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YourPlaybookForToughTimes3DAfter several weeks of waiting for review blurbs and dealing with daily tech glitches, “Your Playbook For Tough Times” is finally here.

See? I really wasn’t pretending to write a book.

The Amazon landing page still looks wonky (will be on the phone with a CreateSpace guru today) and I’m still working on putting up a button to buy the PDF version. However, you can buy the finished product as a paperback or as a Kindle product.

In fact, you’ll get a discount if you do both. A frugal hack of a frugality book, you might say.

 


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Physics and frugality.

thRecently I had fun trying to recognize the desiccated ingredients of the boiling bag I was emptying into the slow cooker. After a few minutes of frugality CSI (cooking scene investigation), I identified the following:

Onion skins, Asian greens (they’ve gone to seed so I’m removing the last small leaves), teeny-tiny green apples (to avoid stressing our newly planted trees, DF took off most of the fruits), carrot tops and greens, potato peels, and small green tomatoes (jumpers from our greenhouse plants).

Also cucumber peels (from fruits too high in cucurbitacin to eat as-is), red romaine leaves (too bitter after bolting for salads, but fine for broth), green-bean ends, squash blossoms (from our blue Hubbard plant), dandelion greens and a little chickweed (because revenge).

After adding a freezer container of vegetable cooking water – from corn, peas, lentils, potatoes and green beans – I had quite the potage de garbage going. Cooked and drained, it smelled a lot like Campbell’s vegetable soup and tasted even better.

All this recycling reminded me of the notion that energy can’t be created or destroyed, but rather transformed from one form to another. In our home, food gets created – we grow the stuff as well as cook it from supermarket ingredients – but it never really goes away.

 


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GetAttachmentThumbnailThis vegetable plate represents summer in our yard and greenhouse. The red tomato slices are Czech’s Bush, the oddly colored ones are a Siberian variety called Black Prince, the cucumber is called Space Saver and the garish beets are Detroit Dark Red, pickled in a bonehead-simple recipe of vinegar, sugar, water, cinnamon and cloves.

In making that plate I flashed back to the covered-dish suppers of my youth. Each table in the church basement had a cut-glass dish of pickles, olives and pickled beets (or something quite like it). The suppers tended to happen in fall and winter, so freshly sliced tomatoes and cukes weren’t on the menu.

After an unusually sunny June and July, we’ve been treated to near-constant clouds and rain. “State fair weather,” we call it. Great for the rhubarb and raspberries and other outdoor crops. Not so much for the greenhouse tomatoes, which are bursting with fruit but ripening more slowly than we’d like.

 


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thYesterday I had a stimulating conversation with a Surviving and Thriving reader who was traveling with her family. It was a frugal meet-up: We talked for a couple of hours in the play area of a Carl’s Jr. restaurant, since I figured the two kids would be bored spitless by grownup blather about  money and frugality.

Both the reader and her husband have names that begin with the letter K, so henceforth they’ll be referred to as “K-she” and “K-he.” (Didn’t get permission to out their true identities.) We talked about not just how to save money but also about the sense of freedom that comes with taking control of your cash.

K-he revealed that initially he was nervous about his wife’s proposal to be a full-time parent, fearing it would deal a death blow to their finances. But now he’s not only in awe of his wife’s mad frugal skills, he’s on board with the whole idea.

He also asked an interesting question: “Why aren’t more people like you two?”

 


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th-1My personal-finance pal J. Money started an interesting conversation over at Budgets Are Sexy. A reader asked if it were “a poor decision” to use an item for years, then return it for a refund.

(That’s even a question?)

In “Returning used stuff – cool or no?,” J. Money said he wrote back to the reader saying, among other things, that this was a question of personal ethics. The blogger added that he would not return anything unless it was broken or otherwise not delivering on its promise.

(In his wild youth he’d returned a used boombox two days before the return window expired, and was thoroughly shamed by the customer service rep before he got his refund. Lesson learned!)

The reader then shared that he’d needed to move and “just couldn’t throw out my bedroom set that was in perfect condition and 10 years old.” (Emphasis added.) So he took it back to Costco and, unbelievably, the store refunded his money.

 


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