Strengthen the Weak Areas

This post is late in the day because I gave in to my weakness…Spider Solitaire. (I actually gave it up for Lent; but Easter is over.) Today of all days, I really should have done better because my blog is about strengthening weak areas.

We have mini blinds on all of our windows. When they wear out, they break right next to the area where the cord comes out. It gets a lot of stress from being opened and shut every day.

My husband cut some dowels into six-inch pieces and we put them in the mini blinds at the weakest point. The frame of the mini blind cannot bend no matter how hard I pull on it because it is strengthened by the dowel.

(Now if I could just find something to strengthen my resolve not to play Spider Solitaire all afternoon.)



I endeavor to post to this blog three times a week. If I miss a day it is because I am sick…or my granddaughter came to visit! Last week both cases were true.

My granddaughter came to visit two weeks in row:  the first time because her mom was in the hospital and the second time because they were moving.  Her mom is fine now, but was hospitalized for four days. My granddaughter, 1,  was really missing her and was having a difficult time napping for Grandma.  So I did something stupid. I lay down with her in my bed.

You see I have severe allergies. So severe that I can have a reaction getting a hug from someone who owns a pet and has animal dander on their clothes. I have to stay in a highly protective environment 97% of the time. Letting her lay down in my bed was dumb and I paid for it.

The next day I woke up with eyes like Garfield. They were watery, red, bloodshot, itchy and swollen. I used my allergy drops and started taking Benadryl on top of my regular antihistamine. The reaction was from the pollen in her hair and on her clothes.

(This story may not seem to have anything to do with saving money, but I am getting to that.)

I have frequent allergic reactions, so I don’t go to the doctor until I have tried to treat it for seven to ten days. On day seven I called the doctor, but he was out of town for the weekend!

I called back bright an early Monday morning to make an appointment. (Now comes the money part.) I knew I needed steroids.

He gave me two choices:

  1. Get a steroid shot that was 100% covered by insurance, but would give me a large dose that would have the same side effects as a round of oral steroids, or
  2. Get a prescription of just the steroid eye drops that would cost me $50.00 with my insurance.

I have been Frugalfish for a long time; which option do you think I chose?

When we make decisions with our money we need to take everything into consideration.

  • Is this a temporary fix?
  • Will this have harmful side effects?
  • Is this the best option for me at this point?
  • Will this solution last?

We get caught up in the question of what is the cheapest option and it may not be the most frugal option. Being frugal has nothing to do with being cheap. There is a huge difference. Frugal is choosing the best option based on the circumstances.

I walked out of the examining room and told the nurse, “I talked the doctor out of a shot!” She laughed.

It was worth it to pay fifty bucks to avoid the side effects that I would have subjected my body to with option #1.

Pie Crust So Simple Your Son Could Make It!

My family spent summers with my Grandma Whitmore when my father was on staff at two different Bible Colleges. My grandmother had a routine for each day – my favorite was Saturday because she made pies for Sunday dinner.

I loved watching her roll them out. She invited all six of her children’s families to Sunday dinner so she made several pies: Chocolate Meringue, Apple, Blueberry, Cherry, Lemon Meringue, Raspberry, Custard, etc. She made the crust from scratch and used fresh ingredients from the farm for the fillings.

Her pie crust was always flaky and delicious. The amazing thing is it is only four ingredients. It is so easy that my son made the pies for Christmas last year because I was taking care of my husband who was sick.

Marie Whitmore’s Pie Crust

4 cups flour

2 cups Crisco (refrigerated was best)

1 scant cup water

Dash of Salt

Sprinkle salt over flour. Cut the Crisco into the flour with a pastry blender. Add a scant cup of water and cut the dough with a pastry blender until combined. Divide into four sections. Take one section and pack the dough like a snowball.


Roll the dough into a circle.


Put flour on the rolling pin and roll the circle onto the rolling pin. Unroll the dough into a pie pan.

Roll pie off of rolling pin onto pie pan.

Pinch the edges of the pie for a one crust pie, like pumpkin, or roll out a second circle and put it over your filling. You can seal it with a fork for a different effect.

So simple a college freshman can do it!

Don’t Let Your Carpet Fray at the Seams

I noticed the carpet was coming apart at the seam between the living room and the hall. I got out my upholstery needle and regular thread. I took four strands of thread and threaded it in the upholstery needle.

Using the upholstery needle, I sewed the seam back together.

Now when I vacuum, that seam will not be pulled up and it will extend the life of my carpet.

Tweak It

We think we need to totally remodel a room when it is not working, but sometimes all we need to do is tweak it. I have not liked how dark my big room in the basement was and thought I needed to add several more lights.  This is how the table looked on Thanksgiving, 2009.


Then, on a whim, Mr. Frugalfish decided to move the light from one side of a board on the unfinished ceiling to the other side. It made a huge difference. This is how the table looked on Thanksgiving, 2011.



All is needed was a little tweak!

My Frugal Friends Go Shrimping!

My frugal friends, Ken and Jill, just returned from a month in Florida. While they were there, they decided to try their hand at shrimping.

I loved their frugal shrimp net and the math they did to show the value of the shrimp they caught. I asked their permission to share these photos and they agreed.

They did post a few thoughts to remember:
1. I was required to have a non-resident fishing license.
2. I had to know when Shrimping season is open and closed (April and May).
3. Three different Government agencies control fishing regulations; our responsibilities to know the regulations.  I use a fishing paper put out for fishermen which consolidates a summary of regulations.
4. Shrimp are not always floating by shore, a person must figure out where to go for access to current and when (we used an outgoing tide occurring at sundown or just after)
5. Wind can affect current.
6. I have found not everyone I talked to for advice know what they are talking about.  Evaluate your sources.

Hope this helps,
















































































The last picture is the best of the catch! The moral of this story is to know the laws, use what you have and be creative.

Make Alterations Before You Wash an Item

I am the most difficult person to buy clothes for as a gift. I prefer the tall sizes because my arms and legs are long. My skin is so sensitive, that I can only wear 100% cotton or 100% silk. I admit; I don’t have much silk.

My daughter found some 100% cotton pajamas and bought them for me. Of course, once I washed them, the sleeves would be too short. So before I wore them, or washed them, I let the hem down on the legs and the sleeves.

If you alter them before you wash them, you don’t end up with those lines that make it obvious you let the hem out.

Those fold lines disappeared after I washed the pajamas.

I grew up with those lines in all of my pants and skirts. My older sister is a five foot two blonde. I am a couple of inches taller. When she handed clothes down to me the hems had to be let out and I lived with those lines, but not anymore!

Measure, Plan, Move, Party!

I have written several times, that less is more and sometimes visual space makes all the difference in your house. It is amazing how removing a couple of pieces of furniture and rearranging what is left can do.

I have hosted family dinners for a couple of years now, and I use a room in my basement as the dining room. Here the table is set for Thanksgiving, 2009. If you look closely to the right, you will see a bookcase that is over 10 feet long.

We moved that bookcase to the opposite side of the room a week ago. We gave away a storage unit and took out two tables. That freed enough space to add a table to the end of our big table, and I was able to seat the entire family around the two tables.

This was what the room looked like right before Easter dinner yesterday.

Easter dinner for the extended family.

I didn’t just start moving furniture. I measured everything and cut out pieces of paper to scale, 1 inch for 1 foot, and moved them around on paper first. It is amazing how much room you have when you remove clutter. If you don’t know where to start, visit

Don’t Flip on the Furnace, Flip on the Fan

I was amazed when I woke up this morning and found the temperature outside was 30 degrees. It was only two weeks ago that it was in the eighties! I didn’t want to turn the furnace back on so I opened the curtains and switched the direction of the ceiling fan.

Ceiling fans have two directions, but not all fans are made the same. Stand under the fan, if you feel the air blowing down on you that is the setting for summer. The other direction is for winter.  To make it easier on myself, I marked the fan with an “S” for summer and a “W” for winter, that way when the weather changes, I can tell at a glance if I have the fan going the correct direction.


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One Skillet Supper

I just put a whole chicken in the oven, slathered in butter, sprinkled with Tarragon, salt and pepper, stuck on the center of a Bundt pan, on top of a cookie sheet. I like simple meals without a lot of fancy, expensive ingredients. During spring, we ache to be outside and the last thing we want to do is slave over a hot stove!

Here is another easy, meal with a only a few ingredients.

One Skillet Supper

1 lb. hamburger

6 potatoes

6 carrots

Minced onion

Salt and Pepper

In an electric skillet, layer the hamburger. Sprinkle with onion and salt and pepper.




Add a layer of potatoes.




Add a layer of carrots.





Cook on 350 for an hour. Do not remove lid or turn food over.




I serve it with ketchup. It is an easy meal that cooks while you play!