Blog: Pam's Pennypinching With STYLE

Pam's recounting of how her ancestrally thrifty habits have helped her in modern life in ways none of her foremothers could have imagined!

Showing 14 posts from November 2008 for this blog.
Black Friday My Way
Friday, November 28, 2008

Spent Thanksgiving and the so-called Black Friday in Bakersfield with my brother's family. Me go near the malls?  Never.  But I did go shopping at the local Goodwill, which I always drop into when I visit.  I have gotten great things there over the years. 

Having somehow left all my jackets behind when we rushed off, I told my husband that I had a good excuse to go to a thrift shop and buy a jacket - & I found a nice fleecy one in a marigold color for $4 or so.  (How much would that be retail?  $40-50?? & even my sister-in-law said that it looks brand new.) And I also found some rose silk chiffon - for $2.50 - which I will use as a shawl/scarf, or make something out of it.  Then, of course, I looked at the books and found a few at 80 cents each.  (How did they get to the price of 80 cents, I wonder?)

It's funny the difference - I have been doing the same thing for years, and it was considered very eccentric, if not downright odd - and now, all of a sudden, I am admirable.  There was an article in the local paper about homo prudensis trumping homo imprudensis - who had been ascendent in the last few years (especially in California, where I live.)

I have always been prudent - and made a virtue out of a necessity even when th imprudent ruled. And discovered it was green, to boot.  I actually got favorable comments from the younger generation on my 40-year-old Middle Eastern glass beads, which I had gotten in high school, now back in fashion.  

So, if you have a style that suits you - keep with it - and only tweak as a nod to keeping current.  You will need large closets - but you can also keep quality items - like your various beads and so on - and silk scarves and purses and the like - to bring in and out. 

Also shifted to a rusty red suede bucket purse for the winter - it's marked "Spain" but frankly I don't remember where I got it or even what I paid for it.  Not a lot, I know that.   I don't spend a lot on bags these days - just pick up thrift shop steals!

No pix until I get back to the home front & my picture stash - I am on my hubby's laptop right now...

Oh- my birthday presents for my brother were a grand success - mostly old books which I got at Bart's Bookstore in Ojai on their bargain racks for 50 cents each! The book on Robert Burns from 1911 was the biggest hit.

And I have forgotten my contribution to the holiday table.  II collected brilliant fall leaves from a local neighborhood where I walk and I taped them to twigs to form an arrangement. They were put into a ceramic vase I had paid $1 at a rummage sale, but which was a nice piece of ceramic in autumnal colors.  Then I sprayed the arrangement and the excess leaves several times with high-powered  hair spray to lacquer them.  The  vase was the centerpiece of our Thanksgiving table, and I piled the lacquered leaves around the middle of the table.  Quite Martha Stewart, if I do say so myself!

And cost? $1 plus my labor!  I am getting more and more crafty as I try to be ultimately frugal.  As I have said, I made a Halloween wreath and a decoration the door for Thanksgiving.  Found some squares of foam board, and think I will make some collages, as I used to - I certainly have a pile of the free magazines I have been getting!

So, I am creating a small circle of peace around me with family for the holidays.  And as the world goes on in its craziness and displays it blow by blow on TV - for me, the warmth of home is more important than ever...Peace be with you.

0 Comments | Post Feedback

Being Grateful (or Grapefruit)
Wednesday, November 26, 2008

When my husband and I first got together, I wasn't in the best place and he always reminded me that we should look at what we DID have instead of what we lacked - and our code word for that was "being grapefruit." And there is much to be grapefruit for.

Just read an article on Alternet decrying the cynicism of some pundits who are saying that the new government is just the same old same old...and throwing up their hands.  It's a great excuse for doing nothing, isn't it?  But we can make our world better by being "grapefruit" for what we have and trying to raise up the level of the whole, while addressing the problems we truly have. There is a wisdom in acting locally and thinking globally, I think.

I like watching certain shows - like the medical ones - which are set in what we used to call Third World countries, where they go into the homes of the patients and we thereby can see how they really live.  Doesn't the average American home look palatial in comparison?  Even a rural Kentucky mobile home I saw recently on a show is infinitely superior to anything in a working class home elsewhere - no?

We really do have so much.  Do you realize that built-in cabinets are not part of German apartments, for example - you have to bring your OWN.  So people do without! When my sister and her husband moved to Germany, they had to wash their dishes in the bathroom sink until they could save up enough to put in a proper kitchen! Now, who would think of that?

My husband and I have 2 vehicles - old, but still - TWO.  And we have cable TV and high speed internet in my little apartment - and even a dishwasher! Think of all the gadgets and contraptions we all have - cd players and recorders and game consoles and, and....

Not to mention hair dryers and straighteners and other hair tools and all sorts of personal care gadgets...

I have those, and I think I live rather simply,  Now, I dont' use them all the time, and most of them were bought used or were a bargain - and I do use them professionally to do my hair - but still, think of the convenience!

If you don't notice the backgrounds of those Medical Miracle shows which take you to other countries - or the weird food shows or anything set in everyday Asia or Africa,,, and take a good look next time.  A good hard look.  It will give you a new take on things, I am sure.  It makes me grapefruit, I know that.  And helps to keep everything in proper perspective....even as we are tightening our own belts.

P.S. I am wearing a nice pair of sox I seem to have WON from No-Nonsense - ?? - I got 2 pair, actually....and the lotion freebies keep on coming in. I was shocked to have to pay for matches in London years ago when I was a student...Here we have stuff with advertising on it - or part of advertising - A nice side effect of our system....

There are also execs on private jets who havent gotten the message, but since I hear that the folks from Detroit are carpooling on their next trip to Washington, I think they are getting clued in.






0 Comments | Post Feedback

Dressing to Start to Celebrate and Dishwasher Soap Substitutes
Monday, November 24, 2008

Went to church for the pre-Thanksgiving service and dinner.  Made up one of my outfits - a pair of lavendar print rayon pants from the bargain bin of an import store ($7) - a dark green rayon shirt from a rummage sale ($1?), the Middle Eastern glass beads I got from my godmother when I was in high school  and a wooden inlaid bangle I don't remember from where - the copper clogs I got from Salvation Army ($7) and my heavy brown linen long jacket, also from Salvation Army ($7) - oh, and an olive wide headband from the Dollar Tree ($1) How much does that add up to?  Less than $25 - so it CAN be done. But of course, I favor the boho/artistic hippy look! But that's what they have a Chico's & for a LOT more, I can tell you.

Worked so well that that combination is now branded an outfit and I will probably wear it to my brother's for Thanksgiving, too. Although if it is colder, I have the grey knit pants I got for $1 with a nice black and grey jacket (less than $10)....a little somber, tho -

Shared my emergency dishwasher soap recipie with the thriftyfun. tips - but in case it doesn't get in - I used baking soda with a few DROPS (I think 3 in each container) of dishwashing liquid dribbled on top of it - and altho I was nervous, it turned out FINE.  Not that the dishes were very dirty, as they had all been rinsed - but it was a relief to know we could wash them!  The rinse water came out dirty, as it was supposed to, with just a few teeny bubbles...The online homemade dishwasher soap recipies call for either washing soda or baking soda + borax, although one mentioned shaved Zoat soap.

Did I mention that baking soda is great for adding to your shampoo to get rid of product build up and it's good for your scalp, too?  Not to mention dealing with stomach upsets and absobing smells in the fridge!

Always good to have those basics on hand - Vinegar/baking soda/bleach/hydrogen peroxide are my favorites! Not mixed, of course.)




1 Comments | Post Feedback

Almost the Holidays & Playing our part
Saturday, November 22, 2008

Finally put up my autumn "wreath" - as I got around to putting the components together - My husband brought in the dried branch I had found, and I added the dried berries and a yard sale harvest decoration to it - voila! a nice door thing.  It will only be up for a week or so until we put up the Xmas stuff - but I DID IT.

Having a hard time getting things done, as my mood swing is in the down position.  I try to be upbeat here - but I go up and down myself.  Luckily it's chemical & they know how to sort of deal with it nowadays.

One quote I ran into at (a great inter-religious site) talked about how things can't be done in one lifetime - and we can't really see how our contributions fit into the big picture.  That was a revelation to me - because I thought about at the projects that I have been involved in over the years, all the productions and so on - How can I know what little piece of pleasure had an lasting effect on someone?

I know that living in this apartment complex, I have done my part to talk the old landlord out of paving over the front lawn - and in helping my immigrant neighbors get oriented in the American ways of public life.  I have picked up litter and called the city to haul away old furniture and complained about dumping problems to the city councilman - among a few things.  And this apartment building is now a pleasant place to live.  We have roses in the flower beds, which until a neighbor and I started to cultivate them, were dried mud and weeds.  And there are more around the front lawn area.

So - we play our part in civic life.  We can't see the moves in the great game - but there was study recently in the Netherlands that found out that people would litter and steal mail and so on if the street area was untended, with graffiti, dirt and litter! So the condition of the environment was a factor! That's the broken windows theory, which I have always believed in.  Fix the broken windows and clean up and the level of the surrounding area gradually rises. Maybe that's a metaphor for us as living social beings. I find that very comforting.  What do you think?



0 Comments | Post Feedback

Blogging and Simplicity Old School
Friday, November 21, 2008

Savings Potpourri - which is a blog a lot more sophisticated technically than this one, is folding because the writer doesn't have time to keep it up - which is a shame, because, I, for one, subscribed to it...

I really don't know how many folks out there actually READ this blog - would be nice to know - but since I am not getting $ from Google clicks, it really doesn't matter.  And I am glad now that I have kept my blog here at thriftyfun - old school - without bells & whistles -

That seems to go for a LOT of things in our lives.  Why not go the simple, inexpensive old school way rather than the moderne, expensive, fancy way? Especially if the results come out very much the same!

I am amazed at people getting nuts over Iphones and the like - especially when you know whenever a new product comes out it is bound to have LOTS of bugs in in and it's best to wait until they have been worked out AND the price has come DOWN.  I find I have a bit of computer capability on my newest cell phone right now, and it's quite enough for me.  I felt like a genius when I discovered I could look up the weather on it while we were at the boat.  The forecast convinced us to stay on another day, rather than head back in town and we had a nice time.

I used to say that I lived like a "rich peasant" - meaning that I had nice, basic things.  It's not a bad way to go in the end.  What difference does it make that the FM radio tuner came from a thrift shop?  Or that our TVs will be digital only via our cable?  We don't have ROOM for a flat screen in our little living room - and they apparently eat up energy, too. So do I need to go into hock for one? Absolutely NO.

Same thing with the monitor and the keyboard of the computer I am typing on - We have recycled them through several hard drives (our main one has just gone down & I am on the secondary, which my hubby was using for music....) So do I NEED a flatter monitor?  Frankly, NO.  I know someone who has gone to a new Apple and frankly, the keyboard for that is TINY and hard to type on - as we are used to the conventional spacing....

I didn't have a microwave for years because I didn't think I needed one - but my hubby got a good one - again, used - and he uses it a lot.  Ditto our used coffee makers (We burn them out)!  And you have heard of our prize - the used portable dishwasher!  (Again, making my hubby happy.)

Our last few irons have been used - and sturdier than the one I got at newer at Big Lots - and I have gotten used hair styling stuff - like a flattener which I was using for a while....(the new ones were $45??)

The economy is turning, and somehow, even with my husband's salary, which is mid-range, we are still struggling.  I hope - no, I KNOW that my pennypinching experience is helping here.  So, really, our needs are mostly provided for.  As my husband says, we have a roof over our heads, and he has a job - and we have 2 vehicles that run - and even our old BOAT to escape to.

As I talk about here a lot, I do a lot of things myself -  such as color and trim my hair - and doing mending and simple maintenance - (I even extended the life of the radiator in the truck by suggesting that hubby just put radiator StopLeak in it - worked, too.)  I have never been into drycleaning everything - and even had a BAD experience when a local place practially RUINED a good blazer by putting it in a mangle or something, scorching the surface and FLATTENING all the BRASS buttons.  It took some doing to convince the owner that their sign only referred to lack of liability for PLASTIC buttons and that THEY were liable for replacing my brass ones - AND sewing them ON. Brass buttons aren't cheap....) Whew, My consumer battles!

Besides I mostly wear washable denim & t-shirts anyway nowadays.  I save my good clothes for church and for going out in the world -  which keeps them nice MUCH longer, especially as the styles are pretty basic.

Old school - yeah, I am old school about a lot of things.  Not a bad way to go - what do you think?





0 Comments | Post Feedback

Am I the Person Who....?
Thursday, November 20, 2008

Reading other frugal blogs and related materials, posts and so on, sometimes my neurons fire off with ideas...

There was a referral (I think) on (I think) WISE BREAD which talked about "I am not the person who..."  Meaning that you are not the person who, for example, buys their clothes in thrift shops, or shops at dollar stores or rummage sales, etc.  There is a big psychological barrier there for some people.  My hubby was freaked by the 99 Cent Store when we first went there - He felt demoted in social status and I, on the other hand, just felt SMART and thrifty!  Why spent $4-7 on something you can get for 99 cents?  Isn't that logical? (He has gotten used to it over time.)

I always think of Woody Allen's comment that in his family the greatest sin was to buy retail! I grew up in that sort of post-Depression environment myself - so looking for bargains has never been odd to me.  It always made sense to save on some things - and then have money to spend elsewhere.

This became especially true during my penniless artistic existence. Here I NEEDED a wardrobe - but how was I to PAY for it?  So I got into recycled clothing - here in L.A. there is LOTS of beautiful stuff to be had in that condition.  As I always say, my designer clothing all came from thrift shops!

But there is the problem of are "you the person who"....I mean, I live in Hollywood of all places.  I always dress up to the nines when going public, as my bank balance is no one's business - and the level of your success in the biz can sometimes be judged by how well you are turned out.  Ugh.

But I learned over the years just to be clever, to crow to myself when I got a great deal - like a Bill Blass cocktail dress with the Saks tag still on it bpught for a song - But I did all this consciously.  I think that's the key here.

You have to make DECISIONS about how to spend your resources - If you don't have any money - well, you have to go on a money diet..

Now more and more I find that what with being GREEN finally a positive value that among the young set, anyway - recycling, etc. is a VIRTUE.  And vintage has become fashionable.  Who knows where you scored it, anyway? So one can say, "Oh, it's vintage" and you are cool.  Funny how those things work.

There was also the woman onTV who was being interviewed after losing her apartment in one of the recent So Cal fires.  They were insured, but she said, almost with a sneer, that she hoped that they would be able to get good things replaced and "Not have to have 99 Cent Store plates."  I would think that after a fire, any plate in a storm would do.  I have perfectly nice 99 Cent Store dishes and my Spode plates came from a thrift shop in Pasadena. 

Guess what? You can't TELL.  If you have good enough taste, you can find great deals all over the place.  I have fashion friends who practically lived at dollar stores when setting up their photo shoots.

The real crux of the matter is somehow centering yourself on something other than where you have bought your possessions.  I know that that's what the retailers count on - that buying something at, say, Saks, will make you feel more valued even though you paid through the nose for it. 

I once knew a woman who bought such a dress at Saks, when she could have easily gone down to the L.A. garment district for virtually the SAME item - because she had to have that TAG.  And she couldn't afford it, either.  I have even  known high school girls who were  so status conscious that they put better labels onto their generic clothes!  That's crazy.

The funny thing is that my thrift shop clothes often DO have labels - my jeans are more Bill Blass ( I did like his style) and there is a perverse pleasure in that - because I didn't pay retail!

I can buy BETTER quality clothing in thrift shops that I could afford retail.  And I don't have a phobia about it - the new stuff has been pushed around from whereever it was made off-shore - so it's not that pristine, anyway. (Not to mention tried on by other consumers.)

So that's the sort of person I am - Clever and Thrifty - and if you turn down your nose at that, well we have gotten to know who you are quite quickly - I wouldn't have that woman with the plate issue over to my house. 

Interesting thing about this downturn is to watch those sort of folks deal with it on an emotional basis - What will happen to shopping junkies if all their cards and accounts are maxed out? 

But you and I are "the sort of people who" aren't into that.  Isn't that a blessing?









1 Comments | Post Feedback

Sticking Together in Hard Times
Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Forgive me - somehow an entire blog post just disappeared! 

I did talk at length - and include the tip about being able to get glasses at (Even help to get eye exams)

Will come back to this when I can re-enter my thoughts....

0 Comments | Post Feedback

How to have a Boat & NOt be a"Yachtie"
Monday, November 17, 2008

Another longish weekend at the boat.  We stopped in Ojai for a doctor's appointment (I have kept one of the good ones I had up there)...and I stopped in the 2 great thrift shops - In the church shop, the ladies were sorting a box of earrings, and among them was a "Yachtie" pair consisting of blue and red oars and a wheel.  Now, a "Yachtie" is a denizon of a yacht club who goes all out on the gear - and who is in a yacht club that is more of a country club on the water.

Now, everyone seems to assume that if you have a boat you ARE a yachtie - but there are also the sailors and fisherpeople - who I happen to PREFER. 

My take on being nautical is to wear a nautical t-shirt and cropped jeans!  and a hat/visor of course! And I do have boat shoes that won't slip on the deck - but mine were found at a Santa Barbara thrift shop!  And my husband got me a fancy green pair which had been marked way down at a boating store.

But back to the Ojai thrift stores -  I know that I have said that I am cutting back on clothes, etc. - but I DID buy a nice cotton/linen handknit sweater (it is a great orangey color) plus a pair of $1 red patent shoes (Xmasy) and a pair of pinkish leather flats. Total $7 or so....  At the church thrift shop I bought some little Xmas pins, which I intend to give out with Xmas cards this year - and snagged a pair of cropped denim pants ($3), which I put on immediately, as it was very warm up there, which I hadn't really anticipated, and then Mark got something...

Of course, there is Bart's the outdoor bookstore - with all sorts of oldies but goodies for 50 cents each - I got an armful. 

I also stopped by my favorite healthfood store to pick up some Hylands allergy tablets -  I might as well give them (Lassen's)  my business & they always DO have lovely samples.  Supplements this time.

Then on Saturday we drove up to Carpinteria where we lived for a year and walked up & down the main street.  They have a great library bookstore and I got a pile of spiritual books - as I am working on that again...They also had a rummage sale for the benefit of a Haitian orphanage - and I got a nice leather purse (a Fossil in its first life) for $1 , a sailor tshirt with vintage graphics and very nice art pottery vase and a metal holder for my toilet paper and a little glass dish - all for $1!! Bargains and $ to charity, too.  (Ditto the library bookstore.)  Seem to do my bargain shopping on the weekends...That will hold me for a while...

We are trying to watch our drinks on the go - and getting cups of ice along with our fountain drinks -

Back home, the air could be better - all those fires, you know.  And I am grateful that my allergy nostrums have kicked in - (You can skip this section if allergies are not your thing. ) Imagine - I have Nasalcrom for my runny nose, 2 homeopathic remedies,(Hylands Hayfever and A. Vogel Pollinosan) plus herbal drops for grass/tree/mold dust,  depending - plus loratadine &/or Zyrtec meds - and Simulsan allergy eyedrops plus Alaway eyedrops. And some style ointment for when my inner eyelids get inflated. Geez! It seems to work, tho - The Hylands and the Simulsan can be taken often - and the Alaway and Zyrtec twice a day....And you can pile on the drops anytime...And when my eyes get hopelessly inflamed, I use cold black tea compresses to soothe them....We also have the AC and the air cleaners running November ???

That is all a product of my many years of allergies of all sorts.  Sometimes the regular prescribed meds won't cover everything without going for Benedryl - which works but really knocks you OUT.  So the herbal supplemental works, and I hope it helps my immune system, too....### End of Allergy Stuff

Boring, but very true.  Came home to more samples  - an office pad for my husband (those are expensive, he said) and some skin stuff - which I immediately put on to ease the effects of the sun on the water - even layered Vaseline on top to seal it in - and more mags.  But I gotta be careful, because I seem to be getting invoices for my "free" magazines, somehow - ?? There is always a catch, isn't there? Oh - and I also got - how could I forget, a BIG can of Nexxus mousse from Marie Claire to use and comment on!  (That's an expensive brand, too...)

Using all my skin care samples to make my entire supply last longer - and weeding out night cream and night eye cream samples, putting them together to use - as I am running low on my regular supplies of THOSE. Remember that most of those packets have more than one application in them - so fold over the opened top and secure with a paper clip - or hair clip - or even a bobby pin and the rest will last a long time - until you can use it ALL up.

Read an interesting article in the Business Section of the L.A. Times on bartering.  I haven't had TOO much success with that - other than trading favors amongst friends quite informally - but apparently it's BACK.  So if you DO have something to trade - haircuts? some service? It might be worthwhile looking into -

Have you any experience with that?  Good? bad?  Please comment & let me/us know! And be thrifty out there.







0 Comments | Post Feedback

Thrifty Habits?
Thursday, November 13, 2008

Saw a comment on the blogs about avoiding "latteing" - and since I have never done much of that (it was always a treat or a way to hold a biz meeting), I started to think about what I did do.

When I worked in offices a lot, I used to bring along the packets of diet cocoa - because I found even bitter office coffee tasted better mixed 1/2 and 1/2 with cocoa.  Nowadays I would add some nutmeg and cinnamon & voila! a budget mocha.  I also brought along my own t-bags, and soups, as hot water was usually available. Now those hot-water alternatives have gotten even bigger with those hot water pastas I have seen advertised - but I bet you could concoct your own. 

I used to bring apples/oranges/prunes and cubes of cheese or nuts and crackers along to eat - then snack at my desk and nap and/or walk on my lunch hour. Discovered that you can nap quite nicely in your locked car!

Then I would window shop like mad, and pick up the best bargains.

Even as far as latteing goes, you can get a plain coffee for a lot less at Starbucks or another coffee place, and then add milk, cinnamon, cocoa and nutmeg for a perfectly nice concoction, while saving at least 50%. I also ask for water and then recycle the nice clear cups.

When I lived alone, I would also sometimes have my main meal at lunch, as the lunch prices are usually less and there were specials.

I subscribed to the L.A. Times (cheaper than at the newsstand) & did the crossword and also picked up other local throw-away free publications.  Always profited from the info in them.  The hints I got from the L.A. Times more than paid for the subscription itself over the years!

I admit that I used to look at the office trash and recycle wrappings/bows/and any old office supplies that were going out.  I would ask first, mostly....But it's amazing what people would just toss. And the poinsettias after Xmas would make nice leafy houseplants....

I even found a nice leather checkbook cover in the trash once, and a pair of lovely copper-colored pants (?)

I would troll the cosmetic counters and get samples of makeup and such and always sign in for local contests.  Won a nice set of jewelry that way.  Because I was there so often, I would also get the best of the markdowns on the sale racks.  Still have some of that stuff - like a beautiful wooden cuff bracelet.

In the freebie sites there are now posts about freebies at Origin stores. at the premium cosmetic counters, and even chocolate stores - so I would keep an eye on that was closest to me to snag on my lunch hour.  Raises the spirits!

Now I work from home and troll freebie sites and do most of my shopping at thrift shops! Still subscribe to the paper, tho, and take the crossword with me if I am going to have to sit and wait.

Because I am at home, I can sit at the computer in my jeans and t-shirts/sweatshirts - and not have to wear much makeup (a savings) and I can save my classic clothes for going out on the town. - I have accumulated a wardrobe over the years. 

I do keep an eye on fashion trends, mostly via internet newsletter from mags like Marie Claire and Elle and Vogue and so on - and then can tweak what I wear with a tip of my hat to the current fashion.  (My husband is just getting used to the fact that it's OK for a hoodie to be short over a longer top!)

There are trendy accessories at the dollar stores.  Recently I got a whole lot of headbands - some of them with sequins - They do in and out of style, but I have always liked headbands, and have a collection of them...And the dollar stores tend to have good deals on hair goods - like barrettes and so on - so I stock up there.

Young girls don't wear pantyhose nowadays it seems - altho don't they get chilly? - But when I wore them a lot I ordered them discount from the Legg's catalog - and now I get bargain at dollar stores and so on when I see them...

I also have gotten samples of self-tanner, which I do use in warmer weather to make my pale legs look healthier!

Now that my hair has gotten long, I have been wearing it up most of the time - not a bad idea - Keeps me cooler when it's warm and adds volume to my crown - Also hides the time between haircuts! That's where my barrette collection comes into play.

I find myself mixing whatever lipgloss/conditioner I have on hand - to use it up & get the right consistency....and do the same with hand cream(s).  And I am trying to organize and use up my collection of lotions for the hands/face, etc.  Put them in ziplock bags to use at the boat.  Ditto the deodorant and toothpaste samples. And some of the vitamin/supplement samples.

Made up a care package for an unemployed friend of ours, and put in a selection of shampoo & conditioner samples, toothpaste, lotions, deodorant, vitamins, and so on - And my husband bought a whole bunch of ramen and added some canned foods, just to make sure...It all seems like extra stuff, so it's less embarassing, I think...

Also pass around books and magazines in our circle of friends....

As I have said, I am diligently collecting samples to make up little assortments for tiny Xmas presents this year - My elderly neighbor is getting shampoos/lotions and so on - and I have things like sample tbags to put into office cards, etc.

Also will look to clean out the OLD gift bags which still harbor goodies from past years.

So that's me not latteing or anything else - Just here at the keyboard and watching old flicks on the tube! But then that's how we afford those lovely wkends on the boat!  It all evens out in the end.

How are you guys coping?






1 Comments | Post Feedback

More Thrift Wkending
Wednesday, November 12, 2008

We had a long weekend due to Veteran's Day - & off to the boat!  We took the long way thru Santa Paula & I couldn't resist the Goodwill there - but only looked at the really CHEAP stuff.  They have  $1 racks,. which are great & I couldn't resist a $1 linen Flax sleeveless dress in a sort of b&W tweedy blend  - worth $60+ new, that brand is expensive! (could even wear it as a jumper) and a $1 broadcloth shirt with real mother of peal buttons which were worth more than the dollar for the shirt...

Then some 50 cent books and I found new Xmas ornaments with tags still on them for $3.99 & here sold for $.69.  They will be little Xmas gifts. One is a mailbox you can open, and I think I will put freebie tbags in it to make a nice little gift.  - I got a bunch gratis at the healthfood store yesterday.  But I had spent $30 on allergy stuff - wish the OTC meds could be deducted from your taxes....

My Xmas bags are filling up - The one in the livingroom and the bedroom one, too!  Finding more soap, etc, I have squirreled away that would make nice gifties!

Have to find old Xmas cards, so I can recycle them!  Also saw a great idea when I was in Barnes & Noble standing up leafing through a craft book (It was Mark Montana's BIG ASS BOOK OF CRAFTS - $19.95 - Simon & Schuster - nice book, but too expensive for me right now...) Anyway, one very easy idea is to STAMP regular white napkins with stamps  - Holiday or otherwise!  I have a stamp collection I have picked up on sale & I think a set of stamped paper dinner napkins would also make a lovely Xmas gift - or use other stamps for other occasions.

Also leafed through another beauty savings book - I like to see if there are any new ideas going around....Raspberry vinegar for a tint for red hair?  I have tried raspberry JUICE  - but it didn't help.  I prefer red shampoo -

On TV they were talking about inexpensive gifts & mentioned some $40 items.  I don't think I have never spent $40 on an Xmas gift IN MY LIFE, I don't think!  That's not thrifty for me! ( I spend that $ in the healthfood store, as you see...) Thrifty is thinking about making ornaments and collecting my freebies for gifts...Also read a fashion blog about getting expensive collegiate sweatsuits to lounge around in - I just wear jeans & odd sweatshirts....

But, then, I have never been able to afford any of that...So I am used to scraping by - more or less.  I swore not to buy any more clothes - but the linen dress & the shirt were too good to pass up....And as for books - I already owe the library more than $10 for one week's library fines (trans. problems & couldn't turn them in) - so 50 cents a used book is not a bad deal after all.

Got a twig as a basis for a Thanksgiving Day wreath -but don't know if I will get to it before December -  in which case, maybe I will make it the basis for a door ornament for my neighbor....Gee, the holidays are coming - maybe there will be a Thanksgiving potluck up at the boat....

Oh, and saving chicken bones in a bag in the freezer for chicken stock! Add salt and vinegar and boil until the bones get mushy for great soup stock.

Did I mention the elastic belt I cobbled together to hold up some loose jeans?  We had saved some elastic straps, which I stapled together, and the nylon closures fit together as a buckle.  Worked out quite well - esp. since I seem to be out of any other elastic....








0 Comments | Post Feedback

Coping & the Freebie Way
Friday, November 07, 2008

Hello Char! who is that cute-as-a-button baby?  Darling, as babies are...

Yes, I sort of enjoy the freebie stuff - but it's almost like a little p/t JOB for me - as I mentioned below in my reply to a post.  I have always collected stuff - used to go to conventions and pick up swag there - cups, and post-its and pens and posters and even a nice straw hat once which I still have! (That's when you could still park for free down by the L.A. Convention Center & we got free tix to the convention, so...We made it an outing.)

Of course, any excess that one has should be SHARED.  I don't ask for feminine hygiene stuff, becaz I don't need it anymore...(But they do need it in women's shelters and similar places)...But you would be surprised that folks don't know it's all OUT there for the asking.  So much advertising swag!

For ex., I just send off for 2 little blankets - and if you know a traveler - well, they don't GIVE you them on planes anymore, and wouldn't they like a little one of their own to bring along?  Put that together with some samples of shampoo, and soap and deodorant and toothpaste and you have created a nice little travel kit! I had an aunt who was always jetting around, and I made a point of giving her collections of samples for her trips. (The same toothpaste samples COST $1 at the drug store - but I have mentioned that already, I think...)  So I always had SOMETHING to give to my extended family on Xmas - one year I was demonstrating Swiffer mops & everyone got one of those! (I just used one for the demo & saved the others from the subsequent demo kits...)

And for years I have used the little motel soaps in an old ashtray by the kitchen sink to wash up my hands.  Just the right size.  And the little ones are also good - again - for traveling and camping - and for emergencies when you have just run OUT.

I use as many free cups as possible - and recycle the big drink cups from the fast food places (& their tops & straws) until they give out - which is a while...That way I can tote my own ice tea and water and not pay $1 for it!  My hubby is now buying coffee cups with lids at the office supply stores (which again, can be used a couple of times) to take his morning coffee in as he drives to work. I have also refilled water bottles with fancy tops - but I have to check on that plastic & how often/how you can re-use it...

I save the plastic containers the ice cream comes in - one is now in the kitchen sink with dirty knives & forks, etc. - waiting for the dishwasher, and another holds the clean ones.  And the BIG knives are in a tall plastic container that some food gift came in. 

I have made wastepaper baskets out of old cardboard ice cream containers from the ice cream store - and covered the 99 cent ones with contact paper to make them prettier...

My husband thinks I am a bit of a pack rat, as I HATE to throw stuff away that could have some USE.  I just rescued a lovely silver box from the wine bar where we sang last week, folded the flaps in and and made a sort of shelf for the bathroom....And I save all the padded bags that the freebies come in to re-use, as when I worked in the library years ago, we recycled those bags over and over until they just fell apart. (And they cost $1 or MORE for the larger ones!)

I have always collected rubber bands and elastic cord.  Never have paid for THOSE - and recycled file folders and even paper clips!

Oh gee, I am going to sound like a complete eccentric - but I have never had any money, not really - so thrift was a necessity if I was to live at ALL nicely!  So if something was free - why not? That just meant that I could spend my $ on something ELSE and stretched the overall budget. 

As I said in my reply, I am not really working much - so I feel that the little samples and swag is a contribution - and I am making a concerted effort to get little Xmas gifts from them...another savings...

Add that to the little bits I rack up with Mypoints/being a bzzagent/mturk/even - which usually translate into gift cards - and I have a bit of pin money.  My hubby scoffs but he did like the $25 Kohl's card and the two $10 Shell gas cards.  Almost qualified for another one! And I have a few dollars on my paypal mastercard/debit card to spend on the net - and some Amazon points. (I have gotten music and vitamins in the past - and paid for shipping for bigger samples,etc.)

I even got a $25 check for completing a gift survey!

Sure, it's work.  I am at the computer every day.  But I would be anyway, so why not fill up the extra time in something sortta useful? 

Huh?  Use up/give away those freebies!







2 Comments | Post Feedback

Back Up to Speed?
Thursday, November 06, 2008

Finally feeling better  - I would LIKE to go out for a walk - now that's a change!

Still getting/applying for all my freebies & putting the little things in a gift bag in the bedrm - & now I have another little one in the livingrm for when things come in the mail - I am sending off for all sorts of things, so I can make up little gift collections, etc.

I even got some horse treats for a friend who has a horse! And car magazines for a guy I know who likes machinery, etc.

Anybody have a blog or site?  If you go to you can get ja sample of Revitacel Wrinkle & Eye Cream (which they say is worth $20??)

You can actually send for an Absinthe spoon and later get a BOTTLE of it if you post it on the net!  I don't know about that...but if you are interested I think it's on or maybe  I think that they took the wormwood out & changed the formula to make it legal again...

Hoping to unload some more books at another yard sale - they DO move, but slowly & cheaply.  Boy, do I have piles of books!

Our big hard drive has gone on the fritz and we are on the other one we got a bargain on & used up at the beach and turned into our "music" computer for Mark's music...but it's up and running again.

Hope I didn't lose too much stuff! Getting new clip art for you guys to decorate the old blog here...

Nothing much else - except that no matter what your party - you have to admit that this election win sociologically means a lot to a LOT of people.  I remember the end of segregation - and to come to this point - it is amazing.  And we win the respect of most of the world once more. 

Other countries shoot each other over such power changes - we just campaign and VOTE - that is really democracy in action & AMAZING.  Good for US!

How are you guys doing?  You have been pretty quiet out there - & this inquiring mind would like to know....

3 Comments | Post Feedback

Election Day
Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Went & voted in the mid afternoon when I know from my experience as an old poll worker it will be VERY quiet.  No lines at ALL.  I think the media would do better to tell the folks about the typical ebb and flow at the polls rather than scare everyone off by talking about long lines!

Everyone get their free Starbucks coffee?  I am sortta caffeined out but maybe my hubby and I will walk down & get some later....

Got more library books from the suburban library around the corner from my therapist - My old ones were late due to transport problems last week & I am going to OWE the library quite a bit of $ - The projected fine amounts to ALL my purchases at Ojai last Friday! as the $.30 fine per book is more than I PAID for some of my mysteries!  Oh, well, they need the $. 

I don't like taxes, either - but they NEED the $! WE have to fix the bridges so they won't fall down on us - and mend roads and all sorts of civic duties - firefighters and law enforcement - and make an investment in public health...I could go on.  I would think that the very successful would be grateful to the country that had allowed them to prosper and would feel indebted to it.  I know my father did. He was glad to pay his taxes. 

This country had enabled him to rise from poverty, be the first person in his family to go to college, and his veteran benefits helped him buy his first (and only) house.  He was actually audited by the IRS once, because they thought he must be hiding something!  The IRS man said my father was one of the few honest taxpayers in his income bracket that he had ever seen! 

My husband commented today that the whole election process was so complicated - It is - and all the more reason we have to make SURE we educate the upcoming generations WELL. 

On the thrifty side of things - I have installed a varnished wooden boat flag pole in the bathroom to hold the extra toilet paper....A bit off the floor to keep things clean & a plastic dish under it.  It does save space, and I just like the wood of the pole!  I only found some nice green plastic flower pots around my therapist and I am going to wash them  and make Xmas containers out of them, I think - for presents???

Our computer seems to have unraveled. So I am on the other terminal/hard drive - the one we had up at the beach.  It was a bargain at the time.  Really glad we have a backup - as I am so computer-dependent!  Worried about all my graphics, tho.

Autumn has finally come to L.A. (October was one of the hottest on record!) and the change makes me sleepy  - I feel like a bear yearning for hibernation...but that will pass.  And in the meantime I can have coffee for a change...maybe even some free from Starbucks! ( have already gotten my free Barnes & Noble one).



0 Comments | Post Feedback

The Mon. After a Lovely Wkend!
Monday, November 03, 2008

Another wkend - NIce it was a long one, as I visited my kindly shrink in Ojai on Friday afternoon & thus had an excuse todo my Ojai rounds.  Visited 2 of the local thrift shops - & got some nice patent ballet flats for $1 (which I can see wearing everywhere) & some grey knit Liz Claiborne pants which go very nicely with a black and grey woven jacket I have! 

And some miscellany - some clip earrings at the other church thrift shop - a $.50 felt pirate hat and a $.10 kids tamborine (more about that later) - even some tools! Then to the library shop for mysteries for $.25 apieces & Bart's Books for their $.50 old books.  Also picked up an Xmas present in a small antique shop -

Then a friend of ours was playing at a local wine shop which has a tasting area/bar in the back.  The pirate hat came in handy, as George the musician hadn't brought anything costumy, even tho it was Halloween, so we put it on his head & Mark got a drum out of the car & I provided rhythm on the 10 cent tamborine, which sounded remarkable good for the price! (Even contributed some harmonic vocals).I made a point of drumming up tips for George, as I know he needs the $ - and you know, if you are playing for tips, I think you have a right to wave the tip container around a bit.  Probably made twice as much as he would have otherwise....We had beer and their pizza appetizers, quite inexpensively, which did us for dinner & a good time was had by all!

Then on Saturday after the rain I went to Lassen's Health Food Store to get my tea tree oil toothpicks (I swear they have helped my gums A LOT.) And, of course, to snag their generous free samples! (Lotions, a liniment of sorts, and various supplements.)

We then went to the local 99 Cent Store down the road to stock up on staples like sauces and salad dressings, etc.  Great deals there for that.  Even got some fish oil to last until the next payday when we can buy the big bottle - and a pocket calendar book for 2009 for me (last year's was from Barnes & Noble - nice, but really too BIG).- and some bagels - (we put them in the freezer.) Another old ladies' charitable thrift shop is a few blocks away & Mark splurged on a lovely framed old sailboat print for his brother for Xmas (1/2 off) - and I found some brand new fisherman sandals in a nice cocoa for fall for $5! ($48 new...) And I also picked up little holiday pins, ornaments, etc. - because I plan just to put little tokens in Xmas cards for many ceremonial Xmas presents this year! (The secretaries at Mark's office, and so on....) Everything goes into the Xmas bag....

We had dinner using my Whale's Tail coupon for a free entree up in the pub area, which I like best - and saved $10  -  and on Sunday Mark used another coupon for Carl's Jr Breakfast sandwiches, which were a little spicy - but quite good. Mark also got some money on a deal he was doing with recycling the fittings of the boat he stripped last weekend - some more $ in our pockets.

So it was a getaway with more frills than at home - Oh, the boat is lovely even when it RAINS!.  But we did find ourselves cutting corners all over the place, and now that my husband is also on the bargain beam, we did manage to keep expenses down.

Reading articles in the L.A. Times and elsewhere talking about how old customs are coming back into favor - Like layaway, which they had declared "dead in the 80's" and using pawn shops for small secured loans.  I did that for for YEARS at a friendly local artsy-craftsy pawnshop Brother Collateral.  They are old musicians themselves and there is a lively trade in instruments, as well as jewelry, and so on.  I myself have gotten some percussion instruments there and gotten very good deals. They lend $ on all SORTS of stuff.  A friend of mine has even brought his antiques in there. 

You have to know about pawnshops that they only give you about 10% of the value upfront, and they make their $ when the loan defaults, as many do - So GET your STUFF out of THERE and MARK the DATES on your CALENDAR.  But I have had instruments in "protective custody" as I have called it & really they were probably safer there all locked up for the moment than they would have been at my place.  Another way to look at it.  A safety deposit box with benefits!

In the old days ladies would always look to their jewelry as their only personal wealth - and it's something to think about, too.  Silver, which was quite common when I was young, has gone up and now has more value than ever....And you can even find it lying around unnoticed in thrift shops.  I got a great silver cuff bracelet for $1 because it was so tarnished and black they didn't know it was silver - but silver oxide has a particular smell I seem to be able to recognize so I got it for a song and went home and polished it UP.

There are even companies which will pay you for your junk gold  if you send it in - so save that old dental gold, and your broken gold jewelry, it's WORTH something!

Caught up on my freebies - going to collect some for Xmas giving - like giving the lady next door shampoo  - so I am gettting almost EVERYTHING. 

I am just going to tell myself that on Monday I go back to work like everyone else, except that I am at home in front of my computer. I hope that looking at it as a workday will help me shift my overall perspective.  Even the freebie hunting is part of my "work." Remember that those samples COST money when you BUY the sample sizes at the drug store for a trip - so you ARE making/saving about $1 each sample - that figures in the income, doesn't it?  Besides, it's fun...I love getting things in the post - like a little kid getting their own mail!




0 Comments | Post Feedback

Blog Home
RSS Feed
Photo Album


Better Living
Budget and Finance
Craft Projects
Craft Tips
Garage Sales
Health and Body
Make Your Own
Valentine's Day


November 2015
October 2015
February 2014
January 2014
May 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
© 2020 - A website!
Disclaimer: cannot accept any responsibility for any injury or damage that you may cause to yourself, others, or property when following any advice given on this site. has no control of how you may use information you get from this site and does not attest to the validity of any information found within. Much of this information comes from third parties (newsletter readers and other contributers). Use advice found in our newsletters and on our site with common sense and at your own risk. If you see something in our newsletters or on our site that you disagree with, please let us know. Our goal is print only valuable information and advice.