An Evening to Yourself

How often do you get an evening to yourself? Once a week? A month? Once every few months?

Wondering what to do? Don’t want to go out? Want to just be alone and relax?

My favorite way to pamper myself on one of those rare evenings alone is to start off with a hot bath, usually with bubbles or powdered milk added. Now, I know that we are not supposed to take hot baths, but this is the only way that I can get my body to cooperate with me enough to relax.

After I soak in the tub, shave and wash my hair, I dry off slightly and then rub lotion all over so that my skin is very soft. I braid my hair, make a cup of tea, and settle into bed for  an evening of reading.

Simple? Yes. Cheap? Yes. It does not take a lot of time in preparation, or a lot of money, to create spa moments at home. Just a little imagination, and you will come up with many ideas for pampering yourself.

My challenge to you?

Pamper yourself the next time you have at least a couple of hours to yourself.

Shannon


Yard Sale Basics, or Purchasing Necessities Cheaply

I have a process that I use to get what we need for our family, our home and things to use as gifts. (This last is going to be another post.) I begin this process just before yard sale season begins.

  1. We go through all of our clothes, selling, giving away or donating all autumn/winter and spring/summer clothes that no longer fit us. Some items may be saved for rug making/quilt making in the future. (When my daughters were younger, Skye’s outgrown items would be put away for Zowie to grow into.)
  2. We list what we will need for an entire year. (I would do this a few years ahead when my girls were younger.) This includes clothing, coats, shoes/boots and accessories.
  3. We take inventory in each room of our home, to see what we need or would like to have.
  4. We also take inventory outside and in the shed.
  5. We consider any home improvement and craft projects that we would like to do.
  6. We list school and office supplies that we can always stock up on.

After this, I list the needed and wanted items on pages listed as follows:

  1. Mom’s Room
  2. Mom’s Clothes
  3. Skye’s Room
  4. Skye’s Clothes
  5. Zowie’s Room
  6. Zowie’s Clothes
  7. Bathroom
  8. Laundry Area/Hall
  9. Kitchen
  10. Livingroom
  11. Outside
  12. Shed
  13. Craft Projects
  14. Home Improvement Projects
  15. School/Office Needs
  16. Gifts – usually a list of what each person likes, favorite colors, sizes and ideas. Now we are doing family gifts instead of individual gifts.

I then decide on what I am willing to pay, putting that price next to each item. This is not what I will necessarily pay, as I will try to get it cheaper.

I keep these lists in a notebook, which I try to keep with me at all times. This helps me to keep my priorities straight. I also try to stick to the list, but I do sometimes pick up something that I know will be useful.

Here are a few examples of what I have picked up recently:

  • I have been looking for a particular kind of phone for a couple of years now. It is a cordless with answering machine, that comes with two extra phones and bases. The good thing about this particular phone is that it does not need three phone jacks in three different rooms. Just one, and an outlet for the two other phone bases. These are expensive to purchase at a store, but I got the whole set for $5.00 at a yard sale.
  • I have spent the last few years searching out attractive, well-made fencing sections (the short ones) for outlining the flower gardens. I can usually find these for $15.00 or more per section, but I need a lot of sections. While at a yard sale this past weekend, I noticed a lot of attractive, sturdy plastic fence sections. All matching. I asked the lady selling them how much she wanted for the whole bunch, and she told me that I could have them all for $1.00!!!! I was so excited over this.
  • I keep picking up books for .10-.50 each at yard sales. This is my cheap entertainment for the coming winter.

I hope that this is helpful for everyone.

Shannon


The Basics of Frugal Living

On Living the Low-Income Life, I get many questions about how I actually go about living frugally. In all honesty, it is all written in the posts on the blog. In this article, I will condense it all down to my top ten basics of frugal living tips.

  1. Yard Sale. Do this only after figuring out everything that you need for each member of your family, and your home. Write it all down, and keep the list with you. (There is another post on this topic.)
  2. Use dollar stores for everything that you can, as well as clearance sales.
  3. Use homemade rags for cleaning, made from your old yucky looking kitchen and bathroom towels and cloths.
  4. Use cloth diapers and make your own baby food.
  5. Never buy paper towels, and only use cloth napkins.
  6. Keep your thermostat between 55* and 65* during the cold months.
  7. Cook frugally. (There is another post on this topic.)
  8. Buy at thrift stores, especially church ones.
  9. Always have a lot of blankets handy, as well as warm socks, slippers and robes, during the winter months.
  10. Do everything you can to lower your utility bills.

There are obviously many other things that you can do to live more frugally. Check out Living the Low-Income Life and other blogs and web sites for more ideas.

Shannon


The Basics of Frugal Cooking

There are some basic things that we all need to know if we want to be able to cook frugally for our families. There are also varying degrees of frugality, depending on how healthy you intend to cook. I will cover both of these degrees in this article.

I would like to introduce you to my frugal top ten list:

  1. I use pasta a lot.
  2. I use rice a lot.
  3. I freeze all leftovers.
  4. My freezer has a container for leftover vegetables.
  5. My freezer has a container for leftover meats.
  6. My freezer has a container for fruit pieces.
  7. I love to make homemade bread items.
  8. I use mostly store brand items.
  9. I use coupons only when I will really save money.
  10. I purchase relatively few items in bulk; mainly baking needs.

I can do this with white, overly processed foods when I have to, but to make these steps healthier, I try to use as many whole grains as possibles. Not enriched white or wheat, but 100% whole wheat and grain items. I also use brown rice, cooked in vegetable stock, or liquid from cooking vegetables.

The Healthy Hillbilly Housewife is a great place to find affordable recipes, as is Frugal Recipes. You will find many frugal, healthy recipes at both sites that you can easily incorporate into your menu planning.

Shannon


Single Moms and Frugality

It is very important for me to live a frugal life. I am sure that it is just as important for many of you to live frugally as it is for me. It is, for some of us, a way of life. This article has been put together for all of you as an introduction to a number of (near) future articles on living the single (and parental) life frugally. I know that it will be helpful to many of you.

That said, here are some links to wonderful blogs and web sites that have been created to help families that want (or need) to live frugally.

  1. Living the Low-Income Life: This is another blog that I created for the specific purpose of helping low-income families and individuals. You will find many ideas here, as well as a Create a Pantry Challenge and information on food preservation.
  2. Frugal Recipes: Also mine. Some of the recipes are child friendly. I recently posted useful lunch box ideas.
  3. Living on a Dime: You will find wonderful books and articles on this site that will be very helpful.
  4. Homemade Household Cleaners: Not only will this save you a lot of money, but it will also help you to provide a healthier environment for you to raise your children in.
  5. Healthy Hillbilly Housewife: This is an excellent site that I highly recommend.

The links above are the five best links that I have found (and created) at this point. I will let you know if I find any others. You will find some of the best advice available for living frugally through these links. I hope that you enjoy them.

Be on the lookout for further frugality articles on this blog, coming your way soon.

Shannon


Walking Photography

A great way to spend time as a family is during a walk. Not only are you hanging out together, but you are also getting exercise. So, how can you make a walk even better?

By photographing what you see along the way.

All members of your family, except for the youngest of children, can take part in this. Children will learn new photography skills as they get older and, if you are no photographer, they will likely be able to teach you a thing or two.

My daughters know more about using my digital camera than I do, but I am learning. If I don’t understand something, they can usually show me what to do.

Do you need a digital camera? No. Especially if your children are young. A 35 millimeter will do just fine.

If this idea appeals to you, then why not take walks along different paths each time. Then you can get an assortment of pictures.

You can go about the sharing of the camera in a couple of ways. You can all take turns on your walk, or you can take turns by one of you using the camera during each walk. For example, your son can be the photographer on Monday, your daughters can be on Tuesday, and you can be on Wednesday.

In a future post, I will tell you what you can do with the pictures that your family takes.


Family Game Time

Over the years, we have played many games together. Sometimes the players have been my daughters and I, and other times we have had company.

Children generally love to play games, and it is a good idea to have an assortment for them to choose from.

When my daughters were little, we would play different games than we do now. Children learn new skills each time you intorduce a new game to them, whether you are playing board games, card games, or another type of game.

These games have been our favorites at different ages.

Babies/Toddlers:

Peek-A-Boo

Patty Cake

Young Children:

Puppet Shows

Chutes and Ladders

Memory Games

Go Fish

Charades

Kindergarten and Up:

War (card game)

UNO

SkipBo

Monopoly

Life

The Ungame

Scrabble

Checkers

Pictionary

Middle School to Adult:

Boggle

Who Wants to be a Millionaire

Mystery at Hogwarts

Rummy

Tri Bond

Mad Gab

Trivial Pursuit

Jeopardy (homemade version)

Let’s Make a Deal

***Different children will learn new skills at different rates. Only you can judge what games your child is ready for.


Fresh Fruit Cocktail

Older children can help you cut up the fruits below, but younger children will need help. If children are too young, you will want to cut the fruits up for them.

Fruits are very nutritious, and they are low in calories, which makes this recipe a great snack idea. It could also be used as a side dish for a main meal.

**If children are very small, you will want small fruit cubes.

Ingredients:

20 grapes

1 large apple, cored

1 large banana, peeled

20 cherries

1 peach, chopped

1 pear, chopped

1. Cut the grapes in half, or in quarters.

2. Cube the apple.

3. Slice the bananas.

4. Cut the cherries in half.

5. Cube the peach.

6. Cube the pear.

7. Combine everything in a bowl.


Berry Parfait

This recipe will require two or three different types of berries. Berries are very good for you. Here are some nutritional facts about different berries:

Blackberries:

Less than 75 calories per cup, blackberries have many nutrients including potassium, protein, calcium, vitamins A and D, and iron.

Blueberries:

Less than 82 calories per cup, blueberries have many nutrients including potassium, calcium, vitamins A, B-6, E and C, and riboflavin.

Strawberries:

Less than 46 calories per cup, strawberries have many nutrients including potassium, niacin, folate, iron and vitamins A, B-6 and C.

Berry Parfait

Ingredients:

berries (the three choices above are a great combination)

low-fat vanilla yogurt

fancy sundae cups

(Amounts will depend on how big the cups are.)

1. Place chopped strawberries in the bottom of the cup.

2. Add some yogurt.

3. Add blackberries.

4. Add yogurt.

5. Add blueberries.

6. Top with more yogurt.


Easy Insect Mobile

Another easy craft for children. Young children will need help with cutting.

Materials:

foam sheets or scraps in various colors

markers

scissors

string

a stick

hole punch

1. Have your child draw insects on the foam pieces. Be sure that the insects are big enough for hole punching.

2. The insects should now be cut out.

3. Punch a hole at the top of each insect.

4. Have your child color each insect.

5. Cut string into varying lengths.

6. Tie one end of each piece of string to one insect, then tie the other end of the string to the stick.

7. Tie one end of another piece of string to the top – middle of the branch, and make a loop for hanging at the other end of the string.

8. Hang the mobile where you child can see it each day.