Multipurpose Landscaping

Last year many evergreen trees died. My neighbor had to remove three. Unfortunately, the largest provided shade for my southeast picture window. I needed a fast, temporary source of shade.

I decided to use vegetables!

The magazine, “Our Iowa”, sends out 4 seeds of genetically modified corn. This corn can grow over 15 feet tall. They have a contest to see who will grow the first 20 foot stalk. There were pictures of the corn stretching up to the second floor. We planted our four seeds in front of the picture window.

Then I addressed the issue of the sun entering my window from the east at seven-thirty in the morning.

The garage is to the east of the window, so I could not plant corn in the cement driveway. There is a small rectangle of dirt between the driveway and steps. My husband built a lattice panel, attaching it perpendicularly to the house. We planted cucumbers to climb on it.

I have a small basement window to the west that lets in a lot of heat. We planted green beans in front of it and sweet corn in front of the south bedroom windows.

All of these provided some shade for the house and veggies for the table.

I saved the best ear of corn for seeds for next year. I plan on harvesting seeds from the tomatoes and cucumbers, too. I want to plant two rows of “Our Iowa” corn, starting at the driveway in front of the sidewalk, to provide more hours of shade. I think I will plant climbing Peas on the lattice as the cucumbers did not climb very high.

The corn did not grow as tall as I expected. A farmer told me they looked like they needed nitrogen.

He said, “Go pee on them.”

I didn’t…but I think next year I will add miracle grow!

Since the weather has cooled, we pulled all of the vegetables. Now I get the benefit of the heat and light from the sun on my picture window.

As you can see, the local deer approved of my temporary shade.

Deer eating the corn leaves.


Deer eating the leaves of the cucumbers we planted by lattice.

I Expanded My Visual Space

We set up our computer in our front room when our kids were young to monitor what they viewed online. Our youngest is now in college and our oldest has a family of his own.

We decided to make an office out of our oldest sons’ former bedroom. See how we increased our visual space?

I don’t put pictures on the TV wall for the same reason…visual space.

TV Wall Before Picture













TV Wall After Picture

Expand Your House For Free

There was a man who went to his Rabbi because he was unhappy with the size of his house.

The Rabbi told him to move his cow into the house. He came back a week later and said he was still unhappy.

The Rabbi told him to move his horse into the house. This went on week after week. Each week the Rabbi would tell him to bring in another animal.

When the barn was empty, the man returned again, still unhappy.

The Rabbi told him to move the cow back to the barn. Over the course of time, the man moved the animals back to the barn one at a time. As he did his happiness increased. His house was not larger, but his visual space increased.” Author Unknown

We do the same thing in our homes. When we first move in, we inherit a couch or have one given to us. We work around that “cow” and get used to its presence. But it takes up too much space and we keep running into it.

Or we buy the large-screen TV that you can see across the street. You are too close to it to watch it comfortably from your seat.

We add smaller furniture, knickknacks, plants, rugs, chairs, etc. They all take up visual space. If you are not spending time in a room, it is not functioning. Sell, or give away, the “too large” furniture. When you buy furniture, or a TV, do your research to know what size is the right proportion for the room. In my 10’X12’ front room, a 32” flat screen was the correct size and inexpensive.

You will spend the rest of your life getting rid of the small stuff because our needs are constantly changing. calls it “De-cluttering”.  She recommends spending a few minutes a day on it and will show you how to decide what to keep.

When we get rid of what is broken, no longer needed, no longer loved, we open up the space in our house to bring in the most important things – People!

As a bonus, you will never forget the joy on a recipients face when you give them something they really need. I donated my entire silk flower collection, with vases and paraphernalia, to the local high school for their production of “Little Shop of Horrors.” (I had to get rid of it because of dust allergies.) I can still see the awe in the faces of the four students, in two trucks, who picked it up.

The less I have, the happier I am.

There’s No Place Like Home…

Monday night I ironed the tablecloths, pressed the cloth napkins into turkeys and set the tables. When I finished I asked my husband to help me cover them with sheets to protect them from dust.

When my son came home from college he exclaimed, “Mom, you trashed the basement!”

I do not have a dining room, so I set tables up in two rooms in my basement. I set the food up, buffet style, in a third room. The fourth room is his bedroom. (He considers my basement his apartment.)

He thought I had piled a bunch of junk on the tables and covered them with sheets.

Yea, right…with Thanksgiving tomorrow?

My house is not as large as I would like, and I wish I had a dining room, but I have learned how to make it work. (We had 23 relatives at one time last Christmas in a 640 square foot basement!)

You may be looking around your house and wishing it was larger, more up-to-date, had new furniture, etc. I thought I would help you put it in perspective. Below is a description of three houses Abraham Lincoln lived in as a child.

Where He Was Born

“It was in a hunter’s hut on the edge of these lonely barrens, deep in the winter of 1809, that Abraham Lincoln came into the world. He was born on a Sunday morning – born on a bed of poles covered with corn husks. It was storming outside, and the February wind blew the snow through the cracks between the logs and drifted it across the bearskin that covered Nancy and her baby.”

Their First Cabin

“The first snow of winter was already falling when the family arrived; and Tom Lincoln hastily built what was then known as “a three-faced camp”. Today it would be called a shed. It had no floor, no door, no windows – nothing but three sides and a roof of poles and brush. The fourth side was entirely open to wind and snow and sleet and cold. Nowadays an up-to-date farmer in Indiana wouldn’t winter his cattle or hogs in such a crude shelter, but Tom Lincoln felt it was good enough for himself and his family all during the long winter of 1816-17, one of the severest and most violent winters in our history.

(They) slept there that winter like dogs, curled up on a heap of leaves and bearskins dumped on the dirt floor in a corner of the shed.”

The Second Cabin

A short time before Nancy’s death Tom Lincoln had built a new cabin. It had four sides, but no floor, no windows, no door. A dirty bearskin hung over the entrance, and the interior was dark and foul. No sunlight warmed and purified the cabin.”

“Lincoln the Unknown” by Dale Carnegie

Our houses look like a palace in comparison!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Necessity is the Mother of Invention!

I have always tried to use what I had on hand before buying new. I thought I was pretty creative until I read about Ann McGinty. She is my new hero!

“Ann McGinty and her husband brought the first hogs into Kentucky, the first ducks and the first spinning-wheel; and they also declare that she was the first woman ever to make butter out there in the dark and bloody wilderness. But her real claim to fame rests upon the fact that she performed an economic and textile miracle. Cotton could be neither grown nor purchased there in the mysterious Indian country, and timber-wolves slaughtered the sheep. So it was well-nigh impossible to find any substance from which clothes could be made. Then the ingenious Ann McGinty found a way of spinning thread and making “McGinty cloth” from two substances that were both plentiful and cheap – nettle lint and buffalo wool. It was a tremendous discovery, and housewives traveled as far as a hundred and fifty miles to sit in her cabin and learn the new art.”

Excerpt from “Lincoln the Unknown” by Dale Carnegie

Lessons from Lincoln – Schoolhouse

“The school was a crude cabin barely high enough for the teacher to stand up in. There were no windows; a log had been left out at each side, and the opening covered with greased paper to let in the light. The floor and seats were made of split logs.

Lincoln said, ‘…The little advance I now have upon this store of education, I have picked up from time to time under the pressure of necessity.’

When he came across a passage that appealed especially to him, he would chalk it down on a board if he had no paper. Finally, he made a crude scrapbook. In this he wrote all his favorites, using a buzzard’s quill for a pen and pokeberry juice for ink. He carried the scrapbook with him and studied it until he could repeat many long poems and speeches by heart.”

“The Unknown Lincoln” – By Dale Carnegie

We think we have it rough if we attend a community college and live at home!

Abraham Lincoln never stopped learning.

I intend to do the same.

Lessons From Lincoln – Education

I am reading a book about Abraham Lincoln. It is amazing the difference between his school years and my children’s.

My children never lacked textbooks, paper, pens or pencils. But Abraham Lincoln did.

“Paper was scarce and high, so he wrote on a board with a charcoal stick – sometimes he ciphered on the flat sides of the hewn logs that formed the cabin walls. Whenever a bare surface became covered with figures and writing he shaved them off with a drawing-knife and began anew.

Too poor to buy arithmetic, he borrowed one and copied it on sheets of paper about the size of ordinary letterhead. Then he sewed them together with twine, and so had a homemade arithmetic of his own.”

“Lincoln the Unknown” by Dale Carnegie

Our children feel neglected if they do not have the latest in technology. Yet, Abraham Lincoln was desperately poor and had to make do with what he had available.

Doing without did not keep him from his destiny. To reach our full potential, we should look around and use what we have on hand.

College Boy Caught a Cold!

Since my college boy came home this weekend with a cold I decided to print off my “Dress for the Weather” blog for him. When I looked it up, I was amazed to see that I posted it almost two years ago. I decided to just post it again.

It amazes me when I see a teen in a tee-shirt and hooded sweatshirt in twenty degree weather.  Then they come in the house and wrap up in blankets to try to warm back up.

I like to keep the thermostat on sixty-eight degrees during the day and sixty-five at night. I only have one thing to say to them…dress for the weather!

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, Light-weight Socks

Short Sleeves & Light-weight Pants (or)

Short Sleeved Dress & Pantyhose (or)

Short Sleeved Shirt, Skirt & Pantyhose

50-59 Degrees – Closed Toe Shoes, Light-weight Socks

Long Sleeved Shirt & Light-weight Pants (or)

Long Sleeved Dress & Pantyhose (or)

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

Outerwear: Light-weight 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

Outerwear: 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 tee.

Outerwear: 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

Outerwear: 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

Outerwear: 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

Outerwear: 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!

Oops, I Was Wrong!

I made a mistake in my blog entitled, “Mr. Frugalfish Buys a Sun Tea Jar.”

I said the canister he purchased was dishwasher safe.

I stand corrected. I should have hand-washed it!

Plastic canister is NOT dishwasher safe.

Mr. Frugal Fish Saves the Day

I demonstrated that our toilet was now multitasking to my daughter. In the process of being a smart-Alec, I managed to accidentally flush the hook you use to attach the chain to the lever.

But, Mr. Frugal Fish came to the rescue with a paper clip. It is actually thicker than the hook that was used before. It is just one of my Frugal Fish Follies. I  may need to make a category for them.

Mr. Frugal Fish's paper clip hook.