Friday, August 30, 2013

Have a Safe & Fun Labor Day!!

Just wanted to wish everyone a safe & fun Labor Day!!  We will be visiting with family, celebrating birthdays, & eating GF birthday cakes (posts on those to come)!! 

There has been so much going on lately & I will catch up on that soon... I have some great posts coming & look forward to sharing more recipes, reviews, tips, etc. 

We are going to attempt to make this fabulous gluten free "Easy Lemon Poppy Seed Cake"  just for fun because everybody needs some fun, right?!  I say "attempt" because it will be my first ever Bundt cake AND I am going to use a homemade mix... so I will report back how it goes.  The recipe above was posted by blogger I recently discovered... & what a treasure her blog is!! 

Oh, & you can easily make a standard gluten version by using a non-GF boxed mix. 

What will you be doing for the holiday weekend?!  Will you be indulging in any sweet treats?!

Have a fantastic weekend,
<3 Mama Lee <3

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Fun With A Phone Solicitor

We have experienced a crazy number of phone calls from solicitors.  Calls as late as 9:30p.m... you know, the kind of call that makes you think someone is hurt because NOBODY calls that late?!

I am SO very T.I.R.E.D. of rushing to the phone for solicitors... if we don't answer they just KEEP. CALLING. AND. CALLING. AND. CALLING!!  So one particular phone call I did it.. I finally baffled a solicitor!!

I honestly don't know what came over me, but after telling the millionth solicitor that we are on the "Do NOT Call List" I guess I thought I would change things up a bit.

So here is how the phone call went:

Me: Hello!?

Yes, that is our CURRENT phone... remember way back
to the days of the 900MHZ cordless phones :)?! 

Solicitor: Hello, is Mrs. Lee there?

Me: Who is calling??

Him mumbling: Uh, what?!

Me: Well YOU called ME... who is calling??

Him mumbling again: Joe from... (couldn't quite understand what company he was supposed to be with)

Me: I have been WAITING for your call!!

Him: WHAT?!

Me: I have been WAITING for YOUR call!!

Him: What?!  Uhm... uh... M'am, you have a NICE day if you have been waiting for my call...

The last line he snarked with some sarcasm & then, he did it... HE. HUNG. UP. and did NOT call back ever since!!

Insert smiley & me doing a happy dance... my kids were amazed & wanted to know what he said when I said I was waiting for his call... as soon as they heard me say those words, they all stopped & watched me... waiting to hear what I was going to sat next... LOL.

So there you go!!  Apparently I must have freaked the solicitor out because he never called back... after calling multiple times a day for months on end, in spite of my telling him we are on the "Do NOT Call List" & in spite of me filing complaints at he called mercilessly.

If you keep receiving phone calls from solicitors, why don't you try answering Mama Lee style & see if it works for you too?? Oh, & be sure to come back & tell me about it (be sure to keep it clean though as this is a family friendly blog... I am sure I don't have to say that, but for the sake of full disclosure I will ;0).

What is YOUR favorite way to answer a phone call you suspect or know is from a solicitor??  Have you ever convinced one to not call back??  What is your favorite response to end the solicitor call madness??  A friend of mine used to answer the phone "Insane asylum, please hold..."... yep, true story!!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Hi!  I just wanted to give everyone a heads up that someone recently called my house claiming to be from Microsoft, stating that I have a Trojan virus.  Mr. Lee answered the phone so I was a bit confused as to who was on the phone when he handed it to me, but I felt it was a scam so I started asking questions… lots of them.  He then asked me to go to my computer & I declined telling him I thought it was a scam, said thank you (in case it wasn’t a scam), & hung up. 

After having time to process it all, I realized that if Microsoft called me, then it would not say “unavailable” on caller ID, 2nd how would MS know I had a virus, & 3rd I have AV software & it finds no virus of any kind.  Just to be sure my intuition was right I Googled & sure enough, it was a SCAM!  Apparently they have gotten money from some unsuspecting people. 

This is just one post about the scam, but it gives some good info:

These guys really know what they are doing & can catch you off guard.  I figured I’d share my experience so others aren’t caught off guard too. 

Have these scammers already called you??  Have you heard of this scam before now??

Have a great rest of your week,
<3 Mama Lee <3


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Reduce, Reuse, FREEcycle

By now most people have heard the phrase, "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle."  I have tweaked the phrase to be, "Reduce, Reuse, FREEcycle."  For anybody unaware of what "Freecycle" is or how it works, read on...

Freecycle is a worldwide, (truly) non-profit, movement of people giving & getting items for FREE... yes, F-R-E-E!!  Imagine wanting to clear something out because you no longer have a use for it, but you don't want to just put it to the curb for the garbage collectors to take up valuable space in a landfill... something that you know could be of use to someone, you just don't know exactly who or you know you don't want it sitting in a donation heap in a Goodwill Store back room, Salvation Army Store (we have seen MANY items get ruined at a particular Salvation Army store because they would just leave the donations OUTSIDE in their parking lot with no protection at all), etc...  I'd rather give an item away for free with no tax write off & have someone actually USE it, than have it get needlessly ruined & thrown in the garbage... enter FREECYCLE!! 

With Freecycle, you find a group near you via by entering the name of your city/town & state in the search box.  Then the screen with search results will list any possible groups based upon the search parameters of the city/town & state information you entered.  You then click on the link for the group nearest you & find out what their process is.

Some groups run their posting of items via a Yahoo group, that is only open to members for that specific Freecycle group.  The moderators are generally very protective to prevent spammers & scammers, and they take their role as moderator volunteers very seriously.  You do NOT have to log directly into Yahoo to post or receive the posts... you can do both right from your email inbox, so no extra effort necessary, unless you WANT to do it directly via Yahoo! 

Some towns/cities are too small to have their own group, so people may look to join a group for a neighboring town(s).  Some groups may even be for an entire county if one lives in a rural area.  In general, if you live in or near a town/city that is more densely populated, there will most likely be a local group or at least one in your area. 

Once you are approved to join a group you will be allowed to post a "wanted" or "offer" post (or some of each).  In general, you are allowed to post a "wanted" post 1 x a month for a specific item, so say August 10th you request a backpack, then September 10th (or after) you can post another request for a backpack.  You can post requests for other items, just not more than 1x a month for that one item/ item type.

Also, you can place as many "offers" as you want & you can do the items individually in separate emails.

Here is an example of a post I may write if I had a keyboard to offer:

Email subject line: 

OFFER: 1 keyboard in My Town  

Body of email:

I have 1 keyboard to offer.  Works well.

Please respond with pick up day & 2 hour time frame.

Near 5th & Main St (name an intersection near you to give people an idea if you would be too far away from them... it sure helps to avoid no-shows from people discovering you are 45 minutes away from them once they do an address search for distance).

Sorry, no deliveries, phone calls, or texts (I put this, you don't have to, of course).

Easy porch pick up (or driveway, etc.)!

Thank you!

You can also offer everything in one email (OFFER: keyboard, mouse, & note pads) & can say that people have to take one item, some, or all of them, etc.  You can even offer them as a combined group (OFFER: Office supplies/computer supplies).  There is really not a right or wrong way to post... people WILL see the posts & they WILL respond.

I do make a notation in my posts that I need a day & 2 hours time frame for pick up, that I don't make phone calls, deliveries, or texts.  Yeah, REALLY... you would be amazed how many people will ask you to call them... not to be mean, but uhm, I do not KNOW you, nor do I have time to play phone tag.

I have also had to request a POLITE response before if I have gotten a bunch of rude responses.  Sad to say, but people can be so rude... "I want it" or "I'll take it"...  No "please", no "thank you", no MANNERS at all!!

In general I have had very good experiences over the years or else I wouldn't still be participating some 10 + years later, but there are some people that will blow you away, so I feel the need to forewarn you.  I want to don't get any emails later from my readers asking why I didn't warn you! LOL  If someone is really rude, I just delete their response & may even mark their email address as spam so as not to have to deal with them again.  I have had to do that 2 times when I have had 2 people who would repeatedly request items & then not show up.  Me, being the nice mama I am, I would give them multiple chances because everybody makes mistakes, life happens, etc. but after someone does that repeatedly, it is really a nuisance.  If someone gets out of hand & threatens you (which I have actually heard of once recently), etc. then you need to contact a moderator for your local group & they may ban them, send you to the authorities, etc.

The general Freecycle rules are that you can give away anything that is NOT garbage & has life left in it.  You CAN give away something broken (you'd be surprised how many people will take something for parts, to try & fix, etc.), but you should always disclose that.  You may have something that has been stored & it worked when put in storage, but you aren't 100% sure now as you have no way to test it (or no time to test it, etc.), so just say that...
OFFER: computer keyboard in Your Town/City

I have a computer keyboard to offer.  It worked when put in storage 3 years ago, but I have no way to test it again now. 

You'd be amazed @ how many people may respond for something.  There are times when nobody will respond, which can just be due to the time it was posted at (that depends upon the time the moderators are able to approve & pass your post through to the group members) or it can be an item with no interest, which is pretty rare.  I've both seen & offered appliances, clothing, furniture, food, mattresses, electronics, boxes for moving/shipping, toys, empty jars &/or bottles, etc.  The possibilities are pretty endless with the exception of weapons, medicine, herbs, & a few other prohibited item categories.

Freecycle is explained as kind of like giving a gift to someone.  There is no right way to choose someone to give the item(s) to.  You can pick based upon who can pick up soonest, who replies the nicest, or based upon whatever you want to.  Some posts will say they prefer a pick up that day, a specific day and/or a specific time, or they ask for YOU to say when you can pick up.  When responding to a post be sure to provide all of the requested information from the person offering. 

Some Freecycle groups will allow you to add some fluff to a post, whether an "offer" or "wanted" & some will only allow very short posts.

Example with fluff:  

WANTED: kitchen items

I am looking for kitchen items for a friend who just lost her home (or job, etc.).  She can use pretty much anything for a kitchen.  

Without fluff:

WANTED: kitchen items

I am looking for kitchen items.

I admit that sometimes it is extra helpful to me to know what someone is looking for/ needs.  In a group I was in before moving to where we live now, they allowed posts with fluff, & I saw some requests for people who lost their place of living to fire, death, etc.  If someone lost everything due to a fire, they can obviously use tons of things & will probably not care much about style, color, etc. of something, or at least not while they are trying to gather things from the ground up.  Whereas someone looking to spruce things up a bit will probably have something more specific in mind as far as color, style, etc.  I gave several boxes of items to a fire victim & her family... things that may not have been super stylish (sheets, towels, etc.) but the recipients were so grateful to receive them and they didn't care about the colors, etc.   They just wanted some of the basics so they could put their lives back together ASAP.

Oh, something else to keep in mind is that if something is dusty, rusty, etc. it can still be offered, just disclose that said item needs a washing, has some rust, etc. so people know what to expect.  You are also able to upload item pictures, so if you have the ability to upload pictures that will also usually help you to get a lot of responses.

For ME to add pictures I have to take them with my camera, copy them to my computer from my camera card, & then upload them to my local Freecycle group site.  It is a painstaking process since I don't have a cell phone I can easily take & upload pictures with, so I usually don't post them unless I think someone really needs a picture. Oh, & no posting links to something, not even to show what the item is.  Instead you can mention in your post...  if you search for "whatever said item is" on Google, Amazon, etc. you can see what it does, what it looks like, etc. but no including any links.

When I post an item or items, I will usually let someone take 1, some, or all.  Even if someone wants to sell said them/s, I feel that, while some feel it may not be right to take it to sell it when someone else may want it to actually USE it, I am not going to worry about it.  I see it as a gift is a gift, no matter what they do with it... & a part of me feels like if they need the money that bad to sell whatever it is, then so be it.

When I place an "offer" post I do not give out the pickup location (which is usually my home) until I feel pretty certain someone is actually going to show up.  If they respond & say they want an item, I will then respond & say whether it is available or not.  If it is available & they say they want it, I will ask the day & time for pickup, if they didn't already provide that.  If they did, I will respond that they can have said item & can come at the day/time they requested.  AFTER they respond & say they will be coming, THEN I give out the address.   

If you post a "wanted" post & have received what you are looking for, you should then post a "RECEIVED" post that can be something simple like:

RECEIVED: soccer ball

I received a soccer ball.  

Thank you!

That way people who are going through emails/posts will know that you received what you needed.  I have actually had someone contact me about a post 2 weeks later to see if I was still in need for an item, which I was, & it was such a blessing to receive that item! 

If you offered something & it is promised or has been picked up, then post something like:

TAKEN: Computer Keyboard

The keyboard has been taken.  

Thank you!

It is is taken pending a future pick up you can say something like the following, or you can just wait to post until AFTER it has been picked up:

TAKEN: Computer Keyboard

The keyboard has been taken PPU.  

Thank you!

If they happen to not show up, then you can do a re-offer:

RE-OFFER: Computer Keyboard

I have a keyboard to offer due to a no show.  

Thank you! 

The idea of posting the item is gone is that it will hopefully stop people from emailing you wanting whatever said item is.  The sooner you post, the sooner it will stop the subsequent emails.  I usually keep a few email responses until said item is picked up, because if the original requester does happen to not show up, then I can email the next in line.

Again, there is no perfect way to do things.  Each group varies with what they will allow or not (like the further details as to why you want something, who it is for, etc.), so you just need to follow what your own group allows or doesn't  Overall, the basic protocol for each group is very similar to what I have described though.

I have actually met a few people whom I have become friends with over the years after multiple exchanges, so Freecycle can also do more than find a new home for tangible goods, it can also help facilitate friendships.  We have a Freecycle buddy, as we call her, whom has blessed our family with yarn, craft supplies, books, etc. over the past couple of years.  So recently one of my children made a craft for her & I made a sugar scrub for her hands & face to go along with it.  We wanted to say "thank you" & to hopefully bless her, as she has us.

We LOVE Freecycle & we hope YOU do too!!

Are YOU a member of a local Freecycle group??  Have YOU ever posted things on Freecycle??  have YOU ever received an item from Freecycle??  If not, are you going to give it a try??  Go ahead, you know you want to!! 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

My Duct Tape Confession

So, I don't know about you, but in my house with kids (and uhm, ahem, Mr. Lee) things just don't last like they used to.  I literally have things from when I was a 'tween & am wearing clothes from eons ago before Mr. Lee & I were married, but don't dare think that vacuum cleaner, phone, or whatchamacallit is going to last very long these days... sigh...

Enter in my deep respect & love for duct tape (AKA Duck Tape).  I don't have any of the fancy animal prints, neon colors, or pastels, but I do have the tried & true, SILVER duct tape... my FAVORITE!!  Anybody who knows me in real life (IRL) know that I have 3 things I tend to use and/or recommend as my tried & trues... vinegar, breastmilk, & duct tape... if at least one of them doesn't work, sorry, you are up a creek.. LOL... just kidding... or am I?! LOL

I have used duct tape for a number of things over the years... I have patched holes in my work jeans when I ran a garden center, I've held a corded wall phone together for YEARS & YEARS w/it (I know, I know WHAT is a CORDED wall phone?!), I patched a vacuum attachment hose, & so much more...

If I would answer our phone via the wall phone & the connection was bad, I used to have to tell people, "Hold on, I have to adjust the duct tape..." & they would LOL because they thought I was kidding... does THIS look like I was kidding?!

 If you step into my home it will be like you are going back in time... yes, people still have corded wall phones.  I honestly just like mine for the speaker phone option... you know, for the times when I am on hold for an hour trying to get through to a company who has outsourced their customer service & it takes ages to speak to a human being (hello, Dell computers...)?!  We are a pretty basic laptop, no wifi, no iphone, no ipad, no tablet, no fancy electronic gadgets, etc. but we do now boast a new & improved corded wall speakerphone (sorry, no picture of it... but at least for the time being there is no duck tape on it).  Why would someone frugal replace the beautifully duct taped one in the picture?!  Well, remember how I said nothing lasts long with kids... ahem, well, a certain someone in our home knocked it off the wall... not once, but 2 times in 2 days... the 2nd time it was beyond hope... even with duct tape.  THAT is BAD when duct tape won't hold something together...

Unfortunately I had to splurge and spend $28 including tax for a new phone.  The good news is that I waited for so many years that for the $28 we actually got a phone that works well... when I tried to replace it some 6 years ago I was going to have to spend $50 + tax for a corded wall phone w/a speaker that actually had decent clarity.  Being a frugal mama, even back then, I returned the phone back & just decided to apply more duct tape.  Had a certain someone not knocked it off the wall it would have still be working to this day... man, I believe that phone was a good 12-14 years old... the new phone is black, so if this one gets knocked off the wall, I may get fancy & invest in some black duct tape, but no promises... part of using the duct tape is to remind the offender what the result of carelessness is... I know, I know, mean mommy... LOL.

What are YOUR tried & trues that you tend to use??  Do YOU also have a deep love for duct tape?!  Do YOU have a corded phone in your house??