Tag Archives: Home Front

Most of us try to make good use of our money. We try not to over spend, limit our debt and have a saving account. But everyone has to eat. You can’t just cut food out of your budget like you can a cable bill. The issue is how to eat well while saving some money. In other words the question is how to be thrifty in the kitchen?trifty-kitchen

 

All the advice out there usually boils down to a few essential principles: cook at home, limit your purchases of pre-made convenience foods, and avoid wasting the food you bring home. Yes, there is some comparison shopping involved and yes, there is meal-planning.

 

No matter the size of your budget or family, you’ll see the difference in your bank account, and possibly your waistline too, if you stick to a home-cooking regimen. Whether you’re just starting to make your lunch or you’re ready to pickle the cucumbers you grew in your backyard garden, you’ll find plenty of culinary inspiration, as well as guidance on how to maximize your thrift in shopping for and preparing your food.thrifty

 

To get started on your thrift journey save everything. Pack your freezer. Have a bag for vegetable scraps. When it’s full make your own stock. Use the stock to add flavor to sauces, stews and to make soup.thrifty

 

Leftover that can’t be frozen can be used in other ways. Fry extra potatoes for breakfast. Stir-fry leftover rice with veggies, egg and soy sauce for delicious stir fried rice.Stir and serve hot!

 

Savings also start with your purchases. Have a good supply of staples on hand so that you will always have some options for meals. Wash and prep your vegetables when you get home, then store correctly so they last and try to use them quickly. It’s also important to be creative with what you have. See what’s in the pantry and freezer. If you have a recipe you want to try, but don’t have exactly the right ingredients, improvise a bit rather than buying more stuff.

 

Start small and keep going. In no time you will be cooking meals from a well stocked pantry and saving money at the same time as you begin your journey to be thrifty in the kitchen.thrift

Monday Muffins: Banana Chocolate Chip Mini MuffinsBanana Mini Muffins

 

I love banana mini muffins especially with the addition of mini chocolate chips.  Mini muffins satisfy your desire to enjoy a morsel of goodness, but you don’t have to feel guilty that you enjoyed an entire muffin! These mini muffins are delicious and low fat which sounds like a win-win to me! Perfect for snacking or packing in lunch boxes. Plus like many of the other Monday Muffins I have shared, they freeze well. The next time you have an abundance of bananas on hand mix up a batch of these healthy mini muffins! Banana Mini Muffins

 

Banana Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins

 

Ingredients:

 

1 cup light vanilla yogurt
½ cup fat-free milk
½ cup uncooked quick oats
½ tsp vanilla
1 large egg, beaten
1 large banana, mashed
¼ cup brown sugar
1 ¼ cup flour
½ tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ cup mini chocolate chips

 

Preheat your oven to 375.

 

Combine yogurt, milk, oats, vanilla and egg. Set aside for five minutes to allow the oats to soften then stir in the banana.banana muffins

In a separate bowl combine brown sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Combine the two mixtures to moisten. Dough will be very thick. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Prepare your mini muffin tins by spraying with cooking spray. Spoon batter into the tins and bake until golden brown, about 15-18 minutes. Banana Mini Muffins Enjoy right away or let cool and freeze to enjoy later.Banana Mini Muffins

When taking on home improvement projects, it’s tempting to attempt to do it all yourself. And while I’m a big believer in self-reliance, there are simply some things that are too complicated for a hobby DIY-er. Sure, it can be hard to admit that you need help and don’t have the expertise to do a project alone, but sometimes, you’ll end up saving money in the long run. Doing it yourself can result in costly mistakes if you’re not sure what you’re doing. More often than not, if you make a huge mistake, you’ll end up hiring someone to come fix it, and it will be much more expensive than it would’ve been originally. When are some instances when it’s a good idea to hire an expert?

 

Garage doors

 

A garage door seems like a fairly simple thing, doesn’t it? However, those springs that work the mechanism are amazingly heavy and bear a lot of weight. They can be really dangerous to handle yourself, and as this video states, it causes a lot of accidents for ambitious DIY-ers every year. When you need to install or make repairs to your garage door, it’s a good idea to hire someone else to fix it. This is just as much a safety precaution as it is making sure someone qualified is doing the work. If you install the door incorrectly, it could seriously hurt someone, whether it’s during the actual installation process, or after the fact.

 

Difficult plumbing issues

 

If you have a simple clog in your toilet, you can usually solve this problem with a plunger and a determined attitude. However, if you have a faucet that’s spraying water uncontrollably, or a burst pipe, it’s probably best to take a step back, and call your neighborhood plumber. They know what they’re doing, and they’ll have the tools to get the job done quickly with minimal damage. It’s also important to get things like cracks and drips taken care of early and efficiently before they cause major leaks and flooding in your home. Long-term water damage can undermine the foundation of your house or cause mold infestations that threaten your family’s health.

 

Electrical issues

 

Electrical issues can be really dangerous. When you don’t know what you’re doing, you run the risk of electrocution, as well as other complications. Unless you know exactly what the issue is and you already know how to fix it, it’s best to call an electrician to come in and assess the problem.

 

Interior Design

 

This one may not seem as important, but doing it yourself can be just as costly of a mistake as anything else on this list. If you’ve ever walked into Hobby Lobby and been overwhelmed by all of the decor options, and ended up buying way more things than you actually need because “they were cute,” you’ll know what kind of costly mistake I’m talking about. When tackling a new interior design project, it can be way too easy to get overwhelmed or over excited, and get a lot of expensive furniture and decor that you won’t end up using.

 

If you hire an interior designer or consultant, they’ll be able to look at the space objectively and help you decide what pieces will actually look good there, and what will actually be functional. You don’t want your home to look cluttered just because you thought the entire kitchen section at your local decor store looked good to you. Additionally, if you’re going for a very specific look in your bigger rooms, like a modern design for example, a professional will have insights on the subtleties that you wouldn’t have thought of yourself.

 

Redoing your floors

 

Some flooring options, like peel and stick laminate flooring, is fairly simple to figure out and can be done easily yourself. However, there are bigger projects, like replacing the carpet or doing tile, that are difficult to do yourself. For example, when you’re tiling a room, you not only have to remove the flooring that’s already in that room, but there’s a lot more involved with installing tile than a simple laminate. You’ll probably have to cut some of the tile, grout, and seal everything. If you do it incorrectly, you’ll have to painfully pull it back up and redo it with a new piece, as that piece will be ruined. If you hire a flooring specialist for this sort of project, you’ll have peace of mind knowing they’ll have all the necessary tools and they’ll get the job done efficiently.
There are plenty of simple projects that you can take on yourself, but it’s important to realize when the project is too big to handle alone. It’s okay to step aside, and let someone experienced take over.

 

 

Guest post by: Aurora M.

By July 1, 2017, The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation assures that waste haulers and drop-off centers must provide food scrap collection. I am more interested in managing my food scraps at home, it is simple and low-cost, and I can make wonderful compost, which is like black gold for my garden.gardening, composting, prudent living

 

The benefits of composting are many. It is a great soil amendment for my garden. Compost helps promote root development, enhances retention of water and nutrients and makes the soil easier to cultivate.What To do With Food Scraps

 

How to go about making compost from your food scraps? One simple method is to use a compost bin made of recycled plastic. Here in Vermont I can actually purchase these bins from the Solid Waste Management District. They are also available at our local hardware store. Once the snow has melted find a suitable site that’s convenient but also out of the way. It should be shaded and out of the wind. We have ours tucked in the corner of the yard. Our compost bin is within easy walking distance from the house yet not really visible when you drive in the driveway.What To Do With Food Scraps?

 

I also have a small compost container, which sits on my counter and is filled almost daily. When the container is filled it is brought outside and emptied into our larger bin.What To Do With Food Scraps?

 

When collecting materials to compost you want them to be in small enough pieces so that they will compost quickly. It is a good idea to layer your compost using one part of green material to 3 parts brown. Green materials are food scraps, manure, freshly cut grass, coffee grounds, and vegetable and fruit scraps. Brown materials are dry leaves, sawdust, shredded egg cartons, ground up eggshells, hair and wood ash.

 

Do not add meat scraps, diary products, oils or bones as they will attract pests. Do not use grass clippings that have been treated with pesticides or pet manure. Remember you will be putting your compost into your garden and you want it to be beneficial to your plants.

 

As the compost pile builds up you can either stir it with a shovel or remove the fresh compost from the bottom. We usually empty our compost bin each spring and dig it into our garden.What To Do With Food Scraps?

 

There are also other compost bins that you can build using pallets or wire. The bottom line is that composting is easy. Compost will take your food scraps and give you a supply of dark, crumbly hummus that will enhance your garden.What To Do With Food Scraps?

 

We are about to re-list our home with a new realtor. Hopefully this is the year we see a sale! Setting the right price and making an excellent first impression are both essential to attracting buyers so we can sell our home. Here are 10 tips to sell your home more quickly.Selling Your Home Quickly

 

10 Tips To Sell Your Home More Quickly

  1. The most important tip is to price it right from the start. After interviewing three realtors we chose the realtor that we thought would do the best job and price the house to sell. We don’t want to list high with the thought that we can lower the price later. If we price it too high many buyers may stay away thinking we’re not serious or we’re not willing to negotiate.

 

  1. We want to make a good first impression from the minute they drive in the driveway. It’s still too early to plant flowers or make sure the lawn is mowed but we can make sure the snow is shoveled and the path to the house is clear and the deck is free of snow.

 

  1. The Interior and Exterior should be clean and updated. We painted the exterior of the house in the fall and repainted the steps to the house. All the walls on the inside have been freshly painted and the carpeting was new two years ago. We have updated the light fixtures in the bathroom to give it a more updated look. The only thing we didn’t do is update the kitchen but the new owners will have to have something to do to make the house their own!10 Tips To Sell Your Home More Quickly

 

  1. As you know we have been packing and de-cluttering since the house first went on the market. The fewer things that are in the house the more open it will look. We have removed all the knickknacks and excess furniture. We have also taken down all the family photos so prospective buyers can envisions their family in the house. The only thing left to do is hire a cleaning service to do a deep cleaning.

 

  1. The rooms are all staged to show how they are supposed to be used; the office looks like an office, the family room looks like a family room. We do not have any odd rooms in our house where someone might wonder what it could be used for. The rooms are clean and spacious.10 Tips To Sell Your Home More Quickly

 

  1. We plan to make the property easy to show. We will be flexible and allow the prospective victors to visit when it is convenient for them. We also plan to leave the house when it is shown so the would be buyers can feel free to move about without feeling like intruders. This will give them the opportunity to discuss the pros and cons between themselves.

 

  1. We no longer have any pets but if we did we would remove them during a showing. When a prospective buyers is looking at a house they shouldn’t even know that a pet lives there.Pugs, dogs

 

  1. Before we even hire our new realtor we will discuss with him where the house will be listed. We want to make sure the house is listed on Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com and that the realtor will make good use of Facebook as well. The more exposure the house has, the more likely that we’ll find the right buyer.

 

  1. The listing should have top-notch photos. We actually rented a camera lens to take excellent interior shots. The realtor is welcome to use them or take shots of their own. Most homebuyers start their search online and decide which homes they want to look at based on the photos.10 Tips To Sell Your Home More Quickly

 

  1. Make sure the listing also includes photos of nearby recreation and area attractions. We have to remember that we not only selling our home we are selling a lifestyle.10 Tips To Sell Your Home More Quickly

 

By following these tips you should be able to sell your house more quickly. Of course real estate markets vary drastically depending on where you live. Here in Vermont sales are slow and it is a buyers market meaning there are lots to choose from.

 

Spring is the most popular home-buying season. The weather is good, and families with children can make a smooth transition before the new school year starts.

 

For some reason I have the perfect conditions to grow an aloe plant. The Aloe Vera plant is a popular houseplant with medicinal properties. The sap from the leaves has wonderful topical benefits, especially on burns and sunburns. I think I first started growing aloe plants when we lived in Florida over twenty years ago! These plants are an ideal addition to your home, and they are very easy to care for. In fact not only are they easy to care for, but propagating an aloe plant is also extremely easy.Propagating an Aloe Plant

 

My plant does so well that I find myself passing along baby plants to my friends. You might wonder how I do this. While you can actually grow an aloe plant from a leaf cutting it is much easier and more successful to propagate from offsets or “pups” .Propagating an Aloe Plant

 

Aloe vera is a succulent and as such, is related to the cactus. Cacti are fairly easy to propagate from cuttings, but aloe vera cuttings, with their high moisture content, rarely become viable plants. Rooting an aloe vera plant leaf seems like it should work, but all you will get is a rotten or shriveled leaf.

 

It is much easier to share this wonderful plant by removal of offsets. This is a simple process that anyone can easily do. If you look carefully at your aloe plant you will notice little aloe plants (offsets) forming off the mother plant. As a general rule the offset should be about 1/5 the size of the parent plant and should have several sets of true leaves.Propagating an Aloe Plant

 

When the offset is large enough remove the dirt from around the base. When you remove the offset you want to make sure it has a complete root system attached.Propagating an Aloe Plant

 

Plant the newly removed offset in a dry cacti-potting mix or make your own with one part potting soil and one part sand. Allow it to sit for one week and then water the soil. After this you would care for the aloe vera pup the same way you would the mother plant.Propagating an Aloe Plant

 

To successfully grown an aloe vera plant remember that the plant is a succulent and does well in a dry environment. They should be planted in a cactus potting soil mix and should have plenty of drainage. They do not like standing water. They also need bright light and do best in south or west facing windows.

 

Now you can not only grow your aloe plant successfully but you now know that propagating an aloe plant is easy and you can pass the aloe plant pups off to your friends!Propagating an Aloe Plant

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