Tuesday, October 28, 2014

10 Ways To Enjoy A Frugal Hallowe'en

Hallowe'en is so much fun! I love seeing all the kiddos dressed up in costumes, pumpkin carving, pumpkin flavored everything, and the creativity that is part of it all. I think I even like Hallowe'en a little more than Christmas, but that may be because I don't like all the commercialism that goes with Christmas!

Hallowe'en can be done frugally, very frugally. For several years, we have not bought many costumes nor spent a lot for decorations. I am not one to put out many (if any) holiday decorations, but my kids do put out a few as does my mother. That decorating gene skipped a generation in me.

10 Ways To Enjoy A Frugal Hallowe'en

Paige's costume was a cat. Grandma made the headband and tail. The rest we had!

1. Make your own costumes. This may be a "duh" thing, but so many people find it easier to buy the costumes (including me). However, my girls would use their play clothes as costumes and love it. My mom made them costumes a couple times. We also passed costumes down from kid to kid and borrowed costumes from others. We also bought two non-gender specific costumes when they were babies and toddlers that all my kids wore. The first year they were Pooh and the second year they were Tigger.

Dane decided to be many different superheroes in one. Paige was a ladybug. Part of her costume was purchased and part of it was things we had.

2. If you have to buy a Hallowe'en costume, wait until they are 40-50% off or raid your local thrift shop. Also, buy the costume a size or two too big. That way you can get two years or more out of the costume. My kids would also add their costumes to the dress up box and wear them all year round. You might as well get your money's worth out of them.

3. Make your own masks for Hallowe'en. In Iowa, the weather is rather unpredictable at Hallowe'en time. We could have warm, mild weather and we could have a very cold, breezy weather. Sometimes the kids are so bundled up that it isn't worth dressing up in a costume. Just wearing a mask makes sense. You can use flexible cardboard, brown paper bags, some elastic to hold it on, and let the kids decorate it however they want.

4. Use cloth grocery bags for trick and treat bags. Seriously, these bags are the bomb! They don't rip easily. They can handle being dragged by your kids walking down the sidewalk. They can hold a lot of weight. If you are concerned about the colors of the bags not being right, use black, orange, or purple ones. However, I am not worried about such things.

5. Make your own treats. I know this might not work in a big city, but in our small community we can get away with this. Make popcorn balls, trail mix, cookies, or something small to give as treats. Give out apples or oranges if you are thinking healthy. You can also make a small treat that is non-food or a tag for a pencil. Use your imagination, but you do not have to buy bags of candy. (Yes I know there is a stigma about homemade treats, but you should only be trick and treating at homes of people you trust anyway.)

6. Have a truck and treat. If you don't want to spend long hours walking or driving around, gather a group of friends into a big driveway or parking lot. Most people decorate their car trunks and have the kids go around getting treats. Sometimes they also play games, have some drinks like apple cider or punch, and maybe even a potluck. You only have to have a certain amount of treats and you save money on fuel. To me, this sounds like a lot of fun!

7. Carve and/or decorate pumpkins. This is one of those things that can be incredibly messy, but fun! You don't need to have carving kits to do this. You can find patterns online for free if you want to go that direction. You can use paint or markers. I would wait to do this though until the week of Hallowe'en. The pumpkins can deteriorate quickly if done earlier. If the pumpkins are still in good shape after Hallowe'en, you can cut them in half and roast them for them. The pumpkin seeds can be roasted and eaten. The pumpkin pulp can be used in cookies, pies, muffins, etc.

8. Choose an area that you can walk to all the house you want to go to for trick and treating. Driving around and stopping a lot wastes a lot of gas. We live in the country and usually head to the closest small community. Very few of my neighbors have treats for trick and treating so this works well for us.

9. Have supper ready to go when you get home from trick and treating. I usually have something in the oven or in the slow cooker. This will help you avoid going out for supper because you are tired. It will also help the kids absorb the sugar better instead of bouncing off the walls all night. Better yet, they will eat less candy because they ate a filling meal.

10. Decorate with items that can be used longer than Hallowe'en. I have a tendency to decorate for fall rather than Hallowe'en. I use pumpkins, candles, runners, and maybe corn stalks. I like to decorate for several months at once and use things that can be reused or made into food later. I don't use gourds as I find them a waste (what do you do with them afterwards?). Most of my decorations are either given to me or I get for free. Just ask around for pumpkins or let your kids go on 4-H trips to the local pumpkin patch. They also come home with one or two.

That is how we celebrate Hallowe'en frugally! What ideas do you have?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

The Self Sufficient HomeAcre

Monday, October 27, 2014

Merry Christmas Coxs Honey Giveaway

Merry Christmas Coxs Honey Giveaway


Merry Christmas Coxs Honey Giveaway Oct. 27th-Nov. 2nd, 2014 by FoodStorageMoms.com

The holidays are right around the corner so what better way than to have Coxs Honey involved in a giveaway again! This giveaway is a little different. We will have one winner chosen through our Rafflecopter system. Then that winner will give the names and addresses to Cox's Honey for FIVE of their friends to receive the same giftpack shown above! WooHoo! This is a sponsored group giveaway and we thank Cox's Honey for these awesome prizes. Have you tried their creamed honey....fabulous! Have you seen: Cox's Honey Website? This Cox's Honey Gift Pack Giveaway is open to any resident who is 18 years of age or older who lives in one of the 48 US Contiguous States. This giveaway starts on Monday, Oct. 27th at 5:00 am (MDT) and ends on Sunday, Nov.2nd, 2014 at 5:00 pm (MDT). The winner will be notified by email and will have 24 hours to respond. If we do not hear back from said winner in the designated time period of 24 hours we will choose another winner and they will have 24 hours to respond from the time the notification email is sent. Please check your SPAM email folders. Good luck to everyone! Let's be prepared for the unexpected!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, October 24, 2014

My Wonder Oven Giveaway!

Top Ten Features of My Wonder Oven


My Wonder Oven Slow Cooker Giveaway-Oct.24th-29th, 2014 by FoodStorageMoms.com

The picture of our yummy, deliciously Autumn giveaway was taken by Joyce at My Wonder Oven.com. A group of bloggers decided to let you know about these awesome energy-saving, non-electric slow cookers. In order to slow cook food, all you do is use a pan with a lid and bring the food to a rolling boil for about 10-15 minutes. Quickly place the lid on your pan and place it in the Wonder Oven. By entering the giveaway below, you will have a chance to win one of these awesome My Wonder Ovens! Good luck!

My Wonder Oven Top Ten Features:

1. 100% Cotton

We promise the fabric won't melt!

2. Double Stitched

We want to make sure those beads stay right where we put them!

3. Filled with 3 mm polystyrene beads

Smaller beads conduct the heat better because there is less air space around them. Bigger is NOT always better.

4. VIRGIN beads

My Wonder Oven beads have not not been recycled from someone else's bean bag.

5. Floppy rather than overstuffed

My Wonder Oven Slow Cooker Giveaway-Oct.24th-29th, 2014 by FoodStorageMoms.com

This feature makes it easier to store, and allows you to fit it into a container (which is great when you're cooking on the go) or wrap it around your food. Go freestyle, baby.

6. Washable

If My Wonder Oven gets soiled, simply wash that area with soap and water and allow to air dry. It's a good idea to wrap your pot with a towel to avoid spills. A solar blanket also works great to catch spills and reduce condensation.

7. Cook on the road!

Think of it as a non-electric slow cooker.

  My Wonder Oven Slow Cooker Giveaway-Oct.24th-29th, 2014 by FoodStorageMoms.com

8. Refrigerate on the road

Great for keeping groceries cool, or even frozen, on the ride home.

9. Made is the USA

Even better, made in TEXAS.

10. Affordable pricing

Because I can purchase the fabric and those 3 mm VIRGIN beads here locally, I can keep the costs down.

Terms & Conditions:

This My Wonder Oven Giveaway is open to any resident who is 18 years of age or older who lives in one of the 48 US Contiguous States. This giveaway starts on Friday, Oct. 24th at 5:00 am (MDT) and ends on Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014 at 5:00 pm (MDT). The winner will be notified by email and will have 24 hours to respond. If we do not hear back from said winner in the designated time period of 24 hours we will choose another winner and they will have 24 hours to respond from the time the notification email is sent. Please check your SPAM email folders. Good luck to everyone! Let's be prepared for the unexpected!

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

25 More Frugal Ideas and Tips

In October 2012, I wrote a post about 25 Frugal Ideas and Tips. I thought that might be all I could offer you, but alas, I have more ideas and tips!

26. Don't run out and replace items as they break or wear out. Try to fix them or see if you can live without them. My clothes dryer will not start right now and I haven't replaced or fixed it yet. I have been just fine living without it.

27. You don't need a landline and a cell phone. Choose one or the other. I got rid of our landline the beginning of October because we simply did not use it. I need a cell phone for work so I kept that.

28. Turn down the thermostat in the winter and turn it up in the summer. Or learn to live without air conditioning. We actually went without it most of the summer and did fine.

29. Learn to tell yourself and your family, "No, that is not in the budget". You will be glad you did.

30. Assess your car and home insurance every year. You might be able to get it cheaper somewhere else or find coverages you do not need to pay for. Also check into the good student discounts, multi-policy discounts, and multiple vehicle discounts.

31. Declutter and find things to sell. I sell a lot of books, magazines, CDs, DVDs, and miscellaneous things. I find we don't need that stuff if we don't listen to it, watch it, or are done reading it.

32. Learn to make one meal stretch into 2-4 meals. Roast a chicken for supper, immediately throw the bones into the slow cooker with water for stock, and use the stock for soup and cooking rice. Use the leftover chicken for soup, casserole, or tacos.

33. Give up paper napkins for cloth napkins. We also use cheap wash cloths as napkins.

34. Eat meatless 2-3 meals a week. You will save a lot of money from not buying meat as often.

35. Stock on meat when it is on sale. I rarely buy meat from the store except for chicken. I will stock on good deals if they are $1.99 or less a pound. I don't even like to buy at that price, but the meat prices are increasing weekly. I can usually find whole chicken, chicken thighs and legs, and bone-in chicken breasts for $.99 and under.

36. Say no to fundraisers. We don't say no to every one that the kids bring home, but I struggle to pay for food at the inflated prices just for the purpose of raising money. I have a few guidelines such as I will support service-based fundraisers instead of selling-based fundraisers.

37. Buy good basic clothes instead of trendy clothes. I find many basic and multipurpose clothes at the thrift stores and I wear jeans every day. I keep my clothes simple and appropriate for home, school functions, work, chores, and gardening. This way, my clothes can be worn for a lot longer.

38. Pop your own popcorn for road trips and ball games. You save a lot of money and with a few bottles of water, you don't need to buy any food. Besides that, you can get the salt and butter to your liking!

39. Host a date night for yourself and invite a few other couples. Cook a nice dinner, provide a few drinks, watch the latest movie out for rental, and/or play a few games. Everyone saves money and has a great time!

40. Similarly, host a girls night in and do the same thing. Easier to hear each other than being at a bar or a club and cheaper than buying $4.00 drinks!

41. Cut out a guilty pleasure/addiction such as having a drink every day, smoking, buying a candy bar after work, buying a soda when grocery shopping, or grabbing that coffee on the way to work/school. That money adds up quickly and could be put to better use!

42. Use plastic on your windows in the winter to cut down the drafts and save money on your utility bills. Use draft stoppers on the bottom of doors. Shut off rooms that are not being used.

Paige running cross country - very cheap sport to be apart of!

43. Look for free sports, events, and groups for your kids to be involved in. My kids are in 4-H and love it. Our community has a community wide pumpkin carving that is free for everyone as long as your bring a pumpkin. Several communities have free concerts in the park events as well as town celebrations.

44. When having family celebrations, my family does more a potluck than one person cooking all the food. People are assigned to bring bread, salad, dessert, side dish, etc. Really keeps the costs down for the hosting home.

45. Use your electric skillet, pressure cooker, and slow cooker rather than turning on your stove/oven to save money. These appliances use less energy than a stove does.

46. When you use your oven in the winter, leave the oven opened a crack after you shut it off. The heat will help heat the kitchen up a little more.

Reused old glasses and jars

47. Reuse, reuse, reuse. Almost everything can be reused. Reuse gift bags, wrapping paper, plastic wrap, bows, aluminum foil, plastic baggies, grocery bags, yogurt containers, anything brown paper, newspaper, shoeboxes, etc. The list is endless and the possibilities are even more so.

48. Save your seeds from the garden and start your own plants. This can save you big money considering good nursery plants cost $2.50 - $5.00 for each plant. A good south facing window will help you greatly also. (Sadly, I lack one of those.)

49. In Iowa, we can take marked cans and bottles back to the redemption center and receive our deposit back. We get $.05 back on each can and bottle. If your state does this, it is certainly worth it to keep your cans and bottles as well as pick up any cans and bottles laying around. Otherwise, I know in Minnesota you can save your aluminum cans and get paid per pound. Again, still worth it to make a little extra money.

50. Share what you have generously with others. What you give away will come back to you twofold.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Do Not Put All Your Eggs In One Food Storage Basket!


When talking to people about food storage, most people are believers in using multiple methods to build up food storage as well as having a variety of foods in their food storage. However, increasingly I have been coming across people who only have one or two things they are stocking up on, one method, or one way to stock up.

Do not rely on just one method - you need to have a well rounded out food storage. Why?

 - You can buy a lot of canned goods, but eventually you run the risk of food expiring or running out.

 - You can buy a lot of freeze-dried foods, but the same problem exists as the canned goods.

 - You can rely solely on what you grow and raise, but what if you have a bad year or disease takes your animals?

 - You can buy a lot of dried or bulk goods, but what if they get damp, contaminated, or spoil?

 - You can can buy tons of rice and beans, but that will get old in a hurry without seasonings or other ingredients.

 - You can have a freezer stocked with meat, frozen vegetables, and frozen fruit, but what if the power fails or your freezer fails?

 - You can rely on what you hunt or forage, but what if the area becomes over hunted or stripped bare?

 - You can take the chance that you don't need food storage, but you could be proven very wrong.


As you can see, choosing one method can be a problem. Food storage is not complicated, but you should think of it in a broad sense. By choosing many different methods, you will survive longer than choosing one.

How many ways are there to build up your food storage? Several ways and methods. I use various ways and methods especially when I get into a rut. I build up my food storage using these ways:
 - commerically canned
 - home canned
 - freeze-dried
 - bulk and dried goods
 - gardening
 - gleaning and foraging
 - freezing
 - chickens for eggs
 - hunting (when I get the appropriate training and permits)


Personally, I don't think there is one right or one wrong way to build up food storage. Just don't put all your eggs in one basket! Choose from many ways/methods:
 - pick a few extras cans or jars of food at the grocery store
 - shop loss leaders in your weekly ads and buy the limit (within the constraints of your budget)
 - buy a flat of cans (I do this a lot at Aldis)
 - start a garden
 - ask for extra produce
 - can everything you can
 - don't waste the food you have
 - dehydrate produce
 - raise chickens for meat and eggs (very easy to do!)
 - join a food coop to make bulk purchases
 - shop online from places like Amazon and Emergency Essentials
 - purchase a quarter or half of beef/pork and can and/or freeze it

How do you like to build up your food storage? Do you believe in one way or choose many ways?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

P.S. Don't forget about the All-America Sun Oven Giveaway! This item is wonderful for cooking outdoors which helps cut down your utility bill. A win-win! Enter to win and tell all your friends about this too! Thanks!

Monday, October 20, 2014

All American Sun Oven Giveaway!

Win An All American Sun Oven in this Giveaway!

  The folks at the All American Sun Oven company have teamed up with a large group of bloggers and we are giving away a deluxe Sun Oven! The retail price of this set is $399! But that is only the start of the reasons why you should enter to try and win this oven.

  Sun Oven Giveaway

Using a sun oven can help you be more frugal by cutting your utility bills. Wouldn't it be great to have that bill lowered. Cooking in a sun oven is just as easy as using a conventional oven and really only takes a few minutes longer in the cooking cycle. Prepare your recipe using a little less liquid in casseroles, soups and stews. For baked goods use the same amounts of liquids as the recipe calls for. Find the optimal direction of the sun and get cooking. Of course, using a sun oven does require the sun to be available. However, it is possible to obtain good results even on a partly cloudy day. The All American Sun Oven is manufactured right here in the USA. The company stands behind their product. Globally, Sun Oven has worked to bring this off grid cooking solution to many undeveloped parts of the world, allowing people to eat healthier, cooked foods. I am happy to work with a company that has a giving mission. With all the benefits of lower utility bills, being prepared to cook without fuel or electricity, and supporting a wonderful company, who wouldn't want to own a Sun Oven! So lets get to the giveaway.

The Terms

(otherwise known as the small print)
The All American Sun Oven Giveaway is open to any resident who is 18 years of age or older who lives in one of the 48 US Contiguous States. This giveaway starts on Monday, Oct. 20th at 5:00 am (MDT) and ends on Sunday, Oct. 26th at 5:00 pm (MDT). The winner will be notified by email and will have 24 hours to respond. If we do not hear back from said winner in the designated time period of 24 hours we will choose another winner and they will have 24 hours to respond from the time the notification email is sent. Please check your SPAM email folders. Good luck to everyone! Let's be prepared for the unexpected!

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Homemade Nesting Boxes for Chickens

Excuse the mess. The chickens aren't very neat!  

One of the things about my homestead is that I don't have a lot of money to spend. Like none. I have become very good at taking whatever free items come along and putting them aside for future use. I may not know what I am going to be using them for, but at least I have the materials on hand.

Such is the case for these nesting boxes. I am not very good at construction and people around me know it. Rob actually came up with the idea because his neighbor had some big feed tubs that he used for gardening. I had just gotten some free tubs from a coworker about the same time. By using these tubs, I eliminated the need to have to build wooden boxes.

To give the chicken something to fly on to and hold the nesting materials in the tub, I used a 1" x 6" board that I cut half moons with using a jig saw. The board was leftover from the kennel project. I attached the boards to the tub using little screws I had on hand. I used three screws for each board on each tub.

I used a scrap 1" x 2" board I had cut into 1' lengths to use on the inside back of the nesting boxes to give the boxes more stability when I hung them up. I drilled three 2-1/2" screws into each piece of wood to hold them to the wall.

One thing to remember with using plastic tubs or almost any plastic is that you need to drill pilot holes first in order for the plastic not to crack. With these tubs, I didn't have a problem with plastic cracking. The plastic was so thick and tough that screws were not going through.

Excuse the milk jug on top. We use that for getting water for the chickens. It's all about reusing here!

I hung the nesting boxes two on each wall to keep the boxes at an even level and to keep the chickens from fighting. I filled them with sawdust which I fluff for them and keep them clean about once a week.

So far, so good. The ladies loved their new boxes and we have got eggs laid in the one box since I only have one chicken laying so far. Hopefully soon, all four boxes will be used!

Thanks for reading,
Erica

PS - Don't forget to enter in the Cox's Honey - Shelley Idaho Giveaway and the Saratoga Jack Thermal Cooker Giveway!!! Both are great items! The honey giveaway will end on October 18th and the thermal cooker giveaway will end on October 19th!

Homestead Blog Hop | The Easy Homestead (.com)

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