thAfter our Thanksgiving dinner one of my great-nephews counted up my found money. In the past year I found $13.81, considerably less than in 2012.

That doesn’t surprise me, since I spent a fair amount of 2012 traveling and moved to Alaska for the last three months of the year. I walk a lot less up here than I did in Seattle. That’s due in part to scary-icy conditions and also to the fact that I no longer live within strolling distance of shopping, banking and the like. While living down south I took a long walk most days, for health reasons but also to buy a bunch of bananas or take advantage of great deals on toiletries.

These days if I need to hit the library, the post office, the drugstore or the supermarket I either go with DF, borrow his car or take the bus. That means considerably fewer chances to find coins on sidewalks and in shopping centers.

Even so, I wound up with:

  • Four $1 bills
  • 16 quarters
  • 38 dimes
  • Seven nickels
  • 166 pennies

In 2012 I found $21.31, which I rounded up to $50 as a donation for a local food bank. Due to the late unpleasantness at Microsoft I can’t afford to be quite that generous in my math this year. Thus the $13.81 will become a $20 donation. But since I have an automatic monthly donation to the food bank I don’t feel too bad about the pinch.

read more

photo 1(1)My friend Linda B. has a sideline making beaded items, mostly jewelry. She doesn’t just string beads in straight rows, however.

Linda has been known to bead-weave around seashells, interesting rocks, copper plumbing parts and  aluminum flashing she picked up for a song at the Habitat ReStore.

She also likes to pound metal. Boy, does she. I was her roommate when I returned to Alaska, and sometimes I’d go to sleep hearing the tink-tink-tink of one of her hammers pressing shapes out of flat metal and then, sometimes, texturizing their surfaces.

It was like “The Shoemaker and the Elves,” if the shoemaker had made boots out of aluminum or copper.

Recently I helped her set up for a crafts show and decided to be the “lucky money,” i.e., the first sale of the day. Rather than get one of the bigger beaded pieces I opted for two lovely pairs of earrings, which I figured would have more mass appeal — and would also make good last-minute holiday gifts.

Thus I’m giving away two prizes this week.

read more

thMaybe two days, even. A recurring pain in my shoulder and arm was exacerbated due to, well, stubbornness: I was determined to make candy to give away for Christmas.

One batch of sea-salt caramels and one batch of Scotch brittle later and I am hurtin’ for certain. I underestimated the impact that constant stirring (followed by cutting, rolling and wrapping) would have on my already-sore body parts.

Thus for the next few days I might put up nothing but the weekly giveaway plus a multi-blogger promotion that’s to be announced Monday. It’s not because I don’t have anything to say, but rather that I’m concerned about these aches.

read more

thMade it back from the annual Talkeetna fling late Sunday afternoon, in one piece but very tired. Either I’m getting older or the late hours, odd eating habits and weirdly crappy weather (freezing rain despite ground temps in the 20s) took more out of me than I thought.

Before I recap that bacchanal, allow me to share a few recent happenings. 

Despite my previously stated position on why you shouldn’t write for free, I recently did just that. But donating “Want to cut costs? Get yourself a frugal filter (or two)” to the Wise Bread blog was a professional courtesy, which is one of the few reasons to give it away. Will Chen and Greg Go have both been helpful and supportive to me and I wanted to return the favor.

read more

thLooking to save money during your holiday shopping? Gift Card Granny can help. The aggregator site finds the best deals among the many discounted gift card resellers.

Shopping with a discounted gift card is like having a coupon without an expiration date. You can save anywhere from 2% to 20%, and sometimes more, depending on the retailer.

Gift cards are available for special purchases but also for everyday wants and needs such as groceries, gasoline, toiletries, vitamins, fast food, pet supplies and movie tickets. (My midnight movie jaunts — and their attendant buckets of kettle corn — are a bit more affordable this way.)

I shop with discounted gift cards all year round. Just about any time you check my wallet you’ll find at least one card; right now I have three (Walgreens, McDonald’s and Cinemark). However, these cards are particularly useful during the holidays — and Gift Card Granny is sponsoring a giveaway of a $25 gift card, to help defray your shopping costs.

read more