Dear Mary: We grow our own potatoes but I find I still want to spend money at the supermarket to buy frozen hash browns and Tater Tots. I hate to do it because we have so many potatoes. But every time I’ve tried to make them myself, they turn to mush. Thanks for any ideas you might have. –Norma, Wisconsin
Dear Norma: I tore through my vast recipe collections and have come up with three recipes for you that use potatoes and other ordinary ingredients, which you’re bound to have on hand.
The Hash Browns are very traditional, Crispy Potatoes make an elegant side dish for just about any dinner entree, and I believe you’ll find the Potatoes Bites to be a more than reasonable facsimile of your favorite “Tater Tots.” All of these recipes are a bit involved, but the results are well worth the effort!
Dear Mary: My husband has two jobs–he is an artist and a salesman. He earns commissions from both jobs so we never know what our income will be. I work part-time and am paid hourly. How can we possibly live on a budget? –Jenn P., Texas
Dear Jenn: The mistake many people who live with an uncertain income (or what I call “mystery means”) make is they spend whatever amount of money they earn as it comes in.
They multiply a good month’s income by 12 and figure that’s about what their annual income should be and then set their lifestyles accordingly. Then they starve during the lean months, allowing all the bills to go past due hoping that a good month will follow soon.
The secret to living on an uncertain income is to determine the very minimum you need to live each month. What dollar figure must your husband’s commissioned jobs produce so that when added to your part-time paychecks will allow you to pay all of your bills? Whatever that number is, let that become his new salary. Continue reading
Pop Quiz: What looks like water, is certainly inexpensive, has a pungent odor but is not toxic (in fact you can drink it if you like); is biodegradable, serves as a useful disinfectant and will repel kitties from your kids’ sandbox? Give up? Read on to learn the answer in today’s first great reader tip.
SCAT CAT! Keep cats out of your kids’ sandbox by pouring distilled white vinegar around the box once each month. Keep in mind that vinegar will kill some types of grass and other vegetation so be careful where you pour it. –Sally, email
CLEAN AND DEODORIZE ICE CHEST/COOLER: Add about 1 inch of water to the bottom of the cooler, drop in 4 Alka Seltzer tablets and allow to sit for an hour. Pour out the dirty water then rinse and dry. All odors will be gone making the cooler clean and ready for its next use. — Claudio, New Mexico Continue reading
Posted on May 14, 2013
I was going to begin today’s column by apologizing for yet another update on how to make homemade laundry detergent. Then it struck me. These aren’t really changes … they’re improvements. Look, if Gain and Tide can produce “New! Improved” versions of their laundry products, so can we.
But first, let’s have a quick overview:
First, and I’m talking about years ago, I gave you a liquid laundry detergent recipe that required grating, cooking, stirring and storing a thick gel-like substance in a 5-gallon bucket. I believe at one point I suggested keeping a baseball bat handy to stir the stuff before each use.
Then came the New! and Improved! powdered version where you could pretty much grate, mix and be done with it. Storage was quite simple and the results were pretty good, provided you could find the right bar soap to grate and you weren’t opposed to dedicating one cheese grater for soap only (the stuff would be nasty in mac ‘n cheese). Continue reading
Recently, I challenged my readers to dump their negative thoughts, which can so easily lead to negative and destructive behaviors. The assignment was simple: Write down ten things for which you are grateful. I even suggested that they send me their lists. My mail boxes were sizzling for days. Weeks later, lists are still trickling in. The responses were all heartwarming, but perhaps none as poignant as the one from Allie, a high school student.
“I am having a really tough time in high school right now and even though most times I have positive thoughts and attitudes sometimes it gets really hard but I usually catch myself and try to reverse the negative thoughts into positive ones. After reading this I wanted to send you my ten good things in life. Continue reading