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Blog Posts on My Frugal Life:

Our Frugal Funeral Trip to Michigan
Thursday, May 30, 2013 | By pamphyila

It was a nice trip - but a sad occasion.  My mother-in-law died suddenly and we found we were bound to Upper Michigan for a week for the funeral. My husband got the time off as bereavement - so that helped...) We flew no-frills SW Airlines, which allows you to carry more bags without cost than other airlines.  And there is no food on the plane, but we made sure to eat well before we departed, and had plenty of water with us from the airport. (They make you abandon your water bottles at security, so have a disposable...)This is probably old hat to anyone who travels a lot - but I somehow hadn't flown in years, so it was fairly new to me.  Also remembered to wear slip-off shoes with pants stockings (and jeans) to help go through the check point. I was also glad I had a book to read - because there was no in-flight movie or music! Also, I marked the bags with gold-colored ribbons, so we could identify them when they came out on the turntable.  

(Hubby had run out to our local Goodwill to buy our luggage - 4 bags for about $20! and they were perfectly nice....)

Once there, we rented a car with a discount from SouthWest - They tried to sell us insurance that was more than the daily rental costs - but we have coverage on our auto insurance, so we passed that by! Wheelie luggage of the sort we had made it easier to go through the airport without renting a chart - and we had packed fairly light - leaving room for anything we took back.  So, all in all, we didn't incur any airline fees beyond normal. Southwest had no designated seating, and we had gotten our tickets late (and there is no accounting for bereavement nowadays) - so we were the LAST on the plane - but on the way back we remembered to confirm EARLY and then got in the middle of the plane. (And on the way back, we took one of the bags as a carryon - because it had breakable things in it...)

Once there, we stayed at our mother-in-law's old place along with hubby's brother Peter, and we were glad that we could be with him at this hard time.  There was some planning for the funeral - but my mother-in-law had planned most of it out beforehand - so all was left was to get the lilacs she loved from local bushes (and somewhat force them to bloom by putting them in warm water...) and putting up her art work on easels in the vestibule of the church - One of her daughters put together a big photo collage of her life and family - and there was also a book of family photos to look at. Both very nice ideas,  Afterwards the people in the church had a nice hot lunch for us, too.

I found a place to wear my bargain thriftshop black Chico's jacket top, over a long-sleeved black tee, and with soft pants. - Everything traveled very well, and nothing needed ironing! I had run across a natural pearl necklace at a steal price at the local Goodwill the day before (I always check out the thrift stores, etc.) and I wore it to the funeral - not telling anyone when I was complimented on it that I had just acquired it that way! I don't think they knew at Goodwill that it was real - but it was handknotted and had the right sheen and texture and weight.  It was worth at least several times what I paid for it.  Who would think about finding pearls in Upper Michigan?  And my hair held up nicely - expensive haircuts do have their value, as they grow out so nicely.

The service was very nice and simple - and her musical daughter and her husband and friends played 2 gospel hymns - which made the service more personal and memorable. The night before all the children (with children and step-children, they numbered seven, plus THEIR children and spouses - ) we had a BBQ with discount steaks and homemade salad and local pies and lots of beer - and listened to the bluegrass group rehearse over the evening. We all talked, and my husband caught up with everyone, as he hadn't been home in too long.

The rest of the time hubby and his brother caught up with old friends - I went antiquing and found a STEAL in a 19th/early 20th C. German bisque doll dressed as a Dutch girl- which I got for $25 - and which is probably - according to my internet research worth at least $125-165! I never thought I would be able to afford another bisque doll for my small doll collection! 

We also drove around and saw places they used to go for picnics - and there was more antiquing and I found some nice blue-green glass insulators - lovely color and ANOTHER short strand of pearls I think may be cultured - for $1. We also found a handmade Packer wooden plaque which we bought and gave to Peter - as he has a collection of Packer memorabilia and wouldn't have anything like THAT.  We drove around my late mother-in-law's old car - which had gas - and which was larger and more comfortable than the smaller rental - 

We also headed out to a resort that hubby's mother and father had liked to stay in. There were deals on a game of golf - so hubby and Peter played a "memorial golf classic" in this course which is beautiful and on an island, so it is surrounded by a river.  They have a Friday night fish fry at the lodge (Al Capone is rumored to have stayed there) - a tradition in those parts - and quite inexpensive.

One day after the funeral we drove up to Door County  (you have to swing down and around to get up to the peninsula - saw an historic light house  and went up and visited again with one of  the sisters.  It is beautiful country. Pure Michigan, as the ad campaigns say and all that green spring nature was beautiful and a balm, giving one a sense of continuity.  There are visitor centers in both Wisconsin and Michigan (they are across the river from each other here) - and there are bountiful brochures and guides, and even a booklet that had B&W postcard pix of the lighthouses (there are HUNDREDS in this area!) Hubby had breakfast with several old friends, and generally re-connected to his roots. It IS a different life up there! Coming back to the pace of even Milwaukee - where we flew out - is a big change! And the people did look different in LAX!

P.S. If you are up in that neck of the woods,  I recommend the pasties - meat pies said to originate with the Cornish miners who worked in that area, who brought them to work with them.  It's a real local specialty! 

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Friday, December 10, 2010 | By leftthesanebehind

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Bentcrazy39's blog.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010 | By bentcrazy39

Ok folks I'm visually impared that's why the xlarge font. That said. This year I'm using the Greene Trails Cycling Classic to train for my Cross State Attempt. Will be using that as a Race Across America Qulifier. I Own a EZ 3 SX that I've had for about 7 years now. I've litterly ran that thing in to the ground and keep getting it fixed every year. It's my only transportation and I love it. I wouldn't sell it for no amount of money well may seel it for a cool Mil. but that won't happen lol.

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Encounter with Hyena
Sunday, May 16, 2010 | By leloba

We are a group of friends who love to go on Safari every year.

 usually we are four to eight vehicles, each vehicle with a couple we have to do the planning well in advance. The routes, the meals and who is taking what, we are in the bundu and the trip will be self catering. Each couple will be responsible for a dinner and a breakfast depending on the duration of the trip. We all help, but you will be responsible for your turn's food for the group.

Some of the friends have well equiped canopies on their vehicles and others Roof Top Tents and special boxes for all their provisions. All the vehicles are fitted with two way radio's and GPS. 

  It was late afternoon when we stopped at our camping site in the Savuti Game Reserve in Botswana. It was our turn to cook.    We pitched our tent on top of the Pajero, where we feel  safe  to sleep, away from al the dangerous animals prowling in the camp at night.

The other ladies went to the showers, quite a distance from where we were camping.

It was already dark when everybody  finished eating and as the tent was already standing on the roof  we could not go to the showers, unless you want to be a lion's meal for the night, for Savuti is well known for it's lions. They even take on the Elephants. 

 Robert made me some  hot water and poured it into our canvas wash basin.  The camp was quiet, everybody was sleeping, some snoring, tired after the long journey.

 I was washing my feet, with one foot in the basin when I heard something behind me. At first I was to  scared to look, It was dark moon,  I turned my head slowly and looked, the light from my headlamp shined in the eyes of a  the huge hyena, I lost my balance and fell in the dust as the hyena disapeared in the bushes.

From sheer shock I giggled softly, thinking how it would have looked if somebody have seen the whole episode. I know I am very lucky to tell the story, there are gruesome stories bout the hyena, one of the most dangerous predators in Africa.  


I want to quote from Patience Strong "Golden Hours":  There is One who walks beside you in the darkness and the light.  






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Organizing my crafts
Thursday, January 21, 2010 | By latrtatr


With a long flight in my near future I am busy planning which crafts to take with me and how to pack them.  With regret I don't have the project ready I would like to take and rather than hurry the preliminary steps which I know I would regret later I will make myself wait to get into it when I get home.

For this time I will just take a set of pillowcases that I have kept for such a trip. I try to keep a simple project put together in a clear gallon zip lock bag ready to throw in my bag just for this purpose. My travel projects must be small, flat and simple that I don't have to think to hard to work on. I want to be able to work on the project and still visit with people or look around at the scenery. Airlines allow small scissors or nail clippers so sewing projects work well for me.

I always travel with a book also, in case I can't get to sleep at night. Sometimes a motel is noisy, the bed is too hard, at my age hot flashes can be an unwanted guest and frankly sometimes I am too excited to sleep so a good book will relax me.

An oversized canvas bag works great for me as a carry on. I stuff my purse, camera, craft project, book, snack and a set of "undies" all in it and it stays in my possession at all times. That way I am set if my bags don't get to my destination for some reason. I don't ever pack more than will fit in that canvas bag and one large carry on bag that will fit in the overhead compartment so there is no chance of loosing my things but still pack the "undies" out of habit I guess. A girl just never knows.

This trip is to Texas, stay with my in-laws and then into Mexico to OUCH get my teeth pulled by the family dentist. On my numerous trips over I will switch from my purse to a fanny pack, and with my build they look so cute, but for safety's sake I will swallow my pride. Only the necessities will be put in it which means no credit cards and no cell phone. A friend used his cell phone while in Mexico once and somehow his number was tracked, stolen and he then got a very large phone bill the next month. A good lesson for the rest of us.

One more hint I would like to share that I have enjoyed through the years involves bringing smiles to children that I run across on my ventures. I keep small change in a handy pocket, now we all know children should be taught not to talk to or take anything from strangers, but there isn't any rule about my showing a child when I just happen to spot a nickel on the floor and they can pick it up is there. Most of the time the parents don't know I have put it there but if they happen to catch me they go along with it with a smile and silent "thank you." 

If you have traveling plans in your future, be safe and take time to enjoy the little things that bring you pleasure.

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Back in the United States
Thursday, October 22, 2009 | By

After a 8.5 months of waiting my husband was finally given his VISA to the U.S. and we arrived in July of 09.  We are now married in both countries! 

The next step for us to be able to keep him here is to get him a "green card."  This process thus far has cost over 3,000 U.S. dollars, not thrifty by any means. So far I have been able to do all the paperwork myself saving in lawyer fees, otherwise it would have been a lot more expensive.

After he has received his green card he will be able to work in the U.S.  The Visa at first will be a 2 year conditional Visa and as long as we stay married it will be extended to 10 years.  Once he receives his green card he can then start the process to become a citizen.  At that point he would be able to hold a U.S. passport and vote.  I am sure that whole process will also cost a bundle. 

As we patiently wait once again for more paperwork to go through, we are enjoying our life together in the states but also miss something about Viet Nam everyday. I guess that is the life we are set out to have.  No matter where we live one of us will miss our other country. 


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Our preparation to see The Mouse
Saturday, July 18, 2009 | By babychicken9531

Well our long awaited family trip is approaching quickly. We have our reservations and plane tickets. The excitement in the house is almost overwhelming. This is a trip we have been planning for over a year. We scrimped and saved and are finally taking the family to Disney World. Both my husband and I have been to Disney many times. In fact the two of us were in Disney (without the children) for a working trip in March. We had a wonderful time and only wanted to bring the children more. We have 4 children 1 son; age 15, 3 daughters; ages 12 (she'll turn 13 in Disney), 7 and 4. The 3 older children have been to Disney at one time or another but we have not made it all together as a family since baby #3 was born.

Since we have been several time we have planned this trip using some of the things we have learned. First off we knew we wanted to stay at the resort. The reason for staying at the resort is transportation. Disney will pick you up and drop you off at the airport, this eliminates the need to rent a car. The bus ride from the Orlando airport is about 40 mins or so, but on the bus ride you watch a film about Disney Cruise line. Ok, another Disney commercial. Disney just wants to sell me more, but I think it does add to the anticipation of finally making it to Disney for the kids. Now on this trip we are staying with family a few days before we go to the resort, so G-ma will drop us off at our hotel. We will take Disney transport back to the airport after our stay.

The transportation doesn't end at the airport. When you stay on site, transportation to all the parks are included. Depending on where you stay and where you are going there are buses, boats, and monorails to get you to anything Disney.

We have decided to stay in the All-Star Music. I am a fan of the All-Star hotels. I think they are super fun, I'm really just a big kid. I love the huge, bright sights of the All-Star resort. I think it's very family geared. Great pools too. The rooms are basic, no thrills. I am not planning on spending much time in the room. I like that there is always something going on pool side, games for the kids to play or movies to watch on a huge inflatable movie screen. Oh, and it's nice to have a pool side bar too ;) (oh, but that's not cheap- it's just fun)

The Disney food leaves much to be desired in my opinion. I'm not a fan of the food at the All-Star. I will admit; I am a total food snob. I don't like to eat anything that isn't all natural. I have a legit reason for this. I have quite the long list of allergies and intolerance to food additives. I am planning on packing in some of my own food. Defiantly bringing a collapsible cooler for milk for my 4 year old. It has been said that this child should have her own cow. I will take advantage of the ice machine and the fact that we will have a few days in Daytona to get supplies.

Ok, the princesses. This is something that I have been working on for a while. I remember when I was a kid and went to Disney I wore my most comfortable, hot weather friendly, play clothes. Hmm... Not how little girls do Disney anymore. All the little princesses want their Bibbity Bobbity make over. For starters it takes a minimum of 1/2 hour, that's after you wait your turn. Cost starts at $50 and that's just for a quick updo and some glitter makeup. Not a fan of the makeup so that's out. An updo for $50!!! No way! We have our own princess dresses that I am bringing with us to Disney, I have packed enough hair product to make any girl look like they have plastic hair. When the girls weren't looking I found some super cute over the top hair thingies at the dollar store. All pink and toole and glittery. I also found some glitter for their hair at Walmart for $1.80. So dresses we have $0, free hair product bought with coupons on sale $0, dollar store fancy hair thingies $3, and glitter $1.80 and I can Fairy Godmother all the girls, all 4 days for a grand total of $4.80! Now if we didn't already have a collection of princess dresses, I would have asked for some of freecycle. I am planning on bringing play clothes to change into when the dresses get itchy. A tank top and shorts will take no space in my back pack.

As a surprise, but really my way of not spending $25 on t-shirts per child. I hit the Disney store in the mall a few months back and bought t-shirts for $2.50  each for the two smaller children and $5 each for the two older children off the clearance rack. I have kept these souvenirs well hidden and am planning on giving them to the children the first day we go to the parks. This sweet surprise cost me $15 as opposed to $100 when we buy them in the gift shop.

So my short list of Disney tips:

*Stay a the park, All-Stars are your best value

*Pack in a cooler and your own food

*Plan on "Bibbidi Bobbiding" the girls yourself (trust me on this one, every little girl in Disney dresses like a princess)

*Bring your souvenirs. Hit your local Disney store before your trip and surprise your kids with something when they wake up their first day.

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Memorial Day Weekend Saturday
Sunday, May 24, 2009 | By Tanya39

Well this weekend was a learning esperience for our family. Never take a trip three hours away and forewarn your family you're coming to visit. My Grandma had a Pulminary Attack. I couldn't go when she had it, as my father didn't want to much company at the hospital, but we did send a card with forever stamps that are a yearly cost, and you never have to pay postage again in your life with how many letters you actually write, and stuff like buying a stamp. It should have been a wake up call that my grandma hates my family, when we got there, and my friend of the family told us our grandma went out, and my uncle told me at the cemetary that she went to the casino for two days on the spur of the moment. My aunt is up from Arizona, so we visited her instead. She loved seeing the children again, and me. She wanted to know if we were moving back to AZ. I said no. We visited 8 graves of family members who died in the past this weekend, and chatted with some family that loved seeing us.

The car ride was one major "skunk" fest too. The new plan is never bring chocolate, and caffeine for snacks again. The chocolate melted, and the sugar rush sent me to the bathroom every other town of the three hour rode trip, and the children were bouncing off the car walls with overly too much sugar high energy. 16 bottles of water next time for sure instead of pop. They didn't even want to eat the sandwhiches I made for the trip. We stopped in Akeley, MN for a picnic lunch. Chaos was the word I would use. Ants everywhere, and children running around to check out Paul Bunyun Statue and Babe the Blue Ox. I wanted to make our visit to see how grandma was doing as burden free as possible, so we ate before we went to grandma's.

Car ride games consisted of identify how far away the skunk smell was from our car, and singing along to our own limericks, which were interesting to say the least. Next time travel scrabble, yatzee, and boggle will have to go, because the songs made me car sick with the smell of skunk too. The youngest child had to pee every top of the hour, so we pulled over to the side of the road using car doors as cover to let her pee, and for the rest to stretch their legs too. That is very important part of the trip planned rest stops anywhere. I never use actual rest stops when there is mother nature abound. I suggest trying it. It is much safer than public roadside restrooms.

Well we did have fun visiting with those who didn't flee when hearing the message that we were coming to visit. Next month my oldest daughter is getting married with the family and only us in attendance at the courthouse in our county, so I will tell you how it went for us. Bye for now!



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RV Travelling
Thursday, March 19, 2009 | By Pennypacer

My husband and I have sold our home and are travelling in our motorhome. The cost of doing this is far less than staying in one spot paying insurance, taxes, utilities etc. The added bonus is the different sites you see from your back door and the wonderful people you meet. If you want a frugal lifestyle then this is a one way to go.


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Rent a room for tourists with AirBNB!
Monday, March 09, 2009 | By freya1970

I was reading the newsletter that i get from another frugal website, and the woman who wrote the article recommended a site called Air B&B: If you have a spare room or couch in your house, you can sign up and rent out your space to travellers! The company mails you a cheque a week after the stay has been completed! You can choose how much you want to charge. I am the only one in my area who has signed up, so let's hope I'll get some guests soon!

I am also on which hosts travellers for free. I do LOVE doing this, but in this economy I could use the extra money and I have decided to also host a few couchsurfing people too, though at this time I might have to put paying guests as a priority.

It's a fun site to look through, even if you don't want to rent a room. Would be great for small business travellers to use this service, you can get a bed in New York for as little as $15! :) Neat isn't it?

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