Last Taste of Summer

“Summer-in-October Record Warmth,”, 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"

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"

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

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?

©2009-2016 All rights reserved.

 Twitter – @frugalfishorg

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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"

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,

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"

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"

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"

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"

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"

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"

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"

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

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"

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

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"

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!

©2009-2016 All rights reserved.

 Twitter – @frugalfishorg

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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"

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"

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.

©2009-2016 All rights reserved.

 Twitter – @frugalfishorg

Facebook – Frugal Fish

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 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…


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.


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?"

©2009-2016 All rights reserved.

 Twitter – @frugalfishorg

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8 Tips For Buying a New Cell Phone

A migraine woke me up and I spent the morning with all the curtains closed. I thought about staying home, but David promised me a new phone in August. (Yeah, August was really busy.) We had a doctor’s appointment that day in the town where there was a corporate U.S. Cellular store.

Yes, U.S. Cellular is my service provider. Why? Because U.S. Cellular covers country. In my neck of the woods, the other providers have too many holes. Southeast Iowa is not densely populated. In fact, the county south of ours does not even have one traffic light! When we looked into cell phones, U.S. Cellular was the only one that completely covered our area.

The last time David shopped for phones, he found out you can get a better deal if you go with a corporate office. He checked with the local offices and they couldn’t offer him anything. He called U.S. Cellular and was able to get 2 free phones because we have been with them since 1994.

We told Ezekiel, the representative who waited on us, that we were their oldest customer. I’m not sure that is true, but many of my friends have moved from one company to another and we chose to stick with the one we had. (Unfortunately, even after all the nice things I have said, I do not get any money from U.S. Cellular. I do not participate in affiliate marketing.)

Back to my story….the days of free phones and penny phones are gone. Now, you buy the phone on time and they give you a monthly discount of $20.00 for buying the phones from them.

We started by looking at iPhones, but I use a Samsung and a Chromebook, which are both Android products. I told Ezekiel I wanted a big phone because I am near-sighted, and I needed one that took great pictures. We looked at the LG phones next, because there was one model with a good camera. I didn’t fall in love with any of them.

Finally, we looked at the Samsung phones. I am not one who has to have the latest product. We looked at older models and found one with a “Stylus,” a small pen-shaped instrument used to input commands. Earlier I shared how I would rather write with a pen than type, see here. That was the one I wanted!

The cost of covers surprised me; most of them were $29.99 to $39.99. I asked if we could use our points to purchase a cover, but the points reward program ended last year. They did have a cover for this phone that was a flip cover for $9.99.

That’s when the debate started.

I told David I could buy the flip cover and just cut the flap off. He said the phone would not be secure because the flap had to snap into the cover. Ezekiel reminded me that I was purchasing a $535.00 phone and I should protect it. He also recommended the glass screen protector. If you drop the phone, the glass breaks, not the screen. The glass has a lifetime warranty, as long as you own the phone, and they send you a new one if it breaks.

I was overwhelmed. I like to be frugal, but I don’t want to be cheap. I knew I would hate the flip cover, but didn’t want to buy the expensive ones. I left the decision up to David because he pays the bills now. He ordered a regular cover and the glass.

I’m sure I could have gotten the phone on Ebay for less, but I could not pay for it over several months. The monthly payment is less than the $20.00 credit.

David was also eligible for a $20.00 credit on his line. He likes his phone and did not want a new one, but we asked them to add that credit to our account also because we were afraid that program might end before he needed a new phone. So his credit will offset the cost of the cover and glass screen protector. It’s a big phone and I plan on using it for several years.

Before leaving, I gave Ezekiel my business card and told him I would be blogging about buying my new phone today. He walked us to the door and opened it for us.

(Hey, Ezekiel, show this post to your boss and tell him I said you deserve a raise! Thanks for your help!)

Phone buying tips:

  1. Choose your provider based on coverage. Do you travel often? Rural area?
  2. Call or go to a corporate store.
  3. Remind them how long you have been with the company.
  4. Change phones when you are eligible for a discount. End of contract?
  5. Find the phone that fits you. Look at older models.
  6. Don’t buy something you will hate or won’t use.
  7. Do protect your investment.
  8. Take advantage of any perks, discounts, and programs offered. They don’t last forever.

How do you save money when you need a new cell phone?New Cell Phone, "8 Tips For Buying a New Cell Phone"

©2009-2016 All rights reserved.

 Twitter – @frugalfishorg

Facebook – Frugal Fish


September Decoration Flip

Derek was not impressed when I got out my flag for September. He was hoping for colorful leaves and pumpkins. He was not expecting the apples!Fall Flag, "September Decoration Flip"

But September is still warm; it was 80° yesterday. Everything is still green and you can run around barefoot.Barefoot girls on Vase, "September Decoration Flip"

It is also when the fruit ripens; pears, apples, and grapes are on sale.Pear Candle, "September Decoration Flip"

Rubber grapes make a nice bow on my plain wooden wreath.Wooden wreath with grapes, "September Decoration Flip"

Apples and leaves are my themes for this month, mainly because I had a new, flameless candle, embedded with leaves. I set it on my apple runner and put “Apple Salt and Pepper” shakers on each side.Leaf candle with apple salt & pepper shakers, "September Decoration Flip"

Instead of putting my decorative dishes in the china cabinet, I put them on the shelf leading to the basement and filled them with apple/cinnamon potpourri.Dishes filled with apple cinnamon potpourri, "September Decoration Flip"

Now for My Secrets!

There are three leaf-shaped votive candles on top of wooden napkin rings on the tiny shelf by the door. Underneath, a mug with gold leaves on it.Leaf-shaped votive candles on wooden napkin rings, "September Decoration Flip"

On the windowsill between the kitchen and dining room, I put a plaque and two votive candles.Plaque and candles, "September Decoration Flip"

The candles were not tall enough. I filled the votive holders with cornmeal to raise them up!Cornmeal raises candle, "September Decoration Flip"

On the dining room table, I put a burgundy tablecloth and a red runner for the two different shades of apples. This runner is tone on tone and the backside blended with the tablecloth better. I removed the tag and you cannot tell it is the backside. Apple, acorn, candle, centerpiece, "September Decoration Flip"

A leaf brooch dresses up the towels in the bathroom.Leaf brooch on towels, "September Decoration Flip"

Without a washcloth in the color I desired, I used the “spring” washcloth and folded the decorated side over the back.Tuck decorated portion of towel behind, "September Decoration Flip"

Those are my “September Decorating Flips:”

  1. Use a napkin ring as a votive candle holder or small pine cone holder.
  2. Use cornmeal, or popcorn, to raise a small candle up to the desired level.
  3. Flip your table runner and remove the tag.
  4. Tuck the decorated side of a washcloth behind to have a plain colored washcloth.

I didn’t spend any money to decorate for September; since I picked up the leaf candle last winter on clearance. You can see different ways I used these same decorations on my Pinterest page!

©2009-2016 All rights reserved.

 Twitter – @frugalfishorg

Facebook – Frugal Fish




Frugalfish Friday

I blame Paula…and Michele. I had blogged for a week and they both told me I should start a blog about saving money.

“You have the best tips.” 

“You can stretch a dollar further than anyone I know.” 

But starting 2 blogs in the same month is crazy. I foolishly started a third blog, which I later discontinued, and a month later bought a website.


It was too much, too fast. I was writing posts for my first blog,, every day, and posts for on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. My plan was to post on the third blog on Tuesday and Thursday, but I also had to learn all the technicalities of blogging.

Adding to the chaos was taking an HTML class, which taught me enough to lock myself out of my website…twice. I was studying the book, “WordPress for Dummies,” and making decisions about the nuts and bolts of two blogs and a website. (The rules are different for a website than they are for a blog.)

Last week, I read the most discouraging article, “Get More Blog Traffic,” which said he wrote 3 posts and then spent 90% of his time marketing and writing on other blogs. If you count the posts in my third blog, I have written over 3,600 posts. Sigh.

I patterned this blog the way I like to read blogs: no pop-ups, no ads, no donation requests, no affiliate marketing. I even allow you to view the entire post in your email. I did that because sometimes you have time to read a short post, but not a long one. It takes time: to hit the link, wait for the website to open, and see how long the post is.

That makes it nice for my followers, but they never have to visit the blog. That translates into no visitors and invisible comments.

My comments are invisible because they are all on my Facebook pages. Most of my followers read my posts on Facebook.

So, I took a break.

There are steps I need to take to make my blog visible. When I started blogging, I was on page 1 of Google. But now everyone blogs, and I am way down on their list. (I stopped looking after page 23.) Anyway, there are things I can do to correct that, but it will take time…lots of time.

A few years ago, I started posting to Frugalfish on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This week, I decided to post to this blog only on Fridays, at least until I can do my homework. There are 600 posts for you to read should you have withdrawal.

But that means my Facebook friends will have to actually go to my blog!

I’ll see you next Frugalfish Friday!

Office for two.

©2009-2016 All rights reserved.

 Twitter – @frugalfishorg

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What’s in the Frig?

We had just returned from a weekend away, where we ate at really nice restaurants. We even tried new foods! I wanted something fancy for dinner. I asked the all important question –

“What’s in the frig?”

There was pork thawed out and fresh peaches. There was also some fresh kale the mysteriously turned up. (Sometimes, my daughter leaves things she decides she doesn’t like, but this time, it was from my son’s girlfriend.)

I went online and found a recipe for “Pork with Peaches” and another one for “Sautéed Kale.” I followed the directions a felt a bit like a chef. I baked a potato to go with those dishes. I was pleased with the results. My meal was just as colorful as the ones in restaurants.Potatoes, Pork, Peaches, and Kale on a plate.

The next time you want something fancy, start by asking the question, “What’s in the frig?”

©2009-2016 All rights reserved.

 Twitter – @frugalfishorg

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Easy Fix for Shoes that Slip Off of Your Heel

I have one pair of dress shoes. That is not by choice, I just have a hard time finding them in my size – 7 EE. No, that is not a typo; it is 2 “E”s. On top of the odd size, I prefer leather because it will be years before I can find another pair. I think these pumps, made by Aravon, are 10 years old.

Granted, I do not wear them often because the dress code for the worship band at church is jeans, sneakers, dressy tee shirts. But I do have the occasional wedding or funeral to attend.

Last weekend was the wedding of our cousin’s son. I wanted to wear these pumps. Unfortunately, the elastic in the front was no longer tight. The shoes slipped off the back of my heel.

First, I tried sewing pieces of elastic on under the straps to strengthen them. I cut them too short and the straps cut into my feet. Then I tried finding those little plastic things you can put in the back of the heel but was unsuccessful. Elastic pieces and pumps

Mom stopped by while I was ripping out the stitches and the elastic that I had sewn on the weekend before. She worked in a shoe store before she married. Her suggestion was to buy plain insoles and put them under the insoles in the shoe. It makes the shoe fit tighter and your foot will not slide down further into the shoe as you wear them.

She was right! The insoles worked. The shoe did not slip off of the back of my heel throughout the entire wedding! Snug and comfortable pumps

©2009-2016 All rights reserved.

 Twitter – @frugalfishorg

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Block That Standby Light on DVD Player

I like it dark in our bedroom. I mean, pitch black. I have black, energy-efficient, light-blocking drapes and mini-blinds that I close. I have a piano book on its side in front of the TV to block the red “standby light” at its base. I turned the phone sideways to keep the standby light from shining toward the bed.

Our satellite box faces the black curtains. When it faced our white walls I would be awakened by a flash of light at 2:30 am when the updates arrived. Now the light shines into the dark curtains and is not reflected back to the bed.

My husband also likes a deep, dark bedroom. Before he turns in, he throws a black cloth over the radio alarm clock to block the glow from the time.

Imagine my disgust, when I moved a DVD player into the bedroom. It has a bright, red, standby light that is piercing. I tried duct tape, but that red light penetrated through it.Red Standby Light on DVD Player

I came up with a different solution…

Aluminum Foil Tape

Plumbers use this “peel-off tape” to block gaps in furnaces and air conditioner units. I used it around all the seams on my heat ducts and to secure the pipes under my registers to the floor.Aluminum Foil Tape on DVD Player

Now it has a new use…light blocking. I cut a tiny square off of one corner and taped it over that standby light. It worked. Not a red glow came through and I could get a good night’s sleep.No Light on DVD Player

©2009-2016 All rights reserved.

 Twitter – @frugalfishorg

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