Two Words to Get Anything

Today I am going to share with you two words that will get you anything you want!

The desire of my heart since we bought our house was to have a garage door opener. David didn’t see it as a necessity.

“Why do we need a garage door opener? We have three: Luke, Laura, and Derek!”

We own a modest home and the garage door was original to the house – without an automatic garage door opener. I am quite content in our home, but it does require maintenance. I posted this picture of our home when I wrote a post about getting free trees.

At the beginning of the summer, David decided to tackle the first word.


He works every other Saturday. On his Saturday off, he repaired and painted one side of the shed. He replaced some rotten boards and put on new hardware. Then he moved on to the house, painting just one side at a time.

It took 8 Saturdays.

He took down the shutters in the front of the house and found several hornet’s nests. We looked everywhere for those nests. I am glad we will not fight hornets next year! (My son’s fiancée recycled those shutters, but that is a post for another time.)

When the house was finally done, David stood back admiring his work. The fresh, white paint made the garage door look even worse! I reminded him that Derek is getting married next year and we will lose our last “garage door opener.”

We had just returned from our trip to Mason City, Iowa and saw some pretty awesome houses there. He decided I had used the second “W” word long enough.


He brought home a booklet of garage doors. We chose the “Ranch” style door because we live in a “Ranch” style home. We chose the “Prairie Style” windows after seeing the Frank Lloyd Wright architecture in Mason City.

The other homes on our street have the four-panel garage door. Ours is unique and stands out. It sure added to our curb appeal.

How long did I wait?

We moved in 32 years ago. Thirty-two years of getting out in the rain, snow, ice, and heat to open that old garage door. It had 2 holes in it. Last spring, I taped matching paper to the back of the holes to disguise them. That old door was 46 years old!

Sometimes it would get stuck under the frame of the garage door and one of the guys would have to pound on it to pop it back behind the wood. It trapped me until they did.

The biggest mistake we make is wanting everything our parents have now. We forget that our parents worked for 30 years to make the home they now enjoy. We have to use the same 2 “W” words that they used.

“Work” and “Wait”

This was our big project for the year. We didn’t borrow to buy the paint, paint supplies, garage door, garage door opener, or the installation costs. We are still debt-free.

$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $

I told you I was going to take my birthday off! I did and totally enjoyed myself. That is why there was not a post last week. I also took the month off – I didn’t decorate for Halloween. I will give you a tour of my Thanksgiving home next week.

©2009-2017 All rights reserved.

 Twitter – @frugalfishorg

Facebook – Frugal Fish

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Last Taste of Summer

“Summer-in-October Record Warmth,”, 10-20-16

It sure felt like summer at the beginning of this week. I was grateful we have central air and do not rely on window air conditioners! The thing I will miss the most from summer is the fresh strawberries!

My sister, Michele, has a thriving strawberry patch. (I did not get that gene. I planted and killed 2 strawberry patches and the plants that were supposed to grow in a “strawberry pot!”) Michele made jam with just strawberries and sugar. I could eat it with a spoon.

This week I got to the bottom of the last jar. Sigh.Empty jar of jam "Last Taste of Summer"

I wanted to stretch that jam as far as possible. There were still some pieces on the side. I was making sweet tea and decided to fill the jar with the hot concentrated tea.Tea in jam jar "Last Taste of Summer"

My last taste of summer was strawberry tea!Strawberry tea "Last Taste of Summer"

You can see other ways I flavored my tea here.

Another way I am squeezing the last of summer out is by using a fan in my front window to blow the warm air into the back of the house, see here and here. For other ways to delay running the furnace, see here.

What is your favorite summer treat?

©2009-2016 All rights reserved.

 Twitter – @frugalfishorg

Facebook – Frugal Fish

I Don’t Get Dressed Until Noon

I’m sure you think every writer spends the day in their pajamas. Some do; but not me. I put on exercise clothes when I get up. It is an added incentive to exercise.

workout clothes

During these “dog days” of summer, it has another benefit. I do the hot jobs in the morning: cleaning, laundry, cooking, exercise, etc. By the time I finish those tasks, I am dripping with sweat. I jump in the shower and dress before David gets home for lunch.

(Okay, I did have an off day, and I was hurrying to get dressed before he got off of work, but it was because I was doing two days worth of tasks. I had a project that would take most of the next day. Of course, I got caught. I always get caught!)

I started doing this when our air conditioner was dying. I would rather be writing than exercising during the heat of the day. Our new air conditioner has no trouble keeping up, but when the heat index is 105° I don’t want to feel the need to turn it down. It is already working hard enough.

My strategy has paid off. We are saving money with lower utility bills. Our utility company offers time-of-day pricing. They charge more for use during the heat of the day, and a reduced rate after 9:00 pm and before 8:00 am. I tried it, but it did not work for us. Our children were all at home and I was staying up late, and then getting up early to keep up with the laundry. Doing the hot jobs first is a better strategy for us.

I realize this tip will not work for most people, but you could try it on the weekend. After doing the hot jobs, the rest of the day feels like a vacation!

©2009-2016 All rights reserved.

 Twitter – @frugalfishorg

Facebook – Frugal Fish


“Snuggie’s” Summer Use

I shared on April 29, 2013, how I used the “Snuggie” we received as a gift. It really helped keep me warm on cold, rainy days.

I found I could use it to keep me comfortable during the hot days of summer. I use a leather office chair, and when it is hot and sticky out, that chair becomes hot and sticky. I got out that “Snuggie” and tied it to my office chair. My arms and legs no longer stick!Snuggie covered office chairOffice chair

When I am comfortable in the office chair, I am not tempted to turn the air conditioner down.

©2009-2016 All rights reserved.

 Twitter – @frugalfishorg

Facebook – Frugal Fish

Choosing My New Washer

My husband worked almost 30 years at the same lumber yard. It was family owned and opened in 1926. They closed its doors for the final time last year.

That was when I decided to buy only from local merchants.

I shared in a post earlier that my washer was not repairable. Saturday, I put a load in, and it would not fill with water. I shut it off, and the lights didn’t come back on, except for…

“Door is locked.”

I turned it back on, no luck.

I unplugged it, no luck.

I tugged on the door, no luck.

Finally, I plugged it back in and pushed the “start” button anyway. It went through a cycle draining imaginary water and then unlocked. After rescuing our clothes, we headed to our Hometown Sears.

Hometown stores are small hardware and appliance stores operated by independent retailers.

I watched the wife of the owner grow up. Now, I see their kids growing up on Facebook. I want to support this family business. That is why we bought our microwave there, (not at Wal-Mart), and our snow blower, and David’s new “doo-hickey” – a leaf blower with a vacuüm attachment.

I re-read the article at about choosing a washer. I looked at washers at and printed out a few prospects.

My children are grown now and our needs have changed. Our current washer is a large capacity, front loading machine. After the gasket needed replacing for the third time, I decided I wanted a top loading machine.

Following Mary Hunt’s advice, I set our budget, $400.00, and made a list of my top three requirements:

  1. Top loading machine
  2. Load size indicator
  3. G.E. or Whirlpool brand

We looked at the washers on the floor and only one met our qualifications. It was not the cheapest washer available.

I showed the saleslady the washers from and asked if the store would get credit if I purchased one of them. When she said no, I threw the list away.

We got a discount of 5% for using our Sears charge card and used the rewards money from earlier purchases. We talked about having it delivered, $45.00, and having them dispose of our old one, $10.00, but decided against it. Total cost – $427.00.

We paid for the washer and drove to a local waste management company. They said they would dispose of it for free if we brought it to their location.

David got on the phone and called a friend…who called his son-in-law…and came over. The three of them brought the new washer downstairs and lugged the old one out. (Our Hometown Sears loaned us a 2-wheel cart.) It pays to have a truck and friends with strong backs!

When I washed the first load, I set it on “Speed Wash.” I want it to last a long time. Next to it is my dryer that has lived through 4 washers, because I dry every load on “Permanent Press” and “Delicate.” It still gets really hot!

I encourage you to buy locally!

Washing Machine Panel

©2009-2016 All rights reserved.


Fill in the Cracks

One thing you can never accuse me of is being a fake. I am transparent and have been known to share too much information.

I look at other blogs and all of their houses look perfect. Mine doesn’t and I take pictures of it anyway. I try to skip the worst parts…like the basketball court, my youngest drew on his bedroom carpet with 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 All rights reserved.

Free Solar Heat

Each year, we try to see how long we can go before turning on the furnace. Our record was Thanksgiving! There was frost on the pumpkins last weekend in Iowa, but we still have not turned on the furnace.

I wrote a post about the things we do to keep the house warm during the cooler fall days, see here. I have been using free solar heat this year.

Our south picture window lets in a lot of heat. I put a fan in front of it on low and face it toward the hall to blow the warm air to the back of the house when the sun is coming in that window.

I switched our ceiling fan to the winter setting, see here, and it pushes the warm air down from the ceiling. When the sun moves away from the window, I shut the fan off.

Moving warm air from window with fans.

Moving warm air from a window with fans.

©2009-2016 All rights reserved.

 Twitter – @frugalfishorg

Facebook – Frugal Fish

Free Trees



I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
I shared my love of the woods in “If You’re Ever in New England in the Fall.” I was disappointed that our land did not have trees on it when we bought our home. There was a “Rose of Sharon” bush, but it died.
We have acquired 25 trees over the 30 years that we have lived in this house. Sadly, only four have survived. I even purchased 10 trees from the Arbor Day Foundation.
They suffered the worst fate of all. My husband didn’t notice where I had planted them, and when we purchased a shed, he moved it on top of my newly planted trees!
Trees from school
The first trees we acquired were given to our children in elementary school. Each of our three children brought a tree home, but only one survived. It has small leaves and is on the west side of our home. It’s Derek’s tree because he is the one who brought it home.
Transplanted trees
The tree in front of our home is “Luke’s tree.” He didn’t bring it home, it was one of 10 trees that my husband dug up out of Janie’s back yard. She lived on a wooded cul-de-sac and wanted to have more than trees in the backyard. She told him to dig out as many as he could because she was cutting the rest down.
He brought them home in the back of our Chevy Chevette!
10 free trees in the back of a Chevy Chevette.

10 free trees in the back of a Chevy Chevette.

We planted them all around the house and faithfully watered them, but it was a drought year. The trees had been living under mature trees, and when they were stuck in the clay around our house under full sun, the leaves got sunburned and then fell off.
We hoped they would come back to life the next spring, but they were gone. Our yard looked like a graveyard for trees.
Only one tree retained its leaves and it was planted by Luke’s bedroom window. It was on the west side of the house and was sheltered from the sun for half of the day. A few years later, we moved it to the south side of the house. It now graces our front yard.
Volunteer Trees
The tree in our back yard is “Bob’s Tree.” Bob would never mow over a volunteer tree. He dug them out, planted them in metal coffee cans, and then gave them away.
We planted it on the edge of our dream deck. (Yeah, we are still dreaming about it!) At the time, I didn’t know about “One Call.” It is a phone number in Iowa that will contact everyone who may have a line buried underground: telephone, water, sewer, cable, etc.
I managed to plant “Bob’s Tree” on top of our sewer line! I was amazed at how quickly it took off and flourished! (We also had to have a service start coming to clean out our pipes from tree roots!)
Bob died of cancer a few years later, and I was grateful to have a living reminder of that amazing man.
Memorial Trees
This tree we purchased when my mother-in-law passed away using part of the inheritance. It was the same year that a blight attacked all of the evergreens in town. My neighbor to the east had a beautiful tree he decorated every Christmas. The blight got it, along with three others on his property, and he had to remove them all.
It was huge and provided shade in the mornings. After it was gone, my picture window was in the sun starting at 7:30 a.m. I had to keep the drapes closed to keep the house from boiling!
We chose a Japanese Iris to remember her by. It has off-white blooms in the spring. It is not showy and rather petite…a lot like Phyllis. It will grow taller than our house and will shade that picture window eventually.
Your free trees
You have free trees at your disposal. They are growing in your flowerbeds, rock gardens, yard, and even gutters. A tree grows amazingly fast. Don’t wait to find money to purchase a large tree.
Plant a free tree.
My four trees. The fifth one on the right in the back belongs to a neighbor.

My four trees. The fifth one on the right in the back belongs to a neighbor.

You need a 2-Speed Fan and a 2-Speed Motor When You Add AC

It was 1988. My son and I had just been diagnosed with asthma. I already suffered from allergies and it was strongly recommended that we get central air to keep the pollen out.

We had a small income tax return, so I went to my favorite plumber, the plumber we used at work, and a plumber who attended school with my husband. The third plumber’s bid was half price of the other two.

Now our memory gets fuzzy. I say we chose the last one because my husband wanted to help out a classmate. He says we chose the last one because I was so cheap.

Frugal is being smart. Cheap is taking the cheapest bid.

It was a mistake. A week after the central air was installed the motor burned up. The classmate installed a different motor and that was the last we heard from him.

Then the nightmare began. It just wouldn’t cool. Our favorite plumber tried every test and every trick, but the house was always 10 degrees warmer than the air outside.

We had our electric company do an energy audit twice during those years and still could not figure out why it didn’t work.

Finally, in desperation, we called in a friend who handled industrial heating and cooling in businesses in the area. He listened to everything we had tried over the years and ripped the thing apart.

What he found was a one speed motor that was wired to a two-speed fan. When you have central air you must have a high-speed on your fan to push the cool air up. In the winter, heat rises, so you can move air with the low-speed.

He put on a two-speed motor and IT WORKED!!!

We had three days of temperatures over 100 degrees and my house stayed consistently at 77 degrees where I set it.

Then we were sick when we realized for over two decades we had been cooling the bottom two feet of the house and since the cool air never reached the thermostat, the air ran constantly for weeks at a time.

I called my favorite plumber and reported what we found.  I am not going to see him as much now. At least not to work on the air conditioner! I also wrote a letter to the electric company with the findings in case the auditor ran into a similar situation.

It was a painful lesson to learn. It is better to wait until you can do it right than to take a bargain.

We added central air to this furnace.

We added central air to this furnace.

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.)