Thursday, January 30, 2014


I don't know who the five of you are, but I'm tickled that you immediately open my blog when I post it. Thanks.

Let it go

So easy to say. Believe me, I know how hard it is to do. Uncertainty weaves it's way through our brains, like a like a worm, eating holes in our great plan. When the time comes to actually do the work, we have plenty of excuses, those also have holes in them.

House cleaning
The list goes on and on.

What is it that you can't put down. Perhaps it's a combination of some or all.

Some things are easy to put down. Some you can drop with a dramatic thud, making a huge mess. Some, the heaviest, need to be set down slowly, perhaps with help.

Evaluation of what is holding you back is so important. This week I had the thought that I would like to lose the 40 pounds I've gained in the last few years. I had lost 90 pounds and really felt terrific. But as the week went on it became a burden. I'm clearing out my house and paying off my bills and building up my writing and working and...I don't need another project. So I'm being more careful about what I eat and working more walks, free entertainment, in my schedule. If I lose some, terrific. What I let go was this idea that I had to be able to do it all at the same time.

Don't bite off more than you can chew. Ha! I'm punny.

 For now, I'm dancing in the living room, which is made possible by the great clean out.

Choices Must Be Made to Eat Cheap

Everyone wants to know how to save on groceries. It is an expense that really bothers people. While I am not thrilled at the price of ground beef, I am glad that we have regulatory practices that keep our food safe. And, as the mom of truckers, I'm glad everyone who gets me my food gets a fair wage to do that. I really am glad I don't have to hunt, kill, carry home, clean, and store and cook.

What really gets me is the people who beg me to teach them how I fed a family of five on less than $300 a month, including non food items, but don't want to give up expensive choices. When I say things like, "Buy the off brand" or "You don't really have to buy $4 packages of cookies and expensive mini juice boxes", the battle cry starts. "Oh I can't stand XYZ jelly. I have to have ABC." "My kids love their fake fruity sugar water, I can't say no." Or, my personal favorite, "There has to be a way that I can have what I want and not clip coupons."

Welcome to America, Land of have your cake and eat it too.

How did I, and do I, keep my food budget tight? I checked unit pricing. I bought off brand.I tried to find a way to make my own. I planned carefully and I clipped coupons. I used left overs. I followed portion suggestions.

Unit pricing. I was shocked when I discovered that two small cans of tuna cost less than on large can. Ounce for ounce. Check the unit price.

Quality. Ask yourself how important it really is that this item be the end all. I knew a woman who bought the cheap jelly and poured it into the name brand jar so her husband would eat it. In the four years I knew them he never knew. Really, will your entire day really be ruined if your jelly isn't perfect? Expensive steak is better than cheap steak, but cheap steak can be really good, if it's prepared well.

Home made. Being a fair cook is important. There are lots of web sites to help a frugal cook. It goes back to unit pricing. An already prepared chicken costs the same as a raw chicken, not exactly. The cooked chickens tend to be two pounds, where as the raw is four. Put that chicken is a roaster with some salt, pepper and garlic powder. Easy. The prepared meatloaf cost comparison is the same, however, preparing a meatloaf requires more time. The way to save there is to make two and freeze one for days when you're running late.

Menu planning. I did this loosely. I wrote a list of meals for the time between paydays. I counted the use of leftovers. And shopped for the list. Then I would pick one to make each night. So there was planning with flexibility.

Coupons. There was a time when I was a super couponer. I had a register tape that had as many coupons as items. It is a job. If you have the time, which can include clipping while watching t.v., it can be very beneficial.

Leftovers. If you have to throw away more than two items a week because they went bad in the fridge, you're doing it wrong. If you always have two pork chops left over and you throw them out because they got stale. Cook fewer pork chops. If you have a bunch of vegies, make stew or hash.

Portion. We eat portions that are way too big. Granted, there are some people who need more. For the most part, we could all use to stick to the recommended portion size. Fill up on vegetables with proteins in a salad. Garbonzo beans or nuts are good choices. It may take a little while to get used to, but your body will figure out that you are not starving.

Snacks. Be creative. Quesadillas made with inexpensive tortillas and cheap cheese are a nice treat. Graham crackers with peanut butter. Pretzels. Stay away from anything in individual packaging, unless it's a big sale.

Juice boxes. I get it. I really do. But thermos' don't shatter anymore and it only takes a minute to fill. And learning to enjoy flavored water is so good. A slice of lemon or orange will make it very flavorful by lunch time. Better for teeth, better for the environment, better for the budget.

Nothing really new there. You have to ready to commit to the challenge. Interestingly, it is becoming more affordable to buy fresh from local farms. So don't discount that. And be thinking of ways to barter with that gardening neighbor.

Please, please do not cry about the price of groceries if you're (1) not willing to give something up and (2) if you have a $6 coffee in your hand. I have nothing against $6 coffees, but you need to look at the bigger picture first. If you can't give things up, you must give up more time to work to afford things.

Eat, drink and be debt free!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Evaluating Self Worth

This isn't about self esteem. It's about the true worth for the work that is done.
When I sell on the online yard sale type forums, I do not make very much per hour. But I make enough to keep my head above water and it gets stuff out of my house. If I didn't need the money, I'd take it all to the thrift store. The tax deduction, likely, would be a better investment of time.

When I sell my hand crafted items, I'm fortunate if I make $5 an hour. Think about that the next time you are looking to buy something hand crafted.

So why do it? Because something's better than nothing. Because I truly enjoy the process. Because it is working well enough.

I have no intentions of this being my life forever, even if it often feels as though it is. For now, it is providing what I need.

And now I'm looking at it all from another angle. How much is my time worth to clean up and around all the stuff? How much time is spent fussing about stuff? Buying stuff. Cleaning stuff. Storing stuff. Disposing of stuff. It costs time as well as money.

My mantra has become: If it doesn't add light or life, it's not needed.
If it doesn't make me light, happy or it doesn't sustain existence, it's not worth keeping around.
So, more cleaning out tomorrow. Here's to hoping for lots of sales.

3 more days until the big payments. Sucking it in to tighten the belt. Breathing is over rated.

Monday, January 27, 2014

I Quit, I've had enough

Okay, not really. But some days just feel like that's the answer.

Just when you think you're doing well, something comes along and makes you want to throw in the towel. It may be an outside influence. Or, more likely, it's an internal instinct. The one that says, "This is bad, but it's what we know; so let's stick to it."

Change, even positive change, is frightening.

I have been thinking about the places where I have had to put aside my old way of living for a better life. In the last few years, there have been several stepping stones along the way. Few have been easy. Mostly they have been too small for my foot and slippery. I've slipped. Friends have helped me find my balance. I've fallen and pulled myself back up. I keep going.

But tonight, the pity party is forming. I want a day, heck a couple of hours, to curl up with a book and a cup of tea, without feeling guilty for not working on selling stuff. I want to go buy a cup of coffee, without calculating what I have to do to make it up. I want...

I want what I'm working for.

fine. You're right, universe, I'll keep working.

So what am I afraid of that is causing me to feel discouraged? I realize I'm afraid of losing my identity. No, really. Broke, scraping by, making do has been who I am for years. I don't know who I'll be when I'm done.
I am starting to think about what "me" will look like when money doesn't dominate every waking thought. I'm excited to meet that person.

Having clear goals has helped my through this rough patch of thinking it would be easier, and more fun, to just go back to living as I was.

I want to buy a cup of coffee, without figuring out if I just took money out of the electric bill for coffee.


Tomorrow I am going to schedule time to do something I enjoy. Read a book, watch a movie, take a walk. Something to keep my mind fresh and ready for a new way doing things.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Trash Talking

No, I mean trash, real trash, garbage.

I took a trip to the dump today. I guess they aren't called dumps any more, but that doesn't change what it is.

By taking my own trash to the dump, I saved about $50. With my new resolve to compost, recycle, and reduce what I bring in to begin with, I hope to not need to go back to the dump.

By buying a whole chicken and cutting it up myself, I have just the bag to discard. No more plastic tray.
Taking my own bags to the grocery to put produce in. Shopping the perimeter saves money and resources again.
Being aware of take out places that have compostable containers is worth the effort.

I am really encouraged by the resourceful uses of common items I'm seeing again. Pinterest has glorified imagination so it's trendy again. That's wonderful.

I am collecting tin cans to make lanterns. Pounding holes in the cans for the light and using old, wire coat hangers for handles. Pictures to come.

Tiny pallets, they're about 1/4 of a regular pallet, are becoming table tops. Or, perhaps, a plant stand. Imagination isn't a skill that has been exercised in a while, it's coming back to me fairly quickly.

And I finished a cowl to post for sale with a pair of fingerless gloves. Crochet really is something to fall back on.

The most important resource, people. By spending time with friends my needs are met. 

Vivid imagination and active reduction all lead to better uses of all my resources.

Saturday, January 25, 2014


A few months ago I went to an event that didn't, socially, dictate tipping. I appreciated that the young man working that night was doing so for salary alone and ended up staying late for us. So I slipped him a few bucks. It really wasn't much, later I wished I had given him more. That young man remembers me every time I go into that establishment, and falls over himself to make me feel welcome. Not because he made so much money, but because he was appreciated.

2, 4, 6,8 Who do you appreciate?

Do you tell them? Do you show them?

I'm not always good at it, but I try to practice a spirit of appreciation for the people who make the world a better place, in a big or little way. It catches on and comes around. 

It takes thought, but the world is such a better place if you see the effort people make for you as a gift, even if it is their job. It lifts them up and makes them want to do better.

Like a child wanting to please a parent. I guess we're all still children at heart, some times.

As I have run the numbers for the January/February budget, I've become appalled at my ability to waste money. Is so easy to not see it when we think of it in $10 or $20 increments. When it's added up, it's amazing. This has been a great reminder, already, of be conscience of my gifts and where I give them.

I appreciate you, each one that takes time to read this blog. Those who "like and share" it. When it is retweeted or google plussed. I am humbled that you would find my words worthy. Thank you

Yes, I still want a tablet. Yes, I still want a new couch. Yes, I still want to go to plays in the city. But I am thankful for what I do have.

When we can appreciate, be grateful, for what we have, it is so much easier to forget what we don't have.


Since I have been spending less time filling time, I take time.

I take time to care for things. Things I've been, ostensibly, too busy to do. Today I cleaned my HE washing machine. Which is supposed to be done every month. It's not like I have to climb in and remove parts to do this chore. Realizing that I have neglected this I decided it was time to do something else I've been avoiding, making a household schedule. So, on the 24th of February, my washer will be cleaned again.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
"It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?"Henry David Thoreau

In holding a discussion with some friends tonight, I realized I hadn't been to the eye doctor in over 2 years. I have insurance. Too busy, not enough time.

 "Time is what we want the most, but what we use the worst."  William Penn

I am taking the time to finish projects that have been hanging around. And to organize new projects so as to include a time frame.

"Make use of time, let not advantage slip.'" William Shakespeare

I am writing more than I ever have. Knowing that the kitchen is clean clears my mind to focus on the words that need to be written. My writing is filling a void that has been longing to be filled for my whole life. Lack of time management relegated my poetry to personal journals. Not wasted, but not valued.

"Until you value yourself, you will not value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it." M. Scott Peck

 If you, like me, have said, "I wish I could, but I don't have the time." look at your life. What will it take for you to have the time? Are you willing to make the sacrifice?

If time is money. How will I spend it? How will you?

Time passes by
like the plate on Sunday morning
If you are not prepared
the tempo is stalled
All around you stare, wondering,
"Didn't they pay attention?
Why are they not ready?"
The musician makes the song a little longer
You drop in your offering
Perhaps a little more than you intended
Because it's quicker
Then you wonder how you will pay
for gas to get you home and hope
that you can't out give God.
You hope, in your unpreparedness,
there is a way to make it up.
You hope there will be enough

Friday, January 24, 2014

Cornbread by Candlelight

Sometimes you have to make your own fun; when you do others join in too. Some folks in a town near me decided to break up the cold and the dark with an affordable meal and live music. The musicians come knowing they will depend on tips. Tonight was the first of this monthly event. It was a huge success. And it proves that a great idea will be rewarded with attendance.

The idea was that there would be no cover charge. Anyone could come and enjoy the company and music. There were two items on the menu with a flat rate charged. Drinks were extra. Some ate and drank; some drank; some bought nothing but contributed to the tip jar. All were welcome, none were judged. That's the way things should be.

It was a great time. If you happen to be in Langley, Washington on February 20, 2014, stop in at the Braeburn Restaurant ( for the second event. The guest musician will be different, but the fun, friendly atmosphere will be the same.

Jim Page and Timothy Hull were the musicians tonight. I don't have a web site for Jim Page, if anyone can help me out there, you can find him in Seattle, WA.

It's amazing what you can find, if you're looking in the right direction.
Timothy Hull

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Big Picture Kind of Day

I have spent a lot of time today thinking about the bigger picture. What being debt free will mean and where I want my money to go when I'm there.

Thinking about the next step has helped me refocus on the current one. My frustration blew it's top yesterday because I was only looking at the moment. When I stepped back I could see the bigger picture again.

Ah huh!

The only way to see the whole picture is to step back.

Not a set back, a set up. So here we go again. Renewed energy, refreshed focus, resounding resolve.

As the painter of my own portrait I was seeing only the fine detail that I was working on. When a painter does that, their arm grows tired and muscles get sore. And the colors wash together. The best thing they can do is take a break.

Now I am scheduling breaks for myself. Not that I am going to purposefully spend money, but incorporating time and events to keep my mind busy.

I'm 9 days out from having two big checks to write. I can cover them, but it leaves precious little to live on until the following pay day. So, if I want luxuries, like fuel in the car, I have to get my tail in gear and earn it. Time to get my creative juices flowing. I have two crafts I'm working on to sell. Neither has any cost to make, so it's all win for me. So I must get to work on them. I'll post pictures when they're done.

Resourcefulness takes imagination.

As I look a my future, I feel more confident and sure of myself than I think I ever have.

Money saving moment of the day. Ha, you're going to love this. I live in a rural area. The farmer up the road had tilled his field. As I drove by I thought how beautiful the dirt looked. Ah-huh! So I stopped and asked if he would mind if I got some dirt for my container garden. He laughed at first. I said I didn't want to presume or trespass. That I wanted to respect his property, but I just couldn't stand the idea of buying dirt. He said he appreciated my asking and was sure he wouldn't miss what I took. So, free pots, free fertilizer, free dirt. I'm on a roll.

Remember, you never know until you ask.

What would I do if money wasn't an issue?

Why does money have to decide that? I will do what I can with what I have and if I want to do something, I'll find the money to do it.

Uh-oh, I'm afraid I might be growing up.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Bad Days Happen

Today was not a good financial decision day. I made an impulse buy, based solely on an emotional response to a situation I couldn't control.

There, I admitted it.

Okay, so it was $16. But when I have been working so hard to save every dollar I can, it's a set back. Or it's an opportunity to look at why I made the choice I made. The irony is, I did it because it's something I enjoy doing. I bought a box of chocolates (yes, I spent $16 on a box of amazing chocolates from a local company) and walked around offering them to the people at work. I ate 2 pieces, gave the rest away. It makes people smile and feel good that they get to have a special treat. And it makes me feel good doing it.

That's what I was looking for. That feel good moment of a random act of kindness. It's not a bad idea. However, there were plenty of things I could have done that did not cost money.

And, unlike the other day, I regret spending the money. I don't regret making 14 people feel appreciated. I will be wiser next time. I do have to learn to walk away and look around.

It made me look at other places in my life where I spend my resources, not always money, without thinking about the bigger picture.

Not saying "no", when I know doing one more thing will be too much. Letting someone else make a choice for me without standing up for what I want. It is so much more than money.

Oh good. Another character trait to work on.

So, I spent money. I will have to work tomorrow to make it up. I made the choice and now I'll live with it.

Have to admit, it was darn good chocolate.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Alone is not lonely

I am learning a lesson. I just hate it when I have to learn a lesson. I'm so bad at learning things the easy way. I'm not even sure I know the easy way.

The lesson that I'm learning is how to be alone.

I know, right. For some of you, that's a preferred lifestyle. Others of you just threw your hands up and said, "Oh no you are not!" For me, the very social; people oriented; outgoing person, to sit at home alone for more than a day, is tough. It's not unachievable.

What have I learned?

The still, small voice is easier to hear if I don't have the voices of people ringing in my ears.

The things I want my home to be are more achievable if I am here to work on them. (seems pretty obvious, huh)

To love myself and believe in myself, I need to spend time with myself.

To make flowers grow, you have to pull the weeds. I can more clearly tell the weeds, people or activities, that are crowding out the flowers.

That I am a better friend when I've taken time to recharge. This is advise I've given new parents. Now I'm finding it applies to all of life.

That when there is someone else in my life, I will know myself well, which will make the relationship better.

So step outside your social norm safety zone. If you always have to be around people, be alone. If you avoid people, join in. If you turn the t.v. on for the noise the minute you walk in, don't. Take a step and see what happens.

Do I get lonely? Of course I do. To love and be loved is a core human need. I handle those moments as they come. I call or text friends. I go out and see if I meet someone. I stand in front of a mirror and remind myself that I am learning. Which leads to some pretty interesting conversations between me, myself and I. I cry. It's okay you know, crying. It purges the soul to make room for growth.

   I am still a very social, people oriented, outgoing person. But now I am a better friend to myself for spending time with me. Yes, circumstances brought me to this place, I wouldn't try it on my own.

See, I couldn't do this the easy way.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Over 1000 Views! Woo Hoo!



So, the weekend is over. How'd I do on my $300 goal?

I made $30.

The people in life were more important than the goal, that's as it should be.

I know I did the right thing because I don't feel bad about it. That's the truest test.

It all comes back to relationships.

There was still plenty of conscientious spending and saving that contributed to the over all success. Buying meat that was 50% off because it would expire the next day. I froze it as soon as I got home.
Buying just what I needed for sandwiches. Discount bread. And bartered eggs.

While I did some work at home, I listened to the football game on the radio. Congratulations to the Seattle Seahawks! I canceled television from my internet package long ago. I am always busy doing other things, so I choose to save that money for those things.

It all sounds like a lot of work. I suppose it is. But it's a lifestyle for me now and I'm comfortable with it. Yes, it does bother me that I have to do these things. I look forward to walking into a grocery store and buying without worrying about if I have the money. I also know that I will always watch the prices, check the bargain racks, and be careful about buying too much. These are not bad things.

It all comes back to choice.

Tonight I'm feeling excited. I know that when I hit "publish" it will only take three views to be over 1000. Thank you all for the constant support. It helps knowing that I'm not in this alone.

It all comes back to support.

I am trusting that I will make the money else where. One never knows where it may come from.
As I was soaking my tired muscles in a hot bath with homemade lavender and Epsom milk bath, using the Christmas gift of homemade Honey Lavender Scrub I thought, "This is good, this is very good."

There are times when we have to choose to work or exercise or not go out. If you trust your instincts, you'll know which is right.

I'm excited how I find to make up the $270 I didn't make this weekend. Stay tuned!

This weekend I chose to support relationships.

Thank you Lord for people
Who bring art into our lives
Thank you for the people
Who make the economy thrive

Thank you for the cashier
And for the delivery man
Thank you for the musician
And the one that picks up my trash can

Thank you for the friend
That made my treat with honey
Thank you for the friends
That are worth so much more than money

Frugal doesn't have to be bland

Frugal breakfast: 2 eggs, bartered; 1 cheddar cheese pkg, .50; 2 slices of ham from the .79 pkg.; bread from the clearance rack .99 (so about .03 a piece); homemade jam, gift.

So I splurged and used a paper plate.

Yes, buying a bulk block of cheese is cheaper, if you cook with it a lot or are willing to take the time to freeze it in portions that works for you. I have done that, and likely will again. However, if you have limited space or limited funds, this is a sensible option.

Another omelet option is the single serving lunch packs. The ones with cheese, meat, crackers, and a snack. These often go on sale for .79. The crackers can either be instead of toast or packaged away for soup later. And who doesn't love having a bite size snack on hand?

Just wanted to share my frugal moment. Have a great day!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Cheap food day

Today was about long term planning for frugal living. The short term goal is to pay off the debt, but now I'm starting to think about the bigger picture. There are so many places I want to see; travel takes money.

So, when I saw that a local nursery had plant pots for free, I went and got some. They aren't pretty, they're functional. They will be good for starts and container gardening. Growing my own produce will save me quite a bit of money. I compost and I have been offered manure, so I don't have to buy potting soil. And I glean seeds from produce, so no seeds to buy. I'm also going to try to barter for some plant starts in the spring. Making this venture free.

I did have a down moment this evening. As I got settled in, began to wonder the Internet and write tonight's blog, I felt a wave of doubt and feeling of being over whelmed by life. I can't explain where it came from, but it was a very discouraging feeling. Most of the time social media and this blog fixes it, but not tonight. Just as I was struggling to write, my phone rang.

My daughter was feeling overwhelmed by all the things she has to do to be ready for college in the fall and the idea of going to college. My first thought was, "I don't want to be a parent right now."  I really didn't have words to comfort her, so I made her laugh. And I laughed.

We both felt better.

In giving her advise, I realized I need to do the thing I've been procrastinating about doing. I need a list.

I know, I'm not a list person either. But I must admit they are a very useful tool. So I am making a to do list and an I want to do list.

Organization pushes productivity leading to successful completion.

As I am putting things on the paper, I feel better about my ability to get things done, and the things I have already done.

I figured out another frugal food trick. I went to the deli counter and got 4 slices of really good cheese. $1.49. Then the store bakery clearance rack $0.99 for a loaf of bread. And .79 for a small package of ham. Grilled sandwich for dinner. Two pieces of cheese and half the ham left. Those will be wrapped up in the eggs I picked up from a barter deal. Less than $3.00 for two really good meals, very nice.

By writing down how I've succeeded I've improved my outlook on this project. I am telling my story and it is empowering me.

P.S. When I was walking to my car I saw a metal emblem on the ground. I thought it said, "Hope" but it didn't. I thought

Hope is where you look for it, even if it's not exactly what you thought it would look like.

Friday, January 17, 2014


Misery loves company.

I have always thought that that refers to two miserable people loving being miserable together. Today gave that saying a new meaning for me.

A friend is going through some dark days and I have been feeling the stress of life situations. So today I went to help her and her husband, who was sick in bed, at their farm. Now I can't say I was a lot of help, but we had a great time. We scraped the misery off our work shoes and walked away better.

As I prounced behind her like a six year old sister, we talked. We talked about family. We talked about where we live. We talked about life. We even talked about politics. We fed chickens, delivered eggs, and brought horses up from pasture. And I learned life lessons.

Some times you have to take a hen pecked chicken out of the brood to give her time to get strong and heal. Eventually she must go back and hold her own.

Getting hen pecked doesn't mean you don't keep doing your job. Stop laying and your dinner.

Horses will meet you half way. If you let them know what you expect, they'll meet you every time. Not so with humans.

If a horse isn't familiar with something it'll either be spooked by it or be mean to it. That sounds like some humans I know.

And I was reminded of the most important lesson we learn from farm animals:
If manure is left laying around it creates problems, but pile it up and let it break down and it will be come the best black gold.

So do the dirty work of cleaning those piles up and, eventually, they'll decompose into rich soil for growth.

This day was rich and full.

No, I'm not going to go buy chicks.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Peace Sister!

Relief came today. My pay was $20 more than I planned on and there was an additional check for the back pay of our new contract.

Breathing room. No reason, however, to think I can relax and spend money. It's not done until it's done.

So I set a lofty goal, to make $300 in three days with my online sales. The most difficult part of this will be making myself stay home when I want to go play. So it is short term reward time. There is an exhibit I'd like to go to on Sunday. It is free, but it will take about half a tank of gas round trip. If I make the goal, I'm going to the exhibit.

Hey, by the way, by taking the bus these two days a tank of gas has lasted 12 days.

When I went out to catch the bus this morning, the second time, a friend stopped to pick me up. We had a wonderful discussion about commitment, sacrifice, and the daily decision to stick with a goal.
What ever the goal may be, it is tough to give up something to get something else, sticking to the commitment is as rewarding as the completion of the goal.

 At the end of my shift a gentleman came into the cafeteria and we had a brief conversation that ended with him saying, "Good things are usually right in front of us, if we're willing to look." To which I replied, "Yeah, but sometimes we have to do some work to fully enjoy them."

During the course of this day a friend passed me quickly, "Peace Sister!" she called as she bustled down the hallway.
Made me smile, she usually does, peace is what the work of this day has made for me to fully enjoy. Peace in my spirit. Peace in my work . Peace in my mind.
Peace Sisters and Brothers

Oops, Guess I'll have to have a good day anyway

    Well I might as well laugh. I dragged myself out of bed at 4:30 am. Got out to the bus. Exchanged pleasantries with my fellow bus rider. Got to work and, here's the funny part, realized I read the schedule wrong. I don't have to be to work until 9:30.

I could still be asleep.

   This is where a choice of attitude comes into play. I could be angry. I could be bummed. Or I could laugh it off and find some good.

You got it.
    I got a little morning walk in by going down to the park and ride stop.
    I found out that the north bound bus goes through town, even in the early morning. Where as the southbound bypasses until later in the day.
    I started a new crochet project.
    I'll spend some time writing
    And I'm looking forward to watching the sun rise.

    Make a choice today to have a good day. Do not be defined by a mistake that is not life or death. Learn from it and make tomorrow better.

Okay, maybe I'll just lay my head down for a minute.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


The fog rolled in over night. As I watched it burn off I thought of the day, at a friends house, I saw the different shades in the fog. I saw the beauty in the fog. I saw the hope in the darkness.

I realized that I wasn't waiting for hope in my life. It was already there. All the good things I wanted I already had, right there, in that place. I couldn't see more than a few steps ahead. The only way to progress was to move slowly.

When I have tried to push through I have plowed into something or someone. Causing me to have to stop or, worse still, reverse. I'd patch the hole and troll on.

Today I stood out waiting for the bus, saving my precious gas ration, and thinking about the fog. How it blankets the earth and made it warm for me to be outside. Then, in the afternoon, waiting for the return bus the sun was shining.

That is what I think I'll feel like at the end of February. That warm sun shining down on me filled my body and mind with the sensation of peace.

Take heart. The fog is thick and dark. Look carefully for silver linings. Move slowly, with intention. When you break through, the warmth of peace is thrilling. I have hope that the sunshine is coming.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


I had a few discussion today with people who read yesterdays post.

One was with a friend who told me how she has been paying off their bills while her husband spends exorbitant amounts on a hobby. How well I remember those feelings. When someone is supposed to be supporting you, working with you, to make things better and they aren't. I commend that friend for doing something I couldn't, succeeding. She has paid off much, and their lives are better for it. I hope he sees what she's done, and is grateful. If not, I hope she can take pride in the accomplishment of freeing herself from that burden.

Another was with a friend who is struggling with finances on her own. She is considering making the sacrifice to live in her truck. This is a trend that has been romanticized in news stories lately. We exchanged cheap food ideas. I was reminded of how good I really have it. She is surrounded by people who don't understand all that she is going through. She is putting down false supports in order to free herself from the hurts of the past. The emotional turmoil she faces will be fierce, but she is doing it anyway. She is an inspiration to me.

I made a choice to be alone. I made a choice to pay bills on credit cards. Now I have made a choice to live thrifty so I can be free of this burden. While I miss companionship, I don't miss having someone working against me. And I am no longer relying on false supports, like credit cards, to make my life good. I see them for what they really are. Most of all, I recognize that I have been working against myself. Now I am working for me. For my future.

And I have you. Together we are finding out that laying down a burden can be difficult, but when it is done there will be much rejoicing and we will dance.

Beans and rice are a complete protein. Cheap eats. $1 for bologna and $1 for a loaf of bread. Cheap eats. Tuna for $1.50 a can. Cheap eats. Knowing that I am making my life better. Priceless.

Time for bed. Going to get up early and catch the bus. One tank of gas in two weeks. Pretty good.

What would you give to be care free?
What would cost you in the end?
What are your burdens?
Are the foe or friend?

When your cares are pain
For one's for whom you care
The cost is a price
You can certainly bare

But when the cares
Come from a self made blunder
The cost is worth the work
To get out from under

So do the what you must
To set yourself free
Then together we'll make music
And dance ever so freely

Monday, January 13, 2014


"What would you do if money wasn't a factor?" my friend asked me. I answered something rote and ridicules.

Truth is, I don't know what I'd do. There has never been a time in my life that I didn't have to watch the budget. Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without has been a life theme.

I don't think I will ever really live much differently. But I do look forward to having the peace of mind that comes from being debt free.

Today I was telling a friend about the trail I am forging. She said she was impressed with my decision and my will to lay this burden down.

Moments like that keep me going. It is difficult to do this alone. So many of the stories I read are of couples or families. People with support. When I come home there's no one to watch a movie with or cook dinner together or plan for what we will do when we get through this.

No matter what the decision to change involves, doing it alone is difficult. What do I do to make it better? Well, I write about it. Here and in a personal journal. I talk to friends and they continue to encourage me. And I focus on this making me a better person for the future "whoever" may be in my life. In order to be fully present to build a relationship, I can't be tied down to past burdens.

And sometimes I just sit here and cry.

It's okay, ya know. Sometimes a good cry or hollering at nothing can feel really good.

I also think that there of the things I can be doing because I'm alone. I do have time to post. I have time to write. I have time to find new ideas. I am not leaving someone waiting for me to be done.

So what would I do if money wasn't a factor? I'd quit my job and travel the world and write. Perhaps that will be the next goal.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Art of a smile

There are times in life when the greatest gain comes from the smallest gift. Several years ago a dog wondered into my yard. I live near a busy road, so I got the dog inside and found a neighbor who knew the owner of the dog. I left a message and, when he returned home, he came to get his pooch. He brought with him a lovely bowl, that he had made, as a thank you gift.

Today I saw that man again. I hadn't seen him since that day. There was a beautiful bowl on the table near him and I asked if I could touch it. I relayed that story to him and his family. He sat up, looked at me and said, "I did that once. Do you live in the green house?" The room instantly filled with smiles and laughter, as we realized it was his dog I had rescued that day.

Art is such a gift. I remember as a child thinking that my mother told me that homemade gifts were the best kind in order to salve my pride of not being able to get store bought. Now I meet so many people who wish they could do one hand craft or another. I realize that store bought has created a fear of not being good enough. "I could never paint for other people, I'm not good enough." Yet, in creating these things, imperfection becomes beauty. Art is defined by the beholder, as is beauty.

The soul of the creator is felt in the materials as you touch them. I feel it in the wood work of my father. The embroidery of my mother. My sisters knitting, another's painting, and another's wood shop mirror with my name on it. In blanket on my bed, made by Tammy. And in that bowl. Made by man who loves his dog, and was grateful someone took care of her. That simple bowl is a symbol of love and gratitude.

I look around my home at the beautiful art contributed by so many hands. They fill my world with love. There are beautiful store bought gifts as well. Things carefully chosen with me in mind. One doesn't trump the other. All have meaning and value.

Then there are gifts that transcend things. A kind word, a hug, a pat on the back. Each an expression of humanity. "A smile can be art.", that gentleman philosophized to his daughter. Indeed.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Drip by Drip

If you put a bucket under a dripping faucet it will, eventually, fill the bucket.

That's how my life feels right now. Sometimes, even though I know that it is filling the need, the sound of it can become annoying. I just want to yell, "Someone turn that faucet on and fill the darned thing already!"

No one does. Throngs of people haven't stormed my house to toss bills at me or to read a telegraph from an old friend to forward me money, as they did for our old friend George.

People tell me they're impressed. They wish me luck. Their encouragement isn't cash, but each one is a drop in the bucket. It doesn't always feel like it's so much, but put together it helps me stay focused.


The little bit here and there are starting to add up as well. As the week comes to an end, I've made $85 in sales. I sell things I have and some friends have offered me things to sell. I'm careful to only take what I know I can sell. I don't want to bring things in that will only clutter my home, then I have to dispose of them. And I crochet items for sale. I skill that has served me well.


Now I am looking around my home to come up with things I can re-purpose into saleable items. This will serve three purposes. It will clean out my house, fill my time and it will make some money.

drip, drip

My treat of the day was going to the library. My favorite money saver of all time. The library is my source for books, seems obvious, movies and books on cd. I don't drive far to work, but books on cd are really nice when I have a project to work on that takes my visual focus.


 I opened my wallet, the first time all week, to get my library card out and found $8. I was tempted to go to the bakery and see if there were any day old cinnamon rolls with raisins in the bin. I went by, even parked. Then I reminded myself of the goal, pulled out and came home with the $8 still in my wallet.

drip, drip

Little bits. Choices. Making the commitment daily to save anything I can.

Filling my bucket one drip at time.

Open Mic Night Breaks My Fever

There is a fairly new group in my little town that holds an open mic night every month. It's a free, public event. All are welcome. But there is a core group of faithful musicians, poets and story tellers that show up and practice performing or speaking the written word.

I always enjoy going to this event. It is very simple. No food or drink. Sometimes there isn't even a mic. Just a group of people who embrace expressive arts.

This simple event creates community. 

When I slipped in tonight, I went right from work so it had already started, there were smiles and nods to greet me. It was like a quiet version of the "Cheers!" line, "NORM!"

At the end of the evening there is a Q & A session, then time to chat. The time to talk to each artist about their work, to compare notes on structure and form, to praise or be praised is enjoyed by all.

These events can get so complicated and formal. In a world where blow up bouncy structures and people leaving a party with more gifts than they came with is common, it's nice when people can get together and enjoy each others company without pretension or fan fare.

I had an opportunity to try a few new poems out, to practice speaking in public and to listen to the great works of others. All while staying true to my budget living. Tis sweet, indeed.

Cost of the event $0
Cost of the gas $0 (this event was held on the route between work and home, since I went right from work to the Open Mic Night, no extra gas was used.)

My cabin fever melted away. Soul refreshed and ready for a new day!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Cabin Fever

Well, I made it through the first week of this extreme saving time. When I wasn't at work, I was home working on selling goods or on things that would save money.

The only social interaction I've had was with the repair man and the woman sitting in the waiting area, when I had the nail removed from my car tire. And the few minutes with the folks I purchased a bicycle from. And facebook.

Being a social person, this has been hard for me. I would usually hop in the car and head to a coffee shop or wine bar or play or something with lots of people. By not doing that I've learned a few things.

1) Facebook is fun, but no substitute for face to face interaction.
       There's an old story about a child crying in the night. When the well intended parent tells the child that they need only to trust God to care for them, the child replies, "I trust God, but sometimes I need someone with skin on."
       Part of our being includes the need for interaction with other humans who both cherish us and challenge us.
      I will make more effort to have face time and stay on goal.

2) I can live a quiet life, if I have to.
      Through out the week I have grown closer to myself. I have discovered I can develop some pretty darn annoying habits pretty quick, especially if I don't think anyone will be coming by to visit. This has given me a good look at the bad habits I need to break, like piling the clean laundry on the chair. It has also helped me to find the time to do some of those things I've been meaning to do, like clean out the back room. It has given me time to think about what I want to do and how I accomplish those things.
3) I need to think like a 20 year old again.
       Well, in some ways. I am thinking about ways to be socially active with out spending money, in a more grown up context. Movie and game nights still are fun. Now I'm, also, looking at inviting local authors and musicians in to my home to promote their projects. Social interaction, supporting the arts, and saving money. Win.

4) I am having to remember the bigger picture.
       My family lives far away from me. There have been some things come up that make me want to fly home. It's not that I could really do anything about these things. And with a blizzard bearing down, I would probably end up stuck somewhere. So I have to sit tight and remember that in a few weeks the weather will turn and, by then, I will be financially free.

5) I don't miss a lot of things.
       On an up note.
       I don't miss pumping gas. It has been cold, rainy and windy. While I am so thankful that it isn't as bad as some places, it is still cold. By not being on the go, I'm not using as much gasoline.
       I don't miss worrying about how to make money stretch.
       Most of all, I don't miss feeling like I'd never be able to get out of this hole.

So, on to week two. Starting with selling the stuff I cleaned out of the back room.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

For better, For worse, For you

For better, for worse
That wedding promise
Given to someone else

Did you ever consider
Making that promise
To yourself

To stick with it
No matter come
What may

To stay the course
With diligence
Until success came your way

Perhaps there is wisdom
Whether you be
Married or not

To take the vows daily
With the trinity within
For the love that is sought

When you can peer
Into the looking glass
Seeing blessing not curse

Then you will know
Alone or with another
You are ready for better or worse.

      This has been a profitable day. My goal is to make $25 a day over my income. I am achieving this by selling possessions and hand made goods. Today I made $30. It doesn't sound like a lot, but it means I'm on track and I am that much closer to the goal.
      In a funny moment. I have unplugged every thing in my kitchen, to save electricity. I went to look at the time and realized the batteries in the clock had died. None of the electronics were available. I put battery for clock on my shopping list.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

No One Said It Was Going To Be Easy

"No one said it was going to be easy" I laughed out loud when I read this tweet this morning.

I don't think I know the easy way to do anything. Sometimes I feel like I take the hard road to every place I go. It is exhausting and, often, discouraging. But I forge on until I am where I want to be. Some think that this makes me stronger or better of a person. Perhaps it does. What I do know is that hard work if rewarded.

Some of the challenges I've faced in the last few days have been difficult. Working through them has left me exhausted. Then there is a moment of progress and it is enough to keep me moving

I was lamenting how much time finding ways to save money or earn extra money was taking away from my writing time. I thought about how I was going to maximize the limited time I do have. As the day progressed several writing ideas came to mind. Each time I would stop and write it down. Now, as the day comes to a close, I have several pages of notes to work from and two new poems started. In honoring my craft with conscience thought, ideas are coming to me. I am fitting it in and it is plenty.

Now, as I get ready to call it a day for an early shift tomorrow, I look at a list I made today. At the top is this question, "Who told you it would be easy?"

Life is hard. By our own making or by nature, life has challenges. It's not personal. You're not in this alone. There isn't one answer that solves every persons problems.

There are rewards. And they are worth all the work. For me, it will be financial freedom to enjoy my life. What will it be for you?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Second Opinion

I got a second opinion on the nail in my tire. Turns out it could be patched.
I got a second opinion on a payment plan for a credit card. It will be painful, but it will be paid off in two months instead of eight. And with a substantial savings.
I got a second opinion on the value of something and made $40 more than I had hoped.

    So many times we get wrapped up in the tension of the moment that we forget that there may be another way, a more affordable way, to accomplish something.

    Then we feel like we're doing something wrong if we talk to the companies that can help us. When, in fact, they would rather we did talk to them.
     Today is Epiphany. The day that celebrates the arrival of the wise men to Bethlehem. Those men had followed a star for 1000's of miles, and yet they asked a second opinion of Herod and his religious leaders. They didn't hesitate to ask the people who could help them.

Neither should we. Asking for help is not bad or begging. It is humbly acknowledging you need help solving a problem. When you do this the solution may come faster than you think it will.

A second opinion can be worth a lot of money and present a great epiphany of it's own.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Life came knocking

Just when I thought I could start to relax...ever feel that way?

That's how I felt today when the low pressure light came on in my car. A trip to the service department revealed a nail in my tire. To make it better, it is not in a place that can't be patched. So all my savings is going to buy a tire.

"I should just give up." "I'll never get a head." "Just my luck."

These are things I did not say. There was a "dawg gone it" moment. And there was apprehension as I waited to find out how much it would cost. But once I knew it was within my means, I could relax.

I am proud of myself for keeping perspective and not throwing it all in just because of this thing. While I am not ahead, I had the money I needed because I had been thrifty. It is a good feeling. Being able to cover what life brings me, that's the best feeling of all.

No matter what challenge you face today, put it in proper perspective. I could have said, "That's it, I'm buying what I want. What difference does it make." Instead I got home and posted items for sale to make up the cost.

This is a terrific feeling. Life happened, as it will, and I was prepared.

Life came knocking, and I invited it in and gave it bread.

Not gonna let this nail me down!

Saturday, January 4, 2014


Bought myself a bag today. I didn't really need the bag. But I really liked it and decided that I would spend the $2 to get it.
Wait, $2? You had to think about $2?
Yes, I did. I thought about the commitment to extreme savings. The commitment to free my life of stuff (this would be bringing something into the house) and to be debt free (every dollar spent on stuff was not being applied to the debt).

Sometimes we have to let ourselves enjoy something. When we do this, three questions should come to mind. "Will this make my life better?"  "Will it add more than it subtracts?" and "Will I feel guilty?"
Take time, pause, breathe, walk away.
If you decide to make the purchase and it fills you with excitement, look at why that thing gives you that feeling. Identifying it will help you to learn other ways of controlling that feeling.

I like my bag. I could have left it on the shelf and be just as content as I am now. And I can shop green. Also, there was another bag that was $10 that I did leave in the store. I am very happy with the one I got.

Remember to enjoy life, but do it responsibly. I didn't charge anything and I didn't go over my budget.

Friday, January 3, 2014

A snip in time

I was telling some people at work about keeping this blog journal about extreme savings. The immediate question was, "Are you going to be one of those extreme couponers that get a basket full of food for $30?"
No, as a matter of fact, I don't intend to purposefully clip coupons at all.
There was a time when I had a family of five to feed, clean up after, and diaper that I was an extreme couponer. It was something I did to stretch the grocery budget. I clipped all the coupons. What I couldn't use, I could trade. I read flyers, price matched and double couponed. It was an organizational wonder that saved us thousands of dollars. If you have the time, it is a valuable thing to do.
 If you search "coupon" thousands of sites that will show you their best way of doing this effectively will come up. The one that is best for you is the one that you can work with. Like a diet, if it's too anything you won't stick to it.
   If I find a coupon on the isle or see a special in a paper, I will use it. But that process takes time and I can save or make more doing other things.
   What I will do is be aware of my purchases. I can get a hot and ready chicken for $6. Why with the time and the electricity cost it's cheaper to buy it cooked. Hold on, look again. That precooked chicken is two pounds. The uncooked, do it yourself, is 4 lbs. Ahhhh

I didn't make anything extra today. But I did go sit at the coffee place with my daughter and I didn't buy anything. And a friend contributed some things for me to sell. So that will be great.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Lessons of balance

I intended to take the bus to work today. When I woke up at 3 a.m. and saw the rain my resolve melted. The car won.

I took my lunch, the second bowl of that soup from yesterday, instead of buy it. And I spent my break time crocheting a hat to be posted for sale. So, I rationalized, I had balanced the gas expense.

It got me to thinking about the choice I am making. The reaction has been either admiration or passive recognition. It is, after all, January second. Lots of goals were set yesterday. And I was already hedging, "Maybe I won't post every day." "It's okay I didn't take the bus. I saved a little somewhere else." Would this become just another new years resolution washed away with the blustering wind and rain?

Today was a reminder of how tough this challenge is going to be. There were moments when I was proud of my effort. Moments when I cried because I thought there was going to be an unexpected expense already. The best moment was when I realized this is starting to work. I made a little money today. More importantly, I made a commitment to my future.

I sold one of the yoga mats I had advertised. $10

Sold  2 dolls for $50. +$25 (these are being sold for a friend, I get 1/2)

And the check I was expecting came in. I forgot there would be a new year increase +$11

I'm at +$46. Not every day is this good. The goal is to have more good days than not good days.

Todays lessons.
 It's okay to give yourself a little as long as it is balanced.
 Effort is rewarded, eventually. Patience is required.
This decision has to be made every day.

I can't seem to get this to flow as smoothly as I'd like it to, but I have to get to sleep for another early morning. Perfectionism won't stop me from posting today either.

Good night.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Day 1: Chicken soup ala leftovers

I know there are a lot of people out there who are living cheap because of life circumstances. I have been there. Having been there I have some crazy mad thrifty skills.
"You're resourceful. I like that about you." Was a comment I received recently.
So I have decided that I am going to live extremely frugally so that I can pay off two credit card bills. I could continue to pay minimums on these cards and live a comfortable life. But I want to be free of this burden as quickly as I can.

I have some advantages. I acknowledge them and will attempt to give ideas to make ideas work should you not have that advantage.

So, I begin my quest to debt free living.

What did I do today?
I posted several items for sale sites. One on Craigslist. The rest on local Facebook Buy, Sell, Trade groups.
I did two large loads of laundry. Now this may not seem important, but it takes a while for a single person to have one large load, much less two.
It was a sunny day, so I opened all the curtains to warm up the house. Then I closed them as the sun moved to the backside of the house. So I was able to keep the thermostat turned down.
And I made leftovers soup for dinner. Here's that:
  I had purchased a pre-cooked chicken for my daughter and I. I put that in the crock pot and let it cook down. Then I took left over onions, squash and rice and put it in a pot with some of the chicken broth and bits of chicken. When it was hot, I put a day old roll on the bottom of the bowl and poured the soup on top of it. This made two large bowls of soup. Super quick and easy.
I will portion the remaining chicken broth in a standard muffin tin and freeze. Then I'll transfer the disks into a container. When I want soup or gravy I can pull one out of the freezer.
The alarm clock is going to go off very early in the morning. So my final act of saving today will be going to bed early. Electronics unplugged will save on the bill.

I hope you find some of this helpful. Every little bit helps, I suppose. Perhaps it will help just knowing you're not alone in the journey.
Chicken soup from what ever leftovers I could find in the fridge.

Yet Another New Year Post

When I run my finger across the spines of the short stories that make up 2013, I find they are a diverse collection. Some comedy. Some romance. Some triumph of human spirit. Some tragedy. Some how-to. Beginning with love lost, ending with the loss of a loved one.

What I notice is the book ends. Not the simple, metal ends, slid under the first few books. They are ornate and substantial, in the form of a woman. While they look a like, they don't match.

On one end there is a strong woman who is finding her voice and stance. She's still wobbling with the unsurety of standing up for herself. She is simple, yet polished. She is perched precariously close to the edge, and yet she hold up the weight of the beginning of the row.

On the other end is a woman who has found her voice and her stance. And yet, she still wobbles a little. Standing up for herself has come at a cost. She knew it would. But the dividends out weighed the price. She is ornate, adorned with the jewels that life has given her. She too is precariously close to the edge. But this time it's the edge of possibility.

Then there is the shelf its self. It is strong and able to hold the weight of all that is placed on it. Cut from good wood, supported with strong brackets, anchored into the wall. Just when it would start to sag, someone would come in and turn out to be a bracket instead of a book. Adding to the story, but not to the weight.

So I close the back cover on 2013. Slide it in the last little space. Like any good book, it has made me laugh and cry; bored me and held me captive; made be want to slam it shut and kept me up at night turning pages. Best of all it has enriched me and left me with some thoughts:

How does it define me? What will I do with what I've learned? When will I write the next story? Where will the story be set? Who will fill the pages with me?

2014 is not a blank book, there are notes scribbled on the inside cover. Keen words from the past, meant to be reminders and inspiration of what was experienced. Inscribed by the author.

I take up my I will help some friends...a good beginning.

May this year be the story you would want to read.