Category Archives: Frugal Living

Bring back those amazing plastic bags!

In our household with four kids and a zillion pets, a plastic grocery bag was a treasured thing. I don’t think one ever went to waste.

I never understood the plastic bag recycling container at the supermarket. I always wanted to raid it.  How could people relinquish their bags?  We never had enough of them.

And each one usually went through several uses, before it was finally relegated to its final use—usually something pretty rank.

Lining the diaper pail (the old-time cotton diapers, folks.) Lining a trash can. Cat/guinea pig/bird/hamster/gerbil/rat/ferret refuse.

Kids’ muddy clothes, needing to get from Point A to the laundry room without making an ultra-used car’s interior worse than it already was.

The only thing more valuable was a shoe box. They would be tucked away for those inevitable sad days to come.

They would become the final resting home for small pets that, having breathed their last, would be carefully placed in a ziplock, which would be solemnly zipped shut, then put in a carefully saved shoebox (with tearstained letters), then sealed with duct tape.

Then Steve would dig the latest grave, in the presence of weeping. Once he had carefully laid the box to rest, I would urge him to say some words of comfort. He always gave me That Look…then sighed and proceeded with his latest eulogy.

Big families, tight budgets

We represented that entity that, long ago, used to be the standard bearer of American life and culture.

A large, messy, rowdy, cluttered, busy family—somehow making it work on a budget. Continue reading Bring back those amazing plastic bags!

Lower your heating bills-replace window blinds with pretty no-sew curtains

Both propane and electricity costs are going up this winter.

And strict new wood burning laws make it hard to rely on a trusty wood stove or fireplace.

Slatted window blinds don’t hold out the cold that well.  And it’s hard to keep them dusted.  Besides, they can make your home look as comforting as a dentist office.

The same goes for vertical blinds on sliding glass doors.  They’re hard to keep clean, they don’t look very homey, and they don’t keep out the cold very well. Continue reading Lower your heating bills-replace window blinds with pretty no-sew curtains

Homemade Dog Treats–They’ll Love Them!

Our dogs love this homemade treat.  You can make them any size or shape that works for your fur babies.

The key to making this  cookie firm and crunchy is to bake it at a low temperature for a long time.   I bake them at 275 degrees for about 50 minutes, and let them cool before you package them up.

No artificial ingredients here!  These can have a strong smell when they are baking, so don’t make them when fussy people might show up.

This recipe makes a lot of treats – you can cut it in half, thirds, etc. Continue reading Homemade Dog Treats–They’ll Love Them!

Create Easy, Inexpensive Terrariums – Fun for All Ages

I loved creating simple, easy terrariums as a girl.   All ages can enjoy making them, and they add a simple elegance.

Open terrarium
Open terrarium

They’re inexpensive, low maintenance, and any problems are easy to fix.   Make sure you do a little research first, before you buy your plants and supplies.

Choose plants with similar moisture and light needs.

Terrariums can be open or covered.   Open terrariums can tolerate some direct sun, but too much bright sunlight can burn leaves that touch the sides of the container.

Sun-loving plants that grow in natural light will do well in an open container, including low-moisture succulents.

Closed terrarium
Closed terrarium

Terrariums can also be covered – with plastic wrap, or a clear cover. Covered terrariums can take bright light as long as it’s not direct sunlight, which can cook the plants.

Just watch the heat in your covered terrarium, as well as the light, since covering a terrarium increases the heat.  Watch a covered terrarium’s moisture as well.

Once started, covered terrariums rarely need watering.   Clouding and condensation are signs of too much moisture, which can sicken plants and cause mold, mildew, and algae growth.  Uncover the terrarium for a while to release excess moisture. Continue reading Create Easy, Inexpensive Terrariums – Fun for All Ages

Car Games, Car Songs, Old Fashioned Car Fun

eaglesQuit texting, facebooking, surfing the net in the car.  Put away those video games and tablets!  The world is rolling by, in all its glory.

And the beautiful scenery around southwest Washington can take your breath away, no matter how many times you see it.

So, kids of all ages, why not have some fun with it?

Easy Car Games

“I Spy”

What could be better than “I Spy”?  The faster the car is moving, the higher the skill level!i spy 2

As an indoor game you start off with “I spy with my little eye” — but who has time to spit that out in a moving car, when the object will be quickly gone from view?

This guessing game was preceded by an 18th century British game called Hy Spy–a twist on Hide and Seek.  The “History and antiquities of the town and county of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1789” stated:  I spye is the  usual exclamation at a childish game called, ‘Hie, spy, hie.’

So hie, spy or I spy…it’s all easy.   One player is the spy.  The spy sees something out the window (or in the car, during long stretches) and says, “I spy something….” and gives an adjective.  The others try to guess.   You’d better make it easy if the object will be behind you in a few seconds.

That’s it.   Either the eventual winner becomes the next spy–or if you have little kids playing, you’d better give them a turn, or they’ll mope.

“Alphabet and Numbers”

You can play this with road signs, bumper stickers, license plates, anything.aberdeen sign

Just start with “one” and “A.”  Go in order.  It’s up to you if you feel like starting over with “one” after hitting “nine”– or whether you want to venture into the teens and beyond.  And good luck with “Q” and “Z.” Continue reading Car Games, Car Songs, Old Fashioned Car Fun