Save the Celery!

We’ve all had that moment were we open the produce drawer only to be confronted by a wilted, accusatory vegetable.

“You wanted me! You drove all the way to the store, wandered the aisles for an hour, and selected me to come home with you. Then you just forgot me?!?!!”

“Look, I’m sorry, Celery. I just got busy-”

“Oh, please. You managed to cook the squash and the broccoli! You cook all the time!”

“I know, you’re right. Look, let me make it up to you.”

“I’m listening….”

“I’ll write a blog post all about how to use up celery in your condition, so that no celery ever gets wasted again.”

“And?”

“….And, I’ll give you a bunch of dialog, so you can yell at me all you want.”

“Deal!”

So here we are. As I said, I bought too much celery, only to find it limp and unappealing. What to do?

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If the celery is not too bad, just on the cusp of “Oh crap, I better use this up right now”, cut it up for snacks! I’m very fortunate in that I can hand almost any food item to Hubby, say “I made you a snack!” and he’ll eat it up. Much like Joey on Friends when their fridge broke. You can always count on me for current pop-culture references!

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When the celery is just a little wilty, cut some of the bottom off, then place it in a glass of water. It’s still a plant, and it will suck up water like a 3rd grader’s science experiment. If any of the leaves are gross, just throw them away, and clean the celery off. You can use the same trick with green onions.

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Chop it up and freeze it. You can either cut it up by itself, or with carrots and onions, as I’ve done here. The next time you’re making soup you can just throw your pre-chopped veggies in there, and pat yourself on the back for your frugalness! Go you!

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The only way to save money is not to spend it. One way to do that is to eat the food you already have, rather than buying new.

December 29, 2016. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Cooking, Thriftiness is Cool. 5 comments.

DIY Reusable Counter Wipes

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I am always looking for ways to cut my spending, make life simpler, and reduce waste. I have often seen and been tempted by those disposable, sanitizing wipe things that come in huge canisters, and I’ve found myself grabbing baby wipes to clean up more things than just my baby. Well, no more! We can make reusable, washable, non-toxic wipes ourselves!!

You will need:

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Wipes, (I used baby wash clothes I had laying around, which I’ve found for about $6/12 pack online. You could also repurpose an old towel, sweatshirt, or other absorbent fabric), vinegar, dish soap, water, and a container or two. If you buy new wash clothes, make sure to run them through the wash first. In your container, mix 1/2 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup water, and a couple drops of dish soap. You can add essential oils if you like that kind of thing. I’ve also used less vinegar before, so they don’t smell so strong, and it worked fine. Swish that stuff around, then smush your wash cloths down into the liquid. You want them to ideally be damp, but not drippy.

And now you’re ready! Wipe up any little spills without guilt! For dried on stuff, I spray plain vinegar, let it sit for awhile, then wipe everything down. When I’m done, I just toss the wipes in with our regular laundry. Note: you don’t want to use dryer softener, like Snuggles or Bounce, with these, or any other towels. It coats them with softeners which reduces their absorbency.

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I make one batch at a time, and have another container of dry wipes ready to go. Some people use this same recipe with paper towels so they can throw it away when they’re done, and that’s up to you. I use paper towels for exceedingly gross stuff, like anything that comes out of my cats, but kitchen counters aren’t heinously disgusting like those little hell beasts.

Anyway, this recipe is great. My kitchen is already oodles cleaner, and we’re not burning through paper towels at a frightening rate anymore! Now go forth, and save!

 

September 30, 2016. Tags: , , , , , , , . Eco Stuff, House Stuff, Thriftiness is Cool. 1 comment.

Post-Christmas Clean Up

Now that Christmas is finally over (yes, finally since it started in September this year), you probably want to get all that holiday cheer out of your house. I know I do! Sure, I can be a little Scroogey. I mean, I like watching the Grinch, (but only the first half, when all the Christmas stuff has been cleaned up) but sometimes there’s only so much joy you can grind out of me.

Christmas is great and all, but I like to start the new year with a clean house, not one covered in decorations that need to be put away, and gifts that never found a home, and leftover fruit cake. So here’s the post-Christmas clean up list:

1) Throw out wrapping and packaging – make sure any gift cards or cash are accounted for first! – trash is easy to get rid of because it’s obviously trash. Doing this first will give you more room to manuever and won’t take much brain power.

2) Put away Christmas decorations – throw out any light strands that didn’t work, or ornaments a fat cat stole off the tree and broke behind the table. This happened twice this year at our house. But our cat is a jackass; you might have good cats. Christmas decorations presumably have a home already so you know right where to put them, so again, no-brainer.

3) Find a home for all your fancy new gadgets and gizmos – don’t forget to get rid of an old version if your gift was an upgrade, or if you follow the ultimate uncluttering rule: if one thing enters your house, one must leave. It’s like the Thunderdome, but for your stuff.

4) Put anything you need to return (wrong size or completely wrong for you, whatever the reason) somewhere you won’t forget them along with their gift receipts, if they have them. Your car might be a good place, if you won’t forget about them. Returns often have a time limit, so make sure to get after it!

5) Christmas cards – If someone has written a touching message, or made a card themselves, or it’s particularly funny I usually keep it. However, some are just generic, like “Happy Holidays, from your dentist”. Well these apparently have a home, other than the recycle bin! St. Jude’s recycles old cards into new ones. I just found out about this thanks to Unclutterer! They actually take cards year-round, for all occassions, so I’m going to keep this in mind as I unclutter my scrapbooking box.

Here’s to a clean and organized New Year!

December 29, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , . House Stuff. Leave a comment.

Deep Clean with a Vengeance

So I bet you thought I gave up on Deep Clean Week, that I was going to simply wuss out and hope you forgot. That was my original plan.

But then I discovered that some people we know are moving to our area, and need a place to stay for a couple months. I offered the guest room and my craft room. Both are soon going to be occupied, so I have been cleaning like a mad woman. My plan now is to pull everything out of the craft room, sort through it diligently, get rid of things, and then store the remainder upstairs in our bedroom.

So far I have learned a few things:

1) It helps to start with “before” pictures. I totally neglected this, and now I only have “during” pictures, which mostly just show boxes and piles of chaos.

2) It’s a lot easier to store boxes in Hubby’s closet while he’s at work.

3) I am taking a hard look at my craft projects, and narrowing down which ones I want to bother completing. If a project starts to feel like homework rather than fun, decide if you want to dedicate your limited time to completing it, or if you’d rather work on something else. Do you even want to own the finished product? I put this half-finished denim quilt on freecycle, and 20 minutes later someone came to my house and got it, along with the denim to complete it.

4) I keep finding things I didn’t even know I had, which means I don’t need them, and won’t miss them.

5) It takes way more trips up and down the stairs than seems humanly possible, and I still don’t have amazing calves. I really should, by now.

6) The sound of cat, dog, and even ferret snores are insulting when you are exhausted from working so hard. You can see Mushroom at the bottom of this picture “helping”.

You can see I’ve made some progress; the closets are mostly empty.

The way all this stuff accumulates just shows that I have too many ideas and not enough time.

I have no idea where I will put all my Batman stuff, or my giant Jack Skellington. I also have several thing I’ve crafted over the years that I feel like I have to keep because I made them, but they’re not necessarily practical or useful anymore. That colorful disc at the bottom of the picture is a table top I decoupaged in college. The table has not been assembled since we moved here, but I can’t decide what to do with it. Let that be a lesson to you all: once you craft something, you maybe stuck with it, so make sure you work on projects you’ll want to keep around.

I found this in some of the yarn my Grandmother gave me, and I thought it was funny.

I also found this! I always wanted a parts price list for a Remington Pump Action Shotgun!

I’m very proud of myself, because this is all the yarn I had, and the container and sack on the left are both going to a better place.

That’s as far as I’ve gotten so far. I have sorted through and discarded fabric, art supplies, construction paper, and scrapbooking stuff. Some of it has gone to friends, a huge pile will go to Goodwill, and a bit may go on eBay. I am exhausted from moving so much stuff, and I just want to chuck a ton of it. We’ve made a lot of progress, but we’re probably only halfway done, if that. Stay tuned for more progress reports, or to watch my descent into madness, whichever comes first.

August 11, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , . Arts and Crafts, House Stuff, Thriftiness is Cool. 5 comments.

It’s easier being green than I thought

As the heat rages on outside here in Texas, I start looking for ways to minimize our electric and water bills, and that generally spills over into being more eco-friendly in general. I posted prviously about trying to be greener at work, and I try to do the same at home when I can. This is a bit of what I’ve accomplished so far.

For work I bought (at the thrift store, of course), a Corelle bowl/plate. It’s like a wide, shallow bowl, so I only need the one dish in my office, and I’m no longer wasting paper plates and bowls. I also bought a fork and spoon, so I’m no longer using the plastic forks and spoons provided at my office. An unexpected bonus: I no longer have to refill the plasticware when it runs out! So saving plastic (which means reducing my oil consumption, since plastic is made from petroleum), and saving myself some hassle.

We are constantly getting things shipped into the office, and I have been bringing home the empty boxes and bubble wrap. My sister, Beans, sis-in-law Lis, and friend Samantha have all moved or are moving in the space of a couple months. All the boxes and packing materials I had collected went to them. When I don’t have any friends or relations moving, I use that stuff to ship gifts or books to friends and family, or to wrap presents for birthdays and Christmas, or to ship things I sell online.

I also reuse the boxes to hold extra recycling (we always have too much to fit in the bin). I also keep one box in my office for thrift store items. As we decide to get rid of things, I chuck them into the box. When it’s full, I drop it off.

When we get paper shipments, they come in several boxes with lids that are exactly the same. I use these in my craft room to separate individual projects. They are all the same size, so they are easy to stack, and I use a sharpie and masking tape to label them. I put the projects or craft supplies I don’t need often at the bottom of the stack, and make sure the labels always face outward.

I finally got a reusable water bottle. It’s not that I didn’t want to, it’s that I’m picky. I don’t like metal because I want to be able to see through the container so I know it’s clean. I also wanted one with a wide opening at the top so I can actually get my hand or a scrubber in there to clean it. I also wanted it to fit in the cup holder in my car snuggly so I don’t have to worry about it flying all over the car every time I turn a corner. I don’t like the ones with straws, because, again, they are impossible to clean properly.

I also needed to to close securely, because I have been doused with water bottles before, and it is no pleasant. I had a previous one with a screw-top. The top was attached to the bottle by a plastic ring around the top of the bottle. As soon as you had finished half the water in the bottle, the hanging lid made the whole thing top-heavy, so it fell over constantly. I didn’t want to buy and reject 80 different bottles, so I started out very picky from the start, and I finally found one that fits all those criteria. I even got a pink one for me, and a blue one for Hubby. I have had it for about a month now, and I always have it with me.

Because I took the time to think about what I really wanted, I was able to find one that has integrated into my life seamlessly. This makes being green easy and thoughtless, which is the perfect way to make changes. This will prevent me drinking and using over 100 bottles of water per year (at least, since I was averaging at least 2 per week). I am also drinking a ton more water than I was, because I have it with me everywhere, and I can fill it up anywhere. Hubby and I were road-tripping down to San Antonio this weekend, and fast food places filled them up with cold water for free, and with no hassles.

July 9, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , . House Stuff, Thriftiness is Cool. Leave a comment.

It’s not easy being green…at work

I’ve been paying a bit more attention to my routine at work. At home, I recycle religiously, avoid packaging where possible, use green bags and eco-friendly cleaning products. The office is a whole different story.

I already bring my lunch in reusable containers, print everything possible double-sided, and recycle the massive ink cartridges we use. I am bad, though. I use disposable plates, bowls, plasticware, and *gasp* bottled water! It would be super simple to bring a bowl, plate, and silverware from home, and just keep them up here.

So far I’ve dramatically reduced my use of post-its and note pads by creating a digital to do list in Excel. This enables me to have multiple pages, so I can separate everything, and keep my desk cleaner.

I finally bought one dish to bring to work that I can just wash instead of throwing out. It’s kind of a bowl/plate combo; either a really wide, shallow bowl, or a pretty deep plate. I had soup in it yesterday, and it worked great. Plus, it’s Corelle, and it was only $1 at Goodwill! (I also found some fantabulous shoes while I was there, which might show up in a later post).

I turn off my monitor when I leave for the day (I can’t shut down the computer because of the way things are networked), and I’ve stopped using my candle warmer. I’m trying to wear warmer clothes, so I don’t have to turn my space heater on as much, and I have a CFL in my lamp instead of a normal bulb. I take dead batteries to be recycled instead of throwing them in the trash.

I’ve been trying to print less overall, but our work is very paper-dependent. That might be changing in the future (the company is slowly crawling toward a paperless office), but we’ll see. Of the paper we do print, most of it has to be shredded when it needs to be disposed of, but it all gets recycled. The stuff that doesn’t need to be shredded used to all get mixed into the same pile, but now I’m trying to avoid wasting the electricity of shredding excessively, and throwing it directly in the recycle bin.

There are things I will not do to go green, all of which I will tell you about right now! (if you get the movie reference you get a gold star!)

1) Hankerchief – that’s disgusting. No, just no.

2) “Let it mellow” – also disgusting.

3) Pretty much anything that’s too disgusting to comprehend.

Other than that, I do what’s practical, and within my budget. I’m still looking for little ways to improve my routine, but there’s a lot that not under my control at the office. I’m sure that’s how it is for most people, but little things have an impact, too.

May 17, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , . Thriftiness is Cool. 3 comments.