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Grow Your Own! ...no, not that, THiS...

December 29th, 2011 at 01:38 pm

The hanging bottles of Saving Some $$'s...


Love it...now, if he could just figure out how to recirculate from the bottom back to the top on the cheap with a Rube Goldberg...way to also drip in some plant food it would be totally self sufficient except for the planting and harvesting...LOVE IT!!! YUM...cheap eats!

AND, I'm back to making more regular bank runs - taking the weekly change savings to the bank and then moving them online to get a few pennies of interest cooking. Today's haul from Pigger? $5.30.

P.S. In case you missed it, check out my earlier blog this morning for a video interview of Ms. Amy Dacyczyn of Tightwad Gazette fame.

Penny Art for The Penny Experiment

January 20th, 2010 at 08:39 am

One of the projects I worked on over the blizzard holidays was our own Saving Advice dot com owner, Jeffrey Strain's pet hunger project, The Penny Experiment.

I mailed off my art earlier this week to Jeffrey once we were able to mobilize ourselves from the snow banks. It does not yet appear on the pages of The Penny Experiment, so you are getting a sneak peek preview.

In For A Penny,
In For A Pound

by Lux Living Frugalis
5x7, mixed media, gallery wrapped canvas

How it might look framed:

I would recommend a much larger gold tone frame, or at least that's how I would frame it myself.

As many of my readers know I am of Native American ancestry and thus tried to use that theme in my project. And, as I am rather a private person I just signed it using my pseudonym here at Saving Advice.

BUT, here's the SPECIAL OFFER kicker, if any one of the members of Saving Advice dot com bloggerdom wins this auction and wants to ship it back to me (it cost me $3.45 via USPS to mail it to Jeffrey), I will sign my real life name to the back of the canvas and give my tribal registration info and will mail it back to you at my expense. Who knows, it may become more valuable that way.

These postcard size artworks, mine and others, will be auctioned to raise money for Jeffrey's hunger initiative on how one man took a found penny that teens scoffed at picking up and turned the nucleus idea of a penny outwards to help feed the hungry. To read more about the project and how to get involved, go to The Penny Experiment at:


There, you'll be able to sign up for notice of when the auctioning begins. Be sure to check out the gallery.

A Good Grease Monkey Is Always Prepared

November 20th, 2009 at 04:11 pm

"Ohhh! Now THAT's gonna cost ya!"

"Very few people have knowledge of their true expenses. Because they do not consider intermittent and irregular expenses as regular monthly obligations, their expenses turn into emergencies and financial crises." -Mary Hunt

As we are lately revamping the Frugalis House Budget, I thought I'd give a breakdown on what we put back each month on automotive expenses over and above repair/maintain/replace funds, gasoline expenses & the auto insurance escrow.

Many people overlook these costs listed below and then are caught short when it's time to pay the piper. Some of these things come up at the most inconvenient times.

These are monthly amounts set back for future costs. Yes, I literally move them into savings to hold until the money is all there. I also set back a small bit of money each month to replace our driver's licenses. On the side the date listed is when we anticipate needing these things replaced.

On the car:
Car Battery $2.15 /$50 - 2 years
Car Tires $10.41 / $250 - 2 years
Car Tag $6.95 /$83.40 - yearly
Car Oil Changes $8.75/$105-$35x3 times year
$28.26 per month

On the truck:
Truck Battery $2.15 /$50 - 2 years
Truck Tires $22.22 / $400 - 18 months
Truck Tag $5.20 /$62.40 - yearly
Truck Oil Changes $5.83/$70-$35x2 times year
$35.40 per month

Today was a No Spend Day for me. The housebudget spent money on dog food $11.45 & getting the dog's toenails clipped $5.00 and stocking up on dishwashing soap while it was on sale for 69 cents a bottle & some ice-cream $8.44.

A nice change of events (I'm afraid to call and find out why) but I got our recent electric bill and it's down about $30 lower than usual. I'll take it!

Our Banana Crop

November 9th, 2009 at 11:13 am

We've grown banana trees for years - technically we're in a growing zone that freezes each winter, so must take them out of the ground as winter approaches.

This year we didn't water them much at all besides the original watering in after planting and the occasional bucket of water I saved when showering. We dig them out and put them in the basement for overwintering. Took some pictures of a part of our crop.


Hanging on fence after harvesting

The ferny looking thing is another plant, a cypress vine, not part of the banana.

These are Hawaiian fingerlings. Had some on my breakfast cereal today. We grow them more for the landscaping qualities, but the fruit is a nice side benefit. They make for great shade on our concrete patio.

Shade & the red thing ? is where the next row will begin budding out

During the last week of October the banana trees were taken out and put away for winter. Come next April out they'll go again. We call it cheap entertainment and a bit of exercise. We often have folks stop and out Hubster goes to give a lesson in banana growing in our climate.

My Honey Bear & His Sidekick

November 2nd, 2009 at 07:40 am

Yes, Hubster is an awfully sweet man, but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about my plastic honey bear, Hank. He's about to get all likker'd up inside.

On Saturday I went to our local farm store where they were having a 20% off everything that fit in their 'green' bag sale. You had to buy their 99cent bag. So worth it.

They were having honey on sale. 5 lbs. bottles - which normally sells there at 13.99 a bottle, on sale for 10.99.

I had four dollar off coupons. I ended up getting my honey at $7.99 a bottle. Almost half off. SCORE!! How Sweet It Is!!

I bought four jugs. Honey does not go bad. It might crystalize, but stick jug in warm water and the honey melts back. This stash should last a while.

I have been weaning myself off of white sugar and have gone to using honey as my main sweetener.

I refill my little honey bear, Hank, from the big jug. A savings device. Buying those individual little bears can get costly. I'd like to have a nice glass or ceramic honeypot. Maybe I could put it on my Christmas list, along with the tea ball I'm asking for?

And as for honey bear's sidekick?

Meet Poppie, The Popcorn Clown.

Not OUR Poppie!

A hold over from my childhood days. We keep our 'currently using' popcorn in an old Grapette Syrup bottle in the cabinet. Our storage for larger supplies is elsewhere. Poppie, kind of scary in a droopy sort of way, but friendly none the less. These are neat old bottles that had a slot in the top for making him into a bank.

Here the 1 lb. bags at the grocery had been going for .88 a bag for years. All of a sudden they are up to 1.39 a bag! I like to stock up so I don't have to wander out in the snow and ice later. Said farm store had 12&1/2 pound bags on sale for $5.49. Since they fit in the 20% off bag? I got two bags, making my outlay for popcorn at .359ish a pound. SCORE!!

Popcorn - an inexpensive, yet filling snack. It's a Sunday afternoon tradition at my house, no matter how large the luncheon feast, we pop a big bowl of popcorn and settle in for a movie & nap.

My bag was heaaaaa-vy - 45 lbs plus. I also stocked up on a few spices while I was at it. I can pack a bag let me tell you! And, now I have another nice little green bag to go with my others.

Hank & Poppie, a couple of friendly faces when I open my cupboard - they, along with Pigger, help me save & stretch our food money.


October 17th, 2009 at 09:32 pm

1)Laundry DONE

2)Paint ceiling in Dining Room 1st coat DONE (prep work so Hubster can get crown molding up in that room) Needed because WACKED OUT bug spray man hit the ceiling in here with his bug juice making BIG ugly stains! Saving myself the cost of hiring a painter worth it's price in a post-whiplash neck-ache to a Frugalista such as myself. Ben-gay here I come.

3)CashHappySon's coats & winter wear from basement DONE

4)Cut up last of canteloupe likely for this season before it's gone-by freshness date DONE

5)Hang up clothes on top of dog cage DONE

Five Things Challenge Update-The Sunday Edition

October 4th, 2009 at 11:44 am

Five Things Challenge Update

The Sunday Edition

d-o-n-e, done, Done, D-o-N-e, ..and DONE!!!

On today's list were:

[x]1)House Budget checking account balanced. - This is different than the other two I did the other day. Account is rather on the empty side though, so watching House Budget spending extra closely for a day or two.

[x]2)Cook Sunday lunch trying a new recipe. Used another out of Kraft's Food & Family magazine. Not horrid, not bad, but probably won't repeat - Chicken & Stuffing type casserole.

I did try one in there last night that FrugalSon said was FABULOUS. (Haven't heard that in a while!) It was the Chicken Caesar Wraps. I wouldn't say fabulous, but Hubster and I both agreed they were pretty good.

I, of course, being me, changed the recipe around to make it a warm wrap by heating the bacon, chicken & cheese before filling the warmed tortillas. Served with soup as I wasn't sure how filling it would be and it was rainy & damp by supper time yesterday.

I am trying new recipes because we had gotten into somewhat of a rut AND I'm trying to cook more since CashHappySon is not here to trade off cooking with FrugalSon & I. Have to get myself back in the cooking habit!

[x]3)File all the paperwork from bills paid. This tends to stack up! There were several months that needed doing.

And for future to-do's, there is still purging that needs to be done in filing cabinet. That might make the actual filing a more enjoyable thing if it weren't crammed full!

[x]4)Write a thank you note. A native friend sent me FREE copies of two books he wrote. I wanted to send my thank you note on native stationary, but it was in the other room and I put this off ALL WEEK rather than get on up off my duff and go dig it out. Took me all of 15 seconds once I made myself get it done! How often do we do this to ourselves? The packing envelope has been dragging me down all week sitting here on the desk LOOKING AT ME waiting to be done! That procrastination on my part was making me lose the joy of the gift!

[X]5)Clip and sort coupons. I've not been using coupons much the past few years once I lost my nice organized coupon box, but I can save money when I use them, so since we're getting ready to be 'fixed income' folks? I might want to get back into the habit. I sorted them by use-by date & put them in a ziplock in my wallet, at least until I see if I want to get back into couponing more seriously.

On another note I sat up in bed and slapped myself on the head this morning. Even though we've decided not to put our MM money into CDs for the moment until the SS & pension checks start coming, what is stopping me from moving it over to just drawing more interest? I don't know. How silly. Moved it just now! Gaaa!!! Then if we don't need it, it can slip right into some CDs.

Didn't get the chest of drawers painted because it clouded over all afternoon yesterday and I was afraid to risk it. Sure enough, we rolled it on the dolly back into the utility room and no more than 5 minutes later? Raindrops!

Maybe early some time this coming week it will get done. I know for sure I don't want it sitting in my utility room for very long. Needs another 30 minutes or so of sanding. I walked by and caught Hubster giving it a 'feel' to see if it was done right! Big Grin Still cloudy & rainy looking here today so, no-can-do today.

He finished installing crown molding yesterday evening in LR. Next to do is fill nailholes and joints then touch up paint. We may have to caulk a few places at the ceiling line as this old place (built 1942ish) has a few wavy spots on the ceiling line. IOWs, not much was level to begin with on this project. Pics to come when finished. Then it's on to the dining room molding!

Today will be a stay home and No Spend Day! Maybe some popcorn, a movie in the DVD player and a nap.

Could you eat on $4 a day?

October 1st, 2009 at 03:47 pm

It's over but you can read about one person's experience on the San Francisco Food Bank's 2009 Hunger Challenge here:


Maybe you'd like to try this experiment?

Or maybe you're already having to live on this amount for food already?

I think I might be able to do it successfully, but it would be hard to do -I think - to even get started here as I am a pantry-holic. Mine are overflowing because I do the scratch-n-dent thing.

We are blessed.

Yes, the center shelf is bowed from weight. I know. I told you, I have a problem with overfilling the pantry. You'd think someone starved me as a child. But, no - such is not the case. I could just blame it on the cabinet maker, couldn't I? AND, this is just one cabinet. They are all like this - and the basement pantry is well stocked as well. hmmm...

Limiting myself to new things purchased to make meals might prove a bit of a challenge because we're well stocked, but I think I could do it. Keeping hunger at bay? I would be thinking protein.

Her blog posts about this challenge are interesting, inspiring & informative to read.

Today is a No Spend Day for me.

Made a pot of homemade potato soup for lunch. Here's my bowl:

Mmmmmmm! Comfort food!

We'll be eating Chicken, Rice & Broccoli casserole for supper. I used Kraft's free Food & Family magazine for the recipe, but shhhh! don't tell - I didn't use all Kraft products to pull it off.


September 21st, 2009 at 10:38 am

"Does this smile make my wallet look fatter?"

We are TOTALLY Debt Free!

I came home from the bank after wiring the mortgage company their money and decided I wanted to have a MOMENT of debt-freeness. So, who else did I owe?

I had small balances on 2 credit cards. These are from this month's charges as we don't carry a balance EVER any more. Went online and PAID OFF. Balance $0.

And, I'm planning on calling them and getting our credit limits lowered! Who needs all that exposure to rip-off? I do have an open dispute with one CC company over a $31.54 charge to McDonald's. I've never spent that kind of money there EVERRRRRRRRRRR! Should've been $3.54. I am a dollar menu shopper unless I'm splurging on a salad.

We owed our accountant $147. I just now wrote him a check and took it to the post office. Balance $0.

We are totally and completely debt free.

We don't owe anybody anything - other than the utility companies their normal monthly charges - any money whatsover!

We are UTTERLY FREE!!! Taaaaaaaa-daaaa!

It feels awesome now, but it will feel extra special good-a-licious Each and Every first of the month when I don't have to send off a wad of cash to the mortgage company.

Paid off 4 years and 8 months early from our contractual obligation!

Breaking the chains of debt? It can be done!

Now, we'll be fueling even more dollars into our House Maintenance Fund for future repair needs on the house - carpets are getting worn, roof in the next ten years likely, and heat/air-conditioner could need replacing at any time.

We do need to do some bathroom repairs relatively soon too as we need to replace our bathtub and the resulting sheetrock & tile work that goes along with. Even if we decide to sell and downsize, the bathroom will HAVE TO be repaired or made allowance for.

I will likely split what was going to mtg. to my retirement funds and this House Maintenance Fund.

I am a happy camper with minimum household utilities running currently around $315 average and $135 a month going for household taxes (apprx. $660 year) and insurance (apprx. $800 year) and other 'slush fund needs'.

So, our household expenses are sitting right now at ONLY $450 a month (not counting saving for repairs & upkeep).

I can tell you friends that's a wonderfully scenic place to be sitting looking at retirement!

Now to convince Hubster we need solar, a woodstove and a water-well and we could get those things lowered even further!! Big Grin I would like to say that I was being tongue-in-cheek, but what sane person likes to pay the utility companies???? I don't.

Either we've got to get those things OR get our investments up in order to have them paid for by the investments in my mind's eye. I know it is probably silly, but wouldn't it be fun to own enough dividend paying electric stock to where your own electric bill became a wash? and gas bill, water bills, etc. doing likewise????? I would ADORE THAT!

A new goal!!! Big Grin Everybody needs something to shoot for, right?

Stay Tuned!!

P.S. I wanted to buy us a treat for today, but suceeded in not spending any money while I was out! So I outlayed a boatload of money today, but not out of my personal wallet, so today's a No Spend Day!!

I did grab two FREE suckers from the bank counter (after telling the lady if they were paying decent interest we wouldn't be doing this) and we have steak, stuff for baked potatoes, salad and a good bottle of wine for tonight's celebratory meal! Don't worry, I won't abandon my Frugalicious Gene ways, I just got the sirloin steaks out of the freezer to defrost - they have an orange REDUCED label on them - cost? $2.33! The wine was bought at case discount costs on our last vacation.

Breathing freely!!! Now off to paint some crown molding trim that was in the attic when we bought the house. Hubster is going to put it up for me as soon as I get it painted.

Other Uses for Coffee Filters?

July 11th, 2009 at 08:15 am


I can see that you could also tie them up & use them to make up your own tea blends after you've mixed your favorite decoction.

I've written before that my Hubster prefers these paper filters, while I prefer the metal ones. This makes having the paper ones on hand not seem so wasteful!

Adding to the $20 Challenge

February 27th, 2009 at 02:44 pm

Let me pump up the volume, at least slightly by adding $5.27 to the $20 Challenge. While I'm not so good at stimulating the economy as President Obama - I did do my part today and spent online a bit on some new acrylic paints - I'll offset the price of these by selling some of my older (perfectly fine & usable) ones to FrugalSon who is in need of some. I just prefer this other brand when I can get them. A win-win situation. I get to upgrade for about $2.00 in price difference and he gets good servicable paint.

$016.82 balance
+005.27 addition
$022.09 Feb MTD

2009 Challenge Total $43.24
Cumulative Challenge Total $1046.02

Listed five items today on ebay - 4 books and a t-shirt. I did not spend any gas today, and am staying in for supper - cooking chicken and mashed potatoes w/gravy.

Spent about 45 minutes in the basement cleaning and re-arranging today! Yeah ME!!! Trying to get myself in gear so FrugalSon can move down there and use the bigger room. Must be cleared of FIL's estate stuff and we just piled it in there at the time of his passing. There is much to be done to make this room usable, but it's doable. Just too easy for it to be - out of sight, out of mind! FrugalSon and I have been spending at least 30 minutes a day for the last week working down there.

Johnny Law and CashHappySon

January 31st, 2009 at 12:42 pm

I've been working on my ebay listings today (14 new items listed), so there's that for future income. I've also priced a couple of old fashioned outside metal chairs and an enamel bucket for sale in my junque booth. I go on Monday to install them in the booth and pick up my January sales check.

Adding to the $20 Challenge

$015.91 balance
$021.15 Jan MTD

2009 Challenge Total $21.15
Cumulative Challenge Total $1023.93

CashHappySon called today wanting to pick up his W-2 so he can go do an instant refund thingawhichie. Thing is he can't really afford the fees for a fast back refund. Not sure if he'll even get a refund since he cashed in part of his retirement (401-K & IRA) this year to pay off his car loan to us.

He did go buy himself a Go-Phone (something like a pay as you go Trac-Phone) blaming me saying that I complained that I couldn't reach him. I explained to him that my statement of fact did not constitute a complaint nor a need for him to spend money he doesn't really have! Oh well. He WANTS a phone.

I hope he can use it in jail when he gets to court on Monday. That's a whole 'nuther story about the $1000 clunker car he signed for from his side-job boss (against Mom & Dad's advice) and got stopped by Johnny-Law and it got impounded because he had no insurance on it nor did it have a tag.

Tickets for that little part of this fun-tasmagoric saga equal $788.00.

Since the car was not offically in his name yet the impound lot hasn't dunned him - YET! The boss says to forget about the car and just let it set there as he doesn't want it or the title back.

Oh yes, he also mentioned that the apartment managment is fining him $100 for having a pet in the apartment without having come and put up the proper pet deposit. All of which was carefully explained to him when he went to rent the apartment. I know it was because I was there when the guy laid out all the rules for him. Ho-Hum!

You breakie the rules - you pay-ee!! He'll learn I suppose.

On sale at the local grocery this weekend was our favorite big-name brand pop at 69 cents a liter. We bought a bunch! We bought 30 bottles! Since it's hard anymore to find them on sale for the normal 99 cents and usually priced at $1.25 this seemed like a great offer. Of course I fell for it and bought a couple of other things - like the slicing tomatoes & cream cheese I went in after! I didn't know they were having the sale so it was a happy surprise.

Going To the Dogs-Waiting for the Clinic To Open

January 15th, 2009 at 06:41 am

"A house without a dog is not a home."~~??

Sick, snotty, aching and waiting for the clinic to open. YEACH!

Adding to the challenge.

$004.08 balance
+000.19 change on desk
$004.27 Jan MTD

2009 Challenge Total $004.27
Cumulative Challenge Total $1007.05

Went grocery shopping yesterday the first time since the 26th of December for $135.15 and what did I get? Nothing too exciting just rising prices everywhere. The biggest jump I've noticed is in dry dog food prices which used to run in the $9-10 range are now $13.50-$18.00.

Oh and I forgot to mention that Hubster got a call from his old boss the other day and their plant will be closing permanently and will be liquidated, so there is no going back there! That ship has sailed.

...and now to send you to an interesting place to read with some great monetary cartoons...


...did I mention it's snowing on top of the rest of the pits around here???



It Is!

Off to bundle my sorry self up to my eyeballs and go out and dig out the car and slip off to the clinic. Thank God we have insurance to at least the end of the month then it's on to figuring out how to pay the awful-oughta-be-a-law COBRA fees.

Heat'n Up The Cooktop, Oven & House

August 16th, 2008 at 03:50 pm

A cooking mood has struck of late. Last night was homemade pizza night. Tried a new flatbread recipe for the dough - ehhh, I like my AmyD Tightwad recipe better. Back to the old tried and true.

Cooking moods seem to come on when the weather cools down. It has been about 10-15 degrees cooler here than normal so it's been nose to the cooktop this afternoon. I find that if I cook ahead on Saturday it saves me time, frustration and most of all money when the question after church is always, "Hey Mom, what's for lunch?"

I made a 9 x 13 pan of Dark Chocolate Brownies for lunch tomorrow. Thank you Betty Crocker. When that came out I baked four potatoes for tomorrow's meal plus a 9 x 13 pan of hot rolls all which we'll heat & eat tomorrow.

For lunch today we had the original 'po white trash lunch of Spam, Cheese, fried onions & Durkees sauce sammies, with chips, dip & pork n' beans, iced tea. Lawn mowing on the agenda this afternoon for the male Frugalis types.

For supper I made a new recipe for me. I didn't have all the ingredients to do a traditional Gyros or a Lebanese wrap called a Shawarma, so I did an adaptation on both.

I made the traditional Lebanese Garlic Sauce (yummers).

Then instead of pita bread I used tortilla shells that I had on hand.

Didn't have any lamb, so I used a cube steak that I had in the freezer. Sliced it thin, browned it off w/a tiny hint of olive oil & mint, garlic salt, allspice, cumin, worsesterchire sauce & a smidge of liquid smoke. It was meant to feed Hubster & I on a night when the boys are both at work. Well, I needed to use it tonight to feed three of us which is what sent me on a search of something to do with it.

In the frig were lettuce, tomato, onion. I got busy w/the chopping.

So it went together like this:

Warm tortilla shell in skillet. Put on plate. Spread on lots of garlic sauce. Add line of shredded lettuce down the middle, top w/tomatos & onions, (these onions are supposed to be spiced but I hadn't the time) and the surprise ingredient is a dill pickle spear laid down the middle. Top w/four or five chunks of the browned meat. Wrap or fold like a taco and eat over something that can catch the drips. Wear a bib.

Very good and that yummy garlic sauce helps clean out the sinuses! Do a google search there are various recipes out there. I changed this one around a bit:


I didn't have sea salt, so I just used regular salt, only 1/4 cup of lemon juice from the plastic lemon, and I added about a teaspoon of parsley to mine as it was blending. Blender wanted to blog down towards the end - so in reality probably only used about 1 3/4 cups of oil. Oh, I also didn't have a fresh garlic head, but jars of chopped garlic that you buy at Aldi's. I just used about 1/4 cup - give or take. Yeah, I'm that kinda cook. Smile

While cleaning up the kitchen tonight I got all soppy over my little kitchen tools. It's amazing what all one can do with the right tools. Supposedly I need an immersion blender to do that sauce. I don't have one - my old glass blender had to do. I wouldn't mind having one, so I might put it on my Christmas list. My knives are shabby, chipped & worn and that could also be a future purchase.

I can forsee the days when I'm back to cooking much more than I have in the last few years as the kids have always done so much cooking while learning & honing their kitchen skills. My tupperware & equivalents are looking pretty sad and sparse as well. I suppose I should let the extended family know that I could use a few updates in this area before they get all industrious and get all their Christmas shopping done. (I've been doing a bit of online Christmas shopping myself.)

What got me all misty today? My little red pastry brush shaped like a man & my measuring cup that looks like a chemistry beaker of sorts. Mine, isn't this brand but looks very similar, was a gift from Mom.

They've been with me a while and I appreciate that they are always in the drawer & cabinet ready to whip up something good for my family.

Silly, I know! Big Grin But that's what happens when you have time to ruminate while burping garlic over a sink full of suds & dirty dishes!

Good sturdy kitchen tools are worth the original expense!

I looked at an oil mister yesterday at the store and passed it over. Today I could have used it as I was out of cooking spray. Well! Hummmpf! To the rescue? My little red man pastry brush. It may not be au'current, but he still works and I probably paid less than 50 cents for him at a junk or yard sale years and Years and YEARS ago!

Did I mention?

FrugalSon passed his driving test!!


See my blog roll for the BIG story!! Poor kid - it only took him about 7 or 8 tries to get past the parallel parking!


Let the good times roll!!

Twenty-Two Will Fit w/Flowers

August 1st, 2008 at 02:33 pm

One is hiding behind the faucet!

MyrtlesMoney inspired me with her blueberry shot to show you my tomato harvest for the last couple of days. We're a bit behind in getting them eaten! I'll have to be more mindful to get these packed off in lunches or given to hapless passerbys! Four or five a day is all the salad needs. We are popping them like mad! We are eating from left to right...

My big tomato plants have tons of green tomatoes on them but none seem to want to ripen! Any clues as to why? It's hotter than Hades here. All I can think of is possibly there isn't enough airflow because of other nearby plantings - tall four-o'clocks, or that some of those plants may be shading my tomatoes too much??? This is my first year with these planted in the top yard rather than down in my big garden so perhaps the soil is lacking something??

Also this is my AFTER picture of the kitchen w/the new light fixture (sorry, I couldn't find a small enough mini-chandelier in my patience level time frame) and new ceiling paint. Now the kitchen walls need re-painting. These two lights were el-cheapo ($18.99 for the set but at the checkout I was surprised by a sale & a total of $15.15), but do match the rest of the house. Keep scrolling back through my archives a week or two back to see the old ugly renter's special BEFORE shot! So when I do find the perfect mini-chandelier I won't feel too bad about the $7.57 loss of this one. This light makes me happier than the old one!

I lived thru the Corian fest & now the marble-fest on updating my countertops without spending. Not because I wanted to mind you, but all that the budget would allow was a small paint fix to the area where laminating come up missing on the old countertops.

One day I'll have new countertops if it harelips everyone I live with! New recently as a couple of months ago we did finally get an updated kitchen faucet. See it in this shot! Wooo-hooo! A couple of years back we managed to put down Pergo floors in the kitchen & utility rooms. So there has been some updating to the house since we've had her.

The lighting fixture for the utility room matches this one plus the other in another part of the kitchen area. Nothing to be done about the ugly flourescent one in the middle of the kitchen though as our ceilings are too low for any other kind of fixture unless you go to messing w/can lights. Maybe one day! We did replace the basementy-metal-model flourescent w/a half-way decent wood look flourescent in the kitchen a year or so, but it's still ugly.

Other things ought to come first before countertops, such as new carpeting for the rest of the house (beyond gone), a couch & loveseat for the living room (getting tattered) & a new mattress (way lumpy) for Hubster's back!

Our house is comfortable except for that mattress - not magazine perfect though. Plenty of living going on with me home all day every day, the boys home most mornings at least half to 3/4 of the day and Hubster home in the evenings it gets plenty of wear. I don't want to seem ungrateful. I love my house, just wish I could freshen everything all at once!

The floral selection in the picture is from wild honeysuckle type vines that FrugalSon picked for me. Good kid!

So You Think You Can Dance?

June 21st, 2008 at 05:49 am

Bellydancer Suhair Zaki


Got cases of chicken noodle soup yesterday at the scratch-n-dent for $3.88. Only catch? No labels. So, I spent a bit of time yesterday writing the contents on the cans & boxes. Each year finds somebody sick and wanting chicken noodle soup! Other good buy was pretzels 4 bags/$1. And I got Hubster some funky color shoe-polishes for his cowboys boots which are funky colored for .88 a can.


Yesterday my step-dad paid me $50 on the computer he bought from Hubster. These dollars have to go back in the kitty. Sorry Hubster! Big Grin


This past week I finally got through all the paperwork on CashHappySon's 401-K offerings and got him signed up. Reading them is bad enough but explaining those things to another person is complicated to me, so I fell back on the nice explanation found around page 90 in David Bach's 'Automatic Millionaire' book. We set CashHappy's deferral rate to 18% which should just about match what he's been putting into his Roth.

Still left to do is stop CashHappys' Roth contributions for now. With his car payment, paying room & board here plus trying to save for moving out he can't afford to do both right now.

His 401-K plan does not offer an employer match that I could see. But, it did have a place to set up automatic 1% yearly increases, which we did. Thing is, the kiddo is 19. How likely will he be to stay at this place of employment? Ehhh, not too sure, but we're doing what we can while we can.


Also yesterday we spent some time on the phone with FrugalSon's employee benefits office getting him signed up for health insurance. He finally got some small scrap of paperwork saying the open enrollment dates, which window was mighty short for use in view of vacation plans. There were no written explanation of benefits forthcoming!! BAHHH! It's complicated enough - try doing it without the info in front of you!

Eventually we got him signed up for health & dental insurance yesterday. They offer disability but the lady did not tell us about it and we'll have to call back another day to get a rate quote! Sheesh, it's always something.

Also on FrugalSon's we'll have to adjust his Roth contributions downward by about $30 a month in order to make his small salary cover everything. He's been contributing the maximum, but we'll just have the insurance and lower the contributions for now and if no huge expenses come up during the year attempt to fully fund his Roth from his emergency or car repair savings at the end of the contribution period.


What I want to know is how do parents with 6 to 15 children handle all the paperwork for all their jobs??? Good grievies!!! I'm tired with just two of them still at home!

My parents generation never had to help with all this stuff because it didn't exist back then! They can say life is easier now, which may be true, but it is more complicated and comes with more hoops to be jumped through - what with the limited open enrollment dates and such! PHEW!


For myself there's a problem in my Sharebuilder account which requires me to send a notarized letter. I went to my bank last evening (long hours) and no notary was on duty. I'll be going back this morning to get the darn thing notarized and off in the mail. Due to security reasons it could not be handled over the phone. Pain in the patumpkus!!

This entry reminds me of one of my favorite HAPPY songs - I Wanna See You Bellydance by the Red Elvises! Stop the music from up above & listen to a clip here:


or listen to the entire song & watch them at:


Great Album!

No, I don't think I can dance - but if they keep those hoops low enough I think I can roll through them! Big Grin

Anybody have any bunion pads? Ben-gay??

edited to add:
Found money in house clean-up:

$022.74 balance
+000.28 clean-up
$023.02 MTD

2008 Challenge Total $164.10
Challenge Cumulative Total $692.71

Feeling Lennonish, but Albert works!

May 30th, 2008 at 08:39 am

The conversation over on the SavingAdvice.com forums about folks trying to feed themselves on limited means and with limited shopping options has got me feeling all Lennonish this a.m. But, Albert will work! We're ALL needed to fight the gorilla on our joint humanity backs! No man is an island.

"A human being is a part of a whole,
called by us _universe_,
a part limited in time and space.
He experiences himself,
his thoughts and feelings as
something separated from the rest..
a kind of optical delusion
of his consciousness.
This delusion is a kind of prison for us,
restricting us to our personal desires
and to affection for a few
persons nearest to us.
Our task must be to free ourselves from
this prison by widening our circle
of compassion
to embrace
all living creatures and the
whole of nature in its beauty."

~ Albert Einstein

The May utility figures are in:

$90.75 CableTV/Internet/Phone
$92.00 Gas
$63.00 Electricity
$49.40 Water/Ambulance
$14.00 Trash
$309.15 May total

April totals were $318.70, so we're down $9.55 this month! YEAH!! Big Grin

Cleaning out the wallet to add to the $20 Challenge:

$013.25 balance
$020.17 cleanout
$33.42 May MTD

2008 Challenge Total $141.08
Cumulative Challenge Total $669.69

Convenience is Taxing Me How Much?

May 29th, 2008 at 08:15 am

Yesterday on a small grocery shop ($36.27) at Aldi's I went ahead and bought powdered coffee creamer there at $1.49 when I know I can get it cheaper at the dollar type stores, where it's usually just a dollar.

I did it the last time I shopped as well. And, I'm aggravated at myself about it.

No, I wasn't out, but I didn't want to run out either and I lazily didn't want to stop at the dollar store. Grrr!

And, I'm wondering just how much this convenience shopping is taxing me in a year's time?????

So, on the shopping list for the next dollar store shop? A BUNCH of creamer! Perhaps a years worth!

And another thing that came to mind while perusing the ticket upon my arrival home...the tax rate. There are two near-by Aldi's in our general metro area. One of them lies in a different town. I'm thinking the food-tax rate might be different in the smaller suburban town. I need to check on that. The difference? The one in the main metro area is 18 miles from my house. The other is 21 miles away. If taxes are lower, in the long run, it might pay to drive the extra 3 miles. Yesterday, I was already in the neighborhood of the one I shopped at. Next time, I might have a choice.

What kind of Convenience Tax are you paying? And on what? Is it worth it to you? How often are you convenience taxing yourself??? And would the actual tax rate on what you are buying be cheaper if you drove a few more miles? Would it be worth it to you?

Vitamin D is Cheap Entertainment

May 13th, 2008 at 05:21 am

Yesterday we did shopping & banking errands while we were on our way to and from set activities.

FrugalSon, TheGrrl and I, packed a few homemade sandwiches & filled bottles w/homemade tea and headed to the lake (about five miles away). No swimming but they enjoyed a walk before and after lunch and we had a fire in the firepit and watched a family of ducks, enjoyed lots of pretty wildflowers, and soaking up lots of good Vitamin D sunshine. Cheap entertainment. I read my book and laid in the sun while they held hands and walked around. Then we let TheGrrl-i-o practice her driving on the empty roads around the lake. She says I'm more patient that either of her parents.

Got good stuff at the scratch-n-dent grocery on the way home from the lake. 2 jars of soup base .79 a jar, 4-parmesan cheese shaker cans .99, small mayo/mustard jars at .49 each for vacation packing, 2 BIG boxes of cheeze-its at .99 a box, 4 big jars of dill pickles at .99 a jar.

We came home, put up our groceries, and I mowed the acreage up top while the young'uns picked up more broken limbs left from the ice storm.

(Our house sits behind & under those evergreens about half-way down the road)

Then we cleaned up & went to see Speed Racer at the matinee movie at an increased price of $2.75 - up from $2.50! GRRR! I'm tired of them raising the prices of the matinee!! It makes my Frugalicious Gene (TM) pucker!!!

Then we came home and ate Mother's Day leftovers of baked ham, creamy 'funeral' potatoes, green salad and German Chocolate cake.

It was a full, yet inexpensive day for me. CashHappySon's car had to be towed back to the place we had the motor replaced at. Possibly a cracked head or busted head-gasket or some doo-whicky. If it's either of those two things it should be covered under the warranty and all he'll have to pay is the towing fee. Fingers crossed!

Deposited two recent Pinecone checks. I'm adding them to the challenge:


$000.00 balance
+010.00 surveys
$010.00 May MTD

2008 Challenge Total $117.66
Cumulative Challenge Total $646.27

Twist & Shout

May 3rd, 2008 at 02:05 pm

Thursday afternoon I fell down the steps on the side of the house. Poooh! I did twist and I did shout. Uggh! Hubster went by my niece's house and borrowed a foot brace which allows me to hobble around enough to get to the bathroom!

I mentioned in my last blog post that the frig went kaput. Hubster is out shopping for us one right now. He just called on the phone. We are attempting to be wise shoppers and getting the bottom of the line! I think we'll get out with a new machine right at $500. Does stainless keep the food colder? I don't think so.

Putting it on the CC which will be paid off next month. This one will be Energy Star rated at $43 a year to operate.

Roths, Taxes and Cemetery Flowers!

April 1st, 2008 at 02:15 pm

I just added the last of my 2007 contributions to my Roth! Yeah ME!!! Phew. Two whole weeks to spare! hahaha I used my money from Ameritrade and the bonus from Suze Orman's promotion. That and the interest it earned made me able to slide the last little bit in there.

I'm already into my 2008 contributions as the Household Budget contributes $100 a month, and I've been contributing $101 on autodraft since the beginning of the year. Though I'll have to come up w/considerable difference to max it out in 2008. Most of this difference will be from selling junque & the $20 Challenge.

Went this afternoon and had the AARP folks do our taxes again for FREE. Yeah AARP! We have a very small refund from state and Fed both. Very closely figured - under $200 back on both. So, that's good. We didn't loan Uncle Sammie too much, and yet we don't owe him any either. E-filed, so shortly to have a bit back and we'll probably split the little bit into our Roths.

Today the house budget bought Hubster some floral arrangments for his parents' graves. He waited too long last year and couldn't find any the day he wanted to go out to the cemetery. Another thing off the to-do list.

Yesterday I took FrugalSon and the TheGrrl and we went to see 10,000 B.C. at the matinee. So yesterday I spent $2.50 from my Entertainment Fund. She came back to the house and we made goulash, salad, corn, hot rolls and apple pie for supper.

Before picking up TheGrrl FrugalSon and I went grocery shopping with a list and menu in hand. I bought for three weeks worth of meals and a months worth of snacks. I'm trying to stretch out my buying time to see if I can make it to finally doing 1 month grocery shopping trips. If I get lucky I'll be able to stretch what I've got here with what I purchased and make it w/o another grocery shop this month. Will have to go to the bread store though later in the month.

Housebudget spent on groceries $138.75. Housebudget spent on snacks $21.00 (this also included some meat as they carry Owens brand frozen there and two cases of corn at the scratch n'dent store.) The main grocery shop was at Save-A-Lot.

I watched and their register showed that something like $124 worth of my purchases would have qualified to be purchased with food stamps. I had never realized their registers showed such information before. So basically everything but tax?? I'm too pooped right now to figure it out or dig out the receipt to look.

I went long on flour, corn, beans and rice this trip. This is part of my keeping a years supply of groceries on hand most of the time. I bought two cases each of canned corn and northern beans. About three big bags of flour and 10 lbs. of rice. The prices of grains are predicted to be heading up, Up, UP.

I need a case of Milnot or equivalent brand, but will have to wait till next big shopping trip. I was shooting to only spend $140 at the grocery, so I came pretty darn close. I just bought a couple of cans of Milnot instead of a case. It's figuring that running tax that gets me every time. I got everything on my list except raw popcorn. Not microwave. Can't get just regular popcorn at Save-A-Lot here for some reason. I ask every time I go for the girls to put it on their buyer's list. Can ya'll get it at your Save-A-Lots???

Today I personally have had a no-spend day.

Tonight's menu - Steak Fajitas, Refried Beans, Spanish Rice, Fruit Cocktail, Iced Tea. A little pricier than I like to do at home usually, but it was at FrugalSon's request and he doesn't get to eat at home most nights as he's at work, so...for him (and his grocery hauling muscles) I'm doing it.

edited to update the mortgage balance over on the left:

New Balance $18,757.98
Actual remaining time frame 5 yrs. 4 mths.
If we continue making the extra $71.04 principal payment that we've been doing our house will be paid off in July 2012.

A Four Day Streak

January 16th, 2008 at 11:37 am

Well I DID have a four day streak going...

Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday were all No Spend Days for me. Yesterday I spent as listed in my last entry. But hey, four days in a row was good. Going to spend a bit now as I'm off to the grocery store for the old pre-snow stockup. It's cold out there right now and overcast, snow predicted to come rolling in this evening some time. I believe the weather man, this time!

Perfect PizzaPizzzzzzzzzazzzzz!

January 3rd, 2008 at 12:55 pm

Perfect!!! FrugalSon just gave me $6.25 left from his December Entertainment budget - "to help you with that pizza from the other night Mom", you know the one we invited his girlfriend over for? What a trooper!


Now normally the Frugalis family makes pizza at home which I can make a couple of nice pizzas for about $5 or less, so even w/the coupon the other night it pained ol' Mom's Frugalicious Gene (TM) to pay for pizza (no, I didn't say a word as it was my idea to do it this way), so this is a nice surprise.

Unexpected, so, I'm taking it to the challenge!

Plus, the dryer fairy left me a penny. Thank you muchly!!

$001.46 balance
+006.26 pizza rebate & dryer fairy
$007.72 Jan MTD

2008 Challenge Total $7.72
Cumulative Challenge Total $536.33

Ughhhhh!!! Grocery Dissatisfaction

April 2nd, 2007 at 03:29 pm

Ughhhhh!!! Grocery Dissatisfaction

I just spent $ 82.65 at the grocery store and still feel like there is nothing much here to eat. Several things in the store were noticably higher.

The canned chili I buy that we use on our hot dogs, normally 75-79 cents, now $1.15. Tortilla chips normally 99cents a bag, now $1.19.

Come on people, raise the price if you must, but why not oooch it up a little at a time rather than just gomming on a 20-36 cent hike all at once???

Corn at least ought to be getting cheaper with everyone planting it for ethanol purposes, surely it can't all be used for fuel production as there aren't that many plants yet! GAAA!!!

Baking in the oven is an easy doooo-waaa recipe:

Sausage & Potato Casserole

Uhhh....pardon my exactness! heeheee!!

Slice up a bunch of potatoes, add in some chopped onion, garlic, a can or two of cream of mushroom soup, a dash of milk, a half a stick of margarine cubed, stir. Add on top a chub of raw sausage chunked around (we like Owen's Italian but any ol'sage sausage'll do), sprinkle w/cheddar cheese, season salt & garlic salt and bake at 350 for an hour to an hour and 15-30 minutes.


I make a huge restaruant size pan of this and there is never any leftover, and there are just four of us here eating it. Granted 3 are hungry adult sized males, but geeee - they scarf it down. Makes it a winner in my book.

Oh yeah, FrugalSon & I went to the antique booth and I can tell you the results of March's sales were none too fabulous. Made my rent and then some but nothing to write home about. Frown

We then went out to a small lake nearby and did our exercise/walking/hiking doo and caught of few of those Solar Vitamin D rays ourselves.

Hit the bank on the way home to deposit the check and then to the grocery with the above results. Now I'm Capital P - PoooPed!!

...ohhhh, and who here heard Cramer's confession that may get him in deep?

Money's Tight and You Need to Eat??

March 9th, 2007 at 04:53 am

Money's Tight and You Need to Eat??

...then here's a little inspiration!!

Hungry Much?


Hungry Much?

This blogger reminds me much of our own dear LRJohnson!!

All I can say is WOW!!


February 23rd, 2007 at 01:54 pm


Good news is that I was able to turn off the heater today and open the windows and patio doors for some nice cross ventilation. It feels great when those fresh breezes come wafting through to help clear out the winter stuffiness!

When I left the house awhile a go I saw that I have two daffodils that are bloomed out by my driveway! HELLOOOOOO SPRINGTIME!!

Daffodils are always a Happy Sign!

Of financial note I spent $31.02 yesterday at the scratch n' dent and got some great buys - Catsup at 25 cents a bottle, crackers 50 cents a box, BBQ sauce 50 cents a bottle, syrup 35 cents a bottle, sausage 99 cents a roll, etc. Came home with five HEAVY sacks of groceries.

Warm Cockles and Budgeting Done Right

January 1st, 2007 at 09:41 am

Warm Cockles and Budgeting Done Right

Here's hoping there's a chicken (or TWO) in every one of your pots for 2007!!

After this post I'm off to make a big pot of chicken soup for the hungry hordes who are bound to come out of hibernating some time this year! In the crockpot is the traditional New Year's hoppinjohn (blackeyed peas & ham).

Ta-da, just now checking the mail from the last few days and here's the tag notice for Hubster's car. Happy I am that the money is sitting there all nice and pretty in savings waiting to pay the little sucker!!! Anticipatory budgeting does work if you do it right!! Yeah Frugalis Family!

Just updated the mortgage information over to the right! Oh how I wish that bugger was gone! Good to know that zillow.com states my equity is inching upwards quite nicely! Warms the cockles of my heart!!

Ummmm...I'm with disneysteve, moving and selling is quite the chore. That's why if The Hubster and I do decide to downsize it'll be one last hooray right about the time he retires. Getting his Dad's house ready to sell was a MAJOR chore and still we have no buyer in sight! I'd hate to be trying it when he's pushing 70's or beyond! Makes me tired just thinking about it!

My mother just recently built a home and she is still a year and a half later disconcerted when trying to find her stuff to bake and get ready for the holidays!!

NEW always sounds fun and exciting...but a wise person counts all the costs, eh? Seems more and more I turn things down because of the effort it would require.

How about you?

Loving from the Oven

November 10th, 2006 at 12:41 pm

Loving from the Oven

In the oven are some Jiffy banana nut muffins = 29 cents. Thawing is some Owens roll sausage = 99 cents. For supper tonight we'll dig into this along with a couple of cups of milk = 50 cents and some scrambled eggs = 36 cents.

Supper for two $2.14!!

I've been outside and am afraid for my house as it appears it will disappear in an avalanche of leaves. I keep sweeping the patio and keep sweeping but those dog-gone leaves and acorns just keep coming!! Piling up maybe a foot or more deep in the corners! Jeepers!

If you don't hear from me for a few days break out the leaf blowers and come in after me, okay???

Frugal lunch today was leftover spaghetti and earlier FrugalSon and I had a cup of hot cocoa w/marshmellows (20 cent bag on clearance) before he headed out to work.

November Expenditures

November 1st, 2006 at 03:56 pm

November Expenditures:

11/1 Grocery Expense 83.34
11/1 Paper Goods 34.23

Notations: $4.00 of the grocery was for part of a Christmas gift for my brother. I usually buy him food that doesn't need refrigeration. Got him a couple of those beef sticks.

And $2.00 of the Paper Goods was for candles for some Christmas candleholders to be sold in my antique booth.

Catching Up Update - Up Up I say!

October 31st, 2006 at 04:49 am

Catching Up Update - Up Up I say!

Sunday was a no spend day. FREE breakfast in Sunday School class. Somebody brought Braum's sausage biscuits which were really good. I had never eaten one before. There were other things such as FREE muffins, FREE coffeecake, and FREE coffee. Hallelujah!

Monday was also a no-cash spend day for me. The Hubster did however make the downpayment on the windows which we'll be paying cash for! No payments, yeah!!

Over the weekend FrugalSon had to make a big car repair expense to his lil' truck, a whopping $2.17 for new fuses so his horn could beep once again.

Yesterday morning The Hubster was looking for his snackcakes (his one big requirement for a happy worklife) and so we trotted down to the basement to the freezer only to find that everything in there was thawing out! Glad we made the visit.

When I returned from my morning errand CashHappySon and I worked on throwing out what needed tossing ($$'s down the drain) and getting the rest into the cooler. Then upstairs to shuffle the refrigerator's freezer to fit in as much as we could.

Ended up cooking some of the meat in the crockpot for the dogs. Nice treats! ...and cooked about three packages of sausage links for the boys.

Those wouldn't fit into the upstairs freezer. They had a nice breakfast and lunch on them and still have some leftover. SIGH! Bad freezer!! We checked and no the breaker hadn't switched off or anything. Boo!

Later The Hubster calls and has me plug it into another socket. Ta-da it works! It is an older freezer that I got from my Mom when she replaced hers.

I'm thinking at this moment in time I'm just going to leave it empty and unplugged unless someone wants to gift me with a side of beef or a hog or something! Saving on electricity.

I just don't think I utilize it as much anymore w/just the four of us at home right now along w/the inconvenient trek to the basement to stock it or retrieve something. If it were upstairs maybe! It's TOO TOO TOO Ugly for upstairs though.

Along with that is the car maintenance that The Hubster had done yesterday. I sent him in to get his scheduled oil change only to discover that it is time to do the 30,000 mile maintenance in order to keep his warranty in place.

This little bit of sunshine cost us $534.00 on the CC!! Jeepers! November is looking slimmer and slimmer as we also had his $626 crown thingy earlier this month that went on the CC!

The E.F. is definitely taking a hit, as there is no way I can cover all that out of current income and still be able to eat and have utilities, much less have gasoline for work commute!!

Okay Lord, I need a lot less money going down the drain and much more money coming up out of the drains! Up Up I say! And again I say UP!!

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