Thursday, April 29, 2010

Creative thrift store shopping

Ready to go to the thrift store or a garage sale? Put on your creative thinking cap first.

Sometimes second hand shopping is a lost cause when you can't find what you want or think you want. Those times, just a change of viewpoint can make things look altogether different.

Cast in point: Some time back I went looking for a new vase. I needed one for the table. Nothing fancy but nothing ugly, either. I looked and looked and didn't find a thing, so I gave up. (When I say I gave up, it doesn't mean I went to a retail store and paid full price for it; it means that I quit looking and did without for awhile.)

A few weeks later I was browsing a garage sale table with nothing in particular on my mind when a copper teakettle caught my eye. I suddenly envisioned it filled with fresh daisies - and voila! my new vase was in front of my eyes for a mere twenty five cents.

Looking at things creatively sometimes means seeing them for what they are and not for what they seem to be. The teakettle seemed to be a container to heat water on the stove. It really was just a container, period. A container that could be used for anything that would fit.

On the same wavelength: Sheets are big pieces of material. What do you need? A tablecloth? Curtains? Material for a new dress or shirt? There it is.

A coffee cup can hold celery or carrot sticks at dinner, or it can hold flowers or a small houseplant. It can hold pens and pencils, short knitting needles and crochet hooks or any number of things.

A pretty book that you don't even want to read becomes a door stop or a booster seat for a child.

It doesn't have to be what it looks like it is. It can be just what it really is... a container, a solid rectangle, a sheet of material.

Creatively... do you shop like that?

Monday, April 26, 2010


My mood is sort of rambling today, so that's the way I'll post. :)

I like this thread in the Dollar Stretcher forums:

2010 Challenge -100 New Ways to Save Money I've been keeping an eye on it for a few months now and it's still going. I've even found a few new ways to save from it.

It's been rainy here for almost a week now and cool - too cool to do much serious gardening, although I set out cabbage plants and have mustard, lettuce, radishes and peas growing out there. It's been close to frosting the last couple of nights with more cold nights promised, so it will be awhile before the peppers and tomatoes are safe. So much for an early spring.

It's all right, though... I've been nibbling chives, eating lambsquarter and dandelion greens still. The dandelions are starting to bloom, so I picked a handful of buds yesterday to have with lunch. Boiled briefly and salted lightly, they're really good. If you try them, be sure to cut off all the green parts because they're bitter. Wild food can provide very good nutrition while cutting your grocery costs, so why not try them?

If you wait to salt fresh cooked vegetables until they're on your plate, save the cooking water to use on your houseplants or outdoor garden. There are lots of minerals and trace elements that plants need in the water. Dandelions are some of the best for this purpose because they have long, strong roots that bring nutrients up from deep in the earth that other plants can't get to.

And my frugal exercise tip: Buy a pair of walking shoes. You'll feel guilty for not wearing them... and what are they for, if not walking? So take a walk, smile and breathe the fresh air (even if it is a bit cool, as it is here). It will do wonders for your disposition and your health.

Rambling on...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Turnoff Week is April 19-25

Turn it off! Unplug it! Join the crowd... well, the movement, anyway. April 19 through the 25 is Turnoff Week, targeting computers and TVs. Here's a link to a post on the forum at Center for Screen Time Awareness which will explain what I'm talking about.

Are you addicted? I never thought that I was until I took a few days off earlier this year and found myself slipping back in to check up on things on the internet. Since I work on the computer, it wouldn't work to turn it off completely, but I am going to try to turn it off when I'm not working. No TV doesn't bother me, so no brownie points there.

Join me? At least for a day or two? Then let me know... are you addicted?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What do do with leftover Easter candy

Still got a few chocolate Easter eggs around, or a fluffy marshmallow chick? Don't toss them or give them away, use them for other things.

Those cute little peeps are sugar covered marshmallows, so you can use them wherever you'd use marshmallows. Hot chocolate comes to mind! Use them in any recipe that calls for marshmallows.

Chocolate is chocolate, no matter how it's formed. Chop up a chocolate bunny and make chocolate chip cookies, or use a peeler and cut curls from it to top a cake or other dessert. Melt and dip strawberries or other fruit in it. Whatever comes to mind... just don't buy chocolate for awhile.

Malted eggs? Stick them in the blender and use as malt for... what else? Malted milk. Or any recipe that calls for malt.

We got some peanut butter filled eggs this year, so I sliced them with a hot knife and "iced" some plain cookies with them.

Get creative and use up the Easter candy... or not. It will keep for a long time. You don't have to refrigerate or freeze it - not even the chocolate, as long as you can keep the temperature below around 75 degrees. Above that, it will melt and make a mess, but it still won't spoil, so put it in a bowl or other container if your kitchen gets hotter than that.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Did you ever set up a scavenger hunt?

Frugally, I mean... as in, not spending much money. That's a question on the Dollar Stretcher forums.

I've never set one up and have only participated in one scavenger hunt in my life, so I have no advice. (That's not really a first, no matter what it seems like!) ;)

Anyway, check out the question if you have a moment and if you have any ideas, they sure would be appreciated.