Showing posts with label frugal living. Show all posts
Showing posts with label frugal living. Show all posts

Monday, April 18, 2016

Monday Update From The Homestead - April 18


Hello! We are having some very lovely temperatures here! The wind seems to want to blow too, but it feels so good to be outside soaking up the sun.

We got a fair amount of yard work done. The branches are piled up in three piles around the house and will be loaded into a trailer. Some of it will be burned and some of it will become mulch for the garden. The kids did most of that work as well as picking up trash around the yard.

I have my raspberries dug up and will get the replanted as soon as I get a new spot ready. I am excited to have them out of my garden and ready to get a new, bigger patch going. We all love fresh raspberries!

I also found out yesterday that my garden will be tilled in two weeks. I am excited about that too. I want to get my own tiller, but I am shopping around for a decent used one. I bought my seed potatoes, onion sets, and shallot sets yesterday too. I might buy more seed potatoes, but I am waiting to see.

We, mostly Rob, got the garage cleaned out and organized. We still have some more cleaning and organizing to do, but the garden tools and shovels are all hanging up! I have dreamed of that for quite a while! Rob also tore out some shelves that were rotting and falling apart. He also did a lot of sweeping and dusting. The garage was pretty dirty!

Paige went to prom! She is only a freshman, but her date was a junior. Here is the pretty girl in all her finery:



She wore a dress that her older sister, Jordan, wore to her junior prom. This dress was in pretty decent condition, but I had to use my sewing and ironing skills. I fixed and sown back on the beads and larger rhinestones that came loose. The skirt had a couple minor tears that I sewed back up. We spent $26 to get her hair done and grandma bought her a new pair of heels to wear. Jordan applied her make-up and Paige wore jewerly that she already had. A fairly frugal prom!

The chickens are still alive. We have been free ranging them again and so far no hawk. We did find out it was illegal to shoot them. I am looking into other ways to discourage them from eating my chickens!

Other than that, we have been going to track meets, cleaning, and generally keeping up with life. The cats will go to the vet tomorrow and that should be more fun than it sounds. One of the cats is deathly afraid to even leave the house so this is always a fun trip.

I wanted to let you all know about a new site for starting and adding to your current food storage. Preppers Market carries healthy emergency food storage with none of the nasty stuff you don't want! It tastes delicious and offers a great variety for you and yours. It would make a great gift to help jumpstart someone's food storage or add to their existing food storage. Check it out!

Preppers Market LB pasta

What is going on around your homestead?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Monday, April 11, 2016

Monday Update From The Homestead - April 11


What happened this week?

This week was a little exciting, a little bit frustrating, and has a little bit more work involved for us.

We are down a chicken. One of the full-grown layers was killed by a hawk. In all the problems I thought I would have with keeping my chickens alive, this was not one problem I thought I would have. Hawks are not a big problem, but we had noticed three of them nesting on the property. We weren't sure what kind of hawk they were, but now we know they are the chicken-killing kind of hawks.

Since I like my chickens to free range a bit, the hawks need to go. I would like to do it humanely, but if we have to shoot them then we will. Shooting the hawks is probably illegal, but I have more invested in my chickens and would rather not lose them!



In the frustrating and creating more work for us category, what you see above is the remnants of my clothesline. We had a dead tree fall on Tuesday and take out the clothesline. Both poles will have to be replaced as well as the line. We are extremely fortunate that the tree did not fall on the house or fall the other way on to the power line. This can be cleaned up and replaced fairly easily.

Gardening is still on hold. The ground temperature is a little bit chilly yet to plant anything. A few days of sun might cure that. We are also going to move the raspberry patch out of the garden and into its own spot. I think they will do better and I will have the room back in the garden. If I don't have a tiller (my dream tiller) by the weekend, I will rent one and get the garden tilled hopefully in the next week.

We (mostly Rob) spring-cleaned the first floor of the house Saturday. He would call it normal cleaning, but the floors look fantastic! We also did some decluttering with another load accumulating for the thrift store. I took one load on Thursday last week, but we always have more things to get rid of.

I also did a big grocery run on Saturday. Meat prices are atrocious!!!! Corn and beans for feed is down. Gas prices to transport the meat is down. Why is ground beef still $4.50-5.00 a pound?!?! Crock-pot and arm roasts were $3.99 a pound. I am still in sticker shock!

Everything is on hold this week while we get ready for prom! Paige is going to her first prom on Saturday and, in our true frugal style, is wearing a dress that Jordan wore her junior year. I still need to get a few repairs done on the dress and iron the skirt. With three track meets this week this should be interesting, but we will get it done!

What is happening on your homestead?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Making Bread Is A Skill You Need To Learn! Bonus: A Round-Up of Great Bread Recipes!


One of the skills I have probably worked the hardest on was to make my own bread. I wasn't very positive about my ability to learn how to make bread, but I knew I needed to learn how.

I had a bread maker, but I didn't like how the loaves came out of the bread maker. The crust was very chewy if not hard as a rock. Then I discovered the dough setting. Oh my. I found out that the bread maker could do the dough part, then I could take the dough out, put it in a bread pan, let rise again, and bake the bread. Wonderful!

That only works as long as the bread maker works. Something happened that the coating peeled off the bread maker pan and I didn't like having the coating in my dough. Somehow, I doubt that was healthy for anyone.

I had dabbled in making the bread from scratch and now the time had come to move beyond dabbling into full-time mastering the bread making skill. I learned how to make bread using my KitchenAid mixer. That mixer makes life a lot easier! However, I wanted to learn how to make bread from scratch. 

Quite honestly, I was a little scared of the whole process. Making bread from scratch and by hand seemed a little daunting. I put off learning this skill for a few years at least. I didn't want to knead bread for a long time or struggle to stir the dough. I had already broken enough wooden spoons! 

Enough was enough. I finally found a few recipes (listed below) that I didn't think sounded too difficult. Sure enough, making bread from scratch was easy! Learning to know when the bread was done and getting the rise times right was my biggest challenge. I learned to thump the bread when it was done cooking and listen for the hollow sound. I learned to get the temperature right in my kitchen for the bread to rise correctly. 

Listen, if I can cook bread from scratch, you can too. This is a skill that is very necessary. When times are tough or the budget is tight, making bread will save you money and fill those bellies. Bread is cheap when you make it at home and tastes so much better than store bought. 

Another plus is that you can control the ingredients. You can control the sugar, the flour, and the salt. If you need gluten-free, you can make gluten-free. If you have a family that will only eat white bread, you make white bread. The possibilities are endless!

I am little embarrassed to say that I do not have my own bread recipe! As much as I love making bread, I have never felt the need to develop my own recipe. However, I know a lot of great bloggers that have their own recipes and are more than happy to share them!

Below are some great recipes from fellow bloggers to help you get started baking bread or add some new recipes to your repertoire: 




































Which recipe are you trying first?

Thanks for reading,

Erica

Monday, March 21, 2016

Monday Update From The Homestead - March 21 and Thoughts on Homesteading


The task of the month here has been bedroom cleaning. In hindsight that might not have been the best idea, but getting Dane upstairs to a new room became a priority. Dane is still working on purging toys and whatnot in both his old and new rooms. He is claiming that he plays with them all. Paige has had to confront her hoarding tendencies and clean her room. We have to repair the window in her room as well as the ceiling. As of right now, we just want her floor clean which she has been making great progress on. We are also challenging her to keep it clean. I have confidence she can do it if she sets her mind to it.

We moved the bed from Dane's old room to Shali's old room to make a better guest bed. The bed in that room had a broken box spring and was uncomfortable to sleep in. We also needed to address the bed frame. We got that accomplished and the bed made. Sometimes getting the bed made too is a huge accomplishment!

We moved a friend last weekend. I loved how organized she was. All the guys had to do was carry out the furniture and deconstruct a few items like the bed frame and the entertainment center. The boxes were all packed and ready to go. We just had to load the truck and U-Haul truck. We spent the night (aka collapsed into a hotel bed) in Rochester and had lunch with another friend for his birthday as well as hung out with Rob's uncle and aunt for awhile. A nice weekend all-in-all, but we found out how out of shape we are! I am still feeling sore muscles today.

We also came home with a loveseat, a small table and four chairs, and two bar stools that were free to us. They will be put to very good use in our home. The loveseat will replace an existing one that is quickly falling apart. The table and one chair will go to Dane's room as a Lego table/desk. The barstools will be used in the shop.

I was hoping for Spring to be here, but we got a couple inches of snow last Friday night. The weather guys are saying we will be getting more snow Wednesday as well as the temperatures cooling down for Easter. That is not very conducive to getting stuff done outside.

I know a lot of people plant their potatoes on Good Friday. I have never had any luck with doing this especially in March. My potatoes end up rotting in the ground. However, I have a few fabric growing bags and I am thinking about growing some potatoes in there. What do you all do? Do you plant your potatoes on Good Friday? Do you plant your potatoes in the ground or use another method?

I have had some private comments that we are not homesteading when we are talking about getting the house in order, making repairs, and generally doing what we can. We have chickens, but they are pretty content just being chickens and laying eggs. I have things planted in the garden right now, but gardening in northern Iowa is not the best idea at the moment. 

We are doing what we can in this moment. Since our energies cannot be devoted to being outside growing and making things, we are concentrating on other areas. Being a homesteader is being self-sufficient and we are practicing that all the time. We are making our own repairs. We are putting our house in order so we can concentrate on working outside when the time is right.

We are making plans. Oh my, are we making plans! We are planning what to plant in the garden and how. We are planning to plant more apple and pear trees. We are planning to move the raspberries to increase the room in the garden. We are planning and working on the shop so we can make and repair more of our own things. We have been debating on getting more chickens this year or wait until next year. There is so much we want to do!

We are all in different stages of our own journeys. Some people may be comfortable just gardening. Some people may want and have it all. Homesteading is not a contest. It is an individual journey of your own making.

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Thursday, March 17, 2016

50 Ways You Are Not Being Frugal


Being frugal is not hard, but many people make mistakes in their frugal journey in life. Saving money, making smart decisions, choosing used over new, choosing quality over cheap, and being conscious where your money goes is time-consuming and somewhat exhausting.

However, most people believe they are being frugal without even realizing that they aren't being frugal at all. We all like to think we are frugal until we make these mistakes:

1. Grocery shopping without a meal plan or a list.

2. Letting food go to waste in the refrigerator.

3. Eating lunch out instead of eating up the leftovers.

4. Buying brand new clothes when used will do.

5. Refusing to use coupon codes when shopping.

6. Buying store bought cookies and cakes instead of making them yourself.

7. Buying cleaners you can easily make yourself.

8. Holding on to things that no longer have any use to you.

9. Not taking care of your things.

10. Throwing away broken items instead of fixing them.

11. Buying new clothes instead of mending clothes

12. Buying a new car every year or so instead of driving your perfectly good 10 year old car.

13. Paying for insurance without shopping around.

14. Buying coffee instead of making your own and filling a thermos.

15. Paying someone to mow when you are physically able to do so yourself.

16. Paying the mechanic to change your windshield wipers.

17. Buying new when used will do.

18. Not taking care of your vehicle with regular oil changes and tire checks.

19. Ignoring free samples

20. Paying for something that you can get for free.

21. Shopping because you are bored

22. Buying materials instead of repurposing what you have.

23. Buying a item you will only need once for a project instead of borrowing or renting the item.

24. Paying for services you don't use.

25. Subscribing to monthly overpriced boxes or subscription services.

26. Not taking advantage of employee benefits like clothing allowance and tuition assistance.

27. Using credit cards and not paying them off every month.

28. Buying name brand OTC medicine and almost anything else when generic will do just fine.

29. Keeping unwanted or ill-fitting items instead of returning them for a refund.

30. Going out to the bars and eating out every weekend instead of enjoying a beer and a good meal at home.

31. Throwing an item away when a component breaks instead just buying the component and making the item usable again.

32. Leaving the furnace or air conditioner run when you have windows and doors open.

33. Driving around town wasting time and gas for one errand instead of running all your errands in one day and with a plan.

34. Buying an expensive pair of glasses when reading glasses from the store will do.

35. Paying daily to go to the gym, YMCA, or the pool instead of buying a season/year pass.

36. Buying a season/year pass for the gym, YMCA, or the pool and not using it enough to make it pay.

37. Buying brand new egg cartons for selling eggs when friends and family have a ton of used ones to give you.

38. Buying plants for the garden instead of trying to start your own seeds.

39. Being a "short order" cook at mealtime and making everyone their own meal instead of making one meal to serve everyone.

40. Creating a higher garbage bill by throwing recyclables in the trash.

41. Using single use coffee cups and water bottles instead of carrying a thermos or water bottle with you to refill.

42. Ignoring bills and letting the interest rack up instead of making payments and staying in touch with the creditor.

43. Continuing bad habits when you cannot afford to do.

44. Failing to plan ahead for emergencies by not having a savings account or things with you to care of the emergency.

45. Borrowing money instead of saving money for vehicles, campers, and recreational vehicles.

46. Having every light in the house on instead of just in the rooms you are using.

47. Forgetting to use gift cards and discount cards.

48. Blowing your budget just to impress your friends and family.

49. Going into debt during the holidays just to give your kids everything they wanted.

50. Using credit cards instead of cash to pay for vacations and gifts.

Recognize yourself in any of these?

I am not perfect either. I have written most of these knowing that I have committed these frugality sins. However, I have lived and learned and you can too.

A mistake is a mistake. It shouldn't rule your life and you should be able to forget about it. Next time, you do a little better at being frugal and being conscious about how to spend your money. You don't forget about what is free and you don't forget to take advantage of that online discount. Being frugal takes practice!

What frugal mistakes have you made?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Are You Frugal?


Many people claim to be frugal. 

Many people are frugal. 

Many people don't have a clue how to be frugal. 

Most people don't realize what it takes to be frugal.

Frugal is defined as being economical with what you have, not wasting anything, and being careful with your money. Being frugal means you do not throw away something that could have use down the road. Being frugal means you do not waste a refrigerator full of food or let the leftovers go to waste. Being frugal means you do not foolishly throw away your money on a cool new fancy car when a good sturdy used car will suit your needs perfectly.

A lot of people believe that they can not be frugal because it doesn't come naturally to them. Being frugal doesn't necessarily come naturally. Many ideas and processes come into place to be frugal. Some people are born with the "frugal gene" and are good at being frugal. Many people have had to learn to be frugal either by upbringing or trial by fire.

Some believe that all you need to be frugal is to shop the sales and use coupons. Being frugal is so much more than that. Being frugal means buying at the right time and only buying the things you need now or in the future. For example, buying good quality kids' clothes at a garage sale even though the kids might not be able to wear them for a year or two is being frugal. You are anticipating a need, saving money now by buying the clothes, and will have them on hand when needed instead of buying new and in a hurry potentially costing more money.

Being frugal takes time. Many people are brought up to be frugal by parents or grandparents who didn't have a choice but to be frugal. Otherwise, they wouldn't know how to get by. Frugal habits take time to learn and practice. You don't just wake up and know how to be frugal. You learn by watching others, reading about frugality, and putting those things into practice. Soon you will not even have to think too hard about being frugal because you have practiced frugal habits. 

Some times being frugal take time due to research. Buying a vehicle or even tires for a vehicle takes time. You want to be sure to get the best price for the quality you are looking for. That takes online research, phone calls, taking to the salesperson, and making a calculated decision. You are frugal and don't want to throw away your money on a lemon or bad tires. This part of being frugal can be tedious, but so worth it. 

While many of these things are not taught in schools anymore, kids (and adults) need to learn vital skills to be frugal. Learning to budget, to check your bank balance, how to figure the unit price of an item, and learning how to save money are some of the skills people need to know today to save money. Also, people need to learn how to cook, make basic repairs, sew and mend, and do their own work. Many of these things were taught in high school under the names of Home Economics, Shop, Life Skills, and Basic Living Class. Rarely are these classes taught beyond junior high when they should be taught and mandatory for high school students.

Everyone who is frugal has made mistakes and they learn from those mistakes. Many frugal people could tell you about the one time they thought something was a great deal so they bought without doing thorough research. Then they got home and found out it wasn't such a great deal. They learned and they moved on. Or they returned the item if they could and got their money back. These things happen and that is how you become more frugal. Mistakes can be the best teacher for frugal habits.

However, being frugal is much more than money. Being frugal means planning and thinking ahead. It means planning ahead for the needs of your family whether that means planning meals for the home, lunch for school or work, making bread on the weekends for the week, etc. It means remembering to bring your lunch every day so you don't spend money eating out, remembering to pay bills on time to avoid late fees, and saving money for potential repairs. 

Being frugal is mending a shirt to get more life out of the shirt, accepting some free clothes from a friend, and fixing your own headlight. Being frugal means using last night's leftover pork roast for pulled pork sandwiches today. It means starting your own tomato plants from seed instead of buying the plants at the store for your garden. It means letting your livestock graze on grass a bit instead of buying more feed. It means eating eggs and toast for breakfast at home instead of getting breakfast pizza at the convenience store. 

Being frugal means a lot of things, but it can be easy to be frugal with time, practice, and careful planning. You can be frugal by making a decision every day to do so. Everyone makes mistakes, but you will learn and not make that mistake again. 

You can be frugal. I know you can. 

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Friday, February 12, 2016

Make Valentine's Day Cheap and Easy!


Valentine's Day can be so expensive! Flowers, candy, cards, stuffed animals, expensive night-outs, expensive dinners at equally expensive restaurants, and the list can go on. Guys and gals alike throw away huge amounts of money and for what? A holiday they might remember? 

What a huge waste of money!

I used to work at a florist shop and I just could not believe that guys would spend $150 on two dozen roses, balloons, and the works. I was not as frugal then as I am now, but the cost would just about stagger me. I always really hoped that the wife or girlfriend was really worth it or really appreciated it. 

Don't get me wrong. I love getting flowers or a plant! I think they are beautiful, but not on Valentine's Day! Do you realize how much those items are marked up? Never mind that the flowers are usually out of season, making the flowers even more expensive!

How can you get around this? 

Take a vow to make Valentine's Day cheap and easy!

Here are some ideas for you:

1. Have a nice dinner at home. Even if you buy the steaks at the grocery store, you are saving a ton of money by cooking them yourself and staying home. If you want a romantic dinner for two, find a babysitter or eat after the kids go to bed.

2. Watch a movie at home. Want a new movie to watch? Hit up a Redbox, see what Netflix or Amazon Prime has for free or rent, or borrow one from a friend. 

3. Make cards for each other. Write a heartfelt note on the card.

4. Make your own decorations using ideas from Pinterest or the free printables on the internet. 

5. Make your kids' Valentines for school using free printables from the internet. I found some really cool Star Wars Valentines for my son to give at school. We also taped a pack of 5 Juicy Fruit gum on the back of each one as the favor.

6. Go visit an art gallery or museum. Most places are free or free passes can be obtained to visit. 

7. Play a card or board game at home. We love to play UNO together. It can be vicious with the kids involved, but we didn't teach them to play to lose! 

8. Take a walk or sit together on the couch and spend some time just talking to each other. Communication is important in any relationship and is free!

9. Go on a drive and visit some places that mean a lot to you both. While driving is not always cheap, gas prices are low right now. Plus there is no cost for being sentimental. Visit the places where you first met, had your first date, had a great time at, a favorite spot for both of you, etc.

10. Make breakfast in bed. Who doesn't appreciate having a great breakfast made and served to you in bed? 

11. Make a book of favors to give to your special one. Have coupons for free massages, supper of their choice, clean their vehicle, etc. You can make these as nice or intimate as you want!

12. Make a batch of Valentine's cookies to give to kids or neighbors. 

13. Swap babysitting with another family to have a free night for just the two of you!

14. Make a special dessert for just the two of you or the whole family to share. Cheesecake with cherry or strawberry topping is always a hit in my family!

15. Fill a jar with little love notes to open in the year to come. Just a note saying "I love you" or "Your're the best" can really lift someone's spirit!

I am sure there are more ideas to think of, but this is a good list to get started with. I know some people do not celebrate this holiday and that is fine too. I think you should express your love and appreciation all year round and not just one day. However, some people think it is special day and want to celebrate accordingly. Just do it cheaply!

How do you celebrate Valentine's Day?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Once A Month Shopping Challenge: Month 3 and 4 Update!


So...I am being a bit of slacker on keeping you all updated on this shopping challenge.

Probably because I didn't want to admit I was a complete failure.

Month 3 went smashingly. As I predicted, I made one small trip to the store right before Christmas for apples and Texas toast bread for our traditional apple fritters, French toast, and bacon on Christmas morning. What I took to my parent's house on Christmas Eve, I had all the ingredients for - cavatini and banana bread.

I was well pleased with myself about Month 3. Month 4 has proven to be more difficult.

I started out making my monthly trip to the grocery store and Walmart a few days early due to my schedule. I spent $200 between the two stores for groceries at Aldi's and pet food at Walmart. This was a little high in my opinion, but doable.




I also decided to take delivery of my Amazon Subscribe and Save for January because I had a lot of things on there that we needed. I had stuff on there for school lunches, pet treats, and some health and beauty items. I also placed a small order on Amazon for a few other needed things for the house.



Here is where the rest of the month went downhill quickly.

Did I explain what was going on in January? Rob was moving in. In fact, he did 2-1/2 weeks ago. He is not the reason or the excuse for my downfall. I had to adjust my food budget a little bit and prepare food for one more person which is not at all difficult. I did make another trip to the grocery store.

My downfall? I have been cleaning and purging, organizing and reorganizing, and generally tearing my house apart to make room for him. (I was not entirely successful.) The house also really needed an overhaul. There is a lot more work to do with bedrooms being moved and some repairs needing to be made. 

Taking on a whole house purge, organization, and reorganization is not conducive to a Once A Month shopping challenge. Not at all. I have been buying totes, baskets, small organization tools like hooks, and stuff to fix the broken things that I have finding. I have been trying to make do with what I have and have come up with good solutions that cost me nothing. 

I have no idea how much money I spent in month 4. I am pretty sure I busted my budget which is not okay, but life is goes on. I know I probably spent closer to $300-350 for the month. I try to keep the household expenses to under $300. 

In the process of this, I have lost my groove in meal planning and grocery shopping. I am hoping to get back on track in month five. At the very least, I want to keep the grocery trips down to twice a month. I haven't been buying a lot of personal items because we are pretty well stocked up on those things. I did only shop for pet food once and only had to buy one more bag of cat food ($70 for pet food). I did take my Subscribe and Save for this month also totaling $54. So month five is looking a bit more promising.

How are you doing in the Once A Month Shopping Challenge? My friend Daisy at The Organic Prepper gives her update here. I want to hear about yours!

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Thursday, February 4, 2016

Ten Lessons Learned About Food From The Depression and Wartime


The Great Depression was a time of lean years for many in the United States as well as all over the world. Many people learned valuable lessons on how to make food stretch and take advantage of cheaper processed food that came out during this time. Many people learned to survive on less and some people went hungry. 

When World War II came around, many of these lessons were needed to survive the war and stretch their rationing coupons. People were encouraged to garden during the Depression and were heavily encouraged to do during the war. Victory gardens appeared everywhere to help feed the people while more and more food was shipped overseas. 

Many of these lessons learned during these eras have been lost. We as a people are incredibly wasteful now. Our grocery budgets would be better off if we learned these same lessons and kept them in our kitchens. Then if we have lean times, we would be better off.

10 Lessons Learned About Food From The Depression and Wartime

1. Fat was never wasted. Scraps of fat were kept from everything they could be and stored. Fat from meat was cut off to be used to fry and roast. Bacon grease was kept in a jar to be used to cook eggs and potatoes. Fat from cooking meat was reused in cooking other meat and cooking vegetables. Fat was too precious to waste especially when it became severely rationed during World War II.

2. Cooking liquids were never just thrown down the drain. That was wasteful! They were reused in cooking for vegetables. Rice and pasta could be cooked in water that was previously used in cooking vegetables. They also thought it gave the rice and pasta flavor. They would also use the cooking liquids in watering plants and feeding animals.

3. Leftover meat juices had so many more uses! Leftover meat juices were used for making soup, cooking rice and pasta, flavoring casseroles and skillets dishes. Meat juices were poured into a jar to be reused in the next meal.

4. If the food has to be imported into the country, chances are you would have to live without it. This was especially true in the United States and Britain during wartime when most of their food was imported into the country. Many things they could grow themselves, but items like sugar and coffee were severely rationed because they could not produce it themselves.

5. If people could, they raised their own chickens and planted gardens. Sometimes city dwellers could not have gardens, but many cities had garden allotments for people to use. Raising your food could mean the difference between living and starving for most people. Many people during the Depression and wartime sold the food they couldn't eat or preserve. Many women sold eggs from their chickens in order to bring a little more income into the home. Many people from these eras have said that having gardens and eggs is what got them through the lean years.

6. Leftovers were not wasted. Leftovers were generally incorporated into the next meal or the next day's meals. Leftover meat became chopped meat sandwiches. Leftover meat and vegetables became part of the soup. Cooking liquids and canned liquids were reused. Nothing was wasted. If for some reason, the leftovers could not be or were not used, they were fed to the animals or put into a compost pile. 

7. If you did not raise or hunt your own meat, meat could be very expensive. Meals in the Depression and wartime were not heavy on meat like they are now. Meat cooked at one meal was stretched over 2-4 meals. They might roast a chicken for one meal, make chopped meat sandwiches for another meal, soup for lunch or supper, and use the rest of the chicken in a white sauce served over toast or pasta. The bones would be used to make broth for the soup before being thrown out to the chickens. Nothing was wasted.

8. Consider alternative ways of cooking food. In the 30's and 40's, cook stoves were popular. Electric and gas cook stoves were becoming increasingly available and were cheap to run. However, in the Depression, people could not afford to run the stoves. During the war, gas was rationed. Women used wood stoves and hay boxes to cook food and save money. 

9. Forging was very necessary during these eras. People looked for dandelion greens, dug up wild onions, and knew where to find blackberries in the brambles. Forging for anything edible helped at the supper table and, for some families, made the difference between a very meager meal and a decent meal. 

10. "Making Do" was the theme of the Depression and wartime. People didn't have a choice if they wanted to eat. Beans were eaten a lot because they were cheap and nutritious. Casseroles were made more and became popular because little bits of food could be mixed together to make a more filling meal. Bits of dried fruit and sweet vegetables were used to sweeten food when sugar wasn't available or heavily rationed. 

Food was never thrown out or wasted. People became very creative and resourceful to make a meal for their family. They had to. They didn't have a choice unless they wanted to starve. 

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Egg and Spinach Open Faced Sandwiches



Things to know about me:

1. I am not a fancy cook. Not at all. I could be if I wanted to, but I really like making uncomplicated things. This sandwich is one of them.

2. I will eat cold sandwiches, but I really, really like hot sandwiches with crusty or toasted bread.

I make these Egg and Spinach Open Faced Sandwiches for breakfast or lunch. I like them that much and I will eat breakfast at any meal. Also, this is a good way to get in your greens!

Gather your ingredients. Since I was making this for lunch I used 3 eggs. Sometimes I only use 2 eggs. I stuffed a sandwich sized baggie full of spinach. I also used 2 pieces of bread, but I have also been known to use leftover baked potatoes instead of bread. I also used a liberal amount of butter and some salt, but you can also use coconut oil and whatever seasoning you love.


Start by getting your skillet hot and add butter to melt. Drop your 2 slices of bread in the toaster.


Add your spinach to the skillet. Put it all in there. If you are using a small skillet like I was, the spinach will still fit.


When the toaster is done, butter the toast. All toast should be buttered. Always. 

Add the spinach on top of the buttered toast.


Add more butter to the skillet and let it melt and get bubbly.


Add the eggs. You might want to use a bigger skillet than I did, but I was at work using what I had available to me.


When your eggs are done to your satisfaction (scrambled, fried, sunny side up, soft), put them on top of the spinach and eggs. I left my eggs soft with runny yolks. 


Dig in! This is not a dish best left cold! Salt or season them as you prefer and go to town on that sandwich. 

This is a relatively healthy sandwich that quick and easy to make! My favorite kind of dish!

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

2015 Best of Living Life In Rural Iowa - Top Ten Posts!

You all read these posts, shared these posts, and shown this blog some love! Thank you so much! I couldn't do this without you all and I wouldn't want to!

These posts were the most popular posts in 2015! Counting down from 10 to 1 in popularity, here they are:

10. 

9.

8. 

7. 

6. 

5. 

4. 

3.

2. 

1.

Thank you again and have a great 2016!
Erica


Monday, December 21, 2015

Have I Always Been A Prepper Homesteader?



Have I always been a prepper homesteader?

No.

I have been a prepper homesteader for at least the last ten years and maybe longer. I have been wanting to be a homesteader for a lot longer than that. I would read and re-read the Little House on the Prairie books as a kid (and as an adult). I have always loved reading about early Iowa settlers and what they had to do to survive and thrive. I find their stories absolutely fascinating.

 As for being a prepper, I found myself becoming one out of necessity. When my son was born eleven years ago, we were broke. My then husband was unemployed and having a personal crisis. I was working part-time and selling everything I could to make extra money. We were getting by on the grace of our parents. We also had three little girls at home needing food and shelter. Sure we had a roof over our heads, but we really struggled to keep the power on. We also had a lot of credit card debt to pay off.

After we got back on our feet, I swore that would never happen again. Not like that. He got a full-time job. I was eventually moved from part-time and full-time at my job. Then he decided he did not want to be married to me anymore. I filed for divorce and did the best I could to get by.

My parents and his parents helped when I asked for it. Even though I had a full-time job, I worked a couple small part-time jobs. I still had to apply for food assistance, child care assistance, and Medicaid. I didn't want to, but my kids were not going to go hungry. Child support was still getting straightened out and took a few years to be consistent.

When I got food assistance, they gave me more money than I had ever spent on groceries. Even when things were going well for us, I never spent $450 a month in groceries. I used the extra money to start my food storage. I never again wanted to look in the almost bare cabinets and wonder how creative I could get to feed my kids.

I was already making almost everything from scratch so I found it easy to know what to stock up on. I had a top ten list of things to stock up on when I went to the store or found a good deal. When I found myself having an adequate stock of those things, I made another list of things to stock up on. I also started using my tax refund to buy meat in bulk. I would buy a half of a beef or pork for the freezer. The price was so much lower doing it this way!

The first stage of my prepping journey was food storage and the second stage involved becoming a lot more frugal. I barely ate out unless I was invited to do so. I shopped a lot more in the thrift stores. I started learning how and doing my own repairs. I mended a lot of the kids' clothing. We already shopped garage sales for their clothes. I drove vehicles until the wheels fell off. I tried not to buy anything unless it was a necessity. I found ways to lower our bills or eliminate them altogether.

The third stage was learning more about gardening and do more canning. I had always dabbled in gardening and had some success. I started to get more serious about gardening and canning everything I could. I am still learning about gardening and from the mistakes I have made, but I have accomplished learning about canning. I have also learned a lot about dehydrating and freezing produce.

During this time, I got off food assistance and Medicaid. We didn't need child care assistance anymore when my son went to school. It was a good day when this all happened! Some days I wish I had the Medicaid back, but I also enjoy not having the government all up in my business. Their questions can be rather intrusive.

I added laying chickens to the homestead. I raised them from two day old babies and now they are 1.5 years old. I have twelve chickens and get 6-8 eggs a day. I wanted to be able to produce some of my own food in addition to gardening and this was a good start. I hope to add meat chickens this year and learn about butchering.

In the meantime, I have been learning more skills and reacquainting myself with others like sewing. I have a good supply of essentials in case of emergency and natural disasters. I keep my vehicle stocked just in case we get stranded or need to make a repair. I keep things on hand like camp stoves, propane heaters, and whatnot just in case we are without power for any length of time.

I am always filling jugs for water or accruing more drinking water from the store. I would love to get a 55 gallon drum for water, but I haven't done so yet. Hopefully in the next few months I will be able to get one. I also want to get a water filtration system like a Berkey so we can have clean water for drinking and cooking.

I am also working more on getting prepared for pets. I buy extra every month and, little by little, get a better stockpile every month. The dog has thrown me for a loop by eating more again so I need to adjust that. However, we just keep the dry pet food in sealable buckets to keep it fresher and free of mice.

Becoming a prepper homesteader takes time. I still working at it every day and learning more as I go. I know I need to do more. I am very proud of myself for how far I have come. I read books, blogs, and watch videos. I research a lot before I start a project. I practice the skills however and whenever I can. I am not an expert by any scope of the imagination, but I enjoy sharing what I have learned.

You can become a prepper homesteader too. Your journey to it might look a little different than mine and that is more than okay. All that matters is that you go on this journey and become one!

Thanks for reading,
Erica



Tuesday, December 15, 2015

What This Prepper Buys: The $1 Dollar General Challenge


A few months ago, I wrote a post on What This Prepper Buys: A Trip To The Store With Me. I wanted to give you all an idea on what I purchase for my preps and my everyday life. Since I use my preps in my daily life, I buy a lot of things knowing I can and will use them in both. 

Since then, I have had some requests to do more of these posts and maybe explain why I buy what I do. I can gladly indulge you by doing that! 

I had a prepaid gift card that I needed to use up last month. It expired the end of November and could only be used at certain stores. I had taken some survey a few years back for what I don't remember. I do remember getting a $35 card for taking it. That is all I need to remember. 

In the massive decluttering I have undertaken in my home, I have been cleaning out my desk and found this card in a little basket. I immediately saw the expiration date and thought I can't throw away free money! That is against everything I believe!

Then I thought I would challenge myself. We have a Dollar General in the town where I work. Even though I feel the same way most of the time, many people complain that you can not find many things for just $1 at Dollar General anymore. I wanted to see what I could find for $1 or less to add to my preps. 



Above is the picture of everything I bought. I kept track as I was going through the store. I did have to buy drain cleaner for $3.00 which put me around the $35. However, my upstairs bathroom drain is now running a lot smoother!

What did I buy and for how much?

2 bags of cough drops - $1.00 each 
5 pack of ramen noodles - $1.00
2 boxes of baking soda - $.50 each
1 can of pineapple chunks - $1.00
1 bottle of Ajax dish soap - $1.00 
2 canisters of non-iodized salt - $.50 each
1 gallon of drinking water - $1.00 
2 bottles of white vinegar - $1.00 each
1 bottle of drain cleaner - $3.00
2 boxes of Jiffy corn bread - $.50 each
4 cans of Friskies wet cat food - $.50 each
1 jar of sliced pickles - $1.00 
1 bottle of body wash - $1.00  
1 small canister of creamer - $1.00
2 plastic drop clothes 9' x 12'  - $1.00 each
1 bar of soap - $1.00
1 box of 25 bandages - $1.00
1 pack of 8 vinyl gloves - $1.00
2 packages of oyster crackers - $1.00 each (will be repackaged)
2 cans of carrots - $.50 each
2 cans of mixed vegetables - $.50 each
2 cans of diced tomatoes - $.50 each
2 cans of beans (chili and kidney) - $.50 each
2 pack of microfiber cleaning cloths - $1.00
2 packages of cotton swabs - $1.00 each
1 package of all-purpose thread - $1.00
1 tube of Vasoline lip balm - $1.00

I was able to get 42 items for $35.00 which is doing pretty well!

I have trying to focus on getting my food supply up for my pets. The cat food can be a tricky thing if you have cats with stomach sensitivities like I do. My fourteen year old cat has to be on a grain-free diet. She does not eat canned cat food, only dry food. I am trying to buy extra dry cat food and store in buckets for her. My three year old cat is not at all finicky. He will eat anything moving or not moving (including mice and sparrows). Since canned cat food can last a while, I am stocking up on that for him. Normally, I feed both cats the same thing. However, I want options if I need them.

Salt, baking soda, and vinegar will be used for food and cleaning. The rest of the food went into storage. I always buy soap in some form and shape. I usually always add to the first-aid stockpile. 

The rest of the items are holes I am trying to fill in my preps. I needed more thread to sew and mend. The vinyl gloves, drop cloths, and microfiber cleaning cloths are for clean-up. The drop cloths will also be handy for covering broken windows and covering floors. 

My friend, Patrick at Survival at Home, has also posted about his finds at the dollar stores for his preps! Check him out here: Dollar Store Preps - Packing Your Bug-Out Bag for Cheap!

What would you buy for $35? What items would you pick for $1 at Dollar General?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


(This is not an advertisement or endorsement for Dollar General. I am not getting paid to write this. That is simply where I do a lot of my odds and ends shopping and is close by for me to get to. Thanks!)

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