3 Tips for a Frugal Christmas

Tis the season! It’s Christmas! I love this holiday! It’s my favorite time of the year. There is only one thing that has really bummed it out for me as an adult and that is the cost. I had no idea how expensive Christmas is for adults. I just thought Santa took care of everyone. Bummer that he isn’t real. But is there a way to make Christmas not so expensive? Yes there is. Here is my list of ideas to make more joy in the season while everyone else around you is going crazy.

  • Everyone Loves Handmade

There is nothing wrong with a handmade gift. It’s not cheap looking and I have found that people appreciate them more. I have made Christmas gifts many years in a row and everyone has loved them but here is the beauty of doing things by hand. The supplies are not expensive since you are doing the blunt labor. So where you are saving money is the time.

cork deer.jpeg

For example, I made embroidery portraits for the people on my list. The supplies costed under $10 for all of them, but it took me two months to make them all. So I saved a ton of money, but I had to take more time in making each gift. So there is a trade off, but if you are trying to save money, isn’t it worth it?

  • Do Secret Santa

Another money saving option is to do secret Santa! I love secret Santa and both of my family sides does it so I only have to buy two gifts for family. But isn’t there always a person who misses out on the fun because they have to be keeper of the list? There is an awesome site called www.elfster.com. It assigns the people for you so that there is no one person who has to facilitate and not participate. So if you are looking for a secret Santa site check them out.

secret santa

  • Cook For People

People love food. My husband would take a plate of cookies over a gift any day. There is no bad time to give people food and there are so many ideas on Pinterest for mason jars meals and such. There’s cookie mixes, cake mixes, hot chocolate mixes, and soup mixes. Pretty much anything you can think of can be found online so feel free to have fun while looking!

mason jar

So there are some ideas to help with making this Christmas a little more affordable. If you have any others, please feel free to leave them in the comments, but above all have a very Merry Christmas!

merry christmas.jpeg

Advertisements

How to Make Vegetable Broth

Living life can get busy. Yeah, really busy. But I have to make time to what I love. Jam and homemade veggie broth and soup are my new obsessions right now with the colder weather setting in. They are supper easy and there is little you can do to mess it up, which works for a busy mom like me. But today I want to share with you my secret on making the best veggie both for soups.

Things needed:

  • 1 Gallon Zipper Bag
  • Veggie Scraps
  • Big enough pot
  • As much water as needed to cover scrap
  • Cheese Cloth
  • Strainer
  • 1 Tbsp Salt
  • 1 Tbsp Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Garlic Powder
  1. First you need to collect your scraps. Depending on how much veggies you eat this could take a couple of days or weeks, but get enough to fill a zipper bag.
  2. Once the bag is full, get out a large pot and fill it with water just enough to cover the scrapes with water.
  3. Put on the stove to a medium boil for thirty-forty minutes.
  4. Let cool until broth is workable.
  5. Place strainer in a large bowl or another pot to catch the broth, and line with cheese cloth.
  6. Pour broth into the lined strainer.
  7. Squeeze remaining broth out of the veggies by wrapping them in the cheese cloth. Throw cheese clothed item away.
  8. Return broth back to the stove and add the seasonings. I like as strong so add the seasonings in 1/2 teaspoon at a time until the flavor you want is there. You can also add spices like cumin, cayenne, and oregano if desired. Let the broth boil another ten minutes.

And you’re done. You just saved yourself a lot of money and this veggie broth will taste better than anything you will fin the store. Happy cooking!

 

 

A New Food Adventure

Imagine looking in your fridge and you have nothing to make for dinner? Then you look at the credit cards and they are too high and you need to pay them off. So you look at your bank account and it doesn’t look much better, actually it looks worse. Does this sound like your story? No shame if it does. It doesn’t mean you are a low life or and bad person, it just means that life as been a little meaner than you were prepared for. That’s where places like food closets and banks come in handy so that we can feed our families.

Well something like this sort of happened recently. It’s not like we can’t buy food so for all my family reading, please don’t think that. It’s just that we really want to pay off our credit cards before the end of the year and being a one income family you have to be creative. I am on so many levels but my pantry is one area that hasn’t recovered from us having to leave everything behind in our last house. I was actually really proud of it since it was to the point that I had all the staples to last for an entire week or even longer on hand. Now I am only able to buy a week’s worth of food at a time and when shopping day is here the fridge looks a little bit more bare than I would like.

So yesterday I went to a food closet for the first time and it was very humbling. I grew up thinking that food closets and banks were only for poor people who didn’t have any thing otherwise. Well at the moment since we have set a goal and I would like to restock the tings I have lost that’s me. But it wasn’t like I expected.

I expected to see a bunch of people sneering their noses at me as I pull up in my 2006 Matrix (our only car) in my gym clothes with a gym badge hanging off my key ring. Unfortunately some did look at me that way since why would someone like me need to come to a place like this? Didn’t my husband make enough to buy food if I can have luxuries like this? What they don’t know is that we have lost everything, the last date my husband and I went on was get our infertility tests done last week, we only have one car because our roof needs to be replaced, our normally unused credit cards are carrying balances and we still have to pay off many other people who graciously helped us out during our time of need. You add that all up with the mortgage and the bills and yes I do belong in a place like this because everyone has their own story of why they are there.

Now I pray I don’t keep having to go for long since there people who have it way worse than me. At least my husband has a job and many of them don’t. So this isn’t a long term plan. Actually I probably won’t even go every week since what we were provided weren’t things that we even use. It’s just until we can get back on our feet and our credit cards paid off.

We are adults being responsible and if anyone thinks there’s a problem with that then maybe you should have a heart check before you are humbled to this level. Trust me I am being very humbled right now because I was the one who was on there other side wondering why a middle class (if there is such a thing any more in California) woman with a toddler is going to a food closet. It’s because we are all human and some times we all need to be creative sometimes.

Making the Cut

I know not everyone is into being thrifty and that’s ok. Many find it weird and extreme but I see it as a way to help get my husband retired faster. He likes what he does but, like many men, would rather be able to do what he loves. Sadly what he loves doesn’t normally pay the bills. So my hubby has done the steps to set himself up for early retirement and one of those things is that I now cut his hair.

Eek! I was like, my sister has cut your hair for years. Why have me do it? But we did the math and his hair costs about $78 a year to cut. Give it 20 years and that over $1500 that could go toward his retirement. So I can now add hairdresser to my homemaker resume. It’s not the best but it’s not the worst either. I’ll get better at it. I will still go to my sister though. I am not even attempting to cut my own hair 🙂

IMG_20160314_071435353_HDR
This is what my hubby looks like a 6am 🙂 Where’s the coffee!?

 

My Gardening Buddy

Tis the season for breaking out that shovel and getting your hands in the soil to plant the new seeds for that spring garden. My husband and I have been rather busy putting ours together. We planned on doing small things but that had quickly climbed to 3 raised beds, 9 tomato plants (6 normal and 3 cherry), 14 potatoes planted, 4 trees (2 breeds of avocados, a lemon, and a clementine), 6 basil plants, 6 batches of strawberries, kale, spinach, carrots, rosemary, zucchini and enough onions to make any one cry. The crazy part is – we aren’t done! We are still going to peppers, more herbs, cantaloupe, watermelon, and even black beans. (Deep breath in!)

How am I going to take care of all this? I know I am in way over my head but I love it! It gives me something to do to provide for my family all year round and I bought my hubby a dehydrator for his birthday so now we can so even more! But I am not doing this all on my own of course. I have my husband’s help but, most of all, I have Emma! And she is a great help! Sometimes it’s not in the way I would want but she is there none the less and this is my chance to teach her something that she won’t learn in school.

She will get to learn where her food comes from and how hard it is to actually get it. That it takes time and a lot of work just to get one plant to grow. She will learn responsibility (which is dying fast in our young people today) and how to take care of something other than herself. She will learn about death and how not all plants make it, but there’s where learning from mistakes and problem solving come in. She will learn how to fix something to make it better.

All of these things she should be learning at school but she won’t. I know I didn’t. I didn’t learn anything about responsibility from public school. I learned that all from home. I was a nine year old out riding on the trails by my house with my own horse (of which I started providing everything for by age 14) with no one. How? I knew how to take care of myself and what to do in case of an emergency. We still didn’t have cell phones at that time. I am actually happy to say that I can remember a time when people weren’t strapped to the little device. So my mom would drop me off, I would go ride and then return at the allotted time planned. Because I was taught all the lessons above at a young age, I was able to do so much more. It came with more responsibility but my childhood was something that most little girls only dream about.

I just didn’t have one horse, I, at one time, owned five. I trained one colt and brought another home. He bonded with my mom and now he is ten and is her trail horse. I got to do 4-H and dominate in my class, I got to go to AWANA a earn my Citation Award, I have 300 Endurance Riding Miles under my belt and countless other Horse Show ribbons in a box in storage. This isn’t to gloat but rather to show what some training about the simple things life can do. Where someone can go if they are given the right tools.

I want to equip my daughter to be successful.  I want her to grow up and be her own person and to do the things that she wants to do. It doesn’t have to be horses. My sister is 22 and has a thriving business as a hair designer called Beauty Designs by Audrey. She graduated high school with her first salon station and ready to start her career. My parents have a successful body work called Bowenology. My husband does Youtube videos now with his most popular one about Everydollar.com. What do these things all have in common? We are old fashion people who know that value of hard work, and the start of that for my daughter is going to be this garden.

So she is my gardening buddy and I can’t wait to show how to dig her first hole 🙂

IMG_20160309_121755905_HDR
Where’s Emma?