Finding True Serenity

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Thrifty Thursday: Homemade Grapevine Trellis June 18, 2009

Okay, I can officially say I have two of the greatest men in my life who I truly adore!  My husband and son noticed our neighbors throwing last years fancy gazebo with the metal scrolled corners out on the curb and a light bulb went off…”Didn’t mom want to make a trellis for the grapevine?”  Our neighbors were greatful we were taking their eye sore away and we quickly went to work. 

Here’s what it looked like before:

grapevine before

And after unbolting a few things and a little rearranging here is the final product!

grapevine after

And look, what do we see?

grape investigators

Oh wait…I know!  It’s baby grapes!

Baby grapes

So in the end this is thrifty and economical in a few ways…

1.  We gathered the items needed for the trellis curbside, while helping our neighbors, so there was no initial cost.

2.  The grapevine that we are training to climb this trellis will provide us with grapes this fall saving us even more on our food budget.

3.  We were able to repurpose something that would have otherwise gone to the landfill.

4.  And last but not least, the remaining posts and corners that we removed will be used to stake up our garden and the peas shall climb up the corner metal scrolls!   (Don’t worry, I will post about this later after my garden has matured a bit for another Thrifty Thursday!!!!)

I love being thrifty when you can create such a beautiful addition while helping others and Mother Nature!!!  And that is how we have it on Thrifty Thursday!   Thank you so very much for stopping by my first post on TT!!!

 

Below Freezing January 16, 2009

Filed under: Environmentalism — findingtrueserenity @ 4:00 pm
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BBRRRRRRR

It is absolutely FREEZING!!!!  We woke up this morning and this is what the thermometer said, -16 degrees.  Unfortunately, my dear husband had to defrost the water main coming into our house for 35 minutes out in this weather.

wind chill

As you can kinda see, the weatherman said the windchill for our area was -40 degrees.  In this weather it is best to stay indoors if at all possible, and remember your animals as well.  This type of weather is hard on all of creation!

 

A lovely day of homemade goodness…

Today was one of those days when I felt really good about what I’ve accomplished.  Here here, be easy on me!  I have pretty low standards!  🙂

This morning I woke up, hung up a load of laundry to dry, fixed the kids some breakfast, got my son out the door for school and started working with my daughter on the alphabet and identifying objects/animals. 

Hanging Clothes

I had received a recipe, from a lovely blogger who inspires me everytime she posts, for Easy Oatmeal bread.  Today was the day I worked up enough nerve to try making homemade bread for the very first time!  I followed the recipe to a “T” and waited the longest 2.5 hours of my life!  It was amazing torture!  Smelling the dough, drooling and praying it turned out as good as it smelled! 

 The dough has risen to double it's size

Prepared dough is ready to be baked

)

We pulled the first loaf out of the oven and it was all we could do to wait for it to cool down enough to pull it out of the pan!  We all lined up and enjoyed the first warm slices.  It was perfect.  Miranda, I can’t thank you enough…my husband adored it, and that is saying something!  🙂

Going back for seconds and thirds!!!

For lunch today we ate some homemade tomato soup I had canned this last summer while one of our amazing neighbors was teaching me the art of preserving!  My husband filled up on more bread!

I washed a load of dishes and began working on supper, we threw some things together from an idea of another fellow blogger, Sara.  She’s quite clever!  We started with Ramen noodles, some pork, brocolli, ginger, garlic, orange juice, and nama shoyu stir fried together…. and oh it was yummy.  After supper, my husband leaned over and kissed me while whispering sweetly “…good job honey”….

I feel quite accomplished with all the baby steps I’ve been learning to become more self sufficient.   I am humbled but I also realize I need to keep an open mind because there are so many more things I have to learn!  For now though, I’m going to savor this lovely day of homemade goodness….

 

Natural Home October 9, 2008

 

Well, after giving up many disposables and replacing them with reusable items we then gradually went to cleaning supplies.  I grabbed a crate and filled it up with all the cleaning supplies and gave them away.

I have to admit this wasn’t a hard one for me to do.  I was one of those people that would get migraines from using bleach, would need to have the windows open and ventilation fans on whenever I was trying to clean and could feel the chemicals burning my skin as I scrubbed away the germs. 

I still to this day can’t believe how many cleaners I had.  We had one for every job and needless to say that cleared up alot of space under the sinks!  We now truly only use a few natural cleaning ingredients.  You can learn more about their uses here, and an even more lengthy list of natural cleaners here.  Vinegar is our standard cleaner that has replaced everything! For windows, we use straight white vinegar and wipe with newspapers. For scrubbing the counter, sinks, tubs, and toilet, I use vinegar with a washcloth.  You could also use baking soda and play with essential oils.  Tea tree oil is known for it’s natural anti-bacterial power and lavender for it’s calming scent.  For a multipurpose cleaner we just fill a spray bottle 1/4 way with white vinegar and then top it off with water.  This is a very simple, basic, and highly effective concoction!

I use a natural soap for washing dishes and I also make a homemade laundry detergent using natural cleaners.  There are lots of recipes out there, but this is one that seems to work for us. 

Powdered Laundry Detergent

1 Cup Grated Fels Naptha Soap
1/2 Cup Washing Soda
1/2 Cup Borax
(For light load, use 1 tablespoon.  For heavy or heavily soiled load, use 2 tablespoons.)
I love how simple this has made our lives.  We’re not out buying all sorts of different products to “clean” our home.  I love the fact that I feel completely comfortable having Jonathan and Shian help me with cleaning.  And by using natural ingredients you will not only be making inexpensive cleaners (I’m saving an estimated $185 annually), you will also realize they are just as effective without the light headed, sick to your stomach, migraine side effects!  🙂
 

The Disposable Choice October 8, 2008

In my first post I spoke of us trying to make changes that will lessen our footprint on Mother Earth.  I would like to share some of the things we have been doing differently since making that decision.

Over the past couple of years we have been trying to get rid of our disposables.  It’s funny how odd you feel when you go against mainstream!  Even family members can have a hard time accepting that you are not using paper plates!  🙂  But, I have always felt a little different, so what’s new!  Here is a list of things that we have chose to change so far!  The list is ever evolving as we are a work in progress!

Paper Plates:  We use our Pfaltzgraff dinnerware set that we bought at a garage sale.  Wash, dry, and they are ready to go for next time!  We even have a stainless steel camping set of plates and cups that we can take with us!

Plasticware:  I hate plasticware.  It just doesn’t hold up.  I’d rather use the silverware my in-laws purchased for us for Christmas any day!

Paper Napkins:  We hardly ever used them, but now I have some homemade cloth napkins that we use occassionally!

Paper Towels:  I have to admit we do keep one roll in the kitchen in case one of the dogs has an accident, but we now have a huge stash of hand towels in the kitchen that we use for a little bit of everything.  (Hint:  dark colors don’t show stains as well!)

Disposable Diapers:  My daughter just started potting training when we added this one to the list so we switched out all of the disposable pullups to cloth training underwear.  I’m so glad we chose to do this one.  It amazes me how much we were throwing away…in the trash and out of our pocketbook. 

Toilet Paper:  The boys in our family haven’t tried this one yet, but my daughter and I have made a huge dent in our toilet paper use and expense per week by using cloth family wipes.  I made our family wipes out of flannel and terry cloth and they are so soft and refreshing!  I actually dread having to use toilet paper now because it is so crumbly and icky!  For those of you out there that aren’t getting the just of it all, just keep reading!  🙂

You take a wipe (dry for pee, wet for poo) and wipe as usual.  Instead of flushing it down the drain we throw ours in a waterproof container to be washed.  Simple!  We do obviously keep a roll of regular toilet paper in the bathroom for the boys and guests, but just us girls making the switch has made a huge difference…give it a try!!!

Femanine Personals:  I chose to not use tampons and pads anymore.  They were always uncomfortable so the swtich was easy for me.  I started using the The Diva Cup.   For those of you out there that are not comfortable with this idea please keep an open mind here.  Be informed and research what exactly goes into your tampons, (for all products really).  I guess what I’m trying to say here is don’t judge someone on their decisions; make informed decisions for yourself.  🙂  And be happy with them!  This has been a work in progress.  I didn’t make a change until I was comfortable with it myself, and only for myself. 

Paper and Plastic Grocery Bags:  We have several reusable bags that we carry with us.  Now a days, most of the stores are carrying cheap bags that you can buy for less than a dollar and they will reduce the amount of plastic bags used drastically!  Remember, every little bit helps!  I’m not perfect by any means, and this particular one is one that we really do need to buckle down on because we do forget our reusable bags.

Wrapping Paper:  We tried this last Christmas by making a few simple cloth drawstring bags to put gifts into.  It was so easy and such a hit with family.  I actually had to convince some of them to let me have the bags back so they could receive something next year!  tehehehee.  And did I mention cleanup was a snap!!! So after Christmas last year I bought clearanced fabric to make more gift bags this year!  I can’t wait!  This isn’t limited to Christmas however, you can make/buy bags to use for any gift giving occassion.  I love it!

So far to date, making the decision to eliminate as many disposables as possible has been a wonderful experience.  Our family is producing less trash and has been conservatively saving money.

We are still learning though and welcome any advice!  We just urge you to try just one on our list and see if it works out for you.  We added to our list as we become more comfortable with the idea of it all and that has helped us tremendously!

Please, take time to evaluate your options and choose reusable today!

Thanks for stopping by and have a beautiful day!

Jes

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