No Budget Gardening

by Katy on May 2, 2024 · 26 comments

I love that however long I’ve been on my journey of extreme frugality, there’s always another trick around the corner. Remember these curb picked ceramic planters? It didn’t take me long to figure out a use for them.

I had this somewhat underutilized corner of the living room that put the whole space off balance. I’ve had a Big Plant™ there in the past, but had to move it for whatever reason. This eleven-inch tall pot was the perfect solution. Good timing too, as my son recently brought over this ponytail palm over from his apartment, as his kitten had zero chill when it came to leaving it alone. (Can you blame her though? It looks like it was created in mind to be a cat toy!) The palm is substantial enough to warrant a big planter and this corner of the room is once again anchored.

Zero dollars spent.

So what to do with the pretty faceted flowerpot? I rooted this purple heart from my sister’s plant in New York last year. It was in a small drab planter, so this was a just right upgrade. I did accidentally break off a couple branches while transplanting it, but I’ve set them in water and know this mistake will actually garner me two new plants!

Zero dollars spent!

And then yesterday I passed by this sad specimen while out for a walk and brought it home as A) It wasn’t actually dead and B) If nothing else, it’s free potting soil.

I think it might be that “lucky” bamboo, but some people on my Instagram feed thought it could be a monstera.

Either way, it has new growth and will reveal itself in due time.

Zero dollars spent.

 

 

Whether it’s scoring free barrel planters through my Buy Nothing Group or free potting soil through Fred Meyer’s annual Fuchsia Saturday promotion, I’m able to have a verdant and satisfying garden without spending any money.

For those wondering about that chicken planter? That’ll serve as a Mother’s Day gift in a couple of weeks. Now, to figure out what to plant in it . . . .

P.S. What do you think the mystery plant is?

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 May 1, 2024 · 53 comments

    1. My son ordered a pair of jeans through my eBay account, but they didn’t fit right, so I offered to manage the return for him. He’ll eat the $9 to ship them back, but he’ll get the $25 purchase price back. I’m encouraging him to buy jeans in the future that he can actually try on.

    2. My adult nephew flew back to NYC after his week-and-a-half long trip to Portland. My son took vacation time from work and slept at the house the whole time, even bringing his cat (Mama’s Little Meatball) with him for the adventure. We had dinner at the house every night but one, (when my mother and step father treated to a barbecue restaurant) which kept costs from spiraling out of control. Sure, there were a couple burritos and hum bao purchased while out and about, but you’d be a fool to visit Portland without indulging in the food scene.

      We had so much fun hosting him, especially since my son and him are best friends. He got to spend quality time with both sets of grandparents and even enjoy Portland’s night scene with his cousin. I’m having empty nest syndrome all over again.

    3. I scored three amazing curbside glazed planters while driving home from the airport. I’m really glad that I circled back for them as they were much nicer than I initially thought, and certainly worth lugging the entire block to where I was able to park. (So heavy since two came pre-filled with rain soaked potting soil!) It’s hard to tell in the photo, but the cobalt blue one is enormous!

    4. • I picked up two trays of 89¢/lb chicken thighs at Fred Meyer, which came in super handy when we spontaneously had extra people for dinner one night.
      • I pulled a copy of Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, by Gabrielle Zevin from my Little Free Library to give to my nephew for his flight home. Fantastic book that I wish I could read for the first time all over again.
      • My father and step mother were getting rid of their canning  jars and supplies, so I brought home a case of wide mouth quart jars and two boxes of lids.

    5. I didn’t pay any hush money.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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Non-Consumer Photo Essay

by Katy on April 30, 2024 · 24 comments

It’s time for a bit of nonconsumerism in photo form.

I took my son and nephew to the Goodwill on N.E. Broadway yesterday and although I walked out empty handed, I was sorely tempted to bring home this Bag O’ Ties™ for just $9.99. That vintage yellow one at the bottom was extra special, but I need to hold off on buying for resale until I list everything past Katy already bought to sell.

Unless of course I come across any Ming vases.

I was not swayed by this “shelfies” brand shirt, although I did document it for your pleasure.

I read somewhere once that you should edit photos of moving water on iPhones using the “long exposure” filter, which creates a really cool effect. Here’s Little Zigzag Falls on long exposure:

And here’s the unedited photo:

I kept driving past this roadkill hoodie near my house and finally remembered to walk back for it. It had been there for days and was directly in spot where a lot of cars drive.

I was careful to look both ways before loitering in the street for this photo.

And here’s what the hoodie looked like after I put it through the wash. The zipper is a bit mangled, but I think I can fix it. As you can see, I dressed up and for sure brushed my hair before getting my husband to snap this photo of me.

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 April 29, 2024 · 54 comments

    1. I bought my son a used toothbrush.

      Okay, I guess I should elaborate — I bought my son a refurbished Oral B electric toothbrush handle for $20 on eBay instead of the $50 it would’ve cost new. This may cross the line for what’s okay to buy used for the majority of some people, but hard plastic can be sanitized and the $30 savings is nothing to sneeze at. I like that however long I’ve been on my Buy Nothing New journey, (18 years and counting!) there’s always something new to add to my bag of tricks!

    2. The “trigger” piece on my beloved Revere Ware tea kettle snapped off and to buy a replacement part was $20. I ended up ordering a used kettle on eBay. I paid $30 with free shipping after clicking “Add to watchlist,” which prompted the seller to send me an offer. I spent $10 more than buying the single part, so I suppose this isn’t technically a frugal hack. Still though, I stayed on track with my buy nothing new Compact.

      I’ll probably figure out a way to 3D print the piece on my own, but until then Katy needs her kettle!

      Click HERE to see the kettle I’m talking about.* And by the way, a brand new one costs $180!

    3. I woke up to find a Sunday NY Times newspaper on my front porch, which was mysterious since we don’t subscribe. I texted both my next door neighbors, but it belonged to neither of them. I then asked on a Facebook group for people on my street and received no response. Having done my due diligence, we then enjoyed a leisurely read through America’s best Sunday newspaper!

    4. • My husband brewed a pot of coffee that didn’t get touched, so I poured it into a pitcher and stuck it in the fridge overnight. It’s not yet iced coffee season here in Oregon, but the coffee was perfectly fine when microwaved the following day for our morning coffees.
      • My father gave me a wooden cigar box filled with marbles, as I collected them as a kid. I added the marbles to my existing collection and found someone in my Buy Nothing group who wanted the cigar box.
      • I had a $5 reward on my New Seasons account, which I used towards a $5.99 piece of of their famous banana cake for my husband and I to share. I rarely shop there as their prices are insane, so I guess me picking up the occasional loss leader sale item finally added up!
      • I finished listening to a Libby audiobook that wasn’t good enough to recommend, yet not bad enough to give up on. I then loaded up a Libby copy of Jodi Picoult’s The Book of Two Ways.
      • I cut open a tube of hand lotion for access to everything that I paid for!
      • My no-knead artisan bread has been a big hit with my nephew, so I baked another loaf this morning. Of course, I served it with my homemade blackberry jam made from foraged berries!

    5. I didn’t pay any hush money or legal fees.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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* This is an eBay affiliate link, which earns me a commission if you it to buy something. It doesn’t cost you anything extra.

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Five Tiny Frugal Things

by Katy on April 26, 2024 · 57 comments

    1. I continue to cook almost all our dinners from scratch while my adult nephew is visiting from NYC. (I did splurge on Olé Olé takeout burritos for the boys one night.) So far we’ve had Mexican chicken soup, chicken adobo, fried rice, green curry chicken with veggies, plus one night of leftovers. Tonight will be a burrito bar. The fried rice was a big ol’ hit as leftovers, so I threw together an extra batch for random cravings.

      We took a day trip to a family cabin on Wednesday, so I brought a pan of twice baked potatoes from last week’s freeze-a-palooza. They were yummy, filling, warm and perfect to fuel the three hikes that we took that day.

    2. I kept a scheduled dentist appointment, even though it was inconvenient timing. Nothing frugal about neglecting my teeth. And by the way — “Look ma, no cavities!”

    3. I stopped at Safeway on my way home from the dentist’s office to pick up sale items. (Tillamook ice cream was $2.99 and chicken thighs were 99¢/pound!) I also scored six bags of clearance priced mixed frozen veggies and half-off matzoh. Four bags of groceries for $41.41, which ain’t too shabby these days.

    4. • I baked another loaf of no knead artisan bread. Big bang, low bucks.
      • I was chatting with my next door neighbor, who then took a call from her husband who was at the grocery store. I needed a head of garlic so she asked for him to pick one up for me. Saved me an errand and he wouldn’t accept any many as “you always do so much for us anyway!”
      • My friend Lise picked up tea and cilantro for me as she was going to Winco. Thankfully she’ll accept reimbursement.

    5. I didn’t pay any hush money, which my attorney can corroborate.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 57 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on April 22, 2024 · 81 comments

    1. I made a loaf of no knead artisan bread to serve with breakfast. (Houseguest = fancier breakfast than normal.) So easy and all it took was three cups of flour, a half teaspoon of yeast, two teaspoons of salt and a cup-and-a-half of water. I still have some 99¢ flour from last November, which made this loaf literally cheaper than dirt!

    2. I gorged on watched The Great Canadian Throw Down pottery competition show on YouTube, which made me nostalgic for the ceramics classes I took at Antioch College in the late 1980s. I kept just two items from that era, although a couple of my friends somehow held onto my pottery pieces, including this fun vessel that lives on at my friend Maura’s house.

      There’s endless content on YouTube, (including entire movies) so you really could subscribe to zero paid streaming services and still find quality content to watch. Especially when you consider free apps like Freevee, Kanopy, Hoopla and Tubi. I then think back to my childhood of the four strikingly dull TV channels and it resets my perspective.

    3. My son’s living room is poorly lit, so he asked if I could keep an eye out for a cheap or free floor lamp, so I was jazzed to come across this functional specimen while out on a walk. Not amazing, but also not bad in any way. Not everything needs to be a show stopper.

    4. • I cut some dogwood branches from my mother’s tree to put together some floral bouquets. So gorgeous!
      • I sold a thrifted $3 American Girl doll for $40.
      • I made wacky carrot cake, (no eggs, no butter) and somehow omitted the oil, but we still ate it. The texture was dense and chewy, but it kind of grew on us.

    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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My college age nephew arrives tonight for a week-and-a-half long visit from New York and my plan is to indulge him without breaking the bank. Mind you, I’ll spoil him silly, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do so on a tight budget. My husband and I only have one niece, one nephew so we go all out when they visit.

Here’s what I’ve done to prepare to be the hostess with the mostess.

  • He’ll sleep in my adult son’s old childhood bedroom, which I’ve slowly set back up with the help of my local Buy Nothing group and a dash of creativity. I had to start from scratch refurnishing this room as my son moved his old furniture to his own apartment after college. I otherwise used what I already owned to pull the room back together and didn’t use this occasion as an excuse to buy anything new, or even used.

  • We’ll be dining out here and there, (Portland has almost endless amazing restaurant choices!) but I want to make sure it’s deliberate and not just because our days get away from us. I prepared and froze a variety of meals and also have ingredients for multiple crowd pleaser dishes that are quick to throw together. I’ll end up hosting multiple extended family meals and don’t want to be tied to the kitchen on those days. I jotted down all the planned food on a post-it note and stuck it on the front of the fridge so I won’t space out on my best laid plans.

  • We’ll indulge in some outings that cost nothing more than the exorbitant price of gasoline. Think day trips to the Oregon coast, Mount Hood, The Columbia Gorge and around the Portland area. He’d originally planned on visiting in January and we’d even booked hotel rooms for a couple days in Seattle, but we took that off the table as better weather means more stuff to do around town.

  • I wanted to give my nephew a bit of pocket money and coincidentally sold a thrifted $3 American Girl doll through Facebook Marketplace for $40 last night. I even told the buyer that I preferred cash to save myself a trip to the ATM. Also, my daughter gave me a box of Pocky a couple days ago and I saved it for guest room amenities.

I’ve hosted out of town family too many times to count and I know it can get expensive, especially when it comes to food as we’ll be out and about and then don’t have the time (or bandwidth) to pull together our standard frugal dinners. These meals can be served on almost any day of my nephew’s trip and I think of them as a favor to my future self.

Future Katy is a very lucky woman!

Do you have tips and tricks to hosting without breaking the bank? I’d love it if you shared your ideas in the comments section below!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 21 comments }

Five Tiny Frugal Things

by Katy on April 17, 2024 · 97 comments

    1. I was able to score a free gluten-free Domino pizza using the points I’d earned from buying previous gluten-free pizzas for my daughter. This may sound like no big deal, but the free pizza using points is a medium and their gluten-free pizzas only come in size small. I accomplished this finicky feat by calling the actual location, (as opposed to their central number) and explaining that I was going to order a medium, but actually wanted the small.

      If this sounds both boring and convoluted, I would agree. However, in the end I was able drop a free pizza off at my daughter’s apartment. To balance out the delivery of mail that keeps getting delivered at our house.

    2. I picked up a library hold copy of The Summer Book Club, by Susan Mallery. This was extra frugal as the library was directly on my way home from running errands.

    3. A woman in my Buy Nothing Group asked for volunteers for a free life coaching session, which she needed to renew her certification. I though this sounded interesting and an opportunity for introspection, so I raised my digital hand and made an appointment.

      She came by the house this morning and we had an interesting and intense half hour of conversation and tea. It’s not normal to immediately share private thoughts with a complete stranger, but it was somehow freeing to step away from standard conversational boundaries. Even if it was just a one off.

      My main takeaway is that there’s value to engaging in a healthy dose of self involvement. It made me think of this tired old joke:

      “But enough about me, what do you think about me?”

    4. I had a thrifted vintage flip clock that I tried to fix and then set aside as I realized that I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t have the slightest idea how to put it back together, so I brought it to my favorite vintage store and gave it to an enthusiastic employee who might have better tinkering skills than I. I called it a “clock kit.”

      To clarify, I gave it to him and do not want it back as I dismantled it at least four years ago. Tag, you’re it!

    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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{ 97 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on April 15, 2024 · 101 comments

    1. I followed through on my plan to score enough free potting soil to fill my half-barrel planters through Fred Meyer’s Fuchsia Saturday event. You have to purchase plants for your containers, so I picked up a six-pack of lettuce starts. This may seem mercenary to spend as little as possible, but I hid nothing and was certainly not the only person in line with laughably big containers for small plants. The employees were perfectly lovely and didn’t bat an eye.

      By the way, I did not schlep my heavy oak barrel planters to the store, instead bringing six big empty pots for my six tiny lettuce starts. I did need to add a fair amount of random fill, (broken bricks, concrete chunks and wintered over maple leaves) to the bottom of the barrels, which did the trick. I know it’ll shrink as the soil settles and the leaves decompose, but such is life.

    2. I bought a single $3.99 pot of basil at Trader Joe’s to fill the second barrel planter, which is an amazing bargain. I do this every year, as there end up being at least twenty or so plants crowded in the pot. I’m deliberate with how I trim the basil as it grows, which encourages them to get nice and bushy. They’re droopy and thin at the moment, but time is on my side. I know I could plant them by seed, but this hack is too cheap and easy to bypass.

    3. I friend of mine was mourning the loss of her uncle, so I cut some tulips, candytuft and blue bells from the garden and brought them to her in a thrifted vase. It didn’t cost me anything, (I already had the vase) but it gives her something beautiful to look at and a reminder that she has the love and support of her friends.

    4. • I finished listening to Happy Place by Emily Henry through the library’s free Libby app. Such a good book!
      • The “six-pack” of lettuce plants actually contained at least a dozen individual lettuce starts.
      • I dug up a volunteer oregano plant from my driveway and planted it in a terra cotta pot for the back deck. Oregano sneaks over the property line from my neighbor’s garden, which makes this a lazy frugal hack.
      • I only bought what was on my list at Trader Joe’s, (toilet paper, bananas, eggs and the afore mentioned basil plant) as I’m trying to support the company as little as possible. The company is union busting at the federal level, arguing that the National Labor Relations Board is unconstitutional. Billionaires such as Theo Albrecht Jr., (net worth 13 billion) arguing against living wages and worker rights are on my shit list! I used to shop there once a week or so, but I’ve taken it down to around once a month.

      I should straight up boycott Trader Joe’s, but they’re the only place that sells 100% recycled content toilet paper at an affordable price. Why is it my responsibility to agonize over this ethical dilemma while a German business owner happily devotes his riches to decimating American rights? It’s so infuriating!

    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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{ 101 comments }

Five Tiny Frugal Things

by Katy on April 10, 2024 · 84 comments

    1. My son and his girlfriend were visiting and he mentioned that a $70 electronic device he’d bought on Amazon wasn’t working properly. I offered to manage the return and promptly took care of of it this afternoon as it’s easy enough for me to drop it at the UPS Store in my neighborhood. Bing, bang, done!

      Don’t you wish your mama was productive like me? 🎶

    2. I got together with an old work friend yesterday, so made sure to go online so I could take my time looking through the restaurant’s menu ahead of time. I always regret when I forget to do this, as I inevitably get distracted by conversation and end up overspending and/or ordering something I regret. I’d actually eaten a late breakfast, so I ordered a simple toasted bagel and a drip coffee.

      I highly recommend this “frugal hack” for people who want to make sure they don’t inadvertently overspend when dining out.

    3. I was about to buy bandaids when my husband reminded me that we have a fully stocked first aid kit in the car. Two band aids for my wallet and a half dozen or so for the medicine cabinet!

    4. • I’m about a third of the way through the free Libby audiobook of Happy Place, by Emily Henry.
      • I walked to the library to pick up my hold on The New Joys of Yiddish, by Leo Rosten.
      • I clipped digital coupons for a pair of $6.49 loaves of Tillamook cheese at Safeway and had my husband pick them up as he was driving past the store.
      • I forgot to use the Haagen Dazs coupon when I shopped at Fred Meyer last week, (see? I’m easily distracted!) so I took the receipt and the coupon to customer service where they refunded me the four dollars and change. I didn’t run an extra errand, I just waited until my next trip.

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

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
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{ 84 comments }