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Archive for January, 2011

Save past-their-prime bananas to make banana milkshakes

24 Jan

Bananas and banana milkshakeI love bananas, and I hate wasting them. Overripe bananas turn soft and mushy inside as the skin blackens. However, that doesn’t make them useless. I have an old trick passed on from my father to turn mushy bananas into a delicious, healthy shake. If you have milk and vanilla extract, you’ll never need to throw away a banana again.

The key is advance preparation. When you have bananas that are mostly black, peel them and freeze them in a plastic bag. Once they’re frozen, all you need is milk and vanilla to make a milkshake whenever you want. Read the rest of this entry »

 

“Improve” and personalize your new calendar

18 Jan

Improving a Calendar - cover

It’s the start of a new year, so chances are you have put up a new calendar somewhere in your home that has a different picture for each month. Cheapskates like me may have noticed that classy-looking calendars often cost $12 or more, which can translate to $1 or more per page. Sure, there are calendars at Dollar Tree or Target that are as cheap as a buck, but let’s be fair: these are awful, ugly, and cheaply-made. Inexpensive calendars usually aim for the lamentably narrow range between “landscapes” and “cute animals” (leading also to the obvious combination of “animals in landscapes”). They tell you the days of the month, of course, but they don’t make any statement or add much to the room.

Here’s my suggestion: Buy a cheap calendar and a pack of markers and doodle your way through the pages until you’ve produced something entertaining (no art skills required).  I’ve “improved” a calendar as a Christmas gift for my brother two years running now. These make hilarious gifts for anyone who shares your sense of humor. I’ve included a few months from this year’s evil calendar below. Read the rest of this entry »

 
 

Better living through vinegar

13 Jan

Fluffy towelsThree ways to improve your morning routine for under $1

I think modern America is entirely too clean. Perhaps we should blame a lifetime of television advertisements for BRAND-NEW, LIFE-SAVING, home cleaning products that only a neglectful monster would try to survive without. I’m all for labor-saving bathroom cleaners and so forth, but please remember that using antibacterial treatments on our hands and countertops as though preparing for surgery does nothing but breed resistant bacteria and line the pockets of cleaning-product vendors. Moreover, there are often simpler, less-expensive alternatives to the myriad brightly-colored bottles found in the cleaning aisle.

Vinegar is one such miracle product — a cheap, effective, non-toxic cleaning agent with has no lingering effects (true, it has a distinctive smell, but that disappears quickly once the vinegar is wiped up or allowed to evaporate). I’ll skip the hippie justification for the moment and put it simply: You can take better showers, use softer towels, and drink tastier coffee by tomorrow with under a dollar’s worth of vinegar. Find me another cleaning product that can improve your entire morning routine so cheaply! If that isn’t enticing, you must live in a different world than I do or never have to get up and get ready for work. You are free to stop reading, and I am jealous of your life. Read the rest of this entry »

 

Chalkboard drawing: “Sleep or Socialize?”

08 Jan

Sleep or SocializeAt the end of the week, it’s hard to decide between spending time with friends and getting some much-needed rest. The result: perpetual dreams of greener pastures on the road not taken.

 
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A lifetime supply of vanilla extract

02 Jan

Vanilla extract finished bottlesReal vanilla extract usually comes in small bottles at surprisingly hefty prices. I assume the scheming vanilla barons of the world can’t trust us with too much of their delicious extract at one time. I use vanilla extract casually in lots of things (in sodas, ciders, and smoothies, just for starters) and thought it would be a good exercise to make my own. It turns out that you can make a self-replenishing bottle of vanilla extract with just vodka, vanilla beans, and patience.

Vanilla beans may seem exotic, but the magic of the internet puts them right at your fingertips. A quick search finds many online vendors, including Amazon. Vanilla beans can be fairly inexpensive in bulk (under a dollar each), so I bought a large bunch and made a massive batch of vanilla extract for holiday gifts (I didn’t want to post about it before and give away any surprises). Along the way, I’ve ended up with plenty of vanilla extract for my own evil purposes. Read the rest of this entry »