Penny Pinchers

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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!


NO Waste! Kale in the freezer

By Julie Norman
Tuesday, June 24, 2014

My friend Richie brought me a whole safeway bag full of kale a few weeks ago.  It's held up amazingly well in the fridge; it's limp, but still useable.  So last night I finally decided it was time to make sure the kale did not get wasted.  I have to sneak it into dishes, so I never use a whole lot at one time, but I definitely wanted to use it all up!

I took the rest of the kale, ripped it off the stems and washed it.  Then I just tossed it all in a big pot with some oil and sauteed it.

Once it had wilted down and cooked a bit, I added some kosher salt and then tossed it into 2 freezer bags.  Small amounts in each, but it'll be perfect for adding to soup or stir fries.

Yay!  No kale will be wasted in our house.  The "no food waste" challenge continues.


Frugal Friday Links: Camping!

By Julie Norman
Friday, June 20, 2014

Tis the season for camping!  Let's face it, you COULD plan a trip to Disney World or a week at an all-inclusive resort in Cancun, but camping is way cheaper and, in the end, probably way less stressful.  This weekend for a friend's birthday, instead of planning a fancy trip somewhere we decided to do what we all love: go camping!  For $18 we can rent a site in Ridgway that is secluded and roomy enough for 2 tents.  We can hike, visit the Wiesbaden vapor caves and enjoy an evening of yummy campfire drinks and snacks without worrying too much about our wallets.  Really isn't the point to spend time with your friends and family without the stress of work?  We're planning to take our lunch on Saturday and snacks for hiking on Sunday, and then enjoy dinner out Saturday and breakfast out Sunday.  Why not?  We just saved a ton of money by choosing to camp in the first place! Now we can splurge on dinner for our friend!

photo from

The best thing about camping is that many campgrounds in Colorado and around the country allow you to make reservations.  You can look at pictures of the sites, see maps of the campground and find the site that works best for you (secluded, close to the bathroom, away from RVs, whatever)

For information on reserving campsites, you can visit or


“Fancy” dinners on the cheap

By Julie Norman
Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The pesto below was just part of a "fancy" seeming meal I made for dinner the other night.  I discovered, while making it, that yet again those meals that seem expensive can actually be made quite cheaply at home.  For the whole rundown, click the image.

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