Tag Archives: Thrift

The Truth Matters


It takes a special movie to separate us from the $20-40 it costs now.  When I saw the preview for 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, it grabbed my attention.


“This is the true story of six men who had the courage to fight back.”


“This is the true story you were never told.”


My husband and I saw it yesterday, and it’s difficult for me to think about anything else.  Now I want to read the book, watch the interviews with the survivors and research the lies that Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and Susan Rice told with straight faces to the American people.


Because those four didn’t simply lie about the cause of the attack, they are now lying about lying.  They couldn’t be more Orwellian if they were literally characters in Nineteen Eighty-Four.


In the presence of the 4 flag-draped coffins on the tarmac, Hillary Clinton lied to the families.


Now, she’s lying about lying.


Because of his lies to the American people and attempts to cover-up the Watergate break-in, Richard Nixon faced certain impeachment and therefore resigned the presidency on August 8, 1974.


Now, when those in the highest offices in Washington, D.C. lie and cover-up, they fly around on Air Force One and golf in exotic locations on the hard earned money of the American taxpayer.


Or they run for president.


After September 11, it was a common tool of the left to throw down the gauntlet of “Are you questioning my patriotism?!” when challenged on virtually any political point.  The weenies on the right would slink off with their tails between their legs, losing every time.


I say:  anyone who would vote for Lying Hillary Clinton does not love this country.


Cheers for Michael Bay and the stunningly courageous men who defended the compound in Benghazi!


America is not lost as long as we still have people like those brave men who will fight against all odds.


The truth matters.






Filed under America, History, Military, Politics, Vicissitudes of Life

House Altered Book, part III



Girls' Bedroom



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Filed under Altered Books, Crafts - Cheap, Crafts - Paper, Ephemera, Thrift, Using What You Have

Made in the U.S.A. – Yardley Lavender Soap

For my second post on Made in the U.S.A., here is one of my finds from Dollar Tree. Generally we think of the various dollar stores as Chinese Emporiums but they actually do sell several domestically made products.

Yardley soaps have a lovely fragrance and have been my favorites for many years.

It’s very surprising that something of this quality is only $1.00, but it is.

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Filed under Made in the U.S.A., Shopping

The Tyranny of Green

First the caveat: I recycle. A lot. In fact, as much as I can: steel, aluminum, glass, plastic and all paper. We compost. No chemical fertilizers. Pesticides only for fire ants and wasps.

I don’t do it to “save the earth”; I think it’s arrogant to think that even if one could do almost everything the green police are insisting on, that it still wouldn’t make a lot of difference to anything but landfills.

Yes, I’ve read the statistics on how much less energy it takes to recycle something than it does to make a new something, but I simply don’t believe that just that bit of saved energy will add up to enough to make a difference.

Landfills are a different story, because most of that stuff just isn’t going anywhere, so I try to buy smart (glass containers instead of plastic and reuse them. I’ve had some of my jars over 30 years and I recycle what I don’t re-use). Plastic is generally avoided because I don’t like it. One of my pet peeves is that I don’t like drinking out of a plastic tumbler.

Books that tell how to re-use (the new term is re-purpose) are interesting and I check them out from the library. There’s not much I can use from them, but I like to look at them and see if I can get any ideas.

What this all boils down to is that I believe in being a good steward of what God created and has given us. I want to be a good steward of his bountiful gifts, but I will not be a slave to the earth.

Genesis 1:28 tells us: “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

Being Green has become a religion. One is not allowed to question their “truth” or not adhere.

I worship the Creator, not his creation. He gave us dominion over it.

There are degrees of being Green. Probably the lowest level is the most common one where someone preaches it for everyone else but doesn’t do even the basics themselves (like recycling; I don’t know even one young person who recycles).

At the highest level are the true believers. They think that man is so harmful to the earth that there’s no redemption except the elimination of the human race. Yes, there really are some who are saying that. We all must die to save the plants, animals and the dirt. I can’t find that link right now, but I’ll keep looking for it.

The leftist high priests of this new religion fly around in private jets going to conferences and high dollar speaking engagements but tell us to not be using fossil fuels. The rest us are told to drive the equivalent of go-carts (or better yet – walk) while they are chauffeured around in limousines. They heat/cool huge mansions while those of us in smaller homes are told that we’ll have to live hotter in the summer and colder in the winter. There’s even serious talk of smart electric meters that will tattle on us if we use more than bureaucrats deem proper. I’ve read that the person currently in the Oval Office keeps it warm enough that he can work in his shirt-sleeves. He likes it that way.

“Do as I say and not as I do” should’ve been his campaign slogan.

One of my favorite photos is of George Clooney looking cool while he stands by his swimming pool. A swimming pool. We’re stuck with toilets that don’t flush and shower heads that don’t flow, but he gets to have a swimming pool. Was that in the past before he saw the light? (Well, he certainly didn’t see the light if he was using one of those compact florescents.) And speaking of Mr. Concerned About the Earth, click here to read the article about how compassionate Clooney is towards people. He publicly mocked Charleton Heston and his struggle with Alzheimer’s and when called on it said “I don’t care.”

Let’s see, how many times must a typical Californian take a shower instead of a bath so that an elite like George Clooney can have a swimming pool filled?

“The truth is, in order to get things like universal health care and a revamped education system, then someone is going to have to give up a piece of their pie so that someone else can have more.” — Michelle Obama

It looks like the Ruling Class make the rules and the proletariat will have to live by them.

Magazines are some of the most egregious purveyors of this nonsense. Country Living magazine is almost completely ruined. The Green doctrine is a huge part of their editorial policy now. When I read it or even Better Homes and Gardens, I feel lectured at.

And what hypocrites they are. There again, they must consider themselves the Ruling Class which are exempt because they tell us to do all these little things to “save the planet”, when they are using tons of paper and all that ink. Then fossil fuel is used to mail and deliver it to us.

This empty hypocritical preaching to the masses doesn’t make sense when magazines are dropping like flies. How long do they think it will be before their readers (readers: the ones who provide them with incomes) connect the dots and quit buying this propaganda? Do they not understand that if they actually convince people to follow their mantra then consumers would quit being consumers and not buy their publication?

And speaking of propaganda, there’s another outrageous film (the others shall remain nameless) being shown to vulnerable school children called the Story of Stuff. Apparently, Annie Leonard doesn’t think we need to be buying radios and stuff that comes from factories; or at least cheap stuff. I wonder where those jeans came from that she was wearing in her video, or her shirt? Did she make them herself after growing her own cotton and weaving them? Where did her shoes come from? Horrors! Not a factory!

I highly recommend this video critique of The Story of Stuff. This is part 1; links to the other parts will be on that page.

Back in the 1960s and 1970s we were told not to reproduce. They said: The planet is overpopulated! So, a lot of people actually bought into this and either didn’t have any children at all, or only had one or two. Here is a youtube video of Mark Steyn talking about the resulting population demographics.

We were also told by the scientists that there is a coming Ice Age!


No, now they say just the opposite.

So, no, I don’t believe in man-made global warming. After those scientists have shown their proclivity for adjusting data to fit their philosophies, I don’t know if I believe in global warming at all.

But I do believe in good stewardship.


Filed under America, Current Events, Politics, Scripture


There are some fantastic handcrafted cards being made.

Mine aren’t among them.

However, if I allow the pursuit for perfection to stop me, I won’t ever do anything.

Sometime back, Brenda at Coffee, Tea, Books and Me posted a quote by Edith Schaeffer about doing nothing while waiting for perfection; I can’t quote it and I can’t find it, but when I do, I’ll update this post.

Here is one that I did find:

“People throw away what they could have by insisting on perfection, which they cannot have, and looking for it where they will never find it.”
Edith Schaeffer

When looking at the craft magazines and books and paper crafting blogs, it’s apparent that some people are just a lot more talented than others. If my workmanship is not in the same league, I can’t let that stop me from doing what I can.

My mother was a treasure trove of old adages. One of my favorites was:

“It’s what you do with what you’ve got that counts.”

She’s probably not the author of that little quote, but I sure heard it often enough and it’s true. It’s so important to me that I stenciled it (very imperfectly – and not intentionally so) onto the wall above my kitchen cabinets.

Jesus taught us in Matthew 25:23:
“His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”

That ties it all together. If the Lord has given me an interest in something, will I be faithful to use that and nurture it, or will I bury it in the sand because I’m afraid to fail?

This post linked to Frugal Fridays @ Life as Mom.


Filed under Christmas, Crafts, Crafts - Paper, Ephemera, Family, Free, Scripture, Thrift, Using What You Have

Christmas Altered/Mini Scrapbook

Fran's Christmas book, cover

Two years ago I made an altered Christmas book for my sister. It was like a mini-scrapbook and personalized with family photos and memories.

This was a gift that couldn’t have been bought in a store because it was geared to my sister. The cost was absolutely $0.00 because my supplies were items and embellishments that I already had, including photocopies of old pictures. (If the pictures hadn’t already been photocopied, it would’ve cost about $1.00 at Kinko’s to do so.)

Space was left for her to add notes of her own remembrances. I included the Nativity story from Luke and words to Christmas songs. Part of the personalizing was including the lyrics to Frosty the Snowman. We never could remember all of them and that in itself was kind of a family tradition.

Looking back at it now, it’s obvious where some of the pages could be improved and maybe she’ll let me borrow it back to work on it some more, but I’ve found that with altered books, at some point it’s just time to quit.

This post linked to:
Frugal Fridays @ Life as Mom


Filed under Altered Books, Christmas, Crafts, Crafts - Paper, Ephemera, Faith, Family, Free, Scripture, Thrift

Pot Pourri Starter

Doesn’t pot pourri add something beautiful to a room? It’s more than simply the smell, it’s the look of it, too. All those lovely flowers and fragrances. However, I don’t like paying for the good stuff so I usually make my own. Besides, it’s something nice to do with all those rose petals, etc. that will be falling next spring and summer.

Now, in the winter is a good time to start on a new year’s fragrant bowl. Citrus fruit is in season and this is a good use for all of that usually discarded rind.

This morning when I peeled an orange, I tried to leave the rind in pieces as large as possible. Using a small cookie cutter, I pressed it into the rind to cut out little hearts. As you can see, I used a plastic one, which I don’t recommend, because it’s difficult to use, especially since this orange had really thick skin. A small metal one would’ve been better but I couldn’t find one in a generic shape that wouldn’t look Chrismasy next summer. However, I did employ the rolling pin to distribute the pressure and got a better cut that way. (That sounds like a physics problem. That’s about all I know concderning that subject. When Joe went back to school and got his degree in physics, people would ask me just exactly what that was. Really, I don’t know but my stock answer is that it’s the mathematics of how things work, like pressure, light, etc. Now if they had asked me about literature or history we could’ve had a longer conversation.)

Inserting the cloves

After getting the shapes trimmed (use kitchen shears or cheap scissors, it’s easier than a knife), I used a chop stick to poke holes for inserting the cloves. A large nail will work just fine, too. The hole at the top of each shaped piece is a little larger so I could hang one from a ribbon on a garland. You don’t have to use cloves, but they do add a lot of oomph to the smell. A few stars of anise thrown into the mix later on is nice, too.

All of the rind can be used, even the ragged bits. Just slice then into little pieces or cut them with the scissors.

All of the citrus bits are now sitting in a baking pan under our wood stove to dry. That’s not necessary, and you certainly won’t want to install a wood stove just to save on pot pourri, but it’s a good place for drying things. It doesn’t get hot to the touch, just a constant warm. When we were in England, my friend Julie, taught an art class and she used her hot water closet to dry papier mache. Just use what you have. In the past, I’ve just put the ingredients straight into the bowl and let them dry that way.

So this is the starter. You can add whatever you have or whatever you like to it. There are lots of pot pourri recipes in some of my books, but they were awfully intimidating and terribly expensive. They called for several ingredients which are not in my kitchen and probably not on the shelves of our local store.

What I’ll put in mine: the cinnamon sticks I got on sale at Wal-Mart for .20, petals from all the flowers that come around (either cut flowers or wildflowers), a few rose leaves for something different, a few drops of oil of cinnamon (from the spice section at the grocery), a little bit of essential oil and some dried orange or grapefruit slices. They look so pretty in the bowl.

This post linked to:
Food on Fridays @ annkroeker


Filed under Cozy, Crafts, Free, Gardening, Thrift, Using What You Have

Jazzing up Store Bought Cards

My goal every year is to make all my own Christmas cards, and of course write a personal note on each one that I send. In the real world, many times I just sign:


Joe & Carla

Also, I’m realistic enough to buy boxes of cards when they go on sale after Christmas. If nothing else, it gives me a cheap source of envelopes for the cards that I make. Sometimes the boxes go on sale for .25 for 25 cards. Now that’s a mathematical story problem I can solve. A penny apiece.

Affordable cards made in the U.S.A.

These came from the local Dollar General one year. One thing, though – I try to make sure that they’re made in the U.S.A. and not in …. well, that country that seems to make just about everything we buy nowadays. There’s probably nothing at all wrong with the ink they use. Probably no lead or anything worse (there was that scare about the toys a year or two ago), but my goal is to always buy American first if I can. Anyway, last year, I supplemented my handmade cards with these.


They were awfully plain, and well, glitter is like a string of pearls: it just goes with everything.

For embellishments, I got out plain old Elmer’s glue – not made in the U.S. anymore – and my box of glitter tubes and bottles. My sister uses Stickles and it’s so easy to use and goes where where you want it to – next time I’ll use it for this kind of project. Stickles is glitter glue made by Ranger (in the U.S. as all there products are). It’s really superior to the kind of glitter glue I used to buy in the 1980’s. Nana’s Scrapbooks in Weatherford has some and I hope to add new colors to my stash. Nana’s is a very nice little scrapbook store. The owner is a kind Christian lady and very helpful. I’d link her website, but I couldn’t find it using the search engine.

Can a girl have too much glitter?

Red glitter for the berries on the bell cards.

These also needed something extra so I touched up the snow with white glitter and also a few bits of red and green.

Not exactly handmade, but at least hand embellished. And it was surprising how much nicer they looked. They certainly didn’t look like penny cards.


Filed under Christmas, Crafts, Crafts - Paper, Made in the U.S.A., Thrift

Thrift: Postage Stamps – Both New & Used

There is a little drawer in my desk in which I keep stamps. Along with the new ones, I also toss in ones torn off of envelopes that were never sent. For those really organized and efficient people, it will remain a mystery why anyone would go to the trouble to write out a card or letter and then not send it. But as an imperfect, very imperfect, human, I can tell you that after a couple of years, I have a little collection of these torn off corners of envelopes.

Now the slightly less efficient may simply toss the whole unsent letter into the trash; the slightly less efficient but conscientious would recycle the whole thing.

As a member of the above mentioned imperfect group, I set out a saucer of water and soak the stamps off of the paper, then place them on a piece of waxed paper to dry (if they were placed onto the countertop while wet, then I’d have to soak them off of that.)

5 minutes of work netted me just a little less than $4.00. With stamps at .44 now, I’m glad to save those expensive little bits of colorful paper. I would no more put an unused postage stamp in the trash than I would throw away .44 in coin. Or, in this case, four $1 bills.

Not just at Christmas, but all through the year I ask the Postal clerk what kind of commemorative stamps they have. These are the ones other than the Flags or Liberty Bells, featuring historical and/or popular illustrations; some of my favorites have been Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Stewart, the state of Oklahoma, Desi and Lucy, Elvis and Henry Fonda. Commemorative don’t cost any more than the others and give a certain oomph to the envelope. Of course, one has to actually mail the letter or card for it to have the final polish of that cancellation mark.

Speaking of which, canceled stamps are a great embellishment for handmade cards, scrapbooking, altered books or any papercrafting project. There is an almost infinite variety of ones available and one begins to look at mail, even the junk mail with a whole new perspective.

This post linked to Frugal Fridays @ Life as Mom.


Filed under Altered Books, Crafts - Paper, Free, Thrift, Using What You Have

Some Family History & Shopping Locally

Both sides of my family have roots in small business. In the past it was groceries – the kind of stores that are now called “Mom & Pop”. My brother has always had his own business but is now retiring; my sister’s family has their own. Joe and I seem to be the only ones who’ve stayed solely in the corporate world.

My maternal grandfather had several different country stores – not at the same time – in western Kentucky. The last one was in Iuka; in 1937 there was a massive flood (I think 7 states were affected); when everything they had, including the store, stood under flood water for 2 weeks, he retired.

1937 flood at Iuka,Kentucky; White building is Sexton's 2 story grocery store

Bart Sexton at Sexton's Grocery, Los Angeles 1930s

My mother went to Arkansas briefly and worked in her cousin’s store in Wiener. Then a year in Texas and on to California to work in her Uncle Bart’s grocery store in Los Angeles.


Stella Sexton at Uncle Bart's store, Los Angeles circa 1939

There she met an attractive young man who would come in to buy a Coke. She said he would lean against the pop box and make one of those little 6 1/2 ounce Cokes last a long time. I can scarcely believe that Daddy was ever that shy, but he must have been because he got a friend to ask her if she would go out with him. Mama told Maxine that she couldn’t go out with him until he asked her. Daddy was back over there in 5 minutes. A few years later he proposed to her riggt before they went to the Rose Bowl parade and the rest is history. Well, family history, anyway.


Johnnie Edens at Mingo store,circa 1945

Eventually Daddy wanted to move back to Oklahoma. After a few years they bought the little store in Mingo that my Uncle Johnnie had built, but had gone through a couple of different owners by then. Even though poor by today’s standards, my parents were able to buy the business to provide a second income. People could do that sort of thing back then. My mother said that she let my 6 year-old brother mark the items which cost a nickel with a 5 and the cents sign. Now I don’t think you can even buy anything at a store for a nickel. This was about 1949. (Funny thing about that little frame building: it’s about the only structure left standing in Mingo after the airport bought everything and demolished the community.)


Then in 1970, my dad and brother quit their construction business to buy a grocery store and station across from the school in Mingo. Cortez Carnathan had built it a few years previously to replace his old wooden structure. It reminded me of Wally’s Filling Station in Mayberry. The new one was very modern looking with glass walls all along the front. It had several DX gas pumps (full service only, this was before self-service), a mechanics bay with a lift and a good sized grocery area. I was in high school and worked there off and on until it was sold a few years later.

It seems to me that I have a fairly good understanding of and sympathy for local businesses. I know that having his own business made the difference between scary lay-offs that Daddy had suffered at McDonnell Douglas Aircraft and finally, prosperity. He worked hard at that store, getting there to open at 6:00 a.m., washing down the concrete pad every morning; staying there all day until we closed at 8:00 p.m. But the day was not over until all the shelves were stocked and the floor swept and mopped. Every day. He was 61 years old when they bought it and I can’t imagine working that hard when I’m that age.

So, I have a real empathy for local business and try to shop at them whenever I can. There are bonuses for both the owner and me. The local hardware store here is a good example. A can of Bon Ami costs about 70 cents more there than it does at the IGA. But, when I called to ask the proprietor if she knew anyone locally that sold firewood, she said we could have all we wanted – free – from their acreage. They even gave us a key to the gate. My friend, Patti told me they opened up the store after hours one night for an emergency plumbing repair part that cost less than $5.00. Try getting a major chain to do that for you.

Now, we’ve bought a lot more in there over the years than merely tub cleanser. We’ve bought paint and plywood, a few gifts and some things for the kitchen. Joe buys as many car parts there as he can. We could get cheaper prices at Home Depot or Autozone – and we still shop at those stores when we can’t get it here, but we want our local store to stay in business. Home Depot is never going to build a store in this town, it’s too small. If we want the store to survive, we have to decide whether saving a few dollars is worth them going out of business because they can’t compete.

The produce stand down the road is struggling. Honestly I hadn’t shopped there in a good while, but I’ve started to again. Okay, their prices are a little higher on some things than the grocery store, but generally the quality is much higher. A few weeks ago I bought the best grapes there that I’ve ever had. When I was checking out, the owner gently pointed out that the cucumbers I’d bought were past prime and she asked if she could substitute 2 others. Then she said she’d give me the first ones if I wanted them. Joe was there buying some things one night about closing and she offered him a large bag (probably 5 pounds) of West Texas tomatoes for $2.00. They were good ones, just a little overripe. He came home and made some really wonderful hot sauce (salsa).

Now, I wish that all the local businesses were like that, but they aren’t. The feedstore owner doesn’t care if I shop there or not, so I usually don’t for anything but the occasional bale of hay. I had a really horrible experience at the local beauty shop and will never go back (I was with a friend who had just lost a son, and the yacky beautician would not shut up complaining about kids). The scrapbook store owner in a nearby town is so rude that she has a reputation as far as 50 miles away. Some of the shop owners in Decatur won’t even wait on me when I go in, so I don’t go back.

This is a mystery to me and I can guarantee you my dad wouldn’t have understood it. He was always polite to customers because he knew he wouldn’t have a business without them. As Dave Ramsey says, “If you’re not making money – it’s a hobby, not a business”. It took a lot for my dad to get cranky with a customer.

Local businesses are vital to a community. I’ve read that small business is the backbone of American employment.

All that said, I still love Wal-Mart; I’ve been shopping there for over 35 years. I can’t imagine all the money I’ve saved in that amount of time.

It’s so tres chic to denigrate Wal-Mart. And the funny thing about it is
that most of the critics I hear, shop at Target or buy Microsoft or pay way too much for a cup of coffee at Starbucks. You get the picture. The media, New York and California hate Wal-Mart and make the rest of us look like cousin-marrying rubes if we shop there.

Do they honestly believe that shopping at Costco instead of Sam’s makes them superior? One major corporation over another?

If major corporations are so evil, then maybe those critics should stop buying gasoline of any kind and walk everywhere. No more clothes unless they grown the cotton (no tractors) or wool and weave it themselves.

To sum it up: both small business and big business have vital roles in the American economy and life. I support them both.


Filed under 1930s, America, Current Events, Family, Kentucky, Mingo, Oklahoma, Thrift