Three Budget-Friendly Date Ideas

HI! This post from the archives ran last year around Valentines Day. Although dating our spouse should be a high priority all year round, it’s especially relevant during everyone’s favorite (or least favorite!) romantic holiday.   > > >

Those of us in the early stages of raising kiddos might not have the extra money or energy to hit the movies each weekend, but you can still make some amazing memories right in your own home. Caveman and I enjoy “home dates” a couple times each week. Here are our top three budget-friendly date habits.

The Art of Leftovers Wizardry

I don’t claim to be an expert in anything, but there is one thing I’m not too shabby at and that is effectively concocting meals using leftovers. My mama taught me well; she is the queen of making leftovers into casseroles that taste gourmet. Using up leftover food helps to squeeze more meals out of the food in your home, helping to make the most of your grocery bill. It also puts a smaller dent in your environmental footprint, I would argue, because heating up leftovers often takes less cooking time (and therefore less electricity or gas is used). The self-proclaimed “Frugal Zealot” Amy Dacyczyn (also mentioned here and here) wrote a great article called “The Art of Leftover Wizardry,” which outlines very basic tips on how to use up that tower of Tupperware guarding your fridge’s shelves. I don’t have the space to share the article in its entirety, so here are her main points…

Honey Whole Wheat Bread (for Good Friday)

This morning I woke up and immediately wanted to bake bread. So I did. I opened my spice cabinet door where my favorite honey whole wheat bread recipe lives, allowed Red to pull up his stool to “help,” and then we measured and stirred and kneaded until two steaming golden loaves sat atop my counter. One loaf will go to a good friend who loves bread and is moving away soon. The other went to the new neighbors who moved in next door. Two loaves of bread, both headed to bless two families coming and going. And the more I think about it, the more I realize that I can’t think of a better day than Good Friday to share my favorite bread recipe with you.

Three Not-So-Obvious Reasons to Recycle

I am pleased (and slightly ashamed) to announce that we recently started regularly recycling household goods, for the first time in my life. And I mean really recently—like since the beginning of the year. Of course I’ve been wanting to start recycling for a while now, but excuses always stopped me. We don’t have enough space for another bin or curbside recycling is so expensive in Colorado; we can’t afford it or I’m a busy mother of two. I can’t think about recycling on top of everything else! Several weeks ago we jumped in with both feet.  Caveman bought a bin to serve as the collector, and we joined the fight to save the Earth by driving our recycling to an actual sorting center. Since then, I have realized a couple things about this new life habit. Among them are three not-so-obvious reasons to recycle…

Seeking the Minimum Level

A while back I told you about The Tightwad Gazette. I warned you that I’d be sharing more jewels of wisdom from this oldie-but-goodie, and today I’m dishin’ Dacyczyn. She wrote an article entitled “Seeking the Minimum Level,” which describes practical ways of scaling back our usage of everyday items in the name of pushing the ‘ol budget that much farther. The article resonated with me because it was so straight-forward. By consuming less, we not only spend less but we also waste less. It’s a win-win-win-win. Today I’m sharing the piece with you. I’m excited to see what you think about it! (To save space, I may have omitted a paragraph or two. The integrity of the article is intact, I promise!) So without further ado… Amy Dacyczyn, people. (Give her a big round of applause!). Or applesauce. Whichever you feel like.

A note from the Oil Cleansing Method

Howdy. I’m the mixture of caster oil and olive oil sitting in a plastic bottle on the Shoebox bathroom counter. They call me the Oil Cleansing Method (OCM). I’m new round these parts; been here ’bout a few months, so I thought I’d write up somethin’ describing my job in this place the humans call the Shoebox. (Click through to read this exclusive guest post by OCM.)

A homemade pumpkin spice latte

It’s no secret that people love a good pumpkin-anything this time of year. And with good reason! The orange color and the scent of accompanying spices truly capture the essence of the season. I made my first pumpkin pie of the year this past week. It’s not that I can’t wait until Thanksgiving… I just happened to have all the ingredients already and the crust was made and waiting and Caveman loves pumpkin pie so, well, conditions were just right. But I couldn’t fit all the filling into the pie pan; there was about a cup and a half of filling left over. Since I just got this awesome coffee maker that I’m just a tad bit excited about, I decided to attempt a homemade pumpkin spice latte with the remainder of the pie filling. It. Was. Delicious. So my gift to you this weekend is the recipe for liquid fall happiness. Continue on to make magic in a mug…

Why I don’t use coupons

Couponing can be turned into a game for the frugally minded. I have friends who are so coupon-savvy, they’ve actually had the store pay them to bring home a bag full of goodies. They match sales and deals and coupons like master poker players—always knowing which card to play, at the right time, to gain the upper hand. They’re so cool. Me however, I’ve tried. I’ve just never been able to fully master the art (or is it a science!?) of using coupons to save a ton of money. And you know, I’m OK with that. Here are some reasons why I don’t use coupons.

How to cook dry beans

Cooking dry beans is ridiculously easy, although the process seems to sometimes intimidate even the most seasoned cook. (Hah! Pun absolutely intended.) The preparation steps may take a little longer than the cooking you’re used to, but the majority of that time is soaking. It’s like growing while you sleep—completely effortless and so productive! I’ll give a quick overview of the process, and then we’ll walk through each step in detail. Grab a bag ‘o pinto and let’s go!

How to get a great patio set on a budget

I’ve been wanting a patio set for 6 years now. When we lived in the house, we said we’d buy some each summer. Then summer would roll around and we’d say we couldn’t afford a set. (Instead we’d haul our kitchen chairs outside and use cardboard boxes as a table. We’re classy like that).  Then we moved to the Shoebox and we thought we didn’t have enough room out front. We did have these great stone-and-rotting-railroad-tie steps to sit on, after all. They would do. So for two years we’ve been spending our outside play time perched on low stone steps and ruining our backs. This year I said enough. This is the summer I got my cute patio furniture. Read on to discover how we bought and customized an old metal bistro set for under $50.