Non-Consumer Photo Essay

by Katy on February 8, 2024 · 52 comments

Today I cut a few tendrils off this fuzzy bunny plant to propagate for next summer’s flowerpots. They fill out perfectly and don’t seem to mind my shady backyard. This one is just chilling in my daughter’s old bedroom with no needs beyond a weekly watering. Think of it as an organ donor.

These cuttings will provide pretty landscaping for zero-ninety-nine!

Lunch was pressure cooked refried beans over cheap-o tostadas, which cost maybe two bucks per bag.

Keeping me company while I putter around the house is the The Immortalists audiobook from the library’s free Libby app.

I looped past the Winco clearance shelf the other day and scooped up these ten cent boxes of pumpkin spice Jello. I’ll likely list them on eBay as seasonal food items can fetch a pretty penny. See for yourself HERE!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

Jen in Santa Cruz February 8, 2024 at 11:07 pm

Free gorgeous plants and gross Jell-O for resale/profit. LOVE IT. Keep on being you, Katy. Thanks for sharing.


Katy February 9, 2024 at 12:35 pm

It’s pudding, if that helps.


cathy February 9, 2024 at 1:04 pm

Pudding *does* help! Pumpkin spice jello just sounds weird.


Katy February 10, 2024 at 2:50 pm

I live to serve!


Marilyn February 8, 2024 at 11:16 pm

I never would have guessed that pumpkin spiced Jello is a hot item on ebay!
1. Called doctor’s billing office once a week for 3 weeks and left nice polite VM messages asking for someone to return my call but got no response. Finally, this week, I called again and someone actually called back. She looked at my account and agreed I was entitled to a refund of $54! She processed the refund to my credit card within minutes. It pays to be persistent.
2. Lately, I have found lots of good movies and shows on Hoopla and Kanopy so once again, I want to thank our wonderful library.
3. Now that I’m retired, I’m not spending much at the gas station or at clothing stores. The big expense these days is food. I’m cooking and eating at home and I’m doing my best not to waste any food. I know I could save more if we would give up things like ice cream, but so far we have not gone to that extreme.
4. Spending a lot of time making adjustments to my retirement accounts to make sure my retirement money is not too heavily invested in stocks. Right now, I’m not so focused on making money — more focused on not losing money. It’s nice that savers can now make a decent return on CDs and Treasury bills.
5. As ever, keeping busy with very inexpensive things that I enjoy such as reading books from the library, walking for exercise, doing crossword puzzles.


Lindsey February 9, 2024 at 4:03 pm

The other day I wanted to buy fruit popsicles but told my husband they were too expensive. He rolled his eyes, said we are too old to deny ourselves things like popsicles, and threw them in the basket. Why give up ice cream if you have the money??


Selena February 9, 2024 at 8:11 pm

One needs to make sure s/he is not being cheap or miserly – no turning into Hetty Green.


Ecoteri February 9, 2024 at 10:05 pm

I’m not an ice cream fan but my best buddy is. She invested in a countertop ice cream maker machine – and turned out a LOT of delicious ice creams last summer. If we were together for a dinner for two (when her husband was off sailing or working in another city) she would serve up the ice cream in tiny scoops and tiny bowls – we would do taste tests. Delicious and very satisfying when they are so flavour packed you don’t need as much, particularly when we were so present to the tasting process. Yum. I read (and she listened to) Highly Processed People and then we took a serious look at what is in Ice cream… gah. So I stopped buying even for occasional treats for #2 son, and she bought a machine and started to make it … solutions that work for us both.


Julia February 9, 2024 at 3:27 am

Is it jello or is it pudding? I really hope it’s pudding…


Michele February 9, 2024 at 4:21 am

I wondered the same thing! Ugh!


Katy February 9, 2024 at 12:34 pm

It’s pudding.


Bee February 9, 2024 at 4:42 am

Instant pudding on eBay! Have you found any vintage Kool-aid yet?


Nancy from mass February 9, 2024 at 5:29 am

Glad other people like pumpkin spiced things. I love pumpkin I love pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread, but all this pumpkin flavor stuff is disgusting to me.

1. Still carting around the dental floss, toothpaste, etc. trying to find a place I can donate it. It will eventually happen.
2. Going through PT for my shoulder and have asked my doctor to do an MRI. We’re not sure if it’s a frozen shoulder or if I retore the rotator cuff. Completely different ways to fix that. (If it’s a torn cuff, I’ll need surgery again.) damn basement.
3. While I was at the library, the other day, I picked up a couple of books. I have an awesome library. There’s always a plethora of books to choose from that are new.
4. While at savers the other day with my son, I picked up a brand new, with tags, torrid motorcycle jacket. It looks and feels like real leather, but it did is not. It’s kind of punk, goth and Moto. I have the perfect boots to go with it, although, I have been eyeing these sneakers with studs, but I will hold off on buying those.
5. on my list of things to do today (other than PT and getting a quote to have a sump pump installed.) oh, and work. I have to work today. I will also call Verizon FiOS and see if I can chop down my plan a little more.

I agree with you about the Doc Martens. They are a pretty penny, but they are definitely worth the money. Your daughter is going to wear the heck out of those.


Katy February 9, 2024 at 12:34 pm

She really is. And kudos on your new motorcycle jacket!


Lindsey February 9, 2024 at 4:06 pm

I read about your motorcycle jacket and thought, what kind of motorcycle jacket would be full of passion? So I looked it up. Somewhat disappointed to realize Torrid is the name of a company…


Ecoteri February 9, 2024 at 10:07 pm

@Lindsey, perhaps the ‘full of passion’ that you are imagining is the person within the jacket?


lisa February 22, 2024 at 3:26 pm

Nancy from Mass- if your city has a mutual aid group they are likely to be very excited to take the toothpaste/dental floss from you. The mutual aid groups in my area make up hygiene kits, with toothbrushes/paste, first aid supplies, hand sanitizer, period products etc and are always thrilled to get these sort of things donated.


Vickey February 24, 2024 at 5:41 pm

Might a school nurse’s office be interested, so they could make free hygiene supplies available to kids whose families don’t have sufficient resources?


Heidi Louise February 9, 2024 at 7:03 am

Our whole-house air conditioner unit is almost 25 years old. It has been very dependable, (partly because we don’t try to fight nature too hard and turn our house into a freezer). However, every summer we expect it to some day decide it is done for.
I asked our heating-and-cooling person if prices on AC and the like are still rising. She said yes. But she also said that the U.S. is changing the required coolant components for AC, phasing out R-22/Freon, and if we can wait another year, that would be good. I presume this is so we meet the most up-to-date and long-term requirements. Does anyone else have any input on this?


Mary Ann February 9, 2024 at 8:56 am

Frugality in Depression

I haven’t seen a lot posted about this topic and yet all frugal progress can be completely wiped out with one depressive episode. So here is my experience, strength and hope from someone who has periodic clinical episodes of depression.

1. Living a frugal life includes for me structure, camaraderie, small wins, telling the truth and forgiving any silly lapses. All of this habits are like money in a mental health savings account that I can draw on when I am in an depressive episode. I post the truth. I call friends and tell the truth when I talk to them. I eat from a full pantry and allow myself to not LOVE the meal but to be nurtured by it because the truth is while I am down, I won’t love any meal.

2. I don’t chase the low. Chasing the low means I am trying to overcompensate with false highs to find a medium. In the past this could mean excessive spending and/or impulsive moves either geographically ( I have been know to drive to LA 🙁 ) or emotionally ( separate from a long term relationship). I celebrate small wins with lots of time to think and just be. Give yourself grace. I stayed the morning with a friend and we watch HSN which I have never done but she loves. We kibitzed for two hours and I allowed myself to buy a pretty scarf for $20 after discounts. It was fine.

3. Don’t call anyone hard. By this I mean, anyone who is hard to be with for me. I only talk to people who will support me in positive habits and who tend to be light hearted. I have lots of friends but some are not as easy to be around or have more bagge.

4. Exercise for 5 mins at a time. I literally have one song “dance break” playlists. I did delicate laundry – one item loads of laundry that make me get up every 20 mins. Not very water efficient but we are talking greater GOOD!!! – a little laundry; a little movement; a little accomplishment for that item that has been in the bottom of the laundry bag for about six months.

5. Be uncomfortable in front of people on purpose. Telling the truth is hard because I don’t like crunchy feelings that follow. I told my bosses I won’t be able to make it into work. I told my teaching aides I was down. I told the grocery clerk who I don’t even know to repeat something because it is a hard day and I am having trouble focusing. The scared me wants show perfection. My life and my family’s life depends on me as real as possible but also being responsible. I took a sub for 2 days because I am not going to put my students through two days of a teacher in a bad episode. I made sure they had a good sub, good lesson plans, and my aides knew what was expected. When all were safe and sound, I collapsed at home and pulled the cover over my head for three hours. Good job , me.

Thank you Katy for allowing this to be printed. I woke this morning determined to write about mental health because the event that sent me into a spin was another student at our school ( I have his sister) shot himself in the head two days ago. He was 17 and didn’t realize that things pass and life gets better. This is the third student I have loss to suicidal tragedy in 3 years. Last year the captain of the volleyball team, a beautiful vibrant Indian girl ,could not tell her parents she was gay. The year before was a stunning athlete who skirted the edges of a gang. I talked to him four hours before he killed himself. He told me I was the only teacher that seem to understand what he was going through. But I wasn’t enough.

Thankfully we have worked with dozens of student successfully through high support programs. I have taught for 35 years. I have NEVER experienced this many isolated students. I was put on leave this week because I couldn’t stop crying over the tragedy? How is the whole world not crying this morning at the loss of the what is the best part of us – our children.


A. Marie February 9, 2024 at 9:10 am

Mary Ann, thank you for your stunning honesty. You sound as if you have good methods of self-care; I’m only sorry that you need them–and that the beautiful students you describe are now lost forever. I will add only: Peace be with you, and with us all.


Q February 9, 2024 at 9:49 am

Mary Ann, thank you for speaking out. I know that you have made a difference in many lives. You may have even made the short lives of those we lost easier while they were here with us. I am glad you are taking care of yourself. I think it was Mother Theresa who said it was not necessary that we win our battles, what matters is that we fight them. Take care.


Katy February 9, 2024 at 12:31 pm

Thank you so much for sharing your story, your feelings, your honesty. Your self awareness is inspiring and impressive — to know what you need even though it’s the “middle” instead of the “after.” To not be heartbroken by a teenager’s suicide would mean that’s you’re empty and without empathy. Feeling your feelings instead of walling them out.

Sending a virtual hug and a virtual hour or two of helping around the house.


Bee February 9, 2024 at 2:38 pm

My heart goes out to you and hope in the days to come you will find peace. Sometimes we have to give ourselves permission to be in the moment – even if that moment is filled with sadness.
I am extraordinarily sorry that the life of another young person has been lost through suicide. These experiences are heartbreaking.


K D February 9, 2024 at 3:08 pm

Thank you for sharing. I am so sorry that you have endured so much loss. I am glad you are able to take care of your needs and thank you for the difference you make in so many young people’s lives.


Lindsey February 9, 2024 at 4:10 pm

I am so glad you are able to recognize your feelings and do self-care. The suicides are so heart-breaking. Thanks for having the guts to post this because I am sure it really helped some people.


MB in MN February 9, 2024 at 7:56 pm

Mary Ann, I really appreciate your sharing this honest, heartfelt account. I grieve your tragic losses. Thank you for shining a light on mental health and the suicide epidemic. Many people are not okay and we need to talk about it, often. Wishing you peace and hope in the time ahead.


Selena February 9, 2024 at 8:19 pm

I don’t know what else to say except I’m glad you care. During my elementary school years, I remember a student or two that had, well I will call them less than stellar parents. School was their anchor in life. Seems there is just too dang much pressure on kids today – be society and/or parents – particularly parents who are living thru their children and/or trying to obtain the goal they couldn’t. All I can say is I am glad my kids are grown.


Ecoteri February 9, 2024 at 10:19 pm

@Mary Ann, wow, what an amazing collection of advice for how to continue putting one step in front of the other whilst processing a period of depression. I am awestruck that you have been able to assemble and share with us these strategies during what is clearly a heartrendingly difficult time. Thank you so much for your courage and your creativity – to say nothing of your willingness to be honest and true about what depression can compel us to do, if we aren’t on our guard. Calling in friends and being willing to share the state we are in is key, and reminding ME of this right now is a blessing that I deeply appreciate.
As for your loss of yet another young person – I keep feeling as if there isn’t a communal emphasis on the value of EACH and EVERY person – somehow folk get in their heads that if they choose to leave they won’t leave a hole. And others get in their heads that a child must follow strict limiting beliefs or rules. makes me want to howl at the moon, sometimes. May your heart be softened through remembering the good in these lost young ones, and please continue to show up for the hurting ones who are still present. Blessings


Q February 9, 2024 at 10:11 am

1. Looked into reducing cost of traveling to inlaws, and found that you can get a nice discount on ferry tickets if you travel at off peak times, and purchase way ahead. As we are visiting every month right now, I am booking tickets for April 45% off, which is a big savings, over $100. It means shifting our travel times a little, but is worth it. I had to poke around on site to find the lower fares, but I am glad I did.
2. I am going to a birthday dinner for someone who has enough, and a regular gift certificate did not feel personal enough. A friend and I are going to give a “certificate” for dinner and an arty movie. As well, I have a maple branch that I saved from tree trimming, and I sanded it and shaped it, and wood burned personal designs all over it, for a “she-llelagh.” I know she will like it, and I feel good about it.
3. I am eating leftover vegan cassoulet from last week. The recipients of the other ones I made were very appreciative.
4. I am mending a raised bed that has a nice chicken wire cover, etc, by screwing wood strips to the bottom, and attaching hardware cloth to that, to keep the rabbits and groundhogs out. It is not in perfect condition, but will look nice in the garden, a little further from the house, so it will look fine.
5. I sanded a frame, in order to paint it, and use it to frame a painting that my DD did as a child, to bring as a gift she will hang in her daughter’s room.
I am keeping up with laundry, etc. Reading library books, eating food we have, and thinking of those who don’t have. For Lent, I am going to serve very simple meals, and donate money to local food pantry.


Dicey February 9, 2024 at 11:36 am

Mary Ann, thank you for your stunning honesty. You and my late mom share the same name, so my heart goes out to you. I hope things get better soon.

Sorry to change the subject, but today’s final entry is the best opportunity I’ve seen to ask this of Katy:

Would you be willing to do an update on selling on eBay? DH retired a couple years ago and is finally getting around to selling his unneeded, unworn [expensive brand] work clothes.

There seem to be so many booby traps, and I’m not just talking about scammers.

I am utterly convinced if there is a smarter way to navigate eBay, especially the shipping, you’ve got it figured it out.

Thanks in advance!


Katy February 9, 2024 at 12:50 pm

I’m kind of off the eBay wagon at the moment. Not due to any issues with the platform, but I just haven’t been finding great stuff lately when I do thrift. This time of year (wet, rainy, dark) keeps me at home more than you’d expect, so I just haven’t been thrifting too much.

However, I did write these posts:


Ruby February 9, 2024 at 1:21 pm

I had a day of errands. Went to the Habitat ReStore and spent $6 on two pints of paint after dropping off a donation. Used some of the paint on our back door. It’s a very close match to what was already on there. Also went to Goodwill and bought two shirts and a tall china tea mug for $7. Picked up a prescription and used $2 in rewards cash on cookies.

Found an unopened bottle of white vinegar in the garage and used it to remove hard water deposits from a sink and unclog a slow drain. Cleaned the house with a stack of cotton rags.


A. Marie February 9, 2024 at 2:06 pm

While Katy has a “mother ship” fuzzy bunny plant, I have a “mother ship” spider plant. It lives in my guest room (nice western exposure there) and pumps out spider babies as if there’s no tomorrow. It, in turn, was a pup from the spider plant my MIL owned for decades.

And now that the days are getting noticeably longer here, I’m starting to repot those of my houseplants that need it. Today I moved my huge purple dracaena from a ceramic planter I’d like to sell to my secondhand-housewares store friend into a roomier plastic Monrovia Nursery pot. I think the design of the Monrovia pots is nifty, and I get all of those I want for free from certain neighbors who buy a bunch of Monrovia plants every spring and then put the pots in their recycling bin (where they don’t belong).


Katy February 10, 2024 at 2:50 pm

Ooh . . . thank you for reminding me about propagating spider plants. I’m going to go snip some babies right now!


Lindsey February 9, 2024 at 4:00 pm

I am one of those sad souls who loves all things (except Spam) that are pumpkin spiced. I would have snapped them up for myself.

1. Got a call today from the animal shelter asking if we wanted a mastiff who needed rehoming. I said no, since we already adopted a Great Dane this week. This is very frugal, to not take in another giant dog…but it does give me a sense of how people become animal hoarders because for a very brief moment I thought, “We could probably do this.”
2. Someone on the buy nothing group is going gluten free and offered 10 boxes and bags of angel hair pasta and egg noodles. I snapped them up. Egg noodles are a favorite in this house.
3. Stopped by a locally owned pet shop that gives all who adopt dogs from the shelter these freebies: 5 lbs dog food, a stainless steel food dish, a three pack of free tennis balls, and an engraved pet tag. We also bought 150 pounds of dog food; Clobber Paw (aka pound hound #2) eats 10 cups a day and #1 eats 4 cups a day so we might as well stock up. They gave us an old people’s discount of 10%, bless them. And they gave each of our dogs a free stuffie for being so cute.
4. Ordered my garden seeds from a company I like that is offering free shipping for the rest of February. Usually Alaska gets charged a lot more for shipping.
5. The grocery had a freebie give away of some weird flavor of Mountain Dew. We don’t drink it but our teen snow shoveler/garden helper loves it so the husband and I each took one with thanks.

I am well enough to not be in the wheelchair the last two days but we keep it parked in the living room. I came out of the kitchen to see Clobber Paw sitting in it like a human, with his butt in the seat, his back paws on the foot rest and his front paws hanging down like arms. Where is my cell phone camera when I need it?


A. Marie February 9, 2024 at 5:00 pm

Lindsey, if you ever catch Clobber Paw doing this in your wheelchair again, you MUST get photos. I insist. (And may you have many more days of feeling well enough not to be in the wheelchair yourself.)

Also, if Pound Hound #2 now has a more distinctive sobriquet, what can we do for Pound Hound #1? Houdini (or maybe Houndini), given his earlier escape artist tendencies? Something else?


Bee February 10, 2024 at 4:35 am

I’m glad that you are feeling well and haven’t need your wheel chair. I hope it can become PH#2’s favorite place to sit. How is PH#1 adjusting?


Katy February 10, 2024 at 2:48 pm

Silly pup, that sounds hilarious!


Ecoteri February 9, 2024 at 10:47 pm

Visited mom and daughter yesterday (stacking errands, as it were, they live close to each other but an hour from me.) I just walked with Mom, poked on her computer (won’t launch Open Office anymore, but the computer is ancient and Windows, so this Mac user just showed her how to use Google Docs, as she actually has a Google ID. And I just DID what she was trying to do, as she is getting more flustered these days. I think she felt better because “even I” couldn’t get the application to launch, though), and pruned the hydrangea that is outside her window (it was poorly pruned in the fall and the shape was driving me (and her) a bit over the aesthetic bend, so I took her shears out and she directed, I pruned. AHHHH). Priceless visit, to go see here with no agenda.
Then off to my daughter in her new-to-her Condo. I delivered a largish painting that had been in her bedroom here; I’d exchanged it for one in my kitchen (putting the kitchen one in her room), and finally this trip I had found room in my car to bring her painting down to her. She had already ‘borrowed’ the collection of picture hanging hooks and nails that I have assembled, so we managed to get two hooks on the wall she shares with her most noise – sensitive neighbour before 8:15, and the painting looks awesome over her couch.
I had her walk with me to the grocery store as I wanted to get something to cook with her for dinner. En route we went to pick paint chips from the paint store where she will be able to get a BCAA discount – the guys there left us alone to pick up chips, then gently asked if we needed help. They were SO informative and kind to her. She came away feeling less threatened about the whole kit-and-kaboodle that painting can appear to be to the uninitiated, and has happily cut the chips up to tape to various parts of the house while she ponders. No expense entertainment and education all in one.
Our grocery trip was interesting as I had picked up a big turkey thigh, marked down with a $2 AND a $5 sticker; the young teller only discounted $2.50, and when I questioned her she said that it would show up at the end (which it wasn’t appearing to do) .. So, before everything was rung up, I (very nicely) asked her to check again and she realized she was thinking 50 cents not 5 dollars – the correction saved my daughter $4.50 and my daughter was completely un-phased that her mom was watching like a hawk. Training at the grocery continues! I do find that when I get discount items, I need to be paying attention at the till.
My gym membership is earning its keep – Best girlfriend isn’t always getting there but she was accountability buddy tonight, we actually walked side-by-side on treadmills on both ends of our workouts, and did more exercises on machines closer to each other, so it felt like more of a connection time than we have been managing. I also am getting more outside movement as well as keeping my step count up – training for Grand-baby is in full force these days!
One day I will post something short, but it may take years to be less wordy….


Bee February 10, 2024 at 4:45 am

Regarding the grand baby trading… the hardest thing about having my grandson visit is getting up from the floor quickly. Yoga and Pilates type exercises have been helpful.


Bee February 10, 2024 at 4:46 am

That would be grand baby training …


Ecoteri February 10, 2024 at 5:06 pm

@ Bee, yes, trading grand babies – not advised. The getting up from the floor is what my Buddy and I are talking about. one of my exercise programs occasionally has us go down to the floor and back up as fast and as often as we can for 45 seconds – and we do that 4 times in the 15 min workout. I DO get faster when I commit to this hard sweaty activity — agility comes back, I am determined to get it back and then keep with it. I don’t have to look pretty, but I do need to be strong and reasonably fast/agile/well balanced (physically, I mean, LOL) and to get to that state I have to make a strong commitment to myself (and future grand baby!)
@ Katy, Thank you — I will try to avoid berating myself for my tendency to end up in the weeds when telling stories. Perhaps it is because I tend to TELL STORIES in my head and with my friends, bullet points are not my forte…


Katy February 10, 2024 at 2:46 pm

No, keep your comments long — they’re fantastic!


Vickey February 25, 2024 at 7:10 am

Ecoteri, I love your generously long and detailed stories!


Shona February 10, 2024 at 9:36 am

I don’t typically read non-fiction but when I worked at the library we would get proof books and The Immortalists was one I loved. The story has stayed with me all these years. Enjoy.


Katy February 10, 2024 at 2:43 pm

Good to know, I’m reading it as an audiobook, which means I need to schedule in some household puttering or driving.


BettafrmdaVille February 10, 2024 at 8:36 pm

1. I took dad out for dinner for a mystery shop. We had 2 beers, 2 appetizers, 2 entrees, and 1 dessert and it was $4.00 out of pocket. He was inordinately
happy to get free beer.
2. We then went to the grocery store and we both bought bacon for $1.99 for 12 ounces (or $2.65 per pound) and bought the max amount of 4 packs each.
3. At the grocery store, we also found $.27 in the change dispenser (self-checkout) that someone had left.
4. My dad buys my mom flowers regularly and wanted to get some for V-Day. Rather than the $29.99 for 1 dozen roses, we made a really beautiful bouquet with tea roses along with two other dramatic varieties (can’t remember) for $15.
5. Bought some bulk bay leaves at a coop where you bag your own. I tied the top of the bag instead of using a twist-tie so I 1) didn’t have to pay for the weight of the twist-tie—surely I saved a penny?!—and 2) kept it out of circulation.


Katy February 11, 2024 at 11:05 am

Tying instead of using the twist tie to save a penny? You are my hero! Plus I always feel bad throwing the twist ties away.


Ecoteri February 11, 2024 at 12:55 pm

Twist ties – they multiply! I am a bit disorganized in the kitchen, so twist ties end up on the counters. I have taken to putting them in my apron pocket when I notice them, and then (in rare fits of structure) I will got to the hell drawer where there is a twist tie bag, and unload the handfuls. I am careful, then, to straighten them. For some reason, I don’t really have a lot of twist ties so there isn’t reproduction occurring – however, I also often tie the bag tops at the grocer or simply leave them open. @ BettafrmdaVille I will now give myself kudos every time I do!


Katy February 11, 2024 at 1:05 pm

I use wooden clothespins to close bags, so I have no use for twist ties.


Ecoteri February 11, 2024 at 7:19 pm

my twist tie bag also stores the clothespins that are used for many things that twist ties could be used for… Great minds!

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