Tuesday, March 31, 2009

TMR Frugal Living Tip #62

Today's thrifty living tip is reuse your newspapers before throwing into a recycling bin. There are many ways to reuse your daily newspaper, but I'll highlight a few of the more popular ideas. None of these ideas are meant for the colorful glossy ads.

Make packaging material by shredding them. This is easier if you already have a paper shredder.

Use it in the garden as a way to stop weeds. Again only use the black and white sections. Open the papers and lay them flat on the row or area you want to use them and wet them down with the garden hose.

Use shredded paper in the compost pile. You don't need a lot but it makes a great addition.

Use sections of the paper to wipe glass or windows. It doesn't leave any streaks but you will have to wash your hands afterwards.

You can use the Sunday comics as gift wrapping paper.

Of course old paper can make great hats for kids. There are several great sites that will show you how to do this on the internet.

We use old paper when we have crawfish or any kind of seafood boil. My inlaws just chunk the paper along with the peelings into a hole. It breaks down so it doesn't go in the trash. Of course he does this in the cane fields that he owns. This idea might not be viable for just anyone.

Monday, March 30, 2009

A Frightening Experience

We have gotten a lot of severe weather late last week. On Thursday night, we were hit by a tornado! This is rare for South Louisiana unless it's associated with a hurricane or severe weather. It still doesn't happen that often with most thunderstorms. This was my first experience with a tornado and hoping my last. This was definitely one of the scariest things I've ever experienced. It's even scarier since we don't have basements or cellars, because of the sea level, and the ground is too soft to support one.

It was late Thursday night before it happened. We had a line that just passed, and I was watching the Weather Channel to get updates. I was waiting for the second line to pass, and they just dropped the warning for my area. Not even 10 minutes later, close to midnight, I got in my bed just waiting for the impending bad weather. Suddenly I could hear a whooshing sound outside the windows. It didn't sound like a train to me, but more like a strong rush of wind. I could tell it wasn't wind either and I had a bad feeling wash over me. I shook my husband awake frantically asking what was that noise. Of course he was trying to wake up and asking me what noise. I asked him again louder what's that noise and it sounds like a very loud gust of wind coming. I knew it wasn't wind in the normal sense but something else. As he listened, his eyes grew large and his face turned pale. I knew what it was when I saw his face. He commanded me to get in the hallway with our son. He was already in our room laying on a sleeping bag. I grabbed him and ran into the interior closet we have in our hallway. My husband grabbed the flashlight and braced the door from the outside. The house was shaking and you can feel the pressure being sucked out. It didn't last long and probably passed in less than a minute, but it seemed like it took much longer. Of course we lost electricity, and it took a few hours to get it restored since it hit right before the rain and lightening passed.

We had so much adrenaline pumping through our bodies, that we couldn't fall asleep until almost 3AM on Friday morning. We were very lucky that nothing serious happened and we are all safe. I won't lie in saying that I was very frightened, though I was trying to put on a brave face for my son. I am glad that I had all those drills at school when I was a kid. I knew what to do when faced with one. The yard was littered with metal from roofs, awning, and buildings from neighbors. None of it was for us since we don't have any metal structures. My porch took a beating with screens torn and some of the wooden slats were knocked down. My garage and shed also took a beating along with some shingles pulled off my roof. I didn't lose a single one after Gustav. It did a lot of isolated damage and more than any hurricane has ever done. I'm sure this was a small one so I can't even imagine how much damage a large one would cause. My neighbor received more damage than we did. Her neighbor lost their carport (metal) and it was thrown at her house. It mostly broke a window and pulled the window casing out, along with some roof damage, her house is intact. My house also has siding that was cracked from debris hitting the house. We also had metal hanging in our trees. My yard has large and deep gashes from debris hitting the ground. I have never seen that kind of damage done after a hurricane. I also had some damage done to our cars. I have pictures of the damage done, but again we are all safe.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Stop Wasting Food & Get Organized!

I know I'm not the only one that finds long lost items hidden in their pantry or kitchen cabinets. I admit that I've done this more than I care to remember. Not only is it a waste of money, but it's also a waste of time and precious space. I don't have many cabinets so I definitely need to make the space I have count. What can you do to prevent this in the future? The best way is through good organization.

Yes this is a picture of my kitchen cabinet. I do have some convenience food, but I do make the majority of our meals from scratch. My husband and I actually just organized our cabinets this weekend. I was surprised that I didn't have any expired food. I also store a good bit of our foods in Tupperware containers. It keeps them fresher longer, easier to store neatly, and I can see what's inside. I got all of it quite cheaply on sale, and my mom sells it so I can get her discount. Some of these containers are almost a decade old and still look new. I don't expect anyone to go out and buy Tupperware.

I put all my spices and baking items on the bottom shelf. I use this on a daily basis. You won't see my sugar or flour because I keep it on my counter in canisters along with my rice. I also store my small amount of canned goods on the bottom shelf. The second shelf has all the snack foods and some of the boxed foods. The top is where I keep the taller containers like syrup, cooking oil, and such. I can see everything easily and food no longer goes to waste. I do keep extras of sale items on a bookshelf in my washroom. I just don't have enough room to store all my food in the cabinet.

I challenge you to get your pantry/kitchen cabinets organized today! Start using that food, and stop wasting your money on food that goes bad before you can eat it. You will save lots of money and time in the future.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Feeling Overwhelmed with Vacation Plans

I posted earlier that we are going to Walt Disney World for a family vacation this year. The closer we approach our departure date, I must admit I'm feeling overwhelmed with the planning process. We are staying on grounds at the Port of Orleans French Quarter resort. With the current buy 4 nights and get 3 free promotion, we were able to stay at the more expensive resort for only a couple hundred more than a value. We are also getting 7 base Magic Your Way tickets for all 3 of us. This is a fantastic deal considering last year we would have spent almost as much for only 5 days at Pop Century in a standard room with base tickets for only 4 days. We are also going to fly and use the Magic Express service Disney offers.

This was the easy part for me. Now I'm getting overwhelmed with all the smaller details of making a daily ternary for each park. Not to mention, I need to figure out which day we will be going to the parks. I am finding all of this extremely stressful. I do have a couple of books and maps of the parks that a friend of mine is letting me use. I also frequent the DIS discussion boards which has been very helpful. I do love organizing and planning, but I find this process to be intimidating. I decided to just take it one step at a time with which rides we want to do, and which we don't care about. We are planning on spending 2 days at Magic Kingdom since it's so big and has the majority of the rides on our list. Luckily we are mostly eating at counter service places so I don't have to worry about making reservations. We are definitely planning to eat at the T-Rex restaurant. My son is so excited and hitting the Lego store is also on the top of must do list at Disney. If anyone has any great tips, then I am definitely all ears (no pun intended).

Sunday, March 22, 2009

TMR Frugal Living Tip #61

Today's thrifty living tip is add a little water to your liquid hand soap. I don't fill the pump container all the way to the top, and I add just a small amount of water. I don't actually measure the water but just enough to thin it out. Then I shake well to help mix the water and soap. I find most liquid soaps are pretty thick which gets wasted. This is especially true if you have small children. My mom uses baby shampoo as a hand soap, and she still puts a little water in the dispenser. I got my soap almost free with sales and coupons. I have used baby shampoo which does work and smell great.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

My New Garden!

One of the things I love most about living in South Louisiana is the long growing season. Our spring starts as early as February. The clover is already growing in my yard, the buds are forming, and it's time to plant vegetables. I have had a vegetable garden before, but I never kept it up mostly due to time constraints or laziness on my part. This year I'm determined to keep it up more than a couple of months.

Many people try to start with too many rows or beds, or too many different types of vegetables or fruits. I'm starting out small this time. I have two long rows my husband tilled with a shovel. We have really great dirt in our yard. Then another complaint people have is either they don't have a green thumb or the space to put a garden. Well not everyone is fortunate enough to have an acre of land. Start out with container plants. Almost everyone has space for a container of tomatoes or even herbs.

Now I have killed a couple of plants, but most of what I plant does quite well. I first started out by just planting mostly perennials around my house. Then a couple of years later, I planted a couple of wild blackberry bushes which have done extremely well. I say start out slowly, but also make sure what you are growing will do well in your area. Where you plant makes a huge difference. Don't plant things that need full sun in mostly shady areas and vice versa. Make sure you know how much sun or shade that plant needs. Pretty much all vegetables need at least 6-8 hours of sun daily.

My husband tore down an extremely old shed last summer. It's a nice open dirt patch with the fig tree behind it. I need to prune that tree back before it blooms too much. I thought that patch was the perfect spot to start my garden. We only tilled part of it, but I can always add more rows in the future. Then I amended the soil with bagged manure, peat moss, and my inlaws gave me free bagasse. This is a sugarcane by-product which is great for gardening. He got me the kind that was a couple of years old and very crumbly. It really looks like a mulch. I also sprinkled a small amount of triple 13 fertilizer. I mixed it up in the soil very well and let it sit for a couple of weeks. My husband made the mounds for me this past week, and I planted cucumbers and Roma tomatoes. I usually use the fertilizer initially on new beds, but I never add more. I also put a small amount since I do have good soil, and I put lots of other additions to my soil. I have started a compost pile so in the future I will add this to my garden. Below are some pictures.

My inlaws also gave us several Roma tomatoes he started from seeds. I decided to just throw some seeds in the ground and see what happens. I have a friend who does this with great success but you have to pinch the excess. I think one of the great things about gardening is experimenting with different methods. Most gardeners swear by using tomato transplants only in the garden, but I wanted to experiment with just planting the seeds directly in the ground. I also plan to keep notes so I can refer back to them from year to year. I do have plans to plant more fruit trees and bushes in the coming years. I just planted two blueberry bushes which are already doing fabulous. I spent $7 on each bush at my local nursery for a year old plants. They already have lots of blooms plus I see several new shoots. I will post more about how my garden is doing, and I am very excited in seeing the new life.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

An Update....

Again I have to apologize for not writing new posts in a couple of weeks. Life has been pretty busy lately. I was substitute teaching at my son's school almost on a full-time basis. My son was having some trouble with me being at school so I had to stop. While I'm a little sad, I must say I'm glad to be back at home again. I was tired after working all day that we were eating out more or eating more convenience food. I also was doing all my housework on the weekends so I didn't really get to enjoy being with my family. It's nice to be able to do my work during the week while my two guys aren't home.

I also have quit doing paid posting on my blog. I am going to be cutting my other two blogs soon. I will have just this one again so I do plan on focusing on it more. I just didn't have much time to work on it while I was working daily. I think for now it's better I'm at home. I will say that working in a school is one of the best ways to work if you have school age children. I do plan on volunteering more at his school. This way I can set my hours, and I really enjoy having time to get the shopping done by myself. No more hearing mom can I have this or that? I can get into the store, grab what I need, and get out!

My plans for this blog include more posts about saving money, cooking more from scratch, some reviews on different products and such, plus so much more! I also have more daily frugal living tips to share. I am happy that I won't be doing anymore posts which don't have anything to do with my blog. That's one of the pitfalls of doing paid posts for certain companies. You don't always have a choice of what you want to write. I don't advocate several of the topics that I was required to write about like diet pills and electronics. Instead I'm considering a couple of carefully selected ads that would complement my blog.