Daily Dose of Thrifty

How to Cook Perfect Corn on the Cob in a Cooler

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by Alex on August 18, 2014

how-to-cook-perfect-corn-on-the-cob-in-a-cooler

Cooking corn on the cob in a cooler? Weird, right?!?  Well, it is actually awesome because it cooks perfectly without hardly any effort!

We recently had a big gathering with many friends and corn on the cob is sold everywhere around here with all of our local farmers and farmer’s markets.

Well, it is a lot of work to cook up tons of corn on the cob on the stove.  A few pieces work out well, but a lot is a lot of heat and back breaking, time consuming cooking!

Well, one of our friends had this idea that she had seen some where about cooking corn on the cob in a cooler.

So we put it to the test!

There was 18 full cobs or 36 half cobs in a cooler at once to be cooked.

How To Cook Perfect Corn on the Cob in a Cooler

Boil about 10-14 quarts of water on the stovetop (varies based on cooler size and amount of corn).

While the water is coming to a boil, shuck the corn and place in the cooler.  We like our’s split in half for ease in eating and smaller portions for littles.

Once the water is boiling, pour it over the corn in the cooler until the corn is fully covered.

Then close the lid and don’t open it for 30 minutes as it “cooks” in the cooler.

After 30 minutes, open it and check it to see if the center of the cob is soft and can be pierced by the cob holders or forks.  This means it is done!

If it isn’t quite done, just close the lid for a bit more time.

30 minutes was perfect for us. The corn was not over done at all, but rather just barely complete and was the crisp perfect taste that makes corn on the cob so great!

cornincoolercooking

Party Guests Grabbing The Perfect Grub

We just let our party guests use tongs and the cob holders to grab their corn.  We had a stick of butter on a butter dish with flavored salts of all kinds to “dress-it.”

It was a perfect corn party solution and a great way to feed a large crowd and it was really easy to prepare this much food! It can easily be transported too (which is what this cooler did!) from it’s original destination to the party!  The water was just poured right before leaving and perfect upon arrival!

So no matter how to plan to serve it, this might be a great solution!

What do you think of this idea? 

See more Recipes in our Recipe Art Gallery

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Alex & Cassie
 

How To Get Free and Cheap Haircuts All Year: The Secrets We’ve Used for Years

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by Cassie on August 8, 2014

how-to-get-free-and-cheap-haircuts-all-year

You might have noticed how expensive haircuts can be this day and age.  Well, if you are a family of 7 like us, this is a HUGE expense – at least it could be….

But it can also be a low expense.  When we shared our budget, we shared how we only set aside $10 a month for haircuts.

This is because, I cut the boy’s and daddy’s hair at home, and I cut the girls bangs at home.  I do get nervous about doing an actual trim on my girls as they have such gorgeous long hair.  So how I and our three girls get cuts is from the local beauty college.  We set aside $10 a month, because we go in about every 3 months to get a trim.  This gives us $30, which is more than enough for a cut at the beauty college and tips for our student beauticians.  Sometimes we have a little extra for a color or highlight. In the end, we figure that we average a 70% savings at the beauty college over a regular salon, not to mention more than 70% savings compared to high end salons.

We have also found that the beauty colleges in our area, use high end products and have a high end experience.  Yes, we know that they are students and that you sign a waiver and something could go wrong, but I have personally been going to the beauty college for 11 years (about the time we started our $100K debt payoff as salon services were too astronomical).  In that time, I have never had a bad experience, or a cut or service go badly. Our oldest daughter is 10, and I started taking her when she was a few years old and then added the other two thrifty princesses later.  All four of us go and have a good experience.  But, there is a risk that your cut/style/color, etc. can go badly and hair is unforgiving.  But it is a risk I am willing to take to save 70% average!  You can see our before and after results HERE as well as more details on how this can save you loads of money.

Now when it comes to cutting hair at home, I have no previous experience with cutting hair.  But I bought a simple kit from Amazon and these are very user friendly, even for the unexperienced.  It didn’t take me long to get the hang of it for giving the boys a cut.  In fact, I have been cutting Alex and our sons’ hair for over 5 years now! I use to cut all one length, but now I use two or three different levels on the boys and three levels on Alex for a more professional looking cut!

The great thing is that in our day and age, you can get information at your finger tips.  The first several times, use your computer, tablet or smart phone and watch some YouTube videos on how to cut boy’s or men’s hair.  You can even play it along side while you are cutting for the first few times while you get the hang of it!

Here’s a quick video showing how to cut men/boys hair in 5 steps:

Buying a kit is nearly the cost of a salon cut one time! So basically, in lieu of a cut this month, get a kit and get cutting at home! We recommend this very affordable kit from Wahl that is also user friendly for the at home novice!

wahl-haircutting-kit1

Wahl haircutting kit for men and boys that is very user friendly, even for novices.  You can consistently get this for under $20 HERE

Like I said, I also cut our girl’s bangs.  This is a bit harder compared to cutting boys hair.  It requires more precision and skill.  But once you do it a few times, it will become easy too! My girls’ bangs have to be cut about every 2 weeks before they start getting in their eyes.  Just a bang trim at a place like Great Clips ( a budget salon) cost $5 in our area – this alone would be $30 a month!  So again, pulling up YouTube and cutting bangs at home can be a huge savings!

Here’s a GREAT video on how to cut bangs!

By the way, the scissors included in the above kit are great for cutting bangs too! So it is your multipurpose kit!

So for cheap cuts, consider cutting hair at home, especially for the boys, and then using a beauty college for the rest and potentially save hundreds per year! 

Have you cut hair at home and do you have any tips for others?

See more Frugal Living Tips and Articles HERE

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Alex & Cassie
 

Best Things To Buy Used: Get the Most Bang and Value For Your Buck On These Used Items

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by Cassie on August 6, 2014

best-items-to-buy-used

Best Things To Buy Used

Are you looking to buy some goodies without blowing the budget?  Don’t feel like you are alone in your thriftiness.  Nearly everyone is tightening their belts when it comes to consumer spending. One way you can save some cash and not miss a beat is by buying things used. Not everything  out there should be purchased second hand. Knowing the things to target used can save you a ton of cash, though. Some things are just as good or better used. Don’t squander your hard-earned money on over-priced new products.

Here are a few ideas of items that are fabulous bargains when bought used.

1. Get More Books for Less Money

Some folks can’t go a day without reading a good book. That is a great habit to have but it can be an expensive one. Get more books for less by purchasing them used. Online websites offer books for pennies (plus shipping). Thrift stores and yard sales are good venues for the used book collector too. These days, it is almost unheard of to walk into a new book store and buy something that is not used. That is one reason the new bookstores are struggling.

2. Clothing for the Kiddos

Little ones grow fast. In fact, they grow so fast that spending a ton of money on their clothing in department stores is just silly. Commit to buying at least their play clothes used. These days, you can get the top of the line brands at thrift stores, trading posts, consignment shops and flea markets. Many times, the clothes will not even have the tags removed. Why pay top dollar when you don’t have to? This idea is especially helpful if families don’t have multiple kids that can share hand me downs.

3. Get In Shape for Cheaper

Exercise machines can cost a pretty penny but once they leave the showroom, they depreciate quickly. People looking for a new treadmill, bicycle or elliptical machine should start the search by perusing want ads and local used sporting goods stores. You will find unbelievable deals out there. Often, you will find someone to give it to you for hauling it off. The latest and greatest changes extremely fast in this industry.

4. Save On Appliances

A broken down dryer or washing machine can make life extremely difficult. Instead of splurging on showroom new appliances, consider a used item. The classifieds and local “penny saver” newspapers have specific sections just for used appliances. Consumers can shop by brand, price or location.

5. Drive without Sticker Shock

Buying used cars has always been a top shelf way to save cash. Buying used means no more worrying over a car payment. The trick is to have a trusted mechanic look the car over well before buying it. This will mitigate the chances that it will end up being a lemon.  There are plenty of good used cars out there. Take your time and find your best deal. Never pay what is asked and be prepared to put back some of that saved cash for repairs down the road. You will still come out cheaper than buying new most of the time.

6. Don’t Blow the Budget on DVDs or Movies

Want to build the family’s DVD collection? That’s a great idea that promises to provide plenty of entertainment for years to come. Why pay extra for them? Instead of spending big bucks on the latest movies, head out and find them used. You can find them in countless places including thrift stores, flea markets, yard sales, classifieds, online auction sites and even Craigslist. You should never pay full price for movies.

What are other items that you would recommend buying used to save money? 

See more Frugal Living Tips and Articles HERE

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Alex & Cassie
 

4 Thrifty Steps to Landscape your Home For Better Curb Appeal (Plus 3 Really Bad Ideas)

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by Cassie on August 1, 2014

4-thrifty-tips-to-landscape-your-home-for-better-curb-appeal

Here’s 4 Thrifty Steps to Landscape Your Home For Better Curb Appeal and to Improve the Value 

If you talk to a real estate agent about what sells homes the quickest, the first thing you will hear from them is curb appeal. Great curb appeal gets the best price and also will bring in the most looks. An often overlooked aspect of curb appeal is an eye-catching landscape. A fantastic yard can do more to sell a home than almost anything. It is the first thing a prospective buyer notices when they ride by. Fortunately, it does not have to be expensive when you follow some thrifty tips.

Here are some inexpensive fixes and projects for your yard that will increase the value of your home:

1. Start with the Basics

A decent looking lawn is a must when it comes to curb appeal. You don’t need perfect sod to sell your house, but you don’t want the lawn to be an eyesore either. Developing a good lawn from grass seed is not easy, but it is a lot less expensive than sod. Start a first seeding in the fall and then seed it again in the spring.  If you do the lawn yourself, you will save a virtual fortune.

If you are having trouble with the lawn, get free expert advice from your local home improvement store or nursery. Most people that work with lawns are happy to share advice and tips for people that want to do it themselves.

2. Look for Items to Repurpose

There are countless items that can be recycled or repurposed to improve your landscaping. Old bricks from a building that is being demolished can make a wonderful edging for flower beds. An old broken down wheelbarrow can be repurposed into wonderful mid yard planter. A quick search online will reveal countless ideas in this area of landscaping.

3. Buy Perennials

When you populate the flower beds, make sure that you are buying plants that are appropriate for the climate. Also make certain that they will come back year after year. While you may be hoping to only see them for a short time, your home selling experience may end up taking longer than you expected. The last thing you will want to do is buy new flowers year after year.

End of season sales afford you excellent opportunities to accumulate beautiful perennial flowers and plants at ridiculously low prices. These sales start long before the actual end of the growing season.

4. Stay on Top of It

No matter how nice the landscaping is to start with, if you have dead flower blossoms or weeds peeking through the mulch, everything you’ve done is wasted. Do the labor yourself and keep up with the weeding, mowing and trimming.  That alone will save you a great deal of money over time.

These 3 things should not be done as you won’t get the bang for your buck! 

Some landscaping expenses are not right for the thrifty person trying to improve his curb appeal and sell a house quickly. Skip the following options to save yourself some time and aggravation and put your efforts into the things above instead:

1. Adding Trees –Trees are beautiful and certainly have their place, but a significant portion of potential buyers could view them as a detriment. They often require maintenance and when they get large enough they can send roots into the sewer lines. Trees also can present problems with falling limbs. stick with smaller shrubs and other landscaping that will be less maintenance and will not block the view of the home.

2. Intricate Landscape Designs -Although it is possible to create a wildlife wonderland in your backyard, some potential buyers may not appreciate your vision. Intricate landscape designs can look very much like an overgrown mess to some. These projects are usually quite costly and could end up costing you are a home sale in the end. Keep it nice and basic and focus your energies on simplicity and cleanliness.

3. Fancy Paint Jobs – Painting is a good idea if the home actually needs it. What is not a good idea is choosing complicated painting schemes and wild colors. Never alienate a portion of your buying audience via style. While you might have the latest and greatest in home interior, the bottom line is that you are trying to sell a home. The widest appeal will go with the most basic colors.

What tips do you have to improve the value of your home on a no or low budget? 

See more Frugal Living Tips and Articles HERE

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Alex & Cassie
 

How to Clean a Stainless Steel Sink and Make it Shine: Simple 3-Step Solution with Ingredients Found Around Your Home

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by Cassie on July 30, 2014

Are you ready to combat the chrome and get geared up to defeat the grungy stainless steel sink? Well, we want to share with your our 3-step process on  how to clean a stainless steel sink and the best part is, there are no expensive cleaners – only simple ingredients found at home already!

awesome-3-step-solution-to-deep-clean-your-stainless-steel-sink

I love this method as you walk away with it looking like a brand new sink.  Mine is 10+ years old, has plenty of scratches and dings. I can’t say that I treat my sink nicely, as I don’t.  I work it hard, things get thrown in, things get left sitting in… etc. It is a well used kitchen appendage! So it is always a joy to see how she shines and the smile on her face after this great cleaning – it’s a day at the spa for her. :)

So let’s get this party started and get our sinks clean with a few minutes of work and a few ingredients.  Think of this as like a car wash – the supreme wash with the cleaning, buffing and spot-free rinse, and the waxing!

Well, that’s what we are going to do.

Step 1 for Stainless Steel Sink Cleaning

supplies needed for step 1 of stainless steel sink cleaning

Supplies:

  • Vinegar
  • Baking Soda
  • Dish soap
  • Scrubbing tools like toothbrush, scrubby pads/sponges and steel wool

How to clean stainless steel sink step #1

  • Plug the sink(s)
  • Then add about a 1/2 inch of water
  • Sprinkle baking soda all around
  • Squirt some dish soap in the sink all around

prepping big stainless steel sink for cleaning

Big sink with this solution

prepping stainless steel sink for natural cleaning with homemade mix

Small side sink with the solution

  • Then pour distilled white vinegar into the sinks and let the solution “bubble up.”

stainless steel sink cleaning big sink foaming with homemade cleaner

Bubble Fest! 

stainless steel sink cleaning with homemade cleaner foaming up

  • Then let this sit for a minute or two.
  • Go through and scrub away with your scrubby pads and steel wool. When using steel wool, gently scrub and it will also help buff away some superficial scratches (but do this carefully as you can create other scratches :))
  • This is also the time I use a toothbrush to get the crevices by dipping the toothbrush in the solution and scrubbing the outside parts of the sink.

using toothbrush on stainless steel sink for cleaning crevices with homemade cleaner

  • Then when you are satisfied, pull the plug to drain and rinse the residue away.

stainless steel sink cleaning dirty water after scrubbing

The dirty water left from scrubbing the small side of my sink – this is evidence it works well :) 

Here’s the results after step #1 of stainless steel sink cleaning.  My camera does not do this justice.  In person, the difference already is amazing!

stainless steel sink cleaning after step 1

After Step #1 of 3-Step Stainless Steel Cleaning – already a big difference! 

stainless steel sink small after cleaning step 1

Step 2 of Stainless Steel Sink Cleaning

This is what you might consider your spot removal and spot-free rinse step.

supplies step2 for stainless steel sink cleaning

Supplies:

  • Cream of Tartar (buffer and scratch reducer)
  • 3% Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Rubbing Alcohol (optional)

How to clean stainless steel sink step #2

  • Sprinkle the cream of tartar over the sink.  This will help to buff and smooth out small scratches.
  • Then spray with the Hydrogen Peroxide – when you turn on the water after buffing, then this will create a “spot-free rinse”
  • Simply take your scrubby pad and “buff” the sink by working in a circular motion.

step2scrub-sm

  • Then turn on the water and rinse away. Feel free to spray a bit more hydrogen peroxide if you need to!
  • For this step, if you have rust or other spots, you may need to go a step further in removing the rust.

how to remove rust from stainless steel sink

  • This is best done with straight rubbing alcohol on a rag or scrubby pad.  Just pour a bit of it on and scrub away the rust/tough stains BTW – this is a before all of the steps picture.  I often find that the rust will fade after completing step #1 and #2, so you couldn’t see it in the camera, so I am showing rust from first picture so you can actually see it.  However, even after the first 2 steps, there is still a bit of rust visible in real life – so this is when you might need to pull out that alcohol!

Step 3 of Stainless Steel Sink Cleaning

This is what you might consider your shammy shine/waxing when you wash your car! Well, we want that stainless steel to shine as well! This also gives your sink a bit of nourishment.

Supplies:

  • Olive oil or baby oil
  • A rag

To finish up, I will use a towel to dry it up and then give it a nourishing shine with oil! Olive oil or baby oil is best.  Simply pour oil on a rag and wipe down the sink.

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Then your sink will shine and be happy and you will be too!

full-sink-before-and-after

Here’s the before and after next to each other so you can see the awesome difference.  Again, camera’s (and my poor photography skills) do not give this justice, but it is beautiful instead of a dull stainless – it’s shining! 

*One final note, you may have noticed my sink, an extra big sink with a small sink instead of it being divided in half. Let me just say I HATE this sink design. It looks like it would be quite cool and functional – but the truth is…. the small sink is useless! You can’t wash dishes and rinse reasonably without water going everywhere, it is too small for holding strainers and cleaning food (which is why I get a lot of buildup on the edges as seen in the toothbrush picture – the water always leaks out over the sides!), water not only spills over the counter tops, but onto the floor and has been a real pain.  If you have a choice, I would recommend not going with a sink like this. When I change one day – I will steer clear of this useless design.

See more specific Cleaning Tips HERE

See our Cleaning Pinterest Board HERE 

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Alex & Cassie