Tennesseetransitions


Frugal Friday- May 6th, 2016

I’ve made the transition from country living to city living rather seamlessly. Four years ago we moved to a house “in town” that’s got a walkability score of 76, according to walkscore.com. I beg to differ, because I feel like it’s more like a 97, but I guess that’s just because I’ve tried to center my life around what’s close by: the library, coffee house, the park and our bank, to name a few things. We no longer eat at national chain restaurants that are all located in areas that aren’t walkable anyway, switching to smaller, locally-owned places that are close by (and are also willing to make substitutions when we request them, as well as having generally healthier choices.) So, if you have a good cuppa joe, a great book, and a dollar or two in your pocket, what else do you need? Bees, it turns out. I sold my hives and all my equipment to the buyer of our ‘country’ house but now that my city has passed an ordinance that allows beekeeping within the city limits, I can “have my cake and eat it too”.  

I set up my swarm trap on April 1st hoping to catch a swarm. It didn’t take long-I’ve eagerly watched my small swarm grow into a seemingly robust colony. This morning I hitched a ride with a friend to the beekeeping store (that’s out in the county-not walkable!) and noticed a sign there that said a new package of bees with a queen is selling for $135.00. I don’t have 3 pounds of bees yet but I will by summers’ end, so I figure I’ve saved about $100 already. Michael says keeping bees is akin to any expensive hobby like golfing or boating. Yes we could much more easily and economically buy honey than take care of our own hive, but my focus is really more on helping our pollinators, and that’s another story for another day.

Coming back to this week:

Monday: I’ve recently become aware of a new recycling center on the campus of ETSU that takes metals, including aluminum, as well as #1-7 plastics, plastic bags, cardboard and glass! It’s in  a location that’s quite easy for me to get to (there’s that walkability again) and I wanted to share this especially with my local peeps. I’ve been taking my metal cans to church, where a friend takes them home with her for recycling in her community. This isn’t necessarily a money saver for me, but it DOES offer me an alternative to taking my #5 plastics to Asheville. What’s that old saw? “Time is Money?” That may  be true too, but saving plastic from landfulls (my new word) is priceless! It ain’t much to look at but here it is. All the receptacles are well labeled, making it easy. *Local Friends-message me for directions

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Tuesday: I had an old tote bag whose straps had broken so I stuffed it with an even older pillow and made it into a NEW pillow for my front porch!

peace tote

It’s made of a waterproof nylon, had a zipper opening AND matched the seat cushion. Repurposing is so much better than recycling. And funner too.

Wednesday: Went into a nearby thrift store and found something that I’m always looking for in such places, yet never find. OK not ever, because I DID find pyrex containers with tight lids. Retro for real. 99 cents each. No BPA.

glass jars

Thursday: Both of the free Japanese Maple tree seedlings that I scored at last year’s annual tree giveaway made it through their first winter and seem to be thriving this spring! I went back to this year’s giveaway and picked up another Japanese Maple sapling as well as a Redbud. Now both of them seem to have made it through their transitions after being planted and hopefully will thrive too. Potted Japanese Maples sell for about $50-$75 each and will soon be beautiful additions to my landscape. Savings for all four? About $175 I’d say!

Friday:  About 5 years ago I donated my Troybilt tiller to the community garden. It seems as though it needs constant repairs to keep it running smoothly and with little to no operating funds, those repair bills have been a challenge. If I’d only known that all I had to do was to formally donate the tiller by writing a handwritten letter stating that the tiller is now the property of the Parks and Rec Department, I could’ve saved our money and sanity in having ‘volunteers’ (that’s a misnomer if there ever was one!) conduct the repairs. Some changes in the department have put me in direct contact with the person in the know. As I write this, the tiller is being repaired at no cost to the gardeners by the city’s repair shop guys. I also went to pick up my personal Mantis tiller from the repair shop a few weeks ago and willingly paid the bill for having the carburetor rebuilt. After starting once, it wouldn’t start again so I took it back to the shop where they then told me it needed a new carburetor-another $59.95. I complained and they agreed to replace it for free. Savings: $59.95!

Just as a matter of course, I did a number of things this week that although none were spectacular or special, all helped me to keep more money in my bank account. I hung out clothes to dry instead of using the dryer, dried fresh herbs from my garden, added my shredded documents to my compost bin rather than bagging them and sending to the landfull, used my electric pressure cooker to make oatmeal for breakfast (3 minutes) and Katmandu Stew for supper (15 minutes), took a free yoga class at the park, and planted Roma beans that were given to me by a friend. Lowering my carbon footprint on the earth, saving energy, helping honeybees, eating and living a healthy lifestyle, growing my own food-PRICELESS!!!!

Remember: “Thrift is liberation rather than deprivation”.

Have a great weekend friends!



Frugal Friday-Summertime, and the Living is Easy

I finally reached my goal of spending under $150 on groceries for a month: our total food bill for June was $124.08! As happy as I am about that, the reality is that we had a fair amount of food stocked up in the freezer and pantry and our garden provided us with a fair amount of fresh stuff too. Even so, it took planning ahead to use what we had on hand and to make creative use of it..sometimes with just a bit of this or that..a little hunk of cheese or a few broccoli sprouts, a couple of eggs or a few veggies. But here’s the take away lesson for me: we actually ate healthier, with a huge emphasis on plants! The only treats we had were fresh cherries and grapes, a few leftover potluck brownies one day, occasional whole wheat graham cracker sammiches made with just a smear of peanut butter, along with home canned applesauce, raisins, prunes or homemade yogurt sweetened with freezer strawberry jam. In other words, because even our snacks were mostly whole, unprocessed foods, it kept our food budget under control as well as my cholesterol! Our main meal of the day used a regular rotation of potatoes, rice, pasta and beans as the base. We did barbeque some chicken thighs once or twice and grilled some veggie burgers too. Lots of salads, slaws and large side portions of fresh garden stuff made up the daily ‘blue plate special’. That healthier eating, combined with some troublesome side effects from the cholesterol-lowering pill I was taking, encouraged me to discontinue the statins, saving me another $13 a month! (And yeah, the side effect of rather serious pain in my neck and shoulders is completely gone after just a few weeks of abstaining. I’m sticking with healthy-keep reading…)

Monday: Made some more strawberry freezer jam from the last of the “June” berries. I love the stuff, but never seem to make enough to last the year…

20150515_155206Now I’ll pot up a bunch of the new runners from the old plants and replant them in the fall after I’ve cleared this 2 year old bed out. Using this rotation I never have to buy fresh strawberries or new plants. Savings? priceless!

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Tuesday: Even though I carry a major medical health insurance policy it only covers well, major medical charges. So, I’ve discovered my local county health department will give me exams and tests based on my income, which is low enough that the charges are really small. Today I got my yearly female exam..for the grand total of $2.25! Savings? How much is good health and peace of mind worth?

Health Reform

Wednesday: When life gives you tomatoes, make pasta sauce! When life gives you giant spaghetti squash, use it! With an overabundance of both, and a really full day ahead of me, I decided to put my new Instapot Electric Pressure Cooker to the test. I first turned it to ‘saute’ for the the onions and garlic to soften, then, after adding the tomatoes, along with  our home-grown peppers, onions, garlic, summer squash, basil and oregano, I turned it to ‘slow cook’ for 6 hours. It was quite possibly the best sauce we’ve ever had. All I had to do when I got home late in the day was put some garlic bread slices in the toaster oven and cook the spaghetti squash in the microwave, creating very little extra heat in my open-air kitchen. I’ll be making more of this as the summer progresses and canning it for winter time meals. Oh Lawdy it’s good! Oh yeah, the secret? A few teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce and a teaspoon of sugar to cut the acidity. I bought this miracle pot last week when Amazon had their 20th anniversary sale and it was over half off the regular $234 price at $99.00. This appliance will allow me to replace my pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker and yogurt maker, and I can avoid  having to use my 220 volt stove-top burner for cooking dried beans and the many things I normally use my pressure cooker for. Plus it will enable me to eliminate 4 good-sized appliances from my kitchen! Sometimes you have to spend money to save money, but that shouldn’t be used as an excuse for mindless shopping:

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Thursday: When I bought my current watch I specifically looked for one with a replaceable band and battery. The band on this 4-year-old watch is still fine but I had to replace the battery today. It cost less than $4.00 and the store took the back off and inserted the new one for me for free!  Savings over the price of a new watch? About $50.00!

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Friday: Does  your cat hack up fur balls too? I learned a long time ago when I hear him make that awful noise to put a dab of Vaseline on top of one paw-quick! before he knows I’ve done it!- and then he limps around as though he’s stepped on a land mine before he licks it off, but it does the trick. I saw some furball ‘stuff’  in the pet store recently, and the first ingredient was petroleum jelly. Only their little tiny tube was almost $4! My large jar was bought years ago for about a buck! Savings: At least $3.00 and a quiet cat. See how he’s holding his paw out to show me how mistreated he was? And why does Simon like to lie in the gravel all the time?

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 Beyond the dollars saved however, being frugal goes hand in hand with being more aware and more conscious of the purchases we make, how we live our lives and how we treat the earth. A reader asked me last week after I’d written about making fire starters for camping if I was aware that lint from clothes dryers probably contains harmful chemicals and substances that when burned, are released into the air. I hadn’t thought about that! Does that mean I can’t enjoy a campfire? Noooo, it simply means I shouldn’t burn dryer lint. I read online that the Boy Scouts have even stopped recommending it. Pine cones and other natural dried tinder make good firestarters too, and they don’t release toxins when burned. But what about all that dryer lint that the world’s electric dryers are producing?? Come on, we all know the answer to that one: hang  your clothes to dry-on lines, racks or fences. You’ll save money on  your electric bill, you’ll produce far less CO2’s, you won’t have to repair and replace that electric dryer-ever!- and the Boy Scouts will be happy. Win-win-win-win!

 




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