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Showing posts with label frugal tips.
Showing posts with label frugal tips.

11 December 2013

This Christmas, more than ever I wish to not succumb to the holiday buying fever and come up with original handmade gifts for my family. To be honest, I've managed perfectly fine so far.

And because I am getting overly-excited about making my own bath and beauty products, here is my ultimate list of handmade goodies I wish to be able to complete before Christmas and gift to my family.

Rosemary Shampoo Bar

Because I love no-pooing and I have turned my family into no-pooers as well. This will be a treat!

Marshmallow Root Herbal Shampoo

The is perfect for rehydrating hair that gets dry easily in winter.

Birch And Lavender Nourishing Hair Lotion

Because birch strengthens and nourishes your hair and lavender  has anti-fungal properties. The will also fight dandruff.


Handmade Probiotic Deodorant

I wouldn't gift a regular deodorant for the world now that I know how toxic they are. What better way to get my loved ones on the healthy underarm path than by making a for them!

Coco-Mint Lip Balm

Knowing how hard it is to find a really healthy lip balm I prefer making my own. Here's to my first try! I hope this recipe for will work.

Aches and Pains Balm

The will be the most sought-after gift for members of my family aged 60+. Can't wait to see the effects.


Sugar Face Scrub

I still haven't met a person who doesn't like the . So, I am definitely making it.

Sugar crystals by

Homemade Laundry Detergent

I was terrified when I learned how much we polute the world oceans with the laundry detergents we use. So, why not educate my family and show them that the does the job even better than the commercially produced one.

Homemade Toothpaste

This is a recipe for I have been promoting anywhere I can because I love how simple and yet effective it is.

Madagascar Black Pepper Soap for Men

Here is a treat for the male part of the family -- .

Beeswax Candles

And in the end, let's make a or two to ensure that the holiday spirit will linger.

What handmade gifts are your working on this holiday season?
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08 January 2013

We are starting the Go out of your comfort zone month with an inspiring  post by our Paige Ronchetti.

I'm going to be honest with you: I'm not always the most ethically-minded shopper. Yes, I support independent and handmade businesses, and I like to buy things secondhand instead of new, but there are other times that I hit the mall just like everybody else. I know it's not the best (in fact, I know it's bad; children really do work in factories to make our clothes), but sometimes I feel too rushed and just want to get stuff done. I don't think I'm alone in this, either.

My little sister is the only person I know who has totally stepped out of her comfort zone and has changed the way she shops. Now she won't buy a single thing from a major clothing retailer, and I think that's awesome. Her passion for fair trade began while she was in college, and she recently turned what once was a step out of her comfort zone into an awesome new resource for ethical shopping:

When she was telling me about it a few months ago, she said, "I know more people would be into fair trade if items were easier to find." And I was like, "YES." So now that the list has been made and is ready, it's time to spread the word.

You may only know the term "fair trade" in relation to coffee or chocolate, but a ton of things fall into that category now, including jewelry, clothes, and home decor. The lists websites that provide all of those items and more. The sites have been thoroughly researched by my sister and one of her friends, and all of them meet a set of  that include fair wages and safe working conditions.

I'm totally proud of her not only because this project is awesome but also she is a great example for stepping out of your comfort zone, turning it into a passion and now inspiring others.

Pop on over and see for yourself! If the marketplace is going to change for the better, consumers need to make the first move.

Do you do any fair trade shopping? What's your favorite place to go? Have you heard of any other ethical shopping guides?

Paige Ronchetti lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband. They have no kids and no pets, which gives them a lot of time for eating spicy food and looking for bargains. Paige's blog is is a collection of projects and pretty things. There you can find DIY tutorials, home decor inspiration, and affordable fashion ideas. When she is not blogging, Paige is working on her vintage-inspired jewelry lines, and . Connect to Paige via or .

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22 December 2012

This post is written by Vanessa Williams.

Greetings from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania - Christmas City USA! We are in full swing holiday mode here. (We have to be, the Christmas trees decorating our lamp posts start going up around Halloween!)

I have a confession - I am a Christmas kook. I just LOVE the holiday season and all the festivities that go with it. It is one of my favorite times of the year. It seems like everyone is in a cheerier mood - just happy and friendly.

Like many of you, I am busy this time of year - but only because I want to be, not because I have to be. This requires some careful planning and coordination on my part (like shopping for Christmas all year round and finishing by Veteran’s Day weekend), but that allows me to take in some of the many, many activities and holiday shows that happen around here.
Lehigh University Vespers by

Perhaps my favorite thing in town is to walk around and see the beautiful windows of all the independent shops that have been decorated to the hilt. Christmas music plays in the air, tourists bustle about, and friendly shop owners offer a cookie and a smile. Last year there was a welcome addition to our quaint downtown - a pop up village of crafters inspired by the markets in Germany. With the clip clop of horses pulling carriages of visitors through the historic neighborhood it’s a magical time to live here.

But outside of all of the hubbub some of my favorite activities are the simple ones that all of us can have no matter where we live - activities that we do with friends and family. Annual traditions that grow and change over the years, but hold a special place in our hearts.

For me, this means two things: a holiday craft and cookie baking both with my mother (and growing up, with my sister). Over the years we have made a lot of things - ornaments, stuffed snowmen, even garland. My mother and I were reminiscing about making gingerbread houses the other day and how a “simple” project ended up taking all day. Three batches of royal icing and god knows how much candy later we were finished and my mother swore we would never do that again!

Other projects, like the wonderful cinnamon ornaments that made the whole house smell fantastic, were a hit and will be repeated in the future as the new addition to my family, my daughter Cora, grows older. Cora has brought a new level of excitement and magic to the holiday season in a way that only children can.

This year the holiday craft made a comeback, after being shelved for a few years. I am obsessed with vintage Christmas anything, so we made vintage inspired bell ornaments with little snowy dioramas in them. They turned out pretty well if I do say so myself. (This is a big accomplishment for me since for all my mother’s talents, the artsy gene skipped me.)

Cookie baking we got brave this year and tried not one, but three new recipes. They all ended up being absolutely delicious and we agreed they will be kept in our ever-growing repertoire. Cora supervised.

Other things I love to do this time of year are just stay home, get a fire going, and watch one of the many holiday shows, with Rudolph being my absolute favorite. What’s not to love? It’s quirky (an elf dentist?!), it’s retro, and it has a great message (being different is ok).

These simple memories are the ones I cherish most despite going to countless light displays, shows and other holiday activities over the years. So I hope you take the time to slow down and spend some time how you see fit. Relax and enjoy the holidays. Much love to you and yours from my little corner of Pennsylvania.

Vanessa Williams is the author of where she explores how lower standard of living doesn’t mean lower quality of life. After her decision to  get off the beaten track and forge new paths she has found that living with less actually means living with more. Vanessa explores the luring and dangerous grounds of the consumerism trap and offers a solemn and wise account of her real life experiences on the quest to finding what truly matters in life. Connect to Vanessa via and .

15 December 2012

This post is written by Cory Trusty.

Strained and sprained ankles can seem to take forever to heal.  Mugwort is one herb that can be used externally to help speed recovery. Mugwort or Artemesia vulgaris is an easy to grow garden herb which has many uses in Traditional Westen and Chinese Herbal Medicine. The Chinese name for dried Artemesia vulgaris is . 

Photo from one of my visits to the Bastyr University Herb Garden.

Mugwort is used to make moxa which is used in warming external moxabustion treatments by Chinese medicine practitioners for various injuries. In order to  from mugwort the herbs must be dried, ground and allowed to age for 2 to 3 years.

photo by
I prefer to dry my Mugwort and save it for making or , or I keep some stashed for in case of ankle sprains or strains. 

I collect my mugwort in March in Central Florida, but the time of year will vary from region to region. You should harvest Mugwort when it is in full flower. Cut back the stalk and hang it to dry in a well ventilated dry place. 

The mugwort I use is a variagated  variety that I got a start of from the  in Seattle, Washington.  Here it is up close under our digital microscope.

Once you have your Mugwort dried to a crisp you can store it in a glass jar away from the sunlight. 

If you need it later for yourself or a friend, you can simply take up a few large handfuls and add it to a big stock pot with lots of boiling water. Let the water boil and then simmer for about 45 minutes. 

The next step is to let the water cool just to the point that the hot water will not burn the skin. Then dip a towel into the hot water.  Wring out the towel and wrap it around the sprained ankle.  Let the towel sit on the ankle until it starts to cool, then dip it again in the hot brew and wrap again one or more times.  When the brew cools it can be stored in the refrigerator and used again the following day by reheating on the stove top. 

Don't have mugwort?  You can also try this with Comfrey root or Comfrey leaf. Frankincense and Myrrh resin can also be used, but it needs to be ground a bit and boiled for a full hour.   

What are your favorite remedies for strain or sprained ankle?

Cory's Kanelstrand blog posts are licensed under Creative Commons. You are free to copy, distribute and adapt Cory's Kanelstrand content provided you attribute it to her by linking back to the original post as well as Cory's  website.

Cory Trusty is a soap maker, community herbalist, organic gardener, and homeschooling mom to two girls. Cory and her family live in Daytona Beach, Florida. Cory's background is in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Biology.  She is sharing tried and true natural home remedies and mini lessons from herbal classes that she teaches. Cory works full time making soaps, shampoo bars, herbal salves, flaxseed heat packs and more for her website . Read more from Cory at the . Cory is also a Food and Gardening writer for EcoEtsy and has published in The Essential Herbal Magazine and on the Herb Companion Blog. Connect with Cory on , ,  and .

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11 December 2012

This post is written by Paige Ronchetti.

Getting into the Christmas spirit doesn't have to be a literal interpretation, especially when it comes to accessories. I'm not the kind of gal to bust out a Santa sweater or reindeer earrings; instead I like a more subtle approach using the colors of the season. I did some perusing on Etsy and found a collection of lovely handmade items to make you feel festive without going overboard:
1. These could take you straight from fall, all the way to Valentine's Day. The green background makes them perfect for the holidays, too. $12

2. Light green aventurine and sterling silver make is easy to stack alongside others for a pop of color. $25

3. Sometimes a small bag is handy while shopping, and this is the perfect size. $33

4. Even if you don't do much to your hair, adding a is an easy way to dress up an outfit. $3.99

5. And who doesn't love a ? It will keep you warm while adding some merriment. $20

How do you like to dress during the holidays? Are you in the simple group, too, sticking more with colors instead of themed outfits? No matter what you prefer, be sure you support small handmade businesses this season! Have you purchased any handmade accessories lately? Or made some yourself?

Paige Ronchetti lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband. They have no kids and no pets, which gives them a lot of time for eating spicy food and looking for bargains. Paige's blog is is a collection of projects and pretty things. There you can find DIY tutorials, home decor inspiration, and affordable fashion ideas. When she is not blogging, Paige is working on her vintage-inspired jewelry lines, and . Connect to Paige via or .

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30 November 2012

This post is written by  Annie of Montana Solar Creations.

Reusing and repurposing junk mail has become a daily activity in our household. It has become a fun adventure to find new ways to reuse junk mail instead of just throwing it out. Junk mail fills our mailbox almost everyday: credit card offers, advertisements, catalogs, insurance offers, political ads and the list goes on.

We cannot recycle paper in our area so we used to throw junk mail in the trash to be shipped off to the local landfill each week. Now we find all sorts of fun uses for junk mail. Each day when we check the mail, we search through the pile of junk mail and see what creative ways we can reuse it.

Here are 25 ideas for how to reuse and repurpose junk mail:

1. Make a paper airplane.

2. Coloring paper for kids.

3. Use blank sides of paper to print mailing labels.

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4. Use colorful paper or catalogs for wrapping paper.

5. Crumple it up and use it for packaging materials.

6. "Free" child's toy. Our daughter loves playing with junk mail and it provides hours of entertainment.

7. Make upcycled beads for jewelry.

8. Use the blank sides for scratch paper or list making.

9.  Find colorful pictures and turn them into gift tags or hang tags for your products if you're a vendor.

10. Fire starter. Any newsprint junk mail we get is put into a crock by the woodstove with the kindling to use as fire starter.

11. Cut it into strips and use it as a bookmark.

12. Reuse the return envelopes that come in the junk mail but make sure to cover any bar codes on the front of the envelope.

13. Make your own envelopes from the paper.

14. Cut strips and glue them together to make a holiday count down chain.

15. Have children cut out pictures and shapes to make a collage.

16. Make a hand held accordion fan. This was a favorite for us over the summer!

17. Use the paper and catalog pages for origami.

18. For Etsy sellers: Use blank sides of paper cut into small pieces to write a little thank you note to send along in a package.

19. Make holiday collage cards. Cut out pictures or shapes from the colorful
junk mail catalogs and make your own unique upcycled cards.

20. Cut out sewing patterns. I use this for patterns I print off the internet and ones I draw myself.

21. Lay down pieces of junk mail to cover the table or counter for protection when working on a messy project.

22. Cut out paper snowflakes. We like to pick the most colorful pages out of a catalog to make our paper snowflakes.

23. Use blank sides for invoice lists. When I deliver products to shops I sell at in town, I take an invoice list written on the back of repurposed junk mail and the shop owners appreciate the creative repurposing!

24. Use blank sides of paper for recipe cards.

25. Make your own large size mailing envelope by having the blank sides of paper facing out and wrap clear tape around it for protection. We just received a package like this and can't wait to try making our own!

How do you reuse and repurpose junk mail?

Annie lives in western Montana with her husband, 15 month old daughter and two lazy dogs. Annie is a frugal, nature loving, simple living, work from home mama with an . She also blogs at where you can find DIY projects, real food recipes, natural living tips and stories about their outdoor adventures in Montana.

13 November 2012

This post is written by Paige Ronchetti.

I haven't talked about it much here, but I make for a . It's not life-changing work like brain surgery or designing a better solar panel, but the skills are surprisingly useful. Really! Designing a whole piece from scratch may be kind of tedious for some people, but basic jewelry skills are so handy. One of the easiest things to do is remove extra/unwanted beads from a piece, which is a great thing to know when you buy pieces secondhand (or get something strange for Christmas).

To get started, you just need your piece of jewelry and these two pliers, which are available at craft stores or large websites like Amazon:

I'm making over this necklace. I loved the color of the beads, but the dangly teardrops on the bottom were too much for my simple taste.

The dangly beads are attached by metal pieces called jump rings, which are extremely common in jewelry-making. To remove the beads, we just need to open the rings.

Take your needle-nose pliers in one hand and your round-nose pliers in the other. Use them to grip the metal. Open the ring by moving one hand toward your body. Don't try to pull the ring sideways or you'll never get it back together if you decide to use it again.

When you pull the ring apart, it should look like this:

Just slip the ring off the chain and repeat until all of the beads are gone. Conversely, if you want to add beads to something, you open the ring the same way, slide the bead and chain into the opening, and close the ring by pushing the ends back together. It might take a little practice to line the ends up again, but once you figure it out it's like riding a bike.

In the end, my "new" necklace looked like this:

Ah, much better. And now I have a little pile of beads I can turn into something else! Maybe I'll show you more about that next time... Have you ever tried your hand at jewelry-making? What are some of your favorite tips for making over a piece?

Photographs by Paige Ronchetti.

Paige Ronchetti lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband. They have no kids and no pets, which gives them a lot of time for eating spicy food and looking for bargains. Paige's blog is is a collection of projects and pretty things. There you can find DIY tutorials, home decor inspiration, and affordable fashion ideas. When she is not blogging, Paige is working on her vintage-inspired jewelry lines, and . Connect to Paige via or .

06 November 2012

So here I am, November, a little cold because of your breath, a little less colorful but still keeping the summer warmth on our cheeks.

Every day I cross off you takes me closer to Christmas and Christmas is a holiday I respect and I used to love before consumerism. Every year Christmas looses a bit more of its charm for the sake of big corporations' financial stability.

I grew to hate Christmas outside my home because what I see is not what I feel anymore. Last year on Black Friday I told I was instead. The reason is no secret, I am sick of the crowds in the shopping centers frantically buying anything they see.

Christmas is supposed to hold different values than the one that has to do with money. It is so ironic that this specific holiday, that is about the birth of Jesus, about family and kindness, has been so much exploited as to reach to the level of the event with the highest economic impact in the year.

by My Hideaway

This holiday season I have a suggestion for you. You can start planning and crafting your presents today or you can trust me and check out all the amazing advertisers on Kanelstrand.

I take pride in everyone I work with. And for that to happen I have to believe in them. Every would-be advertiser goes through serious screening before they appear on the blog but once they are here I can wholeheartedly stand up for  what they do. I take care to present to you eco-conscious artists and crafters, who have a unique point of view and I guarantee that they create with love. My advertsiers are people who you would like to be your friends.

Go ahead and click on the beautiful images in the left sidebar. If you like what you see send the shop owner a message, say that you have come from Kanelstrand, tell them what you think about the shop. You might simply warm their heart without expecting anything in return. Sometimes these people need some loving too :)

23 October 2012

This post is written by Nicole Hart.

Frugalcharacterized by or reflecting economy in the use of resource (Merriam-Webster).  I am a word nerd... so when I volunteered to write about living frugal  I immediately turned to a dictionary to get a little clarity on the subject.

I myself try to be frugal. Beside growing up with limited resources, one of my early inspirations in frugality was "The Good Earth" by Pearl S. Buck. The main character O-Lan pinches pennies (metaphorically - story takes place in China),  as only I could imagine doing; she scrimps and saves, making every scrap of fabric and morsel of this or that count. I remember also practicing at a lovely Zen center in Portland when I lived there, being moved when one of the zen masters said with great clarity, "Even the scraps in your sink belong somewhere," and it is with this in mind that I try to be frugal and waste not.  These experiences made an impression on me and started me on my path to living frugal. Life is a journey, we find pieces of the past started the story long before we realize where it would lead us. I have found myself dancing to the beat before realizing there was music playing.   

So many of us work 40 hours a week to provide our families. This takes time away from the ones that we love, and to remember this when spending or not spending is of great help in making our lives richer. I will throw out tips and helpful advice once a month as a reminder to myself as well you, fabulous readers out there, trying to live simply... as respectful citizen of this green planet.  

Photo by Nicole Hart

My frugal tip this month, because I love soup and the weather is perfect for it, is to make soup - a huge pot of soup.  Soup is quite affordable to make. Just takes some time to cook, makes the house smell amazing and will give you a healthy addition or meal to munch on instead of the eating out. 

Soups can be frozen and used for at least a couple of weeks (if not longer). One of my favorite types of soup is a ten bean soup. It requires soaking of the beans overnight or a quick boil - set aside and cook method.  All of the bags of bean soups that I have bought have cooking directions on the back. 

Easy ways to spice them up is to add celery, carrots, red peppers, onion, garlic and your choice of seasoning (I use black pepper, salt and cayenne... oh and curry).  Once you've soaked your beans or had them sit a bit after the quick boil, you'll want to brown your veggies using about 1/2 cup (or more) of each of the veggies listed. 

Cook in a skillet until golden brown (with oil or butter) and add to your pot of soup. Just stir regularly on medium heat. If you are interested in adding a little extra flavor, chicken stock (or vegetable stock) can be used in place of about 1/4 of the water. Your soup will thicken the longer you cook it. I usually cook mine for a few hours. You can also add corn starch to thicken.   

This is just one quick recipe and idea for living frugal. Cooking meals at home in general will stretch your resources and slow you down some to enjoy how wonderful life really can be.  Hope you've enjoyed this little side trip in your journey.  

I'd love to hear your comments or questions. How often do you make soup yourselves and what is your favorite recipe?

Nicole Hart is a Louisiana native (currently living in Virginia)  with strong ties to her Cajun ancestry. Very blessed to come from such a lively, loving and colorful culture. She has been writing for decades and thought it time to share and grow. Recently written her first published article for a local paper in the little town she lives in and volunteered to write for Eco Etsy, which she is thrilled about!! She also creates, mostly with textiles and has a . A mom, wife, daughter and sister, Nicole is currently living in a quaint historic town, about an hour outside of D.C., in Virginia. She enjoys beautiful seasons, mountains, rivers and is close enough to visit the seemingly never ending museums and goings-on nearby.

09 October 2012

This post is written by Paige Ronchetti.

I've never been a fan of pre-packaged Halloween costumes. You drop $40 or $50 on a cheap, flimsy outfit to wear for one night. Half the time they fall apart. They're not comfortable or flattering. It's just a big waste--both in terms of money down the drain and eventually sending the thing to a landfill.

Assembling my own costume has been a tradition since elementary school. Not only is it more fun, but shopping at secondhand stores takes care of those waste issues I just mentioned. I also feel like thrift stores offer more possibilities than Halloween shops, which tend to carry the same things over and over again. I'm a huge Halloween fan in general, and I like having endless possibilities when shopping for my party outfit.

Still not convinced? Let me show you some of my favorite thrifted costumes. One year I dressed as a 1960s housewife. The dress, apron, and brooch were all purchased secondhand:

Two years ago I went as Hermione from Harry Potter. I found an old prom dress at GoodWill for $8(!) and added a bustle made of fabric scraps:

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And this one I did not purchase (because I've already started my costume for this year) but I thought it was magnificent and the best example EVER of a thrift store having costume-worthy items. I took a picture for you in the dressing room at GoodWill:

Yes, a beaded evening gown and a faux fur coat. All you need are some pearls and a tiny dog.

Do you get your costumes at thrift stores? What's your best secondhand Halloween find?

Paige Ronchetti lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband. They have no kids and no pets, which gives them a lot of time for eating spicy food and looking for bargains. Paige's blog is is a collection of projects and pretty things. There you can find DIY tutorials, home decor inspiration, and affordable fashion ideas. When she is not blogging, Paige is working on her vintage-inspired jewelry lines, and . Connect to Paige via or .

28 August 2012

This post is written by Paige Ronchetti.
This is the coolest thing I've tried in a while. We all know that heat damages our hair, so we try to avoid it. But what if we want curly hair for a special occasion? Foam rollers don't work that well (for me, anyway) and pin curls are the most time-consuming thing in the known universe. So what's a gal to do?

Curl your hair with a headband!

I heard about this idea last week and was blown away by how easy it is. Three steps, that's all!

I left my headband on for a few hours, and then gently tugged it free. I used a regular brush to comb it out (because it will look really weird when you first unwrap it) and spritzed a bit of hairspray to keep things in place. That's it! Think about how much work pin curls and foam rollers are in comparison. Headbands for the win!

Bonus fourth step: enjoying your easy new trick.

How do you curl your hair? Have you tried this headband method?

Paige Ronchetti lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband. They have no kids and no pets, which gives them a lot of time for eating spicy food and looking for bargains. Paige's blog is is a collection of projects and pretty things. There you can find DIY tutorials, home decor inspiration, and affordable fashion ideas. When she is not blogging, Paige is working on her vintage-inspired jewelry lines, and . Connect to Paige via or .