Archive for the 'Saturday’s Child' Category

Saturday’s child works hard for a living. On Saturday, find organizing, planning and reusing ideas to help make your life more efficient and beautiful.

Using up all the food you buy is a great way to live frugally, but it can be difficult. We are conditioned to think of cheap ingredients as basically disposable, and also to think of a lot of ingredients in one specific context. Taking some time to think about the types of items you waste out of habit and how they could be used will eventually help you to save money on food costs, while also giving you the opportunity to get creative and to find new favorite foods.

I say this with complete sincerity, but I actually do not cook. When I was a kid, I liked to bake, but I never really liked to cook; that was my sister. My first husband was a decent cook, and my second husband is a phenomenal one. I used to cook very occasionally, but after our daughter was born, even that petered out to almost never, with the exception of a recent interest in canning and candying. Now, our daughter is 11 years old, and my amazing cook of a husband has decided to do it professionally. His evening shifts mean this gal has to dust off whatever skills she put away more than a decade ago and figure out how to feed herself and her child something more interesting than sandwiches and boxed mac & cheese. I’ve been spoiled, and it’s been a pretty frightening adjustment for me. My friends and family have even joked that at this point it might be easier for Cory to teach Kit how to cook and let her feed us in the evenings.

I have to prove them wrong, of course. In an effort to ease myself into the whole cooking thing, I’ve gone back to my roots; baking. I just KNOW I can use that oven. If I mix stuff together and stick it in the oven, it will eventually be edible. Right?

CAM00236So, here’s the thing about hamburger and hot dog buns: We mostly think of them as having one job; making meat and cheese portable. Hamburger buns might be used for sandwiches and sloppy joes in addition to hamburgers, but most people don’t think of them outside of that genre of food, and hot dog buns, because of their shape, are even more specialized. Plus, buns are cheap; a dollar or two for a package of 8 buns. So if you buy a package of buns, the chances are that you won’t feel terribly guilty about throwing away the inevitable leftovers. But I’m here to tell you you shouldn’t! Stale hamburger and hot dog buns can be used for all the same things as other stale breads, and in a fit of laziness-inspired ingenuity, I discovered a really yummy one! I call them French Toast Muffins, and they go something like this:

4 stale hot dog or hamburger buns (The cheap, white-bread variety actually works best for this)
4 jumbo eggs (or just whatever eggs you have, but maybe increase to 5 if you use smaller eggs)
1/4 cup milk, or so (we use Vitamin D whole milk, but you could use half & half, cream, or 2%, I doubt it matters much)
Approx. 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Approx. 2 tbsp white or brown sugar
Approx. 1/4 tsp cinnamon, optional
Approx. 2 tbsp butter

*Do NOT preheat the oven!

I was making this up as I went. It’s basically a french toast, only I don’t actually know how to make french toast, only what goes in it. So I sort of mixed up my eggs at the same ratio of eggs to milk as I use for scrambled eggs. It seemed to work, so I don’t question it. Everything else is to taste, really. I prefer my french toast less sweet, especially since you can add sweet after. My daughter likes just a hint of cinnamon. So whatever works for you is good.

If your buns are really stale, you can use them as is. If they aren’t, I recommend drying them out a bit in low heat. Whip the eggs, milk, vanilla extract, sugar and cinnamon together. In an 8-slot brownie / mini-loaf pan, use butter to grease the bottom of each cup, leaving a bit of butter in the bottom to melt while baking. Tear your buns into pieces, putting 1/2 of a bun into each cup of your pan. Divide the egg mixture evenly between the cups. Use a fork or spoon to smoosh the bread pieces down into the egg mixture, making sure your bread is completely covered in egg in a nice, even layer. At this point, turn your oven to 350 degrees. Let your pan sit on the counter while the oven comes up to temp, so the bread can soak up all that yummy sweet egg. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until a fork comes away clean from the middle of a loaf. (Baking time may vary depending on the type of muffin or loaf pan you use.)

Top them as you would french toast, although I thought they were great alone, too! These two were topped with homemade peach syrup. Leftovers should be refrigerated.


Saturday’s Child: The Rag Rug

When I was growing up, I loved to visit my Grandma Betty’s house. In fact, it was more than a house; it was the family homestead and included a century-old farmhouse, out buildings, 72 acres of sage brush and sandstone hills, a creek, fossils, artifacts, and when I was quite young, the remains of a permanent mining camp. Part of my visual context for that home was the ubiquitous rag rugs. They were the type purchased for almost nothing at Pamida, woven of mill-ends from garment manufacturing and probably made mostly of polyester blend shirt scraps left over from the 70s. They were a riot of color, and I’d sit at the kitchen table or on the edge of the bathtub and just look at them; they were so interesting.

They can also be quite beautiful, in addition to being easy to create and inexpensive. In their purest form, they’ll be made out of, well, rags; long scraps of fabric left from worn-out garments and housewares. Simple looms are easy to make and easy to buy. The rugs I remember were random, but if you’re like me and gravitate to certain colors, your palette might be more sophisticated just by virtue of the fact that your rags are better-related. Or then, maybe not. Of course, rag rugs don’t have to be woven. Braided rag rugs that are then sewn into circles and ovals with planned gradients are also a popular country-style choice, and rugs crocheted in single crochet are also very traditional. Bathroom rugs knitted of absorbent cotton jersey from worn-out T-shirts are a popular modern choice.

And best of all, you don’t need to make a rug in order to get that riot of color! I’ve been looking at attractive ways to use up yarn scraps, and came across some really beautiful patterns that are reminiscent of rag rugs, but actually wind up as blankets.

Karen Janine from Mittens and Makings created a simple scrap blanket with double-stranded crochet. It’s beautiful and easy and HUGE, and I think it’s amazing.

The Beekeeper’s Quilt from Tiny Owl Knits uses tiny knitted hexagonal pillow motifs to create a quilted blanket out of sock-weight scraps that is just to die for. A more significant undertaking than the granny-style scrap blanket above, but stunning when finished.

Last, but not least, a sort of cross between a rag rug and a string quilt; an afghan from Ulli Stuttgart made of bias-knitted squares. Granted the website isn’t in English, you CAN click to a PDF that has instructions in both English and German. The finished afghan is beautiful.

So there we have it. Bringing the beauty and thrift of rag rugs back into the home, one scrap at a time! Go forth and save.

Saturdays here at are all about frugal living. Saturday’s child isn’t the only one who works hard for a living, and we all like our dollars to go as far as possible. My favorite way to stretch the dollar is being a cheapskate in my shopping habits. I think everyone should be a cheapskate. The last non-grocery item I bought at regular price was yarn, and I got it with a gift certificate. I just do not buy things unless they’re on sale, and except for intimates, socks, bath towels and bedding (really, I think those are the only four categories) I’d be just as happy to buy used as new. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve bought bedding and towels used, and even socks and underwear, but you have to understand, I buy vintage and I buy for repurposing. Truth be told, I like to know I’m the only person who’s slept on my sheets, but I’m not above using a set of used sheets for the material. Every person will have a different level of comfort when it comes to using used items, but I’m a firm believer in getting over it. I don’t bat an eye at giving gifts of thrift store purchases at Christmas or birthdays, and I buy garments and housewares for myself and my family with regularity. I also occasionally resell items. However, it does take practice to do this well and make it pay.

OK, first, let’s look at the outfit to the right. I think I look pretty nice. The cuts and colors are flattering and not completely out of date. (I’m generally a little bit in and a little bit out, to be honest.) They’re comfortable, and the entire outfit, boots included, cost me about $25. The top is a dolman-sleeved sweater I picked up at an after-Christmas sale at T.J. Maxx (my favorite non-thrift place to shop) for $10. The skirt, vintage 60′s John Meyer of Norwich, wool herringbone tweed in a sort of cherry-tomato red, $1 at Goodwill. The belt, vintage 80′s, $2 at Goodwill. And the boots, $13 on clearance at Target a few seasons ago. Now look, I’m not one to brag about my fashion sense (not even a little bit, in fact I’m not sure I have it) but a quick scroll through the cool-weather sales at Neiman Marcus convinced me that this look was not outside the realm of fashionable, and I did it for $25 instead of $250. And look how skinny it makes me look!

So, it can be done, this tricky business of shopping at thrift stores. But it takes practice and it takes patience. I’ve compiled a list of the top 5 most important things you need to know to be an efficient thrift store shopper.

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