Patriotic Home Tour

I invite you to take a tour of my home. It is red, white, and blue, from Memorial Day until July 4th. (I will show you how I made this wreath on Thursday.)Patriotic Wreath on door

To your left, you will see star-shaped, twinkle lights in the front window and my decorative flag outside. (David filled some low spots in the lawn yesterday.)Flag through a window

Have a seat on my couch. It’s a great place to kick back, tuck the quilted pillow under your head, and cover up with the flag inspired throw.Throw and pillow on couch

You will see my planters filled with flags…Plant

…a picture on my family in 2011.Picture and candle

In the kitchen my centerpiece is on an antique silver plate…Candles on a table runner

…accented with a brass Liberty Bell.Star shaped candles and bell

In the china cabinet are the dishes I will need for potlucks: a deviled egg dish and a trifle dish.Plates in china cabinet

The dining room table centerpiece is also star-themed. I couldn’t resist including the “Star Award” my family received in February.Candles on table runner

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

Lumpy Sugar Hack

I buy sugar when it is on sale and keep it in my pantry in Ziplock plastic bags. You can keep sugar for over a year. Sometimes, the plastic bags fail me and I end up with lumpy sugar.Lumpy sugar in a sifter

I get out my trusty sifter, and pouring the sugar in a little at the time, sift the lumps away.Sifter over sugar canister

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

Labeling Storage Boxes

My sister-in-law, Melinda, rescued a beverage dispenser from being thrown away at work. She knew I would love it.

She washed it up and delivered it in time for my Mother’s Day dinner. It worked great, keeping the tea cold, and the stand is tall enough to fill a large glass.

But, it is not practical to use every day. I decided to store it with the dishes I only use for large family dinners.

After taking it apart, and wrapping the lid in a paper towel, I put it back in the box and marked the corner.

I label boxes in one corner, on top and on both sides. That way if I need to turn the box a different direction when I store it, I can still see what it contains. If the box is on the floor, and has smaller boxes on top of it, I can read the label on top.Cardboard box

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

Belt Buckle Slims

This secret removes 1/2″ from your waist.

I call this my “Dress Up” belt. I wear it when I want to look my best.Belt on top of jeans

It is an elastic belt with a flat front buckle. Why is that important? A regular belt buckle is 1/2″ to 3/4″ thick when you wear it.Measuring belt buckle thickness

A flat front buckle is 1/4″ thick. It holds your pants snugly against your waist. I purchased mine one size smaller to assure it was snug.Measuring belt buckle thickness

There’s a trick to putting the belt on.

Place one corner in loop and slide to center.Belt on jeans

Slide second corner through.Belt on jeans

Fold corner of material under to allow second part of buckle through.Belt on jeans

Pull other side of second part through.Belt on jeans

It’s a painless way to reduce your waist by 1/2 an inch!

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

 

Try Shoes On Right Away

I learned a painful lesson last week!

I purchase my shoes online because I wear size 7 EE. It is difficult to find this size. I stick to New Balance and Avalon brands because they have removable insoles. There is plenty of room to add special insoles, like gel insoles, in them.

When I learned the post office recommends the walking shoes from New Balance, I decided they had to be the best. Every 6 months, I order 2 pair of walking shoes: white for spring/summer and black for fall/winter. I alternate them each day.

I’ve purchased pumps, cross training shoes, hiking shoes, and boots from this same website, joesnewbalance.com. I’ve been shopping there for 10 years.

They started having a “Daily Deal.” When my walking shoes are on the “Daily Deal,” I order them ahead. I received 2 pair of white shoes at Christmas for this spring. At Easter, I ordered two black pairs for this fall.

When it warmed up enough to wear shorts, I got out my new, white shores. The style was more pointed than square. When I tried them on, they felt snug. But 5 months had passed and it was too late to return them.

I filled small, freezer bags with a little water and placed them in the toes of the shoes. I put them in the freezer overnight. As the water froze, it expanded and stretched the leather.

It doesn’t matter how long you have been ordering the same shoes. As soon as they arrive, try them on. (I did try on the black ones.)

Shoes in a freezer

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

 

Choosing My New Washer

My husband worked almost 30 years at the same lumberyard. It was family owned and opened in 1926. They closed it’s doors for the final time last year.

That was when I decided to buy only from local merchants.

I shared in a post earlier that my washer was not repairable. Saturday, I put a load in, and it would not fill with water. I shut it off, and the lights didn’t come back on, except for…

“Door is locked.”

I turned it back on, no luck.

I unplugged it, no luck.

I tugged on the door, no luck.

Finally, I plugged it back in and pushed the “start” button anyway. It went through a cycle draining imaginary water, and then unlocked. After rescuing our clothes, we headed to our Hometown Sears.

Hometown stores are small hardware and appliance stores operated by independent retailers.  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sears_Hometown_and_Outlet_Stores

I watched the wife of the owner grow up. Now, I see their kids growing up on Facebook. I want to support this family business. That is why we bought our microwave there, (not at Wal-Mart), and our snow blower, and David’s new “doo-hicky” – a leaf blower with a vacuum attachment.

I re-read the article at debtproofliving.com about choosing a washer. I looked at washers at Searsoutlet.com and printed out a few prospects.

My children are grown now and our needs have changed. Our current washer is a large capacity, front loading machine. After the gasket needed replaced for the third time, I decided I wanted a top loading machine.

Following Mary Hunt’s advice, I set our budget, $400.00, and made a list of my top three must haves.

  1. Top loading machine
  2. Load size indicator
  3. G.E. or Whirlpool brand

We looked at the washers on the floor and only one met our qualifications. It was not the cheapest washer available.

I showed the saleslady the washers from searsoutlet.com and asked if the store would get credit if I purchased one of them. When she said no, I threw the list away.

We got a discount of 5% for using our Sears charge card, and used the rewards money from earlier purchases. We talked about having it delivered, $45.00, and having them dispose of our old one, $10.00, but decided against it. Total cost – $427.00.

We paid for the washer and drove to a local waste management company. They said they would dispose of it for free, if we brought it to their location.

David got on the phone and called a friend…who called his son-in-law…and came right over. The three of them brought the new washer downstairs and lugged the old one out. (Our Hometown Sears loaned us a 2-wheel cart.) It pays to have a truck and friends with strong backs!

When I washed the first load, I set it on “Speed Wash.” I want it to last a long time. Next to it is my dryer that has lived through 4 washers, because I dry every load on “Permanent Press” and “Delicate.” It still gets really hot!

I encourage you to buy locally!

Washing Machine Panel

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

 

Never Too Late to Honor Your Mother

“I still haven’t celebrated with my Mom.”

We had grand plans to take her to a restaurant that she has been wanting to try on Saturday; but there was a death and the funeral took precedence. My younger sister was on the ball and she made arrangements to spend “the day” with her.

We do not have to celebrate on just one day. Take birthday’s for instance. I had the food bought and a special dinner planned for my oldest son…but on the day we had set, I had just come home after having emergency surgery! We still have not found a date that will work for the entire family.

We do not have to have a sit down dinner with all of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Those dinners are nice, but by the time grandchildren come along it is a scheduling nightmare! Don’t forget, each son-in-law and daughter-in-law has a mother, too.

Floral arrangement on tablecloth.

Your mom would love it if you met her for coffee, or just had a cup of tea at her kitchen table. It’s not the cards, flowers, and gifts that she craves; it’s time with you.

Candle on glass plate over table runner.

The good news? All of those items marketed for Mother’s Day are now marked down!

Even if you are far away, a phone call will brighten her day.

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

BLT Salad

“I counted how many pieces of lettuce I had left.”

No, this is not something I do often! I usually use 2 leaves of green leaf lettuce as the base of my daily salad. My husband does our grocery shopping and I was trying to determine how soon he would need to go to the store.

I know, I’m spoiled because my husband buys the groceries. He says I spend too much money. (The last time I shopped, I bought some jewelry and spent double what he does!) He also takes the time to figure out the unit price of items and determines the best deal.

He goes to the store on days when they run specials or he schedules it around work and his other activities. I try to keep the trips down to once a week, which is why I needed to count the lettuce!

Sometimes there is an item on sale and I don’t need it. I try to be creative to use up what I already have. One week it was grape tomatoes on sale. I had plenty of them and a lot of fried bacon. I made a BLT salad.

BLT Salad

Lettuce

Grape Tomatoes

Bacon, fried crisp and broken into pieces

Mayonnaise

I combined the ingredients and added mayonnaise in place of dressing. I ate some crackers with it.

BLT Salad

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

DIY Spring Wreath

“My kids are in trouble!”

It has always been easy to shop for me because I had a great weakness for chocolate. In fact, for my last birthday, I received chocolate in many forms, see here.

But that changed after I had my gall bladder removed. Immediately following the surgery, I asked for ice cream. (I hadn’t eaten for 1 1/2 days and my throat hurt.) The nurse asked if I preferred vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry.

“Strawberry,” I replied, “chocolate sounds gross.”

Everyone in the room gasped!

My kids are going to have to think of something outside of a Russell Stover’s box for Mother’s Day!

$$$$$$$$

Flowers are also out. The last time my husband gave me flowers my allergic reaction quickly turned into a sinus infection and I was sick for a week! I have to be creative when decorating because the allergist asked me to remove all of my silk flowers, too.

I made a wreath with stickers in February, (see here), and I really liked having it on my front door. I wanted to turn it into a spring wreath. I turned it over because I want to reuse it next March.

I got out my box of decorations for Mother’s Day. It is full of rose accents, dishes, candles, etc. In it I found a bag of pot pourri that no longer held any fragrance. I took some of the large pieces to use on my wreath.

I threaded a spiral cone around the rope from which the wreath hangs.Spiral Cone on rope

I used floral wire run through a few accents to secure them.Florist wire on back of wreath

I used packing tape in a loop on the back of the flat accents.Accent and packing tape

I shoved the accents between the hearts to help keep them in place and finished it by putting a pale, pink floral accent in the center of the spiral.Wreath

Mother’s Day is May 8, 2016

Remember – the important thing is not what your kids do for you; it is what you do for your mother…and the woman you made a mother!

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

Cleaning a Box Fan

“I was dilated 2 cm…one in each eye!”

That was when the headache started. It took all afternoon and evening for my eyes to return to normal. Four days later, I was looking for anything that could be prolonging it. I cleaned the house and washed all of my bedding. The only thing left was the box fan my husband insists he needs or he can’t sleep.

“Two cuts and one tetanus shot later…”

How to Clean a Box Fan, (Lessons I learned the hard way!)

  1. Wear rubber gloves: It doesn’t matter how careful you are, that exposed metal is going to cut you. Wearing cotton glove liners under the rubber gloves is an added layer of protection.
  2. After unplugging, remove both front and back screens: The fan blades attract dust like a magnet.
  3. Put screws in a bowl: Those tiny things love to roll under furniture and disappear.
  4. Use a dry paintbrush to remove dust from motor and wiring: Dad was an electrician. He made sure we knew never to use water on electrical parts.
  5. Vacuum up as much dust and lint from the surfaces: If you try to just wipe it off you will find yourself with muddy blades.
  6. Use strong soap, like TSP: I used a mild cleanser, because I didn’t want to wear gloves, see #1. I had to wipe the blades off several times.
  7. Start all of the screws on one side before tightening: Top right, Bottom left, Right side, Left side, Bottom right, Top left.
  8. Tighten screws in reverse order: There is nothing more frustrating than having 5 screws tightened only to find the 6th screw will not go in.
  9. Let dry for several hours: I cleaned mine early in the morning, see #4.
  10. Vacuum dust and lint from your work area: The job is not done until the clean-up is done.

Enjoy your new-looking fan!

Dirty Box FanPaint brush on box fanTightening screws on box fan.Clean fan.

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