Worst Day of My Life

It started with a flashback of the worst day of my life and ended less than an hour later when I locked myself out of the house.

The worst day of my life started like any other day. I didn’t really like the outfit I picked, but I was saving my favorite outfit and it was okay for a Tuesday. I was sitting in Physics class getting ready to take a semester test when the principal came to the door and called me out into the hall.

“Your parents called. Your house is on fire. We are taking your older sister home. Do you want to go home or stay here?”

I chose to stay and take the test. When I sat back down, Tim asked me what was up because I was NEVER called to the principal’s office.

“My house is on fire,” I calmly replied, and started on the test. I was in shock.

We lived in a small town of about 500 people and the fire chief was my uncle. When learning of smoke pouring out under the eaves, the entire town showed up. The fire was inside the walls and the smoke didn’t come into the house until they punched holes in the walls to get to it.

Those neighbors from Batavia emptied every closet, cupboard, and drawer on the first floor. They carried every stick of furniture outside and later moved them to the barn. A 17-year boy my dad had mentored, (who was playing hooky), unhooked the washer and carried it out by himself. Our next door neighbor, Linda, was the last one out of the house. She removed the drapes from the six windows in the living room and dining room.

They saved everything on the first floor, but not upstairs. I stayed after school and rode home with Carolyn. My brother and sisters had each been taken home by one of our aunts. They bought them a change of clothes and kept them overnight.

The furniture was in the barn and Dad was up on the roof with a few men putting a tarp over the hole the fire left. I went home with my friend, Pam. She was the best! We were the same size and she loaned me her favorite tee-shirt with her name on it and a pair of slacks to wear to school the next day.House Fire "Worst Day of My Life" frugalfish.org

Wednesday, they let us go upstairs to our former rooms for one minute. They instructed us to grab anything we wanted to keep. They had a door propped open to hold up the roof joists.

Everything was wet, melted, and black with smoke. I ripped some pictures out of my photo album and a few things out of my scrapbook. I made my bed that morning and my pillow was just wet. I took it and went back downstairs.

All I had left fit in an 8″ cookie tin. When I open that tin, I can still smell the smoke. I never got to wear that favorite outfit again, but I got an “A” on that Physics test!

$$$$$$$$$$$$

Today I opened an email that triggered that memory. It was from everydaycheapskate.com. She was replying to a question about a family that lost everything in a flood. She recommended the free app knowyourstuff.org.

I didn’t even finish the email. I hit the link, set up an account, and downloaded the app to my phone. Then I started taking pictures. I didn’t clean up the house. There were dirty dishes in the sink. I threw up the covers on the bed and tucked them in and kept snapping.Picture of Bedroom, "Worst Day of My Life" frugalfish.org

I took pictures of every wall, inside of closets, and even opened drawers in the kitchen to record contents. I know it can all go up in smoke in a flash. I also know the agony of trying to remember what was in each drawer, how many tee shirts did I own?

When I finished inside the house, I took pictures inside the garage. Then I went outside and took pictures of every side of the house. That’s when I locked myself out!

This is not an ad for the app. I will not get any money from them. I am sharing my painful experience in hopes that it will go easier for you should you have a disaster.

  1. Don’t wait until you have time.
  2. Don’t clean the house.
  3. Just get the app and start snapping pictures.

You never know when all you have left will be held in a cookie tin.

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Last Taste of Summer

“Summer-in-October Record Warmth,”

weather.com, 10-20-16

It sure felt like summer at the beginning of this week. I was grateful we have central air and do not rely on window air conditioners! The thing I will miss the most from summer is the fresh strawberries!

My sister, Michele, has a thriving strawberry patch. (I did not get that gene. I planted and killed 2 strawberry patches and the plants that were supposed to grow in a “strawberry pot!”) Michele made jam with just strawberries and sugar. I could eat it with a spoon.

This week I got to the bottom of the last jar. Sigh.Empty jar of jam "Last Taste of Summer" frugalfish.org

I wanted to stretch that jam as far as possible. There were still some pieces on the side. I was making sweet tea and decided to fill the jar with the hot concentrated tea.Tea in jam jar "Last Taste of Summer" frugalfish.org

My last taste of summer was strawberry tea!Strawberry tea "Last Taste of Summer" frugalfish.org

You can see other ways I flavored my tea here.

Another way I am squeezing the last of summer out is by using a fan in my front window to blow the warm air into the back of the house, see here and here. For other ways to delay running the furnace, see here.

What is your favorite summer treat?

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October Birthday Decorations

Adults everywhere dread any birthday ending in zero. You know your friends are going to get you gag gifts, like a cane, or some bring reminders of death: skeleton, coffin, tombstone.

My birthday is in October, and though it is not ending in a zero this year, I don’t want my home decorated with skeletons, bats, coffins, tombstones, and other Halloween decorations. I usually have a few smiling Jack O’lanterns and put up fall decorations.

This year we will be celebrating 4 birthdays because my surgery canceled my oldest son’s dinner, and my husband’s birthday came before we could reschedule. My youngest son was born in early October and we decided to have one dinner for all the guys. They aren’t that big on parties anyway, but they love to eat! I decided to go all out and decorate the house with a birthday theme.

Starting with the wreath at the front door, I covered it with birthday bows and chose colors to coordinate with my October flag.October flag, "October Birthday Decorations" frugalfish.org

The wreath is between the door and the screen door. It is visible, but out of the wind. I just used packing tape on the back of each bow.Wreath of bows "October Birthday Decorations, frugalfish.org

I used primary colors as my palate for the rest of the decorations. Blue, green, and orange towels were topped with a red washcloth, yellow bow, and tied together with a yellow ribbon. I tied the ends of the ribbon together behind the towels.Ribbon wrapped towels "October Birthday Decorations" frugalfish.org

The bow is secured with a pearl-topped florists pin that I pushed through the center of it. It is a long pin from a corsage.Florist pin secures ribbon "October Birthday Decorations" frugalfish.org

The inspirational print was given to me by my daughter-in-law and I chose to display it because of the rainbow-colored font. The red candle, surrounded by corn meal, fit with my color scheme and I left it. The gold trim in the candle holder matched the gold trim in the picture frame.Picture with rainbow colored font "October Birthday Decorations" frugalfish.org

The same type of font was used on a birthday mug I hung from a hook. It was given to me on a dreaded birthday ending with a zero.Birthday Mug "October Birthday Decorations

The Precious Moments Cup with my name on it is displayed in the china cabinet. The lavender color did not go with my theme!Precious Moments Pam Cup "October Birthday Decorations" frugalfish.org

Last month I shared my trick of using the back sides of table runners, see here. I flipped my apple table runner to the navy side, folded a red napkin into the same shape and placed it on top. An orange Jack O’lantern and green pumpkins added 2 more colors of the rainbow. I topped the pumpkin with a yellow bow for my birthday theme.October Tablescape "October Birthday Decorations" frugalfish.org

The dining table has 2 table runners layered over a red tablecloth. I used white pumpkins here and brought in yellow and green with flameless candles. The centerpiece is a fake angel food cake, see here.October Rainbow Birthday Tablescape "October Birthday Decorations" frugalfish.org

I stuck a “Happy Birthday” sign left over from a cake into the center of a decorated balloon weight to balance out the figurine on the other side.Birthday Balloon Weight "October Birthday Decorations" frugalfish.org

See, there are touches of Halloween, the figurine is of three children dressed as ghosts.Ghostly kids figurine "October Birthday Decorations" frugalfish.org

My children’s Halloween crafts are displayed on the shelf going up the stairs. I loved seeing their work from kindergarten and the clever items my daughter made in Girl Scouts.Children's Crafts "October Birthday Decorations" frugalfish.orgBlack Cat from crushed pop can "October Birthday Decorations" frugalfish.org

There’s another Jack O’lantern on a shelf in the kitchen.Jack O'lantern candle "October Birthday Decorations" frugalfish.org

Over the years, I have received some pretty funny gag gifts. These fake balloons were made for me a few years ago. They brought them in holding the balloons up high. It is actually balloons made of card stock. I love a good joke and decided to display them this year.Fake Balloons "October Birthday Decorations" frugalfish.org

I didn’t spend any money decorating for Halloween and when it is over, I won’t be looking for Halloween decorations on sale, I will be in the birthday aisle!

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Still Learning from Mom

I almost threw it away several times. It was a wide pink bow with an ivory lace overlay that at one time was attached to a barrette. I probably wore it in my hair a few times back in the 80’s. The barrette was long gone and I put the bow in my bag of miscellaneous ribbons, see here.

Mom called after a disaster with her favorite jacket. She noticed a spot on it and tried to clean it off with a wet wipe. It changed the color of the dye on that spot. She had a rust-colored spot on her tan jacket.Rust colored stain, "Still Learning From Mom" frugalfish.org

She knows I enjoy sewing, see here, and asked me if I could sew a piece of lace over the spot. We went through my collection of lace and didn’t find anything that was wide enough. Then I remembered the pink barrette.

I took the bow apart and removed the ivory lace. I laid it over the buttons on the jacket and found it was long enough. It was also wide enough to cover the discolored spot.

A week or so later, I turned on a movie and sewed the lace on the jacket by hand. I cut tiny slits in the center of the lace at each button and eased the buttons through the slits. I tucked the ends under and that piece of lace was the perfect length. It took me the entire movie to hand sew the lace on and ease the buttons through the slits, but it was a labor of love. After all, she labored to give me life!Tan Jacket with lace accent, "Still learning from Mom" frugalfish.org

I learned to never use a baby wipe or wet wipe on stained clothing! It is better to use cold water or just wait until you get home and can treat the stain properly.

See, I’m still learning from my Mom! Save those pieces of lace! You never know when it will come in handy.

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