Home(steading) Is Where The Heart Is

I’m not sure if apartment-steading is a word or not but I decided midway through putting a patch on a tiny pair of children’s undies (for the 2nd time in a week) that if it isn’t, it should be.

According to the great source of all knowledge (Wikipedia) homesteading is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency, characterized by subsistence agriculture, home preservation of food, and the small scale production of textiles, clothing, and craftwork for household use or sale”.

I’d say that sounds a bit like us. We are always striving for greater self-sufficiency. Home haircut, anyone??

Giving Mom a trim at “Outdoor Clips”

We grow and forage some of our own food (or source it from our friends with farms). We picked 38 pounds of peaches just this weekend.

We can and freeze food for winter. See…we even canned the peaches.

And craftwork -well, we did an abundance of that when our little visitor was here.

We just happen to do all these things from an apartment. So apartment-steading, that’s my new word for today.

Seriously though, Angie and I watched a video on Youtube a few days ago about a couple that had just bought a 5-acre homestead. In the video they talked about how they had practiced their homesteading skills for years before making the leap. As we sliced up 11 pounds of cucumbers to make pickles on Sunday, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Are we practicing for the day when we move to an actual piece of land? Is that what our future looks like?”

I don’t know. The thought of walking out the door and seeing a chicken instead of our annoying (and sometimes naked) neighbor does have it’s appeal. But so does not owing anyone, and right now, buying land would require debt. So we’re okay with the apartment and our efforts toward self-sustainability here, for now. Besides, we’re only limited by our imagination.

Why can’t we experiment with solar power from our patio? Or grow an entire garden from the trellis? Or start burning wood for heat? We have an actual fireplace for Pete’s sake!

Don’t have land either? What’s stopping you from honing your homesteading skills? Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Learn to cook from scratch. This is probably the best home or apartment-steading skill you can add to your repertoire.
  • Grow something, even if it’s just an herb on the windowsill.
  • Join a community garden or find a friend or family member willing to let you put a small garden in their yard.
  • Make friends with your local farmers. Not only will you have access to fresh produce, you are likely to get better deals (and sometimes even freebies).
  • Learn how to can. Up until a few years ago, we didn’t know much about canning but I promise you, if we can can, you can too!)
  • Learn to sew. Even if you’re just patching a sock, that’s one less sock you have to replace.
  • Make your own cleaning and laundry supplies.
  • Practice fixing things on your own. You can always call the repairman if it doesn’t work out.
  • Barter with your friends or neighbors.

Are you an apartment-steader? Or an urban homesteader with a small yard? What homesteading skills do you practice?

75 [Somewhat Crazy] Ways to be More Frugal

This post was originally published 2 years ago. Since that time, we’ve found a few new (and yes, still somewhat crazy) ways to be even more frugal. I thought I’d share again while we recover from an almost non-stop 2-week adventure with our great niece. Enjoy!


A few days ago I was skimming a post in one of the Facebook groups that I belong to. The question posed was “What frugal things do you do that your friends consider crazy?” As I read a few of the comments, I got to thinking – with few exceptions, we do just about everything that was listed – so we must be crazy frugal after all!

From the comments and from our own brainstorming exercise, Angie and I compiled a list of 75 somewhat crazy ways to be more frugal. They are in no particular order. We put an asterisk (*) by the ones we currently do or have done in the past. How many do you do? What did we miss that should be added to the list?

  1. Split or share meals at restaurants*
  2. Drink water at restaurants instead of purchasing a drink*
  3. Use family cloth instead of toilet paper
  4. Stop wearing make-up*
  5. Learn how to give haircuts at home*
  6. Re-use baggies and containers (Ziploc, plastic grocery bags, bread bags, etc.)*
  7. Shower less often*
  8. Reuse bath towels for several days*
  9. Shred newspaper to use as cat litter
  10. Make your own cleaners and laundry soap*
  11. Use a wool dryer ball instead of dryer sheets*
  12. Wear clothes for multiple days*
  13. Hand wash dishes*
  14. Swap out your light bulbs for CFLs or LEDs*
  15. Borrow books, movies, and music from your local library*
  16. Dumpster dive*
  17. Hang clothes outside to dry
  18. Buy clothing and household goods from thrift stores (or garage sales)*
  19. Take extra condiments and/or napkins from fast food restaurants*
  20. Raise the thermostat to 78 degrees in the summer and lower it to 68 degrees in the winter*
  21. Open windows and use fans (when possible)*
  22. Couchsurf or tent camp (for vacations)*
  23. Use only prepaid, no-contract cell phones*
  24. Cut cable*
  25. Use newspaper or color-print ads for wrapping paper*
  26. Make your own gifts for the holidays*
  27. Use the backside of printed pages for scrap paper/post-it notes*
  28. Refill ink cartridges*
  29. Recycle birthday and/or Christmas cards into holiday postcards*
  30. Pick up change*
  31. Skip using deodorant or shampoo (or make your own)
  32. Walk, bike, take the bus or carpool
  33. Create a meal plan and shop your own pantry first*
  34. Cook at home*
  35. Grow your own food*
  36. Use veggie scraps to make your own broth*
  37. Turn bread scraps into breadcrumbs or croutons*
  38. Compost*
  39. Buy in bulk (when possible)*
  40. Join a CSA farm-share program*
  41. Visit a U-pick farm (not only are the fruits and veggies super fresh, they are usually cheaper)*
  42. Use coupons*
  43. Drive a used car*
  44. Use cloth menstrual pads or a menstrual cup
  45. Use the internet at free WiFi spots*
  46. Use cloth diapers
  47. Make your own toothpaste*
  48. Put an empty quart jar in your toilet tank to save water during flushes*
  49. Wear mismatched socks and gloves (ones that have lost their mates)
  50. Reuse tea bags or coffee grounds*
  51. Pay cash for all purchases
  52. Take your lunch to work*
  53. Ditch your microwave (and convenience foods)*
  54. Exercise at home (bonus points for using canned goods as hand weights)*
  55. Go for a hike or walk*
  56. Get a free pass to try out a local gym or YMCA
  57. Eat less meat*
  58. Shop the day-old rack for discounted breads and pastries*
  59. Barter with or borrow from your neighbor*
  60. Glean untended fruit trees or gardens in your neighborhood*
  61. Take water and snacks with you whenever you leave the house*
  62. Use the ice machine at hotels to refill water bottles or small coolers on road trips (even when you didn’t stay at the hotel)*
  63. Enjoy free entertainment in your community (festivals, concerts/movies in the park, etc.)*
  64. Upcycle mesh produce bags into pot scrubbers and bath puffs*
  65. Use reward apps like Shopkick to earn gift cards for gas or groceries*
  66. Learn to make simple home repairs on your own*
  67. Take advantage of free trials of entertainment apps (like Netflix, Hulu or CBS) to catch up on your favorite shows (don’t forget to cancel before the end of the trial though!)*
  68. Borrow e-books through Lendle*
  69. Pick up hobby and craft supplies at garage sales*
  70. Learn how to effectively hack your credit card reward programs*
  71. Buy gift cards to places you visit often when they are offering bonus offers (like Panera’s recent buy $50, get $10 free)*
  72. Change banks to earn new customer cash rewards*
  73. Freeze your credit report to discourage opening new accounts*
  74. Take advantage of free preventative health screenings and health fairs*
  75. Stop shopping online*