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 http://www.tiesthatmatter.com/about.php – 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 ebaygreenteam.com.

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.  http://www.diylife.com/2008/05/23/necktie-coffee-sleeve-a-fab-fathers-day-project/
  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 chairhttp://www.thriftyfun.com/tf881283.tip.html
  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.  http://sewingwithneckties.blogspot.com/
  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. http://www.buygreen.com/dognecktiecollar.aspx
  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.  http://www.prairiemoonquilts.com/Necktie_Social.html http://www.tiesthatmatter.com/peopletied.php

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 – http://www.bankrate.com/finance/financial-literacy/21st-century-job-hunting-techniques-1.aspx?ic_id=nwsltr_frug_20100601

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 http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/852/t/2088/signUp.jsp?key=4410

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.  http://www.chej.org/publications/PVCGuide/PVCwallet.pdf

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 (http://www.care2.com/c2c/group/ThriftySister) 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 http://www.prairienewsletter.org.  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:  thrifty@prairienewsletter.org – 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 http://www.prairienewsletter.org – 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!  http://lifeorganizers.com/Organize-Your-Home

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 freecycle.com 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.  http://www.bankrate.com/finance/personal-finance/5-frugal-lessons-from-the-depression-1.aspx

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 http://www.prairielandherbs.com.  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 prairienewsletter.org  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 thrifty@prairienewsletter.org 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!   http://www.junkmailgems.com/Product.html    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 http://www.prairienewsletter.org – 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 http://www.homegrown.org/ .  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:  http://www.shuzsociety.com/program-recycles-flip-flops-to-build-community-playgrounds/    “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.”  http://www.shuzsociety.com/program-recycles-flip-flops-to-build-community-playgrounds/

And Johnny has an Earth Day challenge for all of us.  Check out this web site http://www.thefrugalgirl.com/2011/03/some-bottled-water-thoughts-and-maybe-some-rants/ 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.”  http://www.shuzsociety.com/program-recycles-flip-flops-to-build-community-playgrounds/

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.  http://www.sfmvm.com/#!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:  http://www.care2.com/greenliving/the-healing-weeds-in-your-yard.html

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.  http://www.bankrate.com/nltrack/news/cheap/331Ways/Home/331ways-house.asp?ec_id=brmint_ns_frugal_20090512

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 – http://www.argusleader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2011105240307

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!

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