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Learn a little shelf control

By on March 8, 2009

carrot truck
photo by omar
The first tip holds true throughout the grocery store. Check not only the back of shelves for freshness but look at upper and lower shelves for better prices, too. And don’t forget to weigh prepackaged produce such as potatoes, lettuce, apples or carrots to get the most product for your money. Packages do vary.

CHOOSING PRODUCE: I spent some time working in the produce department of a large retailer. Stocking taught me how to choose the freshest produce without even looking at it. The easiest way to think of it is the most convenient piece of fruit or vegetable is the oldest. The freshest is the one way in the back, under the stack, or similarly hard to reach. The concept is known as forcing, and it relies on the fact that people are lazy. I bought some cello carrots today, and it worked like a charm in a totally different store. — Fixer, Kentucky

SAVE ON CLOTHES: Every year, my oldest always gets the newer clothes because she grows out of them first. Then her sister inherits her hand-me-downs. When they were younger, it was easier because they didn’t really care what they were wearing to school. Now I find my youngest wanting to fit in with the latest fashion, but I can’t afford to buy an entire new wardrobe for both kids. I found a solution, a way to make my younger daughter feel better. Instead of looking at her clothes as hand-me-downs, we look at them as a start to an entirely new look. I bought some stencils and fabric paint, and we got together and made all the clothes look different. Now she looks forward to being creative, and I think it is great. We spend more time together. Here’s the place we got our ideas from and downloaded free stencil designs: www.simplyspray.com. — Pen32
Note from Sara: You can lengthen pants and refashion them, too.

HOME HAIR GEL: I have a creative friend who showed me how to make hair gel at home.
Here is her recipe:

1 cup water
2 tablespoons whole flaxseeds
a few drops essential oil, for scent
pure aloe-vera gel, if desired

Bring water to a boil. Stir the seeds into the water, and reduce heat. Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly, until a gel-like lotion is formed. Strain through a fine strainer or cheesecloth into a small bottle. Add essential oils, and store in the refrigerator for up to one week. If desired, you can add some pure aloe-vera gel for its moisturizing properties. Fill the bottle with flaxseed gel until the bottle is about three-quarters full and then fill to the top with pure aloe-vera gel.
It’s light enough that it can be put into a spray bottle and be sprayed onto hair. She has super-curly hair and says it is great for keeping her curls from frizzing. She keeps it in her fridge and says that it lasts much longer than a week if kept refrigerated. — Sarah, Illinois
Note from Sara: Results may vary.

MASON JARS: Try replacing your cups and glasses with canning jars. They are less than a buck apiece, are quite large, come with lids so you can bring liquids with you without worry of spilling (or anything else you want to store), and they are already premarked with measurements. I found a pack of 12 for $9 at the local grocery store. — Cheaps8t, e-mail

ADDITIONAL JAR TIP: Classico tomato sauce comes in an Atlas canning jar. If you buy pasta sauce, you can keep the jar, too. — Renee, Washington

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About Sara Noel

Sara Noel owns Castalia Coffee Roasting Company, Follow me on Twitter

One Comment

  1. Kim

    7/22/2009 at 3:12 pm

    Sara,
    This could end up being long, but I hope you will give it some of your time. I enjoy reading your column. I just read about making your own hair gel. While I like to save money, I would like to tell you and maybe your readers a few things about this. I am a hair dresser by the way, but understand not everyone can afford to buy products from us. (I don’t like the prices increasing either), but that said, just because something works for one person, it does not work for everyone, and it does cost money to buy everything to make your own, and if it doesn’t work then you are out money as well. I have 4 different products (gel, mousse) for my clients. Not one things works on them all. They all have different hair types. Professional products are highly concentrated, and should last a lot longer than products bought from a store. If you cannot duplicate a style that a hairdresser had done for you, go back for help, and maybe invest in products that they have used.
    I also have experimented with store bought products. I had a mousse that I liked real well for my hair, and could no longer get it from my supplier. While browsing the hair supply isle of a store one day I found, what I thought was the same product. I was excited. When I used it, it did not work the same.
    All I really have to say about this is buyer/ user beware.

    Onto the next subject.
    You talk a lot about stain removal. Everyone has this problem, I seem to have it a lot! You have talked about using hydrogen peroxide. Here is my formula for this
    1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide, 1 teaspoon ammonia. I use this after trying all of my other products. Sometimes I have to let the stained part soak a while. I have never had color lift off any of my colored clothes, but the stain comes out. I have even had a lot of success with stains on clothes after they have been dryed in the dryer.
    I’m not sure where I saw this formula, because there are a lot of people who write articles about this subject, but I’m sure that I read it in an article somewhere.
    Kim McKenzie from Indiana

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