Author Archives: thriftysistersliving2013

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 10, Issue 6 – February 11, 2018

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters, and Happy February! This coming week is going to mark the half way point through the month, which gets us much closer to spring! Yippee! This past week, my neighborhood got more snow and it’s still bitterly cold. And it made me grumpy. Although, the refreshing idea that spring is closer is a highlight at this time of year. Seed packets are arriving at the stores, and I can waltz down garden isles doing my happy dance.

Just re-reading seed starting articles makes me happier. Here’s a bit of happiness for you, and some great reminders and tips to get a jump start on your indoor garden:

I don’t want to create any extra anxiety for anyone, but did you know Valentine’s Day is Wednesday, of this week? Instead of putting oneself into large amounts of debt for overly priced items and stressing out over restaurant reservations, consider making your loved ones feel special, right in their own home. There’s always the idea of cooking something special in the kitchen or making a sweet little gift to let your loved ones know that you are thinking of them. Although, do remember that we can do these things year-round. Just because Feb 14 comes and goes, the thoughtfulness for our loved ones can not stop on that date.

Have you ever melted down crayons and made those super fun, multi colored crayon blocks? Consider making them in heart shaped silicon candy baking trays. Seriously, what a super cute idea for the kiddos in your life, and a great way to use up all those little crayon nubs!

As you know, I am a sucker for anything in a mason jar. What a special way to wrap up all your loved one’s favorite items in a reusable container:

Not sure what to do with that reusable container after the gift giving? How about a salad in a jar! A perfect solution for the lunch packer, and with the reuse of plastic containers you get to score BIG thrifty and environmental points!

And, finally, in all this talk about others, please don’t forget about yourself. This time of year seems to be crazier than it needs to be. I rolled out of bed on Saturday morning, bright and early, and my first thoughts were of all the business aspects of my week that I did not get done before Friday at 5pm. I jumped out of bed, raced to the coffee pot, turned on the morning news and impatiently waited for the weather report, hugely annoyed that it was not coming on fast enough… nor was the coffee pot fast enough. And then it hit me. Wow. It’s Saturday. My first appointment of the day was a 2pm rehearsal. All of the things that did not get done over the previous week were not hindering my enjoyment of Saturday. It was me. And I had to remind myself that giving myself a morning of “non-business-related to-dos” was ok. And before I knew it, the morning weather was on, my coffee had finished brewing, and I did not “have” to rush downstairs to the studio. I am pleased to report that although the to-dos are still there, the world did not come to a crashing halt, and the sun did actually come up today. I’m not saying that one can put off their to-dos forever, but, one can be reasonable and kind to themselves amidst the overwhelming day to day operations of life.

Please take time to read this short and inspiring article. Even if it is the only thing you do for yourself today. There are two quotes that I just love. I have surrounded myself with people who use these phrases, and I can’t tell you how much happier this previous school year has been for me. The first is, “You owe it to yourself and to those around you to be the best version of yourself, and let’s be honest; we could all use a little improvement.” The second is, “Quite simply, to become that ideal, future version of yourself, you need to practice being it this year.” Begin today, my friend. Cut yourself a little slack and start thinking big – about yourself!

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, may you have an amazing week! Enjoy daydreaming about spring, appreciate those around you, appreciate yourself, and enjoy a little lunch from a mason jar. Until next time, keep on keepin’ it thrifty and fun!







Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 10, Issue 5 – January 28, 2018

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters! How is it possible that the end of January is looming so near? I swear we just celebrated New Year’s Eve! Although, I have noticed that the days are getting longer, and that is a happy thing! If February and March fly by as fast as January, I will be happily playing in my garden before I know it.

In the meantime, I am going to keep playing the minimalism game. Now that I am on day 28, I have successfully cleaned and cleared my way through my dresser, cleared all the clutter along the one wall (that space that the bed conveniently hides from the rest of the world, where I stashed all the projects and crap from the visible parts of the house), and started tackling the shelf next to my bed. My craft area is also looking a lot better! I worked my way through one storage shelf, my computer desk and my work space table. Those spaces are clean, dusted and are organized.

Yes, I have a lot more spaces to work through, and have discovered certain closet and cupboard spaces that are going to need some serious attention. But a small amount of effort each day has really made this challenge manageable. You know, Feb 1 is almost here – you, too, could start your own challenge! Remember, you don’t just have to toss everything – keep the things that add value to your life, or your favorite things. Sort of like that song from “The Sound of Music”, “My Favorite Things”.

Now, on with the rest of today’s newsletter. I have some great little tips and tricks for you all! Some of these tips have been dug out of ancient email archives. (Looks like my email folders could use some spring cleaning!)

Have you seen this life hack where you can turn open ended plastic bags into resealable bags with the addition of a plastic bottle top and cap? Thanks to Britt for sharing this great idea:

Britt also shared this link to making your own reusable cleaning wipes. When I was a kid, Dad used to moisten a rag, and place it in a bread bag. This bag went under the front car seat before long trips. The idea was that there was a wet rag in case of sticky fingers, wiping up vomit, etc. Don’t judge – we were 3 pretty car sick prone kids! Dad was certainly ahead of his time, because now I bet he would be pretty hip in his environmental choices. To make your own reusable cleaning rags, check out this link:

Ever wonder what to do with the rest of that lemon that you only needed the juice from, or needed just a little bit of zest? Check out this great way to dry and save lemon peels, and some nifty ways to use them!

Speaking of not wasting food, here are 5 more tricks to help reduce the waste:

Need more water in your daily routine? I find that winter is a tough time to consume the full amount of water that I need daily. Ironically, I was actually curious about straws and water consumption this week. I have reusable straws that use in my large carry container, and I have large, lidded glasses that my reusable straws fit into. I don’t know why, but it seems like I consume more water by using the straws than with a regular glass. I always thought that this was in my head, but apparently there is some truth that adding a straw to a container does help one with more consumption. Also, be warry that this would work with any beverage that you are consuming through a straw. So, if your goal is to cut soda from your life, don’t drink it through a straw.

Whew – that’s a lot of into for one newsletter! But what about a recipe? Ever find that you have amassed a collection of partially used frozen veggie bags, and are just not quite sure what to do with them? I love making stew and soups from these left overs. One can clean out their freezer and fridge and toss them in a crock pot and come up with a pretty awesome stew or soup. Let’s not waste that food, gang – use it up! Fire up that crock pot, or dump it into your large pot, and create away! Visit these links for some “soupper” ideas:

Maybe the idea of using your crockpot has your all fired up for some great eats this week? How about a visit to for a collection of recipes that are divided out by meals, ingredients, regional cuisine and flavor options.

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, enjoy the new month that is approaching. Good luck in clearing your clutter, trying out some of these nifty ideas, and drinking more water! May I suggest a reusable straw? And let’s create more with the leftovers in your kitchen! Until next time, keep on keepin’ it thrifty and fun!


Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 10, Issue 4 – January 14, 2018

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters! I trust that everyone has survived the holidays and are enjoying the arrival of the new year. Just in case anyone is wondering, the garden dirt that I wrote about in November is still firmly ground into my carpets, but that did not stop the festivities! I was also able to spend my studio break finishing a 2-year-old painting project that had been put on hold. Man, does it feel good to be able to accomplish that task! I love how my kitchen looks, that I hardly notice how dreadful the carpet looks!  Ha!

Last December, I wanted to bake some banana bread. We had dutifully frozen some very ripe bananas – remember the promise about not wasting food?! Although, I did overlook the need to take out the bananas from the freezer the night before I impulsively decided I wanted to make the banana bread. Guess what – it all worked out just fine! I followed the new to me method for thawing the bananas and life was good! This link has great information on how to freeze, defrost and various uses for your overripe bananas.

In the previous newsletter, I shared some chili recipes, and our friend Eli shared another delicious sounding recipe! Eli was aiming for a green chicken chili, but she decided this turned out more like a green enchilada soup – thanks for sharing your recipe, Eli!

Green Enchilada Soup

4 cups chicken stock
1/2 jar salsa verse
1can cream of chicken herb soup
I small jar green chilies
1 can white chili beans
1can garbanzo beans
1lb chicken that I browned and then diced
Throw it all in a pot, let simmer a little, adjust spiciness with the salsa verde

In December, my hubby started the Minimalism Challenge. If you are not familiar with the rules, you basically start by getting rid of one item on the first day of the month. By day 14, you are getting rid of 14 items, all the way to day 30 or 31, when you are getting rid of 30 or 31 items. I must admit that I was jealous of the fact that he was finding time to do the challenge, and I was barely keeping my head above water at the end of the semester, and trying to pack in all the knowledge needed into my student’s heads before Christmas break. Oh, and I was taking a class. Poorly timed endeavor on my end, but I can say that even though the class took longer than I wanted, I turned in my final this past week!

My hubby was diligent until about Dec 15, then the holi-daze was in full swing around our home, and all hands were on deck to get ready for the rest of the month. Then he announced that he was starting the challenge again in January. I thought angels were singing when I realized that I, too, could play!

For me, I started on my dresser. I took time to open each and every little box and go through the catch all piles. It’s day 14, and I have gotten across the top of my dresser, and one top drawer. Most days I accomplish my daily total. Some days I acquire bonus points. But for me, the goal has been to literally touch and clean each item that is on/in my dresser. I have rediscovered some cherished treasures. I have unearthed some odd finds. I found things that I had completely forgotten about. The drawer proved to be an almost overwhelming endeavor, until I remembered to start small. Pick out one little storage box, and start there. Storage boxes were apparently the creation of someone who is an evil pack rat! Out of sight, out of mind has come to my mind several times over the past 14 days!

In fact, I am having such a grand time with the slow but methodical process, I am also playing the game in my craft area! In case you didn’t know, Sioux Falls supports a recycled art store called Jam. If you are not in my neighborhood, check around and see if your area has such shops that would either take donated art items, or know where you could donate. I know that some schools take these supplies, as budgets are tight these days!

As I was preparing to write about the Minimalism Challenge, I ran across this funny, but very fitting article about someone who “failed” at the challenge. I wouldn’t say that she didn’t fail, as she certainly made progress, but I think she used too much math.

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, may you have a wonderful opening to 2018. Good luck to each of you who practice resolutions. Remember to be kind to yourself and others. We’re all in this together. May you enjoy some home baked banana yumminess, a new Enchilada Soup recipe and remember it’s never too late to start diving into the pile of stuff that is cluttering either your physical space or mental space. Until next time, keep on keepin’ it thrifty and fun!


Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 10, Issue 3 – November 5, 2017

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters, and Happy November! Wow, how is it possible that it is already November, and the holidays are looming in the near future?! Ready or not, I guess it’s time to start thinking ahead to the holidays.

Are you cringing at the thought of needing to spruce up your home for guests? I’m still cleaning garden dirt out of my carpets, but maybe if I could dedicate about 24 hours to a cleaning spree my woes wouldn’t feel so large. Since a 24-hour cleaning spree is not in my near future, I may need to embrace some cleaver ways to spruce up the place, and take the focus off the garden dirt! Check out the following link for 7 ways to brighten up your home, for free:

Do you have a collection of old cell phones and accessories that need attention? Check out this article, and maybe this will spark some ideas on how to cross this item off of your to-do list:

While our thoughts linger towards holiday meal prep, it’s also time to promise ourselves that we will not waste food. The following list is full of clever ideas on how to reuse many items, and ingenious alternatives for our leftovers. In fact, some of these tricks might spark fabulous holiday meal ideas! Left over mashed potato breakfast patties, anyone? I’m in!!

I know that today’s newsletter is short. It’s going to be a busy week in my neck of the woods. Although it’s going to be a wild ride this week, I look forward to being thankful for the opportunity to clean a space that I get to live in. I look forward to the chance to recycle items that no longer need to live in my house, and I am incredibly thankful that I have the ability to provide meals for my family and friends.

Speaking of meals – it’s chili season!  Have you tried making your own chili powder?

Maybe you would like a collection of chili recipes:

Until next time, my Thrifty Sisters, continue to be good to each other and yourself. Enjoy some homemade goodness, and calmly plan ahead to future gatherings!  Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to be filled with love. Can I just tell everyone that the dirt in my carpet is love?

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 10, Issue 2 – October 22, 2017

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters! My goodness, how time flies!  I was reflecting on how it could be possible to have missed writing to you between June and now. I do know that our family has made many memories and accomplished various endeavors over the previous few months, and for that, I am thankful! I am thankful to be healthy enough for adventures, and thankful for so many opportunities over the past few months to find happiness. It is my sincerest hope that you, too, have had good health, made good memories and have had oodles of opportunities for happiness.

As many of you know, this newsletter was originally an email message (that started 10 years ago!) between one sister to another to share tips and tricks on how to be thrifty. It has grown and evolved through the years and has been shared on various social media platforms, but the original concept is still alive and well. Today, I am excited to share an email from my sister, Karen. She originally composed this in May of 2017, and although a few months have passed since her original email, her message is truly timeless.

“In a consumption and throw-away society, the idea of somebody being a minimalist can quickly become alienated.  This is one of the first things I noticed as I entered my office.  I was called “short-timer” and people lead to assumptions that “she must not be around for long”, if I didn’t bring in knick-knacks, miscellaneous curios, and outdated textbooks of material that never got referenced again.  I always replied, “Come to my house, and you will see I own very few possessions, so don’t take it personally”.

I only think this lends to the uneasiness of the assumption that indeed I was not normal.  I s’pose me living in an RV while owning a restaurant doesn’t help my weirdness factor.  But what little I do have can all be deemed my favorite, and therefore nothing seems like it is a waste in my own responsible space.

Often times I am asked how I can live with so little, and I tell people to go through your items.  Take out what you are personally keeping around to rid yourself the guilt of hurting somebody’s else’s feeling for a gift they gave you that gives you no sense of value to yourself.  Get rid of items that are big packaging material that houses a few items.  Look at how many rooms you actually use in your house, or if they essentially became large closets for more stuff.

I tell people to give themselves time to figure out what that item means to them, prior to donating it.  What do you fear by donating it, and is that a realistic belief?  Do they remind you of a great time that you want to commemorate, but cannot bring back?  Try verbalizing why you have reservations about the item you are questioning, because that can also help you hear your crazy self.

I guarantee folks once they truly have had these ritualistic moments in their life, they will have successfully gained some more insight to solving their own personal baggage.  It’s good to take inventory of our personal and emotional stock from time to time, so we can make room for more of our own crazy stock.  Speaking of crazy stock, I have a terrified beagle in the next room that just heard thunder, so I must go console her fear that the earth is not opening up to swallow her before she pees on my floor.”

Thank you, Karen, for your insightfulness and sage advice! My hubby and I are embracing the minimalist movement. It can be a slow process (why are there only 24 hours in a day?!), but one does not need to rent a dumpster and haul everything out of the house in mad-dash process. Start small, feel free to organize however you would like. Keep the things that you love or that make your life richer and easier to live.

This also works with non-material items. Do you feel that you are emotionally “full” or overburdened? I felt that way, and last January I sat down and wrote out a list of things that make me happy, and things that don’t make me happy. On the list of things that didn’t make me happy, I had to decide if there were items that I could change, or if they were things that I had no control over. Once an individual decides what they have control over and what they don’t have control over, one can start to make sensible changes.

I started working on the fact that some items were out of my control, and that I needed to acquire a new way to accept these challenges – and it was not easy for me to accept that there were things I could not change!  But, I also found that there were things that I did have control of. I slowly started implementing some of those changes. Although, it has not been perfect, and I still have some items on my “not happy” list that I am working on, I have made some incredible progress in making myself “happy”.

I am a work in progress, and I am sure that you feel the same way. We are all in this together. Your challenges are different than mine, and we each have paths in our lives that feel impassable. You can do it!  I believe in you!

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, may you have a fantastic week!  Enjoy each day.  Treasure each moment, and keep that hope burning in your heart! Getting rid of the clutter in our heads and home are beneficial for not only you, but for everyone around you. Until next time, keep on keepin’ it thrifty and fun!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 10, Issue 1 – June 18, 2017

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters!  I can hardly believe my last post was in April. Where has the time gone? I hope that each of you have been able to fill your time with making good memories and being kind to yourself.  AND… Happy Father’s Day to all of the Daddy’s out there!

One of our recent adventures was removing gum from the inside of both the laundry washer and the dryer.  A whole pack of Big Red seems to spread a lot of lovin’ and goes a long way. But now that both my son and I have refreshed ways of getting gum out of clothing and machines, I thought I would share which web site we used for our arsenal of tricks.  And I’m happy to report all is well in our laundry room, once again. And it was cinnamon-y fresh for days!

I am a supporter of composting, but I completely understand some people’s aversion.  If you don’t have the space, or patience, for a compost bin, you can skip the heap all together and go directly to the garden.  This short article has some fantastic tips (or reminders!) on how certain peelings and materials like coffee grounds can help control pests in your garden, and offer fertilization all in one super swoop! And don’t forget things like egg shells – those offer not only beneficial nutrition to your tomato plants, but also deter pests!

Speaking of garden goodness, here’s a fun recipe to keep up your sleeve as the garden begins to produce salsa ingredients: Notice that this recipe supplements garden fresh with a couple of store bought tricks.  An intriguing idea, and it might be that perfect solution for when you don’t have quite enough garden goodness to make a whole bowl for your guests.

Last night we had some dear friends over.  And since the garden is growing well, and I have fresh items now, I finally allowed myself to use of the last of the precious frozen treasures that I have been rationing throughout the nongrowing months. I think one of the most interesting things about salsa is how different it can taste from one batch to another. Last night the flavor was not hot, but more of a sweet taste.  It very well could have been the colored sweet peppers that I tossed in (from the store, not from the garden yet!), hoping to balance out the random bag of miscellaneous hot peppers that I found in the freezer. We still enjoyed it, and it gave me an opportunity to waste not!

Speaking of recipes, allow me to leave you with a couple of recipes.  It’s berry season in my area, and berry crumbles are always a delicious (and easy) treat for your family.  And for those who are looking for a little adventure on the grill, here are some neat ideas that might make a great side dish or main course:

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, may you have a fantastic week!  Enjoy each day.  Treasure each moment, and keep that hope burning in your heart! Good luck keeping gum out of the laundry machines, and enjoy all the freshness that life has to offer.  Until next time, keep on keepin’ 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 9, Issue 21 – April 23, 2017

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters! I hope that everyone had a lovely Easter and Earth Day this past week. We had some great opportunities to spend time with family and friends, and I even got to go out and work/paly in the yard a couple of times this past week! We have been lucky to have a few super nice days pop up between the more typical rainy and gloomy April weather that one finds in my neighborhood.

With late April showing up on our calendars, this also means that it is time for some huge garage sale events in our area. There is one neighborhood garage sale that is almost mind boggling how big it is! And when I say neighborhood, I really mean hundreds of homes all participating in the greatest sales of the year, all at the same time.  It is becoming almost weeklong festival for garage sales, and thousands of shoppers flock to this area to catch some deals.

If this is your idea of a good time, best wishes to you, and may you have the patience of a Saint. There are certainly deals to be had at garage sales.  Particularly if you are looking for furniture items, or tools or gardening equipment.  One can also get great clothing deals and kitchen items, and home decor.  But in the heat of the shopping moment, do take time to inspect your items for damage, rips, stains and if it is in working condition. If the item is something that you have been looking for, or need, then you have hit a deal.  But, impulse buying is also a problem. Unless, of course, you are looking to stock your own garage sale later in the season.

Possibly you are thinking that having a sale is a good idea.  Go for it!  It takes work, but you can make some quick cash, especially of you are pricing things to move out your door. It is amazing how selling one hundred 25 cent items adds up. And not only do you have cash in your pocket, but you cleaned out items from your home, and someone walked away feeling really good about the deal they got, and are probably daydreaming about how great it will be at their home.

Thrift stores are another great place to go shopping.  It is amazing what gets donated to stores, and often you can score some great deals. And, don’t forget, one can make donations, as well!

Possibly you are a huge fan of shopping at dollar stores. I’m always a bit leery of them, but they do have great prices on certain items. Check out the following link about the great deals to be had, and what one might be smart to avoid purchasing from the dollar stores.

Maybe second hand sales are just not on your radar this week.  I mean, hello!? It’s spring!! And that means it is time to be outdoors in the garden! Yesterday, I had a lovely time picking my first bundles of rhubarb and making a crisp and rhubarb syrup to share with our friends that were over last night. My hubby even bought a lemon to add to the sparkling water and rhubarb syrup mix, and it was very refreshing. And with a quick Google search, one can be quite a mixologist with their spring syrups!

If you are intrigued about growing, or how to grow and care for rhubarb, check out this link:

Pickled rhubarb, anyone?  Look no further:

Well, my dear Thrifty Sisters. I need to continue with my day. It’s a busy day ahead of me, as I have a list of things I want to do and some things that I need to do, and some events to attend later today.  I hope that your “want to do” items win over the “have to do” items this week.  If you are garage sale-ing, be safe, and be patient with fellow shoppers and sale owners. Enjoy finding great deals, and consider donating items or creating your own tag sale. If you are a fan on rhubarb, now is YOUR season! Until next time, keep on keepin’ it thrifty and fun!