Get Paid to Give Away Your Used Stuff

There exists in the average American household a rather common malady wherein no-longer-needed clothes, shoes, boots, coats, pants, shirts, toys, games, seasonal decor, sports equipment, electronics, appliances, computers, kitchen utensils, dishes and other useful items seem to reproduce in the dark of night filling cupboards, closets, attics and basements to the brim and beyond.

I call it Stuffitis—a condition for which there is an easy, and surprisingly profitable, treatment. Should your home have contracted this malady, there are two effective ways to treat it: a) Sell the stuff or b) Donate the stuff.

SELL THE STUFF. There are several ways to do this, none of which guarantee success. I hosted my final Garage Sale several years ago, to great disappointment. Having carefully cleaned, priced and displayed every item of which there were many—and being met with way too many offers of, “Would you take five bucks for everything?” at the end of a very long, hot and disappointing day—we hauled all that was left to a donation bin, which was most of it.

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Soups to Soothe the Soul and The Budget

Loyal readers of this column know by now that I love to cook. And I prefer to make things from scratch. But given my crazy work-travel-speak-write schedule, I don’t always have a lot of time to get a meal on the table. That’s the reason I am always on the lookout for quick and easy meals that are also delicious. Because if something tastes good, it’s so much better than going out.

Recently, a friend turned me on to a recipe for “homemade” soup that truly is one of the best soups I have ever tasted. Ever. And yes, I’m going to share it with you now, plus a couple more.

Butternut Squash Soup

You’ll need one container of butternut squash soup from the store (it comes in a quart-size “box” container at my store; also available at Trader Joe’s and others), a bag of frozen butternut squash cubes and pure maple syrup.

Pour the soup into a medium saucepan or soup pot, and add the bag of frozen squash. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low. Allow to cook very gently, uncovered, until the squash is tender (15 minutes or so should do it, but check from time to time as you don’t want this to turn to mush). Stir in 2 tablespoons of maple syrup.

You’re done, Einstein. I call you that because this soup, served with a dollop of sour cream and croutons, will make your friends and family think you’re a genius. Serves: 6

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Ask Me Anything: Lost Wallet Found, College Dough, Dubious Credit

Today’s batch of reader questions reminds me how complicated our lives have become since the introduction of something known as consumer credit. Some days I long for simpler times so long ago when cash was king; when there was no such thing as a billion-dollar consumer credit industry attempting to control our lives.

Dear Mary: A couple months ago, I left my wallet on the bus. I immediately called the bus company and was told the driver had turned it in. When I got it back, I found everything in its place, including my cash. I didn’t think any more of it. Now my credit-card statement is two weeks late. Should I be concerned? Brian

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Simple Solutions for 3 Common Laundry Problems

What do stinky, yellowed and crayon stained laundry items have in common? They’re the reason lots of people write to me. Fortunately, each of these problems has a unique method for reversing that particular laundry problem.

STINKY TOWELS AND CLOTHES

No matter how many times you wash those items, you just cannot get rid of the disgusting sour, mildewy odor. The problem is clear evidence of bacteria that continue to live, despite having been previously washed and dried.

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Letters to the Editor: Coffee Roasting, Beef Jerky, Two-Year-Olds, Gift Guides and More

Today I want to remind you, my dear readers, of just how much joy you bring to my life with your comments and feedback. You give me a daily dose of reality because I use my inbox to measure the “temperature” of how this blog is being received.

Now and then I get a comment, and I reluctantly tell you this, that’s just not fit to print. Others make me smile, and even cry from time to time. But all are joyfully received, regardless the content. That’s because they let me know that at least one someone out there is reading what I write!

Comments to How to Get Started Roasting Your Own Coffee Beans

Can one who drinks decaffeinated coffee do this?  If so, how? Lois

Yes! Decaffeinated raw green coffee beans are readily available. I now keep a supply myself so I have freshly roasted coffee for guests who prefer decaf. (My favorite based on guest feedback is this Decaf Columbian, about $30 for 5 pounds). I do find that decaf beans using  the Swiss water process for decaffeinating, roast faster than regular beans, so I watch decaf roasting even more closely. 

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How to Get Started Roasting Your Own Coffee Beans

Clearly, a recent post where I mentioned that my coffee roasting hobby has taken on a new dimension now that I import my green raw cofffee beans from the grower in Costa Rica, piqued the interest of many of coffee lovers.

It all started about 10 years when I had a conversation with Dax Wilson, who’d recently taken up this hobby of home roasting. The motivation? First, quality and taste, but also to cut the high cost of quality coffee by at least half. That was enough to get my attention and all I needed to become equally enthusiastic.

Today I’m going to walk you through the entire process I followed to get started, complete with tips and advice on creating your perfect cup of home roasted coffee.

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Make It Yourself: Beef Jerky, French Salad Dressing, Steak Sauce 

If your family loves beef jerky, French salad dressing and A-1 Steak Sauce as much as mine, you definitely need to learn how to make these grocery items yourself—cheaper and better!

Here’s the deal: If you can make it as good or better than its store-bought version for way less money, why not? Give these recipes a try. I’m going to bet that once you do, you won’t go back.

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Bake Bread, Save Dough: Basics for 5-Minutes-a-Day Bread Bakers

You may recall a column from a few weeks ago on baking bread—specifically, artisan bread in five minutes a day! It’s true. I do. And given the number of messages, comments and questions I received in response to that column, I’m excited to know that so many of my readers want to do that, too!

Rather than address each of your questions individually, I’ve taken the liberty to compile and edit them down to this manageable few:

Q: Can I get started with just the Master Recipe or do I really need the book?

The creators, Jeff and Zoe, have kindly made the Master Recipe plus step-by-step instructions with photos available at their website (click HERE), so the answer is no, you do not need the book to get started. But you’ll want it eventually. Hint: It would make a great Christmas gift.

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