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!

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

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!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 9, Issue 13 – February 5, 2017

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters, and Happy New Year!  Little did I know that January was going to be so fast and furious, but it has.  It feels good to have a moment to enjoy my morning coffee with you all.

I have collected a moderately large collection of tips and tricks for you all over the past month and a half, but the biggest and probably most exciting discovery I made was realizing one needs the right tool for the job.

If you have ever been in my kitchen and we have prepared meals together, you know that my knives have always been a bit on the dull side (I feel like there are a lot of potential jokes one can have at my expense with that statement). I have tried all sorts of cheaper knife sharpeners, and they just never worked as well as that one that my folks keep around.  My Dad has this round sharpener that looks almost like a yoyo, but instead of where the string would be on a yoyo, one places the knife in the grooves and roll it back and forth. I never could find one of those.

Then last fall I was cleaning out the kitchen drawers and cabinets. Of course, I spied the dull knife collection, and the sad sharpener, and began trying to figure out how this conundrum could be solved. I mean, it’s knife sharpening, not rocket science.  How can my blades be so dull? Well, as my mind was wandering while I was sorting out container tops and bottoms (why do those never add up correctly?!) I allowed my head to go to gardening thoughts, and reminded myself that I need to begin sharpening my gardening tools in January… and here lied the solution to my problem! I went out to the garage and grabbed my sharpening stones, that I use for the garden tools, and I am proud to report that my knives have never been in better shape! All of these years the answer was in my garage!

Now, fast forward to shortly after Christmas. My cousin had dropped off some squash varieties to my folk’s house, for us to pick up and bring home.  One of these squashes were the largest butternut squash I had ever seen in my life. I had no idea that butternut squashes could be small toddler sized! With the sassy and sharp knives, we had little trouble getting these amazing delicata squashes opened and prepped, but my goodness, something seemed wrong with how tough the skins were – I was peeling some delicata squashes in the sink, and keep having to just push the peeler through, and then kept banging my knuckles on the sink bottom. It was a very unpleasant experience.

And then my hubby asked if the peeler was dull?  (Oh boy, yeap, insert more jokes at, my expense here!) My hubby is SO smart.  I wished I would have thought of that! It never dawned on me that a peeler could get dull. Again, my folks had one of those old-school metal ones, and it seems to always slice right through things.  We have what was probably the first peeler I ever purchased back in the college days – plastic handle and all. Not what one would have ever considered quality, but it usually did its job.

So, the question arose if I could sharpen the peeler. A quick google search turned up all sorts of interesting comments, such as some professional sharpening places (wow, those exist?!) do not sharpen peelers. Others said it’s just time for a new peeler (that seems wasteful), but getting into those little grooves proved to be bit of a challenge with my sharpening stones, and didn’t seem to help. Another suggestion was flipping the blade around, but my peeler was obviously not built that way.

There is this little video floating about:   I did not want to dull up any of my knives, but I did give this a short go, in hopes of not ruining my pairing knife.  It turns out that possibly, it was just time for a new peeler. So I bought 2 new ones.  One with a large blade meant for larger veggies (remember that toddle sized squash I was telling you about) and a smaller one for more reasonable sized veggies, as I had no idea how I would like the flat, larger peeler.

And, yes, having the right tool for the job certainly made life much easier!  With newly sharpened knives I could slice through that monster butternut squash with ease, and with the new big peeler, I peeled that baby in no time! I bet I would have massacred that squash with my old peeler.  But I cut up and froze 26 cups of butternut squash that day. And peeling the remaining delicata squashes are a breeze with the new and sharp tools.

So, the correct tool for the job still rings true. And having a second pair of eyes on a project is helpful.  It always seems that someone else is going to catch your errors and offer suggestions.  This is not a bad thing. Constructive comments are helpful. Suggestions from others might sting a little bit, but it’s because someone else came up with a grand solution that we were not able to see in the moment.

And with that my Thrifty Sisters, continue to practice your listening skills and deductive reasoning skills.  Research the options. And be grateful.  Had my hubby not suggested the peeler was dull I might have had a pretty gnarly fistfight with my sink trying to peel that monster squash. Until next time, keep on keepin it thrifty and fun!

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 9, Issue 12 – December 18, 2016

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters! Wow – where has the month of December gone? In fact, where has 2016 gone? It’s hard to believe that the last time I wrote was the Sunday after our Thanksgiving holiday, and next Sunday will be Christmas.

Today’s first tid-bit was shared by Sue.  I really did want to get this out prior to now, as I am sure that many of us had a hunk of celery stashed away in the fridge from one holiday recipe and in hopes of getting it to the next holiday.  Or what about just putting celery in the fridge, in general?  I’m sure we have all experienced what Sue describes, but you are going to love her trick!

                Lora, I was getting mad because as one person; I’d use a couple ribs of celery. Next time I needed it, I looked at wilted yellow ribs…I can keep it almost forever if I wrap the celery tightly in aluminum foil. Now I don’t have to throw celery away in between batches of spaghetti and stir fry.

So, if you would like to run off to your fridge and wrap your celery up in tin foil, I will certainly wait so you can preserve some food. Sue also made mention that she cuts off the root end, but this is not required.

So, now you have the bottom end of a celery bunch…  seriously, don’t toss that out – or the leaves and tops!! I know that I have shared this little trick in the past, but it might be a good time to remind you, and share a new recipe for soup stock. Recently, our son has had a “special lady friend” joining us for Sunday night meals.  She is a vegetarian and I am delighted to get to cook for her – I now get to try out all those recipes without a single complaint from my son, who knows it is only polite to try to honor our guest’s food needs, and it is a sure-fire way to get him to try some new foods!  Mommy score, all around! So, the last time that I went to replenish our chicken stock supply, I decided to also make some vegetable broth.

The first little trick in either broth recipe is to save all the little ends and parts of veggies that you would normally throw away. I toss these into a large zip lock freezer bag, labeled, “for stock”. Please note that things like broccoli, cauliflower and other cruciferous veggies cannot be used for soup stock.  They will leave your broth bitter. So, leave those out of the stock stash! The recipe below has great instructions, and they make their broth on the stove.

My little trick is that I wrap all the veggies in a piece of cheese cloth and tie it together with string, then pop it into a crockpot full of water and set it on low for about 8 to 10 hours. After all that time, you just pull the cheese cloth bag out of the broth (feel free to add this to the compost pile!), and start ladeling up some pretty amazing veggie broth.  I freeze this in 2 cup portions, and of course label and date your broth!  I would not want to get the veggie and chicken broth mixed up! To make this as a chicken stock, I just add the frozen chicken carcass to the veggie pieces and parts (in a new piece of cheese cloth that gets tied together with string), and let it simmer on low for 8 to 10 hours in the crock pot.

Notice that some recipes suggest to cook some of the aromatics together in oil, then add it to the crock pot.  I am sure that this is a great way to add complex flavors, but for me, I just don’t have time for that extra step. I just chuck my scraps in a bag and let it simmer away in the crock pot.  It is so easy, its almost like cheating, AND you get to use pieces and parts that you would normally just toss out. SUPER SCORE!

It appears that I have gone on and on about my over-excitement of food scraps. But, seriously, how cool is it that you can make such wonderful broth from stuff you were going to just throw away.  And did I mention that I do not add any salt to my broth?  Now it’s pretty darn close to sodium free. And no weird canning junk that some companies add to their cans. Yeap, pretty much a perfect recipe, as far as I’m concerned.

With Christmas just days away, now, here are some really neat ideas that you can try.  They might even be gift worthy, or possibly a great activity to eat up some of the kids’ free time over a long and cold Christmas break.

This first one was sent to me by Britt.  I just LOVE the idea of jiggly soaps! And the recipe looks pretty easy – it might be a fun craft to do with your family. Seriously, jiggly soap… just the image makes me smile! Who couldn’t love jiggly soap?! Thank you, Britt, for sharing!

Does anyone remember making peanut butter play dough, as a kid?  This would be the holiday (and not edible) version on a classic homemade toy. And you can store it in a mason jar – could this project get any cuter?!

I hope that you have had many opportunities to celebrate with family and friends over the past few weeks.  Tis the season to enjoy these gatherings, try new recipes or bring out classics, and to reconnect with those near and dear through holiday cards, gift giving, and all the craziness that we seem to put ourselves through. But, truly, during all of this, please remember to take time and enjoy the magic of the season.  Take in a children’s Christmas program (one really can’t have negative feeling after such a cute program!).  Enjoy the excitement of the season. Go out and view the light displays throughout the neighborhoods and downtowns.  Turn on some Christmas music, or possibly enjoy a family sing a long or play along! The main factor is to enjoy SOMETHING this season. Whatever the magic that brightens your heart may be, please stop the craziness, even for just a moment, and enjoy the magic happening around you.

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, may you enjoy your holidays. Enjoy your celebrations, respect others, keep on keepin’ it thrifty and fun, but most of all, find the magic and enjoy it. Merry Christmas.

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 9, Issue 11 – November 27, 2016

Greetings, Thrifty Sisters!  I hope that you all had an amazing week!  If you live in the US, you perhaps celebrated Thanksgiving.  I am happy to report that we had a lovely meal with my husband’s family, and it was so yummy! I do have to admit that the days prior to Thanksgiving were not “exactly” what I had planned on, but we pulled together and made it all work out. In the end, we all arrived at the table with many things to be thankful for, and I am grateful for the help and kindness that others could offer us this past week.

So, what have I learned recently that I feel like I need to share with everyone? I learned how to save and extend the life of both kale and spinach. The week before Thanksgiving, it was obvious that we needed to clean out the fridge, consolidate left-overs from big containers to little containers, find room to house a farm fresh turkey, and roll up the sweater sleeves and do a little scrubbing in our fridge. It is times like this that I make some of the grandest kitchen discoveries!

We happened to have some kale and spinach (in very large containers), and they were both approaching that “not so fresh” point. Did you know that you can freeze your own kale and spinach? Hmmm, sounds rather silly when I write it out like that, but the answer is yeap, you can! And in the process of learning how to do both, we tried out a new recipe, which was another keeper – even our son enjoyed this soup recipe. I will undoubtedly plan on bringing this recipe back to the table.

I do have to admit, I went ahead and just chopped and froze the spinach, then did the research.  Apparently, one should blanch their spinach first, unless you plan on using it within a few weeks.  Whew, dodged the bullet on that one! And, I am happy to report that the spinach that we used in the soup recipe seemed fine, even though I did not blanch it.  Here is a link on how to freeze your own spinach:

Fortunately, kale is one of those items that you can blanch, or not blanch, depending on what you would like to use it for, and how long you think it might be in cold storage. Check out the instructions here: And this link has several other how-to-freeze links listed at the bottom. I bookmarked this page, as I can see that I am going to be referencing a lot of these tips.

Speaking of freezing, did you know that you can freeze up squash, as well?  Oh, the joys of squash keep amazing me!  I had a huge garden fresh squash from my cousin’s farm, and it was much more than I could use in 2 baking dishes (yes, it was massive!), so I froze the other half for later.  I followed the fresh freezing method in this link and can’t wait to bake these little gems up.

My sister in law, brought a delicious squash dish to the holiday table this past week, and I think that my frozen squash would turn out great in the recipe that she shared with me:

And here is the link to the soup recipe (that uses frozen spinach) that I have been raving about:

As you can see, it has been a busy couple of weeks learning how to save and preserve food and trying out new recipes. Of course, each time one can preserve in their own home, they are not only creating a positive impact on their own health, but one is also cutting down on their overall assortment of items to the landfill. Especially when one reuses simple items like zip lock baggies. Wash, dry and reuse!

Another item that we can consider removing from the landfill is paper towels.  Yes, I have them.  I very rarely use them, but they are great when one has a wicked mess that you do not want to put through your laundry machine. So, consider ditching paper towels and use dish or microfiber towels in your kitchen and household cleaning routines. They are washable and reusable, and will save you cash. Paper towels are pretty pricey for how long they last.

With the South Dakota air chilling up and drying out, I know that my skin is crying for some relief! Consider making this Clementine Hand Scrub, and if you love it, consider making this as a hand-crafted holiday gift. Wouldn’t this be adorable in little mason jars?! I must give this recipe a whirl and see how it works, but don’t clementines just sound heavenly?!

And with that, my Thrifty Sisters, may you have a delightful week!  Enjoy preserving your greens, please enjoy a hearty soup or squash recipe this week.  If you have a dish that you are in love with, please share it with me! And I hope you love the clementine hand scrub!  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 .