Friday, August 8, 2008

Grandma Mills' Watermelon Rind Pickles - Waste Not, Want Not

Almost a year ago, the News & Observer in Raleigh published an essay I wrote about my grandmother's watermelon rind pickles on the front of its Sunday Journal section.

I thought I'd share the essay and the recipe here with you. If you've never eaten watermelon rind pickles before, you should -- and not just because they're delicious. Here's one food that really pays tribute to the notion of frugality. Once you've finished eating the juicy, ripe melon, you can save the rind and make pickles. Waste not, want not.

I will caution that you should look for a watermelon with a thick rind, which will make your prep work so much simpler and safer. Many watermelons today are cultivated to have thinner rinds -- hence more melon -- but if you're planning to make pickles, you want to pick one with a thick rind.

The Department of Horticulture Science at N.C. State University has some recommendations for the best types of watermelons for making pickles.

I haven't made any watermelon rind pickles this year, but I need to as I don't have very many jars left. Now more than ever, I need to keep this family traditional alive. My grandmother, Nell Mills, who was thrilled last year when the article about her appeared in her local newspaper, died in February. What I wouldn't give to have her back to help me with one more batch.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

A 10-Second Diaper Change

For some reason, Jackson can't stand to have his diaper changed on those hard plastic changing stations that you find in most stores and restaurants.

Maybe it reminds him of the doctor's office, which these days reduces him to hysterical screams.

This makes changing his diapers when we're out very difficult. But another mommy told me about a new kind of Pampers, available only online, that lets you change a wet diaper in 10 seconds. (All bets are off at poop time.)

These Pampers Change 'N Go diapers feature a replaceable slip-in pad that holds as much as a regular diaper. When it's changing time, you just pull out the wet pad and slip in a new, dry one in a slot in the back of the diaper. You can watch a video of a 10-second diaper change at the Change 'N Go Website.

I've not tried these yet, but my friend has, and she gives them a big thumbs up. I'm planning on buying a pack to take with us on outings to the mall, the park and other places where it's difficult to finding a clean and comfortable place to change a wet diaper.

Lately, when Jackson gets wet or springs a leak (as he did last week at AC Moore), I've had to change him standing up in the trunk of my car. That can be tricky, and I can never quite get his diaper on straight or tight enough when we do a stand-and-strip!

Anyone else out there tried Pampers Change 'N Go? If so, did you like them? Should I stock up? Or just buy a few?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Pooling Purchases To Take Advantage of a Coupon

How many times do you stumble across a great coupon but realize you can't use it because you don't need three boxes of Lucky Charms or you can't find $100 worth of clothes you want to buy at Coldwater Creek?

Happens to me all the time, but I've a way to use these coupon and share the wealth with my friends and family. We pool our purchases and share the discount. That way, we're able to take advantage of spectacular deals without spending more than we intended or buying more than we each need.

Need an example?

This week, I received a great coupon for Staples for $40 off a $150 purchase. Well, I'm pretty well stocked on office supplies, but I do need a few things. Just not $150 worth.

However, I happen to share an office with three other women and together we'll be able to use the coupon and share the savings. Depending on what we each buy, we'll either split the discount -- $10 for each of us -- or do the more complicated math and figure out percentages if one of us spends more than the others. Either way, we'll all save a little bit.

My friends and I do this all the time at restaurants. If one of us has a buy-one-get-one-free coupon, we'll all split the savings. Using this method, no one gets their meal for free, but we all save a bit each time we dine out together. And over time, that adds up.

Do you have ways that you share the savings with your friends? I'd love to hear about them. Maybe my friends and I can learn some new ways to save from you.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A Good Couple of Days at the Mailbox

I've gotten a few good surprises in the mailbox these last few days.

Last week -- on the same day, no less -- I received a $5 off coupon for Sur La Table, the cookware store, and a $10 gift certificate to Target, courtesy of Ebates. (Pretty soon, I'll be getting a Big Fat Check from Ebates -- cash back on all my online purchases over the last three months.)

And yesterday, my first refund from Caregivers Marketplace arrived in the mail. I was able to request a rebate for several boxes of Huggies diapers I bought recently. Granted, the check wasn't a big one, but it bought my lunch today.

I've already used my Target giftcard (those don't last long around here), and I'm planning a trip to Sur La Table later this week. The challenge will be finding something there for $5 or close to it. (I love coupons like this one that don't have a minimum purchase requirement. They are just like free money, in my mind.)

I love getting something other than bills in the mail. Wonder what the postman will be bringing me tomorrow!