Free Cotton Balls

“Watch the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.” Benjamin Franklin

Yes, it’s allergy season. I am now taking Allegra 180 twice a day…plus Singulair…plus an occasional Benadryl. My husband also takes Allegra 180 and that is 90 pills a month. We buy a double pack of the generic brand with 60 tablets twice a month.

The bottle comes with cotton on top of it to keep the pills from breaking during transit.Pill bottle and cotton

I take that cotton and cut it into 4 cotton balls. Pill bottle and cotton swabs

We don’t have to take this much year round and it averages out to 60 cotton balls. It may seem like it is not worth it, but Benjamin Franklin penned a universal law, “If you pay attention to the little things, the big things will take care of themselves.” When you are in the habit of using every last bit, you will not waste any, and you will be able to postpone buying more.

©2009-2016 frugalfish.org. All rights reserved.

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Stretching Syrup

Monday was David’s birthday and he asked for homemade waffles for breakfast. I reminded him that we still had some blueberry syrup left, but when we got out the jar, it was almost empty.

I was not going without blueberry syrup on my waffle!

I added a tablespoon of corn syrup to the bottle. Corn syrup and blueberry syrup

I shook the bottle well,  to get the bits of blueberry off the sides, and turned it upside down. Upside down jar of blueberry syrup

By the time I finished making the rest of the waffles, the syrup and blueberry bits were down at the bottom of the bottle. There was plenty!Waffle on a plate

I used a spatula to scrape the batter off of the measuring cup and bowl. I used my finger to scrape the extra batter off of the spatula and found there was enough for one more waffle. Waffle

Always use every last drop!

©2009-2016 frugalfish.org. All rights reserved.

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Waffle Garlic Bread

One of the best parts of our weekend away was breakfast at the motel. They used real plates, cups, glasses, silverware, and offered: egg rounds, bacon rounds, biscuits, gravy, and “make your own waffles.” They had chocolate chip batter and I was in heaven. I covered that waffle with strawberries, blueberries, sliced almonds, cinnamon, and whipped cream!

David said he saw a lady take a piece of buttered bread and put it in the waffle iron instead of making a waffle. It was a Belgian Waffle maker and they were thick! That gave me an idea!

While we were gone, our youngest was on his own for meals. You guessed it…he made hot dogs. (Yuck.) And every time you have hot dogs, you end up with two extra buns. (Why do they do that?)

I made angel hair pasta with homemade spaghetti sauce for dinner Friday. I took those two hot dog buns, cut them in half, and buttered them. I sprinkled them with garlic, oregano, and a dash of rosemary and stuck them in my waffle iron until the light went off.

Waffle Garlic Bread!

It worked! I don’t like to use the oven in the summer and the waffle iron is smaller than my electric grill. I made the spaghetti sauce in a Crock Pot and let it simmer all day. A salad, watermelon sticks, and chocolate pudding completed the meal. I put mini marshmallows and trail mix on top of the pudding for fun!

I wonder what else I can make with that waffle maker?Hot Dog Buns on a dish

©2009-2016 frugalfish.org. All rights reserved.

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Shopping for a Chest of Drawers with a $65.00 Budget and $7.00 Cash

My husband works for a small lumber company. How small is it? There are only two salesmen…and one is a farmer…and you work every other Saturday morning. That means you can only take vacations in the winter.

Unless your Saturday off is a Holiday weekend!

David got lucky and had Saturday, July 2nd off. We decided to spend the long weekend in Des Moines. I looked at everything there was to do, but decided I wanted to spend the time shopping for a chest of drawers for our youngest.

His buffet/dresser served three generations. The repaired drawers were more suited for cloth napkins and tablecloths than for clothes.

We just replaced the washer and I knew our budget for appliances was not large. It discouraged me to find there was only $65.00 in that account. On top of that, I had purchased 4 pairs of shoes on clearance prices and didn’t even have much spending money left.

We took off on Saturday and I had $7.00 in my wallet. David had the money for food in his wallet. The motel and gas money came out of our vacation budget. I actually thought about staying home, but we love eating at new places, so off we went.

We pulled up the used furniture stores in the Des Moines area on David’s phone and used the GPS to try to find them. Several were in the poorer sections and we didn’t even bother to stop. We did go through D.A.V. Thrift Store, run by disabled veterans because we wanted to support them. We didn’t find what we were looking for there.

Our last stop was “Do Overz.” I loved the look of this store when I went to their website and I was not disappointed when I went inside! The owner sells furniture on consignment and she is very choosy about what she takes.

We found two!

The first chest we found was dark wood and had a bit of scratching on the top and the front. But it had two things going for it: 1) It had the same manufacturer of the chest of drawers we purchased a few months ago, and 2) It was $68.00!

The second chest was in better shape, but it was light wood and cost $124.00. I thought it was a better deal, but it will be in the “locker room.” (The guys keep their clothes in our large laundry room/bathroom and we dubbed it the “locker room.”) When we first moved in, the basement flooded and we had to throw away carpets, couches, and chairs. If that happened again, I would be crushed to have this nice chest be damaged.

We bought the dark chest. It fit our budget and it matches.

Don’t be discouraged when you don’t have a large budget to work with. You might be surprised at what you can find in consignment shops, thrift stores, auctions, and garage sales. Chest of drawers

©2009-2016 frugalfish.org. All rights reserved.

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Easy Enchilada Sauce

I shared earlier about how I use up the small condiment packages that we get when we order out, see here and here. My family loves taco pizza and tacos. I ended up with a bunch of “hot sauce” packets.

I planned on making Enchiladas for dinner and I always make my sauce. I don’t know if I was being lazy or I just had a brainstorm. I decided to use up those packets. I poured an 8 ounce can of tomato sauce into a bowl and kept adding the packets until it was hot enough for me. Of course, my family dumped even more hot sauce on top!

Easy Enchilada Sauce

8 ounce can of tomato sauce

8-10 hot sauce packets

(You can add more or use less of the hot sauce.)

Making sauce this way makes it kid-friendly.Add hot sauce to tomato sauce.

©2009-2016 frugalfish.org. All rights reserved.

pamela.frugalfish@gmail.com

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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.  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sears_Hometown_and_Outlet_Stores

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 debtproofliving.com about choosing a washer. I looked at washers at Searsoutlet.com 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 searsoutlet.com 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 frugalfish.org. All rights reserved.

 

Stainless Steel or Silver

I own two grapefruit spoons.

The same manufacturer made them using the same molds. The only difference is the material used. One is stainless steel and the other is silver or silver-plated.

Spoon Manufacturer

One is easy to care for – you just throw it in the dishwasher. The other requires a special cleaner, and even if you don’t use it, you have to routinely clean it. You have to store it in a special place or it will tarnish.

Yes, it tarnished.

2 Grapefruit Spoons

I never use the expensive silver spoon. I also don’t take care of it as it needs. I always grab the stainless steel one.

The funny thing about expensive things is they require more work. A lot more work.

It’s the same with any riches. You have to take care of it in a particular way or you have to hire others to “polish your silver.”

When we desire lovely things, we don’t always count the cost of taking care of them. We don’t own them; they own us!

No matter how wealthy you are, the practical items will get used more often.

Form follows function.

Practical before pretty.

Practical is always frugal.

©2009-2016 frugalfish.org. All rights reserved.

Simple Easter

“Come on, get hoppy! Pinners have saved your ideas on 98,178 Easter boards like this.” Pinterest Partner Team

It shocked me when I saw the most popular Easter pin, see post here!

My Easter centerpiece, whose inspiration was the striations in the glass rocks.

My Easter centerpiece, whose inspiration was the striations in the glass rocks.

It is simple and sometimes that is the best way to go! Like the simple table I had on Easter, 2012, see here.

Easter dinner for the extended family.

Easter dinner for the extended family.

It also doesn’t have to be new. Many times I created an Easter outfit out of clothes I had in my closet, see here.

I’m not saying to never buy new, but to buy them when they are on clearance. Yesterday they delivered my Christmas dress. It was a dress sold for Valentine’s Day that had been drastically reduced.

Some years, I am extravagant, like the years I invited my extended family, or the years I made Easter cakes, see here.

My 2012 Easter Cake

My 2012 Easter Cake

My 2011 Easter Cakes

My 2011 Easter Cakes

This year will definitely be simple! My husband suggested “Pork loin in the Crock-pot.”

“Sounds great to me…especially if he makes it!”

©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.

DIY Last Minute Valentine’s Day Ideas

Losing heart over what to do for Valentine’s Day?

Do you need…

  • Diamonds? No!
  • Reservations at the most expensive place in town? No!
  • A flight to Paris? No!
  • A dozen red roses? No!
  • 25 lb. box of chocolates? No!
  • A night in a ritzy hotel? No!

The most treasured gifts are gifts from the heart:

  1. Recreate your first date.
  2. Write a love letter.
  3. Make a list of all the things you love about them.

If you would rather cook, here a few ideas from us:

“Make Your Valentine Homemade Chocolates”
“A Loaf of Bread, A Jug of Wine, and Thou”                                               “Everyday Cocoa Brownies”

You don’t even have to spend money on decorations!

“No-Sew Valentine’s Day Table Runner”

Everyone understands a message from the heart.

My Valentine's Day table runner.

My Valentine’s Day table runner.

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