December 11, 2013

"A Place at the Table" - A Documentary that is Changing My Life

One month ago I posted about how I was wondering what it would be like to have to live on food stamps as your sole source of food money. I asked you, my readers to help me by coming up with some scenarios. I will still be posting my ideas but – a lot has happened since then. I have been too busy – too busy in fact to put up my Christmas tree yet.

One day a neighbor from a block away came to my house and asked if I had a frozen chicken that he could have. I had a whole chicken and I gave it to him. Have you ever had a neighbor come to your home asking for food? How hard was that to do? Right after I posted that article, I came across a documentary on Netflix called “A Place at the Table.” I streamed it and watched it a couple of times.

This documentary came out in 2012. On Netflix it is described as follows “Using personal stories, this powerful documentary illuminates the plight of the 49 million Americans struggling with food insecurity. A single mother, a small-town policeman and a farmer are among those for whom putting food on the table is a daily battle.” This documentary is every enlightening and I am asking as many of my followers as possible to watch this.

If you don’t have Netflix, ask your public library to get this documentary. Why? You will be surprised at what you learn. This documentary dispels the myths about hunger and poverty that you may have. Also it describes terms such as “Food Deserts” where fresh fruits and vegetables are not available or the fact that someone living in an inner city setting has to take a bus to a grocery store that takes 2 hours round trip. It also tells the story of one minister trying to feed the people in his small community. One person is a police officer who now goes to the food pantry for food for his family. He hasn’t had a raise in 4 years and with the cost of food going up, his paycheck just doesn’t make it to the end of the month.

This documentary has some Hollywood backing in Jeff Bridges. He, along with his brother, Beau, have been talking about hunger in America for years. This documentary goes you historical background and also shows you what people are up against. For example, the single mom who finally gets a job, but her income is just a little bit too much and and she no longer qualifies for SNAP or child care assistance. She’s worse off working; then when she was on unemployment and assistance. Her food situation is dire. Stress from not being able to provide can make a person so sick. (No matter what you think about people on food assistance, always remember that the babies and children have no say in their parent’s choices for how they spend their SNAP funds.)

Something is wrong when we live in the greatest nation in the world and yet we have children living with little food. The other problem is health related. Living on high processed, high carbohydrate food means obesity and type 2 diabetes and other health problems. Fresh fruits and vegetables are too expensive for many people. After I saw this documentary, I purchased a DVD that came out 15 years ago starring Beau Bridges as a widower with two children and his struggle with unemployment and feeding his two children. It is called “Hidden in America.” It portrays someone who wants to work and is actively looking for work and doesn’t want to be on assistance. He tries so hard, but in the end he has to go to apply for food assistance and goes to a food bank.  This is a gut wrenching story that sheds the light on hunger, especially with his kids.

Here is the problem: we don’t give our children adequate nutrition and they perform poorly in school. In our school district alone there are over 50% of the children on free lunches and breakfasts. However, the USDA guidelines leave nutrition to the side when it comes to the school meals. High fat, high carbohydrate food is on the menu. Heat and eat foods is what kids get more and more.

After viewing the documentary and film, I went ahead and purchased the participant’s book given the same name as the documentary, “A Place at the Table.” I have been reading it a chapter at a time each night. This book is a great companion to the documentary and it goes into detail where the documentary can’t. Why? It would take another 2 hours to get it all down on film. For example, one chapter deals with the history of food stamps and how it came into being in 1939. The initial program helped farms and the poor by offering fresh fruits and vegetables and other extra farm commodities at a reduced rate that could be purchased with food stamps. Over the years the program morphed into allowing more foods to be purchased with food stamps, such as soda drinks.  Don’t believe everything you hear on the news, do the research yourself. Call your library and ask to get that book perhaps through an inter library loan.

After a couple of weeks of watching documentaries and reading and researching, I received an e-mail from a friend at church. A nearby college was hosting a hunger and homelessness awareness week. The friend asked me if I would like to attend a few of the events with her. I was very excited to go and learn more. The first night they showed the documentary “A Place at the Table.” The next night we were invited to a panel discussion. Four panelists were present: one was the director of a local food pantry; one was a director of a large homeless shelter, one was from an organization that helps to fill the gaps in between charities and one person who promotes community gardens and individual gardens for individuals to grow their own produce.

The 3rd night was an OXFAM banquet. I was given the role of being a middle income individual and was served rice and beans. There were guest speakers from the World Food Bank and a professor who is teaching a class on Food and Justice.

OKAY – why am I telling you this? We all want to leave this life having made a difference and I am finding my niche.

Between me and my friend, we have solicited a few other like minded women at our church to work on poverty and hunger in our community. We are in the process of interviewing 15 local charities to find out their purpose, their needs and their vision for our community to aid in this issue. In January when we meet and report our findings to each other, it is our goal to find a “gap” in meeting the needs of the hungry and poor in our community. We don’t want to overlap or try to fill a need that is already being met.

 I’m not sure where we will find the gap, but I am guessing that we may start a weekend food backpack program in our elementary school, summer time meals for children when school is out, or even a breakfast program at our church for students in High School. Most of these students could get a free breakfast, but how many poor High School students want that stigma?

We will concentrate our efforts on one program. I am passionate to do something.

I want to also find a way to reduce our expenses as much as possible so that we can get money in the bank for our retirement. I have no idea what the cost of living will be in 11 years when we retire, but I am now feeling as if we need to set aside more money for food and other incidentals. If anything, I could save money so that when there is a hunger need, I can help meet it.

November 10, 2013

Food Insecurity is just a fancy word for Hunger

I am beginning to research hunger especially among children in my community.  I'm not sure why this came to mind one day, but it did.  I have never gone hungry although when I was a child food was scarce when my dad's union went on strike.  We still ate, but at times it was just oatmeal.  I don't remember feeling hungry as the oatmeal filled me up, I just wished I had more choices.

Recently the government cut back on food assistance benefits (SNAP program) effective November 1st.  I know that there are people who abuse the system.  There will always be abusers, however I know that there are more people in need that don't abuse the system versus those that do.  Of particular interest to me are the children.  No matter what choices the parents make, children have no decisions in the matter.  In our country it is beyond my comprehension why a child should go without food.  

Many families are under employed or have been unemployed for a long time.  Having access to food is a priority and in my opinion is the right of every American.  This country produces enough food for all of us, it's just that some of us can afford food and some of us can't.

I have been watching videos on You Tube regarding people on SNAP and what it is like to be a mother and not be able to feed her children.  I have watched many videos produced by "Feeding America."  All of this got me to wonder what it would be like to be a single mom receiving SNAP benefits for her and her school aged son during the summer months.  This means no free school breakfast, lunch or after school program because it is summer.  So, what would this look like? It looks like $1.40 per person per meal.  

Instead of going on the food stamp challenge myself, I want to come up with meals on the above limited amount of money for 1 week for this type of scenario:  single mom with a school age son.  I am going to use the advertisement from the nearest grocery store and make up a list of food choices as if I am living in poverty.   I am assuming that I won't have a car and will have to walk to the nearest store for groceries.  

Here is what I would like from my readers:  I need your help in setting up this scenario.  

1.  What items would you think this type of person would have on hand that I wouldn't have to buy on my first shopping trip?  For example, ketchup, mustard, sugar, flour, soy sauce, salt, pepper, chili powder, garlic powder.  What do you think someone would have in their cupboard?  You may think that someone in a dire situation wouldn't have any of the above, and if so, let me hear from you.

2.  I have never been to a food pantry.  In our community I know that I would need to be referred.  Let's say that I get a referral, give me a list of a few items you think I would be able to get from my local food pantry for the week.  Set the situation for me.  

3.  Give me any other ideas to set this situation up.  Be brutal as I want to really have this as a challenge just as if I was this mom, underemployed, and struggling to feed my son.  I want to experience the sadness, fear and pain of figuring this all out.

So, give me your ideas so I can set up the challenge for myself.

November 06, 2013

On Grandmothering and Keeping House

Posting can be a challenge when you care for an 8 month old 4 days a week.  I remember caring for a baby was a lot easier when I was in my 20's than in my 50's.  

I have spent this past week catching up on housework. It is hard sometimes to clean my house as I start to make a list of all the things that need to be repaired, painted or replaced and I tend to get side tracked.  I think I will start to call myself "building manager."

On Saturday it took me 6 hours to deep clean my living room, entryway, hallway and dining room.  Our old house has the original old narrow wooden floors.  They aren't sealed.  The previous owners put in an in house vacuum system so I use it to vacuum the hard wood floors, but with a dog those floors quickly look furry after a couple of days.  So, it was time to not only vacuum but to get down on the floor and clean them.  

My mom used to spray her dust mop with a light spritz of soapy water.  Then she would dust mop the floor and the dust would cling to the mop.  Again, it was a light spritz and she didn't soak the mop.  On Saturday I took a cloth and spritzed it with a mist of water and cleaned the baseboards and did the same to my hard wood floors.  In a couple of weeks when I have more time I will mop the floors with Murphy's wood oil soap.  I also used a separate cloth spritzed with soapy water to wipe down my old upright piano (that I painted a shiny black a few years back).

Dusting, mopping, vacuuming area rugs and working on the hard wood floors, cleaning cob webs off the ceiling and putting clutter away and taking trash out wore me out.  But the result was that after 6 hours I had 4 thoroughly clean areas in my down stairs.  These rooms are the ones that are most visible from the front door.

Today I vacuumed again (that darn dog fur) and deep cleaned the downstairs bathroom.  I don't watch my grandson on Wednesdays, as I need a day off.  Tomorrow I can straighten up the den and downstairs bedroom.  This is easily done with Ryan playing in the room that I am quickly working on.  On Friday my son and his wife have the day off so Ryan won't be at my house and I will spend the day deep cleaning my kitchen. 

The end result is that by Friday evening my entire downstairs will have been deep cleaned within a period of one week.  Then the challenge will be to keep it up, which I should be able to do by devoting an hour a day to cleaning.  

When Ryan is at my house I do a little housework, mostly laundry and some pick up.  I can't do much with a little guy crawling around and I find that my day is spent caring for him, playing with him and catching moments of housework when he is napping.  

This weekend I plan to tackle the upstairs but I know that it will take two weekends to clean out closets and deep clean.  I find that once things are in good order, I want to maintain that order no matter what.  It's just getting there and once you do get there, you feel like the queen of your home.

Which brings me to grand mothering.  As I stated I watch Ryan Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday each week.  He arrives at 6:30 a.m. and goes home when my son is done teaching for the day.  This depends on students staying after school for help, which I think is an awesome thing that he does.  So Ryan could be at my house until 4:30 some nights.  

I am finding that I am not the normal grandmother.  Most grandmothers do not watch their grandchildren as I do. One person told me that no way would she ever be doing what I am doing as she had already raised her children.  It's not for everyone and I understand it.   However, I am a bit old fashioned and I feel that families need to support each other as much as possible.  I also like the idea of Ryan being watched by family members as much as possible.  

Childcare is expensive but that is not my primary motivation to watch Ryan.  I want Ryan to grow up knowing that he is loved not only by his parents, but by extended family.  I also want my son and his wife to have the kind of support that my husband and I never had.  

When we were raising our two sons, we did not have parents to help us out.  My parents lived in New York and my husband's parents at one time were living in California.  Family lived far away and we only had each other.  We never had the luxury of grandparents caring for our children a day a week or even when we wanted to go to a movie.  We were used to it as it was our normal, but it was difficult many times.  

Yes I don't get a lot done many times when I am watching Ryan but I wouldn't trade the time I spend with him.  I know that I am helping to raise a confident and happy little boy and when it comes down to it, that is the most important thing I can do right now.

One other thing about grandmothering, when I am caring for Ryan I know my role as his grandmother.  If I think he is getting sick, I text his mother about this and let her make the decision if she needs to make a doctor's appointment or if he needs some Tylenol,  I know my place.  I am on the support team; my son and his wife are the parents and Ryan's primary care givers.  

The only way for grandmothering to work is to recognize that you know your place.  You have raised your children, but when you become a grandmother you get a second chance to have a powerful impact on a little baby's life.  

October 22, 2013

Frugal Tip - Heels of Bread

In my family, no one seems to want to eat the heels of bread.  Yes, I am included, unless the heels are still fresh.  What do I do with the heels?  I don’t throw them out!!  I keep a bread bag in the freezer and put the heels of bread in a bread bag until it is full.  I use them up by making French toast, use as bread crumbs in a meat loaf recipe, make homemade croutons, brush with butter and sprinkle with a little bit of garlic for garlic toast, or make grilled cheese sandwiches by buttering the outside and putting the heel towards the cheese slice.  I would make bread pudding, but I am the only one that would eat it.  As a last resort if you run out of bread, you at least have a bag of heels in the freezer to use.  

October 20, 2013

Higher Prices, Lower Wages

There was an article in the Des Moines Register today that confirmed what everyone already knows, prices have gone up.  The premise of the article was that many people have not recovered from the Great Recession because prices have gone up and wages have gone down.  Okay, I already knew that, but the article gave statistical information which I found quite interesting.

In Iowa the median household income in 2007 was $52,371 and in 2012 was $50,957.  In the U.S. as a whole the median household income in 2007 was $56,189 and in 2012 was $51,371.  Americans are paying about 12.5% more for household goods.  In 2007 a pound of ground beef cost $2.40 and in August of this year a pound cost $3.46.  A loaf of whole wheat bread in 2007 cost $1.71 while in August of this year a loaf cost $2.04.  A pound of coffee was $3.50 in 2007 and in August of this year a pound was $5.21.  Gasoline has consistently fluctuated over the past few years and has increased to the point that it was not uncommon in Iowa to pay an average of $3.37 by the end of August this year.  Fortunately as of today, the price of a gallon of gas in our area is $2.97. 

Many Americans continue to feel the pinch as they are still cutting back, have tried to adjust to lower wages, higher costs, have lost their homes, jobs, are having problems paying their mortgage and have increased credit card debt in order to pay basic bills. 

The recent fiasco in Congress created more financial problems for many people which has led me to believe this:  we are on our own people.  I have stated this recently on this blog.  While thankfully there are programs that can be helpful for families, many people don’t want to have to need these programs.   It is comforting that they are there to help but when the government shut down occurred some of these resource programs were suspended such as the W.I.C. program (Women, Infants and Children).

I believe it is becoming the responsibility of each of us to take care of each other.  If you have a little extra and you have a neighbor in need, it is up to us to take care of our neighbors.  Sometimes we may not have a lot, but a loaf of bread or a half a gallon of milk can go a long way for someone who does not have much.

Recently I had an individual comment and ask what I am doing to combat higher prices.  I cut out some frills in our budget such as getting my nails done and working out at Curves to help our budget, but there is more that I can do.  I have become a little lax, but with retirement only 13 years away and the desire to continue to be a stay at home wife and grandmother, there is more I need to do. 

You know what it is like, you sacrifice for such a long time, you need a vacation from the sacrificing.  You get tired of counting pennies and you just want to go out to a restaurant and spend some money on a great meal.  I have been there.  Funny thing is this:  I can buy a 16 oz. steak on sale for $6.99 (recently $4.99), cut it in two, grill it, add a potato, small salad and a homemade dessert for a lot less than I will spend for the two of us at a great restaurant and it tastes better.  The same is true if I marinate some inexpensive chicken breasts and grill them with some vegetables.  The point is that sometimes you need to take a break from the scrimping but you don’t need to throw the budget out the window.  Sometimes it is creating a special meal and serve it by candle light OR as we did when our kids were little, having pizza on a blanket on the living room floor in the winter  - our version of a winter picnic.

When it comes to scrimping and getting the most out of your hard earned money, there is one thing that will save you a lot:  being aware of what you are doing daily.  I know it sounds weird, but think about it.  Are you aware when you run the water for a shower or bath how much water you are using?  When you squirt dish soap into the dish pan to wash dishes, are you using too much soap, the same being true for dishwasher detergent? When you cook a casserole could you get by with using less meat and more vegetables or pasta and rice?   Instead of purchasing ice cream bars and cones as a treat, buy a half gallon of ice cream on sale and put it in your own cones.  Sprinkle a few inexpensive sprinkles on top and you have a cheap treat for your kids.  Treats are great to keep us going during hard times.

One thing I know is a fact, you can still get great results in cleaning products by using less.  You can save even more money by making your own products or by using plain water to clean extremely dirty windows and then spritzing on the cleaner to finish them off.   The same is for dirty services of any kind.  Get the dirt or grime off as much as possible with warm or hot water and then spritz on the cleaner at the end to finish the cleaning process.

Be aware of what you are doing throughout the day and you will find ways to save money.  

As far as combating food prices, my main tool is my freezer and a storage space for pantry items.  Buying meat and frozen vegetables when they are on sale is a great tool.  If you only have the freezer above your fridge to use, then use it for expensive food items that go on sale such as meat. 

I am a believer in Ivory bar soap.  I can get it on sale with coupons all the time for about 15 cents a bar.  I am steering myself away from the shower gels which are costly.  I don’t need the fragrance as I spritz on a very light amount of perfume after I dress.  No need for the scents of a shampoo with a shower gel and then a lotion along with perfume.  Don’t buy into all of the hype and instead find a bar soap that is cheaper that you like. 

When I am at the store if I need a product and don’t have a coupon, I always give the store brand a try.  This is true for many items.  I am not brand loyal and I am always looking for a cheaper alternative.  For basic items such as canned tomatoes, pork n beans, and such I can virtually not see or taste a difference especially when these items are going into soup, chili and casseroles.  I have always added my own ingredients to pork n beans (ketchup, mustard, brown sugar and vinegar).  Why would I care if they are name brand, store brand or generic?  The same is true of laundry detergent.  If I get a name brand on sale at a really great deal, I buy it (during the summer I can get a great deal on Tide).  I reserve a bottle of  Tide, Wisk, Oxydol or other name brand for those wicked stains that won’t come out.  Then I mix the rest half and half with a store brand that I get on sale.  Once a year a store here in town has their store brand detergent on sale for $1.00 or less for a 29 load size.  I have also done the same with mixing sale bought name brand powdered detergent with the Fels Naptha powdered laundry soap recipe.

I use ivory bar soap (rub it into the stain and let it sit) or a small amount of liquid Dawn dish detergent for pretreating stains.   And since we are on the discussion of laundry, does each family need a ton of clothes in their closets? 

If you have children in the home and you are working, you will have a much more difficult time in saving money because you are busy and you may not have the time to do some money saving tasks.  I am going to address this in another post this week as I have been there and I am also there a little bit now with watching my grandson 4 days a week.  What questions do you have about saving money in general or in a specific area?  What help or ideas do you have or need?  Where are you at in your household budget?  Are you discouraged and struggling?  We may be facing a different America than was there 20 or 40 years ago, but if you are willing to put forth effort and keep a smile on your face, you can make it.  It is sometimes about attitude and the willingness to not give up. 

Leave a comment and I will address them.  

October 14, 2013

Giving up Acrylic Nails

I started getting acrylic nails back in November 2000 and continued for 13 years.  Acrylic nails are so easy to maintain and I never had to paint my nails as the color would stay for 2 weeks until I got the nails filled again.  

For those who have never had this process done, a nail tip is applied to your nail and then a gel like substance is placed over the tip to “fill it in.”  Then every two weeks as your nail grows out, you have to get the nail filled as the bottom of the acrylic nail has moved up because your natural nail has grown.

In order to get the acrylic tips and gel to adhere to the natural nail, the manicurist has to “sand down” the top of your nail.  The natural nail becomes thin.  I tried gel nails once and the process still involved sanding down the top of my nails.

When I decided that I couldn’t afford to have acrylic nails anymore, I knew that it would take a good 6 months or more to get my natural nails to return to their normal, healthy state.  It’s kind of like growing your hair out, at some point you want to give in and get your hair cut, but you get through the worse part of the growth process and then you are happy that you were patient.

The first month was brutal.  My nails broke off to the nubs and they flaked as they grew out.  My skin near the tip of the nail became very, very sore.  I applied a nail strengthener for the first month to help them along, however I stopped after a month because the strengthener was drying out the nail and causing more breakage.  So I have simply let my nails go totally natural – no strengthener and no polish.  I am trimming them very, very short as one of my nails continues to split and all of them are just becoming normal in thickness and health.  By the time December rolls around I am hoping that I can then allow the nails to grow out to the tips of my fingers.  They will be shorter than I ever had with acrylic nails, but they will be the perfect length for a grandma changing a lot of diapers.  Also I will then start to apply polish.

In order to protect my nails I wear gloves while cleaning or doing dishes and I also apply lotion to my hands frequently throughout the day to keep my hands and nails moisturized.

Vanity is what led to my decision to get acrylic nails.  I liked the look of pretty polished nails that I didn’t have to do myself.  When I worked in an office I was accustomed to handling a lot of papers and meeting with clients.  My hands and nails needed to look professional. 

I hung on to this luxury after I stayed home full time as I enjoyed this treat.  My nails are getting healthy and when the time comes to polish them I can do it myself and change colors often.  Before when an acrylic nail broke off, it was quite noticeable even if I polished the natural nail with the same color of polish.  Lastly I am saving $22.00 every two weeks by not having acrylic nails which brings it to a whopping savings of $572 a year.  YIKES!!!

I fell in love with pretty polished long nails, but I am finding out that I am going to love shorter nails that I take care of myself.  Everything I need to give myself a pretty home manicure can be found at the dollar stores. 

I am also giving myself pedicures.  I have only had a professional pedicure about 3 times in my life and professional pedicures are wonderful.  I am learning to give myself a home pedicure and it doesn’t involve a lot of products.  I bought a plastic dish pan to soak my feet, a pumice stone, a nail file, nail clipper and foot lotion.  All of these products can be purchased for a dollar or less at the Dollar Tree. 

Saturday nights are my nights for manicures and pedicures.  It just makes sense after a long week that I should treat myself to pretty nails and feet.   Yes I walk around the house holding my hands up waiting for my finger nails to dry and then I walk around with those separators between my toes waiting for my toe nails to dry.  The only thing missing is a terry cloth bathrobe and curlers in my hair to complete the look. 

October 11, 2013

I'm Happily Back!! (And reinforcing being financially prepared)

Well, I still don't understand everything on my new computer because I haven't had time to play around with it.  I am more of a"learn as I go" kind of person. 

I am glad to be back to blogging.  At one point I considered ending this blog as I was feeling that over the past 4 years I had probably covered everything that needed to be said about living frugally.  But -- I missed blogging and the reality is that a lot has happened over 4 years and there is still a lot to be said.  It was good to take a break, even if it was largely due to needing a new laptop.

When I started this journey 4 years ago, our economy was reeling from the Great Recession.  Then things started getting a little better in some areas, and not so great in other areas.  Now with the government shut down it has shown me once again that you have to rely on yourself (and God too) when it comes to being prepared for hard times.  What if there weren't unemployment checks, W.I.C., Food Assistance, Rent Assistance, etc.  What if life was like back before the Depression in the 1930's when there weren't very many relief programs.  Families counted on each other and worked together to help each other out, but many times that wasn't even enough.

I think a lot of people in the past year or so started to forget what it was like in 2007, 2008 and 2009 when the economy really tanked and unemployment was a lot higher.  People cut back and I'm sure that many thought that they would never go back to being spendthrifts and in debt and no savings.  Time does lessen the difficulty of some of those times.   Isn't that true?  If it wasn't, there would be a lot of moms giving birth to only one child.

The Great Recession changed how many people felt about their finances.  For some people it was a temporary annoyance and for others it was a life changing experience.  No longer would they live with no savings and a tremendous amount of consumer debt.

I have been listening to the news programs regarding the government shut down and I am not going to discuss politics - let's leave it out of the discussion for this blog.  Instead it just backs up what I already know which is that you should rely on yourself when it comes to your finances.  Plan on getting no help at all when things get rough, and save, save, save during the good times so that you can weather those hard times.  

This is easier said than done.  I am guilty of becoming soft and spending when I shouldn't be spending.  Then I get back on track and ask myself what got me off track in the first place?  Many times it is impulsive small purchases that can add up over time.  

Now I make a list in an app on my phone.  Whether it is food, thread, shoes or whatever, it goes on a list.  Many times I look at the list, perhaps it is rather long, and I decide that I really don't need a lot of that stuff after all.  And, if I really need it, it is still on that ongoing list waiting for a sale.

Being prepared financially also means that you may need to learn some new skills or resurrect some old skills that you haven't used in a while.  I am sewing a lot more these days than I have in 20 years.  It took me awhile to get the knack of it again.  For Christmas each of my immediate family members will be receiving a homemade gift that I have sewn.  I have purchased fabric on sale since the beginning of the year with Christmas gifts in mind.  

Learning to mend is a skill that we need to resurrect also.  Throwing clothing out because it has a broken zipper, missing button, small tear or pulled seams is money going down the drain.  Learning to make repairs saves money.  Baking bread and cooking from scratch or just learning to cook simple meals to keep you from going out to eat all the time is a great skill.

Bottom line, when it comes to being prepared for hard times you need to rely on yourself over the long haul to make sure you are prepared.  It just makes sense that hard times will happen and you need to be prepared. I should add that leaning on God in making financial decisions is an excellent idea also.  

Over the past year we have seen a lot of disasters occur in the U.S.  From Hurricane Sandy, to wildfires, to floods and mudslides and droughts, we have had many different disasters.  People have been displaced from their homes and have lost their homes altogether.  Preparing for hard times also means being prepared for disasters.  This is one area that I am not prepared and over the next few weeks I will be doing some research on how to have my own emergency management protocol for my home and family.  

You can't put your head in the sand and think that hard times happen to other people and will never happen to you.  Many people over the course of the years have lost their jobs, when they thought they had job security.  When a disaster happens and people are being interviewed by the news media, they are in shock at the loss of their home.  None of them think it will happen to them.  When the power goes out for several days, many people are not prepared and wish they would have been.  And then lastly, many people don't want to be prepared for the death of a spouse as if talking about it, will bring on death sooner. 

Yes, we will be discussing these things over the next couple of weeks along with the topics of grandmothering, cosmetics, healthy nails on a budget and menopause.  

September 28, 2013

My computer crashed

I'll be back.  My computer crashed and I waited for a good sale in order to buy a new one.  In the meantime I am loading software, learning my way around a new computer and trying to get updated on everything.  Fortunately I had backed up all of my photos and files not very long ago.

I will be back - I promise.

August 29, 2013

Time for No Bake Cookies

I have had one of those summer colds that you get from going outside in the hot weather and then coming back inside into the air conditioning.  So in order to help keep my grandson Ryan healthy, I haven’t had him as much as I usually do.  I have spent the majority of the time resting on the couch in our living room and watching movies in between sleeping.  I have drunk enough water to drain a lake.  Lots of rest is the best medicine for when you are sick.  When I was working full time I would be sick twice as long as I didn't get enough sleep.  This is the best part about being home.  Even when I have Ryan, I can always take a nap when he is taking a nap if I feel I need the rest.

Today we are back to our normal schedule.  I put Ryan in the stroller and leashed up our dog, Molly and we walked my husband to work at 8:00 a.m.  Then we took a long walk and got back in time for Ryan to have his strained veggies.  Today’s choice was carrots.  Then there was a quick run to Wal-mart and around 10:00 we had play time.  I sit and play with Ryan on a quilt that I use just for him and we sit on the porch swing and enjoy the outside before it gets too hot.  Before long he was tired so I gave him a bottle and cuddled him to sleep.  He is now napping in his bed.  However, I have no idea if this is going to be a 1 hour or 3 hour nap.  So, I don’t depend on nap time being a time that I can get a lot done.  I just do little stuff.

With it being so hot outside, I hate to heat up the oven.  However, it is hard to go without having a few cookies on hand to eat with a cup of coffee.  It is during the summer that I rely on no bake recipes AND I also rely on making cookie dough ahead of time to freeze.  Sometimes I make no bake cookies and other times I take cookie dough out of the freezer and bake a few cookies in the early morning before the weather gets hot.  If you have the cookie dough ready to go, it saves so much time in the morning.

I have two basic no bake cookie recipes that we enjoy.  One calls for sugar and corn syrup which I know a lot of people are trying to avoid, but cookies have sugar and fat in them so if you are trying lose weight or lower your consumption of sugar, then don’t eat them.  For me, I would rather eat one cookie with all the bad stuff in it than 3 cookies made fat free and with a sugar substitute.  All things in moderation is my motto.

No Bake Chocolate Cookies

1/2 cup margarine or butter
2 cups sugar
6 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 cup milk
Pinch of salt
4 cups quick oats
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cook the margarine, sugar, cocoa, milk and salt.  This means that as soon as it starts to boil, time it for 2 minutes.  Then stir in the vanilla and oatmeal.   Drop by tablespoons onto waxed paper or a cookie sheet lightly sprayed with cooking spray.  Cool.

Cereal Bars

1 cup sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1 cup peanut butter

4 – 5 cups cornflakes

Melt the corn syrup and sugar together.  Bring to a boil.  Add peanut butter and stir well.  Pour over the cornflakes.  Stir.  Spread into a greased 9 x 13 inch pan.  Let cool.  (You can add just about any kind of cereal to this instead of the cornflakes.)  Another option is to melt a bag of chocolate chips with 1/4 cup peanut butter and spread over the top.  I leave this off as the bars are good without the topping.

August 26, 2013

It's going to be really, really hot!!!

I just heard on the news that here in Iowa today the temperature will be hovering around 100 degrees.  The weather forecast for the entire week will be the same each day.  Hot.  That means the heat index will make it feel hotter.  This is not the time to scrimp on air conditioning.  I am keeping the window air conditioners set at 68 degrees in order to keep our downstairs nice and comfortable.  The one thing I can't stand is to be hot.  I can live with being cold as I can always add a sweater and layer my clothes to be warmer.

The challenge in August when it is this hot is to try to figure out what to serve for supper. By now we have done a lot of grilling so it isn't quite the novelty as it was at the beginning of the summer and it is too hot to stand outside over an even hotter grill.  It is on days like this that I pull out the electric roaster that I use to cook the turkey at Thanksgiving and I set it up in the basement.  I use it as a portable oven.

Tonight I will be cooking my semi-famous turkey casserole in it.  Here is the link to the recipe. Back in June I roasted a turkey that I had leftover from Christmas and I carefully cut the breast pieces for sandwiches or to use as the main dish for dinner sometime.  The rest of the meat was cut into small pieces for soup or casseroles and the carcass was boiled down for broth.  All the meat and broth was frozen for later use such as a day like today.

I will put the casserole together in a square casserole dish and place it in the roaster to bake.   The best part of this is that the heat from baking this casserole does not affect the temperature in my kitchen as it cooks in the basement and the heat stays there.  Also it takes less energy to heat the roaster and it preheats in no time at all.  To complete our dinner meal, I will serve watermelon and a tossed salad.

I know some people will think who wants to eat something hot on a hot day, but these are also the same people who will go to an air conditioned restaurant for a hot meal or stand in the hot sun grilling some meat.

As I write this post, Ryan is taking his nap.  He spent the morning at his other grandpa's house as I needed some extra rest as I have a cold.  While he is napping I may take a nap myself or go through some of my sewing patterns so I can plan my next project.  I'm already thinking ahead to Christmas and there are several gifts I want to make.  I don't want to wait until November or December to work on these projects.  Also, there are a few tops that I would like to sew for myself.

I better start getting more sleep at night as when Ryan goes down for a nap, it will be sewing and craft time for Grandma.

August 25, 2013

Renewed Focus

I have been back from vacation for two weeks.  Over vacation I started to think more and more about this blog and how I seemed to have writer's block.  After all it has been close to 4 years since I began this blog and what more could I say about frugal living?  Then it dawned on me this morning that with watching my grandson 4 days a week, I have so much more to contribute, so I will not abandon this blog that I love so much.

I will try to post every other day what I have been doing and give you a glimpse into my daily life which has changed tremendously from 4 years ago.  So let’s begin this new journey together.

Last week was the second week that I watched my grandson Ryan while his mom works at her family business and coaches volleyball and while his dad teaches math at the high school and coaches cross country.  Ryan has lots of aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents including a great-grandma that lives nearby.  I raised my kids living in the Midwest while my parents lived in New York and my in laws moved from the east coast to the west coast.  We were on our own when it came to caring for our sons, but we didn’t think anything of it as it was our normal way of live.

It would be hard to watch Ryan if it wasn’t for his good nature.  He is happy, and good natured.  Ryan has the same temperament that his daddy had when he was a baby.  About the only time he gets fussy is when it is nap time.

The one thing I have learned from watching Ryan is that basic items that you need to have in your home to care for a baby have gone up in cost tremendously.  Also there are more and more “necessities” for baby on the market. One day I went to purchase a pacifier for him to keep at my house.  There were about 50 different kinds of pacifiers to choose from.  When my kids were little I think there were just 2 kinds.  Also there are all sorts of unnecessary things that you really don’t need.  I don’t need a baby monitor or a wipe warmer. 

 I have purchased items as I have needed them.  For example, I purchased a Graco portable crib/play pen.  I bought it new and on sale for one reason.  Many times items are recalled and I knew that this one item was important for me to buy new.  It has 3 levels so that I have been able to raise or lower the bed as Ryan has grown.  This has been a big help for my back. 

I purchased the exact stroller that Ryan has at home.  It fits his car seat and it is a heavy duty jogging stroller.  I looked at a lot of strollers and I found more and more had wheels made of plastic.  Knowing how much a stroller can be used even for more than one child, my mind was made up to research and buy quality.  Again some online shopping paid off when I found a heavy duty jogging stroller on sale for $20 less than offered in a store along with free shipping.

Ryan is almost 6 months old so I added a walker and high chair as the final things I need for him.  I searched at local consignment shops for these items but found that I could get them on sale with free shipping to me for a bit more money.  In fact, the walker was only $5 more new and the high chair was only $30 on a close out clearance sale. 

I give Ryan a bath every now and then as needed.  I refused to pay $25 for a baby bath.  I simply put a folded towel in the bottom of the bath tub and took another towel and rolled it up to for him to rest his head on.  Then I simply lower him on the towel and wash him and let him kick in the water.

As far as items such as baby bath, lotion and powder, I went to the Dollar Tree and bought these items for $1.00 each.  I keep a large bottle of hand sanitizer near where I change Ryan’s diapers.  This was also purchased for $1.00. 

I have purchased a few toys along the way at garage sales.  Anything that is plastic such as rattles and the sort I wash and dip in boiling water to disinfect them. 
My son and his wife provide diapers, formula, cereal and jarred baby food for Ryan.  I supply the baby wipes.  Normally I would have just purchased white cheap wash cloths and used soap and water to clean him, but I came upon a deal at Wal-mart.  I was able to get 400 baby wipes for $6.00.  These are really thick wipes and even with a messy diaper, I only need one wipe.

I really enjoy caring for Ryan.  It is almost like I have been given a do over in my life.  I always wanted to stay home with my kids when they were young, but we just couldn’t afford it.  Now I am home and helping to care for my grandson and I am loving it. 

So, this is the challenge of my new life:  caring for my grandson a few days a week, managing my time and home along with continuing my dedication to frugal living.

Tips for Today: 
1.  The advantage of having a stockpile of pantry and freezer items has become invaluable to me as I don’t want to run out to the grocery store for one item with a 6 month old in tow if I don’t have too.

2.  I had been making my own hair detangler but discovered that a 10 oz. bottle of children’s hair detangler only cost $1.00 at the Dollar Tree.  It works great on my hair hair.  Also my hair is dry so I use conditioner in the shower.  After towel drying my hair I squirt a little conditioner into my palms and rub it on the bottom 3 inches of my hair.  I rub it into my ends and I let my hair air dry.  Air drying my hair helps to keep it from being damaged by the heat of the dryer and the additional conditioner helps to keep my hair moisturized.  

August 07, 2013

Vacationing, kind of

I'm on vacation for a few more days.  Actually, I'm visiting my mom out east.  I'll be blogging when I get home. I miss my family and home and am ready to get back home and cook regular meals. 

In my down time this week I have been working on a new household schedule for when I begin caring for my grandson 4 days a week beginning next week.  I know I will only be able to get household chores done during naptime.  However my walking time should increase as he loves to be in his stroller going on walks.  It's a pleasant and happy trade off.

July 29, 2013

Finding more money in the Budget and Inventorying

Last week is a blur and I didn’t post as often as I wanted to post.  Here are some updates on our budget and saving more money each month.  Back in April I quit getting my nails done and finally after 3 months, my nails are strong, healthy and grown to a perfect length.  My nails are just at the tips of my fingers which is a perfect length.  I had been wearing acrylic nails for 12 1/2 years and it was time for my real nails to see the light of day.  Savings is $50 a month. 

Today I decided that I would cancel my membership at the Curves fitness center.  Savings will be $36 a month.  I made this decision after pondering it for several weeks and I decided that with my schedule and their limited hours that it was getting harder to get there to work out.  Also I am finding that walking outside and lifting weights at home is doing just as good a job of keeping me in shape.

I downgraded our Netflix account to 2 dvd’s being sent in a month.  We used to have unlimited dvd’s mailed in a month, but frankly I find a lot of dvd’s at the local library so I wasn’t getting my money’s worth from Netflix.  One time I had a dvd sitting on my kitchen counter for almost a month before I watched it.  We will be keeping the unlimited streaming of Netflix as that is something we seem to use.  The savings will be $3.00.  Okay, $3.00 big deal right?  Pennies add up and so do dollars.  In time I will probably cancel having the dvd’s mailed to us altogether for an $8.00 per month savings. 

We are also looking at our cell phone bill.  We have a shared plan.  After reviewing some recent monthly bills we have realized that we are not using the amount of gigabytes that we are paying for.  By reducing this to what we are actually using we will save around $20 a month. 

Total amount of savings for the above is $109 per month. 

So, little things add up and inventorying our resources has really added up to a big list.  I was going to post what I have in my pantry but I want to delay that until the next post.  Instead I am listing what I have stored away for toiletries, paper, laundry and hair care products. 

As with everything that I have inventoried, all products were bought on sale.  However,  it is in the following categories that I used the most coupons teamed with sales. That is why I have so much laundry soap.  When there is a sale for $2.00 a jug of liquid laundry soap and you have $1.00 off coupons, you stock up.  In one case there was a major sale in which I bought laundry soap for 88 cents a jug.  It was that sale that really grew my stockpile. 

Here we go:


 Bar Soap – 36 bars of ivory soap, 144 bars of bath soap, 8 bars of Oil of Olay, 15 bars of Dove and 4 bars of Castile soap.

I also have 2 bottles of men’s and 8 bottles of women’s body wash.

Lotion – 8 bottles

Shampoo – 13 bottles

Conditioner – 6 bottles

Ladies Razors – 36 razors

Deoderant – 28 sticks

Toothpaste – 4 tubes

Paper Products

Paper Towels – 62 rolls

Toilet paper – 276 double rolls and 56 single rolls

Kleenex – 2 boxes

Laundry Items

Octagon Laundry and cleaning soap – 7 bars

Fels Naptha – 3 bars

Laundry Detergent (jugs) – 59 jugs – 50 oz size.

Laundry Detergent (powder) – 15 boxes

Softener, Sheets – 5 boxes

Softener, Bottles – 6 bottles

Purex Laundry Crystals – 5 bottles

Borax – 1/2 box

Shout Pre-Wash – 2 bottles

Tide Boost – 1/2 bottle and 1/2 box of powder

Bleach – 1 jug

There is some measure of pride and comfort in knowing that I can provide for my family through sales, stockpiling and inventorying to make sure that everything is managed and stretched in order to save more money.  It is a skill that I have learned and probably is right up there with being one of the most important skills I have ever learned.  

July 23, 2013

Counting Your Resources

This month marks my 4th year of being home.  I have had a few little jobs along the way, the last was working at the local library for a few hours a week.  I quit that job to devote my time to being a grandma. 

Now my husband and I are facing our biggest financial challenge since I’ve been home – paying for the next 18 months of our youngest son’s college education.  We had enough money saved up to pay for his first two years of college and then we knew we would have to get creative.  We would prefer not to take out any student loans, but we may have to take out a small one.  In the meantime, we have to tighten our belts if we are going to avoid borrowing more money for his education.

The biggest way to save money, is not to spend money.  Sounds simple doesn’t it?  Well, honestly that is the best way to save money by not spending money.  So in an effort to not spend money, I have taken the time to inventory our resources.  You have to know what you have in your home (your resources) otherwise you end up spending money on food items you already have on hand (as an example). 

Beginning 4 years ago I became a person who stocks up on sales.  The summertime is the best time in our area to find meat prices at their lowest of the year.  I know that I can count on frozen vegetables to be at their rock bottom price in January or February.  When I have the money, I keep stocking up on sale items until I feel that enough is enough.

There are some decisions to be made when you are stocking up.  When is enough, enough?  Well my freezer was pretty stocked when they had an in store sale on 85% lean ground beef last week for only $1.99 lb.  Even though I already had plenty on hand, this was too great of a deal to miss out on.  I bought 40 lbs.  By reorganizing my freezer I was able to find space for it.  I know that I will not see that price on meat for a long time, if ever again.

It has taken a few weeks to inventory all the food in my freezer and pantry, toiletries, paper products, cleaning and laundry products.  Yes, it was time consuming BUT I now know all of the resources that we have on hand and I now have an idea as to how long I can make these resources last.  When I say make these items last, I am not going to sacrifice nutrition by only eating what I have on hand.  I will supplement our food resources with perishables as I go along.  I am also back to baking all of our bread products.

I will share over the next few days what I have in each category and the challenge will be on to see how long I can make everything last. 

The following is a list of items that I have in my large freezer and the freezer above the fridge in our kitchen.  Yes, it is quite a bit for two people but we do have family over to eat a couple times a week.  I enjoy cooking for my family. 

I was able to get everything on sale at rock bottom prices.  The only thing that I would like to add is some chicken hind quarters if I find a good sale.  There has not been a sale on chicken hindquarters for over 9 months.  By the way, I have never had a problem with freezer burn as I am very careful about double wrapping my meat. 


Beef Roasts – 3 roasts at 3 to 4 lbs.
Italian Meatballs – 1 lb.
Hamburger – 80% lean – 3 lbs.
Hamburger – 85% lean – 72 lbs.
Hamburger – 93% lean – 3 lbs.
Sloppy Joes – 2 pkgs – enough for 2 meals


Shredded Cooked Pork – 1 lb.
Pork Loin Roasts – 2 roasts at 3 lbs. each
Pork Cushion Roasts – 2 roasts at 3 to 4 lbs.
Iowa Chops – 6 chops
Pork Loin Slices – 12 slices
Pork Broth – 1 cup
Boneless Ham – 2 lbs.
Bacon – 5 – 1 lb. pkgs.
Bratwursts – 17 brats
Ground Pork – 11 lbs..
Smoked Polish Sausage – 3 ½ lbs.
Little Smokeys – 1 ½ lbs.
Ham Loaf – 5 lbs.
Ham Deli Meat – 1 lb.
Canadian Bacon – 2 pkgs.
Hot Dogs – 13 pkgs.
Shaved Ham – 4 lbs.


Bone in Chicken Breasts – 2
Breaded Chicken Patties – 3
Chicken Thighs – 10 thighs
Split Chicken Breasts – 2 packages
Boneless Chicken Breasts – 4 breasts
Ground Chicken – 3 lbs.


Ground Turkey – 2 lbs.
Turkey Patties – 12
Turkey Deli Sandwich Meat – 2 lbs.
Cooked Turkey Breast Slices (From a turkey I cooked last month)
Cut up cooked turkey meat – 3 lbs. (From a turkey I cooked last month)
Turkey Broth – 8 cups


Shredded Mozzarella Cheese – 20 – 8 oz. packages
Shredded Cheddar Jack Cheese – 8 – 8 oz. packages
Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese – 2 – 8 oz. packages
Shredded Swiss Cheese – 1 ½ cups
String Cheese – 4 – 12 oz. packages

Fruits and Vegetables:

Mixed Vegetables – 7 – 1 lb. pkgs.
Corn – 10 - 1 lb. pkgs.
Peas & Carrots – 1 – 1 lb. pkg.
Peas – 3 – 1 lb. pkgs.
Broccoli – 2 – 1 lb. pkgs.
California Blend – 1 – 1 lb. pkg.
Green Beans -1 – 1 lb. pkg.
Hash Browns – 2 lbs.
Small assortment of vegetables – 1 ½ pkgs.
Tomato Paste – 11 – 6 oz. plastic containers
Strawberry Freezer Jam – 9 – 1 ½ cup containers
Whole Strawberries – 3 – 2 cup containers
Cranberries – 4 – 10 oz. packages
Raspberries – 1 cup
Bananas - 7
Orange Juice – 7 Containers


Unsalted Butter – 3 sticks
Oyster Crackers – 5 – 12 oz. packages

Instant Yeast – 1 lb. 

Tomorrow's post:  My list of what I have in my pantry.

July 22, 2013

A Tribute to a Wonderful Lady

When some people are going through a lot of difficulties in their life, they find that writing helps them.  For me, it is the opposite.  I am more introspective and I don’t feel like writing until the crisis is over and then I find the words flow.  That is why my blog has been so “vacant” for awhile. 

My daughter in law and her family have endured a lot of heartache over the past 18 months.  Last year her two grandparents died within a few months of each other, her paternal grandmother died in April of this year and sadly her mother died last week. 

Her mom was only 57 years old and had been battling cancer for a few years.  When the term “battling” is used, it applies to her life.  She did whatever it took to be there for her family.  She was one strong lady.  There was a wedding and 3 grandchildren that were born after her diagnosis.  This was also her second round of cancer. 

My daughter in law’s family is very, very close.  It is remarkable to see three daughters who are close to each other and have a great relationship with each other.  They have been close all their lives which tells you something about their parents. 

Then it is wonderful to see the closeness they had with their parents.  But it is their parents’ relationship to each other that is remarkable.  I have said over the past few years that their marriage was what marriage was meant to me – in sickness and in health, no matter what, they were there for each other.  They were each other’s best friend and their love was contagious if you were around them.  My daughter in law’s father was devoted to his wife.  He took care of her and they were constantly together, living their lives as fully as possible. 

I will miss my daughter in law’s mom as we were grandmas together.  It was also her remarkable mothering that gave me such a lovely and loving daughter in law. 

Life goes on, and it will eventually return to a new normal for my daughter in law’s family, but in the meantime life is a little hard. 

Tomorrow I will be starting a series on living off the resources that you have in your home starting with what I have in my freezer.

June 26, 2013

Respect your Body - Keep Fit

I have a membership at our local Curves center.  The cost is $36 a month.  Yes, that is $36 that I could be saving or spending on something else, but I find that I do better working out with other women and meeting new people.  I recently gave up getting acrylic nails ($50 a month) to save money as I had a decision to make.  We needed to cut back on expenses and I preferred keeping my Curves membership versus having my nails done every two weeks.  If you can’t afford a membership to a gym, here is what I recommend for a frugal fitness workout plan:

Shoes - $50.  Walking is the mainstay of my fitness program.  I started out at 2 miles and have worked my way up to as much as 5 miles according to the time I have to fit into a walk.  Many times I fit in a few short walks throughout my day.  The most important piece of equipment you need for walking is a good walking/running shoe.  I can get Nike or New Balance shoes for around $50 on sale.  These are not the top of the line Nike shoes, but are the moderate medium grade shoe.  Make sure that when you try them on that they give you good support.  This is all I need for walking as I am not a runner.  Invest in good shoes as if you buy a cheapy no name shoe, you will end up with back and hip trouble.  Watch for sales as it is worth having a decent shoe for walking.

Resistance tubes - $8.00 – These look like a jump rope with plastic tubing.  These resistance tubes come with a guide for using them for all sorts of resistance exercises to strengthen your upper body without having to use of bulky weights. 

Fitness Ball - $9.00 – Comes with a booklet for exercises to tone and strengthen the abdomen and lower back muscles

Pedometer - $10 – wear it to make sure you are getting 10,000 steps a day.

Other equipment – a refillable water bottle.  $3.00 or free as a promotional give away.  You need to keep hydrated as you walk and workout.  Keeping a bottle of water filled throughout the day gives you an idea of how much water you are drinking and it also encourages you to drink more. 

So for a total investment of $80.00 you have what you need to start your own personal fitness program.  The only thing you will have to replace over time is your shoes.  You will notice when they start to wear out on the inside as you won’t have the support that you used to have.  That is the time to replace them before you start having some hip and knee pain.   

Always watch the sales for walking shoes even if your shoes haven’t worn out yet.  Better yet after you buy your pair of shoes, set aside $5 a week so that you will have the $50 long before you actually need it to buy new shoes. 

If you can’t afford all of the above at one time, buy the shoes and get a water bottle.  Buy the other items as you save the money.  Look at garage sales for any exercise equipment BUT keep it simple and don’t buy equipment that will clutter up your house and end up not being used.  

June 25, 2013

Respect Your Resources

As I look at getting back on track, I have come to really notice how I need to respect the resources that I have.  What do I define as resources?  It would include income, clothing, food, cars, our house or in other words, anything that is in my home. 

Being respectful of your resources means that you take care of what you have.   If I truly respect what I have, I will mend my clothes and make them last; prepare meals that are nutritious and use up what I have on hand; take care of our cars by getting oil changes and maintenance done so that we are not hit with major problems by neglecting them; do as much timely home maintenance and improvements on our home – thank goodness for DIY and in the internet; clean my house and maintain furnishings so that things don’t have as much wear and tear.  These are just a few examples.

What if what you own right now had to last you for 10 years?  Think about this.  If you knew that certain assets had to last you for 10 years, would you treat these items differently?    I’m not speaking about food here, but what if your car, furniture, appliances, furnace, water heater, had to last 10 years?  Would you maintain them, clean them, not abuse them so that they would last?  You would work hard to make sure that your investments were protected.  So, why not do it anyway?

With consumables such as food, toiletries, paper products, cleaners, laundry products, and such, what if you did your best to make them last as long as possible?  Make it a game to see how long you can stretch things.  You would be surprised.  As an example I realized two weeks ago that I was over using my laundry detergent.  There is a measurement on the inside of the cap.  In order to see it completely I had to look at it under a strong light.  Then I read the instructions on the bottle.  One was for a normal load (3 tablespoons) and two was for a large load (4 tablespoons).  They had a line for number three and number four with no explanation.  I read somewhere that what gets the most dirt out of your clothes is the agitation of the water.  So, I now use number one for half a load of clothes and number two for a full load of clothes and I put the setting on a faster agitation.  I may actually get 32 loads of laundry out of the bottle as advertised and I haven’t sacrificed getting the clothes clean. 

Recently I took our dog through beginners obedience classes and intermediate classes.  This was a 13 week investment of time and money.  Now that the classes are over, I need to protect my investment  by committing to walking and keeping our dog up on her obedience training.  The work is only beginning.  Yes, these classes were an investment in our dog and also in me as her trainer and "pack leader."  I can't let this lapse as I spent money and a lot of my time in order to have a better behaved dog.

Do you have a habit of overbuying fresh produce and then let some of it spoil before you use it up?  Don’t buy as much and use it up before you buy more.  Re-evaluate how you feel about the things you own including consumables.  It took hard earned money to buy those items – from food and clothes to cars and homes.  Take care of what you have and respect what it took to buy those items because it took someone in your family trading hours of their time to earn the money.    

June 24, 2013

I Love Being a Grandma

It is almost indescribable as to the love I have for my grandson, Ryan.  If I don't get to see him, I go through withdrawal and tell people that I need my "Ryan time."  Yesterday my son and wife asked me if I could watch him as they were going out of town for the afternoon.  They didn't have to ask me twice.  Ryan was with me for about 8 hours in which I fed him, diapered him, rocked him to sleep and played with him on the floor.  I love to see how he can roll on his side, smile at me and interact.  He will be four months old this week.  

He was born when I was in the midst of being treated for depression.  On the very day he was born I had asked God to give me a small miracle of hope that day.  I didn't know that at that very time he was being born.  Ryan was the best medicine for bringing me out of my depression.  I can hardly wait for the day when he actually calls me grandma.  

There is nothing like this time in my life.  I love it.


Last week I had typed some posts and was getting ready to post them.  I was on my way to getting back to the frugal basics I had put in place a couple of years ago – ready to get a fresh start again.  Last week we completed enclosing our backyard with a privacy fence, I finished watching my grandson while my son was taking a class and was ready to tackle decluttering closets and sewing clothes.  WHEN on Friday my youngest son called me to say that the building he was living in had been declared “uninhabitable” by the City.  The building is very old, but the apartments are nice.  The problem is that the back of the building was pulling away from the foundation to the point that they felt it could toppled down.  So the weekend was spent getting him moved out fast and moving him back home until he could find another apartment to live in.  Thankfully we had plenty of help getting him moved out. 

Last night I was walking around the main floor of our house and there were boxes here in and there and a queen sized air mattress set up in our living room.  Decent rentals are hard to find in our community and I was wondering how long it would take for him to find another apartment.  I don’t mind that he had moved back but I also knew that for 8 months he had been living on his own and he wanted to get back to having his own place.  Fortunately someone we knew had an apartment for rent.  This individual is a responsible landlord and has a reputation in our community for being just that – responsible.  Our son and I looked at the apartment today and he fell in love with it.  It is cheaper than his old apartment and included in the rent is the cost of heat, water and garbage collection.  It is nice and also very secure.  I think it was meant to be.  He is going to save money and he moves in next week. 

So, with that situation resolved, I can get back to “getting back to the basics.” 

June 09, 2013

Love being a Grandma

This is a picture of me holding our grandson, Ryan, when he was born on February 27th.  I have the privilege of watching him a few times a week.  He has stolen my heart and he is such a joy.

My husband loves to read the newspaper to Ryan when he is home for lunch.  

When I haven't seen Ryan for a while I start to think "Hey, I need some Ryan time."  Tomorrow I will get my "Ryan Time" as he gets to spend the day at our house.  

There is nothing like being a Grandma.

Putting a Pet Down

Me and our cat, Sheircon in Feb. 2010

On Friday, June 7th, we had to put our cat, Sheircon to sleep.  She was 16 years old in May.  The above picture was taken 3 years ago when she weighed around 10 lbs.  When we put her down she weighed around 5 lbs., was going through kidney failure and had stopped eating altogether.  She was a wonderful cat and I enjoyed the privilege of owning her (if you can ever own a cat as they seem to own the person).  

I stayed with her as she was put down and then we put her in a box, placed a piece of pink fabric on top and buried her under a forsythia bush in our backyard.  

In January we had our black lab put down.  She was almost 13 years old and had declined so much.  


Now we are left with our 16 month old labradoodle Molly.  We have no intention of getting another cat.  One pet is enough for us for now.  Molly fits the bill and she is a wonderful, loving dog.