Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sell Your House The Frugal Way: Light

When buyers enter your home the first impression they should have is of light.  Sun shining through windows.  Lamps on in dark corners or basements.  They should never walk into a dark room.

Take a look at your window coverings.  Do they obscure the light coming into the room even when they are open?  Remove any extra curtains or blinds.  You should only keep the most minimal, lightweight window coverings needed for privacy.  Be sure to open all draperies and blinds before you leave the house.

This one was recommended by my realtor and it really made a difference:  remove the window screens.  This may not be necessary with the new, lighter weight screens, but classic weight screens need to go.  Try it in one of your rooms; you will be amazed at how much light a window screen prevents from entering the room.

Wall color must be a neutral, light color.  I'm not recommending that you paint all your walls white, though white might be appropriate for a very small, dark house.  We don't want the buyers to need sunglasses!  Get rid of the dark paints and very taste specific paint colors.  Remember that the buyers will look at your red walls and think about how much it will cost them in time and labor to repaint.

Trim shrubs and trees that are preventing light from entering your home.  They may keep your air conditioning bill down, but that's not a consideration right now.  Your windows should never be obscured by plantings.

Clean your windows.  All that light will highlight even the smallest amount of dust on the glass.

Remember, winter is coming and there will be very little natural light available on some days.  Do you have a dark corner that the sun never reaches?  Put a lamp on a table in any dark areas and turn them on before the buyers come over.

This is an easy fix. And easy on the budget.  Isn't it worth putting hundreds of dollars into increasing the lightness of your house in order to make thousands more in profit?

God bless,

I Slept Through Extreme Couponing!

I am such a big, bad blogger (not); I fell asleep before the new Extreme Couponing show came on last night.  I wish they would show it at an earlier time.

Anyway, does anyone want to fill me in on the show or do I need to wait for a repeat?


God bless,

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Extreme Couponing Returns Tomorrow

Well, the show that I sometimes totally disagree with, but holds me enthralled is starting it's new season tomorrow on TLC.  Extreme Couponing will be on most of the day, with the new show airing at 10:00pm. I wonder why so late?  Is it becoming R rated extreme couponing?

While the show sometimes offers a good tip, it is always good for a laugh.  I plan on snuggling into my jammies early, make some popcorn and enjoy myself with some mindless TV watching.

God bless,

Sell Your House The Frugal Way: Unbiased Walkthrough

I recently inherited a home from my mother and needed to sell it quickly.  I had an offer on the house one week after I listed it for sale and will be closing on the 29th of this month (God willing).

During the preparation and sales process I received much good advice from my real estate agent and from watching the home staging shows on HGTV.  I am going to share them with you.  They are all frugal, money producing and, hopefully, time saving.

If you are thinking of selling your home you need to find someone with an unbiased eye that will be brutally honest with you.  They should not be someone that is afraid of hurting your feelings.  They may be a friend, family member or real estate professional.

Have them come over to your house and do a walk through.  They should give you their first impressions of your house; both from the outside and inside.

Is the house neat and tidy or cluttered?

Cluttered With Personal Items

Does the house give the impression of being up to date or is it hopelessly old fashioned?

Outdated Southwestern Style

Is it over decorated with a style that is too personal?

May Be Beautiful To You, But Not To A Buyer

When a buyer walks into your home they should feel that your home is filled with light, open and uncluttered and immaculately maintained.  Does your home feel this way?

God bless,

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Frugal Kitchen: Cottage Cheese Pancakes

Here is a quick and easy breakfast option that will add protein to your picky eaters' diets.

Cottage Cheese Pancakes:

2 cups self rising flour
2 mixing spoons of cottage cheese
1 mixing spoon white sugar

Mix together dry ingredients, then cottage cheese.  Add enough milk to make a thick batter.

I used butter on my griddle.  Use one mixing spoonful of batter for each pancake.  Flatten to an even thickness.  Cook as you would any pancake.

We like these served with maple syrup and fruit.  These are substantial pancakes, so less is more.  This recipe makes six pancakes.

God bless,

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Frugal Kitchen: Peach Bread Pudding

I began having cravings for bread pudding this morning, plus Publix had french bread on sale (rationalization), so I had to make a pan of Peach Bread Pudding.

I Couldn't Wait To Try Some
Here is the recipe:

2 cans sliced peaches
1 loaf of french bread, sliced
4 - 5 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp vanilla

Butter a 9" x 13" pan.  Line the pan with the sliced french bread (there should be two layers).  In a large bowl whisk together the eggs and sugar, then add the salt, vanilla, and nutmeg.  Continue whisking while you add the milk.  Pour wet mixture over the bread, add peaches to the top and pour the cream over the peaches.   The wet mixture should almost reach the top of the bread.  Let stand for an hour to allow bread to absorb the milk mixture.  Bake in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.

You can change this recipe in several ways.  You can reduce the white sugar to 1/2 cup if you don't like very sweet desserts.  Substitute cinnamon for the nutmeg for a more traditional flavor.  If you want a plain bread pudding leave off the peaches.

This bread pudding has a light, souffle-like consistency if you restrain yourself from pressing down on the bread.  Because of the addition of the cream it doesn't need whipped cream.


God bless,

Good Reads: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

This has been one of those weeks when my ideas for frugal tips have dried up.  A sort of frugal writer's block.  So, I have decided to share a great book that I recently read:  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

This story of the Nazi occupation of the Isle of Guernsey and recover after WWII is told through the characters letters to one another.  It is filled with humanity, inhumanity, survival and humor.

The characters are every day people that show resilience and strength.  At the end of the book a love story unfolds in a charming way.

Isn't it nice to read a well written, interesting book without being regaled with foul language and overt sex?  This is the book for anyone that wants to enjoy good literature without the shock value.

God bless,

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Holidays Are Coming, Let's Get Frugal

Yes, I know that it is only September, but now is the time to start preparing for the holidays if you want to keep them calm and frugal.  Just do a little each day to prepare and you can avoid those crazy busy days where you clean or shop for 14 hours and you've still spent too much money and the house isn't the way your envisioned it.

Yesterday I began to go through all of our books.  Any that have not been used for reference or read within the last year I have either sold to Powells or given to the local library.  At Powell's you can either get store credit or Paypal credit.  You get more money if you choose store credit and I always get dear husband and daughter books for Christmas, so that is my choice.

Powell's In Portland, Oregan

Next I will be going through my belongings to see what I can sell on Ebay or give to charity.  Some of my Christmas shopping will be done on Ebay or using Paypal, so there is more money saved.

While you are going through your belongings it is the perfect opportunity to do some deep cleaning.  Take all the books off of the bookshelves and do a thorough dusting of both the shelves and the books.  The same goes for cabinets and storage shelves.  Now you won't need to worry about getting this done before having the family over for the holidays.

Be brutal and honest when going through things.  I am serious, unless it is a treasured family heirloom, if your haven't used it for a year why do you keep it?  Time to purge and make some money.

God bless,

Friday, September 16, 2011

Frugal Home Remedies: First Switchel, Then Shrub

After switchel became a common drink in the American colonies, people began to add flavor to the drink with their excess fruit or herbs.  The name of this new fruity drink was Shrub.

To make shrub omit the ginger root.  Soak bruised or over ripe fruit in the vinegar for several days.  Macerate the fruit, then add to the vinegar.  Place in a cool place.  When done aging, strain through a piece of cheesecloth.  Now mix the vinegar with your sweetener, two parts sweetener to one part vinegar.

A popular variation on fruit shrub is herb shrub.  Soak macerated herbs in the vinegar, then follow the directions above.

Why not serve the healthful, frugal switchel and shrub to your family in place of expensive soft drinks that have no health benefits?

God bless,

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Frugal Home Remedies: Switchel

Switchel, also know as Haymakers tea, is a popular drink for people doing hard work or to give an invalid energy.  Think of it as the Colonial Gatorade.  It is popular, even today, in the Appalachias and in the Prairie States.

You can even read about switchel in my favorite book series, "The Little House on the Prairie".  Ma makes switchel as a surprise for Pa and allows the girls to bring it to him in the hay field.

Switchel recipes change according to each individual family's tastes.  Here is a basic recipe:  one part apple cider vinegar, two parts sweetener, two inch piece of ginger.

Grate the ginger, then add the honey and vinegar.  Refrigerate until needed.  Mix 4 tablespoons into a cup of water to make switchel.

The sweetener changes according to the area of the country.  A small amount of molasses or sorghum gives the switchel a traditional flavor.

Medicinally the vinegar in switchel is purported to reduce arthritis inflammation and reduce cholesterol.  The ginger is an anti nausea remedy.  The honey soothes a sore throat and cough.

Try switchel as a beneficial home remedy and a healthy alternative to sports drinks.

God bless,

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Frugal Garden: San Marzano Tomatoes

When planning my Fall garden I am taking into account my limited garden area and our easy access to local u-pick farms.  If I had a huge garden I would gladly grow enough generic tomatoes to supply my canning, but without a large garden I pick my basic canning tomatoes at one of my favorite u-pick farms.

The tomatoes I grow in my garden need to be hard to find locally and known for their high quality.  I've already talked about my favorite summer yellow grape tomatoes, but for fall I am going to concentrate on tomatoes that are great in salsas and sauces.

If you watch the Food Network, you have seen the chefs touting the taste and quality of San Marzano tomatoes.  They are an Italian paste tomato with a rich, full flavor.

San Marzano's hold up to cooking and are fleshy enough to make a thick salsa.  They are a beautiful, red plum shaped tomato.

Give these tomatoes a try.  Versatile and tasty.  A great frugal choice for a smaller garden.

God bless,

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Mennonites and Jury Duty

Several weeks ago I received a jury summons.  I let them know immediately that I was a Mennonite and that I was unable to swear oaths or sit in judgement of others.  Both of these subjects are well covered in the New Testament, particularly in the book of Matthew.  I received a response acknowledging that the state of Florida accepts religious exemptions from jury duty, but that unlike other accepted exemptions, I had to appear before a judge.

What do you do if you are a plain Christian and you receive jury duty?  Be patient, polite and a good example to others.  Don't be strident or angry.  Read the bible and other literature to back up your beliefs.  I found to be a good source.  It was there that I found the policy on jury duty that was adopted by the Southeastern Mennonite Conference in 1993.

I reported to the Jury room on time and explained that I was a Mennonite and unable to swear an oath.  They asked if I could affirm that I would tell the truth, which I then did.  So there was the oath problem taken care of.

Next we were taken up to the hallway outside of the courtroom.  I was ready to speak to the judge about my inability to judge others.  We sat and sat.  It became obvious to us that something was taking place.  The judge came out and explained that the defendant had decided to take a plea deal, so our case had gone away.

We went back to the jury room and were formally excused from any further jury duty.  We couldn't get out of there fast enough.

I almost (not quite) wish that I had the opportunity to see how the judge reacted to my argument.  Perhaps some of you have had this experience.

The moral of the story is to not get upset if you get summoned.  Just stick by your beliefs, trust in God and everything with work out.

God bless,

Monday, September 5, 2011

White Towels and What's On Sale In September

It's the time of year for white sales:  towels, bed linens, pillows, etc.  Also, stores are trying to move out many of their large items to make room for Christmas merchandise.  Look for mattresses, furniture, outdoor furniture, grills...the list goes on and on.

I recently decided that I was changing over to all white, hotel quality towels.  Hotel towels are thick enough to be absorbent, but not so thick that they mildew before they dry.  They can be bleached when they get stained or discolored.

My towel sets always seem to wear out unevenly.  I end up using mismatched sets of towels.  By using all white towels, everything matches, all the time.  I think white towels always look so clean and fresh.

I found packs of 12 bath towels and 24 hand towels at Costco for a little over $2 at towel.  Keep your eyes on the sale circulars to find the best Labor Day sales.  Don't pay over $3 for a bath towel; it just isn't necessary.

God bless,

Friday, September 2, 2011

Asparagus Beans

Last Spring we grew asparagus beans for the first time.  They were such a success that we will be putting them in again this Fall growing season.

I am not sure why they are called asparagus beans.  They should be called two foot long beans.  The smallest bean we had was two feet long.  The flavor is that of a standard green bean and the plants are a standard, vining bean plant.  Easy to grow on simple supports.

Asparagus Bean Plant

Why is this bean so attractive to me?  They take up no more space than a regular bean plant and produce the same number of beans, but each bean is so much larger than a regular green bean.  So, each plant produces more food without using more garden area or inputs.

This one is a keeper.  Add it to your list for your next gardening season.

God bless,

Looking Ahead For The Frugal Mennonite

Several times a year I post about my plans for my blog's future.  This is not only to inform my readers, but helps me organize and plan the blog's content.

I am in the process of selling my inherited house.  The closing is set for Sept. 30th.  It has been a positive experience and I hope it continues to be so.  I have learned many valuable pointers from my real estate agent and other professionals that I would like to pass on to you.

My current house is in need of updating.  I haven't had the time to concentrate on bringing it into the 21st Century (it was built in 1955), but soon I will have the ability to make the repairs and updates it needs.  I'll do some of the work myself, but hiring professionals will be a large part of my plan.

It's gardening time in Florida.  Yep, we garden all Fall, Winter and Spring.  I'm looking to plan my garden. Time to start digging.

Dreaming of Eggplants

Crafts for the holidays.  Oh yeah, it's that time already.

One thing I need to comment on:  I have noticed that when I address my religion, discuss prayer or religious topics that I will lose a subscriber or two.  The title of the blog does include the word Mennonite for a reason.  I am a practicing Mennonite and my faith will be included in this blog.  Fair warning.

God bless,

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Baby Edison Has Passed

Sadly, I just found out that Baby Edison passed away today.  He is safe in the arms of our lord.  Thank you for your prayers.

Please continue to pray for Mackenzie's recovery.

God bless,

Fundraiser To Benefit Baby Edison And Mackenzie

As we know any hospitalization puts a huge financial burden on a family's finances.  Add that to the worry over their sick children and the burden seems unbearable.

First Lutheran School of Clearwater is holding a fundraiser for Baby Edison and Mackenzie, the two children from my prior post.  Just five dollars buys a raffle ticket for a free meal from a Pinellas County steak house.  Obviously, most of you can't benefit from this, but if you feel able any donations will be deeply appreciated.

Contact Jessica Roe of the First Lutheran School Parent Teacher League to find out how to donate.

God bless,

Pray For Two Beautiful Children

Two children from families at my daughter's school are facing serious medical crises.  Your healing prayers are needed for both the children and their loving families.

Baby Edison was born three weeks ago.  He has contracted meningitis and is in critical condition at All Children's Hospital.  The doctors are not holding out much hope, but we all know that God can heal all things.  His will be done.

Baby Edison

Our dear Mackenzie, a high school girl, has just been diagnosed with leukemia.  She has a long and difficult fight before her and is also hospitalized.  Please pray for her recovery and strength for her and her family.  God's will be done.

God bless,