FAQ

I receive questions on a regular basis from you, my dear readers, and since a couple of questions make their way into my email inbox astoundingly often, I thought it would be handy to publish a page with the answers to those questions.

Where is your homemade yogurt recipe?

It’s right here, and if you’d like, you can also read about why I bother making yogurt. Still want more? Read about why I don’t think you have to make yogurt.

What kind of camera do you use?

I own a Canon EOS Rebel camera body, which is an entry-level SLR camera and a Canon 7D. I shoot with two different lenses: a Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM and a Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM Standard Zoom Lens for Canon SLR Cameras

Most of the photos on this blog are taken with the 50mm f1.4 because it’s light, convenient, and works fabulously in low light. I really cannot recommend this lens highly enough.

If there’s anything I’ve learned over the past 5 years or so, though, it’s that knowing how to use your equipment is even more important than having good equipment. So, take heart if you only own a cheap point and shoot, and take a peek through the series of tips about how to improve your photography without buying any new gear.

I want to blog! Can you help me get started? What software/hosting do you use?

I blog on WordPress, and I will never, ever use any other blogging software. WordPress totally rocks, and if you get serious with blogging, odds are good that you’ll end up on WordPress anyway. So, you might as well start there!

The Frugal Girl is hosted on one of Dreamhost’s private servers. Dreamhost is really easy to use…seriously, when I started out, I had noooo clue what I was doing, and I managed to get things up and running (you can install WordPress on your site with a single click!).

(By the way, if you use the code FRUGALGIRL when you sign up with Dreamhost, you can get $20 off your hosting.)

You might want to browse through my posts about blogging if you want to read some of my thoughts and tips on the topic.

How did you grow your blog?

I wish I had some magic formula to share here, but I don’t. My blog’s growth hasn’t been the result of a well-executed strategy. Mainly, I’ve focused on producing good content and on interacting with my readers and the growth has just sort of happened. Word-of-mouth has played a large part in its growth, and for that, I’m grateful to my readers.

If you’re a brand new blogger, though, I would recommend commenting on other blogs in your niche. Leave your blog address in the comment form so that your name is clickable.

Also, participating in blog carnivals and memes in your niche (Food Waste Friday is an example of a niche meme) is a good idea.

Does your grocery budget include all of your meals? What about toiletries and cleaning supplies?

Yes, indeed. My grocery budget covers food for all of our meals (we eat out only rarely, so usually I’m buying food for 21 meals a week), our cleaning supplies, and our toiletries.

Here’s how I save money on groceries without using coupons.

My bread didn’t turn out right. Can you help me?

Bread baking is a tad bit difficult to learn from a recipe book or a blog, but you might find it helpful to read my posts about gluten and about kneading (even better, find someone in real life to show you how to knead. That’s how I learned!). Though situations vary, most bread failures are a result of poor kneading, or from adding too much flour.

My post about troubleshooting yeast bread problems might be helpful in diagnosing your particular problem.

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Do keep at it, though…bread making skills are something that improve with practice.

If you’re new at yeast baking, you might want to try starting out with something fairly simple, like no-knead English Muffin bread, French bread, dinner rolls, or thin-crust pizza (most pizza recipes are pretty forgiving, actually).

Will you marry me/come cook for me?

Nope. In case you missed it, I am already happily hitched to my very handsome husband (who is very happy to be hitched to me, thank goodness!), so you will have to find someone else to bless you with homebaked bread. ;)

How do you grind your own wheat?

I use a Whisper Mill, which makes wheat grinding as simple as turning a switch. Whisper Mill is no longer in business, but the Wonder Mill Grain Grinder, which is almost exactly the same, is now available.

I buy my wheat in 50 pound bags from Quail Cove Farms.

I grind my wheat flour not because it’s necessarily cheaper, but because the flour is fresher than the stuff you can buy at the store.

What bread pan/baking sheet do you recommend?

My favorite loaf pans are from Williams-Sonoma’s GoldTouch line. I own 3 of the 1-pound pans and 3 of the 1.5-pound pans. They’re expensive, but I slowly accumulated my collection over numerous birthdays and Christmases. I think they’re totally worth the money because the nonstick coating works fabulously, holds up incredibly well, and because the pans distribute heat so evenly.

My favorite baking sheet is the Vollrath Co. Cookie Sheet . These pans aren’t cheap ($28 at Amazon at the time of this writing), but my goodness! They are so heavy-duty, they’re worth every penny. I can’t imagine them ever warping. Plus, they don’t have that stupid air-bake feature (I hate that!) and they don’t have a dark nonstick finish (hate that too! It burns the bottoms of my breads and cookies). If you like to bake, save up your money or put these on your Christmas list. You won’t regret buying them.

Why is your diet not perfect?

(this question takes a lot of forms, such as “Why do you eat cereal? Why don’t you eat more produce? Why do you buy white flour? Why don’t you eat more rice and potatoes? Why do you eat meat? Why don’t you eat organic?)

Though I’ve never made the claim that we eat super-nutritiously, I think that this is still a somewhat relevant question because really, what is the point of spending a mere pittance on groceries if the food you eat isn’t nutritious? You can save a lot of money by subsisting on Ramen and boxed mac ‘n cheese, but I don’t think a diet like that is healthy.

On the other hand, we’d all probably agree that an organic, locally produced, unrefined diet is highly desirable, and yet, few of us have the cash to support that kind of diet (myself included!). So I’m doing what a lot of people are doing, which is simply doing the best that I can without driving myself nuts and spending like crazy.

I buy organic occasionally, I buy some local food, I try to buy unprocessed foods whenever possible, I try to include plenty of raw produce in our diets, and I try to cook mostly from scratch. However, we do eat some white flour and white sugar, we probably don’t eat as many vegetables as is ideal, and we sometimes eat grapes from Chile. ;)

So, yes, we don’t eat a perfect diet, but I don’t think our diets are an abysmal failure either. If your resources and preferences balance out in ways that are different from ours and you eat more nutritiously than we do, I think that’s awesome. Go for it, and I hope that you experience good health as a result! But for us, our current diet is the appropriate balance between cost and the ideal diet, at least at this point in time.

How do you keep your house so clean?

First off, you should know that my house is probably not as clean as you think it is. I do hate clutter and I do work hard to keep my house fairly neat, but if you imagine that my house looks magazine-clean in every room all the time, you need to adjust that picture in your head!

There are always messes somewhere in my house, there’s always dust somewhere, there’s always some closet/cabinet clutter, and there are definitely toys on the floor somewhere.

My house is not an unmitigated disaster, though, and here are a few things that help me keep it from getting super-duper out of control.

  • We don’t own tons of stuff. More stuff=more potential mess=more time cleaning up
  • We clean up regularly. Pretty much every day, in fact. A little every day is better than a lot done every now and then. Maintenance, baby!
  • I make storage solutions simple and kid-accessible. Bins and drawers have simple categorizations, like Legos, Dress-Up, Stuffed Animals, and so on.

How do you get so much done?

Ooh! I wrote a whole series on that, so go read through the Productivity category to see all my thoughts on that topic.

Are you a Mormon/LDS?

Nope! In a nutshell, I believe that I was dead in my sins, completely and utterly unable to save myself, that the Holy Spirit regenerated my heart and made me willing to trust in Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for my salvation. I believe that Jesus’ work on the cross was completely sufficient for my salvation…I can do nothing to save myself or to maintain my state of salvation. I trust that Jesus did it all for me, and I believe that there is nothing I can to do make God love me more or less than he already does because of Jesus.

So, I love my husband and serve my family not because I’m trying to be a “good Christian” but because I love God (how could you not love someone who relentlessly loves you even when you sin?). I work hard, try to put others first, try to be a good steward of my money and of the environment, and try to love others the way Jesus loves me not because I am earning something or maintaining my good standing with God…I seek after those things because I trust that the way God has told me to live is the best way.

And when I fail at serving God and doing what He wants me to do, I am comforted to know that there’s grace for that. Jesus already paid the debt for all of my sins, past, present, and future, so I don’t have to dwell in misery and guilt.

My faith in Jesus is the heartbeat of my life…it is what makes me tick. The Frugal Girl is first and foremost a child of God, and if you took that away, nothing would be the same.

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Want more Q&A with me? Browse through the Q&A post archives or if you have a question, send me an email (thefrugalgirl {at} gmail {dot} com) with “Q&A” in the subject line. I can’t answer every email I receive, but I do read every last one of them, and I try to respond to most of them.

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