Saturday, July 30, 2016

In My Home This Week: In Season

In my home this week:

We had another bit of company.  This time, it was Katie and Taylor come to spend the night and part of Saturday with us.  So glad I cleaned up that guest room!!  I told you all it would get a work out this year, I could feel it in my bones.  One day, I hope to be able to put a truly decent mattress on that bed and have it a really nice looking room.  But that is still on my some day list.

I won't mention weather.  It's July and it's Georgia, and I laughed at the young Texan woman I met this past week who had just come from Oklahoma who announced that as far as she could see, the biggest difference in Texas and Oklahoma and Texas and Georgia is that humidity adds to the overall misery of July.  I think there are moments in July that are rather nice.  I like the morning hours when the birds are busy about the yard.  I like the lulls that occur in the afternoons when thunderstorms rumble in the distance and a sudden cool breeze refreshes.  I like standing in the sun and just soaking in some of that truly good warmth.  I like watering plants and deadheading flowers while the hummingbird darts about.  I like that moment in the dark when the air suddenly goes soft and slips about you like a cotton sheet, with just enough weight and warmth to be noticeable, but not feel oppressive.  I like the fuzzy feel  of peaches and the green smell of garden plants, especially of sun warmed tomatoes.

I love visiting with those of my children I can.  I love that Facebook makes it possible for me to at least get a glimpse of my two oldest children's lives and to see photos of my long distance grands whether it's merely miles or circumstances that separate me from them.  I like that my guest room is truly being purposed as a place for visitors to come.  And even though I don't know what this year is meant to hold, I like that God has a plan for me, even if I can't see it;  He has a purpose for everything, even if I don't know it.  I'm liking this season of life.   

...I plan meals:

Katie and Taylor were here to spend the day today.  It was nice to have another woman in the kitchen once again.  I think Bess spoiled me in that!  The result of having  an extra hand in the kitchen was a new to me recipe to try.  It was something Katie had improvised in her kitchen this week and we further improvised in mine.

Cheese and Ranch Chicken Breasts, Squash, Potatoes, Green Beans, Homemade Creamed Corn, Cucumbers, Tomatoes
If this all sounds like a lot it wasn't really.  There are leftover beans and potatoes and a few tomato and cucumber slices, but there was only one squash.  The squash, cucumber and tomatoes were all gifts from Katie's little garden (and a lovely little jalapeno and another cucumber still to be used).  I reheated potatoes and opened a can of green beans for Taylor's benefit.  Our meal must have been pretty good because tiny girl kept saying "Mmmmm!  Yummy!" all through the eating.

For the chicken, we mixed half a packet of ranch dressing with about 1/2 cup of plain yogurt.  Katie crushed most of Taylor's gold fish crackers and mixed with some Parmesan cheese.  We dipped the chicken breasts in the yogurt mixture and then in the crumbs and baked.  It was truly tasty.

Adler inspired soup, Corn Bread pancake, Sliced peaches with whipped cream
An odd assortment of leftovers saved over the week will make up my soup.  I've a bit of meatloaf and broth from that baking, beans, potatoes, tomatoes, some onion.  John will be away at work so this will likely be two meals for me.

Spaghetti with Meat Balls, Whole Wheat Pasta, Mixed Greens Salad, Garlic Toast, Lemon Tiramisu

Mongolian Beef over Brown Rice, Steamed Broccoli, Sliced Cucumbers

Deli Grocery Day

On My Own

Fiesta Chicken Bake, Salad, Tortillas, Cinnamon Chocolate Pudding Cups

....I plan my work week:

Pay day this week: pay bills, run donations to the thrift store, grocery shopping

Finish unpacking and sorting out the stuff from the booth.  True, I don't mean to keep all of it but it must be unpacked.  And if I find I desire to keep a little more of it then so be it, lol.

Move garden items to the other shed so those things will be in a central location.

Frugal Boot Camp, Week Six continues.

Straighten up my closet. 

Alter a cushion cover I made that isn't doing as I'd like.

Work on my next 'photographic' area.  Not sure yet what space this will be, but I've ticked off the kitchen/laundry/back entry from the list entirely.

Continue to work on deep cleaning the kitchen.  I'm not knocking myself out hard on this, just getting a few things done all through the week in spare moments here and there.

Start cleaning up the back porch now that John's moved his tools and the garden tools.

...I plan my leisure hours:

Continue to play about with the genealogy notes.

Have more coffee conversations with John.  We've done a world of talking this past week and I've enjoyed it. 

Get a haircut.

Have a beauty morning.

Determine what my next book will be.  I should finish the Miss Buncle series of books this week.  I've been enjoying my leisure reading despite all my Frugal Boot Camp reading work.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Frugal Boot Camp: An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler

An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler is aptly subtitled "Cooking with Economy and Grace".  Published in 2011, the book is available on Amazon for $10 hardback.  I am sure there are other sources but I didn't take time to seek them out.

 I think, after reading this book and M.F.K. Fisher's How to Cook a Wolf,  that the most readable of cookbook authors have known what it is to have little food, but know too that little food is always the making of a feast if it is approached with the right mindset. 

Adler is a proponent of using all of something, be it vegetable, fruit or innards of an animal that many people find repellant.  She reminds me that there was a day and a time when, as an elderly relative once put it, "We ate all the pig, except the 'oink'."  It was considered wasteful to do otherwise.

And so I find myself determined to be yet more economical in my kitchen.  I've saved bones for broth and ends of onions and carrots and celery for broth making.  I've saved peels and cores of apples for making jelly.  I save ends of bread loaves and last bits of cornbread in the freezer.  And to what purpose?  So that I can make the dog pup Popsicles from the broth we don't eat or toss the bones because it's taking up room I deem more valuable for 'real food' and ditto for the apple peels and cores.  My sole saving is that I do indeed use the bread pieces for stratas, French toast and croutons.  It's not enough.  For all of my 'zero waste' mentality and determination to use it up there are many things yet that might be used in this kitchen.

I love that Adler suggests what you might do with leftovers, burnt or over/under cooked foods.  I like that she suggests purchasing the least expensive cuts of meats, using all of the vegetable or fruit.  I like that she even has a chapter on digging into the further reaches of the cabinets and using canned beans or tomatoes or other items to create a meal. 

If it's merely recipes you want this book may not be the one for you.  If what you need, as I did, is a reminder of how foods might be used to their fullest, and how one needn't go hungry nor spend fortunes you don't have to satisfy the need for food, then this would be a great book to sit down and read and absorb.  And I do mean absorb.  Truly I started this book two years before I could finish it the first time because it made me think so hard as I read it.  Now I have made my way through it again, I feel I have learned a great deal.  That's saying something after spending 48 years in the kitchen preparing meals. 

Frugal Friday: Frugal Fitness Training Camp Week Five

Yummy fried green tomatoes were on the menu last week...I do love them but the silly green tomatoes cost more than ripe ones if you must purchase.   Oddly when you grow your own they all cost the same... Thanks to Mama who provided this one for us.

Saturday:  Today marks the beginning of week five of boot camp. Two more weeks to go and honestly I'm tired but I'm pushing forward.  This is for my own good...

Turned of ceiling fans and fans before leaving home today.

Packed bottles of water and packets of crackers for snacks on the road.

Remember my plans to save $20 a week?  I said I'd save all my fives to cover that and this week I put $35 in my savings from my pocket money.  That's only $5 more needed to cover next week's $20 as well.  It means I have a lot less pocket money than I'd planned but I am very serious about saving the $20 to fund other home projects.

I also set $40 aside in our account, which will cover two weeks. That will be vacation funds! It may not always be possible to put that much aside but I'm going to do what I can.  Nothing saved, nothing gained, right?

I received my free bra today.  It's a nice bra.  I plan to wear it a few times and see how it feels but if it's as comfortable as it feels at the moment, I plan to order some of these.  I'll share details later.  I've already looked up where to buy and costs.  It's very reasonable while on sale.

Sunday:  We had to refill the car today after our trip yesterday.  I have money set aside for gas for trips and we'll use that to cover this expense.

John and I went into Publix.  I'd meant to buy a 12 pack of canned drinks but 6 packs of bottles were $1 less, with $1off coupons on them and were also buy one get one.  Obviously a much better purchase.

Stuck to my list while in the store.  My only 'splurge' was to get a packet of buns to make the sandwiches for our dinner today.

Purchased a Sunday paper.  And picked up the Publix coupon flyers while we were in the store, too.

I haven't been feeling well, so we kept meals very simple.  I picked up deli roasted turkey and we had sandwiches from that.  Not something I'd normally do but necessary today.

Monday:  We had an early appointment this morning.  John and I had a sketchy breakfast so we stopped to eat something a little later.  We paid out of pocket money.

Made a return and that money went into the bill box to be used next pay period.

While John went to his appointment, I stayed busy.  I brainstormed various methods and means of saving, asked myself a lot of questions.  8 pages later...I'll share some of these thoughts soon.

We comparison shopped on a big ticket item.  We found a bargain that was almost 25% less than any of the rest we'd priced.  So we made a big ticket purchase today, using cash we'd saved.  It is a new shed, since John's shed is storage for the mower and prevents his getting in for his tools.  As well, we find we're often the free storage facility or children prefer when they are moving (five times thus far) and since the two sheds are now full of other we really needed this extra space.  It does seem the more I declutter the more storage we find we need which is odd.   However, again I most note that we've three closets in the house.  One is filled with John's collectible and music things, one is our clothes closet and one is the pantry/linen closet.  We still laugh that we chose a home with fewer closets than the one we'd lived in for years...

Came home and had a quick lunch.

Sorted out one of the many files in the file cabinet and thinned it considerably.  I took a half hour and filed all the loose papers.  I'll sort out another file tomorrow.  This is in an effort to get fully organized and rid ourselves of still more 'stuff' that prevents us finding the necessary and continually requires us to add still more spaces to stash things.  Thinning means we can fit more in what we already have.

Leftovers for supper tonight.

Organized the fridge today.  I froze salsa that we weren't eating quickly enough.  I have enough to make a recipe or two.    Also froze some horseradish in recipe sized portions using an old ice tray.  When solid, I'll pop into a jar and keep that in the freezer.

Tuesday:  I made pancakes for breakfast this morning.  I put the leftovers into the freezer.

Cooked the last two sausages in the box (extra over our breakfast sausages) and put them in the fridge.  I will use those on pizzas for dinner one night or on cheese toast for breakfast.

Sprayed some stains and left the items to soak for 24 hours.

Sorted out another section of files. 

We had a lighter lunch than planned.  I was unprepared to have the oven heat up the house today.

Pulled curtains on sunny sides of house.

Used natural light as much as I could to work by today.

Saved another juice bottle to fill with water for under the counter storage of emergency water.  I've found the rectangular bottles allow me to fit more under there than using round jugs.

I added a diced peach to the orange segments I took from the freezer.  This made a very tasty fruit salad to go with our meal.

Called and cancelled a service that was 'renewed' but had previously been free.  I saved $300 by paying attention to billing.

Finished another book for Boot Camp.

Wednesday:  I started the day on a run.  I'd planned last night to use up two rather shriveled (but still lovely) peaches in making oatmeal.  It was delicious. 

As soon as I finished, John was ready to go outdoors to mow.  I knew I needed to water my poor plants.  I used the hose today but later in the day I used some water from boiled eggs, mixed with the egg shells and coffee grounds to water both the hanging baskets of petunias and the hydrangea.  This should bolster those plants nicely.

Came indoors and did a quick job of the housework, then settled to work in the kitchen.

I thawed about a pound and half of ground beef last night.  I made burgers for supper last night and today I made meatloaf with the rest of the meat (about 1 pound of meat).  I added grated onion and carrot, a few end pieces of bread soaked in a little milk, the last bits of pico de gallo (minus the juice). 

I cut up the last four potatoes and put them on to boil.  I set more than half of them aside for hash browns one morning.

I boiled eggs.  Some will likely end up being egg salad but some will be snacks for John.

I made tuna pasta salad for dinner for tomorrow when I know we'll be out until right about dinner time.

I made extra coleslaw so I'd have some for slaw dogs later.

I rinsed dishes over the dishpan.  I used the water with soap added to wash the few dishes I needed to wash by hand.  I then dumped that water over some of the plants outdoors.

I took an hour to cut coupons and organize them, to scan sales papers and determine where I might get the best price on several items I was considering buying. I also edited my list to take some items off.

Mindful of Tamar Adler's and M.F.K. Fisher's kitchen hints, I saved both the drippings from the meatloaf (broth and fat) and the liquid from the can of green beans in a jar.  I'll use this to make a soup for supper one night this week or weekend.  The jar is in the fridge so that I'm mindful of my intent.

I also started saving compost today.  I partially cut away the top of a milk jug and dumped in all the vegetable leavings plus coffee grounds, egg shells and paper towel.  Yep, paper towel.  I dumped this outdoors where there is a spot of bare earth, so I can mix the compost and the dirt.

Thursday:   Started out the day fighting an ant infestation.  Not in the food cabinets but parading across the counters and stove.  It's especially frustrating when I have been watching for scouts and having seen them, tried hard to track where they were coming in  from.  I also took extra care to clean very well.  Lots of spray used this morning and a powder killer as well.  Ugh.  Then the house was vacuumed very well indeed to gather any more that might be scouting.    John will spray about outside the house, which seemed to help a lot last summer when they started moving in.

Cleared files and organized contents of folders.  Realized as I sorted through financial papers how abysmally unaware I am of what we have...I shall be stepping atop that a little bit as it's foolish to not know what assets you have!

Overall a very quiet day of work.  I cleared the booth space this morning.  The owner of the store offered to let me continue through the paid period of end of month to see how I might do in sales but at this point it just meant the stress of clearing booth would fall next week when I've other plans and a possible prorated amount of rent to pay as well. 

John wisely suggested I take along our two big suitcases and pack things in them.  I took saved newspapers with me and wrapped items and then cushioned things with folded sheets from our linens trunk.  This worked extremely well.  While they were indeed heavy they held the stuff in a contained way so no tumbles occurred and to my knowledge nothing broke in transportation.  I confess it was far too hot to unpack and stow so I'm not positive on that last point but we didn't hear any breakage occur.

John took the shelving from the shop and set up in his shed, which allows him to now start moving things to the new work shed and not merely pile stuff on the floor.

He offered to pick up lunch in town but I happily informed him that I'd prepared a tuna pasta salad yesterday for the express purpose of eating when we were done with the booth work.

Organized the laundry area using what I had.  It looks much neater.  Not as pretty as those nicely matched pieces do, but neater goes a long way to improving a space.

Found gift bag and tissue paper in my stash for the baby shower gift.  Also found a card to put in the bag with the gift.

Brought home the cutest little favors, just perfect in size.  They were small pieces of cake packed into 4 ounce jars.

Friday:  Made a quick breakfast from frozen pancakes saved from a meal earlier this week.

Dumped water from water bottles into a container to use later to water plants.  Heat is fierce here just now and lots of wind which is even more drying on the plants.

Started a second mess of composting materials.  While clearing files I've a lot of paper that are printed on both sides I mean to shred.  This will end up in compost, too.

I am saving pages with blank backs to print out items that won't be leaving house (no sensitive information going out) but that I need to print in order to clear Internet files.

Sometimes in saving money I have to ask myself a pertinent question:  Which store is the least dangerous?  Danger in this case means, what store is least likely to tempt me to spend more than I'd planned to spend?  Some items are indeed cheaper at the dollar store but I seldom stick to my list hard there because there are a plethora of cute and pretty little things that don't cost much but attract the impulse buys.  Sometimes the higher priced local grocery store is the best place to purchase things.

When I went into town today to buy peaches and pick up a couple of needed items at the grocery, I was so tempted to stop and pick up something for lunch.  I knew John would enjoy it...But I stopped to think of what I had at home: leftover tuna pasta salad, plenty for another meal and some leftover meatloaf that we might also eat.  I came home and we had leftover salad for our midday meal.

I purchased a big bag of peaches and a bag of tomatoes.  Plans are to share with Katie if she comes to visit as planned.  If not I'll put the peaches up in the freezer to share with her and Bess another time.  Besides I need to put by a few bags for cobblers over winter.  I can always make up more of the marinara sauce from the tomatoes.

We've had some nice wind the past two days.  It's made drying laundry a breeze...

I am going to stop here today and go plan out weekend meals so I'm not tempted to spend money I oughtn't over the weekend.

What did you do to save this week?

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Iced Tea Chat: Glistening Weather

Hello dears, do come in from the heat and sit here near the fan.  I've lemons, limes, and plenty of tea and ice to cool us down a bit as we chat.

Let's not discuss the weather over much.  Let's agree that it is perfectly seasonal and now that August is looming just days away, it's exactly what it ought to be and so we'll leave it at that.

Let's don't discuss politics or the world at large either at the moment.  Respite is needed.

I think the lovely young woman above looks very cool and collected don't you?  But the neckline of her dress bothers me no end.  It doesn't look quite comfortable.  I'm afraid were it me, I'd be agitated and tugging at that bit that stretched across my throat.  I wonder how it would look to unbutton the top two buttons and lay it across the bodice there in a sort of flap.  Still perfectly modest, but not quite so strangling.   It would be quite pretty with a print of some sort on the reverse, even if it were a white on white pattern... Well never mind...that is the way my brain works these days.

Do take note of that vase next to her.  It might be copper.  I like the warmth of copper.  It was very popular in that particular era of time.  Well honey, you too can indulge in copper as it's fully on display at Hobby Lobby at present.  Apparently it is 'in' once more, which just goes to show that if you hold on to things they will indeed come around once again.   It was really lovely to see that warm metal displayed, so much warmer than brass or silver and not quite as pretentious as gold sometimes seems.  Copper just has a sort of  glowing look to it, even when as elegantly styled as that vase there.  And just see how the chrysanthemums seem to embrace the warmth of  the color!  See how lovely both pink and deep yellow are with it? 

Which is rather nice together by the way, pink and copper.  I have a sort of copper colored lipstick that Katie chose for me years ago, Kasbah from Rimmel,  which I generally wear in summer.  Yesterday when we came back home, I changed into a pink t-shirt and happened to glance some time later in the mirror.  I was still wearing my lipstick and I saw how really well the two colors complemented each other.  I hadn't realized how much pink was in that color as well as the copper.

It seems I've accomplished very little of late.  It is partly due to the heat, of course, but it's also due to my inability at present to concentrate on anything in particular.  That is the trouble with creative urges which demand to be acknowledged and satisfied and scatter the thoughts across multiple areas.
It's also been due to the fact that we've been fairly busy the last few days.  There was grocery shopping one day and a day of cleaning the house up really well prior to Shabat.  Then a visit to the kids in their new home which was a long day and a too short visit in my opinion.  Sunday we went to church as John had an extra Sunday off this month and then we stopped at the grocery and I spent more than I'd thought I might with not one splurge item in the buggy except a half pound of roasted deli turkey.  I was not well Saturday evening when we returned and John was most anxious that I not do too much that day, so the turkey was his treat for a quick meal.  I did manage a small amount of housework on Sunday.  Monday we had an early morning appointment which meant a sketchy breakfast eaten rather quickly.  We were gone until well into the afternoon at which point I did a tiny bit more housework and reheated leftovers from last week for a meal later that evening.

While I was out Monday morning, I worked.  Yes, I worked.  I took along pen and paper and I sat down and wrote out pages worth of thoughts about incorporating savings into my homemaking.  I did this a couple of years ago and I was surprised how many more means I'd come across to add to those.
Some are old things, long forgotten and not needed until now.  Some are new things to try.  

I was put out one day this week to discover it was dinner time and I'd no idea at all what to prepare...but the truth is I  realized how warm it was and I just couldn't bear the thought of the planned menu nor the long drawn out process of the alternative I had in mind.  No, I have not much desire to cook these days.  I have a great desire to eat meals in a timely way but not so much the desire of cooking them.  It's a good thing we live too far away from take away and delivery options.  It sort of forces me to get creative.  We must eat...what are the options?   I raided the fridge and cupboard and looked at the possibilities.  I finally settled upon a bowl of tomato soup and a sandwich. I decided that just because the soup was canned was no reason to have it just plain.  I made it with milk, added a small spoonful of Pesto and a sprinkling of Parmesan and topped it with croutons.  I promise you it was every bit as good as that soup I love so well at our favorite restaurant... the stuff that goes for $3.99 a bowl...It made my $.49 can of soup and it's $.25 cents worth of additions taste even better to note that it was as good.  And for that price, we both got a bowl.  I realized yet again that while I enjoy eating out, eating at home is so much less expensive!

I have been admiring my kitchen but also giving it a critical eye.  I took the initiative after looking at the digital camera shots and seeing how cluttered the counter tops seemed and  removed nearly everything.  Then I carefully put back a few items at a time.  It's better, but I can see it needs more work, a little more editing.  Do you know what I find myself thinking I'd like to have?  An electric percolating coffee pot.  It takes up so much less room than a coffeemaker. 

John wouldn't be half so happy with a percolator because you can't make coffee quickly.  His desire is a Bunn coffee machine that makes coffee in 3 minutes.  His next favorite ideal is a Keurig, which Katie introduced him to and it too made that instant cup of real brewed coffee.  There's John caught up in the 'instant' world of the modern day;  here's myself saying, "What of it if we have to wait ten minutes or so for it to brew?"  Of course, there's also myself admitting that the timer set up on our coffee maker is a lovely feature.  It's one of the nicest things ever to wake and find that my servant has supplied me with coffee the very moment I'm up!  If only it could also bring it in to me so that  I might be as the ladies of the house were in Edwardian times, with their first cup of coffee (or tea) in bed each morning.  Then again, I think not.  I've no desire to face anyone much before I've had my cup of coffee!  And I've never been much for eating or drinking whilst still abed except on those lovely Mother's Days of years past when the children brought in a tray at breakfast hour to surprise me.  I think I am not 'to the manor borne', but very much the maid herself who was up early to serve the household.

Today we went into town rather early to shut down the booth.  I'd sold a few things over the past week, almost enough to make rent for August.  Too little and too late.  I was much amused by two statements the store owner made.  One was that there were people who would miss my booth as she had several customers who always headed straight to my booth...Alas I wish they'd been the buying sorts of customers!   And then she made a very slightly critical comment.  "In this business you have to constantly keep it fresh."  I'd say she's just right in many ways but I couldn't keep putting money into the booth if the booth wasn't generating money...And from the contents of that shop, I'd say many more of her patrons felt as I did.  I admired yet again something I've looked at for the past two years but can't quite afford.  Apparently nor can anyone else.

I'm not bitter.  As I wrapped my items up today to pack (in suitcases yet, which was John's brilliant idea and it worked marvelously well), I set aside very few for myself.  But I still like every single item I had in the booth.  If I did keep them all it wouldn't be a horrible thing.  I liked them when I bought them.  I like them after all this time.

It felt right to shut the space down.  I kept testing, to see if I had hard regrets but I didn't. It felt right, just as it had felt right to set the space up.  It was all timed just so.  It fit another season in my life, but it doesn't fit now.  And so in testing, I found I was very okay with it.

Last Friday I was busy sewing an ottoman cover for the newer ottoman in the living room when my phone rang.  It was Josh, who had gone to his Mama and asked for 'Gah'.  We had a sweet little conversation and Josh obliged me by replying to my questions.  True it was single word answers but it was enough to truly be a conversation between us.  I told him we'd see him the next day, after he'd had a big sleep.  At that point he took the phone to Bess, told her "Milk...Nigh', Nigh'."  and went off to take a nap.  I explained to Bess that Josh needed to understand it was a real night time sleep not a nap!

Bess talked to me a little and explained that she'd found Josh had been on her computer and tried to Facebook call me.  Well my computer swears my system won't support a Facebook call any longer and I've no doubt it's quite right since Microsoft Edge has pretty much taken over my computer.  However, later that day when I sat down, I noted that Facebook said I had a voicemail.  I figured it wasn't anything much but listened and do you know that Josh had left me a message?!  He said "Gah...You...You..." and apparently when I'd failed to answer I could hear him running away crying "GAAAAHHH!" at the top of his lungs.  Apparently that was when he took the phone to his mama so she could call me. 

When we arrived the next day, Josh grinned from ear to ear.  His face fairly shone at John when he reminded him of their secret hand shake.  It was a nice day, all too brief for sure, just a few hours of time.  When it was time for us to leave Josh was truly ready for a nap.  I explained to him that when he got up we'd be gone.  He looked at me with such great hurt and sadness in his eyes that it tore my heart a little.  It was terribly hard to leave and go home.  I mean that sincerely.

I'm afraid my concern was for naught.  His uncle arrived shortly after we left and completely distracted him from any unhappiness he might have felt, lol.  I wish someone might have distracted me from mine!

I'd mentioned to his great grandmother who was visiting (not Mama though she was there as well), that he'd voicemailed me, she shook her head... "I can't do that and I'm one of the few of my age I know who uses Facebook!"  I laughed. I'd told Bess the day before that he'd left a voicemail and I guessed this week that I might well expect him to send me an email next week.  And you know, he just might!

And by the way, Bess' grandmother is so cool...She is my mom's age or a wee bit older and recently traded in her convertible for a sports car.  She said the convertible just messed up her hair.  She has a lovely friendly personality and a youthfulness about her, both in dress and style.  Her fashion sense is not that far off mine so I admired what she had on a great deal.  She had driven up from her beach home in Florida (gasp!  so cool!) with a friend.  Her friend was about her age and every bit as chic in her own way.  She wore a crisp white shirt tucked into neat blue jeans and tastefully accented with gold jewelry and sandals.  I chuckled a bit at Mama who said "Y'all are cool Grandmas!" 

This frugal boot camp thing has proven to be a lot of work, hard work, just as any course of study can be.  So far it's a lot of reading and note taking but I've my list of ideas to put into effect when I'm done though I'm already incorporating a few here and there.   I've been busy in the house as well.  I don't know just why but it's seemed very important to me to get rid of clutter...  I do know why.  I've friends who are moving.  No less than five separate households are packing up and moving.  As usual when any of my acquaintance move, I look about and wonder how on earth I'd pack up my things and move.  It always makes me anxious to thin things out, get rid of unnecessary items.  So that's what I've been doing, while generally trying to spruce things up, as well.  It's been a busy few weeks and there's always something more to be done isn't there?

I went through the house with my digital camera and took some photos of each space from various angles.  These photos are strictly for use as a housekeeping tool, which I had to reassure John was all they'd be used for.  So many spaces needed a bit of work.  Some work to clear up little messes I'd gotten blind to over time, some work to refresh, some acknowledgement that things simply weren't working as they were.  I've almost finished the kitchen and plan to work on the laundry area a bit.  I was pleased enough with the way a few areas looked and I noted why they worked well so I'd get clues as to what to do in other spaces.  When I'm done with Frugal Boot Camp I'll have time to more fully concentrate on home things.  That should take care of August.  Then in September, if it's a little bit cooler, I'll be back outdoors tending to things.

John and I sat down at dinner the other day and made out a list of things we needed.  We couldn't afford every thing right away but we knew we needed some place to store several items needed to accomplish the jobs we wanted to do.  So Monday, after our appointment and a rather nice second breakfast to make up for our sketchy one at home, we drove down to price sheds.  Yes, another shed.  Which really does make it sound as though we burgeon with belongings and yet I promise we do not.  It's just that John started parking his mower in his shed, which also holds a lot of old keying equipment that belonged to his dad and himself when they were locksmiths some 30 years ago.   This shed will be for his tools, which he can't quite get to in the old shed, and for our garden equipment and then we'll probably turn that metal cabinet I bought into a potting bench for myself.  I'd bought it to house his equipment needed to be near the electric outlet but honestly the cabinet just didn't work well for some of his bulkier pieces.  Our ultimate goal is always to be neater and nicer indoors and out, and better organized.

Well it's been a lovely chat.  I think I needed this time to rest a bit.  I feel quite ready to get up and tackle another chore.  Onward woman, onward...

Frugal Boot Camp: The Supermarket Survival Guide

The Supermarket Survival Manual  by Judy Lynn Kemp is a great book.   I cannot find an image online and my copy is too brittle to even think of scanning.  However, the book is still available on Amazon for a mere $3.  Written in 1973, this book is every bit as relevant as it was the date it was published.  And here's a hint ladies...You know how I love vintage women's magazines.  I prefer those written in the 1940's and early '50's but there is a world of good info in those books published in the 1970's.  I remember the 'cough' not depression we had back then, too and started married life in that era.  These ladies (and men) knew their cost cutting stuff through experience so don't think the 1970's homemakers didn't know their cost cutting tricks. 

My copy was sent to me some years ago and I've thumbed through it enough to almost wear it out.  This book starts out with good information in the INTRODUCTION;  you gotta love that.  For instance, did you know that you don't need to purchase the top of the pineapple if you're paying per pound?  That any grade of egg works as well as another?  I am sure there was a day and time when eggs differed but if you're scrambling them what's the difference?  I love this bit of wisdom:  Look at the eggs you buy.  Roll your open hand over them.  Broken eggs will show up...Let the market make the omelet...Get a good dozen.

She also points out that not all bargains are a bargain, i.e. the paper towel that not only doesn't absorb well but requires four times as many sheets as you'd have used of your usual brand, or buying a block of American cheese and eating it up in three days as she sliced it too thick, nibbled the bits that broke off etc.  She decided that purchasing the pound of sliced portioned cheese ended up being less costly for her household.  It's this sort of sensible advice that I like about the book. 

I liked the way Kemp reminds that pennies equal dollars....Not new information to us but it's well worth repeating if only quietly inside our own heads.  She also points out the fallacy that grocery shopping is going to be fun.   The excuses we can often use are debunked as well.  Driving across town (or to the next) to save two cents is not going to cut it, didn't in 1973 when gasoline was almost dirt cheap there for a bit and sure as heck isn't today when gasoline is less than it's been.  Price comparisons can be done with sales sheets and these days those are almost always available online and you can sign up to have them sent to your email weekly.  I got three today, so I know it can be done.  You don't need to know the price of every single item in the store.  You just need to know the cost of those you'd normally buy.  A price book is a help but not necessary.  I can tell you right away when tuna is on a good sale or is cheapest to buy at Aldi without a price book because I know what it costs at Aldi...  These are just a few of her bits of wisdom. 

I won't go chapter by chapter from this book because there are about 20 chapters though it is a tiny book.  I will say again that there is good advice to be had in it, sensible sort of advice and it's well worth the read and the expense of adding it to the bookshelf for your own use.   

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Frugal Boot Camp: Frugal Luxuries by the Season

Frugal Luxuries by the Season by Tracey McBride was published in 2000.  It is still available in many bookstores online and most copies go for about $19.00.  It was published only in paperback form.

What can I say about this book?  It's been terribly underutilized by me and I mean that sincerely.  I loved Tracey's book, Frugal Luxuries and have worn the pages thin, but this book I set aside to 'keep'.  What a foolish woman I've been! 

As expected by the title, the book is divided into the four seasons and for each season there are several chapters.  Lovely hints about celebrating holidays, recipes, seasonal d├ęcor, seasonal luxuries, and tips for filling the  pantry and gift pantry by the season as well.

Because it is summer I made the rather unoriginal choice to begin this lovely book in the summer section.  I'm so glad that I did, because I had been enjoying the fruits of summer: fresh corn, fresh tomatoes with just enough tartness, lovely summer squash, peaches, berries, melons...It's a lovely time of the year (and a frugal time) when the abundance of foods become very inexpensive and readily available to even non-gardeners.  How fortunate for us that gardeners are so very willing to share their plenty!

It was also a reminder to me to look for seeds for lettuce, parsley, peas, carrots and beets to grow here in the fall, all easily grown in pots...I've done so successfully before in our mild climate.

I garnered many wonderful, soulful ideas for enriching my home this summer (and autumn, winter and spring) in reading this lovely book.  I thought this quote best bespoke the heart of the book: "How we view ourselves--our abilities, our purposes, our aspirations--makes us either rich in spirit or impoverished.  Choose now to enrich your life and affect the future by consciously checking destructive habits--and cultivating positive moments.  Cultivating positive moments...that's what we are all doing in working to create our homes on a budget, in our very striving to make the very best of whatever our limited resources may be.

I will end this review here, but urge you to purchase both of Tracey's books.  I shall be reviewing Frugal Luxuries soon and I am curious to re-read as I haven't fully read from start to finish for almost 5 years now.  I am looking forward to the perspective I will gain as the person I now am, the person these books helped to shape into being.

Tracey has Pinterest boards as well as blogs and they are as lovely as these books of hers.  I plan to add both these to my list of places to visit during this Frugal Boot Camp period.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Frugal Boot Camp: This Week From Pinterst

This quote really stood out to me this week from a post:
"A person can go broke buying good deals."   Indeed! Another good reminder to myself that unless I'm getting a rock bottom price on something I need to keep my money in my pocket.

I seemed to focus on quotes I found in the first perusal of Pinterest.  I didn't note where I found these next two so they may have been memes:

"Budgeting is telling your money where to go, instead of wondering where it went."

"Living on a budget is valuing your money enough to know how much you have and how much you can spend and respecting yourself enough to bother."

You must gain control over your money or the lack of it will control you ~Dave Ramsey

Another post on a No Spend month netted these two steps that were not mentioned in other posts as 'get started' ideas:
#1.  Place your subscription services on hold. I'm thinking this is stuff like Birch Box and automatic order fulfillments from Amazon, and such.
#2.  Shop your closet.  I'm certainly not new to this concept, lol!  Still it's amazing that it was a good reminder to me to do it. had a post that interested me no end.   The whole site is a money saving woman's dream source.  All sorts of good information and I mean to visit there and begin an in depth look now the books on my shelves are dwindling down to a mere few.   I gathered these nuggets from there:

#1.  Round up expenses and Round down deposits.  This is something I've only recently been doing in my checkbook.  While I write out the correct amount for bills, I make sure to round up on gasoline, grocery and other miscellaneous expenses.  I had not thought to round up deposits.  In her example Jillee suggested some pretty big leaps.  For instance a deposit was rounded down to the nearest
hundred ($1,163. to $1,100)  and the expenses rounded up to the nearest ten ($163 to $170).   I tend to just round up to the next dollar and I think I'll stick to that for now.  I am going to start dropping the cents off any deposit so if we deposited $563.63 I'd write it in as $563.   Those cents add up to dollars soon enough with this method.

#2.  Pack a lunch when you're running errands.  Brilliant!  I have often mentioned packing a lunch when John and I were making a road trip.  I recall Amy Dacyzyn saying she packed  a snack and water for yard sale days.  I have not thought to pack a lunch for my errands day though...And I'm going to try to start being mindful of doing this!  It's usually my pocket money that gets spent but it's a savings for my pocket.

#3.  Drive no more than 60mph...we pay $.20/gal more for gasoline when we drive 65mph.   65 is about a standard speed limit on highways (and sometimes higher).  That's what the slow lanes are for, right?  And yes, I do tend to drive the speed limit....however, I made it a point after reading this to set my cruise control for 60mph.

I didn't note where I found this hint either. For years I saved my pocket change which we used to help offset vacation costs.  A few years ago we had another purpose for our pocket change and that is where we've continued to purpose it.  I saved $1 bills but used those to pay rent on my booth these past two years.  However, last week I posted that we should put $20 a week into an envelope to save over 50 weeks.  Then I read this hint to save every $5 bill that comes along.  Well why not save each $5 until I have my $20 each week?  I'm going to give it a try!  I have $35 set aside at present, nearly two weeks of 'savings'.  And I did it all by putting the $5 bills aside.

I continued to research Pinterest this weekend and first part of this week because frankly I am worn out with boot camp.  Not worn out enough to quit but just needed time to let my brain rest a little.  It's easier to sort through Pinterest pins and posts with it's limited information.  These things stood out to me:

Nine foods that last forever:  (1) Honey (2) Salt (3) Rice (not brown however, it breaks down sooner than white) (4) Cornstarch (5) Sugar (6) White vinegar (7) Pure vanilla (8) Hard Liquor (9) Maple syrup...  I'm not sure all of these would technically last forever, but it's true that they all have long shelf life and are good additions to any pantry in my opinion.  As with all things, rotate and if there are things here you don't use don't waste the shelf space storing it.  Hard liquor is nice enough but we go through possibly a small bottle in a year's time.  It would be silly to store a quantity of it when we've limited storage.  Cornstarch is another item I use only very occasionally.

This little list was a good reminder of why the rich get richer...and why frugal people save as much as they do!  10 Things Rich People Don't Do:
1:  They don't spend money just because they have it  This referred specifically to windfall amounts.  I confess that windfalls in our household DO get spent, usually paying off a bill or used towards a major repair that is needed.  We do not spend windfalls on frivolous things.
2.  They don't ignore retirement funds.  sigh on this one.  It wasn't that we ignored them, we literally couldn't afford them.
3.  They forget to give to others.
4.  They don't waste precious morning hours.
5.  They don't forget to take care of themselves.
6.  They don't turn away from the advice of others.
7.  They don't take any financial situation lightly.
8.  They don't buy without comparing prices.
9.  They don't forget to set goals.
10. They don't share those goals with anyone.

Being frugal, naturally I was interested to read the 10 Habits of Frugal People:
1.  Use coupons (even $.50 or $1 is a savings)
2.  Have clear goals
3.  Stop comparing themselves to others  (no keeping up with the Joneses).
4.  Eat out less.
5.  Keep a thorough budget (that means not letting major annual expenses go unplanned for)
6.  Don't drive outside your means (used cars that fit income and lifestyle)
7.  Stay in contact with their spouses about finances, goals, etc.  Never assume you are both on the same page.
8.  Know your indulgences.  Mine are hard back books, good perfumes and decent shoes.  John's are generally related to music equipment and books.
9.  Aren't house poor.
10.  Keep their priorities in line.

And finally this little nugget was tucked in an otherwise droning post:  Buy for quality, not for price.  A spin on the old "buy the best you can afford" but for some reason this quote resonated more with me than the older axiom ever has.

That's my Pinterest gleanings for this week.