Friday, February 25, 2011

Goodbye, Satellite TV

We live in an older, rural neighborhood where cable providers have not pulled in lines for cable service, and as a result we were limited to satellite TV.  Our bill was around $170 a month for a DVR and two additional basic boxes for the bedrooms. But you know the routine. . . Despite the hundreds of channels available, we were pretty much limited to watching a handful of channels. My husband likes watching movies, I like cooking and decorating shows, and we both are news junkies.  The TV is on in the morning when he is getting ready for work, but stays off until he gets home. I listen to talk radio most of the day as I am working about the house.  TV was getting just too expensive, not only because of the cost, but also because we just don't watch that much TV to make it worthwhile to pay that much.

We have decided to pull the plug and subscribe to Netflix and Hulu instead.   Netflix for the movies and Hulu for TV shows.  The cost for both services will be less than $20 a month plus the one time cost of the "Roku" box of about $80. If something is not available, that's just too bad.  Though I will miss the Fox News Network, the impact will be nominal, because I already get most of my news from the radio and the internet anyway. 

It is a win win situation as far as I'm concerned. We will be saving quite a large sum of our money, and it will give me more time to read, which I love to do.  We'll see how it goes. . .  I really doubt if we will ever get cable or satellite service again. . .

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Security in a Bag

With food prices on a steady march upwards, I decided I better purchase another bag of beans.  Here it is, all 50 pounds of it. It cost me $22.49 for this bag today. I purchased another bag about a year ago, and I hardly made a dent in it, so that means we have close to 100 pounds of this stuff. 

Still, this is less than half of the suggested amount needed to keep in food storage for a family of 4.  According to an LDS source the recommended amount is to have 60 pounds per person in legumes.  I probably have another 10-20 pounds in other miscellaneous types of dried beans.  I suppose this is a good start, but I need to step up the purchase. . .

Why do I do this? For one thing, I am purchasing food today that I will be eating tomorrow at yesterday's prices.  Beans keep indefinitely without losing much nutritional value, so I have the peace of mind that if prices become really high, I am assured that my family will be fed. It might get boring, but at least we will have food. . .

For another, I am convinced that we are in for some dire times ahead.  I probably sound like a nut, but I am convinced that we are facing a financial meltdown in the US in the not too distant future.  If things get really dicey, I will have a food supply stashed away until we can get into the swing of having to hunt, forage, and grow our own food.  In this respect, we are more fortunate than some. We live on an acre, so we have enough land to grow most of our vegetables if it came to that. Last year was the trial run, and we plan on enlarging the beds this year, "just in case."

As I watch the protests in front of the Wisconsin State Capitol over the proposed cutback of union representation for teachers, I feel I am seeing just a sampling of what is to come.  The teachers don't want to pay into their retirement and health care at all. They want the taxpayers to foot the bill. But the governor says without doing this, he cannot balance the State budget.  Things have reached the tipping point where the taxpayers are tired of paying public workers more in benefits than they themselves are getting.  I realize teachers are upset their cozy status quo is threatened to be changed, but if they don't give in, then they are facing layoffs! They don't see that they are going the way of Detroit where the unions completely destroyed an industry!

We are all making sacrifices these days.  I think it is time for union members to see that the status quo is not the answer.  In the meantime, I am going to continue squirreling food away "just in case."
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Sticker Shock

How can a practically empty shopping cart of groceries total up to $43.90?  I mean, really? My sons ask why I don't buy Flaming Hot Cheetos any more to pack in their lunches. . . At $3.00 a bag, I don't think it is worth it.  My older son has been loving them since he was a toddler, but I'm afraid they can only be an occasional treat now.  To add insult to injury, many companies are shrinking the amount of product inside packages to ostensibly keep the prices the same. Excuse me? I'm not that stupid.  I notice. 

We are all cutting back and trying to deal with the reality of the situation.  I wish the President and the incompetent Democrats would step up to the plate and learn to make do with less, instead of trying to grow the government to unsustainable levels.  At least get out of the way and let the Republicans try to be more grown up about what we can and can't afford as a nation, instead of whining the predictable mantra that "the children and the elderly are going to suffer."  As President Reagan once said, "we have a rendezvous with destiny," but the destiny as it stands now is not the rosy one envisioned by him but one that is far more unpleasant.  I resent the politicians who only care about re-election and who don't put the interests of the country and its citizens first. Enough already!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Coeur a la Creme

We're not big into celebrating Valentine's Day, but here's the coeur a la creme I made for my husband and my two sons that we had after dinner. I found the porcelain mold at the thrift store some time back for 99 cents. Quite a bargain compared to what the large molds go for in stores like Williams Sonoma or Sur La Table, which is around 35 dollars. I've been wanting to make this for some years, but was too cheap to fork over the full retail price! BTW, it was divine with the raspberry sauce I made. Oh, and the glass serving platter was another find, but I forgot how much I paid for that, probably a couple of bucks.
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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Frugal Bathroom

This is our hall bathroom, meaning it is the one used by guests and our family when we are hanging out in the family room. It was totally gutted when we purchased the house. Although a renovation is not exactly a frugal proposition, I tried to furnish it as frugally as possible.

The only items purchased new were the black photo frame and the iron scroll over the window. Actually, they are both something purchased some time ago unrelated to the renovation. I had purchased the scroll when we lived in our former home, and it ended up as a window treatment here as it was the perfect size to fit over the window.  I felt that a curtain would have looked busy over such a small window.  I like to think of it as a quasi French prison/tower room look.  The magazine rack/toilet paper holder was a whopping $1.99 at the thrift store. I plan on spray painting it with a hammered finish paint when I get around to it.

The armoire was purchased used on Craigslist for $120. It holds all our towels and bulk toiletry supplies. The eagle mirror was a $4.99 find from about a week ago at a thrift store, as was the large full length mirror that was $25. It used to be a dresser mirror orphaned from the dresser. It was made by Thomasville, so if I were to purchase it new, I guesstimate it would cost me at least $400 or so.

Although you can't see it very well, there is a china cabinet opposite the commode also purchased on Craigslist for $200 together with a buffet that I turned into the sink vanity (I'll post a photo at some later date). When the weather gets a little bit warmer for me to work in the garage, I plan on painting the china cabinet to recreate a look I saw in a decorating magazine.  The painted cabinet in the magazine cost around $7,500.

Overall, not bad considering you could spend $50+ on a toilet paper holder alone. . .

BTW, this is what this bathroom used to look like when we purchased the house.  WHAT WERE THEY THINKING???

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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Thrift Store Find

A bit hypocritical following my post on "Wants -v- Needs" the other day, but I found this mirror at the thrift store and could not pass it up. This is a federal style reproduction mirror with the requisite convex mirror. I believe this particular one was manufactured around the 60's or 70's. Even close up, it appears to be made of wood, but is actually some type of composite plastic. It is a very traditional design with 13 balls surrounding the mirror representing the original 13 colonies with an American eagle on top.

I've been wanting one of these for a long time, but true antiques run in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and a quick search on the Internet resulted in a RENTAL mirror of the same design going for $70 per month! This baby cost me $4.99! It's not an original antique, for sure, but good enough for me. For the time being, it resides in our bathroom until we get around to refacing our fireplace in the family room. Thereafter, I plan on hanging it over the fireplace.

My late father used to tease me that I had champagne taste on a beer budget, but this is the case of champagne looks on a beer budget, don't you think?
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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Stock Up if You Can. . .

Things are getting really scary over in Egypt and the Middle East in general. . . I heard on the news that the cost of food has gone up 20 percent in the past year world wide.  Researchers calculated that the average American family spends ten percent of its annual income on food (@ three meals a day), while those in developing countries spend nearly half of their income on food (@ two meals a day).  It is no wonder that there is unrest in Egypt caused in part from the frustrations of the people who are out of work and hungry as a result.

I am no politician, but I strongly feel that things are going to escalate. It is a powder keg over there. . . And if you don't think something like that cannot happen where you live, I would think twice.  Just look at the riots in Europe over the last year in Greece, France and England.  I definitely see something similar in our future. 

Time to really get serious about stocking up on staples like beans, rice, and other staples that will keep a long time in storage.  As I said before, better be prepared and not have to use it, than not having it and having to suffer the consequences.  If you stock up on things with a long shelf life, you are not throwing your money away, since you will eventually get around to eating it.  Do yourself a favor and get prepared and stock up!