Monthly Archives: November 2013

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 6, Issue 15 – November 17, 2013

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 6, Issue 15 – November 17, 2013

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters!  I hope that you are each having an amazing and wonderful November!  It certainly feels like a nice mild autumn day here on the Plains, but I am afraid that may be changing to a more “brisk” feeling as the day goes along.

With Thanksgiving quickly arriving at our doorstep, I thought I would share this great idea for your Thanksgiving meal, or other gatherings that you may have coming up. I was just reading this neat article from Earth 911 about farm to table brunch options and it made me think that this would be an excellent way to introduce one’s family to the ease and accessibility to our local farmers, local produce, or local co-ops. To read the full article, visit this web site:

You don’t wish to read the full article?  Let me tantalize your taste buds by picking out my favorite recipes!

Apple Cider Mimosa (the link that this article does not currently take you to their original recipe, but here is a substitute)

Whole-Wheat Pear and Hazelnut Scones

Vegan Pumpkin Pancakes

Are you still looking for the perfect centerpiece idea?  Try out this web site, yet again, from Earth 911:

It looks like this week’s newsletter is all about spending time in the kitchen, but possibly this next article might help you save time in your kitchen!

12 Great Time-Saving Cooking Tips, by Katie Waldeck, November 12, 2012,

“If you’re anything like me, you’re always looking for ways to cut time — but not corners — in the kitchen. Is it possible? It sure is!

1. Plan, plan, plan. Creating a weekly menu is a great way to keep your kitchen time — and your pocketbook — on track. You’ll also reduce the number of trips to the grocery store! You’ll know how long your cooking will take for each meal and plan accordingly. You can also spend some time prepping foods for the week on, say, Sunday night.

2. Ice cube trays are your friends. On that note, pesto, broths and stocks, some soups, pasta sauce, and even citrus juice freeze really well and last for quite a while. You can move the cubes to plastic freezer bags once they’re fully frozen.

3. Know how to use your knives. Does it take you forever to chop up garlic? Does it seem like you spend more time cutting veggies than you do actually cooking? The problem could be that you’re not handling your knives properly, or you’re using the wrong type of knife for the job.

4. Make meals — or parts of meals — that can be prepared in advance. Soups, casseroles, quiches — these are all tasty foods that will taste great a few days later. You can also make sauces, dressings, and other recipe components in advance.

5. Make sure to preheat the oven. Otherwise, sticking food in an oven that hasn’t been fully pre-heated often causes your meal to be unevenly cooked, and increases the time it’s in the oven. Remember to preheat in advance and cut down on cooking time.

6. Prep everything before cooking. Don’t wait until the lasagna’s almost out of the oven to grate the cheese. Chop up all your veggies before you proceed to cooking. It’s amazing how much time you save by not going back and forth between prepping and cooking.

7. Make notes of how long it takes to make things. So many recipes have an estimated prep and cooking time, yet don’t exactly line up with how long it actually takes. Time yourself and make note of it on your favorite recipes.

8. Clean while you’re cooking. My mom’s favorite tips — don’t leave all the clean up for after the meal!

9. Skip the pre-shredded cheese — just do it all in advance! Shredded cheese is pricier than a block. Just buy a block and shred it all yourself after you buy it. You’ll save time and money.

10. Mix dried herbs and spices in advance. Know you love that perfect mix of parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme for your meals? Just whip it up in advance and label it.

11. Keep a garbage can at your prep station. No need to run back forth to the garbage that way.

12. Make your own snacks in advance. Love trail mix, granola or other tasty snacks? Mix them up and portion them out once a week. You’ll save loads of time and always be prepared for your 2PM snack break.”

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, may you entertain the thought of farm to table meals, or at least dishes to share with your loved ones, enjoy the new recipes and some smart reminders of how to use your time in the kitchen wisely! Enjoy your days and cherish your friends and family, but as always, keep on keeping it thrifty!

Vol 5, Original Issue Dates: June 10, 2012 – May 5, 2013

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 5, Issue 1 – June 10, 2012

Dear Thrifty Sisters, thank you so much for all of your support and encouraging words throughout the past 4 years.  We are officially starting the 5th volume of the Thrifty Sister!

Here is a fantastic article that I wanted to share in it’s entirety.

10 Food Swaps to Lower Blood Pressure

By Blythe Copeland –

While blood pressure raises and lowers naturally, sustained elevation — otherwise known as high blood pressure, or hypertension — can damage your heart, kidneys, and even brain.

More than 65 million Americans have the condition — caused by stress, aging, a poor diet, not enough exercise, obesity, smoking, or just plain genetics — and which can be managed in part by cutting back on sodium, according to the American Heart Association.

The recommended daily allowance of sodium is no more than 2,300 mg — about 1 teaspoon of table salt — which adds up fast. These switches — also good for those who want to maintain low blood pressure — can help you cut your salt intake without sacrificing flavor.

1. Say No to Pre-Packaged Frozen Dinners
They’re quick and easy to prepare, but many frozen meals also pack a huge sodium punch — as much as 1,800 mg in one dish, according to — and many of them don’t have enough vegetables to help you meet your daily requirements. For fast meals on busy nights, freeze leftovers or try make-ahead casseroles that go from freezer to oven to table with a minimum of effort to make sure you’re getting the right nutrients.

Worst case: Look for low-sodium, organic frozen meals.

2. Trade Salt for Spices, Vinegar, or Fruit Juice
Start by adding fresh or dried herbs and spices — like rosemary, basil, dill, oregano, hot peppers, thyme — lemon or lime juice, flavored vinegars, and garlic in place of salt in your favorite recipes.

3. Try Oil and Vinegar For Salads
Salads, sandwiches, and stir-frys are often healthier than other dinner options, but you can inadvertently add too much sodium by pouring on ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, and salad dressings. Try simple olive oil and balsamic vinegar on your greens, use fresh tomatoes on your burger, and look for low-sodium versions of other condiments — or just make sure to watch your portions (one tablespoon of regular ketchup has a whopping 160-190 mg of sodium). Some companies do the work for you, though: This spring, according to the Huffington Post, Heinz announced that it tweaked its classic ketchup recipe to cut the sodium by 15 percent in response to new FDA salt limits.

4. Trade Canned Soup, Broth, and Vegetables For Homemade
Canned goods are notoriously high in sodium — one serving can have as much as half your daily allowance — so you might be paying for the convenience. Soups and broths are easy enough to make yourself once you realize that they pretty much require two things — water and time — and you can flavor them with vegetables, herbs, and spices for low-cost meals that feed a crowd. Many companies also offer low-sodium or no-salt-added versions of popular soups, broths, and vegetables (but check the sodium levels on your frozen vegetables, too, especially if they come with seasonings or sauces: sodium often sneaks into those).

Try canning or freezing your own vegetables during the summer to eat all winter.

5. Avoid the Brine
Pickles, olives, sauerkraut, and just about any other vegetables that come in a brine may not feel unhealthy, but those brines were designed to preserve the food — which means there’s plenty of sodium floating around. Limit your indulgence in these foods, and try your hand at canning your own pickles from fresh cucumbers to be sure you know exactly how much salt you’re eating.

6. Cut Down on Cured Meats
Bacon, ham, salami, and other cured meats are another sodium obstacle: According to the NIH DASH eating plan, 3 ounces of lean meat, fish, or poultry contains between 30 and 90 mg of sodium, while the same amount of roasted ham contains 1,020 mg. Eat cured meats sparingly and replace them with fresh chicken, pork, fish, or even no-salt-added canned tuna. Watch out for smoked and processed versions, too — they’ll also increase your sodium levels.

7. Reach for Unsalted Popcorn Over Salty Snacks
It doesn’t take a dietitian to realize that salty snacks are higher in sodium than sweet ones — that’s something your taste buds can probably tell you all by themselves. In a perfect world, you’d replace all those cravings for crackers, chips, and pretzels with fresh fruit slices and carrot sticks — but when you just can’t resist a snack attack, look for healthier versions, like no-salt popcorn, low-sodium crackers, or unsalted chips.

8. Substitute Whole Wheat Flour For White Flour
Choosing whole wheat pasta, rice, bread, cereal, and snacks can help lower blood pressure in several ways: You’ll be skipping a lot of processed and salted foods by default (since many of them are made with white flour), and they can help you lose weight, which lowers your risk of developing many health conditions (including high blood pressure). Make oatmeal, rice, and pasta without adding salt to the cooking water, and you could end up with as little as 5 mg of sodium per serving.

9. Say No to Buttermilk
Buttermilk has more than twice as much sodium as a cup of its less-flavorful cousin, low-fat milk, which means you could be adding a lot more than just taste to those pancakes. Stick with regular milk and natural (not processed) cheese as part of a low-sodium diet, since they also contain blood-pressure-lowering potassium.

10. Stock Up on Dark Chocolate
Okay, here’s one piece of good news: Dark chocolate doesn’t need to go on your list of foods to avoid, since some studies have shown that the flavanols it contains can help lower blood pressure by helping dilate blood vessels. As with any treat, you don’t want to eat too much of it — but in small amounts, it can have health benefits that go beyond a sugar rush.

What an interesting article!  Seriously, this is not bad advice to take.  I also just love the fact that we have hit several of these items over the past 5 years, without even touching on the fact that it would be good for folks who need to watch their hypertension!

I assume that THIS would be a great opportunity to share my experience with making our own chicken stock.  And of course, with grilling season in full swing, this may be very timely! Earlier this past spring, after an evening of Sean making his famous beer can chicken, I was cleaning up and thinking about all of the deliciously flavored chicken and how sad it was that I was not doing something with the carcass. Therefore, I decided to stick it in a glass container, and into the freezer it went and off to the computer I went. What I came back with was the following recipe.  It took me until the next weekend to have the time to start this project, but what I left this experience with was about 7 cups of solid, incredibly yummy chicken stock!

Also, another trick that I read was to make the stock, and after it has cooled to room temp, place it in the fridge – once it has been in the fridge over night, skim the fat off that has gelled up on the top. Once you have removed the fat you can then place your stock in the freezer for later!

How to Make Chicken Stock

Method 1. Leftover Chicken Bones

  • Leftover bones and skin from a cooked or raw chicken carcass
  • Celery
  • Onions
  • Carrot
  • Parsley
  • Salt
  • Pepper

1 Put the leftover bones and skin from a chicken carcass into a large stock pot and cover with cold water. Add veggies like celery, onion, carrots, parsley. Add salt and pepper, about a teaspoon of salt, 1/4 tsp of pepper.

2 Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat to bring the stock to barely a simmer. Simmer uncovered at least 4 hours, occasionally skimming off the foam that comes to the surface.

3 Remove the bones and strain the stock.

4 If making stock for future use in soup you may want to reduce the stock by simmering a few hours longer to make it more concentrated and easier to store.

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, may you experience a healthy week and try making your own stock when you have those left over chicken bones after a tasting grilling experience!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 5, Issue 2 – June 17, 2012

Greetings my fellow Thrifty Sisters!  Happy Father’s Day to all of the Thrifty Daddy’s out there!

In celebration of Father’s Day, here is a beautiful display of stunning National Park photos, and some suggestions of places to go on your next family vacation!

If you are serious about visiting a national park, don’t forget to look up the state or region that you are traveling to by using this handy web site:

In fact, don’t be shy about checking out your state parks, as well!  The South Dakota web site to find parks is here:

Heading to your local city park is not a bad idea either!  Many city parks offer recreational and gathering opportunities, too. The city park is not just for the kiddos, but those who are young at heart! In Sioux Falls there are literally dozens of city parks – find the complete listing at  – you will need to do some clicking, but scroll down to “Department Divisions”, click on the “Parks” link.  Scroll down to the “Division Resources”, click on the link “Public Park” and you will amazed at how many city parks are listed!  While you are clicking around on the Sioux Falls site, feel free to look up all of the great activities that our city hosts!

Here is a great “recipe”, if you will, for your next camping trip.  Britt forwarded this to me last summer, but alas, we were not able to go camping last summer to try this out.  We are hoping to get to take pleasure in camping again this coming summer!!!  (Fingers crossed and we are hopeful!)

Here is the forwarded message from Britt:

Am I the only person who hasn’t heard of “cooler corn”?
As an obsessive food nerd, you’d expect that I would have at least heard of it, but over the weekend I was blindsided by the simple genius of this method for cooking loads of corn on the cob (which is still in season, no matter that summer already seems like a sad memory) perfectly. I was helped to it while visiting my family in Maine. Short story: We like corn on the cob. And with eight adults at the table, that means a couple of dozen ears. We would have used the lobster pot to cook them all, but the lobster pot was busy steaming lobster. (And please don’t spell it “lobstah”. It’s not funny.) Then my sister, a capable Maine cook with years of camping experience says “let’s do cooler corn!” Before I can ask “what the hell is cooler corn?” a Coleman cooler appears from the garage, is wiped clean, then filled with the shucked ears. Next, two kettles-full of boiling water are poured over the corn and the top closed. Then, nothing. When we sat down to dinner 30 minutes later and opened it, the corn was perfectly cooked. My mind was blown. And I’m told that the corn will remain at the perfect level of doneness for a couple of hours. Turns out, Cooler Corn is pretty well known among the outdoorsy set (I found a handful of mentions on various camping websites). But for those of us who avoid tents as much as possible, it’s perfect for large barbecues and way less of mess than grilling. In fact, I may even buy another cooler just so I’m ready for next summer. Now that I’m in the know.

And there you have it, my Thrifty Sisters and Fathers!  Now pack up, head to a park of your choice and bring your cooler and some corn!  Might be a little early for the corn stands, but now you are ready!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 5, Issue 3 – June 24, 2012

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters!  I hope that this edition finds you happy and relaxed after your trip to a park of your choice last week, and the addition of “cooler corn” to your arsenal of camping tricks.

Shortly after I sent out the newsletter last week, I happened to come across the original post of the cooler corn –

Again, huge thanks to Britt for sending this my way!

For those that have always wanted to try their hand at making jelly and jams, or for those of you who are very “wise” at this endeavor, I wanted to share this video – Gosh – It makes it look SO easy!  And who wouldn’t want to have fresh homemade jelly in about a minute and a half!  (This clip is brought to you by our new friends at Food in Jars.)

As always, I enjoy sharing articles of how to reuse things.  Here are some good tips and reminders to reusing newspaper:

“15 Ways to Reuse Newspaper”
Read more:

The U.S. publishes over 24 billion newspapers every year, and that’s not the only place that newsprint turns up. People use it to wrap packaging, to print junk mail fliers, and to create coupons. All told, that is tons and tons of paper waste every single year.

Recycling paper is a great way to put a dent in this waste, but paper recycling is far from an ideal solution. It’s inefficient, and each time you recycle paper, you’re really down cycling it into an inferior product.

We don’t get a paper at our house, but we still end up with our fair share of newsprint somehow. Sometimes, a fragile thrift store or yard sale find comes wrapped in newspaper. Other times, we get junk mail printed on newsprint. No matter how newsprint manages to creep into your life, I’m guessing that you cringe at the thought of wasting it, too.

Rather than toss all of that paper in the recycle bin, you can reuse old newspaper around your home and in the garden!

1. Clean windows or glass. Dip crumpled newspaper into water mixed with a splash of white vinegar, and clean those windows up without any streaks or harmful chemicals!

2. Burn it up. Instead of a starter log in the fireplace or at a bonfire, use tightly rolled pieces of newsprint instead.

3. Make a weed barrier. If you’re building a raised bed, lay out pieces of newspaper before you fill it up with dirt. The paper will help keep weeds from invading.

4. Wrap some gifts. It’s fun to go through your papers to find cute and colorful pages to use as gift wrap. When I was a kid, we loved wrapping presents up in the Sunday funnies.

5. Pack it up. Instead of plastic bubble wrap, wrap valuables in newspaper for shipping, and pad your box with more crumpled paper. You can take it a step further and include some ideas in the package for how your recipient can reuse all of that paper, too!

6. As origami paper. Cut your newspaper into squares and get folding! Newsprint is great at holding folds. Just be gentle, since it’s a bit more prone to tearing than store bought origami paper.

7. In the fridge. Keep the bottom of the veggie drawer from getting nasty by lining it with newspaper. It will absorb liquid and odors.

8. For ripening fruit. If you’ve picked up some under-ripe peaches, avocados, or other fruit, wrap them in newspaper to ripen them more quickly. Paper bags also work for this.

9. Shine on. Give the shine back to your stainless steel sink by gently scrubbing it with wadded up, wet newspaper.

10. Compost it. Newspaper makes great bedding for a worm bin. Tear into strips and let those red wigglers turn it into gardening gold!

11. Papier mache. Get crafty with that old newsprint! You can make all sorts of fun papier mache projects, like a piñata or cool bangle bracelets.

12. Donate them. Your local animal shelter can use newspapers to line their cages. Some even shred them up to use as kitty litter, when the budget is tight. You can also donate them to thrift stores, where they’ll use them to pack up fragile items that sell.

13. Line the puppy crate. Dog owners who are crate training can use old newspapers to line the puppy crate. It makes cleanup much easier when your sweet pup has an accident.

14. Make handmade paper. Grab your blender and turn old newspaper into pretty, recycled paper. Handmade paper is great for making invitations and little cards. You can also mix some seeds into your paper pulp to turn newsprint into recycled seed paper that your recipients can plant!

15. Spin it into yarn. Feeling crafty? If you’ve got a spindle handy, you can whip up recycled newspaper yarn, then knit or crochet your paper into anything you like!

Of course, the best way to reduce the amount of newspaper waste in your life is to avoid picking up a physical newspaper at all. You can read news online or subscribe to a paper on your e-reader instead of buying a paper paper. It’s a little bit harder to stop getting junk mail, but companies like Manilla are working to make that a bit easier.

And with that, my thrifty sisters, may you have a fantastic week reusing newspapers, enjoying life, and taking advantage of the wonderful summer season that lays before us!  Now, log off your email and head to your garden!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 5, Issue 4 – July 1, 2012

Greetings Thrifty Sisters!  Happy July!  With the upcoming Independence Celebration coming up this week, may you and yours have a wonderful and safe 4th of July!

For many of us, the summer temps are climbing and the humidity is rising.  Time for the reminder of how good water can be for the body! This article ( ) has some very good reasons to pick up your water bottle and chug away!  (water, people… water is what I am talking about…)

Johnny just sent this great article about financial tune-ups.  This provides a list of things that should be done yearly at least and lists ideas on how to cut bills to save money.  A very interesting article, and worth the read!

A few of you have written in and asked what has happened to the recipes.  I had no idea that so many were faithfully enjoying the shared recipes! And boy, do I have a good one to share this week!  This one comes from Ardelle, and it is a very lovely salad – perfect for summer eatin’!

Crasin Salad

2 pkg. European salad mix ( you can use any lettuce)

1 cup gorganzola cheese

1/2 cup craisins

1 cup cashews

1 apple, cut -up

1 pear, cut-up

(the apple & pear can be cut up early and sprinkled with lemon juce to prevent browning)


1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup lemon juice

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. finely chopped onions

1 tsp. dijon mustard

2/3 cup olive oil

1 Tbsp. poppy seeds

Last week I posted an article on what to do with old newspapers, and this week I am going to share what one can do with old magazines and catalogs!  There are some pretty nifty crafts that might be fun for the whole family… and may give those kiddos something to do when the temps soar this summer!

“15 Unexpected Uses for Retail Catalogs”, By Philip Schmidt, Hometalk,

Shopping remotely has become a modern-day tale of Pandora’s box. It’s so temptingly convenient, but once you make a purchase you’ve exposed yourself to an irreversible influx of printed catalogs. You call to have your name removed from the mailing list only to discover in the coming weeks that your personal information has been reproduced and broadcast like a spider hatch among the original vendor’s “retail partners,” each of whom now sends you junk mail. In Pandora’s box, when all the evil was out, the only thing left inside was hope. Perhaps your only hope is to do something constructive with all those unwanted glossy catalogs. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Envelopes – The colorful, glossy pages of high-end catalogs make nice custom-size envelopes for cards and personal notes. You can find loads of ideas and patterns online for creating your own pieces.

Puppet show puppets – Cut out people, animals or an entire dollhouse-full of furnishings. Glue the images to cardboard and/or a Popsicle stick to complete the puppets.

Homemade cards – Handmade cards for birthdays and the like are always keepers. But if your drawing skills fall short of your imagination, a cut-and-paste creation does the trick. For best results, stick with kitsch rather than trying to make your card look like Hallmark.

Jewelry – Catalog pages can be cut, rolled up and glued into colorful beads and other decorative pieces for making jewelry. I found an excellent tutorial for a kids’ bracelet on Family Fun Magazine’s Web site.

Decoupage – Glue catalog pictures to a wood panel or other rigid material, using diluted wood glue. Let dry, then coat artwork with Mod Podge or clear polyurethane or lacquer.

Confetti – Shred the pages, then chop the strips into bits with scissors. Very colorful, and the lightweight paper floats nicely.

Dress-up dolls – Make cardboard people sized to fit into a catalog’s flat photos of clothing. Cut out the clothes and dress the dolls.  This is fun for kids, too.

Materialistic wallpaper – Ensconce yourself in retail offerings. Using glue stick, cover the wall with full pages as a wry comment on bourgeois society, or stick up cutouts of individual pictures to create an eye-popping pop art montage.

Decorative pop-up bowl – Artist Patricia Zapata shows you how to make a surprisingly attractive pop-up bowl using only catalog or magazine pages and a hot glue gun on her blog, A Little Hut.

Gift wrap – Since many of us no longer get the funny pages (our favorite free gift wrap), catalog pages fit the bill nicely.

Packing material – Shredded catalogs make great packing material for shipping fragile items.

Christmas tree ornaments – Glue rough-cut pictures to thin cardboard, then trim both cleanly with an X-Acto knife or scissors. Hang ornaments with string or wire ornament hooks. Your tree will look hip with miniature modern furniture, outdoorsy with tiny mountain bikes and tents, or super swank with holiday crystal.

Papier-mache – For a colorful twist on the time-honored technique, substitute strips of catalog pages for the traditional strips of newspaper.

Gift bags – Turn an attractive catalog page into a handsome bag for small gifts. The website has a good tutorial and pattern for making bags.

Kid’s hula skirt and lei – Cut narrow strips into catalog pages to create fringe, leaving a 2-inch-wide band of paper intact at the top. Glue multiple pages together along the bands to create the skirt. For the lei, tightly crumple smallish catalog pages in a variety of appealing colors. Thread the paper into a necklace with a needle and strong thread, just like popcorn on a string. Tie off the ends to complete the lei.

Whew… that’s a lot of things to keep you Sisters busy with this week! Drink your water, good luck on the financial tune up (may you find LOADS of cash as your discover your thrifty ways), enjoy the Craisin Salad and happy magazine and catalog upcycling!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 5, Issue 5 – July 8, 2012

Greetings Thrifty Sisters!  I hope that this newsletter finds you happy and safe after the July 4th holiday!

It is hard to think of the summer as almost half over, but with the celebration of our nation’s independence, it is time to make the most of the summer while starting to think forward to school this fall.  For our family, that means getting our son ready to make that transition from home to being SDSU bound.

One of the projects has been a “deep clean” (purge) of his bed room. It has been a rather painful process for this young man – not because I have told him to “get rid” of everything, but mainly it is just the process of having to clean his room that is the most painful!  We have started in one corner, and have slowly (and I am talking turtle crawl type of slow) made it from the dresser to the desk.  Just that alone has taken all of June!

However, it has given him a great opportunity to open up drawers that have not been opened in a very long time and with some guidance, he has begun to develop his own way of organizing – what to keep and what to either donate or toss. In the process of cleaning through the room, he also has had the option to discover what he will want to take with him to college.

The funniest was this week, while working on the top of his desk, I told him that he was going to need to consolidate this astonishing collection of pens and pencils – I had no idea how many containers of writing instruments that this kid had on his desk and dresser! First it was, “I am taking it all to school with me”, but with some good old-fashioned mom encouragement, he decided that maybe he should really go through this collection and see what is worthy of the fall trip. Finally, after a lot of hemming and hawing, he has narrowed things down to one desk caddy, and when I asked him if he was planning to take the desk caddy to school, he looked a little shocked.  The realization that this had always been in the home and would travel with him may have started to make him realize that he is really going to be “moving out” and that this will be part of his new home.

While getting our son ready to be college bound, he recently made a nice techie purchase for himself.  While at the electronics store, the clerk was very insistent on the extended warranty – I know that these clerks are supposed to be pushy about the extended warranties, but to lie about the fact that the screens on devises are very fragile and “break all the time” seems a little harsh.  Our son did a great job saying no, but it got to the point where I, the mom, had to step in and give the final “Mom No” (complete with Mom Scowl) before the clerk moved on and rang up the bill.

Recently, my hubby shared this article with me about why not to purchase extended warranties – all good info that one should read and consider!

Well, I can see that all I have done is share cleaning strategies for a college bound guy – if anyone else has better methods, please share!  I am afraid that we are not going to complete this task prior to move in without a little thrifty sister help!  And seriously, consider the extended warranties!  Don’t be afraid to tell a clerk no, no matter how insistent, and if needed, bring your mom to offer Mom Scowls!

And with that my Thrifty Sisters, I hear my son waking up and I need to get him to tackle another corner of room!  That will complete the south wall, with all fingers crossed and lots of good karma on my side!

Although, I will leave you with the following homemade recipe (and read the article – this author is a hoot!)

Homemade Maraschino Cherries (adapted from Nick Mautone’s book Raising the Bar)
Makes one quart

* 1/2 cup (125 ml) water
* 1/2 cup (125 ml) black cherry or concord grape juice
* 1/2 cup (4 ounces) natural cane sugar
* Freshly juice (3 tablespoons/1 1/2 ounces/50 ml) of 1 lemon
* 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
* 2 cups (9 1/2 ounces/266 grams) sweet bing cherries, pitted


1. Add the water, cherry or grape juice and sugar to a 2-quart pot. Bring to a boil over high heat and let cook 1 to 2 minutes until the sugar is completely dissolved. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the lemon juice, extract and cherries. Cook 5 minutes to let the cherries absorb the flavors, then remove the pot from the heat.

2. Transfer to a clean sterilized jar and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes for long-term storage, or just put the jar in the fridge if you plan on using them within one month.

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 5, Issue 6 – July 29, 2012

Greetings Thrifty Sisters!  Sorry for the two week break in the newsletters.  I actually had the opportunity to go camping last weekend, and the weekend before I was gung ho on the deck staining.  I am very pleased to report that after two and a half weeks of working on the deck in my “spare” time, it is fully stained, and I have even raised the bar and went with a two tone stain job.  The steps and deck flooring were stained Cape Code Grey and the rest of the deck was stained in Nutmeg.  I am very pleased with my efforts.

For those of you who are curious about the college bound room cleaning project, I don’t feel that we have made as much headway as I have on the deck.  “We” have managed to make a full circle of the room, and cleaned under the dresser and bed (I have never seen so many empty Cheetos bags in all of my life) and now to move on to his bookshelf and closet. Sounds simple, but I am afraid the hardest parts of the room were saved for last. Move in day is Aug 25.  Send happy cleaning thoughts our way, please!

I happened to run across some interesting college facts – did you know that the average student pays about $900 per school year in text books and that in in 4 years of college, students use about six trees’ worth of paper for textbooks. Obviously, opting for the used books keep more trees standing and more cash in the wallet. Did you know that you can rent text books?  How smart would that have been on things like my algebra class (THAT was one book I could not WAIT to sell back!) – there are places like ( and ( Have any of you ever used those web sites? I also understand that Amazon has a line of new and used text books, as well.


Of course, as a music major, I am sure that my son will be spending some of his book shopping at music stores, as well as the campus book store. Although I am sure that his book buying experience will be spendy, it will only be a drop in the bucket as to what his nursing and med bound friends will be spending on their text books.


EXPERIMENT ALERT! Oh boy, watch me get fancy with technology this week… I am going to try attaching recipes through images… (I can just hear the throngs of readers collectively say “ooooo”) …we will see if this will work out!  Sue sent me two great and easy recipes for jam making. I am fascinated with the idea of freezer jams and easy jam recipes, and Sue was able to share these with me earlier this summer. I had all intentions of making these rhubarb jams earlier in the summer, but alas, once again, time has slipped away. Maybe this will be the perfect opportunity to use up some of the frozen rhubarb that I have!  (you know… once we get our little Baby Egan off to school, and I have time on my hands??? Ok, really, you can stop laughing now.)


With there still being a few weeks of summer left prior to school starting, some of you may still be able to sneak away for summer vacations.  Make sure to read the following article about how to prep your home for cash saving ideas before you hit the road –

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, may you have an wonderful week trying out the new jam recipes, getting your homes ready for the start of the school year, and enjoy reading the article about energy saving tips while you are away.  Even if you don’t have a fancy retreat lined up, a sister can dream, right?

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 5, Issue 7 – August 5, 2012

Happy August to the Thrifty Sisters! My, oh, my… where is our summer disappearing to? School is just around the corner, and that means that my little boy will be joining the collegiate ranks THIS month. On the up side of things, I can’t wait for the upcoming 100th Hobo Days!  Alumni Drum Line here I come! That will mean that both my son and I will be marching in the same parade – one of us in the real Pride of the Dakotas and the other in the Old People’s Pride. I am looking forward to a very special moment for our entire family. Can anyone say “band nerds”?!

Last week I wrote about some options of purchasing textbooks and both Tanya and Jerad were able to share some helpful tips.

This one from Jerad: “Many text books may even be found in the Kindle/Nook/Ipad version on Amazon.”

And Tanya wrote in with this: “Don’t forget about Amazon for used books. Some of my textbooks were five bucks. Just make sure to get the right version. The key is to compare prices everywhere you prefer to shop. Sometimes, my school’s bookstore was cheapest, sometimes Amazon was. In my case, renting was not worth the cost… In many cases it really wasn’t that cheap. Just don’t assume that Amazon is always the cheapest place or Chegg or the many other places.”

Thanks, guys!

And if you are curious, the collegiate room cleaning is still at a painful crawl.  We have now completed that ominous bookshelf and will be moving into the closet this week.  Slow and steady wins the race, right?  Slow and steady, with a big stick, may also be effective.

I don’t know if any of you subscribe to the Earth 911 newsletter, but recently they had some very cleaver ideas and crafts with mason jars. If you go to they provide 10 DYI projects.  Some of my favorites are the herb garden, the bathroom organizer, the luminaries, and lamps. Very clever ideas!

If any of you have clever or creative uses for old jars, send them my way!  I save all sorts of jars and use them all the time for things like seed saving, craft supplies, etc, but I am always looking for a new use for an old jar. Also, I see that you can purchase retro jars at some of the “fancy” stores, DON”T DO THIS!  Just head to your local thrift store and pick them up for change.  Or even better, find someone who has a stash of them.  They may be more than happy to let you buy a box just to get the jars out of their home, or even give them to you. And finding lids is easy peasy.  If you live in my neighborhood, I have a collection of lids that have been handed down and I would be more than willing to share a few!

Speaking of news from the Earth 911 newsletter – this is just too cool not to share!  Here is their article about the recycled materials that are showing up in the Olympics this year. “Recycled fabrics get a bad rap. But when companies like Nike put them on athletes competing at the pinnacle of sports, the 2012 Olympics, they deserve another look. Team USA’s uniforms for track & field, for example, are made of 82% recycled polyester fabric and 13 recycled plastic bottles – and are lighter and faster than ever.

If all our sportswear will one day contain recycled elements, will we see a time when we can walk into an athletic gear store and swap some bottles for a credit towards a new pair of shoes? We hope so.” To read more:

For all of you who enjoy the Thrifty Sister recipes, here is a very timely recipe, since zucchini have made their appearance at my home –

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar (or Sucanat)
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Combine in large bowl:
1 cup white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Combine in a separate, small bowl and blend into liquid mixture:
1 cup finely shredded zucchini
12 oz chocolate chips

Stir these into other ingredients, mix well. Drop by spoonful onto greased baking
sheet, and flatten with the back of a spoon. Bake at 350F degrees, 10 to 15 minutes.

Makes 2 dozen cookies.

(this recipe was found at: check out this site, as there is a link to dark chocolate and zucchini cake!)

Wowzers, I have just gone on and on about all sorts of things this week!  Happy zucchini cookie baking and jar recycling this week!  It is an amazingly gorgeous day today, and I can hear my garden calling my name. Enjoy your week, and keep on keeping it thrifty!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 5, Issue 8 – August 11, 2012

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters!  I am very to happy to report that the college-bound room cleaning is a success!  Now time to start packing. Keep sending happy thoughts our way!  I would imagine this should be an easier task, but don’t burst my happy bubble if you think this will not go as smooth as I am hoping.

With all of this talk about getting my son ready for school, I would imagine that it is time for me to help all of you think about getting your children ready to go back to school, no matter what grade they will be attending. I always enjoy seeing the new products that are out for the back to school shoppers.  Some are fantastic ideas that I can’t believe we lived without, and some are well… just plain gimmicks.  We have all bought those items.  Do you have a back to school item that was purchased and you were less than pleased with it’s performance?  If you do, feel free to share your item, and your story!  Maybe we should make a “don’t buy this” list for school items!

Here is an article about the back to school “green” options out there.

Of course, your best options are doing things like buying a reliable backpack that can be used from one school year to the next.  I think in the backpack world, you really do get what you pay for.  Also, purchasing things that are on sale, in bulk is very handy.  One thing to NOT purchase in bulk are ink pens.  They dry out if stored for more than a “few” years. (I would imagine markers are the same!)

Last night I had the opportunity to run into a friend who shared how she enjoyed reading the newsletters and we had a lovely discussion about homemade laundry soaps.  We talked about were to find supplies and which laundry soap we preferred – remarkably, we both make and use the dry laundry soap since the liquid soap just seems like WAY to much effort!  Ha ha. Then I ran across this article, which is worth the read. They compare 3 different types of DYI liquid soaps and make a list of pros and cons for each soap. The 3 soap methods they compared were the melted bar soap, powdered soap with glycerin and vinegar, and diluted castile soap. The recipes are also linked in this article, so for those of you who enjoy making your own cleaning supplies, maybe you can conduct your own experiments!

And for those of you who are still looking for some good zucchini recipes, you may want to try this one.  I have not tried it, but it sure looks good!

Zucchini Shoestrings

1 very large zucchini
1 teaspoon salt
Several sprigs of rosemary
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1. Cut the squash lengthwise into halves, and then cut into 1/4 inch slices, then cut those into 1/8.

2. Sprinkle and toss with salt in a colander and set in the sink to drain for 30 minutes. After draining, squeeze out as much water as you can with your hands.

3. Heat oil in a skillet–you want the oil very hot, but not smoking.

4. Toss zucchini with flour in a bowl, then add it to the oil in batches. Cook for about 5 minutes until zucchini is just golden, then toss in a few leaves of rosemary. Cook for another minute until zucchini is golden.

5. Drain zucchini on paper towel and serve immediately.

The above recipe is found at the following web site.  Feel free to read more about this recipe:

There we have it, my Thrifty Sisters!  May you enjoy finishing your school supply shopping, trying out new dishwashing soap recipes (if you so choose) and enjoy that fresh produce from you gardens and farmers markets!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 5, Issue 9 – August 19, 2012

Greetings Thrifty Sisters! I am sure for many of us, the first day of school has either already started, or is looming very close!  May each of you have a wonderful school year with many blessings for each of your little ones.

Yesterday, while my hubby and I were driving back and forth on a home project, we passed a lady who was outside with some glass bottles (I am assuming recycled wine bottles) and a can of spray paint.  As the afternoon waned on, we continued to pass her and her project.  At one point, I was able to catch her eye, and I gave her the thumbs up and a wave. I told my hubby that it was too bad that crafters did not have a hand signal to express our sincere approval for their crafting and recycling efforts.  We had a good laugh about how crafter’s hand signals would soon be mixed up with gang signals, and therefore probably not a great idea.  Still, it was very heart warming to see someone painting and recycling away. I am sure that this lady was excited about her project, as it was rather fun for us passer-byers to watch her progress, as well.

So, “thumbs up” to all you crafters, recyclers, pintrest-ers and hobbyists. You all warm my heart.

Feeling that crafty urge?  Why not get started on a neat craft right away!  Do you have a pile of sock singles? These two web sites have some fantastic ideas on how to reuse socks.  My all time favorite is the rice sock. Feel free to read on…

Not feeling crafty, but feeling that urge to clean your home today?  Well, the following list is not for the germ-ophobes out there, but it is good to know where the dirty spots in your home are.  An article that I just read lists sponges, vacuums, pillows, doorknobs, TV remotes, and fragrance or perfumes.  This list is from the following web site, and provides some good ideas on how to keep them clean:

Don’t want to be crafty or clean?  Why not cook?  Below is a smart link about how to make vegan friendly breads and this week’s recipe. OH – speaking of cooking… a huge shout out to Cindy for sharing this great video on how to have “silk free” corn on the cob!  This is SO clever!  I can’t wait to try it out!

Vegan Bread recipes:

Raw Corn and Avocado Salad
by Dani Spies –


3 cups of corn, cut off the cob (about 3 cups)
1 red pepper, diced
½ red onion, diced
1 cup of cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 large or two small avocados, cut into bite size pieces
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
The juice of one lime (2 if their not super juicy)
Salt and pepper to taste


Combine everything in a large bowl and mix until everything is well combined.  Adjust your seasonings and enjoy!

There you have it, my Thrifty Sisters!  Some crafting, cooking and cleaning ideas to get you through the next week!  Keep it fun and thrifty! – Lora.

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 5, Issue 10 – August 26, 2012

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters! I am pleased to report that the college bound son has been moved into the dorm and all seems to be well as we close in on his first 24 hours away from home.

One thing that I would like to return to doing is making my own lotions, soaps and lip balms.  This is the first summer in years that I have not had my own homemade lotion, and I can feel a difference in my skin.  Using copious amounts of shea butter sure makes a difference during the summer months! Therefore, in celebration, I am going to share this “new to me” lotion recipe and challenge you to share one homemade beauty item that you have recently started using, or something that is a tried and true friend!

Body Lotion

8 Tbs. Jajoba oil
4 Tbs. Apricot oil
6 Tbs. Shea butter
3 Tbs. Pure vanilla extract

Using a glass container (I used a 4C Pyrex measuring cup with spout – this makes it easy to transfer the lotion to your jar later) combine the shea butter and oils. Heat on low heat, around 170-200 for 5-8 minutes. I used a toaster oven for this and it worked perfectly. Mix oils thoroughly and add your essential oil or vanilla extract for fragarance. Mix. Let cool, pour into jar or bottle. I reused the jajoba oil bottle, though mine was perfectly emptied by the 8 Tbs. I used. I suggest reusing some type of squeeze or pump bottle for this lotion. – After writing this, I went back and tried my fully-cooled lotion, and decided I wanted it just a bit thicker, so I added another 2Tbs. of shea butter. This is like any recipe in that you may tailor it to your personal preferences. Have fun!

Doesn’t that sound like a nice, relaxing thing to work on?  Speaking of stress relieving activities, here is a fantastic article that everyone should take the time to read.  It was originally created for care givers, but really, which one of us aren’t a care giver in one way or another.  I think that these tips are smart, easy and attainable.  If a person could make even one of these changes to their daily life, I think that they would be a much happier individual.  Which life-changing event will you choose to incorporate?–caregiver-stress-instantly-143093.htm?utm_source=Care2&utm_medium=Partner

And of course, with school either in full swing, or just getting underway, what a timely reminder from our friends at my local co-op.  The following lunch packing tips and recipe were shared in their Aug 20th newsletter.

Bring Your Own Lunch

It is a great way to save money and have a nutritious midday meal. Here are some ideas on how:

  • Chop a week’s worth of fruits and vegetables at a time. Hardboil some eggs. Prepare some tuna salad. Bag up small quantities of granola to serve with yogurt.
  • Cook extra pasta, potatoes, other vegetables at dinner with the idea of taking these to work or school. Cold quiche, frittata, rice, pizza?

Remember to include lunch items on your shopping list. Fixing for sandwiches, sides, desserts. Buy some cold co-op soup so you have something ready to go.

Marinated Greek Cucumber Salad –

Serves 6. Prep time 30 minutes.

1 # cucumbers, washed and sliced into thin rounds
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tablespoon fresh dill, minced
4 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 Tablespoons honey
1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

In a small bowl whisk together garlic, dill, lemon juice, honey and olive oil. In a large mixing bowl, gently toss the sliced cucumbers and onion with the dressing. Season with salt and pepper. Marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or more. Sprinkle with feta cheese when ready to serve.

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, may you have a fantastic, stress-reduced, hobby-reinvented, lunch-already-packed-and-planned type of week! Until next time, keep it thrifty and fun!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 5, Issue 11 – September 2, 2012

Greeting Thrifty Sisters and Happy Labor Day Weekend! I hope that you are each enjoying time with family and getting in a few of those last “summer hurrahs”, as September has officially snuck up on us.

I have heard from the other half of the Thrifty Sisters!  Below is the email that I received from Karen this past week:

Hi Lora,
I have had a lot of time to think about thrifty sister and what thrifty things I am doing while being unemployed, and I really can’t think of anything thrifty.  However, I can recall a few unthrifty mistakes I make with every move.  I am reminded of a telephone call I made to get a copy of my trainings from Kitsap Mental Health, and they said for that one piece of paper of trainings it will be $22.  After a $22 check was cut, I decided to make note of a few more of my mistakes when moving.

Always get a copy of your training transcript BEFORE you leave.

Also, if you only get checks online from your workplace, do not throw away all of your passwords.  I had 10 logins/passwords, so I never remembered them.  You may need to see your last check stub for union due purposes for all those itemized deductions come tax time.  And if you are claiming unemployment you need to know how much your gross monthly wages are.

Unemployment you ask?  Look up the law.  In the state of Washington and other states, you can claim unemployment if you move for your spouse who gets a job and you need to quit your job to move with them.  Interesting, eh?  Wish I would’ve known that in 2004…..and 2006……

Lastly, never go with ADT security.  Since Jeff and I are moving, ADT security said that we are locked in the contract and will get an $800 fine for quitting the contract.  This is a lock solid contract with no wiggle room.  So, versus setting up ADT in Great Falls (totally not needed!) and renew the contract, we decided to bit the bullet and eat the fee.

The teacher loan forgiveness programs works for Title 1 schools (poor schools), which Great Falls qualifies.  However, if you teach math, science, or special education, you will get $17,500 forgiven after 5 years.  If you teach anything else, you get $5000 forgiven after 5 years.  Point of the story:  Teach math, science, or special education.

Count your blessings if you were “grand fathered” into the iphone plan.  You get FREE data.  Anybody else who signs up now has to pay $30-$35 a month in their data plan.

Also, no one keeps empty plasma TV boxes,but they are integral during a move.  Just snug it in between your couch cushions, and you save the money at U-hual buying a TV box.  Also, just have couple of motivated high school kids move you out.  They’re motivated and won’t rip you off.

I’m interested in hearing other people’s live-and-learn lessons while they moved, as well!

From Lora to Karen:

Karen – what wise words of wisdom and sage advice! Thanks for sharing! I can’t wait to add this to the Thrifty Sister and see what sort of moving stories and advice we get!

Although, I should point out, that our other sister found a scholarship designed to help pay the tuition for the following career fields.  The current critical need occupations in South Dakota are Teaching K-12 music, special education, and foreign language in a public, private, or parochial school, Teaching high school math or science in a public, private, or parochial school, Working as a Licensed Practical Nurse, Registered Nurse, or in other allied health care fields, working as a Large Animal Veterinarian.

I am rather amazed that with all of the teachers in our lives that no one ever suggested that our son apply for this scholarship.  It must be the best-kept secret out there! Since our son has already graduated, he is not eligible for this scholarship. What a bummer!  Time to keep looking for more scholarships, I guess. BUT, for those who have children that may qualify, here is the web site: Either way, a huge thank you to our sister Sonya for finding this information and following through with the questions to find out if her nephew qualified.

A while ago, I suggested the Earth 911 newsletter.  I have been thoroughly enjoying their news items and there is one particular link that I would like to share – it ties into our weekly recipe.  For the full article (and all 10 snack recipes) please read here:

Last week I sent some great how-to ideas from our local co-op on packing your lunch, and this week, the above link has some great ideas on snacks.  I don’t know about you, but it is a smart idea for me to carry snacks during my teaching day. Who wants a cranky Mrs. E when a smile is only a snack away?

Here are my top three picks that I would like to try:

Easy Salt & Vinegar Roasted Chickpeas


2        cups canned chickpeas*

3        3-4 cups white vinegar

4        1 tsp Coarse sea salt

5        2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

Directions: Line a baking sheet with tin foil or parchment paper. Take chickpeas and vinegar and place in a medium sized pot. Add a dash of sea salt. Bring to a boil and then remove from heat. Let sit in pot for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 425F. Carefully drain chickpeas. Place on lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and sea salt. Massage with fingers until fully coated. Roast for 45 minutes, flipping once half way through. Keep a careful eye on them after 35 minutes of cooking to ensure they don’t burn. The goal here is crispy and golden chickpeas, not black…lol. Enjoy as a high protein snack or as a side to a lunch or dinner.

*Note: I assume you could also use dry chickpeas and cook them in vinegar from scratch. Also note: When I brought the cooked chickpeas to a boil, some of the peas split open and some of the skins came off. Not to worry if this happens-it will turn out regardless!

Homemade Hummus with Fresh Veggies recipe

What you’ll need:

1 can chickpeas, ½ cup liquid set aside
1/4 cup tahini
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Chopped fresh vegetables for dipping, such as carrots, celery, cucumbers and bell peppers
Warm pita bread (optional)

How to make it:

1. Add chickpeas, reserved chickpea liquid, tahini, salt, pepper and garlic to a food processor or blender.

2. Pulse lightly while drizzling in olive oil until smooth, about 2 minutes.

3. From here you can customize your hummus however you like. Try the juice and zest of a lemon for a tangy flavor, opt for roasted red peppers for a spicy zing or try kalamata olives for a classic Greek flair.

4. Serve cold with chopped fresh veggies and pita bread (optional).

“It’s worth noting that if you are out of tahini, peanut butter will work. I always use the peanut butter as I always forget to buy tahini. It doesn’t leave any peanut butter taste to the hummas, just be sure to let those with a peanut allergy know.”  – Kara (added on 9/9/12)

Granola Bars


8 ounces old-fashioned rolled oats, about 2 cups

1 1/2 ounces raw sunflower seeds, about 1/2 cup

3 ounces sliced almonds, about 1 cup

1 1/2 ounces wheat germ, about 1/2 cup

6 ounces honey, about 1/2 cup

1 3/4 ounces dark brown sugar, about 1/4 cup packed

1-ounce unsalted butter, plus extra for pan

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

6 1/2 ounces chopped dried fruit, any combination of apricots, cherries or blueberries


Butter a 9 by 9-inch glass baking dish and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread the oats, sunflower seeds, almonds, and wheat germ onto a half-sheet pan. Place in the oven and toast for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In the meantime, combine the honey, brown sugar, butter, extract and salt in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook until the brown sugar has completely dissolved.

Once the oat mixture is done, remove it from the oven and reduce the heat to 300 degrees F. Immediately add the oat mixture to the liquid mixture, add the dried fruit, and stir to combine. Turn mixture out into the prepared baking dish and press down, evenly distributing the mixture in the dish and place in the oven to bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

And there we have it, my Thrifty Sisters – wise words from the “other half” of the Thrifty Sisters, who has survived yet another move, scholarship info, and snacks!  Can’t wait to hear YOUR moving stories and advice!  Until next week keep your thrifty on!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 5, Issue 12 – September 9, 2012

Greetings Thrifty Sisters! I hope that this week has been an exciting and fun filled week for everyone!

Last week, I posted a hummus recipe, and Kara had some great advice about a substitution for tahini.  “It’s worth noting that if you are out of tahini, peanut butter will work. I always use the peanut butter as I always forget to buy tahini. It doesn’t leave any peanut butter taste to the hummas, just be sure to let those with a peanut allergy know.”  Thanks, Kara, for the great advice!

Canning season is in full swing – well, for those who have things to can.  Since I was INCREDIBLY late in getting my garden in, I have some lovely baby green tomatoes hanging on the vine.  I am just hoping I see some ripe tomatoes before that dreaded first frost. On the upswing to having a late garden, I am going to have some lovely Gladiolas in the month of September. Yes, you read that right.  I planted my bulbs in June – I can already see my Dad shaking his head and I am fully prepared to get the “you should really plant those in May” speech.

Either way, I love this video and there are links to these canning recipes.  It sure makes canning look easy!

This next little gem of advice comes from Britt – this is clever:

“Subject: Wasp Spray

I know some of you own GUNS but this is something to think about…—

If you don’t have a gun, here’s a more humane way to wreck someone’s evil plans for you. Did you know this?  I never really thought of it before. I guess I can get rid of the baseball bat..

Wasp Spray  –  A friend who is a receptionist in a church in a high risk area was concerned about someone coming into the office on Monday to rob them when they were counting the collection. She asked the local police department about using pepper spray and they recommended to her that she get a can of wasp spray instead.

The wasp spray, they told her, can shoot up to twenty feet away and is a lot more accurate, while with the pepper spray, they have to get too close to you and could overpower you. The wasp spray temporarily blinds an attacker until they get to the hospital for an antidote. She keeps a can on her desk in the office and it doesn’t attract attention from people like a can of pepper spray would. She also keeps one nearby at home for home protection. Thought this was interesting and might be of use.

On the heels of a break in and beating that left an elderly woman in Toledo dead, self-defense experts have a tip that could save your life.

Val Glinka teaches self-defense to students at Sylvania Southview High School. For decades, he’s suggested putting a can of wasp and hornet spray near your door or bed.

Glinka says, “This is better than anything I can teach them.”

Glinka considers it inexpensive, easy to find, and more effective than mace or pepper spray. The cans typically shoot 20 to 30 feet; so if someone tries to break into your home, Glinka says “spray the culprit in the eyes”. It’s a tip he’s given to students for decades.

It’s also one he wants everyone to hear. If you’re looking for protection, Glinka says look to the spray. “That’s going to give you a chance to call the police; maybe get out.” Maybe even save a life.

Did you also know that wasp spray will kill a snake? And a mouse! It will! Good to know, huh? It will also kill a wasp!”

For those who are curious, you can check this out at

There you have it, my Thrifty Sisters – a little self-protection advice, and some great canning ideas! May you have a safe week, and hopefully you don’t need that wasp spray for anything other than wasps.  Although, I wonder if there are alternatives to that giant wasp spray can for getting rid of those pesky flying stingers! Enjoy your canning, or at least enjoy growing your little green tomatoes. Until next week, keep on keeping it thrifty!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 5, Issue 13 – September 16, 2012

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters! Even though this coming Saturday is the actual date for the fall equinox, I sure feel like fall has arrived – marching band season is in full swing! Although we sure miss the excitement and friendships of our “old” high school marching band, we are immensely enjoying being Parents of the Pride of the Dakotas.

For those of you who enjoy scrapbooking, and happen to be in the Brookings area, I stumbled upon the cutest scrapbooking store in Brookings, which happens to sell SDSU papers, created by our friends at CleanSlate Design and Print (thanks, Jen and Marcie!). This little gem of a scrapbook store is called “Journals of the Heart”, located on 6th and Main, just north of Wells Fargo. And they have a space for you to come in and do projects…. ah, I can just see where I may end up on some chilly Saturday football afternoon after the half time show while my hubby diligently cheers on the Jacks!

While working on articles and tib-bits to share in today’s newsletter, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that September is National Honey Month. I am including a link for 20 surprising uses for honey.

So, in celebration of Nation Honey Month, (and in case you didn’t take time to clink on the above link), here is Anna Brones’s tip #6:

“Make a salad – One of my favorite and easiest fruit salads uses just a touch of honey to enhance the sugars in the fruit, and it’s a perfect late summer dessert.

1 cantaloupe, chopped, 3 nectarines, chopped. 4 tablespoons chopped basil, 2 tablespoons honey – Mix together and enjoy!”

With the season change, I always feel like this is the perfect time to go through my closet and start purging. Since we will be coming out of the summer and into fall season, this is a perfect time to evaluate what you did and most importantly, DID NOT wear over this past season.  If you did not wear it, don’t keep it.  I don’t care how cute you thought that tank top was in the store, or what a great bargain you thought you got on a cute sun dress.  If you did not wear it this summer, you probably are not going to wear it next summer.

Now, granted, there are always a few items that may stay in your closet – maybe they are super dressy and you did not have the opportunity to wear them this year (again, ask yourself, will you have an opportunity in the future?!?).  One thing that I discovered last winter when I was doing my seasonal purge was that I did not touch my heavy wool sweater, simply because it was not cold enough.  Well, ok, sweater, you win this year. Although, in my defense, it is my go-to sweater when temps reach the sub zero, make-your-nose-hairs-freeze point.

So allow this to be your seasonal challenge – get all of your summer clothes together and make some choices.  Start pulling out your fall clothing items.  Can you pair any of your summer wardrobe items with the fall items?  (ta-dah! New outfits!!!)

Recently, I read on Facebook (sorry, I don’t remember who had this tip) that at the beginning of a season, turn all of your hangers backwards.  What ever is left hanging in your closet, in that same hanger position, is a good reminder of what you did not wear.  (I would then donate it)

Although, for those uber sentimental t-shirts (Dani, this one is for you!), check out this video on how to create your old t-shirts into works of art.  Very clever!

And there you have it, my Thrifty Sisters!  Enjoy your honey this week, and all of it’s wonderfulness. Enjoy your hobbies, or at least day dreaming about them while you are clearing clutter out of your seasonal closets!  Happy Autumn Sisters!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 5, Issue 14 – September 23, 2012

Greetings and Happy Autumn, Thrifty Sisters! I hope that your past week has been an enjoyable one as we say goodbye to summer and hello fall.

In continuing celebration of National Honey Month, let me share this mouthwatering grilling recipe – perfect for those fall BBQ celebrations, and tailgating opportunities! Did you know that September 18 was National Cheeseburger Day?  How exciting – so many things to celebrate in September! Today’s recipe is courtesy of

Blazing Bronco Burgers with Smoking Chipotle Honey Sauce

Makes 4 servings

  • 1 lb. ground beef, ground buffalo can be substituted for beef
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon creole or Cajun seasoning
  • 4 roasted Anaheim chili peppers, fresh or canned
  • 4 slices (1 oz.) Pepper Jack cheese
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • 4 lettuce leaves
  • 4 slices tomato
  • 4 slices red onion

To prepare burgers, divide the meat into 4 equal portions and shape into patties. Combine the salt, pepper and creole or Cajun seasoning, then sprinkle the mixture evenly over the 4 patties. Grill the burgers until nearly cooked to desired level. Top each patty with a chili pepper, followed by a slice of cheese. Cover the grill until cheese melts and burgers are cooked to desired level. Spread the chipotle honey sauce evenly on each of the four buns. Serve patties on buns and garnish with lettuce, tomato and red onion.

Serving Suggestion: Served with Smoking Chipotle Honey Sauce.

Smoking Chipotle Honey Sauce

Makes 4 servings

  • 1 canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, sliced
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 Tablespoon yellow mustard

To prepare sauce, mix all sauce ingredients in bowl and set aside.

Sounds delish, doesn’t it?  Why not fire up the ‘barbie tonight?

And welcome back to the other half of the Thrifty Sister!  My sister, Karen, has apparently been doing her homework!

Hi Lora,
I was looking at the nature of our thrifty sisters letters and although your tone looks like 50 things to do with your pumpkin, mine is more like 50 resources for a convicted felon. However, I think this appeals to a wide-base population. Onto all things thrifty I have to correct myself. I recently found out today from unemployment that it has not always been the rule that if you’re spouse got a job, you could claim unemployment. It was just reserved for military and then in the last 2 years the law was extended to all. Unemployment for all!

Also, I find myself researching health insurance plans in Montana, and came across this Montana health co-up website. For all those uninsured, places are receiving grant dollars to kick off these private plans, which will start enrolling people in 2014 (the kick-off
of health insurance for all!). Even though you have health insurance, it never hurts to compare rates, and see if your co-op may offer more affordable rates than your employer-sponsored health plan. Capitalism for all!

What is a Health CO-OP, and how does it differ from traditional health coverage plans?
A CO-OP is a nonprofit insurance company operated by a group of individuals for their mutual benefit; it is run by the people whom it serves In the United States there are over 29,000 co-operatives employing 2 million people with over $652 billion in annual revenue.
CO-OPs have been extremely successful in rural states, like Montana, in various industries: agriculture, utilities, grocery, housing, and credit unions. A CO-OP lives up to its name- it is run by the people who will use its services. CO-OP members will form a majority of the board of directors, ensuring that a CO-OP will always meet the needs of the people it serves.

How will CO-OPs address the rising costs of health care? Drive cost savings through value based health care approaches. These include prevention, disease management, screening, appropriate pharmacy benefits, and use of high value providers. Enhance competition in the newly-created Exchanges by providing additional plan choices for consumers and businesses. This will be especially important in areas currently dominated by one or few insurance companies. Provide and promote greater primary care access and care coordination for its members, to improve the cost and quality of care

How did CO-OPs begin?
As part of the health reform debate and an alternative to a national “public option” plan, Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) proposed forming nonprofit health insurance cooperatives to provide health insurance coverage at low cost and to provide additional choice for health insurance needs. The Affordable Care Act (Section 1322) created CO-OPs, or Consumer Oriented and Operated Plans, program to foster the creation of new
consumer-governed nonprofit health plans.

CO-OPs will provide health insurance to individuals and small employers as part of the Competitive Health Insurance Marketplace (also known as the “Exchange”) in 2014. CO-OPs will offer products both on and off the Exchange. Large groups can also participate.
Unlike traditional insurance, any profits will be used to either lower premiums or to improve benefits. To encourage the establishment of a CO-OP in each State, the program
provides $3.4 billion in loans, not grants, to capitalize eligible prospective CO-OPs through Start-up Loans and Solvency Loans to eligible nonprofit organizations.

How many people does MHC plan on covering? We would like to cover as many as possible, of course! In the early stages, we would like to have 10,000 customers and work up to a higher number from there.

The bottom line is that there are a lot of people in Montana – Approximately 23% of adults- are uninsured many others are underinsured. A lot more people will be getting insurance as the exchanges become operational, and we will be there as a competitive and viable option for Montanans.

How much will premiums be? This hasn’t been fully determined yet, but we were awarded the loan based on our ability to be competitive with existing insurers, and we
fully expect to offer a high-quality product at a competitive price. Montanans’, on average, pay $288 more per year than their neighbors in Idaho. We believe that Montana can do better. We hope to provide low cost, high quality health insurance through a
combination of low administrative costs, and an increased emphasis on wellness, prevention, and improved primary care access.

What advantages does MHC have? We believe there are many. For one, we are starting with a blank slate and can design plans based on what will be best for our customers.
This gives us the opportunity to implement some proven and innovative practices that traditional insurers may not be using. As opposed to a for-profit insurance company, any savings we encounter will be applied towards reduced cost or expanded benefits for our
customers. Since our governance is member-controlled, the consumer will have much more say in how we operate the CO-OP. We believe this will result in insurance plans better tailored to meet the needs of Montanans.

What are some of biggest tasks ahead/timeline? Oct. 2013 is when we can begin enrolling customers with a start date of January 1, 2014, when the Exchanges will begin. In the mean time, we are going to be reaching out to the community to explain to them
what we are doing and what our plans are for Montana. We will also be laying out our health insurance plans and benefits, working with provider networks, and hiring and building a top-notch, full-time staff.

What demographics will this help? Starting in 2014 there will be help for people who currently cannot afford to purchase health insurance. These people will be able to find
affordable insurance options through the Exchange. Currently the number of insurance options in Montana, especially for individuals and small groups, is quite limited and often very expensive. We want to fill this very real need for more health insurance options in Montana.

Since nearly ¼ of all adults in Montana do not currently have insurance, these people will be looking for affordable and sensible options. We are not trying to focus solely on those who are uninsured. We also want to be a competitive option for small businesses and
others who currently have insurance.

Karen, this is very interesting.  I have heard NPR reporting on the practices of Co-Op based clinics on the east coast and they sound like great options for individuals who are using them. I wonder if all states will start to move towards (or legally allow them to operate) a Co-Op option in the future? All I know is that our bills that come from the clinic and hospitals are very steep and insurance is out of control.  My question is when did these insurance agents get their medical degree?  I can’t count how many times I have had to “petition” to have a certain “unnecessary” medical charge picked up by insurance…. you know… silly things like anesthesia for a surgery.

Well, there you have it, Thrifty Sisters!  A little food for your plate, to celebrate National Honey Month (and the missed National Cheeseburger Day) and food for thought, courtesy of the other half of the Thrifty Sisters. Have a fantastic week, stay happy and healthy and go enjoy the outdoors!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 5, Issue 15 – September 30, 2012

Greetings Thrifty Sisters, and happy last day of September!  Wow, where is the time flying away to?

I know that many areas of the country have been affected by the drought.  I have heard the farmers say that in our area, it will take at least 3 inches of rain just to fill in the cracks.  That is some dry earth, folks.  I was just reading the recent on-line edition of the “Freeman Courier” this morning and there is some great advice about how to take care of your trees.  We tend to forget about the trees needing more attention during drought time – well, at least I sort of forget.  I enjoy my trees and shrubs, and hope that they will stay around a long time in my yard. The following information is from Tim Waltner’s article titled, “Drought Hits Trees Hard, Too”:

“Water the trees you want to save now. Using a soaker hose, create two circles around the tree. The outer circle should be 5-6 feet in diameter. For trees up to 6 inches in diameter, use about 600 gallons of water. Trees larger than 6 inches should get about 1500 gallons. To calculate the time/volume, let the water run in a five-gallon bucket. Limit the water pressure in the soaker hose to avoid blowing holes in the hose; about half open is likely a good pressure. Water now and then again one more time before the ground freezes.
Do not prune any drought-stressed trees this fall. That will only add to the stress on the tree. “Without proper tree care now, there could be significant loss by next year,” he said.”

Do you happen to have an assortment of tin cans that you don’t know what to do with?  Before you send them to the recycling container, check out this article about 13 uses for tin cans!

In continued celebration of National Honey Month, I have one last scrumptious honey touched treat for us!

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Honey Frosting


·         For the Cake

    • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan
    • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
    • 2 teaspoons baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 tablespoon pumpkin-pie spice (or 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon ginger, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/8 teaspoon each allspice and cloves)
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 1/2 cups sugar

1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin puree (Be sure to use canned pumpkin puree — not pumpkin pie filling or fresh pumpkin puree.)

·         For the Honey Frosting

    • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, very soft
    • 1 bar (8 ounces) regular (or reduced-fat) cream cheese, very soft
    • 1/4 cup honey


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin-pie spice. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, butter, and pumpkin puree until combined. Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture, and mix gently until smooth.
  3. Turn batter into prepared pan, and smooth top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool cake 10 minutes in pan, then turn out of pan, and cool completely, right side up, on a rack.
  4. Make Honey Frosting: In a medium bowl, whisk butter, cream cheese, and honey until smooth.
  5. Spread top of cooled cake with honey frosting. Cut cake into squares to serve.

Cook’s Note

You can also use a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan: Increase baking time by 25 to 30 minutes (tent loaf with foil if it browns too quickly).

Recipe found here:

And there you have it, my Thrifty Sisters! Enjoy your time outdoors and consider giving your trees a nice long drink, benefit from your can upcycling and enjoy Martha’s Pumpkin Spice Cake with Honey Frosting!  Have a fantastic week!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 5, Issue 16 – October 7, 2012

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters! I don’t know about you, but the recent cold snap in our area has made me start to pull out my cold weather clothing in a hurry!  After one day of cold marching weather, and lots o’ layers, I feel that I am “done” with the cold and would like to go back to summer’s warmth.

Unfortunately, I don’t feel that our weather is going to humor me. That means that this is the perfect time for your seasonal cleaning reminder!  In fact, if cleaning is not really on your “want to do” list, consider the seasonal change as a wonderful time to update and finish any projects that you “meant” to do this summer.

Sure, the garden projects might be finished for the season, at least in the Dakota Plains, but that does not stop one from walking through the garden and start daydreaming about next year.  Are you a journal-er, or a list-er?  Consider dedicating a notebook to garden thoughts and dreams that could be implemented next year.  Wander through your garden with notebook in hand – maybe you wanted to transplant something but did not do it – that would be a perfect item to add to your list for next year!

While wandering through the garden, take note of other aspects of your yard and home – have a crack in the foundation that you wanted to give attention to, but just rediscovered it when daydreaming about your amazing spring iris bed?  Perfect – these are the types of projects that fall can be all about!

What I hear the most from people is how overwhelming or “not fun” a list of projects can appear.  Oh, boy, do I hear you!  No one wants to look at the never-ending to do list, but we all have them! In my opinion, it would be much easier to re-insulate the outdoor heating/cooling unit now rather than in January when you would have to climb through a 6-foot drift to get to something that broke because you did not do the easy project in the fall.

For me, the key to the overwhelming to-do list is to select a few items to accomplish over a specific amount of time. For example, over the course of one weekend, you realize that you have family obligations on both Saturday and Sunday, for the majority of both days.  I would NOT give myself 10 to-do projects to have completed by bed time on Sunday.  That just sets one up for failure.  Who wants that feeling?  Instead, look at the time available for your projects and think about what you can reasonably start and finish (that is the key element here, folks – FINSIH your project so you don’t have to worry about it!) in your busy weekend. You still had a great time with family, and you were able to accomplish at least something from your to-do list.  Success for all!

Another element that I am very fond of when tackling overwhelming lists is to start small.  Time to clean out that closet that you have avoided for the past 5 years?  I recognize that experts recommend taking everything out of your closet, but for some individuals that is only a recipe for a quick trip to mental health!  Start with one shelf.  Empty the shelf and go through those items.  Put items back that you know are useful, and let the rest go.  I have read that when cleaning closets and drawers that you should have 3 boxes – one for rubbish, one for donations and the third for mending.  So you have finished the first shelf and feel good – tackle the next shelf, or section in the closet.  Keep working through the closet until you are finished.  This method may take longer than an afternoon, but the key is to finish the project.

For people who have a tough time getting rid of items, it is suggested that they can place these boxes in an out of the way spot for a month – write down on your planner when to check in on the boxes.  In one month, if you have not thought about or missed these items, it is time to part with them.

Wow, I see that I have gone on and on about how to start tackling your to-do list! I had full intentions of adding an article about winterizing your home.  Yikes – now I have added another item to your to-do list! Let’s just keep this week nice and simple.

Enjoy the fall weather, my Thrifty Sisters.  Take time to daydream about warmer gardening adventures while keeping a keen eye out for things that need to be finished this year.  Your winter will run much smoother if you can accomplish the outside projects now, and remember to be realistic with your goals.  I feel that it is much more rewarding to finish a few items, rather than start many projects and never get them done.

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 5, Issue 17 – October 14, 2012

Greetings Thrifty Sisters! How are your to-do lists coming?  I am hopeful that you were able to break your lists into more manageable daily lists, and I trust that you were able to get a few things done over the past week!

Time to think about winterizing your home.  Again, I know that this article is not earth shattering information, but I find that seasonal reminders help me with those tasks that I sort of “forget” about from one year to the next.  Again, if one starts now with the winterizing projects, one will be more comfy and cozy down the road!

This short article was found in the February 5, 2010 from RecycleBank email newsletter:

“Q & A: Winterize Your Home”

What are the most energy-efficient ways to winterize your home during these cold months? I’m looking for things that have a real impact, either in my wallet or for the earth.

“Winterize” is just another word for saving energy, and any time you save energy, you save money!

Start with the easy stuff first. Sealing drafts along windows and doors saves 5 to 30 percent of the energy you use, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Roll a bath or beach towel into a tube and place it against the bottom of the door for a fast and inexpensive fix. For a few dollars, pick up a tube of caulking at your local hardware store to seal window leaks. Even better, get an inexpensive window insulation kit so you can “shrink wrap” your windows with clear plastic that keeps cold drafts out and heated air in. And don’t forget to close curtains and pull down shades on cold windows.

For a more permanent solution, install storm doors and windows for a 45 percent fuel efficiency gain. You can even cover as much as 30 percent of the cost (up to $1,500) using federal tax credits.

Here’s another meaningful money-saving solution: turn down your thermostat, especially when you leave the house for the day or go to bed. For every degree you lower the temperature, you’ll save between 1 and 3 percent on your heating bill. Can’t remember to make the change? Get a programmable thermostat to automatically adjust the dial for you. This easy $50 investment could save you as much as $180 a year.

You can also save a lot of money by maximizing the insulation in your home. Priorities include the attic, air ducts, cathedral ceilings, the floors above unheated garages, exterior walls, basements and crawl spaces. Your local utility may be able to help you do an energy audit to identify where the biggest leaks are and how much insulation you need. The insulation’s effectiveness is measured by its “R value,” which is defined as its resistance to heat flow. The higher the R value, the more effective the insulation will be at keeping your home warm.

While you’re thinking about insulating, don’t forget your water pipes. Since they’re metal, they lose heat all winter long. Once again, the federal government makes tax credits available for up to $1,500 to help you cover the cost. For a simple and cheap option, buy pre-slit pipe foam at your local hardware store and attach it with duct tape.

Wondering what to do with all the money you’ll save once you winterize? Invest in some warm blankets and cozy sweaters—putting on a thick sweater is like turning up the thermostat four degrees. Get more energy-saving suggestions here:

And with that my Thrifty Sisters, may you continue to enjoy securing your home for a warm and happy upcoming holiday season, as we continue to celebrate the season of harvest.  May you all be blessed with happiness and health, and less drafty rooms!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 5, Issue 18 – October 14, 2012

Greetings Thrifty Sisters! Can you believe that it is approaching the last week and a half of October?!?  Last week I was looking ahead into the next month, and realized that this coming Thursday is the one month marker until Thanksgiving.  Yowzers!  Where is that “easy” button that you see on the commercials?  In fact, I want a pause button.

Today’s Thrifty Sister is courtesy of Kathi, who sent this email over the summer.  For those of you who use or remember using clothes lines, this a fun one!  I also really enjoy the poem that was included at the end.  Such truth!

Remembering Mom’s Clothesline:

We had a long wooden pole (clothes pole) that was used to push the clotheslines up so that longer items (sheets/pants/etc.) didn’t brush the ground and get dirty.

You have to be a “certain age” to appreciate this one…. (But you YOUNGER ones can read about “The GOOD ol’ days”!!)

I can hear my mother now…..THE BASIC RULES FOR CLOTHESLINES: (If you don’t even know what clotheslines are, better skip this.)

1. You had to hang the socks by the toes… NOT the top.

2. You hung pants by the BOTTOM/cuffs… NOT the waistbands.

3. You had to WASH the clothesline(s) before hanging any clothes – walk the entire length of each line with a damp cloth around the lines.

4. You had to hang the clothes in a certain order, and always hang “whites” with “whites,” and hang them first.

5. You NEVER hung a shirt by the shoulders – always by the tail! What would the neighbors think?

6. Wash day on a Monday! NEVER hang clothes on the weekend, or on Sunday, for Heaven’s sake!

7. Hang the sheets and towels on the OUTSIDE lines so you could hide your “unmentionables” in the middle (perverts & busybodies, y’know!)

8. It didn’t matter if it was sub-zero weather.. clothes would “freeze-dry.”

9. ALWAYS gather the clothes pins when taking down dry clothes! Pins left on the lines were “tacky”!

10. If you were efficient, you would line the clothes up so that each item did not need two clothes pins, but shared one of the clothes pins with the next washed item.

11. Clothes off of the line before dinner time, neatly folded in the clothes basket, and ready to be ironed.

12. IRONED???!! Well, that’s a whole OTHER subject!

And now a POEM …

A clothesline was a news forecast,

To neighbors passing by,

There were no secrets you could keep, When clothes were hung to dry.

It also was a friendly link, For neighbors always knew

If company had stopped on by,

To spend a night or two.

For then you’d see the “fancy sheets”,

And towels upon the line;

You’d see the “company table cloths”,

With intricate designs.

The line announced a baby’s birth,

From folks who lived inside,

As brand new infant clothes were hung,

So carefully with pride!

The ages of the children could,

So readily be known

By watching how the sizes changed,

You’d know how much they’d grown!

It also told when illness struck,

As extra sheets were hung;

Then nightclothes, and a bathrobe too, Haphazardly were strung.

It also said, “On vacation now”,

When lines hung limp and bare.

It told, “We’re back!” when full lines sagged, With not an inch to spare!

New folks in town were scorned upon,

If wash was dingy and gray,

As neighbors carefully raised their brows,

And looked the other way.

But clotheslines now are of the past,

For dryers make work much less.

Now what goes on inside a home,

Is anybody’s guess!

I really miss that way of life,

It was a friendly sign

When neighbors knew each other best…

By what hung out on that line.

And with that my Thrifty Sisters, enjoy your week.

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 5, Issue 19 – November 4, 2012

Greetings and Happy November, Thrifty Sisters! Last week I took Sunday to enjoy having the company of my hubby (he had been at a work conference all week the previous week) and we finally met up at the marching band practice field on Hobo Friday! What a fantastic time we had last weekend, celebrating the 100th Hobo Days with not only the Alumni Band, but with our family and friends, and sharing our son’s first Hobo Day. Then we moved along to sharing the final performance of one of the bands that my hubby played with on Saturday evening at Zombie Walk. That will go down as a weekend to remember!

As things were much quieter this past week, I have spent time pondering what to write about for this weekend’s newsletter.  So many possibilities – the holidays are coming up and craft ideas and … and then life offered yet another learning opportunity. So from my life to yours, here is yet another little “Life Lesson”.

I was very excited when I found out that our son would be returning home from college this weekend.  Spending time with him is always entertaining and it is a nice to feel like I can dote on him, then pack him up with a collection of homemade goodies to take back to his new “home”. One of the traditional “loving” opportunities is the mountain of laundry that trail home with him. Don’t get me wrong, by no means am I complaining… I know how many loads of college laundry my Mom did for all of us girls, and I know that we are eternally grateful that Mom was able to do that for us!

In go the jeans, and soon the buzzer buzzes, and to my dismay, there appears to have been a blue pen that had exploded in the dryer. Upon closer examination… oh dear… it was gum that had smeared around the dryer and collected blue lint from the denim. As my son and I are staring into the dryer trying to think of what to do (and he offered to clean it up), my hubby was at the computer looking up what to do to take out the gum.

I had recently just read about removal of gum… but where did I read it?  Now my head was spinning… peanut butter?  Vinegar?  Ugh, what was it that was supposed to get gum off of things?!?!  Pretty soon, I am texting my neighbor Sue, asking what she suggests. At this point, my hubby has come up with 2 web sites, both of which I am going to share.

Well, the vinegar did nothing, so we brought down the Pampered Chef food scrapper (I am convinced that all households should just come with these things – they are SO handy!) and a magic eraser (you know, the Mr. Clean type, but we use the store brand).  No matter what one does, if it involves gum, there is going to be some elbow grease involved!

We tried the wetting of a dryer sheet and rubbing, but the magic eraser/food scraper still seemed like the best trick.

Anyways, after our son scrubbed and scrapped away, the dryer was clean and I ran a wet towel through to make sure things were safe for the next load of clothes… of course, the white load.  I am happy to report that our white load is still white, and no blue spots have reappeared in the dryer, so I think we are safe.

I am guessing that the reason the scrapper worked so well was that the dryer drum was still warm from recent tumbling.  But here are some other great resources on how to remove gum from your dryer:

And this web site is brilliant!  She has such a sense of humor – it is totally worth the read!

And some of may be asking “what is this food scraper you are so generously shouting elations about?” Yes, everyone needs these.  Did you know they work great for caulking too?

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, may none of you suffer through gum in your dryers… but in case you do, we’ve got you covered! Happy November…

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 5, Issue 20 – November 11, 2012

Hello Thrifty Sisters, and Happy Veteran’s Day!  Many of us have family members and friends who are veterans, and we need to take an opportunity to reach out and thank those people for their service.

In true thrifty form, I was looking for something interesting to add to the newsletter – some type of creative “something or other” to celebrate our veterans, and I think I have stumbled upon the perfect thing to share.  One needs to act fast, as many of these opportunities are for either today or tomorrow (also giving you the perfect “excuse” to call on your Veterans today!).

I am sure that there are many local deals to be found, so start looking around, but this web site features some great ways that these nation wide companies are giving back to our veterans:

Thank you to all of our Thrifty Veterans! I am thankful for your service to our country and the freedoms that I have.

Well, Sisters, I hate to break the holiday news to you, but do you know that as of this Thursday, it is one week until Thanksgiving and about 5 and a half weeks until Christmas? Did your heart just skip a beat, or did you feel your blood pressure jump about 50 points?  Or did your heart jump at the thought of delicious food and great times being spent with family and friends?  No matter which direction your emotions just went, I hope to help you this holiday season!

I love the following article about how to de-stress at home, with items that you already have at your disposal.  I am enclosing the link for those of you who would like to read the full article, but I am also pulling out the 6 tips offered.  If you happen to be a caregiver, this article has some links related to care giver burn out and depression.

“6 Secret At-Home Stress Relievers”, By Marlo Sollitto,

Hand towel – Soak a hand towel in water and then microwave it for two minutes until its steamy. Place the towel on the back of your neck and then over your face. As the soothing heat hits your skin, your body will instinctively relax.

Water – Not only is running water a great noise muffler, but the sound and feel of water is therapeutic. For maximum effectiveness, focus on the task at hand. The goal isn’t to scrub down and towel off in under 30 seconds. Take 10 minutes for a hot, unhurried shower or a steamy bath and feel the stress melt away. Massage your head as you shampoo, use a scented body wash, loofah your skin gently. When you emerge, you will feel rejuvenated and ready to take on the rest of your day.

Paper – Don’t keep your anger, fear and frustration all bottled up. Vent it by putting pen to paper. Studies show that writing about stressful events in your life for just 10 minutes dramatically lowers your perception of your personal stress. Experts aren’t exactly sure why it works. Perhaps it’s because writing gets your worries out of your head and into the real world where it’s easier to do something about them. It could be a more transcendental explanation: the transfer of your stress through your hand, out your body and onto the paper. Or maybe the exercise simply stops you from ruminating about your problems. No matter what the reason, the result is the same: Less stress and a better mood.

Tea – Skip the coffee and opt for tea instead. Research has shown that drinking tea on a daily basis can help lower stress hormones and inducing greater feelings of relaxation. Try proven stress-busting brews, like Chamomile or black tea.

CDs – How often do you turn on the TV for “background noise.” Instead of reaching for the remote, pop in a CD. Music has proven therapeutic benefits and does wonders to alleviate stress. Experts suggest that it is the rhythm of the music or the beat that has the calming effect on us even though we may not even be consciously listening to it.

Candles – Aromatherapy is, well, therapeutic. Lavender, jasmine and chamomile scents relax the mind and relieve stress. Give yourself several minutes of slow, deep, even breathing. Imagine that with each breath, the scents are entering your nose and spreading throughout your body, relaxing tight muscles and alleviating tension.

There, this should help those who stressed out of the thought of the upcoming holidays.  Little things everyday is a big help.  Finding the time to yourself, that seems to be the trick.  Nevertheless, it is so worth it.  If you are not healthy or happy, there is NO WAY that you can promote happiness and healthiness for others.  (No matter how much you lie to yourself that you can!)

Recipes anyone?  Are you looking for a new side dish for Thanksgiving?  Maybe a super-awesome breakfast/brunch idea for the holidays?  Let the recipes start!

Quinoa & Spinach Gratin – Serves 6 (

* 1 large bunch of organic spinach, washed, dried and torn into manageable-sized pieces * 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
* 1 large onion, chopped
* 4 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed in several changes of water and drained
* 3 cups vegetable stock
* 3 large organic eggs
* 3/4 cup Gruyère cheese, grated
* 3/4 cup cheddar cheese, grated
* 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
* 1 1/2 tsps fresh sage, chopped
* 2 tsps Italian parsley, chopped
* 1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
* Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Oil a 2-quart baking or casserole dish.

2. Prepare the quinoa. Bring the stock to a boil in a pot and add the quinoa with a pinch of salt. Stir and return to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until the quinoa is tender but still firm. You’ll know it’s done when you see its unique little curlicue of a “tail” come out of the grain. Drain the quinoa in a fine strainer or sieve and set it aside.

3. Heat a medium frying pan or a wide saucepan over medium-high heat and add 2 Tbsps of the olive oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until translucent and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir with the onion until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add the spinach and stir to wilt it well (you may need to add it in batches to make it easier to deal with as it cooks down since it always starts out so bulky). Season generously with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Remove from the heat.

4. Beat the eggs in a large bowl and add 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and some more pepper. Stir in the quinoa, the onion and spinach mixture, the Gruyère and cheddar cheeses, and the herbs. Stir to combine well. Scrape the whole thing into the oiled gratin dish. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the top and drizzle on the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.

5. Place in the oven and bake until nicely browned on top, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for about 5 minutes, then serve. Makes tasty leftovers! This would go well with a hearty salad or soup.
Best Crepes Ever (Recipe) –


  • 2 c. milk
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 4 tbs unsalted butter, & more for pan/serving
  • 1 1/4 c.  flour (all-purpose
  • 1 tbs grapeseed oil (vegetable oil works too)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 c. beer

Instructions – The night before, make the batter:

1. Heat milk, sugar, salt & butter in a medium saucepan. When the butter is melted, remove from heat and let cool until the mixture is at room temperature.

2. In a medium bowl, place the flour. Make the flour into a well at the center and add eggs and oil onto the well. Beat the batter for about 2-3 minutes, until it’s too stiff to beat anymore & the batter is smooth.

3. Slowly add milk mixture to the flour mixture little by little and beat until batter is smooth.

4. Strain batter with a sieve and whisk beer into it. Refrigerate overnight.

The next day:

1. Heat crepe pan**** over medium. When a drop of water sizzles on the pan, it’s ready to use. Rub pan with a dab of butter (wipe off any extra butter with a paper towel.)

2. In the center of the pan, ladle out about 2 tablespoons of batter. Tilt the pan to cover the bottom with batter that’s as even and thin as possible. Brown crepe lightly for about 1-2 minutes, and flip (gently!) to the other side to brown for another minute or so. Repeat!

3. Add desired toppings (see next page for ideas) and serve. Enjoy!  (author’s note)**** I actually used a regular frying pan and it worked just fine!

Topping Ideas

  • Fresh-squeezed lemon, powdered sugar & rasberry jam (Alice Water’s pick!)
  • Banana and nutella
  • Pineapple, mango & papaya with rum butter sauce
  • Peanut butter, banana, chocolate syrup
  • Cinnamon, apple, brown sugar
  • Peanut butter, banana, honey
  • Strawberry, kiwi, honey
  • Peanut butter & jam
  • Blueberry sauce & ricotta cheese

There you have it my Thrifty Sisters.  Thank a Veteran today and tomorrow.  ENJOY the holiday planning this year.  Take a few moments for yourself to relieve stress and enjoy some new recipes.

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 5, Issue 21 – November 18, 2012

Greetings Thrifty Sisters, and Happy Thanksgiving Week!

I am sure that all of you Martha Stewarts out there have your list of things to do this week, including scrumptious recipes, clean linens and hand crafted table pieces and name tags.  For the rest of us that are not so handy with the decorating side of life, there are projects and jobs for us this week, as well.  Mine just will not be as pretty as Martha’s!

No matter which direction on the creativity scale you are this holiday season, the “crabbies” might start to sneak in.  Have no fear – this Thrifty Sister has found a smart article about fun ways of relieving stress! This article includes all sorts of interesting ideas, including the consumption of things like chocolate (duh!) or items like garlic (really?!), and even encouraging a “moderate mess”(hello creative folk!).

What about left over or bad wine?  Yeah, I don’t have that problem either, but in case you do, I have found a amusing list of how to reuse that bottle – well, at least the contents!

“5 Things to Do With Bad Wine”, By Sayward Rebhal,

Old wine, old wine. Hmm . . . well, it’s not a problem I often come across, to be perfectly honest. We’re pretty fond of spiky beverages, ‘round these parts. (Some of our neighbors here in Portland even send their plumbers home with a bottle of wine.)

But okay, I suppose it happens every now and again. A lonely bottle of Chardonnay gets pushed to the back of the fridge and forgotten. Or a post-party Merlot gets left open, left out, for far too long to consider salvageable. These things happen to even the most dedicated of drinkers.

Then of course, there’s just the tragic occasion when a bottle, brand new and freshly poured, simply . . . stinks. Much like electrical work, winemaking is an exact science. Sometimes things just don’t come together.

Ah well. All’s not lost, my friends. As long as your wine isn’t growing fur or smelling like something long since dead, you still have options. Here are a few ideas:

1. Cook with It.

Contrary to popular belief (sorry Julia Child), it’s actually okay to cook with less-than-stellar wine. Blind taste tests have shown that as long as you’re boiling, braising, or otherwise reducing the liquid, the quality of the wine isn’t so important. So add it to a slow-simmered stew or a from-scratch pasta sauce. Try an on-it’s-way-to-vinegar white for cooking down onions or mushrooms. Don’t worry – no one will be any the wiser.

2. Bathe In It.

Yes, really! It’s called vinotherapy and it’s a great way to make use of a bottle you opened but didn’t care for. Celebrities such as Teri Hatcher pour a glass of red wine into the bath each day. The treatment is purported to soften the skin, as well as firming it up and adding elasticity. The magic is apparently in the resveratrol, a compound found in wine that’s a powerful antioxidant. And whether a wine bath really works or not, it sure does sound like a way to get some “me time” in the bathroom!

3. Make Artisan Red Wine Vinegar.

Red wine vinegar comes in two main types: that stuff you buy at the store, and the stuff that’s really amazing. Want to get your hands on the amazing kind? Then make it yourself! It is a perfect project for wine that’s already started to sour. It’s actually very easy and man, the taste is just incomparable.

4. Use It As Dye.

We’ve all spent our fair share of time trying to remove red wine stains from tablecloths, so there’s no doubt that the stuff has powerful staying power. This is a great project for a bottle that’s gone well past its prime, since there’s no ingesting or immersing involved. Wine-dyed fabrics have a lovely “crafty” quality, much the same as the popular tea-dyed look. Try it on linens or comfy cotton, Boho-style garments, and anything else that you want to endow with an earthy, natural vibe.

5. Don’t Forget Compost.

For the bottle that’s really, actually gone, don’t worry – you still won’t have to throw it away. Wine is completely compostable and can even act as a “starter” to give the bacteria in your heap a little “kick-start”.

And there you have it my Thrifty Sisters!  May you enjoy your pre-holiday planning – and if you feel overwhelmed, just take a moment to manage your stress and enjoy planning ahead on how you are going to re-purpose that “extra” wine that may have been neglected after the holiday meal (ha ha ha… I know, neglected wine, that is just too funny!  Who has that problem?! Hmmm…. maybe I have a different sort of problem…. oh, oh!  Maybe there IS such a thing as left over wine…. gasp!)

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 5, Issue 22 – November 25, 2012

Greetings Thrifty Sisters!  I hope that each of you had a very wonderful time with family and friends over this holiday weekend!  I would have to declare Thanksgiving to be a “success” from my end.

Flexibility was the key word for us, as we needed to make last minute arrangements to accommodate my hubby’s mom who came down with a stomach bug earlier in the week.  Big bummer – what a time to get the flu, right?! However, by being flexible and accommodating, we were actually able to discover some new adventures for our family trio.  I think we broke Pandora Radio in the process!  Ah, and the laughs we had! To give you the “rest” of the story, we were still able to meet up with my hubby’s family a day later.  All ended well, and everything worked out in the end.  It is just like that saying that I am so found of, “Nothing has to be perfect. Focus on what is right and good. Ask for help and accept that your way isn’t the only way. The simplest choice is the best choice. Find joy in whatever you do and wherever you are.”

As with any fantastic food holiday, I guessing that you may have a few ingredient leftovers that you are wondering, “what in the world do I do with this jar now?” We have some favorite condiments that are used up quickly in my household, but mayonnaise is not one of them. If you happen to have some leftover mayo, think about these following ways to use it up in a timely manner.  Now, I am just going to state, I think there are some great ideas in this list, but I don’t know if I am willing to spread mayo on my sun burn or my house plants. SO, experiment at your own risk!  The Thrifty Sisters are not responsible for any accidents!  Although, if you discover some great tricks, let me know what works for you, or if you are already using some of these tricks, please pass along those golden little secrets!

Although, I did discover a couple of metal hanger tricks that I would like to share:

This one is a great way to use your metal hanger as a paper towel holder.  You could also make one to just hold your regular garage rags, as I hate having my garage rags just sit in a pile, but I don’t really have anywhere for them to hang.

How about making an IPad holder out of an old hanger? Yes, there is a DYI video just for you!

Did anyone happen to have any great new-to-you recipes that they would like to contribute?  With the Christmas holiday quickly approaching, it might be fun to continue to try new recipes! I tried a new pie recipe this year.  It was delicious, but when I make this again, I am going to modify this just a bit.  The pie recipe was a double-layered Pumpkin pie – cheesecake on the bottom and pumpkin on top.  Next time I am going to use a larger crust (my original recipe called for a smaller crust, but this link calls for a 9 inch crust) and I am going to double the cheesecake amount, as I felt it was a bit “thin”. But the pumpkin part was awesome!

Find this recipe at

recipe makes 1 -9-inch pie

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon milk

1 tablespoon white sugar

1 1/2 cups frozen whipped topping, thawed

1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust

1 cup cold milk

2 (3.5 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix

1 (15 ounce) can solid pack pumpkin puree

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (if you are cooking for my dad, leave this part out!)


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together cream cheese, 1 tablespoon of milk, and sugar until smooth. Gently stir in whipped topping. Spread into bottom of crust.
  2. Pour 1 cup of milk into large bowl, and thoroughly mix in pudding mix, pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. When thickened, spread over cream cheese layer.
  3. Refrigerate 4 hours, or until set.

And with that my Thrifty Sisters, may you enjoy some DYI metal hanger projects, experimenting with mayo and a new pie recipe!  I have been talking with one of my friends who is working on a new-to-her laundry soap recipe!  I can’t wait to hear what her verdict is!  Look forward to that next week.  In the meantime, enjoy the moments that you get with your family and friends during this blessed time of year.  Don’t let the stress take over and be flexible.  You never know when you will discover that new “family tradition” by mistake.  You can guarantee that our family will continue to stump Pandora Radio!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 5, Issue 23 – December 2, 2012

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters, and Happy December!  Wow, did December sneak up on me! I am not ready for this month to hit!  Ha ha – like I have a choice!  So, I guess, bring on the holiday concerts, parties, decorating, cards and tree trimming!

You know, one of the things that never seems to go away during our holiday seasons are the basic home needs like cleaning bathrooms, and piles (and piles) of laundry. When the weather turns colder in my neighborhood, it seems like my laundry piles get bigger.  I am sure that is because we are not washing things like swimming suits and tank tops, but rather sweatshirts and sweaters, and of course, more layers, therefore, more laundry.

A few years ago I switched over to a basic homemade laundry recipe.  Once you have the ingredients and know where to shop for these ingredients, home made laundry soap is pretty efficient, and easy (and it works!).  As time moves on, one gets more ever more skilled with their homemade product.

My basic laundry soap recipe that I use is 1 bar of soap (Fels Naptha, or a bar of plain Castile soap also works, like the Dr. Bronners brand, or Zote), 1 cup washing soda, 1 cup Borax.

What I have found is that if you grate up 3 or 4 bars of soap at one time (a food processor really helps with this endeavor!) you can store it in a sealed container. I also pre mix the washing soda and borax in another container.  Then about every two weeks I fill this little 2 cup canning jar – half with the powder and half with the soap flakes, shake and do more laundry.

NOW, my friend Cathy has found a “fancy” version of homemade soap and she has given it a test run at her home with her piles of laundry.  She loves the smell, and it helps with that special aroma that our young lads can add to the laundry room. (if you have middle school or high school aged boys, you KNOW what we are talking about!) She was even kind enough to give me a generous sample, and it does smell heavenly, and washes great!

So if you are looking to spice up your laundry detergent, give this recipe a whirl!  Cathy found this recipe at

2lbs Borax Detergent- roughly half the standard box

1 bar of Fels Naptha Bar Soap (found in the laundry Aisle)

 1/2 box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda 

2 lbs of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda 

1 bottle of Purex Fabric Softener Crystals

1.5 lbs of Oxy Clean (comes in a 3 lb tub- use half) 

I have seen many methods on how to incorporate the bar soap. Some people use a cheese grater or food processor. I was a little worried that that would not be small enough to dissolve all the way, so I found a method that worked to turn the soap into a powder super easy. Throw the soap in the microwave for about 4 minutes, it will get huge and puffy. Let it cool and then it will easily crumble in your hands.  Once it was crumbled up and dry-   I went a step further and worked it with my hands, rubbing my hands together until it became as fine as the baking soda! This took me about 20 minutes for the 1 bar.

Now- no worries about it clogging your HE Washer with soap buildup!  

Grab a BIG bucket – we used a Home Depot bucket we use to store paint brushes. Measure out your ingredients and then slowly layer the ingredients in. Then mix it all up and you are done!

I poured the detergent into Purex Crystal bottles I had. This batch made 5 full bottles. Does not seem like all that much- BUT you only have to use 2 tablespoons for each load! So these 5 bottles will last me forever!

So when I asked Cathy what she thought of the above recipe and the instructions, Cathy was able to share that while microwaving the soap bars does leave a pleasant aroma in the home, the 4 minutes as suggested above actually burnt her bar of soap.  Here is Cathy’s email:

“The only mishap was that the directions said to microwave the fels for 4 minutes. While I found that microwaving soap does make your microwave/house smell good. Four minutes BURNS the soap and burnt fels is nasty. ;p

I tried it again for 1-2 min and it was much better. Great for grating. 😉

I used the small side of my grater and it worked like a charm to turn the fels into powder.

I followed the directions but wondered how necessary the purex crystals are. That was the most expensive ingredient.  I suspect you could easily omit. Of course, it wouldn’t smell as good, but the laundry would still be clean…


So there you have it my thrifty sisters – new laundry soap ideas to help keep our holiday season moving right along.  Nothing puts a damper on good holiday fun like running out of clean underwear.  Next week, I have all sorts of more laundry tips and tricks!  Do any of you use those wool dryer balls?  If so, I would love to hear from you – how you use them, how many, do they take care of static, etc.

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, may your December start off with a delightfully full basket of clean laundry that little helper elves magically make disappear into drawers and closets.

Here is a thought that I would like to leave with you this month by Deepak Chopra, “You can only change what you are first able to see. What are you willing to be aware of?”

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 5, Issue 24 – December 9, 2012

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters!  Old Man Winter has visited my home – how about yours?

When the weather outside is frightful, I guess it is a perfect day to stay indoors and do more laundry!  I hope that you were able to enjoy last week’s new laundry recipe.  I am still enjoying the lovely detergent that Cathy has given to me!  In addition, no funny rashes or break outs, so all is well in laundry land here!

Now that all you Sisters have astonishing washed laundry, let’s talk about drying those clothes!

I ran across this article that listed 6 different drying options… interesting, I knew of a couple of these tricks, but 6?  You can read the full article, but I am going to highlight the 6 items that were discussed in this piece.

According to Annie Bond and her article:

“Wear natural fabrics to avoid static cling. Fabric softeners are mostly static cling busters, and synthetic fabrics, such as polyester and lycra, are prone to static. Wear natural fiber clothing, which doesn’t get static cling.

Make your own dryer sheets. The key is to use an acid, so another idea floating around the internet is to saturate a small rag with 1 teaspoon of a natural hair conditioner, and put that into the dryer as a homemade dryer sheet. (Hair conditioners are designed to return the hair and scalp to an acidic pH.)

Toss in reusable, chemical-free dryer sheets. Reusable dryer sheets aren’t doused with chemicals, and they can be reused thousands of times. It’s the fabric they’re made of that helps prevent static.,default,pd.html?SID=WG127SPRTAPEMACS&extcmp=life_prod

For softness, add vinegar to the wash. Many successfully substitute vinegar for fabric softeners. Just add ½ cup of white distilled vinegar to the rinse water of the laundry cycle.

Use an eco-friendly fabric softener. There are a number of alternative “green” fabric softeners on the market that made with natural scents or are scent-free.

Try dryer balls. Many consumers report great results when they toss a couple of rubbery dryer balls in with each load in the dryer. They soften fabric by virtue of their nubby texture that helps fluff up the fibers.”

OK – Dryer balls, so I have see these plastic ones that you can pick up at various stores, but Cathy (who has apparently become my laundry go-to expert) told me about a mutual friend who makes her own wool dryer balls.  Hmmmm… wool dryer balls… tennis balls, plastic balls.  Oh dear, time to sort this out.

Throughout the years, I have heard that tennis balls were great for fluffing up winter coats and comforters from the dryer, but frankly, the thought of throwing my used tennis balls into the dryer just did not appeal to me.  Apparently the thought of buying new tennis balls never crossed my mind either – but the smell of a can of new tennis balls, really, in your laundry?! That is a great smell when you’re out on the court, but I am not so sure that I want that floating around in my dryer.

And it turns out that there is good reason for my hesitation. Apparently, whatever rubber and chemicals tennis balls have in them heat up and release into your laundry.  Besides, from what I have read they are pretty noisy.

Wool dryer balls operate on the same level and thought of tennis balls, but with wool, they are touted to help speed up the drying time. “Unlike the PVC dryer balls, the wool ones will absorb water from your clothes as they tumble around, speeding up your drying times.”  This last statement was found at this web site: Even though this article is related to diaper washing, laundry is laundry, right? In fact, click on the above link and read this blog.  It has some great tips and comparisons about wool dryer balls and other options.

Well, this all got me thinking about HOW do dryer sheets really work?  I know that there are some brands out there that are bad news for my skin. I have searched high and low for a brand that reduced the static in my clothes, but won’t leave me covered in a rash, along with the benefits of fewer chemicals that won’t kill the environment (both inside and outside of my home).

This article answered my questions.

For those who are curious, I am in the process of ordering some wool dryer balls from our mutual friend.  I am also going to find out if she has an Etsy store and if she would be available for any Thrifty Sisters who would be interested in ordering wool dryer balls.  I will keep you all posted on this new dryer “study”! Also, if YOU make wool dryer balls and would like to be listed on my “people to order from” listing, let me know!

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, may you enjoy your laundry day!  As I have been writing my newsletter this morning, I have been gradually watching the weather deteriorate and the wind and snow are picking up.  Sounds like a perfect excuse to keep washing with that lovely laundry detergent!  Now, to just fix my drying situation!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 5, Issue 25 – December 30, 2012

May all of you have a very wonderful New Years!  Wow, where did 2012 disappear to?  I trust that you were able to enjoy the Christmas Holiday – I know that we sure did!  Our son has returned from his first semester of college, we had a lovely opportunity to watch our niece portray Mary in the children’s program at her church, and of course, many great giggles with our family and friends were shared over these past few weeks.  I am looking forward to making many more new memories as 2013 begins to unfurl.

First of all, if you are planning a New Years Eve party – Did you know that this is happening TOMORROW?  Wow, again, these dates just keep sneaking up on me!  But, have no fear, let the Thrifty Sister help you out!

An interesting “lucky lore” states that black eyed peas are considered a lucky legume, not only in the southern portion of the United States, but is also a Rosh Hashanah tradition. Eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is believed to bring prosperity in the Southern United States, a tradition that has roots from the Civil War –

To bring the luck to your party, consider adding these little legumes into your upcycled decor – open your cabinets for a collection of mismatched teacups or small, pretty glasses. Fill each glass 1/3 to 1/2 of the way with black eyed peas, then set a small votive candle into each one. You can scatter your candles throughout the party where you want to add some sparkly!

Maybe party hats are more your speed? You don’t have to hit a big box store for party hats. With this simple template, you can turn whatever reclaimed paper and cardboard you have handy into sweet party hats for your guests.  To make these hats even more special, try painting or decoupaging on them to add a little oomph. Your guests will love your custom hats and they will have so much more character and meaning than ones you can buy at the store!

Oh, there are so many fun ideas for tomorrow’s parties!  Whoopee!  Of course, if your laundry pile looks like mine, one would want to spend some quality time in their laundry room today!  Yeap – that is my lame-o way on transitioning into more laundry talk. Actually, I have some reader’s comments to share this week!

I loved Cathy’s laundry recipe so much that I made up a full batch for myself.  I tweaked the recipe a bit, but it still is great laundry soap!  And microwaving the Fels Naphtha soap works like a charm!  If you remember, one of the steps in prepping the Fels Naphtha soap was to microwave it (one minute at a time, otherwise it will burn!).  The soap puffs up like a marshmallow.  Allow the bar to cool and it just crumbles with a little aide of your cheese grater (WAY easier than hand grating and less messy than pulling out the food grater!).  One bar of soap seems to go a long way when powdered up like this.  My challenge was waiting for the soap to cool off enough to handle it.

For those that were wondering, I am still working on getting some wool dryer balls and I am still working on finding a person who is willing to sell to our Thrifty Sisters.  Cathy and my “mutual friend” is not doing these as a business any longer, but was willing to make me some in her spare time.

This comment comes from a local reader (although I did not ask permission to use her name) but I am sure (at least I hope she doesn’t mind!) me using her recent email:

“Hey Lora – I just wanted to mention that I made my first batch of laundry soap using Fels Naptha/washing soda/borax. I hated the smell of the Fels bars but I loved how cheap they were so I decided to grate them up anyway. I can’t believe how fresh my laundry smells now!

I had been using Dr Bronners bars.  And was disappointed in how not fresh and frankly dingy our clothes seemed to be getting. Anyhoo-  love the Fels.  Just hope it is all natural?

Also-  found a recipe for dishwasher detergent and tried it out.  It’s a citric acid/borax/washing soda mixture.  Does a fantastic job on my dishes!  I add vinegar to the rinse agent compartment.

Good stuff!  Thanks!”

Also, this one comes from Johnny:

“I’d be interested in the wool dryer balls as well. I can’t get access to wool around here or I’d try making them! But I use the plastic ones, for almost three…maybe four years now –  wow it’s been a while!  As long as I can keep them all found and IN the dryer they have always worked fantastic…. it’s just getting them back out of the laundry baskets (fold clothes???  UGH! And when the kids were smaller…getting them back from the kids! LOL

On a side note…now that we’re inside again…. I’ve bought a great two piece folding clothes rack to stand up in front of the fire place for drying this winter! Not sure how much it holds…we have the big sized washer / dryer for large loads of clothes…so we’ll see I guess.

But with being inside and using the dryer again also… you get the dryer lint! I’ve been saving it and putting it in egg cartons and this fall I finally sucked it up, dived in… and melted this HUGE candle James had and filled up,  I think it was six 18 pack egg cartons and maybe eight to ten regular egg cartons full of dryer lint. They work AWESOME as fire starters!  I’ll be putting them in the camping stuff as well next summer. After some trial and error, less is definitely more with the amount of wax in the carton compared to the lint.  The ones I put in a bunch of wax, I can’t break apart to use!  and I don’t really think I want the power of a full 18 egg carton in the fireplace!  The directions I had didn’t say how far to fill them, so I was completely guessing on how much wax to put in. I tried the paraffin wax out of the canning aisle but that didn’t go as far as I thought it would. Luckily, I had James’s candle that was burnt out, wicks wouldn’t work anymore and it was basically just holding down the bathroom counter. I will be watching rummage sales next year to buy up old yucky candles to upcycle!

My only question now… is HOW do I get all the wax out of my cake pan?  I didn’t have a double boiler and nothing would have been big enough for the candle anyhow, so I had a cake pan over my big big soup pan….and I don’t think I did the soup pan any favors either boiling water in it all day – yikes!

live and learn eh? – Johnny”

Here was my reply back to Johnny:

“Thanks for your input on the dryer balls.  That is super helpful.  And I can’t wait to share your news about the drying rack.  I have a friend who hangs their laundry in the basement – they just string up rope from the rafters in the winter months and run a fan for air circulation.  With the 4 kiddos, I can’t imagine how much laundry they must do!

And I am super excited that you found a way to make your fire starters!  You may want to save your 18-egg powered fire starter for a bonfire for homecoming or something!  haha  My dad always picks up old candles at rummages (most of the time they are still new!) He learned that 24 candles can keep his kitchen and living room heated to 62 degrees in a winter emergency when the power goes out.  You just can’t go to sleep with them all burning.  But at 62 degrees you won’t have frozen pipes.”

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, may you have a wonderful and safe New Years celebration! Bring in the new year with lots of luck and maybe some upcylcled party hats! Enjoy your laundry room – if you need to do laundry, make it fun!  And if you have some great secrets on melting wax, or getting it out of Johnny’s cake pan, please let us know! Happy New Years to each of you…

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 5, Issue 26 – January 6, 2013

Happy 2013 to all of the Thrifty Sisters!

I am sure that you have all made your new years resolutions and are happily plunging into your new habits, or possibly, you have already found ways to begin procrastinating them.  Either way, the following article has some great, no nonsense approaches that might be easy to incorporate (if you do not already do so) into your crazy, chaotic lives.

“5 Really Easy Resolutions”, Originally Published: 12/30/09 by RecycleBank

“I’ve long given up on the classic New Year’s resolutions that include cliché things like losing weight and becoming more organized. I start out strong but by February, I’m already sneaking extra cookies out of the kitchen and cringing at the out-of-control nature of my junk drawer.

But I still think resolutions are a great idea — they offer you the opportunity to step back and take stock of your life, and to consider the person or lifestyle you aspire to. So in recent years, my resolutions often take a more altruistic form, thinking about changes I can make in my life that will help not only myself, but will also have a more far-reaching benefit, like helping the planet.

So join me and dedicate your New Year’s Resolutions toward actions that save money and resources. Here are some of my goals for this year:

Shop More Responsibly

This year, I vow to organize my time so that I have the time shop at food stores that carry more environmentally friendly choices. The natural foods store might not be as close or as convenient as my supermarket a few miles away, but if I plan ahead, I can make sure to stock up on organic, natural and bulk foods that are better for my family and better for the environment.

Reuse Before Recycling

Recycling is great, but even better for the environment is reusing containers rather than pitching them in the recycling bin. I aim to pack my daughter’s lunch in reusable plastic containers, rather than using plastic wrap and aluminum foil that gets thrown away. And, I’ll find other uses for the plastic tubs, cardboard boxes and other empty containers that traditionally find their way to the trash.

Eat Less Meat

By now you’ve probably heard of the Meatless Monday campaign, which aims to reduce Americans’ consumption of meat by 15 percent, both for people’s personal health and the health of the planet. Indeed, meat can contribute to obesity and heart problems because of the amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol it contains. And eating less meat can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, water usage and dependence on fossil fuels. So on Mondays, I plan to prepare hearty, nourishing meals using beans, whole grains, tofu, mushrooms and vegetables. And when I do buy meat, I’m going to skip the factory-farmed variety and opt for animals that have been raised humanely, fed a nourishing diet, and have been allowed to roam.

Walk More, Drive Less

This is a goal that most of us should aspire to for both personal financial and environmental reasons. I know that since I left New York City to live in Atlanta, the amount I walked decreased dramatically, particularly since there aren’t too many businesses that are within walking distance of my home. Plus, with a 3-year-old in tow, hopping into the car is so much more convenient, even for short jaunts. But I’m resolving to patronize the handful of restaurants that are within walking distance, and to allow more time so I can walk my daughter the short distance to her preschool. I know this will benefit my health, but I’ll also be glad to reduce my carbon footprint and to have to fill up my gas tank less frequently.

Give Items Longer Life

Recently I helped organize a neighborhood children’s party, and afterwards we had several bottles of cider, a couple boxes of cereal and a big bag filled with the unsold goodies from our bake sale. I was in charge of donating everything to a local shelter, which was surprisingly easy. In fact I got so much satisfaction from improving others’ day that I now plan to purge all my unused kitchen equipment and donate it as well. Passing along housewares and cookware for someone else to use is so much more responsible than throwing it out or recycling it, and you’re even helping out people who might not be able to buy brand-new things for their home.”

I hope that many of you read this list and said to yourself, “Yeap, do that… yeap, that too,” but I hope that there may have been one or two items that you thought, “I think I can do that, and possibly take that one step further.”  If this last statement was more along your thought lines, good for you!  I would love to hear what each of you are doing to make your lives thriftier and safer throughout the new year!

Every little bit helps!  And those little things certainly add up over time (a little something that I was reminded by the Target cashier last night as I chuckled about her missing the 5 cents off the total purchase because I brought in my own bag). EVERY little bit DOES help.  Did you know that for every plastic bottle you recycle, one saves enough energy to light a 60-watt bulb for 6 hours? It doesn’t seem like a big deal to throw a plastic bottle in the recycling bin, but it helps.  You all help.  And I thank you for it!

And with that little sappy thought, may you all have a wonderful week my helpful and Thrifty Sisters!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 5, Issue 27 – January 13, 2013

Greetings Thrifty Sisters!  2013 is well under way, and I hope that you are all enjoying a great start to the new year.  I am hoping that 2013 is going to hold all sorts of fun and fabulous things for each one of you!

Speaking of fabulous things, my first garden seed catalog has arrived!  Ah, the spring dreaming has begun! I think there is nothing more fun than paging through the seed catalogs and dreaming of new and fantastic items to try in your garden!  This year, I am going to try my hand at growing my own cucumbers and possibly potatoes.

Since I have a rather modest sized veggie garden (it is by design, I don’t want to overwhelm myself!), I have found that I really have limited space for plants such as cucumbers. But it seems like gardening is a great way to keep those creative juices flowing and is one of the best problem solving hobbies out there.  Then I read an article about growing plants such as cucumbers UP!  Wow, how did I not think of that?  I have spare tomato cages and besides of the cost of the cucumber seeds, it would be an almost free endeavor for me! I wonder if you can grow those in a pot on the patio?

Another option that I would like to try is growing potatoes.  Have you seen the potato growing bags?  Something like this might be a fun way to reuse an old shopping bag and still save space in my garden – maybe THIS would make a fun patio project?,default,pg.html

Is springtime too long to wait for you?  January is the PERFECT month to start your sprout growing!  If you have a sunny window and a spare canning jar, you could be well on your way to growing your own sprouts for use on sandwiches and salads.  I love sprouts. And to fit in with your new healthy resolutions, sprouts add so many healthy benefits to your diet. This site has some great ideas that take sprout growing outside of the jar!

Are you not really looking forward to playing outdoors yet?  How about indoors?  I have tons of indoor projects going on right now.  I am slowly working my way from one room to another.  Overall, the general goal was to clean up and reclaim my home from the holiday mess… of course, as I went from room to room, I realized that I had a lot of little things that I wanted to do as well.  Oh, oh, time to start a to-do list!  For those of you who use a smart phone, there are many to-do list apps out there.  I downloaded a sticky note app.  Now I can write all of my “wish to do” items down, but I do not feel overloaded staring at a sheet of paper that is slowly filling up from front to back!

So many of the things that I want to do are really just touching up worn out spots in a room. With a family full of musicians, the corners on the walls from the front door to the studio are beat to all get out!  Eventually, a fresh coat of paint, and maybe a little spackle will make things look much better!

One does not need to hire a decorator and have a full-on HGTV renovation done to make their living spaces tranquil and wonderful again!  I love the simple fixes to life.  Try some of these ideas to help you transform your spaces into havens of solitude for you and your family, without having to break open the piggy bank!

So here’s to each of you, my Thrifty Sisters!  Continue to make small impacts everywhere you go!  (Did you know that if you recycled one glass bottle you could run your computer for 30 minutes!)  Thank you, for all that you do!!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 5, Issue 28 – January 27, 2013

Greetings Thrifty Sisters! I hope that you have all had a wonderful past couple of weeks. As I sit today to write the newsletter, we have a “mixed bag” of precipitation – some freezing, some not.  I makes me yearn for the hot summer days – temps well above zero, no wind chill and the precip is rain (well, hopefully there will be adequate rain this summer and no major flooding!).

Are you thinking about gardening, too?  I enjoy the time outside.  I enjoy the peace Mother Nature has to offer, the smell of garden soil, the cool grassy texture under my feet and the music that is heard in nature.  And who doesn’t love a good home grown garden… well, anything!  However, did you ever stop to think about how much money you might be saving by growing just a few of your favorite plants?  I know that my hubby and I have often wondered that, but have never taken the time to really document what has come from the garden to the table. Fortunately, someone already has! What they discovered is good news to gardeners!  So garden dream away as the winter pushes towards spring – have you noticed the days are getting longer?

Besides daydreaming about future garden, I also ran across 2 items to share under the “Life’s Lesson From This Week” category.  The first life lesson was how to extend the life of my slippers.  I have the kind that you slide on, but they have a nice sole (you know, the kind that you can wear out to the mailbox), but I have noticed that they are really stretched out and just will not stay on my feet. They are in good enough shape to make it through the rest of this season – therefore good enough to save, right?! Ah, thriftiness, I hear you calling!

This was inspired by a friend of mine who had some boiled wool inserts for her shoes. Gosh, how nice would an extra layer of warmth INSIDE your sippers be?!  Oh, wait… (dig in closet)… yes!  I happen to have a practically new pair of insoles!  When following the instructions, I happened to trim the sides to thin – so thin that my pinkie toes hung off the edge and were very uncomfortable in my shoes.  But these insoles were sort of spendy, so I hung on to them thinking that I could repurpose them. AND I DID!  They slid nicely into the well-worn base of my slipper, fit marvelously into the heel area (so the insoles don’t slide out of the slipper) and ta-dah!

Now my slippers fit great, stay on my feet, I have that extra layer of warmth AND I repurposed the old insoles. Ironically, I don’t seem to notice how misshapen the insoles are inside my slippers.

This second Life Lesson that was learned this week was discovered by my hubby.  I am so proud of him!  About a month ago we had purchased a jar of tomato based pasta sauce, but only needed about half of the jar. As usual, the jar sat in the fridge.  I was concerned about wasting this jar of artichoke flavored pasta sauce.  It was a good sauce, and what a shame to waste it! So I decided to put it in a freezer container and froze it, not really sure what I would do with it, but was very pleased that we didn’t need to resort to tossing out a moldy jar of sauce weeks down the road.

This week, my hubby had a great idea on how to use the frozen pasta sauce.  He mixed a can of store bought tomato soup, milk, a few herbs, and the frozen pasta sauce, along with a little flour/milk mix for texture.  It was DELISH!  It tasted like a very fancy tomato soup that you would have at a deli, and with the bits of saucy pieces, it was hard to believe that it was not a homemade soup. So hats off to my hubby, and may you learn a new trick for using unused portions of pasta sauces.

Before I leave you this week, make sure to take time to read about 6 things one should NOT do with baking soda!  I seem to always be sharing and touting the uses of baking soda as a wonderful cleaner, but who knew that there were RULES now… geesh!

“Six Ways Not to Use Baking Soda”

By Adam Verwymeren,

Baking soda is a great and versatile tool around the home, and there are dozens of ways it can be put to use. It can cut grease, absorb odors and clean body parts, among its many other applications.

However, as handy as it is, this wonder substance does have its limitations. Here are a few ways not to use baking soda.

Antacid: Suffering from heartburn? Baking soda is a highly effective antacid. However, sodium bicarbonate is, well, sodium. So if your doctor has told you to cut down on the salt, don’t reach for this household cure for indigestion. Ask your doctor to recommend a safer alternative.

Cleaning Aluminum: While a quick scrubs with a bit of baking soda is a great way to clean your pots and pans, you should never use it on aluminum cookware. The alkaline sodium bicarbonate reacts with the aluminum and can cause your pots and pans to discolor.

Fridge Freshener: Because it reacts with odor-causing acids, baking soda will make your fridge smell a little fresher. But only a little. The problem is that that tiny box has an even tinier opening, which offers up only a few square inches of surface area for smell-causing compounds to react with. For baking soda to be a truly effective odor-fighting substance, you’d have to place large trays of it in the bottom of your fridge. If you’re in the market for a cheap fridge-freshening substance, try activated charcoal, an incredibly porous substance that offers maximum surface area to grab hold of those smelly molecules.

Grease Fires: Enough baking soda on a grease fire will smother the flames. But even if you happen to keep mountains of the stuff next to your stove, it’s nearly impossible to maintain a safe distance from the fire while shoveling this powdery substance onto the flames. You’re more likely to end up with a grease fire and a blinding cloud of airborne baking soda. So skip this makeshift solution and invest in a good fire extinguisher before an accident happens.

Acne: Baking soda is a powerful cleanser, and proponents use it for everything from deodorant to hair care. But because it is an alkaline substance, some people suggest that you shouldn’t use it as a cure for acne. Baking soda neutralizes the body’s natural acids, which help keep acne bacteria in check. Apply a little of it to your face, and you’re giving pimples free reign to breakout across your brow.

Baking Powder: They might look the same, but baking soda and baking powder are not interchangeable. Both can produce carbon dioxide in the right conditions, giving pancakes and biscuits a light, airy texture. However, baking soda reacts with acids already found in foods, like buttermilk or yogurt. Baking powder, on the other hand, has a powdered acid in it, so it is self-leavening. Use the wrong one and your baked goods aren’t going to have the right amount of rise and will have an off taste.

Adam Verymeren is a San-Francisco based gardening and home writer.

And with that my thrifty sisters, may you have a wonderful week dreaming about the gardens and their warmth and frugalness, enjoy reclaiming items in your home, and watch out for the 6 no-no’s of baking soda!  Did you know that one could run their TV for 2 hours on the energy saved from one recycled aluminum can? As always, I thank you for all that you do! Every little bit helps.

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 5, Issue 29 – February 10, 2013

Greetings Thrifty Sisters!  I hope that this newsletter finds everyone happy and healthy, and safely tucked into their homes if you happen to be in the way of any of the major snowstorms that are hitting our country this weekend.

If you happen to have time on your hands since you are snow bound, or are itching to start that spring-cleaning, here is a fantastic article to read about rearranging and redecorating on a tight budget.  If you are like me, and are a little home design challenged, this a wonderful article that provides design tips and reasons why certain items might not be working for your room.  I hope you find this article to be as helpful to you as it was to me!

Ah, Valentine’s Day is drawing near… Need a great way to spice up the family dinner (or a special date night)?  Valentines Day is all about love, and even if you happen to have a quiet evening to your self, show a little love with these fun dinner ideas and recipes! Of course, do not forget that we need to be showing love and kindness to our special ones the other 364 days of the year, as well!

And speaking of special diner projects, I have run across a fantastic butter softener idea! This is super clever – and will be especially helpful for all you bakers out there!

For those of you who are dreaming about your gardens, my friend Joan emailed me and said:

Hey Lora,  I made an arch and also used that green plastic fencing to run my cucumbers upon.  Worked pretty good.

Thanks, Joan, for the encouragement!  I am excited to have the opportunity to try this!  I happen to have some spare cages, and they are hefty.  But for those of you who do not have a stockpile of cages, here are a some neat ideas:

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, may you have a wonderful week!  Enjoy your loved ones each day, and remember to keep on being thrifty!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 5, Issue 30 – February 17, 2013

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters! I hope that you all had a lovely week.  It is less than two weeks before March 1!  Once March hits, it is time to start thinking about seeds, seedlings, and warmer weather that lay ahead… and warmer weather means sundresses and flip-flops!  Oh wow, super excited!  Oh, oh! I think spring fever may be inching in on this girl!

Since spring is just around the corner, that means that it wont be too long before my compost bin starts to unthaw and I can use what I have been composting, as well as opening that bin up for spring business!

For those who compost, I would love to hear how you do it.  Worms?  Piles?  Bins?  Are any of you brave enough for the counter top compost jars?  Please let me know what you do and how you do it.  I have a bin, but it is seasonal.  I have thought about composting with a counter top jar, but I don’t really know what to do with it when it fills up. Then the thought of worms come to mind, but I am not sure that is what I want in my kitchen, and I am not dedicated enough to having a visible bin with a worm farm – well, not yet! (Don’t tell my hubby, though!) It always amazes me what can be thrown into a compost pile.  Read on for 80 things that you might not have thought about composting!

Not into composting, but still want to live a little greener and thriftier?  Try this article about some easy to do items that will not only be more eco savy, but nice to your wallet as well:

Once again, here I come back to the never-ending laundry piles.  Apparently, there is a lot of info out there about homemade detergents!  I know that I have shared some recipes in the past and have dedicated weeks of conversation to laundry, but there is one topic that I have not really touched upon; Soap Nuts.  Have you seen them in the co-ops and natural parts of the stores?  I am so curious about them!  Soap nuts, so they say, are one of the simplest DIY detergent options, because they only contain one ingredient: soapberries. When you agitate soap nuts in the washing machine, they release saponin, which helps the water dissolve dirt and stains from your clothes. You can toss them into the machine whole, grind them up, or make soap nut liquid detergent by boiling them in water. Curious sounding little buggers, don’t you think?! For more info read here:

For more laundry soap ideas, go ahead and read the following articles about how to make your laundry room a less toxic environment and 5 favorite store bought laundry options, including soap berries!

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, enjoy your spring fever dreams for this upcoming spring and summer, feel free to share your composting stories and ideas with me and happy laundering – clothes laundering, that is!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 5, Issue 31 – February 24, 2013

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters!  I hope that you have had a wonderful February, and are eagerly awaiting the arrival of March!  March is such a lovely month.  The birds start to come back, spring is in the air… and even though there might be a whopper snow storm or two, you know that the snow is coming to an end and warmer, longer days are on the horizon.  *sigh* Happy thoughts…

For some of our Thrifty Sisters, spring is cleaning time, for others it marks that mad dash to work on our good intended new year’s resolutions so we can get into last year’s swimming suit.  For others it marks the time of year to seed shop and start looking forward to our garden delights.  Whatever this time of year means to you, please consider upcycling items into your spring plans.

With the use of Pintrest and other social medias, there is a plethora of ideas waiting to be used!  Apparently, if you have an item, there is probably a craft or repurposing project out there. Recently, I ran across this fantastic article about how to reuse your yoga mat!  Again, there are many creative ideas on this list, as well as some very good ways to donate your mat. Fifty nifty ideas from a yoga mat – who knew?

So you don’t have a yoga mat that needs a new purpose in life?  What about clutter?  Maybe that one drawer or closet that you have promised your self that you would “do something about it, later” type of hiding place?  In this article, there are 10 tips of controlling clutter.  I am pulling out the 10 tips, but the link to the entire article is here:

“Uncluttering is common sense; there’s no magic to it. All the experts offer the same basic advice, in one form or another. It goes like this:

1. Don’t try to unclutter your entire house at once. Start with a drawer or a shelf and move on to problem areas (such as the garage or the basement) once you’ve had some smaller success.

2. Maintenance is key. Spend fifteen minutes per day cleaning up daily detritus before it becomes overwhelming.

3. Take everything out of a drawer or closet and spread it out in front of you. You’ll eliminate more and organize what’s left more efficiently if you can see it all at once. (This also gives you a chance to clear out the dust and run a damp rag over the surface.)

4. Mark four boxes or bags “Keep,” “Give Away,” “Throw Away,” and “Hold for One Year.” (The last one’s for items you don’t need or use but just can’t bear to part with yet. If you haven’t touched these things in a year, their time has come.)

5. If in doubt, throw it out. Give it to Goodwill or any of the charitable organizations who send trucks around to collect it. Or give it away on Craig’s List. Nothing moves faster than the stuff in the “Free” listings.

6. Allow only three items on each surface.

7. Just say no to refrigerator magnets. They encourage clutter.

8. Keep clutter contained. Use baskets and bowls to collect mail, pens and pencils, loose change and all the other odds and ends that collect on counters and tabletops.

9. Storage is key to containing clutter. Storage areas should make up at least ten percent of your home’s total square footage and be placed so that you can store items where they’re used. (If you can’t get rid of the stuff, hide it well.)

10. Furnishings that do double duty as storage help minimize clutter. A wicker chest holding blankets can serve as a coffee table in the TV room; a small chest of drawers makes a great end table.”

And there you have it, my Thrifty Sisters!  Repurpose or reorganize is today’s theme! This week’s challenge is all about keeping your home and your life organized without it showing up in the landfill.  Each of you make a difference, and I thank you for it! Have a great last week of February, and remember, spring is on it’s way!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 5, Issue 32 – March 17, 2013

Greetings Thrifty Sisters! My goodness, has March proven to be a busy, busy month so far! Between collecting credits for my teacher recertification and Schmeckfest opening weekend performances and rehearsals, we have had a time change that occurred (I am assuming you have all “sprung” your clocks forward by now), and of course, Happy St. Patty’s Day to everyone!  And spring is just around the corner, according to our calendar! I hope that many of you are enjoying spring like weather.  In my neighborhood, it appears that spring is going to have a slow start. I may need to hold off on tucking away the woolies and bringing out the flip flops for a bit longer, but on the positive side, I have spotted my first robins of the season!

Recently, I have been car-pooling with a group of Schmeckfest Pit Orchestra ladies.  We call Pat’s van the Orchestra Bus.  In the bus we have had all sorts of wonderful laughs and giggles, and have shared dreams of our future gardens and recipes and travels, as well as solving the worlds woes. One of the topics that has intrigued me to no end is Pat’s ice cream maker. Apparently, her device is easy and does not call for such things as rock salt and magic ice cream fairies, as previous machines have required. Pat even shared a Williams and Sonoma Ice Cream making book with me on one of our bus rides so I could see how easy the recipes are.  I was a like a little child, oh, how I want an ice cream maker!  BUT, now we are talking about one more gadget in the kitchen, and maintaining yet another appliance, etc.  And to my wondering eyes, guess what I ran across by complete accident this morning… no churn ice cream recipes!  Oh boy, bring on the summer goodness!

This variation doesn’t require any equipment, making it simple. This movement in ice cream making seems to be huge, as it’s all over the web, and you can find recipes for just about any flavor you want! To get you started on this ice cream adventure, here are a few suggested web sites to check out: This gorgeous and simple recipe from Bits of Sunshine only requires five ingredients – and make that four if you leave out the green food coloring. Kevin and Amanda have outdone themselves in this all-things no-churn ice cream post that includes four stellar recipes, including flavors like Krispy Kreme Doughnut, Cinnamon Bun, and our favorite, Nutella Peanut Butter Chip!  Jules at The Stone Soup is a lovely Aussie who shares her tips on how to make the perfect no-churn with just three ingredients – yes three! You simply must check them out, even if it’s just to snag her homemade lemon ice cream recipe. and of course, cheesecake, heavenly cheesecake!! This recipe comes from Kitchen Simplicity and calls for real cream cheese and decadent blueberry syrup. Oh yum…

And there you have it, my Thrifty Sisters! Summer dreams from my bus rides to your inbox. May you have a wonderful week full of simple living options and thank you for all that you do in upcylcing and reusing!  Happy Spring!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 5, Issue 33 – March 24, 2013

Happy Spring to my Thrifty Sisters!  As always, I hope that this newsletter finds you happy, healthy, and thrifty!

With spring in the air, so looms the idea that maybe it is time to hit the gym so we can burn off the left over poundage from holidays and winter lethargy. Oh dear, here comes those guilty feelings of “shoulding” all over ourselves!  You know, the “I should do…” thoughts.  Then quickly follows the overwhelming sense of guilt of what really needs to happening in our homes at this busy time of year.


Remember the article that I shared about not “shoulding” yourself – take out the word “should” from your vocabulary.  It is guilt ridden, and quite frankly, I think we have all put enough guilt into our lives. Think of things as an opportunity or a choice.  What about that overwhelming sense of needing things to be perfect for the upcoming holiday celebration?  Take that feeling away, too!  Nothing has to be perfect.  Enjoy the blessings of family and friends.  So your kitchen is not spotless?  A working kitchen is never spotless.  A lived in home is perfectly fine.  This helps invite your guests in and allows them to feel that they can be comfortable in your home.

So how do we find time to balance all of our stressors?  Well, when you find out how to do that, tell me!  In the meantime, I plan to try to dig out my home, and burn a few calories at the same time. How, you may be asking yourself?  This following article is brilliant and makes one think about all of the work that one does during their day.  You may not be following a rigid cardio workout, but every little bit of activity adds up!

Feel free to read the following article and hopefully you will remember to stop guilting yourself into chores, and allowing yourself to choose the activities that will fill your day. Many blessings to you all this Easter Season!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 5, Issue 34 – April 7, 2013

Greetings and Happy April to the Thrifty Sisters! I hope that you all enjoyed your time with friends and family this past week.

Recently, I had to make some appliance repairs.  If you live in my area, and need the name of a handy and reputable repair guy, let me know! Both the washing machine and the dishwasher have been “on the frits”, and it was apparently time to make amends with my appliances. Since I had a captured audience, I took the opportunity to ask about every question I could about both appliances – may as well make this an educational experience, as well, right?

Our clothes washer was the first item that was looked at.  I have an older Kenmore upright washer.  It is not water efficient, but apparently, this was such a good model that Kenmore has stopped making this workhorse. About 15 minutes and one new pump later, and my washer stopped making puddles and runs as good as new!

While repairing my clothes washer I was asking about models that one would want to consider if they needed to purchase a new washer.  Did you know that the water efficient uprights break within the first 3-6 years?  What was explained to me was that with the overuse of laundry soaps, the extra detergent is the culprit for breaking down the seal between the washing tub and the mechanics that are housed underneath the washing drum. Once that seal deteriorates, the water is allowed to run down into the bearings and eventually into the motor of the machine.  To repair such a thing is the price of a new washer.  Unfortunately, that means that many of the models that are only 3 to 5 years old are junked out and new ones are purchased. What a waste!

According to my repair man, if I were to think about replacing my Kenmore workhorse, I would want to consider a front loader, as the mechanics do not have such a poor design flaw.  (Note to self, if I do need a new washer, I am totally calling this guy and asking what I should get!)

So if laundry detergent is the cause for the melt down on certain machines, what is the recommended amount of detergent? Basically, follow the directions and don’t over fill the measuring cup – for both the liquid and the powders.  I showed the repair guy my scoop that was marked with 1,2 and 3 tablespoon lines. Most of my loads are in the 2 range, extra dirty loads get 3 and small loads get 1.  He said that as along as I was happy with how my clothes were coming out, that I was using this perfectly (oh my gosh, I almost purred aloud!).  He recommends about 3 tablespoons per regular load of powdered detergent.

After feeling good about my clothes washer, and myself I was excited to share my dishwasher woes with him.  Oh dear… no more purring out loud!  I have not found a home made dish detergent that I like, so I have completely allowed convince to rule my dish washing. Yes, I used those little pods… detergent, rinse aide, the whole kit and caboodle all rolled into one.  Can you see my head hang in shame?

By simply opening up the dishwasher, there is a white powder stain on the heating element, which tattled right away that I am using too much soap. Once he opened up the trap, it was jammed tight with remnants of not fully dissolved packets, and even soap chunks, along with a toothpick and a small, quarter sized rubber disk (I am still not sure where that came from!). I guess if that trap is packed tight, water can’t get through there and travel up the arm to wash the top rack – mystery solved on why I was still hand re-washing the top rack dishes!

After unclogging all of the soap chunks and plastic bits and various goodies found in the trap, the rest of the washer was in great shape! Since I still was using good dishwashing practices like not putting food chunks in there, and running the hot water facet prior to starting up the washer, my only big bad no-no was the detergents.  Yep, if your detergent seems to be too good to be true, it is!

So his suggestion was to go back to using powdered detergents (phosphate free vs. non phosphate free did not seem to be a concern to our repair guy), but only to use 2 teaspoons of detergent on the pre rinse and wash portions of our dishwasher soap holder.  (a total of 4 teaspoons).  And the packets – besides clogging up your dishwasher… well, according to my guy, the rinse aide and the detergents are released at the same time – in the main wash cycle.  Rinse aides are meant to break down soap residue, and if you release both at the same time you are sort of canceling out the soap power. Somewhat yucky to think about. To sum up dishwashers, use soap in both the pre and main wash sides of your machine, and feel free to use rinse aides if you notice spots, but only have the rinse aide dispense from the rinse aide port on the machine.

Such a simple lesson, yet I fell into the ease of convenience and now I was left feeling as if I may want to rewash every dish in the house with my newly reworking machine!  For those that were curious, I tossed out the remaining few pods that I had and bought some powdered soap that day. And my dishwasher is marvelous, once again.  It is like falling in love all over.

If you would like to read more about detergents and some of the new ideas about them click here:

And there you have it my Thrifty Sisters!  May you all have a squeaky-clean week as you reconsider your detergent uses!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 5, Issue 35 – April 14, 2013

Greetings to the Thrifty Sisters!  What an incredible week many of us have faced concerning our April weather! I hope that this newsletter finds all of you safe, and with power. Is sure hope that this means that April will go out like a lamb.  I am also hoping that these April showers do not mean May icicles!  Ah… ok, done with the silly spring weather jokes.

For all of my seed starters, I am sure that you are happily planting little seeds in your seed growing kits and are happily dreaming of warmer weather and returning to your garden. I know that I am.  I have my seed potatoes ready and am eager to start my potato bag growing adventure.  I realize that the old wives tale is to plant potatoes by Good Friday, but I have a sneaky feeling that this does not apply to when Good Friday is in March, or when you have such severe April storms.  Does anyone have any good potato planting advice for this spring?

Here is a nifty web site to help you with planting date advice.  My favorite part of this web site is that they advise, “Use common sense as well, if it seems unseasonably cold for April and May, wait until temperatures warm up before you start planting outdoors.”

Maybe you are too preoccupied with the recent storm damage to play with your seeds.  I completely understand.  These poor trees!  If you are a do it yourself lumber jack, I have a found a nice pdf to help you cut in the right spots to ensure good future growth for your trees.

Here is another great web site that provides tree care, scams to watch out for and avoid and chainsaw maintenance.

Speaking of scams, one of our local television stations had an article about how some try to benefit from storm situations. This is worth reading and knowing what sort of questions you should ask of from potential “professionals” and “fund raisers”.

Once again, I truly hope that you and your loved ones are safe and sound!  Good luck cleaning up and remember to help each other out!  A little extra effort on our part goes a long way in making others feel good, and since we are all in this together, many hands make light work and good memories.

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 5, Issue 36 – April 21, 2013

Greetings my Thrifty Sisters!  Tomorrow is Earth Day!  Spring is coming to the Dakotas (or so I am told, although there seems to be more snow in the forecast) and the birds are chirping… probably because they want to be let in. I am hoping that your spring is springing, since ours seems to be on a delay this year. My hope is that this will bring us a longer, later, warmer fall.  We earned it, right, fellow Dakotans?!

Last week I wanted to share important safety info and tree cutting advice, since it seemed very appropriate.  This week I am going to share some emails from fellow Sisters!  I love to share the wisdom of others!

Replying to my call for help in growing potatoes, Jerad was able to send this morsel of information:

“Here is what I have done with potatoes.  Let them start to grow their eyes indoors.  This usually happens without my input when I clean out the winter pantry.  Then cut some of the larger potatoes into golf ball size chunks.  Ensure that each chunk has at least 2 roots growing well.  This gets them going before they have to go into the ground and you can be sure the roots will grow.  Not all eyes make good roots.  I don’t have a non chemical way to get rid of grubs, so I haven’t grown potatoes in a few years.”

Thank you, Jerad!  For all of you potato-novices out there, this was very helpful to me!

In addition to our chat about potatoes, after a bumper crop of potatoes last year, Johnny was looking for ways to use them up.  Potato water, anyone?!

“I ended up with a fifty pound bag of red potatoes….and we hardly eat potatoes!  So I’m off to scour food network for potatoes recipes. I found this doing a search for “potato uses” out of curiosity:

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I shared my story about my repairman coming in to repair my dish washer and clothes washer?  My dear friend Kara included some more dishwashing detergent tips:

“An aside to the dishwasher story, my repair guy said that adding a 1/2 cup of white vinegar would help prevent hard water build up on dishes and the inside of the machine. I just dump some in the bottom of the dishwasher then add the detergent to the right cup and start it up. I have found that I don’t need the extra rinse agent when I do this.”

Thanks, Kara! Out of curiosity, how much detergent do you add when you only add to the one side of the dishwasher, but supplement with the vinegar?

And of course, my darling Crafty Cathy has come to the rescue with a DIY recipe for home made dishwashing detergent cubes! And if that was not enough, Cathy has included a site for handy labels for your homemade items!  As Cathy said in her email, “One of my new favorite “How To” sites just posted cute tags that go with the DIY laundry soap I made. I thought you might like a copy.  Check it out…

Thank you so much to everyone who continues to provide information to the Thrifty Sisters!  I know I really appreciate your wisdom and willingness to share with each other!  Remember that Earth Day is tomorrow.  Make one small change in your life style, and hopefully it will come back and reward you for a lifetime.  Are you looking for ways to make a change?  Here is a top 10 list of changes each of us can do. My small, but hopefully affective change has been to keep my printer turned off when not in use.  I realized that my printer must be on for days at a time, just soaking up electricity. Now I only turn it on when I need to use it.  Sounds like a no brainer, but it is the small things done collectively that will make huge impacts down the road.

And with that my Thrifty Sisters, Happy Earth Day, and continue to look forward to spring!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 5, Issue 37 – April 28, 2013

Greetings Thrifty Sisters!  Can you believe that May Day is just around the corner!  I bet that is a term some of you have not heard of in a long time!!

According to my Dad, one should plant their Canna bulbs no later than May 1.  Does that apply if there is still snow on the ground?  Fortunately, spring is showing itself in my neighborhood.  The past couple of days have been amazing, and even thought it appears that our temps are going to be a roller coaster ride I have started my spring clean up.  Good luck little exposed plants!

And good luck to bulbs and things that I will be planting outside this week.  On my list are the canna bulbs, potatoes, gladiolas bulbs and calla lily bulbs. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?  Hopefully the reality of my upcoming spring concert season doesn’t come crashing around me this week, and I ought to have a nice mix of artsy and outdoors living!

Last week, Kara shared some dishwasher tips, and I happened to have a question for her.  This week, she not only answered my questions about the amount of dishwashing detergent she used in conjunction with vinegar, but also added a Happy Earth Day Tip!  Aw, that just makes my heart melt!  Thanks, Kara!  You are so thoughtful!  Here is Kara’s message:

“I keep my detergent (the cheap cascade dry stuff) in a pretty glass jar with a 1/8 c. scoop on my counter, one scoop in the wash dispenser pretty much fills it.  I keep my vinegar in pretty wine bottles on the Window seal above the sink (changing out with newly emptied ones as they look grungy).
On the theme of earth day…. I buy car rags, 30 rags for $15 for pretty microfiber clothes, even cheaper for terrycloth bar mops at BJ’s (Sam’s or Costco). I keep them in a basket and don’t even bother with folding them and use them in place of paper towels. I have a clean basket and a dirty basket and they get washed in hot water with a small amount of bleach. Having that many means that I can wait to wash them in their own load and that they are out with in easy reach.  Happy earth day! Kara”

With the arrival of spring, I am sure that one’s social life is going to start to rev up as friends and family start to fire up their grills.  I am including a link to the Food In Jars blog.  She has a delightful potluck salad kit and a salad recipe idea ready to help launch your spring grilling season into action!

So you need a dessert for your lovely grilling gathering?  Again, let Food in Jars help you out with this rhubarb cake recipe:

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, I hear my yard calling my name.  Spring fever has hit and I am going to let it take over until I need to clean up and head in for band practice tonight. May you have the opportunity to live a little outdoors this week.  May you enjoy what surrounds you and know that I appreciate each of you. Thank you for all that you do to stay thrifty and fun! Let’s see, where are my garden gloves….

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 5, Issue 38 – May 5, 2013

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters!  Happy May!  Did everyone get his or her bulbs in the garden this week?  I didn’t!  I was able to put the seed potatoes in their potato bags, but held off on the rest of the bulbs, as we had snow and record lows this past week. Maybe this week will be the week that I brave the idea of placing those little gems outside!  (But don’t tell my Dad that I didn’t get them in by May 1!)

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, why not surprise her with a nice batch of jam for that Sunday morning brunch!  I am completely intrigued and “in love” with the Food in Jars blog. I am including her recipe for small batch strawberry jam.  One of these days I am going to make my maiden jam journey, as these recipes seem easy enough for even this bumbler to make!

Small Batch Strawberry Vanilla Jam


  • 1 quart strawberries (a little over 1 1/2 pounds, should be approximately 4 cups of chopped berries)
  • 2 cups sugar, divided
  • 2 vanilla beans, split and scraped
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced


  1. Wash and chop berries. Toss them with 1 cup of sugar and the vanilla beans/seeds and place in a large jar or bowl.
  2. Allow the berries to macerate for at least 2-3 hours and up to 72 hours.
  3. When you’re ready to make the jam, prepare three half pint jars.
  4. Pour macerated strawberries into a large pot and add the remaining cup of sugar.
  5. Bring to a boil and simmer until the jam reaches 220 degrees.
  6. Add the lemon zest and juice in the final 5 minutes of cooking.
  7. Once the jam has reached 220 degrees, remove the pan from the heat.
  8. Pour jam into your prepared jars.
  9. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings and process in your canner for 10 minutes (normally I’d admonish you not to start your timer until the water has returned to a boil. However, as long as your water is quite hot when the jars go into the canner, the time it will take to return to boiling should be minimal).
  10. When time is up, remove jars from canner and let them cool on a towel-lined counter top.
  11. When jars are cool enough to handle, remove rings and check seals.
  12. If any jars are not sealed, store them in the fridge and use them first.
  13. Store sealed jars in a cool, dark place.

What turned me on to following all of the links to this recipe was how she was able to “save” a pint of fresh strawberries from rotting in the fridge!  Such a simple task and the result is a true, sweet success story! Her story sounds like so many of mine… one purchases a small batch of fresh berries, thinking how delightful they are going to be for lunch or a snack over the next day or two, and that evening you open the fridge and discover that they are not looking so good. Within 5 minutes, she was able to save this delightful treat, with the idea of making her small batch jam, as above.  If you would like to read her story on how she saved such a prized treat, read more here:

This past year I have rekindled the art of being more conscious of our food waste.  Some of it is so simple, yet it is amazing how this concept eludes many and before our society knows it we have thrown away, literally, tons of food across our nation. I have become a big fan of rediscovering my freezer. For many of you, you are very loyal to your freezer.  Since I did not grow up with a deep freeze in my home, I am learning how to utilize ours. For many, the small freezer space that one has in their kitchen fridge is all that they have.

One thing that I have started to do, since I have discovered how awesome homemade chicken stock is, is to save the scrap parts of various veggies.  I just toss them in a freezer bag, and when it is time to make stock I wrap them all up with the chicken bones in a cheesecloth, tie it with cotton string and let is simmer away. No wasting good veggie pieces with this method! So whatever your would normally place in the stock (carrots, celery, onions, etc) – just save the end bits and reuse in the stock.  With the use of the cheesecloth, these parts are perfectly fine to simmer away!  I do take off the papery skins of onions before I freeze them, though.

Another idea is taking leftovers that have been hanging out for a day or two, and putting them into individual sized portions and stick them in the freezer.  I have done this with soups, BBQ meats for sandwiches, casseroles, ect. They make a great lunch with no waste, and of course, no preservatives like their store bought counterparts!

Do you have some veggies that are not looking as fresh as they were last week when you brought them home?  Try cutting them up and freezing them.  The frozen veggies work great if you are making a casserole or soup.  Again, no waste!  (Save the ends and add them to your stock bag in the freezer!)

With so many in our world and even in our hometowns going hungry (did your mommy tell you about the starving kids in Ethiopia when you were growing up?!) it is really sad and silly that we can allow so many things to be wasted when we really do have the tools to save these items. Although these items are truly only “saved” if one consumes them in a timely manner!  No hoarding in the freezer allowed!

And with that my Thrifty Sisters, may you have a rejuvenated sense of rediscovering your freezer.  Have fun exploring new ways to save items from your fridge before they end up in the garbage. I would love to hear how my Thrifty Sisters frugally save their food and cash!  By the way, does anyone know where I can buy cheesecloth?  My old tried and true places are not selling it anymore and I am almost out!

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the Thrifty Mommies out there!  I hope you enjoy your day and know that you are loved.

Vol 4, Original Issue Dates: June 12, 2011 – June 3, 2012

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 1 – June 12, 2011 (original issue date)

Dear Thrifty Sisters, thank you so much for all of your support and encouraging words throughout the past 3 years.  We are officially starting the 4th volume of the Thrifty Sister!  WOW!

Here is a email conversation from Johnny and I about Vinegar as a yard care item:

From Johnny:

I’ve been spraying weeds in my rock garden like mad with the vinegar, finally got a spray bottle so I can point… and I’m about ready to just dump the whole gallon in there and “water” the rock garden… am I doing it wrong? they won’t die!   and suggestions?  will it work on sapling trees as well?  they are sprouting up in my rock garden too 😦  it’s just supposed to be a layer of black rock and fancy rocks I pick up on family trips!!! not green growing stuff!!!!!!!!!! 😦   at most parts of the plant have browned… how much vinegar does it take?  I’d like to apply to dandelion fields in the yard if it works 🙂  (of course not when dd is looking, I’ll catch it if her “garden” dies I’m sure)  🙂

anyhow, tried the grits (internet search) on ant hills…. they seem to like it…. any other bio safe suggestions for ridding of ants?  I don’t mind normally but they seem to be multiplying like a plague around the yard and there is a large amount of hills under the kids swing set now where I’d rather it not be and a large hill of red ants at the end of the drive way…. I’m being invaded! 🙂

From Lora:

There seem to be some weeds that are really tough to kill.  I have found that vinegar is amazing on thistles and dandelions.  It will also take out grass so be careful.  What I do with tree saplings is pull that out and then squirt vinegar to get at whatever remaining root might be there.  What is under your rocks for weed barrier?  On the tough weeds, I try to pull what I can, then spray the exposed ends of the weed.  Sometimes this takes several applications.  I found a few weeds that were really tough to kill, but my dad reminded me that even products like Round Up say that they make take several applications before all weeds are removed.  I think it has to do with the extensive root systems that they must create.

I just went along the side of the house and either pulled or sprayed crab grass that was starting to grow in the crevices of the pavers.  Some are gone, and others will need another dose of vinegar when it stops raining.  🙂

Ah… summer weeds also mean that our Farmers Markets must be up and running!  Did you know that a typical piece of produce could travel 1,500 miles from farm to plate?  Local strawberries and lettuce, now growing almost everywhere in the United States, require way less gas to get to you.  And of course, cooking at home saves bucks, so maybe you could splurge on some local wine to go with your meal!  Local food usually means fresher food!

Speaking of local food, Rhubard has been in full swing, and thanks to my brother-in-law, Steve, I have an amazing rhubarb plant this year!  (Thanks, Steve, for sharing your plant with me!  It is doing very well!)  My friend Karen D shared this recipe with me:

Rhubarb Cheesecake

1 Cup Butter

1 Cup Fine Oatmeal

1 Cup Brown Sugar

2 ½ Cups Flour

2 (8oz) Cream Cheese

1 ½ Cup Sugar

3 Cups cut up Rhubarb

1 teasp. Vanilla

Mix the first 4 ingredients until crumbly.

Put in ½ of that mixture in a 9×13 pan (reserve the other half for topping)

Mix the next 4 ingredients together.

Pour over the bottom crust.

Sprinkle remaining crumbs on top and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

Enjoy your summer weather, Sisters and get out there and enjoy your gardens, the local farmers markets and especially your rhubarb!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 2 – June 19, 2011 (original issue date)

Greetings and Happy Father’s Day to all of our Thrifty Sisters and their Families!

In sending out the older Thrifty Sisters to the, I ran across a Thrifty Sister about uses for old t-shirts.  We had all sorts of ideas, but some of my favorites included using them in place of swiffer dry or wet cleaning pads (and then you can wash and re-use!), cutting them into strips for use around the garden – they are great for tying up tomato plants.  You can use them as fabric cloth under your mulch as a weed barrier (take off the buttons and snaps – they don’t biodegrade), as well as all sorts of crafty projects.  Although, Mollie took the cake with her suggestion of using old t-shirt material for flute cleaning cloths – they are not linty, and can be wrapped around the cleaning rod easily.

Recently, Johnny sent me a link to a very neat craft idea using old t-shirts.  If you happen to have a pile of old t shirts and would like to donate to her next major project, let me know and I can tell you where to ship your old t-shirts to.  Otherwise, check out this neat t shirt rug idea!

Not digging the idea of making your own rug – what about making your own sidewalk chalk?!?!  (Again, thanks to Johnny for the great project ideas).  I think I would have saved a fortune when JJ was younger had I known that you could have made your own sidewalk chalk!  Check out the instructions here:

In this week’s installment of “Life’s Little Lessons”, I am going to share the new yard experiment that I am going to be taking part in this coming summer.  Last week I was shocked at the price of fertilizers for your yard.  What an expense – and although I have done it about 4 times in the past 6 summers, I have only once been truly happy with the difference that it made.  BUT I have always wanted to try the beer recipes that I have heard about, and I finally took the plunge!  After a couple strange requests to my neighbor, Sue (can I borrow your sprayer and where do you buy ammonia at?) I was on my way to a cheaper, greener yard… I hope.

Here is the recipe that I tried this past week.

“Heavy Duty Lawn Guzzler”

This homemade lawn fertilizer recipe is so-called because it calls for regular beer and soda, not the light or diet varieties. Heaven forbid you should skimp on your lawn’s tastes!

Mix together 1 can of full-strength beer, 1 can of regular soda, ½ cup of mouthwash (yes, you read correctly), ½ cup of liquid ammonia and ½ cup of liquid soap.  Use one of the yard sprayers that you can hook up to your hose and spray away.  Reapply every 3-4 weeks and spray during the cool parts of the day – they recommended evenings.

The beer helps to promote microbial action (I have read that it breaks down the thatch), the ammonia breaks down into nitrates that feed the lawn and the soap helps to spread the solution more widely across the lawn.  The mouthwash is supposed to do wonders on yard insects like grubs.

So far, the grass has not turned brown, and amazingly, when I sprayed it, I thought it was going to stink, but it was not bad at all.  I will keep you all posted on the new yard experiment called the Heavy Duty Guzzler Experiment.

And with that, Sisters, I hope that everyone has a great time reusing their old t shirts, making sidewalk chalk and trying a little beer on their yards!  Keep it thrifty and have a great week!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 3 – June 26, 2011 (original issue date)

Greetings Thrifty Sisters!  I hope that you have all had a wonderful and fun filled thrifty week this past week.

Just this week I decided that with the summer heat and humidity it was probably past time to do fun things like wash the shower curtains, bathrobes, etc.  When I took down the cloth shower curtains and liners, I noticed that my metal shower hooks were starting to get a little rusty, so after the curtains were tucked nicely in the washing machine, I headed out to retrieve my steel wool pads to scrub up the hooks.  It is always amazing how nice they look after a good steel wool scrubbing!

Which got me thinking of other uses for steel wool and a possible new topic for this week’s Thrifty Sister!

This is a list from “This Old House”:,,1627886,00.html

An all-purpose buffer, steel wool comes in grades ranging from super fine, labeled #0000, to extra coarse, or #4. What can’t you do with friction and elbow grease?

Use it to:

1. Start a fire. Touching the terminals of a 9-volt battery to a wad of steel wool can spark a campfire.

2. Stymie critters. Packing steel wool into gaps around pipes forms a barrier mice can’t chew through.

3. Stain wood. Woodworker and This Old House contributor Joe Hurst-Wajszczuk mixes steel wool and vinegar in a jelly jar, which reacts to create an ebonizing stain.

4. Prevent a clog. Temporarily stuff steel wool in the drain while you bathe your pet to catch shed hair.

5. Secure a screw. TOH master carpenter Norm Abram finds that steel wool tucked into an oversize hole can keep its screw secure after that last turn.

6. Revive aluminum. Storm windows regain their original shine when buffed with grade #00 steel wool.

7. Untrace your steps. With a little water, it lifts black heel marks on vinyl flooring.

8. Hush a motorcycle. To cut noise, International Steel Wool’s auto-buff clients pack the muffler can with stainless #3, says sales manager Eric Bonn.

9. Degloss paint. Knock down the shine by buffing it with the finest grade.

10. Mind your metal. TOH technical editor Mark Powers rests his soldering iron in a can filled with it for a clean tip and unburnt workbench.

Here is another article that lists 6 more uses for steel wool, incase you just can’t get enough ideas for steel wool!

6 Problems You Can Solve With Steel Wool

Turn nasty sneakers nice
If your sneakers are looking so bad that the only thing you’d do in them is, well, sneak around, some steel wool may keep them from the trash can. Moisten a steel wool soap pad and gently scrub away at stains and stuck-on goo. Wipe them clean with a damp sponge or send them through the washer, and you may be able to enjoy many more months of wear.

Crayons begone
Your toddler just created a work of crayon art on paper. Unfortunately, it’s on the wallpaper. Use a bit of steel wool soap pad to just skim the surface, making strokes in one direction instead of scrubbing in a circle, and your wall will be a fresh “canvas” in no time.

“Shoo” heel marks away
Those black marks that rubber soles leave behind just don’t come off with a mop, no matter how long you try. To rid a vinyl floor of unsightly smudges, gently rub the surface with a moistened steel wool soap pad. When the heel mark is gone, wipe the floor clean with a damp sponge.

Sharpen your scissors
Sometimes you just want a small piece of a steel wool soap pad for a minor job. Cutting it in half with a pair of scissors will help keep the scissors sharp while giving you the pint-size pad you need for your project.

Rebuff rodents
Mice, squirrels, and bats are experts at finding every conceivable entry into a house. When you discover one of their entry points, stuff it full of steel wool. Steel wool is much more effective than foam or newspaper because even dedicated gnawers are unlikely to try to chew through such a sharp blockade.

Keep garden tools in good shape
Nothing will extend the life of your gardening tools like a good cleaning at the end of each growing season. Grab a wad of fine steel wool from your woodshop (000, or “three aught,” would be a good choice), saturate it with the same ordinary household oil you use on squeaky door hinges, and rub rust off your shears, loppers, shovels, and anything else with metal parts. Wipe them clean with a dry rag, sharpen any blades, and reapply a bit of oil before storing them for the winter.

Tip: No Steel Wool on Stainless Steel
An oft-repeated advice is to clean stainless steel with steel wool. Yet stainless steel manufacturers caution against using any abrasive on stainless steel. Steel wool may make stainless steel look better, but it scratches the surface and ultimately hastens rusting. The safest way to care for stainless steel is to wash with a sponge and mild soap and water.

After all of this talk of steel wool, I am sure that you are all wondering how the great “Heavy Duty Guzzler Experiment” is going!  I am pleased to report that all is looking well.  The grass appears to have picked up a greener tint, although I am not sure if that is due to the “Guzzler Experiment” or the 2 inches of rain and several days of rainy weather that we had earlier in the week.  Maybe a little of both?  The next round of yard guzzling will be in about 2 or 3 weeks.  Sue has let me borrow her sprayer for the remainder of the summer – thanks, Sue!!!

Here is a little tid-bit of information that was passed along to me via the Nutro Dog Food email newsletter.  I was always curious if dogs could get sun burnt, and it turns out that they can!  “Long exposure to the sun can be harmful to your dog. During peak sun hours (between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.), limit outdoor exposure or apply a water-based, fragrance-free sunscreen that contains UVA and UVB blockers and an SPF of at least 15 – paying particular attention to the ears, nose and stomach.”

And with that, fellow Thrifty Sisters, keep the sun block handy not only for you and your family, but for your 4 legged companions as well!  Enjoy your new uses for Steel Wool, keep it thrifty, and fun this coming week!

Next week, stay tuned for some incredibly interesting updates from readers about ditching the marketable rules of personal hygiene and beating the scheme of “needing” so many commercial products to “fix” all of our problems!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 4 – July 3, 2011 (original issue date)

My goodness, what happened to June?!?!  Happy 4th of July Weekend to all of my Thrifty Sisters!!

For those of you with school aged children, the 4th of July was always my marker to start picking through the previous school year’s “stash” of school supplies and create the new school year’s list.  I find it much easier to buy a couple packages of pencils here, a package of crayons there, rather than have to go out and buy all of the supplies in one shot.  And even though you may miss saving 12 cents on a package of pencils by buying early, you save yourself immense amounts of stress by not having to battle the crowds and shopping carts and grabbing hands!  (For those of you who have waited until about a week prior to school KNOW what I am talking about – I swear those crowds are worse than crabby Christmas shoppers on Dec 24th!)

Speaking of school supplies, if you notice that you have collected an assortment of new colored pencils, or boxes of crayons, or possibly things like rulers and protractors (there must have been a great sale a couple of years ago, right?), I know that local schools, both public and private will take the extra school supplies.  Most schools will collect school supply donations and distribute them to students who come to school without them.  What a great way to clean out space for the new supplies and help those that really need the help!

And for those of you in the Sioux Falls area, don’t forget to check out the July posting from the Museum of Visual Arts,!upcoming-events


AGES: Adult

Wednesday, July 6



Re-use, Re-cycle, Re-craft! Every month, a new trend, material, and tutorial. Join us for this fun, relaxed, crafters night out!

And, as alluded to in last week’s TS newsletter, I have some shares from a friend of mine who has figured out and beat the commercial scheme of hair care and personal products.  You know how we have all been looking for the perfect product line… a product line that has no parabens, no petrochemicals, no “phthalates”, etc (and still stay on the thrifty side of life).  I think that Kara, along with a section of people throughout the world, have figured out the secret, which really is just a modern method of what our ancestors have done for centuries.

You can read about her discovery and her adventures on her blog which has all of links.  But I am going to copy her post here for your reading.  For some of you, this may not be the path that youwould choose.  For others, you may want to try portions of her methods.  Yet others of you may declare that you, too, have taken this journey and may want to share your personal trials and discoveries!

Enjoy reading Kara’s blog, and with that, Thrifty Sisters, have a wonderful weekend!

WFMW – Thrifty Cleansing

June 15, 2011 at 8:25 am

I’ve been promising my friend who has a Thrifty Sister newsletter she sends out among a few friends that I would get this post written. I gave her a titillating preview of “Thrifty” personal hygiene, so I should get this completed.

The truth is I’ve been afraid to put it into writing what I’ve been experimenting with. Many will think it’s gross, yet it has been a wonderful experience and I’m very happy with the result.

We here in the West however, have been programmed to expect certain things from ourselves and others in the personal hygiene arena.

Western thinking encourages daily showers and shampoo. I had a hairdresser tell me you must shampoo twice and condition twice, every day to have healthy hair. Why then, when I followed those instructions did my hair resemble hay and straw? My scalp was dry and itchy, dandruff that those special medicated shampoos did nothing for, and don’t get me started on the amount of leave in conditioners and anti frizz products I was putting on and then washing off the next day only to put them in my hair again.

Something wasn’t working. I had to find a different way.

Add to my “hair issues” the fact that I should have had stock in Suave and Lubraderm. I went through so much lotion! If I was African-American you would have called my skin ashy. VERY dry and flaky, I itched constantly and I was applying tons of lotion.

Again, something had to be wrong. I started slathering myself in baby oil before each shower. That seemed to help but not fix the problem.

Then I ran across an article on Parent Hacks.   A mother was having trouble with her little girl letting her wash rinse repeat and condition her very tanglie hair. The 3 in ones didn’t work so she started just conditioning, no shampooing. What she found was that it worked. Her daughter’s hair was manageable and easy to comb. It never looked greasie and since she was only conditioning then rinsing, fighting stopped.

Thus began my first experiment. Conditioning only.

Worked well. The itchy scalp went away. The dandruff went away. The need for all those leave in products went away!

Then I stumbled across this blog…Sorta Crunchy

Shampoo free. Or Poo-free as they termed it.

I decided to try it.

And it works!

My hair has never been more manageable.

I took it a step further. I use only water. That’s right just water.

I spend the same amount of time under the shower spray massaging my scalp and rinsing my hair as if I was massaging in shampoo and rinsing, but without anything but water. Only if I go swimming in a chlorinated pool do I use the baking soda and Apple Cider vinegar to get out the chlorine.

I’ve been doing this since February, water only since March 2011. I did have about a week where I was slightly oily and I just pulled it back into a bun and let it be.

You can’t get much more thrifty than free.

No shampoo to buy, no conditioner to buy, no leaving products to buy. I do have a can of spray coconut oil that I spray lightly after I get out of the shower, that’s it.

Here’s another link to Sorta Crunchy, with an update of how it worked for her.

Here’s another take on it. This time from The Herbwife’s Kitchen.

I went cold turkey not the gentle way she suggests.

I do use a natural bristle hair brush, $5 at walmart in the ethnic hair care section.

I brush at night, use a large tooth comb in the morning and I “wash” twice a week. More on that in a minute.

I love my hair, I no longer feel like I am fighting it. The day I shower, I towel dry, spray a little coconut oil and comb my hair. That’s it, I let it air dry, the curls are well-defined and look lovely. That night comb with the large tooth comb and pull it back into a low pony tail for sleeping, it’s past my shoulders and I hate to feel it around my neck as I sleep. The next day I comb and fluff it back out a bit, maybe wetting my hands with water and running them through to bring the curl back out. That night, brush with my natural bristle brush to pull my natural scalp oils to the ends, pull back into low pony tail for sleep. The next day I usually bush it and leave it in a pony tail/loose bun. “Wash” again the 3rd day.

Shower days are usually Wednesday and Saturday. I started the Oil Face Washing Method I found on Sorta crunchy, can you tell I love her site?

I started with equal parts castor oil, Jojoba oil and grapeseed oil. I also find I need more moisturizer so I added avocado oil as a moisturizer. I only “wash” my face with my triple oil “cleanser” on shower days. I slather on the oil and cover my face with a nice hot wash cloth ala old-fashioned barber shave style then when the cloth cools I use it to wipe off the excess oil.

Another blog on OCM by Aisha Wood.

After doing both the shampoo free and the OCM on my face I began to wonder if this wasn’t the answer to my lotion addiction as well. I decided to experiment a little on my own and in a soap dispenser I placed a 50/50 mix of olive oil and castor oil and began to apply that all over before stepping into the shower.

After steaming my face and “washing” my hair I take a loofah and scrub off the excess olive/caster oil.

That’s it.

Lest you think I am able to do this because I never sweat, never fear, I do.  I go to Curves 3 times a week (well, that’s what I try to do) and I’m getting back into running, and I do clean my house and work up a sweat.  However, what causes the smell is bacteria on the skin mixing with the sweat.  I’m beginning to think that the OCM keeps that bacteria low because even when I sweat, it doesn’t seem to smell bad.  It used to be that after a workout I had to get into the shower quick because I couldn’t stand to smell myself.  Now, Jim tells me that I never have that B.O. smell.  Last week when I had the flu with chills and cold sweats I could smell an odor, but I chalk, that up to sick sweat.

I buy the olive oil by the gallon at BJ’s, that’s a wholesale warehouse, Sam’s club type store. The castor oil I buy from my local natural foods store as well as the grapeseed, jojoba, and avocado oils.

The avocado I actually buy the cooking quality, not the cosmetic quality of, both are cold pressed and as far as I can tell, identical except the food quality bottle is cheaper by the ounce.

I’m not sure what I actually spend a month on the oils. I have only bought one bottle of each so far and I haven’t run out yet.

I do know that I’m not spending near as much as I was on personal hygiene products and my hair and skin feel and look SO much better that even if this wasn’t a “thrifty” option, it would still be my option.

So there’s what I do. You may not be willing to try it, you may think me weird for doing it, but, it works VERY well for me.

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 5 – July 17, 2011 (original issue date)

Greetings to my fellow Thrifty Sisters!  Sorry for missing last week’s edition – we were dropping my son and friend off at band camp, and in true Lora fashion, I did not have a pre-written newsletter just waiting for me to send out!  That might be something I should think about doing in the future…

I have heard from a few readers who had already heard about “poo-free” hair care, and were either already contemplating trying it out, or were curious how it worked before taking the plunge themselves.  So, Kara, thank you for inspiring so many people and to help many out who have been struggling with the same problems that you have experienced for so long!

Here is a follow-up comment from Kara about going “poo-free”:

I’ve noticed that even when I’m hot and sweaty, I don’t feel dirty. I’ve cooled down, changed clothes and gone about my day.  I would warn that going no poo or oil cleansing on the body, be sure to allow an adjustment period.  It can take up to 6 weeks for your skin and hair to stop over production of your natural oils as that has been what it’s been doing all this time. With all the over cleansing and stripping of our natural oils our body over compensated. It takes a while for it to realize that’s not necessary anymore.

I had about 1-2 weeks of really, really oily hair about 5 weeks after going shampoo free. I wore my hair in a bun and rode it out. So glad I did. My hair has never been this healthy, soft and shiny.

With the recent heat and humidity wave that we are seeing in the Mid-west, Sue shared with me a little secret about helping your garbage can not be the “stink” of the neighborhood.  Sue shared: “a high school aged HyVee checker told me her family put their scraps in the freezer in the summer rather than let them cook in the garbage can in their garage.  At first I thought that was gross until I remembered what my garbage can smelled like the week I had fish, chicken, honeydew & cantaloupe in the same week!!!”  Clever idea for those who don’t like the stinky cans!  (I am afraid that I would never remember to take the scraps out of the freezer!  Ha)

Here is a neat article about 10 smart tips to save on your utilities:

And with that, my fellow thrifty sisters, have a wonderful week!  Keep hydrated, call and check on family and friends during this heat, and keep an eye on the family pets – they can suffer from heat related illnesses as well!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 6 – July 24, 2011 (original issue date)

With summer in full swing, and many sports and band camps quickly approaching for our high school youth, and families are trying to jam in the last bit of summer before school starts, please remember to wear your sun block!  This article talks about the recent studies that came out about the conflicting studies that have been out about the use of sunscreen and the chemicals vs. the over all benefits of wearing sun block.

I would like my family to know that I have finally given up on the “tropical tan” and am an avid supporter of sun block.  Some lessons are learned the hard way!  Now to convince my poor, fair skinned son that he needs the sun block and will never achieve a tropical tan either!

For your foodies out there, here is a very interesting article about “super foods”.  Included in the list of foods talked about are cherries, beans, kiwi, spinach, onions, carrots, broccoli and a few others.  This article might help you next time you are in the grocery store starring at that bunch of cherries, knowing how yummy they would be, but you are mentally calculating which items would have to be removed from the grocery list in order to afford them.

And to touch on conserving water… did you know that if you made a few changes to your home you could save up to $170 per year and water and sewer bills?  Since it takes energy to treat our water, if one out of 100 American homes retrofitted with water-efficient fixtures, studies say that we would save enough energy to power 909 homes for a year.

Here is a list of appliances, and dates that one should take into consideration.  And believe me, if you have an old appliance that works and works and just won’t die, why replace it?  Just use it wisely and consciously!

Dishwashers – Change it out if your dishwasher was built before 1994, and you’ll save more than $30 per year in utility costs.

Faucets – In your bathroom, if your faucet’s not a low-flow version and pours out more than 2 gallons per minute, attach a faucet aerator. You’ll save up to $80 per year on utility bills.

Showerheads – If your showerhead blasts more than 3 gallons per minute, switch it out for a low-flow one. Since you will also save energy (due to less hot water use), you’ll shave about $80 per year off your utility bills.

Toilets – Replace your pre-1993 toilet (that was the year regulations changed). Compared to an old-school 3.5 gallon-per-flush toilet, an EPA WaterSense-labeled toilet will use 1.3 gallons or less, saving $90 per year.

Washers – Replace it if it’s more than 10 years old – and note: front-loaders save more water than top-loaders. An Energy Star-qualified washer can save you $145 per year between power and water bills.

And check with your local governments, or utility and water companies.  Many will offer rebates or tax breaks, or even free kits to help you save water in your home.

Next week, stay tuned for updates on my Great Guzzler Experiment (the beer mixture on my lawn instead of commercial fertilizer), more poo-free comments, and whatever thrifty nifty comments I can dig up!  With that, Thrifty Sisters, have a wonderful week enjoying your super foods, applying sun block like it was candy for your skin and saving water!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 7 – July 31, 2011 (original issue date)

Hello, Thrifty Sisters!

As promised, I have lots to update you on in this week’s edition and many new things to share, as well!

The Great Guzzler Experiment seems to be doing well and I am going to continue this experiment into the fall.  For those of you who may not have known, I changed over to a homemade yard “brew” this summer.  Basically, I did not want to pay the fertilizer prices so I whipped up a batch and used the following recipe:

Mix together 1 can of full-strength beer, 1 can of regular soda, ½ cup of mouthwash (yes, you read correctly), ½ cup of liquid ammonia and ½ cup of liquid soap.  Use one of the yard sprayers that you can hook up to your hose and spray away.  Reapply every 3-4 weeks and spray during the cool parts of the day – they recommended evenings.

I sprayed this on my yard in June, and my second spray should have been after July 4th, but due to heat I am waiting to reapply until things cool down.  Between then and now, I think my yard looks fine.  I made a much more conscious effort to water this summer (when needed) than I have in past years and I think that this has helped, as well.  Recently, Mother Nature has started dumping 5-6 inches at a shot, so I think I can put my little tractor water sprinkler away for a bit.

Speaking of water, last week I posted some reminders on how to conserve water.  One of the suggestions was to replace your pre-1993 toilet.  Kara has a fantastic fix for that!  “If you do have an old toilet and not enough money to change it out you can cut down the water usage by placing a full 2 liter bottle or milk jug in the tank to cut down on the water used per flush.”  Thanks, Kara!

Happen to have some extra PVC piping lying around?  After reading this article, I wish I had some!  There are some great ideas!

Use PVC to:

1. Make C clamp. Cut a 2-inch section of pipe lengthwise and pull it open so the ring’s jaws become a low-force clamp to hold rolls of non-adhesive backed wallpaper to a piece of plywood when pasting.

2. Store anything. Cap an end, label the side, and organize nails, screws, bolts, or blueprints in a tube cut to length.

3. Control stray cords. Run multiple workshop power cords through a PVC conduit.

4. Water plants in a strawberry pot. TOH executive editor Kathryn Keller drills small holes spaced 2 inches apart along the entire length of a 1-inch-diameter tube that’s slightly longer than the pot’s height. She then places the tube vertically in the center of the pot and packs soil around it. Water poured in the pipe opening slowly seeps out of the holes to evenly soak all the plants.

5. Collect leaves. TOH plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey rakes leaves into a PVC frame clamped to a garbage bag. The frame holds the bag open and works like a dustpan.

6. Extend a vacuum hose. Attach a 1½ -inch-diameter tube to the end of the hose with duct tape to clean ceiling-fan blades or suck up out-of-reach cobwebs.

7. Hang drapes. Hidden behind a valance, a ¾-inch-diameter PVC pipe is heavy-duty and cheaper than a curtain rod. Thread through ¾-inch eye bolts.

8. Build a sash-weight tunnel. To insulate sash-weight pockets without blocking the weights’ channels, insert a vertical length of PVC for the mechanisms to rise and fall within.

9. Divert water away from the foundation. TOH landscape contractor Roger Cook secures a perforated 4-inch-diameter tube to the end of a downspout with a coupling, lays the tube in a shallow trench lined with plastic sheeting, and covers it with gravel.

10. Make a time capsule. Cap the ends of a tube filled with mementos and drop it between the studs before hanging drywall.

Don’t forget, if you are in the Sioux Falls area, the first Wednesday is coming up and the Museum for Visual Arts has its recycle craft –!upcoming-events

I continue to get updates from folks who are trying out the “poo-free” advice.  It sounds like it is working out for many of you!  Here is a cute story from “someone” (I am not sure she is ready to share her name with this story yet).   I love her narration about how skeptical she was on the baking soda wash!  Enjoy –

well…Sunday was the last day washing….  i re read all the poo free stuff and realized I had read it wrong the first time or mushed it all together in my memory and decided there was not going to be a volcano reaction as James suggested 🙂   by Tuesday hair was completely greasy and horrid…. the point where I usually get headaches if I don’t wash it that are massive…. ran through a rinse with plain water in the shower out of curiosity…. no luck…. as they said in articles…. hair is too “trained” to produce massive amounts of oil and nothing to help it cut through…. so bit the bullet and wed I mixed up 2x the baking soda mix….the whole time looking at it and thinking “no frikin way”  it’s too thin… it’s just water… not even remotely thick…this is crazy…. but my hair is so thick I decided the double batch would be the best bet… so … I dove in… kept adding it in little amounts to be sure it stayed where I wanted it and not run all down the drain right away… still convinced it’s not doing squat.. rubbed and “scratched” and made sure to touch everywhere on the head… still thinking it’s a failed experiment… and then tossed the rest in the length of hair and rubbed gently and squeezed… then with a sigh started to rinse….and I could see whitish water when I rinsed!  so I figured hey…. must have gotten some in there….   didn’t feel the “shiny clean” like you do after you condition but I made sure to rinse it all without roughing up the hair and making a knotted mess… and wrapped it all up in a towel and went off to do something else un able to look at it and risk peeking and being disappointed LOL    now, my hair is so thick it takes several hours to air dry depending on conditions of the air… two to four hours… within the hour I let the towel loose and let it sit on my shoulders and finger tossed it.. and it felt clean! 🙂  within two hours of doing stuff around the house, it felt like I had washed it.. behaved as if I had washed it…. and sometime in the third hour I noticed it was drying nice and felt clean and wasn’t a tangled mess…. I can’t brush my hair when wet so I was worried about this part…. but it was behaving so nice and happy 🙂   and then I went to visit mom and had her feel it and ask her if it felt clean and she’s thinking I’m just weird by now… said yes, it’s clean, slightly damp but clean and nice… why?  I told her I’d tell her in a week…she’d freak if she knew 🙂     was able to use a pick on it after the third hour and it combed out perfectly… and happy!  my hair is never happy…..  this morning brushed perfectly and is still happy! 🙂   I’m planning on the Saturday vinegar rinse to see how that affects things 🙂

now my hair is so thick, if you put it in a pony tail you can circle it with the thumb and pointer finger and have a tiny bit of room to spare…. I’m a normal wash twice to get it “clean” and rinse with half a palm of conditioner person and it has to be Pantene, not suave (oddly suave “worked” in high school but stopped when the hair got thicker and longer)  my hair hated anything else that was under two dollars a bottle 😦   so I’ve been debating the poo free for months just because of four dollars a bottle for the shampoo and then conditioner.. and needing so much of it with every wash, and I wash every other day… that’s the limit I could go before the hair got too “heavy” and gave me massive headaches….   so you can see why I’m excited over instant results here! and two tablespoons of baking soda vs. two dollops of expensive shampoo!!!! :

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 8 – August 7, 2011 (original issue date)

Greetings Thrifty Sisters!  I don’t know about you, but I am wondering where June and July have disappeared to!  With the start of August, the start of school is looming in the near future for many of us.  Besides the array of new school supplies and new school clothing, one of the items that I struggle with each school year is how to pack my lunches.

I have a reusable lunch tote, and last year I picked up a great new Thermos brand thermos for my winter soups.  I will have to share a great soup in a cup recipe later, during soup season.  I have reusable water bottles and coffee cups, and I bring my own cloth napkins and real silver wear when needed, but I always struggle with the use of zip lock baggies.  I use them, and I try to wash them out and reuse them (this is a trick that I have done forever!  I have really gotten grief from this, but I hardly ever have to go out and buy new baggies!  The only “rule” I have is if the bag held something like raw meat, then I don’t re-use it).

But how do you reduce your need for baggies?  I have seen and read about these “reusable” sandwich wraps, but have not been able to purchase them in my town.  I would be very interested in one (preferably not a plastic one!), if I could find them!  Then Johnny sent me this interesting article about Oil Cloth.  Since this project involves sewing, I just don’t see myself rushing out and heading to my craft table, but for those of you who are good with fabric, this might be something you could do with the kiddos.  Maybe hemming is optional!?

And the great ways on how to save water through your toilet keep tricking in!  This note is from Jerad:

“I don’t usually suggest products, but this goes along with your water saver tips.  You can use this flusher on almost any kind of toilet (even pre93).  It takes some bit of fidgeting to get it to just flush the #1 on the 1 dot setting, but I noticed my toilets don’t run as long after mellow yellow flushes.  It is a bit pricey, but when my toilet needed all new parts, it was about the same for this as it would have been for the float, stopper, and handle (which this replaces).  It’s easy to install without tools and can be found at Home Depot.

Happen to have extra gallon jug containers and no-where to use them?  Now you do with these 10 great tips!  (10 Uses for Plastic Milk Jugs By: Mark Feirer, This Old House Magazine)

Glass was once the king of containers. But that era died with the milkman. Today, jugs are HDPE, or high-density polyethylene, a lightweight and flexible plastic that’s easily formed into a variety of shapes and sizes. When recycled, these jugs are often put to good reuse as the major ingredient in plastic lumber. But why not give a jug an extra job first? All you need is a sharp utility knife or shop scissors to cut them.

1. Scoop nails. You’ve dumped a coffee can full of fasteners onto your workbench in search of an elusive 10d; now clean up the mess with a milk-jug scoop. Make one by slicing a liter jug diagonally from the base of the handle to the opposing bottom corner.

2. Chill out. TOH general contractor Tom Silva fills quart jugs three-quarters full with water and freezes them to use in his job-site cooler. The contained ice won’t make sand­wiches soggy, and when it melts, you have water to sip.

3. Spread salt. Slice the bottom off a capped jug and fill the top with ice-melting granules. Grip the handle and flick your wrist to toss ribbons of salt over a slippery sidewalk.

4. Get the muck out. Connecticut homeowner Rod Doble drains his small pond for the season by siphoning most of the water out with a hose and removing the dregs with a milk-jug bailer. Its flexible sides conform to the pond’s irregular cement bottom.

5. Yank a commode. Plumbers use a wet/dry shop vac to suck water from the toilet tank and bowl before removing it. But bailing with a quart-size container will do the job almost as quickly. A sponge absorbs remaining moisture.

6. Start a seedling. Cut the bottom off a gallon jug and upend it to serve as a cloche. Remove the cap as needed to control temperature in the mini greenhouse.

7. Gas up. TOH master carpenter Norm Abram lops the bottom off a jug, removes the cap, then uses the funnel to pour fuel into his lawn mower.

8. Weight it down. Arizona contractor Michael Sondgeroth uses water-filled gallon jugs to hold a plywood coun­tertop substrate in place while the glue dries.

9. Shim it. Strips and squares cut from the flat side of a jug serve as moisture-proof shims or oversize washers.

10. Stymie a storm. Rope pairs of water-filled gallon jugs together and use them as anchors to hold a tarp over a small pile of firewood to keep it dry.

Now that your mind is reeling with the possibilities of oil cloth, and reusing plastic jugs and the cool flushing device, I hope that you have a wonderful, healthy and thrifty week!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 9 – August 14, 2011 (original issue date)

Greeting Thrifty Sisters!  I hope that everyone is having a chance to enjoy August!

So after posting the Thrifty Sister, I headed to World Market to pick up some more coasters for the studio and guess what they had – reusable, cloth-type sandwich wraps!  So I bought one to give it a try this year.  I have a really cool sandwich box that Britt gave me years ago.  The bottom goes in the freezer, to keep your sandwich cold, and then you just pop on the top. But I have all sorts of other little goodies that I pack in zip locks, and I am hoping that the sandwich wrap will do the trick and reduce my need for baggies.

Since JJ will also be packing his lunch this first semester (he choose to schedule a class during lunch rather than take another summer school class) I was curious how we will manage to pack 2 lunches.  Several of you suggested the following item, and it is SO simple – you guys are all geniuses!

Lora, Love your newsletters, you do make me think! My Mom always washed out old bread bags, one of my fond memories of her. You know I have been using wax paper to wrap sandwiches as it is more green AND you can buy 75 feet for $1.00 at the dollar store. The folding is fun, just don’t leave any spaces or holes as the inner contents will dry out. Best wishes for an awesome school year honey!  Cathy in Mitchell

Ah, Cathy – bread bags!  Hey, Sonya and Karen, do you remember Dad saving bread bags?  He saved them for all sorts of things – but his favorite was wrapping wet washcloths in them (and a few spare bags) and taking them on car trips.  When we had sticky fingers, he would wash our hands with the rags on the side of the road… or clean up carsick spots.  Those bags were used for many things in the car, including barf bags!  I bet car trips were sort of dreaded by mom and dad with us little girls!

Britt also did some research for me and came up with these web sites where one can purchase reusable wraps: – this site has all sorts of lunch packing items!!! – OMG – THIS is what I just bought @ World Market!  Also, this has a fundraiser opportunity for schools!  Nice…  Thanks for doing some homework for me, B!!!

Also, last week, I posted some ideas about how to reuse gallon jugs, and as this past week went along, I noticed that there are a few more ways that I reuse gallon jugs here at the homestead, and thought that I would pass those ideas along.

  1. I like to fill up gallon jugs and place them in my garage freezer.  It helps keep the freezer “full” and run more efficient, but it also provides emergency water and will help keep the freezer cold if the power were to go out.
  2. I have read where you can cut the tops and bottom off of jugs and use them in the spring for tomatoes and pepper plants to help protect them from early spring winds.
  3. I have used my gallon jugs as “bowls” – cut off the top, but leave the handle and it is perfect when you are mixing up a small batch of cement.  You mix up your small amount of cement, and it pours out very smoothly – no sticking to the sides like buckets!
  4. And or course, you can mix your own bunny repellant in these jugs.  Just don’t leave the gallon jug and repellant in the garage over the winter.  Jugs split and that stuff will stink up your garage even in the dead of winter!

The “Heavy Duty Guzzler Experiment” is still under way.  Last week I went out and sprayed the yard with my yard brew, for application #2.  We had some rain and the grass is still green.  I was totaling up the cost of my yard brew, and I figure I spent about $21-$22 for the brew materials and I have enough material for 6 complete yard sprays (I use a batch in the front and a batch in the back).  Even if you did it once a month, that is 6 months worth of yard spray!

I see that it is time to “wrap” up another edition of the Thrifty Sister – hope you all have a happy, healthy and thrifty week!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 10 – August 21, 2011 (original issue date)

Greetings Thrifty Sisters!

As the end of summer is clearly marked by the beginning of the school year, your garden shares several opportunities with you for next year’s thriftiness.  I like to collect seeds from friends’ gardens (as well as my own) and save them in brown lunch bags.  I mark where the seeds came from, what they are, and the date that I collected them.  I store them in the garage with the rest of my seeds (I know, I know… you are supposed to store them somewhere “nice” for the winter, but if they are going to be tough enough for my garden, they have to make it through the winter in the garage).  Next spring, when the garden itch is just too much, you can try sprouting a few of each seed.  Those that sprout are good and can be added to the garden with great success.  Those that did not sprout are added to the garden too, but with very little expectations.

One can also save seeds from garden produce to start as plants next spring.  I figure that it really does not cost me anything to try to save some seeds and see what comes up next year.  Worse case scenario, I head back to the garden store and buy plants.

So, if anyone is interested in seeds, let me know.  I always collect enough to share, and I am willing to trade!  In fact, maybe we could start our own Thrifty Sister Seed Trade!

Here are some nifty helpful hints that were shared from Chas.  There are some great pointers in here!  Thanks, Chas!

Take your bananas apart when you get home from the store. If you leave them connected at the stem, they ripen faster.
Store your opened chunks of cheese in aluminum foil. It will stay fresh much longer and not mold!

Peppers with 3 bumps on the bottom are sweeter and better for eating.  Peppers with 4 bumps on the bottom are firmer and better for cooking.

Add a teaspoon of water when frying ground beef. It will help pull the grease away from the meat while cooking.

To really make scrambled eggs or omelets rich add a couple of spoonfuls of sour cream, cream cheese, or heavy cream in and then beat them up.

For a cool brownie treat, make brownies as directed. Melt Andes mints in a double broiler and pour over warm brownies. Let set for a wonderful minty frosting.

Add garlic immediately to a recipe if you want a light taste of garlic and at the end of the recipe if your want a stronger taste of garlic.

Leftover snickers bars from Halloween make a delicious dessert. Simply chop them up with the food chopper. Peel, core and slice a few apples. Place them in a baking dish and sprinkle the chopped candy bars over the apples. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes!!!  Serve alone or with vanilla ice cream. Yummm!

Heat up leftover pizza in a nonstick skillet on top of the stove, set heat to med-low and heat till warm. This keeps the crust crispy. No soggy micro pizza. I saw this on the cooking channel and it really works.

Easy Deviled Eggs – Put cooked egg yolks in a zip lock bag. Seal, mash till they are all broken up.  Add remainder of ingredients, reseal, keep mashing it up mixing thoroughly,
cut the tip of the baggy, squeeze mixture into egg. Just throw bag away when done – easy clean up.

When you buy a container of cake frosting from the store, whip it with your mixer for a few minutes. You can double it in size. You get to frost more cake/cupcakes with the same amount. You also eat less sugar and calories per serving.

To warm biscuits, pancakes, or muffins that were refrigerated, place them in a microwave with a cup of water. The increased moisture will keep the food moist and help it reheat faster.

Newspaper weeds away – Put layers around the plants overlapping as you go – cover with mulch and forget about weeds. Weeds will get through some gardening plastic they will not get through wet newspapers.

Use a wet cotton ball or Q-tip to pick up the small shards of glass you can’t see easily.

Place a dryer sheet in your pocket. It will keep the mosquitoes away.

To keep squirrels from eating your plants, sprinkle your plants with cayenne pepper. The cayenne pepper doesn’t hurt the plant and the squirrels won’t come near it.

To get something out of a heat register or under the fridge add an empty paper towel roll or empty gift wrap roll to your vacuum. It can be bent or flattened to get in narrow openings.

Pin a small safety pin to the seam of your slip and you will not have a clingy skirt or dress. Same thing works with slacks that cling when wearing panty hose. Place pin in seam of slacks and … ta da! … static is gone.

Before you pour sticky substances into a measuring cup, fill with hot water.  Dump out the hot water, but don’t dry cup. Next, add your ingredient, such as peanut butter, and watch how easily it comes right out.

Hate foggy windshields? Buy a chalkboard eraser and keep it in the glove box of your car When the windows fog, rub with the eraser! Works better than a cloth!

If you seal an envelope and then realize you forgot to include something inside, just place your sealed envelope in the freezer for an hour or two.  Viola! It unseals easily.

Use your hair conditioner to shave your legs. It’s cheaper than shaving cream and leaves your legs really smooth. It’s also a great way to use up the conditioner you bought but didn’t like when you tried it in your hair.

To get rid of pesky fruit flies, take a small glass, fill it 1/2′ with Apple Cider Vinegar and 2 drops of dish washing liquid; mix well. You will find those flies drawn to the cup and gone forever!

Put small piles of cornmeal where you see ants. They eat it, take it ‘home,’ can’t digest it so it kills them. It may take a week or so, especially if it rains, but it works and you don’t have the worry about pets or small children being harmed!

With all of these nifty little tricks up our sleeve, who could not be ready for a fantastic week?!  Take care, Sisters, and we will catch up with each other next weekend!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 11 – August 28, 2011 (original issue date)

Greetings Thrifty Sisters!  I hope that some of you had an opportunity to try a few of the tid-bits of info that were shared last week.  My hubby made me eggs last week, and added a bit o’ sour cream to the eggs, and they were very yummy!  (He was very pleased to point out that he learned this trick from the newsletter!)

I thought I would share one of those “how to re-use things” lists and see how other readers reuse this item.  This week’s topic:  Newspaper.  Most of us have some sort of printed media delivered to our doorstep, whether it is the local newspaper, or the freebie news add pages.

10 Uses for Newspaper

By: Mark Feirer, This Old House magazine

We’re all watching more news than we read, but there’s still plenty of newspaper to recycle—about 9 million tons every year. Here are other ways to consume the news.

1. Patch a hole. To fix small holes in drywall, This Old House general contractor Tom Silva stuffs wadded newspaper in the breach as a backer for joint compound.

2. Eat odors. Work boots smelly? Stuff ’em with newsprint. The odor disappears.

3. Make animal bedding. It’s warm and healthier than sawdust or straw, since it inherently resists bacteria and is nontoxic if eaten.

4. Get rolling. If the car’s stuck in mud, sand, or snow, a hefty section of the thick Sunday edition, slipped under the drive wheel, lends enough traction to move you on.

5. Wrap presents. The sports section makes a great gift wrap for that new cordless drill Dad’s getting on Father’s Day.

6. Make a dry workshop funnel. After sorting through fasteners spilled out on a section, roll it up and let the hardware slide back into your coffee can storage.

7. Sprout something. TOH landscape contractor Roger Cook germinates seeds between two sections of damp newspaper, kept in a warm place.

8. Kindle a fire. Crumpled newspaper works, but rolling sheets diagonally and tying them in a lazy knot works better, suggests John Gulland, of The knot concentrates flames in a single area.

9. Enhance compost. Add it to an indoor worm bin to feed them—and the decomposition process.

10. Soften a tomato. Ross Siragusa, of the California Tomato Growers Association, wraps slightly underdeveloped tomatoes.

I reuse newspapers in the garden.  My sister in laws’ mom shared with me the use of the newspapers as a weed barrier and I have done this off and on since we bought our home.  Last fall my neighbor, Sue, shared with me a no-dig way to use newspapers to create new garden spots.

The directions for creating new garden spots is super simple – lay down 6 layers of newspaper, add some dirt and top with wood chips.  The newspaper smothers the grass underneath (helping it decompose) and is ready to plant by next season.  I tried this in the front yard this year and was completely amazed at how well it worked!  No more needing to rent a sod cutter for me!  The only thing to watch out for is that you can not add the glossy adds, only the printed pages.  And, if you find an amazing little garage sale priced plant, just push the topping off to the side, cut a hole in the news print and dig a hole for your new little treasure.  Once in the ground, just reposition your dirt and mulch.

Here’s to another terrific and thrifty week!  I am looking forward to hearing how YOU reuse newspapers!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 12 – September 4, 2011 (original issue date)

Greetings Thrifty Sisters!  It is almost 3 weeks before the Autumn Equinox and fall is in the air around here.  While working on marching band props yesterday, the morning was amazing – and the sun was very warm.  I was wishing for a tank top instead of the t-shirt that I happened to be wearing (it was in the 60’s when I left the house – a tank top seemed almost silly, even for me!).  Later in the morning I was wishing for a sweatshirt as the temps seems to be dropping as the north wind was picking up.  Yes sir-ee, fall is starting to creep in.

For many of you, canning and freezing have probably been under way, along with batches of fresh salsa and garden goodies galore!  I have had 6 red tomatoes from the garden so far this season.  I have oodles of green ones, but only 6 have managed to ripen.  I am guessing my late planting, the cool spring and the fact that gardening was almost completely ignored while I was in a boot (I had a stress fracture in my foot this summer) all factored into my sad collection of tomatoes.  However, my peppers are amazing (they must like neglect!).  The purple peppers that I planted are stellar, and I recommend purple peppers to anyone.  The color alone is fun!

I heard a super interesting article on the Minnesota Garden Hot Line (yeah for public radio!) during August.  I was trying to find that broadcast so I could share the web link with you, but I am having a hard time finding it.  Basically, it reported that even within the same neighborhood, some gardeners were have amazing tomato plants and others are wondering why theirs are green.  It was found that there was about a 3 day period where one could plant and have thriving tomatoes.  If you planted prior to the 3-day event, your crop was either destroyed by winds or the cooler temps.  If you planted after the 3 day window, you had these green tomatoes and very little ripening.  But if you planted during that “just right” time (think Goldie Locks and the 3 Bears…) one would have a bumper crop.  So, it boils down to luck, I guess.  This must not have been my lucky gardening year for tomatoes.

There is an interesting article that made its way to the Tribune and discusses some helpful hints on tomato growing vs. the elements this summer:

Since it appears that I have taken a gardeners approach to the Thrifty Sister this week, this is the perfect opportunity to share this web site that Johnny sent to me.  What an awesome site about herbs, and using them all over the home, including cleaning.  I am sure that I will reference this site in the future, but it is just too neat not to share with you now:

And with that, Thrifty Sisters, I hope this answers your gardening questions about your tomatoes, or helps you explain why you have amazing tomatoes and your neighbor’s are green.  Hopefully your neighbors are not green with envy!  I will leave you with a list of 10 things to do with magnets.  Going through this list brought back memories of “helping” Dad with various projects while growing up.  He had the coolest magnets, but would not let me play with them very often.

10 Uses for Magnets – This Old House magazine

In the 6th century B.C., Thales of Miletus, a Greek wise man, reasoned that a magnet’s power of attraction was the result of science, not magic. After that, it was only a matter of time (okay, a few millennia) before magnets turned up in TVs, turbines, computer hard drives, and on the fronts of fridges everywhere. Their stick-to-itiveness—in the form of iron horseshoes, shiny rare-earth bars, or vinyl-coated magnetic sheets—is also helpful for a host of household projects.

Use magnets to:

1. Locate metal studs in a wall.

2. Seal off air-conditioning vents to improve home heating by placing vinyl-coated sheets over the steel register faces.

3. Hang Polaroids of projects-in-process on the lip of a metal shelf above the workbench.

4. Collect nails from a porch repair job that have fallen in the grass.

5. Prevent corrosion inside your water heater; a magnet placed on the freshwater intake pipe catches damaging metallic calcium particles before they can get inside.

6. Pin blueprints onto the side or hood of the truck.

7. Create a bulletin board without the use of tacks, tape, or hooks on walls coated with “magnetized” paint containing metals.

8. Protect a tractor’s engine: Ceramic magnets placed in the oil pan will attract steel bits that get into the oil from grinding pistons.

9. Fasten steel framing squares to the outside of toolboxes for quick access by gluing magnets to the box sides.

10. Clean up metal shavings that have fallen from the bench grinder onto the workshop floor.

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 13 – September 11, 2011 (original issue date)

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters!  With all of the recent talk of reusable containers, I thought that this would be a perfect time to share this article about how to organize all of these nifty little green gems.

Wrangling Reusables: How to Keep Them In Check

This article originally appeared on

You bring your own shopping totes to the supermarket, pack your lunches in reusable plastic containers, and sip drinks from reusable water bottles. Kudos! If, though — while saving the environment one reusable at a time — you notice a simultaneous buildup in kitchen clutter, don’t despair. Follow our tips to make savvier buying, keeping, storing, and yes, disposing, choices for your common reusables. Out with the clutter, and in with a cleaner green lifestyle!

Reusable Shopping Bags

Buy Wisely: Pick bags made of lightweight material, such as nylon or polyester, that can be easily folded or rolled into a compact size. Bags with built-in snaps, ties, or buttons that can hold the tote rolled-up, such as Envirosax, are great; many other styles come with a little pouch that can easily get lost. Rolled-up, lightweight, and compact bags will take up less space, and can also be easily carried in your purse or briefcase.

Take Control: Use your bulkiest tote as a holder, filling it with all your other reusable bags. Stash it near the door so you won’t forget it on your way out to the store, or perhaps even on your garage door doorknob, if it won’t be in the way there. Better yet, keep all or several of your reusable totes in the trunk of your car (again, all tucked into one of the bulkier bags) so that they’ll be handy for unplanned trips. You can also buy or make a plastic grocery bag holder; if most of your totes are lightweight nylon, they’ll fit just as easily as disposable bags.

Food Storage Containers

Buy Wisely: Take advantage of some of the smart designs that manufacturers have developed, such as containers that nest or lids that snap together in a stack. These items will make storage far easier than if you have a motley assortment of containers made of different materials or from different brands. Also, make sure that your containers do everything you need them to do; otherwise you won’t end up using them, and they’ll just take up space. For instance, not all food storage containers are microwave-, dishwasher-, and freezer-safe — if you want them to be more versatile, you can invest in containers made of a more durable material, like glass.

Take Control: Dedicate a drawer or a cabinet to your containers, and only keep as many as you actually need. Plan to keep roughly one week’s worth of containers — think about what you’d use for lunches and leftovers over the course of just seven days. Make it a habit to bring emptied containers home from work the same day you use them, and to throw away past-their-prime leftovers, so that you can reuse those containers sooner. Once you have your week’s worth, add just a few used and cleaned tub-and-lid sets, such as large yogurt containers — these are great for sending home leftovers, because you won’t have to worry about getting the container back. Keep all of the lids organized by shape and size, stored on their sides (rather than stacked flat) in a plastic tub or other separator, so you can lift one out of the cabinet without knocking over a whole stack. For the rest of your containers, nest similar shapes together in stacks. If you have tiny containers, such as for baby food or condiments, put them all together in a larger container or in a large zip-top bag. If you have the space, a dish drying rack is also handy for keeping container lids upright and orderly.

Water Bottles and Thermal Travel Mugs

Buy Wisely: Choose water bottles that will be easy to clean — i.e., those that have wide mouths, spouts, lids, or straws that separate from the bottle, and few crevices where gunk can collect. Containers with clips or rings will be easier to store and transport.

Take Control: Avoid the tendency to collect water bottles and travel mugs every time you see a new style or a cheap price — if you have too many, it’s tempting to just leave unwashed ones in the car or at your desk. Instead, keep just one or two for each person who uses them, and be scrupulous about washing them — if they start acquiring a musty odor, you can freshen them with a scrubbing of baking powder, or even fizzy denture cleaners. There are a few ways to organize these awkwardly sized containers. If you have the space, consider screwing some large hooks into the underside of a cabinet or along a wall in your pantry, and then hang bottles from those hooks by their handles or clips. Similarly, you could also hang any linked chain or rope from the ceiling of a pantry, and hook your water bottles onto the links. If you’re low on space or don’t have bottles with their own clips, you might consider purchasing a wire unit that hangs beneath a cabinet or pantry shelf, and laying the bottles flat in that space.

If your reusables collection requires some purging in addition to some reorganization, consider donating extras that are still in working condition to Goodwill or a local shelter. If the reusables are really no longer reusable, that’s the time to get rid of them — check if food storage containers or water bottles are recyclable in your local community, and consider converting the old totes to rags, or maybe even placemats.

Wonderful words of wisdom, I must say!  I also happen to have a couple Tid-Bits to share from readers.  The first Tib-Bit is from Sue:

This is the recipe I’ve been using for a drain freshener for years.  This is not for clogs. It is for when you stick your head in the sink to brush your teeth & go Woah!!!

1 C Salt

1 C Baking Soda

1/4 C Cream of Tartar

Put 1/4 c mixture in drain

Put 2 C boiling water down drain

Let it rest til it quits fizzing

Run cold water down drain for 1 min

Thanks, Sue!  This is something that I am going to try… I have been having that “whoa” moment around here and have been trying vinegar and baking soda, followed by boiling water, but that just does not seem to cut through the special aroma that is lingering.

The other Tid-Bit comes from Mollie about canning tomatoes.  Thanks for sharing!

Here’s a slightly simpler way to can your tomatoes.

Working Woman’s Canned Tomatoes

Fill sterilized quart jars with skinned tomatoes.  Add one tsp. canning salt to each jar.  Put lids on and place jars on cookie sheet without any touching each other.  Bake at 250 degrees for 90 minutes.  Shut oven off and leave jars in oven until morning.  Do not open oven door til morning.

Thanks for sharing, Mollie!  Since my garden haul has not been very amazing this year, I don’t think I will need to worry too much about what to do with my excess.  Although, I think I will try this – that sounds easy enough for even me!  I usually freeze my tomatoes – all I do it cut out the stem and place them in freezer bags.  When I need a few tomatoes, I stick the frozen tomatoes in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes, and then just slide the skin right off.   Pretty easy, although I have always wanted to try canning tomatoes too.  Thanks!

And with that, we should all have a wonderful week organizing our reusables, have fresher drains and new ways of preserving our garden abundance!  Have a magnificent and thrifty week, sisters!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 14 – September 18, 2011 (original issue date)

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters!  I can’t believe that my calendar says that this coming Friday is the first day of Autumn, as I am afraid that I am not going to give in without a fight.  It will probably result in some sort of temper tantrum as I am standing in a sun dress and frost at some point.  Time to check on the status of my Smart Wool socks, I guess.  *sigh*

Last week I shared with you a canning idea from Mollie, and several of you readers wrote in about how you had not heard of this method before and were very curious about it.  Mollie said that her cans sealed, but she has not tasted them yet.  I will be eagerly awaiting news of how this turned out, Mollie!

Cathy shared this:

I check the extension agent’s website every year because canning methods do change. The way we put up tomatoes has been standard for years. It’s called hot packing. We dip the tomatoes in boiling water and pull them out right away, roma’s are the best. We peel and stuff into sterilized quart jars with peppers and one small onion. Then they go in a canner (big pot of boiling water with a jar riser in the bottom). We let them boil for 5 minutes and pull them. You can tell they are good when the lids seal. The best part is my awesome husband does this with me so it’s really quick and efficient. Enjoy this wonderful Fall weather!

Thanks, Cathy – that sounds really yummy – do you add hot peppers or regular peppers to your jars?

I am sure that many of you are in the same boat – it is the beginning of the school year, and you have written dozens of checks for various activities, fund raisers, new school supplies and clothes, pictures, etc.  How does one save cash to make it to the next month, or even for the upcoming holidays?

I have a link to an interesting article about saving cash, and I am going to pick out the highlights.  For some of you, you already do this, so consider it a fun checklist to see how you are saving money.  I am wondering what is left off this list?  If you have any new suggestions, please share!   (This list is complied from “Jump-start savings with no-spend month” – )

– cook meals from scratch

– use basic and fresh ingredients and food from the pantry and garden

– running multiple errands on each car trip

– walking instead of driving whenever possible

– pack a lunch for work everyday

– use washable rags instead of paper towels and cloth napkins instead of paper napkins

– make your own laundry detergent and use inexpensive homemade alternatives to household cleaners.

– “The key to making this effective is to dig deep to determine what is a luxury and what is truly a necessity.”

– “The goal is not to cut out all sources of joy in your life, it’s to “spend only on those things and experiences that are going to really improve your life, that you use and enjoy a lot, and that will give you a great lift and not just a momentary lift.”

And with that, Thrifty Sisters, have a great week being creative on how to save cash and Happy Autumn!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 15 – September 25, 2011 (original issue date)

Greetings Thrifty Sisters! I am pleased to share with you that on Friday, as we were welcoming autumn into our lives, I did not need to stand in a raging blizzard in my sundress.  No tantrum fits needed.  I even had the opportunity to come home after school and do some work in my sadly neglected garden and do some much needed lawn mowing.  I guess there might be hope for this coming season, after all!

Recently, I was reading an article about how to keep your home cleaner by taking your shoes off at the front door.  Seems like a simple enough task, as this is what I do at home – little did I know how much this really helps us out!  Not only are you removing your shoes at the door, but you are leaving behind all sorts of dirt, grim and contaminants that you have trudged through during your day.  (Public bathrooms, anyone?!?!)  Not only do you leave all those bits and pieces at your door, but you also won’t need to clean it up inside your home!  In fact, studies have shown that by removing your shoes at your door, you are able to keep out 85% of the dirt that you are transporting out of your abode!

Here is another fine little trick that I would like to share with you – I know that this is contrary to anything you ever heard on the Food Network, but use less water to cook your pastas.  It works just fine! (If you want to go even a step further, you can start cooking the pasta while you wait for the water to boil.)  You can get away with boiling a pound of pasta with only 1.5 quarts of water, rather than the back-of-the-box instructions of 4-6 quarts, but you do have to stir more to make sure it cooks evenly.

Did you know that if all Americans use less water and put the pasta in the pot from the beginning, we could save 500,000 barrels of oil per year – energy used to boil the billion pounds of pasta that is made each year.  By heating your pasta and water together from the get-go, saves about 6 minutes of boiling time.  That is not a lot of time, but in my life 6 minutes is about what I need for a shower or to get the laundry started for another round.

Interestingly, you can find this information in the “New York Times”.  Check out the link:

Speaking of interesting web sites here is a neat-o web site, sent from Johnny, about reusing all sorts of things concerning condiments!

And with that, Thrifty Sisters, enjoy a cleaner home, less water to boil your noodles in, new recipes for condiments and way to re-use those condiment containers!

Thrifty Tid-Bit, as reposted from Vol 1, Issue #30:

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.

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 16 – October 9, 2011 (original issue date)

Greetings Thrifty Sisters!  Welcome to October!  I missed my opportunity to wish that to you all last week, as there were some technical problems with my Thrifty Sister email.  Ah, technology, right?!!?  However, it appears as if I am back on track and thrifty living is again, in full swing!  (Thanks, Johnny, for making that possible!)

With October, comes the thoughts of fall decorating and holiday planning!  I love having pumpkins for fall décor, and those little gourds and mini pumpkins are about the cutest things around for fall decorating, in my book.  With a little planning, one can have a smashing holiday display, with minimal “trash” and items that need to be tucked away.  (oh dear, speaking of holiday decorating reminds me that it is time to clean out the basement closet so I can access those items…. I think this year I am going to need heavy machinery to get that job done!)

Also, if you are crafty or creative, your mini gourds and centerpieces can double as gifts/name tag holders at holiday celebrations and can be composted to help your spring garden!  On the other hand, if you have backyard chickens, you can let your chickens have first dibs on the compost pile – what a special treat for them!  LOL – try doing that with a plastic reindeer!

I can see that this may become a weekly column through the holiday season!  (ah, inspiration, I can feel you pouring down upon me!)  I will have to see what I can find for a cutesy name for the following holiday decorating tips for the upcoming months.  (Thoughts, anyone?!?!)

This week’s October Holiday craft is a super cute idea that one of my friends posted on his Facebook wall and I want to “borrow” his idea (thanks, Mike!)  If I were to do it, I would find 4 pumpkins of varying medium sizes, and paint “E”, “G”, “A”, “N” on each pumpkin – and display on the front porch.  If you don’t feel comfortable free handing a cute font (for example: curlz mt) print it out, cut the letters out, and trace around the letter with a small paint brush, and then paint in the rest of the letter.  Simple, and yet AMAZING!

And with that my thrifty sisters, enjoy taking time to head to the local pumpkin patch, and be inspired by fall.

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 17 – October 30, 2011 (original issue date)

Greetings Thrifty Sisters!  Wow – I can’t believe that October has flown by!  I guess life flies by when one is on band buses and chaperoning 129 of their favorite band kids!  I would like to welcome myself back to the world of non-marching band life and truly I hope that the withdrawals are not too dreadful!

Last newsletter I was speaking of holiday decorating.  Alas, I am sad to admit that I did not do much more than the standard basket of mini pumpkins and gourds.  Although, I did get a chance to clean out the basement closet – and no heavy machinery needed!  I had to clean out the closet to access the Halloween costume bucket for the annual Zombie Walk.

Now there is an “upcycle” idea, if you don’t already have one… the Halloween Costume Bucket.  We keep wigs, old costumes, masks, etc. from year to year in the bucket (really, it is big tub, but bucket sounds “smaller” and more manageable!). Especially since the Zombie Walk has become a favorite annual activity.  I just wash the zombie clothes (that still have some sort of “saving” left in them) and store them in the bucket.  It is amazing how many times we have used and reused some of those things, and just added a new wig, or “fresh” dirt and blood to the previous zombie duds.  The other thing I like to do is to pick up Halloween make-up that goes on clearance and save it for the next year.

Here is a CUTE idea for mini pumpkins:

She has taken mini pumpkins and created Drac-o’-lanterns and little winged bat-pumpkins.  Super cute!  And, of course, Martha has pumpkin carving ideas, directions and more!

But, don’t forget to toast the pumpkin seeds after you have done your carvings! Toasting pumpkin seeds are one of my favorite parts of Halloween – Mom always made the house smell toasty and warm for her little spooks!

Here is a basic recipe for toasting pumpkin seeds– feel free to add other seasonings.


1/2 cups raw whole pumpkin seeds

2 teaspoons butter, melted

1 pinch salt (My mom used Lawry’s seasoning salt, and a hearty “dash” of it.)


Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).

Toss seeds in a bowl with the melted butter and salt. Spread the seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes or until golden brown; stir occasionally.

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, may you have a wonderful pumpkin carving, and tasty seeds for the remainder of the week!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 18 – November 6, 2011 (original issue date)

Happy November, Thrifty Sisters!  Wow, at the rate that this year is soaring by, I am going to be saying “Merry Christmas” before we know it!  I hope that everyone had the opportunity to have a amusing Halloween and are eagerly looking forward to future family gatherings.

To keep up with the recent holiday decorating portion of the newsletter, I found this great video clip from P. Allen Smith.  Wow, that guy is very crafty!  Check out how he uses moss and chicken wire to create an outdoor cornucopia.

I would love to try this someday.  I think it would look grand on my front step!  And you could always incorporate the mini gourds and pumpkins that you did not cut open for Halloween.

Speaking of Halloween left-overs, you can smash up and add in your old jack-o-lanterns into the compost pile, or directly add it into the garden.  (I am thinking that adding fresh pumpkin to my garden sounds like a delish opportunity for my doggie!  So, the compost pile may be my path this year!)

Speaking of compost piles and autumn festivities – I have found 2 great articles about fall leaves.  This first one is an interesting article about the value and Eco-friendliness of leaf blowers.  At the very end of the article, it poses the questions, “What do you think? Can you still call yourself green and use a leaf blower? How will you be gathering your leaves this fall?”  I gathered my leaves using a our electric, cord operated Black and Decker Leaf Hog – it sucks up your leaves like a giant hand held vacuum and then I added the chopped up leaves to my garden for added nutrients, and winter weed suppressor.  What about you?!

The second article is what to do with the leaves that you have collected and gives some nice alternatives that may (or may not) work for you and your yard.  I have used several of the suggestions in this article throughout the years with great success.

And with that, my fellow Thrifty Sisters, may you have a beautiful yard, some amazing compost piles and some spiffy cornucopias on your front door or step this week!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 19 – November 13, 2011 (original issue date)

Greetings Thrifty Sisters!  I hope that you have had a wonderful week and had an opportunity to thank our veterans.  If you missed thanking a veteran, every day can be a day that we thank them, so thank you to all of our veterans for your service.  People like you truly make a difference for the rest of us!

Today I am looking at my calendar and it says that Thanksgiving is in a week from this coming Thursday!  Amazing.  For those of you in the area, the Sioux Empire Brass Society will be holding their annual Holiday Concert on November 20th, 4:pm at Peace Lutheran Church. This concert can take the grinchiest of folks and warm their hearts with holiday cheer.  It is one of my favorite holiday concerts and I hope that you can make it!  I will be present with my new tambourine and triangle, along with a plethora of other percussion sounds.

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, it is time to share this great web site that boasts 14 delicious pumpkin recipes!  I love pumpkin goodies!  (And there are some more pumpkin seed recipes!)

Here is another article that is worth the read!

This is my favorite Tid-Bit from the above article.  It might be handy enough to print this out and keep in your kitchen for future reference!

“At least 28 billion pounds of edible food is wasted each year – more than 100 pounds per person. One of the best ways to reduce your waste this Thanksgiving is to plan ahead for the meal and practicing portion control.

Use Less Stuff created a handy list of approximate per person food and drink portions:

  • Turkey- 1 pound
  • Stuffing- ¼ pound
  • Sweet potato casserole- ¼ pound
  • Green beans- ¼ pound
  • Cranberry relish- 3 tablespoons
  • Pumpkin pie- 1/8 of a 9 inch pie

After the meal, evaluate how many people were present and how much of each dish was consumed. By keeping track each year, you can make a more efficient, less wasteful Thanksgiving meal in the future.”

I am assuming that these people have not seen Lora eat pie… if I am at your table, I like pie, so plan on a much bigger piece for me!

Also listed in the above article are some crafty ideas!  Here are their suggestions:

“Add a little extra elegance to your table with homemade decorations. Most materials can be found in your craft cupboard or backyard. Have the kids chip in with a pre-Thanksgiving craft day. Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Acorn napkin ties
  • Dried leaf place cards
  • Corn or leaf print place mats
  • Pinecone turkeys
  • Painted gourds
  • Festive fall arrangements of pumpkins or corn cobs
  • Make your own cornucopia

If there is a tablecloth or other decorative item you’ve been eying, make sure it’s a purchase you’ll be happy to reuse in the future. Some decorations can even become new family traditions.”

And with that, Thrifty Sisters, may you experience a wonderful pre-Thanksgiving week.  It is my hope that this week’s newsletter helps you get into the spirit of the upcoming holiday.  Remember, each family has Thanksgiving traditions; be sure to enjoy them. Whether it’s hunting, watching football or baking that special pie, take time with your family and friends to enjoy and be thankful for the bounty of blessings that we have received.

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 20 – November 20, 2011 (original issue date)

Greetings Thrifty Sisters!  Are you ready for Thanksgiving?!  It happens to be this week, in case your Thanksgiving count down clock has stopped working!  Did you know that they make such things?!?!  One of my 5th graders at the Lutheran school says that her teacher has one for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Very clever!

Many of you know that I am always on the search for the perfect “new” soap recipe, and I have to give a HUGE thank you to Sue for finding this recipe for making your own hand soap!!!!!  I can’t wait to try this out.  (Although don’t expect a lot of experimenting from me until after the holiday concert season!)

I found this statement, and really feel as if this needs to be shared with each of you.  It is very powerful and simply stated, but is SO true.  What a wonderful reminder.

Holiday Season Kick Off – EcoMom Date: 11/20/2009

The holiday season is supposed to be all about joy, and gratitude, and family and friends coming together in celebration. Right? For most of us, this time of year has also come to mean more work, less sleep, family ugh, shall we call it fireworks, and increased waste (and waists). Why not create real holidays instead of a holidaze. Remember the spirit of the times and keep these helpful tips in mind if you feel yourself getting sucked in: Nothing has to be perfect. Focus on what is right and good. Ask for help and accept that your way isn’t the only way. The simplest choice is the best choice. Find joy in whatever you do and wherever you are.


Amen.  With that amazing thought for the day, my thrifty sisters, may you each be richly blessed and find opportunities to be thankful every day.

Allow me leave you with a little yummy recipe that you may wish to try out this week – Thanks, Tanya for sharing this!  (And Tanya says that the nuts are optional, just in case “one” would not care for nuts in her mousse…)

Pumpkin Mousse Trifle

1 cup sugar

1 cup canned pumpkin

1/3 c. canola oil

2 eggs

1 cup flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt


1 egg white

2 cups coarsely chopped pecans

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 c. packed brown sugar


2 pkg. (8oz. each) cream cheese, softened

1-1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 can (15 oz.) sold-pack pumpkin

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 carton 16 oz frozen whipped topping , thawed, divided

1). In a large bowl, beat the sugar, pumpkin, oil and eggs until well blended.  Combine the flour , baking soda, cinnamon and salt; gradually beat into pumpkin mixture until blended.

2). Transfer to a greased and floured 9″ square baking pan.  Bake at 325 F for 30-35 min. or til a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.  cut cake into 3/4″ cubes.

3).  Meanwhile, whisk egg whites; stir in pecans and sugars.  Transfer to a foil-lined baking sheet, Bake at 350F for 9-13 min. or til puffed, stirring once.  Cool completely.  (Can be prepared in advance and stored in airtight cont.)

4). In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and powdered sugar til smooth.  Add the pumpkin, cinnamon and vanilla.  Fold in 1-1/2 cups whipped topping.

5). In a 3-1/2 qt. trifle bowl or glass serving bowl, layer half of the cake, pumpkin mousse, remaining whipped topping and pecans.  Repeat layers.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hrs.  Yields 14 servings


Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 21 – November 27, 2011 (original issue date)

Greetings to the Thrifty Sisters!  I hope that you each had an opportunity to make this past Thanksgiving a memorable and special event.

I absolutely loved the quote that I shared with you all last week, and this week I thought I would share with you something that my Dad has been doing for years.  He calls it his “Beautiful Mind Board”.  Yes, the name comes directly from the movie, “Beautiful Mind”.

I am sure that we all have these.  I have several scattered throughout the house, myself.  What Dad does is that he saves various notes to himself, quotes, etc.  He then tapes this info to the inside of a cupboard and uses them as reference items, or can reuse the reminder notes.  You know, notes like “Need Milk” – he just takes that note and reposts it on the front of the cupboard, and then when that task is finished the reminder is returned to the collection.

My Beautiful Mind Boards are full of photos, old cards from the past year, quotes, notes to myself, etc.  Again, I am sure that many of us have these types of things, but I thought I might give us suggestions on how to make these attractive and functional parts of the home.

The one that I have in the studio was a purchased item, originally to use in the kitchen, but eventually it’s wall space was taken up by a much needed pantry.

Here are two web sites to give you ideas on how to make your own memo/photo boards.

Another idea is to take an existing item (maybe something with family significance) and modify it to make a photo/memo board.  One year we were helping clean out my husband’s grandpa’s basement and we ran across Granny’s clipboard from when she worked at the lumber company.  It was HUGE!  In addition, it had the lumber company measurements sheet still attached to the board.  I used Liquitex varnish and lacquered the measurements down, added elastic like in the above web site directions, and I had a new memo board for the kitchen to replace the board that found it’s way to the studio.

Here is another web site that is FULL of great ideas to create your own boards – and great ways to incorporate them into your home or office space:–Cool-Bulletin-Boards

All in all, I guess this is a pretty lengthy way to tell you that I plan on “crafting” up the quote that I sent out last week, and placing it somewhere very visible.  I tried to remember it several times throughout the past week, and only came up with 3 of the 5 items.  Very good words to live by!

For those who may have missed the quote, I will send it out again.  To each one of you, may you find somewhere to express and store all of your beautiful mind information!

Holiday Season Kick Off – EcoMom Date: 11/20/2009

The holiday season is supposed to be all about joy, and gratitude, and family and friends coming together in celebration. Right? For most of us, this time of year has also come to mean more work, less sleep, family ugh, shall we call it fireworks, and increased waste (and waists). Why not create real holidays instead of a holidaze. Remember the spirit of the times and keep these helpful tips in mind if you feel yourself getting sucked in: Nothing has to be perfect. Focus on what is right and good. Ask for help and accept that your way isn’t the only way. The simplest choice is the best choice. Find joy in whatever you do and wherever you are.

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 22 – December 4, 2011 (original issue date)

Greetings Thrifty Sisters, and Happy December!  It is hard to believe that we are beginning the last month of 2011. I am still looking for 2010!!!

I have news from the other Thrifty Sister! Welcome back, Karen!

Hi Lora,
I am currently trying to figure out why my 15-year old microwave started on fire. I wondered what the average life spans on microwaves were, when I came across this article. Very handy! It tells you the life span of most everything in your house! It came from this website:

Dear Karen – I heard that you guys had quite an impressive “light display” recently!  This is a GREAT web site!  Thanks for sharing that.  There are some surprising time lines listed there.

After last week’s crafty newsletter, I thought I would bring you something a little less “hot glue gun oriented” for the Holiday Craft Idea Of the Week.  Check out this web site for some great ideas on Christmas plants and decorating ideas.  It takes one a step farther than the traditional poinsettia.

Here is a great double-hitter!  I received this genius tid-bit from Elaine, and then this morning I had this superb recipe idea float through my email.  Read the tip, then the link to the article, and combine the two ideas!

Elaine’s Tid-Bit:

Lunch Box Tip from The Mink Designs: Mix up your favorite omelet and pour into your muffin pan to make an easy morning break snack (About 20 min in the oven). Freeze the extras individually in ziplocks, pop into the microwave to reheat.

Now read this great article:

I have 4 ramekin bowls, but they are used for much more than serving food in.  Maybe I should re think how I am using these bowls after reading this informative article.  My ramekins can go from the freezer to the oven, so I am sure that one could freeze these meals, heat, and serve later.

Speaking of meals that can be made and frozen for later, my friend Madonna was telling me this fall that she makes stuffed peppers, and then freezes them in individual containers.  This gives their on-the-go family an opportunity to have a healthy meal between events.  Madonna – you are SO clever!  We tried that with some of the peppers that I saved from the salsa making extravaganza that I had this fall.  I made a huge crock-pot of stuffed peppers, but there were not many leftovers. In fact, even the leftovers disappeared within about 24 hours.

There you have it, Thrifty Sisters! We now have a resource to help us figure out the life expectancy on our household items, a plant orientated way to decorate for the holidays, and some great meal ideas!  That should get us through the upcoming week, keeping us thrifty and healthy!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 23 – December 11, 2011 (original issue date)

Greetings Thrifty Sisters! ‘Tis the Season for feeling overwhelmed… fa la la la la…. Is the amazing task load of this holiday season starting to cloud the real meaning of the season, and jolly time with family? I know that there are points over the past week where I thought that between musicals, concerts and rehearsals I was not going to make it to the weekend!  But, as usual, the weekend has come, and our family is still jamming in one activity after another. I am starting to wonder if we are going to get our tree up this week?!

Even though time is “short” around my home, I have always enjoyed a good candle or warming oils in a burner.  That is as easy as lighting a candle.  No time involved, just don’t leave it burning unattended! I have always enjoyed the scents of the garden and fresh herbs, but it wasn’t until I was in college that I learned about aromatherapy.  For those that are into the aromatherapy properties of essential oils, here is a great article about scents for the holiday season.  Maybe this will give some of you a holiday-scented idea for your cleaning products!

If you are lucky, and the holiday crazies are starting to wind down, here is a great web site for pinecone decorating ideas.  These are beautiful!  The photos are truly amazing and very inspiring!

Someone recently asked me for ideas on making some recycled gifts and I sent them to this web site.  This is such a clever idea.  I posted this in April of 2009, but it is worth a revisit.  Especially with the rise of using reusable bags.  This site has direction for lunch totes, but I think you could go bigger, and get creative with the handles.  I have seen some with a nylon strap handles that have been sewn onto the bag.

And with that Thrifty Sisters, may you have a joyous and wonderful week!  I hope that you will have an opportunity be inspired by the pine cone ideas, and uplift the spirits of everyone in your home with holiday scents!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 24 – December 18, 2011 (original issue date)

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters! Is everyone ready for Christmas?!  In our home we have managed to put the tree up, light it, and string up these super cute button strands.  That only took us 3 nights, starting way past all of our bed times.  I guess lights and buttons will be the theme this year.  Simple is best, right?!?

And how is everyone doing on their gift wrapping?  Below is a great reminder on how to reuse items for wrapping or some fresh ideas on new wraps!  I love reusing wrapping items!  Actually, wrapping gifts is one of my favorite parts of giving presents.

And of course, how could I leave my sisters this week without a new recipe to try?!  Check out this recipe ( – I had no idea that these chocolate chip cookies could be helpful for my thyroid!  (I can hear the angels singing right now!)

Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies are so decadent that you won’t know they are full of heart-healthy and thyroid-balancing coconut oil instead of the usual butter or hydrogenated fats like margarine.  The medium-chain triglycerides, a type of healthy fat, helps to reset the metabolic rate of the thyroid gland (resulting in weight loss for people who are overweight due to a sluggish thyroid), increases fat burning, reduces the risk of atherosclerosis, helps prevent viral, bacterial, and fungal infections, supports healthy immune system function, helps prevent osteoporosis, is excellent for diabetes, nourishes the skin, and much more.  Plus, you’ll enjoy the antioxidant rich chocolate chips, particularly if you choose organic, dark chocolate chips.  While these cookies contain many health benefits, they should still be enjoyed in moderation.  Happy holidays!

2/3 cup coconut oil
¾ cup organic, raw sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract
2-1/4 cups whole kamut or spelt flour
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking soda
½ teaspoon Celtic sea salt or other type of unrefined sea salt
2 cups organic chocolate chips (preferably dark chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all ingredients except chocolate chips in a mixer or food processor until thoroughly blended.  Add the chocolate chips and mix by hand.  Place by medium-sized spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet.  Bake for 20-25 minutes depending on cookie size (until golden).  NOTE:  The cookies will spread out so leave enough space on the cookie sheet to allow for expansion.

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 25 – January 1, 2012 (original issue date)

Happy New Years to all of the Thrifty Sisters!  I hope that each of you had a wonderful time with family and friends and are looking forward to 2012.

I am sure that many of you are in the process of returning your Christmas decorations to their annual storage location.  Remember that you can reuse ribbons and bows and even paper and tissue paper! I have 2 tubs of wrapping goodies – one for Christmas and another for other wrapping needs.  I have found that if I separate the two wrapping types I can find things a lot easier and my tubs stay tidier and more organized.

While returning your decorations to their storage locations this is also a great time to sort through your older decorations.  Perhaps you have a box of bulbs that you have not used in years or a strand of lights that do not work.  This is a great time to purge your decoration stash and keep your boxes organized.  Labeling and sorting now will be the key to happy decorating next year!

And speaking of putting away decorations, don’t forget that there are many options to recycle your once live tree.  Here is a pleasant article about doing just that:

Recently, a reader asked about the soup in a cup recipes that I had mentioned that I would start posting.  Last year, one of my students gave me one of those “gift in a jar”, and it was a dry soup mix that you could add to a thermos and have soup on the go. It was amazing, and very easy.  Here are a couple of recipes that would work on that same principle. It would be helpful to make up enough to fill a canning jar so you could have it handy whenever you needed to make a cup of soup.  I used about a ½ a cup of mix to about a cup of water.

Vegetable Rice Soup in a Cup
1 1/2 T. Lipton Recipe Secrets Vegetable flavor**
3 T. Uncle Ben’s instant rice
1 tsp. chicken bouillon granules
1/4 tsp. onion powder

Empty soup mix into a plain coffee cup (no metallic decorations)
Use a standard cup that holds 1 1/2 cup liquid.
Add 1 cup water. Stir well.
Microwave on High 1 1/2 min. Stir. Microwave additional 30 sec.
Stir. Cover and let stand 5 minutes. Enjoy!

Potato Soup in a Cup
1 1/2 cup Hungry Jack instant potato flakes
1 cup powdered coffee creamer
1/2 of a 1 oz. pkt. chicken gravy mix
1 Tb. dried parsley flakes
2 Tb. grated Parmesan (Kraft, in the green can)
1 tsp. salt free seasoning blend ( like Mrs. Dash, or Spike)
1/2 tsp. dried minced onion
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
Mix all ingredients well with a whisk.
Place 1/2 cup + 1 Tb. mix into small jars or baggies. Makes
enough for 5 individual soup mixes.
Empty soup into a plain coffee cup (no metallic decoration)
Use a standard cup that holds 1 1/2 cup liquid.
Add 1 scant cup water; Stir very well

And with that, Thrifty Sisters, may you enjoy your new soup recipes as you head back to work this week, and don’t forget all of the recycling and sorting fun that can be had as you put away your Christmas Glitz!  Happy new Years.

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 26 – January 8, 2012 (original issue date)

Greetings and happy January, Thrifty Sisters!  I hope that you are enjoying the amazing winter weather (or lack of) here in the Great Plains!  I am really looking forward to taking down my Christmas lights and not having to dig the power supply out of a 3 foot snow bank.

I have been receiving some great tips from readers, so I thought that this issue would be dedicated to sharing the collective wealth of knowledge that has been shared with me!

This tip is from Johnny and how to hem up your jeans.  Pretty clever, I must admit!

“I found the directions for hemming pants again!!!! 🙂 – I’m short so I’m forever ruining hems! :)”

And here is a share from Sue about “75 Extraordinary Uses for Baking Soda”:

In addition, for those of you who enjoy reading blogs, here is a directory for the best green blogs out there. (Again, thanks, Johnny!)

And if you enjoyed the idea of individual soup servings, here is another recipe:

Creamy Cheese Soup in a Cup
!/2 of a 1.5 oz pkt. Knorr Four Cheese Sauce Mix
1 1/2 tsp chicken bouillon granules
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 of a pkg Lipton Recipe Secrets Vegetable flavor **
2 Tb. dried parsley flakes
1 1/2 cup powdered coffee creamer
2 Tb. cornstarch
Mix all ingredients. Place a scant 1/2 cup mix into small jars
or baggies. This will make 5 individual soup mix pkts.
Empty soup mix into a plain coffee cup ( no metallic decoration)
Use a standard cup that will hold 1 1/2 cups liquid.
Add 1 cup water, stir very well.
Microwave on High 1 1/2 min.
Stir; cover and let stand 3 minutes. Enjoy!

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, have an amazing week!  Stay warm, enjoy the wonders of baking soda and happy hemming!!!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 27 – January 15, 2012 (original issue date)

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters! I hope that this issue finds you well, happy, and enjoying life to its fullest!

I was just sending a “retro” copy of the Thrifty Sister to be posted on the Prairie Newsletter web site and I ran across something that may be worth sharing.  Let’s take a walk down memory lane as we revisit the TS from July, 2009.

Re-posted from Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 2, Issue 2 – July 3, 2009:

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 that first:

The above are 2 of the links that I decided to repost from the 2009 issue, and below are some other resources to help stop unwanted mail:

After writing about junk mail in 2009, I signed up for one of the free services.  I still get junk mail, but certainly not in the same volume as I once did.  And I still allow my mail to pile up through the week on the kitchen counter, but the pile is much smaller.  Now, to figure out how to “opt out” of having bills sent to the house…

Recently, I was reading my Recycle Bank newsletter (a service from our garbage company) and it was promoting a new Bio-PE plastic that companies, such as Pantene are using.  It was a very interesting and short article/advertisement, which I am going to repost.  I am so excited that our researchers are looking into less dependency on fossil fuels!

“With Pantene® Nature Fusion, you can make a healthy choice for your hair and the planet. Pantene starts with sugarcane, grown on abandoned pasture land and does not result in any deforestation. The sugarcane is then processed into Bio-PE, a plastic that’s chemically identical to petroleum-based plastic. The plastic can be recycled in traditional recycling plants, alongside petroleum-based plastic. Even the facilities that produce the sugarcane-derived plastic are doing their part by using renewable energy to produce the plastic and returning the excess energy back to the grid.

Find out more:

So what does everyone think of the soup in a cup recipes?  I have a secret – I have a soup in a cup recipe that I have been holding out on.  LOL – actually, it is a recipe that I found, and I wanted to try it out before posting it.  I can see that some of these recipes are going to need some tweaking, so if you have made a previous recipe, and are working on how to make it bigger, better, or more whatever, please share your findings with the rest of us!

Here is my “tried and work in progress” recipe, complete with my notations.

Cup of Vegetable Soup

1/3 cup vegetable flakes (tomatoes, celery, onion, zucchini, onion, peas, broccoli and carrots, made by putting dried vegetables in a blender until pea-sized)
1 tablespoon cracked wheat (bulgar)
1 tablespoon pasta, broken up
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon dried sweet basil
pinch garlic powder
pinch onion powder
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups stock

Place dried ingredients in a thermos. Pour boiling stock over dry ingredients.

Lora’s Comments:

Vegetable flakes.  Hmmm…. well that proved to be a challenge to find.  If one has a food dehydrator, then you are in luck!  For the rest of us, I have done the footwork.  I found some freeze dried veggies in the snack department of Pomegranate Market (I would imagine that the co-op would have these too – I think it was the Crunchies brand).  The bag contained corn, peas, tomatoes flakes, etc.  Pomegranate Market also carried some dried items in the bulk shopping area, and can order more if the need is there.

I did not add the wheat, and instead of pasta I added a 1/3 cup of rice.  When adding the spices, I sort of followed the above recipe, but added things like onion flakes, oregano, etc.  Basically, I dug through the spices and dumped in what sounded good.  I also wanted to note that I filled a large canning jar, so you are going to need to increase the recipe by about x4 to fill a large jar. I use about a 1/3 cup of mix to about a cup of chicken broth.  I am going to try to add granulated bouillon to the mix, so I can just add water.

One thing to note is that if you choose to add rice, maybe instant rice would work better.  I make my soup with boiling broth in the morning, add it to my thermos, and by lunchtime it has steamed all morning.  Regular rice is NOT soft at lunchtime.  Besides the crunchy rice, this has a great flavor and I could make this a lunch staple during the winter months, very easily.

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, I hope that you have a wonderful week opting out of your junk mail, enjoying cleaner plastics and tweaking those soup in a cup recipes!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 28 – January 22, 2012 (original issue date)

Greetings Thrifty Sisters! I hope that everyone is enjoying January.  On the plus side, we have passed the mid point of January, and we are closer to March.  According to my Dad, March 1 is spring.

Speaking of spring – it is never too early to start thinking about garden goodies.  Here is a super cute idea for a gate clasp.  This idea is charming enough that it may inspire me to create a fence around my veggie garden so I can have this!

Apparently, I have acquired a LOT of websites that I have been meaning to share with you.  Here is another web site that uncovers 10 not-so-green home trends.

Tomato scrubs, anyone?  This video is how to make a tomato sugar scrub.  Keep posted for more beauty products from the produce isle next week!

It has been a while since I have touted the Joys of Vinegar!  This web site was sent to me (maybe from Dany?) a long time ago, but it is worth reviewing and refreshing your uses for vinegar.

Looking for a new scrumptious dessert or treat option?  Check out this web page for a pear walnut bundt cake – it sounds divine!

Wow, what a week we are going to have – we will all have glowing healthy skin, a new garden gate clasp, new cleaning ideas and a dessert to top of a fun filled day!  And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, have a great week!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 28 – February 5, 2012 (original issue date)

Greetings and Happy February to all of the Thrifty Sisters!  Apparently, last week must have slipped away from me.  We had the joy and blessing of celebrating the baptism of our newest nephew last Sunday.

As promised two weeks ago, I have another recipe for beauty items that cam be found at the grocery store.  If you enjoy pampering your skin with facial masks, stop spending the big bucks at your local box store and rev up your home blender for this little gem.

Cucumber Almond Face Mask:

Cucumber soothes the skin while the natural oils in the almonds replenish.

Peel and de-seed half of a cucumber and toss it into the blender, processing until it’s smooth.

Transfer to a small bowl.

Put a small handful of almonds into the blender, and puree until these are smooth. You’re essentially making almond butter, and if you want to save some time you can use 2 tablespoons of almond butter instead of blending up your own.

Transfer the almond butter to the bowl, and mix with the cucumber until it’s well combined.

Smooth the mask onto your face, put on some soothing music, and relax for around 10 minutes.

Use a washcloth soaked in warm water to gently remove the mask.

Still looking for more Joys of Vinegar tips?  Try these out:

Make sure to use white distilled vinegar – balsamic and red wine varieties will stain.

All-purpose countertop and mildew cleaner: Mix vinegar and water 1:1 in a spray bottle.

Fabric softener: Add 1/2 cup to the rinse cycle.

Toilet bowl cleaner: Use pure vinegar to get rid of rings.

Window cleaner: Mix vinegar and water 1:4 in a spray bottle.

Weed killer: Use higher concentrations of vinegar (most household vinegar is 5%, so go for 10% or higher, available at hardware stores). – I just use regular vinegar and it works great!  Just don’t spray it on anything you want to keep, as it will kill anything in its path.  If it didn’t work the first time, try a second.  Some of those weeds are tough!

Recently, the Vol 2 Thrifty Sisters have started to appear on the Prairie Newsletter web site (go ahead and check them out! and the latest retro Thrifty Sister that was posted contained information about homemade laundry detergents.

I have to admit that it took me some time to collect and find all of the ingredients, but once I had them, I was completely amazed at how easy and efficient this laundry soap has been. Of course, I still only trust my concert blacks to Wool Lite but for the rest of our grimy clothes, this has worked miracles on even old, ground in stains.  Moreover, a little goes a long way!  I know that this move has proven to be thrifty and safer for all involved. Yes, there is still a small bottle of detergent floating around in the laundry room, but that is for the infrequent times when I have completely run out of my homemade stash and there is no getting around the fact that someone needs clean underwear for the next day.

Here is the recipe that I have been using for almost a year and half now, and I included my notes on what I use and where I buy it at.

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.

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

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

My friend Tanya and I have enjoyed swapping notes about our homemade laundry soaps, and hopefully she will chime in with some of her expertise for next week. We have used Fels Naptha and Zote bar soaps. It is my understanding that you can grate about any bar of soap and use it in this recipe.  Fels Naptha can be purchased at places like Ace Hardware and HyVee (I just saw this a couple of weeks ago in HyVee!)  The washing soda I have only found at Ace Hardware, but the borax can be found sometimes at Target, HyVee and Ace Hardware.

I use my food processor to grate the bar soap and I usually do about 3 or 4 bars at a time and store that in glass canning jars (wide mouthed ones work great!)  This will last me about 3 months.  I then mix the washing soda and borax in a large canning jar (one of the old blue ones, in fact!).  This jar holds about 4 cups of the powder mix.  I have a small 2 cup jar that gets filled about once a week.  I dump in 1 cup of the powder and one cup of the soap flakes, shake to mix and I am ready for laundry!  Remember, about 2 tablespoons per load – less for a small load, and more for a dirty load.

I usually purchase new laundry supplies about every 3 or 4 months, but that sure beats having to buy the big plastic containers about every 3-4 weeks. I know that Tanya and I had figured out what the saving where at one point, but I can’t remember what that boiled down to now.

And with that my fellow Thrifty Sisters, have a great week pampering yourself with the new cucumber and almond mask, reviving your joys with vinegar new years resolutions and working on new laundry soaps! I would love to hear what you use if you make your own laundry soaps, or other household cleaning products.   Keep it thrifty and fun, Sisters!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 29 – February 12, 2012 (original issue date)

Greetings Thrifty Sisters! I hope that this week finds everyone in wonderful spirits!

Here is another recipe for beauty items that can be found at the grocery store:

Homemade Moisturizer

While it might seem a bit greasy to rub oil directly onto your skin, extra virgin olive oil is excellent for replenishing your skin without any harsh chemicals. Like the oatmeal mask, you can combine your olive oil with your favorite essential oil.

In a 1-ounce dropper bottle, put 5-10 drops of essential oil (optional). Fill the bottle the rest of the way with extra virgin olive oil, and shake well to combine. To moisturize your face, put just a few drops on the skin and massage in well. For hands, knees, and elbows, you can apply more liberally. Start with a few drops and add more oil until your skin begins to soften.

Wow!  What s great response from folks about the homemade laundry detergents this last week!  The biggest question was if one could use homemade laundry soaps in a high efficiency washer.  The answer appears to be yes.  Joan sent this link to share – and it is a neat web site, too!

Thank you to Tanya for sharing some laundry info, as well:

“I found this when looking for some interesting laundry soap ideas. The link provides different recipes depending on hard or soft water. I have also found that some people add bluing or oxygen bleach (oxyclean) to make whites brighter. Also, according to various websites, homemade laundry detergent is about 3 to 7 cents per large load depending on the recipe one uses. Some even say it is as little as a penny per large load. The other attachment is some more tips and recipes I found including a recipe to add OxyClean to the mix. I like the idea of having one batch of “bleach” detergent and one without. I think I’ll try the recipe that uses both zote and fels and see what happens. Now that I found zote in the dollar store, it will make it easier to use. I’m also going to use the ratio for hard water. I have seen some recipes add water softener in addition to the borax, soap, and washing soda. I don’t think I need it since our water is really not that hard.”

And in case you have not had your fill on homemade laundry soaps, check out this web site – it also contains more info about HE washing machines, as well as a cost breakdown on laundry soaps – pretty interesting!

Last fall, I shared with you that my friend Madonna prepares stuffed green peppers and individually freezes them for quick, healthy meals.  I had mentioned that I had prepared a crockpot full of stuffed peppers, but there were no leftovers.  Recently someone asked about this “magical pepper recipe” as they were looking for some new meal ideas.  LOL!  I can’t believe that I forgot to send this out!  Really, sisters, I was not holding out on an awesome super secret meal idea – well, deliberately, anyways!  So here you go:

Southwestern Stuffed Peppers

Cook Time 4 to 6 hours, Prep Time 15 minutes, YIELD Makes 4 servings

4 green bell peppers

1 can (about 15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded pepper-jack cheese

¾ cup medium salsa

½ cup frozen corn

½ cup chopped green onions

1/3 cup uncooked long-grain converted white rice

1 teaspoon chili powder

½ teaspoon ground cumin

Sour cream


Slow Cooker Directions

  1. Cut thin slice off top of each bell pepper. Carefully remove seeds, leaving pepper whole.
  2. Combine beans, cheese, salsa, corn, onions, rice, chili powder and cumin in medium bowl. Spoon filling evenly into each pepper. Place peppers in slow cooker. Cover; cook on LOW 4 to 6 hours. Serve with sour cream.

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, may you have a wonderful, thrifty week full of great homemade moisturizers, new laundry ideas, and stuffed peppers for dinner this week.

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 30 – February 19, 2012 (original issue date)

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters! We have officially passed the mid point in February, making us closer to spring!  Ah, happy thoughts… birds chirping, sunny days, playing in the gardens, sun dresses and flip flops… I am almost giddy with excitement!

With the tantalizing thought of spring (and summer!), one wants to make sure that they are taking care of their skin year round.  Since we have moisturized and masked and scrubbed, I have yet another suggestion of “beauty items that can be found at the grocery store”.

I love salt and sugar scrubs, but once I learned how easy and inexpensive they are to make at home, I almost cringe when I see people buy these at stores.  There are literally thousands of scrub recipes on line, but here is a basic recipe.

Homemade Sugar Scrub

Sugar and salt scrubs are excellent for exfoliating and sloughing away dead skin cells on problem areas like elbows, knees, and heels. All that you need to make your own are:

A clean, glass jar for storage, large-grain sugar or sea salt, Organic olive oil or coconut oil (or basically any oil – except vegetable oil – that is a no-no!!)

Combine two parts sugar and one part oil to fill the jar, stir, and you’re ready to scrub! If you want some more tips on making this scrub (and more recipes) and creative ways to customize your containers, you check out:

Now that we have taken care of our skin, are you wondering about that awful sound your car is making?  When I was sending the “retro” copies of the Thrifty Sister to The Prairie News, I ran across this great list of car sounds and what they mean.  If you need to do a sound diagnostic test, check out this previous Thrifty Sister:

Recently, I have noticed that there is a growing trend in finding our roots, saving money and being thrifty (wow, hard to believe that in 2008 my sisters and I were so trendy when this newsletter started out).  I have since run across two sites that are worth mentioning.  One is a article about how to think like Grandma.  The jist of the article is listed below, with the actual link, if you would like to read it for yourself:

1. Plant a vegetable garden.

2. Don’t spend money to “entertain” yourself.

3. Rethink the meaning of “vacation.”

4. Do it yourself.

5. Make it yourself.

The other web site is fantastic and very enjoyable, with some very clever ideas:

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, may you have glowing skin that is eagerly waiting for spring delights, a car that runs well and some savvy Grandma tips to keep us rolling into next week!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 31 – March 4, 2012 (original issue date)

Greetings Thrifty Sisters!  Happy March!  According to my Dad, spring starts on the first day of March – no matter what the calendar has to say about the spring equinox. I think that mentally, this is what has always gotten my dad past the winter blues and that there was hope that spring was on its way.  Although on March 1, I had a message from dad that he was wishing me a Happy Summer.

I have some of the neatest emails to share with you.  The first is from the other Thrifty Sister, and the second from Johnny.  Both have great pieces of advice and my sister was able to share some fond recollections.  Good times.

From Karen: “I too am thinking about spring. I heard some birds the other day and the sound seemed foreign to me ears. Today’s thrifty move is when I bought a pair of clearance wedge sandals for $8 at Payless today-yeaaa! Today on my way home from grocery shopping, I heard a Pearl Jam song and thought of your Pearl Jam t-shirt. And then I began to think about your flannel shirts tied around your waist and the trend you started called grunge.”

From Lora:  Ah, Karen… happy days when you can buy the upcoming season shoes on a clearance rack!  I am patiently waiting to sport some new sandals that I picked up last fall. I see that flannels are coming back into fashion and when JJ and I were in Hot Topic a while ago, I saw that exact same Pearl Jam shirt.  Ah, I loved that shirt, and all of the memories made in it.

From Johnny: “On the thrifty side of life, I have purchased two Shark Steam Mops. I discovered  and my credit card has regretted it, but I did good at Christmas, so I don’t feel too bad!  Although, for myself I’ve purchased the floor cleaning shark and the hand held steamer for counters, etc.  So far the floors are doing well with it when I get a chance to use it… you do have to plan ahead a little.  I have the water filter pitcher already to use filtered water for it but I forget to take it out of the fridge before I want to mop!  LOL And it takes quite a few minutes more to get to steam level with COLD water! The counter top one works well too 🙂  And things feel so CLEAN after I use them. Now I just need to find time and energy to use them more often.  If James gets to the floors first he still believes in the pine sol and mop method although he agrees that the steam cleaned floor “feels” clean.  He just doesn’t want to complicate his life with with measuring out water and figuring out where to put it I guess!  Either way , I highly recommend it!  I’ve seen them go by on the sale website three times since I bought mine so it’s worth staking out.

I’ve also set a challenge for myself this year, that all gifts must be handmade or gifts of time (unless you find a clearance sale with items 50% off or more) …. I had to adapt my rule when I couldn’t pass up an 85% off sale for teens and tweens clothes and jewelry when three of the birthdays I have are within three months of each other and I’m still super strapped for craft time, with the two little ones running about.  It’s now a flexible rule for the year, but I still see it as my way of being thrifty. I want to teach the kids not to buy into commercialism and contribute to the “must have trendy item xyz” mentality that I hate seeing with kids. I also want to stress that handmade with love has more value. And with so many people on the gift list it will literally bankrupt me if I go shopping every time there’s a gifting occasion!!!! So, handmade it is!

Which is easier unfortunately with girls than boys, but I’m always watching for a crafty project for boys. Anyone want to join me in the handmade challenge????  If you can’t make homemade buy homemade!

For those interested, I made a “handmade with love group” on facebook to share ideas or finds and started a facebook “handmade with love” board on my Pinterest.  Pretty much if I plan to make it someday it’s in my crafty board and if it’s just an awesome project that I think someone would like to make for a gift it goes on the handmade board.

I’ve also been saving all dryer lint in egg cartons all winter and plan to melt some paraffin wax (when I get brave) over them to make fire starters or camp fire starters to upcycle the dryer lint.

The Olive Oil…. you mentioned it was excellent for the skin!  I’d like to add in, when one of the kids was little they had a bout with cradle cap, and the doctor mentioned to use Olive Oil instead of baby oil as it had smaller molecules (I think that’s what it was) and would be able to break down and absorb easier than baby oil in the skin to moisturize.  So that is a definite plus for Olive Oil with your homemade moisturizer!

For a thrifty cooking idea along the lines of your “think like grandma” section… I want to say CHICKEN 🙂  I had no idea it was so easy to make chicken broth!!! I spent a fortune keeping stocked up on canned broth and treated it like gold until I got the Rachel Ray cooking magazine in the mail that changed my life…well, life in my kitchen! You buy the thighs and drumsticks when they go on sale, stock up on them, and put them in the oven with some seasonings for an hour to roast them.  (You get lovely smells in the kitchen) Then cool them a bit, pull the skin and bones out, shred the meat and package it and freeze it for tossing in meals later (fajitas, quesadillas, soups, etc).  Save all the bones and half of the skin, toss it in a stock pot with onions, carrots, celery, garlic and black peppercorns (I think that was all of it) and water and bring to a boil, allowing it to simmer for a few hours… you get delish smelling house all afternoon and then LOTS of chicken stock!  I save up the large salsa containers (I know, the garden died in a hailstorm so no homemade salsa this year) and fill them up and store in the freezer.  I tried the whole ice cube tray method and I’m just not that coordinated and burned my foot so that isn’t happening again.

I also found cilantro on sale and chopped it up and put it in the ice cube trays with some water and froze them and then vacuum sealed them for days when I make a big stew – I am looking forward to testing the results of that one!

I think that’s my thrifty adventures, I better cut it off and get to work!”

Johnny, I love your email – And with that my Thrifty Sisters, enjoy shoe shopping at the clearance racks, pass along warm fuzzy loving memories to one another, and take Johnny’s advice – she is all over this Thrifty Living idea!  Hugs and “happy summer” to you all!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 32 – March 11, 2012 (original issue date)

Greetings Thrifty Sisters – don’t forget to “spring” your clocks forward today! Who wanted that extra hour of sleep anyway?!

Oh boy, St. Patty’s day is right around the corner!  In true holiday fashion, Martha Stewart (I love Martha) has some great St. Pat’s advice for cooking and crafting – ENJOY!  (for those of you on Pinterest, this was my first share) Martha has 30 Irish themed recipes and 11 crafts!!

So I am curious if others have the steam cleaner mops?  I have been eyeballing one of those for years now and am curious what others think of them.  I have not heard one bad thing about them yet.  Hey Johnny, last week you mentioned that letting the cold water warm up was rather time consuming.  Have you thought about filtering a gallon of water (great way to repurpose an old milk jug!) and letting it sit out somewhere (maybe in a closet or the back of some cabinet).  Then you have water when you need it, and it is room temp!

I also really liked Johnny’s idea about making your own campfire starters.  For those that are interested, here is some info:

And what about lemons?  This article combines thrifty cleaning ideas, new recipes and beauty items in one read.

22 Uses for Lemon Peels

by Melissa Breyer, July 25, 2011

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. But what to do with all those lemon peels? Don’t toss them; put them to work.  Lemon juice is about 5 to 6 percent citric acid and has a pH level of between 2 and 3. This low pH acidity makes lemon juice a great ally in breaking down rust and mineral stains, but gentle enough to not dull finishes. There is generally sufficient juice left in used lemon halves to tackle small tasks, and it all comes with its own applicator (the rind itself). Plus, the oil in the peel is perfect for clever culinary applications, and not bad in the beauty department either. Here’s what you can do:

Around the House

1. Clean greasy messes
Greasy pans? Splattered stove tops? Messy counters? If your kitchen has been the victim of some sloppy sautéing, try using lemon halves before bringing out possibly toxic chemical cleaners. Sprinkle some salt (for abrasion) on a juiced lemon half and rub on the greasy areas, wipe up with a towel. (Be careful using lemon on marble counter tops, or any other surface which may be sensitive to acid).

2. Clean your tea kettle or coffee pot
For mineral deposit build up in your tea kettle, fill the kettle with water, add a handful of thin slices of lemon peel and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and let sit for an hour, drain, and rinse well. For coffee pots, add ice, salt and lemon rinds to the empty pot; swish and swirl for a minute or two, dump, and rinse. Hello, sparkly!

3. Clean your microwave
All it takes is one exploding bowl of food to render the interior of your microwave officially gunked, sometimes gunked with cement-like properties. Rather than using strong chemical cleaners, try this: Add lemon rinds to a microwave-safe bowl filled halfway with water. Cook on high for 5 minutes, allowing the water to boil and the steam to condense on the walls and tops of the oven. Carefully remove the hot bowl and wipe away the mess with a towel.

4. Deodorize the garbage disposal
Use lemon peels to deodorize the garbage disposal (and make your kitchen smell awesome at the same time). It is a great way to finally dispose of spent lemon peels after you have used them for any of these applications.

5. Polish chrome
Mineral deposits on chrome faucets and other tarnished chrome make haste in the presence of lemon–rub with a squeezed lemon half, rinse, and lightly buff with a soft cloth.

6. Polish copper
A halved lemon dipped in salt or baking powder can also be used to brighten copper cookware, as well as brass, chrome, or stainless steel. Dip a juiced lemon half in salt (you also use baking soda or cream of tartar for the salt) and rub on the affected area. Let it stay on for 5 minutes. Then rinse in warm water and polish dry.

7. Clean a stainless steel sink
Use the same method described to polish chrome, applied to any stainless sink.

8. Keep insects out
Many pests abhor the acid in lemon. You can chop of the peels and place them along thresholds, windowsills, and near any cracks or holes where ants or pests may be entering.

9. Make a scented humidifier
If your home suffers from dry heat in the winter, you can put lemon peels in a pot of water and simmer on the lowest stove-top setting to humidify and scent the air.

10. Refresh cutting boards
Because of lemon’s low pH, it has antibacterial properties that make is a good choice for refreshing cutting boards. After proper disinfecting give the surface a rub with a halved lemon, let sit for a few minutes, and rinse.

To eat

11. Keep brown sugar soft
If your brown sugar most often turns into brick sugar, try adding some lemon peel (with traces of pulp and pith removed) to help keep it moist and easy to use. (For all recipes using lemon peel, try to use organic lemons–and scrub the peel well to remove any residues and wax.)

12. Make zest
Zest is the best! Zest is simply grated peel, and is the epitome of lemon essence–it can be used fresh, dried, or frozen. If you don’t have an official zester, you can use the smallest size of a box grater. (If you know you will be using lemons for zest, it is easier to grate the zest from the lemon before juicing them.) To dry zest, spread it on a towel and leave out until dried, then store in a jar. To freeze, use a freezer-safe container. Use zest in salads, marinades, baked goods, grain dishes, etc.

13. Make Vegan Lemon Biscotti
Once you’ve made some zest, make these Vegan Lemon Biscotti cookies. De-li-cious!

14. Make twists
Strips of peel, aka twists, are good in cocktails, sparkling water, and tap water. Use a vegetable peeler to make long strips, or use a knife and cut the peel into long strips, cutting away the white pith which is bitter. These can also be frozen in a freezer-safe container or bag.

15. Make lemon extract powder
Make zest or twists (above) making sure to remove any of the white (bitter) pith–and dry the strips skin-side down on a plate until they’re dried, about 3 or 4 days.  Put in a blender (or spice grinder) and pulverize into a powder. Use the powdered peel in place of extract or zest in recipes.

16. Make Lemon Sugar
You can make lemon extract powder (see above) and add it to sugar, or you can use fresh twists, put them in a jar with sugar and let the peel’s oil infuse the sugar.

17. Make Lemon Pepper
Mix lemon extract powder (see above) with freshly cracked pepper.

18. Make candied lemon peel
Orange or grapefruit peel can be candied too.  Yum. Candied peels are pretty easy to make, and can be eaten plain, or dipped in melted chocolate, used in cake, cookie, candy, or bread recipes.

For Beauty

19. Lighten age spots
Many folk remedies suggest using lemon peel to help lighten age spots–apply a small piece to the affected area and leave on for an hour.

20. Soften dry elbows
Use a half lemon sprinkled with baking soda on elbows, just place your elbow in the lemon and twist the lemon (like you are juicing it) for several minutes. Rinse and dry.

21. Use on your skin
Lemon peels can be very lightly rubbed on your face for a nice skin tonic, then rinse. (And be careful around your eyes.)

22. Make a sugar scrub
Mix 1/2 a cup of sugar with finely chopped lemon peel and enough olive oil to make a paste. Wet your body in the shower, turn off the water and massage sugar mix all over your skin, rinse, be soft!

And with that my Thrifty Sisters, Happy St. Patty’s Day, enjoy day dreaming about upcoming BBQ’s and summer camp fires, and have fun with your lemons!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 33 – March 18, 2012 (original issue date)

Greetings Thrifty Sisters!  I hope that everyone had a great time being at least a “little” Irish yesterday!  It was amazing weather in our part of the country and I think that we hit record numbers for the local parade!

I am always looking for great home made type of cleaners, and the uses of Hydrogen Peroxide keep popping up.  Johnny sent me this great list of Peroxide uses, and with Spring-cleaning right around the corner, I figured that this was very timely!

Hydrogen peroxide can act as a substitute for bleach in virtually every way.  Where you used bleach, use peroxide instead… and even far beyond.

It should always be diluted down to a 3% solution but (fortunately!) this is how it is commonly sold in your local drugstore or market, so you don’t need to worry about mixing your own concoction!

Some of the best uses for hydrogen peroxide?… just take a look:

  • Disinfectant – for cleaning toilet bowls, floors, showers, tubs, tile… your bathroom is its disinfecting playground!
  • Dishwasher – add a few drops to your dishwasher detergent for extra sterilization
  • Food cleaner & natural preservative – add a few teaspoons to a large bowl of cold water. Wash and rinse your vegetables and fruits thoroughly to clean them and prolong their freshness
  • Laundry – simply use in place of the bleach or use as a stain remover (but be sure to blot & rinse immediately to avoid any potential discoloration)
  • Oral hygiene – use it to clean your toothbrush, or a teeth whitener (when combined with baking soda, in small quantities, to make a paste!)
  • Sanitizer – put in a sprayer bottle to sterilize and disinfect counter tops, cutting boards, stove tops, sinks, the refrigerator and even coffee pots, blenders and food processors
  • Toy cleaner – combine one part peroxide to ten parts water and soak water-tolerable toys, then thoroughly rinse and dry. (This is especially helpful after a bout of illness in the house!)
  • Window cleaner – add a half cup to four cups of water and create a streak-free window cleaner

Now that you have some exciting ideas of how to clean up the inside, here is a great trick to use outside to rid bunny rabbits from your precious tulips!  Sue sent this tip to me and it works!  She takes a bar of soap (hello dollar store) and wanders around with the bar of soap and potato peeler (she uses Irish Spring, I do believe).  The only thing you need to do is reapply after it rains.  Sue says that only critters that she has seen are the neighbor’s cats staring at her through the window.

And since we are on the outdoors topics, Sue sent a very creative way to plant up your spring seeds and recycle at the same time… Besides, how many of us haven’t thought of better ways to reuse all of those cardboard insides to toilet paper and paper towel rolls?!?! Genius, I tell you!

Happy Spring Cleaning and enjoy your moments to daydream about the upcoming garden delights!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 34 – March 25, 2012 (original issue date)

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters!

With spring in the air, the talk of the upcoming farmer’s market season is starting.  Remember to buy locally and support your local farmers!  Not only is your food fresher and traveled less, but you are supporting your local scene.  In fact, consider supporting all of your local “scenes”.  Recently, my husband and I attended the RHS production of “Tom Sawyer”.  For $5 per ticket, you can’t go wrong, and the talent that our local stages can host is absolutely stunning.  (In addition, it was fun to watch this production even though our son was not in it!  In fact, I learned that I could view the world without having to see it through my camera screen!)

I am excited about today’s edition.  I have some great tips that have been shared with me and I can’t wait to share them with you.

This first one comes from Mollie:

The key to preventing moldy berries…

Berries are delicious, but they’re also kind of delicate. Raspberries in particular seem like they can mold before you even get them home from the market. There’s nothing more tragic than paying $4 for a pint of local raspberries, only to look in the fridge the next day and find that fuzzy mold growing on their insides. How to prevent them from getting there in the first place… Wash them with vinegar.

When you get your berries home, prepare a mixture of one part vinegar (white or apple cider probably work best) and ten parts water. Dump the berries into the mixture and swirl around. Drain, rinse if you want (though the mixture is so diluted you can’t taste the vinegar,) and pop in the fridge. The vinegar kills any mold spores and other bacteria that might be on the surface of the fruit, and viola! Raspberries will last a week or more, and strawberries go almost two weeks without getting moldy and soft. So go forth and stock up on those pricey little gems, knowing they’ll stay fresh as long as it takes you to eat them.  You’re so berry welcome!

Mollie was curious if this would work on grapes, as well.  I can’t imagine why not – if you try it Mollie, report back to us on how well this works!

Speaking of the Joys Of Vinegar, yesterday I was washing out the insides to my bag-less vacuum cleaner.  Between the dirt and the dog hair, my filters just stink after washing them.  But with a few sprays of vinegar from the spray bottle and an afternoon drying in the sun, the filters certainly smell better!  Remember that vinegar acts as a natural deodorizer, although, if you spray vinegar directly on/in your running shoes, all that the track team will smell is stinky vinegar at the next run.   (Oops! I have profusely apologized to my son for that experiment last spring!)

Here is a great pair of emails from Johnny on some recent thrifty ideas and attempts:

(First email sent on Jan 13, 2012)

I haven’t tried it yet but just found it on this blog – (how to make your own microwave popcorn!)

1/2tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup popcorn kernels

1/4 tsp salt

sprinkle of garlic

paper bag

mix the kernels in the oil and then place in bag

sprinkle 1/4 tsp salt and a sprinkle of garlic into the bag(if you feel so inclined)fold 3 smallish folds – make them tight – microwave for 2.5 minutes (would guess it varies by microwave) and you have popcorn! 🙂

And while I’m at it, if you have a jar and some heavy cream and twenty minutes to work out your arms shaking I’m told by this blog you can make your own butter, with buttermilk on the side 🙂

And over here you can make hot dog buns! 🙂

And on Jan 16, 2012, this is Johnny’s Update:

“Ok, making butter sucks!  LOL It’s about the same cost as a 3 lb tub of butter as it is for the pint of cream…. and you really have to shake that thing. ha ha   You end up with a very small amount of butter …. so it’s not more effective price wise with the time added in…but it’s something for those who want to know they are eating something very pure.  Mine is probably ruined since I got tired of it, after off and on shaking for a an hour or so, and I haven’t had a chance to rinse it out or work the last of the butter milk out so it is most likely bitter now.  It turns bitter if you don’t get every bit of the liquid out….  we’ll see how the pop corn experiment goes one of these days when I get some popcorn bought :)”

Ah, life lessons!  I love to hear what people have tried and what works, and what does NOT!  I consider these as words of wisdom!!  Although, kudos to you, Johnny, for giving it that old college try!  Have you tried the popcorn yet?  What about the hot dog buns?  For those of you who are bread makers, this looks like a legit recipe.  I would love to hear what folks have discovered from both the bread and pop corn!

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, may you experience mold-free berries, a new popcorn experiment, and for those looking for a great work out, try the “butter-o-matic” for great toning in the arms and fresh butter when you are done!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 35 – April 1, 2012 (original issue date)

No April Fools here, my Thrifty Sisters!  Happy April!  You have no idea how happy I am that April Fools does not fall on a school day this year.  Easter is coming up next Sunday and I would like to dedicate this week’s newsletter to Easter decorations and ideas.

Thank you to Cathy for allowing me to share this note:

I love this time of year Lora! It’s extra special for us as our soon to be deployed to Afghanistan (2nd tour) son is coming home with his family which includes our 5th grandchild who we will be meeting for the first time! We love to create the venue for positive memories so one of our activities will be an Easter egg hunt and the next day Grandma will help the kiddos create these egg creatures:

Thanks for the newsletter, it is such a nice way to know how you are doing.


From Lora back to Cathy:

Cathy, what exciting news to have your family home again, yet rather bittersweet at the same time.  I applaud your son and his (and all of our troops) efforts for keeping all of us safe and the world, a better place.

Do you create little memory books for your grand kids?  You can do all sorts of types – upload photos to various web sites and have a bound book made, or make your own scrapbook.  Something crafty for you, and a memory for the kiddos that they can page through until the next time that they see Grandma!

Check these out:

How about a crafty video?!?!

***For those of you who are the praying folk, please keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers.  They are not home yet and we need to remember them, everyday. ***

More decorating ideas – check out Martha’s ideas for eggs, baskets and dying tips!

I love Martha… she has some great Easter Brunch ideas, as well.

Does Martha ever stop… these cookies are adorable – the must see event are the Easter Puzzle cookies!

And just in case your sweet tooth has not been satisfied, this is a must see view from the “things your grandmother knew” web site.  The photo is charming, and includes the vintage cake recipe from an Airy Fairy booklet.  No wonder I was never able to bake from these old cookbooks – they already assume that you know your basic cake recipe!  haha

Have eggshells?  Here is a great article about how to repurpose eggshells:

This tib-bit came from Cindy.  What perfect timing, as I am sure that there are many, many eggs floating around homes this week. If it wasn’t for the aloe plant we may have cracked an egg open last night – my poor hubby had a grilling accident!

A Healing Miracle for Burns:

First Aid consists of first spraying cold water on the affected area until the heat is reduced which stops the continued burning of all layers of the skin.

Then , spread the egg whites onto the affected area.

One woman burned a large part of her hand with boiling water. In spite of the pain, she ran cold faucet water on her hand, separated 2 egg whites from the yolks, beat them slightly and dipped her hand in the solution. The whites then dried and formed a protective layer.

She later learned that the egg white is a natural collagen and continued during at least one hour to apply layer upon layer of beaten egg white. By afternoon she no longer felt any pain and the next day there was hardly a trace of the burn.

10 days later, no trace was left at all and her skin had regained its normal color. The burned area was totally regenerated thanks to the collagen in the egg whites, a placenta full of vitamins.

And with that my thrifty sisters, may you have a blessed Easter Week.  Happy egg dying, basket making, spring baking/brunch making and Easter crafting week!  Whew, sort of sounds like a busy week!  And remember: *Nothing has to be perfect *Focus on what is right and good *Ask for help and accept that your way isn’t the only way *The simplest choice is the best choice *Find joy in whatever you do and wherever you are.

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 36 – April 15, 2012 (original issue date)

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters!  I hope that everyone had a lovely Easter last week, and have fully recovered from the sugar comas!

Johnny sent me some super interesting web sites recently, and I promised that I would share them.  One is for Green Living Tips, and I just signed up for their free email newsletter – check out: and sign up if you are interested.

Now here is one that will really grab the attention of several of you!  It is a “cream of whatever” soup recipe, and has substitutions for gluten free and milk free soups. After reading several of the comments, this also sounds like a lower sodium option, and other readers offered their suggestions on freezing and usage of gluten free flours. Check this recipe out at:

Since we are on the topic of soups, Johnny also sent this recipe along.  Wow, Johnny – you are on a roll – thanks for doing all the work for the Thrifty Sister this week! This is a nifty way to “spice” up leftover soups and casseroles.

Kick-A-Bug Soup

(If you have leftover soup or casserole in your fridge, or if you’re planning on making soup or a casserole for dinner, then this will be really easy. I had some leftover chili.)

After re-heating a single serving of chili, here’s how I dosed it up:

  • Raw, finely chopped garlic. Garlic is antiviral and antibacterial–great for fighting all sorts of infections. It contains Allicin – which can be as potent as Penicillin. Cooking will greatly reduce its effectiveness, so it’s really important to add it raw after you’re done cooking or re-heating. Add an entire clove or two and you’re off to a good start.
  • Thyme is another powerful antibacterial. Thyme is often brewed into tea to reduce throat and respiratory inflammation, and it’s a natural expectorant—be proactive and keep your head cold from turning into a chest cold. I laced my bowl of chili with a teaspoon.
  • Cayenne Pepper. Sprinkle in as much as you can comfortably stand. In addition to instant decongestion it will help your circulation—so those handy white blood cells can go the rounds more effectively.
  • Turmeric. Okay, here’s the weird one you might not have, but it’s worth getting because it’s a rockstar. Turmeric is a bright orange powder. Add a teaspoon. It fights infection, stimulates the immune system, aids circulation, and cleanses your lymph system. As if that wasn’t enough, it also happens to be wildly anti-inflammatory; some studies have found it as effective as hydrocortisone and motrin/ibuprofen. However, unlike those drugs, turmeric isn’t toxic.

Stir all that up and watch every germ within a 20 yard radius drop dead

And the last tip I will leave you with from Johnny is how to use Baking Soda in the garden… wow – who knew!

And with that my Thrifty Sisters, may you enjoy your new “Cream of Whatever” and fight off the bugs with your spice cabinet and enjoy dreaming about the uses of baking soda in the upcoming garden! May you have a fun, green and thrifty week, sisters!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 37 – April 22, 2012 (original issue date)

Greetings Thrifty Sisters and Happy Earth Day!  I hope that you all have the opportunity to do something green today! We are having student recitals at one of the schools that I teach at this afternoon.  I suggested that since we had two recitals today that we should double side the programs and give the audience an opportunity to have their program reused for the second group (unless, one would like to take their program for scrapbooking, of course!). What an easy way to save paper and allow others to do some recycling.

Not sure how you would like to spend Earth Day? Check out “Earth Day Around the World” for suggestions on activities in your area, activities for children, and even some film festival activities for those who may want to stay inside.

One of my favorite things to grow things indoors, even in the dead of winter, is sprouts. I love sprouts!  However, I hate to buy them from the store since they only seem to last about 48 hours in the fridge.  After growing my own, I am saddened to think about how long these sprouts may have taken to get to my home.

Growing sprouts is super easy!  I have tried several methods, but what I have found works the best for me, is the plastic sprout jar lids.  I bought mine from the local co-op, but you can buy them here too:

They fit on a regular wide-mouth canning jar.  I also purchase my sprout seeds from the local co-op, and they have a long shelf life.  A little package goes a long way!  Although, I know that sprout seeds can be purchased from seed companies like Park Seed.

Here is a how-to video:

This video suggests rinsing twice a day, but I can guarantee you that if you forget for a day or so, you are going to be ok.  I also happen to usually only rinse mine in the morning.  It works nicely with the morning coffee routine. The evening routine is not nearly as predictable. Sprouts are so super easy to grow and very forgiving little plants!  And very nutritious – read more about sprouts and their nutrition!

10 Reasons to Eat Sprouts by Michelle Schoffro Cook

Sprouts truly are the best locally-grown food, yet not enough people eat or grow them. Considering there many health and environmental benefits, it’s time to consider adding sprouts to your diet. Here are 10 reasons to eat more sprouts:

1.  Experts estimate that there can be up to 100 times more enzymes in sprouts than uncooked fruits and vegetables.  Enzymes are special types of proteins that act as catalysts for all your body’s functions. Extracting more vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and essential fatty acids from the foods you eat ensures that your body has the nutritional building blocks of life to ensure every process works more effectively.

2.  The quality of the protein in the beans, nuts, seeds, or grains improves when it is sprouted.  Proteins change during the soaking and sprouting process, improving its nutritional value.  The amino acid lysine, for example, which is needed to prevent cold sores and to maintain a healthy immune system increases significantly during the sprouting process.

3.  The fiber content of the beans, nuts, seeds, or grains increases substantially.  Fiber is critical to weight loss.  It not only binds to fats and toxins in our body to escort them out, it ensures that any fat our body breaks down is moved quickly out of the body before it can resorb through the walls of the intestines (which is the main place for nutrient absorption into the blood).

4.  Vitamin content increases dramatically.  This is especially true of vitamins A, B-complex, C, and E.  The vitamin content of some seeds, grains, beans, or nuts increases by up to 20 times the original value within only a few days of sprouting.  Research shows that during the sprouting process mung beansprouts (or just beansprouts, as they are often called) increase in vitamin B1 by up to 285 percent, vitamin B2 by up to 515 percent, and niacin by up to 256 percent.

5.  Essential fatty acid content increases during the sprouting process. Most of us are deficient in these fat-burning essential fats because they are not common in our diet.  Eating more sprouts is an excellent way to get more of these important nutrients.
6.  During sprouting, minerals bind to protein in the seed, grain, nut, or bean, making them more useable in the body.  This is true of alkaline minerals like calcium, magnesium, and others than help us to balance our body chemistry for weight loss and better health.

7.  Sprouts are the ultimate locally-grown food. When you grow them yourself you are helping the environment and ensuring that you are not getting unwanted pesticides, food additives, and other harmful fat-bolstering chemicals that thwart your weight loss efforts.

8.  The energy contained in the seed, grain, nut, or legume is ignited through soaking and sprouting.

9.  Sprouts are alkalizing to your body.  Many illnesses including cancer have been linked to excess acidity in the body.

10.  Sprouts are inexpensive. People frequently use the cost of healthy foods as an excuse for not eating healthy.  But, with sprouts being so cheap, there really is no excuse for not eating healthier.

And with that my Thrifty Sisters, happy sprouting, happy Earth Day and have a happy week!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 38 – April 29, 2012 (original issue date)

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters!  Happy end of April!  Wow, I have absolutely no idea where April has disappeared to, but I am both nervous and excited for May to come. I am calling it “go time” around here this year. I just hope that I make it to my son’s graduation in one piece, and not forget to show up at one of several upcoming concerts.

Recently, both our family and a friend of mine have experienced different types of fraud related activities.  My friend shared this web site in hopes of providing some great info and this site contains a host of free forms that you may need to fill out if you ever have the unfortunate discovery that you are a victim of fraud. Check out for more information, or even bookmark it on your internet browser.

Looking for more Fun With Vinegar Tips?  In March, I shared Mollie’s tip about using vinegar as a fruit and veggie wash (one part vinegar and ten parts water was the suggested recipe – I just add water and a splash of vinegar… so rocket science is apparently not needed!).  Kara also wrote in about this:

“I use the vinegar wash on all my produce, much cheaper than the FIT wash and works just as well.  Also, a small amount of vinegar in with your towels in the rinse cycle has them come out soft and fluffy without compromising on absorption as when you use fabric softer.”

Thanks, Kara!

Speaking of fruits and veggies – here is a neat article about how to save more at the grocery store.  And really, who couldn’t stand to save more at the store?!?!

Now that you have saved so much money at the store, why not think about your greener cooking options! I found an article that touts the advantages of cast iron as an eco friendly option. We have several cast iron pieces that we use for camping and the more and more that I read about the “non-stick” coatings on pans, the more that I consider the cast iron options that are in our garage. In addition, since camping season is just around the corner, this is a great reminder on how to care for your cast iron pieces.  Remember, if it ever rusts, you are not out of luck – you just need to use a little steel wool and the know-how to re-season that baby – instructions are in this article!

Have a graduation party in your future?  Have no fear, the Thrifty Sisters are here!  OK, Sisters, anyone with some great party planning tips should start sharing them.  I know that many graduating families are in the process of putting together their parties.  The invites are out and we should have some great tips in our back pockets to make these events a celebratory success, but it would be nice to know what some of our recyclable options are.  Here is one web site that I wanted to share.  I already broke rule #1 with mailing out paper invites, but I just HAD to – they are worth sharing!

And with that my Thrifty Sisters, may you have a fraud-free week, keep washing your veggies and thinking about eco friendly cooking options, and enjoy the cash that you are going to save at the grocery store so you can use it towards that upcoming camping trip!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 39 – May 6, 2012 (original issue date)

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters!  Happy May… and don’t forget that Mother’s Day is next weekend!

What a beautiful spring week in my neighborhood!  A little sun, a little rain, and the start of graduation celebrations! I am still looking for some great party ideas to share with everyone. Here is a very broad web site that offers several links for even more graduation ideas and fun! I like how this almost reads as a how-to-book with instructions. As far as my party progress, I have finalized JJ’s guest book idea, and I need to acquire plates, napkins, silverware. All the big planning and ordering is done, now time to think about those little things! Of course, any of the grad party planning would be appropriate for summer parties, as well.  Just because you might not have a grad doesn’t mean you might not be throwing a party this summer!

As I mentioned earlier, Mother’s Day is just around the corner.  I have 2 articles to share with you!  This one is a list of “what not to do” for mother’s day – what a hoot!

And here is a list of super cute DIY projects that you and the kids can do together – of course, from Martha!

Last week, I shared an article about the advantages of cooking with cast iron.  I know that some of you already cook with cast iron, but my friend Jerad shared this comment, “Malissa and I love our cast iron, both for camping and every day use.  They have even heating and hold their temp longer with the burners off so food stays servable a little bit longer.  You can also go from stove top to oven, great for rounds and larger cuts where you sear the outside then slow bake the rest.  One pan cooking, my fave!”

For those of you who enjoy on-line shopping, here is a great tip from Mariell:

“Whenever you purchase something on Amazon, or at many other stores, if you first go through either of these websites:

before you go to Amazon or the store, a percentage of your purchase will go to the charity of your choice (they have quite a variety on both sites).”

What a great tip, Mariell!  Thank you!  I had not heard of these web sites before.

And with that, my thrifty sisters, may you have some great party planning ideas, a happy Mother’s Day, and enjoy your new way to make a difference when you are doing your on-line shopping!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 40 – May 13, 2012 (original issue date)

Greetings Thrifty Sisters and Happy mother’s Day to the Thrifty Mommies out there!

This week’s TS is going to be a short and sweet, and next weekend is graduation, so don’t be looking in your inboxes for your Thrifty Sister next weekend.  At this time next weekend, I will be loading up scrapbooks, creating that “graduation shrine”, and worrying if I bought enough food.

I have to give props to my Ladies at Prairie Land Herbs. They made mention of a recipe that intrigued me in their last newsletter and I followed their link to a place called – totally check this out – it is not just for canners! (They have a newsletter, if you are interested.)

Here is the info for Chive Blossom Vinegar:

“Chive blossoms smell ever so gently of onion and when steeped for a week or two, they give both that fragrance and their light purple color over to the vinegar. The actual process is so easy that you don’t need an actual recipe.

Pick a generous number of chive blossoms. Soak them in cool water to remove any dirt or bugs that might have taken refuge inside the blossoms. Dry them well (salad spinners are great for this) and stuff them into a jar so that it is between 1/2 and 2/3 filled with blossoms (I used a half gallon jar). Fill the jar with white vinegar. Because I’m cheap, I used a basic distilled vinegar. If you’re fancier than I am, try white wine vinegar.

Let the blossoms steep in the vinegar for two weeks in a cool, dark place. When the time has elapsed, strain the vinegar and pour it into any jar you’d like. Use anywhere you think it would taste good.”

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, enjoy your “Fun With Vinegar” kitchen tip, Happy Mothers Day, Happy Graduations, and Happy Spring. The next time I will be posting, I will have a fully diploma-ed young man waiting to start his college adventure!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 41 – May 27, 2012

Greetings Thrifty Sisters! My home has a new high school graduate who will be college bound in a few short months!  Yeah! I just have to share how incredibly amazed I was to see so many of my son’s teachers, friends and their parents at his open house.  It is such a warm feeling to know that he is so dear to so many!  And to my treasured sisters and their husbands who were put to work – you guys made this party a hit!  Bun runs and all!

So, a word to upcoming party throwers, plan your bun count better than I did!!  We went through almost 6 dozen buns in the first hour, with my brother in law retrieving 4 more dozen, and I think we could have kept going!  Wow.

Now that graduation is behind us and summer lies ahead of us, I am able to catch up on a few garden delights that have been ignored up to this point. Hello veggie garden… oh dear, have you been neglected! As I have been cleaning the spring garden, there are a few garden tricks that I wanted to remind you of.  I am sure that these have been posted in newsletters past, but they are good reminders.

Planning a new garden bed, but don’t want to go through the hassle of digging up the grass?  Don’t forget the newspaper trick!  Lay down several layers of newspaper (not glossy ads) and add either a layer of dirt and/or mulch to the top.  You will need to let this sit for a few weeks before you dig in, but the newspaper kills the grass, and helps it compost into the existing soil. Eventually the newspaper will compost in as well, and what you are left with will be a relatively weed free bed.

Vinegar and a spray bottle.  What a great way to eliminate weeds, including thistles and dandelions! As with any type of weed, sometimes you need to spray more than once, but it is WAY cheaper than Round Up, and nicer to you and those who play in those areas.

It is not too late for seeds!  Check the back of your seed packet – for things like tomatoes who may need up to 90 days, you still have time!  Besides, with the hurricane force winds that we have been having in my corner of the world, waiting until now might be beneficial so I don’t have wind damaged peppers and tomatoes.

With all of that garden work, don’t forget to take a nutritional break. Smoothies are good for any time of the day, and with this web site, it appears that there is a smoothie from sun up to sun down!

One thing that I am looking for a great Chai recipe that can be dorm friendly.  My son loves Chai!  Although there is nothing more “exotic” for him to hit the local coffee shop and have a Chai, I am trying to figure out a thrifty, dorm friendly way to jar it up and send with him. If anyone has a foolproof recipe, please share!  Here is one that I found:

For at home Chai follow these simple steps:

-Loose black tea or a few tea bags
-Fresh Ginger
-Clove or Cinnamon sticks
-Cardamom seeds
-Sugar or alternative sweetener

I like my chai to be pretty milky. So usually, I take a small boiling pot and fill it with 2 cups milk, or a milk alternative (I’ve tried with unsweetened coconut milk and almond milk and both work well), and one cup water. Traditionally, milk, water and black tea are boiled together. But, milk can be added after or not used at all.

1.First Let the milk and water come to a slow boil

2.Turn down the heat to a simmer and add:
-1 small piece of ginger, chopped up into small pieces
-5-7 crushed, or opened, cardamom seeds
-2 cinnamon sticks broken up, or a few pieces of clove.
-2-3 black tea bags or approximately 6 teaspoons of loose black tea (If you like stronger tea add more).

3. Let the mixture brew for about 30 seconds to a minute (longer if you want stronger flavors) and then remove it from the heat. Allow time to cool and the flavors to blend.

If you like your tea sweet, then add sugar or an alternative sweetener to taste. Enjoy!

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, enjoy your week of gardening “play time”, have a super cool, nutritional smoothie or take time to put your feet up with home made Chai!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 4, Issue 42 – June 3, 2012

Greetings and Happy June to the Thrifty Sisters! Can you believe that June is here already?!

With the beginning of June upon us, we are going to start the use of air conditioners across the nation.  Don’t forget that small changes will add up to bigger savings!  Here is a brief article about what you can do to help cut your cooling expenses:

I was perusing through my massive list of things that I would like to share on the newsletter, and this article grabbed my attention – “12 Foods With Super-Healing Powers”. I thought that this would be the perfect time to share this article!  (With all of the trips to the farmers markets, and all!)

Here is a Chai Recipe that Britt sent to me this past week:

“Hey Lora.! In India all they do to make Chai tea is ½ cup tea (any flavor) and ½ cup milk and add sugar. Spencer says it tastes more like chocolate milk and not tea.

Thanks, B!  That sounds easy enough.  I might have to do some test runs before our college bound boy heads out the door!

And for those of you who are wondering what to do about the weed explosion this spring, my friend Tanya suggests if you can’t beat them, eat them!

“Hi Lora,
Just thought I would share that dandelions are edible and really quite delicious and full of nutrients. The difficult part is finding dandelions that haven’t been sprayed with weed killer. My dad used to make dandelion wine. Just another option to weed killers. Dandelions were one of the few plants I feel safe eating if I have to forage for food (as long as it’s in a forest away from housing and residents that use weed killer) because I know exactly what it looks like and can tell it from plants that look similar. I did tell my neighbor (who cleans up around the buildings here) that he can spray vinegar into the cracks in the sidewalk to kill the plants. He hasn’t tried it yet, but I did emphasize that it was cheaper than weed killer and safer for the kids/animals in the area.

From Wikipedia:
As a beneficial weed
The dandelion plant is a beneficial weed, with a wide range of uses, and is even a good companion plant for gardening. Its taproot will bring up nutrients for shallower-rooting plants, and add minerals and nitrogen to soil. It is also known to attract pollinating insects and release ethylene gas which helps fruit to ripen.

Dandelions are found on all continents and have been gathered since prehistory, but the varieties cultivated for consumption are mainly native to Eurasia. A perennial plant, its leaves will grow back if the taproot is left intact. To make leaves more palatable, they are often blanched to remove bitterness.Dandelion leaves and buds have been a part of traditional Sephardic, Chinese and Korean cuisine. In Crete, Greece, the leaves of a variety called Mari (Μαρί), Mariaki (Μαριάκι) or Koproradiko (Κοπροράδικο) are eaten by locals, either raw or boiled, in salads. Another species endemic to Crete, is eaten in the same way; it is found only at high altitudes (1000 to 1600 m.) and in fallow sites, and is called pentaramia (πενταράμια) or agrioradiko (αγριοράδικο) and which has been named Taraxacum megalorhizon by Prof. Michalis Damanakis of the Botanics Department of the University of Crete.

The flower petals, along with other ingredients, are used to make dandelion wine. The ground, roasted roots can be used as a caffeine-free dandelion coffee. Dandelion was also traditionally used to make the traditional British soft drink dandelion and burdock, and is one of the ingredients of root beer.
Dandelion leaves contain abundant vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins A, C and K, and are good sources of calcium, potassium, iron and manganese.”

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, may you save big bucks (no whammies!) on your air conditioning costs, enjoy some Chai and super fruits (maybe you can find them at your local farmers market!) and good luck either eating or beating those dandelions!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 6, Issue 14 – November 3, 2013

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 6, Issue 14 – November 3, 2013

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters!  I hope everyone remembered to set their clocks BACK an hour last night!  I think “fall back” is much better then “spring forward”!

Last week I continued to plug the benefits and surprising uses of olive oil, as well as shared a couple of “don’ts” about vinegar. Although, Sue reminded me that coconut oil has some amazing benefits that we should consider, as well!  I still have coconut oil listed on my “things to buy list” – I can’t wait to try it as a hair moisturizer and experiment with it in my soap, lip balm and lotion recipes.

Besides having some impressive health benefits, coconut oil provides many surprising uses, as well! If you were intrigued by the olive oil uses, you really need to check out the uses of coconut oil! Do any of you Thrifty Sisters already use coconut oil for anything?  If so, please share!

This is a quick view (ten tips) on coconut oil uses – including bug repellant, deodorant options, toothpaste recipe and make up remover ideas:

Here is another quick view, boasting 14 different way to use coconut oil outside of the kitchen – and this article does some myth debunking!  A very interestesting read…

Still not enough ideas on how to use coconut oil?  Try this 101 uses list!

So, what I am learning is oils are good… well, good oils are good, for many things.  I WOULD NOT recommend layering on the crisco – unless you are looking for that clogged pore type of look. Although, check out this next article that came in my email box over the week – I think it is perfectly timed and a great share about more oils that one can use in and out of the kitchen!

Every year it seems like the holiday craziness falls in around me and while I am pulling out turkey and whipping up mashed potatoes I realize that I have not set the table, nor found that “grand” centerpiece for the day!  Yikes!  Talk about a mini panic attack waiting to happen. Stop the insanity!!! Let’s think outside the box on this one… is Thanksgiving the only day in November that deserves a nice center piece or pretty harvest themed decorations?

No – each and every day is a deserving and lovely day.  Consider spicing up your fall kitchen with these simple and elegant harvest themed ideas.  And don’t feel as if the dinning table is your only decorative space – what about that kitchen island that serves as the family gathering space – make that pretty and functional, as well!  Check out these super easy and fast ways to make your November kitchen festive all month long – and say good bye to last minute decoration problems!

And finally, let me leave with one last thought. I am sure that many of you are beginning to realize that the holiday season is quickly sneeking in upon us. For many, it is time to consider some holiday shopping, and during holiday shopping one may see their puchase of batteries increase.  Please consider purchasing rechargeable batteries – they make great stocking stuffers for those eco minded young ones!  Every year, Americans purchase billions of batteries, and many of these are still single-use batteries. After all, it’s just a pack of batteries every now and then, what’s the problem, right? As we try to shift from a disposable to a reusable world, please know that every little bit helps! (AND you can recycle your rechargeable batteries!)

And with that my Thrifty Sisters, may you have a lovely celebration on your many harvests this month!



Vol 3, Original Issue Dates: June 30, 2010 – June 5, 2011

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 3, Issue 1 – June 30, 2010 (original issue date)

Hello and summer greetings to all of you Thrifty Sisters out there!  I know that this is not a “regular” time to send the newsletter out, but I thought that since there have been no regularities as of late, then we could call this more of a “surprise” issue.

I found this cute article from our recycling company about recycling ties and I wanted to share it with you.  I really like the link to – they have some super cute ideas on making tie bags, purses, etc.  If you are handy with the sewing machine and have a few extra ties, then would you consider making me a bag?  Wow, are they cute!

And, Karen, Charlie would be so cute in #7…

Enjoy – Lora.

New Takes on Neckties: 8 Ways to Put Dad’s Tie Collection to Better Use

By Jessica Harlan

This article originally appeared on

All those Father’s Day neckties that dad’s received over the years have a way of accumulating. If he’s got more than he can handle, why not repurpose a few? From a different gift for dad to a fashion statement for mom, or even something to dress up the house, there are plenty of ways to reuse neckties once they’ve been retired. Let the patterns and colors inspire you to come up with other terrific ways to reuse and recycle neckties; here are eight ideas to get you started.

  1. If dad’s dapper enough, he could get away with a pocket square made from an old, favorite necktie. Cut off six inches or so from the wide end of a necktie, fold the cut end under, and then hem it if you’d like (the hemming isn’t necessary, since the cut end will be tucked into the pocket). If it’s too wide, you can fold the sides of the tie back, and iron a crease into the sides so that they’ll stay neat. This look would work best with light, solid-colored ties.
  2. Wear one as an accessory — just not around your neck. The right color and pattern can set off a sporty outfit when you use a tie as a casual belt (just thread it through your belt loops and tie to one side) or a headband (use the skinny end of the tie and cut off the excess).
  3. Avoid scalded hands with a coffee sleeve fashioned from one of dad’s cast-offs. To make a necktie coffee sleeve, all you need is a pair of scissors and some self-adhesive Velcro. It’s the perfect gift for the eco-conscious (and fashion-conscious) dad: not only will his cup of joe look good, but he’ll avoid wasting the disposable cardboard sleeves handed out at coffee shops.
  4. Use neckties as home décor. Choose two ties that have similar colors or patterns and use them as tiebacks for curtains — or, sew a bunch of ties together to make a pillowcase. Multiple ties can even be woven together to create the seat of a chair
  5. Make a toy snake. Stuff a necktie with cotton batting, sew the openings closed on either end, and make a face on the wide end by adding button eyes and a red felt tongue. The snake can also be used as a draft catcher for doors and windows.
  6. The silky textures, bright colors, and pretty patterns of neckties make them the ideal scraps for sewing projects big or small. If you’re handy with a sewing machine, a single tie can be used to make a case for eyeglasses, an iPod, or a cell phone; multiple neckties can be sewn together to make a handbag, a skirt, or even a quilt.
  7. Dress up your dog. Make a necktie collar for your pup and he’ll be ready for a busy day as man’s best friend.
  8. Several places accept necktie donations. Prairie Moon Quilts, for instance, sews donated neckties into quilts that are then given to charities. Similarly, Ties That Matter recycles neckties into bags and pillows, and even creates jobs for refugees by seeking their help with production.

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 3, Issue 2 – July 18, 2010 (original issue date)

Greetings to all of the Thrifty Sisters!!  What a fabulous summer it has been!  I hope that those of you who have free music and fine arts festivals and events have been taking part in those and supporting your local musicians and venues!!  What a great way to “keep it local” and get a free event in.  Farmers markets can also be entertaining as well, and they have SO many yummy goodies!

This was sent in from Mollie –

I bought a couple books this spring on Amazon that have Thrifty Sister written all over ’em.  They’re both by Reader’s Digest.  One is called “Homemade: how to make hundreds of everyday products fast, fresh, and more naturally”  and the other is “Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things-2317 ways to save money and time” I think I spent about $10 bucks total including shipping for the two, and I’ve already gotten my money’s worth out of them.

Thanks, Mollie – those sound like great suggestions, and possibly something fun to keep an eye out for at some of the used book stores!

And here is some great advice that we should all read about job hunting and marketing ourselves in our new day and age with social networking.  Here is the article –

I was just having an interesting conversation with another teacher this week about how things like Face Book and Twitter are changing the way that we can respond to our students and yet, the previous dangers and the reasons we don’t interact socially with our students still exist.  How do the teachers who are not predators still reach out to our students and try to interact with them at their level of communication, but not get “in trouble”?  We both agreed that our school administrations might need to revisit these policies in the upcoming years.  (Interesting, huh?)

And of course, for some of us, school is just around the corner and for others, you still have time to shop for your school supplies.  Either way, consider what you are purchasing for your school-aged children.  In fact, the average child’s character-themed backpack is filled with supplies and materials made from one of the most toxic plastics, polyvinyl chloride (PVC or vinyl).   The Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ) has released their Back-to-School Guide to PVC-Free School Supplies to help you make healthy shopping choices that are safer for your kids, your community and the environment. Check that out at

The guide features a listing of safer PVC-free school supplies in over 20 product categories – from lunchboxes and backpacks to raingear. They have a handy wallet-sized version of the guide for your shopping needs on the go.

Here’s to keeping the remainders of our summer fun, fresh and thrifty – have a great week!


Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 3, Issue 3 – November 27, 2010 (original issue date)

Greetings and Happy Holidays to the Thrifty Sisters!

Wow, I bet you have all thought that I have fallen off the face of the earth, or have crawled under a dark stage somewhere…(hmmm… I am envisioning where my new napping place might be!); but I am back, and am hoping to keep the TS alive and thriving.

I have received many wonderful, and fantastic thrifty tips from friends and family over the past few months while I have been on my writing “hiatus”, so I plan on sharing these ideas as the holidays continue to march forward.

This one comes from Sue:

    I just bought a Libman freedom spray mop. It was $19.99 with a $5 rebate. Looks like I won’t have to use a Swiffer Wetjet (approx $20) I won’t be spending for cleaning pads(about $12) or throwing the used pads into the landfill.  The Libman microfiber pad goes into the washing machine & back on the mop. I won’t be spending about $5 for a bottle of the Swiffer cleaner either (or tossing the empty into the recycling.). With the Libman mop I can use the cleaner of my choice even if it’s vinegar & water.  SCORE!!!


Sue – that is wonderful news!  For those of us who have the old Swiffer cleaners (the dry type), Sean and I have been using reusable microfiber cleaning cloths and will dip the clean rag in the bucket of solution (vinegar and water, sometimes Murphy’s Oil Soup), and attach it to the Swiffer and mop away.  When the rag is dirty, we just add a new one – no dirty bucket of water if you keep adding clean rags!  I would imagine that this might apply to the Wet Jet, as well.  I was wondering what my options would be when the Swiffer handle brakes (as ours seems to have a hefty bend in the handle… it is only a matter of time before we will be digging out the duct tape, I am sure!)  No mess, no garbage.  We just toss the rags in the wash.


Tis the season for gift giving, and here are a couple of great web ideas on how to save on those gift cards:


Here is a nifty resource on how to purchase gift cards for less than face value:


Here is an article on “5 savvy ways to spend gift cards”

Have a wonderful Holiday season, and remember to keep on keeping it Thrifty!  Next week, watch for my reviews on home-made laundry soaps, dish detergent and recipes, as well as news from other Thrifty Sisters!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 3, Issue 4 – December 5, 2010 (original issue date)

News from Karen –
Well, newest on the thrifty sister list -I decided to join Netflix. After doing the math at $5 a movie rental I realized, if you watch 1.8 movies or more a month, Netflix pays for itself for an unlimited amount of movies that you can watch and there are no late fees. Therefore, the $9/month is totally worth it for us movie watchers!

Also, we had some huge wooden platforms on our property for 4 years that Jeff and his music teacher buddy used to make some Tyco drums.  We are taking out the bolts, cutting them up, and are burning them for heat this winter. It has been 4 hours of cutting that wood this weekend so far-we’ll be set when the power goes out, which does happen
quite often over here.

From Lora –

Yes, for those who are movie watchers, places like Netflix and Blockbuster are wonderful.  The only problem that we have run into is having three movies, but not being “in the mood” to watch any of them.  That is where the free movie passes to Blockbuster have come in handy!  I think Sean gets 2 a month.

Karen – be careful about burning treated wood in your home!  The toxic fumes are… well… toxic!  I know that folks scramble around trying to figure out how to stay warm when the power goes out, but hopefully that wood is not treated!!!!!  Yikes.

Well, now that I feel better about warning my sister about the toxins of burning treated wood, it is now time to share some hints and tricks from Tanya concerning home made soaps and cleaners.  Thanks, Tanya, for taking the time to put this next article together for the rest of the Thrifty Sisters!

For general cleaning I soak a sponge in vinegar and wipe where I am cleaning. Then I put baking soda on the same sponge and scrub. Finally, I rinse it all off. It takes some elbow grease if there is a lot of soap scum but there is no film at all and I don’t have to deal with any chemical smells. Plus, everything just feels so clean.

The dishwashing detergent is equal parts of washing soda and borax mixed together in a container. 1 tablespoon is all that is needed although I do use another tablespoon for a prewash since we tend to only do dishes once or twice a week.

Vinegar is added to the Jet Dry dispenser as needed. Our dishwasher is quite old and when the vinegar is in the dispenser, we can smell it but it is not overly strong or annoying which is good since it does not take much to set off my migraines anymore. The vinegar helps with spots. I think Bobbi adds vinegar to her rinse water – she does dishes by hand – so that they are less likely to dry with spots and hardwater film.

For cleaning linoleum: This has probably been my biggest challenge. Getting the grime off a linoleum floor – grease, dirt, what have you – and not have a sticky residue left after cleaning has been eluding me for years. I bought a mop that has a washable microfiber pad that just attaches with velcro and a bottle that I can add my own cleaner. It is basically the less-waste version of a swiffer mop. I LOVE it. And I fill it or a bucket with the same cleaning solution: 1/4 cup baking soda dissolved in 2 gallons of hot water. Add 1 tablespoon dish soap just before the bucket is full of the 2 gallons if you want a good lather and then add 1/4 cup vinegar.

If my floors are extremely dirty, I put on knee pads and use a scrub brush/buck on the floor otherwise it is the spray mop. Pretty much, once a month I use the bucket and from the bucket I fill the container on my spray mop. Anytime I need to refill that, I just make up a bucket and use the bucket of water as a cleaner for the floors and even general cleaning.

For cleaning the toilet bowl: I put vinegar and baking soda in the bowl, scrub, and then rinse (flush). Pretty basic and works. I also clean all the drains using baking soda, followed by vinegar, and then hot water at least once a month if not once a week to keep the drains clean and not gunked up. I have been doing this for years.

Laundry soap: This is a powder version. Grate a favorite bar soap (I use Fels-Naptha). For delicates, many sites recommend Zote bar because of its high fat content. You can either buy it online or in Mexican shops (supposedly – I haven’t checked out ours yet). I chose Fels-Naptha because it is great at stain removal BUT it is a petroleum product which many people may not want to use. Ivory would be another good choice. Once the soap is grated, combine 2 cups of grated soap, 1 cup borax, and 1 cup washing soda. For small loads use 1 tablespoon, medium loads – 2 tablespoons, large loads – 3 tablespoons, and extra large loads – 4 tablespoons. You can also add an extra tablespoon for extra dingy clothes. For fabric softener, I add 1/4 cup (up to the line of the downy ball) or up to 1/2 cup (up to the blue cap almost of the downy ball) of vinegar. It can also be added directly to the rinse cycle.

I don’t have fabric softener dispensers on my washing machines so I don’t know if that works or not. In addition, you can add 1/4 cup baking soda along with the laundry detergent to add softening effects. I am still trying to figure out if the vinegar or vinegar/baking soda added during the rinse cylce truly makes a difference or not. Nanke keeps forgetting to take the vinegar. Yet, even without the vinegar the clothes are not stiff (unless they were anyway).

I also have not noticed any fading. Nanke forgets that the black clothes that appear faded have been that way for a long time because they are OLD. But, it may be something to watch out for. For greasy clothes: use 1/4 cup dish detergent as a laundry soap. I learned this when I was a kid because that was how my mom had to wash my dad’s mining clothes in order to get them clean.

We have cut down a LOT on clutter from having different cleaners all over the place and, considering my sensitivities to so many things I am glad to find things that do not cause me any additional problems. Plus the money savings. The laundry soap/fabric softener alone has saved us substantial amounts of money. A box of borax and washing soda are about $5 a piece and a bar of Fels-Naptha is about $1.25. Add a gallon of vinegar for about $5 and you can get A LOT of cleaning done. Some day I will actually figure out how much it costs us for laundry and dish soap versus store brands as well as the reusable “swiffer” spray mop, etc. I hope to get to that soon but it may be awhile. Tanya

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 3, Issue 5 – January 28, 2011 (original issue date)

Dear Thrifty Sisters… I apologize for the recent delay in newsletters.  I have been battling some recent email “problems”.  It appeared that when I updated the Thrifty Sister archives in December ( I would be completely locked out of my email account.  Strange, I know.  I have been avoiding updating that web site, in hopes of continuing to be able to access my email.  Odd trade off, I know.  Therefore, that web site will no longer be archiving previous Thrifty Sister Newsletters.  While in the midst of wondering what I would do, my friend Johnny suggested this “wild” idea of contributing to her web site … What luck!  Therefore, the Thrifty Sister will have a home, and the sisters can continue to share ideas!  YEAH!

The future home of the Thrifty Sisters is  On the left hand side you will see a link under “Guest Writers” – click on the “Thrifty Sister” link.  To read the full first issue, simply click on “Volume 1”.  I am going to start from the beginning with Karen’s original email about suggesting sharing tips, and eventually the “retro” archives and the current posts will both be there.  Exciting news for the Thrifty Sisters, I do believe!

In celebration of the news, here is this week’s edition of the Thrifty Sister – and if anyone has talked to the other half of the Thrifty Sister, tell Karen that I am ready for her latest thrifty stories, and I PROMISE to post them this time!  (I just found an email dated from May that I was hoping to post earlier this year… yikes!)

Sean recently found this article about warming up your car – the myths and facts are poignant, to say the least!

This next Tid-Bit is one that I have been working on and experimenting with since last May.  In addition, I am pleased to tell you that it works very nicely!

My Tid-Bit?  “Unless you are printing something important, save ink by using Draft Mode on your printer.”  Well, it sounds more like a rule of thumb, but it sure works around here!  I used to purchase new ink cartridges about every 2-3 months (both color and black ink), and now I am down to purchasing a new black one every 4-5 months and my color cartridge has lasted almost 10 months!

Did you know that each year the world’s discarded cartridges, stacked end-to-end, could circle the planet three times?  I hope at some point, while traveling around the earth, those folks stopped in at their local business supply store to recycle their used cartridges!  Many businesses such as Staples and Office Max offer recycling opportunities, as well as an added discount on your next purchase.  Many schools and churches also offer ink-cartridge recycling programs, as they are able to benefit with the discount programs, as well.

Here is another novel idea…if you print double sided, chances are you will use half the paper than you do right now!

Currently, we have our printer set to print on “fast draft”, and only rarely do I change that setting to “normal” (only when I want the quality color prints for various craft and scrapbook projects).  On our printer, there is virtually no difference between fast draft and normal printing modes when you are printing out only black text – merely the savings of not using as much ink (and in the long run, less trips to the store, and less cash used to purchase ink!)  I imagine that you would need to experiment with your personal printers, but I am hoping that you are just as astonished with the results as I was.

Something else that I am going to check on is a free typeface for Mac or PC that is designed to use as little ink as possible but is still very readable.   It is called “ecofont” – Google it today and try it out!

As always, thanks so much for reading our Thrifty Sister Newsletter!  Take care, keep it thrifty, and happy savings on both your car and your printer this week!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 3, Issue 6 – February 4, 2011 (original issue date)

Happy Snowy days to many of you this past week – even to those of you who are generally warm and balmy during this time of year!  I am going to include a crock-pot soup idea at the end of this week’s article, in hopes of helping you all stay nice and warm.

With the recent posting problems I have been experiencing, Johnny has graciously set up the Thrifty Sister with their own NEW email.  I will be slowly adding emails from this email account to our new email: – please update your email address books accordingly and I will let you know when I am going “live” with that email.

In response to last week’s article about saving ink and paper, Mary W wrote:

“Woo-hoo!  I just love your newsletter – thanks so much for keeping it up.

I have a tip!  I have a tip!  But maybe your “eco-font” fixes this anyway.

About a year ago, I read that some universities have set the fonts of their printers to “Century Gothic” and they’ve saved thousands of dollars in ink by having all printed materials in this font.  That’s what I’ve been using.

Also, I usually open my junk mail just to see if I can use one side of the paper for my printing needs and I keep two stacks of paper alongside my printer.  One for fancy needs or legal uses, the other (re-used one sided paper) for everything else.

Lots of love and hugs!  I’m so glad I can stay in touch with you this way!”

Thanks, Mary!  I had not heard about so many universities changing their font to Century Gothic.  And thank you for sharing your idea of re-using paper.  One of my band director friends has a pile of paper next to her printer that she re-uses – it is amazing how much paper waste a school goes through!  I typically take all of my “unwanted” single sided pages that I get and make scrap paper (divide the paper in fourths, and walla!  Instant note pages!)  The problem I have with the note pages is that wind up with SO many note pages, that at some point, I have to toss a large handful in the recycling bin, just to maintain order with that pile.  (not very efficient, is it?)

So, Mary – you have inspired me to set up a new location for what we are calling “junk” paper.  JJ is super excited about this new idea, and I guess Sean had already been doing this.  In the process of finding a new home for the “junk” paper, I also had the opportunity to go through this “organizer”.  I am not sure what I was organizing, as it seemed to be more of a heap that was jammed into this organizer, rather than an organized collection of papers.  Now I can say that the organizer is cleaned out and tidy and I have a “junk” paper tray so I can happily recycle.

Another great way to re-use your junk mail is to pull out the envelopes that are in so many of the mailings, and use them.  Several of my lesson families do this – I always smile when I see a re-purposed envelope float my way – not only am I being paid, but they recycled!  Yeah!

For previous Thrifty Sister newsletters, please visit – we are re-posting the first issues, so if you have not been with us since the beginning, now is your chance to read it from the start!

Hearty Potato Soup

6 potatoes – cut into ½ inch cubes (or so)

2 medium onions (I find that half an onion is plenty!)

2 carrots (or what ever you have – frozen works out good too!)

2 ribs of celery (or celery seed)

29 oz vegetable broth (or close to that, I use the whole 32 oz can)

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

¼ cup flour

1 ½ cups half and half

Combine the first 8 ingredients in a slow cooker.  Cook, covered at high for 3 hours (or on low for 6) or until veggies are tender.

Stir together flour and half-and-half and add to the soup during the last 30 minutes before serving (or until heated through).

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 3, Issue 7 – February 11, 2011 (original issue date)

Yeah to all of the Thrifty Sisters for doing their part – being thrifty and helping each other be thrifty (and eco-conscious!)

Here are some great paper saving/recycling ideas from Dany:

Hi Lora!
As a teacher, I use SO much paper. It’s really crazy when I think about how many reams of paper my school goes through in a week.  At the beginning of the year, I talked to my students about being wasteful. We keep a stack of “junk” paper as you called it and reuse
it as scratch paper or doodle paper.

Your idea reminded me of a project I did with my high school FHA group. We cut the paper in fourth like you were saying. We stacked the paper between two boards and clamped them with a vice. You then paint rubber cement on one end. You let it dry and then repeat the process several times. End result a bound note pad. I’ve been thinking about all our finished work paper waste. My class is terrible about taking finished work home. I think I may start a new pile and at the end of the year have the kids make note pads to take home over for writing over the summer.

There is nothing worse than seeing a huge piece of construction paper with a little half inch circle cut out of it! So, we keep a plastic bin with our construction paper scraps. It’s amazing how useful those little scraps can be when we are having art class. The kids are really good about using them when they only need a small piece.

One other idea…If I am having the kids work on something they need to do over and over…say multiplication facts…I slide a multiplication worksheet into a clear plastic protector (the ones you would use in presentation). The kids can write on them with dry erase or over head markers. And when they are done – erase.

If you know any teachers, it’s a good idea to ask them if they are in need of any of your recyclable materials. Magazines, plastic and paper bags, and ice cream buckets are things we use in our class a lot. I’m going to use your envelope idea too. We go through a lot of those!

Thanks for the inspiration Lora!
🙂 Danylle

And this from Johnny:

I loved the tip on reusing the envelopes that come with junk mail, I use bill pay so there is always a return envelope that is tossed with every bill, it seemed like such a waste but it never dawned on me to USE them! 🙂  I’m going to take a closer look at them next month!!!    I envy those of you close to recycling centers where you can actually sort things and take them in!   For those of us in rural areas that are continuously told how much more it would cost to start recycling and how inefficient it would be, we just have to settle for as much upcycling or repurposing as we can –  and try to help out the environment in some small way.  Even the plastic bottles that we collect at work we have to take turns volunteering to take the collection more than an hour away to drop in a recycle bin in the next city….  all the recycling drop points are minimum an hour away from us!  😦


Wow – thanks for the great ideas!  Since I enjoy crafting, I also have a little drawer that I keep scraps of paper in.  (For my family members, don’t worry, it is not like a “grandma drawer”)  I can’t believe how many times I go to it – and what a great way to keep using that paper!

For all of you teachers and crafty moms out there, the note stacks might make a great April craft idea (earth day and making your own recycled note pads – I just can’t think of anything that would make this Thrifty Sister prouder!)  Also, for those who are not teachers, contacting your local schools, art class rooms and elementary teachers is a great idea for the times of the year when you decide that the 100 ice cream buckets and lids that you have been hanging on to “just in case” no longer need to be saved in your basement or garage.

And what to do about the plastic bags that seem to multiply like rabbits in our closets?  Do you remember making the plastic bag wreaths out of plastic sacks and metal coat hangers when you were a kid (then they would be magically spray-painted by an adult)?  That would make a super adorable Easter/Spring wreath idea… (hot glue and plastic Easter eggs might be a really attractive addition!)  If you are not feeling crafty about your bags, remember that places like thrift stores usually take clean plastic bags.  Our local co-op also encourages folks to bring in their gently used plastic bags (in fact, they were able to donate almost $600 to the food bank due to the savings that they experienced this past year because they did not have to purchase their own bags!)

So even if you live in an area that does not have a recycling program, please do not give up!  Every little bit helps when it comes to recycling and keeping it out of our landfills.  Remember, the best way to recycle is to reuse.  Just think about all of those creative juices that we are using when we try to think of ways to reuse something!  Talk about keeping your brain active as we gradually increase in age, and cash in your wallet!

On a different note, I have heard back from several of you who have tried the Potato Soup recipe, and here is a fantastic suggestion from Kara:  Leeks work really well in potato soup and have a milder taste than the onions. Chunks of ham also add a nice flavor and some protein for those of us who must have protein at every meal.

Thanks to everyone who submitted information, and thanks to the rest of you for doing your part to stay thrifty and creative – have a great week – Lora.

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 3, Issue 8 – February 20, 2011 (original issue date)

Greetings to all of the Thrifty Sisters!

For those of you who are looking for a great motivation to unclutter, but just need a few ideas, tips or tricks, check out this web site – there are many story ideas that are worth reading!

Remember to consider organizations such as your local thrift stores when you are purging.  If it is in good shape and can be passed along, please consider this prior to adding it to our landfills.  Also, checking in with friends and family is a great way to give your old items a new life.  Our neighbor does the thing, and loves the fact that you can have folks come and pick up your old-but-new-to-them items!

This is a nifty and thought-provoking article to read as well.  It compares advertising campaigns from the 30’s to today and has some great common sense advice.

And for those of you who were wishing for a warm get away this winter, but just can’t seem to make it work out, I have decided to sign up for the Honolulu Hawaii weather to be sent right to my inbox!  On those mornings where the actual air temp was -30 (or colder), I just could not bear to read my personal forecast.  But reading that SOMEWHERE was 80 and sunny gave me a glimmer of hope that our weather would see that pattern return soon.  I mean, really – doesn’t most of our weather come in from the west????

It looks like the Potato Soup was a great hit, and Johnny sent a recipe for making your own taco seasoning, which made me think of our fajita seasoning that we have been using in our home.  If you are anything like I am in the kitchen, it always seems to be a chemistry project, so mix and match, add and subtract what you like and don’t like.  These projects are also a great way to reuse canning jars or little glass spice jars that you didn’t want to throw out to the recycling center!

Taco Seasoning Mix From Scratch

(Johnny said that she pulled this off from Facebook, so thanks to Valerie W !!!)
1 Tbls chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 ts p sea salt
1 tsp black pepper

In a small bowl, mix together chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container. Equivalent to 1 packet.

Chicken Fajitas and Seasoning Mix:

Fajita Seasoning Mix:

2 tsp paprika

2 tsp salt (or to taste)

2 tsp onion powder or flakes

2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1.5 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp crumbled oregano

2 tsp ground cumin

1.5 tsp chilli powder

To prepare fajitas:

4 tsp (or so) of fajita mix

1 pound bonless skinless chichen breasts cut into strips

3 tbsp olive oil

¼ cup fresh lemon juice or lime juice (to taste)

1 medium onion sliced (or not… up to you!)

2 green peppers, sliced – colored ones are very pretty, too!

1 red pepper, sliced

Combine seasoning mix and store in an air tight container until ready to use or to give away as a gift with this recipe.

Add olive oil to pan and add chicken pieces in pan and coat with seasoning mix – cook until chicken is cooked through, add peppers and onions and lemon or lime juice and simmer while prepping condiments and tortillas.  Enjoy!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 3, Issue 9 – February 27, 2011 (original issue date)

Welcome back to another edition of the Thrifty Sister!  I am excited, as my sister has some new material to add to this week’s edition (she must have sensed that I was filling in the blanks last week!)

From Karen:

Hi Lora,
With the cost of gas going up because last we heard India needs more gas (that’s a creative one), I think that there are even more reasons to be thrifty! So thrifty it up!  I am excited to hear about products that work. Costco 2-ply 36-roll toilet paper has lasted us quite a long time, so don’t hesitate to go bulk on toilet paper. We’ll use it. Also, “the works” toilet bowl tab is a tab you put in your toilet that makes the water like bleach and you’ll never have to clean your toilet bowl.  Just replace another tab 6 months later. Lastly, my new swifter mop has come out with washable mop pads and you don’t have to buy the solution. You can make your own mix. All the products are great. If you have products that win your vote, let me know!

From Lora:

Thanks, Karen!  Wow, I have no idea where to start listing favorite thrifty items!  I guess starting in the bathroom is as good of a place as anywhere.  Did you hear about the new toilet paper rolls that will be “roll-less” – they have devised a way to roll the paper without the middle roll!  Genius!  Can’t wait to see that on the shelves!  (one less thing to dig out of the garbage and help it find it’s way to the recycling!)

Another trick that I have been doing for years, and it fits into your idea of buying in bulk, is hand soap.  I buy the regular Target brand hand soap in a BIG bottle, and then refill the smaller hand soap containers that are in our bathrooms.  I add my own essential oils and Whalla!  Soap that smells like it came from Bath and Body at the fraction of the price.  Other benefits – you are reusing bottles that you already have in your bathrooms and the big bottle is easier to recycle than a bunch of smaller bottles.  (not rocket science, I know!)

Ok – here is my Essential Oils “secret”… I purchase mine from this place in Iowa called Prairieland Herbs.  It is this darling mom and daughter store (I have actually been there on my last visit to Amy).  They carry all sorts of raw ingredients that are not processed and are organic – this is where I also purchase my shea butter and cocoa butter and bees wax.  Their web site is  Maggie and Donna are terrific!  And their oils are AMAZING!

Love, Lora.

This note is from Tanya, via Facebook.  Thanks for the great ideas!

For printing – if one can stand tiny print I print two to four pages per paper page. It is also great if I am printing pictures.

I have found a dishwashing soap for the dishwasher (handmade) that works. I’ve been using it for over a week now and no problems. It is washing soda, borax, salt, and citric acid. I think the citric acid was the missing component and what caused the cloudiness the last time. I put one tablespoon in the prewash and 1 tablespoon in the wash and vinegar in the rinse. Everything comes out crystal clear except for the occasional super stuck on food but that happened even with cascade. I made a really small batch just in case it didn’t work and it is definitely saving us a lot of money. Now I am ordering ink to refill my own ink things because that is the next biggest expense we have.

Thanks, Tanya – you will have to send the “recipe” for your dishwashing soap and where one would find citric acid.   Speaking of ink cartridges, I noticed that Office Max has this giant machine that advertised filling your own ink cartridges.  I did not ask about pricing, but I thought it was worth a mention – has anyone else seen these around and if you have used it, let us know what you thought!

And for those of us who are still needing to stay warm this coming weekend I have a wonderful soup recipe from my neighbor, Kim.  Hang in there sisters! March is coming!  According to my Dad, all one needs to do is make it to March 1, and we are in the clear – no matter what the weather does, we know spring is truly just around the corner!  Thanks, Kim, for helping us all stay warm, with full tummies, this weekend!

Chicken Tortilla Soup
3 or 4 boneless chix breasts ( I bake mine then shred and add to soup)
2 – 15 oz. cans black beans, undrained
2 or 3 cans rotel tomatoes i use original
1 cup salsa I use medium
1 can tomato sauce
tortilla chips
1/2 of a full Velveeta brick

combine all ingredients except cheese and chips in crock pot.
cook for 6-8 hours ( I have done it for a shorter time)
30min. before ready to eat add Velveeta cheese stir freq. until all melted.

Lora, when I made the soup, I picked up a cooked rotisserie chicken at the store and just took off the skin and then took all the meat off the bones and diced it up.

Have a wonderful and warm week!  I know that I will be eagerly awaiting March’s return – whether it is in like a lamb or lion, I don’t care!  Spring is coming!  And as Karen said, “… thrifty it up!”

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 3, Issue 10 – March 4, 2011 (original issue date)

In continuation with Karen’s suggestion of “keeping it thrifty”, I thought I would continue with more thrifty ideas around that house.  Last week I suggested refilling your own hand soap containers (buying in bulk and becoming the magic soap fairly that refills your smaller containers that are already in place in your bathrooms).  Karen suggested buying toilet paper in bulk since we all know that it will get used.

It seems that “buying in bulk” theme has floated several times through the Thrifty Sister Newsletter (must be a good idea if it continues to be mentioned!)  I was just sending off the 6th newsletter to be reposted on the  and it mentioned buying things not only in bulk, but also concentrated formulas.

Recently I was complimented on the green glass soap pump containers that are in my kitchen.  One holds hand soap and the other has dishwashing soap.  This person was SURE that I had purchased these matching containers at a place like Pier One, and they were just surprised as all get out that I had repurposed both of the bottles – they were old lotion containers from Bath and Body.  My trick (again, not rocket science, but maybe something that you have not considered) is that I keep cute jars, bottles, and dispensers (I even have a spare cupboard in the bathroom to keep them in, so they have their own home!).  Occasionally, I do go through my collection and recycle things that have been sitting for a while but I am surprised at how handy this collection has been.  I can, on a whim, change the “décor” of certain areas by simply changing a random container here and there.  It is also very handy when I need to replace items that have broken or worn out.

I also like to keep decorative boxes (the boxes that gifts came in), and instead of purchasing a cheap plastic container to place in a drawer for organization, I am able to place a nifty box, with sentimental value and ta-da!  You have not only repurposed something, but you didn’t have to run out to the store and purchase an “organizer” either.

***WARNING***  Again, saving items here and there is a thrifty concept, especially if you are going to reuse them and have room to store them, BUT it is not thrifty, safe or fun to stockpile items.  If you realize that you have hoarded a particular item, please consider finding a good home for them or toss it out.  (I have a feeling that my hubby is going to have a chat with me about the sandwich meat containers that have collected in the kitchen!  That is ok, it is time for the yearly cupboard cleaning and to reclaim some shelf space anyway!)

Here is a great, and short, article about tips to maintain your clean home during the hectic workweeks.  I know that we have read tips similar to this, but sometimes a review does not hurt us.  How many do you already do?  I have to confess that I have never squeegeed my shower, but I did learn a great tip about cleaning the sink!

And with that, my thrifty sisters, I hope that you have a fantastic, thrifty week!  Happy purging to those that are spring-cleaning, and happy cleaning to those that are trying to just maintain from day to day!

This week, we have a recipe from Joan.  Thanks, Joan!!

I found this recipe on the web and I just love it.  You can’t find good tamales in South Dakota.  This is really like one large tamale (casserole).   It doesn’t take much time to put together after the meat is cooked.  The woman who created this recipe tells her story on how this came about it’s interesting a few tips to the preparation are explained. She likes the “La Palmas” enchilada sauce, I thought it was a bit to spicy.  The second time I made this I used “Old El Paso” I liked the outcome much better.  I hope you enjoy, our family has.  –Joan

Tamale Pie

The first thing I did was cook a 3-4 pound pork shoulder roast. I cut it in two gigantic pieces, removed excess fat, and stuck the pieces in my slow cooker. I added a 19 oz. can of Las Palmas red enchilada sauce, a couple of cloves of garlic, a small, finely minced onion, and a teaspoon of cumin. I did not add any additional liquid because slow cookers have a tendancy to make foods too watery. I let everything cook until the pork was falling-apart tender. Then I removed the pork, let it cool a bit, and chunked it up while removing any additional fat I discovered. I used my kitchen scissors to cut longish chunks so that there would be no long strings of meat in the final mixture. I refrigerated the broth & meat separately overnight. The next day I scraped off all the solidified fat from the broth and combined it with the meat, once again, in the slow cooker. I added about two cups of low sodium chicken broth, about a tablespoon of salt-free chili powder, and a 1/2 teaspoon of cumin powder to the mixture. I also added about 3 tablespoons of Wondra flour that had been mixed with about 1/4 cup of water. I cooked the meat mixture in the slow cooker on high for another hour, stirring to shred the meat further, until the mixture was quite thick.

Then I started working on the tamale dough. The masa package recipe called for 2/3 cup lard or vegetable shortening. I didn’t want to use either of those ingredients. I don’t have any problems with lard. After all, lard, along with butter & olive oil has been used by human beings for thousands of years. I don’t care much for vegetable shortening, however, because it’s one of those new-fangled fats. But my real problem with both those choices is that they needed to be beaten until fluffy. Hey! I’m way too lazy to beat lard or shortening! The whole point of making tamales in a casserole is to cut down work. So I took a cue from Ginger of the Recipe Exchange. Her tamale dough recipe used oil rather than the solid fats.

Once I mixed up the tamale dough, I pressed half of it into a lightly oiled glass casserole dish. I pressed the mixture as evenly as I could on the bottom and up the sides. I spooned in a generous amount of the pork mixture evenly over the dough. I used a slotted spoon so that the filling wasn’t too juicy. Then I placed the remaining tamale dough over the filling, trying to make the top portion the same thickness as the bottom. I found the top difficult to spread, so I ended up patting out “blobs”of dough in my hands to get the right thickness before putting them on top.

I did not want to just stick the casserole in the oven & bake it. I knew it would crisp up and not have the nice steamed texture of true tamales. So I baked the casserole in a water bath. I filled a large roasting pan with about 2 inches of very hot water and put the uncovered tamale casserole in the water bath. I covered both the casserole & roaster with one layer of heavy duty aluminum foil and stuck the whole thing in the oven. I baked it a little over 45 minutes, until the masa was set. I removed the entire roasting pan, took off the foil, lifted out the casserole, and let it cool slightly before serving with some chili gravy. The verdict? Yes, I had duplicated true tamale flavor without all the work. I was happy!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 3, Issue 11 – March 11, 2011 (original issue date)

Greetings and happy soon-to-be spring!  Spring fever has hit me like a ton of bricks, and although it is still too early to do many outside things, this is the perfect time to finish the indoor projects that have accumulated through the winter months and dream of what could be done outside when the ground warms up.

First of all, sorry for the double mailings this week.  I am finally ready to fire up the new Thrifty Sister email.  If you received this only once, please let me know, as you should have received this from my personal email, as well as the email address.  From this week forward, I will be sending it out via the thrifty sister email.  So please let me know if there are any problems!

Somehow I seem to have collected an assortment of “Women’s Day” articles – but they are all worthy of sharing (or at least I thought so!).  For this week’s article, please check out:

Now for my commentary of the article:  (wow, I feel like I am back in school and doing journal article reviews… somehow this seems much less painless and a more productive use of my time!)

1. Glass Globes from Light Fixtures – did not know you could even put these through a dishwasher!  When it is time to change the light bulb, I pull out my vinegar cleaner and wash up the globes by hand.

2. Shower Heads and Faucet Handles – again, had no idea one would even put them in a dishwasher!  My solution… yeap – Vinegar!  Place a plastic baggie around the showerhead and secure with a rubber band.  I let it sit for part of the afternoon, and then come back to it with an old toothbrush and do a quick scrub to remove the remaining deposits.  Run some water through the showerhead, and presto-change-o!  Done.

3. Plastic Hair Brushes, Combs, Clips and Barrettes – good ideas here!

4. Baseball Hats and Visors – I have heard of doing this but have not been brave enough to run Sean’s hats through the dishwasher.  Has anyone else done this?

5. Plastic Toys

6. Pet Bowls and Toys – I can vouch for running the pet bowls through the machine, it does a great job of getting that miraculous slime that shows up right out of there, and adding a little vinegar helps with the calcium deposits on the water bowls.

7. Kitchen Dish Sponges and Brushes – have heard of this one

8. Kitchen Appliance Parts – read the article for more ideas.

9. Butter Dishes, Sugar Bowls, Spoon Rests, and Salt and Pepper Shakers – wow, this one I took for granted!  (must have needed to find SOMETHING to round out their top ten list!  Ha)

10. Personal Care Items – here’s the teaser… check out the article to find out what they are talking about!

Thanks to Johnny for her recent email about saving paper:

Subject:  Wow!  Paper Everywhere!

Since the chats on paper saving started going through I started really paying attention to how much is printed by everyone at work, you know…. the stuff that ends up in my inbox that I think could have been easier emailed ..Especially the stuff that is read once and tossed….  so I started saving all of those items and all miss prints… and for some reason everyone thinks everything that needs sent around the buildings needs sent in an envelopes!!!  So I saved a larger envelope and within a week of cutting these abandoned papers into fourths the envelope is full of new scrap paper and misc envelopes that I plan to reuse!     I don’t know if I read it in Thrifty Sisters or on the net, but my next stop is the local drug store to pick up some rubber cement!  I’m trimming the papers and getting one edge lined up, putting the heaviest thing I can find in the office on top of them and going to apply several thin layers of rubber cement to the lined up edge to make my own tear off note pad!  it will be my first so we’ll see how it goes….

and for those that like to DIY and have the supplies, here’s some great inspiration while we’re thinking of recycling all the paper in our lives!    Junk Mail Gems recycles all the magazines and junk mail that come our way, everything from beads to pendants and paper weights!  it’s a fun browse 🙂  and the blogs are even more fun 🙂

This week’s recipe is from “Crafty Cathy” and this recipe even came with a loaf that she shared!  It is very good, and freezes very nicely and it a great item to share with others (since the recipe makes 5 loaves!).

Pumpkin Bread, from the “All Because of Grace” Cookbook

4 ½ cups sugar

1 ½ cups canola oil

1 large can of pumpkin (about 3 cups)

6 eggs

5 ¼ cups flour

¼ tsp ground cloves, 1 ½ tsp ground nutmeg and 1 ½ tsp all spice

1 ½ cup raisins, 1 ½ cup walnuts, or 1 ½ cup chocolate chips (optional)

1 ½ cup water

5 loaf pans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a very large mixing bowl or soup pot, combine sugar, oil, pumpkin and eggs.  In a separate bowl, sift and combine the remaining ingredients.  Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.  Add raisins, nuts or chocolate chips if desired.  Add water into the batter and mix well.  Oil pans with cooking spray.  Ladle batter into the pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 3, Issue 12 – March 20, 2011 (original issue date)

From Karen :

Today Jeff and I picked up 5 plants for our house today. I then realized the plants may be my “ionic breeze” air purifier system, after dealing with the plugged ears, headaches, and congestion we call hay fever. This website gives you 10 house plants to know. The Bamboo palm and Rubber Plant look pretty cool. I wouldn’t also mind an aloe vera plant too. So, while this winter takes forever to say good bye, don’t hesitate to say hello to a house plant or too. Or, if you’re like my father, you actually talk to your plants. That’s about as green as they come. Did you know that studies show your chance of getting a cold due to less microbes in the air, your circulation increase, headaches decrease, even creativity increase are all effects by the common house plant? A good rule of thumb is 1 plant per 100 square feet.

Karen – What a neat article!  Over the years, it has been brought to my attention that plants were very beneficial to one’s living spaces and work areas.  I love plants, and I know that the love of plants and gardening has been passed down in our family.  Yes, our Dad does talk to his plants, and his grandson has even named one of his plants that resides in his room.   JJ has a spider plant names Jenkins.   I talk to mine as well, and I am sure that is why they flourish!

I love having an aloe plant around as well – that reminds me that I should pick up a new one.  My old one got very large and I did not repot it soon enough, and it tipped over, fell out of it’s pot and broke into several pieces.  It was never quite the same after that and eventually died.  But it sure came in handy with the minor burns and sun burns!

Here is a neat article about the usage of herbs – again, another nifty grouping of plants that are pretty easy to grow inside, but I find mine do best outside.  They tolerate the indoors during the winter, but thrive much better once returned outside.

In continuation with the weekly “Woman’s Day” articles, I found this article to be very helpful!  It is about procrastination – come on admit it – we ALL procrastinate at some point!  This was a very motivating article and hit home on a few items that I am trying to fix, myself!  Enjoy!

It appears that I have run out of recipes that have been passed along to share.  I will be starting the giant week of rehearsals for Schemckfest this coming week, with opening night this coming weekend!  But with Schmeckfest comes some WONDERFUL food and snacks!  Maybe I can bring home some new recipes to share for next week!

Have a wonderful week, Sisters!  If you are already not a houseplant person, you may want to consider trying out that new adventure.  Remember – the smaller plants are cheaper, and you have the satisfaction of getting to watch them grow!

For previous Thrifty Sister newsletters, please visit – we are re-posting the first issues, so if you have not been with us since the beginning, now is your chance to read it from the start!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 3, Issue 13 – March 27, 2011 (original issue date)

From Our “Big Sis” down South:

I actually read that the real no. 1 air purifying plant is the coffee plant. Cool! — that’s right, a real coffee plant that you can get coffee beans from. But good luck getting one, they are very hard to order and in high demand. Feel free to send me one as a present 🙂
Nice article. I put a link to the plants on facebook. (Yes, I talk to my plants, too.)

–Big Sis

Thanks, Sis for the great advice about a coffee plant.  Now I want one!  Haha

Tanya sent this web site to me a long time ago, and I have some how completely managed to NOT mention it in previous newsletters!  Wow, sorry, Tanya!  It is a very good web site and worth taking a look at – check out .  They are touting their web site as, “A gathering place for folks who celebrate the “culture” in agriculture and share skills like growing, cooking and food preservation.”  Sounds like it could be right up the alley of many of us!

Joan filled me in on the “secret” of making your own foaming soap!  This is just too good not to share, and like many of you, I have been curious on how to make this work.  Basically, foaming soap is a watered down version of regular soap.

If you still have a foaming soap dispenser, Joan’s recipe calls for filling it about a fourth of the way with regular soap.  You can use Dawn if you would like to use it on dishes.  If you would prefer to use this in the bathroom, you can use hand soaps, or even the fancy, good smelling soaps from places like Bath and Body – or you can add your own oils to regular hand soap as well!  Fill the rest of the container with water.  At this point, one tests it out – if the foam is too runny, you need more soap.  If the foam is too thick, add more water.  This is fantastic!  I am so glad that Joan was able to share this with us!  I have not done this yet, but I have it on my to-do list!  I would imagine that it would greatly reduce the overall amount of soap that one would consume!

And in case you were recently thinking about some of this New Year’s resolutions that you have not been maintaining, here is a wonderful Woman’s Day article about resolutions that you and your family can do throughout the year:

What a medley of information!  This week you should be well on your way to purifying, your air with houseplants, being able to read about homegrown exhilarations (especially if you are dreaming about that amazing garden that you will be growing this summer!).  You will be able to save on soap and still keep your hands washed while possibly setting some new attainable goals for yourself for the rest of 2011.  What more could a Thrifty Sister want?!?!?  How about a new treat to feed your family with!

I brought these bars to rehearsal last week, and they were a hit both there and at home!  The second recipe is something that I plan to bring this week for rehearsal.

Rainforest Chewy Bars

¼ cup honey

2 Tbsp butter

1pkg marshmallows (10 oz)

6 cups Honey Bunches of Oats cereal

1 cup dried apricots or cranberries, or your favorite dried fruit

1 cup chopped almonds

½ cup sunflower seed kernels

Heat honey and butter in a large pan, stirring until well blended.  Add marshmallows and continue to stir.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.  Press cereal mixture firmly into a greased 9×13 inch pan and allow to cool before cutting.

Chocolate Popcorn Trail Mix

2 squares of bakers semi-sweet baking chocolate

2 cups of popped popcorn

2 cups of spoon sized shredded wheat cereal

1 cup dried cranberries

Melt chocolate and stir until melted.  Add popcorn and cereal and toss to coat evenly.  Spread on a large piece of waxed paper to cool.  Toss with cranberries before serving.

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 3, Issue 14 – April 2, 2011 (original issue date)

Ah, spring is finally starting to fill the air around here (or at least today it feels spring-y, we will have to see what tomorrow brings us!).  For many of us, spring is time to clean the winter’s grime off our windows and allow the glorious sunshine to rain in upon us!

Here is a very interesting article about the use of vinegar and washing our windows:

It brings out some great tips about streaks and using your homemade products.  One of the best sentences that this article had was, “that years of using commercial products left a residue on windows that wasn’t adequately handled by the vinegar”.  Hmmm… very attention-grabbing!  This article tells you how to cut through the old residue and how to tweak your vinegar solution to help it attack very dirty windows.  More joys of vinegar for everyone!

With spring upon us, I am sure that you have all checked your battery operated smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.  However, what are our options for recycling those old batteries?

Did you realize that Americans buy 3 billion batteries per year?  By choosing to recycle your batteries, it prevents the battery toxins from leaching into soil, waterways, and the air.  From lithium to lead, battery companies can recover the chemicals and reuse them – I just read that 60% of the world’s lead supply comes from recycled car batteries alone!  For those of you who have businesses that recycle batteries, take advantage of those offers!  I know that places like Lowes and Batteries Plus offer this free service.

You can also check out these web sites for other routes of recycling:

And here are some messages from some of our readers:

From Dany:

Too funny Lora! I just tonight used up the last of my foaming hand soap. I wondered if I put some other type of soap in the container if it would foam. I pumped in about 10 squirts of soap and added water.  It totally worked. I’m just now seeing your email! Funny how that happens. I like the idea of using the good smelly stuff. I’m going to
try that.

From Jerad:

These sites have info and seeds for coffee plants:

Just in case you were wondering what you were going to do this week, I am pleased to present some wonderfully fun options of recycling your batteries and cleaning your windows!  Ha!  Riveting, I know, but every little bit helps.  You can always dream about the upcoming spring garden that you will be planting as you prepare your windows for some amazing garden views!

Have a fun and thrifty week, sisters!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 3, Issue 15 – April 10, 2011 (original issue date)

So now that your windows have been cleaned and you have all recycled your batteries, what more could we possibly do this week?  Ah, let me take a moment to stop laughing!  I don’t know about you, but I did NOT get my windows cleaned this past week!  It’s on the to-do list – really!

Although, here is a great reason to start going through your closets and cleaning out your old flip flops:    “Starting April 22 (Earth Day) and running through May 21, 2011, Old Navy shoppers can deposit their used flip flops in colorful collection bins found inside any Old Navy store.  TerraCycle will then recycle the flip-flops into four playgrounds which will be donated to communities around the country.” (Thanks Jennifer A for posting this on Face Book!)

I think that the title of this next “Woman’s Day” article sums it up:

These tib-bits are from Cathy (I love these little tid-bit type emails!  I have not tried all of them, but if you find something that works, let us know!)

–         Take your bananas apart when you get home from the store.  If you leave them connected at the stem, they ripen faster.

–         Store your opened chunks of cheese in aluminum foil. It will stay fresh much longer and not mold!

–         Peppers with 3 bumps on the bottom are sweeter and better for eating.  Peppers with 4 bumps on the bottom are firmer and better for cooking.

–         Add a teaspoon of water when frying ground beef.  It will help pull the grease away from the meat while cooking.  (This I have done and it works great!)

–         To make scrambled eggs or omelets rich add a couple of spoonfuls of sour cream, cream cheese, or heavy cream in and then beat them up.

–         For a cool brownie treat, make brownies as directed. Melt Andes mints in double broiler and pour over warm brownies.  Let set for a wonderful minty frosting.

–         Add garlic immediately to a recipe if you want a light taste of garlic and at the end of the recipe if your want a stronger taste of garlic.

–         Leftover snickers bars from Halloween make a delicious dessert.  Simply chop them up with the food chopper. Peel, core and slice a few apples. Place them in a baking dish and sprinkle the chopped candy bars over the apples. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes!!!  Serve alone or with vanilla ice cream. Yummm!

–         Reheat Pizza – Heat up leftover pizza in a nonstick skillet on top of the stove, set heat to med-low and heat until warm. This keeps the crust crispy and no soggy micro pizza. I saw this on the cooking channel and it really works.

–         Easy Deviled Eggs – Put cooked egg yolks in a zip lock bag. Seal, mash till they are all broken up.  Add remainder of ingredients, reseal, keep mashing it up mixing thoroughly, and cut the tip of the baggy, squeeze mixture into egg. Just throw bag away when done easy clean up.

–         Expanding Frosting When you buy a container of cake frosting from the store, whip it with your mixer for a few minutes. You can double it in size.  You get to frost more cake/cupcakes with the same amount. You also eat less sugar and calories per serving.

–         Reheating refrigerated bread – To warm biscuits, pancakes, or muffins that were refrigerated, place them in A microwave with a cup of water. The increased moisture will keep the food Moist and help it reheat faster.

–         Newspaper weeds away Start putting in your plants; work the nutrients in your soil. Wet newspapers, Put layers around the plants overlapping as you go cover with mulch and forget about weeds. Weeds will get through some gardening plastic they will not get through wet newspapers.  (This I have done and it works like a charm – I learned this from Elizabeth D!

–         Broken Glass – Use a wet cotton ball or Q-t ip t o pick up the small shards of glass you can’t see easily.

–         No More Mosquitoes Place a dryer sheet in your pocket. It will keep the mosquitoes away.

–         Squirrel Away! –  To keep squirrels from eating your plants, sprinkle your plants with cayenne pepper. The cayenne pepper doesn’t hurt the plant and the squirrels won’t come near it. (Sue suggests grated bar soap for the bunnies!)

–         Flexible vacuum – To get something out of a heat register or under the fridge add an empty paper towel roll or empty gift-wrap roll to your vacuum. It can be bent or flattened to get in narrow openings.

–         Reducing Static Cling Pin a small safety pin to the seam of your slip and you will not have a clingy skirt or dress. Same thing works with slacks that cling when wearing panty hose.  Place pin in seam of slacks and. At DA! … Static is gone. (REALLY?!?! I am totally going to try this one!)

–         Measuring Cups – Before you pour sticky substances into a measuring cup fill with hot water. Dump out the hot water, but don’t dry the cup.  Next, add your ingredient, such As peanut butter, and watch how easily it comes right out. (Nifty trick!)

–         Foggy Windshield?  Hate foggy windshields? Buy a chalkboard eraser and keep it in the glove box of your car When the windows fog, rub with the eraser! Works better than a cloth!

–         Re opening envelopes – If you seal an envelope and then realize you forgot to include something inside, just place your sealed envelope in the freezer for an hour or two. Viola! It unseals easily.

–         Conditioner – Use your hair conditioner to shave your legs. It’s cheaper than shaving cream and leaves your legs really smooth. It’s also a great way to use up the conditioner you bought but didn’t like when you tried it in your hair.

–         Goodbye Fruit  Flies – To get rid of pesky fruit flies, take  a small glass, fill it 1/2′ with Apple Cider  Vinegar and 2 drops of dish washing liquid; mix  well. You will find those flies drawn to the cup and gone forever!

–         Get Rid of Ants – Put small piles of cornmeal where you see ants. They eat it, take it ‘home,’ can’t digest it so it kills them. It may take a week or so, especially if it rains, but it works and you don’t have the worry about pets or small children being harmed! (This will definitely try!!!)

–         INFO ABOUT CLOTHES  DRYERS (I do this all the time) The heating unit went out on my dryer! The gentleman that fixes things around the house for us told us that he wanted to show us something and he went over to the dryer and pulled out the lint filter. It was clean. (I always clean the lint from the filter after every load clothes.) He told us that he wanted to show us something; he took the filter over to the sink and ran hot water over it. The lint filter is made of a mesh material. I’m sure you know what your dryer’s lint filter looks like.  Well…..  The hot water just sat on top of the mesh! It didn’t go through it at all! He told us that dryer sheets cause a film over that mesh that’s what burns out the heating unit.You can’t SEE the film, but it’s there. It’s what is in the dryer r sheets to make your clothes soft and static free … that nice fragrance too. You know how they can feel waxy when you take them out of the box. Well this stuff builds up on your clothes and on your lint screen. This is also what causes dryer units to potentially burn your house down with it! He said the best way to keep  your dryer working for a very longtime (and to keep your  electric bill lower) is to take that filter out and wash it  with hot soapy water and an old toothbru sh (or other brush)  at least every six months. He said that makes the life of the dryer at least twice as long! How about that!?!

Have a fun and thrifty week, sisters!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 3, Issue 16 – April 17, 2011 (original issue date)

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters!  I was sending in a retro Thrifty Sister newsletter and thought how timely this previous information was, considering the last tid-bit from the preceding week’s newsletter was about the importance of keeping your dryer lint screen clean.

This is re-posted from the Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 1, Issue 12 – Original issue date: Aug 31, 2008:

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.

This from Johnny:

I haven’t used the dryer sheets in over a year, I switched completely over to the dryer balls to keep the clothes bounced around and they do a pretty good job, sometimes there’s static but not enough to switch back to laying out the bucks every time I turn around for dryer sheets!  More $$$ saved in the long run and less stuff to toss!  Only problem I have is a 2 year old who steals them from the dryer and runs off to play with the balls! 🙂   And now I know to toss the rest of my unused box in the camping box for mosquitoes!!! 🙂

Don’t forget that this coming Friday is what I am calling “Good Earth Day” (how fun to have Good Friday and Earth Day on the same day!)  “Starting April 22 (Earth Day) and running through May 21, 2011, Old Navy shoppers can deposit their used flip flops in colorful collection bins found inside any Old Navy store.  TerraCycle will then recycle the flip-flops into four playgrounds which will be donated to communities around the country.”

And Johnny has an Earth Day challenge for all of us.  Check out this web site and read the blog about buying bottled water.  The challenge is to use your own container and see how much money you save!  (I know, there are just times when you don’t have your water bottle with you, and you NEED some water.  But then choose to reuse your newly purchased water bottle!)

I am in, and accept you challenge, Johnny!  Who’s with me?

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 3, Issue 17 – May 1, 2011 (original issue date)

Greeting Thrifty Sisters!  I hope that everyone had a lovely Easter last Sunday, and Happy May Day to everyone!  Don’t forget that Mother’s Day is in one week, so start planning something special for your moms!

If you are like me, I have spring/garden fever so badly I can hardly stand it!  But, alas, the Dakota weather just is not cooperating with my gardening desires.  But it can’t hurt to read about what I COULD be doing outside, right?!?!  Check out this web site for some great garden ideas.

And don’t forget that Old Navy shoppers can deposit their used flip flops in colorful collection bins found inside any Old Navy store.  TerraCycle will then recycle the flip-flops into four playgrounds which will be donated to communities around the country.”

Have a wonderful and thrifty week everyone!  I am going to go stand by my window and wish I were outside gardening this morning as I contemplate which pair of wool socks I am going to need to wear.

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 3, Issue 18 – May 22, 2011 (original issue date)

Welcome back, Thrifty Sisters!  Sorry for the break in the newsletters.  What a whirlwind this spring has been!  Concerts, concerts, concerts!  Ah, I am living the good life, that is FOR SURE!  Unfortunately, I have let some of my side projects slide, such as my newsletter and my garden.  But I am back in the saddle and things should be shaping up in the garden and I am really looking forward to the summer newsletters!

Cathy sent me this info last summer and I see that the MOVM (museum of visual materials) in Sioux Falls is continuing this project.  Every first Wednesday of the month, they have a ladies craft night and each craft is something recycled.  Check out their web site for more info and contact info if you have questions.!upcoming-events

Speaking of “old” posts, Karen sent this one last May, and somehow I missed posting this info… so since it is May, again, here it goes – From Karen:

Wow, it’s been a while since I have written one of these, so I definitely know I haven’t been keeping up with weekly thrifty deals.  So, I would like to propose that the clearance rack at the Home Depot for flowers and plants do have some flowers that aren’t  completely dead and some are just the black swans waiting to be the beauty, or however that saying goes.

On a related thrifty sadness, although the economy says it’s going up, you know it’s bad when your local Dollar Store is closing. Last week I was desperately waiting for pay day and bought $3 worth of toilet paper, which came in more than handy. Do you have a desperate purchase that you would like to share?

Thanks, Karen – many places have what Dad calls “garage sale plants” – just like you described.  The best are getting the cheap perennials – they may not do much this year, but next year, the garage sale price you paid for them will reward you handsomely.  I plan to hit the local green houses today.  With the sad and cold spring we have had, I am expecting to find some deals floating around – especially at Lewis Drug and Lowes.  Lowes always has garage sale plants.  Also, many of our very fine green houses have them, too – you just have to ask where they stash those sad plants at.  One year Dad discovered a dumpster full of plants at the local Lewis, and they we just chucking them out at the end of the season.  The people at the garden center were more than happy to help Dad get them out of the dumpster and he brought them home – not a bad way to spruce up your yard and empty planters – FOR FREE!!!!!

Speaking of free – it is time to renew your commitment to your compost bin.  My lovely boys bought me a real, store bought, turning compost bin for Mother’s Day!  I am SO excited!!!  Again, with the recent flurry of activities, I have not had a chance to even put it together or find it a new home, but that is on my list of things to do this week.  Composting is super easy – yard waste and kitchen waste.  The rules are you can put things that are not meat, no oil, no butter, and if it smells too green, add kitchen waste, if it smells to kitchen-y add more green.  Once you have the right mix, your compost will not stink.  I promise!  I will make sure to add more composting suggestions over the next few weeks.  Oh wow – I am SO excited!  A real store bought composter – and it spins!!!!!  Yeah!

Happy spring and planting and composting to everyone and remember to recycle what you can!  Not only is it fun and helpful, but every little bit helps!  Here is a little story that I am going to leave you with.

JJ joined track this past spring, and during the track season discovered that he has shin splints.  RHS has an athletic trainer that was able to work with JJ and help him ice his shins.  One day JJ brought the bags home.  They were still full of ice and instead of just dumping them out, I suggested that he use them at home – which he did until the bag developed a leak.  I was excited to see that the bag had a recycle number on it, so we promptly added our bags to the recycle bin.  JJ mentioned to his athletic trainer that the bags were recyclable, but she sort of dismissed his suggestion to recycle.  Then she decided to count how many of those bags she used on a day-to-day basis.  She was astonished to find out how many plastic bags were being thrown out every day.  Within that week, she had a recycle box set up and started asking the kids to recycle their bags.  One comment, leads to greater actions for everyone!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 3, Issue 19 – May 29, 2011 (original issue date)

Happy Memorial Day Weekend to all of our Thrifty Sisters.  Thank you to those who have/are serving for our country, and make sure to thank those you know who are/have served.  What a simple thing to say, and yet, when you tell a Veteran “Thank you”, it is very meaningful.

I was able to put my new compost bin together last night.  Whee!  And to watch that baby spin and spin!  Wow – am I super excited about this!  I have also been able to take time and “find” my veggie garden (yes, the weeds were very embarrassing and awful!)  and add my bin of compost from last year.

Now the garden is in good shape and ready to plant.  I am in the final stages of hardening off my baby plants that I started from seed this past spring.  Anyone in need of tomato plants?  I have many more plants than I plan on planting, although NONE of my green pepper seeds sprouted.  A couple of the hot peppers sprouted so I will have some of those, but will be trekking out to the stores to pick out some pepper plants.

For those of you who are adventurous in your edible/useable weeds, this is a neat article that I wanted to share with you:

For those of you who are not so hot about eating the weeds from your lawn, but are still interested in saving money, here are 46 ways to cut expenses in your home.

And finally, a new installment of “Life’s Lesson From This Week”:

When going outside to do things such as pull weeds, make sure to put on sun screen across the lower portion of your back where your shirt inevitably must go up, and all of the sudden your shorts must drop…. I guess that must be my plumber’s tan.  Sorry to all of the neighbors that must have had to witness that this past week!  Wowie… that is a sore spot for a burn!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 3, Issue 20 – June 5, 2011 (original issue date)

From Karen –

Thanks Lora,

Speaking of weeds, let’s talk about lawn maintenance and gardening:

I traditionally go out to my lawn every year and take the back of a hammer and strike it into my dandelion plants, bringing up the very long and thick roots.  I think this sounds ludicrous, but it’s the only strong enough tool I know that will take the root with it.  I follow Lora’s advise and just put some grass seed in those holes.  And this is my weed killer-a hammer.

Around the northwest moss is a killer on lawns.  To this date, the only thing I know that works is just replacing your whole lawn.  The moss killer doesn’t event do the trick, because moss spreads like the plague and moss killer just may not get ever single piece of bottum dwelling moss.  Let me know if you have moss, what works?

Yesterday, I was killing some poisonous plants around the yard with some left over weed killer.  Lora, you recommend Vinegar, right?  I’ll have to get a bottle sprayer and try it.

Does anyone know what would clean concrete?  How to get rid of clover grass?  Any other gardening ideas.

And on a random note, I saw my little runt of an orange cat attacking my tulip yesterday.  I yelled his name, “Cheeto!!!” and then he attacked my Iris.  I then yelled his name and the he attacked Violet’s stomach who was taking a nap on the yard.  Whatta loser…attacking tulips-can you believe he’s lived this long out in the wilderness?


From Lora –

oooooo yeah!!!!!!!!  Karen is back!

Seriously, try spraying vinegar on everything that you don’t want.  I don’t have moss, so I am curious how vinegar would work on moss.  It sure does the trick on the thistles and dandelions!  The back of a hammer is a great idea for dandelion pulling!!  I have a dandelion puller – the same idea – there is a forked end, and you plunge it into the ground next to the dandelion and it loosens up the root system so you can just pull it out, root and all.  (In theory, but there are times where I don’t get it all).  They are about $1 to $3 – you can get fancier, spendier ones, but I just make sure that the handle and the metal piece are sturdy and won’t bend the first time you go to yank out a dandelion.

I was just reading an article about lawn care and moss was mentioned – it was in the Argus Leader –

I picked up a couple of nice sprayers @ Menards for 99 cents each last spring.  They are the nice big heavy duty hand bottle sprayers.  Then I found this awesome hand sprayer.  You pump it, and spray away – about $6 @ Menards.  I love it.  I just fill it full of vinegar, pump away and spray.

Poor Cheeto – he was just playing.  Ha – that is funny that he was going after your tulips and irises – they must be a major threat in your yard!  haha

Love, Lora.

Here’s a nifty little reminder about using our modern convinces – remember that you really can SAVE water if you run your dishwasher when it is full.  Only running the dishwasher when comfortably packed saves you about $40 a year.  Just don’t pack it in too tight or your dishes might not get fully cleaned, and nobody wants to run the washer twice for the same load!

Also, try to use appliances like clothes washers and dryers when they are completely loaded to avoid wasting energy and water.  Remember, your clothes washer’s going to use the same amount of energy whether you throw in 1 t-shirt or 20; if you run it only when it’s filled (and use the correct water level settings), you could conserve more than 3,400 gallons of water per year.

And with that, happy water conserving and weed killing this week!