Tightwad Tuesday!

I’m trying to get back into a routine. So, here’s an installment of Tightwad Tuesday for you!

This one is easy.

For a long time, I’ve been reading about this product called Fels Naptha.
It’s a bar laundry soap. Sounds weird right? I’d never seen it in the store but I stumbled up on it one day at Ingles. A bar was a whooping $1.27 so I thought I’d give it a whirl.

This stuff is amazing! You rub the bar straight on a stained piece of clothing and then throw it in the wash. It’s pulled all kinds of stains out of my table cloth, the boys clothes and Hunter’s clothes. I could write a book on stain removers that don’t work. But so far, the Fels Naptha bar has removed spaghetti sauce and Georgia red clay like you wouldn’t believe. And it’s cheap!! That’s the best part. It also has a very light and, to me, refreshing smell. It reminds me of an old-timey soap.

I know that a lot of people who make their own laundry soap use Fels Naptha. I haven’t tried to make my own launstry soap yet but I keep planning to. Just because I can!

It took me a while to find Fels Naptha in a store. My Walmart doesn’t carry it. Like I said, I stumbled up on it at Ingles. You can find it at a site called http://www.soapsbegone.com/. When I googled it, it also says that you can buy it on Amazon.

Tightwad Tuesday, just for you!


Look–A Tightwad Tuesday!

I’m actually going to do a Tightwad Tuesday. Are you shocked???

This week I want to talk about one of my favorite places to go. Yes, places. I absolutely love to go to the library. Something about walking in the door of a library, any library, just soothes my soul. I don’t know if it’s the quiet or the smell of books or the endless possibilities of entertainment that sit on those shelves. There’s just something about it that makes me happy.

As a child, my mom used to take me to the library weekly. I can remember the day that I got my first library card. I have no idea why but that’s the impact. I was so excited to finally have my own. I still carry around guilt over a Snoopy cartoon book that I lost and racked up fines before they finally “forgave” the loss.

As an adult, I got away from going to the library. Well, to be honest, my mom and MIL buy a lot of books and they give them to me. I never, EVER turn away books. They are treasures to be had. I even have old boxes of college textbooks from one of Hunter’s client’s deceased husband. I love them. Someday, in my dream home, I’ll have a library to put all my books instead of boxes. I’ll go ahead and admit that I have difficulty giving away books, even paperbacks, or loaning the out. I’m afraid I won’t get loaner books back. And I’m one of those people that gets in a mood to read a specific story and I have to find it. I’ll dig for hours to find it. Even books I read as a kid (and yes, I have boxes of those books at my parents still). I’m a re-reader. Big time.

Anyway, back to the point. In the past 4 years, I’ve made a conscious effort to not spend as much money on extraneous things. As much as I love books, I don’t need to spend $50 a month on them. So, I started haunting the local library again. In our state, we have an inter-library loan program. So, if there’s a book I want to read and it’s in Bainbridge, I can request it to be sent to my library. How awesome is that? There have been very few books that I haven’t been able to find. And I can re-check out a book multiple times in a row or just as I want to re-read it. The best part for me is that, if I love a book, then I can go search it out online or in the bookstore and buy it. It’s saved me a ton of money in purchases.

You can also get on the Internet at the library, check out movies (VHS & DVD) and look at magazines. Our library always has a book sale going on where you can buy books for 0.25-0.50 as well. And they have a free magazine box. I’ve also sent faxes from the library when our fax was not wanting to work. The boys and I have also went to Story Time quite a few times and enjoyed it.

The biggest downside for me is waiting for new releases. Most of the time, there’s a request list and you have to wait on it. That does drive me crazy.

I’m starting to take the boys with me more and more. They get a little loud and they want to pull everything off the shelves so I’m thinking of taking them individually for a while. I want them to love books as I do and I feel like they have a good start. We have a good kids’ library base being built at home.

The local library is a wonderful place to go. One of my favorite things about our tiny library is that they also display local artists work. There are tons of pottery display in mine as well as painting and quilting projects. All things I love. Bigger libraries have even more and some even offer classes!

So, check out your local library this week! Maybe you’ll have a sweet little old Mary at yours like I do who loves to talk to you about your books.


Tightwad Tuesday—Think About Gardening!

It’s spring time! Or so I thought. Mother Nature has decided that tonight we’ll have freezing weather so it’s sure not feeling like spring. At any rate, it’s time to start thinking about gardening.

Having a garden offers you so many benefits. Not only are you going to grow food that your family can eat—food that you know what it’s been treated with (if you go that route), how it’s been fertilized and where it came from—but you’re also getting the health benefits of gardening. It’s good for your body (a workout) and it’s good for the soul. There’s nothing like coming home from a long day of work to wander in your garden picking green beans, pulling tomatoes and seeing what you’ve got coming in that day. It calms me. Last year we planted 4 varieties of tomatoes (8 plants), bell peppers, jalapeños, corn, ornamental pumpkins, green beans, squash, zucchini, hot peppers and Tabasco peppers. I think that was it.

I canned food for the first time last year. It’s hard, hot, long, time consuming work but we have really enjoyed having our home grown food this year! Last year I canned spaghetti sauce, tomatoes, green beans, apple butter (which we have not eaten so I won’t do it again), and then I pickled jalapeños and mixed peppers for Hunter. He’s working on them. I also froze tomatoes, a couple of random small batches of spaghetti sauce and shredded zucchini and squash (not used so won’t do again). I kind of let my herb drying go but I plan to get back to that this year. I need to organize this better.

We didn’t have a ton of anything except just plain tomatoes canned/frozen. We’ve used up all of the green beans and we have 1 jar of spaghetti sauce left. Still lots of tomatoes but that should be fine. I can simmer those down into tomato sauce and chili at any time.

Gardening can seem so overwhelming and daunting but give it a try. You don’t have to have top of the line stuff and you don’t have to be a professional. You can rent a tiller from a local hardware store for about $35/day if you’ve got really tough soil like our red clay. Even soil amendments (manure, compost, etc) can be bought if your soil needs it. This does make it a bit more expensive but over time, if you use the same area, you won’t need it as you steadily improve your soil.

If you live in an apartment, consider container gardening. Just buy some good potting soil to start with and be sure to buy the best looking plants you can find (and on a side note, go to a hardware store or a local greenhouse and buy them—BUY LOCAL!!!) Sure they’re probably shipped in too (unless they’re bought from my dad!) but you’re still supporting a local business instead of a big box store. Even if you only do 2-3 plants in larger containers, you will provide yourself and your family with some tasty grub for the summer (and the winter if you just freeze it). I’ll do more on canning/freezing once that time is here. You could also start smaller than that and just really focus on herbs in a window. Just try 2-3 of your favorites. Herbs can be hung to dry in the top of a closet, the basement door, or they can be dried in your microwave. Just don’t set your microwave on fire like I did. :o) True story.
I started years ago with herbs in the window. Then I did an herb pot and just put 5 or so herbs in a huge pot on the back porch. Then I did tomatoes in the huge pot on the porch and separated the herbs into smaller pots on a shelf on the back porch of my duplex. I also managed to plant green peppers in pots when Hunter and I got married, forgot about them and looked over one day and saw red and green peppers shining! Pots will work! Just don’t expect those huge peppers you get in the store. Your peppers will be smaller but they will taste WAY better. I promise.

Start thinking about it. Look it up online and do a little research. Check your local extension office for information and talk to them. They’re a really valuable source of information on what will work and what won’t work in your area. I always wait until after Easter since our chance of frost declines dramatically after that…and tonight? Freeze warning. I’m worried about my Japanese Maples, Azaleas and Tea Olives right now!

Good luck and I hope you’ll post your progress as we get into gardening season!

Tightwad Tuesday—clothes lines

I didn’t forget ya did I??? Aren’t you proud?

I’ve always loved a clothes line. It must have something to do with reminiscing about my childhood. My grandparents (on both sides) had clothes lines and I can vividly remember playing up underneath both of those clothes lines as a child, running through the sheets, rushing out to take clothes off the line as the rain started and lying down on those sweet, fresh smelling, crisp sheets for naps. I love the smell of clothes off of a line. Don’t you? Even as a teenager, I can remember stringing up a cotton clothes line in the backyard between 3 trees in a triangle, even though my mom could have cared less about hanging out clothes. Old fashioned I guess.

When Hunter and I lived about 2 hours from our current abode right after we got married, he built me my first official clothes line. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve been laying clothes out on my back porch for years and years. I had a drying rack that I used in my duplex too. I’m not above having hangers hanging off of every door frame, door knob and available ledge and curtain rod. Ask my old roommates!

Anyway, I loved that clothes line. When we lived at my Granny’s house, I was thrilled to use that same clothes line I remembered from childhood, even though half of it was taken over by fig trees. When we moved here, I started my ritual back up…clothes spread all over the porch. Last year for Mother’s Day, Hunter asked me what I wanted. A clothes line. Since we knew we had a lot of yard work we wanted to complete, it needed to be temporary and something we could move out of the way. So, Hunter came up with a plan to have a screw with essentially a closed loop at one end screwed into one tree—forgive me, I don’t know the official name, I’d ask Hunter but he’s asleep already. Off of that single hook, he ran two plastic cords with latches on the end (like a dollar leash?). Those two lines ran to two separate trees with 2 more of those hooks screwed into them which made it, again, triangular in shape. When I want the line up, I just clip those latches onto the loops. When Hunter needs to get through with the tractor, viola, take it down. It works for us and it cost maybe $20 for everything.

Why is this a Tightwad Tuesday? Line drying is FREE after the initial cost of putting up the line. I typically wash clothes on Thursdays and Fridays because I’m at home more those days. I have determined that, when I am diligent to hang clothes out, I can wash 4-5 loads of laundry and only dry 1 load! The rest can be hung out to dry! I have no idea what kind of savings that is but I know it’s helping our power bill and it’s better for the environment. Using less electricity means less fossil fuels are being used and less pollution is being generated. It’s a win-win situation for such a simple, old fashioned habit.

Can’t have a line in your neighborhood? Hang your clothes off of porch rails on your back porch where no one can see them. Use a drying rack on your back porch or your screened in porch or in a sunny window. Use hangers to hang clothes over your vents. If I need something dry by the next morning, I often put a kitchen chair over a vent and then hang whatever needs drying there. I let the heat I’m already paying for do double duty.

I love, love, love my clothes line. It’s one of my favorite household duties. I love how the breeze dries clothes and makes them smell so wonderful and it’s just so peaceful to hang clothes up and take them down. The boys already love playing in the sheets. And I love it when Hunter or JP slides on a shirt or slips into bed and inhales and says “This smells so good.” It makes me feel like I’m doing a better job as a wife and a mom. 🙂

Tightwad Tuesday! Do you hang your clothes to dry? What percentage do you think you hang? I’d guess we’re at about 85%. Hunter’s work jeans and shirts need drying simply because he’s skinnying up on me and he needs those clothes to shrink a bit! lol!


Tightwad Tuesday…on Thursday

Can I just start with a big, ol‘ CRAP! It’s Wednesday night and I’ve already posted and I just realized that there was no Tightwad Tuesday…again. I’m sorry! I’m so tired tonight I’m going to do an easy one. I guess it was a week or so ago that I made homemade granola (not for the first time). I used to love buying that Yogurt with the granola on top but it never seemed like enough granola. And, it was expensive.

When the boys started eating table food, I started buying organic or all natural vanilla yogurt. And I wanted granola darn it. So, I taught myself how to make it!

Homemade granola:
5 cups oatmeal (old fashioned oats, not quick oats
1/3 cup oil (canola was my choice)
1/3 cup honey (I added a bit more)
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup dry milk
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt

That’s the basic recipe. I started out with a recipe from The Tightwad Gazette and then modified it to my taste.

Then you can add whatever you want!
Some of my favorites are:
dried fruit (blueberries, cranberries, raisins)
chocolate chips

To make granola:
Heat brown sugar, oil and honey in a sauce pan until the sugar is dissolved, stirring often. Combine large ingredients in a lasagna pan (or something deep with sides…a casserole dish, etc). Pour sugar mixture over dry mixture and mix well. It will look like it’s clumping up but just mix as best as you can trying to coat as much as possible. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes and then let it cool in the pan. The baking will make the liquid loosen up more so I stir it good when I pull it out, add the dried fruits and then let it cool a while and give it another stir. Store in an airtight container.

You add the nuts pre-bake, and you need to add any dried items (berries, raisins) post-bake.

That’s it. It’s that easy. I added pecans and almond slivers to mine too along with all the dried berries and raisins I had since I had them in the freezer. I love making granola. I used to buy it but it’s expensive! This way I can control what’s in it (and I know what’s in it) and make it how I want it.

It’ll harden up and sometimes clump up a bit but you can just break it with your fingers after you bag it. I save the oatmeal bin and just put it back in there. Ziploc work just fine too. Enjoy! Oh and if you want it crunchier (like me), just let it stay in the oven a little bit longer…just don’t forget about it!

It’s great stuff, I promise. And I’ll never buy granola again! If you give it a try, let me know! It makes a great snack for kids. My two love it with chocolate chips or M&Ms. And Cheerios for JP. :o)