Monday, May 13, 2013
I'm going to take a break of a couple of weeks time here. Not headed out anywhere this week but just wanting to catch up on the things I've missed doing with John working. Tomorrow I'll run a few errands but I'll be home by the time John's ready to sleep. Wednesday I'll be working away at moving things around. Katie is moving and that means half my shed will soon be empty. All the things I've been squirreling away here and there indoors can now go out to the shed. That will be a rather massive undertaking, as I also mean to move out excess furniture I can't use any longer and that means rearranging things and that means I'll want to un-decorate so I can re-decorate. Then there's yard work that must be tended to, groceries, a baby shower, synagogue, a cook-out for EMS. It's just going to be very hectic.
I promise I'll be back in two weeks time, ready to post and share photos of what's been done.
In between stretches I mean to enjoy these blue skies and unseasonably cool days. I've not turned on the AC at all today. In fact, about 2pm I told John I was COLD, yes really, sitting here with the breezes blowing into the house I actually go chilly. I worked outdoors this morning for an hour or so and never broke a sweat. Ditto for this evening. I moved the patio furniture down the patio a bit, picked up some sticks and raked hay and didn't even glisten.
After I came indoors this morning and had rested, I walked around the house and took photos with my digital camera, as suggested by Mrs. Catherine a few years ago. It's an eye opener! I realized that some of what I was seeing was just general clutter, so I went back through the house after looking at the photos and moved all the excess stuff to the guest/craft/storage space to be dealt with later this week. The house looks better but lots to do yet. So....See you in a couple of weeks and I hope I've accomplished enough to tell the difference during that time!
Thursday, May 9, 2013
#1. I had to get used to having John about day in and day out just at first. This was helped along by those many vacation days he had to use up from September through December somewhat. Gracious if I hadn't gotten used to having him around all day long by December, I wasn't ever going to get used to it.
#2. Rearranging my personal work schedule. The homemaking routine I'd carved out years ago and pretty much lived by was suddenly not workable at all. Big projects, little projects, basic housework were all being let go and badly. I felt I spent most of my time scrambling to do what I could while John was awake and cast in amber when he'd lie down. I finally decided I'd just have to learn to cope better with the time I had available. That took me about two months to work out.
#3. Then I went Back to Basics. I didn't care about the routines any longer. I just wanted to get the basic tasks done in each area every month. Last month I decided to go back to basics and it worked so well that I not only accomplished all the basic jobs, I had time to tackle a few smaller jobs. I found that if a drawer or cupboard was messy I could set that aside as my quiet work while John was working. I can't believe how many of those bigger projects could be broken down into mini jobs and were fully accomplished last month.
#4. Front loading my days. I've always known I was a morning person. It's my high energy time. I was missing that energy rhythm as I worked evenings and mid-mornings and scrambled to fit in tasks around meals and naps. So last night I promised myself I'd slip off to bed at a decent hour, and I'd get up when I awoke at daylight. I have to admit I've gotten into some bad habits. As John's work week progresses, I stay up later and later. And I get up later and then loll about after breakfast, too. That has never worked well for me and I don't know why I even let myself get so out of good habits.
Last night, I went to bed around 11:40, which is late, but not terribly so. I didn't get up at first daylight this morning, but I was up shortly after 6:30. I cannot believe how much I got done. Before John even got home this morning, I had done Bible study, stripped the bed, washed and hung to dry one load of clothes and was ready to start a second one, exercised, had breakfast prepped, remade the bed, showered, and had the dishwasher partially unloaded. After breakfast was cleared up, I vacuumed, folded and put away the second load of laundry after it dried, prepped lunch, sat with John and chatted and started Challah bread before he laid down for the morning. I was so fleet footed and ready to tackle just about anything! This left the afternoon for the sort of quiet piddly work I've always preferred to do in afternoons, reading mail, etc. And it means that the evening hours are now relaxed, easy hours perfect for leading up to a decent bedtime hour.
I mean to repeat, repeat and repeat. Perhaps once again I can find time for a fun day once a work week? I sure hope so! I've missed my outings and with Katie moving into her own apartment and emptying three quarters of my shed soon...well I've got storage room to spare for any
I thought I'd share a few pictures. I bought new cushions for the patio set yesterday. Cushions, umbrella, table and chairs came in under $200 all told. You'll note the patio is a work in progress. What you can't see is the big pile of wet hay at the foot of the porch steps or the pile of bricks I've stacked to one side. I want to make up some flower pots but I'm thinking they need to be a little larger than my usual ones to have impact in the space. John used the patio for a dry spot to work on the mower.
When I removed the old cushions today I noted that they were faded but in very good condition overall. I'm going to keep my eye out for a pretty sale priced outdoor fabric that I can use to recover. The old cushions can then be used on the chairs I have on the porch and deck.
I have been completely enamored with the current globe and map trend in decor. I was thinking about house projects and my need of refurbishing the end tables in the living room and suddenly remembered a map I'd bought at the dollar store. I did this project this week. Not finished with it, yet. I'd like to paint the edge of the table a pretty green I think, although the current wood tone goes well. I want to seal the top with polyacrylic.
I decided it was high time I stretched myself and learned a new kitchen skill. Today I made Challah for the first time. We used to buy a loaf to have for our Shabbat evening but lately I've been making Rhonda's Grandpa's Bread which is a go to recipe for buns, pizza crust, loaf bread. That's a good bread but I really wanted Challah. I think the bread turned out pretty. My recipe made one large loaf. I decided it was better to make three small loaves. John and I have already taste tested the smallest, but I have a loaf for two Shabats, lol. I didn't brush the loaves with egg. I must buy a pastry brush. Gracious but I have an ever growing list of little things that would be helpful to have.
The top piece of meat is cut WITH the grain. You'll note that it looks like lines run up and down the slice. The bottom slice is ACROSS or AGAINST the grain.
Now I am going to start getting ready to settle down for the night. I want to be sure and front load tomorrow, too!
May 1: I had buttermilk in the fridge that was nearing the 'best buy' date. I poured into half cup containers and froze. I saved out 1/2 cup, added 1 cup of milk and let sit at room temperature overnight. Now I have 1 1/2 cups 'fresh' buttermilk. The buttermilk cost me $2.49 for a half gallon. My savings today: $3.29.
Made four meals at once. Dinner for today, a quick to eat meal for tomorrow after shopping, and two meals for the freezer. Skipping our usual shopping day meal saves $11.49 (we eat at the same place and get the same thing each grocery day). Putting a convenience meal or two in the freezer used items already in the refrigerator. A bag of bell peppers (savings $1.49), 1/3 pound portion of grilled sirloin (savings $3.99), 1/2 can turkey Spam (savings $1.25).
Colored my hair. I used just 1/2 of the toner and dye (I keep a separate bottle just so I can do this). Savings $3.60.
Washed a full load of dishes and a full load of clothes. We set both machines to 'short' cycles. Dishes and clothes were air dried.
May 2: Rather than make two trips, we combined errands and grocery day. We started by taking trash to the dump, stopped at the post office to mail a package.
John wanted to make copies of photos and decided to stop at CVS. I went to the kiosk to print off the free Hershey/M&M Mars coupon. I was surprised that I also had a $5 coupon for any beauty product. I'd wanted very much to purchase the Nichol OPI polish that was on sale ($7.99, $1 coupon, $2 ECB) but felt that the cost simply didn't go low enough to warrant the purchase. With a $5 coupon, I could have the polish I wanted. My out of pocket costs for polish and candy bar were $2.29 with a $2 ECB to use on future purchases. Savings $7.
Lowe's was our next stop. I wanted plants but was disappointed to find they were $9.98 for a 12 pack. I thought I was going to have to cut my purchases short...until I discovered the 'dead plants' rack. The plants are really dead. In fact, the 12 packs I bought had 10-11 plants that were perfectly fine. The price difference was great though. I got 3 12 packs for $4.98 each. Savings $14.94. That was the cost of a bag of the premium potting mix I like.
I wanted a trellis for my rose bush but didn't feel I could afford one at Lowe's this week. Even the least expensive one was well above what I had to spend. Sigh...Until I got to Aldi and discovered the lawn and garden sale in effect. There was a trellis, exactly like one I'd seen at Lowe's. It was $9.98. Savings $20.
May 3: No AC on today. We opened windows and let the house air.
Hemmed two pairs of jeans. I measured twice, cut once. Hemming isn't a problem, but cutting makes me nervous.
A few months ago I downloaded the Kindle app onto my computer. This week I found a free book listing.
I downloaded ten free books. Some of the books are full length, some are 'previews' of books, a few chapters. Savings $40 for three full length books.
May 4: We were off to synagogue this morning. We stopped at DQ for the $5 special. I think that is one of the best buys in the fast food industry just now. Today we opted for hamburgers (they come with lettuce, tomatoes, onion, pickles), a small order of fries, medium drink, small sundae.
Plans were to stop to 'look' at a couple of stores. We missed the turn off on the interstate and found we were halfway home before we could turn back. I guess we didn't need to 'look' or to spend either one. There's a savings there, I'm sure of it, but who can calculate it? lol
Rainy, chilly, drear. We came home and I decided we needed a heartier meal for supper. I put a roast in the oven. The warmth was appreciated as it knocked the chill off the house.
May 5: Another chilly, dreary day. We fought for covers last night. We dressed warmer today, and kept the heat off.
John washed and hung a load of clothes to dry.
I used leftover rice to make a pilaf to go with Chicken Kiev. I could have bought a boxed mix for $2, but gracious there's nothing to making pilaf and it's so versatile. I minced onion and celery, added garlic, raisins cooked in a bit of butter until the vegetables are tender, add in rice, a bit of cooking sherry (apple juice or white grape juice and a splosh of vinegar would work too, as would white wine) and heat through until the liquid is absorbed. Just before serving add sliced almonds. I think my pilaf cost about $.75 to make. Savings $1.25.
May 6: Made sloppy joes from scratch. A can of sauce runs around $2.29. Making my own sloppy joe sauce runs about $.50 and we had enough to serve four generous sandwiches. What's more, my sauce is full of vegetables (celery, onion, bell peppers, tomatoes, zucchini and carrot). It's good for you and tastes good, too. Savings $1.79
May 7: The plan was to mow the lawn. We went into town and got gasoline and blades. Both items paid for from our 'house fund' money that we set aside each month for just such expenses. Savings: $38.00.
The cabbage stem end with a lone tiny root that I planted a few weeks ago is doing pretty well. There are three 'baby' cabbages forming on that stem end. I don't know if I'll be able to grow cabbage to maturity from it or not but it's fun to watch.
The weekend rains (3 inches) revived the pansies once more. I'll have to find other pots to plant the things I brought home last week, I guess. I'm reluctant to replace the pansies until they are well and truly done.
Total for week: $146.00
Sunday, May 5, 2013
I like to play with my food. I like to cut and dice and slice. I like to sear and brown and saute and roast. I like to season with a bevy of herbs and spices and let the food soak it in. Yes, there are good 15 minute and 30 minute and 5 ingredient meals. They do have their place. Like when I'm on vacation and the beach and a sunset walk is just beyond that stove... But a hurry up and get it done sort of cook I am not on the average day. I enjoy cooking. I like to eat it.
Yesterday when we headed home from synagogue it was raining, as it had been since the night before. It wasn't a heavy rain, at least not then. It was more a misty cold rain, steady and drear. Even though we stopped for a hot lunch on the way home, I wanted a home cooked hot meal, one of those that take time to prepare. So when we got home, I changed clothes quickly and rushed into the kitchen to pre-heat the oven, gathered the ingredients and made a proper rainy day meal. Yes, it took a while to cook. The heat of the oven was welcome. The temperature dropped a little more while the meal cooked and the rain came down heavy hard. As time passed, John kept telling me how good the food smelled. Our meal was delicious and warming. Just what we needed for a rainy Spring evening.
Roast Beef with Mustard Pepper Rub, Oven Baked Potatoes, Green Peas with Thyme, Biscuits with Pan gravy
I mixed a paste of Boar's Head Dijon Mustard (with a nice bite of horseradish in it) and Montreal Steak Seasoning and rubbed over my Rump Roast. I put it in a slow oven and baked 30 minutes per pound. This made a perfect medium well done roast. After resting for 15 minutes I sliced it very thin for our meal. Good!
Chicken Kiev, Rice Pilaf, Steamed Broccoli
I've been meaning to try these Barber Chicken Kiev breasts I bought with sale/coupons last month and haven't tried yet. Well today was the day. They taste pretty good, are certainly worth the sale price, but I like the homemade version better. I had leftover rice, so I cooked up some diced red onion, minced celery, a bit of garlic, a little red bell pepper and raisins and then added in the rice along with some cooking sherry. That made a very nice Pilaf to go with the chicken.
Fajitas, Corn on the Cob, Tossed Salad
I'll use leftover roast, cooked peppers and onions, and a little cumin and chili powder for seasoning. We are able to get fresh Florida corn at Aldi and boy is it sweet and good. John likes to add a bit of sugar to the pot when he's boiling corn. He adds enough water to the pot to cover the corn and salts it after it's cooked. I prefer to use just a 1/4 inch or so water in the pan, pop in the shucked corn, put a lid on it, turn the heat up to high and let it steam about 4 minutes. Both methods work just fine. I'll make homemade Ranch dressing to go on the salad of lettuce and tomatoes.
Tuna Pasta Salad, Saltines, Lemon Brownies
I opened a can of turkey Spam over the weekend and cooked a couple of slices for our breakfast. There's an old favorite recipe that calls for canned luncheon meat and cooked pasta. I'll make that meal for the freezer, and use the rest of the pasta to make our favorite Tuna Pasta salad. The lemon brownies are a recipe I pinned this past week. Rhonda made them this past week and said they were really good. I don't have a bit of worry making a recipe Rhonda has already tested. If she says it's good, then it's GOOD.
Taco Salad with Tortilla Strips, Strawberries with Whipped Cream
I'll use just 1/4 pound of meat in the salad. I'll make up the bulk of the salad with kidney beans, corn (leftover from our steamed corn and cut off the cob).
Baked Chicken Breast with Garlic and Rosemary, Zucchini au gratin, Green Salad with Strawberries and Almonds, Leftover Lemon Brownies
Way back when we ate low carb, I found this recipe for Zucchini sliced thin, layered in a pan with a dab of half and half and Parmesan cheese. It was so good. Creamy and delicious.
Sloppy Joes, Homemamde Buns, Sweet Potato Fries, Coleslaw
I'll use just a 1/2 pound of ground beef for the sloppy joes. I usually add diced zucchini, shredded carrot, onion, bell peppers, diced celery to the meat. We'll have enough meat filling to put some in the freezer. A convenient meal to have on hand.
Truth told, I was world weary last time I wrote and then went through a little spell of having my feelings hurt deeply. I suffered through the usual bit of "but he said..." until I was most thoroughly sick of myself. I sat here alone one night, very late and cried out to God for the umpteenth time, "What should I do?" and went off and read As I See It Now and found the post (click on the link to read) that answered my question. Forgive.
I thought about it...why oh why must we THINK about forgiving before we go on and DO it?...prayed again and I saw myself with this big dirty ball of rags. I whispered quietly, "I forgive," and I saw myself again with a slightly smaller dirty ball of rags. "I forgive. I forgive. I forgive," I repeated, watching as that ball of rags became nothing more than a tiny little pebble in my hand. But you know, pebbles can be mighty uncomfortable. I knew I had to forgive again and again until there wasn't so much as a GRAIN left.
As I shared with an acquaintance a good while ago, it's called forgiveness and not "forgotteness" for a reason. Forgiveness requires a sacrifice. When sacrifices were given in the Bible, the WORK of the sacrifice: the slaughter, the skinning, the cutting up, etc., all that gory, nasty stuff was the duty of the one making the sacrifice. The priest took the finished product and laid it on the altar but it was the one who needed to make atonement who did the heavy duty part of the sacrifice. It was messy and unpleasant, but necessary. Forgiveness is messy and unpleasant. It's a process and forgiving is the beginning of it. Forgetting is the very end of it. I haven't forgotten that I was hurt or what was said, but it doesn't have the power to pain me. Now when it comes to mind I just remind myself "Oh I've already forgiven that..." and I go on to the next thought.
But that wasn't all my life was about over the past couple of weeks. Mama and I went out for our day. We drove up into the foothill town we visit a couple times of year. Mama wanted to go into the grocery store. I picked up the items I could remember from my list that were NOT available at Aldi and a little more fresh fruit. A bottle of organic half and half (carageenan free), thyme, strawberries and some of the store's well known Apple Fritters were enough. We went on to a favorite clothing store where I scored TWO pairs of jeans from the clearance rack. We had a very nice lunch and drove home by a different route admiring the spring day all the way.
After that day out with Mama, I did well and truly 'retreat' for a bit, which was needed and necessary. I seriously considered a number of things. I've been writing the newsletter for 12(?) years now and blogging for 7. Do I continue? Do I want to keep trying to do both? Do I have enough to say? I have other things I'd like to write about but not enough time to tackle them while trying to work on both writing tasks. I'm having a hard time balancing my current time demands, my 'want to get around to' list, homemaking, yardwork, sewing, writing.
I looked over my goals for the coming month and what I accomplished in this past month. As I've said more than once, the world can end but by goodness food is wanted at the regular mealtimes and housework still needs to be done regardless of what else might be pressing in upon us. All of those things were dealt and thinking, too. I've reached a few decisions. No, I'm not ready to share them just yet, but will soon.
While I was contemplating changes in those areas, John came to me and asked I alter two other areas: the budget and my meal plans during his work week. Well... Adjusting meals is merely a matter of balancing my desire to have a hot meal midday and John's to have lighter meals during the work week. He would be happy as pie if I served him sandwiches all day long. I am not a happy sandwich eater. It takes a real effort on my part to have a sandwich for supper...and on the nights when he's working, I don't. I most surely do not want sandwiches at dinnertime (our noon meal) as well. I like eating fruits and veggies each day. Besides lettuce and tomato, sandwiches severely limit that option. Fortunately we're heading into warmer months and I can make main dish salads.
Adjusting our budget necessitated some nail biting, tummy twisting work. John leaves the adjusting part to me, but I run it by him for approval. It was not easy to figure out where to run the counter balance. In the end, I managed to wrangle it all into balance once more, with the changes he'd asked for. I'd warned him he wouldn't like the results of the revamp and he didn't. A lot of discussion ensued. Eventually we finally decided on a middle ground, halfway between what he'd thought he wanted and what I'd been working with these past few months. We'll save a little more, spend a little less,and the changes that occurred over the past three months were all factored in, too.
Funny that John, who requested the budget revamp immediately stated his dislike of budgets when I presented him with the new sheet. I explained to him again that a budget worksheet is nothing more than a road map that tells us where we are and where we want to go by the most direct route. There are, however, any number of little side roads that accomplish the same thing and are far more pleasant. I'd mapped out the most direct route. He decided upon the side roads method. We are both happy enough with the proposal and now have something to work with.
One step in the budget process is to make Aldi our main grocery shopping stop. I will do minor shopping at one or two other stores, but the bulk of our purchases will come from Aldi. The savings we net there are simply too great to discount. This month has only proven that a good basic grocery store truly does suit our budget best and we've certainly not suffered for lack of anything.
What is it about working a budget that 'calls' up expenses? lol. I have Mothers Day, two birthdays, a baby shower, and a graduation present which should go out in the next two weeks. We've had two leaks (both of which John managed to fix at little to no expense), a printer that suddenly decided it no longer worked with our computers, had to purchase a new router/modem, discovered the problem with my new sewing machine is a repair shop job. It will all sort out in the end but is frustrating when you've just determined that you'd spend less. On the other hand, I vented my frustrations by choosing to purchase parts for the blender, vacuum and stove hood instead of scrapping and buying new of each of those. It's always a balancing process, isn't it?
The Back To Basics approach worked so well for April goals that I decided May was worth a repeat. So all my home keeping and personal goals are just about the basic things. I even started a menu plan based on basic cooking skills/seasonings/meals (lighter on labor as well as lighter fare). At the end of April, I'd accomplished more about the house than I'd done in several months. I kept track of all the 'extras' I got done in addition to the basics so I am sure this method is working for me quite well.
I had opportunity to twice practice grilling. John hasn't really let me do it on my own just yet, but I've done the majority of the work: cleaning the grill, setting the fire, lighting it, prepping the food, doing the bulk of the cooking. I hope to grill at least once a week as it warms up. I figure that will help keep some of the worst heat from the house in the hottest months. I want to set up my crockpot on the deck, as well a day or two each week.
My front porch is now free of hay. I wish I could say the same for the patio, but I can't. While John was working under the kitchen sink, he asked me to get something for him. I tripped over his foot and injured one of my toes. Oh how that hurt! I don't know if it was broken or jammed but it turned the loveliest shades of purple which clashed horribly with my coral nail polish, lol. It also put the end to elliptical bike and yard work as I toddled about for a day or two. So the hay got swept off the porch onto the patio and then I recouped and it rained and there is now a big pile of wet hay on the patio. I'll work on the other side of the porch flower bed this week and get the hay moved there as mulch.
For Harvest Day this past week, I went by the new Dollar General Market in Ft. Valley. It's a full grocery as well as dollar store. I didn't purchase groceries though I scanned a few produce items as I walked in. It's quite nice and bright and uncluttered, always pluses for me. I loathe dark and cluttered stores mightily. The produce was certainly pretty and a bit better priced than other groceries, though not quite as low as Aldi prices. I picked up the few non-grocery items I had on my list that weren't available at Aldi and were slightly higher priced at CVS sales last week.
We normally do takeout lunch that day and I had the coupon for KFC boneless chicken dinner combos (B1G1). The chicken proved to be substantial sized pieces (2 in the combo, with 1 side, 1 biscuit and 1 medium drink). Our only complaint was that the seasoning, which is supposed to be original, is a bit peppery. Others who've tried it commented the same. I resorted to pinching off the excess coating in areas where it was particularly heavy. You can try it yourself on May 6. Just click on that link to see what you need to do.
Thursday we'd planned to buy groceries only and then have another day of errands only, but John must have felt very well rested. He decided to do ALL of this week's errands in one day's time. I had a semi prepared list of things I wanted to get done, so was sort of ready for this spontaneous day. One of the things I find most luxurious about our life is that we are seldom in a hurry to do anything. We're rarely late for appointments and such, but when it comes to our personal plans we just sort of schlep about.
Thursday morning, I slept a little later than usual. Then when I got up we got caught up in an old 1951 film "Elopement".
We had no intention of watching a film, after all we had things to do, but we did and I wish sincerely we'd seen it from the beginning. It wasn't a bad way to waste an hour or so.
We headed out finally, making our first stop at CVS. John had a few photos he wanted to copy and I went off to the kiosk to print out my free candy coupon and discovered I had several high value coupons queued up. I'll share about that in my "A Year of Savings" for this week.
We stopped at Lowe's. I wish I'd had my complete list but I did have my plants list. I was a little disappointed in the selection of plants. Loads of them mind you, just lots of the same things/colors and none in the colors I'd most hoped for. Prices seemed a bit high, but I walked about and discovered the half price shelves. I got a 12 pack of Petunias, another of Vinca, one of Marigold and two Lavender plants plus a big bag of good potting soil.
John stopped for a haircut and I went into Kroger to buy our month's supply of turkey sausage. That makes it sound as though we eat a lot of sausage...and I suppose we do, since we eat it a couple of times a week with breakfasts, but then I make breakfast every single morning of the week and we do like a variety. I can, on occasion buy a bit of turkey sausage at Aldi, but I prefer the breakfast type and that is a rare thing. So I just plan to run into Kroger since it's right next to the salon he uses for haircuts.
We went on to Aldi after and I was happy to hear that the shifting of shelves and such in the store is due to an expansion of products. In the roughly year and a half since I first walked into Aldi, the story has become increasingly busy. There used to be perhaps six cars in the parking lot and some of those were employee vehicles but these days the parking lot is usually full. I'm glad to hear that expansion is in the works. Perhaps there will be more items available on a routine basis. Even with the dollar store shop, the stop at Kroger for sausage and my Aldi trip this week, I spent less than I'd budgeted. I cannot be anything except happy over that.
We haven't had the Tchibo coffee we like so very well in many, many months as I struggled with bringing the grocery budget down. With the savings we're making at Aldi, I priced the Tchibo coffee on Tuesday at GermanDeli.com and can easily afford to have the decaf coffee. We did give the Aldi decaf a third try but nope, we just don't care for it, though if I ever decide I'm giving up coffee, I'll just switch to that brand, lol.
John really instigated this return to GermanDeli.com to look at coffee prices. He'd mentioned, as we hammered out that new budget that he did hate the feeling we were getting less for our money rather than at least holding steady. He's perfectly right. I'd felt the same way myself. So as I sipped a less than stellar cup of coffee that afternoon, I thought I'd just go price and see if I actually was spending less on coffee otherwise. Turns out that the Aldi coffee that is so-so is less expensive. But since I'd normally try and buy decaf at another store, I was paying about the same price as the Tchibo coffee cost. There is one or two other brands I like as well, which occasionally go on sale as a BOGO offer from Publix. I may pick those up at times, but will watch for more sales at GermanDeli as well.
I ordered the coffee on Tuesday evening and even though I opted for the least expensive ground shipping, it arrived Thursday morning. You know I'm not going to waste a thing, though, right? When we came in from shopping, I put on a pot of the coffee to brew using some of that good Tchibo brand, but took the rest of the package and mixed it up with that Aldi decaf. The blend of the two is very acceptable. It will further reduce the cost of the Tchibo making it even more affordable. Luxury and affordability...gotta love that!
I'd meant to pot plants on Friday but we had a bit of rain, the weather cooled off, and the pansies exploded all over again. The blooms are smaller, not the huge palm sized flowers they were but still so pretty and happy looking that I'll just let them be for a little longer. I've plenty of empty pots I can fill with the flowers I just purchased...The vinca are going under the Faith tree and perhaps around the Gingko anyway, for a bit of color there. If Maddie will just forgo laying on them they should be right pretty. Usually they will reseed and return, too.
Well, I know it's been a long chat, but I was ready to talk a bit now that I've been fully introspective for a bit. I just needed that quiet time away to sort out a few things and I think I'm done. I've made a few decisions as I've said, have a projects list I'm looking forward to beginning work on, some fun things scheduled to look forward to, and all the usual work to tend to as well. Busy, busy. I can't fathom those who say they have nothing to do when they are at home...
Oh and please note that I'm implementing word verification. I know it's frustrating, I don't like it myself. A few months ago I put comment moderation in place. The trickle of spammers has increased to a major flood. I get several hundreds a week now and I'm sick of having to sort out my inbox every day. I'll see if the word verification seems to make any difference.
Time to get busy. I've promised John I'd make cookies and it's so cool that the warmth of the oven will be welcome. I need to process two quarts of strawberries for the freezer, begin work on a menu plan for the week, unload the dishwasher...Oh there's so much to do!
Friday, May 3, 2013
April 22: We were up very early. Incentive to work was sadly lacking but needs demanded we do just that. Laundry was top order with guest bedding making up the bulk of loads. We didn't do much of anything beyond the housework. Even our dinner was more or less scraped together. No money spent...There's a bonus.
April 23: John repaired the frames of two more of our windows. Only 9 more to go...He's done a very nice job on the windows he's worked on thus far. AND he is saving us the cost of having someone come in and reframe them. Our expenses have been the cost of a gallon of Kilz and the cost of a quart of spackle, about $30 I think which is nothing compared to having them reframed!
I worked on my new sewing machine until I was cross-eyed, then John took over. We've narrowed it down to the area where the problem is, but don't know how to repair it. I've got one more solution to try and if that doesn't work it goes off to the repair shop. In the meantime, I used online guides to trouble shoot the problem and followed every single step the pros recommended. Just FYI one gal stated that she charged $65 to do just the trouble shooting part. At least when I walk in I can tell the repairman where the trouble is and what I've done. I don't know if it will generate a $65 savings or not, lol.
Off to pick up our glasses which came in today. The new glasses took a bit of adjustment for us both, as the lenses were shaped differently and the point of change in the line free bi-focal different from out old glasses. We each opted to keep our old pair as a back up pair. We were given hardcases and microfiber cloths as a courtesy. That's a savings of $15 for the two of us.
April 24: My day out with Mama. She wanted to go by a grocery store. I needed a couple of items I simply cannot buy at Aldi, so I picked them up. The money will came from my grocery budget so no added expenses there.
We visited a favorite clothing store where, when I am lucky, I can buy pants in my size off the rack. I scored big time with two pairs of blue jeans (my only need) from the clearance rack. I saved $20.
Bought lunch for Mama. I used my allowance to pay for our meal.
Mama shared grapes with me and I shared strawberries with her. We can neither of us finish a full bag/container of either one on our own. John likes grapes but isn't so keen on strawberries, unless in jam or cobbler.
Mama also passed along a couple weeks worth of Sunday coupon supplements and a stack of magazines she'd recently read. She subscribes to many magazines and divides them between me, my niece and a friend of hers. The 8 that she gives me each month saves $80 at the very best rates. I'm pretty sure she pays more than that for them.
April 25: It was time for my haircut. I save $4 by washing it myself before I leave home.
I changed the frequency of cuts to 5 weeks...This proved to be a bit too long this past time, but I got a shorter cut this go round. We'll see how that works out. If I'm not happy with the results in five weeks (and it is very short this time), I may adjust to 4 1/2 weeks. My stylist is very good at working with me and understands the need to work with a budgeted amount for haircuts.
I needed a pick-me-up after a rough morning and so I took a leisurely drive down country roads within a couple miles of my home. It cost far less than 1 gallon of gasoline and is far less expensive than, say a new lipstick or a new outfit. I won't count my ride as a savings per se, but of the options available I must say that sitting beside a beaver dam, watching turtles sunning themselves and the water ripple in the Spring breeze, it's not a bad option.
Came home and put together a quick lunch. I bought a deli-roasted chicken ($4 is too good to pass up for ready cooked food), cooked squash and beans before I left home earlier in the morning. This was a savings over the temptation to get take-out due to lack of planning. Savings $8.
April 26: Necessity demanded I work out a new budget. It's tight. It involves trimming in several areas. Hoo boy. We'll make it work, but we'll work doing it.
Opened windows this morning and let the cool air in. The house stayed quite cool and comfortable until about 3pm.
Inspiration struck me twice: I have recently had two fitted sheets tear and tear badly, as in no repair would help. I decided I'd make a bottom sheet from one of the two top sheets from the sets. This will save me the cost of another set of sheets right away (I like to have at least two sets for our bed, would rather have three).
There's nothing like a budget cut to make you look around at all that you'd meant to do before you realized you couldn't afford it, lol. I had hoped to buy new end tables for the living room but no such luck this year. I was trolling on my Pinterest boards. I have an inexpensive map that I'll use to decoupage on top of one table. I'll paint the other. I think I can make 'new' tables for about $10 which will come from my allowance.
Grilled steak. I used the egg carton method for starting my coals. It worked very well indeed. Used leftover steamed corn on cob to make Oaxacan corn. We finished off two bottles of the homemade dressing on our salad today. I'll make fresh next week.
April 27: Opened windows again today. No AC until just after 3pm. I enjoy hearing the birds call and letting the quiet creep into the house. When John napped, I turned off tv and simply enjoyed the day.
We had an easy dinner right from the freezer: Chicken Fried Rice, Egg rolls and a freshly made Strawberry Cobbler. It was just the sort of meal I wanted, as I wasn't feeling well.
Ordered a new gift card from Swagbucks earned over the past month. Earned $5.
April 28: Still not feeling well. I opted to have a fruit and yogurt smoothie for my breakfast.
John asked me to make cheeseburgers. Easy enough. I added a can of three bean salad and he had chips to go with his burger. I made extra for his work lunch. It occurred to me as I packed up the work lunch that had I added bread crumbs to the meat I'd have extended it by 1/2 again. I'll do that in the future.
John brought home a paper this morning. I noted a couple of sales at CVS that I'd like to take advantage of: a free candy bar and a bottle of nail polish. The candy bar is FREE with a coupon from the kiosk...the nailpolish is still a 'maybe' purchase.
Windows opened another morning.
April 29: Routine housekeeping was a real necessity today. John did laundry and hung a load to dry.
I washed a full load of dishes.
Watered plants with water saved from glasses/water bottles.
John thought there was nothing to go in his lunch...I just went through cupboards and fridge and found plenty of edible things he'd overlooked. It was only a matter of knowing how to make a meal of it all. Savings:$5
He'd offered to 'pick up something' after he got to work, but it wasn't at all necessary.
April 30: Just about an hour before John let for work, I discovered a small leak under the kitchen sink. I wrapped a towel around the pipe and skipped mentioning it. No need to cause an upset just before a hard night's work. When John came in this morning he repaired it right away. I could easily have called my brother the night before but I guessed correctly that it would make it through the night okay. Yes, the towel was pretty well soaked but no flooding. Savings $50 for an 'after hours' call to my brother.
Harvest morning. We sat down and worked out a new budget for the coming quarter. There will be changes...We're trying hard to keep it 'frugal' and not 'austere' but it's proving challenging.
Out to run errands. I brought my list and coupons, banking, mail to drop off, etc. There's a new store in Ft. Valley, a Dollar General Mart and they carry a full line of groceries. I was curious and decided to stop by just to see what they offered. I didn't buy grocery items. I'll stick to Aldi for the majority of that, but the prices were not very much higher than Aldi. I did pick up some non -grocery items that we needed. I knew these items were not available at Aldi or were priced the same as: tissues, hair color, a couple of travel sized toiletries I like to keep on hand for trips, etc. I compared prices to CVS on several items and determined that I didn't have to go into CVS after all, unless John went in later in the week.
Takeout Tuesday for us. I used a b1g1Free coupon for KFC's new boneless original chicken combo: 2 pieces chicken (1 white/1 dark), 1 side, 1 biscuit and 1 medium drink. I got 2 of these combos for $4.99. It was just the right amount of food for a meal for us. Savings $4.99. I might add that typically a 2 pc dinner costs us about $14 for the two of us. So I really generated even more savings using that coupon!
Total Week: $193.99
April Total: $1,045.23
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
I had a dinner plan...John admitted what he really wanted was fried chicken. No trips to town. I'd thawed out chicken. I fried it myself in the electric frying pan and added french fries to the oil. I made coleslaw from scratch. Typically this meal costs us $13 in town. I spent far less. Savings $9
Planted the cabbage root end. There were a few new roots on it and space in one of my pots to plant it.
Mixed up more shower cleaner. This particular recipe is very good at melting soap scum: Equal parts dish detergent (Dawn is recommended, but I've used Palmolive both times) and vinegar. Shake in a spray bottle, spray on the walls, leave for an hour or so, then rinse. No scrubbing is needed unless you don't spray well in an area. This costs about $1 to mix up and use (sale priced detergent, plain old white vinegar).
It does have a little vinegar aroma but that isn't unpleasant to me the way the chemical heavy stuff is. Savings $1 over sales priced cleaner. I used the whole bottle of detergent, have enough cleaner to use several more times.
I spilled a bit of dishwasher detergent last night. I've noticed that it has a little bit of a bleaching effect all on it's own. I wiped up with a cloth, rubbed over my stainless sinks, then used a green scrubber to really clean the sinks well. Boy did they shine when rinsed! I was happy not to waste the detergent.
Fed the dogs table scraps, cutting down on the amount of dog food needed.
Ancestry.com has a week of free marriage records this week. I took advantage of this feature last night and printed out a copy of the marriage certificate for a relative.
Ordered a book John mentioned wanting. I used the Amazon gift cards I'd earned from Swagbucks. Savings $12.
Ordered Lily's birthday gifts and had them sent directly to her. It's less expensive to have the dealer ship direct than to go purchase the gifts and then mail them. Savings $10. The money for her gift was already in our checking account. We set aside a little money each pay period for the grandchildren's birthday and Christmas. With six of them we have to!
April 16: Harvest day in our home. John and I sat down to pay bills and that upcoming 'third pay period' allowed us room to pay extra on the car payment. This month's extra was $266 over the payment amount! That means with the next payment we will have lowered our loan amount by $1000 in two months time and saved interest of nearly $70.
I did not feel well (seems to be a theme on pay day, lol) so I hurried off to do local errands only and skipped all the extras I'd meant to do. I won't count the non-spending as savings, because that money WILL be spent. It will just sit in our account for a short time longer.
John likes take out on this day. It's a simple way to acknowledge that he's brought home fruitfulness. I do try to keep our take out meals on the low end of the budget. Today I brought home a $5 Subway sandwich that we shared.
April 17: John came in and ran a full load of laundry. He brings his sheets and bedding covers home with him each week and washed those along with his uniform. We have enough pollen still that we ran the sheets in the dryer but he hung his uniform to dry on hangers.
We were off to have eye exams and buy new eyeglasses today. I had an idea of what we'd likely spend based on my last purchase. John did, too, based on HIS last purchase. We were both surprised to discover that we spent far less either of us planned. I chose frames based solely based upon what I liked as did he. Mine were just $25! His were not as inexpensive as my own but less than his last glasses. And because we booked our appointments back to back we got a 20% discount! That was a savings of $65.
We combined errands while we were out and bought groceries. We did pick up dog food at Walmart and I discovered that if I bought the 35# bag it cost no more than two $16# bags at the best sales price. I also bought AC filters there. Since we change them every month we buy the least expensive filters. I usually purchase enough for several months at a time. They run about $2.58 for four, compared to paying $1 for singles. Savings at Walmart: $1.42
Groceries at Aldi were right at our usual 'set point' spending. That included all the foodstuffs we'd normally purchase and stocking up on a few items (paper products, refried beans and seasonings). We saved $100,
the amount we'd normally spend at Publix each pay period.
April 18: Spent the full morning hours working in the yard trying to tame the overgrown flower beds. John went out to mow later while I cleaned indoors. We skipped lunch and worked through. I didn't even take any food from the freezer! He asked me later, when I took him water outdoors while he was still mowing, what I planned to make. "Nothing big...perhaps something from the freezer that is can be cooked in the microwave?" He said a sandwich would be fine, but I am the stickler for having at least one hot meal each day. I was piddling about the kitchen when I remembered we'd bought baking potatoes at Aldi this week. A can of chili from the pantry shelf, a baked potato (microwaved), some cheese, salsa, sour cream and we had a hot, filling meal in under ten minutes of cooking time. It cost less than one of my well priced freezer entrees, too. I figure my cost for the chili baked potato came in at $.50, a savings of $1.25.
April 19: Washed a full load of laundry (our sheets and clothes from the previous two days) and a full load of dishes.
I have a partially used bottle of dish detergent that my drains didn't like...but I figured if I used it every third or fourth load I might could finish it off and it would extend my current bottle of 'good' detergent. I used the 'bad' detergent to wash dishes this time. Not a whole lot of savings in it except I getting to use what I'd already spent money on. Savings $1.99.
We had internet troubles Thursday and Friday. I'd called the company and we'd gotten a fix the day before but even the fix didn't fix the woes on Friday. Since the company has been fondest of sending us out to buy new cables every three months (at $19.95 a pop), I protested when they suggested we go out and buy yet another cable. So we were told to wait on a service tech to call us from the local office. I told John I reckoned it was time for us to renew our contract and we'd get a new modem in the bargain. Ha. I admit I was psychic.
We got a new modem/wireless router (we'd had two separate units). This eliminated the cable entirely and cost us $45 and a new contract at the same monthly rate as the last one. John almost balked but as I pointed out the new modem/router costs no more than two of those cables we were forever being told needed to be replaced and at that price we'd saved the cost of 2 more! Savings $39.10.
We stopped and picked up chicken at the diner and brought home. I made a salad, mashed potatoes and roast asparagus to go along with. We have enough chicken for three meals for the two of us, and leftover mashed potatoes.
Made a lovely salad of romaine, sliced strawberries, sliced almonds and feta cheese. I mixed up my own salad dressing, Strawberry vinaigrette. Savings $2.59. I used some homemade strawberry jam, oil, lemon juice, vinegar and a smidge of sugar. It was so very good that I think I will experiment with other fruity dressings in the near future.
Made a Texas Sheet cake for our company meal on Sunday.
And bread for our Shabat evening. My recipe for bread nets me two loaves for about $.50/loaf. We'd been buying loaves especially for Shabat at $2.59. Savings $4.18.
April 20: With a two hour round trip and a long service followed by fellowship, making a breakfast that will last us from early morning to late afternoon is hard. John and I have found a number of restaurants near the synagogue with well priced menus. We try to choose options that keep us within the $5 or less each range. There are many more expensive options but we determined before we began attending that we'd set a budget to stick to. It's not a savings to eat out but it certainly makes that long drive home far more bearable.
We stopped on our way home to pick up soda, the first time we purchased soft drinks in a month. I stuck hard to that and only that when we went into the store. Not one extra item went into the basket.
April 21: Company all weekend long. Some went home on Sunday, more arrived on Sunday with a nice overlap time in between. John and I planned our meals carefully. I didn't have to send to town for one single item. That is a record. We had plenty of ice, drinks, bread and eggs and snack foods. Not going into town saved not only gasoline but any impulse spending I might have done.