So What’s So Crunchy About Me?

whatssocrunchyaboutmeYou may have been wondering what could possibly be so crunchy about someone like me. I don’t ask you to buy only organic products or clean only with baking soda and vinegar. I am not a vegan. And I don’t have a mini farm in my backyard.

And yet I call myself crunchy? Well, perhaps I am redefining the term. Supporting my family on a part-time job, I realize how tough it can be to buy food, pay the bills, and generally keep things going. The pressure to buy expensive products on top of that can be too much. And yet we are pressured to do just that by society and media. Going “crunchy” is now seen as a higher calling, one that is moral and almost spiritual in nature.

However, you can incorporate some of the natural ideals while still staying in budget. That is the true focus of this blog.

Does this mean that I will always cook with whole, organic ingredients? No, it sure doesn’t. But you will see posts on whole wheat usage, solar cooking, LEDs, and the like. You will see that being frugal doesn’t necessarily mean destroying the environment and ordering freebies in the mail. Indeed, it instead means to use your resources wisely.

At middle age, I realize that I’m never going to be perfect, and I understand that life is harder than it should be. By telling the story of my progress and the lessons learned along the way, I am hoping that perhaps you can benefit, gleaning the general lessons of my approach in the process:

  • Do without.
  • Make your own.
  • Use it up.

So grab a cup of coffee and sit back. Feel free to comment, ask questions, and provide any guidance or suggestions that you might have as well. Being frugal can be a community experience, one in which we learn from each other. I welcome any knowledge that you might have to share!

Lighting Your Home with LED Holiday Lights

lightingyourhomeSeveral years ago, my husband decided that we would purchase holiday LED lights and use them for general lighting purposes in our house. He knew that it would be a cheap way to utilize the efficiency of LEDs without purchasing what were then extremely expensive LED bulbs.

I was less than enthusiastic about the idea. “What?” I asked. “Holiday lights for every day? Isn’t that a bit too festive?”

Still, we proceeded with his plan. He hooked up some lights in our bathroom and elsewhere in our house. I admit that I was immediately impressed. Although you could not read by the light of the LEDs, you could easily maneuver through the house and do most tasks. Too, one thing that I particularly appreciated was that they did not destroy your night vision, and so nightly trips to the bathroom were made much easier by LED light.

LED light strings might utilize as little as 4 watts of electricity. This is about as much energy as would take to power an old incandescent night-light and yet still provide significantly more light. Additionally, solar-charged, battery-powered lights could be used if there is an available window nearby, thus providing light even in an emergency when the power is out. Those holiday light strings are therefore much more useful and efficient than you might have thought.ledsolarlights

With the fall and winter holidays coming up, this is a perfect time to begin looking for LED holiday lights in the stores. By purchasing them on sale, you can be frugal, green, and smart. I will caution, though, that we have found it difficult to buy them after each holiday as the stores often remove them from the shelves the next morning. Too, they are becoming more popular and so harder to buy in quantity. Still, if you are eager for some LED lighting, you can almost always find them in stores during this time of year.

ledglassblockAlthough they may be a bit unconventional—at least for old fogies like myself—LED holiday lights can be a positive way to light your home year round. They provide good general lighting while consuming far less electricity than other bulbs. Too, if they are bought on sale, then they can be a frugal purchase with long-lasting benefits.

How to Make Recycled Candles in a Solar Oven

How to Make Recycled Candles in a Solar Oven

Click on the above link to learn more about using up all of those candle stubs that you have lying around the house. And by using a solar oven, you can do it all without heating up your home. Now that’s green and frugal!

Weird Ways to Save Money

Weird Ways to Save Money

Click on the link above to access an article that I wrote; it includes some tips on saving money in ways that are also environmentally friendly. I will most likely go into these more in depth on this blog, but this will provide you with some initial information on some additional methods of living frugally.

Homemade Coffee Syrup

homemadecoffeesyrupIn our home, coffee is more than a drink. It’s a ritual. We love everything about the process of making our cup of coffee, including grinding the coffee beans, preparing the coffee maker, heating the milk, and adding our favorite flavored syrups. Homemade specialty coffee can be rewarding in its own right and is certainly much cheaper than purchasing a drink at your favorite coffee place.

However, we have found that coffee syrup can be quite expensive, especially when you’re drinking multiple cups of coffee per day. Although we enjoyed the convenience, we couldn’t justify the expense. But do without it? Not unless the end really is near. Living frugally doesn’t mean that we have to do without all of life’s little pleasures.

And that is when my husband decided that he would make our coffee syrups. I thought it was a bit of a wacky idea at first, but then many of our best frugal endeavors have started out in the same fashion. He found a couple of basic recipes, including one from Paula Deen and a selection of recipes from Food & Family. These became starting points for our own syrups.

While the flavorings and spices may vary among the recipes, the same basic ratio of water to sugar seems to apply to all. Once you have discovered this, you realize that you can easily alter the recipes based on your own needs or tastes. Too making the syrups isn’t very difficult, just mix together and cook for a while. Although making these syrups at home takes a bit of effort, it really is much more frugal to do so.

vanillacoffeesyrup

One green idea of my husband’s was to heat the syrup in our solar oven. While the syrup didn’t thicken as much as it might have on the stove, it actually made the process of making it that much easier. We didn’t need to worry about it boiling over in the pot; we simply set it in the oven and forgot about it for a few hours. As with any solar cooking endeavor, though, always be aware of the outside temperature and your oven’s capabilities so that you don’t have a solar oven mishap.

Whether you’re making the coffee syrups for yourself or as a gift, it’s worth the little effort needed for the preparation. It is much easier on the budget and allows you to make your homemade specialty coffee especially for you.

signature