More free goodies.

Every day I try to pop over to the My Good Cents page (under frugal living on the sidebar).  Anything that says free sample gets my attention.  So far I’ve gotten a coupon for a free Kashi frozen dinner, info for free bowling for kids, two $1 $2 printable coupons for any size All 3x and Mighty detergent, free seeds from Campell’s Soup and a free (ahem) intimate raincoat.  Hey, it was free.

Reynolds is giving away a coupon for a roll of their recycled aluminum foil.  I signed up for that.  And just a little while ago, I signed up for a sample of Dunkin Donuts coffee.  They had a blog widget which actually works.  Half the time I can’t get the widgets to work.  So, there it is,  Hope you find it useful.

Today, still at My Good Cents, I read that Home Depot has a buy one get one free seed sale in honor of Earth Day (4-19 to 4-28).  I missed out on the free compact fluorescent bulb.  I stopped by and got lavender seeds, because I don’t have any, and organic cantaloupe, because I’m trying to change my evil ways and buy organic seeds.  Not that I have any more room for anything else on the grow rack, but I started a few of the lavender seeds and tomorrow I’ll plant a few cantaloupe seeds.

Happy Gardening!!!


Creative Choices for Christmas

Christmas is almost here bringing with it colorful displays of Old St. Nick with Rudolph & Company. For people with large families with many kids and grand kids and son-in-laws and daughter-in-laws (or should that be sons-in-law and daughters-in-law?) and sisters and brothers and nieces and nephews and cousins and aunts and uncles and friends and acquaintances and mail carriers and newspaper deliverers and people you want to remember for Christmas, the holidays can become very expensive very quickly.

Here’s where economical savviness comes in. A gift created from a re-purposed item doesn’t have to be a bad gift. You can go to a thrift store and find perfectly useful items that cost next to nothing and pass them on as useful and appreciated gifts. Think of it as creative recycling.

Recently I found a brand new bread maker at a thrift store. I kissed a lot of proverbial frogs to find it because I looked at at least six other bread makers in the store before I found this one, but with a little time and effort I have a brand new bread maker complete with instruction manual for the amazingly low price of $10. I could have taken a chance on getting it for $5 because the next morning everything in the store would have been half off, but I figured I can’t be the only economically savvy person in the world who gets a lay of the land the day before a sale so I can come back and grab the best goodies. (By the way, this doesn’t go under the Christmas tree, it goes on my kitchen counter. I need all the help I can get to make a good loaf of bread).

There was a time (a long, long time ago) when I’d be embarrassed if somebody saw me in a thrift store. Then it occurred to me: Silly girl, you’re both in the thrift store. Two embarrassed thrift store shoppers equals one I-won’t-tell-if-you-won’t-tell.

I recently found a wrought iron wine rack at a thrift store for $2.00. I can buy bottles of sparkling apple cider, wrap the whole shebang in shrink wrap from the Dollar Store, and put a pretty bow on it with a personalized tag and have a beautiful Christmas gift for well under $20.

If you can sew, it’s super easy to make hats and scarves from fleece. You don’t even have to sew the edges. For a scarf, you cut out an oblong piece of fabric, cut three-inch strips on each end for the fringe, and you’re done. The average price of fleece is $3.00 a yard, and it often goes on sale for less than that. In the Sunday paper the fabric stores have 40 percent off one item coupons and often run $1.99 sales for patterns. With one yard of fabric you could get at least two hat and scarf sets for the little ones, maybe more. You could even buy the little pre-made letters to personalize your creations. (When buying fabric, look for 60″ wide bolts. They’re the widest giving you more fabric per yard).

Don’t have a sewing machine? I found a serger for $15 at a thrift store. To buy one new today would cost anywhere from $200 to $400. (Can you tell I love my bargains?). I’ve even seen Free Cyclers who’ve requested and received sewing machines.

Bakers can give gifts from their hearts too. Make your favorite baked product, include your recipe along with the little tweaks you use to get a good end product. You could even do a gift basket and include all the ingredients for the product. (You’ll find really sturdy baskets all day long at thrift stores priced very reasonably).

Christmas should be about giving a gift from your heart, not about how much money you spend. And remember…RECYCLE ~ REUSE ~ REPURPOSE



Or go to the Dollar Store.  I stopped in today, and guess what they had?  Fleece scarves and hats for a buck.  Sooooo, you could grab a few from the Dollar Store, jazz them up and personalize them, and then give them as gifts.

If you need nice little gifts that say “I was thinking about you,” the Dollar Store is really good.  It’s amazing they make a profit.

Did your Baked Bread Bomb? Turn it into Toast.

You may be familiar with that loaf that looks okay, but doesn’t taste so okay.

bad bread

A little butter and syrup hides a multitude of sins.

Baked bread mishap turned into toast

Happy Gardening Cooking

DTV is okay by me

Our house is probably one of the last on earth that does not have cable. I’m too economically savvy (a/k/a cheap) to pay for television. Don’t get me wrong. If I go to your house and you have it, I’m going to find HGTV. But to pay for something that’s been free for as long as I can remember, me no can do.

Many years ago we had cable access through the building we lived in. I’d watch the gardening shows and the cooking shows and the decorating shows. I didn’t realize how much time I spent watching TV until after the cable was gone. Once I didn’t have such interesting stuff to watch on TV I spent more time working, and my income went up that year enough to buy a Chevrolet Corvette…well, in 1970 dollars anyway.

WGN recently conducted a digital TV readiness test.  At 6:53 a.m. the test started. They used the WGN icon, Bozo the Clown, to help with the test. If your TV was not ready for the conversion, you’d see Bozo on the screen saying, “If you can see me right now, that means you’re not ready for America’s conversion to DTV, digital television.”

Imagine how surprised I was to seeBozo the Clown on my relatively new HDTV that I got last year. The TV was one of my best bargains. Between the store sale, the store coupon and a price match, I got the TV for half the original price.

Okay. I’m thinking no wonder the TV was on sale. It must be defective. Now I’ve got to find my receipt and get on the phone and start bugging the manufacturer about fixing this piece of junk. Since we’ve had the television, the only channels that look extra good are CBS and WCIU. I figured it was because the digital signals haven’t started transmitting yet.

Trying to troubleshoot I started looking through the menu on the television and noticed that the digital setting were grayed out. Translation: My digital TV has no digital signal. I can feel my anger growing and growing and growing …

graphic representation of my feelings of anger

Just in the interest of trying to save myself the aggravation of having to fuss and fight with the manufacturer I ran the auto channel finder. And low and behold, I now have beautiful, crystal clear reception. Our basic VHF channels are 2, 5, 7, 9, 11. After I ran the auto channel finder, I now have Channel 5-1, 2 and 3 with three different broadcasts; Channel 7-1, 2 and 3 with two different broadcasts; Channel 9-1 and 2 with two different broadcasts; and, my favorite, Channel 11-1, 2, 3 and 4 with four different broadcasts. One of the Channel 11 channels is called Create TV. It shows all my favorite gardening and cooking and educational how-to shows. It’s public TV’s answer to HGTV, but it’s free.

So, what was the problem? Why did I see Bozo during the readiness test? Well, in my search to find the answer, I stumbled across a How Stuff Works article that I found very informative. They had one particular section that settled an argument I had going with a friend of mine. He said that you needed cable or the converter box even if you had a HDTV set, I said you didn’t.

This is an excerpt from the How Stuff Works article specifically about having just an antenna connected to your television:”Once you’ve picked up your set and installed it in your home, you’ll need to get a signal. To get a signal, you can use:

Photo courtesy Consumer Guide Products
With an antenna, you can get
digital television for free. This
Zenith model works best for
UHF analog and DTV signals.

  • An antenna – Depending on your location relative to the stations you want to watch, a set of rabbit ears might do, but you might need a rooftop or attic antenna. You can buy an antenna that’s specially made for digital signals, but any reliable VHF/UHF antenna will work.”

The only thing I have on my TV is a $10 set of rabbit ears and I’m picking up channels I didn’t know existed. So, there you go. I get to say nah-nah-ni-nah-nah. Told you so.

If you’ve got an analog TV but have cable or satellite, you’re good to go…but there might be a price. I’m a fine print reader, and I’ve seen some companies say they’ll deliver the digital signal but charge you an extra fee of $10 per month, $120 a year. I’m not sure what the fee covers, but if it’s to loan you a converter box, use the $40 coupon issued by the government to offset the price of your own converter box and save a few dollars. Even if you have to pay full price for a converter … like I will because I lost my converter coupons … you’ll still save over the long run.

Oh, yeah. We’re not the only cable-free folks. In Chicago, there are 300,000 households who watch free TV exclusively. So, use those coupons, go grab a converter box and discover something new.

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