Mary Beth Writes

(Thanks, KJR, for the funny fluffy chicken photo!) 

Other people call them “frugal things I did lately”. I call them Mindful Chickens because they are about:

  • Being Cheap (cheap, cheep).
  • Being thoughtful about how choices affect our community and our earth.
  • Paying attention to values and values.

I haven’t made a Mindful Chicken list in a long time. This Covid pandemic crisis and the racial injustice movement are so important. But here I am, at home, trying to live responsibly, carefully, and creatively Just like you. I made this list that might spark some of your ideas, too.

(This is my langorous Grand-dog, Berry.)

It’s HOT here in Wisconsin. It’s 80-90 degrees, the humidity is tropical, and the weather guys are saying it might be like this for two weeks. This is only fun for corn and tomatoes. Several of these frugal ideas are related to steamy weather.

1. Spread salt from our water softener stash on weeds in the cracks of the driveway. It doesn’t decimate weeds fast, but it slows them down while not giving anyone cancer. Len says this is like potato chips for birds.

 2. There’s just two of us and we drink one pot of coffee per day so how did we go through 17 mugs in one day? Paying more attention to our wastrel mug grabbing habit.

 3. Keeping one Gatorade (at a time) in the fridge so that when I come inside totally hot, I can grab it right away and sit down and drink some. Knowing the first thing to do when one is that hot slows down smash and grab craziness.

4. Making sun HERBAL tea. I like coffee in the morning and I don’t need caffeine in the evening. Cool tea is (almost) as nice with dinner as wine. Almost. Well, it’s cheaper and less calories.

5. Yeast is back to regular price, so I bought some. Bring on the cinnamon buns, MB!

6. Bought farro, buckwheat, cans of chickpeas, and barley. I discovered some low-to-no cook salad recipes and I’ve included the URL’s for the recipes below. (The Coronation Chickpea salad was behind a paywall, so I included it in full.) These salads are high in protein, less expensive than slabs of meat, delicious, and kind of show-offy… The Coronation chickpea recipe calls for chutney and almonds and dried apricots which is obvs, not inexpensive. But if you like curry flavors it’s awesome. It was invented for QEII’s coronation in 1953. Don’t let that put you off.

7. Needed plants under the hydrangea so I moved some oregano which is now growing gangbusters. Tried to thin and weed it only to discover that biting ants have moved in there. It’s been a while since I jumped up off the ground that fast.

8. I am trying to do fewer loads of laundry to save $ and water. I like a goal of doing less.

8.5  When I come in from walking or working super-duper sweaty, I take my hat into the shower with me. (I don't wear it...) Hang it on the front porch later and its dry by morning. 

 9. Was surprised that the $4 bar of Mrs. Meyers Clean Day Bar Soap we started using in March is not even half gone yet. I’m switching brands.

10. Our printer is old, and the black ink stopped printing. Len figured out it was the print head and ordered a new one for $150. He then installed it, thus saving a new printer for $350. My part in this was being clever enough to enough to marry him 39 years before the printer went askew.

11. We read to our granddaughter before her nap most days (while the baby is getting put down for HIS nap). She fell in love with a particular book from the library; I wanted to order it for her. An independent store had it; with shipping for $16. Amazon had it for $23! eBay had it for $4, including shipping. Comparison shopping from the sofa.

13. Rhubarb! A friend (Hi, Pat!) gave me three clumps of rhubarb two years ago and it’s grown like crazy. We’ve picked it five times so far this year, plus donated a clump to our son’s yard. Len has been making rhubarb buckles, OMG they are delicious. He made two extra fillings for the freezer for winter.

14. In March we couldn’t find bread flour, so we ordered 60 lbs from North Dakota Mills. With shipping it was the same price as premium bread flour at the store – if one could get it. Guys, we apparently ate 60 pounds of flour in four months! (We did share some flour and baked goods.) Just made another 60 lb order today. 

 15. We have the ice cream freezer attachment for our Kitchen-aid. Two cups of milk and/or cream and/or yogurt plus ½ of sugar makes 4 servings of ice cream which is just the right amount of fresh decadence.

  Yeah, that's just-made ice cream with rhubarb sauce.  And possibly a touch of chocolate sauce. 

Do you have any tips, clues, or strategies for living as happily as possible under quarantine when it's super hot?                                                                                                                                


The recipes: Tuna barley. We first ate this in Siena, Italy in 2001.

 Chicken buckwheat groats. Buckwheat is NOT wheat, it’s seeds from a plant that is a cousin to rhubarb, so this is gluten-free if you care. This would also be delicious with more veggies and no chicken.

 Coronation Chickpea Salad

2 tablespoons mild Indian curry paste. (I just used 1 T of curry powder)

3 1/2 cups chickpeas (from cans or make from scratch). Drain & rinse if using canned.

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

3 tablespoons Greek yogurt or sour cream

2 tablespoons mango chutney

3/4 cup celery, finely chopped, about 2 stalks

1/3 cup dried apricots, finely chopped

3/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted if desired (I desired…)

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Salt and pepper as needed.

I started with the wet ingredients, mixed them well, then put in the chickpeas and other ingredients. Makes four prudent sized servings, which we imprudently ate in less than one day.




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Frugality Hacks or how I saved $64,000,000, so far.

I read the ‘frugal things I did’ letters in other people’s huge and interesting frugality blogs. I figured I could list some of the ways I saved some money this week (this life). I’m pleased to say I saved about 64 Million.

Quarantine Diary #645 - Granola

Two recent tweets : Someone named Kate Harding tweeted; “What haunts me is that I am not just smart enough for so many people to be this much stupider than me.”

And from Di, Obstinate Hoper; “I’m starting to think of pandemic caution like labor: buckle down during peaks, relax a little between them. Hang in there, folks. It’s a damn long labor.”

Frugal? Road Trip to New Mexico

If our finances were stretched we wouldn’t have gone to New Mexico. We are doing fine despite the advice that says one ought to retire with a million dollars in the bank. Imagine that.

1. We and, at this point, about half the nation, have had our Covid vaccines so we felt safe and ready to see something new. However, we traveled to a place where they had worked WITH the effort to fight this pandemic. This limited our choices and is the #1 reason we didn’t go to the Badlands. How we spend $ is our power.

The Mindful Chickens are Wordy Today

Other people call them “frugal things I did lately”. I call them Mindful Chickens because they are about:

  • Being Cheap (cheap, cheep).
  • Being thoughtful about how choices affect our community and our earth.
  • Paying attention to the constant tumble of dollars and choices.

This is my collection of wise choices and dastardly schemes from the last two months.

ONE: Our electric toothbrush/water pick would no longer hold a charge but a new one costs more than $100. Len took it to the battery store where they replaced it for $15.

Mindful Chickens - Plastic & Hunger 12/20/2020

I went for a walk on Wednesday and saw this mitten on a sidewalk. When I was at the same spot on Friday, it was still there, so I brought it home because it is a hand-knitted kid mitten, ya know? Any knitters out there interested in making it a mate, so that we could give it to a kid in my community or your? It's 7" from top to ribbed bottom. 


The point of “Mindful Chickens” is to spend less money while being mindful of the environment and our human values. We can try, right?

Holy Mackerel! Mindful Chickens 12/12/2020

Yamiche and Weijia licking out the mackerel bowl this morning.


I said I would write “mindful things” we did this week. The agenda of “Mindful Chickens” is to spend less money plus be mindful of the environment and our other values at the same time. Sometimes, one of those purposes wins over the other, but we can think before we spend, right?

1. I cut my hair. This is not a particular skill of mine, but I can do it well enough to not look like the Pittsburgh Paint Dutch boy.

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