Category Archives: Frugality

I Hate Planned Obsolescence

Published / by Annie / 8 Comments on I Hate Planned Obsolescence

The other day a friend stopped by and announced that he had a surprise in the back seat of his car. Curious, I stepped outside to see what it was.

To my surprise, he had an ancient iMac sitting on his back seat. He explained with a grin that he had been visiting another friend when he saw their neighbors carry it out to the trash.

“I immediately thought of you, so I asked permission to have it,” he explained.

We carried it into the house. It lacked a keyboard and a mouse, but it fortunately still had a power cord, so I connected a spare Windows mouse and keyboard to the machine and plugged it in.

That old dinosaur powered on.

According to my research, this machine (iMac model M5521) came out around the turn of the century, which means that it is almost 20 years old. The hard drive is a bit noisy, the slot loading CD-ROM sticks, but it still works!

The more I played with that old machine the angrier I got. This computer cost someone $999 new. That’s the equivalent of two month’s expenses for me. The thought of someone tossing that much money in the trash just pissed me off, not because they discarded something they no longer needed or used, but because of the fact that this poor machine was obsolete just a few short years after it was purchased.

That’s the way it is with stuff anymore. You purchase a new phone, computer, gadget, outfit, or whatever only to be told it is useless or out of fashion before you’ve hardly managed to break it in, so what do you do? You go out and buy a new one, tossing the old one into a closet or—like this poor old machine—in the trash.

Heck, purchase a new appliance these days and you’ll discover that the lightweight gears and moving parts within the machine will fail within a few short years. Don’t believe me? Go to the store and buy a cheap fan. See how many seasons it will last you before it dies. Next, go to a thrift shop and buy one of those ancient fans with the old cloth-covered power cords. I’ll bet that thing still runs even if it is close to 50 years old. In fact, I happen to know a gentleman who uses an old percolator to make his coffee that is even older than that! He got tired of buying coffee makers every couple of years so he dug out the old percolator his mother used to make her coffee with.

Anyway, back to this computer. After tinkering with it for a while I decided to try an experiment. I’m going to see if I can acquire the parts needed to give this puppy an upgrade and make it useful once again. I want to get it set up with some simple games, configure it for printing, add a word processing program, and let my grandson use it to play and do his homework on.

This isn’t exactly a priority to me so I plan to spend as little as possible. I’m going to ask around for spare parts to upgrade the RAM and search online for a copy of the operating system that I can download and burn to disk. If I get lucky I’ll manage to score a new CMOS battery for it, since the original is long dead.

And piece by piece I am going to turn this ancient machine into something that can be used today, just to prove that it can be done. It won’t be the fastest but that’s not the point. The point is that we spend a fortune on items that manufacturers declare completely useless years before they actually are. We spend hours of our lives each week earning money to buy items like this old computer, only to discard them as worthless a short time later, when in fact, with a little love and a bit of work, they can last longer than Big Business wants us to keep them.

I’ll let you know when I get the old dinosaur running. I will also let you know just how much money I spent turning it into something that can actually be used (paperweight is not an option).

What was the last item you saved from the trash? Please share your stories in the comments below.

To The Simple Living Haters

Published / by Annie / 16 Comments on To The Simple Living Haters

Over the years I have had so many people tell me that I am insane for keeping my bills low and living such a simple life. They have told me that I’m cruel to my daughter by forcing her to live in a small one-bedroom house (despite the fact that she gets the bedroom), and that I am depriving both her and myself of things that we need.

But you know what? Those haters can take a long walk off a short pier. Living a simple, frugal life has saved my ass more times than I can count.

And in recent times it managed to save us from being completely homeless.

As you know, I’ve been unable to work a public job for around two years. But guess what? Thanks to my extremely frugal lifestyle, my books generating passive income, and with help from my friends all of my bills are paid off with the exception of my rent bill (I’m working on that).

And guess what? I’m starting a nice, simple, part time job at a grocery store today. I’m not sure if I can do the work but by golly I am going to try!

The lifestyle that so many have condemned allowed me sufficient time to heal to the point to where I am now able to try working a bit. The lifestyle that so many have declared insane will allow me to work just a few hours a week to keep my bills paid up and continue paying my rent debt down.

The lifestyle that people have declared impractical has once again saved my ass. Literally.

So to all the haters out there who believe that a simple life isn’t worth the effort, you can kiss my behind. This lifestyle has saved me yet again.

I have survived the impossible. Again.

So the next time someone tells you that you shouldn’t reduce your recurring expenses, that you shouldn’t live in a simpler, less expensive home and ditch the fancy stuff, point them to this post.

It is time the world got a wakeup call.

Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale

Published / by Annie / 2 Comments on Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale

Hello Everyone!

Once again I have joined the Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale. To thank you for being such loyal readers, I have listed all of my books at a sizeable discount or for free. You can find a list of my books here.

All you have to do is click on the book you are interested in. When the description page loads, simply choose to purchase it using the sale coupon on the right hand side. While you are there, please check out all of the other books that are on sale as well. You will find a lot of bargains.

Enjoy!

Annie

Cheap Ventilation

Published / by Annie / 8 Comments on Cheap Ventilation

Day by day, my daughter and I are working to recover from the financial blow my injury caused. My daughter has managed to land a part time job at a grocery store and is contributing a portion of her paycheck every week to help with bills. It isn’t a whole lot (they don’t give her many hours, and it only pays minimum wage) but it helps.

In the meantime, I’ve hopefully recovered enough to try some simple part-time work. I’m greatly limited by my limitations (fast food is definitely out of the picture at present) but I’ve submitted some applications at the few places around here that I feel I might be qualified for. Even if I only worked a few hours a week it would help greatly to pay back the money I owe my landlord for back rent.

While I wait, I stay busy writing and working on my skills to improve them for the time when I land a job. I’m busy on another novel for the other pen name I told you about. It’s definitely not high quality reading but if it brings in a little money that is better than none at all.

We’ve resolved to keep our bills as low as possible while we recover financially. For the moment that means that we’ve decided to hold off on installing our little window air conditioner despite the warmth of the days. Instead, we’ve opted for a cheaper solution.

In order to provide ventilation in the house, we open the back door. We latch the screen door and place a small barricade in front of it to deter any potential intruders. While it only stays open during the day while we are awake, the little barrier makes me feel a bit safer. Since our front “screen” door doesn’t actually have a screen, I prop it open with a chair and place a baby gate from my grandson’s younger days across the opening to keep the dogs contained. This combined with the ceiling fan in the living room and a fan in my daughter’s room, allow for a crosscurrent of air to flow through the house.

It’s actually staying rather comfortable in here. I’m honestly surprised. The back porch is shaded due to the trees that surround our back yard, and the covered porch on the front allows some protection from the heat of the sun in the afternoons so the breeze that flows through the house is a comfortable temperature.

To keep even cooler I’ve shifted my primary hangout from the kitchen to the living room. That way we don’t have to invest in another fan. It stays darker in the living room, which also keeps it cooler in here. Considering that we’ve congregated in the kitchen almost since the first day we moved in here, this room is getting used more than it ever has. I’m sure that my poor kitchen is feeling neglected as a result.

Once it gets late enough that I feel uncomfortable, I shut and lock the doors. An open window in the living room and another in the bathroom allow for a smaller (but no less effective) breeze through the home while we sleep.

It’s a bit noisier at night with the windows cracked but that’s better than roasting, though usually before the night is over I shut both windows to hold in the cool air. This house is nicely insulated so the method is quite effective.

The next day we repeat the process, starting with opening the doors. Once I feel more comfortable with our finances I will install the air conditioner.

What are you doing to reduce your energy expenses? Please share your stories in the comments below.

If you would like to learn about more ways to save money, check out my book The Shoestring Girl: How I Live On Practically Nothing and You Can Tooavailable at the following retailers.

The Improvised Pitcher

Published / by Annie / 2 Comments on The Improvised Pitcher

The other day a friend of mine passed along three bottles of concentrated Cranberry Juice cocktail. I hadn’t had any in ages so I dug through my cabinets in search of something small enough to mix it in that would fit in my refrigerator. To my dismay I didn’t have anything. The only pitcher I had was a bit too big to fit in my fridge along with the other contents.

Disappointed, I placed the bottles in my pantry. I would wait until I used down the supplies in my refrigerator to make a batch, I told myself.

The next day I went over to have a cup of coffee with my neighbors. As I was finishing up my cup, one of the kids reached into their fridge, pulled out a two-liter, and poured the remaining contents into a glass.

My cheapskate mind started jumping in happiness. I had a spot on my refrigerator door that was just big enough to hold that bottle.

“Hey, can I have that empty bottle?” I asked as they went to put it in the trash.

“Uh, sure. What are you going to do with it?”

“I’m going to use it as a pitcher,” I responded.

“Go for it.” My friend handed me the empty bottle.

I took it home, washed it out, and carefully poured the contents of the concentrate into the bottle. I added water, mixed it up, and squeezed it into the one empty spot in my tiny fridge.

I am now enjoying a nice cold glass of cranberry juice cocktail, courtesy of improvisation.

Refreshment never tasted so nice.

When was the last time you improvised to meet a need? Please share your stories in the comments below.

The Best Solution is Often the Cheapest

Published / by Annie / 10 Comments on The Best Solution is Often the Cheapest

In today’s society we are taught that the best solutions are the most expensive. We buy the high-end phones, the expensive computers, luxury cars, high-end appliances, and many other items and services based on the logic that it must be wonderful if it costs so much.

I’m as guilty of this as the next person. In my hunger for knowledge, I have paid hundreds of dollars for information products that ended up being worth less than the paper it cost to print the crap. I’ve bought high-end computers (my other primary weakness) only to discover that in a year or so they were falling apart (compared to the cheap old laptop I purchased on sale back in 2006 that is still going), and many more items that I can think of counting.

Learning a lesson from this, when I faced a recent difficulty I decided to look at what I needed instead of what society said I should buy. My male cats had decided to rebel against the small but expensive litterboxes I purchased when they were kittens. They got tired of only being able to stick a portion of their bodies in the box to do their business so they started going beside the box.

Talk about a mess! I scooped, I cleaned, I did every trick I could think of, only to have those stupid critters glare at me balefully as they stubbornly did their business with the wrong end inside of their litterbox.

I searched online for a better solution and winced at the prices. Not a single litterbox was large enough for my needs, yet every single one of them cost a small fortune. The higher the price point, the greater the argument that this box would solve my problem.

I stepped back from the problem for a few days to consider. What did I really need? Ideally, I needed a box that was large enough for my cats to fit inside with sides that were high enough to minimize scattered litter. I didn’t care if it was pretty or expensive; I just wanted something that would work.

My eureka moment came when my grandson came over to visit. He marched over to his toybox, reached in, and started pulling out toys to play with. It dawned on me that a similar-sized tote, sans lid, was considerably larger than commercial litterboxes. The sides were high enough to prevent scattering litter, even if I gave them a nice deep pile of litter to do their business in.

I didn’t want to spend the extra money on what constituted an experiment on my part (I wasn’t sure the cats would like having to hop into the thing), so I started asking my friends to scrounge me up an old storage container that was missing a lid.

One of my friends came through. I found myself the proud owner of a grungy old Rubbermaid tote that had been destined for the trash. I cleaned it out, filled it with litter, and placed it beside their regular litterbox. I scooped up the cats one by one and placed them in the container to let them know “hey stupid, here’s a new litterbox for you to try” and then waited.

I woke up the next morning to discover that both cats had visited the new box. In fact, one of my cats made a point of visiting the new one as I scooped both boxes out! In a few days I plan to switch the cats over to the new box entirely, clean out their old litterboxes and either sell or donate the old ones to the local animal rescue.

This just goes to show that the best solution is not always the most expensive. I solved my problem without spending a penny. I love it when I can make the Gods of Consumerism cry. Every time I solve an issue without spending money, I feel like I’m giving Big Business the middle finger, so I do it as often as I can.

What was the last problem you solved by getting creative? Please share your stories in the comments below.

The True Cost of Stuff

Published / by Annie / 4 Comments on The True Cost of Stuff

My daughter Katie finally saved up the money to purchase her very first cell phone. She will be paying for the service out of her own pocket since she now has a part-time job.

When she told me how much the phone cost, I was struck by how much of her life she had to spend working in order to earn the money to pay for it. She worked an equivalent of two weeks to buy the phone and pay for the first month of service. It will cost her ½ of a week’s pay every month to pay for the service.

I asked her if the phone was worth losing two weeks’ of her life working in order to pay for it. Katie gave me a blank look before regaling me with how wonderful her new gadget was.

That made me realize that most people have no concept of the amount of time they sacrifice from their lives in order to pay for things.

For instance, say you decide to purchase a new computer. You want a nice one so you select a model that costs $1,000. If you are on minimum wage ($7.25 in this area), that means you have to work full-time for a month to buy the device.

If you decide to buy a new car for $20,000 (I’m just picking a random price here), you would have to work 20 months just to pay off the base price, not including taxes and interest if you finance it!

Calculate Before You Buy

Before you purchase an item, calculate just how much of your life you have to sacrifice to a job in order to pay for it then ask yourself: Is this item worth so much of my life?

If it is, you’re good to go. Buy that whatsit and have fun.

But if it’s not, save your money. Remember, the less stuff you buy, the less you have to earn to pay for it. Also, remember that there might be a less expensive way for you to get what you need/want. For instance, if you want to own your own car, instead of purchasing a newer one that you have to finance, take the down payment and buy an older vehicle outright. You will have transportation at a fraction of the cost—without having to worry about a monthly payment.

If you want to own a home, consider purchasing a smaller, older, simpler home instead of that fancy one the realtor shows you. I have personally purchased older mobile homes on a rented lot for less than $2,000—one time I even purchased one for $100 and some furniture taken in trade! Some mobile homes and older houses in the country can be purchased for $10,000 or less if you look and are patient. You could purchase one of these, live in it, and save the difference that you would normally pay in rent to buy something better. Once you buy a better place, you could sell the first place (saving the money if you want to upgrade again) or rent it out for extra income.

If you practice this method of thinking before you buy, you will end up saving a LOT of money over time. You can either put that money away or decide to regain some of your life by working less.

I discuss this and other ways of saving money in the book The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, available in print and ebook at many fine retailers.

Fun and Games Shoestring Style

Published / by Annie / 3 Comments on Fun and Games Shoestring Style

My daughter and I haven’t owned a Monopoly game since our last one bit the dust in a horrible accident. We missed it but such is life.

We struck gold the other day, however. Sitting on the top of a trash can was a Monopoly box. We snatched it up and brought it home to discover that only a few of the pieces were missing. We gathered up some of the stuff we had managed to save from our old game and created the items we still needed using pieces of paper and whatnot, then sat down and started playing.

We had a blast! Hopefully we will be able to scrounge the cards we’re missing over time, but until then the game is playable. We just have to remember that giving an IOU for rent when just two people are playing doesn’t work out so well. We kept passing that ticket instead of one of us giving up until we finally called a draw. It was fun, though!

Have you ever scrounged or created something you could use by just piecing it together from scraps? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Old Computers

Published / by Annie / 3 Comments on Old Computers

I have a confession to make. I really, really love computers. In my heyday when money was flush it was common for me to purchase at least one new system a year. One year I would purchase a new desktop, the next I would buy a new laptop. If a new version of Windows came out or a computer with an operating system that I wanted to try entered the market I would buy even more.

These past few years of being financially strapped put a stop to that. The last new computer I purchased was around 2015 when I sold my van and even that computer is long gone due to finances. At first I was upset about it but then I realized something:

Computers haven’t really changed much over the past decade.

The other day I found myself at Wal-Mart with some time to kill while my ride did their thing. I wandered into the computer section to check out the latest specs and drool. To my surprise, there was nothing to drool over. The computers being offered didn’t have any better specs than the ancient machines I already had at home. The only difference was the operating system.

In fact, the computer I use the most these days is an 11-year old Toshiba laptop that runs Windows XP. I don’t even take it online. I use it to play music, read the occasional book, and write. I connected an adapter to it in order to have sound (the speakers on it are shot), an external keyboard to type (since the keyboard is shot as well), and a nice large monitor that I traded for years ago and kept for troubleshooting purposes. It is an ancient piece of shit but it still works and does what I need.

While I do have another computer that I use to access the Internet (2011 laptop running Ubuntu Linux), I have realized that I no longer need to purchase new computers. In fact, the refurbished business computers available these days are actually more powerful than the newer systems and they cost a lot less. As an example of this, here is a link to the refurbished desktop I have on my private wish list. It runs Windows XP, which is what I want, but if for some reason my other laptop decided to die I would invest in one of these and install Linux on it to have a nice, powerful system minus the constant nagging from Microsoft to buy this or update that.

If you have any older computers in your home instead of buying a new one I urge you to consider using the ones you currently own. If it was manufactured during the last decade, chances are that it is more than enough to meet your needs. If the operating system is out of date (and you need to take it online) install one of the many wonderful versions of Linux out there or get a friend to do it for you. You might want to upgrade the RAM (commonly called memory) on your system, but that’s a lot cheaper than buying a new system.

If you have an older laptop with a busted screen or a failing keyboard, connect external devices to it and convert it into a desktop system. That’s what I’ve done with this ancient Toshiba and it serves my needs perfectly well.

In other words, stop buying crap you don’t need when something you have works perfectly well. Stop giving the corporations your money when you don’t absolutely have to. They’re not out to improve your life…they just want to improve their bottom line. They could care less about you.

What one thing do you have now that you could continue using that you’ve been thinking of replacing? Please share your stories in the comments below. And if this post has made you think, please share it with others. Thank you.

Clothing

Published / by Annie / 5 Comments on Clothing

I have a confession to make. With the exception of my panties, every single piece of clothing that I am currently wearing was either gifted to me secondhand or thrifted.

My tee shirt was a handmedown from my daughter Katie when she became sick of it. The button-down shirt I’ve layered on top of it was purchased at the local clothing closet during one of their sales, where you can purchase a whole bag of clothing for a dollar. I bought the jeans I’m wearing at the same time as the shirt. My flip flops were originally gifted to my youngest from my middle daughter then later passed down to me.

You wouldn’t know it if you passed me on the street. I am clean and everything is in good condition. While I may not be dressed in the fanciest items, that is by choice and not by necessity. You can get some really fancy clothes at a thrift shop if you know how to look. In fact, I have a leather jacket that looked practically brand new when I stuffed it in my bag at the same sale where I purchased my jeans and the button-down top, which means I paid less than a dollar for it.

Of course, companies don’t like it when you do this. They want you to spend your hard-earned cash buying new stuff. They’re even selling clothing that looks ragged and filthy for hundreds of dollars these days, clothing that looks so nasty that I wouldn’t be caught dead in it unless I had spent the day digging a ditch!

So before you visit your local mall I urge you to hit the yard sales and thrift shops in your area. Instead of buying new I encourage you to look through your closet and use something you own already.

And above all, I urge you to stop spending cash to buy something you don’t absolutely need.

Where did you acquire the clothing you are currently wearing? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Consumerism has Gone Too Far

Published / by Annie / 10 Comments on Consumerism has Gone Too Far

The other day I discovered that there is a new fashion piece that has taken over the Internet. It is a pair of jeans with a piece of transparent plastic at the knees. Here’s a photo of them:

This is a prime example of how businesses are deliberately creating things that encourage us to spend our hard-earned money to purchase things we don’t need.

Think about it: exactly what purpose do these pants serve? Reviews say that the plastic causes your legs to sweat, sticking to your knees and becoming physically uncomfortable over time. The plastic is too high up on the leg to be useful as a knee guard for those who like to garden, so they aren’t very useful to protect your pants from stains in situations where you need to work on your knees. Considering the lack of comfort, you would definitely be better served by using an old, stained pair of pants that you already own if that’s the reason you want them.

If the purpose is purely cosmetic, purely fashion…why are you so shallow? Do you actually think anybody really cares what type of clothing you wear?

Now let’s be honest: why were these pants really created? They were created as a gimmick. People aren’t buying as many pants or whatever so the designers decided to create something controversial to spur their sales. Every time you purchase these pants or something similar you are encouraging them to market more stupid stuff to reel people in.

Stop it. Just stop buying this crap!

Seriously, how many pairs of pants do you need? How many shirts, or shoes, or underclothes do you need? I’m willing to bet that you’ve got enough clothes in your closet, right now, that would allow you to wear a completely different outfit every day for several weeks, if not longer.

You don’t need new clothes any more than you need a new car or a new television or a new computer or a new phone. What you’ve got already does the job, so stop it! Use what you’ve got already and stop giving these assholes your money. Save that money or use it for something you really need.

Until we stop encouraging these idiots they are going to continue creating artifical needs, they are going to keep designing ridiculous products in an attempt to keep us roped into working two jobs, taking extra overtime, and running up credit card debt. Do you think these businesses give a damn about you? Hell no! All they want is your money. All they want to do is keep you trapped in wage slavery until you fall down and die. Then they will focus their market on the next generation.

So stop it. Just stop. Don’t you dare let them win.

High School Parents: Beware of the C3 Scam

Published / by Annie / 1 Comment on High School Parents: Beware of the C3 Scam

The other day my daughter received a letter in the mail informing her that she was selected to attend a special workshop to help her receive financial aid for college. Considering that I’m scrounging around for enough money to keep our water from being shut off today, I had her there with bells on.

Come to find out, this was just a ploy. They were marketing a service for $2,000 that would tell us what we need to do (like completing the FAFSA and study for the ACT).

My first warning sign was when they started talking about their service. My head popped up because in the letter it was indicated that the basic financial aid help was free.

The second sign that something was up was when they po-pooed the fact that my daughter has already received one scholarship plus money from the state due to her grades.

“We go after the big money,” they told us.

The third sign that something was off was when the “counselor” didn’t know an important fact about taking the ACT.

The straw that broke my back was when they told us we either had to shell out this money now or my daughter would never be able to go to college because open enrollment ended the next day.

This wasn’t my first rodeo when it comes to folks like this so after I refused we went home and looked them up. Even the Better Business Bureau is warning people about these folks. Complaints ranged from not doing what they said they would to refusing to accept their cancellations. One person reported that this company was taking money from their mother’s account two and three times a month despite the fact that the service had been cancelled (sorry, I misplaced the link on that one).

Even more interesting, my daughter went online and promptly found a number of websites that do the exact same thing that they claim to do for FREE.

So if you happen to get a letter from this company, I advise you to toss it in the trash.

The New Shoestring Girl is now LIVE on Smashwords

Published / by Annie

Hello everyone!

Guess what? As soon as I started working in a program I remembered well from before I was hurt I managed to get this book properly formatted on the very first try!

It is now live on Smashwords here, and will be coming to Amazon, Apple, and other retailers soon.

I will let you know  just as soon as other retailers begin listing it; you can keep up to date on my Facebook page and the sales page here on Annienygma.

Thank you so much for your support!

My New Writing Setup

Published / by Annie / 2 Comments on My New Writing Setup

In yesterday’s post I mentioned that I was dedicating my old XP to writing, so today I figured that I would talk about my setup.

My computer is really old. In the 11 years that I’ve had it the battery has died and the speakers have started failing. It is currently on its third keyboard, and even that is starting to fail. At one point I even had to replace the processor fan when it died. Even with all of that the poor thing is still ticking, though I’ve created a few workarounds.

I hooked up an external keyboard to solve the typing glitches, added an external mouse because the buttons on my touchpad tend to act up, and then tossed in an old monitor that I’ve had for years. As a result I’ve created a dual monitor desktop system out of this ancient laptop. That allows me to have two files on full screen, which makes working a lot easier.

Here is a picture of my setup:

Even better; I worked this up using stuff I already had. It literally didn’t cost me a penny! I set up an old folding table in my kitchen (my favorite room for writing) so now I even have a dedicated writing spot. I’m hoping that this new setup makes me more productive.

On another note, now that I’ve got my issues fixed I’ve been making steady progress when it comes to formatting the new Shoestring Girl for ebook format. Hopefully it will be finished soon so that I can move on to my next project.

The Shoestring Book is now in Print

Published / by Annie / 4 Comments on The Shoestring Book is now in Print

Amazingly, CreateSpace worked really fast; my book is already available for sale in print!

You can find it on Amazon and CreateSpace.

Katie and I are working as fast as we can on the ebook; I made a newbie mistake when I was creating it that has forced me to completely reformat it so that it will look right. Right now we’re taking turns doing this page by page. As soon as it is published I will let you know. We’ve got over 400 pages to reformat so this is going to take a little while, I’m afraid.

 

The New Shoestring Girl Book is Almost Ready!

Published / by Annie / 4 Comments on The New Shoestring Girl Book is Almost Ready!

Hello Everybody!

I am exhausted. I’ve been working at this non-stop since I last posted. In the end I had to get Katie to help because for the life of me I couldn’t figure out how to do some things with the formatting and I needed fresh eyes and a healthy mind to help review this 400 page monster.

But we did it!!!

The book cover

Right now I am in the process of uploading the print version of this book to CreateSpace to get it published. Once that is finished I will work on formatting this sucker for ebook format.

To thank you for all of your help and support I want to give you the PDF copy of the book for free. It isn’t much, but I want to pay forward all of the kindness and support you have given me. Please feel free to pass it around to your friends – and if you know of any bloggers who would be interested in it, please send it to them as well.

You can download the book here. Just right-click and select “Save As” to download it to your computer. (This link has now been removed since it is now available in ebook format. You can purchase it here.)

If you don’t mind, would you mind leaving an honest review about the book somewhere when it is published? Reviews are like gold to authors cause they are what help us get noticed. Heck, just telling your friends about us helps more than you can imagine!

Anyway, I won’t keep this PDF file up forever; I plan to remove it once I get the book published in ebook format at the very least, so grab it while you can and share the love.

Oh – I will let you know when the book goes live.

Thank you. Thank you for everything!

Love, Annie

How I Survived Several Years Without Running Water

Published / by Annie / 5 Comments on How I Survived Several Years Without Running Water

In today’s modern age water is usually only a handle turn away. As a result it is usually taken for granted. But what would you do if that flow of water ever stopped?

Once, a long time ago, it did for me. This is how I survived.

After finding myself an unwed mother I really hated myself. I had failed in the one thing that I was raised that females were to provide: A loving father and family for her young.

So I dated, thinking to correct that issue. I decided to go shopping for a father for my daughter.

After a time I thought I had found him: A man who seemed like an industrious person, down on his luck but willing to sacrifice to come out on top. Being no stranger to sacrifice and knowing how hard it is to find someone with the strength to do without and struggle in pursuit of a greater goal convinced me that he was “the one.”

I was wrong and he was a lie, but by the time I realized this we were already married and I was stuck; forced to live in a house without basic utilities like running water and sewage I decided to make do.

At first we used a bucket instead of a commode, and when it would fill up my husband would carry it outside at night and return some time later with it empty. I do not know what he did with the wastes but if there was a compost pile he used – I never saw it, and I do not want to know.

Within a few months we dug a large pit into the earth, and I watched as my husband added gravel to the bottom of the pit, poked holes in an old metal barrel, and covered it up. We now had a septic system, and were able to use the drains in the sinks and the commode he obtained from unknown sources.

Water at first came from the homes of friends and family until time and distance removed that option and I became too embarrassed about my living conditions to ask other people. By this time most suspected I was in an abusive relationship, and it hurt to listen to the countless lectures on what I should do with my life. I became a recluse, and started getting water from a local gas station, carrying it home in re-purposed cooking oil containers given to me by a local restaurant.

Dishes were washed in hot water, by hand, in two plastic containers, but I digress. First all I had to wash in was a couple of large bowls, and everything was either dried by hand or placed on clean towels until it air-dried until I obtained a dish drainer.

Bathing was primarily sponge baths, done in cool water in summer and water heated on the stove in winter. Eventually the children and I would take baths in an oversized Rubbermaid storage container, pretending it was a bathtub. Every opportunity to bathe at friends houses was accepted graciously until the lectures became too much to bear.

As the years passed I would ask my husband when the oft-promised water meter was going to be dropped, volunteering to do whatever needed to be done to hurry things up. “You already have running water dear,” my husband would sneer. “Now run to town and get some!”

Eventually flood damage caused our last source of easily available water to close and I was desperate for a solution. Grasping for an idea – any idea, my eyes fell upon the creek just yards away from the back door of the house. I thought in desperation – why not?

Bucket by bucket I would carry that water into the home, and its unlimited supply enabled me to keep things so much cleaner that I would thank God for the wonderful bounty of that little creek. All water would be boiled before being used for washing with a little bleach added to the rinse water, just in case. I refused to take any chances.

One day I decided to use that water in our old washing machine since we had no money for the Laundromat. Bucket after bucket I carried that day, first filling up the tub to wash and then again to rinse load after load of laundry. I was delighted at my industriousness, ignoring the blisters on my hands, thinking of how proud my husband would be that I had not begged for money to go to the Laundromat but had instead managed to care for our laundry needs at home. I lost track of time, however, so when husband came home his dinner was not ready. He was not impressed.

My next door neighbor sensed my plight; a few weeks later he caught me outside with my buckets and volunteered his small sump pump for my use. Gratefully I accepted the small device, rigged up enough extension cords to cover the span, and as the pump was not strong enough to push water all the way to the house created a holding area halfway between with re-purposed trash cans. It was a slow process but my daughters and I were delighted. It was the closest we had been to running water in years.

Eventually my husband gifted me with a sump pump of my very own, one powerful enough to reach all the way to the back door with a trickle of water, and I felt like a queen. I could easily wash laundry during the day, though the trickle of water meant that it took a long time for the laundry tub to fill up.

Drinking water was purchased at the store after beginning to use the creek.

I had given up asking about the water meter when one day there was a knock on my back door. A man from the water company was outside, where did I want this meter?

Oh, happy day!

 

Cheap Rent: Man lives in storage locker for two months

Published / by Annie / 3 Comments on Cheap Rent: Man lives in storage locker for two months

Talk about cheap rent! Here’s a video about a man who actually lived in a storage locker for two months!

This is actually doable; I know a family who lived in a storage building for several months after a job loss caused them to get evicted. I wouldn’t want to do that around here when the weather was cold; my friends did this back during the summer a few years back.

Enjoy!


How to Tenderize Meat Without a Gadget

Published / by Annie / 3 Comments on How to Tenderize Meat Without a Gadget

This is one of the earlier posts that has been salvaged.  It was originally posted on September 24, 2009.

Meat tenderizer

If you have ever dealt with a tough piece of meat, you know it can be frustrating. The temptation is high to buy that hammer especially designed to tenderize that piece.

You don’t have to. In fact, you already have something in your kitchen that will tenderize that cut of meat just as well as a mallet. It’s called a plate.

Yes, the average run-of-the-mill ceramic plate. Turn it on it’s side and it becomes the perfect weapon against meat toughness!

I sprinkle my meat with a bit of tenderizer on each side before tapping it multiple times with the side of one of my plates. In the picture I use a saucer cause it’s smaller and easier for me to manage, but any type of plate or saucer will do, provided it’s solid and not plastic or paper. Then again, some of the more solid plastic plates may work as well!

Just whack on that tough piece of meat with the edge of a plate until you think it is good and tender all over. I enjoy taking out any frustrations so mine get beat up pretty bad, flipping mine over a couple of times just to make sure I’m done!

Remember whenever you think you need a new gadget – you may have something already at home that will already do the job, sometimes even better than that shiny new thingy at the store. One less thing cluttering up your drawers, and a bit more money in your pocket!

Enjoy!

How to Eat Your Christmas Tree

Published / by Annie

Okay, folks, time to recycle that tall piece of greenery you have stuck in the corner of your living room. While most of us just toss it out with the trash, did you know that you could actually eat it?

I’m serious, you really can.

I’ve known for a while that you can actually eat pine trees. In fact, you should never starve if you are stuck in a forest with pine because seriously, the trees! Eat them!

From what I understand in ages past pine trees were called the feast of kings because when kings would go out with their armies to invade other lands they allegedly relied on these trees to feed themselves and their armies even when there was meat around (I guess to supplement the meat).

Now I’m not sure about the legend but if you’re hungry and you’ve got a tree that you’re about to toss in the trash, why not try it? Can’t hurt.

Here is the link to eating pine trees: http://tacticalintelligence.net/blog/how-to-eat-a-pine-tree.htm.

And last but not least here is a link specifically aimed at teaching you how to eat that Christmas tree instead of tossing it away: http://wholefedhomestead.com/how-to-eat-your-christmas-tree/.

Enjoy!