Saturday, November 6, 2010

Using it all- Pumpkin!

I am not sure there is anything in the world like pumpkin. You can use SO MUCH of it, it's ridiculous. As I was walking in Walmart on November 3rd, I noticed their jack-o-lantern pumpkins were on sale for $0.50. That's right! Half a dollar! I have been wanting to try roasted pumpkin seeds, so I bought one. The smaller cooking pumpkins were $0.78 a pound. Way more expensive!

The difference is that pie pumpkins are smaller and tend to be sweeter and smoother. With just a little more work, my pumpkin will be just as good and hey- CHEAP CHEAP CHEAP!

Here is my gutted pumpkin in the crockpot! I first squeezed out the seeds (before gutting the pumpkin!). I find it to be much easier because the "string guts" attach the seeds to the wall and it helps me to just pinch the seeds off! I then used an ice cream scoop to get the guts out. This pumpkin will cook on low in the crockpot overnight (or longer!) before being made in to pumpkin pie filling.

Here are a small sampling of the pumpkin seeds! I used The Green Bottle's guide to roasting pumpkin seeds, so check her blog out here if you've never done it before! These seeds are seasoned only with garlic salt and black pepper. I found them very bland and wouldn't recommend this seasoning.

Here is the Green Bottle's recipe- garlic salt, season all, black pepper! These are probably my favorite for just sitting around and munching.

My own special recipe. These are Tim's favorite, because they have a spicy kick! Want to know the recipe? I can't tell, sorry hehe.

Here are the three sets of pumpkin seeds pre-baking. Yum yum!

I'll be adding the pumpkin pie recipe soon!


Thursday, May 20, 2010

How to Save Money on your Vacation

Vacation Season is just around the corner- and for some of us, it's already arrived!

There are several things to consider when planning your vacation.

How much is it going to cost? We'd love to go out to Las Vegas or California- or Scotland! However, a plane ticket per person is going to be at LEAST $300. $600 starting off the bat is not something we can afford every single year. Or every other year. Or every other other year.

You get the point. Make sure you know your budget before you ever book the first step.

What kind of things are there to do/ how much do they cost? Obviously, the more "resorty" the town is, the more expensive things will be. We went to Avon Colorado and the McDonald's didn't even have a dollar menu. O.O Talk about expensive. Be sure to scout out things to do that are interesting and reasonably priced BEFORE you decide on where to go. Free museums are always interesting- in fact, in Colorado we had the best time at the Mining Museum ($2 entry per person) even though neither of us had much interest in mining. It was just a fun, out of the way little thing to kill an hour that led to the best priced gift shop I've ever seen and some of the best photo opps EVER!

Stop by the State Welcome Centers! Even when we vacation in North Carolina, I go to our State Welcome Centers. You can get all kinds of coupon books and fliers for things to do. It even helps plan vacations for years to come.

Join Email Lists. If you know you are planning on going to a theme park area, join the lists of those theme parks to get information on ticket deals. I've seen some excellent "entire vacation" deals come through my email.

Go Off Season. You don't have to hit the beach in January, but by avoiding booking around July 4th or Memorial Day, you can often take advantage of betters deals and LESS PEOPLE!

Buy Less Stuff. Tim wants a souvenir when we go somewhere, which is fine. It's not a bad thing to buy yourself a little something. However, (and we talked about this last year too), you don't need to buy everything you see. Are you *really* going to use that Virginia Beach Sun Visor more than never? Do you HAVE to have a teddy bear wearing a t-shirt with the name of the place you're visiting on it? If you have to have something, buy one item and then stop. It will save you headaches years from now when you're yard saleing that visor with it's $20 price tag still on.


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Icky food- make it worth it

Tim and I were shopping a month or so back and ran across a container of BBQ that was discounted to 99 cents! It was a different brand that we normally get and a different flavor, but we said hey, for a dollar, it's worth a try. We took it home, popped it in to the freezer and forgot about it until today.

And that's where our story begins.

As we pulled it out and took a closer look, we discovered it was NOT Pork BBQ like we suspected. It was "beef BBQ". I'm from the south, where we have some of the best BBQ in the world. I'm sorry, there is no such thing as BEEF BBQ. There is not Chicken BBQ. It's Pork or nothing. We also don't Barbecue here- we grill out.

Ok, sorry, I'm back in my happy place.

Anyway, as Tim and I exchanged stricken looks over the horrible accidental buy, I said "Well... we just have to make it worth a dollar."

That got me to thinking. What other normally not very good meals could you eat just because they are cheap? Could you sacrifice quality of meat in ONE meal a month if it saves a few bucks? What about eating one cheap but not very tasty side dish every week or two, if it's super cheap?

There are limits to this of course. If you absolutely despise cauliflower- as in it almost makes you sick just to smell it, don't eat it just to save 50 cents on a meal.

Just keep your eyes peeled for sale meat, sale frozen meals, sale veggies, etc. Maybe if the price is right it's worth a try. After all, you just have to make it worth a dollar- give it a shot, even if you have the sinking feeling it's going to be a battle to eat it.

Oh and the "Beef BBQ"? TERRIBLE. Absolutely TERRIBLE. I could never force myself to eat that disgusting trash ever again.

But- it was worth the dollar just this once.


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cheap or Smart?

Have you ever noticed what a negative stereotype there is on being frugal?

If you order water at a restaurant, you're cheap.

If you buy clothes at yardsales or thrift shops, you're a tightwad.

If you don't keep up with the fashion trends and spend like there is no tomorrow, you're miserly, a penny pincher, a skinflint.


Why is that? Why is it if you're a smart shopper, it's a bad thing? Now, admittedly frugal is the new "Cool" among some groups because of the bad economy, but there are certain lines people draw in the sand- ordering water and buying secondhand clothes being a biggy that I've noticed.

Tim cringes to order water in a restaurant because he feels "cheap". This is because people have made him feel that way in the past, whether it be the cashier, waitress, people he was with- whatever.

Coupons are fine. Growing your own garden and eating out a little less- not a problem. Anything beyond that and you cross back in to "super cheap".

Our culture is so fixated on stuff. Bigger stuff, better stuff, MORE stuff. BUY BUY BUY. We've done it with every holiday. Christmas, Easter, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Halloween- you have to buy things. Candy, cards, gifts.

Every commercial on tv- NEW AND IMPROVED items. Kids, ask your parents to buy you THIS. You need Fruit Loops, not Froot Circles cereal. Buy Sketchers! Cool= Expensive.

Think about New Balance shoes. Those things were awesome. $20, they looked a bit like the Nike and Adidas shoes- now they are $50!

So,all of us cheapskate, skinflint, cheapo tightwads stand up and say NO, I will not be manipulated! I will not let a movie, a commercial or the opinion of someone I barely know force me in to debt and make me spend to be cool. I will not sacrifice my child's college education, my retirement, a house, so that I can eat more expensive meals twice a month and wear designer clothes that will be out of style in a week.

I say we aren't cheap. We're SMART. We can see beyond the RIGHT NOW, RIGHT NOW glitter of our culture. Most of us have goals and we're willing to go against the grain to realize them.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Low Cost Hobbies

Do you need something to keep you entertained? Do you not want to spend a billion dollars on start up costs for something you may or may not follow through on?

There are several low cost hobbies out there- I'm only gonna hit on a few of them.


Gardening does NOT have to be expensive. I used to buy a $.10 packet of seeds, dump them in the red clay soil of central NC and poof, up something would come. Now, my mom didn't have the same green thumb, but let's break it down-

1.) You can look around on craigslist for people selling cheap starter plants. Get a head start on your gardening with a plant that's already blown through the seed phase. Some folks give them away, some folks sell them cheaply, just make sure to look around. OR, you can start the seeds yourself and make extra to sell to other folks. Let's pretend you got the expensive $1 a packet seeds- in this example, tomatoes.

2.) If you don't have an excellent soil already, post an ad looking for free manure. It's better than bagged stuff and my rabbitry GIVES it away to anyone that will bring us a container to put it in. Rabbit manure also won't burn your plants, so you can dump it and immediately plant in it. So, your cost is still only $1. If you sell a single seedling plant for a dollar, you've spent NO money on this gardening.

3.) Set out old containers to collect water when it rains. You can recycle old bottles to keep it from evaporating out, and poof, you can naturally water your plants without increasing your water bill. Any veggies you get can be eaten or sold- lowering your grocery bill!

Gardening doesn't have to be expensive!!!!


This can also be a very inexpensive hobby, the results of which can either keep you warm or be sold or gifted.

Yarn can very often be found at thrift stores or yard sales- if you're just learning, use odds and ends of skeins. It can produce some awesome looking scarfs or blankets. Also try freecycle, a lot of people don't wanna keep just a few feet of a leftover color.

Knitting needles and crocheting hooks are extremely inexpensive at Walmart- I have several and I don't think I paid over $1.50 for any of them.

You can google "learn to knit" or "learn to crochet" and find awesome FREE online guides and videos, or look for a knitting circle that would be willing to help you out in person!

Recycled Crafting

Oh man, you can do all kinds of stuff with crap you have sitting around the house- check out this website for ideas, or just google "recycled crafting". You can do all kinda of things, from knick knacks to clothing and jewelry.