Tag Archives: DIY

Frugal Friday: The Importance of DIY

nail polishI’m usually a gung-ho DIYer. I mean, we fixed up the Airstream ourselves! And you can catch me on any given night knitting, cooking or making candles. I even tried to make all my Christmas gifts last year and plan to do so again this year! But there are some things that I just plain don’t like to do. I don’t like to clean my own car and I don’t like to give myself pedicures. I just don’t like to do it. #truestory. We’re going down to truth city today, folks.

But since I started the Spending Fast (spending only $100 per month on non-necessities) I’ve had to do many chores that I would outsource before because I didn’t like to do it. I’d like to say that it hasn’t been so bad, but I still hate doing those chores. I’m putting those things in the same category as working out— something I don’t like to do, but I have to do. (Both are in the same category as stuff that isn’t so bad once you start doing it.)

Even though I hate it, when trying to save money, DIY is at the utmost importance. There are some things I’d never DIY, like electrical stuff (it’s too scary and dangerous!), but if I can do it and feel safe doing it, I will. DIY not only saves me money, it also teaches me a new skill. DIY is empowering. Saving money is empowering.

DIY has totally changed my life. How has DIY changed your’s? Let me know in the comments.

love,
melanie

Adventures in Wine Making

wine makingI’m calling this post “Adventures in Wine Making” instead of “Homemade Wine Recipe” or “DIY Wine” because really, I can’t believe this wine turned out half-way decent. I also don’t want to share a recipe just yet because I may have just been lucky with my first batch. And I don’t want to be liable for poisoning you all. I tried using this recipe from All Recipes, but the portions were off, so I just heated up some sugar with water, threw in the yeast after it had cooled, mixed it with Aldi-brand fruit juice and went with it.

Five weeks later, the balloon deflated, I filtered out the yeast with coffee filters and BAM! I had drinkable wine. It was a little too sweet for my liking, but my friend, Gabby loved it. It also helped that we called it “toilet wine” and thoroughly researched “How to Make Prison Wine” while drinking it. Did you know prison wine can be made with fruit cocktail, ketchup and bread? I HAD NO IDEA. This wine would be perfect for an Orange is the New Black party.

Have you ever tried making your own wine? How did it turn out? When I perfect it, I’ll have a recipe to share!

love,
melanie

How to Make Beeswax Candles

beeswax candle DIYDid you know that beeswax candles are honey hole full of benefits? Ok, that pun was forced. But seriously, beeswax candles can help with allergies, have calming benefits and burn slower and cleaner than paraffin candles. I’ve even heard that beeswax candles give off negative ions that actually purify the air. I also love the scent of beeswax candles.

In elementary school we went to visit the town of Old Salem, a living history town that depict Moravian life in the 18th and 19th century. Well, one guy, dressed in his period-correct finery, was pouring candles. Even as an elementary schooler, I thought that was pretty cool and I bought one. My parents didn’t let me play with matches, so I ended up just smelling the unlit candle like a weirdo. But I’m still obsessed with the natural scent of beeswax candles.

Anyway, I know that beeswax candles are one of those things that I can make cheaper than I can buy. So I did just that. It took me a couple of tries to perfect the process, but here’s how to make beeswax candles.

Supplies

glue wicksGlue your wicks to the bottom of the jars. The glue helps the wick to stay in place during the pouring process. Let dry, then trim the wicks to slightly longer than the desired length. (I didn’t do that and regretted it later.) Pour your pellets and coconut oil into the pitcher. 1/2 pound of pellets makes about a 1 pint jar candle. Fill large pot of water 1/4 of the way full of water.

candle making pitcherPut the candle making pitcher in the water. It might float a bit. That’s ok. Stir until the wax is melted.

candle coolingAs the wax is melting either heat up your oven on low or prepare a bowl of warm water and put your jars in it to cool the candles. I did both and both methods worked. The addition of coconut oil and the intricate cooling process ensures that the candles don’t crack. The coconut oil also gives the candles a lovely baby yellow hue.

beeswax candles coolingWhen wax is fully melted pour carefully into jars to not disturb the wick.

candles covered in tinfoilIf using the water cooling method, cover in candles in tinfoil. If using the oven method, turn the oven off and let the candles cool inside.

We just made beeswax candles! All my childhood dreams are coming true! Also, wouldn’t these make great gifts?!

Have you ever tried candle making? Let me know in the comments!

love,
melanie

Frugal Friday: When Hassle Trumps Money

Bye. bye glasses!

Bye. bye glasses!

I’m all for the DIY lifestyle. And I’m all for saving money. If I can make something for cheaper than I can buy it, 9 times out of 10, I will do just that. But there are some things that are just too much of a hassle to try to put up with or to try to DIY.

To determine if it is worth the cost of DIY or the hassle, I’ll do the math. I’ll figure out the time and supplies it will take me to DIY versus the cost of purchasing it. Por ejemplo (that’s Spanish for “for example”) I really enjoy beeswax candles. They have air purifying properties that soy candles just can’t beat. But pre-made beeswax candles can be pricey. Most true beeswax candles start in the $20 dollar range and steadily work their way up. The instructional videos and blog posts I found online didn’t sound very difficult or time intensive, so buying the supplies to make candles ($30.58) on Amazon was a no brainer. I’d make my money back in 2 candles. And I get to learn a new skill. (Once I perfect the process, I’ll share it with you all.)

But some things in life are more complicated. For example (in Spanish that’s por ejemplo) I’ve put up with wearing glasses or contacts for most of my life. I’ve worn glasses or contacts for 18 years. I started wearing glasses in the 4th grade and I switched over to contacts in high school. Over the years, it’s been a hassle, but I’ve just taken it as a part of life. But lately I’ve no longer been able to wear contacts due to my allergies and I just can’t stand wearing glasses everyday. They slip off my face when I’m gardening or working out. They get dirty and covered in finger prints. I loose them and then can’t find them because I can’t see. (I have super bad vision.) I’ve had it.

So I used my trusty math to figure out if laser eye surgery was worth the hefty price tag. And it was. It may take me 11.8 years to break even, but if I figure in the cost of my hassle I’ll break even faster. And if I end up not having to wear glasses or contacts I’ll eventually start saving money because I’ll have one less expense.

If you are curious, I figure out hassle by the minutes it took me a day to mess with my glasses or contacts. I figured that was about 10 minutes a day. I then took my hourly wage and divided it by 60 minutes to find out my minutely wage. Then I took my minutely wage and multiplied it by days in the year. In a year, I spent $912.50 worth of time hassling with my eyes. Kind of insane. Then I divided the cost of the surgery  by the cost of time spent and ended up with 3.89 years. Lastly, I factored in the $300 per year expense of buying glasses or contacts. I ended up with an approximation of breaking even in three years. Plus, if this surgery works, my life is going to be greatly improved and I can’t calculate that.

All this math makes my brain hurt. But as this post is published I’ll be going under the laser to fix my eyeballs! Wish me luck!

Do you ever use a formula to calculate hassle? Let me know in the comments!

love,
melanie

Frugal Friday: DIY Car Maintenance

under the hood of a carTo be honest with ya’ll, anything car-related scares me to death. I’m afraid I might mess something up, then my car will be messed up and it will definitely blow up. Yet, I teach my student’s every day to not fear technology. Oh the irony. Well, lately I’ve been conquering my fear of car maintenance by doing small car maintenance tasks. Last time I had my oil changed, the mechanics also noticed I needed a cabin air filter change. They wanted almost $20 to change it. With a few click, click, clicks on my smart phone, I looked up the cost of a new air filter– $8 on Amazon (free shipping) and politely refused their offer. I ordered the filter online, Googled where to find the air filter in the car (I’m a beginner, give me a break!) and changed it myself! That simple task saved me (after taxes) almost an hour’s worth of pay. I’m going to learn how to change my oil next!

Here’s to learning (and the weekend)!

love,
melanie

Knotted Bracelet

Knotted braceletSome days it seems silly in the middle of whatever else I have going on to stop and do some sort of small craft or make a slightly more difficult meal. But sometimes it’s just what I need. Sometimes that small craft is a small win for my sanity. This bracelet was just that. I was struggling with making the itty bitty ring I posted a while back. So, I put it aside and started working on this bracelet.

The supplies came in my January For the Makers box. It was originally supposed to be a necklace, but I don’t wear necklaces as much as other jewelry. Although this kit was purchased for me, the supplies could easily be purchased on their own.

Knotted Bracelet DIYTo make this piece, I watched this video on how to create a double figure 8 knot. Then I placed the cord connectors on both ends and placed a bead in the middle of each. I tightened the connectors with pliers to ensure the bead wouldn’t come loose. Finally I finished it off by placing  super glue in each end cap and pressing the rope into the cap. Let dry and you’re finished.

Knots can be so pretty, don’t you think?

Here’s to easy projects and easy wins. Sometimes we need ‘em.

love,
melanie

12 Ways to Save Money on Gardening Supplies

12 Ways to Save money on gardening suppliesThere’s some debate online about whether or not gardening actually saves money. It’s a risk. I get that. Some ravenous bug could eat your entire crop of heirloom tomatoes. A hurricane could blow through without leaving a single pea pod in it’s wake. (How rude!) But there’s also potential savings. One article I found claimed that the author and his family produced $2,149.15 worth of produce in their home garden!

I’m super lucky that I don’t have to rely on my own agricultural endeavors to survive. I don’t know how profitable my first garden will be, but I’m saving on supplies in order to increase my potential profits.

Here’s how I’m saving on supplies for my garden.

  1. Containers or raised beds – I’m using containers and raised beds to save on soil costs and conserve water.
  2. Supplies for raised beds – To save money on creating raised beds, my plan is to use old barn wood. The barn wood is untreated and my beds will be shabby chic for sure.
  3. Gardening tools – I will be borrowing most of my gardening tools. If there happens to be a time when I can’t borrow what I need, I’m going to purchase my tools via Craigslist or yard sales. No need to buy new gardening tools, they’re just going to get dirty anyway!
  4. Compost – I must admit, composting is going to be difficult for me. I didn’t come from a family that composts and I love the thrill of throwing something away. So weird, I know. It’s a habit and I’ll just have to get into the habit of composting.
  5. Plant pricer produce & produce you use often – I use more bell peppers and onions than the average gal, so I’m planning on planting those. I won’t be planting eggplant because George hates it. I’m also considering planting something like habanero peppers because those little suckers can be pricey and after they’re canned, they make a great gift.
  6. Grow plants that can produce all season – Tomatoes are a great example of a plant that can produce all season. Plants that produce all season (or most of the season) invariably produce more yield. Look at me, sounding all expertish.
  7. DIY insecticide – There’s so many natural home remedies for garden insecticides. Did you know you can control aphids with a few drops of dish soap diluted in water? I had no idea.
  8. Rainwater barrel – I’m still not 100% sold on a rainwater barrel. We actually have well water so water costs isn’t too much of an issue. And I’m hesitant to place anything that can be a breeding ground for mosquitos near my home. But I’ve been reading about organic mosquito prevention methods and I’m warming up to the idea. Maybe I can make a DIY rainwater barrel?!
  9. Plant seeds for a higher return on investment – Pre-sprouted plants are more expensive than seeds. Instead, I’m going to try to sprout my own plants in old egg containers!
  10. Plant produce in stages – This is one of the smartest tips I’ve found in my research. Plant seeds or starter plants in stages over the course of several weeks. This has several advantages– it allows you to harvest in stages and consume the produce over time. If there is a freak frost it also may save your produce that has not yet been planted.
  11. Try the farmers’ market for starter plants – Your local farmers’ market may sell newborn plants at a discounted rate. I know my farmers’ market does! If my sprout-it-yourself method doesn’t work out, this is my back up plan.
  12. Share seeds – To cut cost, I’m befriending some fellow gardeners to share seeds. I’m also trying to convince some of my black-thumb friends to garden with me. Saving money and making friends– this should be a special on Saturday morning PBS.

How have you saved money on gardening supplies? Let me know in the comments!

love,
melanie