“Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire”

Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it! But what if you do not have a fireplace? I guess you can roast the chestnuts in the oven, but what about the glow of a fireplace?

A few years ago, I turned the TV on to the “UP” station during a family Christmas because it was showing a “Yule Log.” Yep, it was a video of a fire burning with Christmas music in the background.

I pinned a better idea from At the Picket Fence on my Christmas board. The link for instructions led me to redheadcandecorate.com. I love their faux fireplaces, but I don’t have room for one. I decided to fake the look of a gas fireplace that was like a line of fire.

I remembered my CD organizer turned on its side on the piano. The TV is on top and what better place to have a fire/light feature than there! I got out the battery operated LED button lights my niece gave me for Christmas a few years ago. I put one in each box and made my fire/light feature.LED Button Votives "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire" frugalfish.org

I can have the glow during the day or . . .Light Feature as Viewed from my bed "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire" frugalfish.org

. . . turn them on at night.Faux Fire Light Feature at Night "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire" frugalfish.org

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Indian Summer Thanksgiving

What happens when there is a four-day weekend? Wednesday becomes Friday! Yes, it is Wednesday, but I made it Frugalfish Friday!

This fall has been the warmest I have ever remembered. It’s like Indian Summer was going to hang on until Thanksgiving! I actually used a marigold bloom in my wreath!Marigold Bloom in Bow on Wreath "Indian Summer Thanksgiving" frugalfish.org

The grass is still green and a few flowers still blooming. I wanted to reflect those colors in my Thanksgiving decorations. I used a green runner on the kitchen table and put “Turkey” Salt & Pepper Shakers, Candlesticks, and Napkin Holder on it.Kitchen Tablescape "Indian Summer Thanksgiving" frugalfish.org

I ended up using turkeys throughout my decorations because they were so colorful. This homemade turkey, made from recycled baskets, won me a blue ribbon in the county fair!Turkey made from Baskets "Indian Summer Thanksgiving" frugalfish.org

I put a “Turkey” plate, that was given to us by David’s aunt, in the china cabinet. The ceramic bear is pretending he is a turkey!Turkey Plate from David's Aunt "Indian Summer Thanksgiving" frugalfish.org

I even used a “Turkey” Pin on the towels in the bathroom. This is the first year I decorated with green!Turkey PIn on Towels "Indian Summer Thanksgiving" frugalfish.org

 

I used more “Turkey” Candleholders on the dining room table. The flowers in the horn of plenty reminded me of the flowers still blooming on the south side of my house.Dining Room Tablescape "Indian Summer Thanksgiving" frugalfish.org

Green tablecloths covered the table and buffet. I set out some dishes that I will use on the dessert table. The cake plate will elevate a pie and make room for more desserts. I plan on putting rolls in the Trifle dish and have already roasted pumpkin seeds for the wooden bowl. Serving Dishes on Dessert Table "Indian Summer Thanksgiving" frugalfish.org

 

You can see more photos of past Thanksgiving decorations on my Pinterest.com/frugalfish page.

“Happy Thanksgiving!”

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Surround Sight, Not Surround Sound

I reached the age . . . somewhere around 40 . . .  where my arms aren’t long enough to read. The eye doctor said that dreaded word,

“BIFOCALS!”

The top of my glasses is for seeing far away, the bottom for seeing close up. When I recline, the angle has me looking through the bottom of my glasses and I have trouble focusing on the TV!TV on TV Stand "Surround Sight, Not Surround Sound" frugalfish.org

David has the same problem. We either prop our head on a pillow or on one arm to look through the correct part of our glasses. Then we would get a “crick in the neck.”

We needed to raise the TV!

We could mount it on the wall but would have to buy a kit. I looked around for a more frugal solution. Then I remembered the hutch in the bedroom with a large mirror set on it.

Hutch with mirror on it "Surround Sight, Not Surround Sound" frugalfish.org

We brought it out and placed the TV on it. The height was perfect! I moved a bookshelf under the hutch and set the soundboard on it.TV Raised Up on Hutch, "Surround Sight, Not Surround Sound" frugalfish.org

$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $

Next week is Thanksgiving and I did some serious thinking about after the meal. We eat at noon and my family will usually watch TV. The best seats are on either end of the couch, which has built-in recliners, or in the big recliner. Usually, 1 or 2 will sit in the middle of the couch and the rest will take the chairs which we bring in from the other rooms.

Another problem is we store the toys for our granddaughter in the ottoman. She can’t get to the toys because the one(s) sitting in the middle of the couch have their feet on it. When she is playing, her movements can block the TV. I moved Olivia’s toys to the bookshelf and hid them behind a curtain on a tension bar.

That solved 2 problems!Toys on Shelf Behind Curtain "Surround Sight, Not Surround Sound" frugalfish.org

Invariably, I am the last to sit down and the only seat left is next to the TV. Everyone can see the TV, but me!

David hung the large mirror over the couch. I sat down in the chair and said, “Ouch!” I had moved a CD organizer to use as a side table next to the chair. It was too tall and it hit my elbow! It disappointed me that I could not see the TV in the mirror!

I got out a smaller mirror and David moved it along the wall until I could see the TV while sitting in my chair. We tried 2 different mirrors until I could see the entire TV in the reflection. (This second mirror was David’s grandmother’s and recently given to us by his aunt. I love having something of hers in my front room.)TV Reflected in Mirror "Surround Sight, Not Surround Sound" frugalfish.org

I brought up a white bookshelf to put in the bedroom where the hutch was formerly. It wasn’t as deep and that gave us 6 more inches between it and the bed.Shallow Bookshelf Gives More Room "Surround Sound, Not Surround Sight" frugalfish.org

I wanted to raise the TV in the bedroom, too. I looked around but couldn’t find anything the right size that was sturdy.

$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $

Back in the front room, I tried a few side tables, that were 3″ above or below the arm of the chair, to replace the CD organizer and finally decided on a square column. (It was a demo of the four different styles available at the lumberyard where my husband worked. They switched companies and he brought it home.)Column Demo Makes a Side Table "Surround Sight, Not Surround Sound" frugalfish.org

I started to take the CD organizer back downstairs when I realized it was very sturdy. We laid it on its side on the piano and put the TV on top of it. It worked!CD Organizer Raised TV "Surround Sight, Not Surround Sound" frugalfish.org

I raised both TVs, and can watch them from any seat, without spending any money! It increased the square footage of the front room because the TV stand was a foot deeper. Between the narrow hutch and the mirrors, my room looks much larger.

This weekend look around your family room. Can you switch pieces and free up some square footage for your family this holiday? How about mounting a mirror on the wall across from the TV to let it be viewed by both sides of the room.

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Using All of the Dress

I fell in love with the dress, a red maxi, when I first saw it. (Red is my favorite color.) It was a designer dress sold for Valentine’s Day. I was searching for an Easter dress when I spotted it on clearance. It was now marked down to $14.97.

I ordered it for a Christmas dress. It is sleeveless, but I can wear a crew neck shirt underneath it or a sweater over it. I am really long-waisted, and to get the waist to fit, I have to order the tall size and cut three inches off of the bottom of the dress. I carefully measured, pinned, cut the three inches off, and re-hemmed it.

I tossed the three-inch strip in the garbage but pulled it right back out. Who knows, I may think of a way to use it. I wore the dress to a country wedding in August with a jean jacket and my red cowboy boots!

Last weekend was our “Weekend to Remember” get away and I took the red dress along to wear on the required date night. On impulse, I tossed in the extra material, too.

As I was dressing for our date, I noticed the ribbons used to keep the dress on the hanger had come loose. I pulled them off because I was afraid they would hang out and show.

Then I did my hair.

My hair didn’t cooperate. I am letting my bangs grow out and they curled down right into my eyes. I didn’t have hair spray with me and I knew my curls cannot be corralled with hairspray anyway. I took those two pieces of ribbon and tied them together. I put them on my head like a headband and tucked the bows behind my ears. It fit perfectly and kept those ornery bangs out of my eyes.Tied ribbons made headband ""Using all of the dress" frugalfish.org

I was so pleased with the effect of the ribbon, I decided to experiment with the extra material. I love those tutorials on how to fold a scarf. I tried a few I was familiar with but didn’t like the result.

Then I decided to tie the ends together making it an infinity scarf! It was so long that I had to wrap it around my head four times, but it covered the area of my neck that I am not fond of. It was high enough that I could still wear the heart necklace, with a rose in it, that was given to me by my youngest son for my birthday. I put on the matching rose earrings, my leather jacket, black pumps, and I was ready for a night on the town.Date at Hu Hot "Using all of the Dress" frugalfish.org

I begged David to take me to HuHot a few times, but he was never interested. It thrilled me when he told me that was where he was taking me for date night! Shopping in the mall in pumps was not as thrilling, but I had a great time.HuHot Food "Using all of the Dress" frugalfish.org

I’ve told you before to keep all ribbon. You never know when it will come in handy!

And learn a few simple ways to fold a scarf! The easiest way to learn is to ask a friend how she folded her scarf and let her demonstrate. There are also many tutorials on Pinterest. There are a few pinned to my Frugalfish Pinterest page on the “clothes” board.

$$$$$$$$$$$$

David: “McDonald’s for breakfast?”

Me: “Only if you serve it in bed!”

(And they call me “Frugalfish.”)

We had homework assignments at “Weekend to Remember” but were so tired the first night that we decided to do our homework at breakfast. We went to Perkins and I ordered Eggs Benedict for the first time. I always wanted to try them. It came with hash browns and a blueberry muffin. David had to help me finish the hash browns and I took the muffin and butter to go.

When we travel, we take a cooler with water, Powerade, assorted crackers, trail mix, and a variety of fruits. David got his breakfast at McDonald’s and I ate the blueberry muffin, a peach, and had a cup of the hotel coffee. He brought me back a fruit and yogurt and that made a filling, but inexpensive breakfast for the second day.Muffin, Peach, Coffee, "Using all of the Dress" frugalfish.org

$$$$$$$$$$$$

“Weekend to Remember” is an investment in your marriage. It is expensive but is cheaper than a divorce! It’s never too late to save your marriage!

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What to Wear

By the time you read this I will be on my way for a “Weekend to Remember” marriage retreat. My husband asked if I would be interested in going and I said, “Yes!” Then he saw the cost.

I reminded him that when we married it was “For better or worse.” We are either working to make it better or it will get worse. He wasn’t convinced.

A few more conversations about no vacation since 2012, his two trips to St. Louis Cardinals games, a Hawkeye game, and the registration was “Buy One Get One Free” finally convinced him.

Then came the dreaded time to pack . . . what to wear. It was 80° on Monday but forecasted for the 60’s this weekend with lows in the 40’s. I got out my trusty list. Dressing in layers will keep me comfortable regardless of the temperature.

Dressing for the Weather in Layers

Over 80 Degrees – Sandals

Sleeveless Shirt & Shorts/Skirt (or)

Sleeveless Dress

70-79 Degrees – Sandals

Short-Sleeves & Shorts/Skirt (or)

Short-Sleeved Dress

60-69 Degrees – Closed Toe Shoes, Lightweight Socks

Short-Sleeves & Lightweight Pants (or)

Short-Sleeved Dress & Pantyhose (or)

Short-Sleeved Shirt, Skirt & Pantyhose

50-59 Degrees – Closed Toe Shoes, Lightweight Socks

Long-Sleeved Shirt & Lightweight Pants (or)

Long-Sleeved Dress & Pantyhose (or)

Short-Sleeved Shirt with a Jacket & Pants or Skirt/Pantyhose

Outer Wear: Lightweight Jacket

40-49 Degrees – Closed Toe Shoes & Medium-weight Socks

Long-Sleeved Shirt under Short-Sleeved Shirt & Jeans/Warm Pants/Skirt & Tights (or)

Two Long-Sleeved Shirts & Jeans/Warm Pants/ Skirt & Tights (or)

Example: Long-sleeved crew neck under a long-sleeved V-neck shirt or Long-sleeved button down shirt under a V-neck shirt.

Long-Sleeved Shirt with Jacket & Jeans/Warm Pants/ Skirt & Tights (or)

Long-Sleeved Dress with Jacket & Tights

Outer Wear: Lined Coat, Hat, Gloves

30-39 Degrees – Closed Toe Shoes & Medium-weight Socks

Sweater/Sweatshirt & Jeans/Warm Pants/Skirt & Tights (or)

Two Long-Sleeved Shirts under a Short-Sleeved Shirt & Jeans/Warm Pants/Skirt & Tights

Example: Long-sleeved button down shirt over a turtleneck shirt and under a V-Neck Tee Shirt or A Turtleneck under a long-sleeved crew neck under a V-Neck T-Shirt.

Outer Wear: Winter Coat, Hat & Gloves

20-29 Degrees – Closed Toe Shoes & Heavy Socks

Sweater/Sweatshirt over a Long-Sleeved Shirt & Jeans/Warm Pants (or)

Two Long-Sleeved Shirts over a Turtleneck & Jeans/Warm Pants

Outer Wear: Winter Coat, Hat, Scarf, Gloves, Boots (Carry your shoes)

10-19 Degrees – Closed Toe Shoes and Heavy Socks

Sweater/Sweatshirt over Turtleneck, Long John Shirt & Long John Pants under Jeans/Warm Pants (or)

Two Long-Sleeved Shirts over a Turtleneck and Long John Shirt

& Long John Pants under Jeans/Warm Pants

Outer Wear: Winter Coat, Hat, Scarf, Gloves, Boots (Carry Your Shoes)

10 Degrees and Below – Closed Toe Shoes and Heavy Socks

Sweater/Sweatshirt over Turtleneck & Long John Shirt  under Jacket

& Long John Pants under Jeans/Warm Pants (or)

Two Long-Sleeved Shirts (Crew neck, V-Neck, or Button Down) over a Turtleneck and Long John Shirt under Jacket

& Long John Pants under Jeans/Warm Pants

Outer Wear: Winter Coat (Coveralls), Hat (Face Mask), Scarf, Gloves, Boots. (Take Extra socks & Gloves)

(You can always remove a layer if it warms up more than expected.)

Note: Clothes made with breathable polypropylene, (i.e. Under Armour, Dri-Fit, ClimaLite, Drylete, Vapor Dry, Technifine or Cool Max), should only be worn for exercising outdoors, shoveling snow, etc. If you wear it for normal indoor activities it will transfer any sweat to the next layer, which is very unattractive! Blue Magazine, (published by Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield), Winter 2010

Wearing three layers, "What to Wear" frugalfish.org

I wore a blouse under a dress and a cardigan sweater over both.

My  Frugalfish tip is to combine the layers on the hanger before putting them on. You can line up the shoulder seams and sleeve seams easier on the hanger than on your body. Then put all three layers on at once. You can button the blouse after you have it on and will only need a little adjusting.

©2009-2016 frugalfish.org. All rights reserved.

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Worst Day of My Life

It started with a flashback of the worst day of my life and ended less than an hour later when I locked myself out of the house.

The worst day of my life started like any other day. I didn’t really like the outfit I picked, but I was saving my favorite outfit and it was okay for a Tuesday. I was sitting in Physics class getting ready to take a semester test when the principal came to the door and called me out into the hall.

“Your parents called. Your house is on fire. We are taking your older sister home. Do you want to go home or stay here?”

I chose to stay and take the test. When I sat back down, Tim asked me what was up because I was NEVER called to the principal’s office.

“My house is on fire,” I calmly replied, and started on the test. I was in shock.

We lived in a small town of about 500 people and the fire chief was my uncle. When learning of smoke pouring out under the eaves, the entire town showed up. The fire was inside the walls and the smoke didn’t come into the house until they punched holes in the walls to get to it.

Those neighbors from Batavia emptied every closet, cupboard, and drawer on the first floor. They carried every stick of furniture outside and later moved them to the barn. A 17-year boy my dad had mentored, (who was playing hooky), unhooked the washer and carried it out by himself. Our next door neighbor, Linda, was the last one out of the house. She removed the drapes from the six windows in the living room and dining room.

They saved everything on the first floor, but not upstairs. I stayed after school and rode home with Carolyn. My brother and sisters had each been taken home by one of our aunts. They bought them a change of clothes and kept them overnight.

The furniture was in the barn and Dad was up on the roof with a few men putting a tarp over the hole the fire left. I went home with my friend, Pam. She was the best! We were the same size and she loaned me her favorite tee-shirt with her name on it and a pair of slacks to wear to school the next day.House Fire "Worst Day of My Life" frugalfish.org

Wednesday, they let us go upstairs to our former rooms for one minute. They instructed us to grab anything we wanted to keep. They had a door propped open to hold up the roof joists.

Everything was wet, melted, and black with smoke. I ripped some pictures out of my photo album and a few things out of my scrapbook. I made my bed that morning and my pillow was just wet. I took it and went back downstairs.

All I had left fit in an 8″ cookie tin. When I open that tin, I can still smell the smoke. I never got to wear that favorite outfit again, but I got an “A” on that Physics test!

$$$$$$$$$$$$

Today I opened an email that triggered that memory. It was from everydaycheapskate.com. She was replying to a question about a family that lost everything in a flood. She recommended the free app knowyourstuff.org.

I didn’t even finish the email. I hit the link, set up an account, and downloaded the app to my phone. Then I started taking pictures. I didn’t clean up the house. There were dirty dishes in the sink. I threw up the covers on the bed and tucked them in and kept snapping.Picture of Bedroom, "Worst Day of My Life" frugalfish.org

I took pictures of every wall, inside of closets, and even opened drawers in the kitchen to record contents. I know it can all go up in smoke in a flash. I also know the agony of trying to remember what was in each drawer, how many tee shirts did I own?

When I finished inside the house, I took pictures inside the garage. Then I went outside and took pictures of every side of the house. That’s when I locked myself out!

This is not an ad for the app. I will not get any money from them. I am sharing my painful experience in hopes that it will go easier for you should you have a disaster.

  1. Don’t wait until you have time.
  2. Don’t clean the house.
  3. Just get the app and start snapping pictures.

You never know when all you have left will be held in a cookie tin.

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Last Taste of Summer

“Summer-in-October Record Warmth,”

weather.com, 10-20-16

It sure felt like summer at the beginning of this week. I was grateful we have central air and do not rely on window air conditioners! The thing I will miss the most from summer is the fresh strawberries!

My sister, Michele, has a thriving strawberry patch. (I did not get that gene. I planted and killed 2 strawberry patches and the plants that were supposed to grow in a “strawberry pot!”) Michele made jam with just strawberries and sugar. I could eat it with a spoon.

This week I got to the bottom of the last jar. Sigh.Empty jar of jam "Last Taste of Summer" frugalfish.org

I wanted to stretch that jam as far as possible. There were still some pieces on the side. I was making sweet tea and decided to fill the jar with the hot concentrated tea.Tea in jam jar "Last Taste of Summer" frugalfish.org

My last taste of summer was strawberry tea!Strawberry tea "Last Taste of Summer" frugalfish.org

You can see other ways I flavored my tea here.

Another way I am squeezing the last of summer out is by using a fan in my front window to blow the warm air into the back of the house, see here and here. For other ways to delay running the furnace, see here.

What is your favorite summer treat?

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October Birthday Decorations

Adults everywhere dread any birthday ending in zero. You know your friends are going to get you gag gifts, like a cane, or some bring reminders of death: skeleton, coffin, tombstone.

My birthday is in October, and though it is not ending in a zero this year, I don’t want my home decorated with skeletons, bats, coffins, tombstones, and other Halloween decorations. I usually have a few smiling Jack O’lanterns and put up fall decorations.

This year we will be celebrating 4 birthdays because my surgery canceled my oldest son’s dinner, and my husband’s birthday came before we could reschedule. My youngest son was born in early October and we decided to have one dinner for all the guys. They aren’t that big on parties anyway, but they love to eat! I decided to go all out and decorate the house with a birthday theme.

Starting with the wreath at the front door, I covered it with birthday bows and chose colors to coordinate with my October flag.October flag, "October Birthday Decorations" frugalfish.org

The wreath is between the door and the screen door. It is visible, but out of the wind. I just used packing tape on the back of each bow.Wreath of bows "October Birthday Decorations, frugalfish.org

I used primary colors as my palate for the rest of the decorations. Blue, green, and orange towels were topped with a red washcloth, yellow bow, and tied together with a yellow ribbon. I tied the ends of the ribbon together behind the towels.Ribbon wrapped towels "October Birthday Decorations" frugalfish.org

The bow is secured with a pearl-topped florists pin that I pushed through the center of it. It is a long pin from a corsage.Florist pin secures ribbon "October Birthday Decorations" frugalfish.org

The inspirational print was given to me by my daughter-in-law and I chose to display it because of the rainbow-colored font. The red candle, surrounded by corn meal, fit with my color scheme and I left it. The gold trim in the candle holder matched the gold trim in the picture frame.Picture with rainbow colored font "October Birthday Decorations" frugalfish.org

The same type of font was used on a birthday mug I hung from a hook. It was given to me on a dreaded birthday ending with a zero.Birthday Mug "October Birthday Decorations

The Precious Moments Cup with my name on it is displayed in the china cabinet. The lavender color did not go with my theme!Precious Moments Pam Cup "October Birthday Decorations" frugalfish.org

Last month I shared my trick of using the back sides of table runners, see here. I flipped my apple table runner to the navy side, folded a red napkin into the same shape and placed it on top. An orange Jack O’lantern and green pumpkins added 2 more colors of the rainbow. I topped the pumpkin with a yellow bow for my birthday theme.October Tablescape "October Birthday Decorations" frugalfish.org

The dining table has 2 table runners layered over a red tablecloth. I used white pumpkins here and brought in yellow and green with flameless candles. The centerpiece is a fake angel food cake, see here.October Rainbow Birthday Tablescape "October Birthday Decorations" frugalfish.org

I stuck a “Happy Birthday” sign left over from a cake into the center of a decorated balloon weight to balance out the figurine on the other side.Birthday Balloon Weight "October Birthday Decorations" frugalfish.org

See, there are touches of Halloween, the figurine is of three children dressed as ghosts.Ghostly kids figurine "October Birthday Decorations" frugalfish.org

My children’s Halloween crafts are displayed on the shelf going up the stairs. I loved seeing their work from kindergarten and the clever items my daughter made in Girl Scouts.Children's Crafts "October Birthday Decorations" frugalfish.orgBlack Cat from crushed pop can "October Birthday Decorations" frugalfish.org

There’s another Jack O’lantern on a shelf in the kitchen.Jack O'lantern candle "October Birthday Decorations" frugalfish.org

Over the years, I have received some pretty funny gag gifts. These fake balloons were made for me a few years ago. They brought them in holding the balloons up high. It is actually balloons made of card stock. I love a good joke and decided to display them this year.Fake Balloons "October Birthday Decorations" frugalfish.org

I didn’t spend any money decorating for Halloween and when it is over, I won’t be looking for Halloween decorations on sale, I will be in the birthday aisle!

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Still Learning from Mom

I almost threw it away several times. It was a wide pink bow with an ivory lace overlay that at one time was attached to a barrette. I probably wore it in my hair a few times back in the 80’s. The barrette was long gone and I put the bow in my bag of miscellaneous ribbons, see here.

Mom called after a disaster with her favorite jacket. She noticed a spot on it and tried to clean it off with a wet wipe. It changed the color of the dye on that spot. She had a rust-colored spot on her tan jacket.Rust colored stain, "Still Learning From Mom" frugalfish.org

She knows I enjoy sewing, see here, and asked me if I could sew a piece of lace over the spot. We went through my collection of lace and didn’t find anything that was wide enough. Then I remembered the pink barrette.

I took the bow apart and removed the ivory lace. I laid it over the buttons on the jacket and found it was long enough. It was also wide enough to cover the discolored spot.

A week or so later, I turned on a movie and sewed the lace on the jacket by hand. I cut tiny slits in the center of the lace at each button and eased the buttons through the slits. I tucked the ends under and that piece of lace was the perfect length. It took me the entire movie to hand sew the lace on, and ease the buttons through the slits, but it was a labor of love. After all, she labored to give me life!Tan Jacket with lace accent, "Still learning from Mom" frugalfish.org

I learned to never use a baby wipe or wet wipe on stained clothing! It is better to use cold water or just wait until you get home and can treat the stain properly.

See, I’m still learning from my Mom! Save those pieces of lace! You never know when it will come in handy.

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Frugalfish Gets a Fitbit?

Anyone who has read many of my posts knows I am NOT a fan of exercise, see here. (That title alone will make my friends think I fell off of the deep end.) Sweating makes me break out and I avoid it, but I do want to be healthy and used a pedometer for years to track my steps.

On the other hand, my husband is a jock. He loves to exercise and plays every sport. A month before his birthday, I found an offer from flylady.net that I could not refuse. It was “Buy One Get One Free” for a “J-Style Health” activity tracker for $60.00. That was a little more than I normally spend on a birthday gift and I made up the difference out of my spending money because I would be getting one, too.

$$$$$$$$

I ordered the tracker to use a pedometer but was fascinated by the other features. Of course, this generic version does not work as well as the Fitbit brand that sells for $100.00.

Heart Rate Monitor

I never was able to get the heart rate monitor to work. Every time I tried to sync that feature to my phone I got the same message, “Good Morning” which is equivalent to…

“WAKE UP!”

I guess my heart rate is what other people’s heart rate is when they are asleep. I decided I didn’t really need that feature. Both my husband and I have had our hearts tested with EKG’s and he had a stress test. Our hearts are healthy and we do not have a murmur or irregular heartbeat.

The funny thing is my tracker would give me the same message when we were practicing for church and the guitar player went off on a tangent playing blues or country. My tracker must not care for that type of music.

Alarm to Wake Up

The alarm feature works really well. It wakes me up every time but I set it on 5:00 a.m. and it refuses to reset! When the clocks turn back on November 5th, my tracker will probably go off at 4:00 a.m. I stopped using it as an alarm.

Sleep Monitor

I no longer use it to monitor my sleep patterns during the hot weather because the wristband made my wrist sweat and I broke out. This time of year, when the Ragweed pollen is in the air, I have to take Benadryl at night along with my regular antihistamines. There is no way I can wake up at 5 after taking Benadryl.

I keep track of my sleep in my DayTimer anyway. Sometimes the only clue that I am fighting an infection is I suddenly start sleeping for 11 or 12 hours a night. The symptoms of a bacterial sinus infection are the same as a bad allergy reaction.  (I rarely run a fever.)

Calories Burned

This brand of tracker records the KCALs but I do not pay too much attention to it.

Pedometer

It seems to record the movements of my arms as steps. I would be playing the keyboard during the Wednesday evening service and in the middle of it, the tracker would buzz announcing I reached my goal of 10,000 steps. Amazing since I had sat down for the last hour!

I decided to keep the tracker in my pocket. Then it only records the movements of my legs and that is more accurate. Also, I didn’t want to wear it because of my sensitive skin.

Activity Alarm

I decided not to activate the activity alarm which goes off every hour to remind you to get some exercise. I don’t want to have to shut off the buzzing every hour. I use a timer to keep me on task. It is set for 15 minutes. I use it for some activities that I lose track of time doing: cleaning, reading, etc. or for things I can’t wait to finish – like exercise. The timer lets me know I have sat for too long.

$$$$$$$$

I talked to a few friends who have the original Fitbit brand of a tracker. They both were given the trackers by their employers as part of their health program. I would take it if it were offered to me by an employer. I did save a lot of money buying this generic activity tracker. I will keep it because it is serving its purpose as a pedometer.JStyle Fitness Tracker, "Frugalfish Gets a Fitbit?" frugalfish.org

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