Monthly Archives: October 2013

Vol 2, Original posting dates from June 21, 2009 – June 6, 2010

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 2, Issue 1 – June 21, 2009 (original issue date)


Happy Birthday to the Thrifty Sister!  We turned one last week…


Karen has written a hysterical list of how not to be thrifty!


As I go through life, I keep finding ways on how not to do things and think I could almost get enough bad lessons to write a book.  Therefore, I thought I would share of few of my “how not to be thrifty” moves:

#1) Haul a u-haul on your car while you move.  The smaller the car, the quicker the car will die.

#2) From the memoirs of Jeff, co-sign on your girlfriend’s car.  It will bite you in the butt 3 years later and will stick with you for a total of 7 years on your credit report to remind you everyday for 10 years of your mistake.  Congratulations Jeff, this year you are free of your mistake.

#3) Always move across the country without having a job.

#4) Try to get a degree in “midwife”.  You will get your student loans forgiven.  Honestly, whose job is it to make up the most random careers that should get student loans forgiven?

#5) If anybody wants to take your Polaroid picture in a foreign country, they are expecting money for it.

#6) Always make it a point to forget your purse wherever you go.  Try big cities, for an extra thrill to see how fast you can get it stolen.

#7) Name your son or daughter names that are never used anymore or were never names in the first place.  You will always get a free rose at flower shops.  “If your name is Lesbo, please come in for a free rose”.  Jeff and I honestly saw that sign one day.  “If your name is Napkin, please come in for your free rose”.

#8) Always travel on the busiest interstate in the nation during a traffic accident while being late to the airport for your international travel..  You will thank yourself for not taking the extra time to leave early when you are told to go home from the airline.

#9) Make it a point to forget your lunch when you go to work.  You will feel good, knowing you spent 10 minutes to pack it, 15 minutes getting fast food that settles like sludge down the drain, and knowing your lunch is currently being eaten by a rodent beagle at home.

#10) Never listen to good advice.  After all, what do they know?


And on that point, today I am proud to have randomly hopped into a real-estate mecca.  Silverdale/Bremerton will be the fast appreciating real estate in the nation over the decade.  I’m not anticipating this may be the best prospect on foreign relations, as we hone the 3rd biggest amount of nuclear arsenal in the world.  Bremerton has 30,000 people, but grew to over 200,000 during World War 2.


Here are the markets in the United States in which home appreciation is expected to grow handsomely in the next decade, according to U.S. News & World Report. The markets are followed by the projected annual percentage change in home prices from the fourth quarter of 2008 to the fourth quarter of 2018:


1. Bremerton-Silverdale: 5.22 percent

2. Glens Falls, N.Y: 4.71 percent

3. Fort Collins-Loveland, Colo.: 4.06 percent

4. Corvallis, Ore.: 3.95 percent

5. Anchorage, Alaska: 3.8 percent

6. Duluth, Minn.: 3.74 percent

7. Sandusky, Ohio: 3.66 percent

8. Santa Fe, N.M: 3.57 percent

9. Pittsfield, Mass.: 3.51 percent

10. Decatur, Ill.: 3.44 percent




Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 2, Issue 2 – July 3, 2009 (original issue date)


Greetings Thrifty Sisters and Happy 4th of July!


Here is an interesting web site to check on your sun block…. Does your sunscreen work?


And thanks to Mary for submitting this article about how to make your own laundry detergent:


It is a neat article, complete with pictures (yeah for a storybook with photos for Lora… and a video!) with comparison and contrast of their product vs tide (you should guess which one is better before you read through the article!)


And of course, here are some good tips about junk mail.  Things have been hectic at the homestead this summer… I judge how “crazy” life is by how bad the mail pile has gotten by the time I get around to sifting through it.  This time around, the pile was almost two weeks old and it literally took me over an hour to open and sort through mostly junk and shredding items.  What a complete waste of time and resources!  REALLY!!!! 


Did you know that Each American receives almost 560 pieces of junk mail per year – I think that I probably had about 25% of my allotment over the past couple of weeks!  And annually, 100 million trees are used to make junk mail.  Wow – that’s a lot of work to just wind up on my kitchen counter to be thrown away (well, recycled!)  And on average every American wastes about 8 hours per year dealing with junk mail.  Hmmm, I am thinking that this might be a low estimate.


So how do we fix this?  There are several places that I have found to help, some are free and some require a fee.  I like free so I am listing those first.

$20 a year –


Well, Sisters, have a happy 4th of July!  Keep is safe and thrifty this weekend as you apply LOTS of sun block and use your new home made laundry detergent to get all of the food and firework stains out of clothing (tip: NOTHING gets burn marks from the 4th out of clothing…) and think about opting out of some of that junk mail! – Lora.





Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 2, Issue 3 – July 10, 2009 (original issue date)


Greetings and happy upcoming weekend to all of the Sisters out there!  Some of you may be asking why is the newsletter showing up prior to the weekend… this weekend we are heading to UNL to drop off JJ at band camp, visit Sonya and JJ and I are running our first road race, called the Lincoln Mile.  So, in preparation for this weekend, I wanted to get the TS out early as I am probably going to be driven home on Sunday with ice pack compressed to my shins.  Ha!


The laundry detergent recipe seemed to be a big hit with several of you writing back to say that you were going to be making your own in the near future.  It seems like most of you are opting for the powder version and I will include a recipe for that further in the letter.  Still, a really interesting concept!


This is a note from Cindy – “Just last week someone was telling me about making their own detergent.  This week when I get back from my sons I will be making some, but mine will be dry.  One box Borax, One box Washing Soda and a ground of bar of Fels-Naptha.  One lady has a front loader machine and only uses 2 Tablespoons and another uses 1/4 cup.”


Here is a site that gives both the dry and wet detergent recipes


How about 10 more tips on how to make you own…


and if you haven’t had enough about washing soda, you can read


As promised, here is a quick easy dry detergent recipe… as you can see there are a lot of varieties on the same thing, so there must be some room for error on your measuring skills!  Ha


Powdered Detergent

2 cups finely grated soap
1 cup washing soda
1 cup borax

1. Mix well and store in an airtight plastic container.

2. Use 2 tablespoons per full load.

And with that, Sisters, I am on my squeaky clean, ever so thrifty way out of here!  Have a fabulous weekend!



Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 2, Issue 4 – July 19, 2009 (original issue date)


Now that everyone is enjoying their new laundry soap, I thought I would shift gears and take us out to the garage… to our cars, specifically.  We all know that fixing is better than buying when it comes to being frugal, and let’s face it, all of our cars have quirks.  Some have more than others. 


Let’s take my poor, poor Blazer, for example.  What a great car it has been!  I love that car.  Did you know that over the course of the past few years it has actually started developing new features?  Is that not the most amazing thing you have ever heard of! 


The first feature it developed was that it decided to became “green” and disengaged a working air conditioner – saving me both gas to run the AC and exhaust fumes, I am sure!  What a smart car!  Then we had the on-again off- again working radio.  Now it doesn’t work at all, but I believe it is to give me some zen-like time to myself.  Really, who couldn’t use more peace and quiet in their lives?!?!  I also like the new feature that it developed right before summer – it is the anti-rain window.  If your window won’t roll down, you can’t possibly leave it open during a rain storm.  The latest window feature is the passenger ventilation… since both passenger windows would not roll up today, my passengers should always have plenty of air flow.  And my favorite new feature that it has developed within the last several months is the dirty window sensor.  The windshield wipers are so smart, that they know when the windshield is dirty and removes that dirt for me – all on their own!  Amazing!  Talk about a smart car!


I found this list of “16 (potentially) deadly car noises”… it is like having my dad in your computer right now… he is great at identifying car problems once you describe the sound!  Here is the list.  Remember, ignoring the symptom won’t make the problem magically go away. Delay can provide the time for a problem to worsen, and that usually translates into a bigger and more expensive repair – and that is NOT thrifty!

Any sound when turning a corner: More than likely this is related to the steering linkage. It either needs lubricating or is damaged and requires replacement.

Clunking when braking: A brake caliper or other hardware is damaged, missing or improperly mounted.

Flapping: This could either be something interfering with the fan or a belt disintegrating.

Grinding manual transmission when shifting: This is probably a clutch issue. It either is worn or requires adjusting. It could also indicate a deeper problem within the transmission.

Hissing or sizzling under the hood: Heard when the engine is first shut off, something is leaking. Coolant or oil could be leaking onto a heated engine part, such as the exhaust manifold; a vacuum line could be leaking; or the engine could be overheating.

Knocking from engine compartment: It’s a myth that there are benefits from using a higher-octane gasoline in your vehicle than the owner’s manual specifies; however, using a lower-grade fuel can very well produce engine knock. Follow the owner’s manual requirements in all things oil, gasoline and tire air pressure.

Loud bang: If the sound is as if someone put a cherry bomb in your tailpipe, it’s a backfire. It could be the air-fuel mixture is too rich. It could also indicate that the catalytic converter isn’t functioning properly.

Low-pitch humming under the car: This could have any number of causes. If it changes with acceleration, the differential may need lubricant, the transmission may be failing, the universal joints may be worn or a wheel bearing could be shot. The problem is, the sounds under a vehicle tend to reverberate and echo to the point that it’s impossible for a lay person to determine the source.

Popping from the engine compartment: An array of issues could be responsible, particularly if the sound is accompanied by some engine hesitation. The checklist includes ignition problem, clogged fuel filter, worn or dirty spark plugs, damaged spark plug wires or a compromised catalytic converter.

Rattles from beneath the vehicle: It could be a loose exhaust system or even loose brake pads.

Roaring that increases with acceleration: The first thing to check is the exhaust system; it could be damaged. Transmission issues could be another cause. In an automatic, perhaps it’s not advancing to the next gear. With a manual transmission, the clutch could be slipping.

Squealing or chirping on acceleration: This usually indicates a belt or belts are loose and slipping. It could also mean the drive pulley for an accessory such as the water pump has become misaligned.

Squealing wheels when applying brakes: This could have a number of causes from something as simple as dirt on the brake rotors, pads or shoes to something more ominous, such as badly worn pads or shoes. It could also be from a wear-indicator on a pad signaling that it is time for new brake pads. No matter the cause, it’s a safety issue and requires attention.

Scraping or grinding when applying brakes: If the squealing has turned into scraping, that usually indicates bare metal rubbing against bare metal. The brake pads are shot! Every application of the brake pedal is damaging at least one of the rotors.

Tapping or clicking from the engine compartment: The most obvious problem — and easiest to remedy — is that the engine is low on oil. Check the oil level. If that is OK, the problem could be a loss of oil pressure somewhere in the system. It could also indicate some blockage due to crud in the system. If it’s not an oil issue, more than likely it’s related to the valve train. The valves may need adjusting or perhaps the lifters are collapsed.

Whining (from the car, not the kids!): This can often indicate excessive differential or transmission wear.

If you have made it this far, congrats – you made it to the end of yet another TS newsletter!  Have a great and thrifty week!



Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 2, Issue 5 – July 26, 2009 (original issue date)


Karen wrote:

So have you made the laundry detergent yet that is homemade? I haven’t. I guess, because I only go through one of those bottles every 6 months and it’s not a big spender on my list.  This week on thrifty sister I would like to address, the too-thrifty of a sister. How thrifty does one have to be to be too thrifty? I once heard that once we buy furniture, we become married to it. I believe this to be true, as Jeff and I still have the coffee table we bought from 2003 for $5 at a rummage sale by Lora and Sean’s apartment complex. We hauled that stupid coffee table many, many places.  However, there is no golden rule that one has to remain married to a  $5 coffee table for the rest of their lives. It’s odd to think that in this day and age, 1 out of 2 marriages will end in divorce, but I guarantee that coffee table will remain there forever. My point is that too often do we hold onto things, because they are not currently breaking down and do the job. However, I guarantee when Jeff goes out and gets his big cool, plasma TV he was not waiting for his last TV to break down. He really didn’t think about it and just got it. The thrifty sister will have an ulcer before she decides to purchase anything over $50.  So, my question is how thrifty is too thrifty? Do you have a too-thrifty story that you would like to add?


Lora Replied:

Can you be too thrifty!?  I suppose that could be someone’s case, but we all have things that we are “ok” splurging on, so are we really all that thrifty?  (ooooo, deep thoughts!  And if a thrifty tree fell in the forest, how thrifty is it?)


I am a firm believer in keeping things till they are no longer useful, durable, dependable or recyclable.  Sean and I were just chatting about how nice the furniture in our living room is still holding up, and that was my BIG purchase shortly after graduation, so that furniture is now roughly 11 years old now!  And I am in no hurry to buy another living room set just because my furniture is 11 years old.  It still works, I still like it and I have not ruined it yet.  Why bother furniture shopping?! 


Now, technology and tv’s change all the time, and I am sure that it fun to have some of the latest toys, but really, how often do coffee tables change?  I can see where one can justify an upgrade for a new tv, but might not really think much of their coffee table until one day it breaks. 


So, can one be too thrifty?  Are you emotionally attached to things like favorite shoes, jeans, t-shirts, cars, etc?  I am.  It is hard to get rid of things that have so many fond memories, but when it is worn out, I need to “let go” and find a new use for it or donate it or make it into something more useful.  Basically, the memories are still there, but the clutter has to go!  So, can a thrifty sister also be a clutter bug?


Oh, this is a deep and thoughtful issue this week!  WOW!


Thoughts, sisters????




Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 2, Issue 6 – August 9, 2009 (original issue date)


From Karen:

This week on thrifty sister I continue my profound financial conundrum which asks the question, “Is there a right time to be thrifty?”. 82% of people have no money in savings. But during a recession, is it really wise to save or to spend?

Everyone knows to buy low and sell high, but to put this into application is much harder than we think, because our lives don’t work in terms of supply and demand. Your car doesn’t know if it’s a recession or not when it decides to break down for good.  However, my advise is if you have it-spend it. Right now is the time to buy a home at an $8000 rebate from taxes and cash-for-clunkers allows us to buy a great car at an all-time low price. General contractors are begging for jobs and with an all-time low for construction materials, bidding, and general competition, now is the time to get your roof repaired, or whatever. Heck, they may even do a half-decent job, considering they need your money. However, wherever we go, we hear-save, save, save. When the economy goes back up, so
will prices for furniture, cars, construction, housing, airlines, etc.  Therefore, my philosophy is that when the economy is doing great, this is not the time to be buying the high-priced items that you long awaited for, because you believe that somehow you will be “saved” by the stability of the economy. Remember, Enron, mergers, and outsourcing. Therefore, you are never really safe, but at least prices are cheaper during a recession. And if your car decides to quit “right now”, consider yourself blessed (of course, if you have the money-otherwise you’re screwed).

Is it good to save? Of course it is. But to be too thrifty may mean losing out on opportunities.


From Lora:

Wow – who put you in charge of Deep Thoughts of the Thrifty Sister!  (ha)  That is some hefty thinking there, Sister Karen!


Being thrifty does not make one choose to loose out on opportunities, but rather make one think about their choices and make the best options for them and their families based upon what they consider thrifty and smart.  If you can’t afford to do something like re-roof your house, it does not really make sense to re-roof just because things are cheaper now.  You can’t save money if you dig yourself deeper into debt.  But what if you find a super good deal and you actually wind up saving loads on cash in the long run if you go into debt now?  Then I imagine that individual has to consider all things and decide what is best in the end.  In this example, are you making a better choice on your investment?


You are right, your car does not know when it is a “good” time to break down (they usually pick the absolute worst time to bottom out).  But as my very wise neighbor said, it is much smarter to start looking ahead of time, while you can look on your own terms rather than having to purchase the first affordable thing because you have too.  (Thanks, Kim!)  It comes back to being wise in your choices and your money.


On a completely random note, here is a life lesson recently learned after a “small” spill that I am STILL cleaning up after…  who would have thought that finger nail polish splatters so badly… Fingernail polish remover is ok to clean up a spill in the bathroom, off the toilet, the linoleum, but not a “smart move” to use of real wood, no matter how fast you think you can wipe it back off.  If you have made this terrible mistake, you can fix it up nicely by using an Old English Scratch Cover that works like a wood stain.  This stain comes in a dark wood color and a lighter wood stain color.  I bought my bottle for about $4.00 and I think it will last forever.  It also does a great job in returning a luster to old wood (like in my bedroom set) and can cover up other wood accidents like leaving a water glass on the wood finish.  (oops!)


And this is from Johnny:

I just wanted to share that I bought those “dryer balls” as seen on tv from the local grocery store, and a cheaper version from walmart… and they DO work! 🙂 No more need to waste money buying dryer sheets over and over. I do extra large loads and keep four in the dryer, I only have to run the clothes through one cycle now and they are not full of static….

Also, is it ok to ask the list if I can get some wedding supplies if anyone has any to give away????


If you would like to contact Johnny, please reply back to me and I will forward your information along to her!


With that, I hope you are all keeping it thoughtful and thrifty this week!




Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 2, Issue 7 – September7, 2009 (original issue date)


Wow – It has been a long time since I have updated the TS!  Sorry about that!  School is fully underway, including our first in-uniform marching performance.  Happy Labor Day to everyone!  Ok, let’s get down to business and get thrifty once again!


Here’s a comment from Mollie –

I enjoy making my own bread in the bread maker from time to time.  There’s nothing better than the smell of freshly baking bread!!  Does anyone know if I’m actually saving any money by doing this? 


From Lora –

Here is an interesting article about how you can save money (including the electricity to use your bread machine)… So, I would say, yes, you are saving money!  (whee!)  And how timely is this, since I noticed that our weekend highs this upcoming weekend are going to be in the mid 60’s.  Time to get our machines back out and rev them up.

And here is one from thrifty fun… how cute is that?!?!?

And for the Gluten Free folks out there…



Here is an interesting email that I received from Heidi. It was thought provoking enough to share, and it fit right into the whole thrifty sister thing. 


A physics teacher in high school, once told the students that while one grasshopper on the railroad tracks wouldn’t slow a train very much, a billion of them would.   With that thought in mind, read the following, obviously written by a good American.     
Good idea . . .   one light bulb at a  time . . . .

Check this out . I can verify this because I was in Lowes the other day for some reason and just for the heck of it I was looking at the hose attachments. They were all made in China.  The next day I was in Ace Hardware and just for the heck of it I checked the hose attachments there. They were made in USA. Start looking.
 Throw out the myth that you cannot find products you use every day that are made right here and for a good price!

In our current economic situation, every little thing we buy or do affects someone else – even his or her job. So, after reading this email, I think this lady is on the right track. Let’s get behind her!

My grandson likes Hershey’s candy. I noticed, though, that it is marked made in Mexico now. I do not buy it any more. My favorite toothpaste Colgate is made in Mexico now.  I have switched to Crest. You have to read the labels on everything.

This past weekend I was at Kroger. (Can be true for any store.)  I needed 60W light bulbs and Bounce dryer sheets. I was in the light bulb aisle, and right next to the GE brand I normally buy was an off brand labeled, “Everyday Value.” I picked up both types of bulbs and compared the stats – they were the same except for the price. The GE bulbs were more money than the Everyday Value brand but the thing that surprised me the most was the fact that GE was made in MEXICO and the Everyday Value brand was made in – get ready for this – the USA in a company in Cleveland, Ohio.

Then on to another aisle – Bounce Dryer Sheets . . . yep, you guessed it, Bounce cost more money and is made in Canada . The Everyday Value brand was less money and MADE IN THE USA! I did laundry yesterday and the dryer sheets performed just like the Bounce Free I have been using for years and at almost half the price!

My challenge to you is to start reading the labels when you shop for everyday things and see what you can find that is made in the USA – the job you save may be your own or your neighbors!

If you accept the challenge, pass this on to others in your address book so we can all start buying American, one light bulb at a time! Stop buying from overseas companies!

(We should have awakened a decade ago . . . . . .  )

Let’s get with the program . . . . Help our fellow Americans keep their jobs and create more jobs here in the U. S. A.


Thanks for reading a VERY late edition of the Thrifty Sister.  I will try to send another edition out before I head to Texas next weekend… I am told that I am heading to the heaven of Thrift Stores, and I can hardly wait!  Keep on being thrifty, sisters!




Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 2, Issue 8 – September 20, 2009 (original issue date)


From Karen:
I had a question. The spiders every fall set up webs around the mailbox, around the garbage, around the deck, and I even found a spider in a web in my car. I could not manage to kill him while driving, but did smack him, and now he is an angry spider in my car.  Is there any way to get rid of these things? Cheeto (the cat) is not doing his job. I think Jeff bought a can of Raid last year, it seemed to work for a few weeks, and then they came back. Who needs Halloween decorations when you can have the real ones =(


From Lora:


Ugh – Spiders!  I KNOW that they are beneficial for your yard and garden, but yuck!  That is one thing that totally creeps me out and I am down right afraid of them.  And are they out in full force this fall – we have webs everywhere including all over the lawn.  There is nothing less pretty in the fall when you are gazing out of your window looking at the fall dew on the grass contrasted with the fall leaves and seeing about a dozen spider webs all over your yard!


This web site has some good ideas from controlling spiders to using natural oils as “sprays”, along with homemade recipes.


Although, Karen, you are right.  If we just leave it all alone, we have already let Mother Nature decorate for the upcoming Halloween!  Just throw out a few pumpkins and let the spiders do their work.


And here is a neat idea from Johnny for a substitute for Shelf Paper:
If you want to put something that won’t tear under your pots and pans, try cheap vinyl tiles. Cut them to fit your shelf space and peel off the backing. Simply wipe clean.


So after we clean our pots and pans shelves and make sure there are no spiders living in there, we should have a thrifty and spider “safe” week… yeah, yeah, don’t even bother sending me the statistics about how we are always a foot away from 10 spiders and how many we eat in our sleep – seriously folks!  I can’t handle that!  J





Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 2, Issue 9 – September 28, 2009 (original issue date)


This one is from Johnny concerning spider control:

in the fall there are always “hedge” balls in the store, not sure what they are but they are the size of oranges, light green and bumpy all over.  For the past ten years I’ve been buying them every fall and hiding them in corners of the house and they seem to keep some of the spiders away… not totally but a reduction is better than nothing! 🙂 Especially the way they seem to be flocking in right now! 🙂


From Lora:

Oh yeah – I forgot about those things… I always wondered if they work or not.  And Sean says that we don’t eat spiders in our sleep, that this is considered to an urban myth.  It has to do with the fact that our mouths are warm and there is constant air flow and that spiders would not find that a safe place to crawl into. Myth Busters, anyone?!?!?


Here are some tidbits that come in my email box about keeping your carpets fresh and tips with those of us with pets…


How to remove pet odors and other stains from your carpet –


For neutralizing Cat accidents –


Have a great and thrifty week still keeping the spiders out, and having a great time cleaning our carpets!




Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 2, Issue 10 – October 25, 2009 (original issue date)


From Karen –

Hello thrifty sisters!  These last couple of weeks I did 2 thrifty things, both health care related. I picked up 3 months worth of my omeprazole (acid reflux medicine) in a 3 month supply and it was the pharmacy lady who recommended it – go pharmacy lady!!  I also took Charlie to the walk-in shot time at Pet Smart to get him his rabies shot. This is nice, because you only pay for the cost of the shot-not the extra $35 for the office visit. Now, if my cat could stop hiding from me every Sunday from 11am-1pm, I could herd him in to get it, as well.

I also wrote a list of tax deductions that I will look into:  Sales tax for ANY car purchased in 2009, reinvestment dividends (helps now that I have a retirement plan), used to be state sales tax that you could deduct previous years, which my turbo tax didn’t tell me about – now it is unsure if this will continue for next tax season.


Thanks, Karen for the thrifty update and tips!  Sounds like we should be checking into those options, as well.


This one is a little tib-bit that I caught off the Rachel Ray show (I normally don’t get to watch afternoon programming, but I wanted to check in on the winter weather updates that afternoon), and this caught my eye.  Rachel suggests taking old baggies and blowing them up with a straw, sealing them, and then using it to package items in the mail.  WHAT A GREAT IDEA!!!


This next bit of into was inspired by Johnny’s question that she posted a while ago.  This is from Martha Stewart’s weekly newspaper Q and A.,0,7450682.story

October 2, 2009

Q: Can dairy products be frozen?

A: Dairy products are best consumed fresh and, for the most part, do not take well to freezing. Although milk can be frozen for up to three months, this may result in an altered consistency after thawing. Guidelines for semihard and hard cheeses are similar; the flavor may not be sacrificed, but the texture likely will be more crumbly. Soft cheeses such as cottage cheese and ricotta shouldn’t be frozen at all, nor should buttermilk, cream, sour cream or yogurt.

Butter is a notable exception. Freezing isn’t just a viable option, it’s recommended if the butter won’t be used right away. After you purchase it, store a two-week supply in the original packaging in the refrigerator. (The designated butter compartment in the door is not an ideal location, because it’s usually a few degrees warmer than the main part, which should be set to a temperature lower than 40 degrees.) Seal the remaining sticks in freezer bags, which tend to be moisture and vapor proof, and freeze for up to three months. When it’s nearly time for another stick, transfer one to the fridge, and let it thaw overnight.

Who would have ever known?!

Thanks for reading through another Thrifty Sister.  Sorry the editions have been so sporadic.  The RHS Marching season is done, so now the only thing vying for my time will be the upcoming concert crazy seasons between the professional groups I am playing with and my little angles at the schools and university!

Until next time , keep it warm and thrifty!



Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 2, Issue 11 – November 29, 2009 (original issue date)


Hmmm, This is almost becoming a monthly newsletter!  Sorry!  Concert crazies are upon our household, and oh boy, oh boy, ‘tis the season!  In fact, I write this particular newsletter BEFORE today’s concert, in hopes that I will have more creative energy and the adrenaline will not wear out prior to the concert.  When I have thought about writing the newsletter after a concert, I usually just fall asleep on the sofa.


Speaking of the seasons, let’s talk about decorating.  This year I was not in the mood for holiday decorations (I am hoping for one more camping trip and eagerly waiting for the tulips to pop up!  I am afraid it will be a long winter!).  But with a few pumpkins and some garden baskets full of gourds, things sure look harvest-y around here.  I even repurposed a crate that I usually put plants in during the summer, cleaned it up, clipped up raffeta to look like hay and in went 9 little gourds and pumpkins.  Now that Thanksgiving is gone, and the gourds are composting on their own, it is time to shift gears. 


Decorating with “nature made” items was super easy, and since I didn’t put out a lot, clean up will be a breeze!  Consider taking that same philosophy on for the Christmas season.  In addition, by using nature-made items, all your decorations can go back to nature, and you might even reduce your clutter!


Want to make a garland this year?  Check out


Ask Martha how to make a pine cone wreath…

So, for all those in the neighborhood, the composting pumpkins and gourds will find their way to the compost bin, and SOMETHING Christmas-y should appear in the near future – after all of the concerts and such…   For the rest of you, enjoy this Christmas season.  Start a family tradition of making your own wreath or making some new ornaments! 

And for those who still have pumpkins, here is a recipe for “A Rejuvenating Seasonal Mask” –

Make a nourishing, and gently exfoliating facial mask: Mix in a blender 1/4 cup organic pumpkin leftover from carving, 2 tsp. honey for dry skin/ or apple cider vinegar for oily, and 2 tablespoons rough cut oatmeal.  Mix well. Smooth on skin and leave for 10 minutes. Rinse well with warm water. Pat dry.

Remember to keep it thrifty and fun this holiday season!  Lora.




Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 2, Issue 12 – December 13, 2009 (original issue date)


Greetings and Merry Christmas from my home to yours!  The holiday season is upon us and I hope that each of you are taking the opportunity to think thrifty and eco savvy as you purchase gifts for your loved ones and wrap them up.


As many of you know, I absolutely love to wrap presents!  And what a great way to expand you collection of wrapping goodies, but to save and re-use the items that have been gifted to you in the past.  I am not too proud to save Christmas paper, ribbons, bows, boxes, bags, etc and give them back later in the year!


Many places (even the most advanced of recycling centers) cannot recycle ribbons and gift paper.  Think to your Christmas days past and think about how much fuller your garbage bins were the week after Christmas vs. the week before.  By taking back and reusing even just one sheet of that paper means that you saved one more item from the landfills, and saved yourself a few bucks later when you reuse that paper!  And ribbon – can you imagine how much ribbon we use?  If you can save it, just think of all of the fun you can have with it down the road!


The following is reprinted from the TS from last December.  I wanted to re-run it, as it has such wonderful advice for reusing and recycling!  Merry Christmas – Lora.


Happy Holidays from thrifty sisters to thrifty sisters!!


Here are a few holiday tips that I have been using for years, and they work great…


Having trouble loading all of the gifts into your car to travel over the woods and through the hills of snow to Grandma’s house?  Use your laundry basket.  Great way to tote precious items back and forth – and they keep everything in one place.


Running out of name tags and it is 12:00 on Christmas Eve and there are no 24 hour store in sight?  Not a problem!  I have been re-using old Christmas cards for years!  They look festive and if you are into scrapping or stamping you can add your own special touches… I have some knock out designs this year and with a touch of a sparkly gel pen, they really can look very impressive.


Think about saving bows and ribbon from this year’s gifts and give them new life throughout the new year.  Remember that you can reuse paper if you unwrap things just right.  Paper and tissue paper can also be ironed on a low setting in between towels to get out most of the kinks.  And Gift bags are just begging to be reused!  There are tons of great ideas on wrapping things in re-useable wrapping.  If you are doing a kitchen bundle, for instance, you can wrap your gift in a towel for the kitchen or a table cloth – talk about reusing!!


And a note to my sisters… I think Mom still has more bags of ribbon to distribute; I doubt it is too late to ask for more from the “stash”!!!!  When you are home this holiday, see if mom can hook you up with a bag or two and help her unload Grandma’s collection.


Hope these ideas help – Merry Christmas to all!!!!!  Keep it thrifty and happy this holiday season!




Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 2, Issue 13 – January 10, 2010 (original issue date)


Happy New Years to all of my Thrifty Sisters!  I am sure that many of you have cleaned up, sorted and recycled all that you can from the previous holiday season and are looking forward to the upcoming New Year.  For some of us, that means looking forward and wondering “where are we going to put all of this snow?!?!?”  During our last blast of winter white, I shoveled snow out of the driveway and chucked into piles that are eye level.  I guess we will find out how high one can chuck snow until it falls back into your driveway.


Today, I thought I would discuss the world of vacuum cleaners.  What are our options?  What is the most cost effective solution to these little gadgets that keep our homes, oh, so pristine?


Frankly, my vacuum just sucks right now… well, actually, it has stopped sucking, and is just dragging stuff from one side of the room to the other.  It is not blowing (thank goodness!  If that were the case, I might take it outside and see what it can do with the snow in the driveway!) .  I have tried all of the tricks over the past couple of months.  I have tipped it over and pulled all of the fuzzies and hair out of the roller.  I have taken it apart and made sure that there is not obstruction in the hose (no left over pine needles from last years tree explosion were found in the machine!).  I have cleaned and washed all of the filters and dirt containers.  I think that it is on it’s last leg.  There is this funny burning belt smell that has accompanied the machine for several months now, but even when one takes this portion of the machine apart, there is not apparent obstruction.  Our dust buster is much more efficient right now than the upright vacuum.


Is it more cost effective to take it to a technician, or replace it?  My hubby and I priced models last weekend, and it appears that we can replace our current model with the modern equivalent for about $80.  We could even bump up to the pet hair model for a little more.


One option that I am reading about is the carpet sweeper.  It is WAY eco friendly (no electricity needed), and is perfect for those in-between vacuuming projects.  Hmmm, there we go again, the vacuuming needs to happen to get the deep down, tracked in and stayed put dirt. 


Here is a cute “sum it up” article that I found about vacuums –


After some research, it looks like vacuums just aren’t built the way that they used to (especially since I am not going to run out and spend thousands of dollars on a vacuum!).  I guess that is why some models are so cheap and seem to be designed to last such a short time.  Our previous vacuum had a small “accident” when we were moving from the apartment to the house.  I was vacuuming the apartment when I smelled this terrible “warm” smell, so I shut it off and unplugged it.  I then noticed some smoke starting to waif out of the top, and I rushed the whole machine straight through the patio door (it would have been so hard to explain why the carpet was going to need to be replaced in our apartment!).  As I reached the outside, the vacuum actually was billowing smoke, and I chucked it into the snow bank (there is mentioning of snow again…), where it made some silly sizzling sounds and proceeded to cool off out there until I sent it to its final resting spot in the dumpster several hours later.  What a time for the vacuum to die! 


That was 5 years ago and it looks like it is time for us to either invest in another vacuum or figure out if ours is repairable. 


With that, I hope that you and yours have a wonderful new year and if you have any great vacuuming advice, I would love to hear it!  Keep it thrifty and hopefully vacuum-fire free!



Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 2, Issue 14 – January 16, 2010 (original issue date)


I must say, the vacuum cleaner discussion received the most responses EVER to the Thrifty Sister!  After an overwhelming reply about how I should change my belts, my hubby and I decided that 8 million readers can’t be wrong (haha – kidding!  However, many people did write back!)


Good, old, stubborn Lora wrote off the first few responses (because, REALLY – my belt looked just fine!  It just smelled funny!), but as the responses continued to come in, we decided that a $2.99 investment in 2 belts (that is how they sell belts, by the pair) might be worth the gamble.  So the belts came home, and I ripped that stupid machine apart “one” more time, took out the old belt, brought out the new belt… hmmm… wait a second, the old belt looks much bigger than the new belt… in fact, almost a whole inch bigger!  In goes the new belt, and HELLO!!  I am completely in love with my “brought back to life” vacuum!  My vacuum really does “suck” now and completely in a good way! (haha)


So, thank you to everyone who helped save the family about $80!  I guess it takes a village to keep each other thrifty! (Or, maybe a village to convince me that my diagnosis was WRONG!)  Either way – thank you for the help.


Here is my sister Karen’s response about her new vacuum purchase…


We just got a roomba. The 550 newest model was listed for $400 at Sears and we got it for $250 at Costco. The Roomba cleans our house everyday. I never have to sweep or vacuum again. I tested it against my vacuum and realized it picks just as much up. It goes underneath the  couches, the bed, under the kitchen cabinets, dusts the base boards, senses changes in texture and adjusts, spends more time on dirtier spots, automatically finds its docking station to recharge, and I come home to a clean house everyday.


And this one came in from Christine about how to purchase refurbished models…


We have an Oreck, which has served us well for many years.  I think I bought it in 2002, and I had to get the belt replaced a couple years ago.  Other than that, it works just as well today, as when I bought it.  Now, I know Orecks can be pretty expensive.  I think they retail for at least a few hundred dollars.  But I was able to get ours for 50% off!  If I remember correctly, the vacuum was first used in a hotel, and then they reconditioned it and sold it to me for half price.  I think they still offer similar deals periodically.  So I have a great vacuum that will last for a long time, AND since I bought it “used” it’s better for the environment too!


Way to go thrifty Sisters!  As you can see, I am posting this week’s newsletter a little early.  I was so excited about the results, I couldn’t wait another 24 hours to share the good news with you all.  So with that, I think I am going to take my vacuum out for another spin through the house.  Here is to keeping things clean and thrifty to all of you – have a great week!



Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 2, Issue 15 – January 24, 2010 (original issue date)


Greetings, Thrifty Sisters!  Now that my vacuum is running great, I seem to feel as if “everything” is “under control”  ….  you don’t believe that statement either?  Ha


Britt sent this little tid-bit of info about Roombas…

Lora tell your sister Karen that if she leaves for any length of time and her dogs/cats can’t “hold it”, a roomba will smear poop all over the carpet.  Anyone with dogs will cringe but I read an article on it the other day. Vacuums all die.


Mmmmm, yummy to think about what you could come home to!!!!


Here is something from Karen that we can all contemplate for the week – I am curious to see what the responses will be!


Ode to our long lasting products


Too often you hear people say, “They don’t like make that like they used to”. So, in  efforts to focus on those long-standing these that took their course, I decided to highlight a few items that lasted so long, I lamented when they died. 


#1) My pair of Dockers pants that got washed every week for the last 6 years died. I am so excited to buy another pair, because of their insane durability.

#2) My plastic strainer made it over a decade, before the bottom fell out a week ago. Jeff had that in Montana as a college kid before I met him.

#3) My hairdryer. It has been sturdy and strong since I got it my senior year before college.

And for kicks and giggles, a few items that frustrated me immediately after buying them:

#1) My target swimsuit. it’s first wear the string fell off.

#2) Charlie, or as Jeff’s band parents and friends call him, “Chuck”, and when his mother is mad at him, “Charles”. Also goes by Mr.C., frog dog, fronka donk, my little man, and Charlie bo Barlie. His recent activity includes eating and licking our walls?

#3) Shoes that feel fine when you buy them and then feel incredibly uncomfortable when you put them on for the first time at home, after you have taken the tags off.


And speaking of reusing, here is a great web site to visit and read about the reuse revolution!  With that folks, have a fabulous and thrifty week!




Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 2, Issue 16 – January 31, 2010 (original issue date)


Oh were, oh were should I dump my old blankets, pillows, coats, etc… oh were, oh were should they go?


Call your local animal shelter!  Many local shelters will take items such as old towels, coats, blankets, Granny’s fur coats where cats, dogs, rabbits, and other animals can use them as bedding.  Just call ahead to see which items they accept!  What a great way to re-purpose items that might end up in the landfill, and are too worn for places like your local thrift store.


I am still collecting lists of people’s favorite (or not so favorite items that they have purchased), so if you are interested in submitting your list, just hit reply and let me know!


This email came from Madi and I thought it would be a fun way to spend a snowy afternoon, and make a difference!  (or for those of us who really should be doing something ELSE, but are procrastinating that particular task!).  (NOTE – the Thrifty Sisters have not clicked on these, so I am not sure what you will be getting into, but it sounds like fun!)


Do you ever get on the computer just to be on it, but you don’t have anything good to do? Well how about visiting some of these sites and helping contribute to saving the rainforest, feeding the hungry,  and helping animals (just to name a few). All of the below sites have sponsors that donate money and other things to different organizations when you click a button or play a game. So instead of wasting time on the computer, why not start making a difference?
=Staple Foods=
** – Free Rice
** – Free Bread

=Free Water=
*** – Lots of free water!
** – Free water

=Free Meals=
*** – Just Click!
*** – Click the green button!
*** – Just Click!
*** – Click the blue button!
*** – Click the white button!
*** – Click the green box!
*** – Click the blue box!
*** – Click the yellow box!
*** – Click the Bread button!
*** – Click the blue box!
*** – Just visit the site!
*** – Click on the small red ball.
*** – Just click!

Help the kids:
** – Click the blue box!
** – Click the blue button!

Causes change monthly:
** – Click the red button!

* – Submit a word
** – German Rice Game!



Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 2, Issue 17 – February 7, 2010 (original issue date)


It is time for more “Fun with Vinegar” tips on this Super Bowl Sunday!  I hope that all of my Thrifty Sisters are enjoying their Super Bowl Sunday and are getting ready for the Big Game… in whatever way you want to celebrate it!  Here is a great tip on washing those fun bite sized nibbly dibblies for this afternoon… and forever!!!


I would have to say that one of my favorite purchases is the gallons of vinegar that we have been using.  I am using vinegar for so many of my cleaning chores, why not apply it to cleaning your produce? (After all of the vinegar projects… spraying weeds, cleaning, etc, etc, I still only buy a gallon every few months.  Amazing stuff!  And not just for Easter Eggs anymore, kiddies!)


So what is the best way to wash your produce?  Use water and white vinegar in a spray bottle or use the soak approach.  A few squirts on your fruits and veggies gets rid of things such as pesticide residue and no more store-bought washes necessary!


A diluted vinegar rinse (some recipes call for equal parts water to vinegar and some dilute the vinegar as much as 3:1) kills 98% of bacteria on produce, costs pennies in comparison to the store bought washes!  And if you are not buying store bought containers, you don’t have to recycle them.  Granted, you still need to buy the bottles of vinegar, but you will buy fewer bottles in the long run.  If you already have a bottle of the premade stuff, use it up and simply reuse the sprayer!


Years ago, I used to purchase the FIT spray, and then someone (thanks, Tanya!) brought out a FIT colander and bowl set.  Since we were living in a small rural town, FIT was not easily assessable (And duh!  Everyone was probably already washing with vinegar and water – way to be old school and thrifty!) So I use the colander and bowl for a lot of washing and draining – I just throw a splash of vinegar into the water filled bowl/colander, wash, and lift the colander out and rinse!


Rinse with water after you spray.


Check out this web site for more recipes and info about the benefits of washing with vinegar.


This web site had one piece of advice that I wanted to pull out and share with everyone –

 A small cautionary: Never soak mushrooms in this manner. Scrub them, and then rinse minimally under cold running water. Letting them soak allows them to absorb extra water.


Happy Game Day to all of the TS’s and their families… now go wash your veggies!




Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 2, Issue 18 – March 8, 2010 (original issue date)


From Karen –

Happy Thrifty sister!
Well, this last week for being thrifty I decided to call our local high school that offers the vo-tech program of cosmetology and enroll!  J/K, I didn’t enroll, but I did ask for a haircut and highlights and got in! These programs are so awesome. Who knows? Maybe this summer I’ll get in touch with the nearest massage school for a massage, as well.

This weekend we bought some beautiful flooring at Lumber Liquidators in Tacoma and they are an outlet that sells killer flooring. Also, as far as home stuff, about 4 years ago we went to Sear’s Ding and Dent Outlet store, which is all the appliances that have knicks, dings, scratches. We were able to get really good deals.


From Lora –

Thanks, Karen, for the great reminders about outlets and trade schools that need to provide services.  The last time I went in for a haircut, my gal told me that their new massage girl had to put in 4 hours a week of free massages for her “hours” to get certified.  Of course, her times were when I am teaching, but what a great idea!  And those were hour long massages…


Here are some great beauty tips with baking soda… let’s see, I had the “Fun with Vinegar” tips, lets call this “The Beauty of Baking Soda”.  I have oodles of these tips, so I will try to add a few each newsletter.


The Beauty of Baking Soda –Part 1

For your hair needs, try these little tricks.  I have used the first one and it works like a charm! 

Remove buildup. Mix a small palm-full of baking soda to your shampoo to remove buildup from conditioners, mousses and hairsprays.

Dry shampoo. No time for a shampoo? Baking soda can be used as a dry shampoo when your hair is oily. Sprinkle some on your hair, comb through then quickly fluff your hair with a blow dryer.

Chlorine-damaged tresses. Mix 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda with 1 pint warm water.

Combs and brushes. Remove product and oil buildup by soaking your utensils in a bowl of warm water with about 3 tablespoons of baking soda. You can also add a splash of bleach.

Have a great week and keep on keeping it thrifty! 



Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 2, Issue 19 – March 15, 2010 (original issue date)

Greetings fellow Thrifty Sisters!  I hope that everyone is having a wonderful week.  Saturday is the official start to spring according to the calendar! 

I understand that Karen’s home improvements are coming along nicely.  Several of my friends and neighbors are looking at the tail end of many winter home improvements projects, so good job to you all! 

While many of us are spring-cleaning and remodeling, you may want to take time to thing about “repurposing”, “reusing”, and “recycling” items that you may either run across or thinking about replacing. 

My favorite “repurpose” object thus far in our house has been the mirror in the downstairs bathroom.  It had at one time some fake etching and the frame was in bad shape since it had been hanging in the moist bathroom.  I used a razor blade and removed the “etching” (it was a clear coating that through the years started to rub off and smear across the glass), and walla!  The mirror surface was clean and smudge free.  I then spray painted the frame white to match the new blue and white theme.  Total cost… whatever the spray paint can was.  Nice!

Johnny recently wrote this… “I noticed this weekend all the stuff that our grandparents did for reusing items have a new name!  “upcycling” – google it once, there is some crazy stuff out there that people are doing!  Some of it is pretty cool but some is just downright crazy!  I think you could spend more on parts to “rescue” items than it’s worth sometimes.”

Good thoughts, Johnny!  So take into consideration of what your overall project is.  Can you salvage the item and still be thrifty, or is it a better investment to donate it (if it is still in useable condition) and get what you want? 

Speaking of  repurposing items, Johnny has an all call out for 100% wool sweaters.  I am not sure what she is making, but re-using wool sweaters can create awesome projects!  (If you would like to donate to the cause, let me know and I can get you in contact with her).  For the rest of you crafty folks, here is a sample of what one could create with things such as old wool sweaters.

And to continue on with The Beauty of Baking Soda, here are some tricks for your skin.


The Beauty of Baking Soda –Part 2

Facial Exfoliant. In the palm of your hand, mix some baking soda with your facial cleanser to make a gentle exfoliant. Use circular motions to apply gently then rinse as usual for very soft skin.

Rough skin. This also works for the rough skin on elbows and feet. Make a thick paste with baking soda and water (about 3 parts baking soda to one part water) and scrub away.

Shaving. A solution of 1 tablespoon baking soda in a cup of water works as a pre-shave product of aftershave rinse for men with sensitive skin.

With that, have a healthy, happy and thrifty week – Lora.



Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 2, Issue 20 – March 21, 2010 (original issue date)


Happy Spring to all of my Thrifty Sisters! 


With spring in the air, I am sure that many of you are busy tackling those cluttered closets and happily washing and storing your winter gear.  My hubby found a great article about cleaning items in your various washing machines and about the usage of soap, (actually, how most of us over use soap!).  You can read about it here –


Need some tips on spring-cleaning?  Here is a nice list that should be able to give anyone some great ideas and a place to start


Need a checklist for your spring cleaning?  “check”… I found one!  (as if you might not already have a list of your own!)  This one breaks it down by rooms.


What about just organizing your home?  Here are some great some ideas that make a daunting task seem less overwhelming.  And remember, start small, finish one item at a time and then move on to the next task.  (checklist, anyone?  My mom loves lists and I think that I am addicted to them, too!  Thanks, Mom, for helping me stay organized!!!)


When you are all finished cleaning and organizing, why not consider taking a moment for yourself and indulge in this week’s Beauty with Baking Soda tip.


The Beauty of Baking Soda –Part 3

Uses for the MOUTH

Tooth polish and whitener. Baking soda toothpastes have been long-time shelf staples for a reason. The baking soda works to freshen breathe, whiten, and polish teeth. Dip a damp toothbrush in baking soda and brush away. For a double dip of clean, dip a toothbrush with toothpaste in baking soda.

To clean your toothbrush, soak your toothbrush in a mixture of water and baking soda and overnight.

And with that, happy dusting, organizing and brushing this week and remember to not overuse your cleaning products!  It is not very thrifty to dump money down the drain! 



Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 2, Issue 21 – April 11, 2010 (original issue date)

Now that I am sure that we have all sorted and organized our homes since the last time I wrote, here is a cute idea of what to do with old pillowcases. 

Johnny writes – I think I’m a bit behind on this fad, but here’s a use for pillow cases! 🙂  I have four vintage ones I picked up at a yard sale one year and couldn’t part with but also couldn’t figure out what to do with them save using them as… pillow cases… now, I’m going to learn to sew and make them into dresses for my daughter! 🙂 If you click on the how to section there’s also other fun stuff, including a pin cushion from a cracked teacup that would otherwise be tossed…. unless you make the jewelry out of china pieces and that is a whole other story 🙂

And in conjunction with the tooth brushing advice, my older sister wrote in – Careful!
Don’t just “brush away” with Baking Soda. Yes, I use it to freshen and whiten teeth, but in this form, it is extremely abrasive — a Dentist would not approve. Just cake the teeth with a moistened finger dabbed in a dollop of b. soda and let set in your mouth, not swallowing, as long as you can stand it. Then gently brush, very gently and or just rinse and spit.
–Big Sis

Good advice for all of us “scrubbers” out there!  Keep your gum line intact so you don’t have to go through the gum rebuilding surgeries.  (Those are neither thrifty, nor anywhere near my top 500 things to do list).

And this is in from Renee – all this talk about fresh cucumbers will make you want to run outside and enjoy the lovely spring day that we have on tap for our region!

1. Cucumbers contain most of the vitamins you need every day, just one cucumber contains Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc.

2. Feeling tired in the afternoon, put down the caffeinated soda and pick up a cucumber. Cucumbers are a good source of B Vitamins and Carbohydrates that can provide that quick pick-me-up that can last for hours.

3. Tired of your bathroom mirror fogging up after a shower? Try rubbing a cucumber slice along the mirror, it will eliminate the fog and provide a soothing, spa-like fragrance.

4. Are grubs and slugs ruining your planting beds? Place a few slices in a small pie tin and your garden will be free of pests all season long. The chemicals in the cucumber react with the aluminum to give off a scent undetectable to humans but drive garden pests crazy and make them flee the area.

5. Looking for a fast and easy way to remove cellulite before going out or to the pool? Try rubbing a slice or two of cucumbers along your problem area for a few minutes, the phytochemicals in the cucumber cause the collagen in your skin to tighten, firming up the outer layer and reducing the visibility of cellulite. Works great on wrinkles too!!!

6.. Want to avoid a hangover or terrible headache? Eat a few cucumber slices before going to bed and wake up refreshed and headache free.  Cucumbers contain enough sugar, B vitamins and electrolytes to replenish essential nutrients the body lost, keeping everything in equilibrium, avoiding both a hangover and headache!!

7. Looking to fight off that afternoon or evening snacking binge?  Cucumbers have been used for centuries and often used by European trappers, traders and explores for quick meals to thwart off starvation.

8. Have an important meeting or job interview and you realize that you don’t have enough time to polish your shoes? Rub a freshly cut cucumber over the shoe, its chemicals will provide a quick and durable shine that not only looks great but also repels water.

9. Out of WD 40 and need to fix a squeaky hinge? Take a cucumber slice and rub it along the problematic hinge, and voila, the squeak is gone!

10. Stressed out and don’t have time for massage, facial or visit to the spa? Cut up an entire cucumber and place it in a boiling pot of water, the chemicals and nutrients from the cucumber will react with the boiling water and be released in the steam, creating a soothing, relaxing aroma that has been shown to reduce stress in new mothers and
college students during final exams.

11. Just finish a business lunch and realize you don’t have gum or mints? Take a slice of cucumber and press it to the roof of your mouth with your tongue for 30 seconds to eliminate bad breath, the phytochemcials will kill the bacteria in your mouth responsible for causing bad breath.

12. Looking for a ‘green’ way to clean your faucets, sinks or stainless steel? Take a slice of cucumber and rub it on the surface you want to clean, not only will it remove years of tarnish and bring back the shine, but is won’t leave streaks and won’t harm you fingers
or fingernails while you clean.  I’ll bet you thought this would be rude.

13. Using a pen and made a mistake? Take the outside of the cucumber and slowly use it to erase the pen writing, also works great on crayons and markers that the kids have used to decorate the walls!!

And you thought it was just for salad or making pickles.



Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 2, Issue 22 – June 6, 2010


Oh my, where has the time gone?!?!  I can’t believe that the Thrifty sister has been idle since April!


Karen sent me a couple of thrifty sister notes, but I did not do a good job communicating it to the rest of the sisters!  And to think that June 15th will be the 3 year anniversary of the Thrifty Sister!


This note is the latest from Karen –


I found out that it’s good to shop around for homeowner’s insurance rates, as they can vary tremendously. Therefore, I got a quote from Progressive and found out that we could not get coverage, because the roof is too old. The house was built in 1983 and there are no papers stating that the roof was replaced, nor does it look replaced since then. Does anybody else think this is too old for a roof? It’s not like thrifty sister will change their minds, but then it got me wondering what the life expectancy for a roof was and our inspection report from 2006, when we bought it said the roof had a 5-year expectancy before it would need to be replaced. That’s next year.  Well, so much for shopping around for rates now….


Yes, Karen, shopping around for insurance is a great idea, although I must admit I am terrible at doing so.  Shopping around for new insurance sounds like the worst time of my life – and therefore I am happy with who we have.  However, being denied due to your roof being too old – that is a new one to me!  Interesting…


Several of the homes in my neighborhood are being reshingled.  And it turns out that there was a bad batch of shingles when the builders were doing to roofs in the neighborhood.  I do not know the brand, and since we are not the original homeowners we are not able to jump on the money bandwagon, but several of our neighbors are filing for the money that may come up due to the class action lawsuit.  In addition, the neighbors are all going for the 35-year shingles, so I am guessing the life of a roof depends on the shingle life expectancy. 


On a completely different side note, I ran across this nifty little piece of advice that I wanted to share from a recent gardening newsletter called “Extra Dirt”. 


“Make peace by simply giving skunks some space. Heeding their early warning signs, which include stamping feet and erect tails, will spare you a spray. But if Fido suddenly sports a new eau de parfum, mix 1 quart of hydrogen peroxide with ¼ cup of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of liquid dish soap. Wipe, rinse, and shampoo.”


And with that, we should be spending our thrifty weeks looking at our roofs, checking on good deals on insurances (ugh!  That really sounds like an awful time to me!!) and now, we are prepared for the unintended skunk run in.


Hope everyone is enjoying the end of the spring season as the summer solstice is only about 2 weeks away!



Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 6, Issue 13 – October 27, 2013

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 6, Issue 13 – October 27, 2013

Greetings, my Thrifty Sisters!  I hope that you each had a fantastic week and were able to sneak in time to do a little thrifty fun!  (I am still hoping that someone will share the fruits of their labor with me on that apple pie in a jar recipe that I shared last week!)

My sister Karen has returned to sharing tips with the Thrifty Sisters (I have missed your sage advice and humor!)!  Karen had some clever tib-bits to share about olive oil:

Hi Lora,

The lady who sold me some black pearl earrings in Kaui said to rub olive oil on the pearls, as it helps clean them while not depleting them of their sheen, once a year.  I used it for a while as a tanning oil when I ran out of my Maui Babe lotion.  Maui Babe has kakui oil, caffeine, some other oil, etc. so it probably also made me smell like a tanned potato.  We use oil (can be any oil) to once a year heat up our pots and pans evenly to (a hot temperature), and lacquer it in the pots and pans, and then wash them.  It keeps the teflon on the pan, acting as a barrier between the wooden spoon and the pot/pan for almost a year. – Karen

Karen, these are great tib-bits!  Thank you so much for sharing! Has anyone else used olive oil for additional uses? That olive oil is pretty versatile stuff – from cleaning pearls to coating pans, to tanning – wow – who knew!? It is like joys of vinegar for the oil world!

And, speaking of vinegar, I realize that I love to tout the joys of it’s use, but there are always a few good reminders of when NOT to use vinegar. The following article has some great reminders and new to me information about when vinegar may not be the smartest of choices for certain cleaning chores.

“8 Ways Not to Use Vinegar” by By Adam Verwymeren,

Common household vinegar is one of those wonder products that people are always discovering new uses for. Whether you want to drive away dandruff, eradicate mildew, or keep bugs at bay, vinegar has been proposed as a solution to just about every problem under the sun.

But while it has a number of uses, vinegar isn’t always the solution, and on occasion it can be downright dangerous. Here are the top 8 ways not to put this miracle substance to work in your home.

1. While vinegar is good at cleaning many things, you shouldn’t confuse it with soap. Alkaline cleaners like dish detergent are ideally suited for lifting grease, whereas vinegar will have little effect on it. If you have a greasy cleaning job, reach for regular soap and leave the vinegar on the shelf.

2. You should never use vinegar on waxed surfaces. The vinegar will only strip the wax off, dulling the sheen on your nicely shined car. However, vinegar is a great option if you’re looking to remove an old coat of wax before you put down a fresh layer of polish.

3. Do not use vinegar on marble countertops or other stoneware, as it can cause the stone to pit and corrode, according to the Marble Institute.

4. Your smartphone and laptop monitor probably have a thin layer of oleophobic coating that limits fingerprints and smudges. Acidic vinegar can strip this off, so you should never use it to clean sensitive screens.

5. Cast iron and aluminum are reactive surfaces. If you want to use vinegar to clean pots and pans, use it exclusively on stainless steel and enameled cast iron cookware.

6. While both bleach and vinegar are powerful cleaning agents, when mixed together they make a powerful chemical weapon. Chlorine gas, the stuff used to clear the trenches in World War I, results when bleach is mixed with an acidic substance, so never mix them together.

7. While vinegar can be useful as an insecticide, you shouldn’t spray it directly on bug-infested plants as it can damage them. However, you can use vinegar’s plant-killing effect to your advantage by using it as a weed killer, as suggested by several people on Hometalk.

8. If you’re the victim of an egging, do not try to dissolve the remnants of this prank away with vinegar. Vinegar will cause the proteins in the egg to coagulate, creating a gluey substance that is even more impossible to clean up, says Popular Mechanics.

I also feel obligated to say that although vinegar is touted as a great way to remove mildew and mold, like bleach it only kills surface mold. Most mold problems are deeper than what you see on the surface, and your best bet is to kill them at their source (which is usually leaks and rotting drywall).

As the end of October quickly approaches, there may be a few of you trying to scrounge up some last minute costumes (Halloween is Thursday of this week).  I know that seems to be the case in my home.  Over the years, we have collected a few costume staples that have been reused from year to year, but even with a little help from the Halloween tub, ideas can run dry at the last minute. Once again, Martha has come up with some clever ideas to help those of us who may have lacked in creativity this year.  Check out these ideas that would be fun for any age level!

And with that my Thrifty Sisters, may you each have a spectacular week full of whimsy and fun. Enjoy the new olive oil tricks, and watch were you spray that vinegar! Keep on keeping it thrifty.

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 6, Issue 12 – October 20, 2013

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 6, Issue 12 – October 20, 2013

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters!  I hope that you each of you enjoyed a lovely week walking down memory lane and remembering the frugal things that your grandparents did, and had fun incorporating those things into your lives!

My hubby shared a thrifty memory one evening this past week while making supper.  He said that when he was a little boy his mom would take left over buns, of any sort, toast them up in the oven and serve them in place of dinner rolls at the next meal.  Sean even took it to the next level and used some left over marinara sauce and shredded cheese to make hot dog bun sized “fancy” dinner rolls. One could also use that exact recipe for a nice snack for the kids – little mini snack pizzas!

Was anyone else able to come up with any good ol’ memories to share?

I ran across this article about uses of olive oil that I wanted to share with you. There are some great little tid-bits on things from cleaning make-up off your face to polishing your furniture – I know that I learned a couple of new tricks from this list!

“10 Unusual Uses for Olive Oil” by Becky Striepe, November 8, 2011

Olive oil is a “healthy fat” and in moderation can help reduce your risk for all sorts of ailments, like heart disease and high blood pressure. We know that olive oil is healthy for our insides, but did you know it has all sorts of other uses for you, around the home, and even for pets?

1. Make your own sugar scrub: You can use olive oil to create a moisturizing, exfoliating sugar scrub that’s great for soothing dry winter skin. Just mix up sugar with enough olive oil to form a paste, add scent with your favorite essential oils, and you’re ready to rock. Massage the sugar scrub into your skin in the shower or bath.

2. Moisturize your hands and feet: To give those dry hands and feet some extra TLC this winter, massage a small amount of olive oil into your skin after you take a bath or shower. Put on socks and gloves afterward to help that moisture absorb into your skin. You’ll notice results almost immediately!

3. Oiling your hair: Oiling your hair is a practice that’s been around for centuries. While some tutorials call for coconut oil to oil your hair, olive oil works just as well. Just put a few drops of olive oil onto your hands, massage into your scalp, then brush or comb to distribute the oil evenly. Let it sit for about an hour, then wash the excess oil away with your favorite non-toxic shampoo.

4. Hairball prevention for cats: Even your cats can benefit from olive oil! Depending on your cat’s size, feed her 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of olive oil to help prevent hairballs. The olive oil will help their coats look shinier, too!

5. Unsticking a zipper: Ever gone to take off your boots, only to discover that the zipper is stuck? Free yourself by dabbing a bit of olive oil onto the zipper’s teeth to help it slide along smoothly. Remember: a little oil goes a long way.

6. Makeup remover: Store bought makeup removers and cold creams are often loaded with toxic mystery ingredients. You can skip the polysyllabic guessing game with olive oil instead. Use a warm, damp wash cloth or a cotton ball with a couple of drops of olive oil to remove makeup and moisturize your face at the same time.

7. Soothe a sunburn: You don’t want to put oil onto your skin the day that you notice a burn, but start moisturizing with olive oil a day or two later to help prevent peeling and heal your damaged skin.

8. Treat a dry scalp: Forget the Head and Shoulders, which is full of mystery ingredients! Massage a small amount of olive oil into your scalp to moisturize and fight those flakes.

9. Revitalize wood furniture: Whip up a mixture that’s 2 parts olive oil to 1 part lemon juice. Put a small amount of oil on a soft cloth, and wipe down your wood furniture. It will keep the wood from drying out and help hide small nicks and scratches.

10. Wash your face: Washing your face with oil may sound counter-intuitive, but many green beauty gurus swear by the Oil Cleansing Method (OCM).

I bet this only scratches the surface of olive oil’s many uses. How do you use olive oil when you’re not cooking with it?

There were some great ideas in that article, don’t you think?

Last weekend I had the lovely opportunity to peel and freeze away some of the most delicious apples ever given to me!  (Thanks, Paige!!!  Those apples were perfect!!) It was a nice, sun filled warm afternoon, and quiet… something that is a rarity in this home.  I just peeled and sliced apples for a long time.  I was able to freeze up over 16 cups of sliced and peeled apples.  While peeling away, I was checking out some nifty ideas of what to do with apples and I ran across canning apple filling!  Oh, yes – apple filling in a jar, that could live in my pantry and be at my beck and call throughout the upcoming winter season!  Oh… super yum!

Of course, with any recipe, there seemed to be inconsistencies if you should use Clear Jel (oh dear… what is THAT?!?!) or corn starch (I know what this is, but apparently this known product is not going to be of any help to setting my pie filling).  Well, in the end, I choose to freeze my apples as I have done in that past and have chosen to take on deciphering canning talk and discovering what Clear Jel is for a winter project. If anyone can help me with any of this, that would be great.

And low and behold, what little glorious tip came through my email this week, but a delightful tutorial on canning apple pie filling from my favorite canning girlie, Marissa McClellan and her blog Foods in Jars. This Clear Jel thing is still a mystery to me, but Marissa sure did clear up a few other canning questions and had some great advice on this project! So if you are feeling adventurous, try canning a little apple pie in a jar.  Then bring a jar over to me!

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, may you each have a fantastic week continuing to be thrifty like your Grandma (share those stories!), enjoy the olive oil tid-bits and please share your apple pie in a jar results with me! Until next week, keep it thrifty and fun!

Vol 1, Original issue date: June 15, 2008 – June 7, 2009

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 1, Issue 1 – Original issue date: June 15, 2008

Greetings to old and new Thrifty Sisters!  Recently, I had the incredible opportunity to have the Thrifty Sister Newsletters posted and shared HERE on WordPress – Johnny has graciously allowed me to tag along as she has moved her PrarieNewsLetter site to here.  And, seriously, who could say “no” to sharing helpful, thrifty, and environmentally friendly tips?  Below is the first of what eventually became a full fledged, email-based newsletter.  For those who have followed the sisters since the beginning, it may be fun to go back and relive some of these posts.  For those of you who are just beginning your journey with us, sit back and enjoy, and feel free to contribute to the information, as I may be able to use your tid-bits in current editions, which eventually will begin to be shared in this column, as well.  As always, feel free to send in your suggestions or ask to be on the email list by email me at

Here is the first email, from one sister to another that started this whole journey:

From my sister Karen:

Hi Lora,

I wanted to start a forum with you about ways to save money.  If we email one tip a week to each other, it will give us time to absorb the information, apply it, and let it sink in.  I will start.  Well, this last weekend I went to the dollar store to get my cleaning products, which usually last me a long time.  I got a lot of products for a $1, and then I realized that I could see if other products were also there, such as nail paint remover, etc.  I was happy to see that I could get window cleaner and not pay $3 or $4 at Wal-Mart. 

Lora’s reply back to her sister:

I think this is an awesome idea!!!!!!
Hmmm, never thought about getting things like cleaning items from the dollar store. That is a great idea!
Ok – here is one for the cleaning items. We go through kitchen counter cleaner like it is milk… and I am not so hot about just spraying random chemicals around the house, so this year I am making a conscious effort to make our house more and more “green” – many reasons are in play here, but I am just shocked at how much $$$ we are saving. Here is one change that I have implemented and has successfully been adapted by all members of the household.

(hoakie name, but this was in the Natural Home Magazine that you gave me a subscription to a couple of birthdays ago)
We use this as a counter and table cleaner – Sean hates the smell of the vinegar, and he even approves of this one… and once you have the stuff to make it, it is SO cheap!

“No Rinse Green Clean”
1 cup of white distilled vinegar
2 cups of water
5-10 drops of lavender essential oil (has to be the real essential oil for the disinfecting properties, but a little jar lasts a long time)

Place in spray bottle, shake before each use.

This cuts grease, disinfects (both the vinegar and lavender have disinfecting properties) and leaves a clean scent.

*we bumped up the lavender to 15-20 drops so it would cover up the vinegar smell.* We are going to play around with lemon scented, next time we make it.

Thanks for starting this forum – I think it is a great idea.

Love, Lora.

Editors Note (1/21/11):  Since the start of the Thrifty Sister, I would like to point out that this recipe has pretty much replaced all of the household cleaners in my home– we use it in the bathrooms, on windows, in the kitchen, etc.  This is a great and CHEAP product, and even my mother-in-law has enjoyed the fresh scent that our home has after cleaning with it.  I have over the years experimented with many oils in various combinations (with no regrets!) – so let the oil mixing begin!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 1, Issue 2 – Original issue date: June 21, 2008

From: Karen
Subject: Re: cost saving move of the week

Well, I tried to brainstorm my next cost-saving move. Instead of getting my hair cut
every 3 months, I will shoot for every 4 months. In the meantime, I have always
had a pet peeve about paying $30 for a haircut that will just need to be done
again in 3 months. I guess I think it just does not make sense.

From Lora:

How about instead of a full priced Salon (I don’t know where you are getting your hair cut right now) you head to either a beauty school (you will never have “your girl”, but they are cheaper) or to places like Great Clips – JJ and I get our hair cut on the same day for about $28.00.

I love the idea of trying to space it out, and as long as you are not trying to keep a short cut and your hair does not grow really, really fast that might work. Let me know how that goes for you!

Although, in the long run, $30 every few months is not too bad for hair. 🙂

Ok – my turn…

I am going nuts with this vinegar thing… last week I told you about the spray that we use in the kitchen. This week, I ventured outside with a spray bottle of nothing but straight up vinegar. It works astonishingly well on thistles!!! I noticed that some dandelions keel over after a squirt, some need a couple shots. It works on killing everything…. even the things that you might want to keep – like grass!  I have a few brown patches in the yard, hehe! This stuff is SO cheap, and environmentally friendly, and your doggie can follow you around while you destroy weeds (and it won’t cause cancer to him or you). I have told all my neighbors about it. Of course, after a few overzealous sprays here and there I might need to throw some more grass seed down, but man, NO Round-up. It is perfect for borders, spot spraying and thistles!!!!!

Love, Lora.

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 1, Issue 3 – Original issue date: July 2, 2008

This week I decided to share tips from some of my “sister-friends” and pass along some of their advice on past and new tips – have a great week saving $$$$!  Love, Lora.

Here is a great hair tip from Christine – she writes:

Thanks for sending this to me, Lora!  What fun!  🙂

As far as haircuts go, I don’t go to places like Great Clips because they don’t know how to cut my curly hair.  I go to a gal that normally charges about $28, but I tell her not to blow dry and style it (it ends up a poofy mess anyway), and she reduces the price to $22!  And I usually go at least 4 months if not longer in between cuts.

These are great tips from my friend Dany –

Dany writes:  Hey Lora! What a fun idea. This is a little strange, but when I get down to the bottom of a tube of something, like tooth paste or lotion, I snip off the end with a pair of scissors and spoon out what is left. You can get a couple extra brushings. This also works with plastic bottles. I have a closet full of half-full bottles of lotions, shampoo, body sprays, etc., and I’ve been working on using them all up before buying more.

I’ve been doing the Great Clips thing as well. I just can’t pay $30 for a trim. If you find a stylist at one of these places that you really like, find out what days they work, and then when you get there, ask for that specific person. You might have to wait a little longer, but I’ve found that they are happy to let you have who you want cut your hair.

Natural Solutions for Dirt

Reach for these gentle products the next time messes happen.

For Stains: Use baking soda Sprinkle it on the stain until completely covered; spray with water. When baking soda is absorbed, wipe clean with a cloth.

For Mold, bacteria, and grease: Use vinegar.  Fill a spray bottle with distilled white vinegar. Saturate the affected area and then simply let the vinegar evaporate.

For Soot, wax, and oil: Use washing soda (sodium carbonate) on stone or glass. A cousin to baking soda, it can be found in the detergent aisle. Make a thick paste with 1 4 cup of soda and water. Cover stain and let it set for an hour; scrub.

Hope you are well girlie!

Have a great week everyone – Lora.

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 1, Issue 4 – Original issue date: July 6, 2008

From Karen:

Since last week was so much fun sharing my cost saving lows, I would like to share another.  Well, every time Jeff goes to another hotel for band (sure, for band….), he knows how much I like to take the shampoos, soaps, coffee tables, from the room.  He always brings back the toiletries for me and I use them when we run out of shampoo, and whatnot.  I use the soaps for the sinks as hand soaps.  

Karen’s review of her newest trial of Lora’s soaps:

Right now I am using your oatmeal/lavender soap that you gave me last year.  I notice my skin does not feel dried out after I shower, which is awesome.  However, it is harder to lather than the other soaps and I feel like I smell like oatmeal afterwards.  On another positive note, no fleas on this person!  My favorite of your products thus far have been the chap sticks and the soaps.  I forget, which other products do you make?  Have you ever thought about making a website for that and marketing it?

From Lora:

I love the idea of taking things from the hotel room … well, things that are meant to be taken away… did that ice bucket ever make its return after being a vase for the bridesmaids flowers from Sonya’s wedding?!?!?  Ooops!

We have had some cute experiences over the years packing small toiletries for camping.  Funny how when you show up at the shower house with 2 males and one female that you notice that the one bathroom bag isn’t going to work out very well if we all wanted to shower at the same time.  So using the small hotel sized (free!) soaps and shampoos are perfect for this occasion – everyone is sent into the shower house with their collection of bottles (which can be refilled and reused if brought home in one piece!).

Speaking of soaps, I am glad to hear that you like the oatmeal one.  I like that bar, as well, and I don’t mind smelling like oatmeal and vanilla.  I smell like cookies!  J  The lathering problem (lack of) is due to the over-addition of shea and cocoa butters – I am still working on that “just right mix”… the butters help your skin from drying out, but too much of the good stuff doesn’t allow the soap to lather…. no more mixing soaps and beers together on those evenings, I am afraid!  I just made a new chap stick – added shea butter with tangerine oil to the old mix.  I will have to send some out and get feed back. 

Have a great day – and keep squeaky clean!

Love, Lora.

Here’s a great tip from our “sister” Britt who forwarded this along…

I can’t wait to try this in the summer!

Mosquito Spray…Worth a try

I was at a deck party awhile back, and the bugs were having a ball biting everyone. A man at the party sprayed the lawn and deck floor with Listerine, and the little demons disappeared. The next year I filled a 4-ounce spray bottle and used it around my seat whenever I saw mosquitoes. And voila! That worked as well. It worked at a picnic where we sprayed the area around the food table, the children’s swing area, and the standing water nearby. During the summer, I don’t leave home without it…..Pass it on.”

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 1, Issue 5 – Original issue date: July 13, 2008

From Karen:

Well, I took your advice and got my hair cut at Great Clips for $15. This is better than $30 at JCPenney.

On my newest adventure to cut costs, as gas is now at $4.50 a gallon, I just let my fabric softener run out last week. I realized it was useless having my clothes smell as awesome as can be just to making them stinky again. I mean, our mother never used them and now that it’s out of my life, I realized that some people never use this, so it’s pretty easy to give up. Total savings: $5.

I suppose now you will have the environmental part attached to this, as to tell me how I am saving the environment by not using fabric softener, no?

From Lora:

So, how was your $15.00 hair cut?!  With my long hair, a stylist would have to work really hard at messing mine up!

Funny that you would mention fabric softener as a budget reducer! I did the very same thing this past spring – it was during March – getting ready for my solo performance with the University Wind Ensemble and starting the grueling (but always fun and eventful) final week of Schmeckfest rehearsals while maintaining the rest of the 12 hour days took its toll on many things including household supplies.

I also ran out of liquid fabric softener during this time, and decided that it probably wasn’t really “necessary”.  As you pointed out – Mom didn’t use it, and after reading about fabric softeners and the amount of chemicals and synthetic dyes and terrible things that they do to our water supplies and such, I decided I wasn’t going to run out and get another bottle, I just would stop using it and “see what happens”. You know what – I do not miss it!! I tried tossing out the dryer sheet – which I missed, so I started looking for better alternatives. Right now I am using the Arm and Hammer box with lavender essential oils ($2.99 for 100 at Target). Mom uses dryer sheets more than once – she says that you can get more than one use out of them – and she is right! Then when they are done, I have been known to wander the dusty areas of the house and wipe up stuff with them before allowing them to find their final resting place. I guess a couple dryer loads and a run as a dust mop is not a bad life for a dryer sheet. With the Lavender Oil in them, I have been placing sheets in the camping gear in hopes of freshening and repelling, as I think it was you, Karen that told me that lavender repels fleas and other bugs (including spiders!).

So, what is a good use for liquid fabric softer…? I love the convenience of that spray “wrinkle releaser” but I think it is a bit pricey. So, if you take the small wrinkle releaser bottle and fill it with water and about half a cap full of liquid fabric softener (I have only ever tried this with the Method brand of fabric softener) you have your own wrinkle releaser that does not leave spots. Just shake and spray each time to help those silly wrinkles find their way out. Sure beats the $5.99 (or more) splurge at the store!

Have a great wrinkle free day!!!

Love, Lora.

Editors Note (2/25/11):  I would like to report that I am still liquid fabric softener free and STILL do not miss it!  I am still using the fabric sheets, but mainly for the static control.  I have also learned that one can rip those sheets in half for smaller loads, and I continue to reuse my dryer sheets for a couple of rounds, and then find spots to dust with the used dryer sheet.  Still works like a charm!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 1, Issue 6 – Original issue date: July 20, 2008

From Karen:

I got my AAA annual membership notice that my dues are due. I figured that this is a good time to see what my actual Progressive Roadside Assistance meant. I came to find out that this is already included in what I pay for Progressive, which includes getting my keys locked in my car, towing, and everything under the sun that means you are stranded by car. Super, I thought, as I will not renew my AAA membership. Total savings per year: $55.

 I then told Progressive I recently went to a rental car place and told them I declined the full-coverage as my Progressive covered my rental car and they intimidated me with how their full-coverage will cover more than my Progressive and blah, blah, blah and I still declined. They also told me that if I get hail on my car that they will keep me there until the car is done with work and then told me the forecast was for hail, but they wouldn’t keep me there if I had the full coverage!~Progressive said that they will cover rental cars just as it were my own. By the way, it did not hail.

From Lora:

Yeah for NO HAIL when you have a rental car!

It is so important for people to understand their insurance policies and be able to get their full value from them! And shame on the rental industry for using such scare tactics! We have experienced those types of situations before and you have to stay firm and stand your ground – otherwise you will be taken for more than just a ride in the rental car!

Here is my tip for the week  – this comes from a daily tip newsletter that I get and I thought it would pertain nicely to our thriftiness! The newsletter is from – and although their comments are hysterical and advice is eco-sound, they are not always flying on the thrifty side of life.

So, thanks to Idealbite for this tip:

Been thinking long and hard about new ways to scrimp and save?

It just takes a little concentration. Concentrated formulas (of laundry detergent, window cleaner, juice) not only save you cash, but also mean less packaging and energy use – so you can turn your focus to finally solving that Rubik’s cube that’s been haunting you since the ’80s.

The Benefits
* A cash-saving formula. A regular, 50-ounce bottle of Tide costs about $6 at Walgreen’s. But for just $3 more, you can get the 2X concentrated bottle and wash twice as many loads – effectively saving you three bucks.
* Thoughtful packaging. If the entire “consumer liquids” market changed from unconcentrated to double-concentrated formulas, annually it’d keep 141.1 million pounds of plastic out of production. Plus, smaller bottles mean more room under your sink.
* Seriously considering the fuel crisis. Since bigger bottles and more liquid take more energy to transport, if we changed over to double-concentrate we’d save 19 million gallons of diesel fuel per year.

Wanna Try?

* Look for 2x concentrated or higher on the label of the products you buy, and follow the directions on the back (sometimes you gotta dilute the stuff with water).

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 1, Issue 7 – Original issue date: July 27, 2008

Here is a compilation of some thrifty ideas and replies that I thought I would send out this week!  Thanks to all of the submissions and the great ideas!

Keeping it thrifty for another week – Lora.

From our “Big Sis” on a reply about laundry from the newsletter #6:

Nice ideas for the used dryer sheets. You don’t need washer fab. softeners.  I have never used a “wrinkle remover spray,” new one on me. However, the classic method is to “steam” them out if really needed — wool, etc. In case of a fashion emergency, and I mean a real emergency, load and plug in the steam iron then hold up to the hanging garment, press the steam button, and “wand” it up and down without touching! The garment (hold just a couple inches away) so the steam envelopes it.  No chemicals needed or desired.

–Big sis. 

This one comes from Texas – Thanks, B!!!

I love your letters – so cool. Being in the Army I hear lots of cool stuff to save $$$.

WD 40 – use to clean off spray paint from your car or bugs from the front of your car without ruining your paint job. It also gets lipstick off clothes, keeps glass doors free of spots, etc.  I have a list of about 50 things it does if you want them….  (thanks, B – send the list if you still have it floating around!)

And this one comes from B’s mommy (and my “other” mom) all the way from Canada:

Over a year ago I got the dryer balls to use in the dryer instead of softener. I can see no difference in my clothes and since we have a septic field, I hate putting junk in the water. I also refuse to use the dryer in the summer months (early spring, late fall) I hang everything out. Of course a nice breeze helps get rid of the wrinkles but with the money I save who cares??

Another thing I do to save money – I do not buy waxed paper. I save the wax paper out of the cereal boxes. I have done that for years and it really works well.  I do so many things to save money that my Mother (who just turned 80 ) calls me an old woman!!

P.S. I get my hair cut once a year whether I need it or not.  I cut my bangs and with curly hair no one would know who cut it, so I go short for awhile and then grow it out

Love to all of you     Kathi

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 1, Issue 8 – Original issue date: Aug 3, 2008

 From Karen:

This next session hits all of ours hearts-entertainment.  I think we can all remember when we used to go to our favorite concerts, before tickets became $75.  We all remember going out to eat didn’t mean $50 on the credit card, but a few bucks.  And lastly, a road trip somewhere didn’t mean a $150 motel and hundreds in gas.  When we were kids we all just really wished for $10.  Therefore, I thought I would share a few ways that many people have switched to what “entertainment” really means and I am also interested in hearing ways that other people entertain themselves.

#1) inflate those bike tires and go for a ride

#2) if you live by a river borrow a tube and go tubing.

#3) take your dog on a walk or to the dog park

#4) spending time weeding, mowing, and pruning your yard.  It will thank you.

#5) refurbishing your old furniture and buying new hardware for it.

#6) An old trick mental health crisis workers use.  What did you used to do when you needed something to do?  I used to play saxophone, work out, etc.  A trip down memory lane will reinstall how one should cope. 

#7) fire pits and marshmallows.

#8) tennis

#9) make your grocery shopping trips meaningful and try a new recipe.  Very European.

#10) go to the Saturday market.  Again, very European and interesting to try new fruit or at least cheaper fruit.

Lora adds to the list:

 #1 – go outside to catch fireflies… cost – one reused glass jar… really, when was the last time anyone did this?!?!?  I did it just a couple of weeks ago, and it wasn’t as easy as I remembered it.  In fact, it provided two nights of entertainment and one fire fly.

#2 – window shop – it is fun to go to those fun little stores downtown and see what has come in since the last time you did it (if ever).  And, if possible, make a bike trip out it.  That way you can’t take too much home with you!

#3 – drainage ditch rafting – not as exhilarating as white water rafting, but almost as fun – and no guide required.  We did this a couple of years ago, and the neighbors are still talking about it.  Good way to introduce yourself to the neighborhood, as well!

#4 – have a garden exchange – free plants and diversity from your friends and neighbors!

#5 – my hubby likes to watch golf with his eyes closed.  I hear it is very relaxing, although that always seems to be the time the door bell rings and the phones ring non stop when I try to do it.

#6 – pretend shop with the adds from the newspaper.  J  We have redone the living room dozens of times and have had a new look in the bedroom over and over – and it doesn’t cost a penny!  New washer and dryer – no problem – and no delivery! (I think this is also called day dreaming.)

Any other ideas my fellow thrifty sisters?

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 1, Issue 9

Karen Writes:

Some of those are hilarious!  I like this.  I am going to keep adding to my entertainment list, as I find myself still struggling for entertainment ideas that are inexpensive.

#1) Buy a floatee device from Wal-Mart or use a friend’s and paddle yourself out to the middle of a lake with a beer in the li’l cup holder.

#2) tan in the sun

#3) have a picnic.

#4) Go to Safeway and buy some really cool ingredients for a really cool meal.  Hey, everybody has got to eat-why not make it entertainment?

#5) try to get out of your rut and explore a new website

Lora Writes:

Hmmm, cheap entertainment….

1)      State park sticker?  USE IT!  Take someone out who would enjoy a picnic meal at the park who might not have a sticker (we take out Sean’s Grandpa, and as long as he is cool with trying some “new” dutch oven recipes, all is well!)  (I know, poor Sean’s Grandpa… but so far our cooking has been good!)

2)      How about paddle yourself AND A BUDDY out on floaties or tubes (beverage on hand) and then you can count how many green things you find in your suit afterwards!  (May only work if you live in our area that has really filthy lakes… hence the beverages… a few of those and who cares what is in your suit!)

Actually this was a fun list, so I am going to stop my silly ideas and add some serious ones.  Notice how many times it is suggested that Karen and I might want to try some reading!

Our mom sent some ideas:

Mom says – read a good book or magazine.  I am reading one now called “Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Coleman.   It will enhance the skills you already have and take you to places in your mind you did not know existed.  (This from someone who grew up in North Dakota)

Stay healthy – exercise and prepare for the time when you can be on a road trip.

Proud of all of you – Love mom

Christine Writes:

1.  Go to your local library.  You can get a book just to read, check out a “how to” book to get you going on a project, research a topic that interests you, get some travel books to plan (either for real, or just for pretend) a vacation.  You can even rent movies for free!

2.  Go somewhere busy (the mall, downtown) and people watch.

  1. Write a letter (a real one, not an e-mail) to an old friend just to say your thinking about them.

My Big Sis Writes:

#1. Play physical board (not bored) games.  Real human contact, companionship, no computer chips required. Partner with enjoying simple snacks and drinks like: pop corn, making/baking at the same time, cutting veggies, replenishing iced drinks.  Can be outdoors to get fresh air. Music might be allowed, but no TV.  Best if done quietly (no music) to induce conversation.  Stop the game if a really important topic arises and discuss and enjoy.  Focus, relax.

#2.  Read.  Please!

#3.  Write.  Walk in the woods like Beethoven did with pen and paper.  Sit down and muse, write, have a deep inner life — away from noise.

#4. I keep 3x5s and paper near the TV for when I get snagged by an infomercial.  Instead of actually calling and ordering, I write down the info so I can think about it later, or, comparison shop later, without pressure.  This keeps me from almost never actually spending that money, but I feel like I’m shopping.  The one time I ever followed up years ago turned out to be a great purchase which I still use to this day.

#5. Pray.  No charge, eternal results.

#6.  Yes, I *did* air up those tires on the bike and it has been a joy.

#7.  Exercise — memberships are unnecessary.

#8.  Use the library for visual media – an amazing assortment of DVDs and CDs of all types are free. 

#9.  Community Theatre.  Guarrantied to take up *all* your spare time, free activity (and you usually lose weight).

#10.  Go to social clubs which require no dues, such as local bookclubs, etc., and make friends to do the #1 listed above.

#11.  Clean your nest — no purchase required, no labor costs — the closets, polish, repair, file, etc., — no joke, feels like you have some kind of positive control over something while the external world spins out of control.  And you are perhaps now prepared for good opportunities to come as a result (leaving you once again without time to clean).

#12.  Related to #11.  Detail that car (yourself).  Takes away the desire for a new one, because you already feel like you are driving a new one.  And whenever you can afford gas, makes an extra sweet ride of it. 

#13.  Yes,  read magazine adds and on-line adds *without* buying anything.  Feels like shopping and keeps you current.  You can read at the library or coffee shops, etc., too without buying the magazine.  Only buy magazines when a subscription comes for a special intro price and you need it.  For example, I buy PC Mag. to get current on products and jargon each year I buy a new PC — and I clip any articles which might become good refs for techno/time specific problems years from now — this summer I signed up for 12 months/issues for a total of $4.95 special with new equipment.

#14.  Volunteer to help someone who is also trying to save money and lend moral and spiritual support.

OK, back to the radio show I’m listening to (which I am on).  Oh, yeah, #15, enjoy free, terrestrial acoustic public radio shows.  A solar-powered or crank radio would be best of course.  Be sure you have one, in case (I do)!

–Love, Sis

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 1, Issue 10 – Original issue date: Aug 17, 2008

 Karen Writes:

 Hmm, this is funny how much other people wrote reading.  My work told me if I learned how to read I might run away, so they banned it.

 Well, onto my new topic I add for the week.  Jeff and I went to The Dark Knight about a week ago and we encountered zillions of the one population who can still afford movies and have all the time in the world right now:  teenagers.  I began observing 4 girls sitting in front of me.  I had just paid $10 (I kid you not) for a popcorn and pop when I noticed the 4 of them like clock-work start offering each other different candies they had bought for the show at a gas station, before-hand.  I wondered if everyone else actually stocked up on goods before they went to the movie theatre, or if it was just them.  I also wondered how silly, but smart they were being.  So, my question is:  Does anyone else try to smuggle external candy to the movie theatre or am I the only one who is keeping the movie theatre in business by getting their popcorn and pop?  It smells so good! 

 Lora Writes:

 I have known people to “sneak” in goodies to the movies, although I pretty sure that it is “not right”.  Seriously, there is nothing better than fresh movie theater popcorn!  But after working the concession stand in Marion I know how much of a profit theaters are making off of the popcorn and soda!  When our family of 3 gets sodas (and my hubby and I share one soda) and popcorn it is about $20.  And our theater just cut the free refill on the large bag of popcorn – really – they just made about $18.00 off of us, and they can’t splurge for that extra bag of pop corn!!!!  And I am not even going to “go there” about the profits off the candy sales!

 So I think that sneaking in goodies is not awful, since my family is probably supporting someone’s shift wages when we go.  Movies have gotten to be very expensive and we are selective of when we go.  Although, I have found a trick that has seemed to mortify my usually unembarrassed son – I can’t take the COLD air conditioned theaters and when we went to Indiana Jones, I still had on a sweatshirt and jeans, but I took a blankie with me to the theater.  I was much more comfortable with the blanket, although JJ thought he was just going to die of embarrassment and pleaded with me not to bring it in.  I just have to say that the added layer made it much more comfortable and I am thinking of bringing it everywhere with me during the summer months.

 Thoughts on this, thrifty sisters?


Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 1, Issue 11 – Original issue date: Aug 24, 2008

 Here are responses posted from the question that my sister posed in the #10 newsletter about smuggling in goodies to the movies…

 From Amy –

I absolutely smuggle in extra goodies. We generally buy popcorn at the theater- but pick up candy elsewhere. Sometimes we bring our own drinks too. I figure that the theaters should be grateful that the 6 of us are even attending-instead applying that $80 or so towards gasoline for the week!

 It has to be a movie worthy of the big screen to get us out. Usually we have Friday party nites were we pop our own popcorn (we add m&ms) and rent dvds. Here at Family Video-kids movies are free. Or the library….

I admit tho- even as teenagers Ryan & I snuck in food.  I once smuggled in a gallon of chocolate marshmallow ice cream. Obnoxious I know…..but what can I say? Im a rebel. Ha! More like- a long time chocolate addict on a tight budget….

From Tanya –

My boyfriend and I usually wait until a movie hits the second-run theaters. Cost is $3 or less compared to around $5 or $10. We also rarely get concessions at the theater. A friend of mine and I actually never got concessions except extremely rarely because we would go to lunch first so we were not even tempted for the junk food at theaters. Also, the theaters have water fountains – free water. Second run theaters also usually have much cheaper concession stands compared to first run theaters.

 For anyone in college – there is a website that rents textbooks. Seriously. Price is based on how long you need the book for and if you really like the book, you can purchase it. For me, my school’s bookstore has pretty cheap new books so for me it isn’t cheaper but for some of you it may be a good deal.

From Dany –

I have to say, I’m guilty of taking my own items when I go to the movie theater. Last weekend Elaine and I did a double feature. We went to Mamma Mia and the X-Files. For the first film we actually bought popcorn and soda. After Mamma Mia, we went out to my car and I grabbed a soda I had been drinking earlier. At first I was a little hesitant to take it out of my purse, but I noticed that several other groups of people had done the same. I suppose it is technically wrong, but I did lay down about $25 bucks for the tickets, a soda and popcorn. Mamma Mia was fantastic btw.

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 1, Issue 12 – Original issue date: Aug 31, 2008

Here’s a note from my friend Kim about the theater goodies discussion – very interesting!!!

 From Kim –

BTW…did you know it is actually “legal” to take outside food and drink
into the theatre here?  I asked one day (we were at Century 14) when we were
there and saw someone bringing in a Wal-Mart bag of goodies.  They said it
is permitted, although they would rather you buy their big $$ concessions,
they can’t stop someone from bringing outside items in.  Interesting unpublished tidbit.    We MAYBE go to the theater once a year…too much $$.

 And now on to this week’s sisterly banter – saving electricity….

 Karen writes –

 Well, about a month ago Jeff and I put the computer on a 2-hour it-will-shut-off mode to save electricity.  Yeah, it’s not genius, but just something that we finally got to doing.  I am looking for ways to save electricity this fall.  I learned that you can insulate your water heater, but wondered since mine is already in a warm place on the 1st floor, if it really meant I would save money.  Has anybody ever insulated their water heater?  Some of the things we do is we have switched to energy efficient light bulbs, wait until our dishwasher is packed to do a load, only use warm water on the whites for laundry, try to barbecue at least once a week to save on oven heating, etc. 

 Lora writes –

 Oh, Daddy would be so proud of you!!!!  Remember how he would wander around the house and shut off all of the lights, and then come back to wherever us girls were and report how many lights were left on and whose rooms he didn’t have to turn the lights off in. 

 I am pretty sure that my family just thinks that I am the electricity miser, as I do the same thing, but with computers and actually pulling unused electrical items from the sockets.  Leaving your cell phone charger attached to the wall without it running still pulls electrical energy – crazy, huh?  So, off really isn’t off!  In an small household, the leaked power of plugged in devices is said to equate to leaving one 60-watt bulb on day and night for a year–large homes leak even more. Office power leaks are a bigger drain, because printers running on standby are some of the worst offenders of lost energy.

 Here’s a cute web site that offers ways to save electricity in each part of your home –

 This one has some good charts for you chart readers – scroll down to get to the charts –

 This is very interesting – the chemicals on some dryer sheets actually adhere to the screen of your dryer lint filter, essentially clogging the whole thing – to test it, take out your lint filter, clean off the lint, run water over the top, if water pools up, it is clogged and you will need to clean it with soap and water to get the residue off the trap.

 You can decrease your dryer’s energy usage by up to 30% just by cleaning the lint filter (clogged ducts resulting from lint buildup reduce its efficiency).  Cleaning out your lint filter could save you up to $40 per year in energy costs.  To further boost energy efficiency, you should periodically inspect your dryer vent to make sure it isn’t blocked, since lint can build up there as well.   Want to go a bit greener – and cheaper?  You can reduce the loads of laundry that go into the dryer by taking advantage of cost-free and energy-efficient air to dry some of your clothing. If you don’t have a backyard with a clothesline, you can hang your clothes on the shower rod to dry, or place them on a foldable drying rack or even on your outside patio deck. Start by air-drying only a few bulky items, which might help to reduce the amount of drying time needed for your other clothes.

 Well, I see that I could go on and on about this…

  There are some really easy ways to save money on electricity if we just make some really small choices!!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 1, Issue 1 – Original issue date: Sept. 7, 2008

 From Karen –

Well, for this newsletter I would like to talk about the benefits of Cosco.  Did you know that Cosco and Walmart have the cheapest drugs around?  Sure do.  I was comparing the price of Claritin D, which you can get 40 pills for $17 at Walmart, but 50 pills for $17 at Cosco.  Also, you can get 50 Sudafeds at Cosco for $5, but at Walmart it is 24 pills for $5.  However, the Ibuprofen was the exact same amount.  Now, I don’t have prescriptions that I pick up, but wondering if you have ever switched your pharmacy over to Walmart’s and seen smaller co-pays.  I would be interested in knowing how much one actually saves. 

 From Lora –

 I pick up my prescriptions at HyVee – they have the $4 prescriptions and there is a pretty good co-pay with my other prescription.  I originally started because they had a punch card – buy 10 perscripts and get a $10 card – hey, free groceries are free groceries!  Oh – and you could pick up a card for a free coffee from the deli.  I like the convenience of picking up the prescripts and we always seem to need milk, so going to HyVee is a no-brainer for me.  We are there so much anyways!  Ha

 Here’s a note from Tanya about the Theaters and how she saves on electricity –

 Maybe someone should tell the Brookings Theater that they really cannot prevent people from bringing stuff in…. Actually, any business has the right to refuse business to anyone (except of course federally, state, and local protected reasons such as race…) and may refuse to allow someone in if they bring outside food. I know Century does not do anything because I see lots of people bringing stuff in. However, movie theaters make money not from the movie but from the concessions. Kind of like gas stations do not make profit of the sale of gas (the oil companies do) but from the convenience items. And lets face it, profit is important but what a fine line there is between a decent profit that keeps the business thriving and greed.

 Anyway, here is what I do to conserve electricity. I use so much electricity it isn’t funny but I have known there are others in the apartments who use more than me.

One thing I do to conserve electricity is to have almost everything plugged into power strips. It is much easier to unplug the plug from one power strip then try to unplug all devices not being immediately used. Plus the power strips can protect more expensive items from surges. This is also especially good for vacations: we live only the minimum (fridge, cable box, living room light) plugged in. Although, I should just flip the circuit breakers – much easier than plugging and unplugging things. Also, keep fridge and freezer full and clean the coils (due to dust buildup). This allows the refrigerator to run much more efficiently. If you are freezing leftovers, place in the refrigerator to cool down first which allows them to freeze much better and keeps the freezer from having to work harder to compensate from hot/warm food needing to be cooled. If you don’t have enough food, use bottles of water. This is really good in the freezer should the electricity go out for any reason. The bottles of water will help keep the food cold longer lessening waste from food spoilage. This also works in deep freezers too. My folks kept gallons of water at the bottom to ensure the chest was always full. As you put in more food, just remove the bottles of water. We should all drink more water anyway so it’s a win-win.

 Another electricity saver, especially for those of us who do not have energy efficient heat pump or central air. Nanke and I have a portable air conditioner in our bedroom. We have insultated the tube going to the window to prevent radiant heat from the tube from reheating the air. We only turn it on for a few hours in the evening instead of having it either run all day or times of the day that are normally high usage times such as noon and afternoon. We also turn it off at about 10 or 11 pm, continue to keep the door shut and use a fan to circulate the cool air. It keeps our bedroom around 75 which is cool enough.

 I suspect the best thing is to just turn everything off and go outside or go visit a museum, library, or the mall (I like to people watch).

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 1, Issue 14 – Original issue date: Sept 14, 2008

 From Karen –

 Well, it’s just Jeff and I in the house and we still spend way to much in groceries.  And whenever we walk into Safeway year after year it gets harder to figure out what we want to eat.  It just all looks the same.  I have tried to cook different meals, but I do a terrible job.  So, I thought for this week, if I can’t save money at the grocery store, how can I least make the meals edible?  So I thought we can share some recipes for fast chicas on the go who do not want to slave over a hot stove with 50 ingredients that will just spoil, but still feel like I had a nice meal. 

 Chicken Wraps

wraps, chicken, grated cheese, lettuce, tomatos, croutons, ceasar dressing.  Hmmm yummy! 

 Meatball Sandwiches

hoagie buns, meatballs, sauce.  Hmmm yummy! 

 From Lora –

 Funny that you should mention the wasting of food – I saw this article on a morning news show and was stunned by it.  What they found is absolutely astonishing, and I know that our mom would have a comment about the food that is wasted and the starving kids that it could go to…. seriously – check out the article!  It is appalling!

Here’s a tip to try… it is not a mind blowing idea, by any means, but it sure works.

When planning your grocery list, try planning a meal list for the week, few days, or however long you are shopping for. When you head to the store, you have already made your meal plan, everything is on the list since you already double checked the cupboards and racks to make sure you had all of the ingredients, etc. Once you are at the store, stick to the list. This works even when you are hungry! Just shop for what is on the list.

It saves $$$ because you aren’t guessing at what you might need, it saves from wasted food that spoiled in the fridge because you never prepared it, it saves unnecessary trips to the grocery store (gas costs and wear and tear on the car), and you know what is available for meals when you glance at the “menu” that was posted.

Oh – I love the easy recipe idea – I will keep track of them and make a giant posting or put it together as a book – keep the recipes coming in as you think of them!

 Here’s my recipe from tonight – we didn’t add the chicken though since I am recovering from gum surgery –

 Alfredo Chicken Pasta –

cook chicken, cook pasta, add jar of alfredo sauce, steam veggies (we buy them frozen for this dish) – can be mixed all together, or each item can be dished separately on your plate.

 Stay tuned for next week’s helpful hints from Cyndy!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 1, Issue 15 – Original issue date: Sept 21, 2008

 FYI – still collecting easy recipes – keep sending them in!

 Lora’s tip of the week after her gum surgery….

What step did your dental hygienist forget to mention?

They probably left out the part where you’re supposed to turn off the faucet while you’re brushing.   Turning off your faucet while you brush saves about 2 gallons per brushing – that is at least 4 gallons a day (if I follow brushing directions) and 120 gallons a month.

 Here are some helpful suggestions and solutions that were shared by Cyndy from her “in box” – Thanks Cyndy!  You are awesome!  J

How many of these did YOU know about?

Sealed envelopes – Put in the freezer for a few hours, and then slide a knife under the flap. The envelope can then be resealed.  (hmm…)

Use Empty toilet paper roll to store appliance cords. It keeps them neat and you can write on the roll what appliance it belongs to.

For icy door steps in freezing temperatures: get warm water and put Dawn dish washing liquid in it. Pour it all over the steps. They won’t refreeze. (wish I had known this for the last 40 years!)

To remove old wax from a glass candle holder, put it in the freezer for a few hours. Then take the candle holder out and turn it upside down. The wax will fall out.

Crayon marks on walls?
This worked wonderfully! A damp rag, dipped in baking soda. Comes off with little effort (elbow grease that is!).

Permanent marker on appliances/counter tops (like store receipt BLUE!) rubbing alcohol on paper towel.

Whenever I purchase se a box of S.O.S Pads, I immediately take a pair of scissors and cut each pad into halves. After years of having to throw away rusted and unused and smelly pads, I finally decided that this would be much more economical. Now a box of S.O.S pads last me indefinitely!  In fact, I have noticed that the scissors get ‘sharpened” this way!

Blood stains on clothes? Not to worry! Just pour a little hydrogen peroxide on a cloth and proceed to wipe off every drop of blood. Works every time! (Now, where to put the body?) LOL

Use vertical strokes when washing windows outside and horizontal for inside windows. This way you can tell which side has the streaks. Straight vinegar will get outside windows really clean. Don’t wash windows on a sunny day. They will dry too quickly and will probably streak.

Spray a bit of perfume on the light bulb in any room to create a lovely light scent in each room when the light is turned on.

Place fabric softener sheets in dresser drawers and your clothes will smell freshly washed for weeks to come. You can also do this with towels and linen.

Candles will last a lot longer if placed in the freezer for at least 3 hours prior to burning.

To clean artificial flowers, pour some salt into a paper bag an d add the flowers. Shake vigorously as the salt will absorb all the dust and dirt and leave your artificial flowers looking like new! Works like a charm!

To easily remove burnt on food from your skillet , simply add a drop or two of dish soap and enough water to cover bottom of pan, and bring to a boil on stove top.

Spray your TUPPERWARE with n nonstick cooking spray before pouring in tomato based sauces and there won’t be any stains.

Wrap celery in aluminum foil when putting in the refrigerator and it will keep for weeks.

When boiling corn on the cob, add a pinch of sugar to help bring out the corn’s natural sweetness

Cure for headaches: Take a lime, cut it in half, and rub it on your forehead. The throbbing will go away.  (Otherwise time for the tequila!)

Don’t throw out all that leftover wine: Freeze into ice cubes for future use in casseroles and sauces…….. Left over wine? What’s that? 🙂

To get rid of itch from mosquito bites, try applying soap on the area and you will experience instant relief.

Ants, ants, ants everywhere…
Well, they are said to never cross a chalk line. So, get your chalk out and draw a line on the floor or wherever ants tend to march. See for yourself.

Use air-freshener to clean mirrors.
It does a good job and better still, leaves a lovely smell to the shine.

When you get a splinter, reach for the scotch tape before resorting to tweezers or a needle. Simply put the scotch tape over the splinter, and then pull it off. Scotch tape removes most splinters painlessly and easily.

Now look what you can do with Alka Seltzer……..

Clean a toilet.
Drop in two Alka Seltzer t ablets, wait twenty minutes, brush and flush. The citric acid and effervescent action clean vitreous China .

Clean a vase.
To remove a stain from the bottom of a glass vase or cruet, fill with water and drop in two Alka Seltzer tablets.

Polish jewelry.
Drop two Alka Seltzer tablets into a glass of water and immerse the jewelry for two minutes.

Clean a thermos bottle.
Fill the bottle with water, drop in four Alka Seltzer tablets, and let soak for an hour (or longer, if necessary).

Unclog a drain.
Clear the sink drain by=2 0dropping three Alka Seltzer tablets down the drain followed by a cup of Heinz White Vinegar. Wait a few minutes, and then run the hot water.

To get rid of ant mounds, pour several packs of artificial sweetener with aspartame on mounds and lightly wet with water.

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 1, Issue 16 – Original issue date: Sept 28, 2008

This week’s newsletter is actual emails that have been sent back and forth from one sister to the next – it is about eating leftovers, what to do with leftovers, eating lunches at work that are filling and nutritious, oh!  All this talk of food – I am going to dig for a snack!  Any ideas on easy lunches please send them in!  Also, I am still collecting a compilation of easy recipes!

From Karen –

Well, usually when we’re out of groceries we go to the grocery store and get some more and then just put it on the old credit card, because we don’t have money.  This last month Jeff goes, “Can we wait until Friday when I get paid?”.  This really was the question, as I found myself, and I kid you not, bringing old bread and a can of pork and beans to work!!!  I was also witnessed bringing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Ramen Noodles.  People said to me, “Wow, reminds me of when I was going to college”.  Unfortunately, that was 7 years ago, but here was the cool part.  I realized that 7 years ago this is why I enjoyed grocery shopping so much–the anticipation of waiting is something my generation has lost all sight of.  However, the economy has even made the “me” generation think twice about instant gratification.  Total savings from not going on the credit card: $186.  Yes, that is how much we actually spent at the grocery store.  And by the way, I looked at what the other people were eating and I have tried instant microwaveable meals that cost $5 a pop.  For me, they just seem so processed that I leave still feeling hungry and dissatisfied and out of my $5.  So if you know of any meals that you can take to work that don’t come in a box, let me know too. 

From Lora –

Hey  Karen – Do you guys ever have leftovers? That is what we eat for lunches during the workweek. Even if I am traveling and need to bring my lunch with me, I just grab the container from the fridge, throw it in a cooler lunch bag, and there is lunch. Sean comes home for lunch, so the leftovers are just waiting for him. We used to make a “big” meal so there would be leftovers, but now a days JJ does not seem to let too much food slip by, so there are not as many leftovers as there used to be. That’s were the sandwich world comes into play. PB&J…. yum!

Love, Lora.

From Karen commenting on last week’s newsletter –

I have done more stupid things at work then rub a lime all over my forehead, so we’ll definitely give it a try. I like to also have some peppermint tea. Works like a charm and clears the sinuses too! Thanks for the cleaning tips.

From Lora –

Maybe you could just have a bowl of limes on your desk and you AND your clients could try rubbing limes on yourselves… it could be a cure all for anything… And then you could claim the limes as a work expense… thrifty, or what?

From Karen –

Well, Jeff isn’t really home anymore since marching band started and I am too tired to make anything, so I will make like a cheese sandwich, ramen noodles, soup, etc. But about once a week we actually make a real meal and it’s great!  I love Chinese and I think it’s the best leftover lunch. What’s your favorite leftovers?

From Lora –

Chinese does make good leftovers! I also like pizza and doggie bag items, but that means that one had to have gone out to a restaurant recently to have that.

What else is good – pasta items heat up nicely. So does rice, if you add a tiny bit of water when microwaving – it helps retain the moisture. Leftover steak makes great sandwiches, as does leftover chicken (think chicken patty without the deep fat frying). Also, left over meats can be added to new recipes – salads, soups, etc. So can reheated veggies. Sometimes it is amazing what you can throw into a crockpot that is all leftovers and make a really good soup.

oh – if you ever open a can of broth and don’t’ use it all, put it in a freezer bag or container and freeze the remainder of it – you can make soup later with it.

We are so food conscious – and I HATE to throw things away. I remember being hungry and eating JJ’s left over baby food because that was all I could afford. I always try to be very grateful for what we have because it hasn’t always been this way.


Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 1, Issue 17 – Original issue date: Oct 5, 2008

From Karen –

Jeff and I haven’t bought napkins for 4 years.  We just use paper towels and even then, I try to stay away from a paper towel, when I could just use a rag/wash cloth (cleaning).  We have also never bought Kleenexes.  We just use toilet paper.  Lastly, I’m too cheap to do more than 3-4 loads of laundry a week. I know, we’re only 2 people~!  So, we just use 2 bath towels per week.  I figure if you’re going to come out with your thrifty secrets, people ought to know there is some level of disgust that will always be released=). 

From Lora –

Oh, Karen – you are too funny!  I wouldn’t call you disgusting, I would call your practices smart.

We have paper towels around, and sometimes there is just some things that a paper towel was meant to clean up!!  (take dog puke for instance – that is so much easier to pick that up and toss it out rather than try to clean up the rag after that mess – yuck!)  BUT, I think that I have the guys in the house trained pretty good as to when to use a paper towel and when to grab a rag.  At least our paper towel consumption is WAY down.  That makes me feel good about doing our part in keeping it out of the landfill.

Now napkins on the other hand, I do buy.  Since most of us are out of the house most of the day, it isn’t like we go through them at an alarming rate – and I like the cute holiday designs.  Yes, I do buy the cutesy “expensive ones”, but sometimes you can find the store brand with the holiday designs.  I think of them as part of the holiday decor.  And sometimes that one bag might make it through 2 or even into the 3rd Halloween.  One thing that people could do is move to cloth napkins.  I just read a great way on how to stock up on cloth napkins without spending a fortune – thrift stores.  I have also seen them at dollar stores.  Now, depending on your laundry habits this might not be a big deal.  If you run laundry like we do, then throwing in say 30+ cloth napkins would not make a huge addition to the laundry pile, but our issue is storage.   Since I am not washing clothes every day, I am not sure where we would store that many cloth napkins.  The other thing that I have contemplated was just using cloth napkins once or twice a week.  That would save on some of the napkin waste, anyway.  I imagine that would add up if everyone replaced one meal a week with a reusable napkin.

I buy tissues.  We can hardly keep those in stock here at home – I would hate to see what type of situation we would be in if we relied on TP.  I guess we would be out of that, too.  Would paper towels be out of the question?  What about cloth napkins?!  I think that would be disgusting!

Now reusing bath towels we do, too.  I figure that you were clean when you wiped the water off of your body, how would that make your towel dirty?  We use them for a week, as well.  Sometimes when it is hot and humid, they only make it 3 or 4 days before they have deserved a visit to the laundry room.

Hey thrifty sisters – next week will be a list of things that we can do with old white t-shirts.  Send in your ideas and we’ll make another list.  I am still working on easy recipes.  Keep those coming.  Here’s Karen’s comment on easy meals:

Hi Lora!

Well, I did some of those pre-made chicken patties with a li’l mashed potatoes and gravy last night and that was scrumptious.  Another good idea is having a potato bar.  We like to also slice up potatoes, bake them in the oven with a little olive oil, mustard, and thyme.  I’m also thinking about making stroganoff with the packets of stroganoff, egg noodles, and hamburger.  That’s if I get a little crazy!  I’m always interested in hearing more food ideas.  How do you make homemade pizza?

 Hey Karen – we buy the dough pre-made… in fact last time we did it, John picked up whole grain dough from the bread smith and we froze 2 loaves “for later”.  Anyways, you do the dough, and pizza sauce, and then what ever you want on the pizza – veggies, LOTS OF CHEESE, meats – just layer it up and follow the baking directions on the dough’s. We have made dough from boxes and that is fine, but the pre-made dough from a bread place is awesome. We always bake it in a cake pan, as the pizza gets pretty thick and it reminds me of a lasagna with a crust. JJ has always loved making pizza. We used to make mini pizzas in Marion.


 Editors Note (6/5/11):  Since the publication of this particular Thrifty Sister, I would like to let you know that our household has moved to using almost all cloth napkins.  I took my own advice, and just started with the 8 cloth napkins that I had, we would use them, wash them (during my regular washing days), and then put them back out again until they were gone.  A couple of trips to the thrift stores, and I have several sets of new cloth napkins for use.  I was able to go through the closet space that I wanted to store the napkins in, and had a wonderful excuse to purge!  Now the closet is tidy AND I have room for my cloth napkins.  My son’s friends think it is so cool that we use cloth napkins on a daily basis, mainly since it is so novel to get to use cloth on a daily basis!  ha

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 1, Issue 18 – Original issue date: Oct 12, 2008

 We all have them, but what do we do with them? I am talking about old T-shirts, of

I bet there are a ton of things that one could do with them – let’s see if
we can make a list:

1. They make great rags – I cut mine in about 8 pieces and use them everywhere I

2. Tomato plants hanging a little low? I cut one inch strips from across
the body of the shirt when I need long pieces, and one inch strips from
the arms for smaller pieces and use them to tie up plants. The cotton is nice and soft for the plants and won’t damage them and they tie REALLY well… why buy the green plant ties when you can reuse an old t-shirt?!

3. I have read than you can compost cotton material, but I have been
known to go one-step further. Cotton cloth makes great yard “fabric” – to
use under mulch in place of the black plastic that is used in
landscaping. The cloth lasts longer then old newspapers, and if it is
cotton, it is biodegradable. Use lots of mulch to cover up the fabric so it doesn’t peaking through. Make sure to take out the old buttons or snaps (for those dressy t shirts that us ladies might have), as those won’t go back to mother nature…

 3a – I just read that you can use them to line the bottom of plant pots so the soil doesn’t drip out of the holes on the bottom.

 4.  If you are crafty with fabric, you can completely make it into a new garment.  I have seen t-shirts that have been cut and re-tied (like the fleece blankets).  I recently saw a picture of a t-shirt totebag. They widened the opening around the collar, rolled the sleeves up as handles, and strengthened all the seams. Sew across the bottom, more than once, and you have a fairly easy and sturdy totebag.

5.  If you have children in school, you can quickly sew them to make a snug and stretchy book cover for their textbooks.

 6.  OOOOOHHHHH – this is good…. I just googled this one…. Cut them into squares that will fit around a dry SWIFFER & after using them, wash them & reuse them. It sure beats paying for a box of the paper squares.  I wish I would have thought of that!!!!

 Mollie – now home again in IA, wrote in –

speaking of old white shirts, I used a cut up t-shirt to wash my windows this weekend, which saved me from using a roll of paper towels and they don’t leave any lint.  (Also, from one band director to another, I always told my flute players to take a cut up tshirt to clean out their flutes since they were easy to wind around the cleaning rod and weren’t linty.)  (Good one, Mollie!)

What else can one do with cotton t-shirts?

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 1, Issue 19 – Original issue date: Oct 21, 2008

 Here are some responses about the “what to do with old t-shirts” that we started last week.

 Hi Lora,


 Of course, they have been used for decades in the car as instant bucket seat slip-covers!

 I am fortunate at present to not have ripped upholstery, but they stand in when needed prior to a fix for that; as well as possible to use as quick slip covers when transporting wet and messing things, animals, sweaty athletes (you know who you are), or in Texas – summer coverings against sticking exposed skin (shorts, halter tops, bathing suites) onto hot vinyl or leather seats.  (I have cloth seats – good choice for Texas.)

 I also use an oversized black tee-shirt on the back of my black leather computer chair so my arms and shoulders don’t hit the coldness (when cold) or stick to it when humid – and then I also slipped a pillow under it for lumbar support. 

 When I was a teen-ager, I also sowed up the sleeve to make a “sleeping bag” for my guinea pig. Tee-shirts and sweatshirts are fabulous for pets for many, many uses.

 P.S. Here is one out of history! 

Just so happens that my piece for solo timpani “Camisade” (never finished), comes from the interesting idea that the medieval age Spanish knights/warriors basically put a “tee shirt” over the armor – a slip-on oversized shirt decorated with the heraldry and markings of their respective units, brigades, corps, names, whatever was needed or appropriate, so that they could be distinguished in battle from the enemy.  Sort of like a modern day football jersey which slips over the underlying padding in order to carry the distinct colors and markings of the team onto the field.  The “Camisade” as a term seems (even and also) especially linked to the “nightshirt” cover garb needed during nighttime reconnaissance or battle by such warriors.

 Love- Sis

 This one is from Johnny –

I saw someone making throw pillows out of them, to save the logo on the front that they liked, cut a matching piece from the back, sewed it up, and stuffed with fabric scraps.  Been going to try that one…………but I like the lining the mulch with them idea! 🙂 too bad I tossed out a bag full when I had to find a way to squeeze into James’s house ! 🙂

 And this is what Karen does with them –

I just put them in the bottom of my donation box and hope they don’t deny them at Salvation Army?

 I have taken some of my favorite designs and sewn then to other things.  I just ran across a “scrap” that I had saved from one of my favorite t-shirts from college – it had a Rasta frog playing a hand drum.  I am making a patch out the embroidered frog and drum.

 Now that we have saved so much from reducing and reusing out t-shirts, here is a novel idea on cutting travel expenses:  couch surfing!  Try camping out on a friendly sofa or guest room instead.

Big hotels generate a lot of waste – up to 8 tons per day – just think of all the fire-hose showerheads, partially used shampoos, and copies of USA Today you probably never read.

 You can look into this more through web sites such as:

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 1, Issue 20 – Original issue date: Oct 26, 2008

 Thanks to Amy for this week’s piece of pet-minded advice:

  I confirmed the dangers on snopes – and the cause and effect depicted in the email story below is legitimate.   Only a few sticks of gum containing Xylitol can actually kill (along with terrible things prior to death) a 65 lb dog.

Warning to all dog owners – pass this on to everyone you can. Last Friday evening, I arrived home from work, fed Chloe, our 24 Lb. dachshund, just as I normally do. Ten minutes later, I walked into the den just in time to see her head inside the pocket of Katie’s friend’s purse. She had a guilty look on her face so I looked closer and saw a small package of sugar-free gum. It contained xylitol. I remembered that I had recently read that sugar-free gum could be deadly for dogs so I jumped on line and looked to see if xylitol was the ingredient. I found the first website below and it was the one.

Next, I called our vet. She said to bring her in immediately.

Unfortunately, it was still rush hour and it took me almost 1/2 hour to get there. Meanwhile, since this was her first case, our vet found another website to figure out the treatment. She took Chloe and said they would induce her to vomit, give her a charcoal drink to absorb the toxin (even though they don’t think it works) then they would start an iv with dextrose. The xylitol causes dogs to secrete insulin so their blood sugar drops very quickly.

The second thing that happens is liver failure. If that happens, even with aggressive treatment, it can be difficult to save them. She told us she would call us.

 Almost two hours later, the vet called and said that contents of her stomach contained 2-3 gum wrappers and that her blood sugar had dropped from 90 to 59 in 30 minutes. She wanted us to take Chloe to another hospital that has a critical care unit operating around the clock. We picked her up and took her there. They had us call the ASPCA poison control for a case number and for a donation their doctors would direct Chloe’s doctor on treatment. They would continue the iv, monitor her blood every other hour and then in 2 days test her liver function. She ended up with a central line in her jugular vein since the one in her leg collapsed, just as our regular vet had feared.

Chloe spent almost the entire weekend in the critical care hospital. After her blood sugar was stabilized, she came home yesterday. They ran all the tests again before they released her and so far, no sign of liver damage. Had I not seen her head in the purse, she probably would have died and we wouldn’t even had known why.

Three vets told me this weekend, that they were amazed that I even knew about it since they are first learning about it too. Please tell everyone you know about xylitol and dogs. It may save another life.

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 1, Issue 21 – Original issue date: Nov 2, 2008

 Oh boy – where did this weekend go?  Sorry for the late newsletter… marching band season is winding down, and I should get back on track with the Thrifty Sister.  I found this article and thought it was interesting.  It also returns to the “fun with vinegar” topic that we were sharing earlier in the series.  Enjoy!

By Annie B. Bond, author of Home Enlightenment (Rodale Press, 2005).

Take this simple quiz to dispel any myths you may have about where germs are found in the bathroom. Then follow these easy directions for making your own green bathroom sanitizing kit using ingredients most of us have in our cupboards. With this kit you will effectively clean away the germs where they really are, without contributing to the creation of drug-resistant superbugs that can be caused by the overuse of disinfectants.

The truth is that even if you wanted to, you can not sterilize your bathroom. If you want to reduce the germ population to keep things more sanitary, it helps to know where to put your efforts.

Where are the highest concentration of germs in the bathroom?
–Toilet seat
–Shower stall floor

Answer: The drains.

Where is the least germ-contaminated place in the bathroom?
–Toilet seat
–Shower stall floor

Answer: The toilet seat.

Does soap work to kill germs?

Answer: Yes!
Even the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends using it to kill germs. Make sure you use real soap, not a detergent.

Germ-Killing Kit
“Disinfectants” are registered with the EPA as pesticides and have at least a 99 percent “kill rate.” The green kit, below, only includes one product registered as a disinfectant, and it is 100 percent botanical. The rest of the recommendations are sanitizers from simple, natural ingredients and are not officially recognized disinfectants (I put this one product in for anyone who has a special need and believes they have good reason to use a “hospital grade” disinfectant with a 100 percent kill rate.)

As mentioned above, one good reason to avoid synthetic disinfectants (as opposed to one that is botanical), is that when chemical disinfectants kill off bacteria, a resistant strain grows in its stead that is harder to kill. The overuse of botanicals has not been found to cause the growth of superbugs.

* White household distilled 5 percent vinegar. (I buy a gallon jug of this from my local supermarket, and keep it under the kitchen sink.) Vinegar has an 80 to 99 percent kill rate for viruses and bacteria.

* Liquid soap, such as Dr. Bronner’s. (I buy large bottles of this, too, and prefer to buy the type that includes a pure antibacterial essential oil, such as lavender.)

* Antibacterial essential oils such as tea tree oil, rosemary, thyme, and lavender. (These are also available at the health food store; they are expensive, but a little goes a long way.) To use, add 1 teaspoon of the essential oil to 1 cup of water and in a spray bottle, and spray. Do not rinse when you use this spray. (This smell is quite strong but it will dissipate in a few hours.)

* If you buy a disinfectant for special needs cases, research for one that is a 100 percent botanical, hospital-strength and EPA-registered. Some examples include Benefect.

* A few clean spray bottles.

Toilet Deodorizer
Pour a cup or two of straight vinegar into a spray bottle and spray on the ring; pick up the toilet seat and spray around the top rim of the toilet and the backside of the seat. Do not rinse. (The smell will dissipate in a few hours.)

Alternative: Use the antibacterial essential oil spray mentioned above.

Drain Deodorizer
Pour 2 cups of straight vinegar down the drain a few times a week.

Doorknob Cleaner
Add 2 tablespoons of liquid soap to 1 cup of water. Saturate a cloth and scrub the area. Rinse.

Alternative: Spray with the essential oil spray, above.

General Guidelines if Someone in the House is Sick
Frequent hand washing with soap and water is the most important preventative measure for everyone in the house. You can spray some of the antibacterial spray described under “ingredients” in the air as you would an air freshener, to kill germs, too, which is the protective measure used down the ages.

Caution: If anyone in the house is pregnant or has serious allergies, consult with a doctor before using essential oils.

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 1, Issue 22 – Original issue date: Nov 9, 2008

Here’s one that we can all take to heart… or in this case on our back, on our feet, around our waist, etc.  I am talking about clothes and swapping.  You will be able to find one-of-a-kind pieces and save resources (both monetary and planetary) – an effective way to recycle what you consider “old”.

We all have nice clothes that are just boring us these days. Trade them for some that are new to you. The demand for manmade fibers such as polyester – made from petroleum – has almost doubled over the past 15 years, despite skyrocketing oil costs.  In addition, did you know that Americans throw away more than 68 pounds of clothing per person each year, but – unless you have the worst taste ever – most is totally wearable.

Check out some of these sites to start your own swap – – swap for thousands of women’s pieces online, from Target’s Merona line to Marc Jacobs. and – both are orgs that host live clothing swap parties nationwide (including ones for men).

OR host your own!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 1, Issue 23 – Original issue date: Nov 16, 2008

 Well, I am here to offer some more “eco-sound” and yet thrifty advice… has anyone talked to my sister Karen lately?!?!?  I am missing her input on thrifty advice.  Maybe her husband has returned from marching band and that is why we haven’t heard from her!  😉

Anyway, I thought I would share some neat information on a topic that I hold near and dear to my heart – SHOES!!!!!!

It was time to replace JJ’s “broken in” tennis shoes that he has worn to countless hours of hot and sweaty marching band practices, early morning (and very dewy) rehearsals and on-the-road bus trips.  I am sure that one can only imagine what they look and smell like by this time of year.  As I was headed out to the garbage bin – old shoes in hand (should I have worn a bio hazard glove?!), I was curious if and how these could be recycled.

See how Nike does it:

See how running shoes are making an impact across the world:

Have some shoes that are still good but they aren’t working for you

And this one helps with a recycling shoes and a few other things that might be floating around the home:

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 1, Issue 24 – Original issue date: Dec 14, 2008

Where, oh where have the thrifty sister gone, oh where, oh where can they be….

Well, after some searching, I finally found my sister… but she was busy getting ready to head to LA to support her hubby in an upcoming episode of “the Wheel of Fortune”.  Pretty snazzy, eh?

I, on the other hand, have not been as adventurous, but have had holiday performances coming out of my ears – both my own and student performances, concerts, recitals, etc.

So, sorry for the thrifty delay as of late.  I noticed that even the Thrifty Sister blog/message board has cleaned itself up!  Yikes!  Time to getting’n back to thriftiness!

So, to bring all of the sisters up to speed, I thought I would share some info on a holiday favorite – wine!  I like mine is a holiday coffee mug so I can claim it is a special tea.  Not as classy as a wine glass, but it sure is fun!

Cork forests are endangered, but surprisingly, if we opt for wine with real corks instead of the newer plastic and metal caps, we’ll support these forests’ existence through the magic of supply and demand.  Cork is made from stripping bark off cork oak trees without damaging the trees.  Cork trees can live for well over 100 years and keep regrowing their bark, while new metal and plastic has to be mined and manufactured for those noncork caps.  Also, rare wildlife, such as the Iberian lynx, depend on cork oak forests for their survival.   Besides, corks do just fine plugging wine bottles – they’ve done it for centuries.

So what do you do with the old corks?  Check this site here – Collect old corks and make a new trivet to protect your table tops.

Send in your used wine corks, and it’ll recycle them for you at

Put used corks on top of the soil in your houseplant pots – they’re compostable and work great as mulch.

Check out this site for more ideas… all I have to wonder is WHERE did she ever get all of those corks?!?!?  This site is also a good idea for all of you artsy types out there looking for a new project.

So, with the winter chill biting through the air tonight, I think I am heading out to the garage and finding that last bottle of hidden “thanksgiving” wine I had stashed away – and of course, to only check that it is not frozen!  Silly girls, and you thought I was going to drink it… now where did I leave my tea cup?

Keep it thrifty and happy this holiday season!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 1, Issue 25 – Original issue date: Dec 22, 2008

 Happy Holidays from thrifty sisters to thrifty sisters!!

Here are a few holiday tips that I have been using for years, and they work great…

Having trouble loading all of the gifts into your car to travel over the woods and through the hills of snow to Grandma’s house?  Use your laundry basket.  Great way to tote precious items back and forth – and they keep everything in one place.

Running out of nametags and it is Midnight on Christmas Eve and there are no 24 hour stores in sight?  Not a problem!  I have been re-using old Christmas cards for years!  They look festive and if you are into scrapping or stamping you can add your own special touches… I have some knock out designs this year and with a touch of a sparkly gel pen, they really can look very impressive.

Think about saving bows and ribbon from this year’s gifts and give them new life throughout the new year.  Remember that you can reuse paper if you unwrap things just right.  Paper and tissue paper can also be ironed on a low setting in between towels to get out most of the kinks.  And Gift bags are just begging to be reused!  There are tons of great ideas on wrapping things in re-useable wrapping.  If you are doing a kitchen bundle, for instance, you can wrap your gift in a kitchen towel or a table cloth – talk about reusing!!

And a note to my sisters… I think Mom still has more bags of ribbon to distribute; I doubt it is too late to ask for more from the “stash”!!!!  When you are home this holiday, see if mom can hook you up with a bag or two and help her unload Grandma’s collection.

Hope these ideas help – Merry Christmas to all!!!!!

Keep it thrifty and happy this holiday season!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 1, Issue 26 – Original issue date: Dec 28, 2008

 How did we all do with saving used wrapping paper, ribbon and bows?  Here is an interesting fact that I just read on my Ideal Bite newsletter:  “If every American reused just 2 feet of ribbon, we’d save enough to tie a bow around the Earth – four and a half times.”  Wow – that a lot of ribbon!”

Here are is more from the Ideal Bite newsletter that I wanted to share – I just thought this was a perfect follow up from last week’s tips, and it was fun to get to see everyone’s laundry baskets this weekend!

Personally Speaking
Jenifer learned basic furoshiki – the Japanese art of wrapping without tape – saving her money on the sticky stuff, making the gift wrap easier to reuse, and impressing giftees with her mad folding skills.

Wanna Try?

·                     Save nice wrapping paper and ribbons – you can even iron the creased stuff back to its original flatness.

·                     Cut ripped paper from large-ish presents down to size for wrapping smaller gifts.

·                     If you have quite a few boxes and don’t want to store them, try listing them on Craigslist for someone else to grab (reuse is more efficient than recycling). (Lora’s note – you can also try

·                     Have a bag or box handy during the festivities to collect it all.

·                     Remember: Bags, boxes, and gift wrap are usually recyclable (just check with your curbside provider if you’re unsure), unless they’re laminated, metallic, or have a bunch of tape stuck to them. Ribbon is not.

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 1, Issue 27 – Original issue date: Jan 7, 2009

 So the raging debate makes its way to the Thrifty Sister… bar or liquid soap?  What is your vote?

 Amazing!  I had no idea that there was such a controversy!  I found a cute article that sort of sums up the debates – you can find it at

 (if you are having troubles getting that site to load, try a Google search for “liquid vs bar soap”)

 Here’s the thrifty tip on soaps –

 Liquid Soap is nice to have handy at the sink – both in the bathroom and the kitchen.  Once you finish a store bought container, and it is the refillable type, keep it. I refill those with simple hand soap that you can buy super cheap, in bulk, and then add my own oils.  You can even buy the oils at places like Bath and Body (there is one scent that I love in the Aromatherapy section – vanilla and jasmine – and after playing around, I figured out the right combination – no more paying $12 at a shot for the store bought stuff!)

 Bar soap is also found a plenty round here.  I am still working on the “right” mix of soap vs. shea or cocoa butters and oils.  Some have said that my soaps don’t lather like the store bought stuff, but that is because there is no suddsing agent that has been added to the soap base.  If you are interested in making soaps, there are all sorts of places to buy glycerin melt and pour soap bases – you can look at Michaels or Hobby Lobby (if you are looking for an easy route) or to this web site –

 Happy suddsing – whichever way you prefer!


Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 1, Issue 28 – Original issue date: Jan 17, 2009

From Karen –

Today on thrifty sister I would like to address the nebular land of credit cards.  Remember back in the day when you could secure a credit card with a 7% interest rate?  Long gone are those days.  I decided to go on the search for current credit card rates.  On you can find the best rates around the country from anything from a mortgage to a savings account to a mutual fund..  Here they are for the different types of credit cards:

Balance Transfer Cards


Low Interest Cards


Cash Back Cards



All variable


On my credit card I noticed that the first late payment in 1 year was because I thought that my payment was during the billing cycle and I actually paid before the billing cycle and it didn’t count!  On the second late payment in 1 year I was on vacation and forgot to pay.  It was always in writing if I missed twice, my credit card rate would go up and will go back down if I go another whole year with correct deadline payments.  And it did go up.  It’s now at 22%.  Yikes!  I will probably end up calling my credit card company and talking to them and if they don’t buge, going to another credit card.  Does anybody know of a credit card where you can be late by a few days and not hit the big one? All my bills have grace periods, except for my credit card?  Does anyone else have stories of this and comments?

 From Lora –

Oh, Karen, it is good to have you back!  Credit cards are on the same #$%^ list as insurance companies in my mind.  And the sick thing is that you almost NEED a credit card to secure a motel room, rental cars, plane tickets, etc.

 Thrifty thoughts on this, folks?

 Here are some other Thrifty Sister Shares that I have been meaning to post:

 From Marcia (replying back on the topic of clothes swapping parties) –

 …this reminded me of the piece I saw on TV (believe it was Oprah) the other day where the neighbors/friends had traded furniture so they could have something different and “new” to decorate around. Trouble is…mine is probably too old for anyone to want

 From Mollie –

Here’s a recipe for homemade baby wipes in case any of you sisters have little ones… cheaper than store-bought, and very gentle on the skin

1 roll of paper towels (you’ll want to get the good, thick kind like Bounty)
2 cups water
2 TBSP baby bath soap
1 TBSP baby oil
You’ll also need a container to store these in, I’ve got one of those “click-clack” lid kind

1. Cut the paper towel roll in half. (This is the messiest part.  I use a scerrated knife.) Remove the cardboard tube from the middle.
2. Mix the water, soap, and oil in the container.  Place towels (cut side down) in the water mixture until absorbed.
3. Put lid on container and turn upside down for 10 minutes.
4. Pull wipes from center of roll.

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 1, Issue 29 – Original issue date: Feb 1, 2009

 From Karen –

Merry Thrifty Sister!  Well, I decided that instead of Jeff and I having our separate razors, there really is no purpose for it.  They are $13 for a cartridge of razors and I realized that they are going to rust no matter how slow they go through and therefore, just not really worth it.  When Jeff goes out of town, I will use a disposable razor.

 However, I am the generation of “it’s broken, must buy a new one”.  Therefore, I am wondering if anybody has ideas for how to get 1,000 pills out of your sweater when you wash it.  It was a Ross Dress for Less sweater, and it may not be quality.  However, I am not wanting to replace it.

 Has anybody else had something break down and they wanted to know how to fix it?


 Hi Karen –

And Merry Thrifty Sister to you, too!  My solution for razors is just not to shave as much.  Probably doesn’t work for a lot of you, but I figure that it is an added layer of warmth in the winter, kind of like a blankie for your legs.  And do you know that if you let your leg hair grow, it gets soft!  Yeah, I just hate to shave!

 Ah, pills out of sweaters!  Now, this I CAN help with!  Do you remember that little “pill” shaver machine that mom used to have when we were kids?  It is a small, hand held machine that has a grate/filter (if you will) over the moving shaver head.  You turn it on, and the motor turns the blades then you carefully rub it over your sweater.  The pills are literally shaved off from the sweater, leaving the sweater unharmed (notice the word “careful” – rough does not produce as nice of an effect!)  I buy mine at Target and sometimes Wal-greens.  They are generally found in the laundry isles, like where you might find ironing boards, and such.  They are usually pretty cheap, too.  I almost always have a spare one on hand since I have burned out the motors before, and then you can’t find one to save ANYONE’S sweater!  I have shaved the pills off of a LOT of things with these guys and have saved many sweaters.

 And to continue on with my little life lessons… when leaving for a school concert that you would like to take photos of, it is important that you, the camera, and the camera battery all arrive at the same location.  If you leave your camera battery on the desk after you charged it, but take the camera to the concert, you will not get any photos.

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 1, Issue 30 – Original issue date: Feb 8, 2009

Here are replies and good advice from our readers concerning credit cards and credit debt. (Thrifty sister #28)

The best rule I’ve read regarding credit cards is to never carry a balance.  Or if you do carry a balance, put as much money as you can toward paying it off, because credit card rates are so crazy high.  I also remember reading something that said if you use a credit card to buy something because otherwise you can’t afford it then…(drum roll)…. you can’t afford it.  If you don’t carry a balance then it doesn’t even matter what your interest rate is, because you’ll never pay interest.  (Of course, this is all easier said than done.  But good advice, nonetheless.)


I miss the days when I didn’t have credit card debt. However, I love my debit card and I use it as much as possible instead of a credit card, even when securing a hotel room. As long as they accept visa or mastercard, they should accept your debit cards. Just make sure you have plenty of money in your account to cover any charges.

The downside to my debit card and direct to checking paychecks is that I never seem to have any cash.

I would like to have my credit card debt gone by the time I graduate in a couple of years. However, if things keep breaking on my car or the interest rates continue to climb I don’t know if that is going to happen. Anyone need a personal assistant?


And Johnny mentioned, in regards to the baby wipes recipe:

ah ha!  I needed the wipes recipe! I was using lotion, duh… I’ll try oil next time around.  I use the baby sized washcloths and just toss them in with the cloth diapers when I change her – extends their use now that she’s outgrown them !

This week’s thrifty tib-bit:

Did you know that if you use three paper plates per day in your home, you will easily shell out more than $100 a year (for the sturdier kind)?  And, each year Americans toss out enough paper and plastic cups, forks, and spoons to circle the equator 300 times if you laid them end-to-end. Dishwashing takes less water than producing new disposable plates.

Here’s another tip from Dany on how to save cash on your credit cards and other bills:

I just recently called my credit card company and asked them to reduce my interest rate. And they did! If you haven’t done this in a while, or never in my case (I was always afraid to) give it a try. Oh, if the rep that answers your call says no…ask for their supervisor. I did and explained how over the past year all my payments had been on time. And she lowered it. (Just an FYI it was Citi card.)

Also, I haven’t tried this, but a guy at work was telling me…The introductory rate for his cable/internet expired. You know, they always have those great deals and then jack the price by $100 when they expire. His wife called the company and asked if they had any deals, which they didn’t, then she explained that they could not afford to have Medicom’s services and that she wanted to cancel her cable and only have internet. She also explained to them that she would be looking for another cable company. Mediacom dropped their rate. They got to keep all their premium channels, full-cable, and internet. They now pay the same as what I pay for basic cable and internet.

Lora’s note:

That is interesting, Dany.  I was just reading a Consumer’s Report article that my folks sent me about the upcoming digital conversion (yes, we are still using those bunny ears) and the article stated that you could call your cable companies for cheaper rates.

Thrifty tid-bits –

Try these tips out with your current fridge to use 30% less energy to power it.

  1. A fridge and freezer are more efficient when full (just not so full that cold air can’t circulate). And in a power outage, they’ll hold the temp for twice as long as if they were half full.

2.                  Store your food in glass, which keeps it colder longer .

3.                  A couple times a year, clean off the dust on the coils at the bottom of your fridge (usually hidden behind a removable panel near the fridge’s base), since buildup makes the coils work a lot harder. You’ll use up to 6% less energy. (Just unplug it so you don’t fry yourself.)

4.                  If your fridge is near a sunny window or your oven, move it to a cooler spot.  For every degree above 70 degrees surrounding your fridge, it’ll use 2.5% more energy.

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 1, Issue 32 – Original issue date: Feb 22, 2009

 From Karen:

Hello Thrifty Sister (which should appropriately be renamed Hello my cheap fellow South Dakotan, because I am SOOO cheap compared to everyone else here),

I was looking at this list today for what to write about on thrifty sister:

 It takes 5 minutes to read and has about 168 tips to save money.  Here is one that I didn’t know, but am willing to try:

  Fill up early in the morning when the air is cool, and the gas is dense.. You’ll get more gas and less air.

 I would like to try hang drying my clothes this summer.  Does anybody know how much it would save per dryer load to do this?  The Northwest is tough, because it rains 280 days of the year.  Maybe I should just go with it and dump a little detergent on me before I leave the house to at least get a free wash.

 Hi Karen –

Here’s a site that you can read about drying your clothes, and the amount of energy that your dryer is using (if you are still curious)

 Of course, in your case, living in the North West, you could consider rain washing your clothes, and then drying them in the house!

 And here is a site from Britt about how you can save $$$ on your razor blades –

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 1, Issue 33 – Original issue date: March 8, 2009

Hello Thrifty Sisters!  Sorry for missing last week’s thrifty sister… things are starting to get really crazy around here and I am loosing track of days and clean underwear!  But in the process of loosing our minds, our budding little musician has finished his first run in the pit orchestra at his high school… can you see those eco-buttons just pop right off my blouse?!?!?

This week I decided to revisit a couple of old topics and post some new information.

I know a while ago Karen was talking about her food bill and was trying to find some new recipes to go along with a new grocery bill (By the way, we are still collecting easy recipes!).  This article is a nice reminder on how to buy cheap, local and in season.  In fact, I am going to post some of the article, and you if you are interested, you can read the rest at the following web site –

20 ways to save on groceries

When it comes to the grocery store, the rules are the same as those for the stock market: Do your homework, don’t fall for the hype and buy low.

This is especially pertinent in a year of soaring food prices. Many wonder how to save on groceries without eating less or stripping their shopping carts to the basics.

Here are 20 ways you can rein in your food bill without sacrificing time, your family’s health or your own sanity:

1.      Eat your fruits and vegetables

2.      Give those shelves the once-over

3.      Stick to the edges

4.      Shop early and alone

5.      Set your shopping mood

6.      Operate by the book

7.      If you want to win the savings game, learn the rules

8.      Know when to use a list

9.      Know when not to use a list

10.  Grocery stores are for groceries

11.  Take a rain check

12.  Know the system

13.  Realize that more isn’t always cheaper

14.  Request price matching

15.  Look for double coupons

16.  Weigh before you pay

17.  Beware of “discount store syndrome

18.  Realize that sometimes the best bargain isn’t the lowest price

19.  Check your receipts

20.  Put your savings to work

Now that you have saved a bundle on groceries, how do we keep those groceries and left-overs from going bad and not filling up our landfill?  Disposable storage materials are piling up in landfills faster than you can say “ziplock,” and toxins in plastics are no fiesta either!

One old school option is to re-use mason jars, or even jars that you may have had bought from the grocery store already.  Remember, it is better to reuse before recycling – and ceramic and glass containers don’t warp or stain like plastic. Or you can think about new options like the wrap-n-mat (–Reusable-sandwich-wrap-and-placemat-in-one_p_1523.html?gclid=CPSl4eyNlJkCFRENDQod5X6qZg)

Thrifty tib-bit – Disposable plastic baggies can take 1,000 years to decompose.

If you made it this far before loosing you patience and deleting this email, have a happy week and keep on keepin’ it thrifty!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 1, Issue 34 – Original issue date: March 15, 2009

 Hey Lora could you use any of these for your newsletter?  I have not tried them to see if they work or not but I sure do think they would…       Kathi

(Lora’s note… not responsible for accidents!)

Who Knew?

Eliminate ear mites. All it takes is a few drops of Wesson Corn Oil in your cat’s or dog’s ear… Massage it in and then clean with a cotton ball. Repeat daily for 3 days. The oil soothes the cat’s skin, smothers the mites, and accelerates healing.

Kill fleas instantly… Dawn Dishwashing Liquid does the trick. Add a few drops to your dog’s bath and shampoo the animal thoroughly. Rinse well to avoid skin irritations. Good-bye fleas!

Rainy day cure for dog odor: Next time your dog comes in from the rain, simply wipe down the animal with Bounce or any dryer sheet, instantly making your dog smell springtime fresh.

Did you know that drinking two glasses of Gatorade could relieve headache pain almost immediately-without the unpleasant side effects caused by traditional pain relievers?

Did you know that Colgate Toothpaste makes an excellent salve for burns?

Before you head to the drugstore for a high-priced inhaler filled with mysterious chemicals, try chewing on a couple of curiously strong Altoids peppermints. They will clear up your stuffed nose.

Achy muscles from a bout of the flu? Mix 1-tablespoon horseradish in 1 cup of olive oil. Let the mixture sit for 30 minutes, then apply it as a massage oil for instant relief for aching muscles.

Sore throat? Just mix 1/4 cup of vinegar with 1/4 cup of honey and take 1 tablespoon six times a day. The vinegar kills the bacteria.

Cure urinary tract infections with Alka-Seltzer. Just dissolve two tablets in a glass of water and drink it at the onset of the symptoms. Alka-Seltzer begins eliminating urinary tract infections almost instantly, even though the product was never been advertised for this use.

Honey remedy for skin blemishes…. Cover the blemish with a dab of honey and place a Band-Aid over it. Honey kills the bacteria, keeps the skin sterile, and speeds healing. Works overnight.

Listerine therapy for toenail fungus: Get rid of unsightly toenail fungus by soaking your toes in Listerine Mouthwash. The powerful antiseptic leaves your toenails looking healthy again.

Easy eyeglass protection…. To prevent the screws in eyeglasses from loosening, apply a small drop of Maybeline Crystal Clear Nail Polish to the threads of the screws before tightening them.

Cleaning liquid that doubles as bug killer… If menacing bees, wasps, hornets, or yellow jackets get in your home and you cannot find the insecticide, try a spray of Formula 409. Insects drop to the ground instantly.

Smart splinter remover: Just pour a drop of Elmer’s Glue-All over the splinter, let dry, and peel the dried glue off the skin. The splinter sticks to the dried glue.

Hunt’s Tomato Paste boil cure… Cover the boil with Hunt’s Tomato Paste as a compress. The acids from the tomatoes soothe the pain and bring the boil to a head.

Balm for broken blisters… To disinfect a broken blister, dab on a few drops of Listerine, a powerful antiseptic.

Vinegar to heal bruises…. Soak a cotton ball in white vinegar and apply it to the bruise for 1 hour. The vinegar reduces the blueness and speeds up the healing process.

Quaker Oats for fast pain relief… it’s not for breakfast any more! Mix 2 cups of Quaker Oats and 1 cup of water in a bowl add warm in the microwave for 1 minute, cool slightly, and apply the mixture to your hands for soothing relief from arthritis pain.

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 1, Issue 35 – Original issue date: March 29, 2009

 From Karen –

I finally picked up the lint brush that we were talking about a while ago and it works great!  It seems like cost saving moves are easy to talk about, but it’s being conscious about making changes that can be so difficult.  Ancient Chinese definition for crisis is danger plus OPPORTUNITY.  So, it’s been about 1 year and here are the changes thus opportunities, I can think of that I have made:

going from 2 razors to one for Jeff and me

getting a lint brush instead of putting the clothes in the dryer

not buying fabric softener

going from aol to free gmail

picking up more free hobbies, such as drawing and going to parks

sawing dead tree branches on the side of the road for firewood instead of using electricity

going from 4 haircuts a year to 3 haircuts a year

 What are some changes that others have made?

 From Lora –

Oooooo, Karen – this is a great idea!  And I love the crisis definition… my whole life must be on perpetual crisis mode!

 Let’s see, what kind of changes have I made since we started the thrifty sister…

 Cleaning with all natural items like vinegar and things I find in the kitchen… we have saved a ton of money doing this, and I don’t have those headaches after using most of those chemically laden items.  (duh!)  (Maybe I will have to start the fun with Vinegar tips again!)

 No more liquid fabric softener and I am using half a dryer sheet at a time (Thanks, Christine, for the tip!)  Now a box of 100 sheets is a box of 200!  I would have to say that even Sean would consider that a bargain!

 More free entertainment for our family… sometimes that involves being the entertainment (joining a community band, or expanding my playing circles).  I just joined the SF Muni Band, and I am meeting new people and will probably have a plethora of experiences, all while being paid. Sounds like a recruitment tool for the Army, doesn’t it?!  And of course, the neighborhood is still talking about our excursion down the Foggy Bottom in out little raft.  Again, great way to meet you new neighbors as you float down their back yards in the drainage ditches!

 I don’t feel so guilty dragging in my own snacks or beverages to the movies now.

 Switching from paper to cloth napkins.  Right now it is a very slow process (maybe using cloth once a week or so), but we figure each day that there was no napkin waste is just that much more left out of the landfill.  And with the amounts of laundry I am doing, adding a few cloth napkins to the pile is not going to harm anything.

 Using old t-shirts for more than just rags – they have become indispensable tool in the garden area – when cut into strips they make great plants supports and ties and the cotton eventually biodegrades.

 Thanks Karen – that was a good review!  Now, I have a question for you thrifty sisters… as many of you know, I have this super cute lime green hand bag bag that I like to bring out in the spring, but it is REALLY dirty.  It is leather…. how can I clean it without destroying it, and the inside is way gross too.  Any ideas on how to save my bag?

 These tid-bits are from Johnny – in response to the Thrifty Sister #34 – the issue with all of those tips…

the dawn dish soap I can vouch for 🙂  I didn’t use it to bathe animals but if you leave a disk of it out, just a little in the bottom of a shallow bowl, they all jump in but can’t get back out… works to help clear the room if you run into problems and the washing, cleaning and vacuuming is not getting them all 🙂

 not sure on the vinegar for bruises but my grandmother always told me to put it on my sunburns so I could be “brown like her” 🙂   I just put aloe vera on them instead though 🙂

 don’t forget the baking soda paste for wasp stings….

 and James swears by the rubbing alcohol on a q-tip in the ears for ear infection… the white bottle, not the brown 🙂  and I’ve tried it the last three times and I’m amazed to say it’s worked for me 🙂    burns like the dickens the first time but it lessons dramatically as your ears feel better so it must be killing something in there 🙂

 It is beginning to look like I should wrap up this week’s issue.  Sorry for no TS last week!  Hopefully things get back on track here within the next week.  Keep it Thrifty, sisters!

 – Lora.


Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 1, Issue 36 – Original issue date: April 6, 2009

This was posted on our co-op web site, and it has some staggering numbers!!!  Time to start reconsidering our plastic bag use!  Oh, and Mary – that K&M bag got stuffed in my shoulder bag that one night after rehearsal, and I have reused it, and reused ever since!  (Thought you might like to know that!)

Interested in making your own re-useable bags?  I have not tried this yet, but I am going to!!!  This site has direction for lunch totes, but I think you could go bigger –

From Karen –

I don’t know what ya do with leather, but I take all of the things that need to be hemmed, steam cleaned, etc. once a year to the alterations/steam clean place, and they could let you know how much it costs to get leather cleaned?

From Lora –

I have no idea what leather costs to have it taken care of.  I have never owner a leather coat… nor did I even think about maybe taking in my green bag to a cleaners – do they clean leather?!?!?  As far as dry cleaning, I try to avoid it, but there are some things that just need to be dry-cleaned.  We have some of Sean’s coats on a rotation, and I just acquired two nice wool coats this past year.  I will probably do the same with mine, unless I do something silly that requires immediate attention!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 1, Issue 36 – Original issue date: May 17, 2009

 Hello Thrifty Sisters!  Wow – It has been a LONG time since I have been able to sit down and work on our “weekly” newsletter!  In fact, I believe that it was in April that I send out the last one… For those who have talked with me recently, you know what a zoo life has been over the past month and half (always in a good way), but my studio break officially started after the backyard marimba recital yesterday afternoon!  Thank you to all who came and helped!  It was a smashing success and it sounds like this may turn into an annual event!

 So with that, let the thriftiness begin again!

 This is a note from Karen:

 Although buying in bulk is sure the way to go, for these few items, I realize that sometimes less is more:

1.  Nail Polish Remover.  Although it can be cheaper in bulk, if it is opened, it will evaporate quicker.  I buy little bottles for a cheaper price with more frequent use, I waste less.

2.  Razors.  Once they get wet once, the wear and tear makes this item cheaper right off the parking lot.  I save and share.

3.  Salsa.  If you’re like me, you use salsa once or twice, and then you’ve ran out of chips and tacos to put it on.  I buy little bottles.

4.  Nail Polish.  When is the last time somebody really ran out of their nail polish?  Usually mine just goos up and then it becomes useless. I just get the cheaper, littler bottles.

 Now, for some of my favorite bulk buying items:

1.  Meat.  I like to buy mine in bulk at Cosco.  It seems to last about 3 months before we need to fill up again.

2.  Toilet Paper.  I like to get the 24 double rolls at Cosco.

3.  Dog Treats.  I like to get the big bag at Walmart for $3.50, last 2 months at 2 treats a day per beagle

 And lastly, some items I wish I never would’ve bought:

1.  That blouse that I thought I could wear to work until I realize just how see-through it looks

2.  The brand new sandals that Violet ate

3.  Violet, wait… she was free…

4.  That spice rack that sits there saying, “Why don’t you know how to use me?”.

 Does anybody know what you’re supposed to use Fennel on?  Fennel sounds like something that is grown illegally.

 And from Lora:

 Ha – that is a great list!!!  Let me join in…

 Things I don’t buy in bulk:

  1. Big bag of dog food from Pet Co… We feed Allegro the good food – less fillers in their food means less pick up in the yard!  And we have found with Allegro that he is a much healthier doggie when he is fed good food with no fillers (wow – duh!).

Favorite bulk buying items:

1.  Salsa – actually, I make my own and jar it up for winter use.  I can not have enough salsa around the house – I eat it a LOT!!  And when you make it, you save so much money on your home grown produce (and you know what was dumped on it, or not dumped on it!)

2.  Toilet Paper… yeap, good thing to have on hand at all times!

3.  Hydrogen Peroxide – does anyone know where I can buy this by the gallon?  I have started using it in my laundry to replace bleach (for whites and kitchen towels) and it keeps everything white, and it has not bleached out my kitchen towels and still disinfects.

4.  Vinegar by the gallon – it is time for yard work, and remember that vinegar is a great weed killer and house cleaner!  It completely wipes out thistles and does a good job on dandelions, but remember that it kills everything in it’s path (kind of like Mother Nature’s round up)

Some items I wish I never would’ve bought:

1.  Those super cute dress shoes… I am realizing that these cute shoes are not meant to be worn by someone who drags about 500 pounds of equipment around per week, but rather someone who sits at a desk.  L

2.  That pretty lacey brown dress shirt… just a few days around the drums and it was a goner!

Fennell – hmmm, I don’t’ cook with that.  In fact I grown almost all of my own herbs now!  There are a few that I buy, and I am completely happy buying the organic version of them, since the taste is far superior to some of the other brands.

Ok Sisters, time to “get thrifty” with it again!

 Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 1, Issue 37 – Original issue date: May 24, 2009

 From Johnny:

I’d say watch Rachael ray for the spice rack!   I was intimidated by spices and how to use them too…  well cooking entirely!  then I found 30 min meals accidentally and I’m learning a ton watching it and I’m brave enough now to not only follow her lead but take what she’s shown and venture out to make stuff up as  I go!    She uses fennel a lot… cant think of how off the top of my head right now but check her stuff out for an idea how…  James thought I was crazy when I started watching…  now he and his belly are quiet and happy!  ha ha

  Here are my bulk buys!  🙂

 We use salsa like a condiment here!  Next year we put in the salsa garden… right now, we buy the gallon bottles and always run out….

Meat…  james hunts and our red meat is exclusively deer… otherwise beef would be in bulk and vacuum seal  (any one have a grinder they’d part with?  Ours died)

Toilet paper!  🙂

Spices at sams etc… ones used a lot so they don’t go bad

Chicken on sale… if its boneless I’ll buy and vacuum seal a bunch… lots of stir frys here 🙂

20 lb bag of rice 🙂   over half done with it after a year!   it’s our starch instead of potatoes…

zip loc  bags

Floor cleaners

Laundry soap / dish soap

cat/dog food

Diapers / wipes for daycare… invested in good supply of cloth for home… if money gets to tight…daycare is going to learn how to cloth diaper!  🙂

Charlie’s soap for cloth diapers… uses such a small amount to get the job done!   it’s lasted almost two years now with a large load a week!  May switch to it for all laundry  (guys wont believe one pump does it so watch them or they waste your soap!)

 non bulk….

 spice packets fir the occasional specialty meals …..

fruit veggies….  weather too unstable to guarantee they get eaten up before they spoil…. even with two orange fiends in the house!

Kleenex… after the toddler…. we use tp!  Tired of finding expensive tissues all over the house 🙂

Veggies in cooking… half and half on this…  buy a good pile but not huge amounts… no storage space.. mushrooms, tomatoes etc that get tossed in the pot for color etc 🙂


 The shoes before fist pregnancy….  who knew the feet would go up a size and stay there!?!

Most of my stuff when I had disposable income and no purpose!  lol  the “just because it’s pretty or neat” foo foos 🙂   i’d rather have the money now….

  Questions for the thrifty sisters !   🙂

 I have a ton of beans!  Dry 1lb packs of beans….   NEED recipes!  Something to do with them other than decorate!

  Also, can a person successfully freeze milk and drink it later?  I had some that were expiring and I tossed them in the freezer…. did I waste my time?  Anyone done this?

 From Britt:

Lora I love these letters! With a Mastiff anything is a treat – I will send a homemade treats recipe that dogs or humans can eat –  thanks mom!  Durga drove me nuts for wks with them in the house!  Also, you can find great deals on flowers at your local nursery, check out vista for cheap business cards, signs or anything else you need.  Also, have 8 thousand easy recipes to follow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yeah!!!

 From Karen:

 Hope all goes well today(marimba recital)!  That should be pretty and your yard, I’m sure, looks fabulous!

 It’s going good here.  The weather has been a little bit cooler than it usually is, so it doesn’t seem like the end of the school year.  Jeff is at his last parade competition today and I have a relaxing weekend of cleaning up the tornado in our house from Jeff.

 We are looking at deciding if we should get a car for me from a car lot that got it’s pink slip in Washington, for a measly price of $4000 or something.  Or if we should continue seeing how long my car makes it, but it’s very old and for my job I will need to have a reliable car to travel to the capital about twice a month.  I might just go with the car lot, because it’s just too good of a deal to not pass up.  I guess the dealerships will end up having to auction off those cars if they don’t sell them from the lot, so they are going o be very motivated to sell them (I heard on the news).  They haven’t said yet which dealerships will be going bankrupt yet, but I will be the first person at the lot once I hear about it!  That’s sad, huh?  Well, may be one of my thriftiest sister stories yet.

 Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 1, Issue 38 – Original issue date: May 31, 2009

 Hello Thrifty Sisters! 

Wow – what a week!  First of all, I would like to point out this really neat web site that Sean had heard about on SDPB TV …
You can check out how safe your products are and how they rate on a “green” scale and the overall environmental impact that the company has in production of their product.

 With that in mind, Mom just came back from the Chicago area visiting her friend, and our newest Thrifty Sister, Lani!  I forget which store they had been in, but there is a new line of cosmetics out called “Lush”… Mom brought back a newspaper type flyer on the product, and it is a hoot!  The marketing is fabulous and very fun.  BUT, for touting itself as “homemade” or even “natural” it sure has a lot of no-no’s in the ingredient list!

 That brings me to another point… I think I may have shared this in the past, or at least with a few of you, but I wanted to put together a little list of shopping guides that you can print out, and carry in your purse.  These guides help you remember what is good and not so good in your ingredient lists

 This one is a link to 5 pocket guides…

 This is a great list… the dirty dozen (thanks, Lynn!)

 Of course, it is nearly impossible to avoid ALL of these chem’s, but it can become almost a challenge, even a game… next time you are in the isle of your favorite store, check the ingredients on your shampoo bottle.  If you can’t say most of the ingredients, chances are that it probably isn’t so healthy for you.  Of course, when you are strapped for cash, the easy option is the 99 cent bottle of shampoo (by the way where DID that price for shampoo go… Suave used to be about a dollar when I was in college!), but take a look at what is in there.  You will be amazed!

 That’s all from this Thrifty sister for this week – Lora.

 Ps – have you seen the story of stuff?!  Super cute video with a message!

 From Britt:

 Dog Treats – for both doggies and people!

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup oil

1/2 cup water

3/4 cup oatmeal

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 tsp baking powder

2 cups flour

 Combine all ingredients & mix on low till well mixed. Make into 1 tbls sized balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten with fork to 1/4 inch. Bake at 325 for 12 – 13 minutes or until golden.

 Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 1, Issue 39 – Original issue date: June 7, 2009

 Hello all – with Father’s Day coming up, here are a few really cute ideas for our eco friendly daddies (or dad’s who have tree hugger kids!)…

 How about bottle cap lures?

How about recycled plastic tackle boxes?

Biodegradable fishing line anyone?

 With the warmer weather coming (for us South Dakotans, the calendar says it should be warming up soon – it is JUNE for crying out loud!!!) remember  to use your ceiling fans.  You save up to 40% on A/C in the summer and 10% on heating in the winter by managing air flow with a ceiling fan.  Most ceiling fans use only about as much power as a 100-watt incandescent bulb.  Running your fan counterclockwise in summer directs air downward and creates a breeze; in the winter, running it clockwise will force cold air upward and warm air down to you.

 And of course, with grilling in the air, you can always opt for grass-fed beef, bison, chicken, pork and lamb – they have less total fat, cholesterol, and calories than grain-fed. Grain-fed meat production requires lots of water to produce feed and wash out cow waste at factory farms (with grass-fed, their poop actually fertilizes the pasture).  Most (though not all) grass-fed producers move their herds so that pastures don’t get overgrazed (which leads to less erosion).  Grass-fed animals tend to live more humanely, with access to the outdoors and food they’d naturally eat (rather than heavily processed feed).

 You can find local farms using this web site:

 Lora’s Thrifty tid-bits –

Gardening is a lot of fun, and if done right, can be fairly cheap.  I learned recently that if you buy a plant that has a few pants in the container (like perennials), most of them can be split, and then it is like getting a 2 for one deal!  Knowing your plants also helps in this case.  Yarrow is so hardy you can spilt that sucker all over the place and have a ton of new plants!  Also, this spring I have opted for buying plants (when I can find them) that may have had two colored seeds dropped into the same pot.  Then you really know you are getting two plants that can be split, and you get a variety of color for the same price as one plant.  Happy Days!

 Well, if anyone sees the other half of the Thrifty Sister, say hi to her for me!  I miss her input!!!  And, as always, if anyone has some great ideas, send them my way for sharing!  Happy Thrifting this week!!! – Lora.


Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 6, Issue 11 – October 13, 2013

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 6, Issue 11 – October 13, 2013

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters!  I hope that each of you have had an opportunity to enjoy your past week.  This morning, I woke up to the first frost in my neck of the woods. Although this officially signals the official end of summer to me, this frosty wake up call does offer new opportunities.

With the change of seasons, I always find this to be a perfect opportunity to start thinking about the clutter in my home. Since I will need to start packing away my shorts and tank tops and finding my warmer layers, this offers the perfect chance to check what I did and did not wear this season. Do you remember last year when I touted the hanger trick – hang your hangers backwards in your closet and as the season goes along, only place the hangers of the items that you actually wore the correct way on the hanger rod. At the end of the season, you have a visual of what you did and did not wear. This is a great way to help one sort through their closet!

New season, new space! Maybe with the change of seasons you like to rearrange your home or do deep cleaning.  Both opportunities present great prospect to think about the collections of items in the room that you are working on.  Maybe you can repurpose an item to another room, or have a nifty crafty project for another item.

Don’t forget to donate your items rather than toss them in the trash!  What you may consider to be “out of style” or “old”, may be the best piece of clothing or furniture someone else has ever owned.

While you are busy doing your seasonal decorating or cleaning, consider some of the recyclable options that you may be presented with.  Did you run out of sticky notes for your to-do list?  Consider purchasing recycled paper products to replace that need, or think about using your (what I like to refer to them as) “smarty pants phone” and get an electronic sticky note ap. Out of coffee filters?  Maybe your machine would benefit from reusable filters. We have reusable filters and I just love them!

For more ideas about how to replace paper products in your home with recycled paper options, or more permanent and reusable options, check out this web site:

Speaking of frugality, how many of you look back to your childhood visits with your grandparents and suddenly realize how incredibly green they were?  Seriously – think back to your childhood days with your Grandparents. Our ancestors were pretty “green” and eco friendly, BUT the difference was not that they choose to be fashionable, but rather out of necessity. Back in the days of sodden houses, there was no 24-hour Wal-Mart to ease the needs of the pioneers. Enjoy this blog post, relive some great memories of your grandparents and this week’s Thrifty Challenge is to share with me what small thrifty change you did this week in memory of your grandparents. You might even create a new family tradition!

And of course, with the weather change upon us, who doesn’t like comforting and warming soups… you know – the sort of meal that you can make oodles of and freeze up for later!  Check out Martha’s 60 soup recipes:

As I wrap up today’s edition, I want to leave you with a simple thought. This comes from the following web article:

You find what you seek. Seek intentionally. I know it seems simple but seriously, it matters. If you want a beautiful life, look for beautiful things and wallow in them. If you want love, look for opportunities to be loving (in a healthy way). If you want abundance, surround yourself with things (images, quotes, books, people, etc.) that teach and remind you how to feel abundant. If you talk to yourself all day about how there isn’t enough time, energy, money, help, or whatever else you need, then you will absolutely find proof of that everywhere you are.”

And there you have it, my Thrifty Sisters!  May you have a well organized living space, may you consider your paper usage, enjoy some new soup recipes and consider what you seek.  Many blessings to each of you this week as we strive to live as Green as our Grandparents did.