Monday, July 11, 2011

Remlingers Farm Tickets at 1/2 Price!

You can get tickets to Remlingers Farm for 2 for $12 right now on using Seattle as your location.  This is 1/2 off the usual price, so a real bargain.  You are allowed to make one purchase for yourself and one as a gift, for a total of 4 tickets for just $24.  These will probably be gone fast, so get on it right away!  Check out more info on Remlingers at my previous blog, April 12th, or their website

Now that summer appears to really be here to stay, it's time to have some frugal family fun!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Free Groceries at Albertson's!!

Albertson's has been running a special promotional on Gift Cards that can earn you free groceries...and who doesn't like free stuff?  This promotional continues until June 22nd, so you still have time to take advantage of a great deal.  For each $100.00 worth of Gift Cards you purchase, and give them your Albertson's Preferred Card, you will receive a coupon good for $20.00 in groceries to be used at your next shopping trip...which could be just minutes after purchasing the Gift Cards.  You may purchase up to 5 cards in each transaction, but you are allowed to make multiple transactions. 

Our family is planning a backyard project soon, and we know we will need to be purchasing lumber and other supplies from Lowe's that we estimate will cost about $700.00.  So, yesterday, we visited the nearest Albertson's and purchased seven $100.00 Gift Cards and received seven coupons worth $20.00 each, totaling $140.00!  We turned right around and bought $140.00 in groceries for NOTHING...that's right...absolutely FREE!!

Albertson's has many different Gift Cards, from Lowe's, Home Depot, numerous department stores, airlines and restaurants, so you'll likely find something right for you. But remember, this blog encourages frugality; so don't go out buying Gift Cards you wouldn't be buying otherwise just so you can get the coupons. However, if you're planning to be purchasing some as graduation or wedding gifts, traveling by airline, eating out occasionally or, like us, working on a home improvement project, you should really consider this option.

If you have any questions, be sure to ask the cashier prior to making your purchase.  We went through the checkout three different times last night and each cashier was very friendly, helpful and sincerely happy to see us getting such amazing bargains.  Check out for more details.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Amazing Bargain... 80% Off Restaurant Certificates

Last week I discovered an amazing bargain at  They are featuring a tremendous 80% discount on the price of their restaurant certificates through April 24th, when you use the code EASTER at checkout.  They basically offer an online coupon book for restaurants throughout the country.  You can view a listing of restaurants who advertise with them, choosing the geographic area you are interested in, and then purchase certificates that are usually at least 40% off the customary prices.  They generally have some restrictions, such as only to be used for dinner, not to be used on Fridays or Saturdays, only one certificate per table and 18% gratuity automatically applied, but these vary for each offer.  However, those restrictions are not so prohibitive as to make it not worth buying....for instance, the previous examples would still leave 5 days out of the week they are good for, and I would generally tip 20% anyway.

There were a number of restaurants I'd really like to try in the future that serve Indian and African foods, as well as Mexican and Chinese, pizza and burgers, and others.  However, I decided to stick with restaurants close to home this time, and chose two $25.00 certificates for The Krain Corner Restaurant in Enumclaw and one $25.00 certificate for The Black Diamond Bakery Restaurant and my total cost was only $7.00!  Only way to beat that would be if they were free.  And good new is that, because they are essentially like a gift card, they don't expire.

The ordering process is a two-step procedure where you choose, order and pay for the certificates first and they are added to your account.  Then you can redeem and print them either immediately or in the future.  I decided that since they don't expire, I may as well print them all at once and just keep them on hand for the day we decide to go out.  Be sure to read ALL the details before purchasing.
At 80% off these are definitely a frugal way to have an evening out!

Have a wonderful and blessed Easter!


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Southwest Chicken Soup...The Perfect Food to Share

Homemade's really such a perfect kind of food, especially for those who like or need to be frugal. It's the food I love to make because it tastes so good, and is very healthy; but, it is also so economical to make that it is the food that can be used to get your family and others through meager financial times.  During the Depression of the 1930's people stood in lengthy lines to receive a bowl of soup from the soup kitchens that were set up to feed people who had no money and no food.  People all over the world use the little bits of vegetables and the pieces of meat, that would be too tough to eat any other way, to make all variations of soups that anyone of any age can eat...whether a small baby or an elder who has lost all their teeth.  It's the food we serve to people who are sick and need strengthening, and to show them we care.
Soup always makes me think of the Bible story of Jesus' miracle of feeding a large crowd with very little food to start with.  He was surrounded by people who had come to see and hear him and it was getting late in the day...

Matthew 14
 15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”
 16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
 17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.
   18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.

I can't say that any of my recipes will make enough to feed five thousand, but they can go a long way toward feeding your own family and also provide enough to share with others in need, whether they are without food of their own, or sick or just in need of some companionship. 

I hope this is a recipe you'll enjoy!

Southwest Chicken Soup

Prep time - 30 minutes
Cooking time - 1 hour (but it can simmer longer and the flavors will get even better)

Needed - 6 quart kettle or larger, cutting board, large knife, large spoon, can opener

Ingredients - (if you are using your pantry list, all of these will be in your kitchen except the yams, beans and cilantro)
  • 2 chicken breasts (3 cups cut into small pieces)
  • 2 medium yams cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • 2 cups frozen corn (or one 14 oz can)
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes (or one 14 oz can)
  • 2 cups white or black beans (either one 16 oz can or from dried beans you have soaked and cooked)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (about 1/2 cup fresh leaves before chopping)
  • 6 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 3 tsps taco seasoning
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 12 cups water
Pour the olive oil in your soup kettle and cook the chicken, yams and onions, stirring so they don't get too brown, and until chicken is tender.  Drain off any fat.

Add all the other ingredients and simmer for at least an hour.  It will be ready to eat at that point, but tastes even better if it simmers even longer.

Serve with bread, rolls or muffins and a salad

You can multiply the quantities if you have a larger kettle, or use more than one.  Then think of the opportunities you have to share with someone else in'll warm tummies and hearts alike.

Monday, April 18, 2011

High Quality, Namebrand, Consigned Kids' Clothes at Reasonable Prices...

Creme Brulee Kids has their biannual Consignment and Boutique Sale of kids' clothing, sizes 0-12,
scheduled for May 12-14 at Kent Commons.  They have been in business for five years now and bring together consignors and customers of  high quality, namebrand kids' clothing (Gymboree, Gap, Janie and Jack, Hannah Anderson, Oilily, etc) baby gear and furniture, and kid related boutique items.  They do allow a limited number of store brand pieces, such as Carter's, OshKosh and Children's Place.  Items to be sold are screened for cleanliness and condition, and they will reject any that don't meet their standards.   According to their website, a limited number of clothing pieces which might be exceptionally great designs, but have even a small flaw, may be offered for sale, but they must be marked "Play Condition".  At Creme Brulee's last sale they had over 150 consignors, 1000 customers and sold over 9000 items. 

You can find many more details for both consignors and shoppers at their website, and if you look at the "guidelines" tab (which is to assist consignors in pricing their items) you will get an idea of what prices to expect. I've never been to this sale, but it sounded intriguing enough that I am using a vacation day from work to go check it out with my daughter.  Maybe we'll see you there!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Composting...So Simple, So Frugal, So Green's a great way to allow for the natural cycle of planting, growing, harvesting and eating, without added manufactured chemicals and at no additional cost.  Your food producing plants will be healthier for you to eat and produce more fruit, and your decorative plants will be more beautiful than ever.  It sounds like a lot of dirty work and brings up thoughts of having to make or buy special bins; and then you need to be some kind of scientist to figure out the complicated formula for layering and mixing all the ingredients, right? 

Nope!'s simple....

1) Collect food scraps from your kitchen - anything except meat and milk products - in whatever container you want that has a tight lid.  I'd recommend something just big enough to hold the scraps of one or two days so it doesn't get smelly, especially in the summer.

2) Bury them in a hole or trench in your yard.  The hole needs to be at least 8 inches deep, but only needs to be big enough to accommodate as many scraps as you've collected.  Throw in some of the scraps, then some dirt and a handful of grass clippings or leaves, and layer this way, depending on how much you've got to bury, and top with dirt. And that's it!

You can choose to dig small random holes throughout your flower or vegetable beds and you'll be fertilizing your plants as you go.  Or, you can choose an area or two to be the compost zones, dig trenches, fill them with scraps and layer with some grass clippings or leaves (just a couple handsful at a time) and then top with the soil you dug out.  In a few months, you can turn over the dirt in this area and spread some of it in your flower and vegetable gardens, and start again.

You don't need to have all the specialized and expensive equipment you read about, or follow any exact formula. And in my opinion, this is just so much cheaper, easier, cleaner, and takes up less space and time, so it is totally frugal! You can feel good about doing something environmentally responsible, and you can enjoy the beautiful flowers and delicious veggies your gardens will produce.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Family Friendly and Frugal Fun at Remlinger Farm

In case you've been under the false impression that being frugal means you can't have any fun, I just want to let you know that is so not true.  It just means you have planned for having fun in a way that makes the most of the money you you are getting real value for your dollar.  This blog, and others in the future, will feature places where our family has had some really great fun and frugal times, and I hope you might find them to be memory-making experiences for your family too.

 Remlinger Farm in Carnation has been a great place to take the grandkids the past few summers, and is ideal for families with kids up to about 10 years old.  This year the family fun park opens on Saturday, May 7th, the day before Mother's Day, and the regular season lasts up to the first part of October.  There are rides perfectly suited for young kids...some they ride alone and some will accommodate adults too.  Our favorites are the spinning barrels, flying pumpkins, old-fashioned cars and pony rides.  The 1/4 scale train is a wonderful way to have a tour through the park, shout out an occasional whoo-hoo! and have a little rest too. There are also animals to pet and feed, a guy who leads the kids in singing some great farm themed songs (with audience participation) and a straw bale maze.

Admission most weeks is $10-12.00 per person for the day and includes all the rides. They generally have coupons on their website for $1.00 off admission, as well as other savings on produce or concessions.  There are some times, like the Strawberry Festival in June, when admission is more, so check the website before you go.  There is a restaurant and concession stand within the park, as well as a very large produce market and gift shop.  The produce market has all kinds of fruit and veggies, salsas, jams, jellies, syrups, sauces, canning supplies, fresh cinnamon rolls, AND the famous Remlinger Farm pies. You are not allowed to bring in outside food, so we usually pack a lunch, eat on the grass or a bench next to the parking lot as soon as we get there, and then have some ice cream while we're inside.  We have taken in water bottles and some small munchies for the babies in the group who need to snack frequently. If you need to go back to your car you can get your hand stamped for returning, and the parking lot is conveniently located just outside the gate.  

The park gets busy, but we have never experienced it to be crowded.  We've waited in line for a few minutes, but never anything like going to a fair or theme parks; and the admission is a bargain in comparison. So, plan on packing up a picnic, putting on some comfy walking shoes, maybe asking some friends or extended family to join you, and have a wonderful day in a very family-friendly environment.  And don't forget to take along a cooler to bring home some fresh produce or pie!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Invest Now For Future Rewards in Pesto, Bruschetta, Salsa, Pico de Gallo and Taco Salad

It's kind of hard to tell exactly what season it is right now based on the weather we see out our windows....we've had everything this week including sun, sleet, hail, wind, rain and some mysterious slushy stuff that fell out of the sky one day, but I don't think it actually has any real name.  Nevertheless, I'm going to go by the date on the calendar, be optimistic, and go along with it officially being Spring.  And if it's Spring, then it's time to get a garden planted....even if it's miniature.  I'm not talking about getting out a tractor or roto-tiller here, not even a shovel.  All you'll need is a small garden digger, a few pots and seeds.

If you already garden on a regular basis, you know what you're doing and might want to offer some input in the comments section.  But if you have never really grown your own food, I'm going to get you started on a very simple, productive and frugal garden.  It's not complicated, doesn't take much space and the rewards are delicious and well worth your time.

This garden includes just tomatoes, basil, cilantro and lettuce; and it will provide the essentials for making some especially tasty Italian and Mexican foods.  All of these plants grow easily, and you don't need to produce much to have a real monetary saving over buying them at the grocery store.  Not to mention the naturally enhanced flavor of fresh picked produce is reason enough to grow your own.

In our area, it is generally too cold to place any of these plants outside until mid-May; or you can use Mother's Day as a good mark for safely putting young plants outdoors.  But now is an excellent time to start them from seed indoors.  The seeds can be purchased at grocery, garden or even hardware stores from $0.69 to $1.89.  You won't need more than one package of each, and can probably share some with a friend, except the lettuce.  My recommendations are -
  • Sweetie tomatoes - small, cherry sized variety
  • Early Girl tomatoes - a nice medium size
  • Basil - Italian large leaf
  • Cilantro
  • Lettuce - most any, except iceberg.  Two or three different varieties are good for salads
You can either use purchased potting soil, or soil from your yard, being careful to remove any weed seedlings and creepy crawlies that may want to eat the seeds or infest your house.  The basil and cilantro can be started and grown in large pots in the house, moved outdoors for the summer, and then back inside for the fall.  The tomatoes are best started in the house and then grown outside until they die from cold in the fall, and the lettuce is grown exclusively outside. 

You can use small individual pots for the tomatoes, or my preference is to start about a dozen plants in a larger pot, about 8-10 inches.  All will be transplanted in a few weeks, either directly into the ground or into large planters, so either alternative is fine.  The basil and cilantro can be grown in large pots and can remain in the same containers their whole productive life.  The lettuce will be planted outdoors in May, in the ground or in large pots.  Follow the instructions on the packages for the depth of planting the seeds, but don't be too concerned at this point with how far apart you have placed the seeds.  Some probably won't sprout, so it's ok to have overplanted to compensate; and you can thin some out later if there are too many for the space.  This is especially true for the basil and cilantro, because you will want to have as much growing in one pot as it can accommodate so it can fit on a counter or window sill in the fall when the plants are larger.

Place the pots in a window that receives a lot of daylight and you can even put a lamp or two very close to them to provide more light.  Make sure the lamps are only a few inches higher than the pots so the plants won't grown extra long stems trying to reach the light.  Use a spray bottle on a mist setting to keep the soil moistened until the plants are large enough to tolerate using a water can without being bent over and broken. You may need to mist them several times throughout the day, but it won't take much time.  You don't need to use any kind of fertilizer or any other chemicals.  When it's time to place them outside, I'll write about using organic slug killer that is safe for you, but will keep those nasty slimy creatures away from your veggies.

So, head on down to your local garden store, maybe with a friend, make those purchases and get those seeds planted now.  The rewards are going to be so worth it later this summer!  Over the next few weeks I'll post more information about thinning out plants, or pinching them back for better growth; and I'll also have some great recipes for using your fresh produce.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Homemade Beef and Vegetable Soup....A Rainy Day Classic

Well, the calendar says it's Spring...and I guess a lot of people are kind of disappointed and feeling out of sorts when they look out the window and see the dark gloomy sky and rain, rain and more rain.  Me, I see a perfect day to make a big pot of healthy, tummy-fulfilling, frugal-friendly soup! 

All of the ingredients in this recipe are included in the list from my previous blog, "The Well-Stocked Pantry", and this will make enough soup to serve at least two meals to at least four people.  I like to make soup in large quantities to be served for dinner the first night, and then use what is left for lunches at home or to take to work.  It's certainly much more frugal than eating lunch out and it's a nice change from the standard sandwich....and when your co-workers smell that wonderful homemade soup aroma wafting through the office they'll want your recipe.

This is the kind of recipe where you really don't need to be precise with the quantities of ingredients, and it's a good way to use leftovers for the meat, veggies or rice/pasta/potatoes.  So you might want to plan ahead to make soup after your roast dinner the night before, and be sure to check your refrigerator for plastic containers of leftovers before opening any cans of vegetables.

Prep time - 45 minutes
Cooking time - 1 1/2 hours

Needed - 6 quart kettle or larger, cutting board, large knife, large spoon, can opener

Ingredients -
  • 2 cups pre-cooked rice, small pasta (macaroni or shell) or potato chunks
  • 1 lb beef cut into small pieces, or ground beef
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped carrots
  • 2 cups green cabbage cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can green beans
  • 1 can corn, or 1 1/2 cups frozen corn
  • 5 beef bouillon cubes (or 5 cups beef broth)
  • 8 cups water (3 cups if you've used broth rather than bouillon cubes)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons seasoning salt
  • Pepper
Preparation -

If you need to cook your rice/pasta/potatoes, start it first.

Cut up beef, onions, carrots and cabbage and open all cans.

Heat olive oil in the soup kettle on medium heat and add beef, onions and carrots.  Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons seasoning salt.  Stir to keep everything cooking evenly until beef is browned on all sides.  Add cabbage and cook for just a few more minutes until the cabbage is wilted.

Add all other ingredients, including the rice/pasta/potatoes, and simmer for about an hour to bring out all the flavors.  Add salt and pepper to your liking.

Serve with salad and bread...and enjoy!

This is the perfect kind of recipe to share with others....a sick friend, parents of a newborn baby or a family trying to make it til their next paycheck.  And you'll find there's something about sharing that makes it taste even better!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Well-Stocked Pantry...Stop Making All Those Trips To The Grocery Store!!

With the current cost of groceries and gas, no one wants to be shopping for food more often than absolutely necessary!  I've tried to make shopping a monthly excursion rather than the numerous times weekly that it had been in the past; and it really helps to keep me more organized and costs down.  There are a very few things (fresh fruit and veggies, milk, eggs and sometimes bread) we need to purchase more often, but now we can just dash in and right back out with those items and nothing more.  No longer do we get a chance to be distracted by snacks and new products as we wander haphazardly up and down the aisles...and that means we aren't eating things we don't need and spending money we'd really prefer to use elsewhere.  We are staying focused on saving for our designated goals and having more money available to give to charitable needs.

The following list will provide you with the basics you need to feed your family a multitude of great meals without having to make a special trip for ingredients.  You probably have many of these things already, but if you don't, pick up a few at a time until you've got everything; and then keep the list posted in your kitchen.  When you have less than a one-month supply of an item left, add it to your monthly shopping list.  And as you become accustomed to keeping these things stocked in your pantry you may find a few more that you use regularly and want to add to your personal list.  Give it a try and see if you can transition to doing most of your shopping on a monthly basis...and see how much you can save too.

Shopping Tips - Herbs and spices are much cheaper when purchased either in Costco or Sam's Club sizes or in the bulk food section of your local grocery store.  Many people will be surprised to see how long the shelf-life is for cream cheese, sour cream, parmesan and cheddar, yes, you really can purchase these things in a large quantity and use them for several weeks without needing to be worried about throwing them out.  The same is true for potatoes, onions, carrots and cabbage.

The next blog will be a recipe for a healthy and hearty "Beef and Vegetable Soup". It's very simple and filling, and will go a long way when you're cooking on a budget. And in the mean time, make some copies of this list and see what you might want to be adding to your pantry shelves.

  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Brown Sugar
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Cornstarch
  • Baking Soda
  • Baking Powder
  • Yeast
  • Shortening
  • Chocolate Chips
  • Vanilla
Canned and Dry Goods
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Diced Tomatoes
  • Green Beans
  • Corn (canned or frozen)
  • Olives
  • Pineapple Chunks
  • Spaghetti Noodles
  • Macaroni Noodles
  • Rice
Produce and Refrigerated/Frozen Items
  • Potatoes (5-10lb)
  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Green Cabbage
  • Fresh Garlic
  • Eggs
  • Butter (not margarine)
  • Cream Cheese
  • Sour Cream
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Cheddar Cheese
  • Ground Beef
  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • Beef (anything inexpensive that can be cut into small pieces)
Seasonings and Condiments
  • Salt
  • Seasoning Salt (Johnny's or similar)
  • Pepper
  • Cinnamon
  • Parsley - dried
  • Bay Leaves
  • Dill
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Taco Seasoning
  • Beef Bouillon cubes
  • Chicken Bouillon cubes
  • Olive Oil
  • Canola Oil
  • Cooking Spray (Pam or similar)
  • Teriyaki Sauce
  • Soy Sauce
  • Lemon Juice
  • Ketchup
  • Mayonnaise
  • Mustard
  • Maple Syrup
Now you're ready to start cooking, and to start saving money and time! 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Goldstar Opportunity for Great Entertainment!!

This opportunity was too good to wait to tell you you can catch the blog "The Well-Stocked Pantry"  in a few days. is a website that offers discounted tickets for all sorts of entertainment across the U.S. and in Canada.  Currently, they have tickets available for "9 to 5: The Musical" at the 5th Avenue Theater, "Billy Elliott, The Musical" at The Paramount Theater and Arthur Miller's "All My Sons" at the Intiman Theater and Monster Energy Supercross at QWest Field.  I took a look at the prices on the theater websites for both "9 to 5" and "Billy Elliott", and prices were half the price, or less. 

Locally, there are usually a broad range of comedy shows, concerts and plays at either the smaller theaters throughout the Puget Sound area, or the larger theaters in Seattle.  They only offer these discounts for select shows at these prices, usually mid-week, and they are most likely limited in number, so it's a good idea to get on their e-mail newsletter so you won't miss out on anything.

You have the option of choosing what area you'd like to attend events at, so if you're planning a trip out of town and would like to include a night out on the town, you can see what might be available at a frugal price and purchase your tickets ahead of time.

As with any offer, be sure to read all the details before making your purchase.

Hope you'll find something just right for you...and have a great time!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Being Prepared for an Emergency is Being Frugal Because....

  .... it will save you energy, stress and probably money; but most importantly, it will allow you to take care of your family and others when time may be of the essence.  You will be able to help maintain calm in a frightening, and possibly hazardous, situation because you have already thought ahead, and won't have to try to assemble needed supplies and vital information in the middle of a crisis.

  We can't generally predict when an emergency situation such as a major power outage, earthquake, hurricane or volcanic eruption is going to occur, but we can predict what we might need to equip us to be able to cope with the circumstances that present themselves, when and if they do happen.

 Some websites I checked for recommendations would have you basically store away enough equipment and food for a year, but I don't think that's too practical for most of us.  So I've put together a list of things I think would be most useful for a few days of basic survival, and I am anticipating that if the emergency has caused enough damage that you need more, you will have to keep yourself busy finding them during those first days.  Another thing to consider is the portability of your emergency supplies.  If you need to leave the area, you may not be able to travel by car, and that will mean you are going to have to carry what you need.  You might also need to be carrying or pushing babies, young children or sick or injured people, so it is important to stick to the real essentials.  You should keep these supplies together in one place in water-proof containers.  They should be located in a place that is least likely to suffer damage in case of an event that may destroy parts of your house....under your bed, or any small room such as a closet, pantry or bathroom would be best. 

You will, of course, need to make quantity decisions based on the size of your household.  And, if you have the space, put some extra in for neighbors who may be in need.

Contact list - phone numbers and addresses for immediate family, including someone who lives out of the area if you aren't able to make contact locally
Medical info - lists all current prescriptions and allergies and any other existing conditions
Water - needs to be replaced every six months
Food - (non-perishable, requiring minimal cooking and water) - canned fruit and veggies, canned tuna and other meats, soup, granola bars, hard candies, crackers. If space allows, rice-a-roni type meals.
Lighter - maybe two, just in case
Hand crank can opener
Large stirring/serving spoon
Hot pad/mitt
Bowls and cups
Forks, spoons, knives
First Aid Kit - all the standard bandages, large gauze rolls, antibiotic ointment, tweezers, small scissors, feminine pads (make great bandages), hand sanitizer, latex gloves (ask a friend who works in a medical office for some of the free samples they receive) Benadryl for allergies, Tylenol, lip balm.
Sanitation supplies - toilet paper, baby wipes, disinfectant wipes, toothbrush, toothpaste, antibacterial
soap, feminine supplies, dish soap
Battery operated radio and extra batteries
Flashlight and extra batteries
Screwdrivers - regular and Phillips
Folding saw
Duct tape
Utility knife and extra blades
Work gloves for everyone - even for the kids because they can help too
Gloves - one size fits all type, for warmth
Paper, pens and pencils
Aluminum foil
Ziplocs bags- large and small
Garbage bags - large, heavy-duty type
Socks, underwear and clean shirt - at least one per person
Backpack - not too big, and you can actually put many of these items inside for storage
Blankets or sleeping bags - if you have the space

Many of these items will be things you have around the house now and you can set some aside in your emergency kit.  Just be careful never to "borrow" from the kit and then not replace them immediately!  Other things, like the kettle, bowls and cups you can pick up at Goodwill or garage sales for next to nothing.  Every six months you should replace the water and at least the non-canned food items, so have a couple of semi-annual days set aside as "picnic" day and feast away on those you take out!  Remember those days in school?

Like I said in the beginning, we can't predict when these events may happen, but you will be far better prepared to help yourself,and your family and neighbors, if you have these supplies readily available.

Next blog - "The well-stocked pantry...more than a week's worth, but not quite hoarding"

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Bargain at Lowe's Ends Tomorrow!

Lowe's has a unique sale that I just found out about, called the "Tax Refund Card".  This promotion ends tomorrow, March 14th, so you better get right on it. You can purchase a gift card for yourself with a value of anywhere from $500.00 to $4000.00 and on March 18th they will credit an additional 10% to your card.  So if you buy a $500.00 card, on the 18th they will GIVE you another $50.00!  If you purchase the maximum value of $4000.00 you will be GIVEN $400.00!

The cards can be purchased in the stores or at  There are no fees or expirations, and the cards can be used either in the stores or online at  If you have purchases you've been planning, then you can buy this card now and wait until the items you want are on sale and really maximize your dollars.
We are planning to use our "bonus" money a little later in the Spring for a new gas barbecue...we know they'll be on sale around Memorial Day, so we'll wait patiently, and basically be able to go home with a free grill. Can't get much more frugal than that!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Being Frugal Can Be Fun...Really!!

Frugal and fun...sounds like an oxymoron doesn't it?  But it's not at all.  You really can have fun without blowing your budget within a couple of hours of cashing your paycheck.  And the thing is, when you have a great time, without feeling guilt over spending a lot of money, it feels like twice the fun.

Today, I'd like to suggest a couple of options for going out to the movies.  The first is the local Enumclaw theaters, the Enumclaw Chalet and the Enumclaw Cinema.  They show new releases as soon as the larger theaters, but at frugal-friendly prices.  Both are owned by the same people, and while the pricing is the same at each, the show times vary, as well as the decor and atmosphere.  The Chalet is my favorite.  You can still see many of the old Art Deco style features in the historic building, and while it's not huge, it is large enough to seat several hundred people in what really feels like a theater.  The Cinema is much newer and is similar in seating to most of the chain theaters, although smaller.

Both theaters show movies nightly and also have matinees on Saturdays and Sundays.  Regular ticket prices are $6.00 for adults and slightly less for kids and seniors, and the matinees are $5.00.  A real bargain compared to the prices at the large chain theaters.  The other big saving is in the pricing on snacks...about 1/3 to 1/2 that of other theaters...and that means you can sit back and enjoy the movie without thinking about the price of each popcorn kernel you crunch.  In addition, if you live in or very near Enumclaw, you will also save on gas and travel time by patronizing a local business, and you will be financially and environmentally frugal.

Another option is the Federal Way Gateway Theater....or, as we call it, "The 2-dollar Theater."  Tickets are $2.00 every day, except Tuesdays, when they are only $1.00!  Even 3-D movies are a bargain at $4.00.  The movies they show are generally still in the other theaters, or were within the last few weeks; so if you're feeling like you missed out because it would have been too expensive previously, this is the place for you.
Most snacks are a little less than the larger theaters, and hotdogs are only $1.00.  My daughter took her two kids to a movie the other night and paid a total of $6.00 for all three of them for tickets and a hotdog for each.  Another nice feature is that they have booster seats available for the younger kids so you won't have to be worried that someone 6'6" will choose to sit directly in front of your child. 

At these kinds of prices, you can probably afford to go out occasionally and enjoy some great entertainment with family or friends.  In fact, on a Tuesday you can probably find enough change in your couch or spare change jar, so you won't be putting any kind of pressure on your budget.  So go on...have some fun and no need to feel guilty!

Enumclaw Chalet Theater - 1721 Wells St, Enumclaw, WA 98022   360-825-3881
Enumclaw Cinema            - 258 Roosevelt Ave E, Enumclaw, WA 98022   360-825-3888
Gateway Theaters            - 2501 S. Gateway Center, Federal Way, WA 98003   253-946-9224 for showtimes

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What's So Great About Being Frugal?

Frugal...I sounds like living a life of counting every penny, buying day-old bread, wearing hand-me-downs and always fretting over how your money is being spent.  Basically boring.  But it really doesn't need to be that extreme.

Our family lives a pretty modest middle-class lifestyle.  We "own" our home, but there's a mortgage still to be paid; and my husband and I share our house with our daughter and her two young children.  My husband is an interior finish carpenter, and, as is the case with so many others in the building industry, he hasn't had a lot of work this past year or so, and that means we have had to be cautious with our spending.

But, somehow, it all seems to be working out ok.  We've paid off our credit card and have a goal of never being in debt, because we want to save first and pay cash for everything, except possibly a new vehicle and our house.  And even with those large purchases, we are setting our goal to pay them off as soon as possible. We want to save for our retirement, give more to charity and take a few vacations...nothing to extravagant, really, but no more sleepless nights of worry.  So, I started searching the internet for resources on how to accomplish those things.  I wanted to have more ideas on how to save money and make better use of the things I do have so we would be in control of our money rather than it controlling us.  Unfortunately, most of the websites I found were addressing the situation of people who were already deep in debt...that's not our case.  We just don't have much money to spare at the end of the month, and we'd like to change that.  The other type of websites I found in abundance were providing tips on coupon clipping and how to make the most of them.  That's not a bad thing, but it just doesn't fit well with our situation either, because we don't tend to use most of the products coupons are printed for, and I don't have time to clip and organize and shop at more than one or two stores.

So, I've decided to write my own blog about frugality, and I'm planning to include ideas on everything from stocking your pantry with good buys, do-it-yourself projects, finding the best health insurance for your needs, having fun with your family without going broke and knowing which charities are responsible with the donations they receive.  I'm looking forward to input from other people too, so please feel free to share!

Next blog....Being Frugal Can Be Fun....Really!