Keep Temporary Fixes Temporary

Mom stopped by and noticed the hooks holding up my invisible chair were loose, see http://wp.me/pKNzn-tj. She told me to break the end off of a match and put the broken matchstick in the hole.

When I screwed the hook back in, the matchstick made the hole smaller and gave the hook something to grip.

She said “You can fix a lot of things with match sticks and duct tape!”

Using her ingenuity, I repaired Derek’s work shoes with electrician’s tape. (The tape is black and was not as obvious as duct tape would have been.)

More importantly, I ordered a replacement pair the same day.

It is easy to forget something needs replaced when the temporary fix works just fine. But the temporary fix will fail at some point and it will not be a convenient time!

Temporary fixes are not permanent.

That reminds me…I need to put a new anchor in that hook holding up the invisible chair!

Black electrician's tape temporarily fixed work shoes until the new ones came in.

Black electrician’s tape temporarily fixed work shoes until the new ones came in.

 

Don’t Tell My Husband, Another Use for Mustache Trimmer

I actually had permission to use it, but not in this way.

I admitted to my husband that I got tired of plucking the fine, thin hairs between my eyebrows and I wanted to borrow his mustache trimmer to remove them. (Eventually, even fine, thin hair thickens and turns dark.)

He said, “Okay.”

But I found another use for it!

My winter coat, see http://wp.me/pKNzn-nG, is white and washable. It didn’t survive the holidays without a spot, or two, and I decided it was time to wash it.

I was disappointed when I took it out of the washer and noticed black pills along the edge of the sleeves. It made the coat still look dirty. I borrowed David’s mustache trimmer, again, and trimmed those little pills off. The trimmer is safer to use than a regular razor blade.

The little, black pills were trimmed off of the sleeve on the left. They are still visible on the sleeve on the right.

The little, black pills were trimmed off of the sleeve on the left. They are still visible on the sleeve on the right.

 

Never Forget to Flip or Rotate Your Mattress

In my last post, I shared how I remember when I cleaned my furnace filter. Today I want to talk about extending the life of your mattress.

We spend 1/3 of our life on our mattress and we need to take care of it. We all know the importance of flipping the mattress and rotating it. I have a solution to knowing if, and when, you moved it last.

I wrote “Jan” on the right side of the end of my mattress. When I flip it, I write “Apr.” I rotate and flip it in July and write “Jul.” One more flip, because it has already been rotated, is done in October. The word, “Oct” is written opposite “Jul,” and upside down.

When you change your sheets you can tell at a glance if it has been flipped and rotated in a timely manner. Every three months you will be sleeping on a different section of the mattress.

No more hills and valleys!

This end up in January.

This end up in January.

Christmas Eyes

I woke up with “Christmas Eyes.”

What are those, you ask?

That is when my normally hazel eyes, look green and bright, bloodshot red.

Christmas Eyes are to be avoided because they bring all sorts of nasty gifts: watering and mucus, that leads to infection, that leads to sinusitis, that leads to bronchitis, that eventually leads to pneumonia!

Yeah. I like to stop it before any gunk appears.

The first step is to determine what has set them off: ragweed, tree pollen, grass pollen, animal dander, dust, or a sad movie. Yes, excessive crying can cause my eyes to react, too.

It’s January; which means I can rule out the sad movies. The Christmas movies are over and Hallmark has rolled out their Valentine series.

It’s also Iowa; which means the low is 7 below and I doubt there are any grass, trees, or weeds that have survived.

Animal dander. When was the last time I was around a dog. Um, August? That would really be a delayed reaction!

Dust. The Christmas decorations are boxed up and on a shelf in the garage. I do admit the house does not get dusted as thoroughly during December because of all the decorations…I just don’t get into the corners as well. But the shelves are bare.

The Valentine decorations made it as far as the dining room table and have yet to be turned into charming vignettes.

That leaves one last thing – the furnace filter.

We have an “asthma/allergy” filter that removes everything from the air. Unfortunately, it has to be taken to the car wash and cleaned with the power washer after it has been vacuumed. This has to be done monthly.

We try to clean it on the first of the month, but the weather does not cooperate in the winter. We couldn’t remember when it had last been cleaned.

I needed a visible reminder to tell me the last time we cleaned it. I pondered that as I poured myself a glass of water.

Yuk. When was the last time the Pur filter was changed?

I looked at the sticker on the side and saw it needed replaced, too. I pulled out another filter from the three pack and rinsed it. The sticker that comes with each filter fell on the floor.

I usually just throw it away because I am able to move the indicator sticker around on the circle calendar on the pitcher.

Then it hit me. That is just what I need to indicate the date we cleaned the furnace filter!

I went downstairs and slapped that puppy on my furnace.

When did I wash the furnace filter?

When did I wash the furnace filter?

The second step is Benadryl and Patanol eye drops. I’m done with Christmas Eyes!

A pur Filter.

A pur Filter gives me the answer.

You Don’t Need to Buy Baking Chocolate

My last few posts have been about my favorite cake, “Chocolate Chip Torte.” I mentioned frosting it and thought I would share the recipe I use for homemade chocolate frosting.

The catch…

…I never buy baking chocolate!

I substitute 1 teaspoon of butter with 3 tablespoons of cocoa for each square of chocolate. I got my recipe for Chocolate Butter Frosting from an old Betty Crocker Cookbook. In it they substituted 1/3 a cup of cocoa for 2 ounces unsweetened melted chocolate.

Paula prefers milk chocolate to dark chocolate, and since the cake was for her birthday, I used 3 Tablespoons of cocoa. If it is frosting for my birthday, I would use much more!

Betty Crocker’s Chocolate Butter Frosting

1/3 cup margarine or butter, softened

2 ounces unsweetened melted chocolate (cool) or 1/3 cup cocoa

2 cups powdered sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

About 2 tablespoons milk

Mix margarine and chocolate (or cocoa). Stir in powdered sugar. Beat in vanilla and milk until frosting is of spreading consistency.

This substitution works in any recipe calling for baking chocolate.

Frosted Chocolate Chip Torte.

Frosted Chocolate Chip Torte.

Which Cake Won?

Jeanicresol wanted to know which cake was better: the Chocolate Chip Torte covered in nuts and chocolate chips, or the one covered in frosting, see “Saving Cash and Gas,” http://wp.me/pKNzn-E5. We had to move our celebration to Friday and I was unable to reply to her until today.

And the winner is…

…Neither!

It was a tie. I made the cake for Paula’s birthday and she is not a fan of Chocolate Chips. (I didn’t know that before.) She loved the cake with frosting.

Others liked the original recipe because of  the chocolate chips. (I’ll stick to the original!)

I was sure the frosted cake would win because I made fresh butter that day, and used some of it to make the frosting, see “No Wasted Cream,” http://wp.me/pKNzn-BB.

The fun thing with substitution, and experimenting, is you may come up with a recipe you like better.

Frosted Chocolate Chip Torte.

Frosted Chocolate Chip Torte.

Saving Cash and Gas

Since my husband was laid off last Friday, I have been making all of my decisions based on saving cash and gas.

I was planning on making my favorite cake for my friend’s birthday and found I did not have any chocolate chips left. It requires chopped dates and I had a half a package that I really needed to use up.

My husband offered to drive to the store and pick up chocolate chips, but I didn’t want to use the cash or the gas. I decided to frost the cake instead of following the recipe. I have plenty of powdered sugar left over from my Christmas baking.

Who knows, I may like the frosted version better. Before running to the store it’s wise to ask…is there something I can use in substitute?

Chocolate Chip Torte

1 Cup Finely Chopped Dates

1 Cup Boiling Water

1 Teaspoon Baking Soda

1 Cup Butter

1 Cup Sugar

2 Eggs

1 3/4 Cups Flour

2 Tablespoons Cocoa

1/2 Teaspoon Salt

1 Teaspoon Vanilla

1/2 Cup Chopped Walnuts

1 – 6 Ounce Package Chocolate Chips

Grease a 9″ X 13″ pan. Combine dates, boiling water and soda. Let cool. Cream butter and sugar; add eggs. Sift together flour, cocoa, and salt. When date mixture is cool, add the butter mixture. Stir in flour mixture; add vanilla. Spread batter into pan. Sprinkle nuts and chocolate chips on top. Bake at 350º for 30-35 minutes.

My favorite cake, Chocolate Chip Torte.

My favorite cake, Chocolate Chip Torte.

What Needs Eaten?

My grape tomatoes were wrinkled and dried up. I love salads and make a fresh one for lunch each day, but those tomatoes were looking like raisins.

Then I remembered…many chefs use “sun-dried tomatoes.” Maybe I could use these, ahem, “dried tomatoes” in a recipe. I decided to make “Cheap, Child-friendly Chili,” http://wp.me/pKNzn-jM.

When the wrinkled grape tomatoes were added to the chili, they plumped right back up! They added a bit more flavor to it.

I was inspired. I would take the chili we made on Saturday night and mix it with cooked macaroni making “Chili Mac.” I knew I could freeze half of it for later and get two more dinners out of that one pound of ground beef.

But…alas…I fell asleep on Sunday afternoon. By the time I woke up most of the chili was gone. In fact, it looked more like tomato soup! But I am going to try harder to use up the oldest ingredients first.

Chili made with formerly wrinkled grape tomatoes.

Chili made with formerly wrinkled grape tomatoes.

 

My Husband Lost His Job

When I signed up for “Blogging 101,” I knew it would be difficult. I had no idea how heartrending the first assignment would be. We are to write who we are and why we are blogging.

I went back to my “About” page, http://wp.me/PKNzn-2, in this blog and made adjustments. I was able to add two more goals met: paying off the house and paying cash to replace our van. But I had to add, that after working for 30 years at a Lumberyard, my husband was laid off last Friday. The Lumberyard is for sale and his former boss is hoping the new owner will rehire him, but there are no guarantees.

Why am I blogging? My friends asked me to write down the little things I do to make things last longer, organizing my home, decorating my home and doing it without spending money. I worked as a bookkeeper for a church for almost 25 years and I learned how to stretch a dollar just to survive!

That is still my goal – to survive during this time that we both are unemployed and our youngest finishes up college. Odd, the only one in this house that is gainfully employed is our son!

I would like to connect with others who are surviving without running up a large credit card bill; those who live beneath their means. Unfortunately, today I am not even sure what our “means” will be.

I do know it is a new year and we have a totally blank page with which to work.

The filler paper I made for my Day-Timer using my kids loose leaf paper.

The filler paper I made for my Day-Timer using my kids loose leaf paper.

 

 

 

Better Than a “Like”

Happy New Year to me! This is the first post of my sixth year writing at frugalfish.org.

Years ago, my friend’s brother-in-law said, “No one can make it living on $30,000.” She knew our income and took him by our home. She showed him our compact home, old truck, and the used van that we drove. She noted that, at the time, we had 2 kids and we were happy.

One year we worked 5 jobs between the 2 of us, but that raised our income only to a little over $50,000.00. We worked all of the time, never had time for each other and our family time disappeared. We believe it is much better to keep our expenses lower than our income. I have been sharing my secrets for the last 5 years how to be happy living on around $30,000.

We all have to decide what is the most important thing for ourselves. I talk about saving money on things we need, not things we want or desire.

I added ads to the bottom of my page a couple of years ago. I hoped to make a little money on the side, but that did not pan out. If you find a blog you hope will not disappear, then click on the ad. It is like casting your vote for that blog. It is even better than clicking on the “Like” button.