Planet-Saving, Money-Saving Homemade Popcorn

With grocery prices soaring, it’s nice to know that you can save loads of money on a simple, homemade snack.  We’ve been guilty of buying microwave popcorn in the past, but six months ago I began making it on the stovetop––it’s incredibly easy and requires almost no equipment!  Plus it will help you avoid the hydrogenated oils in packaged popcorns as well as the cost and packaging.  It’s great for the planet, your budget and your family’s health—and it doesn’t require a lot of work.  From start to finish you can expect it to take less than ten minutes, including cleanup.

  • Find a large, heavy pot with a lid. (Most people already have one.)
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A Moving Costume: Easy Trick-or-Treating Transportation

Because our trick-or-treating journey will be a bit long this year, my husband decided to make Roscoe’s wagon part of the costume.  My son received it for his birthday this year after we did some rust-removal and repainting. It’s now one of his most prized possessions and we love its versatility and usefulness. 

My hubby found some old cardboard in our attic and a few wooden sign posts.  He cut them out, decorated them with some of our old paint (the red was left over from the wagon) and made an easy add-on to the wagon. 

It cost just under $4.00 total for this fabulous moving costume and the objects we reused have been granted a second (more glamorous) life too!  It’s more adorable and natural than those large plastic vehicles for sale at big-box stores and it’s  provided just as much fun.

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Using Baking Soda for Baby’s Bath, Diaper Pail, Cradle Cap, and More!

Discovering new ways to use natural, inexpensive products gives me a slightly bizarre thrill—like winning the lottery, fully reversing global warming, or seeing my toddler son first thing in the morning. 

You can imagine my euphoria when I found out that a fifty cent box of baking soda could replace diaper cream, eco-friendly cleaners, and baby bath without any artificial ingredients or phthalates.  For those of you that didn’t catch last week’s post, you might want to read up on how baking soda can also replace deodorant, shampoo and even toothpaste!

Baking Soda: Over 500 Fabulous, Fun, and Frugal Uses You’ve Probably Never Thought of” offers a plethora of ideas using for baking soda with babies and throughout your house.  The book is chock full of ways to replace potentially toxic mainstream products and expensive green cleaners with simple baking soda solutions. The list below is compiled from the book’s section on caring for babies and children. 

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Baking Soda in the Bathroom Makes an Eco-friendly Shampoo, Deodorant, and Toothpaste!

For years I knew that baking soda had a huge variety of household applications.  We use it to make a soft scrub for the sink, we deodorize the fridge, it helps our muffins rise and can even be used as an antacid. 

But, thanks to a tip from Frugal Babe I tried baking soda as a shampoo.  When I first worked it into my hair the lack of suds and lather seemed a little strange.  Surprisingly, my hair was actually very soft and clean after the wash—as was my skin.   Since then I’ve heard that really oily hair can benefit from a quick “dry wash” with baking soda if there isn’t time for a full shampoo.  Just sprinkle the baking soda onto oily hair without wetting it, work into the roots, and brush out.

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Thrifty Green Halloween: Enjoying a Fun and Eco-Friendly Holiday

Is it possible to have a wickedly wonderful Halloween without disposable costumes, expensive candy, and ultra sugar highs? Yes! You could …

A. Move to another country
B. Hibernate
C. Join a commune

Kidding—but seriously, there are a few ways to limit the cost and eco-impact of this year.

Tricks:

Throw a Halloween party: Our friends are going to celebrate the holiday with a party, allowing them to skip late night trick-or-treating with their children and manage the sugar factor a bit. I’ll have to pass along Rebecca’s recipe for wholesome pumpkin bars so they’ll have an easy treat that the kids can enjoy.

Manage the candy: We are planning on going trick-or-treating this year, but we’re just going to a few houses and limiting my son’s candy. We haven’t yet decided whether to let him gorge for one night and then give the rest of the candy to our co-workers, or provide a piece of candy to him daily for awhile. Option number one lets him enjoy and then get back to healthy habits but option number two might entail a huge stomachache and a late bedtime. What do you do about this?

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Using a Pantry to Save Time, Money and the Planet

Yesterday Rebecca wrote about why she doesn’t buy in bulk and now I shall disagree with her wholeheartedly.  I LOVE filling our pantry and stocking our extra freezer with wholesome food!

When I was growing up my mom canned peaches and pears, homemade applesauce and tuna in the summertime to prepare for the long winter months.  While I’m not quite as resourceful as she was, I find that stocking my makeshift garage pantry has actually saved time, money and the planet.

Since we’re conscientiously trying to lower our grocery bill this year, we’ve been amazed by how much money we save by stockpiling.  Our used Craigslist freezer is packed with six gallon-sized Ziploc bags of organic blueberries we hand-picked  for just thirty dollars total.  We loaded up on free organic blackberries and made enough homemade blackberry jam to last us for months.  Friends of mine have ordered part of a free range cow and filled their freezers with steaks and ground beef to last all winter.   Since our nearby grocery stores are extremely expensive and charge two to three times what we pay at Grocery Outlet or directly to organic farmers, it’s worth stocking up. 

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Zwaggle, Freecycle, and Freepeats: Finding Freebies by Recycling Online

Often when I’m headed off to buy a whatzit, it strikes me that someone nearby is probably dying to get rid of the exact thing I want.  And when I drop off a sack full of goodies at a thrift store, I wonder if they’ll make it past the cluttered shelves and into the hands of someone who needs them.

That’s where  the Internet comes in.   For the first time in human history it’s incredibly easy to unload unwanted stuff or search for a used item—all for free! 

Zwaggle is an online resource for parents who are looking to give and get items for their children.  People receive Zwaggle points called “zoints” for giving gently used items to others and then can use then to “purchase” things for their family.  Since it all happens online, you can get things from across the nation so it’s a bit like Ebay without the expense. 

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Repairing A Rusty Wagon: A Little Red Renovation

While on a garage sale gift shopping spree, I ran across this rusty red wagon for just five dollars.  Honestly, I hadn’t even thought about getting a wagon for my son’s birthday and it did look rather damaged, but its previous owner coached me through the steps for fixing it up and ended up convincing me to buy.  I’m so glad he did!

The total time it took to fix the wagon was about three hours (including shopping time) and didn’t require much effort.  We followed  a few simple steps and found ourselves quite happy with the results.

Sand down the rust. Using steel wool, we scrubbed down the inside of the wagon with soapy water until it was as clean and smooth as we could get it.  We should have paid more attention to the corners and seams between the bottom and sides, but overall we did well.

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Garage Sale Gift Shopping

Last week you read about our adventures in green birthday party planning–but that’s only half the story. Our quest for quality gifts started long before the birthday festivities when I declared that we could buy all Roscoe’s birthday presents used.

My husband was a bit skeptical, especially because we had a very specific birthday list for our son.  It was short, but we knew he’d enjoy his presents and they wouldn’t crowd our small house:

  • A tricycle
  • A collapsible play tent
  • A wooden city bus (He’s obsessed with public transport)
  • A book

After weeks of searching online for a used trike, my husband started pricing new tricycles at around $50-$100 each.  My tightwad soul couldn’t bear spending that much on one gift.  So with a purse full of small bills, I hit the garage sale circuit to see if we could find everything we needed. 

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Green Birthday Parties for Kids

This year I found myself apathetic about throwing a traditional party for my two year old.  While I could have selected coordinating décor and unique party favors, I was determined to keep it simple.  Am I an unfit mother?  I hope not.  The truth is that throwing a big birthday shindig often ends up being expensive, exhausting and very disposable.  

Luckily I knew my son would be thrilled to run through a park with his friends and receive a few presents. We added blueberry muffins to the mix and he was in utter bliss. 

Plus, I had to wonder, would I be doing all that extra stuff for him and his friends, or for the other adults? Before I got wrapped up in other people’s potential judgments of his very simple celebration, I realized that the people in Roscoe’s life are unpretentious, kind and very connected to him.  They forgave me for my un-Martha Stewart festivities. 

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