Imperfect People

Imperfect People in love with a perfect God

Share your story

Imperfect People - Imperfect People in love with a perfect God

How to make HEALING chicken stock

Anyone had the flu this season?  Remember the old fashioned remedy that is chicken soup?  When your grandmothers soup could always make you feel so much better than anything from a can? 

Why is chicken soup better than “Tylenol?” It is because chicken soup has a natural ingredient which feeds, repairs, and calms the mucous lining in the small intestine. This inner lining is the beginning or ending of the nervous system. It is easily pulled away from the intestine through too  many food additives. Chicken soup… heals the nerves, improves digestion, reduces allergies, relaxes and gives strength. Hanna Kroeger- Ageless remedies from mother’s kitchen

Wow!  No wonder chicken soup is often refered to as a cure all when you are sick!  But I don’t think the effect is exactly the same from a can. 

Plus you can use chicken stock instead of bullion! 


Why bother? 

Animal bones are full of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and lots of other good stuff.

Bullion cubes are full of salt, hydrolyzed oils, sugar, and lots of other stuff I can’t pronounce. 

Here’s how it works:

  1. Buy your chicken with the bone in (it is cheaper that way anyway)
  2. Prepare the meat as you normally would
  3. When nothing is left except “scraps” Place the scraps in a pot and cover with water.
    For every 2-3 quarts water add 1/4 vinegar (which helps draw out the nutrients)
    Or the “imperfect” way is add enough water to cover everything and a splash of vinegar. 
  4. Add a few slices of onion and carrot, spices, whatever suits your fancy.
  5. Bring to a boil for about a half an hour then turn off and let cool.  Skim off any excess that rises to top. 

After it cools, pour your stock into the colander (making sure you have a large bowl UNDER the colander to catch the yummy stock). And there you have your stock!  

It can be used right away to make your own HEALING chicken soup or veggie soup! 

If you would like to use for bullion, pour them into ice cube trays, freeze, then place in a large freezer bag for later use.  I use 3-4 cubes in my vegetables, rice etc.  


How does it taste?

YUM!!  MUCH more flavorful than bullion and I feel so good that I am adding nutrients to our food instead of chemicals and unnecessary ingredients.  This is our favorite dish when anyone is feeling under the weather too.

What do you think?  Do you use stock in your home?

Part of the Green Resource at Sorta Crunchy, the Greenbacks girl, Life renewed, and a Delightful home

A tour of our home’s thrifty finds

Who says you have to pay full price?

Goodwill, yard sales and have become my favorite places.  Not only do I score super exciting stuff for very little cash, I also get to support neighbors and charities like goodwill!  So what kind of bargains can you get at a yard sale and or second hand?  Well, welcome to my happy home as I share some pictures of some of my favorite second hand finds!

First, my all time favorite yard sale find.  A ceiling fan!  Who knew right?

I snagged this guy for $40 about 4 years ago.  It is still for sale today at Lowe’s for $250.

My next favorite is a recent find, the irobot automatic vacuum.  I was a little skeptical buying someone else’s used vacuum but I am sooo glad I did.  It was a snap to clean up good as new.  Now I use this bad boy at least twice a week.  Not only can I vacuum the floors AND play outside with my kids at the same time, it also gets under the bed and furniture where this imperfect person rarely never vacuums.  It works great too!

Oh and P.S.  I got it for $10, it retails for $180.

Once I learned about all the randomness in microwave popcorn I have been popping mine the good old fashion way, on the stove.  It has officially turned me into a popcorn snob now that I realize it TASTE SO MUCH BETTER!!  Popping corn is much easier with a whirley pop (got it at good will for $4 retails for $30)

Another favorite find is my kitchen island.  It is the perfect fit and color for our kitchen and I LOVE the added counter space!  (the baby on the bottom was a bonus…just kidding)

Now onto the backyard shall we? Everything you see here including swing set, sandbox, wheelbarrow, playhouse, and slide were all FREE.  Thank you hand me downs!

While we are in the backyard, may I show you my favorite garden piece?

I knew the owner of a local garden center.  He needed advertising help (my specialty) and I was in love with this gazebo he had on display.  We worked it out a trade and I am so glad we did!  I have enjoyed this gazebo for a few years now!

I could go on and on about my favorite pair of jeans, flip flops, the desk I am typing on, pretty much every toy my girls have ever had (besides those from grandparents) and much more!

What was one of your all time favorites bargains?



15 Things you should NOT pay for


There are plenty of things we HAVE to pay for but here is a quick list of everyday items that you should NOT have to pay for.  Enjoy saving some money!


Cleaning Supplies you DON’T need to pay for:


  1. A cleaner for every surface of your home: 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.  Bonus: vinegar is an awesome disinfectant! 
    A damp rag is all you need to dust and baking soda sprinkled in the toilet is a perfect toilet bowl cleaner! 
  2. Laundry detergent: 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! 


Health and Beauty products you DON’T need to pay for:


  1. Face wash, toner, AND moisturizer: Face wash is full of random yucky unidentified chemicals, yet it leaves your face with nothing good.  Taking away all the oil  from your face leaves it needing moisturizer and a few hours later your face has to produce more oil to make up for what has been lost.  Ask any chemist and they will tell you oil cleans oil.  Yes I am talking about washing your face with oil.  I have done it for two years now and have no acne to speak of!  Only soft skin and less expense!  All the details here.   
  2. Shampoo and conditioner:
    Same rules apply to your hair as they do your face although i don’t advice washing your hair with oil.  I wash my hair with a shampoo bar. Affordable, chemical free, and it give my lifeless hair volume!  I dab coconut oil on my fingers and apply it to the ends after they have dried. Also worthy of note is the “poo free method” it didn’t work for me but many people swear by it and it doesn’t get any cheaper than that! 
  3. Hair products: Now that I clean my hair with natural products it is so weightless!  I no longer need mouse, gel, hairspray etc!
  4. Mouthwash: a solution of half peroxide half water is actually better than most commercial mouthwashes (says my dentist.)


General Items you DON’t need to pay for:


  1. Books Remember the library?  Good news…it still exists!  You can place a hold for your books online and it will be there waiting for you at the front desk.  If you have a kindle make sure you check the amazon kindle site and check it often. There are always free books.
  2. Basic Computer Software when you are buying a computer they want lots of extra cash for basic software (word-processing etc.)  Open Office is a free site where you can download all of that stuff for FREE
  3. Bottled water I think most people know by now that bottled water is nothing fancier than tap water. It is between 240 and 10,000 times more expensive than tap water and horribly bad for the environment (yes even if you recycle them).  If you are still stuck on bottled water read this
  4. Your credit report., the only truly free place to see all three of your credit reports for free once a year.
  5. Shipping:  This doesn’t work every time but before you complete your online purchase check
  6. DVD Rentals You can rent DVDs from RedBox locations for $1 a night and better yet, if you use one of the coupon codes from you can get it FREE. Most libraries now have free DVD rental as well.
  7. Cell Phone – Most major carriers will give you a free phone, even a free smart phone, with a 2 year contract.
  8. Basic Tax Preparation – If your taxes are not overly complicated, then you should probably be preparing your own tax return using one of the many free online services. It’s now common for e-filing to be free as well with many services. You won’t even need a stamp!
  9. Tupperware: Why not reuse that old spagetti jar? 

 Part of the Green Resource at Sorta Crunchy, the Greenbacks girl, Life renewed, and a Delightful home

 Have other suggestions?  I would love to hear your comments!

Frugal Christmas, Homemade gifts and wrapping!

I thought it would be fun to do a little homework on some fun homemade Christmas gifts!   My search lead me to plenty of suggestions.  I weeded out all of the horribly tacky, non-useful, and way too difficult projects.  Leaving you with all the good stuff :) 

Without further adieu, Plug in your glue gun, open the kitchen cabinets, and let’s go homemade this Christmas! 

First up, the wrapping:

 Let’s think “outside the box”

  • Reusable shopping totes cost just as much as a gift bag yet they are reusable!  Tie a bow to the top and there ya go!
  • Baskets also make a great reusable gift presentation.

Inside the box

  • When wrapping a box, instead of wrapping the box and lid as one unit, wrap each separately. When you use the wrapped box, secure it closed with ribbon or another tie, not tape or glue. Also, tie on the gift card and trimming. Reuse the box without re-wrapping it until it looks shabby.
  • Newspaper, butcher paper, and paper bags (laid flat and cut) are all great wrapping paper alternatives. 

Now the gifts!

  • Conversation starters booklets.  A cute book of lots of fun random questions like:

What’s the longest you’ve gone without sleep?
What did you do for your 13th birthday?

  Perfect for car rides or date night and a great gift for a couple.

Homeade gifts

complete instructions here

  • Herbal infused Olive oil  Got a Rosemary plant?  Got olive oil?  Why not make a super easy rosemary infused olive oil.

homeade gift
Warm olive oil in a sauce pan.  Pour  into the bottle with a few freshly harvested clean rosemary sprigs.  Put the bottle (perfect opportunity to re-purpose an old bottle) aside to cool. Seal with a lid or a cork. Set the bottle in a dry, cool place with no direct sunlight for at least one week. And there you have a fabulous gift for the chef in your family.  More details here.

  • Homemade candies, chocolates, cookies and cakes are always a hit.  Try this recipe for homemade truffles!
  • Give the gift of your time or skill.  Whether you are Mr. Fix it, a hairstylist, or you can babysit.  Offering your service is a great gift! 
  • Themed baskets/or buckets are always fun.  Fill a popcorn bucket with packages of microwave popcorn and movie tickets for a date night basket! Other ideas are:  Spaghetti night  baskets with sauce, noodles, garlic bulbs all in a colander. Or (my personal favorite) a watering can filled with gardening gloves, seed packets and a trowel.  
  • The gift of family history.  This is one of my favorite ides.  Each year choose a topic to write about your family’s history.  Every member contributes their own unique story to the theme.  Example themes are: how you met your spouse, the first home you lived in, a funny story about when you were a kid.  What a treasure these stories would be from our 80 year plus grandparents! 
  • Reasons why I love you.  Just take an empty jar,  then type out all the reasons you love that person.  Print then cut into strips and place in jar.  Recipient can pull one out a day to be reminded of your love.

memory jar, homeade gift

  • A memory jar.  Similarly  to the reasons why I love you this gift is a GREAT idea for a grandparent or other older relative:  Contact friends and family members and ask them to send memories and old pictures.  Memories can be placed on folded card stock placed in a large jar or may be better in a homemade booklet.   They will LOVE it! 
  • Family Recipe Books collecting all your families favorite recipes (if they are not a secret) and compiling them in a book to share with everyone is certain to be a crowd pleaser. 

If homemade is not your thing, please check out my gifts with meaning post.  Whether your gift is homemade or fair trade what a wonderful difference you are making! 

Join the conversation.  What is one of your favorite homemade gifts you have given or received?   

Part of the Green Resource at Sorta Crunchy, the Greenbacks girl, Life renewed, and a Delightful home Tags: Frugal,homeade,christmas,green,simple living

Rich People problems

US and Canada represent 5% of the world’s population but almost 30% of the world’s wealth.  Africa is home to double the world’s population yet only 1.5% of the world’s wealth. (source)

Yet when polled, 98% of American’s considered themselves NOT rich. 

Rich is a moving target one that apparently only 2% of Americans (the richest countries in the world) feel they ever reach. 

If you were to ask me if I were rich I would have said no…but I think I had a perspective problem. 

From Craig Groeschel’s book “weird” he met a young man who heard “stories” of rich people that lived like this:

“There are some people who are so rich, they own a car!  I think it’s only 3 to 5% of people in the world so not many, but some people are so rich, they own TWO cars!  Some of these people even have a house for their cars!  It’s called a garage, …then they get in their cars and they eat at restaurants, they are so rich they pay other people to make their food and serve it to them!…Some of these people are so rich they have special rooms in their home just for their clothes!  Nobody sleeps in there, only clothes on hangers and shelves like a store.  Some are so rich they have a closet for the man and for the woman.  Clothes for hot weather, cold weather, some for work, some for church.  It’s crazy! “

What’s crazy is how blind I have been to how MUCH I have compared to how little so many others have. 

What’s crazy is how I sit here in my comfy pajamas and type on my computer, the hum of the TV in the background, a full belly, and pretend I don’t have it made!!

I am realizing how BLESSED I am and thinking twice before I complain about ANYTHING.   I am shifting more toward living in gratitude instead of want. 

Here are some things I could be prone to complain about lately:

  •  I backed my husband’s car (because we have two cars) into the side of the garage (because we have a garage).
  • I can’t decide what to wear because I have so many choices! 
  • And my house could use another de-cluttering.  Because we can afford “clutter.”



I will take these “problems” any day over not knowing where I will sleep or if I will eat tonight.

Check out Rich Word Problems.  It’s a blog dedicated to all the humors stuff we complain about like:

  • I lost my phone and it’s on silent
  • I just updated my status with important news, one hour later, no comments. 
  • My computer is operating at least 1 second slower that it did yesterday.   
  • I just got used to the old facebook and then they changed it again!

Let’s encourage each other to live in gratitude and laugh at all of our “rich people problems.”

We have a LOT to be thankful for.

What is something silly you have complained about lately?  

Simple, natural, and frugal ways to clean

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.

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. 

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. 


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. 


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). 


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.


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! 


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. 

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? Tags: simple living,frugal


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

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 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!).

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. 

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! Tags: simple living,frugal,canning,gardening,cooking

Eating organic…Imperfectly

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. 


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?

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

Cheap and Easy gardening…for the rest of us

You have a black thumb but you want a garden? Or maybe you have tried to garden here and there but got frustrated with the work and the cost? Well I think I can help you out. I used to kill everything I touched or even shared a residence with until I bit the bullet, gave it a legitimate effort, and I have been a full fledged garden junkie ever since.

My first experience was with a tomato plant. I heard something on the radio one day on all the crazy stuff they have to spray on tomatoes to get them “pretty and ripe” for the grocery store (which were never made to be shipped).

 Not really wanting random chemicals on my tomatoes, I figured I would give this gardening thing a shot. My husband and I had just gotten married, we didn’t have kids yet and this tomato plant became my child. I tended to it’s every whim and not surprisingly had a great crop that year. Over the years as my garden and my family have both grown I have realized that tomatoes (and a million other plants) can do quite well without all the fuss. With children (besides plants), a job, and just life, I don’t have hours to dote on my plants anymore and I am assuming you don’t either.  Thus began my cheap and easy garden.

First things first: WATER

The number one killer of outdoor plants is lack of water (the number one killer of indoor plants is too much water…but we’ll stick to outdoor pants here).  I suggest a drip irrigation system.  It is MUCH cheaper to install and uses way less water than a sprinkler irrigation system.  It is also very easy to do yourself…no really it is.  Step by step instructions here.    Most garden centers sell everything you need. 

I have my drip irrigation on a $30 timer that automatically waters my  garden everyday and a hose on the other end for watering plants not on the drip.  A hose splitter like this is less than $5.

This makes watering much less of a chore and gives my veggies the water they will need EVERYDAY during the heat of the summer. 

Established trees and shrubs do not need to be watered so often.  But the first summer you plant anything it will need to be watered at least every other day (except when it rains) to become established….this is why irrigation is helpful.  Cooler climates may not need quite so much water, the best way to tell is stick your finger about an inch down in the soil, if it is dry water it. 

If a drip irrigation is for some reason not possible, make life easier for yourself and plant your garden on a regular route you walk everyday.  The walk to the car, the walk to the mailbox etc.  Above all, CLOSE TO THE HOSE! 

Know your zone

A lot about gardening depends on where you live.  This map will let you know your USDA hardiness zone.  Very handy information on determining planting dates and what will grow best in your area. 

Pick a spot

When growing herbs and veggies you will need a full day of sun (at least 6-8 hours).  Making sure you get enough sun and you have access to a water source you may also want to consider how close it is to the kitchen.  Not a necessity but if you have the option a veggie garden close to the kitchen is a nice plus. 

Get the soil ready

Wherever you choose to plant your garden chances are right now it is currently growing grass (and or weeds).  If you have a tiller, a friend with a tiller, or a budget to rent one that is the ideal way to go…but for the “rest of us”  Here is a good solution:

First get your irrigation laid, then lay several layers (about 10) of damp newspaper, or cardboard over the surface of your garden.  This is a great chance to reuse/recycle your waste.  If you are anxious to get started and don’t have that much newspaper or cardboard on hand you can ask some friends for theirs,  or contact the local newspaper as they often have end rolls of paper without print that they discard with LOTS of paper left.  FYI cardboard from cereal and cracker boxes work great too. 

Make sure you overlap every piece because grass is RELENTLESS!   Then cover it all with mulch.  I use pine straw since I can rake it up for free but crushed leaves, bark, or cedar mulch is all great too.  When you are ready to plant just tear a hole in the paper/cardboard, plant the plant or seed and viola!

Believe it or not your plants can grow without ever having their leaves touched by water or fertilizer…its all about the dirt. Imagine the roots as the mouth of the plant. Everything it needs to eat and drink will be obtained underground.

Making the dirt “yummy” for your plants is all about what you put in the dirt. Being that I like cheap and or free, I use compost. I collect all my kitchen scraps (most anything but meat or dairy) in an empty coffee container on my countertop. But any container will do the job.
When it gets full, I take it outside to my compost container. A.K.A a trash can with holes drilled in the sides and bottom. I also add a shredded newspaper about once a week. I put the lid on and roll it around the yard a few times a week and there you have my $12 compost container that works way better than anything else I have ever tried. Instructional video here.

Compost has all the nutrients your plants could need but if you don’t think you are up making compost there are several commercial fertilizers that are great too.

Organic or Synthetic fertilizer?

I bet I don’t need to tell you what approach i use, but let me tell you why:

According to Paul James, my favorite expert gardener, synthetic fertilizers are like a plant drug. They give plants a quick high, produce abnormal behavior (growth), and are horrible for their health. They add salts to the soil which hinders water absorption AND microbial activity (earth worms and other helpful creatures). Not to mention all those chemicals are absorbed into the fruit or vegetable you will soon be eating.

For a backyard garden organic is cheapest and healthiest option for everyone involved. When I don’t have enough compost I buy Espoma fertilizer or chicken manure. A grab a few handfuls and throw it toward the base of the plant and water well.

Some other free organic fertilizers:

Coffee grounds
 when raking your yard in the fall dump those leaves in your garden!
Animal waste: if you have access to it, animals such as horses, cows, chickens, sheep, and even bats have the best fertilizer in the form of…well poop!

When your soil is well watered and fertilized your plants can’t help but flourish!
Even the blackest of thumbs can grow a good crop. 

Happy gardening!

Share your thoughts what are some of your cheap and easy gardening tricks?


Part of the Green Resource at Sorta Crunchy, the Greenbacks girl, Life renewed, and a Delightful home


Bird Seed Valentines

Looking for a fun alternative to the paper valentine? Bird seed Valentines!

Practical, Cute, and frugal?  It has my name all over it. 

They are very easy to make!

Just mix together

4 cups bird seed
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons of corn syrup 

Then place them into heart shaped cookie cutters.  Press with the back of the spoon to pack the mold.  It is also handy to spray the Cookie cutter with some non-stick spray.


After the bird seed mixture is firmly into each cookie cutter, use a straw to make a small hole in the top.  This will make stringing them with ribbon much easier.


You can let them air dry over night or bake them in the oven on the lowest setting for about an hour.  They will look prettier if you flip them about half way through baking or drying…but I do all things imperfectly and skipped that step and they look fine (although the flour settles more to the back side if you don’t flip).

After they are cool and dry just pull a ribbon or string and make a tie to hang in the tree.  You can attach a cute note or present as is.

Kids love them since they get to go hang them in the backyard and watch the birds enjoy from the window.  And teachers love them because they are fun, different, and USEFUL!

 Much for fun and than paper plus these guys won’t end up in the trash!  

 Part of the Green Resource at Sorta Crunchy, the Greenbacks girl, Life renewed, and a Delightful home