Sunday, August 31, 2008

Autos - Kelley Blue Book Green

Most of us agree that the Kelley Blue Book is the quintessential guide to new and used vehicle information. Now, they've moved into the "Green" world with the launch of Kelley Blue Book Green, a guide for shoppers who want the latest information on alternative fuel technologies.

Everything you want to know about hydrogen, diesel, hybrid, naturalgas, electric, flex fuel/ethanol and fuel-sipping gasoline cars isincluded. There's a video section which gives the reader an in-depth look at the latest eco-friendly vehicles out there, and even features a section it calls the Perfect Car Finder.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Creative and Inexpensive Ideas For Backyard Slope

JenLa73 posted the following topic at the forum:
Help! I just moved into a rental home that has a backyard full of dirt. It is a sloping yard that is full of trees and pretty large. Grass will not grow and the owner of the home is not willing to have that yard sodded. Anyone have some ideas of how to landscape it? I have three dogs and every time it rains they are full of mud when they just go out to go potty. They (the dogs) are not the reason for no grass and never in any other place we have lived did they make it a problem to have a yard with grass in it. Other than put rocks in the whole yard, I need some more creative ideas.  Post your ideas or read responses

Friday, August 29, 2008

Saving Money On Next Computer

Before buying a new computer, be sure to repair or upgrade technology when possible. Often times when a PC is bogging down, a simple increase in RAM, a disk cleanup, or a defrag would to the trick.

Take time to investigate what the real problem is and make small corrections as long as possible to extend your hardware's useful life. If a replacement is in order try to find ways to save money on
your next computer with this article.

Read the entire article.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Housing and Economic Recovery Act

President Bush signed into law The Housing and Economic Recovery Act. Most people know that the act is designed to help Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as help homeowners who are facing foreclosure, but the new law reaches much farther than that.

It includes provisions for a first time homebuyer's tax credit, an update to the FHA loan program, help for our nation's veterans, and much more.

Does the Housing and Economic Recovery Act affect you?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Homemade Greenhouse

Clair left the following post on our forum and other have responded. Read the responses and add your own:

In the interest of getting rid of the grocery bill, I have begun to get very serious about vegetable gardening. Last fall I converted a small shop into a greenhouse. This is a wood structure that required some bracing and lots of white paint.

Also late last year I made a long and deep double raised bed and built a greenhouse from scratch on top of the sunken walkway and beds. This structure is made from chain link fence top rail in a standard house configuration with 2 by 4 ends.

This spring I began construction on the third greenhouse for fruits and vegetables, also made of chain link fence top rail. This structure is a quonset hut style with 2 by 4 ends.

My intention is to get rid of the produce bill and feed us all year long by canning, freezing and drying what we don't eat fresh. We are also going to grow and harvest during the off season (late fall through early spring), with little or no additional heat in the greenhouses.

Is anyone else this gung-ho about avoiding the high price of produce and becoming more independent? I'm know to be excessive, but there are probably others that are interested in how they can do something similar with a minimal investment of money.

Read the posted ideas.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

BookSwim - Rent Unlimited Books

Forests are disappearing at an alarming rate. Eight (8) million tons of trees are used each year in the production of catalogs. You can control the catalogs you want coming to your home at

What about books? I've added a link to the Kindle Wireless Reading Device to this website navigation bar. It's to books what iPod is to music. Some people can't imagine giving up the touch and smell of a book (by the way, that smell is toxic since it's all about glues and inks), but if you just can't retrain your the smell area of the brain, there's now BookSwim, which is to books what Netflix is to movies. 

At BookSwim you rent books online as you would movies. With over 30,000 titles to choose from, no late fees and no additional shipping costs, BookSwim might be an excellent personal solution for you.

Fall in love with a book and want to keep it? No problem! You can pay for it online and then immediately receive another book from your list. It’s that easy!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Living On A Boat In Toronto Canada

I was contacted recently about whether I might like to have something in the ezine about boat living. I was quite amazed at how frugally the author and husband are living on their boat. Their blog is informative and may give you some ideas on your next relocation. :-)

Read the entire article.

Amazon Shopping Goes Green

Amazon's new green shopping website includes these products:

• Automotive
• Books, Movies, TV, Magazines & Downloads
• Certified Organic Grocery
• Electronics & Computers
• Health, Beauty & Personal Care
• Home & Garden
• Home Improvement
• Shoes
• Sporting Goods
• Toys & Baby Products

Access the green information guides on topics:

• Composting 101
• Green Wedding Guide
• Green Tips for Your Lawn
• Greening Baby's Room
• Greening Your Child's Playroom
• Greening Your Laundry Room
• Greening Your Office
• Greening Your Car
• Recycling Electronics for Fun & Profit
• Tips for a Greener Bathroom
• Tips for a Greener Bedroom
• Tips for a Green Home Theater
• Tips on Green Cleaning
• Tips for a Green Kitchen
• Waste-Free Holidays

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Cheap Shampoo Caution

I read a lot of helpful hints on money-saving websites that recommend using the cheapest shampoo to wash one's hair -- that they work just fine. Yes, they may work fine if you don't color or perm your hair! Many years ago, I'd pay a high cost to have a professional color my hair and she'd always wonder why my hair kept losing its sheen from visit to visit until I mentioned I used Prell shampoo religiously. She said the cheap shampoos are detergents and strip the hair of the very tinting process I was paying her to put in! Likewise, they can also weaken the curl in permed hair. Read the many thoughts and ideas shared on this topic and leave your own comments.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

7 Bookends You Don’t Have To Buy

Reorganizing and redecorating your bookshelves doesn't have to mean a trip to the store. You needn't buy expensive bookends to hold your books together on the shelf. Instead, rummage around the house for items that are weighty and attractive. You're bound to come up with something more unusual than those brass numbers you see in catalogs and department stores.  

Here are some ideas!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Life Without a Mortgage

One of the most controversial subjects around the family finances is the decision to payoff the mortgage early. Some say you should keep the mortgage around as long as possible, citing low interest rates and tax deductions as opportunities you are giving up by paying it off early. Others enjoy the freedom that comes from no mortgage payment, and the huge amounts of disposable, monthly cash that comes along with being mortgage-debt free.

Read Should I Pay Off The Mortgage Early?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Freecyle - Get Free Stuff

If manufacturers stopped making stuff, we'd have plenty of old supplies to keep us clothed, housed, and entertained for quite a while. Instead, people buy newer versions of the same that will have a short shelf life and be tossed also.

Before long there are mountains of electronics, clothing, housewares buried beneath the earth leaking toxins into our soils that will eventually end up in our groundwater. We'd all be wise to do some serious freecycling – giving away, and getting already-used stuff for free.

The system is simple. You join a local Freecycle Yahoo group to view what people . People post want to give away and if you're the first to grab it, it's yours, for free. Rather than tossing things into the garbage dumpster, post them on Freecycle for somebody who needs it locally. There are plenty of folks who don't mind cleaning something up and even painting to not have to buy something new.

Reduce trash, feel a bit more green, and you can also smile over a win-win situation.  Visit Freecycle to find your local group.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Recipe For Daily Shower Spray

Jill asked this question on our cleaning forum:

Does anyone know of a recipe/alternative for a daily shower spray -- the kind that you just spray on the walls & door after each shower? I've tried the commercial ones and they are so expensive to use everyday. not to mention they make my throat feel scratchy, and I haven't really noticed the shower staying clean. Soap scum is so stubborn & i hate to use harsh bleachy stuff on it. Thanks for any ideas!

Read the many responses and add your own at the forum post.

18th Birthday Ideas

I am having an 18th birthday party for my daughter with family & friends. I'm looking for "coming of age" celebration ideas. Anyone have anything?  Post your answer or read the ideas.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Story of Stuff


Monday, August 18, 2008

Nature Fun Game

Reuse those paint sample color strips from the home improvement store
for a color walk. Take a walk through a garden and woodland and find
the colors in nature that most match what you have on the strips.
Mark them off as you find them making the more difficult ones a real
challenge for a keen eye.

Safer Alternatives to Commercial Pesticides

Here are safer alternatives to commercial pesticides:

Ants: Sprinkle cinnamon, bay leaves, cayenne pepper or baby powder in problem areas and along baseboards and Windowsills.

Cockroaches: Sprinkle equal parts of baking soda and confectioners' sugar in problem areas.

Mice: Place cotton dipped in peppermint oil near problem areas. Used kitty litter is another repellent.

Mosquitoes: Mix 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water placed on your deck or balcony or dab lavender oil on your wrists and elbows.

Files: Small sachets of crushed mint placed around the home will discourage flies. So will a potted sweet basil plant. -Sid Kirchheimer

AARP Bulletin – May 2008

Friday, August 15, 2008

Gas Cap Savings

Looking for ways to save gas? Give the gas cap an extra twist.

Nearly 1 in 5 cars has a loose cap, causing 147 million gallons of  gas a year to vaporize, according to Rich White, head of the Car Care Council.

A leaky cap can rob you of two miles a gallon, abotu 10% of typical mileage, which is as much of a gas-waster as under-inflated tires, dirty air filters and worn spark plugs.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Keeping Kids Healthy In School

It's costly for children to be sick, and it's not just the monetary factor. It is possible to keep children healthy during the school year. We've done it ... our friends have done it. Children do not have to get sick. If their immune system is strong and healthy, it will do what it was designed to do - fight off all the foreign invaders that we are bombarded with daily.

You can't always control your child's diet, but you don't have to be part of weakening the immune system with sodas, sugar drinks and sweet treats that knock out the immune system.

Here's some nutritional help for your kids as they head back to school.

Solid Nutritional Support for Growing Kids
by Jody Taylor

As the new school year approaches, parents everywhere are gathering the supplies their kids will need when they head out the door. This fall, arm your kids not just with backpacks but with the nutrition that will help them perform their best.

Nature’s Sunshine has a variety of products designed to help kids stay healthy, happy and ready to learn. Highlighted here are a few favorites.

Set Your Child’s Sights on Success with Focus Attention
Focus Attention combines powerful nutrients that help the brain maintain a healthy, balanced level of stimulation. By supplying the brain with the vital nutrients it needs, Focus Attention may help improve your child’s concentration so he or she can thrive at school. Available in capsules and a great-tasting powder drink mix.
“My 9-year-old, Jonathan, has trouble staying on task. After receiving a bottle of Focus Attention Powder from a family member, I decided to try it. I can’t say enough how wonderful this product is. My son has gone from being almost out of control and making horrible grades, to the wonderful child I knew he was. He has made the A/B Honor Roll. Thank you.”—Diane T., San Antonio, Texas
Start their Day the Herbasaurs® Way!
Herbasaurs products are designed specifically with kids’ nutritional needs in mind. While mass-market vitamin supplements can be loaded with sugar and other extras kids don’t need, Herbasaurs products are sweetened naturally and contain no artificial colors, flavors, sucrose or starch. So you can feel confident giving them to your kids every day.
Chewable Multiple Vitamins and Minerals
Getting your kids to eat their fruits and veggies might be a struggle, but you’ll never have to beg them to take their vitamins! This great-tasting chewable, naturally sweetened with xylitol, fructose and citrus flavors, contains 12 essential vitamins plus minerals and iron.

Liquid Multiple Vitamins Plus Iron
Recommended for children who prefer a liquid, this formula has a pleasant orange flavor. Each dose equips kids with a full day’s supply of 12 essential vitamins plus iron and zinc.

Chewable Antioxidants with Grapine®
Herbasaurs Antioxidants help young, growing bodies fight the damaging effects of free radicals caused by oxidation, pollutants, the sun and even exercise. Each lemon-lime flavored tablet offers antioxidant protection with beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, Grapine and licorice flavonoid extract.

Chewable Elderberry Plus
With a host of germs out there just waiting to be shared, it’s nice to know you can strengthen your child’s defenses before sending him or her off to school each day. Chewable Elderberry Plus contains elderberry, reishi mushroom and astragalus for immune and respiratory system support—in a great-tasting lemon-lime Dinotab®.
Great Taste Makes Vitamin C an Easy Pill for Kids to Swallow
Kids and adults alike can enjoy the protective benefits of Vitamin C. Nature’s Sunshine chewable wafers are made with vitamin C and whole orange juice, along with rose hips, orange and natural lemon-lime flavor. Each tablet delivers 410 percent of the Daily Value to keep kids’ immune systems strong.

Keep Kids’ Digestive Systems in Balance with L. Reuteri
A healthy intestinal tract is home to billions of delicate microorganisms that aid in the digestion process. Stress, environmental conditions and antibiotics can destroy them, but NSP probiotics—including L. Reuteri—help repopulate these tiny friends. This strain of friendly flora is chewable, suitable for young children and requires no refrigeration—making it a great choice both for travel and daily use at home.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Resources For Budgeting

To live within the parameters of the cash you bring home requires a budget of some sort. Everybody has a different way of learning or being able to find a system that works for them, so here's a few links to help you get started on finding a method that works for YOU!

How to Create a Frugal Budget

Budget Basics

Build-a-Budget Worksheet

Budget Lessons and Worksheets

How to Budget Using the Envelope System

If you're the type that needs something in hand, here's a good system at a reasonable price:  

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Toxic Dryer Sheets Alternative

Toxic dryer sheets have a lot of things in them that you do not want to have on the towels and clothing you're going to put on your skin. Commerical fabric softeners build up on towels over time, making them less absorbent.

We've used white vinegar for 15 years. Lots cheaper and it:

eliminates static cling
removes soap residue from your clothes
softens your towels and clothes
makes your towels more absorbent
deodorizes without heavy perfumes

Don't you just hate to walk around smelling like your laundry detergent? So many people do, ya know!

Learn more about toxic dryer sheets and alternatives for your laundry.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Learn Spanish At Home

As many of you know, Donna spent nine weeks in Costa Rica earlier this year for the purpose of studying Spanish (and getting out of the Virginia winter). There's nothing like having to know the language by living with a non-English speaking family, but now that she's home, she's found a free weekly email lesson to keep her skills moving along.

If you need some encouragement to brush up on your Spanish or to consider it as a second language, the don Quijote website has many benefits. As a free member, you can access a database of archived lessons whenever you like. There are courses offered and information on studying Spanish in other countries. 

A forum to exchange ideas with people around the world and even a pen pal if you'd like to practice your Spanish writing skills. There is a verb conjugator and even a couple of word games to play in Spanish.  Take a look around

Here's some additional websites providing review and practice:

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

When You Lose Your Job

The unemployment rate in California surged to 6.9% , and that is equivalent to the rate in early 2003. Most news reports say that unemployment will probably go up a bit more in the short term as our economy deals with the credit crisis. Personally, I am seeing some friends and family deal with unemployment right now, and here are some tips that could be helpful for those in this situation.

1. Tell everyone you know you are now unemployed - There is no shame in telling people that you are looking for a job. In fact, the more people you tell the better your chances are in getting a referral. Tell people in your network what kind of job you are seeking and what your skills are, and someone may be able to help you get a new job.

2. Apply for unemployment benefits - As long as you were terminated through no fault of your own, you should be eligible to collect some unemployment benefits. It is not a lot of money, but it is something to help you with gas and food bills while you look for a job. In California it is fairly easy to submit a claim through an online form here . If you find employment before your benefits begin you can always cancel the claim.

3. Tighten your belt - When you suddenly become unemployed you may need to adjust your budget a bit and stretch whatever severance you received as much as you can. It could mean that you have to cancel the cable and not go out so much for dinner, but without your former income those small luxuries may prevent you from paying the bigger bills like the rent or the mortgage. If you do not have an adequate emergency fund to tide you through the job search then frugality becomes a necessity.

Read the entire article.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Vet Fees

Republished with permission from The Nature In Us by Donna Watkins

Taking your pet to the vet is as daunting as making a trip to the emergency room.  Your mind buzzes with thoughts of the cost.  I was so surprised and upset to hear the following story from a friend that had taken her cat for several vet visits and paid for several prescriptions besides the office visit.

At the same time I was excited to have the information that pet owners had an alternative to paying the high prices for drugs that they charge because they have to buy them in such small quantities.  I understood the reason prices were higher, but in the following example, there's certainly some other things to consider.

This email is from a friend in Canada:

I was previously charged $15.69 for 10 ml of Lactulose at the Vet.  Yesterday, they were going to give me 100 ml since I have to keep her on it, and charge me $156.90 for it.  

I said, "Wait a minute ... That sounds like a lot! I would like to check and see if I can buy it at Shopper's (pharmacy), and I'll let you know if I need a prescription."  So I called the pharmacy and sure enough, I can but a litre bottle (1000 ml) for $25.  Can you believe it? Outrageous what the Vets charge.

Let me do the math for you:  $25 for 1000 ml (instead of $156.90 for 100 ml)
So the comparison for the same amount of Lactulose is:  
$25.00 at pharmacy or $1569.00 from vet

After reading this I asked another friend about this since she visits the vet frequently since she provides foster care for rescues at her local shelter.  She said this was definitely an option since her vet had told her to get some of the necessary drugs from the pharmacy because it would be cheaper there.

So, we find that there may be another way to keep our pets healthy without spending a fortune.

If you've had experience with this, please let us all know about it by posting a comment below this post.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Save On Back-to-School Shopping

Back to school time is upon us, though it seems like the summer has just barely started. The back to school shopping season is a lucrative one for retailers, but it can be a cash-strapped one for parents.

Here's an article with a few tips to save money during the back to school shopping season.
"Simplicity of living, if deliberately chosen, implies a compassionate approach to life. It means that we are choosing to live our daily lives with some degree of conscious appreciation of the condition of the rest of the world." Duane Elgin

"Do what is good with your own hands, so that you might earn something to give to the needy." Ephesians 4:28