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Using It Up

February 16th, 2014 at 06:21 pm

Thanks for a great idea, rob and CCF!

I am making cupcakes and they are going to be spread with 5 bits of leftover frosting. (Yes, there is such a thing. Some of the frosting was frozen.)

Tonight I served grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup.

My grilled cheese sandwich had leftover feta in it, along with more melty cheese.

The tomato soup was made from leftover marinara, leftover salsa that had chicken cooked in it, a can of tomato paste, roux and water.

The sandwiches got burned and Mr H refused to eat his and made another.

I am going to find a use for the slightly burned sandwich. Any ideas?

Phone Switch?

June 26th, 2013 at 04:56 am

Just wondering who has made the switch from a landline to all cell phones?

We are considering this - we don't get many calls on our land line. I now do most of my long distance calls via cell phone. Originally the long distance calls were to family; now some of our more local friends are considered long distance from our phone.

I have my cell phone on a plan and DH's cell phone is paid for by work on a different plan. We would combine our phones to one plan, and also add a phone for Daisy.

If we cancel the landline we'd also have to do something with the internet which is currently DSL.

I hopped on the internet and was frustrated to find no REAL information provided by my current carrier.

Has anyone here done this type of thing and lived to tell the tale?

Car Fixed . . . Again Using Google

June 9th, 2013 at 04:13 pm

I while back I posted about fixing my car using Google:

Text is http://petunia.savingadvice.com/2009/05/31/youre-crazy-petunia_51390/ and Link is

I didnít actually fix it, but narrowed down the source of the problem and presented it to my car guys. The problem was intermittent and they had tried several ways to fix it that didn't work.

Yesterday the in-car fan in Mr. H's car stopped working. (No defroster! No air conditioner! No air movement in the car, except the 4-60.) Today Mr. H fixed his car using Google. . . and Youtube. He actually did fix it though. Using Google he found car owners of his make and model discussing this problem, as well as some more technical information. He watched some Youtubes and went out and got the replacement part. Installed the part and his fix seems to work.

The part was $50. Iím guessing it would have been $150 to $200 for the car guys to fix it.

A Poem for the Thrifty

June 5th, 2013 at 12:40 pm

Not written by me.

I ran across this in a book in the thrift store, and figured it would be on the internet. Sure enough, it is.

Flour Sack Underwear

When I was a Maiden fair,
Mama made our underwear.
With five tots & Pa's poor pay,
How could she buy us lingerie?

Monograms & fancy stitches
were not on OUR flour sack britches.
Panty waists that stood the test
With Gold Medal on the Chest.

Little pants the best of all
With a scene I still recall:
Harvesters were gleaning wheat
Right across the little seat.

Tougher than a grizzly bear
Was our flour sack underwear.
Plain or fancy, three feet wide,
stronger than a hippos hide.

Through the years each Jill & Jack
Wore this sturdy garb of sack.
Waste not, want not, we soon learned,
Penny saved, a penny earned.

Bedspreads, curtains, tea towels, too.
Tablecloths to name a few.
But the best beyond compare
was our Flour Sack Underwear!

Ruth Gettle
This poem is in the book "The Old-Time Art of Thrift"

I think flour sack undies belong to a different generation; I have never worn them.

Perhaps T-shirt underwear could be the flour sack underwear of this generation. I have put together some of those. You can google if you don't know what that would be. An extra large men's t-shirt for $1 at the thrift store can be turned into two or three pairs.

Like a Bad Staycation

September 1st, 2011 at 02:27 pm

We just weathered a bout of an intense gastro-intestinal bug. Mr H had taken some days off, and we were to go camping with friends. Daisy came down with it first, me the next day, and Mr H the day after that. We were mostly housebound for a week and a half. Ah, frugal family bonding at its finest.

We spent time reading aloud (when Daisy felt up to it - she had it the worst), watching movies, reading quietly, playing board games, doing puzzles and flopping around in the family room. We drank chicken broth, and enjoyed a few days of the finest BRAT diet cuisine together. (If you add rice to chicken broth it's almost chicken soup!) Mr H was less sick; he worked in the yard and took walks when he felt up to it. We also discussed poo every day. We haven't had conversations like that since Daisy was potty trained.

Mr H pointed out that it was kind of like a cheap staycation. We had very little in food costs, we had to buy an extra package of toilet paper, and the water bill will probably be higher. I think I would have rather paid for a camp site and gas to get there.

The Frugal Approach to Lighting

September 27th, 2010 at 09:17 pm

The frugal approach to lighting: sit around in the dark.

In May or so the light fixture over our dining table shorted out. Thatís a time of year we have plenty of daytime (although we may or may not have plenty of light Ė depends on the cloud cover). Mr H removed the old fixture and put caps* on the wires. . I wasnít heart-broken to see it go. The fixture was ugly and had lots of clear glass. No matter how often I cleaned it it always looked dirty.

Weíve been light-less in that area of the house since then. I have spent hours looking for a new fixture Ė local stores, the internet and Craigís list. Due to space (small) and location (two other nearby fixtures) Iím looking for something specific. I really donít want to spend several hundred dollars on a light fixture.

Itís getting darker now and because of that I finally bought a fixture via Craigís list for $5. The seller was nearby and Mr H installed the new-to-us fixture in 10 minutes. The new fixture isnít really the right thing either, but we will get our $5 out of it. Iím going to keep looking for something that looks better in that space.

*Do I know what these things are called? No, not really.

Where'd You Get All Those Coupons?

November 10th, 2009 at 06:18 am

These words were spoken to me - me - by a grocery store clerk the other day.

I am not a coupon queen. I do the bulk of my shopping at a natural foods co-op. I have for decades. It is more expensive than the discount grocery, but I feel that I am feeding my family with a better quality of food, and supporting a local business. (We also buy some of our food direct from the farmer, get some via a wholesale supplier, etc. We have more than one way we shop.)

Over time I've figured out what we eat and how much of it we eat. I've learned how to maximize my dollars there, although there is still room for improvement.

This store offers a 10% member discount coupon each month. It used to be one 10% member discount day per month. When Daisy was a toddler I'd get her out of bed, put her in the car and off we'd go to to the store. I had my grocery list made to go with the aisles of the store, and we'd basically eat our way through the store while I shopped (and filled the cart) as fast as possible.

But I digress.

This month, before heading off, I hopped on-line and hunted for coupons for brands I typically purchase. I found some, and added them to the stack I had from natural foods flyers and newspapers.

I don't think many people who shop there have coupons. But here I was, scrambling to match my coupons with my items as they went past on the conveyor. The coupons saved about $15. Added to the in-store specials and the 10% discount I think I did pretty well. At least well enough to impress the clerk.

It's Mine if I Want It

October 27th, 2009 at 05:56 am

I think.

I had an interview - and I use that term loosely - with the person from the non-profit group who is looking for a secretary. We introduced ourselves and she got right into the details of the job. She had a list of the various responsibilities by month, and for each month she said "Oh, and I also do this" or "I don't do that". She's been doing this particular job for 10 years, and she's so used to it that she's not terribly conscious of the details.

The job has one evening per month during which I'd need to be available to take minutes. The rest of the duties could be done with a more flexible schedule.

Pay is $150 per month. I asked her how many hours she worked per month, and she had no idea. I asked her what kind of a commitment they wanted and she said a year. I asked her if she wanted a copy of my resume and she said no. (Good thing I didn't spend any time updating it! But I might want to do that for the future.) They have no idea who I am, my background, etc. . . and I've only been involved with the social group for a couple of months.

The pay isn't huge. . . but combined with other small opportunities that come my way it would suffice. The family I tutored with is still interested. . . I think things haven't settled down enough for them to have me back.

I will go to the group's meeting in a couple of weeks and make my decision after that.

Reflections on a year of blogging

April 18th, 2009 at 08:50 pm

Well, my blogoversary has passed without much fanfare. I don't post much and I guess I'm kind of a lazy blogger. But even the little I've done in the past year has brought some positive changes in my life.

* While Mr H and I are unlikely to ever be on the same page, we have more productive discussions. I initiate most conversations, but every now and again he'll bring up something related to our financial life. It's progress.

* I've learned that to engage Mr H in almost anything involves stages. First he ignores what I'm saying, then I provoke him**, then he reacts, then I gently tell him that he's reacting and suggest that we look at different options to solve the problem. Then he'll come through. Kind of. It's kind of dysfunctional, but it works better than him ignoring the situation and me finally just solving the problem on my own. (That has been the dynamic for most of our marriage.) Not all of our discussions are this way, but bringing up anything new is.

* We have a budget that balances for Checkbook One. It took several months to get there. It didn't balance, really, for about five years.

* We have a grocery/food budget that balances. We have never spent that little on food. We're eating well. I actually don't mind this part. It's fun to get creative with food, and I have done it for many years. I'm just way more conscious now, trying to use leftovers before they spoil and figure out how to have great dinners with lower cost foods.

* We have an emergency fund, that is designated as an emergency fund. I feel a lot less anxious.

* We have a plan for increasing retirement savings.

Everyone here has been so kind and helpful. I have been so grateful for the support. Thank you all so much!

** Believe me, I really don't want to provoke him. However it seems to be the only way I can get him to engage.

Budget Carpet Cleaning

December 8th, 2008 at 04:15 pm

I'm trying to figure out how to clean my carpet without spending any real money on it.

Our house was a rental before we bought it 11 years ago, and had cheap neutral-colored carpet in all rooms except the kitchen/dining area and bathrooms. We pulled up the carpets in all rooms but one and had the hardwood floors which were underneath refinished about 9 years ago. The family room had plywood under its carpet so the carpet was retained.

The family room has a sliding glass door to the backyard on one wall and a door to the garage on the other. There is a dirt trail on the carpet where we walk. There is a tree with berries in the backyard, and every fall the berries fall off and the berry juice comes in on all shoes no matter how carefully we wipe them. So in addition to the dirt trail there are also dark dots all over the carpet.

I've had a carpet cleaner come in a few times and the carpet looks much better when he's done. Trouble is it costs $60 to do this 13' x 10' room. At a minimum we should have it done twice a year. A few years ago I became convinced that we should pull up this carpet and put down a hard surface and a big rug. Both would be easier to clean than this carpet. I have finally convinced Mr. H of the soundness of this plan. Actually, I think rearranging the family room a bit in a way that forced him to spend more time looking at the dirt trail on the carpet is what did it. It's likely that we'll choose a surface that he can install, cutting the labor down. But it's not going to be done any time soon.

Enter my carpet cleaning attempts:
1) Google manual carpet cleaning (or something similar). Get a list of ideas.
2) Read that hydrogen peroxide can take spots out of carpet. Hey, that stuff is cheap and we have it. Grab the bottle and some cotton balls and start dabbing. Hey, it's taking up some of these spots! Great! Later that evening I realize that I'd created clean, light colored polka-dots on my carpet. Hmm. Well it kind of worked.
3) Read that you can scrub your carpet with a scrub brush, water and a tiny bit of soap and then use a shop vac to suck up some of the water and put old towels on the carpet to absorb more water. Hey, I have all these things! Mr H is in charge of the shop vac though. He goes after the worst of the dirt one day when Daisy and I are out using just water (no soap). Later he shows me his efforts, but notes that there are now dirt stripes where the dirt blob used to be.
4) I go after a part of the rug using a small amount of soap in the water this time. It works! I created a 2' x 1' clean patch on the carpet. Mr. H suggests we clean in a checkerboard pattern.
5) Today Daisy and I went after another spot. We scrubbed, vacuumed, rinsed, vacuumed then toweled a spot. Then two more adjoining patches. Daisy danced on the towels to help pull the water up. Another, larger clean spot was created. I just looked at the clean spot - it has dark stripes in between each section. It's kind of hard to tell where you started and stopped so we missed that part.

I'm not sure how this is really working out. The carpet is looking cleaner in spots. . . but it is a lot of work to do even a small patch. Instead of looking dirty it just looks kind of strange now. But I guess we'll just keep going.