I don’t know about you but I love to read and I have quite a collection of books. Recently I decided that I really didn’t need to have so many and I should take the time to go through my bookshelves and weed out those books that we no longer want. However, before I just make a large pile to donate to the library, I check to see if any of the books are worth anything.de-cluttering, selling books

The first place I check is Amazon.com. It is quite easy to re-sell books on Amazon. You have to have a seller’s account which just means setting up an account, which is then linked to your bank account, so that when you sell a book Amazon can deposit your money directly into your bank account. They take a small percentage but also give you a shipping credit. You can also buy your postage directly from Amazon. Every two weeks they deposit a check directly into your account for the books you have sold.  You can list the books in your sellers account, sometimes you can even sell the books directly to Amazon, they will tell you what they will pay you and even let you download the postage for free to ship the book to them. Usually this service is just for textbooks.

Another option for selling books online is through MyBookBuyer.com. I believe this site started out with buying textbooks but you can now sell any books to them. It is very easy, you list your books by the ISBN and immediately they tell you what they will pay you for the book. Once you get your quote you package up your books and ship them for free. They will pay you within three days of receiving the books either by a direct deposit into a PayPal account or they will mail you a check. It took me less than a half an hour to go through my pile of books, find out which ones were worth anything and within a week I had a check in the mail for almost $30. Not bad for a half an hours worth of work.

If some of the books you have are more valuable you can also try selling them on eBay. I have found that it is well worth my time to check these web sites to find out who will give me the most money. I’ve sometimes sold books on one web site for quite a bit of money while on another web site they are not worth much. It surprises me that folks don’t do more Internet searching.

Perhaps you have books you have read and aren’t going to read them again. Did you know you can exchange them for new reading material? PaperBackSwap.com is such a site, this web site allows you to swap, trade and exchange books for free. You just list the books you’d like to swap with other members. You do have to pay for the postage for the books that are requested from you but in exchange you receive a credit. Each credit is worth a book, books you request are mailed to you for free. Our nearest library is a twenty-minute drive from my house. This is a wonderful way for me to have a steady supply of reading material. Just for posting your first 10 books you will receive two book credits. You can use those two credits to request your two books right away. You use the Search page, and browse the search PaperBackSwap Library by title, author or genre. When you find a book you want, just click the “Order This Book” button. The books you receive are free and yours to keep. When another member requests one of your books an email comes directly into your inbox from PaperBackSwap. You then accept the request and mail the book. It is very easy to print out your wrapper, wrap the book and add postage. Then just pop the book in the mail. Postage is by media mail and is usually only $2-$3.00. When the member gets your book you get a credit. I have been using this website for over a year and it has worked so well. You can even add books to a wish list and when they become available you are notified.

Your local library is also a wonderful place to donate used books; usually they have book sales where they will sell your books to raise money for the library. So take some time and go through your bookshelves, you may be able to make some money or exchange the books for new reading material.clutter, selling books, prudent living

 
Linked to Frugal Tip Tuesday.

This chowder recipe has been enjoyed for years. Today was a cloudy day and I decided it was a perfect day to make a batch. You don’t need to use heavy cream when making the chowder I often use milk or fat free half and half. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

½ cup diced bacon
2 Tbsp butter
¾ cup chopped onionsoup  ingredients, prudent living
¾ cup chopped celerycelery, homemade soup, chowder
1 quart chicken stock
2 cups diced potatoessoup ingredients, potatoes
3-10 oz packages of frozen corn
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté bacon in butter until crisp and browned.

bacon, homemade soup

Saute bacon in butter.

Add onion and celery; cook until vegetables are crisp tender.

celery, bacon, onions, soup ingredients

Add celery and onions to bacon

Meanwhile, measure stock in large pot, add potatoes and cook until just tender.

Puree 2 packages of corn in the blender, using a little of the hot stock while blending. Add blended corn and whole kernels, sautéed vegetables and cream to soup pot. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Heat to serving temperature. Enjoy!

chowder

Half finished bowl of chowder.

I love my morning cup of coffee. I have been keeping my extra coffee beans in the freezer. Lately I began to wonder it this was the best way to store coffee. Is it possible to store coffee long-term?storing coffee, coffee beans, prudent living

The enemies of roasted coffee are moisture, air, light and heat. Storing your coffee away from them will keep it fresher longer. An airtight container stored in a cool, dark place is the best environment for your coffee. Once coffee’s original packaging is opened, coffee loses its freshness quickly. The best containers to store coffee are ceramic or non-reactive metal containers with airtight gaskets. Coffee can be stored fresh in clear, glass canisters or clear plastic ware only if the canisters are kept in a cool, dark place. If you are planning to store your coffee on your counter use an opaque, airtight container.

Coffee is porous which is a good thing if you are a fan of flavored coffees. Coffee beans absorb the coffee flavoring syrups and oils used to make flavored coffee. However this means that coffee can also absorb other flavors such as seafood or the moisture your freezer produces. This is why we don’t buy our coffee from the freezer section at the grocery store! Does this mean you can’t store coffee in your freezer? No, if you found a great price on bulk coffee and it is more than you will use in a two-week period than the freezer can be an acceptable place to store your coffee. However you want to keep it in the freezer until ready to use and then take it out and use it. Don’t keep putting it in and taking it out. The change in temperature is not good for your coffee. If you’ve purchased a large quantity of coffee that you will not use immediately, small portions, wrapped in airtight bags, can be stored for up to a month in the freezer.

whole coffee beans, prudent living, prudent pantry

whole coffee beans

 

Never store your coffee in the refrigerator; it is the worst place to put coffee.

Buy whole beans and keep them whole as long as possible. Grinding the coffee breaks up the beans, their oils are exposed to air and the coffee goes stale a lot faster, no matter how you store it. For the best tasting coffee, buy your beans whole and store them in a sealed container in a dark place. Grind right before serving.

What about vacuum sealed coffee? Vacuum-sealed coffee does not equal fresh coffee. When coffee is roasted, it releases carbon dioxide and continues to release it for days afterward. Fresh roasted coffee can be packaged in valve-sealed bags to allow the gases to escape and will taste best about 48 hours after roasting. The vacuum bag will indeed help preserve coffee longer while it ships and maybe sits on a store shelf, but before it is shipped it has to sit around for a awhile before it was “sealed for freshness” Vacuum sealing is best for pre-ground coffee, which we already know is not going to taste as good as fresh-ground coffee.

valve, coffee beans

Valve sealed bag

 

So in review: buy whole beans directly from a coffee roaster if possible. Look for valve sealed bags, not vacuum-sealed, store your coffee beans in a sealed container in a dark place. Grind your beans just before serving. If you want to store coffee beans long-term you should learn about how to roast your own coffee beans! Enjoy your coffee!coffee, brew, prudent pantry, prudent living

In late February – early March it is time to start my seeds indoors. There are certain vegetables that if you want to plant by seed they must be started indoors. Varieties such as tomatoes, peppers, onions, perennials and some annual flowers benefit from an early start indoors.

Insufficient light is the biggest problem with starting seeds indoors. Long, tall, skinny seedlings which eventually fall over and die are the result of not enough light. Use fluorescent lights, preferable a 4-tube ballast. Tubes must be placed 1” to 2” above the seedlings. Ballasts can be hung on chains and hooked into ceiling hooks for easy adjustment as the seedlings grow. Seedlings must receive 14-16 hours of light, and 8 hours of darkness per day. My husband built me a grow table out of scrap lumber. I have two sets of grow lights which I use over my seedlings. I found a great plan online for building a grow light stand out of PVC pipe. Very clever. Click here for the directions.

Make your own seed starting mixture or purchase high quality seed starting mix that holds the moisture yet has good drainage. Seedlings must be kept moist but not soggy. If they completely dry out just once, seedlings will die. If soggy, fungal problems can occur.

seed starting, gardening, prudent living

Various containers I use for seed starting.

Almost any container can be used to start seeds including old milk containers or egg cartons. Seed starting trays and larger pots for transplanting seedlings are available. To retain soil moisture until seed germinates, cover your container with a clear lid or wrap in clear plastic wrap. Remove the cover immediately when you see the first seedling. I save the clear containers that salad mixes or spinach come in as my growing container.

seed starting, gardening

Empty lettuce containers I save each year.

If your containers are very small and it’s not quite time to plant your seedlings outside, you may need to transfer them to larger containers to allow for proper growth. Chose a container twice the size of the original one, fill it part way with moistened soil, and carefully transplant the seedling handling only the root ball or the leaves, not the stems. Add soil to fill, and water gently.

Before moving the seeds outside you will need to ‘harden the seedlings off’ for about a week. Take the containers outside and place in a filtered sun/shade location away from harsh winds during the day, and bring them back in before evening. Gradually increase the time the seeding’s are outside until they are ready to be planted in your garden. You can also use a cold frame to transition your seedlings. I will post more about cold frames in a later post.

How do you know when to start your seeds inside? All the seeds packets indicate the optimum sowing time based on the average last spring frost date. Generally, tomatoes are sown indoors 6-8 weeks before the average last frost, peppers 8-10 weeks, onions 8-12 weeks. Flower seeds sowing time can vary from 4-12 weeks before the average last frost depending on the variety. For specific variety information, check the back of your seed packet. You also can check the new Plant Hardiness Zone Map  from the USDA which will give you an idea of what plants will thrive in your area.

Seed viability is another thing to think about before starting your seeds. If you are using seeds left over from a previous year it is a good idea to check the viability of the seeds. An easy way to do this is to take 10 seeds and place them on a dampened paper towel. Moisten the paper towel and lay it over the seeds.Place the covered seeds in a zip lock plastic bag and store in a warm, dark place such as a cupboard. Check it occasionally to make sure it is still moist. After a week check the seeds to see if any have sprouted. By using ten seeds you can convert the viability to a percentage. If all 10 seeds have sprouted you have a 100% viability. If only 6 sprouted the percentage drops to 60%. If the viability is low you may just have to plant more seeds or get a new packet of seeds.

Check my video on the seed viability test I did on some pepper and tomato seeds.

I don’t know about you but in the winter my hands suffer with the dry air, I am constantly looking for a decent hand lotion. After the good results I had making a lip balm I decided to try making a hand lotion. With three basic ingredient plus water I made a really nice lotion.

hand lotion, frugal tip

Ingredients for making a hand lotion.

It’s too thick to use as a body lotion but works perfectly for my hands. When you first put it on your hands it seems a little greasy but it soaks in in no time. I used lavender as my essential oil but you could use whatever you want. I had the olive oil on hand and purchased the emulsifying wax from Mountain Rose Herbs. Next time I’ll have to find a recipe for making a homemade beeswax lotion as we have our own beeswax. I poured lotion into a wide mouth pint jar, which I now keep by the sink.

Here’s the recipe:

1 ¼ cup hot water
¼ cup emulsifying wax
¼ cup olive oil
15-36 drops of essential oil (depends on your taste)

In a Pyrex measuring cup I combined the olive oil and emulsifying wax and microwaved it on high for 1 minute or until the wax is melted. The temperature is about 155 degrees.

homemade hand lotion

Emulsifying wax and olive oil

I then removed the wax – olive oil mixture from the microwave and heated up the water in another Pyrex measuring cup for one minute. While the water was heating up I added the essential oil into my melted wax-olive oil mixture. I only used 15 drops of lavender essential oil.

wax, olive oil, homemade hand lotion

Melted wax and olive oil.

Then pour the hot water slowly into the wax-olive oil mixture and watch it turn milky white. At this point the temperature is about 125 degrees. I then poured the hot lotion into my wide mouth pint jar and let it cool over night.

homemade hand lotion, frugal tip

Lotion poured into pint jar.

I was a bit skeptical that it would thicken, however the next morning the lotion was a nice thick consistency.

laven\dar hand lotion, homemade, frugal tip

Hand lotion thickened overnight.

I could have used more essential oil but I really like the gentle fragrance of the lavender, it is not overpowering at all.

 

As a general rule I cook from scratch. Occasionally I will doctor up cake mixes or other time saving mixes. I have a son who loves Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins. I discovered this recipe many years ago. It is quick and easy and you can have a batch of muffins in the oven in no time. I usually have the ingredients on hand so I can mix up a batch when my son is home.

homemade muffins, recipes, poppyseed muffins

Ingredients

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

18 ¼ oz pkg White Cake Mix
6 oz pkg lemon pudding
2 Tbsp poppy seeds
3 eggs
1 ¼ cup water
⅓ cup vegetable oil

In a large bowl, blend cake mix, lemon pudding and poppy seeds.

dry ingredients, poppy seeds

Mix dry ingredients together.

In a separate bowl, combine eggs, water and oil.

eggs, muffin mix

Combine eggs, oil and water.

Blend the egg mixture into the dry ingredients and gently stir. Line muffin tin with muffin cups.muffin liners Fill 2/3 full.muffin batter, lemon poppy sed muffins Bake 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until done. Let cool 5 minutes before removing.homemade muffins, lemon, poppy seeds

Makes 20-24 muffins depending on the size of your muffin tin. These muffins freeze well too.

snacks, freezer snacks

These muffins freeze well.

muffin, homemade, prudent living

Ready to eat.

 

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