Thursday, June 30, 2011

Prepare to Link Up : Your City and State

I took Lana (our 13 month old, 60 lb puppy) for a really long walk last weekend around what we call our "country block."  This block is over 3 miles, so needless to say, I had alot of time to think.  I love to travel and learn about different towns and what they have to offer.  And then I had an "a-ha" moment. 

On Friday, July 15th, I will post a blog about the city we live.  In the post, I will have pictures of what our town has to offer, facts, population, pictures, and sights to see.  The title will be: Newton Falls, OH 44444 (yes, this is our zip code.)

I am telling you this now so you can get the word out on your blog and we can all come together on the 15th to show each other our zip codes through links!  The linky will be active through the end of July. Also, this will hopefully give all of us plenty of time to get some pictures and gather facts (that we may not have even known) about the city/town we live.  It would be like traveling, without all the expense!

I hope to see everyone's links in two weeks!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Green Zone: Deoderant Rock

Back in July of 2010, I had this overwhelming feeling that I wanted to prevent myself from getting breast cancer any way I could.  It was an intuition of sorts.  I started to drink “green smoothies” and learned about aluminum in the typical deodorant I used.  A month later, I found out my grandmother had breast cancer.

After researching deodorant rocks, I found stores online that sold them.  The price was a bit expensive, especially since I get my deodorant for $0.50 - $1.00 each when on sale and with double coupons.  Todd and I decided to try our local health food store to see if they may have one, and sure enough, they did.  I bought it and haven’t turned back since. 

I absolutely love the deodorant rock!  It doesn’t have a scent, but it works, which is all I really need!  I usually apply the rock to my under arms immediately after I get out of the shower.  The first weekend I had it, I wanted to test and see how long it would last.  It was two days and then I had to get a shower and reapply.  That’s not bad for July heat! 

I have always had sensitive underarms.  This product does not irritate my arms one bit, even after shaving.  I have read articles about people who bought one to use for stinky feet, which I thought was interesting.

The only thing that may be awkward at first with the deodorant rock is that it is not an antiperspirant.  Your underarms will still be wet when you sweat; however, there is no bad odor!  Another thing I like about it is that there are no more deodorant stains on my clothes.

I paid a little over $7.00 for my deodorant rock, but we are almost to the one year mark and it does not appear to have gotten any smaller since I bought it.  I did drop it once and it chipped a little off a corner, but it is still a very nice sized rock.  I look forward to using it for as long as it will last.  It may eventually end up being less expensive than “regular deodorant.”  To me, the cost was not an issue (even though I am a natural tight-wad!) I am striving to become healthier and creating new habits that will prevent illness and extend my life.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Bible in 90 Days Starting July 11th

I have decided to join in the Official Bible in 90 Days Session starting July 11, 2011!  I have never been through the Bible, but I'm looking forward to making a commitment to get through it by October!  If you would like to join in, please go to Mom's Toolbox and sign up.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


With the beautiful weather, our life seems to get more and more hectic.  We have more engagements with friends and family, working on the house(s), playing in the garden, picking the never-ending weed population, walking the dog, playing with the chickens and general upkeep.

I mentioned to Todd that I was feeling overwhelmed, and he brought up a great point: I spend too much time online. I also noticed something else: I watch too much TV.

I have decided that life is more important than keeping up with blog hops (though I love them!), Facebook, message boards and email.  Yes, I will still check them, but only Friday through Sunday and only when I have the time. 

What do I plan to accomplish by doing this?
  • Create and stick with a cleaning schedule
  • Spend quality time with hubby and the “farm”
  • Read (The 90 Day Bible Session will start July 11th!)
  • Cook more meals (instead of making the basics)
  • Get the weeds under control in the flower beds and garden!
  • Take some of the work-load of daily house chores off of Todd
  • Exercise (more walks with the puppy)
  • Relax

I have a week’s worth of blogs to pre-post this weekend and then I will “unplug” starting Monday.  Of course, I will be thinking about the blog and will hopefully have much more content now that I am outside and living life!  I am anxious to see how much I can achieve with the laptop and TV turned off.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Frugal Finds

Todd and I love to go to flea markets and garage sales.  This past weekend we decided to go to several garage sales looking for items I need to make Christmas Gifts.  This is what we came home with:

All said, we spent $12.85 and had a great time!  There are two items not shown:

  1. Pack of 3 medium-sized twine/branch looking decorative spheres
  2. Metal food dish (for a dog)

We gave the decorative spheres to Todd’s mom because we knew she’d love them. They were $2 with a tag from Kirkland’s showing $10!  They were still in the package, brand new.   The metal food dish was $1 and the reason it wasn’t in the picture is because it was already in use!

The other items we purchased are:
  • 10 t-shirts for $0.15/each!  Todd will use them as his work shirts.
  • Chip clip - $0.25 (this one Todd wanted – I could have done without)
  • Purse - $0.50
  • 2 vases - $0.10 for one, $0.25 for the other
  • 1 picture frame with  “Recipe for a Happy Marriage”
  • Travel Coffee Mug - $0.10 (I am using it as I type this with water in it! Love it!)
  • A bundle of silverware - $0.25 (will be used for a homemade Christmas gift)
  • 2 wooden bowls - $1
  • 3 different decorative glass knick-knacks - $0.25/each - will be made into Christmas gifts
  • Frosted teacup and saucer $0.25/each - will be made into a Christmas gift
  • Vinegar & Oil - $3.00/both  - will be made into 2 Christmas gifts
I liked the purse, so I bought it.  After we bought it, the woman stated that it was a vintage purchase that was her grandmother’s.  I was amazed because it does not show any wear: it was well taken care of!   

I will have to say that my favorite purchase of the day was (and still is) the framed “Recipe for a Happy Marriage.”  It had been a rough week in our home, and this message is exactly what we needed to remind us of the recipe.  I saw the poem first and showed it to Todd thinking he’d say “no” to me buying it.  Surprisingly, he seemed to like it as much as I did!  I plan on making several of these and giving them away as wedding gifts.  

Instead of asking about your frugal find for the week, I'd love to see them!  I am finally posting a linky and would like to see what you have found this week and how you plan on using it.

(This post is linked with Homemaker by Choice, Friday Favorites and Things I Love Thursdays.)
Rules for linking:

  1. Please use the direct link to your frugal find (not a general link to your blog)
  2.  Link back to Sparing-Change
  3. Have fun!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Did You Know...

Did you know...

Recycling one aluminum can saves enough electricity to run a TV set for three hours.

~Modern Marvels: Canning

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Dont' Be Affraid to Ask

Several weeks back, we had a problem with our satellite dish.  Out of the blue, it stopped working.  After going through Technical Support and trying everything they suggested, it was necessary for a Technician to come out to the house and look at the dish. 

While on the phone, I asked my husband to ask the Customer Service Representative for a credit for the days that our dish would be out of commission, which was 5 days.  My husband thought it was absolutely absurd that I’d ask for a credit!  With no hesitation, the Customer Service Representative put through a credit, and we were informed that we’d see our bill decreased by $12 on the upcoming billing cycle.

I feel that if we are paying for a service, the service should work with no interruption.  If there is a hiccup due to equipment failure or something that is within the company’s control (and not ours), I feel we should not have to pay for that service.  And that is exactly what happened. To Todd, it was “just $12.” 

We got an introductory rate of $35.00/month for our DSL.  After the introductory rate was over, they started charging us $55/month for the same service.  I paid the extra $20/month for the next two months until I thought about how crazy it was to pay the extra charge.  I called and informed the company that we had been a faithful customer for the past several years, and I’d really like to continue to use them as my service provider.  I also mentioned that even though I liked the service they provided, I was not afraid to start looking around for a better price.  Without having to mention it twice, the Customer Service Representative stated that she would give us the same “introductory price” for another year if we agreed to stay with them for the entire year.  I gladly obliged.  The phone call took less than 5 minutes, and we saved $240/year for our DSL service just by asking.

I have done the same thing with locking in a propane rate with the propane company we use.  This one was a little tricky, because I stated a competitor’s offering and the Customer Service Representative fought me on it (and was rude to boot.)  I was all ready to start doing business with the other propane provider in our area.  Within a few days I received a letter in the mail from the Manager of the propane company stating that they would like to continue doing business with us.  The Manager was willing to lock in our rate at a price I was willing to pay on 1,000 gallons of propane good through the month of April.  I signed the commitment and sent it back that same day.  This simple phone call (even though I had to deal with a rude Customer Service Representative) saved us over $500 this year in propane charges.

My point is that we should not feel ashamed or embarrassed to ask for better pricing or a credit when there is a service failure.  You may get a real grump on the other end of the line, but don’t let that ruin your day. It never hurts to ask!

As a side note: the $12 we saved on the satellite dish failure paid for Father’s Day gifts the week after.  

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Garden Harvest: 06/21/11

The garden is alot of work this year: the weeds are absolutely horrendous!  But, we have had some fruit/vegetables to harvest over the past week. I am making mental notes on what I'd like to do different next year, what to plant more of, etc.

Our second harvest of snow peas
The snow peas are still going strong!

Green Beans - eaten by bugs!

Eggplant - eaten by bugs!



The tiny 2 inch tall plant with a tomato on it. 

I have decided that next year, I am going to grow alot more of the snow peas.  Todd loves them, and the way I planted them, I just scattered them on the ground.  Next year, we will have a homemade trellis using metal stakes across a bed.  We will most likely have two or three rows in the bed to get as many as we can get.  The way I did it this year, it is just a messy cluster, but I'm so glad they are producing!

Now, the strawberries: I have been picking a few and eating them here and there. 

So...did you think I picked all of these berries from our measly little plants? We didnt.  I went  to a local pick-your-own farm  two weeks ago by myself and picked 9 1/2 lbs within 30 minutes.  Todd and I went again this past weekend and picked another 13 lbs.  I am looking forward to making strawberry jam for Christmas gifts and for myself! I love strawberry jam!!

On a side note, the three chickens that we have left are doing great.  They are so nice and friendly.  We are looking forward to the eggs within the next two months (hopefully!)

This post is linked up with Amy's Finer Things. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Natural Mosquito Repellants

Since moving into our home in 2007, we have had problems with mosquitoes.  We live in an area that has bedrock a couple of feet under us.  When it rains, the water has nowhere to go so it puddles in the yard.  It doesn’t help that our low spots to help accumulate and maintain standing water for days after a shower.

The mosquitoes are so bad that we leave a can of OFF! Spray close to the door.  We even bought Skin-So-Soft in bulk for our pprecious pot bellied pig because he was eaten alive every time he went outside (recommended by the vet).  I don’t like to have to rely on chemicals to keep the mosquitoes at bay.

Within a year of moving into our home, I did some research and found that bats keep mosquitoes at bay.  “How do you get bats?” you ask?  You buy a bat house, of course! It may take a couple of seasons to attract the bats, but they should come if it is installed correctly and to the correct height.  Bats can eat up to a third of their body weight every night! They don’t just eat mosquitoes though.  They eat moths, beetles and flies too!

The bat house we purchased 4 years ago was approximately $50 with shipping.  The house is pretty darn small, and no one even realizes it’s there until we point it out to them.  We purchased this little house because it stated it could hold up to 200 bats!

Even with the bat house, we still have a mosquito problem.  I plan on using SwagBucks to purchase another one or two bat houses from like the one listed above.  With those, I hope to secure on a couple of trees we have around our home.

Other ways to repel mosquitoes are to grow some of the following plants:

  • Catnip (our cats will love this!)
  • Basil
  • Rosemary
  • Lemongrass
  • Merigolds
  • Lavender
  • Garlic

I purchased a packet of each of these plants (except the garlic – I am planting garlic chives instead) and have decided to grow them around the yard.  All of these items can be planted in pots or spread around the yard to repel mosquitoes naturally. I plan on planting some in hanging baskets, in the ground, and in pots situated around the garden and all around our home! 

I love – love – love perennials! They save time and money.  Out of the list, the lavender, catnip, lemongrass and garlic are all perennials, so they will come up every year without fail!  We are taking every step possible to control the mosquito population where we live.  I will post an update in the future to let you know what we have found has worked and what has not.

Do you have any natural ways not listed to repel mosquitoes?  I want to hear about them!

This post is linked to the Barn Hop #17! Please come and join us!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

25 Weeks 'Til Christmas

I am excited to announce that starting July 4rd, Sparing Change will be hosting 25 Weeks ‘Til Christmas, a series that will run every Monday through Christmas.  With this series, fellow friends and bloggers will be posting great craft and food gift ideas to help us all prepare for the holiday season.  These gift ideas aren’t just for Christmas, they can be made for birthdays, Mother’s/Father’s Day and any special occasion! 

If you have homemade gift ideas, please feel free to contact me: I’d love to see hear about them and with your permission, post them as part of the series! 


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

We're Debt Freeeeee!!!!

I am proud to announce that for the first time in our adult lives, Todd and I are debt free except our mortgage!

We have been working since January 2010 to pay off our debts of over $26,000.  Within this process, we’ve freed up nearly $900/month in revolving debt payments!

This is what we have to show for all of our hard work over the last year and a half:

This is the house next door to our primary residence that we purchased to double our property size.  The house, though it looks decent from the front, is dilapidated on the inside.  The roof is caving in, there are foundation problems, and it is a flat out mess. We are looking forward to tearing the house down and putting up a 1 ½ - 2 car garage to use as Todd’s workshop (using cash!)

Todd test drove the Kia Rondo when they first hit the lots in 2006.  I remember him coming home talking about how much he wanted this car.  Two and a half years later, we bought one. The vehicle was purchased in 2009 (though it is 2008) as a repossessed vehicle with less than 400 miles on it.  We bought it at a nice discount, and it still had the “new car smell” to it!  It looks and drives even better now that it’s paid off!

We decided to change the front doors of our home to french doors in June of 2010: right in the beginning of our debt snowball.  Even though we love the new doors, we probably should have waited.  We put the cost of these doors on a Home Depot 0% financing payment, and paid it off before getting hit with the interest charges.

Unknown items from a credit card Todd brought into the marriage.  What “stuff” this consisted of, I couldn’t tell you, but I can tell you that I did not contribute to any of the debt on this credit card.  None-the-less, it is paid off and we are both debt free (except the mortgage) for the first time in our lives.

The next step right now is to save 3-6 months worth of expenses to use as an Emergency Fund in case anything happens.  This will be much faster and easier now that we have an extra $900/month to put toward this step. 

DISCLAIMER: I was in no way compensated or influenced to write this post.  I truly believe in the teachings of Dave Ramsey to help eliminate debt and build wealth.  I highly recommend his book, The Total Money Makeover as well as listening to his free podcast every day from iTunes. The encouragement and wisdom are priceless.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


I apologize for being MIA the past week.  It has been a crazy week and  a half here!

This is what we've been up to:

 My brother, a Marine, came home for Memorial Day weekend.  He got back earlier this year from Afghanistan and though he lives on base at Camp Lejeune, NC, it is so great to have him home throughout the year again!
 My mom came up to visit with me, my brother, and my brother's daughter, Annabelle on Friday and Saturday.  Unfortunately, this is the only picture I got of mom, but she is just as cute as always. 
 This is Annabelle, my niece.  She is a blast to be around....and so much energy! 
The minute I saw Annabelle, she asked about our chickens that she saw when they were only a few days old.  I cant believe she remembered them, but I love this picture with my brother and Annabelle feeding them cracked corn.

Monday was Memorial Day and hubby's birthday.  We went to go celebrate his 40th birthday with a BBQ at his parents house.  It was great!

Tuesday, I took off of work to give Todd his birthday surprise.  I was able to keep it a secret until we got to the airport! 

Todd got to fly a plane around Cleveland for his 40th birthday!!  I got to ride with him, and it was so fun!

Unfortunately, on Tuesday, we lost a chicken. We couldnt find her for a couple of days until I came across her feathers.  We are now down to three.

Wednesday and Thursday, hubby and I both worked.  Friday, we packed up and went to Michigan to camp with my father, step-mother and my niece, Natalie.  We had a blast.

Those are my excuses.  I'm looking to get back into a schedule within the next couple of weeks.