Now What!

“…My computer was frozen on the ‘Initializing System Restore’ screen for three hours!

I had tried running backup. I didn’t think it worked. I checked the memory in the external hard drive. It wasn’t full. I decided I must have deleted something that I shouldn’t have the last time I cleaned the disk.

Finally, I shut the computer down and restarted it. Then I checked the ‘last backup date’ again. It was today. We didn’t have much to back up so it only took 3 seconds.

I thought it was October 29th. (Sigh.) …”

Journal, October 22, 2021

That was one disaster that I brought on myself. I was stuck between a rock and a hard place because my tech guy was promoted to heaven. I’m sure he had a good laugh. I am grateful for all he taught me and that he made me do it instead of doing it for me.

Disasters everywhere…

I read about disasters this week in Exodus. Each plague was a disaster but those who followed the instructions of the Lord took precautions and were unharmed, see Exodus 9:20, 21. Some plagues, God only sent to the Egyptians. But these verses showed that he spared those among Pharaoh’s officials who listened.

Isaiah 32:17, “The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.”

New International Version

It’s a matter of heart…

After each plague, Pharaoh hardened his heart. Each plague showed that God was mightier than their gods who were represented by flies, gnats, frogs, etc. God struck to the heart of their beliefs. They believed that a person’s heart was weighed when they died to see if they lived in the afterlife.

“…the Weighing of the Heart ceremony. The deceased person’s heart was placed on one side of the scales; on the opposite side was a feather, which represented standards of truth and justice. … If the heart and feather balanced, the deceased lived in the afterlife…the ‘heart’ of Pharaoh was hardened or, …’was heavy.’ This might be a polemic against Egyptian theology by asserting that God is the One who ‘weighs the heart.’ “

Holyland Illustrated Bible, “The Afterlife: An Egyptian View” by Harold R. Mosley

The worst plague…

The firstborn of every man and animal in Egypt would die but in the Israelite land, not even a dog would snarl, see Exodus 11:7. Their animals slept through that horrible night.

Sometimes, before we can move forward, we have to turn back.

The Israelites left Egypt, and shortly after, Pharaoh mustered his army to bring them back to slavery. Then God gave them the oddest instruction: “Turn back and camp.”

Exodus 14:1, 2, “Then the Lord spoke to Moses: 2) ‘Tell the Israelites to turn back and camp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Midgol and the sea; you must camp in front of Baal-zephon, facing it by the sea.’ “

Christian Standard Bible

According to abarim-publications.com:

  • Pi-hahiroth means the “edge of the hollows” or “mouth of caverns.”
  • Baal-zephon means “Lord of the hidden things.”
  • Migdol means an encampment in the mountains.

“…an enigmatic place where Israel, with Pharaoh’s army hot on their trail, was told to ‘return’ to and ‘camp before’ … Doing so would place them ‘between’ Migdol and the sea and in front of Baal-zephon…”

Abarim-publications.com/meaning/pi-hahiroth.html

The Israelites were at the edge of the hollows, between the mountains and the sea, and in front of “Hidden Things!” The sea was a seemingly impossible obstacle. But our God, the “Lord of the Hidden Things,” was there ready to show them a new path, that only He could create. This path not only moved them forward but also destroyed their enemies.

Pharaoh thought they were wandering around the land in confusion and the wilderness had boxed them in, see Exodus 14:3. But Moses said: “Don’t be afraid. Stand firm and see the Lord’s salvation. The Lord will fight for you, and you must be quiet.” (Exodus 14:13, 14).

Don’t try to figure it out. Don’t talk about it. Don’t speculate. God is moving. He drove the sea back with a powerful east wind, see Exodus 14:21. The Israelites were going east. They had to walk into the wind with walls of water on their right and left. Those walls came back down on Pharaoh, his horses, chariots, and army, killing them all.

You may be between a rock and a hard place or boxed in by mountains, caves, a sea, and the unknown. Don’t be afraid. Stand firm. Be quiet and face the wind. I pray that your disaster turns out to not be a disaster at all…like my computer.

“Feelings are not a choice. Your behaviors and thoughts are a choice.”

Mel Robbins

2009-2021 frugalfish.org. All rights reserved.

Hindsight is 20/20

My husband ran into my trigonometry teacher at the football game last night. Mrs. W. asked why I had not been writing posts. (I felt like I forgot to turn in my homework, lol!) I didn’t plan on it. I wrote a 3-page post on Sunday, October 3rd but decided to wait until Monday to type it up.

Big mistake. Monday, I got hit with an infection that took 2 rounds of antibiotics to kill. I should have taken the time to publish it that day.

Remember me?

Sometimes, I feel forgotten when I am sick for more than a day or two. I have friends who have battled an illness for years: diabetes, heart problems, cancer, to name a few. I’m sure they feel like God has forgotten them.

God did not forget us. He not only cares for us, he cares for our pets, our food-producing animals, and the wild animals whose sightings bring joy to our hearts. He cares that your dog misses you and that you miss him. He knows you need the fresh eggs your chickens provide. He blesses us by keeping them healthy and fruitful. He knows how it warms our heart to see a doe with her fawn and the awe a multi-racked stag inspires.

Genesis 8:1, “God remembered Noah, as well as all the wildlife and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. God caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters began to subside.”

Christian Standard Bible

Another storm…

He knows about our storm. He keeps us safe in the middle of it. We don’t understand the turmoil, just as Noah didn’t understand the flood because it had never rained!

Then a different storm arises. The wind blows against our ark of safety battering it searching for any crack to seep through. Why would God allow another storm to hit us on top of the first?

We feel the wind and so does the water. The wind is there to remove the effects of the first storm. The second battle is conquering the first battle.

Battles are long. The wind blew on the ark for 150 days, see Genesis 8:3. That is almost half of a year! Noah felt the wind blowing him around but God was blowing him to a place of rest above the storm, see Genesis 8:4. The ark was still and out of the water.

Noah lived in the ark for three more months while the wind drove the water back and the sun evaporated it. He went into the ark on the 17th day of the second month in the 600th year, see Genesis 7:11. He came out of the ark on the 1st day of the first month in the 601st year, see Genesis 4:13. He slogged around in the mud until the 27th of the month when the earth dried, see Genesis 8:14.

I wish I had known…

Two years ago, I bought a diffuser. I used eucalyptus oil in it to treat my sinuses. A patch broke out under my left eye. A month later, I started my first of 13 rounds of Prednisone to halt the rash on my face. It kept coming back.

Then they found a lump at my routine mammogram that had to be removed. I was the best patient. I stayed in bed and didn’t overdo it because I had trouble seeing anything! I rejoiced when Covid-19 shut down everything. I didn’t have to face anyone. I sent pictures of my face to my doctor online and he treated me through them.

It was 18 months later before I could see my dermatologist. He pinpointed the diffuser as the source. But after years of the maximum dose of antihistamines and decongestants, I had another problem – dry eye. The tears that keep my eye lubricated dried up and the tears normally released during pain or sorrow ran constantly.

Like Noah, I had an unrelenting storm followed by a second storm, and a third (a case of Covid-19), and a fourth (a C-Diff infection). Each of these battles was over the last two years.

Looking back…

I can see how God brought good out of each. I kept trying to write but the constant wiping of my eyes was doing serious damage. After the lumpectomy, I laid in bed listening to the TV and left my eyes alone.

The Covid-19 battle showed me that I was stronger than I realized. After all of that Prednisone, I feared I had no immunity at all. Yet, I battled Covid-19 without hospitalization.

And the C-Diff? It reminded me of the importance of eating healthy. I slacked off and ate more sugar. I couldn’t stop the weight gain from the Prednisone, so why did it matter?

It did.

God remembers me. He cares enough to send fawns to nap in my backyard. I don’t have pets or livestock so he fills my yard with rabbits, squirrels, ground squirrels, and a wide variety of birds.

Napping deer
Fawns napping in my backyard.

He cares for you, too. He will bring something good out of all of your battles.

Had I known what would happen, I never would have bought that diffuser! God had Noah prepare for the year he spent in the ark. He had a hundred years to prepare, see Genesis 5:32. What would you have done differently in 2019 if you knew what was going to happen in 2020?

Yesterday, I read about Joseph being reunited with his brothers, see Genesis 43:34. This was the second year of the famine. Joseph knew the famine would last seven years.

What if we are in the second year of seven years of hardship? Would we do anything differently?

2009-2021 frugalfish.org. All rights reserved.

Housebound and Happy – Year 12

104 consecutive days.

That is my record for staying in the house. That is over a quarter of a year!

$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $

My first time working at home I was pregnant with our third child. It did not go well – 5 months of bed rest. Luke was in kindergarten and Laura went to preschool in the afternoon. I worked in bed.

After Derek was born, I continued working at home for 18 months. The summer was especially exciting with a 7-year-old, 4-year-old, and a 9-month-old!

I got up early and worked before they got up. I worked during nap time. David entertained the kids to let me finish up after dinner. We took it one day at a time.

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My first time being housebound was in 2004. Allergies went out of control and I could not take any more Prednisone. I moved the office home for a few months. It happened again in 2005. In 2006, my job description changed. I worked from home until the end of 2007.

At the end of that year, I stepped down. Three months later, the only antihistamine that worked was taken off of the market. I did not leave the house unless I was on Prednisone.

Three years later, my immunity dropped so low that if someone at David’s work caught a cold, I caught it! The doctor had me leave the house a little at a time to build it back up. But I am with only a few people.

On Sunday, I play with a worship band and I am out for four hours. The same group meets at my home for practice. On Wednesday, I play with another band and am in contact with those 6 people.

This is my new normal. I learned many things over the last 12 years – usually the hard way, lol.

$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $

Breathe

Take deep breaths. Do not give in to anxiety. You can do this. It is temporary for you. You may want to make working in your home permanent.

Water

You will have access to food all the time! Sometimes you think you are hungry and you are just dehydrated. Drink 2 glasses when you get up. Drink another after you exercise. Drink a glass every hour on the hour until you reach your goal. My goal is 11 glasses a day.

When you are properly hydrated, you will have extra energy. You will find yourself doing things in the evening instead of watching TV.

Tap Water

At some point in this pandemic, we may run out of bottled water. Be proactive. Pour a glass of tap water. Do you like it cold, room temperature, or over ice? How can you improve the taste? Filter it? Boil it? Infuse it with fruit or herbs? I filter my water and drink it at room temperature.

Exercise

I don’t enjoy exercise. I have to trick myself into doing it. Make it as easy as possible. I wear a sports bra under my pajamas. When I get up, I drink 2 glasses of water and start my stretching routine. I wake up slowly and am fully awake when it’s time to hit the weights or work on my core. You don’t have to wear “exercise clothes” to exercise. Pajamas work fine.

Get Dressed Including Shoes

Get dressed right away and wear comfortable shoes. Your feet need support. You will get cold if you try to work in your pajamas and a housecoat. Slippers do not support your feet. Dress in layers. You can take layers off as the day warms up.

Journal

Get a notebook and write down events during this time. It helps to process the bad stuff by writing it down. Then list 10 things for which you are thankful. Gratitude fights depression. And perform one “Random Act of Kindness.” Write these in your notebook.

Devotions

I don’t turn on my phone until after devotions. I read the good news first. Psalm is a good place to start. It is in the middle of the Bible and talks about God protecting us. You can read the chapters from the shortest to the longest using my “Baby Steps” Bible Reading Guide, or you can follow the 2020 Bible Reading Guide. I write a post about a verse in that guide each day.

Set Meal Times

Make a schedule. If you have little ones, they will need snacks. Adults need 3 square meals a day. Prepare your food and eat at the table. You will overeat if you are in front of the TV, computer, or on your phone. Eat until you are full and stop.

Measure Your Food

My weight kept creeping up even though I ate a salad for lunch. It wasn’t until I measured my food and recorded the calories that it started going down. Our food proportions are super-size! I promise you will get full if you eat the proper portion from each food group. We are seeing shortages and rationing in some foods. Don’t waste your favorites by eating 2 servings at a time.

Breakfast

Sit where you can look out a window. Watch the birds and squirrels. They are carefree. Notice the plants coming to life after a long winter. I am not in a position to eat outside but you can. Eat on the deck or porch. Watch the sun come up.

Make Special Days

At our house, Friday was Malto Meal Day. Tuesday was Oatmeal Day. Change the toppings from week to week to add variety. Pancakes take fewer eggs and milk than waffles or French Toast. But if you have dried bread to use up – make French Toast. Have a cereal day or cinnamon toast day. You can make muffins in several flavors.

Make a Food Inventory

It doesn’t have to be fancy. Just write down what is in the cupboards, freezer, and refrigerator by category. When you get more food, write the date you bought it down. Scratch the item off of the list when you use it. Make menus from the top of the list. Eat older foods first.

Make Menus

Plan for each meal but be flexible. You can eat last night’s leftovers for lunch. Or set a lunch menu. Mine is a Salad, 4 vegetables; Ham Sandwich, 2 Bread, and 1 Meat; Yogurt and Fruit, 1 Dairy and 1 Fruit. My husband likes a sandwich with cottage cheese or Veggies and dip.

Plan easy lunches: Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese; Chicken Noodle Soup and Peanut Butter and Jelly; Ham Sandwich and a Salad; Soup and a Salad; Egg Salad Sandwich and Coleslaw.

Dishes

Do dishes right after each meal. Our dishwasher broke and I am doing them by hand. There is nothing more depressing than a sink full of dirty dishes.

Natural Alarm

I wake up each morning naturally. I stop eating 12-16 hours before I want to wake up. My belly wakes me up!

Don’t Sleep In

Every time I slept in someone would drop by! It’s embarrassing to be caught in your pajamas. Instead, go to bed an hour earlier.

Make Your Bed

Every day. Then no matter how trashed the house becomes, you still have a nice place to return to. And if you accomplish nothing all day, you have proof that one job was finished. An unmade bed is a dusty bed. Dusty beds fill with dust mites and will ruin your sleep.

Limit Social Media and the News

Don’t check it when you first get up. Let your body wake up, feed your body, and your spirit. Then you will be ready to face whatever comes next. Shut off social media by 8 pm. You need a few hours to detox and relax before you sleep. Read a book. Listen to music. Take a bubble bath. Just wind down.

If you don’t, you may be plagued with insomnia. It’s the worst! Everything is out of proportion in the middle of the night. Do not make any decisions then. Drink a glass of warm milk and read a book. Do not turn on the TV, computer, or your phone. The blue light tells your brain to wake up.

Take a Nap

If you have insomnia, take a short nap 15-30 minutes before 3 pm. You will get a second wind to complete the day. Then go to bed earlier.

Sanitize

I sanitize my kitchen and bathrooms every morning. You can make homemade sanitizer or use what you have on hand. There are recipes online. Don’t forget doorknobs, remotes, and keyboards.

Plan and Dream

What projects would you like to tackle? What are your favorite activities? Make time for those activities each week. Have your children make an “I’m Bored” list. Only they can think of things that would not be boring for them!

Fix Something That Bugs You

I have new valances in the living room. They would not stay together. The street light showed through that space. One day I hand sewed them together. Now when I look at the valance, I love it!

Work on Your Skills

Practice the piano. Shoot baskets. Draw. Embroider. Quilt. Do Sudoku or crossword puzzles. Set up a puzzle on a table and leave it out.

Work and Then Stop

Be diligent starting work on time. Be diligent stopping on time. Do not work all the time. Set work hours and keep them. The work will wait until tomorrow. It’s tempting to keep working on a project in the evening but it is counterproductive.

Don’t Multitask

Do not throw a load of laundry in right before you start working. If you can’t wash, dry, and put the load away before work, wait until after. Keep the evening routine that you used before. It is stressful doing more than one thing at a time. Do one thing, do it well and move on.

Study

Learn something new. Or learn more about your chosen field. You want to keep your mind active. The best way is to learn new things.

Start a Lifetime Project

Choose something so big that it will take the rest of your life? Or start working on a huge project. I saved all the tee shirts from my children’s activities. Some of them are signed by their friends. I embroidered each signature. Then I pieced the fronts of the tees together and made a quilt. It took me 2 years to make a quilt for Luke. It took me 10 years to embroider the names on Laura’s tees!

Declutter

Start at the front door and work your way around the room. Do a drawer, shelf, or wall each day. What can I throw away? What can I give away? What can I put away? What can I sell that I no longer need?

Set a timer and work on it for fifteen minutes. Do just one small area. Don’t drag everything out. “Inch by inch life is a cinch. Yard by yard, life can be hard.”

Spring Clean

As you declutter, get rid of dust and cobwebs. Wipe off the shelf. Would this look better if I painted it? Does it need repair? Do I need it or should I pass it along? Once again, do just one small area.

Plan Your TV Viewing

We got rid of satellite TV. The antennas pull in 12 channels. I review what is on each of those channels before I turn on the TV. I chose how much time I will be sitting in front of it. I try to do something else at the same time: embroider, mend, and read emails or scan Facebook on commercials.

Last night we watched TV for 2 hours. That is how long it took to wash a load of towels. Then I shut it off and went to bed.

Go to Bed!

It’s tempting to stay up late but I always regret it. Set a bedtime and stick to it! You will be healthier for it. If you are tired during the day go to bed an hour earlier.

If You Are Sick

Throw this list out!

Stop the world and get off. Let your boss know you are calling in sick. Go to bed with a pitcher of water and fruit. Nap, read, rest, watch TV. That is the best cure for any virus.

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You need a schedule and you need to stick to it. You can find easy routines at flylady.net. She gives tips and encouragement to declutter your house. At the least, write down everything you do. Put it in the order that works best for you. I am a morning person. My routine may not work for you.

This time with your family is precious. Before I knew it, they were living in their own homes and starting families.

Being a grandparent is indescribable. Your baby brings you a baby to cuddle, love on, and spoil. You see your baby in some of their features.

And you know what? The house still needs decluttering and I need to spring clean. I have more things to get rid of and I have been working on it for years! Give your best to your job, cuddle your babies, and make the house take the last place.

Get outside at least once a day for a few minutes. (I cannot do that. I just keep several plants around to clean the air.)

Check on your great-grandparents and elderly neighbors. They lived through the Great Depression. They have seen a lot worse than this. They aren’t worried about the shortage of toilet paper.

©2010-2020 frugalfish.org. All Rights Reserved.

2017 Christmas Tour

Once again, I based my Christmas theme on a Christmas Carol. But I believe this will be the most difficult theme to guess! I will only respond to guesses posted in the comments below because I’m ornery. (Sorry, Facebook doesn’t count!)

At the front door, a cardinal is sitting in a nest on my wreath. An angel presides over the bird and there are musical ornaments on the sides. I made it by wrapping garland around my grapevine wreath and then wrapped red bead garland and lace around it. The poinsettias on the top are two napkin holders! Under the angel is a red ribbon with a bell tied to it that jingles merrily when the door opens.

Cardinal Christmas Wreath "2017 Christmas Tour" frugalfish.org

As you hang your coat on the hook in the entryway, you will see two lamps. One is a Tiffany lamp with a tea light and the other is a Victorian lamp.

Tiffany Lamp and Victorian Lamp "2017 Christmas Tour" frugalfish.org

You will notice Cardinals on this Victorian lamp. I have now given you three clues.

Victorian Lamp "2017 Christmas Tour" frugalfish.org

The Christmas Tree is the first thing you will see when you step into the living room. I am only showing you the top because I have several more ornaments to add. There are angels, instruments, wreaths with cardinals, beaded fruit, and homemade Victoria cones on it. (Someone didn’t get the Christmas boxes down until late Saturday night.)

We made the cones after Thanksgiving dinner, by unrolling some music scrolls. We rolled them into cones, taped them, and added lace and buttons with a hot glue gun, and filled them with multicolored lifesavers. We made the smaller ones from paper doilies. We painted the tips and around the top with gold paint. (Shout out to Melinda, Rachel, and Olivia for helping!)

We also painted the tips of large pine cones, but there was something on the cones that caused an allergic reaction. They are now in the garage. (Sorry, Rachel, I know you spent a long time painting them.)

Oh, yeah, Luke and Derek helped by pulling out my retractable clothesline and hanging the ornaments as we painted them. (They made sure to use the one in the walkway to give us gold highlights in our hair.)

Top of Christmas Tree "2017 Christmas Tour" frugalfish.org

It was this quilted throw that confirmed my theme for this year.

Cardinals on a Quilt "2017 Christmas Tour" frugalfish.org

I tried to include all the colors of the stockings in the swag on the window between the kitchen and the living room. I used the kissing ball a few years ago and just added lace to it. The beaded plums represent “sugar plums dancing in their heads.” (Shout out to Melinda who made the candy garland out of lifesavers my daughter left here months ago!)

I found the singing Cardinals at Goodwill. I used them in place of the glass block. There is a glass angel next to them.

Candy Garland and Stockings "2017 Christmas Tour" frugalfish.org

I wired a wreath to the bottom of the swag light and decorated it with cobalt blue beads and ornaments. I tied burgundy bows to the beads at the points of the window valance and to the top of the light.

Decorated Swag Light "2017 Christmas Tour" frugalfish.org

The centerpiece is a wreath on top of a plate. Inside is a gold angel and on the other side of the decorations are more cardinals.

Angel and Cardinals Centerpiece "2017 Christmas Tour" frugalfish.org

As you walk down the hall, you will see the “JOY” candlesticks that I painted. Three years, well worth it!

Christmas JOY Candlestickes "2017 Christmas Tour" frugalfish.org

In the bathroom are more cardinals and another angel. (Shout out to Laura who made the angel in Girl Scouts!) I picked up the white decorated towels on clearance last year and the red towels at a Black Friday sale. The decorated French horn is a brooch.

Cardinals on the Towels "2017 Christmas Tour" frugalfish.org

The dining room is lit with my Christmas village and a lighted garland. I wrapped red beads around the garland and used it to hide the cords from the lights. The lights brighten the cake stand and punch bowl on the buffet. There are several baskets and other decorations mixed in on the bookshelf.

Christmas Village on the Bookshelf "2017 Christmas Tour" frugalfish.org

I put three angels in the center of the table facing out. That way an angel is facing every direction. There are cardinals sitting around their feet.

Angles and Cardinals Centerpiece "2017 Christmas Tour" frugalfish.org

In case you missed them, the three clues are:

  1. Angels
  2. Cardinals
  3. Victorian

My frugalfish tip for this week is to pick a theme for next year now. You can pick up Christmas decor on clearance after Christmas and you can shop at consignment shops and garage sales for the items you want all year.

If you have the cash in your pocket, it is okay to splurge every once in a while. I found the quilted throw and Victorian Lamp on my trip to Virginia with my mom and sisters. My younger sister had to talk me into buying them, even though I had enough cash on me. My husband loves them. He’s a St. Louis Cardinals fan. (I’m not and that is not my theme!)

I am so convinced that no one will guess the theme this year, that I am going to wait 2 weeks to reveal it! Next week, I will show you a priceless Christmas gift to make for grandparents, aunts, and uncles.

©2009-2017 frugalfish.org

2017 Thanksgiving Table

My inspiration for my 2017 Thanksgiving table was the runner that I used on my kitchen table. I love the black and red with sunflowers on the edges.

Thanksgiving Centerpiece "2017 Thanksgiving Home Tour" frugalfish.org

I used a black tablecloth with a red runner to mimic the table runner’s background. My gold charger plates stood in for the sunflower petals.

Gold Charges as Sunflowers "2017 Thanksgiving Table" frugalfish.org

I set the table and folded black napkins into rosettes for the centers of my sunflowers. The centerpiece is simply artificial vegetables my sister, Michele, gave me. Oh, the Indian corn in the center is real – it was given to me by my children’s preschool teacher! (Shout out to Roger and Deb!) I can’t believe it lasted this long!

Napkins Folded into Rosettes Make Sunflower Centers "2017 Thanksgiving Table" frugalfish.org

My frugal tip for this week may not save you money, but it will save you time!

I learned this tip, (for those with a separate dining room), from flylady.net. She sets her table a few days before Thanksgiving and covers it with clean sheets or tablecloths. I used my white tablecloths as dust covers. I set my table 11 days before Thanksgiving. That is one less thing on my to-do list!Cover Set Table with Tablecloths or Sheets "2017 Thanksgiving Table" frugalfish.org

Next week, I will share something everyone needs on Black Friday!

©2009-2017 frugalfish.org

 

An Evening in Clear Lake, Iowa

My plan was to swim in Clear Lake and have a picnic on the beach. I imagined a game of Laser Tag or going through the Clear Lake Fire Museum, which is in walking distance to the 9/11 Steel Memorial crafted from an artifact salvaged from the World Trade Center after September 11, 2001. I thought we would cruise the lake on the Lady of the Lake, a picturesque paddlewheel.

David planned on sleeping in!

He may or may not have dreaded our last stop in Clear Lake, Iowa. He compromised by taking me shopping in Mason City and eating lunch at Pasta Bella. You can tell I am all about the bread!

Pasta Bella "An Evening in Clear Lake, Iowa" frugalfish.org

I learned a painful lesson at Pasta Bella. When the waitress asks you if you want a few minutes, take her up on it! They had 2 specials and David ordered one of them but I am a salad girl. I ordered the salad that had artichoke hearts and other ingredients I don’t normally have at home.

The waitress asked if I wanted to add meat to my salad: chicken, salmon, or shrimp. I cook with chicken all the time and I do not care for salmon. I ordered the shrimp. It cost $8.00 extra. Yikes! I regretted spending that much money on 6 grilled, jumbo shrimp! It was very good. (After lunch we went back to the hotel and relaxed.)

$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $

Our first destination in Clear Lake was “The Landing.” It was on the lake next to the pier where the boats dock. You could eat outside or in the shade.

The Landing "An Evening in Clear Lake, Iowa" frugalfish.orgClear Lake Pier "An Evening in Clear Lake, Iowa" frugalfish.org

David ordered the “Fish and Chips” and I ordered the “Hawaiian Chicken with Parsnip and Carrot Fries.” I love trying new foods when I eat out. (Now I know, I am not a fan of parsnips.) The food was excellent and they have live music on Friday nights.

Fish and Chips "An Evening in Clear Lake, Iowa" frugalfish.org

While we waited for our food I took a picture of my jewelry. I was wearing a ring that was a copy of Princess Diana’s wedding ring. I remember that royal wedding. I was jealous of all the pretty things but she died so young and so tragically 20 years ago. I am glad I did not have her life.

Memory Jewelry "An Evening in Clear Lake, Iowa" frugalfish.org

The bracelet was a gift from David’s cousin. His wife died from cancer and he shared all of her jewelry. I may not have a lot of money, but I have my health and that is everything!

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After dinner, we went to the beach and took pictures. We enjoyed watching the antics of the kids who were there.

Clear Lake Beach "An Evening in Clear Lake, Iowa" frugalfish.org

Then we headed to the highlight of our trip –

The Surf Ballroom!

This is where Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and “The Big Bopper” sang their last concert. There was a marquee that had autographed guitars all along the top of it. I took several pictures and sent them to the guitar players in our worship band – just to make them jealous.

Memorial at the Surf Ballroom "An Evening in Clear Lake, Iowa" frugalfish.org

Surf Ballroom "An Evening in Clear Lake, Iowa" frugalfish.org

The pictures don’t do justice to all the posters, memorabilia, instruments, and autographed photographs of all the musicians who played there over the years. You just have to go see it for yourself! Don’t miss the outside display where you can hear Buddy, Richie, and The Big Bopper each singing their top hit. (Note: these were all before my time.)

Ready for Ballroom Dancing "An Evening in Clear Lake, Iowa" frugalfish.org

The Jan Graber Orchestra was there that night for ballroom dancing. David and I don’t dance. We shuffled through our first son’s wedding and I wanted to do better at our second son’s wedding next year. I figured in 4 hours we would figure out how to get around the dance floor without going in opposite directions!

David was not enthusiastic. We sat through the “Rumba,” the “Samba,” and the “Two-step.” (I posted updates on Facebook for my friend Paula who does know how to dance.)

When they played the song, “New York, New York,” they called for everybody to dance. We got halfway around the room when David said, “Oh, I twisted my knee!” We sat back down. He rested it for a little while and I did get to dance four more times. I think we only made it around the room once!Ballroom Dancing "An Evening in Clear Lake, Iowa" frugalfish.org

There were couples the age of our parents and three couples in their twenties. They knew what they were doing and it was fun to watch them. We found our own rhythm and enjoyed ourselves in spite of our lack of lessons.

The couples in the booth next to us were from Ottumwa, Iowa which is about 30 miles from our home. We talked with them most of the evening. One lady was the first bookkeeper for the Area 15 AEA. We told her our daughter-in-law worked for AEA when they first married and I was a bookkeeper at a local preschool and daycare for 18 years.

At 8:30 p.m. some of the older couples started going home. That was all the excuse David needed. It was starting to feel like Saturday night at Mom’s watching Lawrence Welk. (Who also played at the Surf Ballroom.) We snuck out because I had a cannoli calling my name. We bought desserts at Pasta Bella and saved them for after the dance.

Cannoli and Italian Cake from Pasta Bella "An Evening in Clear Lake, Iowa" frugalfish.org

$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $

Monday, on the way home, we filled up the van and used our reward money from our BP Credit Card, 20 gallons for $2.18. That made up for the shrimp!

Thanks BP Rewards Card "An Evening in Clear Lake, Iowa" frugalfish.org

Of course, if you make your husband go ballroom dancing, you will have to make one more stop before going home – “Guitar Center.”

David in Guitar Center "An Evening in Clear Lake, Iowa" frugalfish.org

My Frugalfish tips are:

  1. Be flexible with your plans; you might miss a few attractions.
  2. Take your time ordering. That last-minute addition could really cost you.
  3. Schedule in times of rest. It is a vacation, not a marathon.
  4. Enjoy what you do have and don’t compare yourself to others.
  5. Cherish your good health.
  6. Dance to your own steps and enjoy the music.
  7. Take time to get to know the people around you.
  8. Always get dessert!
  9. Save your rewards for your vacation.
  10. Be sure to stop at places your spouse would enjoy.

I was lucky, my husband made the weekend all about me! He’s a keeper.

Next week, on the first day of fall, I will give you a “Frugalfish Fall Home Tour.”

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Coping with Allergies

Ragweed pollen reached Iowa last week. When I got the pollen alert from the weather.com allergy tracker, I went right to the library and stuffed a grocery bag full of books. I won’t go back for two months. In fact, I will limit the times I leave the house until we have a killing frost.

The local Ragweed plants do not have to bloom for me to have problems. The pollen can blow in from Missouri and leave me in misery.

After I double the dose of my antihistamine, I made changes in three areas:

My bed. 

I spend one-third of my day in bed. I cannot afford to have any dust or pollen in the bed. On the days I venture out, I shower and wash my hair before going to bed. I sanitize all the bedding in hot water once a week and I use allergy covers. I also air the sheets for an hour each day, see “Allergies? Wait to Make Your Bed.”

Remove any gunk.

An effective way to remove the pollen is with a sinus rinse or Neti pot. I use “Johnson’s Baby Soothing Vapor Bath,” “Vicks Vapor Rub,” and a “Vicks Vapor Inhaler” to keep the air moving in my nose and sinuses. I gargle hot, salted water, take a tablespoon of locally grown honey, and use “Halls Menthol Cough Drops” to soothe my irritated throat. When it affects my lungs, I rely on prescription inhalers and a nebulizer. I found a neat trick a few years ago to remove the buildup in my eyes and eyelashes, see “This is Not a Shot Glass.”

Clean Everything.

Each day I spend a few minutes cleaning one room with a damp washcloth. I don’t want to move dust to the floor, I want to remove it. It’s amazing how much dust is lurking in corners and behind things. When I have an allergy flare, I have to play detective and go down the list of triggers until I find the culprit, see “Christmas Eyes.”

So…how does coping with my allergies save me money? If I let a flare go, I develop sinusitis, then bronchitis, and eventually pneumonia. I want to stop it in its tracks before it stops me in mine!

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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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Another Perfect Gift

David and I had a misunderstanding. He wasn’t ready to talk about it but I was! What do you do when frustrated? You call the only one who understands – his sister.

She dropped everything and went shopping with me. We went to the Farmer’s Market for fruit and I came home with a Huckleberry pie . . . and a cinnamon roll. Even after loading up on Amish baked goods, we went through the Women’s Club’s Cookie Walk.

She went with me to 3 consignment stores! She is the first one I call. When I ended up in the ER before emergency surgery, she was the one who took me there. She understands when I am irritated at David because she lived with him, too!

The Women’s Club had a plant sale along with their cookie walk. Melinda mentioned she was looking for a Snake Plant. Her birthday was Monday and I gave her the perfect gift – a snake plant.

I have a huge one and I dug one of the plants out of it. (I broke two of my “houseplant tools” in the process.) I had an extra pot, potting soil, and aquarium gravel on hand. I use aquarium gravel on top of the soil of my houseplants because it keeps mold from developing.

I like to fill a need when I give a gift. Sometimes, the perfect gift is already in your home.

Snake plant "Another Perfect Gift" 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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