Clip it: Computer fix from the kitchen

A chip clip works to block off your computer camera.

A chip clip works to block off your computer camera.

Worried about someone peering at you through your computer’s built-in camera eye? Don’t mess with sticky tape-and-paper solutions. Just grab a chip clip from the kitchen drawer and pop it over the camera! Easy to remove and easy to remember — just clip it to something else you’re using (like your carry bag or sunglasses strap) to keep it nearby.

(c) copyright 2016 Laura Groch

Thrifty/Nifty: Five easy tips for food shopping

Marking dates on cans and bottles as they come into the pantry helps you keep rotating the older items to the front. Photo by Laura Groch

Marking dates on cans and bottles as they come into the pantry helps you keep rotating the older items to the front. Photo by Laura Groch

We’re well past the holiday hangover, but perhaps still paying the bills for it. I’m thinking we’re overdue for some Thrifty/Nifty tips to help make shopping and managing a kitchen a little easier:

— Look high when you choose  produce, especially when it’s piled high and deep. The stuff at the front, which is within everyone’s reach, is what’s been handled most. Reach farther back, or higher, in the pile to choose a pear or tomato or head of lettuce that hasn’t been bruised and battered by everyone else.

— Remember to look low on store shelves. We naturally scan shelves at eye level, Continue reading

Thrifty AND nifty — finding those perfect odds and ends

Revere Ware pot lids

Two Revere Ware lids are among the potential finds at this local thrift store. Photo by Laura Groch

It’s frustrating to break the glass lid of a Corningware or Calphalon pot, or lose a kitchen utensil to the chaos of the office potluck. But you might not have to lay out big money to buy replacement pieces.

If you’ve got some thrift stores in your city or town, you’d be surprised at the kitchen items you can find there for pennies. Caveat emptor (oh, look it up): The pieces might have some small chips or dings or dents in them that don’t affect Continue reading

Thrifty/Nifty: Six painless ways to save water in the kitchen

water jug, saving water

Fill a jug with water as you wait for it to warm up (or cool down). Use that water elsewhere instead of sending it down the drain. (Photo by Laura Groch)

Water conservation is a big deal right now in California, but no matter where  you live, we can probably agree that no one wants (or needs) higher water bills. Here are a few painless ways I save water in the kitchen that might work for you:

The first tool in my arsenal is an empty milk jug. Next time you empty a gallon milk or orange juice container (or a half-gallon one, whatever), rinse it out and keep it by the sink. (If you have room, keep a couple there.) Next time you need to run the water until it’s hot (or cold), capture that water in the jugs. Use it later to fill pasta  pots, coffeemakers, the dog’s dish, etc. (Or keep a few filled jugs under the sink to add to your earthquake supplies.)

Continue reading

Two simple tips to keep your pantry (or fridge) cleaner

Repurposing lids of various types and depths underneath jars and bottles that tend to drip will help keep your pantry shelves cleaner. Photo by Laura Groch

Repurposing lids of various types and depths underneath jars and bottles that tend to drip will help keep your pantry shelves cleaner. Also, note rubber band around oil bottle, second from left. Photo by Laura Groch

Labor Day now having come and gone, it’s fitting to post something about reducing one’s labors in the kitchen. So, time for a thrifty/nifty pair of hints:

Next time you are ready to toss a jar or container with a sturdy, fair-sized and relatively deep lid, wash it and hang onto it for a while. (Note: Do not save more than three. Just saying.) These make great “coasters” for various bottles and jars that tend to drip and make a mess in the fridge or pantry. Yes, Continue reading

Thrifty/Nifty: Salad and sandwich makers, here’s a way to get it together

thrifty, nifty, consumer help, techniques, time-savers, veggies

All together now: Keep your sandwich/salad players in one container to speed your kitchen preparation. (Photo by Laura Groch)

I make a lot of sandwiches, and a lot of salads. Besides your basic greens, I add a lot of veggies to both: onions, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, radishes. I was forever searching in my fridge for each ingredient, which I had thoughtfully stored in its own little ex-cream cheese or hummus or butter tub.

One day I bought some new containers on sale (of course), in a larger size. Continue reading

Thrifty/Nifty: Think at the sink

It’s official: California is once again in the throes of a drought — our worst in about 100 years. We’re being asked to cut water use. Here’s a simple water-saving tip, no matter what state you live in.

We’ve all been guilty of running water into the kitchen sink as we wait for it to warm up (or cool down, depending on Southern California’s season). Next time you finish the contents of a plastic juice or milk jug — preferably a gallon, but two half-gallons will work too — wash it out thoroughly and then sit it by the sink. (Wash and save the lid, too.) Next time you need hot water, run the water into the jug first. I find that after I fill a gallon jug, the water is warm enough (or cool enough) for me.

Cap the jug and use the contents for other things: Fill your coffeemaker or teapot. Fill the pasta or soup pot. Water plants. Replenish your pet’s water dish. I’m sure you’ll come up with more ideas.  That’s a gallon of water saved, and money in my pocket.

I also stash half-gallon jugs of water in my bathroom cabinets for possible emergency use. (That’s about the only emergency supplies I have, but at least it’s something.) I write a date on them with an indelible marker, and then rotate the jugs every few months. I usually use the water on plants, then refill the jugs, redate them, and re-stash them. Save water, save money, and be a little bit more prepared!