Parsimonious Living!

Articles, Hints and Tips

by Nita Holstine 

Kitchen, Bath & Gift Ideas Collection 11-21-03


01-01-03 Vinegar on a daily basis

  I am not one to enjoy the biting smell of vinegar. When I use it in canning, I have to hold my breath and turn my head away. Choke. 

  But I found a new and wonderful use for the inexpensive liquid. We have a very, very old mobile home. Maybe long abused would be a better term. The toilet is beyond hope of looking good. No commercial products regardless of the advertising will make it look like new again. Even freshly disinfected, it soon produces a smell that says it is not clean anymore. 

  I always liked to occasionally put about a cup of vinegar through the washer to keep it nice and sweet. One day, I noticed that just leaving the cap off the bottle made the room smell so nice and light. There was no bite unless you stick your nose to the bottle. 

  Now on a daily basis, I pour about half a cup into the toilet and leave the jug open to freshen the room. Keep the vinegar handy for when a visitor to the throne needs a quick air freshener. Just open the jug and faster than you could squirt the expensive aerosol can, the air is light and neutral of smell. No harsh heavy scent to linger and not really cover any offensive smells.  

  Don't forget to put the cap back on; a few moments is all that you will need and always look for the generic brands when shopping. Dollar stores sometimes carry the gallon jugs but don't get the little pint size as that would make the cost much too high.


12-11-02 Christmas with no money to spend

  Thanksgiving is finished but there are a few meals of leftover turkey still in the freezer. Fortunately, the plans for Christmas crafts was flexible enough that when I found the drill didn't work, I was not devastated. 

  I was listening to a television commercial where the lady had been making knitted items as Christmas gifts. At long last, the family got through to her that she wasn't very good at it. So, it was time she went and spent lots of money on those she should have been buying for all along. The merchants would have you believe this is so. And I don't knit for many since one threw away a cap. Right in front of me, certainly no thank you. It was that or nothing. So, nothing it shall be for you kid. 

  When there is no money to spend, you just do the best you can. Look over what projects are almost finished and could make a fine Christmas present. I spend all year collecting samples and odds and ins and can give a few here and there. I've spent extra time finding websites that have plenty of free knitting and crocheting patterns so I can use my extra yarn. Find all those patterns in the Homespun Creations Section. I plan on using the new Wrapping Paper for things I need to wrap and the Postcard Creator's Black & White Christmas selection for making my own Christmas cards. 


11-22-02 Low/No cost Ventures

  The holiday season is upon us once again. Thanksgiving is next week and Christmas gift lists have already been made. Some really crafty people, like Wanda Lynch, have already made or purchased for everyone on their list. The official word came down from boss guy this past Wednesday that there would be no Christmas bonus this year for Randy. So, the focus will be toward doing things that will require little or no money. 

  This includes all gifts given. Arlene Correll has her own page now and this week's feature is how to use acorns. That is one of few things that we have lots and lots of. I will make several items just to see how well they do. Much of the process is experimental. There won't be must available to spend but 90% of the project is from the acorns themselves. She gave me some wonderful ideas that would never have occurred to me. I have worked with drill presses and heavy duty equipment for many years so the challenge is an adventure.  

  I had already made a section in the Homespun Creations Section where I put together wreaths from items on hand. I will make several extras to give to people we see over the holidays. The fresh wreath is personal and nice but it will expire and that means the trash can. There also needs to be something that stays around. My niece gave us bookmarks years ago and I still use mine and think of her every time I see it. 

  While I cannot explain my new project any more yet, I will find the best ways to do what I have in mind. I have found no websites showing what I want and what detailed suggestions I do find still leave me with a few trials and tests. The more processing I put into any item required will be less cost or no cost. 

  Now when I spend extra time under the oak trees gathering acorns, it will be valuable time well spent. By the same reasoning, if I am not happy with the end result, I have lost little actual time and virtually no money.


Create Storage So You Can Stock Up !

  Do you ever find a great bargain on something you always use and wish you could buy a dozen? Probably enough to last you a year. But you can’t because you don’t have room to keep them. Maybe you could but then you wouldn’t be able to find them when they were needed.

   I found the perfect spot when I needed this kind of extra storage and pantry space. It had to be cool and dark, handy yet not in the way of traffic. It was the back closet. A little fall cleaning and it was easy enough to condense what was in one half to fit into the other side. Closet organizers are wonderful but I had a bookshelf that worked just fine and holds all my many “pantry” items. Close the door and it looks like a regular closet.

   Now, when we visit the local bulk & truckload specials warehouse, we buy at least enough not to make a trip again for several months.  Hey, that’s saving even more money!



  Rather than change anything in the preceding article, I will begin where it left off. Besides all the canning, Wanda also buys in bulk and stocks up whenever she finds a bargain. This past week, she sent in her recipe for bbq sauce. It's in the canning section and she had just made and canned enough to last her family the entire year. She makes all her own sauces and relishes. I made a list of my canning questions and she had an answer for everything. She added the site address for a place that sells large containers for storing the bargains you find in bulk size. It is in the Kitchen Tips Section but she has offered to do a feature on Stocking Up and Buying in Bulk soon so the site will be mentioned again.  

  One of the best money saving bulk items is toilet paper. Most people would think that jumbo packs of paper had been around forever. I am not all that old and I can remember when you could only buy toilet paper one roll at a time. A store would have it on special but with a limit of one or two. Mom would give us all the exact money needed for our purchase and we'd each get the limit. Since we have started buying ground turkey for cooking, we find it only in one pound tubes. It would definitely be the one meat I really would not want to have to repackage after I got it home. When the freezer supply is low, we'll buy 10 to 15 pounds at one time. It's enough that we get the chicken leg and thigh pieces in the ten pound bag and I divide the pieces up into freezer bags each with a meal's worth.

  When we first started attracting the birds up into our yard, we were buying small bags of wild birds seeds. Pet shops have bulk barrels of a wide variety of mixes but it too is very expensive. Go to the feed store. Call around first to not waste any trips. The store we visit carries the black sunflower as well as the wild bird seed mix. We used to have a large number of cockatiels and parakeets and would buy the 50 pound bags of their seeds as well. The price savings is unbelievable. Make sure you can use up the quantity or have a good tightly sealed space for storage to keep it from going bad. We have been using large metal trash cans for storage and they are not quite water tight. The handles leak even when new and as they get older, the metal will show small cracks and leak all over its surface. Ideally, I would keep the metal cans to keep rodents out but keep them inside a small building that had a roof that would not leak.

  We have a local Sav-a-Lot where you can buy some items at really good prices. It is the kind of store that you get enough of what they do carry to last for about a month, until your next mission. The local super Wal-Mart has their own generic brand of most household basics. Their Great Value brand of whole green beans is far better than Del Monte and at much less cost. They are bought a dozen at a time. 


HOMESTEADING: (07-08-02)

  If you are a regular reader, you noticed this past issue began articles from Wanda Lynch. Her family went from $2000 a month to $500 a month. Could you adjust? She is a true Homesteader and is just finding out the new modernistic meaning. 

  When I asked her about eating chicken that was not a meat variety, she answered that it is a matter of getting used to the home grown birds. When her birds are dispatched, they are put into cold water. Many sources are discussing that it is not a good thing to put the carcass into the freezer right away. Rather, to keep cooling the bird and don't put it into the freezer until it has lost its warmth.

  One of her favorite things for saving money is to hang her laundry out to dry on the clothes line. After our bout with the dust mites, I gave up hanging clothes on the line. I try to be stingy with the time the dryer is running but I like to filter out as much of the lint and dust and mites as possible. When I can't wash the blankets very often, I will fill in between times by letting them run in the dryer for about 10 minutes.  Make sure you clean the filter often to maintain effectiveness. Know where your dryer is vented outside (or under) your home. They easily get stopped up and a regular check will avoid problems later. If the vent is under the house and gets too hot, a fire can smolder and ignite when you least expect it. 



  I remember fondly when my children were young and growing so fast they usually only wore clothes for a few months before they needed bigger clothes. I loved to shop at JC Penny's because they kept a marked down section. They were garments perfect except for seams that were loose or hems needing repair. We're talking many years ago but it only takes actively looking and keeping an eye out for such a section in your favored stores. 

  Yard Sales were wonderful when I could spend the time to look through children's clothes. You know, the big box of wrinkled girl's cotton dresses and boy's cotton dress shirts that they just throw in a box and hope someone makes them an offer for the entire lot. In our modern age, most people still hate to iron. If the child has outgrown the garment, it's time to give it away! Use a little spray starch or sizing and the frock will look better than new. Wrap it in a tissue lined gift box and it becomes very special. Make sure to also iron the label so the spell is not broken. I will be adding an article giving Ironing Hints the Around the House Section.

  When my son was about 3, I was surprised at how fast the knees disappeared in the jeans and slacks. The solution was to use iron on patches and when the pants are brand new. Iron the patches to the inside and  set the pant crease. Buy the quality brand of patches in a better sewing store and you'll be glad. No pealing edges; different weight patch for the weight of the fabric. The pants won't last forever but maybe as long as they fit the child. 



  Many years ago, I happened to visit the library in the small town near where we were living. To my great surprise, they kept a great variety of magazines. The best part of the deal was that they allowed patrons to check out the magazines for a week at a time. They had so few visitors that they encouraged all who were interested to use the magazines. I still miss that area. Most very small towns don't have a library at all. Our big town library has every magazine but you must sit in their reading rooms to use the magazines.



   I was listening to a man relating how little money they had after he had lost his job.  He mentioned that they could not afford diapers and he said it with complete innocence. Those disposable diapers are a fairly new invention and are still considered an extravagant expense by those who could not afford such things when their own children were babies. 

   In days long ago, day care centers would not accept any child that was not potty trained. No diapers needed. Now days, mothers can and do leave their children with caregivers when they are only weeks old. Their jobs and careers demand it. I doubt that you could find one that would not require disposable diapers. Forget the landfill and give me convenience! 

   I remember well the cloth diapers and the diaper pail. When I could not afford a washing machine or laundromat, I washed them out by hand and hung them on the clothesline to dry. In those days, what was sold as a disposable diaper was irritating to baby's skin and the plastic outside caused a rash. At the best, they were saved for special occasions. If you ran out of clean diddies, you used a towel. 

  I noticed an article in Countryside Journal where a girl mentioned that she used cloth diapers and found a type that was used by a diaper service. The material was industrial (yet soft) and could stand up to the harsh chlorine bleach on a daily basis. I just knew that normal fabric was not intended to see any bleach.



   Many people would never consider paying for a manicure or pedicure. Some of us even cut our own hair and it's a better cut that most beauty shops. It is more of a way of thinking and seeing value; in being able to make do or do without when necessary and not gripe about it!

   Have you ever paid someone else to do your ironing? To mow  your yard?  To clean your house? They are all quite common in this modern age of careers and families with little time to spend together for such things as cooking and  meals, sports, music and vacations. I heard on the local news where the smaller high schools were dropping the home economics class due to lack of interest. If you know how to cook and operate a functional home, it will be expected of you. If you don't, then you have to go out to eat a lot and hire the housework done for you. You have no skills to pass on to your children and they will have no sense of need to maintain their own home, it's just something else they will pay to have done.

   When you plan the meals you prepare, how do you chose the ingredients. The more processing of food items, the higher the price. The highest being the meal that is served to you at a restaurant. You can purchase completely prepared meals; heat and eat! You can also buy uncooked meats and vegetables, spend the little extra time and have a much less expensive meal.  



   I am always looking for ways to send something special through the mail to the grandkids. Many time while I am on the Internet, I come across offers of free magazines; sometimes a single copy and sometimes a full free year. 

   Surprise, tell the postal employee that the package is magazines and you will get a discount rate, about half the usual rate. I have been able to send some wonderful surprises for the grandkids to their great delight.  If you don't have grandkids, how about sending something to a niece or nephew. 



   Our number one means of saving is at the grocery store.  We no longer buy ground beef.  Instead, we stock up on ground turkey, which runs about $.75 per pound. How does that compare to what you pay for very lean ground beef?  Check out our page on preparing ground turkey to make it taste even better than the beef. The article covers the different ways to have ground turkey in meals that used to get ground beef.



   Before I started this topic, I put a small article in Around the House about using the dryer sparingly especially to dry a single bath towel when it would not be wet if the person first dried off with a washrag; ring out the water and only use the towel to finish drying. Nowhere near as wet.

   Sometimes I am guilty of resetting the dryer when it's finished and I'm not ready to put the load of clothes away. Make it a policy to take the clothes out just before they are finished. Cut every corner possible but don't take the clothes out when they are too wet to finish drying on a hanger or the ironing basket.

   Long ago I thought I was saving a lot and doing good to hang sheets out on the clothes line to dry. One of the strong points in combating dust mites was to not dry clothes outside; to only dry in the clothes dryer and clean the lint filter very often. Clean the end of the dryer tube that goes outside once in awhile. Use that dryer when needed but don't let it run on and on, wasting all that electricity.



   If you sew, you know what a royal pain it is to replace a zipper. Tedious and time consuming to take the time to get it right. You would just as soon throw the garment into the rag bag. The last zipper I bought to replace a broken one had some hints for making every zipper last longer printed on the directions.

   Notice and make sure that when zippers are  unzipped, they are completely unzipped all the way to the bottom before the garment is removed. Then, make sure that before garments are laundered, the zippers are all zipped all the way up. It is definitely worth the little bit of extra care.