Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Penny Pinching in the Garden - Guest Post by Jennie

I asked my dear friend Jennie if she would be willing to write a guest post for us this week. She hosts her own blog; The Canadian Housewife, where she blogs about their large garden and all the fresh produce they grown themselves!  Enjoy her tips for Penny Pinching in the Garden

Without Further to do - I give you The Canadian Housewife, Jennie

When Jessie asked me to write a guest post for her blog, I felt honored and excited to have been chosen. I had always wanted to write a guest post and I finally had the opportunity to do so. I hope I meet her expectations and that you enjoy what I have to share about penny pinching in the garden!

Growing your own vegetables can be a big money saver in the long run. Yes, there are some up front costs to it and you’ll have to put a bit of money into it from year to year, but overall, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than buying fresh all year round.

There are plenty of ways to go about gardening, from small container gardens on a patio to full scale backyard gardens. I don’t have much experience with container gardening as my garden is currently a 20’x28’ plot in my backyard, but I feel like many of my tips can be applied to all types of gardening.

First of all, only grow vegetables that you like. You won’t save money if you plant something you won’t eat, just because you think you should. If you don’t like carrots, don’t grow carrots. Choose your seeds according to your taste buds.

Secondly, don’t go crazy planting huge amounts. Just because you like beans doesn’t mean you should plant enough to feed half your neighborhood. If you plant more than you can eat of something, most of it will go to waste and you once again won’t have saved any money. 

Third, don’t waste food. If you have too much produce, find other ways of using it up. Whether by freezing it, canning it or giving it away, you don’t want the food to just rot and then get thrown out. If you have a killer crop of tomatoes one year, try more recipes that include tomatoes and learn to can the extras. If you have too many beans, blanch and freeze them for winter use.

Read about Freezing our Winter Beans Here

Growing your own food is so rewarding and definitely worth the time and effort you put into it.  gardening does take a lot of hard labour but when you sit down for your first meal with a side of fresh garden veggies you just picked that day, it will all be worth it. Plus, it’s also nice to know that the $3 bag of seeds you bought is now feeding you for half the year.

For me, gardening is a nice way to save money on food. I’m cutting back on my grocery bills without having to compromise my health. 

If you want to read more about my garden, swing by my blog for my post “What’s Growing Wednesday?” weekly updates.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Thrifty Housewife

If you know me well, you know I like to thrift!

There's a lot that can go into thrifting; some women even make a living out of buying and reselling from thrift store. I'm not here to show you how to make an income from thrifting, but rather to talk about how to pinch the pennies and make each one count.

There are a lot of stereo types that come with thrift shopping. The first time I went I almost felt out of place and even grungy. But don't let the stereo type that these second hand stores are for the poor and underprivileged get to you; it's simply NOT TRUE. 

photo from http://madamenoire.com/tag/thrift-shopping/

Here are a few simple tricks I apply to my thrift shopping on a weekly basis to maximize the saving potential.


Not all thrift stores are created equal. It's important to find stores located in "upscale" locations. This way the items in the thrift shop will be from the well-to-do neighborhoods, for a great price. If you're looking for that one-of-a-kind piece, then any shop will have it, no matter the location. Take cash if you can. This way you'll make every penny count as you sift through items.


Do your best to avoid chain donation places. You may have gasped momentarily because we all know and understand the great work places like Goodwill and The Red Cross do for local and international communities. But the truth is, they've gone to a bar-code system where you will pay close to retail for items, specifically clothing, as they're trying to make the most for each item.  I try to only visit here as a last resort, and I do admit I have found a steal once or twice.


Walking into a thrift store you'll find rows upon rows of clothing. Some stores will sort by size or color. Most will sort at least by gender and subject matter. But you have to dig. Keep a small thing of hand sanitizer in your purse for the end, before you get in the car, so you can feel a little cleaner. Make sure to take your time and look at each item. I can't tell you how many times I've found a $0.50 shirt with tags still on it! Check for stains or tears in the clothing. On shoes make sure the heel is not coming off. If you're looking at electronics, most are marked if they're working but always find a plug and test it out if you can.


Before I leave for the store I make a small list of items I might be looking for; a pair of running shorts, a house phone, some serving dishes. They may not have these items today, but next week they could be there. This is why I make a trip at least once a week or every two weeks to the thrift store. This may sound like a lot, but I don't always purchase, and I never miss an item. Another positive is the workers began to know me. Just yesterday one called me to let me know an item on my list had been donated! How cool is that?? Often a store will contact you if you make your need for a specific item known.


I already mentioned you can cultivate relationships with the workers at each store, but it is also good to know their sale days. Some stores will tag items in different colors and do a "green tag sale" day or a 15% off student day. Make sure to ask if they have a return policy on any electronics you may buy. Also don't be afraid to ask if the price is negotiable. A lot of store will let you haggle with them on the price.

and finally...


This is a great way to give back. When I go to my thrift shop, I'll take a bag of items we haven't used in a while. My rule the thumb, if I bring an item in - another has to come out. If you're buying clothes, go through your closet and find items you don't fit in or wear anymore and donate. I do ask that you only donate good quality items. maybe your old dress will be someone else steal of the day!

These are a few of the items I have picked up in the last few weeks from our local thrift stores. Make sure you properly wash and clean all items before using and remember to have fun! Thrift shopping can be an adventure - enjoy it!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Front Door Facelift

One of my favorite pastimes is surfing the all-so-famous website Pintrest for DYI ideas. I'm not overly crafty, but I do excel in copying someone else idea! I came across this wonderful blog belonging to a mother of 2 who is obsessed with crafting. She posted a how-to for a DYI Front Step Hanger.

Here is the original picture used for my inspiration.

Picture & Project by kenziehand.blogspot.com
I first went to Home Depot and purchased a piece of 4x4 pine wood. They cut it to the height I wanted which was so wonderful since I live in an apartment and can't have a wood saw!

While they were cutting the 4x4 I found these wonderful cheat trim pieces. I bought them on site! This let me have a base and top without the extra cutting or pieces of wood.

I glued the trim to the pine and let it all rest and dry to solidity. I sanded down the entire thing once dried and coated it in a outdoor white paint we had in the closet. We found a hook that I liked and I got my hubby the install it since we don't have a power drill.

Next I made a sign. I cheated a little and bought a 2$ plaque and $0.60 letters at Michaels. I painted the plaque the blue we used in our room, again to save on the cost of paint, and glued on the letters.

Added a few hooks and some string and voila we had a hanging sing for the front! (Please excuse the terrible quality of my pictures.)

DYI really can be best over going out and buying something at the store, but remember note to spend too much in your materials. Make sure to price out your project BEFORE you start because sometimes it comes out costing much more than you anticipated.