Friday, February 18, 2011

Little foxes spoil the vines.

We all know the scenario by now: put that $4-a-day-latte toward your mortgage payment and you'll shave off 8 years of payments, right? We've heard these stats so often that we tend to glaze over when we hear them. So why then am I blogging about it? I suppose it's because I need to be reminded. You see, I'm not the $4-a-day-latte kinda gal. I buy generic coffee and brew it a home. I don't spend $30 a week on my nails--and if you look at them, you can tell. But you know what? I'm almost certain that on most weeks, I waste at least $25.00. It might be a meal at a restaurant when I have plenty of food at home, or maybe some too-good-to-be-true deal at a yard sale. Maybe I kept the heat up high and took extra long showers...or I succumbed to the candy at the check-out counter. I don't keep track, but I am certain that cumulatively I waste at least 25 bucks. So what does that look like over time?

$25 X 52 weeks = $1300.00 X 10 years =$13,000.00 or X 30 years = $39,000.00. Adjust that for inflation, and you're talking a serious chunk of change. It really could put a dent in that mortgage. Here are a few other stats I saw recently:

Expense Today Over 10 years Over 30 years

Pizza delivery $25 a week $18,661 $158,731

Coffee/donut $4 a day $22,389 $190,453

Smoking $35 a week $26,125 $222,223

Manicure $40 a week $29,857 $253,969

Lunch at work $10 a day* $37,322 $317,462

Golf $75 a week $55,983 $634,924

*work days only

Maybe you don't have a problem with this, but I'm pretty frugal, and I know I do. Dave Ramsey has a saying, "Live like no one else today so you can live like no one else tomorrow." We all like to complain about how the cost of living is about we put all that effort into saving instead?

Share one thing you've cut back on this year...and figure out your 10 year savings. That should make you smile!!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Tightwad life update: free hotels and big ebates!

Sitting here tonight at a Super 8 in Pennsylvania. And oddly enough, I am all by myself. This hasn't happened in over 20 years. Just dropped Abby off for a college visit--Grove City College. She is staying with a friend in her dorm room and they are, I'm just certain, having a college girl giggle fest. She has an interview in the morning, her 4th in 7 days. 3 were for scholarships---lots of free meals; colleges really know how to schmooze. So now the wait begins to see what offers she gets. Praying that God gives us clarity. It has been an interesting journey and I am thankful for every minute we have together. I am so blessed to have teenage children with whom I can have mature and meaningful conversations and of whom I am so very proud! More than anything I want them to be men and women of character who love God wholeheartedly and who serve others unabashedly. the mommy soapbox...

On the tightwad home front:

My two night hotel stay is FREE!! I dropped Abby off and went into the local Mickey-D's for the free WiFi (remember the days when we just stopped for the bathrooms???)  I planned to book a hotel on Expedia or Hotwire, but decided on a whim to check out an old Wyndham Rewards account that I have but no longer use. Generally, you have to book at least 2 weeks in advance to get free nights, but I decided to try anyway. Sure enough, I had enough points left to get 2 nights free...booked at McDonalds and walked into the lobby 10 minutes later where the receptionist printed off my ticket and told me the hours for the FREE breakfast. Nice! I get to enjoy a quiet night and no one will take the remote from me:).

The mail box has been overflowing lately with free samples and coupons...tonight I won a coupon for a free Stouffer's Entree. I spend maybe 5 minutes 3 or 4 days a week playing the contests at You'll see the link. I don't enter them all...generally just 4 or 5 of them. It's fun and free and most weeks I win at least a coupon for.  I've won his and her LL Bean mountain bikes, a cool teakettle, lots of coupons and, as many of you know, we won the Chrysler contest. It's fun to win and share the prizes...but you can't win if you don't enter!

Remember when I told you all about ebates?? I tend to sign up for these things and then get busy and forget about them. Well, I received my first ebates check for $95.00 this right? Totally unexpected. So what's the scoop on that? Ebates is a program that gives you cash back on nearly every online purchase. Almost every store in on ebates. You also get money for referring others, so to those who signed up...thanks!! If you haven't yet and you already shop online, I can tell you it is obviously worth it! It's like getting paid every time you shop. Here's the link:

Happy Dealing!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

26 uses for the humble coffee filter


Cheaper and more useful than papertowels, coffee filters can be used for many things you may not have thought about. (This post is compliments of my friend, Vergie....thanks!!!:)

You can buy 1,000 at the Dollar Tree for $1.00, even the large ones...

1. Cover bowls or dishes when cooking in the microwave. Coffee filters make excellent covers.

2. Clean windows, mirrors, and chrome... Coffee filters are lint-free so they'll leave windows sparkling.

3. Protect China by separating your good dishes with a coffee filter between each dish.

4. Filter broken cork from wine. If you break the cork when opening a wine bottle, filter the wine through a coffee filter.

5. Protect a cast-iron skillet. Place a coffee filter in the skillet to absorb moisture and prevent rust.

6. Apply shoe polish. Ball up a lint-free coffee filter.

7. Recycle frying oil. After frying, strain oil through a sieve lined with a coffee filter.

8. Weigh chopped foods. Place chopped ingredients in a coffee filter on a kitchen scale.

9. Hold tacos. Coffee filters make convenient wrappers for messy foods.

10 Stop the soil from leaking out of a plant pot. Line a plant pot with a coffee filter to prevent the soil from going through the drainage holes.

11. Prevent a Popsicle from dripping. Poke one or two holes as needed in a coffee filter.

12. Do you think we used expensive strips to wax eyebrows? Use strips of coffee filters..

13. Put a few in a plate and put your fried bacon, French fries, chicken fingers, etc on them.. It soaks out all the grease.

14. Keep in the bathroom. They make great "razor nick fixers."

15. As a sewing backing. Use a filter as an easy-to-tear backing for embroidering or appliqueing soft fabrics.

16. Put baking soda into a coffee filter and insert into shoes or a closet to absorb or prevent odors.

17. Use them to strain soup stock and to tie fresh herbs in to put in soups and stews.

18 Use a coffee filter to prevent spilling when you add fluids to your car.

19. Use them as a spoon rest while cooking and clean up small counter spills.

20. Can use to hold dry ingredients when baking or when cutting a piece of fruit or veggies.. Saves on having extra bowls to wash.

21. Use them to wrap Christmas ornaments for storage.

22. Use them to remove fingernail polish when out of cotton balls.

23. Use them to sprout seeds. Simply dampen the coffee filter, place seeds inside, fold it and place it into a zip-lock plastic bag until they sprout.

24. Use coffee filters as blotting paper for pressed flowers. Place the flowers between two coffee filters and put the coffee filters in phone book..

25. Use as a disposable "snack bowl" for popcorn, chips, etc.


Friday, February 11, 2011

Crazy Patchwork Quilting

Let me just start out by saying, I am not a "quilter;" rather, I am a person who has made a few quilts...very small quilts. When I was just a little girl-maybe 7 or 8-my mother taught me how to make quilts for my dolls. I used a 3" square piece of cardboard as a template to cut the squares and then learned to both hand stitch and machine sew them together. They're not fancy, but I still have them.

Like many hobbies, quilting has turned into big business, and one can spend hundreds of dollars on a pass-time that started out as a way to use up old, otherwise worthless material. Today government regulations are such that you can't even sell a quilt that has used batting as filling. (Don't even get me started.) I was blessed to have a mom who quilted the old fashioned way. She had a big wooden box (5'X2'X1.5'-handmade, of course) in the attic that housed her scrap material and partially finished quilts. Sadly, this was lost in the fire. She wasn't a hand-quilter, per se; she worked on an antique treadle-type Singer sewing machine up until she was in her eighties.  Her quilts generally looked like the one in this picture, minus the hand stitching. She never worried about colors or thread counts. She very randomly sewed together like materials-cotton, polyester, flannel-nothing was off-limits- in "crazy" patterns. Sometimes she would make little squares, then alternate them with a certain color and use an old sheet for backing. The filling for her quilts was usually old quilts. She never, to my knowledge, bought anything more than needles and thread; she just used up things around the house and old bags of clothes that were given to her. One of my favorites was a quilt she made from my Dad's flannel shirts (after he passed away). It wasn't even a quilt, really, as it had no filling, she just sewed the squares together and then backed the whole thing with an old bedspread she had.  Her purpose in quilting was to use up material and to "keep people warm." I have a twin-size crazy patchwork quilt that she made me when I went off to college and I have smaller rather random baby quilts that she made for each of my children. Some are crazy patchwork, some have her embroidery, and all of them are a different size. I will give them to my kids when they have their first babies, and I'm sure they will be more cherished than any number of expensive new items.

I have several boxes of material that I have saved over the years and I have grand delusions that "someday" I will turn these into beautiful quilts to give to my own children who will  stand in awe at my domestic prowess. At this point in my life, I'm realistic enough to admit that this probably won't happen, but it's a happy thought.

I'm blogging on the subject because I've been thinking more and more about traditionally frugal pass-times that have turned into expensive hobbies. Not that that is always a bad thing, it's just sad in some ways and it causes people to think that any given hobby is beyond their reach either because it costs too much or because they would have to take multiple classes to learn how to do it. And I don't think this is the case--my mom was proof of that.

So what about you? Have you ever not done something because you think it's just too hard or that you don't have the money? Think smaller, and there just might be a way.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Baby Miranda...a very true story

I f you think you are having a bad day, read this story from a friend of a friend and be overwhelmed....this man knows what is it to walk with God.

On Saturday, February 5, 2011, a tragedy occurred. Chad and Sara Cole were just a few weeks away from celebrating the birth of their first baby when a horrible car accident happened, resulting in the untimely passing of Sara. Their unborn child, Miranda, was delivered approximately forty five minutes after the accident. Miranda was put on life support at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital.

Last night, Tuesday, the 8th, Baby Miranda was unhooked from life support. Here is what her Daddy wrote this morning:

"I cannot begin to express my gratitude for, nor my amazement at, what has happened here. Never in my life have I felt so surrounded with love. This has been the worst three days of my life, and yet, at the same time, it has been three glorious days, full of shekinah glory.

As I prepared to hold my darling daughter to my chest this evening, I was terrified that I would break...literally break...into pieces. My fears were unjustified. The hand of God so reached down and touched me, that I was able to sing my sweet angel into heaven--into the arms of Jesus and her mommy.That peace stayed with me while I bathed her. It covered me like a deep blanket of snow while I dressed her for the first time. It kept a smile on my face while we took pictures and I was able to introduce her to her extended families without all those wires and tubes sticking out of her. You are all responsible for that peace.

God's miracle to me was giving me strength beyond my own. Endurance that I could never have mustered. Helping me carry my daughter proudly down long, silent corridors as we approached the gathered family and friends who were singing upon our arrival:

All creatures of our God and King
Lift up your voice and with us sing,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thou burning sun with golden beam,
Thou silver moon with softer gleam!
O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou rushing wind that art so strong
Ye clouds that sail in Heaven along,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou rising moon, in praise rejoice,
Ye lights of evening, find a voice!
Thou flowing water, pure and clear,
Make music for thy Lord to hear,
O praise Him! Alleluia!

Thou fire so masterful and bright,
That givest man both warmth and light.
Dear mother earth, who day by day
Unfoldest blessings on our way,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
The flowers and fruits that in thee grow,
Let them His glory also show.

And all ye men of tender heart,
Forgiving others, take your part,
O sing ye! Alleluia!
Ye who long pain and sorrow bear,
Praise God and on Him cast your care!
And thou most kind and gentle Death,
Waiting to hush our latest breath,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou leadest home this child of God,
And Christ our Lord the way hath trod.

I am blessed, truly blessed this early morning. I do realize that dark clouds are on the horizon. The hurting will not go away, or end, just because today is done. It's 3:45AM, and Stevie, our 10 year old cat, is wandering around the house crying for his "mommy." All he knows is that he hasn't seen her in 3 days and misses her. His simple desire to sit on her lap and enjoy a good scratch brings tears to my eyes. No matter how hard I try, I know that I can't provide for him what he'd grown to love and desire from Sara. He sits on the step to the family room, watching me type, and I can see his questions in his eyes, "Where is she? When will she be home?" He occasionally glances at the back door, as if he expects her to walk in any moment.

This house already feels like a shell, an empty reflection of what it once was. I've had this same feeling every time I looked at myself in a mirror over the past 3 days. I just didn't recognize the man who was looking back. He seemed familiar, but not quite the same as what it felt like he should look like.

The only thing that keeps the dark waters of despair and depression from flooding over me at this time is the levy of Christ's love. A levy woven from the fabric of your prayers. While God may not have given me my heart's desire, He has stopped up the flood-waters. He has thrown me a life jacket that keeps me from drowning in the deep pits and pools that Satan would love to pull me down into.

Thank you, one thousand times, one million times, thank you!
O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Chad Cole

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The tampon alternative...the keeper.

OK, here's one that should get some comments.

I first learned about The Keeper in The Tightwad Gazette back in the 90s...and I ordered one. I used it almost exclusively for 7-8 years (I used traditional items when travelling would make this product inconvenient), but then when we moved several times in several years, my keeper got lost. I considered buying a new one, but at the time was in my late 30s and didn't know how much longer I would be using feminine products. Now, at 42 1/2, I wish I'd bought another one. If I didn't get boxes of free pads/tampons using rebates/coupons--of if I was more mindful of environmental issues--I would order one today.

Basically there are two sizes, one for pre and one for post childbirth. There are also two different materials used so that those with latex allergies can purchase with no fear. Here's a blurb from their website:
"The Keeper is a natural gum rubber cup and The Keeper Mooncup is a medical grade silicone cup - both similar to the material that is used in baby bottle nipples - that is worn internally, holding (instead of absorbing) monthly menstrual flow and does not contain animal byproducts! If you have latex allergies, we highly recommend The Keeper Mooncup. Either cup can be worn safely through the night. To insert the cup, you first hold the cup between your fingers and insert. The cup forms a seal which keeps fluid inside the cup. It will not absorb or disrupt your natural vaginal moisture. It is environmentally friendly to the earth and to yourself! No paper products to throw away month after month. The cup holds one ounce of menstrual flow. (An average woman's entire monthly flow is about 2 to 4 ounces, or so they say!) And it's so comfortable - you need to make sure not to forget you're wearing it! To remove it you simply pinch the bottom of the cup to release the seal, then bear down gently with your pelvic muscles to help move it downward. Remove slowly, slightly tilting the cup, and empty the contents into the toilet. Rinse or wipe and you're ready to reinsert. Between cycles you should wash The Keeper sufficiently with warm water and a mild antibacterial soap or a mild vinegar and water solution. (DO NOT USE HARSH CHEMICALS.)"  Check out the rest of the info and order page here:

The cost is $35.00 plus shipping and if used exclusively, it obviously pays for itself rather quickly.

My personal opinion? It worked great! I had very little leakage. I did wear a pantyliner on heavier flow days and I sometimes wore pads at night.

If you are into au naturale and/or saving the earth (or just some moolah)...this might be just your thing!!

Any thoughts? Has anyone used one of these?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Eggless Chocolate Cake

I promised some friends that I would blog this recipe. It is my favorite chocolate cake recipe of all time. Very moist. I actually got the recipe when I was in Colombia, SA. It requires no refrigerated ingredients and therefore, is good for missionaries living without.

Wacky Cake
3 cups flour
2 cups of sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 teas. baking soda

Mix above ingredients (I ususally sift them), then mix below ingredients and then mix together. You can add chocolate chips if you like.

2 tablespoons vinigar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups water
2/3 cup of oil

Mix very well. It always looks too wet/runny, but it's not! Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.  For a 9X13 or two 8 or 9 inch round pans. Yummmmm!

And here is a link to a contest I entered in honor of my mom. One of our "angels" in Cleveland-a man who goes by Captain Dennis and who did so much for our family told me of yet another way he gives back. He said he enters lots of radio and other free contests and then gives the prize or half the money to charities. I thought this was a pretty neat idea and one that I would here's to my mama....and to the good captain! Brickfish Social Media: Nita Moores Vote if you'd like and if you aren't supporting another wonderful entry. Thanks!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The homeless...the guilt... and 10 new freebies.

Today Abby and Lee and I went out with a group in our town who minister to the homeless. We met in the basement of a church and prepared about 150 hotdogs and hit the streets with Pastor Dan.  (This picture was not from our trip, but it could have been...we didn't bring a camera). It is raining here today and about 40 degrees-- and the police were out in the area, so we came upon several empty camps, but what a blessing; a blessing to expose my kids to their know, the "love your neighbor as yourself" neighbors. Dan has such a heart for the down and out...the folks that are invisible. We brought kerosene to some "abandoned" buildings that these folks live in, without elecrticity or water, and we prayed on the street corners with "the girls." It was, in the words of my 12 year old, "eye opening." Dan has church on Sunday with these folks, but it's not your traditional service. Just a bunch of folding tables in the church basement where they eat a meal together and share communion, prayer, fellowship and the Word. No Sunday clothes, no offering plate, no organ music...just a CD.

If you are old and cynical like me, you know these folks are there. You have a vague gnawing in your heart that you SHOULD do something, but it's just too hard to get up early on Saturday and give up your free time. I know. I live in the land of guilt. I work. I have seven people in my own house who have constant needs. I give money. And you know the worst part? Even when I actually do get involved, I feel guilty that I don't do it more often, or that I don't always have the greatest attitude.

But today was incredible. It was filled with glimpses of Gods' grace and love. I was reminded that we are all equal at the foot of the cross. That Christ's blood is just as much for them as it is for me and my middle class cronies.  I suspect we'll be working with Pastor Dan again...if I can drag myself out of my comfortable bed on Saturday, that is.

And since I haven't been blogging much lately here's a list of 10 new freebies just for you!

Get a free bottle of Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel. Click here: to take the 5 question quiz. You can keep playing until you get them all right. You register, then the quiz comes up in the left column on a new screen. If you don't know the answer to a question, there is a "CLUE" right above the answers. You have to get all 5 right to 'win' the free footwear cleaning gel. You can win a free can once every 3 months. (thanks refundcents)

Coupon good for a FREE 12 pack of 3X3 sticky notes (like post-its) from Staples, good only on 2/4 & 2/5:

Free sample or Emergen-C Vitamin drink mix:

Free I (Heart) Pyrex potholder here (follow the links):

Free Oxy Skincare sample:

Free sample of You-T cranberry drink:

Free sample of Quaker Oatmeal Squares:

Here are a few facebook freebies:

Free sample of the new Cheezits (Asiago cheese, baby!) Click here:

Coupon for a free cup of Yoplait (this appears to be new, as I had already done this once & could do it again): (click on the appropriate tab)

Free Origins Plantscription sample:

Happy Day to you!