Thursday, November 6, 2008

Move Over Glade

'Tis Satsuma season! Don't you just love those easy-to-peel little oranges? We fly through them in our house. Instead of ditching the peels in the compost why don't you used them to make a natural air freshener? Here's what you need:
Put the peels from a few of the little guys into a small pan, sprinkle some cinnamon over them or add a few cinnamon sticks, cover them in a decent amount of water and set the burner to the lowest heat level. Make sure you check it periodically so that all of the water doesn't evaporate - or if you're me you set a timer :)
Soon your home will be filled with cinnamony-orange goodness without the chemicals or waste from a store bought air freshener. Mmmmmm . . .

Article: Toxic Chemicals Found in Common Laundry Detergents, Air Fresheners
Hidden Hazards of Air Fresheners

Friday, September 19, 2008

Time for a Treat

Me: If you finish eating those vegetables you can have a

My 5 year old: Oooh! What kind of treat?

Me: You'll see!

I'm sure my son was expecting a cupcake or a piece of candy or maybe even a small toy. But what he got was so much better. First of all, it was completely free. Plus, it not only causes no harm to the environment but it actually helps the earth. And it's something he'll never get tired of so I can use the same treat over and over again. Want to know what it I gave him?

My 5 year old: Mom! I'm done! I ate all my vegetables!
What's my treat?

Me: Time with me! You get to choose, an extra story at story time
or we can play a board game together.

My 5 year old: A game! A game! I want to play a game with

You would think I had just told him he could live in Toys R Us. We played 3 rounds of Mancala and had a great time together. Not only was it a treat for him but it was also a treat for me.

The next night, I offered the same deal and he gobbled up the foods he is usually very picky about for another game night with me. He did extra chores for a trip to the park with Daddy. And last night he ate a bowlful of rice (which he HATES) to be able to have craft time with me.

I know how tempting it is to use candy or toys to avoid tantrums or picky eating battles or all manner of parental woes. But ultimately, those things are entirely consumable. They will rot our children's teeth or occupy space in a landfill. But time, that's the most frugally green gift you can give--and it will last forever!

Friday, September 5, 2008

free magazine!

you can get a one-year subscription to kiwi, a magazine dedicated to helping families live healthy lives and all you have to do is purchase one annie's product...even a box of mac and cheese! click here for details and to submit your request.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

give me a crock-pot and some veggies and call me gerber!

one of my absolute favorite blogs is a year of crockpotting. this woman decided to cook in her crock-pot every day of 2008. she invited all of us to join in and learn from her journey. the best part, in my opinion, are not the pot roast or soup recipes (we've all seen those before), but the unique things she makes in there. for food! we've heard the benefits of making your own baby food many times, but that usually included slaving over a steamy stove and lots of messy pots and pans. not this way! even if you don't have a baby right now she mentions using these cooked and pureed veggies in a deceptively delicious way and "sneaking" them into food for extra nutrition for your family.

she also has posts about making crayons, cream of mushroom soup, and other such frugally green items. so-dust off your crock-pot and see it as your new green friend!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Saving "tons" on lunch

It's that time of year . . . the yellow school buses are rolling out of the bus barn, the pencil sharpener is waking up and moms and dads around the world are preparing to pack daily lunches once again. I think that we'd all agree that "brown bagging" it is definitely the least expensive way to eat lunch at school . . . not to mention the healthiest way! Hopefully after reading this post you'll have a few more ways to save some cash as well as the lovely planet. Let me explain . . .

Every kid produces an average of 67 pounds of lunchbox waste per year. That equates to 18,760 pounds of lunch waste for just one average-size elementary school ( think baggies, wrappers, yogurt containers, juice boxes, plastic silverware, paper bags . . . enter Lunchopolis, Laptop Lunches, Lunchsense, Kid Conserve and other lunchbox systems.


Laptop Lunch System in Primary

Medium Lunchbox
Waste-Free Lunch Kit
These lunchbox systems will run you around $30 - $40 but believe me, you'll save that much and more . . . I'll explain:

First of all, Laptop Lunches are phthalate free, bisphenol-A (BPA) free and lead free. Lunchopolis is PVC and lead free. Lunchsense is BPA lead and PVC free. Kid Conserve is made of recycled cotton and non-leaching food grade stainless steel. You're saving your kiddo exposure to some fantastic chemicals - bravo!!!

Second you've got reusable containers that fit perfectly in the box so that saves trash and cash. No more buying lunch bags and Ziplocs to store lunch in. You can also buy a "back-up" set of containers so that while one set is being washed, the other set can be packed for the next day's lunch - handy dandy. Using one plastic sandwich bag per school day will cost approximately $10 a year. With a lunchbox system you never need to use plastic bags.

Third - more trash and cash savings: think juice boxes, yogurt, bottled water, granola bar wrappers, chip bags . . . using a lunchbox system encourages bulk buying. For example, packing one 8 ounce juice box in your child’s lunch every school day will cost approximately $224 a year. Refilling your reusable drinking bottle every school day from a 128 ounce bottle of juice would cost approximately $144 a year. That’s a savings of $80 (see you've paid for the lunchbox and it's guts already!!!). An individual serving of organic yogurt costs approximately $1.50. A 32 ounce container of the same yogurt costs approximately $3 and you get up to 5 servings to fill your reusable container. Individual 8 oz bottles of spring water will cost you approximately $47 a year. Using a reuseable waterbottle and water bought in a 1 to 5 gallon container will cost approximately $5 to $11 a year . . . . you get the point.

Other ways to save:
Pack a reusable cloth napkin
Pack real silverware - afraid your kid will lose your nice silverware (they will :)? Take a trip to your neighborhood thrift store and stock up so that you won't have to worry about granny's silver going missing.

Just think, if every child did this - Money normally spent on waste hauling could be used in the classroom instead.

If you are looking for some creative, healthy and fun lunch ideas for the 180 days that you all pack lunches, check here.
Learn to pack a no waste lunchbox here.

Packing lunches in containers means a bit more work . . . no more easy to throw in Quaker granola bars, snack packs of Doritos and Gogurt. However, calculating the cost to your wallet as well as to the environment shows that the extra effort pays off in the end.

Monday, August 18, 2008

move over mcnuggets!

i am on a mission to get convenience food without the cost to my wallet and health. i LOVE convenience food cuz i think it's so yummy and so....well....convenient! i've tried several things already and love having the power to make something "packaged" my very own self! it is very empowering. for some reason when i look at things in the store all neatly wrapped and labeled it never even occurs to me that I could make that. longer! i tried my very own "mcnuggets" and boy were they good! i even sliced up some apple dippers on the side:) they really tasted so good and even my boys liked them (after years of the ones from the golden arches). super easy...wanna try?

-put some corn flakes, special k, or other cereal in your blender/food processor. chop -them to oblivion. add some salt, pepper or other spices to taste and maybe a little flour as well.
-cut up some chicken (boneless, skinless is easiest)
-dip chicken bits in egg and roll in the crushed cereal mixture

wasn't that fun? you can buy or make your own sweet 'n sour, bbq, honey mustard, or any kind of sauce! i put mine in little ziplocs in portions of 8-10 so i can pull 'em out and microwave for a warm healthy, and oh-so-convenient meal for my boys!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

they're grrrrrrrrrrrreat!!!

i have no original creativity, but boy can i spot a good idea when i see one! check out a multitude of ways to repurpose all those cereal boxes you're tossing...

Saturday, August 9, 2008

t-shirt bags...who would have thought!?!

this is SUCH a great idea! it is reusing something we all have (t-shirts that aren't being worn), it is frugal (pretty much free) and it provides a an alternative to plastic bags. it even eliminates the need to produce and buy reusable grocery bags! so frugal and so green on so many levels! sigh. if only i had a sewing machine. if you do and you make one of these will you PLEASE email me the pic...i will post it and you will be famous! (ok, maybe not famous, but i will think you are really really cool.)

also-these are much more compact than the bags you can buy for the same purpose so you could actually just roll and put in your purse so that when you shop you would actually have the reusable bag you meant to use and if something leaks...throw it in with your laundry!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Car Lockdown Update

Well, we lasted 6 days. On Saturday we had to free our car in order to run a group of errands for the Family Business in the next town over. And on Sunday we drove it to a wedding near Salem. We figure we saved at least $40 worth of gas by not driving it for nearly a week.

Not driving helped us save money in other areas, too. For one, we didn't use any fast food drive throughs. Haven't you had those days when you've been shopping and you're stuck in traffic and the kids are whining that they're hungry and you spot a McDonalds and suddenly you've blown $10 and are now the proud owner of two horrid plastic kids meal toys?

Or how about this scenario: You're in Target getting toilet paper, dental floss, and a garden hose and your child sees some little trinket and it's only $2 so you let him get it. And oh look, this completely unecessary candle holder is so cute and its on clearance for only $4! So you throw it in your cart. You know what I'm talking about right?

Well, walking everywhere forced us to plan better. Since we were always close to home and there isn't really such a thing as pedestrian traffic jams, there was no excuse for fast food. (They were too far to walk to anyway.) Anything we might have purchased that was uncessary wasn't even a temptation because we knew would have to carry it home. When you've got to fit all your purchases into a backpack or a stroller basket you tend to only buy the things you really need.

We enjoyed walking everywhere so much than on Sunday night we locked the car up again. We know we'll have to use it on Tuesday and possibly Thursday, but it would be awesome to save another $40+ this week. How did you do? Want to join us for another week?

Friday, August 1, 2008

beautifying the earth

today we walked home from a playground and i started being disturbed by all of the trash along the way. ari (5 1/2) and i started talking about how ugly it made things and how people make choices that impact other people, animals, and plant life. finally when we were almost home we decided...hey! let's pick this stuff up! we didn't have a bag and we were almost home, but we came up with all of this in our little impromptu litter walk. we are going to be more intentional next time and the discussion sparked was even better than the beauty restored.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Car Lock Down Challenge

This is our car. It's not broken down. It's not being repaired. It's in jail. Yep, we've locked our car into our backyard and we're going to see how many days we can go without driving it. So far we've gone a day and half and we haven't missed it yet! Want to join our Car Lock Down Challenge? Leave a comment below. We'll check back in next Monday and see how everyone did.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Forgotten Money

I have a lot of money. Vast quantities of it, actually. And I almost never think about it. In fact, I often look in my wallet and complain that I only have five dollars. You see, all that other money--it's forgotten money. Want to know why I forget it about it? Because it looks like this:
Not too long ago my husband and I made up a shopping list of things we needed. We only had $17 to spend and it looked like the items on our list would total that amount. My five year old asked if we could get some ice cream while we were out. It was a super hot day and ice cream sounded sooooo good. But, "Sorry, buddy. We might not have enough money for ice-cream," my husband said patiently. My son replied, "But you have lots of money! It's all over the place!" And he proceeded to point out our change jar, the pile of change in my husband's nightstand, the bulging coin pocket in my wallet, and then he reminded us of all the coins on the floor of our car.

He was right. We had lots of forgotten money! We each took a handfull of coins with us to Fred Meyer and when we were ready to pay we used the U-Scan. Our total was $17.82. If our son had not reminded us of all our forgotten change I might have thought to scrounge around in the bottom of my purse for 82 cents. I probably would have chosen to put one item back. Instead, we started plugging all our change into the U-Scan machine and watching our total go down, down, down.

At the end we only needed to pay $11.81. We still had a five dollar bill! Plenty of money for a carton of ice cream. It was a happy day indeed!

Now we try to use the U-Scan as much as possible so that we can play "The Change Game." (We could use the regular line but it seems rude to ask a real person to count all our change and to hold up the line for other customers.) It's amazing how much our dollars can stretch when we actually use all of them!

So where's your forgotten money? Do you have any tips on getting the most of out your change?

Friday, July 4, 2008

robot teaching green?

today we went to see the new pixar movie: wall e. now, i know going to the movie theatre isn't exactly frugal, but maybe you could catch this at the redbox when it comes on dvd or do a matinee with no concessions:) it does fall into the green category, though. no preaching. not even much dialogue. just a picture of what can happen when we care more about convenience than beauty. more about ourselves and the immediate then those we share creation with.
i'm a person who feels almost any information about a movie is a spoiler so i will stop typing, but has anyone seen this flick? any thoughts?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Putting it all on the line

So you make your own laundry soap? You rock! Here's another way to make the household chore of laundry cost less and leave a smaller footprint (hello buzzword =). Hang it out to dry! Did you know that electric dryers are in the top five energy hogs in your home? Of course it depends on the age, brand and model, but in general it's true!


Here's a link (How much electricity does my stuff use?) where you can calculate approximately how much energy you are using with certain appliances and then you can calculate the cost. This is a great tool! You can pick an appliance, device or even a kind of light bulb, adjust the amount of time you use it in a day, choose the cost of your electricity in kilowatt hours (get out your utility bill and do some math - the cost of your electric bill for the month divided by the KWH that you used) and whalaaa! Your cost per year is calculated for you!

In my situation we wash approximately one load of laundry per day (cloth diapers will do that to you). As a result, we run the dryer about one hour per day. I live in Oregon and the my average cost per KWH runs 7 cents. If I dried my clothes on the clothesline each time, I would save 150 KWH/month, $10.50/month and a whopping $126/year!

Does this offset the cost of my clothesline? Absolutely! My clothesline cost me $42.21 plus a bit of quickcrete and a little labor from my hubby (having a hubby is not necessary to complete this project, it just helps when you have a 1 week old newborn). If I use my clothesline 121 days the first year then I've paid for it with the money that I save not runing my dryer - every time i use it after that it's like money in my pocket!

Now, if you have to use your dryer like I do for part of the year (living in sunny Oregon and all), here are a few tips on cutting down on your energy usage:
  • of course you COULD hang your clothes on an indoor rack - Our dryer is in our garage so I hang my clothes on hangers and then hang them from the garage door tracks
  • when it's time to buy a dryer, buy one with a moisture detection feature so that it will shut off when the clothes are dry - and just FYI, the EPA does not award dryers with the energy star label
  • if possible put your dryer in a warm location in your home that way less energy is used to heat the air to dry your clothes
  • clean the lint filter after each use so that the hot air moves efficiently through the dryer
  • dry two or more loads in a row - take advantage of the heat still in the dryer from the first load.
  • dry full loads when possible - drying small loads wastes energy
I hope you are inspired! Personally even though it takes a little more time hanging my clothes out to dry, I find it rather therapeutic, much like weeding or hand watering my garden.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

free green stuff...gotta love it!

welcome to frugally green! i am so excited about this blog, but i will share more about that later. right now i need to pass on this great offer to you. corporate image is giving away FREE binders that are made with the earth in mind. just click here and give your name and address to have this lovely set sent to you! i already did and received a confirmation email. can't wait to get my "green" binders in 2-4 weeks!

Our FlexHinge Binders begin with durable binders board made of 100% post-consumer waste.
We have always worked very hard to make these binders green from the inside out:
We use soy-based inks and recycled papers
We recycle metal rings
Our lamination is inert
We are improving our production processes to reduce waste

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Wow! I just noticed that we already have comments! This blog is still kind of under construction as we plan out our posting ideas and decide on a final template. Add to all that the fact that one of our authors just had a baby and another one is about to move across the country! I'm not sure when regular posting will really start up but I hope you keep checking back! Thanks for all the nice encouragement!

How to Make Your Own Dishwasher Detergent

Making your own cleaning products is super easy and super cheap. Here's what you need to make Dishwasher Detergent and a Rinse Aid: 2 cups of Borax
2 cups of Baking Soda
4 small packets of sugar freelemonade Kool-Aid (you can also use 4 tablespoons of citric acid--if you can find it)
White Vinegar

Mix everything together by either dumping into a big bowl and stirring it really well or dumping it into a container with a lid and shaking it up. You can keep it in your lidded container or re-use your old detergent box.

I used this adorable thrifted glass jar because going green doesn't mean losing my sense of style.

Use 2 tablespoons per load. (1 tablespoon in the open cup and 1 in the closed locking cup) Pour some White Vinegar into your rinse aid receptacle and your glasses will come out sparkling! (If your dishes end up covered with a white residue, you probably have hard water and need to experiment with the amount of Borax to use.)

This batch of dishwashing soap cost me about 65 cents to make and it will last for about 100 loads of dishes. It took me less than 5 minutes to make and probably only took that long because I took pictures for you!

If you try this out, let us know how it worked for you and what adjustments you made. Maybe add what part of the world you live in so others near you can benefit from your discoveries. Thanks!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Coupons for Organic Goods

Found through the "Cent"sible Sawyer

Stonyfield Farm – Coupons for yogurt, milk, smoothies, ice cream - click on coupons
Horizon Organic - $1 off coupons for various dairy
Organic Valley – Coupons for milk, cheese, butter
Earths Best - Coupons for baby food
Rosetto - $1 coupon off pasta
Seventh Generation – coupons for diapers, wipes, laundry, cleaning, dishwashing products
Knudsen Juice - $1 off coupon for juice boxes
The Healing Garden – misc. coupons for moisturizer
Organic Prairie – coupons for steak, hotdogs, deli meat, other
Coleman Naturals – coupons for meat
Misc. products – dairy, skincare, gourmet, homeopathic coupons

Next time you fly . . .

Keywords: wing, clouds, blue, airplane

Not necessarily green but definitely frugal . . . unless you count the cash you save then it's green too.

"Has the price of your airline ticket ever dropped after you bought it? No Problem. Get a refund or a travel voucher for the price difference through Type in your confirmation number and ticket price and Yapta will track the fare for you for free. If the price drops, you'll receive an e-mail with step-by-step instructions on how to claim your refund and spread your wings for less." found in RealSimple

Saturday, May 10, 2008

How to Make your own Laundry Soap

Last December my friend Celina blogged about making her own laundry soap. I decided that I would try it out once my current supply ran out.

I did a lot of research online to find as much information as I could about making my own laundry soap. What I found was that pretty much all the recipes are essentially the same, some people use more or less of each ingredient, and that bath soap does not clean as well as laundry soap. I also learned that this is great for High Efficiency washers because it makes little to no suds (FYI the suds in store bought laundry detergent are for looks only and don't actually have anything to do with cleaning.)

In the end I went with Celina's recipe because a) she's my friend so I believe her when she says something works and b) because I believe her, her recipe is considered tried and true, c) it seemed pretty easy and d)Celina already did the price breakdown which saved me a lot of mental math work. Basically, homemade laundry soap costs less than 1 cent per load. You can't get much better than that!

Here's what you need:

  • Some kind of bucket to mix all your ingredients in. I used a 2 gallon paint bucket.
  • 1/3 bar of Fels Naptha Laundry Soap (you can also use Zote, Octagon, or Ivory--amounts may vary)
  • 1/2 cup Borax
  • 1/2 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (everything but the bucket can be found in the laundry aisle of Walmart, Fred Meyer, or WinCo--at least in my neck of the woods)
  • A cheese grater and a small saucepan 
Baking Soda and Washing Soda are different. See?

Step 1: Cut your bar of Fels Naptha Soap into thirds and finely grate one third of it. If you are awesome you have this grater from Ikea. $4.99 for two! If you don't have this grater you are still awesome. You just need to take a trip to Ikea.
This looks like it would be good on spaghetti Don't try it.

Save the other two thirds because next time you make a batch of laundry soap it will feel like you are doing it for FREE!

Step 2: Put your grated soap in a pot with 6 cups of water and heat on low until the soap melts. Don't let the soap boil. Once all the soap is completely melted add the washing soda and the borax and stir until it is dissolved.  Remove from heat.

Step 3: Pour 4 cups of hot tap water into your bucket. Add the soap mixture and stir it up. At this point you could add a few drops of essential oil like lavender or tea tree oil if you wanted your soap to have a fragrance. Add nothing and your clothes will simply smell clean. (Don't you love how I give you a picture pouring? As if you have no idea what it means to pour? Yes, I am helpful like that. You're welcome.)

Now add one gallon of hot tap water plus 6 more cups. I used my giant 8 cup Pyrex measuring cup but if I had had an old milk carton I would have just used that. As you can see my 2 gallon bucket barely fit it all. You might want to use a 5 gallon bucket to avoid unnecessary sloshing.
Give it another few minutes of stirring and then let it sit overnight.
Step: 4 In the morning your soap might look runny, or like gel, or separated with big clumps of slime on top and water on the bottom. This is all normal depending on the weather, the type of soap you used, and how much of a tree-hugging hippy you are. At this point you can be done and simply keep your laundry soap in the bucket and just scoop out 1/2 cup per load. Or you can give it another good stir and funnel it into your old well rinsed laundry soap bottle. OR you can be a sucker for cute packaging like me and take it one step further.

Step 5: I wanted to use a Beverage Dispenser with a spigot but my soap came out all clumpy and I knew there was no way it would flow through. So I busted out my immersion blender and smoothed all the clumps layer by layer.

I funneled each layer into my container then went back and blended the next part. Blend, funnel, blend, funnel, blend, funnel...etc.

I found this cute plastic cup at a thrift store and it holds exactly 1/2 cup. Perfect!

An adhesive plastic hook gave me a cute litle laundy soap set-up. Oops, I attached it to the wrong side. Easily fixable. But wait! There's more!

If you have a Downy ball, you can put about 1/2 cup of Distilled White Vinegar in there and it makes a fantastic fabric softener. And no, your clothes do not come out smelling like vinegar. If you don't have a Downy ball just add your 1/2 cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle. I don't like babysitting my washing machine so I have a Downy ball.

Check me out! Cute! Frugal! Tree-hugging! I'm a REAL Oregonian!


After five years I still love this soap. However, I've made a few simplifications in my process.  I no longer use the drink dispenser.  It got a crack in it and started leaking so I transferred all my soap to two 1 gallon orange juice containers.  Plus, the mixture will still separate and will need to be shaken before use so the o.j. containers are more convenient for shaking than the 2 gallon drink dispenser.

The above recipe used to say something about stirring until the mixture thickens.  This happens almost right away and easy to miss.  I took that line out.  Just remove from heat once everything is fully dissolved.  Everything will be okay, I promise.

Since I have to shake anyway, I gave up using the immersion blender.  Unnecessary!

I also mostly stopped measuring the water.  I just put enough water in my pan to cover the soap and other ingredients.  I let everything dissolve.  While it's dissolving I fill my 2 gallon bucket about half way with hot water from the tap.  Then I add the soap mixture and stir it up a couple times.  Then I fill the rest of my bucket up with hot tap water and stir again.  I let it cool for a couple hours and then transfer it to my o.j. containers using a ladle and a funnel.  Anything that spills is used to mop my kitchen floor.  

I'm so glad so many people are having success with this recipe!  Hooray for saving money!