of those and the bag never was re-sealed and now all of the uneaten cashews are sharing space with the 3 day partially rotting cheese and turkey. Hey but don’t you worry….It wasn’t a total loss. His veggie straws are sealed and complete and I washed the outside of the bag with soapy water to get any bad bugs off. Which is exactly when I learned that there was apparently a hole in the bag.

As a public service announcement………. Veggie Straws don’t hold up well to water.

Yep mistakes happen.

But so do wins. Intentional wins. Truth? Wins like these.

 

biscuitsRefrigerated biscuits that were expiring that week were turned into breakfast for dinner when I made biscuits and gravy, bacon and eggs. MMM…I love bacon. 

spinach use

Spinach that was close to turning bad was turned into Sausage and Spinach Gnocchi. MMMMMM. I love sausage and spinach gnocchi!!!!

tatert tot cassTwo large hamburger patties that were left over from Avocado Bacon Burgers ( I LOVE avocado bacon burgers…) were turned into Tater Tot Casserole to be thrown in the oven Friday when I was out of town. Truthfully this recipe is about the easiest thing possible and works with all kinds of leftover meat.

I really figured I would have money left in our food budget at the end of the month. And guess what….I didn’t. But I will say that my financial month generally runs NOT on a 1st – the last day of the month (it just is what it is) and so generally I have officially started the next month prior to the 1st. I used my last bit of grocery money days after I started the March budget. We will see if that means I stay under budget for March. Either way I feel better about intentionally not tossing hard earned money down the drain.

So I would love to hear from you?

How did you do this month at intentionally choosing to waste less? Use more?

Any win’s or losses you want to share? We would love to hear about them. Leave a comment below.

How to get the best customer service ever

I’ve learned something in my almost (cough, cough) 40 years on this planet about getting some exceptional customer service and it’s something I think you frugal fanatics around me will really appreciate. Are you ready to learn my secret about how to get the best customer service ever?!? 

I thought so. 

It’s called bribery!

You know………. I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine.

I know the mention of it seems so very wrong, but stick with me. And if you really don’t like the connotation we can just change it to “sharing”.

Say it with me now. S.H.A.R.I.N.G…….That doesn’t sound so bad does it? 

The first time I realized how this “sharing thing” could actually work in my favor was when one of my oldest girlfriends and I were pregnant at the same time. Her mother casually mentioned she was going to get a box of Sees candies to put in her room while she was laboring and in the hospital with a note for all the nurses to please help yourself. Well guess what happened when nurses came in to get a piece of chocolate? Yep. They asked her if there was anything she needed.

Her brilliant methods were a way to thank the nurses who were caring for her daughter and new grand baby but also knew that this little action would also increase the odds someone would just happen to be in the room just when they were needed. 

It’s all about a mutual agreement. It’s a natural instinct when someone goes out of their way to think of you and do something nice for you for you to want to repay them in some way. We live in a give and take society. That’s just the way it is. 

When we had our roof replaced a number of years ago I had a bucket full of iced cold electrolyte drinks on hand at all times. And if workers were there after about 3 o’clock I generally would take out a plate of some sort of snack just to honor the fact that they were still there. 

I know what you are thinking……

If you’re paying them, that’s they’re job.

I agree.

And yet. I wanted the best roof possible.

I think very logically about these sorts of things. In my mind I think if I were ever going to scrimp a corner on a job, would it be the job where the owner brought me a skinny hazelnut latte (honestly feel free to deliver them at will) or would it be the one the homeowner (or patient or client) that didn’t even acknowledge me?

We were built to be a part of a community. We were built to be a bigger part of something outside of ourselves, so why would we not take that into account when we have the highest expectations of how we expect to be treated and the work we expect to receive.

But it touches one very important step further as far as I’m concerned. Bribing Sharing with others when you have entered into a transaction with them is also about the universal truth of telling them, “I see you”.  It’s telling them, “You are providing me something of value and I appreciate that.”

And so it goes. I would encourage you the next time you are soliciting (or paying for) help from others go ahead and bake that loaf of banana bread or that batch of cookies. Grab a to go box of coffee from Starbucks and give them a reason to feel honored and appreciated and just see if you don’t find them providing you with their best work possible. 

The Easiest Way to Make Your Own Pumpkin Puree

Organically. In about 5 minutes. And then a little while later in about 5 more. Quit buying that stuff in a can. Grow a pumpkin. Cut up a pumpkin. Cook a pumpkin. Smash up the pumpkin. Wallah: The easiest way to make your own pumpkin puree!

Now you want my favorite things to do with pumpkins? Well here’s my top three uses for fresh pumpkin puree. 

Perfect Pumkin Bread

1 1/2 c flour

1 c sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp each allspice, clove and cardamon

2 eggs lightly beaten

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Mix together all dry ingredients

Combine your eggs, pumpkin, oil and vanilla until thoroughly mixed and pour into the dry ingredients.

Stir until fully combined and all lumps are out.

Pour into a loaf bread pan

Cook for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. 

My second favorite pumpkin thing in all the world! My grandmother makes these pumpkin cookies that everyone loves and they couldn’t be any easier! Pumpkin puree and spice cake mix. Oven. Eat. (In that order) 

Easiest Pumpkin Cookies

1 3/4 c pumpkin puree (or a 15 oz can)

1 box spice cake mix

Optional: Chocolate Chips (or nuts)

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Mix up ingredients so there is no dry cake mix

Spray you cookie sheet and use a cookie scoop to scoop out dough

Bake for 20 minutes

Want a full body pumpkin experience? My Favorite Female Derm Specialist Extraordinaire Lindsay Miller (Seriously she should have a cape and not just that white Dr. coat.) shared this little skin tip: 

Pumpkins are rich in alpha-hydroxy acids, excellent exfoliators. They are also loaded beta-carotene, vitamins A and C to provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Try this mask at home (you can also substitute the milk for sugar and make a yummy body scrub)

2 tsp organic pumpkin puree (or canned pumpkin)
1/2 tsp honey
1/2 tsp milk
Directions:
Mix the ingredients into a paste and apply to a freshly cleansed face. Let dry for about 15-20 minutes and rinse off with water.

I have made this skin mask and I love it. It makes more than what just you need alone so grab your friends and have a pumpkin party complete with purifying facials. 

So there’s my top three! Now you have to share the love and leave your three in the comments. I have two more pumpkins just waiting to be picked! And if you want more frugal living diy tutorials jump over to the frugal living page and sign up! 

Homemade Pepperoncinis Without Canning

One of my favorite things about summer is our garden. 

Every single summer growing up the kitchens were inundated with canning jars and some sort of fruit or vegetable that was next to be processed. 

Walking through the garden with Grandpa helping to pick the green beans that mom and grandma were prepping and canning is a memory that will forever be etched in my mind. 

And now I love the opportunity to walk into the garden with my own kids, check the plants, and watch food grow. Sharing with them the experience of “where” food comes from that doesn’t have anything to do with a car or cash registers is so important to me.  As an added bonus, I love being able to “put up” jars of the healthiest food I can possibly provide for my own family. 

I have this rule when it comes to my own canning. I will only preserve what we will eat ourselves or what will make great gifts. 

Pickled Pepperoncini without canning

Pepperoncini’s are one of those things that get eaten in our home weekly. We love salami, cream cheese, and peppers as a snack or even light lunch. (Seriously, you really need to try them.) So this little pepper plant is a standard for the garden every year.

So what if you have a pepper plant or know someone else that does that just keeps producing like crazy?

CAN them! Well….. without actually canning them.

I mean you totally can, can. (Hahaha…..)

I’m not the boss of you. But for the love of God, it’s 100 degrees outside and unless I have an entire months worth of marinara to can at the same time it’s just not going to happen.  (I can can to….Hahaha.) Sorry it’s been a long week.

Homemade Pepperoncinis Without Canning:

I slice mine because we use the rings in sandwiches, salads, and salami. (Oh how I wished I could think of about 9 more things that start with “s” to add to that sentence.) But if you want to pickle them whole you can if that’s the way you use them. 

  • A few pounds fresh pepperoncini’s
  • Clean canning jars (This recipe usually makes 2 pints and 1 quart for me. I prefer the wide mouth jars because it’s easier to get the peppers out of the jar; but use whatever you have.)
  • 2 1/2 Cups Water
  • 3 Cups Vinegar
  • 4 tbs pickling salt
  • 3 tbs sugar
  • 2 tbs whole peppercorns
  • 1 large tablespoon chopped fresh garlic
  • 3 Bay Leaves ( I use three because I want one to end up in each jar and I end up with three jars. Again the boss issue.) 

Mix your water, vinegar, salt, sugar together in a saucepan and heat until sugar and salt are fully dissolved.

Add your garlic, bay leaves, and peppercorns and let simmer about 5 minutes or so to bring out the oils. 

Slice peppers (or if using whole, pierce with a fork about three times each)

Fill clean jars with peppers and pour hot liquid over top. 

Cover with lids and rings and let sit on the counter to cool completely. Transfer to the refrigerator once cooled. Let “pickle” for a week before using. Peppers can be stored in the fridge for months. (If you can’t use that many peppers in several months you may need to pressure can them. I promise the process is much less difficult than it sounds….AND I still use my grandmothers pressure canner so just think of it as an investment you are making for generations to come.)  

Pickle Peppers without canning

 

What would you like to say that you can can? Wink, Wink! Leave it in the comments and I just might provide you a tutorial for that!

Do you have a super easy canning or non-canning recipe? Leave that or a link to that in the comments too!

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Are you dirty? I mean your clothes you sicko..Homemade Stain Remover to the rescue!

 

Young Super Hero Standing on Laundry Machines

Get your mind out of the gutter and into the washer machine…. because today I’m giving you a video comparison of my homemade stain spray that I use on clothes, carpet, upholstery, you name it….because quite obviously I’m dirty. I’ll admit it. 

I will warn you going in that I absolutely suck because in the process of the experiment I actually lost one of the exhibits. How much exactly do you think that effects the reliability of the results?……..I didn’t think it did either…..I’m glad we’re on the same page. 

I know you’re all antsy in the pantsy now so I’ll just give you the video.

Here is how to make your own homemade stain remover for your laundry. 

It does take a whole 2 ingredients. Hydrogen Peroxide and Dish Soap. I know it seems hard but I have complete faith in you. And after that try a cleaner fit for a 5 year old. Homemade Dishwasher Detergent!

Love this video and want more like it? Well first share it on Pinterest, Facebook, and Every Other Social Media site you can think of, then be sure to sign up on the frugal living page to get five free video tutorials delivered directly to your inbox. 

Catching Cash that’s Running Down the Drain and more on water price increases

 

Are you facing a water price increase too? 

I was sitting with my sister in law in my father’s back yard a few weeks ago looking out at the Sacramento River that runs through his back yard. 

“I don’t think I have ever seen it so low.” I mention. 

“It’s crazy isn’t it? We could walk halfway across the river on the rocks.” She points out. 

“You know on the water we are on we were sent a mandate that we will be able to use 40% of last years average at our normal rate and over and above that our rate will jump to 5x’s the regular rate.” 

I looked straight at her face to see if I heard her right and she just just nodded.

“Can you believe that? What about our friends that put in a pool last year and are having a new baby in a few months? They are going to end up with a $1,000 water bill.” She said. 

I literally right then thanked God for the fact that we live on property that has a well and then went to sharing some of the water saving ideas we try to utilize and others I have heard of to help them offset some of the costs. Here are some I shared and a few others I have found since then.

A 5 gallon bucket

I have shared this one before and it always has people saying that’s a great idea. I keep a five gallon bucket in the shower when we are not using it. When we turn on the shower the bucket collects the 2 1/2 gallons of cold water from every shower that comes out before the hot water gets to our shower head. 

I use that hot water for watering plants that aren’t on the drip line or sprinklers and sometimes to fill pet’s water if I don’t have plants that need it. You can also use it in your toilet tank or even on the stove in cooking. The shower water is the exact same that comes out of your faucet at the sink. 

Wrap Your Pipes

Not into the bucket idea? That’s OK. Then make sure that you insulate those pipes so the water get’s warmer faster and to you faster. The quicker it warms up, the less water that uselessly goes down the drain. 

Toilet Tank Bag

I personally have never used this but a plumber friend of mine shared this idea with me for those of us who have older toilets. Essentially it’s basically a balloon that takes up some space in your tank that allows it to fill up with less water. 

Work Less on Your Dishes

I have researched this a lot. I know for a fact that if you hand wash dishes with the water running while you rinse every single thing you will use more water than running a FULL load through the dishwasher but there are way’s you can even cut that down. The most water efficient method. Dish soap side and rinse side both with water. (Add a dab of white vinegar to your rinse side if you really want to get crazy.) But one tip that I remember both sides of my grandparents doing was wiping plates into the garbage fully before they ever touched the sink. 

We live in a lazy culture so we just run water for 45 minutes while the garbage disposal runs. By scraping them fully they only took a second to actually wash and then grandma would always leave the stuck on “stuff” in the sink for a while to let the water do the trick. 

Use Your Clothes Washer Correctly

I know this laundry fairy that has a bad habit of washing everything on bulky or heavy duty setting. That setting is perfect for bedding, or a full load of towels. But for normal articles of clothing regardless of how big your drum is the normal setting should work just fine. The heavier duty the setting the more water is used to get the grime out of those bulky items. And most washers use the same amount of water regardless of the size of your load so be sure to fill the drum before you run it. 

You have a teenager that just has to have that one shirt by tomorrow too? Then I guess it’s her new job to find enough other things that need to be cleaned to run the full load or she can do without. (And I wonder why my kids think I’m mean….. Oh well.)

Fix sink and shower head drips

Or find a way to collect them for another use. I read somewhere that a drippy faucet or shower head could waste 3,000 gallons of water a year. (I don’t remember exactly where, and I could be wrong so don’t bother trying to prove I am.) Regardless that’s a lot of water. As referenced in the bucket earlier it would be fairly easy to use a gallon jug or whatever to collect your water to reuse if you are not going to fix it. 

Flush the toilet when necessary

This one might be way beyond any of your comfort zone but there’s something I’ll never forget. In the drought of 1987  all kinds of conservation slogans were coined. The one I remember the most? “If it’s yellow, let it mellow.” I can’t remember if we actually did this or not but I can tell you times that we’ve had issues with our water I’ve repeated that slogan to my kids. 

Re-purpose cooking water

So you used a pot of water to boil some pasta? Or you’re one of my people and in the summer you canned 100 jars of your famous blackberry jam. Your lemon bush and your herb garden will thank you for it. 

Mulch your plants

Providing a good quality mulch around the base of your plants can retain moisture content. Less evaporation means less water needed. Plus your plants will be healthier. 

Now you go! What is one way that you plan on cutting back your water usage this summer? Leave your tip in the comments below. 

Time Banking

Time Banking, Stop Watch, Silver Watch, Clock

Have you ever had to make ends meet without money? I know for many it’s a reality of life these days.

So let me introduce you to something that regardless of your bottom line this month might be something you might want to consider; because let’s face it….It’s just a fantastic idea.

Time Banking.

It’s a group of families banding together to pool talents and resources.

You earn credits for hours spent doing what your skill set is and can trade them for hours of other services you’re in need of.

Your neighbor is laid off or his business is slow and he does household repairs and you are a great cook?

Trade an hour of drywall repair for a dinner meal. It literally is that simple and yet, it doesn’t have to be traded solely with your neighbor. You may cook for the busy mom down the street who gives his kids rides to baseball practice and so he in turn patches your drywall in the living room. Genius. 

So what can you do?

  • Yard Work
  • Firewood Stacking
  • Child Care
  • Home-Cooked meals
  • Administrative Work
  • Musical Performances
  • Home Repairs
  • Trash Removal
  • Bike Maintenance
  • Music Lessons
  • Juggling Lessons
  • Massage or Pain Therapy
  • Movement Training
  • Care-giving
  • Meal Delivery
  • Housecleaning
  • Car Rides
  • Yard Work
  • Weatherizing
  • Green Home Consulting and Education
  • Automotive Repair
  • E-bay or Craigslist Items to be sold
  • Social Media Management

The possibilities are endless.

Time Banking makes me imagine a small rural community that comes together to help their neighbors in need and a time when people did things for others because it was almost expected in our society. I can’t help but think we could use a bit more of that these days.

There was one theme that I think is amazing in talking to people who have participated in their local time bank.

They talk about how good it feels to help others.

It’s not about earning an hour of work from someone else. It’s about meeting someone’s needs. One woman in particular talked about how depressed she was after she was laid off until she started making dinners for the handyman down the street in trade for some repairs on her home she couldn’t make. Why did it feel so good? Because in a society where money is valued she had none, and yet, suddenly her talents and time were valued. That, to me, is awesome.

That’s something that I want to be a part of regardless of financial situation.

Now it’s your turn. Do you have a story to tell of a community program or something you and a few families implemented to help each other meet their needs. Share it below in the comments. 

Make Liquid Castile Soap at home for a fraction of the cost.

Have you had trouble finding some liquid castile soap for less than $8 a bottle? Yeah me too. That’s why today I’m showing you how to make liquid castile soap at home for a fraction of the cost. 

And around this area there is exactly one place I know for a fact that carries it and a number of others that I know for a fact do not! The same place that happens to be not at all in the route of anything else I go to on a normal weekly basis.

So it occurred to me a while ago when I found one more all natural cleaning product that used it I could most likely make it myself the same way I use any other soap bar. What I can find a number of different places is a castile solid bar soap. So why not turn it right into the liquid version?

Make Liquid Castile Soap, DIY, Liquid Castile, Soap Bar, Soap, DIY Household Cleaners,

Solid shaved topped with 8 cups boiling water. Sitting for a day. Liquid Castile. Done.

I usually pick up a bar of the peppermint and tea tree because those are some of the essential oils that I always add to my cleaners anyway because of their antibacterial properties.

  • Grate your entire bar of castile soap into a large bowl.
  • Add 8 cups of boiling water.
  • Pour over the soap, give it a quick stir, and let sit overnight.
  • Mix and store in a close topped bottle or jar. I love empty vinegar containers for these sorts of things.

That’s it.

Alternately you can also try your hand at making your own natural lye soap to substitute! You will absolutely love the creaminess of it. And if you do use all vegetable based oils you can substitute a bar of that for the castile soap. 

FYI ……If you just happen to find a recipe that calls for it and you want a substitution, try replacing the liquid measurement for some grated Ivory soap. About 1 tbs grated replaces 1/3 to 1/2 cup liquid. I always keep a bar or two of ivory soap on hand for just that. You would be amazing how you can stretch a bar of ivory soap, some white vinegar, and some super washing soda! 

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Make Aloe Vera Gel from Raw Leaves, Your Step by Step Tutorial

Aloe Vera Gel is such a great base ingredient or additive to so many all natural products that I love to have it on hand. But having it on hand doesn’t mean that you have to keep the bottle from the local drug store chock full of unnatural ingredients. So today I’m going to show you exactly how to make aloe vera gel from raw aloe leaves at home with no added harmful ingredients. 

Make Aloe Vera Gel

It takes about 3 minutes and 4 steps to make your own at home from the monster aloe plant growing in your neighbor’s yard.

(Don’t take things out of your neighbor’s yard without asking. That’s stealing. Stealing’s wrong.)

Here is exactly what I do to make my own gel at home from raw aloe leaves. 

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