May 31, 2011

TIghtwad Gazette II - Day 29 - May 31st

I started a new subject the other day on “What If” scenarios. We never want to think that some scenarios can happen to us, but they can and do happen. I have hoped that over the past few months of going through Amy Dacyczyn’s books that everyone has learned to save money and spend less so that you can be prepared for those “What If” scenarios.

Let’s look at today’s reading that runs the gamut of Salads to Dry Cleaning and Wrapping Paper.


“When it comes to produce, our ancestors ate seasonally. When their gardens were producing, they ate greens, cucumbers and tomatoes, but during the winter they ate sweet potatoes, carrots, and butternut squash because these would keep without freezing or canning. Now, with modern transportation and food preservation, seasonal eating is almost nonexistent.”

When I was growing up we ate seasonal salads. In the summer we ate tossed salads of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots and other “tossed” salad ingredients fresh from the garden. In the winter months we ate cabbage salad or coleslaw, carrot salad, gelatin salads, salads made with home grown frozen vegetables, and fruit salad made from home canned fruits. It was a rarity to have a tossed salad in the winter months.

Amy asks the question “how does fresh supermarket produce, which loses nutrition through aging, compare to canned and frozen vegetables, which lose nutrition through processing?”

The nutritionists Amy interviewed all agreed that the exact form of produce (fresh, frozen, canned or dried) was a minor concern. Instead they stressed volume and variety. “Eat a minimum of 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, including some that are high in A and C. Eat cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage and broccoli) several times a week. Several studies have shown that these help to prevent cancer.”

If you want to save money and still eat nutritiously, shift your diet to frozen out of season produce and to fresh, low cost winter vegetables during the cold weather.


A reader wrote in to say that she marks the date on certain products. She sticks on a piece of masking tape and marks the first day of use on it. It gives her the incentive to beat the number of days she can make the product last. Examples: dish soap, dishwashing detergent, shampoo and so on.

I’ve been doing this for several months and have been amazed by how long I am able to make certain products last longer than I ever did before I started to mark the beginning date of use on the container. As an example I opened a 77 oz. bottle of Ultra Downy Liquid Fabric softener on August 16, 2011. One third of the jug is left. I only use it on towels and dressy clothes. By use, I only pour in 1 teaspoon per load. The rest of the clothes I use dryer sheets cut into thirds.

Why the dryer sheets on some clothes and not on others? I found that the dryer sheets were leaving marks on my husband’s dress shirts so I switched to liquid fabric softener. I purchased 4 boxes of name brand dryer sheets for 50 cents two years ago with a coupon so I do want to use these on everything else. I have cut the sheets into thirds to get the most out of them. When I am able to hang my clothes out on the line, I switch to liquid fabric softener for everything.

I have purchased about 4 jugs of name brand fabric softener over the past few months as there have been some great deals with coupons and I have paid about $1.00 for a large jug of Downy. I have enough fabric softener to last me a very, very long time.


Follow the manufacturer’s instructions unless you’re willing to risk ruining the garment. However, if you buy a blouse at a yard sale for 25 cents and it is to be dry cleaned, you may try to hand wash it and if it is ruined, you are only out 25 cents.

“Reader after reader reported success with home laundering dry clean only clothes and very few cited ruined garments. They generally suggested hand washing or using the gentle cycle with cold water and a mild detergent, then laying the garment flat to dry.”

I have never used the home dry-cleaning product, Dryel, which is available so that you can dry clean your clothes at home. Instead I try to avoid purchasing any article that requires dry-cleaning if at all possible. My husband wears dress pants, dress shirts and ties to work from Labor Day to Memorial Day. Then during the summer months it is a casual dress of Docker style pants and casual shirts.

He needed some new dress pants 12 months ago and I happened upon a catalog sale with JC Penney. I ordered several pair of dress pants that are not to be dry-cleaned but instead to be washed in cold water and dried on low. These pants have the look of a dry cleaned pant but without the cost of dry cleaning. He still has a few pants that require dry-cleaning and the cost is around $7.00 per pair of pants. Sometimes our drycleaner sends us discount coupons.

I respect the Dry Clean Only label and I wouldn’t try to clean an article of clothing on my own.


A reader wrote in to say that she lived in a tiny apartment which had a small flimsy metal freezer above the fridge. She learned to go to the grocery stores on the last day of a sale and get a rain check for frozen sale items that they were out of and she didn’t have room for at the moment. Then, a week or so later when she had more freezer room, she would go back and pick them up. Some rain checks last for 30 days.


A reader wrote in to say that at the after Christmas sales she looks for Christmas wrap that could double as an all occasion wrap. She gets one roll for adults and one roll for children. I came across some Christmas wrapping paper last year that could double as all occasion paper. It is white paper with little red dots. It is perfect for any occasion for a child or adult.

We will continue our Tightwad Gazette II reading on Thursday, June 2nd by focusing on pages 229 through 239. Tomorrow I will post my response to the first “What If” scenario and I will propose a new scenario for everyone to consider.

May 29, 2011

Tightwad Gazette II - Day 28 - May 29th

Tomorrow is Memorial Day here in the States and we have planned a cookout with our children and daughter in law.  We are having brats, chicken, deviled eggs, baked beans, watermelon and of course, Smores for dessert. 

I just took homemade cinnamon rolls out of the oven for breakfast tomorrow morning.  A holiday is one of those special times I like to bake cinnamon rolls.

Well, here is today's discussion from the Tightwad Gazette II.  I know it is early to talk about Christmas, but the earlier the better for good planning and money saving plans too.  Today we finish discussing Christmas and end with some great reader tips.


Begin stockpiling yard sale toys in May. One mother went into her sons’ room to look at the toys they received for Christmas. She figured out how long they had played with the toys and found that the puzzles and traditional toys were the ones that had the most play time. Even though she shopped for new toys at a toy store, she didn’t buy near the amount and shopped the sales.

For older kids, shop at used sporting-goods stores.

If you find a toy at a yard sale that is in great shape, why not buy it? It’s ridiculous to pay full price for the box that a new toy comes in since that is what you are really paying for.

Some of the best kid gift concepts are “gathered presents.” These include:

School: Chalkboard, chalk, eraser, pointer, tests, report cards with envelopes, write and wipe calendar, markers, roll book, bell, flag and stand.

Crafts: Feathers, sequins, construction paper, yarn, beads, co9lorful macaroni, mini clothespins, paints, markers, dowels, confetti, glue, scissors, pipe cleaners, doilies, buttons, pom poms, moving eyes, metal brads, idea book, carrying case.


If a child constantly asks when is Christmas, take a small piece of rope or a shoe string, tie knots in it for the remaining days and each night untie one knot to show you are one day closer to the big day.

Ask older children to take part in a service project such as a food drive for those in need.


Luminaries. Fill a tin can with water and freeze it. Then punch holes with a hammer and nail to form a picture or abstract pattern. The frozen water inside keeps the can from bending as you punch it.

Christmas Potpourri

Peels from 2 apples, dried and broken up
1 cup or less orange peel, dried and broken up
2 tablespoons whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick, broken into small pieces

Mix and store in a jar or paper bag. Simmer in a pot for a wonderful aroma.

Put several mason jars on a sill, and stuff an equal length of inexpensive twinkle lights in each jar.


PICTURE PERFECT - Here is a perfect gift suggestion when you are the mothers of the bride and groom. Moms get together and swap pictures from birth to match age to age; Cub scout to Brownie, cheerleader to Little League. Put the pictures in a photo album for the couple. With digital cameras it is easier to share photos these days.

A FINE LINE – Don’t use clothespins to hang up shirts on the clothes line, instead hang them on plastic hangers and put the hangers on the line. I do this, but I put two clothes pins on either side of the top of the hanger to keep it from blowing off the clothes line.


A reader wrote in to say that she kept putting off making a price book as she felt she didn’t have the time. So she made a list of her frequently purchased grocery items and handed her friends and family a list. When they were at grocery stores they would record the price of a few items and then she was able to divide and conquer and get the price book put together.


To get free distilled water for your iron or vaporizer, save gallon jugs and use water from the dehumidifier during the summer months.

For May 31st we will look at pages 218 through 227.

What If? - Case No. 1 - Unemployment

In between my posts on the Tightwad Gazette II, I am going to post possible case scenarios.  It is my hope that it will start a discussion in your families or at the very least get you to thinking about what you will do.  Many times we don't want to think about the bumps in the road of life and we would rather stick our heads in the sand and deny the possibility of these situations happening to us.  So, let's face those fears head on and brain storm what we will do.  Here is the first case scenario:

You are a one income family and the sole income provider has become unemployed.   It is estimated he/she will be out of work for 6 to 9 months. 

How will you survive?  Take stock of what food you have on hand, what money you have in your bank accounts and how much unemployment checks you will receive.  Make a plan.

May 27, 2011

Tightwad Gazette II - Day 23 - May 27th

In today’s reading, Amy covers Christmas gift giving recipes. I know that it is the end of May, and Christmas is several months away, but if you make a plan now for Christmas and put that plan into action you will not only save money, but the holidays will be less stressful. Amy gives a few recipes in this section and if you think these are recipes you would like to try for gift giving, then when these ingredients go on sale now (if they will keep) or in the fall, buy them. Make a list of what you will need and then buy your ingredients when they go on sale and check them off your list.

If you have a Household Notebook, have a section for Christmas and put the list of things you will need along with the ingredients and recipes so that you will be all ready when Christmas arrives.


Stained Glass Cookies

1/2 cup softened margarine
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups unsifted flour
1 lb. assorted colored hard candies (such as life savers)

Blend together the margarine, sugar, egg and vanilla. In a separate bowl combine the baking soda, salt and flour. Add the dry ingredients to the sugar mixture. Add water, about 6 tablespoons, until the mixture forms a stiff but workable dough. Cover and chill for 1 hour.

Unwrap and sort candies by color into separate bowls. One at a time, put each bowl of candies into the plastic bag and crush with a mallet. The final texture should include granules and small chunks. Return crushed candies to their separate bowls.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Flour your hands and roll a small piece of dough into a rope exactly the thickness of a pencil. Shape the ropes into holiday designs such as stars, bells, etc. I have done this by rolling out the dough and cutting it out with cookie cutters and then I take a sharp knife and cut out a portion of the center of the cookie. Also I bake cookies on parchment paper as it saves on your cookie sheets and makes clean up so much easier.

Prebake the cookies for 8 minutes til lightly golden. Remove from the cookie sheet from the oven. Fill the centers with crushed candy. The depth of the candy should be even with the dough. Bake about 4 minutes or a little less. Watch carefully you do not want the candy to bubble, but to melt. Remove from oven and cool.

Homemade Toffee

1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Butter an 8 inch square pan. Spread the chopped walnuts or pecans in the pan. Heat the butter or margarine and sugar, and boil over medium heat in a 1 quart saucepan, stirring constantly. Do this until the mixture darkens and just begins to smoke, about 7 minutes. Immediately pour the mixture over the walnuts.

Sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the hot mixture, and put a cookie sheet over the top to hold in the heat so that it melts the chips. Spread the chocolate with a knife. If desired sprinkle ground walnuts on the melted chocolate. Score into 1 1/2 inch squares while still warm. Refrigerate. Break into squares when cool.

Christmas Cheese Ball

2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon minced onion
2 teaspoons chopped pimento
Dash garlic salt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/4 cup chopped green pepper
8 ounces grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Combine the first 7 ingredients and form into a ball. Roll the ball in the chopped walnuts so that the outside is completely covered.

Whole Wheat Crackers

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups white flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup margarine
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup wheat germ

Sift the first 5 ingredients together. Add the margarine and process in food processor. Add the buttermilk and process until it forms a ball. Set it aside for 10 minutes. Cut the dough into four parts. Grease cookie sheets and sprinkle them with wheat germ. Roll each dough piece out on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle with salt. Cut into diamond shapes with a pastry wheel. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool and put into a covered container.

Does this inspire you? As you come across possible recipes for gift giving, put them in your binder in the Christmas Section. Then you won’t have to look for them when the time comes.


Bird Food Blocks (similar to the suet you find in the store)

2 cups shortening
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup oatmeal
1 cup birdseed

Melt the shortening with the peanut butter in a large saucepan. Add the cornmeal and mix well. Add the birdseed and mix well. Pour into a rectangular baking pan or cupcake pans, and let set overnight. You can cut the pieces in the baking pan into squares to fit into a suet feeder or you can set out in your birdfeeder.


Give away several rolls of homemade freezer cookie dough as gifts.

Tomorrow we will continue our discussion of Christmas by reading pages 205 through 214. I’m excited at the prospect of making a list now of all of the homemade gifts I want to make such as aprons, and get those sewn over the next few months. I would much rather spread the work over a few months than stay up late several nights before Christmas to get the work done. It is my goal to have a less stressful and enjoyable Christmas this year. Make it your goal too.

North and South A New DVD Favorite

I watched on Netflix the movie series "North and South."  No, this isn't the same drama that was about the Civil War.  This takes place in England and is a wonderful, wonderful movie.  There isn't any bad language, is a wonderful love story set in a dreary mill town with people who are very poor. 

This was such a wonderful movie that I bought it for my collection.   If you love Pride and Prejudice, you will love this movie.  For a full description of this movie go to this link. 

May 26, 2011

Why I Coupon

I coupon to save money and to create a stockpile of food for my pantry and freezer.  Those two reasons are why I clip and sort coupons weekly, why I ask friends to save me any coupons they don't use and why I surf the internet for coupons.  I don't spend hours looking for coupons on line as I find I get the most use out of coupons from the newspaper flyers.

We do not have any grocery stores in our area that double coupons or have store loyalty cards.  I really believe that this is true for most people and that is why I wanted to write how I feel about couponing and the new TLC series "Extreme Couponing."

Yes I watch Extreme Couponing faithfully and I mainly watch to see how the women/men get their coupons and how they store them.  Many of them go further than I will ever go with couponing such as dumpster diving for coupons, but a big part of me wishes with all my heart that I could become an extreme couponer and shop at stores that double coupons.  Why?  Because I would be able to donate more to our local Food Pantry. 

At some time in the lives of these Extreme Couponers I would think that a point would come when you would have too much of something such as toilet paper or deoderant (in the case of Extreme Couponers this could be hundred's of packages) and you would then donate to a charity.  Some of them do donate to charity but it would appear that many just like to stand and look at what they have been able to acquire for little or no money at all.

But for the rest of us that do not have stores that double coupons or have store loyalty cards we must save with what resources we have. 

I am patient with my coupons and I wait until items go on sale so that I can get the most savings when I use the coupons.  Also, when some big dollar coupons are coming close to expiring and there has yet to be a sale, I take them with me as I shop and check the prices at both of the grocery stores in town and when I happen to be at Wal-mart.  Then I make a decision as to whether I will use them or not.  An example of a big dollar coupon would be the ones that I have seen for $3.00 off disposable razors.  If I have plenty of razors on hand, then I let the coupon expire knowing that before I run out there will be more coupons and perhaps a sale.

This week, without double coupons I was able to purchase 4 bottles of KC Masterpiece Barbecue sauce for only 28 cents a bottle, six packages of Oscar Mayer Hot dogs for only 49 cents each, two 24 oz. bottles of Ketchup for 49 cents each (limit of one for .49 cents and another for regular price of .99 cents and used a 50 cent off buy two coupon), 30 oz. jars of Miracle Whip for only $1.49 each and 6 pkgs. of Right Guard Deoderant for only 69 cents each.  A couple of weeks ago, Hy-Vee had 150 oz. jugs of Purex Laundry soap on sale for one day for only for $3.99.  I had three coupons for $3.00 off each.  That was a great deal. 

From now until the end of the year is when I use a lot of coupons and it is also the time I stock up on many items.  This is when I find the deals on condiments, canned pork n beans, hamburger, hot dogs, pickles, salad dressings, pasta and more.  It seems like we go from Memorial Day to Labor Day with sales on more and more of those type of items and then we go straight into the holiday baking season. 

It is late May through the end of December that I spend the majority of our grocery budget stocking up on the items to put in my pantry and freezer and then I spend January through May eating from what I have stocked up in my pantry and freezer. 

This year I found that I have been able to live off the majority of the items I have stockpiled from those last 6 months of last year.  Since March I have bought a minimal amount of groceries each week because we have been able to live off of our stockpile.  I honestly believe that this is going to become the way I buy groceries and stockpile for the rest of my life.  It will definitely help while we pay for our youngest son's college education beginning in the fall.  It works for our family and we continue to save a lot of money.

May 25, 2011

Tightwad Gazette II - Day 22 - May 25th

Today we are covering pages 188 through 194 in the Tightwad Gazette Book II. Today’s discussion is about making a quilt from used items. I really love this idea for making something out of otherwise useless or less than great items. Also Amy covers in these pages frugal Christmas gift giving.

It is the end of May, but honestly thinking about Christmas gift giving now is a very good idea. Start making things now such as handmade sewn gifts or you may come up with a great item at a yard sale for gift giving.

I am making a list of possible gifts for Christmas and I will be searching for these items over the summer at yard sales.


In this article Amy explores making quilts from used fabrics for personal use. Some states have restrictions on selling quilts made from used fabrics and batting but they are perfectly good for your own personal use.

Years and years ago quilts were made to use up scraps of fabric in order to turn them into a useful item. Amy says that by using second hand materials you can easily make a quilt for under $5.00.

Making quilts from scraps can be a challenge when you are trying to coordinate colors. Sometimes the results aren’t always perfect, but you kind of like that. “Accepting the less than perfect result is actually liberating.”

Settle on a basic pattern and color scheme and go from there. Amy made her first quilt using scraps and used materials for 95 cents.

Amy took a pillowcase (one of her kids had cut a hole in it) and a matching bottom sheet (ruined by someone who dumped makeup on it) and she cut these up for quilt squares. The other sheet that went with the set she used for the quilt backing. These were a bright pink color and hence her color scheme began. These ruined sheets and pillowcase along with a twin sized comforter became the beginning of a girls’ new quilt.

Amy designed a square using 50 percent of the pink sheet fabric and the rest would come from other fabrics. Basically she made 1 square out of 2 triangle pieces of fabric sewn together. These were complimented by squares of fabric. She looked at yard sales for pink flowery print clothes and was able to find some for a total of 85 cents. She also had a couple of stained flowery blouses and a dress that she sacrificed for the quilt.

Amy sewed the pieces together on her sewing machine and pieced them together again using her sewing machine. She bought a ball of embroidery cotton for 10 cents at a yard sale to tie the quilt.

The old comforter was used as “batting.” The good sheet was used for the backing. After she had pieced the quilt, sewn it together and tied it, she ended up with a beautiful quilt for her daughter’s bed.

This is what Amy learned, that she could make a unique piece of bedding for her family. Also the great advantage to making a quilt from scraps is that you can use clothing that is torn, stained and otherwise unusable as long as the fabric isn’t too worn. You can also create a memory quilt using pieces of fabric from favorite out grown outfits.

Amy loved this and felt it was a great hobby for people with limited time as they could sew a few quilt squares at a time.


When money is tight, you can still give Christmas gifts but you may have to have a plan.

The Upfront Plan

1. Talk about it. When you have family members together such as at a graduation celebration or a summer reunion, talk about Christmas gift giving for the family. Specifically talk about cutting back and giving frugal gifts. These frugal gifts could be handmade, from a thrift store and so on. You could draw names, shift to household gifts, suggest swapping of services such as free babysitting, and yard mowing, bread making over the coming year. Set a spending limit for everyone to spend on each person.

2. The Covert Plan.

“If it’s too late to discuss the problem with your family this year or if you are sure the discussion would be fruitless, try showing them.” Amy goes on to say that with some creativity you can show others that you can give them nice gifts. Here are some guidelines:

A. To successfully convert people, your gift giving must be excellent. Gifts that are inappropriate or poorly made will fail.

B. Start slowly. It might take a few years to get everyone to give up extravagant, expensive gifts.

C. Provide information. If someone thinks your gift is store bought, tell them you made it.

D. Be confident. Never apologize for the humbleness of your gift.

“In attempting either the upfront plan or the covert plan, it helps to explain why you want to save money. If you choose the upfront plan, this reason should be a part of your discussion. If you choose the covert plan, frequently mention your financial goals to those around you. If you let everyone know you are saving for a down payment on a house, what reasonable person could fault you? But if others still see your frugal gift giving as poor, cheap and/or thoughtless use the Buzz off plan.”

“It’s unreasonable for others to expect you to spend in accordance with their values.

For tomorrow we will cover pages 196 through 204. This reading will cover Christmas gift giving.

May 24, 2011

Living Room is Finished!!



The biggest change was that I painted the piano black using a semi gloss paint.  I had a scarf that I bought 5 years ago that I wore with a black skirt and it looks beautiful on top of that piano.

My mom gave me sheet music from the 1890's that I have displayed on the piano.  Also you will see that I painted the radiators the base coat color of the walls.



We moved the furniture around from the before picture.  Also you can see in this picture that the ceiling is sponged in lighter shades of the wall color.

The Entryway

In July I will begin working on my son's room.   I need at last a 6 week break before I begin this process again.


I am tired but it is what I call “happy” tired. Our weekend was wonderful. It began with our son’s graduation party on Friday night and ended with his graduation on Sunday.

After months of working in my living room and entryway, I can sit back and relax and go back to a regular schedule of keeping house.

I didn’t go over budget for the party but we are now down to very little money until payday on the 31st. But again, the pantry and freezer are stocked so we will be fine. I took 198 pop cans to the recycling center and I got $9.90 in deposit money returned to me. That is what I have for groceries until the 31st and that will be fine. We have a gallon of milk in the fridge and fruit and fresh veggies so I will use the money to purchase more milk as needed.

I have been taking a few days this week to relax and do whatever I feel like doing. Over the past two weeks I didn't get a lot of sleep, especially last week.  So I have been taking it easy and napping whenever I feel like it.  I have earned it. 

On Thursday I will begin to focus on cleaning my upstairs which has been neglected. I am looking forward to spending the first two weeks in June sewing some pretty cotton tops for the summer.

We will return to our reading on the Tightwad Gazette II tomorrow.

May 21, 2011


I will be back to posting on May 23rd.  My livingroom is beautiful and I will post pictures.  As to my son and his party, it was a wonderful party and he was overwhelmed by the people that came.

The weather wasn't perfect as it stormed most of the day and was raining when the party started so I had people all over the downstairs of our house.  We had a lot of fun.

Graduation is tomorrow and I will be back to my daily blogging Monday.  I have much to write about.

May 17, 2011

The Painting is Finished

Just wanted to post a quick update.  First of all, I now see that my "Followers Gadget" is missing and that this is another problem in Blogger.  Hopefully this will get fixed soon.

I finished all of my painting today!!!  After 4 1/2 months of scraping wallpaper, washing down the walls, patching all of the holes and cracks in the plaster, sanding the repaired plaster, priming the walls, painting two basecoats, painting faux finish one and two, and then I had to faux finish the ceilings, it is finally done.  The result is a beautiful livingroom and entryway just the way I imagined it.  I will post pictures after I have cleaned it and put up the drapes. 

It took a long time but I wanted to do it right so that it would look like wallpaper and it does.  The rest of the week will be spent cleaning, doing yard work and cooking.  My son's graduation party is Friday evening so I have a lot to do.  I've checked in on many of your blogs and have enjoyed the many varied posts.  I will be back to my regular posting come this weekend.

In the meantime, have a blessed week.

May 13, 2011

Sewing Question

I have asked the Headstrong Housewife at Journey of a Headstrong Housewife about sewing patterns and I would like to throw this question out to all of you.

I am tired of not being able to find sewing patterns that I like or that fit properly and I would like to start to make my own patterns.  For example, I have a beautiful top that I would love to recreate, but to be honest I do not want to take it apart to make a pattern.  I will have to take a picture of it as I love it. 

So for those seamstresses out there, do you have any suggestions as to where I can find information how to make my own patterns? 

Tightwad Gazette II - Day 21 - May 13th

I wrote the following post late last night and when I went to publish it, Blogger was down.  It's up and running obviously except some recent posts were deleted.  I have had my blog for about 20 months and have never had a problem with Blogger so that is very good service when you think about it.  So Kudos to them for getting things resolved with minimal problems. 

Now on to our Tightwad Gazette reading.


A reader wrote in to say that she felt like for years she was getting cheated by not being able to get that last little bit of solid antiperspirant/deodorant out of the container, she decided that she needed to try something.

She dug all the remaining stuff out of the container with a knife and put it in a glass custard cup. She put it in the microwave for two minutes. Using a spatula she scraped all the melted antiperspirant into an old deodorant container and let it cool. Four used up deodorant containers have filled a recycled container half full.

I have never tried this but I have snipped tubes and plastic bottles to get the last bit of a product. It is surprising how much is left in these containers when you think you have used everything up.


A reader wrote in to say that they knew some college students and in exchange for the students babysitting for them, they let them wash and dry their clothes. The students provided their own laundry soap.

When we were first married, we had some friends that needed someone to babysit their sons every Tuesday evening. I volunteered and in lieu of getting paid, they let me do a couple loads of laundry at their house. It was great not to have to go to the Laundromat for a while and they in turn wanted to pay me, but were happy with the bartering.


Can you be too frugal? Amy responds with this “Most people think of frugality only in terms of saving money. Under that narrow definition, the answer would clearly be “Yes, you can be too frugal.” But if you look up frugal in the dictionary, you’ll find it isn’t defined specifically as having to do only with money. It’s defined as not wasteful, economical, or thrifty. These terms can apply to the expenditure of any resource.”

Everyone tries to achieve the highest quality of life possible using four basic resources. These are money, time, space and personal energy. These resources are interconnected in an intricate way so frugality must encompass more than just money.

Amy used an example of people that collect things to the point of being a pack rat. Amy responds that these people aren’t being too frugal; rather their frugality is out of balance. Pack rats tend to expend energy moving piles of things to look for something wasting time and ultimately money since they end up going out and buying something they already have.

With the home improvement projects going on, my downstairs is a mess and very cluttered. I am expending all my time on painting and I can tell you that it has led to some frustration as I can’t find things as easily as I usually can. If I constantly lived with the clutter I am sure that I would not be saving money because I would be purchasing more stuff that I need and purchasing duplicate items.

Also because the pack rat has limited space (due to the items they have collected), they don’t have space to stock up on great grocery deals.

The bottom line is that the pack rat’s quality of life is diminished.

In contrast to the pack rat a successful frugal person constantly monitors how much is stored, never keeping more than the maximum amount of bread bags and Styrofoam trays that are needed at one time.

Pack-ratting with organization and precision is a huge money saver, especially when more valuable things are stored away. Having a just right amount of clothing stored up for the children, lumber, hardware and non perishable foods are examples of good pack ratting.

The non frugal person can have a life out of balance by working hard for something such as a boat but rarely getting the time to use it.

Amy has observed the frugal and the non frugal person and she said that this lack of balance is “usually indicated by an expression of unhappiness or frustration about some aspect of their lives – when they complain about not being able to pay bills but aren’t making adjustments in their habits. Regardless of their spending style, I don’t worry about people when they and their families are clearly happy with the choices they have made.”

“Because we all have different amounts of money, time, space and personal energy and different ideas about what constitutes quality of life we each must find our own frugal balance.”


Amy made up a list of products and she assigned each one a price that a product must be for her to buy it. For example for a cake mix it must be only 2 cents per ounce, baked beans is 1 cent per ounce, Italian salad dressing is 3 cents per ounce, onion soup mix is 33 cents per ounce and so on. (Again, these are 1995 prices.)

If the store bought item with a coupon is the same or less than the amount that she has assigned a product, then she will use the coupon and buy the item. She compares her costs to homemade, store brand and national brand.

I think it is a good idea to always have a “buy” amount assigned to your most frequently bought grocery items. For example, for me I will pay no more than 99 cents for a jar of peanut butter. When it gets that low, I stock up.

Also when I use coupons if a store brand is quite a bit cheaper, I will choose to buy it over using a coupon with a national brand. In our area there are no double coupon grocery stores so many times a store brand will be cheaper.

I won’t be blogging about the Tightwad Gazette for a few days as I am one week away from a Graduation party and I have a lot to do. I will be posting bits and pieces on the blog but will reserve a Tightwad Gazette reading for after the Graduation party.

In the meantime I want to tell everyone that I haven’t been able to respond to your comments, but I thoroughly enjoy what you have to say. Now I need to get some sleep. Have a great evening/morning depending on where you live. Take care.

May 11, 2011

Where have I been?

No, nothing bad has happened and I haven't gone away.  I will post tomorrow regarding the latest Tightwad Gazette reading which I should have done yesterday.  But, yesterday, -- I was soooo miserable.

The temperature was in the 90's and the heat index was 100 degrees.  We have yet to put the window air conditioners in the downstairs windows so I was trying to paint without fainting.  I had sweat going down my arms and finally I gave up.  In the middle of painting I heard a neighbor yell "Oh no, " so I went outside to see what had happened.  Her two dogs got loose and I spent some time chasing after dogs while my dog was in our fenced in yard watching.  At one point I thought I could actually see my dog rooting for the dogs that were running loose.

 By the time I got back home, the heat had totally zapped my strength (along with the great dog chase).  I slept horribly last night.  (The air conditioners will go in this weekend.) 

Our upstairs has a separate furnace with central air but my husband felt that it wasn't too bad.  I disagreed.  I slept in our basement family room.  Well we call it that but it really is just a piece of carpet and some old furniture along with a t.v.  It was nice and cool.  I drifted off to sleep only to wake up to a mouse running around with our cat in chase.  The rest of the night I slept fitfully and dreamt really weird stuff.  Maybe I should right a book like that lady did from her dream about vampires. 

I got up this morning and I knew that I wasn't going to make it so at 8:30 I took a nap and again dreamt some wild dreams.  After 45 minutes I got up and decided that I couldn't spent the whole day fighting sleep and being tired so I got to the laundry and started picking up.  It was a lot cooler today.  Yea!!

Then I heard a noise.  I didn't recognize it at first and then I realized what it was.  I ran outside in time to see our son's dog tearing off the lattice work around the base of our deck in order to catch a bunny.  I ran and yelled at the dog only to stub my right little toe on a stake that is in the ground holding the dog tie out.  It started to swell and I hobbled over to the deck and leaned a ladder against the lattice work. 

I came inside and inspected my toe.  It wasn't broken, but it was bleeding and I knew it wouldn't take long for it to get really sore.  Oh well, it's sandal season anyway. 

This afternoon it was back to the painting in the other side of the livingroom.  I finished the first faux finish on the walls about 45 minutes ago. 

So, there you have it.  There are no big sales at the grocery stores so I don't need to go shopping this week except for a few things.  With the time I am saving by not shopping, I will use it to paint. 

One side of the living room is all finished and I am working on the other side. It has to be finished by Saturday.  My son's graduation party is on the 20th so I have a little over a week to get everything painted, the house cleaned and the cooking and baking done.  I should be okay as long as I don't have to chase a dog. 

May 10, 2011

"The Winter of Our Hardship" - 60 minutes documentary

In yesterday's post I talked about a documentary that I had watched about a town going through excessively hard economic times and how the people were coping with losing their jobs and their fear of the future.

Go to this link to read the transcript of "The Winter of our Hardship" from a 60 minutes documentary that was recently re-aired on CNBC or to watch the segment.  The town is Wilmington, Ohio.   The documentary was aired in 2009 and then they updated it in 2010 to show that the situation had gotten worse now that more and more people were being laid off.

May 09, 2011

Tightwad Gazette II - Day 20 - May 9th

Today Amy will discuss a big component to her living a frugal/tightwad lifestyle and that is the Pantry Principle.  If you have been a reader of my blog, you know that I embrace the Pantry Principle as a big part of my life. 

Did anyone make muffins from the Create a Muffin recipe? I would love to hear from you.

Well, let's get down to today's reading.


A reader wrote in to say that sometimes she only needs 1/2 lb. of ground meat or two chicken legs and she doesn’t like to freeze them in large hard to divide lumps. She takes a bread bag and puts a small amount of meat in the bottom of the bag, ties it off with a twist tie and then continues moving all the way up the bag. Just snip off the portion that you need.

Be sure to turn the bread bag inside out as I read somewhere that the paint on the outside of the bag is toxic.


Amy begins this article by telling that many people admonish others that if they want to save money they need to make up a menu plan for 30 days. At the very least, people will tell you that you should plan meals 1 week in advance working with the grocery sales for that week. I know there are women who really feel that this is the way to go, but Amy prefers a different way to feed her family. Do what works for you.

Amy feels that planning your meals entirely in advance is backward. You should never decide first what you want to eat and then go out and buy the food for the following reasons.

1. Your predetermined plan will not coincide with what’s on sale;

2. Stick to your list thinking doesn’t allow you to take advantage of the unadvertised deals; and

3. During the course of your long range menu plan you may discover you need to use up a perishable or clean out the leftovers from your crammed freezer.

Amy goes on to say that long range planning probably evolved as a solution for the individual who went to the grocery store several times a week or went out to eat all the time. If that is the case, they would have saved money over what they had previously done.

Amy advocates the Pantry Principle over the above methods as the way to save the most on groceries and in feeding your family.

“The basic premise is that you stockpile your pantry (and/or kitchen, freezer, basement, closet and/or the space under your bed) with food purchased at the lowest possible price. The sole purpose of grocery shopping becomes replenishing your pantry, not buying ingredients to prepare specific meals.”

The pantry principle means scanning the sales flyers each week for good deals, and then buying in quantity when those good deals roll around. When you see a good deal, look at what you have on hand and decide how much to buy. Amy said that even if they have 20 lbs. of flour on hand, she will go ahead and purchase flour if the price is right. Me too. If properly stored, it will keep just fine.

Amy goes on to say that this way of buying groceries is not just for large families, but for singles also.

Amy also stockpiles larger quantities of food that go on sale less frequently. As time goes on you will get to know what those items are. Sometimes they make a mistake and run out of an item, such as chicken, but they don’t run out and pay full price for chicken, they wait for a sale and eat other sale purchased meats instead.

The whole goal to the pantry principle is to stock up on sale items with a goal of having a full pantry/freezer. When that is accomplished you will then make up your meals from the pantry/freezer and replenish as needed.

I shop once a week for my main groceries and shop as needed for fresh produce and milk. As I have said in other articles, I walk past two grocery stores on my way to work out at Curves each day, so it is easy to stop in and pick up some bananas or milk or whatever I need. Also, I’m not tempted to pick up more than I need since I can’t carry a whole bunch of stuff home with my workout bag.

After Amy and her family have finished eating their evening meal, she decides what they will have to eat the following evening. While her husband helps her clean up the kitchen, she will take out meat from the freezer to thaw in the fridge or she will put some beans in water to soak overnight. Thawing foods in advance means she can also put food in the Crockpot in the morning.

As a final note Amy said that this whole concept of stocking up when items are on sale applies to other areas of the frugal life. For example she shops garage sales in the summer for clothing that will be needed later on in the year. She also shops at garage sales for anything that she will need to replace throughout the year such as sneakers, backpacks and lunch boxes.

Because she has implemented the pantry principle in all areas of her life, when they need something they just go shopping in their attic.

I believe in this philosophy whole heartedly. That is why you will never see a weekly menu plan on my blog. I always decide what to have for dinner the next evening while I am cleaning up supper that evening. Tonight we had a chuck roast, seasoned rice, green beans and ice cream. I have enough roast for tomorrow night but only enough of the rice and beans for 1 person. I also have 1 cooked potato in the fridge. Tomorrow I will heat up the rice, fry the potato and heat up some additional green beans. This will ensure that we will have a nice meal tomorrow night but won’t have any additional leftovers.

I try very hard to make just enough to go with the leftovers to be eaten at that meal. I never want to keep producing leftovers from leftovers.

I watched a documentary this weekend in which a town in Ohio was losing a major industry that employed thousands of people. One woman that was interviewed said that she was stockpiling food while her husband still had his job so that they would be able to eat while he was collecting an unemployment check. This is an excellent idea. It’s great to have a monetary emergency fund, but having a great supply of food (3 months or more) on hand will help to make an unemployment check stretch further.

I have posted my grocery savings in a while. I will have to get that done this week. We keep eating out of the pantry and freezer and have been doing so since March and it has saved us quite a bit of money. So, I guess you could say that I am totally sold on the Pantry Principle.

For tomorrow read pages 179 through 185. One of the articles in tomorrow’s reading is entitled “The Frugal Balance.” Which is pretty interesting.

As a warning, I am finishing up painting my living room this week as we have my son’s graduation party on May 20th. My goal is to finish the living room this week and then start cleaning next week and getting ready for the party. I’m feeling a little time constrained as I also plan on making the buns for the party. So, if I am short on time, I may have to post every other day for the next 10 days.

May 07, 2011

Tightwad Gazette II - Day 19 - May 7th

Today is Saturday and I had the luxury of sleeping in. I’ve not been getting enough sleep lately. I’ve been staying up late and then getting up early. Sleeping in today was just what I needed. The weather is beautiful and even though I spent a portion of the day painting, I also spent some time sitting on the back porch watching the neighbor children ride their bikes.

I also treated myself today by spending some birthday money on some new Capri’s and some Bermuda shorts. I have had the money for over two months and for me to not spend it is a testament to my new way of life. I was waiting for a great sale and it was well worth the wait.

Enough about me, let’s get on to Amy Dacyczyn and the wonderful information we can glean from her book the Tightwad Gazette II.


Give to children to use for paint brushes or trim the brushes to use for stenciling.


Remove the fabric so you have the “skeleton” remaining. Then you can hang it upside down to use to hang lightweight items on to dry.


Use to place under your kick stand when you park your bike in a sandy area. You could glue a heavy duty magnet to the juice lid and then attach it to the bike somewhere so that it is ready to be used.


When you are going to replace your eye glasses but the prescription hasn’t changed, for a small fee you can have the lenses “dyed” for sunglasses. I have done this in the past and only once did it not turn out well. Sometimes the dye does not take well to the older lenses, but when it works it is a cheap way to get prescription sunglasses.


A reader wrote in to say that he needed some dirt to fill a hole in his yard. This reader thought and thought and he decided to call the local cemetery and they had dirt that he could haul away for free.


Amy never was one to fill her books with recipes as she said “blindly following recipes won’t help you save the maximum amount on your food bill.” Instead Amy has created recipes from what she has on hand. So instead of Amy giving recipes for muffins, she gives the information or process on how to create your own muffins from what you have on hand.

Here is the basic recipe to create your own muffins.

2 to 1/2 cups grain
1 cup milk
Up to 1/4 cup fat
1 egg
Up to 1/2 cup sweetener
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Up to 1 1/2 cups additions

The quantities listed are for a single batch of 12 muffins. To make the muffins combine the dry ingredients and then mix in the wet ingredients until just combined; the batter should be lumpy. Grease muffin tin and fill cups two thirds full. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes (give or take 5 minutes).

Grain: Use 2 to 2 1/2 cups of white flour. Or substitute oatmeal, cornmeal, whole wheat flour, rye flour, or flake cereal for 1 cup of the white flour. Or substitute 1 cup leftover cooked oatmeal, rice, or cornmeal for 1/2 cup of the white flour and decrease liquid to 1/2 cup.

Milk: Use 1 cup. Or substitute buttermilk or sour milk (add a tablespoon of vinegar to 1 cup milk). Or substitute fruit juice for part or all of the milk.

Fat: Use 1/4 cup vegetable oil or 4 tablespoons melted butter or margarine. Or substitute crunchy or regular peanut butter for part or all of the fat. The fat can be reduced or omitted with fair results if using a “wet addition.”

Egg: Use 1 egg. Or substitute 1 heaping tablespoon of soy flour and 1 tablespoon of water. If using a cooked grain, separate the egg, add the yolk to the batter, beat the white until stiff, and fold into the batter.

Sweetener: Use between 2 tablespoons and 1/2 cup sugar. Or substitute up to 3/4 cup brown sugar. Or substitute up to 1/2 cup honey or molasses (I substitute sorghum for the molasses in my recipes as it is cheaper), and decrease milk to 3/4 cup.

Baking Powder: Use 2 teaspoons. If using whole or cooked grains or more than 1 cup of additions, increase to 3 teaspoons. If using buttermilk or sour milk, decrease to 1 teaspoon and add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.

Salt: Use 1/2 teaspoon, or omit if you have a salt-restricted diet.

The following ingredients are optional. Additions can be used in any combination, up to 1 1/2 cups total. If using more than 1 cup of wet additions, decrease the milk to 1/2 cup.

Dry Additions: Nuts, sunflower seeds, raisins, coconut and so on.

Moist Additions: Blueberries, chopped apple, freshly shredded zucchini, shredded carrot, and so on.

Wet Additions: Pumpkin puree, applesauce; mashed, cooked sweet potato; mashed banana; mashed, cooked carrot, and so on. If using 1/2 cup drained, canned fruit or thawed shredded zucchini, substitute the syrup or zucchini liquid for all or part of the milk.

Spices: Use spices that complement the additions, such as 1 teaspoon cinnamon with 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg or cloves. Try 2 teaspoons grated orange or lemon peel.

Jellies and Jam: Fill cups half full with a plain batter. Add 1 teaspoon jam or jelly and top with 2 more tablespoons of batter.

Topping: Sprinkle cinnamon sugar on the batter in the tins.

Nonsweet Combinations: Use only 2 tablespoons sugar and no fruit. Add combinations of the following: 1/2 cup shredded cheese, 3 strips fried and crumbled bacon, 2 tablespoons grated onion, 1/2 cup shredded zucchini, 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese. Spices could include a teaspoon of parsley and a pinch of marjoram.

This may seem complicated at first but as you bake a few batches you will get the hang of it.

I use leftover cereal such as grapenuts, bran flakes, raisin bran and even shredded wheat in this recipe. I have also used leftover cooked carrots in this recipe. I mashed them and made them into a cinnamon spice type muffin. When you have some leftover odds and ends you will find that you can come up with a really great concoction. In fact you may want to keep track of what you do create so that if you end up with a “great hit” you will want to make it again.

For Monday May 9th, let’s read pages 167 through 176. In this reading Amy covers the “Pantry Principle.”

May 06, 2011

Being Flexible

I keep a daily list of what I want to accomplish each day and while I may not get the entire list done, I try to get at least 75% of it completed. 

I had arranged my schedule today so that I could spend my afternoon painting.  I got home from Curves at 1:00 and was making my lunch when I got a text message from the Hy-Vee grocery store website.  Hy-Vee has NowWow deals about once a week and a few months ago I signed up on their website for their special deals that are sent as a text message.  I looked at my phone and for a limited time today I would be able to get $5 off of a $50 grocery purchase.

Last night I had prepared my grocery list and had planned on shopping at Fareway on Monday.  After I got that text message I grabbed my list and I grabbed my Fareway ad as Hy-Vee will match Fareway's sales.  I purchased 20 lbs. of hamburger on sale for $1.99 a lb. and 4 extra large bags of Malt o Meal cereal that were close to 40 ounces each for only $2.50 a bag and 2 dozen eggs @ 99 cents a dozen.  These were all items I was going to purchase on Monday but by being flexible with my schedule (and being prepared with my list) I was able to get an additional $5 off my purchase.

I may not be an extreme couponer but a deal is still a deal.

May 05, 2011

Tightwad Gazette II - Day 18 - May 5th

Today we discover which chili is the cheapest. Also Amy analyzes using a bread machine versus baking hand kneaded bread.


A reader wrote in to say that she wanted a few stepping stones for her yard but they were expensive. So she bought a bag of concrete mix and a cheap plastic 5 gallon bucket. The bucket was wider at the top than at the bottom. The reader mixed the concrete right in the bucket to a 2 inch level.

She let it set for awhile and while it was still wet, she pressed in aggregate stone (or you can imprint a design such as a child’s hand or foot). Mist frequently with a water sprayer to keep the concrete from cracking. After two or three days, turn the stone out gently onto soft ground, so as not to break it.

I have seen kits that contain the concrete mix and a few stones and these kits are quite expensive. Other things you can do to decorate the stones is to decorate the stones with marbles or mosaic tiles. This would be a wonderful gift for a mom or grandmother.


This reader wrote in to say that they had two cats and they were moving from Massachusetts to Pennsylvania. They needed a cat carrier but they were too expensive. So this reader took two similar laundry hampers and flipped one basket over the other. Then he took bolts and fastened them together in back. He tied them securely in the front. Once the move was over he was able to use the baskets as laundry baskets.

We did this several years ago when we were driving from Iowa to Ohio to visit my in laws. We took our cat with us. It worked perfectly and we saved money by not having to get a cat carrier (nor to pay for boarding).


Amy did a comparison to see how much chili would cost if you bought it at a restaurant, purchased it canned, made homemade with expensive store bought items, made homemade with dried beans and hamburger, made homemade with homegrown vegetables and TVP down to using dumpster dived canned chili.

Well, obviously the dumpster dived canned chili was free so it was the cheapest. A canned national brand chili was more expensive than if you bought chili at Wendy’s.

It’s well worth the time to make chili from dried beans. But the cheapest chili (except for the dumpster dived) was chili made with TVP and dried beans. A little more expensive was chili made with dried beans and hamburger.

I find that chili supplies go on sale in the late fall so I stock up on canned diced tomatoes, canned chili beans and tomato sauce. I buy enough to last me until the following year. Chili is one of those concoctions that you can make with a lot of meat, a little meat or with no meat. I have made chili with ground beef, ground pork or ground turkey and have loved each batch.

We serve chili with garlic bread or toasted cheese sandwiches. I have also served it topped with grated cheese and used corn chips as a dipper into the chili.


Yes bread machines are convenient as they make one loaf at a time and all you have to do is push a button and it mixes, kneads and bakes the dough. You don’t even have to be home while it bakes the bread.

Amy looked at the time aspect first. Amy and her staff borrowed several bread machines. It took less than 5 minutes to add the ingredients to the bread machine and that was it. But it only makes 1 loaf. Also a bread machine can take up quite a bit of space on your counter.

In contrast using the hand knead method you can bake four loaves at a time. Of course you have to be around for a few hours while the bread rises and bakes.

Amy also talked about a gizmo called a bread bucket. It is a manual hand cranked bucket that when you turn the crank it kneads the bread dough. Evidently they have been around for years.

This is how her tests ended up with the cost analysis (remember this was 1995). The cost of a store bought loaf of bread was $1.49, frozen bread dough was 69 cents, thrift store was 57 cents, homemade was 27 cents and bread machine bread was 26 cents a loaf.

In the end Amy concluded that a bread machine was neither a time saver nor a big money saver. With a little planning, traditional bread making can fit into a busy life as easily as the bread machine method per Amy.

Baking bread is not essential to the tightwad lifestyle. Amy and her family were able to purchase very high quality bread at a bakery thrift shop for the times when life was too hectic for baking homemade bread.

I have a bread machine that has sat on a basement shelf for a few years. I prefer to make my homemade bread, three loaves at a time, and then freeze the loaves. I keep thinking that someday I will resurrect the bread machine for those busy times, but I keep forgetting about it. I love to knead bread dough. I could use the dough attachment on my Kitchen Aid mixer, but I prefer (and enjoy) to do it by hand.

Bread machines have been on the market for a very long time now and if you want one, I would search at garage sales for one. When I was working I did enjoy using my bread machine. There was something about coming home from work to the smell of fresh bread.

Baking bread from scratch does not appeal to everyone. So if you have a bread machine or find one at a garage sale, by all means use it as often as you can to make your own bread. I would avoid buying those expensive bread machine mixes. For the price of one mix you could buy a lot of the basic supplies for baking the bread using a recipe.

For tomorrow’s reading, read pages 157 through 166. In this section is in my opinion one of the most interesting articles that Amy ever wrote. It is called “Create a Breakfast Muffin” and she gives you what you need to know to create your own muffins from what you have on hand.

May 04, 2011

Tightwad Gazette II - Day 17 - May 4th

It’s almost 11:00 p.m. and I’m tired from painting today so let’s just get right to the Tightwad Gazette II reading for today. All of this information comes from the Tightwad Gazette II written by Amy Dacyczyn. I have underlined my comments.


Amy talks about how you use up all that you have canned and frozen from your garden but make what you have last until next year’s harvest? You want to make it last, but you don’t want to have a surplus from last year still on the shelf as you are canning this year’s produce.

Home canned goods can last a couple of years on the shelf, but frozen vegetables tend to taste like the freezer after one year.

Usually gardeners will end up in the spring with 10 cans of 1 item and 2 of another so then the family eats a lot of one item while they are out of almost everything else. No one wants to eat corn 4 times a week.

Amy said that if she did use the garden produce evenly throughout the year, her food bill would fluctuate greatly. So she created her own system for keeping track of home processed foods. Since in her area of the country vegetables are harvested from June to October, she would schedule vegetables accordingly. She also wanted a system that would schedule canned and frozen food consumption together as opposed to a notebook by her freezer and another notebook in the canned goods area of her cellar.

The first thing Amy did was take inventory of everything in her freezer and on her canning shelves. Then she made up a timeline calendar. On the left side she would list vertically the items in her freezer and on her canning shelves. Examples are applesauce, green beans, black berries, pears, spinach and so on. Then across the top she would write vertically the Months. 

                                   April           May           June

Green Beans            X X X          X X            X X X

Noting the projected date of the harvest, she divided the number of items by the number of remaining months. For example if she had 20 packages of spinach to consume in four months, she would need to use up 5 packages in each of those four months. She marks these in X’s on the chart.

Months of light consumption should be used in the summer months when you will be eating fresh produce from the garden. If you have a small garden, you might want to use the winter months to use the bulk of your home processed foods as that is when those items are most expensive at the grocery store.

When Amy uses something she places a circle around the X.

Amy ends this article with “This garden schedule illustrates a larger point. If you lack control over any area of your life, be it time, money, or other resources – design a system to manage it. Order will save you stress as well as money.”

I love her system and I think I will integrate this into the one I already have. I don’t garden, but I have a stockpile of food that I am constantly keeping track of. For example, I am diligent about using up canned goods before their expiration dates. I review my list to see what needs to be used up each month so that there are no surprises.

After I am done with the graduation party and graduation this month, I am going to do some major decluttering in my house so that I can be more organized. I am looking forward to it.


“A dilemma that faces gardeners each year is whether to buy new seeds or take a chance on seeds left over from last year. Many gardeners, believing that seeds become much less viable each year, toss out all of the leftovers and buy a new batch just to be sure.”

According to “The Year Round Gardener” only onion seeds need to be purchased fresh each year. Here is the average storage limit of seeds:

One to Two years – corn, lettuce, parsley and parsnips

Three to Five years – asparagus, beans, cabbage, carrots, celery, chicory, endive, okra, peas, peppers, radishes and spinach.

Five or more years – beets, cucumbers and tomatoes

It is recommended that you store seeds in airtight containers in a refrigerator. If you don’t have the space in a refrigerator, store them in a cool, dry place.

If you aren’t sure about the seeds, you can do your own germination test a few weeks before planting. Sandwich ten seeds in a paper towel and keep it moist. If at least seven sprout, your seeds are as viable as new ones.


Amy believes that every family should have a basic budget plan, but that plan should be extremely simple and flexible. Filling out a lot of forms each day, week or month can be a little tedious.

1. Figure out your average monthly fixed expenses. Any bills that occurred annually were divided by 12 so that they could set aside the money each month.

2. Figure out your average monthly non-fixed expenses.

At this point they had accounted for every expense they could anticipate. If your monthly income fluctuates wildly, base it on last year’s income divided by 12, and put a huge amount into savings in case your income goes down next year.

After Amy and her husband had worked out their expenses and income, they figured that they had about $500 a month surplus or 20% of her husband’s income. If this amount would have been 10% or less, they would have done some refiguring of the nonfixed expenses so that they had at least a 20% monthly surplus.

It may be difficult to do, but in order to cut back and have more of a surplus, you need to cut back on those nonfixed expenses such as food, eating out, entertainment, gasoline, haircuts and more.

Amy and her husband wrote down everything they spent so that they could be sure to stay on track and not overspend. Amy sees a budget as a beginning point. Instead of looking at what you can spend, look at what you can reduce to save. She recommends lowering each budget area until you reach a point where it no longer feels comfortable, and then spend slightly more.

Amy and her husband kept a base sum of $1,000 in their checking account. Because they sought to spend as little as possible, the checking account grew. When the account reached $1,500, they would transfer $500 into savings. When their savings grew to $3,500 they would transfer $1,000 into an investment or pay off a debt.

One question that Amy was asked all the time was how they handled emergencies. She plans her budget to include any emergencies you can anticipate. If you drive an old car, plan on spending $1,000 or more with today’s prices, on repairs.

“By deliberately living beneath our means we have always, I repeat, always, had enough money in savings for unexpected expenses. And because we always worked to save more than we had budgeted, even with emergencies, we saved an average of 21 percent of our income for seven years.”

Amy ends the article by saying that this is the system that has worked for them but everyone is different when it comes to money. “For those with low incomes or little discipline, a more complicated and tedious system may be essential.”


Amy read a book about dumpster diving and did some research. She profiled one dumpster diver who dives for everything including his food. For food he chooses to look in dumpsters at grocery stores and bakeries. About 50% of the food he eats comes from dumpsters.

I remember watching a documentary about two months ago in which a woman gets all of her food from dumpsters. She lives in New York City and she takes people on dumpster tours to find food. When they went in one dumpster there were wrapped packages of produce, meat, cheese, bagels and more. I remember that she knew when the grocery stores or restaurants tossed things out so she could get to the dumpster shortly after. She was living the Freegan lifestyle.

The man that Amy profiled found a lot of things in dumpsters such as manila envelopes, clothing, clothes hangers, furnishings, boxes, houseplants, Christmas decorations, toiletry items, books, magazines and more.

Wear old clothes when you go dumpster diving, but do try to stay out of the dumpster all together. Use a broom handle or something similar to pick around the contents of the dumpster.

I have never dumpster dived, but I have driven by grocery stores late at night to see them throwing out loaves of bread and things. I never think about getting the items out of that dumpster, but I think about why they don’t donate those items to the food bank.

If anything, the contents of dumpsters or our garbage cans tell us how much we throw out. If we don’t have a use, out it goes. Instead we should try to give things away or donate them to someone who could use them. And as for food, we need to plan for those leftovers so we aren’t throwing out so much food.

For tomorrow, read pages 147 through 156.