My Car: "Marty"

Have you ever noticed wherever you go now, you see a lot of nice cars on the road. Lexus BMW, Mercedes, Infinity, Jaguar, Ferrari and etc. It seems people in the US are getting prosperous or debt each day.

If its about cars, I can careless. I have a different perspective about cars. A car is not a good investment because of its depreciating value. I don’t want to invest my money in cars. I don’t really care about the image like most of our society does.

For more than 4 years, I am still driving my old “year 99 black Chevrolet Cavalier”. I remember 4 years ago, when my husband got a new job and he desperately needed a new car.
He told me that other people in his office were driving “better/good car”. I told him that his car was fine, the engine was still really good, the AC and heater were still powerful.  There’s nothing wrong with that car except a little old dull appearance from driving it for a few years and of course less maintenance. My husband spilled coffee in his car almost everyday. (heheheh I’m exaggerated a little bit) [Read more...]

eBay

1. Before buying something on eBay, take a deep breath; control your body and mind

2. Decide what you want to buy

Remember always that buying something on eBay always has a few risks.
Why? The first reason is because you cannot see the product in person. The second is that once you buy something on eBay, you normally cannot return it.

However, some sellers do state that you are allowed to return goods under certain circumstances. In these cases, you risk losing part of your payment because they probably won’t return the shipping cost.Shipping costs can be the most deceiving part of an eBay item that you are interested in buying.
My first inclination to buy something on eBay is always taken down a notch when I remember that I have to include “shipping costs” in addition to the price of the item. Many sellers list their products below the market price in the hopes that buyers will create excitement among bidders who will then bid the price of the item higher and higher, sometimes even higher than what is reasonable. Remember to take into account the shipping costs along with the price of the item. If you don’t, your total cost for the item could be higher than if you bought it in a retail store.

3. Especially for clothes or apparel, it’s good to know the brand of the goods you want to buy, and also your size in detail

Watch out! Not all products have the same standard measurements. For goods that have a brand name, they always have the same standard. But measurements always differ from country to country. For example, standard measurements of clothes in the U.S. may be different than those in Asia, or Europe.

4. Of course, if you’re really concerned about clothing size, you can go to a retail store and fit the items you want to buy.

For example you want to buy a Nike pants? You can go to the Nike store and fit the things you interested in. It costs nothing to try on clothes at the store. Later you can use all the sizing information to search the same brand and size on eBay.

5. Now, let’s move on. You are on eBay now. Once you get the exact item you want, the next thing you have to examine is “Seller Information
This is really important because you know the Internet is a market for many people from all over the world, a huge community in cyber space where you can’t see the people face to face.

6.The first thing you must read is “The Feedback

Positive feedback is really important because from this part you will know what kind of seller they are. Are they committed to stand behind their products they’ve sold in the past? Are they honest? As a rule of thumb, I use 80%-100% positive feedback as the criteria for finding the best sellers. But under 80%, watch out! I won’t say that all sellers with less than 80% are bad people, but you have to be careful because it’s all about your money.

For 80%-100% positive feedback sellers, I rarely actually read their feedback comments in much detail. If you’re going to do business with someone with positive feedback under 80%, it’s better for you to read the feedback comments carefully. You can examine a few negative comments and you determine the sellers credibility from the negative feedback.

In some rare cases, other eBay users may try to sabotage another user “perhaps a competitor” with negative feedback.

7. Okay, keep going! The next thing you have to know is to read the entire “Item Description” and
Shipping Instructions” and information carefully. This is true especially for clothes. Make sure they have detailed measurements including size, brand, and condition.

Never assume! For example, for pants misses size S, if the seller doesn’t give you the exact measurements, please never assume that it’s the size you want because they are many subcategories of sizes S, M, L, small from 1-4, medium from 4-8 and etc.

8. Examine the picture, if provided, but remember that the original is always different than the picture.
That’s why you need to gather as much information as possible about the product beforehand.

9. Always ask the seller questions

if you are seriously considering buying. This way, you can get an advantage by receiving a bit of information about the products that others don’t have. If seller never answers your question, don’t buy from them. Just leave it, even if it looks very good.

10. The next important thing you need to know is “Shipping Cost

Take your calculator and put in the numbers. Watch out! You don’t have to be Einstein, so don’t make it difficult. If you think the shipping cost is reasonable then keep moving on. Alert! Some sellers like to put the price extremely low with the shipping cost very high. That’s a trick!

11. Next, read “Payment Method

Not all sellers use Paypal. If the seller only takes cash or checks, be extra careful! It’s best not pay cash to someone you don’t know, unless you’re convinced in your heart that God has given you instructions to do so. Or if the seller is someone you really trust and someone you always buy from and have experience with them before. It’s your money.

12. Check the “Time Left

If the time is still long, I like to bookmark the item and monitor it everyday. If I really want to win the auction, I like to wait till the last minute and see how the bids are flowing and how much the price has changed. If it’s still reasonable, I’ll bid at the last minute at the highest maximum bid I’m willing to pay. You may not win the auction.

Of course you have to know that you’re not the only one who knows the trick of bidding at the end of an auction.
Imagine that if another person bids a high price at the last minute too. Even though you may win, you will pay for a higher price. So be careful with this trick and give it back to your heart,go with your intuition.

13.Always put “Positive Thinking” in your mind.

If you bid them and someone outbids you, just forget about that auction. Just put this thought in your mind: “there’s a good for me” Keep moving on and try again later, because eBay is so big and there are always new things appearing for sale. Don’t be stubborn and bid higher and higher simply because you want one item. Often you will regret doing so.

14.It’s also okay to bid at the start of an auction or in the middle at the lowest price, and then bid again later if you really want to own that item. Imagine if you bid in at the lowest price and no one bids after you! Yipieeeeeeeeee! You’ll get the thing you want in at a great price.

15. If you win the auction, always “Pay Immediately
not just because its good business, but because you will be more likely to get positive feedback from the seller.

16. Always give “Feedback” to the seller after you receive the goods.

Those are just tips. They are not as complicated as it sounds. Practice makes perfect, guys.Happy Bidding!!
Happy Bidding!

Save money using your home grown container vegetables. How to achieve healthy fresh living without spending a lot of money.

Rosemary
Back to organic” – This phrase is starting to get a lot of attention in our society today. People are starting to realize how important it is to live healthy and eat healthy foods.
We know eating organic foods like vegetables, fruit etc are much better then eating commercial foods that we can get easily in the grocery store. Organic foods are rich in vitamins. They taste way better than non organic foods. But we have to be careful in using the word of organic.

Organic” according to Merriam-Webster Online http://www.m-w.com is relating to, or involving the use of food produced with the use of feed or fertilizer of plant or animal origin without employment of chemically formulated fertilizers, growth stimulants, antibiotics, or pesticides.

Okay, for example we spray pesticides to kill insects. Even though it’s done in small amounts, that’s not considered organic anymore. Organic means anything that grows naturally from the source which God has already given to us. It’s from nature to nature.

Tomatoes

Because organic foods take more maintenance and care, no wonder they are more expensive than non organic foods.

Have you ever imagined eating something that you planted yourself? Oh gosh….. Believe me, once you start doing this, you will feel a new sense of satisfaction in your life. You gain more confidence in life.

As usual, we won’t listen to all the different excuses :  how? I’m not good at , thatI don’t have a big yard there’s no way I can do thatI don’t have time to do thatIt’s really difficult - Why bother if you can buy it easily?I don’t have a green thumbI don’t have gardening talent – That’s silly. How much money can I save doing that?

Living healthy and fresh starts in our own home. Sometimes I’m so sad to see people who have a huge back yard, but don’t do anything creative with it. They just leave it empty. Every time I pass houses with big back yards, I always speak to myself,

“if I had a back yard that huge, I would have a garden where I could grow anything I wanted. I could eat vegetables and fruits from my own garden planted by myself.”

Cayenne Pepper
Last spring after the last frost, starting from my tiny 5×5 deck, I started growing 3 kinds of tomatoes, peppers, hot chilli peppers, okra, and many kinds of herbs. They turned out really well and I have harvested them a few times.

One example: I started growing 2 small seeds of cayenne peppers around May. The 2 tiny little seeds have grown to become 2 big chilli pepper plants. They produce a lot because I keep harvesting them.

I made green and red curry paste and put it in a jar so that I can use it several times. I gave some to our friend. I also use it for cooking from time to time. I can’t believe that have more than enough. I am even thinking of freezing some for this winter.

These are a few tips that I can share about container gardening. I’m not a professional, nor do I know a lot about gardening techniques. I don’t have a gardening degree and planting experience that I can put in my resume.

Believe me, anyone can do this. Even our kids. The only items we need to have are these : 2 tsp of TLC (tender loving care) , 1tbsp of effort and 2 1/2 cup of your willingness, mix them together and Wualllaaaaaa–you will get the green thumb you always dreamt of.

Okay let’s start…

But before starting your container garden:

  • Think of and plan what kind of vegetables you want to grow in your deck or back yard.
  • Use a reasonable formula. If you have such a tiny deck, never dream of growing bananas or avocados for guacamole on trees.
  • Filter the items by how easy they are to grow
  •  Check the nature and level of difficulties of each plant, including climate, maintenance and care. You can always read at the back of the package before you buy a package of seeds or a small plant.

These are the best, easiest, low maintenance home grown container vegetables you can grow at home.

One time, I bought several packages of vegetable seeds of many varieties. I started seeding them all in a few containers. I forgot that we only have a small deck. Each day they grew bigger and bigger. They took all of our deck space. My husband likes to sit in the wicker chair to get sun sometimes. Because there were so many plants and containers on the decks, he had to walk really carefully, step up from one side to another like Batman to avoid tripping on them. If you see the movie ” jumanji” you’ll know what I mean. He complained about that because he couldn’t sit on our deck anymore. He told me that I just needed a few monkeys, lions and birds, and it would complete become a real jungle.

  • Please don’t get overly excited like me.
  • You can always buy small plants from the nursery store
  • If you want to grow plants from the seeds, try to grow 3-4 seeds in each container
  • I like to use small containers with potting mix soil instead of peat moss. When the first baby leaves grow, wait for a few days until all the seeds have sprouted. You can decide which one of them looks the most healthy. Pull out the weak leaves and just leave 2 or 3 healthy strong leaves.

I made a big mistake when I first started my container garden. I used to grow all of my seeds. I put them all in a few small containers. But, that’s wasteful. Honestly we just need a few healthy leaves as a starter. A few seeds is more than enough, unless you want to have a nursery business.

When the time comes to water the baby plants, I like to water them from the bottom. Put the container on a plate full of water. The soil from the container will absorb the water and spread it out from bottom to the top. That’s a good way to avoid interrupting the plants new growth. When you see the soil is moist enough, you can remove the plate.

  • For small plants that you buy at the nursery, repot them into bigger pots.
    You can buy mix potting soil specially for vegetables that have already been enriched with vitamins. This can feed plants for up to 3 months.
  • Allow for space from one pot to another.
    Don’t put them close to each other because each plant has a different structure and immunity toward disease and insects.
  • A little extra maintenance and care is needed when plants are small. But please not too much.

I love gardening very much. In my country (Indonesia), growing plants is very easy. Just throw the seeds somewhere in your yard or pot and they start growing. The soil is fertile. But here in the US, the soil texture is so different. I had a tough time trying to grow my container garden at first. Most of the time I didn’t know what they needed and wanted. If I watered them regularly, they became yellow. Or If I watered them once every 3 days they became dry. I never gave up hope. I tried and tried and tried. I thought maybe they need a little extra care but that’s a big mistake. All of my plants were really stress out and slowly passed away because I gave them over TLC. If they could talk, maybe they would say “oooh, here she is again!. Stop touching me please!” I failed so many times but I never gave up. We learn from our mistakes and mistakes make perfect. I finally learned that plants need a quality time just like humans. Everything has to be in balance. Not too much and not too little. Medium will do.

  • Water the plants regularly but don’t over water them.
    When you see that the top soil is dry, it doesn’t mean that deep down is dry. It’s wise to double check because if you over water them, the leaves start getting yellow and they fall down.
  • Check if there are bad yellow leaves.
    Always cut the bad ones because it can spread.

I name all of my plants. Every time I come out on my deck, I call them by their names. For example: “Hi Juliet! how are you today?” I know it sounds silly, but I like to have fun in small and simple things like that! No need to be too serious about life. Just relax and enjoy it. It’s strange; they seem to grow better and produce more.

  • Harvest Time!
    Enjoy good eating and save $$$

Do you know how much money we spent for trash bags every year? Even economical trash bags can cost $5/6 a box. That’s not cheap. It really hurts to spend $5, especially when you know that you will throw it out finally. Some families can use 3 trash bags everyday. And It means you will spend $15 a month just for trash bags.

Have you noticed that grocery stores are very generous lately in giving away plastic grocery bags. Sometimes one plastic bag contains only 1or 2 items. For example, when you buy a birthday card for a friend or loved one, they will put it in one plastic bag. What a waste! In one grocery trip, I may get 10-15 plastic bags. If you go to grocery store twice a week, you will have about 30 bags or more.It depends on how many items you buy of course.

plastic-container.jpg

I’m always sad to see how people in the U.S. (not all) are so easy to throw away something that, in fact can still be used. In Asia we have to work so hard to get anything and we have to leverage our economic principles in life. Life is difficult and you have to appreciate everything, not stingy but frugal.

That includes plastic bags that we get from the grocery store. Instead of throwing them away, why not use them as trash bags? I know small plastic bags can only be used for small amounts of trash and using them means you have to go to the dumpster more often.

These days, we tend to spoil ourselves too much. We spoil our children too much. Look at how many toys our children have that they never seem to appreciate. We prefer the comfortable and instant life. We don’t want to try new ways or come out from our comfort boat. Especially if it ruins our pleasure, comfort, habits or happiness.

Forming frugal habits is a matter of how we educate ourselves. We want to make sure that we always save money in everything we shop for, even though it’s just a dime. I know this sounds radical. How can plastic bags can save you money? How 15$/month can make a difference?. Definitely, you won’t get rich with that one habit. That’s the wrong attitude. Saving money, big or small, is saving money. This is all about how to educate yourself to not waste resources and to appreciate small things. I remember a Bible phrase that says

“if you are faithful in small things, God will entrust you with big things.”

Also another phrase says

“little by little, it will build up to be a hill after while.”

A dime here, a dime there; that’s the way we save money.

Sometimes, I don’t understand why a lot of people continue to live lives of luxury even though they have mountains of debt. For them, outer impressions are more important than inner peace. You have to learn to be a poor person, then you will appreciate material things more. Trust me! Remember life sometimes moves so fast. Life is like a wheel, sometimes you are at the top and sometimes you are at the bottom. Ready or not ready, you have to prepare yourself.

I better stop before this turns into a real sermon–okay let’s get back to our plastic bags :)

Here are a few tips on how trash can save you $150 a year.

      1. You can get a bulk trash bags at Walmart/ Discounted store. But save them just for emergencies or for really large amounts of trash. Keep them in storage as backup.

      2. Make a habit to save all your plastic bags from the grocery store. Don’t throw them out because that’s cring (my pet word for money).

    Before you store them, check the bags’ condition. Don’t use broken plastic bags, of course. When you get a lot of plastic bags, they can clutter things up and often we don’t have anywhere to keep them. Typically, we just toss them in the kitchen cabinet. Again clutter is a big NO, NO! Not to worry, here are a few tips than I can show you on how to fold plastic bags. STBS – Small trick big style :) so you can save hundreds of plastic bag without taking all your space.
    You can do this while you are watching TV or when you sitting on your deck with the blowing in your face and humming birds singing a sweet song with the smell of fresh cut grass…… oooopss!! before we start daydreaming, we better get back to our folding trick . Below are the steps to fold your plastic bags :

  • Flatten a plastic bag on the table or in a flat area. Fold in the handle tidy.
    picture-1f.jpg
  • Join the edges both right and left to make it smaller, then fold it again until you get a lean long fold in the bag.

    folding-step-2.jpg

    folding-step-3.jpg

  • C. Go to the clean edge (usually at the part of plastic bottom) and fold it in triangle shape.

    folding-step-4.jpg

  • D. Follow the triangle shape to the end of plastic bag, but leaving about 3 inches short. Tuck the rest of the 3 inches short end into the space between the triangular fold.

    folding-step-5.jpg

  • E. Wualla! You get a cool folded plastic bag.

    triangle-plastic-bag.jpg

  • F. After you fold all your plastic bags, you can put them in a container or in a box.Put the box/container full of folded plastic bags nearby in the area where it is easy to reach.

    plastic-container.jpg

    1. 3. Some stores like Target or JC Penney or shopping mall stores have a big plastic bags. I’m always happy when I get their plastic bags. I save them with a big smile. Use the best for last. Just save them for a rainy day.

      4. When you’re throwing away big boxes of trash, try to break them apart or cut them into small pieces so you can put them in the plastic bag. Again, use a little bit of effort. True frugality means that you have to step out from your comfort zone.

      5. Instead of throwing away your trash once/twice a week, throw it away everyday. It takes you 5 minutes to do it. You can do it before you go to work everyday, before you go jogging or whenever you leave home. In that way you won’t pile up your trash.

      6. If you have a few small plastic bags full of trash and you don’t want to go back and forth to carry them, here’s a way you can simplify your life.

    1. Tie the handles of 4 or 5 small plastic trash bags. Take one plastic bag, stretch it lengthwise to form a sort of rope. Weave it into the small holes/spaces between the tied up handles.
    2. step-1.jpg

      step-5.jpg

    3. Pull it tightly and tie it up. Now you can easily pick up all those small bags and march away to the trash dumpster. It’s like carrying a suite case

    4. step-7.jpg

      My husband gets a little grumpy when I tease him asking him to be a trash bag model :)

    7. The first or second time will probably be uncomfortable for you, but after a week, you will enjoy it and feel satisfied. You can now be proud of yourself that you can save money from simple thing like conserving trash bags ;)Make your life fun. Even small things like this can create a smile on the face of your family. Being frugal doesn’t mean that you will suffer. Use a sense of humor in anything you do. Create something funny. In that way you will enjoy your frugality. You might even enjoy it enough to form a habit.

My Frugal Laundry Room

The Laundry Room doesn’t have to be a Boring Place

The laundry room is one of the last areas of the house to get our attention. The reason is that we ask ourselves, who will see that tinny bitty place–the place where we can just dump all our dirty clothes or where we can hide a trash can. Washing clothes is never a cool thing to do in life. That’s why sometimes we are so lazy to do laundry, especially when the time to fold the clothes comes. Watching TV beats that any day. Now, let’s face it, laundry is something we have to do from time to time. There just may be a way we can make our laundry time fun.
We call our house

“home sweet home.”

Wherever we go, no matter how bad our house is, we always miss it and want to go back to it. We have an attachment to that place where we can be who we are. Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz describes it perfectly when she says:

“there’s no place like home.”

Most of the time, we like to do an activity when we enjoy doing it, when the surrounding environment sustains us. We can spend hours and hours doing things we like to do. It’s the same way with laundry. To enjoy the time, we have to attach and build a connection to where we are.

Here are a few tips we can do to change our laundry time from dreading it to loving it: [Read more...]