Friday, August 1, 2014
My Frugal Week/Living Well
Saturday: We were each on our own for breakfast this morning, but there was plenty to choose from. I indulged in bakery croissants. I put some of them in the freezer for future treats.
I made a favorite salad for lunch today using leftover cooked chicken and cheese ravioli. This recipe has handled substitutions well. I've yet to make the recipe exactly as written. It calls for tortellini but I had ravioli on hand. I'd just used the last of the green onions so used a chopped Vidalia onion. I didn't have Parmesan cheese but plenty of Asiago. The only substitution I won't make? Subbing for the fresh lemon juice. I believe that one ingredient is absolutely key to the flavor of this dish.
I had a bit of food waste today: 2 slices of coconut cream pie. I should have covered it and didn't. Shame on me.
Set aside a freshly washed plastic container we'd bought bulk cashews in. I'll use to store the whole wheat flour I just bought.
Sunday: John worked today. I did the usual: packed his lunch and made him breakfast.
Washed a smaller load of clothes, hung all to dry on the line.
Fed the geranium another special bit of liquid: tea. I brewed tea yesterday and covered the bags with water and let them sit overnight. Granny taught me to use tea as a fertilizer for geraniums. She said her grandmother used to do the same and she always had blooms on her geraniums.
Cleaned the coffee pot and maker really well today.
Shopped at home for coffee in the pantry and refilled the decaf and regular coffee canisters. Also brought out confectioner's sugar.
Wiped down the kitchen countertops. I had a spot or two from the bottom of a pan that left a stain. I used baking soda and a damp cloth to buff them out.
Used the same two cleaning items to clean off the dingy areas on the cabinet doors.
Cleaned the oven using steel wool pad and very diluted dishwasher detergent in hot water. This worked quite well. I wiped down with damp cloth until the surface was clean.
Monday: I was up early this morning, taking advantage of John's working so I could do my Bible study early. I went out on the back porch and enjoyed the early morning breeze and the absolute quiet except for sleepy bird calls.
Made blueberry pancakes for breakfast. I used pancake mix because it only requires water, so that helped keep costs down. I got a few extra from my batch, enough for a single serving for another morning.
I know John will be extra hungry after working all night long. He doesn't snack at night and it's been hours since supper. I used the eggs I would have used making scratch pancakes to make scrambled eggs for him to go along with our pancakes and bacon.
My shoulder hurt a lot after yesterday's scrubbing workout. I decided it was best to rest that arm today and not tackle the last scrubbing job on my list.
I lost track of time and failed to get my dinner in the crock-pot to cook. Fortunately I remembered a recipe I'd seen making the rounds online, had a cup of cooked chicken and a jar of chicken broth in the fridge, 3 cups of turkey cooked turkey meat in the freezer. It took just moments to thaw the turkey in the microwave. I made the casserole, using ingredients on hand and it was delicious! I've shared that recipe here. The recipe made enough for us to have a casserole dish of leftovers.
I made peas with mushrooms to go along with the main dish. I sliced three small portabella mushrooms, and added a little garlic and butter to a saucepan and sauteed for a few minutes then topped with handfuls of frozen garden peas, added 1/4 cup of water and steamed. This was delicious and inexpensive for an upgrade on plain ol' peas.
Worked away all afternoon long at quiet work, even took a nap. John was super tired and spent most of the day dozing. We didn't have supper until 7pm...well we didn't have it then either. Instead we ended up repairing our hot water heater, which had sprung a leak in a copper pipe...and then we repaired it again when the second pipe decided this was the time to spring a leak as well. All's well. We had hot water before we toddled off to bed last night. We set the fans up to dry out the rug in the dining room and the sheet-rock in the closet with the hot water heater. It was a mess, it was a pain, but we didn't call a plumber. John did the repair work all himself. We spent $47 in extra supplies and had to make a trip to the city to a DIY store for parts, but that was less expensive than having a plumber come, and we didn't have to go without water for hours on end, either.
A shop vac came in handy. I discovered that it's not really a good shop vac. I'll remedy that shortly but in the meantime, it did get up some of the water and was a help of sorts.
Tuesday: John washed a full load of towels and hung them to dry on the line.
I spent the morning putting things back in our closet and clearing up little messes left behind from last night. We pushed furniture back into place. The fans had nicely dried out the closet sheet rock and the rug in the kitchen sitting area was pretty near dry. I left that fan set in place to continue to blow down on that and finish the process of drying.
Stretched a half pound of hamburger meat with a little onion and bread crumbs soaked in milk. This netted us thicker patties than we would have had, with less shrinkage of the meat.
Made oven fries from potatoes in my pantry.
While the fries and burgers were in the oven, I put two of the frozen boneless fried chicken breasts in the oven. I found I needed only one of those to make two sandwiches for John's work lunch tomorrow. I'll save the other for sandwiches for our supper later in the week.
I mixed up a bowl of banana nut bread and made some into muffins. I also made a half dozen donuts with part of the batter using my Wilton donut pan. This used up two bananas that had gotten very ripe. We sampled two of the donuts this afternoon with coffee. John says they are good, so I'll definitely do this again. I love baking instead of frying the donuts. A small calorie savings and a big mess saver, too.
Went through my recipe notebook and culled all those recipes I thought I'd try over the past year. I date the sheets when I pull them from magazines...and if I haven't tried them in a year's time the bulk of them go into the trash. A recipe generally doesn't make the grade for two reasons: I already make something similar or it has an ingredient I seldom keep on hand and don't think to purchase. I have a number of recipes pulled to try next month.
Wednesday: Workday for John. You know the routine: breakfast served here at home, made him a work lunch. Different story today however, John was busy at lunchtime and beyond. He stopped as the ambulance came through town at our local diner where he could buy low cost but GOOD hamburgers to serve as his late lunch. He'll be bringing home sandwiches, but no waste as they stay refrigerated all day (and night). Likely he'll eat them for supper tomorrow night.
Took off trash when I left home. Stopped at our mailbox and picked up mail.
Mama gave me her gently read magazines.
No shopping today, no purchases of any kind. It was Mama's turn to buy dinner.
Came home and collected today's mail on my way in.
I came home with a migraine. Took some Excedrin Migraine, used some lavender oil on a cloth to soothe the symptoms.
Started a different sort of grocery list. This month of Nothing Extra meant I ran out of several items I pick up at other groceries than Aldi. They are not the usual items, but those I use occasionally like dry Sherry or maraschino cherries. I'm making a list of items to purchase over the next month when I'm in those store areas.
Temperature was very mild today. I didn't use any fans in the house to keep air circulating. There was no need for the additional movement to keep cool.
Cashed in points for Pinecone Research.
Noted while on the profile page that I could increase frequency of offers. It was set for once every two weeks. I can certainly do surveys more often than that.
Thursday: Made breakfast this morning, reheating muffins made Tuesday and scrambling eggs. I used the microwave to make the grits. It saves heating the kitchen up.
Cooked potatoes and a half dozen eggs after breakfast to make potato salad and egg salad.
Took boxes to the post office to mail, then went out to peach shed. I bought a 1/4 peck of peaches for eating and freezing.
From peach shed to visit a yard sale. I was so happy to find a casserole like one Granny had. The lid can be used as a pie pan as well as a lid for the dish. It will be a versatile thing to have. It's a little larger than my other casserole dishes so will be handy for those larger roasts and bowls of stew.
Called ahead to the local diner and had them set aside chicken for me, then went to local grocery to get the few items I needed to get through the rest of the pay period.
Home with all my treasures, grocery and such. I had dinner on the table five minutes after unloading. All I needed to do was slice tomatoes to add to our simple menu. And no, it wasn't on my menu this week to have fried chicken, but it was easier on me. I've hurt my shoulder cleaning and it just needs to not be used right now. I paid for all but the groceries from my allowance.
Friday: John played for a local soup kitchen today. We kept breakfast light as he dislikes singing with a full stomach.
We carried off trash and picked up mail on our way out this morning.
John surprised me. He announced he was taking me out to lunch. We went to one of our favorite restaurants. We opted the lunch menu which is slightly smaller portions. I got soup today since it was a lot cooler than normal. Soooo good! The waitress told me she'd bring a second bowl to the table but didn't. She brought out a bowl packaged up to go, just as we started to leave with apologies. I had more soup for more supper tonight. Yum! John paid for lunch out of his allowance.
When we came in I did light housework. My shoulder is still aching and problematic for me at present. I'm pretty sure I aggravated it yesterday carrying a too heavy item. My 'big' tasks of the day was to change over calendars and set up a work calendar on the bulletin board in the kitchen. Then I baked chocolate chips cookies, using the frozen dough from the freezer. I made egg salad and pimento cheese for sandwich fillings.
Each morning I go outside to feed the pets. We have our own little routine. The cat grouses about how early or late I am according to her own timetable. I set food before her so she'll start eating and be quiet. Then I put food in Maddie's bowl and pet her. She seldom will take a bit of food until she's had some loving. When Maddie is tucking into her bowl of food, the cat quits eating and comes to me for her loving. This is tricky for me, since I'm allergic to cats. The trick is really to pet her while she's on the porch floor and not ignore her so that she jumps into my lap! When Maddie decides the cat has had enough she comes and nudges her, Misu goes back to her food, Maddie returns to her bowl. Then I read my Bible or write in my journal or pray as they finish eating. It's a nice routine.
The past two weeks we've had company. My brother's Jack Russell has been coming up to join us for breakfast. My brother no longer lives on the property but he's here two or three times every day, so he's left his dogs here in the country. He feeds and waters them daily, so no concerns there. But Taz is lonely.
He was shy about asking to join my morning routine. He lay on the patio below the porch and looked up at me, laid back his ears, jiggled his little tail (he hasn't enough to wag), looked away, then repeated the pattern. I invited him to join us, put a little food in a bowl for him. He seemed to sort of nod his head at me, jiggled his tail and ate his fill. Then, the shy and sometimes grumpy little dog surprised me. He came to sit with his back to me, a stance I knew well from when Granny was living. He sat thus for her to rub her foot up and down his spine. It's the only petting he seems to allow. So I rubbed my bare foot up and down his spine and when he'd had enough he left.
He's joined us on several mornings. He eats and sometimes looks expectantly for more food, sometimes coming to have his back rub, sometimes lying on the patio for as long as I'm outdoors, sometimes merely eating and going off, but he's never done this when my brother was on the property.
Until this week.
I went out as usual and there was Taz waiting on the patio for me. I fed Misu and Maddie, then I helped him to food, put it on the porch and invited him to come up. I sat down and waited for the cat's loving time. This particular morning I put a little home cooked food in the bowls. Maddie's not fond of people food as a rule. Taz has no compunctions about eating it apparently. He gobbled it down and made it clear he would like more. I gave him more. As he was eating his seconds, I heard my brother's truck crank on the other side of the field.
Well so did Taz. I said "Why Taz...." Taz sort of cut his eyes at me, looking out of the sides towards me. "Why Taz, Tony's on the place...You don't come here when Tony's here." And he cut his eyes at me again and actually looked embarrassed. He sort of jiggled his little tail, looked at me again and proceeded to eat once more, but it was clear he was feeling a bit guilty about ditching Tony and being here with me. It was so funny the way he looked. I don't know just how he manages to convey so much meaning in his looks and movements but he does, far more than Maddie whose only moods are happy, happier and manically happy.
It amuses me each time I think of how he looked at me when we heard that truck crank, lol. I've chuckled over that all week long. God bless a little black eyed dog who can look guilty and make me smile!