Saturday, October 25, 2014

Have a Craft Day {Day 21}

This is the twenty-first post in my 31 Days of Living on Less Series. If you'd like to read all the posts in order, go to Day 1.

One of the first things I did when I realized we were looking at unemployment, was to take inventory of what we had to work with. I looked at food, craft supplies, clothing, and possible items to sell. I had all of this orange fabric already that I was hoping to use for a fall craft. And then my mom blessed me with some more! 

We spent a cozy, rainy afternoon making these simple fabric pumpkins a couple of weeks ago. We had such an abundance that I was able to give some away! We used a real tree branch that had fallen in the backyard for the stems.
In addition to looking at what supplies you already have on hand, it's also fun to see what can be made with natural objects like pinecones and acorns. My children gathered these, and we hope to use them for crafts. Or maybe we'll just put them in a bowl or basket as a decoration.
I asked my children to find some acorns for me to go around my candle. One thing I did learn is that if you're going to use acorns for crafts, you should clean and bake them in a low oven to kill anything living in them.
Another free craft idea is to make salt dough. It's just flour, salt, oil, and water, and I already had these things on hand. I found this simple recipe and the idea for making vegetables at Wee Folk Art
The salt dough vegetables have been played with quite a lot! They're a great addition to our play farm. 
Here are some other ideas for inexpensive crafts:

Friday, October 24, 2014

Have a Tea Party {Day 20}

This is the twentieth post in my 31 Days of Living on Less Series. If you'd like to read all the posts in order, go to Day 1.

Sometimes you just need a break. And what better way to enjoy some family time than with a tea party? I have "tea time" on our schedule for every Friday afternoon. We don't always get to it, but it's one of my goals. Everyone gets excited thinking about a tea party after spending the morning cleaning. We get most of our tea from the discount grocery store, so it's not an expensive luxury.
I was excited to find this pumpkin spice tea after organizing our pantry. It was so delicious and just right for an autumn tea party! We also love to make scones to have with our tea. These are soaked whole wheat ones topped with cinnamon/sucanat. Not as good as a confectioner's glaze, but healthier for an everyday tea party. :)
Here are some recipes that would be perfect for an autumn tea party:

As you're working toward a simpler, more frugal lifestyle, tea parties can be an inexpensive pleasure to enjoy!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Get Free Stuff {Day 19}

This is the nineteenth post in my 31 Days of Living on Less Series. If you'd like to read all the posts in order, go to Day 1.

Whenever you're on a strict budget, it just makes sense to try to get as much as possible for free. I love getting free stuff! Here are some of the ways we've been able to get things for free (the photo above shows a pile of free samples we received a few years ago):
  1. Join Zulily. If you use your personal referral code to invite friends, when their first order ships, you get referral credits, which you can then use to get clothing, housewares, and lots more for free! A couple more clothing places where you can get credit for referring others: ThredUp and Twice. I've ordered from both of these and loved the items I received, so I can wholeheartedly recommend them to others.
  2. Get 60 free 4x6 prints at York photo. After you click this link, you will get a coupon code to use when you place your order, and you'll get 60 prints for free! I was also able to get 20 free photo Christmas cards from York photo last year (with a special offer I took advantage of).
  3. Check this page for the Daily Free Samples. Sometimes you can get really neat things for free here.
  4. Sign up for a Swagbucks account, and use it for your search engine. We have received so many free Amazon gift cards just for using this search engine. The $5 gift cards really add up! If you're unsure how this program works, read my post (from a few years ago) on getting the most out of Swagbucks.
  5. Use Paperback Swap to get free books. 
  6. Join the Tyndale Rewards Program (if you use my link, you'll get 25 points just for signing up!). You can get Christian books and even Bibles for free! You get points for inviting others to join (you receive the points after they sign up), writing reviews of Tyndale books you've read, submitting questions for authors, taking surveys, etc. Right after signing up, I did a few surveys, signed up for a newsletter of my choice, completed a couple more quick tasks, and just like that I had enough points for a free book (which is on the way to me)!
  7. Sign up at Recyclebank. You get points for learning about making greener lifestyle choices (you do this by taking short little quizzes, clicking through a photo slideshow, etc.) and taking actions like recycling. The points add up quickly, and you can redeem them for a variety of things (my favorite is free gift cards!).
What's your favorite resource for free stuff?
This post contains my referral links.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Consider Cloth {Day 18}

This is the eighteenth post in my 31 Days of Living on Less Series. If you'd like to read all the posts in order, go to Day 1.

I first heard of "mama cloth," or cloth menstrual pads, when I was expecting my second baby (over 13 years ago). I had decided to use cloth diapers, and while I was researching the diapers, I came across many catalogs that sold cloth for mom as well as for baby.
I have to admit that at first I was kind of grossed out by the idea. I'd never even considered such a thing. But as I was exposed to it more and more, it didn't seem as strange, and it started making a lot of sense. However, it took me about 5 more years before I was actually willing to try them for myself!
I used cloth pads for several years when we were trying to live with the Amish-Mennonites in our area. It was hard to get used to at first, but then it became routine for me.
I stopped using cloth pads several years ago, and went back to disposable products. We had left the "Amish" way of life, and I kind of liked the idea of just disposing of everything without having to wash them. Also, I'm often able to find natural disposable products at our local Amish discount grocery store.

A couple of years ago, my parents gave me some money for my birthday. I was thinking about preparedness and what I would do if I had to take care of things without visiting a store. I used my birthday money to buy new cloth pads! And a wooden drying rack! I still kind of can't believe I did that, but now I have a supply of pretty new cloth pads to use.
Here are some of the places I purchased cloth pads and other products (like the wet bag, pictured above):
I think the handmade pads are actually pretty, and I love supporting small home businesses! From what I have read, cloth is much better for the environment and also for our bodies. I have to admit that right now I still use my disposables, but I may be switching back to cloth soon!

Would you ever consider using cloth, especially if it saved money?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Make Your Own Beauty Products {Day 17}

This is the seventeenth post in my 31 Days of Living on Less Series. If you'd like to read all the posts in order, go to Day 1.

Just like making your own cleaning products, sometimes it's cheaper to make your own beauty products (depending on the availability of the ingredients). I also like making some of my own products since it's fun and the ingredients are usually more health-promoting. 

Here are some of the beauty products I've made in the past (and I'm including body products in with the "beauty products"):
I've also made a natural stick deodorant that we really like (recipe for that coming one of these days!), and a tooth powder that I like (again, hopefully I can share that sometime).

I've pinned so many beauty product how-tos on my natural beauty Pinterest board. One of these days maybe I'll make some of them! Here are a few of the ones I'm really interested in:
Sometimes this won't be the most frugal option, but when you've already got some of these ingredients on hand (like we do), it really can save money. Also, buying the ingredients in bulk and making your own can still often be cheaper.

Do you make any of your own beauty/body products?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Cut Your Own Hair {Day 16}

This is the sixteenth post in my 31 Days of Living on Less Series. If you'd like to read all the posts in order, go to Day 1.

One of the main ways I've been saving money for years is by cutting all the hair in our family. I've been cutting my husband's hair for over 13 years. He used to cut my hair for me, but I've been cutting my own for about the past 7 years.
For the guys, I use a combination of electric clippers and scissors. My girls' hair is pretty easy to cut. When I cut my own, I follow these steps: 
  1. Wash and style as usual. I blot it dry with a lint-free towel, or you can use an old t-shirt. Then I add gel and scrunch to get the curls to form their usual curl pattern.
  2. Wait until it dries naturally.
  3. I divide my hair into two parts, as if I was going to make two pigtails. I bring each half forward and let them rest on my shoulders.
  4. I cut each curl section individually. Surprisingly, this doesn't take long.
  5. Then I might add a few layers to the sides.
  6. Check the hair to make sure it's even (as even as it can be when you're dealing with curls!). I find I often need to even up a few sections here and there and cut any stray hairs I might have missed.
  7. That's it! You can find lots of videos on YouTube if you need a visual.

One nice thing about having curly hair is that my mistakes aren't as obvious! Honestly, if I was blessed with straight hair, I'd go to a salon and get a cute hair cut! So maybe it's a good thing I don't have straight hair--I save more money this way.
Just think of all the money we save by cutting our own hair! We never need to visit a salon, so we're saved that expense, which would be significant with seven people needing hair cuts!

Here are a couple of my favorite hair cutting tutorials (in case you're interested in cutting your own):
Have you ever cut your own (or a family member's) hair?

Linking up with: The Modest Mom

My Favorite Water Purifier {Royal Berkey Giveaway!}

My guess is that you are blessed with access to clean running water. We don't really worry about getting parasites or other waterborne diseases when we turn on our tap. But while we are blessed with clean water coming through indoor plumbing, are you aware of some of the environmental contaminants that are frequently found in that water? Traces of heavy metals like mercury and aluminum, pesticide residues, and volatile organic compounds can be found in our drinking water!
  Berkey Giveaway Banner from Positively Real Media 
This is why the bloggers of Positively Real Media are so excited to be teaming up to bring to you a Royal Berkey 3.25 Gallon Stainless Steel Water Purifier giveaway sponsored by United Environmental Solutions!

About The Berkey

Berkey water purifiers are truly unique water purifying systems. According to UES, they are able to remove red food coloring from water while still allowing beneficial minerals to remain! As free-standing units that put the power of gravity to use, the Berkey systems don't use any electricity. This makes them excellent systems to have on hand while camping or during power outages. Positively Real Media is giving away a Royal Berkey While whole house filtration systems can be fantastic solutions to the problem of residual water contamination, they are simply out of the budget for most families. However, a Berkey system is a fraction of the cost and can filter 4 gallons of water per hour, making it a great fit for families! If you want to ensure that your family's drinking and cooking water is as clean and pure as it can be, a Berkey may be just what you need!

We've been happy Berkey users for over 10 years now, and we feel that these are the best water purifiers available! I especially like that if the power went out for whatever reason, we'd be able to filter any available water to make it safe for our family to drink.

Win A 3.25 Gallon Royal Berkey!

The bloggers of Positively Real Media, a network of naturally-minded Christian bloggers, are thrilled to be able to offer one of our readers a 3.25 Gallon Royal Berkey Stainless Steel Water Purifier, valued at $300! Many thanks to United Environmental Solutions for providing this fantastic prize to one blessed reader. Just use the Rafflecopter form below to get your entries in! Giveaway details: This giveaway is open to the USA only. You are not required to like any of the Facebook pages to enter the giveaway (although doing so may increase your odds of winning). There is a free entry option that you can use to enter. a Rafflecopter giveaway