Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Slow Cooker Applesauce - Eating, Canning, and Freezing Instructions

Slow Cooker Applesauce is probably one of the easiest recipes I have in my arsenal to make. I love that I can sweetened it to taste, spice it if I want to, and make enough to can.

Slow Cooker Applesauce also has the benefit of saving me money by using the slow cooker and not the stove. I also like this recipe because there is no babysitting the stove! I have better things to do with my time than babysit the stove.

Per pint, Slow Cooker Applesauce is also cheaper than purchasing it in the store. I know what is in my applesauce versus the store bought applesauce which can have high fructose corn syrup and other preservatives that are not necessary!

During the fall, apples are cheap! If you don't have a tree or two to pick from, you can pick up 10-20 pounds pretty cheaply at the store. I know our local stores were advertising $.69 a pound for apples during this last fall. When you do the price break down, you can make your own cheaper than the store. During the rest of the year, I can find apples for $.89 - $.99 per pound which isn't a bad price. I refuse to pay more than that anyway. I can usually pick up bags of apples on clearance for $.99 a bag. What Dane doesn't eat gets made into this applesauce.

The apples will turn brown as the slow cooker cooks them down. I am okay with this. Some people might not be okay with this and they can choose to add Fruit Fresh or lemon juice.

Also, I am using a 6 quart slow cooker. If you are using a smaller one, adjust the recipe to fit your slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Applesauce

20-30 apples, peeled, chopped or sliced with cores removed
sweetener of choice, to taste
spices, to taste (I use cinnamon and sometimes nutmeg)

1. Place the apples in the slow cooker. I run my apples through an apple peeler/corer/slicer and throw the apples in the slow cooker as I go. When the slow cooker is full, I put the lid on so 20-30 apples is an estimate.

2. Set the slow cooker on low and walk away. Occasionally check the slow cooker and stir if you would like. It does help to break up the apples.

3. After 6-10 hours, if your apples are broken down and basically mush, you can do a few different things. I like to use the potato masher to get the apples to the chunky applesauce consistency. Then I sweeten them and spice them. If you like a smoother consistency, you can use an immersion blender, food mill, or a food processor and puree them smooth. Then you can sweeten and spice them.

4. Serve as part of a meal or make it the meal. Who am I to judge? Otherwise, move to the canning portion of this recipe. You can also freeze this applesauce.

To Can Applesauce:
1. Fill water canner and bring water to boiling.
2. Clean jars and rings with hot soapy water and dry. Keep jars and lids hot, either using the water canner or the warm setting in your oven.
3. Fill jars with hot applesauce leaving a 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and wipe the rim of the jars off with a wet washcloth.
4. Place lids and rings on jars. Tighten them to finger tight.
5. Process pints in the boiling water canner for 20 minutes. If using quart jars, process for 30 minutes.
6. Take out of canner and let cool. You should hear a pinging sound as the lids cool and seal. Let cool for 24 hours and put away. I generally get 4-6 pints of applesauce canned, depending on how much we eat first.

To Freeze Applesauce:
1. If using containers or jars, clean them in hot soapy water along with the lids. If using bags or a Food Saver, get them out and ready to go.
2. Fill containers/jars with hot applesauce, filling only 3/4 of the container/jar. You need to allow room for the applesauce to expand as it freezes. Otherwise, you will have a big mess. If filling bags, the same philosophy. Fill only 3/4 full, squeeze as much air out as you can, and seal.
3. No matter what you are using, place them in the refrigerator for 24 hours to cool. If you don't moisture from the hot to the freezer may cause freezer burn, breaking of containers or bags, and a mess in your freezer.
4. Place into the freezer after the 24 hours cool down in the fridge.

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Monday, January 27, 2014

Monday Frugal Update

 This week has been quieter and I have been lazier. The kids have not had a lot of school or been to school on time so, for some reason, that messes me up. All I have wanted to do is cozy up in my recliner, write, and plan. Paige had a couple of basketball games last week so that contributed to getting not a whole lot done. I have higher hopes for this week.

I made two loaves of bread in the bread maker and a pan of granola bars. I also made a bunch of MYO Oatmeal packets using oat flour that I had on hand instead of powdering oats in the food processor. We ate dinner at home every night except one when we were taken out for pizza!

Grocery shopping was heavier than usual this week due to some really good stock-up sales. I will be going back today for 10 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts for 1.68 a pound and two cases of water for 1.99 each.

I have a clothing allowance at work that I needed to get used up by the end of this week. So I placed an order on Old Navy's site using Ebates and a discount code. I also bought a lot of sale on their site so my savings were significant, but I haven't had time to figure it out yet. I am guessing the savings to be about $40 for spending $67 plus I will get reimbursed by my company for what I spent. I have a little more to spend yet and have my eye on a few things on Ebay to use up the difference.

I have been pouring over seed catalogs and trying to plan my garden. I am hoping that without high school softball this summer, I might be able to play in my garden more. We would like to get to the point of growing most, if not all, our own food. I know I want to put in 4-6 blueberry shrubs and an asparagus patch in addition to the rest of the garden. We are also thinking we are going to move the raspberries out of the garden into their own bed. We are looking at methods to make the gardening easier. Rob has been trying to convince me to put plastic or material down between rows with mulch over top of it. We are also looking for a rear-tined tiller to make the garden easier to manage and to make the soil fluffy.

I have also been putting together a list for shopping garage sales this summer. Dane has a good size list of needs for the next few years. I also have things I am looking for the house and homestead that would make life a bit easier.

Can you tell I am sick of winter already? I am ready to be outside, but I have an aversion to cold!

I made some changes on the blog. Since I couldn't keep up with the weekend links and some weekends are really busy, I decided to instead post some links on my Facebook page every day for everyone to check out! If you haven't liked my Facebook page yet, please do! I am also working on a pattern for the days, but so far I only have Monday and Tuesday worked out. That might be all the further I get because the rest of the week I would like to dedicate to articles on preparedness and frugal living. Since we will be taking a bigger dip into the homesteading pool this spring, I will be posting more about that too.

Crossing my fingers that I will be getting 5-6 laying chicks!!! Right now I am trying to figure out where I am putting them. Jordan is not crazy about the whole free ranging chicken thing since she thinks they will attack her. I doubt it, but eh.

That is about it for this week! A light week, but oh well!

Thanks for reading!
Erica

Saturday, January 25, 2014

When A Winter Storm Approaches

(One of the things I will be doing in the next few weeks is sharing our family preparedness and emergency plans with you. One of my goals for last year and this year is to get this done, typed, and put into a binder for everyone to see and use.)


When a winter storm approaches and looks like it will be a bad one, I use this list as a plan of action. In Iowa the weather can get nasty fairly quickly. With the great technology we have, I can implement my plan quickly because I know when the winter storms are approaching. I do use this list with the mindset that the worst is going to happen to us: losing power, not being able to use outside cooking sources due to wind, and that this could be several days or just a few hours.

Since my water is from a well, the well pump is electrically powered. My list is directed towards if we lose power, we lose water. I always make sure I have plenty of water on hand. I also do everything that may take water a priority on my list. I do not want to melt snow or boil water to do dishes if I do not have to nor do I want to have laundry piled up to the ceiling.

This list will not be the same for everyone. If you have livestock, your list will be different. If you have small children, your list will be different. Everyone has different circumstances and needs. My list is also based on the fact that we have multiple hands and a lot of the things on the list can be done simultaneously.

Winter Storm Family Preparedness Plan

When leaving work and/or school:
1. Fill cars with gas
2. Get some cash from ATM
3. Buy any necessities we might be low on (milk, water, fruit, vegetables, personal and paper items)
4. Buy cat or fish food if needed

At home:
1. Gather all laundry and start the washing machine
2. Wash all dishes
3. Fill buckets with water
4. Everyone takes a shower at some point during the day
5. Park all vehicles inside and shut garage doors
6. Bring snow shovel inside house
7. Make certain tractor is plugged in and gassed up
8. Barn doors need to be closed tightly including the dog house
9. Outdoors cats get fed and watered
10. Make sure heated water dish is plugged in and working in the barn
11. Change indoor cats litter box
12. Plug in and charge compact jump start for vehicles as well as extra charging source
13. Plug in all cell phones and computers to charge
14. Shut any other doors outside that need to be shut
15. Start bread in bread maker
16. Do any cleaning in house that requires water or power
17. Top off fish aquarium with water
18. Make food that can be eaten without power: granola, granola bars, etc.
19. Take care of any online needs like paying bills or responding to correspondence
20. Have kids do homework especially if it needs to be done on the computer
21. Have coolers ready to go outside to hold any perishables if the fridge or freezer loses power for over four hours
22. Take a walk outside to make sure everything is put away and/or in its place.

Like I said, this is worse case scenario thinking. I would rather be safe than sorry if something were to happen over multiple days especially with no power or water.

Thanks for reading!
Erica

Homestead Barn Hop

Friday, January 24, 2014

Christmas 2013 Gifts

Christmas 2013 (left to right) Shali, Paige, Dane, and Jordan

Today I thought I would share with you what I did for Christmas for the kids. I try really hard to follow the four present rule: one gift to wear, one gift of need, one gift of want, and one gift to read. I also give a stuffed full stocking.

The following is a list of what the kids got and how well or not so well I followed the four present rule:

Shali: A new winter coat (need)
         2 pairs of pajama pants (wear)
         cosmetic travel bag (want)
         Barnes and Noble $25 gift card (read)

Jordan: A new robe (wear)
            hair straightener (need in her mind)
            cosmetic travel bag (want)
            Amazon Kindle $25 gift card (read)

Paige: 2 pairs of pajama pants (wear)
          large utility tote (need)
          handmade snow globe (made by me!) (want)
          3 new books (read)

Dane: A new shirt and pants (wear)
          Mindcraft Lego set (want)
          Star Wars snap together model kit (want)
          3 new books (read)

Dane was much, much more difficult to shop for this year in the way of presents and stocking. I had no idea what to get him! He gave me a complete list of his wants this year, but he rarely has any needs because he is the last child, is low maintenance, and receives many hand-me-downs. He got two wants, but I purposely picked these out because they require no technology and are quite challenging. He needs that.

I also really try to get books for each kid, but the older two girls did not know what books they wanted. I am sure by now their gift cards for books are gone!

I do not have a set limit for what I will spend for Christmas. I just do not want to go overboard because I think that sends the wrong message. I try to keep it under $100 for each kid and shop all the sales and specials I can. I spent about $75 - $90 on each child not including stockings. Next year I will try to keep track of what I spent on each stocking, but I am estimating it to be about $20 with the older girls being a little more. I buy them a lot of little stuff they may need like hair brushes and whatnot.

A very good Christmas was had by all and they loved their gifts!

Thanks for reading!
Erica

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Frozen Berry Sauce

Last Saturday morning we decided to have breakfast for lunch. The kids wanted pancakes and Rob wanted French toast. Everyone wanted bacon. I had made a loaf of Golden Egg Bread in the bread maker which is absolutely delightful as French toast. I had some frozen bananas which I turned into Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes. I had some homemade Pancake Syrup already made up.

Rob really wanted some kind of berry syrup/sauce for the French toast. I couldn't find any at our local convenience store (I didn't expect they would have it). So I was determined to make something for him. I had some frozen strawberries, but no blueberries. However, I got started.

I started with a bag of  frozen whole unsweetened strawberries in a saucepan with two tablespoons of sugar. I let them thaw and soften over medium heat. In the meantime, I was still looking for frozen blueberries because I could have swore I had some! I didn't find any, but I found some blueberry freezer jam that I had not liked by itself and I couldn't just throw it out either.

In the saucepan, I was stirring the strawberries and they were starting to soften so I smashed them down some more. They were starting to form a sauce. I decided to add some honey because I like honey. I let it cook some more and then added a few good-sized spoonfuls of blueberry jam. The blueberry jam thickened up the strawberries quite a bit. I used a blueberry jam that was made of natural sugars and honey. I let the mixture cook on medium until it started boiling. Then I turned it down on low because I had to get the pancakes done and the French toast done. The sauce cooked on low for about 15 minutes until I was ready for it.

My sauce was still a bit chunky and I like it like that. I want to know that it still contains fruit.

I poured it into my gravy boat so it could be poured out onto the pancakes and French toast. Honestly, I thought the kids would not like it. They loved it!!! Rob loved it! Dane thought it tasted like something from Denny's which he is currently obsessed with eating at. I think he meant that as a compliment.

Frozen Berry Sauce

1 - 12 oz. bag whole unsweetened strawberries, frozen
2 Tablespoon sugar
2 Tablespoon honey
1/2 -1 cup blueberry jam

1. Place the frozen strawberries in a saucepan with sugar. Turn the heat on the cooktop to medium. Let the strawberries thaw, softened to the point of easily smashed.

2. Add honey to the strawberry mixture. Stir and cook for two minutes to get incorporated.

3. Add blueberry jam to the strawberry mixture and bring to a boil.

4. Turn heat to low and cook for 15 minutes or until thickened.

5. Take off the heat and pour into a container for serving. Enjoy!

Yield: 3-4 cups.

Thanks for reading!
Erica

Monday, January 20, 2014

Monday Frugal Update

This week was busy on the work front as well as the home front. The kids had things going on, I had things going on, and a busy weekend. Life is good though!

The weather warmed up here over the week and through the weekend. I actually heard the furnace shut off which was great! However, we are getting colder as I type and have a wind chill advisory tonight and tomorrow. The kids already have a two hour late start.

I have been experimenting more with food in the kitchen using what I have on hand and trying to make recipes healthier. I slipped off the less sugar wagon and so desperately need to get back on to it. I try to substitute honey, succanat, and fruit for sugar with a lot of success. Tomorrow I will share a recipe with what we did Saturday morning. We tried, with a lot of success, to make a berry syrup to go over pancakes and French toast.

I made rhubarb crisp with rhubarb I chopped up and froze from last spring. This was my first time using frozen rhubarb for anything. I was a little worried about the water content of the rhubarb as it thawed, but the crisp turned out wonderful!

I made a loaf of bread on Saturday and Sunday mornings in the bread maker. I like to make bread from scratch, but the bread maker can save me a lot of time!

We made banana whole wheat pancakes using bananas I had froze some time ago. I had scored a good deal on bananas last summer and put some in the freezer. I freeze them with the peel on to keep them whole. When I am ready to use them, I use a paring knife to peel the bananas and they are ready to be used.

I mended a shirt for Paige and a hat for Dane.

Rob came down this last weekend and accomplished a few things around the house. He fixed Dane's door to his room that was having trouble staying on the hinges. He also fixed some of the rattling of the circular stairs that go down to Dane's room. Rob is really good at spotting small problems and taking care of them with what I have on hand.

Saturday night, Rob and I attended my company's holiday dinner at a local country club. The company pays for the meal and drinks. We always have a good time talking and getting to know my co-workers!

I scrubbed all the hard surface floors Friday after work. Instead of using different cleaners for each type of floor like I used to, I used Dr. Bronner's soap with hot water and a rag. It worked like a charm and I loved using a cleaner that is gentle to me and my floors.

We took six boxes of clothes, toys, and miscellaneous to the thrift shop. We also took several loads of recycling to the recycling bins in town. I felt really good getting rid of so much stuff!

I cut my own bangs. I prefer them shorter right now so this will be happening more frequently.

That is all I can remember for now! I am working on writing down things as the week goes on so I can give you all more information!

Thanks for reading!
Erica

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Is It Better To Live Within Your Means or Work More To Afford More?

Is it better to learn to live with your means? I think the answer is yes for many reasons. Many people struggle with this though for many reasons.

We think we are entitled to things. We deserve things because we work hard. We should have a fancy new house, a new car, expensive vacations every year (or multiple times a year), name brand clothes, newest gadgets, expensive cell phone plans, satellite/cable television, etc. We work hard and deserve the best in life. Even if we cannot afford it.

Saving money and working towards wanted things was a concept that was extremely common until the late 1940s and early 1950s. To be in debt to someone was considered to be a temporary thing, not a lifestyle. Debts were paid off quickly so not to have a bad reputation. People rarely bought anything on credit because it was rarely an option. Paying cash and bartering for goods was the common practice of acquiring goods. Producing your own goods and using what you have was considered the best practice.

Attitudes changed. Marketing targeted young adults and the middle class. "Buy on credit!" "You work hard, you should play just as hard!" "Your kids need this!" "If your friends have it, so should you!" "Why make it when you can buy it!" "Why have that old thing when you can have this shiny new thing!"

Young adults want what their parents have without realizing that their parents have worked all their lives for what they have. They do not understand how their parents had scrimped and saved for their house, car, and now relaxing retirement. They just want those things and they want them now whether they have the money to afford it.

The lesson they have not learned is to learn to live within their own means, to budget their income, and learn to save money.

I have no room to talk. I didn't learn those things well enough and I certainly didn't understand how to. I don't blame my parents for that. I didn't want to take the time to learn. I thought I knew it all. I thought I could handle car payments, student loans, and credit card payments. Nevermind that I also had regular bills and daily living expenses.

I was stupid and naive.

I had some extremely hard lessons. Even now I still struggle. A major unplanned expense can throw me off for months. A small miscalculation can have me overdrawn for a few weeks.

I am learning. Always make payments. Pay cash for everything. Don't need it, don't buy it. Make do with what I have. Reuse or makeover what I have. Grow my own food and make meals from scratch. Save, save, save!

I am learning to live within my own means and income. It is a struggle some days, but the freedom is so very sweet. I know my income. I know that I only have so much to spend. I know I need to save money for unexpected expenses. I know I need to say no to myself and my kids and prioritize our needs and wants. Paying cash for things is so very satisfying though.

Being in debt is extremely stressful for me. Buying things on credit or loaning money puts me on the edge. Add to the complication of not having another complete income in the home (I do get some child support), I can just about have an anxiety attack over missing work, not getting paid, or losing my job. I don't need that! My kids don't need a mom who is constantly on the edge. I have learned that a parent's stress can and will affect the whole household. Not worth it!

So what do you do if you are up to your eyeballs in debt? Or if you want more, but don't want to go into debt? Do you get a second job? Sell everything? Find new ways to make more money?

Not necessarily. You need to consider the cost of doing those things. Not just monetary cost, but the cost of time, family, and life. Sacrifice can be a good thing in the short term, but long term costs may be worse than you realize.

For the longest time, I was always trying to figure out how to add to my income. Selling things, direct sales, odd jobs, small part-time jobs and other things were second nature to me. I was always doing it in some form. Even after it was pointed out to me how much damage this might be causing my kids, I continued. My new way to deal with this problem of making more money was to do it from home. I was home so that meant everything was okay. Not exactly.

The cost was too high. I found myself hoping and depending way too much on the income that might come in. I was not present with my kids nor was I really available. I would stress out about those "little" jobs and stayed up at all times of the night to work them.

If I was single and alone, the cost would not have bothered me. The cost might even be a factor. But as a parent and in a relationship, the cost was too high. My kids deserve a mom available to them when she is home and a mom who is home more often than gone.

In the end, learning to live within your means is the best way. Budgeting, negotiating payments if you owe money, saving and not spending money is the best way. Being in debt to have nicer things does not help you when your family and relationships suffer as a result. Being under stress and unhappy will affect you long term and then those things you had to have will not matter any more.

Thanks for reading!
Erica

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Corn Chowder

One of my very favorite soups has to be corn chowder. I have tried many versions before I created one on my own that had plenty of flavor and could easily become a comfort food. I wanted a corn chowder that could easily be made with ingredients I had on hand and were naturally good for us. I also wanted a corn chowder that I could add a protein to it because I need a lot of protein to curb my sugar cravings and keep my energy up.

This corn chowder is so easy! You can easily add more ingredients to it to make it your own. I have added a small can of green chilies, some diced carrots, and some bell pepper (not at the same time!). I have experimented with different meats using bacon, ham, and chicken.

Corn Chowder

3 potatoes, diced (peeled or unpeeled)
1 stalk of celery, diced
1/2 or 1 onion, diced (Onion can be to your liking. One whole onion is too much for my kids.)
1 quart of chicken or turkey stock
2 cups corn, fresh or frozen
2 Tbsp. butter
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup milk
2-3 Tbsp. flour
Bacon, cooked and crumbled or Ham, chopped

1. In a 5 quart pot, put the potatoes, celery, and onion. Add the chicken or turkey stock. This should be enough liquid to cover the vegetables. If not add a little water so the vegetables are covered in liquid. Cook over medium-high heat until the vegetables are tender.

2. When vegetables are tender, add the corn, butter, salt and pepper.

3. Mix the milk and flour together until smooth using either a whisk or a fork. If you would like a bit thicker soup, use 3 Tablespoons of flour. I usually just use 2 Tablespoons of flour. Add this mixture to the soup and stir to incorporate.

4. Bring the soup to a boil. Take off the heat. You can add the meat in at this time if you would like. I usually just let my family add the meat to their bowl and ladle the corn chowder over top. If you don't want meat, you don't have to have it.

5. Serve! My kids think crackers are a necessity with this soup, but again it is all about preferences!

Yield: 4-6 servings.

Enjoy! Thanks!
Erica

Monday, January 13, 2014

Find me on Bloglovin'!

<a href="http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/5733133/?claim=9bdtqtp4nx2">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

I have a new place for y'all to follow my blog at!
I would love to see you there!

(The link is on the right side!)

Thanks,
Erica

Monday Frugal Update

Wow, again, time flies. I should just make this a monthly update, but that is asking a lot of my memory. I had to write down what I have done this last month and I know I am forgetting things we have done!

This has been a pretty good month all in all. We have been trying really hard to keep the budget on track and expenses way down. I also have been trying to be much more creative with what I have and making more from scratch. We had some miracles occur in the way of extra money for Christmas shopping along with the Christmas bonus I received from work. I am thrilled with the fact that we did not go into any debt for Christmas shopping this year!

So without any further ado, let's get onto the list of things we did...

I made two Christmas presents/stocking stuffers. I will post more about them this week.

I made homemade shampoo. I am still getting used to it and may have to make an adjustment or two.

I picked up some post-Christmas items at Kmart. I spent $6, saved $18 with a combination of store points and markdowns. 

We did no grocery shopping for almost two weeks. That has to be a record at this house! However, I did get groceries last Monday and spent $29. I was able to get 2-8# bags of apples on clearance for 99 cents each and two packages of smoked sausage for $1.50 each on clearance. Yeah! I also stopped at the store for 99 cent eggs and some personal items on Thursday. 

I have been doing a lot of projects and purging of items that I had sitting in my room and the basement. So nice to have those things done! We replaced 5 out of 8 lights in Dane's room. I also hung up a sign I got a few months ago. I filled a multiple picture frame that my mom got me last Christmas and hung that up in the front entryway. I sorted through and now have a huge pile of stuff that needs to go to the thrift store this week!

I have decided to quit selling books on Ebay or anywhere else for that matter. I will get rid of what I have, but the income it was providing was not covering the work I was putting into it. Plus I have had some really bad experiences with buyers that I am just not in a mood to deal with that anymore.

I gave three bags of Dane's old clothes and shoes to a friend for her boys. I also went through our pet supplies and gave them some of our dog things. 

I decided not to renew my local newspaper subscription, thus saving me $54 a year. I will miss it because I do read it every time it comes. However, I can buy a copy or read it at a friend's house I want to. 

I also decided not to renew my subscription to a food magazine I receive. That would cost $21 a year and I just can't justify that when I can get so many magazines for free. 

I made an Orange Clove Honey Syrup for sore throats that have been occuring around here as well as an immunity booster. I have been adding it to my tea in the mornings and it is quite delicious!

I bought a Christmas tree bag that will be big enough to hold a big one and small one. Our old ripped and the zipper gave out after having six years. I got a new one from Amazon for $9 after using a $5 gift card I earned from Swagbucks and free shipping for using Amazon Prime. 

I cleaned out the dryer using a dryer kit similar to this one. I really think they help a dryer last longer and prevent dryer fires!

We did eat out twice. Both times were a conscious decision and were made better by eating with family and friends! Otherwise, we cooked at home. I have been going through our food storage and trying to use up what is about to expire so meals have been planned around that. We have also been eating more meat from the freezer in anticipation of getting a half of a beef this spring. 

That is about it for the month. Quite a list!

Last time this is what I wanted to get done:
1. Get Paige's birthday present finished.
2. Figure out what I bought for stockings, fill them, and get the bought presents this week wrapped.
3. Finish shopping on Saturday. Actually it was the following Monday night, but it got done!
4. Make bread and some Christmas goodies.
5. Finish Shali's one closet and Jordan's closet to get to the Christmas stuff.
6. Write two blog posts.
7. Get Shali's bed vacuumed and bedding washed before she gets home. Now that she is gone, maybe...
8. Find my camcorder.
9. Scrub kitchen floor. And it needs to be done again!
10. Clean up laundry room. Almost done!

This week I would like to get done:
1. Drop off a load at the thrift store (hopefully, two loads!)
2. Recycling to the recycling bins
3. Scrub kitchen and dining room floors
4. Scrub both showers and bathtub
5. Write 2-3 blog posts
6. Put away Christmas stuff
7. Clean and declutter Paige's room
8. Find my camcorder
9. Finish cleaning laundry room
10. Clean and declutter Dane's room
11. Get rid of old sewing machine and table. 

Rather ambitious list, but I am in the mood to get it done. I may lift my caffeine ban to do it, but it needs to be done!

Thanks for reading!
Erica

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Weekend Links

It's the weekend! Time to conquer and divide! But be sure to relax too!

This weekend has been about decluttering, reorganizing, and getting the little indoor projects done. In case you think I declutter all the time, I have four kids and some decluttering is always happening. In the case of this weekend and week, I really feel a need to get stuff out of the house. And if I am feeling the need, then I must take advantage of that!

I am also doing a lot of laundry including winter gear, blankets, and bedding. We have a cold running around the house and I want it to stop! Time to wash everything! 

I am also hashing out my goals for this year. I will post them soon, but I am going through a goal process/system right now from Jon Acuff. He is really helping me to define what I want, what is stopping me, and how to achieve what I set out to do. Loving it!

So....I have a lot of interests and I read about a lot of different things. I always want to share that information with you and I couldn't decide on the best way for a long time. I always want to sound like the expert and share this information with you after I tried it, but you know I just don't have the time to try everything I want to.

Every weekend I will share with you 5-8 articles, blog posts, videos, or books that I think you should check out. I will be posting where they came from and what the article is with a link for you to go see them yourself. This truly is the best way because I do not want to take credit where credit is not due.

So, without further ado...

45 Simple Sustainable Habits You Need to Adopt by diyNatural  
   Holy moly, this article has some great ideas to adopt immediately! I am inspired!

Prepping on a Budget: Cost Effective Home Security Tips by Survival News Online
   Some really great ideas on this too. I often say I don't have anything anyone would want, but in reality that is not the truth. I definitely need to be more vigilant on home security. 

27 Clever New Ways To Use Your Kitchen Appliances by Rachel Sanders of Buzzfeed
    Awesome ideas! I would have never thought of a few of those!

A Month by Month Guide To a Better Vegetable Garden by OffTheGridNews
    If you are a beginning gardener or still learning, this article is a simple but great guide to getting a plan in place for your garden. 

12 Ways to Homestead in Place by Backdoor Survival
    I absolutely love this blog! She has so many great ideas and information. This article is loaded with great ways to homestead in place.

We Need Pain by Ed That Matters
    I filed this article under encouragement in my email and have referred back to it several times already. We do need pain so we can understand how to get through a situation.

Tips for Living Debt-Free by Stacy Makes Cents
    As we are currently working towards this in our own household (and so close to it!), these tips are a gold mine!

Also I would like, no...love, if you would click on these links when you want to shop at Amazon or Vitacost. It helps my family out tremendously and we appreciate it so much!

Amazon for Our Home 

Vitacost for Our Home

Please like Living Life In Rural Iowa on Facebook! I post to Facebook when I publish a blog post as well as to other blogs that I find interesting! I am also on Pinterest

Thanks for reading!
Erica

Friday, January 3, 2014

Frugal Friday: Clean Up Email Time!

Being frugal is not just for money. A lesson I have learned over the last year is that being frugal applies to all areas of life except for family and friends. The time you spend with them is priceless and cannot be overspent!

However, there is an area that has really come to my attention. My email. I was not being very frugal in the area of my email. The realization of how many emails I received in a day was staggering. I would open my email and have 60-80 unread emails. I would delete 20-30 emails right away. I would read through a few emails 'just because' and be disgusted I wasted my time reading them.


I would get emails for sales, for freebies, for places I like to shop at, four coupons, for products I like to use, and for things that perhaps I might be able to get something free from. Honestly, what a time waster! To be truly frugal, how I spend my time needs to be evaluated too.

A lot of those emails I got did not feed my mind, feed my soul, encourage me, or had the potential to do so. I had signed up for prepping sites that were just advertisements once I clicked their links. I had signed for a lot of the emails thinking they would be different or provide different deals and freebies, but they didn't. Plus, they also tempted me to spend money that I did not have or want to spend. I do not need any more temptation!

I decided to keep receiving emails that:
1. feed my mind in some way. I want to learn and be more knowledgeable. 
2. feed my soul or encourage me.
3. were places I very regularly shop at like the grocery store, Vitacost, and Amazon.
4. were legit deal, coupon, or freebie sites. I only kept four so far, but one of those may be heading to the chopping block soon for confusing tactics. Most of these sites are the same, but I have found some differences.

Using these guidelines, I have unsubscribed to 15 different emails so far. I have more weeding to do, but some of those places I have unsubscribed to would send me 3-4 emails a day! Geez! My email is a little more pleasant to open up and read now.

Remember, frugality applies to all areas of life. If you are wasting time deleting or mindlessly reading emails, you are not being frugal with your time. Your time is a valuable resource!

Thanks for reading!
Erica

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Top 10 Posts of 2013

Ever year I like to share with you what maybe drew you to this blog of mine or a post that you might have missed that was wildly popular. These, as do all of my posts, mean a lot to me and I am so happy to share what I have learned with you in 2013.

1. Dehydrating Blueberries










9. Monday Frugal and No Spend Update

10. What Do You Carry In Your Vehicle?

Thanks for reading this blog and giving me the opportunity for doing this post! Have a great 2014!

Thanks,
Erica

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