Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Pricelessness of Life

I am sorry I do not have any photos with Max. Max, I am truly truly sorry we lost you.

I write about all the different ways to save money and live a more simplified life. Yet, there is no price that can be put on the life of someone we care about.

A really great person in my life died yesterday.

My co-worker, Max, passed on. He was always really nice to me, even when he was busy. Max was a patternmaker by trade. More importantly, he was a good person. He was a friend. He enjoyed music and had people in his life he cared about, dogs he adored, and was less than a year away from retirement. He had a joy for life, a passion for living, and he was a fighter in the good sense. He stood up for what he believed whether it was about a certain pattern revision or just being nice to people and making time to help when we needed it.

When someone passes on, there are stages of grief we all go through in varying degrees and varying steps, sometimes circling back around each other in loops, from sadness to anger to disbelief, denial, acceptance, pain... we feel them all and each express them differently. For some, silence. For others, over flowing tears.  Some reach out to laughter- not laughing at the loss, but searching for the good memories to hold onto and carry us through.

One of my co-workers said something that really struck me. She said, "Selena, they're just clothes!"

Perspective sets in when you lose someone. In an industry known for being cut throat, I've seen something completely opposite here. And in just a day, the stereotypes have completely crashed and the reality is hitting all of us. There is so much more to life than how much power we can get, what we do, or how much money we make, or who gets credit for it. There's more to life than wearing the best and owning the best or even being the best at some skill.

When we lose someone, it makes us think about what we want to do with our lives. It made me think about it. It reminded me of my regrets and mistakes. It made me think about the arguments I had with my best friend last week and how I was too proud to apologize. Yesterday I apologized. Friendship is precious. I called my grandma to tell her I love her. I sent my sister an "I love you" on Facebook. I reminisced about the people I've lost and the one I love.

It made me think about sad things like my funeral and how I want everyone to dress up like they are in the 40s or 50s with hats and veils and let go 2 doves dyed bright pink.

More importantly, it made me think about all the things I want to do before I die and the bucket list I started when I was 12.

Some of these dreams are crazy and I may never do them. And yet some would not cost me much more than time and letting go of fears and insecurities. I may never experience zero gravity or meet Neil Gaiman to tell him he wrote my favorite books. I may never swim in the Dead Sea or see world hunger eliminated in my lifetime. But I can do something.  I can write even when I don't feel like it. I can get up and run, even when I don't want to. I can learn even when it means I have to give up sleep. I can practice. I can paint. I can DREAM.

And one day, maybe I WILL travel the world, meet my pen pal, see my best friend sing on stage for a crowd of millions. Maybe if I work really hard I will learn martial arts, even if I can't get past a purple belt. Maybe if I save up enough I really will go to Greece and see the Parthenon. I may have made some big mistakes in my life- we all do. Yet, there is still room for hope, redemption, honor, and dreams.

I challenge you to dream and create goals and cherish the important things. More importantly, don't just dream, DO. With tears running down my face, I challenge you to walk away from unhealthy habits, people, and things that don't matter. Forgive the ones who hurt you and are truly sorry, and open up to new people even if there's a chance they might let you down. This is a challenge I am giving myself too.

Life is a precious gift and we never know how much of it we will get. In the end, the only thing worth anything at all is LOVE.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Food Waste: A Global Crisis

I would like to share a video that talks about a topic that is very near and dear to my heart. Food waste contributes to world hunger and I believe that by reducing food waste in my own home, I can help to reduce the global food waste problem. This Ted Talks is a really eye opener and I hope it inspires you as much as it inspired me.

Tristram Stuart: The global food waste scandal

Here's Tristram's bio from
"Western countries waste up to half of their food. This is an injustice Tristram Stuart has dedicated his career to fixing. In his newest book, Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal, Tristram shows how changing the systems that result in food waste could be one of the simplest ways to reduce pressure on the environment.
The winner of the international environmental award The Sophie Prize in 2011, Tristram is the founder of Feeding the 5000, a consciousness raising campaign where 5000 members of the public are given a free lunch using only ingredients that otherwise would have been wasted. Held in Trafalgar Square in 2009 and 2011, the event has also been held internationally.
In addition, Tristram works with a range of NGOs, governments, and private enterprises to tackle the global food waste scandal."
"Waste is certainly one of the most important environmental books to come out in years. But it is more than that. It is an indictment of our consumer culture that should make us all feel deeply ashamed. "
The Financial Times
Do you have any stories of food waste? Have you worked in the food industry or have you seen this issue first hand anywhere else?How would you work to reduce food waste to help solve world hunger?

Monday, September 24, 2012

EASY Amazing Way to Build Your Credit & Earn Rewards!

This little piggle went cha ching, cha ching, cha ching all the way home...

Set up autopay to pay bills with your credit card. Then pay off your credit card every month using the budget you already have for that bill. If your bill is a fixed amount all year you can set up your bank account to pay off your credit card each month. You can also set up on your credit card website to have your balance paid off each month as well. I prefer to pay it off right away each day to avoid any possible interest or fees.

Earn points and rewards for things you would already be paying for anyways. Essentially this cycles your money and bill pay through two systems (but don't worry, you are only paying it once).

1. Set up autopay from your credit card to pay your bill.
2. Set up autopay from your bank to pay off your credit card.
3. Easily earn points, rebates, miles etc. & build your credit score.

Check this out if you want to learn about ways to save money without spending anything!

Do you have any tips for earning bonus rewards from credit card companies, without paying interest or fees?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

How to Get MORE Coupons: Part 2

The way to save the most money with coupons is to stock up and buy things when you can stack a sale with a coupon to get the lowest possible price. Having multiple coupons helps in building your stockpile.

When I started couponing a year and a half ago, I found all sorts of ways to gather extra coupons. In fact, my friend Christine and I gathered hundreds of discarded coupon booklets and shared our coupon booty.

Kitty knows if she sits on my work, she gets attention.
Christine and I had so much fun clipping and discussing our savings, sharing our sources,  and comparing our stockpiles. Sharing really enhanced our experience and encouraged us to keep working at saving money with coupons to reduce our cost of living and get more bang for our buck.

In Part 1 I showed you a way to get more coupons with a coupon swap. Here is another option. In another post, I mentioned the idea of starting a seed train for your garden. For Part 2 of my series, I will talk about how to start a coupon train.

How To Start A Coupon Train:

To Coupon Swap you will need to access couponing websites or find some couponing friends. To Start a Coupon Train, you need a list of people who want to swap coupons, but don't want to worry about bartering for the coupons

Facebook fan pages like the ones for The Krazy Coupon Lady will allow you to "meet" people with whom you can trade coupons online.

1.  Post a comment on your Facebook page and let your friends know you want to start a coupon train.
2. Compile a list of everyone involved with their names and addresses (or phone numbers for local people, or desk location for an in-office coupon train).
3.Decide if you will pre-clip them for each other or hand off the scrap pages. If you are mailing the coupon train, it is probably best to pre-clip them as tight as possible, so the postage is the cheapest.
4. Simply clip ALL your coupons. Choose which ones you know you will not use and then pass the list and the extra coupons on to the next person on your list.
5. They will follow the same steps and continue on to the next person. When the Coupon Train reaches it's last stop the last person should start again with you at the top of the list.
6. If you are doing a mailed train, don't forget to include the Train address list! This will only cost you ONE stamp, which will be returned when your name comes around again.
7. Throw out any old or expired coupons before passing on the pile to the next person.
8. Be cautious. Don't give too much personal information to strangers. If you coupon swap extensively and have access to a secondary address, be sure to use it. I prefer to coupon swap only with people within my real-life network. If you choose to do a coupon train with strangers, just be aware. If they are local to you, you may consider meeting at the grocery store to pass on the list, so you don't have to waste money on stamps or give out your address.You could do this with a phone number list instead!

Want another way to get more coupons? Check out  How to Get MORE Coupons: Part 1. Part 3 will be coming soon.

What other things could you start a train for? How about a Quick Recipe Train? I might include my Lazy Pickles.  What about a Cheap Recipe Train? I might include my lentil soup in that one.

Do you ever trade coupons? Do you have any other ways you get MORE coupons?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Saving Money Saving Seeds

One of the best ways to save money on fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs is to grow them yourself. Typically the cost for garden supplies is less than the cost of purchasing the same yield of the items fresh from the supermarket shelves. Also, when you grow it yourself, it cuts out shipping and is much more eco-friendly. Plus, you know exactly how fresh it is when you pick it yourself!
You can purchase plants or buy seeds at regular price, but to save big bucks, you need to plan a year ahead. About this time of year- starting in late July, most stores will severely mark down their seed prices to get them off the shelves by the end of the season.

Resurrecting ancient plants?

Although germination rates (% of seeds that will sprout into plants) will decrease over time, seeds can last A LOT longer than we ever imagined. In fact, according to the Alaska Dispatch, scientists who recently resurrected an ancient plant “in Siberia, successfully germinated a flower from an ice-age seed which is about 32,000 years old.” The Millenium Seed Bank Partnership is a project aimed to save 25% of the worlds seeds by 2020.

Seeds as currency?

I met a very interesting man this weekend while shopping for seeds at my companies associate store, who said he thinks it is possible that seeds could become a new tender in the future, since the world-wide economy is so bad. What do you think of that? It reminds me a little bit of my bartering blog from a few weeks back.

Over 95% Savings!

We got some great deals on seeds at 10 cents a pack! These packages range from $0.97- $3.49 so when I added up the final savings, I saved over 95% from the original price and now I have enough seeds for the next few years, and then some to give to friends. I chit-chatted with the seed-as-currency man while digging through the treasure bins and bins of Burpee, Ferry-Morse, and always organic Seeds of Change seeds. He said most packaged seeds can last about 5 years, or longer if frozen. We estimated that Ferry-Morse “seeds guaranteed to grow” brand has a shorter sell-by date simply due to the decreasing germination rates over time (which happens to all seeds). Seeds don’t technically expire at that time and are simply packaged for a certain ideal season.

Keep in mind:

- How many seeds are in the packet?

This will give you an idea of the final price per seed.

- Is it organic?

It might be worth a little more if it is because it was grown from plants without any pesticide trails, cross breeding, or genetic modification.

- Avoid hybrids for seed saving.

Hybrids are created from two types of plants. So, typically if you save seeds from your plants for next year, you may or may not yield the same results. Or you might not get any fruit at all. Or it could be genetically modified in a way that might harm you (we don’t know all the effects yet of genetic modification).

- Remember the flowers.

When planning a garden for food, don’t forget the benefits of flowers and companion planting. Stock up on marigolds, which help keep pests away, or borage which attracts bees who pollinate your plants. Lavender can be used as an herb and Nasturtiums are edible flowers- great for adding color to salads.

- Consider trading seeds with friends.

Start/join a seed train group online. Add seeds to the “train” and take a few of the ones you want, then mail them on to the next person. It’s a great way to add heirloom seeds to your collection and share what you don’t need or wont use. The next year you will have so many seeds you won't know what to do with them. This is what to do with them!

- Label your packets.

Remember one plant yields many seeds once it has grown and produced fruit. Save as many seeds as you can, and always label them so you know what you have next season. If you can, add any notes about characteristics you noticed. Was this variety the only one that didn’t get a bug infestation? Was the fruit sweeter? Did it handle the cold/heat better than other varieties?

- Negotiate with the store.

By clearance time, many stores just want to get rid of the seeds so they don’t have to ship them back or throw them out.  You might consider speaking with the manager and kindly asking if they are willing to negotiate a lower price for take-all of the seeds they don’t sell.

- Up for a mystery?

By clearance time, there will often be loose “mystery” seeds at the bottom of the store bin, which the store will simply throw away. Ask your store associates if they would let you have them for a small price or free when they clean up the seed containers. It never hurts to ask and you can toss these out or plant them at your leisure in a “surprise” section of the garden, or grow them in small pots and identify them by their leaves early on.

- Don’t forget, you can get seeds FREE…

if you get them from organic fruits and vegetables that you buy from the supermarket or if you gather them from plants in public parks.

*Disclaimer: I take no responsibility for your actions. It is up to you to find out what is legal in your park/city/state.*

What do you think? How do you save seeds? Have you ever joined a seed train? Do you think seeds could become currency in the future? What sort of companion planting do you do? Have you ever planted “mystery” seeds or gathered seeds from your grocery bought food or local parks?

How to Get MORE Coupons: Part 1

 I once purchased 32 FREE bottles of baby formula over a month to give away just because I was able to gather a LOT of extra coupons that gave me overage.

 The way to save the most money with coupons is to stock up and buy things when you can stack a sale with a coupon to get the lowest possible price.

Kitty doesn't want to trade. ;)

When I started couponing a year and a half ago, I found all sorts of ways to gather extra coupons. In fact, my friend and I even went around to the apartment complexes in the area (where coupons arrived in the mail, not the newspaper) and gathered hundreds of discarded coupon booklets. I shared my secrets and favorite coupon blogs and she shared some delicious meals. We had so much fun clipping and discussing our savings and comparing our stockpiles.

 One simple way to get more coupons is to start a coupon swap.

How To Coupon Swap:

To Coupon Swap you will need to access couponing websites or find some couponing friends.
Facebook fan pages like the ones for The Krazy Coupon Lady will allow you to "meet" people with whom you can trade coupons online.

1.  Post a comment on your Facebook page and let your friends know what coupons you have and what coupons you are looking for. It works a little like bartering.
2. Remember, coupons are similar to cash tender in the store. Offering a fair trade, dollar for dollar, not coupon for coupon will get you the best results and build your network of coupon swappers.
3. When you decide a fair trade, you can pass them off to each other or mail them to one another.
4. Decide if you will pre-clip them for each other or hand off the scrap pages.
5. Once you decide on a trade, make sure to send the coupons right away so that they have the chance to use them with any current sales that may be going on. Trust that they will send yours ASAP too.
6. Be cautious. Don't give too much personal information to strangers. If you coupon swap extensively and have access to a secondary address, be sure to use it. I prefer to coupon swap only with people within my real-life network. If you choose to coupon swap with strangers, just be aware. If they are local to you, you may consider meeting to swap coupons at the grocery store, so you don't have to waste money on stamps or give out your address.

Want another way to get more coupons? Check out tomorrow's post, How to Get MORE Coupons: Part 2.

Like the "Train" idea? Try it out with other things like children's clothes and toys, garden supplies, etc. A few weeks ago I mentioned starting a seed trade or seed train to save free seeds for your garden for next year.
Do you ever trade coupons? Do you have any other ways you get MORE coupons?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

I Got My Free Magazine- Did You?

A few weeks ago I posted a link for how to get a free Bridal Guide Magazine. I just got mine in the mail this week. It is the November/December 2012 issue. I guess they distribute them rather early!

Anyway, here are some beautiful photos of the magazine I got:

I work in fashion design, so any style magazine is a good magazine for tear sheets and trend forecasting. For those of you who are preparing to wed, this will be a great resource for you since there's a list of ways to save money on your wedding plans. Remember, though, you can often find this same information online for free.

 I'll be passing my issue onto a friend at work.If you haven't gotten yours yet, check out the free Bridal Guide Magazine and see if they are still giving them away.

Be sure to let me know if you get one! What will you do with yours?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Secret To Make Cheap Shoes Look Expensive!

Some brilliant women found a way to get the red-soled Louboutin look for a fraction of the price and I'm gonna share the secret with you here! Along with a little musical (or Google) game called... Name That Musician...

So what is the secret?

Well, this site is about to let the cat out of the bag...

No, not this cat. This is my cat, Ingrid. She never goes into bags. She does however, walk on shower curtain rods which is slightly creepy, and still undeniably cool.

 OK. Here it is. The secret to making cheap shoes look expensive:

A $3 mini paint swatch bottle from the hardware store will do the trick.

What do you think of this new copycat trend? Why limit it to Louboutin red?

Tip: Try other colors!

Personally, I don’t prefer to copy Louboutin, but remember YSL has done it before too in a rainbow of shades. Why not emerald green, or electric blue on the bottom of your shoe? 

Neon colors are HUGE right now. 

You can purchase a cheap pair of shoes at a big box store or a second hand store and paint the soles any color you want! Add glitter to put an extra kick in your step!

Would you ever paint shoes to look more expensive? Would you use a different color or go for Louboutin's signature Chinese Red?

Use This Code For $1 Off 2 Blockbuster Express Rentals Exp. 9-16-12

Blockbuster Express just sent out a new coupon for $1 off 2 movie rentals. Snag this deal at the kiosk with coupon code SEPTDVDS.

Hurry, this deal ends 9-16-12!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Saving With Selena on Social Media!

 "Like" the Facebook page here:
Follow me on Twitter:

For fashion, style, home decor, savings and more, follow me on Pinterest:
Link with me: 

What Size To Buy: Price Per Unit

Most people think that buying food in bulk will save them money. When I talk with friends and store associates about finding the lowest cost items, they are often surprised to hear that sometimes the bulk buys are actually not the best deal.So here’s a quick run down of how I calculate which size to buy so I can get the biggest bang for my buck.

Warning: This will involve using your brain and flexing your math muscles. Come on! You can do it!

Tip of the day: Compare prices per unit.

Don’t compare price per item because some packaging makes it difficult to tell how much product you are getting. If you factor in the size of the product, the material it is made from (glass, plastic, paper, etc), you’ll start to realize that some items take up the same shelf space but they don’t have the same amount of product.
So when you go to the store, pull out your calculator and do a little math.

Price / # of units = price per unit

If you have a coupon for a specific item, you will want to factor that into the equation:

(Price – coupon value) / # of units = price per unit if you have a coupon.

Sometimes items without coupons are cheaper and the coupons might not actually save you money. Keep this in mind!

Real life application:

Say for instance,  you have a coupon for $1 off of any Dr. Pepper 12 pack and the sale price at the store is 3 packs of any soda for $10.  This is the equation you will do:
$10/ 3 packs = $3.33 per 12 pack
$10/ 3 packs/ 12 cans = about 28 cents a can!

With a coupon your equation will look like this:

($10- $1 coupon) / 3 packs/12 cans =
$9 /3 packs = $3 per 12 pack
$9/ 3 packs/12 cans = exactly 25 cents a can!

Some of you might say, well 3 cents a can is not really that great of savings. However if you have one can of soda every day for a year and can save 3 cents per can, you’ve saved about $11 on soda alone. Now imagine you follow this same tip for all groceries and personal care products that you buy. Every penny adds up! Once you get this process down, it will come naturally.

No Calculator? Look at shelf tags:

If you forget your calculator or you are in a hurry, or have no coupons, look at the price tag on the shelf. Usually it will be listed as a price per unit. Watch out for similar products that are measured by different units. This can make one product appear to be cheaper than the other one.

This is a great tip, even for those of you who don’t clip coupons. If you follow this tip alone, you could potentially save hundreds of dollars per year.

I hope this helps break down one of my basics for how to find a great deal at the grocery store! This time, I hope you’ll grab whichever one is truly the best deal!

How To Talk Your Way Out of A Late Fee

Eeek! I committed one of my very own Budget Breakers! (Insert embarrassed "oops" face here). With the stress of being sick, and moving to a new department at work (I get to work on itty bitty baby clothes! Yay!), I completely forgot about my electric bill until I did my budget yesterday and realized it hadn't posted yet. I thought, "Oh no! I got a dreaded late fee!"

 Can you hear the scary music and my thriller scream?

Fear not, I found a way to use my skills of persuasion to get the late fee removed and stop me from committing a Budget Breaker. I worked in a call center while I was at college, asking friends and family of Purdue to donate money to help improve the school. I learned a thing or two about "selling" and communicating ideas to encourage the other person to help you. I also learned what call center people hate to hear.

So without further ado...

How To Talk Your Way Out of A Late Fee

Here's what I did and here's how you can do it too:

Step 1: Schedule autopay.
After I saw the problem, the first thing I did was schedule autopay directly from my bank account on the service providers website. If you schedule autopay you will never have to pay another late fee (unless for some reason your bank account balance is negative). Nip that problem in the bud before it happens and you wont have to waste your time with steps 2 through 7 ever again.

Plus this gives you something to talk about in step 5.

If it is an option, you can also set up the autopay on the phone when you talk with the service provider.

Step 2: Call the service provider.
When you finally get through the automated system and find a button to press to get a live person, very carefully follow the next few steps.

Step 3: Be nice.
I know you are probably angry at this point from all the automated systems and the waiting. But remember there is another person on the other end of the line and they are just doing their job to put food on the table for their family. They have reasons of their own to be nicer to people who are nice to them. You'll understand this more when you get to step 7.

Tips from being a telemarketer:
 - Remember to smile while you talk. This sounds crazy and feels crazier but trust me. It makes you sound friendlier, which makes people more likely to like you and help you out.
 - No matter how upset you are about the late fee, remember that it was probably your fault.
 - Even if it wasn't your fault, it certainly wasn't the fault of the little guy on the other line answering phones who probably gets paid somewhere in the range of minimum wage for a job that is hard work. Being nice can be the difference between them rushing to get you off the phone, or taking the time to look into things and answer your questions to ultimately meet your goal of fee removal.

Step 4:  "Say my name, say my name..."
Beyonce knew what she was talking about when Destiny's Child wrote that song. It's a scientific fact that...

people like to hear their own names. 

So make sure to ask the company representative their name right away. Write it down. Throughout the conversation, whenever it is natural to say his or her name, make sure to do it- but only for positive things. If possible, do this a few times, especially to show gratitude when they help you with something.

"Great, that makes so much more sense after you explained it to me. Thank you,  (insert name you wrote down)!"
Step 5: Ask questions to build rapport.
Since you just set up your autopay, now you can ask questions about how it works. For instance:
 - "What day does the auto draft occur?"
 - "Can I set up the autodraft to be on a certain day?"
 - "If the autodraft is due on the 15th, does the payment post on the 15th or does it post before or after that date?"

Questions like this show engagement and will assure the representative that you are sincerely sorry for your blunder and want to make sure you get it right from now on.

**It is important not to skip step 5. Building rapport with the representative will softens them up for the big important question.**

Step 6: Save the late fee for the last question, unless they bring it up earlier.
After you've had all your other questions answered and have been really nice and thankful throughout the conversation, they will try to close with a final question. "Is there anything else I can help you with today?"

That's when you say, "Yes, (insert name you wrote down) I was wondering, could you waive the late fee for me just this once?" Or throw in casually "now that I think of it, (insert name you wrote down) would you by any chance be able to remove this late fee just this once? Now that I have autopay, I know it won't happen again."

Unless you are a repeat offender (tsk, tsk!), they will likely say, "Sure. I can remove this late fee as a one time courtesy for you."


Late Fee Vanished!

Budget Breaker Averted! 

Step 7: Close nicely and thankfully.
Phone representatives get scored on random phone calls. Help them get a better score for helping you out! After you write down the confirmation number, don't forget to say, 

"Thank you so much, (insert name you wrote down). You've been such a great help. I really appreciate it. That will be all and have a great day!"

Yes, it really works!

Click here to see a real Budget Breaker: Food Waste.

Have you ever gotten a late fee? What did you do?

Friday, September 7, 2012

Green and Clean: Home Made Windex and Disinfectant

 Everything make me sneeze except this!

I wouldn't suggest drinking it because of the essential oils...

I get sick a lot. I've been tested for allergies and the doctor always tells me that I don't have any! Yet, sometimes when I smell a strong cologne or cleaner, I have trouble breathing and my asthma flairs up. :( 
Not good.

Of course, there are millions of chemicals we come in contact with every day. So to reduce the amount of toxic material in my life, I've started looking for "greener" ways to clean. 

One of the cheapest safest germ killing disinfectant and degreasing agents is vinegar. Now before you scoff at the acrid scent, I promise there are ways to use vinegar as a cleaning product AND get the fresh and clean scent you like with out the harsh chemicals.

Vinegar is a common ingredient in salad dressing and pickle recipes (or you can try my "lazy pickle" recipe here).

I've developed this vinegar cleaning product recipe based on my stockpile of essential oils, mixing and adding, and spraying and smelling until I got it right. Of course if you have any allergies to these scents, you can replace them with any essential oil you'd like. I want to try lavender and lemon oil next.

Selena Marie's "Clean Scented" Vinegar Disinfectant Recipe: 

This recipe is for 28 oz. of cleaner. You will need a clean, empty spray bottle and 30 total drops of essential oil. If you don't have essential oils, you can consider bartering or split the cost with a friend.

*It is very important that you DO NOT reuse a spray bottle from another cleaning product. Mixing chemicals (even residue) is a big, unhealthy, unsafe "no, no."    

At least if you tell your kids that, maybe they will help with cleaning? It's worth a shot! ;)
1. Fill the spray bottle with 22 oz. of white vinegar.

2. Add:
   -  6 drops fennel oil
   - 4 drops tea tree oil (another natural disinfectant)
   - 10 drops geranium oil 
   - 10 drops peppermint oil

3. Top it off with 6 oz. of water if the vinegar smell is still too strong for you.

4. Shimmy Shimmy, Shake Shake!

*Remember oil and vinegar don't mix, so this will be a bit like a vinaigrette dressing- shake it before each use. *

For counters and glass tables, I like to let it set for a few minutes to kill germs and remove grease more easily.

Tip: Old News Is New News:

Did you know? Newspaper works great to clean glass surfaces like your bathroom mirror or big picture window. Spray the window, and crunch a ball of newspaper up to use it like a paper towel. I never buy paper towels any more since I already get the newspaper.

 It's pretty much a free cleaning tool since I am reusing something I already have- and who doesn't like that? 

 Scrunch, spray, wipe away! :)


 **Sparkly windows.**

Grab a new piece if the paper starts to get mushy or gray...
You are cleaning, not making paper mache art projects
 ("Paper mache?" you say. Another blog, another day).
This is only one of the many uses for vinegar. With so many different uses for vinegar, you may want to stock up! When you purchase your vinegar, don't forget what size to buy: price per unit.

More Green and Clean news will follow soon...  My next home cleaner recipe blog will be laundry detergent! It's loads of fun! (I'm so punny right ?)

For another post relating to sustainability check out my article on saving seeds. 

Do you have any home made cleaning recipes? Have you tried making something like this? What do you think of it?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Zero Waste: How To Make Lazy Pickles

The easiest pickle "recipe" ever!

I love pickles. There's something about the salty, sour flavor that makes me crave pickles when the weather is hot and stormy. When I buy pickles, they are usually gone before I know it. I save the pickle jar with the brine for making "lazy pickles." There's really no recipe. All you do is clean 'em, cut 'em, and drop 'em in. Simple as that. Chop, chop. Splish, splash.

As if cutting the cucumbers in half would make me eat less... ;)

I also really enjoy purchasing fresh vegetables when they are on sale, or buying "seconds" at the farmers market. I'll post more about seconds in a future blog, however this one covers the easiest pickle recipe ever. If you have cucumbers, carrots, or peppers that started to go soft, cut them up and put them in your pickle brine and set them in your fridge at least overnight to let the vinegar set in.

In case you are worried, the vinegar and salt combo kills any germs there may be so the brine lasts a long  time and is perfectly safe to re-use.

When I get around to doing it, my next pickle post will hopefully be about lactofermentation... exciting! For now, these simple pickles will do.

Do you ever pickle veggies that are going soft? What other ways do you save your soft veggies from going to the trash?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Budget Breaker: Food Waste

 Part 1 of my new series: Budget Breakers! 

Because we all make mistakes sometimes...

Poor piggy...

I was going to write you an article about how to save money buying discounted meat. I found a good deal on chicken at the grocery store. I took it home and put it in the refrigerator and promptly....

I would have saved 44 cents a pound and bought this at a decent price of $1.04/pound.

forgot about it. :(

 I give myself the excuse of being sick, too tired to cook, sleepy from medicine... but really, I should have just frozen it. I have no excuse.

Last night I opened up my meat drawer to find it, and frantically began thinking of ways I could cook it all... only to find out in the end that it had gone bad.

So as much as I hate to waste food, if it smells funny, it's going in the trash.I'll admit, 5 bucks is not that much money to lose but 5 bucks here, 5 bucks there adds up over time.

Moral of the story: Meal planning is your friend. So is your freezer. There will be more on meal planning and freezing soon enough...

How many times have you wasted food? How much does that add up to wasted food and money over a year? A lifetime?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Hobby Lobby 40% off coupon + other deals (Labor Day Week)!

Example only. Click below link for more details.

Hobby Lobby released it’s new circular and sales ad today with another 40% off coupon (valid through September 8th)!
You can use the 40% off coupon on any item that is NOT on sale. Follow the links above for more information!

Hobby Lobby is a family friendly company that believes employees should have time with their loved ones. Remember, Hobby Lobby stores are closed on Sundays, so the deals all start tomorrow!

*Keep in mind, for Labor Day, they will be closing early at 5:30PM in line with their family focused beliefs.*

 Happy Shopping & Happy Crafting!

It Is Labor Day Sunday!

You know what that means- no manufacturers coupons. There are a few store coupons and sale ads,  but no clipping parties shall there be. Relax. Use the weekend to catch up on old coupons that need clipped, or be like me and spend the long weekend in bed recuperating from the nasty respiratory bug that is going around. :(
There will be lots of sales this weekend, so shop wisely. Keep in mind that you won't actually save money if you are spending more than you normally do. The best way to save is to not spend at all.
Have a Happy Labor Day weekend!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Reason #1 to Save: Surprise Medical Needs

Some of my feel-better stash.
I am sitting at home sick. Actually I've been laying in bed for the past week with a case of pleurisy (an infection of the lung lining. Yuck!) and it doesn't feel great.

Luckily I work for a great company that allows sick pay, and I also had already scheduled vacation days on top of the Labor Day holiday.

The cost of being ill:

Factoring in the cost of 5+ days of work, expensive medicine, childcare while you rest (if you have them), and doctors visits... it adds up. Except for an occasional coupon from your doctor for expensive non-generic medicine, you can't really cut corners here.

It's times like these when I am glad that I use coupons and live frugally. I can't imagine what it would be like for someone who works hourly and spends without thinking. Something like this, or worse, could be devastating.

When my friends say they just don't have the time to coupon or save money, I say I just don't have the time not to do it. The first year that I started couponing I saved over $3000 out of pocket. That's $3000 that I could use somewhere else.

Being sick reminded me of that, and made me thankful that I made those financial decisions earlier on. I decided to start a list of all the reasons why I live frugally. I'll post these reasons as they come to me, in no particular order, starting with this one.

I know that not every tip that I give will be something you use. However, I hope I might convince you to do a few things differently, or spark some new ideas on how you can live more frugally.

Remember it's not about being cheap to be cheap. In fact, that sort of poverty mentality is one I hope you learn to avoid. Sometimes it's more frugal in the long run to buy higher priced items (more about that later).

Saving money and living frugally is about improving the quality of life that you lead no matter what your income level is.

*For information on stockpiling basics for emergencies, see my upcoming blogs.*
*This blog was brought to you by the Blogger app for Android... Yes, I heart my phone*