Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Benefits of Raised Garden Beds

Today, if the weather cooperates, my kids and I will be starting our Square Foot Garden. We have a lot of work to do, as the boxes aren’t even on the ground yet. In fact, we still have to build a square foot garden box.

Though it’s tempting to just hoe out a patch of ground and plant some seeds, I’m convinced that the initial work we put into building raised garden beds will pay for itself in the long run. Why? Let me count the ways. Read the entire article.

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Growing Peppers

I love peppers! Especially the red sweet ones! You can spice up your garden (and kitchen) with peppers! Learn how to plant, grow, harvest and store these striking, flavorful fruits from Mother Earth News.

Color your garden dazzling with eye-catching, easy-to-grow peppers. Peppers present some of the summer garden’s biggest flavors and brightest hues, and these striking fruits are simple to store and have a wealth of delicious uses in the kitchen.

Plus, sweet and specialty peppers are among the most expensive produce at the grocery store, so growing your own can be a money-saving move. Read the entire article.

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Come to Tea: An Elegant Garden Gathering

Perhaps nothing says 'garden party' like having afternoon tea outdoors. It's a charming reminder of bygone days and childhood make-believe. Outdoor spaces of all kinds, including balconies, can be successfully adapted to a tea party.

Tea parties span generations and will be enjoyed by your most sophisticated women friends or all the giggling little girls of your acquaintance.

What makes an elegant tea party? Look at these factors.

Flowers

Plan to hold your tea party when your garden is in its ... Read more about having a tea party.

Traveling by Bus Isn't Like It Used to Be

From AARP Magazine

The plane truth is, the bus can be better.

If I said you could travel hundreds of miles from one U.S. city to another for $1.50, you'd think I was crazy, right?

Welcome to the brave new world of… bus travel! While airlines charge extra fees for everything but flotation devices, and Amtrak teeters on the brink of financial derailment, the bus industry has emerged as an economically viable—and surprisingly comfortable—way to travel on trips of 500 miles or less.

For now, service is pretty much limited to the Northeast and Midwest, but that $1.50 price tag is real. Both Megabus (megabus.com), which launched in 2006, and BoltBus (boltbus.com), a division of Greyhound, offer a handful of $1 one-way fares (plus a 50-cent service fee) for online advance purchases. Prices are based on availability and departure date, but the most you'll pay is about $80 each way. Read the entire article.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

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This website is sponsored by The Herbs Place, distributor of Nature's Sunshine herbs, supplements, essential oils and more at wholesale prices.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Why To Live More Simply

From FrugalDad.com

These days there are a lot of arguments being waged on the benefits of paying down debt, buying used cars, paying off mortgages early, and building savings. All of these are noble financial goals, and generally receive positive reinforcement from financial planners in the media.

However, there is an element that disagrees with this logic, and they are quick to point out where the mathematics don’t support these life-simplifying steps.

This post is aimed primarily at that audience, and for the rest of you, perhaps it will provide some comfort when dealing with these types.

Excess Material Possessions + Excess Financial Worries = Stress

Since I know how much you “financial nerds” love formulas, I’ve provided one for you to chew on. I once wrote a post about homeowners paying off their mortgage early, and it was generally well-received.

However, I received a number of emails from “financial experts” out there who disagreed with the idea. They were all-too-eager to tell me about the various ways that same money could be earning more in the markets.

Maybe so. But their fancy formulas didn’t account for the one variable most important to me at this stage in my life ... Read the entire article.

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You Need to Talk

From AARP Magazine

We tweet, we text, we e-mail. Everybody's chatting, but is anybody listening? Why America needs to revive the vanishing art of conversation. We need to talk ...

On a sparkling Sunday afternoon recently, I found myself in our local Baltimore park, sitting on a blanket with my 5-year-old daughter, consumed by an e-mail that appeared on my brand-new iPhone—a legitimately important communication from my employer that demanded a timely response. She chattered on (my daughter, that is, not my boss) about peanut butter and birds and how to sing "This Land Is Your Land" while I tapped out my reply.

Hitting "Send," I felt a flush of satisfaction—that's one less e-mail to deal with tomorrow morning—and plowed back into my in box, looking for more chores to dispatch. Then I blinked up to see all the other silently staring parents, slumped on benches or standing around, buried in the screens of their own smartphones. The kids ignored them; they ignored the kids; the birds sang, and the sun shone. And that flush faded to something closer to a chill.

Whatever happened to good old-fashioned conversation? Read the entire article.

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Tradition of Easter Eggs

For centuries, it has been the custom of many Christians to share dyed and painted eggs, particularly on Easter Sunday. The eggs represent new life, and Christ bursting forth from the tomb. Among Eastern Orthodox Christians (including Bulgarian, Greek, Macedonian, Russian, Romanian, Serbian and Ukrainian) this sharing is accompanied by the proclamation "Christ is risen!" (in Greek "Christos anesti") and the response "Truly He is risen!"(in Greek - "Alithos anesti").

One tradition concerning Mary Magdalene says that following the death and resurrection of Jesus, she used her position to gain an invitation to a banquet given by Emperor Tiberius. When she met him, she held a plain egg in her hand and exclaimed "Christ is risen!"

Caesar laughed, and said that Christ rising from the dead was as likely as the egg in her hand turning red while she held it. Before he finished speaking, the egg in her hand turned a bright red, and she continued proclaiming the Gospel to the entire imperial house.

Another version of this story can be found in popular belief, mostly in Greece. It is believed that after the Crucifixion, Mary Magdalene and the Virgin Mary put a basket full of eggs at the foot of the cross. There, the eggs were painted red by the blood of the Christ. Then, Mary Magdalene brought them to Tiberius Caesar.

Vacations - Using Frugal Tips

Q. Vacations can blow our budgets very quickly and sneak up on us at the same time. However, I am confident most of you have some frugal ideas for vacations and travel that would help us plan better and prepare better for them at the same time. I would sure enjoy hearing of those ideas.

A. All the categories of my budget suck up every cent I make (includes 401k & a liquid savings account). I just came back from a vacation so now the credit card is a bit higher. I'll pay it off by February, instead of December. But once that is done, I will have $250.00/month with which I can "play around." I already know I'm going to put a bigger chunk to the car payment, but will put at least $100.00 into a vacation fund. If plans go well, I will have $700.00 in August of next year and that might be going toward a backpacking trip (less expensive than a leisurely hotel experience for a week) in Colorado! My budget is solid enough so I will have emergency money along side of this vacation stash - Julieane

A. Have several friends that take trips to Rome, Egypt.or Caribbean Islands. They always take 1 or 2 bags of M&Ms or some simple treats. One women i know packed 1 suitcase with canned food/sodas for Caribbean trip.Why??? ... Get more ideas.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Teaching Your Children About Money

During the summer of 2009, my son William turned 4 years old. I remember that at that age, I didn’t know much about money. You basically only care about what gear you will play with for the next 20 minutes.

As both my wife and I love to spend time outside during summer, we use to take a lot of walks outside with our two kids. While Amy was still in a stroller, William was able to get on his bike and go much faster. One day when we were about to leave the house, my son turned at me and said:

Daddy, I would like to have some chips on our way back home.

All right, but who is going to pay for those chips, William? I replied. The cashier will ask you for money. Read the entire article.

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Frugal Wedding

Q. My fiance and I are planning a wedding for spring of 2003. We are working with a tight budget, and would love to get some ideas from The Frugal Life readers on how to go about this major task without depleting our savings. We are planning to have the wedding and reception at a church, which should be relatively inexpensive, and I will be taking our engagement pictures. I'm especially concerned with the cost of catering. Also, I would love to have some creative ideas for gifts for the wedding party (it will be all family members). Thank you in advance for your wonderful ideas!! - Janelle

A. Location: Not to discourage you from having a beautiful church wedding, BUT the donation on using the church facilities is not always cheep...Have you thought about an out door wedding, maybe in a public park or lakeside, these are always inexpensive, you just pay for a permit to be there. Sometimes calling up that family member with the big back yard can work.

Catering: call up your favorite FAMILY owned BBQ. these guys always do it right...or the Family owned Italian Restaurant. Key thing is family owned, these businesses are always honored to do a wedding and their prices show this. When all else fails do a finger food reception.

Honeymoon: stay close, drive and spend your money on fun not food. My husband and I cooked 7 out of the 8 nights on our honeymoon (Canada). This made it possible to rent bikes, go horse back riding, visit hot springs, etc. gifts: keep it simple, books. each person gets a book that's right for them. Then make it personal, write something special in the front. Other options for the guys are: pens, money clips, journals, etc. remember this will be the happiest day of your life, SIMPLIFY it and the whole experience will be more enjoyable. - BB

A. My husband & I were on a tight budget for our wedding & were very creative w/expenses. For our wedding party gifts we went to a local winery & had them make ... Get more ideas.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

What Are You Passing Down?

All of us are who we are today because others invested in us. I think about all the people in my family that have invested in me. My grandfather was very disciplined. He had a very strong work ethic. He taught me by example the importance of being diligent and giving every job my very best.

My grandmother was so full of joy. I never saw her upset. She constantly had a song of praise coming up out of her heart. She is a big part of who I am today. She's one of the main reasons why I smile practically all the time.

Growing up, my mother not only loved and cared for us children, but every day before we left for school she would say, "Father, thank You that my children have Your favor wherever they go." I learned to expect God's favor from my mother. You know what I'm doing today? Telling other people to believe for God's favor.

My father was constantly telling me how great he thought I was and how I could do anything. He took time to mentor me. He was busy, but he still gave me his attention. As a little boy, he used to go up to the hospital to visit people that were sick. He would always take me with him. He would have me join hands with the family when we prayed.

I think about how in Victoria's family they've had a special recipe that's been in the family line for four or five generations. It's called Senator Russell's Sweet Potatoes. They are the best sweet potatoes in the world. They've got a crust of cinnamon, sugar and nuts. We don't even like the sweet potatoes. We just like the crust! But what happened is that somebody came up with that great recipe generations back. They could have thought, "This is my special dish. I'm just going to keep it to myself." No, they were living with the mindset that "I've got to pass down everything good I possibly can." So one day that mother taught her daughter the recipe and that daughter taught her daughter. Eventually, it got down to Georgine, my mother–in–law. She taught her daughter, Victoria. Now, every Thanksgiving, Victoria and our daughter are in the kitchen making Senator Russell's Sweet Potatoes.

Let me ask you, are you transferring your wisdom, your experiences, your shortcuts, your recipes down to the next generation so they can start ahead of you? Read entire article.

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How To Remove Old Wallpaper

Q. I searched for and couldn't find any issues on good ways to remove wall paper. I have a room that has 30 years of old wallpaper on it, any ideas??? It is stuck! - Christina

A. This is for the person with the old wallpaper. Mix a solution of fabric softener and hot water 1/2 and 1/2 and put in a spray bottle. Spray the walls and start peeling. You can soak a rag and rub the wallpapered walls as well but the spray bottle is less messy. My wall paper was 20 years old and came off like a charm. Just clean the wall after with TSP (TSP is just the name of the product. I guess it is only available in Canada. It is a all purpose heavy duty cleaner in a granule form. It removes wax, grease, wallpaper residue, cleans concrete etc. I don't know what an equivalent would be that you could purchase in the US.) to remove the glue residue. - Monica

A. I saw this on "Trading Spaces"...you wet down the wall with a sponge, then with a scraper you take off the paper, for the STUCK on paper use the steam setting on the iron to lift it up then continue scraping. good luck - BB

A. Hi, Christina wanted to know about removing 30-year-old wallpaper, and said it was really stuck on. If it is really stuck on, then she doesn't have to remove it to ... Read the answers.

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Make Your Own Baby Products

Find helpful essential oil recipes for babies and children. Find recipes for baby powder, baby oil, teething gel and baby wipes.

Baby Powder

Use an empty shaker jar (from parmesan cheese or similar). Put 8 T. cornstarch in the jar and then add 20 drops Lavender Essential Oil. Lavender is calming and good for the skin with healing properties. Lavender has been used in burn treatment centers. Make in small batches to maintain the properties of the essential oils. Find more recipes.

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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Building a Doghouse Step by Step

My design for our new pal, Chase, incorporates a porch and extended “saltbox” roof attached to the basic doghouse design.

The basic house is simple to build, and if you want to add extras, as I did, you’ll see that the underlying structure is easy to adapt.

Design Basics

Size the house to fit the dog: It’s tempting to make a really roomy doghouse, but your dog won’t appreciate it. During cold months, your dog’s body heat keeps him or her warm. If the house is too big, the dog can’t generate enough heat to warm it. How big should a doghouse be? There’s no exact formula, but a good rule of thumb is to build it so your full-grown dog can walk in, turn around inside and stretch out completely.

Vent it well: In hot weather, good airflow will keep your dog from overheating. And in damp weather or cold weather, when the dog’s moist breath is steaming up the house, proper ventilation prevents mold from forming. Vents in the peaks of the roof will do the job as long as you leave the doorway open or just loosely cover it with a flap so there’s an adequate updraft.

Build it off the ground: This keeps the dog out of contact with damp soil. It also prevents the wood from rotting and extends the life of the doghouse.

Make it safe from the elements: Be sure water, wind and rain can’t enter. Generally, this means overhangs for doorways and vents, and tight seams everywhere.

Use dog-friendly materials: Anything that comes into contact with your pet must be safe for animals. That means you’ll make the floor, frame and walls from untreated softwood and plywood, rather than pressure-treated wood.

Customize to suit: Once the basics were covered, I looked at ways to improve on my previous design. First, I added a sheltered porch so our new dog could stay out of the sun and rain. I moved the doorway from the gable end to the porch side, for easy access. (I made the door pup-size for now. It can be enlarged later.) I also added insulation under the floor (to keep out cold in winter) and under the roof (to reduce heat in summer and retain it in winter). Finally, and this was a big improvement, I added a large clean-out door at the back of the house so I could easily tidy up inside. The result is a house with the flavor of a New England saltbox home. It’s based on the following basic design. Continue the article here.

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Understanding The Pressures On Your Husband

We hear a lot about the supermom syndrome, but rarely about our superdads. We place higher expectations on fathers in today's society than ever before. Unlike previous generations, dads today are expected to take a proactive role in caring for the children physically as well as financially.

Gone are the days when a man arrives home from work, loosens his tie, slips off his shoes, and reclines in the Lazyboy with his newspaper, which he thumbs through as he waits for his dinner to be served.

Today, many dads don't get that decompression time after a day at work. Some of the dads pick up their children from daycare on their way home. Others are immediately struck with the hassles of the day, while they struggle to make the instant transition from professional to father.

As a stay-at-home mom, I have often wondered why my husband sits in the car for a few moments after ... Read the entire article.

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Covering A Couch

Q. I have a reclining couch and loveseat that are only four years new and the material has worn away... three young children and an old golden retriever. Besides using a throw to cover the holes what can I do? Leslie, W

Recovering chair and couch--use the canvas sold for drop cloths as very inexpensive material. Dye it if you want to. You can make a simple throw to completely cover them or actually make slip covers. Your library will have books on how to make slip covers. If you have children, I suggest making a simple cover you can easily take on and off for washing. Be sure to preshrink ... Read the entire article.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Gardening on a Budget

Gardeners who need to make frugal decisions at this time of the year can take heart in a number of alternatives that will not only lower the cost of gardening, but will also enhance the pleasure! Here are five steps every budget gardener should follow:

Plan ahead
Make a list of what you'd really like to see in your garden and stick to it. There's no use growing winter cabbage, regardless of how lovely it looks in the frost, if no one in your family eats cabbage. A list will also keep you under control when you see the end-of-season sales and are tempted to purchase something on a whim. In addition, if you plan exactly where plants are going to go, you won't make last minute mistakes such as placing ... Read more about gardening on a budget.

Frugal Living Is Good For Health

The main reason that people adopt a frugal lifestyle is to save money but if done right your health can also be helped quite drastically by the changes you make.

Here is a list of 5 reasons why cutting back and saving cash could also save your health.

1. Frugal living often has the side effect of you eating less meat in your diet. A low meat diet is thought to help with many health issues such as blood pressure and cholesterol.

2. All that bargain hunting and saving on public transport means you are likely to be using your legs for walking a lot more. Walking frequently is well proven to keep your heart working well and helps burn off calories keeping your body fat down.

3. Restaurant meals often contain much more salt and fat than we would use in home cooking so as a side effect of not eating out you will eat less fat and salt, again helping with things such as cholesterol and blood pressure. Read the entire article and visit FrugalZeitgeist.com.

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Help With A Bathroom Vanity

Q. I need a way to refinish a cultured marble bathroom vanity?

I'm buying another house that needs a complete remodeling. I don't mind replacing some of the vanity tops but not all if I can avoid that since I'm trying to bring the remodeling in within my budget. These vanities are unsightly because of cigarette burns on them. One is crazed in the sink where the drain is. Can anything be done to refinish these without turning to a professional refurbisher? Joan

A. The only way to refurbish cultured marble is to sand down the top. This must be done with at least with a belt sander. You can not just sand the affected area. The whole top must be sanded to the same depth. Constantly check results with a straight edge.

A. The problems around the drain can only be solved with a new ... Read the other answers.

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"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