• Saving money is where it’s at, right? All easier said than done for me, but here is one little item that was surprisingly easy.

    Let’s talk cheese. I love cheese. Lots of cheese. I wear the server out if we go to Olive Garden having them put cheese on all my food. It may be the downfall of any diet I ever decide to do. After all, the perfect bedtime snack is two slices of American cheese. I also have a special place in my tummy for ricotta cheese. Particularly large with amounts in lasagna.

    Have you seen the prices of ricotta lately? Depending on the brand, $5 to $8 are the ranges in price for a 32 oz container, about the size needed for a pan of lasagna. What if I told you that you can make it for around the price of a gallon of milk or less? All you need is some time, around a half-hour, half a gallon of milk and you have fresh ricotta.

    I am not going to post the recipe, I will post a link to the recipe I used at the bottom of this post. I find righting recipes cumbersome and better left to others. I will tell you about my experience using the recipe, which can always be an adventure!

    I made two batches of the recipe. I learned a few things along the way.

    I started with whole milk. You need to have milk with some fat in it. This is not a recipe that you will use skim or even 2%. Fat is where it is at.

    When you follow the recipe in the link, make sure not to boil your milk. You will want to use a thermometer. Trust me, a small investment in a thermometer goes a long way in the kitchen. I did buy my thermometer from Amazon here as a Christmas present to myself. (affiliate link) You want your milk to reach around 185°F.

    Here is the important thing I learned. I added my lemon juice from a bottle of squeezed juice. The bottled juice is great for making mixed drinks but I am not sure about making ricotta. You need an acid to help produce the curds in ricotta.

    I was not thinking when I did my first batch. I added the 3 tablespoons of lemon juice as directed. My milk started to form a bit of curd, but not as much as there should have been. You will see lumps, curds form and a clear liquid start to separate. That clear liquid is called whey. I wasted close to a half gallon before a bit of research led me to realize that my lemon juice was not acidic enough!

    I tried a second batch. This time I added a bit more lemon juice. More curds started to form but still, not as much as they should have been. I added more lemon juice. That did the trick. What I realized is my lemon juice was not that acidic maybe from sitting in the fridge too long. In the end, being I had to double the amount of lemon juice usually used in the recipe, it had a slight lemon taste to the finished product. We aren’t talking lemon pie, pucker your mouth strong, but it was distinctive when eating alone.

    The wonderful thing was I had the amount needed to make my lasagna after my learning curve. Even with the messing up, the ricotta was delicious. Creamy and fresh tasting. I baked that lasagna, took a few bits and you couldn’t taste the lemon a bit.

    I also have learned about cheesecloth. Dan never realizes what cheesecloth is for and ends up either throwing it away or putting it in some obscure place. Some dark corner, looking like a mummy lost part of its uniform. Cheesecloth has its place, but I have learned that mesh laundry bags (affiliate link) folded over a few times, clean of course, work remarkably well for things such as draining the curds. Easy to wash and not as fragile as I find cheesecloth to be. Here are the mesh bags that can be used for laundry or for cheesecloth on Amazon. (affiliate link)

    A bad photo of the ricotta draining on the mesh bag.

    One last tip. When you are draining your curds into a colander (affiliate link) as the recipe calls for, spoon it out with a slotted spoon. (affiliate link) I found when I poured the ricotta out, for some reason, the water didn’t drain well. It drained perfectly when I scooped out the ricotta.

    Quick and easy Naan Bread Pizza.

    Let’s break this down a bit. A 32 oz container of ricotta cheese costs at least $5. For around a half-hour of time, knowing what is in my food, with my learning curve and wasting some, I made ricotta for around $2.89. If you add in the lemon juice at $1.19 for an entire bottle and make a vodka sour to go with the lasagna, the final cost is still lower. I will still say that for around $3 for the finished product of ricotta. Try it on naan bread for an easy homemade pizza. Also here is a link to my brother’s site. He specializes in low sodium recipes and has one for naan bread! Go check him out!

    That may not seem like a lot, but it does add up. If I find ways of cutting costs like that over a year it adds up. Plus I can read all the ingredients that are in my food.

    If you are interested in making your own ricotta here is a link to the recipe from the She Loves Biscotti website. Happy cooking!

    Affiliate disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn commissions from qualifying purchases from Amazon.com.

  • I started with good intentions. I really did. My post Thrifting Challange has run aground. Much like the ship recently in the Suez Canal. It is stuck and much like the ship, the things I purchased are just sitting there, taking up space. You can tell by the picture that there are piles of stuff that really I should be cleaning up.

    What I forgot was that cleaning things to make them good again and then posting the items takes time. I also would have to pack and ship, which is a bit of a hassle. Time is what is in short supply right now. I go to work, come home, clean up the house, cook, and then I have “free” time. That is the time when I sit at the computer to do side work or try to get the extra things done, yawning the entire time. Meanwhile, he is over on the couch watching TV complaining I am not spending time with him.

    I am not saying I am giving up. Far from it. More than likely I will keep the bread machine because I like it and I found a home one on top of the fridge for the beast. The rest of the items will probably be shoved in some dark corner of a closet to get them out of the way, where they will be forgotten for a time.

    The conclusion I came to is it is just not worth the small amount of money I would make doing the process of it all. Maybe it is justification for being lazy but at this moment I am comfortable with being lazy. I have too many other things going on to fiddle with it.

    After all, he is really handsome and I like sitting on the couch with him, talking about the day and then one of us falls asleep to snore in the others ear.

  • Not all things are about being cheap or saving money. Sometimes what is important is using a talent that you have. So many people don’t think they have a talent but I am a firm believer every person has one. You need to move out of the way of your own judgment sometimes. Silence or move beyond that inner critic.

    I am lucky to have a creative talent. I am a full-time graphic designer, which I love. Most days. I always say the great part about my job is I GET to be creative every day. The bad thing is I HAVE to be creative every day. But it is still a talent. Over the years I have found that I can put my talents to good use for friends on occasion.

    Sadly, several weeks ago one of my best friends’ daughters died. It was sudden and shocking. They waited a bit before doing a memorial service for her. During that time they asked me to design her memorial card. I was honored to be asked and said of course I would design a card. I am lucky to work at a company that when I told them what had happened, work donated the paper for printing. I was able to use beautiful paper that normally would be out of most people’s reach or ability to procure.

    I had the thought I would like to do a bit more for my friend. Something that could lift people up with a bit of joy in a tragic loss. A bit more remembrance. I did a bit of looking around and stumbled across the idea of spreading joy through wildflowers.

    This was perfect! Barb, my friend’s daughter, had a tattoo of a butterfly. She also adored the winged beauties. Butterflies are symbolic of change and transformation which seemed appropriate. I started thinking that wildflowers draw butterflies. How about making small packets of wildflowers to pass out that would attract butterflies?

    My friends loved the idea. I found a quote that I found appropriate, printed onto small note card size pieces of card stock. Dan and I filled up small envelopes from Amazon, sealed and glued the envelope and card together. People loved them. It was simple and meaningful.

    A small gesture can make a difference in someone’s life.

    I purchased two bags of wildflower seeds from Amazon. I decided not to buy cheaper seeds but went with a highly rated batch that had a good review for growing. I have learned over the years to, at times, spend money on quality over quantity. This was one of those times to have quality.

    The back of the card that we attached with Wildflower seeds inside.

    It only took a bit of my time to make something meaningful for my friend and the family.

    I put my talents to use. What are some of the talents you can use in similar situations? How about these ideas…

    Listen. Just sit and listen. Be present.
    Offer to make a meal.
    Offer to clean.
    Drive them to an appointment to spend time with them.
    Help with out-of-town guests.
    Write down what that person means to you and send it in a card.
    Offer to help if doing a luncheon or dinner.

    I know there are a thousand other things but little things make a world of difference sometimes. It is always up to me to look around and see what small or big thing I can do in the world. It seems at times we need to make grand gestures. We don’t. We just need to make a small one at times. Much like some of the seeds we packed up. The seed is small but yields stunningly beautiful results.

    Affiliate disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn commissions from qualifying purchases from Amazon.com.

  • I had an itch for pizza. I ended up getting it scratched tonight and then some. I was going to be good and go home to cook dinner. In fact, it was going to be breakfast for dinner night. French toast with my homemade bread was what I had planned on all day. That was until I remembered it was Monday.

    Monday in our house means pizza. Monday means cheap and good pizza. I am going to introduce you to a local Northern Kentucky local gem. Newport Pizza. We have been having their pizzas for 11 years, since we crossed the river to live in the area. Not once have we had a bad pizza or meal at the establishment.

    Newport Pizza sits on the corner of Monmouth St and 6th St. in Newport, Kentucky, opening its doors in 2009. They specialize in a New York-style pizza. While I have never had that style of pizza in New York for a real comparison, I can say Newport Pizza is worth a trip to checkout. It has a thin, crispy crust with some chew, the dough tastes fresh, and a light layer of sauce with a perfect amount of cheeses and meats.

    Here is the best part. On Mondays, they have a special, $11 for any large specialty pizza. $11!!! Normal price starting at $17.95. Trust me…this is not your chain pizza for about the same price with one or two toppings. They have pizzas that are different from the norm such as their Cincinnatus pizza. If you are from Cincinnati and like Cincinnati-style chili, you may enjoy this. From their website, “Cream cheese, Cincinnati chili, and sharp cheddar top this twist on a Cincinnati favorite.” They do have a veggie pizza for those that like that. Our favorite is called the Flying Pig. “Pepperoni, Italian sausage, ham, and bacon, with pizza sauce, provolone, Parmesan, and mozzarella cheeses. You’ll run a marathon for this one!”

    We like to mix it up a bit, tonight we got The Wiseguy. I imagine the name is a nod to Newport’s history of Little Las Vegas. “For the gangster in all of us. Salami, capicola and pepperoni, feta cheese with fresh basil, three cheese blend, and pizza sauce.”

    One item we had not tried till tonight was an appetizer called the Antipasta Basket. Their menu description, “A sampling of salami, pepperoni, and capicola ham with asiago, and fresh mozzarella. Manzanilla olives, banana peppers, Roma tomato, fresh basil, and roasted garlic. Served with toasted Italian bread and roasted veggies.” I can not believe we missed this item all these years.

    Antipasta Basket prior to tearing into it.

    It is well worth the price at $7.95. It was a meal on to itself. We used it with the crust part of the pizza at the ends for a delightful addition. It hit spots I didn’t realize I had been craving. The savory, fresh veggies such as mushrooms, artichokes, onion, a roasted head of garlic with the salty banana peppers, olives, meats, and cheese just speak to my soul. Add in a bit of fresh bread lapping up the olive oil and balsamic…perfection.

    Antipasta Basket after we devoured a lot of it.

    The pizza, as always, was superb. It is 16″ in size. We took half of it home and some of the Antipasta Basket.

    Let it rest for a minute, it is always fresh out of the oven. Then dive straight in. The pizza isn’t sitting around at this place under some heat lamp. I love cheese and this pizza has the perfect amount. As a lover of cheese, I always thought the more cheese, the better. I have come to realize the error of my ways. It can have too much cheese to the point you can’t even chew anymore. Cow bubble gum is what I call it when there is too much cheese. Not so with Newport Pizza. Perfect amount of ingredients for the perfect flavor. Many sauces at other places can be too sweet or too full of spices, they let the tomato flavor shine through.

    This is the 16″ Wiseguy pizza.

    We have found the service for the most part over the years good as well. Usually, if the service seems lacking it is because they are swamped with customers and running their butts off. Many of the staff have been there for years and you become part of the community they have created.

    If you ever find yourself on this side of the river in Newport, KY go check them out. I think you will find it worth it. Remember…Monday Night! $11! They also run specials on Wednesday nights, along with monthly specialty pizzas that always have a bit of twist if you like something different.

    Our total for the night.
    Their menu as of April 18, 2022.
    Their menu as of April 18, 2022.
  • There is a spot in Cincinnati, that most every night during the summer if the weather cooperates, is a cheap and fun night out. It has been the city center since 1871. That spot is Fountain Square. Most every night during the nicer months there is an organized function with live music, all for FREE! They keep adding events all the time, including during lunch hours now, and have also installed a full-time bar for those that like an adult beverage.

    Around Halloween a few years ago, with a Kiss cover band and roaming scary clowns.

    Cincinnati’s Fountain Square has gone through a lot of changes over the years. It’s been the place to go, it’s been the place to not go, and back to a city center and heartbeat. The fountain has been moved around several times and relocated to the present location where the square is more of the gathering and attention than the fountain itself.

    Opening Day a few years back.

    The fountain was dedicated in 1871 by Henry Probasco, a Cincinnati businessman who made his money as a hardware merchant. The name of the fountain itself is Tyler Davidson Fountain and also The Genius of Water. Tyler Davidson was Probasco’s brother-in-law and business partner dedicated to the people of Cincinnati. It really is lovely to sit beside on a hot night of Salsa Dancing and cool down in its spraying mist of water.

    If you like history here is some obscure history and an article about Fountain Square on Cincinnati.com website.

    We have gone to numerous events on Fountain Square over the years. We have gone to Opening Day, the unofficial Cincinnati holiday. We froze one night for a New Years’ countdown and celebration. We’ve danced to a sweaty mess of Salsa dancing during the summer. I will say every time we have gone, we have enjoyed being there. It is one of the few locations where I feel you get a mix of people, the real people of Cincinnati. You have the homeless, the workers just getting off their shift to the business person staying at the hotel across the street.

    Salsa Night last year.

    Every night there is something different happening as I mentioned before. This is a list of the evenings for April. You can find the calendar of events here.

    Monday’s are Trivia Nights.
    Tuesday’s are Fountain Feud, a take on Family Feud.
    Wednesday is live music. May 18th is the Hiders who I really like, so I hope to be there.
    Thursday is Salsa Dancing. They give lessons too!
    Friday and Saturday will be live bands.

    Be sure to check out the events during the days as well. If you work down there or have the afternoon off, nothing is better than spending some time in the square on a beautiful day with great activities going on.

    As for the cost here is a bit of a breakdown. Parking, we park in the garage below the square due to my hip issues. After 4 PM it is a flat rate of $7 for 8 hours. If memory serves me correctly a beer there was $5 last summer. There are restrooms that stay clean most of the time. There is also free WiFi available if you want to sit and do some work on your laptop. You can not bring in outside alcohol.

    If you are looking for a cheaper night out, Fountain Square is the place! For easily under $20 you can rock out, salsa dance, win at trivia or just sit listening to music while people-watching in the heart of Cincinnati.

  • Let’s air the dirty laundry from the start. Lots of it at times. Other times, not too much.

    Thankfully, I really do mean dirty laundry. Adds up quick and can smell. I’m not telling you my deep, dark secrets, dirty laundry. After all, who is interested in that? I am speaking of the kind where socks multiply like rabbits.

    We live in an apartment that has stood for over 100 years. We have access to the basement and let me tell you, I avoid it at all costs. The basement has not been upgraded since the Roman Empire. Dark, dirty, other previous renters’ discarded stuff piled up in heaps. Bits of past lives relics discarded in dark corners.

    Some spiders have lived down there since this house was constructed. It has a toilet down in the cobby darkness, called a Pittsburgh Toilet. It stands there like a sentry for the Other World. Odd thunking noises in the middle of the night emanate from that porcelain commode. It’s the reason I don’t keep closet doors open when I go to bed. An idea of the monsters in the basement coming out at night, coming through a closet door. The things of childish fears but funny how they pop up at times as an adult.

    But I regress…

    Laundry. We don’t have a washer and dryer in our apartment, we would have to put one in the gates of hell’s basement. We used a laundromat for years, which in itself is always an experience. Then along came a pandemic. The laundromat was not a place I wanted to hang out to observe human behaviors for extended periods.

    I did some researching on the internet and saw in many other countries they make use of smaller, portable washers all the time. I didn’t realize how many places use smaller washers, not the industrial-size washers we in the U.S. are used to. The portable washing machine can be hooked up to a kitchen sink very easily or even a shower. I use mine in the kitchen sink. I also had an old wooden trolly I had that I put the machine on to wheel around easily instead of having to lift it. It can be cumbersome otherwise. Pictured below is the washer hooked up. Like our carpet in the KITCHEN???

    Granted you can not put as much laundry in per load. You can fit 2 pairs of jeans or around 8 large size t-shirts in at a time. At least you don’t have to stand around a bunch of other people when you have no idea what a pandemic is going to bring.

    I started researching pricing and where I could buy a portable washing machine. Apparently, everyone else had the same notion during that time. I found that most retailers sold out or the price including shipping, was so high that it was not worth it for me. After a bit more hunting, I struck gold. I found a refurbished unit for a great price. I have found in the past, that refurbished units are well worth purchasing. It is generally a returned item that is brought back to a new condition at a cost saving to you. It was a bit of a drive to buy it, but I was pent up after a month of lockdown and ready for a drive.

    It is large enough to keep up with a normal week’s laundry, but not large enough for blankets or bulky items. It got us through the lockdown of the pandemic. I still use the washer on a regular basis.

    With that being said, the semi-issue comes to drying. I picked up a clothes rack from Amazon that works great. The bad part is it sits in our dining room, with clothes, hanging, for few days at times, to dry. With hang drying clothes, they are not soft. They can a bit stiff and rough. At least they are clean. I will take clean and a bit rough. Picture below is the SHAREWIN Clothes Drying Rack that I bought off of Amazon.

    How do you like the green shag carpet?

    At the height of usage, our water bill went up around $20, a cost I was willing to deal with. Going to the laundromat, we would spend up to $50 washing and drying, generally twice a month. I paid for the refurbished Magic Chef 0.9 cu. ft. Compact Washer $120, retailing on Amazon for $299.00.

    This is one of my better buys in the long run. Over the last 2 years, I have used it often. It has held up after a lot of loads running, some, when he does the wash, overstuffed.

    The biggest plus, for me, is it is worth not to go into the basement of doom and arachnids. Anything is better than that!

    (When you buy through links on this site, I may earn an affiliate commission.)

  • I have camped since I was 19. I always loved it, but once I met Dan… 

    Let me put it this way, he always says, “I’m a 5-star hotel type guy.” He had been spoiled after years of working around the world in his career. Staying in some incredible places at fabulous hotels around the world. Which his clients paid for. At one hotel he stayed, before the pandemic, the room staff folded up the dirty clothes he left tossed around the room. Dirty underwear and all!

    I have been able to camp in some great places, with great people, while having wonderful experiences. He hadn’t had that chance. His camping experience was a drunken, teenager camping experience. At that age, you could sleep anywhere, on anything. 

    Over the last two years, I have been reintroducing Dan to camping. I had missed being in the great outdoors. I craved it. We started by going places we could still plug in for electricity and had water at the sites. I wanted to get back a bit more to the basics, but with an air mattress. When you are old enough to hear your bones pop when you roll over in bed, you want an air mattress. After a few very successful trips around the area, I decided it was time to step up the game. It wasn’t backpacking but for us, in our shape, which is a couch potato shape, at least it was off-the-grid car camping. 

    Several years ago I found an app called Hipcamp. Here is a link for Hipcamp. If you use that link you receive $10 off your first booking and I receive credits as well. It is like an “Uber” of camping. You can find places to camp that are on private land, farms, and spaces. You can go glamping, all the way down to primitive camping. Price points vary as well. I found a location outside Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio, located outside the tiny town of Shawnee, Ohio, whose heyday was in the late 1800s. 

    We are talking Big Foot sightings are rampant in this area as to locals and legends. No joke either. They are having a festival this summer in another town over. Here is a link to info on the festival

    The campsite I found off Hipcamp was only $20 a night for primitive camping. We gathered firewood from around the property, a huge expense at most sites was adverted. Many times we can go through $20-$30 of wood a night if we buy wood. It is an easy expense to rack up. One I almost always forget about. I do not recommend bringing your wood due to many state regulations about transporting wood, even within the state. This is all due to invasive bugs that have come into our areas. 

    If you are not familiar with primitive camping, it means you have a place to set your tent, nothing else. No bathrooms. No showers. No electricity. No water. You dig a hole for the restroom or use a bucket (which I do and have tips for a later time) and pack your waste out. Bring water for drinking and washing. Use a converter from the car to blow up the double-high twin air mattresses, if you are close to your car.

    We, meaning I dragging him along, decided we would go camping the weekend of my birthday in mid-September. It was my birthday after all! One of my favorite activities to do. Days are warmer, nights are perfect for a roaring fire and snuggling. The person we rented the camping spot, via HipCamp, had purchased several hundred acres on the border of the Ohio State Forest in that area. We were the only ones around. 

    It was fantastic camping next to one of the most serene little lakes. It was almost mystical how peaceful it was. The fog would rise up off the lake in the morning, bringing to mind a mythical sword rising up, out of the water. The mind could wander and make up a story there. 

    Traveling on a dime, we made this our cheapest camping trip to date. We live 170 miles from Shawnee. We made it back and forth with a tank of gas, including running around to a few sites in Hocking Hills such as Ash Cave pictured below. 

    We also decided not to go grocery shopping for the trip. Instead, use only food from the pantry, plus the freezer. That helped keep the cost WAY down. I have a horrible habit of buying enough food for a family of food for 2 weeks when I do a camp shop. Every snack food in the store I will buy is my MO. It adds up to $150 later…  

    Our only real expense this trip, other than the campsite, was some Ole Smokey Apple Pie Moonshine and Bourbon (I am a Kentucky woman after all) and a case of bottled water.

    Over the years I have purchased equipment which means costs even out over time. I make sure to purchase quality items that may cost more but last longer and don’t need replacing as often and don’t waste money needing to replace an item.

    I had purchased a new tent in the spring of last year. I returned the first tent not liking it and decided on a Colman tent, this one, Coleman Dark Room Skydome Camping Tent from Amazon. Several things I love about this tent:

    • Dark Room Technology! Dan is a late sleeper and most tents do not block the light at all. This one does! Great for late sleepers. You also can’t see shadows at night if the light is on inside the tent. 
    • It is a larger inside area tent. We fit 2 twin mattresses in the tent with plenty of space to move around. Great for if it does rain, you can pull things off the sides of the tent.
    • Dan is almost 6′ and can stand up in this. No hunching over!

    We had a ball that weekend enjoying nature in its prime. We had no cell phone reception so we couldn’t play on our phones. It was only us, no distractions. The skies were clear enough and far enough from light pollution, that we could see the Milky Way, unusual for this area. We through our fishing lines in the lake, with little luck of catching anything than a buzz from drinking and us sitting there catching up with each other. The owner said he will be stocking it with fish this year. We drank moonshine till we howled our best Bigfoot impressions. It was a perfect weekend together. 

    Altogether, the costs look like this:

    Campsite: $40 for two nights.

    Beverages to drink: $45 (much cheaper if we didn’t have alcohol. $4 for a case of water)

    Camp gear: Already owned.

    Fishing Gear: Already owned. No fishing license is needed in that location, check local guidelines. 

    Food: Already had from a normal, weekly shopping trip.

    Gas: $35 (fall of 2021)

    Wandering State Park: Ohio State Parks are free to go into for the day.

    In the area is free camping (this site is one way to find sites). On our next trip, I may scout for those spots first. The issue with spots such as that, spots usually are a first-come, first-served system. You need to prepare for plans A, B, or C. You may have to pay for a spot if all the free spots are filled. 

    Camping during the pandemic became an “in” thing again. People came out of their homes into nature to get out of the house and away from others. Estimates of bookings for camping up 400% last year. With a bit of planning, camping can be a great choice for people and families on a budget. You can pick an RV park with all the amenities, down to finding a patch of flat ground in the middle of the mountains, all dependent on your budget. One of the best parts about camping is we always seem to come away with stories of our adventures that last a lifetime. 

    I do plan on more tips and tricks in the future for making your camping trips more enjoyable on a budget. Keep tuned!

  • Let me give you a bit more background on myself and why I have I am doing this blog.

    I have read various blogs over the years and they all seem like they have an oddly perfect life. It seems everything is golden, they have the luck that falls out of the sky. They never burn dinner. Their pantry is in order and stays that way.

    Their laundry is always done, but they joke about it not being folded and put away. This includes perfectly folded fitted sheets, the ones the rest of us wad up and toss in the closet. The back of the closet. Where the company can’t see them.

    We rent an apartment in a 125-year-old house in the small town of Bellevue, Kentucky, and have for 11 years. I love living in a small town but we live across the river from Downtown Cincinnati. We have the feel of a small town but in a big town.

    I am a full-time graphic designer by day at a place I love but lower pay than most designers. At this point in my life, I have decided that I would rather love my job than battle a corporate mentality and people. I have done enough of that in my life that I knew it would be a struggle.

    I have done freelance design work throughout the years, but always undervalued myself and my work. I also had my own fine art studio for a few years. It was such a wonderful, soul-filling experience but real life called again.

    Then Dan and I met on September 14, 2009, at 7:14 pm. I was smitten from the start. like the proverbial lightning bolt. I had to do some convincing that I was perfect for him. The picture for this post is Dan shortly after we met.

    We decided to move in together on January 1st of 2011. We still are together and we still rent the same apartment.

    I will say up till that time, I lead a charmed life. Really charmed. I have no children, had never been married, and lived with my mother till I was 40. I always feel my need to justify that, but I will say I believe it worked for both of us. I was able to do things with my life that most can’t do because of my choices. I also worked for most of that time.

    Things changed shortly after my father passed away in 2005. I started looking at a lot of my life and the choices I had made. In all aspects of life. I did a lot of alone time. Wandering the countryside and exploring. I started to distance myself from an organization I believed in for years. I started to realize I no longer believed in that organization. I started seeing that I had limited myself in life.

    In 2006 I decided to go back to college. I had my associate’s degree but felt limited with my career outlook. At 36 I went back for two years to finish my degree to bachelor’s degree. During the process of college, the final pieces that had been holding me back finally started dropping away. My eyes had been opened to new ideas and possibilities.

    After college, I took two years off and had my own fine art photography studio. I sold my photos, but never enough to make a living from. Marketing your own art is hard work. I was not up to the challenge. Around that time is when Dan entered the picture. With having someone in my life that I knew I could really trust, I left that organization I struggle with leaving for so long. It was really now just Dan and I. I lost a lot of people I had known for years when I left.

    What I was not ready for either was the time finding a quality job after taking this break. I did some freelance work but always small work. I was never able to re-enter the job market where I thought I should be. It is hard to do at 38 vs. 21. Much different.

    I will not speak for Dan but he is a freelancer whose career also took a huge hit in the 2008 recession and then with Covid.

    During these last number of years, we have traveled at times, eaten at some great places. Our lives have been feast or famine. We have had to get food stamps at one point. We cut cable. We have had disconnections at times of the utilities. We use one car for both of us. We have learned to make do with what we have and enjoy life even though we struggle sometimes.

    We do without sometimes of material, but we have with joy and laughter. I have learned how to make the dollar stretch. And stretch. And stretch.

    I find that I have gotten a bit lazy the last few years with having some gumption.

    I am starting to have a drive again. A drive to share what I have learned. To share our adventures. To share the good AND the bad. Show you what I burned for dinner. To show my messy pantry that I have tried to organize. Then two minutes later, he starts putting things in the wrong spot. I also have learned that it is not worth getting my onions in a bunch about it.

    Live and learn I believe the saying goes.

    Oh…I also don’t have great grammar. I am not going to let that hold me back. The more I will write the better it will become.

    I love the quote by Dr. Martin Luther King. “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

    At 51 I feel that I am crawling again. It’s a great place to start.

    I am cheap and proud of it. I don’t find that I live a less content life.

    How I look at what I need has shifted.

    I am going to leave you with this. It’s a photo of my pantry. It’s a bit like looking at my soul. Messy, fully stocked, somethings hidden away but everything I need is there. I am just looking for the right recipe to make a delicious life.

  • I am going to experiment. Usually my experiments don’t end up well. My usual way of doing things is to do a knee jerk reaction to something going on in my life.

    We are struggling financially. It is the reason I am starting my journey to blog but I am looking for other income streams. I also work full time as a graphic designer in a low paying job that I love. Sometimes it is worth the sacrifice of a lower pay to have peace of mind. Plus I adore my work family. But we just need more income.

    The point being my knee jerk reaction right now is to blog but also try thrifting for resale. To make a profit.

    I enjoy thrifting. It always seems a bit like a modern day treasure hunt. Either you buy junk that should have be melted down to recycle or you on occasion stumble upon a pot of gold.

    I am always surprised by what people get rid of. I have found complete sets of high priced cookware that I still use to this day. I paid around $40 for a complete set of pots, pans AND lids. New it can retail for $200+ easily. I struck my pot of personal gold.

    I have also sold a few times on Ebay items I have found for a generous mark up. I have learned a few things about selling for a profit.

    You need to find in demand items. Quality items.

    You need to have space to store the items you buy.

    You need to ship and charge for it.

    You need to have a quick turn around on shipping.

    Some of those listed items can be difficult at times. Things such as packaging and getting to the post office to ship can be a pain when you work full time. Having the space is always a challenge where we live. I can’t have a large inventory of items that collect dust while I await someone to buy it.

    One of the modern day thrifting advantages is the cell phone. The ability to look items up while you are standing there. For me, Google Lens App is awesome! You take a photo of the item, search the images and you can get ballpark prices and how in demand it is. I am not a tech person though so you can look into it. I may do another post at another time about it.

    What I decided to do was buy a few items this past week at the thrift store. I purchased several types of items.

    Bookbag. Volcom brand. I love the colors! I would be shocked if it was ever used.

    Two hand thrown pottery chalice. I several other pieces already of this potter.

    A San Diego Glass keepsake piece.

    A Calphalon 10″ pan. This needs cleaning and seasoning of the cooking surface. This sells on Amazon at the Calphalon Store. (Affiliate link)

    A Breadman bread maker. It looks like it was never used, but you can see the loaf I made in it last night. I may keep this but storage, once again will be the deciding factor. Not bad for $10! Here is a link to one on Amazon used.

    My receipt for the purchase. Take out one item for $3. Dan found something he liked. My total spent was $26.50 with tax.

    Can I make at least double the amount on resale in the right market. That would be at least $50. Hoping to triple to make it worth my time.

    I will keep you posted.

    Affiliate disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn commissions from qualifying purchases from Amazon.com.

  • I know I gotta have some coffee lovers out there. Especially Cold Brewed Iced Coffee in the summer. There is nothing better than enjoying a cold brewed coffee in the summer on the perilous drive into work.

    My commute is about 4 minutes. With lots of pot holes and bumps along the way in our small town

    I could swing by McWhatever, which is on my way to work and grab a coffee, but why bother? I can make it cheaper and have coffee in me before I ever have to speak with another human. Plus, I find theirs too weak. Sounds like a win win for me. Plus it is super easy to make and great to have ready so you never have to leave home.

    Here is the quick cost comparison.

    McWhatever – $1.99 Large size

    StarWhatever Bottled from convenience store – $2.99

    StarWhatever in store depending on location – $2.95

    That Donut place – $2.79

    Homemade – around $0.28 per container, around 3 servings, so let’s say $0.10 per serving for a large.

    If I have two servings a day for 7 days a week my homemade cost is $1.40ish.

    Need I say more?

    I prefer my coffee so I can thread a sewing machine needle while it is running. Some prefer a slight pick-me-up in the morning. For the purposes of not seeding you into mild cardiac arrest, I went for a slightly stronger brew. You will find your own amount that you like after one or two tries.

    I will show two methods. One is easier but a smaller amount. I do that in a French Press, which not everyone owns. The other way is in a carafe, but this requires a bit more work with needing to strain out the grounds. You can make it with a coffee maker as well, but I prefer the other methods. It is a smother, not as bitter taste. Plus we got rid of our coffee make after having to find a spot on our 9 feet of counter space in our kitchen. (I’ll show you all later in a post.) The French Press is a much better option for lack of space. Here is an Amazon link to French Presses that are glass.


    IN A CARAFE: I use a Rubbermaid Carafe That you can find on Amazon.

    Add around 6 tablespoons of grounds.

    Add water till full.


    Steep in refrigerator for 5+ hours. I do mine before I go to bed and it is perfect in the morning.

    Pour out coffee as needed but you need to drain the grounds out.

    There in lies the problem with this method. Draining the grounds. I have used old metal filters, but it is more of a pain than it is worth at times.


    Add around 4 tablespoons of grounds. (This also could be dependent on the size but most are the same size.)

    Add water till full.

    Put on cover with the strainer/plunger.


    Steep in refrigerator for 5+ hours. I do mine before I go to bed and it is perfect in the morning.

    Push down the strainer/plunger

    Pore your delicious Cold Brewed Coffee into a glass of your choice, with or without ice, along with your choice of creamers or flavors.

    If you are looking to invest in a French Press I recommend the a glass instead of plastic carafe piece. We had a plastic but it would crack with heat when we did use for hot coffee.

    I keep telling people how easy this is to do. I will never be sure why more people don’t do this for as easy as it is. Not only easy but budget friendly to the point you will not feel guilty!

    Cold Brewed Iced Coffee on my messy desk

    As you may notice I am new to the blogging thing. Let me know if you have any questions on how to do this. It will help me learn how to blog better!

    Affiliate disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn commissions from qualifying purchases from Amazon.com.

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