Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 9, Issue 20 – April 9, 2017

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters! I trust that everyone is having a great start to spring.  In our neighborhood, we had unseasonably warm temps (80 degrees) yesterday and there is talk of a bit of snow for tomorrow. The thought of snow is not dampening my spring fever one bit. It won’t stay and I’m sure that my yard could use the moisture.

As I was sitting down to think about things to write, I noticed that Easter and Earth Day fall in the same week this year. Opportunities to gather with family and friends are abound, and so are those lovely holiday meals that we look forward towards. Possibly you are considering signing up with your local farmers for their future CSA deliveries.  So many grand prospects await all of us in April!

As Earth Day approaches, please consider making this a non-consumer event.  We don’t have to buy gadgets to make us more earth friendly and lighten our footprint. We have the power right now to do things like fix the items that we have, or swap with others for items that we might need (there are so many sites and applications to use to consider items in your area for sale or trade), and of course, my favorite is asking if I REALLY need that item. Possibly the question of can I recycle it (or upcycle) it occurs. I’m always trying to figure out how to repurpose items, but sometimes, one just must get rid of the clutter, and if you don’t love it, allow it to move along where it can be useful to someone else.

Another way to solve some of our waste problems is to embrace the movement of “ugly” or “misfit” food items.  These are generally produce related items that are not “perfect” and do not “make the cut” to arrive in the grocery stores. Most of the time this produce is just tossed out.  How incredibly wasteful! I know that many places are teaming up with local food banks to help get this food to individuals who need a solid meal. Some local food and meal services will even take excess garden produce.

Recently, a local grocery store chain started promoting “ugly” foods and offers them in a discount bin.

Another great way to help is to buy it directly from the farmer.  Many local farmer’s markets are bringing in the “less than perfect” produce, and selling it for a discount. Just because the misfits are not showcased at the front of the stand, doesn’t make them any less tasty or healthy. Once you chop up that odd shaped pepper or tomato into a salad, no one will know it was “ugly”, but it will have that same fresh from the garden taste, and you helped stop waste. Win for everyone!

My Dad is a fan of purchasing, what he calls, “garage sale priced meat”.  This is the meat that is approaching the best-by date, but if you freeze it right away, you can enjoy quality cuts of meat for a fraction of the price of its fresher counterparts, and you help stop the waste.  Otherwise, grocery stores are forced to toss this out.

Are you all fired up to save the world?  If you are crafty with needle and thread, check out these 70 ways to upcycle your denim. With spring fashions approaching my neck of the woods, consider getting crafty and creating some fresh new looks for yourself with some of the old pieces in your closet.

Finally, allow me to leave this delicious sounding, and ever so tempting dessert for you.  With family and friends arriving in the next few weeks, this might be a fun treat to have on hand.

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, may you have a fabulous week. Happy Easter to those who will be celebrating. Happy Earth Day to all of us. Enjoy searching out the misfits – not only in your produce isle, but in all the people that you meet. We all have some oddities, but that does not discount any of us. And with that, keep on keepin’ it thrifty and fun!



Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 9, Issue 19 – April 2, 2017

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters, and Happy April! I hope everyone survived April Fool’s Day without any major calamities. As a teacher, April Fool’s Day is a dreaded day for me, so I am incredibly thankful that it occurred on a Saturday this year.

In past issues, I have touted the benefits of those magic eraser cleaning blocks. If you do not have them, they are these foam rectangles, about the size of a sponge, and use only water and their “magic little powers” to get things like crayon marks and scuffs off walls, stains off my counters, and a whole host of other uses. But I have always wondered what they were made of. Apparently, that is a trade secret, which makes my little head just whirl with questions. I use those suckers until they literally crumble away, so I have very little eraser to toss out by its life end. And then this week, I stumbled across the following article.

Apparently, the melamine foam that magic erasers are made with are nontoxic (good news!), but they can leave behind bits of their plastic remnants on surfaces.  That explains the gritty feeling after scrubbing something.  I follow up with a wipe from a damp towel, or soapy water and wash rag if it is kitchen related, so I’m hoping that is enough to wash the remaining particles away. Either way, I am not planning on tossing out the magic erasers, but I will continue to wipe or wash the areas that I clean. To read more about magic erasers, visit this link:

Now that the burning question of “what are those made of” is somewhat answered, let’s address paper towels.  How is everyone doing with the challenge of reducing our usage? Like I have mentioned in the past, I keep a roll around.  They get to clean up those messes that I really do not want visiting my laundry machines, like car oil. I really do not want that mingling in my laundry. Or vomit.  That is a no-can-do for me, so the quicker I can get that mess out of the area and out to the trash bin, the better it is for everyone. But the one thing that I do use them for is to help keep the moisture from my greens in the fridge.  Although, I have often wondered if I can use something else. And, the answer… yes. Yes, there is another option!

Read this short article about thrifty ways of finding reusable towels, and her recommendation of using tea towels in your fridge. I happen to have some cloth napkins that would fit this need very nicely, especially since some of our favorites are beginning to look a little over loved. What a perfect way to repurpose these cloth napkins!

If you happen to have discovered new ways of cutting down your paper towel waste, please feel free to share!

This past week, our new picnic on the road recipe was a modified version of chicken avocado salad roll ups. Instead of using the shredded chicken, I used sandwich meat, to reduce the bulk of the rollups, and I am pleased to report that most of the filling stayed inside their little roll ups.  I did make the mistake of trying to divide all the filling into 2 tortilla shells, rather than spreading it out into 4 to 6 shells.  But, that was my own fault. I thought there were more shells in the fridge than there were.  Either way, these made a delicious addition to our car picnics, and helped break up the sandwich routine a little bit. These would make great lunch options, or appetizers for any gathering.

And last, but not least, I know that I have told many people about this clever little trick, but I am not sure if I have shared this with you. Many years ago, my friend Tanya shared with me a clever way to peel one’s garlic by pressing the clove under a knife blade to break open the little shell. That has been my go-to garlic method for years.  Then I ran across this video last summer. I tried it a few times with a regular canning jar and a standard metal canning lid. It worked like a charm, but I really dented the lid up!  It’s amazing what a clove of garlic and some vigor can do to a metal canning lid!! Then, last Christmas, I got a set of the ReCap canning jar lids.  I love them.  I use them all the time. And now I can continue to shake my way to freshly cleaned garlic without obliterating my metal lids, and this is a marvelous way of cleaning several cloves of garlic at one time. Scroll down a bit on this link for the video on how to shake your way to cleaned garlic.

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, may you have a wonderful first week of April. Happy spring cleaning. Keep your imaginations open to new ways of making your routines more efficient, and zero waste friendly. Enjoy the roll up sandwich recipe, and happy garlic shaking! Until next time, keep on keepin’ it thrifty and fun!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 9, Issue 18 – March 26, 2017

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 9, Issue 18 – March 26, 2017

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters! It’s incredibly hard to believe that the last week of March is upon us.  I hope that we all have lamb like weather to bring in April, and that the lions are behind us.

It’s Schmeckfest time in our neck of the woods and both my hubby and I have once again been blessed with the opportunity to not only play in the pit orchestra of this year’s musical, “Brigadoon”, but to also be welcomed into the Freeman community with open arms.  It’s been late nights and long drives, but it is always so worth the opportunity to create such lovely music with everyone involved. This also marks an opportunity for my hubby and I to get creative with our travel time together. One of the best ways is to create a picnic meal that we can enjoy.  This past week has been mostly sandwiches, but even a sandwich can be fun if you use fresh baked breads, surprise ingredients like sprouts or greens, fancy mustards and yummy cheeses. It’s always about making every day special!

One new-to-me dish concept that I have recently rediscovered, and can’t wait to try my hand at once we are home in the evenings, is something called sheet pan dinners. It’s certainly not a new concept, as I remember my mom cooking dishes like this in the oven, when we were kids. You know, before the first crock pot arrived in our home! I love the notion of one meal in one pot. Visit this link to 25 sheet pan meals covering a wide variety of meats and vegetarian options:

This next idea comes from Britt (thanks, B!).  I love these creative ways to use various pieces of what would normally be considered “junk” to be turned into garden art. Maybe you have a few items in your garage that you just can’t quite bear to toss out, but they really are not serving a purpose anymore.  Consider strategically placing them through your garden space and watch the gardens grow around them! Enjoy this inspiring link:

Possibly a little spring cleaning might be in order, to find those hidden little soon-to-be garden gems. Check out the links below for ideas on homemade cleaners for all kinds of surfaces and tips on keeping those surfaces clean:

And allow me to leave you with this last thought for the week. Studies show that helping others makes you a healthier and happier individual. Random acts of kindness, volunteering, and just helping each other out leads to a happier and healthier you.  Try it out and see how you feel!  I’m including a couple of links, just in case you need more evidence that helping others is a good thing.

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, may you have an amazing last week of March, and don’t get fooled on April Fool’s Day! Enjoying making each day count, and thrive on the little things that life offers. Enjoy thinking about some newly repurposed garden art or possibly some lip-smacking new oven delights that might find its way to your table. And be nice to each other.  Help each other out.  It’s the right thing to do, and it has great health benefits for you, too! Who knew?! And with that, keep on keepin’ it thrifty and fun!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 9, Issue 17 – March 5, 2017

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 9, Issue 17 – March 5, 2017

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters, and Happy March! Did March come in like a lion or a lamb in your area? Spring is on it’s way, and I could not be happier to watch the upcoming change of seasons occur. It’s still a little early to get to toodle around in the garden, but yesterday I went out to pick up a few items that had been knocked over, and some fallen limbs. It felt so nice to be in my yard again, and to see little plants starting to wake up.

I sadly must report that there has been no time to spout anything, or start forcing tulip bulbs (no matter which method one chooses to start them!).  But I do need to run to the hardware store today and pick up some basic items (like furnace filters), and I am fully intending on swinging through the seed department and looking at what type of bulbs they have on hand. I feel like today is my day for some awesome early gardening.

Do you know what I miss the most, right now? Fresh basil.  Wouldn’t a little pot of basil be splendid to start?! Ha – I’ll put that on my early spring garden wish list. But seriously, doesn’t that just sound amazing?!  Has anyone tried overwintering basil from previous years?  Hmm … my head is already whirling around with grand garden thoughts!

While I continue to day dream about upcoming garden grandeurs, I’m going to post this list of 12 items that one can make, rather than buy. There is a treasure trove of ideas on how to make seed starting pots, your own brown sugar, cold brewed coffee, disinfecting wipes, granola, cleaning spray, and more!

Are you still struggling with wrapping your head around spring cleaning? Try a few of these 15 tricks to help you maintain your already clean spaces, and save time with some of our other daily little mishaps:

Need help getting rid of some of the extras that accumulate in the fridge? I love versatile recipes, and this link gives you 20 recipes that can work with what you may already have hanging out in the fridge and cupboards, and help spark some ideas on how to utilize the food you already have, rather than allow it to rot and need to be tossed out. Or maybe some of these recipes will be the spark for creating this week’s meal menu!

Last week I had posted a link to some soup recipes from and one of the recipes was a pizza soup. I went back to the site, and discovered that the ingredient list would not pass the picky test for our son, but I checked out some other pizza soup recipes and ran across this delicious, and versatile recipe. Instead of the ½ lb hamburger and ½ cup pepperoni, I substituted a pound of turkey sausage, and I used a whole 10 oz bag of tortellini instead of ravioli. We had some delicious and hearty lunches last week! Check out the link, and read some of the suggestions that others had used in their substitutions on the bottom.

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, may you have a wonderful week. Enjoy every day. Consider trying to make at least one new item and clean one spot in your home, and have fun getting thrifty in your fridge! Waste not, want not, and be thankful for the full belly you could provide for yourself. Until next week, when we change our clocks forward, keep on keepin’ it thrifty and fun!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 9, Issue 16 – February 26, 2017

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 9, Issue 16 – February 26, 2017

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters! I hope your past week provided you with some opportunities to enjoy each day.  I certainly had several chances to appreciate the various weather displays that we had this past week. One day I was relishing a spring like stroll across the school campus, with no jacket, and the next day I was bundled up and shoveling. Nothing like a little weather to keep one on their toes!

I’m sure your weeks are very busy. Mine are, and I know that I can not be a cult of one. Alas, no micro greens or sprouts have been started, nor have I found tulip bulbs to force. But each day has been eventful and satisfying. And that mail pile I was talking about – it’s still there, but it is much smaller than last week. And you know what, it’s ok! Our living spaces are clean and the kitchen is in good shape – only needing the basic daily maintenance (minus that mail pile!). I would be a fool to not acknowledge this as a win.

Did you know that January is known as national soup month?  I didn’t, until I was stumbled across this little gem of a link. And remember, storing soup in a jar is a great way to stack up lunches or meals in your fridge, and just make your fridge look super cute! Glass jars in my fridge always make me smile. It’s probably because I know exactly what is in them and I know that they are not loaded with processed junk, preservatives and copious amounts of sodium. We may have missed national soup month, but it’s never too late for some new recipes!

How many of you are using your reusable bags?  Good job! Are you finding some of your heavily used bags beginning to show wear and tear or in need of a good washing? I was always curious if some of those bags could be washed, and apparently, some can stand up to a washing machine, but others need to be hand washed or spot cleaned.

Here is a nice guide on how to clean and sanitize your reusable bags, including a handy chart based on the bag material. The only thing I didn’t agree with was their advice to tossing out old bags that were worn or dirty. That seems so wasteful and counterproductive to the idea of reusable bags, doesn’t it? And depending on what the bags are made from, they can’t even be sent to curbside recycling.

But after a little Google work, there is a place for the non-fixable bags to find a new home or purpose. Check out ChicoBags: Now you can round up unusable resusables and send them to ChicoBags. If you happen to have hoarded too many bags, ChicoBags will take those, too!

Here is the message from their web site about their Zero Waste Program, “We have an active repurposing and recycling program for all brands and types of reusable bags. ChicoBag doesn’t want any reusable bag to be left in a dark closet or sent to a landfill. Send us all your tired masses of reusable bags, functional or not. We will distribute them to fixed and low income families ready to start a reusable bag habit, or recycle them into new, useful products through partnerships with artists, crafters, and non-profit organizations.” Send your bags to:

ChicoBag Company

C/O Zero Waste Program

747 Fortress Street

Chico, CA 95973

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, may you have a great week making all sorts of new memories. Check out the soup recipes, and enjoy making lots of extras for upcoming lunches and easy “crazy night” meals.  And consider the above information about reusable bags to be the catalyst to opening that space that houses those bags and begin to sort through them.  Keep the ones you love, and donate the rest to a place that will give them new life.  Until next time, keep on keepin’ it thrifty and fun!


Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 9, Issue 15 – February 19, 2017

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 9, Issue 15 – February 19, 2017

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters! Guess what… I saw my first robins this week! The weather is certainly feeling like spring, the robins are chirping, I wore shorts yesterday – just to be able to say that I wore shorts in February and didn’t get frost bite! I hear Old Man Winter is coming back later this week, but man, this little reprieve is just what a person could use at this time of year!

The craving for fresh sprouting things is still in my heart and head.  This past week proved to not be the week to get to satisfy that desire, and now, I desperately want blooming tulips! I seem to appear very needy for blooming and sprouting things, don’t I?!

Have you ever forced bulbs?  I have forced paperwhites in a vase with rocks and water, I’ve done the good old Amaryllis in pots, and last year I purchased a pre-forced vase of tulips (yes, total impulse purchase, but I just had to have blooming tulips!). I stored that vase for this coming spring, and I’m curious what my options might be, at this point.  I was just doing a little research and I see that maybe I should have purchased my tulip bulbs last fall, and allowed them to “chill” for several weeks. Hmmm… this might be a great “live and learn” moment for me.

Here is a very informative article about forcing bulbs in pots, and what type of bulbs force the best:

And this article has great advice about how to force them in a vase of water, and a cheater method.  Guess what I might be doing this upcoming week, as I allow my newly learned lesson to sink in:

With all this chit chat about spring, some of you might be feeling like it is time for that spring cleaning. Ugh, what a chore, right?! But what if we rethought “spring” cleaning? What if we created basic, daily habits to help our home stay clutter free?  Earth shocking, and mind blowing, right?! We all have clutter. I talk about it all the time. It’s a real struggle. The reality is, clutter forms when one procrastinates. It happens when we don’t put something away, right away. It happens when items don’t have a “home” to go to. Just like Daddy said, “don’t touch it twice” – meaning, put it away the first time, so you don’t have to stare at it on your counter (guilt!), then finally get around to putting it away.

And another reality of clutter is that you have to create a clutter free environment in order for basic maintenance to work. For many of us, that is a very daunting task. But if one were to tackle small jobs, until they are finished, then you get to do the easy, basic maintenance in that space, allowing you to move to another clutter filled area. This process is not going to happen in 24 hours like some blogs like to tout. The clutter didn’t show up in 24 hours, it’s going to take a while to get rid of it.  And guess what – that is oK!

We are all so very busy.  This is why clutter arrives on our counters and flat surfaces! But you are worth the effort of living in a clutter free space. You will feel SO much better about your space, yourself and the items that you choose to love, and create a space for.

I was just reading this article, and I think there are some super ideas that can help each of us. For me, our pile of mail on the kitchen counter is ridiculous. We certainly are not following the “don’t touch it twice” method here. But, somedays it is a miracle that the mail evens makes it into the house. We try to purge it once a week. That’s a step in the right direction. And steps forward are always a win, in my book!

I hope you enjoy the tips in this article, and possibly, they may motivate you to declutter other spaces in your home!

Again, be patient with yourself. Don’t be harsh on the collection of “things” that have amassed. Just do something about it now. No guilt, no worry, just move forward, and stick to the project until it is done. And no time line!  Maybe the bathroom closet takes 15 minutes or 3 weeks. Just keep at it.  You will be so happy with that space when you are done, and with yourself.

And with that my Thrifty Sisters, may you have an amazing week full of warm weather daydreaming, planning towards the future, getting your spring sprouting fix on, and being kind to yourself as you tackle the clutter in your lives – both mental and physical clutter. Until next time, keep on keepin’ it thrifty and fun!

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Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 9, Issue 14 – February 12, 2017

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters! And Happy Early Valentine’s Day to each of you. I have to be honest, I think we must show love and appreciation to those that we adore EVERY day, not on just Feb 14th.  We don’t have to lavish our sweeties with large meals and expensive gifts to show love and appreciation. And many times, those random acts of thoughtfulness throughout the year can mean much more than the common, commercial holidays.

This year, I am happy to report that our South Dakota winter has been fairly mild on my side of the state. And with the warmer temps and melting snow I am intensely fighting off spring fever. It’s way to early, but I want nothing more than to be outside and in my garden. I’m even optimistically looking for the first robins, even though I still rationally tell myself it is just too soon.  Although, I’m pretty sure that my folks saw their first robins in late February last year, so there is hope!

If you are like me and craving the first garden greens and yearning for the garden time, this might be a good opportunity to dabble in sprouts and microgreens.  It’s certainly not full n gardening, but it is something that one can grow in a short amount of time and it will satisfy that urge to eat something from a garden, even if that garden is on your countertop.

Possibly you are curious if there is a difference between micro greens and sprouts.  Yes, there are differences! Check out this web site for a great side by side comparison of their differences:

When I grow sprouts, I use the jar method.  Just make sure that you rinse the sprouts at least once and day and let them drain well.  Check out the instructions here: And, growing them in large or quart mason jars are just too cute!

Interested in micro greens?  I have been wanting to try this for years – maybe this year’s spring fever will be the catalyst for starting my new counter top garden.  Check this out for instructions:

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, may you have a wonderful, loving and growing week. I realize today is a short newsletter, but I have a ton of things that need attention today.  If all goes well, I’ll be sprouting stuff at some point this week.  Keep caring for each other and keep on keepin it thrifty and fun!