Plant Swap: a Free Food Resource

Along the same lines as the annual FREE Seed Swap hosted by ToledoGROWs, the annual Plant Swap encourages local gardeners to split their perennials and bring splits, cuttings, or even gardening paraphernalia (books, tools, etc) to trade.  And the fact that this is a great FREE resource for plant starts (which equals FREE FOOD) and tools for the job is something worth planning for.

Toledo Community Plant Swap |
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Honey Bran English Muffins

Can you tell I’ve been on a carb kick lately?

These Honey Bran English Muffins started out as an experiment back when I was living in apartments and one of my roommates was going vegan and juicing a lot for different detoxes.  It was fun to see what she was trying and I was also experimenting with making *all* my food from scratch.  To the best of my ability without losing too much flavor.

This was one of those experiments and I have to say is still a favorite I pull out every so often because of How. Delicious. hot-off-the-cast-iron they are.  :]

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First Things for Urban Homestead Beginners

If I was starting my urban homestead all over again, I would start the orchard (apples and possibly pears and plums) and berry patches (strawberry, blueberry & raspberry) as soon as we got the keys.  I love using edible landscaping to plan out our fruit patches.

If I Had to Restart My Urban Homestead

Next, if it isn’t fall or winter, I’d have the hubby build raised bed frames and install our vegetable garden asap.

2017 Raised Tomato Bed
2017 Raised Bed: Tomatoes, Bell Peppers, Basil, Cilanto.

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What Do Affiliate Links Pay for?

Do you ever wonder what all the buzz is about those “affiliate links” all the bloggers disclose about?  What are they and what do that do with “all that money”?

Ha.  Well, first “all that money” can be anywhere from $2/month on up to super-bloggers making thousands a month.  Hint: I’m NOT one of those bloggers…. But I *do* do a happy dance when I get an amazon payout of $11-20 for the month because then I go and apply it to our diapers on Subscribe And Save.  Or to purchase nails or other small supplies for finishing our Ever-Going Home Addition.

Second, all those “affiliate links” are links to the mentioned product or service that let the business site know who referred you to their site.  It doesn’t have to be sleazy or sales-y.  In fact, you are most likely clicking on that link to find out more info about that said product or service.  And if the blogger didn’t link to it, you’d be doing a google search to find out more information!  So not only did that blogger just save you a ton of research, but they *might* be making a small “thanks” commission from the business. NOT FROM YOU.  Which they wouldn’t have gotten if you had spent an hour google searching.  Win-win.

So you are simply giving the blogger a small “thank you” commission without ever paying them anything — that’s the business’s job (to pay their referrers for bringing them traffic to their site).  So be a doll and click all the links.  It’s free for you and it helps support your favorite bloggers!

Plus, most bloggers (myself VERY much included) live by the Rule: Only recommend what you, yourself, would recommend to a friend.

Using Affiliate Link Funds

I’d love to hear what you use your Affiliate Link Funds for!  Tell me all about it in the comments below!
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Sticking to a Budget

Because I suck at doing it.  But so far, 2 weeks in, I haven’t broken it yet!  Which, sadly, is a success over previous years.

So far I think the best “trick” that’s worked for me is setting up different “accounts” within my bank account (all under the same number) and labeling them based on what their sum is used for.  Previously the “Envelop System” that everyone (myself included) loves just wasn’t working for things like MOST of our bills: recurring, electronic bills.  And I got flustered, confused, and frustrated so I’d give up when something would go through that threw off my budget.

Not this year!  We’ve been over on one or two hindsight expenses, but I’m not letting that deter me.  I’ll use the “extra” money I made teaching this month and keep chugging.  Noted and adapt for next month.

4 Strategies to STICK TO A BUDGET & Pay off Debt

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Sausage Gravy + Biscuits: Soy/Dairy/Egg Free

This was one of those ah-ha moments.  Twice.  

First when I realized, duh, I can eat meat; I don’t have to abstain from this favorite breakfast meal because I had Rice Milk to sub for cow’s milk.

And, Two, when I discovered Coconut Oil for better vegan biscuits.  🙂 🙂 🙂

Thus was reborn my Favorite Breakfast:

Sausage Gravy + Biscuits

Soy/Dairy/Egg Free Sausage Gravy & Biscuits

1 lb. Bob Evans Sausage roll, original

1/4 cup (give or take) all-purpose King Arthur flour

Rice Milk

Brown the sausage in a skillet – we like to use our Cast Iron skillet – and once it is all cooked, sprinkle on the flour and really coat the ground sausage.  Both the meat and the pan should look pretty dry.  

Then pour in enough milk to cover the bottom of the pan.  Stir the meat until it starts to thicken into a sauce.  If it is too thick, add some more milk, about 1/8 cup of milk at a time.  Stir some more after each addition until you get a nice consistency.  

basic biscuits

Quick Bread Biscuits: Richer Biscuits

2 cups flour (I love King Arthur all-purpose flour)

3 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

6 Tbs coconut oil

1 cup Rice Milk

Measure out coconut oil and microwave it for 30 seconds or until it is very soft.  Add dry ingredients and “cut in” dry with the oil.  Then mix in the milk.

Drop by spoonfuls onto greased (or silicone mat lined) cookie sheets and bake at 450*F for 12 minutes.  Makes about 20 biscuits.

I haven’t perfected the order of cooking and baking yet, but I’d wager a guess to mix up the biscuits first and get them in the oven before you start the sausage.  That way the biscuits are coming out of the oven and cooling while you are making the gravy.

Serve two biscuits in a bowl with sausage gravy poured over top.  Enjoy!


I love to hear your thoughts;  What is your favorite breakfast recipe?  Have you found a way to make it safe for your diet restrictions?  Links to relevant info are welcome in the comments.  
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How We Make Money Buying Online

There are so many different sites now that promise to save or make you money “all within the comfort of your own home” that it can be extremely hard to find the right one(s) for you.

I know I have always been a penny-pincher, trying to maximize my savings whenever I have to purchase something (discount price? coupon? rebate? reward points?).  So when I came across Ebates and I realized how easy it was to MAKE money every time I shopped online; I was hooked.  My first check in the mail was $11!!  YES! They send you a CHECK.  That you can CASH!  

I quickly started formulating how to purchase everything online so that I could make money on each purchase (groceries? clothes? household products? home construction supplies?).  

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How to Print Coupons on Swagbucks

My favorite way to use Swagbucks is to print grocery coupons (you get 10 points for every coupon redeemed) and when shopping online at stores that aren’t available through Ebates or Upromise (cash back on purchases).

Then I redeem Swagbucks (points) for gift cards; mostly Amazon and a few clothing stores like Old Navy.

How to Print Coupons to Earn Gift cards
How to Print Coupons to Earn Gift cards

To print, you’ll need to download + install their printer driver in order to your selected print coupons. 

Then the best strategy is to wait and match them with the best sales at Kroger, Meijer, etc. to maximize your savings.

Printing Swagbucks Coupons

When do Swagbucks credit to my account?  

I like to count ahead (up to 12 weeks they say – yikes!!) and put a reminder on my Google calendar to double-check that my points credited to my account (and how many I’m supposed to be getting).  10 cents per coupon adds up!  

If it helps, color code your coupons when you’re printing them (use a colored marker and just put a little check mark on the corner so you know which ones came from Swagbucks when you use them at the checkout so you can transfer that mark to your receipt.  Then when you get home, transfer the number of Swag coupons used to your calendar reminder).  This is obviously obsessive, but if you’re worried they aren’t crediting your account, this way you’ll know!


Use those points toward gift cards (you select the gift cards to redeem your points and then Swagbucks sends you a gift card code to your email in a day or two) toward purchases – amazon membership, online in-store pickup orders, gifts for holidays/birthdays, etc.  Basically anything you’d use gift cards for.

Using your coupons at the grocery store = just like any other printed or clipped coupon!

Great Day no credit card

What money-saving strategies do you use?  I’d love to hear all your suggestions + tips in the comments below!  
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Basic Vegan Biscuits

These biscuits were my first attempt with coconut oil.  The flaky texture and perfect, delicious flavor had me hooked from the first bite.  Or rather, from the first lick of the batter spoon.

This recipe is adapted from the Betty Crocker Cookbook with vegan substitutions from my new Substitutions Bible, Substituting Ingredients: The A to Z Kitchen Reference. 

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