Monday, July 18, 2011

De-cluttering... still...

The de-cluttering is still under way. It really is a BIG task and it’s SO easy to get distracted, procrastinate or simply find something else to do... anything else! The major motivation though, is that I know it will be so much easier to keep the house tidy once all the superfluous stuff is gone. The other motivation is that clearing out the unnecessary means  there'll be more room available for the important stuff; like pantry supplies and other stockpile items.

There’s even a chance my life in general might be a bit more orderly, too! At least that’s what the experts say. I could certainly do with a good dose of ‘orderly’!!!

Here's the next project: One of my bookcases.
Stay tuned for the 'after' picture...

The next choice is: donate the items worth donating or try to recoup some money by selling them on eBay or a garage (yard) sale. I’m not exactly sure which way to go yet so the ‘good’ stuff is being boxed up. The less than ‘good’ stuff is being donated immediately and the junk is going out in the garbage.

The big trick will be making sure we don't end up in the same situation in a year's time!

Friday, July 15, 2011


Self-reliance is about finding ways to live life without always looking to outside sources for what you need. I prefer the term self-reliance to self-sufficiency because it really is impractical to be truly self-sufficient. Not many of us are in the position to provide for ALL of our needs. It’s one thing to make your own laundry powder but can you also produce the raw ingredients to make that product? Probably not, but in order to be self-sufficient, that’s what you’d need to do.

However, by purchasing the raw ingredients I can make my own laundry powder and not only cut out the  extra ‘nasties’ in the ingredient list but also the corporate layer that makes the most profit from the laundry powder. Meaning it costs me a whole lot less. Less money going into the coffers of the corporate world means more money in mine. Making your own laundry powder is just one example of how being self-reliant can also save you money.

When you choose to use your own time and skills to provide for your family, you’ll save more money and experience a greater sense of accomplishment.  And, it’s not rocket science. Often the most important skill you need to begin your self-reliance journey is the willingness to ‘give it a go’.

Each success; yeast doughnuts from scratch or a plant grown from cutting or seed builds your confidence. Each task you accomplish enables you to take greater control of your money and your life.

The important thing to remember is that being self-reliant takes time and not everyone has a lot, so choose one thing that you believe you can do for yourself, do it regularly and then build on that. That’s what ‘Patchwork Economics’ is all about, finding small changes you can make so you can create a new financial fabric for your life.

Here’s the recipe I use for home-made laundry powder.

Laundry Powder Recipe
4 cups grated laundry soap (Velvet) or homemade soap
2 cups borax
2 cups washing soda

Mix all ingredients together.
Use just two tablespoons of this powder for each wash. Suitable for both top and front loading machines as this mix is low suds.
I use my kitchen whiz to grate the soap and mix the ingredients – quick and easy.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Learning to Love Legumes

If you’re like me, your stockpile contains an assortment of dried beans. It’s easy to see why, they are cheap, easy to store and nutritious. Trouble is, they’ll go to waste if you don’t actually eat them!

Which is a timely reminder of the number one rule of stockpiling: Only store what you normally eat. There’s no point in stockpiling either dried beans or tins of baked beans if you don’t like them and/or don’t normally eat them.

So, if you’re new to legumes (beans) then now is a great time to learn to love them. Start small and work your way up. Don’t try to get your family to eat beans for breakfast, lunch and dinner right from the start. Try adding small amounts of beans to meals you already make, then as your family becomes accustomed to them, you can get a little more adventurous.

Beans are the friend of the frugalista because they are also a great filler for a variety of dishes, for example, you can super charge a basic vegetable soup by adding beans or you can flesh out a meat dish like lasagne by adding red lentils to the meat sauce. These are frugal ways of increasing the volume of the dish for very little cost.

Are beans a big part of your diet? Do you have a favourite bean based recipe? 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Energy Audit

Energy is a commodity very much on everyone’s mind; between the proposed pricing of carbon emissions and the ever increasing cost of all forms of energy, we’re facing an ongoing challenge paying for our high energy lifestyles.

One thing we can be sure of is that the price of all fossil fuel based energy will get more expensive. Even if there’s no ‘carbon tax’, if the form of energy we rely on requires oil as an input, it will get more expensive as the competition for oil supplies heats up.

So, what are our options? Well, unless you’re in a position to put a photovoltaic array on your roof, (which I’m not) then you’re going to have to learn to live with a lot less electricity.

I’ve kept an eye on my electricity use (Kilowatt Hours not $$) for a number of years and for most of that time, it’s averaged around 7 kilowatt hours per day. It has recently climbed to a little over 8 per day. The time has come to find out where the ‘leak’ is and fix it but not only that, I’m setting myself the challenge of reducing my usage by at least 25%.

In my home, electricity is used for heat, light and small appliances. I use natural gas for hot water and most cooking. I also have a wood burning combustion heater in the main living area. That means I have a few options for reducing usage but nothing that will show a sizeable reduction, quickly.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be tracking my usage via the meter and taking note of which appliances are being used and for how long. Hopefully that will point out any obvious power drainers and also, if there are some bad habits that have snuck into our daily routines. 

It also means I’d better get the block splitter out and get some more firewood sorted!