Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 10, Issue 9 – April 22, 2018

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters, and Happy Earth Day!

I don’t know about you, but I feel like someone forgot to tell the month of April that they don’t need to be a drama queen about their weather. In my neighborhood, March roared around like a lion, and April followed in the same manner. My Mom sent an email to us girls with the question, “If April showers bring May flowers what do April blizzards bring?” Fortunately, for Mom, she has creative daughters who were able to amuse ourselves with clever comments and entertaining pictures of the recent April blizzard. For those sisters who were not in the immediate blizzard risk, they sent “inspiring” words of how their weather was warm and even some daffodil photos (that were saved from a freezing rain storm), while the other sister sent her view of mountains of Rocky Mountain snow, complete with fox tracks by her front door.

I’m still waiting for some snow piles to melt, but with 60 degree days in our forecast, I do believe it is time to survey the gardens and start where I can! While I realize it might be a bit early to talk about bug spray, it is only a matter of time before the warmer weather and collections of standing water will be breeding clouds of mosquitoes. Consider making your own bug spray. Natural oils can be a wonderful deterrent for those pesky bitters, and it’s safe for the family, including your fur-babies:

Looking for ways to bring tradition to Earth Day? We all know that every day is Earth Day but being good stewards of our land is an important mindset that needs to be instilled in our families and younger generations. Why not start a family tradition for Earth Day (April 22) where your family begins, or continues a caring way of living, that can continue throughout the year? There are oodles of events in every city and state that promote Earth Day activities. State Parks often host events. One can decide to make their own home or yard more lovely and eco-friendly, or one can even decide to plan something simple that celebrates locally grown and in season foods with a celebratory family meal. For more ideas, visit

Even if you can’t go outside and enjoy a new tradition, one can start indoors and create a renewed sense of mindfulness. Recycling is a great way to be mindful, but upcycling can be even more fun, and thrifty! As you, know, I love glass jars, and some of my favorite jars are ones that I reclaimed after emptying the original contents. Need some ideas to get those imaginative thoughts flowing? Try these 15 ideas for reusing jars:

Recently, my hubby and son had a chance to meet up with one of my sisters and her hubby. The good-natured ribbing of not using too many paper napkins and wondering if I was at the point of carrying around my own cloth napkins was discussed. And while it is humorous, and everyone had a good laugh, I feel like I get to count this as a win. At least others were being mindful of their resources and talking about options! In case you are looking for reusable lunch packing and dining options, follow this link:

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, I am going to sign off. I just can not sit at the computer any longer. My yard is calling my name and I NEED to be outside! Enjoy the opportunities that each day brings. Consider making your own bug spray, repurposing glass jars, creating a waste free packed lunch, or creating a new tradition encompassing the idea of Earth Day. Every day is Earth Day, but today’s a great day to start with a renewed sense of mindfulness. Be good to yourself and each other, and keep on keepin’ it thrifty and fun!

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Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 10, Issue 8 – March 4, 2018

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 10, Issue 8 – March 4, 2018

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters! March has arrived, and I don’t know about you, but I have spring fever! The first Spring Robin was sighted in my neighborhood yesterday and this morning they were serenading our neighborhood. March came in like a lamb, but it appears that the March Lion is going to roar his way through this week, as a hefty winter storm is approaching the Dakota prairie. It’s ok though, it’s spring – all the right signs are in place, and I’m going to pretend that the weather forecasters are mistaken about the storm. Nothing like spring fever and denial to get a girl through her day!

One of my friends recently asked me how my Minimalism Challenge was going. (Not familiar with this game – check it out: ). We had some great laughs as I shared my trials. There were a lot of things that I learned about myself during the month of January and February. It took all of January to physically touch everything that was “mine” in my bed room. I learned that I used my dresser drawers as storage for more than clothes, and at times it was easier to just close the drawer than to deal with what I had allowed to accumulate. I really needed the time to mentally process what was in there and rev up enough gumption to tackle the problem. January was not perfect, as there were days that I did not acquire the right numbers, but then there were days that I was an over achiever, so I figured it all evened out. In the end, my bed room is more tidy, clean and organized.

As February began, I was still working through my bed room, but this time I was going to strive to hit the correct numbers, each day. Although I am technically still stuck on Feb 17, my cleaning did move along to a hallway closet. I wish I would have taken before and after pictures! Time wise, it took me 2 weeks to go through 5 little linen closet shelves. It came down to the fact that there are only 24 hours in a day, and obviously not all 24 hours can be dedicated to shelf cleaning. I am still playing the game, and I’m curious how long it will take me to complete the February challenge. Next up, the large hallway linen closet. March is always a very busy month for our household, but I figure that if I am still trying, I am winning.

Does your spring fever have you itching for some spring cleaning? I enjoyed this article about why mess causes stress, and their suggestions on how to get the ball rolling on your own decluttering obstacles.

Maybe your spring fever does not include cleaning. That is perfectly fine. Are you itching for that garden soil therapy? Me, too. Why not try growling year-round strawberries? You could start plants now for this year!

Possibly this is the year that you start a compost pile? This article is humorous and contains some solid advice about food waste. At least scroll down to her 3 tips – they are common sense approaches that we can all benefit from.

And speaking of food waste, if your leftovers have not over stayed their welcome in your fridge, you can certainly recreate some new meals!  I love these weekly ideas on how to cook a couple of large meals and how to rework the leftovers into the meal plan later in the week.

Still trying to figure out what to do with those bananas that are just too ripe? How about a lovely peanut butter banana granola?

Green bean fries, anyone?

Whew – that’s a lot of into to toss at you all this week! Cleaning, decluttering, gardening, composting, left over delights, and some new recipes. That will probably keep us busy until the next newsletter. I’d love to hear from you on tricks that you’re using to help with your every day hustle. And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, have a great week! Be kind to yourself and others, and keep on keepin’ it thrifty and fun!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 10, Issue 7 – February 25, 2018

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 10, Issue 7 – February 25, 2018

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters! Boy, is it nice to see some sunshine in our neighborhood this morning! After several new inches of snow this week and some pretty gloomy days, the sun is a welcomed sight! And March begins this week!!! My Dad has always been fond of saying that Spring starts on March 1, and yes, I am ready to think Spring! I am also still on the hunt for the first Robin Sighting of 2018.

Possibly that garden urge has hit you pretty hard, and you just can’t wait to dig into the soil and create new beginnings. I’m right there with you. Some of my friends have already started growing their own seedlings. Other friends are growing indoor sprouts and microgreens. Maybe you have a desire for a terrarium? My Grandma had a beautiful terrarium, and when we would visit my grandparents in North Dakota, it was one of my favorite things. I was always amazed at how plants could grow in a closed space. I also had no idea that there are so many options of terrarium planting, and repurposing of old containers for your new indoor greenery. This site has some fun and creative ideas:

Is today laundry day for you? I have a sneaky suspicion that I undoubtedly need to make today a laundry day – my warm sock collection is getting dangerously low, and somehow a giant mountain of laundry has accumulated. How does that happen?! Even though I yearn for flip flops and sundresses, frostbite is not something that I want to deal with today. Do you happen to have a stash of lonely socks? Here’s a site that resourcefully upcycles those mate-less socks:

Recently, I have been a following a friend’s discovery of the amount of plastics in her home, and how she is creatively trying to reduce her family’s need of wasteful plastics. You go, girl, I’m super proud of you, Jess! While many of us are looking at ways of reducing our plastic footprint, this article provides 5 simple suggestions, and some common-sense approaches. One of my favorite suggestions is to think about your purchase. Instead of reaching for a new plastic tote at your favorite big box store, consider what you might already own that would do the trick just as effectively. Old wooden crates and metal baskets would be super cute in your home, and by adding a fresh coat of paint, or artistic effect, you also get to your crafty on! And of course, hello mason jars!  Oh, how I love to reuse jars throughout the home!

Since we are waiting for March to appear, one could still get away with making hearty stews and soups using winter crops. Last year, we tried our hand at adding parsnips to a soup recipe, and I really dig this root crop. Here’s 25 more ways to enjoy parsnips, before old man winter makes his final departure:

Buffalo cauliflower wings, anyone? Cauliflower is one of those super versatile veggies that gets overlooked. You can mash it, eat it raw, grill it, crisp it in the oven – so many ideas! Why not try out some of your favorite wing ideas on it?

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, may you enjoy the last days of February. I’ll be curious if March comes in like a lion or a lamb in my neighborhood, but either way, we know spring is arriving! Enjoy daydreaming about your warm weather passions and preparing to enjoy all those glorious warm weather plans. Be kind to each other and yourself. Enjoy some new recipes. Until next time, keep on keepin’ it thrifty and fun!


Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 10, Issue 6 – February 11, 2018

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters, and Happy February! This coming week is going to mark the half way point through the month, which gets us much closer to spring! Yippee! This past week, my neighborhood got more snow and it’s still bitterly cold. And it made me grumpy. Although, the refreshing idea that spring is closer is a highlight at this time of year. Seed packets are arriving at the stores, and I can waltz down garden isles doing my happy dance.

Just re-reading seed starting articles makes me happier. Here’s a bit of happiness for you, and some great reminders and tips to get a jump start on your indoor garden:

I don’t want to create any extra anxiety for anyone, but did you know Valentine’s Day is Wednesday, of this week? Instead of putting oneself into large amounts of debt for overly priced items and stressing out over restaurant reservations, consider making your loved ones feel special, right in their own home. There’s always the idea of cooking something special in the kitchen or making a sweet little gift to let your loved ones know that you are thinking of them. Although, do remember that we can do these things year-round. Just because Feb 14 comes and goes, the thoughtfulness for our loved ones can not stop on that date.

Have you ever melted down crayons and made those super fun, multi colored crayon blocks? Consider making them in heart shaped silicon candy baking trays. Seriously, what a super cute idea for the kiddos in your life, and a great way to use up all those little crayon nubs!

As you know, I am a sucker for anything in a mason jar. What a special way to wrap up all your loved one’s favorite items in a reusable container:

Not sure what to do with that reusable container after the gift giving? How about a salad in a jar! A perfect solution for the lunch packer, and with the reuse of plastic containers you get to score BIG thrifty and environmental points!

And, finally, in all this talk about others, please don’t forget about yourself. This time of year seems to be crazier than it needs to be. I rolled out of bed on Saturday morning, bright and early, and my first thoughts were of all the business aspects of my week that I did not get done before Friday at 5pm. I jumped out of bed, raced to the coffee pot, turned on the morning news and impatiently waited for the weather report, hugely annoyed that it was not coming on fast enough… nor was the coffee pot fast enough. And then it hit me. Wow. It’s Saturday. My first appointment of the day was a 2pm rehearsal. All of the things that did not get done over the previous week were not hindering my enjoyment of Saturday. It was me. And I had to remind myself that giving myself a morning of “non-business-related to-dos” was ok. And before I knew it, the morning weather was on, my coffee had finished brewing, and I did not “have” to rush downstairs to the studio. I am pleased to report that although the to-dos are still there, the world did not come to a crashing halt, and the sun did actually come up today. I’m not saying that one can put off their to-dos forever, but, one can be reasonable and kind to themselves amidst the overwhelming day to day operations of life.

Please take time to read this short and inspiring article. Even if it is the only thing you do for yourself today. There are two quotes that I just love. I have surrounded myself with people who use these phrases, and I can’t tell you how much happier this previous school year has been for me. The first is, “You owe it to yourself and to those around you to be the best version of yourself, and let’s be honest; we could all use a little improvement.” The second is, “Quite simply, to become that ideal, future version of yourself, you need to practice being it this year.” Begin today, my friend. Cut yourself a little slack and start thinking big – about yourself!

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, may you have an amazing week! Enjoy daydreaming about spring, appreciate those around you, appreciate yourself, and enjoy a little lunch from a mason jar. Until next time, keep on keepin’ it thrifty and fun!






Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 10, Issue 5 – January 28, 2018

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters! How is it possible that the end of January is looming so near? I swear we just celebrated New Year’s Eve! Although, I have noticed that the days are getting longer, and that is a happy thing! If February and March fly by as fast as January, I will be happily playing in my garden before I know it.

In the meantime, I am going to keep playing the minimalism game. Now that I am on day 28, I have successfully cleaned and cleared my way through my dresser, cleared all the clutter along the one wall (that space that the bed conveniently hides from the rest of the world, where I stashed all the projects and crap from the visible parts of the house), and started tackling the shelf next to my bed. My craft area is also looking a lot better! I worked my way through one storage shelf, my computer desk and my work space table. Those spaces are clean, dusted and are organized.

Yes, I have a lot more spaces to work through, and have discovered certain closet and cupboard spaces that are going to need some serious attention. But a small amount of effort each day has really made this challenge manageable. You know, Feb 1 is almost here – you, too, could start your own challenge! Remember, you don’t just have to toss everything – keep the things that add value to your life, or your favorite things. Sort of like that song from “The Sound of Music”, “My Favorite Things”.

Now, on with the rest of today’s newsletter. I have some great little tips and tricks for you all! Some of these tips have been dug out of ancient email archives. (Looks like my email folders could use some spring cleaning!)

Have you seen this life hack where you can turn open ended plastic bags into resealable bags with the addition of a plastic bottle top and cap? Thanks to Britt for sharing this great idea:

Britt also shared this link to making your own reusable cleaning wipes. When I was a kid, Dad used to moisten a rag, and place it in a bread bag. This bag went under the front car seat before long trips. The idea was that there was a wet rag in case of sticky fingers, wiping up vomit, etc. Don’t judge – we were 3 pretty car sick prone kids! Dad was certainly ahead of his time, because now I bet he would be pretty hip in his environmental choices. To make your own reusable cleaning rags, check out this link:

Ever wonder what to do with the rest of that lemon that you only needed the juice from, or needed just a little bit of zest? Check out this great way to dry and save lemon peels, and some nifty ways to use them!

Speaking of not wasting food, here are 5 more tricks to help reduce the waste:

Need more water in your daily routine? I find that winter is a tough time to consume the full amount of water that I need daily. Ironically, I was actually curious about straws and water consumption this week. I have reusable straws that use in my large carry container, and I have large, lidded glasses that my reusable straws fit into. I don’t know why, but it seems like I consume more water by using the straws than with a regular glass. I always thought that this was in my head, but apparently there is some truth that adding a straw to a container does help one with more consumption. Also, be warry that this would work with any beverage that you are consuming through a straw. So, if your goal is to cut soda from your life, don’t drink it through a straw.

Whew – that’s a lot of into for one newsletter! But what about a recipe? Ever find that you have amassed a collection of partially used frozen veggie bags, and are just not quite sure what to do with them? I love making stew and soups from these left overs. One can clean out their freezer and fridge and toss them in a crock pot and come up with a pretty awesome stew or soup. Let’s not waste that food, gang – use it up! Fire up that crock pot, or dump it into your large pot, and create away! Visit these links for some “soupper” ideas:

Maybe the idea of using your crockpot has your all fired up for some great eats this week? How about a visit to for a collection of recipes that are divided out by meals, ingredients, regional cuisine and flavor options.

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, enjoy the new month that is approaching. Good luck in clearing your clutter, trying out some of these nifty ideas, and drinking more water! May I suggest a reusable straw? And let’s create more with the leftovers in your kitchen! Until next time, keep on keepin’ it thrifty and fun!


Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 10, Issue 4 – January 14, 2018

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters! I trust that everyone has survived the holidays and are enjoying the arrival of the new year. Just in case anyone is wondering, the garden dirt that I wrote about in November is still firmly ground into my carpets, but that did not stop the festivities! I was also able to spend my studio break finishing a 2-year-old painting project that had been put on hold. Man, does it feel good to be able to accomplish that task! I love how my kitchen looks, that I hardly notice how dreadful the carpet looks!  Ha!

Last December, I wanted to bake some banana bread. We had dutifully frozen some very ripe bananas – remember the promise about not wasting food?! Although, I did overlook the need to take out the bananas from the freezer the night before I impulsively decided I wanted to make the banana bread. Guess what – it all worked out just fine! I followed the new to me method for thawing the bananas and life was good! This link has great information on how to freeze, defrost and various uses for your overripe bananas.

In the previous newsletter, I shared some chili recipes, and our friend Eli shared another delicious sounding recipe! Eli was aiming for a green chicken chili, but she decided this turned out more like a green enchilada soup – thanks for sharing your recipe, Eli!

Green Enchilada Soup

4 cups chicken stock
1/2 jar salsa verse
1can cream of chicken herb soup
I small jar green chilies
1 can white chili beans
1can garbanzo beans
1lb chicken that I browned and then diced
Throw it all in a pot, let simmer a little, adjust spiciness with the salsa verde

In December, my hubby started the Minimalism Challenge. If you are not familiar with the rules, you basically start by getting rid of one item on the first day of the month. By day 14, you are getting rid of 14 items, all the way to day 30 or 31, when you are getting rid of 30 or 31 items. I must admit that I was jealous of the fact that he was finding time to do the challenge, and I was barely keeping my head above water at the end of the semester, and trying to pack in all the knowledge needed into my student’s heads before Christmas break. Oh, and I was taking a class. Poorly timed endeavor on my end, but I can say that even though the class took longer than I wanted, I turned in my final this past week!

My hubby was diligent until about Dec 15, then the holi-daze was in full swing around our home, and all hands were on deck to get ready for the rest of the month. Then he announced that he was starting the challenge again in January. I thought angels were singing when I realized that I, too, could play!

For me, I started on my dresser. I took time to open each and every little box and go through the catch all piles. It’s day 14, and I have gotten across the top of my dresser, and one top drawer. Most days I accomplish my daily total. Some days I acquire bonus points. But for me, the goal has been to literally touch and clean each item that is on/in my dresser. I have rediscovered some cherished treasures. I have unearthed some odd finds. I found things that I had completely forgotten about. The drawer proved to be an almost overwhelming endeavor, until I remembered to start small. Pick out one little storage box, and start there. Storage boxes were apparently the creation of someone who is an evil pack rat! Out of sight, out of mind has come to my mind several times over the past 14 days!

In fact, I am having such a grand time with the slow but methodical process, I am also playing the game in my craft area! In case you didn’t know, Sioux Falls supports a recycled art store called Jam. If you are not in my neighborhood, check around and see if your area has such shops that would either take donated art items, or know where you could donate. I know that some schools take these supplies, as budgets are tight these days!

As I was preparing to write about the Minimalism Challenge, I ran across this funny, but very fitting article about someone who “failed” at the challenge. I wouldn’t say that she didn’t fail, as she certainly made progress, but I think she used too much math.

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, may you have a wonderful opening to 2018. Good luck to each of you who practice resolutions. Remember to be kind to yourself and others. We’re all in this together. May you enjoy some home baked banana yumminess, a new Enchilada Soup recipe and remember it’s never too late to start diving into the pile of stuff that is cluttering either your physical space or mental space. Until next time, keep on keepin’ it thrifty and fun!


Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 10, Issue 3 – November 5, 2017

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters, and Happy November! Wow, how is it possible that it is already November, and the holidays are looming in the near future?! Ready or not, I guess it’s time to start thinking ahead to the holidays.

Are you cringing at the thought of needing to spruce up your home for guests? I’m still cleaning garden dirt out of my carpets, but maybe if I could dedicate about 24 hours to a cleaning spree my woes wouldn’t feel so large. Since a 24-hour cleaning spree is not in my near future, I may need to embrace some cleaver ways to spruce up the place, and take the focus off the garden dirt! Check out the following link for 7 ways to brighten up your home, for free:

Do you have a collection of old cell phones and accessories that need attention? Check out this article, and maybe this will spark some ideas on how to cross this item off of your to-do list:

While our thoughts linger towards holiday meal prep, it’s also time to promise ourselves that we will not waste food. The following list is full of clever ideas on how to reuse many items, and ingenious alternatives for our leftovers. In fact, some of these tricks might spark fabulous holiday meal ideas! Left over mashed potato breakfast patties, anyone? I’m in!!

I know that today’s newsletter is short. It’s going to be a busy week in my neck of the woods. Although it’s going to be a wild ride this week, I look forward to being thankful for the opportunity to clean a space that I get to live in. I look forward to the chance to recycle items that no longer need to live in my house, and I am incredibly thankful that I have the ability to provide meals for my family and friends.

Speaking of meals – it’s chili season!  Have you tried making your own chili powder?

Maybe you would like a collection of chili recipes:

Until next time, my Thrifty Sisters, continue to be good to each other and yourself. Enjoy some homemade goodness, and calmly plan ahead to future gatherings!  Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to be filled with love. Can I just tell everyone that the dirt in my carpet is love?