homemade ginger: February 2012

My Simple Beauty Routine

Tuesday, February 28, 2012



Even though I'm a busy mom of three young kiddos, I still think it's important to take a few minutes of pampering for myself each day.  I'm pretty minimalistic when it comes to beauty products. Over the past couple of years, I've tried to weed out the random cheapy stuff and buy just a few higher quality things to use daily. These products are probably not perfect, it's just what I use right now. It's simple, it works and it's been saving me money because these things all last a very long time, so I rarely buy makeup at all anymore.




For about 2 years now, I've been using Everyday Minerals and I've loved their products.  They claim to be totally natural and organic (as opposed to many of the other "mineral" makeups out there)... I'm sure someone could find something wrong with their ingredients or products, but it's what works for me right now.  There are so many differing opinions and scary articles out there!  Anyway, I've had great success with Everyday Minerals.  They are similar to bareMinerals , but at a fraction of the cost.

They have recently changed all of their base colors, so I had to find a new one. The great thing is that you can get 7 free color samples to try. I actually had to order 2 different sets of samples because my skin color is hard to match.  I'm super fair, but have freckles...so I never know if I should match my white skin, dark freckles or somewhere in between.

I found a new color that works perfectly for me: Fair Medium in Original Glo.  There are a few different finishes to choose from.  And there was a sale, so it only cost me $8 (normally $12). One of these foundations usually lasts me about 6 months. But, I don't wear it everyday so it might not last as long for someone else.



 I have had this same blush for almost 2 years. The color is called Summer Stroll-which I don't think they even make anymore. It's pretty sheer which is great for me.


I also have a high quality foundation brush which I love. I think this came free with one of my purchases. They are constantly having freebies and sales, so just check them out if you are interested!



The concealer I currently have is in "Aussie Perk Me Up" which I like as well. It comes in a roller applicator option which I decided to try.



I received a freebie eyeshadow and purchased another one recently also in the roller applicator...



The colors are great and the eyeshadow is high quality. I expect it will last me a really long time
In some ways I like the roller applicator, in other ways it's annoying. I guess it would just be personal preference. The color on the left is Hot Chocolate and the one on the right is Everlasting Love.


By the way, Everyday Minerals has no idea who I am and did NOT pay me to say all of this. I honestly have been using their products for a few years and just wanted to share!


I've been wanting to switch over to an organic mascara, but they are so expensive!! I saw this at the drugstore about a month ago and snatched it up! It's Physicians Formula Organic Wear Mascara and I found it at Target. I think it was about $8.  Not sure how it compares ingredients-wise to the more expensive ones, but I've been happy with it so far. Maybe someday I will experiment at making my own. 



Finally, I'm not a huge lipstick person, but I do like Burt's Bees Lip Shimmers . They last me forever, have a pleasant taste/smell and are very sheer. I found this one on clearance at Target. The color is Papaya and even though it looks dark, it's actually very pretty and kind of peachy on which is good for my skin tone.


So, there you have it! I know these aren't the cheapest products out there, but I think by using just a few high quality and long lasting products, you will save yourself money in the long run!


*note: this post contains affiliate links*

Frugal Living Day 23: Cheap Dates

Thursday, February 23, 2012


One thing we've learned in our 6 1/2 years of marriage is how important a date night is.  Of course these dates were fairly frequent and easy before we had kids.  Now that we have 2 young girls, weeks and months can go by without a single night to ourselves. Going on dates can be costly when you factor in babysitting...so no wonder so many couples with young kids never go on them.  Reid and I made a decision that we would continue to seek out date nights even though it wouldn't be easy.  Here some tips and tricks we've learned along the way!



1. Go Cheap. Very rarely do we go to pricey and fancy restaurants.  Usually the only time we grace the doors of a fancy place is when we have a gift card or it's someone's birthday.  Groupon is our friend. Anytime we find one for a restaurant that we might like, we jump on it. It also gives us a push to plan a date because there is a deadline to use your coupon or Groupon before it expires. Even if you don't have a Groupon or coupon, be adventerous and find a hole in the wall burger joint to explore. It will be more memorable (and less expensive) than eating at some fancy schmancy place every time.



2. Don't take your kids out to eat.  A few months ago we had a giftcard to Applebees and decided to take our girls.  As we sat down, we realized that Lula had only been to an actual sit-down restaurant a few times and Jane had never been to one.  As the dinner at progressed, we remembered why we never take our kids.  Going out to eat with kids is expensive. You have to buy kids meals that usually don't get eaten, are mostly unhealthy and are pricey for the amount of food.  And secondly, it's not enjoyable (for us anyways). We spent the whole time trying to entertain our kids, force them to eat their expensive kids meals and apologize to other people next to us as toys were thrown in their direction every five minutes. Maybe your kids are very quiet and well behaved, but it's not worth it to us. Instead, why not save your money by treating going out to eat as a "date night only" experience.  By eating out less frequently, you'll feel less guilty about going out with your spouse.



3. Start a babysitting co-op.  This is the best thing we've done to enhance our date night frequency.  We set up a babysitting co-op with another couple in our church that have kids the same ages as ours. One week, we will babysit for them while they go out for a few hours.  The next week, we drop our kids off at their house and have a few hours to ourselves. FREE babysitting! And when it's our turn to "babysit" it's so fun! Our kids play great together and we get a little bit of a break because they occupy themselves...plus we know other parents are receiving a much needed date night...and it's our turn to enjoy one next time! You could set this up with one other couple, or if you are really brave...do it with a bunch of couples.  Everyone can take turns having tons of kids at their house once in awhile while the parents enjoy free babysitting and much needed alone time. Win-win.




4. Have an at-home date night.  There are months where we simply can't find the time to go out on a date, or maybe we just simply don't want to spend the money. So instead, we do what we call "at home dates".  We will feed our kids and put them to bed. Then, we cook a new recipe together for dinner. Usually it's something that we wouldn't normally try for dinner as a family.  Maybe we'll make a fun dessert as well.  After we cook dinner, we will watch a movie on Netflix or rent something from Redbox and it's as good as a date!



Don't skimp on date nights if you are married.  They are really important.  Now you have no excuses!

Do you have any tips for creating a cheap date night? Please share!!



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Frugal Living Day 21: Oil Cleansing Method

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Over the past year or so, I've  been slowly trying to weed out all of my personal hygiene products for a more simple, natural and frugal routine.  I've recently been a convert to the "oil cleansing method" for washing my face. And I love it.


Not only is it majorly saving money, it's totally natural and healthy.  I don't have to worry about anything harmful going on my face and it feels amazing!

If you don't know anything about the oil cleansing method, Simple Mom has a great post explaining it all.  I won't try to re-explain everything since you can just click on that link and read it for yourself!

Basically, the principle behind it is that oil attracts oil.  Most everyone believes the myths that putting oil on your face will make you break out and make your skin oilier. It's actually the opposite. Putting oil (namely castor oil and olive oil in my case) on your face will draw out the impurities in your pores and help regulate the natural oils in your skin.  Using harsh and drying soaps on your face (which is what we usually do) actually makes your skin oilier because it's over-compensating to make up for the natural oils you've just dried up and washed away using the harsh soaps. Again, read the simple mom post for more info!

Here's how I do it (there are different recipes and methods)  I used about 2/3 olive oil to 1/3 castor oil in my solution and it's been great. I have normal to dry skin. If you have oilier skin, you should use more castor oil. I didn't measure exactly, just filled a little squeeze container that I found at Walmart up with the oil and shake.


Apply the oil to your dry face and massage in.  This does wonders at removing makeup! I also like to massage it into my neck.  While I'm rubbing it in, I get a clean washcloth and run hot water on it.

Then, put the hot wash cloth on your face until it gets cool.  This opens your pores and lets the oil do it's work.  Rinse the washcloth off and wipe the oil off your face. Done!



I do this before bed at night and just splash cold water on my face in the morning. I have found that my face is a bit dry in the morning and needs a bit of moisturizer.  Since I have fair skin, I'm on the hunt for a good natural moisturizer with a bit of SPF in it.  If you have any suggestions, let me know!

I don't have an exact cost breakdown, but I did find that you can buy pre-made oil cleanser for about $25 a bottle on Amazon.  The castor oil was about $3 at the drug store and the olive oil was about $4 and I'm thinking these big bottles will last me at least a year, so you are saving big bucks! Obviously regular face soap is probably less than $25 a bottle, but I think that the $7 I spent on the oil that will last me a year is still far less than buying the cheap store brand of face soap!


Here are some links to other blogs for more info on OCM:


Keeper of the Home
Sorta Crunchy
Simple Mom

Frugal Living Day 16: Homemade Bread

Thursday, February 16, 2012

On thing I've been doing for a few years now to save money, is make my own bread.  I definitely go through spurts with this and consistently make it for months and then get lazy and start buying it for awhile.  It does take a little planning to keep up with it.  I've found that making a few loaves at a time and freezing them saves me tons of time.  It's great to just pull a loaf out of the freezer and not have to think about making some or going to the store.  Plus, it's nice to know exactly what's going in your bread...especially since it's come out in the news that not all things labeled "whole grains" are really what they claim to be.






This is the BEST whole wheat bread recipe I've found.  A huge shout out to my friend, Bryanna for giving this to me.  I don't know where it originated, but the bread comes out so light and soft every time...unlike the dozens of other whole wheat recipes I've tried.  You can make the dough in a bread machine and then transfer it to loaf pans. Or, if you have a mixer (I wish I did!) you could make it that way.


I strongly encourage you to find a white whole wheat flour like this one:

It's still 100% whole wheat, but will yield a lighter textured loaf.




(This recipe is not written for a bread machine. If you want to make it in your bread machine, I would recommend doing a 1/2 recipe and just making the dough. Then, transfer your dough to a loaf pan and follow the recipe from there. )


The BEST whole wheat bread

2 1/2 C. warm water
1 1/2 T. yeast
2 C. white whole wheat flour

Combine these in your mixer and let it sponge for 15 minutes.

Cover mixture with 1 Cup of flour * to protect it from the oil and honey. Add remaining ingredients slowly.

1/3 C. oil
1/3 C. honey
2 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 Cup wheat gluten
3 Tbsp dough enhancer (optional...I buy mine online)
4-5 Cups fresh whole wheat flour (that # INCLUDES the one cup you added up above *

Add flour to mixer slowly until it begins to pull away from the sides of bowl. Dough should be smooth and elastic. so don't add too much flour

Knead 6-10 minutes on speed 1.

Form the dough into 2 loaves and place in greased loaf pans. Allow to rise until doubled in size (about 30-60 minutes). Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350. Allow to cool 10 minutes in pan before placing on cooling rack.




Considering that a good quality loaf of 100% whole wheat bread costs at least $3, this will save you a ton of money! I'm guessing this recipe costs about $1 a loaf.

Frugal Living Day 13: Homemade Abrasive Cleaner

Monday, February 13, 2012



This simple, all natural and super cheap homemade cleaner is similar to "scrubbing bubbles" or "Ajax". I use it on the tub and kitchen sink. It's great!  The best news is that if you already made some veggie wash, you are halfway there!!

Take some vinegar and water and put it in a spray bottle. (or just use your veggie wash)

Spray your vinegar mixture on your tub, sink, counter...whatever you are cleaning.  Now take some baking soda and sprinkle it on.  It will begin to foam up.  Take a sponge and wipe it down. Done!

I didn't even bother doing a cost breakdown on this one just because it's so cheap...I'm sure the homemade version is pennies compared to buying a bottle of scrubbing bubbles...not to mention it's totally safe to have around kids! Yay!

Frugal Living Day 8: Beans...Dry vs. Canned

Wednesday, February 8, 2012



"I love beans.  Big, fat, hot, juicy beans. Don't get me going on beans..."  The first person to tell me what movie that quote is from will earn the #1 coolest reader award.  (no cheating allowed!)


My frugal tip for today is all about beans. Exciting stuff, huh?  I went through a major couponing phase.  It was time consuming and frustrating for me.  Yes, exciting to get things for super cheap.  But, I found myself buying unhealthy things...like cheap oreos and pop tarts.  Don't get me wrong, I still use coupons...but I try to turn to other ways of saving money. Like making my own bread, buying regular rice instead of instant and buying dried beans instead of canned.


There are many different ways to use dried beans.  I recently discovered the ease of using the crockpot.  I filled the crockpot up about 1/2 way with beans, and filled the rest up with water.  In about 8 hours (on low), I had perfect beans!

I usually make a big batch and freeze them in smaller portions to use for whatever...homemade refried beans, soups, burritos...etc.





I also love using dried chickpeas (instead of canned) to make homemade hummus even more frugal than store bought. And, the hummus comes out so much creamer with the dried (and then soaked and cooked) chickpeas!  I recently discovered that if you add a little bit of baking soda to the beans while they are cooking, they come out much softer, resulting in a smoother hummus.



I also like storing my dried beans in mason jars.  Mason jars make everything look pretty, don't you think? I found a bunch at the thrift store for pennies.

So, when it comes to beans...buy dried and save money! It does take a little more time, but if you make big batches and store them in the freezer...it's so quick and easy! Plus, you don't have to worry about any unhealthy additives that the canned variety might have.

Here's the cost breakdown:

Canned
1 16 oz. can of pinto beans: $1 = about 1.5 cups (drained) of beans for $1
Total: about $0.66 for 1 cup of beans


Dried
1 lb bag of dried pinto beans: $1.50 = 6 cups cooked beans.
Total: $0.25 for 1 cup of beans

Frugal Living Day 6: Go Meatless

Monday, February 6, 2012

I've learned that a great way to save money is to go meatless one or two days a week for dinner.  We've especially been doing this ever since we joined our meat CSA.  Since the organic, grass fed meat is a little more expensive, we've found that eating meatless meals about twice a week makes up for the extra cost of the  higher quality meat.  I've found some filling favorites that please everyone!


This spicy bean and lentil casserole is one of our favorites.  And if you used dried beans instead of canned, it's even cheaper to make! (more on dried vs. canned later this week)



Spicy Rice, Bean and Lentil Casserole 
 (adapted from 500 Best Healthy Recipes)



2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp minced garlic
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3 3/4 c vegetable stock or water
3/4 c brown rice
1/2 c green lentils
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp chili powder
1 can red kidney beans (you can substitute any type of bean that you like)
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup salsa

Salt to taste


*Saute garlic, onions and green peppers in oil for about 3 minutes. Stir in stock, brown rice, lentils, basil and chili powder. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until rice and lentils are tender and liquid is absorbed.

* Stir in beans, corn, salsa; cover and cook 5 minutes or until heated through.

* We like to eat this topped with shredded cheese and sour cream with a green salad on the side. It's super delicious and very filling!!  We also put the leftovers in tortillas for quick meatless burritos for lunch!



Some other of my favorite recipes featuring lentils are:



Lentil and Rice Casserole (from passionate homemaking)








Sloppy Lentils (also from passionate homemaking)




Some other ideas for meatless meals that we frequently eat would be:

Homemade Whole Wheat Mac and Cheese with a green side salad or veggie

Whole wheat pasta with marinara sauce, topped with cheese with a green salad or veggie and garlic bread


Caesar salad wraps(you can add avocado and omit the chicken) in a pita pocket or tortilla, hummus and veggies and fruit.





Does anyone else have any favorite meatless recipes that they love?

Frugal Living Day 3: Homemade Foaming Soap

Friday, February 3, 2012



This tip may be a no-brainer that most of you all know already, but I'm still sharing it!! I've talked many times about my love for Dr. Bronner's Soap. For the past few months, I have found another use for it...homemade foaming hand soap!

All you need to do is find an empty foaming soap dispenser.  I'm currently on the lookout for nice metal or glass ones, but they are very difficult to find! 





Fill it up with about 1/8 cup of Dr. Bronner's soap (I don't ever measure, I just eyeball it and add more if the soap feels too thin)






And fill the rest of it up with water.  And you now have all natural, great smelling foaming soap at a fraction of the cost!!


Here's the cost breakdown:

Store bought:
all natural hand soap (18 oz.) - $5


Homemade:
Empty foaming soap container - free
1/8 cup Dr. Bronner's Soap - $0.80

Total: $0.80


Curious about how else to use Dr. Bronner's Soap?
Here are some other homemade recipes that I use containing this soap:
powdered laundry detergent
liquid laundry detergent
cleaning wipes solution
cloth diaper wipes solution
all purpose cleaner







...

Frugal Living Day 2: Homemade Veggie Wash

Thursday, February 2, 2012



It's Day 2 of 29 days of frugal living.  I'm going to show you a quick money saving recipe for homemade veggie wash.   Have you ever bought this stuff in the store?
It's great for washing any dirt or pesticides off of your fruit and veggies. But, a 16 oz container is over $10 on Amazon!


I quickly found a natural and cheap alternative to washing your produce.  Here's what you'll need:





You need vinegar and an empty spray bottle. I used apple cider vinegar, but white distilled would probably also work.  I found my spray bottle for $1 at the dollar store.

Pour in about 1/2 cup of vinegar and fill the rest with water. Shake it up.



And start washing those fruits and veggies!



Here's the cost breakdown:

Store bought:
1 16 oz. bottle of veggie wash: $10.32

Homemade:
1 empty spray bottle: $1
1/2 cup of organic apple cider vinegar (one bottle is $4.20): $0.50
Total: $1.50

Frugal Living Day 1: Frozen Fruit

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


For Day 1 of my 29 days of frugal living challenge, I'm doing a simple little quick tip that you all might already do...freeze your own fruit (and veggies).






I've mentioned this before, but Dole pineapples are $1 each at Aldi right now.  Usually they are about $3-$4, so this is an amazing deal.  Plus, if you are trying to eat organic, pineapples are on the "clean 15" list...meaning that there really is no need to buy organic in this case.  So, I went and bought 4 pineapple and decided to cut it up and freeze it.

Here's how to do it. Cut off the top and bottom




Cut off all of the outer skin





Slice into fourths



Cut off the center core (not pictured) it will be the harder portion of the flesh...the pointy part of each fourth.  Cut into chunks.




Spread the chunks on a baking sheet and freeze.




Once frozen, store in a freezer bag in the freezer.  I tried this without freezing the chunks individually on the baking sheet first and it definitely froze all in one huge chunk in the bag.  If you do it this way, each chunk is perfectly separate.




Here is the cost breakdown:

1 small bag of store bought frozen pineapple:  $3.


1 large freezer bag of pineapple that I froze myself: $1.

Love it!  And I came up with an AMAZING smoothie by accident.  It's a pina colada green smoothie and it's delicious. I can't wait to share it with you.

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