Friday, January 16, 2015
In My Home This Week: Frugal All Week Long
Saturday: I try to keep meals as easy and work free as possible, especially if I fail to use Friday to prep ahead. Well yesterday we were out and didn't come home again until a short time before Shabat. I opted to run the vacuum and put away things (laundry, dishes) which improved the appearance of the house, rather than spend the time cooking ahead. Today I put a turkey breast roast in the crock pot to cook. I used the microwave to cook two Sweet Potatoes. We split the largest and shared it. I put the other one up to use for Sweet Potato Biscuits which are a seasonal favorite. I made a fruit salad and used the gravy packet to make gravy. Oh yes, I added dry stuffing mix to the crock pot during the last half hour of cooking. All in all prep work was minimal. I think getting the roast ready for the crock pot was the most difficult thing.
Speaking of that turkey roast. These average 3 pounds and are in a netted string bag. I took it off having fought with the thing on the cooked roast in the past. I found that the 'roast' wasn't a whole breast but two turkey breast fillets. I pay $8.99 for these roasts at Aldi. At $3 a pound I feel it's a reasonable cost for something we typically use for sandwich meat. I can't buy deli sliced turkey for that amount. However, now being aware that it's turkey fillets I'm curious to see if I can buy them less expensively and perhaps tie them with twine to make my own 'roast'.
I don't know why on earth I bother with those packets of gravy that come in turkey! They are the most bland or horridly seasoned things I've ever had! Well this one was terribly bland, which at least can be remedied with seasonings and such that I have on hand. I put two cups into the freezer for a future use but the remaining portion went into the dogs bowls rather than find another container to store it in.
I made John's lunch from some of the turkey roast and then I put up two containers of slices for future sandwiches. Those went into the freezer.
This evening as I was packing John's lunch and putting things away I became aware that there were a LOT of leftovers in the fridge. A single serving each of turkey/dressing, vegetable beef soup, and Spaghetti Di'able. Half a casserole of Tamale Pie. I'll be putting the single serving portions of all other foods in the freezer.
Made tortilla pizzas for supper. I used one Italian sausage and cooked the onion and bell peppers in the oil.
We bundled up today trying to keep the heat turned down an extra degree but it was too low for our comfort level. We raised the thermostat back up, just the one degree, and found we both found it more bearable. I guess now we know to what degree we will go in order to stay warm!
I have struggled with dry cuticles and hang nails for years now. The least bit of soap and warm water just makes my hands very dry and rough as sandpaper. In the past I've used Burt Bees Lemon Cuticle Creme. It smelled terrific and didn't irritate my skin but I've been unable to find it in the past year in my area. I read online that coconut oil is a great moisturizer. I have been using it only two days, just the tiniest bit of it. Already my cuticles are much improved! Using what I've got on hand and an all natural ingredient at that.
Sunday: Packed the lunch I'd made for John and made him breakfast.
Heated leftovers for my dinner.
Made myself a lovely single cup of coffee mid-afternoon.
Fed the dog and cat a bit of food scraps from our table.
Pretty much acted as though no one were home, at least where lights were concerned. I did run the TV a good bit this morning. There was a small marathon of episodes of Down East Dickering on. I love to watch these guys barter and trade and sell and make a bit of pocket money, too.
Took out foods to thaw for this week's menu plan. Thawing meats ahead keeps me on track better than any other prep work I could do!
Monday: John and I gathered odds and ends and put in the washer together to make up a full load.
I used 1/2 pound ground beef to make Salisbury steak today. I crushed some oyster crackers that were already open rather than open a sleeve of saltines.
Cobbled together a new cookie recipe. I used the Sweet 'n' Saltines recipe from Trisha Yearwood (I always opt for the crunchy version which calls for just 1 stick of butter). I used graham crackers as the base and poured the toffee over the top. Then I topped that with chopped toasted pecans. When I took them from the oven I poured 1 cup of vanilla chips over the top of the cookies. Yum! It's a nice change from the saltine and chocolate version.
I put a quart of chicken stew in the freezer a few weeks ago. It was the leftovers from chicken and dumplings. I added a 1/2 cup of rice and cooked over medium low heat to make a good thick and HOT soup for supper. Boy was that tasty at the end of this long dreary cold afternoon! I loved that it was so inexpensive.
Tuesday: We had leftover rice pudding for breakfast. John asked if it was reasonable to do so. "It has all the same ingredients your favorite oatmeal has in it, so why not?" I asked him. It was good and it held us all morning long.
John wanted to get out of the house today. We never did decide just what we'd do, but we drove southwest of us to a state park and had an impromptu picnic. It started when I grabbed some clementines, peanut butter cracker packets and water bottles on my way out of the door. I noted John looked at me pretty hard for a moment as though he were thinking...He went into town to the Subway and bought a sandwich, sodas and a candy bar. All the foodstuffs went into our insulated bag.
State parks are a good bargain as far as I'm concerned. Most are centered around a historical or natural interest. Most require a $5 fee for parking which is a bargain these days. You can stay until they close but we seldom do. Still it's nice to have a picnic in the designated areas with good views and restrooms nearby to use as needed.
I left spaghetti sauce simmering in the crock pot while we were gone. Since we ended up picnicking we saved the sauce for dinner on Thursday.
When we left home this morning we picked up mail, dropped off the trash at the dumpsters.
On our way back through town coming home, we went by the local grocer to get a favorite brand of orange juice that was on sale. I put the cartons in the freezer, so bought several. I chose to purchase a frozen pizza for supper. I knew that John would consider it a real treat and he did.
Wednesday: Washed a full load of sheets, towels and sundry items from the laundry basket.
I put all the clothes in the dryer, necessary with the wet weather outdoors.
Loaded the dishwasher full this morning. I postponed running until this evening when I returned home.
Bought a discounted pot of planted tulip bulbs at the grocery. Less expensive than cut flowers and perhaps I can get them to bloom again next year if I care for them properly.
Went to Target today. I had a list...I stuck to it. I was able to allocate money from the house and gift funds to help offset the total amount spent
There was a coupons for $10 off a $50 home/bedding purchase...I didn't have said coupon but I knew it existed. I looked in their current sales sheet and there were none. The cashier informed me it was only available through smart phones. Well I don't have a smart phone. It's just a plain old clam shell type phone and that's it. I told the cashier I'd put the items back. Ha. Suddenly she was able to give me the $10 off purchase by keying it in the register. Funny how that worked.
Found some envelopes that fit the cards I like to make and send to my family members. They were not unreasonable but I will look about and see if I can find them at a lesser cost.
Returned a duplicate order of books that came to the house. That will net me a refund.
Ate leftovers for supper tonight.
Had coffee after lunch so decided to skip it when I came in this afternoon.
I turned on the propane heater to warm the house. I'd turned the thermostat down to 60F when I left this morning. I let the heater run for a couple of hours before checking the thermostat. It was 64F. I was still a little chilly so I turned up the thermostat for the heat pump. It is still coming on now and then but the propane heater is doing the bulk of the work.
I moved about items I already had to freshen the look of the living room mantel. Not sure I like it but for now it will stay and tomorrow I will work with it some more. My main objective was to put the two orchids that are budding in the living room where it's a little warmer than the north end bathroom where they have been. I think the warmer air here might help them to mature a little more since the bath is below their ideal temperature range.
I bought a baby gift today and spent only a little. I found cute items on the clearance rack that I think will be ideal for this new baby. He lives in a much colder climate than ours and these are winter items moved to make room for Spring.
Cut open the tube of moisturizing face cream I'd been using. I couldn't get it to come out of the tube any longer but could plainly see there was plenty left in the container. I think this will last me another week, perhaps two, before going into the trash.
Mama gifted me two magazines she'd read through.
The lovely E.L.F. mineral face primer I love to use under my makeup stopped pumping this week. I think that manufacturer just went way up in my estimation. They made the pump container so that you can unscrew it to get at the last bits of primer! Love a company that allows me to be frugal without having to use a hammer to do it, lol.
Thursday: I tried on the t-shirts I bought yesterday. They fit...but the sleeves are a tad too short and the fit a tiny bit more snug than I like. I will be returning them to the store this weekend.
Made breakfast sandwiches this morning. I served a single sausage patty on the side. I have cut way back on our use of turkey sausage and this single patty was just right when paired with the sandwich. I might have chopped it and placed on the sandwich but chose to serve it as a side. I can say honestly neither of us thought we'd been shorted in portion size.
Reheated the spaghetti sauce I made on Tuesday. I recalled I had about 2/3 of a can of plain tomato sauce in the fridge, so I added that to the pot of sauce and allowed it all to simmer.
Put several items in the freezer: sliced turkey, a single serving of turkey and dressing, and a single serving of spaghetti with meat sauce. I also put the remainder of the spaghetti sauce in the freezer. It was slightly less than a pint. I know I will find a good use for it in days to come.
Took time to plan out tomorrow's meals and mean to work on Saturdays (including what I shall pack in John's lunch for Sunday) before I go to bed tonight.
It was just plain cool in here today. John and I bought had on extra clothing so I turned on the propane heater.
Made a loaf of banana bread from two ripened bananas.
Made up a batch of chocolate syrup. This recipes makes a bit over a pint and will keep for a couple months (if it lasts that long!).
I've struggled with Swagbucks the past couple of weeks. Many of the avenues I'm accustomed to using for reaching my daily goal have been discontinued. I know that Swagbucks does this routinely. I've not let it bother me. I try to spend an hour a day on earnings but if for some reason I don't make goal, as I haven't for quite a few days now, I just move on. I will not devote more time to something that is really just a side line of earnings. Our budget is helped by it, but my time does have value here in my home and Swagbucks is not making a high value return on it!
John put together a full load of clothing to wash today, which consisted of his work clothes and work bedding.
I clipped coupons Mama gave me yesterday.
I made sure to jot down the money spent on grocery items yesterday and brought my total forward. I don't have much of my target amount left to spend. I'm going to do my very best to come in at that mark.
I used a low amount of water to hand wash dishes. I didn't have a lot of dishes to do by hand today, so I made sure to not fill the dishpan full.
Friday: food waste: 4 slices corned beef. I should have put them back in the freezer when I took them out a bit over a week ago. However, I didn't. At least the dogs will enjoy them. Also 2 tbsps tuna fish salad which the cat thought was pretty terrific.
John made breakfast this morning. He made more sausage than I would have but life is too short and our food supplies plentiful, so why fuss? He enjoyed making breakfast for me and I enjoyed eating it. Even that extra piece of sausage.
Today's dinner was easy and economical. I had chicken wings (8 wings from the 4 chickens I had cut up at the meat market). I made barbecue sauce from some French dressing, catsup and brown sugar and mustard. I added a dash each of hot sauce and liquid smoke to it. It was perfect over the wings.
I baked the wings in a hot oven, along with a batch of homemade biscuits.
I made potato salad. It's just as easy to make a few extra potatoes for another dish. Hashed browns one morning, or a potato casserole which we like to have for breakfast now and then. It costs me nothing extra to cook them while I'm cooking potatoes for salad and it's far less expensive than buying frozen hash browns.
While boiling an egg for the salad, I put four more on to boil for egg salad.
Washed a full load of dishes.
Reheated leftovers for dinner tonight.
Picked up mail when I took off trash. I'd asked John to take off the trash but he vacuumed the floors with out my asking, so I felt it was a fair exchange to do the trash.
I accepted a free trial magazine and I liked it right well. I was seriously considering taking out the subscription but I found it to be more pricey than I'd thought. I'll be cancelling that and looking instead for a hardback book or a vintage magazine or two to add to my collection, either of which would be less expensive and give me years of pleasure, unlike the magazine which would be temporary.
It was a beautiful sunny day today. I was glad to see it. I was able to go out to the shed and work (having enough light) and I found enough items there to put in my booth this next week without going thrifting. I'll set that money I would have spent aside and put it towards the new shelves I want to expand my space.
The sun shone today. It rained or was cloudy and foggy for a solid week. I opened every curtain and shade each day doing all I could to bring light into the house. One afternoon, John went about quietly shutting curtains. It was cold and looking out at the drear landscape only made it seem twice as cold.
We felt kind of damp and cold and drear ourselves. We'd bumped hard against a reality that we'd managed to keep our eyes blind to until the moment when a request swiftly brought home the facts of our tenuous hold on financial stability. It was sobering and painful.
But the sun shone today.
Nothing changed. Though we couldn't see the sun this past week, it was there Had it not been there, we never would have seen daylight each day. No matter how dull and gray things appeared, the sun was still there.
We saw things more clearly than we've seen them. But we don't give up. We move on. We grab hold of hope and we move on. And we smile, wiser though we may be.
Because the sun shone today.