Na Na pinches her pennies (aka frugal living)

Shh… don't tell anyone I'm poor. They all think I'm living frugal and green just like everyone these days. This is a blog about a senior citizen living a frugal life, on a fixed income, in a low income food desert, and passing along knowledge from lessons learned. Some she learned from her Grandma Mama many years ago and some learned only a few days ago.

My baking cabinet

When I moved here last summer there were lots of spiders.  Everywhere!  I believe they may have been attracted to the meat eating ants in the kitchen and the carpenter ants in the backyard.  I’m pretty sure there were mice around here someplace too because mice almost always follow the ants and spiders.  A vapor barrier has been installed under the house to help control the ant population.  Last week I saw a couple of ants in the kitchen that were too small to be carpenter ants and too big to be meat eater ants.  They must be sugar ants.  I’m glad I’ve only seen a couple of scout ants who don’t find any food around.

I have a suspicion there are mice checking out my house.  My furry kid hears them but I don’t.  I don’t want to wait until I see them to start mouse proofing my house.  When you actually see a mouse it’s too late to prevent them you must start killing them. Really no house can be made totally mouse proof.  The best anyone can do is make a house less attractive to mice as they seek out new living places.

So I’ve decided to do as much as I can to prevent mice (and rats) from being attracted to my house.  Warm weather is the best time to start.   The store carry bag holder for my trash is frugal but it was also the first step to making my house less attractive to rodents by getting into the habit of taking all trash outside everyday.  The less I have available for critters to feed on and the more difficult it is for the critters to get at the food the more likely they’ll look for houses with easier pickings.

I use my baking and food prep area daily.  It seemed logical I get this cleaned and critter proofed.  In this photo it doesn’t look too bad.  Its not stuffed and its sort of organized.

I did a little better organizing when I put everything back after cleaning it well.  The top shelf will eventually be only for seasonal item storage because I need a step ladder to reach anything.

Last month I had spotted three small turntables in a discount bin for $3.50 each.  I hadn’t planned to buy turntables but I splurged and spent some of my Christmas gift certificate to buy them.  These were just the right size to fit the cabinet.  No more pie pans and marbles, which did work as a decent turntable but still looked like pie pans.  These turntables hold more than the pie pans did.

I moved the small blue top containers from the second shelf to a donation box.  I’ve had those containers for a long time and never used them so its not a big deal to put them in donations.  The roaster pans went to the cooking items area next to the stove.  That left me room for more baking items in this baking area so I pulled some from the food storage area and put here.  Yes, that looked better.  I have all the flours in one place along with powdered milk and sugar and all my spices.  Those plastic containers from Dollar Tree crack very easily.  Every one of them has packing tape over a crack to hold it together.  A new house deserves some fresh organizing things.

I decided it was time for some better quality containers that don’t have to be repaired with packing tape or replaced every few weeks.  I pulled out my gift certificate again to use for new containers.  I wanted containers that fit the cabinet without stacking.  I settled on getting plastic because glass breaks too easily if I (or Ladybug) should drop it.  They should be air tight to keep out pests like ants or mice.  They should hold one whole bag of flour or sugar or corn meal or whatever and easily fit my hand.  I found just what I needed at a price I could afford with these rubbermaid containers.  I had my eye on a different brand but the price was much higher.  Maybe someday.

These new containers fit the cabinet just right.  Each one is accessible without having to remove two to get to the bottom one.  I have ten containers in there now instead of the six before.  I made the labels by cutting it from the package and taping it to the container with packing tape.  I ran out of packing tape so I’ll finish the other labels later.  The cabinet has all the baking needs within easy reach to get and to return.  In this cabinet I keep:  all purpose flour, self rising flour, sugar, bread flour, corn meal, instant milk for drinking, instant potatoes for baking, instant milk for cooking (currently empty), oatmeal, and pancake mix.  The cracked blue top containers have been moved to the shed.  I may use them as flower pots or something.  Its only one small area cleaned and organized but it sure feels good and works great.  Everything is easily accessible and easily put away.

I realize I can’t do the critter proofing all at once but one little step at a time will work.  Plastic won’t keep mice or ants away completely but it certainly will be a deterrent.  No need to hurry about organizing because I’m gonna be here a long, long time.  I’ve drafted a couple of posts about preventing mice and rats in the house.  They are taking longer to write than I thought because doing prevention things is better than writing about doing prevention things.

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23 comments on “My baking cabinet

  1. Lilly pickles
    May 11, 2017

    I am always so happy to see a new post. I was wondering if you have any type treatment for ants. I have them coming in my bedroom along with a snail. Nothing worse than stepping on that bad snail or rolling over in bed and finding him there !!! I have enjoyed so many of your past posta. Canning , weather proofing and the tar baby post were delightful. We have a scratch and dent store that only sells returned store items from Walmart. Most items are 1.00 although sometimes 2 or 4 for a dollar. I made a list of things I wanted and scavenge for them weekly. I didn’t have an oven mit and really wanted one. Those silly mits sold for 17.00 in the store. People must be nuts to pay that price.I also bought multiple boxes of weather proofing kits for a quarter. We will be prepared for the winter. Each week, I drive my son into town 2 or 3 times to go to work. I am doing all my shopping when I take him out. Your posts have helped me find even more ways to save. Please excuse my writings. I have a concussion from a car wreck and my struggles to collect my thoughts are real. Also I used a gift card from Swagbucks to get me 3 dozen canning jars. I may not can for a year but by then I will have collected what I needed. Hope you are having a good week. Love from an itty bitty Georgia town.

    • Anita
      May 11, 2017

      I’ve never seen a resale store like that here. I wish we did have one. I’d be there a lot. Nothing better than getting prepared well in advance of need. I’m working on posts about mice and rats right now. They almost always follow the ants. You could possibly put out a Trojan Meal for them. Follow the ant trail to see what the ants are eating. Then mix whatever they are seeking with some borax and offer it to them. If the ants are the kind that are looking for meat, grease, or protein then bait your Trojan with peanut butter, some honey, and the borax. For the snails follow their trails back to where they are entering then pour salt around the opening. Salt kills them so they won’t cross it. You could also put out a beer Trojan for them. The idea is that the snails are attracted to the beer yeast, they get drunk on it and drown. Of course it also depends on the snail. If you want to keep the snails off your bed sprinkle plenty of salt on the floor around your bed and especially around the legs where they climb. Move your bed away from the wall a couple of inches too so they can’t simply crawl up the wall and cross over to your bed.

      Sorry to hear about your accident. Don’t worry about your writing. I see nothing wrong with it. Do like the rest of us and get a bunch of notepads to write notes to yourself. 😉 I saw the new 2017 Ball canning book on shelves at two stores today. It’s worth the price if you haven’t got an older copy already. It will have a lot of information for the beginning canner. Canning jars and lids were being stocked too. Should be a sale or two pretty soon. I’ve not done any swagbucks before. Don’t know anything about them.

      What town in Georgia? I lived in Albany for a few months when I was a teen. In olden times as Ladybug would say.

      • Lilly pickles
        May 12, 2017

        If I sneezed I would fall into Alabama. Midway on the state line .We have several salvage stores. It appears all stores get rid of their stuff. There seems to be a company that obtains the stuff ? Boxes and pallets are sold for various prices to small salvage stores. Most of these places sell it for 1.00 an item. These items may be expired, close to expiration, damaged, missing a piece etc…. I bought 500 count Caltrate, 200 count ibuprofen, 3 Tegrin dandruff shampoo and 2 acne products today. 7.00 was great. I couldn’t have got this at the Dollar Tree for the quality and quantity I got. I remember my great grandmother taking me to one of these when I was very small. I have never seen them anywhere else . The man let’s me pick out all the copy paper that is scattered from broken teams and let’s me have it. I have about 15 reams. Starbucks is a search engine that I use as my homepage. It rewards you with points you can redeem for giftcards. At night when I am watching tv, I look at short videos, etc for points. I also signed up for some free deals( hulu) to get points. Hulu is something we use anywsy.The Amazon cards are really good for off the wall deals that we can use. Sometimes I use them for Christmas presents. I save my cards and when I see something for a ridiculous price, I jump. 36 jars were 8.00 a dozen and the cheapest I have seen. Off to make yogurt in the crockpot with marked down milk. I truly appreciate your help.I am isolated with a special needs daughter and am now googling for all solutions I need.

        • Anita
          May 14, 2017

          Hmm… I think I’ve gotten some calls from a company like that. About 20 years ago my machine quilting service somehow got published in a national business phone directory. About once a year I get phone calls asking to speak to the inventory manager. One year I got a call from the local EPA saying they needed to inspect my factory for hazardous materials. I got a really big laugh out of that one. I usually respond that I’m just a little old lady with a big sewing machine but if they’d like to come have a cup of coffee I have it on the stove perking.

          You might want to look on freecycle or cheapcycle for canning equipment too. Before I moved last summer I gave away about 25 dozen quart jars on freecycle. The lady who took them is young with a growing family and I no longer need large jars. We still keep in touch. When I have more time I’ll certainly look into the swag bucks. It looks interesting.

  2. Margie in Toronto
    May 11, 2017

    I have some tiny,tiny ants in the kitchen (apparently a good chunk of the city is having issues at the moment) but some ant traps are making a big difference. I live next to a conservation area so there are all sorts of critters about to guard against. I also put any new grains and flours in to the freezer for a day or so to kill anything that might be in there!
    I keep most of my grains, flours, sugars etc. in glass containers or I double bag any extras and then put them into snap-lock plastic containers. I also clean up counters and floors so that nothing is there to attract them. It is a constant battle!

    • Anita
      May 11, 2017

      It sure is a constant battle. Your tiny tiny ants sound like what I called meat eater ants I had troubles with at my old house. Those things avoided sugar but would swarm anything meat or grease. I do the same thing with my flour and grains. Good minds think alike. Do you also put a basil leaf in the container? I’m lucky that I have a vacuum sealer because I keep my overflow of grains in vacuum sealed canning jars.

      • T
        May 15, 2017

        We had sugar ants for some time, not an actual infestation in my place but an occasional 5 or 10 coming in through the walls- when my neighbors with kids left and the place was cleaned out haven’t seen any since.I don’t leave any food on counters and there are no foods like sugar/flour/oats etc in the cupboards.

        We don’t generally get mice in the big city, when I lived in the country more so. I have seen rats here in drains or at the side of the road, but never in a house except when a neighbor let their siding decay to the point of gaps.

        The unfotunate thing in the USA today I think is the massive skills shortage and number of businesses which have sprung up where the people are not qualified or experienced to deal with problems.

        As with other countries ( eg NZ and Canada ) the more issues with construction the more issues down the road with weather-proofing and infestation.

        • Anita
          May 15, 2017

          I guess having mice or ants is a combination of how you live and how those around you live. I keep the flour and meal in the cabinet because its convenient for me. You are so right about the lack of skills our young have. Computers are making our young so dumb! They can’t seem to function without the aid of a computer to tell them what to do. Its sad.

  3. craftytadpole
    May 11, 2017

    Looking good. I am always happier when my cupboards are organized. As to the mice – ugh. We do everything we can to make our home less attractive to mice but they still keep coming. This year seems especially bad. They were even leaving stock piles of seeds in my shoes! Good luck with your battle!

    • Anita
      May 11, 2017

      I think it may be a bad year for mice everywhere. Cities are almost always full of rats. That’s why I want to start doing things NOW while the weather is nice enough to work outside. Hoping that by fall I’ll be prepared to keep them out.

  4. sarasinart
    May 11, 2017

    You are so well organized and that’s good for so many reasons.

    • Anita
      May 11, 2017

      Thank you. As I get older I find it extremely helpful when “everything has a place and everything is in its place” for when my memory is foggy.

      • sarasinart
        May 11, 2017

        I agree! And writing things down that I need to remember. I’d be lost if I didn’t write things down.

        • Anita
          May 11, 2017

          You too? I go through lots of small note pads because I make so many notes to myself and lists.

          • sarasinart
            May 11, 2017

            Oh yea. If i can’t do it in the next 5 minutes, it better be written down or it’ll never happen. 😉

            • Anita
              May 11, 2017

              Hee, hee, hee, sometimes I have to make a note to remind myself to make a note. 😉

              • sarasinart
                May 12, 2017

                Oh no, that’s really bad!

  5. Jane
    May 11, 2017

    I never thought of the pie plate with marbles idea for small items before. I think I may use that one, as I don’t have turntables. I always get mice in the late fall/winter. Waiting for your new ideas. You’ll probably think of things that I haven’t tried as you’re so very resourceful. 🙂

    • Anita
      May 11, 2017

      Use two same size pie pans. Marbles go into the one on the bottom. Top pan on top of the marbles which allows it to spin. I first learned it from The Tightwad Gazette when it was a monthly magazine. It pops up every now and then in magazines and websites too. Works good for a condiment turntable at a cookout.

      • Jane
        May 12, 2017

        Thanks, Anita!

        • Anita
          May 12, 2017

          I forgot to say that you should look at the underside of your box springs for snails hiding there. Some snails are only active at night and will look for a hiding place during the day.

  6. Linda S
    May 10, 2017

    My dad used to call tiny little sugar ants “piss ants”. I didn’t know it was a “naughty” word & got in trouble in kindergarten for showing the other kids piss ants on the playground. Haha

    • Anita
      May 11, 2017

      🙂 cute story.

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