Masks – to wear or not to wear

My husband and I have grocery shopped at Giant for over 10 years.  I have been grocery shopping at Giant before I met my husband, so probably around 20 years.  We have recently decided to not shop at Giant any more.  It has nothing to do with their coupon policy or their bonus card or even their gas rewards points that we have used and loved a great deal.

It has to do with their mask policy.  They have had signs up for six months stating that you must wear a mask while inside the store.  We wear a mask and do not have a problem with this policy, it is for the greater good of humanity.  We didn’t really have a huge problem with people not wearing masks, so long as they keep their distance.  Well they are not keeping their distance any more.  Not only that but the last time we shopped at Giant there were less people wearing masks than people who were not wearing them.  But what was very disappointing was a family who came in to shop. None of them wearing masks, but the adult male was open carrying a gun.  Which basically says to anyone who approaches him, if you tell me to put on a mask or tell me to leave, I will shoot you.

When my husband wrote to two corporate positions at Giant with concern of the fake mask policy because no one is enforcing the health and safety guidelines no response was given, neither positive, negative or even acknowledgement.

Unfortunately for Giant this has put such a bitter taste on where we feel safe to grocery shop that we are now rearranging our normal shopping habits.  We are now looking elsewhere to invest our hard earned money.  We are making a few furniture changes where we can get a small deep freezer.  In hopes that we are able to shop more bulk items at Costco which in turn will save us more money.  In addition Costco has taken the highly contractible and deadly covid-19 pandemic seriously, instead of as a political whimsy, which makes us even more secure in shopping at their facility.

RickabaughReviews approves of basic health and safety guidelines.

Air conditioning hack!

Yes, the central air unit went out again.  And no – no one has an a/c window unit for sale.  The first thing I did was get the air mattresses back out and sleep in the basement.  Is it comfortable? Certainly not, but I have to go to work every day so sleep is what I need.

It was over 90 degrees in the upstairs of the house, where the bedrooms and office are located.  I remember seeing somewhere on line probably about 10 years ago now, how to cool down on a budget.

Start with a Styrofoam cooler, we found some in the attic.

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Then I used a drywall knife.  You can use any serrated knife. I cut a hole in the side, but closer to to the top half of the box. It does not have to be perfectly circular to work.  Do not stress over this part of the project.

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I added some freezer packs to help keep the ice colder for as long as possible.

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I then added ice.  We used what the ice maker in the freezer made, plus some from the ice cube trays that I put in the other freezer previously.

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I used a few pallet boards to balance the fan face down onto the ice and turned the fan on low.  The fan pushes air over the ice. Cooling the air. The cooler air then escapes out the easiest route, the hole that you cut in the side of the cooler.

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The air that comes out of the box is not freezing, but it is much nicer than 90 degrees.

Because I used ice which melts it is very important that the hole that is cut into the box is not closer to the bottom. You don’t want water slowly leaking all over the floor.  In the morning I used the melted ice to water the plants.  This is not intended to be the fix all for air-conditioning.  It did help out until the new fan was put into the central air unit.

RickabaughReviews loves air-conditioning and the neighbor who fixes it for us.

Late July Gardening

It is that time of the summer, when the ferns are burnt, and the first flowers from the Hostas are all spent.

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We worked for about an hour last night trimming down and weeding out.  It has been so hot lately we have been watering and then doing inside chores.  The evenings are just getting cool enough to get some good work in.  I learned a few years ago that if I cut down the spent flowers from the Hostas most of them will grow new stalks of flowers later this summer.  My goal is to trim down and weed for about an hour a day after work from here on out until fall.

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Before photos of some of the Hosta stalks that get cut down. I cut them down for looks as well as for the bees and butterflies. I also trim the ferns to encourage new growth and for the looks.  The Daylilies at the back of the yard are spent for the year and I will be cutting them down for aesthetics. There are a few other types of flowers that I am trimming so that they will put out new flowers as well as the Hostas.  This type of flower is called “cut and come again”.  A few of these are the bee balm as well as the cone flowers. You can cut them in bloom and enjoy them inside but they will bloom again outside.

Roses are one of the more popular type of cut and come again flowers.  We do not bring flowers inside the house, my allergies are too bad for this.  We get to enjoy the colors and smells of them outside.  The blooms end up dying on the bush and that it why I call it deadheading.  I will “deadhead” the roses and they will send out more flowers. Depending on the type of rose bush.  There is one rose bush that only blooms once.  It is more of a trellis rose, and less like a bush. Deadheading is how we get continuous color all summer.

We did some yard work at the in-laws home this weekend. Mowing and I did a bit of trimming of some of the flowers.  I trimmed a bunch of dead branches out of their azalea as well as trimming down the stalks of a large Lilly they have. The Lilly had only one seed pod on it, yes I took the seed pod. When the Lily is this pretty you take the seed pod.

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We have also been looking lately for Peonies, I have heard rumors from more than one person that they attract ants.  Well If we can have all the ants in the yard going to the peonies instead of my veggies that would be wonderful.  I also trimmed off some of the seed pods from the Peonies at the in-laws home.

Another gem of an idea that we are going to try from one of their neighbors are some Rose of Sharon bushes.  They had them very nicely trimmed so that they acted as a taller hedge/ privacy fence for their yard.  They had a few different colors. We did a little research on price and tolerances. They come in many different colors, are reasonably priced and can grow around to 12 feet high in our climate. At 5 years they are at full height with growing about 20 inches each year.

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One change that we are currently working on is reducing the size of some of the flower beds.  The main one that we are working on is the side yard where the flower beds along the fence line are about four feet deep.  I have found it difficult to keep these nice because I am not able to easily weed the areas.  We would like to make them about 18 to 20 inches deep away from the fence, which means plants need to move.  This is a very hard and tedious task.  We then have to lay down grass seed.  And yes water the seed.  If we get really going on this project at this point in the year, the grass seed will take well before fall and grow in nearly perfect for next years mowing season.

I am trying a bit of experimenting with doing time lapse videos.  We are using a Wyze camera that we got for inside the home.  We are able to do time lapse videos because it has a memory card.  We worked for about 45 minutes and had the camera take a photo every 10 seconds.  Check out how much we can get done in 45 minutes, I wish all that weeding only took 20 seconds.

RickabaughReviews is enjoying the time lapse videos.

 

The Power of Two

Life and getting through it is pretty hard right now.  Also it’s such a busy time.  There may be some who are able to stay at home with kids and then there are other families that are working even harder because everyone else is able to stay home while covid-19 goes through everyone’s lives, changing almost everything we have ever known.  So while I am feeling completely overwhelmed with work and keeping everything as normal as possible, life steps in and says “Hey, here’s another monkey wrench.”

In the past I have felt overwhelmed trying to keep focused on my to-do lists. So in the past I have worked on each item on my list for 10 minutes.  Keeps it short and simple and helps to get everything done, just a bit more slowly.  In that aspect I am pulling out the “power of twos.”

I have wanted to file my nails for about two weeks now and do not find the time.  This morning quick before my shower i filed 2 nails.  Just two, tomorrow I will get two more.  I put away two blankets and two pillows that were out of place on the living room furniture.

My usual two items that I do every morning are laundry and dishes.  I also am trying to fit in cleaning all the ceiling fans as well as washing all the windows.  Well tonight instead of being overwhelmed with all the windows I am doing one of each.  A total of two each day.

In preparation of a parent moving in. I am cleaning out my craft room.  It can be a very daunting task, but each day I take two things out of the soon to be bedroom.  Today it was two bags of sand.  One in each hand came down to where all the frequently used craft items are going.  Two things off my list.

RickabaughReviews approves of making life less complicated.

 

Are you still gardening?

Places are opening up and places are shutting back down.  Does that mean you have stopped gardening? Or that you have stopped looking for great gardening deals?

With it being the dead of summer here in the states that does mean a few things, your plants probably need a little more TLC.  I have been going around to the plants checking on them watching for bug infestation.

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This is what the grape leaves look like with a bug problem. What I have seen around the damaged leaves are two types of beetles. So far the grapes that are growing every day have not been damaged by the beetles.

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Although I have watched them eating the blueberries. This is the type of beetle that I have seen in the past. It also devours all of the rose bushes.  The last two years they have stripped the one apple tree of all of its leaves. So this year when I started seeing damage I have been trying to drown a few in soapy water daily.  I tap them into a coffee can with a paint stick.  I have noticed that while I am only ridding my yard of a few beetles a day the apple trees, grapes and rose bushes have been better than in years past.

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Also recently I have been seeing a few of these lighter brown beetles around.

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The one bug I have heard about and have never seen in previous years are squash bugs.  I don’t know what they look like but I have found a bunch of bugs on my squash plants that look like this.

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The bugs we have the most problems with are aphids, ants and beetles.  I noticed an infestation of aphids on my newly planted apple tree yesterday. I have seen ants all over the tree for weeks, and would tap them off.  Are the ants eating the aphids or are they all working together to destroy my new tree?

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I water every morning and evening especially with the amount of heat that we have every day, unless it rains.

But what I noticed yesterday while shopping was the plant deals.  Its not a perfect time to transplant and a lot of the plants at stores that don’t specialize in plants, have a hard time keeping them alive.

Discounted plants is where it is at, in the dead of the summer.  I only recommend spending money on plants if you are willing to put in the time and effort.  Otherwise planting in the middle of summer might be a bit devastating for you. Financially and emotionally.

Make sure you are looking for plants that come back year after year.  Also make sure you are not buying a dead stick, which I have done in the past, then I just have to return it.  If you see green on the stems make sure the green goes the whole way down to the dirt.

I purchased some blackberry bushes earlier in the year and when I transplanted them, they all died.  It was very heart breaking, but stubborn me, I just kept watering them and sure enough all of them but one has shot off at the base of the plant a new little stem with leaves.

I try to give all my plants a fighting chance.  RickabaughReviews approves of discount plants and watering.

Selling handmade crafts.

Making handmade crafts and selling handmade crafts are two totally different beasts.  I find it relatively easy to make the crafts with the skills that I have acquired.  I thought selling them would be easy if I used the right platforms.  Esty for example specializes in handmade products.  I have sold a few but the shipping is out of this world expensive, and then you also have the problem if when it is shipped states away they open up your well packed item and it is broken.  I have only sold two items on etsy in two years, but there is a listing fee. So shipping my crafts has not proven to be profitable.

I have looked into going to a boutique to sell my hand made crafts.   The space was tiny. It was also $75 a month just to rent the 3 foot by 4 foot by 1 foot deep space.  I had to provide my own shelving/display.   On top of paying taxes to sell the items.  I also had to pay the location 20% of each item sold.  Outlandish.  A few friends of mine also thought it was a bit much.  Did not even attempt that route.

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In 2019 I did a small craft show, there was a few involved which was not much at all.  completely reasonable.  But there were a grand total of 20 visitors for the whole craft show.  I also only sold 2 items for $5.00 each.  So that panned out to be me paying $40 to sit at a table for 6 hours.  The best part was I had two amazing friends with me the whole time completely supportive.  I had been signed up for a really big craft show in a neighboring town, then Covid 19 hit and hit hard.  No more craft shows.

What has been working just a bit is facebook marketplace.  Those interested are local and that is great.  I have in the past sat at a location for two hours waiting for someone to show for something they wanted to purchase from me, and they end up being a no show no call.  It is very frustrating.  My husband and I have finally come to the conclusion that I offer really great product for really great prices.  If someone can grasp  the concept of a great deal then they usually have no problem driving to my house to pick up the item.

I need to look into listing my items in online local yard sale sites.  I have not done this yet.  I really need to find a little more time to list the items, that is the longest process, not making the items.

Until Covid 19 clears up I guess craft shows are out.  But RickabaughReviews knows selling crafts is far harder than it looks.

Infused oil as a moisturizer

I have been having fun making my gardening useful to me. I have been dehydrating mint and lavender and as I trim them, they grow more.  Which is wonderful until you run out of space for them.  I purchased a large container of coconut oil at Costco just a few years ago and I have really enjoyed using it as a moisturizer for my dry and itchy skin year round. I have a great deal of allergies to the stabilizers used in lotions and have struggled for many years with my hands swelling and breaking out in hives.

I have wanted to find additional ways to use the lavender besides in my tea.  I looked up how to infuse my coconut oil on Pintrest.  The process is super simple and only takes two to three days.

I used a pint mason jar and lid.  I trimmed the spearmint and peppermint fresh.

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I rinsed off the leaves, but have found through the process that next time I will end up patting them dry before popping them into the jar.

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The coconut oil that I have is a solid until about 74 degrees.  So in the air conditioned house it is a solid.  It needs to melt in order to infuse the mint into the coconut oil.  Simple fix was a candle warmer.

I scooped in coconut oil until the jar was filled to the shoulder.  The shoulder of the jar is the top of the jar before you get to the threads where you screw on the top.  So the very top 1/2 to 3/4 inches was not filled.

I noticed when I infused my lavender I did pack the jar tighter with flower tops then I did with the mint leaves.  Thus I got more coconut oil in the jar with the mint leaves and in turn more infused oil.

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I kept the jars of oil at a liquid state for two days.  Also I covered them with a black dish towel.  To keep the light out.  I gently shook the jars back and forth maybe 10 times, 3 times a day, for two days

After 2 days I strained the flower tops of the lavender out and after two days I strained the mint from the infused oil.

The infused oil has gone back to being more of a solid since I took them off the candle warmer.  It has a light fragrance added, not strong or over whelming.  Which is perfect for on my dry skin before bed every night.

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You can see the lavender infused oil on the left, I had started the lavender process one day before the mint infused oil on the right.  I took the photo directly after I had strained the mint infused oil while it was still warm and in a liquid state.

We purchased these cute 3 ounce containers to keep the oil in.  Easy to pass out to friends or sell at a craft fair.  I chose 3 ounce containers, the max that is allowed on a airplane.  Perfect for traveling.

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RickabaughReviews approves of infused oil.

Money saving tips I use in 2020

First of all, live within your means. Pay off your credit cards and get rid of them- the interest alone will break you. It is very hard in this society. But if you don’t have the cash for it-don’t buy it.  Also take care of the items that you have, be more gentle with life, control your emotions-don’t throw things – this is a big reason why humans go through so many items.

If it still works – you do not need to purchase a new one. Cell phones are the biggest culprit. Just because there is a new version doesn’t mean you need it. With our cell phone plan my phone was paid off in two years. I used that phone for a whole third year before getting a new one. The old cell phone still worked very well. I chose to donate my phone to someone who needed it. But in that year when the phone was paid off I saved 32 dollars a month. That 32 dollars a month went straight into savings.

Coupons-cut coupons! Coupons save a bunch! I save over $300 dollars a month in coupons. Every month. If its not on sale or doesn’t have a coupon it doesn’t get purchased for this household. We have learned that the key to a comfortable lifestyle is working hard and spending less.

Here is the key to using coupons- Don’t use a coupon just because you have it on that item.  Only purchase items you already have in your regular grocery list that you know you like, unless you are willing to try a different brand.  We will most of the time purchase the store brand.  It is cheaper and on most occasions tastes just as amazing!  I look for the overall best deal too.

There are free apps that you can download onto your cell phone that will give you money back for items that you purchased. Sometimes it can be a bit tricky about what items qualify and expiration dates of the digital coupons. Just keep at it. These are the apps that make a difference in our budget, the apps that make us money.

Savings Star – You can cash out after you have reached $20.00 in you account. We have been able to load our Giant card (local grocery store card) to the app and it is super easy when grocery shopping because I don’t need to scan my Giant grocery receipt when we get home. You are able to select other stores in which they have coupons available, but you will need to scan your receipt in. You do need to go into the app before you go shopping and select the items you intend on purchasing. Saving Star says that it can take up to 20 days for your rebates to show up in your account but I have usually only had to wait up to 3 days before I see my new account balance.  They also have a section where you can see each date and coupon you used.

Ibotta Sign up on your own, or with friends. Use my referral code:fvclxby to join as a friend.

For this app you do not need a referral code, but there are bonuses involved if you do.  When you are in a group there are group goals that everyone will benefit from if you achieve the goals- which is free money.  In the app you select a store and it will list the available items that have a rebate on them.  You need to activate the coupon first.  Don’t wait to activate your app coupons- sometimes they are such a hot deal the apps run out of the specific coupons. Next grocery shop.  When we get home we do our receipt scanning.

Checkout 51 is another free app that works the same way as Ibotta.  You active the coupons you want, shop, then scan your receipt when you get home.  Use my referral code to sign up- https://checkout51.app.link/7zHqWVfQUQ

Receipt Hog is an app where all I do is scan in every receipt.  It is a market research group, they are just interested in what you are purchasing so that the companies can better promote their products. Depending on what I am purchasing and how large of a purchase decides if I receive coins, or tickets or spins. Tickets are placed into a monthly drawing, I have never won in drawings and I don’t ever intend to. Spins are a bit different, they are like a slot machine.  They say you win 50% of the time.  Honestly its about 30% and I have only ever won the most of 10 coins but I like to think positive and I will take it.  It earns us free money.  Coins is where it matters! Hog Coins.  When you reach 1000 hog coins you can choose to cash out which equals $5.00 and they send it to your paypal account.  Paypal then sends it right into your bank account, with my usual spending I am able to receive $5.00 about every three months. I am feeding and caring for only my husband, dog and myself.  If you have kids I am very sure it would add up much more quickly.  Now $5.00 may not seem like a lot but I like to think positively and every little bit helps. Look at my results over a year- This is a free $20.00.

ReceiptPal is very similar to receipt hog in which you are able to scan in 99% of the receipts that you have for the house hold purchases. The difference is each receipt is worth 25 points. At 2000 points you are able to request a gift card of your choice or send it to your pay pal account. In the beginning of the year I would get gift cards to stores that I could easily stop by on the way home from work.  Switching jobs means switching tactics. I have more recently sent 90% of my app rewards to my paypal. I have actually found this to be more helpful in my spending habits.  I purchase less non needed items, and I have more money to add to my monthly budget in order to pay the car payment, the electric bill, the mortgage or put into special savings funds such as retirement or my gardening budget.

Fetch Rewards a free app that is similar to Receipt Hog.  Here is my referral code: B1RWH They are looking for specific items that you purchase, so the receipts that you can get credit for scanning are: grocery store, warehouse store (Sams, Costco) and purchases made inside of convenience stores (food and drinks from Sheetz, Turkey Hill-not gasoline).  You are able to cash out after 500 points which equals a $5.00 gift card.  They have a bunch of options of gift cards as well as sending them to your pay pal account.

trunow is a new app I started trying this year for gas rewards. It only accepts your fuel receipts. Also the hitch is that you have to earn “10 dollars” worth of rewards but you only get $5.00. The company keeps $5.00. I remain positive and I would have needed to spend the money on fuel either way because we need to go to work and we are unable to walk to work. I remind my self it is free money and don’t get discouraged. I like to think of it as 1000 points and I can get $5.00.

Sweat Coin my free app that tracks my steps outside of my home. Here is my referral code: sweatcoinapp.uk/i/jeanete891767  I am accumulating coins that can be traded in for items.  This app can earn you discounts on certain things but they also do crowd funding for causes such as planting trees and sending meals to needy families as well as their current funding for vaccinating children. My husband and I both have this app on our phones. So when we are raking the leaves in the yard we are earning sweat coins which can be traded in for items.  This is a slow earning free app, and the rewards change daily but I love the crowd funding. This app does track your location, and it will not track your steps if you close the app, I let it run in the background.  I have noticed when I took the battery saver mode off that my battery does wear down a bit more quickly (I always travel with my charge cord so I can charge while driving or at work or at home while sleeping.) but I am earning about double the steps with the battery saver off.

Facebook Market place– If you have facebook this is a great way to reduce the extras you have. We sell our spare items on market place for very low prices. It helps us reduce and helps out someone else who needs the item but can not necessarily afford brand new.  When my husband and I got together we were both established adults living on our own.  So when we combined households yes we had two vacuums, two irons, two ironing boards, two dining room tables, four couches and two very comfortable lounge chairs. Not including pots, pans and bedding for days.  All in relatively great shape.  The couches we ended up donating to the Salvation Army because they would come and remove them from your home. Market place is amazing, we have de-cluttered and we like to put the spare couple of dollars into savings for a vacation.  I like to think of it as having a yard sale every day at your house but you don’t have to drag everything out and sit outside all day. I have a few things on market place at all times and so does my husband.  It is harder for me now with my new job where we are not allowed to have cell phones at all but we have been slowly switching everything to my husbands account because he works from home and has a bit more flexibility to meet someone at the front door when ever they are available to come and pick up a spare cabinet or chair or microwave.

Make my own clothes– I have seen this on other websites and to be honest, it is so hard!!! But I have figured out a few simple things that I can handle. I have been crocheting some ponchos, are they the most beautiful most stylish of all times- goodness no.  But I have been using up spare yarn that people have been giving me for the last 20 years and I have increased my wardrobe selection. I also have been handed down a bunch of material and we are talking from the 40’s and to current times. So I find big peices and make circle skirts super easy by cutting out the middle making sure I can get it over my hips and then hand sewing in elastic around the waist. I don’t make it even at the bottom. I fold a big square in half and in half again and then snip out the place where my body goes through in a little circle. the skirt is nice and full and flowing and all different lengths. You can’t tell if I messed up at all, some of them I don’t even hem any more, the material doesn’t fray and its kind of fashionable. So I increase my wardrobe with clothes made specifically for me, by me.

Shop Kick This has become my family’s favorite app! It is our fastest money maker! And the most fun.  Here is my referral code: Best029650   How it works: its like a scavenger hunt in the stores you usually go to while you are shopping. You earn kicks(points, coins, credits, kicks) for finding items in the store and scanning their bar codes. They have tons of different stores.  We shop regularly at target, giant, best buy. Some stores offer walk in kicks.  Some stores offer kicks not only if you scan it but if you purchase an item on the list. This is where you can get tons of kicks but I personally only purchase items that were on my list to begin with. My husband works from home so about 2-3 times a week we like to go out, we go to stores and scan kicks. We both have the app on our phones.  We are both scanning at the same time. This means we are making double the amount, while getting some exercise by walking around stores. You are able to cash out very quickly they have low amount gift cards of $2. You are able to get the earned money sent right to your paypal account but yes of course you guessed it my husband and I get target gift cards. Last month both my husband and I were able to each earn $20.00 in gift cards-yes for scanning bar codes- not purchasing a thing.  And we did it at our convenience. Yes that is $40.00 of free groceries.  Or a free pair of shoes!

Swagbucks this free app both my husband and I have been using for over a year now and its great! How I use this app daily. I do not need it open for a whole lot of time. At 500 swagbucks I am able to redeem them for a gift card. The really nice part about these gift cards is that they send you a bar code not an actual card through the mail.  I personally activate my gift card and then I take a screen shot of the gift card on my phone and that way when checking out I can quickly go through my photos and pull up the bar codes for the cashier to scan, I am able to swipe from one gift card to the next very easily, and this way I am not logging into 5 different apps while holding up the check out line.  When I use the gift card I delete the photo,  It’s also excellent for when I hit the grocery store on my way home from work.  I text the husband and ask him if there is anything else I need on the list and usually he volunteers his earned gift cards by texting me the photos of his gift card bar codes. Getting on the same money saving page with my husband has really helped our communication in our budget and marriage.  Swagbucks offers a multitude of different ways to earn money. I personally do the daily poll. It is one question and earns me one swagbuck every day as long as I remember to take the daily poll.  They also offer other survey’s that take longer, but sometimes I will be working on a survey for 10 minutes and then I don’t qualify for the survey pay out and so I tend not to do a whole lot of survey’s. The survey profile questions are easy and quick so I tend to keep up on those, after answering 10 questions you receive 2 swagbucks.   this will eat up your data. I set my phone to watching the videos while charging and on wifi. So about every 2 months I earn a $5.00 gift card.  I forget sometimes on the weekends so I round it to about every two months. Between my husband and myself we are earning $5.00 free every month. When I use gift cards to pay for our groceries it also frees up money so that when a friends birthday rolls around I am able to send a card and sometimes a cute gift and it will not break our budget.

Costco – I pay $65.00 membership fee to shop any and every day of the week at Costco.  We get really great prices on our basic necessities.  Our dog food, the dog is allergic to corn, German shepherd mix, shes a big dog and eats a lot of food.  Grain free is not cheap – Kirkland brand 35 pounds, for just under $30.00, and there is a more cost effective turkey flavor but we get her the beef flavor because she likes it more.  We also like to buy in bulk – Tissues, paper towels, toilet paper, soap, laundry detergent, dish washer detergent Kirkland brand is a HUGE discount compared to the local grocery store. The other two items that saves a great deal of money at coscto are rice and honey.  I put honey in my coffee every morning to assist with my allergies, which it does.  Also a 25 pound bag of jasmine rice is under $20.  25 pounds of rice would last us close to 9 months with just the two of us eating it but we have some friends who have fallen in love with the rice we get and we split the bag whenever we get rice.  So we basically have three gallon zip lock bags of rice on hand at all times.  We lived closer to the Costco before we moved but I don’t mind the 30 minute drive. I have been taking my friend with me and she hands me cash and we split the purchases, saves her money and time and we get a bit of quality time in.  We are both super frugal so its really nice chatting about how we are each saving money and doing well. 

RickabaughReviews approves of saving money!!

Making essential oils while living with no air conditioning

Living with no air conditioning this summer has not been easy.  Especially with my allergies.   I am pretty lucky though I get to drive in my air conditioned vehicle to work where it is air conditioned.  My husband on the other hand has his office on the second floor and with the computer and 3D printer running quite often, it is the hottest room in the house.

The air conditioning works sort of.  It doesn’t really keep the whole house cool and it over heats and then freezes over and then we have to shut it off and then it leaks a bunch of water all over the basement.  So the air conditioning does not work, but we have a really good neighbor who does HVAC for a living and is going to look into fixing it for us.

Last night we slept in the unfinished basement where it was a balmy 72 degrees Fahrenheit. compared to the 88 degrees up in the bedroom.   We have air mattresses, I slept better than I have in the last three weeks and my husband did not sleep well at all.  He is not great with the air mattresses.

There are a few upsides to having a very warm upstairs.  Okay so far I can only think of one.  I made lavender essential oils for the first time yesterday.  It took 3 hours and a great deal of lavender, but I have plenty of the latter.

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I have coconut oil that is a solid but at 74 degrees F it turns into a solid.  I wasn’t sure how I would get my oil to stay as a liquid long enough to make the oil without boiling it.  Oddly enough the coconut oil was already melted in the master bath.  It’s 88 degrees.  So I just have it in the master bath.  I have a few ideas of how I might use it when I get some cheese cloth to strain it.  But for now It gets shook every 8 hours for a few days.

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I know a few friends who make goat milk soap and use lavender oil so I thought about chatting with them about how else I could use it other than a moisturizer for my hair and skin.

I also would like to make mint essential oil.  One because I have a lot of mint, and two because it would be such a cooling & relaxing moisturizer.

When I got home from work today I shook the lavender oil and then opened the lid and tried a dab on my face on a dry spot next to my eyebrow.  Worked just like it did before, but also smelled extra nice with the hint a lavender.

Tomorrow should tell if we have mint oil infusing. Until then RickabaughReviews approves of simple recipes.

 

 

 

 

Gardening in June of 2020

It is very hard to work full time, part time and try to homestead as well.  We have made many orchard type additions this year to our little patch of land.  We have a total of 6 blueberry bushes in one of the flower beds, now known as the blueberry patch.  I have 4 different varieties.  I have four very small twigs- which are very affordable.  $10.00 a piece, but you have to be in it for the long haul.  The will probably not produce for at least another two years.  Then I splurged one day and got 2 full grown- already with a ton of blueberries loaded onto the bush.  At $27.00 a piece and with how well they are doing it was a great investment.  Unfortunately the two full grown blackberry bushes that also had berries and flowers on them and were purchased at the same time for the same price are completely dead.  With the whole virus lock down I am not sure if the nursery I got them at will accept them back.  I need just an hour to do a little research.

We visited my brother and his wife and switched flowers for starts and seeds.  I gave her lillies and cone flowers and spider wort and bee balm.  And she gave me loofah seeds, thyme, raspberry starts and sour dough starter along with much more.  Only one of the raspberry starts survived.  So the new berry patch is not doing the greatest, but there are other plants that are doing great this year.  such as my lavender.  It is going crazy!!!  I cut and dry at least once a week if not twice a week  and we are not talking one little tray.  For example, yesterday I nipped off one tenth of the flowers and it was 4 trays of just lavender tops drying.  Great for in soaps and sachets.  I have been giving some to the neighbors and they love it.

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Two years ago we moved to our current house and it had 4 fruit trees already semi-established.  What I mean by semi established, is that they were several years old when they were first planted , and have been in their current spot for several years now.  Our first summer we got zero fruit from any of the trees.  My husband said if they don’t produce net year they all get chopped down.  Thank goodness for the pear tree on the end.  Last year it gave us five pears.  I did a bunch of trimming, several times the last two years, the four trees were very large and not trimmed.  Since I really wanted more fruit trees I took the time to get some education. This included watching a few videos of how to prune to increase possibility of fruit.  What we didn’t know was that my random tree trimming actually gave them all a chance.  There is a trick to trimming fruit trees so that they produce more the next year.  It is not an instantaneous type of project.  You have to be able to have and enjoy the long game.  This spring the husband and I worked hard on trimming according to what we had learned.  When you find a sucker (a branch that shoots straight up) go to the bunch of leaves and count three leaves up and then trim.  We have a total of 13 pears on the one tree.

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None have been found on the other pear tree this year but I am hopeful for next year because there was three bunches of flowers on it this past flowering season.  I did some research on the two apple trees – of course they will not produce with each other, they are the same type of apple tree and this particular type of apple tree needs a third party pollinator.  So I have been trimming them accordingly and we purchased three fruit tree babies this year.  A golden delicious apple which is a self pollinator as well as a well know third party pollinator.  The baby trees that we purchased are about three to four feet tall right now and are doing great.  We are being very realistic and knowing that it might not be next year that we will get flowers on the baby apple to cross pollinate with the two other well established apple trees, it might be the year after.  All we can do it keep everybody in good shape and hope for the best.

With our three new fruit tree babies we are doing an apple, a bing cherry and a dwarf peach.  It was also suggested that we try the Espalier style of growth and care.  We love the concept and have already have all three on wires.  We have read that this style of growth and trimming is very time consuming.  From what we were dreading it would be hours every day.  It is not!  Yes I spend thirty minutes watering every single new fruit that we planted this year twice a day if it does not rain, but I expected that going in.  We have spent maybe three hours every other Saturday specifically on the fruit trees.

Today I spent a total of an hour trimming down a good bit of the four established trees, the only reason it took so long is because they are not Espalier style where I can reach them all well.  I have to pull one branch down at a time basically fighting it while I trim with the other hand and then step back see which branch I trimmed and then get a game plan for the net branch go in grab it and try to pull it down with out snapping it.  But within that hour I got two full armloads of suckers cut off.  Hopefully next year we will get some fruit on those little fruit shoots I just prepped.

The beets this year have not done that well, nor the bell peppers or lettuce, but the aphids have not been too awful and now that the sugar snap peas are producing I have been able to pick a few every morning.

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We have been getting one or two blueberries as well as a few strawberries.  The sage and oregano have tripled in size this year.  The spearmint and peppermint have gone gang busters jumping out of their small enclosure.  I have been able to dry so much mint this year that I ran out of room in the quart jar I use, its now in a paper bag, and I should probably cut some down tomorrow.

The Elephant Ears as well as the Hostas are perfect for concrete casting right now but with all craft shows canceled for the time being I am slightly hesitant to spend money and time on casting leaves right now, I will have to see how busy our weekends get as places start to open up.

Spending time on Gardening, RickabaughReviews approves.  I really have been taking advantage of the Covid slow down and have been enjoying putting my gardening goals into action.