Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Preserving the Harvest

I spent the summer and early fall preserving our garden's harvest and the additional produce I purchased in season. I actually started out canning a few years ago, starting simple with jams and pickles and since then have worked my way up to more difficult items which require a pressure canner.

There are numerous benefits to canning:

  • Save money by purchasing large quantities of items when they are in season

  • Purchase locally from growers to support my community

  • I spend a large quantity of my 'spare' time canning, so I am not out shopping or looking to do other things which cost money

  • My family loves the better quality of the items I have canned

I was lucky enough this year to win two ribbons at our local county fair - both for my canned jams! I won second place for my black raspberry jam and third place for my red raspberry jam. I proudly display the ribbons in my kitchen. Also, everyone in my family now wants a jar of my jam for Christmas instead of other gifts.

I can't say enough good about this new way of life for us - planting our garden, harvesting our food and preserving it. I would encourage you to try it as well if you have an interest - but please be careful to always, always, always follow the directions when canning!

Until another frugal moment hits,

The Frugal Queen

Monday, July 20, 2009

Inexpensive Gifts for Younger Kids - Make Your Own Playdough!

We were invited to my niece's birthday party this past weekend and I was at a loss on what to get her. She is the youngest of 5 and pretty much has everything a kid could want to play with already.

I also had another problem in that I did not want to spend a lot of money on the present as #1 - I am frugal by nature and #2 - my sister has a tendency to give everything away to the goodwill within six months of her kids getting any gifts.

So I hit upon an idea - I made play dough for my niece! I purchased 2 packs of 2 plastic containers each at the dollar store (along with a birthday card for fifty cents) and then I proceeded to make four different colors and fill the tubs with play dough!

Here is the recipe:

* 1 cup of flour
* 1 cup of warm water
* 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar
* 1 teaspoon of oil
* 1/4 cup of salt
* food coloring of choice until desired color is reached

You have to combine the ingredients in a sauce pan over medium to high heat until it is congealing. You then take the mixture out of the pot and kneed it on a cutting board until it reaches 'play dough' texture. (Be careful when you first pull it out of the pot, because it will be hot!)

The present only ended up costing me the $2.00 for the containers, the cost of the ingredients for four batches of the recipe above and the fifty cent birthday card. Not bad - especially when you consider that this present was the one my niece loved the most!

She was delighted when she opened it and she had to play with it as soon as she finished her dinner! (Even before the birthday cake was cut if you can imaging that!)

So, next time you want an inexpensive, creative, easy to make gift - try the play dough idea above. It will be a hit!

Until another frugal moment hits -

The Frugal Queen

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Cheap 4th of July Fun for All!!!!

It is the 4th of July and we enjoyed some family fun this evening for little to no money through an idea I heard on NPRs Talk of the Nation Science Friday. The idea was to make fountains of diet pop 2 litters (clear soda in our case, not the diet coke like shown in the photo to the left) by dropping Mentos mints into the bottles. We added one extra patriotic touch by adding food coloring to two of our three bottles - making the colors red, white and blue. We used diet generic lemon/lime soda , added a few drops of food coloring to two of the three bottles, and then dropped four mints in each bottle.

The entire cost was under four dollars - the bottles of generic pop were 78 cents and the roll of Mentos were 99 cents. The food color came from my kitchen - presto - patriotic fountains which were safe for the kids to play with. ( I have to admit that I also turned it into a science lesson, but don't tell the kids because they still believe they are on summer break! ;) )

For more ideas on inexpensive fun for the 4th of July, check out the episode of Talk of the Nation's Science Friday which gave me the idea - available at: .

Hope you had a great 4th of July! Until another frugal moment hits -

The Frugal Queen

Friday, June 19, 2009

Why take a Staycation when there is VRBO?

We just finished a week at the beach in a private condo and spent less than $1000 for the entire week - food & gas to get there (2000 miles round trip) included - for a family of five. This was much better than a Staycation which is how we spent the Fourth of July week last year.

The key to our great, low cost vacation was finding a private condo, one block from the beach for $490 for the week. (True, it wasn't directly on the beach, but walking the block to the beach didn't kill us.) I found the condo through a website called Vacation Rental By Owner - VRBO. The owner of the condo was very pleasant and everything worked out great!

The condo had cooking facilities, so I was able to prepare the majority of our meals. It also had a washer and dryer, so we didn't have to pack a lot and we were able to clean up our beach clothes each day when we got back.

Another benefit of renting from a private individual was the beach where we were was not very crowded during the week because those around us in the other condos were at work! It was wonderful.

Check out this great condo find here:

My experience with VRBO was great, just like the experiences of the individual who recommended it to me. So, check it out and don't suffer another Staycation at home!

Until another frugal moment hits...

The Frugal Queen

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Cutting Eveyday Expenses - Make Your Own Laundry Soap

On occasion in the past I had heard about individuals who made their own laundry soap, but I had no information on how to do it until I watched a show on "The Duggars" on the Discovery channel. After watching the show and learning how they are raising a family of 18 through the pay-as-you-go method (no credit, no loans, etc.), I checked into their website and tried their recipe.

I have been using their recipe now for over three months and it has saved me a tremendous amount of money. Full credit for the following recipe goes completely to The Duggars (here is a link to their website: :

* 1 bar of Fels Naptha Soap (shredded)
* 1 cup of Washing Soda
* 1/2 cup of Borax

Mix and use 1 to 2 tablespoons of this laundry soap per load. I have a front loading washer which is newer, so I normally use only 1 tablespoon (2 when the clothes are extra soiled).

I made a triple batch of laundry soap and the total cost was only around $5. I got approximately 120 loads out of this batch. This was an incredible savings for me as I have been a die hard Tide user for years.

A few tips if you want to purchase the ingredients and try it yourself:

#1 - call around to make certain the store carries the ingredients
#2 - there is such a thing as washing soda (it is in the laundry aisle if the store has it) don't let anyone tell you it doesn't exist - it just is not as common as it was in years past - the box I purchased was Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (not Baking Soda)
#3 - make sure your container is clean and dry before you put the ingredients in it and that it has a lid
#4- don't reuse old containers from other items as you don't want to mix chemicals (this can be fatal in some cases - I don't want to scare you, just to caution you not to mix chemicals accidentally)

Thanks again to The Duggars! You are my frugal heroes!

Until another frugal moment hits....

The Frugal Queen

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Cheap books, videos and more!

Are you a card carrying member of your local public library? If so, good for you! Our local library has various programs which we can attend and they also feature a "Friends of the Library Bookstore". It is a great deal!

I purchased this week 20 books for only $3.29. How did I do it? I visited the Friends of the Library Bookstore where adult fiction paperbacks are only 25 cents and where they had teen fiction on sale this month - 10 for $1.00. (They also have books on tape, videos, DVDs, magazines, etc. very cheap!)

If you love to read, ask at the library next time you are there to see if they also sell their older books. If so, then you may be able to take advantage of some great savings!

Until another frugal moment hits....

The Frugal Queen

Monday, March 16, 2009

Prescription Pricing

Even if you have health insurance, don't discount the $4 prescription programs offered by many stores these days. A lot of the stores also offer a 90-day supply for $10 on prescriptions.

I found that we were being charged $25 for a 90 day supply on many of our prescriptions through the health insurance's mail order program. I have been able to save hundreds of dollars a year by switching our prescriptions over to the local store.

Added bonuses:

* pick them up on my schedule, don't have to wait for them to come in the mail

* help to support the local economy (keeping my friends and neighbors employed is very important!)

So don't wait! Check out your local grocery store's $4 prescription list or the 90-day supply for $10 program!

Until another frugal moment hits -

The Frugal Queen