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USDA Plant Hardiness Zones Explained

Get Into Your Growing Zone - USDA Plant...As every gardener knows, different plants are adapted to growing well in specific climates. Plant hardiness zones help to define the optimum growing climates. By knowing what hardiness zone you live in, you can properly select the plants that are best suited to your growing conditions.


Compact Fluorescent Bulbs

Compact Fluorescent Bulbs - Fight Global Warming...According to the EPA, if every household in the U.S. replaced one light bulb with one of their ENERGY STAR rated compact fluorescent bulbs, it would be the pollution equivalent of pulling one million cars off the road.


A vintage gold trinket on a white background.

The Thief In Your Closet and On Your ShelvesIs your stuff stealing your time and money? You know those doodads on your shelves, your clothing, the flotsam and the jetsam piled up in the nooks and crannies of your house. For most of us, the answer is a resounding YES! Your stuff is making you poor and you probably don't even realize it.


Escalators at a shopping mall

Ten Things to Do Instead of Black FridayIf you don't have to work, stay home. I am serious. While it's great the economy is improving, and we all must help, my idea of getting a jump on the holiday season is not seeing or hearing or worse yet, being involved in anyone getting hurt or worse by a throng of bargain hungry humans.


Window Herb Planter

Window Herb PlanterWash and dry your planting container. Tell the kids that by reusing a container, you are both keeping material out of a landfill and reducing usage of resources by not purchasing a new container.


Hands digging in garden with hand tools

Plan-Ahead Projects for Next Year's GardenWinter is a great time for planning, preparing, and organizing next year's garden. Here are some plan-ahead projects for the winter months that will help you get a jump on next year's growing season.


Growing Cinquefoil (Bush)

Growing Cinquefoil (Bush)Start from seeds by sowing in containers in a cold frame during the fall or spring. Starting in early summer and producing less toward fall, these low-growing plants flower longer over the course of a season than most other shrubs...


Family around the Thanksgiving table

Blessing Our Food on this Thanksgiving DayFor centuries, peoples of all religions and countries have said their own special prayers for the blessing of their food, before a meal to give thanks for the food and other good things in their lives and on their tables.


A fully grown broad breasted bronze turkey.

Thankful for a Turkey's LifeMy dear friends, Michael and Lori, decided to raise a turkey for Thanksgiving this year. They have raised chickens for the last few years and have a large backyard. Although I'm sure they will never raise a turkey again, the last 8 months have been quite an adventure.


A blind man walking a path with a white cane.

Ten Lessons from the Blind SideHere are just a few things I've learned over the last eight years since I lost my sight:


Curb ShoppingBeing low income and depending upon curbside shopping before "city pick up days" arrive, I drive through my neighborhoods, rather than the main road, en route to any place. I keep a sharp eye open for whatever is being tossed that is:


Rookie Moves When Baking Your First Turkey

Rookie Moves When Baking Your First...These are all mistakes I have made over the years. After 30 or so years of cooking and eating Thanksgiving dinners, I have seen these mistakes made first hand.


Allspice berries.

Using AllspiceAllspice is a dried berry. It is very important in many cuisines around the world including Caribbean and Middle Eastern foods. In the west, it is usually used in desserts, but is also a main ingredient in barbecue sauce and chili and an important spice for making sausage.


acupuncture and aroma therapy paraphernalia

Alternative Medicine For PetsIf alternative medicine like acupuncture and aromatherapy can help humans, why can't they help your pets, too? Many types of alternative medicine are perfectly safe and beneficial for your four-legged friends.


A crazy quilt made from scraps of material.

The Most Frugal Of All, Free MemoriesWhat is your earliest memory? I will tell you three of mine as I don't know which is earliest. When I was little, the house was not heated past bed time. If the temperature was 10 degrees outside, it was 10 degrees inside, not long after we all went to bed.



Lawn Mower cutting grass

Choosing the Best Lawn Mower Height SettingCutting your lawn at the right mowing height is the single most important thing you can do to keep your lawn healthy. Mowing at the correct height reduces weed problems, contributes to a healthy root system and increases resistance to drought.


A frosty scene with fallen leaves.

Is the Season Beginning or Ending?Oh, but it's getting ugly around here. I am speaking of my garden of course. For one thing, about this time I lose interest in it. The magic of watching the plants grow, then blossom and put on their colorful array of tasty treasures for us to enjoy is long past.


My Frugal Life: Staying Out Of DebtWe started living a frugal life because we have 7 children, and I wanted to stay home with them. We did not want to be saddled with debt. I planted a garden, raised chickens, and beef.


A well packed suitcase with travel basics.

Pack Travel Basics In AdvanceWith vacation time just around the corner, now is the time to start planning what you want to take with you. There are a few things you can have ready ahead of time that will end up saving you valuable minutes as you're doing your final packing.


My Frugal Life - Lessons From The AmishI am going to start this by saying that I believe I was born in the wrong era or else I was given up for adoption by an Amish family! I truly believe that being frugal helps simplify my life. Go figure, when some of the things I do to save a dime are more time consuming!


Keeping Bees Away from a Hummingbird Feeder

Keeping Bees Away from a Hummingbird...We have hummingbird feeders and its horrible to see the little hummingbirds trying to eat at the feeders with all the bees. No matter how many feeders I put out the bees are all over the feeders.


Learning Frugality

Learning FrugalityI have always been a pretty frugal person, but I'm finding later in life that I don't need as much as I once thought I did. When you are young, you are led to believe that those pretty new shiny objects you see on TV or someone is wearing is something you just can't live without.


Save Eating Out for Special Occasions

Save Eating Out for Special OccasionsWe were sitting at a buffet one busy weekend discussing how we needed another dresser but can't afford it. Then we paid the $65 bill and went home. It struck me how ridiculous it was to continue to eat out for convenience sake all the time.


Photo of potted mums.

How to Keep Your Potted Mums Looking FreshPerhaps no sight signals the coming of fall to gardeners more than a pot of brightly colored mums. Here are some tips for keeping yours looking their best this fall.


Kitchen Makeover

A Beautiful Unique Kitchen MakeoverAfter sanding, priming, painting and adding antique silverware to my twenty year old, dark, dull and just plain outdated kitchen cabinets, putting in new counter tops, new appliances and painting the walls, I now have a beautiful, unique kitchen that I am proud to say was done by ME!


Growing and Harvesting Indian Corn

Growing and Harvesting Indian CornMany gardeners are surprised to learn that there's no special secret to growing Indian corn. If you can successfully grow sweet corn in your garden, then you can grow Indian corn, too.


A Thanksgiving table set and ready for dinner.

Living Within Your MeansNow on a very small fixed income, I kept finding myself running out of money before the end of the month to pay my monthly bills and living expenses. So I wound up drawing money out of my savings account every month to pay bills until my next monthly check came in. I realized that my savings account was shrinking at an alarming rate. In looking at my lifestyle, I realized I had to change some of my habits.


Woman writing a check.

Spending Money to Save MoneyMy husband spent extra when he bought my new vacuum cleaner to get a bagless. It is now well over a year old, and I have probably saved at least $30 on not having to buy bags. That was the price I spent buying the HEPA filter bags from my old vacuum.


Frugal and Tightwad LivingThis is my story about frugal and tightwad living! To start, I live alone right now. I have been frugal my whole 38 years. I am also a tightwad. My family laughs about to what lengths I will go to live the way I do.


Top Ten Secrets of a Handyman

Top Ten Secrets of a HandymanI convinced my husband, who runs his own home repair and maintenance business, to give me his "top ten" repairs that homeowners can do themselves and his secrets for making them easy.



Preparing for Snow Emergencies. A house after a winter snow storm.

Preparing for Snow EmergenciesThe Boy Scouts have it right-always be prepared. After a recent early season snow storm knocked out power for days in the mid-Atlantic, families emerged from the darkness with the realization that they weren't as prepared for a disaster as they thought.


extra candy canes

10 Ways to Use Extra Candy CanesIf you're wondering what to do with all those extra candy canes, here are a few ideas you might want to try.


Alaska Renovation Kitchen

Renovating a Small Home in AlaskaI have found that people fall into three categories. Those who have money to hire people with the skills they don't have, the people who get hired to perform these skills, and mine - I am the "I don't get paid, but have to do it anyway" type.


Mancala game board from an egg carton

Egg Carton Mancala GameMancala is considered one of the oldest games in the world and is played just about everywhere nowadays. When my students played, they used dried beans and empty egg cartons.


Photo of round rag rugs.

Rag Rug InstructionsInstructions on how to make a rag rug out of strips of materials as suggested by the ThriftyFun community. My mother taught me how to make rag rugs when I was a child. You take scraps of material that you want to use and make three separate, very long strips.


Compost Pile

A Gardener's Guide to CompostingComposting recycles organic matter into a nutrient-rich soil amendment. Although the finished product is a complex mixture of organic matter, bacteria and enzymes, the process of making compost isn't complex at all.


How to Grow Coleus

How to Grow ColeusColeus has remained a popular plant ever since it rose to favor during the Victorian age. The leaves of this inexpensive and versatile plant come in a bewildering array of colors, patterns, shapes, and sizes.


fresh quince

Canning Quince in Hot Water CannerA quince looks like a pear and doesn't ripen well on the tree. This is one fruit that you can bring home and not have to can immediately.


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Leaves Dying on an Avacado PlantWe have an avocado plant started from seed, which is really shooting up. It has nice large leaves on it but the lower leaves keep turning, curling and dying off.


Place New Tank Lid

Replacing Old Toilet with New Low-Flow ToiletThe toilet that was in our house when we moved in was always a little grungy. We wanted to replace it but didn't have the money or the gumption after we first purchased the house.


phone keypad

Tools That Help The Blind TodayI can't outline every tool available for the blind today. However, I promised I'd write about the tools that make my life easier. I try not to adapt more than necessary, but I do need some things accessible. I wrap a bread tie around the handle of the gallon jug of tea or fruit drink.


Adult pads as puppy pads

Adult Pads as Alternative to "Puppy Pads"Most everyone I know owns a pet. They can be expensive but I try to cut corners and save where I can. There is nothing like the unconditional love of an animal. I rescued my dog on what was, to be her last day.


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Caring for Suede and Leather FootwearSuede footwear is expensive and difficult to care for. Suede is one of the few materials which cannot be cleaned successfully with water.


A fully stocked pantry with canned goods.

Restocking My PantryNo, I didn't run out of groceries and have to restock. What I mean is that when I come home from shopping, I have decided to restock my shelves in somewhat the same manner that the stores do.


A homemade stepping stone with glass pieces and rocks placed in the cement.

Inexpensive Stepping StonesStepping stones are an easy way to add functional creativity to your garden. Here's a simple and inexpensive way to make your own in just 10 easy steps.



Anatolian Shepherd Dog on grass

Breed Information: Anatolian Shepherd DogThe Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a large, rugged and powerful dog that is unrivaled in his ability as a working guard dog. This breed is impressive in size and strength, alert and intelligent and has a calm, yet bold and highly territorial nature.


Pruning Your Evergreens

Pruning Your EvergreensMost evergreens need little or no pruning to grow their best, but occasionally dead or damaged branches need to be removed, growth becomes excessive, or trees grow out of their natural form. In these cases, it pays to know when and how to prune your evergreens.


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Make Your Own Natural JewelryAu Natural Jewelry is all about using natural material like wood, natural fibers and shells where possible. The look is relaxed. Rather informal. Very spontaneous.


painted countertops 1

Painting Formica CountertopsMy home was a mecca of ugly and strangely colored laminate countertops; hunter green, brown, navy blue, beige, etc.. I set out to paint them to improve their look, thinking "they can't get any worse, can they?" Paint was my frugal friend.


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My Frugal Life: Common Sense About MoneyMy immigrant non-schooled Mom and jack-of-all-trades Dad supported a family of 5 with no-nonsense and common sense when it came to money.


Woman and grocery shopping cart in produce aisle.

10 Quick Ways To Reduce Your Household BudgetNowadays, the only way to survive with gas and food prices rocketing is to find cost cutting measures for your household budget. My household budget consists of food and cleaning supplies, yard and house maintenance and entertainment and family gifts and clothing.


A dinner party with many young adults serving from a counter.

Friendsgiving Party PlanIf you are going to do a Friendsgiving, don't do it the way we did the first year! Here are the tricks we've learned:


Natural Remedies for Head Lice

Natural Remedies for Head LiceMy husband and I discovered head lice in our teenagers' long hair. It has been a few years since our last outbreak so I did some quick research online to make sure I was treating the infestation correctly.


Photo of pink roses.

Growing Roses in ContainersHave you always wanted to grow beautiful roses but can't find the extra garden space? Are there varieties you want to try that are not hardy to your zone? Do you wish you had greater ability to move color to where you need it throughout the growing season?


Wood ash.

3 Ways to Use Wood Ashes in the GardenAs long as you follow a few simple precautions, wood ashes can be used to benefit the garden in three ways: as a fertilizer, as a soil amendment, or as an insect repellent.


Mint Growing in a Garden

Controlling Invasive HerbsHerbs become invasive in two ways. Some freely scatter their seeds, and others send out rhizomes (root-like stems) that meander along just under the soil's surface. Here are some ways to keep these invasive herbal companions in check.


Red cabbage with apples.

A German-American ThanksgivingMany immigrants from different countries that arrive in America make Thanksgiving festivities to fit in with their own cultures. I think that is wonderful. We are free in this country to celebrate Thanksgiving any way that is special to each of us.


Picture of turnips.

Freezing Turnips or ParsnipsA Guide to Freezing Turnips or Parsnips. Select small to medium, firm turnips or parsnips that are tender and have a mild flavor. Look for crisp green tops as an indicator of freshness.


Facts About Yorkshire Terriers

Facts About Yorkshire TerriersThe Yorkshire Terrier, nicknamed Yorkie, is a small breed of dog first developed in 19th century England to catch mice and rats in textile mills. Today, this popular companion dog is known for its luxurious blue and tan coat, and its bold, inquisitive personality.


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Many Uses for an Electric Heating PadTwo years ago I received one of those small electric heading pads from a friend for the holidays. Within a month or so of owning the pad, I found myself using it for a few things and to this day it's one of the most useful gifts I've ever received.


Saving Time is Like Saving MoneyTime is money, or so goes the cliche. There's merit to that well-known phrase and many others. A person can't buy time, another cliche, so why not save it as the greatest resource? After all, if you worry about the business at hand, in due time you'll have time to waste.


Chain Link Fence with Flowers

How to Dress Up a Chain Link FenceA chain link fence is durable and long lasting. It is a great choice for defining property boundaries and keeping your children and pets safe. Here are some ideas for adding some charm to your chain link fence that will help it blend more seamlessly into your landscape.


variety of dry beans

Dry Beans, Beans, Beans!Beans are a great way to stretch your food budget and can feed a crowd. Most people love a great chili or baked beans, but most people don't know how to identify the beans in every dish.


Birdhouse made from gourds.

How to Make a Gourd BirdhouseGourds are fun and easy to grow, and many of the hard-shell types make wonderful houses for common cavity-nesting bird species like chickadees, nuthatches, and martins.


Medium sized tree.

What to Plant Under Black Walnut TreesHighly prized for its strength, resistance to decay, handsome wood grain, and product versatility to woodworkers, black walnut trees are considered black gold.


use it or lose it

Use It or Lose ItI'm sitting on a jackpot, and I didn't realize it until a rainy week inspired me to clean my office closet. Over the course of this year I had easily purchased fifteen boxes of thank you cards for $3 a piece.


How to Transplant LilacsLilacs are exceptionally easy to transplant. I have transplanted many lilac bushes from the original bushes that my grandmother planted on our Wisconsin dairy farm 70 years ago. Early spring until late spring, from when the lilacs develop buds until they actually have small leaves, is the best time to transplant.


moss covered stones

Tips For Growing Moss on RocksTips for getting moss to grow on rocks and planters in your yard. Post your own techniques here.


How Gardeners Can Help Monarch Butterflies

How Gardeners Can Help Monarch ButterfliesMonarch butterfly populations are in trouble. Each fall, hundreds of millions of them migrate from the United Stated and Canada to the mountains in Mexico where they wait out the winter. Each spring, they make the long trip back in order to breed.


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Nature's "Penicillin"This worked for me. I had been suffering from nasal drip, sneezing and other various symptoms when I remembered this formula I recieved. I took a spoonful and within 30 minutes my symptoms were all gone. If you suffer from allergies to any of the ingredients, see your doctor.


Caring for Gerbils, Gerbil in it's cage.

Care Information for Pet GerbilsGerbils are friendly and inquisitive. They make lively, active pets that are easy and relatively inexpensive to keep and interesting to watch. Most domesticated gerbils are Mongolian gerbils.


A small boy in a tent overlooking a valley.

Frugal Camping TipsMany plans for vacation travel and events have been cancelled this summer, causing a renewed interest in camping trips. Camping is seen as a cheap way to vacation but the costs can really add up if you are not careful and wind up buying forgotten items. Here are some tips to keep your camping trip affordable and enjoyable for all.


An unpaved country road.

Silence Is GoldenWhen I was a child, I would take long walks down unpaved, winding country roads. Much of the land was undeveloped and sometimes there was two, three miles distance between houses. Often, I would hear a cow mooing in a pasture to my right or left, tiny birds chirping happily, even the occasional buzzard or chicken hawk overhead.


Taking a check out of an envelope.

Frugality And A Question Of MoralsI recently voiced my opinion, maybe too loudly, on a post about asking for extra condiments when dining out. I felt keeping extra condiments automatically given to you was OK, while asking for extras to increase your at home stockpile was not.


A man looking at a rack of different types of oil at a supermarket.

Choosing a Healthy Cooking OilThere are so many different choices for cooking oils. In a large natural foods store, there might be an entire aisle full of bottles and tins from all across the world. With nutritional studies emerging all the time that seemingly contradict each other, it can be hard to know exactly which oil is the best choice for your family. I decided it was time to find out for sure. I'm not an expert, but I thought I would share what I found out.


A woman relaxing with head and legs raised.

Coping Skills with Depression and AnxietyA few years ago, I needed help with coping with depression and anxiety. I went to classes to learn. I don't usually tell people this, but it helped me learn so much. It helped me then and it is helping me greatly now! A lot!


A family waving at their grandma.

Another Day in Quarantine: The Best Day of AllMy day started out about the same. I have to say, I am looking at life a lot more positive these days! That is important for everyone to know. I think we (people) are just adjusting to this way of living. We are so conscientious of the possibility of catching the virus, we have given into the new way of life living in our homes We are at an accepting stage.


Macaroni and cheese in foil containers.

My Life Since Being "Quarantined"I'm not complaining at all here! One thing I want to focus on is my attitude. That is, my attitude now. Oh, I was not very happy with all of this in the beginning! Oh no!


A box full of limes, lemons and oranges.

Using Up A Surplus of FoodI had an interesting problem recently in regards to food. In response to the coronavirus outbreak, Oregon closed all bars and restaurants in mid March. They could still provide take-out or delivery but many places shut down for the duration. Because this was relatively unexpected, the businesses had a great deal of produce and refrigerated food to get rid of before it went bad.


A set of organized small shelves in a bathroom.

RepurposeAn artist at heart, my brother loved doing home renovations. He also loved teaching me the basics, like how to use a power drill. This skill has played an essential role in my frugal living. Many of my frugal habits center around repurposing. It is finding another meaning in something, whether it retains its current form or not, and whether it is carefully preserved or eventually discarded.


A woman using coupons when grocery shopping.

Living on a BudgetMy boyfriend and I live in Southeastern KY. We are both disabled and living on disability. We have to budget everything, from electricity to groceries, every month. We are members of several store loyalty programs that automatically apply coupons to your purchase, which helps a lot. You can also use clip coupons along with that to add extra savings.


Tomatoes growing in a garden.

A Green Frugal LifeI've always been a frugal person, following in my Grandma's footsteps. She survived the Depression yet fed her family well. Even a teaspoon of leftover corn at dinner was put in a homemade soup. Pastry scraps were made into the most delicious treats, spread with either cinnamon sugar or jam, then rolled, baked and sprinkled with powdered sugar. From her, we learned how to make delicious meals cheaply.


A wood burning stove in the kitchen.

Living in the BoondocksWe live in the country and it is 45 miles away from any grocery store. The first thing we do is to make a shopping list and only go shopping once a month. Our doctors are 180 miles from our home so, when we have a doctor's appointment, we check the shopping ads for the stores in that town and buy what we know we will use and stock up on those items at those stores.


A doctor holding the hand of a patient in comfort.

Cancer: Health Isn't The Only Price You PayHearing a doctor tell you the hard truth, that you have cancer, takes your breath away. After a little while it becomes abundantly clear that the initial shock is compounded by the overwhelming costs involved. It's an added stress to you and your loved ones.


An antique phonograph playing a small record.

Jeannie Rollins ~ Frugality Without ChoiceMost of us have hard times now and then. Some of us have not just hard times but hard lives. Sometimes we all need something to jolt us back to reality. To a perspective from which we can see ' things really aren't as bad as they seem'. Some have it much worse than you.


A garage sale in a front yard.

13 Items That Almost Always SellThere was an internet meme going around recently that read: "See that clutter in your home? It used to be money." That simple statement was a wow moment for me. OUCH!


A file cabinet with manila folders and papers filed neatly.

Getting the Most of WarrantiesNearly everything that is manufactured has some sort of warranty, although the length can vary greatly. Sellers can also offer extended warranties and credit card purchases may have additional protection as well. But these do you no good if you cannot utilize them before they expire. Here are some tips for making sure you get your money's worth from new purchases.


A grocery bag with fresh fruit and bread.

Be Content With a LittleIn my older years, my situation changed. I was not able to buy the things I thought I wanted or needed. Or thought I needed. Although I can't buy grass fed beef, the ground beef on sale for $2.99 a pound hasn't killed me. The fresh vegetables that grow next door to the organic are $2-$3 cheaper a pound.


A rack of clothing at a thrift store.

Thrift Stores Are Not Created EqualI love thrift stores. My mom took my 5 sisters and me to the same store every time we went to the beach. That store is still there and I still shop there. Almost any thrift store has something I need. But they're not equal.


A freezer filled with vacuumed sealed foods.

Living With Less Is MoreI have always been a bit of a cheapskate and as I get older I have grown to realize that I am not a "cheapskate", I am Frugal! And might I say I am proud of it! It started in my 20s.


A daffodil next to a wooden fence.

Learning to Love My SeasonAs a child, I used to flip through a picture-book of Aesop's fables. One story I liked was of a dog who gazed into a lake long enough to see another dog. This dog, in lake world, stared back. He had a bone in his mouth. The real dog, with envy gnawing at his mind, snapped at his reflection in the water, dropping the bone he already had.


Two cats asleep on an armchair.

Saving Money in Different CategoriesSome of the best ways I've personally saved some money has been through these things:


Go-Go Boots - young woman wearing white go go boots and lime green vinyl dress

Go-Go BootsWhen I was in the sixth grade, short white leather boots, called go-go boots, were all the rage. All the cool girls got them immediately. Not-so-cool girls got them in rapid succession. In a short period of time, anybody who was anybody had a pair, except for me.


The mountain town of Hot Springs, NC

Inner Roadblocks to Financial WellbeingI am not a fan of money in any shape or form. I pretty much have come to hate everything about it. Especially the way it interferes with what I'd rather do in life which means basically not having to care about who has it or who doesn't or how to get it or how not to - in other words, the way the cancer of money destroys everything in its wake.


A drawing of an owl.

Free Education for SeniorsMy husband had already retired. I thought it would be a good time for us to spend time doing things that we've always loved so I retired early. Lucky for me, nature and the environment has always been my passion so I checked with all the local colleges and ended up finding a wonderful college certification program for Conservation and Natural Resources.


A platter of homemade banana cakes.

A Hundred Dollar For A Family of FourGrowing up wasn't that easy for a simple girl who is shy and almost doesn't talk in public. My family has had a lack of resources since I was a kid, as my parents were just starting a small family. I remember one time my parents told me and my older brother to hide during snack time because we only have water and fried bananas on our lunchbox.


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