But We’ve Always Done It That Way…

I’ve shared many times my love of decorating for seasons and holidays. (Not many people have a box marked “Mother’s Day Decorations.” Lol)

I set out Patriotic decorations from Memorial Day until after July 4th. I even put small flags in my potted plants in honor of Flag Day!

I spend the most time making a centerpiece for my tables. Last year, I created a centerpiece out of some blue dishes, a Christmas tray, and a flameless candle, see here.

When I was getting out my decorations this year, I wanted a simpler centerpiece. I decided to go with star-shaped candles.

We get into trouble when we try to make each year bigger and better than the last. We spend more money, more time, more effort, but get a smaller return. Sometimes, we find we have just run up the credit card bill.

If I am in the mood for an extravagant dinner party, I will iron the napkins and tablecloths and get out the china. But sometimes, life is just busy and I will use paper plates. Other times, I use my every day dishes and jazz up the centerpiece.

My point is every holiday dinner does not have to be perfect…or formal. Sometimes we just need to keep it simple. The most frugal thing you can do is Use What You Have!

P.S. I made the runner in the photo. I just laid another runner I liked over the material and cut it out with an extra inch all around. I sewed it together and quilted it by hand. I used two different materials, a scrap of quilt batting, and made it reversible.

My 2015 Patriotic centerpiece with my homemade runner.

My 2015 Patriotic centerpiece with my homemade runner.


Exercise? Who me?

A stabbing pain on my right side stopped me in my tracks. Appendicitis?

I tried to remember the symptoms Margaret Houlihan listed on the episode of “MASH” when she had her appendix removed:

  • Fever? No.
  • Tender to the touch? No.
  • Swelling? No.

Okay, it wasn’t my appendix, but what could it be?

When my husband came home for lunch I mentioned the pain to him.

He theorized, “Since we tore up the first-floor bathroom, you have had to make a lot more trips to the basement bathroom. You are using muscles you rarely use a lot more.” (That explained why my butt and thighs were sore also.)

What does that have to do with living frugally? It made me think about exercise equipment.

I wonder how many people purchased a “Stair Master” when they already had a full set of stairs in their home? Why not just walk, or run, up and down the stairs and build up the repetitions?

I am not against purchasing exercise equipment. It just seems foolish to buy a stationary bike when you have a regular bike in the garage.

This brings me to confess “Frugalfish Folly”.

A couple of years ago I read that rebounding, (exercising on a mini trampoline), was a good way to protect your knees. My boss, at the time, had just had knee replacement surgery. After watching her recovery I decided to do whatever I could to avoid that surgery.

I had saved my personal spending money for a couple of months so I had the funds to pick up a mini trampoline and exercise DVD.

This was NOT, I repeat NOT, a well thought out purchase.

Our home is a 24′ X 47′ ranch house with three bedrooms and 8′ ceilings. There is a full basement with 7′ ceilings.

The only rooms with space for the trampoline were the front room upstairs or the TV room downstairs. Unfortunately, the front room upstairs has a ceiling fan with an attached light fixture hanging down.

After a few close calls with the ceiling fan, I decided to use it in the basement. After a few close calls trying to “rebound” between the ceiling joists, I rolled the trampoline under the stairs and sold it at “Play It Again Sports.”

From now on, I am going to be creative in exercise equipment. Here are some of my ideas:

  • Instead of buying dumbbells, you can use cans of food.
  • You can cut a jump rope out of clothesline rope and tie knots in the ends.
  • Instead of buying a walking machine you could just take a walk.
  • Instead of buying a rowing machine, rent a canoe and enjoy nature while you get your workout.
  • Instead of buying an “Ab Circle”, you can mop the floor with a cloth on your hands and knees, cleaning from side to side as far as you can reach without moving your knees.
  • Instead of buying a “Bow-flex” exercise machine you can move furniture and clean under it or move boxes as you clean out storage areas. You will be pushing, pulling, squatting and lifting.

My exercise equipment now is a recliner! I walk behind it, see http://wp.me/pKNzn-xE.

The back of my recliner and a Chromebook substitutes for a treadmill.

The back of my recliner and a Chromebook substitutes for a treadmill.

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Easy Peasy Macaroni Salad

I have 2 salads I make when we grill out in the summer. We grill out about once a week and I end up alternating between potato salad and macaroni salad. I know there are a million other recipes I can use, but I know I will always have the ingredients for these 2 salads on hand.

Easy Peasy Macaroni Salad

7 Ounces Elbow or Shell Macaroni

8 Ounces Frozen Green Peas

1 Cup Cubed Cheddar Cheese

1 Cup Sliced Pickles

3/4 Cup Mayonnaise

1 Tablespoon Dry, Minced Onion

Salt and Pepper

Cook macaroni. Mix macaroni, peas, pickles, onion, salt and pepper together. (The heat from the macaroni will defrost the peas.) Add mayonnaise and cheese last. Cover and refrigerate two hours.

Easy Peasy Macaroni Salad.

Easy Peasy Macaroni Salad.

Saving Money During National Dairy Month

Pizza with the cheesy melted and stringy, macaroni and cheese like Grandma made it, tacos with cheddar cheese and sour cream, a frothy glass of milk, your favorite ice cream. These are all favorite foods in our diet. We can really run up the grocery bill buying the ingredients. How can we save on dairy?


  1. Check the price of milk at gas stations on your regular route. For years I bought milk at a Casey’s near my job. It was the cheapest milk in town. Remember the cost of gas when comparing prices. It is not worth it to drive out of your way to buy milk that is a few pennies cheaper.
  2. Stretch that gallon with nonfat dry milk. Mix up a half-gallon of nonfat dry milk using warm water so it dissolves completely. Combine it with a half-gallon of regular milk and you will have double the milk with no noticeable change of taste. It works best with whole milk or 2%. You are also cutting down the amount of fat you consume.
  3. Measure it. A serving of milk is eight ounces. When my husband gets a glass of milk he pulls out a 16 ounce glass. That is two servings. At mealtimes you could fill 8 ounce glasses with milk and set a pitcher of ice water on the table. When the milk is gone, refill with water. We don’t drink enough water anyway.

Note: The doctor told us the reason kids are bigger and taller than we are was because of the hormones in dairy products. When we allow our kids to have unlimited milk and dairy products we are exposing them to more hormones.


  1. Cut it yourself. My husband likes a slice of cheese on his sandwich at lunch. I am a salad girl and I like chunks of cheese or cheese crumbles on my salad. We prefer real cheese over cheese food. We no longer purchase packages of sliced, individually wrapped cheese. We now buy a pound of cheese. I cut the end off to make the chunk the size of a piece of bread. David slices it up for his sandwiches. I cut the end piece into cubes and  have enough for five or six cubes of cheese on my salad all week-long. Another trick is to slice the end and use two narrow pieces of cheese per sandwich. It goes a lot further.
  2. Shred it yourself. You can buy a chunk of cheese and shred it in your food processor. This does not work for all varieties of cheese. It is cheaper to buy it by the pound than to purchase bags of shredded cheese, see http://wp.me/pKNzn-cH.
  3. Protect your cheese. The secret to making your cheese last longer is to hold it with the wrapper. When your fingers touch the cheese the oil from your fingers can cause it to mold more quickly. Or wear plastic gloves when handling cheese. Always protect cheese from air. I store mine in Ziplock bags. Many varieties of cheese freeze well. When shredded cheese is on sale I stock up and freeze it.

Ice Cream

  1. A cone, not a bowl. It is worth it to purchase cones. You cannot get as much ice cream in them as you can a bowl. Yet, it is just as satisfying as eating a bowl of ice cream. A trick to stop sugar cones from dripping is to put a miniature marshmallow in the bottom before adding ice cream.
  2. Portion control. I would get out a desert bowl when I had ice cream. The men in my family would get out an extra deep soup bowl and fill it. A half-gallon of ice cream is two servings to them. I made the “two scoops rule”. No matter what size of bowl, you could only get two scoops. When you are using a round ice cream scoop my rule worked well. When they got out the flat ice cream scoop…not so much. It’s amazing how much ice cream they can get on it!


  1. Bigger is better. I buy the 32 ounce container of vanilla yogurt and add my own fruit to a four-ounce serving. It is much cheaper than the single serving containers.
  2. Grow your own. I recently read at Debt Proof Living, that you can grow yogurt. Boil a half-gallon of milk and allow it to sit in a cool place. When lukewarm, add 1 Tablespoon Dannon plain yogurt, stir and cover. Let it sit on top of the stove overnight. It will be done the following day. This makes sugar-free yogurt. You can add fruit, honey or granola to sweeten it.

Sour Cream:

  1. Make your own. I found two methods of making sour cream at www.mahalo.com/how-to-make-sour-cream.

Overnight Method to Make Sour Cream

If you’d prefer to have a little more control over the sour cream, here is a way to make it overnight.

  • What You’ll Need
  • What to Do
  1. Sterilize a canning jar in boiling water Pour the cream and buttermilk into the hot jar.
  2. Cover the jar tightly and shake to combine the ingredients
    • Keep at room temperature until it reaches the desired thickness
    • A higher percentage of butterfat in the cream will produce a thicker sour cream.
    • Store in the refrigerator up to three weeks.
    • Throw the sour cream away if mold begins to form on the top.

Blender Method to Make Sour Cream

Another way to make sour cream is using a blender.

  • What You’ll Need
  • What to Do
  1. Pour the cottage cheese, milk and lemon juice into a blender. Mix on medium-high speed until smooth.
  2. Refrigerate before serving.

Dairy can also be a budget stretcher. Replace a meat entrée with macaroni and cheese or have a grilled cheese sandwich instead of a ham and cheese. When you add eggs you can have cheesy omelets, cheesy egg bakes, etc.

A new trend in cost cutting is to serve breakfast for dinner. The stuffed French toast you don’t have time to make in the morning can make a great evening meal.

I would love to hear your tips!

Saving Money on Dairy

A Little Reinforcement Here

I love my waterbed.

I know you are flashing back to the 70’s, but that bed got me through several months of bed-rest when I was carrying my last two children. At one point, the nurse asked me how I managed to avoid bed sores and I shared that a waterbed does not give you any pressure points.

During my single days, I was referred to as “The Waterbed Girl,” because there was only one waterbed store in town and I moved to town to work there. (My husband sure enjoyed my nickname. He’d announce, “Yeah, I’m dating “The Waterbed Girl.”)

There is one downside to a waterbed and that is finding waterbed sheets that will stay on. I shared my frustrations in a posts, see http://wp.me/pKNzn-qu.

Waterbed sheets consist of a top sheet that is sewn to the base of a bottom sheet. It is only sewn together in the center third of the sheet for those who like to stick their feet out from under the sheet.

Unfortunately, over time, the top sheet can tear away from the bottom sheet and then it will unravel. I have used the zigzag stitch to sew the sheets back together a few times.

This time I added seam binding to the seam and used the zigzag stitch over all of the seam binding.

I added seam binding to the base of my waterbed sheets.

I added seam binding to the base of my waterbed sheets.

Under-Insulated Walls

Summer is in full swing and I decided to slow down a little bit. I am using the popular TBT, (Throw Back Thursday) idea. I will be reviewing my posts from 5 years ago…when my only followers were: my husband, my sister, and my best friend!

I live in a home with under-insulated walls. We replaced all the windows, but have not had the funds to insulate the walls. (We did insulate the attic when we bought our home.)

So, what do you do until you can insulate?

1) Furniture Placement: Put bulky furniture on outside walls, i.e. china cabinets, dressers, bookshelves, filing cabinets, dressers. In your storage areas stack boxes along the north and west walls. Another tip is to put a throw over a kitchen chair and place it against the wall.

2) Wall Coverings: Hang a quilt, tapestry, throw, or even place mats on outside walls. You can hang them on curtain rods or attach them directly to the wall. See how to convert a throw to a tapestry here: http://wp.me/pKNzn-tm.

3) Pictures: Do large groupings of artwork and photos on outside walls. I balance it with a blank or empty inside wall.

4) Mount furniture: Shelves are obvious, but you can also hang folding chairs and card tables, see http://wp.me/pKNzn-tj.

5) Stack stuff on the floor: I have a box of last years receipts against the wall behind a chair in the living room. On top of it I store a lap table that leans against the wall. I have also stacked briefcases and bags behind furniture against the outside wall.

6) Fill in the holes: I have a china cabinet in the north-east corner of my kitchen. I rolled up my tablecloths and wrapped them in plastic wrap to keep the dust off. I stacked the rolls between the wall and the china cabinet.  If I fold them into a narrow rectangle before I roll them, they don’t even show.

7) Insulate behind cabinets: I shoved newspaper between the Masonite board behind my Lazy Susan cabinet and Astro Foil behind the drawers on the outside wall, see http://wp.me/pKNzn-3O.

There are also many ways to insulate outside as you will see in the comments section!

My throw/tapestry.

My throw/tapestry.

I Didn’t Realize How Lucky I am

Last week I whined about not meeting my Twitter goal. I didn’t realize how lucky I am! I have 10 followers and I have something in common with all of them. Many I know personally.

I learned how lucky I am when I read a post called, “Why I Abandoned My Popular Social Media Presence” at “Ethical Thinker” see http://ethicalthinker.com/?category=social+media. (Thank you Daily Post at WordPress.com for bringing it to my attention!)

I am quite happy with the size of my audience. I am able to visit the blog of each person who leaves a comment, likes my post, likes my comment on another blog, or decides to follow me. Sometimes, it takes up to a week before I respond to one of the above actions, but I do get around to it. I feel like these are new friends and I am excited to see their blogs.

I used to be jealous at the number of comments on other blogs, but now I am grateful because my perfectionism requires me to respond in kind. My following is small and my audience may be quiet, but I hope that doesn’t change drastically in the future.

Thank you to all of my quiet readers who do not give me more to do than report what I have done to save money this week!

A blank piece of paper to write my 2015 goals on.

A blank piece of paper to write my 2015 goals on.


Best Metal Investment

I don’t have bars of gold sewn into my mattress.

My plumbing is not made of copper.

My wedding ring is not platinum.

I did not inherit my grandmothers antique silver set.

My silverware is stainless steel, not silver.

There is no coin collection that is gaining value as we speak.

My best metal investment is one that is protecting my other investments.

It is my upholstery needle kit.

My package of assorted needles by Homecraft contains 7 needles:

  1. Carpet Sharp: Large and heavier sharp for stitching carpets and rugs.
  2. Glover: Tapered point needle with sharp edges used to sew leather and leather-like fabrics.
  3. Chenille: Sharp point needle with large eyes for crewel, candlewicking, embroidery.
  4. Tapestry: Blunt point needle used for plastic canvas, needlepoint or sewing heavy yarns.
  5. Tufting: needle for tufting repairs on upholstery, heavy materials.
  6. Small Curved: Needle used for sewing upholstery, mattresses.
  7. Large Curved: Needle used for upholstery and lampshades.

(The curved upholstery needles get the most use, but I have used all of them.)

With that kit I…

  1. Repaired the seams on torn cushions.
  2. Pulled the over-stuffed cushions on the arms and the backs of my couch back up to their original location and used the needle to attach them firmly.
  3. Used the large, curved needle to do major surgery on my couch. The front piece under the cushions was torn and the actual board was displaced. I cut the fabric the length of the board. I put the board back in place and put the vinyl piece back on top of it. I used a staple gun to attach it. I pulled all of the batting back in place and using a strong thread I sewed the cut back together. Then I spent fifteen minutes a day sewing over the seam with a satin stitch. It took several months, but when I finished I had a new-looking couch. (The seam is covered by the cushions.)
  4. Sewed up the loose seams on the upholstered chairs at church.
  5. Repaired shoes, belts, and purses.
  6. Repaired the torn upholstery, and ceiling fabric, in our van.
  7. Repaired luggage and sports bags.
  8. Repaired a baseball glove and other sports equipment.
  9. Repaired a cell phone case, see http://wp.me/pKNzn-hF.
  10. Sewed allergy screening to the base of my large, window screens, see http://wp.me/pKNzn-qc.

Yes, that was the best metal investment I have made!

Needles found in a upholstery needle kit,

Needles found in a upholstery needle kit.

Re-Tweet, Not Repeat

I didn’t meet my Twitter goal.

Does that make me a Twit?

Gee, if were playing baseball, that would be 2 strikes.

Then what…I’m out?

I guess I am a little discouraged, but it’s not as big of a deal as you would think.

Maybe I didn’t garner followers on Twitter because I may have repeated myself.

Maybe I needed to find others to re-tweet.


Sometimes, we set financial goals, and when we don’t make it, we want to give up. That is the last thing we should do. Instead we should concentrate on how far we have come.

I had the goal of paying off our home before my husband and I were both 50. One birthday passed, but I didn’t give up. A month later, we made our final payment.

Goals are good, but it is more important to just keep chipping away. Pay off the debt, and keep socking back a little here and a little there.

Giving up is what makes you a twit!

A blank piece of paper to write my 2015 goals on.

A blank piece of paper to write my 2015 goals on.