Penny Pinchers

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“Plastic Storage Container” wars

By Julie Norman
Friday, July 11, 2014

I've stopped buying "Tupperware." What's the point really?  We've got plenty of containers and then other products, like deli meats, salsa, and Greek yogurt provide us with plenty of reusable plastic containers.  Why spend money on new ones?  The problem, though, is that SOMEONE disagrees with me.  I've noticed that every time I save a container to use it mysteriously disappears a few days later.  SOMEONE is throwing my reusable plastic yogurt containers in the recycle bin.  I think I may take things to extremes just to see what happens. I already save bread bags and tortilla bags...but what if I start saving the box the butter comes in? Surely that can come in handy, right?  HA! Maybe after that it'll be the wrapper from a Papa Murphy's pizza...we can just wrap other garlicky stuff in it...

Ok, I'm kidding.  I won't go that far.  But I WILL persist in my efforts to reuse all of those plastic containers that make their way into our house!


A Backpack Penny Pinching update

By Julie Norman
Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Earlier this summer I posted about Backpack Penny Pinching and how I planned to save us a little $$$ by creating some homemade dehydrated meals for our upcoming trip.  Well, now that we're back I thought I'd provide an update.

I made the Mac and Cheese meal with a foil packet of chicken (found over with the canned chicken) and broccoli that I dehydrated.  It turned out great!  Super cheap and easy.  Just boil water, add to freezer bag of mac and cheese and broccoli, let it sit for 8 minutes, then add everything else.

I also made a cous cous dish using an on-sale box of parmesan cous cous.  I added another foil pack of chicken and some leftover dehydrated veggies we'd had from past trips.  This too was super easy and great!  Both of my cheapo meals worked!

More importantly though, were the snacks. LOTS of calories get burned when backpacking.  You're hiking at altitudes over 10,000 ft, with a 30+ lb pack on for several hours.  Snacks are crucial.  We had on the trail snacks like Clif bars and such, but I wanted us to have some in-camp snacks for cocktail hour (yes, that exists on the trail).  I wandered around City Market specifically looking for some tasty, inexpensive snacks.  It just so happened that City Market was having a sale on those little Go-Packs of snack foods!  We never buy that stuff, but for backpacking? YES!  $1 each for a little container of Cheese Nips, Mini Chips Ahoy, Mini Oreos and Ritz Bits! They were a big hit (at least I thought so).

Overall the trip was a success and I think we'll be using our homemade meals on the trail more often than not.


Co-workers give away the best stuff!

By Julie Norman
Monday, June 30, 2014

You never know what you're going to find on the table in our breakroom. Sometimes there's extra veggies form people's gardens, sometimes there are clothes that people have outgrown (or that have gotten too big) or that their kids have outgrown.  Occasionally you might even find a spice rack (that's what I brought in last week!)  Today though I really lucked out!  A co-worker brought in a pair of Jambu sandals that just didn't fit her.  She asked around and lo and behold they fit my normally gigantic Flinstone feet! They're so cute and they were totally free!  Never underestimate the penny pinching ways to save at work!


Working on the Wildflower Bed

By Julie Norman
Friday, June 27, 2014

I have this giant wildflower bed in the's wild.  My main method of dealing with it is to water it and occasionally knock down the weeds in one particular part where nothing else grows.  It's weird.  There's just one. bare. spot.  So in an attempt to make this bare area look better I decided to in search of a giant pot to put there.  I plan to fill it with annuals.  It'll help cover up the bare spot and also add more flowers for the bees. BUT those kinds of pots can be pricey...I didn't want to really spend $30 or $40 or even $100 (I saw some for that) on a pot for the wildflower bed...

SO I went to Lowe's and wandered around.  I think I've got a good plan going foward (which actually might allow me to go check out Big Lots and the Dollar Store), for adding some smaller pots with color here too. Right now though, this is what I found:

It was only $17!!!  Yay for good deals!


Leave the car at home

By Julie Norman
Thursday, June 26, 2014

Even though there are often Letters to the Editor or You Said It entries of drivers criticizing road bikers, or entries from road bikers criticizing drivers, Grand Junction is actually a pretty easy place to bike around, if you know where to go.  I started biking to work a few days a week several years ago and have thoroughly enjoyed it.  Not only do I save on gas and wear and tear on my car, I get some exercise too!

I live in town, so I use side streets like 3rd, 5th and 10th (North to South) and Colorado, Gunnison and Walnut (East to West) to get around.  Most of these streets have bike lanes, and even others, like 7th, do in places. Main Street has a bike lane too. Between these and the Riverfront trail, most people actually have way easier access to town via bike than they think.  Riding from Palisade is easy and riding from Fruita is getting even easier.  You can stay on the Riverfront trail almost the entire way!

Just yesterday I was leaving the Sentinel and not one but TWO trains were on the tracks.  Knowing one of them would have to stop eventually and sit there for a while, I turned around and headed for the Riverfront trail. I knew I could take it all the way to Grand/Hwy 340, go under the bridge and come up on the North(?) side of the road where the pedestrian/bike paths are along side the bridge and overpass.  I took this all the way back into town with NO problems at all! It's so easy to follow the path, hit the "walk/don't walk" buttons at the intersections and just move on my way without worrying about traffic.

In fact, I had such a nice ride going that way that I stopped and took this photo between the bridge over the river and the train overpass:

So the next time you're headed to work, to the store for one or two small items, or even to dinner, think about your options: Can you just ride your bike instead? You might be surprised at how much you like it!

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