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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Our Frugal Family Wedding Attire

My family with my brother Dan, the groom. Funny expression, I know- we were trying to make the girls smile.
A week ago, my little brother Dan got married to a wonderful woman named Margaret, and it was great fun, such a happy wedding! The thing about weddings is they can get very pricey- not just for the ones paying for the wedding, but for the wedding party as well.

When my brother Josh got married last February, I was really proud of how frugally and nicely I dressed the family for the event. All the clothing was from either Aliexpress.com or NextDirect.com, and for what we got, it was pretty cheap. However, even cheap clothing and accessories add up when you're buying for a family of six.

Having moved recently into a new house and doing construction, things were going a little haywire over here, and I missed my window to order clothing online for the wedding. In a way I was happy about that, because it forced me to look for other options, maybe that would save me money.

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Amazing Back to Basics Living Bundle is Live Now!




The sale of the Back to Basics bundle has begun! The following ebooks and e-courses are valued at $814.94, but for the next week (and not a second more!) you can buy all of these for only $29.97, including my brand new book, Penniless Foodie in the Wild- an adaptable cookbook whose delicious international recipes can be made with foraged plants or store bought plants, whatever you have in your house, and adaptable to many different specialty diets, all on a strict budget.

Here's a list of the amazing ebooks and courses you get as part of this bundle. Additionally, there are some great coupons and discounts you get on a bunch of natural living and homesteading related products when you get your bundle.

The books I am most excited about are:
Easy Paleo Instant Pot Recipes- because I love my pressure cooker!
The Broke Bladesmith- because knife making seems really cool!
30 Essential Oil Recipes for DIY Beauty and Skin Care- because I have essential oils in the house but often I'm not sure what to use and for what and how.
The Swiss Hills Guide To Cheesemaking- because it has a recipe for Brie in it!!! and I'm addicted to that stuff, and it costs a fortune here, and I've long been looking for how to make my own Brie!
A Cabin Full Of Food- because nearly 1000 recipes???
Get Growing- because I'm not experienced with  gardening and want to start a garden soon.
Natural Beauty From Head To Toe- because homemade perfume and makeup? Bring it on!
One Second After the Lights Go Out- because I am curious about the topic- would I have what it takes to manage if the power went out long term?
The Organized And Efficient House Spouse and How to Get Organized- because I'm anything but, and really need to learn these skills.

These are all ebooks, because it is not possible to give print books this low of a price.

And here is the complete list:

Sunday, January 15, 2017

A Frugal Self Catered Family Weekend


Image may contain: food
My brother Dan got married on Tuesday, and in our culture we have post wedding celebrations. To do so, we spent a day and a half together this weekend in another town, and my family managed to pull it off pretty frugally, so I wanted to share with you what we did and how. (I say we, but, unfortunately my family was ill much of the past week, so I didn't do much by way of contributing; it was mainly my mom, sister Violet, my dad, and my sister Lizzy.)

We were 35 people spending the weekend together, eating all our meals together, and you can imagine that the largest expense for that would probably have been catering for that crowd. My mother, at a different event, hosted a weekend for a smaller crowd, 25 people only, and using a caterer who was a friend and therefore gave a discount, she paid $2000, plus more for alcohol and disposables.

This weekend, the entire cost of the food was approximately $425 (including alcohol), $140 for the disposables, and $285 for the hall.
Correction: Violet informed me that the food cost $1000, not $425. When she told me the cost of her shopping trip, I didnt know that there were three others. Either way, still a frugal weekend.

And it could have been even cheaper. Since a lot of things were bought ready made (my mom, sister, and father all work full time, so there is a limit to how much time they had to cook it all), and there were a lot of splurges to make it nice (and not just keep it as cheap as possible, but also tasteful and special). After the weekend, there were lots of leftovers which were taken home and split, so that money covered far more than just the meals at the event.

So, how were the costs kept down?

My Foraging Book- Available to Buy

Many people have asked me where they can buy my adaptable foraging cookbook, Penniless Foodie in the Wild, filled with 65 delicious recipes, that I've been talking about and describing for many months already. Unfortunately, though I tried to get it up on Amazon in time for Christmas, I had technical issues with Amazon, and it now all needs to be reformatted before it can be purchased from Amazon.

However, fret not, because in a few hours, from precisely 12:01am CST, January 16, for a complete week, you can purchase my book, Penniless Foodie in the Wild, and 72 other books, all related to frugal and natural living, and more, as part of the Back to Basics book bundle!
Yes, 73 total, valued at $814.94!

But I am excited because I like saving my readers money, and for one week only, you can purchase the entire thing at more than 96% off, for $29.97! That's pretty insane and impressive savings, and since the books are all such good resources, they will be well worth your money and will end up saving you money in the long run with your newfound knowledge. I stand behind this book bundle as a frugal woman and consider it a frugal purchase and money well spent.

This is how many books there are in each category:
Simple Living: 8
Cooking From Scratch: 9
DIY: 9
Frugal Living: 5
Gardening: 7
Homesteading: 7
Natural Remedies: 6
Natural Parenting: 8
Food Storage: 9
Preparedness: 5

Tomorrow I will share information with you about each book, but for now, here's the description of my book:
Update: Here's a full list of all the books and a description of each. 

Learn how to make sumptuous meals from your available ingredients, foraged or inexpensively purchased. Enjoy 65 deliciously frugal recipes from around the world, appetizers to desserts, written with adaptability in mind.
Real food and kosher, and free of most of the top 8 allergens, most recipes can be made without the other top 8 allergens, and to suit Halal, vegetarian, vegan, low carb, low fat, and Paleo diets.

I'm so excited to be able to finally share this with you!
But remember, after this next week, you'll have to wait until my book gets reformatted before you'll be able to purchase it.

Only 11 hours to go!

Friday, January 13, 2017

DIY Easy Fancy Wedding or Prom Hairdo Tutorial

For the past week different family members had a stomach bug, which was far from perfect timing (ok, not sure there ever is a perfect time for a stomach bug) since my little brother Dan got married Tuesday night. (Second brother's wedding- my brother Josh got married this past February.) Next post will be about how I dressed the family frugally but beautifully, but for now I wanted to share how I, who is not super talented with hairdos (I have a hard time with a french braid, even), managed to make my 5 year old daughter Anneliese a beautiful, fancy hairstyle for her uncle's wedding quite easily, and without it taking so long. I didn't use fancy tools other than a curling iron (that I've had for years), and the only thing I bought for this hairstyle were the two flower clips that matched her dress, which cost me $1 for the set. I forgot my hairspray at home, so that would have been an extra cost, and it would have made the hairstyle last longer, but it was fine without it.



If you aren't super talented with hairstyles, you probably can still make this easily enough. Anneliese's hair is a little past her shoulders, and I'd say that this hairdo would work with medium to long hair, and with either straight or wavy hair (Anneliese's is wavy). If your child already has curly hair, you probably can do this too, just skipping the part with the curling iron.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Easy Pressure Cooker Congee Recipe- Chinese Rice Porridge



Unfortunately my family is dealing with an unpleasant stomach bug at the moment (fortunately I am feeling fine, and am hoping it stays that way!). I was trying to come up with something good to serve them that would be easy to make and would help heal them, and thought at first- chicken soup with rice.
And then it hit me- why not make congee, a Chinese rice based porridge, often made with chicken. That way it has the nourishing properties of chicken soup, as well as the binding properties of rice to help settle their upset stomachs. Congee is like risotto, but more watery, and doesn't need to be made with short grain rice.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Making Homemade Frugal Healthy Baby Food

Baby eating baby foodA reader contacted me and asked me if I had any tips about how to feed babies healthy and nutritious meals without breaking the bank. Though many people think that to feed babies you need to purchase expensive jarred baby food, fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your perspective) homemade baby food, especially jarred food, is quite hard to find locally, and when you find it, it is generally so overpriced that it puts people off. Making homemade baby food is the norm here, and is quite easy as long as you start by getting the right equipment if you don't already have the few necessary tools at home. If you don't have any special tools, that is OK as well! There are so many options and ways to feed your little one and and keep your baby happy and healthy.

25 Ways To Save Money When Eating Out

Image courtesy of graur razvan ionut
at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I really enjoy eating out, but will admit that it is something I rarely do, because it gets pricey quickly. When a reader offered to share with you these ideas about how to save money while eating out, so it becomes more affordable, I was really excited, because hey- who doesn't want to be able to do that? 
Recently I did eat out more than I have in the past, and I found myself using some of these tips which made a big difference, especially 3.

I often find myself asking, what do I want to do for dinner? Sometimes, cooking just isn’t appealing and, especially on the weekends, I want to try something a bit different. I love eating out, I mean, who doesn’t? No cooking, being able to spend quality time with family or chatting away the hours with your closest friends. However, generally it does come with a hefty price tag and is therefore something that’s avoided unless it’s a super special occasion. However, for those occasions when you can’t avoid eating out, there’s no reason to spend a fortune and with these great tips, you’re sure to have a great time safe in the knowledge that your bank balance hasn’t taken a beating.

Upcycling, Reupholstering, and Plastic Covering Our Chairs- A Tutorial

All our newly reupholstered and upcycled chairs
Chairs have been the bane of my existence since we've been married practically...

When we were furnishing our home from scratch ten years ago, our budget was really tight. We ended up buying a set of 4 matching chairs second hand, and another chair from a second hand shop and dumpster dove 1 chair, so we started out with 6 chairs, only 4 of them matching. After about 5 years, the four matching chairs got really yucky looking, so I reupholstered them very easily.
As our family grew we dumpster dove a few more chairs (and tossed one of the original four that ended up breaking entirely), and then bought some second hand Ikea chairs as well (that I ended up hating because they aren't stable...).
By the time we moved into our new home, we had 10 regular chairs and a few folding chairs (plus some stackable outside chairs) which were functional, but they were not only mismatched, but they had really gross seats. It was embarassing. We'd have guests over, and we'd offer them a seat and they'd avoid sitting down since the seats were gross (and make comments about how they heard its healthier to stand). We really wanted to buy new chairs, because in our house with a new, polished, and put together look, these chairs were a big eyesore. And it didn't help that people kept telling us to throw out our chairs.
I looked into pricing for chairs, and each set I saw being sold second hand only had 4 or 6 chairs, so it still wasn't enough chairs to be a matching set to give the place a uniform look, and they weren't in the colors I wanted. I looked into pricing of new chairs, and the cheapest half decent chair (not even in a color that I wanted) was $75 each. I really struggled with this, because my chairs bothered me immensely, but I didn't want to spend a fortune on replacing them. The thought originally crossed my mind to reupholster them, but I didn't take that idea seriously because the chairs were all different colors- some light wood, some dark wood (veneer), some black, some white, not to mention most with different shapes and designs. However, I spoke with a friend who suggested painting them as well as reupholstering them, and I was sold.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Our New DIY Pallet Shoe Rack and Tiny Useful Mudroom

We have a lot of shoes in our family. Six people, each at least with a few pairs of shoes... It adds up quite quickly.
Before we moved to our current home I tried to declutter as much as possible, and in doing so, got rid of all the pairs of shoes that people refused to wear or no longer fit, because we had so many shoes in the old house that we needed a huge amount of space to store them all. And when space is at a premium, it is silly to allot so much of your limited space to shoes.
But even after going through the shoes and getting rid of what no one wore, we still needed a place to store our shoes. We don't have an official mudroom or similar in our current place, but right next to our front door there is a narrow area that is dead space, because it is too small to put any regular furniture there, but it seemed too big to not be used.
Pinterest showed me many ideas of compact and useful mudrooms and I decided to use that as inspiration to design our entrance as a good storage space for shoes, coats, gloves and hats and umbrellas and all other seasonal weather gear that we'd need right near the front door.

I love how this came out so far.
It is still a work in progress, but thus far it is loads better than how it was before.

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