Five Tiny Frugal Things

by Katy on July 3, 2024 · 31 comments

  1. My friend Summer and I took bags o’random stuff to sell to a local consignment shop. My stuff was 99% garage sale freebies, so any money I get is a sweet bonus. I’ll find out later today how much they bought, so I’ll update this blog post this evening.

  2. Kristen from The Frugal Girl tagged my Instagram account asking if I also combine old and new soap together.

    This was my answer. Because, c’mon . . . what am I, a Rockefeller?

  3. My friend Lise and I went for a walk after dinner last night. I brought home three Oui yogurt jars, a half dozen or so books for my little free library and an American Bungalow magazine from 1996. It’s not possible for a magazine about hundred-year-old houses to become outdated, so the publication date doesn’t matter. I live in a 1914 craftsman bungalow, so this magazine is fun to flip through for ideas and inspiration.

    I’ve seen people do simple cute macrame with Oui jars for plant propagation, so I thought I’d give it a try. Now to source some free twine!

  4. • Someone put a copy of Rene Denfeld’s Sleeping Giants in my little free library, which was fortuitous as I was already on hold for her book through the library!
    • My husband is out of town to deal with his father’s estate, so I cooked a small amount of pinto beans in the Instant Pot for a #cheapaf taco-ish dinner.
    • I saw an Instagram reel that recommended adding a cutting of pothos to encourage faster root growth when propagating plants. (Apparently they high have a high concentration of  rooting hormone?) I figured I had nothing to lose, so I added a sprig of pothos to all my jars of propagating plants.

  5. No Cybertrucks, no Lear Jets, no aesthetic plastic surgery.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Nicola July 3, 2024 at 2:55 pm

I have made twine from fabric scraps. It can be slow going, but it’s one of those tasks you can do sat in the garden, or watching tv. I know about using a piece of willow to encourage rooting but I with add the pothos to my list of things to use. Fabric scrap twine tutorial : and plant hanger :


Karen July 3, 2024 at 3:19 pm

1. I showed one of my sons, who dislikes e-books, how to request ILL books at our library. I also picked up my ILL books.

2. Batched the library run with grocery shopping.

3. Stuck. To. My. List at the grocery store, for the most part.

4. After learning I need to stick to a low-sodium diet, I dabbled with a no-salt refrigerator pickle recipe. It turned out quite nice! Spicy. There are “low sodium” pickles, but they either are a) not really low sodium, or b) hideously expensive. Aside from a jar of mustard seed, I had everything else on hand.

5. My favorite unsalted tortilla chips were B1G1 free. I cleaned them out and since the same brand had regular, I got those for the lucky family members who do not have to watch their sodium.

Didn’t get a fancy iced Starbucks drink at the grocery store. I see so many people juggling those while shopping!


Kara July 3, 2024 at 4:11 pm

Still on baby watch. It is over 110 degrees every day this week. Good thing our son has solar on his house. He got on the roof and washed the panels this morning.
1. My husband and I walked laps inside Target while we had a short break from toddler duty.
2. Nothing frugal financially about ordering takeout, which I did today, but it does go towards saving my health and sanity during a super stressful time. Worth it to me. I can eat beans and rice for the rest of the year if needed, as long as I can keep on with this situation right now.
3. I came to my son’s unexpectedly and am wearing a rotation of the 3 pairs of shorts and 6 t shirts that I threw in a bag on my way out the door. It makes life simple.
4. Eating tomatoes and zucchini out of my daughter-in-law’s garden. Small frugal win! I send the cherry tomatoes to her at the hospital.
5. Loving the free New York Times games, especially Connections and Strands. I’ve set our son onto them and we enjoy comparing how we’ve each done on them whenever we end up at home at the same time.


Lindsey July 3, 2024 at 4:55 pm

Sounds to me like saving your sanity is a wonderful reason for takeout ordering. You save other places to splurge when you want/have to, so I say order away.


Liz B. July 4, 2024 at 5:48 am

Kara, I, too, love the NYT games. I have the Games subscription, which is probably not frugal, but same…..I would happily eat rice and beans if need be to subscribe. It brings me much joy on a daily basis.


A. Marie July 4, 2024 at 8:00 am

Liz B., I too am a diehard fan of NYT Games (especially Tiles and Spelling Bee). But I discovered last year (after realizing in horror what DH’s NYT subscription had been costing, and cancelling it) that they will give you an intro subscription for $50/year, including Games and Cooking (I am also addicted to cooking). The intro rate was about to run out last week, so I started to cancel my subscription–only to have them offer me the intro rate for another year. So it seems possible to keep this rolling on for a while.


Beth July 4, 2024 at 2:14 pm

I’ve been too cheap to bite the bullet on a NYT Games subscription, but I have found “off brand” versions of some of them for free online.
Spelling Bee:

That link has other games at the bottom of the page, and I’ve enjoyed Squares, Combinations, and Phrazle. For what it’s worth….


Bee July 3, 2024 at 4:42 pm

I do that with my soap too. It must be a frugal thing!
1. I sold a piece of vintage Franciscan Dessert Rose that was given to me in a box of cast-offs for $35 on eBay. I accepted an offer that was 20% off the asking price but I was happy that it found a good home. I reused a box and other packing materials that were also given to me to ship the piece.

2. I sold a pair of cache pots on a local Facebook site.

3. DH and I used the Libby App to listened to one of Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache mysteries on our recent trip to care for our daughter. I also just received my newest issue of English Home magazine. This was delivered digitally via Libby also. I’m not sure how I would survive without my library. They are major part of my rich but frugal life.

4. We packed road snacks and brought our refillable water bottles to limit our stops while on the road. Actually, there are very few places to stop between our home in Florida and my daughter’s home in North Carolina. I-95 through South Carolina is a nightmare especially on weekends during the summer, so we stay off the interstate. As we take the backroads through small southern towns, we occasionally stop at the Historical Markers along the way. Sometimes we use our phones to learn about these tiny towns that few have heard of and marvel at the beautiful old houses and churches. It takes slightly longer, but we aren’t in horrific traffic. Besides learning something new is free!

5. I drank crappy free coffee at the hotel! (Sounds familiar, huh?)
Wishing everyone peace, good health and prosperity.


Mary Ann July 3, 2024 at 5:43 pm

I have a ton of Franciscan Apple China that was given to me by my grandma. I will get more when my mom passes. it is funny how the apple has fallen out of favor and the desert rose has taken its place. I use mine for everyday because life is too short and i never entertain.

The question is when do I give up the unused serving dishes?


Jill A July 3, 2024 at 5:17 pm

I also meld my soaps together. I learned that from the Tightwad Gazette.
1. I found a dime on the floor in my car. I think it’s the same one I found in my washer.
2. I bought Disney themed 4 packs of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle & Tomato soup on clearance for .49 & 1.24 so less than $2 for eight cans of soup.


Jill A July 3, 2024 at 5:38 pm

3. I saved water from heating up my shower to flush the toilet.
4. I’m eating up items in the fridge that will spoil while I’m out of town. I’ve had some odd meals…chili and fish fillets.
5. No extravagant purchases. Still driving my 14 year old car with 225,000 miles on it.


MB in MN July 3, 2024 at 6:36 pm

I’ve been known to smush my soaps together, although I mostly use my drawstring soap saver bag to hold all the tiny scraps for use as a loofah scrubber.


Lindsey July 3, 2024 at 6:37 pm

Another person here who glues old soap chips to the new bar!
1. A grocery store I usually don’t go to had butter on sale for $2.50/lb. On the way to someplace else, I stopped and got the max. This is basically half the price of usual. Butter freezes well and Christmas cookie season will be here soon.
2. Did a shift at the food bank today, finishing as the place was closing down for the next four days. At the last minute, a warehouse store dropped off 4 pound Asian dinners, usually retailing for $24; sauté and serve, with lots of chicken and vegetables. Tomorrow is the last day they can sell them, but they are closed tomorrow for the 4th. They are not packaged in a way that they could be frozen, and all church and individual food box pickups were long gone. I brought one home for us and there is enough to last two days easily. Frankly, it makes me feel odd to bring stuff home from the foodbank but there is no point in leaving it behind to just go bad.
3. Cut husband’s hair.
4. Husband cut my hair.
5. How to salvage old but not moldy bread. Turn it into Texas toast and then the toast into croutons that you float on some homemade tomato soup. We are having fierce winds, rain and some hail today, so it was a perfect day for a soup brunch.

Thanking my past self for toughing it out and putting in a garden even when I felt weak and miserable. Today we ate tomatoes (in soup), scallions (in soup) and zucchini (made into garlic chips). Fresh and much cheaper than buying all this produce.


Liz B. July 4, 2024 at 5:57 am

Lindsey, good job taking that last-minute Asian dinner home. It sounds like it would have been thrown away, given the circumstances, though I understand why it felt weird to take food home from the food bank. Better it was consumed than thrown away!


A. Marie July 4, 2024 at 8:57 am

Lindsey, I’m glad that you’ve finally gotten some much-needed rain, although I’m sure you could have done without the wind and hail. Good salvage job at the food bank, despite the awkward feelings. And up in Alaska, your savings on homegrown produce must be greater than ours in the Lower 48.


Fru-gal Lisa July 4, 2024 at 5:49 am

Count me as another squish-the-soap-together person, and yes, I also picked this hack up from the Tightwad Gazette.
1. My neighbors are hosting a July 4 block party and picnic. I called the host and volunteered to bring bottled water; the store where I work sells its off-brand bottled water for under $3 per case (of 24). Hosts said they’d only need 2 cases and were happy to get them. So after work Wednesday, I took them the water, and they will ice down the bottles overnight.
2. I was scheduled to get off at 6 p.m. Wednesday, but another worker, who was scheduled to close, called in. (Why are we not surprised? She always pulls this stunt! Ten bucks says she was already out of town celebrating the holiday when she phoned in “sick”.) Boss was very nice and let me off at my scheduled time anyway since I’m working on the 4th. Was able to attend my book club at church.
3. Since it stays daylight for so long, I took my glass bottles to the Recycling Station, located behind the local Goodwill. Glad to have one more box out of my garage!
4. Went to Goodwill to see if they had the kind of flower pot I wanted. No, but I found a really cute “teacher” T-shirt, which will serve me well next semester when I substitute teach, and used my 20% off coupon to buy it.
5. We are stuck in a “heat dome” and it’s already in the triple digits. My bedroom has south- and west-facing windows. This time of year, it’s like sleeping in a solar oven! So I “foiled” a window (put aluminum foil against the window pane, to reflect the heat off and make it darker/cooler inside) and noticed my room felt cooler last night. (Already had done this to the window nearest my bed.) Also put an electric fan by the floor vent to shoot the cooled air farther into the room; that seemed to help, as well. Meteorologist says we may get a “cold front” next week which will plunge high temperatures down to the 90s. Welcome to the wonderful world of global warming: You know it’s hotter than you-know-where when a “cold front” is in the 90s!


A. Marie July 4, 2024 at 6:21 am

FTFT, Another Summer Miscellany Edition:

(1) I don’t glue soap chips to other bars of soap, but I do (a) save soap scraps in a plastic mesh bag and use the mesh bag as a personal scrubber; and (b) sometimes make a new bar of soap with scraps, using the old Miles Kimball soap mold I’ve mentioned previously. As Amy D said at one point, any soap-saving method is OK as long as you’re saving it.

(2) I finally found the missing extra key to the Honda Element. (It was in a remote corner of a backpack I’d carried one day during Grad School BFF’s recent visit.) Now when those programmable key fobs arrive, I’ll be able to approach programming them with less anxiety.

(3) I bought a box of 20 Mule Team Borax at Wegmans this morning, in order to test it both as a laundry whitener (OxiClean powder isn’t getting the job done for me) and as an outdoor ant repellent (I’m running out of the boric acid I’ve been using for periodic ant outbreaks on my front steps and my brick driveway). Besides, the 20 Mule Team brings back memories of the ads for this on black-and-white TV back in the ancient times.

(4) All went well at Tuesday’s 6-month follow-up eye exam after my year-end cataract surgeries. The eye doc says that I have just a bit of cloudiness in the left replacement lens, which may require a quick laser cleanup at some point. But my next appointment is for next July, so obviously this isn’t urgent yet. And the cornea issue I inherited from my mother seems to be behaving itself for now. Phew.

(5) And from the Little Free Library that’s an old newspaper box in my eye doc’s office complex, I pulled a short book by the essayist Roger Rosenblatt–Where We Stand: 30 Reasons for Loving Our Country. It was written right after 9/11 and published in 2002. On this particular Fourth of July, I think this will be a good refresher course on the subject.


Bee July 4, 2024 at 8:01 am

Borax is often overlooked as an inexpensive cleaner and pesticide. It has so many uses, but I forget to add it to my arsenal of cleaners too. I saved this sometime ago
I thought you would get a kick out of the fact that it was a Martha Stewart article, A. Marie.
If you see this, please give a reason or two for loving our country.


A. Marie July 4, 2024 at 8:24 am

I have many reasons for loving our country, and indeed proudly hoisted the Stars and Stripes to my flagpole bracket this morning. One of these reasons is that my own dear neighborhood is a wonderful melting pot. I myself am of British/German ancestry; my German maternal great-grandpa came over in the late 19th century as a teenager to escape the Kaiser’s military conscription. And I have neighbors of British, Italian, Portuguese, Swedish, Japanese, Jewish (Polish and Russian), Iraqi, and African American descent. I only hope that this proud tradition may continue.


Rose July 4, 2024 at 9:01 am

I’m friends with Roger Rosenblatt–I will relay your comment to him.


A. Marie July 4, 2024 at 9:05 am

Give RR my best regards. His book Rules for Aging is also at the top of my hit parade.

MB in MN July 4, 2024 at 11:25 am

I, too, have many reasons for loving our country, with the two biggest being that: 1) we are a democracy and 2) what Marie said about our proud tradition as a melting pot.

Happy Independence Day!


MB in MN July 4, 2024 at 11:26 am

That should have been “A. Marie”


Lindsey July 4, 2024 at 12:28 pm

I am sure A. Marie can give you reasons and I can give you millions more reasons for loving this country. My parents came from a place where they asked neighbors to spy on you and you would be arrested and tortured on just the rumors spread by a neighbor who may have been mad you didn’t shop at his store. Here you don’t watch as the police come for your Jewish neighbors, then the Catholics, then the gays. If you have a child with Down syndrome, you don’t hide them because they will be taken away and disposed of because they cost the society more than they will ever produce for the society. Your 90 year old grandmother who has no pension isn’t sitting on the corner of the street begging for money because there is no safety net and the churches are so crippled they have no money for safety nets (this was still true a few years ago when I went back to Russia). There are no free newspapers because if you publish the truth you will be shut down. I could go on and on and on. Just yesterday I was reading how Putin has reinstituted the old KGB style reporting system and people call in names of those who are not sufficient supportive—no matter where in the world. Russians who supported to Ukraine in a recent sports event and posted a selfie holding the Ukraine flag are being harassed. A patron of a store who made a comment about paying with real money, not rubles, was arrested and beaten and displayed for his loyalty. If you want more reasons, ask an immigrant. I am a political junkie and I am well aware of the flaws in this country but there also are very few days where I don’t thank God that my parents had the guts to come to this country.


Pat July 4, 2024 at 4:32 pm

Both parents from Scotland.
Grandma was so proud she took everyone of her grands to the Statue of Liberty!


Bee July 4, 2024 at 3:26 pm

Thank you for your answers. I didn’t mean to sound as though I was questioning love or country. I simply wanted to hear what people loved about the USA. It’s our country’s birthday. Time to celebrate it.


Lindsey July 4, 2024 at 3:50 pm

I probably got a bit carried away, to be fair. But I think Americans born here are very blase’ about the blessings of living here. And a smaller and smaller portion of the population has been called on to protect our freedoms, so it is easy to forget the price. I think Hamilton is a love song to the U.S. and its immigrants. (At the same time, I detest the love it or leave it folks. How about love it and work to make it better?)


Bee July 4, 2024 at 4:10 pm

We are very blessed.

Ruby July 4, 2024 at 3:12 pm

I had that laser surgery for a cloudy lens and it was amazingly effective. There were some floaters that took a while to resolve, but otherwise it worked great.


Blue Gate Farmgirl July 4, 2024 at 8:14 am

I’m a soap saver too! I have an old aluminum bread pan that I throw the bits into and then melt it down, make a loaf and cut up new bars.
Picked 4 gallons of Montmorency cherries yesterday to make cherry juice (1 3/4 gallons juice) for my cousin and myself (I drink 4 oz before bedtime to induce a deep sleep and helps with arthritis pain). I will pick another gallon or so to make cherry vinegar today. If there is still enough cherries, I may make my Great Grandma’s cherry jack.
Today I will install the “new to me” white exterior window blinds for the W/SW facing windows to help with the mini heat wave.
I propagated 3 new plants from a regifted kalanchoe. My friend brings me all of her violets, orchids and every other gift plant and I keep them alive and when they rebloom she comes to select which one to take home for her garden window. Then brings it back before she kills it. It is fun for both of us.
Picking blueberries and strawberries today and will start washing the white fences around the home/barns/shops.


Farhana July 4, 2024 at 5:06 pm

I’m grateful you’re not like Rockefeller. What this “philanthropist” used to do to become wealthy is rather appalling ( Robert Greene opened my eyes regarding him).


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