Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Protein Myth

Welcome to this week's edition of  Needs vs Wants Wednesday, where I dare to reevaluate what society deems to be needs. What really is necessary for a happy, healthy and fulfilling life, and what can be eliminated without much stress? Find out here, weekly, on Needs vs Wants Wednesday
This week on the stand- Protein.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Spendthrift Husbands- Ask the Readers

I've encountered quite a number of women, both in real life and over the internet, that have gotten their act together and realized that their consumerism habits must change, that their extravagant lifestyle is simply racking up debt and misery and money worries. These smart ladies decide that they need to put a budget together, get their spending in check, and are all ready to save when---
Their husbands stop them.
What do you mean, cut back? Live a little and leave the finances to me. You're worrying about nothing, they chide.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Electrical Appliances You Can Do Without

Technology is a good thing, don't get me wrong. It saves lives and makes our days more enjoyable. Sometimes though, it is preferable to cut back on use of modern technology, either because of the pleasure of pure physical labor, or because of the expense involved.

I, and others, try to minimize using electrical appliances for many reasons that include, but are not limited to:

Menu for June 27- July 3

This week, as always, our menu is affected by the circumstances in our lives as well as what we currently have in our fridge. I do not go shopping for menu items; I buy what is cheap and plan my menus around that. This week our menu reflects the status of "my fridge is in great need of being filled" and the fact that we've all come down with a bug (hence no post yesterday- I was too sick to write anything).

Breakfast- Spanish rice, watermelon
Lunch- Spanish rice and seitan
Supper- Chicken "meat"ball vegetable soup

Breakfast- Rice and carrot omelets
Lunch- Chicken  "meat"ball vegetable soup
Supper- Chicken "meat"ball vegetable soup

Breakfast- Oatmeal carrot muffins and yogurt
Lunch- Rice with cheesey tuna veggie sauce
Supper- French fries with cheesy tuna sauce and veggie spears

Breakfast- Toasted oatmeal with milk and fruit
Lunch- French fries and stretched tuna and veggie spears
Supper- Seitan shishkebabs, potato salad, and sauerkraut

Breakfast- Banana shakes
Lunch- Potato salad, sauerkraut, and leftover shishkebab
Supper- Szechuan garlic eggplant with ground chicken over rice

Breakfast- Homemade granola chunk with yogurt
Lunch- Rice with refried beans and tomato salad
Supper- Pitas, Chilled beet soup, sauerkraut, spicy tomato salad, chili, refried beans, ground chicken, tacos

Breakfast- Lazy oat cereal
Lunch- Pitas, Chilled beet soup, sauerkraut, spicy tomato salad, chili, refried beans, ground chicken, tacos
Supper- Beet salad, eggplant salad, sauerkraut, spicy tomato salad

Our recipe this week was greatly affected by our stomach bug and by the fact that Tuesday is my bi-weekly shopping day and my fridge is near empty. Fortunately I have the perfect tummy bug remedies in my stockpile- plenty of rice, carrots, and chicken. I used my stockpile and the few veggies on their last legs in my fridge combined with the knowledge of what is in season to guess what will likely be on sale at the grocery. As always, flexibility is key to frugal menu planning. If different foods go on sale than I was expecting, my menu will change as it is not set in stone.

How do you menu plan when your pantry is empty? What do you do on sick days? Do you make extra trips to the store to buy foods good for sicknesses, stick with the medicine from the doctor and eat the same food as you would have otherwise, or make do with the food you already have at home?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Save Money Printing

HP DeskJet F4480 Inkjet All-in-One Printer (CB745A#B1H)I don't know about yours, but my printer is a money guzzler. Replacement ink cartridges can cost upward of 25 dollars each, and if you do any frequent printing, those cartridges will be finished in a flash. Because of their high price, it pays to utilize a few, easy ink saving solutions to save big on printing costs.

Cheap Printing

Friday, June 25, 2010

Random Tidbits

I stumbled upon this questionnaire on a blog I was reading, and even though I wasn't tagged to do it myself, I decided to cheat to give you some light reading on my Friday day off. Hope you enjoy, and feel free to take these questions over to your blog, answer them, and let me know so I can learn a bit more about you too.

What's your staple meal (ie. what meal do you cook most often when you can't be bothered to be adventurous)? 
Embarrassingly simple, my go to meal when I am feeling lazy and not so adventurous is pink fish noodles. Also known as- take noodles, dump in ketchup, mayo, tuna, and chopped cucumbers and tomatoes. In a rush, I can make this in 15 minutes flat, 4 minutes if I'm using instant rice noodles.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

A financial advisor and a published author. Or a famous chef. Or a world class blogger. (Oh wait- I'm getting there!)

The Girl Who Played with Fire (Vintage)
What book are you reading at the moment (if any)?
The Girl Who Played With Fire by Steig Larsson. It's my second time reading it, and I thoroughly enjoyed it the first time around, so figured, why not? This isn't my standard reading material- my favorite author is Jodi Piccoult, cliche as that might be.

How do you relax?

The internet. Blogging, reading other blogs, watching youtube videos, and reading and posting on various forums, most notably I also really enjoy hanging out in nature, going on walks in forests or in fields, creek walking, or simply lying on the grass star gazing. Unfortunately, none of those really end up happening what with being a mom of littles, so I just end up using the computer as my relaxation. Cooking also gives me that same enjoyment, though it would be even nicer if I had a maid or a dishwasher.

What colour are the interior walls of your home?

White. But I've covered them in so many paintings and pictures that the white is barely visible. If I owned my home and could furnish it with coordinating furniture, I'd probably paint it with a bold, lively color like bright blue, bright yellow, bright green, or orange. (I have no taste!)

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Guilty pleasures? Not me. :-D Though I do like a good homemade alcoholic beverage now and again.

What time is bed time and getting up time?

Too late and too early. Ideally I should be going to sleep at 10:30 or 11 pm because my kids wake me up between 6:00 and 7:30, but bed time usually ends up being closer to 1 am or later.

How long do you spend reading blogs (per day or per week)?

Probably an hour or less a day, depending if I got hooked onto a new blog or not.
extra credit:
*what is your favorite movie? Pay it Forward, Avatar, and Dead Poet's Society are the ones that come to mind.
*tell me something embarrassing about yourself. I have a terrible short term memory.
*What really gets on your nerves? At certain times, its lack of personal space. I need little kid's hands off me at some time every day.

Any questions you wanted to ask me? Ask away.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Frugal Gardening

Gardening- ah! The frugal person's dream. With so many diy garden ideas out there, many have considered growing their own food, on the road to self sufficiency and money conservation. While gardening is money saving in theory, there are many common pitfalls, often making the garden a money suck instead of a money saver.

Cheap Gardening

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Baby Bare Basics- Needs vs Wants

Welcome to Needs vs Wants Wednesday, also known as "That's not really a need, you silly." I started this series to debunk myths, to show that what most of society perceives as a need can be eliminated, should the need arise, without greatly reducing one's quality of life.
Truth be told, there are so few things a person truly needs in life; anyone who has more than these bare minimums should look at all the extras he has and feel blessed, instead of comparing himself to everyone else around who is leading luxurious lives.
Constantly looking over your should are what everyone else has is a sure way to make yourself feel miserable. Only by keeping our focus on our lives only (hard as that may be) and taking note of all the extras with which we've been blessed, are we able to fully appreciate the goodness which life has bestowed upon us.
Helping people realize all the little luxuries they have in life was the point of this series.

That said, here are some things that even I, Penny the Penny Pincher, believe to be real needs. These things don't need to cost a lot of money. By keeping this list in mind, I was able to have and raise my babies at very little cost, allowing me to put the money to more important uses.

What Babies Truly Need

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Stale Bread

Straight out of the oven, I can gobble bread right down plain. Once it starts getting a bit older, bread appeals to me less and less and I tend to let it sit around until it becomes so inedible that it ends up feeding the trash. I've put together a list of things to do with stale bread to help avoid wasting this food, as food in the trash is money in the trash.

Top Ten Uses for Stale Bread

Monday, June 21, 2010

Asceticism- Not a Worthwhile Goal

I've been reading up lately about different minimalists and ascetics, people out to simplify their life to the extreme by getting rid of "stuff", or to deny themselves all physical enjoyment as they shun materialism, consumerism, and the pursuit of pleasure.
People reading my blog, especially my Needs vs Wants series might wrongfully assume that I'd feel in good company with "like minded" ascetics and minimalists.

Asceticism- Not a Worthwhile Goal

I'm not an ascetic, not a minimalist, and I enjoy good physical "stuff" just as much as anyone else. I like fine linens and sleep on a bed fit for a king, I've got both fancy and casual good quality clothes. I serve delicious and delectable meals to my family. I want to live a rich and fulfilling life so that on my deathbed I'm not filled with regret over all the things on which I missed out.

Weekly Menu Plan

To inspire all you readers, here's my weekly menu plan, including detailed breakfast, lunch and supper instead of just writing the one main meal of the day.

Photo credit-
Breakfast: Raw oat "cereal" with milk
Lunch: Turmeric rice with West African baked beans, eggplant salad
Supper: Turmeric rice with West African baked beans, beets

Breakfast: Triple loaded eggnog
Lunch: Turmeric rice with West African baked beans, veggie salad
Supper: Seitan and peppers in homemade jerk sauce over rice, cabbage salad and eggplant salad

Breakfast: Semolina porridge with milk and fruit
Lunch: Seitan and peppers in jerk sauce with rice, sweet and sour cabbage
Supper: Loaded mac and cheese, sweet and sour cabbage

Breakfast: Pancakes
Lunch: Loaded mac and cheese, veggie spears
Supper: Colcannon

Breakfast: Easy breakfast shakes
Lunch: Colcannon
Supper: Bread pudding, omelets, veggies

Breakfast: Raw oat "cereal" with milk
Lunch: Bread pudding, omelets, veggies
Supper: Gezpacho, cucumber salad, soy cabbage salad, breaded eggplant, chicken "meat loaf", stuffing

Breakfast: Raw oat "cereal" with milk
Lunch: Gezpacho, cucumber salad, soy cabbage salad, breaded eggplant, chicken "meat loaf", stuffing
Supper: Homemade bread, fenugreek dip, soy cabbage salad, cucumber salad, egg salad

Lunch:Stuffing, soy cabbage salad, cucumber salad, and egg salad
Supper: Buckwheat and tuna veggie patties

Linking up with Menu Plan Monday.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Kids with No Car

I've spoken about why I chose to not have a car and how I manage without one. Those of you with kids probably wonder how I am able to do anything and go anywhere when I'm traveling with 2 kids but have no car.
Have no fear- I explain how I do it right here.

2 Kids, 2 Adults, No Car

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Cheap Sunscreen- Or Don't

Summer's here (at least for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere) and parents are looking for ways to stay safe from the sun. Sunscreen is the obvious solution for many, as the sun's ultra violet rays can cause lots of harm to your skin. Sunscreen is so expensive; frugal people have long tried to find out cheaper alternatives.

Sunscreen is a Scam

Would you trust a "scientific" study sponsored by a company who stands to benefit most from the findings? I know I sure wouldn't. I would highly doubt the impartiality of such a study.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday Feedback

I have a few different questions and ideas that I wanted to swing by my readers and figured that I'd bunch them up together and do them on a Friday, my quasi day off blogging (meaning, I blog only if I feel like it but feel no pressure to do so).

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Managing Without a Car

We're a family of four with no car and no plans to get one either. I'll admit, there are those rare moments where I find out lack of a car bothersome, but these fleeting thoughts are so vastly overshadowed by the ease and simplicity of our life and the way we manage splendidly without a car that the monetary commitment and worries entailed in car ownership are not something to which we aspire.

Life Without a Car

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Life without a Car

This is Penny speaking, your host for Needs vs Wants Wednesday, where we dare you to question the status quo. Is that a want or a need? Necessary for survival? Needs vs Wants Wednesday, rethinking norms, appreciating what we have, and occasionally even learning to go without.

Today's topic?
The car. Definitely a necessity if you're not living in city center, right?

Some might be incredulous that not only does my family of four not have a car, we also have no plans on getting one in the forseeable future.
Life Without a Car- part one of four.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

This week's menu

I've fallen out of habit of posting my shopping list and menu. For now, here's my weekly menu, so you can get an idea of how I feed my family cheaply and deliciously.

Sunday: Tuna General Tso lo mein
Monday: Rice with Syrian style lentils and cabbage salad
Tuesday: Leftover lo mein, lentils, rice, and salad
Wednesday: Pasta, ratatouille and cheese
Thursday: Unstuffed cabbage with seitan mince.
Friday: Gezpacho, roasted eggplant salad, fenugreek dip, soy cabbage salad, sauerkraut, beet salad, oat rolled tuna balls, mustardy chicken salad, potato salad
Saturday: Friday leftovers.

What's on your menu this week? Want any recipes?

Stockpiling 101

I try to spend very little money at the grocery store. Though coupons are not available where I live, by taking advantage of sales and other money saving shopping tricks, I am usually able to keep my grocery bills down to approximately 100 dollars a month for our family of 4.

Today though, I am spending 100 dollars on food in addition to the 50 dollars I usually spend on my bi-weekly grocery shop.
How do I have no problem spending that much extra money today?
Because that 100 dollars was spent on buying food in bulk

Buying Bulk

If you want to save money, sometimes it is important to spend more money upfront so you'll be able to save later. Bulk food is just one example of how laying out money now will save you more money in the long run.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Frugal vs Stingy

Photo Credit-
We frugal people get a bad rap. We get accused of being neglectful, controlling, abusive, and disgusting, to name but a few. Nothing smarts more, however, than the accusation that frugal people are stingy.
Come on, you've thought it yourself sometimes. Why can't we just loosen up, and stop being so tightfisted with our money? What is our problem? Why are we being so stingy?

Let me clarify this misconception once and for all.
Frugal does not mean stingy. At all.
After much contemplation and discussion with my husband, I've been able to expound upon this difference.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Minimizing Costs of Outings

Photo Credit-
Trips often cost a pretty penny, even when the venue is a cheap or free activity. Food, drink and transportation as well as other trip related expenses can really add up. With a little forethought, many of these costs can be eliminated, or at least greatly reduced. I've put together a list of tips that help save money on trips. You'll notice that the common element here is advanced preparedness. A little forethought usually save you lots, and outings are a prime example of this truth.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Free Graphic Design Programs

I recently met a woman, graphic designer by education, daycare provider currently. She is making pennies now but has not much luck getting hired as a graphic designer, even though that is her true calling. I asked her why she simply didn't open up her own graphic design business; she said she would love to; she simply couldn't afford the really expensive graphic design programs- Photoshop, Illustrator, and Publisher.

It was a shame that she hadn't known earlier that there are free, open source alternatives for all of these.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Teaching Children Good Money Habits

This is a guest post written by Ronnie Carlson from the Frugality Game, an awesome website with a game that teaches you how to be more frugal. Computers, games, and frugality- three of my favorite things combined to make one totally awesome method of entertainment and learning. Ronnie shares some terrific ideas to help your children become more money savvy. I'll have to remember these when my kids are a bit older. 

Photo by Alan Cleaver
Remember when you were a kid, that feeling of a five dollar bill burning a hole in your pocket? Your legs would fidget, and you’d reach into your pocket every five minutes just to make sure it was still there?

I remember, and the only way to get rid of that feeling was to ride my bike to the corner store and waste it all on soda and various sugary treats. I had little sense of value, and no sense of saving.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Extending the Life of Undergarments

Most clothes can be bought relatively cheaply, either second hand or at discount shops. With undergarments, people are a bit more squeamish about buying second hand because of hygienic reasons. Even generally thrifty people usually buy undergarments new, and they're not usually so cheap. Because of this, it pays to learn methods to lengthen the life of your undergarments.
This is part 4 in the Lengthening the Life of your Clothes series. 

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Reusable Toilet Paper- Family Cloth

A certain impoverished lady I know can frequently be heard repeating the refrain "Toilet paper isn't a luxury". I have to bite my tongue every  time I hear her say that, because, frankly, toilet paper is a luxury. So, if you’re usually someone spending your monthly wage on expenses like this, then family cloth might just be the perfect alternative for you to help cut down on life's extraneous expenses.

It may be one that you have absolutely no intention of giving up at any point in your life, and that's absolutely fine, because we all have our luxuries. I just feel that the truth should get out there- that there is a great alternative to buying Charmin month after month- reusable toilet paper, also known as family cloth.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Cheapskate Ingredient Substitutions

I love to cook, if you haven't figured that out already. Nothing pleases me more than whipping up a delicious meal and having it fill my loved ones belly. I experiment a lot in the kitchen, always looking for new and different recipes to add to our family's menu.
Along my quest I have come across upon many recipes that look very tasty, only they call for ingredients that I refuse to buy on principle as they are extraneous and expensive. Other times the instructions may call for an ingredient I have no issue buying, only that item is currently out of stock in my pantry (I don't go shopping on non scheduled shopping day, as each trip to the grocery ends up costing you more money).

When recipes call for ingredients I don't have, I am very glad to know these cheapskate ingredient substitutions to use in their stead. Trust me, no one can tell the difference. But my wallet can.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Keeping Cool- Without Fans

Its officially summer and there have been numerous renditions of the same article all over the frugal blogosphere- "How to lower your air conditioning bill this summer", or even some really radical pieces regarding methods of eliminating air conditioning completely, and using a fan instead.
Of course, someone like myself who is so extremely frugal that I cut out my food processor, leave lights off, and even bake in the sun (yes, I got my solar cooker to work again) so I can conserve electricity, is not about to tell you to replace one electricity drain- the AC- with another- fans.

I live without fans for the most part. (My 2.5 year old has other plans and insists on falling asleep with a fan blowing in his face, but thats a sensory issue as opposed to a heat issue, and its only one fan running for a few hours a day.)

Don't think I am able to manage without fans simply because I live in a place that doesn't get too hot. Summer starts here early- in late April already, and temperatures are usually in the high nineties throughout the summer and over a hundred degrees on a regular basis. It gets hot here, but I still manage just fine with no air conditioning and fans only on rare occasions. (True, it is a bit more arid here than some other locations, but when I visit my family at their beach front apartment, it is humid as hell there and I'm still not tempted to use AC or fans.)

How do I do it?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Free Money- Swagbucks Summer Fun

Search & WinSwagbucks is an amazing tool that lets you earn money on the internet for doing virtually nothing! Swagbucks is a search engine that gives you Swagbucks for searching the internet, something you're probably already doing anyhow. All these Swagbucks add up and you can get many rewards with these Swagbucks , my favorite reward being gift cards! There are also codes randomly released that give you instant Swagbucks, even without searching.

The best part about it is- when you get other people to sign up for Swagbucks, when they earn Swagbucks, so do you! I've got 926 Swagbucks at the moment, enough to get 2 5 dollar gift cards to I plan on using my gift cards to buy either Borax for making homemade laundry soap, or oven bags to make a new and improved solar cooker.

For those already swagging now, or for those who haven't yet joined, I wanted to tell you that in June, you'll make extra Swagbucks! This Monday, there will be 5 Swag Codes released! That's at least 5 times to earn free money! Every single day in June there will be another code released. Want to know if a code is available? Look at the Swagbucks widget in the sidebar and click on the SC logo. Free, guaranteed Swag Codes!

Monday will be the kickoff to the Summer of Swag- every 7th winning search, you'll earn 25 Swag Codes in one go!
In addition to going code crazy on Monday we'll be highlighting a different bill every day - BIG bills, too. As an added bonus, every day the featured bill will be awarded to every 7th win on Swagbucks! On Monday, that bill will be the 25 Swag Buck bill.
-From Swagbucks Blog 
Sounds crazy, right? Too good to be true? But fortunately, you don't have to take my word for it! Just sign up for Swagbucks and start searching and winning today!

Oh, and new Swaggers- if you sign up until next Friday, you can use the code SUMMEROFSWAG to earn an instant 20 Swagbucks! Isn't that amazing?

(P.S. This is not a paid post nor is it in place of my regularly scheduled posts. I am sharing this to help you earn money from the comfort of your own home, and because when you earn money, we both win!)

Frugal Water Fun

Kids love water. (At least most do.) Playing with water in the summer is a great way to keep cool. Though I am always speaking about conserving water, I am all for letting kids have fun with water on hot summer days. Contradiction? Nope!

Public Park Sprinklers. I've been walking in the park many times when suddenly caught unaware when the sprinklers go on. These sprinklers are meant to keep the public's lawn green, but there's nothing stopping you from taking advantage and letting your kids soak themselves to the core. Either figure out yourself the sprinkler schedule, ask park workers, or even call up city hall to find out when the water will be spraying. Come to the park prepared in lightweight, easily drying clothes, and let the fun begin!

Watering your Garden. Not enough rain, so you're watering your garden or your lawn? Use a sprinkler and let the water accomplish 2 purposes simultaneously- quenching the plants' thirst, and cooling down your kids.

Bath Outside. I bathe my son in a wash basin on a regular basis. Simply moving that basin outside and using cool water for the bath instead of hot is enough to turn a regular bath into a private wading pool. Even if you don't regularly use a wash basin for baths, making your children's bath occur outside instead of indoors is a decent way to keep cool without wasting water for extraneous purposes. Of course, this will only work for children young enough to go outside less than fully dressed.

Playing in the Rain. While it doesn't rain locally in the summer, if you live in an area graced by summer showers, play in nature's sprinklers for a cheap, refreshing activity.

Do you and your kids play with water in the summer? Do you use water specifically for play, or do you try to find ways to multitask so you're not wasting water?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Monetary Commitments- Be Careful

Photo Credit- Giovanni World
I'll be perfectly honest here- I have not always been the best financial example. At the start of my marriage, and even a little beyond, I made some monetary mistakes that I've been paying for until today. It is specifically because of my previous faulty decisions that I am living extremely frugally by necessity today.

In the hopes of helping you avoid making the same bad move as I have, I wanted to share with you the biggest lesson I've learned on my frugal journey. It may seem simple, but it has enormous ramifications with the potential to change the course of your life.

Be Very Wary of Signing Contracts

Mock Lipton's Iced Tea

Lipton Sweetened Instant Tea Mix, Lemon, 10 Quart Can (Pack of 6)
I used to live off of Lipton's Instant Iced Tea. Every morning I'd wake up, make myself a tall glass, chug it down, and only then start my day. As someone with low blood sugar, it both hydrated me and gave me that sugar boost I needed to get started on my day. Ok, maybe it wasn't the cheapest or the healthiest option, but it was one I loved nonetheless.
On a hot summer day, this drink was especially thirst quenching and refreshing. Unfortunately this drink is exorbitantly priced where I live because it needs to be imported from the US, so for so long, I needed to cut this drink out of my diet, which was a shame, as it was a good way to encourage me to drink, and with a tendency towards dehydration, I could use that push.
Fortunately I've discovered a great, frugal way to make mock Lipton's Iced tea, a drink that tastes exactly like the real deal, can be made at home, and is quite cheap, to boot.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Cheap Contact Lenses

DMV Soft Lens HandlerI'm a glasses girl and have been ever since I got those hideous looking frames back in the third grade. I always "knew" that I would never get contact lenses because I'd heard so many issues about contacts, and quite frankly, I thought my glasses did a pretty decent job of covering up the perpetual bags under my eyes. I also knew that even if you had contacts, you still needed glasses as a backup, and I didn't see the point in spending money on something extraneous like contact lenses.

There are several types of lenses including daily and extended wear contact lenses. Some lenses which are coloured are known as coloured contacts and they can enhance a person's eye colour when worn.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Telephones- Want or Need?

Just as necessity is the mother of invention, lack is the mother of resourcefulness.

I just survived without a house phone for nearly a month, and for a large chunk of that time, I was without a cell phone as well. It was an experiment I do not care to repeat, but I definitely learned that it is possible to manage without a phone at all.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Site Makeover for Free

If you're a regular to Penniless Parenting, you'll notice that a change occurred overnight. While I thoroughly enjoyed my old layout, it was missing some key things including the ability to have tabs like the new ones you see (and more will be arriving shortly) up on top.
I was undecided about what to do, because while I needed a new layout, I truly loved the style of my old blog. I didn't want to just take those old graphics and put them with my new layout because, as much as I enjoyed them, they were just stock images floating around the web, and I wanted a unique graphic, one that represented me, Penny Penniless in all my essence.
I approached a graphic artist friend about making me a graphic, but even as a friend, she was charging more than I wanted to spend on the graphic, so I embarked to redo my website, entirely on my own.