Impossibly Easy Impossible Pies

If you shy away from making homemade pies—savory or sweet—because of the crust (it can be tricky and there’s all that rolling) you are in for a treat. Meet the impossible pie.

Impossible pies are just the best because they’re easy to make and always turn out so well.  Impossible pies are family-friendly, too. Even your pickiest eaters are gong to love them.


What makes these pies seemingly impossible? The crust starts out as a thick liquid that you pour it over the top of the pie. Then somehow in the baking process the crust finds its way to the bottom and turns into a fabulously delicious pie.

All of the recipes that follow call for Master Mix, which is our homemade (cheap) version of Bisquick (somewhat pricey). You’ll find the recipe for Master Mix below.

Reader Discovers Straight Cut at Barber Shop Plus More Great Tips

From barber shops to fine print—and lots between—my EC readers are really smart. I love it when they share their time- and money-saving tips with us. I think you’re going to love today’s great reader tips, too!


STRAIGHT CUT. Every couple of months, when I need only the bottom of my long hair trimmed I’ve discovered that a barber can cut just as straight as a beautician. And the cost? Less than half the salon price. Molly

READ THE FINE PRINT. It sounded good and I was tempted to take the store up on its offer of tremendous sale prices plus nothing down and no payments until next year. But after a closer look at the fine print in the store ad I read, “Buyers using the No Money Down; No Payments for xxx months do not qualify for Sale Prices on furniture.”   When you walk in the door, it’s best to have saved enough to pay cash even at the high-end furniture stores. Money talks and is a great tool to bargain the price down. Judy

SNACKS TO GO. For those who like to take snacks with them (nuts, seeds, trail mix, etc.), first wash out an empty Parmesan cheese container (the type with the twin serving top for shaking or spooning) with soap and water and let dry.  Remove the label so you can see what’s inside and fill with your desired snack.  Depending on the size of the snack, you can use either side to dispense your snack, plus a number of persons can share this dispenser by pouring or shaking the snack without everyone placing their hand inside a bowl. Once the snack has been finished, refill and use again. The 8-ounce container is perfect for travel and general use. Helen

The Antidote for Holiday Dread: Start Early

As much as I love Christmas, I must confess there are some things about the holiday season I dread. I dread the pull of the culture that tries to manipulate me and my family. I dread that heart-pounding feeling that my feet are in the starting blocks and any second I’ll hear the signal to start running as fast as I can to make it to the finish line before midnight on December 24.


It’s easy to let the busy-ness of Christmas get the best of us. We feel obligated to meet the expectations of everyone—kids, friends, relatives, communities, even our employers. It’s enough to strip away the joy leaving guilt, disappointment and anger in its place.

The good news is that you can rise above the over commercialization of Christmas. You can bring back the joy.

START EARLY.  The sooner you start the better the outcome. The sooner you start the less you’ll spend. The sooner you start the less likely you’ll be to create a pile of new debt.

CREATE LIMITS. There’s something to be said for setting limits on how many gifts to give the kids and others. Fewer gifts mean less shopping, less wrapping and of course less spending. You may discover that less is more than enough. 

Of Pet Accidents and Malfunctioning Keurig Machines

Dear Mary: I saw in your column a long while back an article about the carpet scrubber (was it Bissell?) and I poopood it at the time. Now I am ready to cry UNCLE since I discovered to my horror that one of my cats got shut in a bedroom and peed on the carpet. The smell is so bad my eyes are watering. I have Nok-Out (I’m huge fan of that stuff—even though it is a bit pricey it is worth every penny) but I feel a deep cleaning is needed as well. I want to get the carpet cleaning machine you recommend so I don’t waste money on an inferior one. Help! Laurie

stinky woman holding nose

Dear Laurie: My eyes are starting to water just thinking about what you’re dealing with. But not to worry! You are certainly on the right track starting with Nok-Out. It really is the only product I know of that will neutralize and eliminate that pungent odor—provided you follow specific instructions for how to use it (don’t forget to use code DPL at checkout for 10% off). And I agree you need to power clean the carpet.

My Hoover SteamVac really is The Best Thing I Ever Bought. I use it rather unconventionally, which you can read about in the original column. My machine is quite a few years old now, but it works as well as ever. The current model, which is even better, has a “clean surge” feature. I suggest that you make full use of that feature as you undue your poor kittie’s unfortunate accident.

Like Finding Money You Didn’t Know You Had

You know the feeling when reach into the pocket of a coat or pants you haven’t worn for awhile and pull out a $20 bill? What would it feel like if you pulled out hundreds of dollars? And what if you found money like that month after month?

It’s not magic—it can be done. Pin holes in your financial life can turn into massive money-gushers. Patching these holes is the key to improving your income.

The problem is that it’s easy to ignore the tiny cracks. We’re busy—there’s the mortgage or rent, car payment, credit cards, insurance, college savings, carpools, vacation plans, retirement accounts, work benefits; kids, dog, guinea pig. So the little stuff happens without our noticing.

We think:

What’s the harm in picking up dinner from the drive-thru again? Our lives are so busy and we have to eat.

Microwave Popcorn May be Trouble in a Bag

This post is an Everyday Cheapskate favorite pulled from the archives. Enjoy this 2014 column that was a big hit among our readers.

When I first read about the possible dangers of microwave popcorn, I assumed I would read about issues having to do with sodium and trans fats. What I’ve learned is that the real problem may be with the bag.


The bag almost all microwave popcorn varieties come in is lined with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). This chemical, when heated, has been linked to infertility, cancer and other diseases in lab animals. No long term studies have been conducted on humans, but the EPA now lists this substance as “likely to be carcinogenic to humans.”  Holy moly! Likely to be? That’s enough for me to shun the stuff, but that’s not the only reason. Microwave popcorn is relatively expensive!

I’ll show you a cost comparison, but first, let me show you how to make popcorn in the microwave with no PFOA-laden bag, and no tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ), annatto extract or propyl gallate added for flavor, color or longevity (ingredients copied from a bag of the stuff). I’m talking fresh, pristine, fabulous popcorn from start to finish in about 3 minutes.

Even Small Households Can Save Big at Warehouse Clubs

It’s been several years since my husband and I began talking about relocating to another state. At first it was only a dream but soon idle chatter turned to serious talk. That developed into a list of “must-haves”—things a new location would have to offer for us to even consider making the leap.


At the top of the list? Weather. Having lived in Southern California for most of our lives, we knew it would be impossible to beat the weather we’d come to love and pretty much taken for granted. Finding the next-best weather was at the top of our must-haves. Second on the list: Costco. You think I’m kidding? They don’t call me the Queen of Costco for nothing.

I believe that anyone—a household of one or a big houseful—can stretch the money by shopping at a discount warehouse club, like Costco. But only if you are willing to stick to a very strict list of rules, some of which may be unique to your particular situation.

SHOP WITH CASH. Having the complete contents of your checking account, overdraft protection plan and credit-card limit available to you in the form of plastic or a checkbook could easily enable you to pop one of those big-screen TVs into your cart, quite on a whim. Go with cash only and you’ll avoid many temptations.

Solutions for Stains on Shirts and Windows, Too

From time to time I reach into the proverbial EC mailbag and pull out a few of your questions to answer here. My goal is to select questions I believe the answers to which will have a wide appeal. But I can tell you for sure that when the question arrives with a photo showing me the problem, that gets my attention in spades.


Dear Mary: My husband wears white undershirts and no matter what brand or fabric content, they get gray blotches in the wash. Here’s a photo:


I typically use non-chlorine bleach and fabric softener but recently stopped those additions and that didn’t help. I use high efficiency detergent. The washer is set is “whites” and dryer to “cottons.” I changed detergent brands, switched from powder to liquid but still the blotches appear.

I wash my white t-shirts in the same load as his undershirts, and mine come out fine. I am including a photo from this last load of laundry so you can see this problem.

Any suggestions on why these blotches appear, how to remove existing ones, and how to avoid them in the future will be very much appreciated! Mona