Category Archives: Do It Yourself

5 Easy Steps To Build A Chicken Coop

Keeping chickens is fast becoming one of the best ways to ensure organic, fresh food “delivered” daily to your home. The cost of keeping chickens is relatively low compared to other pets that don’t give back in the form of food and they provide hilarious entertainment for you, your family and your neighbors! My family decided chickens were a must-have to start our small urban farm so we decided to build our own coop. Little did I know how easy it would be…


happy chickens in a safe enclosure

1. When you embark on a journey like this, its important to make sure you can keep chickens in your area. This is going to depend on state, county and city laws as well as, if you rent, landlord permission. Most counties will not let you own roosters, so make sure to check the specifics. There are also usually laws regarding where you place your coop on your property.  Double and triple check!

2. You should draw up some plans. Do you want a mobile chicken coop – called a tractor – or one that is a permanent home? How many chickens do you plan on keeping and how big do you want the coop to be? What do you want to use for building materials? There are a lot of websites that have free plans for you to browse. One of the best is Backyard Chickens. They have a plethora of information about coops and chickens. For our own coop, we found a truck canopy at Goodwill for $30 that we used as the “base” (the roof) and built onto that. You could even search for “unique chicken coop images” and see all the different things others have made coops out of.

3. Next, build! Easy, right? We found some 2 X 4s and plywood and then screwed a wooden frame into the truck canopy so it was over six feet off the ground. Then, using the plywood, we built the actual henhouse under the canopy. The henhouse refers to the place where the chickens sleep at night and lay their eggs. We filled in any cracks with a foam insulate and covered the floor with a piece of linoleum for further draft protection and easy cleaning.

4. With the walls completed, we moved on to the safety of our chickens. The frame we set the canopy on is mostly 4 X 4s, very easy to staple gun chicken wire to. Make sure the chicken wire is taut and secure. Raccoons and other animals are very strong and tricky, and they want your chickens!

chicken coop

coop before decoration? or leave it old school.

5. Finally… decorate! The chickens probably don’t care what it looks like, but you do! Paint, glitter, macaroni art that coop up! Ok, maybe not macaroni… But I definitely want to see pictures of your masterpieces!

If you gather all the materials beforehand, you can kick out a quality chicken coop in one weekend. Don’t forget to have fun!

DIY: How to Self Publish Your Books

Stephen King faced over two dozen rejections before he was able to sell his first novel, Carrie, to a publisher. Frank Herbert faced the same problem with Dune. But those were the ancient days of the 20th century when using publishers was the easiest way to get you book in readers hands. There was self-publishing–Beatrice Potter self-published 250 copies of The Tale of Peter Rabbit—however, true success would only come through major publishing companies. Thankfully, self-publishing in the 21st century is a little different.

Today, self publishing is ridiculously easy. Through the use of Print-on-Demand (POD) websites like and, anyone can self publish a book. The process is not limited to novels; you can use to create photography or picture books. If your interest is less stiff book and more floppy pamphlet, use Magcloud to create your own magazine.

The greatest feature that POD offers is affordability. These companies don’t charge money to upload or store the book’s files, they only ask from money when they print a book. The neat thing about that is that it’s possible to print one book at a time. This means a writer doesn’t have to print 1000 books at a time and store them until they’re sold. Each copy is printed when it’s bought.

And these services aren’t just for amateurs; established writers are also using them. Guys like Warren Ellis, Cory Doctorow and Wil Wheaton (yeah, the guy from Stand by Me and Star Trek: TNG) are dipping their toes into the POD pool to see what all the fuss is about.

These technological innovations make the gap between author and reader smaller and smaller. Keep in mind that it’s still a relatively new service, so all the bugs haven’t been worked out. And just selling a book on the sites won’t make you an overnight phenomenon. But if you just want a copy of your novel to go on your bookshelf, this is a great thing.

Valentine’s Gifts for Him – Spoil Your Sweetie

Every year I find it more and more difficult to know what to do for my hunny on Valentine’s day.  Last year, I thought seeing a movie and dinner would be a safe play. I should have done more research before picking a flick off the marquee. Thinking I had scored by choosing an action film, after 2 ½ grueling hours watching two hikers die a slow death on the side of Eiger, dinner just wasn’t the romantic event I had imagined.

For your convenience, and mine :), I have compiled some of my male co-workers’ favorite Valentine’s gestures below. Have fun spoiling your Valentine this year!

Spend time together!
Take a hike. Go window shopping. Check out some live music. Make a Valentine’s Day scavenger hunt.

Cook him dinner …we all know food is the fastest way to your hunny’s heart 🙂
Buy a cookbook & let him pick the recipes YOU cook (maybe even for the next week)! or serve him breakfast in bed (mimosas anyone?)
With dinner, open a bottle of wine and explain why the name reminds you of him.

Make him a homemade card or present.
Include the story of how you met, your feelings then and now!
Write a top 10 list of what you adore about him, 10 things you remember about your first year together, 10 most memorable moments of your relationship, etc.  Serve together in your local community

Make a reverse BINGO blackout game.
Cover all the squares and draw  letter (row) – number (column) combinations until he guesses the message you’ve written underneath.

Pick him up at his office for lunch and surprise him with a picnic lunch in the park.

Under $30
Frame a Picture of you or one of your adventures.
Try making a collage or Memory book.  Snapfish has some great resources!

Food again…
Send him some Omaha steaks, new seasonings or specialty sausages.

Make a donation to his favorite non-profit in his name

Get him a subscription to his favorite magazine

Check out this remote control indoor helicopter for less than $30! Really, you can’t go wrong with remote control anything for guys!

Under $75
Pep up his personal computer, organizer or smart phone with fun accessories

Get his car detailed

Buy him a round of golf

Engrave his initials on a new money clip

Outerwear, Outerwear, Outerwear
We all know that boys are going to, and like to, get dirty!

Feed his habit with coffee accessories
Think mugs, grinders, and his favorite grounds

Over $75

Sports/Concert tickets
Buy him tix to go to an event with his FRIENDS (he might think it’s the best surprise…a free night out)!  Adventure gift certificates

Adrenaline is always a safe bet.
Hot air balloon or air glider rides make great gifts!

Rather than just a bottle or flask of their favorite alcohol, give the gift that keeps on giving…wine club memberships or home brew kits

Schedule a couple’s massage….because let’s be honest, he isn’t going without you to some frilly salon 🙂

Plan a weekend away to his favorite retreat
These are men. Think cabins/camping/yurts/the ground

I hope these suggestions are helpful! Let us know how you chose to celebrate this year!

Top Posts on the Green Frugal 2010

The first year of blogging on the Green Frugal has come and gone. All of us here at Cash4Books would like to thank all of our readers. We hope you have learned as much and had as much fun as we have.

In case you might have missed them, included below are our top five posts in 2010.

Here’s to 2011!

DIY Bookshelves for under $20

We love books and we love saving money. This post was a perfect combination of these two things.

How to create a romantic dinner date at home

Cash4Books president, Jim Smith, explains how he surprised his wife on their anniversary with a very special dinner date at home.

DIY How to frame autumn leaves

Beautiful and vibrant colors come to homes and neighborhoods every autumn. Finding a few leaves and preserving them, makes great gifts and adds a little spice to any room.

Fundraising with Cash4Books

No one doubts that Cash4Books can be a great way to raise money. A customer had asked us how that power can be harnessed to raise funds for great causes.

DIY Secret compartment in a book

Our very own Michael B explains how he created a super secret hiding place inside of an old textbook.

Cats break Christmas!

This was supposed to be a post about using the scrap pages (from this post) to create desktop Holiday diorama. Alas, my cats had a different idea. Fortunately, I captured events with my camera…

Behold! A fake snowman made from crumpled paper. I call him Carl. He’s such a cheerful fellow, just look at that smile!

Carl is friendly. Looks how he greets my cat Boris.

And now Herbert, my other cat, shows up. Carl is so popular!

Oh No! Carl!

Boris! What are you doing with Carl’s head?! Boris is so fast that my camera can’t keep up. He’s a lightning cat.

He’s still on the move!

Herbert has to investigate the commotion!

Herbert eyes Carl’s head. Perhaps he intends to retrieve the head and rebuild Carl. Yes, he sees that Boris has lost interest…

No it was a trick! Boris is interested.

And now, he’s standing guard! Oh Carl! You’ll never be complete again.

But wait! Herbert is attempting to be cute and draw Boris’ interest. Perhaps Carl can roll away…

No. Boris is ever watchful. Until…

he gets bored and stretches out for a nap.

Carl had to be thrown away. He was covered in cat drool. He is survived by a Festivus Pole.