Ape with staffFive things that make me happy

  1. Waking up yesterday to find that my 19-year-old son had stayed up all night to paint enormous watercolors of animals holding staffs for his drawing class. (Pardon the awful and blurry iPhone photo.) I think that he’s actually going to be able to make a living from the thousands of hours he spent doodling on his school assignments.
  2. After fiddling with it for a good long while, I was finally able to fix the ankle zipper on my husband’s track suit bottoms. This will not only keep these pants from needing to be tossed, but it was an oddly enjoyable and satisfying task. I’m trying to not have a mending pile, but to mend things as soon as they come to my attention. (“Pile” is rarely a good thing.)
  3. Portland’s sunnier weather has naturally resulted in people spending more time outside their homes, which means more conversation and community building with the neighbors. People are smiling, borrowing and lending; and it’s a beautiful thing.
  4. My husband’s workplace almost went on strike this week, but it was voted down. That would simply be the very last straw for us dealing with various stressors that are going on in our lives right now. I am very happy he’s not about to go on strike!
  5. My son’s artwork. I just love his passion for what he does! He has an extremely unique eye and view of the world, which reflects strongly in his art.

Proboscis monkey with staff

One thing that’s pissing me off

  1. Dealing with a $750 unnecessary fee at my son’s university has become a never ending thorn in my side. The person I deal with does not return phone calls in a timely manner nor does she reply to e-mails in a normal time frame. All of this has meant that the process is never ending, and in turn makes it look like I’m being financially flaky. I have some other things going on in my life which means this issue cannot be my number one priority, but there’s no way in hell I’m going to spend $750 to make this go away. Today I’m going to give it a half-day of my full attention and hopefully make some headway, but really, I simply want to scream. Loudly. And often.

Now your turn. What’s making you happy, and conversely what’s pissing you off? 

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on March 2, 2015 · 30 comments

Volunteer flowers

  1. I stopped at The Grocery Outlet on my way home from dropping my son at school this morning. Among other things (cat litter, cumin, bananas, broccoli, energy bars, peanut butter, tortillas, avocados, jam) I got ten small containers of Müller brand chocolate-mint yogurt for 10¢ apiece. (You know it’s a fancy brand when there’s an umlaut!) I rarely buy small yogurts, so these treats will be greatly appreciated. I already sampled one, and it was über-delicious!
  2. My neighbor was mailed a small bag of cat food, despite not actually having a cat. She knew we have two cats and are not too proud about receiving free things. I went ahead and mixed it into our bin of Costco cat food, and I’m happy knowing there’s two-three extra days of food for Zelda and Hyena that I didn’t have to pay for.
  3. The weather was warm enough in Portland yesterday that I was able to turn off the furnace for most of the day. I did set it up again before I went to bed, as I’ve learned that it’s hard enough to drag ourselves out of bed in the morning without a freezing cold house to contend with. We have a programmable thermostat, which is I love. I set it for 63º during the day, and 57º at night. And as cold as that sounds, we’re all very comfortable and there are zero complaints. (Except from my mother, who has confessed to wearing long johns under her jeans when she visits!)
  4. My huge garbage picked flowerpot recently sprouted with some very pretty volunteer flowers. I grow kiwi in this pot, but have some other pots essentially filled with dead plants, so I’ll go ahead and transplant the flowers. I have a couple dozen terra cotta pots throughout the garden, and not one of them has a plant in it that was paid for. That’s right, my garden is 100% volunteer and freebie based! Thank you, random bird who pooped pretty seeds into my garden!
  5. We’re having my mother and step-father over for dinner tomorrow to celebrate his birthday. I’ll make oven barbecued chicken thighs, rice and broccoli. Dessert will be a homemade cake so the evening will be entirely frugal, yet entirely celebratory. And will end with a wonderfully inappropriate round of Cards Against Humanity. (So awful, yet so wonderful!)

Now your turn. What frugal things have yöu been up to? 

Käty Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on February 28, 2015 · 35 comments

Homemade pizza

  1. I whipped up a batch of cornmeal pancakes this morning, which sadly resulted in five pancakes. (Three of us at home + five pancakes = the world might end.) No problem though, as it was just the work of a minute to add in a few slices of french toast to even things out. However, there was some extra egg/milk mixture, which turned out to be the exact amount to make a single hot dog bun/french toast. No food waste here!
  2. I made $10 selling two unopened cans of infant formula left behind by my mother’s guest cottage tenants, which also included a bag of miscellaneous baby items. The retail value of the formula was $35, so it was a great deal for the buyer. Putting the Craigslist listing together took maybe five minutes, and since the buyer picked it up from my front porch, my end of the deal was almost zero effort.
  3. I recently broke my best pair of thrifted sunglasses, which meant I was using a not so fantastic pair of freebie fake Ray-Bans Wayfarers. I did have a decent backup pair, but both arms had fallen off. I was able to find one teeny-tiny screw, but that was it. So yesterday I walked down to my local glasses store and asked them if they had another screw that would fit. They wouldn’t take any money for the job, and I now have a perfectly functional and not so dorky looking pair of sunglasses without having to buy anything. Plus, I absolutely saved something from going into the garbage.
  4. I’d been toying with the idea of canceling my twice-a-week local newspaper subscription, and finally just took the plunge. What prompted this change? My neighbor posted on Facebook about how she’s starting to get The NY Times, and was wondering if anyone wanted to start getting her day-old papers. This seemed like the perfect solution for my family, as we pretty much get our local news from the internet these days anyway. My savings will be $12 per month, which will put $144/year back into our pockets. Plus, The NY Times is simply a more enjoyable newspaper!
  5. Dinner last night was homemade pizza, as it is every Friday night. Toppings were cheap stuff from The Grocery Outlet, (pepperoni and artichoke hearts), a big green salad balanced things out. This weekly tradition not only saves us money, but simplifies our week as I never have to give a thought as to what Friday’s evening meal will be.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to? 

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on February 27, 2015 · 66 comments

Costco drinking fountain

  1. My husband and I try to gas up our minivan whenever we’re at or near a Costco, as it’s usually 30¢/gallon cheaper than the competition. But since Oregon is one of two states where it’s illegal to pump your own gas, it’s always the attendant who fills the tank. Unfortunately, the last guy who performed this task screwed the gas cap back on with the tether sticking out. We only discovered this when the “Check Engine Light” lit up and I dutifully drove it to the auto clinic. We were charged $60 for the inspection, which A) made me happy as there was nothing actually wrong with the car, but B) bummed me out as it was a stupid waste of money. However . . . because it was Costco, (a very ethical company) they gave me 0.0% flack about reimbursing me the $60. That’s right, all I had to do was bring in the mechanic’s paperwork, and they handed me three twenty dollar bills!
  2. We had chicken thighs for dinner the last two nights, and I saved everyone’s leftover bones. So tonight’s dinner is . . . chicken noodle soup! Very delicious, and extremely satisfying on a drizzly February evening.
  3. I had plans yesterday to go to breakfast with a neighbor and catch up on each other’s lives. Unfortunately, I had too much stuff going on to make our date. So instead, this morning we cozied up on her porch to drink tea and chat our chattiness. It was nice to enjoy each other’s company without the expense of hitting up a restaurant.
  4. I am still on the hunt for big glass jars to store my bulk purchased oatmeal. I had the great idea to ask at the Costco food court, as sauerkraut usually comes in exactly the size jar I’m looking for; and who serves more sauerkraut than Costco? (Great idea, right?) I stood patiently in line and realized I was thirsty and started craving a root beer. I rarely drink soda, but I do enjoy a root beer the couples times per year when I indulge in a Costco Polish sausage. (Seriously, I’m like a Pavlovian dog, I go to the food cart and suddenly start salivating for a root beer!) However, I didn’t really want to drink a soda, so I walked over to the drinking fountain and quenched my thirst. Frugally and healthfully. And by the way, their sauerkraut comes in plastic bags. :-(
  5. My husband was given a Fitbit for Christmas and was really enjoying tracking his activity and sleep. That is, until it popped off his wrist and became part of the great unknown. However, someone over at the The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group happened to mention that the Fitbit company will sometimes replace lost ones for free. So I went to their website and explained my husband’s situation. And whattayaknow, they contacted my husband with the news that a brand-spanking-new fitbit was being be mailed out to him. (This time with a XL wristband.) Yay!!

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to? 

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Oatmeal – A Non-Sponsored Post

by Katy on February 26, 2015 · 19 comments

In honor of Throwback Thursday, I present a previously published post. Enjoy!

As I write this, I am enjoying a large bowl of hot oatmeal. And no, it’s not from a packet, and it certainly doesn’t include dinosaur eggs or wood pulp. It’s just oatmeal. Bought in bulk from Bob’s Red Mill, and then stored in a pretty vintage glass jar on my kitchen counter. (And of course, it’s cooked in a thrifted Descoware pot.)

Oatmeal.

I always sprinkle some brown sugar on top, and then wait for it to melt into ooey-gooey goodness.

Oatmeal.

Healthy, tasty, filling and cheap.

Oatmeal.

I am not perfect. I like prepackaged cereal and would eat daily McMuffins if they were healthy and produced by an ethical company. But when I remember to fix oatmeal, I always end up thinking about how wonderfully pure the experience is, and wonder why I don’t prepare it more often.

Oatmeal.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Non-Consumer Photo Essay

by Katy on February 24, 2015 · 19 comments

Like The Non-Consumer Advocate but wish that you had a bit more visual information? Well then, today’s your lucky day!

Here’s our dinner from last night. Homemade calzones filled with broccoli, Tillamook cheddar cheese and chopped ham. (Inspired by large bunches of 99¢ broccoli at The Grocery Outlet.)

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 1.11.48 PM

On my walk home from dropping our car at the mechanic’s, I came across this poor lovelorn table:

free table

Single and ready to mingle!

lovelorn table

I did drop off a few too-scrappy-to-donate items at this textile recycling receptacle outside the Albina library. (Doesn’t it look like the next incarnation of tiny house living?)

The company is Gemtex, and here’s a link to frequently asked questions about their business model.

tiny house

I like that they’ll take “even a single sock.” I wish I’d known that last week when I was KonMari-style decluttering my wardrobe.

Textile recycling

Don’t believe that my stuff was too scrappy for even a veterinary donation? Check out the huge hole on this fitted sheet:

torn sheet

I also Goodwilled a bag of miscellaneous stuff left behind by the people who just vacated one of my mother’s guest cottages. Nothing worth keeping, but I was happy to take the tax deduction.

I was somehow able to resist this one-of-a-kind hand crocheted pillow. (Although I kind of loved the hanging balls.) It looks like something a set decorator would snap up for a crazy cat lady set.

Enjoy the pillow, it comes with a dozen fully grown cats!

goodwill pillow

I had a sad and somewhat embarrassing moment at The Grocery Outlet yesterday when I had to put back a half-dozen packets of ham after discovered they cost $5.49 each, not the 49¢ that I had thought they did.

Seriously though, am I the only one who reads this sign as 49¢?!

cheap ham?

So there you go, lots of visual imagery, and a glimpse in the intense glamor that is my non-consumer life!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on February 23, 2015 · 39 comments

  1. Our weekend was very centered on my 16-year-old son’s soccer schedule, plus a Portland Timbers season opener game last night. I made sure to be very deliberate with meal planning so that we wouldn’t succumb to mindless takeout. I set up a fun burrito bar yesterday at 2 P.M. that incorporated leftovers and ensured that no one could possibly get hungry while at the soccer stadium.
  2. While at the Saturday night indoor soccer futsal game, the facility manager bought beers for my husband and I as a thank you for the work my husband does to organize the high school league. (This is actually a pretty common occurrence, as my husband does a lot of volunteering and tends to drink free all over town.)
  3. My husband worked on Saturday to complete a DIY plumbing repair that he started last year. It’s still uncompleted and there’s been a proclamation that “I am never going to do another project on this damned house!” DIY = frugal, but DIY can also = a never ending fount of frustration. Poor guy.
  4. I took out everything from the shelf in my bedroom closet which included sheets and purses. I’m donating a couple still usable sheet sets to Goodwill, as well as all the flat sheets we never use. Scrappy torn up sheets will go to textile recycling and one fake Kate Spade purse went into a free bin on the curb and was quickly snapped up. Now everything in the closet is stuff we actually use and no longer piled to the ceiling. (We have no linen cupboard.)
  5. I found a knit black headband on the ground at the soccer field, which I brought home and laundered.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 39 comments }

Today I Am . . .

by Katy on February 21, 2015 · 22 comments

Today I am . . . 

  • Making pumpkin scones, as I wanted to bake something and the recipe doesn’t call for any eggs. (We’re all out.) I enjoy that I’m using the pumpkin puree from our run of the mill Halloween jack-o-lanterns.
  • Enjoying the warm Portland weather that allows me to keep the furnace off. I love how quiet the house is without the hum of the furnace.
  • Making a plan to sell my childhood coin collection at a local coin shop. Nothing is worth enough to piece it out on eBay, and I really have zero interest in holding onto it forever.
  • Totally grooving on my husband working on a basement plumbing project that’s been sitting dormant for at least a year. (DIY is certainly budget friendly, just not part of any zippy timeline.)
  • Going to my son’s soccer game in the late afternoon and giving two scrappy blankets to another parent who will use them for her dogs.
  • Returning my Redbox movie from yesterday. It’s no bargain to use a free code if it’s not returned on time.
  • Going to sort through and organize all of our sheets. I did the KonMari decluttering method for my clothing, (keep only what “sparks joy”) but my closet shelves hold too many sheets and ruin the tidy effect. (We have no linen closet, so our sheets and towels are stored in odd places throughout the house.
  • Listening to a library digital audiobook of The Hoarder in You by Dr Robin Zasio. (By the way, I am not a hoarder, but I find it all fascinating and certainly inspiring to keep my house in order.)
  • Plan on making The Frugal Girl’s fish cakes for tonight’s dinner. I have some frozen white fish fillets were were less than ideal when cooked plain, but should be just fine when mixed up for fish cakes.
  • Probably going to watch a couple episodes of Gilmore Girls on Netflix with my older son. (He says he hates the show, but he gets mad if I watch an episode without him or not pause it when he runs to the bathroom.)
  • And not much else. A typical day here at Casa Wolk-Stanley.

Now your turn. What non-consumer-y things are you doing today?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on February 20, 2015 · 29 comments

Rising dough

  1. I’m taking advantage of some fun free offers today. These include a free Redbox movie using the code 5654UUUU, a free Russell Stover chocolate egg using a Fred Meyer e-coupon and snagging another $5 Amazon gift card from using Swagbucks.
  2. I was craving bagels yesterday, but didn’t really feel like driving the distance to buy them or spending any money. I went ahead and mixed up a batch of The Prudent Homemaker’s recipe and had 16 bagels ready to eat within an hour-and-a-half of starting, which included down time. I didn’t have any poppy seeds or sesame seeds on hand, so I sprinkled cornmeal on top for a nice crunchy extra. The only ingredients for bagels are flour, water, salt, yeast, sugar and an egg white. Very, very cheap to make! I substituted whole wheat pastry flour for half of the white flour, used a damp tea towel instead of plastic wrap and I saved the extra egg yolk to mix into today’s scrambled eggs. I even had a box of cream cheese that I got for free last month from combining coupons and a sale!
  3. Dinner last night was red lentil soup and toasted bagels. I’d thought that I didn’t have any ginger root, but I unearthed a hunk from the freezer. Extremely cheap, filling and healthy! Tonight’s dinner will be homemade pizza with diced pancetta that I picked up at The Grocery Outlet.
  4. My son found a two-hour public transport pass on the sidewalk, and was able to take the bus home for free from his college classes. That’s my boy!
  5. I’m pretty sure that I haven’t bought anything in 2015 except for food and toiletries.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Princess Katy and The Bedside Table

by Katy on February 19, 2015 · 8 comments

In recognition of Throwback Thursday, the following is a reprint of a previously published post. Enjoy!

Once upon a time there was a lovely princess. (For the sake of the story, we’re going to call her “Katy.”) Princess Katy was the proud owner of a table. You might have called it a console table, or even a desk, but for the princess, it was a bedside table. Sadly, this table had no finish on it, which meant that when the young princes drew all over the side of the table, her ladies in waiting were unable to remove the offending ink marks.

So the sweet middle aged princess threw a vintage tablecloth over the table and went on with her royal duties of picking out hats and posing for pictures with ill children.

But then, the Princess Katy got cable TV and watched a large amount of HGTV. She was full of inspiration and decided to refinish the table. With a sander borrowed from the hunky middle-aged Prince Dale, she set to work.

Armed with wood stain from the Queen Mum and oil finish from her own basement, the princess set to work. Although the hands-on time was minimal it took quite awhile, as her royal duties were numerous.

When the oil finish finally dried, the princess placed diamond knobs on the drawer, which she had garbage picked off an abandoned vanity.

The Princess Katy was very pleased with her bedside table, and felt she could finally focus her attention on important royal matters such as shenanigans with the stable boy and pleasing the Queen Mum.

Which is how it should be.

The end.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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