Saturday, September 6, 2008

Small Things We Do & Some Thrift Store Finds

I bet you can't guess what's in that second drawer.

Yep, that's foil! I wash and reuse my foil. I haven't had to buy a new roll in quite some time. I also wash and reuse plastic baggies. I personally don't do this with anything that's held meat, but I know others who still wash those and reuse them. Whatever you're comfortable with!

I had my husband install one of those retractable clotheslines under our deck and we now hang most things to dry. This saves on our water and electric bill. We did three loads of laundry today (energy/water saving front loader) and we only dried one. That was towels and sheets. We tried using line dried towels and it's like using a loofah! Also my daughter does her own laundry once a week and she uses the dryer (heh I'm just glad she does her own laundry!).

For the next thing you have to understand how our water bill is set up in my town. First you get charged for water usage on a tier system. The more water you use after the base tier the more expensive it is. THEN for sewage they charge you double whatever your water usage was. So you get charged three times for the water you use. You could be watering your yard or filling your pool and it still gets charged as sewer also! So we are very motivated to keep our water usage as low as possible.

I keep a bowl in the sink and a bucket on the floor next to it. When we wash our hands, rinse veggies & fruit, when I drain pasta water, when I rinse out the coffee pot etc the water gets collected in the bowl. When that gets full it gets dumped in the bucket. When the bucket is full I use the water mainly to water my flowers in the front yard (we have watering restrictions anyway with the hose).

If I have excess water I can't use to water my flowers I use it to flush the toilet. Not to gross anyone out but we use the "if it's yellow it mellow, if it's brown flush it down" rule. That is my husband and myself. My daughter won't have any of that and fortunately she has her own bathroom anyway! We also have rainbarrells, so when we've had lots of rain and they're full we fill up buckets and bring those up to our bathroom. This may seem extreme but, it has really helped with the water bill!

I also use every bit of food. We eat leftovers for lunch or repackage into something else for dinner. I just don't waste any food anymore. I haven't thrown any food in the garbage in a long time. It takes a bit of doing staying on top of what's in the fridge, what's about to go bad, what going to expire etc. But I consider it a part of my job as a homemaker.

I use to be a magazine junkie and I've cut waaaaayy back on those. Most of the time I go to Barnes & Nobles and read them there while enjoying a cup of coffee. A cup of coffee is cheaper than a magazine. My library also has a good collection of mags and I often will stop there before picking up my daughter from school and read some of the current issue. They also sell mags that people donate for 10 cents! I've scored new issues of several magazines that way.

Those are just a couple of things we do to make our dollars stretch. I'll talk about some of the others another time.

I wanted to share some thrift store finds with you. Can you believe I got this lampshade (and it looks brand new) for $3 !!

It's toile - I couldn't believe it was at the thrift store. The funny thing is I just made a pillow with some yellow and red toile!

Then I found this pretty tin. It's that a beautiful scene on the front! I don't know what I'm going to do with it but for 75 cents I couldn't pass it up.

I really like the sides too. I think it'll go very nicely with all my red toile which I'll bring back out when I decorate for fall in a couple of weeks. I think I did pretty good for under $5 dollars! I passed up quite a few things - they had Mary Englebreit plates, new vinyl runners still in the package, tons of really nice pictures, lots of things. This Goodwill has been a real asset to our community. Our other thrift stores have mostly junk.

I also found this frame for $1 brand new from Kirklands. I'm going to spray paint it since that gold isn't going to work for me.

If you have a money saving tip you'd like to share please leave it in the comments and I'll compile a post later on with everyone's tips. Thanks!


hip chick said...

Did you know that if you make your own laundry detergent and use Ivory soap with aloe vera in it your towels and things like that will dry nice and soft on the line. I do it all the time. I have the recipe for the laundry detergent and if you want it e-mail me or comment on my blog and I will give it to you.
Our water works the same is so way expensive it's crazy!

sheila said...

Hey! I thought I had subscribed your blog to my bloglines but I haven't caught any of your recent posts...daggumit...

anyhoo...we definitely try to control our water usage...I haven't watered the yard or garden this summer unless it was with grey water...good for ya'll...

and we hardly use our makes such a difference! even tho' scratchy towels are a can hang them out until they're just damp and toss in the dryer for a few minutes...saves energy and you don't get cardboard towels...

you should check out your habitats! today we got 2 brand new large windows for $50 a piece for our garage conversion, a wicker settee, wicker chair and end table for, respectively $30, $20 and $ great shape, I'm just going to have to bust out with the olive green paint...and then on a whim we hit the Habitat here in town and scored, amazing, a tall wooden cabinet on wheels that is going to be the base for an island when we move to reconfiguring the footprint of our was only $40...what a steal...

all in all, we had 1 need and 2 wants filled for great prices (I've been wanting wicker for the front porch for a long long time but wouldn't get off the $ for a new set :)

salmagundi said...

Thanks for all of the tips. We just got our water bill with increased rates effective now. We will have to do something - it is out of hand. I'm going to try the grey water thing. I already dry clothes on my lines to save on the electric bill. I really enjoy being frugal - it's like a game!!! Sally

Glenda~Many Fond Memories said...

Some of these suggestions remind me of my mother and father and their need to save money. With 3 children and only one working in the family, she did a lot of these. The foil, plastic bags, plastic wrap etc... such as if she used a paper towel and it wasn't soiled, she'd spread it out to dry and reuse it.

She would save her wash water that drained in a large sink and used it for watering the garden. And bath water was used to flush the toilet. If you took a shower you put the stopper in and left the water in the tub, and when you got out you simply washed your ankles off.
Using left overs to make stews or soups. Mashed potatoes became hashbrowns for the weekend.
And of course buying second hand clothes and etc..
Hanging out clothes outside was normal and good for the wasteline. Always washing full loads. And if you needed a blouse for some reason, you hand washed it or to bad.
My father dug a well in the 70's and used that water for the grass and garden and the well still puts out water.
So there are a number of things to do.
Great Job !!!

Sher's Creative Expressions said...

Wow, I love that lampshade. At our cottage, I've hung our towels and sheets out to dry and THEN placed them in the dryer for a bit and they soften right up for us. Nothing like fresh sheets from the line *clean cotton* smell *sigh*!!



Cindy ~ My Romantic Home said...

OH MY GOSH I didn't even know you were back! I'm so happy! I saw someone named Manuela left a comment on my blog but I didn't realize it was you. I'm just now getting time to go visit those who left comments...what a nice surprise!

Angie said...

Great tips!!! I am going to reread them and write them down so I won't forget. We should all be more aware of what we use because as Americans we are so spoiled and wasteful! It sounds like you are on the right track with how to live. That lampshade is so cute and so me!

Kathleen Grace said...

It is amazing how careful we are when things get a bit tight isnt it? My husband has commented on how much got wasted when we weren't worried about the money and it's true.

Casa Mia * My House * said...

Thanks for sharing tips! Oh the toile lampshade is beautiful!

Storybook Woods said...

You are the queen. Gosh water is soo expensive. I confess, that water is dirt cheap here, Plus it is always coming down. But I should still look at all we waste.

My tip, is I keep a bag in the freezer, to hold leftover bits of bread. Then when I get a bunch, I cube them and make either sweet or savory bread puddings. Oh I keep two bags. One for savory bread and one for plain.

Great finds. xoxo Clarice

Chez Nous said...

I think I have the same tin! Does it have anything written on the bottom of it? Mine is packed away with the Christmas ornaments so I can't dig it out easily. I bought mine at Marks & Spencer in England and it held shortbread. It was so lovely that I washed it out and saved it.

Jean said...

Thanks for coming to visit! I love your China garden! I have a kitchen garden so we are like! Looking forward to seeing you on Bloomin' Tuesday. The post goes up at 10 Monday night. Click the button on my side bar for a choice of buttons, if you'd like. Jean

Sweet Cottage Dreams said...

Hi Manuela!! Oh it is nice to have you back blogging! I hope all is going great for you!

Wow, you are quite the standard setting woman to go to these extremes with conservation. It is wonderful and thank you for sharing your ways with us.

LOL about the toilet. I think we will practice that here at our house! At least the ones upstairs.


Nnairda's said...

Yay! I'm so happy to see that you are back to blogging. I've missed you. I found you on Deb's blog and hope that it was you. Glad to see you around.

Take care


Carrie said...

This inspires me to do much more to conserve water each day.

hip chick said...

Here is the link to the recipe on my blog. This was easier than copying it all over. It's kind of weird because the soap hardens up after a bit so you have to fiddle with it a bit while you put it into the washer. I take a chunk of the soap and squish it in my hand under the running water into the machine. I put a bit of lavender oil into mine to make it smell lovely but the plain ivory with the aloe smells just as good.

She'sSewPretty said...

Great tips Manuela! It is so dusty where I live that I don't dare hang my clothes outside. I wish I could though as our power bills are sky high!!

Linda's Blue Gate said...

My husband fixed our washing machine so that I can water the yard with the washing water it is great.....I really want a cloths line....I love that fresh scent

Tracie said...

Hi Manuela,
I came across your blog from Down to Earth. I will be back to read more. If you would like your towels softer without using the dryer. Try white vinegar in your final rinse this has made my towels softer.

Have a nice day.

Tracie xx

Bella Casa said...

I get all kinds of magazine subscriptions for FREE. Off the top of my head:

Woman's Day
TV Guide
Country Home

and a couple of kid's crafting ones and I bet there are still more that I am just not remembering right now.

How, I do it, is by visiting and checking out their freebie forums.

Try it! :)

I love all of your thrift store finds!

Bella :)

Rhonda in OK said...

Your mismatched drawer knobs are so cute!
I wash foil too.
Lately I have been using more plastic containers instead of zipper bags.
And I like casserole dishes with lids so I don't waste foil on covering them.

I shop sales and stock up when things are a good price, the 3 major stores in my town are all within a few blocks of my office so I don't waste much gas doing this.
I use coupons, shop thrift stores and garage sales.

When I am stumped about how to do some frugally, I try to figure out how my grandmothers would of taken care of it and can usually come up with a low cost solution.

I love your money-saving posts!

Joy said...

You are amazing! We have three resources: our time, our energy, and our money. If we want to conserve one, we usually have to use more of the others. Good for you for conserving your money while conserving water and energy too.

Oh, and you found some pretty sweet treats too.

ShabbyInTheCity said...

I so love a friend who isn't wasteful! A wonderful cheapskate like me :) And you have style! I always love your toile finds and I've been thinking about some plaid or tartan...your tin is really cute.
My mother used to use vinegar on my hair instead of conditioner. It works smell like vinegar LOL!

ShabbyInTheCity said...

A blog for you on thrifty homemaking...
this is Alex at Living Without Money

Counting Your Blessings said...

My mom has saved take-out contaniers for as long as I can remember. She washes them and loads them up with left-overs to send to neighbors or friends. Recently I washed our styro take-home boxes from a rare trip to the Olive Garden. They work great for insulating breakables that may have sold from the website.

Thanks for the great tips! And thanks, Hip Chick, for the Ivory/Aloe news. I had no idea! Anybody got some gasoline helps? Blessings... Polly

Jen r. said...

Great finds! I love your money saving tips!!

Anonymous said...

You're amazing :) Thanks for some great tips, we got a rain barrel this year and don't you know we had a very wet summer. We used it all summer to water the plants.

All the best,
Kathy :)

ps I thought your daughter was home schooled ???

Manuela said...

Kathy, She was homeschooled from grades 2-6. We were going to homeschool these last two years of high school, but decided she should just finish it out because all the high school graduation tests are junior year. Also, it'll just be easier if I need to go back to working outside the home.


Mrs. B said...

Hi Manuela! I remember you telling me about your gray water on earth day. You are such an inspiration! We can all learn from you. That lamp shade is beautiful! And I love the tin back splash in your kitchen!

mrsjones6 said...

You are so frugal and have so many wonderful things to share.

I recycle in the kitchen any way that we can. I keep the gladware that our sandwich meat comes in and have storage for other things! I rarely reuse foil, but only because my son (King of recycling thanks to scouts) grabs it and chuncks it in with his cans. He saves the money he collects from those.

It is rare that we have leftovers because I try to prepare just enough for dinner and Audley's lunch the next day. I pack his lunch before we eat dinner. When he was going out with the guys to eat he spent at least $10 each meal, which really adds up over a 5and 6 day work week! So he has started carrying his lunch everyday which saves us quite a bit. I also fix him coffee in a to-go mug so that he isn't stopping and spend 2.00 on a cup on the way to work. All it takes is five minutes to brew it!

We are on well water now and have a septic tank (so no bill), but when we were still in Georgia I would put a bucket and empty milk jugs in the showers with the kids to fill up while they washed for watering plants. I also filled milk jugs with water and froze them to break up for ice when we had company to keep from buying it.
That is just a few things we have done to save.

Have a great week,

ROXY said...

What great tips!! Definitely some I will use. love the one about the sink water getting reused to water the garden. That's one I'll have to use!

It's still 87 degrees there, huh? What part of the country are you in? It's supposed to get into the mid eighties tomorrow and through the weekend here as well. yuck!!

The Polka Dot Pixie said...

These are wonderful tips!!! If it's not too late to add one, I am also a magazine junkie , but I find that most of my favorite antique malls have a few sellers who sell my favorites (Mary Englebriet,Country Living, Martha) sell used copies for pocket change, or will sell a bundle of 10 or so tied up in a pretty ribbon for a couple of bucks!