Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year Aspirations 2013

Every year I make a list of things that I would like to complete by the end of the year.  This helps me to keep motivated even though some of the things on my list do not get completed.

Last year’s aspirations were quite lengthy. I was able to accomplish some of the list but not all of it. 

This year, I am going to keep my aspirations simple and attainable.

::Read the 1 Year Bible  

::Lose 25 lbs and be more mindful of my health

::Read 24 books
::Learn about medicinal herbs
::Minimalize wardrobe and buy new (to me) clothes that flatter by body type (Dress Your Best )

::Do not take in any more critters!

::Learn how to save our own seeds
::Expand the garden to be able to preserve more
::Make a chicken garden to feed the chickens self-sufficiently throughout the year
::Grow herbs for medicinal purposes

::Pay down (at least) $10,000 principal on the mortgage

What are your aspirations for 2013?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Repurposing Christmas Cards

I absolutely love the beautiful pictures and creativeness of Christmas cards.  Each year, I have a handful that I fall in love with and I hate to see them go when Christmas is over.  There are a few ways that I am now repurposing Christmas cards that I receive.


I write to our Compassion child regularly.  Sometimes, instead of writing her a message through their online site, I like to send a physical card.  If a Christmas card does not have writing on the front cover, I cut the card in half, write a little note for Anabel and put a postcard stamp on it to send it off.  This way, not only do I get to enjoy the postcard for some weeks, our Compassion child is able to enjoy it as well. 

**Please note that in order to use a postcard stamp, the card cannot be any larger than 4.25" x 6".

Frame It!

We keep our Christmas decorating to a minimum, but I like having a few things dispersed throughout the house.  Picture frames are available for $0.10-$0.50/each at flea markets and garage sales.  When I find one that I like, I snatch it up and display the holiday cards in the picture frame.  The great part is, on the “Happy Holidays” cards, I can leave them out until February before putting them away for the season (or taking them out and using as post cards for next year!)

Original Card

New Winter Decoration

Gift Tags

I found a website that shows how one person recycles their Christmas cards into gift tags for the next year!  What a great money-saving idea.

Source : A Spoon Full of Sugar Designs

Do you recycle the gift cards you receive each year?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Todd and I wanted to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Intentionally Uncommitted

Everyone has 168 hours a week.  I don’t know about you, but out of those 168 hours, I work 42.5 hours, travel 10 hours and sleep at least 56 hours.  I am very particular about what I do with the remaining 59.5 hours of my week.

It seems like everyone we know is always busy:  they have social lives taking up much of their time and energy from Monday through Sunday.  Todd and I are quite the opposite.

Todd and I attempt to keep our calendars open as much as possible.  To be honest, we don’t even keep a calendar due to the lack appointments we keep.  Our lives are so laid back that all the dates I need to remember are kept in my head…many times no more than 2-3 weeks out.  Not having a social life means we have more time with one another.

Admittedly, I am the one in the relationship who is always trying to make friends with other couples to go out and do things with once in a while.  We schedule times and meetings with our friends every few months and for us, that is enough.  I love my friends and family, but we do not feel we need to “hang out” with them every week.  My favorite thing to do with friends and family is to have them over for a meal or go over to their house, sit and talk.  We have one set of friends who like to do some of the same things we do (and they are frugal too!), so we go on nature walks, get ice cream, play board games and have a good time chatting. 

Since we started dating, Todd has been made aware how important family dinners are to me.  Nearly every dinner we eat together is sitting at the dining room table together with nothing other than great meals and the two of us talking about our day and our plans.  By having a sit-down dinner every single night, it doesn’t leave much time for extracurricular activities during the week after work.  To be honest, I enjoy life more this way. 

We consciously have to keep in mind what is important to us (spending time with one another) and say “no” to those activities that would take away from the little time we do have together each week. 

Are you intentionally uncommitted with your time?
I would love to hear about why you have decided to live this way as well.

This post is linked up to Intentional Me.

Monday, December 17, 2012


It is a little known secret that at work, my nickname is Midge.  It is an inside joke because I had a vendor call me from another country and ask for “Midgin.”  Lucky for me, it was one of the sales reps that took the call and the nickname has stuck ever since. (Please note the sarcasm.)

My coworkers think I am absolutely crazy for all of the things we do in our family.  I have been told by a friend that he is creating a new term for people like me and it is called Midgilists.  What kind of person is a Midgilist?  Someone who goes above and beyond to find ways to do everyday tasks for little or no money.  He is pretty much telling me that I’m cheaper than cheap.

I asked him why he felt this way, and he fired back with about a dozen of the following things I have done over the years.  When I thought about it, I added to his list just to give you an idea what a Midgilist does:

  • Raise chickens for eggs
  • Raise chickens for meat
  • Going no ‘poo
  • Researching (and still considering) bamboo as a renewable heat source
  • Research solar panels and windmills (and ways to make them ourselves for less!)
  • Grow a garden
  • Cut our own hair
  • I touch up my roots using hydrogen peroxide (for pennies a month)
  • Plant perennial fruits, vegetables and herbs
  • Crochet some of my own sweaters
  • Create a chicken garden to help cut the costs of chicken feed
  • Breed mealworms as a food source for our chickens
  • Harvest mealworm poop to fertilize the garden areas (a new infatuation of mine)
  • Make homemade vanilla
  • Brew our own beer/wine
  • Can the overabundance of apples
  • Make homemade jams
  • Freeze vegetables to consume throughout the winter
  • Make our own soap
  • Convert our vehicle (Kia Rondo) into a mini-camper
  • Do our own oil changes and car maintenance
  • Home improvements using recycled materials
  • Cancelling the satellite and installing an antenna instead (we get over 30 channels now, by the way!)
  • Homemade laundry detergent (a new recipe for our HE )
  • Homemade dishwasher detergent (another new recipe)
…and the list keeps going on and on.  Until I sat down and thought about all of these things, I completely forgot we do most of them!  We do these tasks on such a regular basis that it is second-nature to us and we don’t feel it is really out of the ordinary.

There are some people who are preppers and others are survivalists…but I’m a Midgilist and I’m OK with that.  I am proud to be thrifty and willing to put some elbow-grease into whatever we do to help save money and become self-sufficient.  There is much more we could do to improve on our Midgilism in the upcoming years.

Until then, may the Midgilists unite!

(I know there are a few of you out there. J)

This post is lined to the Farm Girl Blog Fest.


Monday, December 10, 2012

The Gift-Less Christmas 2012

I have read about people not giving gifts on Christmas but it never really happened in our family…until this year. 

I enjoy thinking about and purchasing gifts for people.  I am known to purchase a gift for Christmas on January 5th and stash it away to give 11 ¾ months later.  This year has been quite the opposite.

I have a hard enough time wrapping my head around the fact that it is cold outside let alone that Christmas is right around the corner.  Originally, I had planned to do more gifts of experience with family, which we will still do; however, it will not be in the form of a gift for Christmas this year but something that we carry out throughout the year together.

I think it all started back in May when hubby and I went to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon for our 5 year wedding anniversary. I was completely astonished by the amount of consumption that went on by vacationers and then again in October when I went to Disney with my mom, brother and niece.  These two trips really changed the way Todd and I look at consumerism.

According to the Merriman-Webster Dictionary, Consumerism is defined as:
the theory that an increasing consumpion of goods is economically desirable; also: a preoccupation with and an inclination toward the buying of consumer goods

We have been advising friends and family since June that we are not going to buy into the consumerism mentality of Christmas.  To date, we have done pretty well with it.  I will admit that we do have gifts for my two niece’s who are 4 and 6, but they are simple and practical (which is the only gift they ever get from Auntie M anyway). 

There are people who feel that we are doing this because we are cheap and don’t want to spend money; however, that couldn’t be further from the truth.  Yes, we are frugal, but I love nothing more than thinking about and giving gifts to others. We have decided that instead of giving once or twice a year, we will be giving to our family and friends throughout the entire year and committing to spending quality time together as the year progresses.  In my opinion (and that is only what this is,) I don’t feel Christmas is (or should be) about the gifts.

I want to leave a lasting memory on my friends and family of love, loyalty, laughter, experiences and collective time with one another.  These are the memories that last a lifetime. 

Frugal Babe wrote an article last year (and another just last week) entitled Christmas Our Way where she explains what they do for Christmas each year. 

What are your thoughts on a giftless Christmas?
Have you cut down on your gift-giving this year?  I would like to hear about it!

DISCLAIMER:  This is something my husband and I have discussed extensively over the past several months.  Each family is different and we do not oppose other’s beliefs in gift-giving.  As I always say, “To each his own.”  

Friday, December 7, 2012


I feel like I write about the same topics over and over again.  I would really like to connect with you, the reader of Sparing-Change.  Is there anything you have always wondered about our lifestyle or why we do some of the (crazy) things we do you would like answered?

I am open to answering any questions you may have here on the blog or personally through email.

Please feel free to contact me at any time at:  sparingchange (at) or comment below.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Making A Few Extra Bucks

I am the worst sales person ever.  We couldn’t sell ice cream in the Sahara.  We pretty much give our stuff away at garage sales.  Over the past several weeks, we have had good success using Craigslist to sell some of our unwanted clutter and furniture. 

One item in particular was our old water softener and water filtration system that came with the house.  We struggled with this system and still couldn’t drink water from the tap after trying to get it to work properly for 3 years so we bought a whole new system that works great!  We were able to sell the name brand water softener and filtration system for $50 which is what we listed the sale price as on Craigslist.  The best part is that the gentleman who bought it acted like it was the “deal of the year” and we were happy to get rid of it without throwing it away!  The gentleman owns several rental properties that have these systems in them and will use it for parts.  Win-Win!

If you have anything you are looking to get out of your house before the holidays, I highly suggest listing it on Craigslist.  I haven’t had success with getting rid of books I’ve accumulated over the years so those will go to the library and some tchotchkes were given away for free. 

Do you use Craigslist often to sell your unwanted items?
Do you buy from Craigslist often?  


Monday, December 3, 2012

What I Learned While Butchering Chickens

The weekend before Thanksgiving Todd and I were butchering our 4 month old roosters.    The main reason we were butchering one of them was because it had been crowing for over a week and I didn’t want the neighbors to shut down “Operation Meat Birds” we’ve taken on this year.  We decided to butcher 3 of the chickens I was pretty confident were roosters because we didn’t want to take the chance of having another one start crowing in the next few weeks.  We butchered the 3 most mature roosters leaving one to breed with the hens in the spring.

The 3 Roosters We Butchered
The Black One Was the Crower

I wasn’t sure if we would be able to butcher the chickens ourselves, but we both did just fine.

I have posted these links before, but I will post them again to anyone who wants to learn how to process some of their own flock. 

Part 1
Part 2 

I will be completely up-front and honest with you: the worst part was the first 2 minutes.  The head came off within seconds but what the video above didn’t prepare us for was the flailing of the wings that took place for over a minute.  I stood there watching in horror wondering if we did something wrong.  I will also tell you I will never be the one to cut off the chicken’s head.

After the wings stopped flapping, the rest of the process was pretty straight forward.  Dunk the chicken into water at 140-160 degrees for about 30 seconds to loosen the feathers.  Cool the chicken off in cold water, and start taking the feathers off.  This takes about 10 minutes when doing it by hand.

After removing the feathers, it is time to take the esophagus out which takes no more than 5 minutes.  After the esophogus is the removal of the innards and to cut off the feet which takes about 5-10 minutes.

Overall, it took us about 3 hours to process 3 chickens; however, we stopped for lunch in-between and took several breaks.  I would say it would take 20-30 minutes from start to finish if you were on a roll.

Two of the 3 Processed Chickens
(The yellow is because we had the water too hot when de-feathering this chicken.)

The question I always ask when we are doing something like this is: Is it worth it?

I cannot honestly answer this question with a definitive yes or no.  To save money: probably not.  To eat organically and locally: definitely!  We have not yet cooked up any of the chicken, so I couldnt tell you if there is a difference in taste.

It takes time to process the chicken, but I am happy knowing the chickens had a great life of roaming the yard eating bugs and vegetable scraps in their short 4 months here on earth. 

We will definitely be doing this again in the future; however, we will try to plan the processing in warmer weather.

It really is eye-opening to see how an animal goes from roaming around the yard to prepared for dinner.  I would recommend it for anyone interested in learning about how food is processed as well as for those looking to eat more locally. 

This post has been linked up to: