Feeling the Pinch

For those who don’t yet know, my family leads a “Feast & Famine” lifestyle. Our paychecks fluctuate by as much as a third.  March was a feasting time for us. We were finally able to buy several things we’d been putting off and to tell the truth we really celebrated the abundance.

Then we got paid again last Friday and it was less than we expected. About the lowest check we’ve gotten in 2 years. So we looked at it to see why, and the company has now doubled the amount they’re taking out for Health Care. Ouch! Big fat blistering ouch! So Fred will have to work an extra (12-hour) day every 2 weeks to pay for it. As it is he’s gone more than he’s home. This will eat into the short time he has here at home with us.

He works for the railroad, driving the choo-choo trains as an Engineer.

(singing) Whooooo-Whooooo! Chugg-etta, Chugg-etta, Clickity Clack. Going down the railroad tracks. Whooooo-Whooooo! Choooooo-Chooooo Train!(end singing)

I used to sing made-up onomatopoeia songs for the guys when they were little. They loved it then. Now they holler when I even try to sing it. My nephew Douglas on the other hand, is about 18mos and he LOVES it! when I sing to him about the choo-choo trains.

Anyway, since March was the first feasting time we’ve had this year, Fred and I did not squirrel away any of the extra cash. We paid all of our bills (yay!) and then went sort of nuts with non-necessities. I collect dolls. Fred collects firearms. Our oldest is into exercise equipment and our youngest is into Wii video games. (they saved up their birthday and christmas money to buy the Wii, I would Never (never) buy one for them because I think they eat children’s brains, but that’s another story). So we each indulged in our respective collections which was marvelously satisfying. But now we’re feeling foolish because we should have added to our savings, and we didn’t. Sigh!

So anyway, in an effort to free up any money I could, I went through my expenses. We get paid every fortnight (2-weeks) so that’s how long I budget for.

  • Prescription meds for everyone–$80
  • Gasoline–$80
  • Groceries–$300 (includes catfood, dog food, over the counter meds (asprin, acne cream etc.) shampoo, toothpaste, paper products, cleaning products, laundry, bath and dish soap)
  • Miscellaneous–$40-$50 (Doctor Co-Pays, clothes and shoes (thrift stores & good-will), library fines (eek!) and a biscuit from Bojangles every now and then)
  • Total–about $500 to $510

At the present moment I cannot tell if this is a lot or a little. Since everything I buy costs more now, (even the Good-Will raised it’s prices!) I no longer have a sense of what is cheap and what is expensive. Flour almost doubled in price! Flour of all things. Something I use everyday.

Also, while Fred and I were feasting in March he convinced me to do low-carb, sugar-free stuff. And he’s right. I do feel much better when I give up sugar completely. I did Atkins for 3-weeks and got back down to 200 pounds, I had jumped up to 210. Now of course, there’s no way we can afford to keep that up, Atkins is about the most expensive diet on the planet, even if it does work. So anyway, at his request, I have added poultry back into the family’s diet, and am trying to continue to modify our carb intake a’La Sugar Busters, South Beach or Glycemic Index. I don’t follow any of them exactly, but sort of make them up as I go along.

So I am eating artificial sweeteners again, in case anyone is interested. I go back and forth with the sugar vs. splenda thing. I was firmly in the “no artificial sweeteners” camp, but for now I’ve jumped ship to the other side. Not that it makes so much difference one way or the other. I do try to keep all of my theories and philosophies aligned with some sense of integrity though, and that’s why I share.

As for eating poultry again, I have lots of mixed feelings about it, but the family is really thankful for ground turkey right now, and that is a wonderful thing. In times past they have been fussy about ground turkey, but since they’ve been eating love-burger (TVP) for so long, they’re tickled pink to have ground turkey back on the menu.

So anyway, I’m back on the wagon of spending as little as possible. I did good in January and most of February. And hopefully I can do just as well in April and May. In addition I’m trying to address Fred & my dietary requirments more aggressively by increasing animal protein and choosings carbs with a low glycemic index, also using non-nutritive sweeteners (albeit with mixed emotions).

And that is the state of the Fred & Maggie union.

Quick Question. Has anyone ever sold homemade doll clothes on e-bay? I’m pretty good at sewing doll clothes, and am thinking about selling them, either on e-bay or in a small section of one of my web-sites. Any advice? Since things are getting tight for everyone right now, it seems to me that there is probably less of a demand for luxuries like doll clothes.

For the record, I can make them for 18″, 14″ & 7″ to 8″ dolls. I can do anything from exquisitely accurate historical items to fast and fresh modern ensembles. Does anyone know which are more popular or would have a better chance of earning cash?



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16 responses to “Feeling the Pinch

  1. Nice writing style. I will come back to read more posts from you.

    Susan Kishner

  2. cbrunette

    You should look into Etsy.com to set up a shop for the doll clothes. You’d be amazed about what sells on there!

    The listings last for three months, I believe and are a little less expensive than ebay. I’m developing some patterns for modest clothing accessories to sell on Etsy.


  3. Thanks Anna. I’m looking them over and like what I see.

  4. AnnMarie

    I love Etsy! My daughter has a small (9″ I think it is) cloth doll, it was handmade, and it’s VERY hard to find patterns or clothes for it. Might be a little less popular, but on the other hand unique, if you made for cloth dolls rather than, say, fashion dolls (Barbie, that is), which is all I could find in that size.

    The lady who makes the dolls sells outfits (pants and shirt, pretty plain) for $20 each. That’s outrageous to me, when the fabric cost less than a dollar (probably $5 for 20 outfits!) and the time perhaps 2 hours. At least, when I did it myself and had to futz with making a pattern and am no expert at it, that’s what it takes me. I’m sure it takes her less time than that since she does so many. Anyway, I’m saying $20 is way to much for one outfit.

    I’ve bought some things that weren’t made yet via Etsy. Folks will see something they like but want it in another color, for instance, and the seller makes it up. I love that aspect. Some items are even posted to choose your own colors out of a selection. So you can get started with a small inventory and offer made to order.

    Some Etsy folks (and others that is) also do Hyena Cart. I don’t care for it as much as Etsy, but it allows you to set up optionals to some extent. (The doll I bought was like that and I had to choose some of the options on the buying page. But not all were available.) Anyway, another place to check out.

    American Girl dolls are still very popular, so I think historical clothes would be popular, so that girls with other types of dolls could have those kinds of outfits. But modern’s also popular, of course. I’d say go for both.

    Good luck!

  5. Roxanna Meiske

    I make American Girl doll clothes for my grand daughter and her friend. I ‘copy’ the doll clothes I see in the American Girl magazines. Their clothes are not hard to copy and are not hard to make. I brought 1 pattern and use it over and over again. The shirt pattern and the pants pattern are pj’s for example. I do not know how well they would sell, but it would be interesting to see. Good luck to you with your idea. Hope it works out. Roxie

  6. Your doll clothes are absolutely amazing. I think they would definitely sell.

    Love you, hon.

  7. On the diet, I’ve been wondering about the tvp use. Why? well my little one (7 months) is on thyroid meds and one thing we have to avoid is soy products. Soy interferes with the body’s ability to absorb thyroid hormone so is a big no-no for her. I remember your pcos and thought you had mentioned it also had an effect on your thyroid. So would soy have an effect on natural thyroid hormone? Maybe you feel better with more meat because it isn’t soy? Just a thought.

  8. Kathy Jones

    I have an artist friend who has a friend who is starting a doll museum. I will get in touch with my friend, and have him get in touch with the doll museum lady and see if she has any information that may be helpful for you with the doll clothes. As for the artificial sweeteners, I like Stevia. I use the liquid. A couple of drops equal a couple of tablespoons of sugar!

  9. Leta

    Having been blessed with a full complement of neices and girl cousins, my only advice about making doll clothes for American Girl dolls would be to copy the clothes from the catalog as closely as possible, not just in style but in pattern as well. Also, they have doll bedding- matresses, pillows, comforters, and quilts- that seem like they would be easy to copy and the stuff in that catalog is expensive! I would guess it’s worth a try, especially if you have notions and some of the fabric already.

    On another note, I am sorry to hear about your health insurance premiums. (We are very, very lucky in that my husband works for a university and our health care costs are primarily borne by his employer. God bless the union. ) Anyway, I have several non-food recipes for cleaning products, laundry products, and personal care products if you are interested. They are all very inexpensive. Of course, these items aren’t the ones that have tripled in price, but if you think it would help you out, I’d be more than happy to pass them along.

  10. Doris in MO

    Stevia is the only safe artificial sweetener.

    Comes in liquid and powder form.

  11. Stacey in Texas

    I agree with Doris in MO … Stevia is the only way to go. After researching artifical sweeteners, we will not allow anyone to consume anything that contains it .. yuck!

    About Ebay … I used to sell children’s custom boutique clothing there. They keep raising their fees so much that by the time you pay those, you hardly make anything. A lot of people I know have moved their business over to Etsy.

  12. CMD

    There is a book by Dr. Joel Fuhrman which might be found in your library. It is supposed to be a fairly popular book. The title is Eat to Live.

    He address the DON’Ts of the Adkins Diet. The Adkin’s diet is dieting to “die to loose weight”. The book is VERY informative and Dr. Fuhrman’s diet, i.e. lifestyle plan is much cheaper and healthier than the Adkin’s.

    He also has a website. I can’t remember the site off hand, but it’s something like http://www.drfuhrmanwell.com

    Just thought I’d share.

  13. Kirsten

    Railroad wives unite! I am a 12 year BNSF RR veteran of a wife and counting… My hubby is an engineer in CA and a conductor in TX and boy do we know how that pay can fluctuate, you are correct in 1/3 or even more. Sometimes it just kills me when we take vacation time, it is so much less $. This is the first I have ever heard of another RR family talk about it. It makes me realize we are not alone. Sometimes I wonder how those boys who lay off all the time make ends meet. Well, their wives are top exec’s at Macy’s or something like that. Not us, we have 4 h.s.’d kiddos and wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Our grocery bill is a bit higher than yours though. I buy about 80% organically, make my own naturally leavened breads, do the raw dairy thing and grass fed meats and pastured eggs. I have a great grain dealer in the area and get a really good price on 25# bags and I keep them in my freezer. We are totally off all OTC and Rx meds since we went this route.
    I love your site. I take helpful bits that fit with our lifestyle and use them. I do define myself as a “crunchy con” though. 😉 I can’t deny it… I am simply inclined to whole biblical foods, I love them and love learning as much as I can about them.
    I hope to continue to learn more from your site, thank you, God bless you and be well!

  14. Kirsten

    Xylitol is a good one too and is shown to actually help fight tooth decay and strengthen the enamel.
    Inulin (made from chicory root) is usually included with Stevia and is a great digestive aid and together they promote healthy gut flora. My top choice is Stevia for sure. It comes in neat flavors too. I can get it for $11.99 for a 2-3 oz. liquid bottle. It’ll last you a year at least. The packets are great for your purse and are way sweeter than sugar.

  15. domesticbetty

    Check out Angel Food Ministries. It’s available to anyone – no income requirements … they don’t even ask! http://www.angelfoodministries.org Some months, it’s cheaper to buy food at the grocery store but some months, it’s an amazing deal. I’ve been impressed w/ the quality for the most part.

  16. Shannon

    Third recommendation for Stevia. Only thing I ever put in my coffee.

    When I make baked products I use organic honey, agave nectar or organic applesauce.

    My attitude toward diet and cost is: You either pay for it now, or you pay for it later.

    We’ve planted this year in our small back yard:
    -2 apple trees and 1 peach (to espalier against the fence so they grow flat along the fence).
    -in containers: herbs, tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries, a lime tree, a mandarine orange tree.

    All will be raised organic.

    I’m creating a raised garden bed to plant: onions, spinach, peppers, brocolli, squashes….And to grow vertically I’m planting potatoes in stacked car tires.

    Next year I may plant my own corn, quinoia (protein rich grain), and start raising my own chickens.

    We’re putting in rain-barrels to collect rainwater. Hanging our clothes to dry.

    When I get the tax rebate I’m getting a dehumidifier for the house to take humidity out and I’ll add that water to the garden. I’ll also get an Xtracycle for trips to nearby Costco, etc.

    I want to learn how to can my own fruits/vegetables, and will try to get a second-hand free-standing freezer from the garage and buy a part of a naturally-raised cow to get processed and store pieces in the freezer, with frozen veggies etc.

    Am also learning how to make my own yogurt, and already make excellent homemade pesto and kombucha.

    Would like also to grow a nut tree and an elderberry bush for antiviral medicinal purposes.

    We live in the suburbs, I work F/T, have a young son and I go to school P/T, but we’re committed to becoming more self-sufficient. Food sovereignty is the safe and smart way to go for this impending crisis.

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