Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Friends of the Library

Visiting our local Library is a favorite outing for my girls and me. If someone recommends a book to me, I usually check the library's online catalog on my home computer. If they have the book I reserve it. They contact me via e-mail when it is available for me to check out. I walk in the door and go right over and pick it up.
When I go to the Library, I can't help but visit the Friends of the Library Room. This is a small store that is staffed by volunteers. People donate their gently used books and magazines and they are sold at a deep discount and the proceeds help provide additional funds for the Library.

Over the last couple of years I have let several magazine subscriptions expire. Every time I visit the FOTL Store there are current issues available for .25 and .10 for older issues. What a deal.

"Check out" the books I've purchased from FOTL recently:

The most expensive book in the store is $3.00 for hardbacks and $1.00 - $2.00 for paperbacks.
You never know what will be on the shelf when you walk in. I picked up a wonderful Quiet Time Bible and this autobiography of James A. Baker III that originally retailed for nearly $30.00... way more than the $3.00 I paid for it. I love to read Kay Arthur and saw one of her books in there and picked it up for $2.00. There is a children's section and cookbook/gardening section.
So visit your local library and if there is a Friends of the Library Store go check it out. You may find some good deals on books you want to add to your home library.
Let someone else pay can enjoy it for pennies on the dollar after they donate it.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Use what you have

Use what you have,
so you can use what you have.
Want freedom? Get organized.
Want to get organized? Get creative.
--David Allen
After all, what's the point of hitting a great sale on those canned black-eyed peas if they're going right into the 'Black Hole' never to be seen again?
I think one definition for frugal could be Think First. We all know most of the frugal catch-words such as repurpose, recycle, reuse, etc. Getting in the habit of thinking the 'R's' before running out and purchasing any given product would probably save us a ton of money.
Just after the new year I got on a cleaning/organizing frenzy and tackled my pantry. Then in February, my oldest daughter moved out. She left her room a clean slate for us to transform into a homeschool/playroom for Grace.
Not wanting to spend the money on unnecessary organizing gadgets and do-dads, I decided to think outside the box and use what I already had in my home.
Following are some ideas that I used as well as other tips that might be helpful.
First of all, after culling, cleaning and getting rid of expired food (arrgh!), assess your space.
--Do you have height? Can another 'shelf' be made on top or between shelves, doubling your space?
--Is there a empty space below the shelves? In my case, I had a blank wall that we added shelves to that was originally used for hanging coats.
--Cement blocks and boards are perfect for extra shelving.
--A small dresser might fit well.
Now just go through your home and look for containers.
--I had some clear plastic ice buckets that had been used as a centerpiece at a wedding. They now house my beans, rice and crackers. The other two went into the bathroom for Grace's girly stuff--soaps, bubble bath, etc. That's five nice containers that were just stacked together that I wasn't even using.
--Tupper*ware containers. Any that are only pulled out for potlucks or picnics?
--What about larger glass bowls you only pull out at holidays? Could they be used to store holiday napkins, candles etc.? (Placing them high up and away from little hands, of course.)
--I had two different wire picnic organizers. You know the kind that have a place for napkins, paper plates, plastic utensils, etc. These became my new caddys for odds and ends--plastic lids, straws, extra water filters etc.
--The gallon-size ice cream containers are perfect for storing those extra paper dessert plates and cocktail napkins as well as keeping them dust-free.
--Tins, baskets, plastic tubs you name it.
--Be on the lookout for wire or plastic shelving and other containers that can be had for very little money at thrift stores, yard sales, the dollar store.
The sky's the limit with what you can do and will save you money in the long run. Now you'll know exactly where those 20 cans of black-eyed peas are!
Then when you're finished, reward yourself with an appetizing, delicious meal Susan posted here!

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Delicious Frugal Meal

Soon after I married, some 50 years ago, my mother obtained a little cookbook for me from the County Extension Service titled Money-saving MAIN DISHES.

The recipe I am sharing here is one of our family favorites and one I have made during all these years.

A "boiled" dinner
2 pounds meaty ham hocks
1 1/2 cups hot water
4 medium-size potatoes, pared and halves
1 1/2 cups canned or cooked green beans and liquid
Salt and pepper
Cover ham hocks with water and simmer about 1 hour.
Add potatoes to meat and cook until tender - about 25 minutes.
Add beans and liquid the last 10 minutes of cooking. If raw beans are used, add with potatoes.
Season with salt and Pepper. Skim off excess fat before serving.
For Variety
Corned beef, smoked Boston butt, or ham bone may be used in place of the ham hocks. Cover with water and simmer about 3 hours or until tender. Omit salt, and continue as above. Good with sauerkraut.
Beef short ribs may be used. Brown short ribs without added fat; cook 2 hours before adding potatoes.
A variety of vegetable may be used in a "boiled" dinner. In addition to potatoes, use onions, large pieces of carrot, and wedges of cabbage. Add cabbage about 20 minutes before serving, as it cooks more quickly than the other vegetables.
This is how I prefer to cook it and what I use:
The day before:
Place 3 or 4 meaty country style pork spare ribs
in the slow cooker (crock pot) and cover with water.
When done I remove the meat and place on a plate in the refrigerator.
I place the crock pot, with all the liquid, in the refrigerator so the fat will rise to the top and form a layer that is easy to remove.
The following day:
Remove crock pot dish from frig and remove layer of fat.
Plug in crock pot and add meat to liquid.
Add the amount of pared and halved potatoes. I use 2 potatoes for each spare rib.
Add several cans of green beans - I usually add 3 or 4 cans, depending on whether I have 3 or 4 ribs, and because we really like the green beans.
I do not add any salt or pepper.
I did this yesterday....and when we returned from church services I had this wonderful meal ready to serve. It is truly yummy!!!
I am going to try and estimate the cost: my package of country style pork ribs were $8.47. When I bought them I divided them into 3 packages and froze for 3 meals. So meat was $2.82. The most recent bag of potatoes I purchased was 10 lbs. for $5.77 . It had 31 potatoes in it (YES - can you believe I counted the potatoes so I could get a unit price!!!) That is .186 cents per potato x 6 = $1.12. The green beans I had purchased the last time they were on sale for .50 a can x 3 cans = $1.50
So: Meat $2.82
Potatoes 1.12
Green Beans 1.50

Total Cost $5.44

I could have invited another couple to dinner with us, or in this case, since I didn't Mickey and I will get 2 good meals from this dish, with maybe even a few potatoes and beans left over for a 3rd vegetable serving.


Friday, February 20, 2009


Here are two money saving tips.
We all want, and need, to save every possible way we can.
AARP sponsors a Driver Safety Program. While it use to be just for people over 55 years of age, people of any age are now eligible to take the course.

SOME insurance companies will give you a discount for taking this course. Ours allows us a 10% discount on our car insurance policy, which in our case covers 3 vehicles and our 5th wheel. It was definitely cost effective and worth it to us to spent 8 hours getting this Safe Driving designation.

Be sure and check with your insurance company to see if you can reduce your auto insurance cost by taking this course.


The Forever Stamp

In April of last year, just before the U.S. Post Office was going to raise the cost of a first class stamp from 41 cents to 42 cents, I bought a large supply of these Forever Stamps at the 41 cent cost. So while everyone is currently paying 42 cents to mail a letter mine are only costing me 41 cents.

The U.S. Post Office is once again raising the cost of the first class stamp. This price increase will be from 42 cents to 44 cents. The 44 cent stamp will be required beginning May 11, 2009. Anytime prior to May 11th you can purchase as many of the Forever Stamps for 42 cents a piece as you desire.

I will be able to continue using the current supply of stamps that I purchased for 41 cents each, even at the 44 cent rate. I will also be buying another large supply of the Forever Stamps at the now current price of 42 cents.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Help for Your Cold or Flu

About a month ago, I got an email from a friend with a helpful tip for the cold and flu season. I didn't want to post about it until I'd tried it, but unfortunately (I mean fortunately really), I or no one in my household has had a cold which developed into a cough which wouldn't go away. But the season will be over in the not too distant future, so I thought I'd better send this info on to others just in case it works. At least we can be pretty sure it won't hurt. I'll just copy and paste it here for you to keep in mind in case the need arises. Some of you may already know about it, but I didn't before getting the email. Oh, and incidentally, on most over the counter medications, I never use the name brands unless I've got a great coupon and they're on sale. You know that the generic (store brand-whatever the store or pharmacy) works just as well:

"During a lecture on Essential Oils, they told us how the foot soles can absorb oils. Their example: Put garlic on your feet and within 20 minutes you can 'taste' it.

Some of us have used Vicks Vapo rub for years for everything from chapped lips to sore toes and many body parts in between. But I've never heard of this.

And don't laugh, it works 100% of the time, although the scientists who discovered it aren't sure why. To stop night time coughing in a child (or adult as we found out personally), put Vicks Vapo rub generously on the bottom of the feet at bedtime, then cover with socks.

Even persistent, heavy, deep coughing will stop in about 5 minutes and stay stopped for many, many hours of relief.

Works 100% of the time and is more effective in children than even very strong prescription cough medicines.

In addition it is extremely soothing and comforting and they will sleep soundly.

Just happened to tune in A.M. Radio and picked up this guy talking about why cough medicines in kids often do more harm than good, due to the chemical makeup of these strong drugs so, I listened.

It was a surprise finding and found to be more effective than prescribed medicines for children at bedtime, in addition to have a soothing and calming effect on sick children who then went on to sleep soundly.

My wife tried it on herself when she had a very deep constant and persistent cough a few weeks ago and it worked 100%! She said that it felt like a warm blanket had enveloped her, coughing stopped in a few minutes and believe me, this was a deep, ( incredibly annoying!) every few seconds uncontrollable cough, and she slept cough-free for hours every night that she used it.

If you have grandchildren, pass this on. If you end up sick, try it yourself and you will be absolutely amazed at how it works.


This tip is from me: Did you know that chewing on garlic cloves helps to get rid of congestion? It also has helped rid me of a bad cough. Too bad for the folks that have to live with you, though.

Wishes for your healthy household,


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Making Clothing Last Longer

Clothing can easily be a huge part of our budgets every month!! Here are a few tips to make your clothing last longer and keep your family looking good for less!!

1.) Buy jeans in the darkest color possible, and wash them with a bunch of faded jeans... they will be darkened and newer-looking for free!!

2.) You can do the same thing with new red clothes... faded pinks and reds will be revitalized. A little vinegar in the rinse water sets the new color.

3.) Pantyhose... Always buy the same brand and color. If you get a run in one leg, cut it off and save the good part. When you get a run in another pair, cut that leg off. Then you can put both pairs on at once and have a whole new pair!! (Don't laugh, no one will ever know!!) =)

4.) Nice boots are expensive but they can really dress up an outfit. I had to go to a court hearing a couple weeks ago, and when I got dressed I noticed the toes of my black leather boots were totally scuffed. It was a snowy day and polish would never dry in time.... so I grabbed a Sharpie and colored over the scuffs. It worked beautifully!!!! It stayed shiny even after walking through the snow, and has not worn off like shoe polish does. I fixed up my little girl's new black boots the same way!!

5.) Some tips for Laundry Day: Washing in cold water keeps your clothes from fading and shrinking... Turning everything inside out protects logos on tee shirts, and keeps fabric surfaces smooth... Zipping jeans keeps the zippers from breaking or damaging/ snagging other items... Air drying is the least damaging to clothes... but if you want to use the dryer, you can dry just long enough to fluff the items and remove wrinkles, and then take the clothes out and either continue drying flat, on a rack, or on hangers. This will keep them from shrinking and fading, as well.

6.) Oh yes, and no post on saving money on clothing would be complete, without my handy underwire bra repair tip!! You know how expensive they can be, and isn't it awful (and painful) when the underwire bursts through and pokes you!!

All you need is a hot glue gun. Push the wire back into place, and with one hand, hold the torn edges of fabric together, while squirting a glob of glue to cover the opening. Let it cool, and when it is still soft, press the glob of glue nice and flat, and keep holding it together until it dries completely. This repair is comfortable, doesn't show, and will last through several washings and air dryings. (Of course you are air-drying your bras, right?! =) They will last at least twice as long, that way.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Frugal Hog Dogs!

I was invited to tag along one day with my friend to spend the afternoon with her mom who lived on a ranch about three hours away. Her brothers were the ranch hands on a big spread.

The three of us were sitting at the kitchen table visiting when her son came in and asked, "Mom, do you have some hot dogs?..." She got up, reached into the freezer, grabbed some hot dogs and handed them to her son while he continued to explain that a coyote had gotten one of the calves. They would need to put some poison on the hot dogs to kill the coyote. I'll tell you what, those hot dogs barely touched his fingers before she snatched them right back quicker than lightening and quite seriously exclaimed, "NOT my OSCAR*MAYER wieners!" She then reached back into the freezer and produced a package of generic hot dogs for her ranch hand son. I about fell out of my chair I was laughing so hard!

I think of this fun story a lot, especially now in these hard economic times. This woman, who had lived through the depression, had learned lessons in frugalness and had continued to apply them throughout her life. Hers wasn't an attitude of 'It's ok, there's plenty more where that came from', but one of 'Waste not, want not'--even when times were good.

It reminds me of the story of Joseph in Genesis 40-41. After he was falsely accused and thrown into prison, he was eventually released after he interprets the fat cow/skinny cow dreams of Pharoah. Pharoah then puts Joseph in charge of managing the economic affairs of Egypt. Now Joseph was in an awesome position. He was living in the lap of luxury, second only to Pharoah. But he knew that Egypt was going to experience a horrible economic crunch, so he prepared and planned and taught the people how to be frugal with their income (crops) so that when the famine did hit, as predicted, they were prepared and even had enough to feed the people in surrounding areas, not to mention being reunited with his family.

I love the scripture Susan wrote in the introduction: Every wise woman buildeth her house; but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands. Proverbs 14:11

Being frugal shouldn't be something that is only learned out of necessity, but it should be a lifestye of management in good times and bad.

Remember, NOT my OSCAR*MAYER wieners!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Food Costs tips

    Okay, here we go!

  1. Do not throw out ANY left over food. Find some way to use the left overs; in another meal or some other way.

  2. Expanding on #1 above: put all little "dabs" of vegetables in a bag or container in your freezer and add to them each time, even if it's just a spoonful of corn or peas, etc. When you make vegetable soup or a stew, etc. you can add the contents of this container.

  3. You can do the same with a "dab" of fruit and then add them when you make a fruit salad.

  4. Use a rubber spatula. I find this to be one of the thriftiest tools in my kitchen. Scrape out every last bit of any and everything in a jar, a can, or the sides of mixing bowls. It is amazing how much food is left on the sides and wasted.

  5. Try not to buy items in plastic squeeze bottles because you cannot scrape them out as above.

Monday, February 9, 2009

WELCOME to our new blog!

Thank you for coming by to check us out!!!!

You can read our PURPOSE on our header.

On the side bar you can read ABOUT US.

You can read about the 5 of us who make up this blog on ABOUT ME.

Our goal is to have easy access to frugal ideas all gathered in one central, easy to find location. As we develop the site we will have various topic headings for your easy reference.

I was raised by very frugal parents, who had lived through the depression, and I was taught, at a very early age, the importance of being frugal. I was raised in a Christian home and Church who instilled in me that I was a Steward, or manage, of the things God allowed me to have and use. GOD being the rightful OWNER!!!

I believe we are beginning to see very dramatic changes in the world as we have known it. That we are, by necessity, going to have to become more self reliant, more frugal, more sharing with others, more reliant on our Lord and God than ever before.

There are MANY scriptures that speak to us as God's children, as wives, as mothers. I'm sharing a few of my favorite ones that have guided my life and purpose.

I Corinthians 4:2 "Moreover it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful."

Wise Woman
Proverbs 14:11 "Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands."

Proverbs 18:15 "The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge."

Proverbs 24:3-4 "Through wisdom is a house builded; and by understanding it is established. And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches."

The Wise Woman
Proverbs 31:27 "She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness."

The one I keep foremost in my heart and mind, as I watch our world changing literally day by day before our very eyes and not knowing what is going to happen to our wonderful country is:


Psalm 37:25 "I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not see the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread."

We want to include YOUR ideas, tips and secrets. We certainly know we do not know it all!!! Please submit them to us and we will add them to this blog.

Thank you again for coming by and checking us out. We will not necessary be posting every day and some days you may find multiple posts if we all have something the same day. I hope you will add this blog to your favorites, or bookmark it, so you can readily find us. I trust we can all grow together in the Lord as we serve, first HIM, our households, and each other.