Recycle Pill Bottles

Thrifty Tips By Gail Lee Martin (first published on eHow)

Recycle Pill Bottles

Recycle Pill Bottles

Many people take medicine prescribed by their doctors. Soon the pill bottles start piling up. There should be a use for something like these containers. They have tight drip-proof lids and most are also child proof.

  1.  To be on the safe side I use tweezers or forceps to dip the containers in boiling water so all medical residue is removed.
  2.  If you are saving money by taking a sack lunch to work, these little containers are ideal for taking mayonnaise, relish or mustard for adding to your sandwiches at lunchtime. This prevents the sandwich from becoming soggy between the time you made it in the early morning or even the night before until you are ready to eat it. Most workplace break rooms have a refrigerator to store lunches.
  3.  You could take a salad to work and place your favorite dressing in a prescription container to add fresh when it is your time to eat. After using the contents just toss the container in the trash or take home and recycle them again.


    Carry a single serving of salad dressing in a recycled prescription bottle.

  4.  I use my print shop to make labels for my recycled prescription bottles. They are easy to wash off and add a different identifying label for the next time you use it.
  5. If you need your pills with you to take at noon, use one of the recycled prescription containers for that. No need to buy a fancy pill case.


    Prescription pills and supplements to take with your meal.

  6.  I also save flower seeds to share with my friends and relatives. Especially my beautiful perennial sweet peas. These small containers are just the right size storing flower seeds. I label them the same way.

    2015-08-14 2015 august 007

    Save your flower seeds to use next season or to give away.

  7. Another handy use for these is to store your sewing machine needles in them. 


I bet Mom would have liked having a label printer like this one.


Gail’s Advice on Picking Wild Berries

(Another article by Gail Lee Martin that she wrote for eHow) During my childhood in the 1930s we picked wild berries along the Cottonwood River in Kansas. It was fun for me, but it also put food on the table. Here’s how to go berrying.

  •  Locate a wild area that you can access without trespassing. We had permission to camp on a farmer’s land by the river. He didn’t want to bother with the wild berries so they were free for the picking.Catfish for dinner
    We would gather mulberries and gooseberries on sunny summer days. These made a good dessert when cooked together to go with the fish that we caught in the Cottonwood River.
  • Be sure the area is free of pesticides or chemicals. If it is next to a farmer’s field, there might be some sprays drifting onto the wild plants.
    Wild blueberries
  • Don’t eat pokeberries!!Don't eat pokeberries!!

    Learn which berries are edible and which are not good. Ask someone to show you which are the right fruit to pick or check in a wild foods book. I’ve provided a link below to find books like that.

  •  Learn when certain types of berries ripen. It changes slightly with the weather, so you may have to check several times to catch the raspberries at their peak. Mark it on your calendar so you’ll remember to check around that time next summer.

  • Poison ivy – keep away from it

    Wear long sleeves and even gloves if you’re picking thorny fruit. Watch out for poison ivy and snakes. Don’t forget the hat and sunscreen.

    Poison ivy - keep away from it

  •  Take a lightweight bucket and start picking. Enjoy lots of cobblers, jams and other berry delights. They are tasty just to snack on too.

Comments on the Article:

momose said on 9/19/2009 – We always carry a “beating stick” for our blackberry picking forays – to beat the bushes a bit first to roust out any rattlesnakes that might be lurking. I’ll bet you have done that, Gail! Five stars for your berry picking tips!

bjs1979 said on 8/21/2009 – mmmm fresh berries. Recommended you and rated 5 stars! Keep writing great articles!
Mindee Lee said on 7/10/2009 – Nothing is better than snacking on a handful of wild berries. Teaching children identification of berries is a crucial point not to be discounted. Thanks for these great and important tips!
kittycooks said on 7/10/2009 – OOO, I love wild berries. So flavorful!  A good tip to watch out for poison ivy!

Depression Era Thriftiness

After Mom’s book came out, a feature in USA Today commented on her memories of feedsack dresses. I’d seen the reporter’s query in HARO (Help a Reporter Out) and put her in touch with Mom. After a phone interview, this was the article published in October 2009.

An article in USA Today by Laura Vanderkam, Grandma's Greener Than You Are.

An article in USA Today by Laura Vandercamp, Grandma’s Greener Than You Are.

It resonated with people, resulting in blog posts like this one by Lisa in Oklahoma.

Here’s the section about Gail (2nd paragraph in the article shown in the clipping above).

Then I read 85-year-old Gail Lee Martin’s recent memoir, My Flint Hills Childhood. During the Great Depression, she reports, companies began selling feed and flour in colorful sacks, knowing full well that cash strapped customers would turn the material into children’s clothes. In her Kansas town “we traded sacks with our neighbors and relatives until we had the required yardage” for dresses, she writes.

Hers was far from the only family reusing what was possible — not because recycling was hip but because the family lacked the means to do anything else. Nonetheless, the result was the same: a lower impact lifestyle than most of us buying organic pajamas can fathom.

Read more about feedsack dresses.

cousins 1937

J is for Junkyard

Tagging along with Dad to the Junkyard

I don’t know why this memory worked its way to the surface this week. Dad didn’t have much time to spend with his children. He worked long hours and often had a long drive to get to that work.

He did his own auto repairs, back in those days before so much became electronic or computerized. When the car broke down, he figured out the problem, bought a used part and put it in himself.

The used parts came from junkyards, so first he had to find a wrecked or defunct vehicle with the right parts in it. Then he removed the part and paid a fee to the junkyard owner. It was labor intensive but probably saved him a lot of money over the years.

A few times, I remember going with him to the junkyards. To a small kid, they were spooky places full of rusting and destroyed autos with the weeds growing up around them.

(previously published on Bubblews October 30, 2014)

H is for Hash and Other Economies

Here’s a story by my sister, Karen Kolavalli, about our mother’s cooking:

“Hash isn’t something I fix very often, but when I do, it always takes me back. When I was a kid, we often had hash, usually the day after an extravagant after-church-on-Sunday roast beef dinner (which is what we called lunch in 1950s and 1960s rural Kansas).

Do you know what hash is? You may be familiar with “hash browns,” but hash is more than that. It’s made up of leftover roast beef that is finely chopped, then cooked up with finely chopped potatoes and onions. You’ve probably also heard of corned beef hash, but in our family it was roast beef. It’s fried in oil until it’s wonderfully crispy. It was served as a main dish and we kids had it with ketchup. 😉 We would have also had a tall glass of cold milk, along with bread and butter. We had a milk cow, so we had our own milk, cream and butter. Mom wasn’t a bread baker, so we had store-bought Rainbow or Wonder bread.

We loved hash, but, or course, it was really my Mom’s way of stretching what little might be left from a roast dinner for a family of 8 into one more meal. The Sunday roast was put in the oven to cook while we went to town for Sunday school and church. Hash on Monday was thrown together as a quick supper after Mom had spent the day doing the wash with a wringer washer and hanging it to dry on the lines outside. With such a large family, there was a lot to wash every week and it took all day.

Before cooking the pot roast, it gets seared in a skillet.

Before cooking the pot roast, it gets seared in a skillet.

Other washday meals might be potato soup, again served with bread and butter and glasses of milk, or beans and cornbread. The dried navy beans would have been put to soak the night before and then cooked all day with an inexpensive ham hock. Cornbread was a quick and easy bread to prepare. Sometimes we’d have breakfast for supper with pancakes and eggs, again quick to prepare, as well as inexpensive, since we had our own egg-laying chickens.

These foods are all very definitely my adult comfort foods during stressful times. How about you? Do you have any special dishes that take you back to your childhood? Foods that immediately conjure up times with Mom and Dad around the dining room table long ago?”

Gail and Clyde with their son Owen and daughter Shannon and son-in-law Larry.

Gail and Clyde with their son Owen and daughter Shannon and son-in-law Larry.

Thanks, Sis, for all the memories this brought back.

D is for Depression Era Cooking

Gail Martin wrote an article for the eHow site some years ago on how to save money with cooking methods from the Great Depression. She grew up in the 1930s, so this is first-hand advice.

Depression Era Cooking by Gail Lee Martin: 

If you want to cut food expenses, consider preparing meals like they did during the Great Depression. There’s even a TV show called Great Depression Cooking with Clara, so low-cost meals are gaining in popularity. Here are my memories of Depression cooking from my childhood days.

Grow your own food. It’s cheaper and tastes better than store-bought food. My parents always kept a big garden, not just during the Depression. We had chickens too and a milk cow. My 84-year-old husband remembers they raised rabbits during those hard times.

Pick wild foods. You can gather wild onions, mushrooms and garlic. Mother picked gooseweed, dandelions, and lamb’s quarter for cooked greens that took the place of spinach. When poke first came through the ground, we gathered the stalks that resembled asparagus and we would boil it in water, then drain and add more water to finish cooking until tender. By adding a white sauce it was very good on toasted homemade bread. Both Mother and Clyde’s mother, Cora used a yeasty sourdough starter they kept on their stove top to make biscuits, bread and pancakes.

Go hunting for wild animals. We had fish that we caught and the crawdad tails that my sister, Melba, and I would find in the creek that ran between the camp and the school. Maybe in your area, you can hunt wild turkey or deer. We heard that some people ate possum and rattlesnakes but we never did.

Store up extra food. Cora made sausage links and wrapped them around and around inside the stone crocks and poured melted lard over them, then stored in the cellar. You may not want to make your own sausage, but stock your pantry with staples when they are on sale.

Consider bartering for food. They did barter with neighbors and family that had other food that we could trade for with our eggs, milk and butter.
Do you have a skill that you can trade to a neighbor in exchange for their home-made bread? How about trading excess tomatoes from your garden for venison that your friend has in his freezer?

Use more fillers in meals like pasta, rice, potatoes and bread. I do remember Mother stretching canned stewed tomatoes by adding a jar of them to cooked macaroni. Her macaroni and cheese doesn’t taste like they make it now. Probably the difference in cheese. Rice was used as a cereal or pudding.

We ate a lot of potato soup with onions cooked with the potatoes like Clara cooked hers on the Great Depression Cooking with Clara show. Mother would make a white sauce and add it as a thickening or made dumplings with flour, baking powder, salt and an egg. Then she dropped them by the spoonful on top of the potato soup covered with a lid and a low fire until she thought they were done. She would never let me lift the lid for a peek. Soups are filling and inexpensive to make.

This is typical of a kitchen from the 1930s. I don't have a photo of my grandmother's kitchen from that time.

This is typical of a kitchen from the 1930s. I don’t have a photo of my grandmother Ruth’s kitchen from that time.

Gail’s Advice on Giving Gifts on a Social Security Income

Proud grandparents

With six children, eight grandchildren, and many great-grandchildren, the Christmas and birthday gift giving can strain the budget. Seniors living only on Social Security must apply creativity in their gift giving to keep it affordable.

Check in your closets – Think about things you have stashed away unused. We no longer decorate a tree at Christmas, but still have boxes and boxes of special ornaments. I can give one to each person on my gift list. I’ll gain some storage space and they’ll gain a family heirloom for their Christmas tree.

Put memories on paper

Put memories on paper – Give a gift of your memories. Write down a special memory of the day they were born or about something you did with them or their parent and print it out or hand write it on nice paper to give them. Slip it in a plastic sleeve to preserve it.

Look at your collections – We collected Norman Rockwell mugs for many years. If we give one to each family member, they will think of us each time they use it.

Make a tasty gift – Make up a batch of your popular candy or cookie recipe and package it up to give to the children and grandchildren. Just a small amount on a paper plate (dessert size) and covered with plastic wrap lets them know you were thinking of them. Attach the recipe to the gift.

A vintage book for a gift

A vintage book for a gift – Look on your bookshelf. Is there a book there that has special meaning to you. Write a note explaining what is special about the book and give it to someone on your list.

(Gail Martin’s article originally appeared online on the eHow website)

Here’s a sample of some comments on the original article:

12/6/2008 A bonus is you don’t have to face the crowds at the mall. Ginger Allain

12/17/2008 This is absolutely one of the best Christmas gift-giving articles on eHow. I LOVE your steps 1 and 5, especially. Even those people not on a Social Security income will benefit from your tips. Thanks so much and Merry Christmas to you and yours! Veryirie

1/16/2011 These are great ideas and you are right. Many of us have unused items that the kids remember and sharing them makes them great gifts. My Christmas shopping is done for next year! Anneliese Hinds