Same Price for Pork Chops or Roast

We pay the same price for our pork roasts as we do for our boneless pork chops. We pay the same price for 1/4″ chops as we do for 1/2″ chops and we get all of them for under $2.00 a pound!

I know it sounds too good to be true, but it’s not. We wait until a pork loin is on sale. We have paid from $1.59 a pound to $1.99 a pound. (Lower food costs is a benefit of living in Iowa.) They weigh around 10 pounds. When we get it home, David gets to work.

Using our meat/cheese slicer, see here, he cuts boneless pork chops off and puts 4 to a package. He cuts up to the last third of the pork loin. That leaves about 3 pounds and makes a nice sized pork roast. Sometimes, he cuts two roasts and not as many pork chops. He can cut them whatever width he likes.

David Cutting up a Pork Loin "Same Price for Pork Chops or Roast" frugalfish.org

You don’t need a meat/cheese slicer to do this. All you need is a sharp knife! You can even cut thicker pork chops and stuff them! Keep your eyes out for a sale on pork loin!

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Save on Senior Pictures

My nephew, Brayden, played “Pomp and Circumstance” for the last time on Sunday. Next year, he will be marching down to receive his diploma! There are many things to do before that last march on the football field and the first one is best done this month.

When my youngest graduated from high school, we couldn’t decide where to get his senior pictures taken.

We had three options:

Photographer 1 took the senior pictures of my first two children.

Photographer 2 is a close friend of the extended family. So close, that her family has attended our family reunion for decades.

Photographer 3 is a relative of my daughter-in-law. She took a family picture of us after their wedding.

They all are excellent photographers and we worried about hurt feelings. Then I remembered the deal I made with Photographer 1.

My oldest son graduated in 2005. I saw a picture of a 2004 graduate that captured her personality, taken by Photographer 1.

When I called, I told the photographer I had a senior and a junior. I asked her if she could make me a deal if I had my daughter’s pictures taken there the next year.

She offered me two free family sittings. I used the first free sitting for my extended family in 2004. I never used the second one.

I called Photographer 1 and reminded her I still had a second free sitting. I asked her if we could use it for my youngest sons’ senior pictures.

She said, “Yes!”

They base sitting fees on the different outfits worn for pictures. In his case, it was $25.00 per outfit. Derek wore a baseball uniform and three other outfits for his pictures. That saved me $100.00 in sitting fees.

Derek's Baseball Picture "Saving Money on Senior Pictures" frugalfish.org

Top Ten Tips

1. Book your appointment in June. Most photographers will have a reduced rate or throw in free pictures for early bookings. My sitting fee for my first son was 75% off because I booked in June. Every photographer has their own incentives.

2. If you have more than one child, ask for a deal and have all of them photographed by the same one. The pictures will have a similar feel because each photographer has their own style.

3. Limit the outfits your child wears. This is especially hard with girls!

4. Ask if the photographer has a “Participation Bonus”.  You get a free gift or picture when your child is wearing a uniform: band, sports, even FFA.

5. Have your child be a model for the photographer for a free or reduced sitting fee.

6. Order the minimum number of pictures needed. Make a list of all the relatives you are buying for and write the size of the print you want for them next to it. Buy a large print for yourself and an 8 x 10 or 5 x 7 for your child. Don’t order hundreds of wallets. Derek graduated with 129 other students. I ordered 100 wallets for Luke and had a stack left over. I ordered 88 wallets for Laura and used them all. So, I ordered only 88 for Derek and used them all.

7. You may get more opportunities for free pictures later in the year by writing a review.

8. In January they go on sale. They contact you to see if you need more photos, sometimes at reduced prices. You can also get a copy of your child’s portfolio or picture DVD at a reduced price.

9. Some photographers throw in a free bonus picture if you pay in full when you place your order.

10. You can also get free photos and other freebies based on the amount of money you spend, i.e. spend $200.00 – get one freebie, spend $300.00 – get two freebies.

$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $

If your photographer is a family member . . .

  • do not expect a free sitting. This is how they make their living. Be willing to pay full price and be grateful if they offer you a discount.
  • do not expect them to clear their schedule to accommodate you.
  • do not cancel at the last-minute, unless it is an emergency, and pay them the sitting fee anyway.

Being frugal is not about being cheap; it is about making the most of your money!

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Tricking My Sweet Tooth

I had a high metabolism. I could eat anything I wanted and not gain weight. Life was good until I went to the dentist.

“Which is worse on my teeth, Mountain Dew or Hershey’s Kisses?”

“Both!”

All the fun ended when I hit that birthday beginning with a 4. The metabolism slowed down, and even worse, I had to take regular rounds of Prednisone. When you take steroids, you don’t feel hungry but starving!

I will never forget the day I went to the doctor and the nurse told me I lost 5 pounds. I replied, “It only took 10 years.”

$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $

My mom loved to bake. We had dessert at lunch and at dinner – or is that dinner and supper. Anyway, I liked having something sweet at the end of a meal.

When I stepped down from my job and my clothes no longer fit, I had two reasons to give up Mountain Dew: 1) I couldn’t afford it, and 2) I couldn’t afford new clothes. I switched to sweet tea instead.

I took my coffee with 2 scoops of sugar and 2 creamers for years. I cut back there by using a dollop of whipping cream and 1 teaspoon of sugar. (There are natural sugars in the cream.)

Now that I had my drinking under control . . . ( No, wait, I never did acquire a taste for alcohol – just sugar) . . . I decided to curb my desserts. I switched to eating dessert at lunch and a few pips of a Hershey’s candy bar at supper. That took self-control that I didn’t really have.

I started making homemade trail mix. There are enough M & M’s in it to satisfy my sweet tooth and I measure it out, one-fourth a cup, in snack size bags for portion control.

My biggest weakness – well after chocolate – is ice cream. I loved having a big bowl at lunch, preferably on top of a banana! I started getting ice cream cones and reduced my consumption by two-thirds.

I was also buying yogurt, but it would spoil before I could get it all eaten up. I came up with a plan. I scooped one-fourth cup of Yogurt into muffin tins and froze them.

Freezing Yogurt in Muffin Tins "Tricking My Sweet Tooth" frugalfish.org

Then I removed them from the pan and placed them in a plastic ziplock bag.

Individual Frozen Yogurt "Tricking My Sweet Tooth" frugalfish.org

I put one in a bowl in the refrigerator 3 hours before lunch to partially thaw. Then I make a frozen yogurt cone! It is much cheaper freezing it myself and healthier than eating ice cream.

Homemade Frozen Yogurt Cone "Tricking My Sweet Tooth" frugalfish.org

Last night I made David some green tea. I brewed it on the stove and my son suggested I add honey to it. That could be my next step!

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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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September Decoration Flip

Derek was not impressed when I got out my flag for September. He was hoping for colorful leaves and pumpkins. He was not expecting the apples!Fall Flag, "September Decoration Flip" frugalfish.org

But September is still warm; it was 80° yesterday. Everything is still green and you can run around barefoot.Barefoot girls on Vase, "September Decoration Flip" frugalfish.org

It is also when the fruit ripens; pears, apples, and grapes are on sale.Pear Candle, "September Decoration Flip" frugalfish.org

Rubber grapes make a nice bow on my plain wooden wreath.Wooden wreath with grapes, "September Decoration Flip" frugalfish.org

Apples and leaves are my themes for this month, mainly because I had a new, flameless candle, embedded with leaves. I set it on my apple runner and put “Apple Salt and Pepper” shakers on each side.Leaf candle with apple salt & pepper shakers, "September Decoration Flip" frugalfish.org

Instead of putting my decorative dishes in the china cabinet, I put them on the shelf leading to the basement and filled them with apple/cinnamon potpourri.Dishes filled with apple cinnamon potpourri, "September Decoration Flip" frugalfish.org

Now for My Secrets!

There are three leaf-shaped votive candles on top of wooden napkin rings on the tiny shelf by the door. Underneath, a mug with gold leaves on it.Leaf-shaped votive candles on wooden napkin rings, "September Decoration Flip" frugalfish.org

On the windowsill between the kitchen and dining room, I put a plaque and two votive candles.Plaque and candles, "September Decoration Flip" frugalfish.org

The candles were not tall enough. I filled the votive holders with cornmeal to raise them up!Cornmeal raises candle, "September Decoration Flip" frugalfish.org

On the dining room table, I put a burgundy tablecloth and a red runner for the two different shades of apples. This runner is tone on tone and the backside blended with the tablecloth better. I removed the tag and you cannot tell it is the backside. Apple, acorn, candle, centerpiece, "September Decoration Flip" frugalfish.org

A leaf brooch dresses up the towels in the bathroom.Leaf brooch on towels, "September Decoration Flip" frugalfish.org

Without a washcloth in the color I desired, I used the “spring” washcloth and folded the decorated side over the back.Tuck decorated portion of towel behind, "September Decoration Flip" frugalfish.org

Those are my “September Decorating Flips:”

  1. Use a napkin ring as a votive candle holder or small pine cone holder.
  2. Use cornmeal, or popcorn, to raise a small candle up to the desired level.
  3. Flip your table runner and remove the tag.
  4. Tuck the decorated side of a washcloth behind to have a plain colored washcloth.

I didn’t spend any money to decorate for September; since I picked up the leaf candle last winter on clearance. You can see different ways I used these same decorations on my Pinterest page!

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

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Free Cotton Balls

“Watch the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.” Benjamin Franklin

Yes, it’s allergy season. I am now taking Allegra 180 twice a day…plus Singulair…plus an occasional Benadryl. My husband also takes Allegra 180 and that is 90 pills a month. We buy a double pack of the generic brand with 60 tablets twice a month.

The bottle comes with cotton on top of it to keep the pills from breaking during transit.Pill bottle and cotton

I take that cotton and cut it into 4 cotton balls. Pill bottle and cotton swabs

We don’t have to take this much year round and it averages out to 60 cotton balls. It may seem like it is not worth it, but Benjamin Franklin penned a universal law, “If you pay attention to the little things, the big things will take care of themselves.” When you are in the habit of using every last bit, you will not waste any, and you will be able to postpone buying more.

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

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Stretching Syrup

Monday was David’s birthday and he asked for homemade waffles for breakfast. I reminded him that we still had some blueberry syrup left, but when we got out the jar, it was almost empty.

I was not going without blueberry syrup on my waffle!

I added a tablespoon of corn syrup to the bottle. Corn syrup and blueberry syrup

I shook the bottle well,  to get the bits of blueberry off the sides, and turned it upside down. Upside down jar of blueberry syrup

By the time I finished making the rest of the waffles, the syrup and blueberry bits were down at the bottom of the bottle. There was plenty!Waffle on a plate

I used a spatula to scrape the batter off of the measuring cup and bowl. I used my finger to scrape the extra batter off of the spatula and found there was enough for one more waffle. Waffle

Always use every last drop!

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

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Shopping for a Chest of Drawers with a $65.00 Budget and $7.00 Cash

My husband works for a small lumber company. How small is it? There are only two salesmen…and one is a farmer…and you work every other Saturday morning. That means you can only take vacations in the winter.

Unless your Saturday off is a Holiday weekend!

David got lucky and had Saturday, July 2nd off. We decided to spend the long weekend in Des Moines. I looked at everything there was to do, but decided I wanted to spend the time shopping for a chest of drawers for our youngest.

His buffet/dresser served three generations. The repaired drawers were more suited for cloth napkins and tablecloths than for clothes.

We just replaced the washer and I knew our budget for appliances was not large. It discouraged me to find there was only $65.00 in that account. On top of that, I had purchased 4 pairs of shoes on clearance prices and didn’t even have much spending money left.

We took off on Saturday and I had $7.00 in my wallet. David had the money for food in his wallet. The motel and gas money came out of our vacation budget. I actually thought about staying home, but we love eating at new places, so off we went.

We pulled up the used furniture stores in the Des Moines area on David’s phone and used the GPS to try to find them. Several were in the poorer sections and we didn’t even bother to stop. We did go through D.A.V. Thrift Store, run by disabled veterans because we wanted to support them. We didn’t find what we were looking for there.

Our last stop was “Do Overz.” I loved the look of this store when I went to their website and I was not disappointed when I went inside! The owner sells furniture on consignment and she is very choosy about what she takes.

We found two!

The first chest we found was dark wood and had a bit of scratching on the top and the front. But it had two things going for it: 1) It had the same manufacturer of the chest of drawers we purchased a few months ago, and 2) It was $68.00!

The second chest was in better shape, but it was light wood and cost $124.00. I thought it was a better deal, but it will be in the “locker room.” (The guys keep their clothes in our large laundry room/bathroom and we dubbed it the “locker room.”) When we first moved in, the basement flooded and we had to throw away carpets, couches, and chairs. If that happened again, I would be crushed to have this nice chest be damaged.

We bought the dark chest. It fit our budget and it matches.

Don’t be discouraged when you don’t have a large budget to work with. You might be surprised at what you can find in consignment shops, thrift stores, auctions, and garage sales. Chest of drawers

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

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Saving on Surgery

“Your gall bladder is inflamed, with over 20 stones, full of fluid, infection, and possibly gangrene.”

He went on to tell me it has been sick for over 10 years; but it was hard to concentrate because I was medicated and he looked like Santa Claus! It turned out he is Santa Claus; and had his picture taken with over 400 children last year…

…and he is married to the surgeon who would perform the operation!

(Yes, I live in a small town. My cousin’s wife is one of the surgical nurses.)

The 35 minute surgery took 2 hours. He told me it was like picking up a baseball with a pair of tweezers. My sister thought I was going to die.

(Spoiler alert – I didn’t.)

I learned a few things along the way:

  1. Take the medication: They made me drink something to get my bowels to move because the regular medications didn’t have any effect on me. I had a toddler visiting and she noticed the pretty button on the bottom of the bed. She pushed it, and as I went up, so did the medication. But I drank every concoction they prescribed.
  2. Limit pain killers: A fever forced me to remain in the hospital a second day. My system still was not functioning, even after 4 doses of Milk of Magnesia, stool softeners, and 2 suppositories. The pain killers grind your digestive system to a halt. The second day I stopped taking them. I stayed still and napped as much as possible. When I got home, I took two and went right to sleep.
  3. Fruit is your friend: I ordered fruit, fruit juice, and fruit pie to try to help my system naturally. At the suggestion of my youngest son, I finally asked for prune juice! Three hours later, my body started working again and I was able to finally go home. I continued drinking prune juice, (gag), until I no longer needed the pain killers.
  4. Keep your sense of humor: 1) Before they rolled me off for surgery, they asked my birthday. I subtracted 20 years. My oldest son quipped, “Yeah, she was 5 when I was born.” 2) I told my regular doctor that the 20 stones each weighed a pound. I wasn’t really overweight…it was the stones.
  5. Eat: I ordered a salmon sandwich and it tasted like Spam. My daughter-in-law kept pushing me to eat one more bite. When my husband came on his lunch hour, he bought the salmon sandwich. I sent her a text, “David bought the Spam sandwich!” She replied with emoticons of chicken leg = something brown = house. When I asked her about the “no bake cookies,” she explained: food = poop = going home.
  6. Walk: My first walk was short and slow. My second walk was longer and I passed two older men. They seemed to speed up. I don’t know if it was from competition or they were hoping my gown would fly open!
  7. Nap: Our hospital has a quiet time when they ask visitors to leave. Since you are going to be awakened throughout the night, it’s a good idea to sleep when you can during the day. Rest is the best prescription.
  8. Get all of the prescriptions: I had been home over the weekend when the pharmacy called to say my meds were ready. I didn’t recognize the name of the doctor and called the clinic. It turned out the infection was antibiotic resistant. They tried two different antibiotics in the hospital, but when the final blood test results came back, they realized it would take a different one to kill it.
  9. Accept help: My family and church members brought over meals. That took the pressure off of my husband who was waiting on me hand and foot. (Those were his words, not mine.)
  10. Stop: Don’t do any regular activities until the doctor releases you. Delegate anything and everything. I wanted to post to this blog the day I got my stitches out, but the doctor restricted me to the couch for another week. Take it slow.

The best way to save on surgery is to have an outpatient procedure. That means you have to take care of things right away. Don’t wait until it is infected and an emergency situation.

If that is not an option…

DO WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERS!

Your goal is to go home as soon as possible.

Some of my Get Well cards included original art!

Some of my Get Well cards included original art!

©2009-2016 frugalfish.org. All Rights Reserved.

Save Time, Money, Water, and Electricity with This Laundry Tip

When my father was planning to retire, he decided to upgrade his older appliances. His dryer worked fine, but he wanted to have a matching set. My dryer was dying and he offered his old one to us. He wasn’t sure how long it would last.

That was ten years ago and his dryer is still running!

What did I do to extend its life?

I followed a tip I first heard at debtproofliving.com:

“Put your dyer on the ‘Delicate’ setting and dry everything on the ‘Permanent Press’ cycle.”

Your dryer’s heating element will not be on high and that extends its life. The clothes dry just as quickly…even towels!

Another thing I do is get the clothes out of the dryer on the first buzz. If there are items that are not completely dry, I put them back in the dryer and let it run while I fold the remaining clothes. They are usually dry before I get the rest folded. If not, like the double pockets on jeans, I throw them over the retractable clothes line, see here.

I take the time to shake out each larger item before I put them in the dryer. When the sleeves of shirts, or the legs of pants, are tangled into a ball, it not only takes longer for them to dry, it leaves them hopelessly wrinkled.

I turn flannel pajama pants and sweat pants inside out to allow the pockets to dry quickly. I even fold the jeans into a “Z” to keep them from tangling. (Don’t forget the tennis balls, see here.) It really helps if you have white jeans that were washed with other white fabrics, see here.

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

In November our washer started leaking. The repairman said a bearing was failing and it wore a hole in a hose. He repaired the hose and it still leaked. When he came back he found the second leak was from the gasket on my front load washing machine.

I was disgusted.

We had to replace that gasket twice while it was still under warranty. The gasket cost $100.00 and the labor to replace it was $200.00. The repairman told me to use it until the ball bearing completely failed. We both agreed it would not be wise to invest another $300.00 in the machine.

Our washing machine is 12″ from a drain and there is nothing between it and the drain. It has been no problem to just let it leak when I run it. The water just goes down the drain.

I was so pleased with the longevity of the dryer I decided that there had to be a way to make a washer last longer. Then it hit me…

the “Speed Wash” cycle!

That cycle runs for 38 minutes and the regular cycle has an extra rinse and runs for 61 minutes. I have been washing my clothes on the “Speed Wash Cycle” for a few months and they are just as clean. I treat stains as usual before throwing them in the wash.

The great thing is the washer cycle finishes a few minutes after the dryer’s first buzz. I have time to fold that load before putting the next load in the dryer. A load used to take 2 hours to wash and dry; now it takes an hour and fifteen minutes.

I wash 2 loads a day and I finish in an hour and a half, including the time to fold the clothes. It used to take me over 3 hours to do the same 2 loads. It’s wonderful to finish my laundry in half of the time!

A tip to save time, water, electricity, and wear and tear on your machines.

A tip to save time, water, electricity, and wear and tear on your machines.

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