Monday, September 28, 2009

The annual dandelion coffee dig

It took awhile for me to get hooked on dandelion coffee. First, I read about it and thought about it for awhile, then one day I dug up a dandelion root and tried to roast it. It was just one root and it was too early in the year, so it barely made enough for one cup. It didn't taste too bad, but seemed like a lot of trouble, so when I came across Traditional Medicinal's Dandelion Tea (same thing), I bought a box of it. By the time I'd finished that box, I was hooked.

Determined not to spend money on something I can do myself, I dug a few more, then read up some more. Finally realizing that fall was the best time to dig them (d'uh... it's the best time to dig most roots because they've been storing food all summer), I dug a whole pan full of dandelion roots, washed, scrubbed, trimmed and roasted them.

Still... it seemed like a lot of work. Until I realized that I didn't have to scrape off all the hair roots and I didn't have to clean them under running water and that a vegetable scrub brush worked great to get the dirt off.

Three changes of water, but a lot faster than the first few times, I now have a pan of dandelion roots roasting in the oven. I will dig more tomorrow or the next day, until the little area I let "go to the weeds" is cleared of dandelions - for this year, anyway.

If you want to dig dandelion roots and try it, wet the soil thoroughly before you begin and give it an hour or so to soak in. The first reason is to make digging easier, but secondly, to keep the roots from breaking off so short. Dandelions grow a very, very long taproot and that's what you're after, but you won't get it all, not when it can grow several feet into the ground. That's what makes dandelions so hard to kill permanently.

Don't tell anyone, but I'm glad of that. If it could have been poisoned or dug out of this area, it would have been long before I got here. I let it grow for three years before trying to use it, to minimize the possibility of poisons.

I use a stove top percolator to make my dandelion coffee in, and since I only drink one cup or two at the most, each day, I have been thinking of making a full pot and freezing it in one cup portions. It seems to make more sense, but I'll have to see.

If you haven't tried it, think of it this way. It's free; it stores well, and it's good... that is, if you like it. Try it. Maybe you can cut the cost of coffee by having dandelion coffee part of the time. Oh - no caffeine and it has lots of minerals. It's good for your liver, gall bladder and will help overcome jaundice. It's a gentle diuretic, but won't deplete your body of potassium, like pharmaceutical diuretics do.

Best of all, it's an enjoyable drink with a deep, robust flavor that fairly sings of autumn!

In Cheap We Trust

I'm almost through with this book (the weekend was too short!) so I wanted to tell you about it. I was asked to read and review it and I'm glad I did.

I can't quite put it in a category, but it would have to be somewhere in the history/economics/frugal/good reading. Lauren Weber has done excellent research and put it all together in a very readable and interesting book.

You've probably already guessed that I recommend it. It will give you a historical perspective of our frugal natures and possibly give you insight into why you are the way you are. It also gives a very good picture of how the American economy works and the condition it's in now, and why.

Even if you're not frugal, you'll enjoy the story of America's historical relationship with money. First, we were frugal, then we were not. Then we were, then we were not. Why and how is a fascinating read, but there's more to it than that.

All the way from Benjamin Franklin to Keynes to women taking part in the financial world are topics that are covered in such a manner that it drew me into the ideas, ideals, mindsets and philosophies of America as we have changed from a new world to the nation that we have now.

You may not find it in libraries yet, since it's new, but look around.

Title: In Cheap We Trust
Author: Lauren Weber
ISBN: 978-0-316-03028-1

Let me know what you think about it!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Warm clothing, warm bodies

Every year I go to the local Goodwill store and get two or three pairs of long underwear.

What a statement to start a blog post with, right? But it's the truth. With warm clothing, I can face the coming winter feeling just a little better about the heating bills.

I know there are places where it hasn't cooled down much yet, but just coming out of a cold spell here, winter time is on my mind for sure. I had to turn the heat up - with temperatures in the 40s and 50s for several days, my old bones just couldn't stand it. Now I know my gas bill will be up slightly over the summer, so it's time to start doing things to keep me warm.

I look for warm sweaters and flannel sheets at the Goodwill too, and I knit warm house shoes which are worn indoors almost all the time.

It's one thing to get the house ready for cold weather and yet another to get ourselves ready. Remember, the thing we're trying to keep warm is ourselves and individuals in our families - not so much the house as the people in the house.

There is a difference

Monday, September 21, 2009

Extremely frugal second nature

You may or may not have noticed, but I've suspended posting to my Extremely Frugal blog, for now, anyway. I can't keep up with this one, let alone another one! Anyway, I'll post "extremely frugal" tips here as they occur to me or as I come across them.

It isn't that I don't do extremely frugal things or don't have a lot of ideas and tips. It's that many of them are so automatic that I don't think of them as out of the ordinary or that other people may not do them or even think of them.

When things are second nature, they're hard to see and I know that some of you know exactly what I mean.

On the other hand, there are those things that I have hesitated to share for fear that you'd all think I had gone completely off my rocker. I will no doubt post some of those, too. :)

Monday, September 14, 2009

When times are tough

I don't know whether it's a hard concept to grasp or whether it's just a hard concept to put into practice. When things get tough, cut to the bone.

That's simple enough, isn't it?

It means that if you don't have money to pay your bills, don't buy ice cream. Don't go window shopping, or any other kind of shopping except for the bare necessities.

Maybe the problem is that we don't know what the "bare necessities" are any more. Here's a checklist to remind you of a few things that aren't necessary:

  • Cable TV
  • Vacations anywhere other than home
  • Store bought snacks and treats: Ice cream, candy, chips...
  • Shoes in seventeen different colors
  • Ditto, watchbands, hair clasps, and jewelry
  • Going to the movies
  • Eating out

And so on.

What is necessary? Think about it. Really think about it.

Then figure out how to tighten your own belt and get by until good times roll again. But when they do, don't forget the lessons you've learned. Just as surely as the sun rises and sets each day, tough times will come again for someone, somewhere. As a wise person once said, you can be the answer, not the problem.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Just because it's free...

I had made a list on a sheet from a notepad that I got for free, and had finished with it. As I stood in line to check out, I folded the paper inside out and put it back in my purse. A woman standing nearby beckoned toward a trash can and I realized she was showing me that I couold throw the paper in the trash.

Not likely. I'd used one side of it - half of it. The other half was perfectly clean. So what if it hadn't cost me anything to begin with? It would cost something to replace.

That's the bottom line: How much will it cost to replace... whatever? Even if you got it free, take care not to waste it. A shampoo sample can give you more than one shampoo and sometimes more than two or even three. I once got a sample bar soap and used it for two weeks in the shower. That was two weeks I didn't have to buy another bar of soap.

Streettcchhh it. Make those freebies really count!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Really... what's more frugal than free?

Not much!

I know I'm not the only one who looks at something new in the store and am reluctant to turn loose of the money to buy it without knowing whether I like it. Besides that, samples of food and personal care products (and other products) can really stretch a budget.

I used to go to several sites to check out what was new, but finally signed up for a newsletter from Shop 4 Freebies that reminds me each day to check their site for free samples - and they have them all, so I don't have to go to this one or that one looking for things I'm interested in.

I don't know... maybe I'm getting lazy in my old age. Or maybe I'm getting smarter... :) Either way, this site shaves a few minutes off the time it takes to round up some cool freebies and that makes frugal sense to me!