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Posts Tagged ‘Home Life’

  1. Project Time

    June 2, 2016 by admin

    Use this chart for getting your wooden projects to measure out correctly.  Very handy, if you’ve forgotten most of what they taught you in Woodshop class in junior high:


  2. Fire Pit!

    August 2, 2015 by admin

    IMG_1722This TRFamily loves a cozy fire crackling in a fireplace on just about any evening of the year.

    It has been too long since we’ve had a house with a fireplace or property well suited for a fire-pit.  But the wait has finally ended!

    After some quick research on reviews and a few days of best-price hunting, we picked up a very affordable fire-pit from our local chain, Farm&Fleet.

    It required some simple assembly that took about 20 minutes to complete from start to finish.IMG_1590

    Tip1: Be careful of the size of the bowl you are considering when researching what might work best for you. Your bargain find may have a very small burning surface which doesn’t work out well. We went with a 30 inch fire bowl and couldn’t be happier!

    We are fortunate to have a cement slab “deck” area in our backyard that is perfect for safely positioning a fire-pit. Make sure you consider the placement of your pit carefully and have access to the usual fire safety tools.

    TRDad spent a good amount of time discussing proper fire building with our young Bluey.  TRDad also made sure that Bluey understood that you must respect your fire and use great caution while stoking or minding it.  They gathered up kindling and before long, our first fire was burning bright.

    Tip2: Keep the makings for S’mores tucked away in your pantry.  The ingredients are super cheap and the enjoyment is guaranteed.  You can even find vegetarian marshmallows at most specialty stores and coops.

    A fire-pit is a great addition to a backyard.  But it does require a full commitment to safety.  Your home, neighbors, pets, and children are very susceptible to injury from an unattended fire.  But with the properattention and tools, you’ll enjoy it for years to come!!

  3. Shop Local

    July 27, 2015 by admin

    IMG_1508We recently had the unfortunate experience of discovering that our dryer wasn’t heating up at all during any selected cycle.  Our clothes were wet and cold when the finish bell sounded.  And since we aren’t interested in purchasing a new dryer at this point, we needed to figure out if it could be fixed.

    *Our home came with a 1 year home warranty which covers all the major appliances.  We will discuss this home warranty soon, but for now we’ll just let you know this repair route hit a dead end.

    Our internet research indicated that our dryer’s symptoms were pretty common and could be repaired. TRDad doesn’t have a lot of experience just yet on fixing appliances.  He and Bluey did some exploratory poking around the machine but came up short.  We were going to have to locate a repairman.

    We knew that the big chains, like Sears, had repair services.  But we were a little wary of price and convenience.  Our trials on getting the dryer repair set up through our home warranty had left us stranded on Saturday and our clothes were piling up.  We turned to Google and crossed our fingers.

    Luck smiled upon us and we located Gary’s Appliance Repair.  We had little to go on as this business had no homepage and only a few simple online reviews.  But one phone call had Gary heading to our home.  He arrived within 30 minutes of our initial contact!

    Gary rolled into our driveway in a very old mini van.  He looked to be on the tail end of sixty, had suspenders attached to his work pants, and was very friendly.  Gary didn’t mind our pets or our inquisitive and talkative Bluey.  He hummed a little tune as he got right to work on our dryer, quickly identifying the issue.IMG_1511

    No more than 30 minutes from Gary’s arrival, our dryer was repaired.  Since Gary was so friendly, TRDad now has a much better understanding of how to go about fixing the dryer in the future.  And Gary’s invoice was incredibly reasonable- no emergency weekend fee involved!

    We highly recommend Gary’s Appliance Repair if you live in our area.

    Do you typically reach out to locally owned and operated services or do you go right to the national chains?

  4. Let The Sun Shine

    July 21, 2015 by admin

    IMG_3141Our new, sun-filled yard has allowed us to rediscover the joys of sun tea- and pass this pleasure on to our kiddos.

    Spending most of the day flooded in sunshine, our backyard is the perfect place for making sun tea!  You can make sun tea in any large glass jar- a throughly washed pickle or olive jar can work quite well.  But we picked up a sun tea jar at our favorite grocery for a few bucks – and it includes a dispenser tap at the bottom.  This way even our youngest can pour himself a glass of tea without difficulty.

    The recipe is simple: fill you jar with cold water and add a few bags of tea.  We use five with our approximately half-gallon jar.  Use more if you like a stronger tea.   You may find different tea flavors require different strengths to turn out the way you like.  Let the tea sit in a bright part of your yard for most of the day- the longer it sits there the stronger it gets.

    Tip:  If it gets too strong, you can water it down with water or ice cubes when you drink it.

    We keep our tea in the fridge and it cools down quickly to just the right temperature.  Add ice as desired.

    Our youngest loves watching the tea darken during the day, and particularly enjoys sampling the fruit flavored teas.  Try it out and find your favorite flavor!

  5. Hip To Clips

    June 22, 2015 by admin

    1-1232906989AtaJOur cupboards have numerous opened bags of chips, cookies, crackers, and nuts.  It is an epidemic of partially consumed snack foods that typically turn stale before anyone finishes an entire bag.  We favor Ball jars for a lot of snack foods, like nuts, some crackers, and cookies.  But chips just don’t work well in our glass Ball containers.

    We tried rubber bands to keep bags closed.  And it worked for a while.  But the kids tend to struggle with the bands or flat out refuse to use them after getting painfully snapped on occasion.  (Also, loose rubber bands in our house present a health hazard for our cats who will try to eat anything they can get their little claws upon.)

    The big clips labeled for chips in most box stores just don’t last long and they tend to slide off the bag.

    And then we discovered binder clips- regular office grade binder clips.  A box of 12 large binder clips cost around $3.50.  Compare that to a decorative selection of “chip” clips priced around $7 for just 10 clips.  Binder clips are definitely the frugal choice.  And binder clips stay put in place!IMG_3162

    Tip1:  Your unused binder clips can be stored right on the shelf where your chips are housed.  Just clip over the shelf and fold back the arms.  So not only do they work well, but they are always on hand!

    They even come in fancy colors (though that typically raises the price) and an assortment of sizes.

    Tip2: The smaller sized clips are perfect for bags of frozen vegetables stocked in the freezer!

    What are your food storage life hacks?

  6. Home Sweet Home

    June 14, 2015 by admin

    modrnbunglow_22190_mdWe own a home!

    It’s true.  This TR family has completed our home purchase and will soon be completely moved into a house of our very own.

    At first glance you may not consider this to be the most frugal decision.  Buying a home is a huge expense, but home ownership is actually a significant part of our journey towards controlling our expenses.

    It is easy to miss the mark on this goal and end up overextending your budget.  But if you are careful and do your research, you can indeed save money every month by buying a house.  There are many online calculators that will help you begin to determine how much house you can afford.  Be careful!  The principal and interest mortgage payment is just the start of the true monthly cost.  You should also factor in taxes and insurance (Get online estimates or help from a mortgage professional to estimate these costs in your area).  Now you will have a better idea of your base per month cost of owning a home.

    Of course, utilities and repairs also factor into the bottom line.  In most areas, you can get a history of a properties average heating and electric costs from the power utility.  You can also get estimates for costs of water, sewer or sanitation costs from your local municipal offices.  Make sure you are using all of these figures to calculate a realistic budget for yourself.

    Now that you’ve identified what you can afford, begin to seek out any assistance your city or state might offer.  We are lucky to live in an area that has many resources for home owner assistance in the form of grants or forgivable loans.  These resources are available at local state and federal levels, depending on your income, family-size, veteran status, etc.  You may also have opportunities to work with Community Development organizations that will allow you to purchase on land contract or at well below market values.  Do your research!

    Work closely with a trusted mortgage originator to talk you through the pros and cons of different mortgage loans: FHA vs Veterans vs Standard, etc.  You may or may not qualify for numerous types of mortgages that could have different impacts of what you can afford, or are allowed, to purchase.

    We are very fortunate to be saving over $300 dollars every month by purchasing our own home and we couldn’t be more excited to dive into the numerous (and never ending) home repairs/remodels/maintenance.

    Tip: Put a portion of your savings into a “home” account for future expenses so that you aren’t hit hard by an unexpected repair.

    If you think home ownership is out of your reach, we encourage you to take a second look..

  7. Things We Don’t Need Anymore

    March 8, 2013 by admin

    Is it time to simplify your kitchen?

    Too many kitchen items are sold for “conveniences” and as “time savers,” but mostly what they do is create a further separation between you and your food.  If your goals include serving healthy and delicious meals, you need more time in the kitchen, not less.  And you need to be more hands on with your food.

    Consider selling, giving away, or up-cycling some of your gadgets:

    The Microwave:  We ditched our nuke oven almost ten years ago, and we haven’t looked back.  Whether you need to reheat left-overs, or make a meal, there’s nothing your microwave can do that you can’t accomplish as easily on the stove or in a standard oven.  Why deal with food that is Napalm hot in some sections and ice cold in other areas?  Or why eat those ‘instant’ meals that are filled with preservatives and other strange chemicals?  Lose the microwave!  You don’t need it.IMG_1613

    The Popcorn Popper:  Maybe you already tossed your old air popper in favor of the microwave, but you don’t need a special tool to make popcorn.  We use a small saucepan (with a lid!!) and cook our popcorn on the stovetop.  It only takes about two minutes, and you get the joy of watching the kernels explode.  We like to make bets on which corn kernel will go first.

    The Bread Machine: These were all the rage at one point, so one found its way into our kitchen.  But even our top-of-the-line bread machine was hard to clean, unreliable, and didn’t make nearly as good a loaf of bread as we could make by hand.  Making bread by hand is easy, fun, and fills the house with great smells.

    Lots of Little Tools:  Our drawers were bulging at one point with little hand held gadgets.  We tossed most of them and now we barely remember why we had them in the first place.  We owned a garlic press?  I guess so.  Now we use the side of a chef’s knife, or a small cheese grater.  The egg-separator?  In the time it took to dig it out of the drawer, you could crack and separate the eggs with your bare hands, and wash up afterwards.  The avocado slicer?  We use a knife now.

    Like clothing, anything in your kitchen that you haven’t used in a year should be recycled.  And any device that does only one task isn’t worth your time.  Simplify your kitchen and your life.