Five Frugal Things

by Katy on February 11, 2019 · 78 comments

  1. My friend Lise texted asking if I had afternoon plans, as her husband accidentally double booked himself and wasn’t able to use his ticket to see a theatrical production of Sense and Sensibility. Umm . . . yes! Because Jane Austen + live theater + free are all things I will 103% agree to. Add the three together and giddiness ensues. The play was superb, both hilarious and poignant. And since it was the final production, the actors chewed up the scenery and threw in spontaneous ad libs that added to the hilarity. Perfection.

  2. I borrowed a productivity hack from Gretchen Rubin and set the stop watch on my phone for one of her power hours. Essentially to devote a single 60-minute period to completing the annoying tasks that normally don’t float to the top of one’s to-do list. And since I grew up taking dance classes, I add an extra layer to always be thinking two steps ahead, which eliminates the pause points between tasks. No “hmm . . . what should I do next?” which kills any momentum.

    So while I’m wiping down the front of the splattered kitchen cupboards, I know I’ll clean the cobwebs from the hanging light fixture in the entryway. But I also know that I’ll sweep the basement stairs. As I complete one task I add another step, so I always have two more things to do. Like chess, but for household drudgery.

    I was able to wipe down the kitchen cupboards, clean the entryway light, sweep the basement stairs, scoop the litter boxes, take out the recycling, put the cover back on the propane grill, wipe down the bathroom, start laundry, sweep the kitchen/dining room, cut forsythia for the dining room, tidy the entryway, (so many shoes!) vacuum the living room/spare bedroom, switch laundry and a couple other things that escape my mind. POWER HOUR!

  3. Portland had been forecasted to receive an entire week of snow. Of course, people panic shopped and cleared the grocery store shelves of bread, milk and hilariously, kale. I shop for the pantry, rather than specific meals, which means that I’m pretty much set for general food prep at all times. Granted, I’m walking distance from two grocery stores, but the panic was still an overreaction. Especially since we received an inch or so of snow which has since been melted by Portland’s ever present rain.

    I’m happy that my fridge isn’t stuffed with excessive amounts of wilting kale.

    You can read about “the pantry principal,” (which I stole from Amy Dacyczyn) in this nine-year-old blog post.

  4. I sold the top half of a Fiestaware butter dish, I put together a couple new eBay listings, I picked up a library copy of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal, I invited my mother and step father over for a frugal yet delicious dinner, (hosting doesn’t have to be expensive) and I worked two 12-hour hospital shifts.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar gold-plated apartment in the sky.

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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{ 78 comments… read them below or add one }

Mand01 February 11, 2019 at 12:07 pm

Lol, kale.
1. We’ve had several dental and doctors appointments for our kids lately. Thanks to our excellent medical system, $0 out of pocket.
2. I’ve been very good and not purchased anything while at work. No coffee or snacks.
3. I’ve kept up the baking, so I can watch the grocery budget and keep trying to save for a new car.
4. Meal planning.
5. Wearing an entirely thrifted outfit today and yesterday. Actually most days.


A. Marie February 11, 2019 at 1:57 pm

Total envy of Mand’s comment in her #1 re: “our excellent medical system.” Here in the common-sense-forsaken U.S., I’m afraid we can only wish and dream (and vote, of course).


Patricia Koernig February 12, 2019 at 3:29 am



Christine February 12, 2019 at 11:55 am

Yes, most importantly, vote. There are some new candidates coming up in 2020 with some terrific ideas for change. Keeping an eye on and an ear open to them all.


Kara February 12, 2019 at 2:43 pm

Yes! Vote!
Please remember, everyone pays out of pocket. The payment is made through higher taxes and no payment at the point of service (at the hospital or health care clinic or doctor’s office), or lower taxes and payment at point of service. Each system has it’s pros and cons.


Mand01 February 12, 2019 at 3:14 pm

Also you pay more as medical care is one of the main causes of personal bankruptcies in the US. Those costs are passed on to all health consumers in the form of both higher premiums and overall increased costs.


DEBORAH A SIMCOE February 14, 2019 at 1:03 am

I am currently residing in a first world country with national health….I will take the US system any time. The waits here for people to receive what we think of as routine medical care are horrific. It is the norm for anyone who can afford it to purchase private medical insurance and then there are still long waits. The grass is always greener.


KJD509 February 14, 2019 at 11:15 am

Could you elaborate, Deborah? Is the reason you’d prefer the US system because wait times are shorter when 30% of the population doesn’t have access to health care? I don’t see that as an advantage, but maybe you could explain.

K D February 11, 2019 at 12:08 pm

1. I love the Pantry Principle of cooking. It is probably the most valuable lesson I learned in The Tightwad Gazette. I never need to stock up when bad weather is predicted.

2. We spent much of the weekend helping a relative move to their first house. We lent muscles and talents and made a few meals to help out. I did buy a few practical housewarming gifts (a big bucket of sidewalk salt (calcium chloride) and a couple shovels), as winter weather was forecast. We have in fact been having snow and freezing rain since last evening.

3. Because of the weather my scheduled activities for the day were cancelled. I am working on “never get around to them” chores.

4. I am waiting for a final tax document, scheduled to be available on the 15th, so that I can see how we fared in 2018. We had a few unusual events, as well as the tax law changes. I’m keeping my fingers crossed (a rational approach, I know).

5. Valentine’s Day gifts will involve chocolate baked goods and cheap cards.


LISA KOCH February 11, 2019 at 12:22 pm



Nancy from mass February 11, 2019 at 4:26 pm

“F” is exactly how I feel sometimes


Christine February 12, 2019 at 11:57 am

Ha ha! Yes, I think most of us can relate to the one.


Christine February 12, 2019 at 11:58 am

“that” one


A. Marie February 11, 2019 at 12:40 pm

FFT, Bracing for Another Big Storm Edition:

(1) Greetings from Upstate NY, where we know how to live with snow: Get the heck out and run necessary errands beforehand (but avoid panic buying–kale? seriously??), and stay in when it arrives. Tomorrow’s winter storm warning is for 6-10″ of snow with a layer of ice on top of that. So DH and I devoted part of yesterday and today to doing the needful: gassing up the vehicles (as cheaply as possible), sending off a package I needed to get to my employers, and getting much-delayed haircuts (we were starting to look like a couple of Old English Sheeppeople).

(2) A. Marie’s corollary to Amy D’s Pantry Principle (which I too swear by): Keep a well-stocked pantry, but don’t be afraid to improvise if you don’t have exactly what a recipe calls for. I know Katy does this, and I’m sure many others do too.

(3) I found a Vera Bradley NWT purse down at the Salvation Army superstore near me–but noticed once I got it home that it was giving off a certain odor (not exactly bathroom #1 or #2, and no stains to suggest same, but definitely not fresh; I suspect that it may have come from a hoarding situation). Since VB NWT bags don’t exactly grow on trees, I patiently worked it over with Febreze and Smells Begone until the aroma disappeared.

(4) Vegetarians/vegans, feel free to skip this one: Making a pot roast for dinner,
with a beef arm roast from our 1/4 cow, a cup of somehow leftover red wine, and some stock from the freezer.

(5) Finally, as a proud Life Member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, I totally approve of Katy’s #1 plus the nifty Venn diagram! (Katy: Was it the adaptation by Kate Hamill? I saw this one last year at our local Jesuit college, and it was everything you said.)


Susan Stanley February 11, 2019 at 3:44 pm

“Old English Sheeppeople” — that cracks me up!


Susan February 11, 2019 at 5:29 pm

Most VB bags are washable. Take out the cardboard piece that makes the bottom flat and throw it in the machine! Per their instructions: Close all zippers before laundering, machine wash cold, gentle cycle, use only non-chlorine bleach as needed; line dry


A. Marie February 12, 2019 at 2:32 am

I’ve washed a few thrifted VB bags successfully this way, Susan–and that’s what I would have done with this one if it hadn’t been NWT. I was trying to freshen the bag up without removing the tags if at all possible. (Almost all the VB bags I find are intended as gifts.)


Mary in VA February 12, 2019 at 5:15 am

You can also let something sit out in the the sun to deodorize it. Of course, it requires days that are not full of snow and ice, lol.


Christine February 12, 2019 at 12:02 pm

Your #4 sounds scrumptious for a snowy evening.


Jennifer February 11, 2019 at 12:44 pm

1. After being gifted a lot of produce, I found myself having to quickly get the bell peppers in the freezer as some were going bad. I made a few pans of stuffed bell peppers and froze them. I will have these on hand for a night when I don’t feel like doing much. They will be also be a nice gift to someone that has a new baby, death in the family, illness, etc.. I put the directions of the outside of the foil with a sharpie for this and also to remind myself what’s inside. I also diced up several 1/2 cup bags of bell peppers to add to recipes in the future.
2. I wrote a thank you card for the lady that gifted us the produce from a stash of cards that another friend gifted me that belonged to his mother before she passed. Whew…try to say that three times!
3. My kids and I made Valentines boxes for school out of shoe boxes and some of the crafting supplies that didn’t get KonMaried.
4. My daughter was sad because her grandmother, that she has only met once, has only three weeks left to live due to cancer. I encouraged her to write her a note about herself so, again, we pulled out the same batch of cards I received from my friend’s deceased mom and she wrote several things about herself that she felt her grandmother would like to hear. I also found some stray googly eyes in a drawer to glue onto the card that maybe will give her a little brightness in her last days.
5. We made Valentines for the kids at school from the boxes I purchased and stowed in the closet from a 90% off sale last year at Dollar General.

I guess this is crafting edition FFT’s


Cindy Brick February 11, 2019 at 6:48 pm

Jennifer, encourage your daughter to send more cards! Not only would Grandma enjoy them (and remember her granddaughter), but it will give them both more memories of that brief time they could spend together.

I would give a lot if I could write my grandma one more time. She died when I was a junior in high school– and never got a chance to meet my husband or our daughters.


Jennifer February 11, 2019 at 7:01 pm

Thank you for this. I love handwritten cards. In this age of text and email, they are so special and personal. Much better than any gift we could buy.


Christine February 12, 2019 at 12:11 pm

Jennifer, how sweet that you are encouraging your daughter to write to her grandmother. My own Grandma lived to be 93 for which I am so grateful. She suffered a catastrophic stroke one morning and was semiconscious that day. My Mom was in her room with her when a letter from me arrived. I had written it to her and mailed it a few days before. When my mother said “There’s a letter here from Christine…I’ll read it to you”, my grandmother’s eyes popped open and stayed that way the whole time my Mom read to her. After that. she closed her eyes and never opened them again. She passed away that night. My point being; it’s never too late. Good for you and your daughter!


Jennifer February 12, 2019 at 12:51 pm

Thank you for such a touching story.


Bee February 11, 2019 at 2:14 pm

Thank you for all the great suggestions for television programs. As I was looking through the listings on Netflix, I came across the movie, Becoming Jane, about the life and love of Jane Austen. It seems that it was a Jane Austen weekend!
1) On Saturday, my eldest son came over to help us do a few things in the garage that required heavy lifting. He had suggested that we get takeout for lunch, but a had leftover coq au vin in the refrigerator. I reheated it and made a salad. He was so happy and thanked me profusely for the delicious meal. It was nice to use up the leftovers and wonderful to get compliments on my cooking!

2) I purchased a beautiful, authentic silk kimono at Goodwill for $5. It still has the original tags on it written in Japanese. Today I packed it up to send it to my daughter for Valentines Day. She has wanted one for a long time. When I found it, the sash was missing, but I knew it had to have come in with it. I scoured the store and found it mixed in with the scarves.

3) I batched errands today – the dollar store, the post office, the library, the Goodwill and the gym. (My life is so exciting). I did not shop at the Goodwill. I dropped items off that needed a new home.

4) At the gym, I wore my hand-me-down workout gear passed along to me by my big sister. I brought my own towel to avoid additional fees and my refillable water bottle saving the earth from the plague of two more plastic bottles.

5) I sold 2 more items on eBay and shipped them in free packaging. I accepted some additional temporary work in a friends business. I gave my son, who needed to write a letter, a $20 box of Crane stationery that I purchased at an estate sale for $1 and had not yet opened. I downloaded my book club’s selection this month using the library app Hoopla. I am drinking home-brewed ice coffee, roasting beets that came in my farm box, and contemplating the effectiveness of the Power Hour. I think that tomorrow, I will set aside an hour to do some much needed chores around the house.


Jennifer February 12, 2019 at 12:58 pm

I just began watching Period. End of sentence. on Netflix. I found it to be very informative and interesting. It’s a documentary about a cultural view of menstruating women and of course it goes beyond that.


Linda February 11, 2019 at 4:08 pm

Wow! Good deal that you found that sash. I don’t know if I would have thought to look in the scarf section!


KJD509 February 11, 2019 at 4:32 pm

1) We had lots of family in town this past weekend for Littlest’s school play (she was the star!), but the expected snow cancelled all but one show. Friends and family, including me, skipped the panic trip to the grocery store in order to converge on her single performance in the hours before the snow was expected. Since it snowed late at night and melted by lunchtime, we all saved money. And Littlest had a huge cheering section!
2) With the rest of the shows cancelled, we needed to find something to do with everybody. Once upon a time when I would have looked for a movie or other activity, but instead we pulled out board games. Not all generations were interested, but I decided it wasn’t my job to make them enjoy themselves, just to offer them the option to do so. Those of us who played had a fabulous time.
3) We had one planned meal out over the weekend and a couple of inexpensive meals at home, which would have been frugal. Alas, a couple of flights were cancelled so I had several more meals with guests than I had planned for. I’d have cobbled together pasta or something, last night but the grown kids sweet-talked their dad into takeout and beer. We have them all in one place so rarely that it’s hard to resist when their requests converge. Plus now we have enough leftovers that I shouldn’t have to cook again this week.
4) Middle son and daughter cheerfully carried a LOT of heavy furniture out of our rental this morning before they headed off, saving us either hiring someone to do so or the medical costs for hubs or me (or both!) if we were to have done it ourselves. We should be able to have it ready to rent by the end of the week now.
5) Found a dollar bill blowing along the street like a dry leaf, a $20 bill and a $5 bill tucked into various pockets of a forgotten backpack, and a small stash of neatly stacked coins in a small, secret drawer of the car I bought used 18 months ago. All in one week!


Mary in VA February 12, 2019 at 5:09 am

Wow, it’s a good week for found money!


Nancy from mass February 11, 2019 at 4:42 pm

1. Worked at home today because I had my physical. When my day was done, I shut my computer down, took a quick nap, went outside picking up kindling. Supper was what was in the fridge with frozen fries and I spent some time darning some socks
2. Found a penny yesterday at the store picking up free yogurt and found a dime in the washing machine after doing a little laundry
3. Was treated to lunch twice last week at work and will be given lunch tomorrow before we shut down early to head home in preparation for the storm
4. Put together all the paperwork for my taxes on Saturday. I just want to go through it one more time before I send it to my accountant. I hope I get some money back this year I got money back last year but I owed the year before. But with the new tax laws I have a feeling that I’m going to get screwed
5. Nervously/anxiously awaiting the results from my sons college applications. He applied to 17 schools and we’ve heard from two. One declined him right away (the letter said they had such an influx of applications and I guess he didn’t make the first algorithym. ) The other school decided to not take a freshman class this year because they’re having problems financially. So stressful. So, so stressful


Kim in Maryland February 11, 2019 at 9:32 pm

Nancy, per your #4, I think we will all be screwed. Voting matters!


Christine February 12, 2019 at 12:17 pm

All of us besides the corporations and the very wealthy. The new tax law seems to be designed for us to keep them in the $$$.


Lindsey February 11, 2019 at 4:51 pm

1. Two mystery shops, one for the movies and one for gas plus a very small amount of cash.
2. Cut husband’s enviably thick curly hair and he never noticed the mistakes, although people standing behind him in choir might.
3. Only had to buy one thing to make a Valentine’s cake in the husband’s favorite flavor.
4. Cleaned out and donated five bags of books to our non-profit literacy council bookstore. Remembered to get tax receipt.
5. Mended my husband’s leather jacket. Good thing he is over 45, as he seldom wears his bifocals and that makes it less likely he will be able to see that I am not the excellent mender he thinks I am.

Frugal fail: Got absorbed in a book and only when the fire alarm started shrieking did I realize there was smoke billowing out of my oven. The dogs and hedgehog began panicking, all three running around in circles, so I had to open all the doors and at 13 below zero it did not take long for the furnace to kick in and stay on the entire time I had to keep the doors open. Ruined the meal. Had to spend hours the next day cleaning the oven and then, since I was having a weak day I found that I could not get up off my floor and had to drag myself to a piece of furniture that I could use to pull my carcass upright. Then realized I had leaned into the soot and oven cleaner and the front of my shirt was ruined.


Jo February 11, 2019 at 6:58 pm

Oh, no! But what book was it???


Jennifer February 11, 2019 at 7:07 pm

Was wondering the same thing!?! Ha!
Sorry about your frugal fail. I have done similar things. I can’t leave the kitchen while cooking because of getting so easily distracted.


Mary in VA February 12, 2019 at 5:11 am

Yes, inquiring minds need to know the name of that fascinating book!


Lindsey February 12, 2019 at 1:02 pm

It was Tombland, by CJ Sansom, the seventh in a series starring a hunchback lawyer in the Tudor era. I love historical mysteries, a good antidote to current politics, and this character is an honorable man who struggles to stay moral in an increasingly immoral world of vast differences in wealth and infighting about which religion should dominate public discourse and policy. And then, of course, there is always that malevolent ignoramus Henry VIII in the background…If you liked the book Wolf Hall, you will probably enjoy this one, as CJ Sansom has a similar meaty and dense style of plotting and sentence construction. Samson’s books are one of the few authors I buy as soon as they come out with a new offering, forget waiting in the library line.


KJD509 February 13, 2019 at 11:22 am

Lindsey, every copy of the first book in that series – paper and electronic – in my library system has been snapped up in the past 24 hours. Your recommendation carries a lot of weight! I’m on the waitlist for first available. . .


Melissa February 18, 2019 at 4:14 pm

These are excellent books! You would love SJ Parris books as well – similar in style to CJ Sansom.

Marilyn February 11, 2019 at 9:55 pm

Sorry to hear about the ruined meal and the shirt. I once did the very same thing, ruined a meal because I got involved in a book I was reading. It could happen to anyone.


Pattilou February 11, 2019 at 5:19 pm

1. A friend gave me a package of brand new socks that she didn’t need. They are really nice socks. My friend will get some cookies in return.
2. Wrote emails to two companies about products I was unhappy with. Both are sending me coupons for replacements.
3. I just sold a table and chairs on FB marketplace. It’s the first time I have used FB to try to sell something. I have been trying to sell this set on Craigslist for quite some time. I’m happy for the extra cash and for the extra clutter to be gone.
4. Another friend gave me a brand new set of sheets that she was never going to use. I love them. When I asked her if she wanted me to pay for them, she said she would rather be treated to lunch. She loves the Peruvian restaurant with great prices, so lunch it is.
5. Someone backed into my car and damaged the headlight and didn’t leave a note. My car seems to be a magnet for this kind of thing. I took the car in today and they want almost 500.00 to fix it. The guy at the desk suggested that I look for the part at a junkyard and bring it in to have them put it in, which will cost much less. That helped soften the blow of the fact that I still need another $600 repair. It’s all still less expensive than a car payment.


Ava February 11, 2019 at 5:19 pm

Lindsey, so sorry about the oven incident. Not long ago, I was roasting some vegs and foolishly put them on a sheet pan with not enough rim. Oil ran off onto the oven floor, flames and much smoke ensued and I had a real mess to clean up. The sweet potatoes were too smokey tasting to eat, but the dogs didn’t think so.
1. Husband and I spent several days exchanging sicknesses. We saved a lot of money by being too sick to leave the house for a week and a half. We did go out once for errands and another time to replenish cold medicines after we used up all our medicine cabinet stock.
2. Bought a movie for 1.00 from the library , watched it, then passed it on to a friend. Have another movie waiting for me at the library to check out.
3. Stocked up on the sugar free juice and drink mix I like at the $ Tree.
4. Was asked by my daughter in law to paint something for her living room. I used a 40% off coupon for the canvas and paints that I already had. She was very pleased. My son will frame it with pallet wood.
5. Changed tv plans. Got a better package for less money.


Stephanie February 11, 2019 at 6:23 pm

I’m a HUGE fan of the pantry principal. It’s the only way I shop. Only rarely do I buy special extras; I just use what I have on hand to cook. Saves SO much money!

1. I made a batch of bananadoodle cookies out of mushy brown bananas. They smell amazing.

2. We ate at home for all meals.

3. I got some seriously fantastic deals on produce this past week, so we’ve been eating our fruits and veggies. We also got a great deal on a turkey for the rest of the family.

4. It’s too cold to go anywhere or do anything, so we’ve been staying at home, which saves money.

5. I was asked to do a review of a book, which was sent to me by the author, and I’m really enjoying it so far. Free reads are always my jam! 🙂


Katy February 11, 2019 at 7:06 pm

I’m trying to pinch pennies as so much of our money is going into fixing up our house we just purchased.
1. We got gas as a cheaper gas station.
2. I vacuumed the van at home now that we have a shop vac, instead of taking it to a car wash.
3. Downloaded multiple free ebooks for my kids.
4. We’re continuing to DIY on the house, right now working on staining and putting poly on the hardwood floors.
5. Just got a $3 amazon giftcard from swagbucks, plus I have 8 sb now, I have $12.86 credit at the consignment store, about $3 on ibotta, and 104 my reader reward points.


Isa February 11, 2019 at 7:24 pm

Your snow story makes me smile! We get lots of snow here, in the next two days we are expecting 20 inches. I so wish it was one!!!!


Lee February 11, 2019 at 8:34 pm

Ha! I’m a pantry principle person and I didn’t even know it. I hit the grocery to stock up for the ssnow, but I was getting flour and cocoa powder because I figured we’d bake a lot if we were snowbound. I couldn’t believe how crazy people were acting. I noticed that they were mostly buying beer and snacks.

A nice thing about being a pantry person is that ingredients take up less space than boxes of prepared foods and they cost less and are healthier.


Debbie February 11, 2019 at 8:44 pm

1. Had my annual eye exam to check on my eye health (good), but sadly need new contacts as my eyes have worsened since last year. Insurance covers some, but not all, so I paid the difference with our FSA account. Plus I got $10 off my retinal eye scan by checking in on Facebook.
2. Eye doctor is near Costco, so went there afterwards for needed sale items. Also got a price adjustment for an item I bought last month that is now on sale this month ($3.03 back in my pocket!)
3. Got gas at Costco, which is the cheapest around.
4. Cooked and ate some farmer’s market produce purchased over the weekend (actually it was a bag of broccolini the farmer threw in for free) while it is still fresh and not waiting until it starts to wilt/go bad.
5. As above, prepped and made a batch of dill and sweet pickles (5 jars total) from cucumbers bought from the farmer’s market. I have a tendency to buy the cucumber and then forget to use them until they start to get wrinkly or moldy. Not today!
6. Called the library to locate a DVD I had returned on time this past Saturday which did not get checked in and was marked overdue. Saved me a potential fine.
7. I had paid our water bill on time last month, but the check got lost in the mail and I had a penalty to pay along with this month’s bill. Paid both months and the penalty fee grudgingly, but today found out the lost check somehow made it and was cashed a month after it was sent. So now we have a credit on our account (and I decided it wasn’t worth it to pay the stop check fee, but would monitor our account closely). I called to ask nicely if the penalty fee could be removed, seeing how it wasn’t really my fault the payment was late. They said I have a “one-time account waiver” to use and was able to apply it, which was nice.


Marilyn February 11, 2019 at 9:45 pm

As an added extra, much of “Sense and Sensibility” is about being frugal and the Dashwood women’s efforts get along on 500 pounds per year after the death of the father.


A. Marie February 12, 2019 at 10:18 am

Jane Austen and her family (well, except for the one brother who got adopted by rich distant cousins) were frugal in real life, too. JA’s letters to her sister, Cassandra, are full of details about domestic economy: dressmaking, mending, reuse of old garments for other purposes, etc. Cassandra kept bees and made mead at home. Mrs. Austen grew and dug her own potatoes (and, unlike the scene in the movie Becoming Jane where she has a temper fit about this, she actively enjoyed it). Mr. Austen, in addition to being a clergyman, did some farming and ran a small school for boys out of the Stevenson parsonage. I guarantee, the more you learn about JA and her family, the more you’ll want to know.


A. Marie February 12, 2019 at 11:14 am

For “Stevenson,” read “Steventon.” I do know my Austen family history. Blame the @#$%!! autocorrect.


Bee February 12, 2019 at 11:22 am

Do you have a resource about the life of Jane Austen that you recommend?


A. Marie February 12, 2019 at 11:47 am

The best biography, from the NCA point of view, may be Claire Tomalin’s Jane Austen: A Life. For the letters, I see from a quick check on Amazon that there’s an Oxford World Classic’s paperback called Selected Letters. (Be forewarned that a lot of family members had the same first names–there were multiple Edwards, Marys, and Fannys. But I think Oxford will give you enough guidance to get you through.)


Jill A February 12, 2019 at 5:06 am

I also use the pantry principle although now my pantry is much emptier than it used to be.

1. I used some saved coke reward codes to get a free movie ticket, popcorn and soda coupon for the next time I go to the movies. For some reason my email didn’t come so I’ve contacted them three separate times. Hopefully that problem will be fixed.
2. I applied to a class action lawsuit which is predicted to give each person $155 check for selling our personal info.
3. I cleaned out some old textbooks of my husbands and saved a few that were about architecture for a friends daughter who is an interior architect. She was happy to receive them. I also found a book about doing plumbing projects at home which may come in handy.
4. I received a $10 rebate check in the mail. It was for a wine that I had purchased. It was supposed to be $3 so I’m a little confused.
5. Returned two bags full of bottles and cans for deposit so my few groceries only cost me $4. I also sold a few odds and ends on facebook and ebay and reused packaging to ship.

Frugal Fail – I spent too much on food over the weekend. Family and friends volunteered at Habitat for Humanity to honor my husbands memory. Since I didn’t know what we’d be doing for the day (if we’d have a heated space or enough room for everyone to sit) we ended up going for lunch instead of bringing food and we also went out for dinner that night. Next year I’ll plan better and bring lunch for everyone. We spent so much time trying to decide where to go that we wasted half our lunch time and came back late.


Mrs. Picky Pincher February 12, 2019 at 5:17 am

Yaaas to power hours!!! We’ve been doing the Sunday Power Hour for the last few months and it’s awesome. For one hour every Sunday, hubs and I tackle cleaning tasks and chores around the house.

I love the idea of applying the power hour to other tasks, too! Another hack for the power hour: pre-plan what you’ll do with a checklist, and if your thoughts drift to other tasks during your power hour, just write them down and address them after the power hour.


Mary in VA February 12, 2019 at 7:22 am

I recently re-watched the movie Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, and Alan Rickman (love him!). Also, our local PBS station is currently showing the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice the series. I never saw it the first time around, but am really enjoying it now. Colin Firth and those long, heartfelt gazes!


Bee February 12, 2019 at 11:26 am

I love this version of Pride & Prejudice. I watch from time to time just because it is so beautifully done.


Mand01 February 12, 2019 at 4:27 pm

It’s the definitive version, I think. My husband and I love it and rewatch it regularly. If our kids are driving us crazy we often say a la Mrs Bennett “Have a care for our poor nerves!!!”


Lindsey February 12, 2019 at 1:12 pm

I was once fortunate enough to have front row seats to a London play starring Alan Rickman. That voice, that face…he made me swoon.


A. Marie February 12, 2019 at 4:17 pm

Very restrained of you just to swoon, Lindsey. Me, I’d have been throwing my hotel room key/card at him. RIP Alan Rickman…not only the best Colonel Brandon ever, but the best Sheriff of Nottingham ever. (He picked up the 1980s version of Robin Hood with Kevin Costner and ran with it.)

And my commiserations on your frugal fail as described above. A ruined dinner *and* a ruined shirt…sigh.


mary in va February 13, 2019 at 9:47 am

Not to mention a wonderful Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movies. I’m right there with you, A.Marie, throwing my hotel key at him!


Susie's Daughter February 14, 2019 at 6:48 am

I recently bought our library a copy of the DVD of “Sense and Sensibility” since I wanted to watch it so badly, but couldn’t justify owning it myself.
This whole thread makes me just sigh… Alan Rickman – “Love Actually” is my other favorite of his.
Think of the frugal movie marathons we would all have if we got together!

Jill A February 13, 2019 at 9:15 am

I’ve put this on my list of movies I want to watch.


ouvickie February 12, 2019 at 7:31 am

Kale! That’s pretty hilarious. Well at least it’s healthy!

1) Layoffs in my Department, last week, had me stressed. So, when my co-worker suggested a comfort food lunch, I happily obliged. Thankfully it was at Cracker Barrel, which I had $6 left on a GC. Lunch cost $2 w/tip.
2) I found a wonderful pair of brown leather Ortha-heel mules at the Thrift store for $4.99. They are so comfortable and will probably last for years.
3) I was able to trade back 9 cans of ID special diet dog food, at the Vets office, for an 8 lb. bag of the dry ID dog food. I ended up owing a $2. That worked out perfect. I have two small, older chihuahuas and that bag will likely last 2 months.
4) I cooked 2 leg quarters of chicken, doused in Peppercorn Ranch Dressing, in the crockpot on Sunday. Fried up some yellow squash with onions, warmed up some mixed veggies and tossed a salad for a yummy meal that produced leftovers. Weekend meals are how we get through Monday & Tuesday without me cooking on hubby’s days off.
5) I finally found a smaller, cute purse with lots of zippered pockets on the front, including one that fits my license and cards. Since it was in with the women’s clutches & wallets, the cashier at GW only charged me $2.60.


Christine February 12, 2019 at 11:52 am

1. I put up my Valentines decorations which consist of a Cupid XOXO door hanging and two teddy bears dressed in red with hearts and roses. The teddy bears were given to me by a friend who was downsizing and the door hanging I purchased years ago and use every year.
2. I did buy homemade Valentine candy for my four grandchildren at my friend’s independent bookstore which also carries gifts and treats. The prices were reasonable and I want to help keep my good friend in business.
3. While hiking with DH on a trail yesterday, I found a deposit can. I carry a bag in my pocket while walking and hiking for this purpose.
4. I made a cake from scratch for my grandson’s birthday and had his family over for a turkey dinner to celebrate. The 69 cent a pound turkey and the scratch cake made for an enjoyable, frugal party for all.
5. Doing jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles and reading library books for entertainment. I do not miss cable tv at all.


tracy February 12, 2019 at 2:11 pm

1. Had to do a big presentation at work today. Wearing a beautiful German black wool hand-tailored dress that I found at Goodwill a year or two ago for $8. Googled it and brand sells for $400-500.
2. I spilled a latte on another of my Goodwill finds, a lovely black and white wool harlequin-checked skirt. Was frustrated that the dry cleaning was going to be more than I paid for the skirt so used a toothbrush and dish soap on it, then blotted with clean water and a towel and it came out great!
3. Made a big pot of Tuscan bean soup on Saturday and used up lots of dodgy veggies and some frozen sausage and kale. Healthy tasty and cheap.
4. Bought Valentine cards 2/$1 at Dollar Store, now just need to get in the mail…
5. Had a lovely weekend at home after our (frugal) trip to Palm Desert. Got home late Friday night, bought lots of groceries Saturday a.m. shopping sales and using coupons, otherwise spent no money. Saturday I also cleaned own house, did own laundry, cooked own food, read library books and watched shows on Amazon Prime. Sunday I went to a 12 step meeting (put $2 in basket), went to yoga (already paid for with health club membership), went for walk in beautiful forested park with hubs and dog, made brownies, took several bags of clothes & other items to Goodwill drop-off site and cooked a yummy dinner. No money spent (except for aforesaid $2) and it was a great day. Last two nights we’ve eaten leftovers and last two days I’ve brought leftovers for lunch. Living the dream!


Jill A February 13, 2019 at 9:19 am

Sounds like you are an expert thrifter. Our Goodwill’s are a little sad and overpriced.


Connie C. February 13, 2019 at 11:08 am

Jill, ours too. Makes me jealous reading all these great deals folks get in their areas!


janine February 12, 2019 at 6:34 pm

1, Record breaking amounts of snow and ice. Reminds us of bygone winters – beautiful but dangerous. Advised to stay in if possible = not much spending.
2. When I did go out found 1c – no more coin machines at grocery store and haven’t seen a lot of loose change hanging about. Did son’s laundry and found a few coins which I consider finders keepers. (Detergent, effort and electricity probably made me a net loser in this instance)
3. Stayed home for dinner tonight – meatloaf, roast vegetables, and a yummy chocolate pie gifted to us . Leftovers packed for DH bag lunch tomorrow.
4. Paid bills in full and on time.
5. Found moth eaten old thick wool sweater in stash – very comfortable these days!
Extra: Loved these comments – Jane Austen and Amy D always favorites.


Gina in Ky February 13, 2019 at 12:34 pm

Chocolate pie sounds delicious!


Gina in KY February 13, 2019 at 12:30 pm

Currently waiting a very full room of people needing to see a surgeon. I received news today a biopsy due to two abnormal mammograms came back positive for carcinoma. It’s not going to be cheap, but it’s probably more frugal that I was meticulous about my screenings (mother and grandmother both had it as well).

1. Been using up the “little bit” of foods left in the package (eg a handful of trail mix went into an apple crisp, a little bit of pineapple became a delicious fried rice, etc.)
2. Parked in a parking lot to hear my news abs thought about getting a latte and a new book in the shopping center. I decided against it because I’m determined to be debt free by 50.
3. Reading lots of gardening books from the library. I highly recommend “Veggie Garden Remix”. I also recommend the Podcast where I learned about this book “the urban farm”.
4. Really hitting the purging/decluttering. I sadly shredded a forest of Trees (old paperwork); however I found my son’s SS Csrd he needs fir his job.
5. Cooked a bag of barley and lentil mix I bought ages ago using the rice cooker. It’s bland but it looks like veggie crumbles. I used some vegan “beef” broth, smoke flavoring and other seasons and made my own to use in future dishes.


Gina in Ky February 13, 2019 at 12:32 pm

Sorry about typos. Using iPhone.


KJD509 February 13, 2019 at 1:33 pm

Gina, how scary! Good for you for being careful in your screenings. Best of luck with the surgery – may it be easy to schedule, quick to recover from, and little out-of-pocket cost.


Gina in KY February 14, 2019 at 6:28 am

Thank you! <3


Susie's Daughter February 14, 2019 at 6:53 am

Gina – Sending you positive vibes! We had a family member go through something similar in late Jan. She is feeling well now and I am hoping the same brief recovery for you.


Christine February 14, 2019 at 3:02 pm

My very best wishes sent your way for a successful surgery and speedy recovery. Through your posts I seem to sense a fighting spirit…I know that will serve you well as you face this health challenge. Hugs.


Nalani February 13, 2019 at 3:59 pm

1. Submitted a new prescription and got a $25 gift card at my grocery store. Immediately used the gift card to buy groceries.
2. Have been extremely busy at work so the office has been buying us dinners. I have eaten every meal for the last two weeks at my desk.
3. My coworkers and I have been trying to find humor in all the crappy stuff (and people) we have to deal with. Supportive coworkers and bosses are free 
4. I have been looking for a rain jacket for ages in the thrift stores and haven’t been able to find anything in decent condition or in my size. NorthFace was having a sale so I took advantage of that to buy a rain jacket. While I would have preferred used, the price was pretty good and I am happy to finally have a rain jacket.
5. Been using all the gift cards my husband got for Christmas for Starbucks (he hates coffee) and have been working Starbucks’ rewards programs/games to rack up as many bonus stars and free drinks as possible. I use rewards to treat my parents to Starbucks when we hang out.


Jenzer February 13, 2019 at 4:57 pm

Experimented with adding minced pickled ginger (left over from our last sushi splurge) to my super-simple coleslaw recipe (cabbage plus a dressing of oil + vinegar + sugar + salt). Deliciousness resulted. Will make again.

Finished a library book just in time to avoid a late fee. I’d exhausted my renewals.

Gave DD some household items to list on eBay. We split the net proceeds.

Drinking garlic tea twice a day for the last week, in hopes of warding off the acute respiratory crud that befell DD & DH. So far I haven’t gotten sick myself. *crosses fingers*

Pork butt and whole chickens were on sale last week. I made pulled pork and packed up four containers of it for the freezer. The chickens I brined overnight and roasted together in our large, hand-me-down roasting pan. We’ve been eating lunches and dinners from the chicken all week.


Tonya Z Jenkins February 21, 2019 at 3:20 pm

I too, use the pantry principle! It’s a smart way to shop and meal plan. And grammar nerds, help us out with this one- it’s principle, not principal, correct?


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