Category Archives: Frugal

Water, Water Everywhere and Not A Drop to Drink

“It’s easier to get free wi-fi than it is to get free water and people act like there’s nothing wrong with the world”. – Fidel Littlelight
Homeless - bottle of wather
Rick Wood gives food and water to a homeless man near his tent under an overpass near downtown Birmingham, Saturday, March 29, 2014. (abc3340.com)

Water has turned into a huge commodity. As a former retailer I can tell you that water is one of the most profit bearing items in a store.  I used to be able to get cases of water for less than $2 each (making the cost of each bottle roughly 9¢ a piece) and the suggested retail price was 99¢.  That’s a heck of a margin huh?  

In fact, have you seen a water fountain recently? Probably not.  Usually only in schools and hospitals anymore, with an occasional sighting at an office building (leftovers from days gone by).  They’re getting harder to find, aren’t they? Now imagine you’re homeless.  Where do you get a drink of water?

I understand that even if it’s within your means, many people are not comfortable handing cash to the person with the sign at the intersection and I don’t disagree.  Sadly there are scammers out there and there is no way to determine who is legit and who just figure it’s a great way to make a buck.

Shortly after I stopped living in a shelter I was back living with my parents.  My mom needed to go for a therapy appointment due to an injury, so I dropped her off and used her truck to go grocery shopping.  When I got back, there was a man in the parking lot begging for money from everyone he could find talking about how he, his wife and child were now living on the streets and hungry.  When he approached me, I let him know that I had no money but that I had just gotten done grocery shopping and walked him to the back of the truck asking if he had the means to cook and started pulling out groceries for him.  He thanked me and turned down my offering of food, then proceeded to go skittering off to the fast food drive thru next door to return to his quest for cash.

Please do not take what I’ve said as a reason to never help someone with a sign.  There are many, many needy people who need our help and cities and municipalities are really aiming to put the homeless population out of sight and out of mind.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to read my piece on the homelessness – Insights into the Dark  – I would ask you to check it out when you have a chance.

16-oz-water

 

I’d like to take this opportunity to challenge everyone who reads this to buy a case of bottled water. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just whatever you can find at the best price, and keep it in a cooler with a little ice. As you’re driving around town doing errands and you see someone with a sign, sleeping on a piece of cardboard or a park bench or under an overpass – offer them a bottle of water.  It’s a small kindness that goes an incredibly long way.

I think a case of water at Wal-Mart is around $3.50 and at CVS you can catch it on sale for $2.  While you may not be willing to hand someone cash, offering them a bottle of water that cost you 9¢-15¢, that would cost them a dollar or more at the nearest shop is a huge help.  Can you think of any other way to help that many people for under four dollars? 

It’s a frugal way to help and it’s a great way to help your fellow-man.  Thanks for listening.  

{{{hugs}}}

Maggie

Spending Time With You

I saw a piece that came through on Buzz Feed entitled 31 Delightful Things To Do By Yourself.  I really enjoyed seeing that piece come around and I really hope that it inspires  younger people to do things solo.  Not just because it’s frugal, but because it’s necessary.  When I was younger I didn’t know how to spend time with myself nor did I want to.  While I love spending time with friends and family, I am finally at a point in my life where I enjoy my own company.  It took me way too long to get here.

After all the years that I spent being an active mother and wife, I realized that I spent my time as the hub in all the activities. I was included with each person individually and as a family, but I never went off on my own adventures even though my husband kept unsuccessfully trying to encourage me to do so.  (Thanks for trying ARV, you were right.)

My daughter moved out and that was a bit of an adjustment.  I think kids are more prepared to leave the house then the parents are to let it happen.  With her gone, it just left me and my husband together (constantly) and that was not good at all. After a few years of that we separated and it left me alone and scared to death.

Here I am two years later, and while I still enjoy my time with others, I’ve really come to value and enjoy my time by myself.  I write, I paint, I craft, I read, and I meditate. I spend time with you and the rest of my online friends.  I enjoy going out to dinner occasionally (when I can afford it LOL) with my kindle.

I like going shopping and just wandering around the stores looking at things, or going for a drive and checking out the landscape. I love listening to music, I read and occasionally I turn on the TV.  And the best part?  I never have to negotiate what I’ll be watching or feeling trapped and wishing I could be doing something else instead.

Spring Dreams2
This is my latest painting, I made it for my niece and her husband. That is their initials and their wedding date on the tree trunk.

As we go through life we find out that we don’t stay the “hub”, as our children become the “hub” of their own families and lives.  We may be married, single (or widowed).  We need to enjoy ourselves and value ourselves as others do.  So take the time to make friends with yourself; take yourself out on dates, spend quality time with yourself and make sure you’re giving yourself the same time out of “family time” that other family members get, you really need it.

What things to you enjoy doing on your own?

{{{hugs}}}

Maggie

Quick Kitty Bedroom

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Here lately I haven’t been able to put a bag down without Sophie trying to climb in it.  She’s really been in need of a quiet little space of her own, but I haven’t had the extra finances to purchase one of those cute ones at the store.

Then just the other day I watched a life hack video about making a cat “tent” with wire coat hangers and an old t-shirt but it looked too flimsy for Sophie to use.  She tends to be a very antsy, nervous cat, more so the older she has gotten.  She’s now 11.

So today I took an old t-shirt that was ready to go to that “great laundry basket in the sky” (a.k.a. rag pile) and put it over the box, gathered the back up and fastened it with a safety-pin.

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Then I inverted the sleeves to get them out-of-the-way.  I was going to also safety-pin them but they tucked in nicely and it wasn’t necessary.

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I put one of my beach towels in the bottom so she has something to curl up with and I can swap it out with another one so I can wash them periodically.  The neck of the t-shirt gives her ample room to climb in and out, but allows the box to retain the warmth that she needs as an older cat, especially in the wintertime.

2 minutes, a re-purposed t-shirt, a cardboard box and a happy cat!  Your turn!  Share your quick crafts!

{{hugs}}}

Maggie

Cute File Box project

Hi all!

Sorry for the hiatus but I’m slowly getting back to things and wanted to share my latest project with you.  It used to be a box that Bestie received slippers in for the holidays.  I covered it with the material from a leg of a pair of jeans and then lined it with an old bandana!

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A little hot glue and it was done in minutes and looks SO much better on my craft table then a box that talks about slippers!  If I find some white eyelet trim on the cheap I might trim around it to embellish it a little more.

Sure I could have bought a file folder or a magazine holder, but this was completely frugal – it didn’t cost anything but my time.  And that’s less to throw away so it’s green as well as cute!  And it would make a cute gift!

Update:  I found the last piece of the puzzle today…what do you think?

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What great crafts have you made lately?  Share them below!

{{{hugs}}}

Maggie

Make Ahead French Toast Casserole

 

I absolutely love French toast, but it’s not practical when cooking for one or for a crowd. Here’s the tasty solution you’ve been looking for!

 

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The “technical” term for this dish is a strata, so if you decide to surf for more recipes that’s the term you want to look for.  There are as many variations as your imagination can come up with.

There are a few things I really love about this dish.  One is that it’s easy to put together.  The other is that it can be made ahead.  Perfect for gatherings with sleep over guests or holiday breakfasts because you can make it the day before and stick it in the fridge, then just put it in the oven when you wake up.  

This is also great for “breakfast for dinner” item since you can just make it ahead and pop it in the oven when you get home from work.  By the time you’re settled in and caught up, dinner is ready!

The other bonus is cooking for one.  Remember that you don’t have to live alone to want to cook in single portions.  This makes for a great traveling breakfast to eat at the office, for the kids to fix themselves when you want to sleep in, etc.

For the strata that you’re seeing here, I used:

  • 1 lb breakfast sausage, cooked & crumbled (mild, spicy, maple – your choice)
  • 1 medium apple, diced
  • 1 handful of dried cranberries
  • 6 seedless, crusty rolls, cubed (these were the size of kaiser rolls)
  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 1-1/2 c milk
  • 1-1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
  • Cinnamon sugar to sprinkle on top

 

 

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What you’re seeing is a one pound roll of breakfast sausage that I cooked up, then tossed in diced apples and craisins.  Blueberries are a wonderful addition as well.  Again, the sky’s the limit!

 

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I got a beautiful bag of crusty rolls that were marked down (frugal!)  French toast is always better with sturdier breads or stale bread. When I made this for Thanksgiving breakfast I found a couple of beautiful sourdough loaves that were just wonderful.  

I love this dish for holidays.  You do so much cooking on the holiday that it’s not a good day to skip breakfast but you don’t want to cook anymore than you have to.  I made this the night before, covered it with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge.  When we got up that morning, I put it in the oven and started my prep.  By the time breakfast was ready, it was time for a break anyway!

 

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If you’ve never had fresh ground nutmeg, you’re truly missing a treat.  What you’re seeing is a whole nutmeg.  They last pretty much forever and only don’t lose potency when they’re kept whole.  What you buy pre-ground at the store, isn’t nearly as flavorful or aromatic as fresh.  If you’re interested in getting one, Amazon has got a great selection to choose from.

 

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After I cubed the bread, I tossed it in with the sausage/fruit mixture.  In the blender I put the eggs, milk and everything else.  You’ll want to have soapy water in the sink to wash your hands when you’re done, truly the best way to mix this is with two hands so you can toss it well without mashing the bread.

You’ll want to mix/toss this a couple of times while letting it rest a few minutes in between so that the egg mixture can be completely absorbed by the bread.

 

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I used a 13×9″ glass baking pan and sprayed it with non-stick cooking spray before putting the mixture into the pan.  Then I gave it a quick spritz over the top and gave it a light sprinkle of cinnamon sugar before baking it at 350°F for an hour.

 

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Once it was completely cooled, I cut it into 12 pieces and put them in the freezer on a cookie sheet so that they weren’t touching.  Once they were firm and I knew they wouldn’t stick together, I put them all in a Ziploc bag and back in the freezer.   When I want a piece for breakfast, I take one out and put it in the microwave for a few minutes.

Everyone’s microwave is different, so play around with the times to see what works best in yours.  When you figure it out, write it on the bag.  If you find you’re getting hard spots when you reheat it, you can prevent that by putting a cup of water in the microwave along with the slice of casserole that you’re reheating.

As I said, your only limit is your imagination.  The only “rule” for a strata is the egg/milk mixture, the bread and how it’s baked.  You can make it sweet or savory.  Consider things like ham, swiss and spinach or bacon, turkey, broccoli and cheddar cheese.

Remember that you can make this as frugal as you want also!  This is a great use for leftover veggies or fruits, leftover meats, etc. along with bread store and mark down rack finds!

And don’t forget, it takes virtually the same time to make two as it does one.  So make two and have one for dinner and portion the other one for easy meals on the go!

I’d love to hear what you think of this recipe when you try it and let me know what variations you come up with so please post a comment!
{{{hugs}}}

Maggie

All Natural Wasp Remover

As most of you who follow me know, I have COPD which is why I’m so passionate about non-chemical ways to do things. Fumes are not my friend.  My sister was a severe asthmatic from birth so we’ve always been mindful about toxins and fumes.

Then today in my email I found a link for a DIY Wasp Remover and I followed it to a YouTube video and I’ve got to say… GENIOUS!

As soon as I go grocery shopping again I will get a big brown paper bag (another great reason to go to Aldi) so I can put this on the front porch where we’ve been getting wasps!

It’s frugal, it’s non-toxic, you don’t have to worry about kids and pets being around chemicals; and you don’t have to worry about getting stung while trying to spray a can of poison!  And no worries about asthma attacks or COPD exacerbation either!

 

{{{hugs}}}

Maggie

Water, Water Everywhere and Not A Drop to Drink

“It’s easier to get free wi-fi than it is to get free water and people act like there’s nothing wrong with the world”. – Fidel Littlelight
Homeless - bottle of wather
Rick Wood gives food and water to a homeless man near his tent under an overpass near downtown Birmingham, Saturday, March 29, 2014. (abc3340.com)

Water has turned into a huge commodity. As a former retailer I can tell you that water is one of the most profit bearing items in a store.  I used to be able to get cases of water for less than $2 each (making the cost of each bottle roughly 9¢ a piece) and the suggested retail price was 99¢.  That’s a heck of a margin huh?  

In fact, have you seen a water fountain recently? Probably not.  Usually only in schools and hospitals anymore, with an occasional sighting at an office building (leftovers from days gone by).  They’re getting harder to find, aren’t they? Now imagine you’re homeless.  Where do you get a drink of water?

I understand that even if it’s within your means, many people are not comfortable handing cash to the person with the sign at the intersection and I don’t disagree.  Sadly there are scammers out there and there is no way to determine who is legit and who just figure it’s a great way to make a buck.

Shortly after I stopped living in a shelter I was back living with my parents.  My mom needed to go for a therapy appointment due to an injury, so I dropped her off and used her truck to go grocery shopping.  When I got back, there was a man in the parking lot begging for money from everyone he could find talking about how he, his wife and child were now living on the streets and hungry.  When he approached me, I let him know that I had no money but that I had just gotten done grocery shopping and walked him to the back of the truck asking if he had the means to cook and started pulling out groceries for him.  He thanked me and turned down my offering of food, then proceeded to go skittering off to the fast food drive thru next door to return to his quest for cash.

Please do not take what I’ve said as a reason to never help someone with a sign.  There are many, many needy people who need our help and cities and municipalities are really aiming to put the homeless population out of sight and out of mind.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to read my piece on the homelessness – Insights into the Dark  – I would ask you to check it out when you have a chance.

16-oz-water

 

I’d like to take this opportunity to challenge everyone who reads this to buy a case of bottled water. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just whatever you can find at the best price, and keep it in a cooler with a little ice. As you’re driving around town doing errands and you see someone with a sign, sleeping on a piece of cardboard or a park bench or under an overpass – offer them a bottle of water.  It’s a small kindness that goes an incredibly long way.

I think a case of water at Wal-Mart is around $3.50 and at CVS you can catch it on sale for $2.  While you may not be willing to hand someone cash, offering them a bottle of water that cost you 9¢-15¢, that would cost them a dollar or more at the nearest shop is a huge help.  Can you think of any other way to help that many people for under four dollars? 

It’s a frugal way to help and it’s a great way to help your fellow-man.  Thanks for listening.  

{{{hugs}}}

Maggie

10 Awesome Uses for Dental Floss

Dental floss is so handy to have around the house, you’ll want some in your kitchen and first aid kit too!

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#10 – Slicing soft cheese or dough

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#9 – Slicing a cake – much better than a knife that gets covered in icing and crumbs

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#8 – “Lock” your luggage before heading to the airport.  No keys to misplace, easy to remove and you’ll know if anyone’s messed with it.

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Image from my women stuff.com

#7 – String beads or re-string a broken necklace

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#6  – Make a dream catcher!

floss_dream_catcher

 

#5 – Sew a button and make it last!

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#4 – Quiet a dripping faucet

Tie a piece around the faucet at the spout and leave one end long enough to reach the drain.  The drip will travel down the floss.

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#3 – Replace a shoelace

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#2 – Support climbing plants – Tie those tomatoes to your trellis

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And the #1 best reason to keep dental floss on hand for emergencies is…

 

{{{hugs}}}
Maggie

Expensive Coffee Can Be Frugal

So Bestie and I were having a conversation about coffee this morning.  Her and Handy Husband are avid coffee drinkers, either making a pot or individual K-cups.  I used to be a heavy coffee drinker but I got away from it, I just have some when the mood strikes.

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Handy Husband bought this beautiful coffee maker, that allows us to brew by the pot, by the cup with grounds or using K-cups.  It’s really perfect for all of our needs.  They can make a pot in the morning, or fix a single cup if they’re running late or when I’m in the mood.

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Now as discussed, I’m an avid frugalite but sometimes I get caught up in the initial savings and have to do the math to see the bigger picture.  The conversation we were having was ground coffee versus K-cups.  I admit, I have a hard time paying the price for K-cups because they go against my frugal nature in general.

The lowest I’ve seen a box of K-cups is $5.99 at Dollar General and they go up from there.  Bestie works at Tim Hortons (LOVE their coffee) and they sell their coffee for home-brew in K-Cups; a box is $8.99 (14 cups in the store/12 cups online), which is a really good deal as far as K-cups go.

For home use we buy store brand generally, dark roast which is 28.8oz or French roast which is 31.5oz per can, both we pick up for $6.99.  I measured out what we use for a single serving.  That works out to 96 or 105 servings respectively and calculates to +/-07¢ per serving.

Doing the math on the K-Cups, I’m finding the cost per cup averages anywhere from .49¢ -.89¢ per serving.  Now sure, that’s a whole lot more than the can of store brand coffee, but when you compare it to stopping through your favorite drive through coffee shop?  Wow that is a frugal option!  If you’re a person like me who only drinks a cup or two of coffee a week, don’t you deserve a treat? I know I do.

If you’re the person who hits the drive thru 5 days a week on your way to work, just using Tim Hortons as an example (only because I have their prices handy) you’d be saving .95¢ per day or $247 per year!  Even taking in the cost of a K-cup maker, you’re still coming out ahead.

When I used to drink coffee around the clock or “in volume” as I used to call it, I bought economical coffee, cheap non-dairy creamers, etc.  Now that I drink it on occasion, I splurge on flavored ground coffees and creamers.  It’s still cheaper than hitting a drive through, so I’m getting what I want when the mood strikes and not feeling guilty either!

My guilty pleasure is blueberry coffee with cinnamon vanilla coffee mate liquid creamer.  What’s yours?

{{{hugs}}}
Maggie

Net Neutrality – Explained!

I’ve always taken issue with the fact that neighborhood by neighborhood you only have access to one cable provider.

Dish and DirecTV gave a little competition, but when it comes to apartment living you still have to ask for permission and the cable company may still have the lock on your area. When this happens you have absolutely no bargaining power as a consumer to negotiate prices nor will companies compete for your business. Either you pay for it or you go without.

Recently the subject of net neutrality has come into play with a lot of people scratching their heads and saying “huh?” It’s very boring and hard to understand and the media covers it but doesn’t explain what it is.

I just found this video and want to share. It is hysterically funny and most importantly, he explains what it is and why we need to work against this – for our own best interest as consumers.

As most of you know, I live in a rural area so I have access to one cable provider or satellite as well.  And that one cable company is a small company not a huge conglomerate like Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, etc.  They struggle to compete with the bigger companies but do not have the bargaining power that someone like Comcast does.  Who goes without?  The customers.

If you’re one of the folks that hate how Wal-Mart has settled into areas and choked out small businesses, please take note, this is the same business practice.   As you recently saw in the news Comcast purchased Time Warner and as explained in the video, they both were in very different areas of the country.  So by purchasing Time Warner, Comcast effectively took over new areas as a sole provider without ever having to compete for business.  The areas that were of no interest to them, they sold off to other smaller providers…. providers who still won’t be able to provide the same level of service if these proposed practices are allowed to take place.

You will have to move to urban areas to get better service from Netflix.. not because of anything that Netflix is doing, but because of the internet speed preferences allowed by internet providers and if a larger company is providing a smaller company’s service (the smaller company is just reselling – not unlike local utility companies), you’re going to see prices shoot upward and nothing you can do about it.

For the many frugalites who have opted to discontinue cable in favor of Netflix, Hulu, Crackle, Project Free TV, etc, this directly impacts you.  Afterall, we’ve even had the option of putting an antenna on top of our TV taken away from us now that everything is digital.

I urge you to enjoy the video then please click HERE and tell them what you think!

The FCC is taking comments on its proposal at OpenInternet@FCC.gov. The initial deadline for comments is July 15 and the deadline for reply comments is September 15, but the agency is expected to keep the inbox open until it votes to finalize the proposal.

{{{hugs}}}

Maggie


 

Cable companies have monopolies on service, neighborhood by neighborhood giving consumers little or no choice.  This is not what should be happening in a competitive free market.  Now you want to have companies like Netflix pay for speed of service, thereby choking out smaller companies or ad only companies such as Crackle and Project Free TV.  This needs to be stopped.  Consumers already pay for broadband speed, subjecting online providers to pay for upload speeds as well has cable companies making money from both ends of the transaction while the consumers lose.

~ This is my submission to the FCC

Update – John Oliver’s show (the video above) created a wave of over 45,000! responses to the FCC website!  Keep it going!