Shoestring Savings -Getting the most gas for the gallon

My friend Janelle is traveling to the coast this week. (Yes, I'm very jealous!) While she was listening to the radio she heard an interview with a man who runs the pipeline in California and he gave some tips on how to get the most gas at the gas pumps. Here are a few of the tips from the interview as relayed by Janelle:

  • Put gas in your car during the coolest part of the day because you get less fumes that way and more actual liquid gas.
  • The nozzles have this kickback mechanism for vapors and while you are filling your tank the vapors kick back into the hose after they come out and you've paid for them. To counteract that, fill on the lowest setting. The slower the gas comes out, the less vapor you will have and the more gas will stay in your tank.
  • Also, (and I've heard this before) you get better gas mileage if you keep your tank above 1/2. Don't wait for it to get on E before you fill it. Gas dissipates at a rate you wouldn't believe and the more air in your tank, the faster it dissipates and you lose gas.
All of these little tricks will help your gas go farther.

Thanks Janelle!

How do you stretch your gasoline dollar?

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Shoestring Parenting - Educational Socks

Recently while I was folding the laundry I looked at a pair of socks with new eyes. Suddenly this pair of brightly colored foot ware wasn't just for keeping my feet warm or showing perky colors through my black mary janes, they were educational. There is a lot that you can teach your children using a pair of socks.
  • Colors
  • Counting by ones and twos
  • Sorting
  • Greater than/less than – Who has the most pairs of socks? Who has the least pairs of socks?
  • Multiplication – if you have 5 pairs of socks how many single socks do you have? 5 x 2 = 10.
  • Fine motor skills as they fold the socks into pairs.
  • Problem solving skills – We only have one of Daddy’s black socks, where do you think the other one is?
  • Writing and reading – take all of the single socks (if your family’s anything like mine you have quite a collection), help your child make a wanted poster for the missing socks and hang it in the laundry room.
  • Art – make sock puppets or stuff them and make caterpillars. Then read The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.
I love educational toys. The bright colors and fun noises and all of the promises of pre-this and pre-that skills just suck me in. The major problem with these toys is that often they are soooooo expensive. You could really go broke buying all of the gizmos that promise to educate your children. But Educational Socks – I can afford those.

Another affordable household learning item is paperclips. My mother, a retired kindergarten teacher, uses Paperclip Math.
What other household item can turn an everyday chore into a teachable moment?

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Shoestring Beauty - Recycling Nylons

Pantyhose and I have a love hate relationship. On one hand, I love to put on a fresh pair with a really sassy set of heals. On the other hand, I can never get through a single wearing without a snag or a run. Then I have to baby them along with hairspray and fingernail polish so that I can wear them, if I'm lucky, maybe two more times - three if my skirt is long enough to cover most of the run. Ultimately the run wins out and I have to throw them away. It seems like such a waste. Every time I throw another pair away I wonder, "What could I do to recycle nylons?" Recently my daughter gave me the answer.
We've all had this problem - You are getting dressed and as you pull on that favorite shirt or little black dress you realize that your deodorant has left big white smudges. You're in a hurry, and if you try to wash them off you end up with big wet spots. So, you pull the smudged clothing off in frustration and end up wearing something else that never makes you as happy as your first outfit.

Solution - Take an old pair of nylons and cut off the legs. Take one leg and stuff most of it into the toe. Then take the other leg and stuff all of it into the toe of the first leg. Tie off the end and you have a Nifty Nylon Deodorant Nixer (or in layman's terms, something that will wipe off the deodorant marks). It really works great! Just rub your nylon ball on the mark and it comes right off. Be a little creative and stuff lighter nylons with something colorful then add some pretty ribbon and you have a lovely and functional gift.
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The Amazing Wonders of Baking Soda

My daughter was telling me that a friend told her (isn't that the way that it always happens?) to mix a little baking soda in with her shampoo for a clarifying effect. We live in an area where there are lots of minerals in the water and they can leave a film on your hair. My daughter decided to give the baking soda a try and was very pleased with the results.
Baking soda is truly an inexpensive household wonder. Every pantry should have a big box on the shelf. We buy the 12 pound bag from Costco. The book, Resourceful and Ingenious Uses of Baking Soda, is an ebook full of great ideas for using Baking Soda. Click on it and discover uses that you never dreamed of.
Here are some of my favorite ways to use baking soda:
  • To clean stubborn stuck on stuff on your pans, make a paste of baking soda and a little dish detergent apply it to the trouble spot and scrub.
  • A baking soda paste really does relieve the pain from a yellow jacket or bee sting.
  • About a cup in bath water is good to soothe itchy chicken pox.
  • I dip my toothbrush in baking soda and gently brush to help whiten my teeth. It seems to be quite effective on coffee stains.
  • We all know what a great deodorizer it is. I sprinkle it on the bottom of my kitchen trash cans and in the dirty clothes hamper. The deodorizer idea that everyone knows best is an open box in the fridge to absorb food odors.
The Arm and Hammer site has more ideas for using baking soda. There is also a fun book out by Vicki Lansky and Martha Campbell called Baking Soda: Over 500 Fabulous, Fun, and Frugal Uses You've Probably Never Thought Of.
Over 500! I really had no idea how amazing baking soda is.
Of course my favorite way to use baking soda is in chocolate chip cookies. I think that it's time for coffee and a cookie.
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Shoestring Meals - Making Chicken Go Further

We buy those big bags of frozen chicken breasts from Costco. Each piece is individually frozen so you can use one breast or many. Since each piece is quite big, one or two stir fried with lots of vegetables and served with rice will feed our family of 5. Another way to stretch chicken is to make chicken strips. One large breast can be cut into about 6 strips - 4 chicken breasts = 24 strips! Since chicken strips are quite rich tasting 3 or 4 strips make a good main dish, even for a hungry teenager. We like to serve them with pan-fried potatoes or French fries. (I know, not the healthiest meal but you don’t have to eat it every day.) I also like to pair it with fruit salad that features citrus fruit since citrus does a good job to cut the richness of the fried strips.
My husband, the real cook of the family, makes delicious chicken strips. His trick for making them crunchy good - after each strip is dipped in batter roll it in crushed saltine crackers and then fry them in the deep fryer.
Click on this link for another good chicken strip recipe – Easy and Fast Chicken Strips.
What’s your favorite chicken recipe?
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Shoestring Parenting - Paperclip math

Here is another great idea from Miss Kay (my mom). Miss Kay is a retired kindergarten teacher. Her approach to learning is always creative and hands on. To see more ideas from Miss Kay check out the Shoestring Parenting - Projects and Ideas.

I love to think of inexpensive things to use around the house to help our children learn. A pack or two of large, plastic- coated, colored paper clips will do just fine. These activities are especially good for 4 and 5 year olds. First lay them out on the table and let your child explore what he might want to do. Try these activities. Sort them by color. Count each set. Use the terms, more, less, and same. Help your child make a chain using a pattern( red, yellow, blue etc.) See if your child can keep the pattern going. Vary the pattern, making it more difficult. See if you can make sets of 5's and tens and practice counting to 100. Now see what ideas you and your child can come up with. Have fun! Don't push. Give them time to develop in their own time. If they are not interested they are probably not ready.

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