You can Thrive even in a down economy! Our story…

Welcome to Back 2 Basics Home! I can’t wait to hear from you! I hope to be an encouragement to struggling families in this current economy by sharing the things we have learned! Please comment at the end…

 

Are you a stay-at-home mom that is searching for ways to make ends meet for your family? Has there come a time for your family, like there did for us, where everything changes financially and you don’t know how you are going to be able to make it? If you have money coming in, but not like you are used to, you can cut back a lot more than you think and make it work! Be encouraged. Women found a way to make ends meet for their families during the Depression era and so can you. It WILL be okay if you are willing to do without the conveniences that we have all grown to feel are necessities but really ARE NOT. Besides, things are likely going to be more than tough in America for some time. If you start changing your lifestyle now…you will have a leg up on how to make it through until things improve! This is what happened to us in ’06…

We went from having $150,000.00 in savings to not knowing if we could keep our home in about 2 years. Right before the housing market crash we had 2 nice investment homes and our own beautiful home all worth at the time over 3/4 of a million dollars which, here in Arizona, goes a lot farther than other parts of the country. About a year before the crash was realized, we were thinking of starting a business buying, repairing and flipping homes.  

So…after much prayer, counsel and a feeling of approval from God…we sold our home to an investor, who was as slow as we were in seeing what was coming, and banked $100,000.00. We then also sold the investment homes making another $70,000.00. Now, we had cash…and as I had been in rental property management for many years prior to our marriage, and my husband was in construction…we thought “who better to start this type of business?…and with the market booming, what better time?” My husband “retired” from his well-paying, but back-breaking, job as an iron worker after his back went completely out for the second time in 6 months…but we figured we’d just live carefully for awhile until we are able to start our own business. We decided we would start by moving outside the city, which we had always really wanted to do, and we would have land to store materials and lots of room to work.

Turns out, after we had sold our house and started the “land and construction” loan deal, the bank suddenly changed our qualification terms and insisted on 30% down which was $100,000.00. We weren’t overly concerned, though we were very disappointed, and we were already committed since we had sold our home so…we went ahead and paid that huge down payment figuring we will just have to start our business with less but we would make it up with hard work! We only later realized we had fallen prey to a “predator loan” that also came with interest rates jumping up in 5 years to a payment we couldn’t even afford.  But this had seemed like no problem….unless the economy tanks. Of course we did not foresee that as things were still going great in the housing market at this time and we figured we’d just refinance before the 5 years were up just like the bank said we could, right? Ha! Before the next 6 months was up…that was also the time it took to complete and move into our new, smaller home on 5 acres…the housing market would crash. Oh how glad we were that we hadn’t yet sunk that remaining money into a business that would never leave the ground! At least we still had a savings and a home…for now. But what about our future? Did God allow us to do something wrong after much honest prayer? NO! We learned so much through the next 5 years that we will be forever thankful God allowed us to experience it as we grew in faith, became happier, healthier and drew closer as a family! So, back to events…

Hmmm…no job, no business…now what? Don’t forget we only had about $70,000 now. That might sound like a lot to some…but we have a large family (9 of us at this point) and had three baby girls in diapers. One baby by birth and 2 babies that came to us, through God, after I was pregnant that we did not expect or ask for, but we would never have turned them down even if we HAD known what was coming. We were now 40 miles from shopping and our church that we attend several times a week…which wasn’t going to be problem…until gas prices more than doubled after the bubble burst. Gas prices went from $1.45 per gallon to over $4.00 per gallon after we moved! As the situation became more and more clear and we realized we weren’t going to be able to start our own business, my husband started looking for a job hoping to get into ANY branch of construction other than iron as it is THE most brutal of the construction trades.

Well, guess what?…you already know…no one was hiring for anything in the construction field as record numbers of folks were going out of work. This process took over a year. As he tried some other lines of work that were much lower paying than construction but better than nothing, THEY eventually went completely out of business or had to lay off the position he had been hired for. It actually happened to him twice! However, this took us through another couple of years. It was really bad here in Arizona for a lot of folks, let me tell you.

It had now been about 3 years since we had moved and we had learned a lot about living frugally! We had been able to renegotiate our predator loan and they dropped our interest rate and payment by 1/3, which helped a lot! With our savings just about gone, and no other work available at this time at all, my husband eventually had to ask for his old job back. Because he had been there for 15 years prior to quitting…and it was God’s will…they squeezed him in even though they weren’t hiring and finally things started to look up again. That whole process took almost four years plus a year of recovery where things were still extremely tight! Looking back, we can see that he should have just gone right back to iron when we realized there were problems, although sometimes even his company was only working sporadically and THEY almost went out of business also.

It would have been better for us financially to return to his old job right away, though he was TRULY convinced that going back wouldn’t work as he felt physically unable to do it. That’s why he put it off as long as he did. But we don’t know the future…and had he done that sooner, we would have missed all the things we learned through the hardest times for which we are now thankful. I can absolutely understand my husband’s hope that something…ANYTHING…else would work out as it is 115* out here in the summer and he was getting near 50 years old then (there are strapping 20 year olds that can’t do this work and quit after 1 grueling week). Working so hard on decks that can register up to 130* is something I can’t imagine even after hearing him describe it, but with God’s help, he is doing it again for us! He really didn’t believe he could go back and do it again….but when the situation was dire, he was willing to try and God has given him the strength to do it! It’s now been almost 4 years and things have been hard for him alright…but definitely bearable. We are however keeping in mind that he can’t do this forever and we are praying and trying to plan with that in mind.

During that hard time…towards the end…we had to tighten our belts more and more and learn to do with less and less all the while thinking, any moment something will surely work out. I am glad it didn’t happen overnight! It took us years to learn how to live on next to nothing with 8 kids which we were doing by that last year or so. That last tough year we even had to do without any Christmas gifts which, as it turns out, was our best Christmas ever, and I’ll tell more about that some other time :)

Be encouraged because you don’t know what great things are around the corner that you could never have imagined…

Whatever your circumstances that have left you unable to continue as you were, we have some solutions on how to make it work until things improve. And if you put God first in your life, I guarantee that they will improve…when the time is right and you have gained the ground God is trying to lead you to.

So now…you know…that I know whereof I speak! I’ve seen a lot of blog posts on how to make laundry detergent similar to what I have posted. I sure didn’t invent the basic idea. But those others will tell you “Oh, look what I just found! You should try this cool idea.”…and they are just copying what someone else said would work, without the real life experience to back it up. We actually had to LIVE on these back2basics types of lifestyle changes! I HAD to use homemade laundry detergent as our only means of washing clothes and through much trial and error, we have adjusted the recipe and method to work in a real life…big family…daily situation. I couldn’t go back to Tide if I didn’t like the homemade kind! We had to make this and MANY other things work, and with God’s help we did! And we still use only homemade detergent to this day. Why go back to the expensive chemicals when our thrifty recipe works great?

That’s what this blog is all about and as things have greatly improved and those three girls in diapers at the beginning of this journey are 8, 9 and 9 years old now, and the newest addition is 5…I have a little extra time. I decided to share these tips and stories with you so you can get a jump start on how to survive on a greatly reduced income that I didn’t have. I want to provide a service that I would have been THRILLED to find when we desperately needed help! And believe me, I searched to no avail! I found a helpful hint here and there, but not a comprehensive…all-in-one-place…help like I wanted. That is what I will try to provide for you here. Who knows? We may very well end up in times harder than this someday.

My advice for now? After God…make family a priority in your life! Form or reform close bonds, because as times get harder, which is very likely, we are going to need family! A close and multifaceted family has a much greater opportunity to make it through hard times. A day may be coming in which the younger ones will marry and bring the new family member home instead of moving out as family resources are stronger combined…just like in the Great Depression. Dynamics may change…but it can all be weathered with a strong family who puts God first.

Next…start a home food store. Instead of expensive, canned/boxed, processed foods buy inexpensive bags of beans and rice in quantity and keep them in food-grade buckets with gamma-seal lids. Powdered milk and oats are good foods to store as well. Buy wheat along with a grinder which you can learn about on my “Why you NEED to grind your own flour!” page. But USE the food in your own food store! Eat it and rotate it so it is always freshened and it is never a waste even if its never “needed” as an emergency. Its a cheap and nutritious way to eat. This is exactly what we do to this day! Then if an unexpected illness or job loss comes…food is not a worry at all for many weeks or months! It brings a peace of mind and is so doable! I’ll post all about our food store and how it started and how we use it soon!

We can all do this. With God and planning and responsibility, we can make it!

So don’t be discouraged! We have found many awesome, delicious ways to incorporate lots of beans and rice into our diets to save money and we LOVE it :). We will share these recipes soon! Learn to live like our great-grandparents did during the Great Depression. See it as a challenge, not a defeat! And rediscover what the valuable things in life really are! I really believe that the majority of society was happier during hard times. Family and community gatherings and homemade gifts were so fun and meaningful and we want to give you the guidance to get that same feeling that we have “rediscovered”. Being “poor” is okay! I wouldn’t trade what I’ve learned and my family’s close companionship for any Hollywood star’s life and that’s a promise.~Mrs Fitz at Back2Basics Home

Free from paper towels! You can do this!

 

Many years ago, at the beginning of our financial crisis in ’07 as explained in other posts, we realized that, in our home, paper towels were like a monthly bill! Our 8 kids were grabbing and using paper towels for everything! We had to buy them by the case…until my husband no longer had full-time work.

We did however need an alternative. What were we going to wipe our hands on?…our faces while we are eating?…a spill on the counter or floor? Sure we had a few dish towels but we went through those in a few minutes when there were no paper towels in the house. Again, here is a hard financial decision. We have to have something, but we don’t really have any money, what do we do? This is a real dilemma that we faced time and time again! We discussed it and decided we HAVE to manage to make a small investment, by skimping even more on some other things, in cotton towels that we can wash and reuse. After doing much research and comparing prices, I found the cheapest place to buy enough rags to make sense was at our local warehouse club.

 

We purchased a bag of 60 terry cloth rags in the automotive section and they are each about the size of a hand towel. It was actually a little less than the price of a case of paper towels (under $20.00) and we have been using them for everything ever since! When company comes over, we lay out a stack of our little towels and explain that we no longer use disposable napkins and no one has ever cared. In fact, some thought the idea was good not just for cost but also for the environment factor! My homemade laundry detergent (see archive) keeps them clean and I usually bleach them to re-whiten and sanitize.  After many years they started to fall apart and we got another batch from the same place, see the picture above! Though our finances more than stabilized years ago, why go back to the waste and expense? We don’t see why we should and continue this method to this day.

Honestly, we don’t even miss the paper towels. Yes, I remember the adjustment period where we had to change our thinking and yeah, sometimes the rags get gross. Think ‘throw up’…ugh…but bleach and homemade laundry detergent is all you ever need to get them clean again! And who really cares anyway if a few get permanent stains like when cleaning up paint or something that has dye in it? If we ever have to wipe a bunch of oil out of a skillet or something that may actually damage my rags or washing machine, I open the kitchen drawer where I have saved newspapers (free ones from my junk mail) and use those!

We also drain fried foods on these free (non-glossy because the glossy ones have chemicals that leach out!) newspapers. When I was growing up (and we were pretty poor) my parents used to use newspapers to drain fried foods. Newspapers are also good for cleaning glass (black and white ones only) once you learn how. The things our parents and grandparents did still work! We just need to remember!

I haven’t linked to where we get this product like I usually do because it’s at my local warehouse club (Amazon doesn’t have as good a deal on this type of product) and you would be better served to get them at your own local warehouse club if you are a member of one. Which I highly recommend as honestly, if you pick and choose, the best prices to be had on a regular basis (I don’t have time to match coupons with store deals on every product we need) is at these club stores! I love my warehouse club and we maintained our membership even when we had next to nothing as it was the best place to buy all of our food staples such as cheese, produce, butter, rice, oatmeal, beans, meat..etc.

Now that we have been paper towel free for almost 8 years, we can’t believe we EVER used to waste the money on them! We also make other products of which we used to use disposable versions. Comment below or email if you would like a list of items we’ve replaced with reusables and directions on how to do it! I’d love to hear from you!

 

~Mrs Fitz at Back2BasicsHome

EASY and cheap laundry detergent that WORKS!

 

 

You can do this. I promise it’s easy as well as effective. We use this laundry detergent exclusively and it not only works fantastic on all washable fabrics- but its dirt-cheap and all-natural with very minimal chemicals. We don’t use fabric softener except for polyester items that get very static-y in the winter and I make that as well when I need it. Ask if you want that recipe at the bottom in the COMMENTS box.

Supplies:

I would dedicate these supplies for detergent making as it is difficult to fully clean off the soap and oils (which isn’t necessary if you only use for detergent making) and you can bring out all your supplies at once if you store them all together in a special basket. We found it makes it less daunting if you have everything together when you need to make more :)

5 gallon bucket: Home Depot for around $4 or ask at a local bakery, they will usually give you one free! I recommend this because I’ve heard bakeries have so many buckets they just throw them away and people have come back and told me their bakery did give them a free bucket. Doesn’t hurt to ask! With a bucket you can scoop out your soap instead of lifting and pouring and refilling old commercial laundry detergent containers.

Gamma Seal Lid: $8.95 from my store (email if interested as I recently shut the online store down until I have more time to maintain it) or if you have a free shipping Amazon Prime account check it out here and it will definitely make your homemade laundry detergent experience so much nicer to have a screw on/off lid for your bucket. Invest in this! The Gamma seal lids have gaskets and are air-tight and leak-proof! I use them in my pantry for all my food staples also such as wheat, oats, beans, rice, sugar, pasta…

My little pantry

My little pantry loaded with inexpensive, healthy, whole foods.

I use buckets and lids like these for my laundry detergent as well.

 Laundry soap ingredients…my 20 Mule Team Borax box split so it’s not pictured.

 

Pot: 4 quarts give or take~get an old beat-up pot from a thrift store, you’ll feel more homestead-y with an old pot anyway!

Long stirring spoon: foot long, longer if you can find one

Cheese grater: with small “carrot, chocolate” side Yep!…thrift store

1 c. measuring cup: self explanatory….

3/4 c. measuring cup: ….same here :) 

Optional…Large basket: to hold all supplies and ingredients- 2′ x 1′ should be big enough

 

Ingredients:

Ivory bar soap: 2 large bars (4.5oz.) or 1.5 Fels Naptha laundry bars

20 Mule Team Borax: 1 cup- A box is $3.38 at my Walmart

Super Washing Soda: 1 cup- NOT baking soda but it IS made by Arm and Hammer)

 

TIP:I prefer plain, old-fashioned Ivory after having tried many different types of soaps including natural, organic, scented and unscented. Fels Naptha works (I’ve tried it twice) but it has a lot of not-funny sounding ingredients and I don’t know how healthy they are. Also, it is more expensive than Ivory which doesn’t make sense to me. I buy the Ivory soap in bulk from Amazon 40 bars at a time here: Ivory Simply Soap,4.5-Oz bars (4 packs of 10) (for me it has made them .83 cents apiece with my Amazon Prime free shipping account).
Because we make a 5 gallon bucket about every 4-6 weeks and soap doesn’t go bad, we don’t mind having the extra soap on hand. You may only need to make more every few months but herewith a family of 9…we do a ton of laundry!! Look for a local retailer for your Super Washing Soda. I know that near us, it is sold at several grocery and hardware stores at a decent price of $4.00-6.00 and it will make many buckets of detergent. To order online is usually expensive (like Amazon) because it is heavy and s/h has to be factored in.

Be careful where you buy your soap! Those of us on a tight budget need the best price available so I understand if you feel the need to search elsewhere than my recommendation but you can easily be misled by not checking the bar size by ounce! Most sold are a very small…3.1 oz size…while the Amazon link above has the large…4.5 oz size…and has the best price I have been able to find! If you can find it cheaper please share in the comments box below as I’ve searched high and low but I could have missed something!

Directions: 

Set about 8 cups of water to simmer in your new/old pot. While water is heating up, grate 2 bars of Ivory soap or 1.5 bar of Fels Naptha on the “small” side into a large bowl or plate. Then, measure out 1 c. of Borax and 1 c. of Super Washing Soda into a separate bowl. When water is simmering, slowly stir in soap curls until completely melted. Add the Borax and Super Washing Soda continuing to stir until the gritty feeling is gone in the bottom of the pot. It only takes a minute or so. Remove from heat. Fill your 5 gallon bucket 3/4 full of hot water. Add the soapy liquid to hot water and gently swirl with your long spoon to blend. Top off with hot water leaving a little room below the bottom of gamma lid base. Screw on the lid and let set overnight.

 

View video demonstration here!

View video demonstration Pt 2!

View video demonstration Pt 3!

 

The next day you should have a gelatinous texture with some watery separation. Because this bugs my OCD, I make sure the lid is screwed on good and give a few good sideways shakes to the bucket (won’t leak with a Gamma seal lid) which blends everything nicely into a pretty smooth slurry and I do it again later if I notice too much separation. It’s the Borax that causes the gelling and it is also a natural disinfectant. This easy, cheap and natural laundry detergent works great. It does not contain artificial sudsing agents so it does not look “soapy” in the washer. It is working however, which you will see. Start out using 1/2 cup for a large load, 1 cup for heavily soiled or greasy loads. You may actually find you need less than 1/2 cup! Adjust as needed. (HE machines start with 1/4 cup for a large load and 1/2 cup for heavily soiled and adjust down from there) The less you can effectively use, the cheaper it gets!

 

I hope you decide to try making your own laundry detergent! This recipe has had years of actual Back 2 Basics Home use. It’s not something I heard of yesterday and posted today. We’ve used this recipe solely for many years and it works just as well as the expensive, chemical-filled, commercial kind! Let me know how it works for you!

 

 


Why you NEED to grind your own flour!

Welcome again to Back2BasicsHome!

A few years back while I was frantically searching for the cheapest way known to man to feed my family nutritious foods…I finally, after many weeks of research…came to the conclusion that I would have to grind my own flour. Wheat is cheaper AND healthier than buying flour at the store. However, there is even more to know than that. I came to realize much more but, hold on to your seat, this is not for the faint of heart!

Because unused fresh ground flour starts to go rancid fairly quickly as the nutritious oils in the wheat germ oxidize and turn bad, it can’t be stored or sit out. SOoooo, in order to produce a store bought flour that can sit in a mill somewhere, then sit in a warehouse, then sit in a delivery truck, then sit on a store shelf, then be taken home and left to sit in your pantry; that vitally important part….that has most of the nutrients of the wheat….has to be taken out! I’m not kidding! Basically you are just eating the…well, I don’t know what! I was sure shocked when I found out about this as I’d always heard how healthy it was to cook from “scratch” using store bought flour!! As nothing but the ground…shell?…or whatever it is, it has an indefinite shelf life and that’s why artificial vitamins have to be added back in (so called, fortified) before it is bagged up. It would be almost completely worthless otherwise!

Wheat berries, the wheat grains that you put in your grinder, can stay fresh indefinitely if properly stored. But once it is ground, it needs to be used that day or frozen for a short time before use. I’m not a professional nutritionist; I’m just sharing what I have learned on my journey for cheap, healthy food for my family.

Another important bit of information is this; not only is fresh ground flour a healthy complex carbohydrate, but it also a high-quality partial protein that becomes a complete protein when paired with any other partial protein such as beans. With fresh ground wheat and fresh ground beans, you can make bread that is a complete protein like “Ezekiel Bread” which is excellent to have for a quick breakfast or take camping.

Even knowing that all grains raise your blood sugar, fresh ground whole grains do it gradually and not with the spike that causes the jitters and after all, breads are a part of our American daily life. At least these days anyone can grind their own flour and get the healthiest way to eat grains that don’t cause the same problems that unhealthy processed grains do. Should we eat grains all day long? No, but that’s another blog I will do later on.

 

I can buy a 6 gallon reusable bucket of wheat berries, which will produce “tons” of flour, for the price of 4-6 bags of so called “whole wheat” flour at the store! Depending on where you purchase it, 40-50lbs of wheat is between $15.00-30.00. I can get mine at our local warehouse membership store such as Costco or Sam’s Club for around $20.00 in the fall, but you can also purchase it from many other sources, sometimes even cheaper.

I belong to a co-op here in my community that orders from a wholesale warehouse called Azure Standard by the diesel truckload once per month and we get it for even less from there without the bucket. 50lbs of organic wheat berries are only $33 bucks through Azure Standard this month. Do some investigating! Sam’s Club was selling a 45lb bucket for $12.00 2 years ago before the recent wheat crop failure in other parts of the world drove the prices up. Which also affects store bought flour just as much by the way. We thankfully bought 10 buckets back then with our tax refund, but the prices should come back down to that again eventually.

A family owned business that sells wheat in the Arizona/Nevada area at a good price is Grandpa’s Grain. They grow it on a family farm in Idaho and distribute it themselves and as some of their family lives here in Arizona there are several stops here where we can pick up orders. There ARE good sources of wheat and other grains everywhere; you just have to find them! Sprouts Stores, Whole Foods Stores and farmer’s markets should carry it as well. A lot of kitchen supply stores will also carry wheat. Ask at a health food store or find someone in your community (like a local co-op, and join!) who grinds wheat and ask them where they get it.

Community Farmer’s Market

The kind you want if you just want to replace your store bought flour measure for measure in your recipes is Hard White Wheat. It naturally makes excellent breads and cakes and has the nutrition of Hard Red Wheat without the dry, rough, fibrous texture. I sure wish someone had told me that when I was starting out as I foolishly bought 50lbs of Hard Red and 50lbs of Soft White not knowing how to use them and ruined every recipe I tried wasting all kinds of money in costly ingredients until finally, I threw them out after discovering Hard White Wheat. Those other types have their place, but……I don’t know where that is yet :)

Okay, so now you know a little about wheat, and it superiority in both price and nutrition to store bought flour, but how do you grind it?

My first mill was non-electric as I was afraid to make a big investment. After much research and asking around and reading reviews I decided the Family Grain Mill was my best bet. It wasn’t the cheapest or the most expensive non-electric mill but nearly everyone said it produces high quality flour and I knew that would be critical to getting my family on board. If I started feeding them thick, gritty, pancakes and bread, it would all just go in the trash and how was that going to save us any money?

I ordered my mill from a Bosch distributor I found online but now, as a Bosch and L’EQUIP kitchen appliance distributor myself, I can sell it for the lowest price available and with free shipping! (Email us at fitzfunnyfarm@gmail.com for purchasing info from our family owned and operated store in Arizona through PayPal where we have had our verified merchant account for many years.)

The Family Grain Mill did work! And great! Producing very nice, fine flour without getting hot (which destroys nutrients) and we used it solely for about a year, taking turns grinding. Now, adjusted to grinding our own flour, we decided to keep our excellent little non-electric mill for emergencies and put it in the place we store our wheat and food staples and I even bought an extra set of burrs (grinding heads) just because…you never know…

But we were tired of grinding by hand with so much flour needed for a family our size. I then started a lengthy search for the best quality and value electric grinder. After much research and again asking around and reading all the reviews I could find, I decided on the Nutrimill Grain Mill as it is so highly rated and had so many features that were new to the Home Grain Mill Industry. Features such as…not blowing out your eardrums!…and being able to stop/start while grinding. Apparently that is a BIG no-no for most every other grinder and will seize them up. But if one of my kids needs me, I can’t stand there and wait for the grinder! So that was important to me also.

Wow! What a wonder this mill was! It would grind, in a just a few minutes, many cups of powder fine flour. I found it can also be adjusted for coarser grinding too. Whatever you want. Was that investment ever worth it! We use this mill nearly every day! All I ever have to do is dust out the flour with a clean paintbrush that I keep for this purpose and click it back together for tomorrow. Not one bit of trouble even with all the heavy use in our home for almost three years!

I feel very fortunate that I found the two best, affordable mills because of so many people willing to do reviews online! I really relied on that and I was not disappointed! For the health of both your budget and your family definitely consider an investment that will pay you back many times over in the first year! That was the conclusion that I honestly came to and it has proved true. The fine Bosch and L’EQUIP kitchen products I now sell in our family owned and operated store are sold at the lowest prices allowed by the manufacturers.

As with most manufacturers, the price is regulated. They can be sold for more, which many sources do, but not for less so if you are ready to try out a grain mill…rest assured…we have the best prices available at our store (email us at fitzfunnyfarm@gmail.com for purchasing info through our long standing, verified merchant account with Paypal) and we guarantee the lowest price for up to 7 days after the sale or you get the difference back! We currently offer free shipping. We also deliver continued help, support and cooking advice to our customers. Now that’s a down-home old-fashioned idea!

Let us know if this article has been a help!

~Mrs Fitz from Back2BasicsHome

Encouragement and recipes for beans and rice budgets!

Hi there! I’m just sitting here thinking back to a hard, 3 year period of time that started in ’07 after the housing bubble burst here in Arizona. We found ourselves with a weekly budget that averaged about $75 dollars for everything our family of 10 needed, shopping-wise.

And as I am remembering those scary, difficult times…I feel a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of satisfaction. Not feelings you’d expect, eh?

Well, with help from above, (and after messing things up at first :)) we made a hard decision. That we would step back and allow a teaching and refining through this hard time. It’s easy to give in to negative feelings and be despondent and hopeless but as we fought that we were led to thoughts of our great and many blessings. Such as the health of our large and loving family for one. And as we had to make the adjustment to being way below the poverty level for a family our size, with grace from God, we came through it fine and guess what?…so can you!

That $75 dollars may sound like plenty to some of you, but keep in mind that there are 10 (TEN) of us. Yes! Really! We have 4 children by birth and 4 by adoption (all 8 were gifts to us). So that amount was all we had left in our budget each week to purchase food, diapers, wipes, toilet paper, shampoo, soap, laundry detergent, bleach, clothing and shoes for 8 growing children, toothpaste, razors, feminine hygiene products, hairspray (try living without that when you’ve been used to it), nylons, shoe polish to touch up worn shoes and on and on…think birthdays, Christmas, etc. We didn’t mind doing without…too much. :) But we also had to find out how hard it is to tell our children on their birthday, “This year…there just isn’t any money.” Anything and everything a family needs after the mortgage, utilities and insurance is paid and gas money set aside had to come out of approximately $75/week.

Before our financial difficulties started I was spending about $500.00/week at least on these things and then we had to learn to live on a fraction of that. Truly, $75 dollars isn’t even enough for typical, American style meals for a family our size, let alone everything else. But with guidance from God, we did it for over 3 years!

One year we weren’t able to get Christmas gifts for anyone, including our own children, because we just didn’t have the money. But you know what? That was the Christmas we all appreciated the Lord and His birth the most! God saw that we were doing our best to live in our means and honor Him and about 3 months later we received a brand new Wii game system with some games as a family gift. The kids never appreciated a gift as much as that one because as you make the adjustments and start to do with less, you come to appreciate the few special things that turn up and really…I think that is a valuable lesson for all of us and won’t hurt any of us to have to learn it!

You may wonder if we received any government assistance during those hard 3 years and if not, why not? Well, we did apply for Food Stamps (we’d been paying taxes for many years and, after all, weren’t they meant for people like us?…in temporary hard times that are continuing to work and trying to make things better?) and we were approved because we were below the poverty level for a family of our size. However, when the award letter came with the monthly amount to expect, it was $0.00. There just wasn’t any money left in our state after people in even worse shape than us got theirs. (Arizona was one of the hardest hit states by the Housing Market Crash in late ’06 early ’07 when all this happened.)

Some of the things we felt led to discover were many ways to cook beans and rice that are rich and good and don’t leave you with a feeling of deprivation. You know what I mean…that feeling that says…”we have to eat this junk because there’s nothing else”. There really are some great tasting but simple recipes available that we have either invented or found…a couple of which I will share here:

Excellent Re-fried Beans

This is one recipe it took awhile to perfect though it is so simple and common to some with south-of-the-border roots. I’ve always loved re-fried beans at restaurants but I didn’t really know how to make them for a while, at least not how to make them delicious like this:

Keep in mind that we have a big family and this recipe makes a large casserole of re-fried beans. You may want to half the recipe because you will find that fresh, whole foods don’t keep long. It is my understanding that these keep for about 3 days in the fridge.

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5 cups of pinto beans– rinsed well in a colander (we buy the beans in 25 lb bags at Sam’s Club)

a pot– in which you could easily cook a whole chicken

enough water to cover beans- by several inches as they soak up A LOT of water

salt -to taste

garlic– garlic powder

onion- onion powder

bacon fatalways save your bacon fat– it adds free flavor and richness to many dishes and is not as unhealthy as you might think…Google it! But don’t leave it on the counter as fat goes rancid very quickly!…and you can’t tell by the taste! Freeze it in baby food jars or…anything, really.

jalapenos– Jarred and sliced nacho style from Sam’s club is what we use

 

Directions:

Put well rinsed beans in the pot with the water and salt (1 teaspoon to start). Bring to a quick boil. As soon as the water boils, remove from heat, put on lid and let sit for one hour. Then, simmer for about 4 hours. Keep checking after that because this is sooo variable and is different depending on the amount of beans, type of pot, stove, etc.

TIP: You can also put them in the crock-pot after the 1 hour sitting stage and leave them all day on low, but don’t forget…they need tons of water or you will come home to a dry mess.

Add more water if you see the beans are soaking the water down to bean level. When beans are tender, remove from heat. In a very large skillet heat up about 1/2 cup of bacon fat. Do not let the fat smoke. If it does, throw it out and clean the pan and heat up fresh fat as smoking fat is burnt fat and multiple sources say that is carcinogenic.

Scoop hot beans and broth into a blender jar filling about 1/3 full and quickly “pulse” beans to a creamy/chunky texture. If it won’t blend, add more broth, if it’s runny, add more beans. I’ve found that “pulse” is the best setting. Pour this into the hot bacon fat and blend remaining beans a little at a time until all is in the skillet except…in the last scoop of beans in the blender, add your jalapenos. I use about 10 (slices of jalapenos) and that makes it spicy…the way we like it. Finish seasoning (salt, garlic and onion powder) a little at a time until your family likes the flavor. While we use whole foods as often as possible, I do always use powdered garlic and onion for my re-fried beans because they blend better.

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Excellent “Spanish” Rice.

Cooked rice: enough for your family, but I’m giving directions for about 10-12 servings

1 small can of tomato paste: no water, just the paste

Coconut oil: 1/2 cup+ for frying the rice

Salt: to taste but I’d guess we use about 1 TBLS of sea salt

Chili powder: about 1-3 heaping tablespoons depending on your family’s tastes. We use about 2 heaping TBLS

Garlic and onion powder: go easy, we don’t use much in the rice, just a sprinkle

Directions: We make white long grain or brown rice according to package directions (enough for 10-12 servings) and then we lightly fry it in copious amounts (probably about 1/2 to 3/4 cup) of *coconut oil.

*Coconut oil has been proven to be very nutritious and an excellent source of healthy, necessary fat. Fat is what adds richness to all foods and fat is necessary for ALL organ function and should not be avoided. It is sugar that the body doesn’t process well (as it is unnatural in the “bagged” form we buy at the store) and coverts to fat making us overweight. It is not healthy sources of natural fat that put on the pounds!

Digression over…;)

Blend the salt, tomato paste and chili powder in while frying and stirring. If you need more moisture, add a little more coconut oil, NOT water. This is somewhat time consuming, I’ll be honest. Cooking from scratch always is. But it’s the healthiest, cheapest way to cook and is sooo worth it! Once it is all blended (about 5 minutes of constant stir-frying) you will have a healthy, rich, flavorful rice that goes perfect with the re-fried beans! You can even make nutritious burritos with just these two fillings. el pato for blog

We use canned “EL PATO Salsa de Jalapeno” sauce for salsa from the dollar store. A large can (27 oz) is only a buck and it’s surprisingly good! I know that this salsa is no doubt very high in sodium, but as an occasional topping, it’s not a health issue I’m concerned about. You just cannot beat the flavor for the price! A buck…woohoo! :) 

You will NOT feel deprived! Even better if you can add a little chopped green onion, sour cream, lettuce, etc. We will sometimes make up the burritos with the beans and rice and then quickly fry them in coconut oil to make chimichangas and add the cheese and toppings after!

Please…! Do not only TRY these recipes. I know that it is time-consuming. But WORK at it until you get a similar recipe that your family loves and a dinner routine that becomes doable because you have made it so!

Change is always hard and often traumatic. Start slow. How about this?…make re-fried beans a Friday commitment so that you always have them for the weekend. Once you are used to the work (and mess) of the re-fried beans (it does take half a day) and your family is used to adding them to meals (we eat them with eggs in the mornings as well!) start another food habit that is both cheap and nourishing. Like the rice…

Have a great day in spite of circumstances! With God, you can do it!

 

 

 

Cheap and easy face scrub & polish!

Cheap and easy face scrub…

If you are used to using retail face scrubs and/or exfoliate creams and/or expensive microdermabrasion systems and now need or want an easy, natural, chemical-free, cheap replacement…try this! It actually works better than any retail facial product I’ve tried. It doesn’t get any easier than this one ingredient homemade scrub! Baking soda (and water). This cheap face scrub is really more like a face polish. Baking soda is the only product you will ever need again for exfoliating or polishing your face. Don’t make your paste with a cleanser as I have seen recommended by some as this will strip the moisture from your skin and is NOT needed! Baking soda and water will remove all dirt, dead skin and excess oils without stripping the moisture.

Background:

Necessity TRULY is the Mother of Invention. There was a period of about 3 years where we had a very difficult time with our finances while my husband was really struggling to find work in construction after the Housing Bubble burst. Here in Arizona we were one of the hardest hit areas.

We really wanted to learn to live within the means God saw fit to bless us with at that time. And I know for certain that even though it didn’t feel like a blessing at the time, we always had food and a roof over our heads and THAT IS a great blessing when you look at the current suffering going on around the world. “Let us be sure to appreciate what we have here in America!”

Some of the great many things that I learned how to replace were my expensive facial products. After I ran out and could not buy more (if we wanted to eat and diaper the babies…:)) I really started to notice my face getting a rough texture and frankly, looking older. I’m not vain at all! I don’t even wear make-up, but I was disappointed to see yet another manifestation of suddenly being WAY below the poverty level. As we had been discovering that baking soda has tons of fantastic uses I decided to try it on my face. I didn’t think it was doing anything at first because it’s so soft feeling but when I rinsed my face it was smoother than my commercial face scrubs had EVER gotten it.

Directions:

What you want to do is dampen your face at the sink or in the shower and with a small scoop of some kind add enough baking soda to make a small handful in your palm. Then with your face already damp you simply massage it in to your “t” zone area in a circular motion. That would be: forehead, nose, cheeks and chin. Avoid eyes and lips! You may need to add a little water by getting your fingers damp or add a little more baking soda if it’s too wet. You want a paste consistency and it should feel soft. If it feels gritty and is not holding a shape that you can work with then it’s too wet. If it feels gritty and keeps flaking off and won’t stick to your face, it’s too dry. You’ll get the feel for the right texture after a time or two. It should feel soft, but be careful! It is taking off more layers than you would think possible and you can take off too much and “burn” your skin. If it starts to burn you are taking off too much and going beyond just the dead skin. You won’t believe what this can do!

I found that If I only used the baking soda 2-3 times per week and simply warm water daily in between, that I didn’t need my moisturizing face creams either. But again, I don’t wear make-up so I don’t need to clean that off at night which, of course, water won’t do. I have very average skin with dry patches and oily patches and a some areas of larger pores that the baking soda scrub also keeps polished down and free from blackheads which I could hardly believe because I had also had a cream to do that! I’m 41 years old and told all the time that I don’t look it and that has been with using this method of skin care for over 5 years now!

I still won’t buy commercial face scrubs or exfoliate creams when baking soda not only works better but is practically free per use when you are buying your baking soda in bulk from a membership warehouse store like we do. There are no product links here because obviously it’s cheaper to go to a warehouse store yourself than to have it shipped and I want to provide honest content that I would have been thrilled to discover when I was first in need of cheap, healthy alternatives! I hope you give this a try! Let me know if you have questions by commenting below.

Have a great day!

~Mrs Fitz from Back2Basics Home

Easy breakfasts for school mornings!

Welcome back to Back 2 Basics Home!

As you probably know by now, we have a large family. There’s 10 of us! We didn’t plan to have such a large family, God intervened and surprised us! But that’s a long story for another time. :)

What a joy children are. All 8 kids (4 by birth, 4 by adoption) get along beautifully and they’ve been together for many years now. So, with such a large family, you can imagine money and time are both very tight! With the cooler weather coming (it takes longer here in Arizona, but we’ve noticed it too!) hot breakfasts are nice before the kids run out of the door for school.

The problem for me is, a hot breakfast takes a lot of time and I already have to pack 5 lunches (I’ll post about that later!) each morning and get 4 school girl’s long hair combed and braided each morning, too. Goodness, I can’t get up at 4:00 am to get the kids off to school at 7:45! So in order to have time and money to do these things I had to get creative. If you would like some ideas for easy, inexpensive but nutritious breakfasts for school mornings here ya go, this is what we do! Try it and see if it works for you!

Breakfast #1

Bread-machine Banana Bread and Bacon

We have a fantastic *bread machine (that you can read about at the bottom if you’d like to know more about it). We use an awesome banana bread recipe we’ve adapted just for this machine but it will probably work in any machine with a CAKE setting or one with which you’ve done coffee cakes.

We dump the ingredients into the machine before we go to bed and the bread is warm and fresh when we wake up in the morning. Then we slice and butter it and serve it with pre-cooked bacon or sausage and milk and you have a warm, luscious breakfast that smells like heaven. This is probably my kids favorite breakfast. But because of the natural sugar in the banana and the added sugar and glycemic index of the wheat, you need to serve a protein with it such as sausage or bacon or it all turns to energy that burns up quickly and will leave the kids feeling empty and hungry before lunch time. Though keep in mind that this is much healthier than cold cereal which burns up much quicker than banana bread! Especially if you grind your own flour which is sooooo much healthier and the resulting high fiber, complex carbohydrates are used up more slowly than simple carbohydrates like store bought flour (which is truly just garbage). You can read more about that here: Why you NEED to grind your own flour!

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients for 2-lb. size bread maker on CAKE setting:

  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (one of the healthiest oils you can use and can now be found just about everywhere)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup “overly” ripe and mashed banana (bananas that you might think ready to throw out are perfect for banana bread!)
  • 2 scant cups fresh ground “hard white” wheat flour (or with much less nutrition, but if you can’t grind flour, use 2 full cups of store bought flour)
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. sea salt

Optional:

After batter stops mixing and starts cooking gently stir in:

  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

I adapted this recipe for my Zojirushi Virtuoso Home Bakery Supreme® Bread maker. Adjustments may or may not be required for baking this bread in other models. It makes a very dark loaf that looks like it might be burned but it is not, that’s the nature of bread machine banana bread.

 

Breakfast #2

Quiche or Breakfast Casserole

This is one is not as cheap but is a very reasonable expense for a whole family meal and very hearty and warm and delicious and a breakfast so good you can even make it for over-night company. Adjust for your families taste and size, but this is how we do it:

  • 15 eggs
  • 2  1/4 cups of water (you can use milk…but why? It just adds to the expense and you can replace milk with water in almost any recipe, including in baking, and no one in your family will ever notice! True!)
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 cups of grated cheese (any kind you like)
  • 1/4 of a brick of frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • ham lunch-meat slices (6-8 slices and is the cheapest quiche “meat” and very flavorful even though you don’t use much)

You can do this the night before but it whips up pretty quick as needed, just do it first thing because it takes awhile to bake. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Set aside a large, oiled casserole dish (9×13). In a large mixing bowl beat eggs along with water and salt and pepper to taste. Add grated cheese and *spinach and mix with a fork.

*Spinach looks nice and the kids can’t taste it and it adds good nutrition.

Pour half of mixture into the oiled casserole dish and lay down ham lunch-meat slices one slice thick covering most of surface. Add remaining egg mixture to cover meat. Cook until browned and completely set in the center, about 45 minutes depending on your casserole dish. If your dish is larger your quiche will be thinner and cook faster. If it’s smaller, the quiche will be thick and you will need to reduce the heat 15-20 degrees and cook longer.

Any dish will work really, just make adjustments. We will sometimes divide it into 2 pie plates with pie crust in the bottom to make it fancy. (To be honest I buy generic, ready made pie crusts from Wal-Mart because they are easy, cheap and perfect.)

You can add onions, mushrooms, peppers, green chiles, and on and on but usually small kids don’t like all the extras, right? Unless…my little ones are just weird? :) My older kids like it Mexican Style so sometimes we will add veggies to our half and eat it with salsa. This feeds our entire family for breakfast, so if you have a family half our size it will make 2 breakfasts for you! And it is easy to reheat in the same dish the next morning covered in aluminum foil so it doesn’t lose moisture.

 

Breakfast #3

I save this one one for my shortest mornings. Like on Thursday mornings when we have stayed late at church Wednesday night to hang out with our friends and let the kids play after service. I let the kids sleep in until the last minute the next morning.

Sausage along with instant oatmeal

Garbage, you say? Well, it may not be as bad as you think. We make our own sausage with ground beef and sausage seasoning that we buy from a local butcher/meat processor here in Arizona and you CAN do this too! Making your own is cheaper than buying ready-made sausage, even if you buy grass fed beef like we do (we buy 1/2 – 3/4 of a cow once per year through our co-op around tax refund time), and you are getting 100% real meat and no fillers, look into it! and then we make large batches.

We need 8 sausage patties on instant oatmeal mornings so we make 6-8 lbs of cooked patties once per month and freeze them in small batches of 8 patties each. I put one batch in the fridge the night before we plan to use them and pop them in the toaster oven the next morning as I am heating up the water for instant oatmeal and setting the table. We get the Wal-Mart generic instant oatmeal with several different flavors and the younger children get one packet and the older ones get 2 packets. For less than 2$ for 10 packets, it’s cheaper than cold cereal and its hot! Since we don’t drink soda at all and rarely eat store bought snacks or desserts, this is a small concession that they love and it becomes a very fast, cheap, hot breakfast once or twice per week. Plus…oats, even processed ones, are not GMO like the corn grains in most cold cereals!! Do a little research on GMO foods when you get a chance. You’ll change how you think and shop afterwards! If you’d like some guidance on where to get comprehensive info about that leave a comment and I’ll get you on track!

*Our bread machine is also a small, energy efficient oven that can cook many foods, not just breads, called the Zojirushi Virtuoso which we have for sale at the lowest price available, including free shipping at our family owned and operated store here in Arizona. Email us at fitzfunnyfarm@gmail.com to get purchase info through PayPal where we have had our merchant account for many years.

 

 

 

 

Easily make a sundress/jumper into a skirt!

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Welcome Back!

This is a cute, hot-pink sundress from Wal-Mart that my 2 year old daughter wore last year. I think I paid $5 bucks or less. This year it’s going to be a skirt. I know that sounds easy to some that have sewing experience, but for those who don’t know how exactly…this tutorial is for YOU!

FYI: I didn’t suddenly change table cloths, the first picture was taken a couple of weeks ago. Sorry! :) As you can see it has a stretchy elastic top and thin straps. Cut off the top directly above the armpit seams so that it is pretty straight across the top. Don’t worry about making it perfect! Look how wobbly mine is. I just eyeball it and cut with scissors or line the dress up on my “self-healing” mat and use my rotary blade to slice off the top.

Without stretching the fabric, fold down the cut edge toward the inside (about a finger tip width or so) and pin all the way around. Then fold it down again so the cut edge is wrapped inside the fold and again pinning to keep it still. Use the cute little colored lines to make sure you are keeping it pretty even all the way around. Now, use a zigzag stitch setting on your machine because you want to retain the elasticity in the waist and if you use a regular stitch it will prevent the fabric from stretching. If you do that, you have to put in a zipper or buttons to get it on and off and we want cheap and easy right? No zippers or buttons!

My sewing machine was cheap and is a great, simple machine that can do anything you need it too. I can even sew denim with this machine. Click below to see all the features and Amazon reviews which total 4.5 stars out of 5 with several hundred reviews!

So, using a zigzag stitch setting, and the large stitch size (on my machine its #4 on the grey dial) and matching thread, sew around the waist making sure you are catching the lower part of the fold so the cut edge can’t fall out later. Don’t worry about perfectly even stitches. No one is going to examine it and it won’t show anyway. I aim for speed, not perfection unless I’m sewing something that will have visible stitches like around the neck or on the shoulders. Then, I’m very careful to make them neat. Otherwise, I’d rather just hurry and move on to other things.

I’ve already stitched the lower edge of the fold, but just for security I’m sewing the top edge of the fold as well. You can see my zigzag stitches between the yellow and light green lines if you look close. Here, I’m completing my circuit between the yellow and pink lines. Here is the finished waist…

Let’s see if it fits without any further adjustment. Sometimes it really does!

 

Nope. You can see her diaper at the top as it sags almost to the ground. Alright, now we put in a couple of very quick and easy darts. To do this fairly accurately without measuring, this is what I do. Fold the skirt in half so that the front center (in this case the bow) is on a fold and the side seams are in the middle. Like this… Then about halfway between the back waist fold and the side seams put in two place holder pins one on each side like this… That marks where you will put in your darts.

Now, turn the skirt inside out and pinch out a portion of material on either side of one of the pins. If the skirt almost fits, then just pinch a little, like 1/4 inch or so. In my case the skirt was very big so I’m taking about 1/2 inch or so. Smooth out the fabric to make a pleat all the way down from the top of your dart.

Switch your stitch setting to regular and place the fold under the machine at the length you want to take in (where the tips of my fingers are above) at an angle so that after 3 or so inches the machine will run off of the fabric because you only want to pull in the waist, not the whole length of the skirt. It should look like this…See the angle of the presser foot? It will run off of the fabric in about 3 inches which is ideal. It doesn’t have to be exact!

Next, you will want to back-stitch to keep it from unraveling. Or you can leave some thread at the end and tie it in a knot but unless you are doing a fancy ladies skirt with very smooth material where back-stitching would leave a little lump, don’t worry about it. Just back-stitch and you are done with your first dart. See how I back-stitch inside the dart below? After I get to the edge, I back-stitch up and down a couple of times to secure the stitching.

 

Now do the same with the next dart.

 

Now, both darts are in and we can turn it right side out.

This is what the darts look like from the outside. Just two small seams at the waist that aren’t noticeable at all. Yeah! Front and back views. Thank you Summerleigh!

PS: I sit on an exercise ball instead of a chair for everything I do because I have a herniated disc in my lower back and can’t sit in chairs without pain. Try this out if you have a bad back or hips. My chiropractor told me about it and it has made a huge difference in how I feel when I’ve been sitting for a while. I don’t have any pain and can stand right up without stiffness. So I sew, work at my computer, eat at the table, everything on my exercise ball. I even found that I shift from side to side or bounce while I’m sitting and it’s been toning my waist as an added benefit. :)

Hope this helps you find cheap clothes for your girls. We do this all the time and save tons of money by re-using last year’s sundresses for skirts.

 

 

 

Cheap shoes for kids! For real!

 

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To be honest, we always find the money somehow for new shoes as I don’t think it is healthy for kid’s feet to wear worn shoes from the thrift store as the previous wearer might have had an uneven gait that will cause your growing child to walk uneven. You CAN get brand new shoes for a few bucks each by clicking below! The deals are usually fabulous, so if you check it out and aren’t finding fantastic deals keep checking back as they get new products in everyday and it will sometimes take me a few days of checking to find the smoking deals I need….It’s all about how you work the search! Make sure to pick either “girl” or “boy” shoes then pick the “size” then sort by “price: low to high”. You will come up with hundreds of shoes. If the lowest prices aren’t low enough try again every other day or so. We usually get Sketchers and Nike for our kids for the same price as Wal-Mart brand tennies, I promise.

I know we still live in a “Material World” but I have definitely seen a shifting in social consciousness. Times are changing and most people are feeling the economic pressure and are starting to shift their negative thoughts from those who shop at discount stores to those who are wasting money to ensure they and their children are the “best dressed” around. In the words of Dave Ramsey, “Live like no one else so later you can live like no one else.” Put those extra dollars into taking care of your family! Start a small emergency fund, get out of debt, or at least buy things that are more important than expensive clothes and shoes!

 

Mrs Fitz

Scratched CD’s? Easy fix!

 

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First let me tell you…”Thanks for being here!” I really do enjoy sharing some of the things that I have have learned over the years when we were really struggling financially and I hope this will also be a help!

A few years ago I discovered some of my favorite CD’s had become toys when I wasn’t looking (I do have 8 children:)) and were badly scratched. Not deep, just scuffed over every single inch. I tried to clean them up and played them to see what would happen. Well, you guessed it, they skipped and jittered and then finally froze up my CD player.

As I was thinking of my options (I paid good money for those CD’s back in the day) I got the idea to try to burn them onto my computer and see if I could salvage anything that way. Well, surprisingly to me, the computer did do better than the CD player and was able to save some tracks, but not very many. I finally thought I would have to throw them away as we didn’t have money for professional CD repair at that time and we had once had a home CD repair kit that didn’t work at all so I didn’t want to invest in another one of those. However, since I was going to throw them away anyway, I decided it couldn’t hurt to experiment a little. I remembered having glass shower doors that were clouded and etched by hard water damage that nothing could repair and I had tried lemon oil as a last ditch effort and while it didn’t repair the cloudy etching, it instantly cleared up the glass!…until it wore off and I had to do it again, about every other week.

Since I could potentially burn the CD onto my computer and make a new copy, I just had to get the computer to see behind the etching the kids had made on the surface and so I put 2 and 2 together and, what do you know? It worked! It’s tricky on how much lemon oil (in the furniture section for about $3.00 bucks if you don’t already have some) to leave on and how much to wipe off, but once you get it down, even a pretty badly scuffed CD can be copied onto your computer. Wipe in a circular motion with a soft rag and remove most, but not all, of the oil. If you wipe every bit off, it’s doesn’t clear up the CD. But if you leave too much on, it is too cloudy for the computer to see through. This trick doesn’t work with deep scratches that have damaged the information written on the CD, this is only for scuffed and lightly scratched discs. Here is a before and after of the same CD with one quick wipe with lemon oil…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can see my desk drawer handle reflected in a very clear CD after the oil. For some reason, CD players still can’t read well even after the oil but the computer can. I don’t know enough about computers to know why that is, but it’s been true for me with several different computers and CD players.

I know that these days people really don’t buy CD’s. We download onto MP3 players and store our music or audio books in online accounts, but most of us have a few favorites that are still only on CD and they don’t play so well anymore. This really does work! It may even work with other oils but I didn’t try any other kind so experiment at your own risk (though I don’t see why another kind of oil wouldn’t work).

I hope this has been a help to you! If you try this please comment and let me know how it worked! I would love to hear from you.

Cheap back-to-school clothes for girls!

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Welcome Back!

I have 6 girls…yes, it’s true!…and I love skirts and dresses! Not just because they are feminine and set girls apart from boys, which is biblical, but also because they are so easy and cheap to make. They can even be lengthened throughout the year with only an added ruffle at the bottom as the girls grow. I also love to buy (clearance/thrift store) or make sundresses/jumpers and then the next year, slice off the top and hem down the waist adding elastic to make a skirt. Even better!…is to find a nice dress or jumper at the thrift store that is stained or torn at the top and get it for next to nothing then slice off the top with a rotary cutter leaving enough room to make a waist and add elastic and….poof, a new skirt. I purchased my rotary cutter from Amazon (around $8 bucks) after searching around as it was the cheapest place to get it online and I have really enjoyed it. Click on the picture to check it out!
It makes cutting fabric so much easier! The fabric doesn’t move around nearly as much as with scissors, and if you also use a self-healing cutting mat like mine pictured below (also the cheapest online location I know of to buy it) you really don’t even have to pin the fabric. Click on the picture to check it out!
I just line it up on the measuring lines, hold it down where I want to slice with a yard stick and running along the edge of the yard stick….it’s done.

Summer is also a good time to buy the heavier, darker fall/winter skirts at thrift stores. The way I understand that thrift stores work is like this: When an item comes in it is coded by a certain color or number. The following week if it is still there it is discounted about 50% and the following week it is usually a buck. So while everyone else is still picking up summer clothes you grab the dollar fall/winter stuff and you have your daughters fall back-to-school clothes! You can pick up boys clothes this way too of course.

You can buy pre-made rolls of ruffle called “quilt binding” in several different colors and add that even with just a hand needle and thread to skirts or dresses that are getting too short throughout the year instead of buying new clothes. You can also buy a used item for a couple of bucks from the thrift store that has a pretty ruffle on it like a torn or stained bedspread and just remove the ruffle with a seam ripper. Last year I actually found a brand new eyelet-ruffled king-size bedskirt for $8.00 which had tons of wide ruffle on it. I still have tons left!

I’ve also made Pillow Case dresses (Google a how-to on that until I post one myself) out of beautiful Ralph Lauren pillow cases that I got for $3.50 on clearance at TJ Maxx. It was a pair so I made 2 dresses for that price. My 5 year old got one and I made a jumper out of the other for my 2 year old!! The binding on the bottom of the bigger jumper was already on the pillow cases. I added a wide edging on the toddler jumper for decoration…the buttons are for decoration too. The straps are ribbon and both jumpers are pull on/off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just learn to think of how you may be able to re-purpose any item that you see a smoking deal on but don’t buy it “just in case”. You’ll end up wasting money if you never do anything with it. Don’t throw away or even give away any articles of clothing that have nice buttons, straps, belts, ribbons, lace or ruffles. It only takes a few moments to remove these things with a nice seam ripper.

What you can do to make this less daunting is…find or make a large bag and leave a small pair of scissors and a good seam ripper in it and whenever you find articles of clothing that have items to salvage, toss them in the bag.

Now, keep your bag near the front door and when you are going to be in the car for a while, grab it! While you are just sitting in the car you can work on removing these valuable items. You can now re-use these items later and you didn’t sacrifice time needed for something else. I find it relaxing and when I do this at home I listen to audiobooks or music and I’m sometimes disappointed when I run out and my bag is empty :)

The one good thing about the myriad of clothing styles and trends these days is that no one thinks any differently about a traditional/vintage look than they do any other look. As a matter of fact, check out the current Ralph Lauren line for girls and some of the other “famous” clothing brands and you will see a lot of very girly- plaid, corduroy and floral dresses and skirts with an old-fashioned/vintage look.

If you are thinking of remaking a sundress into a skirt be sure to have with you the measurement of the length of skirt you will need + plus the amount needed to fold down a waist at the top (the width of your elastic X 3-to fold it in nicely) and add that to your length total so you can measure dresses you find at yard sales or thrift stores or summer clearances. See a pictorial how-to here.

My sewing machine!

I bought this machine (Click on the picture to check it out!) for around $80 bucks when my $400.00 machine finally gave out after 12 years of pretty regular use. To be honest, I don’t see any difference in ease or quality of sewing. It even has a one-step automatic buttonholer like my expensive one did. This machine works great, is so simple to thread and use and is very inexpensive with excellent Amazon reviews! Yes, it’s an investment and I know you’re financially strapped or you wouldn’t be reading this but a dependable sewing machine will provide years of money saving options and it will pay you back in just 1 clothes shopping season!

Sewing shirts, especially stretchy pull-on shirts, is more difficult and while I have made them before they are for an experienced seamstress and take more time than a skirt and time is exactly what I don’t have so I buy them on clearance. I’m already buying the summer clearance shirts with darker colors for fall back-to-school clothes. I just purchased about 10 for $2.33 each at Kohls! Because the summer clearances are short sleeved I buy several solid color, long sleeved tees to wear underneath. So each t-shirt is about $2-4 dollars and the long sleeved tees are about the same if you search, and when the cold weather is over, the long sleeved shirts get packed away and they still have the t-shirts for the rest of the school year. I do this same thing with the shirts for my boys, by the way!

I then buy medium weight denim each year from my favorite online fabric store which you should check out Fabric.com. Buy enough to get you over the free shipping minimum of around $30.00 (you can use the rest later, I promise) and then it works out to be cheaper than Wal-Mart per yard for your denim, especially if you can find an online coupon (Google “fabric.com coupon code”). Then I make each girl 3 simple denim skirts, because they go with any shirt I find a great deal on, and make a few other skirts for each girl from dollar table fabric at Wal-Mart.

The jean skirts are worn the most so they are usually too worn to be reused for school the next year so we turn those into play clothes later on. If your Wal-Mart doesn’t carry fabric…I am so sorry! :( Get a coupon from the newspaper or online for Joanns or your local, large craft/fabric store and find material that’s priced decently and then your coupon (usually 40% off) should work for the whole cut of that fabric.

Do you have an idea? Please share it in the comments section!

Have a great day!

 

 

 

Gingivitis? This toothpaste will amaze you!

Two in our family suffer with gingivitis. Though I’ve read that 80% of adults would test positive for it, most people don’t have it significantly enough to realize they have it. It can be miserable when flared up. I don’t truly know because it isn’t myself that suffers, but I can see the pain and discomfort in the family members that have this chronic condition.  It seems like when illness goes around or high stress situations pop up, you can get flare-ups that you have to keep on top of you WILL be hurting.

When we first were trying to combat it, we did some online research and found many comments that said only Listerine brand mouthwash can kill the gingivitis and not to use any generics or substitutions. So we did that, though it burns like fire…on a sensitive mouth especially! But it did help quite a bit. The problem was, it had to be used many times per day to keep it under control. That is nearly impossible. As soon as we would forget a time or two, it would flare up again causing discomfort when chewing.

One day, I was telling a friend about the ones who suffer with this and how frustrating and time consuming it is and she told me that her dentist had told them about a product called Closys. ~By the way, after our fantastic experience with it, I asked our dentist why they didn’t tell us about it before and turns out, they didn’t know about it themselves. Hmmmm.~ But thankfully!…my friend had a dentist that did and so she relayed the info to me. Click on the picture to check out other people’s reviews as well.

I immediately searched it out online and, though I found the product and tons of favorable reviews, no one really mentioned that it kills “Gingivitis”. I thought, well, it can’t hurt, and it might work better than Listerine, so I’ll give it a shot. I bought some of the toothpaste and the mouthwash. Turns out!…that the toothpaste is so awesome, you don’t even need the mouthwash! It has the same patented germ killer that the mouthwash does…in the toothpaste! The way it was described to me and seems to truly sum it all up is this: It’s like hand sanitizer for your mouth but without the burn! We all started using it! Additionally, Closys has less chemicals than regular toothpaste does and is sooo worth the expense.

Ever since we started using this toothpaste, there have been NO!…flare-ups. NONE! The whole family has noticed longer lasting fresh smelling breath, even the snorers who have a problem with fresh breath from mouth-breathing. And…cold sores and canker sores are gone in 24-48 hours instead of the typical week.

In spite of hard financial times, our family will never use any other toothpaste, and I am so grateful that my friend told me about it! So then I thought…what if other people don’t know and need this toothpaste? I should share this!…so…now I have. :) If you or anyone you care about has gingivitis, please share this post with them. Unless they already know about this product, they will thank you, I promise!

Have a great day!

 

Mrs Fitz

Mrs Fitz

I have a wonderful husband and 8 precious children: 4 of which were gifts to us through adoption and 4 were gifts to us through birth. We found ourselves struggling financially after the "housing crisis" in the southwest in '07 and had to find cheap, old fashioned alternatives to expensive, modern ways of doing things. Join us to see for yourself if what we discovered on our journey can help you!

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