Monthly Archives: November 2015

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 8, Issue 3 – November 28, 2015

Greeting Thrifty Sisters! I hope that you each had a very joyous Thanksgiving holiday full of family and friends and lots of laughter and memory making! For those of you who traveled, I hope that you all had safe travels. This past weekend certainly has provided some “exciting” driving weather.

Last week, I was doing that glorious chore of cleaning bathrooms. While I was cleaning our bathrooms, my mind wandered to the cleaning cloths that I was using. Sure, the micro fiber cloths are great. Manufacturers have created a variety of cleaning surfaces, which clean like champions, leave glass surfaces lint free, they are reusable and last forever. However, they do have an initial cost and they are not free of reliance on oil products, therefore leaving a footprint.

As I was buffing and shinning various objects in the bathrooms, I happened to pick up a white t-shirt rag from my rag pile. It brought back memories of my parents using old white t-shirt rags for a variety of cleaning needs. These t-shirt rags do a great job of cleaning and shining, are fairly lint free, and duh… are free for the taking once they graduate out of one’s dresser drawers. And no dependence on oil products, as far as I can determine. So if you are ready to toss out old white t-shirts any time soon, consider keeping a handful for rags. They dust, buff and scrub like their microfiber counter parts, but are cost effective cotton will eventually biodegrade in a landfill. I have no idea what the average life span of a microfiber cloth has in a landfill – did I mention they seem to last forever?! For those who want to turn to a simpler way of life, I think returning to the t-shirt rags are a good step in that direction.

And don’t forget, if you have too many t-shirts that are just not worthy of donating to a thrift store, some thrift stores actually collect fabric to recycle. Find out if your local thrift store has this option! If the fabric is in good shape, there are oodles of ways to make your own crafty upcycled items from bags to pillowcases, to dresses! Pinterest probably has thousands of ideas, in case you are looking for inspiration.

Yes, these are the thoughts that roll around in my head as I do mundane chores. I question the eco-friendly value of many things. Sometimes this is where my greatest money saving epiphanies occur.

Speaking of making things more eco-friendly, I found this charming article to help give us some new ideas on how to green up our kitchens and not break the bank. In fact, there are some very interesting statistics and suggestions on how to save on both your environmental impact, and impact on your wallet. And, with Christmas around the corner, some of the suggestions may spark some great gift ideas for the hard-to-shop-for people on your list! The full article can be found at this link:

“6 Easy Ways To Have A Greener Kitchen” by The Green Divas , November 24, 2012

1. Use Cloth Napkins

  • Paper products currently account for one-third of the municipal waste in the U.S. – great case for using cloth napkins and dishtowels
  • Paper products: paper v. cloth napkins – manufacturing cloth napkins takes a little more energy, however to wash and reuse them multiple times makes up for it and saves a LOT of trees
  • you can also easily make your own from remnants

2. Buy More in Bulk

  • Buying bulk for dry goods can save on packaging AND money! Example: Organic dried cranberries on average are 98% less expensive than their packaged counterpart
  • Between a quarter and a third of all domestic waste is packaging: much of it food packaging
  • To buy bulk goods, find a food coop or buying club near you at

3. Recycle Even More

  • About 80% of what Americans throw away is recyclable, yet our recycling rate is only 28%
  • Recycle as much as you can
  • Try avoiding buying food and products with lots of packaging
  • Buy food and drinks in recyclable packaging such as glass jars or tin cans
  • Buy bulk

4. Use Only Eco-Friendly Sponges and Dish Towels

  • Most sponges are plastic and contain dyes, and synthetic disinfectants like triclosan, which has been determined to be a health hazard to humans and ecosystems by the EPA
  • Use a sponge made from natural and sustainable materials
    • Cellulose sponges – made from wood fibers – they biodegrade in landfills and go through a far less toxic manufacturing process
  • Landfills are filled with paper towels and there no way to recycle or reuse them
  • It takes about one year for the paper to biodegrade, the thicker the towel the longer
  • It’s cheaper to skip the paper towels

5. Remember to Use Reusable Shopping Bags

  • Plastic bags and other plastic garbage thrown into the ocean kill as many as 1 million sea creatures a year
  • The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is twice the size of Texas and it’s floating somewhere between San Francisco and Hawaii. It weighs 3.5 million tons and is 80% plastic
  • If everyone in the United States tied their annual consumption of plastic bags together in a giant chain, the chain would reach around the Earth’s equator 776 times!

6. Composting is Easy

  • Compost is excellent for garden soil
  • If you don’t have a garden, look for community compost program
  • Fruits and veggies, coffee grounds, tea bags, egg shells (rinsed and crushed), rice and pasta
  • Reduces your garbage output significantly

Aren’t some of those statistics shocking? If each one of us Thrifty Sister made a small change, we would make a huge difference!

So, speaking of gifts, I have seen on face book several people posting that they have received, or really want the new Death Star waffle irons. What a clever idea for a waffle iron! How have we gone this far into the Star Wars obsession and never had a Death Star waffle maker?! Brilliant! I love Star Wars, this would be awesome, BUT, for the record, I already own my grandma’s waffle iron. It makes 4 adorable heart shaped waffles. For my family who reads this newsletter, I do not need, nor am I hinting at the Death Star Waffle Iron for Christmas.

However, many people want this waffle iron, and I can totally appreciate the cool factor. There also seems to be new cooking trends using waffle irons. There are hundreds of waffle iron recipes floating around cyber space, and these are just so neat! With the upcoming winter storm approaching my neighborhood, I might just make a trip to the store to stock up on some items to use in these non-traditional waffle iron recipes!

Here is a link to 27 recipes:

And apparently waffle irons are not just for breakfast foods:

And there you have it, my Thrifty Sisters. May you enjoy mulling over the reinvention of the t-shirt rags (if you are not already doing so). May you have a splendid time thinking of how to green up your kitchen (did anyone get any cute “kitchen basket” gift ideas from that list?) And may the force be with you as you make some epic new waffle iron meals for your family! Keep on keeping it thrifty and fun!

Read the Thrifty Sisters, both new and old by visiting or find our latest posts on Face Book .

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 8, Issue 2 – November 22, 2015

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters! I hope that this newsletter finds everyone in good spirits and in good health. I am still scratching my head as to where autumn has disappeared to, but according to my calendar, Thanksgiving is just around the corner. How can that be?! I feel like the school year just started a couple of weeks ago.

I happen to have two articles to share with you. One is about the holiday prep, and the other is how to make your life simple. Somehow, this seems like I might be presenting a conflict of interest. Nevertheless, I think that BOTH can be accomplished. I feel that one can have a lovely holiday and still hold some simple ideals. It will take a little planning, and small adjustments. By no means would I ever suggest taking on 17 new life style changes and hold a holiday gathering! That is just plain crazy talk! However, concepts like taking out the garbage, that’s practical and holds a whole host of emotional benefits.

If you feel like Thanksgiving has snuck up on you, too, have no fear. With a little planning and prep, you will be able to host, or attend, Thanksgiving like a champ. For those who might need a refresher course on how to hold a lovely gathering, I found a simple and easy-to-follow guide. You can find the entire article at, but here are Eric Steinman’s “3 Tips to Host a Successful Thanksgiving”:

Sure this is an obvious one, but so many people do a hack job at the fundamentals of planning. This includes everything from assembling a recipe list to making sure you have enough sea salt (I have seen households run out of salt on Thanksgiving – it is not a pretty thing). I would suggest two weeks before T-Day (yes, you are already late) start assembling a recipe list, finalize it, and then start collecting ingredients before the markets run dry. It happens every year. Someone is always brought to tears as they come to terms with the fact that all of the fennel bulbs are gone, gone, gone. Stock your pantry with non-perishables first, and then (closer to Thanksgiving) secure some of the fresher ingredients.

Consider Presentation:
Take stock of all your chairs, dishware, and place settings, making sure you have enough cutlery to prevent your less refined guests from eating with their hands. Are you going to need to buy candles, or borrow chairs, tables, etc? This is all stuff you want secured before Wednesday. Make sure all plates, serving bowls, and linens are clean, and I don’t mean cleaned last December.

Drinks and Hors D’Oeuvres:
There is nothing that provides the necessary buffer between hungry, impatient guests and their delayed meal like a plentiful amount of drinks and hors d’oeuvres. You would be surprised how often these two things are overlooked. Sure there might be a few bottles of beer and some gifted wine, but none of it is inviting enough to provide the necessary distraction and happiness to keep the peace. And for the drinkers and non-drinkers alike, setting out a few plates of finger foods and hors d’oeuvres keep children and prying adults out of the kitchen until the meal is ready to go.

I fully realize that all of have a very busy week ahead of us in order to show a bountiful giving of thanks. So, how about making our lives a little easier? The full article link is here, but, for simplicity’s sake, here are Wanda Urbanska’s 17 suggestions:

  1. Pay your bills immediately
    Some people advise holding on to your money until the last possible moment. The idea is that this helps you accrue interest. I say, pay your bills the minute you receive them so you can turn your attention elsewhere. As long as a bill is hanging out there in the unpaid category, it occupies mental space worth far more than the pennies in interest you stand to gain. Another option: Pay your bills the day you get paid. The minute you deposit your paycheck, send in all the bills that have arrived during that pay period. That way, the bills won’t be on your mind, and you will know exactly how much money you have left over until you get paid again.
  2. Empty your trash
    Staring into an overflowing wastebasket makes you feel bloated, while an empty receptacle signals that your slate has been cleared, and you’re ready to move forward. One of the quickest “feel-good” exercises is taking out the trash. (Another place to “take out the trash” is your computer desktop. It’s a spot that gets cluttered quickly — and it feels great when it’s clean!)
  3. Take “time for self” every day
    If you let the batteries in your camera die, it doesn’t work. Don’t neglect your own personal batteries. Take what sociologists call “time for self” every day. Figure out what replenishes you — a daily walk, yoga, practicing guitar or a warm bath before bed — then incorporate it into your routine.
  4. Spend time outdoors every day
    Whether it’s sunny or overcast or snowing, step outside to reconnect with nature. Even if it’s only a walk around the block or having your morning coffee on the front step, that short time outside will refresh and energize you.
  5. Celebrate your victories!
    In the rush of our lives, too often we allow our “mountaintop moments” to pass unnoticed. When you reach a milestone, even if it’s minor in the greater scheme of things, take time to savor it.
  6. Carpool
    This old idea is worth revisiting. It not only saves fuel and wear and tear on your car, it also gives you the chance to connect with others and build friendships along the way. What’s more, on those days when you’re the passenger, you can kick back and enjoy the ride.
  7. Pay in cash
    Identify a personal-spending trouble spot and shift to a cash-only policy. For instance, if you overspend on lattes, or clothing and shoes, allocate a reasonable allowance each month and pay in cash. Withdraw the cash needed for this category and see how far you can make your money stretch. Paying with cash forces you to see — right there in your billfold — exactly how much you have, preventing you from losing sight of your real-dollar outflow.
  8. Save your loose change
    Another easy habit to adopt around a “cash diet” is saving your petty change. Here’s how it works: If you buy a bottle of wine that comes to $9.19, pay with a $10 bill. At day’s end, put the 81 cents in change directly into your piggy bank or an old glass jar. This savings plan is relatively painless, keeps the jangling coins out of your purse or pocket, and can deliver a bonus of several hundred dollars at year’s end.
  9. Take a vacation
    Be sure to budget time and money for a vacation this year. If possible, take two weeks (or more), preferably away from home, at a place of natural beauty. Studies show that two consecutive weeks — not one week, not 10 days — are needed to recover from burnout. Vacations also deliver long-term health benefits such as reducing your risk of coronary heart disease.

10.Turn on the ceiling fan
If you’re lucky enough to have a ceiling fan in your home, use it. Fans circulate the air, provide a soothing, low-level whir (the white noise can help you sleep), and reduce cooling bills in the summer and heating bills in the winter.

11.Hang clothes outside
I was overjoyed to rediscover in middle age that my childhood chore of hanging clothes on the line was actually pleasurable. What’s more, putting up clothes, towels and linens in the blazing sun (satisfying tip No. 4) gives your laundry the indescribably wonderful smell of sunshine and fresh air.

12.Determine whether your job is right for you
How do you feel about your job? Do you feel like you are doing something worthwhile — creating something of lasting value? If the answer is no, reflect on what type of work you would enjoy more. Then, begin looking for new opportunities — or, if there are currently few opportunities to be had, look for ways to make your current job more of what you want it to be. (For tips on that, see “The Paycheck Trap” in the March 2010 archives at experience When you love what you do, life is happier, easier — and simpler, by far.

13.Banish boredom with board games
Instead of electronic entertainment, gather your crew for old-fashioned board games like Monopoly, Clue and Scrabble. Or assemble a jigsaw puzzle, deal a game of gin rummy or play a round of charades.

14.Buy used
Secondhand or consignment shops are great places to find clothes, kitchen equipment and even furniture. Buying used costs less and cuts down on packaging waste, thus reducing your carbon footprint.

15.Disconnect and reconnect
Take time every day to disconnect from electronics. At dinnertime, turn off the computer and television, and let all phone calls go to voice mail. Bar all hand-held devices from the table. This will open the way for eye-to-eye contact and genuine engagement.

16.Write financial affirmations
Identify a specific financial goal and write it down affirmation-style, as though it is a current reality (“My mortgage is retired,” or, “I am gloriously debt-free”). Then post the affirmation on your fridge, bathroom mirror or as a screen saver. Keep your affirmation short (no more than a dozen words), sweet and upbeat. Your affirmation will help set the stage for a future reality.

  1. Stop and chat
    When you’re out for a walk in the neighborhood or standing in the supermarket line, make small talk. Ask the cashier about her earrings or tattoo; compare notes with your neighbor about growing tomatoes. You will find that “small talk” isn’t small, but surprisingly big and meaningful.

And there you have it, my Thrifty Sisters!  May each of you have a week full of giving thanks, connecting with friends and relatives, and safe travels, all while trying to simply your life one step at a time. Keep on keeping it thrifty and fun, my friends!

Read the Thrifty Sisters, both new and old by visiting or find our latest posts on Face Book .

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 8, Issue 1 – November 8, 2015

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 8, Issue 1 – November 8, 2015

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters! I am sure that many of you have thought that the Thrifty Sister may have gone to the wayside, given that I have not posted since January of this year. Believe me, the Thrifty Sister has been alive and well, and I have missed sharing fabulous thrifty advice with each of you. Sometimes life just gets in the way of doing these fun, modest “extras”. But I am writing now, and that is what matters.

Many of us have those projects that we start, but never quite finish. Eventually, the feelings of guilt and sadness settle in, maybe with a little embarrassment. All of these feelings begin making that project even more difficult to accomplish or return to. For some, it is easier to just walk away and never look back. For others, they stay up until the wee hours of the morning, driving themselves to the brink of insanity and unhealthiness to finish.

Allow me to say, it is all ok. Sometimes we put unreasonable demands on ourselves, due to whatever unreasonable thinking we have allowed ourselves to fall into. However, it is still all ok. Whether that project has been putting off a house repair, or some yard work, tackling that monster laundry pile, or even keeping up with daily house tasks, I can tell you that we live to see another day. I had a professor who told me that the sun will come up again, and our mother’s will still love us. Sure, the dirty dishes are still stacked, and that laundry pile is still there, but those, too, shall pass. Unless any of you have figured out how to get the laundry fairy to visit – then, please share!

It seems like it all boils down to self-forgiveness and acceptness. Last year my saying was, “it is what it is”, and this fall it became more of a desperate “I’m trying”. When did the desperation begin? I’m not sure, but I am done being desperate. Time to make a change, and part of that change is to get back to things that I enjoy. So, hello, Thrifty Sisters. I have missed you.

With this month being November, and the holidays are just around the corner (I know, take a deep breath, we are going to make it through this holiday season!) it seems like our focus is going to turn to food in a hurry.

I am sure that everyone has heard the recent discovery that processed meats, and cured meats are terrible for you.  And I’m sure that many of you might be lamenting the recent claim that bacon is in that list. Everything in moderation – remember when butter and eggs were horrible for you, too? But I can read what is in butter and egg ingredients. I’m not positive that I can pronounce all the ingredients in margarine, and the “good-for-you” butter alternatives.

How many of you have heard about the unprocessed food challenge? It’s a real thing! Normally, the challenge is in the month of October, but I bet we could try this at any point! In fact, with the holidays coming up, it might be fun to feed our families real, whole foods.

This Unprocessed Food Challenge began in 2009 by Andrew Wilder, who started a quest to a better life style.  In 2010, he began his public challenge with just over 400 people, and now it has grown to around 5,000 individuals pledging to avoid processed foods for a full month. Check out his web site: for more information. Another great way to read more and follow the challenge is on Twitter at #Unprocessed. Those who have taken the plunge are tweeting things like unprocessed approved recipes, photos of their home-cooked meals and advice articles on how to successfully get through the month.

What intrigued me, and hooked me was this paragraph, “We first had to define “unprocessed.”  It’s one of those words that everyone intuitively seems to know, but when you get right down to it, it’s actually quite tricky to define. We finally settled on what I now call The Kitchen Test: Unprocessed food is any food that could be made by a person with reasonable skill in a home kitchen with whole-food ingredients.
That doesn’t mean you have to make the food yourself, just that it could be done in a home kitchen, at least in theory. So if it’s something that’s store-bought, each ingredient needs to pass the kitchen test. It quickly rules out all those additives you’d never use if you were cooking for yourself.”

Seems logical to me, and follows all the guidelines out there about if you can’t pronounce it, it probably isn’t natural. For many of us, our lives are pretty hectic and full of many challenges as we try to make it through a 24 hour period. Maybe a full 30 day challenge isn’t up your alley, but let’s think about starting small. Maybe a lunch, a supper, breakfast. You can gradually work up to finding a perfect dish to serve at the holiday tables. Anything in this whole and unprocessed food choice direction has to be helpful. For some of you, this might be a great option to get back on the wagon and opt for healthy choices.

And there you have it, my Thrifty Sisters!  May each of you have a wonderful week and remember to keep sharing your thriftiness with each other! Keep on keeping it thrifty and fun!