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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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.

Who Let the Chickens Out?

Mindful Chickens i.e., being frugal and living by our values instead of by blithering consumerism is how this blog started. Yet I seldom post lists anymore about choices Len and I make that hit that marker because I can tell from who follows me that this is not why most of you are here.

But today I have a lot of things I want to accomplish. Preparing the Light Posts takes me a long time so I am not going to do one – I do plan to be back at it Monday.

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