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Cheap Tricks

No, not the band… our life! I’ve always been frugal, but not perfectly so. I joked that I use to work so I could afford to hire a maid. I’d often go to Target to shop for things I didn’t need, cause, well they were on SALE! I think I’ve gotten even better at being thrifty.

Cannot people realize how large an income is thrift? ~Cicero

Now I have more motivation for saving money, I’m not making any. That coupled with our desire to ‘get off the grid’ (not have to rely on the electric company for power). Number one goal is to use LESS electricity. We have; no HVAC (heating or air conditioning), a tiny cabin (760 sq ft), a well for our water, propane fuels our oven, water heater and soon our dryer. We don’t even have a garbage fee because what we don’t burn we just take to the local dumpster. By next summer we hope to have 100 solar panels in place, that along with a generator and a battery backup system we’ll pay ZERO for electricity. YeeHowdy!

Those are all ‘big things’ and will help us become more self-sufficient. In the ‘cheap tricks’ department, we have a few. We love to eat and drink, who doesn’t? One of our favorite meals is a big baked potato (this IS Idaho, doncha know) topped with carmelized onions. Here is how we do it using our wood burning stove. Rub the taters with olive oil, sprinkle seasoning salt on them, wrap in foil then Lance puts them in the wood burning stove (which is our only source of heat). I chop up onions (3 or 4 big ones) drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, put in crock pot ceramic bowl, cover and forget about for a day while they slow cook on top of the wood burning stove. The result is the sweetest tasting onions on top of the perfectly baked tater. YUM!
We love our onions!

Cheap date tricks. Lance I both enjoy red wine, to a fault at times ;-). I use to think I drank cheap wine UNTIL I found even cheaper wine! Boxed wine, yep, Franzia. You’ve got to hunt for it, they put it on the bottom shelf, in hopes that you’ll choose the more expensive bottles at eye level. We get 5 liters of red zinfandel for $12. That works out to less than 2 dollars a bottle! Plus we can burn the box in the wood stove, creating more heat!

I can’t remember the last time we went to a theater for a movie date (I’m sure I had discounted tickets tho and smuggled in my own candy). We don’t even have cable TV here, so Netflix provides many evenings worth of entertainment! Heck, looking at the sky each day and night provides us with great amusement. I guess a big part of the enjoyment is liking who you’re with, that’s kind of important!

We don’t belong to a gym, but our life provides many opportunities for a work out. Activities that are purposeful are my favorite, a 2 mile hike to the mailbox, toting wood, shoveling snow, all provide plenty of cardio and muscle building.

We don’t live by candlelight, but that sounds romantic. We do have low watt LED bulbs in our lamps, using only 9.5 watts. I’ve always hated harsh bright lights. Think about it, the house looks cleaner when the lights aren’t so bright, spills on your shirt are less evident and who doesn’t look better in dim lighting 😉

Did you know they have easy ways to make ice cream at home (not the loud, rock salt process of our youth) Along with the ice cream machine you only need milk, sugar and vanilla. Have you ever doctored up your own frozen pizza at a fraction of what Papa Johns wants for it. My favorite days to shop for candy are the day after a holiday, you can get some seriously good chocolates for 1/2 price. Frozen veggies are not only cheaper, they’ve been proven healthier because they’re frozen at their peak of freshness, not picked too early so they can be shipped across the country.

We’ve got a ways to go and I’ve got much to learn. I suck at making bread. I’d love to find an easy/tasty chip recipe. Hopefully next summer we’ll have our own chickens and some sort of a garden in containers. Since I don’t want a cow or goats, I guess I need to wean myself from loving dairy so much.

We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness – and call it love – true love. ~Robert Fulghum

Our lifestyle isn’t for everyone, heck, I don’t know many who’d enjoy it as much as we do. But I’d like to leave you with my favorite cheap trick, find someone who you love being with and has the same aim here on earth. Your life will be an enjoyable adventure, even when you’re doing nothing, together.



About Lets Go To Idaho

Me, Mare, empty nester, flew the coop (& heat) of Alabama and landed in northern Idaho. Bought a house without setting foot in the state. This blog was created in the summer of 2011, as my beau, Lance and I were packing to move to north... Many things, big and small, have happened since that blistering hot July in Bama when I began this blog. Read about our whirlwind adventures. Our real life love story. The good, the bad, the silly and the crazy things that happen to us.

2 responses »

  1. I, for one, love your cheap tricks! 🙂 I am always looking for ways to save $$$$$. The baked potato and carmelized onions sounds divine. I am on a baked sweet potato kick … wonder how the onions would taste on one of those? Hmm. Anywho, it sounds like you guys have it all figured out up there. And, btw, if that pic of you is recent …. man, you are looking more youthful and radiant than ever!!

  2. Yes! That is a gorgeous photo! I am jealous. (of the photo and the path you’ve found, but sure glad for you that you’ve found it!) It is inspiring to know and read the blog of someone who has gotten it figured out so truly.


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