Friday, September 30, 2011

31 Days to Slash Your Budget Painlessly - Intro

If you are a new visitor, welcome to my place! If you're already a follower, welcome back! I've chosen to participate in 31 Days of Change, hosted by The Nester and 7 other bloggers.  My topic is 31 Days to Slash Your Budget Painlessly, because I am on a mission to lower our expenses. If a penny saved, is a penny earned, then $200 saved is better!

I would love it if you would grab my button and post it on your site so others can join in the savings!

Green Willow Pond

My lower our expenses by $2400 a year, or $200 a month...and to do it painlessly. Most of the cuts I am making will actually be improvements, in my estimation. Some may work for you, others may not fit. But I hope these posts will inspire you to look at your own spending, and see what you could do to keep some of your hard earned money.

This first post will be a portal to all 31 days posts. You can click on the button in the sidebar, near the top, and it will direct you to this page, which will have links to each post in this series (at the bottom of the page). That way you won't have to sift through all my posts, trying to find the one you want.

What I won't be posting are obvious things like stocking up on sale items, using coupons,  or shopping at garage sales, second hand stores, etc.  I'm guessing you are already doing some or all of those things. These 31 posts will be about specific things you can do to save some money.  Some will save a few dollars a month, some will save a lot more and one in particular will save me $80 every month!  Most will be very quick and easy. 

I would love for you to join me October 1st and for the next 31 days.  Your mission, should you choose to accept it is to see how much you can save during the month of October.    Maybe you have a goal you would like to save for.  If so, I'd be thrilled if you posted about it in the comment section below. Also be sure to take a peek at what others are posting about this month.  Check out the link party at the Nesting Place

Tomorrow's post could save you around $50 - $100 a year.  Ya'll come back now ya hear?

Posts in this Series:
  9. See Day 10 
12. Dishwasher Detergent
16. Scrubba-Dub-Dub
17. Cream of Soup Mix
18. It Doesn't Compute
22. Rolling in the Dough
23. I'm Floored
24. TV for Free? Almost!
25. Saving Face
27. Lazy Sunday Meals
28. Hairway Robbery
31. Smart Strip & Wrap-up

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

31 Days to Change Starts Oct. 1

It was late, it sounded good at the time, and I was high on pear syrup. I signed up for 31 Days of Change hosted by Nesting Place.  My topic is "31 Days to Slash Your Budget Painlessly."

I have been tossing around the idea of posting a series on reducing your budget anyway.  I'm on a mission to cut our spending by at least $200 a month.  I am well on the way to that, so I thought I'd share what I'm doing, in the hopes that it might help others too.

It all starts October 1st.  I'm nervous and excited.  You still have time to join in and be nervous and excited with me if you want.  Click the link above and see what all the excitement about.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Pinterest Inspired #5 - It's a Trap!

A fruit fly trap that is. I've been canning pears, and pear butter and pear syrup. The pear syrup is something I came up with on the pun intended. It is soooo yummy!

We don't have a garage, just a barn, but the barn is too far away from the house to make it handy to store pears until ready to can. So, I had to bring boxes of pears into the house and store them in the laundry room until I could can them. Can you see where I'm going? In a word, "fruit flies,"...okay that's two words, but about a gajillion and three fruit flies!

I'm finally am down to two boxes of pears yet to can, so I put them out on the back deck for the night and set up my Pinterest inspired fruit fly trap. And it is working.

It's hard to see in the picture, but there are already dozens in the trap.  I'll let it sit overnight, take it outside tomorrow to let them out, retape it and bring it back in until all the nasty critters are gone.  It's just a piece of paper rolled up into a cone with a tiny hole at the tip, taped up the side, then set into a jar with a piece of overripe fruit in it.  It doesn't have to be a pear, I just had a bajillion and one available.  Tape the cone to the jar all around the rim, making sure there are no holes for the flies to escape through.

I pinned the idea from here:

On a much more pleasant note, I have 38 quarts and 3 pints of pears canned so far, along with 3 pints each of pear butter and pear syrup.  Take a peek at all the yumminess:

I'll post the recipe for the pear butter and syrup in the next day or three, depending on how my canning goes.  Must make hay while the sun shines!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pinterest Inspired #4 - Never Need to Buy Dryer Sheets Again

Did you ever forget to use, or run out of dryer sheets?  Don't you hate it when you go to get dressed, and you have a lightening storm right there in your pants?

I have a story that could have been one of those "most embarrassing moments" stories.  Thankfully it happened here at home.  I got up, got dressed and started going about my day, after surviving the lightning storm.  Suddenly I felt something strange and soft fall down my leg and around my ankle.  I looked down and a pair of my underwear was falling out of my sweatpants leg.  Yes I did put my underwear on correctly that morning.  Just sayin.

Apparently static electricity had held them in there when I took them out of the dryer and folded them.  How I didn't feel them, or knock them out of the pants while dressing I don't know.  I laughed...probably as hard as you are now.  It could have been worse...I could have gone to town and flaunted my underwear to the public...or worse they could have been in my husbands pants!  Oh my...he would never have lived that down!

I'll tell you what, I became a believer in dryer sheets that day.  But no more dryer sheets for me.  Reckless abandon?  Naw...I found something that worked just as well for free!

This just amazed me. I didn't believe it when I read it, but I thought, what the heck, all I've got to lose is a lot of static. So I tried it and now I'm a believer. I will never buy another dryer sheet. They just cover up the nice fresh, clean scent of my homemade laundry soap anyway. Plus I'll save around $13 a year. Not a ton, but every little bit adds up. If you use name brand dryer sheets, you would save even more.

So what's the secret?   No it's not liquid fabric softener, or something to add to the wash cycle.  It's not dryer balls, moth balls or fur balls.  It's  something you would normally mindlessly throw away.  Are you ready for it?

No I'm not the goose that laid a silver egg.  It's a wad of aluminum foil.  I was going to throw it away after using it to cover something.  It was still clean...and then I remembered the idea I pinned on Pinterest.  I was doing laundry that day, so I wadded it up tight and threw it in the dryer, not really expecting it to work.  Well I was wrong.  It worked perfectly and the foil just became more tightly packed and smooth in the dryer.  I finished up the rest of the laundry with just that one foil egg, and it's still in perfect shape. 

The original post is here:

Yes it should be up on a pedestal, right up there with's that genious!  Try it and let me know what you think. 

I've linked to these awesome parties. Go check them out!
The Ironcrafter at Fireflies and Jellybeans
Terrific Under $10 Tuesday - At Home with K
Sunday Scoop @ I Heart Naptime

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Is it Granite or is it Giani?

I am over the moon about my new kitchen counters. I've always wanted granite...well, not always, but for a reaaaally long time. Now I have them! Okay, okay...I cannot tell a lie. I used a Giani granite paint kit in Black Onyx. Hold onto your hat, because you are not going to believe this.

Can you stand it?  Ignoring the ugly wall where I ripped off the original backsplash, just look at the shine on those counters! I'm doing back flips in my head...they don't call me a dizzy blond for nothing (grin).

Oh...and here's what they used to look like:

Just a wee bit of difference wouldn't you say?  Can you see me doing cartwheels in the reflection of my new counters?  Ahem...let's not and say I did...that just wouldn't be pretty.

Update:  I must be honest.  At first I was over the moon about this product.  And I still love the paint itself.  However, within 6 months time, it started chipping.  I was very careful with it too.  If water sat on it for even a few minutes, a cloudy spot would develop, although it would quickly disappear.  We also discovered that if    a drop of raw egg sat on it, the paint would wipe right off.   

 In retrospect, I would use the paints again, but would instead finish it with EnviroTex as shown by Ashleigh at Live Gorgeously.  

Sunday, September 18, 2011

No Turning Back - New Looking Countertops!

I am so stoked! I just finished the first 4 steps of painting my kitchen counters with Giani countertop paint. I haven't even used the top coat yet, and I'm already loving it! Here's a peek at the before and after.

I'll show you the finished counters soon, I promise, but I couldn't wait to post the difference so far!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Painting the Kitchen Walls & Pinterest Inspired #4 - Tub Scrub

Woo Hoo! I am finally painting my kitchen walls! After weeks of not being able to get back to the kitchen remodel, I'm finally taking another step forward in the process. I'm only painting the top 2/3rd of the walls, because we are installing beadboard on the bottom. I can't find my paint swatch at the moment, so I'll have to post paint colors later, but it's a light taupe, replacing the more yellow-based tan I had originally. You can see the difference here:

Sorry these pictures or so bad, but this corner of my kitchen doesn't get much light and it was really hard to capture the color.  anyway, you can see I've started.  It looks like the walls are the same color as the cabinets, but they aren't.  I'll post better pictures when it's done.   I'm feeling really punky today, so progress is slow.  I think I'm catching the gunk Tyler had this week.  My chest is tight and I'm reaaally tired.  But doggone it, I had a whole day at home today and I was determined to get these walls painted if it kills me!

On another note, I tried another cleaning recipe from pinterest a couple days ago.  We have very hard water with lots of iron in it...hence rust stains.  We really need a water softener, but since our water heater is on it's way out, the softener will have to wait.  The only product I could find that would take the rust stains out was The Works.  It works great, but it's very toxic.  My mom once had an asthma attack when she came over just as I had sprayed the bathroom tub with it.  She didn't even go near the bathroom, but ended up using her inhaler and finally had to leave.  When I spray it, I have to hold my breath, then rush out of the bathroom and close the door, leaving the window open to air it out.  Nasty stuff.

I really wanted to find something else that wasn't endangering mine and my family's health.  Pinterest to the rescue.  This tub scrub takes a bit more elbow grease, but not much.  Even with the other cleaner, I still had to scrub, and often had to spray a second time to get it all off.  It's so worth it to not be fumigated when I clean, and if I scrub a bit more, I'm building a little arm muscle right?  To be perfectly honest, it won't remove really bad rust stains.  But once the rust stains are gone, it should keep them at bay if used a couple times a week. 

Although the cost of the other cleaner is quite reasonable, I figure one batch of this tub scrub costs about .29 cents.  I use about 2 Tablespoons per cleaning, so I get about 8 cleanings (approximately 1 months worth) from a batch.  I was spending about $1.50 - $2.00 a month on
The Works.  It's not huge, but it should save me around $15 - $16 a year.

To make it, add 1 teaspoon liquid dish soap and 4-5 drops of an antibacterial essential oil, to 1 cup of baking soda.  Stir it up well.  I keep mine in a cool whip container with the recipe written on top.  To use, add enough water to a couple tablespoons of  this mixture to make a paste, and start scrubbing.  You can use any essential oil to make it smell nice, but tea tree oil has antibacterial properties, which is always a good thing in a cleaner.

What have you been inspired to make from Pinterest lately?  I'd love to see.  Comment with a link to your post.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Pinterest Inspired #3 - Easiest Granola Bars Ever

Ok...I'll be the first to tell you that these are probably not quite as healthy as some granola bars.  But they are at least a bit healthier than plain Rice Krispies.  The recipe is just as simple as Rice Krispy bars because it pretty much is, with a couple of modifications.  Basically you replace 2 cups of the Rice Krispies with 2 cups of quick oats, and use the whole bag of marshmellows.  You can add chocolate chips like I did (what else is there?), or you can make these even healthier by adding dried cranberries, nuts, or whatever you like.

The next time I make them, I will probably mix the chocolate chips in with the  rice krispies and oats.  Even pressed into the top, they tend to fall off.  But that didn't stop them from being delicious...and so simple!

I pinned this recipe so I can't take credit for it.  That goes to Julie at Freckles and Fun.  I pinned another of her ideas that may be cropping up here soon.  She's got a sweet blog and a sweet family.  Thanks Julie for a great recipe!  This one will make it into the recipe box.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Pinterest Inspired #2 - Picture Hanging Tool

Once again my plans to work on my kitchen fell through, but for a very worthy reason, that I was honored to help with.   My good friend, who usually coordinates funeral lunches for families in our church, has been spending the past 5 weeks down at Devos Children's hospital, where her son is undergoing radiation treatments for a brain tumor.  It appears he is going to be alright, praise the Lord!

She asked me to take her place in the event we had a funeral in our congregation.  Unfortunately, a dear man did pass away Saturday.  So I was very busy lining up volunteers and food.  Thankfully another lady took charge of buying the ham and potatoes and cooking.  Many wonderful volunteers brought food and helped set up, serve and clean up.  I love my church family! 

I did manage to accomplish one tiny job in my kitchen remodel.  I was in JoAnn's a few weeks ago to pick up some thread, for the jeans I took in the legs of, when I saw these hooks marked 50% off.

They've been sitting waiting patiently for me to hang them.  In the meantime, we've been draping dish towels everywhere to dry.  Tired of dish towels draped over my mixer, cabinet doors and dish drainer, I decided I was hanging those suckers if I had to stay up until midnight to do it!

Don't you hate it when you are hanging something and trying to figure out just where to put the nail?  Me too, but Pinterest came to my rescue.  Michele at The Scrap Shoppe came up with this ingenious tool.

If you haven't seen this you've got to try it.  This is mine (below).  Tip:  I recommend pre-drilling a hole with a tiny drill bit first.   The first one I tried, split when I tried to hammer it in.

Here's how this ingenious little tool works.  Put the head of the nail through the hook on the back of whatever you are hanging.

Hold it against the wall where you want your picture, hook, or other decor to be placed,  the point of the nail toward the wall, then press or gently tap it into the wall.  Remove it and you will have a tiny hole right where you want your nail to be.

Here is my hook, perfectly placed.

And here it is in action.

I love how well the hook matches my curtains!   I also love that my kitchen isn't decorated in dish towel tents.  I actually bought and hung two of them, right across from each other, over the sink.          

A little tip:  This hook would have rubbed against my cupboard and scratched it up, so I put a dab of hot glue at every contact point.  As a bonus, it helps to hold the hook in place better.

Ok...quick, go find something to hang.  You've got to try this!

I've linked to these awesome parties...go check them out!

Pinhead Project Party at Remodelholic


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