How to Make High Cost of Ground Beef Easier to Swallow

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says in 2019 the average price of a pound of lean ground beef climbed to a whopping $5.63 per pound. If you and your family are not ready to turn vegetarian—nor are you prepared to pay that much for a pound of quality hamburger—you do have another option: Get creative. Okay, maybe a little sneaky, too.

stretch ground beef to save money

But first, let’s talk turkey. I mean, ground beef. The really lean option of ground beef, 93/7, is not easy to prepare well. That’s because there’s not enough fat in it to turn out juicy, delicious fare. Lean ground beef requires seasoning as well as careful cooking.

Let’s say that you, like I, prefer organic, lean ground beef. Yesterday I paid $5.00 per pound for best quality at my supermarket, on sale. Yikes! But I didn’t really pay that. My effective cost is more like $3.24 per pound. How? Please don’t tell a soul … I stretch it. I take the best quality ground beef and then “extend” it by at least one-third. So whatever the price in the store, I mentally reduce it by 33% to get my effective cost.

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crispy-chicken-thighs

Two Recipes on the Menu Every Week at My House

There are two meals I prepare nearly every week—Crispy Skin Chicken Thighs and Honey Garlic Salmon. These are my go-tos because both are quick and easy—and so delicious they never grow old.

crispy chicken thighs

Crispy Skin Chicken Thighs

This dish is perfect for a hectic mid-week dinner but sophisticated enough for company, too. Even my grandsons, ages 4 and 10, agree. You should see them dive into this chicken. They’d eat it every meal if they had their way. The ingredients are shockingly few. The secret for success and rave reviews from old and young alike is technique. It’s all about the technique! Get this right and you’ll have a new technique to use in other applications.

The secret is cooking chicken thighs skin-side down in a cast-iron skillet (or heavy, non-stick skillet) hot enough and long enough to render out the fat, but without burning. This makes the skin crispy and, according to Eli and Sam, even better than bacon! I do agree (it’s so good), but what I love even more is that skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs are cheap. I buy them in bulk at Costco, where they are fresh, plump, and conveniently packaged in groups of 4.

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ink-stain-leather-removing

How to Remove Ink Stains on Leather

A new leather sofa or handbag—so beautiful. Or perhaps it’s the car you’ve had for a long time—the one with leather upholstery that still looks fantastic because you’ve babied and protected it against spills and stains. Somehow, through the course of life, that beautiful leather gets hit with an ink stain. Oh, the heartbreak!

Ink stains on leather and how to remove them

Here’s what happened to Dana,  who recently wrote:

While working, I placed an ink pen in the back pocket of my jeans. Later, I realized the pen was not there, only locate it in the seat of my car. Apparently it had slipped out of my pocket and wrote on the leather seats—blue ink on tan leather. Not a pretty sight, especially considering I have no kids to blame it on!

Leather can be tricky because there are so many variables. Is the leather finished or unfinished? Is the ink stain fresh or has it been there for a long time? What kind of ink is it—ballpoint, Sharpie®, gel?

Because of the variables, there are a number of remedies, all of which do work to remove ink stains from leather in certain situations. You may have to make multiple attempts until you find one that works for your particular leather and situation.

Go through the steps below until you hit on the one that works for your specific ink-on-leather challenge.

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This is the Easiest Way to Cut High Winter Heating Bills

Until several years ago, I didn’t know something existed called a heated mattress pad. It makes sense I suppose since I’d lived in Southern California for most of my life, where it is mostly warm all year round.

Relocating to Colorado where the seasons are more pronounced, I had a lot to learn about heating a house without going broke. That first winter our heating bills shot to the moon because we were heating the entire house to a comfortable temperature day and night. Trust me—high heating bills can be shocking.

surprised woman gets letter with bad news

Lower the temp

We saw a semi-dramatic reduction in the heating bill when we decided to lower the thermostat to 60 F. at night, then using this Bionaire micathermic space heater in our bedroom. That worked relatively well, but that wasn’t altogether successful. Let’s just say that my husband and I have different internal thermostats. He would be cold while I’d be turning the space heater down a notch or ten.

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boneless skinless chicken breasts prepared and ready to serve with honey garlic sauce

Secrets to No-Fail Tender Juicy Chicken Breasts

They’re convenient and, we’re told, more healthy. But there are few things quite as boring or more difficult to prepare well than boneless skinless chicken breasts.

raw boneless skinless chicken breasts on a plate and ready to prepare

Here’s the problem: Chicken skin helps to keep the chicken moist and the bones add flavor. Remove both and what do you have? The potential for dry, tasteless, tough chicken.

But not to worry. Here are two foolproof methods to prepare boneless skinless chicken breasts (BSCB) so they come out and tender and juicy every time—provided that you follow these instructions exactly.

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upper view of family of three lying on carpet

How to Clean Carpet Even if It’s Old, Stained, and Disgusting

If you hate your carpet because it’s old, stained and bordering on disgusting, I have great news. There are steps you can take that will have you falling in love with it all over again.

upper view of family of three lying on carpet

Years ago when we remodeled our California home, we replaced some of the carpet with hardwood. What a revelation. Now I could see the dirt and dust and, honestly, I couldn’t believe what accumulated in such a short time on those wood floors. Of course, I never saw it on the carpet but I know it was there all along. What a wakeup call it was to see the old carpet removed, rolled up and hauled away.

Here’s what we need to know and never forget: Regardless of the color, brand or style—carpet hides dirt. This is not a good thing.

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How to Persuade Cut Flowers to Last Twice as Long

Whether they come from your garden, the market, or as a gift, you can persuade cut flowers to remain beautiful for at least a week—maybe two, or even longer!—when you are careful to follow a few fabulous flower secrets.

The first thing is to know the enemy. Actually, there are two: 1) bacteria and 2) drought. Defeat both and your flowers will last and last. You will be amazed!

bouquet roses

Start with a clean vase

Scrub it with soap and hot water, rinse well and fill with tap water. This will guarantee a clean, bacteria-free vessel and give those beautiful flowers the best environment possible in which to extend their life.

Disinfect

Add 1/4 teaspoon of liquid chlorine bleach for each quart of water. This will slow down the growth of bacteria and fungus in the water without harming or affecting the flowers. Measure carefully! Trying to eyeball this very weak ratio of 1/4 teaspoon per quart of water could backfire by bleaching all the color from those beautiful flowers.

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How to Completely Neutralize and Eliminate Pet Odors

It is rare, but now and then I hear from a reader who is frustrated using one of my all-time favorite products, Nok-Out. I love Nok-Out (also known as SNiPER) because it eliminates odors; it is harmless for pets and children, not poisonous, fragrance-free, fume-free. Awesome stuff.

The feedback I get is mostly filled with praise and gratitude. However, now and then I hear from someone like Linda, who is facing a tough, smelly situation that because of its location, requires more toil and patience.

Dear Mary: I have been using Nok-Out very successfully for months. It is fantastic, thank you for the recommendation! However, now I have a horrible odor that I cannot get rid of. Cat urine. On a sofa and chair. She sprayed on them. (Did you know that a spayed female will spray under stress? ) I cannot get the odor out. I have soaked the stains thoroughly, more than once. The stench might go away for a short period, or it might smell like a combo of urine and Nok-Out for awhile (a kind of soapy smell in this case). Then the full odor returns. Help! I can’t stand it! Linda

Dear Linda: Oh no, this is bad! The problem is clear—the offending odor (cat urine) soaked into the stuffing of those pieces of furniture. The Nok-Out has to penetrate successfully to reach every area that was infected. If it was a true “spray” is it possible that cat urine went in all directions. Perhaps you need to expand the area of treatment?

I am going to send an SOS to Ted Price at Nok-Out Central asking him to respond with his best shot. I am certain I know why you’re having this problem, but I’m not fully confident of the specific solution for it. Mary

Dear Ted: Can you take a look at Linda’s cat odor problem, which I am including with this message, and then weigh in on how she can use Nok-Out to eliminate this horrible odor, once and for all? Mary

Dear Linda: I feel your pain! But don’t worry, there is a permanent solution to this problem and I’m sure I can help.

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These Hair Products Guarantee No More Bad Hair Days

A past post in which I wailed and whined about my very bad hair day started it. You may recall how I mentioned volumizing, styling techniques, and a great can of hairspray.

That brought an avalanche of desperate queries, suggesting to me that perhaps I’m not the only one dealing with an occasional bad hair day!

Which volumizer? Hairspray? What? Where?!

Not long after, we visited the world of shampoos and conditioners. That stirred up lots more questions and very specific ones as in exactly which products?

So today, I’ve decided to tell. Exactly. Specifically. And trust me when I say that  I’ve tested many—none of which are sponsored, all of which I buy myself.

(From time to time I see these products at stores like Walgreens, King Soopers, Target, Walmart, but never all of them at the same time in the same place—except on Amazon. I am convinced that overall, Amazon does consistently have the best prices.)

Shampoo and conditioner

Currently, I’m using  Tigi Bed Head Moisture Maniac Shampoo and Conditioner and only because I got them on a terrific sale. My hair is dry, I live in a dry climate, my hair is (surprise!) color-treated and both of these Tigi products are very gentle. The bottles I picked up are huge and since I get at least 4 days out of a hairstyle, they will last a very long time.  Read more

Best Drugstore Makeup Products I Truly Love

My frugality philosophy is pretty simple: Scrimp on things that don’t matter to have the money for things that do. Makeup is important to me. I’ll forego other things that aren’t that important to afford quality makeup.

For years, my makeup of choice was M.A.C., sold online; at cosmetics counters in high-end department stores and in exclusive M.A.C. stores, worldwide.

It’s been some time since M.A.C. and I parted company and for one reason only—the ever-increasing cost of the M.A.C. line of cosmetics is enough to give me a heart attack!

It took a while, but with considerable research and many trials (and errors), I replaced each of my M.A.C. items with a drugstore product. My criterion was that the replacement had to be cheaper, but of an equal or better quality. Read more

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