Thursday, August 25, 2011
It's Thrifty Thursday!
Do you ever have one of those spells where it looks as though you must continually reach into your pocketbook to take money OUT instead of putting it in? I just need to adjust my thinking. Thankfully I adjusted the budget last month when John mentioned OT was at an end. What makes me nervous? Not so much really except that now all the birthdays are over for the year, I begin to think of Christmas which is only months away! Oh dear, and I have very little time. However, it's nothing that being mindful of thriftiness can't cure.
Thrift IS routine in this house. I can't, truly I can't, name all I do every day to save money. That's partly due to the fact that so much of it is habit, ingrained and therefore just not notable. I confess too that I tend to be more focused on what I'm spending and why instead of what I'm doing to save. But now and then I do something that seems to me to be out of the ordinary and so I share it. It might be something you already do on a daily basis, never think of, and wonder why I'm making special note of it. Because it is new to me, and it might possibly be new to someone else.
I'm happy to report that the petunias I trimmed back last week are putting out a little more this week as well. I added to my pots of flower this week. I bumped against a pot of coleus in town (our phone company has the most beautiful planters either side of their doors each season) and broke a leaf off. I brought it home with me and stuck it in a glass of water. It soon rooted, as did the two stems of ivy that Maddie broke and the three stems from my Christmas cactus that Misu jumped through. Yes, we are a clumsy lot of girls in our home, lol. I planted all three types of plants yesterday and they will hopefully be well established before the plants need to come indoors sometime in October. The coleus should be large enough by then to take clippings and start new plants indoors and come Spring planting I'll have several lovely plants ready to fill out a bigger pot.
Looking ahead, I have started to gather a few of the seed pods from the petunia, salvia and portulaca to sow towards the end of winter and have new plants for my pots. I also mean to cut back the geraniums and try to root slips of those. The truth is I have a green thumb and I know it. I just need to take advantage of it and put it to use.
I admit it took little urging on John's part to convince me to buy the premium German coffee we love. However, I think he was a bit surprised when it arrived and I immediately mixed a bag with the coffee already in our canister. One pot later, he was convinced it was a smart move. The coffee that had little oomph now makes a wonderfully flavorful and fragrant brew. And there's the added bonus that at least that one bag will now go twice as far. And yes, I'll likely buy a few more bags of inexpensive store brand coffee and extend the rest. It's what we did years ago when we first began buying this coffee and it truly doesn't compromise the flavor.
I use magazines and blogs and e-zines for inspiration and found such in a magazine earlier this week. It gave me a grand idea for a Christmas gift using some arrowheads my grandfather picked up on his farm years ago. That is one gift that I can mark off my list.
While I was digging around to find the elements to make the gift, I came across two other items I've seen used together (platters and silverware) to hang on the wall. Well those would be just perfect for my dining room wall.
Earlier this week I was cleaning the fronts of my appliances when it suddenly occurred to me that I could change the photos in the magnetic picture frames. I've had the same photos up for nearly 15 years! Now the grandchildren gaze at us each time we go to open the refrigerator door...and I think we like it just fine!
There were no remarkable sales this past week at our local store. I didn't even bother to go in for bread and milk. I just stretched what we had on hand to last until Tuesday when I planned to do a trip away from home. That shopping too was different. I shopped at one store and no other. I can't say I saved lots of money. I spent about what I'd normally spend. But I saved hours and hours of time and that was grand.
While buying produce for the week ahead, I made sure to think about what we could reasonably eat. This helped keep costs a little lower too and surely will reduce waste.
I needed to use up some yogurt this week. My cake recipe called for sour cream. Well that was an easy swap and it made no difference in the flavor of my cake.
I was outdoors Sunday when it began to rain. I saw immediately that one of my buckets had been moved and I knew just who did it. Miss Trudy wanted a drink from that particular bucket the other day and it was empty. She butted it with her head several times to vent her frustrations! Silly dog must have thought she was a Billy Goat there for a moment. Anyway, the bucket was getting some water but was completely out of range of the major point of run-off. This wasn't a particularly heavy shower, but no kidding inside of ten minutes the bucket was filled to overflowing. I used some of the water to water the plants and then let the bucket fill again. I caught about 15 gallons total before that little shower was over.
Maddie never did take to that wading pool I'd bought for her and while the birds enjoyed it for a wee bit, there was not enough water to keep it from blowing over. I leaned the pool against the pump house until I opened the shed. In the meantime, my husband came along and decided it made the perfect cover for his push mower. He strapped it over the machine and there you go...Now that mower is protected from the weather.
Cat food was on sale this week at a very good price. Even though Misu's food bucket is filled, I could hardly turn down such a good buy and so I brought home two bags. I believe in having a small stockpile of pet food, too. That's why when I went to Walmart last week I bought the super big bag of dog biscuits. They like that brand just fine and I have an old ice cream bucket where I store the excess that doesn't fit in the biscuit canister.
I made chicken tacos for dinner yesterday. Three breasts are too much for the two of us. Since the meat still contained plenty of ice crystals (partially frozen) when I cut it up for the tacos, I went ahead and diced one of the breasts. That went into a freezer bag and went right back in the freezer. It will be used for stir fry or fried rice later.
I made my own taco shells again. The taco dinner kits were on sale this week at Publix and weren't a bad buy, but 18 corn tortillas cost only $1.19. A much better buy than two kits. And oh how much better these homemade shells taste than those store bought ones!
I usually buy frozen French fries but today I used fresh potatoes today to make oven fries and they were so good. Truly I cannot say I saved a lot buying fresh potatoes over frozen fries. Honestly it costs around the same price for 5 pounds of potatoes but how much more versatile is that bag of potatoes than the French fries alone would have been. It's funny how we let things become habit. I began buying frozen French fries when I worked and I never stopped all these years. But it truly isn't necessary now that I have plenty of time on my hands, so why compromise on flavor now?
Megin wrote me asking if I thought a homemade creamed soup would work in place of the canned soups called for in many of her crock pot cookbooks. This was my suggestion: since most of the canned soups are condensed I'd make my cream soup using half the liquid called for and possibly increase the thickener used (flour or cornstarch usually) to get the same consistency as a condensed soup. This should work very well in most recipes if measure out properly. Most soup cans are 10 ounces and I would suggest a measuring cup that included the measurement in ounces so you add only as much as you'd normally put in...And here's a suggestion. If you have one of those canned soups on hand now, save the can once you've emptied it. Then when you make your creamed soup you can use it to measure the soup required for your recipe.
Now that I have a few food items stocked up, I'm working on things like personal care items, paper products and cleaners (and pet food!). I set aside a dollar amount each grocery shop to be used strictly for stocking up. This past week that included a can of evaporated milk, extra cat food, a 4 roll pack of toilet paper and over the counter pain reliever. On my list for future purchases: maple syrup, olive oil, shampoo and soap products (detergents and bath).
Yesterday morning was very nice. I opened the windows and let the house air out. It was nice to have the AC off and just enjoy the fresh air.
Time for me to close here. I have a few other tasks to take care of this afternoon.