Giving Back this Thanksgiving without Spending a Dime

It’s easy to get lost in the bustle of life. Holidays are great, but for many they are a time of financial stress, reflecting on loss, or feeling alone. Maybe you fall into one of these categories yourself. If so, it’s all the more reason to give back. In a time of year where we look to our families, travel, and gifts, let us not forget our neighbors.

Giving to those around us doesn’t mean giving a lot of money, or any money really. It’s more about resources, time, and thoughtfulness. We encourage you to give this Thanksgiving. Below we’ve got some ideas to help you get started.

  • Check your pantry Do you have some canned goods, dry foods, or supplies you don’t need or use that are in date? Consider donating some to a local food bank. You could also organize a neighborhood or street-wide food drive and ask people to donate along with you!
  • Make baked goods for community workers Are you thankful for firefighters, police, librarians, teachers, etc.? Make them some cookies with a card and thank them for what they do to better your community.
  • Volunteer Help with a marathon, visit a nursing home, or a hospital. Your time and effort are the best gift you can give.
  • Become a tutor or mentor Do you know a child who needs some help with reading? Ask area non-profits in your city if they have a program you can help in tutoring kids or volunteer your time at a local school. Do you know someone who needs support or guidance or do you just feel you have skills you could offer? Consider becoming a mentor.
Man cleaning sink in a mobile home.
  • Clean someone’s house/car Do you know someone who just had a baby? Do you have a friend that needs a break? Offer to clean their house or help them do so.
  • Invite someone over for dinner You’re already making dinner. Why not everyone eat a little less or skip the leftovers so a friend in need can feel loved and supported?
  • Offer to babysit or dog sit for someone Everyone needs a break or a night out! Have a friend going a way for a while? Offer to watch their dog so they don’t have to pay money to board them.

Does all this giving back have you feeling thankful?

Try a Gratitude Journal!

7 Ways to Use Pumpkins this Harvest Season

Late every September, we welcome a season of cooler weather, changing colors, and a time of plenty. For centuries across the world – cultures have celebrated the fall season as a time of harvest. During this time, we reflect on the year we have enjoyed thus far and all the reasons we have to be thankful. So it makes sense that we use vibrant colors, various plants, and wonderful foods to celebrate the harvest.

One of the most popular signs of harvest time is the pumpkin! Bright, versatile, and delicious – the pumpkin is often the center of attention. From classic carving, to the unusual – these ideas are sure to help you celebrate!

 1. Cooking

Pumpkin seeds make for a great snack and all you have to do is bake them! Plus, you can make pie. But it doesn’t stop there. Try making a soup! Check out these great ideas!

2. Carving

Carve a scary face, the letter your last name starts with, or a super hero for the kids! Get some inspiration here.

 3. Painting

Don’t want all the mess of carving? Simply paint a design, stripes, or anything you want for a finished look!

Painting a pumpkin
Make a party or event around decorating your pumpkin!

 4. Bowl/ Container

Need a festive punch bowl or container for candy? Cut out a pumpkin and line it with a plastic bag or find a clear bowl to fit in it. Here’s a great “how to”.

 5. Luminary

You can either use pumpkins to light your walkway or cut out the center and put a candle holder with candle in it!

6. Embellishing/ Decorating

Many sites use lace, push pins, and stickers to make a unique pumpkin with modern flair.

 7. Door stopper

Keep the doors open this year by placing a small pumpkin in front of the door.

Give Me Decorating Ideas!

Happy Harvest! We hope you and your family can have some fun with these ideas!

Halloween Trick or Treat Bags for Your Kids

How many orange pumpkins have you bought over the years for Halloween? Come on, there’s no shame, we’ve all been there. Oh, and I haven’t forgotten you, pillow sheets! You are creative and so is your child – let’s make a fun treat bag that celebrates that! It will give you an easy project you can enjoy with your kids, and their friends may just call you the “cool” parents, even though we know you already are!

Kids sitting on stoop in Halloween costumes with trick or treat bags.
  1. Sew one! A simple pattern can make for a super cute bag for Halloween. For most projects, all you need is different colored felt and a pattern! You could also reuse the fabric for other seasons depending on what you choose!
  2. Repurpose a shirt/ sew a patch on. Have an old spooky shirt? Cut it with a simple tutorial and you’ve got a great bag! You also can sew or iron patches of a canvas bag for a well-traveled look!
  3. Stencil on a canvas bag! Use paint, spray paint or whatever you like to make your own unique saying on your kiddo’s bag, or go classic and put their name on it!
  4. Line your bag in ribbon. You can line the top by gluing the ribbon along the edges of the bag. You can also cut two little holes in the top of the bag and wrap the ribbon around the bag and to the top and through the holes.
  5. Use bandanas! Get a few different colored bandanas and tie them together or sew them up to make your own unique bag!

Keep Crafting with Your Kids!

Ask your kiddo what theme they’d like to do, or make something to go with their costume. Ask some of their friends to join and make a party out of it! Come up with your own idea if you like!

Family outside in the mountains

10 Spend Free Fall Weekend Ideas

It’s my opinion, but I wear it proudly – Autumn is worth the whole year. In other words, I seriously love fall and wait for it each year with expectation. I enjoy the other seasons as they come, but there’s nothing like the season of fall to me. If I had to peg the one underlying reason I love this time of year it’d have to be that the outdoors turn into the perfect playground, from gorgeous colors, to perfect temperatures, football games, etc. it’s all so inviting!

So since the outdoors are gearing up to create the ideal backdrop for all your family fun, why not enjoy it all without the cost? That’s right, here’s how to have the best fall weekend without breaking the bank!

  • Go hiking: If you need an all-day event, or your looking to spend some energy with your older kids or your pets this option is made for you! You can stay active and enjoy the scenery – talk about the best of both worlds!
  • Host a scary viewing party! Get your favorite spooky show or movie and invite your friends over! Borrow a projector and take it outside or watch on your deck or screened in porch.
  • Use fall foliage for décor: Acorns, pinecones, and leaves make for beautiful décor pieces! No need to go out and buy what you can find in your backyard. If you are nervous they are filled with bugs, dry them out or try one of the many cleaning options on Pinterest!
  • Take lunch to the park: Instead of staying inside, take lunch outside! Heck, it can be your own backyard!
  • Have a candlelit story time: Put the phones and electronics away. Light some candles and turn the lights off. Read the kids a book by candle light. You’ll feel like your back in the day and get to focus on one thing at a time for change! 

Cup of coffee with whip cream and caramel on a table next to fall leaves.
Enjoy a cup with a friend!
  • Make tea or coffee and invite a friend over: Enjoy a low-key chat without having to go out and spend money. A warm cup of hospitality is just as sweet as friendship.
  • Volunteer: Easy, free, and it helps someone else! This is the best one on the list. It’s never too early to teach your kids to put others’ and their needs first. It is the season of gratefulness after all!
  • Clean/Organize: Open the windows and freshen up the house for the season! Organize the kids’ toys, the kitchen, or make a box to donate. Does a room in your home need a good scrub, too? Get some kitchen cleaning inspiration!
  • Break out the board games: Work together or enjoy a little friendly competition playing some games. This is great for those kiddos that need a little break from technology.
  • Go outside and draw what you see: Take another look at your backyard or your front yard. Draw your best rendition! Be sure to include all the color you see!

Get More Frugal Ideas!

Enjoy the best season of all! Remember, fun can be free!

Oakbur Quill Co.
Person sorting through vegetables and fruit on a table.

How to Compost: Indoors

Short on outdoor space but still want to compost? It turns out, you can! There are two ways that you can compost inside. You can purchase a compost bin for your home, or you can do vermicomposting. Vermicomposting is composting with worms.

With Vermicomposting, the worms will breakdown your materials and do the work for you. It is surprisingly low maintenance to keep them and provides rich fertilizer once ready. The container typically needs cleaned every 3-6 months. There are products that you can buy to start up this process if you don’t mind a few hundred tiny roommates that may not pay their rent but will take out the trash for you.

Trash can in a kitchen island that can be used for compost.

If the idea of keeping creepy-crawlies in your house makes you feel uneasy, you can opt for a bin. You can purchase an indoor compost bins or you can make one of your own. To make your own:

  • You can drill holes in the bottom of a plastic container and put a drip tray underneath (to catch any liquid). Inside the composter you would add a layer of dirt and paper.
  • After you add your layer, add your cut up food scraps. With composting inside, you’ll want to avoid anything that will be stinky.
  • You’ll want to add materials like leaves or newspaper and mix your compost regularly. This process will continue until your compost looks and smells like dirt.

Keep in mind where you will be placing your bins. Some people opt for under the sink and others, right on the counter.

Why Compost?

With whatever route you should choose to take, you can take comfort in knowing you are bettering the world!

Landscaping outside of a home with a wheelbarrow and shovel.

How to Start Composting: Outdoors

We know why composting is important and what we can compost, but how do you start your own outdoor compost station?

To start, decide how much you are composting and if you need a bin. Benefits of composting with a bin is that it will keep it neat in your back yard and help to keep critters away. If you do choose a bin, consider the size of the container for how big of a space you’ll need.

Next is location, location, location. Find an area that is well-drained. If you live in the south, you may want to consider a shady spot so the moisture in the pile doesn’t evaporate too quickly.  In the north, you may want to consider a sunny area since it typically is cooler weather in the spring and fall.

Remember to consider the proximity to your house and garden. Since you will more than likely be making at least one trip (if not more) to it daily you will want it to be close enough to the house, but also close enough so you don’t have to make long trips to your garden.

Once you have decided what and where – it is time to start composting! Start off by having the pile touching the ground.

  • On the first layer, place brown items such as leaves, twigs, cardboard (torn up).
  • Then add green materials, such as food wastes or grass. Each layer should be around 5 inches, give or take.
  • Keep repeating layers until you run out.
  • Once you’ve added the layers, keep the materials wet, but not soaking wet.
  • Turn your pile to dry and mix the materials together for breaking down.

Soil and pots for compost gardening.

As time goes and the materials start to break down, you’ll notice the components of it starting to change. Once the materials look and smell like dark dirt as opposed to the items you originally started with, that is when it is ready to be used for your garden.

Why Compost?

Happy Composting!

Woman in front of a garden, tending to it.

What Are the Benefits of Composting?

Composting is a simple way you can better the environment (and potentially your wallet). If you aren’t quite sure how to start composting or if it really makes that big of a difference, then this is the post for you! Over the following weeks of this series we will be talking about the importance of composting and what you can compost, followed by making your own composter! So, let’s dig in!

Why Compost?

Composting has direct benefits for your backyard but also impacts the environment on a larger scale, too!

When you compost, your soil becomes healthier, which naturally promotes better plant health. Because compost adds organic materials back into the soil, it reduces your need for store bought fertilizer. An additional benefit is that soil will contain more nutrients and become more impervious to diseases. The EPA states that increasing organic matter in your dirt by just 1% can triple the soil’s water capacity!1 It’s pretty amazing what impact you can make for your own back yard.

What about on the larger scale though? Overall, composting will result in cleaner oceans and reduce methane emissions, just to name a couple of benefits2It also prevents 30% of all waste from ending up in a landfill3. Not only will you prevent compostable waste from ending up in the landfill you will also become more mindful of what is being thrown out, thus saving on your budget!

Now that we know why we should compost the question becomes:

What can you compost?

The answer… just about anything! But you will want to be mindful since some items may cause unwanted critters. That problem can be solved though by keeping your bin locked.

Easiest things to compost:

  • Leaves
  • Sticks
  • grass
  • Newspaper (black and white)
  • Saw dust
  • Vegetable food scraps

Items you’ll want to avoid:

  • Meat
  • Bones
  • Dairy
  • Fats
  • Diseased plants

If you are looking to compost something but aren’t sure if you can, check out this composting website! It will tell you whether it can be composted and how to do it safely.

Now that you learned (or maybe already knew) about how composting improves your soil/ plants, reduces waste in your home, and produces less landfill waste – you might be considering how to get started with your own compost! Stay tuned for our next post on the topic where I’ll teach you exactly that!

More Eco Friendly Ideas!

  1. Addison County Solid Waste Management District. 18 August 2021. Five Top Reasons to Compost. https://www.addisoncountyrecycles.org/food-scraps/composting/101/why-compost.
  2. Grow Ensemble. 18 August 2021. 20 April 2021. The 15 Benefits of Composting for the Environment, the Economy, & Our Communities. https://growensemble.com/benefits-of-composting/
  3. Green Philly. 18 August 2021. 21 May 2013. 5 Benefits of Composting for Your Urban Garden. https://www.thegreencities.com/lifestyle/5-benefits-of-composting/

Top down view of bee bath with marbles and water.

How to Create Your Own Bee Bath

Bees are essential for the world’s survival. They are a big contributor to plant pollination and without them, it is said we would not survive. So what can you do to help save the bees? Besides having wildflowers, dandelions, and other flowers in your yard, you can create your own bee bath.

The back of a bee flying onto an orange flower.
A bee flying onto an orange flower.

A bee bath is a little area with shallow water that allows for our little friends to come and cool off and get a drink of water. With the hot summer days, it could be treacherous for bees to find a place to stay hydrated. Most pools of water will be too deep and if they slip in, they will risk drowning.

All the things you need to make a bee bath: pots with trays, paint brushes, paint, marbles, and an area to paint.

What you need to make a bee bath:

  • A shallow plate
  • Rocks or marbles
  • Water
  • Paint (for decoration)

For our bee baths, we chose clay pot trays to use and marbles, but you can use any shallow plate. You can choose to paint or decorate it or just leave it as is.

After you decide on your plate, add some rocks and marbles to allow for a standing place for their tired legs. Place in your garden and fill with water without covering the rocks or marbles. And that’s it!

Painted terracotta pots with trays.
Painted terracotta pot.
Bee Bath made from Terracotta painted pots.
Check out this how to video for more!

Get Rid of Bugs Safely!

This simple and quick little project can go a long way for bee survival, especially during the hazy days of summer.

Woman organizing dishes in the kitchen cabinet.

Organizing Your Home with a Monthly Walk Through

The best remedy for a busy household is a routine that sticks. You might be thinking of your morning or nightly routine, and that is definitely part of it. However, the routine I’m thinking of is when it comes to your home. That’s right – I’m talking about home organization. It’s amazing what a monthly check in can do for your home and your sanity!

So, let’s break this down and discover some great options for keeping your home in order.

The monthly walk through can sound intimidating, I get it. Bear with me. If you can find a few hours toward to beginning or the end of the month to walk through your home and process the items – you’ve won half the battle. Schedule this in advance if you have kids or a busy schedule to where someone helps you or watches your kids for a bit. It can change as the months do – make it work for you.

How to get the most out of your walk through:

  • Set a couple boxes out for donation or sale (depends on how much you must sort through)
  • Set out a trash bag
  • Use a designated area for items in the wrong place or that need to be relocated
  • Grab some post its (To label or write out where you want something to go later)
  • Motivation: caffeine, music, having guests at your home, clearing more space for family, etc.
  • Focus on the room you’re in until your done with it
  • Ask yourself: “Have this been used or worn in a year?” “Is this in the most practical place it could be?” “Do I need this or really want it?” Etc.

As you go through each room you don’t have to pull things out of closets, drawers, or under the bed. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Start with clutter or items sitting out. Then after you’ve done this system for a while you can dig deeper into the details, or you may already have things pretty organized. Start where you’re at and let yourself progress. You’ll find not only will your home become more organized, but you’ll be downsizing some of your stuff.

Once you’re able to go through your home fully you should have 3 areas/ bins/ boxes. One for donations/sale, one for items that can relocate to another room or place, and trash items. Follow up after your monthly organization by going ahead and putting these items in their new place.

Click For Cleaning Tips!

I hope that you can implement this strategy and that it serves you and your family well.  Happy organizing!