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

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

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

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

10 Food Swaps to Lower Blood Pressure

By Blythe Copeland – http://www.care2.com/greenliving/10-food-swaps-to-lower-blood-pressure.html#ixzz1xOd1zjxl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_make_chicken_stock/

How to Make Chicken Stock

Method 1. Leftover Chicken Bones

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

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

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

3 Remove the bones and strain the stock.

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/9-most-picturesque-u-s-national-parks.html

If you are serious about visiting a national park, don’t forget to look up the state or region that you are traveling to by using this handy web site: http://www.nps.gov/findapark/index.htm

In fact, don’t be shy about checking out your state parks, as well!  The South Dakota web site to find parks is here: http://gfp.sd.gov/state-parks/find-a-park/default.aspx

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

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

Here is the forwarded message from Britt:

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

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

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

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

Shortly after I sent out the newsletter last week, I happened to come across the original post of the cooler corn – http://laurarash.hubpages.com/hub/How-to-Make-Cooler-Corn

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

For those that have always wanted to try their hand at making jelly and jams, or for those of you who are very “wise” at this endeavor, I wanted to share this video – Gosh – It makes it look SO easy!  And who wouldn’t want to have fresh homemade jelly in about a minute and a half!  (This clip is brought to you by our new friends at Food in Jars.) http://www.foodinjars.com/2012/06/strawberry-rhubarb-jam-the-daily/

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

“15 Ways to Reuse Newspaper”
Read more: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/15-ways-to-reuse-newspaper.html#ixzz1yiw7IhIC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For many of us, the summer temps are climbing and the humidity is rising.  Time for the reminder of how good water can be for the body! This article (http://www.care2.com/greenliving/10-reasons-to-drink-more-water-that-you-may-not-know.html?page=1 ) has some very good reasons to pick up your water bottle and chug away!  (water, people… water is what I am talking about…)

Johnny just sent this great article about financial tune-ups.  This provides a list of things that should be done yearly at least and lists ideas on how to cut bills to save money.  A very interesting article, and worth the read! http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/25/your-money/25INTRO.html

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

Crasin Salad

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

1 cup gorganzola cheese

1/2 cup craisins

1 cup cashews

1 apple, cut -up

1 pear, cut-up

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

Dressing

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup lemon juice

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. finely chopped onions

1 tsp. dijon mustard

2/3 cup olive oil

1 Tbsp. poppy seeds

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

“15 Unexpected Uses for Retail Catalogs”, By Philip Schmidt, Hometalk, http://www.care2.com/greenliving/unexpected-uses-for-retail-catalogs.html?page=1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/6-reasons-why-never-purchase-202002517.html

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

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

Although, I will leave you with the following homemade recipe (and read the article – this author is a hoot!)  http://www.care2.com/greenliving/homemade-maraschino-cherries.html#ixzz2036rqr9Z

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

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

Directions

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

With there still being a few weeks of summer left prior to school starting, some of you may still be able to sneak away for summer vacations.  Make sure to read the following article about how to prep your home for cash saving ideas before you hit the road – http://earth911.com/news/2012/07/20/5-steps-to-prep-your-home-before-vacation/

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, guys!

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

I don’t know if any of you subscribe to the Earth 911 newsletter, but recently they had some very cleaver ideas and crafts with mason jars. If you go to http://earth911.com/news/2012/07/09/photos-stunning-mason-jar-crafts/?utm_source=Earth911.com+Weekly+Newsletter&utm_campaign=52e411cf0c-_11_Kickstart_Mason+Jars_7_16_2012&utm_medium=email they provide 10 DYI projects.  Some of my favorites are the herb garden, the bathroom organizer, the luminaries, and lamps. Very clever ideas!

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

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

If all our sportswear will one day contain recycled elements, will we see a time when we can walk into an athletic gear store and swap some bottles for a credit towards a new pair of shoes? We hope so.” To read more: http://earth911.com/news/2012/07/13/nike-commits-to-recycled-materials/?utm_source=Earth911.com+Weekly+Newsletter&utm_campaign=060deba884-_2_WTF+Olympians_7_13_2012&utm_medium=email

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

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

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

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

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

Makes 2 dozen cookies.

(this recipe was found at: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/green-dish-zucchini-chocolate-chip-cookies.html check out this site, as there is a link to dark chocolate and zucchini cake!)

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

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

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

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

Here is an article about the back to school “green” options out there. http://www.care2.com/greenliving/green-back-to-school.html

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

Last night I had the opportunity to run into a friend who shared how she enjoyed reading the newsletters and we had a lovely discussion about homemade laundry soaps.  We talked about were to find supplies and which laundry soap we preferred – remarkably, we both make and use the dry laundry soap since the liquid soap just seems like WAY to much effort!  Ha ha. Then I ran across this article, which is worth the read. They compare 3 different types of DYI liquid soaps and make a list of pros and cons for each soap. The 3 soap methods they compared were the melted bar soap, powdered soap with glycerin and vinegar, and diluted castile soap. The recipes are also linked in this article, so for those of you who enjoy making your own cleaning supplies, maybe you can conduct your own experiments!  http://www.care2.com/greenliving/homemade-dish-soap-recipes-put-to-the-test.html?page=1

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

Zucchini Shoestrings

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

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

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

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

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

5. Drain zucchini on paper towel and serve immediately.

The above recipe is found at the following web site.  Feel free to read more about this recipe: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/the-green-dish-zucchini-shoestrings.html

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/5-creative-reuses-for-old-sock-143987

http://carriegoff.hubpages.com/hub/30-Uses-For-Old-Socks

Not feeling crafty, but feeling that urge to clean your home today?  Well, the following list is not for the germ-ophobes out there, but it is good to know where the dirty spots in your home are.  An article that I just read lists sponges, vacuums, pillows, doorknobs, TV remotes, and fragrance or perfumes.  This list is from the following web site, and provides some good ideas on how to keep them clean: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/6-surprising-places-where-germs-are-hiding.html

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

http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=YnBF6bv4Oe4&feature=youtu.be

Vegan Bread recipes:

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/seven-delicious-vegan-bread-recipes.html

Raw Corn and Avocado Salad
by Dani Spies – http://www.care2.com/greenliving/raw-corn-and-avocado-salad.html

Ingredients:

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

Directions

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

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

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

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

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

Body Lotion

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/homemade-non-toxic-body-lotion.html

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

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

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

http://www.agingcare.com/Articles/relieve–caregiver-stress-instantly-143093.htm?utm_source=Care2&utm_medium=Partner

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

Bring Your Own Lunch

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

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

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

Marinated Greek Cucumber Salad –

Serves 6. Prep time 30 minutes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Lora to Karen:

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

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

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

A while ago, I suggested the Earth 911 newsletter.  I have been thoroughly enjoying their news items and there is one particular link that I would like to share – it ties into our weekly recipe.  For the full article (and all 10 snack recipes) please read here: http://earth911.com/news/2012/07/24/10-sustainable-snack-recipes-active-lifestyle/?utm_source=Earth911.com+Weekly+Newsletter&utm_campaign=07c3b9c3a2-_14_Kickstart_10_Sustainable_Snacks7_29_2012&utm_medium=email

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

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

Easy Salt & Vinegar Roasted Chickpeas

Ingredients:

2        cups canned chickpeas*

3        3-4 cups white vinegar

4        1 tsp Coarse sea salt

5        2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

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

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

Homemade Hummus with Fresh Veggies recipe

What you’ll need:

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

How to make it:

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

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

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

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

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

Granola Bars

Ingredients:

8 ounces old-fashioned rolled oats, about 2 cups

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

3 ounces sliced almonds, about 1 cup

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

6 ounces honey, about 1/2 cup

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

1-ounce unsalted butter, plus extra for pan

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

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

Directions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Either way, I love this video and there are links to these canning recipes.  It sure makes canning look easy!  http://www.foodinjars.com/2012/06/my-pickling-video-from-the-daily/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+FoodInJars+%28Food+in+Jars%29

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

“Subject: Wasp Spray

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For those who are curious, you can check this out at http://www.snopes.com/crime/prevent/waspspray.asp

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

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

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

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

While working on articles and tib-bits to share in today’s newsletter, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that September is National Honey Month. I am including a link for 20 surprising uses for honey. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anna-brones/20-unusual-uses-for-honey_b_949475.html

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Although, for those uber sentimental t-shirts (Dani, this one is for you!), check out this video on how to create your old t-shirts into works of art.  Very clever! http://t-shirt-surgery.livejournal.com/5377188.html?mode=reply

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

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

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

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

Blazing Bronco Burgers with Smoking Chipotle Honey Sauce

Makes 4 servings

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

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

Serving Suggestion: Served with Smoking Chipotle Honey Sauce.

Smoking Chipotle Honey Sauce

Makes 4 servings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you happen to have an assortment of tin cans that you don’t know what to do with?  Before you send them to the recycling container, check out this article about 13 uses for tin cans!  https://www.recyclebank.com/live-green/13-great-ways-to-reuse-tin-can-from-our-members?cm_mmc=EMAIL-US-_-August_Village_Green_08-07-2012-_-WhatsHappening-_-Link%20-%20Members#.UCE1aaBrN20

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

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Honey Frosting

Ingredients

·         For the Cake

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

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

·         For the Honey Frosting

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

Directions

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

Cook’s Note

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

Recipe found here: http://www.marthastewart.com/339837/pumpkin-spice-cake-with-honey-frosting?czone=food/lunch-recipes/dessert-recipes&center=856055&gallery=853310&slide=263949

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Q & A: Winterize Your Home”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remembering Mom’s Clothesline:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And now a POEM …

A clothesline was a news forecast,

To neighbors passing by,

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

It also was a friendly link, For neighbors always knew

If company had stopped on by,

To spend a night or two.

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

And towels upon the line;

You’d see the “company table cloths”,

With intricate designs.

The line announced a baby’s birth,

From folks who lived inside,

As brand new infant clothes were hung,

So carefully with pride!

The ages of the children could,

So readily be known

By watching how the sizes changed,

You’d know how much they’d grown!

It also told when illness struck,

As extra sheets were hung;

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

It also said, “On vacation now”,

When lines hung limp and bare.

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

New folks in town were scorned upon,

If wash was dingy and gray,

As neighbors carefully raised their brows,

And looked the other way.

But clotheslines now are of the past,

For dryers make work much less.

Now what goes on inside a home,

Is anybody’s guess!

I really miss that way of life,

It was a friendly sign

When neighbors knew each other best…

By what hung out on that line.

And with that my Thrifty Sisters, enjoy your week.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/heloise/remove-gum-dryer-mar07

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

http://www.green-talk.com/2010/08/20/how-to-remove-gum-from-the-dryer-and-clothes/

And some of may be asking “what is this food scraper you are so generously shouting elations about?” Yes, everyone needs these.  Did you know they work great for caulking too?  http://www.pamperedchef.com/our_products/catalog/product.jsp?productId=241&categoryCode=FH

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

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

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

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

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

http://militarybenefits.info/veterans-day-discounts-sales-deals-free-meals/

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

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

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

“6 Secret At-Home Stress Relievers”, By Marlo Sollitto, http://www.care2.com/greenliving/6-secret-at-home-stress-relievers.html

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quinoa & Spinach Gratin – Serves 6 (http://www.care2.com/greenliving/quinoa-spinach-gratin.html)

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

Directions

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

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

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

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

5. Place in the oven and bake until nicely browned on top, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for about 5 minutes, then serve. Makes tasty leftovers! This would go well with a hearty salad or soup.
Best Crepes Ever (Recipe) – http://www.care2.com/greenliving/best-crepes-ever-recipe.html?page=1

Ingredients

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

Instructions – The night before, make the batter:

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

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

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

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

The next day:

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

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

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

Topping Ideas

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

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

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

Greetings Thrifty Sisters, and Happy Thanksgiving Week!

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

No matter which direction on the creativity scale you are this holiday season, the “crabbies” might start to sneak in.  Have no fear – this Thrifty Sister has found a smart article about fun ways of relieving stress!  http://www.care2.com/greenliving/8-fun-ways-to-manage-stress.html?page=1 This article includes all sorts of interesting ideas, including the consumption of things like chocolate (duh!) or items like garlic (really?!), and even encouraging a “moderate mess”(hello creative folk!).

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

“5 Things to Do With Bad Wine”, By Sayward Rebhal, http://www.care2.com/greenliving/how-to-make-good-use-of-bad-wine.html?page=1

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

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

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

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

1. Cook with It.

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

2. Bathe In It.

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

3. Make Artisan Red Wine Vinegar.

Red wine vinegar comes in two main types: that stuff you buy at the store, and the stuff that’s really amazing. Want to get your hands on the amazing kind? Then make it yourself! It is a perfect project for wine that’s already started to sour. It’s actually very easy and man, the taste is just incomparable. http://www.chow.com/food-news/54317/how-to-make-homemade-vinegar/

4. Use It As Dye.

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

5. Don’t Forget Compost.

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/12-surprising-uses-for-mayonnaise.html?page=2

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

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

http://www.instructables.com/id/paper-towel-hanger/#intro

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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YfFKT-VtK4s

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

Find this recipe at http://allrecipes.com/recipe/double-layer-pumpkin-pie/

recipe makes 1 -9-inch pie

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon milk

1 tablespoon white sugar

1 1/2 cups frozen whipped topping, thawed

1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust

1 cup cold milk

2 (3.5 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix

1 (15 ounce) can solid pack pumpkin puree

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

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

Directions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So if you are looking to spice up your laundry detergent, give this recipe a whirl!  Cathy found this recipe at http://aubutfamily.com/2012/03/homemade-laundry-detergent-22-for-a-year-supply/#

2lbs Borax Detergent- roughly half the standard box

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

 1/2 box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda 

2 lbs of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda 

1 bottle of Purex Fabric Softener Crystals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cathy”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I ran across this article that listed 6 different drying options… interesting, I knew of a couple of these tricks, but 6?  You can read the full article, but I am going to highlight the 6 items that were discussed in this piece. http://blog.gaiam.com/blog/6-alternatives-to-dryer-sheets/

According to Annie Bond and her article:

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

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

Toss in reusable, chemical-free dryer sheets. Reusable dryer sheets aren’t doused with chemicals, and they can be reused thousands of times. It’s the fabric they’re made of that helps prevent static. http://www.gaiam.com/static-eliminator-2-per-box/06-0531,default,pd.html?SID=WG127SPRTAPEMACS&extcmp=life_prod

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This article answered my questions.  http://www.ehow.com/about_6793240_dryer-balls-vs-fabric-softener.html

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

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

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

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

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

An interesting “lucky lore” states that black eyed peas are considered a lucky legume, not only in the southern portion of the United States, but is also a Rosh Hashanah tradition. Eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is believed to bring prosperity in the Southern United States, a tradition that has roots from the Civil War – http://www.courierpostonline.com/viewart/20121226/LIVING01/312260007/Start-New-Year-lucky-black-eyed-peas

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

Maybe party hats are more your speed? You don’t have to hit a big box store for party hats. With this simple template, you can turn whatever reclaimed paper and cardboard you have handy into sweet party hats for your guests.  To make these hats even more special, try painting or decoupaging on them to add a little oomph. Your guests will love your custom hats and they will have so much more character and meaning than ones you can buy at the store! http://ohhappyday.com/2011/02/party-hats-diy-template/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good stuff!  Thanks!”

Also, this one comes from Johnny:

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

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

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

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

live and learn eh? – Johnny”

Here was my reply back to Johnny:

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

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

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

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

Happy 2013 to all of the Thrifty Sisters!

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

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

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

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

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

Shop More Responsibly

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

Reuse Before Recycling

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

Eat Less Meat

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

Walk More, Drive Less

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

Give Items Longer Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another option that I would like to try is growing potatoes.  Have you seen the potato growing bags?  Something like this might be a fun way to reuse an old shopping bag and still save space in my garden – maybe THIS would make a fun patio project?  http://www.gardeners.com/Potato-Grow-Bag-Instructions/7099,default,pg.html

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

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

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

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

http://www.diylife.com/2009/07/20/8-home-improvements-that-everyone-can-do-yes-even-you/

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/fresh-decor-fixes-for-the-new-year.html

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

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

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

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

http://www.motherearthnews.com/Organic-Gardening/Square-Foot-Gardening-Food.aspx

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Six Ways Not to Use Baking Soda”

By Adam Verwymeren, http://www.care2.com/greenliving/6-ways-not-to-use-baking-soda.html

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/10-ways-to-reinvent-your-living-space-on-a-budget.html

Ah, Valentine’s Day is drawing near… Need a great way to spice up the family dinner (or a special date night)?  Valentines Day is all about love, and even if you happen to have a quiet evening to your self, show a little love with these fun dinner ideas and recipes! http://www.care2.com/greenliving/valentines-family-dinner-with-love-inspired-recipes.html Of course, do not forget that we need to be showing love and kindness to our special ones the other 364 days of the year, as well!

And speaking of special diner projects, I have run across a fantastic butter softener idea! This is super clever – http://mysocalledmodernlife.wordpress.com/2013/01/24/the-best-baking-tip-ever/ and will be especially helpful for all you bakers out there!

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

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

Thanks, Joan, for the encouragement!  I am excited to have the opportunity to try this!  I happen to have some spare cages, and they are hefty.  But for those of you who do not have a stockpile of cages, here are a some neat ideas: http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/tomato-cages-zm0z11zphe.aspx#axzz2KVg8rHNV

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

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

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

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

For those who compost, I would love to hear how you do it.  Worms?  Piles?  Bins?  Are any of you brave enough for the counter top compost jars?  Please let me know what you do and how you do it.  I have a bin, but it is seasonal.  I have thought about composting with a counter top jar, but I don’t really know what to do with it when it fills up. Then the thought of worms come to mind, but I am not sure that is what I want in my kitchen, and I am not dedicated enough to having a visible bin with a worm farm – well, not yet! (Don’t tell my hubby, though!) It always amazes me what can be thrown into a compost pile.  Read on for 80 things that you might not have thought about composting! http://www.care2.com/greenliving/80-items-you-can-compost.html?page=1

Not into composting, but still want to live a little greener and thriftier?  Try this article about some easy to do items that will not only be more eco savy, but nice to your wallet as well: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/5-more-things-to-start-making-at-home.html

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

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

http://www.motherearthliving.com/health-and-wellness/toxic-laundry-detergent-ingredients-zmez12mazmel.aspx

http://www.motherearthliving.com/wiser-living/best-natural-laundry-detergent-natural-home-and-garden-editors-picks.aspx

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

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

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

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

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

http://life.gaiam.com/article/50-ways-reuse-your-yoga-or-fitness-mat

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

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/10-tips-for-controlling-clutter.html

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Allow only three items on each surface.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This variation doesn’t require any equipment, making it simple. This movement in ice cream making seems to be huge, as it’s all over the web, and you can find recipes for just about any flavor you want! To get you started on this ice cream adventure, here are a few suggested web sites to check out:

http://www.bitsofsunshine.com/2012/04/i-love-chocolate-mint-combo.html This gorgeous and simple recipe from Bits of Sunshine only requires five ingredients – and make that four if you leave out the green food coloring.

http://www.kevinandamanda.com/recipes/dessert/easy-homemade-ice-cream-without-a-machine.html Kevin and Amanda have outdone themselves in this all-things no-churn ice cream post that includes four stellar recipes, including flavors like Krispy Kreme Doughnut, Cinnamon Bun, and our favorite, Nutella Peanut Butter Chip!

http://thestonesoup.com/blog/2010/12/2-simple-secrets-to-making-luscious-ice-cream-without-a-machine-5-ingredients/#  Jules at The Stone Soup is a lovely Aussie who shares her tips on how to make the perfect no-churn with just three ingredients – yes three! You simply must check them out, even if it’s just to snag her homemade lemon ice cream recipe.

http://kitchensimplicity.com/no-churn-blueberry-cheesecake-ice-cream/ and of course, cheesecake, heavenly cheesecake!! This recipe comes from Kitchen Simplicity and calls for real cream cheese and decadent blueberry syrup. Oh yum…

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

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

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

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

STOP IT!

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

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

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

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/home-chores-that-burn-the-most-calories.html?page=1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you would like to read more about detergents and some of the new ideas about them click here: http://www.dailyfinance.com/2010/09/28/savings-experiment-coming-clean-with-the-truth-about-the-best-d/

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/13/your-money/13shortcuts.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

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

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

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

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

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

http://gardening.sheknows.com/2011/04/11/zone-4-planting-schedule/

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

Here is another great web site that provides tree care, scams to watch out for and avoid and chainsaw maintenance. http://extension.missouri.edu/p/G6867

Speaking of scams, one of our local television stations had an article about how some try to benefit from storm situations. This is worth reading and knowing what sort of questions you should ask of from potential “professionals” and “fund raisers”.  http://www.keloland.com/newsdetail.cfm/warning-storm-scams/?id=146557

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I ended up with a fifty pound bag of red potatoes….and we hardly eat potatoes!  So I’m off to scour food network for potatoes recipes. I found this doing a search for “potato uses” out of curiosity: http://www.thriftyfun.com/tf592282.tip.html

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

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

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

And of course, my darling Crafty Cathy has come to the rescue with a DIY recipe for home made dishwashing detergent cubes!  http://www.louises-country-closet.com/2013/03/homemade-dishwasher-detergent-cubes.html And if that was not enough, Cathy has included a site for handy labels for your homemade items!  As Cathy said in her email, “One of my new favorite “How To” sites just posted cute tags that go with the DIY laundry soap I made. I thought you might like a copy.  Check it out… http://www.howdoesshe.com/wp-content/uploads/HowDoesShe_laundry_detergent_tags.pdf

Thank you so much to everyone who continues to provide information to the Thrifty Sisters!  I know I really appreciate your wisdom and willingness to share with each other!  Remember that Earth Day is tomorrow.  Make one small change in your life style, and hopefully it will come back and reward you for a lifetime.  Are you looking for ways to make a change?  Here is a top 10 list of changes each of us can do. My small, but hopefully affective change has been to keep my printer turned off when not in use.  I realized that my printer must be on for days at a time, just soaking up electricity. Now I only turn it on when I need to use it.  Sounds like a no brainer, but it is the small things done collectively that will make huge impacts down the road. http://www.care2.com/causes/top-10-ways-to-make-every-day-earth-day.html

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.foodinjars.com/2012/05/potluck-salad-kit-and-dear-friends/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+FoodInJars+%28Food+in+Jars%29

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

http://www.foodinjars.com/2012/05/preserves-in-action-rhubarb-cake/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+FoodInJars+%28Food+in+Jars%29

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

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

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

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

Small Batch Strawberry Vanilla Jam

http://www.foodinjars.com/2011/06/urban-preserving-small-batch-strawberry-vanilla-jam/

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

http://www.foodinjars.com/2012/05/recipe-reminder-small-batch-strawberry-vanilla-jam/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+FoodInJars+%28Food+in+Jars%29

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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