Saturday, March 26, 2011

I Broke Down....

And dyed my hair...after spending more than a year growing out the last dye job. Most of the time I interface with my clients and business partners over the phone. But last month I had a conference to go to. And I didn't fancy the thought of showing up with my hair all streaky grey. so I went to the salon, had it cut and dyed as close to my natural colour as possible. The result? My hair is now reddish brown instead of its natural mouse-brown. The grey was still clearly visible under the harsh lights of the salon. I now have a half-inch of mouse-brown hair growing out at the roots. And I remember what I'd taken the last 18 months or so to forget -- there's a reason I wanted to stop dyeing my hair. So, I've gone and done a little research online to look for a solution to this problem, and I came across an article describing how to make homemade hair dye from walnut husks henna coffee tea I also came across suggestions on how to dye my hair red, blue or purple using koolaid crystals. Maybe some other day. Since tea seems the easiest to me, I'm off to brew myself a pot. I'll have some to drink, and some for my hair. And I'll let you know how it turns out.

Monday, November 16, 2009

What to Make for Dinner When all you have is cabbage and eggs and leftover chicken?

I made pancit for my kids today. Pancit is one of the national dishes of the phillipines, and I discovered it one day on one of my favourite websites: is an ingredient search engine. You tell the supercomputer what you have in your kitchen, and it will tell you what you can make with it.

One day I was trying to think of what I could make for my kids that would be a popular, healthy meal, that would use up some cabbage and chicken I had lying around. Answer? pancit!

When I told my philipino friend, Mary Jane, she was very excited to discover that I'd made pancit for my kids.

And my son wanted to know could I make this every day? I just pan-fried some noodles and chicken and strips of cabbage with a little soy sauce and garlic and voila! I was a culinary hero to my children.

I recommend you go and try it right now. Nothing but pumpkins and rice flour in the house? No problem, you can whip up a batch of korean pumpkin soup.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

A Personal Trainer for Cheap -- or FREE

I'm working from home this month. Which means I have some more time in the mornings that I'm not spending commuting.

Am I using those extra few precious minutes to have a lie-in in the mornings? Oh no, dear reader. I'm putting the time to much better use.

I'm Using it to Drag My Butt Off My Couch

I was at a conference in France last month, and expressed my admiration to one of my coworkers who went out each morning jogging through the countryside. I always wanted to be a runner. Burns calories like crazy, and it's my favourite kind of budget activity -- free.

My coworker clued me in to Couch to 5K. This is a 9 week program that takes you through an easy progression from couch potato to running 5k three times a week (that's about 3 miles for you Americans).

I first went and checked out the originators of the program at They sell a complete program for a very reasonable price.

But I, of course, prefer FREE. So I did a little search online and found a few people who had put together podcasts that take you through the running progression. One in particular, which I'm using is from Robert Ullrey. His music is paced to keep me running. His voiceovers help me to keep track of where I'm at in my run, and what I have ahead of me. It's like have a personal training jogging alongside every morning.

I've just completed week three of the program, so It's early days. That's 9 runs in, out of 27 to get to 5k. And I find I look forward to the runs every morning.

Looking forward to my workouts is a big improvement over the personal trainer I hired a few months ago to come over and torture me in the mornings.

I know what you're thinkging. This website - and my lifestyle - are supposed to be about all things frugal.

But I say no. It's about how to enjoy the little luxuries frugally. And living here in Argentina, a Personal Trainer is a bargain. My trainer comes out to the house and works out with me for an hour, and charges me a total of about $9.00.

For those of you living in places where the going rate for a personal trainer is NOT under $10.00 an hour, I recommend the following: look for a workout buddy, or place an ad at your local college to find a phys. ed. student willing to work out with you for a discount.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Can You Make Quiche With Milk?

I've been getting a lot of traffic to my blog from people looking for healthier quiche recipes replacing cream with milk.  So I'm just doing a quickie post on the subject.

I posted my frugal quiche recipe here.

I recommend against using cream in your quiche.  Use milk only.  If you prefer, you can even make it with powdered milk.  

The creamy, custardy texture that you get in a really good quiche does not come from cream.  It comes from the right proportion of milk to eggs.  Generally more milk and less eggs than what is called for in most recipes.  The objective is to make a smoothly textured cheesy custard (much like a creme caramel).

To make sure the custard sets properly during baking, you can just add a teaspoon of cornstarch to the milk/egg mixture before pouring it in to the crust.

Simplifying My Homemade Bread

I've been making Jim Lahey's artisan bread lately.  It is as good as any crusty fresh artisan bread I have ever tasted from a high-end bakery.  It costs almosts nothing to make, and requires almost no effort.

I just mix 

3 cups of flour
1.5 cups of warm water (straight out of the tap)
1.5 tsp of salt
.25 tsp of yeast

I mix it for a few seconds with clean hands...then walk away for 12 hours or so.

In Lahey's video, he cooks the loaves in a HOT oven in VERY EXPENSIVE cast iron pots.

I looked into buying one of these...and I still might.  But for the sake of frugality...I've been making mine in terra cotta planters.  

I went to my local garden center and picked up a shallow clay saucer (the kind used for catching the water that drains out the hole in the bottom of the pot), and a mid-sized planter pot that had no hole in the bottom. 

The pots stand up to the extreme heat and are a good container for bread baking.  The bottom saucer also works perfectly as a pizza stone.  I can use it easily in my oven or on my barbecue.

Harvesting Yeast From The Air

Sure, you can buy yeast in little packets and use it to make your bread.

Or you can harvest wild yeast from the air.

My next loaf of Artisan bread will be made with my own sourdough starter.  I've just poured some flour and warm water in a cloth-covered jar and set it out to harvest yeast and bacteria that feed on the flour.   It takes time....a few days to a week to get your starter ready, but very little effort.  I just feed my starter morning and evening at the same time I water my sprouts and brew myself a pot of green tea (for drinkingor as an antibacterial flouride mouthwash).

The yeast and bacteria are actually quite difficult to kill once you have established your colony.  You just feed them once a week or so with more flour and water.  As the volume of the starter increases, you just pour some off, and use it to whip up a loaf of fresh crusty homemade bread, using this recipe from

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Seeking Solutions for Bloodshot Eyes

As I've gotten older, all kinds of minor health complaints present themselves.  One of them is bloodshot eyes.

Could be the late nights, the early mornings, the hours in front of a computer, some kind of dietary deficiency...or just old age.  But whatever the cause, I am no longer able to spring out of bed after a few hours sleep looking fresh as a daisy, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. an extension to my beauty products research, Ive started experimenting with home remedies for bloodshot eyes.  

It all started with a call to the vet.

I adopted a kitten recently, and she came to us with a winky eye.  When I asked the vet what I should do about it, he first recommended that I get an eyedropper and put drops of...cold tea.

Cold tea in my cat's eyes?  
According to various sources on the Internet, cold tea is a good remedy for itchy red eyes. 

But is it good for your eyes?

If you've read any of my posts on green tea, you know I have lots of it lying around.  I drink it for its antioxidant properties, use it as an antibacterial mouthwash (rich in flouride), and then sprinkle the dried leaves into my kitty's litter box to control odours.

So starting now I'm also going to put a few drops in my eyes.

Ocular Rosacea?

One possibility is that I suffer from a condition known as ocular rosacea.  Rosacea affects something like 14 million individuals in the United States.  It's characterized by red, blotchy skin.  Itchy flaky patches.  Fine capilliaries on the surface, and a tendency to flush easily.

The reason I think maybe I am suffering from ocular rosacea is that I have a chronic dry, ithy patch of skin on my face.  If left alone, it gets rough and patchy and itchy.  Apparently sufferers sometimes also get this chronic ailment in their eyes.

I've read a lot about the causes and cures for ocular rosacea.  The prognosis is mostly...unexplained, progressive and incurable.  Great.

For years I used a hydrocortizone cream to try to control the patchy skin problem.  It helps, but I don't really like to use it.   So lately I've been sourcing home remedies.  I suspect that years of loading my body with "toxic" beauty products has caused or worsened the skin condition.  

So I began experimenting with:

baking soda to gently exfoliate my skin once a week or so
a solution of borax for gentle cleansing daily
green tea and glycerine to moisturize, and heal 
zinc oxide cream (diaper rash cream) to soothe, and protect from further sun damage

The results?  The skin is smoother, the flaky patches are gone, and the itching is much better (but still present).  The texture and the pigmentation are more even. 

Not a miracle cure...but a HUGE improvement....and all of this using stuff I have lying around my house.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Quickie Post: Check Out This Gorgeous Garden

I just wanted to take a moment to share this.

This was posted on Suzanne Forsling's fabulous vertical garden from reclaimed gutters.

I don't have any gutters to reclaim, but boy would I like to try this.