Published Weekly by Randal Watkins
June 13, 2002


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Summer Musings

Community Greens

Drinking Yourself To The Poor House







I am so grateful for your encouraging words that you have been so kind to take the time to write. Often as an ezine editor, you wonder, “Am I really filling a need?” Your compliments have really helped me to realize the answer is, Yes! Thanks!

I have been excited about how well you give contributions and your participation in the ezine. Your contributions make this ezine special. This issue has provided me with some very good ideas on improving the soil for my Dogwood tree. Thanks to all of you for sending me ideas.

I’m really grateful that a question can be presented and within days I have responses that can help someone out of a dilemna. This truly is a caring group and I am honored to be a part of such an awsome experience.

Let me know if you have any ideas for improvement. Look forward to hearing from you. Remember to post your questions/answers to our new bulletin board. You can find directions here.

Until next week!
Randal Watkins



My wife and I hosted a Life Group in our home doing a workbook to encourage Christian growth. The group breaks for the summer since there are way to many options for gatherings. Now we’re looking around for ideas on another workbook that will get the message of frugal living into others. The one we’re considering is: “Simpler Living, Compassionate Life” Has anybody done this? It’s hard to find a book on simple living that has study group ideas. My wife has been reading through this one and gets real excited at the thought of turning more folks towards a simpler lifestyle. Here’s a synopsis of the book:

“In a rare collection of voices, Henri Nouwen, Cecile Andrews, Richard
Foster and others examine how voluntary simplicity can enrich your path to
wholeness and abundance. Contemplative readings blend with practical
suggestions to encourage you on the journey. Simpler Living, Compassionate
Life includes a study guide for a life-changing four-, six- or eight-week
course for groups or individuals.”

Wish you could join our group in the Fall! Here’s the book: HREF=”http://service.bfast.com/bfast/click?bfmid=2181&sourceid=39683264&bfpi
d=1889108626&bfmtype=book”> Simpler Living, Compassionate Life

The Dollar Stretcher – by Gary Foreman

It’s summer. When the days are long and lazy. And you have time to think
about unusual things…

Recently I glanced at some notes that my wife was taking. She had written
‘reflected’, but due to my “getting-older” eyesight it looked as if she had
written “deflected”. That completely changed the meaning of her notes. The
dictionary gives multiple definitions for reflection. Among them is
“efficiently reflecting light, heat or radiation”. A second one talks about
thinking deeply about a subject.

Some people seem to reflect opportunity. Taking the time to think allows
them to see possibilities clearly and explain them to others in a way that
makes sense. They make the most of what comes to them.

On the other hand, other people have an uncanny knack for deflecting
opportunity. Even when they’re in the right place at the right time
something always comes up to prevent them from cashing in on good fortune.
Somehow good things bounce off of them.

How can you become a “reflector”? The first thing is to hang around
reflectors. They’re the ones who seem to be “lucky”. The next thing is to
build some time into your busy schedule to think. Henry Ford said that
thinking was hard work and that’s why so few engaged in it. Old Henry was a

Speaking of opportunity, here in Florida we have a state lottery. The state
has purchased billboards that stress the size of the current jackpot. It’s
usually in the $10 million dollar range. I know that they’re trying to get
people thinking that the jackpot is an opportunity.

But, I can’t help looking at that big number a little differently. I know
that they pay out less than they take in. So to pay out $10 million,
they’ll need to collect somewhere in the neighborhood of $14 million. What
that means is that my chance of winning the whole jackpot is much less than
one in 10 million. Pretty long odds. I know that a ticket is only a buck.
But it sure seems like a waste to me.

Guess maybe I’m especially frustrated because that’s not the only way that
the lotto is misleading. People voted for the lottery because they were
told that the money raised would all go to education. No more trouble
paying for schooling. You guessed it. Years later we’re still scrambling
for school money. And now we’re starting to see people with addictive
gambling problems.

On the other side of the coin every so often you hear something that really
rings true. Here’s one. “Opportunity only knocks once, but temptation leans
on the doorbell.” Unfortunately, I don’t know who said it, so I can’t give
them credit. But they’ve spoken the truth. Most of us only get a certain
number of real significant opportunities in our lives.

Temptation, however, is always around us. Temptation to cut corners. To
just sit back and let someone else do the work. To avoid the risk that
comes with opportunity. It’s funny. If you study people who have had large,
public failures they usually didn’t make one very big, very bad decision.
Mostly they made a small, bad decision. Then followed it up with another
small, bad decision. And kept doing that until the consequences of those
decisions built up and came crashing down on them.

The morale of the story? Everyone will give in to temptation some time.
That’s just being human. But when you’re going the wrong way, turn around
as quickly as possible. Although it’s easier said than done, don’t make a
habit of giving in to temptation.

On a whole different path, I admit that I get a kick out of the ads for
psychics. Often there’s a disclaimer that says their advice is for
‘entertainment purposes only’. Of course it’s in small print. Much more
prominently displayed are promises that they’ll help you find the right
mate, riches and happiness.

I’ve got a couple of questions for them. If they can see the future, why
don’t they buy tomorrow’s winning stocks today. Then they’d have plenty of
money and could offer their services for free. Wouldn’t that be a better
way of helping people with their special abilities?

Or how about this. When you call in they’ll ask for your birth date and
credit card number so that they can charge for their services. If they know
so much why do they need to ask? Maybe I’m just being too hard on them. But
it would seem like divining someone’s age would be easier than predicting
how their love life is going to turn out.

Ah, well. It’s time for another iced tea and more summer contemplation.
Gary Foreman is a former Certified Financial Planner who currently edits The
Dollar Stretcher website You’ll find hundreds
ofarticles to help stretch your day and your dollar.


How to Have More Garden for Less Money

This is one of those wonderful Rodale organic gardening books. My dreams outweigh my budget when it comes to gardening, so this book has been well used in our home. The author shows how you can become a savvy gardener, saving money on retail purchases, recycling found objects into garden art, and how to get new life from old tools. The price of this book is an investment for a return of hugh dividends of food, flowers, fun, and beauty!
d=0875968015&bfmtype=book”> The Frugal Gardener: How to Have More Garden for Less Money


Are you a frugal city dweller envious of your friends in the suburbs with
their big backyards? Do you want to make a difference for birds and city
critters but don’t seem to have enough “green space” to make a difference?

Community Greens is a new program that will help city dwellers create shared
green space inside their blocks. Read more:


by Donna Watkins – Editor of A Touch of Nature

Our bodies need water! Our bodies are made up of 70% water and we need to
flush out the old and put in the new. Drinking sodas and coffee and iced
tea does not do the same thing as water.

When we began living frugally, one thing that went was all the beverages
other than water. It was amazing how much money we saved! We took water
with us when we went shopping or traveling and it seemed that giving up all
those drinks we bought at the grocery store or while driving about added up
to enough to provide more travel time.

Water is better for you than any other beverage and if you don’t like the
taste, you can pay for a water purifier pretty quickly when you consider
these prices:

Diet Snapple 16oz $1.29 = $10.32 per gallon
Lipton Ice Tea 16oz $1.19 = $9.52 per gallon
Gatorade 20oz $1.59 = $10.17 per gallon
Ocean Spray 16oz $1.25 = $10 .00 per gallon
Evian water 9oz for $1.49 = $21.19 per gallon

$21.19 FOR A GALLON OF WATER! ….and from what Consumer Reports says,
sometimes our tap water is better than the bottled. Yikes! Is bottled
water pure or is it hype? Here’s a link to the online version of NRDC’s
petition to the FDA and results of the 4-year study of the bottled water
industry, including its bacterial and chemical contamination problems.
http://www.nrdc.org/water/drinking/bw/bwinx.asp href=”http://www.nrdc.org/water/drinking/bw/bwinx.asp”>

If you’d like to read why it’s important to drink water and find a link to
an article on “Why I Don’t Drink Sodas,” visit this site:

Have a family meeting. Decide together to stop guzzling the money guzzling
beverages and find a way to enjoy good-tasting, thirst-quenching water.
Your body and pocketbook will thank you!

Check out Donna’s free email newsletter: “A Touch of Nature”

FRUGAL TIPS – From Our Subscribers

I found this recipe for a prewash spot remover in one of my cookbooks. I thought what the heck I have tried everything else to get grease and dirt off of husbands clothes, I figured what have I got to lose. Here it is:
1 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup Wisk ( I use Purex liquid)
1/2 cup ammonia
1/2 cup water.
Mix this in a spray bottle and enjoy. For really bad spots you may want to let it set for about 10 min. I hope this helps save some money. Making this has saved me a lot rather than buying the commercial pre wash. – Lee D.


As soon as I buy a new box of fabric softener sheets, I immediately take
them all out and cut them in half. Then, return them to the box. I see no
difference in softness whether I use a half sheet or a whole one, and they
last for twice as many loads of laundry! — Ruth


Teach a man to farm organically and he’ll eat for a lifetime — a day
in the life of Harry Rhodes, Growing Home — in our Dear Me section


After looking around the internet for some lawn care ideas I came across
this site: http://www.cleanwaterservices.org

Iff you look under “To do my part” for a section called “Stream-Friendly
Home and Yard Care” – There are some pretty good recipes for yard care:
Fertilizer – Insect control – Weed control – and a lawn seed recipe
that helps you water less.

This will put more green in both your lawn and your wallet.. – Steve


Research links 80% of disease to stress. What a man thinks, is who he is.
Here’s a book offering life-changing knowledge that identifies emotional roots and thought patterns of many diseases.


Q. I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed this article. I do
almost all of the paper recycling ideas she mentioned. We compost and
recycle paper, plastic, alum cans tin cans and cardboard. I went on a
vacation and couldn’t recycle and it felt terrible! All that garbage… I
was amazed at how much garbage I created. Where can I buy recycled paper
products like toilet paper and paper towels? I know they’re available via
the mail but the shipping is so high… Does anyone know of a grocery chain
or discount store that carries these recycled products?

Q. Does anyone know how to make throw pillows fro childrens t-shirts? I
want to use my grandsons team shirts and don’t quite know how to start?
Thanks – Franny

Please post your questions/answers to our new bulletin board. You can find directions here.


Q. When I get flowers from a florist, they include a little packet of powder
that makes them last and look good for so very long. Surely there’s a simple
answer to this. Does anyone else in this frugal community know how to make
your own powder? I like to gather wildflowers and would like for them to
last longer. Thanks! Dee W

Had such a good response I have made a new page at
https://www.thefrugallife.com/thefrugallife/flower.html href=”https://www.thefrugallife.com/thefrugallife/flower.html”>

Q. I want to ask if any of you know what to do with soil that is holding
water. I planted a dogwood tree 3 months back and saw it was doing poorly
and when I removed it I had to “ring the roots out.” Everytime I watered it
and fed it the liquids were choking the roots.

I want to put a dogwood in the same place but I really don’t know what to do
with that much standing water except to build it up with a berm. Do any of
you have any ideas on the subject?

Thanks for all the response, I have a new page at
https://www.thefrugallife.com/thefrugallife/soil.html with all the answers. href=”https://www.thefrugallife.com/thefrugallife/soil.html”>

Q. I use olive oil for a moisturizer on my skin. It does a great job and I
get compliments all the time. I would like to use an essential oil in it to
keep it from going rancid. Right now I’m using Sandalwood because I like
the smell. I’d like to use one that would also benefit my skin. What
essential oil will do that? I tend to have dry skin, not oily. Anybody
know? Thanks! — Lee

A. There really isn’t anything to add to olive oil to prevent it from going
rancid. I’d suggest storing it in the refrigerator between use. You can
pour a few drops into a shotglass and allow it to warm to room temperature
if you don’t want to use it cold.

A. Just wanted to answer the question of what to put in olive oil for the
skin, anywhere from 2 to 6 drops of essential oil of lavender is great for
the skin, helps with wrinkles and the fragrance is calming. Good luck.

Q. Also, I live in NY and we are having a serious drought in the tri-state
area. Just wondering if there are any flowers which I can plant that
require little maintenance and water.

A. We in Maryland are serevely effected by drought as well. Good news is
that there are many beautiful flowers – all perenials, that do wonderfully.
Try purple coneflower (echinacea), it flowers from mid-June through August
or later, is about 4 feet tall and the seeds are loved by goldfinches. Our
state flower is another lovely hardy one – the black-eyed-susan. Last year
I was given several other plants that have done very well – sberian iris,
yarrow (red and yellow). Even lambs ear does well. I think the most
important thing I have done is mulched around the plants well. I also use
“gray-water” (water from the dehumidifier, left in the tub after the kids,
or from rinsing clothes) to water my plants and trees. KB

Q. With the latest can openers making it possible to remove the tops of
cans with no sharp edges, I hate to throw the lids away. (I’m a pack rat..)
Does anyone have any ideas of what I could do with these lids? – Vonnie

A. To the lady who has sharp can lids – I too had bought a can opener that
left sharp edges. My kids seem to be able to operate the sharp edge
producing one better – which seems ridiculous considering the safety issues
and kids in the kitchen! My solution is to have two can openers. When
opening the can creating a sharp edge do not remove the lid completely.
Discard with the can. The lids with smooth edges can be used for Christmas
decorations or cute little photo holders with magnets. Check out recycling
projects on the web. If you have removed the lid, just toss it in the
bottom of the can and voila it’s gone! never to bother you again. Resist
the urge to keep it – you’ll likely get cut! RS

A. You can make a great mobile for your garden…it’s pretty and I hear the
shiny metal keeps birds out of fruit and veggie gardens.

A. Vonnie, recycle them. I am a recovering pack rat. Some things really
are garbage. Recycle them. Do not collect them. Recycle them. You’re
family will appreciate this. Take a deep breath, look at some other piles
of clutter and RECYCLE THEM! from Beverley, a recovering pack rat


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Watkins, or the TFL staff be liable for any damages whatsoever resulting
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There is no remuneration for suggestions, tips, or ideas submitted by
readers. All suggestions, tips, and ideas, submitted for publication in The
Frugal Life, become the property of The Frugal Life, notwithstanding similar
rights of the reader submitting such suggestions, tips, or ideas. TFL
publishes readers’ names with their suggestions, tips, and ideas unless a
reader requests otherwise at the time of the submission.