My grandmother was a very frugal woman who often told me “if you will mind your pennies your dollars will mind themselves.” I hope to share here some of her wisdom and the wisdom of others I have learned over the years

Saturday, June 30, 2012


I am a big believer in having more than one purpose for any tool in our home.  After all if you can make one tool do two jobs that is one less you tool you need and therefore you save money and storage space. 

I apply this thought to many things in my life as well as tools.  Our dogs are not just wonderful companions that give undivided love to us and we seriously consider part of the family ,they are also hard working animals that alert us when there is an intruder on the property, guard the flock from predators, “find” another family member for us and even “help” with chores. 

The cats are a natural blood pressure lowering agent for us, by helping us focus on the simpler things in life, such as the calming effect of a purr.  They are all excellent mousers, very important in country living, and good at letting us know when something isn’t right in the house.

The birds are pest control, egg production, a country door bell—try making it up our drive without the flock and the dogs letting us know you are here-- comic relief and so much more.  But this article is more about using household items in more than one way.

Let’s start with the muffin tins in the title.  Everyone knows they are great for making muffins and cupcakes in.  After all that is what they were designed for right?  But how about cooking/making other things in them?  Think outside the cake mix box and speed up your cooking in more ways.  After all faster cooking means less heat in your kitchen right?  Less heat, means a lower cooling bill.  Or go a step further and bake in them in your turkey roaster in your summerkitchen.

Simple meals can be created and cooked quickly in a muffin tin.  A few examples are MuffinTin Meatloaves, Muffin Tin Corndogs, Biscuit Tacos, and Pizza Cups.

Make ice cubes of various flavors to float in punches, lemonade pitchers, and other beverages in your muffin tins.  One resourceful lady I know freezes all leftover beverages such as tea, juices, etc.  In her regular ice cube trays and then uses them to cool the next batch of beverages without diluting them.  Once the cubes are frozen she pops them into a freezer container until needed. You can make larger versions of these using your muffin tins.

Freeze leftovers of any sort for a quick freeze job and easy measuring for future recipes.  Again you can use ice cube trays for this too.  It’s really great during the summer growing season to harvest your fresh herbs such as cilantro, and freeze it chopped in normal usage sizes in ice cube trays with a little water.  Then pop into a storage container for a pre-measured usage in recipes that call for fresh herbs in the future.
During a massive holiday baking time, or when having a homemade ice cream sundae party put the toppings in muffin tin cups for easy access while decorating.

Turn your muffin tins upside down and spread tortillas or bread dough of any sort over the bottom of the sprayed pan to create bowls for any numerous types of meals.  Bake in the oven at your normal temperature for the dough you are using.  If you carefully watch them to make sure there is no burning you can do this with rolled cookie dough too for great homemade dessert cups.

Everyone has a junk drawer, come on confess you have at least one (at my house we have one for every room, but that is a story for the Patterson’sPrincess Plan blog. Organize all those small odds and ends in the drawer with muffin tins of various sizes.  They are particularly great for buttons, and mini muffin tins work well for smaller jewelry organization. 

In the crafts room sort beads, findings, and other small items into muffin tins for easy access while working on a project.  When leaving the project you can turn a cookie sheet upside down over the muffin tin as a lid to help keep those oh so helpful cats out of the project.

Little ones finger painting?  Put the different colors in small amounts in the various cups of the muffin tin and let them at it.  They are also great for those artists that want to mix their own colors to use.

Muffin tins can also be used for unique candle holders.  Remember muffin tins come in various sizes and shapes—I have loaf shaped ones that I use for mini fruit bread loaves as well as organizing rectangular shaped items in.

Now that I’ve got you thinking about the possible uses for your muffin tins.  What ideas can you share with me?  I’m always looking for more uses for everything on our homestead in the country.

Moving past the muffin tins another “multi-purpose” tool I am fond of using is my extendable light bulb changer.  You can buy them for under $15 at most home improvement centers.  They are generally bright yellow and come with various attachments, like a suction cup and an expandable basket for changing light bulbs.

As a person who is 5’1” on my tallest of days I am always looking for something to help me “reach” things.  So it was a natural purchase for me when we moved into this house that has 9 foot ceilings in some of the lower level rooms.  It also didn’t take me long to look around for other uses for the poles that will expand out to several feet.

My first non-light bulb use for them was tree fruit picking.  We have several wild plum trees on our property and I found out quickly that by putting the basket attachment on I could safely stand on the ground below the tree and pick plums from the upper branches.  Anything that keeps me off a ladder is a plus in my book.

Over the years we have used the long poles for everything from herding birds to snake removal—the more length the better there as far as I am concerned.  Cat toy retrieval is another big use for them at our house too.

Back to the kitchen for another set of multi-use ideas.  Silicone spatulas not only help you clean out a bowl of cake batter to the last drop, you can use them to stir hot liquids in your saucepans and skillets without scratching the surface, decorate a cake, or empty that science experiment from the refrigerator—cheez, what was that?

In the craft room they become a unique paint brush, a play dough mixer, and a spreader of craft sand.

Canning jars, both old and new become plant starter containers, candle cups, vases, drinking cups, picnic supply holders, silverware holders, and much more.  I have old marbles displayed in an old baled canning jar as part of a decorative touch that contains many old time childhood toys and text books in my home.

Recycle your bottles and other jars for all the above (except maybe the candle cups—you want sturdy heat resistant jars for that job), as well as sorting containers everywhere else in your life. 

I could write for some time about all the things that have dual uses on our place, but now I’ve got your creative juices flowing I’d like to hear about your favorite multi-purpose tool.  Feel free to become a follower and leave a message in the comment section below.

Jan who is rethinking the purposes of most of the items in her home as she works on her Patterson’s Princess Plan in OK

Thursday, June 28, 2012


My grandmother taught me that the best way to make money is to not spend it when you have it. Easier said than done right?  Not really, sometimes it just takes a little thinking it through. With kids out of school for the summer it seems like that task is even harder because the kids are b-o-r-e-d!

Taking them places to “entertain” them can get real expensive real fast, so why not entertain them at home? No don’t park them in front of the X-box and pray the game is age correct for them, really entertain them and get them moving.

 Here are a few ideas for various age groups from the very young to your teens, or even yourself for that matter.  You will find several links in this blog, but I will also suggest searches you can do on the web for your own specific needs as the article goes along.

Help kids with projects on making things they have an interest in.  Here are a few examples we did with our kids when they were young:

Are they fascinated by outer space or space travel?

When our children were young we made replicas of the USS Enterprise from the Star Trek series out of paper plates, free yard sticks, and egg cartons.  These we spray painted silver and then they painted designs on the side.  The pattern came out of an old “Pack O Fun” magazine, which unfortunately I no longer have.  Basically the main section of the Enterprise was two Chinet type plates they stapled together, the elongated body was a piece of a yardstick and you used other cardboard or egg carton pieces to form the rest of the ship.  While I cannot supply the exact pattern the imagination of your children can. Or design any type of space ship they want.

A websearch for such crafts will reap you more than you can imagine.  Also check your local library for copies of the "Pack O Fun" magazine, it a wonderful source of kids crafts.  There are also numerous books at the library on crafts of all sorts, explore and have fun.

Once the spaceships are built they can string them together as a mobile for their room, or fly them until they take their final mission.

Viewing the stars with a whole new understanding.  One young man that spent a lot of time with our family while we were rendezvousing (pre-1840 US  Fur Trade Era Historical Re-enactments) was fascinated by the stars in the night sky as we camped.  We  invested in a star chart, and a copy of “Star Tales” by Gretchen Will Mayo and other Native American myth and lore books then each night before bedtime we would read or tell him a story from the books.  With the help of the star chart we’d locate the constellation in the sky and then discuss the story we had just read.

Another friend with the camp name of Dragonfly, made an entire ceremony out of the story telling.  Each night just at dark he would set out candle lanterns around his camp them beat a drum slowly.  This told all the children of the camp it was story time.  They came bringing their own candle lanterns and rugs to sit on.  He then told them the stories of the sky. 

This is a simple thing you can do at your own home as long as you can get a clear view of the night sky.  Star charts are now free on the web, many of the stories are too.  Or check with your local library for books on the subject, or cruise for used copies there.  I know several of my Native American storybooks we no longer use are listed there under the seller name ladydressmaker.  Other people have copies listed there too.

Not into Native American, how about the Greek and Roman stories about the stars?

Need a daytime activity? How about giant bubble wands?  Who can make the biggest soap bubble? Over the years as ‘voo traders we made hundreds of these simple bubble wands. (photo and possibly a video coming soon) The ones we made for the re-enactments had all metal and wood parts as well as yarn, but you can use plastics from around the house to make yours.

To make these you need a dowel rod, a ring from the base of a cap off of a two liter bottle or milk jug, approximately 3 feet of yarn and a bead that will fit on the end of the dowel rod snuggly and be larger than what the plastic ring can slide over easily—it is there to stop the ring from coming off as well as to hold the yarn in place.  Finally you will need a bucket or dishpan to hold the bubble liquid and Joy dish soap and water to make the liquid with.

The length of the dowel rod can either be the full 3 foot for larger children and adults or a half rod for the younger set.  The length of your yarn needs to be 2-3 times the length of the dowel rod.

Measure down from one end of the yarn to 3 inches shorter than the dowel rod you are using.  Fold the yarn at this point and push the fold through the inside of the plastic ring.  Pull the loose ends of the yarn through the loop and tighten down to where the ring is now secured to the yarn in a half hitch. 

Tie the ends of the yarn together. Make certain to not twist the yarn as you tie it into a loop.  The ring should now be secured to the yarn in an off center manner. 

Slide the ring onto the dowel rod, making sure it can move smoothly up and down the dowel rod. Making certain the shorter side of the yarn is the side touching the dowel rod place the knot from tying the two ends together on the end of the dowel rod and then slide be bead on to secure this knot in place.  You can use non-water soluble glue to secure this even tighter if you want.

When the ring is slid all the way down the “handle” of the bubble wand it should stop about 3 inches from the end of the dowel rod, bringing the yarn slightly taut.  The remaining yarn should hang down in a large loop.  The overall look should be much like a capital D.

For the bubble liquid we used just Joy dish soap and water, no glycerin, no syrup, no other additives, just dish soap and water.  This we placed in a large dishpan in approximately a 10 water to 1 dish soap ratio.  Basically it was mixed to where you can actually feel the dish soap in the water.  Those of you who hand wash dishes the feel you are looking for is when you KNOW you’ve put too much dish soap in.

Mix GENTLY, do not swish, foam is NOT your friend in bubble making.  When the kids are using it discourage them from stirring the water with the bubble wand.

Slide the ring down to the bead and dip the yarn into the water.  Some children find using a bucket easier than a dishpan. Once the yarn is well soaked pull the ring back down the handle slowly (but not too slowly), down the handle as you slowly walk.  A large elongated bubble will form.  To close off the bubble you slowly move the ring back toward the bead. 

You can have competitions on who can make the longest bubble—our record was many feet long.  OR they can walk in a circle and try to close off the bubble in a ring.  It can be done.

For the camera bug in all of you, the very best photos of this activity are on overcast days.  The bubbles refract the light and the rainbow of colors are gorgeous.

Play dough anyone? A simple websearch for homemade playdough will turn up hundreds of recipes for you.  A few drops of food coloring and a little imagination and soon an afternoon is gone.

When I ran my own search one website I came across says it is the number one play dough website.   I cruised the site myself and was very impressed with the different types of recipes they have on it.  everything from glow in the dark play dough to edible play dough.  This is far different than the basic salt and flour dough I use to make my children.

Arts and crafts from materials around the house. My children were very creative, they still are as adults.  Start a box of “craft materials” and turn the kids loose with it.  Add things like boxes from cereals, pasta, crackers, etc. Egg cartons, toilet paper and paper towel tubes, juice can lids, and the washed out juice cans, plastic containers, newspaper, junk mail, magazines, the list is unending.  Add glue, crayons, paints, a stapler and staples, colored pencils, rulers, odds and ends of yarn or string, rubber bands anything you find around the house. 

Once the crafts box is put together then choose a theme.  Something from a favorite book or movie, something they saw that day any type of theme you can think of, or let them take turns choosing a theme.

Now challenge them to make something on that theme out of the materials provided. You just might be amazed!

For the budding artist: Did you know the web is FULL of free coloring pages?  Simply put in a subject and the search term free coloring pages.  An example would be Tinkerbell, free coloring pages.

Learn a craft.  When I was 13 I went to visit an older cousin for a few weeks.  I knew how to crochet, thanks to my aunts and grandmother, and she knew how to knit.  So we traded lessons. 

This is a great activity to get a younger person involved with an older person as a mentor.  Does Grandma quilt?  Would she consider showing one of your children the basics?  No need for special materials, surely you have outgrown clothes, that could be cut up for materials.  Start with a mini quilt.

Does Uncle Joe whittle?  How about woodcarving lessons?

Sister Susie cans---the list is endless and the training would be free.

Take a hike! You don’t even have to drive to the woods or mountains to do so, take a “Penny Hike” right in your own neighborhood.  The concept is simple and can be a lot of fun. 

Leaving your front door or another starting point you flip a coin, heads you go one direction, tails you go the other.  At each next intersection, you repeat the action.  Letting a different person call the toss each time.

This is a great opportunity to have “talks” with your kids as you walk.  The talks can be about what  you see, what is going on in life right now, a recent book read, or movie seen.

Going a ways from home?  Be sure and pack water bottles and a perhaps a snack or simple lunch.
Jan who has many more suggestions, including ideas for the older kids she will post soon in OK

Sunday, June 24, 2012


Since man first discovered fire there has been a kitchen of sorts.  It didn’t take man long, I’m certain, to discover how different foods tasted when cooked.  Or how warm a fire could make a living structure.

The earliest kitchens were a mere campfire on the ground, or in a pit.  Today people experiment with this type of cooking and most find the results to be wonderful.  One of the best meats I ever tasted was a pit roasted buffalo at a rendezvous.  It was so tender and tasty. 

I’ve had many a meal that has been pit cooked and not a one has been bad.  The food has always been cooked to perfection.  I’ve added to my long list of planned articles to do one in the future on pit cooking and how truly simple it is.

With a few pieces of good cast iron I can cook just about anything on a campfire, but those early men and women didn’t even have that.  They either spit cooked or wrapped the foods in leaves or wet clay to cook them. Yes, I’ve had foods cooked in this manner too, and yet another article for the future.  Spit roasted hog is wonderful.

Experimenting with these types of cooking can not only cut down your cooling bill in the summer, but can be a great learning experience for the whole family.

As people became more and more adjusted to the creature comforts of a shelter their “kitchens” developed as well.  Small campfires were put in a pit in the center of lodges or tipis and smoke flaps were used to draw the smoke upward and out of the structure.

As more permanent homes were built the fires were moved into either the tallest part of the house to allow the smoke to go upward and out, or into a fireplace with a chimney.

Eventually stoves were developed and the fire was more enclosed and easier to control.  Then of course came the development of electric stoves and various cooking appliances.

What all of the cooking sources of the past and present have in common is of course heat.  In the winter it is great to cook large pots of a hearty stew or other meal and let it simmer all day, filling the air not only with delicious aromas, but with wonderful heat.

In the summer, however, while a stew may sound great for supper no one wants to heat up the house.  Not only is it uncomfortable, but it runs your air conditioning bill even further up.  But you simply can’t stop cooking entirely—although I know some that have seriously considered it.

This is where we go back in history.  My husband, son and I love touring old historical homes.  One common thread you see in most of these older homes is the “Summer Kitchen” or the “Canning Kitchen”.

Generally these kitchens are in the basement, on a lower level or an entirely separate building from the main house.  They were where all the “grunt work” of the labors of preparing elegant and not so elegant meals occurred. 

Some were huge and housed in well lined basements that kept the rooms a decently cool temperature while the cooks labored over the wood and coal fired stoves or fireplaces.  Some were merely a shed that sheltered from rain and little else. 

What they all had in common was keeping the main house cool in the summertime.  It is this concept we have been looking into at the Rock ‘n Tree Ranch.  I actually have in my mind’s eye what I eventually want, but budget is always a concern with each new structure we add here.  So in the meantime I am opting for a modern version of the Summer Kitchen.  The idea is so simple anyone can do it anywhere.

You move the cooking outdoors.  It can be as simple as plugging your crockpot, toaster oven, rice steamer, electric wok, bread machine, electric turkey roaster, or other electrical cooking appliance in out in the garage or on a covered patio, balcony or porch, or in the basement.   

Avoid using extension cords if you can, but if you must use one use a heavy duty cord.  Having the appliance in a sheltered area is best so that you are prepared for sudden showers or the neighbors sprinkler that comes on with no warning.

Also use your hibachi, charcoal grill, or gas grill often.  I know one family that cooks entirely on their gas grill during warm weather.  All three meals a day they cook on their gas grill OUTSIDE.  Anything you can cook on a gas grill you can cook on a charcoal grill or wood fire, it just takes a little practice and patience.

Then of course you could experiment with building and using a solar oven.  There are plans all over the internet for ones as simple as a foil lined cardboard box to very elaborate ones. 

Think now about the kids’ winter science fair and get a head start on the project.  Have them help build and cook with the solar oven and do a project on it.  Think about it, how many birds could you kill with that one stone?  1) Moving the heat of cooking outside and therefore lowering your cooling bill. 2) Answering the problem of “Mom I’m booooored!” by giving the kids an interesting project to do 3) Avoiding the last minute rush of science fair time by doing the project now and thus creating a better project 4) You get a great meal at the same time.  Now that’s a great way to take down a whole flock of birds with one stone!

You could do similar with the pit and campfire cooking, but with close adult supervision. Include a history lesson or two along the way while doing this form of cooking and you have another winning scenario.

No matter which way you do it move your cooking outdoors and cut your cooling costs.  As with all projects you do need to exercise caution as you move to your summer kitchen.  Don’t string electrical cords in main walkways, don’t leave food cooking where a dog, cat, child or other critter could dump hot foods on themselves. 

Oh and beware of cobbler thieves.  At one rendezvous we were having a Dutch oven cook off and I made peach cobblers, yes cobblers.  You see I’d make one, then set it to cool, then I’d go back to check on it and it would be gone.  By the time the actual camp meal rolled around I had armed Dog Soldiers standing around the fourth and final cobbler because I was all out of dried peaches by that time.  To this day I do believe one of those Dog Soldiers was the cobbler thief. My cobbler placed well in the competition, but my biggest cobbler fan ( a Dog Soldier) pled out from eating any because he was too full.  Could it be because I saw a bit of peach in his beard?

My dream summer kitchen is a wood and screen structure just off my side deck, under the shade trees.  It would have a two burner propane camp stove on a sturdy base OR an apartment size propane stove with an oven.  Tables, a water hook up, a storage cabinet, and all the conveniences including an electrical hook up and lighting.  There would be storm panels I could put up as a wind break  or against sudden changes in the weather.  I have most of the bits and pieces I need to stock it, I simply need the structure. 

In the meantime I use our sunroom for setting up the electrical appliances for cooking out of the main house.

How much could you lower your cooling bill by cooking outside this summer?  There is no reason to not cook a frugal and savory stew even on the hottest odays this summer.  Just cook it outside.

Jan who uses the heat of the wood burning stove in the house in the winter to cook many a pot of soup all day long in OK


I confess, we are cat crazy in our home.  We have six, yes six cats.  Each and everyone is unique, but they all do what cats do and therefore there is a cost tied to having the little darlings. It’s a larger cost than most people consider when they see those little free kittens at Wal-Mart.  But the total cost of pets is for another post.  I personally am a big believer in pets helping to lower your blood pressure and bring a lot of joy into your life.  So we bite the bullet on the cost, but I want it to be a 22 caliber rather than a 44 caliber.

Four of the cats have outdoor privileges, while the youngest two do not. However, that still means a lot of litter boxes in the house.  I don’t know about your cats but ours don’t do the same business in the same box.  Plus because they are individuals they also have different tastes in cat litter.  It means at our house we have six boxes for 6 cats (one of which is not the world’s best about hitting a litter box—we’re working on that.  More in a bit on that.

Two of the cats prefer clay litter, while the rest love the Breeze system by Nestle/Purina.  As far as ease to clean I MUCH prefer the Breeze system.  It has less tracking, no dust and is a snap to clean.  However, it can get VERY expensive with six cats using it. 

For those of you not familiar with the Breeze it has a two part system.  The top part contains ceramic like pellets that set on a mesh grid that allows liquids to drain through to the lower part that is lined with an absorbent pad. 

The pellets we change about once a month, sometimes a little longer if we keep the solids scooped out on a good regular basis.  The pad in the bottom is changed 1-2 times a week.  This is where the big expense comes in.

At our local Wal-Mart the pads are roughly $1.25 each when you add in sales tax—which I always do when calculating costs of anything, it is after all cash out of my pocket.

This means every week we spend $6-$12 for keeping those boxes fresh (there are 4 Breeze boxes at our house).  That is on a month that the cats stay mainly in the house nearly $25-$50 per month or $300-$600 per year on just the pads!  Then you add in the $7 for a bag of the pellets or another $84 a year.  UH OH! This upsets my tightwad heart! Almost $700 a year for the first four boxes plus the two clay litter boxes!  OUCH!

There is no getting around the pellets that I have found, but dh and I have started looking hard at the pad costs. 

We experimented with the idea of cutting up newspaper, but the odor protection was not there, not to mention who wants to pick up urine soaked paper?  With newspaper we also had to wash the tray out that lines the bottom section every time we changed the pad due to the moisture.

Plus there was the time consumption of going to a friend’s house to pick up her newspapers because we don’t subscribe to one, cutting them to fit and dealing with the ink on our hands and the mess from cutting it up.  Not to mention the fuel to go pick up the newspapers.  So newspaper was not a good option for us.

I considered cloth liners made out of old towels, but that meant dealing with laundering soaked with “cat smell” towels.  Something I just could not deal with.  This is strange I know because I am a big believer in using cloth for “drying” in the human bathroom, but those cloths aren’t soaked and therefore do not have the smell cat towels would.

So for a while we’ve been mulling over other options.  Today we got on the discussion again as we started our next grocery shopping list.  I suggested puppy training pads.  So dh grabbed up his android phone and started checking prices at all our various places we do our shopping.  The puppy pads were going to work out to be about $.15 each—not bad, but they were bigger than the Breeze pads and would need a lot of trimming to make them fit.  Because of the way the Breeze pads are made there is a plastic rim all the way around them to help keep the moisture in.  Trimming on two sides MIGHT have its drawbacks.

We continued to look, dh came across adult protective pads, or as many of us call them, puddle pads.  When he saw them on the web, at Sam’s Club,  he thought he had found bulk Breeze pads because they looked identical.  However, the size was hugely different.  So was the price!  The pads were big enough that if we used our paper cutter to cut them with just two cuts we could have three almost exact fit “Breeze” pads out of each singular protective pad.  The cost would be $.05 each, now that is more like it! 

But we are concerned about the cut edges of the pads. 

Time to drag out the old Seal a Meal or the Foodsaver, whichever is handier, we have both.  Our plan is to heat seal the raw edges to help block leakage.

We’ll try these different ideas to see what will work best.

1.     Just doing a heat seal flat across the cut edge.

2.     Folding the plastic backing up over the raw edge to form a barrier

3.     Using those tail end sections of the foodsaver rolls to make an ‘end cap’ on the pads.

I personally think the second one will be the best option. 

It will be a week before he visits Sam’s Club for our weekly shopping again, but when he does he will pick up a box of the puddle pads and we’ll give it a try.  If it doesn’t work I can always donate the pads to a local nursing home. 

It’s worth a try.  I will report back how it works out, even if the pads are slightly thinner and we have to change every 3 days instead of 4-7 days at a $1.20 per pad savings it would be worth the little bit of time it would take to adapt the adult protective pads.

Now about other litters and Amy Jo, our no-no kitty.  First Miss Amy Jo.  She was a feral cat before Street Cats received her.  She’s short fat and gray and we love her little round body to pieces, but Amy simply will not use a litter box.  We have come to the conclusion that it’s because her little belly drags in the litter and it’s hard for her to get in and out of the hard tall sided litter boxes.  If we put newspaper down for her in the utility room she generally will go on it.  So she is trainable.  But then we are back to soggy newspaper, plus if newspaper is in the floor four of the cats use it.  That means quickly soggy paper and little black paw prints everywhere.  NOT an option with me if I can avoid it.

Our latest endeavor is to adapt a litter box for her.  Dh took one of the cheap litter boxes and cut the end down to very low so she could enter without having to jump into goodness knows what.  We are experimenting with putting a thin layer of clay litter in it to see if she’ll use it.  I’ll let you know how that goes.  Because I am willing to bet we aren’t the only ones in this world with a ‘no-no’ kitty.

Now about clay litter.  This too we’ve tried different things with.  On one hand I like the clumping litter, but then I worry about the cats ingesting it, but most of the other clay litters are so dusty you can write your name on the utility room appliances after changing the boxes. 

We’ve tried various things like Feline Pine, cats didn’t like it and it and it was expensive.  After trying the rolled up newspaper litter like Yesterday’s news we tried shredding newspaper and junk mail.  Not a real good option.  See the previous objections to newspaper.   Plus add that solids and shredded newspaper combined are often hard to get out of a litter box.

Pan liners, we don’t use.  My cats, all but Amy, are ones that “cover” up their business and pan liners get shredded and are worthless for the bag and carry they are designed for.  Plus the cost of doing two boxes can add up quickly.

Another cost with cat litter is the disposal of it.  For some it’s not a problem because they aren’t charged extra by their trash removal service, but for those of us who don’t have trash service it can become a problem VERY fast.

This is another reason I like the Breeze system, we can burn the pads and we only change the pellets 12 times per year.  A bag of pellets isn’t very big either.  The clay litter is another problem. 

Despite having 90 acres we do not dump on our land.  Some people in our area have wells, wish I did, then there are our numerous ponds and wet weather creek to consider.  We do not want to pollute our ground water. 

As a result we have to end up refilling emptied litter buckets with the used litter, which it never seems to all fit back in.  So other buckets are often called into action as well.  These we must haul to the dump.  I certainly wish we had another option.

So that is how we are working on cutting the cost of cat litter boxes.  What are your suggestions.

Jan who loves her furbabies, but tries to keep the expense of them at a minimum in OK

Sunday, June 10, 2012


Hurray! You made it welcome to my new blog.  If you traveled over from “See the USA the MysteryShopping Way” welcome old friend.  If you just happened to stumble in, you are most welcome too! 

A little something about this blog and its writer.  I’m a 62 year old sahm/w.  I’m an organic gardener, home food preserver, wanna be writer, all and all tightwad. In my younger days I tended to spend far more than we brought in for my beloved trips and now am determined to be totally debt free within two years.  My family and I are following the plan set forth in Dave Ramsey’s “Total Money Makeover” book.  We are having great success with it.

I learned a lot about cutting corners from my grandmother,  the woman responsible for the title of this blog as she often said “Mind your pennies your dollars will mind themselves.” I just strayed from the path she started me on for a few years, but I’m back home now, back to my frugal roots.  I would like to help you either get started into frugal living or to help you along your path if you are already pretty frugal.  I also hope to pick up tips from many of you in the comments section.

I’ll try to limit each entry to a certain subject, but because I was vaccinated with a phonograph needle at a very young age I am very likely to stray a bit now and again. 

To make this blog easier to navigate I have added links on the right hand side to my other blogs that will include recipes, how to’s and much more.  From time to time I might refer tyou to websites or blogs of other people that I have found helpful.  

If there is a subject that you would like to see covered please fill free to email me at to suggest it.

If you see an ad along the way that interests you please click on it, because—here’s my first disclaimer—I like, many other bloggers,  get paid a small amount a click when you look at the different ads.

So let’s get started on living “below our means”, as Dave Ramsey says. 

I was taught in school that a good article includes the five W’s and an H.  Those being Who, What, Why, Where, When and How.  So I will strive to hit those as I write.

Who of course is us, you and me.

What is “What can I do to get my budget under control”

Why is “Why pay ‘Stupid Tax’, as Dave Ramsey calls it.  Stupid tax is interest on any loan, late fees, higher prices and anything else that eats away at your income on a daily basis.

Where, is everywhere.  As time goes on I hope together we can cover all aspects of life and ways to cut corners so that we can all live like the royalty we truly are (this is a shameless plug for yet another blog by me “Patterson's Princess Plan” or how to stop being a slave to your home and finances and become the royalty you truly are. 

When, NOW, let’s get started right now, let’s not pay a single penny more Stupid Tax then we have to.

HOW?  That’s what the blog entries are all about.

Simple concept right?

Jan who is ready to get started and hopes you are too in OK