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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Trying to Live the Simple Life

As I have previously mentioned, I lost my job about 4 months ago and I have not been able to find another as of yet.  So I have been trying to find ways to save money,  Which I have found from searching the internet, many people are doing the same. The majority of folks are still living beyond their means and are trying to keep up with those "Johnson's".  

Colin and I have decided we don't care what the "Johnson's" are doing! We must save money and cut down on expenses.  When we have that mastered I will be sure to let you!  Here are a few things we are trying out at the moment.

Plastic zipper bags, everyone uses them for snacks, sandwiches, leftovers, as pencil cases.  I have decided to eliminate that expense completely.  I know you think oh that's not really going to make a big impact, but they cost between $5 to $7 a box, which lasts for about 2 months.  At least they did in my house.  that's over $30 a year.  Which to be honest I would rather save or spend elsewhere since I'm just going to throw it out anyways.  I remembered something my aunt used to do all the time, she would cut open the milk bag and wash it out.  There was always a milk bag drying on the banister at her house.  She would use the bags for my uncle's lunches and anything that needed a bag.  What a great idea, the milk bag was going to be thrown out anyways, might as well get a second use out of it before it goes in the trash.  a reused twist tie works great to keep it closed, or I have just folded it over when storing a tomato that has been cut.  

Energy savings.  I do think this is an issue for most everyone.  Where I live we have "Smart Meters" which basically means we have to pay more to use electricity during certain times and days of the week  Not the best idea, in my opinion to prevent brownouts and whatnot.  They are really just making sure the little guy lives in the dark until 7pm. But anyways we have had to change when we do laundry and run the dishwasher. Computers and TV's do not use much more energy than when turned off, so it's the big appliances that we have to watch out for.  I dry the towels and sheets on the little umbrella clothes line we purchased last summer.  It's was $60, not exactly a cheap item but I love the nice smell, and we don't use the dryer for anything but our clothing which is 2 loads a week.  
We also turn the dishwasher off when it hits the drying cycle.  The dishes can air dry. 

Cutting down the  grocery bill. This on I think is the hardest challenge for us.  We spend far too much money at the grocery store.  I'm terrible at planning out meals, or even just sticking to the list I have made. I will need to work on that.  But we do have a so called "Victory Garden".  I know I was not around during the Second World War, but I have been doing a lot of research on that era.  It was a touch time for everyone.  With the war on people from all around the world had to ration everything because the resources were needed for the war effort.  The Governments called on the civilians to create "Victory Gardens" so they could grow their own food as many farmers were asked to farm goods that could be made into rations for the men in the field.   Now I know that after the war many people continued to grow a vegetable garden.  But in recent years people have stopped because they didn't have the time or want to spend their time on a garden that may or may not produce what they want.  I am very lucky to have Colin, he has a big green thumb, I'm afraid I just don't know what I'm doing in the garden nor know what is a weed and what is not! Over the winder he grew from seeds vegetables in the basement. My parents gave us a couple of light fixtures used for growing plants indoors.  Colin researched what light bulbs to use at what times, and thankfully they are the low energy type.  We were able to successfully transfer most of the plants into the garden.  A few died, we think it was because it is so hot and humid out.     
Green peppers and cucumbers

 Colin made a quick lattice for the cucumber to climb out of wood we found in the garage from the previous tenants, and bamboo sticks from the dollar store.  This year he put plywood under it because last year the weeds grew and made it difficult to see when the cucumbers were ready to be picked.  

Also please note we would make the area around the garden prettier, but as I said we rent this house.   

Two mounds of compost soil and sheep's manure were made and compacted down for the row of green peppers and row of cucumbers.  We planted marigolds around the boarder to keep little critters from eating our plants. 

Lettuce was planted in the side of the pepper mound. 

 A larger circular mound was made in the middle for onion, cauliflower, arugula, spinach (which is not doing well) and watermelon.
On the lattice was have tomatoes and sweet peas.  The tire rim in the back is our compost. 

Things are starting to become ready to eat now.  I have not bought lettuce in 3 weeks!  That's a savings of about $16 already! The only problem is that the romaine is almost gone so we have to grow them in sequence so there will be a steady supply.  I have also talked to Colin about the possibility of have some of the vegetables grown inside over the winter.  We can save over $20 a months on growing our own lettuce, imagine how much more we can save. 

If you have any other neat ideas I would love to hear them. 

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