Monday, March 16, 2009

A Weekend of DIY (Do it Yourself)

I was not bored this weekend. I was busily working away indoors while Houston received over half of our missing eight inches of rainfall in just three days. When it rains here at my small apartment complex, I have to hold off of the laundry. That's because the sewer drains get so full of water that the water backs up into my second bathroom, therefore rendering my laundry room useless.

This frugalista had two projects, one that popped up suddenly, the last of my four (albeit cheap) watches went kuput. The second project involved my vacuum cleaner literally blowing up in my face while trying to vaccum up kitty litter a couple of weekends ago.

The internet is great! How did I ever live without it before? Possibly the public library? I performed a Google search on "How to change a watch battery" and found all the details. I had to buy a few tools that my kiddo had misplaced from my powder puff toolbox. Some new needle nose pliers ($5.00 @ Target), two sets of eyeglass kits (for those small little screwdrivers ($4.00 @ Walgreens), and four watch batteries ($14.00 total @ Walgreens) saved me approximately $25.00, compared to the price of taking all four watches to the local mall. The service would have been $12.00 per watch for a total of $48.00. These days $25.00 savings is a windfall!

My other project, the vacuum cleaner, was nasty as usual. My vacuum cleaner gets gunked up with black dirt from outside and the teenager grease of tennis shoes. I took the vacuum totally apart and as many non-electrical parts as possible got a laundry detergent bath and a good hard scrubbing. This morning everything is nice and clean and ready to be put back together tonight, including taking the time to replace the vacuum cleaner belt. The secret to getting this type of project done? Take your time and remember what goes where. The cost of my project? $4.00 for vacuum cleaner belts (2/pack) and $1.00 (2/pack) for vacuum cleaner bags.

Who says you have to be bored in a difficult economy?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Financial Rescue/Bailout?

I've been paying a great deal of attention to the news lately. Between the presidential debates and the "financial rescue", I'm almost news saturated. What irks me about the financial bailout are the foolish people that we are bailing out. Although I have great respect for V.P. candidate Sarah Palin, she made a comment Thursday night during the debates that the people we are bailing out are "financial victims". Baloney!

Buying a $500,000 home on an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) when you can only afford a $100,000 home at a flat rate mortgage does not prove stupidity, yet it does mean that you might have low self esteem and feel the need to compete with the neighbors. Charging up all of your credit cards and living beyond your means will hit you hard during the next few years. You have a good chance of losing it all.

For the last 10 years, I've lived on nothing more than the money I make and what we can afford. I do admit to having two lines of for the car which is a necessity to living in Houston; and, another one for the heavy duty washer/dryers that I NEED for day to day living. That's it!

What we can't afford, we don't buy. Sometimes it hurts to the point that I want to cry. We all want the best for our children. Right now, $60.00 high school yearbooks and $100.00/month guitar lessons have been cut out of the home budget. I would love to go out and buy the best film-making equipment for my son's class projects, yet what would I be teaching him in the end? Mom's an endless source of money and I'm going to live with her forever?

Hopefully I am teaching my son to live on what he makes and that saving makes sense. Also, maybe I can prompt him into growing up and getting a job, and finally getting brave enough to take driving lessons?

And, we're starting to rethink college. My son is already saying he wants to spend his first two years at the local community college. With this mom's frayed nerves and just trying to make ends meet by breaking the glass salary barrier, I'm almost nodding my head "yes" in agreement with him.

The media says that we're in for approximately 3 years of high inflation in order to pay for the bailout. I will be going back to the ways of the recession of twenty years the grocery sales, taking my calculator to the grocery store, buying only what we need, and becoming a fanatical couponer.

By the way, check out some of the various blog sites on couponing. You'll find lots of good tips, including one lady and her fan club who give you real examples of how they spend $2.00 or less by shopping the weekly bargains at CVS. Nothing like buying something for little or nothing!

Take care of you and yours...Terre

Saturday, August 2, 2008

$3.00 Pot Roast

$3.00 Pot Roast? Yes, believe it or not, I have been able to get some high quality meats at my local Randall's store, courtesy of their discount section. In Houston, at least on the far left side of the Randall's (grocery) meat case, there is a section containing meat that needs to be immediately cooked, or in my case frozen.

Last week while perfoming my taxi cab duties for my teen's film shoot, I grabbed four packages of meat (ground beef, chicken, pork and beef fajita) in 1 lb. packages for a grand total of $5.90. This will feed my household of two, anywhere from 4 to 8 meals.

Yesterday, I made a pot roast in the crock pot. My base was a package of onion dip mix (onion soup mix works well, too), with 1" of water. I turned the pot on high and put the frozen meat into the pot. After turning the meat a couple of times at the 1 and 2 hour marks, I finally added diced potatoes and carrots to the mix at the 3 hour mark. The result? Two hours later after returning from another teen taxi cab run, our delicious dinner is waiting for us. There were no leftovers last night, although the beef and onion broth (sans the fat ladeled out) will make for a good pot of soup later.

Do you have frugal recipe ideas? Please feel free to post and share, or send me your blog links.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Tired, and Mom's in the hospital again

It was another long week. Mom went back into the hospital on Tuesday morning, with initial signs of a heart attack, but we learned her diagnosis was Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) and once again, MRSA.

We hope she will be out of the hospital tomorrow. This caregiver is cross-eyed, and I've been resting all weekend. I'm praying for a quiet week.

Take care,

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Medical and elderly care - keep an eye on your loved one

Thank you for your Mom's arm finally healed, she cleared her MRSA infection, and finally she is back into her right mind, at least on a semi-daily basis. With dementia and/or Alzheimer's this is as good as it gets.

One area of concern for all of us in the sandwich generation (those of us caring for our children and caring for our parents) sure and keep up with a loved one's Standard of Care while in a hospital or nursing facility. Luckily, I worked in a large cardiac unit in Houston in my early career. Even though I was working in one of the best medical facilities in the country, I can tell you that it is extremely important to keep track of your relatives when they are in the hospital.

If possible, obtain a private room with an extra bed and rotate with your spouse, partner, relatives, or friends to keep an eye on your loved one. At a minimum, make sure someone is checking in on your loved one at least once a day and is visiting for at least one hour during lunch or dinner. It is usually during this time that the nurses are making rounds with medications. You can usually get an update from the nurse, and observe whether or not your loved one is receiving skilled care, getting enough pain medicine, and eating properly.

It's important to be an advocate for the patient, mainly because hospitals are so short-staffed these days. In the old days we had one Registered Nurse (RN), one Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN), and one nurse assistant (CNA) stationed for 15 cardiac patients. These days, you are lucky if your nurse is an LVN and you have a CNA as a back up.

Now Mom is back in her nursing home for a temporary stay, until we can get her moved back into her regular assisted living apartment. The Standard of Care she is getting in the nursing home is much lower than that she received in the hospital. I observe many nursing assistants (CNAs) and nursing students in this environment.

The bottom matter what the age of the patient, it helps to have someone else around to keep an eye on care.

Stay well, enjoy the moment, and pray for the best. Terre

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Still doing hospital visits

It's almost 3 weeks later and my household is still making daily and semi-daily runs to the hospital. I am fortunate because the hospital is on my route to/from work, and I can run lots of errands on my way home. I feel like I am on auto pilot at this point.

It has been difficult to run a frugal household while having a sick loved one in the hospital. One thing I have discovered, the hospital volunteer shop is cheaper on snacks than the hospital cafeteria, and cheaper than the vending machines. I came out with 2 bags of Chex snacks and a bottle of water for $1.72. I know I would have paid at least $3.00 anywhere else, so it pays to have an open mind.

My grocery bill has been higher due to buying convenience foods. We don't always give in to eating fast food, although my waistline says "time to give it up". Last weekend, I bought lots of veggies for myself - easy to microwave and nutrition packed yams, potatoes and acorn squash. Also, I've been able to catch some of the lower salt microwave meals at $2.50/item, which is also much cheaper than eating out.

Anyway, say a prayer for my family. We've still got a long healing process for two family members during the next few weeks.

Take care,

Thursday, February 28, 2008

MRSA strikes again

Welcome again to my favorite medical subject...

MRSA - Methicillin Resistant Staphyloccus Aureus - i.e. staph infectection - it's struck my family again, luckily not my own household. Mama is 67 years old and suffers from dementia/Alzheimer's in addition to a host of other medical problems. Apparently, not only is MRSA common to hospitals and locker rooms, it also thrives among people who are in close contact with one another such as an assisted living retirement community.

Mama broke her arm two weeks ago. One of the first things the E.R. discovered when they started testing her last week was that MRSA had started colonizing in her nose. When I arrived to the hospital at noontime Friday, the nurses were frantically trying to get her bed moved so that she could be put into a private room and have her put into an isolation type setting. At her door you'll find a green label attached to a cabinet, mentioning the barrier precautions one needs to take...this include good hand washing, donning rubber gloves, wearing a plastic protective gown, and putting a mask over your nose and mouth.

As I have assisted with ice chips, drinks, meals and keeping her covered up, I have been extra cautious not to touch my skin or face with the rubber gloves. I don't even eat, drink or use the restroom when I'm in her room. I'll take a break, sanitize my hands thoroughly and take my meal either in the hospital cafe or at a nearby restaurant. When I get home, the clothes hit the washing machine in hot water almost immediately.

I.V. Vancomycin and nasal swabs of Bactroban have been the drugs of choice. We're six days into this and she's still not out of isolation yet. So, when you visit the hospital and see green and white signs about MRSA, take it seriously, use the sanitary foam and take all the precautions you need. Oh, and if you can, leave your kids at home - they don't need to catch this stuff.

Here's to being healthy...Terre