(Almost) eighteen years of Treehouse talk

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Frugal Finds and Fixes: Learning Curves

Sometimes frugality means learning something new. Or taking a risk.

For the past few years we paid someone to figure out our income tax returns.  This year Mr. Fixit used free online software and did it himself.  Besides saving money, it made him feel that much smarter, once he figured out how the program worked.

Ponytails has a favourite embroidered sweater, but the ribbing at the neckline was separating from the rest. She asked Mama Squirrel to fix it.  Mama Squirrel said she had no idea how to do it without ruining the sweater, especially since the pulled-apart spot was on the front, very visible.  The sweater sat unmended. Ponytails reminded Mama Squirrel that she really, really liked that sweater, and she couldn't wear it at all with the collar coming off.  Mama Squirrel decided that there was nothing to lose by trying, and rounded up a needle and purple thread.  It worked!  The repair required two stages: I sewed it together with thread, tucking in all the rough edges; then I went back over it with fine yarn, as close to the main colour as I could find in the scrap bag.  There was what looked like a running stitch at the base of each rib of the collar, and without the extra yarn stitching it would have held together but the repair would have been more obvious, so that's why I did both. If you look really closely, you can see that the stitching and yarn is slightly different; but you'd have to be looking for it.  So Mama Squirrel learned something this week too.

Dollygirl also picked up a project that had lain dormant for quite awhile: a small stuffed doll about five inches tall, meant for a dollhouse, with clothes to be sewn separately.  She had cut out two dolls from the same pattern (one I bought in the 1980’s and had never actually sewn); we had sewn the bodies, arms and legs together, and then she tried to embroider a face on one but it sort of got away from her and she packed the whole thing away for a long time.  This week she pulled the dolls out, finished the face on the other one, got it stuffed and sewed on the hair; she's now working on the dress which is a bit challenging--it is small, but it has a few tucks and pleats. I am really proud of Dollygirl for not giving up on what seemed too hard at first.  (photo to come when the dress is done)

What else have we fixed and found?  The usual baking and cooking experiments, this week featuring cranberries since they were the only reasonably-priced frozen fruit.  Ponytails discovered that her favourite microwave-in-a-mug treat works just as well without the egg that the recipe calls for--always good to know.  Mama Squirrel also noticed that the next-size-up bag of sugar offers a decent saving over the size we usually buy--that sounds too simple to mention, but sometimes you do get into a rut and don't think about small changes.

Oh, and we have been appreciating a variety of frugal entertainment, from free lunchtime concerts (we brown-bagged our lunch) to old radio shows (we had never heard "I was a Communist for the FBI" before), and even some vintage sitcoms online.  We recently upgraded our Internet service (the provider offered extra online time as an incentive to stay), so that makes it more feasible to watch whole shows sometimes.  This week it's been The Partridge Family.  Never say I don't tell all.

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