If We Were Having Coffee Right Now…

If we were having coffee right now…I would tell you I am frustrated with technology! I didn’t realize how popular I would become to hackers when I started writing blogs.

I jumped into the blogosphere with both feet. I even paid for a web site for one of them and was overwhelmed from the git go. I bought the book, “WordPress for Dummies” and forced myself to read a little bit every day. I learned a lot, but still hate the technical side of blogging.

I took an HTML class and learned enough to lock myself out of my web site three times. (Sigh.) After four years of frustration, I let the web site go and switched back to blog format. Now WordPress does the heavy lifting for me.

I don’t really like change. I am using the same email address that I set up in the 90’s. Today that email was hacked twice. I change my password every week and type out gibberish to use as a password.

Still they come.

When I went to the support page for my email, I was told it might be time to get a new email address. I don’t want to because I registered all of my warranties to that email and it is on my business cards. I don’t want to start over.

I have a backup email address from another provider, but I forget to check it.

My husband thought he was being sweet when he bought me a smart phone. I’ve wanted to throw it against the wall more times than I care to admit. I still hit the “caps” button when I want to type in a symbol!

I went without a cell phone for six years (see here) and never did get into texting. I’m usually home and I would rather screen my calls with the answering machine!

I was supposed to deal with today’s hackers this afternoon and I am embarrassed to admit I spent two hours playing Spider Solitaire instead. I guess I like the technology when it comes to games.

I wonder what email format other bloggers use?



You are Never Too Old

I ran across “Zigma,” www.zikken24.com when he “liked” my post from yesterday. I “liked” his post, “95-Year-Old Indian Man Enrolls for a Masters Degree.”

As I read about the man, I thought about my piano teacher, Pearl Pederson. Most piano teachers cease to teach at retirement age. Most students start learning when they are in elementary school.

My teacher was 74 years old. She offered me lessons when I was 12 years old. She was the piano player at church and she was looking for someone to replace her. She was amazing on the piano and no one wanted to follow her.

She had arthritis and her knuckles were twice as large as normal. She walked with a cane. She had a bad heart.

After teaching me a year, she had a heart attack and had to recover in a nursing home. She was released several months later and moved into an apartment a block from my home. I was surprised when she approached me and said it was time to continue my lessons!

We started where we left off and her health deteriorated. She could no longer live alone. She moved into a house with a friend and took her piano with her. I walked to that house for lessons.

Her health got even worse and her daughter insisted that she move in with her. Pearl insisted that I keep taking lessons.

It wasn’t easy for her and it was just as hard for me. We didn’t own a piano. In the beginning, I walked 10 blocks to our church to practice and then I walked home. Some days it was a bitter cold walk.

I practiced for two hours each day…after all I had to make up time!

Four years later, she went into the nursing home permanently and I started playing for the services. She taught me to play by note and to play by ear. The choruses that we sang during that time did not come with music. Someone would sing it to you and you would pick out the chords on the piano.

By the time I was 20, I was not only learning new choruses, I was writing down the guitar chords over the words and giving them to the others in the band.

I still play twice a week in two different towns. I don’t plan on quitting. I learned from Pearl that you are never too old.

If you can dream it, you can do it.

This is the last lesson book I work in with my piano teacher, Pearl Pederson.

This is the last lesson book I worked in with my piano teacher, Pearl Pederson.

No Matter Where You Go, You Are Always There

I used to think “home” was where ever my family was. First “home” was where ever Mom and Dad were. Then it was where my husband was, followed by any place our children were with us.

Then my health deteriorated and I became housebound. My life stopped, but may family’s lives did not. My husband still had to go to work and the kids still had to go to school. There were still ball games, concerts, doctor appointments, and I missed most of them.

I started planning special things to do when I was home alone in the evening after being home alone all day.

  1. I made a quilt out of my oldest son’s tee shirts.
  2. I made a quilt for the baby shower of my granddaughter.
  3. I made a shadow box filled with awards from my husband’s high school days.
  4. I made a shadow box of awards from my youngest son’s high school days.
  5. I restored 2 foot high cement penguins.
  6. I painted the embellishments on picture frames.
  7. I restored Aunt Nellie’s frog collection.
  8. I made curtains.
  9. I rearranged furniture.
  10. I rearranged the artwork on the walls.

As I worked on each project, I remembered when the kids were younger. I remembered when the room was a nursery as I sewed curtains for my new office. When my second adult child moved out, I made a quiet place for me separate from the office I share with my husband.

I have learned to enjoy those times when I am home alone.

I didn’t even realize I could paint. There are 3 penguins and at least 10 frogs that prove I can.

Penguin I restored.

Penguin I restored.
















One of Aunt Nellie's frogs.

One of Aunt Nellie’s frogs.


Embellished picture frame I painted.

Embellished picture frame I painted.


Another picture frame.

Another picture frame.


Tee shirt quilt I made for my son.

Tee shirt quilt I made for my son.

Better Than Point A to Point B

We were headed for a weekend get away and I decided we should take Great River Road. It is a scenic byway that follows the Mississippi River on the eastern side of Iowa.

It was a beautiful drive over hills and around farms. There just weren’t many towns between the Quad Cities and Dubuque. We knew the road would take us to Dubuque, but we didn’t know where we were.

The GPS on your phone is great when you are trying to go from Best Buy to Guitar Center in an unfamiliar city, but it doesn’t help when you will be on one highway for an hour.

I got out my 2014 map of Iowa. As we passed through a small town, I saw on the map it was the last chance to use a bathroom or grab something to eat. We ended up having lunch at Casey’s, a gas station, but the views were worth it.

The nice thing about the map is you can follow it with your finger. I guess I am a tactile person. I like tracing our route as we go along. We would see a sign for a small town to the right or left and I could see it on my paper map.

The map shows parks, colleges, and other features that you will not hear about on GPS. Did you know Iowa has an island? We drove by it.

I saw it on the map.

Old school map.

Old school map.



We took a weekend trip, and after sleeping in two different beds, I couldn’t wait to go home. The first bed was hard and we tossed and turned all night. Luckily, they offered free breakfast and there was plenty of coffee.

The second bed was comfortable, but it had a feather duvet and I am allergic to feathers. I took two Benadryl and was dismayed to find there was only enough coffee for two cups in the morning. Mr. Frugalfish went searching for more without luck.

It did not include breakfast and the last time we paid $30.00 for the breakfast. I downed a few cups of coffee at lunch.

The second night was also in a more upscale hotel. I realized the room was about 2/3 the size of our home. We were paying for space. There was not a microwave in this room as there was in the one the night before.

How often do we pay for space?

What benefit is there in space when you are stuck in a Benadryl fog without caffeine?

I admit, my home feels small when all of the relatives are over; but on cleaning day, when I can zip through the job in 30 minutes, it’s just right.

We looked at larger homes for a few years, but realized our oldest was in high school and if we stuck it out for a couple more years it would be sufficient. Many buy a starter home, a family home, and then downsize to a retirement home. We managed to buy all three at once and let me tell you…living without a mortgage is indescribable!

Home is not perfect.

I was deeply irritated at my college age son when I got home to find he had unplugged the waterbed. He was sick and decided to watch TV in our room. He unplugged the heater to charge his phone. I was not happy.

I pulled out a comforter, put it on top of the bedspread and slept on top of it. We covered up with our wedding quilt, as we should since we just returned from a trip celebrating our 33rd wedding anniversary.

We were home.

I Write Because…

There will be more posts from me over the next several days as I am taking a Writing 101 course. I am starting a day late….but not a dollar short…because I was out-of-town yesterday.

Personal Journal

I write because I love Laura Ingalls Wilder books. That may not make sense to you, but she lived a normal life during her time on earth. She wasn’t a hero, but she recorded the day-to-day activities of her life and that of her husband. I particularly liked “Farm Boy” because being a farmer was so different than the life a farmer lives now.

Someday, someone might be interested in reading about my life. This is the reason I keep a journal.


I love reading the Bible because it is full of wisdom. You can read the story of the richest and wisest man who ever lived, King Solomon, in it. He wrote three books sharing things he learned: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon. The subjects they cover are wisdom, life, and sex.

I know, that last word caught your attention! The basics for business, government, and life in general are taught in the Bible.

I wanted to read the Bible in a relevant way. I designed a Bible reading guide, “Relevant,” where you read the chapters about Easter at Easter and Christmas at Christmas. You start the year reading about the miracles Jesus performed and by the time you are through the gospels, you are hooked on reading it.

This is why I publish a daily post about the chapters assigned to that day. I want to share what I learn each day.

(I also wrote a “Babysteps” Bible Reading Guide that takes you through the Bible starting with the shortest chapter, 1 verse, and ends with the longest chapter.)


Money doesn’t impress me. Things don’t impress me. I’ve found those with the newest and latest gadgets are usually the ones the deepest in debt. Being debt-free and sleeping at night are important to me.

The only way to accomplish that is through frugality. You have to spend less than you make. You cannot waste anything. You have to be generous. You need to save a portion of your money. There are a million ways to do that.

Twice a week, I share how I am living frugally and debt-free. That is why I publish to this blog.

Those are the three reasons I write.


10 “Tax Free Weekend” Rules

1. Take a list and stick to it! Prioritize the lists for each person.

2. Stick to your clothing budget or use cash. Avoid temptations; be prepared.

3. Buy only the clothes and shoes you need. Buy the size kids are wearing now.

4. Be sure the cost per item is under $100.00. You will be taxed on items over the limit.

5. Shop the clearance racks first. Some stores will have items at 70%-80% off.

6. Buy the basic items first. Underwear and socks should be at the top of your list.

7. Buy the best quality you can afford. A good pair of jeans, not 3 cheap t-shirts.

8. Take advantage of packages that have an extra. Look for bonus packages.

9. Purchase durable styles and fabrics. Classic, not trendy.

10. Remember this is not a large discount. Your discount will be 6% or 7%.

Iowa’s Tax Free Weekend is scheduled for August 1-2, 2014.

The tax-exempt savings applies only to:

Clothing under $100
Shoes under $100

Write the date you bought your shoes on the inside.

Write the date you bought your shoes on the inside.

Black and Decker Redeems Themselves

My working title for this post was…

All of My Appliances Were Black and Decker

You notice that title was past tense. I did have Black and Decker for every appliance. What changed?

Failure to communicate.

I chose Black and Decker appliances because they had a longer warranty than the other less expensive brands. I was always pleased with their price and reliability.

Then my mixer died. I got out the warranty and read the instructions. It told me to fill out a form online at Spectrum Home Appliances.

I received a reply right away wanting to confirm the date of purchase, model number off of the end of the plug, amount of purchase, a telephone number, where I purchased it, and if I still had the receipt. I replied with all of the requirements and threw the unit and box away. (I save the original box for the duration of the warranty, see here.)

The trash went out that night and imagine my shock when I got another email telling me to cut the end of the cord off and send it to them.

Nowhere in the warranty papers, on the box, or on the website, did it say I would need to mail in the cord. So, I’m just out the price of a mixer?


I am sending a copy of this post to them, and if I do not get a positive response, I will  contact the Better Business Bureau.


I received a reply the next day.

Thank you for contacting Spectrum Home Appliances.

We did receive approval that we can release the replacement unit to you as a one time courtesy without requirements. Please allow 7-14 business days for delivery.

If we can be of any further assistance, please contact our Consumer Service Department at 1-800-231-9786. Our hours of operation are Monday thru Friday from 8:30 A.M. to 7:00 P.M.,EST. Alternatively, you may e-mail us at homeappliancessupport@spectrumbrands.com, or go to http://www.prodprotect.com and fill out a contact form. A representative will be happy to assist you.

Consumer Support Team
Spectrum Home Appliances
A division of Spectrum Brands, Inc.

Well, they redeemed themselves!

Through this experience I learned to hang on to the broken appliance until the warranty is honored and a replacement arrives. Yes, I keep all warranties, you can see my filing system here.

My Replacement Black and Decker MIxer

My Replacement Black and Decker MIxer


Yes, Christmas is only 6 months away. If you plan on finishing that quilt, or making something else special, you need to start carving time out for it now.

Everyone is so busy and you may want to set your annual Christmas celebration date now while you are gathered around the campfire.

At the family reunion this summer you can talk about the Christmas traditions you loved and want to repeat. What a wonderful walk down memory lane you could take as you share your favorite memories with your children and grandchildren.

If nothing else, at least you could make your list!

Manger theme ornament.

Manger theme ornament.


Smart Couple

We had a substitute drummer for a few months this summer and I would really like to get to know his parents.


Because he is driving the vehicle that his parents drove him home from the hospital in when he was born.

Many people change vehicles every few years, or when they pay off the vehicles they are using right now. I heard one couple say, “You are always going to have a car payment, why not let it be on a new vehicle.”

I have two problems with that statement:

  1. You do not have to always have a car payment. You can pay off your car and make those payments to yourself. Then when you are ready to get a different vehicle, you not only have a car to trade in, but also cash for a large down payment. If you continue to use this strategy, you will get to the point that you can pay cash for a vehicle.
  2. I would never buy a new car. A car depreciates the most in the first three years. I always buy a car that is over three years old and let someone else take the hit. Another bonus is, if there is a dangerous defect in any vehicle, hopefully it will be found during that time.


Keeping vehicles for years is a family trait on my father’s side. My uncle purchased a large car in which his children learned to drive. Later, I learned to drive in the same car out in a dusty field on their farm.

Fast forward a few decades and my then 12-year-old son wanted to help cousin Danny on his farm. Guess what car he learned to drive in…yep, the same green monster in which I learned!


Another farmer told me the secret to longevity in vehicles is in the fluids. He said to keep the oil, brake fluid, transmission fluid, etc. topped out. He also advocated timely oil changes. He drove a van until it was close to 200,000 miles. A friend acquired it from them drove it a few years more.

We own a 1995 truck. Our mechanic son replaced most of the guts of it: engine, transmission, alternator, etc. We put several new parts on it and had it painted, see here.

When we bought it, I told my husband I wanted to keep it until our youngest graduated from high school. Since the heart of it has been replaced, we decided to keep it until our granddaughter can drive it!


Below is a picture of Eric our substitute drummer. I got that smile out of him when I asked about his girlfriend. (Sorry ladies, he’s taken.)

He apologized for not washing it before we took the photo. Then he said, “There’s a little rust on it, but who cares, it’s paid for.”

Smart drummer!

Drummer Eric standing by the car he drives in which his parents brought him home from the hospital as an infant.

Drummer Eric standing by the car he drives, in which his parents brought him home from the hospital when he was born.


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