Monday, October 10, 2011

Frugal Tip of the Day - Hedge Apples / Osage Orange - PEST CONTROL!

Nothing says "ick" like spiders, roaches or mice in your house.. unless it's having to use toxic chemicals and traps to get rid of them. Even if you try chemicals, odds are good the spiders won't budge unless...

You do like I do and use Hedge Apples. This time of year we can find the fruit of the Osage Orange tree cluttering up sidewalks and bothering land owners. My boys like to "bowl" using them, and squirrels seem to like the seeds buried deep inside.

Not everything likes Hedge Apples though.. Spiders, for example, and even mice seem to hate them.

A friend of mine has a horse stable with a grain room where she keeps 20 or more sacks of grains at all times. Before discovering Hedge Apples, she always had mice.. ALWAYS, not to mention bugs in general. Nowadays, she throws several Hedge Apples under the grain room and puts a couple more on the beams inside every fall, and she won't see a single mouse all year round.

I haven't had quite that long of an effect, but for at least three months after putting them out, we don't see a spider or other bug (including ants), and the mice that always seem to invade my basement in the winter don't show their faces until the Hedge Apples are blackened and totally dry... even then, the spiders don't really come out in force til I eventually get sick of seeing the dry Hedge Balls and pitch them.

How I do it..
Take 2 Hedge Apples per room.. put one "out" and one in a closet. I set them on top of a wide disposable cup or bowl in case they get gooey (sometimes, although they usually just dry up). Forget about them and enjoy a non-toxic reduction of pests.

I like the way the fresh Hedge Apples look too. You can probably find them laying in a neighbors yard or in a park, but lacking that.. there are enterprising folks selling them on Amazon (see above/below). Your variety of pests might not be as impressed by Hedge Apples as mine are.. but it's worth a shot. I have used them for 10 years and am always amazed again at how immediate the results are, and how long it lasts.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Dollar Store Day Dreams

So, I'm browsing my Dollar Tree, on the phone with my friend who exceeds my frugalness and debt-free-edness by degrees only known to the Lord Himself. (She is shocked to discover I'm on the phone while shopping.. sheer disregard for the attention that must be paid to avoid impulse buys, of which I made a couple).

Anyway, I'm looking at scrub brushes ($1, of course, which is $3 less than I'd seen elsewhere for the same brushes), and trying to decide which handle style I like. Do I want the raised handle? The flat board handled one that looks more like a shoe brush than one for cleaning floors? Or maybe the long handled kitchen style brush?

And, I had my moment of clarity. At $1 a brush, I could buy all three kinds and use them and save 15 minutes of browsing, not all frugalness is about saving money, much frugalness should be about SAVING TIME!

This brings me to my point (finally!), which is that frugal and penny-pinching should be tools we use with a goal in mind... not an end or goal by themselves.

Everyone wants to live a free, happy, and satisfying life, for as long as we are blessed to enjoy it. However things like stress, debt and sickness, not to mention relationship problems can really "ding" away at our happiness. I've seen frugalness become a burden when it consumes someone's time and life energy to the point where they'd rather spend an hour choosing between one cheap brush or another, instead of buying a couple, going home getting the scrubbing over with and having that chore done so they can enjoy their evening with a free conscious.

Despite the possible waste of buying 3 brushes when I only needed 1, the job got done faster, and I got some time holding my babies that otherwise would have been wasted dithering over a frugal possibility.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sell that box of knick-knacks pay off debt!

Stop what you are doing, go grab a box and gather up 20 things you don't love that are laying around your house, take pics, put them on your computer and sell them on Easy. Just do it.

Take the cash and pay off debt.

Be safe though. Meet in public place, cash only, don't sell things like gold/jewelry/electronics/weapons.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Mad about Freecycle

See.. if I weren't already a Freecycle nut, and hadn't already signed up for the emails and gotten used to scanning them for goodies...

I would have missed a really cool epiphany.

Some background first. I have never been a cloth diaperer.. not since the moment where my mother said... you put it in the toilet and then swish it around (with your hand).. have we even considered using cloth diapers regularily. The most I've done is for an occasional rash to air them out.

I have a now three year old son who is NOT potty trained, but is very interested and will toddle off to the bathroom with his brothers on occasion and even be productive about it. With a new baby, I'm dealing with enough diapers, and have been feeling the urge to train Squeaker to use the potty, but have been waiting til I could afford some good training pants, since my new plan was to fool him into thinking they were underwear like his brothers (who.. don't wear pullups all day long, do they???).

Back to Freecycle. Someone posted some cloth diapers, and in a weird reflexive moment, I decided that I wanted them, dashed off an email asking for them, and promptly forgot about it. Imagine my surprise when I was offered them! I picked them up this evening and my head was full of thoughts like, 'You stupid hoarder.. why in the world did you ask for these? Somebody else is sure to put them to better use" "You know you'll never be a cloth diaperer, this is a waste of time!". etc.

Even after the very nice Freecycler explained how they work (how hard can it be??? You obviously haven't seen modern cloth diapers, they have more snaps that a roll of shipping bubbles, and do you even know what a Fuzzibunz is?), I was still thinking.. (IDIOT, give them back, don't bring more clutter in your house!!). And then.. in a frugal, penny pinching moment.. I had my epiphany.

Ready? Are you sure???

Cloth diapers equals training pants.

That's it, really. So, I came home, told Squeaker that tomorrow he gets to wear big boy pants and doesn't "have" to wear a pullup, and that was that.

Which all goes to prove something, but I'm not sure what. Oh.. maybe that Freecycle is cool, but having sharply honed frugal make-do-ed-ness is better.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Hidden in Plain sight, or Why I know God cares about the little things...

God has (literally!) led me into a wonderful homeschooling blessing.

This year is our first non-packaged year (we were 100% Abeka before, now My Father's world/Charlotte Mason/eclectic), and I've been so overwhelmed with the need for extensive reading lists (for them and me), having to try things (spend money...) before knowing if it's a good fit, and the whole thing has been exhausting. (including the fact that I'm doing it with a new baby, a toddler in the middle of being very two, etc.)

Here's my blessing...

A couple weeks ago, (the day after DH and I were trying to figure out a way to budget in more HS materials), I visited my Mom after the DC's lessons, and she lives right across the street from a church. She is caring for my grandfather who is in the last stage of Alzheimers, and he receives hospice RN visits. The male nurse came down and gave us a look.. I thought.. "oh no! he thinks we're playing hooky, I'd better explain we're HS'ers!". Turns out.. he is a HS dad AND a priest at the church across the street, AND the church has a private homeschool library that is open to the public for a membership fee of $15.00 a year.. books can be held for an entire year, I can check out as many as I want, no late fees etc.

I made an appt and went today.. came back with a huge box of books, including several expensive curriculum sets that I've been wanting to try.
They have enough top curriculum books and parenting/teaching helps, and reading list material, that I'll never need to buy another piece of curriculum unless I just want to own it for some reason. I also found 20+ excellent books that complement our current topics for my DD's extra reading. Everything from Saxon (all levels), Rod and Staff, Pathways, Abeka, Calvert, Charlotte Mason.... the list goes on and on. I really think I'll be able get all my HS books for the $15.00 membership fee next year.

I'm so excited.. so forgive me if I seem to be gloating.. I feel like doing a happy dance!

This library would have been impossible for me to find on my own. It's not on any of the e-lists I'm on, none of the groups have mentioned it.. and they asked me not to refer people to them.. because they are trying to phase it down to once a month open day... I was their last appt, and last "new" member. Talk about God making a way!

If I hadn't decided to drop by my Mom's for a visit, and hadn't mentioned that we were HS'ing to the nurse/priest (who was late, btw), ... so many things fell into place so that we could be blessed.

It's even more of a blessing.. because I've been so tired and discouraged lately with our HS.. they are learning, but I'm so tired I feel like I'm not making it as interesting/fun etc as I could. I really needed a boost, and now I feel like a kid in a candy shop. We're going to start on our riches tonight, as I'm getting ready to read from one of several Thornton W Burgess books I found.

Just had to do my happy dance somewhere, and I figured my frugal readers would understand why I'm so excited! :D

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Backyard Firepit for Free!

Last year, I really wanted a firepit for marshmallow roasts etc, but we just couldn't justify the money or time.
So.. a few months ago, I prayed and asked God to provide a way.

Last month, somebody freecycled a broken down concrete wall to me, and the bricks were EXACTLY the size and number to make the pit.

Husband has been overwhelmed with other more important projects, that I decided to tackle it myself. (after prayer, of course! )

First, I dug out a rectangle the right size and depth for one layer of bricks , then I just laid them out to make a box, then three more layers, and it was finished, the blocks fit together like they'd been hand picked for the project.. even the broken ones ended up fitting perfectly.. I also ended up with a little ledge to put a grill (rack saved from our old oven). I worked on it for 2 hours from first shovel full of dirt to finish.. then I scrounged around the yard and made two stools (logs on end), and a bench (board on bricks) and was done in time to fix dinner !

I'm always surprised, although I know I shouldn't be.. at just how much the Lord cares about me... even the small things I may want or need... He is willing and able to fulfill the very desires of my heart!

Now.. we're all set for my son's b-day party on Monday.
Our first marshmallow roast!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

U-pick Farms and Orchards

We had a homeschool "field" trip today. After violin lessons, we went to an apple orchard to meet with another homeschooling family. They were late, and while we waited, we picked raspberries.

This was my second time to pick raspberries there this year and the price was still fabulous. $ 1.50 a POUND! for RASPBERRIES! Wow!

My total bill for the outing (besides fuel to get there) was $ 46.00.

That bought

1/2 bushel mixed apples
6-7 cups of raspberries
4 perfect pie pumpkins
6 smallish gourds for the table centerpiece
1 gallon cider

3 super large red bell peppers (really heavy ones)
1 # green beans
1/2 dozen sweet corn (they were incredibly sweet too)

1 huge jar of honey
6 honey sticks (treats for the children)
2 Creme brulee scented votives (they smelt like caramel apples, I couldn't resist).

2 cider slushes
2 child's ciders

We spent six hours there and the children had a fabulous time (me too! :D ).

For affordable fun, great food bargains and a chance to make great memories.. I highly recommend a U-pick near you!