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Category Archives: frugal

Vintage Mixing Machine

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I need a mixing machine.  Mine went with the house and before, with wedding money from my parents, I had a beautiful Bosch mixing machine.  It was strong and durable and I really didn’t like it.  Why?  That annoying and silly center post.  I know that is central to making it work but it meant a lot of scraping… and it just wasn’t my thing.  (However, MANY bread making folks out there adore it.)

So, after the fire, after we moved into the new house, I had to start filling in with something.  And I started looking.  And again, like on my quest of a food processor, I realized that most modern machines meant to mix breads and cakes are just lousy.  And so, here I am, still without a mixer.

Part of my struggle comes with our new diet, at least for a couple of us in my little family.  And more of this will come on a later post but basically, baby Eleanor has had some tough GI issues since about 2 months old.  Basically, severe constipation.  And after working with our amazing pediatrician in Austin, and talking to some family – I went gluten free to see if it helped.  Eleanor is still on Miralax, though at a low dose, and that keeps any day to day issues at bay.  In the rare experiment where I cave to gluten (and the stuff is stinking everywhere – especially in resturant foods) she quickly becomes clogged up again.  As in 24 hours of my bad meal (though the seafood while at the beach was really yummy).

So, since it appears that she will be gluten free for the undetermined future – do I need a heavy duty mixing machine that developes gluten like a dream?  Does the $700 Verona Assistent justify its expense on a gf diet?  And in all of my readings I keep hearing about the wonders of machines made in the US in the 50s and 60s that were durable and did what was needed of them and are still going strong – where are those today?  No where.

What does it leave a girl to do?


Do what her grandma did of course!  Buy a vintage machine.  Please realize that my sewing machine, my Bernina 830, is a 40 year old machine and I heart it deeply.  So, it’s not a big leap to figure that I might equally come to admire the virtues of an old mixer.  The question is – which one?  Unless you’re a fair bit older than myself, you likely aren’t familiar with a Dormeyer mixing machine.  And yet, it seems that they were amazing mixers of the 30’s to 60’s.  And I’m currently considering a Dormeyer 4400 or 4300. 

There are other mixers of good breeding out there, too.  Vintage (40 year old or older) Hamilton Beach model k.  Or the much revered Kenwood.  Or the Sunbeam model 12 (not to be confused with a 12 speed, which makes ebay shopping tricky).

If you are like me and are also looking down vintage lane because of the lousy stuff currently being made (plastic gears – really?) here are a few resources that you might be interested in.

Tips on buying a vintage machine.  Be sure to read the comments for more good info.

WACEM yahoo group.  We Actually Collect Electric Mixers group.  No really, it’s a really yahoo group.  With lots of good info that you can read in their messages without joining and proving what a dork ahem collector you are.  And yes, I’m thinking about joining just so that I can ask questions.

Neslson EZY vintage mixer repair service.  You might reconsider buying vintage when you see what it will cost to get your old machine back to new working order but consider this.  If it lasted 50 years the first go around, it will likely last another 50 years… and what current machine on the market now has the chance of doing that?  And, I have no idea of the quality of repairs from this guy so use the service at your own risk.

So, I’m currently waiting to see if I am outbid on a Dormeyer on Ebay.  My max bid is $20 with shipping being another $17.  I’m rather regretting bidding on it and hope that I get out bid this morning as I don’t want to miss out on a different machine, also a Dormeyer, for $20 more but that has a buy it now option.  And I might cry if I miss out on both at the same time.  Why the Dormeyer?  Great reviews (what few there are) and metal bowls.  And I have 2 little kids – metal stands a great chance of surviving another 50 years than glass, at least in my house.

I’ll keep you posted on what I end up with.  It’s an adventure to be sure.  And if you have one to sell to me – I’ll happily buy it!

Vintage Spring Rocking Chair

My good friend, Edna, and her daughter, Ava, were down a few weeks ago to visit.  Edna and I escaped the house without the girls and went to a few yard sales.  The first sale I hit gold!  The girls posed for us – they loved the chair from the beginning too!  Rosie is on the left, Ava on the right.

For $20 I bought this very cool platform spring rocking chair.  By that I mean that the feet never leave the floor and the seat part rocks on the feet by springs under the seat.

The cushions look new, and the colors are along the same lines as the rest of living room, so I have no intention of changing that, at least for now.

But the wood?  I REALLY don’t like dark wood … so knew that it had to be changed.   Because of all of the groovies and cranies, I opted to use spray paint instead of a brush… and ended up with Krylon Burgundy Gloss.  I had to take the fabric bit off of the chair underneath the cushion because we couldn’t figure out how to spray paint it and not get it on the fabric.  So, with 1 million brads and staples, that took some time.   While working on that, we discovered that one of the wire springs supporting the cushions was broken – so Russ had to do a hill billy fix to it… it works but I’m sure that anyone who upolsters is having a fainting spell right now.

Still, I think that it turned out really pretty!  It’s not perfect by any shot, but for $40 including the paint and the chair, I think that it is a GREAT addition to my living room.

I love wooden chairs, love they are so much cleaner (and I’m NOT a clean freak), how the cushions can easily be changed out as needed/wanted… how they’re super durable.  This one in particular, it’s my favorite chair now.  Just enough rock to keep the biggest figitter happy and make little girls smile.

Happy Sunday!!!

Salt Spout

OK, so when I saw this I immediately thought – well, duh.  How clever is this?  This is a super easy way to make a pour spout lid for canning jars – for free.  Perfect for sugar for your cereal, the office coffee room, baking soda for cleaning… lots of options!  And, I am betting that it wouldn’t be too hard to take some scrapbooking paper or a bit of wrapping paper and pretty up the top a bit, too.  Or even get creative with some markers… so many ideas!

Many thanks to My New Old School for letting me share this with you!  Her blog is full of fun old timy things – kind of like this blog!

Do you need an electric clothes dryer?

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Image from Wikipedia


This study from the Pew Research Center is about the items that we buy that we view as luxuries or necessities.    They’ve asked this question about various things since 1973 (shortly after I was born) and then show on a graph how our perception of needs verses wants has changed over the following 3 decades.  Included in the survey are the home air conditioner (I would NOT be living in Texas without it – though I know I could if I had to, I did it during the Peace Corps, I just choose not to), TV set, microwave, dishwasher (don’t have one of those other than my husband) and of course, the electric clothes dryer.

What is interesting  in looking at the chart is that of those items included, only one  machine is ranked lower today than it was in 1973 – the TV set.  And only one other machine has decreased to close to where it started – the clothes dryer.  All of the rest have had a marked decline since the recession (they surveyed in 2006 and 2009) but not coming even close to previous lows.

I personally don’t feel like my dryer is absolutely needed, but it is nice to have when it’s raining cats and dogs outside… What do you think?  Could you live without your dryer.  Do you view it as a luxury item or a necessity?

Clothesline Profile – Edna’s Line

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Edna, who lives in the Texas Hill country northwest of San Antonio, is our first featured guest on the blog!   She sent me this great picture of her clothesline and I totally love it.  Cool parts to me are – it involves a swing set and a tree!  Absolute proof that it does not require fancy poles or concrete or holes or anything hard to make a line!    This is so much in the line of making do with what you have already…

How long have you line dried?

I’ve been line drying full time for 2 weeks now.

What inspired you to start?

A lot of my misconceptions were proven wrong by other line driers so I had to give it a shot!

What do you see as the best part of line drying?

It’s very therapeutic to be outside, doing something so simple yet so rewarding.

Worst part?

It’s hot out there!

Any secret tricks to the trade?

I hang my dress shirts upright by the button/buttonhole areas right by the collar. Also, I hang my socks upside down. For some reason I just like the end result better.

How often do you hang clothes out – all of the loads, some, few?

I’ve been hanging out all loads full time and then tumbling them for a few minutes in the dryer to soften ’em up.

This is another shot of her line… look at this neat clothespin basket!  

Thanks for sharing your line (and your laundry) with us!

If you have a clothesline that you’d like to share, please send us your pictures!  I’ll send you a few questions (like the ones above) and then you and your laundry can be famous!  🙂 

Hubcap Flower

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Over at Blue Velvet Chair, Michael has come up with this great tutorial on how to convert hubcaps that she found on the side of the road into great yard art!  How much fun is this?   Now, to find some hubcaps!

TV on the Cheap

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Any idea what this might be?  It’s an HDTV antenna!  No, really.  My husband MADE this out of scrap 2 x 4 and old wire hangers and guess what – it works BETTER than the antenna’s you can buy anywhere.  Cost us $5!!!!  This is an easy-ish DIY project, but it is not our own idea – we found it  at

Too ugly for your tastes?  No worries – it’s hidden up in our attic!  We live about 45 miles from Austin, so we’re close enough – even with all of the pine trees.

But, why ditch our satelite TV that we’d had for years to go old school even with a fancy antenna?  Because at $85/month, it just wasn’t making sense to pay for it anymore… with the antenna, we get all of the networks for FREE (except for Fox), which includes PBS for the invaluable Sesame Street!

But, fear not, we still have a huge selection… because we also bought a Roku box.  A Roku box is a little black box that hooks up to the internet and streams TV through that to your TV set.  We get Netflix and Hulu plus for less than $20 a month and have more and better viewing options than we ever did with the blood suckers.   And, it also has lots of free “channels” – like Winamp and Pandora… so we also listen to the radio via the internet on the TV.  🙂

It does require that you have high speed internet – we have DSL and had to upgrade to the 3 meg “high speed” version… but even still, it only added $5/month to our costs as we already had the DSL at our house.

Hulu plus has the entire season of Lost on it (the first show we watched!), and Netflix now has Sesame Street!  This is especially wonderful as Rosie is currently sick with a fever… and we’re watching lots and lots and lots of Street.

As we continue to try to cut the budget, we’re also trying not to totally deprive ourselves… this is a great option for this situation.  In fact, we realize that we like the Roku MORE than the satellite and have no intentions of ever going back.

By the way, I only link to these products because we really like them – and think that you might, too.  Not because we get any type of monetary compensation from it.  Just so you know!