Friday, October 3, 2014
Living Frugally, Living Well: September 27-October 3
Saturday: Washed a full load of dishes. I didn't think I had enough but I found after all that there were more than enough. It is recommended you run the water faucet until the water is quite hot, before starting the dishwasher. I use that water to rinse dishes or even do some handwashing until it is hot enough to begin the wash cycle.
I didn't prep dinner ahead this week for the weekend. I made good use of some leftovers and prepared a quick casserole dish, Corn Dog Casserole. It combines hot dogs, baked beans, and a cornbread topping. There's nothing to this, seriously. I had some canned baked beans, half a packet of hot dogs, and mixed up 1 cup of cormeal mix ( a packet would do too) with milk and egg and poured over. It takes about 20 minutes to bake. It's hearty and warming and really good on a cold cold day and not bad on a cloudy-sorta- kinda-cool-compared-to-summer autumn day
I prepped John's lunch (another task I didn't do on Friday) while dinner baked. I have to pack foods that are easy to eat in moments if necessary and enough for at least two meals since he is at work 24 hours. I've discovered that yogurt, cheese sticks, crackers, nuts are all good grab and go items that give John the protein and carbs needed to stave off hunger until he can take time to sit down and eat a salad or sandwich.
Shopped at home this morning in my pantry/freezer: 1 loaf of bread, 1 gallon of milk, 1 container of soup for my supper tomorrow night, 1 can of baked beans, 1 whole canned chicken that is about to expire.
John requested I find my oatmeal recipe...that's the Butterscotch oatmeal he's referring to. It is getting cool enough to this hearty cereal in the mornings, so I looked it up. Just click on the link above and read the January 4 item, it's top of the listing for that day.
I have been craving red bell pepper. They were 'on sale' for a rather high price yesterday, but not a price per pound and so big and crisp and pretty...well I bought one. Today I almost 'saved' it for later. Instead, I decided I wanted to get my money's worth. I chopped up 1/4 of the thing to put in a pretty colorful coleslaw to go with our dinner. Yum!
Used 1 potato to make a batch of oven fries to go with our chicken nuggets for supper. We don't normally eat these for supper but it was an easy and hot option for an afternoon that had remained rather cool.
Sunday: It's been a 'wash away' sort of day. I started by stripping the bed and washing a full load of sheets and towels.
I washed away the gray. I used an at home color kit. My hair is thin and fine and shorter so I just mix half the color and use. I keep an old squeeze bottle from a previous color kit to use. I read a number of hints online about 'setting' color with shampoo and conditioner following coloring, recently. I used those hints to hopefully make my color last longer.
I mopped floors. I used warm water and poured the water over my plants when I was all done. I've done this for years, using Pinesol, and I've never yet seen any ill effects to the plants.
Planted the last of the flowers I bought last Wednesday. I had enough to fill a pot on the patio. I'll definitely be getting a few more plants as I want more on the back porch and patio, and some on the front porch, too. This is something that gives me a lot of pleasure and I promised myself I'd make room in my budget to do it each season.
Oh yes, sent John off to work with breakfast in his tummy and a fully packed lunch. I pulled leftovers from the freezer to use as my meals today. I have a chicken burrito and leftover salad for dinner, chicken soup and an apple for supper.
I bought a jarred caramel at the ice cream toppings section, Smucker's Salted Caramel, last week. I bought it specifically to use on ice cream but so far we haven't had any ice cream in the house! Instead we've eaten a spoonful with apple slices and I put a spoonful in my second cup of coffee this morning. Yum! This caramel has a touch of molasses which adds a slightly different taste to it. I wouldn't say it's strongly caramel as the molasses definitely comes across, but it's a pretty good product. It certainly has multi-tasked well. I'm thinking it would even be good drizzled over brownies or angel food cake.
The weather didn't permit drying laundry outdoors today, so I put them in the dryer. I noted that we seldom use the dryer sheets, which were cut into fourths long ago. I didn't feel the need to use one today, either.
Ate leftovers for my two meals today.
The television was on for only about 2 hours all day long.
Because I was seldom in other rooms, all lights were off except for reading lamp in living room.
Monday: Made a big breakfast for John's end of work day meal. It was economical: we had butterscotch oatmeal.
Did an inventory of back pantry and the main food cabinet in the kitchen. I will finish off the kitchen a little later today. I noted that we need to use up a few canned items which are still perfectly fine but past date. Most items are a year or three out. I am glad I stayed pretty much atop my inventory of late.
Fed dog and cat some scraps collected over the past two days. It was enough to half their usual food allotment.
Set out meats for the week to thaw.
Needed to mail off a package. I chose a smaller box at the post office, which will cost about $5 to mail off. My item just fit nicely.
John brought me home a new pair of medic scissors. These are given out by various service reps for free to the medics. I love using them to cut fabric. They are also wonderful to clip Maddie's matted areas as they don't have a sharp point and I don't run the risk of a puncture wound if she moves suddenly.
Cut the end off the tube of make-up primer. I thought it was empty. There's plenty of stuff still in there to be used! I expected to get just another application or two, but I think I'll have enough to last another two weeks.
Home plumbing jobs! Don't like them one bit but I'll give credit to my husband, he handled our backed up kitchen sinks like a pro. He worked and worked and worked that plunger, removed the elbow and put it on and removed some pipe and put them back. TWO hours later, the sinks finally drained and have worked perfectly ever since. The culprit appears to be soap scum, which is what happens here occasionally with our water that tests 'very soft' on litmus strips. Soap doesn't always dissolve well and we have to be picky and choosy with brands. So now that I've put in a good supply of Palmolive dish detergent and dishwasher detergent, guess what? We're going to have to switch back to Dawn and Publix brand, sigh. Cost to repair, aside from hard labor, $0 and didn't require even so much as a bottle of liquid plumbing stuff.
We drove down to pick up John's check from his work place. I'm seriously thinking of suggesting that he have it mailed to us. It would be a small savings.
Tuesday: We were up very early this morning. No reason except that we're sleeping very well with the quietness of the house and the cooler air now that night time temperatures are much cooler. No fans necessary, no AC running. It's blissful.
We paid bills and then went to do banking, post office and shopping for groceries. I had a low budget today and I came out spot on the nose on the final total. Now to stay out of the grocery for the next two weeks!
Found three pennies in the parking lot. Put them in our charity box.
John treated us to burgers from the local diner for our dinner today.
I decided that I didn't want to give away the dish detergent but I found a way around using it: I use a dishpan and fill it with water and soap. When I'm done, I pour over the plants, just like Granny used to do. No soap down the drain, plants get watered, win win.
I did this backwards today but I did it and that's really what counts. I sorted through the fridge this afternoon and determined what needed to be used right away this week and what could be 'saved' by putting in the freezer. I put two very large Beef and Rice Burritos in the freezer, will makeover a leftover for dinner tomorrow and used up the last of the sandwich fillings I'd made last week. Now to figure out what sandwich fillings will be for the rest of this week and next.
I consolidated some upside down bottles into new bottles of condiments.
Looking at how full the three freezers are (large, small, refrigerator) I've determined what I need is a FREEZER Challenge month. This would allow me to stock the pantry while we eat from the freezer and free up some room for turkeys and such that we'll want for holiday meals.
The extra basket I bought, which didn't fit in the little freezer, has air holes in the sides. It is a perfect potato basket.
John has been on a banana kick of late. We seldom can finish a bunch of bananas before they are fully ripened. This week I think I'll indulge in a banana meringue pudding using some of the bananas. I've got some egg whites left from a recipe earlier and found a box of vanilla wafers behind a box of cereal in the food cabinet. It will be a good thing all around!
Booked a hotel room for an upcoming trip and used my Swagbucks Shop and Earn feature. I'll get points for the trip.
Placed an order with Walmart.com today to stock up on decaf coffee for the pantry. My order was large enough for free shipping to my home. I applied my PayPal earnings from Swagbucks to the order which saved half the costs. I'll earn Swagbucks for the order, too. Notice how I'm rolling Swagbucks earnings into more Swagbucks? It's not coming out quite even but it's a substantial savings. I try to do the same with MyCokeRewards, using the earned points to get free or reduced coupons for more sodas, for which I also get points while saving money. John has started to refer to these little things as my 'income' and it is!
Wednesday: Money short this pay period (it happens once a month and not much we can do to alter it) but I managed two purchase two things that John considers treats: a can of biscuits and his favorite inexpensive cookie. Yes, I make good biscuits from scratch, but my husband LIKES canned ones and so I buy them occasionally as a treat. It's inexpensive enough as treats go and we will get easily two meals off the can. That's what we had for breakfast this morning, canned biscuits with bacon and eggs.
Made a pan of homemade gingerbread. The recipe calls for an inch square but I baked in a 7X11. It makes the gingerbread stretch just a little further.
Cooked 5 apples that were mealy and bruised. I couldn't even salvage the peels from this batch of apples, as they had burst in several places. It looked as though someone dropped them on the floor at some point. I cut away the bad parts and sliced and cooked on stove top. They were incredibly good as applesauce and a nice addition to the gingerbread. I didn't add a bit of sugar either, just let them be 'natural'.
Made beef stew. I knew we'd not need all the potatoes called for but I was left with about half a good sized potato. I cut into fry sized pieces and popped into the fridge in a container of water. This will keep the potato nicely for a day or three and I can add to it until we have enough for fries with a meal...or mashed potatoes, etc.
Saved the last of the broth from the stew for Maddie and the cat. Just about 1/4 cup is all that was left but it's a treat for them.
Washed a full load of dishes in the dishwasher. Air dried them.
Made the short goal on Swagbucks both yesterday and today.
Gathered items that needed to go with me on errands in the morning and put them in the car.
Made a supper of chicken biscuits while making John's work lunch suppers for tomorrow.
Thursday: Made John breakfast and packed his lunch.
I had leftover grits the other morning. I put them in a pan to reheat for my breakfast.
Washed a medium load of clothes and a small load of towels. The towels were light colored and I didn't want lint all over our black clothes. I hung all the clothes to dry.
Made my trip out count this morning: took off trash, stopped by booth to add in new items, stopped at
post office to mail some items out...It was a good productive morning in town. Then I was free to run two last errands out of town and have a bit of fun.
I went to my favorite thrift store to drop off some nicer clothing. I took time to look around and found a brand new pair of shoes for $4. These are $60-$75 shoes easily. I also purchased an Italian silk scarf for $3. Those were for me. I found an lamp and shade that will eventually go in the living room (needs paint, a harp and a little cleaning) for $7 and a picture that just spoke "Guest room" to me.
Realizing that whatever my plans for the room are, it's moving in it's own direction. It started well before the chair cover was made with two plates I bought long ago which happen to go well with the slip cover... I won't fight it too hard...I'll just shift my thinking to what the room is wanting to become. In the end it's far less expensive and will no doubt turn out just fine.
Sprayed Repel All to ward off the armadillo that keeps digging for grubs in the front yard. I've used the liquid spray before but bought the granules last time. For my money, the liquid spray is the better product.
A light supper after my Chinese buffet dinner (less than $7 paid out of my allowance). I opted for a smear of strawberry cream cheese spread atop a piece of gingerbread, a single cup of coffee made with the last decaf pod from out hotel stay last month and a banana. It was enough and tasted good.
Turned the AC down last night and then I recalled that even with the warmer weather coming in, we've slept very comfortably the past few nights...so back up to 75F. I don't know if it even came on again. I went right to sleep and didn't feel too warm at all.
Friday: Up early this morning. It looked gray outdoors but I opened the curtains anyway. Even on a cloudy day there's enough natural light to brighten the house. I only had to turn on a single lamp to help dispell the gloom in the living room.
Used three ripe bananas to make banana pudding. I had leftover eggwhites that I used for meringue.
I ran just a little water in the dishpan. There's no drought on here by any means but it seems wasteful to use more water than is needed. And it does cost us electricity since we must run the pump to get that water. By using the dishpan I can water the plants outdoors, too.
John washed what he calls a mutt load of clothes. He wanted to wash his work uniform before the weekend and so he gathered all sorts of odds and ends. It wasn't a full load, only a small one. He hung it all to dry indoors since the morning was rainy.
I had Challah in the freezer for tonight's Shabat.
Now that we are not associated with a synagogue and a new year has started per the Jewish calendar, we don't have a record of Shabat times or holidays. Fortunately there are a number of sites online. I especially like Chabad.org which lists candle lighting times for Holy Days and Shabats.
Another week has past us and we are fully into October now. I've taken time most evenings of late to sit on the back porch and watch the sunset. They are increasingly more colorful this time of year. I love sitting there, listening to the winding down of the birds and rocking and watching the sky. It is so peaceful and restorative.
I've made it a point as well to try and be up in time for sunrise most mornings. I was well rewarded one morning. I woke with a headache which usually means it is foggy outdoors. Sure enough when I opened the windows I was greeted by a foggy view, but I noted the sun was rising. Unusual on a foggy morning to see it rise. I watched as the sky began to brighten and then something wonderful happened. Not only was the sunrise a beautiful pink, the fog turned pink as well. It was the loveliest thing! I'd never seen fog the color of sunrise before and felt doubly blessed to have seen both sunrise and that wonder.
I was reminded once again that while I might want this or that, or even need a few things, in the end I get the most pleasure from moments such as sunrise and sunset, when I can acquire nothing nor give anything. I can only receive the beauty and allow it to work it's blessing upon my soul.