Category Archives: saving

Growing Vitamin C…Growing Roses For Your Health

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     In order to growing food frugally, it’s important to think about how much the inputs are costing you versus the benefits you are receiving.  For me, the cost/benefit ratio of buying organic food in a supermarket has never been high enough to justify doing so.

 

     Among the investments I’m making this year to the edible landscaping are old fashioned roses that have the added benefit of producing hips.  Rose hips were used in England during world war II as a source of vitamin C.  Oranges and lemons were difficult to find or afford during the war years. I’ve read that boy scouts were asked by the government to collected rose hips to be made into a syrup which was bottled and used medicinally.

 

     The current recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C for men is 90 mg per day and for women: 75 mg per day.  Your body can’t store vitamin C so it’s important to ingest some every day.  According to the NYTimes, this important vitamin is needed :

 

… to form collagen, an important protein used to make skin, scar tissue, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels. Vitamin C is essential for the healing of wounds, and for the repair and maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth.     

 

     I’m looking at ordering “Dortmund” or “Hansa” roses to scramble up my trellis and shade my house in the summer.  Their rose hips, with between 1700 to 2000 mgs.of vitamin C, outpace  citrus fruits in terms of vitamin C production. Hips also contain vitamins A, D and E, anti-oxidents and flavinoids.

 

     Here is some further information from the American Rose Society regarding the healthful hips:

 

“Fresh hips from R. canina were used as a diuretic, as a coolant, and a mild astringent. Both leaves and hips were used for infusions or tea. The hips from R. pomifera were made into preserves and also into a drink. It was very popular in certain areas of Austria and Bavaria. R. roxburghii hips were used by the Chinese to aid against indigestion and the Ainu in Japan ate the hips of R. rugosa.”

 

     My plan is to use the hips in tea in the winter to give us a boost in vitamin C—thus keeping us healthier and keeping us warmer while we set our thermostat lower.

 

     If you try this at home: please remember to check that harmful sprays were not used on the roses. Since I garden organically, this is not a problem.

 

     In sum, I hope to have most of our nutritional needs provided for on the property before we retire. That’s my little bit of insurance and reassurance come what may. One of the best ways to be frugal is to be healthy.

 

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Thrifty Thursdays #2

 

·       If you are paying for extra cable channels AND a service like Netflicks, perhaps you are paying twice for the same enjoyment. Consider getting rid of one (or more if you are really indulgent).  If it were up to me, I’d ditch cable altogether and watch things on youtube and hulu.com.  I find enough to keep me busy at the latter which is an ad-supported streaming video of TV shows and movies from NBC, FOX and many other networks and studios.

·       One frugal thing I do is buy clothes that can be washed by me—I hate paying money to a dry cleaners. I handwash delicates and have even washed my husband’s suits and pressed them myself –although I DO generally pay for suits and coats to be cleaned. I do know I’ve saved tons over the years on this one item

·       Speaking of clothes, I am terrible about staining the front (ok, sides, back, sleeves) of my clothes. I keep a lot of white and beige tops that go with anything in my mix and match wardrobe, but It’s hard to find these. When I see white or beige tops on sale I buy four.

·       I bought small fancy flavored coffee grounds for holiday gifts and saved back a few for me. I add a couple tablespoons to my sale coffee and spread the luxury a little.

 

·       The FDIC has a nice publication called Practical Advice for Everyone on How to Save and Manage Money

 

·       Gardenweb has many great forums, but my favorite is the frugal gardening forum. Here is a link to what these folks think are their best frugal gardening tips.

  • ·       I’ve had good experiences buying contact lenses online with http://www.1800contacts.com/  While my eye doctor’s office has rebates, they are a hassle and nowhere near the savings I get online.  The online service beats *mart prices even.

·       One of the ways that I have saved money over the years is to have a homesteading mindset.  You can do this in the middle of the city and on a little acreage. I could say more but there are some nice explanations and links here:

·       Even if you live in a first floor apartment with a patio you can have a garden.

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Find a Penny..

     You should have guessed by now that I’m the kind of person who picks up every penny I see on the ground. And from the last post, you should know that I accept any and all things people are getting rid of. If I can’t use it, I find someone who can or donate it to goodwill where the donation keeps on giving.

     The other day I’d found a dime on the floor while running to the office during my planning period. I held it up to the Janitor (a fellow frugalist) and he said, Big deal! I pick up all kinds of money all day long in these hallways.  Kids are notorious for not paying attention to what falls out of their pockets.

     I don’t know what he does with his change, but mine gets added to my own money and plowed back into my classroom. Last week, for instance, I bought the strategy-based computer game called “Age of Empires” for use in my classroom (more about that later….); and bought fortune cookies for our discussion of Confucianism and Ancient China.

     What got me thinking of “found coins” was this wonderful blog post by the nonconsumeradvocate. I’ve read it before and it makes me smile each time.

     Along these lines, I have a teacher friend with a large family. Because she is one of seven siblings herself, she knows the value of a dollar! As soon as her children were the age to play sports, I asked if she would like some athletic equipment and shoes my kids had grown out of. “Boy, would I!” came her enthusiastic response. That expanded to passing down clothing and it has had the unexpected benefit of my reliving many enjoyable memories with my own children when I see them wearing a certain dress (worn to a special occasion while carrying a blankie and sucking a thumb) or outfit (worn to a family trip to the mountains where we rode horses up and down nearly vertical terrain in the mud—yikes!)

     Since it’s my blog, I’m allowed to ramble and tell stories here. This same lady is also a teacher. Her own children complain that they have no TV. I should explain: they do not choose to pay for cable or satellite TV and we live in a rural, mountainous area with zero TV reception. As a result, her kids, who I teach, complain that their mother only allows them to watch math videos. I know she is previewing them for her classes and she is a great multitasker. It makes me smile to think of what’s going on. I should mention, however, that her kids are VERY well-read, artistic and are scarey-smart! Since she teaches MY children, I get to hear about these math videos twice.:)

     So, to review: look for pennies and free things—they add up and turn into things you never imagined.

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Debt Snowball

     Related to my last post “Be Your Own Bank,” is Dave Ramsey’s  concept of “ debt snowballing.”  The idea is to pay off a small debt balance, then roll that money that would be going to that debt to the next largest debt.  In our case, we went after the highest interest debt we had and continued from there…

This way of living has had tremendous benefits.  From Amy Dacyczyn’s The Complete Tightwad Gazette, I learned to apply savings to areas that would create greater savings.  This is deliberate living that requires you to be financially self-aware at all times.

     I guess this last concept is more like a “savings snowball.” In the past, I started by having a yardsale that gave me the money to spend on garden tools and seeds. The money saved by growing our own food (we included the cost of gas and wear and tear on our vehicles to to to the grocery store) was then invested in canning equipment and dehydrators.

     Each year at this time, we make a list of what we are going to put our savings into.  Some of what we will do this year are invest in more chicks (for eggs and meat). While feed has increased, we have started freeranging our hens and realized some savings there.  Even though we pay for feed, we get a lot of garden vegetables from the compost made from the deep litter we use in the coop (for another post–we compost all paper products, junk mail, etc…) But I digress….

     I’d really like to take some snowball savings and invest in some miniature milk goats that I could use for (at least) cheese and maybe milk and yogurt.  So far, I haven’t convinced anyone else that this is a good idea. I’ll let you know….

     Every year, we take some of our savings and invest in more edible landscaping. By retirement, we should have enough fruit and nut trees and bushes to support ourselves without needing to use a grocery store.  In my mind, the ability to feed yourself is insurance. It’s one thing to be poor, it’s entirely another to be poor and hungry. No one need be hungry, even in the city (but more on that in later post…)

     In the meantime, I’d love to hear some of the reader’s lists for what to invest their savings snowball in to help them save MORE money….

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Dollar a day Eating Plan

A couple of California teachers ate food costing only $1/day for a month to prove it could be done. You can read about their project here

The wife is a vegan, so there was no meat involved in their diet. But, if you think about it, most of the world eats little meat. For years I could average $1 per meal per person in my household. This is mainly because we grow much of our food. This saves more than the grocery bill because there isn’t the fuel cost to get to and from the grocery store (we live far from a store). In the last year, however, it has been difficult to achieve dollar meals.

I bring this to your attention, because I’m sure there are teachers who are caught in financial straits in these economic times who might be able to glean some information from their experience. What do you do to save on the grocery bill?

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How I Started My Intensively Planted, Organic, No-Till Garden on Hard Clay Soil With Weeds (or “Diary-of-Someone-Who- Saves-Tons-of-Money-by-Growing-Their-Own-Food”)

 

I started by laying cardboard down on top of the grass where I wanted my garden.  Then I threw all kinds of leaves, grass clippings etc. on top.  After a few months, I cut holes in the cardboard, dug a hole and planted a plant with some good compost (spread the poor soil over the compost on the cardboard). The first year I didn’t attempt planting seeds.

 

(NOTE: You don’t have to PURCHASE a tiller!)

  

Thereafter I just kept adding leaves, paper, and cardboard to keep the weeds out.  We don’t have trash pickup so all paper products, boxes, etc. go to the garden.  This is a great way to get rid of juWhy put compostables in the landfill? 

 

My compost pile is constantly moving. When I need space to plant, I shove it over. Or plant in it!  Cover with grass clippings if you don’t want to see carrot peelings and such.  If a weed comes through, I pull it and throw it on top of the compost/mulch.  If it has seed heads, it goes to our free-range chickens.

 

I use a deep composting method in my chicken coop (all free, I’ll mention that later) so I drop composted chicken manure near the base of the plants for extra fertilizer.

 

The first year I didn’t garden at all in the winter (I am able to garden nearly year round in our mild climate).  I simply lay cardboard down so it would be easy to plant (no weeds) in the spring. Then I pulled it aside to my paths.  I kept the boxes from blowing around by weighing them down with uncomposted cow manure or chicken manure (whatever you have on hand).  You don’t want to put uncomposted manure on plants, it will “burn” them.

 

This reminds me why I don’t like raised beds in boxes–it’s a pain to pull the weeds at the outside and inside edges of the boxes.  I can easily put newspaper to the edge of what is growing. Plus, I’m too cheap and lazy to build boxes. And too impatient:)

 

I started with rows, but have now made wide beds that the middle can be reached from each side easily.  When I plant spinach for instance, I fill the entire bed for a foot or so in the bed, then put something else next to it. You might say my rows look striped. I try to confuse the bugs.  It is far easier for them to traverse a straight row of something they love to eat.  They get confused if they have to jump over garlic, say to get to something they love.

 

I use all manner of boxes for my paths. Just stick your thumb on the seam of a cereal box and you will split it.  I put the colored side up on the paths–last longer.

 

I sprinkle egg shells around my tender seedlings to protect them from slugs and cutworms.  I dump my coffee grounds around the base of the plants once they are strong and this fertilizes them and keeps the weeds down at the base where it’s hard to pull weeds.

 

(NOTE: You don’t have to PURCHASE good fertilizer!)

 

 

The first year I started with easy things to grow: beans, squash, garlic.  At the beginning I was not strong enough to dig the holes–I had to rely on my DH!  Now the soil is very workable and almost black.

 

(NOTE: You don’t have to PURCHASE good soil!)

 

When planting, I look for a big weed that needs to be pulled.  I just plant in that hole. A twofer!  When you plant intensively, the good plants crowd out the bad weeds.  You don’t want ANY exposed soil.  So plant lettuce between your cabbages and broccoli in the spring.  Until cabbage and broccoli gets big (and it gets too hot for lettuce) your lettuce will be something to eat while keeping that space from getting weedy.  By the time it’s too hot for lettuce, the cabbage and broccoli leaves have filled in the space.

 

Announcement of soon-to-come-post: You don’t have to purchase seeds! Tune in next time…..

 

 

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