Mini-Money Challenge: Wrestle More Money Out Of Your Largest Appliances

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Once I was visiting my in-laws in Central California. We were driving through what used to be Ag Land but is now, inexplicably, where people who work in San Francisco live. I say inexplicably because this area is about a 90 minute to two hour drive from San Francisco depending on traffic. People explain why [Continue Reading...]

On A Personal Note… (Or: What I Did On My Summer Vacation)

Attempted multi-tasking.

At this time of year millions of kids have to write essays entitled, “What I Did On My Summer Vacation.” I thought I would write a grown-up version of “What I Did On My Summer Vacation” to explain what’s been going on in life beyond this blog. So, at the risk of getting all Opera [Continue Reading...]

Stop Throwing Away Free Tomato Sauce

Making Thick Tomato Sauce From Tomato Skins (3)

It has come to my attention that many people are unwittingly throwing away free tomato sauce when they preserve their summer tomatoes. Here’s the thing: like all fruit, the skin of tomato is where much of the natural pectin resides. Pectin is the starch that gives jams their thickness and good tomato sauce its natural, [Continue Reading...]

How To Turn A Mason Jar Into A Fermenting Crock

Mason Jar DIY Fermentation Lid (1)

You can spend a lot of money on specialized pickling crocks. Go ahead, be my guest. You’ll learn all about how your $25-$200 is buying you an ideal anaerobic environment in which to nurture your precious anaerobic bacteria…blah, blah, blah. Me? I don’t need another unitasker in my kitchen. I like to be able to use a [Continue Reading...]

Three Book Giveaway: Build The Life You Really Want

Lisa Kivirist (1)

An advertising agency in Chicago used to pay Lisa Kivirist one big paycheck. Now, hundreds of people pay her lots of very small ones. All these little paychecks – over a thousand last year – allow Lisa, her husband John and their son to live the life they want: rural, sustainable and meaningful. People write [Continue Reading...]

The $332 Fantasy Facial (Or: An Anthropological Expedition to the Mall)

Makeup Store (5)

“If you get nothing else, please, please just get the moisturizer,” the overly plumped and overly plucked sales-cultist implores me. “You know, these are the years that really count for your skin.” The moisturizer is $75 for a two-ounce jar. The jar, it must be said, is a very pretty sandblasted green. It’s worth at least [Continue Reading...]

Don’t Buy These 5 Williams-Sonoma Agrarian Products

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Last week Williams-Sonoma branched out from French dishwear, excellent knives and seasonal high-end cocoa mix into urban homesteading gear. With the launch of their Agrarian line, Williams-Sonoma now sells gardening gear, chicken and bee keeping supplies, seeds, edible plants, fruit trees and preserving supplies. Some people in the hardcore DIY community (you know who you [Continue Reading...]

7 Ways To Save Money On Seeds – Without Saving Seeds

Onion Plants

Vegetable growing can be a great way to save money on food, but it can also be a dang expensive hobby in its own right. One of the biggest expenses edible gardeners run into is the cost of seeds. If you’ve been at this for awhile, you’ve noticed that the cost of seeds in the [Continue Reading...]

Seeds For Beginners: Saving, Storing and Organizing Your Vegetable Seeds

Seed Organization

I am getting a lot of questions about seeds right now. A friend came over to tour the garden and said she was thinking of using seed this year – a first for her. Another friend asked if she could use last year’s seeds. Once you graduate past a few patio tomato plants (not that [Continue Reading...]

Make Your Own Scented Liquid Soap – Cheap and Quick

For good or for ill, it’s Bath & Body Works season, L’Occitane season, Anthropologie season, Savon de Marseille season. It’s fancy-soap-with-fancy-smells season, and even my normally bare-bones, ascetic sensibilities when it comes to home and self care can loft a bit to the girly side. But not $32 plus $6 shipping for a 2 cups of [Continue Reading...]

The Rich Man, The Mormon Mom And The Dice Rolls Of Life

This is not a political blog. Sometimes my political leanings (which can be summed up as, “leave people more or less alone and don’t be a raging asshole,”) probably poke up, like so many unnoticed weeds in the raised bed of my life. But I try not to focus on politics here, or in my [Continue Reading...]

Not Your Grandma’s Plastic Bag Dryer

My grandma used to wash and reuse plastic bags. This Depression-era action epitomized, to my parent’s generation, cheapness and time wasting. I distinctly remember my own minimalist-minded mother laughing about the hoard of used plastic sandwich bags her mother-in-law never threw away. Well everything old is new again, and now I’m a bag washer and re-user. Say [Continue Reading...]