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"

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"

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"

©2009-2017 All rights reserved.

 Twitter – @frugalfishorg

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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"

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

My kitchen "The big Picture"

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!

©2009-2017 All rights reserved.

 Twitter – @frugalfishorg

Facebook – Frugal Fish


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"

©2009-2017 All rights reserved.

 Twitter – @frugalfishorg

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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"






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"





Wood filler in cracks "New Kitchen for Five Bucks"







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"

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"

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.

©2009-2017 All rights reserved.

 Twitter – @frugalfishorg

Facebook – Frugal Fish

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"

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"

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"

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"

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"

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"

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"

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"

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"

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!

©2009-2017 All rights reserved.

 Twitter – @frugalfishorg

Facebook – Frugal Fish


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"

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"

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.

©2009-2016 All rights reserved.

 Twitter – @frugalfishorg

Facebook – Frugal Fish

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

©2009-2016 All rights reserved.

 Twitter – @frugalfishorg

Facebook – Frugal Fish

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 the clean-up is done.

Enjoy your new-looking fan!

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

©2009-2016 All rights reserved.

Foil Stuck to Food or Fused to the Bottom of the Oven?

I usually keep foil on the bottom of my oven to catch drips. (The manufacturer tells you never to put anything on the bottom of your oven.)

For some reason, the foil was missing when something ran over. It was right before Thanksgiving and I didn’t have time to clean the oven. I put more foil down on top of it.


When I pulled the foil off, a section stayed stuck to the bottom.

This section of foil was stuck.

This section of foil was stuck.

I researched how to get it off, and found that there are two different problems:

  1. The foil is stuck to food on the bottom of the oven, or
  2. The foil has been fused to the bottom by high heat.

(The “Clean” cycle will not remove the foil; it will fuse it to the bottom of the oven.)

We cook our turkey on 500° for the first half hour. I knew there was food it was stuck to; but I didn’t know if it was fused to the oven bottom. I tried a trick that chef’s use to clean pans.

I put a dryer sheet down, poured boiling water over it, and let it sit overnight.

Dryer sheet to the rescue.

Dryer sheet to the rescue.

Whistle while you work...

Whistle while you work…

Just cover the area with boiling water.

Just cover the area with boiling water.


Some of the foil came right off.

Some of the foil came right off, but some stayed fused to the bottom of the oven. 

I did more research and found they recommended using “Draino” or “Easy Off” to remove the foil. Since it is a chemical reaction, (it gets hot and there are bad fumes), they recommended taking the bottom piece out of the oven and doing it outside.

Right. It was below zero here!

I decided there had to be a better way. One of the chemicals mentioned was the same as Coke, (according to one of the comments). I got a Coke, poured it over the remnant, and let it sit overnight.

Well…this is the embarrassing part…

My daughter came over to watch our granddaughter because I had to leave and her parents weren’t back yet. She asked to make cookies and I thought it was a great idea!

I was playing the keyboard at practice when my phone vibrated with this text…


I forgot about the Coke! So, I got out another dryer sheet, doused it with boiling water, and started over. Most of the burnt Coke came up.

I poured more Coke over the foil and waited. That did not work.

I ran the “Clean” cycle last night.

The burned coke is gone, but the foil is still there.

The burned coke is gone, but the foil is still there.

The good news? You can determine if the foil is stuck to food or fused to the oven with the dryer sheet trick! The bad news? I have to take time this weekend to try to remove the fused foil. Sigh.

©2009-2016 All rights reserved.

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 permanent marker. Sigh.

Today’s pictures will  prove my point.

Our home was built in 1971 and I swear they put in windows they took out of a trailer. They were Plexiglass with metal frames. Some were even single paned. 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 Plexigalss 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 at 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 All rights reserved.