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 prairienewsletter.org, 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!    http://familyfun.go.com/crafts/hula-hoop-rug-995304/

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: http://www.ohmyhandmade.com/2010/contributors/homemade-sidewalk-chalk/

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”:  http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/article/0,,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!  http://www.rd.com/home/6-problems-you-can-solve-with-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, http://www.sfmvm.com/#!upcoming-events

LADIES CRAFT NIGHT

AGES: Adult

Wednesday, July 6

5:30-7pm

FREE

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 http://involuntaryhousewife.wordpress.com/2011/06/15/thrifty-cleansing/ 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:

http://www.bankrate.com/finance/smart-spending/10-ways-to-save-money-on-your-utility-bill-1.aspx?ic_id=nwsltr_frug_20110517

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.  http://www.care2.com/greenliving/top-8-sunscreen-excuses.html

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.  http://www.care2.com/greenliving/12-foods-with-super-healing-powers.html

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 – http://www.sfmvm.com/#!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!? http://www.moscowfood.coop/archive/oilcloth.html

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.

http://www.gomjsi.com/products/overview/hydroright

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:

http://www.getngreen.com – this site has all sorts of lunch packing items!!!

http://www.wrapnmat.com – 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 Woodheat.org. 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:

http://www.startribune.com/local/126895018.html

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:

http://www.herbcompanion.com/health/natural-healing-Herbal-house-keeping.aspx

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 ebaygreenteam.com.

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” – http://www.bankrate.com/finance/personal-finance/jump-start-savings-with-no-spend-month-1.aspx )

– 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: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/25/dining/25curi.html?pagewanted=all

Speaking of interesting web sites here is a neat-o web site, sent from Johnny, about reusing all sorts of things concerning condiments!

http://www.reuseit.com/take-action/diy-resources/diy-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:  http://www.marthastewart.com/276965/halloween

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.

Ingredients:

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.)

Directions:

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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kuBrdcqEiXk

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?!
http://www.care2.com/greenliving/leaf-blowers-the-great-debate.html

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.

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/what-to-do-with-dead-leaves.html?page=2

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!)

http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/recipe-collections-favorites/delicious-pumpkin-recipes-00000000021334/index.html

Here is another article that is worth the read!

http://earth911.com/news/2009/11/16/8-easy-green-thanksgiving-tips/

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!)

http://familyoffarmers.blogspot.com/2011/11/liquid-hand-soap-diy.html

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

SUGARED PECANS:

1 egg white

2 cups coarsely chopped pecans

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 c. packed brown sugar

PUMPKIN MOUSSE:

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

ENJOY!!!!!!!!!!

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.

http://www.doityourself.com/stry/memoboard

http://blog.robertscrafts.com/2011/05/photo-board.html

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:

http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/5524/list/DIY-Projects–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:

http://log-homes.thefuntimesguide.com/2007/03/life_expectancy_of_homes.php

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.

http://www.guide-to-houseplants.com/christmas-plants.html

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:

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/8savory-ramekin-ready-dishes.html

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!

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/3-healing-scents-for-the-holiday-season.html?page=1

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!

http://www.countryliving.com/homes/how-to-get-the-look/all-about-pinecones-1206

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.

http://www.naturalhomemagazine.com/2007-11-01/Try_This.aspx

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.

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/5-eco-friendly-holiday-gift-wrap-ideas.html?page=1

And of course, how could I leave my sisters this week without a new recipe to try?!  Check out this recipe (http://www.care2.com/greenliving/healthier-holiday-chocolate-chip-cookies.html) – 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:

http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/christmas_tree.html

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

Directions:
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.
Directions:
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!!!! 🙂

http://www.daciaray.com/?p=38 – I’m short so I’m forever ruining hems! :)”

And here is a share from Sue about “75 Extraordinary Uses for Baking Soda”: http://lifehackery.com/2008/07/22/home-4/

In addition, for those of you who enjoy reading blogs, here is a directory for the best green blogs out there. (Again, thanks, Johnny!) http://www.bestgreenblogs.com/

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.
Directions:
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:

https://www.directmail.com/directory/mail_preference/

http://www.catalogchoice.org/

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:

http://www.volunteerguide.org/minutes/service-projects/junk-mail?gclid=CLHqoLXC0q0CFUbCKgod1BWxkw

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt063.shtm

http://consumerist.com/2008/03/8-ways-to-opt-out-of-junk-mail-lists.html

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/05/10/earlyshow/contributors/susankoeppen/main20061441.shtml

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: pantene.com/naturefusion

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!

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/diy-beach-stone-gate-clasp.html

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.

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/10-not-so-green-home-trends.html?page=1

Tomato scrubs, anyone?  http://feelgoodstyle.com/2010/09/20/all-natural-tomato-scrub-for-healthy-skin-video/  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.  http://www.vinegartips.com/

Looking for a new scrumptious dessert or treat option?  Check out this web page for a pear walnut bundt cake – it sounds divine!

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/pear-walnut-bundt-cake.html

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! http://www.prairienewsletter.org) 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

http://natural-products.suite101.com/article.cfm/washing_clothes_for_pennies

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

http://tipnut.com/10-homemade-laundry-soap-detergent-recipes/

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!  http://www.frugalupstate.com/general-frugality/using-homemade-laundry-detergent-in-an-he-washing-machine/

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.”  http://www.sunflower-soap.com/Thrifty_DIY_Laundry_Solutions-1.pdf

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!  http://www.diynatural.com/simple-easy-fast-effective-jabs-homemade-laundry-detergent/

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:

http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/southwestern-stuffed-peppers-recipe.htm

Southwestern Stuffed Peppers

Cook Time 4 to 6 hours, Prep Time 15 minutes, YIELD Makes 4 servings
INGREDIENTS:

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

PREPARATION:

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: http://greenupgrader.com/6085/craft-project-treat-yourself-with-home-made-sugar-scrub/

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:  http://www.prairienewsletter.org/Vol%202%20Iss%204.pdf

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:

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/think-like-grandma-and-save-money.html?page=1

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:

http://www.thingsyourgrandmotherknew.com

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 www.1saleaday.com  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!!

http://www.marthastewart.com/274244/saint-patricks-day-recipes/@center/307033/spring-holidays#/282499?xsc=eml_msl_2012_03_08&om_rid=NskLFJ&om_mid=_BPWL26B8hJq5rU

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:

http://www.instructables.com/id/Waterproof-Dryer-Lint-Fire-Starter/

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

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/22-uses-for-lemon-peels.html

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!

http://mrbrownthumb.blogspot.com/2009/01/paper-tube-seed-pot-holder.html

http://www.nwedible.com/2011/02/garbage-made-useful-homemade.html

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!)http://thenatos.blogspot.com/2011/05/popcorn-in-paper-bag-buh-rilliant.html

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 🙂 http://2littlehooligans.blogspot.com/2011/05/how-to-make-butter-in-canning-jar.html

And over here you can make hot dog buns! 🙂 http://annies-eats.com/2011/05/26/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: http://familyfun.go.com/easter/easter-crafts/easter-egg-decorating/a-herd-of-eggimals-675231/

Thanks for the newsletter, it is such a nice way to know how you are doing.

Cathy

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:

http://haroldsphoto.com/books_calendars.asp

http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/family/scrapbook-crafts1.htm

How about a crafty video?!?!

http://www.viddler.com/v/4fbca695

***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!

http://www.marthastewart.com/275369/decorating-easter-eggs/@center/276968/easter#/893176?xsc=eml_msl_2012_03_22&om_rid=NskLFJ&om_mid=_BPayJTB8hbAbMm

I love Martha… she has some great Easter Brunch ideas, as well.

http://www.marthastewart.com/335050/easter-brunch-recipes/@center/276968/easter

Does Martha ever stop… these cookies are adorable – the must see event are the Easter Puzzle cookies!

http://www.marthastewart.com/335049/easter-cookies/@center/276968/easter?xsc=eml_msl_2012_03_22&om_rid=NskLFJ&om_mid=_BPayJTB8hbAbMm

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

http://www.thingsyourgrandmotherknew.com/2011/02/most-beautiful-cake-you-can-make.html

Have eggshells?  Here is a great article about how to repurpose eggshells:

http://www.littlehouseliving.com/what-to-do-with-eggshells.html

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: http://www.greenlivingtips.com/#newsletter 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:

http://afrugalsimplelife.com/2011/09/07/cream-of-whatever-soup-substitute/

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!  http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/home/four-ways-to-use-baking-soda-in-your-garden.htm

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.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/21/earth-day-2012-events_n_1440863.html

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: http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=sprout+jar+lids&tag=googhydr-20&index=aps&hvadid=6749406981&hvpos=1t1&hvexid=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=344133763249433701&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=e&ref=pd_sl_3kkm7xe8n3_e

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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xoaIpZZfcFc

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 http://www.care2.com/greenliving/10-reasons-to-eat-sprouts.html?page=1

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 http://www.idtheftcenter.org./ 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. http://www.bankrate.com/finance/personal-finance/10-grocery-savings-tips-from-store-managers.aspx?ic_id=nwsltr_frug_20120403#slide=1  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! http://www.recyclebank.com/live-green/cast-iron-greenest-choice-cooking/#.T51f1dkUJCp

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! http://www.punchbowl.com/p/environmentally-friendly-graduation-party-planning

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!  http://www.ehow.com/how_5039852_celebrate-school-graduation-party-ideas.html 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! http://arnold.patch.com/articles/11-non-gift-ideas-for-mothers-day

And here is a list of super cute DIY projects that you and the kids can do together – of course, from Martha!

http://www.marthastewart.com/275133/handmade-gifts-for-mothers-day/@center/307033/spring-holidays

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:

http://www.igive.com/

http://www.goodsearch.com/

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 www.foodinjars.com – 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: http://www.foodinjars.com/2011/05/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!  http://www.smoothieweb.com/

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: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/homemade-chai-tea-recipe.html

For at home Chai follow these simple steps:

Ingredients
-Loose black tea or a few tea bags
-Milk
-Water
-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: http://savingtools.com/tips/cutting-down-summer-air-conditioning-costs

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!) http://www.care2.com/greenliving/12-foods-with-super-healing-powers.html

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!

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