About gDonna
The photo is my son and myself. Now days you can get a photo made to look old like this one. This photo was taken when this was the new look.

Harry S Truman was president when I was born and world war II had ended. I grew up in a time when lunch was put in a brown paper bag and a sandwich was wrapped with wax paper. There was no such thing as pantyhose, we wore stockings that attached to the rubbery clippy things that attached to the girdle. Convenience stores were not common and when we took a trip we packed a picnic basket because many places did not have fast food. Highways had places to pull over and stop, some with picnic tables. Read more ....

Donna's Diary Posts

My Favorite Blog and Books
Recent Posts

Frugal living

October 15, 2011

Being frugal does not have to be painful.  There are many ways to cut back and one way is to do a reverse home makeover.  We needed to make changes to our home to help us go back to basics.  Then we decided to use more outdoor space and we went back to old fashioned way of doing things.

Our Great Grandparents, Grandparents, Parents, Aunts and Uncles would tell us stories how things were when they were growing up, how hard times were, how they lived without electricity or running water. They also lived through the Great  Depression.

Many people are going through difficult economic times and they are finding themselves running out of money well before the next payday is due.

We cannot live like our Great Grandparents because most people do not live on a farm or have cows for milk or meat, chickens for eggs and land to grow crops.  This makes it very difficult to become self sustainable.  Living in our time now means we have to use means that they used with creative new innovations. 
In the past people planted "Victory gardens".  These were small gardens that city dwellers planted.  They found any space available and planted vegetables and fruits. 
There are many things that we can do that will help cut back on expenses and one suggestion is to plant vegetables and flowers as did our generations from the past.
Starting up a garden can be expensive and whatever time you are reading this is the time to start getting ready to plant food if you have not already. 
If you have a yard that requires mowing or leaves that you can rake, you can use that resource (grass clippings or leaves) and start a compost bin so you can make soil for your garden.  If you do not have a bin find a spot and start there.  Put your food scraps, twigs, leaves, grass etc in this pile and start making dirt.  Do not put meat, oils and some other foods in this pile otherwise you will have rodents.  You will need to read the compost bin section later.
We knew we had to start making drastic changes in our house so we could learn how to do things the old/new way before the immediate need hit us over the head.  We are very glad that we did because there have been so many things to learn and so many failed attempts and things to tweak.  I am writing about this so we can spare you the expense of some things that did not work and benefit from the things that do.

Gardening requires quite a bit of physical work and sweat and conserving water requires lifting buckets.  It is not easy but very rewarding.
Too much gardening?

Listed below are some of the changes that we have made at our house and I will make different pages for "How to” as I have the time.

We are trying to be frugal and at the same time very careful with our water resources due to water restrictions in our area and water shortages worldwide. 
Being frugal and Green can be difficult unless you change your thinking and make it fun by empowering yourself with knowledge by experience. 
Changes we made to reduce expenses:
*    We cut our TV cable to basic, we can drop it entirely if we need to and we kept internet.  Doing so dropped our cable bill $80.00.
*    We hang out clothes to line dry on sunny dry days and use the dryer if it is rainy or short on time.  If we need to be more frugal we can hang out the clothes every time.
*    We take bucket Baths and....
 We have found that you can get very clean taking a simple two and a half to three gallon bucket bath saving many gallons of valuable water.  It is amazing how much longer a bar of soap will last.  Another thing to note is that since we started taking the bucket baths our skin is not as dry and less lotion is needed.
*    We turned off the breaker to our hot water heater. We bought two electric kettles to heat water.  One for the main bathroom and one in the kitchen.

    The kettles boil water for washing dishes and for bathing.  We adjusted very quickly to our hot water heater being off and it surprised us how normal it became to do things the new way.
It does not take getting a routine turning on the kettle to get ready for a warm bucket bath.  It takes six and a half minutes to have a kettle of boiling water.  We have a mark in our bucket to show us where to stop with cold water so the hot kettle water will mix just right.  It is a very good feeling to know that we are saving many gallons of water per bath.    
*    I started letting my hair dry natural unless we are going somewhere special, this way no need to pull power for a hair dryer.
*    We placed power strips in several areas of the house to turn off the power to televisions, computers etc. when not in use.   Each room in the house was checked for items that pulled power when they were not being used.  We removed night lights and anything that was not necessary.
*    We bought several packages of inexpensive wash cloths and placed them in containers in several areas around the house to be used instead of paper towels.  We have a large container of wash cloths in the kitchen with a label that says "Non Paper Towels”.  We use cloth napkins when we eat and we have several buckets about filled with old rags to use for cleaning up spills.  We simply do not buy paper towels.

*    We shop with re-usable cloth bags and allow a few plastic bags so we can use them for garbage instead of the expensive ones.  I placed a small bucket in the bottom of our regular kitchen garbage can and place the store plastic bags inside the smaller can.  This way our little dogs will not get into our garbage.

*    We recycle everything we can which leads to much less waste going in the garbage can and into the city dump.  We have found new uses for some things that we can recycle around the house.  We keep a laundry hamper by the back door to keep our plastic and paper items to be recycled and have another bin for cans.
*    We cook at home and very seldom eat out.  We pulled out the old lunch boxes and pack lunches anytime we cannot be home for a meal.  Canning jars are filled with  water from the tap to keep from buying bottled water.

*    We keep a rotating pantry so we do not have to rush out to buy groceries and buy in bulk what we can being careful to not overbuy so there is no waste.

*    We eat our leftovers which makes us more careful about cooking smaller portions otherwise we will be eating the same food day after day.

*    Ok for the big shocker, we got rid of our  refrigerator.
 That's funny!  I thought you said you got rid of our refrigerator..............
Yes we did and replaced it with a tiny counter top refrigerator that holds only the essentials.  Milk, butter, cheese eggs and a few leftovers.  This decision was made when our refrigerator stopped cooling.  We had the choice to call a repair person or buy a new refrigerator.  We tossed the idea to try and live without a refrigerator  but made the decision to use a very small one for basic food items that needed to be cooled.  We named it Elf and became very fond of it right away. 


I am not so sure about this refrigerator thing.  They better not be frugal with my food.
*    We planted vegetables in containers, dug up the grass in many parts of the yard and put in raised beds to grow vegetables and flowers.  We need the flowers to attract the bees and I guess you know the honey bees are having their own crisis.
                          Tomatoes                                                                                        Pole Beans
*    We made a worm bin but did not have the right conditions for them at first. The worms that survived made their way out into our backyard and are busy at work fertilizing our garden.
We then learned to mix peat moss with water and let it sit over 24 hours so the peat moss would soak up the water.  This needed to be stirred several times to get it soaked.  After it was fully soaked the bedding was much better for the worms.  Also we put a light on them at night and that kept them leaving.

First worm bin

*    We bought used food grade 55 gallon drums and installed faucets and placed them around the back of the house to catch rain water which makes our plants greener and helps decrease our water bill.  We named them after Meterologist.

Our new old recycled  barrels


Installing faucets to barrels

This was a very Hot and Humid day

Hoses were connected to the bottom of the barrels. The rainwater runs out into the garden.
The higher the barrels are raised the more water pressure to the garden
We realized right away that the rain barrel system needed a lot of tweaking.  The water from the roof turned stagnate very quickly.  We tried making screens to catch some of the junk coming down with the water and all kinds of various devices.
We changed our whole placement system and moved our gutter piping.  I will update on this because we are still working on the filtration system.  There is much more involved than just catching rain water.  The water should be filtered and there needs to be a first flush system.  We have that in place now but after a minimal rain we realized that we would have to make the first flush longer due to living under trees.  AND, there is a catchment container and then a container to store the filtered water.  More on this later...................
Our inside the city home is now getting the feel of a mini city farm without all the farm animals.  We have a lot of wildlife living and frequently visiting our yard daily and have switched to using hay instead of pine straw to go around our plants which makes the wildlife and the cat very happy as she enjoys laying on top of the bales.
Baby Wrens in the nest
Each day Butterflies follow us around the garden.  They seem to be happy and do loops about us and land for an occasionally visit.
*    Due to our sensitive nature around us we have changed our cleaning products to simple vinegar and baking soda and more earth friendly bath , laundry and dish soap.
Each step of our becoming more frugal has actually been very impowerning and has made us look for more ways to cut out items that we have been purchasing that are really not that necessary. 
We are enjoying our fresh yields in the garden even though they are small amounts as we are learning.
Our yard is small and has a lot of shade due to our oak, pecan and sweetgum trees.  We simply plant in the sunny areas that we do have and make paths in the areas that will not grow well. 
We move containers to follow the sun.  The sunny spots change throughout the year as the sun comes through the foliage in different directions.  We are currently keeping a log with monthly recordings in grid form of what areas of the yard have more sun or shade.  In the spring our fig tree gets a lot of sun but in June it is very shady. 
Check out our new pages as I add them to the website.  I will include directions to projects that we have done, including all the mistakes.  Chip is currently working on a new improved Solar Oven.  The current one will reach 310 degrees but Chip would like one to reach 400 degrees and be able to hold the heat longer for cloud cover.  We will keep you posted.


Comment on this article

Would you like to make a comment or view comments on this article?
Visit the comments section in the new discussion forum!

No comments so far.


NEW! Join the mailing list to get email notifications when new articles are posted to our site.

Your information is safe with us and won't be shared.

Thank you for joining! 

You were sent an email to confirm your subscription to our mailing list.
Please click the link in that email to confirm or you won't be added.
If you have not received the email within a few minutes please check your spam folder. 

Loading More Photos
Scroll To Top
Close Window