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"

©2009-2017 All rights reserved.

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Gift from the Heart

I have purchased and wrapped many wedding gifts but I only remember one. The bride was into recycling and loved retro items. She wore a 1930’s dress and used vintage handkerchiefs at her place settings. There was even vintage linen used for valances on the small windows in the hall.

I watched this bride grow up and I wanted to give her a special gift. Unfortunately, she married right after I had to step down from my job. I worked for a nonprofit which meant no unemployment. We were down to one income and there were no funds for extras.

I looked through the bridal registry and realized she liked the same pattern as I received at my wedding. I registered at the finest gift shop in town and never dreamed I would receive the mixing bowls, canisters, and cookie jar I had selected. My aunt and my favorite cousins pooled their resources and purchased them for me. (That is how to buy a wedding gift that is out of your budget.)

Years later, I saw a matching domed cheese plate at a garage sale. I knew the lady holding the sale and found out we married the same year. It was the only thing she received with that pattern. It thrilled me to get it at a fraction of its original cost.

I displayed my cookie jar and canisters but the mixing bowls had to stay in the cupboard. You have seen my small kitchen. There was no place to display the domed cheese plate. I ended up putting it in a box and only used it once.

I decided to give the cheese plate as a wedding gift. I pulled out a guest towel that was similar to the pattern and used it as wrapping paper. I had a cloth ribbon with an attached bow that I wrapped around it. The bride loved my recycled gift. I gave her a little piece of my heart.

$ $ $ $ $ $ $

Saturday I attended a bridal shower for Kat. Kat was in the worship band with me for a few years. I wanted to get something special for Kat. We have another thing in common – pie.

I make pies with the flakiest crust. They practically melt in your mouth. Kat’s pies are a work of art. They are so beautiful that people do not want to cut them!

I planned on ordering pie plates, a pastry blender, pie crust protectors, and a rolling-pin. That would be boring. Instead, I went to Wal-Mart and picked up 2 pie plates. I got out the etching kit my sister, Cheryl, gave me for Christmas and planned on etching her new last name – “Smith” – on them.

The only problem is – there are a million Smiths! I decided to etch “Kat” on them instead. There is only 1 Kat!

Unfortunately, the liquid you put on the glass before you etch it was almost gone. I used every last drop. I painted it on in the garage and we had a cold spell. I put 2 coats of etching liquid on them.

They still looked clear! I brought them in the house and let them warm up. I put on 2 more layers. Then I noticed on the bottle, “Do not put on too thick.” Great!

The day before the shower, I cut out the letters I stuck to the pie plates. Some of my “etching” came up. I pressed it back down and hoped for the best. I warned Kat that the “etching” might come off the first time she washed them and she just laughed. After all, it’s the thought that counts.

Etched Pie Plate "Gift from the Heart"

Sunday is Mother’s Day. I planned on taking her out to eat. I know that is not necessary and there is probably something she would like better. I guess I will have to put my thinking cap on. I want to give her a piece of my heart.

©2009-2017 All rights reserved.

 Twitter – @frugalfishorg

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Never Too Late to Honor Your Mother

“I still haven’t celebrated with my Mom.”

We had grand plans to take her to a restaurant that she has wanted to try on Saturday, but there was a death and the funeral took precedence. My younger sister was on the ball and she made arrangements to spend “the day” with her.

We do not have to celebrate on just one day. Take birthdays for instance. I had the food bought and a special dinner planned for my oldest son…but on the day we had set, I had just come home after having emergency surgery! We still have not found a date that will work for the entire family.

We do not have to have a sit-down dinner with all of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Those dinners are nice, but by the time grandchildren come along it is a scheduling nightmare! Don’t forget, each son-in-law and daughter-in-law have a mother, too.

Floral arrangement on tablecloth.

Your mom would love it if you met her for coffee, or just had a cup of tea at her kitchen table. It’s not the cards, flowers, and gifts that she craves; it’s time with you.

Candle on glass plate over table runner.

The good news? All of those items marketed for Mother’s Day are now marked down!

Even if you are far away, a phone call will brighten her day.

©2009-2016 All rights reserved.

A Gift from the Heart

We returned my husband’s Christmas present last weekend. I told him I was not going to buy him another present because he just returns them! The Christmas before I bought him a Blu-Ray player and he returned it. (He got laid off a week after Christmas and decided we would need the money more than the gift.)

Now I am trying to decide what to do about Valentine’s Day. Then I thought of the perfect gift. I am going to do something that he enjoys and I abhor!

I will sit through some ball game.

It’s not that I haven’t been to ball games before, but I didn’t have much choice. I went to two St. Louis Cardinals games because the tickets were part of the perks for attending a lumberman’s convention.

I sat through a million volleyball, baseball, basketball, and football games because my kids were playing. I usually took something to do because it was only interesting when I was watching my child.

I was smart enough not to offer this gift until after the Super Bowl. That sucker takes all afternoon and evening. I also wanted to give him this gift before baseball season starts. Those games go on for hours and hours and hours and hours!

The point is…

Choose something your Valentine loves, that you don’t. (I think they call that sacrificial giving.)

P.S. “Hey, Babe, this is your card!”A red ribbon around a planter; a Kansas City Chiefs throw; and a quilt folded to expose the red blocks all serve as Valentine decorations.

©2009-2016 All Rights Reserved.


It Was Special to Me

I was in 1st grade when Mom had a home jewelry party. It surprised me that she bought this gold arrow pin encrusted with diamonds. I thought we were really rich.

The next day, I asked her about it. She told me it was not gold or diamonds. I still loved seeing her wear it.

Mom raised us to put more value on people than things. I taught my children the same. One day Mom and I were talking about things we valued. I said I would love the gold arrow pin with the “diamonds” in it!

She laughed because she knew its true value. Then she taped it to my birthday card and made my day! The “gold” has worn off in places. But when I look at it, I see mom in her suit ready for church.

I saw a video of Kirk Cameron giving a homemade pot pie to his grandmother. She gave him an old hammer wrapped in red tissue paper. He teared up because it was his grandfather’s hammer, who passed away 2 years ago.

Christmas is Friday and you may think it is too late. But is there something that will be priceless to one of your relatives or friends?

The pin my mother bought at a home jewelry party when I was a child.

The pin my mother bought at a home jewelry party when I was a child.


©2009-2015 All Rights Reserved.


The Favorite Gift I Gave Last Year

I loved the quizzical look on his face as he opened it.

“But, Mom,” he exclaimed, “I already have this DVD. Remember Scott made one from the videos that year.”

I smugly replied, “Scott didn’t make a video of the second year!”

Our oldest son sang in the National FFA (Future Farmers of America) Chorus. He auditioned and sang 2 years in a row. The first year he sang a solo! Sadly, that song was not put on the DVD they sold.

The second year, he was in college when the convention rolled around. I have to admit, I was nervous! My boy drove from college in Springfield, MO to the convention in Louisville, KY. (He was smart. He timed it to drive through St. Louis early Sunday morning.)

He had not cut his hair while he was in college. Those long, curly locks looked like Charles Ingalls, on “Little House in the Prairie!”

His wife told me she had never seen him with long hair. His 3-year-old daughter had a hard time finding him in the chorus. We made it a game, “Where’s daddy?” I sat by the TV and pointed him out every time he was on camera.

That was ten years ago and she said he looked different!

Mom was here on a day my granddaughter was visiting and we watched it again. We had to play the game because she still kept missing him.

I was lucky to have a friend with equipment to convert the videos to DVD. He made copies for my mom and my husband’s dad along with our copy. For those of you who do not have such a talented friend, try Legacybox. I read about them from a post at The Inspired Room.


I had the idea a few weeks before Christmas 2 years ago. I had to wait a year until my friend had time to convert it. You might have to wait until next year to give this gift, too.

©2009-2015 All Rights Reserved.


Give a Taste of Your Childhood

I got the idea at our family reunion when my aunt and uncle brought boxes of apples from the tree on my grandparent’s farm. I had read about making mini pies as gifts and even printed off the labels from the website recommended by

I should have read the directions!

Dough for my mini pies.

The jars I bought were pint-sized and I needed 1/2 pint-sized jars. I had the worst time pressing that dough into the side of the jars. I had to roll out the first one three times before I got it right.

Pie filling made out of apples from the tree on my grandparent's farm.

Pie filling made of apples from the tree on my grandparent’s farm.

Since I used the wrong size of jars, I didn't have enough pie dough to make a top crust. I made crumb topping for the pies.

Since I used the wrong size of jars, I didn’t have enough pie dough to make a top crust. I made the crumb topping for the pies.

I put labels with the baking directions on top of the jars.

I put labels with the baking directions on top of the jars.

I used my grandmother’s pie dough recipe, see here, and apples from her tree. I gave my friends a taste of my childhood.

©2009-2015 All rights reserved.

Something Special

I will never forget it… 6″2,” eyes of blue, blonde headed, drummer, jock husband had a tear in his eye. It shocked me as I rocked our 3rd baby and the 7-year-old and 5-year-old crowded around him to see what was in the box.

He looked straight at me and I could see I touched his soul with this gift. Did I spend a ton of money?

No…but I did go to the jewelers.

His grandfather had given him a pocket watch with a chain. He put it in his vest pocket when he wore his suit, but it had stopped working. I took it to the jewelers and paid a small fee to have it repaired. I wrapped it up and gave it to him as a gift.

When he first opened it, he seemed confused…until he heard it ticking. It was like I gave him a piece of his grandfather back.

Sometimes the best gift is to make something old new again, to repair or refurbish something precious with a lot of memories tied to it.

There’s still time to bring a tear to your loved one’s eye.

I repaired it as a gift.

I repaired it as a gift.

2009-2015 All Rights Reserved.

Self-Serve Closet

My friend posted on Facebook that she was going to do a closet purge last weekend. She was inspired by a post from, see

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

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

But I am not posting a picture of that closet.


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

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

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

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

How do I know I will be successful?

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

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

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

The closet in the guest room.

The closet in the guest room.

Pass It On

We attended a “western” themed banquet Saturday night. Since I did not have “western” clothes in my closet and I headed to Goodwill.

I found a wool fringed jacket and some “Lawman” brand jeans…but neither one would zip shut! I considered getting them anyway because they were so cheap, but remembered we would be having a nice meal, and I left them there. (Never buy clothes because they are cheap.)

Then I did what I should have done in the first place…called my sister. Of course, she had a leather fringed jacket and a cowboy hat that she was happy to loan me.

She also sent me a box of various spices. She buys her spices at “The Dutchman’s Store,” which is run by Amish. They grow and package their own spices and produce. My sister filled her spice jars and sent the excess to me.

I decided to do the same thing. I filled my containers and threw the rest back in the box to give to my sister-in-law.

Hoarding is not frugal. Keep what you need and pass the rest on.