Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Make Money for the Holidays by Taking Surveys

If you want to get some extra cash for the holidays, you can make some money easily by taking paid surveys. A reader asked me to investigate paid surveys which she thought were all scams... but this is not the case. There are real surveys that pay and some will give you up to $5 just for joining them!! I found some legitimate surveys for you to join.

The way these paid surveys work is you join with your email, and then can take surveys which pay different amounts of money per survey -- depending on what company is paying them to collect the data for them. You will get an alert in your email that says you have survey waiting for you. Often you can click a link embedded in the email and go right to the survey. Otherwise, you can log into the particular survey site and locate the available surveys and what they pay. On the day this article was written one company has surveys which pay anywhere from $30 to $.50.

I have tried three locations for a period of a week. I've made around $40, so far which is hardly a ton of money, but is nice extra cash for my holiday fund! People who are in a more common demographic ..ie.. a young parent...  will most likely qualify for more surveys and make more money. But if you just make a dollar a day doing one survey by December 20th you will have $97 dollars saved for the holidays.

I have some friend who takes their surveys while they watch "their shows" on TV, and make that much every month.

If you are interested here are several companies which offer several dollars just for joining to get you started.

This site offers surveys, paid trial offers and emails which ask you to look at an add for money. It pays you $5 just for joining -- the highest of any of these survey sites.

This sites offers as many as ten surveys a day! They offer $2 bonus for joining.

This pays you a $3 Dollar value to join. It also has the lowest amount of cash you need to accrue to get your money.
Survey Round Table

This also pays you a three dollar equivalent to join.

I hope this helps you get a few extra dollars for the holidays!

Lili Pintea-Reed
All Rights Belong to The Author.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Delicious Dandelions!

Never eat any plant you have not have had expertly identified. Please seek out a local expert before foraging any wild plants! Never forage in areas that may have been poisoned or sprayed.

Dandelions are plants brought to the Western Hemisphere by European settlers. They have since gone wild all over both continents. Much hated by lawn lovers dandelions were originally a much valued green  by the original settlers, and soon after by Native peoples also. Packed with vitamins and easy to grow, the dandelion was carried all over the country. Eventually, this wonderful plant fell out of favor with suburban  lawn enthusiasts and is now seen as a intrusive " weed." When I was a kid I helped my Romanian Grandparents harvest dandelions for salads and fried greens. Yum!

Medically it has many vitamins found in green plants. It also has medical uses for the removal of body fluids and is a mild diuretic. So EAT your dandelions!

You can eat all parts of this wonderful plant. Many ethnic  recipes for  "greens" were originally for wild greens like the humble dandelion. The young leaves can be substituted for escarole and endive in green salads. The older tougher and more stronger flavored leaves can be stir fried and added to many ethnic for medleys. The blossoms can be used to make fritters and the famous dandelion wine.

Here are few ideas for you to get started. 

Green Salad:

Use any green salad recipe and substitute finely torn or snipped young dandelion greens for excarole or endive. Easy!

Warm Bean and Wild Green Medley

1 Can of white beans or garbanzos
3 cups of fresh wild greens (can be dandelion or a mixture of wild greens)
One small onion
One clove of garlic

Chop onion and garlic. Saute in oil until soft and translucent. While the onion is cooking, wash and tear the greens. Add to the onion/garlic mixture and cook until wilted. Drain the beans and add at the last minute and heat through. Some chopped tomatoes can be added at last minute. Makes a nice veggie meal with whole grain bread or is a nice side dish for larger meal.

Try and add greens everyday day to your diet to add fiber and healing vitamins.

For more ideas Check out these Frugal Living Books!
Complete Tightwad Gazette
The Complete Tightwad Gazette

Declare Your Financial Independence
Declare Your Financial Independence

Complete Cheapskate
Mary Hunt's Complete Cheapskate

Miserly Moms
Miserly Moms

You Can Afford to Stay Home With your Kids
You can Afford to stay Home With your Kids

Lili Pintea-Reed
All rights belong to the author

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Make Your Own Pasta

Make Your Own Pasta!

People often go on about making your pasta like its rocket science or something, but -- if you can make a pie crust--- pasta is easy! Making your own is cheap, controls ingredients and makes a "filler" into a healthful addition to any meal.

Basic Pasta

1 cup flour for each portion
2 egg, or 4T. water, or 4T silken tofu for each portion

This is an art rather than a science. On a piece of waxed paper (we frugal use recycled cereal box liners) place enough flour for each portion. Make a hollow in the middle, and add the liquid. Mix until the ball forms a firm ball. You may need to add a bit more liquid. The dough should be stiff. If you have time let it rest for a half hour, but if you don't just proceed. Knead for five minutes. Roll out on a floured surface (just add more flour) with rolling pin (a jar if you don't have rolling pin) to 1/8th to 1/16 inch thick. Add more flour to dust it. Cut into noodle strips, or squares if you want to make filled shells.

Meanwhile boil a big pot of salted water with a dab of oil tosed in to keep the noodles from sticking.

Toss the finshed pasta into the pot and cook five minutes. It will rise to the surface when done.

Add sauce --and EAT!!!

Filled Shells

You can make filled raviolis or filled shells by simply adding the ricotta from the Make your own Cheese article. Simply spoon the soft cheese into the middle and fold and seal the edges with a fork for raviolis or fill and pinch the shell top together for filled shells. Heat in sauce to cook the pasta.

Colored or Vegetable Pasta

Pasta comes in colors and is even more healthful. The colors came from the addition of pureed vegetables for 2/3 of the egg. To get certain colors follow below:

red:pureed cooked beets
orange: pureed cooked carrots
red/orange: tomato sauce
green: pureed cooked spinach (or other greens)
yellow: pureed yellow squash

Mix same as above. My kid who would die before he would eat spinach --loves green pasta! This is great way to add extra veggies to your diet!

Potato Pasta

Another veggie filler for some of the eggs is to add mashed potatoes for a large part of the eggs. This makes gnocchi or potato pasta.

Pasta goes well with many ethnic cuisines. The most common are Italian, Thai, and Chinese.

Check out the sites below for more ideas on what to put ON your pasta.

Bella Italian Cooking


Bella Chinese Cooking

Bella Thai Cooking

Make your Own Tofu
Make Your Own Soymilk and Tofu

For more ideas Check out these Frugal Living Books!
Complete Tightwad Gazette
The Complete Tightwad Gazette

Declare Your Financial Independence
Declare Your Financial Independence

Complete Cheapskate
Mary Hunt's Complete Cheapskate

Miserly Moms
Miserly Moms

You Can Afford to Stay Home With your Kids
You can Afford to stay Home With your Kids

Lili Pintea-Reed
All Right belong to the author

Make Your Own Soymilk and Tofu

With so many women rejecting Hormone therapy for Pre-Menopause and Menopause due to the obvious health dangers, many women are turinng to soy products for the phyto-estrogens in them. Also many people seeking to live more frugally have turned to vegetarianism and part vegetarian meals. Lets face it, Meat in large quantities is not just bad for you (sorry Dr. Atkins) but Really Expensive. If you want to lower your food budget cut down on meat.

So one way for the Frugal Cook to add protein to the family diet is to use soy products. If you live in a large urban area its easy enough to buy soymilk and tofu (also called dofu) cheaply on sale at many places as a loss leader. In many rural and suburban environments it might simply be easier and cheaper to make your own. I think making stuff from scratch is lots of fun as you may have gathered from my articles, so here are recipes to make soy milk and tofu in your kitchen. Then I list ways to stretch your budget by adding these cheap high protein products to your regular cooking. Like many traditional foods they are blessedly easy to make.

Soy Milk
3 cups of dry soy beans
3 times their volume in water
A grinding device
Fine straining cloth
A deep pot to boil the soymilk in

Soak the beans over night until soft. Grind them to a pulp. This can be done several ways. Long ago in the 1970's when a friend and I first tried this, we used a mortar, and a potato masher. Lots of fun, good exercise, and lots of work!. The easy way is to grind small batches with twice the volume in hot water in the blender or food processor. Pour the resulting mush into the cloth lined colander. When you have ground them all, let the liquid strain off through the cloth. This liquid is soymik. Give the cloth a good twist and squeeze to get the last of the liquid.

Pour the strained soymilk into a deep pot and bring to a foaming boil several times. The cooking is absolutely necessary. This inactivates an enzyme in the soy that would bind up the proteins (the reason you don't eat soy raw.) Cool. Sweeten to taste if you like.

Don't throw away the strained soy fiber solids. Use in any Zucchini bread/or cake/or muffin recipe to replace the zucchini. Tastes great. The muffins it makes are super.

Korean Recipe Soymilk
I found a different recipe for soymilk that is from Korea. Try both.

1 cup dry soy beans
 3 times their volume in water
A grinding device
Fine straining cloth

Soak beans in water overnight. The next day, put the soaked beans in a stove ready pot and add enough water so that you can bring them to a boil. Bring pot to a boil. Boil for 15 minutes. No longer. Strain off water for watering plants. Let the beans cool and then rub off the skins. Wash skins away with cool water. Grind beans in hot water three times their volume. If your blender is small like mine do it in thirds. Strain off the solids with a cloth. Squeeze to remove all liquid. If the milk seems to thick ad water to taste. Add sweetener and vanilla if desired. This is already cooked, so no boiling is necessary.

Soymilk from above recipe
3 tablespoons of epsom salts
2 tablespoons of nigari (Oriental coagulant)
a half cup of lemon juice
a quarter cup of vinegar
Used butter tub with drain holes punched in bottom.

In separate cup dissolve the Epsom salts or nigari (do I really need to say you don't have to do this to the vinegar or lemon juice?) Add the dissolved coagulant to the soymilk. Mix well. Solids Will start to curdle. When well mixed, let it sit for a few hours. Then re-line your trusty colander with more fine cloth and strain. Place the curds and liquid in the colander. Let drain. You now have soft tofu. To get firmer tofu for frying, you need to press it. Take the mass in the cloth and press overnight between two tipped plates with a weight on it (soup cans work well), or --if you live in a house with cats, dogs, or small children -- put in the butter tub and place weights on it to force out the liquid. The resulting mass will be much more solid. If its hot do all this in the refrigerator.

While all this sounds time consuming you work around the other events of your day and make nice soymilk and tofu.

Or you can get a Soymilk maker. Many places sell them. Two places are listed below.

Yep they sell them too! The cheapest ones I found were listed there.

Also sells soybeans, and authentic oriental coagulant.

1) Substitute Soymilk for regular milk in cooking and drinking. If your family objects, use half soy and half milk. In cooking people hardly ever notice.

2) Substitute Tofu for cream cheese, ricotta, cottage cheese, or part of the cheese in most recipes. Half cheese and half tofu will lower fat in most cheese recipies without compromising flavor.

For More Soy Recipes and Ideas of all sorts (tempa, miso, etc.) Go to:

Ten Tempting Ideas for Tofu

Here are some more Recommended Soy Reading for you.

The Book of Tofu
"The Book" on how to make any sort of Tofu.
The Book of Tofu

Laurel's Kitchen
A wonderful family cookbook with lots of toothsome family type recipes that kids and Husbands love --completely unaware of how healthy they are. Very Subversive!
Laurel's Kitchen Cookbook

For more ideas Check out these Frugal Living Books!
Complete Tightwad Gazette
The Complete Tightwad Gazette

Declare Your Financial Independence
Declare Your Financial Independence

Complete Cheapskate
Mary Hunt's Complete Cheapskate

Miserly Moms
Miserly Moms

You Can Afford to Stay Home With your Kids
You can Afford to stay Home With your Kids

Lili Pintea-Reed
All Rights belong to the author

Make Your Own Cheese

Some of the easiest things you can do in the kitchen is make simple cheeses like yogurt, ricotta, and farm cheese -- both soft and firm. They take no special equipment and if you buy milk when it is on sale as the grocery store loss leader (sold below cost to bring in customers) you can really save money on cheese!


1 and a Half gallon pot
1 gallon whole milk
1/4 cup of vinegar
Fine cotton cloth (well washed old pillow case)

The easiest cheese of all to make is a ricotta. Take one gallon of whole milk and heat to 200 degrees F. If you don't have the thermometer, just wait until the first few bubbles that indicate boiling (212F) is starting. The stir in 1/4 cup of vinegar. Stir briskly to mix and then remove from heat. Cover and let sit 15 minutes or so. A thick curd should have risen from the milk. It will float to the top. Line a colander with a piece of well washed old sheeting or other fine cotton yard goods. Pour the "ricotta in process" into the colander saving the whey --the clearish left over liquid. If the whey is still cloudy return it to the cook pot and add another 1/4 cup of vinegar. Heat to 200 degrees and wait for more curd to form. Let site 15 minute covered and pour this into the colander.

You now have ricotta cheese at half the price! Use in any recipe that calls for ricotta or cottage cheese.

What could be easier!


A slightly harder cheese to make is home made yogurt. You have to add active cultures and wait overnight, but this is still easy!

1 gallon skim milk
Cup of yogurt with ACTIVE CULTURES
several sterilized jars

Sterile mixing spoon and jars by immersing them in boiling water.

Bring milk to 110 degrees F and add the cup of yogurt WITH ACTIVE CULTURES. Please read the label and make sure this is active yogurt. It will say on the label. Mix well with sterilized stirring spoon. Pour into sterilized jars and cap loosely. Hold at 100-110 degrees over night. Stoves with pilot lights hold this temperature. Other people put the jars in a warm water bath removed from heat and cover overnight.

But remember 100-110 Degrees are the magic numbers. Over 110 and the yogurt culture dies. Under this and it "sleeps." By morning you should have nice yogurt for breakfast!


home made yogurt
fine straining cloth

Take the home made yogurt and pour into cloth lined colander. Let the water like stuff (whey) drain out. Now you have a nice soft cheese to use in any recipe that calls for cream cheese --at half the price and half the calories!


Home made ricotta
fine straining cloth

Pour the ricootta into the colander as in recipe above. While still hot pull up the sides of the cloth and wring until the cheese is a firm ball. Press it between two tipped plates to let any further whey drip off. You now have nice feta like cheese for salads, and tacos, etc.

For more cheese ideas see:

Fias Company Farm
Super home cheese making site.

Yogurt Recipes

For more advanced Hobby Cheese making:

For more ideas Check out these Frugal Living Books!
Complete Tightwad Gazette
The Complete Tightwad Gazette

Declare Your Financial Independence
Declare Your Financial Independence

Complete Cheapskate
Mary Hunt's Complete Cheapskate

Miserly Moms
Miserly Moms

You Can Afford to Stay Home With your Kids
You can Afford to stay Home With your Kids

Lili Pintea-Reed
All rights belong to the author

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Earn Money Mystery Shopping

Unlike those scams you see on the Internet there are real mystery shopping companies that pay you to see if various companies employees are doing their jobs. I use these shops when I go to stores I normally shop,  and thus get paid to shop and reimbursed for part of my purchase. You can mystery shop retail stores, banks, gas stations, fast food, fine dining, etc.
The way it works is you go to a store, walk around and generally assess the cleanliness of the unit. You then will have to interact with a sales associate to see if they are aware of a certain product. Every month companies feature certain products and want the employee selling them. Then you have to make a small purchase for which you are reimbursed. So you get the shop pay plus reimbursement. Then you go home and put the report up on the mystery shop online and upload a picture of the receipt. Some shops like banks or car dealerships, don't even require a purchase You just need to get a business card.  
There used to be a lot more of these jobs and they used to pay a lot better in the past. Before the economic down turn almost every national company was mystery shopping their employees.On my best month as a mystery shopper I made over $1500. Then it became obvious the reason for falling national sales wasn't bad employees. Companies cut way back on mystery shopping, but jobs are still there to help supplement your income.And I noticed if you live in urban areas there are still lots of shops. No so here in rural America!
To check and see what jobs are available It is best to go to the Official Mystery Shoppers Providers Association site. This site shows only registered legitimate companies. Most pay monthly are are reputable.
Another site of one of the oldest mystery shopping companies is:

Here's another  couple for you to check out!


Corporate Research

And please, please, please avoid those scam site which say they will pay you to cash a check. These scams are rampant and have nothing to do with legitimate mystery shopping. here is a great article on this:
So give mystery shopping a try to see if it will help you add to your family income.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Beat This Heat!

Luckily for us we live in southern New York state and seldom get days so hot that cooling is a concern. However, at various points we've lived in both Florida and Oklahoma and certainly know about heat. But recently we've have had a serious heat wave through all the northern states too. People need ways to Beat this heat! 

One thing I've learned is that the central principle in managing heat is:


It will rise and rise no matter what you do – as we northerners who have very warm heated ceilings all winter will be happy to tell you.

The second principle of cheap heating is that heat is transmitted by infrared rays of the sun. Just like a heat lamp.

So the fundamentals of cheap cooling involve:
1) Letting heat rise out of the building
2) Blocking infrared solar rays

One can let heat rise in a number of ways. One of the most simple is to let the hot air move up unimpeded to the second floor and then up to an attic space where, a preferably solar powered, attic fan will whisk the hot air out of the house. Ceiling fans can help in this effort if the blades are pitched in the right direction. Most are set to drive warm air down in the winter – not whisk hot air up! So make sure the fan blade is pitched properly, and then guide the air into a higher space and out of the building. If you are an apartment dweller with no attic access, then pull the upper casing of your window down and use a fan to blow air out from the higher level where the hot air will naturally collect. Heat rises –use this to your advantage.

The second part of blocking infrared rays can be as simple as planting deciduous vines and trees to block sunlight on south facing windows. However, obviously it takes time to grow trees and bushes. Apartment dwellers don’t have these options. So one block of the infrared rays of the sunlight is to put those light blocking films on the windows. They can be quite inexpensive and since they adhere with just static pressure you can pull them down to let winter light in. Shade screens can serve a similar purpose and long term are cheaper than a yearly application of light blocking film. In a pinch reflective materials like aluminum foil will reflect light away from the windows. It depends on your circumstances and level of prior preparation. Awnings are nice old fashioned solutions also.

In really hot areas where the options I mentioned are not available to you, simply raising the temperature at which the house is kept by air conditioning will save you money. Seventy-five to eighty degrees is not that uncomfortable for most people and can save people lots of money over the frigid 65 that many people place their summer temperatures to.

We lived in the desert part of western Oklahoma with just a ceiling fan and attic fan and the house never got over 80 degrees F --- even when out side it was 103 degrees F or more!!! We partially opened the attic access, used the ceiling fan to drive the hot air upwards, and then vented it out of the attic with a fan. We did have trumpet vine on the south side of the house which helped with south shade, but otherwise we were completely exposed to the sun on a rocky hillside. So I know these techniques work.
 Fans can be bought cheaply at garage sales and discount stores.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Cicadas are coming!!!


Yes, those noisy bugs are over their 17 year underground stay, and will emerge in the East coast in areas where the ground reaches 64 Degrees F.

Then you will hear the distinctive buzz of the mating calls of lonely male cicadas.


They predict a large hatch this year of literally millions of bugs.

I find this 17 year event really fun to watch and listen too.

If you see cicadas in your area report them to the tracking page at:


Join in the fun of cicada watch!


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Save Money on heating bills with a Heat Catcher

Now that we are well into May you'd think I'd be writing a post about lowering heating bills, but it is still way cold. Some friends who live in the Mid-west say they still have snow on the ground!!! Its been a late Spring for sure.

We have all electric heat (except for the fire places) and have always had to be extra careful about wasting heat. We read about people using solar heat for their homes in warmer areas and decided that we'd adapt some plans we saw at:

With this method we have cut our winter heating costs (we have all electric heat!!!) by over one half. It is very simple to do and very inexpensive for the benefits reaped. And it uses free solar power! We have heat catchers in all our east, south and south-west windows placed in back of existing drapes and blinds.

a roll of heavy duty aluminum foil 
duct tape or packing tape, tacks, string or other means of securing foil to the window frame 
card board strips cut as wide as window frame (optional)
flat black paint 
South facing windows (east and west windows are less effective in their solar gain but OK) 

Take the roll of foil and tear to fit the window leaving a space of two inches at the top and two inches at the bottom open. If your windows are wider than the foil tear several pieces and lap fold together. Paint the more dull side of the foil flat black paint, and let it dry. Fold over a card board strip for ease of handling. Tie wire or string to the top section if desired.

Once the foil is dry, you tape it to the interior window frame -- Black side facing outdoors. Leave a space of an inch at the top and bottom open for the air to circulate. Or you can tie it on to the drapery rod to secure.

Your basic collector is done! You will feel that end of the room heating as the sun shines on the black foil. It will warm this end of the room as long as the sun shines. Cover the window to prevent radiant heat loss at night through the glass with a window quilt or solar shutters to make the system even more effective.

How it Works: 
The collector works by creating sort of a thermosiphon. The cold from the room passes into the bottom of the collector and is heated by exposure to the sunward facing black foil. Remember -- black color attracts heat. Then since hot air rises --- passes out the gap at the top into the room heating it. My husband jokes that the way it helps with heating bills is to heat that top of the room so your paid heat doesn't have to do it. In any case, a circle of moving air is created pulling air if front of the black painted foil and heating it. It rises to the top of the window frame and goes out the gap warming the room.

You can save time by simply cutting a black plastic garbage bag or put a black piece of cloth over the window leaving the gaps at the top or bottom for air flow. This will produce some solar gain and heat in emergency situations, but is not as efficient as metal like black painted aluminum foil. Cover the window to prevent radiant heat loss at night through the glass.

If you want to build an OUTDOOR HEAT BOX check out these sites below: 
Self Sufficiency: 

Cleardome Solar.com
Which sells solar heat boxes, but has lots of great photos. 


INBOX DOLLARS-EARN $5 when you Join!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


BUY AFTER Holidays!

One way to easily save money is to buy after a major holiday. Let's face it --most holidays are just made up to stimulate sales anyway!You can save up to 90 percent at after holidays sales. If you pair these with coupons for holiday merchandise you might get many items free.

When I looked at some local stores yesterday I saw well Easter Candy, Easter cards, Easter Items, and Easter themed clothing all marked down significantly.

I also saw baking products with an Easter them marked down so much that with a coupon they were free.

In our house we have an agreement not to buy for any holiday until after the event passes --and we can get Valentine's Candy at a discount, Christmas and Easter  wrap, candy, cookies, and holiday themed items at serious markdowns. This applies to most other less focused holidays.

So make the change. Save money and buy ahead for next year, or just buy for now more cheaply -- a few days after!!!