Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 9, Issue 6 – October 23, 2016

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters! It sure has been an amazing fall in my neighborhood!  The leaves are just gorgeous, and we have had great weather.  I have certainly been grateful for the beauty and warmth this autumn has provided.

With that being said, I can hardly believe that the end of October will be upon us, which means Halloween is just around the corner! Fortunately, we still have time to prepare for the adorable little goblins and fun costume parties that will be coming up.  As many of you know, I just love Halloween almost as much as I love Mason jars.  Check out this list of 30 decorating tips that would be adorable at your next gathering, or a fun family activity to get everyone into the spirit:

Maybe kitchen “magic” is more your thing at this time of year? I have had apple butters, but did not know that you can make pumpkin butter.  Please note that pumpkin butters are not designed to be canned, due to the low acidity, but they should store nicely in your fridge (hellloooo Mason jars!), and from what I have read, these are so yummy they won’t be taking up space in your fridge for very long!  Visit this link for a variety of pumpkin butter recipes:

And how about a recipe for apple pie bread?  OMG, does that not sound like the most amazing thing on the planet?!?!

Speaking of magic in the kitchen, possibly you have a food dehydrator.  I do not, but when I read what one can do with a dehydrator I seriously start to wonder if I would have the space for one. I sure love a good fruit leather.  Here’s some interesting ideas including a dried coleslaw, dried cantaloupe, dried basil leaves, watermelon candy, making yogurt, and several other dehydrator opportunities:

This next tip could be either a fun activity for the kids, or a cleaning tool.  If you are creative enough, you might be able to convince the kiddos to help you clean with this cleaning slime.  Yeap, you read that right, cleaning slime.  Do you remember Gak or  Flubber?  This recipe allows you to make a slime that cleans hard to reach places, or to adapt it for fun time with the kids, including adding such things as food coloring and glitter.  I would certainly test this product out before inviting the kiddos to smear it all over the remote, but this certainly peeked my curiosity.  If you try this out, let me know how it works! OR just make some fun slimy stuff with the kids.  Could be another fun Halloween project that one could store in a Mason jar!

Maybe your super hero power is in upcycling and sewing?  I sure wish that I had better sewing skills.  But, alas, my super powers lie elsewhere. Here’s creative ways to re-work your old denim.  My favorites include the rounded ottoman, the pocket carry for all your techy gadgets, the footwear and the pillows. Seriously, I want the pocket carry and the footwear!  I wish I was sewing savvy enough to make those.

Since I will not be sitting down at my imaginary sewing machine to be whipping up a darling little pocket carry, or denim slippers, one might find me trying to stay active and enjoy the autumn glory. Did you know that that there is such a thing as “Forest Bathing”?  I had never heard of this, but apparently, my hubby has been doing this for months now, as he takes his daily walks in our city parks and trail systems. “Forest bathing is a Japanese form of healing therapy that simply involves mindful, leisurely walking through a forest setting.”, according to this article. Check out Forest bathing, and 6 other fall activities to keep you and your family active and enjoying the outdoors while we can!

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, may you have a wonderful week!  I hope you are inspired to go out and enjoy the season however you see fit.  Baking, preserving, decorating, crafting, cleaning, Forest Bathing, whatever peaked your interest, may you enjoy the opportunities that each day provides us.  Until next time, keep on keepin’ it thrifty and fun!

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Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 9, Issue 5 – October 9, 2016

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters! I hope that you have all been enjoying the fall weather and have had some opportunities to get to be outside and enjoy these dwindling days.  Even though the sun is going to bed earlier and the morning temps are getting lower, we certainly have some beautiful weather to enjoy!

This past week my neighborhood was in frost advisories.  While we didn’t get a killing freeze like some of the northern spots in South Dakota, I was found picking the biggest green tomatoes and bringing in several dozen tomatillos, hoping to save something from the potential freeze.

Earlier this spring I tried planting tomatillos.  It was a whim.  Something that I saw at the garden center, and had instant dreams of Salsa Verde. I bought one plant, came home and did some research, since I had no idea of what I was doing with tomatillos! Then I read that one needs 2 or more plants to pollinate, so the next day I went back and purchased a companion tomatillo and 2 more tomato cages.  Into the ground they went, and my tomatillo adventure began.  It took forever for the first fruits to arrive, looking like little lanterns on their green vines.  I patiently waited for their husks to fill out, and for a while I was able to keep count of how many lanterns I had swaying in the garden.  I had read that they were very productive, and then one day it seemed like there were oodles of them!  All sorts of sizes of those cute little lanterns.  The growing fruits in their little lantern husks were certainly fun to watch this past summer!

And now I have a box of them in my kitchen, and more on the growing vines, as there seems like no major damage was done with our recent cold mornings.  And I just can’t be any more excited! So what does one do with all those super cute tomatillos?  Make salsa, of course!  And “green sauce” is another intriguing recipe that I would like to can up this fall and use on tacos and enchiladas. There are lots of salsa varieties to choose from, but one of these chilly autumn days I am going to make this roasted recipe:

Here is a nifty list of 15 recipes to use your tomatillos with: … Did you know that you can make cocktails with tomatillos?!?!  These little gems just keep getting more exciting!

Maybe you are looking for a more traditional (or not so traditional) comfort food. Dumplings, anyone?  I was amazed to read how worldwide dumplings are, and they go by so many different names!  Huh, who knew?  (well, obviously not me!) Visit this link for 26 ideas and recipes to accommodate your dumpling urges:

With fall in the air, some of you might be thinking that it’s time to do one more big clean before the holidays are upon us.  While sorting and rearranging and cleaning, consider adding Hydrogen Peroxide to your arsenal of friendly cleaning products.  I have been using Hydrogen Peroxide for laundry for years.  I toss it in my kitchen loads, and have clean, disinfected, fresh smelling wash rags, towels and napkins ever since, with no bleach spots! Then I started using it in my water fountain this past summer.  About a quarter of a jug once every 5 or 6 weeks has kept my little garden fountain clean, and it has not harmed the fountain visitors. But there are a lot more uses this little brown jug can serve around the home!  For 34 uses of Hydrogen Peroxide go here:

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, may you have a wonderful day!  Enjoy having the opportunity to preserve and save the goodness of summer, and savor these days with good times, good friends and good foods! Good luck if you are tackling fall clean up and fix up projects, and check out the joys of Hydrogen Peroxide – did I mention how cheap that stuff is?! And until next time, keep on keepin’ it thrifty and fun!


Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 9, Issue 4 – September 4, 2016

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters! Has summer just flown by for you, too?  I’ve heard from many that they are relieved that summer is ending and cooler and less humid weather is on its way.  But I am sad that summer is dwindling away.  The leaves are changing colors, the weather is certainly beginning to shift in my neighborhood, and my gardens are showing their fall displays.  Canning season has been in full swing, which I love, but I also know that harvests will soon dwindle and the vines will begin to wither away, and fall cleanup will be upon us.

So what has summer taught me this year?  Gratitude and appreciation.  It certainly is the simple things in life that make a huge difference to everyone, whether that is showing appreciation to others, extending a helping hand, or just enjoying the comfortable conditions in one’s home. How about appreciating the fact that one CAN make those upgrades to their lives, either physically or emotionally?

As we celebrate the Labor Day holiday, consider making more summer memories and remember, these ideas don’t have to end with Labor Day – we still have plenty of summer fun left to live up! For many, Labor Day is all about food and family. As September marches along, consider hosting an end of summer potluck, picnic, or barbecue before the season is officially over. Highlight the foods of the season. Make roasted watermelon seeds (this recipe and 14 other ideas can be found here:

Consider a garden exchange with neighbors and friends, or have a mini produce swap. Are your tomatoes, zucchini, corn and cucumbers done? Save the seeds and have a seed exchange (more info about saving seeds: ).

While the weather is still nice, take advantage of the sunshine and take a day and go explore some local gardens or parks.

I realize today’s newsletter is short.  But, I see the sunshine is out and it is calling my name!  If only I could figure out how to can summer in a jar!!  And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, go out and enjoy each day like it’s the last day of summer.  Show appreciation and gratitude.  You never know how much a little kindness can change someone’s day.  And remember to keep on keepin’ it thrifty and fun!

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Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 9, Issue 3 – July 31, 2016

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters!  I hope that you are all doing well and have had a chance to enjoy family gatherings, outings with friends, and partake in local events.  I hope that this past week provided opportunities for creative outlets for each of you.

Today I want to talk about gratitude. The simple definition, according to the Merriam Webster online Dictionary is, “a feeling of appreciation or thanks.” I have so much to be grateful for. These past weeks have been full of opportunities to reflect on reasons I can feel thankful, as well as interesting stories that I have been hearing from others on how gratitude plays in their life. Ironically, it is so much easier to see the negatives rather than the positives in various situations.

One such story that I hear over and over is how a couple is going to sell their house, but need to make improvements, in order to make their home “marketable”. Now that these individuals have made the improvements, or even minor fixes, they say that their home is “perfect”, just in time for the realtor to put the for sale sign out. This makes me so sad to hear.

Why do we choose to allow the small things pile up and be annoyances, in a place that should be our relief? Time, money, obligations to others, obligations to our careers – these are certainly only a few factors that contribute to the ease of procrastinating the annoyances. So when are you going to make the place that you plan on creating roots become your Solace Palace? Please don’t wait until you have to move to make the changes you want – the changes that could exponentially make your life better, or at least happier.

This seems like a pretty deep discussion!  Yes, changes can be made to physical structures, as well as personal walls and feelings. Is it easy? No, but neither are certain home improvements.  Time, money, you know, all of the reasons we haven’t made those changes to begin with are also part of the reason that many of us don’t allow ourselves to be fully happy.

But we can be thankful. We can show gratitude to others. By changing our outlook on gratitude, we can change a whole lot around us, and actually become happier individuals, and happier individuals become more productive individuals. If we work on our inner walls, maybe we can find that time and money to spend within our home walls, creating that Solace Palace. With no guilt.

I’m not making this up – gratitude can lead to good things! Just Google how gratitude could changes things – I dare you!  Here are 2 links that I thought were interesting:

So, even though this summer has been a challenge on the pocket book, I have a long list of things to be grateful for. I am grateful that my hubby cares about me and has my back.  I am grateful that our son is healthy and happy. I am thankful for family and friends. I am thankful for our incredible neighbors. I am super appreciative that the plumbers are coming and will be replacing all the corroded, leaky faucets and taking out our dumb garage disposal (and I get that little spray nozzle that I have always wanted!). I am grateful for gardening friends who are willing to share flowers with me. I am grateful for my yard, a place that I can escape to and just dig when I need to vent out frustration.  (Have you noticed the new garden bed that is happening in the backyard… yes, I needed that opportunity this week.)

And lastly, I’m incredibly thankful that my family is healthy enough to tough out these next couple of days.  We live on the prairie, and I am just floored by the fact that we have had several “still” days and nights. Our AC unit is out of commission. I’m grateful for all of the past years of research on how to keep one’s home cool and save on energy.  We are certainly conserving energy!! Although, I am also noticing that when one only has north and south windows, it is really tough to create a cross draft! And did I mention my gratitude towards my neighbor who was able to get us into his repair schedule? One can’t shop more local than from the guy next door! If you need the name and number of a good heating and cooling company, let me know.

Be grateful. Express gratitude to others. It’s something that takes practice. Some days are just “too much”, but I am grateful that I have people in my life who can help me through those days.

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, let’s go make lemonade!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 9, Issue 2 – July 24, 2016

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters! I hope that each of you had a delightful week! I’m not really sure where my week has disappeared to, but it was certainly eventful and we had the opportunity to make some great memories!  Who can ask for anything more?!

Are you looking for summer activities for either you, or your family?  Consider visiting a farm!  I had the chance to watch part of our local news last night, and they had this neat article about how Ag United was creating opportunities for families to visit South Dakota farms.  I feel that there is no better way to teach our youth how products arrive at our grocery stores, and to show the amount of effort it takes to make that gallon milk appear in your refrigerator than to go right to the source.  Visit to view activities and tour options.

How many of you have a collection of Mason Jars collecting dust?  I don’t, either, but I hear that some people have this problem. Did you know that canning jars make excellent storage options? Have some leftovers from supper?  Consider putting individual sized portions in jars – they freeze and refrigerate like a dream. Possibly you have random crafting supplies that need storage options – there are many sized canning jars just waiting for your creative use!

I love keeping various the little jars that some of our groceries show up in.  I just wash the glass jar, and if the lid smells like artichoke hearts in oil, let the lid sit on your counter for an afternoon filled with vinegar.  Wash with soap and let air dry.  The smell eventually dissipates and hello cute storage jar! You can even spray paint the outside of the jar lids!

I love glass jars. And they can be used for much more than just storage! Check out the following links for recipes, salads on the go, and dressings – perfect parings for all of the garden yumminess that is coming inside at this time of year!

And last, but not least, allow me to share this uber thrifty tip that my hubby came up with last night.  About a week ago, we purchased several dips to have on hand while some friends came over for the evening, and of course, we had lots left over.  While prepping supper last night, Sean spotted the jalapenos on our counter, and decided that these dips would make great fillers for stuffed jalapenos. He stuffed those little jalapenos with the dips, rolled them up in a tin foil packet and placed them on the grill, and they were scrumptious! What a fantastically creative and yummy way to use up the left over dip!

Do you have creative ways to use up odds and ends in your fridge?  I’d love to hear about your tricks!

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, have a grand week. Enjoy having the opportunity to explore summer options in your home state.  Sometimes one doesn’t have to go very far to find a fun family excursion. Enjoy the opportunity to reunite with your glass jar collection and being creative on how to use (or re-use) those jars, and may you be inspired to create new recipe ideas!  And remember, let’s all be kind to each other, and especially ourselves. I’m heading outside, now.  My garden is calling, and that bumper crop of thistles I was talking about last week… yeap… I’m still pulling!  Maybe I’ll have more garden play time this week!  Ha – a girl can dream, right?!

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Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 9, Issue 1 – July 17, 2016

Greetings Thrifty Sisters! Was my last post really on May Day?  Obviously, I have been out living the dream, as all of May and June and July seem like a giant blur. Hopefully everyone has had an opportunity to enjoy the first half of summer, in some sort of capacity!

The last time I wrote, I was worried about spring showers drowning out freshly planted potatoes.  Now that the spring showers have come and gone, days have warmed up and dried up, and I have some pretty crunchy grass in my yard.  For me, the trick is to conserve water, but not let my grass die.  That happened one year.  I conserved a ton of water, but areas in my backyard burned up so bad that I had to reseed the following spring.  Lesson learned, I guess!

I feel that one can not have too many reminders and suggestions on how to save on our water usage.  Check out this link that gives us 14 ideas (or reminders) on how to efficiently water or garden spaces.   It’s never too late to start conserving water!

Hopefully when you are not tending to your garden, you have been able to go out and enjoy the Great Outdoors.  Don’t forget to apply the “leave no trace” philosophy to your outings – day trips, camping trips, or road trips, these are all good prompts of how to pack in and pack out, and how to be courteous to others while enjoying nature.

Are you using your summer days to clean and organize your home? I’m trying to get some projects done over the summer, but time and activities seem to not be on my side some days. But, the goal is to plug away.  Patience is being learned, on my part.  I have come to accept that some projects just have to be worked into our life style, and planning ahead is crucial. You know, like shampooing your carpet, then having company over before it’s dry.  That would be poor planning.  But, why not have fun with some of your organizational projects!  Check out this link with 10 very clever and creative ways to accommodate household dilemmas:

Speaking of clever ideas – visit this web site that has 39 ideas for your backyard!  Ideas on how to keep your pots from drying out, to backyard scrabble games, to fairy garden ideas!  This collection of ideas might add more to your to-do list, but some of these ideas are just so cool!

I realize that today’s newsletter is short, but I can hear my garden calling, and I certainly do not want to miss being outside! Besides, it appears that I have a bumper crop of thistles that have shown up on one side of my garden, and I really need to take care of them before they get out of control.  So, before closing, I am going to put a little BBQ recipe here, for your enjoyment:

May each of you have a superb week!  Enjoy your outdoor activities, but remember to only leave footprints, conserve water, have fun doing the daily activities, continue to find humor in all aspects of your day, and be kind to each other, and yourself. Keep on keeping it thrifty and fun, folks!



Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 8, Issue 13 – May 1, 2016

Happy May Day to my Thrifty Sisters! I hope that you each had a grand exit to April and are eagerly looking forward to what May has to offer.  May can be a very exciting month – schools are gearing up for summer vacations, there are graduations to celebrate, vacations are being planned, and all of those April showers are going to give us many garden surprises this month.

Last Sunday I went out and got the potatoes tucked neatly into their potato bags, and then it has rained and rained all week long. I’m pleasantly surprised to not see my little potatoes floating in their bags! With the copious amounts of rain, and unseasonably cool days, it has been very difficult to follow my Dad’s instructions on getting various bulbs into the ground before May 1. But, the weather looks more cooperative this coming week, and if life offers a moment, I am heading out to the garden with bulbs in tow! So, if my Daddy asks about the bulbs, please tell him that I fully intend to get them in the garden this week.

For all my garden enthusiasts, I hope that your garden planning is going smoothly and that your little indoor plant babies are growing well.  Some of you are pros on the square foot garden method, and others of you are in the young stages of wanting to create your first gardens.  I’m very intrigued at the concept of the square foot gardening method, but I always chicken out at the last minute.  Last year I made my own square foot marker.  Just a simple wooden square, measuring one square foot, and I used it as a template in the garden.  The first square foot was fine.  I found instructions on the web that suggested 4 peppers per square foot.  To me that seemed really tight, but in went the first 4 within the square boundary.  Then square number 2 came along, and “common sense” took over and I began spreading out the peppers, like I have always done it.  Wow, 4 plants in one square foot seems ok, but when you start stacking groups of 4 that close next to each other, it just seemed so wrong!

And so began my internal battle of wanting to experiment, vs the tried and true ways that I have “always” done it. Sigh.  Ironically, all pepper plants – both planted square foot style or spaced out were not a giant success last summer.  But, I am still on a mission to learn how this elusive square foot gardening method will work for me and my needs. And, once again, I am eager to get my experimental mind to the garden before my common sense kicks in.

Hobbies are always a good way to spend one’s time.  There is a sense of accomplishment, and ownership in the hard work one puts forth.  And it is never too late to pick up a new trick!  Studies have shown that staying active is beneficial to a happy mind. If you are a knitter, you are going to especially appreciate this article.  But consider your hobbies and activities.  All things that we do with our hands makes us happier and we engage so many of our senses, without even realizing it.  Read more about the science of knitting (or hobbies, in general) here:

Maybe you don’t have the patience for a knitting project, but I bet you ladies have some old tights sitting around that are well past their prime.  Consider this cute upcycling project that our friend Johnny shared:  Old tights into new hair bands is a smashing idea!  Or, if the length is too wide and you don’t want a lump of hair tie at the base of your pony tail, consider cutting it down to size, and tying a knot in the material, just like the cute little hair bands that you can buy in the store.

Possibly you like to make your own bathroom indulgences.  With the heightened awareness of mosquitoes this coming season, consider making your own bugless solid lotion. NPR just re-shared a past article about which mosquito repellants work the best, and there is an option to the DEET sprays – Lemon Eucalyptus.  (NPR Link: ) Make your own Lotion Bar Recipe:

And to wrap up today’s Thrifty Sister, allow me to encourage your chef-ly creative juices with some vegetable grilling marinade recipes.

And with that my Thrifty Sisters, Happy May Day.  May you continue to be creative, crafty, thrifty and always have a good time doing it!  Keep on keeping it thrifty and fun.  Oh, and don’t forget, Mother’s Day is next Sunday.  I challenge you to show all the Mama’s in your life some appreciation!

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