Friday, February 28, 2014

Couples that Play Together

I have a card in my wallet that says "My Husband's 5 Most Basic Needs."  I got it at a "For Women Only" conference shortly before we got engaged.  I thought it was just a conference for any women since it was a college campus church, but really it was my first ever marriage conference.  It actually turned out that God had a reason for me attending that day because I didn't know that I would get engaged within the next 6 months and I learned a lot that day that I still use to this day.  Today I'm going to touch on one of these basic needs of every husband, and that is "Recreational Companionship."

Maybe you've heard the phrase before, "Couples that play together stay together."  Well, it is true.  Your husband wants and NEEDS you to do things with them that they enjoy.  For my dad, he enjoys doing things outside like hunting, fishing, cutting down trees, and calling coyotes.  For my husband, he enjoys using his muscles and playing board games.  When we were living where it was a lot warmer than here, we would go hiking whenever we got the chance.  We'd go to the beach.  And we could always play a game.

Since we recently moved and had a baby, I feel like this category requires more effort than it did before.  This is part of what those people mean when they say, "Marriage takes work."  We haven't had much opportunity to go outside, but I have asked him if he wants to cross-train with me on my off-running days.  (I'm training for a 10K race in April.)  For some reason, we also got out of playing games all the time too.  I think that came with having a kid and being exhausted by 7 p.m.  Every once in a while though I will pull out that card in my wallet and see which of the categories I am not fulfilling the most as a heart-mind-soul check.  That's why I keep it in my wallet.

I realized that I was missing the Recreational Companionship category a bit more than usual, so I have been intentionally asking my husband if he wants to play a game with me.  While I was at the Goodwill the other day, I happened to see a deck of States and Capitals cards on sale for $0.33.  My husband has always liked memorizing states and their capitals and geography, so I knew I had to get it.  I had to make a few cards since it wasn't all 50 states, but it works!  It was a fun way to show him that I was thinking of him, and a great way to let him know I wanted to practice with him.  My brother and sister in-law sent us The Scrambled States of America game when I told them about the States & Capitals cards because they knew it would be perfect for him. So we have been playing that as well

You need to understand that you can't wait for your husband to ask you to do something with him, because you might be waiting forever.  Sometimes they have too much else to think about to realize they might need to relax a little bit and just play.  The key is to know what they like and to invite them to do it with you if they don't invite you first.  If they do invite you, then you have to be willing to set aside your housework, rest time, or whatever you feel that you need to do to join them.   Sometimes it might not be your favorite activity.  Cutting down trees or calling coyotes probably doesn't top my mom's list, but I have seen her many times going with my dad to cut down trees and twigs and branches in preparation for deer season and sitting in a field with a coyote radio trying to woo the wild dogs.  Recreational companionship is a good opportunity to enjoy "us time" without having to sit down at a fancy meal with a lot of expectations and spend a lot of money.  Other things we do together as examples include playing catch, hula hooping, doing a workout from a magazine or online article, having a random push up contest, and the list could go on and on.

If you are curious what all five of the Most Basic Needs are you can see them listed below.  And yes, sexual fulfillment is listed as number one, because that is how God designed men.  They did stress in the conference that this order isn't necessarily true for all men, just most men.  It may seem a bit shallow, but you just have to change your way of thinking a bit to understand it.  God made men different from women so that when we support their needs they can support our needs.

Your Husband's 5 Most Basic Needs:
  1. Sexual Fulfillment
  2. Recreational Companionship
  3. An Attractive Spouse
  4. Domestic Support
  5. Admiration

Thursday, February 27, 2014

DIY Neti Pot Solution in Bulk

A few years ago, my mom got me a Neti pot for Christmas.  It's not your typical Christmas gift, but when you have chronic sinus infections and horrible allergies like I do, it is truly the best Christmas gift you could ever receive.  For those of you unfamiliar with the Neti pot, it is basically a genie lamp shaped plastic pitcher that holds about a cup of water.  You hold the spout up to one nostril, tilt your head forward and to the side while a saline solution pours through one nostril and out the other.  If you really want to be skeeved out, plug your sink while it pours through.  You'd be amazed at how much yuck a Neti pot can clear from your nose with just a cup of water!  It's not love at first sight, but I guarantee you will fall in love with it over time.

My husband and I have both come down with a cold.  Since I am currently breastfeeding, I am limited in the medications I can take.  While my husband is downing Mucinex super-strength nose-evacuator medicine every so many hours, I am drinking orange juice and using my Neti pot.  At
some point, you will run out of these premade packets used to make the solution that you can purchase in a box at the store.  Then (if you aren't me) you have to go back to the store and search for the little things that are always kept in the most un-obvious of locations.  If you are me, you will have read the ingredients at some point and realize what the stuff is actually made of:  sodium chloride and sodium bicarbonate.  For those of you who were not a science major or just not good at science, that is salt and baking soda.  Everyone has salt and baking soda!  So I got on google and looked for the proper ratio of salt:baking soda.  Of course, I could only find the proper ratio for one cup, but I need like a thousand cups for one cold.  So I did the math for you, and the recipe follows.

DIY Neti Pot Nasal Saline Solution in Bulk:
  • 6 TBSP + 2 tsp non-iodized salt (i.e. Kosher salt, ground sea salt, cooking salt, etc)
  • 3 TBSP + 1 tsp baking soda
       Directions: Mix ingredients in clean container.  Measure 1/2 tsp of mixture and pour into Neti pot.  Add 1 cup of warm water.  (Bottled, distilled, or filtered water is recommended.)  Then use it as you would your regular Neti pot.  If your nose burns while using this solution add a little more baking soda as needed.  If you are having trouble figuring out how to use your Neti pot, you can watch this video.

I store mine in a little plastic container in my bathroom with my Neti pot.  I also keep a 1/2 tsp measuring spoon in with it so I don't have to constantly go to the kitchen looking for a measuring spoon.  This is enough for approximately 60 flushes.  Enough to last you a month if you rinse your nose twice a day.  Perfect.  I hope you are on your way to breathing easier!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

How I Make a Little Extra Cash

Freebies that you sign up for are great, right?  You know, you enter your name and address in a form online & they send you shampoo and conditioner samples.  I get freebies all the time, and I am sure there are even more resources to get even more freebies.  I just liked several pages on facebook such as "Freebies 4 Mom," "," "Free Samples and Freebies," etc, etc.  Just do a little searching and you'll find them.  Then a few times a day you'll have a post show up in your news feed and you sign up if you want it.  But that's just the easy stuff and you don't get to choose what you want.

As a disclaimer, by providing the following recommendations, I am hoping that my referral will in turn earn me a little extra cash if you decide to sign up.  It's a little selfish, but I also really enjoy earning the extra cash and hope that you can also so it's not completely selfish.  I also would not recommend anything that I did not like myself.

A few years ago, while sitting in my college dorm room, I decided I would see if I could be one of those survey-takers to earn a little extra cash.  I tried out several different survey based websites, but I am only still taking surveys for one.  If you want to sign up, please let me know and I will email you a referral, because they don't have the option of posting a link.  I get a whole $1.50 for a referral, haha.  Basically you fill out a few profiles about yourself and they will have you take surveys based off the information you provide.  So if you are a 30 year old female with 2 kids, they'll tailor a lot of the surveys towards that.  Though a lot of them are about soda, grocery shopping, etc.  Sometimes they'll have you watch a short advertising clip and ask your opinion on it.  Each survey is assigned a certain amount of points usually based off the time it should take to complete it.  You then use those points to redeem for either certain rewards or gift cards.  I'm a fan of using them for Amazon gift cards.  It seems to take a decent enough time to earn a gift card, but when you're bored, you can just take a few surveys and see if you qualify.  I have never ever had issues with losing my points, not getting points, or not getting my rewards.

Another way to earn is through using Swagbucks.  Here is my referral link:  I also earn a little extra if you use my referral link.  My Swag Name is aneubert if they ask.  Swagbucks is an interesting concept.  You can search & earn using either their website or the toolbar that you download just like you do with Google to earn points (you don't earn them every time you search).  You can also earn by watching videos, doing your online shopping, playing games, and answering surveys via their website.  You can also enter "Swag Codes" which can be found on their blog, their twitter, or their facebook page for bonus points.  Occasionally they have special days where you can earn extra points.  Just yesterday they had their "6th Birthday Party" and I earned a lot of extra points by joining the challenge and entering extra codes.  The way that I earned the most points was by purchasing tires for my car from, but I used their link to earn 4% back.  I think it ended up being $20 that they paid me just because I needed tires!  This is another points based system.  So you earn points and cash those in for gift cards, etc.  Again, I always get the Amazon gift cards.  I have had issues a couple times with not getting points that I should have earned, but I just facebook them or contacted them directly and they realized the error and gave me my points so it was more of a non-issue.

Finally, I'll let you in on a secret. I am a mystery shopper.  I signed up through (and recommend)  Kern Scheduling Services (KSS) International.  I don't get any extra bonus or anything by referrals, so this is a non-paid recommendation.  Here is how it works.  I get an email about a mystery shop opportunity.  I apply for it.  I am assigned the shop.  Then I print out anything I may need and go do the shop.  I then come home, submit receipts or forms I needed signed and do a quick survey about the shop.  Then I get paid in cash via PayPal.  Signing up for PayPal is free for non-businesses, so there is no charge.  There is also no charge to be a mystery shopper, and there never should be.  Anything else is a scam if there is a charge.  I have never ever had issues with getting paid.  It does take a while, usually if I do a shop in January, I'll get paid in February.  So if I do a shop January 1, it might take a lot longer to get paid than if I do a shop on January 31.  The shops are frequently compliance shops.  So I will go to a gas station, drug store chain, etc, and try to purchase alcohol or tobacco without my driver's license.  For those, I think you have to be between 18 and 25 or 30, but I can't remember for sure.  I have also gone to get my oil changed, gone to a store to take pictures of the set up and do an audit, and I am going to go to a movie theater and watch a movie and order popcorn this week.  All of your expenses are paid.  So I'll use the movie theater as an example.  I will pay up front for 2 tickets, popcorn, and maybe a drink (depending on if they try to up-sell me or not).  KSS will then reimburse me for all of my expenses.  On top of that, they will pay me $5.  So it is over a $40 value that I am getting plus an extra $5.  Same thing with the oil change.  My oil change was paid for plus I got $5 or $10.  I have yet to have actually gotten any tobacco or alcohol, but I would get to keep that if they actually sold it to me, get paid for it, and get an extra $5 or $10 on top of that.  I like that it is real money that they pay you and not points, so I can use it for whatever I want.

So if you want to earn some extra cash, but don't want to go through the trial and error process of trying to figure out what is a legitimate way to earn the money, I've done the research for you.  Again, please use me as a referral if you decide to sign up!  I'll take it as my Christmas present if you want. 

Happy earning!

Monday, February 24, 2014

DIY "Wet" Bag Pail Liner

In my most recent post, I mentioned how I made a pail liner.  They sell "wet bag" pail liners online for $15 or more.  If it can be sewn easily for cheaper, I will at least try to find a way to do so.  This seamed easy enough.  The ones they sell online are usually made from PUL which is actually a pricey waterproof fabric unless you are buying in bulk.  The thing that doesn't make any sense to me is if you are sticking it in a trash can anyway, then why do you need it to be waterproof?  Trash cans are waterproof, too!

So I dug in my closet and pulled out a twin size sheet for a twin size bed that we don't own.  Looked good enough to me & a great way to upcycle for free!  Now I did initially measure my trash can to see how big my pail liner should be.  But then I got smart.  It's a 13 gallon trash can--why not use a 13 gallon trash bag as a pattern?

I folded my sheet in half and placed the trash bag on the fold to cut out.  I added about an inch and half to the top and an inch to the sides for seam allowance and a little wiggle room, and cut out around the trash bag.

I then turned it so the right sides of the fabric were facing each other and pinned the sides and forgot to take any more pictures after this, but you should be able to figure it out easily.  Meanwhile baby C.J. had fun looking out the window and at the sky, haha.

I then sewed up on the height and width of the fabric.  Next I turned it right side out and sewed along those same two seams on the outside for added durability.  Then along the top unfinished side, I sewed a casing to stick elastic in.  This part you might need help with, so here is a great tutorial for how to do this.  (I was lazy and did not iron anything though and just kinda winged it!)  I kept telling myself, "I am making a trash bag, I really don't care how it looks, just that it works."  You should do that too; it save you stress.

 After adding the elastic, here is the finished product:

And with my beautiful lid & sign so no trash gets mixed up in here:

As a side note, this is how I save money on those stupid refills for the Diaper Genie.  Just use a regular drawstring trash bag and wrap it around an old empty refill ring.

What It's Really Like to Cloth Diaper

I think I started cloth diapering about a month ago.  I've only been full-time* cloth diapering for a couple weeks now that I have enough diapers to last me two full days and then have a couple extra while those are in the washer & drying.

*By full time I mean all day & all night long unless we go out of the house.  I personally don't want to bother with carrying around those giant fluffy diapers--clean or dirty.  Plus I still have a giant stash of disposable diapers that I had already bought up, so I don't feel like I'm spending any extra money.

This is modern cloth diapering for those of you who still think that it means I am using plastic pants and Gerber prefolds.  I'm not.
1.  It's surprisingly not gross.  I really thought that facing my baby's poop would be a really disgusting experience.  Well, it's not.  He is a breast fed baby thus far so no rinsing in the toilet is required.  Breast milk is actually water soluble!

2.  I get an awesome warm, fuzzy feeling.  Something about being eco-friendly just makes you feel better about what you are doing.  I don't worry about what chemicals are being put next to my child's future baby making parts.  I even know what is going in the detergent used to clean them.

3.  My homemade laundry detergent works.  I posted the recipe for my cloth diapering laundry detergent a few weeks ago.  And it works!  I do find I use just over a TBSP of it per use.  I did the math, and it is about $0.90 per month vs $4.20 per month for the cheapest brand of detergent I was initially going to use that was cloth diaper friendly.  Every dollar counts when you're trying to get out of debt.

4.  The power of the sun is amazing!  It really gives me a true appreciation for the non-man-made things that God already put here in this universe for us!  If there are any "shadow stains," I just hang dry the covers or inserts or prefolds in my window and by the time the sun sets, they're all gone!  I did hang one prefold with the dirty side facing in and the clean side facing out once and those stains came out the second time around.

5.  People think I'm crazy.  This assures me that Financial Peace University has had an effect on me.  Thanks Dave Ramsey.  "If you live like no one else, later you can live like no one else."  I'm sure he wasn't thinking of handling baby poop in a new way, but it works!

6.  I don't really need to spend money on a wet bag pail liner.  I'm going to write a post about my DIY pail liner.  But I didn't think it needed to be waterproof.  And it worked.  And it's washable and dryable.  The other ones you see for sale are not able to be put in the dryer.  And you're supposed to remember to take them out before the final rinse cycle so it doesn't hold all the water in the bag.  Too much work for me.  I got a trash can with a flip top lid and put my DIY bag in it, and who knew--trash cans are waterproof too!

7.  My husband handles it so well!  Just an opportunity to brag about my husband.  In most blogs I read, the husbands were the ones who had problems with cloth diapering.  He was grossed out for the first poopy diaper he had, but after that he was pretty cool with it.  Once he figured out how to use a Snappi(R) he was good to go.  It was a steep learning curve, but he did well.  He actually says that he prefers the prefolds & covers over the pocket diapers.  I think he likes the Velcro on a couple of the covers vs all of the snaps on the pocket diapers.

Snappi in use
8.  Prefolds are working better than pocket diapers.  This might be related to the elastic in the front of our diaper covers that are not in our pocket diapers.  But the moral of the story is that they work just fine.  If you're on a budget, this is the way to go.  Econobum has a diaper kit of covers & prefolds that allow you to cloth diaper for about $50.  We got 2 Econobum covers and some of their prefolds as our first diapers to see if we could really do it.  And they work!  I actually really like the covers.  They are by the makers of BumGenius (the super expensive but supposedly awesome CD's).

9.  Coconut oil is a great diaper cream.  I bought a jar of coconut oil for a recipe of CD friendly diaper rash cream.  I still haven't made that yet, but the coconut oil works just fine, and is cheaper than the original recipe.  The only problem is that I think of eating popcorn every time I smear it on his bottom since that is the oil they use in movie theaters and apparently baseball stadiums.

10.  Baby C.J. doesn't care if I make mistakes.  He just patiently played with his toes and sucked on his fingers while I tried to figure out how to fold a prefold properly.  As long as I didn't chop of his fingers or toes, he was doing good.  You can do it, if you just try.  Your baby will never remember your mistakes.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Going Paperless: $0.25 Cloth Napkin Set

Cloth diapering has really changed the way I look at everything we consume in this house.  By consume, I don't mean eat; I mean waste.  While doing research on how to DIY products such as laundry detergent and household cleaners, I came across a few more interesting concepts. Going paperless.  Napkins, tissues, paper towels, even toilet paper.  I'm not sure I could do toilet paper, but napkins and paper towels I could probably handle.  Tissues--maybe.  Only if I make like 100 so I don't ever have to reuse the same tissue.  And it would have to be soft fabric. Maybe flannel.  I use a lot of tissues in the spring and fall.

I found this wonderful tutorial on how to sew mitered napkins at Nicole's Classes here.  I had fabric that I had purchased at a yard sale for $0.25 that I thought would be perfect for this project.  I didn't measure the fabric into 20" x 20" squares like her instructions say.  I simply just folded my fabric and cut it into even rectangles so I wouldn't be wasting any fabric.  I think mine ended up being 20" x 18" prior to sewing the seams up.  Here is the finished project:

 I am loving the bright colors.  Maybe when I get to paint my kitchen, I could do something with these colors?  We can paint in the house that we are renting, but it has to be colors they like otherwise we have to pay them to paint it back at the end.  I doubt they'd go for lime green.

These are the mitered corners.  I'm surprised with my handiwork!  I finally have figured out the correct tension for my sewing machine so my bobbin thread doesn't look awful on the bottom.  It only took me well over a year I think.

More Natural Frugaliving Ideas

I found this great blog here that has some variation of these recipes, so all the credit goes to someone other than myself..

Glass Cleaner:
1 1/2 Cups Vinegar
1 1/2 Cups water
Mix together in a spray bottle & use newspaper for no streaks!

Furniture Polish:
3/4 C Olive oil
Juice from 1/4 lemon
1 TBSP Vinegar
Dampen rag & squeeze out excess water.  Dip damp rag into furniture polish, the wipe on surface of furniture.  Buff off with an old dry towel.  Can also be used to polish stainless steel!

All Purpose Cleanser:
1 tablespoon borax
1 tablespoon washing soda
1 teaspoon dishwashing soap
1 cup vinegar
4 cups hot water
25-30 drops essential oil (optional)
Whisk all ingredients together well in large bowl, then pour into spray bottle.  Spray on, then wipe surface clean with a damp cloth.  Can be used to clean and disinfect almost any surface!
Fabric Softener:
1/4-1/2 C vinegar
essential oil (optional)
Add 1/4-1/2 cup vinegar with several drops of your favorite essential oil to the rinse cycle (or simply place in fabric softener compartment of your front load washer.)

Shampoo (Or should I say "No-poo")
1 TBSP Baking Soda
1 Cup Water
Mix together in squeeze bottle, and then squeeze some onto scalp and massage in.  After a few minutes rinse out.  Then follow up with:
1 TBSP apple cider vinegar
1 Cup Water
Mix together in old conditioner bottle or something like that, squeeze on the ends of your hair, then rinse out.  If your hair is naturally oily, use less of this.  If your hair is naturally more dry, use less baking soda or honey instead of vinegar.

Bottle of Grain Ethyl Alcohol (such as Everclear)
10 drops of tea tree oil per oz of alcohol (optional)
Pour into spray bottle & spray on armpits.

Dish Soap
1 3/4 C Boiling water
1 TBSP Borax
1 TBSP Grated bar soap
Combine borax & grated soap in medium bowl.  Pour hot water over mix & whisk until soap is melted. Let stand for 6-8 hours, stirring occasionally.  Transfer to a squirt bottle & use just like the regular stuff.

Helpful links:
Guide to Less Toxic Products
Guide to Less Toxic Baby Products

Happy 2nd Adoption Anniversary, Lyna!

Today marks the day where we went to Upland Animal Shelter in Upland, CA 2 years ago and went back to visit a 21 pound little 3 year old beagle.  We had gone the day before to look at 3 other dogs (not intending to look at her).  But she was so excited to see us, so we took her outside, and boy did she love us instantly!  She was happy to have the chance to go outside, but even happier to be with us.  When we left that day because they were closing, she was standing at the edge of her kennel right at the door watching us go.  Lucky for her, we came back the next morning after sleeping on it!  We adopted that teeny beagle on February 4, 2012.  She gained 5 pounds within 6 months of having her because her bones were visible.  She learned how to walk up and down stairs by herself.  She learned that the world isn't really so scary.  She learned how to sit, lay down, shake, stay, leave a treat on the ground (and eventually on her paw) until told to do so, crawl, sit politely for petting, sit politely while I talked with another person with a dog, and the list goes on and on.

As difficult as she is to manage with her separation anxiety, I am thankful for the joy that she has brought me and dozens of other people at doggy day camp and even strangers we meet on our walks.  The mailman in California LOVED her.

Happy 5th Birthday & Happy 2nd Adoption Anniversary, Lyna!