December 29, 2011

New Dishes from Goodwill

I had never shopped at a Goodwill store until this fall.  I went in to Goodwill looking for a jean jacket and found one for a couple of dollars.  I was sold on Goodwill.  Two weeks ago I shopped at Goodwill and found the perfect winter jacket for $5.00.  It was exactly what I was looking for and again, I was happy with the price I paid and the quality of the jacket. 

Goodwill had become the place I shopped first when a clothing need came up.  Two weeks ago I wandered into Goodwill to see what kitchen items they had for sale. 

I have always wanted some Fiesta Ware dishes, but never wanted to pay the price for a set of these dishes.  I had priced them and they were just out of my price range.  When I was at Goodwill looking for some kitchen stuff, I spied a Fiesta Ware knock off.  I really wanted them and the price was only $9.99 for the 8 place settings. 

Guess what I did?  I walked out of the store and decided to think about it.  I broke a cardinal rule as a shopper of Goodwill. If you see something you like, you stick it in the cart right away.  If you don't, there is a good chance it will be gone when you go back to buy it.

Well, I wanted to think about it for a couple of days and I was prepared for it being sold to someone else before I could buy it.  Yes, it was hard, but I really wanted to think about. 

When I returned a couple of days later, they were still there.  Why did I want to take some time to think about it?  Because I really wanted to think over if I could use these dishes to compliment what I already had.  Yes, for some people $10 is a drop in the hat, but I have learned that I could go hog wild at Goodwill and spend a lot of money on a bunch of stuff just because everything is priced at a low bargain price.

Here are the dishes: 

They coordinate with my corelle dishes:

And they work well with my grandmother's Franciscan Ware that we use only at Christmas and Easter: 

While I was at Goodwill I found two plates that I really liked for $1.00 each.  I liked the colors on the plate and find that these two plates work well with the dishes too.

And I also found some mugs that I could mix and match for only 50 cents:

And last, I found these old kitchen pans that I will use in my kitchen to hold things and perhaps a few to use as planters.

Buddy likes to get in the pictures I take. 

So for around $17.00 I was able to get all of the above at Goodwill and I am absolutely thrilled to have dishes to mix and match and play around with. 

I had so much fun doing this.  What made it fun?  Finding the mix and match items, being patient and putting off any purchases for a few days while I thought about it, the price and the satisfaction of finding a cheaper version of something that I have always wanted.

I'm tickled pink (or should I say gold).  AND I used my Christmas money to pay for it. 

You know what else?  I could have boxed these dishes up and given them as a gift which means Goodwill will be one of my first stops for gift giving from now on.

December 27, 2011

Christmas is Over - Time to get back to Normal

In the midst of the Christmas unwrapping mess.
We had an enjoyable Christmas celebration and it is time to try to get back to normal - which means I need to be here at this blog posting.  Now when I say I "need", that means that I need to be here because I enjoy it. 

For Christmas I received some nice gifts from my family such as a faux fur scarf that easily wraps around my neck, a little beaded bag to hold my cell phone and a couple of Amazon gift cards.

I have been on Amazon trying to decide what I would buy with these gift cards.  There isn't a need to hurry on this but it is kind of fun to have some gift cards "to burn."  

I have been looking at some books on how to deconstruct clothing and such.  I'm not making any big decisions as of yet, but I am totally into taking jeans, as an example, and making them into tote bags, skirts or whatever.  Also I want to spend more time sewing and I could use a good sewing book. 

2012 is the year to finish painting and decorating the downstairs of our house.  This means the diningroom (I'm thinking of a rust color), the kitchen, the hallway, my son's bedroom and the guest bedroom which is the bedroom that our college girls will be living in. 

I want to sew all of the decor for these rooms and do it on a budget.  So I need ideas and have found that it is worth purchasing a good idea book, used of course.  I have about 6 on my wish list on Amazon and I will set them aside to look at in another week and make my choice. 

Retro Fabric I purchased - 2 yards only available
I want to use a 1960's retro decor for the girls' room.  They like that idea too.  So I have been on the hunt for 60's retro things.  I had a floor lamp given to me about 3 weeks ago and it is absolutely perfect.  I have found retro 60's fabric at Wal-mart that can be used for curtains and pillows and other items.  See the photo above.  I also need to come up with quilts or bedspreads and the budget is a low $100.  I set the budget as I feel it will be like a game or challenge to see what I can come up with. 

I have been scouring stores for clearance items and I have been to Goodwill.  I need bedding for the bunk beds and I am hoping that if I cannot find identical bedding that at least we can find complimentary bedding.  Or I can find a bedspread that can be remade into something else for the room. 

Lastly I have lost 3 lbs. since the beginning of the month which totally makes me smile.  Yes, smile.  I made healthy food choices through the Christmas weekend and I allowed myself some treats - in moderation. 

December 18, 2011

A gift I am giving

I found a perfect gift to give this year.  After an earlier post about the cost of gift giving and such, I am happy to post about a gift I am giving and it only cost $15.  This is one of those gifts that fit the budget and will also be a gift that the recipient will really enjoy and it is very useful.

One of the ladies at our church had a Janet basket and she carried everything in it she needed for church.  She had her Bible, her lessons for the Sunday School class she taught and many other items stored in it.  I really liked it. 

So I went to good ole Amazon and found one.  Here is what a Janet Basket looks like:

These baskets come in all sorts of pretty designs.  There are two sizes:  large and small.  I purchased the small Janet basket on Amazon about 1 month ago for $15 and at the time the vendor was offering free shipping.  The dimensions are 9 inches by 16 inches and it is about 10 inches in depth.  The frame is aluminum and the fabric is a very sturdy canvas.

Who will receive this gift?  My mother in law.  I know that this will be a gift that she will enjoy.  It can be used on Sundays to carry her Bible and other items to church or she can put her work related items in it and use it in her car.  It could double as a perfect craft carrier or could be used to take to the grocery store for light shopping trips.  There is a zipper pouch on the outside which is quite handy and the entire basket folds flat. 

So, I got a bargain gift that I know my mother-in-law will really like.  Now, if only I could receive the same thing. 

Losing weight before the New Year Begins

I gained 10 lbs. since January from being on Paxil.   Back in January I had some issues with working out at home, namely I was lonely and it had begun to get boring.  I joined Curves as I needed an alternative that was affordable.  By the end of February I had lost about 2 lbs. and had toned up and lost inches.  The best day was when I put on a pair of capris and they fit with a little snuggness. I was on my way. 

Unfortunately it was about that time that I started to feel the side  effects of Paxil - weight gain.  So the lbs. came on at about 1 lb. per month until I am where I am today - 151 lbs.  My goal is to get down to 135 lbs. 

I find it hard to lose weight on my own.  I need help and accountability.  I also want to prepare my own food as I know what I  like and what works for me.  

I now know what most women realize deep down, but we really don't want to face.  We get to a certain age and the weight starts to creep on and we can't eat like we did when we were in our 20's.  It's hard to face this but we can eat many of the foods we love, just in moderation and then we need to get our "back sides" moving and exercise. 

I followed Weight Watchers when I needed to lose the baby weight some 17 years ago and it worked for me.  Everyone has to find a plan that works for them, mine is Weight Watchers. 

Soo -- although it is not frugal, I have joined Weight Watchers. Not frugal from the standpoint that I am now paying $18.95 per month for their on-line tools and accountability. Add that to my Curves Membership and I am paying $55 a month for fitness.

If I could not afford this, I would work out at home, walk and count calories. It would be more of a struggle for me, but I could do it. 

I'm really hoping that now that I am off Paxil that the drug will be out of my system by the end of January and I will see the "fruits of my labor" - 5 servings a day that is.

December 13, 2011

Paxil free

I have successfully weaned myself off of Paxil.  It took me around 2 months to get the job done and it was a struggle.  I still have some of the side effects of withdrawal but each day they diminish.  I went on Paxil 1 year ago when I was having trouble with OCD that got completely out of control when I was having some issues with depression. 

Why did I feel it was time go off the drug?  I was tired of the side effects of being on Paxil, namely being sleepy no matter how much sleep I got at night and the weight gain.   It took me about 4 months to make the decision to wean off of Paxil as I wanted to make sure that the depression did not return.  I also discussed this possibility with my doctor. 

Anti-depressants have their place and for me Paxil got me through a very tough spot last year.  Now I have a lot of activities going on in my life that keep me happily busy and I get out of the house more than I used to. 

If you're taking an anti-depressant and want to go off, do not do this until you talk with your doctor and get his/her input.  My doctor asked me a lot of questions and started a dialogue with me to make sure I wasn't one of those "I feel better now, so I'm going to quit taking my medication."  In my case, he agreed that if I was ready, then I could start to wean myself off.  However, he also talked with me about what I would feel in the way of side effects and that if the symptoms of OCD or depression started to return, I was to call him immediately. 

Life is good.

December 08, 2011


I got out of the habit of blogging while I was sick, but I am back at it.  The past week I have been trying to get the furnishings out of our den in order to transform it back into a bedroom for the college girls that are coming to live with us.  The problem is what to do with all of that stuff.  Fortunately our son and his wife have a large basement and they have offered to take the sofa sleeper if it doesn’t fit in the room with the bunk beds.  We have left it up to the girls. 

The den used to be our oldest son’s bedroom.  After he got married we started to make it into our den.  In that room is a small sofa sleeper, t.v. and stand, 2 file cabinets, 4 DVD storage shelves and our dog, Buddy’s, dog kennel.  Now the majority of that stuff is being moved to our upstairs, which means I am again moving stuff around and making room for everything.

One of my readers, Dani, made a comment recently that really got me thinking about how I have the majority of my work spaces spread out throughout the house.  I had a desk set up in a small room that also houses most of our book shelves, a sewing area in an alcove, a crafting area in another alcove and an area that has junk stuff in it that I need to sort through.   This reader was correct in that having things spread out isn’t very efficient and it just doesn’t make much sense.  But frankly I couldn't see how it could work any differently, until I actually started rearranging things.

I am working to stream line these areas.  I don’t like having things spread out, but sometimes you have to be forced to step back and take a new look at the spaces in your house. 

It is my goal to have everything sorted through and in good shape by next Friday.  I’m around 1/3 there and I am seeing results in how my home is looking which is keeping me motivated. 

I have two areas in my life that I struggle with:  procrastination and cleaning/decluttering.  These traits do not work well with someone pursuing a frugal lifestyle.  In fact, these traits work against a frugal lifestyle.  How?  I find myself struggling to find things which can lead to frustration which can lead to spending money on an item I already have and just can’t find.   Putting tasks off or procrastinating leads to frustration by not getting things done in a timely manner.  Laundry is an example and planning for meals.  Yes, these are the things that I fight with every day of my life. 

But this week I have seen the fruits of my labors.  I have been taking all of those items from the den and moving them upstairs – not all at once, but a little bit at a time.  It is getting done and  I am excited to see the decluttering and rearranging/organizing finally getting done.

I will post pictures when I am finished. 

December 01, 2011

Big News?? I think so . . .

but you may disagree.

Here is my big news (maybe you will be disappointed to find out that I am not pregnant at age 52). 

What has paying off bills and getting out of debt done for us?  We are able to help others in a big way. 

We have come to know some college students that attend the local university.  They have been attending our church and have been in our home for what I call "dinner, movie and laundry night."  Yes, they do their laundry, eat with us and we watch a movie together.  One week we watched the movie Jaws and I had forgotten what a great movie that was. 

In order to save money and to ease the financial stress of paying for college, we offered two of the girls the opportunity to come and live with us beginning in January.  They have accepted.

Our den, which used to be our oldest son's bedroom, is being transformed into a "dorm" room for them.  The first thing I had to do was find bunk beds.  I checked Craigslist, sent an e-mail out to people in our church, looked on free-cycle and checked the ads in the newspaper.

Since I didn't have another choice, I checked the furniture store and they had a great sale.  I was able to buy a sturdy set of wood bunk beds along with 2 nice mattresses.  That is all we need for that room.  The girls have a small dresser and a desk.  There is a t.v. in that room and I have an old livingroom comfy chair I will put in that room. 

Why are we doing this?  Because it is the right thing to do.  I want these girls to finish college and I want them to finish college without worrying about finances.  

I ran out of money when I was in my Junior year of college and I never have finished my Bachelor's degree.  If someone would have offered to do this for me, I would have my B.A. today.

There is a third girl who is a freshman and she cannot live off campus during her freshman year.  We have offered her a way of saving money by providing her meals.  She can eat with us and/or we can prepare meals with her help on a weekend and she can pick them up. 

When you cut back and pay off your bills, you are able to put money in savings and you are also free to be able to help others.   What we are doing may not be comfortable for everyone to do.  It is for us. 

My father-in-law is a minister and my husband grew up in a home where people were always welcome.  I grew up in a home that was open and welcoming to people.  My parents took in girls that had aged out of the "children's home" at age 18.  My parents gave them a home while they went to business college or nursing school. 

So our families have a history of helping others.  It was modeled to us.  Some people would not be comfortable with taking in college students into their home.  We prayed about it and we feel that this is why we are here at this time and in this financial situation so that we can help others. 

Please don't read this and think I am bragging.  I am not and I hope that none of you feel that way. 

What does this mean now?  I have 2 (or possibly) 3 more mouths to feed.  The water bill will be higher too.  We have paid off bills and we have more wiggle room in our budget. 

Today as I grocery shopped I spent a lot more money than I normally do as I had some really great coupons for sale items.  I was able to pick up Oatmeal for $1.99 for a 42 oz. canister; flour for 88 cents for a 5 lb. bag, butter for $1.88 lb., polish sausage for only 98 cents for a 12 oz. package (great in my homemade potato soup), Tide powder (22 load size) for only $3.00.  I will mix this powdered Tide with my homemade powdered laundry soap to extend the Tide.  I also bought Era liquid laundry soup (32 load size) for only $2.00.  I was able to get a good quality shampoo and conditioner for 88 cents a bottle.   

There were more great deals and I stocked up.  I'm not sure how much our food bill will increase and it will take several weeks for me to come up with a normal food budget beginning in January.  One thing I do know and that is the past two years have prepared me for this.  I know how to save money, to extend the use of many household items and how to prepare delicious, frugal meals.  I can do this.

I'm not writing this post to brag.  Not everyone is up to this type of situation.  College students are struggling in our community and this is our way of helping out a few of them.  Perhaps you can help by contributing to a food drive specifically for college students.  Maybe you can even take the lead and start one on your own.  Some students can't afford to even buy clothes at thrift stores as money is so tight.  What about a clothing drive?

I hope you aren't disappointed with my big news.  But I think being pregnant at 52 would go beyond big news and be more big shock and awe!!!

Feeling so much better

I am feeling so much better today.  I haven't been that sick for a very, very long time.  When I was a child I would get sinus infections, sore throats and tonsilitis all the time.  When I was 15 years old I had my tonsils and adenoids removed and after that I would get an occasional cold.

This was different.  I was flat on my back sick for several days.  Thank goodness for antibiotics. 

I do have some big news.  I will tell you all about it in my next post which I promise will be later today as I don't want to make you wait long.  I will give you a hint.  Frugality has made it possible for my family to help others out in a big way.