Thursday, January 27, 2011

Meal Planning

 Before you groan too much, remember I resist all things "inside the box" including (but definitely not limited to) meal planning, budgets, planning, time management and so much more. But I assure you, meal planning will save so much money, time and energy in the long run, it is so worth it!

 I am a true free spirit who likes to just go with the flow. However, that actually does not work in real life and when we are managing a household along with the rest of life, we must learn to budget, plan, manage time and more. I have learned that putting these things in my life, actually allows me to live with freedom (if that doesn't make sense, stay tuned and I will break it all down sometime).

Which brings me to: meal planning. I admit, coming up with dinner each night can be a chore. I have one child allergic to red dye and truly does not like anything with any red sauce type thing so no pizza, taco, spaghetti, and so on. Now, I refuse to be a short order cook so if someone doesn't like what is for dinner, they are welcome to a bowl of cereal or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. With that said, I do like to try for meals everyone will like and still stay in the budget.

I'll be totally honest here: our weekly budget for groceries (includes all cleaning and household products, beauty products and food) is $150.00 per week. It used to be impossible for me to stay with in that budget for a family of five. Then, I started learning about how to really use coupons and it made a world of difference.  I now have anywhere from $50.00-150.00 per month left in the grocery budget each month. I will be posting much more on this subject in the days to come so stay tuned.

Back to meal planning. Planning out my weekly has become pretty simple. I base most of it on what is on sale that week. I have done monthly meal planning  but that is just too overwhelming for me, so I stick to weekly. We usually have 1-2 meatless meals per week and 1 breakfast for dinner meal. We have sports 2-3 nights per week and church on Wednesday nights so those are either plan ahead meals, crockpot meals, or just super simple meal nights.

Here are some good ideas for cheap, easy meals:

This one has some good ideas too:

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Homemade Bread (easy, I promise!)

I am sure some of you are rolling your eyes right now thinking, "yeah, ok I'll go make my own bread quick a minute..." I did the same thing, really! I am no Martha Stewart  by any means so if I was going to make bread, it had to be quick and easy. I found this recipe and it is just that- quick and easy!  And, it tastes WONDERFUL!

This recipe makes 2 nice sized loaves and honestly takes just a few minutes of actual "labor" and only an hour from start to finish. It must be practically fool- proof too because mine turned out perfect the very first time! I think this is going to quickly become a staple in our house!

I probably should have saved this for one of my "secrets" but I want everyone to enjoy this simple and VERY tasty recipe.
One Hour Bread (and there is even an instructional video!)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tip Tuesday

Happy Tuesday!

Since I haven't posted in several days, I am going to 'make up' for it with several good tips and links :).

First, I want to tell you about one of the BEST, CHEAPEST and most natural cleaning products to clean with:  Baking Soda!

I know some of you use baking soda already but if you don't, you should! There is no reason to spend any money on Comet or whatever you use to clean your sinks--baking soda works wonders!

Also, did you know Baking Soda can put out grease fires? It can. And best of all, it won't damage the way chemicals from a fire extinguisher will.

Also, baking soda can sooth burns, polish silverware, clean burned on food from pans and much more! Really, it is pretty amazing stuff! The only down side is you do have to rise well and dry in order for it not to leave a white film.

Here is a link with tons of great tips:

Another great cleaner that is cheap: Vinegar! I keep several spray bottles 1/2 vinegar and 1/2 water on hand to clean pretty much everything.

*Note: you will smell a vinegar smell for a few minutes after cleaning. This smell goes away completely once it is dry. If it bothers you, add a couple drops of essential oil to your cleaning solutions.

Here is a great link for ideas:

The link above also has ideas for vinegar and baking soda together; which is super powerful to clean pretty much anything!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Stop Coughing at Night

There is nothing worse than laying in bed, coughing all night...ok, I can think of a few worse things but it is annoying none the less. :)

When someone told me about this little trick, I was skeptical so, of course, I had to try it. That very next week after my friend had given me the tip, I started a cold and I was coughing all night that first night. The second night, I tried this trick and guess what, it worked!

Here is the article on  how to stop that bothersome coughing at night. It works with children too!

A couple extra tips: put a nice thick layer right in the bottom, center of each foot and cover your feet with thick, warm socks.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Clean Your Keyboard Quick, Easy and FREE!

Happy Wednesday! We are half-way through the week already!

First, I want to again say a huge thank you to all the people who follow this blog! Also, thank you for all the nice comments and interaction you all have given to the blog! Please feel free to let me know what you might want to see on the blog and if I don't know it or have a link to it, I can probably find someone who does! :)

Today's tip is a household/computer tip. Again, this may be an obvious tip that some of you have always done. For me, I had never even thought of it until someone mentioned this is the way they clean their computer keyboard.  We always purchased that 'canned air' (I know, first they sell us water and now they sell us air-yikes!).  Well, this trick works just as well and it is free!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tueday's Tech Tip

Happy Tuesday!
This Tuesday is going to be a computer tip or a "tech tip". Some of you might think this one is really lame. If you do, it's ok just skip it and wait for something more exciting tomorrow :). I was reading the other day about using Firefox vs. Internet Explorer (IE) for Internet browsing. In the past, I had always used IE without giving it much thought. I do still use IE sometimes, mostly just out of habit. I am not saying IE is "bad" but it is now a known fact that IE has many more virus attacks, for instance.

For me, I prefer Firefox. You can easily download the Firefox browser here:

Again, there are many different browsers and everyone has their favorite but I think Firefox is a little 'smarter' and a little safer than the IE browser.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Tip of the Day

Happy Monday! I couldn't think of any witty saying for Monday so, it's just "tip of the day". 

Today's tip is super simple but it works every time. Just this morning, I went to get some brown sugar for my oatmeal and the brown sugar was hard as a rock--ick. Then, I remembered an article I wrote a few years ago about how to soften brown sugar. This trick works every time even on the most rock-hard brown sugar! So, here's your little tip of the day:

*note: many of the articles I have been sharing I wrote in my 'early days' of eHow writing-they are not great quality as I knew nothing about writing what so ever but they are accurate and, we can't change them now so please excuse the quality of writing and just extract the tips from them :).

Friday, January 7, 2011

White Teeth

Happy Friday! Today, I am going to share a 'secret' I have been using for a couple years. I know, we don't have 50 followers yet but I am going to share this one anyway :). 

Ok I admit, I love coffee (hence the name of this blog) and tea too! I also have big teeth and smile a lot so I think my teeth are the first thing a lot of people notice. Anyone who knows me, knows I am pretty obsessed with my teeth. I hate the feeling of 'dirty' teeth and I can't stand it when my teeth don't look white.

In the past, I have used the Crest whitestrips and they work and all but they are expensive and do you know what they are? Peroxide. So, a couple years ago I asked my dentist about this little trick I had heard about and he agreed it was perfectly safe and very effective. It also gets rid of bad breath which is the other thing I am chronic about--bonus! The best part? It costs next to nothing- less than $1.00! So, here's the secret:

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Homemade Fabric Softner

Homemade liquid fabric softener is SUPER easy to make and you can customize it to smell however you want it to! It has the most unexpected ingredient in it: hair conditioner! I have been using this for about 2 years now and I will never go back to the expensive liquid fabric softener that is full of chemicals that are harsh on your clothes and washing machine.

You can make this organic if you want to use organic-based hair conditioner. Personally, I use the cheapest conditioner I can find (usually less than $1.00 with a coupon). This liquid fabric softener usually comes out to about .50 cents per batch, which does around 30 loads of laundry! That is quite a savings! Here's the recipe:

Tip: if you find you still have static cling, add more vinegar to your recipe.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Secret #1

                         "Ding,ding, ding!" We hit 25 followers-thank you!!

 Secret #1 (with a bonus tip at the end)

This is a place I have worked for and because I am not currently working for them, I can give you the scoop. When I was working for them, I kept it on the major "down low" as there are a limited number of local shops. This is a site for "Secret shopping" and/ or merchandisers. The pay may seem low at first but if you time your shops right, you can make decent money and you get free food and you get to go to the movies free too! The only reason I stopped doing this was because I have a lot of other projects going on with writing.  When I was working for them, I always got paid and had no problems with them at all. This is totally legit and a lot of fun!

Bonus tip: Apply to the "blue portal" if you want to do retail stores and fast food chains and apply to the "purple portal" if you want to do movie theaters and/or stock promotional material for various stores. You can apply to both as well.

Once we hit 50 followers, I will give out another secret...

Wednesday Whoh!

Each Wednesday, I will be posting a "Wednesday whoh!" This may be a "whoh!" like "hold the show, this is awesome!" or it could be a "whoh!" as in: "Whoh, don't do that!"

Wednesday's whoh! : Follow the rules; spoken and unspoken

When working online, there are spoken and unspoken rules. Some rules, if broken, will get you a swift ban  not only from a site you may be making money at, but also from Google; yes, you can actually be ban from Google...well, from making money from Google.

Once you are "blacklisted" or banned, it is forever and there is no pleading your case, it's just done. So, before you venture into making money, know the rules, read the fine print, talk to other people who are making money from the same place, it is important.

Now, don't be scared. As long as you follow a few really easy rules, you will be fine. Let me highlight a couple big ones:

 No-no #1: Do not copy and paste content. Never, ever is that ok. Plagiarism is a huge problem on the Internet. Don't be part of that problem.  Posting a link to someone else's work is ok (and usually appreciated) but do not copy other people's material. One exception to that rule is recipes. Recipes are not subject to copyright. Personally, I would still check with the author before copying an entire recipe verbatim; that would fall in the "unspoken rule " category.  This goes for pictures also. You can not snag a picture off Google images and use it without permission. There are lots of free or very reasonable sites that house photos you can use (more on that later).

No-no #2: If you are writing content online, especially revenue share articles, do not click on your own ads. Also, do not mention your ads or encourage friends and family to click on the ads. Google Adsense has a very sensitive system and can easily track the ad clicks. It is not difficult for them to find those 'cheating the system' and you will be banned in a hurry. Now, if your readers are genuinely interested, they will click on the ad, that is how it is supposed to work. My best advice is to not even worry about the ads. Just write your articles and leave the ads alone completely.

P.S. Just 4 more followers to get to 25 and then...I will give away a secret to making money online! (don't worry, none of my secrets cost any money).

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tuesday Tips

First, thank you to all the new followers, comments and encouragement, I really appreciate it! I don't claim to be a 'know it all' by any means but I am a research junkie and very curious by nature so I do know a little about a lot of things. I am willing to share everything I know with all of you. I will share all the 'insider' secrets (that I am allowed) because I want to see everyone who wants to, succeed at making money online and saving money at home!  Once there are 25 followers, I will reveal a money-making 'secret'. Once there are 50, 75, 100 and so on, I will reveal another secret so stay tuned, the higher the number of followers, the more 'juicy' the secrets will be! :)

Since Tuesday is sometimes a boring day of the week, I am giving two tips, just for fun.

Tip #1:

Today's household tip: Make your own dishwasher detergent.
 This is SO simple and super cheap! We have well water that is quite hard so I add about 2 tablespoons of salt to the recipe and it works BETTER than store-bought detergent. Not only does this save money, there are no chemicals and it is less harsh on your dishwasher. I have been using this recipe for 2 years now and it works great!

Tip #2:

Bonus tip: Building up a savings account. No matter how tight your budget, you can start a savings account. Have $5.00 per week taken directly out of your check and put into a savings account. You very likely will never miss $5.00 per week from your paycheck but at the end of the year, you will have $260.00 in savings! Maybe try bumping it up to $10.00 per week the next year. You will have $520.00 in savings by the end of the year! It really does add up quickly.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Tip of the Day: "Monday Moneysaver"

Today's tip is a "Monday Money Saver". I have been making my own laundry soap for about 3 years now and I love it! My daughter has very sensitive skin and this recipe works well on even the most delicate skin. I have added a few drops of essential oil for a nice scent but the soap itself has a nice 'clean' smell to it too.

I broke down the savings and I was amazed! We were using liquid Tide or another brand that was "free and clear" (with no dyes). We have well water that is quite hard so to get the stains out, we need to use a good branded detergent.  Even on sale, with a coupon I the lowest I could get the price was around .25 cents per load. With the homemade detergent, it comes out to .03 cents per load! Sometimes it is even less if I get the Ivory soap on sale, for instance! That is a savings of .22 cents per load of wash. We do an average of 15 loads of laundry per week,  or about 60 loads per month.  .22 cents x 60 loads =  $13.20 per month savings AND you get a much higher quality soap that is better for your skin and your washer.

Here is the recipe:

Now, if you have a front loading washer or you want to use liquid, here is the recipe:

One last tip: When using the powdered laundry soap, I run a bit of hot water in my washer, add the laundry soap and let it disolve, then add my clothes (and turn it to cold water).  Also, the soap does not make suds--this is normal. Trust me, your clothes will be cleaner than with the store-bought soap!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Tip of the Day

Today's Tip is for Online Passive Income

Online Passive Income takes time to develop but once it's established, you literally make money for doing nothing! Currently, all my passive income is at Up until last year, eHow had the WCP (writer's compensation program). Now, the WCP has shut down but I still make passive income on my articles every single month! This is just one example of many, many ways to make passive income online.

Today's Tip: Find your nitche' on the web and diversify. For instance, if you like writing, check out sites like Brighthub, Squidoo or Demand Studios to begin writing for reoccurring income.

Welcome to the First Post!

Welcome to "The Daily Grind". I named this blog mostly because I love coffee! I wanted a place to house all my various tips, tricks, and secrets to making "The Daily Grind" of life a little easier, more efficient and more fun! Everyday I will be posting a "tip of the day" so be sure to check back often.
 I have been working on the Internet for more than 3 years now. I have learned a lot about making a nice income on the Internet through writing. Currently, I write for Demand Media Studios and several other clients. I also make passive income every month through eHow. I will  be posting lots of information, tips and secrets to making money online.
  I also run a household of 5. We live in the woods and have a small 'hobby farm' with chickens, ducks, a large garden etc..and we heat our home with wood. So, I have learned a lot of tips about saving money, living on a budget and so on.  I will be posting things like: How to make your own laundry soap, dishwasher soap, how to really save using coupons and much, much more!
  Finally, we have a family computer business. We have been in business since 1985. We are one of the few smaller business' that have survived and thrived in this shaky economy. I will be posting computer tips and tricks along with secrets to being successful in business.

So, welcome to "The Daily Grind"!