Do it yourself

Drain Flies

I thought I had fruit flies.

But there’s no fruit outside of a can. No produce on the counters or in the trash. So where are these little black fruit fly things coming from?

The kitchen sink drain is where. Tiny bits of vegetation languishing in the trap. Don’t ask me why the flies don’t drown, but they don’t.

To get rid of them, the drain must be completely cleared. An inexpensive way to do this is with baking soda and vinegar.

Put 3/4 cup baking soda down the drain (both drains if it’s a double sink), encouraging it to fall in by stirring it with a fork or spoon. Then pour on half a cup of vinegar. It will boil and spit, so move your face away. When it settles down, pour more vinegar. Keep doing that until all the boiling noise is from down inside the pipes, not up in the visible drain area. Leave it alone for an hour or so and then flush with plenty of hot water.

This also works well for clearing a partially blocked drain.



A Penny Saved . . .

is more complicated than it used to be.

I remember when I could take a bag of coins to the bank and they would count and roll them for me. Not so much anymore. Some banks charge for this, others won’t do it at all.

Coinstar kiosks in stores will magically roll them for you, but they take a percentage. Luckily you can get around this by accepting one of their gift card options instead of cash. This only works if you shop at a place they offer a gift card for.

When my husband had a vending business, we just rolled the coins ourselves. It’s not hard, and no more tedious than folding laundry; easy to do while watching TV.

Temporary Fix

I forget now who it was, but someone I knew long ago had two TVs. One had no sound and one had no picture (this was in the olden days of CRT-style TVs.) They put one on top of the other, tuned them to the same channel, and had the full TV experience for a while instead of having to rush out and go into debt to buy a new TV.

To me, this is immensely smart. Certainly there comes a time when you need to buy a new (or new-to-you) whatever-it-is, but if there’s a temporary fix that prevents going into debt, why not?


Reinstall the Drivers

For a panicked moment I thought I would have to buy a new laptop. There was no audio, not on any page. I plugged in the headphones; still no audio.

I Googled “no audio on HP laptop.” Several sites told me to reinstall the audio drivers. One of them was detailed enough that I could easily do it. Voila! audio.

Something similar happened when the printer wouldn’t print. After quite a bit of research I read about reinstalling the printer drivers, and sure enough, it worked.


Time to Trade and Test Seeds

You don’t have to have a big yard to grow some of your food and herbs. Pots on the porch or balcony will do fine for parsley, oregano, onions, all those relatively small plants.

If you do have room for a full garden, there are ways to do it less expensively. Maybe there’s a gardeners’ group in your area where people trade their extra seeds, and you won’t have to buy so many.

The frugal gardener knows that last year’s seeds are still good this year if they have been stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Indeed, mine were just in the cupboard, and they stayed good until the next year.

To test them just before planting time, lay ten seeds in between two paper towels and keep them moist. If at least seven of the ten sprout, the seeds are good. In 2013, I planted 2012’s onion seeds and they grew nicely.

You can make compost in a covered five gallon bucket. I’ve done it. Start with a layer of dirt, such as topsoil or garden dirt. Add a layer of kitchen scraps, stir it into the dirt and get the whole thing wet. Stir it every day and keep it damp but not soggy. Add more scraps and more dirt as the scraps become available. Stop adding scraps while there’s still room to stir the compost. You do have to keep stirring it daily even once it’s full. Over time, the scraps will break down into nutritious compost. You can use raw vegetable peelings, coffee grounds, crushed and crumbled eggshells, and dried grass clippings and leaves. Don’t use bones, meat, grease, or cooked foods.



Save on Sprouts

You can make sprouts at home for a fraction of what they cost at the store. You need the seeds of whatever you want to sprout, a glass jar, cheesecloth, and water. Put a teaspoon of seeds in a small glass jar. Stretch cheesecloth over the top and secure it with a rubber band. Add water and soak the seeds for twelve hours. Pour off the water and set the jar on a sunny windowsill. Rinse and drain every day. When you have a jar full of sprouts, store in the refrigerator.

Directions for sprouting are widely offered on the Internet, including at Alfalfa sprouts are an old standby. I’ve also seen broccoli, onion, and kale sprouts.


For more ways to save, see my book Frugal Living for the 21st Century

Plenty of Fish



No algorithm in its right mind would have matched my late husband and I. On the metrics they use, we were irrelevant to each other. On the metrics that can’t be measured in a questionnaire, we were a perfect match. We met pre-internet, back in the olden days.

Internet dating is becoming the norm. You can pay a monthly fee for the big sites that use computer constructs to find people who will be well suited to you. And maybe they will. On the other hand, for frugal dating, there’s a good, free, site called POF tied for second place in Consumer Reports’ survey.

As with any site, you have to use discernment. Meet at a neutral location such as a coffee shop for the first date. Maybe the second, too, if you feel uncertain. Don’t hesitate to decline a date if you’re uneasy about the person.

You have to use caution on any site, and the frugal path is the free sites.