Friday, November 28, 2014

Yes, Your Kids Do See What You Do!

This week's weather in northern Iowa has been less than ideal. We never really appreciate a day before Thanksgiving snowstorm. Those have a tendency to make travel a bit difficult.

School was cancelled on Wednesday due to several inches of snow being on the ground already and more coming down. The kids were to go down to their dad's house to have Thanksgiving with him on Wednesday. We already had the day planned, had moved Dane's doctor appointment earlier in the day so they could leave earlier, and Shali had some food made and ready to go.

My kids do not let weather stop them unless it is really bad. I think they get that from their mother. Shali is 19 and Jordan is 18. While they are young drivers yet, they are very experienced in winter weather driving. They both have been through some difficult driving conditions and made it home in one piece.

They decided to leave a bit later than planned and their dad knew they were coming. They as well as him and I kept a close eye on the weather and road conditions.

Here is where I know my kids have been watching what I do and did accordingly.

Jordan made sure everyone had a set of clothes packed in case they needed to spend the night (which they did). She also grabbed water, food, and a gallon of Sunny Delight (why that I don't know, but it is liquids!). She made sure boots and snow gear was packed for everyone. She also made sure everyone grabbed a blanket in case of an accident or car troubles. The two drivers always have a blanket in the car. but more is always welcome.

I do all these same things when I plan to go anywhere farther than 30 miles from home. Most of the time, these things are already in my car except fluids. We have been very cold lately and those things freeze so I grab them when I leave the house.

The drive was not bad due to them sticking to main roads even though that added miles to the trip. They made the drive in daylight. They stayed in touch with both of us parents to make sure they were safe. I texted Paige who was the non-driver in the car to make they were fine. Which they were.

They ended up spending the night to spend more time with their dad as well as the temperatures and wind chill dropping below zero. They filled up with gas before they left their dad's house next morning to get to the next Thanksgiving which was at my parents.

They did all the same things I would have done. I know many parents may not have let their kids go at all, but I think sometimes we let our fear rule our decisions.

And it was just snow.

Thanks for reading!

Black Friday Berkey Light Giveaway

Black Friday Berkey Light Giveaway-Nov.28th-Dec.5th, 2014 by 

Berkey Light Water Purifier Giveaway We are excited to share this Berkey Light Water Purifier Giveaway that sponsored by our friends at LPC Survival. The Berkey Light Water Purifier is an deal water filtration system for everyday use at home, travel, outdoors or during emergencies. Includes one set of Black Berkey Elements. Includes:
  • 2 Black Berkey Elements
  • Serves 1 – 5 People
  • Holds aprox 2.75 Gallons
The Berkey Light is easy to set up and install. It measures: Height x Diameter (inches) 26.5 x 9.25 (base included); The system can also be used without the base and stands 21″; Empty Weight 5(lbs); Holding capacity: Aprox. 2.75 Gallon Configured with two Black Berkey® purification elements the system can purify over 4 Gallons per hour. The containers consist of shatter-resistant, non BPA, copolyester material. If you have always wanted to own one, now's your chance! Submit your entries below. This Berkey Light System is a sponsored giveaway and 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, Nov. 28th at 5:00 am (MST) and ends on Friday, Dec.5th, 2014 at 5:00 pm (MST). 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

Thursday, November 20, 2014

2014 Gardening Update - What Worked, What Didn't Work, and What Needs to Change or Be Done

A picture from last year. For some reason, I didn't take any this year!

This year's garden gave me a lot of hope that I could actually grow produce and plants could thrive! That being said, there is a lot that needs to be done to the garden and I have already started some of that.

I grew onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, carrots, green beans, beets, peas, cucumbers, acorn squash, lettuce, spinach, yellow squash, zucchini, and potatoes. I also have rhubarb, strawberries, and raspberries already established. I started blueberries this year and they survived the summer (Yeah!).

The bell peppers did not grow well due to wet and cool summer conditions. The carrots didn't do a dang thing. I had a 10-12 carrots grow, but weren't near the size they should have been. The onions actually grew which is a first for me. They were small, but totally edible. Beets and spinach did not grow at all. The tomatoes could have done better, but I was happy just to get a few. I haven't had any luck until this year having tomatoes produce so yeah for me!

Everything else did very, very well. I was very pleased. One of the methods I tried this year was companion gardening and I highly recommend it. I had a lot of success with vegetables that I never had before. I also understood why my gardens in the past have not done well.

Cutting down the tree on the edge of the garden made a huge difference. My rhubarb was suffering the most and have now bounced back beautifully. It also gave half of my garden some beneficial sunlight in an area that is somewhat limited.

I am so done with using 5 gallon buckets to help expand my garden. Done. I think the buckets get too warm. Plants will grow, but not produce or produce well. I don't know what I will use them for now. I might bring them up by the house and see if I can grow food for the chickens in cooler, shadier areas. We shall see.

This year, it was very apparent that my garden is lacking nutrients. I am already remedying this by adding the bedding and manure from the chicken coop to the garden. I will continue to do this until January/February so the manure has time to mellow. In the Spring, we will till it in.

I am still trying to come up with the best weed management system. I read that straw is great, then I read it isn't. I have used wood mulch in the past without a lot of good coming from that. My tomatoes certainly did not like wood mulch. I would like to use weed blocking fabric, but I need something to hold it down.

I will need to have a fence around the garden next year. At least a temporary fence until everything gets established and not mowed over by the chickens. I have plenty of time to research what I want for that.

I want more perennial vegetables. I am definitely looking into walking onions and groundnuts for next year. I would like to try asparagus again. The crowns rotted in the ground this year due to wet weather.

I definitely plan to plant all the same vegetables that I did last year. I might skip the lettuce, but the spinach is definitely still on the list. I would also like to plant pumpkins and possibly watermelon. I will concentrate more of storage and canning vegetables than eat right now vegetables. I would like to can more of what we produce.

I would also like to plant some fruit trees next year. We had an apple tree split in threes this fall so I want to replace that one and plant two more trees. I would also like to try two pear trees.

Winter will provide me plenty of time to read up and get some more ideas! In my stash to read is:
Abundantly Wild: Collecting and Cooking Wild Edibles in the Upper Midwest
How to Grow More Vegetables
Homegrown and Handmade 
The New Self-Sufficient Gardener

I can't wait!

Thanks for reading!

Simple Saturdays Blog Hop

Monday, November 17, 2014

Food Brick and Water Brick Giveaway!


Food Brick and Water Brick Giveaway! has graciously agreed to sponsor a pre-Thanksgiving Giveaway to one of our loyal readers so they can get their food and water storage off the ground! Today you get the opportunity to win FOUR water bricks and FOUR food bricks! The Water Bricks can hold up to 3.5 Gallons of water, and are sturdy enough to stack up to 4 feet tall. They are small enough to slide under a bed, and light enough (even when full) to be easily carried with their handy handle. The Food Bricks are the same size as the water brick, but they are specifically designed to pack, stack, and store food. They interlock and stack perfectly with the waterbricks. Both bricks are made of heavy, durable, BPA-free food grade plastic. Food and Water Bricks are perfect for preparedness, disaster relief, or any outdoor activity like boating, rafting, camping, tailgating, and more, and you can enter to win your very own set of EIGHT food and water bricks (4 of each) today!

Meet the Bloggers Involved

Terms and Conditions

This Food Brick and Water Brick Giveaway is sponsored by, and 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, Nov. 17th at 6:00 am (CST) and ends on Sunday, Nov. 23th, 2014 at 6:00 pm (CST). 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!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, November 10, 2014

Foodsaver FM2000 Giveaway!

FoodSaver Tips And Giveaway-Nov.10th-16th, 2014 by

We have some FoodSaver tips and giveaway today! Have you been wanting a FoodSaver® Vacuum Sealer? Well, today is a sponsored post by FoodSaver® and we are so grateful to be able to share this giveaway with our readers! You can use FoodSaver bags, FoodSaver containers and mason jars to preserve your food for the pantry or freezer. This FoodSaver® Vacuum Sealer FM2000 comes complete with the following:
Included In Offer:
3 - Quart Bags
2 - Gallon Bags
1 - 11'' x 10' Roll
1 - Accessory Hose
We quote from the FoodSaver website "The FoodSaver® FM2000 Vacuum Sealing System keeps food fresh up to 5x longer and saves up to $2700 per year based on buying in bulk, on sale and preventing waste. Form and function combine with a sleek, compact design and easy-to-use manual operation to preserve a variety of foods."


Use mason jars to make your breakfast meals, salads for a week, buy food in bulk and put in smaller FoodSaver bags or mason jars to store and save $$$$! Please share how you would use this awesome giveaway if your name is chosen as the winner.

Terms & Conditions:

This FoodSaver® Vacuum Sealer FM2000 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, Nov. 10th at 5:00 am (MST) and ends on Sunday, Nov. 16th, 2014 at 5:00 pm (MST). 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

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Budget is Getting Tighter! 15 Ways We Are Making Lincoln Scream and You Can Too!

The budget is getting tighter and going to get a whole lot tighter. I have read a lot of articles lately and talked to a lot of people about money and budgets. Sacrifices are already being made. I sometimes feel like I am getting a bit extreme in my savings and learning to live without some of the life comforts. I don't necessarily like that feeling. However, I have a feeling that the budget is going to get even tighter.

What can you do about it now? This is what we are doing now:

1. We are so geared towards stocking up and getting prepared that it is hard to let go of that mentality. Sometimes though you will need to scale back or stop. If money gets tight, you will need to use that food storage. That is a good thing! This is why you have it! You need your food storage to get you through those tough months. Start by using up the older food. Look for opportunities like clearance fruits and vegetables that you can for later use. Grow some of your own food indoors.

2. I am so glad I started canning, raising a garden, foraging, raising chickens, and doing things to be more self-sufficient. Knowing that I have the skills and can provide for my family helps me feel better about my budget. Knowing that I can always do more helps keep me motivated.

3. I am not afraid to cut costs and slash expenditures. Yes, we have a few "luxuries" right now, but I am not afraid to shut them off or go without them if I need to. I have in the past and do so again. Having the satellite to watch television is a luxury. Having a cell phone with data is a luxury. Having all the stuff we have in the house is a luxury. These things are nice to have, but it is nicer to have heat and eat.

4. Sell off the things you don't need. I have a lot of things I don't need. I keep an eBay store open for that reason. In addition to selling books and magazines, I sell things around the house when we have no use for them anymore. I also list things on Craigslist, Facebook, and by word of mouth. I may only make $5.00 off of an item, but that money could buy a 1/2 gallon of milk, a box of spaghetti, and a jar of sauce.

5. Sometimes I have had to see how much Lincoln will scream. And he can scream a lot if he has to. By buying quality things and using it until it falls apart again from being mended so much, we have made him scream. By getting the best deal possible and waiting for the best sale, we have made him scream more. By shopping thrift shops first and saving money that way, he screams even more.

6. I have learned how to make do, make it myself, or do without. There is quite a bit I can live without. Some things I don't want to live without, but I have learned it is possible. I do miss my clothes dryer a bit, but I have to have the money to fix it first.

7. Look for money making opportunities. I use my store loyalty cards to help save money on gas, make money off buying certain items (I don't buy anything we don't use), and get discounts on merchandise I regularly use. I also use some apps to help me save and make money from some of my purchases. They may take a little time and trouble, but the payoff could help your bottom line.

8. Get a "Do What You Can Do" attitude. What can you do today to make or save money? What can you do today to help tomorrow? Don't dwell on what is going bad and what has failed. Keep a positive attitude that life will get better and you can do things now to make it better.

9. Be ready to work more. If overtime is available, take it. If someone offers you extra work, take it. If someone asks you if you would be interested in babysitting, baling hay, cutting trees, etc., take it. The extra money helps with the extra expenses.

10. Learn to barter goods and services. No money needs to be exchanged and both parties benefit.

11. Take advantage of websites like Ebates and Swagbucks to earn money and points back on purchases. I usually turn this into Amazon credit to buy things we need for home and for gifts. Both are great programs.

12. Don't make immediate purchasing decisions. I take a few days to think about if I need to buy something or not. Oftentimes, I do not go back and buy. I find I just don't need as much as I thought I did.

13. Shop with a list. I use a list when I go to the store and when I shop online. It keeps me on track and accountable. I even write what item I want to add to my preps and include that in my budget.

14. Stop eating out. Stop buying processed foods. Start cooking your own food every night. Take a lunch to work. Start making your own food instead of buying the processed food at the store.

15. Have a budget and stick to it. Write down your expenses and income. When you write it down on paper, your money becomes very real. Check your bank account very regularly. I had some expenses increase that were paid automatically and I did not receive notice about those increases. I was surprised and we are still recovering from one of the increases. Not good. Be diligent about your budget and spending.

Some of these are really simple and some require sacrifice. What everyone needs may be different than you and yours need. What is your family doing in these tough times?

Thanks for reading!

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,

The Self Sufficient HomeAcre