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!

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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.

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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.

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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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Tricking My Sweet Tooth

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

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

“Both!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Resolved: More Weight, Food, Spending; Less Organizing, Travel, Reading

You read that title correctly. My resolution this year is to eat more food, gain weight, and spend more. I also plan on less organizing, travel, and reading.

More Weight

I can thank Jenny Kuhn for this resolution. Here is a picture of Jenny and me, with her daughter Kathryn, around 2005.

Jenny, Katie, & I "Resolved . . ." frugalfish.org

She moved to Arkansas and opened Jenny’s Gym. Last October, she competed in the World Powerlifting Alliance competition in Portland, OR. She is now the WPA-APA World Powerlifting record holder in the squat and the deadlift for the 45-49 age group in the 132# weight class. She also broke the previously held accumulative world record (squat+bench+deadlift), see here.

Jenny lifting in her gym "Resolved . . " frugalfish.org

 

Jenny regularly posts clips of her clients lifting. Most of the clips are of middle-aged women who are strength training. Sometimes she posts informational clips. When she explained the proper way to do a push-up, it changed my life.Jenny Kuhn "Resolved . . ." frugalfish.org

I usually tried doing push-ups from my knees, but that does not use all the muscles correctly. You need the same form as you would use to plank. Now I do them off of the kitchen counter and will move to the ottoman when my arms are stronger. If I do not keep control of my arms, I bump my forehead! I know I am using the correct form now.

Since muscle is heavier than fat, I plan on gaining weight this year. I want to gain muscle, not fat, and will concentrate on that instead of my bathroom scale!

Eat More

For the past few years, I would weigh myself on Monday and plan my meals based on that number. It didn’t work! I would gain a pound and then try to cut way back on my food. Of course, that pound stubbornly stayed.

This year I am going to work my body and feed it what it needs. I will eat bigger servings of salad, vegetables, and more meat. I never have been a big bread eater, but my sweet tooth is my downfall. That is where I will cut back.

More Spending

I am a saver and try to buy everything on sale. That is not always possible. This year, I want to buy things when I need them and not do without. I have lived under the poverty level during childhood and as a mother. I have no problem telling the difference between a need, a want, and a desire.

In my wallet now are 2 months worth of allowance! I also have a note of a few things I need to order. (Hello, sports bra!) I have watched the sales for over a year and have the money. I just need to get online and order it!

Less Organizing

Marla Cilley, aka The FlyLady, says over and over, “You can’t organize clutter.” But I can, and that is the problem! I organize things that I should send to Goodwill or pass on to family members.

There is a box with “Graduation” written on it in my pantry. My youngest graduated in 2015. I am hanging on to it for my sister-in-law, Melinda. I need to just give it to her, even though Brayden doesn’t graduate for another year.

Less Travel

I will no longer feel guilty for staying at home. There are many opportunities to go places and do things, but if I have to take a round of Prednisone to go, it is just not worth it! (Or worse, go without Prednisone and then fight a flare for two weeks.) I don’t care that I only go out 3 times a week for four hours. I have so much I love to do right here at home.

I know my Facebook page is boring, but I refuse to compare myself to others. I will travel vicariously with my friends. (Sorry, Jill, I have no desire to go clear up to the Arctic Circle. Enjoy your trip!)

I really enjoy the posts from Australia on the travel blog, outan’about.com. It was interesting reading about celebrating Christmas during their summer!

Less Reading

I can speed read. It is a blessing and a curse. I would normally go to the library and fill a large bag with 18 books every other month. (No, that is not a typo; it is eighteen books.) We have a great library that is always getting new books and the community buys books in memory of loved ones.

Obviously, I don’t watch TV at night, in fact, I will only watch a movie once. My family will put in a movie, and if I have already seen it, I go to bed and pick up a book. I can read a 300-page book in 2 or 3 days. The problem is, I get close to the renewal date and I speed read through my stash. That is not as enjoyable as slowly reading, savoring, and even taking quotes from books.

This year, I will only check out 8 books at a time and will make sure one of those books is nonfiction. I am on chapter 2 of the book, “Smarter Faster Better” by Charles Duhigg. There are many things I would like to do, but I get bogged down in laundry and cooking. I want to make those tasks more efficient to allow time for fun stuff!

Smarter Faster Better book "Resolved . . ." frugalfish.org

“If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.” Dave Ramsey

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De-Stress Christmas

My family has tried to guess my Christmas theme for a few weeks now. Only one has been able to guess it! It is so tricky, that none of my friends have figured it out!

Who has time for riddles?

I know. It is such a busy time of year, who has time for riddles? We want to enjoy the holiday season and there never is enough time. Here is a secret to releasing some of the stress you are feeling.

Put it away!

I had my daughter’s quilt squares spread out on the dining room table for weeks. It is like a jigsaw puzzle that we have been unable to complete. I folded them up and put them in the closetQuilt Squares "De-Stress Christmas" frugalfish.org

I planned to finish painting these figurines last Christmas. I left them out thinking I would work on them when I had a free evening. The problem is, I am doing Christmas related activities during the evenings! I put them in a box and slid it under a deskUnfinished Figurines "De-Stress Christmas" frugalfish.org

This book was due back at the library and I spent a couple of hours trying to finish it before its due date. I didn’t get it done. Instead, I wrote the name of the book, the author, and the last page I had read on a note. I put the note in a drawer by my bed and returned the book. I will check it out in January when I have plenty of cold evenings to spend reading and drinking hot chocolate. Open Book "De-stress Christmas" frugalfish.org

This is a pillow cover I planned to finish by this Christmas. I spent years working on this. First I embroidered the picture and made a pillow out of it. The pillow was too small. I took it apart and put a larger pillow in it. Then the lace laid flat. I wanted more lace! I ripped the lace and ribbon off and added more. The lace is ready to baste down and then I will sew the back of the pillow to it. But it will go in the closet with my other mending projects that will wait until after Christmas. Unfinished Christmas Pillow "De-Stress Christmas" frugalfish.org

The last box is full of donations for Goodwill. I plan on dropping it off. I have presents hidden in closets and drawers. I could use the space this box is taking up for my wrapping paper box that is full of gift bags, gift boxes, tissue paper, and bows! Goodwill Donations "De-Stress Christmas" frugalfish.org

Take some of the stress out of Christmas. Hide those projects!!!! Then if you find you have a few minutes, sit and admire your Christmas tree. Or try to guess my Christmas theme! Good Luck!

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Frugalfish Gets a Fitbit?

Anyone who has read many of my posts knows I am NOT a fan of exercise, see here. (That title alone will make my friends think I fell off of the deep end.) Sweating makes me break out and I avoid it, but I do want to be healthy and used a pedometer for years to track my steps.

On the other hand, my husband is a jock. He loves to exercise and plays every sport. A month before his birthday, I found an offer from flylady.net that I could not refuse. It was “Buy One Get One Free” for a “J-Style Health” activity tracker for $60.00. That was a little more than I normally spend on a birthday gift and I made up the difference out of my spending money because I would be getting one, too.

$$$$$$$$

I ordered the tracker to use a pedometer but was fascinated by the other features. Of course, this generic version does not work as well as the Fitbit brand that sells for $100.00.

Heart Rate Monitor

I never was able to get the heart rate monitor to work. Every time I tried to sync that feature to my phone I got the same message, “Good Morning” which is equivalent to…

“WAKE UP!”

I guess my heart rate is what other people’s heart rate is when they are asleep. I decided I didn’t really need that feature. Both my husband and I have had our hearts tested with EKG’s and he had a stress test. Our hearts are healthy and we do not have a murmur or irregular heartbeat.

The funny thing is my tracker would give me the same message when we were practicing for church and the guitar player went off on a tangent playing blues or country. My tracker must not care for that type of music.

Alarm to Wake Up

The alarm feature works really well. It wakes me up every time but I set it on 5:00 a.m. and it refuses to reset! When the clocks turn back on November 5th, my tracker will probably go off at 4:00 a.m. I stopped using it as an alarm.

Sleep Monitor

I no longer use it to monitor my sleep patterns during the hot weather because the wristband made my wrist sweat and I broke out. This time of year, when the Ragweed pollen is in the air, I have to take Benadryl at night along with my regular antihistamines. There is no way I can wake up at 5 after taking Benadryl.

I keep track of my sleep in my DayTimer anyway. Sometimes the only clue that I am fighting an infection is I suddenly start sleeping for 11 or 12 hours a night. The symptoms of a bacterial sinus infection are the same as a bad allergy reaction.  (I rarely run a fever.)

Calories Burned

This brand of tracker records the KCALs but I do not pay too much attention to it.

Pedometer

It seems to record the movements of my arms as steps. I would be playing the keyboard during the Wednesday evening service and in the middle of it, the tracker would buzz announcing I reached my goal of 10,000 steps. Amazing since I had sat down for the last hour!

I decided to keep the tracker in my pocket. Then it only records the movements of my legs and that is more accurate. Also, I didn’t want to wear it because of my sensitive skin.

Activity Alarm

I decided not to activate the activity alarm which goes off every hour to remind you to get some exercise. I don’t want to have to shut off the buzzing every hour. I use a timer to keep me on task. It is set for 15 minutes. I use it for some activities that I lose track of time doing: cleaning, reading, etc. or for things I can’t wait to finish – like exercise. The timer lets me know I have sat for too long.

$$$$$$$$

I talked to a few friends who have the original Fitbit brand of a tracker. They both were given the trackers by their employers as part of their health program. I would take it if it were offered to me by an employer. I did save a lot of money buying this generic activity tracker. I will keep it because it is serving its purpose as a pedometer.JStyle Fitness Tracker, "Frugalfish Gets a Fitbit?" frugalfish.org

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Allergies? Wait to Make Your Bed

I make my bed every day. It is a habit I started as a young girl. It is not that I enjoy the task, in fact, at one point, I made a rule, “Last man out makes the bed.” My husband was not amused because he was the only man in the bed!

I have also tried making half of the bed. I would make my half when I got up. I am an early riser. (Yesterday I woke up at 4:21 am and I don’t even know why!) I thought I was efficient making my half then. David started telling people I made the bed with him still in it!

Then I read an article from weather.com, “13 Weird Things Making Your Allergies Worse.” Number 2 on the list was “Making Your Bed in the Morning.”

“Indoor allergens like dust mites thrive in the cozy confines of bedding and mattresses. That means that the bed is their sanctuary and at night — as your skin sheds and your body sweats — moisture keeps them alive and well. By making your bed in the morning, you’re tucking them into their dream home. Literally.”     weather.com

After reading this article, I started folding the sheet and bedspread back to let it air out. I have noticed my eyes are not as red and itchy. I’m sure it is because the dust mites have no moist place to live.Unmade bed

How does that save me money? I have not had to use as much medication and I have avoided a bad reaction that necessitated a visit to the doctor.

If you happened to stop by my home before noon, my bed will be unmade and I will be in my exercise clothes. But, that is a story for another post!

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DIY “As Comfortable As Sweats” Bra

“JUST CUT THEM OFF!”

I was in the Emergency Room with chest pains. It was like a steel band around my ribs that was too tight. I couldn’t stand for anything to touch my ribs.

Anything!

I later learned, one symptom of an inflamed gallbladder is you cannot find a comfortable bra. You can try different band sizes and still, nothing works!

My gallbladder was inflamed for years. This year had been especially hard. Finally, 6 months ago, I decided to make my own bra.

I got the idea from my youngest son! He wears sweatpants/trainers/joggers a lot. They are comfortable because you can tighten or loosen the drawstring at the waistband.

He also hates the strings in his hooded sweatshirts. The first thing he does when he buys a new sweatshirt is to rip out the string. He laughed at me because I always saved them.

I bought a pack of 3 sports bras, and using the strings from his hoodies, I made a bra that is as comfortable as a pair of sweatpants.

DIY “As Comfortable As Sweats” Bra

  1. Cut a small vertical slit in the front center of the first layer of the bra. (If the bra is lined, you will need to cut through the lining.
  2. Stitch around the opening(s) like you are making a button-hole.
  3. Find a cord or shoestring that is 12″ longer than your band size.
  4. Put a safety-pin at the end of it.
  5. Push the safety-pin through the hole, and around the band over the top of the elastic.
  6. On shorter strings, I tied the ends together.
  7. After putting the bra on, tighten the strings, make 2 loops, and tie together.

It was so comfortable that I wanted to apply for a patent on it! (I came up with an even better idea, that would take different materials…maybe I’ll patent that one!)

DIY "AS Comfortable As Sweats" Bra

DIY “AS Comfortable As Sweats” Bra

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

 

Saving on Surgery

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

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

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

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

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

(Spoiler alert – I didn’t.)

I learned a few things along the way:

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

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

If that is not an option…

DO WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERS!

Your goal is to go home as soon as possible.

Some of my Get Well cards included original art!

Some of my Get Well cards included original art!

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

Crybaby in Bay #2

I didn’t burst into tears, but I did have the start of a panic attack. I don’t even know why? I had a tooth pulled before.

And then Emily began to sing and I calmed down. 

I’ve known Emily since she started preschool and I loved hearing her sing over the years. She joined her father’s practice and was singing along with the music in the dentist’s office. It calmed me down and I remembered the last time I lost a tooth…

…it was the year my dad died and my new daughter-in-law thought I was going to die, too. I felt like it!

I ended up in the ER with severe pain in my ear and neck. It was diagnosed as a sinus infection because the drainage had made my throat raw. It took four antibiotics, two pain killers, and a month in bed to get me through that infection.

I went to my dentist for a routine cleaning 6 weeks later and he said the tooth was cracked and dead. It had started to work itself out on its own.

This tooth did not!

I started feeling discomfort last week, but we were getting ready for our son’s graduation and I ignored it. Graduation was Sunday and I could not ignore it any longer! I couldn’t sleep and I could no longer tell which tooth it was. They all hurt, lower and upper!

My granddaughter rescued me.

The dentist was out of town and I could not be seen until mid-afternoon. I was going crazy when I remembered we bought Orajel for our granddaughter when she was teething. Yeah, it was old…but I didn’t care. It sufficiently put my mouth to sleep.

She rescued me again today, when the Ibuprofen was not enough. I woke up on that side in the middle of the night and there was a little swelling. My instructions were to alternate Ibuprofen and Tylenol if I was still experiencing discomfort.

We didn’t have any Tylenol in the house, but we did have baby Tylenol. I took a half a bottle…one after the other…because that was the adult dose. It helped enough that I finally got dressed at 10:00 am.

What does this have to do with saving money?

EVERYTHING!

If we had not budgeted our money there would not have been anything in the “dentist” category. We didn’t spend the money we set back there on anything else and when I needed it, I was able to just go and get help.

There was gas in the van to drive to the dentist. We don’t live paycheck to paycheck and drive the last day on fumes. The tank is always half full and we fill the top of the tank.

There was soup in the cupboard. I shop the sales and the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer are well stocked. I didn’t have to go to the store for soft foods. I was able to go home and turn on Netflix.

I didn’t move for a day!

The dentist and I discussed trying to save the tooth. The root was curved and it would require a specialist to perform a root canal, $1,000.00; and add a crown, $500.00. The tooth had two filled cavities in it and he was not sure if those measures would even work.

All I could think about was another painful night while I waited for the specialist to get me in. I told him to yank it out.

Being frugal is not being cheap. It is telling your money where to go, and when you need it, the money is there.

Sorry, no pictures.