Month: January 2014

Is It True? – Selling Your Long Hair

In the summer of 2012 I was selling stuff. I wondered about selling my hair so I searched the internet. I looked for wig companies that might buy my hair, and none of them would.

So I wondered: if the wig companies don’t want to buy my hair, where do wig makers get the human hair they use?

I found out they get it from religious ceremonies in which Hindus have all their hair cut off, leaving it in the temple. As many as 25,000 people a day sacrifice their hair at temples in India. The temples collect it and sell it to a wholesaler and use the money to help the poor.

I found articles that made it sound as if there is a big demand for hair, with prices in the hundreds to thousands, but where if not wig companies?

I looked for auction sites and found some. There were several sites showing hair for sale with high final bids over a thousand dollars!

www.buyandsellhair.com is an auction-style online site for selling hair. The ad cost me $14.95 for 90 days. To sell your hair on this site you need at least 10 inches that can be cut off. You need up to four good pictures, including ponytail shots to show the thickness, to upload to your ad posting. If you have used no chemicals or dyes you can advertise your hair as “virgin” hair. Some of the ads mention that they take vitamins and eat a healthy diet. Some say they never use heat such as blow dryers or curling irons on their hair, and wash their hair just a couple of times a week. (Apparently daily washing can weaken hair.) Some mention their ethnicity, or that their hair lives in a non-smoking home.

I listed my 25 inches of virgin wavy auburn hair at $500 or best offer. As described in the “Scams” section on the site, several responders were clearly all set to cheat me. Thanks to the warnings on the site, I knew to accept only www.paypal.com payments and to ship by my choice of shipper, not theirs.

I began to get emails. One said, would you be willing to go to a buzz cut?

Why do they care? I’m offering X inches of hair. I didn’t answer that one.

Another said: you’ll get more for your hair if you let the buyer cut it.

Why? Any pro can cut off long hair for sale. I asked, what if they aren’t local?

He replied: the buyer will travel to you or pay travel expenses.

That could be a lot of money – it makes no sense. I stopped responding to that one too.

So I searched more deeply and learned that there is a paraphilia in which fetishists get off on watching a woman’s hair cut off very short, sometimes with her pretending to resist the cut. Buyers who want to watch or video the cut, or meet you somewhere and cut it themselves, are probably fetishists. That’s what the larger payments are for.

In the end I did sell my hair on buyandsellhair.com for $125 to someone who wanted hair, not a hair cutting experience. I know of one person who sold her hair on eBay, to a doll maker. Another sold to an artist making his own human hair brushes.

My experience with trying to sell my hair was what got me started with questioning everything I always assumed about saving and earning money and of course everything I see on the internet. I did my best to test anything I could that I put into my book.

Some things sound great in an article on the internet or in a magazine. Then when you go to do it, it turns out to be more complicated. The folks who write articles are not always given the time and the budget to fully check out everything they’re saying. I learned to take it with a grain of salt and compare it to common sense and my own experience. I use search engines to find out more about the things I read.

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In A Handbasket

“Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.”

This was written by…

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– Socrates, circa 400 BC

Each generation believes that the next generation is uniquely degenerate.

Free Drugs! (Prescriptions, that is)

If you or anyone you know takes Lisinopril (generic of Zestril, Prinivil) for high blood pressure, did you know that Publix gives it away for free? They also give away Metformin oral medication for diabetes, and several antibiotics.  Go to www.publix.com, scroll to the bottom of the screen, and look in the list of Services for “Free Medication”, or ask at the pharmacy counter. There is no low income requirement for this; the medications are free to anyone with a prescription.

Harris Teeter Supermarkets have a similar program. Miejer Supermarkets offer free antibiotics and prenatal vitamins. Price Chopper, Super 1 Foods, Schnucks and United Supermarkets will fill certain antibiotic prescriptions for free. Other stores may do the same; it can’t hurt to ask.

If one of these free medications would do just as well as whatever your doctor is currently prescribing, maybe he or she would change your prescription to one that is free.

If not, maybe your med is on Walmart’s long list of $4 generic prescriptions. If it’s reasonable for your doctor to prescribe a 90 day supply, that only costs $10.  Here’s a link to their list: http://www.walmart.com/cp/1078664?povid=cat5431-env198764-moduleB120712-lLinkFC44DollarPrescriptions.

If that won’t work, check out http://www.goodrx.com, a very useful and well-designed site. It shows you the price of your specific medicine at several pharmacies near you. It also has coupons for your medication at the various stores. This is well worth looking into.

For me now it’s not the drug that’s expensive, it’s the $100 doctor visit to get the prescription. But that’s a rant for another day…

Saving on Water: Washing Dishes

Does hand washing or machine washing dishes costs less? A lot depends on how much water you use when washing by hand. If you leave the water running through the whole wash and rinse process that will use a lot of water. If you run a couple inches of water in each sink or in dishpans and wash and rinse using just that, well, that’s a whole lot less.

You can compare for yourself and know for sure. First find out how much water your machine uses. It will say in the manual or on the manufacturer’s website.

Then wash a comparable amount of dishes by hand and track how much water you use. You can use dishpans or whatever large containers you have and measure how much water they contain. Or, you can use the sink directly and measure the water as you put it in, perhaps by filling a quart pitcher repeatedly and pouring it into the sink.

Luckily you only have to do this tedious stuff once, just to find out the comparison quantity of water. When figuring comparative costs you also have to factor in the cost of buying, maintaining and repairing the dishwasher itself, where hand washing has none of those costs. Hand washing still uses electricity to heat the water, but doesn’t use any to power the washing, nor for drying.

Free Movies

Yesterday I passed a Redbox machine. It had a sign on it saying Free trial offer: text FREETRIAL to 727272. The offer includes 4 DVDs and some other stuff I already forgot by the time I got home. Luckily an internet search found the offer: http://www.redboxfreetrial.com/. Please note that if you don’t want to keep the subscription you have to actively cancel it, it won’t go away on its own at the end of the trial period.

If you want to keep up with their occasional free movie offers and what their new releases are, you can subscribe to their email newsletter at http://www.redbox.com/email.

Their website also says: “For monthly freebies, customers can join the Redbox Text Club by texting REDBOX to 727272. Up to 2 messages a week. Message & data rates may apply. Text STOP to quit, HELP for help.” http://www.redbox.com/facts

My attention span is barely long enough for a half hour TV show, but I might very well try out a movie since it’s free.

Another source of free DVD movies and TV shows is the public library. Mine has hundreds of them. They have newer movies than I thought they would, and I don’t have to remember to cancel anything.

Waste Not…The Frugal Skillet

When it comes to using up leftovers, several sources talked about saving bits of leftovers in a container in the freezer and when there is enough making a soup or stew with it. I tried this. What I learned was that some food flavors just flat don’t go with some other food flavors. Others I have talked to about this said that to them it tasted too “freezer-y”.

So I thought of another way. I developed a standard recipe to use up leftovers. I call it the Frugal Skillet. This is something to make as often as you have enough ingredients for it. Specific leftovers could be frozen in an airtight container for a few days until they are needed.

Start by sautéing whatever kind of onions you have on hand in 2 tsp. oil (or cooking in 2 tablespoons water if you prefer low-fat).

Add garlic if you like it.

Add any leftover or aging vegetables. I’ve used any fresh vegetables that aren’t getting any younger, the last spoon of whatever didn’t get eaten for supper last night, the few pieces left in the frozen package. I also keep fresh or frozen carrots and broccoli on hand to round this out and give it color.

A shake of black pepper

1 tsp. lemon juice

A clump of fresh parsley chopped up. (or a teaspoon or two of dried parsley)

Cook, covered, until the onions are as soft as you like them.

Add a handful of cut up leftover meat, poultry, fish, cheese or beans.

For a starch, add the last of last night’s cooked spaghetti, rice, corn, potatoes, lima beans, or some frozen peas.

Heat through and serve. When I was cooking for more than one person I ate this for lunch regularly and nearly eliminated wasting food. This removes any pressure at suppertime to eat up that last half-serving that you don’t really want.

It’s the onions, lemon juice and parsley that make this not just a bunch of leftovers. I grow parsley on my balcony because fresh just seems to taste so much better. Fresh parsley from the store will keep for 2–3 weeks with the stems in a cup of water in the refrigerator. I prefer fresh lemon juice too. One way to keep that on hand is to squeeze a whole lemon and freeze juice that you don’t need right away in an ice cube tray for future use. These lemon ice cubes are also handy for adding flavor to water or iced tea.

Variations: I made this once several years ago with a leftover fast food burger and fries. I left out the lemon juice, and the bun. I cut up the fries and the meat and cheese and tomato from the burger into a base of onions, parsley, green beans and broccoli. The cheese from the burger melted into a sauce. The dried up fries plumped up into nice bits of potato. This would also have been good with a bit of leftover tomato sauce and maybe some macaroni. Another time I made it with broccoli, the meat from 2 leftover soft tacos, and leftover KFC potato wedges cut up into it. It tasted great. Can you tell that was a month we ate out a lot?

And then there’s Joe’s Special Eggs, eggs scrambled with leftovers. This is good for using up leftover meat or fish or that last bit of cheese. Some vegetables, including mushrooms, onions, tomatoes and peppers, taste good in eggs. I usually add a green onion and sometimes some fresh basil from the container garden on the balcony. I tried cooked carrots and was surprised how good they are in eggs. Beans don’t necessarily go well in this dish. It can be good with a bit of rice, corn, quinoa or cooked potato.

Waste Not… What’s in Your Refrigerator

I just read a darn good post on using up the food you buy instead of letting it go to waste. I say darn good because even after my decades of hands-on research into the subject, the article told me something I didn’t already know.

It said post the grocery receipt on the refrigerator. That will remind you what you bought and when you bought it. They didn’t say, highlight the perishables you want your family to eat up, but that’s a good idea too.

They also said trim and cut up produce right away. I’ve rejected that idea before, because once you cut into something its rate of decay speeds up. On the other hand, last week I washed and cut the celery as soon as I got home, and it really has been more convenient to use it because of that.

They talk about a reality check in terms of knowing exactly what you’re spending on food. My twist on that idea is a reality check on what you’re really going to eat. If your Ideal Self eats lots of fresh produce but the real you doesn’t, there’s nothing gained by spending money on it just to throw it away. Maybe your real self eats baby carrots once in a while. In that case buy a small amount, just once in a while. Alternatively, if you really want to eat lots of produce, add it to your meal plan in a concrete and realistic way, and then stick to the plan.

The article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/karen-cordaway/9-ways-families-can-waste_b_4620970.html?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000729&aolHPFinancialEduJan

Recently I filled a 2-liter bottle with water and rolled it to the back of the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. My main motivation was to save electricity by having the refrigerator closer to full. Things in the refrigerator hold the cold so it uses less electricity to make it cold again after the door has been opened and let warm air in. When it isn’t full of food, containers of water will serve this same function. Another thing it does is prevent food from getting pushed to the back out of sight, where it quietly goes bad, unnoticed.

Here’s a short clip on the subject of not wasting food from my book:

“Bread crumbs can be made by drying bread in a 400°F oven for 10–12 minutes. Then blend or crush it into crumbs. You can add whatever kind of seasonings you like, such as Italian seasoning.

Bread can be frozen. When I used to eat bread and didn’t use it up very fast I would put it in the freezer after the first few days and take slices out as needed. They thaw in just a few minutes when laid out on a plate in one layer. They toast very well also.

Broccoli stems can be steamed or grilled or added to a slow cooker meal. Trim off the tough outer skin and just cook the tender inner part.

Celery keeps for up to a month when fully wrapped in aluminum foil. If it gets limp, cut it into pieces that will fit in a covered container. Add a little water and refrigerate to restore the crispness. Sometimes I skip the foil step and just wash and cut the whole bunch and refrigerate it in a container.

To reuse a cinnamon stick, I found it works to put it in the refrigerator, in an open container so it can get dry and won’t mold. If you put it in the cupboard wet or even a bit damp it is likely to mold. The internet average is three uses. I go for many more, until I can’t taste the cinnamon in my green tea any more.

To use up the last of things like mustard, ketchup, barbecue sauce or salsa, I add water to the jar and shake to get all of it. Then I use it to season an inexpensive, tough cut of meat when braising it. Braising was new to me. First you brown the meat in a skillet. Then add liquid to about half way up the meat. Cook, covered, at very low heat for one to two hours until very tender.

Cottage cheese will stay fresh longer if stored upside down in the refrigerator. So will sour cream and yogurt. The most common estimate is that this method of storage will make them last about a week longer.

Eggs: to see if eggs are still good, put them in water over their heads. If they float they are bad. If they lie down they are very fresh. If they just stand up without floating they are okay. Eggs don’t absolutely have to be refrigerated, but a day at room temperature is like a week in the refrigerator as far as shortening their useful life. Eggs can be frozen. To freeze whole eggs, beat them up and pour into an ice cube tray and freeze. Two cubes is roughly one egg. When you are ready to use them, let them thaw 24 hours or so in the refrigerator. If a recipe calls for just whites or just yolks, you can freeze the part you didn’t need. To keep the texture of yolks you need to add some salt; the ratio is ½ tsp. salt to 1cup yolks. One cube will be roughly two yolks. Beat and freeze. Egg whites can be frozen as is; they are about one cube per white.

Green onions are said to keep well with just the roots in a cup or glass of water. You can set them on a windowsill, or loosely wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator. I tried this twice. Once the onions thrived and the other time they wilted. I don’t know what made the difference, maybe how long they had been on the shelf at the store.

Honey that has crystallized is still safe to use. To make it liquid again, heat it very gently in a pan on the stove, stirring often.

Lemons: if you are just using the juice, freeze the zest. If you’re just using the zest, freeze the juice. Lemons left in the crisper drawer too long may wither. To prevent that, set them in a container of water just deep enough to keep about half of the lemon wet. Set the container in the crisper and the lemons will stay plump for weeks.

Lettuce: wash leaves and place them in a plastic grocery bag on top of a small towel or paper towel. Close the bag loosely but not completely and store in the refrigerator. Romaine is thicker and keeps better longer.

Mushrooms keep best in a brown paper bag. Don’t put them in the crisper drawer; it’s too moist in there. When I’m going to use them within a day or two, I just loosen the plastic wrap on the container they came in, to let air circulate. Don’t soak them, they suck up the moisture and get all soggy. I like to use frozen mushrooms in recipes, they taste more like fresh than canned ones do and frozen mushrooms are less work than cleaning fresh ones.

Nuts and seeds keep really well in the freezer. The high oil content keeps them from getting really hard so you can eat them directly from the freezer without thawing first.

Only need part of an onion? The rest of it will keep better if you leave the root end on and cut off what you need from the other end.

After you’ve eaten all the pickles, make more by thinly slicing peeled cucumber and adding it to the pickle juice in the jar. Use an amount of cucumber that will be completely covered by the juice. Let it sit in the refrigerator for a week or two. Pickle juice is also good as a flavoring in potato salad and as a tenderizer. You can cook pork chops in it or use it to braise a tough cut of meat.”