Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Frugal Tip Tuesday: Buy Easter Baskets Only Once

Do you buy new Easter baskets and grass each year? Suddenly, after a few years, you have loads of cheesy misshapen baskets and discolored grass. I finally broke down two years ago and bought my two children personalized Easter baskets that I reuse year after year. I actually look forward to breaking out the baskets each Easter season. They're cute, functional and reusable. I just fill them up with some candy and small toys. 

Frugal Tip: Know when to make an investment in an item versus trying to save money by buying something on the cheap.

Easter baskets are just one example. What have you bought that's high quality and will last in the long run?

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

TGIF: Best Posts of the Week

With spring right around the corner, there's no better time than to start thinking about your garden. Here are some great gardening posts that I found:
Okay fellow gardeners, I want to hear your comments, suggestions and experience with green and frugal gardening.Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Does It Make WaterSense?

Whenever you're reading about being green and frugal, one of the first tips you may come across is to use a low-flow showerhead to conserve water. Well, Delta Faucet Company just announced that more than 50% of their showerheads and handshowers meet a new EPA WaterSense criteria. This means Delta's showerheads and handshowers that meet the latest specification introduced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program on March 5, 2010.

The new WaterSense criteria – established to promote water efficiency in the shower, product performance and quality – require that the showerhead flow at a rate of 2.0 gallons per minute (gpm) or less. In addition, the company will continue to gain showerhead and handshower certifications, with the expectation that by summer 2010, 80 percent of its bath suites will feature an option to meet WaterSense requirements. With more than half of Delta bath suites containing products meeting the new criteria, seven feature a showerhead with H2Okinetic Technology that improves water efficiency by 40%, flowing at 1.5 gpm while providing the feel of an enhanced flow of 2.5 gpm.

To earn the WaterSense designation, a showerhead or handshower must flow at a rate of no more than 2.0 gpm, tested at a flowing pressure of 80 pounds per square inch (psi), and is tested against attributes to ensure performance and user satisfaction.

Have you tried one of Delta's new showerheads or handshowers? I'd love to hear about it!

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Monday, March 22, 2010

How to Naturally Get Rid of Fruit Flies

Another great post from our friends at The Greenest Dollar...

Here’s the good news: I now have several egg cartons, tin cans, and plastic trays full of sprouting herbs and vegetables. Whoo-hoo!

The bad news? All this indoor planting has created a fruit fly population explosion at my house.

The little buggers have hatched in the soil I guess. I used Miracle Grow, and have no idea how they got in there. But, they did. Now, they’re all over my dining room, where my little sprouties are trying to grow.

I’ve tried using a glass of wine, and a glass of OJ (thinking they’d be attracted to the sweetness and drown). Neither strategy worked.

I was looking up natural ways to get rid of these guys today, and thought if you’re sprouting seeds right now too, you might have the same problem.

And thus, a blog post is born!

So, here are some natural ways to get rid of fruit flies or gnats in your home.

1. Dark Beer

This is my next tactic. Apparently, fruit flies love beer, so if you put some beer in a shallow dish, they’ll flock to it and drown.

2. Use a Soda Bottle

I found this awesome tip on TheDollarStretcher.com

Here is is:

I grow tomatoes, and I have found a great way to trap the flies when ripening fruit inside. To trap the fruit flies, I take a 600ml or bigger soft drink bottle (soda bottle for the non-Aussies!) and cut it in half round ways about a third of the way down from the top. Put an old tomato or some fruit in the bottom of the bottle with a small amount of water. Take the top third of the bottle without its lid and turn it upside down and put it into the bottle (like a funnel). The flies can fly in, but don’t make it back out again!
-Barbara - Australia.

3. Use Vinegar

Is there anything vinegar can’t do? It’s like the miracle liquid.

Put some vinegar in a small jelly jar. Cover the top with a paper or plastic funnel. They’ll fly in but not be able to fly out. I’m sure you could also use this one with the soda bottle hack mentioned above.

4. Use A Banana

I found this awesome idea on HubPages.

Here it is:

1. Get a small jar you don’t plan on using again (like a baby food jar or something similar) and wash it out well. Make sure it is not a jar with a funky smell such as a used pickle jar or anything that use to have strong spices. You want a clean, odorless jar.

2. Take a chunk of banana and place inside the jar. This is why you want a clean, odorless jar - so that the banana smell won’t be overpowered by other not-so-tempting smells. Banana seems to work the best, but you can experiment.

3. Fit a piece of plastic wrap over the top of the jar, making sure that it fits tight and well sealed around the edges. Then take a pen or pencil and poke 4 to 5 holes in the plastic, just big enough for a fruit fly to fit into. Once a fruit fly crawls in, it can’t get out. You would think they would just fly back out through the holes, but they won’t!

4. Place the jar in an area where you have seen the most fruit flies. Depending on the amount of fruit flies you have, you can expect to start seeing the jar fill up within just a few hours. After 24 hours, you will discover just how bad your fruit fly problem is!

Last Word…

I don’t often wage war on the natural world, but the fruit flies have to go. They’ve also migrated upstairs and are now infesting the house plants in my office and on my desk. Which means they’ve been buzzing around my head all day!

I’m feeling confident that at least ONE of these strategies will work.

Do you have any frugal and eco-friendly ways to get rid of fruit flies? I’d love to hear them!

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

How to Save Gas At Home and In the Car

Did you know that by practicing gas saving tips you can cut back your expenses in both your home and in your car? Now more than ever it is important to take the time and measures to find savings wherever you can and why not start with a gas saving. If your home has gas appliances, a gas water heaters, or a combination of both then you have two opportunities right then and there to start saving money. You more than likely drive a gas powered car which means you have another way to save money by practicing simple every day gas saving tips.

The first step in cutting back on costs to accrue extra cash is to take a look at how much money is going out each month. Home utilities are a must for survival, but there are savings that can be accomplished by the simplest measures. For example, a gas saving can be found to heat ones home by taking advantage of sales at the local retail store on a space heater. Some houses or apartments are colder in some rooms than others, and by placing a small space heater in these rooms when the room is being occupied can result in tremendous amount of money can be saved! The numbers don’t lie so simply try this easy gas saving tip and compare last months gas bill to this months gas bill! Another gas saving tip can be found in shower by cutting the time back in your shower on those days that aren’t so stressful.

The next gas saving tip is your vehicle. Many people fell in love with the sport utility vehicle the minute they came out and many people find it hard to give up their beloved sports utility vehicle even when it costs them at the pump. The good news here is that many very popular sport utility vehicles are available in hybrid models. Hybrid sport utility vehicles can give you the opportunity to have all the space of a sports utility car with the gas mileage of an economy car. Your simple home gas saving tips can allow you to save up the money for the down payment, but don’t be afraid to jump on a cash advance loan if your favorite dealership is running a sale. Your budget will thank you in the long run!

How do you save gas at home or in the car?

Friday, March 19, 2010

TGIF: Best Posts of the Week

Keep it simple, stupid. Who doesn't try to live by the K.I.S.S. method. This week's best blog posts are all about simplicity. Simple is greener, cheaper and usually more stress-free. Here's to a K.I.S.S. weekend...
How do you keep things simple? I know it's hard when you're juggling work, kids, hobbies, chores...how do you stay sane?

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Frugal Tip Tuesday: Plan Ahead

If you want to be successful at anything, a little planning is always required. Being green and frugal is no different.
Photo Courtesy Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey

This weekend, the hubby and I took the kids to the Ringling Bros. Circus. How could I resist when I got $20 tickets? Following our Disney on Ice visit to the Rutherford, NJ Izod Center, I made sure to feed the kids a big breakfast and promised them a very fun lunch at Sonic after the circus. (Okay, my husband and I are the ones who really love Sonic and the one in Rutherford is the only one remotely near us. And that's still a 20-mile ride.)

I mentally prepared both kids for all of the toys, candy, food, light-up made-in-China gadgets, programs, balloons, pennant and every other ridiculous object that was for sale. To make matters worse, the vending stands were located every couple of feet. It was ridiculous!!!!

Once we were seated, I desperately needed another cup of coffee and my husband wanted a Powerade. "Great, he could share his drink with the kids," I thought to myself. $8 later, we had one small Powerade and one medium Dunkin Donuts coffee. For $8, I could have bought a pound of ground Dunkin Donuts coffee and made coffees for the next month. I also could buy an entire case of Powerade.

Frugal tip: plan ahead. I should have thought to bring two bottles of water with me and some snacks just in case. Since both kids are out of diapers and don't use bottles, I like to travel light. But it would've saved me $8 in the long run. Don't get me started on the $15 parking fee...

Any tips you'd like to share on how you plan ahead to save money or be more green? I'd love to hear them (and add them to my arsenal)!

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Have a Green St. Patty's Day

Celebrate a really, truly green St. Patrick's Day 
March can be a drab month--waiting for winter to end and the first signs of spring to emerge. That's why, whether you're Irish or not, celebrating St. Patrick's Day is a cool idea--especially if you make it eco! Here are some simple, fun, affordable ideas for you and the family that will make those not included green with envy!
1. Gather your friends and neighbors for your own St. Patrick's Day walking parade. Whether it's around a cul de sac or down a street or two, you're sure to have a great time if you dress in green and wish everyone the luck 'o the Irish as you pass by! Encourage participants to make hats out of whatever they have around the house or before the parade, ask guests to bring an old white/beige t-shirt and meet at your house. Cut shamrock shapes into potatoes and stamp on the shirts with eco-friendly fabric paints

2. Decorate at least one room in the house with the spirit 'o the green. Gather everything green you have lying around from books to clothing to flower pots etc., even green sheets. Set the timer for ten minutes and let the kids decorate the room. Then have a party there! Put on some Irish music, learn a jig and celebrate.

3. Skip the corned beef. It's not really Irish anyway! (According to the History Channel, no one in Ireland ate this except for a few royals. But when the Irish immigrated to New York's lower East side, they were looking for a cheaper alternative to bacon and probably learned about corned beef from their Jewish neighbors.) Since one of the most Earth-friendly habits you can get into is eating less (or no) beef, focus on the veggies. Cabbage is great if people like it, but if they don't, potatoes are usually a favorite.  How about setting up a potato bar and color the taters green with pureed veggies like kale, spinach, arugula, or pea pods. Add spice with green salsa or more interesting taste with sage.

4. End a party or St. Pat's family dinner with homemade organic oatmeal cookies and pistachio, lime or mint ice cream/sherbert/sorbet.

5. For evening entertainment, borrow or rent A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. The story centers on an Irish immigrant family in Brooklyn in the 1900's and their young daughter's struggle to stay positive in the midst of poverty. Better yet, choose to start reading the book of the same name on St. Patrick's Day. 

6. If you want to enjoy the occasion with a touch of beer, always a St. Paddy's Day favorite, check out the many organic alternatives.

7. A few quick, easy, no waste games for your gathering:
  1. See how many words two teams can make from the longest place name in Ireland: Muckanaghederdauhaulia 
  2. Have everyone try to guess the meaning of Irish words like: handfasting, sean-nos, or a jaunting car. Answers and more words are here.
  3. Here's an Irish children's game: One child is Mr. Fox and the other children line the wall. Mr. Fox stands about 10 feet away with his back turned. The children in the line say, "What time is it Mr. Fox?" He replies, "one o'clock." Then the children walk slowly toward the fox, repeating the question and answer until the Fox says, "Dinner time." The fox chases everyone back to the wall. It anyone is tagged, he/she is now the Fox.
Top picks for St. Patrick's Day celebrations

Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson are mother and daughter and co-authors of Celebrate Green! Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations and Traditions for the Whole Family, available at www.CelebrateGreen.net  

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Friday, March 12, 2010

TGIF: Best Posts of the Week

Save, save, save -- we've been in saving mode much more lately since we found out that we have to replace our heating and cooling system. UGH! Nothing like having to shell out $20,000 on something that you can't look at or enjoy. Okay, I know I do enjoy heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. But at least the car we just bought we can ride around in and enjoy all of the new gadgets and features. I just can't see admiring a new boiler. But I digress...

Here are some great posts on saving money and making money:
What do you do when you go into super-saver mode?

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Green and Frugal: Know What You Want & Don't Settle for Less

We recently went car shopping. Our Honda CRV was just turning 110,000 miles and we felt that we wanted to get at least one car with low mileage (our Honda Odyssey has over 120,000 miles). From scouring the newspapers and car websites to visiting car dealerships, the search was on for a 2-3 year old Honda Pilot.

I jokingly said to my mom, "I'm not picky. I want a black Honda Pilot with a moon roof and I don't want to spend more than $15k-$16k out of pocket (which includes trading in the CRV)." She laughed and said, "Oh no, that's not picky at all. Don't you think that you're limiting yourself just a little?"

About two months later my husband and I drove home a 2006 full loaded Honda Pilot with 35,000 miles. It's black with a moon roof, heated leather seats, heated mirrors with three rows of seats. Our total cost out of pocket was $15,600.

The bottom line is -- don't settle. Whether it's a new job, a car, a house or even a new outfit, plan and know in advance what you want. Have a price and your wish list of attributes in your head. Then, start shopping and keep looking until you find exactly what you want.

Plus, when you get what you want, there isn't as much buyer's remorse because you don't feel like you compromised or spent more than you intended.

Have any examples of a time when you knew exactly what you wanted and didn't settle?

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Friday, March 5, 2010

TGIF: Best Posts of the Week

TGIF!! It was a tough week, but I made it! What better way to end the week than with some great blog posts. We've got it all -- recipes, money-saving tips, and more...

Did I miss any? Which blog posts were your favorite this week?

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Green and Frugal -- Pay for Recycling?

There was an article in my local paper (The Record, 2/22/10) recently that touted an incentive program to increase recycling participation.  I thought it was really interesting, so here is an excerpt:

Put a 32-gallon recycling bin and a 10-inch stack of newspapers on the curb, and you could eventually ear $4 off at CVS when you spend $20 or more. Do that twice, and you could get a free cup of coffee or an ice cream cone at McDonald's.

One city has become the first in North Jersey to sign up with a recycling incentive program offered by a New York company, RecycleBank, that has partnered with towns in 20 states, providing residents points that can be redeemed online for retail goods or discounts.

Here's how it works:

Depending upon the existing recycling infrastructure, RecycleBank will use radio frequency identification (RFID) or global positioning satellite (GPS) technology to identify, track and record household recycling efforts.

1. Participating households receive a recycling cart equipped with an ID tag to link the cart to the household address and account number (the tag carries no other information).

2. On pick-up days, trucks retrofitted with RecycleBank technology identify the cart at pick-up. The weight of the recyclables is converted to points, which are then deposited into a household's account.

3. Redeeming points is just like shopping online with more than 20 categories to choose from, including food and grocery, sports and recreation, entertainment, restaurants, health and beauty and charitable donations.

4. Points can be redeemed at participating local and national partners, including major retailers and brands such a Coca-Cola, Kraft, Dick's Sporting Goods, CVS pharmacy and Bed, Bath & Beyond.

I've never heard of RecycleBank, but here's a little about them:
RecycleBank serves over one million people in 20 states across the United States, and that number continues to increase every week. We will launch our service in Europe this summer. To date, the material recycled by the households we service has enabled RecycleBank to save cities tens of millions of dollars annually in landfill disposal fees, save over 1.5 million trees, and save millions of gallons of oil.

Do you currently have a recycling incentive program in your town? How does it work? Do you like it?

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