Friday, May 30, 2014

Do It Yourself and Save Money: Changing A Computer Screen

One of the ways we save money at our house is to not pay for any services we can do ourselves. Let me also state that we are just ordinary people - we don't have any special repair skills. The good news is, most home repair jobs don't need special skills. All you really need is a bit of information! 

I have a lot of home repair jobs I plan to work on this summer. Most of them are jobs people think are too technical or too difficult to accomplish by themselves. Hence, a new topic is born! I will show you just how simple it is to do things for yourself that you may never have thought possible. I hope the posts under this new topic will give you the encouragement to try some basic repairs around your house too! I am confident that you too can do it yourself and save money!

The first post under this topic was a repair that became necessary when my computer broke. While I do not have my computer back yet, (it is still at the manufacturer's facility getting repaired), my husband and I decided to try our hand at fixing another computer we had that was out of warranty. This computer screen broke about a year ago, rendering the computer unusable. We tried attaching it to a separate monitor but didn't have any success at that.

The first thing we did was to call a few computer repair centers to ask how much a new screen replacement would cost. Most quotes were around $215 to $225. Unbelievable! There is no way we were going to spend that much money to repair a machine that was three years old!

While researching our options, we came across the website, This site sells computer screens and provides instructions on how to replace them yourself. (There are also many YouTube videos on how to replace computer screens.) My husband ordered a new screen for less than $100. I really thought successfully changing out a computer screen would be way too technical for non-computer geeks like us to accomplish. Not so! Let me show you how easy it was! 

My husband was going to do the repair entirely by himself and my job was going to be taking pictures for the blog. However, the screws holding the screen in place are quite small and required smaller hands to handle so I ended up doing some of it as well. The website recommended a magnetic screwdriver to make it easier to handle the screws. We didn't have one. I held the screws with tweezers instead.

The computer we are working on is an HP. Your brand of computer may be different from ours so be sure to watch the instructional video for your brand/model on the website before starting your repair job. Since static electricity can ruin the sensitive electronics in a computer, be careful not to accidentally discharge static electricity onto the computer when making repairs.  

To start, you will need to remove the screen frame. The screen frame on our HP is secured by two tiny screws below the hinges. They are black screws on a black frame so they are not easy to see in this picture. They were also placed at such an angle that removing them was the most difficult part of the whole operation.

After the screws are out, the frame snaps out. We did have to gently pry it out with a flat knife in a few spots. Be careful prying it out. The frame is made of light plastic. If you apply too much pressure the frame might break. Our computer also had a few strips of adhesive holding the frame to the computer. The knife was really helpful in releasing the adhesive.

The screen is secured in a bracket that runs down the sides and top/bottom of it to make a support. The screen bracket is secured to the laptop with two two screws located in the upper corners. Those two screws come out next. 

Next remove the screws that attach the screen to the screen bracket. The HP has four screws here, two on each side. Be careful not to drop the screws. They are hard to see and very easy to lose.

Since the screws are so tiny, I decided to place them in bowls so we wouldn't lose them. The screws for each step went into separate bowls so they didn't get mixed up.

The last step to remove the screen is to disconnect it from the computer. It is a simple plug connection located on the back of the screen. It's held down by a piece of adhesive-like tape. To remove it, gently pull the tape up, off the point of connection. (Leave it on the plug itself because you will secure it to the new screen.) Then unplug the connection. Be careful not to pull too hard or you might damage the pins on the connector. In this picture, my husband is pointing to the plug.

Here are all the pieces removed. The new screen is in the package at the top of the picture behind the computer.

To install the new screen, repeat the steps in reverse order.

And we're done!

The final test is to turn it on and make sure it works!


Since it was our first time, it took about one hour to complete. That included time to search for one of the screws I dropped! I imagine the staff at any computer repair shop can probably complete a screen change in about 15 minutes!

It truly was super easy and we saved a lot of money by doing it ourselves!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Easy Ways To Save Money: Cut Your Electric Bill

Here is an easy way to cut your electricity bill! It takes a few dollars, but will reward you with consistently lower bills! What is it? 

A surge protector! I have quite a few at my house. Every television set has one, the cable boxes (my husband likes living in the 21st Century so these are a fact of life at my house), and anything else that has a phantom load that can't be eliminated. What is a 'phantom load'? Appliances that have a clock, remote control or work continuously even when they are not needed, all carry 'phantom loads'.  You will save money if you turn them off when you are not using them. You can do that with a surge protector.

They fit neatly and discretely behind the appliance and can be operated with your foot or a stick. Here is a picture of one of mine. This one is on the family room TV, record player, and DVD player. (Yes, we have a record player. We do not have a CD player.) Even our computers, printers, and Internet box are plugged into one! 

My husband uses the stick to turn it on/off. I use my foot. While it is exposed (and not tucked behind the cabinet), you can't see it from the rest of the room.

You can also reduce your electricity bill by replacing your electric clocks with ones that use a battery. No need to run out and purchase all new clocks - when it is time to replace a broken one, purchase a non-electric one instead. We haven't had electric clocks at our house in years.

Surge protectors don't have to cost a lot of money. You don't need one with all the bells and whistles on it. Simple, plain and inexpensive work really well here.

You WILL notice the difference in your electric bill!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Happy Memorial Day!

I hope you enjoy the barbecue, picnic or whatever you have planned for today! Before the day is over, please take a moment to remember all who have fallen to make our country free!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Another Busy Gardening Week!

Wow! Where does the time go? It seems like I have spent time in the garden every day, and yet, it isn't finished! Here is where it stands:

The corn came up! It is covered with netting so little chipmunks won't dig up and eat the seed. As soon as it is able to stand on it's own (meaning the seeds are no longer there) I can take the netting off.

I planted the peanuts as well. They are covered with netting too. I had a horrible time with this chipmunk eating the peanut seeds last year and then later, at harvest time, eating what little crop I had! (With all the rain we had, last year was a bad year for peanuts.) I am determined that this chipmunk won't ruin my crop again! Once the peanuts are established, the netting can come off. I will replace it with a chicken wire fence (and netting on top) to keep the critter out of bed while the peanuts are developing. That chore doesn't need to happen until August.

Notice the mouse trap? My husband baited it with peanut butter (bought from the store) in case the chipmunk chews through the netting. I am hoping he will stay away.

I got one of the two grape vines planted. These are Concord Grapes. The purple ones. I hope they are happy here! They should be able to handle the heat and humidity better then the Thompson Seedless Grapes did.

My hand pollinating the apples worked! I now have baby apples!

Hand pollinating is so easy to do. For any crop! With the right grow lights, it really would be possible to grow all vegetables indoors. All you need to do is spend a few minutes with a small paint brush hand pollinating the vegetables that require help (not all of them do.) You can see how easy it is to hand pollinate here.

I have finished planting 3 of my 6 tomato plants. I have so many quarts of tomato sauce canned over the last three years that I really didn't need to plant tomatoes at all. I decided to put in a few plants to have fresh tomatoes available to eat. I like a slice on hamburgers cooked on the grill.

If you didn't know, tomatoes grow really well in pots! They require regular feedings (about every two weeks) along with a few pieces of Tums for the calcium. Do that, you won't have any problems with your plants! They don't even need full sun. A minimum of 6 hours a day is all they require.

Now that the peanuts are in, I can turn my attention to green beans and squash. The problem is, the space required for them is currently occupied. Since the spring has been a bit cooler than normal (low 80's vs the normal high 80's), I still have the carrots and peas growing. The peas are now flowering.

This is the same bed that was completely eaten down to the dirt by some unknown critter in March. These peas were re-planted on March 28th - normally much too late to get a crop in the South. I think I am going to try to keep them for a few weeks more. A lot will depend on the weather. Until that space is available, I will plant half my green bean crop here.

I planted quite a few miniature roses last year and they are doing nicely! 

I am going to harvest these petals soon for potpourri I will make in the fall. (Life would be very dull if everything was about food crops!)

Up next is to plant the second grape vine and turn my attention to the herbs. They are getting too big for their little pots!


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

My Computer Broke!

Boy, oh boy - has this been the year of appliances breaking at our house! On Monday, my computer screen fizzled out! The good news here is it is still under warranty and I am sending it back to the manufacturer to be fixed.

The bad news is all my blog notes (and pictures) are on that computer. For now, I must borrow my husband's computer to write my blog posts and teach Family History at church! So, let me scramble a bit for the next few days to plan/create some new blog posts. 

The computer service center said I should have my computer back in about a week. I certainly hope so!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Do You 'Spring Clean' Your House?

Spring cleaning was necessary in our great-great-grandmother's day. The sources used to heat houses back then were oil, coal and wood. Burning these fuels coated everything in the house with smoke residue. Hence. the need to clean come spring. 

The easiest way to clean a room was to take everything out if it. Then, the women of the house would start by washing the ceiling, walls and floors. As the furnishing were brought back into the room, they were also cleaned. Winter rugs and drapes were cleaned, then stored. The lighter summer ones were brought out to freshen up the room and keep it cooler in anticipation of the summer heat.

In our lives today, we don't have many of the cleaning issues our ancestors had. The efficient ways we heat our homes today only require that we perform periodic dusting and vacuuming (that is if you HAVE a vacuum!) Yet, when I am asked if I 'spring clean' my house, I answer "Yes, I do!" I don't spring clean in the way I mentioned above, but I do perform cleaning chores that I don't normally do the rest of the year. 

Spring cleaning to me is yearly cleaning. It is all the chores that I do once a year. I tend to do them in spring (and summer) because that is the time I think about them. They are completely off the radar the rest of the year. So yes, I spring clean. For me, it starts with the spray washing of my house. That is scheduled to happen in a few weeks. (In the South, mold grows on everything. That includes the exterior of your house - both brick and siding. Spray washing with a soap/bleach mixture is a must every year. Otherwise, the exterior paint only lasts a few years.)

Then it is on to other annual chores, accomplished room by room. That strategy ensures that I am not overwhelmed (I do not hire cleaning help). It would also be possible to enlist the aid of the entire family and accomplish it all in one day.

 Spring cleaning chores in modern times would be things like:
  • Washing the windows and blinds
  • Cleaning the refrigerator coils (as well as behind/underneath the appliance)
  • Replacing the filters in the furnace
  • Dusting all 'top shelves' that require a ladder to reach.

I also include 'other' chores such as:
  • Washing my dining room rug at the laundromat (It is too big & heavy to wash it at home by hand!)
  • Dusting/cleaning Christmas items that I am going to put away for the rest of the year. (In the picture below, you can see a Christmas tin sitting above the kitchen cabinets - along with other decorations that live there permanently. When I dust up there, I will put the Christmas tin away.)
Between my garden, church and any work projects I take on, it doesn't leave a lot of time for 'spring cleaning'. Normally, my list of yearly cleaning chores take me all summer to accomplish. No matter, slow and steady wins the race!

Spring/yearly cleaning isn't just something our ancestors had to do. I believe yearly cleaning chores are necessary now too! Its even more important if some one in your house has asthma! In addition, your appliances will work more efficiently if they are cleaned yearly. That can save you lots of money!

It all helps in making what you have last longer - and that is living a frugal life!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

It's Been a Busy Gardening Week!

And there still is a lot more to do!

I have been quite busy this week updating the garden. I finished the asparagus bed for the year. Some of the asparagus are starting to flower! I put in the new strawberries and planted the popcorn. I am currently working on the peanuts and they should be planted before the week is over. Here is a picture of my new garden beds. The blueberries are at the top of the picture (doing well after the harsh winter) then the asparagus, new strawberries and the empty looking bed at the bottom is the popcorn.

To take this picture, I had to stand in the peanut bed. Since I haven't planted the peanuts yet, this wasn't a problem. Small plots of corn like mine, need to be 'hilled up' as it grows so the corn won't fall over when it is tall. That is why the raised bed isn't completely filled with dirt yet. I will continue to add dirt as the corn grows.

I also haven't planted the new grapes. They are waiting their turn on my patio. They should be planted before the end of the week as well.

I did plant some of the herbs: lavender, thyme, basil, and sage are in the ground. All grown from seed. The rosemary, oregano and pennyroyal survived the winter and are doing fine! Many more herbs to plant, but I am not sure if I will get them in this week.

I took a break yesterday to sit in the shade a bit and transplanted two of my largest poinsettia plants. I have a few more that need to be transplanted, but there isn't any rush on doing it. They can wait. The empty bench is for my orchids. They always spend the summer outside. They will go outside on Thursday after they are watered and fed. 

While the tomatoes are also waiting their turn to get planted, I did get the peppers in! 

Peppers like the heat, so I plant them in grow boxes. I just finished this one before I took the picture. It will be moved to the patio to spend the summer. These peppers were grown from seed I saved last year. The seed was from a hybrid plant. Don't believe all the stories you hear about not being able to save seed from hybrid plants. It isn't true! It is just that the seed from the hybrid will not grow true to its parent. It will end up being more like one of its grandparents. So, I must keep my eye on these pepper plants, they will not be disease resistant like their parents were. At the first sign of disease, I must treat them if I expect a good crop. Hopefully, disease won't be an issue this year.

Well, the garden won't get planted by itself, so back to work I go!

Monday, May 12, 2014

A Mother's Day to Remember

I meant to post a 'Happy Mother's Day' message yesterday. I was having so much fun, I forgot! I had a really pleasant day and got some lovely gifts. My princess gave me these lovely flowers.

My wonderful husband gave me a new gun! I realize I don't talk about guns much on this blog. It really doesn't fit with the 'theme' of what this blog is all about. However, even though I don't talk about it much, I have to admit that guns are a big part of my life! I love to shoot, I am a certified NRA pistol instructor and I get excited over a new gun. So, even if you are not 'into' guns, please bear with me as I show you my brand new one. 

I wanted a small gun that I could carry when I don't have my purse with me. (I have a Pistol Packing Mama purse that holds my both my Glock 26 or Glock 19 without a problem.)  I also wanted to be able to carry it when wearing a dress. The size of this gun works for both situations. It is a Glock 42, which is a new model. It is a 380 caliber. Here it is in my new ankle holster, which I am happy to say is quite comfortable.

I also got a gift from my church. This summer all members of my church are getting a free subscription to,, and for one year! Because I am the Family History Consultant for my ward, my subscription started this past week.

I am thrilled to say that yesterday I found 35 new ancestors I didn't know about! Some go back as far as the mid 1600's! That brings the total number of ancestors I have found to 595. I don't say this enough, so let me announce to all that I think my church rocks!

In addition, my husband made me a wonderful dinner and we also took the princess for a lovely walk in the woods. It couldn't have been a more perfect Mother's Day! I am very thankful that Heavenly Father gave it to me! 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Round 2 with the Emergency Fund This Year

As most of you know, we exhausted our emergency fund when we had to purchase a new hot water heater a few months ago. The good news last month was our tax refund brought some much needed money to our emergency fund. We are now up to 1/2 of the amount we usually keep in the fund. I was feeling much better about handling another emergency (and certainly not expecting another one anytime soon) when my husband noticed that our microwave wasn't working.

Our microwave oven isn't a 'normal' microwave oven. ('Normal' never seems to happen at our house!) It is a GE Advantium oven. It is a speedcook/microwave oven that cooks food much faster than a conventional oven. (The commercials say four to eight times faster.) My husband has been cooking dinner quite a bit lately, and since he likes living in the 21st Century, he uses it a lot. When we built our house, we had all GE appliances installed. My husband was working for GE (at the time), and we got deep discounts on our appliances. Move forward 14 years, and the retail replacement cost for an Advantium oven is off the charts! Not only that, but the type of Advantium oven we have, puts it at the high end of all Advantium ovens! Our model is a 240 volt. (They didn't make a 120 volt version at the time our house was built.) It has its own special outlet. To switch to a 120 volt version of the Advantium (or to switch to a 'regular' microwave oven) requires an electrician.

It also isn't as easy as just purchasing another 240 volt Advantium oven. The ovens they make now are slightly bigger than the one we have. Installation of a new oven is going to require that we take down the top row of the tile backsplash to get it to fit correctly.

Our GE Advantium oven might look pretty, but it doesn't work.

So, our first thought was to call a repairman. We read some reviews that stated the repair costs for these ovens can cost about 1/2 the price of a new one. We bit the bullet and called the repairman anyway. When he got here, he looked at the oven and laughed. He said the repair bill would be over $700 and he could not guarantee that it wouldn't break down again in a few months. He said "After all, it is 14 years old. Your money would be better spent on a new one." To make the news more palatable, he gave us paperwork we can mail in to get reimbursed for the trip fee charges if we purchase a new one within 30 days. Time is running out, we only have nine days left to purchase one and still be eligible for the $90 refund.

Will we purchase a new one? I am sure we will someday, but not now. I have stepped in to take over the cooking that my husband was doing in the Advantium. I am baking potatoes in the Sun Oven. Vegetables are steamed on the stovetop or in the Sun Oven. Molly's dinners are defrosted in the refrigerator a few days in advance. (She prefers her dinner slightly cold anyway.) 

The adjustments we made to cooking without a microwave are not big ones. While it takes more time and slightly more effort to cook without a microwave, the food tastes better! A lot better!  I am sure that my husband will get tired of cooking soon and I will be the one preparing the meals again. Since I don't use the Advantium much anyway, it may be a long while before we purchase another one. I am OK with that. My great-great grandmother didn't have any kitchen appliances except for a wood cook stove. If she fed her family without electricity, why do we need a microwave oven? The obvious answer is, we don't.

In the meantime, that $1400 is sitting quite happily in our emergency fund!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Make Your Own Door Wreath

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I needed a new front door wreath this spring. The old one was dirty and the silk flowers were falling apart. I believe it was about 10 years old so it really was time for a new one!

I did not purchase a new one, I made it. Best of all it only cost $6.00.  All my supplies came from the craft section of a big box store. Updating or making your own wreath is quite simple, it took me no more than 30 minutes and didn't cost a lot of money. What not to like in that?

Here is how I did it.

Start with the old wreath. It is time to remove the old decorations. If you are making a brand new one, get a base that is heavy duty. Even better than purchasing it, take a walk in the woods and gather your own materials! I have a grape vine as the base of my wreath. It is about 20 years old, and still in good shape. The glue holding the old decorations was quite easy to pull off. However, if you can't pull them off with your fingers, try using a razor blade. In this picture I am almost done removing all the old stuff.

When the wreath is clean, gather up your new supplies. I bought one 'bouquet' of flowers for $5.00 and ribbon for $1.00. The old stuff is in a pile at the top of the picture. Also needed but not shown: a pair of wire cutters.

Cut each individual flower off of the 'stem'. You will place the flowers (and leaves) individually on the wreath so each must be separate from all the others.

This is where your individual creativity comes into play! I started by gathering some flowers and playing with their placement until I liked what I saw. It isn't hard. The goal is to make it pleasing to you. It really doesn't matter what other people think! If you can't come up with a design you like, drive down your street and see what everyone else has! Or, go to a craft store and look at some of the wreaths they have for sale. Looking at those wreaths should give you plenty of ideas on what to do with yours.

Here is the start of mine. I usually stop after I place a few flowers and leaves and glue them down. Now, a floral designer might say that I am placing the flowers too close together. I accept that criticism, but it isn't their wreath.

Here is the final product!

When I was making the ribbons, I thought they were super cute! Originally, I wanted a few 'full' bows. But since the ribbon only cost $1.00, there wasn't a lot of it. I was quite please with myself on on how I solved that problem until I hung it on the door. Then I looked at it and said "yuck!" 

My first impulse was to go back to the store and get more ribbon so I could make some new 'full' bows like I originally wanted. Instead, I decided to wait. If I really hate it, I can go back to the store later to get more ribbon. 

Well, over the past few days the look of the bows is growing on me. I still may replace them later, but for now this is the new look of my front door! 

It was easy and frugal to make!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Whispers From Elizabeth Turns Two!

Wow! I can't believe it has been two years since I have started this blog! I sure do a lot of things differently since I started blogging. I am much more self-sufficient and frugal now than I ever was! (Although I still have a long way to go.)

We owe our entire existence to a long line of ancestors from many different countries. I try very hard to honor them in my daily living by applying their old-fashioned ways of living to our current times! I am very glad that you, my readers, think it is important too!

I am planning lots of new things for this year. Currently, I am working on a new layout for the blog and I have many do-it-yourself projects scheduled for the summer. I hope you will find them interesting to read about.

 I thank you so very much for reading my blog!