Saturday, February 7, 2009

Saving the Soap

By Kirsten Scott

I did something last week I swore I'd never do. I microwaved a cup of leftover coffee for breakfast. 

This should make coffee aficionados everywhere swoon. The Starbucks barista down the block is rolling over in her barista, um, bed ('cause she's not dead yet). Yes, it's true. I took the extra coffee I had brewed the day before in my French press -- which, admittedly, had been sitting there on the counter all night -- and microwaved it instead of making a fresh batch. 

Boggles the mind, right? 

What caused this strange and ill-advised behavior? The economy, of course. I'm testing myself. What can I give up? What behaviors can I change? Where can I cut back and how can I learn how to live with less? 

Now don't worry. I'm not going to begin to talk about what the country is facing, or what we might be facing as individuals. You don't come to this blog to worry about that. You come to escape from that. But it occurred to me that we've got a lot of wisdom around here. And probably more than a few tricks up our sleeve. The microwaved coffee wasn't too bad. I could save some money drinking microwaved coffee instead of dumping out the extra and making it fresh every morning. I was intrigued by my little success. If microwave coffee works, what else could I try? What other tricks are out there? 

So I'm coming to you to learn a few new tricks. 

Here's a couple more I've tried since the coffee incident: 

My daughter makes Valentines for her kindergarten class. This year, I'm not buying those prepackaged ones. For one, I never liked them in the first place. And for another, they're expensive! So this year, we're going old school. Pink paper, stickers, crayons, and some candy hearts. I'll be honest. We aren't that crafty. They don't look all that good. But what the heck. Things are different now. We can do this sort of thing in the name of the economy. 

I wrapped a birthday present the other day in paper that had been used before. There were some marks where I'd pulled off the old tape. I figured that was okay. 

I had a bar of soap in the shower that was really tiny. Annoyingly tiny. Usually, I'd just throw it away, or send it down the drain. This time, I smushed it onto of a new bar of soap, merging the two together. I felt very proud of myself. Saving the soap. Taking this "doing more with less" thing to an all new level. 

So what tricks can you share with me? Any ideas for saving the soap in today's crazy, mixed up world? The sillier the better -- I'm sure we could all use a laugh, as well as a few extra pennies in our pocket! 


Christine Wells said...


Christine Wells said...

Ah, woohoo, bien sur!! The rooster is MINE, ALL MINE, BWAHAHAHAHA!!!!

I haven't had the rooster in so long and it feels goooood, let me tell you... Hmm, do you think he'll likes Peking Duck for dinner?

Ahem. Back to business. Kirsten, as always, I loved your post. Strangely, your story of microwaved coffee was not offputting to me. I actually like instant coffee (ducking and running for cover) so I suppose it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to drink day old stuff.

Economies--I try to use every bit of fresh produce in my fridge before I go and buy more. So on the last night, we might have a curry with all sorts of interesting veges in it. I have that down to a fairly fine art. We wrap presents in cheap Christmas paper all year round. Which started out as a joke and ended up being our trademark. So much so, that a lot of people return the favour. Oh, yeah, and I'm hoping to toilet train my younger son soon, mainly because nappies are so darn expensive. I'm sure there's more but I'd better stop now in case my real Scrooginess comes out.

Helen said...

Congrats Christine I am sure you two are going to have lots of fun

Kirsten I only use instant coffee and as for the soap I have always done that since we were children a trick taught to us by Mum.
I always try not to waste anything but I guess when times are tough we think about ways to save money I will be interested to see everyones ways.
I am on my daughters lap top at the moment my computer is not working properly so looks like I will have to spend money and get it looked at I don't like being without it

Have Fun

Christine Wells said...

Hi Helen, did you do that soap bits in the stocking trick? Can't remember where I heard that one, maybe from my gran who lived through the Depression.

Natalie Hatch said...

Christine you're on the ball today.
I used to make my own soap, but with all the little kids around the house it's a bit too dangerous to start that all up again. I did make this coffee grounds soap which would clean and exfoliate your skin. It also took away bad foot odour, so it was great. Unfortunately everyone wanted some and it was the first batch to go.

Helen said...

Yes Christine I have done that before when we were kids my Nana always did it and Hubby's Nana used to have what they called a soap save a small wire basket with a handle on it and she would put all the bits of sunlight soap (very plain soap) in it and use it to wash the dishes you would shake it in the water and get soap suds.
I am looking forward to everyones ideas
Have Fun

Minna said...

Well, I make rolls, bread, cookies, pizza, etc. myself. And you can make one bar of chocolate last a bit longer if instead of just eating it you use it for chocolate chip cookies.

Minna said...

And then there's trading! I found this great trading blog -Finnish one, I'm afraid- and I've gotten rid of all kinds of stuff I don't need and been able to get stuff I have use for.

Anna Sugden said...

Great topic, Kirsten. As a former teacher and marketeer, I'm used to drinking cold, stale tea or coffee! In fact, these days I get a shock when it's hot LOL.

The soap trick - where you save lots of little bits of soap in a bowl and smush them together to make one multi-coloured bar is one from my student days.

Since hubby retired, he's been making bread and has his vegetable garden ready to go (Because he likes it not for money reasons - but it helps *g*). We have a compost heap to recycle our food waste - have you seen how expensive fertiliser is from a garden centre?

We re-use tea-bags - of course, you need good quality tea-bags in the first place!

Using drying racks, washing line and the airing cupboard instead of a tumble dryer saves a huge amount of money! As does walking/cycling or the bus - given how expensive petrol is here!

Changing grocery store saves money. Own brand products (if you know who makes them - which hubby and I do from our background in the biz) saves too - but don't be fooled all the time into buying them. Some are just cheaper versions and not the good quality.

How to save money on books? That is the big question - especially as the librarires over here don't stock what I want to read. B&N's membership card used to save me loads, but sadly none of those here. The best I can come up with is still Amazon - at least the shipping is free and you can get some good discounts.

Joan said...

I'm sorry, the thing that popped into my head was "Save the soap, Save the world" LOL

I just spent 5 days without power...does that count?

I am bringing leftovers from resturants more than I used to. I always try to figure out my route on errands for maximum gas milage.

I'll have to think about this....

And Mme! congrats on the GR!!!

Joan said...

And btw, I think homemade Valentines are cute!

Gillian Layne said...

My mom is the Queen of Waste Nothing, as is my dad, and I've tried to learn from them.

Leftovers onto a microwavable plate make a very good lunch.

Leftover vegetables go into a vegetable soup pot every few days.

The day-after sales for Valentine's candy will be good to stock up on for all year baking.

If you don't want to microwave that "old" coffee, pop it in the blender with some Splenda and ice cubes, maybe a dash of milk. Iced coffee is delicious.

My grandmother brushed her teeth with baking soda and gargled with simple salt water all her life.

Shop garage and estate sales! My mother's home is beautiful, full of antiques and character, and she's paid next to nothing for all of it. But they are farm folks, too, and their biggest savings in life has always been the fact that they trade services and favors with others.

They give away freely to anyone in need, too, and they never lack for anything. Good karma.

Kirsten, I am definitely going to make valentines with my youngest today. Thanks for the reminder! :)

Kirsten said...

Christine, congratulations! I'm sure you and the GR will be very the Peking Duck?

You know, I went through an instant coffee phase, before I moved to the Pacific NW and got all coffee-snobby on myself. Maybe I need to go back to my roots. I don't think I'll ever be able to go back to that watery stuff my in-laws drink, though. (shudder). Microwave I can handle. Pouring hot water through the already used grounds is beyond my limits.

Kirsten said...

Oh, and the curry! I love the curry idea! I have been working very hard NOT to throw away food lately. Making a menu for the week ahead really helps. I still throw away bags of salad I've never gotten around to eating and it really bums me out, though.

When we had chickens we'd feed it all to them. That was satisfying.

Kirsten said...

Helen, our "family" computer died a couple of months ago so when the kids want to play they have to use mine. This is very hard for me.

Very very hard for me.

But buying a new computer right now? Doesn't feel quite right. So I'm trying to re-learn how to share. But it's a challenge, let me tell you.

Kirsten said...

Oh, but clearly, Helen, if anyone needs a computer, you need one!! :-) I just meant buying a SECOND computer for our family just because I didn't want to share mine didn't feel right.

Sheesh -- it's only 5:59 here and I stayed up way too late. And I've got a cold. This could be a rough day.

Kirsten said...

Natalie, that coffee ground soap thing sounds awesome -- and maybe it could do something for my not so perfect skin, too! :-)

Kirsten said...

A soap save? I had no idea this soap thing was such a big deal. I just thought I was mashing my soap bars together.

Who knew!

Kirsten said...

Minna, of course you COULD make the chocolate bar last longer by making it into cookies, but then you might have to share it. And that would be a problem, wouldn't it?

Hmmm. Maybe my problem isn't with the economy, it's with SHARING. ;-)

I love the trading idea, though. I tend to just give things to the Goodwill, so I don't have to go through the hassle of finding new homes for my stuff. But it would be lovely to get new stuff, too, without paying for it. I do consign my old clothes at a shop nearby. It's basically like trading, because I use the money I make from consigning to buy new clothes. Which sort of defeats the purpose.

Kirsten said...

Anna, you've got this saving money thing down! We used to be huge composters -- but our pile attracted some friendly rodents. (Okay, I'll say it -- our family attracts rats.) So then we got one of those garbage can style enclosed compost bins, but it never quite cooked right in the bin. So we stopped. And now I feel guilty about throwing all that lovely vegetable matter into the trash. We should definitely start it up again.

We did a worm bin once too. That was nifty, but the worms took too long to eat it all.

Kirsten said...

Oh, and Anna, my husband is a bike commuter. He's a total stud. I bike in the summer sometimes, but I'm super lazy about it. I don't like being cold or wet, which is a problem in Oregon in winter if you're on a bike. LOL.

Kirsten said...

Joan, I still can't believe you went 5 days! That's crazy!

Maximizing your mileage on errands is nothing to sneeze at -- I'm horrible at that. Our grocery store is only a mile away, but there are days I swear I'm there 3 times because I keep forgetting things! I would do everyone a favor if I could just be a little more organized about the whole thing!

Kirsten said...

Gillian, those are great ideas! I've stocked up at after-Christmas sales, but never after-Valentines sales, and I never thought to do it for baking. Fabulous!

As for the Valentines, I hope you have fun with it. We're still halfway through the class list...but it's fun. :-)

You know, as a parent, there are definitely things I do with my kids that are purely because of the peer pressure. I wouldn't have bought Valentines in the past, except that I knew their classmates would, and I didn't want them to feel bad about theirs being handmade. Same with reused wrapping paper -- I love reusing stuff, but I don't want to look like I don't care about the kid at the party, or not keep up the standards of my kids' friends.

I'm really hoping to use this economy thing as an excuse to change all those standards and get back to a more reasonable way of being -- not just because we have to, but because it's how I want to live anyway. :-)

Louisa Cornell said...

Aha! Christine, he was craving some warm weather and Tim Tams, no doubt!

I have been using the soap saving trick for years. I also have a set of pliers in the bathroom to make sure I get every last drop of toothpaste out of the tube.

I reuse tea bags, but I do buy Twinnings, which cost a bit more in my part of the world.

I am the queen of leftovers! And I definitely bring doggie bags home that never see the inside of a doggie!

I make my own dog biscuits as they are healthier and cheaper.

My Mom and I are big thrift store shoppers when it comes to clothes and as a result we get many outfits with the tags still on them for just a few dollars. Our local thrift stores are also a great place to buy books if things get tight.

I don't own an expensive lawn mower and I do have five acres, but a visit from my brother's goats for a week or two usually takes care of the underbrush and all it cost is the gas to have them brought down from his place.

Treethyme said...

1) I try to avoid going shopping when I'm bored -- mall shopping, that is. Dangerous shopping.

2) My husband and I both hate ironing, so we long ago agreed that we would budget to have the laundry/cleaners do that for us. Now we've both cut way down on what we send and I wear more and more things that don't have to be ironed.

3) The biggest economy for us will be my son's graduation from college!

p226 said...

This made me chuckle. I've been places where two day old coffee was considered "fresh." And you were happy about drinking it.

It's been worse than that, too. I remember walking a firewatch and feeling sleepy. You do NOT fall asleep on firewatch. But there was nothing moving but the desert wind and the sand it carried into your eyes. No sound, no sight, nothing. And that's when I decided I needed a "cup of coffee." And I had several packets of instant coffee from our MREs.

Well, I couldn't make fire because of light discipline. So even making hot instant coffee was out. Cold instant coffee? Blech. That's even pushing my boundaries of taste. So, I poured the packet of instant coffee directly on my tongue, spun the cap off of my canteen, and drank half it's contents.

Not as bad as you might think. It tasted vaguely like coffee. It did the job.

The point of all this, is that if you spend enough time in the field, you become aware of just how practical life can be. You learn that yes, you can live just fine without all of these comforts that we take for granted every day. And what's particularly interesting about it, is that you learn that you aren't necessarily unhappy in their absence. Sure, TV and HVAC sure are nice, but you can live without them. In fact, such a life is much more simple without it all.

My grandparents grew up during the great depression. They had NOTHING compared to us. But they still led happy lives.

A practical life, even if forced on you by necessity, is a simpler life. It doesn't really affect the quality of your life, despite what the constant advertisement barrage would leave you to believe. If you doubt me, go spend a month in the woods. And no, I'm not kidding. A straight month in the woods. If you've not done that, you should at some point. You'll come out of it with a whole new perspective on the idea of "fresh coffee," and what it means to you.

Susan Sey said...

Good morning, Kirsten!

Great topic this morning! I think we're all trying to economize a bit. Because I stay at home with the little ones rather than work outside the home, we've always had a 'more time than money' sort of ethos going here at home. Here are some of my favorite tricks:

1) making my own yogurt & granola. I eat this for breakfast every morning, but organic yogurt is spendy. But making your own from organic milk is much cheaper & really easy. I make a couple jars on Mondays & it lasts me through the week.

2) bake my own bread. Again, this is easy to do & takes only a willingness to be home every couple hours to tend the dough. And then I know exactly what's in it, too. My MIL bought a loaf of white bread at the grocery store this summer while she was here. I stuck in the bread box when she went home. I let it sit there until January when I finally threw it out. Any loaf of bread that fails to grow mold in SIX MONTHS cannot be good for you.

3) Whenever we roast a chicken for dinner, I stick the carcass in my crockpot over night & we have chicken noodle soup the next night. (With fresh, homemade bread. MMmmmmm.) Anytime we have a meat-centric meal, I try to stretch it over two dinners at least. Pork chops one night = pork fajitas on night #2. Sunday night's dinner is OFTEN a melange of leftovers.

4) Homemade thank you notes. I'll print THANK YOU on regular old paper & let my kids cover it with artwork. Their grandmas love it & it's inspired their cousins to return the favor. Which is awesome because the kids love to get artwork in the mail from their far-away cousins.

There are tons more but they're boring & make me feel like a housewife. Which I am.

And I can't remember who said it first, but we TOTALLY reuse our tea bags. My MIL nearly faints every time she sees us do it, but hey, I don't mind weak tea. :-)

One thing I won't give up? YOu'll have to pry the high-speed internet out of my cold, dead hands, thank you very much.

Susan Sey said...

Oh, & I can't resist one more:

Homemade pizza on Friday nights. We could order in & pay at least $20, or I could make my own for...let me see...(furiously doing vague mental math)...I don't know, maybe $6?

And my kids get up to their elbows in flour. They love that.

limecello said...

Congrats on the GR, Christine!

Haha what a great post, Kirsten. Hmm... coupons. I've always used them when I could - but last week I saved $3 using :X an expired coupon so I only ended up paying $5. I didn't think the cashier would take it - he even looked at it - but he did. My dad says that never works for him, so I must be cuter. lol.

Otherwise - buying less "luxury" items. I don't *need* to eat artichokes, though I love them, etc. And no snacks! I've never really bought junk food, but sometimes would indulge. Now - I'm not letting myself.

jo robertson said...

Yay, Christine! It's been a while since a Bandita actually got the rooster for a visit, hasn't it!

I can see you're gloating royally over it, too!

Great topic, Kirsten. Those of us who are children of parents of the Depression (does that make sense?) probably understand the idea of saving more than others. The soap-saving example was too funny; that's what I always do. I think I'm a scrooge in my heart.

A miserly habit I have that I can't seem to break is tipping the lotion bottle upsidedown to get the last remaining drop of lotion out.

jo robertson said...

Natalie, what a clever idea with the coffee grounds soap.

Helen, hugs on not having your computer. I panic whenever mine goes down!

jo robertson said...

Anna S, what great ideas you have. Are you sure you didn't live through the Great Depression in another life!

Every time I throw away my veggie peels I wish I had a compost pile! The only vegetables I grow now are my tomatoes because they're so much sweeter than what I get in the store.

jo robertson said...

Gillian, what a beautiful tribute to your mom and her conservation!

Louisa, too clever about the goats! I have an old goat who takes care of my lawns. Oh, wait, that's Dr. Big, teehee.

jo robertson said...

P226, so true. We get very spoiled with our comfortable lives and forget how many of the things we consider necessities are just conveniences.

Minna said...

But it would be lovely to get new stuff, too, without paying for it.

Just look for a trading forum in the internet. There should be few of those around. Then all you need is patience. It's incredible what some people collect or need. Stamp necklace, anyone? I got a couple of those for some stamps I wanted to get rid of. *g*

Virginia said...

Congrats Christine on getting the GR! Have fun with him!

I have tried all of your tricks with the soap and the coffee. I cook a lot but I do make the family eat the left overs. I mean you can take left over roast beef and cut it up with patatoes and onions and cook it down low and have a hash with it. Thats another meal.

I buy a lot of our meat for meals on sale and freeze it. We try not to waste things but sometimes we have to. We have to save when we can.

catslady said...

I too had parents and grandparents that lived through the depression so I have done most of these things all my life. One that wasn't mentioned is that I wash my ziplock bags and reuse them until they fall apart and even then they work for keeping vegetables for a while lol. I also use all that junk mail for scrap paper. I always saved the funnies for wrapping and now my daughter uses any part of the newspaper and decorates it - her trademark lol. Usually I drink black coffee but I've found that if I add a touch of sugar to the reheated stuff, it's pretty good!

Minna said...

Shopping: having a list helps me to avoid from buying all that stuff I didn't intend to buy in the first place.
And fleamarkets: I love those. Clothes, books... I don't have a one single perfume bottle I wouldn't have bought from a fleamarket.

PJ said...

Great blog, Kirsten and so important these days. I've already picked up some great tips from those who have posted so far.

My mom used that soap bar trick when we were kids.

I turn all bottles upside down (shampoo, lotions, salad dressings, etc) to get the last drop out.

I make a lot of foods from scratch including bread, pasta, pizza, soups, etc. I make large batches of soup (and other foods) then freeze them in small bags (which I wash and reuse). When I want soup I just pull a bag from the freezer rather than buying a can at the grocery.

I also make dog biscuits from scratch. Very inexpensive and, as Louisa said, much healthier.

During spring, summer and fall I buy my produce at the local Farmers Market. It's fresher, less expensive and I'm supporting the local growers.

I've always used coupons. I bought a bag of dog food yesterday and saved $6 by using coupons.

I set my thermostat at 67 in the winter, turn lights off when I leave a room, use energy saving bulbs, turn the TV off if I'm going to be out of the room for more than 5 minutes, wait until I have full loads before using dishwasher or clothes washer and unplug appliances when not in use (like the microwave). It only takes a second to do but has resulted in a 50% savings on my monthly electric bill.

Joan said...

If you doubt me, go spend a month in the woods. And no, I'm not kidding. A straight month in the woods.

I don't doubt you p226 but I could not last 1 1/2 days at DAY Girl Scout camp?

Daddy Long Leg spiders? In the OUTHOUSE? And oops on dropping the hotdogs onto the forest floor, picking the dirt off then coming up with valid reasons why you aren't eating any :-)

PJ said...

Kirsten, check out to see if they have a group in your area. I've gotten rid of a lot of stuff through them and have friends who have obtained items through them. Basically, it's a list of people in your area who either have items to give away (free) or are looking for items.

PJ said...

Susan, how do you make your yogurt? Will you post the recipe? Thanks!

Beth said...

Hey, Kirsten! I drink flavored coffee (it's not even really coffee, I don't think *g*) and often stick the remaining half cup in the fridge and reheat it later :-)

I always buy cheap wrapping paper and have even been known to use the comic section from the newspaper or even just the regular newspaper itself.

I only buy groceries once a week and make sure to use any and all leftovers. And since today's grocery day, I'll be sure to be watcying my pennies even closer thanks to your great post :-)

Minna said...

Besides books I borrow CDs and DVDs from the library. And sometimes I get really cheap books from the library -mostly cook books in my case- when they get rid of old books. And I trade books, too. Or take them to the second-hand bookstore.

Kirsten said...

Hi! Back from a lovely walk to the park with the family. I am loving all these ideas!

Louisa, I am a big fan of the thrift store. I had to get a bunch of new towels and found perfectly good ones at the Goodwill the other day -- along with a pair of jeans for me (4.99!). I did spend $6.99 on a toaster that only toasted on one side, though. LOL. A new toaster would have cost $10.99, so I'm not sure I got a real bargain on that one.

I love the goat idea! I've heard some of the local municipalities around here have brought in goats to keep the blackberry brambles under control -- apparently the goats are good at eating bad weeds and leaving the good ones. And they're much safer than pesticides. Smart goats.

Kirsten said...

Treethyme --- Oooo, I hear you on the dangerous bored shopping. This is definitely to be avoided at all costs. I personally find Target to be a very dangerous place. If I go there, I WILL find $100 worth of products to purchase. Even if I only needed two things. Very dangerous.

As for the ironing, my husband started sending his shirts out to be cleaned, when he realized it only cost $1.75 per shirt and took up so much of his life to do it himself. But I tried this and it would have cost $5.50 to get my shirts pressed. Where's the equity in that! Hmph. So I have to do my own ironing.

Kirsten said...

Oh, and Treethyme, let's get those kids out of college soon! I'm sure that will be a big savings! :-)

Kirsten said...

p226 -- You know, in my old life, I spent a lot of time in the backcountry, did a lot of backpacking and whatnot. My longest expedition was three months. I definitely learned to live with two t-shirts, a couple of stinky pairs of long johns, and one bowl and spoon. But for all that, we did not drink instant coffee. ;-) We had many and varied ways to make our "cowboy coffee," but we didn't drink instant. I recall sitting around the coffee pot, tapping on the side and waiting for the grounds to fall, or pouring cold water over the top, or even spinning the pot around and hoping for the gravity to force the grounds to the bottom. These were big, important projects. Perhaps the most important parts of our day.

But we weren't sitting firewatch. We were just backpacking. Big difference.

Anyway, you're absolutely right. When you live with less, you find out you're just as happy and satisfied as when you lived with more. Or perhaps more so. It's amazing, isn't it?

Kirsten said...

Susan, I'm in awe of your cooking, baking, and general homekeeping skills. The fresh bread and chicken soup sounds awesome. I love making chicken soup. I do have one question for you -- do you use any premade stock with yours? I find it hard to get it rich enough if I don't use any.

And of course, the thank you notes. I just love the idea of having kids write thank you notes. It's a step beyond my mothering skills.

Fridays are our homemade pizza days, BTW. I don't make fresh crust, we buy a pre-made crust, but we do the sauce and toppings. Still pretty fabulous!

Kirsten said...

limecello -- what? No artichokes? Awk! I don't think they're a luxury at all. No way. Definitely necessity.

Way to go on your coupon cutting! I'm not nearly organized or motivated enough for coupons. I guess I need to work on that.

Kirsten said...

Jo, I'm glad you're enjoying the tips -- I love em! I'm totally with you on the lotions. Right now, I have two bottles of Oil of Olay balanced precariously on their tops so I can get the last few drops out. But I wonder -- is there some way to keep them from falling out of the medicine chest every time I open it?

And I'm telling Dr. Big you called him a goat! :-)

Kirsten said...

Minna, we have something here called "craigslist" where people can sell/trade/share stuff. It gets a little crazy sometimes. We had people lining up to take away my son's old mattress last year. And that was even after I disclosed that it had been used by a kid who was potty training -- and had had a few accidents on it!

Kirsten said...

Virginia -- buying the meat and freezing it for later is a great tip. I remember when we were Costco members I used to do that. It was a little gross, being knee-deep in chicken breasts for an afternoon, packaging and whatnot, but it was definitely a huge savings. Thanks for reminding me of that one!

Kirsten said...

Virginia -- buying the meat and freezing it for later is a great tip. I remember when we were Costco members I used to do that. It was a little gross, being knee-deep in chicken breasts for an afternoon, packaging and whatnot, but it was definitely a huge savings. Thanks for reminding me of that one!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Christine, when did you last have the rooster? It's a long time ago, I know! You'll have to report on whether his behavior has improved. I'm guessing NOT!

And I think he'd prefer Peking duck to Peking chicken!!!!

Anna Campbell said...

Oh, Helen, what an utter pain about the computer. I know how you love your Internet! Almost as much as you love Tim Tams. I hope it's nothing major and it's fixed soon. Seriously, it would drive me bananas too!

Kirsten said...

catslady -- I remember my grandmother rinsing out her ziplock bags, and swore I'd never do that. And now, here I am, rinsing and reusing to my hearts content. :-) This is not just for the economy -- this is a huge one for helping out the planet earth. Those plastic bags are choking us, not to mention all the sea turtles.

I also now use these fantastic reusable lunch bags: They used to be called Happy Sacks but I guess they had to change their name. Anyway, you use it like you would a ziplock, but it's made from cloth that you can reuse, wash, etc. They're fantastic. Highly recommended.

Minna said...

Oh, and here's one way to save, all thanks to Harlequin:

Kirsten said...

Minna -- great tip to bring the shopping list. I have an absolutely horrible habit of going "off list" and buying a bunch of things I don't need. Especially when it's on sale and I think it's a bargain. Funny how if you don't need something, it isn't really a bargain, right?

Kirsten said...

PJ -- I'm glad you're enjoying hearing everyone's ideas! I know I am. Your programmable thermostat is fantastic. I work for a utility, and I can't tell you how many people DON"T have them -- and how much energy we could save if everyone did! And unplugging those appliances? That's amazing. Everyone should do this. Also a huge savings, not just to your bottom line but to our planet!

And thanks for the tip about freecycle. I've heard of that, I need to check it out.

Kirsten said...

Joan -- hahahaha -- I'm not sure I could survive your Girl Scouts either! :-)

p226 said...

Anyway, you're absolutely right. When you live with less, you find out you're just as happy and satisfied as when you lived with more. Or perhaps more so. It's amazing, isn't it?

Exactly my point. Thank you.

Kirsten said...

Beth -- my husband also accuses me of drinking something that isn't really coffee. Too much cream and sugar. *g*

But I like it that way!! :-)

Anna Campbell said...

What an amazing selection of suggestions! I used to do the soap thing until I had a guest who came in and was utterly appalled at seeing the multicolored soap. My parents went through the Depression too (as children) and they were farmers as well - definitely double whammy there on not wasting anything. They'd be appalled at some of the lazy practices I've developed in recent years.

Anna Campbell said...

In 2004, I had four months travelling in the UK and I saved for that working part-time in Sydney and with a dollar to pound exchange rate that was seriously frightening. And yet I managed! And all it took was a bit of effort and a lot of thought. I looked at my expenses and realized I was spending $1,000 a year on coffee from one cafe alone (the one downstairs at work). That went. I tried to stop my two glasses of wine with dinner habit as alcohol is expensive but that was one that was too woven into the pleasures of my life so it stayed. If I saw wrapping paper or cards on special, I bought them. I used to make a list of my birthdays for the year after Christmas and buy all the presents in the sales. There used to be a fabulous CD and book sale in Sydney where the shops unloaded all the current stuff they'd overordered for the holiday season. Got great presents there that had no use by date and saved me an awful lot of money - and were always well received! I stopped buying lunch. That saved a lot of money. My suggestion is work out what you're spending money on and then work out where you can save - it's surprising!

Minna said...

Here's some more to read:

Kirsten said...

Minna, I am also a huge library user. Some might even say, abuser. *g* I don't think so. I just take advantage of all the library has to offer. Books (I think I'm under 100 right now), music, videos, storytime, and books on tape! Love it all!

I have heard some talk about the library being a better model for the future for technology advances, because it's a way to share and reuse without us all buying stuff and having it get immediately outdated. And it would get us all out of our houses and into our communities, which would be a nice bonus.

Minna said...

Speaking of libraries, here in Finland you can borrow sports equipment from some libraries. That way you can try out all kinds of stuff without actually buying it all.

Minna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Minna said...

More ebooks:

Susan Sey said...

PJ wrote: Susan, how do you make your yogurt? Will you post the recipe? Thanks!

Hi, PJ--it's super easy! If you have a digital kitchen thermometer ($7 at Target), a little cooler & a 1 qt canning jar, you're there.

I put 3.5 cups milk and 1/2 cup dried milk into a pot (sometimes I use a double boiler, because it's easier to avoid boiling the milk)& bring it to 180 F. This is just shy of a boil.

Pour the hot milk into the canning jar (scrupulously clean--just out of the dishwasher is ideal) & let it sit on the counter uncapped until it reaches about 115 F. (If you want to speed this up, you can immerse the jar in a pan of ice water.)

When it hits 115ish, scoop in 1/2 a cup or so of plain yogurt from the grocery store. Screw on the lid, shake it up to blend.

Fill your cooler with hot tap water. You're shooting to keep the yogurt between 110 & 115 for several hours. My tap water runs at about 120, so I can just fill my cooler with the hottest tap water I have. Stick the jar in the cooler, shut the lid & let it sit for several hours.

I usually start this process around lunch time. If I think of it, I'll refill the cooler with hot water once or twice during the day but if you don't, it's not a problem. Before bed, I'll take the jar out of the cooler, dry it off & stick it in the fridge. Et voila! It's yogurt by morning!

For my kids, I'll stir in some maple syrup before serving it, as they like it sweeter. I eat mine over granola & apples so I like it plain.

Give it a try! It's good & easy!

Next stop on the housewife train? Making cheese. I've heard mozzarella is an easy one to start with...

Kirsten said...

Eeek! Not the cheese!

Okay -- you can make cheese. But if you get a butter churn, I'm having an intervention.

Susan Sey said...

Kirsten wrote: I love making chicken soup. I do have one question for you -- do you use any premade stock with yours? I find it hard to get it rich enough if I don't use any.

Hi, Kirsten! I don't use the premade stock, because I don't worry about fat. :-) After we eat our chicken on night one, I throw EVERYTHING into the crock pot--skin, bones, dark meat nobody'll eat, etc. I throw in an onion, some celery, a couple carrots, too. Then I let the crock pot cook it on low all night.

In the morning, I strain the whole thing into a stock pot. I salvage any actual meat that came off the bones, but chuck the rest. That's the stock.

Then I make soup, which involves simmer the stock with another round of onions, carrots & celery, plus the left over meat I saved from the night before that didn't end up in the crockpot.

I think it's this doubling up on the onion/carrots/celery that provides the flavor--that & the fat from the skin & bones.

And don't be stingy on the salt & pepper. That's crucial. I don't make what you'd call healthy soup, but even my picky eater licks the bowl clean. :-)

And just the other day I tried my hand at dumplings. We weren't huge fans of how they tasted--we all agree noodles are better--but they were a lot of fun to make. You throw them into the broth & they immediately blow up to like twice their normal size. That's entertainment.

Susan Sey said...

Kirsten wrote: Okay -- you can make cheese. But if you get a butter churn, I'm having an intervention.

For which I will wholeheartedly thank you. :-)

Helen said...

There are some great ideas coming thru and it is amazing what we all do when we have to.

I am jumping between computers at the moment my computer is working but on a very go slow it is slower than when we had dial up so I am lucky my daughter has a lap top for me to use I couldn't imagine being without the net now.

Have Fun

Nancy said...

Peking duck, Christine? LOL! He probably prefers that to ANY chicken recipe! *g* Bwahahahah, indeed, Madame.

Kirsten, I had to laugh at you over the coffee. I zap leftover coffee every time the dh goes out of town. Sometimes, two days running! Now, before that grosses anyone out, let me explain.

He makes really, really good coffee. I really, really don't. But I like his coffee. And I'm a one-cup-a-day person, which means his pot has more left than I'm going to drink in a single day. So I see no reason to waste a perfectly zappable cupful of cold coffee.

Besides which, I am so not a morning person. We have a small kitchen with little counter space (his excuse for not having a coffee-maker), and, more to the point, I suspect, he likes the taste of it brewed through a filter from boiling water. So we have no coffee-maker.

So when you add in liking his coffee, wanting a cup first thing, NOT being a morning person, and NOT having a coffee-maker, zapping leftover coffee becomes almost mandatory. *g*

Nancy said...

Anna S., my dh likes to garden, too, and we used to have compost heap. Until we found out our golden retriever was raiding it.

How we found out has a high gross-out factor, so I'll leave that to everyone's prolific (almost said fertile--oops) imaginations.

So we don't have a compost heap anymore, alas.

As for books, that's hard. I've stopped buying hardbacks except in very rare cases. If I lived as close as you do to Hay-on-Wye (i.e., on the same land mass), I could rationalize frequent trips there as massive savings! *g*

Nancy said...

Joan, saving enough stuff maybe could save the world!

Glad you have power again.

Bringing home restaurant leftovers is wise for another reason. The "portion" on the plate there is generally 2 true portions anyway. At least. So bringing half home prevents wearing it later.

Nancy said...

Gillian, my father used to come home during the summer and take the coffee left from the morning, pour it over ice, and add milk.

Half the drinks the coffee shop chains sell are some variant of that anyway!

Nancy said...

p226, I felt for you on the coffee thing. Your solution was ingenious. You make a valid point about needs vs. wants. I'm old enough to remember when the only name likely to be on anyone's jeans was Levi Strauss and no one cared anyway.

Kirsten said...

Hi Nancy! I'm afraid my "sacrifice" with regard to my morning coffee has revealed the extent of my coffee-snobbery! ;-) As for your lack of counter space, I highly recommend the French press. Allows you to make more than one cup at a time -- or just a single cup, if that's all you need -- without a coffee maker. And it's economical, to boot. I use much less coffee to brew in the French press than I did in the coffeemaker. A veritable win-win.

Nancy said...

Hi, Kirsten--

Someone gave us a French press for Christmas. We got grounds in the coffee. :-(

I suspect the dh of just being a creature of habit, though. We still have the French press, so maybe it's worth another try. Thanks for the suggestion.

Kirsten said...

Anna, you snuck in with your comments and I didn't even see them -- yes, great suggestions, especially on buying lunch out. Amazing how much money you can spend that way. I've definitely cut back on the lattes (I guess that's why Starbucks had to lay off a few thousand workers -- I don't think I'm the only one!) and the random food out. But I can't resist the occasional bowl of hot pho for lunch. Yum!

Caren Crane said...

Christine, it is somehow WRONG for you to have the GR. He probably doesn't remember you! *g*

Kirsten, I have done the reheated coffee and soap squishing thing for years.

I also keep the gel-type toothpaste in the squeeze bottle turned upside down so none accumlates on the "bottom" and when it's gone it's REALLY gone. Back when we used tubes of paste, I would flatten as I went and put a binder clip on the end so no toothpaste would back up into the "used" end of the tube.

I am dead cheap and I like to get my money's worth out of things. Peanut butter jars (or any jars) are scraped with a rubber spatula to get the last bits out.

Leftovers are turned into new dishes on a regular basis. You would be amazed at the "new" recipes you can make from, say, leftover macaroni and cheese or the last of the roast beef or the piece of baked chicken no one will touch.

We reuse EVERYTHING. Gallon-size food storage bags are turned inside out, washed, dried and used again. They are expensive! We reuse gift bags (even the tissue paper is good one more time), gift boxes, bows. Some have been circulating in my extended family for years now!

We also use a version of FreeCycle, which is a great way to keep things in use and find things free. What I can't find there, we look for in thrift stores. My best friend is an avid yard saler and that is where she finds many of the gifts she gives at Christmas.

One Chinese lady I know always handmakes Christmas ornaments to give away at Christmas. Now that's above and beyond! I do, however, tend to give "useful" gifts. This year it was Mexican vanilla in reusable glass jars with stoppers.

Okay, I have to go to bed now. I'll probably dream of being thrifty!

Kirsten said...

Ah, Caren, I should have known you would be "dead cheap"! LOL! I love the binder clip idea -- now that's definitely easy and practical. And I love the idea of giving gifts that are actually useful (can I have some of that Mexican vanilla? Yum!). And oh the gift bags -- but wait -- you only use the tissue paper ONE more time? ha! that stuff is good at least a few more go rounds! *VBG*

Thanks for stopping by on your way to thrifty dreams!