Mary Beth Writes

In case you don't already know... My husband and I did a 15-day road trip to eastern Canada.  Kurt Vonnegut wrote “Unexpected travel is like dancing lessons from God.”  The plan was to visit Nova Scotia and Newfoundland – but then Hurricane Dorian changed that. Stories and photos at my website.

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.


1. I think this is our best travel tip/strategy.  It took a while for me to understand what we were doing, but it saved us hundreds of dollars, so if you might be traveling out of the country it might be helpful to you, too.

 First - We tried to figure out “roaming costs” on our Consumer Cellular plan. Then we gave up and called the service and the guy was super helpful. 

 He said when outside the US we should turn off ‘cellular’ in our settings. Without ‘cellular’ our phones would ONLY work with WIFI. He also sent us (free) chips that changed our carrier to a T-Mobile because it would work better in eastern Canada. This way if we wanted to use cellular (for Google Maps when we were lost) we could turn on the cellular and it would work. We did this less than one hour out of the whole trip and that charge was $20, which is why I think we saved hundreds.

 Tim Horton’s are everywhere in Canada and they have free WIFI.  Each afternoon we’d pull into a Tim Horton’s, park close to get the WIFI, look at motels for the town where we would stay that night and make online reservations.  Then we used Google Maps to get directions from where we were right then to the motel where we would land hours later. As long as you don’t erase those directions with further queries, the last set of directions you asked for stay in the app, even when it is not connected to WIFI.  So we didn’t have to turn Cellular back on to find our motel

 2.  We packed extra tasty sandwiches for lunches the first two days on the road. After that we ate peanut butter and banana sandwiches for most lunches.  Saved time, stress and money. 

 3. We had motel points plus we downloaded two motel chain apps. Used those points, garnered more points to get free and reduced prices. Always ate the breakfast when offered – so our average cost per night & breakfast was $75, even though most of the places actually charged north of $100.

 4. We like to wake up slow with a cup of good coffee in bed. Always have, always will. For this trip we bought a smallish drip coffee maker (it fit in my duffel bag) that makes coffee into a commuter cup. Voila! Waking up coffee plus coffee for the road saved us a BUNDLE.

 5. Our car is a hybrid. We got 38mpg.

 6. The point of this adventure was not to be frugal every minute of the trip. We ate out most evenings at wonderful local places. We bought some park entry and boat-ride tickets. We used our National Park Senior Passes, also. We hiked a lot and took a zillion photos. 

 8.  I used part of our adventures as a basis for a sermon I already preached once and am going to use again in a month. So, like, free anecdotes?

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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.

7-6-2020 Mindful QUARANTINED Chickens

(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:

Making (a little) Sense of Medicare by Len Lamberg

Friends learned recently that they are facing imminent retirement with the accompanying medicare and insurance decisions - that have to be made now and made right. They asked how we figured out what to do. I asked Len if he could write up what he knows in plain English - and thought this would take him 20 minutes.

This took Len several hours over several days.

Our friends say this makes more sense than anything else they have read so far.

Mindful Chickens - Clucking at the Stock Market

I started this a month ago. Time flies…

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 values and values.

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