making frugal & simple beautiful

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affordable mother’s day gift guide, 2 ways

affordable mother’s day gift guide, 2 ways

  {We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.}   I have made a list of some of my favorite Mother’s […]

5 of my favorite gardening books (and a couple i’m dying to read)

5 of my favorite gardening books (and a couple i’m dying to read)

{We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.}   The second best way to learn about gardening, aside from knowledgeable friends […]

the feel of a home

the feel of a home

 

{We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.}

 

How my home feels is so important to me.

Beauty in your life and home often gets overlooked as not necessary and frivolous. But to me, if I can take something that I use everyday, or something that I have to look at everyday, and find a way for it to make me smile, that’s very important! Your home and the things you surround yourself with effect how you feel about yourself, and how you function in your daily life.

Everyone has their own sense of style and taste, what makes them feel good. Some people love bright color, and energy, others like soft muted shades, whites, quiet and natural elements. Whatever your personal “essence” is, go with that. What makes you feels calm and happy?

 

 

For my personal taste, which is the latter mentioned above, I think about these tones in my home:

  • clear, clean surfaces – Counter tops, table, bathroom counters I try to keep clutter free.
  • wood tones – Wood furniture, wooden kitchen utensils and cutting boards instead of plastic.
  • natural elements – Natural baskets instead of plastic tubs, potted plants in terra cotta pots, salt lamps, pottery dishes, scents in home from essential oils and natural sources.
  • lots of sunlight – No window coverings on most of the windows. Maybe some sheer white curtains in the future. Plenty of light comes in all day.

Something as simple as slowly replacing all my ugly, old plastic cooking utensils and cutting boards with bamboo, wood and metal utensils and wood cutting boards had made my kitchen feel so much better to me. Some may not bother with such things, but if you’re like me, you may understand what I’m talking about.

Things that make me and my home feel happy :

  • quiet time in God’s word
  • fresh flowers in a mason jar
  • herbs hanging to dry
  • a garland of dried citrus
  • a bunch of eucalyptus hanging in the shower
  • fresh, clean sheets sprayed with homemade essential oil linen spray
  • an old, tattered quilt waiting on the couch
  • a hot bath with epsom salts and lavender oil
  • reading an old book that I loved as a kid
  • a hot cup of herbal tea
  • a delicious fried egg in a cast iron skillet
  • growing flowers and veggies of my own
  • rearranging the furniture in one room and decorating by “shopping” my home
  • cloth napkins
  • beeswax candles
  • a notebook and pencil by the bed to empty all my thoughts before sleep
  • my rosemary bush planted near where I walk by, brushing past it releasing it’s aroma
  • treating myself to new hand towels for the kitchen
  • a special bar of soap by the sink
  • a playlist of some of my favorite songs

It is amazing how small things put together can set the tone in a home. I want my home to be a place I love being, that feels good to me, and that replenishes.

I love the book Living a Beautiful Life by Alexandra Stoddard. It’s packed with small, inspiring ways to add beauty and intention to your everyday life.

What special things about your home make you feel warm and fuzzy?



get rid of them ants!

get rid of them ants!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin     I’m a pretty easy going  person. Until I see either of these two things in my house… A spider, or ants! Then, as the joke goes, I turn into Al Capone. ” I want him dead! I want […]

what’s in my spring cold frame

what’s in my spring cold frame

  Last summer my sweet husband built me a cold frame! He made it nice and deep, long enough to house lots of plants, and made an ingenious sliding plastic panel top to cover it. I just told him that I would absolutely have to […]

6 ways I save $ on groceries

6 ways I save $ on groceries

 

 

We are going through some life changes in our household! They are all good ones, but will require us to tighten our belts for a few years to see my husband change careers and go back to school. This has got me back into the frugal mama mode and I have been brainstorming ways to spend less in our regular expenses, including on groceries. A few years ago our family went on a journey to rid ourselves of debt and we did many things to cut expenses, so I am familiar with the concept. You can read more about our getting out of debt story here. I may not be super thrilled about it… Ha! But at least it’s familiar territory!

 

 

Here are a few things I plan on implementing (again) to save our pennies.

  1. Bake Bread – Baking bread is a great way to save money, especially if you are concerned about the quality of food that your family eats. If you normally buy organic, or natural whole grain bread, and don’t want to sacrifice the healthy stuff for the cheap, refined  loaves, baking it yourself may be the answer.  I can bake about 5 or 6 loaves of organic, homemade bread for the cost of one organic store bought loaf!
  2. Cut back on meat – Even exchanging one meat meal a week (4 meals a month) for another protein source can save you some money.  A few ideas are breakfast for supper, which is always a winner. Some nice coddled eggs and pancakes, or yummy friend egg sandwiches and hash browns. You could do something I love, nachos! I dump some corn chips on a plate, add shredded cheese and beans and microwave to melt.  Then I pile on avocados, onions, diced cherry tomatoes, salsa, whatever floats your boat. It’s so yummy! (Do you like my fancy recipe jargon? Dump and pile?) You could do cheese quesadillas with beans and rice, big veggie salads, grilled cheeses and soup, vegetable stir fry with rice… These types of meals tend to cost less per serving than meat.
  3. Shop the perimeter of the store – The healthier, whole food groups tend to be on the outside edge of the store. Produce, meats and dairy. There are few exceptions, frozen veggies can be a great option, flours and beans and rice, spices…  The processed food that come in cans and boxes and bags tend to cost you more per serving and also cost you in the health department as well. If I only have $100 a week to spend on feeding my family, the majority of what’s in my buggy need to be healthy, nutrient dense foods. I do buy things like tortilla chips, and jellies and nut butter, so this is just a general rule of thumb. But I find that the more fresh food I have in my buggy, the better cost and health. Most the time, you are paying for the convenience of pre-prepared foods, so I you are willing to spend more time in the kitchen as opposed to more money, then most the time you can make your own. Read about what you can make instead of buy here.
  4. Take a list – This one is huge for me. If I don’t have a list, watch out! I always try to make a meal plan by what I see is on sale that week at my favorite store(s). Then I make list to take with me. Deviating from my plan always costs me. Impulse buys rarely pay off and usually are regretted.
  5. Cut out buying drinks – Bottled drinks are so expensive! Soda and juice can really rack up the bill quick. Just drink water! It’s free!
  6. Use the app Ibotta – I love this app. I have to get back into the habit of using it every week, but you download it on your phone, see what the offers are at your store(s) that week and after you have made your purchase, you upload your receipt to prove your purchases and they put money in your Ibotta account. After you accumulate $20 or more, you can cash out through PayPal, or by gift card. It’s not going to make you rich, but hey. Every bit helps, right?!

Now, go forth and save money!

opening my young living essential oils starter kit

opening my young living essential oils starter kit

    It was finally here! My Young Living Starter Kit had finally arrived. Many months of debating and research and hemming and hawing had finally culminated to this beautiful moment. Okay… Maybe I’m being a bit dramatic. But it was almost that good.   […]

no junk easter basket ideas

no junk easter basket ideas

    I just love planning and stuffing an Easter basket for our daughter. It just tickles me! Every year I try to think of cute things to give her that isn’t all candy, and that isn’t all plastic junk that will break in 5 […]

seed starting 101

seed starting 101

 

 

 

Right about now, is the perfect time for starting seeds inside. I am full on into the project myself and thought it might be helpful for someone if I shared how I do it. I am in no way an expert, I am still learning. But I have successfully (and sometime not so successfully) started seeds for about 6 years and have learned some things along the way.

Why start seeds instead of buying plants at a nursery?

Why should you consider starting your own seeds at home instead of going to the nursery and buying them all ready to go? What is the benefit?

Well, first off, if you are a first or second year gardener and just getting your feet wet, buying your plants at a nursery is perfectly fine, and in fact, if it enables you to get plants growing in the ground and provides you with some veggies, some learning experience, etc… then that’s wonderful! There is nothing wrong with buying plants. Some things are hard to germinate and propagate, and there are still several things that I enjoy purchasing in plant form in the spring. For example, rhubarb, herbs like thyme, rosemary, lavender, and many perennial flowers.

What I would say are benefits of growing your plants from seed would be the following:

  • No risk of introducing a plant into your garden that is already infected with a fungus or disease it contracted from the nursery.
  • You can control the growing environment and can produce healthier plants and avoid root bound pots, and stressed plants.
  • It is way cheaper! I can grow 10-20 tomato plants for the cost of buying 1 at a nursery.
  • Variety and options. You have near limitless options for wonderful varieties of veggies and herbs when you purchase seeds. If I wanted to plant a sweet pepper, and I went to the nursery, I might find 2 or 3 options. But if I looked in my seed catalog, I would find many, many options. Each variety with specific instructions on growth preferences,  flavor, and specifications. I could choose just the right pepper that would do well in my climate, or with certain resistances to fungus and diseases that I’ve had trouble with in the past… You can choose exactly what you need instead of settling for whatever they decide to sell that year.

 

What equipment do I need to start seed indoors?

For optimal success, I would recommend:

  • shelving or surface
  • trays and cups
  • seed starting soil
  • full spectrum florescent lights (also called plant/aquarium bulbs, or grow bulbs)

 

How do I set up my seed starting space?

This is my set up: I have a metal shelving unit in our foyer walk-in closet that I use for seed starting February – May, and for storage the rest of the year. It is like this. Then I hang my florescent shop lights from little chains so they are height adjustable. Now the structure is set up for growing, lets talk about a few details.

  • Lighting – Make sure you have full spectrum lighting. Plants need the balanced warm and cool light. Regular fluorescent bulbs will not work well. These may be sold as plant and aquarium bulbs, or seed starting bulbs or grow bulbs. As long as it says they appropriate for plant growth.
  • Height – It is important to be able to adjust the height of your lighting as your plants grow. The light needs to be as close to the plants as possible. Like 1 inch above or less.
  • Warmth – It is helpful to start seeds in a warm environment. A cold basement might not be the best. Some folks like to use heated mats to set their pots on for germinating. I haven’t used them before.
  • Pots – I use something different to pot my seedlings  just about every year it seems. I am looking for the perfect set up! Ha! I have tried peat pots, plastic cell trays, folded newspaper pots and this year I’m using styrofoam cups. The peat pots work fine, but are pricey. The plastic cell trays many people have success with, but I don’t like using them as they are so small you have to transplant to a bigger pot before you plant in the garden, and they are the dickens to try to get individual seedling out. The newspaper pots I did last year. I made a bunch of them, but was not happy with the results. They seemed to encourage mold growth, I lost several plant to fungus. They also didn’t seem to break down quickly enough and I wondered if they inhibited root development. This year I am growing in small styrofoam cups, which is working beautifully, but I regret it slightly as they are flimsy and I hate the thought of disposing of those cups instead of using something reusable or biodegradable. Any solid pot you use needs to have drainage holes pokes or drilled in the bottom. Let me know if you have a good suggestion.
  • Trays – I use aluminum cooking trays from the dollar store to set my rows of cups in to keep them together and catch the extra water and dirt.

 

 

 

 

 

How do I start my seeds?

Once you have your lighting set up, and you’ve chosen your trays and pots, choose a seed starting soil. Don’t use regular potting soil or dirt out of your garden. It is better to have the very soft, sterile soil you can purchase. Some folks make their own mix. Here’s one.

The mix can be very dry so I like to pre-moisten by dumping some into a bucket that has a little water in the bottom and mixing it up well.

  • Fill your pots your with soil and plant your seeds to the depth on the seed packet. I usually plant 2 -3 seeds per pot in case one seed doesn’t sprout.
  • Tuck them under their little lights, keep them moist and pretty soon… Voila! Sprouts appear!
  • When they become about an inch tall, you can thin them if multiples came up. Do this carefully with a pair of scissors instead of pulling so as not to disturb the roots of the other sprout.
  • Keep your lights directly above the plants. When the plants start touching the bulbs, you know it’s time to raise your lights a little bit.
  • Keep seedlings moist, but not wet all the time. Over watering will encourage fungal growth.
  • Before planting outside in your garden, you will want to “harden off” your seedlings. This is done by slowly acclimating them to the outdoor environment, so they won’t be shocked by changing temperatures, harsh sunlight, etc… I just set my seedling out on the porch during the day for a week or so.
  • Baby them a little when you first plant them out. Protect them from harsh winds or rain, and make sure they have plenty of water until they become established.

That’s what I know about starting plants for your garden from seed. If I’ve missed anything, tell me in the comments, or if you have a tip or trick that works for you please share! Happy gardening friends!

cozy butter eggs ~ a quick meal

cozy butter eggs ~ a quick meal

Eggs are some of my very favorite things to eat. And this is one of my favorite ways to eat them.I call them cozy butter eggs because doesn’t it look cozy tucked into that little ramekin? I start with a nice, deep fry pan and […]