Mary Beth Writes

1. We bought a car!! We bought our (former) 2006 Mercury Milan and 2004 Ford Ranger around 2006-2007.  Len is a very good vehicle dad – they lasted this long. The truck is still reliably chugging along; we sold it to a neighbor. However it became apparent a few weeks ago that the Milan could no longer take care of itself. Sigh. 

We talked about what kind of car we wanted in the past few weeks. Len did on-line research, finding cars we might like to try.  We decided we would spend part of two days test-driving these several makes of cars.

Monday morning we walked into a Ford dealership – first place to check out – and the salesman next to the door pointed at a car outside the window and said it was a new “managers’ special”.  It was a hybrid car that had all the things we wanted but figured we didn’t want to afford – currently on sale for less than we planned to pay altogether. It had been one of the dealership’s loaners since October and had 2000 miles on it which dropped the MSRP by thousands of bucks.

Test drove it. Very cool! Went to a different dealership, test drove what we initially thought we wanted most – it was pricier than we expected, wasn’t a hybrid, had less options, felt smaller, and the sales guy had a weird haircut.

So we bought a 2017 Ford C-Max hybrid. Len used it for meetings yesterday. Today I’m taking it to Goodwill. Breaking it in right.

2. As I mentioned in my “Must-Haves” posting yesterday, I cooked a terrible squash-carrot soup. But - I can proudly say I am tossing out less than $3 in ingredients. A weirdly frugal win.

3. Len jis making (it smells amazing in this house) bread and also black beans. The bread is for general toast and sandwich life. The beans are for tacos tonight. If one buys discount brand beans on sale for around $.75/can - they are approximately the same price as “from-scratch”. However, when dry beans are cooked with sautéed green peppers, garlic, and onions – nothing can touch how delicious they are while being healthy and a good use of the earth’s resource.  Cooked beans also freeze well in case you didn’t know that.   I bet you did.

Made-from-scratch white bread costs less than $.50. We over-eat it just like the $4 loaves.   

4. When we moved into this house we looked at our “new” beat-up, homely, wrong-colored appliances and said to each other that we’d replace them right away.

Two years later - they are still homely - and still working.

All of our previous washing machines (three decades worth) tended to go “off-kilter.” Put a quilt or rug or too many jeans in – soon the washer clunks and bangs in the basement until someone (me) races downstairs to re-balance the load. Don’t you love it when a washer “walks” itself away from its spot and you have to shove it back?

Haven’t done that since we moved here. I’ve got this old, dinged-up washer that works so hard and so earnestly. The Mary Beth of washers?  

Newer appliances are more efficient. Still, building them requires a lot of resources and electricity. We keep using what we already have, saving thousands.

Notes on old appliances

  • Stove/oven. I use the crockpot when cooking one thing for hours. Len uses the pressure cooker. I also always bake at least three loaves of bread at once.
  • Dishwasher. Len and I realign whatever the other person has done.  This provides humor, thus saving us hundreds of dollars per year on comedy clubs.
  • Washer. 90% of the laundry gets done with cold water and homemade detergent.
  • Dryer. Dryers suck air out of a house so in the winter it is expensive to lose all that furnace-heated air. We hang as much laundry as is possible, which also adds humidity to the house.  In the summer, I use the dryer more. Outside clothes lines are great for many households, but the last few times I did this – at our old house and here in Waukesha, something teeny bit my legs (Only mine, not Len’s, not fair). Not a fan of rashes from invisible critters. 

5. I bumped a knuckle on the edge of a cupboard and it HURT! It's kinda swollen! Instead of driving to a medical clinic, I asked a friend in the chat option of Words With Friends if I needed to do anything special. Well, she IS a nurse... She said if I can move it, then don't over-use it while it heals, and also ice it.  I didn't ice it because it's too cold to ice anything. I did take the rest of the evening off to read and play more WWF.

The co-pay on medical diagnosis by virtual scrabble is very low.

Mindful Chickens? We are frugal so that our retirement savings will last as long as we do. At the same time we try to consume responsibly so that our choices have the least negative impact on our fellow humans and on our earth and its creatures.  Cheep, Cheap!


You are both awesome. I can learn from you

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Retired Chicken Observations 3/22-2018

Two things I have been thinking about lately. Both are related to retirement income and retirement adventure.

1. Last week Len and I went to our Social Security office to sign me up for Spousal Benefits.  It took me several run-throughs to understand what “spousal benefits” are. Since then I have talked to several other people who were also unclear on the concept.

My confusion was this. I was already getting Social Security based on my earnings when I worked (as opposed to what I did when I stayed home and raised kids. But let’s not go there now. Grrrr.)

Franc’s Wildly Successful Life

This is a long piece of writing and I am proud of it. If you don’t want to read it all – here are my take-way points about how my friend Franc lives well on a surprisingly small income:

Mindful Chickens 2/24/2018

1.  We did it!  We called, explained what we thought we needed to do, made appts, were home for the appts, rec’d the estimates about - fixing the gutters and getting the house painted.  I think one of the reasons we usually do it ourselves is because this process is so daunting and time consuming.

The gutter guy is coming next week; we are looking forward to no rivulets when it pours. 100-year old houses built on non-waterproofed rubble foundations, like George Washington, cannot lie about what’s happening outside your basement walls.

Mindful Chickens - The Snickerdoodle Edition

1. When we were sick in January (with flu and cold) Len used the CVS card that I had signed up for last year and then barely used.  He bought several OTC medicines plus a cool-mist vaporizer using that card, which saved us 20%. That was helpful.

2. While I was under the weather I signed up for Starz in order to binge-watch an Outlander season.  After I watched TV for two days I canceled the subscription, thus paying nothing.  This is the third year I have done this.  Why do they let me do this??

Frugal Stuff/ Flu edition 1/22/2018

1. I donated blood Friday morning. This is a free mini-checkup every two months; they take your pulse, temperature, blood pressure, and check your hemoglobin levels (iron). They send your blood to be checked for various diseases such as Lyme disease, West Nile, and Zika.

DO NOT donate blood in order to determine if you have a disease or not. If you think you might be ill, go to a doctor or clinic and deal with it. 

But, if you (like me) need an extra reason to be generous, the screening to give blood is not a bad perk.

Two Piquant Recipes, No Waiting

This is not a recipe blog. You may sometimes wonder what kind of blog this is, but I bet you have figured out we’re not here to cook. Still, sometimes I come across amazing recipes and today I want to share two of them,by referring you to the sites where I found them.

How do I find these sites, you ask? 

Simple. Google the name of two or three ingredients you would like to use up. This takes you to recipes that use those foods; you decide if you want to try them.

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