Making Potato Print Valentines

Last year we showed you how to recycle your magazines or your children’s finger paintings by cutting them into creative Valentines, but we decided to keep life even simpler in 2009.  For those of you that need to mass produce cards for school or family, potato print Valentines are the perfect earth friendly, budget friendly solution.  

Simply cut a potato in half, draw a simple shape on the open end, and then carve around your pencil lines.  Once the carving is done, you can welcome your child to join in the fun.  Dip the potato stamp into some thick tempera paint and plop it down upon a piece of paper.  You can experiment with several shapes, colors and textures all for just pennies!  
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Repairing Diaper Covers

Want to repair your tired diaper covers for just a few bucks and an hour of your time?  I learned how recently from my good friend Valerie Perrot.  As she began to cloth diaper her second child, she noticed the covers she had used with her first weren’t fastening correctly.  Upon closer inspection, Valerie found that the soft part of the Velcro closures wasn’t as deep as it should be.   Considering that she had purchased the covers used, she wasn’t surprised that they were worn–but she wasn’t about to go out and buy a whole new set for her second child.

After getting advice from a seamstress, Valerie decided to take matters into her own skilled hands.  She found an outdoor gear website called thegreenpepper.com that offered soft Velcro and heavy duty sewing needles for just under ten dollars. The Green Pepper has loads of patterns for making your own backpacks, fleece jackets and other notions, as well as fabric and materials. Honestly, the website is a bit difficult to negotiate, but they are very helpful if you call or email. 

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Cutting Costs in 2009: Part 2

For us, the craziness of life with a toddler takes over any moments we could use to reflect on our spending habits, but this is the perfect time to evaluate our family budget and make some positive changes.   We aren’t always thinking of our long-term goals or values when we run out to a big box store and come back with far more than we intended.  But we’ll start by acknowledging our progress this year.

1. What are our favorite thrifty green victories of 2008? 

  • Haircuts.  I now cut Roscoe and Jett’s hair every month in the comfort of our living room or our backyard.  Since each of those cuts would cost around $15 a month, we’re saving about $330 per year!   In this photo, Roscoe’s Aunt Pauli is giving me a few haircutting tips. 
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Cutting Costs in 2009: Part 1

With a recession underway and holiday bills coming due, many families are feeling the pinch this month.  But even if you’re feeling comfortable financially, January is a great time to evaluate spending and consumption in 2008 and set new goals for the year to come. 

In my family we look through our bank statements and think about how they line up with our priorities. 

1. Did we spend too much on a few things we didn’t need? 

We’re making far too many quick trips to the market that result in rash purchases.  Our goal for 2009 is to plan our meals each week and try to limit our shopping to one major trip.  Also, we tent to go a bit crazy in Grocery Outlet at times, buying some organic processed foods to stock our pantry that we sometimes don’t like in the end.

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Welcome Back to the Thrifty Green Thursday Blog Carnival!

For most of us, going green isn’t about quantum leaps, it’s about tiny fledging steps that are made in the midst of our hectic lives as parents.  If you have a budget-friendly, earth-friendly tip (even one that seems a bit obvious to you) you’d be a perfect addition to Thrifty Green Thursday.  

What are the benefits of adding my post to the Thrifty Green Thursday carnival?

It’ll help you generate traffic for your site, put you in touch with like-minded bloggers, and give you a chance to pick up some easy tips for going green on a budget.

How do I join the carnival and link my post?

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Affordable, BPA-Free Sippy Cup Solutions

I wanted a BPA-free sippy cup for my son, but I heard so many complaints about leaks and design flaws from other mothers, that I was hesitant to shell out the cash.   I was under the (misguided) impression that most BPA-free cups cost $15-20 dollars apiece, plus shipping, which was tough to swallow considering that I hadn’t heard great reviews.

The Tightwad Gazette offered the simple, thrifty solution of having a child drink out of a cup after turning one.  After all, what did people do before plastic was invented?

We tried instructing our child to gently sip with a straw, but a few dozen cups of spilled milk later, I felt we needed a better solution.  Just then, I read a post on Green and Clean Mom announcing the happy news: Target now carries Munchkin BPA-free sippy cups for between one and three dollars! Eureka!  In her post, Green and Clean mom apologizes for her wild enthusiasm about finding these cups, but I instantly shared her thrill. 

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Saving Money with Store Brand Organics

Although I’m always trying to shift my grocery selections to organic products, sometimes my inner tightwad cannot handle the sticker shock—especially with the recent rise in food prices.  Buying our produce through a Commmunity Supported Agriculture subscription and having our own raised bed garden has helped, but as a working mom, I depend on having some packaged products to feed my family. 

Store brand organics have come to my rescue with quality, eco-friendly products at reasonable prices.  I have found organic applesauce, crackers, and beans made by Western Family (a generic brand popular in the Pacific Northwest) at my local grocery store.  Even chain stores such as Safeway and Fred Meyer also offer their own organic selections, including baby food.

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The Eco-Friendly Christmas Tree Dilemma

I live in Oregon where we’re surrounded by evergreens and breathe in pine-scented air on a daily basis.  Every Christmas I’ve had a real tree, some of which we tromped out into the woods to find and others that we’ve picked out at our local tree farms.  It has always seemed like a normal part of the holidays to have a real tree, so I was shocked to hear others touting the eco-benefits of plastic holiday trees.  Say it isn’t so! 

Still, it’s good to consider the plastic vs. real debate and then think beyond it.  There’s certain to be a tree that will fit your budget and your green values.

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Saving Money on Holiday Groceries

My life has become a bit easier this year with the addition of a freezer and makeshift pantry in our garage.  What a difference!  I’ve cut my grocery shopping trips down to one or two per month and been able to stock up on sale foods at peak times.  Our membership to a CSA fills in the fresh food gaps with local organic produce each week.

Since my state of mind has shifted toward stocking up, I realize that now is a great time to purchase sale priced products that will last for months.  After studying a few grocery store flyers, I’ve found myself stocking up on the following items:

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Warming Your Home Instead of The Planet

With a new baby at home, it’s tempting to crank up the heat on these cold November days.  When the energy bill arrives, however, it can be shocking to see how an increase of just a few degrees on the thermostat can impact the utility bill and your energy output.  Since heating the home takes up about half of a family’s energy costs each month, finding a few ways to cut back can make a huge difference in your expenses and your carbon footprint.

  •  Don’t heat what you don’t use:  If you want baby to stay extra warm, you can heat up her room and keep the rest of the house a bit cooler.  Close the doors to unused rooms and turn the thermostat to 55 degrees to avoid mildew.
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