An Unexpected Benefit of Portable Solar

As I’ve mentioned several times on Frugal Accomplishments posts, my husband and I received Goal Zero solar panels for Christmas from my folks. These nifty little portable solar panels, called the Nomad 7, are meant to be small and lightweight so you can tuck them into a pack for outdoor activities. Each of our Nomad 7’s fold up to be the size of a tablet device and they are meant to charge small devices like cell phones, tablets, and the like. While we’re very, very happy with how the Nomad 7 chargers work out for us, we’ve noticed something: they do not charge a smart phone with any speed. Want to use the “fast charge” setting on your device? Better plug it into the wall. Depending on how low our batteries are, it could take several hours to charge our phones, even in direct sunlight.

But you know what I’ve found? Continue reading

Frugal Accomplishments – Week Ending 21 January 2018

During the month of January, I’ve been participating in a Pantry Challenge as well as a No Spend Month. These two are somewhat flexible, and I’ve adapted things to our family by cooking from our pantry first, but still purchasing groceries, but avoiding most other purchases and food at restaurants. Since receiving the news of the government shutdown, I’m really glad I participated in these challenges – from the sound of things, my husband’s next paycheck may be quite short, so I guess the challenges will continue into February!

That said, here’s my list of frugal accomplishments for the third week of January – shared thanks to inspiration from Brandy at The Prudent Homemaker.

  • Charged my cell phone with the Goal Zero portable solar panel my folks gave me for Christmas several times this week.
  • Daughter started GED course at the local college; our $50 fee covers her student ID and whatever books she needs, plus she was given a free binder at orientation.
  • Replaced the emergency food in my truck – my son and I split one of the meals previously stored in it for lunch one day.
  • Free fun: everyone watched movies and slept in the living room Friday night as a treat for my son.
  • Rotating our stored drinking water and getting myself off soda again by drinking the bottled water we had on hand.
  • Made a menu plan of dinners from what is already on hand.
  • Used homemade dishwasher detergent for all loads.
  • Placed an order on for cold & flu supplies – applied a $1.25 coupon to a 6-pack of paper towels; bought cough syrup on sale + combined with a purchase of other cold supplies to get extra reward points for spending $25 on cold supplies; used $10 in reward points toward payment; received free shipping for order over $35.
  • Have been drinking herbal iced tea (from bags in food storage) and seltzer (purchased at the commissary, but still less than soda) in addition to plain water to cut my soda intake.
  • Went on a free field trip with our homeschool group.
  • Purchased Girl Scout cookies in bulk (budgeted for when I committed to the purchase from a friend’s girls back in December) and put most of the case in a hidden spot to draw out how long my family can enjoy them.
  • Ate oatmeal six mornings and pistachios for snacks – odd as that may sound, it is my attempt to regulate myself without paying $50 for a special high fiber breakfast supplement I had been drinking last year. The oatmeal was already on hand – some my husband bought, then realized he bought the wrong cut, and stopped eating – and I purchase the pistachios at the farmers market once a month for snacks. Even the banana slices and maple syrup I added to the oatmeal were already in the pantry/fridge; since one container of the shake mix lasts two weeks, I’ve already saved myself $25 for the week (and this fiber plan is *ahem* working fine LOL).
  • Budgeted for husband’s 31 January paycheck and had plans for paying extra on the car principal again – then got the news of the government shutdown. REdid the budget to account for *not* paying extra, but will track how much I would have paid in the hopes of paying it later if his check is short and back pay comes in later.
  • Checked out print books and DVDs at the library, as well as Overdrive e-books. The books and DVDs already watched are by the front door to go back while dropping my daughter at the college, so we won’t miss any return dates. (And the drop box is on the way from town!)
  • Husband made hard “boiled” (baked) eggs in the Sun Oven and we backed a dozen chocolate chip cookies in it from supplies on hand.
  • Dried towels on the drying rack instead of in electric dryer.
  • Used passive solar to warm the house during the day (and blinds/curtains to retain heat at night). Last night we got below freezing outside, but the house stayed 64F and the heat (set at 62F) never came on. Woot!
  • Son went to the neighborhood park with a friend and had a free playdate.
  • Downloaded several free Kindle e-books.
  • Husband found a YouTube channel about ranching hosted by a couple who live in an area we are considering for retirement; we’ve learned a lot about the animals, the machinery, and the area in just one day of viewing various episodes on the channel.
  • Received an envelope of coupons from my mom; took out what we can use and have the rest set aside for a neighbor.
  • My daughter road to a stake dance and to church with neighbors; the dance was the youth winter formal, so she wore a dress that her father bought her for a New Year’s formal during holiday visitation.
  • My husband has been in classes and was given a meal card, so he ate lunches at the mess hall instead of driving home for lunch all week.
  • My daughter carried a snack, sandwich, and water bottle to class instead of asking for fast food on the way home.
  • Bundled up with a blanket, hot cocoa, and the dog on a chilly morning (when I was the only one truly cold due to my health issues) and didn’t turn the heat up!
  • Let a friend with a new baby know about a neighbor giving away part of a box of diapers – no savings for me, but a good savings for her family and it made my heart happy. 😀

Frugal Accomplishments ~ Week Ending 22 Oct 2017

Each week Brandy at The Prudent Homemaker shares her frugal accomplishments from the previous week. These weekly posts are some of my very favorites to read – both Brandy’s posts and her readers’ comments provide a great deal of inspiration and encouragement for me.

Last week I was able to incorporate a few money saving ideas that I haven’t used in a while (marked with an *), as well as a couple of new (to me) things. I also made several big ticket purchases, one of which was a bit annoying (but I got a discount, so WOO!) and one of which is SUPER exciting to me and will save us money in the long run. Plus that item was sorta-kinda free; read on to find out what it was! Continue reading

Prepare Anywhere: Morale Boosters

As you may recall, I am currently working on a nonfiction book entitled Prepare Anywhere. The anticipated release is September of this year, with the hope that it will be available during National Preparedness Month here in the USA. This project came about because of my passion for helping people get more prepared no matter what their season of life or their ZIP code. While I enjoy reading fiction where folks have rural compounds and pantries the size of my bedroom, and I’ve gotten a kick out of watching reality shows where the family is building a castle, the truth is that’s just not attainable for me – or for a lot of folks.

Due to the military lifestyle, I’ve lived in areas where preparedness was a necessity; both when I was a child and now as a wife and mother. It can be overwhelming to look at some preparedness checklists and feel like you have to do it all, all at once, or it just isn’t going to be “right”. I really enjoy helping folks break those checklists down into more accessible chunks, and this morning I got a reminder on social media of one fun way of doing just that: storing morale boosting foods. Continue reading

Mid-ish Week Wrap-Up

I had a lot of fun writing up my “wonderful Wednesday” post last week; so much so that I thought it would be nice to do a midweek round up again. I can’t guarantee I’ll do one every week, but I’ll try. (On that note, what day do you consider to be the “middle” of the week? I usually think of it as Wednesday, since that’s the middle of the traditional work week – but I haven’t got a traditional work week. Even when I worked outside the home, I was in retail management, then property management, so my schedule wasn’t a nine-to-five, Monday through Friday gig. But I digress….)

Here’s some stuff that will hopefully give you a smile or something to ponder from my week thus far:

First of all, who can resist cute puppy and kitty pictures – especially when there’s so much negativity on ye olde interwebs these days? I give you – Courtesy Cute Dog Photo:

She looks a little downtrodden, doesn’t she? In her defense, we had just gotten back from the vet’s office. I’d share what she had done, but trust me, you don’t want to think those things. Don’t worry, though – it’s a routine procedure and she’s not ill. Feeling violated, yes, but not ill. (And for those dog people out there, she’s a five-year-old Lab and Fox Hound mix, adopted from a shelter a little over four years back. She has the lab “woodle”, not the hound bay. As she will tell you quite passionately, she is a goooo oooo oood girl who likes to goooo in the Subaru ru ru.) 😀

What are you reading and crafting this week? I’m about halfway through Give Your Child the World now (just started the North America section) on Kindle, and I’m a very few pages into Heat & Light. That one seems like something that I’ll need to really dedicate quiet time to; I just don’t feel like I’d be able to read it in earnest at the kids’ activities so it’s been waiting patiently in the book basket for a calmer time of the week.

If you haven’t already noticed the Blogroll tab here on my site, I’d like to encourage you to go check it out. The blogosphere is chock full of amazing people – I bet you’ll stumble across a few that you’ll enjoy reading as much as I do. I’m adding to it whenever I find blogs that I enjoy, so keep refreshing when you head to that page. For online reading this week, I’d recommend:

  • The 40 Bags in 40 Days decluttering challenge at White House Black Shutters – As some of you may know, this is an annual decluttering challenge that has been going on for quite a while now. This year the challenge begins in March; seems to me that it’s the perfect time to pick back up when one’s new year inspiration might be petering out a bit. I particularly liked the list of non-stuff things to declutter, as that’s what I’m personally working on these days.
  • A friend liked an interesting article on Aleteia today, making it pop up on my Facebook feed. It’s entitled Why a pro-choice woman joined a group of religious sisters for the “Walk for Life”. I enjoyed it because it speaks of friendship, love, unity, dialogue, and the ability to compassionately agree to disagree. I hope to see more folks coming together like this in the coming weeks and months, drawing on what we have in common, rather than continuing to allow ourselves to be divided over our differences. We can still be on our respective sides – whatever they may be – and be kind and respectful, as the women in this article showed about each other.
  • Speaking of love and respect, here’s another one – this time over at Literary Mama. It’s a piece called The Fall which shares a mother’s trepidation as she explains to one passionate youngster how things didn’t go their family’s way during the election. Beautifully handled, Mama.
  • Lastly, when it comes to stories, we’ve all got them to tell. I’ve been reading Gregory Patrick’s Mad Man Knitting blog for a while, and I’d love for you to head over and visit him as well. Even if you’re not a knitter, you’re in luck – he’s got a fine way with words for those who aren’t crafty, and a husband who crochets, for those “hookers” amongst my readers. He’s also got a new book coming out that promises some stories that really get into the background KNITTY-gritty  of how he got where he is today. (I’m sorry – I couldn’t resist that one.)

One last thing before you go: a friend and I have been discussing locavores and what kind of things one could source locally – and what ONE item we could individually commit to buying from local sources. Some folks are in spaces where they can grow larger gardens and raise livestock; others, like me, are in situations where livestock isn’t authorized but container gardens are. If you’re not already hyperlocal, can you think of something that you could source locally, and will you commit to doing so – maybe for one month, maybe for a season or a year? I’d love to hear from you in the comments on this, as I’ll be sharing some of our efforts in the coming months on just this matter. First I’ll bring some posts in from my old blog so you can see what we’ve done in our current area, but once we get moved and settled, I’ll share what we can come up with in our new region. I must say that the technology of today makes PCS’s (Permanent Changes of Station) exponentially easier for military families; I’ve already connected with the local homeschool group, figured out where the farmers market meets, and gotten info on a town food co-op that sources as much as they can locally. It’s going to be interesting how our garden changes as well, since we’ll be reversing our climate type completely for the fourth time since 2008!

Happy Thursday, everyone!