Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Dealing With Shortages

 Since the COVID pandemic started hitting us, the stores have had trouble keeping various things in stock and it looks like they still are. Some places are having more troubles than others, and it seems to be hit or miss and changing constantly. 

That said, there are still a few things that seem to be in short supply, or (dare I say it?) will be in short supply in the near future. Cleaning supplies seem to be hit particularly hard, as well as paper good. Canned goods are spotty, and I heard it was partly because metal cans were hard to come by right now. Some canning facilities were hit hard by COVID and had to stop production temporarily.

However we came to it, we now have to deal with it. 

You can limit your cleaning supplies to white vinegar, baking soda and any kind of liquid soap. Liquid soap will wash dishes, wash floors, clean your bathtub and anything else. Dish washing liquid, shampoo, liquid laundry detergent, even liquid hand soap can be used interchangeably when you have to. 

Use baking soda and liquid soap to scrub sinks, tubs and the like. Make a thick paste and scrub away. Baking soda can also remove black marks from floors, scrub away grease and burned on gunk on the stove, put out a grease fire and relieve indigestion.

Vinegar has so many uses there have been entire books written about it, but let me just mention a few. Add a splash to a quart of water and wash your windows and mirrors with it. Leave a couple of bowls setting out to freshen the air, especially in the kitchen and bathroom Use vinegar to remove soap scum and mineral deposits. Soak the area if you can but if it's in an awkward place, saturate a rag with vinegar and wrap or push against the area. Leave it there overnight.

I haven't bought a paper towel or a paper napkin in years. I hem pieces of old clothes or worn out towels and use those for everything a paper towel is used for. Real cloth rags can be more absorbent than any paper towel You can wash and reuse them over and over - no need to buy anything. 

I do the same for cloth napkins. I make them from worn out sheets or the backs of old shirts; wherever I can find a good piece of sturdy material. Cotton works best, in my opinion. I wash them with the kitchen linens and they last for a very long time. If you have a large family, you could assign each one a color or type of napkin so it can be used at least twice before laundering.

 What kind of shortages are you dealing with? Maybe we can get our heads together and find ways to handle them without stress.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

You Can Do it Better: Save the Planet and Your Money

I came across this article called "20 Planet Saving Items That Pay For Themselves Tenfold" and just had to respond. I totally agree with some of them, but some of them can be taken a lot farther and some of them just made this old frugal mind go "What??"

I will tackle them one at a time.

1. My daughter made some beeswax covers for me. I tried them on bowls and didn't care for them because they didn't seal very well. I use breadsacks instead. Eventually I wised up and started using beeswax covers to WRAP things in. Things like sandwiches, sliced tomatoes, cheese, etc. You CAN wash them in hot water, just make it quick and cool them as soon as you can.

2. I have used rechargeable batteries for years. Although they are expensive to buy at first, they do save money over time.  To be really frugal, get a solar battery charger and your costs go to practical zero.

3. I have a steel water bottle and use it almost all the time. It's well worth the cost.

4. I don't drink coffee but if I did, I would use a percolator or another system that doesn't use K cups anyway. I'm not sure but it may be cheaper.

5. LED light bulbs have really come down in price. I was leery of buying them because I didn't know what size to buy and whether they would really be bright enough, but our electric company (Xcel) gave away boxes of goodies, including an assortment of LED light bulbs and I'm sold on them. They do save money and they work.

6. I don't need this one because I'm an old woman. But if you're  a young one, take a serious look. It's not only cheaper, it can be safer to use.

7. This is silly. Why buy expensive bamboo towels to replace paper towels? Why use paper towels in the first place? Make your own cleanup towels from old clothing or household linens; hem them and wash them over and over and they will last as long or longer than pricey bamboo towels. Keep the polyester or heavy denim rags for throwaway rags.

8. I had to laugh out loud at this one. You're going to buy a set of glassware to store things in while you throw away perfectly good glass food jars? If you don't buy anything that comes in a glass jar, go the Goodwill or Salvation Army and pick up a few canning jars for around a half dollar each. Why not save money?

9. Are you one who throws away a plastic bag after one use? Then I guess you might need one of these "kid and adult friendly designs." I'd rather spend money on something more important.

10. Cloth diapers... people, they are not new! Disposable anything is expensive and not environmentally sensible. Diapers are one of the worst things to put in our soil.

11. Safety razors. Again, what was old has become new. If you can find a good one, get it and save a bundle.

12. I would never buy a mesh produce bag because produce of various kinds comes in a mesh bag. AND they are reuseable. Imagine that.

13. Wool dryer balls are quite popular among certain crowds, but if you can hang your clothes outside or even inside to dry, a dryer ball isn't very useful. Fact: Dryers soften material when you use them. The only reason you need dryer sheet or balls of any kind is to prevent static electricity, which is what makes your slacks eat your socks. A simple solution is to crunch up a piece of used (washed!) aluminum foil and make it into a ball, toss it into your dryer with your clothes.

14. The article is right on about cast iron skillets, griddles and pots. Don't be afraid to look at the non seasoned kind if they're cheaper, but the best place to buy cast iron cookware is at thrift stores or garage sales. They're already seasoned. If not, you can clean them up and do it yourself and save a LOT of money. They're not cheap new.

15. Silicone mats, yes. They make sense and outlast all others, especially the disposable kind!

16. I have used cloth napkins for years. When I first started using them, I bought them, but it slowly dawned on me that they were simply rectangles of cloth. I use old tablecloths, shirt backs, sheets, etc., and can easily make more napkins than I need in a couple of hours. Wash them with the kitchen linens or whites and you will save money.

17. Tea doesn't have to be in bags. You can make looseleaf tea in a teapot or an extra cup and strain it into your cup. It's that easy. But there are many, many tea strainers that are fun and practical to reuse for years.

18. Velcro plant ties? Does anyone buy these?? I use yarn or whatever I have on hand that won't hurt the plant. Green plastic tubing works great, but so does a plastic bag, twisted to make a "rope."

19. I don't use makeup, so this one is up to your imagination. I do think there was a time when these were not available. What did women use then? Bet it was cheaper.

20. Stainless steel straws might be nice, but do you use straws all the time? I keep a few plastic ones on hand that I clean with a straw brush, which is like a bottle brush except much smaller. It works and it's.... cheaper.

Why would you pay good money for products that you really don't need? I would honestly like to know.