It was a very cool morning. Cool enough to warrant opening windows and taking full advantage of that cool air. We didn't turn on the AC until after 4pm when the house just got stuffy and too warm to bear. But all those morning and early afternoon hours of 'free' air didn't do a bit of harm to our coming bill.
We washed clothes, hung to dry.
Washed a full load of dishes. I turned off the auto dry feature on my machine. Instead I open the door once the last cycle is completed and let the dishes air dry for an hour or so. This works very nicely.
I watered plants with water I saved from water bottles and glasses that weren't finished. I also added in a pan of water used to boil eggs yesterday.
Dinner was an easy meal of chicken enchiladas, using one chicken breast and some cooked bell pepper and onion strips. I also added to the bottom of the pan 1 cup each of rice and refried beans. I used odd slices of cheese left in packets and nearing time to use up. With a green salad we had a very nice meal, quite hearty and had enough food for three people.
I spent the afternoon making peanut butter cookies. I like to make 'fancy' cookies while using a budget recipe. Simple as pie. I rolled the cookie dough into balls and then in white sugar to coat. Then I put the balls on the aluminum foil lined pan, pressed with the bottom of an old fashioned glass. The design on the pedestal bottom was of a small square with lines radiating out from it. The size of the pedestal was perfect cookie size and the cookies are just beautiful. Don't just take my word for it. John commented several times over how much he appreciated that simple little embellishment. Never discount beauty when saving money. You'll be surprised how it uplifts spirits.
As the temperature dropped we left the AC turned up high so it wouldn't come on until the next afternoon when it was quite warm once more. We turned on the whole house fan and let that cool the house, drawing in that cool outside air. Oh we slept well under our quilt!
Saturday: Bananas...all those bananas I bought on Tuesday despite being bought in varying stages of ripeness were perfectly ripe this morning. I made peanut butter toast with sliced bananas on top for our breakfast. A nice combination of carbs and protein to carry us through the usual long synagogue morning.
We went to lunch with the synagogue. Our meal was heavy and late so supper need be light and easy. John ate a bowl of cereal. I opted for saltines and cheese and a glass of milk. We were both well satisfied.
Sunday: I stripped our bed to wash linens and decided I might as well add in the curtains from our room as well to make a full load. Since John had the line full of wet clothes, I dried in the dryer, but timed them carefully to be sure to remove before they were completely dry. This allowed me to hang the curtains right from the dryer and wrinkles fell away as they finished drying on the rods. No need to iron.
We had plenty of sweets in the house, what with cookies and banana pudding...but remember those ripening bananas? Once they get sugar flecked John doesn't touch them. I had three left and I was determined not to waste one bite. I need three to make my banana pound cake recipe. I bake in two loaf pans and these freeze beautifully. With room in the freezer, it made sense to make the cakes and freeze after they cooled. I upped the recipe a little combining the Banana Pound cake recipe with a chocolate Pound cake recipe. Chocolate banana pound cakes...Oh yum! Compared the two recipes and found most measurements were very similar. Those that were different I halved the difference and added that in. Result was two moist delicious (of course we had to try a little!) beautifully crusted pound cakes. Safely stowed in the freezer for future treats.
About ten days ago I made a trip to a small town grocer with good prices on beef. I found a marked down packet of t-bone steaks for $2.99 a pound. I took them out of the freezer Saturday to thaw for our Sunday dinner. John was very pleased to find we were having steak.
I made homemade croutons from leftover sliced whole grain artisan bread to top our salad. This is so simple to do. I just dice, toss into a pan with a tiny bit of olive oil and cook over low heat until toasted, turning the pieces frequently to prevent burning. It is shocking how much better these homemade croutons taste than those stale, rock hard cubes in a box from the grocery.
I paid attention to an email from Directv on Saturday and discovered we were getting two free bonuses this month. One was for Sunday: Free NFL Sunday Ticket showings. John was so pleased to get to see NFL games! I felt I'd given him a real treat and all I'd done was read an email I normally ignore. The second free offering is a weekend of free Showtime and HBO channels the last weekend of this month. I'll try to take advantage of that, too.
Monday: Errands day: I always try to see how many things I can accomplish when we're leaving home. This day it was to take off trash and stop by the car wash to clean the outside of the car.
I took note of the mention of mums for $.50 at Lowe's in a friend's email last week. John and I had a short list of needed items from Lowe's and since we were going to be in the area this day, we stopped. I got my mums, some daffodil bulbs (40 for $9.98) and grape hyacinth bulbs (no clue how many but the packet was $6.98) and 8 of the mums. John also bought a piece needed to repair a broken doorknob and three other items from our list. We seem to always have a list for Lowe's and so each time we go in to pick up necessities we try to pick up one or two of our wants from the list as well.
John went on to get his haircut. That salon is next to a grocery. I needed the usual list of items: milk, bread, eggs, cheese. Yes, we added a few more items but I'm not too upset. On behalf of my budget I opted for store brand acetaminophen which was $6 a bottle less expensive than the name brand. Also picked up three bags of candy. The sales prices on Halloween candies is quite low at the moment. When a bag of chocolate candy is less than half the usual price, it seems a good time to stock up, don't you think? And even though we don't celebrate Halloween, those candies are beautifully wrapped for FALL color schemes as well. I'll be buying more next week when I go the grocery and putting it away for later. Chocolate is a year round food in our home and getting it at bargain prices is a good thing!
Note: pay attention to packaging labels when buying your seasonal chocolate candies. We very nearly came away with a white chocolate covered candy...John is not fond of white chocolate. And we did get home and discover that another bag of candy was a mixed variety and we didn't care for half the types in the bag. Oh well. Lesson learned here, but you certainly do not have to make my mistake.
I'd meant to surprise my husband with a 'picnic' luncheon, bought at the grocery deli and had under a shady tree with a nice breeze to blow over us...Humidity and heat put that idea down quick. John suggested we 'picnic' at home inside our air conditioned house, lol. I agree with him. So we skipped the 'side items' I'd meant to pick up and just bought a deli sub sandwich. Turned out to be a terrific buy. A foot long submarine sandwich cost just $6 was made from the premium deli sliced turkey and cheeses and bakery fresh bread. It was the BEST submarine sandwich we've had. I just might have to do that again sometime when they are on sale. Hopefully the weather will be more cooperative for a picnic next time, too.
Washed a full load of dishes this evening...Allowed to air dry overnight.
Tuesday: Nasty surprise. A bill came in higher than we expected it to be and further reading convinced us it might well be almost as high each month from now on. That was not what we planned or budgeted for! I reworked our budget sheet and we agreed that this month, due to the unexpected and unpleasant surprise we'd sacrifice savings to cover the bill. I'm just as convinced that next month we'll have money set aside in our budget and savings will not be touched! We'll trim elsewhere, even if it does mean shaving it a bit close in places. We're counting on seeing our electric bill drop and having a lower than estimated propane bill (which we're already setting money aside to cover).
We had a very nice lunch today: BBQ chicken, corn on the cob, Harvest slaw, cornmeal breadsticks. The breasts were a bargain price: boneless skinless FROZEN for $1.49 a pound. They come three to a package and I prepared all three. I set one aside to make two sandwiches for John's work week. Corn on the cob bought last week on sale and brought in for Labor day, will likely be the last of the season. Harvest slaw was just a little shredded cabbage, half a diced apple, a spoonful or two each of craisins and walnuts and mayonnaise mixed with lemon juice and sweetener. The cornmeal breadsticks were a bread making experiment I made last week that were leftover.
John kept telling me how good the meal was as he ate...But I must say I was distracted. I've never really learned to figure the cost per serving of meals. I just always try to buy things on sale and be cautious in putting too many high cost items into one meal. I think it's about time I learned how to figure out what each meal costs us. I might well find I can make further savings if I do and I'm definitely feeling today that I want to 'earn' all the extra income I can whether I'm cutting costs or working at a task that actually generates an income.
I overspent my grocery budget this past month namely because my budget amount changed mid-pay period. I'm thinking I need to pull myself back in line. So it's a pantry/freezer challenge time for me. I'll try to go the next two weeks buying as little as possible beyond fresh produce and try to get back on track. I think I've enough stock to carry me two weeks and if I find I can go a little longer I'll try for a month. Remember this is NOT a no spend challenge but a pantry/freezer challenge wherein we try to use what we have first to plan meals and buy only necessities to round out menus or extend our foods. Anyone up to joining me?
I don't have extra money just now to buy pillow forms to go in my pretty covers friend Susan crocheted for me. I used some rather flat bed pillows to stuff them instead. They look just fine for now.
I wanted a few pieces of art or something to fill up a blank wall in the dining area. I came up with a clever reuse of items on hand. I'd seen these on blogs and thought they were cute: platters with silver pieces mounted on them. Well mine are not really silver. But they are antique pieces: a sugar shell and sugar tongs. The tongs were a huge surprise. When Granny gave them to me they were rusty brown and I didn't much care for them, but I decided yesterday to try washing them under warm running water and rubbing gently with a steel wool scrubber. Honey! Those tongs are just as pretty as they can be. There's all sorts of detail I was missing due to the buildup of rust/dirt/whatever upon them. I'm glad I decided to give that cleaning a try!
Wednesday: My day out with Mama. I knew I had to stick to a hard and fast rule of not using the checkbook or debit card to make purchases this day. I had some cash on me and that was all I could spend. Just to reinforce this, I took a long look over the budget sheet once more, then looked over the checkbook and brought the balance up to date there. Those two things were more than enough to convince me!
Mama wanted to go to two stores that I find challenging when I'm strapped for cash. I'd also looked at my personal savings account and determined if I found a piece of clothing or a pair of shoes that I truly could use for the coming season, I'd purchase it if it fell within a certain dollar amount. That was my 'hedge fund', lol. I didn't use it however. I found a jacket I liked, and it was half off...it also had an ink mark and I wasn't sure it would come out. I went right ahead and put it back. Why spend money on something you're unsure of?
At lunch we trimmed costs very nicely. Mama and I ordered the same entree. She got salad with her meal and I opted for a side dish of seasonal vegetables. Well both are very generously served, so we split those two items between us. And we had a nice tall glass of lemon iced water for our beverage.
In Target I did very well indeed. I bought three items on the dollar aisle that were actually $1 each and a DVD that was $5. Under $10 and I was proud of myself!
Thursday: Took advantage of this morning's cool temperatures and turned on the whole house fan, opened windows. This kept the house very comfortable until about 11am. I felt the temperature rising and shut the windows before the AC came on.
Looked over that "surprise" bill we got on Tuesday. After looking at every page of it over and over again, I think I finally figured it out. True this month's fee is higher than we expected but I understand why now. We had a partial month's service, an activation fee among other things. I'm thinking now that I've figured high for the next bill, but I'd rather figure high and find out it is less, hadn't you? I can always use any extra we set aside to pay extra on the car.
Washed a full load of towels and washcloths and kitchen towels. Hung to dry on the line. That heavy breeze we've had all day long might have been blowing warm air but it's a terrific fabric softener as well. The towels felt like they'd been in the dryer instead of having hung in the sun and fresh air all day long.
Made buttermilk and yogurt. Buttermilk is super easy to make. Combine equal parts cultured buttermilk and milk, shake well to combine then let sit on the counter up to 24 hours (I usually just leave it there all day long). When you start to run low, just add an equal part of milk again and let sit.
I use TheFrugalGirl 's recipe for homemade yogurt but Hillbilly Housewife has a version that uses dry powdered milk and yogurt. I lightly sweetened my yogurt and added vanilla.
Set pizza dough to rise while I worked.
While doing fall cleaning in the bedroom today I found a frame in the corner behind my desk I'd forgotten. I mounted and hung an antique picture I bought about three years ago in the frame. I had no idea that picture would fit the frame and mat I had put away! I'm happy I pulled it out of hiding. I was planning to use it for a different print but the older picture fit perfectly.
I meant to take time out for fun today, too, but all I did was work, work and more work. I'd meant to start dinner in the slow cooker but never did. I found leftover Two Rivers Chili in the fridge and warmed in the microwave for a fast lunch.
I started to prepare John's work lunch for tomorrow, as well as cooking meat for pizza. I'd meant again to start a slow cooker meal but found my short ribs smelt just a bit off. I scrapped those. And I was prompted to clean out the fridge after that. A few other items nearing toss date were fed to the dogs this evening. Trudy was mighty happy.
I used 1/2 pound ground beef to make two burgers for John's lunch and 1/3 pound to make topping for my pizza. Also used an onion I'd use a portion of earlier in the week, as well as a bell pepper I'd used a portion of. Finished off a packet of julienned dried tomato slices and used the last of a package of turkey pepperoni. That pizza became my supper and a portion of it went into John's lunch, was also set aside for him to snack on tonight when he comes in. Boy was it good! I was very hungry after working hard all day.
Shopped my pantry this afternoon. I brought out peanut butter, pickles, mayo, barbeque sauce, oatmeal, potato chips, pizza sauce, dog food and soda. Now honestly, that is so much better than having to run to the grocery to get the same items! And to think all of these were bought on sale at an excellent price. Oh the joys of a pantry and a little stockpile!
And that winds up this thrifty Thursday.