Saturday, May 30, 2009

It Just Doesn't Occur To Me

Anyone who reads this blog regularly will know that I'm pretty focused on food. I subscribe to cooking blogs and newsletters, and I have opinions on the prominent recipe sites around the intertubes. So I was a bit taken aback when I got the most recent America's Test Kitchen e-newsletter, which featured a link in the content summary for lemonade. I clicked it and was taken to an article outlining the results of a taste test among store-bought lemonades.

I had to pause to digest that for a moment. See, I had expected that the article would describe ways to optimize homemade lemonade, or perhaps ways to jazz up regular old (slices of ginger, flower petals, or maybe some blueberries). Store-bought lemonade. Frozen lemonade even, in some cases. And all of them came in packaging of one form or another. It just wouldn't occur to me to buy lemonade. After all, there are three ingredients in the stuff: lemon juice, sugar, and water. None of these are difficult to come by if you're already in the grocery store. Isn't it just as easy to grab some lemons as to grab a heavy container of frozen concentrate? The lemons, after all, won't melt on the way home. Lemons will give you zest for baking, as well as juice for drinking. After that you can use a wrung out lemon half to clean mineral scale off the shower walls, or remove tenacious bathtub stains with the help of cream of tartar. And after that you can throw it on your acid-loving plants in the garden. What's left after drinking store-bought lemonade? Packaging. Landfill. Plastic that's going to kill a sea turtle or an albatross chick somewhere. Recycling if you're lucky and conscientious.

I just don't get it. How did we as a society get to the point where people are too helpless or "too busy" to make lemonade? Is it any faster or easier to mix up lemonade from frozen concentrate than it is to juice a few lemons? Why is there a market for prepared lemonade? With about 27 grams of sugar to the 8 ounce glass, this stuff is an occasional treat, or it should be. Can we not find the time and summon the skill to prepare one of the simplest of summertime indulgences? Does taste count for nothing?

The taste testers, incidentally, found five out of the eight store-bought lemonades pretty well undrinkable, including the lone organic brand. How do those odds sound to you?

Okay, rant over, folks. Thanks for your indulgence.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Tiny Tip: Parboil Your Pasta

I've been trying out an energy saving cooking technique lately, and it's been working great for us. It consists of boiling our dried pasta for only a fraction of the recommended cooking time, and then turning off the heat and letting the pasta "coast" to doneness. It works well when I bring the water back to a boil after the pasta is added and give it a few good stirs to make sure the noodles won't stick to each other. This takes just about three minutes and then the burner is turned off. I find that the noodles generally need one more minute to cook than they would if the pot were kept boiling.

For instance, last night I made a batch of my pumpkin-sage pasta (with dehydrated pumpkin from last year's garden). I brought the water to a boil, added the fusilli, stirred well, and set the timer for three minutes. Just before those three minutes were up, I gave everything another good stir while it was boiling. At three minutes I killed the gas, and covered the pot with a towel. The package said the pasta needed nine minutes of cooking time altogether, so I set the timer for seven additional minutes of coasting. The pasta came out perfectly cooked to our taste.

I'm pretty sure I heard of this cooking method from several different sources before I tried it. The English have a dish called "crimped shrimp" in which shrimp are added to hot liquid and then the pot is covered and removed from the heat. I believe the method is specifically mentioned for pasta in the highly enjoyable Depression Cooking with Clara series. If you haven't seen any of the episodes with this 93-year-old home cook yet, it's well worth checking out for some seriously frugal cooking suggestions. There are probably other dishes that could cook by coasting too.

I'm not sure how much of the total energy is saved by this method, but I would guess it's somewhere in the neighborhood of one-quarter. Obviously, the most energy is used to get the water up to boiling in the first place. Keeping it boiling after adding the pasta is probably relatively cheap. Still, this technique saves me six minutes of running the burner, so that's something. It's also less likely that the pot will boil over, which means less cleanup. And it only takes one additional minute to cook everything. This is an especially useful trick now that the weather is warming up and the house is hot in the evenings. Less heat added to the house in the process of cooking dinner. Try it and see what you think!

More tiny tips: More Sunlight in Your Garden, Repurpose Your Credit Card, Make the Most of Old Man Winter, Broccoli Stalk, Scallions

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Chickens Eat My Weeds

I've got a post up today over at the Simple, Green, Frugal Co-op about the weeds my chickens like to eat. Have a wander over there and check it out.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Late Frost and Tender Seedlings

Here I am gardening in hardiness zone 6B. Depending on whom you believe, our average last frost date is either May 5th or May 10th. It's May 19th and there's frost on the grass outside as I type this. I watched my neighbor cover up his tomato seedlings yesterday evening, as I brought my tender heat-loving seedlings indoors for the night. I'm not going to gloat. I hope his seedlings made it. He built some beautiful wooden trellises this year to support his plants. But I am going to take this opportunity to throw my own piece of two-bit advice into the marketplace of gardening ideas.

Don't plant your tomatoes as soon as your last frost date has passed. Don't even plant at a certain amount of time after that date. I'm not saying this simply because of the chance that a late frost could surprise you. The thing I watch for is the day when I can be reasonably certain that overnight temperatures will no longer fall below 50 F (10 C). I know this will come at least a week or two after our average last frost date, and possibly three weeks later or more. I watch the five-day weather forecast, and I won't plant until I see five solid days of overnight temps above 50 degrees. If the predicted overnight low a few days out is exactly 50, I wait. If I see an overnight temperature of 51 or 52, I might plant with a row cover. But mostly I wait.

Why do I use this temperature as a guideline? Because tomatoes are essentially tropical plants. Yes, they've been bred to survive in our northern climes. They'll live through 40 degree nights. But they won't thrive. In my experience, any tomato fruit which has ever been exposed to temperatures below 50 degrees will never develop a good tomato flavor. Even if that fruit is a tiny green bud that has just shed its blossom. And what are we growing our own tomatoes for if not for superb, better-than-candy flavor? Tomatoes need heat and are completely allergic to cold, especially at the beginning of the season. Other gardeners get earlier tomatoes than I do. But the fruits aren't worth a damn, in my opinion.

Even my earliest fruits don't compare to those that mature during the three golden weeks of August. Those fruits probably never know temperatures below 60 or even 65 F. Now those are tomatoes worth eating. They're also worth waiting for. That flavor is the reason why I gave up buying fresh tomatoes at the grocery store, no matter what it says on the sign. "Vine-ripened," "hothouse," - whatever; I don't care. Once you've tasted a real tomato, you won't see the point of eating those red globs of cardboard that are offered for sale 52 weeks out of the year.

All of this goes doubly for pepper plants. They are even more heat-loving than tomatoes. As a rule of thumb, I aim to have my tomatoes in the ground on June 1st, and my peppers in the ground in mid- to late June. That's what works for me in my area anyway. Just don't let your tomato or pepper seedlings get rootbound as you are waiting for the temperature to cooperate. Repot them in larger containers if you need to. Rootbound plants seldom recover to do well in the ground.

I'm sure that seasoned gardeners have their own habits and preferences based on long experience, and I don't intend to start any argument. Direct experience is the best teacher, and it should not be lightly set aside on any authority. My recommendation is offered however to novice gardeners, and I understand that there are many people taking up gardening for the first time this year, due to our lousy economy. It's very easy to get discouraged when our first attempts at any new enterprise fail. So if you're new to gardening, don't necessarily follow what your neighbors are doing. Gardeners can be notoriously optimistic about frosts and planting dates. Everyone is dieing to get that first homegrown tomato. You may do better to wait it out with your heat-loving plants.

Gardening can be an extremely frugal hobby. But it's only frugal if you manage to keep your plants reasonably happy and productive. Losing plants you've grown from seed is absolutely heartbreaking. So take rules of thumb about planting dates with a grain of salt, and beware those late frosts!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Independence Days Challenge

I'm participating in Sharon's Independence Days Challenge this year. Reports are "due" on Mondays, so here's mine. We've done well this past week, probably our best so far this year.

Planted: Popcorn, soup beans, potatoes, mixed lettuces, salad burnett, and a few sunflowers both planted and transplanted. Some few of the late season potatoes I planted in buckets to test out how well they produce in containers, which will allow for easy mounding and harvest. More kale. My early kale transplants are being ravaged by slugs, which I haven't previously had much trouble with. Diatomaceous earth is now on my shopping list. Started pre-sprouting melon and squash seeds last night. All my heat loving seedlings are begging to be in the ground already, but we have overnight temperatures in the 30s F (!) predicted for the next few nights. This is when my June 1st planting date for tomatoes makes sense to me.

Harvested: Lettuce, lettuce, and more lettuce, arugula, various herbs, and volunteer greens (dandelion, fat hen, prickly lettuce, and mustard greens) for the girls. The girls have been steady with the eggs. That's about all we've got right now.

Preserved: Nothing last week. Not much yet available for preserving.

Waste reduction: I've begun "saving" tin cans for a self-watering container project. They're actually from relatives, as we just aren't eating much from cans these days. Still, they're out of the waste stream. We'll need quite a few of them. They're intended for large containers to hold fig trees and a lemon tree next year. (More on this when the project is underway.)

I'm also seeing more need to provide my worm bin with regular feedings of kitchen scraps and newspaper (we get a free weekly delivered to us whether we want it or not). I guess either they're more active as the temperature increases, or their population is growing, or both.

The girls are getting some of my failed baking projects that I salvaged in the freezer as their daily treats. They don't seem to care when breads or English muffins don't rise properly. (The hazards of only baking when it's really, really cold.)

Took a large load of corrugated cardboard to the recycling center.

Build Community Food Systems: I took the first contribution from my Plant A Row project to the food bank last week on a rainy day. Three heads of lettuce and a yogurt container full of herbs. The relatives of mine who had agreed to Plant their own Rows didn't have anything ready to contribute, but we've agreed to twice-a-month delivery dates for our garden produce. I also roped in a friend of the family with a large garden to participate in our next drop off. This is the first time I've had anything to report in this category so far. But for the next few months it should be fairly regular.

Preparation and Storage: Bought some extra beans, soy sauce, baking powder, and coconut milk at the store this week. Oh! and I ordered some extra elderberry zinc lozenges for colds and sore throats. The spousal unit liked them so much he was eating them like candy. This stash is getting hidden. Froze two of the Lemon-Coconut breads I made last week. Looked for extra large canning jars this week without any luck. I should do something about preserving some of the herbs this week.

Eat the food: Made a nice pair of bean dips to use up some dried beans. Found and used a surprise bag of frozen kale from last year's garden. We're eating lettuce just as fast as we can. Used up some frozen lemon juice, fresh eggs, and a lot of unsweetened coconut flake in those lovely Lemon-Coconut breads.

All in all, it was a pretty good week.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Farmgirl Fare's Lemon Coconut Bread

Have I mentioned that I have a tendency to overdo things sometimes? Yesterday was too rainy to work in the garden much, though I did plant some Cherokee Trail of Tears beans. It seemed like a good day to do some baking, and Farmgirl Susan's Lemon Coconut Bread recipe has been buzzing like a bee in my bonnet.

If I was going to fire up the oven, I figured I might as well triple the recipe. That's one effect of having a chest freezer and a stocking up mentality. It's so satisfying to chuck the surplus in there, forget about it, and then uncover a goodie like this in a few months. This recipe turned out very nicely, though I tweaked it from Susan's a little bit. I substituted some cream cheese for some of the butter, because I had some that needed using up. The texture was light and just moist enough. In terms of sweetness it falls right in between a proper cake and a proper quickbread. Having some for dessert last night, I kept wanting it to be just a little sweeter. And I usually like my sweets on the less sweet side. So I could see serving this for breakfast with a straight face.

Which is what's going to happen in a moment.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

One Dove, Four Finches, Fat Hen

These are the things my garden showed me yesterday. The songbirds showed up as I was making my early morning inspection. Just after moving and feeding the girls, the garden beckons. Each day there is something new now, in this season of rampant growth. More seeds sprouting, seedlings getting taller, butterflies showing up, tender crops already under assault from hungry insects. The finches are merry, brassy little wights. They flit and twitter, and have a go at each other now and then. They like to creep around the mounds I've built up for the squash and melons, just as much as they enjoy the view from the top of my bean poles. They don't mind me as I move slowly around the outside of the garden. Not so the dove; she's a nervous, flighty thing, cautious and easily spooked.

Even though my first response is anxiety that these birds might pluck one of my coddled seedlings from the ground, I like seeing them in my garden. My second and more reasoned thought is that they are allies who are searching out insects on which to break their fast. I take their presence as a sign of health in my yard. If there were no life in my garden soil, there would be nothing to interest these birds. But I see the life there, centipedes, salamanders, worms, spiders, and bugs, each time I open the soil to place a seedling. I see the mushrooms fruiting from last year's hay mulch, and I take it as encouragement that a diverse ecosystem occupies my little patch of earth. As improbable as it may sound, this is deeply important to me.

I had a Duh! moment yesterday afternoon. I've been working so hard at all the tasks that need doing that a nap was inevitable. I'd been telling myself too that I should find a little time to peruse the weed book I got at weed school back in February. Weeds of the Northeast is a heavy volume with detailed pictures and descriptions of all the common weeds of the northeastern US. I've never been very good at identifying weeds, and I figured there was a decent chance that at least a few of the things I've regarded as weeds out in my yard were actually useful plants.

As my eyelids grew heavy, I turned to the page on lambsquarters, also known as fat hen. There on the page was one of the most common and prolific weeds in my garden. I stuck a bookmark in the page and drifted off for a solid snooze. I awoke groggy and staggered out to the garden and the hens, with the book in tow. Sure enough, there was the weed, which matched right up with the picture in the book. The real test, of course, was to see if the hens really would eat this stuff. I'd given them quite a lot of mustard greens right before my nap. But I tossed in some fat hen, and watched delightedly as they took right to it.

I didn't know whether to feel triumphant or chagrined. It's great that I now have another free green to give the girls, and I'll be especially thrilled if fat hen lives up to its name. Even we could eat this leafy plant if we chose to. On the other hand, I can't tell you how many of these plants I ripped out of the ground over the last few years. It's good to be relieved of my ignorance. Another instance of finding the value right under my nose. I'm going to have to devote some more time to reading that book.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Stop Food Waste - Salad Scrambles

The lettuce is up and it's salad season again. Salad is a cornerstone meal for healthy eating, and one of the most obvious ways to include raw foods in your diet. But leftover salad presents some home economy challenges, especially if that salad is already dressed. I've heard that some people like to make green smoothies out of leftover salad. Personally I've found a different strategy works for me.

I make salad scrambles the next morning. There are few ingredients that might go into a salad which would be totally out of place in an omelet. Tomatoes, peppers, herbs, onions, cheese, croutons - not to mention spinach and other greens - all these harmonize well with beaten eggs. I especially enjoy leftover Caesar salad in scrambles, or any salad that has goat cheese in it.

True, if you favor sweet dressings, or if you like to add fresh or dried fruits to your green salads, it might be a weird flavor combination. But in general this strategy works well because it's usually the earliest opportunity to use up leftover salads. That means that if the greens have been dressed, the vinegar doesn't have an extra eight hours to continue breaking down their cell structure, and turning them icky. It also helps if you dress your salad very lightly (a healthy and frugal practice anyway) and then store the leftover salad in the coldest (i.e. lowest) part of your refrigerator.

Making a salad scramble is simple. Beat however many eggs you want to use, adding salt and pepper or any flavorings you like. Preheat a pan over medium heat and put in a tiny dash of oil if it's needed. If your leftover salad is heavily dressed you probably won't need extra oil. Depending on the type of greens in your salad and how heavy your pouring hand was, it may take a few minutes to wilt the greens and drive off some excess liquid. Romaine lettuce can stand up to a surprising amount of cooking, butterhead not so much. When the greens wilt, increase the heat to medium-high and add the beaten eggs. Push a wooden spoon or soft spatula gently through the eggs every few seconds so that the eggs form soft lumps. When the eggs are just set, you've got a frugal and healthy breakfast. (In case you're wondering, those purple things in the picture above are chive flowers - part of last night's salad. They're quite oniony when raw, but mellowed a bit in the scramble.)

I actually whipped up some of these when we were houseguests last Thanksgiving. My husband's aunt made a lovely spinach, feta, and cranberry salad to serve with dinner a night or two before the feast. Our hostess was just going to toss the leftovers, but we assured her we'd eat it for breakfast. The next morning she was all but agog when we made some salad scrambles. It sure seemed to make her stop and think for a moment. Maybe she thought we were freaks. Or maybe she was mentally revisiting a childhood of extreme frugality, growing up on an Indiana farm raised by a survivor of the Great Depression. I a freak? Do you have clever solutions for using up dressed salad, or other awkward leftovers? Please share in the comments!

Other ways not to waste food:
Tiny Tip: Broccoli Stalks
Sour Milk & Potato Biscuit-Muffins
Chocolate-Zucchini Cake
Tiny Tip: Scallions
Homemade Apple "Cider" Vinegar

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Harvest Meal for a Gray & Dreary Day

It's been raining steadily for four days, and the forecast promises more of the same. I worked outside in the garden for a good part of Sunday nonetheless, but I just couldn't face the steady drizzle on Monday. Instead, I did my best to remind myself of the virtues of living in an area with precipitation sufficient such that I almost never have to water my garden. And I caught up on housework, which generally falls to the absolute bottom of my to-do list once gardening season begins. Yardwork or housework, but not both - that's my motto at the moment.

In addition, I took the opportunity today to make my own version of Maya's stunning homemade spinach pasta (much prettier than mine, I might add.) The arugula sylvetta is going gangbusters out there. It's one of my favorite crops because I hardly need to do anything other than harvest it once it establishes itself. And I love the flavor. I also collected some chives, sage, a tiny bit of baby spinach, and a few ramp leaves. So with our own eggs and our own garden fresh greens, I whipped up a batch of very rustic pasta, using an organic wheat flour that includes the germ but not the bran. Homemade pasta is something I know how to make. But somehow it just doesn't happen as often as it should. So thanks, Maya, for the nudge and for giving me a good rainy day project.

This mound of flour has ground up arugula and other greens already in it. I dried them as well as I could, then put them through the food processor with most of the flour. The eggs are fresh from our hens.

Blend, blend, blend

The ball of dough after a few minutes of kneading by hand. I probably should have added an extra dose of flour to the dough. The herbs added quite a bit of moisture, so the dough was pretty sticky.

There's not a huge amount of precision when it comes to making your own pasta. A general rule of thumb is to use 2 cups (27 cl) of flour to four eggs. But since the size of eggs vary and the moisture content of flour also varies with the ambient humidity, it's always a subjective, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants endeavor. I added about 2 cups, or 4 ounces by weight, of raw herbs and greens, and ended up incorporating quite a bit more flour during the kneading stage. After kneading, the dough needs a little rest in the fridge before shaping it. A pasta roller makes the shaping a breeze. (I picked mine up, with a linguine/fettuccine cutting attachment, at the thrift store for $8.) But you can roll it by hand with a rolling pin and cut it with a knife if you need to. I did that many times before finding a cheap pasta roller.

These chewy, dense noodles cooked in no time, and didn't last much longer than that. All they needed was some olive oil with sauteed garlic and a bare grating of Parmesan cheese. I can tell that fresh herb noodles are going to become a springtime tradition for us. It's a dish that can be pulled together with what few things the garden and hens give up generously at such an early date.

Friday, May 1, 2009

May Frugal Action Item: Solar Dryer

Photo credit: Professor Bop

Alrighty, folks. Time for another monthly frugal Action Item. This month, in honor of springtime (in the northern hemisphere), it's back to frugal basics with a call to get yourself a solar laundry dryer. That's what we call a clothesline around here. Solar dryer sounds so fancy though, doesn't it?

Clotheslines have become contentious issues in the appearance obsessed US. This may be difficult for some overseas visitors to believe, but we have numerous homeowners associations over here that forbid the hanging of laundry on clotheslines, or even draping towels over balcony railings. Essentially this boils down to snobbery; the assumption being that only poor people would willingly hang their laundry up to dry outside, rather than use an expensive to buy and expensive to operate dryer. And who wants their largest investment associated, by proximity, with poor people? Needless to say, I despise HOA's that discourage any practice so harmless, so frugal, and so responsible in the use of non-renewable and polluting energy. (Most electrical generation in the US comes from coal. Hardly a green energy.)

Nonetheless, I know some readers have to deal with such monumental stupidity from a HOA. Others don't have any property on which to install an outdoor clothesline. I myself don't have one outside either. So I'm going to talk about ways of air drying your clothes without going outside. By all means, if you have the space and you want one, get yourself an outdoor line. But also consider the advantages of an indoor system. To list a few:
  • Save money year-round.
  • No need to carry a heavy basket of clothes anywhere.
  • Clothes don't get coated with allergenic yellow dust during pollen season.
  • Sub-freezing weather or precipitation won't make any difference to the laundry routine.
I've already blogged about my indoor clothes drying routine. I like to be able to hang up my laundry inside, right where I washed it in the first place. That way I notice any stains that might have made it through the first wash, treat them, and add them to the next load of laundry immediately. Here's a great post by one of my co-authors over at the Simple, Green, Frugal Co-op, detailing her fantastic and homemade clothesline in her basement.

If space is tight, there are still ways to hang your laundry indoors. Some popular options include the collapsible folding wooden drying racks, or retractable clothes lines. If you go for the drying racks, I recommend getting at least two. A full sized load of laundry in my house will not fit on one rack. Retractable clothes lines can be discreetly installed in a shower stall, where clothes can hang over the tub, on hangers if need be to maximize the use of space.

Another trick I use is to hang my "smalls" with clothespins from the downward facing edge of rubber-coated wire shelving in my laundry room. The shelving is right over my laundry machines, but socks and underwear are short enough that they hang freely. This saves room on the drying rack and indoor clotheslines for larger items. If you've been wanting more storage space in your home, consider this added benefit if you go with this fairly cheap form of shelving.

You can buy ready made retractable clotheslines at the store. Or you can fire up your creative juices and come up with a hanging line on your own. Though I have retractable clotheslines, I find I never retract them. You may end up doing the same, so your homemade setup could be quite simple. Coming up with your own indoor clothesline is likely to be by far the most frugal option. Though wooden drying racks are great and will last for decades, they're still more expensive than some nylon rope and a few hooks to anchor the rope.

The Fine Print
I confess to using the dryer for almost every load of laundry I do. But wait! Before you write me off as a hypocrite, I don't use it to dry the clothes, only to soften them up once they are dry (avoiding the curse of the crunchy towel), and to remove a portion of cat hair. All that takes is five minutes on the unheated "air fluff" cycle. Hardly any energy used for that. And since all the clothes are dry by the time I put them in there, I can really overfill the dryer. So I usually batch two loads in the dryer at a time. Since dry clothes don't weigh much and I'm not asking the dryer to do much work at all, the machine doesn't break down.

Other considerations
If you live in a humid area, or if you do a lot of laundry, be mindful of the risks of adding more humidity to your home by drying indoors. Moisture is slow death for buildings, which is why bathrooms have ventilation fans. So open windows when you dry indoors, or when that doesn't make sense, consider aiming a low fan at your laundry. This will cost a little bit of electricity, but far less than a dryer. It will not only dry your clothes faster, but will disperse the humidity throughout a larger area, rather than allowing it to build up and cause damage over time. On the other hand, if you live in a very dry environment, hanging your laundry to dry inside may save you money in more ways than one. If you normally run a humidifier, hanging wet laundry inside may allow you to turn off that appliance.

If you truly live in a minuscule home, then even finding space to dry some of your laundry is better than nothing. If a few of your clothes hang from the shower curtain rod to dry, you won't need to run the dryer quite as long as you would otherwise. If you absolutely must use a dryer, be diligent about cleaning out the filters, exhaust system, and lint trap so that it works as efficiently as possible and to extend the life of the machine.

Advanced Action Item
Like last month, I'm not offering an alternative, but an additional challenge. I really believe that air drying or solar drying laundry is within the reach of most people. If solar or air drying your laundry is old news for you, consider whipping up a batch of homemade laundry detergent. Homemade laundry detergent is a fun and easy project for kids, because you get to make a cool looking gel. You can also play around with adding fragrance with aromatic herbs from your garden, or with essential oils that you purchase. You'll not only save money, but also save the energy of hauling home a heavy powder or liquid detergent, as well as spare the Pacific plastic gyre yet another new addition. Or try switching to vinegar for your fabric softening and static cling reduction needs. Just add some directly to the wash as you would a store-bought fabric softener. It's cheaper and much less toxic than most alternatives. And if you happen to have an apple tree, you could actually make your own vinegar from apple scraps, for free!

New to these monthly Frugal Action Items? Catch up with more here:
January: Compact Fluorescent Bulbs & Hot Water Pipe Insulation
February: Kitchen Competence
March: Rein In Entertainment Spending
April: Go Paper-less
June: Raise the Deductible on Your Auto Insurance
July: Stay Cool Without Touching that Thermostat
August: Repair It!
September: Insulate
October: Preventative Health Care
November: Frugal Holiday Wish List
December: Plan Next Year's Garden