Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Easy Ways to Save Money: Repair What You Have!

A few weeks ago, I spray washed the patio and the patio furniture. (Spray washing is a must in the south, both the patio and the patio furniture get mold on them. Spray washing with a power washer is the only way to remove it.) I don't find it necessary to spray wash the patio every year, every other year seems to do fine. Same with the patio furniture. However, this year was the year to do both.

My patio furniture is wood. It has also been a bit rickety for the past few years. I wasn't sure it was going to survive the spray washing!  When I finished, this is what I had for one of the chairs.

Two of the slats that formed the seat fell off! In addition, the front piece disintegrated in front of me! Well, it is to be expected, wood doesn't last a long time in the humidity here. And, these chairs are 21 years old. (They have been repaired and repainted a few times over those 21 years.) Is it finally time to purchase new ones? Well, I was thinking it was (and getting excited about having new furniture!) That is, until I went back out an inspected both chairs after they dried. If repaired and repainted again, they could last another two to three years. I could hear my great- grandmothers saying to me "Use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without!" As much as I wanted new furniture, I resisted and decided to repair what I had instead. 

The first step was to replace what was missing. My husband cut some replacement pieces from extra wood we had left over from another project. These were simple straight cuts, nothing fancy or hard. While he was doing that, I decided the two slats that fell off when washing, could still be used. I used new finishing nails to reattached them back onto the chair. I am not sure they are sturdy enough to last three years, but if needed we will cut additional pieces at a later date and replace them. For now, the chairs are no longer rickety, the new pieces eliminated that. So, here is what we ended up with before painting.

It was now time to paint. (I had to paint the chairs in the garage because thunderstorms were forecasted for that evening. As you can see in the background, Molly was helping me.) I had some redwood stain that I purchased a few years ago at the home improvement store and never used. It was on sale and I knew I would use it some time in the future! Everything on our patio is wood and it all needs to be repainted every few years. I try very hard to have everything we need on hand for everyday living. When you determine the time to purchase items, you can wait until they go on sale. With just a bit of planning, you should never have to pay full price for anything! Anyway, here is what I purchased.

Two coats later, here are the wood chairs.

I also repainted the table between the chairs. That didn't need any repair, just repainting. That table is 20 years old. Next up is the steps to the hot tub. One of the sets of legs fell apart when I spray washed it!

Would I really like new patio furniture? Yes, I would!  While I do want new furniture, spending money to purchase it pains me! I simply can't do it while the furniture I have can be repaired to last just a few more years. Being frugal over the long term is more important then the few weeks of gratification you will get from the new furniture. As Dave Ramsey often says, "If you live like no one else, then later, you can live like no one else!"

Monday, July 28, 2014

Seeking Out the Names of Your Ancestors

I post about family history regularly on this blog. That is because it is a subject near and dear to me. I believe it is important for everyone (especially children) to know about their family and where they came from. My Church is very involved in creating convenient, easy ways you can find your ancestors. Unlike, Find My or My, access to all records stored by the church are free. So, where do you go to find this information? Why,, of course! 

Click on the Search drop down menu at the top of the page and select Records. Enter the name(s) of the ancestors you know to find the ones you don't. Marriage records are a big help here. Most states (and countries) require the names of parents for anyone asking for a marriage license. This is a great way to find new people you didn't know about!

If you have been to the web site before and were unable to locate anyone, let me assure you new records are added all the time! If you haven't been to the web site in a few months, then millions more records have been added. 

Let me give you an example. Last Monday, Family Search wanted to break a record by having over 50,000 people index records in one day. (Indexing is taking digital images of paper records and then keying the information from those records into a database.) I participated in this record breaking event! I am thrilled to say that so did  66,510 other people. We all helped to break the old record of 49,025 indexers participating on one day. The best part of this news is that over 4 million new records have been added to the database. That is 4 million records in one day! Millions and millions of new records are added each year!

Now, lest you think these records are all from the US, let me assure you they are not! Recently, records have been added from Mexico, Argentina, Japan, Canada, Croatia, Peru, Poland, Brazil, England, Germany, Isle of Man, Netherlands, and the United States. Current indexing projects include records from Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Columbia, Ecuador, Canada, Germany, Spain, France, Honduras, Italy, Mexico, Hungary, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Peru, Poland, Portugal, South Africa, Sir Lanka, Sweden, England, Uruguay, Ukraine, Russia, and the United States. WOW! When I say billions of records are currently available, I really mean it!

All of this is done for free. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints will never charge money for you to see any of this work. No matter your religious affiliation, the Church wants everyone to know who their ancestors are! Take some time this week to get to know yours!

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has a FREE web site that you can use to help you locate your ancestors: This web site has all sorts of tutorials and on-line help if you don't know where to start. It has records from all over the world! Anyone, from anywhere in the world with an Internet connection, can access this site to search for their deceased family members. If you want even more help, stop by the family history center at your local church. You do not have to be a church member to use your local family history center. There are family history centers in almost every country in the world!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Easy Ways to Save Money: Clean With Vinegar!

This seems like a 'no brainer' to me. Cleaning with vinegar (and baking soda) is the cheapest, most effective way to clean anything! Boy, will it save you money over commercial cleaning products!

I use vinegar to clean all over my house.  Get some spray bottles at the big box store (label them so you know what is in it) and store it just as you would any commercial cleaner. Mine live under my kitchen sink. Here are some of the ways you can use vinegar and eliminate the cost of commercial cleaning products:

Windows, counter tops, kitchen table, and other general cleaning needs: one part vinegar and one part water. Spray and wipe.

Kitchen sink: sprinkle baking soda (just as you would commercial cleaner) and then spray a few squirts of vinegar and water. Scrub with a sponge.

Shower stall, bathtub, toilet and other bathroom surfaces: Mix vinegar with some dish washing soap, spray and let it sit for a few hours. Wipe clean. (You can see more details on how to make this cleaner and clean your bathroom with it here.)

Laundry: Use vinegar (full strength) in the rinse cycle in place of fabric softener.

Dish washing rinse aid: Let your rinse aid dispenser completely empty and then fill it with vinegar (full strength).

Garbage disposal: Freeze some vinegar in ice cube trays, put a couple of cubes in the garbage disposal and turn it on.

Round Up replacement: OK, this isn't really a cleaning product, but it is a chemical you don't have to purchase! Spray the weed with vinegar (full strength). Works great for weeds that crop up between sections of concrete or in your landscaping.

When you run out of a cleaning product, instead of purchasing a new bottle, replace it with vinegar! You will get a safe, chemical free, effective cleaner that will save you money!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Peaches, Peaches, Everywhere!

It is peach season here in the south and today my husband and I went to our local peach orchard to pick up our year's supply of peaches. (Our yard isn't big enough to have our own peach trees.) Don't they just look delicious!

This is the start of a new year of peach cobbler, peach smoothies, peach ice cream and peaches on morning cereal! Not to mention, eating them fresh while they last! Yum!

Normally, I can about 2 bushels of peaches each year. So, any guesses what I will be doing next week?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I Am Taking Some New Classes!

I have been having a lot of fun this year doing things just for me! Target practice, Zumba, tap dancing and hula dancing! (I posted about this earlier this year too, can see that post here.)

Well as an update from my last post, let me tell you that when the weather started to warm up in April, I stopped the tap dancing lessons. It was a very long drive to get to the dance studio and I was getting tired of the drive. Besides, garden season was here and I knew I wouldn't miss it.

Hula dancing is on a summer break so, a few weeks ago I started mixing up my Zumba classes with some water aerobics and yoga.  I I have been having more fun then I ever thought possible. I should have done this years ago!

I am now excited to start a new class that will bring an opportunity to serve at my church. Tomorrow, I am going to start ASL(American Sign Language) classes! We have a quite a few deaf church members in my area and we are in need of interpreters. We recently had a few interpreters move to another state and few we do have now, work so hard each week and never get any breaks  So, I have volunteered to learn ASL so I can help!

Wish me luck!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Sleeping Like Your Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandparents Did!

Are you an insomniac? Do you ever wonder why you wake up at 2:00 am everyday or almost everyday? 

Here is an interesting article I found that may help you to rethink what an insomniac really is!

Even if it won't help you cope the morning after those sleepless nights, I hope you will find some solace in the fact that this is the way your ancestors slept too!

Friday, July 11, 2014

To-Die-For Blueberry Muffins

As I have mentioned a few times before, it is blueberry season here in the south. Blueberries are everywhere! In my opinion, the best way to celebrate is to bake something with them! I got this recipe from I use them a lot because you can see many comments on each recipe and adjust as needed based on the comments. This recipe got 4 1/2 stars from 7,032 people! I expected it to be a winner and it is! You can see the original here. This post is my interpretation of the recipe.


To-Die-For Blueberry Muffins
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour  (I used white whole wheat flour that I ground myself.)
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsps baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil  (I used olive oil.)
1 egg
1/3 cup milk  (I read in the comments that buttermilk makes it creamier tasting. I didn't have any fresh buttermilk so I used regular skim milk.)
1 cup blueberries  (I used 2 cups.)

For the topping:
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour  (I used store bought all purpose flour.)
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Start with the batter. Mix the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder together in a medium bowl. In a one cup liquid measuring cup, pour in the oil. Add the egg and fill the rest of the cup with milk. I used a 1 1/4 liquid measuring cup so it wouldn't overflow when I poured the milk.

Mix the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients. Although it didn't say in the directions, I whipped the liquid ingredients together with a fork for a minute or two before I added them.

Fold in the blueberries.

Making the batter was super simple and didn't take more than 10 minutes! 

Next, make the topping. The recipe states that the batter/topping will make 8 very large muffins. In my opinion, the topping makes too much for 8 muffins. However, since I doubled the amount of blueberries, I had enough batter for 15 smaller muffins. I was quite generous with the topping and I still had some left over! If you are only making 8 muffins, you can reduce the amount of topping you make.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. I baked mine for 20 minutes because I made smaller muffins. 

Loaded with 'yummyness'! (Is that a word?) Quick and easy to make, and oh so good! I am going to make some homemade cultured buttermilk this weekend and make these again!

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Garden Changes are Finished!

It took much longer than I wanted and much, much longer than I expected, but last week I finally got everything in the garden and all is growing. I am very glad because I start a new work project this week! Here is a recap.

The blueberries are slowly ripening! I am going out today to pick some more.

The peanuts are flowering.

The corn is quite tall!

Tomatoes always do well and tend to not need any help from me. Except of course, water. They are in pots and do require lots of watering. 

The first green beans I planted are flowering. They had been bothered by both bugs and a bunny rabbit eating the leaves. I sprayed them with chili pepper powder 'tea' mixed with a touch of soap and everything is leaving them alone now.

Just look at the difference between the top leaves and the bottom leaves! Really, there isn't any need to use harsh chemicals on your food production when a simple chili pepper powder spray works so well! The last of the green beans I planted are up now too.

I am sorry to say I am having a problem with fire blight on my apple trees this year and had to spray with a fungicide. I believe it is under control now. It hasn't rained in a week and the night time temperatures are in the 70's now so hopefully I won't have to spray for it again. You can see the fungicide on the apple in this picture

The tobacco is planted too. I have so much this year, I have it planted all over the front yard!

I also created new landscaping beds in the back yard to add more flowers and bushes. Nothing is planted there yet so I won't bore you with empty pictures.  I haven't decided what to plant yet. In the south, planting time for bushes, trees and other perennials is fall so I still have time to decide what to put there. I also won't bore you with additional posts of my garden this year. I do understand if you aren't into gardening, it can be boring to read about.

However, I will show you pictures of the harvest when it comes in!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Independence Day!

Always remember that freedom isn't free. A lot of good people died to give this country (and the world) freedom.

Enjoy your day! I hope you have fun at a picnic, barbecue or even the beach! Before the fireworks show, remember to say a prayer for this wonderful country of ours!