Five Frugal Things

by Katy on August 14, 2023 · 39 comments

My husband and I are still visiting my sister in New York, although we’re quarantining at home instead of engaging in anything that New York has to offer. However, we did have a couple of Covid-free days before our self-imposed lockdown began.

  1. We went to dinner on our actual 30th anniversary, but chose an Italian restaurant that was walking distance from my sister’s house and it was perfect. The portions were comically large and I had enough leftover linguine with clam sauce for another entire meal.

  2. My sister got us into The American Museum of Natural History for free using her employee pass. We then got pizza slices at Famous Original Ray’s Pizza close to the museum and lastly grabbed a couple things from Zabar’s.

    I wore my mask both at the museum and at Zabar’s and we didn’t sit close to anyone at Ray’s. Not because I had any inkling that I was Covid positive, but because it’s what I’ve been doing since the beginning of the pandemic. I’m guessing this practice is why it’s taken me until now to come down with my very first case.

  3. We then drove our rental car out of the museum parking lot, (only $12 for employees!) to Jackson Heights, Queens to meet up with our friend Greta for dinner. She chose the Jackson Diner for an Indian food, which was unsurprisingly the best Indian food I’ve ever had the privilege to eat. Lots of leftovers, which were even better the next day!

    Afterwards we hung out in her backyard courtyard and then up to her apartment for a thorough catch up session before heading back to my sister’s house.

  4. My sister had a backlog of free unopened Covid-19 tests for when my husband said “My throat is kind of sore, maybe I should take Covid test just to be careful” and the 15 seconds later when the brightest bold red line showed up on his test. Ironically, I’m the sickest but my line was faint and took the full fifteen minutes to appear.

  5. I didn’t test positive for a Lear Jet.

I’m still feeling cruddy, with an extreme sore throat and generalized lack of energy and I’m missing my comfort items something special. You know . . . like my own bed, my perfectly positioned bedside table, the coffee table that’s big enough to play solitaire without having to be cleared of all other stuff. Essentially, my home.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Valee August 14, 2023 at 8:26 am

I’m glad to get your update, Katy. Have been thinking of you and keeping you in my prayers. Glad you got to do at least a couple fun things before your self-imposed lockdowns. I hope your extreme sore throat and extreme fatigue improves.


Katy August 14, 2023 at 8:43 am

Aww, thanks so sweet. Thank you!


Jann in Maine August 14, 2023 at 8:35 am

Thanks for the unfortunate update. I got Covid for my birthday— birthday lunch then 3 days later bingo. Hope you recuperate quickly. And yes to wanting to be in your own home. Bummer.
Feel better!


Katy August 14, 2023 at 8:42 am

Sorry belated happy birthday.


Christine August 14, 2023 at 8:43 am

I remember my grandmother telling me a story of when she went to visit her sister in California via Greyhound bus from Massachusetts and contracted a severe case of strep throat once she arrived. She went to her sister’s doctor and received a shot of penicillin but still felt terrible. She wanted to be at home so badly she told me that she wished for a magic carpet to get her there. Instead, Greyhound had to fill in for the long ride back to Massachusetts. I sincerely hope you’re feeling much better soon.
1. I took a walk for exercise and my neighbor surprised me with two summer squashes and two cucumbers when I passed her house.
2. The bill for our burst pipe finally arrived and although it wasn’t fun to see that we owed $622.00 for the repair and parts, I was so grateful we had it covered thanks to our emergency account.
3. Two no spend days with more on the horizon due to DH driving our one car out of state to attend his family member’s funeral. He should be home by next weekend. In the meantime, I’ve been reading library books and catching up on tasks around the house that need doing. I do have lots of family living in the area in case of an emergency.
4. I watched a great 4-part series on HBO Max (borrowed from stepson) The Weight of the Nation. Worth the watch. It addressed everything you may want to know about the obesity epidemic here in the US which they believe started in earnestness in the 1980s. Fascinating and informative. I’ll mention one thing: the number one culprit is sugared drinks, including fruit juice.
5. Completed reading three more library books to return for three more raffle tickets at the library.


Jan August 15, 2023 at 8:00 am

Thanks for the HBO recommendation! Sounds interesting!


Sandra August 14, 2023 at 9:02 am

I really feel for you. I still remember long before anyone had ever heard of Covid my husband and I having flu like symptoms on a Hawaiian vacation. Luckily there were no instant tests back then so as soon as we felt better we began venturing out of our hotel room.

I was talking Covid with a friend recently and he said his symptoms only lasted a couple of days, but he continued to test positive for several days.

All I really know is that it is miserable to be sick on your vacation and I agree, where you really want to be when you are sick is HOME.

A Couple of Frugal Things:
My daughter recently bought a new house. I recently stopped by a big box nursery where they were marking down the last of their summer stock. I found nice pots of red geraniums, sweet potato vine, and Dusty Miller and made up
two planters for her patio. Each planter including container and saucer ran just over ten dollars. I also found a large color bowl of Calibrachoa for seven dollars, so for under thirty dollars she had lots of nice color for her patio.

Still speaking of flowers, my daughter was given a large bouquet for her work anniversary. When she brought it home that night several of the stems were wilted. We began pulling them out of the arrangement and the ends were dry. It was obvious that they had drunk most of the water. We trimmed the stems and put them in another container of fresh water. The next day they had all recovered. I proceeded to take the large bouquet apart because the stems were drying out again. From that one bouquet I was able to make three medium and one large arrangement. Those bouquets were used around the house when she was hosting a get together the following day.


Katy August 14, 2023 at 9:17 am

My husband says he’s feeling totally fine today, but he still has a faint line on his covid test.


Heidi Louise August 14, 2023 at 9:12 am

Oh, Boo on Covid. Just Boo. Sending you comforting thoughts.

I went through our (free from government) tests a month or so ago and found that some of the extended expiration dates had been extended a second time. I wrote the revised new ones on the packages. I found new dates online through google search.

Someone, perhaps on this site, mentioned that as long as the “test” line appears, the test is still valid, even if the date on the box has passed. I don’t know if that is true, but agree it seems logical.


Katy August 14, 2023 at 9:15 am

That does sound logical.


Laura August 14, 2023 at 9:21 am

Thank you for isolating. We had a coworker come in obviously sick last week and now 4 people are out, one with a confirmed case of COVID. Hope you feel better soon.


Katy August 14, 2023 at 10:37 am

That’s super messed up. Either as a work culture that doesn’t value people taking sick days and/or an employee who values “the grind” more than people’s health.


A. Marie August 14, 2023 at 9:50 am

As I recall one of the Sons of Knute saying on a Lake Wobegon episode, “Home’s the best place when you’re not feeling well.” And I’m glad you got to do a few things in NYC before the plague struck, Zabar’s in particular. I think I mentioned this as a Frugal Thing back in March after I visited NYC, but I’ll say it again: I enjoyed my visit to Zabar’s and found it a fine place to buy consumable souvenirs for myself and others.


Carla August 14, 2023 at 9:55 am

argh! I feel for you, getting sick while on vacation, even if visiting family is just… sucky. Been there, did not like it, give it zero stars. I thank you for being mindful of symptoms, testing, isolating and preventing other cases. Heart emoji. I hope you recover smoothly and are able to enjoy some fun time in your vacation.


Kathy August 14, 2023 at 10:05 am

Boo on being sick. I flew from so cal to Oklahoma last January sick. I even missed a connection and had to stay in a hotel in Denver overnight. All I wanted was my own bed and my favorite pjs

On the frugal side:
Planning a garage sale on Saturday as my fund my fun fund is anemic
I’m continuing to pack a to go drink and snack when I leave the house
Pharmacy can’t get one of meds as it is on back order so doctor gave me a 6 week sample.
Switched dogs from Purina pro plan $102 for 40 lbs to Kirkland $39 for 35 lbs
Driving less as I’m not working and it’s too hot to go anywhere


Ashley Bananas August 14, 2023 at 10:33 am

Oh Katie, I’m sorry you and the husband got Covid. I hope you’re somehow able to make the best of the vacation despite having caught it.

Frugal things for me?? My son started school again, everything has been crazy. Time has been thrown out the window


K D August 14, 2023 at 11:19 am

Katy, I am sorry you are sick. When DH had Covid it was a “relief” in a weird way when I came down with it a couple days later since then we did not have to stay apart and I did not have to worry about staying staying away from him. I hope you feel better soon.

1. We have been eating meals at home with an emphasis on eating down the freezer and refrigerator as well as the pantry. I made a list of expiration dates of items that contain meat so we use them before those dates.

2. We helped some young neighbors with a few household chores. We just had to bring ourselves and a few tools. We brought home a small desk that we will fix and give away. A couple of the legs have cracks in them but glue and clamps will take care of that. It’s about keeping items out of the landfill.

3. We had our windows replaced (not frugal) and after the fact discovered a bit of damage done. We were able to refasten the kitchen sink to the counter and then seal it. We could have called the company but this way the work was done in a timely fashion and we know it was done properly.

4. I cut a large watermelon and shared it with a neighbor. It is too much for us to eat but so inexpensive it is worth buying and sharing.

5. DH will travel to San Francisco for a couple of work related events. I will stay at home because it is not worth it to me to join him. The airfare was high for a few days in a city by myself. I’d rather spend the money on other experiences. I was in SF several times in the 1980s and 90s.


Kathy August 14, 2023 at 1:42 pm

You’d be very surprised with the conditions in San Francisco, Homeless on the streets, drug paraphernalia and feces everywhere
Plus many retailers have pulled out


Lindsey G. August 14, 2023 at 2:14 pm

Kathy – you may also be surprised by the conditions of SF if downtown has been your only recent experience. I live 45 minutes north of the city and frequently visit, but I stay in the Presidio, Golden Gate Park, and in general the West side of the SF peninsula. Though sometimes we see family in Potrero Hill and Bernal Heights neighborhoods. Our experiences continue to be positive and solidify that San Francisco is a beautiful city with many wonderful people, restaurants, arts and culture experiences, and unparalleled natural beauty.


Ruby August 14, 2023 at 11:30 am

Katy, I am so glad you and your family got to do a few fun things before getting sick, and hope you soon feel well. One of the most miserable times I remember was being seven and coming down with tonsilitis on vacation. I just lay in a strange bed, burning up with fever, and silently wept for home. It was awful.

For frugal things, I spent only $45 to refinish all the wood on our front porch and $24 to repair the brick. The labor was free: all me and my husband and son. Sorted out a bunch of shoes, threw away two pairs that were worn out and took six to Goodwill. Restocked the pantry with canned tomatoes at Ollie’s Outlet. Baked a loaf of bread, processed peppers and cherries for the freezer, and had several no spend days.


MB in MN August 14, 2023 at 12:44 pm

Sending best wishes for a speedy, uneventful recovery.

1. Repurposed lip balm that I didn’t care for and am using it as a cuticle cream.

2. Received an area rug, Patagonia jacket, pajamas, iron, food and oodles of travel-sized lotions and potions from a friend whose house I’m helping to declutter. I decanted all of the little lotion, shampoo and conditioner bottles into pump bottles that I had saved. These should last for a very long time.

3. Met friends for coffee and, since I don’t drink coffee, I filled my reusable travel mug with water before leaving home.

4. Received a delicious zucchini tomato tart from a friend who is an amazing cook and baker.

5. Received a coupon in the mail for a free rotisserie chicken from a local grocery store. Since we’re vegetarians, we gave it to our niece.


Ava August 14, 2023 at 1:09 pm

Poor Katy and Mr Katy. I feel so bad for you that the sickness hit you at what should have been a celebration. I hope you get to do a make up trip soon. We just went out of state to visit family and all frugality was left behind. Now that we are back, I will do my best to get back on track.


Bee August 14, 2023 at 1:35 pm

Happy anniversary! I’m sorry you both are not well. May your Covid be short-lived and mild.


Mand01 August 14, 2023 at 3:51 pm

Sorry to hear you are so unwell. I am still the only Novid in my whole family and friend group – no idea how or why, except up-to-date vaccine boosters. But so has the rest of the team. Just dumb luck, I guess.
1. Working from home, cooking at home, hardly driving, means hardly spending.
2. Picking veggies from the garden and planting seeds for Spring and Summer.
3. Eggs still from our chickens – no Winter break, which while good for us makes me wonder how cold it really was this season.
4. Our gate, which is very old, broke last week. I was considering replacing it, but my husband repaired it and it is as good as new. $15 worth of supplies.


Jill August 14, 2023 at 3:54 pm

It’s so hard to be sick and even harder to be sick away from home. I hope that you both start feeling better soon. And Happy Anniversary!


rose August 14, 2023 at 6:20 pm

Had hoped you were skipping this event! Still hoping your sister IS well and IS skipping the crud. Am glad you are with family and hope you got the right drugs to reduce the impact and that you are resting more than you ever thought would be possible or necessary…… Take it REALLY slowly as you recover. Anecdotally, it has sounded to me like ANY push or rush to do normal activiity increases the odds of relapse and/or longer covid. AND. I swear even without long covid it takes 3-6 months to really clear your system and any brain fogginess you may have. Some people have none from the start but….
Keep masking for your sake and ours. THANK YOU for writing!


Cheryl August 14, 2023 at 7:23 pm

So glad you are both young and healthy and should kick covid to the curb relatively quickly.
You will never forget your 30th Anniversary, that’s for sure.
Like Dorothy said in The Wizard of Ox, “there’s no place like home.”
Feel better soon.


Coral Clarke August 15, 2023 at 12:04 am

75, have had all vaccines, all boosters and flu shots, was fine until late 2021! In all probability caught it on the plane on the way back to Australia from my grandsons wedding in India, although I wore my mask( no fun on a long plane flight! )
At my age I qualified for anti virals, and my Covid experience was very low key. 8 months later, still need to amp up sweet/ savoury food, taste buds minimally functional, but other than that I’m fine. Hope yours is soon just an annoying memory!


Mary August 15, 2023 at 4:06 pm

I am glad you got to celebrate a bit before you got sidelined. I hope you recover quickly.
Frugal things recently include. Eating at our favorite good value local Mexican place. I brought my leftovers home and it was enough lunch the next day for both of us.
Shopped at three grocery stores. Picking up the deals.
We have been eating leftovers and what I call weird food from the pantry.
Took our adult daughter to Goodwill when she mentioned she only had a couple of summer dress shirts. Found her a couple to wear to interviews.
Super glued my tennis shoes and have gone for my morning walk in them twice.


Vickey August 16, 2023 at 6:44 am

Oh, Katy, I’m so sorry! It stinks that so many in the world aren’t taking the precautions necessary to prevent spreading whatever they’re carrying. Thank you for bucking that trend. I hope you both recovery quickly and fully.

DH and I are also Novids, but we sure do hear about it w/our perpetual masking. I laughed out loud last week when some tall old white guy in the grocery store glared at me in my mask – laughed because he was so focused on his disdain for me that he didn’t see the person in drag – neon orange. with *fringe* – slightly behind me, who would surely also have incurred his wrath (judging by tall old white guy’s t-shirt.) I was delighted to be a decoy distracting his attention. 8^D)

1. DH used the “baking soda + super-glue = plastic” fix to repair a lamp stand part. So happy to have this illuminated magnifier back in service! My eyes somehow did NOT get any younger during the (koff) 2 years it languished in his workshop awaiting its turn.
2. I did loads of food prep over the weekend to make low-cost, healthy food choices that much easier during the work week.
3. Pinned my too-big-now pants at the waistband and focused on how all that natural-fiber fabric flowing around my lower half is cooling in the summer heat. I’m pretending I look graceful. 🙂
4. Did the usual round of efficiently-laid-out errands, picking up various essentials where they were best priced.
5. Worked several hours at side-gig. Saving for retirement HARD.


Kristen | The Frugal Girl August 16, 2023 at 8:58 am

I hope you guys are feeling better soon, Katy!! What rotten timing for a case of Covid.


Mati August 21, 2023 at 5:16 am

Oh, the worst! I’m so sorry. Just echoing those who cautioned to take it easy and avoid exertion long after you feel well. It’s better to rest longer than you think you need to and move slowly, gently and often than to have even a moment of pushing yourself – this virus is sneaky and can be vicious. We had it pre-vaccine and were both seriously ill, with 16 months of multisystem long Covid for me and permanent heart and lung damage for him. And get some sunshine when you can – the free Vitamin D seems to help.

1) I’m up early prepping everything that needs to be cooked over a burner or in the oven before the heat wave clamps down and makes everything miserable. For the rest of the week, it’ll be Instant Pot and lots of salads and cold dinners. In the past, we would have grilled out, but not with Covid lungs and dysautonomia.

2) I’ve been occupying myself researching the history of the house we grew up in, using the family Ancestry account. It was built by a Freedmen’s Bureau educator and justice activist, then sold to the first Black family to own land in the area. Unearthing their experiences as the parents, born into enslaved status, navigated landowners who refused to sell to them and racial covenants signed by their neighbors to buld a good life and send several of their children to college has been sobering, fascinating – and free.

3) Fortunately, I love the zucchini that keeps showing up on the porch, especially slow cooked into a silky, almost caramelized mush that is wonderful by itself or with pasta or eggs. I’m popping cherry tomatoes like jellybeans and using the rest in sheet-pan tomato sauce with whatever cheese I can dig out of the fridge.

4) The kid has found another job that is flexible enough for school, will pay the bills and will set them up for a phlebotomy license, which means guaranteed work at decent pay until graduation.

5) We got a $1500 catchup gas bill. It doesn’t make sense – our usage didn’t change and increased gas prices don’t account for the difference. Also, it’s for more than a year of estimated bills, and they are required to read the meter every 12 months, which didn’t happen and no user read was requested. I filed a complaint with the state utility board and we’ll see.


Sandra August 21, 2023 at 2:17 pm

Well, it happened to me, too! After sailing along the last few years thinking that my vaccinations were keeping me safe……I caught Covid. I was at a club meeting on Tuesday. The next day the head of our club sent out an email that she had received an email that another member had come down with Covid the next day. Since then I have heard that four others (including myself) have all contracted it, too. Not much of a silver lining, but at least I’m at home in my own bed.

Katy, I trust you and your husband are beginning to feel better. Is there still a few days of your vacation left?


Mati August 27, 2023 at 2:45 am

The vaccine makes a massive difference in severity, so it’s worth it even though we’ll still feel ill. It’s good to know you have some resistance to the older strains! I’m concerned about this NY strain and wondering whether to wait on the next booster.


Selena August 23, 2023 at 6:30 pm

So true Christine…they refuse to accept the biologists and medical professionals unless it is some quack – Ivermectin anyone? As in my Dad told me back in the 1950s (yes, we are a family of farmers) that ALL Ivermectin packages were labeled “not for human consumption”. Perhaps a shot or two of bleach anyone?
Bad enough I have family members who won’t get the vaccine (because they don’t think THEY are at risk not that the vaccine is – never mind all the family members who have underlying health issues. But to those who find a conspiracy/fallacy at every opportunity, may it be Darwin award time. ‘Nuf said.


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