Frugal Fire Building For Backyard Fires

How to build a fire for your backyard enjoyment
As I'm catching up reading my RSS feeds on Netvibes, DH is out splitting some Oak for our fire wood pile. A cold front moved through yesterday bringing temps down near sixty, which is a nice temp for a fire. Having a fire pit, chiminea or fireplace is a great, frugal way to enjoy some time with friends, or enjoy time outside when its nice. Anyone can safely have a fire in your backyard if you follow some simple procedures.

1. Location
Select a place for your fire that is safely distant from overhanging trees, at least ten feet away from your home or any other building, and away from electric, cable or telephone lines overhead.

2. Prepare Your Site
If you are building a fire in a fire pit or chiminea, be sure the bed of the container is dry. If you have wet ashes on the bottom they will heat up and steam and make any fire smokey. If you have dry ashes, leave them in the bed to help your fire stabilize and burn more clean.

3. Gather Materials
We always build our fire in layers, and in a Teepee shape. Gather newspaper, dry leaves, dry tinder and sticks, small wood logs and then larger firewood. If you plan to have a fire for four or more hours, you'll need at least a dozen pieces of firewood. If you have fires regularly, you'll want to keep a container of dry leaves, a container of dry sticks, twigs and branches, and a container of small wood splits. Your firewood should be moved out of the elements several days prior to burning so you are sure it is completely dry.

4. Build Your Fire
We always build TeePee shape fires with plenty of air space between the layers and the wood. Air is important to help the flames reach higher for more wood to burn. It's a good way to use up those extra Sunday newspapers as a bed to start your fire, and then scavenge around the yard for some dry leaves, tinder sticks and small branches for a layer that will start easily beneath your larger logs.

5. Feed Your Fire
Your fire will burn best if you leave it alone. Light the paper on the bottom from a few different areas and let it reach up to burn the next layer above it. It will be smoky at first, but within 5 minutes or when the newspaper is burned up, you should have a smoke free fire if your materials were sufficiently dry. If your fire goes out right away, get something stiff like cardboard and "fan" the fire to get the embers to relight. If that doesn't work, get some more dry tinder and just put a couple on a time. Your teepee will collapse as it burns, so you can gently add another log to perpendicular to the layer of logs currently burning. Your criss cross pattern will help the air flow through the fire and keep it burning.

6. When Your Fire Is Over
When its about an hour before you want to end your fire, start winding down on the size of the wood you are adding. We usually wind down our fires by putting on only bark scraps (from splitting wood) on the fire. Bark will be smokey, but burns quickly and gives flames and heat. If you have a nice bed of embers you can easily burn bark. You may even want to strip your firewood  before you burn it so you can save the bark for the end of the fire. If you have a reliable fire pit, you do not need to douse your finished fire with water. Just let it burn out naturally. If you have a screen cover, you should cover it at the end of the evening.

7. Safety
Don't use any combustible fluids like lighter fluid or gasoline to fuel your fire, that is extremely dangerous. Don't play with the fire by poking sticks around too much or letting children play with the fire. Be aware of where your nearest water source is, and have a bucket or container located so you could stop any wayward flames. Do not leave your fire unattended or out of your sight.


My Publix Trip - Real Life Eating

Publix Shop 103113
Publix Shop Spent $12, Saved $92
I was disappointed to find there were no Dove Stylers because of the stacking MQ + PQ deal, but I'm not surprised. I don't really expect to find any throughout the sale which ends on the 8th of November. I did bring along my expired coupons because this store accepts manufacture coupons up to 30 days expired, so I was able to get a good deal on the Muller yogurt and the Yakisoba noodles. Most of the overage from the Winn Dixie coupon went toward Tostitos which we have been wanting for a while, and this is the first sale.

I split my orders to use an extra $5 off $30 Winn Dixie, but my second order was pretty big OOP. I really have been wanting some glass bowls with lids so I thought I'd get some of the snapware using my expired coupons. I think I'm going to be disappointed that the lids don't really click on very snug though, and may return them.

Got the picture set up late since we just ran quick to the store before going out for Halloween. There were a lot a things in this trip that we use regularly and just don't have great deals so it cost a little more. Anyway, this shop was kind of expensive for us, but we've had a few promotions lately and got Publix gift cards, so we used those. In trip one, I spent $1.84, saved 37.70 (96% savings), and trip 2 spent $10.22, saved $53.99 (84.85% savings).

I'm excited to say I also received my pink P&G pancake cookware set today! I also got my own URL, so follow me there!


Happy Halloween

Have fun this Halloween, but please be safe.

I just got my personalized link for so follow me there!

My Publix Trip - Saved Over 99%

The trip to Publix this week was to get some produce for salads, and to use a couple more Publix coupons that expire today - the vitamins, corn dogs and mentos deal. The store manager was nice enough to let me use more than one Corn Dog coupon per transaction because she thinks the coupons are getting too restrictive. What a pleasant surprise. I spent $0.38 and saved $51.07, for a savings of over 99%.

Planning a Trip. Should You Drive or Fly?

Driving or Flying? That's the question we asked ourselves as we decided to visit a friend in Charlotte, North Carolina. It actually wasn't that hard of a decision for us to choose to drive our car from central Florida, for a variety of reasons. Which is the point of this article, to help you decide based on your priorities and situation, because of course it makes a difference. Here are questions to ask yourself to determine if you should drive or fly -
  1. How long would it take to drive there vs fly? Generally I like the time at the event to be twice the time it takes to commute (E > 2T). For example, if I want to go to a concert in a different city that is 90 minutes away driving (2 x 90 min = 3 hrs), and the concert will last from 7 pm to 11 pm (4 hrs) then I would consider it. But if it took longer to commute somewhere than I would be staying, I would probably not go. So, likewise with a trip across the country. Driving to NC took 9 hours x 2, so 18 hrs. We stayed from Thur evening to Sunday morning so it was over a 50 hour visit. Making the drive worth it.
  2. Do you have more than one driver, do you have pets, elderly passengers or children that may not handle a long drive well? Another consideration, but these types of passengers may not fly well either, so cost may be more of a factor. But driving allows you to stop more frequently and tend to any needs that develop.
  3. Calculate the cost of fuel vs flight costs. This is a no brainer, but the more passengers you have the cheaper it will cost to travel. If you don't have a travel worthy vehicle, you could consider renting one for the trip and calculating the cost too. Again, more passengers will probably steer you to drive.
  4. Will you need transportation at your destination? Most people do, unless you are going to a conference in one location the entire time. But then you are probably going solo and flying would be cheaper too.
  5. I don't generally consider the wear and tear on a car since they last forever even with high miles if you care for it properly. Our Camry is ten years old and just rolled over 90K on our trip. We will probably keep it another ten years and it still will have lots of life left at that point. But, if you like to trade in cars, or lease them you need to consider wear and tear for driving trips.
  6. Another consideration is the amount of possessions you will bring with you on your trip. If you are bringing some of your stockpile to save on food and beverage costs, you probably want to drive. If you can travel light with just one bag (and bring twice as much cash), you could do better to drive.

My Walmart Publix BOGO Chicken Price Match Trip

Wow. What an experience. I probably wouldn't normally recommend anyone shop at Wal-Mart to get a deal if it wasn't such a good deal. This week (10/17/13 - 10/23/13) Publix has boneless, skinless chicken breasts on BOGO for $4.69/lb. But Wal-Mart has the same boneless, skinless chicken breasts for $1.99/lb. And they will price match BOGO deals in Florida, so I thought I would give it a try.

We found nice big 5 lb packages that ranged in price from nine to ten dollars per pack. Wal-Mart lets  you do two deals per BOGO, so me and DH each got 4 packs of chicken. The thing to keep in mind is that they will charge you for the two most expensive packages and then you get the two cheaper ones for free. I thought they would pair the ten dollar packs BOGO, and then pair the nine dollar packs BOGO, but no they didn't.

Before we even went on this shopping odessy, I called the store and got put on hold four different calls. Finally, I talked to a manager and they said yes they would do the deal, just bring in the ad. So we went prepared for an easy deal. But no. It doesn't work that way at Wal-Mart. And don't bother to call Corporate (479-273-4000 ask for priority assistance to get customer assistance immediately) because the person on the phone will say that the manager can decide to do anything they want. So we knew we didn't have an ally in Corporate (the total opposite of Publix), so we resorted to being really nice and patient.

Our cashier was nice and competent, except the computer doesn't know how to ring up free BOGO meat, or variable price packages. So she went to get help. And more help. It took about 5 Wal-Mart supervisors and managers to void about a dozen tries before they finally did it the "old way" - whatever that way is. So thirty minutes later, with salmonella growing on our warm chicken we finally walked away with 38 lbs of chicken for $38, for a final cost of $1/lb. The same amount of chicken would have cost $89 at Publix on BOGO.

In the end, I'm glad I got my chicken. I paid half of what it would have cost me at Zaycon. But it took a lot of time and patience. Wal-Mart is going to have to work on this. I think an email to will be necessary to let then know how frustrating this experience was.

So, if you're feeling brave and want to try this deal, I recommend calling ahead and getting the managers name and approval for the deal. And be prepared to wait while they figure it out.

Good Luck

Running Out? Run In at Publix #MyBlogSpark

From October 9th through October 25th you can take advantage of great savings on some of your favorite brands from General Mills and Procter & Gamble, like Yoplait, Totino’s, Charmin and Crest. What’s great is that when you buy $30 of participating items in one shopping trip you can mail in to receive a $10 Publix gift card to use on your next shopping trip!

PARTICIPATING PRODUCTS: Immaculate Baking® Honestly Delicious; Yoplait® Go-GURT® (8ct, assorted varieties); Gain Laundry Detergent (100oz, assorted varieties); Old El Paso® Dinner Kits (assorted varieties); Totino's®Party Pizza® (assorted varieties); Dawn® Dish Detergent (20-24oz bottle, assorted varieties); Betty Crocker®Hamburger Helper® (assorted varieties); Suddenly Pasta Salad® (assorted varieties); Charmin®Basic Bathroom Tissue (12 double roll pkg, assorted varieties); Pampers® Diapers (Jumbo, assorted varieties); Green Giant®Canned Vegetables (4pk, assorted varieties); Crest® Toothpaste (8.2oz, assorted varieties); Herbal Essences® (6.0 -11.7oz, assorted varieties) and Vidal Sassoon® Shampoo/Conditioner (12oz, assorted varieties); Tide® Pods (18ct, assorted varieties)

Head over to the Running Out? Run In. page to download your rebate form.

Make sure you “Like” Publix on Facebook to keep up with all the latest promotions.

Disclosure: The information and prize pack have been provided by General Mills through MyBlogSpark.

New Printable Coupons - Glade, Covergirl

Food + Beverages
Personal Care
In the Home

How To Spend Less At Your Pet's Vet

My dog's allergy medication was running low so I had to schedule a visit to the veterinarian so they could poke and pinch her a little before they would renew her prescription. I personally hate having to visit the doctor when I'm healthy and well, and I don't like doing it for my pet either. They insisted she needed a visit which would cost about $56 just for the exam, plus more.

Well, I loaded up all her meds we would want a prescription for - her allergy pills, flea and heartguard stuff, and some ointment for occasional ear infections. When we got there, the vet of course wanted to give us an estimate for an oral tooth cleaning, some unneeded shots, a fecal parasite test, a heartworm test and a senior dog blood profile to check her organs. We declined the tooth cleaning and blood profile right off since those would cost hundreds each alone. They came back in the room with a printed estimate of $440 for the visit for a perfectly healthy dog. It really pissed me off. When I asked if any of them were required for her health and well being, or for her prescriptions the answer was no. How about that, they wanted to have us pay hundreds of dollars for tests that would not lead to any diagnosis or health improvement.

They also put the three medications we wanted on the "estimate" and they charged double the price of my online vet pharmacy I use ( I was going to concede and get the ear ointment at the vet since it was only $47, but when I quickly looked it up using my smartphone I discovered it was only $25 at the online pharmacy. The vet also wanted $113 for some pills that I can get online for $56. I told them I wanted paper prescriptions and to please fax them to my online vet pharmacy, since I had the order on hold pending their Rx.

We ended up paying $93 for the visit, which is a far cry from over $400. Here are my tips to save money at the vet:
  1. Just because a vet offers or recommends a service does not mean your dog needs it. You can brush your dogs teeth at home with a soft moistened cloth with baking soda. Ask the doctor if the recommended service is required. If it's not, don't do it.
  2. If you never board your dog, you don't need a lot of those shots. We decline all shots except Rabies.
  3. You don't need to get heartworm or fecal parasite tests. Give your dog Revolution which has heartworm and flea protectants together in one application. You can tell if your dog gets worms by looking at its poo when you clean it up outside. There are over the counter meds to control it if it is a problem.
  4. The older your dog is, the more dangerous it is to do surgery or sedate them for procedures. Consider the risk and reward of the process. Our dog is 13 years old and has fatty deposits under her skin that are more noticeable. They are harmless and certainly not worth sedation and surgery to do a biopsy to find out they are benign.
  5. Get all prescriptions written out and fax them to an outside online vet pharmacy to save money. Your vet will charge double the price of an online pharmacy. Sometimes, your vet will prescribe a simple antiobiotic ointment or pill that you can even get for free from Publix.
  6. Make sure your pet is clean and brushed, with trimmed nails and clean ears and eyes when you bring it to the vet. It will demonstrate that you care properly for your pet and you won't have them offering to bath, trim or clean your dog at their high prices. 
  7. Do not buy any products from your vet, they are all double the price of an online pharmacy. You can get the same products online.
  8. Keep your pet healthy and well, feeding it good food, and doing mini checkups at home (check paws, trim nails or hair, clean ears, eyes, mouth, teeth, brush hair, check for lumps) regularly so you can monitor if an issue is getting better or worse. Get treatment before it becomes an emergency which are very expensive visits.
A healthly pet is a happy pet, and will greet you warmly every time you walk in the house.

Join Yoplait in The Fight Against Breast Cancer #MyBlogSpark

Who doesn't know someone who has suffered from breast cancer? Hardly anyone. Even with all the awareness and charitable programs, it continues to affect way too many people. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This year, General Mills and Yoplait lead the campaign where people are being asked to participate in Pledge Your Part, a new online initiative designed to encourage and empower them to make a pledge to help fight breast cancer, whether through saving lids, participating in a breast cancer awareness event, or in any way they choose.

Saving Lids to Save Lives is where you can go to submit your pink lid codes and pledge your part to fight breast cancer. For 15 years this program has donated millions of dollars to the breast cancer cause - one lid at a time. General Mills will donate ten cents to Susan G Komen for each lid received  by 6/30/2014.

The following items are currently on sale at Publix® as part of the Yoplait Saving Lids to Save Lives event.
  • $1 off any one Large Size, Light with Granola or GoGurt (coupon on select products and look in the new Advantage Buy Flyer for BOGO Publix coupon 10/5 - 10/25) - 10/2 - 10/18
  • 20 for $10 on Yoplait Core cup - (10/3 - 10/9 current ad)
  • Light with Granola BOGO - 10/5 - 10/25 (look for BOGO PQ couponin Flyer)
• Don't forget to visit Publix® website or like Publix® on Facebook, and while you're there like Frugalapolis on Facebook too!

“Disclosure: The information and prize pack have been provided by General Mills through MyBlogSpark.”