Friday, March 30, 2012

How an Accountant Helps Us Achieve Frugality

Outsourcing is usually not associated with frugality.  In today's world it seems that "frugal" is associated only with the "do it yourself" movement.  From making your own yogurt to backyard chickens to home repair, frugal people are taking on all sorts of tasks.  Unless of course you live in our frugal household.

A few years ago I convinced my husband to outsource our taxes.  I married an electrical engineer.  To say he is good with numbers is an understatement.  He was on a math team, and dreams of coaching our kids when they are old enough for math team. I am not kidding. So, to turn over all of our finances and the math behind it to an accountant was not easy.  But we made the switch.

In a year when I am looking at every expenditure closely, I was skeptical if the CPA fee would be worth it.  The papers are done, the balances owed determined (we are both self-employed), and our accountant gave great advice.  Advice that will save us thousands in the year to come.  And his counsel was not something we would have received on Turbo Tax, which we used up until the switch.

What was the wonder he pulled off?  Advising my husband to elect to be taxed as an S-Corp.  You probably don't want the specifics, unless you have trouble sleeping......Essentially it reduces taxes by splitting off wages from bonuses.  If you are self-employed it is probably worth asking your accountant about.

Frugality doesn't mean you have to do everything yourself.  In my world it means wisely spending your money as well as your time.  By using an accountant we received information not available on turbo tax and freed up substantial hours of time it would have taken us to do the returns.  He was far more efficient, and we had that time to devote to our careers, health, or family.  If you are looking for ways to be more frugal, figure out what you earn per hour.  Then see if you can outsource tasks you don't really enjoy for less.  Use the time you save to work, and its a frugal result.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

When Consignment Goes Belly-Up

Consignment shops are a great resource for the frugally minded.  First, they offer a great place to shop.  You'll save money (if you shop with intention and not just as entertainment) and you'll give old items new life.  Second, consignment shops are a great way for people to convert clutter into cash.  I've used one (Puttin' on the Ritz in Middleton, Wisconsin) for nearly 10 years.

With the recent economic downturn, consignment shops have sprung up all over America.  People are shopping, people are consigning, and apparently here in Madison, people are buying consignment shops without really looking at the numbers.

Monday's edition of the Wisconsin State Journal contains an SOS -- a piece where the paper aims to help readers with a problem.  Lady Moxie is no longer, it closed last year.  The story in this week's newspaper stated the fact that many who consigned with Lady Moxie are out their items and cash.  The original owner of the store went through a divorce in 2007 and opted to sell the store to an employee.  The employee bought it, not really looking at the numbers, and it ended up in bankruptcy.  Now the doors are locked, and the items locked away.  The last owner stated "I don't think it ever made a profit."

This story has two lessons in it for those studying the art of frugality.  One, don't consign items that you really want the cash back from.  View it as a bonus if it sells.  If it is that important that you get the cash, sell it yourself.  And second, avoid impulse buys....especially if the purchase can cost you your home, care, marriage (the second owner divorced as well) and more.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

What I've Been Reading: The Edible Garden



Spring has arrived early here in Wisconsin, and I find myself with several "garden" books that I checked out from the library to read over the winter.  My books lasted longer than winter, and now I am scrambling a bit!  So, I am trying to pick up the pace.  This past week I looked through The Edible Garden: How to have your garden and eat it by Alys Fowler.

I say I "looked through" it because it is one densely packed book.  And an intimidating one.  The women's garden is amazing.  She also must live in San Francisco or some milder climate.  I didn't have the time to look for those little details.  If you are just beginning to dapple in gardening, as I am, this is probably not the book to start with unless you have lots of time.  I mean lots of time.

I was inspired to plant potatoes however.  Reading the passage on pages 95 and 96 I remembered how I heard of other families who used a plastic kids pool as a planter.  The pictures showing amazing plants.  And the idea of letting my two little kids dig through the dirt in search of dinner is perfect.  The hard part will be preventing them from digging to early.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

It Never Hurts to Ask - Lessons in Frugality

Education is expensive, that is a fact of life.  I spent nine years in higher education.  First I earned a BA in political science, then a Masters in Public Administration.  I finished off my academic career with a law degree. And upon graduation I became a licensed attorney in Wisconsin.  And with that privilege came a requirement to obtain 30 credit hours of continuing legal education every two years.  Yes, even with degrees in hand, the learning does not stop nor does the cost.  I love to learn, but it adds up quickly.

Recently I learned that a national company that coordinates expensive continuing legal education seminars in my focus area (estate planning and probate) often has scholarships that go unused.  I was encourage to ask, so I did.  A fired off a short letter stating that I am a solo-practitioner with a typical client paying me $700 for documents.  A seminar fee of $1500 for courses over a week's time was too steep for me -- I would miss working, thus billing, and I won't raise my rates for clients just to pay for these types of classes.  As a result, my client base (the middle class primarily) would miss out on the great information discussed at the event.  One week letter I received notice that I would be receiving a scholarship.

Lesson to take from this post - it never hurts to ask!

www.sxc.hu - free image

Monday, March 26, 2012

Freezer Report: Asparagus Soup

If you read last week's post, you know that I finally uncovered the asparagus I froze last Spring.  Over the weekend I turned it into a creamed soup, inspired by a recipe given to me by a friend.  Here is what I did:


  • 2 bags frozen asparagus, saute in 1 cup vegetable broth with a bit of garlic;
  • in a separate pan, melt 1/4 cup butter, add 1/4 flour, whisk to make a paste, remove from heat.
  • to asparagus add the four paste, 2.5 cups vegetable broth, a dash of salt and pepper, and 1/2 cup whole milk.  Stir and let simmer.
An amazingly simple soup.  I also think it would taste nice with rice added.  I might try that next time, but I'll have to uncover more asparagus.  

Next week I'll report on my attempts to consume the large amounts of frozen eggplant I recently uncovered.  Meals will have to expand beyond curry in order for us to put a dent in my stash.  Suggestions are welcome!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Fish For Free in Wisconsin 2012

Each year there is one full weekend, the first full Saturday and Sunday of June, that fishing in Wisconsin is free.  In 2012 those days are June 2nd and 3rd.  This is a great way for folks who do not fish regularly to get out and enjoy Wisconsin's rivers and lakes.  All for now cost....except if you have to buy gear and bait!

I grew up fishing all summer long.  We ate fried bluegill, sun fish, pike, and bass on occasion.  I want to share the experience with my children, but am not sure I'd feed them the fish we'd catch.....times have changed.  And thanks to a Christmas gift from my brother this past year, they each have fishing poles waiting in the garage.

Happy Fishing everyone....now we just need the calendar to catch up with the weather.

Image Credit: www.sxc.hu - free image


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Throwing A Successful Garage Sale

Being frugally minded, I love extending the use out of items.  And this includes turning "junk" into cash.  I am happy to clear the clutter out of my home, to see an item find a new keeper, and have some cold hard cash to put towards our savings goals.  Of late I have been focused on using Ebay and Craigslit; they simply fit better with the rhythm of our life.  But, a garage sale is in the near future.  Here are my thoughts on how to make it a successful one:

  • Schedule the sale for the same weekend as your "neighborhood sale" -- this will increase potential buyers in the area;
  • Combine your items with friends and family -- if there is a lot of stuff, it will catch the eye of bargain hunters;
  • Be Type A about your display -- group like items together, hang clothing, set up the furniture in a way that is inviting, etc.;
  • Make sure that you don't have to pay for child care while you are at the sale.  Paying a sitter will eat into your profit;
  • After the clock hits Noon, put up a sign that everything is 1/2 Off;
  • Offer baked goods and beverages for sale....even bottled water (price it so you make a small profit);
  • Have small bills, change, and batteries on hand for shoppers;
  • Save your precious time and use a colored dot system for pricing -- blue is $1, red is $2, etc.  Have this clearly on display at the register and entrance as well as the tables;
  • Have good signage, use balloons and other things to attract attention (just be certain not to block the view for traffic); and
  • Be willing to haggle on price.  
Please share your stories, both positive and negative about sales.  I plan to have one next year, and am already putting things in place in my mind.

Image credit:  www.sxc.hu - free image

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Frugal Garden Prep

Image Credit:  www.sxc.hu - free image

If you live in the upper Midwest, you will understand why I am thinking about gardening.  It is March and we've been setting records for daily high temperature.....in the 80s this week.  It feels like June, not March.  While I find this disturbing, I am also thinking about gardening this year.  Specifically container gardening.  And in order to do that, I need containers.

I have a few houseplant containers, one large terra cotta container, and 2 large plastic containers.  In an effort to add a few more items to the garden I am going to take another large terra cotta container from my office (a palm was dying a slow death -- not the thing you want when you do estate planning).  I am also thinking of using empty coffee containers (made of tin) and possibly cutting down plastic cat litter containers.  I love the idea of reusing these items, and not having to purchase other containers.

Does anyone else have suggestions on good containers that might be a happy home for tomatoes, peppers, and herbs this summer?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Getting The Most Out Of Take-Out

Take-out is a fact of life.  And sometimes it is yummy.  But there is no getting around the fact that it is usually more expensive than a home cooked meal, and creates more waste.  Here are a few of the ways I try and make the most of those take-out meals:

  • use a coupon if you have one -- we love buy one get one free, but avoid any that require the purchase of a beverage (we have those at home, and restaurant prices are soooo high);
  • add the napkins to our pile (which we use if the cloth are dirty);
  • put plastic utensils in our "party box" -- we have a large gathering 3 times a year and re-use plastic utensils;
  • if the container is durable, I wash it and use it for my husband's brown bag lunches or put it in the pile I use when I send leftovers home with guests; and
  • any packets of sauce or cream are put into a "single use pile".  My husband prefers his food spicier than I do, or our children.  When I make eggs for example, I just pull out some of the Mexican food sauces and add them to his plate.
And that is how I stretch those take-out meal dollars.  What about you?  Any tips to share?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Freezer Report - I Found the Asparagus!

For my loyal readers, you will be delighted to learn that I have finally seen the bottom of my chest freezer!  Yes, the end is in sight.  Will I manage to use up all the contents before the next growing season?  The first market of the season is April 21st.....and to my frugal delight, the fishing expedition this week uncovered two pack of frozen asparagus.  It will be turned into the following soup, recipe given to me by a friend, source unknown.

Cream of Asparagus Soup:

  • 1 pound asparagus, cut into one inch pieces, cook on medium heat in 1 cup of broth (chicken or vegetable).  Takes about 7 minutes;
  • In another pan, melt 1/4 cup butter, remove from heat.  Add 1/4 cup flour and stir until a smooth paste is formed.  Gradually add 2.5 cups broth, whisk.
  • Return the pan to the heat, cook until soup has thickened.
  • Add 1/2 cup half-and-half (I use whole milk), a dash of salt and pepper, and the cooked asparagus along with its liquid.
  • The recipe indicates that you can leave the asparagus whole, but I prefer to use my immersion blender.
This tastes great with a toasted ham and cheese sandwich!

As for my freezer, I still have a lot of frozen summer squash and eggplant to use.  Can you say curry!  This next year I am going to count the weeks from the end of the market until the next season; for each week I need 1 bag of veggies for curry.  I think I have a few too many this year.

How about you, are you ready for the market?  If you live in the Midwest, it will seem like a late start because mother nature has shot us into summer like weather.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Frugal St. Patrick's Day Dish - Vegetarian Irish Stew

Arriving tomorrow is one of America's most loved holidays, St. Patrick's Day.  Whether you are 100 percent Irish or none, most people enjoy celebrating all things green.  And if you are looking for a frugal alternative to Irish Stew (have you seen the prices of lamb lately!), here is a tasty vegetarian option:

In a large pot, boil: 8 cups water; 2 cups chopped celery; 3 cups minced onion; 1cup diced russet potato; 3 cups diced cabbage; 2 bay leaves; and 1 tsp thyme.  Once boiling, reduce heat to medium, cover and cook for 30 minutes.

Next add: 1 crumbled basil leaf; 1 tsp ground celery seed; 2 cups chopped carrot; 2 cups fresh parsley; 2 tsp sea salt; 4 tbsp butter; and a dash of black pepper.  In the last minutes you can add 2 - 4 tbsp cream to thicken the soup....which I prefer.

And there you have it, a tasty tribute to all things Irish.  Enjoy, and may the luck of the Irish be with you until Monday's post!

Image credit: www.sxc.hu - free image

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Free Zoos in the United States

Living in Madison, Wisconsin offers many great things. Near the top of the list is the Henry Vilas Zoo, which is free to the public.  For devoted readers for Frugal Upside, you may remember that instead of purchasing tons of Christmas gifts, we give to charities instead.  Last year one recipient was the Henry Vilas Zoo.  And just last week I discovered that our gift came with a gift back to us -- reciprocity with other zoos all over the country.

Image taken by Author, Melinda Gustafson Gervasi

On its web site is a list of zoos.  Included are several other free zoos.  The list, confirmed with a phone call, also tells me that our donation will get us in free to both the New Zoo in Green Bay and the International Crane Foundation.  Both were on our Spring or Summer destination list, and now admission will be free.  Discoveries like this put a smile on my face, and ensure that we'll be skipping the holiday gifts again this year and instead donating to charities.

Oh, and those free zoos are:

  • Cabrilo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro, CA;
  • National Zoo, Washington, DC;
  • Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, IL;
  • David Traylor Zoo, Emporia, KS;
  • Lee Richardson Zoo, Garden City, KS;
  • Hutchinson Zoo, Hutchinson, KS;
  • Salisbury Zoo, Salisbury, MD;
  • Como Park Zoo, St. Paul, MN;
  • St., Louis Zoo, St. Louis, MO;
  • Cape May County Park and Zoo, Cape May, NJ; and
  • Henry Vilas Zoo, Madison, WI.
Do not rely on this list....always call before going if you want free admission.  We live in an ever changing world, and this could be out of date within a day of publication.

For you zoo fans, what is your favorite exhibit?


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Frugal Advertising

Having been self-employed for just under ten years, I am commonly asked by people venturing into the world of self-employment or business about advertising.  What's the best advertising?  My response usually surprises them. Since starting my own solo-legal practice I have paid for very little advertising.  We're talking less than $500 total if advertising refers to ads and promotions.

However, I do have a steady flow of business, which I can thank in part to four things:

  • Giving things away for free.  I have the privilege of a very strong educational background. And I aim to share my knowledge with others, often for no fee.  Through seminars on estate planning and probate (most of which are free or low cost through local organizations) and writing a blog on illness, death and taxes for the middle class I am able to give people free information.  I am not giving away legal advice, that would be malpractice.  But I do provide information that is basic to me, and valuable to those who do not do what I do for a living.  People appreciate this, and are often inclined to do business with me....sometimes years after attending a seminar.
  • Volunteering in my larger community:  Volunteering is a great way to expand the network of people you know, infuse positive energy into your life, and earn respect.  My volunteer efforts range from serving as the chairperson of the Dane County Ethics Board to a member of committees at my church to coordinating earth day clean ups in my neighborhood.
  • Making connections for other people:  Recently I received an email from a friend asking for the name of a CPA, and she thought of me because "you have a great professional network".  I was happy to pass along the name of my accountant.  Whether it is a CPA, a baby store, a restaurant, or a feature at the public library -- I make it my goal to connect people who can benefit from another.  From that connection is a happiness that I helped someone, and an inherent sense that the favor will come back around to me one day.
  • Maintaining relationships that are not directly related to my profession:  People tend to hire people they know, especially in my line of work.  I am a true extrovert, so getting to know people is a real treat for me.  I accomplish this in several ways.  One, I coordinate a book club (see last weeks post).  Two, we have three annual get-togethers a year at our home: a celebration of International Pi Day in March; appetizers and drinks before the free Opera in the Park that is held 1 block from our home in July; and a celebration of all things Fall in October.  The last event we had allowed me to visit, face-to-face with 50 people.  No business was discussed, but it is through friends and neighbors referrals that my practice is sustained.  In order to keep those relationships going, we need reason to get together.  And three, I am always happy to make new friends.  Never be afraid to say hello -- you'd be surprised how easy it is to find common ground.
These tools work not only for attorneys, but accountants, financial planners, day care owners, hair stylists, bloggers, lawn care services, auto repair businesses, restaurant owners, and the list goes on.

I'm curious to hear from others.  What frugal ways do you advertise your business?



Image credit:  www.sxc.hu - free image

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cutting Fuel Expenses

Gas prices are creeping up, have you noticed?  I drive an economical car, and I keep my trips as infrequent as possible.  One thing I've done this year is to drastically reduce the number of times I drive to the bank.

As a small business owner (I have a part-time legal practice), I am handed checks from clients on a weekly basis.  Which meant I was running to my credit union, at least once a week.  And then I found out that I can simply mail in my deposits.  And even better, the envelope is furnished by the credit union and postage is paid by them, not me!

So, instead of 4 to 6 trips to the credit union each month, I now go twice a month.  I take out enough cash for y personal spending and groceries.  If I have deposits, I take care of those at the same time.  The rest are handled by the USPS.  They make the rounds every day, so why duplicate the effort!

The savings probably don't amount to too much.  But I'm saving gas, wear and tear on my car, and the precious time I do not have enough of.

Think outside the box.  What areas of your life can you re-structure to reduce car trips?  Share your stories, other readers, as would I, would love to hear!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Monday's Freezer Report

Curry, we are eating a lot of curry in our house.  It is the easiest way for me to make use of the veggies I stashed away in our chest freezer last summer.  And I've started giving things away.  I made a curry for a family at church that just had a baby.  And those cranberries I am having trouble consuming were turned into an orange cranberry bread for the neighbor who cleared my sidewalk during our last snow storm.

If I have the time, I hope to spend an afternoon making big pots of soup with some of the veggies.  Ah time, something that I am running low on these days.  Until next week, happy dinning!


How about you, what ways do you ensure you use up all those veggies and fruits you put away during the harvest?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Profile in Frugality: Andy Rooney

What does frugality look like?  Apparently the face of Andy Rooney.


Recently I read a blog post describing Mr. Rooney's estate plan, which was surprisingly basic for a man worth $9 million.  That wealth was amassed over his 92 years of life, many of which were frugal.  Not wanting to pay for services he could do himself he didn't start taking cabs in NY until he was age 90, made his own ice cream, and shinned his shoes.  Frugality comes in all shapes and sizes, and at the end of a life, can add up.  If that were me, I would have done one thing differently -- include a few charities in my plan as well.  How about you?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Frugal Book Club

Books are my weakness.  I love them.  I love buying them. But as a frugal person I use my public library as much as possible.  Reading it once, and if deciding I'd read it again the I will purchase it for my own shelf.  From my love of books stems a desire to share them with others.  And I've found a lovely format for a frugal book club.  I call it "Book Club With a Twist".

We meet once a month, on a Sunday afternoon.  Instead of all having read the same book the month before, we simply report on what we've read recently that we loved.  Some people pull on reads from years ago, others the week prior.

Why is this frugal?  It drastically cuts down on book club book purchases.  When you have 4 weeks to read a book, a library is not always an option.  And, it may be a selection you hate.  And you might own it.  Not great if you're watching your budget.

Our group does meet at a restaurant, usually one where members can get a drink "with a twist" if they desire.  An super frugal approach would be to meet at members homes, but that is a bit too much for our members.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Frugality and A Coin Jar

Are you frugal because you want to pay off debt or reach a savings goal?  If so, you are like my family.  The only debt we have is our mortgage, and our goal is to pay it off in a few years.  Maximizing earnings is one was to achieve this goal, but another is to make the most of every penny.  Literally, every penny.  No cent is overlooked in our house!  We keep a ceramic container, which was a gift many years ago, in one spot.  Loose change from our pockets, the laundry, bottom of our bag, picked up on a run -- they all end up in the container.  When it is full it is taken to our credit union.  We opt to deposit it and put it towards whatever stage of saving we are working towards.  Each year we have some savings goals, and once met, we put any additional savings towards the mortgage.

Whether it is student debt, a vacation fund, credit card debt, etc., I encourage you to create a container for change.  Once full you'll have $20 to $50 towards your goal. You'd pick up a $20 bill wouldn't you?  Don't overlook the pennies -- they add up.

Oh, and don't spend money on a coin jar.  Free options include: empty coffee can, plastic container, or any random vase or container you have on a shelf.   Happy saving!

Image credit:  www.sxc.hu - free image

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Midwest Living, Frugality, and No Snowblower

In late 2010 we bought a home.  With it came a driveway and sidewalk.  And soon a snowy winter.  As we added to our cachet of household items there was some discussion of a snow blower. When I checked out the price of a snow blower I was shocked.  Several hundred dollars for a machine that is used a few times a year, will likely break, and take up a good portion of space in the garage.  My husband agreed.  And we made a pact to remove snow "old school style" for as long as our health allowed.  We hope that a snow blower isn't need until we are near retirement.  A good 2.5 decades away.

But we do live in Madison, Wisconsin, and snow has a tendency to fall.  Sometimes a lot, all at once.  We have been lucky this winter (unless of course you like lots of snow).  Minor accumulations, here and there.  Of course this past weekend we got several inches of wet, heavy snow.  If fell just as much husband boarded a plane to warm Tampa, Florida for a 48-hour visit with his parents.  It was a birthday gift to his dad; having a son there when happy birthday is sung is always a treat.  But, that left me at home with two small children, a house on a busy street, and a weekend which means no nanny scheduled to help.  Yet I did not wish we had a snow blower.

Upon hearing about the storm, I asked my neighbor if he would "take care of my sidewalk".  Retired, he has time, a snow blower, and a sweet tooth.  He was more than happy to clear away the snow for me.  In exchange, I delivered a bag of homemade baked goods.  He was happy.  I found another use for the zucchini in my freezer (yummy zucchini bread).  After the kids were in bed, I cleared the driveway.  It took me 15 minutes and was a great way to burn off some calories and enjoy a winter night. If my neighbor had not been an option, I have the phone number of a guy who removes snow.  For $45 he would arrive with his blow.

And that is how a frugal family views a snow blower -- last ditch option.  We'll shovel ourselves, it is great exercise.  If we can't or need help, we'll ask someone who already owns one.  And if they can't we'll hire a professional.  The cost if far less than buying a machine ourselves.

Image credit: www.sxc.hu - free image

Monday, March 5, 2012

Freezer Report

The first farmers' market of the season is April 21st!  That gives me six weeks to use up most of the goodies I stored last fall.  And cranberries were something I must have thought we'd eat a lot of.  Slight miscalculation on my part.  In an effort to put a dent in the cranberry stash we have in the chest freezer, I made a relish.  The recipe was modified slightly:

  • 3 cups frozen or fresh cranberries (I used 2 cups frozen);
  • 1 medium orange;
  • 1 apple (I omitted the apple);
  • 1 cup walnuts (I used ground walnuts); and
  • 3/4 to 1 cup sugar (I drizzled in some honey.
The result was a large portion of relish.  And I was the only one in the house interested in eating it.  Overall it wasn't bad....a bit tart.  In retrospect I should add more fruit, a bit more honey, and prepare this when we are having guests.  It would be been ideal on the table for Thanksgiving or Christmas.  And apparently it is well known.  I was reading a book, a memoir about building a cabin in the Maine woods, and the final chapter chronicled the first Thanksgiving dinner at the cabin.  Featured was "cranberry relish made with walnuts and oranges and a freight-car-load of sugar."  Yeah, I think I should have used more sweet in my mix.  Next time!

The cover of the memoir, Cabin: Two brothers, a dream, and five acres in Maine, by Lou Ureneck

I still have not found the asparagus I froze last Spring.  Maybe next week.  My latest freezer pull (I take from the chest freezer a few packages to keep in my kitchen freezer, making it easier to incorporate into meals) was cabbage, broccoli, and eggplant.  I'm think curries and cream soup this week.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Coupon Give Away -- $10 for Target

Does a coupon for $10 at Target, if you fill a new prescription or transfer an existing one to their pharmacy, sound nice?  If so, I have three sitting on my counter.  All expire on March 19th.  Combine that with a bit of writer's block, and you have today's post.

I am not going to use those coupons, and I could use some suggestions for Frugal Upside materials.  So, for those who post a comment on this blog in the next 48 hours, and in that comment you ask my frugal advice on a problem or inspire a post in any other way, I will give you a coupon.  There are three to hand out!

So, start posting those comments.  Post this post on other discussion boards where people might like a chance to win a $10 coupon -- or all three if they are inspiring.

If I use your comment, I will ask you to send me your mailing address and I'll put the coupon in the mail ASAP.

Oh, and here is a link to a nice piece on the danger of coupons -- they can save you money, but are also the source of many impulse buys.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Homemade Body Scrub

Recently a friend gave me a jar of lovely, homemade body scrub.  It is far less expensive than the jars on beauty store shelves.  Here is the recipe.  It is great for yourself or for thoughtful gifts.

Mix:
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon scented massage oil (she used lavender)

Finally, a recipe for brown sugar that I case use!!!