Readers' Tips

How to Buy a Juicer

I use a Vitamix®. It leaves the fiber in it, but liquefies it. It is healthier to have the whole food rather than just the juice.
Serena (via Facebook)

editor's note: For more on juicers, please click here.

Just Let Them Know

We let friends and family know we are working out more these days at home. Since then, when folks are getting rid of equipment, they ask us if we are interested, and we are! So far, we have been given a very basic but working exercise bike and an ab roller. We had to duct tape the handles on the bike and cover the seat, but both were free. We use them several times a week.
Dorothy L.

Great Lunches

For lunch, when you do not have a microwave, buy soup jars or a Thermos® and bring leftovers. Warm leftovers in the morning and spoon them into the jars. You may want more than one, so you can have a complete meal.

Chop meat for one jar, veggies in another, and your favorite side in another jar. Bring a little container for dessert and a cup with lid and spout filled with your favorite drink, juice, or tea. After putting it all in a tote bag, you're on your way to a good home-cooked meal. It may be a little much to carry, but it beats waiting in line for a microwave.

Additional TDS Resource: More on lunches when you don't have a microwave

Reducing Vet Bills

I have a Newfoundland (very large dog). I left her at the vet's office one day for a split (but bleeding) toenail to be correctly trimmed. When I got home, the phone was ringing. The vet needed to know if he could use some of her blood to transfuse to a very sick dog. Of course, I said that he could. When I picked her up, I had a nice credit on my bill. In addition to treating her toenail (which was minor), they'd done a fairly complete blood panel to make sure she was healthy. Dogs can donate blood every seven weeks or so. I generally get a couple of calls a year asking for blood transfusions, and I always agree. This usually saves me about $300 per year. Not all dogs are suitable donors because of their health and size.
Rebecca H.

editor's note: To avoid some emails, I'm sure that some people would be uncomfortable with this suggestion. If that's the case, don't do it. But as someone who has donated well over a gallon in my lifetime, I can say that if you're healthy, giving blood causes only very minor pain and is safe. And, if a vet does it, it should be safe for your dog, too!

My Garden Supply

I'm always leaving my hand tools, seeds, twine, and row markers scattered around the garden. I found a great way to keep them in one place by using an emptied cat litter or five-gallon paint container. It makes a great seat while planting or weeding, too!

What's Inside?

When I used to put leftovers in food containers, I often forget the contents, and the food would get overlooked and spoil. Then I thought the trick would be to get the containers that are see-through, so I could readily identify the contents and use them up. This was still not fool-proof.

This week, I hung a small white board on the fridge, and when a leftover goes into the fridge, it gets recorded on the "menu," along with the number of servings. I also date the entry, so I can see how long the items have been in the refrigerator. Now, I can see at a glance what to use up first and what can be combined for an interesting meal of leftovers. Hopefully, this will keep me from throwing away so much food!
Karen B.

Review It First

If you are thinking about buying an item online, start by looking at its lowest rated reviews first. This usually makes me decide that it would not be a good purchase, and I lose interest in the item.

My Garden Wagon

My favorite garden tool is an outgrown "little red wagon." I use it to:

  • carry mulch and potting soil bags from the car
  • tote my tools around
  • hold the weeds I pull until I can bag them
  • hold the fertilizer bags while I move from bed to bed
  • catch the dirt as I transplant from container to container
  • transport the heavy container pots around my yard

When I'm done, I simply hose it out. After it dries, it's ready for its other life. It also transports my groceries from the car to the house. It holds four paper bags at a time.

Make Your Own Steak Sauce

Here is an inexpensive alternative to store brand steak sauces. I use it in the slow cooker over a roast. It tastes very much like A.1.® steak sauce.

1/2 cup ketchup
1/3 cup lemon juice (bottled)
salt and pepper to taste

Put the ingredients in a small pan and simmer. Bottle and refrigerate. You can double or triple this recipe.
Patrick of Milwaukee, WI

Additional TDS Resource: More suggestions on homemade steak sauce recipes

Gnats Be Gone!

A great way to repel gnats in the summer is the use of vanilla. Mix vanilla extract with a little water and dab it around your neck, eyes, etc. You will smell nice to people but bad to gnats.

Easy Hairbrush Cleaner

The best thing that I have found for cleaning dirty hairbrushes is shampoo. I just put a small amount in a small pail of water, and then I put my brushes in the pail to soak. After an hour or two, I simply rinse them. The shampoo removes all of the buildup from hairspray or other styling products, and it also loosens any hair that I couldn't get out before soaking. Let the brushes dry before using them again. They will be cleaner than ever before!

Time Is Money

A friend who is moving bought a shredder for $60 to destroy old records, receipts, etc. Our local shredder service charges $20 per visit and will shred on site while you watch (to ensure privacy). For the price, you can shred about 30 average size boxes of paper, and it doesn't matter if there are staples or paper clips. Shredding by hand would take days at eight sheets at a time, and you have to haul away the bags of shredded paper.

Another Review Comment

I always read the reviews, but I keep in mind the price versus quality. Some people want something for nothing, so make sure your expectations are in line with what you are spending. Your needs for an item may be different than those of the reviewers.
Lisa R. via Facebook

Furniture for Smaller Spaces

I have a small bungalow and needed furniture that would fit. Older furniture is usually smaller, but it's still classy and one of a kind. For my living room, I went to an antique auction and picked up two upholstered chairs and a small couch from the 20s for $350. They have carved wooden legs and are very comfortable. I had them reupholstered for $850 and have a beautiful, functional living room as a result.
V. P. in California

Additional TDS Resource: More on finding affordable small furniture

The "New" Library

You don't have to add a stop at the library to your long list of errands in order to save on entertainment. You can use your library card to download ebooks and audiobooks to your mobile devices. OverDrive Media is an app that you can add to your smartphone or tablet. Just follow the directions for registering your library number. There are "always available" books that you can keep on your phone for months and only read when you are standing in line or waiting for an appointment. There are best sellers you can keep on your phone or tablet for two weeks, and there are even documentary videos you can check out to watch.
Lisa R. in Sidney, IL

The Meaning of "Lite"

As I was eating breakfast the other morning, I looked at the packaging for the "lite" cranberry juice I was drinking. It said "contains 50% juice," so I looked at the ingredient list. The first item was filtered water! So, I'm going to start buying the regular, full-strength juice and save my money by cutting it in half with water.
DW in Florida

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