We’re saving money with COUPONS!

I’ve shared with you my new project/hobby of couponing yesterday but I also want to give you some examples of what we’ve been able to save. I don’t plan to share these deals often unless you lovely readers enjoy them (so, speak up if you do).

On Sunday I was able to score my best deals in my short 2 weeks of couponing. Raleys in our area had a fantastic buy 4 or more deal for selected varieties of General Mills cereal for $1.50 each and I was able to pair that with multiple manufacturer coupons for $1 off 2. That brought the final price of Chex and Cheerios to $1.00 a box!! Raley’s also had Colgate Toothpaste on sale for $0.99 which paired with my $0.50 off coupon. Final price was $0.49 a tube! Continue reading “We’re saving money with COUPONS!”

Coupons, coupons, coupons.

With the launch of TLC’s Extreme Couponing I’m sure posts like this one are commonplace. I do however feel I need to share my experience for whatever its worth. As I mentioned before, I’ve been struggling for some time with a shoulder injury that has had an enormous impact on many areas of our lives. I wont bore you with the details. In short, I’ve had to cut my pay-the-bills job down to about 1/3 of the hours I was working pre-injury which has cut a considerable portion of our “extra” funds each month.
After watching Extreme Couponing once, my interest was piqued. How can you watch shoppers save up to 95% of their bill and not want to give it a go? Of course as the title of the show suggests, you will see EXTREME cases on the show at stores which allow coupon doubling (not available in my area). I have not set my sights on a 95% savings but anything is better than nothing in my eyes. So, I set out on a new project. Continue reading “Coupons, coupons, coupons.”

We’re back…

I’ve been absent for quite some time and have missed logging our progress and obstacles we’ve encountered along the way. Lots has been happening, though not much in the way of actual progress on the house and property.  Life carries on whether we’re checking things off the to-do list or not. Our focus has been split between many things in the last 6 months or so and house and property projects have been seeing less of our time. I’ve been nursing a shoulder injury for what seems like an eternity which has dramatically limited the physical work I’m able to do around here. Between our pay-the-bills work, the house work, dogs, medical stresses, and finding a few minutes each day to enjoy the company of the people we love, this project has taken a back seat.

We are now nearing the end of December and should be in full winter mode. We’ve had 3 pitiful dustings of snow and are still seeing daytime temps in the 50’s and its dry, dry, dry. Sure doesn’t feel like Christmas is in less than 1 week.

We powered right through summer and fall in the blink of an eye and are still behind schedule on the garden area.  We lost some of our fruit plants over the summer while on a trip to visit family…watering boy didn’t do such a great job. Our garden was nothing to write home about this year and paired with the loss of 4 of 5 blueberry bushes and 1 of our fruit trees and still not having been able to complete our fencing in the backyard/garden area we’ve been feeling a bit defeated in that arena.

We have made progress on the exterior of our home. I spent a few weekends with some help prepping and painting a portion of the exterior of our house. What a difference that makes! But that project can’t be completed until some siding on the back of the house is replaced and in order to do that we need to remove the deck. Each project we’ve tackled has held true to the “opening up a can of worms” line.

One of the last posts I made was about our second dog Bee who has been with us for about 8 months now. She turned our daily routines upside down nearly from day 1. She came to us with a bad case of whip worm which wasn’t diagnosed until we had had her for 2 months. She has been improving slowly after finding a combination of worm treatment and digestive tract support. Life with Bee is starting to normalize and we’re able to sleep again!

Now that life is starting to become a bit less chaotic, I’m hoping I can find the time to keep this project up to date. Lord knows we have a million projects we’d love to be able to share but the challenge is finding the time!

Septic Safe Cleaners- Update

Last year, I shared my thoughts on the septic safe cleaners we used for various cleaning chores. Since then, we have tried a handful of different non toxic and septic safe cleaners.
Surprisingly, our very small local grocery store has a slew of options when it comes to non-toxic, eco friendly, and septic safe cleaners compared to the 2 or 3 options at the larger grocery store chains (another reason I love our local shop).

septic-safe-cleaner

We’ve started using Ecos Laundry Detergent which runs about 7 bucks for 50 oz (1 oz being the suggested amount used for a full load in a front load washing machine). It’s formulated with replenishable and sustainable essential oils and low sudsing plant based surfactants. Their website states Ecos detergents are 100% biodegradable, non-toxic, and have a neutral PH of 7-8. Furthermore, Ecos detergents do not kill bacteria in septic systems and they are also safe for grey water systems.  Something that I love about this detergent is its effectiveness in cold water washing since the majority of our laundry is washed cold. It’s compatible with high efficiency washers as well as both top and front load. An added bonus for me (if you’ve read about my attempt to rid our house of as much chemical exposure as possible) is that Ecos detergents are free of 1,4 dioxane which is present in many laundry detergents and is known to pose health risks and contaminate ground water. Continue reading “Septic Safe Cleaners- Update”

Are our skin care products safe?

On my quest to rid my diet of chemicals, I began questioning the safety of my shampoo, soaps and lotions. Browsing through a few labels on the products in the bathroom, my stomach turned a bit at the thought of all the stuff I was slathering on my skin on a regular basis. But how harmful are products when used topically?
There is great debate about what percentage of substances your skin will absorb. With the use of transdermal patches for medication, cosmetic manufacturers boasting about deeper penetrating wrinkle fighters, and hair products using nano-technology there’s no question in my mind that at least some of the ingredients in the products I’m using are breaking the skin barrier and entering into my blood stream. A study done by the Environmental Working Group shows the presence of phthalates, triclosans, parabens, and musks in the urine and blood samples taken from 20 females ages 14-19.
So what are these chemicals?

Phthalates are used in a wide array of products but I’m focusing on their impact on cosmetics and body care products and according to The Environmental and Health Working Group in 2002 phthalates were found in 72% of beauty products. Dibutyl phthalate (butyl ester), diethyl phthalate, and butylbenzyl phthalate (BBP) are 3 of the more commonly used phthalates in cosmetics. Phthalates are sometimes vaguely listed as “fragrance” or “plasticizer” on labels. Phthalates in cosmetics are used to aid penetration, binding, and flexibility. They’re used in hairsprays, gels, and nail polish to make the product “stick” and perfumes so the scent lingers. Continue reading “Are our skin care products safe?”

Lights out…again.

As if we needed another reminder that winter is well on its way we’ve started the season of frequent power outages. One was due to a storm which means we were prepared for it. Heavy rains and strong winds of 40+mph are almost a guaranteed outage in our area. Another two outages were unexpected. We rely on our Honda generator from a previous post to keep our refrigerator cold and will fire it up if we’re without power for more than a couple hours. We also have a supply of battery powered lanterns which make navigation so much easier. We keep at least one in every room, including the bathroom, in designated areas so we know just where they are. This is a shot of the 3 that we use the most.

The green lantern is a Rayovac SE3DLN Sportsman Extreme 300-Lumen with 2 brightness settings, runs off of 3 D batteries, 72 to 150 hours of run time depending on the setting. Cost is about $25 on Amazon.

The smaller grey lantern is a  Brunton Polaris LED Lantern, 95 lumens, with 2 brightness settings, runs off of 3 C batteries, up to 45 hours of run time. Cost is about $32 on Amazon. Continue reading “Lights out…again.”

Heavy rains in mountains of california

Last weekend California experienced heavy rains, and high speed winds and those of us in the mountains got even more!

We received over 4″ of rain, and winds approaching 30mph where we are located. Power went out for about 8 hours, and we were able to put the Honda EU2000i to use. The generator was actually able to power the office, plasma TV, Direct TV box, and our refrigerator even at startup. The refrig at startup definitely lugged the generator for a second but then everything was working as it should! We are using the Honda EU2000i on extension cord currently other than being messy and a pain in the house it’s working great! (Generator is not in the house.)

During the storm I decided to drive around the property and take some pictures of the huge amounts of water that was coming down all over!

This is between the hills in the backyard. Old road straight ahead now blocked, existing used road to the left, and road behind where I took this picture.

This is what it looked like behind me as I took this picture.

Years of erosion has caused the one side to be a perfect place for water to flow.

This is behind the garage, and is dirt that was brought in to level it out. We were expecting runoff, and plan to put in drainage which will actually go past picture #1 which is well over 200 feet away. The flood water above was actually running from in front of the garage, and up the hill over 200 feet from where I took that picture. The water all was flowing into picture #1. Lucky for us, a little way out of picture #1 is where the pond is planned 🙂

Septic Safe Cleaners

Moving into a house with a septic system made us much more aware of what goes down our drains. This was a perfect reason to get away from using the harsh chemicals we were accustomed to. Getting over the impulse to reach for typical scrubs, sprays and liquid cleaners containing bleach every time I thought something was germy or stained wasn’t hard. I’ve found alternatives that satisfy my need for cleanliness but don’t harm the break down process of the septic contents.

clorox-wipes-and-lysol
The new Clorox and Lysol disinfecting wipes and spray (since you let it dry and don’t rinse away) are perfect. No chemicals go down the drain but I can still wipe down the counters after raw meat is prepared and they’re great for bathrooms, too. Continue reading “Septic Safe Cleaners”