Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Tuesday Savings On The Homestead: 10 Frugal Ideas To Get Outside and Have Fun!

Every Tuesday I will be posting a Tuesday Savings on the Homestead. This posts will concentrate on one money saving thing you and I can do to save money for the week. Some will be easy, some will be be a bit difficult, and all will concentrate on one way to save money for the week. Please join me in trying to live a frugal life in 2015!


The weather is beautiful this week in Iowa! I feel like Spring is actually here and I want to play outside! 

Homesteading, no matter where you are and how you do it, is a lot of work. Homesteading is a lot of work especially in the Spring! However, Spring is a time to lighten up and soak in the sunlight we have been missing all Winter (or at least I have!). 

This week's challenge? Get outside and have some fun! Get yourself outside, drag your family and/or friends outside with you, and do something fun!

1. Go for a walk, a hike, or ride bikes.
2. Shoot some hoops or pretend to play basketball.
3. Play a game of kickball or softball.
4. Blow bubbles.
5. Draw on the sidewalks with chalk.
6. Practice target shooting with guns or bows and arrows.
7. Have an outdoor scavenger hunt.
8. Have an outdoor picnic/grill out/block party.
9. Have a bonfire or regular fire with all the sticks that fell this last Winter.
10. Play a game of tag or hide and seek. 

Getting fresh air and some exercise is great medicine for the body! After Winter, we all need regular doses of sunlight. We have more energy during the day and sleep better at night. 

Go outside and have fun!

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Monday, April 13, 2015

Nine Ways Food Is Money (And Better Than Money!)


From reading a lot of preparedness articles and listening to what other people have to say, I am continually amazed by how many people do not make food storage a priority. Whether you have food storage, the ability to grow and preserve food, the ability to hunt or forage for food, or any kind of resupply plan, you have something that is better than money.

In fact, I have been seeing an upswing in articles talking about holding on to your money in case of emergencies. Some times that is good advice especially when talking about home and car repairs, medical emergencies, and what not. I will never be against having an emergency fund. However, when talking about a disaster, crisis, or other situations, money may not do a person a whole lot of good.

Why? Here is nine reasons why:

1. Money does not keep you alive. Food does.

2. You can barter with food. Especially food you decided you don't like for food you do like.

3. If there is a time where money is worthless, food will never be worthless unless it is contaminated or severely expired.

4. You need food more than money to live when you have a disaster, crisis, or a situation.

5. Storing foods and seeds will give you peace in case of future events. Money is nice for retirement, but may not be there when you need it or it is stolen from you.

6. Having food storage and/or the ability to grow, hunt, raise, and/or forage for food will definitely up your survival chances in any situation. Having money, but no real way to spend it, will not help you to survive.

7. Food can be made into medicine or used for medicinal purposes. Money can buy medicine, but if medicine is not available, then what?

8. By-products from food packaging, gardening, foraging, and hunting can be used to make more food. You can use food packaging for storing more food or containers to raise food. Food waste can be used for compost to enrich soil to grow more food. Livestock waste can be used for enriching the soil also. Money does not do any of that.

9. Food helps keep the family happy and healthy. Food brings comfort when times are not so comfortable. Food brings people together and keeps the morale up when times are tough. Money can do these things, but it is a temporary and cold comfort. If money comes to mean nothing, money will lose that little bit of advantage too.

Which would you rather have: food or money?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Tuesday Savings on the Homestead: Lose The Emails That Help You Part From Your Money!

(Sunday Savings on the Homestead has been moved to Tuesday. I just am not on the computer much on the weekends so I am moving this! Thanks!)


In my 13 Ways to Save Money post, the first point I made was unsubscribing to emails and blogs that encourage you to part with your money. Those websites seem so innocent because they offer free items, point out great deals, help you with stacking coupons with deals, and steer you towards other sites that need your money. They seem so great and helpful. And heaven help me, I love them!

Temptation to spend money comes in many forms. I used to get emails with 50% off today, buy one get one free, free with purchase, and more. More times that not, I would fall for them. Then I would wonder why I was broke or struggling to make ends meet.

So I started to unsubscribe. Good-bye to the Old Navy, JC Penneys, and Kohls. Good-bye to the Retail Me Not daily and weekly update. Good-bye to any money spending to save emails. I unliked several pages on Facebook that were too tempting for my wallet.  I unsubscribed to all, but 3-4 that really saved me money or offered a lot of free items.

I did bookmark these sites on the computer, but I don't look at them unless I am looking for something specific or have some money to make future purchases (clothes, shoes, etc.). I also downloaded a few money saving/money making apps on my phone to help me save money, but I don't look at them unless I am uploading a receipt or in that store and looking for the deals.

Quite honestly, this has been one of my biggest money saving moves. No emails, no temptations. Like I said, I still get a few. However, if I don't want to shop or don't want the temptation, I delete them right away.

For those of you that say this is easy, it is. The decision on what to keep or what to get rid of is hard. Some companies and blogs don't want you to leave and will continue to send you "special" emails. Be strong and resist! Keep unsubscribing!

Thanks for reading!
Erica

Thursday, April 2, 2015

April 2015 Goals Update


March was a whirlwind. Between the illnesses and busyness, we did the best we could. We probably ate out too many times, but life is like that sometimes. A tax refund helped cover that cost! 

My Goals For 2015

1. Clean, de-clutter, paint, re-carpet, fix ceiling,  and organize Paige's room. This room is an unorganized disaster that needs some serious help. Plus she is at that age where she is growing out of everything: clothes, toys, books, etc.

We are still cleaning out, decluttering, and reorganizing. Amazingly, she is doing some of this on her own. I hope to really get this done in the next few weeks. I want to figure out if we can save the carpet or if we need to replace it. 

2. Clean, organize, paint, and re-carpet the office. This is where I work at home (most of the time). It doesn't work for me. It doesn't really work for anyone.

I am doing a little bit every night. I actually found some of my desk. The organizing of some things are coming together, like having passwords, addresses, and phone numbers in the same place and book. Amazing what that has done for me!

3. Purchase a hand gun and learn to use it well.

I will be doing this in April. I have one from a friend that I am considering purchasing. I would like to fire it first, but the size is perfect for what I am looking for. More hopefully next month!

4. To blog much more consistently and to learn to use social media to my advantage. To me consistently is at least 3-5 times a week. That doesn't happen right now.

Blogging was going great until I got sick. Then I had a 12 day dry spell. However, I kept up on social media. I post on Facebook 3-4 times a days, Google+ 1-2 times a day, Twitter 1-2 times a day, and Pinterest 1-5 times a day. This does take up a little time, but I love interacting with all of you!

5. To make a homemade gift for each birthday. I have lots of ideas that I am not using right now so this should be easy to do.

I am still working on Shali's gift. I ran into a glitch and hope to have it done soon.

6. Add 1-2 beehives to the homestead. I would love, love, love to produce our own honey.

This is still in the research stage. I would love to have beehives, but I am not sure we have the environment to support them. I may have to plant more bushes and flowers to give them more pollen. I am surrounded by corn and bean fields and I don't think that will help the bees either.

7. Lose 20 pounds over the year. Unbelievably, I love 20 pounds last year and would love to lose 20 more this year.

I am maintaining which is better than gaining. I am focusing on moving more and eating better. 

8. Finish six unfinished projects. I will introduce you all to my needlework pile in the future. You might not be laughing after you see it.

I am still at the needlework projects. I love the time I spend doing it because I relax for a while. I find it a great way to unwind at night.

9. Live as frugally as possible by making more my own things and using what I have first before buying more. This really needs to happen this year and working up a realistic budget will be the first step.

I paid off a lot of bills with the tax refund. I was making payments on a few bills and they are gone. I also took advantage of a meat sale at Fareway and now have a fuller freezer. I also used some of the money to restock the pantry. I love having a full pantry!

10. Write a book or an e-book. Because I have always wanted to.

11. Go to a self-reliance/preparedness expo and/or Mother Earth News Fair. I have never been to one and always say I want to go one and never do. This year is the year for this!

12. Get a new-to-me double recliner and love seat for the living room. The ones I have have been blessing my home for at least 16-19 years and they blessed some one else's home before that. The kids have made sure they are worn out and broken down. I have fixed over and over again. Enough. Time for new to me stuff!

I am looking for a good deal. I don't want new furniture and I don't want to pay new prices. I am being patient. I did score a full/queen size metal bed frame to replace the one in Shali's old room for $30. Yeah!

That is March in a nutshell. Here's to April!

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Why You Should Grow And Preserve Rhubarb!


Rhubarb is an excellent addition to any garden! Being that rhubarb is a perennial, you can get a crop every year and fill your refrigerator/freezer with its deliciousness.

I was blessed to grow up with a mother that loved rhubarb and canned it into jams. I was doubly blessed to move on to a farm that has it growing abundantly.

Why Should You Grow Rhubarb?

1. Rhubarb is very easy to grow. Get some plants from a garden center or find a neighbor/friend willing to thin out their patch. Plant your rhubarb in a sunny location and fertilize with some well-rotted manure. Do not pick the first year, only pick the thick stalks the second year, and pick all you want the third year!

2. Rhubarb is easy to maintain. Rhubarb just needs a sunny location and adequate moisture. You do not have to dig it up in the fall because it likes to have its roots frozen in the winter. Give the rhubarb some well-rotted manure in the spring or fall to help fertilize it, but this is not necessary every year.

3. Rhubarb gives hope that Spring and Summer are here to stay. Rhubarb is one of the first vegetables ready to eat in the Spring in Iowa. I love having fresh vegetables coming from my garden early and often.

You should not eat rhubarb leaves, The leaves contain a poison that will make you very sick. I have been hearing of varities that have edible leaves, but most common rhubarb plant leaves are not edible. Just eat the stalks!

Rhubarb used to be planted in every yard. You can find it in abandoned properties as well as your neighbor's yard. Most people who grow it have more than they need and are very willing to share it. If you are not able to grow it, just ask around!

Rhubarb is very easy to harvest! You can either cut the stalks close to the ground or just twist the stalk and pull (preferred method). Cut the leaves off and add to your compost pile. Rinse the rhubarb off to get any dirt and grass clippings off.

How Do You Eat And Preserve Rhubarb?

1. Some people like it raw, like my son. Too much raw rhubarb can result in upset stomachs though. I remember as a kid that we would pick it and dip the end in sugar, take a bite, and repeat. Again, too much is not a good thing.

2. Rhubarb can and should be made into pies, crisps, cobblers, cakes, fritters, tarts, and whatever dessert/breakfast goodie you can think of. Rhubarb is versitile like that. I have also had it made into compotes, sauces, and chutneys. Again, deliciousness!

3. Rhubarb can and should be canned in the form of jams, jellies, chutneys, and sauces. Rhubarb is very simple to can and is very forgiving. Rhubarb is a great item for a first time canner to try! Rhubarb Jam is the first jam I learned how to make!

4. Rhubarb can be frozen. Pick your rhubarb, rinse it off, and chop into 1/2-1 inch pieces. I use my Food Saver, load the bags with 2-3 cups of rhubarb, and vacuum/seal. You can also flash freeze by laying the rhubarb in a single layer on cookie sheets, freeze, and then put into bags and store in the freezer. Either way works. I just don't recommend putting them in bags and freezing. I usually end up with freezer burnt rhubarb.

Rhubarb is so easy as you can see! Rhubarb makes a great addition to your garden in ease of growing and producing food for yourself and your family. I hope you add this great vegetable to your homestead today!

Thanks for reading!
Erica

This article is part of the:

30 Ways of Homesteading

The Prepared Bloggers Network is at it again! We're glad you've found us, because the month of April is all about homesteading.

Homesteading is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. It is characterized by growing your own food, home preservation of foodstuffs, and it may even involve the small scale production of textiles, clothing, and craftwork for household use or sale. Most importantly homesteading is not defined by where someone lives, such as the city or the country, but by the lifestyle choices they make.

The Prepared Bloggers are passionate about what they do and they each have their own way of achieving self-sufficiency. Grab your favorite drink and enjoy reading about the 30 Ways of Homesteading!

Crops on the Homestead

Straw Bale Gardening from PreparednessMama
Benefits of Growing Fruit from SchneiderPeeps
Crops to Grow for Food Storage from Grow A Good Life
Winter Gardening Series from Our Stoney Acres
How To Build a Raised Garden Bed For Under $12 from Frugal Mama and The Sprout
How to Save Carrot Seeds from Food Storage and Survival

Animals on the Homestead

Getting Your Bees Started from Game and Garden
Homesteading How-To: Bees from Tennessee Homestead
How to Get Ready for Chicks from The Homesteading Hippy
Selecting a Goat Breed for Your Homestead from Chickens Are a Gateway Animal
Adding New Poultry and Livestock from Timber Creek Farm
How to Prepare for Baby Goats from Homestead Lady
Tips to Raising Livestock from Melissa K. Norris

Making the Homestead Work for You - Infrastructure

DIY Rainwater Catchment System from Survival Prepper Joe
Finding Our Homestead Land from Simply Living Simply
I Wish I Was A Real Homesteader by Little Blog on the Homestead
Endless Fencing Projects from Pasture Deficit Disorder
Homesteading Legal Issues from The 7 P's Blog

Preserving and Using the Bounty from the Homestead

How to Make Soap from Blue Yonder Urban Farms
How to Render Pig Fat from Mama Kautz
How to Make Your Own Stew Starter from Homestead Dreamer
Why You Should Grow and Preserve Rhubarb! from Living Life in Rural Iowa

30 Ways of Homesteading

Check out all these great articles with great tips for your homestead, large and small! 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

"We Just Did"


My Grandma Rene is 94 years old. She has lived through The Depression, World War II, six sons (no daughters), lost two husbands, and still is going strong. She is starting to show some effects of her age, but she still lives by herself, plays cards, and sometimes dances.

We have been probing her for more stories of her growing up and she tells what she remembers. She will tell you that was so long ago that she has forgot some things. I am 38 and I have forgot some things too!

When we have asked her how they got through the tough times, one of the phrases that sticks out in my mind the most is "We just did".

What does that phrase mean? It means that things had to be done and you had to do them. Farm chores had to be done because that was food, income, and nobody else was going to do them. She worked as a hired girl in high school and afterwards because she needed a place to live while going to school in town and the extra money was needed. They used flour sacks to make clothes. They canned their food. They did without because the money needed to be spent on necessities.

The Depression was a little easier for them to bear because they had a farm in Iowa, but her father died when she was 17. That meant she had to start working while still in school. She did graduate high school in 1938. She also did what she could to help out at home.

"We just did" meant that they did what they had to survive and thrive. If they had to earn more money, they did. If they had to do more chores, they did. When she married my grandfather during WWII, she followed him around from base to base. She helped other base families move and take care of their children. The need was there and they just did. Everyone helped everyone else.

That same theme continued throughout her life and that has made a huge impact on me. She overcame some difficult circumstances that many people could not handle. When we ask her how she did it, she will credit family, neighbors, friends, and that attitude. "We just did" because she had other things that she had to focus on and other people who needed her attention. She didn't dwell on how bad things were because she had other things to think about. Life still went on and had to be lived.

We need that same attitude. 

Too many of us find it too easy to play victim, be lazy, feel entitled, and expect everyone else to take care of things for us. We don't have the determination, will power, and duty to just get done what needs to be done. I am guilty of this too. I could get a whole lot more done in a day than what I do, but I don't because of various excuses.

We also need to pass this onto the next generations. Too many kids think that life will be handed to them on a silver-lined platter and they will never have to really work for it. Too many parents forget to teach kids to work and forget to raise them to be responsible adults. Some kids will never understand the phrase "We just did" until too late when life throws them a crippling curve ball.

We can learn a lot from our older generations in terms of not just skills, but in terms of attitudes.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Monday, March 16, 2015

Corned Beef Casserole: A Food Storage Friendly Meal!


Corned Beef Casserole is another childhood favorite of mine growing up. I make it now and then when I want comfort food. This is my mom's recipe and I have no clue where she got it from.

I also make it for St. Patrick's Day since the traditional foods of St. Patrick's Day do not thrill my kids at all.

Everything in this recipe is food storage friendly and can be stored for at least 1-2 years. I know I appreciate having ingredients for meals just in case going to the grocery store is not an option. This is also a very forgiving recipe!

For the ingredients, this recipe uses canned corned beef. You can find that in a square/rectangle tin in the canned meats section of your grocery store. Canned corned beef used to be very cheap to buy, but has risen quite a bit in cost. If you can find it for $3-4 a tin, you have got a deal and should buy up!

If you do not want to use canned cream of mushroom soup, feel free to use homemade. Homemade works great and tastes fine in this recipe.

Corned Beef Casserole


2 cups elbow macaroni
1 - 10.75 oz. can cream of mushroom soup
1 can of corned beef
salt and pepper to taste
onion power or dried minced onion to taste

1. Boil elbow macaroni in salted boiling water until tender. Drain, but do not rinse.

2. Grease a 9 x 9 inch pan. Mix soup, corned beef, salt, pepper, and onion together in the prepared pan.

3. Add cooked macaroni and mix well.


4. Cook in a 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes. 30 minutes if you want soft or 45 minutes if you want the crunchy on top and edges.


Serves 4-6 people. Serve with peas or roasted cabbage.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

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