Make it Yourself

Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There

I first heard that phrase applied to refraining from managing other people’s lives inappropriately, but I find it also works very well in some cooking situations.

Don’t check on the rice! To make good rice, cook confidently. The package tells you how much water per cup of uncooked rice. Put that much water (or broth) in a pot, with a little salt, and bring it to a full boil. Pour in the rice and stir it once to spread it around. Put the lid on tight, turn down the heat to the lowest temperature, and leave it alone. After the cooking time*, take the pot off the heat and still leave it alone. Leave the lid on and let it sit for ten minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.

Now is the time to note any changes for next time. Maybe you like a different texture, so next time cook it less for chewier rice or longer for softer. Experiment with adding seasonings at the beginning of the cooking, so it permeates the rice. To make yellow rice, start with either brown or white rice and add chopped green onion, garlic, celery salt, and turmeric. The turmeric makes it yellow. The onion, garlic, and celery give it the unique flavor. The more expensive packets of yellow rice use saffron as well as turmeric. If you have saffron that’s good, but turmeric is much less costly than saffron and can stand alone in this recipe.


* About 50 minutes for brown rice, about 20 minutes for white.



Adapted Neck Brace

The bones in my neck are pressing on nerves and sending electrical zings into my head. The chiropractor recommended a neck brace. I ordered one on Amazon, but it was too short for my neck. Rather than buy another, I spent $3+ at Walmart on rectangular pieces of Velcro and made an extension.

The brace makes me hold my neck in correct alignment, and provides some support for my big ol’ (brain-filled) head, so my neck isn’t under as much pressure.




Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on in both Kindle and paperback versions.

Kindle preview:


Never Mix Bleach and Vinegar

I knew never to mix ammonia and bleach. Why do they not mention that mixing bleach with vinegar creates the same toxic gas? I’ve been experimenting with all-natural daily shower sprays. They weren’t working, so I thought, why not add a tablespoon of bleach? Luckily I Googled ‘can I mix bleach and vinegar?’ and found out why not.

Never mix bleach and vinegar, or any other acid, including lemon juice.

52 Weeks: Frugal Invitations and Thank You Notes

With better quality home printers and software available now, more couples are designing and printing their own wedding invitations. If you buy enough of the same kind of paper, you can make matching thank you notes as well. One enterprising poster on even made her own paper by re-pulping junk mail. Instructions for this are common on the Internet, including on To find it, type “make paper from junk mail” into the search box. Some are attractive and original.



Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on in both Kindle and paperback versions.

“What I Don’t Have to Spend, I Don’t Have to Earn”

About half the time when I say that to people, they stare as if what they heard me say was, “Erndampt, ag rojabrane.” I’ve tried saying it in different words, but sometimes it just doesn’t fit a person’s mindset.

If I arrange my life so that I don’t have to spend $60 a month on dry cleaning, then at least theoretically, that’s $60 I don’t have to earn that week. Of course when you have a steady and sufficient salary, you’re going to earn anyway. In that case, what you don’t have to spend, you can save up for something bigger that you want, like a vacation or early retirement.

When you’re relying on intermittent and unpredictable self-employment income, and your health isn’t reliable either, not-spending is a wonderful way to handle gaps in income. This is great for people who are retired, disabled, temporarily out of the work force for personal or family reasons, etc…..

If working overtime hours is putting pressure on your health or your family life, perhaps you could not-spend instead of working yourself into the ground.

For hundreds of examples of ways to not-spend (and still live a normal life), see my book, Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely.

Grooming – Shampoo Alternative

A safe alternative to shampoos is to wash your hair with baking soda mixed with water. I have thick hair, so I use about ½ cup of baking soda mixed with about ¾ cup of water. I pour it on several places around my scalp and gently massage it in. I’ve been doing this since 2007 with no ill effects. A partial measure or transitional method would be to add one drop of shampoo to the baking soda and water mix. The baking soda makes a little bit of shampoo super-effective. Color treated hair may lose its color faster when washed with baking soda.

Here’s what Wikipedia had to say about it April 5 2012:

The first synthetic shampoos were introduced in the 1930s, with daily shampooing becoming the norm in the U.S. by the 1970s and 1980s. Proponents of “no ‘poo” practices believe that shampoo removes the natural oils (sebum) produced by the scalp causing the scalp to produce more oil to compensate. They also believe that regular shampooing causes a “vicious cycle” to develop as it becomes necessary to shampoo regularly to compensate for the excess oils (that were stripped by shampooing). According to some dermatologists, a gradual reduction in shampoo use will cause the sebaceous glands to produce at a slower rate, resulting in less oil on the scalp and hair. The time taken to break the cycle after adopting “no ‘poo” practices varies, however a “two- to six-week period” is typical.

My hair took about a week to adapt. The site where I first read about this suggested not making the change during a time when you have a job interview or a big date.

My hair is a bit dry, so I looked for a way to make a moisturizing shampoo. I mixed baking soda and water in a Parmesan cheese container and added a squirt of coconut oil soap from the health food store. The effect was nearly magical. My hair came out more moist and glossy, and without any greasiness.

Grooming – Waxing

Who knew? Homemade wax for hair removal isn’t wax. It’s made of sugar, lemon juice, and water cooked together. To view live demonstrations, search on YouTube for “sugar wax.” One of the demos I watched didn’t use cloth strips. They spread the wax out on their skin and then pulled it off abruptly. One said to apply the wax against the grain and remove with the grain, with the direction of the hair growth.

I cooked two cups granulated white sugar with ¼ cup water and ¼ cup lemon juice on the stove. I brought it to a boil and then simmered it for nearly fifteen minutes before it began to turn golden brown and thicken a bit. Next time I will cook it less, the thinness was deceptive. Once it cooled, it was very thick. It took almost an hour at room temperature to cool enough to use. It looked, smelled and tasted like very thick honey. It needs to be still a little warm when you use it, so it will be pliable enough to spread thinly on your skin.

I put it on and found that it didn’t just pull off like the video I saw, so I pressed a scrap of T-shirt material into the wax. I let it sit a few seconds. Then while holding the skin taut, I yanked it off. It worked! Any leftover wax can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator. Warm it in the microwave to use it again.

So, no more paying money at the drugstore or beauty supply store for readymade wax strips.


Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on in both Kindle and paperback versions.