Logo Contest!

Last week I was reading a post from “blogging101” and realized I have never made a logo for my blog. I am not artistic and I decided to have a contest and let the artists in the blogging community help me out.

I want a fish, facing left, with the word “frugal” inside. Or the word “frugal” in the shape of a fish.

Any takers?

Oh…the prize?

I will give you credit under the logo.

I doubt I will have many responses because we want money, not credit!

Yet, that is exactly what many stores do. When you return an item, they give you credit to be used only at their store. They are keeping our money and we let them get away with it!

Sometimes, they just say you cannot return an item…even when that is not the store policy!

My point is…we need to check the return policy at any store before we make a purchase.

After all, it’s our money!


Twitter – @frugalfishorg

Facebook – Frugal Fish


Deadline for First Goal

Today is the first deadline for the goals I set on February 3rd, see “Facing My Giants” http://wp.me/pKNzn-Fc.

2015 Goals for frugalfish.com

1. Gain 20% more followers by March 31st.

2. Increase daily hits 30% by end of 2015.

3. Gain 6 new twitter followers by May 30th. (@frugalfishorg)

I realize the day is young, but I think I may have overshot that first goal. My goal was for 829 followers, but I haven’t reached it yet.

I am doing better on the other goals. I am halfway there on both of them!

Our finances work a lot like my goals. We may be disappointed in one area, such as an increase in salary, but pleased in another, i.e. debt reduction. The important thing is to keep going.

For over a decade we added $15.00 to the principal on our mortgage and we were able to pay it off before our 50th birthdays. Every little bit counts.

A blank piece of paper to write my 2015 goals on.

A blank piece of paper to write my 2015 goals on.


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.

Christmas Eyes

I woke up with “Christmas Eyes.”

What are those, you ask?

That is when my normally hazel eyes, look green and bright, bloodshot red.

I avoid Christmas Eyes because they bring all sorts of nasty gifts: watering and mucus, that leads to infection, that leads to sinusitis, that leads to bronchitis, that eventually leads to pneumonia!

Yeah. I like to stop it before any gunk appears.

The first step is to determine what has set them off: Ragweed, tree pollen, grass pollen, animal dander, dust, or a sad movie. Yes, excessive crying can cause my eyes to react, too.

It’s January; which means I can rule out the sad movies. The Christmas movies are over and Hallmark has rolled out their Valentine series.

It’s also Iowa; which means the low is 7 below and I doubt there are any grass, trees, or weeds that have survived.

Animal dander. When was the last time I was around a dog? Um, August? That would really be a delayed reaction!

Dust. The Christmas decorations on a shelf in the garage. I do admit the house does not get dusted as thoroughly during December because of all the decorations…I just don’t get into the corners as well. But the shelves are bare.

The Valentine decorations made it as far as the dining room table and are not yet charming vignettes.

That leaves one last thing – the furnace filter.

We have an “asthma/allergy” filter that removes everything from the air. Unfortunately, we have to vacuum it and clean it with a power washer at the car wash once a month.

We try to clean it on the first of the month, but the weather does not cooperate in the winter. We couldn’t remember when it had last been cleaned.

I needed a visible reminder to tell me the last time we cleaned it. I pondered that as I poured myself a glass of water.

Yuk. When was the last time I changed Pur filter?

I looked at the sticker on the side and saw it needed replacing, too. I pulled out another filter from the three pack and rinsed it. The sticker that comes with each filter fell on the floor.

I usually just throw it away because I am able to move the indicator sticker around on the circle calendar on the pitcher.

Then it hit me. That is just what I need to indicate the date we cleaned the furnace filter!

I went downstairs and slapped that puppy on my furnace.

When did I wash the furnace filter?

When did I wash the furnace filter?

The second step is Benadryl and Patanol eye drops. I’m done with Christmas Eyes!

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 Twitter – @frugalfishorg

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You Don’t Need to Buy Baking Chocolate

My last few posts have been about my favorite cake, “Chocolate Chip Torte.” I mentioned frosting it and thought I would share the recipe I use for homemade chocolate frosting.

The catch…

…I never buy baking chocolate!

I substitute 1 teaspoon of butter with 3 tablespoons of cocoa for each square of chocolate. I got my recipe for Chocolate Butter Frosting from an old Betty Crocker Cookbook. In it they substituted 1/3 a cup of cocoa for 2 ounces unsweetened melted chocolate.

Paula prefers milk chocolate to dark chocolate, and since the cake was for her birthday, I used 3 Tablespoons of cocoa. If it is frosting for my birthday, I would use much more!

Betty Crocker’s Chocolate Butter Frosting

1/3 cup margarine or butter, softened

2 ounces unsweetened melted chocolate (cool) or 1/3 cup cocoa

2 cups powdered sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

About 2 tablespoons milk

Mix margarine and chocolate (or cocoa). Stir in powdered sugar. Beat in vanilla and milk until frosting is of spreading consistency.

This substitution works in any recipe calling for baking chocolate.

Frosted Chocolate Chip Torte.

Frosted Chocolate Chip Torte.

Which Cake Won?

Jeanicresol wanted to know which cake was better: the Chocolate Chip Torte covered in nuts and chocolate chips, or the one covered in frosting, see “Saving Cash and Gas,” http://wp.me/pKNzn-E5. We had to move our celebration to Friday and I was unable to reply to her until today.

And the winner is…


It was a tie. I made the cake for Paula’s birthday and she is not a fan of Chocolate Chips. (I didn’t know that before.) She loved the cake with frosting.

Others liked the original recipe because of  the chocolate chips. (I’ll stick to the original!)

I was sure the frosted cake would win because I made fresh butter that day, and used some of it to make the frosting, see “No Wasted Cream,” http://wp.me/pKNzn-BB.

The fun thing with substitution, and experimenting, is you may come up with a recipe you like better.

Frosted Chocolate Chip Torte.

Frosted Chocolate Chip Torte.

Saving Cash and Gas

Since my husband was laid off last Friday, I have been making all of my decisions based on saving cash and gas.

I was planning on making my favorite cake for my friend’s birthday and found I did not have any chocolate chips left. It requires chopped dates and I had a half a package that I really needed to use up.

My husband offered to drive to the store and pick up chocolate chips, but I didn’t want to use the cash or the gas. I decided to frost the cake instead of following the recipe. I have plenty of powdered sugar left over from my Christmas baking.

Who knows, I may like the frosted version better. Before running to the store it’s wise to ask…is there something I can use in substitute?

Chocolate Chip Torte

1 Cup Finely Chopped Dates

1 Cup Boiling Water

1 Teaspoon Baking Soda

1 Cup Butter

1 Cup Sugar

2 Eggs

1 3/4 Cups Flour

2 Tablespoons Cocoa

1/2 Teaspoon Salt

1 Teaspoon Vanilla

1/2 Cup Chopped Walnuts

1 – 6 Ounce Package Chocolate Chips

Grease a 9″ X 13″ pan. Combine dates, boiling water and soda. Let cool. Cream butter and sugar; add eggs. Sift together flour, cocoa, and salt. When date mixture is cool, add the butter mixture. Stir in flour mixture; add vanilla. Spread batter into pan. Sprinkle nuts and chocolate chips on top. Bake at 350º for 30-35 minutes.

My favorite cake, Chocolate Chip Torte.

My favorite cake, Chocolate Chip Torte.

What Needs Eaten?

My grape tomatoes were wrinkled and dried up. I love salads and make a fresh one for lunch each day, but those tomatoes were looking like raisins.

Then I remembered…many chefs use “sun-dried tomatoes.” Maybe I could use these, ahem, “dried tomatoes” in a recipe. I decided to make “Cheap, Child-friendly Chili,” http://wp.me/pKNzn-jM.

When the wrinkled grape tomatoes were added to the chili, they plumped right back up! They added a bit more flavor to it.

I was inspired. I would take the chili we made on Saturday night and mix it with cooked macaroni making “Chili Mac.” I knew I could freeze half of it for later and get two more dinners out of that one pound of ground beef.

But…alas…I fell asleep on Sunday afternoon. By the time I woke up most of the chili was gone. In fact, it looked more like tomato soup! But I am going to try harder to use up the oldest ingredients first.

Chili made with formerly wrinkled grape tomatoes.

Chili made with formerly wrinkled grape tomatoes.


My Husband Lost His Job

When I signed up for “Blogging 101,” I knew it would be difficult. I had no idea how heartrending the first assignment would be. We are to write who we are and why we are blogging.

I went back to my “About” page, http://wp.me/PKNzn-2, in this blog and made adjustments. I was able to add two more goals met: paying off the house and paying cash to replace our van. But I had to add, that after working for 30 years at a Lumberyard, my husband was laid off last Friday. The Lumberyard is for sale and his former boss is hoping the new owner will rehire him, but there are no guarantees.

Why am I blogging? My friends asked me to write down the little things I do to make things last longer, organizing my home, decorating my home and doing it without spending money. I worked as a bookkeeper for a church for almost 25 years and I learned how to stretch a dollar just to survive!

That is still my goal – to survive during this time that we both are unemployed and our youngest finishes up college. Odd, the only one in this house that is gainfully employed is our son!

I would like to connect with others who are surviving without running up a large credit card bill; those who live beneath their means. Unfortunately, today I am not even sure what our “means” will be.

I do know it is a new year and we have a totally blank page with which to work.

The filler paper I made for my Day-Timer using my kids loose leaf paper.

The filler paper I made for my Day-Timer using my kids loose leaf paper.