Friday, April 10, 2015
This Week In My Home: Returning to Frugal Bootcamp
Saturday: Return trip from Kingsland today. We stopped at a travel center for breakfast, coffee, sodas and gas. The place is a temptation island, with gifts, speciality candies, premium coffee bar, etc. We try to keep things in line. While John filled the car, I bought sodas for the trip home. I made sure I bought the lesser expensive options of the ones we like best. At one of the fast food counters, I picked up chicken biscuits for us. At the coffee shop I used my gift card (two Christmases ago) to purchase coffee to go with our breakfast.
I couldn't help but think of the woman we'd run into three years ago at the grocery where a similar coffee shop is located on premises. She stated she'd received a gift card for her birthday of equal value to the one I'm currently using. "I used it up in three days!" she said proudly. We typically get a coffee about once a month, but not every month though I do enjoy the coffee very much. A year and four months after receiving our card we're just under half the value on it...and that's for TWO! I shake my head still over the silly woman who felt it necessary to use that card up in a three days period.
We decided at dinner time that we just weren't hungry and didn't want to stop. Not a savings, because we splurged big time later when we arrived in the town with the meat shop where we shop quarterly or so. We went in and bought two rib eyes for our meal when we got home. Pricey...but worth every quarter of the splurge we made! We ended up eating only one steak. The other will be halved and used to make two more meals this week. No waste and no need to too heavily indulge twice in a week's time.
At home once more, we turned on ceiling fans, oscillating fans and turned the AC down to our more usual 75F. We'd turned off the ceiling fans and ran the AC up to 78F while we were gone.
It took just about half an hour to prepare our dinner. I used a portion of the potatoes under the cabinet. Them taters has got eyes! Big ones! But cut the eyes away and the potato is just fine to use. No need to toss (especially not when you could plant if you've a place prepared for planting).
We ate just late enough to make supper unnecessary...but coffee was welcome, homebrewed and hot.
I prepared John's work lunch for tomorrow.
Read a couple of blogs this evening. I've decided that I need to go to frugal bootcamp to brush up on my skills a little more. I worked on a Quarterly review of Retirement Remedies and I was pleased to note the areas where I'd made headway, but I also noted areas where I'd done nothing and I'm convinced there are frugal things I've forgotten along the way and need to be reminded of. I'm going to use a three way approach. Each day I'm going to peruse the archives of frugal mavens like Laine and Mia to see how they incorporated savings into their lives for the first part. I'm also going to pick up my books by Tracey McBride and Amy Dacyczyn and read a few pages each day. And third, I mean to go over sales sheets and coupons and combine them for deals on items we are low on or out of and rack up those savings. As I read I will be sure to jot down new/old ideas I come across. I mean to go over my brainstorm list and see what I might do to incorporate more of those good ideas into my weekly routines.
Sunday: No big Easter day for us. John off to work at 6am. I packed his lunch, made him breakfast.
I worked on Swagbucks and made my first goal easily in under an hour.
Washed a full load of clothes. I didn't hang outdoors, despite the nice breeze. The pollen is decreasing but not quite enough yet to go back to hanging out clothes. I think by the end of the week we'll be able to do so.
Washed a full load of dishes.
I had put water in the pan I cooked steaks in yesterday and this morning loosened up the stuck on bits in the pan and poured that broth over the pet foods. They enjoy this sort of flavoring treat, though they are not fond overall of a change in foods or lots of human food scraps as their main diet.
Turned the oscillating fan on to blow the clothes hung in the laundry dry.
Chilly this morning and cooler today but no heater is on. I put on a sweater and I'm fine with that.
Salad for my lunch/supper. I'll have yogurt and fruit for my evening meal a bit later.
Made a single serve cup of coffee this afternoon.
Brought my food budget sheet up to date. I'm still within my budget for the month, but will need to go carefully for the remainder of the month. I'm going to do my very best to stretch things out.
Monday: Made pancakes for breakfast this morning. Normally John is very hungry because he's been up hours when he comes in from work. I usually make eggs as well as sausage/bacon and french toast or pancakes. This morning I made pancakes and sausage. The pancakes were thick and fluffy and I just put an extra one on his plate.
John turned over the bills to me to handle. I find it works best for me if I go over the check register and bill box at least weekly. It keeps me mindful of where we are and helps me to catch those few bills that might come between pay periods and yet fall due before the next one arrives.
We'd settled dates for our vacation a couple of weeks ago but waited to look for a place to stay. We took advantage of our AAA membership to earn a discount which essentially saved us taxes on the stay.
I looked long and hard at the rooms. Some were nicer than others and yet they all cost the same price. I want the best my money can purchase so we narrowed down rooms to a five or six and then reviewed the amenities each offered. I chose a condo that was newly renovated in a style that appealed to us, had sturdy chairs on the balcony and a good view of the ocean. I can smell that ocean air from here!
I was disappointed to find the asparagus we bought Thursday was spoiling fast. Today was definitely the day to use it so I re-planned menu and made one compatible with a side dish of asparagus.
I'd planned to get some other things done today but spent hours trying to get my printer and computer to be companionable enough to print off the reservation confirmation info. No luck but while I was messing about I did figure out how to get the scanner to work with the computer. I read trouble shooting guides online to try and figure out the printer snafu.
No hot dog buns in the house, so I mixed up a batch of biscuits and wrapped the hot dogs. I put a pan of biscuits in the fridge for breakfast tomorrow morning.
I had no shortening, sigh. I remembered a recipe I'd seen recently that called for cooking oil and worked it through the flour. I won't say this is the best batch of biscuits ever, but they will do.
I promised myself I'd go to Frugal Bootcamp this week. I spent about two hours last night going through Laine's letters and reading Aspiring Homemaker's archives. I have a short list started of ideas to save time (that's frugal, too!) and money. I am sure that this will prove beneficial as I continue.
Gave myself a pedicure today. I used a very unusual color for me...I'm stretching my limits rather hard with this color but I figure if I went to a fancy salon I'd throw caution to the wind and try something different and a little wild. That's what I'm telling myself, lol.
I pulled a birthday card from my stash to send to a dear friend. It is a card I made last autumn. I think it's time to make a few more.
Ever wonder where the cute vintage illustrations come from on this blog? From my vintage magazines. I scan the old images and use them here. It's a free source for me and since they are over 70 years old, copy right free.
Tuesday: Up a little early this morning. I wanted to allow time for the biscuits to rise some before putting them in the oven. They did rather well. Not the best biscuits I've ever made but they were edible and that's what counts.
I made an omelet to go with the biscuits. I used to make them properly but then I watched Michele Duggar making omelets on a griddle and she flipped the eggs with a pancake turner, then filled and folded after the other side was cooked. It's a lot easier than running the pan into the oven for a few minutes as I'd been doing and it works very well.
I carefully measured the cheese I put on the omelet. This is the hoop cheese John picked up at the meat market and it costs a bit more than our usual Aldi cheese or even the Cabot Vermont Cheddar I like so very well. So careful measurements were indeed wanted. I also used a cube of Turkey Spam that was left from last week's breakfasts and a dinner salad for me on Sunday. There really wasn't enough left to make a serving but it was a nice flavor bonus to the omelet.
We washed two full loads of laundry today. The line was full and we used the dryer and the rod and the drying rack to make up the needed drying room for the rest of the stuff. John carefully timed the use of the dryer. He has it down to a science, removing a few pieces that are truly dry and leaving those that aren't to dry a little longer.
I found a recipe yesterday in my files that I felt would make a good use for some of the leftover steak. It called for sirloin cut into strips...I used the cooked steak from Saturday and cut that into strips and even marinated. The recipe called for red bell peppers (I had a bunch of mini yellow bell peppers) and green beans (I had frozen) in a soy based sauce. It was very tasty and I couldn't help but think it might taste just as well with chicken strips. It was truly economical as it called for a pound of green beans and just 10 ounces of meat. I don't think our piece of steak was quite six ounces and I had about a half pound of beans which was right for two.
I steamed leftover rice in the microwave.
I made cookies from sugar cookie dough from the freezer.
I used leftovers of leftover rice to make up a batch of rice muffins. Have you ever used cooked rice in muffins or pancakes or waffles? It adds a nice texture to the breads.
I peeled and chunked and froze bananas that were just a little over ripe for smoothies. Had one for supper tonight.
Washed a full load of dishes. Unusual to do loads this close together, but I seem to have been dish crazy on Monday for some reason.
While I was making John's work lunch, I thawed turkey bits from the freezer and used them to make turkey salad. John had a some wrapped in a flat bread.
Hand washed bras and hung to dry.
I was frustrated trying to get needed paperwork to print from my computer yesterday. I finally gave up after struggling for two or three hours with various fixes, programs, etc. John took over this morning and found a free driver to download on my computer. Now I can print...and do it wireless too!
Wednesday: Made John breakfast, packed the lunch I made last night.
Fed the pets this morning...Neither finished and I put the food away. With temperatures near 90F I knew the ants would waste no time getting into the food.
Packed a water bottle and a thermal glass of ice to go with me today.
When I left home this morning, I took along trash to go to the dumpster and mail to drop off at post office.
It might not sound frugal to you but believe me it was. Knowing the proposed temperature, I wore dressy pants simply because they were THIN and breathable, unlike my jeans. It made for a cooler me, which meant I was not tempted to stop and buy soda.
My day to buy dinner for Mama. I hate to admit it but I had to go by the bank to get extra cash. I will not draw a full allowance next week.
No shopping of any sort at all today. The only things I brought home were gently read issues of magazines from Mama's.
I picked up the yard before coming into the house. Maddie had dragged her and Misu's rugs from the front porch shelters to the back yard. There were a few branches down and the electric cord that runs from the outlet to the pump house. This is frugal only in the saved aggravation for John who will likely mow the yard in the next few days.
Came indoors and decided I simply could not waste the afternoon. I decided to go over my goals for the month, then looked at the home calendar...and realized that tomorrow is a Holy Day for us. That means no work...and that meant I'd better get busy this afternoon. Three hours later, the house was neat and clean and I was exhausted and hot.
When I left home this morning I turned the AC to 78F. I so wanted to turn it down when I got so very hot working but I didn't. I turned on oscillating fans and fixed myself an iced water drink and cooled off that way.
Thought to work out an easier meal than I'd initially planned for tomorrow. I went ahead and thought through the weekend meals as well, since Friday will be a bit crunched time wise.
Our good and heavy dinner out today left me wanting nothing for supper...but about 6:45 I was so ready for a cup of coffee. I brewed a single cup and had that with a sugar cookie, a few cashews and a square of chocolate. I felt full all over again. Until around 10:30 when I should have been going to bed. Too late to eat and rest well, so I drank a small cup of milk instead.
Thursday: I always make a bigger breakfast for John on those mornings when he's coming in from working his 24 hours shift. This morning we had biscuits (leftover) with steak (leftover) and fried eggs and tater tots (some could call them hash browns, lol). While the tater tots cooked in the oven, I put in the steak and biscuits to heat alongside about half way through.
Went out to feed the dog and cat earlier than usual. Maddie is such a critter for routine that she couldn't eat. I waited until past her regular time and checked to see if she'd eaten and she'd nibbled. I put the food away. I'm sure she's not going hungry. There are plenty of wild things about here to munch on.
Went out to clip rosemary this morning to go on the roast. My little plants have grown a bit! Clipping the ends will only promote growth.
Pulled weeds while I was out there. My neat little autumn flower bed is looking rather raggedy with the soap wort pushing up along the edges. I decided I might as well pull up weeds in front of the doorstep too...that's when I discovered the baby black snake the size of a worm. Ugh! Good snake, bad spot, scared woman.
Cooked a beef roast for dinner (a special meal for our Holy Day) and put the stuffed potatoes from the freezer in to roast alongside. Yum!
Received my free book to review this morning. I chose My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead. I can't wait to read and post my review!
Yesterday the orchids went back on the front porch. Once the faith tree is fully leafed it will be filtered sunlight but for now the sun is not too strong and that spot on the porch gets mostly early morning sun and nothing from about noon on. I'll keep my eye on them to be sure they stay sheltered from direct sun. I noted that both orchids have long stems full of buds. I so hope that these set and bloom unlike that early bloom in February/March that fell away just before opening.
Took the plants from the bathroom housing and put on the back porch. These plants prefer shade, do best with filtered morning light.
Moved the two healthiest and prettiest African violets to the buffet for now. I must look for some proper houseplants. I'll soon need to take the ivy outdoors as well, where it grows the best.
Friday: John made pancakes this morning...It's a savings because I'd meant to have cereal this morning but forgot to take out milk to thaw. Homemade pancakes always are less expensive than cereal!
We more or less just lolled about this morning, though we were up early enough. Eventually I told John my plans for the day. He had plans, too. He wanted to mow the lawn.
I poured some meat drippings over Maddie's food this morning which made her happy to stop chasing bees (her most favorite of past times!) and actually eat a bit.
I picked up the rocks and bricks that had covered Trudy's grave. We're going to turn that whole area into a flower bed much like the one by the back door step with a bench for seating. That idea pleases John a great deal. I'll use the bricks and rocks to outline more flower beds at the back of the house. John was able to mow the area where Trudy lies and that made him happy.
I took off trash, took mail to post office, went by library to donate books (closed) and to the booth to put stock on shelves and just generally check things over. Went on to the next town to the drug store to pick up John's prescription and by the grocery next to it for bread. I found they had two baked items in the bakery that was similar to the sort of bakery bread I wanted and they will suffice until I can get to the bigger town for real bakery bread.
I bought some large rolls. I cut one into six slices (I told you they were large!) for sandwiches tonight. We'll use one as Shabbat bread for our table tonight as well.
Not frugal but I don't care! I bought a lovely hanging basket geranium with both white and red geraniums planted together. I counted four separate plants. These generally do well for me with full sun for a portion of the day. It's on the back porch at the moment but I'll watch to see if it's getting enough sun there. I also picked up a six pack of begonia starts fro $1.79. I think I paid about $10 last year for the begonia I planted on the patio and each of these has the potential to be just that big. It will just take a little longer, but I don't mind. I've got time to spare. The begonias have done very very well for me the past two years and take full sun, tolerate drought fairly well.
Speaking of drought...I forgot to mention that when I came in yesterday I noted one of the Dianthus six packs was thriving and one was shriveled up to nothing. I brought in the shriveled one and let it soak in water. Do you know this morning all six plants were back standing straight up and looking for all the world like nothing at all ever ailed them? Don't underestimate the power of just plain good watering when it comes to plants. Which is why I will snap up those petunias and moss rose and such that go on sale for next to nothing at the grocery in summer!
It was quite late when we got started this morning, almost lunch time really. John had gone to town to purchase gas for the mower and called me to warn me to eat something before I left home. I had some cream cheese and crackers.
I meant to go home and prepare a cooked meal but by the time I'd got in the grocery it was 1:30 and home was 30 minutes away. I chose a rotisserie chicken and a pint of macaroni salad at the deli while picking up the rolls. I'll get at least two meals and the carcass from this bird for a third meal so I don't really consider it a splurge. It was far less expensive than any take out I might have picked up.
When I came home, John had nearly finished the front yard. I could see a storm front coming in, so I swept the porches. I didn't want rain mixing with the pollen and heavy coating of dust to make messes of my porches! I got both swept as John finished the front yard.
We ate a late dinner, ate lightly, too.
He went out to finish mowing the back yard. I went through house putting things away and straightening up. I ran the dishwasher of dishes. I won't lie. It wasn't quite full but I put a few extras in to fill up most of the gaps. Since we had no more plates or silverware it was necessary to run it.
Made egg salad this evening for supper. That's where slicing that one roll into six pieces came in. It was like having six slices of bread! Our egg salad was made with just two hard boiled eggs and that made three nice sandwiches. With applesauce and chips and sugar cookies it was a good supper for us after working hard.
I always leave about a cup of coffee in the pot when we've had our afternoon coffee. For the past month I've offered it to John in the evening. Because I turn the pot off right away the coffee never has that burnt taste. I heat in the microwave. John really enjoys that evening cup of coffee.
Finally figured out the ratio of coffee since purchasing that clearance priced decaf brand from Target in March. It takes 2 1/2 scoops of this brand rather than the 2 of Gevalia I'd been using. I won't tell you I like this brand better because I don't but I appreciate the savings at this time. I think the next bag I will mix half and half with the Gevalia and see how we like that. I used to do this with a premium German coffee we'd indulge in and we never really noticed a hard taste difference. This may mean we can return to using just 2 scoops once more, and the Gevalia will go twice as far, so a good chance at more savings.
I saved the egg shells and will start to save the coffee grounds to mix in around the base of the roses. I hope to get some Epsom Salt this next week to sprinkle about the roots as well.
Leaves appeared this week on all the trees. Maddie has spent a copious amount of time running about chasing bees. I spied (and very nearly touched! Eek!) the first snake of the season. Just a baby black snake about the size of a worm, for which I initially mistook it. Mama and I took a short road trip over to the foothills and admired the varied colored blooming hardwoods as well as the dogwoods which were just at peak season there. I was picking up the back yard on Wednesday and the breeze rustled through the leaves of the Sweet Gum. I haven't heard that sound since last Fall just before the weather turned off cool. Temperatures have soared back to the 90F level. John mowed the lawn for the first time this week.
It's warm weather season here, which we don't really refer to as Spring once it hits 90F and the bulk of the blooming is over and done, even if we have chilly weather again for a day or two.
Do you know how I can tell a new season is here? I'm restless. Antsy. Itching to do a few things outdoors on the porches, patio, to create new pretty areas in the yard. My 'to do' list every day is long and impossible and I'm constantly telling myself, "I'll do just one more thing and then I'll stop." And I do stop only long enough to have a drink of water and determine there are ten more things to do.
I know that for some, it is still winter. I know this because my daughter's family had a snow storm Easter weekend. But your Spring is coming. I know because it's already left here!