Should I Paint the Back of My China Cabinet?

I blogged about my china cabinet on Monday. I can’t decide whether to paint the back of it or not.

Help me!

Please post your opinion in the comments sections.

I Found Unclaimed Space!

For over 26 years I have lived in the same space. I know this house inside and out. I have caulked every crevice and painted almost every room. I thought I was using all of the space efficiently.

Over Christmas, I got rid of a table in my kitchen and moved a couple of appliances that were on it to the top of my china cabinet. I always decorated the top of my china cabinet and missed having the display space. I realized I was not using all of the available space inside.

Measure, plan and make a pattern.

I decided, instead of stacking the cups on the top shelf, I would hang them from the top by cup hooks. I got paper and measured the available space.

When I lay the cups on the paper, I realized they would not all fit on the top. So, I measured the sides and cut out more paper. I worked on it a few minutes here and there for a couple of weeks until I had a plan that would accommodate all of the cups.

Unsure? Try a temporary solution.

I read if you paint the back of your china cabinet a dark color; it recedes and gives you the optical illusion of a deeper cupboard. I debated painting it, and my husband discouraged it. I wanted to see what it would look like, so I taped black wrapping paper to it with green painter’s tape so there would be no damage. The jury is still out on that decision.

Execute the plan.

I taped my brown paper pattern on the sides and top, and marked where I wanted the cup hooks with a hammer and nail. I wasn’t strong enough to turn the cup hooks, so my husband drilled holes and put them in for me.

After I hung the cups, I was able to put in a few glass Easter decorations. They are safe from getting broken and I will have a new display with each holiday.

Look around you may find some unclaimed space.

My china cabinet.

Allergy Screens are an Investment

I’ve mentioned allergy screens a couple of times and thought I would show you and explain more about them.

Allergy screens look like two sheets of wire mesh with quilt batting in the middle. They have a ridged design that traps 92% of dust, pollen and mold. They also keep the rain out.

This is a worthy investment if you suffer from outdoor allergies.  Take ragweed season as an example…

You are given two choices:

1)      Run the air and keep the house shut up all of the time, or

2)      Open the windows and suffer.

Of course, option 2 can lead to a severe reaction requiring medical attention.

Using allergy screens does let in some fresh air and that is important. On the mild days you can get fresh air without allergens. Since, they do not let a lot of air in; you can keep the windows open even when it is cool outside.

Allergy screens come in two size 7” and 11”. I order them online at or

I use two in each window so the warm air can escape. Or I put the large one in the bottom of the south windows, when the breeze is from the south, and in the top of the north windows so the heat can escape from the house.

Two allergy screens in a double hung window.

The 7” screens cost from $19.95 to $22.99, and the 11” screens cost from $24.75 to $26.00. You can wash them out with water and replacement cartridges can be ordered for $14.90 to $19.99.

In my three-paned window I taped two allergy screens and heavy-duty plastic between them. The frame of the window keeps the plastic and tape secure. I added six cup hooks around each screen to keep them secure on windy days.

Two allergy screens taped to the regular screen with plastic taped between them.

In my sliding glass door, I put two 11” screens in sideways. My husband cut two pieces of wood to place against the opposite side of the sliding door to hold them in place.

Two allergy screens in my sliding glass door.

I even have two screens taped onto my screen doors. It is worthwhile to be able to shut off the air conditioner and keep the pollen out at the same time.

Winning the Lottery Won’t Help

We all dream of a day when Ed McMann knocks on our door and says…

“You have won ten million dollars!”

Oh, the things we would do if we had that much money at once. But the reality is, we rarely do those things we put off, when we do have unexpected income.

We read over and over of lottery winners who are desolate and homeless. They spent, or loaned it, until it was gone.

The problem is, when we receive a lump sum, we think of the biggest, most expensive things first. We don’t think of saving or paying down debt. Many times, we purchase something and find we cannot afford the upkeep on it.

King Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived. In a book called Proverbs he said,

“Wealth [not earned but] won in haste…will dwindle away, but he who gathers little by little will increase [his riches]. Proverbs 13:11. Amp

It is income tax time and many will be receiving a refund. We need to plan now, before we get it, how it will be used.

I have a file on my computer called, “Windfall” I list the goals I want to accomplish there:

  1. Emergency Fund – $10,000.00
  2. Pay off Credit Cards
  3. Pay off Vehicles
  4. Pay off Medical Bills
  5. Pay off House
  6. Money for children’s college
  7. Money for children’s weddings
  8. Money to replace furnace/air conditioner
  9. Money to take a vacation
  10. Money for home improvements

(It is important to prioritize your list.)

Each time I received a tax refund, or other windfall, I would refer to this list. I would put at least 10% in the emergency fund and 20% would be placed on debts. I would put some in the accounts for future expenses and spend some.

At the same time, I was putting a little from our regular income into the emergency fund and a little extra on our debt.

The beautiful thing is when you reach one of these goals you no longer need to put money toward it.

Riches are gained in the little steps we take each payday.

Tax Refund

Most Frugal Choice? Turn on AC Today

It's down to 80 in here.






It’s March and it is a balmy 81 degrees. On my husband’s lunch hour we discussed turning on the air conditioner.  He decided against it and I took preventative measures:

  • I put my hair up.
  • I rubbed baby powder in the creases of my arms and knees.
  • I made a pitcher of Ice Tea with lots of ice.
  • I shut the door to the basement, because when the temperature in the house reached 80 degrees, I would need a cool place to go.
  • I decided we would eat leftovers for supper.
  • I snacked on frozen blueberries.

You see I have allergies…hyper allergies…that keep me in my allergen free home 97% of the time. When our windows are open they have special allergy screens in them. They block most of the pollen, rain and some of the breeze. It is just the way it is in my life.

The tiniest trigger can start a reaction that will make me sick for a week. I cannot get overheated…you will never see me sweat. Sweating causes a rash that leads to hives that can start a domino effect with my throat swelling and feeling like I am choking. Yes, I carry two Epipens.

I had my plan for when the house got hot. What I did not plan on was a fire across the street!

I started getting a headache and wondered why. A few minutes later I smelled smoke; it was blowing towards my house.  I shut the house up and called my husband. (He had not uncovered the compressor yet.)

Luckily, he was able to leave work for a few minutes; he works 2 miles away, and uncover the compressor so we could run the air. By the time he got here it was 81 degrees and I just wanted to go to bed.  I set the thermostat on 79 degrees and when the house is cool, and I no longer smell smoke, I will shut it off.

My parents refused to turn the air conditioner on until July. I never understood that when it would be in the 80’s in June.  I go by the temperature inside the house.  Yesterday it got up to 81 outside, but since it was the first hot day, the house did pretty well.

Running the air for a few hours will be much cheaper than a doctor’s visit and being sick for a week.  If you have infants or elderly people living with you, remember they can’t take the heat.  If your spouse does not want to turn on the air and the temperature is over 80, tell them Frugalfish recommended it!

Sometimes you have to spend money to save money.

P.S. The fire is out and the firemen are gone.


Frugal Decorating

I love decorating my home for holidays…not just Christmas, but Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, 4th of July, Halloween and Thanksgiving!

I put little touches all around the house. A week before the holiday, I start thinking about the decorations for the next one.

I received my April Family Circle Magazine and they featured dyed eggs. I would love to dye lots of eggs and make monogrammed eggs for place cards or even an egg garland like I saw in the magazine.

I don’t want to buy, and hard-boil, dozens of eggs; so I am doing a Frugalfish alternative…I am blowing the eggs out of the shells as I use them for cooking.

It takes a little time, and effort, but if I only do a couple as I use the eggs it is manageable. By the time I am ready to dye eggs, I will have plenty on hand.

I won’t have to worry about real eggs being left out…or accidentally being packed up with the plastic eggs…don’t ask me how I know.

St. Patrick’s Day Shelf!

Challenges Need Not Stop You

I was reading an article by Margaret Haberman about Dale Chihuly, who was described as…

“One of Americas most prominent and prolific living artist, Chihuly is credited with elevating the craft of glassmaking to a fine art.” American Profile, January 15-21, 2012

“He was the first American to work in the Venini glass factory in Venice, where he observed a collaborative approach to blowing glass – in which a master artist choreographs a team of assistants to create an intricate design, much like a maestro conducts an orchestra or a director oversees the cast and crew of a movie or play.”

“From the beginning, Chihuly liked the team approach to glassmaking and embraced the practice completely after losing sight in his left eye in a 1976 car accident in England and three years later dislocating his right shoulder in a body surfing accident – injuries that made it physically difficult for him to sculpt glass himself.”

“His glass sculptures have grown increasingly grand through the years, adorning the lobby of the Bellagio resort in Las Vegas, the 2002 Olympics site in Salt Lake City, the canals in Venice, Italy, and botanical gardens from New York to London. More than a million people flocked to see his sculpture in Jerusalem during a yearlong exhibit that ended in 2000.”

“His work has become a source of pride in his native Tacoma, thanks in part to the artist and many public displays of his sculpture in the city’s cultural district. The most famous is the Chihuly Bridge of Glass, a 500 foot long pedestrian walkway that was built in 2002.”

Chihuly Bridge of Glass


After those two accidents he could have given up on glass blowing. Instead, he surrounded himself with talented artists.

In December, 2007, when I stepped down from my job due to a health issue, I could have given up. I have always had a passion for writing, finances, and the Bible. The last one is the most important because all of the secrets to wealth are in those pages!

The richest man who ever lived wrote Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon, (or Song of Songs).

  • Proverbs has all of his wisdom recorded.
  • Ecclesiastes is writings where he evaluated the meaning of life.
  • Song of Solomon is the best book on sex and love ever written.

Read the Bible and find the answers for yourself. And like Chihuly, surround yourself with gifted financial people.

I’m sure my net worth has doubled, in spite of the fact that I had a zero income for the last four years; (I worked for a 501c (3) organization and they are not required to pay unemployment.) because I followed the advice and teaching of these experts. (There are links to their websites on the right hand side of my blog.)

  1. – Live within your means and get out of debt.
  2. – Make a spending plan and seven steps to financial freedom.
  3. – finding treasures in your own home and routines to take care of it.
  4. – the steps to making your money work for you.
  5. – Online financial planning for the rest of your life.

I am not an expert; I am more of a reporter. I wanted to introduce you to the members of my team. I am constantly adding to my team. The first member was Larry Burkett, who passed away in 2003. I am still reading his books. The most recent member is Dave Ramsey.

No matter what challenges you face, I pray you are like Dale Chihuly and build your own team. Only God knows what you can do then!

Keeping Up With the Jones’ Phones

Each generation has more opportunities to flourish than the one before. I remember my grandparents saying they are thrilled how easy life is for their children.

Take the telephones, as an example.

My grandparents, farmers in Iowa, lived part of their lives without a phone. They would be shocked to see their great-grandchildren not only have a phone, but they have their own number…no party lines…and they can communicate with people all over the world with them!

They can do in seconds what my grandparents would assign a day to do.

Shopping – We have an app for that and it will be here tomorrow. My grandparents had to wait until Saturday, when they went to town to shop.

We get impatient and use credit to have it now. My farming grandparents had to wait until the fall to see how the harvest was before they made major purchases. Some purchases were put off for years. They made it themselves, made do with what they had, or did without…a concept unheard of today.

My parents had to wait until the end of the month. My generation had to wait until the end of the week, until credit cards became available to the masses.

Some of my children’s generation doesn’t wait at all. They receive their first student loan and then they buy a car we worked and saved for years to purchase. They go on vacations to exotic places I’m sure I may never see. They have large TV’s, the fastest computers, and games I may never buy.

But the price they pay will be the stress from carrying that debt…some for the rest of their lives.

They say you have to keep up with the latest technology, but there are two problems:

  1. Today’s technology will be obsolete tomorrow, and
  2. If you are always trying to keep up…it will be either sink or swim.

We are forgetting there is a third option available to us…


Choose at what point you will get back in the river and invest in newer technology. The river will always be there, but I prefer to only swim occasionally. I have found walking to be much more efficient and a lot less stressful and tiring.

My husbands phone and my phone.


I have upgraded my blog to a new domain name…

You can reach this blog using either URL; but this one is a little easier to remember!

(I am always looking for ways to simplify!)

Shrink to Stay Afloat, Part 2

Just like Liberty Bank, in the Des Moines Sunday Register article, I ended up reducing assets to stay afloat.

Each of us has a unique situation; what works for one family will not work for another family.

A few months into joblessness, my husband’s cell phone broke. I realized, since I was restricted to my home due to a health issue, I really didn’t need a cell phone. We have a land line and we get the internet through it. I gave him my phone and we canceled the contract on the broken one. (It was overdue for renewal.)

Seriously, why did I need a cell phone? The only time I cannot be reached is when I am “indisposed” and I am not the type to take my phone to the bathroom with me!

I honestly have not missed the phone over the last four years. There was only one time that I wished I had a cell phone and that was when I was at the hospital as my dad was dying. My siblings were generous and let me use their phones for the few times I needed to contact my husband.

This is not a post against cell phones. When my kids found a job, and could pay for the service, we added them to our plan. They have to pay for the additional costs to our plan, and any extras, like unlimited texting. If their phone broke, they had to pay for the new one.

Our sons are hard on phones, so they chose to pay to add the insurance to their plans. Our daughter did not.

Oddly enough, I survived the first thirty-three years of my life without a cell phone! I think I will be just fine.