My clothes smell like sunshine! I love my clothesline!

Clothesline

 

I have a confession to make.

I love our clothesline!   Our whites are whiter, and everything smells like sunshine!  I’d probably hang our clothes out to dry, even if it didn’t save money.  But, it does save money, so BONUS!

According to some sort of super technical report, running an electric dryer costs roughly 49 cents per load.  Around here we go through at least one load of laundry per day, so costs add up quickly.  Hanging a load of laundry takes me about a minute, and another minute to take it down when it’s dry.  2 minutes in the sunshine to save 49 cents??  Sounds better than clipping coupons!

Electricity isn’t the only thing you’ll be saving when you switch to line drying your laundry.  Have you ever wondered what all that junk is in your lint trap?  It’s your clothes!  Each time your favorite sweatshirt goes for a  tumble in the dryer some of it’s fibers rub off.  Unless your going to knit a sweater out of dryer lint, you’re just letting your clothes waste away.  Lame!  Dryer heat also wreaks havoc on clothing’s elastic.  And nobody likes saggy undies!

Oh, and the reason our whites are whiter and our laundry smells like sunshine is that the sun naturally kills the bacteria hanging out in our laundry.  Yay!

Clotheslines are awesome!  Give this money saving switch a try!

 

 

Oven dried apple peels: An easy apple recipe to make the most of your harvest!

SONY DSC
‘Tis the season for apple everything!  My mom has  some apple trees that produce really well, so we’ve been swimming in apples for over a month.

 

I’ve made apple pies, apple muffins, apple cake, applesauce, and dried apple slices.  All this apple processing leaves me with heaps of apple peels, which I can’t bear to throw away.

 

A few years ago I stumbled across the greatest way to use up all of those apple peels!  Sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar, and bake them!  They’re AMAZING!  My family’s actually enjoys these delicious little snacks more than anything else I make during apple season!

 

Give them a try!
Ingredients:

Apple peels, (duh!)

Cinnamon sugar mixture, (Roughly 1/8 cup sugar, 1/4 tsp cinnamon for every 6 apples)

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 250 degrees

Toss apple peels with cinnamon sugar mixture and spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet, (parchment or baking mats makes clean up easier).

Bake for 2 hours, or until the peels feel crisp.

 

This is one easy apple recipe!

Watch TV for free

FREE

Free broadcast TV with a digital antenna- Great channels, like ABC and NBC, CBS, and more can be had for free, as well as sports games, etc…  See which channels you can get for free in your area!  For more information on how to use an antenna, check out http://www.fcc.gov/guides/antennas-and-digital-television.

Watch TV shows for free on network websites- ABC, NBC, Starz, and many other networks have full length episodes available on their websites.  Don’t want to watch on your computer’s small screen?  Use an HDMI cable to send the show from your computer to your tv screen.  Don’t have a computer?  Go to the library and watch shows on their computers!

Check out DVDs from your local library-   Most libraries have a great selection of movies and TV shows on DVD that can be borrowed for free!

Watch TV at a friend’s house-  Do your cable subscribing friends enjoy the same shows you do?  Make a weekly date to watch TV together.

Cheap healthy food! What to buy when you’re broke

"Boston Baked Beans in Concord, Mass 2012-0193" by Victorgrigas - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Boston_Baked_Beans_in_Concord,_Mass_2012-0193.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Boston_Baked_Beans_in_Concord,_Mass_2012-0193.jpg
Eating well on a budget doesn’t have to be a challenge!  Check out these super cheap healthy foods!  No coupons required!

 

Oatmeal
A serving of homemade oatmeal makes a filling breakfast for less than 10 cents.  It’s an easy way to get some whole grains, too!

 

Eggs
Eggs are a much cheaper source of protein than meat.  They’re fantastic at breakfast lunch and dinner!

 

Beans
Canned beans are affordable at around 28 cents per serving.  But, dried beans are a steal at 7 cents per serving!  Dried beans don’t require as much work as it seems, so don’t be afraid!  Soak overnight, then put them in a crock pot with some spices, and let them cook all day while you’re at work. You’ll come home to perfectly cooked beans.

 

Popcorn
A serving of potato chips costs around 40 cents, while a serving of popcorn costs around 11 cents.  I always serve popcorn when my kids have their friends over!

 

Rice
Brown rice is a great source of fiber for around 18 cents per serving.  White rice is even cheaper, but doesn’t have much nutritional value.

 

Greens
Kale, spinach, and other greens can often be had for less than $1 per bunch.  They’re super healthy, and surprisingly filling!

 

Potatoes
Potatoes can be found for less than $1 per pound, which is around 33 cents a serving.  They’re super filling, and can be served as a side to almost anything!

 

Corn tortillas- Are a low cost, easy way to sneak in some grains.  Use them to make tacos or quesadillas for a cheap, easy meal.

 

Bone-in meats
Bone-in cuts of meat are much cheaper than boneless.    Cook the whole piece of meat the first night, and use left over meat for sandwiches all week, instead of pricey lunch meat, ($1/lb chicken instead of $8/lb lunch meat=winning!).  Or use the leftover meat to make tacos, top a salad, top some noodles, etc…..When you’ve used up all the meat, use the bones to make soup!

 

 Noodles
A box of noodles can be had for around $1.  Top noodles with leftover a $2 jar of pasta sauce, and you’ve got a cheap dinner.  Ramen is even cheaper, and can be topped with leftover protein for a yummy dinner.

 

Iced tea
Home brewed iced tea is a refreshing alternative to soda, at just 2 cents per glass. Soda costs around 25 cents a glass, so switching to tea is a huge savings.  It’s healthier, too!

Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe Round-up!

By Takeaway (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Starbucks’ pumpkin spice latte is ridiculously expensive, and contains no actual pumpkin.  What it does contain is artificial coloring, pesticide residue, and heaps of sugar. If you’re looking for an alternative to Starbucks’ $4 cup of chemicals, check out these recipes and make your own Pumpkin Spice Latte!

Only 40 cents per cup!

Only 40 cents per cup!

Almost the real deal!

Almost the real deal!

A healthier version!

A healthier version!

No need for an espresso machine!

No need for an espresso machine!

Spiked Pumpkin Spice Latte!

Spiked Pumpkin Spice Latte!

Frothy!

Frothy!

 

How to throw a BBQ on the cheap

CHEAP BBQ
CHEAP BBQ

Photo courtesy of thebittenword.com
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

 

 

 

Hosting a BBQ is a great way to celebrate Labor Day, and enjoy the last bit of summer.  There’s no need to go broke just to have some fun with your friends.  Check out these 7 tips for throwing a  BBQ on the cheap.

 

Make it a potluck-  Grill the main dish yourself, but ask your friends to bring a side dish, dessert, or drinks.  If your friends aren’t a*#holes, they’ll be happy to contribute.

 

Plan an inexpensive menu- If chicken drumsticks are on sale for 79 cents a pound, that’s what you should be serving….not $4 a pound hamburgers.  Beans and homemade potato salad are super cheap, filling side dishes.  Popcorn is much cheaper than chips, and people love it!

 

Think big- Mix up a big pitcher of punch, lemonade, iced tea, or even water with a few lemon slices thrown in.  Alcoholic punches are a cheap way to celebrate, especially if you make your friends bring the booze.

 

Don’t compare yourself to others-  Browsing the internet for inspiration is great, but it can make even the craftiest of us feel inadequate.  Don’t stress if your BBQ food isn’t as fantastic as what you saw on Pinterest.

 

Ditch the decorations- Don’t waste your time and money on over the top decorations.  Your friends want to hang out with you, not Martha Stewart.

 

Focus on fun-  For an adults only barbecue all you need is some background music.  Cue up Pandora on your smart phone or computer for free tunes.  Sidewalk chalk, bubbles, and large bouncy balls are incredibly cheap fun for kids.  Looking for something more active?  Consider a backyard game of soccer, softball, or even tag.

 

Go Reusable- Don’t waste money on disposable plates, cups, silverware, etc….Use your everyday dishes, if you have enough.  If you entertain often, consider investing in lightweight, dishwasher safe party plates.

See?  It’s easy to throw a BBQ  on the cheap!  Try it this weekend!

Napa earthquake 2014: Be prepared for the next one!

Earthquake damage

We were shaken awake this morning by a pretty scary earthquake.  It was the biggest earthquake in the Bay Area since “the big one” in 1989!

After the house stopped shaking we went outside and met up with our sleepy, confused neighbors.  We laughed and chatted, and went back inside, to homes with very little damage.  Even the bunk bed I assembled, (from a very confusing instruction manual), held up, which is great because I’d hate to be responsible for squishing one of my kiddos.

Not everyone fared as well as we did, which is why it’s so important to have a plan for situations like these.  My plan is to follow my husband around, (he’s a combat veteran and prepared for anything), and do whatever he says.  Works like a charm.

If you don’t have your own personal badass to give you emergency instructions, check out these tips from ready.gov.  They’ll help you prepare for next time…..and there will be a next time, California.

 

 Before an Earthquake

The following are things you can do to protect yourself, your family and your property in the event of an earthquake.

  • To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kitand make a family communications plan.
  • Fasten shelves securely to walls.
  • Place large or heavy objects on lower shelves.
  • Store breakable items such as bottled foods, glass, and china in low, closed cabinets with latches.
  • Fasten heavy items such as pictures and mirrors securely to walls and away from beds, couches and anywhere people sit.
  • Brace overhead light fixtures and top heavy objects.
  • Repair defective electrical wiring and leaky gas connections. These are potential fire risks. Get appropriate professional help. Do not work with gas or electrical lines yourself.
  • Install flexible pipe fittings to avoid gas or water leaks. Flexible fittings are more resistant to breakage.
  • Secure your water heater, refrigerator, furnace and gas appliances by strapping them to the wall studs and bolting to the floor. If recommended by your gas company, have an automatic gas shut-off valve installed that is triggered by strong vibrations.
  • Repair any deep cracks in ceilings or foundations. Get expert advice if there are signs of structural defects.
  • Be sure the residence is firmly anchored to its foundation.
  • Store weed killers, pesticides, and flammable products securely in closed cabinets with latches and on bottom shelves.
  • Locate safe spots in each room under a sturdy table or against an inside wall. Reinforce this information by moving to these places during each drill.
  • Hold earthquake drills with your family members: Drop, cover and hold on.

 

Drop, cover and Hold On. Minimize your movements to a few steps to a nearby safe place and if you are indoors, stay there until the shaking has stopped and you are sure exiting is safe.

If Indoors

  • DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.
  • Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.
  • Stay in bed if you are there when the earthquake strikes. Hold on and protect your head with a pillow, unless you are under a heavy light fixture that could fall. In that case, move to the nearest safe place.
  • Do not use a doorway except if you know it is a strongly supported, load-bearing doorway and it is close to you. Many inside doorways are lightly constructed and do not offer protection.
  • Stay inside until the shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Do not exit a building during the shaking. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.
  • DO NOT use the elevators.
  • Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.

If Outdoors

  • Stay there.
  • Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires.
  • Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops. The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exits and alongside exterior walls. Many of the 120 fatalities from the 1933 Long Beach earthquake occurred when people ran outside of buildings only to be killed by falling debris from collapsing walls. Ground movement during an earthquake is seldom the direct cause of death or injury. Most earthquake-related casualties result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects.

If in a Moving Vehicle

  • Stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires.
  • Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that might have been damaged by the earthquake.

If Trapped Under Debris

  • Do not light a match.
  • Do not move about or kick up dust.
  • Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.
  • Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort. Shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.

 After an Earthquake

  • When the shaking stops, look around to make sure it is safe to move. Then exit the building.
  • Expect aftershocks. These secondary shockwaves are usually less violent than the main quake but can be strong enough to do additional damage to weakened structures and can occur in the first hours, days, weeks, or even months after the quake.
  • Help injured or trapped persons. Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance such as infants, the elderly and people with access and functional needs. Give first aid where appropriate. Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. Call for help.
  • Look for and extinguish small fires. Fire is the most common hazard after an earthquake.
  • Listen to a battery-operated radio or television for the latest emergency information.
  • Be aware of possible tsunamis if you live in coastal areas. These are also known as seismic sea waves (mistakenly called “tidal waves”). When local authorities issue a tsunami warning, assume that a series of dangerous waves is on the way. Stay away from the beach.
  • Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
  • Go to a designated public shelter if your home had been damaged and is no longer safe. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345).
  • Stay away from damaged areas. Stay away unless your assistance has been specifically requested by police, fire, or relief organizations. Return home only when authorities say it is safe.
  • Be careful when driving after an earthquake and anticipate traffic light outages.
  • After it is determined that its’ safe to return, your safety should be your primary priority as you begin clean up and recovery.
  • Open cabinets cautiously. Beware of objects that can fall off shelves.
  • Find out how to keep food safe during and after and emergency by visiting:http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/emergency/index.html
  • Put on long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, sturdy shoes and work gloves to protect against injury from broken objects.
  • Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline or other flammable liquids immediately. Leave the area if you smell gas or fumes from other chemicals.
  • Inspect the entire length of chimneys for damage. Unnoticed damage could lead to a fire.
  • Inspect utilities.
    • Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can and call the gas company from a neighbor’s home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, it must be turned back on by a professional.
    • Look for electrical system damage. If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if you smell hot insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If you have to step in water to get to the fuse box or circuit breaker, call an electrician first for advice.
    • Check for sewage and water lines damage. If you suspect sewage lines are damaged, avoid using the toilets and call a plumber. If water pipes are damaged, contact the water company and avoid using water from the tap. You can obtain safe water by melting ice cubes.

 

Cut the cable! Save money by streaming your favorite shows and movies

tv

The average cable TV subscription costs around $75 per month.  That’s $900 a year!  We’ve never wanted to spend that kind of money on cable, so for years our entertainment came from bunny ears and Blockbuster.  And then came streaming…….

We pay $7.99 per month for Netflix’s streaming plan, which is so much cheaper than a $75 cable subscription.  Streaming requires high speed internet, but we have that already, (I work from home), so it’s not an additional cost for us.

I love Netflix, because it’s easy to use and has awesome exclusive shows, like Orange is the New Black and House of Cards.  But, there are several great options out there, including:

Netflix-$8.99/month

Past seasons of tv shows and movies, no commercials.

Hulu streaming-$8

More recent episodes of tv shows, but you still have to watch commercials

Amazon Prime-$8.25/month, or $4.08/month for students

Past seasons of TV shows, movies, and free 2 day shipping

 

Streaming is super easy, but it may require some inexpensive equipment, depending on what you already have.

If you have a Smart TV, Playstation 3 or 4, or an Xbox 360- streaming can be done with no additional equipment.

If you have a computer- You can watch streaming shows and movies right on your computer or laptop.  If you’d rather watch on your tv, use an HDMI cable to connect your computer with your tv.  This will project whatever you’re streaming on your computer to your television.

If you have a smartphone- Devices like Google Chromecast (Android), Apple TV (iphone), and Roku Streaming stick (either iphone or Android), can send whatever you’re streaming on your phone to your television screen.

If you don’t have a computer or smartphone- You can still stream shows and movies onto your tv with a Roku box, an Amazon Fire, or a Tivo Roamio.

 

 

Happy tv watching!

Snack time! Healthy snack ideas

Granola bars

My kids start school next week, and I’m thinking about healthy snack ideas!  Snacks to send with them to school, snacks for them to eat when they get home, snacks to share with every damn kid they bring home.

I usually go for easy snacks; apples with peanut butter, ants on a log, or hard boiled eggs.  But….sometimes it’s fun to add a little variety.  Here’s a roundup of healthy snack ideas that we love.

 

Whole Grain Fruit Bars

Whole Grain Fruit Bars

Peanut Butter Balls

No bake Oatmeal Peanut Butter Balls

zee-bar-bites-2

Zee Bar Cookies

Granola bars

Homemade Granola Bars

popcorn

Stovetop Popcorn

healthy snack ideas

Zucchini Muffins

healthy snack ideas

Apple Smiles

(Mini marshmallows stuck between apple slices with peanut butter)

Fast food! Make homemade snacks more convenient!

Healthy Snacks

 My family is lazy.  Packages make things easier.  Snacks that require two hands, or a plate, are out of the question.  Will they open a tupperware container of homemade muffins?  Never.  Spread some peanut butter onto a piece of toast?  Not likely.
Sometimes my homemade goodies get skipped over because they just can’t compete with the convenience of packaged food.  And that really pisses me off.  I can’t afford to buy these people packages of crap, just because they’re too lazy to open a container, and put some food on a plate.
My solution?  Three big glass jars, filled with homemade snacks, sitting on the counter at all times.  The contents are obvious, which is great because no one ever actually looks for anything.  Each jar can be opened with one hand, so the kids can grab something and GET OUT OF THE KITCHEN!
The largest jar is filled with rolls that I make a couple of times a week.   My family would rather starve than slice a loaf of homemade bread, but rolls are a different story.  They’ll happily snatch a roll from the jar on their way through the kitchen.Sometimes they’ll even throw some sandwichy things on it.

The medium sized jar is filled a rotating supply of snack foods…..homemade graham crackers, healthy muffins, cookies, popcorn, etc…..
The small jar is filled with nuts, homemade whole wheat crackers, or homemade granola bars.
Anything that I put in these jars is gobbled up almost immediately.  Seriously.  I put kale chips in there once and they were gone in less than 5 minutes. Success!

Anchor Hocking 85545R Half-Gallon Heritage Hill Glass Jar with Cover (these are the actual jars that I have, if you’re interested)

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