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

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

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

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

Green Enchilada Soup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe you would like a collection of chili recipes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thrifty Sister Newsletter Vol 9, Issue 21 – April 23, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pickled rhubarb, anyone?  Look no further:

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


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!