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!

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You are both awesome. I can learn from you

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What's in Vanilla?

I just read a flurry of emails on a frugal website about the rising cost of vanilla and how people are working around that while continuing to live their frugal lives.

Not one of the letters asked these logical questions.

Why has the price of vanilla risen so steeply?

What is happening to the people who grow and process it? 

"One must have sunshine..." Living Life Forward

This is another interview with a person who lives frugally and thoughtfully by design and by default. 

Thanks, Helle.

.....

How I met Helle Koustrup Berry tells you a lot about how she arranges her life.

Mindful Chickens a Month Later

(I just like the bison joke...) 

It’s been a while since I wrote a Mindful Chicken. 

Mindful Chickens are (for people who don’t know why I call them this) about TWO things.

  1. Being Cheap (cheep, cheep).
  2. Being thoughtful about how choices affect our community and our earth.

___________

ONE – I donated blood. Why is this frugal? A tech checks your blood pressure and temperature. They prick your finger to test for hemoglobin (iron) levels are normal or low.

Looking for Sincere and Heartfelt Tales

A while back I posted an article about my friend Franc; I talked about how he has created a good life for himself even though he has rarely earned more than $15,000 in a year. (Right here)

This article was satisfying to write. I enjoyed spending time with Franc and asking nosy questions. Yes, it’s a challenge to interview folks and then write about their lives, but I did this often in my 12 years as a newspaper columnist and I like the adventure of it.

Mindful Chickens - Chicago Edition

Mindful? Thinking about what we do around here to be responsible to the world and to ourselves.

Chicken? Cheep, Cheep, Cheap!

 You may have noticed I haven’t posted in a while. There’s been a lot going on – including this pleasure.  Len and I went to Chicago for several days to care for our granddaughter while our daughter and son-in-law went out of town.

Mindful Chickens on an Icy Night

My church has been working for months to organize their fund-raising auction that was supposed to be TONIGHT. But instead we are in the middle of the massive spring storm that is scrubbing the nation from Oklahoma to I don’t know where next. The wind is howling; rain is sleeting into snow over a glaze of ice.

So the auction is postponed until next Saturday evening. I have put in so many hours (as have many other) working towards this event in the past weeks - that being quietly at home not working on it makes me feel as if I won a lottery. 

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