Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Five More Things You Never Need to Buy

Quart sized freezer bags. You probably throw them away every week if you buy frozen vegetables. Those bags are freezer bags. They wouldn't sell them in those bags if they weren't capable of keeping the vegetables fresh and frost free. Cut them carefully across the top when you open them and use a twist'em tie or rubber band to close them securely when you fill them.

Refrigerator containers. Cottage cheese, sour cream, yogurt and more come in resealable plastic containers that can be used over and over again. Get some cheap masking tape to label the contents. A bonus is that they're ultimately stackable and hold more than they look.

Canisters. Storage jars are free. Really. Check your local restaurants to see if they will save you a few gallon jars. They buy them with everthing from pickles to boiled eggs in them. Most come with sealing lids so your flour and sugar will be safe. You can also use them for beans, pasta and other food products.

Compost. Make your own, of course. That's a no-brainer, but sometimes it's hard to accomplish, especially if you have limited space or it isn't conveniently located. Invest in a bowl with a lid to hold your compostable kitchen scraps and simply dig a hole in an out of the way place in your yard and dump the goods in there. Cover them with dirt and that's it. It will take longer to make if you don't turn it now and then and if it's dry, but it will eventually make good compost. Hurry it by turning and keeping it moist.

House slippers. If you have a warm sweater or one that is felted accidentally or otherwise, simply make a pattern by standing on a newspaper and drawing around your foot. Cut two pieces to match this pattern, then measure along the side from toe all the way around and back to the toe and cut a strip about two to three inches wide this long. Sew the strip. starting at the toe, to the sole so it's the side, then gather the edges of this strip with a piece of sturdy yarn in a needle, weaving back and forth. Draw the yarn up so that the shoe fits your foot and tie a knot, then a bow. Done.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Five Things You Never Need to Buy

Paper towels. Use rags cut from old clothing, linens or towels. Cut and hem them and they will last a very long time, wash after wash. You will no doubt wind up with clothing or other material that isn't absorbent or won't wash well. Cut those up and save them for nasty jobs so you can throw them away like you would paper towels.

Paper napkins. A very simple solution is to cut some squares of cotton or other absorbent material and hem it. Voila! Instant cloth napkins. Some people buy washcloths in special colors to use as napkins, but making your own is cheaper; your choice. Wash them with the other kitchen items like dishcloths and teatowels. Also, it doesn't hurt to use the same one a couple or three times if everyone has their own color or design (unless it's a messy meal!)

Trash bags. For the smaller trash cans, use plastic grocery bags. They're a sturdy or sturdier than bags you buy and you have them already! They even have handles. For larger trash cans, save bags that dog food, bird seed, mulch, compost or other garden amendments come in. Anything that comes in a large enough bag works. I have used the large plastic bags from Goodwill or other thrift stores (or even retail stores!).

Pots for starting seeds. Use any small container that you can poke a hole in for drainage. Some people use egg cartons, putting soil and a seed into each egg compartments. This is enough to get started, but plants will need to be transplanted soon because there is little room for roots to grow. Think: Soft drink bottles, cut down, yogurt containers, cottage cheese and sour cream containers or any plastic container that you can cut down to size.

Bulletin boards. Need a place to pin up pictures, notes or lists? Get a piece of cardboard from a cardboard box that is the right size for your space and cover it with piece of solid color cloth. Better if the cloth comes from an old sheet or tablecloth that you were going to use for rags! Wrap the cloth around the cardboard and tape it down with duct tape. You can either poke holes in it to hang from or attach a string from each corner to hang it. A few pins or thumbtacks and you're in business.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Spring Bouquets: Get Them Cheap, Keep Them Longer

'Tis the season to bring those spring flowers inside to enjoy! If you don't have any of your own growing, you might be able to beg a few from someone who does, or finding some in a dumpster, but barring those things, go to the flower shop at your grocery store. Flowers and plants are much cheaper there than anywhere else.

Choose carefully so your bouquet will last as long as possible. Look at the flowers closely and get the freshest you can find and get the longest stems there are. Getting longer stems makes it possible make fresh cuts to allow the stems to take up more water and of course, the freshest blossoms will stay fresh longer.

When you get them home, immediately put them in water to wait until you have found your vase and whatever else you need. Use a solution of 2 tablespoons of sugar, 2 tablespoons of vinegar and a quart of tepid water. Make sure the sugar is dissolved, then trim the flowers and arrange in your vase.