Suddenly Frugal By Necessity, Not By Choice

Upon hearing that my husband was laid off a few weeks ago, both of us found ourselves surprised by our own relief.  Obviously for many families losing a job can be tremendously stressful—especially with young children involved.  In fact, if my husband would have been laid off a few months later we would have been in serious trouble.  By that point I would have signed a half time teaching contract for next year which wouldn’t have been enough income to support our family.  Thank goodness I still have the option to teach full time next year and we have enough of an emergency fund to ease us through the summer. 

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A Simple, Eco-Friendly Solution for Stinky Diapers: Use Hydrogen Peroxide in Place of Chlorine Bleach

Have you ever pulled supposedly clean diapers out of the washer only to find that they’re nearly as stinky as when they went in?  What’s the problem?  It could be a variety of factors including the iron content in your water, the laundry soap you’re using, or synthetic fabrics. 

The other day I stumbled across an amazing solution: hydrogen peroxide!  It turns out that plain old hydrogen peroxide will provide you with your own homemade version of non-chlorine bleach. 

For the wash: Add a quarter cup of hydrogen peroxide to each           washload or a bit more for very full or dirty loads.  

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Making Homemade Non-Chlorine Bleach

Mildew is my nemesis, but I much prefer it to the fumes of chlorinated bleach. Even though chlorine is very hard on the environment and our health, it’s found in a wide variety of household cleaners—all of which I’ve now replaced with homemade versions.  The one hurdle we hadn’t quite overcome was bleach. So the last time we desperately needed to clean out the shower I asked my husband to purchase chlorine-free bleach to save the environment and my nose.

When we read the label on the container we were a bit shocked.  The ingredients were simply hydrogen peroxide and water.  Why then did we pay too much when we could have made it ourselves? 

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Economical Organic Home Gardening

Is organic gardening really all that difficult, or costly?  We turned to our experts, Caitlin Blethlen of Growing Gardens and Mara Reynolds of Portland Community Gardens to see just how easy and inexpensive it can be to grow your own food organically.

GBG: In your opinion, are organic gardens more expensive to plant and maintain than those using pesticides and herbicides? 

Caitlin: No.  The basis of organic gardening is establishing healthy soil which can take time through using cover crops, and adding compost and creating a balanced eco system in your yard.

Mara:  As far as I know, with the exception of the initial cost of seeds, organic gardening is cheaper all across the board.  With proper planting techniques, composting, and soil amendments, you should be able to successfully garden organically with very little inputs.  (To be honest I’ve never gardened with pesticides or herbicides)

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Saving Money and The Planet With Reused Easter Baskets

For many families celebrating the holiday, an Easter basket is a once in a lifetime purchase.  You may be picking one out for your baby this year for the first time.  Why not recycle, save some money, and splurge a bit more on the chocolate bunnies?

You just wouldn’t believe how many Easter baskets clutter the shelves of our local thrift store.  There are hoards of pastel wicker containers stacked on top of each other, all priced reasonably.  There are also decorations of all sorts including plastic eggs (not my favorite—but better recycled than new), stuffed rabbits of all sizes, and other odds and ends.  Of course, after this past Monday’s post, you can skip the plastic Easter grass and grow a real grass in your basket! 

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Buying Oversized Clothing

Want an eco-friendly, budget friendly solution to keeping your child’s clothing costs in check?  Buy big!  I’ve found that buying clothes a size or two (or four!) bigger for my son works in a myriad of ways. 

  • Bigger pants accommodate cloth diapers. When he was smaller, we just rolled up the cuffs a bit.  Now that he’s potty training, they will be able to fit him for at least another six months with plenty of room around the waist!  Check out Rebecca’s post on managing cloth diaper bulk for more ideas.  
  • Used clothing has often shrunk after several washings.  Now when I search for secondhand duds at thrift stores, I’ll often buy 4T-6T shirts.  They fit him fine after I roll up the sleeves a bit.  They’ll last him at least a year and I won’t have to worry about shrinkage since they’ve already been washed several times.
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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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