Mary Beth Writes

Mindful Chickens are (for people who don’t know why I call them this) about three things.

  1. Being Cheap (cheep, cheep).
  2. Being thoughtful about how choices affect our community and our earth.


Stuff we did (and didn’t do) this past week:

ONE - If you tend to have minor flooding/seepage in your basement during big rainstorms – go outside WHILE IT’S RAINING (I recommend an umbrella) and figure out where your gutters are over-flowing. In the big picture, clean your gutters or hire a service to do this. In the meantime put buckets under the vulnerable places. Our house painter (for weeks now) took a downspout off a section of our house. We put big orange Menards buckets along that area and collected 15 gallons of rain water this past week. That’s 15 gallons of water NOT trying to seep into the basement. 

TWO – Remembered to use the “frequent flyer” points from the grocery store when we filled the car’s gas tank. $.40 off per gallon.

THREE - Made hibiscus tea.  I have a bag of loose tea and I usually make it by putting 2T into my tempered glass French coffee press. Let it sit, squeeze it out, now I have gorgeous tea that I let sit on the kitchen counter; I drink it within a day or two – often mixed with sparking water.

But I was preoccupied when I made it yesterday and poured boiling water directly into a clear glass pitcher.  Yup, it cracked.  After the tea finished steeping I poured it in a different container and threw away the lovely but cracked pitcher. (Lovely but cracked? Am I getting too personal here?)

BUT since the pitcher was bought years ago at a Goodwill, this sad loss was manageable.

FOUR – Biggest savings? Happily living in this house that was priced 10’s of thousands of dollars cheaper than we assumed we would pay when we started looking. Also still content with one car instead of two. Cars and houses are easy places to buy out of one’s realistic comfort zone and we didn't do that. 

FIVE – Our son’s BFF since middle school is the manager of an apartment complex that was upgrading their patio sets - you know, small metal tables with 4 matching chairs? Son took two of the sets and later decided they only wanted one, so would we like one?

We would.

SIX – Len’s COBRA insurance from his last FT job runs out … yesterday. This summer he spent some aggravating mornings figuring out what to do from Sept 1 until his 65th birthday which is later this fall. Clever guy that he is, he knew the previous insurer paid for monthly medications every 28 days – so he made sure to have his September order in on August 28th and he picked up those meds yesterday, thus saving us one month of RX cost.

The politics of this is so unjust and unfair. Len doesn’t love to research insurance options, but it also doesn’t trip his heart-rate to do so. He is good at reading fine point quickly until he finds whatever is relevant to us. He owned his own business for ten years, they changed their insurer almost every year – which was a whale of a lot of paying attention to insurance options and surprises. He is pretty good at this and thus he used this hard-won skill to saved us a pile of $.

It is a scam that health insurance is this complicated and this expensive.

SEVEN – Argh, we need a happier note to close on.  I didn’t have a pony-tail holder when I was at the Y. The receptionist overheard me and gave me a one.  I now have one second-hand hair elastic. Ask and ye shall receive.





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Mindful Chickens – The “It’s been a while...” edition 1/18/2019

Other people call them “frugal things I did lately”.

I call them Mindful Chickens because they are about:

1. Being Cheap (cheap, cheep).

2. Being thoughtful about how choices affect our community and our earth.

3. Paying attention to the constant tumble of dollars and choices.

The Choosing Season

“Decision fatigue helps explain why ordinarily sensible people get angry at colleagues and families, splurge on clothes, buy junk food at the supermarket and can’t resist the dealer’s offer to rustproof their new car. No matter how rational and high-minded you try to be, you can’t make decision after decision without paying a biological price.”  (

The Arrows of Yore

I have a weird dark closet in the back of my soul. In it are critical things people have said to me in my life. I rarely consciously think about those old cuts and criticisms, but they are tucked in back there and sometimes I remember them uneasily.

Here are some of my particular arrows of yore:

“Can’t you do anything with her hair, Dorothy?” Dorothy was my mom. My dad liked his daughters’ hair to be curly and orderly, mine was straight and flyaway. I think I was in my 40’s before I realized OMG I do not have “problem hair”… whatever the hell that is.

Make Persimmon Cookies; Don’t make a Persimmon Life.

We are new subscribers to “Imperfect Produce” which is a service that delivers imperfect (duh) but safe and flavorful veggies and fruit to your house. This helps to keep “imperfect” produce from being wasted. (  I don’t get kickbacks from them.)

We are open-minded about trying new things to eat so when they included a pomegranate – cool. I enjoyed pomegranate, raisin, and walnut oatmeal I invented for myself.

Buy Angry

Frugality is a tool and a weapon. You can use it to be powerful.


Frugality and Privacy

 “If you aren’t paying for the product, you are the product.”

When one of our kids was 8-years old, Len thought it would be fun to let that kid drive his car. I swear - though I doubt you will believe me - no drinking was involved. Len just really believes in our kids and sometimes this turns into bigger adventures than one would expect.

Did I mention the car was in the garage so it needed to be backed out? Also, the child in question was too short to adequately reach the pedals.

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