I Don’t Get Dressed Until Noon

I’m sure you think every writer spends the day in their pajamas. Some do; but not me. I put on exercise clothes when I get up. It is an added incentive to exercise.

workout clothes

During these “dog days” of summer, it has another benefit. I do the hot jobs in the morning: cleaning, laundry, cooking, exercise, etc. By the time I finish those tasks, I am dripping with sweat. I jump in the shower and dress before David gets home for lunch.

(Okay, I did have an off day, and I was hurrying to get dressed before he got off of work, but it was because I was doing two days worth of tasks. I had a project that would take most of the next day. Of course, I got caught. I always get caught!)

I started doing this when our air conditioner was dying. I would rather be writing than exercising during the heat of the day. Our new air conditioner has no trouble keeping up, but when the heat index is 105° I don’t want to feel the need to turn it down. It is already working hard enough.

My strategy has paid off. We are saving money with lower utility bills. Our utility company offers time-of-day pricing. They charge more for use during the heat of the day, and a reduced rate after 9:00 pm and before 8:00 am. I tried it, but it did not work for us. Our children were all at home and I was staying up late, and then getting up early to keep up with the laundry. Doing the hot jobs first is a better strategy for us.

I realize this tip will not work for most people, but you could try it on the weekend. After doing the hot jobs, the rest of the day feels like a vacation!

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“Snuggie’s” Summer Use

I shared on April 29, 2013, how I used the “Snuggie” we received as a gift. It really helped keep me warm on cold, rainy days.

I found I could use it to keep me comfortable during the hot days of summer. I use a leather office chair, and when it is hot and sticky out, that chair becomes hot and sticky. I got out that “Snuggie” and tied it to my office chair. My arms and legs no longer stick!Snuggie covered office chairOffice chair

When I am comfortable in the office chair, I am not tempted to turn the air conditioner down.

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Fill in the Cracks

One thing you can never accuse me of is being a fake. I am transparent and have been known to share too much information.

I look at other blogs and all of their houses look perfect. Mine doesn’t and I take pictures of it anyway. I try to skip the worst parts…like the basketball court, my youngest drew on his bedroom carpet with a permanent marker. Sigh.

Today’s pictures will prove my point.

They built our home in 1971 and I swear they put in windows they took out of a trailer. They were Plexiglass with metal frames. Some even had a single pane. At the first opportunity…13 years after we bought the house…we put in replacement windows. At the time they did not make replacement windows for the basement.

The original Plexigalss windows that were in our basement.

The original Plexiglass windows that were in our basement. Note the key rings that are attached to the tabs. In case of fire, they make it easier to remove the windows.

When my husband started his new job at a different lumber company, he found there was a company that now makes replacement windows for the basement. I begged him to buy four.

After he installed them, he thought, “Great! No more plastic.”

Man, was he ticked when he came home and found I had put rope caulk around the windows and taped plastic over them in the laundry room.

(He’s not the one doing laundry under a cold, north facing window!)

The new windows are perfect. The window wells are not! I could still feel air coming in. I put rope caulk around the windows to seal the cracks.

The new windows are twice a thick and with frames that will not have to be painted.

The new windows are twice a thick and with frames that will not have to be painted.

He planned on painting the window wells this fall, but it got postponed to next spring. Obviously, our basement is not finished! You can see my sloppy caulking job between the cement foundation and the blue insulation!

If there’s a crack anywhere, I fill it up!

©2009-2016 frugalfish.org. All rights reserved.

Free Solar Heat

Each year, we try to see how long we can go before turning on the furnace. Our record was Thanksgiving! There was frost on the pumpkins last weekend in Iowa, but we still have not turned on the furnace.

I wrote a post about the things we do to keep the house warm during the cooler fall days, see here. I have been using free solar heat this year.

Our south picture window lets in a lot of heat. I put a fan in front of it on low and face it toward the hall to blow the warm air to the back of the house when the sun is coming in that window.

I switched our ceiling fan to the winter setting, see here, and it pushes the warm air down from the ceiling. When the sun moves away from the window, I shut the fan off.

Moving warm air from window with fans.

Moving warm air from a window with fans.

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Free Trees



I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
I shared my love of the woods in “If You’re Ever in New England in the Fall.” I was disappointed that our land did not have trees on it when we bought our home. There was a “Rose of Sharon” bush, but it died.
We have acquired 25 trees over the 30 years that we have lived in this house. Sadly, only four have survived. I even purchased 10 trees from the Arbor Day Foundation.
They suffered the worst fate of all. My husband didn’t notice where I had planted them, and when we purchased a shed, he moved it on top of my newly planted trees!
Trees from school
The first trees we acquired were given to our children in elementary school. Each of our three children brought a tree home, but only one survived. It has small leaves and is on the west side of our home. It’s Derek’s tree because he is the one who brought it home.
Transplanted trees
The tree in front of our home is “Luke’s tree.” He didn’t bring it home, it was one of 10 trees that my husband dug up out of Janie’s back yard. She lived on a wooded cul-de-sac and wanted to have more than trees in the backyard. She told him to dig out as many as he could because she was cutting the rest down.
He brought them home in the back of our Chevy Chevette!
10 free trees in the back of a Chevy Chevette.

10 free trees in the back of a Chevy Chevette.

We planted them all around the house and faithfully watered them, but it was a drought year. The trees had been living under mature trees, and when they were stuck in the clay around our house under full sun, the leaves got sunburned and then fell off.
We hoped they would come back to life the next spring, but they were gone. Our yard looked like a graveyard for trees.
Only one tree retained its leaves and it was planted by Luke’s bedroom window. It was on the west side of the house and was sheltered from the sun for half of the day. A few years later, we moved it to the south side of the house. It now graces our front yard.
Volunteer Trees
The tree in our back yard is “Bob’s Tree.” Bob would never mow over a volunteer tree. He dug them out, planted them in metal coffee cans, and then gave them away.
We planted it on the edge of our dream deck. (Yeah, we are still dreaming about it!) At the time, I didn’t know about “One Call.” It is a phone number in Iowa that will contact everyone who may have a line buried underground: telephone, water, sewer, cable, etc.
I managed to plant “Bob’s Tree” on top of our sewer line! I was amazed at how quickly it took off and flourished! (We also had to have a service start coming to clean out our pipes from tree roots!)
Bob died of cancer a few years later, and I was grateful to have a living reminder of that amazing man.
Memorial Trees
This tree we purchased when my mother-in-law passed away using part of the inheritance. It was the same year that a blight attacked all of the evergreens in town. My neighbor to the east had a beautiful tree he decorated every Christmas. The blight got it, along with three others on his property, and he had to remove them all.
It was huge and provided shade in the mornings. After it was gone, my picture window was in the sun starting at 7:30 a.m. I had to keep the drapes closed to keep the house from boiling!
We chose a Japanese Iris to remember her by. It has off-white blooms in the spring. It is not showy and rather petite…a lot like Phyllis. It will grow taller than our house and will shade that picture window eventually.
Your free trees
You have free trees at your disposal. They are growing in your flowerbeds, rock gardens, yard, and even gutters. A tree grows amazingly fast. Don’t wait to find money to purchase a large tree.
Plant a free tree.
My four trees. The fifth one on the right in the back belongs to a neighbor.

My four trees. The fifth one on the right in the back belongs to a neighbor.

You need a 2-Speed Fan and a 2-Speed Motor When You Add AC

It was 1988. My son and I had just been diagnosed with asthma. I already suffered from allergies and it was strongly recommended that we get central air to keep the pollen out.

We had a small income tax return, so I went to my favorite plumber, the plumber we used at work, and a plumber who attended school with my husband. The third plumber’s bid was half price of the other two.

Now our memory gets fuzzy. I say we chose the last one because my husband wanted to help out a classmate. He says we chose the last one because I was so cheap.

Frugal is being smart. Cheap is taking the cheapest bid.

It was a mistake. A week after the central air was installed the motor burned up. The classmate installed a different motor and that was the last we heard from him.

Then the nightmare began. It just wouldn’t cool. Our favorite plumber tried every test and every trick, but the house was always 10 degrees warmer than the air outside.

We had our electric company do an energy audit twice during those years and still could not figure out why it didn’t work.

Finally, in desperation, we called in a friend who handled industrial heating and cooling in businesses in the area. He listened to everything we had tried over the years and ripped the thing apart.

What he found was a one speed motor that was wired to a two-speed fan. When you have central air you must have a high-speed on your fan to push the cool air up. In the winter, heat rises, so you can move air with the low-speed.

He put on a two-speed motor and IT WORKED!!!

We had three days of temperatures over 100 degrees and my house stayed consistently at 77 degrees where I set it.

Then we were sick when we realized for over two decades we had been cooling the bottom two feet of the house and since the cool air never reached the thermostat, the air ran constantly for weeks at a time.

I called my favorite plumber and reported what we found.  I am not going to see him as much now. At least not to work on the air conditioner! I also wrote a letter to the electric company with the findings in case the auditor ran into a similar situation.

It was a painful lesson to learn. It is better to wait until you can do it right than to take a bargain.

We added central air to this furnace.

We added central air to this furnace.

Tennis Balls Saved Me From Ironing

Unfortunately, ironing is a weekly chore at my home. I wear mostly 100% cotton clothes and some do require ironing. When I got up on my regular ironing day, and realized I didn’t have any ironing to do, I decided it would be a good day to wash my bedroom drapes and sheers.

Then I remembered how the tennis balls kept my jeans from twisting and tangling and decided to throw them in the dryer with the curtains, see here. I pulled the sheers out of the dryer halfway through the cycle and let them finish air drying on the curtain rod.

When the dryer shut off, I took the valances out and hung them on their respective curtain rods. All of my drapes are energy-efficient and they took longer to dry. They were still damp when the dryer stopped. (They have to be washed and dried on the delicate cycle.)

I was thrilled when all three items came out of the dryer without needing ironed. I guess if I were picky, the valances may have looked better if I had starched and ironed them. I compared them to the ones in the office that I had starched and ironed and I couldn’t tell the difference.

The drapes had a few wrinkles, but I hung them before they were completely dry, and the weight of the material pulled the wrinkles out.

I have fresh, clean curtains hanging in my bedroom and I didn’t even have to plug in the iron!

This trick saved me from ironing when I washed my drapes.

This trick saved me from ironing when I washed my drapes.

(Note: Whenever you see a word in blue, it is hyperlinked to another article, resource, or more information. Click on it and it will take you to there.)

Tennis Balls, Not Just For Tennis

There is a can of tennis balls in my laundry room. I admit there are a few other sports items in that room, but this can is marked, “Laundry.” I purchased them to use in the dryer when I wash comforters and pillows. They help to keep them from getting lumpy.

I have recently found a new use for them…I put them in the dryer when I am drying jeans.

I shared earlier my frustration with jeans getting twisted, tangled, and coming out of the dryer all wrinkled, see here. They also seem to take forever to dry. Throwing the tennis balls in the dryer with them cut down on the wrinkles and the time to dry them.

(What, you thought I used the balls to play tennis?)

You may wonder, why I don’t use “Dryer Balls.” I did try them out several years ago, but for some reason, they would hit the door of my old dryer hard enough to open it. I would return to the basement expecting to find a load of dry clothes to fold and would find the door open, damp clothes, and a dryer ball on the floor. (The same thing would happen when I tried to dry tennis shoes in the dryer.)

I’ll stick to tennis balls, thank you very much.

I throw tennis balls in the dryer when I am drying jeans.

I throw tennis balls in the dryer when I am drying jeans.




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.

Do You Know Which Way the Wind Blows?

It was 3 am and I was up, moving allergy screens from the upper windows on one side of the house to the lower windows and doing just the opposite on the other side of the house. I was moving fans and changing their directions also.


I want to avoid using the air conditioner as long as possible. It may be pleasant outside, but hot inside.

I check the direction of the wind 2 or 3 times a day. When it is from the south, I open the lower windows on the south side of the house and the upper windows on the north side of the house. The cool air comes in with the breeze and the warm air goes out the other side of the house. I help the air flow with fans.

Unfortunately, the wind direction changes throughout the day and night. If I happen to wake up in the middle of the night, I check the wind direction. I really want to pull in the cool, night air. Those allergy screens do not let a lot of air through!

My home is slightly angled to the south-east. I do not have any east facing windows. When the wind is coming from the east, I stick a fan in the front door and try to pull it in that way.

I also use curtains to block the heat of the sun, see http://wp.me/pKNzn-jg.

Let the wind cool your house for you.

Pulling in the east wind with a fan in my southeast facing door.

Pulling in the east wind with a fan in my southeast facing door.