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Please don't remind me that I'm poor; I'm having too much fun pretending I'm simply "living green" like everyone else these days.


Saturday, July 31, 2010

The fourth R

The fourth R of frugal living is...... RESTORE IT

For generations we have been in a headlong rush to buy, buy, buy.  Better Homes and Gardens magazine once called itself "the magazine for people with BUY on their minds."  That was a number of years ago and I don't know how they describe them self now.  Hopefully, more people are coming to their senses and asking themselves "instead of buying something new, where can I go to find something I can restore to usefulness?"

When my kids were very small, (I only had three children back then) I had a favorite game I played with them.  I called it "let's go to the dump day" which was about once a month when we visited their grandparents.  The dump was just that.  A place were residents in a small country town could take stuff to dump.  Old toys, jars, lamps, or anything they couldn't get rid of otherwise.  My sons found some pretty good metal toy trucks and cars.  A coat of paint and they looked like new again.  I found things like lamps and jelly jars.  The jelly jars were actually drinking glasses.  So many were being produced that many people had started just throwing them away. 

Today's version of "going to dump" is traveling through the alleys on junk days three times a year.  The good items one finds on junk day is dependant on how fast you get there when stuff is set out.  If anything usable is being set out, there is always someone with a second hand store looking for things to sell.  Men and women travel in trucks picking up scrap metal too.

Another version of going to the dump is using Freecycle.  Anyone who wants to get rid of something can post it on Freecycle.  There is almost always someone looking for whatever is being thrown away.  From toys, to clothes, to furniture, to cut up downed trees or old bricks.... someone can use it.

A coat of paint and a little glue to restore an item to usefulness is another way of saving money.

Bugs in the batting

I stopped working on the machine yesterday and started cleaning like a mad woman. The dust and bugs in my studio had to go!

There has been an explosion of bug activity in this area because of the heat and humidity.  Apparently, according to the TV news, the conditions are favorable for a bug population explosion.  My daughter has had lots of brown recluse spiders in her house and has put out stuff to kill them.   I didn't think bugs were a problem for me until yesterday. 

I happened to pick up a wool batting scrap that had fallen onto the floor.  I saw a couple of dark spots in it and wondered.... what the heck is that? 

Barely noticeable bugs in the batting

I looked over the batting and found more dark spots.   Barely noticeable except it's a light cream color wool batting.  The dark spot is actually inside the batting.  At first I thought it was a bit of dirt or something left in when it was made.

Bug down inside the batting

I got out a pair of scissors to cut out the offending dark spots.  What did I discover?  Bugs and egg sacks!

Batting cut away to reveal the bug and egg sack

The darned things look like a type of black beetle and the egg sacks are brown. 

Batting cut away to reveal the bug

I looked at every batting package I have stored under my quilting machine.  There were bugs in only the wool batting.  Nothing in any of the other ones.  The plastic package did have air holes so the bugs could have gotten in through those.

Bug sack inside the unopened package of wool batting

I threw away 6 packages of wool batting.  Three king, 2 queen, and 1 twin sized.  I hated throwing money away like that but it had to be done.  No way do I want a bug haven in my house!  I did call Quilter's Dream just to check to see if there had been any complaints.  They were very concerned but there have not been any complaints.  I have also had the wool batting for over a year.  The bugs could have come from anywhere. 

I hate creepy crawlies!  Thinking about them make my skin cringe.  So, instead of finishing a quilt, I cleaned and cleaned.  I will check carefully every batting before using it until all the batting has been used.  I don't plan on storing batting anymore.  It's easier to just order as needed because there are so many types these days. 

If anyone reading this post has any older packages of Quilter's Dream wool batting please check it before using it.  If you do find bugs in your batting, please give Quilter's Dream a courtesy call so they know. 

Friday, July 30, 2010

A me-me quilt finished

Ok, I finished the quilting on this one.  It's a me-me quilt because I kept hearing it say.... Me! Me! Quilt me next!  I should have ignored it and did something else.

I'm not happy with the quilting.  I like the design.  Not my thread choices.  The dark side of the block has stitch in the ditch so it doesn't show.  It's the light side that bothers me.

Scrappy log cabin window quilt

The more I stitched on it, the less I liked the threads.  It was too late to do anything about it.  I was not about to pick the whole thing out and re-do all the stitch in the ditch quilting.  I keep forgetting to not use dark threads on light fabric because that's what bothers me. 

Four colors of thread make the stitching design

In my mind dark thread on light fabric will look good but when finished my eyes don't like it.  That contradiction doesn't make sense to me even though that's what happens.

Dark thread on light fabric shows all stitching flaws

Dark thread on light colors of fabric show every teeny, tiny stitching flaw.  That's what really bothers me.  Seeing all the imperfections of my stitching.   This definitely will not win a ribbon in the fair.  It will make a really good window quilt though.  A constant reminder for me to stay away from dark threads on light fabrics.  At this point all I can say is.... done is good. 

The next quilt is on the machine and waiting on me.  It's going to be difficult to quilt because it has minky fabric for the backing.  If a machine quilter is not very careful, minky can become distorted while quilting it.  I do load it with the sides with the least stretch attached to the leaders.  Still, it may have too much stretch for the cotton fabric that is to be the front of the quilt.  Luckily, the owner has chosen to have a very simple panto quilting done on it.  It should make the quilting a little easier to do and prevent distortion.

Freezing eggs

I had some eggs to freeze again.  This time I remembered to take photos for those who asked about it the last time.  I hope no one has been waiting for these instructions. 

For each cup of eggs add either 1/2 teaspoon of honey for eggs to be used in baking or 1/2 teaspoon of salt for eggs to be used in other ways.  

2 cups of eggs to be frozen

Gently mix the eggs to incorporate the salt or honey.  I use a fork for mixing so it doesn't add too much air to them. 

Eggs gently mixed together

Pour into ice cube trays and flash freeze.

Eggs ready to freeze

Pop the egg cubes out of the tray and put into a freezer bag.  Be sure to mark the bag whether the eggs are for baking or for other cooking so you know which is which.  Two cubes equals one whole egg.

When these are frozen I will use the trays to freeze some egg whites only.  No need to put salt or honey in whites only.  I plan to use some of the yolks to make egg custard..... or something. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Handyman books found

I happened to be looking for a recipe book today and came across my handyman books.  Both are a little outdated but still very useful for understanding how to make repairs.  This one is the best because it has far more projects in it, including small appliance repairs and furniture repairs.  It has tons of pictures and diagrams in it.  Even if you don't want to do the repairs yourself, it's a great reference book to understand what's involved if you hire someone to do it for you.

This one is newer and doesn't go into as much detail or have as many projects as the first one.

I believe I have another handyman book someplace.  A much older book. 
I think a good handyman's book around the house should be a part of any emergency preparedness plans.  What if the heat goes out in the middle of the night, on the coldest night of winter.  In my opinion, I would look rather silly calling a repairman and paying very high rates only to find out the batteries needed changing in my thermostat.  That's what happened a couple of years ago.  I'm so glad I looked in my handyman's book before calling for a heating repairman.  That night the money I saved more than paid for the price of the books.

Lost and found house

I'm constantly loosing things in my house.  A clear sign.... I've got too much stuff for the space I have.  Things always show up days or weeks later when I'm not really looking for them.  That's why I call my house the lost and found house.  Usually I simply say the gremlins hid it.  I mentioned this book a few days ago on my hints blog.  Not really thinking about finding it, I came across it today while looking for a recipe book.

I'm still working on the quilt I showed yesterday.  I got the dark side of the log cabin blocks finished with simply stitch in the ditch.  Today I'll work on the light side with a design in color threads.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A creative day for myself

I decided there is enough time to do a couple of things for myself instead of starting right away on the next customer quilt.  I'm trying to stay with a mixture of both mine and customer work.  This one will eventually become a window quilt for the side by side windows in my studio.  I want it to be my fair entry first though.  I got it stabilized and today I'll work on getting it quilted.  I'm not sure what design I want to quilt on it yet. 

Sometimes I like to experiment using scraps I've got left over from other projects.  Sometimes the experiment goes wrong.  This was made from some leftover flannel.  I thought surely there was enough to do one rug.... apparently not. 

I can probably buy enough flannel to finish that one area.  It shouldn't take over 1/4 yard of each color.  I kind of like the look and feel of it.  I'm thinking if I'm going to buy more flannel anyway maybe I will buy enough to do a matching bathmat rug.  Although, in my opinion, this technique is fairly difficult.  I'm not sure I want to take on another difficult task right now.  I'll think about it for awhile before deciding.

I received a new batch of cardboard boxes.  Yippie!  These pieces should keep me supplied for quite a long time.  There is more there than it looks.  I got them all cut apart into flat pieces so they are easier to store.  I would love to have about a month of nothing to do but play with cardboard all day long. 

The same people who brought me the cardboard also brought me more upholstery samples.  They have the most fantastic fabric.  I see art instead of samples.  I have some ideas for these..... but when, when am I going to have time to play with them?  Not enough hours in the day.

Time for creating and time for work don't always play nicely together.  Add in living a frugal lifestyle and time really becomes a precious commodity.  Achieving balance is the hardest when there are so many DIY projects fighting for my time.

The third R

The third R of frugal living is..... REFRESH IT

To refresh something is to give it new life instead of tossing it and buying new.  Whenever something in your house starts to show signs of wear and constant use; ask yourself, "Is there some way this item could possibly be refreshed?"  For example, the fabric arms on your couch are getting worn and showing signs of use.  Could you make some pretty arm covers instead of getting a new cheap couch?

A few months ago I made this cover for my Gammill chair.  The chair was fine except for showing signs of age with a rip in the upholstery.  Now it has been refreshed to keep being used as intended.

When my husband and I first married we moved into an older rental house.  The house had linoleum floors in a pretty pattern.  It looked like stones with black grout between them.  That floor was fine and looked really nice in all areas except in front of the sink, the stove, and down a hallway where it was showing signs of wear.  The grout lines were fading from all the foot traffic in those areas.  The stones looked fine.    I took a permanent marker and redrew the grout lines.  Two years later when we moved, the grout lines were starting to show signs of wear again.  I redrew them before we turned in the keys.  I had refreshed that linoleum flooring.... twice.

Refreshing is just slightly different than repairing.  In repairing I would have patched the chair instead of making a cover.  In refreshing the floor I drew the lines but in repairing I might have looked for matching linoleum to patch it in.  Get the idea?  Refreshing something is more like making it look clean and new again.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Away all day

My daughter had her first yard sale yesterday so I was there all day.  She did pretty good for no advertising and not many items to sell.   She just put out some signs on posts the day before.

She found out the neighborhood has a community yard sale twice a year so next time she might do better.  The next one is in September. 

She asked me if I knew what these little things in her mulch were.  I don't know.  I've never seen them before but apparently they are some type of mushroom.  It's a good thing Ladybug is not too adventurous.  I'm afraid these are poisonous.  I think next spring my daughter should replace the mulch with rock or something that won't be dangerous.

I was surprised I spent the whole day outside despite the heat.  I could have gone inside if I had wanted but I really didn't feel uncomfortable setting on the porch where it was shady.  I got to meet several of her neighbors.  It's really a nice neighborhood.  I sure wish my neighborhood was half as nice.

The second R

The second R is...... RE-USE IT

In order to live well, in these uncertain economic times, you should be asking yourselves  "What are we in the habit of throwing away after one use that could be used again?"  The more times you can re-use something the more money you can save. 

My grandmother used to say  "She who doesn't throw away, can re-use it another day."  If you think about it, our grandparents and great grandparents had very few disposable items.  Grandmothers would can their own foods so the jars were used over and over.  Disposable dishes were unheard of back then.  Use once and throw away was a concept our ancestors couldn't have imagined.  I think they would have been horrified at the thought of disposables.

I know we are limited by the manufacturers in what packaging they choose.  If we want the product we must buy it in the container they choose to sell it in.  We have no control over that.  What we can do is choose to limit our own choice of what we use.  Washable dishes instead of foam plates to throw away.  Use cloth hankies instead of kleenix.  Cloth napkins and cloth hand towels instead of paper. 

I'm not saying we should all go back to living a colonial life but we can make conscious choices about how much we contribute to landfills.  Personally, I would like to see grocery stores go back to using paper trays for meat and deli items instead of foam and plastic.  Paper bags instead of plastic.  At least the paper won't last a thousand years in a landfill.  Metal is recyclable and so is glass providing more is done to recycle it.  Newspapers, phone books, and cardboard boxes can be recycled into paper bags instead of cutting down trees.

Look around your house to see what items you use once and throw away.  For example; do you have a vacuum cleaner with a paper bag?  Cut open the folded end, empty it, fold back and secure it with paper clips so you can empty it several times before tossing.  One bag can last a year or longer. 

I once bought a mop and mopping cloths for an experiment.  I realized I didn't like the mop because it was too heavy with a bottle of liquid on it.  I could have thrown the cloths away because they are made to be tossed.  I hated the idea of using something once and tossing it so I decided to experiment with washing them.  It worked!  I've washed them several times now and they are still good.  A little ragged on the edges but still functional.  I use them on my regular swiffer sweeper.  Either for dusting or for damp mopping.  Each time I wash these to use again.... I save the cost of buying more.

The idea is to find a way to reuse what you can, as often as you can.  You will save money.  Money that can be used to pay down debt or save for a special occasion.  Hmm.... wouldn't you rather use the money to have a nice vacation instead of spending it a little at a time for disposables? 

Let me give you a mental picture to think about.  Have you seen the tv commercial of the woman going to the grocery to buy meat.  She tells the man to give her a few pounds of something.... but says wrap only half of it and toss the rest in the garbage because that's what she will do anyway.  If you haven't seen it yet, watch for it and think about this example.

  If you bought one pack of foam plates ($3), 2 rolls of paper towels ($2), and one pack of plastic cups ($2) per week, every week.  That's $7 a week.  Granted, that doesn't sound too bad, after all you can afford it right?  The convenience is worth the $7 a week.  But if you really think about it, that's $364 a year. 

Now add another $2 for napkins, $4 for mopping cloths, $2 for plastic forks and spoons, and $2 for baby wipes per week.  Now you are spending $17 a week or $884 a year for disposables.  In other words.... you would be throwing away $884 a year

Would you really take 8 one hundred dollar bills and 8 twenty dollar bills and toss them into the trash?  That's what you are doing when you buy disposables.  Think about the real cost of all your disposables next time you put them in your shopping cart. 

Hmm... while sitting here trying to think of some disposable items to use for the example I remembered coffee filters and tea bags used to be made of cloth.  Did you know that?  They were used and washed to use again.  Gosh, I hadn't thought of those in years and years.  I use instant coffee but if I went back to using ground, I would make some cloth filters.  For tea we put a bit of tea into a little bag with a drawstring top.  To empty and wash, we turned them inside out. 

Even before the days of cloth filters, none were used.  Coffee grounds and tea floated in the water.  They would settle in the bottom of your cup so you were drinking only the liquid.  I think maybe that's where reading tea leaves in cups got started.  A game to find a use for leftover tea in cups.

Ok, I've type-talked long enough today.  Think about what I've said.  Is there some disposable items you can do without?  Can you find ways to RE-USE instead of tossing?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The first R

The first R of living frugal is..... REPAIR IT

Glue, duct tape, and string will fix many things.  At first glance you may look at the broken knob on the crock pot and think to yourself..... ok, time to buy a new crock pot.  Well, a little thread wrapped around the broken pieces of the knob, add a little glue to the thread, let it set to dry, you now have a knob as strong as it was before it broke.

In fact, with glue and a few other things, you can fix almost anything around the house that breaks.  If you set your mind to it, with the help of a good handyman's book, you can make almost anything last for a very long time.  Just because something broke (the day after the warranty ran out) doesn't mean you must replace it.... repair it instead! 

If you think about it, there are very few things around the house that can't be repaired.   What comes apart can be put back together.  All quilters know basically what that means.  We cut apart perfectly good new fabric just so we can sew it back together again.  What really can't be put back together, to use as it was, can often be put to use in other ways.

A handyman's book of how to do simple home repairs can show you how to repair things around the house.  A good handyman's book should have chapters on all the main maintenance crises that can arise in the average home.  It should have good pictures with diagrams and clear instructions.  You should be able to lean heavily on it for fixing what breaks.  I used to have two handyman's books.  I haven't a clue where they went.  Probably down in a box at the bottom of a closet right now or given away in a fit of "get rid of the stuff" rampage.  I may order some replacement ones from amazon if I can't find them.  If you don't want to invest in a couple of good handyman's books.  Check with the county extension office.  They usually have free pamphlets to send you on any subject you may be interested in.

After you've mastered the fine art of gluing, consider the washer.  No, not the machine.  You know that round rubber thingie that keeps wearing out and the faucets begin to drip.  I admit, this is one repair I've never mastered but I'm going to.  Get a box of assorted sizes from the hardware to keep with your tools.  That way you will always have some handy.  Repairing a leaky hot water faucet as soon as it happens can save a lot of money.

Repairing stuff to make it last longer also includes clothing, purses, and shoes.  I once knew a lady that would throw out anything that got a small rip at the seams or had a pin head size stain spot on it or lost a button.  She refused to learn how to sew on a button or fix a seam.  A tiny spot of stain that wouldn't come out and she thought it was horrible.  I'm talking tiny, tiny stain or rip.... often in places where others shouldn't be looking in the first place.  I'm sure our ancestors would be horrified at the amount of stuff we put into a landfill simply because it broke or got a stain or became last year's fashion.  I keep a box of buttons handy although I have no clothing with buttons at the moment.  I remember my grandmother's button box.  It was fantastic.  I spent hours and hours looking at all the pretty buttons.  Ladybug now plays with my button box and appears to be just as fascinated with mine as I was my grandmother's button box.

Sometimes shoes can be repaired with a bit of glue to put it back together and some polish to brighten them up.  My daughter used to be so embarrassed by my 12 year old sneakers.  She's a shoe person and has dozens of pairs.  I had two pair.  One was the sneakers and the other was sandals I wore in warm weather.  As long as I could use shoe polish and some glue to keep those shoes looking half decent.... I saw no reason to replace them.  If my daughter hadn't got rid of those sneakers, without my knowledge, and bought me a new pair with her own money, I'd probably still be wearing them in cold weather.  When I was a child I got one pair of shoes for winter.  Summers we went barefoot.  In the summer we had to be very careful to avoid the cow pies when it was time to milk the cows.  Eeeewwww!  Squishy, squishy.

Stains or tears in clothing can be repaired with a patch if it can't be fixed any other way.  Patches should come back into fashion in my opinion.  When I was a child my grandmother would go to the rag bag to find fabric suitable for patching the knees of my breeches or the elbows of my shirts.  My undies were made from flour sack fabric, thin to begin with, often got holes from washing with lye soap.  My grandmother patched those holes with flower shaped patches and some crochet lace.  I thought it special to have undies with flowers on them.

Living a frugal life should include learning to make repairs before tossing something out.  Anyone who has lost their income, or is in fear of loosing it, should learn to fix things.  It may be a long time before our economy is normal again.  You will want to hang on to what you have for as long as you can.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The five "R"s of frugal living

Remember this saying?

Use it up;
wear it out;
make it do;
or do without. 

It was a saying that came to be chanted during the great depression and continued through the shortages of WW11.  Almost everyone has heard of it.  My grandmother taught it to me.  I guess you can sort of tell that my grandparents were financial heroes to me.  I loved the way they lived and have tried over the years, from time to time, to live the same way.  I kept falling for the hype of spend, spend, spend until I came to my senses and tried to go back to the old ways.  In my latest venture to seek a less complicated life; my grandparents are more on my mind than usual.  Maybe it's true that as we get older we do go back to our youth. 

Anyway, my grandmother also taught me the five "R"s of being frugal.  I've decided to share those five Rs in this blog.  Some people will recognize the 5Rs while others may not have given them much thought.  Before I start sharing those 5Rs let me talk a little about history.  History of the frontier days. 

In frontier days there weren't all the modern conveniences of mega stores and mega malls.  Almost everything they used was made right at home.  Animals were raised to provide food.  When they butchered an animal they saved the tallow for making candles and soap.  The hide was saved to make saddles, shoes, and other items.  They sheered their own sheep, carded the wool, spun it into yarn, and knitted it into stockings, mittens, sweaters, scarves, and caps.  The family loom was kept busy weaving materials like cotton to be made into dresses, shirts, pants, and diapers.  Houses, barns, and sheds were made from whatever material was available to build with.  It could be mud, sod, stones, wood, or even digging into the side of a hill. 

Very little was wasted because the people knew how much hard work went into producing it.  I don't think you would have found our ancestors filling up a landfill with last year's fashions.  Especially when the clothes they wore might have taken months and months to make.  A year of waiting for the cotton to grow or the sheep to grow more wool.  Weeks of carding and then the spinning and weaving.  Next the careful cutting and sewing to make a garment.  Grandma would have been horrified to see all that work tossed aside like it was nothing.  Grandma would have saved the worn out clothes to be cut into usable pieces to make a child's outfit or cut it into strips to make a rug or a warm quilt.  Even flour sacks were saved to make undergarments.

Grandpa would have tanned the hides; made the shoes or saddles; dug the potatoes, carrots, and beets from the garden; stored them in the earthy smelling root cellar; and if he couldn't make the house comfy during the winter he had no one but himself to blame for not cutting enough firewood.

Life was harder in some ways back then; but, they had the satisfaction of creating things with their own hands and using their ingenuity to provide for the needs of the family.  Everyone in the family helped with the work.  Boys learned the farming skills from their fathers.  Girls learned the hand working skills and cooking skills from their mothers.  Children were taught to do their part of the work as soon as they were old enough to walk.  Children didn't set around vegetating, they learned to grow vegetables.  Even a very young child could learn to toss a handful of corn to the chickens and gather the eggs. 

Gradually, families started moving off the farms into cities.  They no longer had to use the farming skills they knew.  There were no occasions to teach the skills to the children or to the children's children because none of it was done anymore.  So the skills are forgotten (or never learned) by those of us today. 

I believe, with the world's rapidly expanding population and dwindling supply of natural resources.... and because many of us are tiring of plastic manufactured products that all look the same..... many of us may want to relearn some of the old skills.  Of course we can't all go back to raising sheep and dipping candles but we CAN learn to live a more simplified life.  Most likely we can't set up in a weaving loom in the spare bedroom to weave our own cloth; but, we can learn to reuse the clothes we were planning to toss out.  Girls.... and boys.... can learn the skills of the 5Rs. 

The tv news is not good.  Right now the powers in government are trying to decide whether to extend unemployment benefits to the millions out of work.  History repeats itself.  Isn't that what the government did to get people back to work during the depression?  They started the WPA project.  Their version of unemployment benefits.  Well, in my opinion, their version was better than unemployment checks.  At least the people had to actually "work" to get the money.  I believe if the government of today were to set up a new WPA fixing things like roads and sewer lines and electric lines it would do more for the economy than just handing out more checks.  BUT, who is going to listen to me?  I'm just a little old lady with a goal.  My voice won't carry all the way to Washington and it certainly won't land at the ear of the president.

Ok, I'm getting off subject.  I guess it's time to go put some of the things I want to do....to actual use.

Another one finished

This one is done.  It's very large.  The backing is a king size sheet and just barely fit the top.  I didn't have more than 1/4 inch clearance on the sides for the clamps.  There was a lot of extra fullness on the borders.  I forgot to take a picture of it laying on the table.

Here is the block design from the front. 

The block design from the back.

The sashing from the front.

The sashing from the back.

The outside borders from the front.

The outside borders from the back.

The outside border corners from the front.

The outside border corner from the back.

I was given permission to remove the last outside border if I needed to do it.  I was told this will be the last quilt top this person makes so I wanted to keep it in tact.  Even though it meant extra work for me.  She is 90 years old.  There were lots and lots of stops and starts in the designs.  I also treated all the outside borders as one to make it easier to quilt the extra fullness into it without major tucks.  I stitched a design I believe will look just as pretty if the quilt is used upside down. 

I did finish the apples too.  I froze half and put the other half in the dehydrator.  I thought about making applesauce but I just didn't want to pull out the canning equipment. 

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Life away from quilting

The quilt on the machine is almost finished but I need a day for other things.  The quilting design has lots of stops and starts.  A friend brought me these yesterday.  Today I want to get them cut up and preserved in some way.  I'm not sure if I want to can, freeze, or dry them.  I just don't want to let them go to waste.  That could happen if I don't take the time necessary to do something with them.  Quilting will have to wait.

I also got this in the mail a couple of days ago.  It came from a customer in SC.  I immediately sat down to eat some of it.  Yummie! 

I've been working on some posts for my hints blog and my cardboard blog.  Writing takes time.  Doing the steps in order to take the photos takes time.  Time not spent quilting.  That means less to post about on this blog.  I'm about to get my day started.  I'll post photos of the finished quilt probably tomorrow.  Providing I get a few things around the house done first.

My daughter called me yesterday to say she finally got around to reading my hints blog.  She says she knew, but I don't believe she realized for certain, that mom has a sense of humor when she writes.  She told me she even sent the link to her friends to read it.  Thanks babygirl!

Corn cobs, firewood, and oats

When my grandparents got married, they moved into a one room log cabin home.  Yes, the genuine thing.  They later built another house just down the hill.  When my grandparents married, horses and wagons were the mode of transportation.  You have to realize that this was in the backwoods of Western Kentucky right around the turn of the century.  (1900, not our current century) 

When Papa (Grandpa) needed fuel to heat the house he went out to the woods and cut down some old trees or picked up coal laying around on the ground.  It was coal country after all.  During cold weather months, Mama (Grandma) was always up early to fire up the wood kitchen stove so she could cook biscuits, pancakes, bacon, eggs, and start a roast or stew for the day.  She would throw in a few corn cobs to get the fire going really fast and to heat up the kitchen.  There were tons more corncobs out in she shed; and every year, after the corn shelling, she had a new supply. 

When Papa and Mama went to town to sell eggs, butter, and cheese; which gave them enough money to buy coffee, sugar, flour, and a few other things they couldn't produce on their own land; the horses ran on hay, corn, and oats Papa grew himself. 

Today, we depend on electricity, gas, and oil as fuel.  It's too bad that coal, gas, and oil can't replace themselves like corncobs, firewood, and oats.

Let me ask you a question...... What would you do if your income disappeared today?  The reason it disappeared doesn't matter.  The question is.... what would you do?

Most of us have been raised bombarded with the idea to spend, spend, spend.  Our economy depends on it.  We hear it on the news almost everyday now.  Our economy and our government wants us to start spending again so this recession/depression can be over and people will go back to work.  They tell us that spending will create jobs.

We have been encouraged to consume as much as possible to make jobs for everyone.  Eat!  Drink! Drive your gas guzzle car! Buy a house you can't afford!  Buy everything you can with a piece of plastic that guarantees you are giving up your future paychecks to keep the economy going!  Buy disposable whenever possible! Consume! Consume!  A person is made to feel almost guilty if they aren't out spending money so the economy will survive.

I think those days have passed.  Our suppliers of energy can't go on doubling every decade.  The race to produce more oil has created disasters none of us could have imagined a  few years ago.  The news has had the oil spill in the gulf for weeks.  Yesterday I heard that China also has an oil leak off their shore.  Can we go on destroying our world this way?  Have we now entered a time of scarcity? 

So.... what would you do?  Suddenly you have no income.  How will you react?  I'm sure some will refuse to admit they have a problem and continue living as they did before by putting the cost of everything onto a piece of plastic. Some may have experienced a sudden loss of income before and know they must survive on government assistance until there is a new income.  While still others, those who live in impoverished areas, won't notice a big difference other than it's a new adventure in survival.

Ok, so you haven't lost your income just yet.  But in today's economy, can you be sure you won't?  No one can be sure.  Not even the owner of a business can be sure his/her income will continue.  It's better to prepare for it so it doesn't suddenly jump right up and slap you in the face.  Let me leave you with a few questions to ponder.

Can you make the changes necessary to live like your income won't be here tomorrow?
Can you stop thinking in terms of increasing your standard of living to keep up with the Jones'?
Can you tell yourself; "This is enough! I have enough gadgets and appliances."?
Can you tell yourself it's no longer true that "there's more where that came from" and live with less?
Can you cut down on conspicuous consumption and being so concerned with making a big impression?
Can you make a statement to manufacturers saying you no longer want to buy planned obsolescence, you want goods that will last?

If you adopt a simpler way of life, while preparing for a possible loss of income, you may embark on an adventure that enriches your life as well as those around you.  You might just realize that less is better.  You might realize the fewer possessions you have, the more time you have for neighborliness and friendliness. You might just discover your conscious feels better when it isn't trying to race to grasp so many worldly goods around you.  You may find that simpler living has fewer pressures.  You might just figure out a home a little less hot in the winter and a little less cold in the summer actually feels good.  You might find you will feel more relaxed, healthier, and not living so much for your "stuff" has it's own set of rewards. 

Think about the question again.  What would you do if your income disappeared today?  What would be your action plan to survive until you found another source of income? 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Back at work

The medications I've been on have had me sleeping around the clock for the past 3 days.  I've gotten out of bed only long enough to drink something so I would stay hydrated.  The doctor did give me warning the medications would make me sleep and she was very right. 

I ventured out yesterday evening for a short walk around my yard.  I need to get my strength back before I do too much.  I did get a second harvest from my little square foot garden.  These were for dinner last night. 

I also discovered I had a few visitors in my kitchen.  I thought my stove was clean but apparently there is something on it attracting these.  They are so tiny it's really hard to see them. 

I put out something I hope they find more attractive than my stove. 

This is what the sky looked like just after my walk around the yard.  It looks worse than it was in my area.  We got lots more rain during the night and this morning than we got from this.  It passed through quickly leaving only a sprinkle.

I'm getting back onto the quilting machine for a little while today.  

Friday, July 16, 2010

Feeling better

I did go to the doctor.  I guess I bragged too soon about not getting sick once since I announced my retirement. I can't say that anymore.  What I thought was the weather causing me to feel bad turned out to be another bought with bronchitis.  I can't figure out how I got it this time.  I don't remember being around anyone sick lately.  Not even Ladybug.  I got a prescription for antibiotics to help clear it up and I should be my old self again in a couple of days. 

Wind up light

I have been hearing about these flashlights for quite awhile now but I'd never really seen one.  I guess because I really hadn't been looking for them.  The way these work is you turn the crank on the back to charge up the light.  You get a certain number of minutes of light depending on how long you crank it.

When I happened to see this on a discount table I figured it worth the cost to buy it.  The frugal person inside me thought.... ah ha!.... no more batteries to keep charged up in case of a power outage.  Saving on electricity and the cost of rechargeable batteries. 

The original cost was $17.99, discounted to $10.79.  I was surprised at the register when it rang up at $5.39.  Not bad considering I hadn't been looking for it in the first place.  There are also crank radio/light combinations that work the same way.  The radios were not discounted.  Probably because more people want the radio/light combination than just the light. 

I like this technology.  What I really want to know is why there aren't more items made using it?  Or maybe there are and I just don't know about them?  In today's time of buzz words like "reduce our carbon footprints" or "go green to save the planet" why is this technology not becoming new buzz words?

Think about how much electricity could be saved all over the country if household appliances would run on crank technology.  Need coffee in the morning?  Crank the coffee pot.  Want to mix a cake?  Crank the mixer and start mixing.  Need to use the vacuum?  Crank it up and start vacuuming.   Want to watch tv for awhile?  Crank up the tv and your ready to go.   There are endless possibilities if the crank technology is taken seriously enough to Energize the Bunny crew to create new products.  Here's to hoping they keep going! 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ahhh chooo

The sneezing can be very aggivating.  I sneeze about 15 times an hour.  Then the itchy watery eyes annoy me too.  I need another day of rest but I have an appointment this morning.  I'll rest this afternoon.  There's not much to post about when I'm not getting anything done.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I gave up using coupons to buy groceries several months ago.  The coupons have become so useless to me that it's hardly worth looking at them anymore.  Very few coupons are on items I find practical in my quest to go back to basic frugal living.  In the past coupons were much more useful.  Anyway, every once in awhile, I look at the coupons to see if there have been any changes.  Some coupon ads have me laughing out loud.  Like this one.  Isn't he cute with his false teeth?   Who can resist a giggle at that face?

Other ads have me wondering.... What are they thinking?  The person who owns the towel in this picture seriously needs to either get their washer repaired or else have everyone in the house go back to hand washing 101.  If washing their hands is leaving this much dirt on a towel, their technique is all wrong. 

 Hmm.... maybe they need to change the soap they are using because it apparently isn't working?  Well, something is wrong because washing hands should not leave that much dirt on a towel.  If you really want a clean towel for every hand washing.... for goodness sake, get a batch of cheap wash cloths and stack them up next to the sink.  Wash those when you need a fresh supply.  At least you won't be throwing money in the trash with every hand wash.

Speaking of soap..... how about this ad?  It tells you that you will never have to touch a germy soap dispenser again.  Huh?  Why would you walk up to just touch a dispenser?  Isn't the point of using soap supposed to be to wash away the germs?  You touch the dispenser before you wash, not after.  If there are germs on the dispenser you will wash them away with the soap.  No need to touch the dispenser until you are ready to wash your hands the next time. 

Hmm....  I wonder how this gadget would work if I filled it with homemade liquid soap?  I might find one of these at the thrift store in a few weeks.

Ok, moving on.  How about this ad?  Kind of scary isn't it?  No, not scary.  They look sad. I went to my sink to see what my little disposer monsters looked like.  I wanted to know.... do mine look sad too?  Oops!  I forgot, I don't have a disposer.  Just a plain ol' sink drain.  But are these advertisers serious?  They want people to buy a maintenance system to clean the disposer every month.  To deliberately put money into a disposer so it can be sent down the drain?

What's wrong with cleaning it the way people did when disposers were first invented?  Does anyone besides me remember the Arm & Hammer guy?  So cute and he had muscles like Hercules from swinging that hammer so much.  He said keep an open box of Arm & Hammer baking soda in the refrigerator for a month to eliminate odors.  Next month replace the box in the refrigerator with a new one and use the old box to get your disposer smelling fresh too.   A bunch of ice cubes put in there helped the baking soda do the scrubbing.

For more serious odors we were told to put bleach in it.  Or organically you could put a lemon in and run it through.  Personally I can't see the logic of owning a disposer IF you have a place where you could have a compost bin or a worm farm in the kitchen.  Hmm... now that's an idea.  A worm farm in the kitchen.  Gotta file that one in my to do list of ideas.  Moving on now. 

Awww... come on.... they want us to buy a product for dishwasher and washing machine cleaning too?  To be used once a month for the life of the washer or dishwasher.  Do they know how much money that would cost over the life of a washer?  I'd rather save the money in an interest paying account and use it to buy a brand new washer in a few years.

Here's another ad saying the same thing.  It's true, sometimes a washer will have an odor.  I don't know about dishwashers because I don't own one.  Never have.  Usually, the musty odor in my washer is eliminated by simply leaving the door open so it can get fresh air.  It gets an odor when I haven't used the washer for a few days. 

Several years ago, I had to have a repairman fix my washer because it had been leaving greasy spots on my clothes.  Nothing I did would stop the spots from showing up.  He told me that no washer gets out grease.  Only the soap does that.  DUH!

He told me when he repairs used washers for resale he pours a whole bottle of liquid toilet cleaner in it and runs it for one cycle on high load.  Then runs it a second cycle with clear water to be sure all the toilet cleaner is rinsed out.  He said doing this once a year could make my washer last much longer.  Twice a year if I washed tons of clothes.  

The repairman also told me using vinegar once a month kept washers smelling clean.   Well, I had that covered already.  I use vinegar in the rinse water as a substitute for fabric softener.

Ok, I guess I've done enough type-talking about the absurd ads I found in the coupon section of the paper.  Don't let the ads fool you.  There are cheaper alternatives.  Geeze, everyone is out to get our money.  Don't listen to them. 

I feel yucky

It's not that I'm really sick-sick,  No fever or anything.  It's either the polution or the pollen, I'm not sure which, that is bothering me.  Sneezing, itchy eyes, scratchy throat, coughing, and generally just feeling really tired.  I tried to work on the quilt on the machine but mostly I wanted to go back to bed and sleep.  I did get the outside borders quilted.  I't going to take another day to rest.  We have rain today so it should clear up the air.  If I don't feel better tomorrow I'm going to the doctor.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Paying for convenience?

I've talked about not paying for convenience food several times on this blog site.  It goes against my nature to pay a manufacturer to be my personal chef.  Things like adding butter sauce to a vegetable at double the cost of plain vegetables is probably the worst example I can think of but this next example comes in as a close second to that.

Pudding cups.  Aww.... come on now.  Paying someone to stir your pudding and put it into little cups for you?  Can you afford that personal chef's wages?  Let's talk about it for a minute.

See the price of the pudding cups?  If you buy 10 items you can get .50 cents off.  Let's say you don't have a sale like this so the normal price is $2.49 for 6 little cups containing about  3 or 4 tablespoons of pudding.  That works out to about .41 cents for each pudding cup.  We can figure up the hourly wage of this personal chef in a minute. 

If you are serious about saving money.... stop paying for convenience!  Learn to cook.  Hmm.... I mean learn to stir your own pudding.    It's not that hard.  

Hmm..... let me show you how it's done.  Maybe a visual demonstration will help you remember what it's costing for that personal chef to stir your pudding the next time you are tempted to purchase pudding cups.  This is all the cooking equipment you need. 

Oh yes, you will need a few of these.  I asked my neighbor to give these to me because she buys KFC several times a week.  Don't get me started on that convenience, it would take all day.  Baby food containers or any small container with a tight fitting lid will work for this cooking technique.

Pour 2 cups of cold milk into the measuring cup.  The measuring cup is the thingie with numbers on it.  Stop pouring the milk when it reaches the 2 cup mark.

Now pour the milk into the bowl.  Open the pudding box and pour the pudding powder into the milk.... like this.  Take the stirring thingie and start moving it around the bowl to mix the pudding and the milk together.  A little rapid movement every now and then helps too.

You will notice the pudding mixture starts to get thick in about 30 seconds.  Keep stirring for 30 seconds more to be sure you got it all mixed together.  That's it.  Your done.  The pudding is now officially pudding.  It took one minute to make.  Was that so hard?  Let it set for another 60 seconds to thicken up some more while you line up your containers. 

tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, DING..... ok, times up. 

The next step is to take an ordinary spoon and put a little pudding into each container.  Add the lids and put them all in the refrigerator. 

Oops!  You made 5 containers instead of 6.  Ok, so you like a little more pudding than comes in those little cups.  I can understand that.  You now have one container for lunch each day at work this week.  Now let's figure up the cost of the personal chef's wages.

The cost of the box of instant pudding was .49 cents at Aldi.  Five self-made pudding cups is about .12 cents each if you add a little for the cost of 2 cups milk.  Total for 5 containers is .60 cents. 

You are saving about $1.89 of the cost of the prepared pudding cups.  It only took about 1 minute to stir.  At $1.89 per minute, your personal chef wants you to pay him $114.40 an hour to stir your pudding for you.  Can you afford that?  Wouldn't you want to be the one earning the $114.40 per hour instead of paying a personal chef? 
I don't know about you, but I believe $1.89 in actual savings, multiplied a few times, might work out to be enough to pay for some electricity or water once or twice a year. 

Hmm.... you want to know how to get the cost down to even less for pudding cups?  It will require some different cooking utensils but the technique is still just stirring.  Buy yourself some corn starch.  I believe this corn starch cost me around .69 cents when I bought it.  It goes on sale most often around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter.


The cost goes down to about .02 cents per pudding container if you make your own pudding cups with corn starch, sugar, and milk. That would be .10 cents for 5 pudding cups.  A savings of  2.39 for one minute of stirring.  At 2.39 per minute you would be paying yourself  $143.40 an hour to make your own pudding cups. 
Go to the Argo website and click on the recipe button to find all kinds of neat ways to cook with it. 

You get it now?  I hope my little spoof on stirring pudding helps you mentally see how to save money easily the next time you are tempted to pay for convenience.  Stop paying for a personal chef until you become a millionaire!   Oh, I forgot, millionaires don't pay those kinds of wages either.  How do you think they became millionaires?