Five (More) Tiny Frugal Things

by Katy on February 2, 2024 · 105 comments

    1. I went and picked up an upright vacuum cleaner from someone in my Buy Nothing group for my son’s fully carpeted apartment. I’ve had a number of interactions with this woman, (plus we have a friend in common) so I went up to her apartment to also look at a Joybird sofa that she’s giving him at the end of the month. My son did buy a sofa already, but he thinks he could use a second one or maybe resell the one he got and keep this one.

    2. My next door neighbor texted that she had too many eggs and asked if we’d like an extra dozen. I’m thinking they’re from a farm share or something similar, so that’s an exciting addition to the fridge. Hopefully my standard grocery store eggs won’t get an insecurity complex.

    3. I finally got my free Covid booster after four (!!) unsuccessful attempts through CVS. As in I’d make the appointment online and then get a text the day of the appointment saying that “Due to unforeseen circumstances” my appointment was being cancelled. Umm . . . I think at a certain point those circumstances are actually “foreseen.”

      Anyway, I’m back to being fully boosted and I didn’t have any side effects beyond a sore arm. I have two fully vaccinated friends who just got Covid for the first time, so there’s no reason to not take every precaution.

    4. • We had another day in the 50s here in Portland, so I fully turned off the heat for a full day. My husband was out of town, so I didn’t have to worry about anyone’s comfort but my own.
      • I bought an almost a desk piece of furniture that didn’t work for my son’s apartment. I bought it on Facebook Marketplace thinking it was a desk and since the guy carried it to my car for me I didn’t realize it until I got home. However, it’s still a cool piece, so I wiped it down with Oz polish and threw it back up on Marketplace last night as a “console table” with full measurements and better pictures. I bumped the price up by a hundreds bucks and have six people so far who want to come by for it.

      Update — sold for $150!

      • I ate up every last bite of the cottage pie leftovers.
      • I was able to book a spay appointment at the Humane Society for Mama’s Little Meatball. Because she’s my son’s cat and his income is fairly low, they were able to prorate the cost which’ll save him more than $300.

    5. I didn’t thrift any tiny Lear Jets.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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Five Tiny Frugal Things

by Katy on January 31, 2024 · 66 comments

    1. I watched what my sister calls a “short form cinema,” (aka Instagram reel) where someone was making a baked cottage pie and I realized I could scrounge most of the ingredients from what I had on hand. I had maybe a quarter pound of ground turkey in the fridge, but I figured I’d just bulk up the veggies to make up for it.

      I sautéed and simmered mushrooms, carrots, (both diced and grated) frozen peas, onions, cilantro and celery with beef broth, herbs and spices with the last of some marinara sauce and a few squirts of ketchup. (I didn’t have any tomato paste.) The last of a bag of potatoes provided the mash, to which I added sour cream, butter, milk, grated cheddar cheese and a handful of home dried chives.

      The above photo is before I put it in the oven and I cannot oversell how absolutely satisfying this meal was. Comfort food at its best!

    2. I printed two eBay labels for free at the library as my printer is currently only spitting out blank pages. I swear that my eBay only makes sales when it senses that my printer is on the fritz!

      What did I sell?

      The copper fish pan that I thrifted on my birthday. $60
      A Pendleton wool blank book that I pulled from a free box maybe three years ago. $18.80

    3. My neighbor put another empty Bonne Maman jam jar in her recycling bin, which I brought home and washed for reuse. I recently sent a few to my son’s apartment filled with coffee, tea, dishwasher detergent and butter, so I was actually running low. I love these jars for storage and small amounts of leftovers.

    4. • I picked up groceries at Trader Joe’s for a neighbor whose whole family has Covid.
      • My son had me over and made spaghetti carbonara for the two of us.
      • Yesterday was up to 60°F in Portland yesterday, so I cracked open all the windows and turned the heat off. There’s just something about actual fresh air in the house that can’t be replicated.

    5. I didn’t thrift any tiny Lear Jets.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on January 29, 2024 · 76 comments

This weekend was my son’s big move across town, so please excuse the lateness of this blog post as my days have been busy and I feel like I may have been hit by a Mack truck. Maybe two.

  1. My husband was able to scrounge dozens of sturdy cardboard boxes from his employer’s recycling dumpster. We then tipped them back into the dumpster at the end of the move, literally in the dead of night. And because my husband works in healthcare, many of them had fun branding on the outside that said things like “Fentanyl resistant gloves.”

  2. Although my son did pay for the furniture to outfit his new apartment, only a couple items were new and many of the items were free. He already had everything required for his bedroom, but he needed to start from scratch for the living room and dining room.

    • Free Ikea Poang chair with ottoman that his old roommate was going to donate to Goodwill.
    • Free Ikea coffee table from Facebook Marketplace.
    • Free console table that his old roommate was also going to donate to Goodwill.
    • Vintage guitar pick side table that I thrifted maybe six years ago.
    • Free banker’s lamp that he sourced through Buy Nothing a few years ago.
    • $50 rug through Facebook Marketplace.
    • $250 couch through Facebook Marketplace.
    • $30 for two bar stools through Facebook Marketplace.
    • $30 dining room table from Goodwill.
    • His big splurge was a $199 Dyvlinge chair, which is actually super comfy.

    We still need to source dining room chairs, but I stopped looking because my son wasn’t sure he even needed a dining room table. We’ve put the table I thrifted in his apartment and he can let me know if it’s a keeper. Otherwise I’m reselling it.

  3. My son’s bedroom consists of:

    • A bed frame, which I got for free through Buy Nothing.
    • A free desk, which he got off Facebook Marketplace.
    • An antique dresser, which I thrifted and refinished over twenty four years ago. We used it as his changing table.
    • This small bedside stool, which I painted in an argyle pattern in 2013.
    • A wall shelf, which my husband configured from a curb picked wooden board.
    This Ikea glass cabinet, which he set up for houseplants a few years ago.

  4. • I drove through for mid-move burrito plates and found a quarter on the ground.
    • My son’s old roommates were abandoning their possessions left and right, which is how my son ended up with the Poang chair and the console table. Also some other random things like potholders and spatulas.
    • My son moved into his last rental house when his roommates had already been living there awhile. They didn’t have him pay a security deposit, which is good as he definitely would’ve lost it, as his roommates were neither clean nor tidy. His room was left immaculate and we made sure to take both photos and video in case it’s ever an issue. Good guys, just slobs.

  5. I didn’t thrift or move any Lear Jets across town.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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I’m a huge fan of a daily to-do list. I scribble them into my planner each morning so I can give myself credit for stuff other people accomplish without having to pat themselves on the back. I find that I’m much more likely to knock out necessary tasks if I can mark them as “done,” which scratches that itch for external validation. To clarify, the to-do list is external to me. My armor against procrastination.

Little Picture

I put floss/brush/shower/litter boxes on my daily to-do list, which might seem like overkill, but it motivates me to get the ball rolling early in the day.

I then break tasks down into component pieces, so instead of “laundry,” which is vague and decidedly non-concrete, (is “laundry” ever really done?!) I give myself four squares to cross out for each load.

  1. Load washer.

  2. Switch laundry to dryer.

  3. Fold laundry.

  4. Put laundry away.

This might sound like an overcomplication of a standard chore, but it means that I never fall behind on laundry, even when I had kids at home. I can see what needs to be done and it feels incomplete if the boxes aren’t completed.

But what I’ve described are pesky little picture tasks that repeat on an almost daily basis. The time loop tasks that endlessly repeat.

Big Picture

I put “big picture” tasks in a separate area of my planner, as they don’t have to be completed on a specific day. Examples would be “take car through DEQ” or “clean and organize back porch.”

At this point you might be convinced that my days are filled with nothing but drudgery and icky hustle culture, but I make sure to slip enjoyable tasks onto my to-do lists. “Read for an hour” or “text a friend to schedule a play date” are common inclusions.

I’m not a productivity junkie in the manner of toxic men who write productivity books, but I still want to make sure that my bidness* is being taken care of. Taking care of life’s unpleasant tasks in a deliberate and efficient way, so I have the time and (most importantly) energy to do the better things that make life worth living.

How many of us have spent a day doing nothing enjoyable because we felt we hadn’t earned it? Because we hadn’t made that unpleasant phone call, sorted the mail or tackled that pile of dirty laundry?

“I can’t cuddle up with a book and a cup of tea because I haven’t dealt with X,Y,Z yet.”

My daily to-do lists mean that I can give myself the grace and permission to work on an unnecessary creative project, guiltlessly watch TV or socialize with a friend. I do so knowing my tasks, both big and little picture are taken care of.

Do you have a productivity hack that keeps you on track? I’d love to read what you do or maybe even struggle with when it comes to life’s daily tasks.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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* Takin’ care of bidness!


Five Tiny Frugal Things

by Katy on January 24, 2024 · 64 comments

    1. I had the kids over yesterday to work on their taxes, which was not a task to be procrastinated as they both had refunds coming their way. Especially their state taxes, as Oregon is handing out “kicker” refunds due to the state miscalculating their budget. They both used Turbotax, which is free at their income levels. I rewarded everyone with pizza afterwards.

      My husband and I will start our taxes today.

    2. We ordered Domino’s Pizza, as their gluten-free pizzas are actually affordable and my daughter likes them. My initial plan was to get just the one for her, (my son wasn’t at the house at the time) but then I saw that they were running a deal for $6.99 two-topping large pizzas, so I ordered one for the rest of us. I then picked them up to get the deal and saved the cost of delivery.

    3. My neighbor across the street dropped off some heavy duty plastic grocery bags that come standard with her grocery pickup service. This exact size works as kitchen bin liners as they’re both sturdy and perfect for our small trash can. I’m good about remembering my reusable bags when shopping, so sometimes I end up scrabbling for liners.

      She knows this about me as we’d chatted last year while she unloaded her grocery pickup bags. Tired mom that she is, she complained about how she needed to later return the bags for recycling. I told her I’d be more than happy to take them for reuse and she’s been bringing them to me ever since. Portland’s curbside recycling and compost, (which we share with our next door neighbors for extra savings) means that my family doesn’t need a standard American size kitchen bin, so grocery bags work perfectly for us.

      Am I going to get rich by forgoing the recurring expense of kitchen trash bags? Highly doubtful, but when you add up all the things I don’t spend money on, the answer gets a little blurry.

    4. • I returned overdue books to the library and picked up my holds. In the past there would’ve been overdue fees, but the Multnomah County library system did away with late fees a few years ago.
      • I picked up cheap powdered dishwasher detergent at Fred Meyer (Kroger) as I refuse to transition to using pods or tablets, which I consider to be a profiteering scheme. How? They’re tremendously more expensive per use and you don’t get to choose the amount to use. (I use a tablespoon of powdered soap per load.) Plus, there’s the whole issue of microplastics, which makes it even more baffling that the American public switched over to buying them. As you can tell, I feel strongly on the issue.

    5. I didn’t thrift any tiny Lear Jets.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on January 22, 2024 · 89 comments

  1. I noticed that my husband’s wool cap had sprouted a small hole. This is the same hat he’s been wearing since high school and needs to be protected at all costs, so I pulled out my darning supplies and did my best.

    There, that’s better. Not perfect, but better. Better is good.

  2. My son and I drove across an almost not icy Portland to pick up the free IKEA Leksvik coffee table for his new apartment. Facebook Marketplace is my current best friend.

    Tomorrow I drive to the suburbs to pick up the $50 desk I paid for last week. I’ll also hit a Goodwill or two while I’m out there.

  3.  I held off on going to the grocery store on Sunday as I knew it would be mobbed and instead cobbled together a series of hodge-podge meals. Top Ramen with sesame oil, crunchy chili oil, frozen corn and soft boiled eggs and then sautéed carrots and cauliflower with a bit of leftover grilled chicken and oyster sauce on top.

    I have three rolls of toilet paper until my plan to avoid the grocery store becomes a problem.

  4. • I decided that the ratty Trader Joe’s foaming soap dispenser I’ve been reusing for years needed a more permanent solution, so I did some research and saw that the OXO one had good reviews. Not an easy item to buy used, but I was able to find one on Amazon. Not my favorite place to shop, but eBay was bizarrely more expensive, so I enriched Schmeff Schmezos a little bit.
    • I watched the movie I Want You Back through my sister’s Prime Video account.
    • Last week I shoveled one neighbor’s walk and today a different neighbor helped shovel mine.

  5. I didn’t thrift any Lear Jets.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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I’m continuing to gather second hand furniture for my son’s new apartment. I bought two barstools from Facebook marketplace for $15 apiece apiece, as well as a $15 IKEA rolling cart. I also picked up a cat tree, which was a freebie off my Buy Nothing group.

It’s giving “cluttered furniture showroom” aesthetic, especially with the dining room table in the corner.

The cat tree was an immediate hit with Mama’s Little Meatball.


I’m cloistered in my iced over house and eating a myriad of random meals like this lentil soup over rice. But don’t get too impressed with the healthiness of my choices, as my lunch was olive oil grilled bread and then a handful of dried cranberries. So . . . girl dinner?

I wanted to take a cute photo of my snowy/iced over yard for the blog, but Portland’s week’s long winter weather event has been anything but cute. Multiple deaths, a record number of emergency room visits for slip and falls and a huge nightmare all around.

So yeah, not cute.

My husband and I drove around and picked up the furniture yesterday when it seemed like the ice was defrosting, although we misjudged how bad things were up in the higher elevation neighborhoods. And that cat tree? My husband fell twice on the person’s iced over stairs and miraculously wasn’t hurt.

Here’s a short news video that demonstrates how iced over we are.

Bored at home, but reminding myself to be grateful that I’m safe and warm.

Has your corner of the world been effected by weather?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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Five Tiny Frugal Things

by Katy on January 17, 2024 · 65 comments

    1. My son was able to find a free Ikea Leksvik coffee table through Facebook Marketplace, which is hilariously the same one that my father and step mother own. Plus it’s the same one that my sister regrets selling four or five moves ago.

      I asked for and am receiving a free tall cat tree for “Mama’s Little Meatball” through my Buy Nothing group.

    2. I’m on day five of being mostly house bound due to snow and ice, but I keep reminding myself that could be worse as we’ve kept electricity. I’ve been cooking from our ample stores and watching a gluttonous amount of TV. Again . . . going nowhere and doing nothing is #cheapaf.

    3. I baked a pair of pumpkin loaves yesterday, which used two cups of the pumpkin purée that I froze in November when friends and neighbors gave me their uncut Jack-o-lantern pumpkins.

      Most recipes I found called for butter, but I’m not a Rockefeller, so I continued my online search until I found one that used canola oil. I then plated up thick warm slices and delivered them to both a neighbor and my friend Lise who lives just a block away.

      I’m still working my way through the six 99¢ 5-pound bags of flour that I picked up in December, which helped keep this baking session on budget. I know that baking supplies always go on sale again before Easter, so I’ll stock up then.

    4. • I made a big pot of red lentil soup to balance out multiple slices of pumpkin bread. Because let’s face it — it’s cake.
      • I was almost out of chicken Better Than Bullion, so I used the vegetarian version, leftover from when from my vegan niece last visited. It was still perfectly yummy.
      • Mama’s Little Meatball is perfectly happy to curl up on my lap and keep me nice and warm.

    5. I didn’t thrift any tiny Lear Jets.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on January 15, 2024 · 79 comments

  1. My son and I spent Friday traversing Portland in our attempt to source the furnishings he needs for his new apartment. This took us across the river to the William Temple House thrift shop, which dedicates a larger percentage of their store to furniture than a standard Goodwill. They had one couch with the midcentury aesthetic my son is seeking, but the quality was really low. (The couch cushions had icky cheap fabric on the underside, which meant you wouldn’t be able to flip them.) So that was a “nope.”

    We also hit up the N.E. Broadway Goodwill, the main Goodwill, a very cool vintage furniture store on Hawthorne Boulevard and a consignment shop.

    We didn’t end up buying anything, (other than a Barcelona soccer scarf for him and a pair of socks for me.) but it was still really good to see what’s out there and have conversations about what my son actually wants in his home. I’ve since sent out a couple inquiries on Facebook Marketplace, which haven’t materialized into anything. Luckily he doesn’t move in until February 1st. Deep breath Katy, patience is key.

  2. Portland just faced a dramatic winter storm, complete with 50 mile-per-hour wind gusts! Unlike thousands of others, we were lucky enough to not lose electricity, plus no trees fell on our house. We spent over a thousand dollars having our enormous maple tree pruned in 2022 and it was the best investment, as it was less likely to blow over and damage our neighbors’ homes. It’s right on the property line!

    I did run out of milk for tea, which constitutes a crisis in my home. However, my lovely neighbors poured a couple glugs of milk into a jar for me, for which they received a jar of my homemade blackberry jam. I told them it was the “Jam For Milk Program.”

  3. My nephew didn’t end up flying in from New York as he was sick and told not to travel, which is a bummer, but understandable. We’d made reservations for rooms at a hotel in Seattle for a couple of nights, which we were able to cancel without any monetary consequences. Unfortunately, the cancelled plane ticket only refunded as credit, but we’ll use it at a later date.

    It’s a good thing that we’re no longer living paycheck to paycheck, then again we wouldn’t have bought him a ticket if we had been.

  4. • I found a penny and a nickel at one of the Goodwills.
    • We loaned our snow shovel to our other next door neighbors.
    • I’ve been fighting a cold over the past week, which has kept me at home more than normal. Nothing cheaper than going nowhere and doing nothing!

  5. I didn’t thrift any Lear Jets.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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Five Tiny Frugal Things

by Katy on January 11, 2024 · 110 comments

    1. My step mother and I went to a empty damp food cart pod to celebrate my belated birthday. I spied a soggy dollar bill off to the side and got on my literal hands and knees to grab it.

      A free falafel wrap and a one dollar bill? Happy birthday, Katy! Especially since we brought the food home to my warm, dry house.

    2. I asked for and received a poster size canvas through my Buy Nothing group. My son has a hankering for a Wassily chair, but we forgot to set aside $2906.40 for a single chair. Instead I’m planning on painting some wall art based on one of these posters. Mass produced art has no soul and I live a deluded life where I believe myself to have artistic abilities. We already own multiple tubes of acrylic paint, so there’s no harm in trying.

    3. My husband and I drove to pick up the $30 Ikea dining table from yesterday’s thrifting adventure. I explained to the Goodwill employee which table I was there to load up, and her response was “Oh, I know which table you’re talking about.” She then proceeded to share that I’d gotten a very good deal on the table as their new manager was pricing things lower. “The last manager would have charged at least $75 for that table.”

      “Thanks,” I thought to myself. “Now I have content for the blog.”

    4. • My friend brought me a jar of homemade biscotti and a cute pair of socks as a birthday gift.
      • Portland is scheduled for a snow storm starting on Friday, which always throws the city into chaos. This due to both our hills and the government lacking the sufficient number of snow plows. Even though Portland’s goofy citizens would have a heyday if ever given the chance to name a snowplow. Maybe we could all chip in a couple bucks for the opportunity?

      – Snow Business Like Show Business?
      – How Now Brown Plow?
      – Snow Plower to the People?
      – Plow Jones Industrial Average?

      The list is endless.

    5. I didn’t thrift any tiny Lear Jets.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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