Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Porky and Penny are on Hiatus

No, we haven't disappeared. But we have been busy elsewhere. So for the time being, we're taking a break from Fat and Frugal. Please visit us at our primary blog.

We'll be back when things settle down, so don't forget about us!

Porky and Penny

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Summertime, When the Living is Easy (and sometimes free!)

I love summer on several levels. First, my carpool duties are significantly less. Which I guess I can count as frugal since I save on gas costs. Better yet are the benefits to the food budget when some of my more industrious friends share the surplus from their gardens. I usually stay pretty well stocked with tomatoes and cucumbers and the like without having to break out my wallet. They taste better than the grocery store variety, too.

I also have more time to hit the Farmers' Market for local produce and vegetables, which puts it into the healthy living category as well. 

Now, if I would just learn how to can like my grandmother used to do it, I would be even better off.

Penny (who is doubling as Porky today, too)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Pest-free, Naturally!

It's summertime, and most of us are dealing with summer critters. It's one thing to see them outside where they belong, but it's quite another to have them running rampant inside where they apparently think they belong. If they're inside and troublesome, then you have to figure out a way to get rid of them, and it would be nice to do so without poisoning the entire family in the process.

This article reveals nontoxic ways to get rid of pests safely. The methods utilize common household items and ingredients (well, maybe not the stale beer!) and are relatively cheap. The highlights of the article:

1. ANTS (thankfully, MOST of the ants here are currently content outside)

Vinegar, straight or diluted, to eliminate the trails

Cinnamon or black pepper, dusted on the ants' nests

Borax added to sugar, starting out with only a small amount of borax so the ants will take it back to their nests. Gradually increase ratio.

Baby powder or talcum powder, dusted on the ants/trails

Liquid soap diluted with water; can be used as spray outside

Bay leaves, cloves, or cayenne pepper, placed at entry point

Peppermint, sprayed around home's perimeter and at ants' entry point


Remove ripe fruit droppings and take out the trash so they can't lay eggs!

Apple cider vinegar, poured in a glass with a paper funnel to attract FF but prevent them from finding their way out

Cheap wine mixed with a bit of detergent in a glass.

Fly paper, which you can make by boiling water, sugar, and corn syrup together and spreading on paper bags.

Basil oil mixed with water; spray around kitchen.

Old hair dryer, used for sucking up (through the back). Oh boy.


Soda bottle trap (neat idea!) - cut off top 1/3 of the bottle; invert top (going into remainder of bottle) and tape in place. Fill bottle part way with soda or fruit juice. Wasps go in and stay.

Remove nest (at night and carefully!!!). Read more for details.


Stale beer, grape juice, or a tea made from yeast, honey, and water, poured into small bowls and set around wherever they're being pests.


Years ago, when we lived in an area with a flea problem (regardless of the type of flea collar the dogs wore), I mastered the art of flea-picking. Impressive, I know. I learned that if I squirted some Dawn dish detergent into a glass of water, fleas would sink to the bottom immediately. I mentioned that to our vet's receptionist not long ago, and she said they recommend bathing dogs with Dawn dishwashing detergent (I used the original blue liquid), letting the lather sit for a few minutes, then rinsing off. That helps gets rid of fleas already present; an application of Frontline Plus (what we use), etc., should help keep them off. This might work on ticks, too, but they're in a class by themselves. Blech.

Green, pest-free (wannabe, anyway) Penny

PS - If you know additional pest-control tactics, please share them!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Got Chocolate? Not Sure...

I got the coupon for a chocolate bar today!!!

I would show it to you or at least quote from it, but I'm not sure where hubby put it after retrieving the mail, which he got with a smile on his face. I thought it was just because he's usually working and not home when the mail comes.

Hmmm.... Come to think of it, I do believe he claimed he had an errand to run.


Penny and Porky, cause they're in this chocolate thing together

Friday, June 19, 2009

Very Berry Bake

Hubby brought home big bags of frozen blueberries and strawberries from Sam's, along with a package of Pillsbury pie crusts. He donned his chef's hat, and what he whipped up was easy (especially since I didn't do it!) and tasty.

Ignore pan; definitely not Martha Stewart here...

The fruit used can vary in all kinds of ways - fresh, single fruit instead of a combo, etc. This is just what he used. Today, anyway :)

Very Berry Bake

1 pkg Pillsbury pie crusts (2 pie crusts)
8 cups frozen blueberries
8+ cups frozen strawberries
1 tbsp corn starch for each 4 cups of fruit (he used 5 tbsp because of extra strawberries)
1 tbsp stevia for each 8 cups of fruit (he used 2 tbsp)

1. Thaw out fruit, blueberries in one bowl, strawberries in another.
2. Place one pie crust in bottom of baking pan (9 X 12, etc) and bake at @ 400 for @ 22 minutes (until brown).
3. Place half the corn starch and half the stevia into pan (he used a large skillet); heat and stir until the mix has dissolved. Add just enough fruit juice (there was plenty from the blueberries) or water to keep it 'liquidy' - @ 1/4 cup should be plenty.
4. Add blueberries to the mix, stirring well to a boil until it thickens. Pour in pan over the baked crust.
5. Put the remainder of the corn starch and stevia into the pan; heat and stir until the mix has dissolved. Add just enough fruit juice or water to keep it 'liquidy' - @ 1/4 cup should be plenty.
6. Add strawberries to the mix, stirring well to a boil until it thickens. Pour in pan over the blueberries.
7. Place second pie crust on top of the berry mix and bake at @ 400 for @ 22 minutes (until lightly browned).
8. Let cool.
9. Go get ice cream if you don't already have some (just kidding. We didn't have any and still managed just fine!).

This picture doesn't do justice and, in fact, looks a bit gory,
but it's pretty and delicious in real life!


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Time Well Spent

Months ago, I made hotel reservations for a family vacation that will span several states. The total cost made me swoon. Thankfully, I was able to do something about it this week.

I went to each hotel's web site and pretended to make a new reservation using the same information as before. I soon found that four of the hotels have dropped their rates. So I got on the phone and talked to someone at each of those hotels. It took only a matter of minutes for my reservation to be adjusted to reflect the lower price.

The whole process only took about 15 minutes and it saved me more than $200.

In my world, that was time well spent!


Friday, June 12, 2009

A, B, C, D, E, F, G Stamps!

I started saving stamps long ago when it seemed like a fun, cheap hobby. I merely removed them from envelopes for years, then I started saving a new one from each sheet when it looked like my daughter might be interested. Lots of neat stamps appeared, and even though K didn't have enough interest to put them in a book, either, she enjoyed looking at them every now and then and used quite a few for various school projects.

I am slightly manic when I see a clean, inadvertently uncanceled stamp arrive in the mail. It used to be as good as finding a penny on the ground or in a pocket, but now it's as good as finding 44¢ anywhere, and that's well worth my time to salvage them for reuse. As long as the tape securing the used stamp(s) to the envelope doesn't cover the entire stamp surface and the postage is correct, it's as good as a new stamp!

In my little stash of stamps, however, are those unmarked 'rate change' stamps. It's fine to use them when they're new, but unless you're efficient enough to note their value (I wasn't), it's probably impossible to remember what they're worth. With pennies even tighter than they have been, I figured I'd be spending some time online trying to match them up so I could use them. It was never a priority, as it seemed like a hassle and not one that was worth my time.

My dilemma was solved this morning, though, when the Frugal for Life newsletter came in with a site that does just that! On Alphabetilately: G is for G stamp, the stamps are pictured with issue dates and value; it's about as easy as it gets, and I'm all for easy.

Off to find some tape and something to mail....

Penny2 and Porky2 (cause I signed up for that free chocolate... so I could report, of course)

Free Chocolate Friday

Chocolate AND free. Are there any two sweeter words??? Every Friday, the first 250,000 to sign up on this site will get a coupon for free chocolate under the "Mars Real Chocolate Relief Act." You have to wait six weeks for the coupon, but it will still be free!

Penny (cause it's free) and Porky (cause it's chocolate)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Life in Reverse

Too much closet clutter? Are you spending money on clothes you don't need? Clutter costs time and money. Try using the reverse hanger trick.

Turn all the hangers in your closet backward. As you wear an item, turn its hanger back in the correct direction. After six months, you'll have a good idea of which clothes you are wearing and which ones are just taking up space. Then would be a good time to make a sizable donation to charity (and collect a tax deduction!).


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Stimulus Tuesdays... sorta, Part 2

Thanks to Frugal for Life for some cheap and easy movie ideas!

Every Summer the local movie theater chains have summer kids movies for cheap.... I have already verified with the theaters that it is ok if an adult comes w/out a kid.

Regal Theater has a free family movie festival starting in June through August - Selected G & PG movies start at 10AM each Tuesday and Wednesday during the festival. Check the state selector for any theaters in your area.

AMC Theaters bargain movies aren't free, but for $1 I can give to charity - All admission proceeds from AMC Summer MovieCamp will benefit Variety – The Children's Charity and the Will Rogers Institute. Their movies are twice a month during the summer.

For the best deals on movie rentals I find the following places the best:
1. The Library - new releases, old classics, documentaries and foreign films are all here.

2. Swapping w/ friends - One of my co-workers always buys his movies, never rents and he is kind enough to let trusted friends borrow them.

3. Redbox - For a dollar you can't beat it and if you have one of the free codes it is even better

4. Online Movies - Websites like Hulu offer movies free, documentaries can be found at places like Snag films among other free video sources. And if you feel technical enough, you could hook up a laptop to the tv set and watch it on a bigger screen.

5. Movie subscriptions - I'm not a big fan because I always seem to get the scratched ones, but if you have a subscription through Netflix or Blockbuster you can easily rent movies for 2.50 a piece or cheaper, depending on your subscription plan.

6. Finally, catching the big fish is getting free tickets to public screening of a movie that has yet to come out. For these you want to check with your local theater if you live near a larger Metro area or, try searching free offer websites or just search online for public screenings.


Stimulus Tuesdays

Tuesdays are the day to head to any of Carmike Cinemas' 250 theaters. On "Stimulus Tuesdays," all 16-ounce drinks and 46-ounce popcorns are sold at the bargain basement price of $1 apiece. They'll even drown your corn in butter. Can't beat that.

I took the bait this afternoon and invited three young friends to join me for a showing of the Pixar movie Up. Loaded down with our dollar refreshments, we settled in with our 3D glasses. I was surprised that we were shown four previews of 3D movies. I guess this is a trend.

The movie itself was superb. The main character is a 78-year-old man who sets out to fulfill a lifelong dream. I won't say anything else for fear of giving something way. But it has to be one of the best Pixar movies to date - and that's saying something.

Up was definitely worth the price of admission, especially on Stimulus Tuesday.


Monday, June 8, 2009

Flax for Free

Wanna make Porky's One-Minute Flax Muffin but you're short on flax? Check out this link for a free sample. You have to call, but hey, it's free!



One-Minute Flax Muffin (edited to correct the recipe!)

Thanks to Jaymie for letting me know to add the baking powder to the recipe below. That might help explain why no one asks ME to bring anything to family gatherings. Hmmmm....

This is a recipe highly recommended by my sister-in-law, Jaymie. I just got the recipe last night and can't wait to try it, but since I need to procure some of the ingredients first, I'm passing it on now!

One-Minute Flax Muffin

1/4 cup flax meal (4 T)*
1/2 tsp baking powder
Fiberfit sweetener (or 1 packet Splenda)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 egg
1-2 tsp butter

*NOTE: Jaymie uses 1/8 cup flax and 1/8 cup chia meal (and, no, she's not sprouting anything)

1. Mix the dry ingredients in a large coffee cup.
2. Add egg and butter; mix well.
3. Microwave for 1 minute.
4. Muffin pops right out!

Slice in half and butter or use cream cheese frosting.

Calories - 265
Fat - 23
CHO - 9
Fiber - 8
Protein - 11

NOTE: I plan to substitute stevia (we use Sweet Leaf Stevia Plus) for Splenda since we have it but will also look into the Fiberfit sweetener.

NOTE #2, for those who might not read the comments: Jaymie gets chia seeds and meal at netrition.com. She mentioned it because I was unable to find chia meal today at a local store that carries an impressive assortment of natural and uncommon foods.


Saturday, June 6, 2009

Good Cents for College Students

Our son M recently graduated from college, returning immediately as a graduate assistant. With this transition came a move from the dorm into an apartment near campus, which he's sharing with J, a fellow new coach. J plans to stick around longer than M, so J rented the apartment; M has a bedroom and bathroom, which is located in the hall and also houses the washer/dryer. Fun. 

As we are all struggling to save money, M offered to bring a card table and 4 folding chairs for the kitchen because M is easy to satisfy, but J insisted he wanted to get something 'nice.' They're still waiting, as J wants not only 'nice' but NEW, and NEW costs money.

When M came home for a weekend visit, he and I hit Goodwill in the neighboring county (we don't have one in our own). It was a productive trip in the way of kitchenware, as was the trip to Big Lots. He was happy with the new treasures because he could at least fix food even if he didn't have a place to eat it. We procured a dresser from our local Freecycle (more about that below), and he found a used washer and dryer through Craigslist.

Meanwhile, daughter K moved into a little rent house with her best friend from school. It's an old house, so K feels quite at home (we've been in an old farmhouse for 13+ years) and doesn't want anything new, either. The house was mostly furnished, but there were some things missing - a dresser (found one at a thrift store for $30) and some kitchen stuff. She happily took furniture stored in my mother's basement and items that long ago would have been headed for the local thrift shop.

M lives in a small community, while K is only 20 minutes away in a nice-size town which boasts Goodwill, Salvation Army, and a Freecycle group, for starters (i.e., both can benefit). If you've never heard of Freecycle, it's well worth an investigation! In a nutshell, it is a community of folks who want to get rid of items for FREE. They can be left over from a yard sale, found in a closet, too big to haul to the dump, even in need of repair, if there's a heads-up. They just must be free. The person who gets the items must pick up, so it's a wonderful way to clean out (hint, hint to self). In addition, members can request items to see if anyone might have what they need lying around. New members are required by at least some groups to post an offer before they post a request, but if they'd like an item 'offered' before they request, they can reply. 

One positive effect of this sagging economy will surely be an increased resourcefulness, and I think our kids are in relatively great shape. They have heads on their shoulders and are trying to be frugal from the beginning, which is a good thing.

And while we hope to share some good tips with you, we're also eager to hear some from you!


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Coins Count

When it comes right down to it, ole Ben Franklin was right: A penny saved is a penny earned. True, a penny was worth a tad more in Ben's day than ours, but the premise still holds true.

Coins count. If you've never tried coin collecting (of the non rare variety), you might be in for a surprise. At our house, a change jar sits ready and waiting. All year, we drop change in at the end of the day. A few weeks before vacation, we dump the jar and check the loot. We're usually surprised. We've found as much as a few hundred dollars in there, ready for us to roll and take to the bank to exchange for some paper money. Even if it's just $30, that's lunch money.

As a rule, we don't pay with coins. And in the end, they pay us.

Try it - you might be surprised!


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

There's Nothin' Quite Like the Taste of a Garden Hose

Well, here we are, Porky and Penny, dabbling in a blog that centers around two of our most persistent challenges: fat (too much) and money (too little). Somehow we'd like to switch those around... or at least balance them out in some way.

While we have divided the sidebars into Porky's (food/recipes/weight and more) and Penny's (money/frugality/tips and more) and will be adding resources as we find good ones, we'd love to hear tips from YOU!

We'll also be throwing in jewels like this article, which describes a new obesity surgery technique (only performed in studies at the present) that involves snaking a tube as thick as a garden hose down the throat to snap staples into the stomach. Boy, that sounds fun. 

According to the article, risks include perforation of the esophagus, but a surgeon who has performed it claims there are no major complications. A perforated esophagus sounds pretty major to me.

An interesting finding so far?  Some study patients have lost weight after unknowingly undergoing fake procedures — sedation and the tube, but no stapling. Results comparing them with the real thing aren't yet available.

How about just letting me think I'm going to get a garden hose down my throat if I don't shape up? That would probably straighten me up in a jiffy.


Monday, June 1, 2009

Coming Soon!

Tips on how to shrink the budget without expanding the waistline ...