Wednesday, January 30, 2008

PaperBack Swap Update!

Ok I think I'm going to love PaperBack Swap! It's even better than I first imagined! Let me tell you why:

1) If you refer someone and they post 10 books you get a free book credit! (Thank You Stephanie)

2) You have a wish list so that if there is a book you want and someone posts it, you get an email offering you that book! You don't have to keep going back and looking. There is even a feature whereby you can set it to auto-request so that if the book comes up and you have a credit, it will be sent right to you.

3) I just requested a book I was going to get my husband for his birthday.

4) This is the best one!! There is this book that has been eluding me for like the past 25 years. It's called M for Mischief. It's a children's book. One of my teachers read it to me when I was younger. I loved it. My mom could never find it. It's never been at the library. A few months ago I found one on Amazon from a second hand seller-It was $35!! TONIGHT I REQUESTED IT FOR FREE!!! I cannot be more excited!

Paperback Swap

I like books. Even though I have given a bunch away and sold a number on eBay, I still have more books. I'm also a frequent user of the library which cuts down on the book clutter around here. However, sometimes I do like to keep a book. Or buy a book.

In a cool move that combines frugality and recycling, (I'm so tickled that these things often go hand in hand) comes PaperBack Swap.

Basically you list books you would be willing to swap. When someone wants one, you send it to them. Whenever you send a book you get a credit which entitles you to a book of your choice that someone will send you. No money changes hands. You are responsible for paying for the postage on the books you send.

Media rates are cheap. $2.13 for anything under 1 lb and $2.47 for 1-2 lbs. It goes up from there but it is reasonable. For someone like me who already goes to the Post Office this is a no brainer. For someone who buys used books and pays for the book and the media mail postage, this is a no brainer.

The last time I looked there were 1,870,081 to choose from! And as a bonus, you get 3 credits as soon as you sign up and list 10 books.

And I even saw a book on there that I was thinking of getting my husband for his birthday. Am I cheap or what!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Don't Replace People With Machines

Today I went to the post office. I took my many packages to the counter and just before the woman working waited on me, she asked the gentleman behind me in line if he had anything short before all of my packages. I didn't mind because I know I'm a pain to stand behind at the post office.

He needed a stamp and that was it. She explained that there was no stamp machine or automatic postage machine at this small branch and she didn't want him to have to wait too long.

This prompted me to say how I really love those machines. They are quick and easy. She responded with how the postal workers DON'T love those machines and that each time they get one at the other bigger branch where she works someone looses a job or hours. Also, because they have a "need" for less people, when you DO want to speak with a human rather than a machine, that the line is often longer because they are short staffed. (I know her pretty well so I imagine that is why she was so candid.)

I'm not writing this as a criticism of the US postal service or an expose on how the PO works in my area, it just got me thinking. We so often bemoan the fact that because of how our towns and suburbs are set up that we have lost a certain sense of community. We don't KNOW each other anymore. We don't have a butcher. We don't have a milkman and often we don't even know our neighbors. We replace people little by little in the name of convenience. What happened to communication and friendship? Is convienience our higest goal?

At Wegman's, my daughter has a friend named Ida. She's an older woman who works as a cashier. We look for her every week and have nice conversation when we see her. I swear the interaction benefits both Ida and my daughter. I would never for a minute consider a self checkout even if they had one. The human interaction is too important.

We worry about India taking our technical jobs and China taking our manufacturing jobs and yet we so willingly bow to technology here at home without thinking for a minute of the person whose job we replace each time we do so.

I'm guilty of this too. I usually print my postage here at home in my office. My printer is acting up (I know, another machine on the blink over here!) so I've been at the Post Office more than I usually am. (Now I actually do know my letter carrier by name so maybe I get some points for that) Also, not driving (the short distance to the PO) saves me money on gas and time. I don't know how to balance it all out really. I don't really know the answer.

Maybe I could split the difference and bring the boxes to the post office on days when I will be out and about and driving right by. I know one thing for sure, I probably won't use the stamp machine unless it's after hours.

And now I promise no more technology rants for the rest of the week!

Cheaper Than Prozac!

Reader participation! I love it! I just got a great email from Jacquie who can make me laugh until my face hurts (#2), sends me mail (#6), has great conversations with me (#14) and sends me cookies and cheerwine! (#37). I hope she knows how much I miss her! (#43)

Just thought this would be a good list to put on your blog! It is 45 different ways to enjoy something and make yourself feel good..... and it's all cheap! If you did/experienced 1 everyday, it would probably make you feel better. And just think... it's cheaper than Prozac!! :-)

1. Falling in love.
2. Laughing so hard your face hurts.
3. A hot shower.
4. No lines at the supermarket.
5. A special glance.
6. Getting mail.
7. Taking a drive on a pretty road.
8. Hearing your favorite song on the radio.
9. Lying in bed listening to the rain outside.
10. Hot towels fresh out of the dryer.
11. Chocolate milkshake (vanilla or strawberry).
12. A bubble bath.
13. Giggling.
14. A good conversation.
1 5 The beach
16. Finding a 20 dollar bill in your coat from last winter.
17. Laughing at yourself.
18. Looking into their eyes and knowing they Love you
19. Midnight phone calls that last for hours.
20. Running through sprinklers.
21. Laughing for absolutely no reason at all.
22. Having someone tell you that you're beautiful.
23. Laughing at an inside joke with FRIENDS
25. Accidentally overhearing someone say something nice about you.
26. Waking up and realizing you still have a few hours left to sleep.
27. Your first kiss (either the very first or with a new partner).
28. Making new friends or spending time with old ones.
29. Playing with a new puppy.
3 0. Having someone play with your hair.
31. Sweet dreams.
32. Hot chocolate.
33. Road trips with friends.
34. Swinging on swings.
35 Making eye contact with a cute stranger.
36. Making chocolate chip cookies.
37. Having your friends send you homemade cookies.
38 Holding hands with someone you care about.
39 Running into an old friend and realizing that some things (good or bad) never change.
40. Watching the _expression on someone's face as they open a much desired present from you.
41. Watching the sunrise.
42. Getting out of bed every morning and being grateful for another beautiful day.
43. Knowing that somebody misses you.
44. Getting a hug from someone you care about deeply.
45. Knowing you've done the right thing, no matter what other people think.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Teach Your Children Well

My 3 year old daughter has been hoarding Elmo party hats since her birthday last month. She sets them up and carries them around and sometimes her doll and her stuffed animals wear them.

The other night she had a bunch and she asked my husband if he wanted one because she was an Elmo Hat Seller.

He said "OK come over here and sell me a hat"

She responded with:

" I don't sell them here, I only sell them on eBay!"

Ah, she is listening to me!

Romance is Free!

Apparently my friend Stephanie is a cheap date (get your mind out of the gutter people-She's frugal!)

Take a look at this great idea she had and how long she's stretching out a $10 box of chocolate.

Basically, she's just taking an inexpensive treat and taking time to share it with her husband with no distractions. She's enjoying the treat and she's enjoying her husband. (Take note people-Stephanie and her husband are two of the most in love people I know after 10 years of marriage-She knows what she's talking about!)

It doesn't have to be chocolate. It could be tea or oranges or muffins. Or even nothing at all, although I do like the idea of having a little treat.

The romance is free!

Better Off

I pretty much felt like a weenie the other night after I wrote that VCR post and then retired to bed to read my newest (library) book, "Better Off, Flipping the Switch On Technology" (A title which prompted my husband to ask, "Who are you, the unabomber?!?!?")

From the book jacket:

What happens when a graduate of MIT, the bastion of technological advancement, and his bride move to a community so primitive in its technology that even Amish groups consider it antiquated? Eric Brende conceives a real-life experiment: to see if, in fact, all our cell phones, wide-screen TVs, and SUVs have made life easier and better -- or whether life would be preferable without them. By turns, the query narrows down to a single question: What is the least we need to achieve the most? With this in mind, the Brendes ditch their car, electric stove, refrigerator, running water, and everything else motorized or "hooked to the grid" and begin an eighteen-month trial run.

I'm loving this book, though don't get me wrong, I don't want to be Amish! And I don't really want to live without running water or electricity either. This is a wonderful and thoughtful book regarding living with less (way less) and loving it. Through the book the Brendes learn a lot about themselves and the world (the natural world) and come to a lot of great conclusions on how less IS more. I'm not done yet but I'm assuming some of these changes stuck as the back cover tells you that he's now a rickshaw driver and soap maker rather than a high Tech MIT graduate. Apparently he has found what his "least" is and is living it.

Apparently my "least" includes a VCR.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The VCR Broke!

Oh Man!!

I don't exactly know why I'm posting this because I haven't come up with a beautiful and frugal solution to this yet!

Our VCR broke.

It's been on it's last legs for some time now. Sometimes the sound was messed up we would have to bang on it to make it work. (No, we are not THAT poor) But I was not about to buy a new one when that one still worke. I've had this one for over 10 years. It bit the dust tonight.

What now? I'm not buying anything new.

We need a VCR. My husband is a teacher and often tapes stuff for school. Plus I have a ton of library $1 DVDs that my daughter likes to watch. And I'm NOT paying $12 a month for the privilege of taping via a DVR. I think last year I taped LOST twice.

SO...... What now? My husband said he would buy the VCR. Hmmmmmm.... That seems like cheating. And by getting a new VCR then I'm creating 2 electronic devices that will go into a landfill someday. And I looked at the Target website. The cheapest one was $60. Not too terribly expensive but still not something I want to shell out this week..... They did have some DVD/VCR combos and our DVD player isn't that great but I don't think I can stand throwing out 2 electronics this week. (although it would kind of streamline things.)

I emailed a few people on Craigslist this evening so we'll see what that turns up. Stay tuned! Will we cave and get a new VCR or will I pull some frugal magic out of my hat!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Library Book Sale

I love going to the library. For me browsing at the library is as good as browsing at Target! And everything you bring home is free!!!

Last week the library had a book sale. Used books, library discards and donations from the community. I have no problem with used books as every book you take out of the library is used anyway. (Take note people who buy me books-I prefer you DO buy used! REALLY, I don't mind!) Why pay new book prices if you don't have to. I also like, Amazon, and eBay for used books. Not that I buy all that many books because I don't. I prefer to let the library store them for me.

However, last week I spent $12.50 at the library book sale. This included:

-8 Little Bear VHS tapes. This for me is the deal of the century. Little Bear is my girlie's favorite show and it is completely kid friendly and nice! I kept 4 and gave my mom 4 for her house.
-1 Madeline Video
-1 Dragon Tales Video for my mom's house.
-5 children's paperback stories
-The Little Princess and The Secret Garden
-2 Books from the Little House On the Prairie Series
and 2 I have been wanting:
-Crockett's Victory Garden and Square Foot Gardening

The square foot gardening book alone would have cost more than $12.50.

Next time you need a book, consider used!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Cheap and Easy!

My husband usually cooks dinner. (I can) I just usually don't. A few nights ago though, I made dinner. Pot roast! It was a perfect dinner for a cold winter evening.

Pot roast is made from Chuck Roast, which is a more economical piece of red meat (if any red mean can be called economical!) It is very tasty when cooked for a long time and tends to fall apart when done right!

It was yummy! I used a recipe from The Pioneer Woman. (I won't re-write it here. You should really visit her site, It's awesome!) It was great! It was cheap as red meat goes and it hardly took any time at all (prep time anyway, it does cook for a while in the oven!)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Bubble Wrap!

My nerves are a little frazzled this afternoon. In a flash of inspiration (or desperation more likely) I let my daughter jump on a four foot square piece of large bubble wrap for what seemed like 4 hours. It was actually more like 20 minutes.

She had a blast and I felt like someone was shooting at me. (These were the large bubbles so they made a really large POP!) Most of the time she was jumping she was singing a song called "Here comes peter HOPPIN tail."

I put the bubble wrap away when she took a nap.

However, it did not escape my notice, that old saying that "sometimes the wrapping is all that children need to play with to be happy," is, in fact, true!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Even Cheaper Than I Am!!!

My husband got me a present this week. Knowing my current ban on buying and also hearing this guy on the radio he knew I had to have this book! He ordered it from a secondhand seller on Amazon but it came new today.

Jeff Yeager is even cheaper than I am. And a lot more funny. From the first page he had me laughing over a reduced-for-quick-sale pot roast (something I can totally relate to!) and his wit is present throughout (well at least to page 45 anyway, I just got the book around 4 pm this afternoon!)

But he's not all fun and games. His book, The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches (subtitled: A practical (and fun) guide to enjoying life more by spending less) is a book after my own heart. He's not about earning more, but spending less and increasing the quality of your life (a theme which you MAY have noticed is ever-present right here on this blog!)

I can't wait to read more. I took the book to read while waiting during my daughter's dance class this afternoon but this motormouth was yammering away next to me and completely wrecking my enjoyment of this funny frugal book (you have to know me to truly understand how serious this is to me) and since I'm a fast reader I wanted to savor every frugal nugget so I put it back in my bag!

Jeff Yeager says he sometimes Googles himself to see what people are saying about his crazy ideas. I hope he Googles this. I LOVE YOU JEFF YEAGER.

Of course I guess I could just go to his website and email him.

If you're nice to me I just may let you borrow this frugal guide to the good life.

Considering Your Stuff

"We are so overwhelmed with things these days that our lives are all more or less cluttered. I believe it is this, rather than a shortness of time, that gives us that feeling of hurry and almost of helplessness. Everyone is hurrying and just a little late. Notice the faces of people who rush past on the street. They nearly all have a stained, harassed look and anyone you meet will tell you there is no time for anything anymore."

I feel like this sometimes. Can you guess who wrote this??

Pioneer girl, Laura Ingalls. Granted she wrote this in the latter part of her life after she had, electricity, running water and a phone so she wasn't referring to pioneer America which she is best known for. But it speaks volumes to me that someone circa 1919 would be complaining about stuff and being hurried and harassed.

Can you imagine what she would think today????

Perhaps we always think that prior generations had a "more simple" life and perhaps they have. (certainly they had less stuff) Sometimes I think that stuff does add a level of complication to our lives.

Consider the phone. When people first got phones no one had to consider much about it except the fact that it worked. They all looked the same. Everyone had the same phone. No one cared.

Now we all have different phones and they all look different and they match our decor and they do different things and we need to "research" one before we buy it (I'm guilty of this) and they do more than your neighbors phone and soon they'll probably tell you when to eat and go to the bathroom. And now we use up precious time in our lives, time we will NEVER get back considering every possible thing there is to consider about our d@mn phone. And our ring tone for goodness sake! One day I think my husband spent an hour on his ring tone! (It's his time so it's his business of course) but it's insane.

And extrapolate that into all of our stuff and all of our choices and we spend so much of our lives just considering stuff.

It may be time to reconsider.....

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Low Carb Bread and Such!

For all of you who requested a low carb pastry recipe, head on over to my friend Stephanie's blog where she shows you some bread, rolls, pizza and pastry crust! I'm drooling already!!!!

Be sure to thank her if you make something! She's spent the past year becoming a very accomplished low carb baker!!!

If I can't find my husband, I'm gonna start looking at her house!

My Daughter Really Likes The Soup I Made

My daughter really likes the Mushroom Barley soup I made.

Kristin made it about a year ago and the first time my daughter had it she ate two bowls full. This was her tonight. I think it may be her favorite food.

It's easy, pretty cheap, and good!

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 pound mushrooms, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 large carrots, chopped
2 large celery stalks,
chopped1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup pearl barley, rinsed
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
8 cups broth (Vegetable or Chicken. I like homemade!)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried dillweed (You can leave this out if you don't have it but it's really better if you do. Dried is fine in this!

Melt butter in a pot oven over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, carrots, celery, onion and barley. Sauté until vegetables begin to brown, about 20 minutes. Add flour to pot and stir 5 minutes. Gradually mix in broth. Bring soup to boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until barley is tender and soup is beginning to thicken, about 40 minutes. Mix in parsley and dill. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

And yes, that is a princess dress. It's a Disney dress (not sure which princess) I got for $1 at a garage sale!
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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Entertaining Doesn't Have to be Expensive!

Today my Aunt came over for lunch! Since she always takes me out for lunch and never lets me pay I thought I would cook for her for a change-That way she couldn't pay!

Later I was thinking about our meal and knew I needed to share it with you because everything we ate I have talked about in some way on this blog!

We had a lovely lunch of:
Iced Tea
Applesauce muffins using Applesauce I made from these apples.
Barley and Mushroom soup that I made from these mushrooms
And a Quiche that I made using this crust!

Except for the cheese, everything I used for the lunch was something I had on hand. All it cost me extra this week to have her over was $3.29 for some cheese! And it was a lovely lunch!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Salvation Army Finds!

As you may know, I love garage sales.

So what is a girl to do in winter when there is no hope of a garage sale until spring???

The Salvation Army and the Vietnam Veterans thrift stores! I'll admit they aren't as much fun as a good old fashioned garage sale in the middle of summer but beggars can't be choosers!

So the other day I had a little time to kill and look what I found! A beautiful pewter pitcher which will be awesome with my early American themed dining room! The cost-$1.99! Can't beat that!

Some days there is nothing interesting. I have a feeling the people who frequent these places regularly get all the neat stuff-This is only a very occasional outing for me. But once in a while I get lucky.
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Ok, don't worry, I'm not going to post each time I don't buy something.

Yesterday, Jan 7th my willpower was tested! Last fall when I bought a lot of apples I called everyone I know to try and borrow one of these! No one had one. Wegman's had one but it was $25 and I didn't even spend that much on the apples.

Yesterday, while at Wegman's, they were 1/2 price! $12.50!!! I wanted it. BAD. I picked up it, turned it over (made in Taiwan) and left it on the shelf. I mean it's only the 7th.... Of January......

And as I recall, since I had one of those apple slicer things, that it really wasn't all that difficult to peel the apples for pies and apple bread. A lot of the time I used them, I left the peel on which is better for you anyway. Since I don't think I'm going to mass produce apple pies I think I really don't need this gizmo anyway. Sometimes when you really think of what you need, you realize you don't need anything at all.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Who Needs A Hairdresser?

If you know me and my child, you also know that she's never really had a haircut. She's 3 by the way. (I trimmed it once to even out some weird growing baby hair) but she has REALLY long hair (I think I'm rebelling against the Dorothy Hamill haircut my mom made me get in the 70's.)

She has nice hair, it's very long and wavy now. Recently it developed a huge knot in the back that I have been struggling with. I've tried everything-Lots of conditioner. Johnson's No More Tangles and lots of brushing. Her hair is also too long and she's starting to resemble an Appalachian child who should be wearing a flour sack.

I know she needs a haircut and I have been dragging my feet. I was also all embarrassed about the knot. Besides, I was thinking this evening, I don't really want a different style for her it's pretty as is. I just want it shorter. So after her bath tonight I sat her down and cut her hair. I took off about 3 inches so it is still long- it just looks much neater. It was really easy actually. She had fun playing beauty shop. And it was completely FREE.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

My Cup of Tea!

I love warm beverages in the wintertime. There is nothing I like more than cozying up with a book and a cup of earl grey tea in the afternoon or drinking warm coffee in the morning.

I always make it a point to drink out of something beautiful. For me, this makes the act of drinking even more of a treat.

A bunch of years ago I was in a meeting and noticed that this very caustic woman had a black coffee mug that read "Coffee From Hell" with flames on it. What a surprise. This really spazzy guy had this HUGE green cup that you could take a swim in and most of the people had free vendor mugs. How much do you enjoy your drink in one of those I wondered???? I was struck by the fact that I was always the only person at a meeting actually using a nice cup.

For years I used a handmade mug that Jeannine made. I dropped it in from of another friend. When she saw how sad I was over it she purchased the lovely MacKenzie Childs mug pictured above as a gift for me.

Sometimes I use a Blue Willow Cup and Saucer I got at a garage sale or one of the rooster mugs that my mom got me for a gift one year. The cup doesn't have to be expensive for you to savor the experience. So think about what you drink your morning Joe in, I bet you can make it even better by paying attention to your cup.

And, If it's always a Starbuck's paper cup, then you're probably paying too much for your morning coffee!!!
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Thursday, January 3, 2008

Visit My Finnish Sister!

When I was in High School, I met one of my soul mates, A Finnish Foreign Exchange Student who lived in a house down the street my senior year. We immediately hit it off and she started calling me "Her American Sister" A name, I treasure to this day. She visited a few years ago and it was like the time in between was just a moment.

She has a blog-Visit her. She's funny. She's deep (much deeper than what you find on this blog!) and she's writing in English, her second (or 3rd or 4th) language. Amazing because she is so darn articulate. She's doing wonderful things with her life. As soon as I get the blog list up and running she'll be on it. In the mean time, Take a visit!

Don't miss her post, I Want To Be As Good As The Monk Standing Next to me. She has such a way of looking inward that is funny and honest and insightful. (And she's always insightful!). Oh and take a look at the lovely side bar on her home page!!!

Dishwasher Duel Rematch- Target Brand Dishwasher Detergent

Last summer, I wrote about my ongoing quest to find a dishwasher detergent that worked for me. I happened upon Cascade Complete which I love. When I researched this on consumer reports, I also noticed that the Target brand dishwasher detergent scored high as well and was considered a best buy.

Since then I haven't been near Target when I needed detergent. By a happy coincidence 2 days before Christmas I was at Target and remembered that I needed some and also remembered the Consumer Reports write up! I picked it up and used it all through the holidays. I used it for a 20 person party on Christmas Eve.-No problem. Also, because we were not home all the time I would sometimes only run the dishwasher every 2 days. It worked like a charm and was $2.99 for a box (roughly half of the cost of Cascade.) I have to say, it worked almost as well as Cascade. Certainly good enough for me.

I will still buy Cascade if I'm out and not going to Target ($3 is not something I'll make an extra trip over) but hopefully the next time you're in Target and need dishwasher detergent you'll consider the store brand!

Product Review-Free Fiber One

Well it's that time of year again! The First of January countless people try to eat better after the food orgy that was Christmas. One of the first things people think about related to healthy eating is, of course, fiber (Well at least if you're my husband.)
For the new year, the site (Remember that funny food game I reviewed!)  is giving out free samples of the original Fiber One cereal.  As you may know, Fiber One provides 57% of the average adults daily fiber requirement, has 0 grams of sugar and 60 calories per serving.  To receive the sample you have to sign up for the Eat Better America newsletter. The newsletter is an e-mail that is sent out once a month and provides recipes and tips for people to start living healthier lives.

My God I Already Bought Something!!!

My God, what is it, Jan 3rd and already I've bought something new.

It was needles for my sewing machine. (and I did mention I was going to buy those...) I'm making my mother-in-law a purse for her birthday and I knew I broke the last one a few weeks ago. I was also in the same plaza as Jo-Ann's today and thought it silly to have to drive back out to buy a darn needle just because I didn't want to buy something "new" so soon.

So I spent $3.29 on 4 needles. Read all of the backs of the packages. There were 3 kinds. 1 Made in China and 2 made in India (Who knows, is India any better than China?) I chose Singer needles from India.

It was 11:30am. I was meeting a friend for lunch across the parking lot at 11:35 am. I thought briefly about going after lunch but I figured giving myself so little time to buy the needles would eliminate any desire to look at stuff! I walked QUICKLY past all of the sale holiday merchandise. I was like a horse with blinders on making my way to the sewing needles. I ignored the sale fabric and pretended there was no yarn at all in the store.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Cutting Cable!

No, I didn't get rid of it all! (I could have but the Yankees/Politics fan in my husband would probably leave!)

I did take a good look at the bill though.

A few months back my husband called to complain about the service and the woman offered to reduce our bill by $6 and add a bunch of premium movie channels. She did and we have been paying that reduced rate ever since.

I think though, that the cost of the service had just gone down. Because when I recently looked at the bill I saw it included premium movie channels that together equal $16. No biggie I suppose as we still were paying the rate that we got with the $6 off. However, since September when we got these extra channels we have never watched them!

So I called today and canceled both of the premium channels and saved us $16 extra dollars a month. It took all of 3 minutes!

This is prompting me to take a good look at the rest of my bills to see where I might save here and there!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


Yesterday I went to my local mom and pop grocery store for a few items. Imagine my surprise when I saw the cleaned and sliced mushrooms were on sale for $.08 a lb!! Yup! They were cleaned and packaged and not even going bad. (The store is closed today and the cashier told me they would be starting to turn before they opened again on Wed.)

Anyway, I bought 6lbs of mushrooms for $0.48!!! Can you believe it! What did I do with 6 lbs of mushrooms you ask! Well last night I made mushroom soup that we had for lunch today. I saved some for tomorrow's lunch and froze the rest. Right now I have a mushroom barley soup simmering that I will freeze for us and will serve next week when my aunt comes over. We are also having sauteed mushrooms as a side dish this evening and I am thinking I will be making a mushroom and cheese quiche for breakfast tomorrow!

Everything I am making I have used what I have on hand so my $0.48 cent deal didn't end up costing me anything more in additional ingredients!

Happy No New Stuff Year!!!

For the New Year I'm jumping off the consumer bandwagon!

For a while now I've been thinking about the implications of all this stuff in my life. Stuff is cheap (Ok stuff like food and gas are not cheap) but by and large, stuff is cheap. I can buy a sweater now for roughly the same amount that I did in the 80's. I bought my husband a pair of slippers before Christmas for $7 at Old Navy. How much does a $7 pair of slippers cost to make in order to make any money for the store $0.70? Probably. If I take this slipper question to a logical conclusion, HOW does something get made so cheaply???-The answer, is something I probably don't want to look too closely at. Also, the whole "Made in China" thing has really made me take a good hard look at what I'm buying.

On top of that, lust for stuff costs money and time. I say I don't need anything else and yet, somehow, going into Target makes me feel differently. I don't like that.

I already have a lot of stuff (too much stuff) and this is the year that I'm going to get it all under control.

I've been thinking about doings something like "the Compact which you may or may not have about on the Internet. The basis of which is :

The Compact has several aims (more or less prioritized below):

  • To go beyond recycling in trying to counteract the negative global environmental and socioeconomic impacts of disposable consumer culture and to support local businesses, farms, etc. -- a step that, we hope, inherits the revolutionary impulse of the Mayflower Compact.
  • To reduce clutter and waste in our homes (as in trash Compact-er).
  • To simplify our lives (as in Calm-pact)
We've agreed to follow two principles (see exceptions etc. on our blog).

#1 Don't buy new products of any kind (from stores, web sites, etc.)
#2 Borrow, barter, or buy used.

This intrigues me. I always say I have ENOUGH STUFF to last me for years and I probably do. Do I??? This is the year to see. This is my year of NO NEW STUFF! Yes, that means that I'm buying nothing new for myself.

I'm going to mention a few exceptions to this proclamation though:

1) I won't bring my family along for the ride if they don't want to. I won't make my husband try and find a hose at a garage sale if ours bursts and we need a new one (Although I will try and find him one myself!) If he needs a hose he can get one. (and trust me, I won't make my husband need a new purse halfway through the year!) He's pretty on board though so at least he isn't looking at me like I've grown another head.
2) I draw the line at shoes and undies. Those can and will be bought new.
3) Same with some new clothes. I will buy them if I need them, but only when I need them and only what I need. (I don't need 5 pair of black sandals!) I'm not opposed to 2nd hand clothes and my daughter and I both have them. But if I need a shirt, I'm gonna buy a shirt.
4) Gifts.I'm not going to give my mom a used bathrobe for a present if she needs one although I will try and give clutter free gifts whenever possible.
5) Plants-These are food for my table and soul. I will try and buy most from seed, locally at plant sales for garden clubs and the such and by begging for freebies from my friend's gardens. I can't say I won't buy some outright though as I have a special garden project I am planning for spring.

What I will do:
1) Only buy what I NEED and can see an immediate use for (even 2nd hand items can get out of control if you don't watch it!)
2) Will try and buy local food when possible.
3) I will purchase personal hygiene items (but use up what I have before buying new)
4) NO new craft stuff. I have a BUNCH of projects I need to finish from knitting to furniture re-finishing. If a project needs something like paint or a sewing needle to finish them, then I'm not going to stress over that, I'll buy it if I have no other option. (I think it's better to spend $10 on some paint to finish something that's been sitting in the basement for a year!
5) Paint-I'm making an exception for this one as I want to paint a few of the rooms in the house this year and I want to use some authentic antique colors that I can only buy. This doesn't create clutter though!
Less consumables like paper plates, napkins, flatware, etc... I have a dishwasher already!

This also has some business implications for me as well.

1) For the past year I have been selling new and also antique/vintage items. Obviously, now the business with be just antiques. 2) Also, I get free boxes from the post office (but they are new) I will try and recycle boxes that other things have come in before using or ordering any more free boxes. (but I know at some points I will need to use new boxes)
2) I already use mostly recycled packing materials and will continue to do so.
3) I use tape and labels. I don't see how I could use second-hand products of this nature, so this will still be new stuff.

Perhaps I'm being buoyed by the fact that I got everything I need on my Christmas list (it wasn't that long!) . I see a few drawbacks as right now there are a few things I do want like a new faucet and light fixtures but I have some financial goals that I want to meet first anyway-I can think about those things later (or ask for them for my Birthday or Next Christmas.)

I'm not doing this to be a mayrter or in judgment of anyone else. It just feels right to me right now. You can watch the journey here as I will be giving updates and keeping tracking of what I do spend. I will, of course, still be Living Beautifully, Frugally.