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thRecently the two bottles of Method foaming hand soap in our bathroom were on their last few squirts. They’d been there since I moved in almost three years ago. (Tempus fugit!)

We also keep bar soap by the bathroom sinks, which is probably why the bottles lasted for three years’ worth of handwashing. The foamy stuff is undeniably easier to use than the bars, though.

It’s also easier to use than regular liquid soap. You get exactly what you need, vs. squirting out a surplus that either slides off and down the drain or that takes too long for an impatient child to wash off all the way.

Neither DF nor I are exactly children. (Chronologically, anyway.) But we’ve been watching his granddaughter about once a week and my two great-nephews also visit. Given that children are two-legged petri dishes when it comes to the latest viruses, I’d like to make it as easy as possible for them to wash their hands.

Since I’d remembered reading a recipe for foam-refill soap, I went prospecting online rather than pay full price. Even if it were a relatively small saving I thought I’d give it a try.

Good news: It was an easy frugal hack.

Better news: We already had what we needed on hand.

Best news: The saving was actually pretty decent.

 


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thA little news you can use before the weekend, beginning with free health screenings at Sam’s Club on Saturday, Jan. 9.

All the Sam’s Club stores with pharmacies will offer the following tests to anyone who walks in (i.e., you don’t need to be a club member):

  • Blood pressure
  • Total cholesterol
  • HDL (the “good” cholesterol)
  • Glucose
  • Body mass index
  • Vision and hearing (at some locations)

The estimated value is $150. If you’ve been wondering about glucose or cholesterol, get yourself in there and find out where you stand.

 


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thAs I’ve said again and again, “food” is the budget category over which we generally have the most control.

You probably can’t talk your way into a sizable discount on your auto loan, mortgage or health insurance premium, but a little ingenuity and creativity can whack your meal costs way, way back.

Erin Chase can help. The frugal genius behind “$5 Dinners” and a series of cookbooks, and co-founder of “The $5 Meal Plan,” she has created a new service that combines all her superpowers. Registration for her Grocery Budget Makeover starts Sunday, Jan. 3 and ends Monday, Jan. 11.

Her goal is to “change your mindset and methods of shopping” in 10 weeks. Not just shopping, though; meal planning, couponing and cooking tactics also figure prominently.

This is not some talking-head gourmand who doesn’t understand how regular people (including picky children) cook and eat. I actually know Erin and she is a regular person – a mother of four who avoids most processed foods due to food allergies in her family.


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Putting food by.

GetAttachmentThe photo is a glimpse of harvest mania at Chez DIY. Those underachievers in the small glass dish are strawberries picked from our tiny patch, which we hope to expand in years to come.

In the bowl and large measuring cup are four quarts of raspberries that DF and I picked in an evening, quitting before we’d gotten them all. We’ve already frozen 14 quarts of the things for his oatmeal and my homemade yogurt, and also to eat the Alaska way: only partially thawed and with a big dump of sugar.

On the left are jars of jam I’d made from a previous session; it’s the second batch I’ve made this year. Seeing those jars gives me the urge to make another one.

Not that we need a third batch, or maybe even that second one; we’re still using up jam from last year. But I don’t want the backyard bounty to go to waste — and part of me doesn’t even want to give them away.

That’s the part of me that feels, every year, that primal urge: Winter is coming. Put food by.

 


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Salad days.

IMG_20150622_182817We had our first from-the-garden salad last night. When I say “from the garden” I mean that most of it was from our own little urban homestead.

The rest of it was from a great big garden somewhere else. Factory farms count, right?

Although the greens (and reds!) in the garden are starting to look respectable, we don’t want to denude them just yet.

So we possess our souls in patience and augment what we grew with romaine from the supermarket.

Here’s the lineup from the picture on the left:


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