April 28, 2011

Tightwad Gazette II - Day 15 - April 28th

There are some great tips in today’s reading. Have you ever thought about mixing leftover paint to use on a project or what about making some of your own convenience food?

Let’s get started.


“In every basement, just to the left of the tattered lawn chairs awaiting rewebbing, sits a stack of paint cans, left over from dozens of household projects. A new project arises; you scan the cans and discover that you don’t have quite enough for this particular task. So you buy another can, use three quarters of it, and add it to the pile. Eventually, sick of the mess you decide to take the whole lot to the dump, even though a lot of it is technically, toxic waste.”

Okay – everyone out there that has paint cans leftover from a project raise your hand.

Yes, you know I have my hand raised. Amy’s solution is to mix the lot and get it used up.

Amy reported that a solid waste facility in Washington state, was accepting cans of paint and then they were mixing the cans, sealing them and they gave it away – over 12,000 gallons. Now I’m sure they took like colors and mixed them or you would have some pretty ugly paint if you just mixed everything together.

Obviously combining latex with latex and oil based with oil based. If you mix exterior with interior and use it outside, be aware that it will lose durability. You can use the mixed paint for the undercoating and the “pure paint” for the topcoat with good results.

Using mixed paint means that you will need to be a little less picky about a paint shade and color. Asks friends and neighbors if they have paint they want to get rid of or perhaps mix and share.

I keep cans of paint in my basement for touch ups. The leftover paint from my living room will be used in a portion of the hallway off of the living room. But I do have paint leftover from the entryway and I plan to use it on the walls to my basement. As you may recall the colors I used in the entryway were shades of yellow and shades of blue. I am going to stripe the walls on the stairway to the basement by painting the top with the light shade of yellow and continue down to the darkest. Then I will paint the steps with the blue shades, starting with the darkest shade on the top step and rotating the three shades down the stairs.

The ceiling of the basement stairs are the underside of the stairs to our second floor. I will paint those the same shades of blue as the stairs. The walls are plaster on the top and as you go down the stairs they are made up of old horizontal boards. Right now they are painted a weird lime type green.

My basement is an “old house” type basement so this will make it look a little funky and kitschy which I like. I also plan to take any other leftover mixed paint to paint the wooden walls on some of those basement rooms. I may even add a little fun graffiti.

You can use leftover “mixed” paint to paint furniture, lawn furniture, birdhouses, old chairs and so on. Just look around your house and see what you can do with the leftover mixed paint.


Many readers sent Amy information about the SHARE food program. You get a box of food at a reduced price and you have to pick it up at a specific SHARE location.

You sign up one month in advance with a host organization and you do two hours of community service. You then qualify for the box of food.

Amy listed the ingredients in a box of SHARE food and their price if bought separately. She calculated that it would only save her family $4.14 and if they had to do two hours of community work, it wouldn’t be worth it.

I disagree with Amy on the community work. I teach Sunday school at our church and have helped with the after school kids program at our church along with other volunteer programs at our church. I do these anyway and I could use the time I spend on these activities to qualify for the community work.

Amy does go on to say that SHARE is a good idea for people who don’t shop like they do. Also SHARE does supply only nutritious foods so it ensures that people with poor food buying habits get nutritious meals.

People going through hard times can isolate themselves and perhaps the community work would force them to get out and perhaps make some friends.

Here is a website for SHARE Iowa which gives you an idea of what is in each box of food and the costs. You can also check Angel Food ministries at this site.


Amy gave recipes that she used to replace some convenience foods. Aside from saving some money, homemade mixes save on packaging, there are no artificial ingredients, homemade almost always taste better, buying and keeping staples on hand to make the mixes saves on shopping time and requires less space, homemade can be modified to taste or to meet dietary restrictions such as reducing salt.

Seasoned Salt

8 tablespoons salt
3 tablespoons pepper
2 tablespoons paprika
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 tablespoons garlic powder

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and store in an airtight container.

Taco Seasoning Mix

6 teaspoons chili powder
4 1/2 teaspoons cumin
5 teaspoons paprika
3 teaspoons onion powder
2 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mix all the ingredients and store in an airtight container. This homemade mix is twice as strong as the store bought so use half the amount.

Tomato Soup

1 – 6 ounce can of tomato paste
24 ounces milk (refill tomato can 4 times)
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
1 teaspoon celery seed

Put tomato paste in a small saucepan. Add the milk using the can, rinsing thoroughly. Add the salt and the celery seed. Cook on medium heat stirring occasionally.

Onion Soup Mix

3/4 cup instant minced onion
4 teaspoons onion powder
1/3 cup beef flavored bouillon powder
1/4 teaspoon celery seed, crushed
1/4 teaspoon sugar

Mix all the ingredients and store in an airtight container. To use add 2 tablespoons mix to 1 cup boiling water. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. This makes a stronger soup than the store-bought mix, so you can use less.

Chocolate Syrup

1/2 cup cocoa
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Mix the cocoa and the water in a saucepan. Heat and stir to dissolve the cocoa. Add the sugar, and stir to dissolve. Boil 3 minutes. Add the salt and the vanilla. Pour into a sterilized pint jar and store covered in refrigerator. Keeps for several months.

Seasoned Rice Mix

3 cups uncooked regular rice
1/4 cup dried parsley flakes
6 tablespoons instant chicken or beef bouillon powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

Mix all the ingredients and store in an airtight container. To use put 1 cup mix, 2 tablespoons margarine and 2 cups water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes or til the rice is tender. To more closely approximate Rice-a-Roni, substitute 1 cup of broken pieces of uncooked spaghetti for a 1 cup of rice.

I have used all of these recipes, except the tomato soup recipe, and they are very good.


If you keep bananas in a closed plastic bag, they will keep at least two weeks on your counter. I was able to get some of those Hefty Extend bags for free with coupons. They did extend the life of bananas but not by two weeks.


A reader wrote Amy to tell her that he needed some foam to wrap around some PVC water pipes for insulation. He called a local carpet store and they let him take discarded foam pads from their dumpster. He cut the pads into strips and wrapped the strips around the pipes.


A reader wrote in to say that she almost killed her cat from using flea products that had harmful chemicals. Now she uses a flea comb and she began by combing her cat four times daily. She got an average of 20 fleas a day for two weeks. Within a month of this, every trace of a flea was gone.

Tomorrow read page 128 through 138.

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