Author Archives: thriftysistersliving2013

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 14, Issue 4 – May 22, 2022

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 14, Issue 4 – May 22, 2022

Greetings, my Thrifty Sisters, and Happy May! It seems like yesterday, when I was wishing everyone a Happy March 1rst (The Most Wonderful Day of the Year!) and here we are, ready to wish everyone an enjoyable upcoming Memorial Day weekend and the official kick off to summer.

Recently, I’ve been on the topic of neglect. You know, putting things off in hopes that time will just magically appear in your day, and you can get caught up with (insert literally any project/s here). Well, I am still discovering some of the neglected elements in my life and still trying to sort through it all. No magic fairies have come to grant me magical time. Life is not slowing down. I am still only part way through deep cleaning the fridge. Allow my unfinished fridge cleaning to be a metaphor for your unfinished items because we’ve all got these things, and we all have different reasons why we can’t resume the project. But we’re all in this together, right?! I’m here to cheer you on and tell you that you will be able to make the magic happen. But it won’t happen overnight, and you know what, that’s ok. Just try to do what you can when you can.

But don’t let those pesky unfinished projects steal the magic away from our days. Do take time to enjoy life and smell the flowers. I was on a walk last week, and actually stopped to smell a lilac bush that was growing next to the sidewalk. It was glorious to admire the lilacs up close and take in the moment. Mmmm, fresh lilacs on a sunny spring day.

Speaking of fridge cleaning ideas, our friend Britt sent this great little tid-bit for helping keep fridge messes to a minimum. If you have those plastic placemats (or maybe you have inherited some!), place them on your fridge racks, or on the bottom shelf. Whatever you spill collects on these mats and the cleanup is easy-peasy!

And today’s food tidbit is from Tanya. I had no idea that one could freeze already cooked rice! (Thanks for schooling me!) Here’s a link on how to freeze left over, cooked rice: https://www.allrecipes.com/article/can-you-freeze-cooked-rice/

So, what other sorts of rando things do I have to share with you today? How about recycling your bubble wrap? It’s possible, just not curb side. Since it is considered a plastic film, it needs to go in with he bags that you take back to the store. Even some UPS stores will offer bubble wrap recycling. For more info, click here: https://www.rubicon.com/blog/is-bubble-wrap-recyclable/

Need some decluttering inspiration? Check out this list of 50 tips. Again, fining your space is not a race (do I need to remind you about the metaphorical fridge?!) but at least having some insightful ideas to gnaw on does help: https://parade.com/972469/marynliles/decluttering-tips/

And before I sign off for the day, allow me to leave you with a collection of 9 homemade salad dressings. Fresh greens are going to showing up at the local markets or in your CSA boxes and it would be fun to try these dressings. Also, some dressings work great as BBQ marinades, and boy is it grilling season! Enjoy the recipes at Blessthismess.

And with that my Thrifty Sisters, may you have a beautiful rest of May. Happy Memorial Day and thank you to all who have served our country. Do take time to be mindful of the opportunities to smell the flowers and enjoy the simple offerings life has. And good luck with those lingering projects. We’ll get there! Continue to be kind to yourself and others and keep on keepin’ it thrifty and fun!

Links from Today:

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 14, Issue 3 – March 13, 2022

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 14, Issue 3 – March 13, 2022

Greetings, my Thrifty Sisters, and happy March! March is such a beautiful month. It starts with what I like to fondly call “The Most Wonderful Day of the Year” – March 1 being the day that my Dad always declared spring was here. It’s also a lovely day to start indoor seeds, buy seeds or just enjoy the fact that spring and the change of seasons is really coming. Speaking of Spring, it officially begins in 1 week! And there is that funny little detail about changing your clocks, which happens to be today, March 13, 2022. If you live in an area that your clocks change, this is your friendly reminder to spring forward any clocks that don’t automatically switch. While I lament losing that hour of sleep, I am looking forward to having longer day light hours, especially in the evening – hello sun light grilling season! Oh, and do not forget about St. Patty’s Day! Wear all your green this month. Why just save it for Thursday?

Ah, yes, so many fun things to celebrate and reflect on during March. It is my most sincere desire that you get to enjoy this amazing time of year.

So last time, I talked about neglect and how life just gets in the way of “things”. While I am still discovering some of the neglected elements in my life and trying to sort through it all, I am continuing to find silver linings and humor has been a key factor in retaining my sanity. Recently a friend of mine was sorting through her pantry and fridge. We were comparing notes on best buy dates, who had the oldest, strangest items, etc. We had a good laugh while texting each other the ridiculous finds. While we are pretty good at not allowing food items to be wasted, I did make some eye-opening finds. Like that container of breadcrumbs that must have moved with us from our previous apartment to our house. Best buy date of 2005. Apparently, it had become a prominent decor of pantry, and just “belonged” there? And raise your hand if your found horse radish with the date of 2015 in your fridge – we did. And how does sticky dust even collect in one’s fridge?!

While it seems a bit disheartening to make these discoveries, I was able to be mindful during the cleaning process. I was able to enjoy the fact that I was making progress. I tried to keep my mind on the task of just cleaning and clearing, rather than allowing my thoughts to randomly roam, which often leads me to stray away from a current project.  Being present in the moment, relishing in the simple task and accomplishments, and getting the instant gratification of a clean shelf was satisfying. And the best part is that one can just take a shelf at a time. While the progress is slow, there is still progress, and I will take any win that I can!

Speaking of kitchen stuff, I recently wanted to make a Dutch Baby, and could not remember if cast iron was ok to go from stove top to oven. (Duh, yes, it can do that!) So I looked it up, and ran across this article from Bonappetit. It’s a great reminder of what to do, and not to do with your cast iron.

So, what is a Dutch Baby? Oh, you really need to try this recipe. I had some apples that needed to get used up, and this was a perfect dish to do that with. Think apple pie in a fluffy crepe. Sounds amazing, right? There are all sorts of Dutch Babies out there, so if apple isn’t your thing, there are options. But here is the recipe from the Food Network:

Dutch Baby

Ingredients:

1 large Granny Smith apple

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided 

2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided 

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

1/2 cup whole milk 

2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature 

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

1/2 cup all-purpose flour 

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 

Confectioners’ sugar 

Pure maple syrup, for serving 

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Peel, core, and slice the apple 1/8 inch thick. Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a 9-inch ovenproof crêpe pan or skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add the apple, 1 tablespoon of the granulated sugar, and the cinnamon and toss well. Sauté the apple for 5 to 7 minutes until tender, tossing occasionally. Spread the apple out in the pan and keep hot over low heat.
  3. Meanwhile, melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in the microwave. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla. In a small bowl, combine the flour, the remaining tablespoon of granulated sugar, and the salt. Whisk the flour mixture into the milk mixture, whisking until there are no lumps. Pour the batter over the cooked apple in the hot pan and immediately place in the oven.
  4. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the pancake is puffed and the edges start to get crispy and browned. Dust lightly with sifted confectioners’ sugar, cut in wedges, and serve hot with maple syrup.

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, may you find your wins where you can. Even if the progress is shelf by shelf. Continue to find the humor in all the silly parts of your day, and may you be granted to the ability to at least chuckle at the not so funny parts. Possibly enjoy rekindling the love for your cast iron pieces and enjoy the new recipe. Continue to be kind to yourself and others and keep on keepin’ it thrifty and fun!

Links from Today:

https://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/cooking-tips/article/how-to-use-a-cast-iron-skillet

https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/dutch-baby-12055315

Read the Thrifty Sisters, both new and old by visiting https://thriftysistersliving.wordpress.com/ or find our latest posts on Face Book https://www.facebook.com/ThriftySisterNewsletter .

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 14, Issue 2 – January 16, 2022

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 14, Issue 2 – January 16, 2022

Greetings, my Thrifty Sisters, and happy 2022! I really have no idea how so much time has passed since our last newsletter, but it seems that life really can get in the way of simple pleasures. And I have missed you. But, once again, I am incredibly appreciative to have a quiet moment and can enjoy my morning coffee with you.

Often, I talk about managing our time, and how to declutter our space. And those practices involve changes in habits and mind sets. But what happens when life gets in the way, and you don’t have the mental resources to manage one more thing? Neglect is what happens. And generally, neglect is a bad thing. I feel like the last portion of my 2021 was full of neglect. But navigating through the neglect and eventually correcting the neglected items, I did manage to find some silver linings.

Do you have problems with little gnats in your house plants? If you have a gnat problem, allowing your house plants to dry out also takes care of those pesky little bugs. While I don’t recommend ignoring your house plants to the point of them never bouncing back, this is one way to reduce the gnat problem. In fact, after several months of only getting watered once a month-ish, many plants seem to be appreciative of their now more regular waterings. Prior to neglect, each plant got watered once a week, whether the soil was dry or not; obviously mistake #1, and I wonder why I had gnats! But now I water them as needed (more like a week and a half apart in waterings) and simply check in on them more. And, yes, I do talk to my plants.

Do you have problems with minor rust spots on your cutting knives? We did. Years ago, my Hubby was looking into easy and thrifty ways of cleaning our knives. It worked, and all was well until this year when small rusty spots started showing up again. The answer, vinegar and neglect. Well, I think normally one would call this “patience” as one needs to let the cutting portion of the knives soak in a glass of vinegar. Except in our case. I’m not sure how long that glass full of knives and vinegar hung out on the kitchen counter. It was just working it’s magic as life continued to get in the way. Then one day my hubby took them out of the vinegar and washed them and they were like NEW again. With a fresh sharpening, we were back in the business of having rust free and nice knives.

Do you still have fall squash? While neglect is terrible for food, squash seem to store well on the kitchen counter. I have been wanting to make squash soup out of these little gems for months. But, well, you know, that life thing seemed to get in the way of making any of that happen. Speaking of neglect, I was also able to bring in my hung garlic from the garage. The garlic seemed to have survived the garage storage, including our fair share of cold snaps this winter. And due to neglect, I am certain they are well cured at this point.

Here’s my Squash Soup recipe. I think taking the time to roast the squash with onions and garlic is the key to a complex flavor profile. I’ve adapted this recipe, originally found from thepioneerwoman.com.

Squash Soup

2 lbs of squash – I have used this recipe with acorn and butternut squashes, delicata would be really good, too

1 medium onion, halved and sliced into large wedges

4 cloves peeled garlic

Freshly ground pepper

2 Tblsp. (or more) Olive Oil

2 Cups of chicken broth

1 Cup of heavy cream, or 1 can (13 ½ oz) coconut milk

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and in a baking dish drizzle olive oil and add pepper to the bottom.
  2. Cut your squash in half and take out the seeds. Place the squash cut side down in baking dish, and smear around the bottom of the pan to coat both the pan and squash. Add whole garlic cloves and onion wedges.
  3. Place in oven for about 30-40 minutes, or until the squash skin is fork tender.
  4. Allow to cool, until you can safely handle the squash. Some recipes say 10 minutes, but I usually go about an hour of cooling on the stove top. Once cool, you can easily scoop the squash out if it’s skin and add onions and garlic into a covered bowl to refrigerate until later, or place directly into your soup pot.
  5. Once ready to make the soup, add chicken broth and squash, onions, and garlic. Bring to a boil and let simmer for about 5-10 minutes.
  6. Once heated through, use an immersion blender to blend soup to a smooth texture, or in small batches in your countertop blender. Return to soup pot.
  7. Stir in cream or coconut milk and allow the soup to warm, just a few minutes.
  8. Serve and enjoy. (makes about 4-6 servings)

While my 2021 didn’t go as planned – and honestly, whose did – I think that there are a lot of things each of us may have learned. Maybe you learned something about yourself. Possibly you discovered new little life hacks. Whatever you may have discovered in 2021, I am hopeful that these were wonderful discoveries, or that you were able to find silver linings in the things that just didn’t go your way. Life is a crazy journey, folks. But it’s certainly better when you’ve got a bestie or two who can hold your hand and help navigate you through the good and the bad.

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, may you and your 2022 continue to be amazing. Find the marvelous little parts of your day and relish in them, even if neglect is lingering. I learned a lot due to neglect. Which again, is not a life trait I would suggest embracing, but there are teachable moments. Be kind to yourself and others and keep on keepin’ it thrifty and fun!

Read the Thrifty Sisters, both new and old by visiting https://thriftysistersliving.wordpress.com/ or find our latest posts on Face Book https://www.facebook.com/ThriftySisterNewsletter .

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 13, Issue 12 – August 22, 2021

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 13, Issue 12 – August 22, 2021

Greetings, my Thrifty Sisters, and happy August! I realize it has been a hot minute since I last posted. But I am here today, and I am incredibly grateful to have a quiet moment and that I can leisurely enjoy my morning coffee with you all. I hope that you have all had a wonderful summer and for some of you, a good start to your school year!

I am assuming “busy” is the correct adjective for everyone over the past few months. While my summer didn’t go as planned, I still forcefully squeezed some lovely garden time into my weeks. My garden remains to be a place of comfort, reflection and learning for me. We have one little mystery plant this year. With the heat and drought stunting most of my veggies, I am happy to report that most things survived my 3 weeks of marching band camp neglect and are starting to take off. Late season cuc’s and tomatoes seem to be on schedule, and we eagerly watch that little mystery plant. Still not sure if it will be a melon or a squash, but it has flowers and little green fruits, so it won’t be long before we know. The heat and neglect did not stunt the prairie flowers! They have been in spectacular form this year.

I did learn a couple of little hacks to share with everyone this year. I am still on track for cutting down paper towel waste. Those lovely little un-paper towels (remember the flannel cloths that I was obsessed over in the spring) work miracles in the fridge crisper drawers. Lay one of two down to cover the bottom of the drawers. Change out when they get a bit grimy. Boom, no paper towel used!

Did you know that they make un-paper towels from a fabric called Birdseye Cotton? Well, those are great, too! I was bought both the flannel and cotton cloths from Gina’s Soft Cloth Shop on Etsy, in case you were curious. ( https://www.etsy.com/shop/GinasSoftClothShop?ref=simple-shop-header-name&listing_id=471373245 ) The cotton seems to be even more absorbent, particularly if you are trying to keep moisture off of your stored veggies, although I have had no complaints with the flannel cloths.

The other little trick I learned was how to make more crisper storage in my fridge. I took a big casserole sized plastic storage container, and placed the extra fresh foods in there, placed an unpaper towel or 2 on top to cover the veggies and put everything in a plastic store bag, which I loosely tied. Yes, that’s a lot of plastic stuff, ugh, plastic, I know. But since we seem to have an abundance of plastic bags (when will stores start letting us use our own reusable bags again?!) I figured I might as well try to reuse them. I also learned that one can simply switch the bag from right side out to inside out repeatedly as one replaces veggies. Just wipe off the excess condensation from what was the inside on the bag (which is now your outside) to keep things dry.

Do you remember back in January that I had shared two articles about mindfulness and how to incorporate those ideas into our every day lives? This idea can be very powerful, especially during our harvest season. This excerpt come from https://blog.alomoves.com/mindfulness/10-mindfulness-rituals-to-transform-your-daily-life :

“Explore slow food and mindful eating: You’ve heard about fast food, but have you ever tried “slow food?” This style of eating frequently happens on vacation and while dining at nice restaurants, but you can bring that same enjoyment into your everyday life. Savor each sip with a morning tea meditation. Slow down during each meal.  Consider the source of your food, and strive to purchase from companies that align with your values. Feel gratitude for the people and processes that allowed your food to arrive at your table. Focus on the flavor of each bite and take your time eating. Acknowledge the ways that each meal nourishes your body.”

During one of my pre-marching band meals, I was enjoying a lovely, but quick meal. I always get a kick out of thinking about which farmers grew which part of my meal. On this day, I was overcome with so much gratitude about the team of people that it takes to get one marching band director on the field, and how much influence these people have on the success of our marching band program. So, from our CSA growers, to our dairy and meat farmers, to my cousins Larry and Kathy who provide so much fresh food to so many, to the band parents that make sure our band never wants for our anything, to my husband who made sure that there were always healthy and quick options for me to eat on the go. The gratitude was overwhelming and very real. So, thank you to the huge community of people that make my marching program a success. No one wants a cranky and hangry band director. Not only do each of these people feed my tummy but knowing that dozens of people have my back to make each day a success for my students was an overwhelming thought. I truly have much to be thankful for.

Before I sign off for the day, did you know that today is National Eat a Peach Day? To learn more about the day, and find some “peachy” recipes (ha!) check out this link: https://www.checkiday.com/ec134eddcac8045cafa6460fcc594d21/national-eat-a-peach-day

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, may you and your August continue to be amazing. Find the marvelous little parts of your day and relish in them. May you have all the opportunities to find gratitude in your life. Be kind to yourself and others and keep on keepin’ it thrifty and fun!

Read the Thrifty Sisters, both new and old by visiting https://thriftysistersliving.wordpress.com/ or find our latest posts on Face Book https://www.facebook.com/ThriftySisterNewsletter .

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 13, Issue 11 – April 18, 2021

Greetings, my Thrifty Sisters, and happy April! Wowie, what a month it has been! Spring is springing in my neighborhood, along with the rest of the spring chaos that comes as we all sprint towards to the end of the school year and begin to gear up for whatever comes next in our lives. Whew, it’s exhausting!

One of the activities that I am whole heartedly embracing is the opportunity to get back out in the communities and re-learn how to adjudicate spring solo and ensemble contests in a socially responsible and safe manner. SO much hand sanitizer and struggling to maintain a 6-foot distance while trying to project through my mask the subtle nuances of finer musical performance and playing techniques. Try explaining mouth embouchure to a 6th grader without taking your mask off! It has become a fun challenge.

But an even bigger eye opener has been observing the tenacity of our young people. While I am brought in as an “expert” in the field of music, I always walk away feeling that I learned more from them, then what they may have learned from me. And I have an even larger appreciation of what exactly we have been asking of them, and all our society, over the past year. It is a flat-out miracle that one could get their student into nice clothes, bring them to school (for yet, one more spring activity!), and have some stranger put on their (what I fondly call) “judge-y pants” and make comments about their musical performance. And, an even bigger miracle is to have said student walk out of that high pressure situation and feel good about themselves.

There is hope out there, my Thrifty Sisters. There is hope. Every one of us faces daily contests, while we figure out how to move forward after what the past year has dished out. May I suggest that we take a cue from our young ones. Put on our nice clothes, face our fears, do our best, and hope that we come out on the other side with a feeling of accomplishment for our efforts.

Well, that’s a pretty heavy reflection on what I have learned from our younger generation. With gardening season right around the corner, who knows what sort of life lessons I am going to ponder from my garden view this season! Last year I contemplated creating paths and not giving up hope on those random mystery plants that provided beautiful fruits. I can not wait to see what this year’s gardening delights are going to teach me.

Before I sign off for the day, I would like to remind you all that Earth Day is coming up! This coming Thursday is the official celebration, but why not get the party going now, and let it run all year long. Here is link about how to get kids of all ages involved and interested. While it is geared towards holding a school wide event, and let’s be honest, we missed the committee boat for 2021, there is no reason one could not scale this down to your own home or neighborhood. With so many fun ideas and concepts, this would be a great list for family activities throughout the year: https://earth911.com/living-well-being/earth-day-school/

With all of the changes to large group safety, here is a great link to several online Earth Day activities: https://www.theverge.com/22384138/earth-day-climate-environmentalism-celebration There are some really creative ways to bring many likeminded people together, without the large crowds.  

And, of course, I’m not going to leave you without some fun recipes to try out, or to spark your creative chef minds! Did you know that April 24 is National Pigs in a Blanket Day? Ha – I didn’t either!! But here is a link to your classic cocktail faves, as well as some creative meal options that are inspired by Pigs in a Blanket: https://www.today.com/food/5-ways-celebrate-national-pigs-blanket-day-6C9576839

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, may you have a lovely April. It’s not too late to get your seeds sprouting – I just added another seedling tray to the top of the fridge last week. Apparently the 12 tomato and 9 pepper sprouts were just not enough for my spring plant needs! Continue to have hope that all is going to be well and do take a cue from our young ones. Enjoy planning your Earth Day activities and participating in any of the online events, and Happy Pigs in a Blanket Day, all while we keep on keepin’ it thrifty and fun!

Read the Thrifty Sisters, both new and old by visiting https://thriftysistersliving.wordpress.com/ or find our latest posts on Face Book https://www.facebook.com/ThriftySisterNewsletter .

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 13, Issue 10 – March 14, 2021

Greetings, my Thirty Sisters, and Happy March! Spring is certainly in the air in my neighborhood. The Robins have returned, we had the first rumbles of thunder last week, things are greening up, and we even fired up the grill for the first time! Although, my neighborhood is also in a winter warning for tonight. Ah, Spring on the Prairie! Somehow a March storm doesn’t seem as dismal, since we all know we have arrived at the beginning of a new season.

Speaking of Spring, I am happy to report that I have my tomato and pepper seeds planted. I potted some little baby plants that were living in pint jars while they were growing new roots. And yesterday was nice enough where I could even take my dirt mess outside to the deck and gleefully toss my potting mix about, without a care. The smell of the potting dirt and getting my hands in the soil was so rewarding.

Being mindful of such small pleasures is a gift that I hope each of you may find this season. The warmth of the sun, the fresh air, hearing nature’s symphony in the birds and rustling sounds are beautiful moments to treasure. I sincerely hope you find your happy moments.

In the previous newsletter, I wrote on and on about these flannel cloths that my friend Cathy had. Seriously, this has almost become an obsession! So, I searched around, and found that there are many makers that have jumped on the flannel train (thanks, Etsy!). And the flannel products that one can find is impressive and creative. I had no idea that one could purchase tiny little flannel squares to roll onto your toilet paper rolls. Honestly, I don’t have any desire to embrace this product, but people are making them, and someone must be buying them. Maybe these became all the rage during the great TP shortage of 2020? Although, I can get behind flannel face wipes and ditch the need for cotton balls.

And down the wild rabbit hole of flannel products I went (seriously, you would be surprised what people are making out of flannel!). Until I found a maker who not only sells the flannel (un)paper towels, but also had a seconds sale rack. These are the less than perfect wipes that also need a good home, and are clearance priced. I don’t think these can arrive fast enough, since my rag pile is disintegrating quicker than I anticipated. And, Cathy, tell your Mom thanks for the sewing inspiration, as I found some clearance flannel at my local hobby store (in the remnant rack, of course!) and will be making some of that into small face wipes to fit in my cotton ball jar, and maybe more larger wipes for home and studio use.

With St. Patrick’s Day looming in our very near horizon (yay! I love this holiday!), don’t forget to get all your green clothing out for this week. Maybe the kids need a new St. Patrick’s Day themed craft? Check out this Lucky Slime recipe: https://masonjars.com/st-patrick-s-day-lucky-slime-in-a-mason-jar.html?utm_campaign=639644_St%20Patricks%20Day%20Slime%203%2F6&utm_medium=email&utm_source=MakerPlace%20Inc&dm_i=5343,DPJW,37ALX6,1FIYU,1

And while this is typically the week for corned beef, cabbage and ALL the potatoes one can stuff into their face, here are 17 other green-ed up foods to enjoy throughout the week to stay in the St. Patty’s Day theme. https://thegirlonbloor.com/17-fun-green-recipes-st-patricks-day/

Maybe when you think green, you are suddenly craving a salad? Why not try this recipe (bonus points if you dig your grill out from the snow to really amp up cooking the shrimp!): https://www.paleonewbie.com/paleo-shrimp-cobb-salad-with-garlic-vinaigrette/?utm_source=reCAP+Customers&utm_campaign=c3f0e8c2d8-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_03_26&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_dc8db817d0-c3f0e8c2d8-107870733&mc_cid=c3f0e8c2d8&mc_eid=09a0c5f50e

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, have a beautiful week. Happy St. Patty’s week to you all! In a true Irish Blessing, “May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, The rains fall soft upon your fields, And, until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of His hand.” And, as always, be kind to yourself and others and keep on keepin’ it fun and thrifty!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 13, Issue 9 – February 28, 2021

Greetings, my Thrifty Sisters! Today is the last day of February, and tomorrow is what I like to fondly call, The Most Wonderful Day of the Year. According to my Dad, March 1 is spring. While he was fully aware that the spring equinox occurs later in the month, it certainly is refreshing to know that we have made it through the hardest part of the winter. I am going to miss getting my Dad’s enthusiastic phone call declaring the arrival of March 1. It is a day to celebrate as we would eagerly talk about all the new things that we have planned for our upcoming gardens and comparing notes about the return of the Robins.

Do you have your garden books and planting planners out? I have heard from many of my friends how giddy they are to start planning their gardens and finding new seeds to plant and daydreaming of warmer days ahead. Maybe you have started some seeds already? With The Most Wonderful Day of the Year arriving, it will be safe to assume that I will be pulling out my seedling equipment and gleefully working through my seed packets this week.

Recently, my friend Cathy shared with me how she is reducing the need for paper towels in her home. And it’s brilliant! I’m just floored I have not seen more products or ideas like this. The basic concept is flannel cloth. Yeap, flannel. A lovely, not bulky fabric that sticks to itself when rolled up on a paper towel roll. Or you can fold them in a canning jar to dispense, as either wet wipes or dry wipes. I’m so fascinated and a bit obsessed!

Cathy directed me to this shop, located in Oregon, called Marley’s Monsters (https://www.marleysmonsters.com/ ) My mind is just blown with the creative ideas and resources that this web site has to offer. Which brings me back to their product called Unpaper Towels – these are the flannel wipes! Now, if you are a crafty sewer, you might just fall in love with the idea of making your own. If you don’t have a serger option on your sewing machine, I think that one could get creative with pinking shears or figure out how to tidy up the raw edges without creating a bulky hem. Marley’s Monsters has a direct link on their home page to take you to the fascinating world of flannel wipes/towels and you can see how nicely they roll up on a paper towel holder. Or if you like the handy storage option of keeping them in a glass jar, they even provide a tutorial on how to fold your wipes so they continuously dispense when you pull one out. https://www.marleysmonsters.com/blogs/tutorials/fold-store-your-cloth-in-3-ways

I might be way to excited about the concept of flannel wipes! Cathy even gave me one that her Mom had made so I could try out the cloth. With every wash the flannel gets softer and more absorbent. IT’S AMAZING! Thank you, Cathy!

So, why am I just over the top ecstatic about this idea? Well, not only is it a reusable item, and keeps trash out of our landfills, but eventually they will regain its cost by saving one from having to buy disposable items. I need wipes like this in my life. Seriously, I am wearing out my current rag supply at an alarming rate.

When I opened my studio back up to in person lessons last August, I knew I needed some cleaning rags to disinfect high tough surfaces. Everything from the doorknobs to drum sticks get wiped down every day, and several times during the day. That is a lot of cleaning rags each week. I did have some old kitchen towels that were beyond their use in the kitchen, so I trimmed those down and sewed up the raw edges (yay for my 7th grade sewing skills!) to give me a new collection of sanitizing rags. But that fabric was already a bit distressed, and while I have certainly given them a new second life, there seems to be an end to their life span.

As those rags began to disintegrate, I started looking for other options. Somehow buying rags seems like a silly expenditure, but there I was, masked up and standing in the cleaning aisle of Target. Microfiber clothes are an option, but if you have ever used those, you know that they are not really created equal. Some of those wipes are terrible. And I’m not a huge fan of microfiber material because it is a synthetic, petroleum-based product. That’s a whole new discussion for a different day.

So why not just use cut up t-shirt rags? Well, I am trying to still create a sense of professionalism in the studio, and honestly, I just want the pile of rags to at least look decent, without spending hours at my sewing machine. I did eventually land on a product that was a cotton polyester blend and were reasonably priced. But I’m not in love with these rags. They do their job, but I sure wish they were 100% cotton. Ugh, how did I not consider flannel as an option?!?! Although, thanks to Marley’s Monsters, I learned how to fold them up and get them in a jar for easy dispensing and storage!

Probably more than you ever wanted to know about cleaning rags, but this is my new thrill in life, for the moment. Hopefully, this will get you thinking about the disposables in your life and how you can make a change that accommodates your pocketbook and your life. I did ask Cathy what she does when she has kitchen messes that she does not want to run through her washing machine. She said that they have a hidden away paper towel roll for messes like bacon grease. I think that is very reasonable!

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, may you have a wonderful start to spring tomorrow. Enjoy The Most Wonderful Day of the Year. Call your loved ones with excitement and pass along your love to them. And, seriously, flannel – what an amazing material, and so much creativity to find great alternatives to disposables. As always, be kind to yourself and others and until next time, keep on keepin’ it fun and thrifty!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 13, Issue 8 – February 7, 2021

Greetings, my Thirfty Sisters, and Happy February! If you are wondering how February snuck up on all of us so fast, join the club! I have no idea where January disappeared to, but I am eagerly looking forward to the fact that spring is on its way. Old Man Winter has been easy to handle this year, but he is showing his true colors across the region this week. I hope you have your cozy clothes ready.

For those of us in the US, today is Super Bowl. While the Super Bowl parties might look a bit different this year, the one thing that I have heard from several of my friends is that today is all about the food, no matter how small the celebrations. And since the weather seems to be just right for soups, why not celebrate for many days to come with your own Soup-er Bowl party?

I am not sure how I have lived this long without knowing that PBS has a recipe tab on their web site (once again, totally late to the party!). Check out their site for all of your soup-er desires, and feel free to poke around and discover a whole new world of recipes: https://www.pbs.org/food/course/soup-and-stew/

Another thing that I have heard many people talk about is organizing and cleaning out their spaces. Often, when winter drapes the white frigid blanket across the prairie, we are stuck at home left to dig out both our snow and clutter. This past year has provided even more opportunity for folks to work on home cleaning and clearing and making improvements.

While clearing clutter seems to be a big trend right now, there are many health benefits of having a clutter free environment. Sure, it DOES take time and effort, but the satisfaction of reclaiming a space is incredibly rewarding on many levels. This article provides a quick overview of both mental health and physical health benefits of working on one’s clutter: https://makespace.com/blog/posts/5-health-benefits-of-decluttering/

And why stop there? Not only does clearing clutter provide you with mental and physical health, but one can also practice gratitude and mindfulness at the same time. Remember my challenge that I posed to you last month about finding and developing mindfulness in 2021? What if you combined your decluttering with practicing gratitude? Instead of feeling guilty about the clutter that you collected and are now “have” to clear out, one could choose to think about the immense amount of appreciation they experienced from these items that once served a purpose in their life. It is ok to move on from that time in your life and not feel guilty about it. People need to change and grow, and our interests and tastes do the same. Make room for new ventures, both physically and mentally.

And, to end today’s newsletter on a bit of a lighter side, here’s a link to several clever ways to repurpose food packaging. https://earth911.com/living-well-being/repurpose-food-packaging/ Recently, I bought this giant plastic “honey bear” shaped container full of animal crackers. Once we finished the giant honey bear, I washed it out and it now holds about 6-quart jars worth of rice. (I bought 20 pounds of rice and did not think through the storage options very well!) So now we have a rice bear, which helped free up my panty shelves. FYI, 20 pounds of rice takes a lot more quart jars than one would imagine.

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, may you have a fantastic February. Enjoy all of the future Soup-er Bowl parties, good luck cleaning out what ever clutter is creating distractions from your clear path, and continue to find humor in the strange predicaments that you might find yourself in. Seriously, 20 pounds of rice, what was I thinking? Well, at least it’s cute in a giant honey bear shaped container! Until next time, keep on keepin’ it fun and thrifty!

Read the Thrifty Sisters, both new and old by visiting https://thriftysistersliving.wordpress.com/ or find our latest posts on Face Book https://www.facebook.com/ThriftySisterNewsletter .

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 13, Issue 7 – January 17, 2021

Greetings, my Thrifty Sisters, and Happy 2021! While many of us were optimistic that ’21 was going to turn a new leaf and provide hope and optimism, it appears that ’20 has a terrible hang over, and the Tylenol is not working. Possibly ’20 didn’t hydrate enough before it’s binger?! Even though this new year seems to have a rough start, there is so much possibility left in this new year. (don’t burst my happy bubble on this one, just go with it)

So how do we manage 2021? While many are into the new year resolutions, I have been trying to work on sustainable goals for each year. Simple ideas that can creep into one’s lifestyle and change the way one perceives their day. Not only does this help with overall mental health, but it also improves physical health, and the best part is that this is free and open for the taking.

I used to joke with people that would ask, “How’s today going” and I would say, “I got out of bed and both feet hit the ground, so that’s good!” With the addition of Covid to our lives, I now say “I hit the ground with both feet and can smell and taste my coffee this morning, I think today is going to be a good day!” It’s all about perspective.

Here are 2 easy to read articles about mindfulness and how to incorporate it into your day. Start small. Pick one element to think about or change. Maybe you want to try 1 mindfulness approach per day. Possibly you might want to practice one of these concepts for a week or longer. But, trust me, even just one mindful change to your daily living is going to make a HUGE impact in your life, and to those around you. And it is free. The only thing you have to lose is the baggage you are carrying around.

https://blog.alomoves.com/mindfulness/10-mindfulness-rituals-to-transform-your-daily-life

https://mrsmindfulness.com/11-ways-to-bring-more-mindfulness-into-your-life-today/

It’s much like the stop should-ing on yourself idea. One can say, “I should do the laundry today”, or you can choose to say, “I could do the laundry today”. No more guilt, and so much empowerment in just one word. But, before one can make those changes, one needs to catch themselves in the act.

While I leave you a little bit of food for thought, let’s redirect to actual food. Recently, I was watching a program on the PBS channel, Create. It was a cooking show that had a fascinating history and colloquial overview about dumplings. I have always thought that dumplings were such a strange and wide term. Dumplings in one part of the US means something different from region to region, and much different than across seas, but yet they are similar. It was almost a relief to find out that my confusion about dumplings was justified. Some of you might have fond memories of grandma’s dumpling soup, or a favorite dumpling dish from a much-loved Chinese restaurant.  In my life, “Dumpling” was a beloved term that my Grandma Anderson called us girls. We were her little dumplings. I’m pretty sure that was a good thing.

Check out these 30 dumpling recipes from around the world. Maybe 2021 will give you a chance to create a new favorite family dish, or dust off that recipe card you inherited from Grandma. Or maybe you just want to start calling your loved ones Dumpling?

https://www.thespruceeats.com/30-delicious-dumpling-recipes-4589235

And there you have it, my Thrifty Sisters. May you have the best success in finding and developing mindfulness in 2021. It might not solve the world’s problems, but it will help you find happiness and contentment in today, and I think that is a win. Enjoy the dumpling recipes, and with Valentine’s Day around the corner, don’t forget to tell all the dumplings in your life that you love them. Until next time, keep on keepin’ it fun and thrifty.

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 13, Issue 6 – December 20, 2020

Greetings Thrifty Sisters! Once again, I seem to be following my recent trend of writing on the week of a holiday, and this month is no different! To those of you who are celebrating Christmas, Merry Christmas! And for those of you who may be celebrating different holidays, may the joy of the season fill your hearts with happiness and good cheer!

In this ever-joyous time of year, I don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer, but do take time to think about your holiday waste. According to the Stanford University, (https://lbre.stanford.edu/pssistanford-recycling/frequently-asked-questions/frequently-asked-questions-holiday-waste-prevention), “Americans throw away 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year’s holiday period than any other time of year. The extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage, or about 1 million extra tons per week!

If every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet. If every American family wrapped just 3 presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields. The 2.65 billion Christmas cards sold each year in the U.S. could fill a football field 10 stories high. If we each sent one card less, we’d save 50,000 cubic yards of paper.”

That’s a lot of rubbish! No wonder our collection companies seem to run later and later each week during the holiday season. My family has always saved the “nice” Christmas wraps and bows and ribbons. I remember doing this as a kid and continue to do so, even to this day. I think that some of it was out of necessity, as I remember in my college days it was tricky enough to purchase gifts, let alone give them their full wrapping glory. But, thanks to the gift-wrapping collections that I had started to save, and get to borrow from my folks’ house, one could really make their gift shine by reusing ribbons, bows and even papers, as well as gift bags and tissue paper.

But, just think about all of the crafty possibilities that one could discover with wrapping paper – check out these 19 ways to reuse your gift papers throughout the house and all year:  https://www.buzzfeed.com/alessiasantoro/reduce-reuse-recycle-that-wrapping-paper

Many of you might find that you have extra cloth scraps from mask making this year. Put those scraps to good use and make some cloth gift bags. Check out a tutorial here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G42yfB_eqAc You could get even get extra crafty and sew different fabrics together to make bigger bag options with your scraps. And don’t forget about the recycled ribbon options one could add to this project!

Recently, my son and I pulled out the good ol’ jar of hot cocoa mixes and enjoyed a nice cup of cocoa while he was doing laundry. I always forget how nice and soothing a warm drink on a chilly day is. That first cocoa always makes me want to get creative with my warm beverages. And by creative, I mean how much Irish Cream would be appropriate in that cocoa cup, but that just might be me. Ha!

In all seriousness, though, warm beverages during the holidays, and beyond, are always a treat. Here’s 60 warm beverage options for you to try out. One can always make these beverages with or without extra spirits, depending on your audience. https://www.countryliving.com/food-drinks/g2087/winter-holiday-drink-recipes/

And with that my Thrifty Sisters, Happy Holidays to each of you! I have heard that Zoom has once again taken off their 40-minute limit to accommodate families who will be apart this season. Fully enjoy the opportunities to wrap you gifts in recycled options (and remember that you can do this year-round!) while appreciating those warm beverages. Warm wishes to each of you, as you remember to keep on keepin’ it thrifty and fun, all year long.

Read the Thrifty Sisters, both new and old by visiting https://thriftysistersliving.wordpress.com/ or find our latest posts on Face Book https://www.facebook.com/ThriftySisterNewsletter .