Friday, October 30, 2009

What I Wore

I was "the sky" for Halloween.
I don't know about you, but I think the resemblance is striking.
Total Cost: $0 to wear what was already in my closet and give it a clever name. (Thanks for the idea Gwen!)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Carafe By Any Other Name

I really do like beautiful things. I like things that add a touch of elegance to my life of protractors and staple removers. That’s the reason that I drink water out of the carafe that sits on my desk.
I wanted a water carafe ever since I saw Katherine Hepburn using one in the movie Adam’s Rib (that woman could make anything look good). I think it gives an air of sophistication and refinement – whether it’s sitting on a work desk, a restaurant table or a bedside stand. (A definite improvement on a Dasani bottle with the label ripped off.) So anyway, last year I finally bought one (on sale) and it has been a fixture on my desk ever since.
I was pretty proud of my tasteful beverage service … until today. A student finally got up the nerve and asked “um … why do you drink your water out of a vase?” ouch. It’s a carafe! A CARAFE! Oh well, Katherine would like it.
Total Cost: $17.50 for a touch of class … no matter what my students think.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My Home is My Castle

A few years ago I learned that Balmoral Castle – the vacation home of the British Royal Family – has no central heating. So to stay warm on those cold Scottish nights they sleep with a hot water bottle. So do I!!
On cold nights in Milwaukee, I use two hot water bottles. The first one goes down by my feet and the second one is clutched to my chest like a teddy bear. I sleep nice and warm, while the rest of my empty apartment freezes. Zzzzz.
Total Cost: About $0.25 to heat the water give myself the royal treatment.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Difference

Jean Chatzky recently wrote a book called “The Difference: How Anyone Can Prosper in Even the Toughest Times.” Or as I read it -- “The Difference: How Anyone Can Prosper on Almost Any Salary.”

In the first chapter, she talks about four different types of people – the wealthy, the financially comfortable, the paycheck-to-paychecks and the further-in-debtors. As I looked over the criteria for being in each group, I discovered that I am somewhere between being financially comfortable and paycheck-to-paycheck. That is, I spend less than I earn but I don’t have $240,000 in investable assets.

Well, that’s nice, but what can I do to change? What can I do so that I can truly be financially comfortable? Well, as luck would have it, the point of the book is to teach people what they can do to change their financial caste. To this end she gives a list of twenty indicators that wealthy people generally share. The more of the indicators you have, the better off you are financially. So, I am working on my indicators. So far I’ve got eleven out of twenty. That’s pretty good. Right?

Total Cost: $16.47 on Amazon for a financial personality test, or $0 at your local library.

Monday, October 26, 2009


I think by now it’s obvious that I like free stuff. I think it may also be obvious that I like quality free stuff. Well, I found something today that is quality, free AND beautiful. How can you go wrong?
Jessica Hische is a designer, illustrator and typographer who has been making hand-crafted decorative initial caps to be used to beautify blogs all over the world. The only thing she asks is that you give her, Jessica Hische, credit. Not a problem!
Of course, making a beautiful blog isn’t my only reason for liking these hand-crafted decorative initial caps by Jessica Hische. I think they would also make a lovely alphabet book for a certain pre-pre-schooler I know.

Total Cost: $0 to make my blog look like a page out of Cicero. Thank you Jessica Hische!

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Supper Club

"What should I make for dinner tonight?" It’s the age old dilemma. Well, last night I didn’t have to answer that question … because of the supper club. Several weeks ago, I was having dinner with some friends and it was so yummy and so fun and so friendly that we decided to do dinner together every week. There was some trouble getting started, but I think we're getting better.
Last night was Beth’s turn and she did great! On the menu was chicken parmesan with mashed potatoes and a glass of kiwi-strawberry-cranberry juice. It was all very delicious and filling. After eating, we played the “draw-a-pig-personality-test” game -- apparently, I am a detail oriented optimist. It was a lot of and I can’t wait ‘til next week. Thanks Beth!

Total Cost: $15 when it’s my turn. $0 when it’s someone else’s turn.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

To Warm Up Cold Hands

It’s cold today … and rainy too. I feel absolutely chilled to the bone. I think that means it’s time to start a new crocheting project. What should it be? A scarf? A pot holder? A blanket for my bed? The afghan that I started for Janet two years ago? Whatever it turns out to be, it will be nice to have my hands busy while I watch TV. Crocheting is one of those few activities that requires no brain power but where you can still produce something beautiful and useful. It's the perfect activity for a cold day when you're done thinking.
I've decided. It’ll be a blanket for my bed. (Sorry Janet.)
Total Cost: $4 per skein for the good yarn. $1 per skein for the bad yarn. $0 per skein for the yarn in my Mom’s attic.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Pick Me Up

The other day on Regis and Kelly, Anderson Cooper commented that he does not drink coffee. He said that he finds the best beverage to get him going in the morning is a tall glass of ice water.
I must agree. Every morning, first thing I do is have a tall glass of cold water to get my blood flowing. Yum! Not only do I drink water in the morning, but water has always been my beverage of choice. It is nature’s perfect cocktail, and it goes with everything. Clean. Clear. Crisp. Cool. Free. Water.
Total Cost: $0 for my morning java. (It sure beats the $4.50 for Starbucks’ Venti Mocha Frappuccino.)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Let Me Put It On My List

I love lists. All sorts of lists. Do lists. Shopping lists. Song lists. Wish lists. They’re all great. They help me to organize my life and keep things tidy. So, in that spirit, I have devised a list for this blog. From here on out, I will try to organize my thought on frugality to fit into one or more of the following categories.

* To eat/drink
* To make
* To do
* To see
* To wear
* To buy
* To live-in (housekeeping stuff)
* To read
* To give
* To celebrate
* To appreciate
* To be
Have I left anything out? Please, please let me know if there’s some other category that you think I should include.

Monday, October 19, 2009

What would you do ...

... for a free t-shirt?

I am currently teaching an engineering class, and it has definatly been a challenge. Fun ... but a challenge. I feel like I never have enough time to find activities, buy and prepare supplies, contact speakers, grade papers AND teach my other classes.

There are upsides though. I get to be a part of student ideas, creations, conversations and competitions. PLUS, I get some pretty sweet free stuff. Like the t-shirt I got at the Marquette Celebrates Women in Engineering field trip we took last week. The conference was good and I got some great ideas. Now I can wear the t-shirt with pride.

Total Cost: $0 for t-shirt ... but I had to teach engineering to get it.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Bowl of Popcorn

So. It’s Friday and I am worn out. Absolutely worn out. All I want to do is sit on my bed with a bowl of popcorn and relax. Maybe I’ll watch a movie, or read a book, or do a crossword puzzle, or flip through a magazine, or listen to music, or call a friend. Whatever I do though, it will have to be done while I sit on my bed with a bowl of popcorn.

I feel more relaxed already.

Total Cost: Not even $1 for the popcorn.
(munch, munch, munch)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pay What You Can

Four of my favorite words: pay what you can. The Milwaukee Rep has a pay-what-you-can night for each of their plays. The idea is a great one. For the actors, it’s a full on dress rehersal. For the public, it’s a cheap nights entertainment.
I just barely missed seeing “the Year of Magical Thinking” last night. Boo. Oh well, I’ll read the book and catch the next play for sure!

Total Cost: $5 suggested contribution. (The ticket are $25 at regular price.)