Update from What I “Read Today”

When the Coronavirus “shelter in place” order came, I felt relief. I battled a rash on my face and watery, itchy eyes for months. I didn’t want to go anywhere.

The rash was a reaction to the Eucalyptus oil in my diffuser. The dermatologist said that I could not use a diffuser, scented candles, or perfume.

The first time I had to “shelter in place” was Labor Day weekend in 2004. The allergy shots didn’t work, even though we started over three times, and my only option was to avoid allergens.

Painting is one way I fill the hours. It was difficult with watery eyes but last year, during several rounds of Prednisone, I painted every room, ceiling, closet, shelf, and started painting furniture!

“Don’t despise the day of small things”

My husband bought some kitchen chairs at a friend’s garage sale last spring. They are black with oak seats. They have gold appliques on the backs and it didn’t fit my style.

We had family over for Easter and I wanted to paint the chairs before then. But there was no time. The most scuffed part of the chairs was the bottom segment of the legs. I painted just those segments. No one noticed but I smiled every time I entered the kitchen.

I painted one section of one chair every chance I could. I finished them on September 1st. I’m glad I didn’t wait until I had time to do them all at once!

“Two streams of golden oil pouring through two gold conduits”

“Where do I post the interest?” asked David.

“In the same line as the IRA,” I replied.

Granted the amount is not a lot! But I learned a secret from “The Richest Man in Babylon” by George S. Clason. You want to invest the interest no matter how small.

If I leave it in my account it will get spent but if I invest it in stocks or bonds it will grow. The goal is to have multiple streams of income when we retire.

“Fully obey the Lord”

Another way I fill the hours is to play the piano. I am in limbo at the moment because I flunked my allergy test. How? I had a build-up of antihistamines in my system. There were no reactions on the prick test. We are waiting for a killing frost and then I will stop meds for two weeks and test again. I am staying inside except for a few hours on Sunday mornings when I play the keyboard for church.

I started playing for services when I was 16. I remember one worship leader asking me to practice for 15 minutes a day. I balked but I just had my second baby in two years and was a bit overwhelmed.

After a hiatus of 8 years, I started playing again. Boy did I practice then! I had to learn 4 new songs a week until I caught up. My new worship leader asked me to memorize the songs. I balked again. I was doing well just learning them.

Finally, I obeyed and started memorizing the music. There is such freedom to play without worrying about losing your place. I watch my fingers, and thanks to daily practice, the muscles remember where to go when my brain is not sure.

There is more to playing for a church service than following the music. You are there to aid in worship and must remember to worship through your fingers.

Last night I practiced an older song. I shut my eyes and sang along. It was me and God. That was when I felt I “fully obeyed the Lord.”

“Turn a pleasant land into desolation”

This is a beautiful time in Iowa. The crops are fully grown. Now we wait for the corn and beans to dry in the fields. Next month harvest will begin. The fields will look desolate without their covering of crops.

It is good to remember when I receive a blessing there will be a time of emptiness. If I continue to plant seeds all along, I will have a harvest that doesn’t end.

“Streets filled with boys and girls playing”

I was pregnant with our first child when we bought this house. The neighbor across the street had an empty nest. She told me she loved watching our children play in the front yard.

She passed away and a few years ago a young couple moved in. Their oldest was learning to ride a bicycle. His dad ran alongside him for a time or two. After the first trip down the street, he switched from holding the bicycle seat to laying his hand on his son’s back. His son knew he was still right there beside him but he was responsible to keep his balance. (That is how God works.)

David and I watched from our couch as they went back and forth a few times. We both jumped up and cheered when he took off on his own. Now I am the one watching the children playing in the streets.

“It may seem impossible”

I still battle the red, watery eyes. The ophthalmologist said it is dry eye. I have to get over it because we are scheduled to visit Israel next spring.

The trip has been postponed four times because of the pandemic. We sacrificed our truck, satellite TV, and several small things to pay for this trip. I trust that God has a plan.

“Don’t be afraid, let your hands be strong”

I refuse to give up on the Israel trip. I made a shadowbox of gifts others brought back from Israel. It’s the first thing I see when I wake up. I will keep hope alive.

“Speak the truth; make true and sound decisions”

My husband and I enjoy playing Spider Solitaire. He plays on the weekends and I play while I eat lunch. Sometimes, I play until I win. Tuesday, was one of those times. I am ashamed to admit that I played for 4 hours.

While I soaked my eyes for the third time, God whispered, “Spider is drying your eyes out.”

When we are looking at a screen, we don’t blink as often as normal. My concentration was such that I barely blinked at all!

I determined to set a timer on my phone and only spend 10 minutes at a time looking at a screen. I used it for Facebook and email, too. Amazingly, I won in 10 minutes yesterday! Today, I lost.

“Love truth and peace”

I told David about my long session and my decision. He will keep me accountable. When I hid my Spider Solitaire addiction, I felt guilt and remorse. Now that I have a plan, I have peace.

©2009-2021 frugalfish.org. All rights reserved.

Two Words to Get Anything

Today I am going to share with you two words that will get you anything you want!

The desire of my heart since we bought our house was to have a garage door opener. David didn’t see it as a necessity.

“Why do we need a garage door opener? We have three: Luke, Laura, and Derek!”

We own a modest home and the garage door was original to the house – without an automatic garage door opener. I am quite content in our home, but it does require maintenance. I posted this picture of our home when I wrote a post about getting free trees.

At the beginning of the summer, David decided to tackle the first word.

“Work!”

He works every other Saturday. On his Saturday off, he repaired and painted one side of the shed. He replaced some rotten boards and put on new hardware. Then he moved on to the house, painting just one side at a time.

It took 8 Saturdays.

He took down the shutters in the front of the house and found several hornet’s nests. We looked everywhere for those nests. I am glad we will not fight hornets next year! (My son’s fiancée recycled those shutters, but that is a post for another time.)

When the house was finally done, David stood back admiring his work. The fresh, white paint made the garage door look even worse! I reminded him that Derek is getting married next year and we will lose our last “garage door opener.”

We had just returned from our trip to Mason City, Iowa and saw some pretty awesome houses there. He decided I had used the second “W” word long enough.

“Wait!”

He brought home a booklet of garage doors. We chose the “Ranch” style door because we live in a “Ranch” style home. We chose the “Prairie Style” windows after seeing the Frank Lloyd Wright architecture in Mason City.

The other homes on our street have the four-panel garage door. Ours is unique and stands out. It sure added to our curb appeal.

How long did I wait?

We moved in 32 years ago. Thirty-two years of getting out in the rain, snow, ice, and heat to open that old garage door. It had 2 holes in it. Last spring, I taped matching paper to the back of the holes to disguise them. That old door was 46 years old!

Sometimes it would get stuck under the frame of the garage door and one of the guys would have to pound on it to pop it back behind the wood. It trapped me until they did.

The biggest mistake we make is wanting everything our parents have now. We forget that our parents worked for 30 years to make the home they now enjoy. We have to use the same 2 “W” words that they used.

“Work” and “Wait”

This was our big project for the year. We didn’t borrow to buy the paint, paint supplies, garage door, garage door opener, or the installation costs. We are still debt-free.

$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $

I told you I was going to take my birthday off! I did and totally enjoyed myself. That is why there was not a post last week. I also took the month off – I didn’t decorate for Halloween. I will give you a tour of my Thanksgiving home next week.

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Ottoman Rescue

I chose this ottoman with my granddaughter in mind. I used it to store her toys. But it became a problem when all the family was here. She would want to get in the ottoman to get her toys and someone would be using it! I moved her toys to bookshelves hidden behind a curtain under the TV, see here. Now I store my quilts in it.

This ottoman fits perfectly between the two reclining seats on my couch. If not in the center, it gets bumped when someone reclines. It has serviced us well for a few years and started showing its age.

I didn’t want to replace it yet and decided to do a little cosmetic surgery. You can see where the vinyl has worn away on some of the corners.

Damaged Ottoman "Ottoman Rescue" frugalfish.org

I have a love/hate relationship with the secret weapon I used. I love it for repairs and labeling but hated it when my kids got a hold of it. I still have dressers with autographs and pictures on the backs. (Like I would never see them!)

My secret weapon worked perfectly. It looks like new again!

Repaired Ottoman "Ottoman Rescue" frugalfish.org

Here’s my weapon – a Red Sharpie Pen! It “stained” the white material where the vinyl had rubbed off. I colored the worn spots and wiped off the excess with a paper towel as I went along. I let it dry a day before using it.  (Hint: you can use “Armorall” to extend the life of your vinyl furniture.)Red Sharpie Pen "Ottoman Rescue" frugalfish.org

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After

My Facebook feed, after last week’s post, proved my point. The first few comments were from those looking through a camera lens.Then everyone tried guessing what was different.

That’s when the magnifying glasses came out. None of the guesses were correct! (Not even my family members who live here guessed correctly!) One even decided she needed new glasses!

The problem was everyone was studying the “after” picture, not the “before” picture! I included a link to the “before” picture, but that didn’t help.

Here is my kitchen “before.”

New Kitchen "New Kitchen for Five Bucks" frugalfish.org

Do you see anything that could be improved? Here is my kitchen “after.”

My kitchen "The big Picture" frugalfish.org

Since I made you wait a week, I will tell you. I touched up the paint on the back of the stove. It was a glaring flaw to me but not to anyone else!

We see the flaws, our friends see the kitchen. If you are using your house as a reason not to entertain, forget it. Your friends will never see the flaws that you see. But if something bugs you, fix it!

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The Big Picture

How do you view your home?

  1. Through rose-colored glasses?
  2. Through a camera lens?
  3. Through a magnifying glass?
  4. Through a microscope?

When I took the photo of my kitchen cabinets after their cosmetic makeover, one thing was glaring at me. It was horrible, I was sure everyone would see it and comment.

No one noticed.

Not one.

Obviously, everyone was looking at the picture differently than I did. Those who use rose-colored glasses see everything as perfect. They overlook flaws and clutter. We do the same thing when we walk by the pile of papers on our desk and ignore it.

Those who look through a camera lens are seeing the big picture. The flaws are there, but they don’t mention them. That is how most people look at our homes. They see the pile of paper but overlook it.

We tend to look at our homes through a magnifying glass. We enlarge the flaws until those are the only things we are looking at. Through a magnifying glass, the pile of paper is spilling over the desk onto the floor. We make it a bigger deal than it is.

A microscope enlarges bacteria, and other things, that are not clear to the naked eye. One who looks at your home through a microscope will see the paper as a pile full of allergens. They look for dirt and expect to find pathogens lurking there.

To see your rooms the way most see it, take a picture of it. Study the photo. If there is anything that looks like it could use a little TLC, fix it!

That is what I did. It didn’t take any money, or elbow grease, and I only spent 5 minutes fixing it. I wonder if anyone will even notice the difference?

My kitchen "The big Picture" frugalfish.org

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New Kitchen for Five Bucks

It started with chipped paint in between the bottom cabinet doors. That chip peeled and eventually became a hole. I only intended to fill the hole and touch up the paint.

Our cabinets are original to the house, 1971. When we moved the refrigerator to the corner, it left a 12″ space. There was an oak cabinet at the lumberyard that someone ordered and then changed their mind. We bought it and I painted all the cabinets white. The original cabinets were “pecan.”

The door fronts were similar enough that you didn’t notice it was a different cabinet – until you looked down. The toe kick was an inch higher than the “pecan” cabinets. It had bugged me for years and I decided to do something about it.

I found a piece of scrap trim downstairs. (I always keep scrap wood.) It wasn’t long enough or deep enough, but I nailed it to the cabinet anyway. I used a paint stirrer taped to the cabinet with duct tape to line up the outside edge.

Nailed on trim "New Kitchen for Five Bucks" frugalfish.org

 

 

 

 

 

Then I glued the trim to the bottom of the cabinet. I used scraps of wood and broke a paint stirrer in half, to support the trim while the glue dried. (I keep wood glue and wood filler on hand.) It took three coats of wood filler to completely fill in the seam.

Glued on trim "New Kitchen for Five Bucks" frugalfish.org

 

 

 

 

Wood filler in cracks "New Kitchen for Five Bucks" frugalfish.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

David asked if I wanted him to remove the handles and hinges. I said “Yes!”

We put these new handles on in the 90’s when I painted the cabinets white. They were black with just a touch of copper showing through. At the time, I was collecting copper to “warm” up the decor in the kitchen. But I am over that copper phase, it looked “country.”

Kitchen cabinet with copper hardware "New Kitchen for Five Bucks" frugalfish.org

We talked about replacing the hardware, but I liked the traditional style. I just wished they were black to look like wrought iron. He took them off on Saturday, and I spent the day scraping white paint off of them with a metal nail file and steel wool. I used craft paint that I had on hand to paint them.

 

David brought home a $5.00 can of Acrylic spray paint because he didn’t want the paint to come off from the metal hardware. I finished scraping and painting the hardware on Saturday night. We let the paint cure on Sunday and he sprayed them with acrylic on Monday night.

Tuesday, I finished touching up the paint on the doors and the seam of the trim I added. We put the doors back up and installed the handles.

When our son got home, I asked him to turn on the light and check out the cabinets. He said,

“Wow, it looks like a new kitchen!”

New Kitchen "New Kitchen for Five Bucks" frugalfish.org

I got a new kitchen for $5.00! In maintaining our homes, we forget the two most important items to use: time and elbow grease! I worked on the cabinets a little every weekday for 10 days. I spent 9 hours scraping and painting the hardware on Saturday. I believe that was time well spent.

You may find a project in your house that only needs things you already have on hand, time, and a little elbow grease.

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Whiter Than Snow

“Hey, mom, did you paint the stairwell?”

“No, I just washed the walls.”

It was my first decorating project for 2017 – revamping the stairwell walls. I showed you in October how I display the art my children made in elementary and middle school on a shelf and the walls of the stairwell. After seeing my son duck his head going down the stairs I decided it was time for an update. That was when I realized . . .

 . . . we had been robbed!

I was removing the staples from the artwork on the back and right side of the stairwell, and taking them down, when I noticed staples in the wall and no artwork! I should have taken the art down from the right side of the stairwell when Derek got his drum set. The bass drum in the hard case barely fits between the banister and the wall. Some of the artwork had been torn by it. (Later when I questioned him, he admitted he may have disposed of artwork that was torn in two.)

After taking down the art, I filled in the holes and wiped the wall with a Mr. Clean magic eraser. That eraser works really well! I used some peel and stick letters to form the word “DUCK” on the header at the bottom of the stairs. Our basement ceiling is 7 1/2′ high. If you are over 6′, you can hit your head going down the stairs!

Artwork on a stairwell "Whiter than Snow" frugalfish.org

I wanted a fresh start for 2017 and there is nothing more clean-looking than snow. While I was at it, I set out some snowmen decor. The snowman on the towel inspired me to have hope.

Snowman towels "Whiter than Snow" frugalfish.org

I kept one New Year’s Resolution on Monday when I paid the full price for an 18″ grapevine wreath. Last year, I redecorated a wooden wreath each month, but it was so small it covered the peephole. My Christmas wreath was 18″ and I decided that was the perfect size for my door because it did not block the peephole.

Grapevine wreath on door "Whiter than Snow" frugalfish.org

I loved all the lights at Christmas and kept out one string of white lights. I ran them along the bottom of my windowsill to light up the snowmen and tree on it.

Snowmen on Windowsill "Whiter than Snow" frugalfish.org

I set out flameless candles that change colors around the room. They remind me of the “Aurora Borealis” up north.

Flameless candle "Whiter than Snow" frugalfish.org

Even though there currently isn’t snow on the ground, I placed white-tipped pine cones on the soil of my plants. It put a little “snow” in the room.

Pinecones in plants "Whiter than Snow" frugalfish.org

I used the snowflakes my kids made as coasters on a navy blue runner in my kitchen tablescape. The snowmen are filled with salt and pepper. (What should I put in the glass jar?)

Snowmen tablescape "Whiter than Snow" frugalfish.org

Of course, there are snowmen in my china cabinet and a tea-cup from China because Chinese New Year is January 28th.

Cup and Snowmen "Whiter than Snow" frugalfish.org

My tour ends with a juggling snowman hanging out between two Cardinal mugs. I love seeing Cardinals in the snow!

Mugs and Snowman "Whiter than Snow" frugalfish.org

There are no pictures from the basement because I am still sorting and packing up Christmas decorations. Oddly enough, not one has made it to the Goodwill box! My Frugalfish tip for this week is…

…Try washing your wall, before deciding to paint!

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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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Easy Fix for Shoes that Slip Off of Your Heel

I have one pair of dress shoes. That is not by choice, I just have a hard time finding them in my size – 7 EE. No, that is not a typo; it is 2 “E”s. On top of the odd size, I prefer leather because it will be years before I can find another pair. I think these pumps, made by Aravon, are 10 years old.

Granted, I do not wear them often because the dress code for the worship band at church is jeans, sneakers, dressy tee shirts. But I do have the occasional wedding or funeral to attend.

Last weekend was the wedding of our cousin’s son. I wanted to wear these pumps. Unfortunately, the elastic in the front was no longer tight. The shoes slipped off the back of my heel.

First, I tried sewing pieces of elastic on under the straps to strengthen them. I cut them too short and the straps cut into my feet. Then I tried finding those little plastic things you can put in the back of the heel but was unsuccessful. Elastic pieces and pumps

Mom stopped by while I was ripping out the stitches and the elastic that I had sewn on the weekend before. She worked in a shoe store before she married. Her suggestion was to buy plain insoles and put them under the insoles in the shoe. It makes the shoe fit tighter and your foot will not slide down further into the shoe as you wear them.

She was right! The insoles worked. The shoe did not slip off of the back of my heel throughout the entire wedding! Snug and comfortable pumps

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Cleaning a Box Fan

“I was dilated 2 cm…one in each eye!”

That was when a headache started. It took all afternoon and evening for my eyes to return to normal. Four days later, I was looking for anything that could be prolonging it. I cleaned the house and washed all of my bedding. The only thing left was the box fan my husband insists he needs or he can’t sleep.

“Two cuts and one tetanus shot later…”

How to Clean a Box Fan, (Lessons I learned the hard way!)

  1. Wear rubber gloves: It doesn’t matter how careful you are, that exposed metal is going to cut you. Wearing cotton glove liners under the rubber gloves is an added layer of protection.
  2. After unplugging, remove both front and back screens: The fan blades attract dust like a magnet.
  3. Put screws in a bowl: Those tiny things love to roll under furniture and disappear.
  4. Use a dry paintbrush to remove dust from motor and wiring: Dad was an electrician. He made sure we knew never to use water on electrical parts.
  5. Vacuum up as much dust and lint from the surfaces: If you try to just wipe it off you will find yourself with muddy blades.
  6. Use strong soap, like TSP: I used a mild cleanser because I didn’t want to wear gloves, see #1. I had to wipe the blades off several times.
  7. Start all the screws on one side before tightening: Top right, Bottom left, Right side, Left side, Bottom right, Top left.
  8. Tighten screws in reverse order: There is nothing more frustrating than having 5 screws tightened only to find the 6th screw will not go in.
  9. Let dry for several hours: I cleaned mine early in the morning, see #4.
  10. Vacuum dust and lint from your work area: The job is not done until you clean-up.

Enjoy your new-looking fan!

Dirty Box FanPaint brush on box fanTightening screws on box fan.Clean fan.

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