Frugal Librarian #12: Joe is thicker than water

2207162644_bf88558cb2Those two cups nobody wanted from this morning have lost their aroma and flavor as a straight beverage. They’re not good for anything except tomorrow’s 6AM supercharge, with the characteristic post-slurp wince.

This neat tip from the May 2009 Consumer Reports’ Shop Smart magazine: “Coffee is a great flavoring, says chef Steve Petusevsky, of Roundy’s Supermarkets.”

-Freeze leftovers in ice-cube trays and add to iced coffee. This trick keeps your iced coffee from getting watery as the cubes melt.

-Substitute coffee for the water in brownie or chocolate cake mixes. It imbues a richer flavor.

-Replace part of the liquid in stews or barbecue sauce with strong coffee. Again, the coffee adds to the flavor, and you can save your wine for drinking!

-Substitute coffee for water in your favorite baked-beans recipe or add a litle when heating canned baked beans.

-Use coffee as a meat marinade. it imparts a subtle flavor, its acidity helps break down tougher cuts of beef or pork, and it adds a nice earthy flavor to poultry.

The Frugal Armchair Traveler

dollarsFive Ways for the Traveler to Save Money

1. Buy magazines (10 cents) and paperbacks (10-25 cents) at the library sales. You can read them on the plane, in the airport, at the hotel. (This has the added advantage of reducing your travel imprint as you go  – tear out the pages and discard them as you go). It’s really cool if you buy travel magazines about your destination!

2. Reserve a copy of the most recent Fodor’s/Lonely Planet/Frommer’s guide and make notes about sites you want to see. You will be more focused and proactive (instead of waking up each morning and deciding what in the heck you want to do today).

3. Go to the travel and tourism website  for your destination to find  free museums, parks, festivals,  author visits to bookstores,  and, of course, libraries.

4. Staycations/Be-a-Tourist-in-Your-Own-Backyard/Whatever You Want to Call It (Sit  in your  backyard, sipping your favorite beverage and read the latest John Grisham or Dan Brown. In the evening, invite your best buddy over for  the latest James Bond or Judd Apatow dvd that you’ve gotten from the Davenport Public Library).

5. Save bucket loads of cash on audiobooks by checking out books-on-cd, playways or downloading our ebooks the next time you head out on the highway.

Frugal Librarian #11: Nothing dandy about ’em.

frugallibrarianOn a non-librarian note, why do children’s book romanticize the innocence of the ilde days of youth spent blowing apart the tops of dandelions? They don’t need any help!  These sinister cold-blooded pests are designed in a sadistic laboratory as the most pure mechanism of mass-dispersal and reproduction since Captain Kirk played a Barry White record for the Tribbles.   Let us all hope a James Bond supervillain does not harness any of the design specs of the dandelion for biowarfare.

That being said, we have weapons to combat the “yellow menace.” Rather than put 12 bucks on my Menards card again, next time I’ll tap into a very pervasive organic weedkiller recipe I’ve discovered on the Internet.  Vinegar, sometimes salt, and a little bit of dishsoap seem to be the common elements…that comes to about three dollars by my estimation.  Just don’t get it on any plants you care about.

Money Smart Week – On Display!

The Quad Cities is celebrating Money Smart Week  April 18-25th.  Besides the multitude of informational programs being offered throughout the week, you can also get more in-depth suggestions from current materials at the library.

s In this struggling economy, the Penny Pincher’s Almanac by Reader’s Digest may be just the ticket for many of us.  Presented in the typically quick and clever digest style, it’s full of easily accessible ideas.


Who isn’t interested in money?  In Greenback: the Almighty Dollar and the Invention of America by Jason Goodwin, the author explains how “money has always been at the heart of the American experience. ”


For practical points on getting out of debt, try Girl, Get Your Credit Straight! by Glinda Bridgforth.  The book is organized to encourage readers to get their priorities straight and to plan their spending.  It also has ideas on ways to increase one’s income.

Be sure to check out all the events sponsered by the Davenport Library this week including supermarket shopping and budgeting tips as well as a Community Shred Day at the Fairmount Library on Saturday, April 25.

Frugal Librarian #7: Online Shopping

frugallibrarianLet’s get stingy with it… The frugal librarian is also too lazy to leave the house to find value.

Become a regular checker of, or subscribe to the RSS feed of slickdeals and dealhack.  These sites have user-submitted deals that are RED hot on hundreds of merchants.  We’re not talking “save 10%” kinds of stuff.  Ridiculously low blowouts that require action within a few days.  So if there’s a knickknack for which you’ve been on the fence for a couple months or something you’re kind of interested in, keep it the back of your mind and wait for it to come across these sites

And for the one-two cheapskate combo punch, check retailmenot and currentcodes for the secret codes you enter while buying to get additional discounts.  Well, they were secrets before astute shoppers or those that subscribe to those merchants insider deals newsletters leaked them to all us common folk altruistically.

Too phobic to shop online?  Completely understand.  Most of the insurance companies out there are offering packages for online identity protection and peace of mind.  $2-$3 a month for $30,000 in coverage is pretty reasonable.  Shoot, you’ll  probably save twice that in gas and time getting dressed.

Frugal Librarian #5: Magic Beans

frugallibrarianThey might as well have mystical powers as much as some folks charge for them. With a little skill, it is possible to get up to five times as much coffee for what you’d pay a certain mega-chain for a vacuum-packed pound. Problem is, you’ve got to get online, buy them green and roast them yourself. This can be, for a knucklehead that shall remain nameless, an extremely smoky and odorous endeavor.

There are lots of people who have modded-up their own roasting rigs, but one of the easiest, most accurate and cost-effective methods is around 6 minutes in the old hot-air popcorn popper you’re currently doubling as a dust-collector.

Reasons to attempt:

-According to some sources, coffee is best within five days of roasting. Shelf brands have been there far longer.
-You can experiment to find your ideal mouthfeel. Go online and pick an African, Asian, or Central American nation of your choice (there are dozens)….each has their own varieties that thrive in their unique in climate, soil, moisture, etc.
-You get the satisfaction of knowing when it turned out halfway well that it occurred of your own caring hand. Might make for an impressive treat or homemade gift?
-You can “enhance” what you’ve done by adding flavoring elements. I’ve found a teaspoon of cinnamon in the drip basket masks mistakes.

Word to the wise…never do it inside, especially not with half a wok full.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to step away to enjoy a cupful of fresh-brewed cinders.

Frugal Librarian #3: Shopsmart Magazine

frugallibrarianThis brand new bi-monthly publication from the makers of Consumer Reports magazine has the slogan “no hype, no ads, just great buys.” It looks like the result of a crossbreeding between Consumer Reports, Good Housekeeping, and Hints from Heloise.

For example, there are a lot of luxury items out there where name and branding is everything, since the average John Q. Spender knows nothing about the product and there is ridiculous markup.


When it came to wine, Consumer Reports put their best experts in the lab and tore off the labels. The results is one of the test’s white wine winners costing $5…the Frontrera 2007 from Chile.

Some products also claimed to be bargains or money savers and were junk. Enjoy a list of products to avoid.

Here’s a no-brainer on how to get it…check the latest issue out for free from the Davenport Public Library!