Posted on 9. November 2011

Ideas for Reusing and Repurposing Containers

This post is from the archive.  Originally posted in January 2011 as a guest at one of my FAVORITE blogs in the world, Sorta Crunchy.  If you are not already subscribed, to it, you should remedy that ASAP. 

When it comes to organizing and storage, I  would always purchase new containers to be just the right fit for the job.  I never thought twice about it!  

I then had a friend share some of her yummy soup leftover in an old spaghetti jar.  It honestly never occurred to me that i could do that!  I thought I had to use Tupperware for left-over's!  That jar of soup sparked my dive into repurposing containers (not literally...that would be interesting). 

In researching this post I did my best to bring you ideas that are practical, easy, and attractive.  Here is a short guide to help you see the potential to your trash! 

  • Glass Jars:  While I already mentioned glass jars can serve to store leftovers (ideally soups and dips)  There are a host of other things they can do.  Glass jars come in many shapes and sizes.  Take a second look at everyone that would potentially become trash.  They may serve better as a  change jar, a flower vase, or a container for homemade bath salts, pre-mixed cookie recipes, bath oils, and hand scrubs.  Can we say, “the perfect gift!” 

homeade scrub

  • (photo courtesy goodLife{eats})

  • Parmesan Cheese Containers: Perfect containers for refilling with Powdered sugar.  Powdered sugar is often "sprinkled" yet it comes in a bag making it messy and awkward to sprinkle.  Put it in an empty parmesan cheese container and problem solved!   Same is true for baking soda (if you use it to clean), or any of your homemade spice mixtures. 

  • Tissue boxes (the vertical kind): Makes a great trash cans for your car

  • Egg Cartons: Take the lid off,  poke small holes in the bottom and place in an empty bread or newspaper bag, there you have an instant free green house for seedlings!

  • Yogurt containers: The stony field quart size is dishwasher safe which makes them another great food storing option.  The smaller ones are great for making Jell-O and popsicles! 

  • Coffee Creamer bottles: Double as a great homemade salad dressing dispenser. 

  • Contact Lens Solution bottles:  I used these all the time in the homemade toiletries department.   They work great for homemade shampoo, conditioner and especially great for your oil cleansing method. 

  • Tin Cans:  I personally love both of these projects.  Instructions for the first one are here.  And the garden project instructions are here.

 

(via HGTV)


recycled cans

from Happy Sleepy

  • Buying in bulk is a great way to save money.  But it is much more practical to keep large containers in an out of the way location and re-using small containers for everyday use.  For example last time I bought coconut oil it was in a 5 gallon bucket.  I store the bucket out of the way and place just a small amount in a pitcher on my counter for everyday use. 

  • Homemade cleaners:  When you finish your bottle of store bought cleaner, save it and consider making your own.  If is VERY simple, MUCH cheaper, and WAY safer.   Plus I found this fabulous recipe on pintrest.  Same goes for hand soap and body wash.  More fabulous pintrest recipes. you say?  Oh I’m so glad you asked!  Try this and this.

  • Trash Cans: They can be used to make a very simple rain barrel, or a compost container!  I have a trash can in my back yard for compost, and having tried several other methods of composting.  It is the easiest, cheapest, and most functional i have ever tried.

  • Empty Coffee Cans: Speaking of compost.  You know those fancy containers that sit on your counter to collect your compost until you can bring it outside?  My “fancy container” is this...an empty coffee container.  It collects vegetable peels and and everything else just as good as the expensive ones.  The bonus?  The little bit of coffee that was left helps to mask odors.  Plus it’s free.  To be honest I have been using this guy for at least a year (since now we buy fair trade) and have had no problems with odor.

compost container 

Next time you need a container think outside the box.  Did i forget to mention boxes?  You can break them down and lay them flat under your mulch, they suppress weeds better than landscaping fabric and as they break down they feed the earthworms!   

What containers do you repurpose at your home!?

del.icio.us Tags: green,frugal,reuse,recycle,compost,thrifty
    
Posted on 29. September 2011

Simple, natural, and frugal ways to clean

 Featured at Sorta Crunchy, the Greenbacks girl, Life renewed, and a Delightful home

I was doing a little grocery shopping the other day and I realized I rarely visit the cleaning isle.  There are TWO rows full of cleaning products in most grocery stores that I am able to avoid with a few simple products.

IMG_6414

I think advertisers want us to believe we need a different product to clean every surface in our home.  Well I am entirely to cheap, frugal for all that.  What you see in this picture is what I use to clean pretty much every surface in our home. 

As I mentioned a while back vinegar is a miracle product when it comes to cleaning your home.  Plus it disinfects! 

All purpose spray:

A solution of equal parts vinegar and water plus a splash of lemon juice is the perfect all purpose, all natural, and all frugal cleaning solution.  Perfect for an empty bottle of your old cleaning solution or a purchased spray bottle. 

Dusting:

A damp rag woks just as good as anything else. Don’t fall for advertising that makes you believe you need fancy sprays or equipment. 

Toilets:

I use baking soda.  It cleans, deodorizes, and it’s $.50 a box.  A little sprinkle and a light scrub from the toilet brush is all it needs.  I do occasionally use bleach but only when I have to (hey I never said I was perfect). 

Moping:

We have a H20 mop and as much as you can possibly love a mop...I love this one.  All it needs is plain water to clean and it does a way better job than any mop I have had in the past!  It is about $100 but it will easily outlast 10 $10 mops, I don’t have to buy additional cleaners, and it is less work than standard mops! Complete review here.

Laundry: 

I make my laundry detergent using soap nuts. Complete recipe here.  As if it wasn’t simple enough I found an even easier already made SUPER concentrated version of the same thing here. It is affordable, all natural, and very easy! 

Dishwasher:

The last several times I unloaded the dishwasher there was a film of soap left on our dishes.  Dishwasher detergent sounds much more dangerous than delicious so I decided to give the Soap nuts solution a try.  Turns out it worked great!  The dishes were clean and residue free! 

  • Ok let’s do a review.  Here are my must haves for regular cleaning:
      Vinegar
      Baking Soda
      Cleaning clothes
      Soap nuts or Soap nuts liquid
        • Optional use and occasional cleaning:
              Lemon juice (makes the vinegar solution smell nice)
              Dr. Bronner’s soap (makes your laundry smell nice and can be used for lots of other stuff)
              Bleach: occasional tough stains in laundry and cleaning.
              Windex: I don’t know of anything that works better on mirrors and windows. 

                IMG_6406

                  I have the same bottle from when we first got married 7 years ago...don’t judge me. 

                  The must haves AND the optionals are still much wiser choices than what most Americans have in their cleaning supply closet. 

                  What do you use (or don’t use) to clean your home? 

                  del.icio.us Tags: simple living,frugal

                   

                      
                  Posted on 31. August 2011

                  Frugal, natural, & fabulous beauty basics (and a lot you don’t need)

                   Featured at Sorta Crunchy, the Greenbacks girl, Life renewed, and a Delightful home

                   

                  I think it’s a good idea to do a little homework on what in the world is IN  the stuff we slather all over our largest organ...our skin.  Most inexpensive products are made with cheap oils and waxes that do more harm than good.  The quality products are EXPENSIVE so what to do? 

                  The Oil Cleansing Method

                  I fee like I’m in on a little secret that most of the world doesn’t know...I wash my face with oil. Wait don’t click away, move the mouse away from that unsubscribe button, it’s not as crazy as you think.   

                  Washing your face with oil may sound weird and counteractive especially if you have oily skin but believe it or not oil does not cause acne or make you have an oily face.  Soap strips your face of it’s natural oils causing your skin to produce MORE oil to make up for what has been taken.  Even acne.org says “oil cleans oil.” 

                  I have been washing my face with a part olive oil, part castor oil mixture for almost two years now.  It is the only thing I need to remove my makeup, clean, AND moisturize.  My skin is very soft, not oily.  I love it!  Try getting all that for $10 a bottle (and it lasts for 6 months or more!). 

                  Details and step by step instructions here

                  Coconut Oil

                  I have a re-used baby food jar full of coconut oil on my bathroom counter.  I use it as my lotion, and a conditioner.  After I blow dry my hair I use just a “dab” on my ends as conditioner.  Coconut oil is an amazing product.  Lots of research shows us it can heal scars and even bruises!  There are plenty more details on the amazing product that is coconut oil here.

                  Shampoo Bars

                  If you are like me and just trying to get something to clean your hair, leave it feeling weightless, and prefer not to have 100 random things you cannot pronounce in the line up,  then allow me to introduce you to my friend, the shampoo bar:

                  soapThe shampoo bar has seriously become one of my favorite things.  There are tons of yummy smelling varieties and I have NEVER, I mean never, had my hair been so cooperative! I have tried the “no poo method” and was not NEAR as satisfied as I am with the shampoo bar.  

                  No need for mouse, gel, spray, etc.  This is a big deal yall!  With hair as straight and volume-less as mine I used to be a hair product junkie. Now that my hair is not so heavy from waxy, yucky build up, I have some volume!  Plus I’m saving money buying less products!

                   

                  Today somebody is going to win a shampoo bar!

                  Sweets n Things, a fabulous store on etsy, offers shampoo bars in varieties like:

                  Sweet Papaya
                  Lemon Rosemary
                  and Blackberry Cream silk which I think I want to eat too. 

                  blackberry soap

                  And she has been generous enough to offer one of these Amazing looking handmade lip balms! 

                  lip balm

                  Contest is over but please feel free to share your natural and frugal beauty secrets! 

                  Don’t miss a post! Have Imperfect People delivered to your inbox or your RSS reader...Don’t worry it’s FREE!

                  del.icio.us Tags: frugal,simple living,natural,green

                   

                  Posted on 29. August 2011

                  Back to basics: Canning for rookies

                  I have always admired people who were able to preserve all of the yummy produce that is plentiful in the summer.  Making delicious jellies and pickled...well...everything, stocking up to last all winter.  What a fun way to make all natural food at a fraction of the cost!

                  This season I set out to learn how to can.  I was intimidated, to say the least.  But after watching some “how to” you tube videos (which of-course makes me an expert) and reading a few articles, I decided to roll up my sleeves and give it a go. 

                  My first experience was back in May when I made strawberry jam.  In “typical me” fashion I got a little too overzealous and tried to make it sugar-free using low or no sugar pectin.  This is possible but a little tricky so I don’t recommend it unless you know what you are doing...which of course I did not.  The jam wasn’t a complete waste however, we can still use it, but it taste much better with a little added honey and it didn’t “jell”  very well. 

                  My next experience was WAY more successful.  And now I am a canning addict!  I have made scuppernong jelly, pickles, salsa, pear preserves, and pear sauce (the pickles didn’t make the picture because we already ate them already!). IMG_6342

                  How to get lots of FREE and or CHEAP produce

                  1. Pick your own.  Many farms offer pick your own produce and the cost is MUCH less than retail. 
                  2. Check out the “reduced table” at the produce stand.  Many produce stands move their fruit and veggies that are getting old, or have blemishes to the reduced table.  This is the perfect place to get produce for canning because it all needs to be cut up anyway so it is easy to cut out the blemishes.  The only trick is be ready to can that day because the fruit needs to be preserved quickly! 
                  3. Don’t be afraid to ask.  My sweet neighbor was the one generous enough to let me pick off her scuppernong grape vine for the jelly.  Most people who have fruit trees are happy to share their abundant crop.  You just have to ask. 

                  What do you need?

                  The only things you REALLY need are a large pot, jars and lids for canning, clean clothes, a ladle, and something to get the hot jars out of the boiling water. 

                  jar-lifter

                  Although you can do without it, a canning funnel makes the job easier and less messy. 

                  Making the recipe to can

                  1. Decide what to can.  If you already have a favorite homemade recipe then you are already half way there!  There are tons of great ones to choose from here and here.
                  2. Have no idea where to start?  Almost anything can be canned.  What is your favorite summer fruit or veggie?  What do you buy the most of and could make your own instead?  If you need a good place to start I would suggest a pickling recipe as your first canning experience.  Tomato recipes need added lemon juice or citric acid to get the right pH and jellies are a little more tricky making sure they “jell”.

                  We made these pickles (without the peppers) YUM!

                  Fill and process

                  Once your recipe is made, fill the jars (leaving 1/2 inch space at the top for expansion). 
                  Place lid and ring around the jar and tighten.  Then place jars in the boiling water bath.  There are all kinds of instructions of how long to let them boil depending on your elevation and what you are canning.

                  I am way too lazy to do all those calculations and I read most sources suggest boiling way too long...so I just boiled everything for 5-7 minutes with success every time!

                  Remove from hot bath and let cool on the counter. As the jars cool you may have to re-tighten as they can become loose with heat. 

                  In the next few hours you should hear all your jars POP.  This is the sign of a job well done!  If for some reason one of your jars didn’t seal (you can still press the center up and down) then store in the refrigerator or eat that one first. 

                  ***Update!  Reader, Sabrina, added:

                  Don't forget, once your jars are processed and cooled, remove the rings from the jar.  That way if there is ever a jar that goes bad, the lid can dislodge itself instead of the jar exploding.

                  Good to know!  Thanks Sabrina!

                  Now all you have to do is label, and enjoy! 

                  Have you ever canned?  Do you want to?  What are your thoughts? 

                  Don’t miss a post! Have Imperfect People delivered to your inbox or your RSS reader...Don’t worry it’s FREE! I don't know you have stopped by unless you comment so please do!

                  del.icio.us Tags: simple living,frugal,canning,gardening,cooking
                  Posted on 13. July 2011

                  Eating organic...Imperfectly

                  Featured at Sorta Crunchy, the Greenbacks girl, Life renewed, and a Delightful home

                  Trying to eat everything perfectly organic can get overwhelming.  Honestly it makes me want to go eat a bag of cheetos and forget the whole thing.  I am all for eating 100% organic...if it were realistic, but most organic products are more expensive and many are just hard to find! 

                  That being said I know without a doubt it is important.  Pesticides, hormones, antibodies, synthetic fertilizers and genetically modified food does NOT sound appealing.  But being that our bank account is limited and our small town doesn’t have access to everything organic here are some ways we have found to make it all work. 

                  Produce

                  Many items in the produce section carry higher contaminates than others.  Oranges and Bananas for example have thick skin, therefore the fruit carries much fewer contaminates than say, grapes or lettuce. 

                  The “dirty dozen” lays out the 12 foods that carry the most pesticide residues.  It is  suggested  to buy these products organic if possible. 

                  I admit it, we do not buy everything on the dirty dozen list organically.  My “imperfect” way of resolving the problem is a vinegar bath.  Pesticides are made to be water resistant (because of rain) so just rinsing the produce in water won’t do the trick.  I give my grapes, apples, etc. a bath of (roughly) 3/4 cup white vinegar to 5 cups water.  I let them soak for a few minutes then wash them off as normal.  You can buy those fancy produce wipes too...but this is much cheaper and just as effective. 

                  Growing your own produce is also a fabulous option.  Think you can't be a gardener?  Read Cheap and Easy gardning...for the rest of us.

                  Animal products

                  Meat, milk, milk products, and eggs all fall into the animal products category.   While pesticides on your produce are not great, hormones and antibodies are much worse.  If you have to choose, It is actually better to make wise decisions when it comes to your animal products than your produce. Need convincing?  Watch food inc.

                  Free range animals usually come with a high price tag.  Here is how we make it work:

                  Our pediatrician says if you are going to buy only one thing organic, buy organic milk. Especially having two girls, I appreciate her advice protecting them from false hormones.   Not only is organic milk free of the bad stuff, it also has much more of the good stuff.  When milk is processed it is heated, the high temperatures cause milk to loose much of it’s nutrient content.  Details here.  Our local farmers market sells AMAZING organic milk for $4.50 a gallon.  Which is much cheaper than grocery store organic milk and the taste is significantly better than “regular milk.” 

                  Our eggs come from the local produce store.  They sell yard eggs for $2.75 a dozen.  We buy free range chicken, grass fed cow meat, and wild caught fish...and it is expensive.  This is just one of the things we feel is important and worth the extra cost.  To make it more affordable we don’t eat it every night.  Often we have a bean dish, omelets for dinner, or soups and casseroles that don’t require as much meat.  We also live in the south and have access to deer meat.  You can’t get more “free range” than deer meat.  Just don't watch Bambi.

                  Geezzz i sound like such a hippy huh?  I used to not even like people like me!  Don’t judge!  For the record I am typing this post while eating a piece of chocolate cake so don’t be too impressed. 

                  What do you think?  Do you eat organic?  How do you make it all work for your family?

                  Posted on 21. June 2011

                  Back to Basics: Making your own laundry detergent

                  There are tons of recipes out there on making your own detergent.  Many do-it-yourself recipes include less than 5 ingredients but for my imperfect self I need SIMPLE!  What about ONE ingredient?  Sign me up for that!  The secret is Soap Nuts.

                  soap_nuts1

                  Soap nuts are the dried fruit of the Chinese Soapberry tree. They contain saponin, a natural cleaner. They are simply harvested, de-seeded, and then dried in the sun. It is hypo-allergenic, brightens colors, and contains a natural fabric softener!  -Passionate Homemaking

                  It is so easy!  I place roughly 15 soap nuts in a pot with about 6 cups water.  Bring to a boil then simmer until cool.  Once it has cooled I pull out the soap nuts and place in my compost pile.  I then pour the apple juice looking liquid into ice cube trays and freeze (it is all natural so it won’t keep at room temperature).  Once frozen I place all my cubes in a freezer bag.  When it is laundry time I use 1 to two cubes per load of laundry (depending on load size). 

                  My laundry detergent:

                  IMG_6121

                  Why bother?

                  1. Cost:  Depending on what commercial cleaner you normally use, it is only a fraction of the cost to make your own. 

                    - All’s Small and Mighty 3x Concentrate for HE washers: $8.49 for 32 loads. ($0.265 per load)

                    - ECOS Laundry Detergent, Ultra Concentrated Fabric Softener: $9.49 for 26 loads ($0.367 per load)

                    - Tide’s 2x Concentrated Laundry Detergent: $14.99 for 32 loads ($0.468 per load!)

                    - Dreft’s 2x Concentrated Baby Laundry Detergent: $31.99 for 110 loads ($0.290 per load)

                    Soap Nuts: $0.07 to $.12 cents a load!  When you buy in bulk you get a better deal.  Great time to split an order with a friend.

                  2. Better for you: Almost every detergent on the market includes sodium lauryl sulfate, Parabens, and other ingredients you don’t really want near your skin,  and eventually in our water system.  Just like many other things the jury is still out on whether these items are carcinogens, but I say why risk it? 
                  3. Getting it REALLY CLEAN: Most commercial detergents leave perfumes, brighteners, and/or fabric softeners on your clothes to cover up the fact that the detergent really didn’t clean anything.
                  4. Less Waste: Making your own detergent means buying less packaging, which means you have less waste.  Recycling is good but avoiding buying the (eventual) trash is even better. 

                  I highly recommend NaturOli Soap Nuts. They have a very high quality of soap nut that come de-seeded...which is important.  And I have yet to find a better price.

                  Soap nuts do not have any fragrance and if you are like me and love the smell of fresh laundry, I suggest adding a  few drops of  Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap in lavender.  Nothing smells better than  all natural and frugal clean laundry!

                  Bonus: Dr. Bronner’s soap can be used for a number of house hold uses too!

                  I love to hear your comments. Have you ever made your own laundry detergent?  Do you make any other household products?

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                  Posted on 3. June 2011

                  What we have been up to lately

                  Thanks to last week’s “week of testimonies” and our girls spending a few days with their Gigi and Papa, I have had a little extra time on my hands.  Being that my busy body Type A personality can't simply REST (although I did do that too ..a little) here is what we have been up to:

                  A few months ago I started working part time doing promotional items.  I am still MOSTLY a stay at home mom but about 12 hours a week I work for Catalyst Innovations selling shirts, cups, hats, business cards, ANYTHING at all with a company or organization’s logo.  I enjoy meeting new people and having a reason to wear something besides “mom clothes.”  It also makes me appreciate and be much more intentional when I am home with our girls.  We have a FABULOUS babysitter that watches them while I work. 

                  P.S. I can sell nationwide so if you need anything I vote you should email me :)

                  On another note, I tried canning for the first time!  I had no idea what I was doing but thanks to simple bites, and the directions on the pectin container, it wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought. I made strawberry jam! It was so exciting to hear those jars POP when I was done!

                  I stopped by a local strawberry patch and picked about 2 gallons of strawberries for a total of $10.  With that I made 7 jars of jam and still had a HUGE bag left for our cereal, salad, and just for a snack.  Frugal and healthy...that is my kind of couple. 

                  While the girls were gone to their grandparents Bryan and I got to go on dates without having to pay a babysitter!  Which is always nice.  We also got a few household projects done that are much easier to accomplish without little ones at your feet. 

                  This time of year I spend several evenings a week, after the heat of the day, playing in the garden with the girls.  The plants are in full swing here in the south and I just LOVE watching them grow from a tiny seed to a giant beauty.   

                  IMG_6051 

                  Because I like to keep it real around here I must also admit I have killed aloe and lavender (two very hard to kill plants).   My bathroom is currently in desperate need of a scrub down, and I often forget where I am supposed to be and when. 

                  Thanks for joining me in a sneak peak of our life.  What about you?   What have you been up to lately??

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                  del.icio.us Tags: gardening,simple living