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.

When the Vinegar and Baking Soda Trick Does Not Work on Towels

I was relaxing in the tub and dropped my washcloth into the water. It seemed to float! Amazing! It took several minutes to absorb the water and sink.

I live in an area with very hard water and we do not have a water softener. I read in several places the trick of washing your towels with vinegar and baking soda.

It didn’t work!

After more research, I found it is better to rinse your towels and washcloths with ammonia, not vinegar.

1. Fight mineral deposits.
If you’ve got hard water, mineral buildup could be the culprit. “To lift deposits, wash the towels in the hottest water possible, and add 1 cup of ammonia and nothing else,” says Good Housekeeping home care expert Heloise.

I fill a downy ball with ammonia. It helped the towels, but my washcloths were still scratchy.

Then I remembered my hairdresser told me to rinse my hair with warm water and baking soda to remove any build-up of products. I got out a bucket, dumped a half a cup of baking soda in it and filled it with hot water. (You can buy baking soda in a 4 lb box.)

I soaked the washcloths for a day before I washed them. That softened them up and they started to absorb water better.

My washcloths are ten years old and that is a lot of build-up to remove. I didn’t keep track of which washcloths I had previously soaked. (Sorry) I don’t know how many times I soaked them in baking soda, but I recommend doing it more than once. You may notice a huge improvement after soaking them just once. I also used a 5-gallon bucket. You could use more baking soda in a smaller bucket. (Yes, I should be more scientific! Lol)

Soaking washcloths to remove build-up.

Soaking washcloths and hand towels to remove build-up.

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“But…I Don’t Own It”

I was an administrator at a local church for years and I would get frustrated when people would not take care of things and expect a replacement to be purchased when it broke. I am a firm believer in fixing things when the repair is small.

I play in a worship band and I know items wear out, but I am determined to take care of the things I use. We set up and tear down every week, which makes us more of a traveling band than most. Our equipment can get a lot of wear and tear.

A few years ago a keyboard, keyboard case, and keyboard bench were purchased for me to play. After a year or so, I noticed the velcro was pulling away from the strap that keeps the keyboard secure in the case. I wish I had repaired it when I first noticed it, but sadly, I waited until it was almost completely torn loose.

I took my upholstery needles, see here, with me one Sunday and sat in the case to repair the strap. I couldn’t reach the entire strap from the side and that is why I climbed in the case. (Yes, I took a lot of ribbing that morning.)

The strongest thread I had was not black, but I figured no one would see it but me…well, until today. That stitching is holding firm and the strap now holds the keyboard securely.

Repaired keyboard case strap with upholstery needle.

Repaired keyboard case strap with upholstery needle.

The keyboard bench has also taken some wear and tear. Items were piled on top of it one week and there was a small tear. I repaired it with a vinyl repair kit. Last month I noticed the corners were pulling apart. I stitched them with black thread and then covered the seam with vinyl repair glue.

Stitched torn seam and covered stitching with vinyl glue.

Stitched torn seam and covered stitching with vinyl glue.

This week I decided to do something about the feet on the keyboard bench. They have slipped off before and been left in the storage area. Then I would rock during the service.

I asked Mr. Frugalfish what to use to glue them to on. He said it was difficult to glue rubber and I came up with a different solution.

I brought 4 rubber bands from home and used them like washers. I put them on the ends of the metal legs and slipped the rubber feet over them. Those feet stay firmly in place now!

I use rubber bands like washers to secure rubber feet to metal legs of the keyboard bench.

I use rubber bands like washers to secure rubber feet to metal legs of the keyboard bench.

Part of being frugal is taking care of everything you use, even the stuff you don’t own. Of course, I did ask permission before I made the repairs.

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.)

Smart Couple

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

Why?

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.

 

(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.)

A Little Reinforcement Here

I love my waterbed.

I know you are flashing back to the 70’s, but that bed got me through several months of bed-rest when I was carrying my last two children. At one point, the nurse asked me how I managed to avoid bed sores and I shared that a waterbed does not give you any pressure points.

During my single days, I was referred to as “The Waterbed Girl,” because there was only one waterbed store in town and I moved to town to work there. (My husband sure enjoyed my nickname. He’d announce, “Yeah, I’m dating “The Waterbed Girl.”)

There is one downside to a waterbed and that is finding waterbed sheets that will stay on. I shared my frustrations in a posts, see http://wp.me/pKNzn-qu.

Waterbed sheets consist of a top sheet that is sewn to the base of a bottom sheet. It is only sewn together in the center third of the sheet for those who like to stick their feet out from under the sheet.

Unfortunately, over time, the top sheet can tear away from the bottom sheet and then it will unravel. I have used the zigzag stitch to sew the sheets back together a few times.

This time I added seam binding to the seam and used the zigzag stitch over all of the seam binding.

I added seam binding to the base of my waterbed sheets.

I added seam binding to the base of my waterbed sheets.

Self-Serve Closet

My friend posted on Facebook that she was going to do a closet purge last weekend. She was inspired by a post from dallasmomsblog.com, see http://dallas.citymomsblog.com/why-i-got-rid-of-my-wardrobe-capsule-wardrobe/.

I thought, “I don’t need to do that…I have a self-serve closet!”

A “Self-Serve Closet” is one where everything matches and you choose an outfit based on the temperature outside. When you put clean clothes away, you put them in the back of their section, i.e. short-sleeved shirts, turtlenecks, etc. Each day you wear the shirt at the front of the section based on sleeve length. (I actually have all four season in one closet.)

But I am not posting a picture of that closet.

Why?

Because, I got bored with my clothes and started buying different colors and patterns. It was a huge mistake. There are so many items in my closet that I am overwhelmed!

It’s time for me to do a closet purge again.

Luckily, my daughter recently moved out and I have an empty closet. I think I will use it to help me weed out my clothes. I have several items that do not match everything else. Sure, I can wear them with jeans or black pants, but I cannot layer them.

Sometimes, it’s hard letting go of clothes. I plan on moving them to that closet and sending them to Goodwill at a later date. If they are there at the end of the summer, I know I am ready to let them go.

How do I know I will be successful?

Because I only have four pair of shoes: black athletic, white athletic, red boots, and black pumps. The dress code for the band I play in is: jeans, sneakers and a casual shirt. I rarely wear the pumps or a dress.

I actually have a work outfit: jeans, sneakers, tee-shirt or button down blouse, and a sweater or blazer. That outfit is who I am: a writer who works from home.

Once again I need to remind myself that less is more.

The closet in the guest room.

The closet in the guest room.

On the Fringes

Last weekend we went shopping for work jeans for my husband. It is like a treasure hunt because he is 6′ 2″ and over 200 pounds. The regular sizes are too small and the “Big & Tall” are too big!

We struck out.

But he started his new job on Tuesday and he had to have something to wear to work. I checked 2 pair of his work jeans and there were no holes; they just were frayed at the leg openings.

I cut the white “fringes” off and they looked presentable. They will have to do until he can find a pair somewhere.

The pair on the left still has the "fringe" on the leg openings. The pair on the right had the white "fringe" removed.

The pair on the left still has the “fringe” on the leg openings. The pair on the right had the white “fringe” removed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Don’t Tell My Husband, Another Use for Mustache Trimmer

I actually had permission to use it, but not in this way.

I admitted to my husband that I got tired of plucking the fine, thin hairs between my eyebrows and I wanted to borrow his mustache trimmer to remove them. (Eventually, even fine, thin hair thickens and turns dark.)

He said, “Okay.”

But I found another use for it!

My winter coat, see http://wp.me/pKNzn-nG, is white and washable. It didn’t survive the holidays without a spot, or two, and I decided it was time to wash it.

I was disappointed when I took it out of the washer and noticed black pills along the edge of the sleeves. It made the coat still look dirty. I borrowed David’s mustache trimmer, again, and trimmed those little pills off. The trimmer is safer to use than a regular razor blade.

The little, black pills were trimmed off of the sleeve on the left. They are still visible on the sleeve on the right.

The little, black pills were trimmed off of the sleeve on the left. They are still visible on the sleeve on the right.

 

Never Forget to Flip or Rotate Your Mattress

In my last post, I shared how I remember when I cleaned my furnace filter. Today I want to talk about extending the life of your mattress.

We spend 1/3 of our life on our mattress and we need to take care of it. We all know the importance of flipping the mattress and rotating it. I have a solution to knowing if, and when, you moved it last.

I wrote “Jan” on the right side of the end of my mattress. When I flip it, I write “Apr.” I rotate and flip it in July and write “Jul.” One more flip, because it has already been rotated, is done in October. The word, “Oct” is written opposite “Jul,” and upside down.

When you change your sheets you can tell at a glance if it has been flipped and rotated in a timely manner. Every three months you will be sleeping on a different section of the mattress.

No more hills and valleys!

This end up in January.

This end up in January.