Friday, August 21, 2015
This Week In My Home: Savings Never Stops
Saturday: How I regretted my lack of food prep this morning. No sitting about sipping coffee leisurely from my pretty cup for me. Nope. It was time to get down to the business of making a meal for midday and planning what supper would be. I was tired yesterday afternoon but oh how I rue that I didn't push just a bit harder and at least PLAN. John worked yesterday and when he asked what was for breakfast this morning and I said "Bagels", he replied 'Oh' in a flat, disappointed sort of way. I might have made some plans for that meal as well...Oh well. At least I thawed meat last night.
I trimmed away the fat from the steak, freezing that for Maddie a treat on one of these hot afternoons.
I used a tomato that just wouldn't quite redden up to make a Tomato au Gratin which is a favorite of mine and not so much of John's apparently...He doused it with steak sauce so I'm thinking maybe it's not his ideal.
I made a sugar free banana cream pie using up some of the ripe bananas on the counter.
We had one of the Aldi pizzas for supper. This one was a Spinach Artichoke Alfredo Chicken Pizza. Fail. The picture had a lovely bit of green here and there. Not so for the factual pizza. It was green, honey...dark green all over. Not one we'll buy again.
Living Well: I took another long nap this afternoon. That's two, two days in a row for me. I don't doubt I need the rest, as I've not slept well all week long. I wish I could just drift off and sleep hard like that at night time! It put the right note of leisure on today for me. I decided to finish off my current book since I was so relaxed anyway. What a lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon: football (pre-season games) and naps and a good book. Makes up for the lack of leisurely coffee this morning.
Waste: I've gotten better about not wasting things but today I had a banana that was mushy inside though it wasn't bruised outside. Not sure what happened with that one.
Sunday: We stopped at Lowes on our way home from church today. I had a list and John had a list...We had money set aside in the home maintenance account, so it was not extra spending. I got a second can of yellow paint, going a bit more yellow and less golden this time, for the ironing board. I noted the ironing board needed a second coat of paint and since I was less than fond of the 'what I had on hand color' anyway, I changed it up slightly and will let that be my primer.
I will keep a second item, black vinyl letters, even though I don't want to use them for the project I thought I might. Honestly they make my planned item look like it belongs to a business. Not quite the creative thing I'd planned. These vinyl letter are more difficult to find than you might imagine. I am certain to use them on other projects.
I came across a helpful web post for eating out for diabetics. It listed several fast food restaurants and the best choice at each with carb counts included. Taco Bell crunchy tacos are 13 carbs and $1 each. John and I stopped there today and had lunch. It was good and filling and I felt good knowing I'd made a better choice for me than some I might have made.
At home, I sorted coupons while John worked on a project nearby. I was disappointed to find no coupons in my Sunday paper this week. That's the 2nd or 3rd time I've had none in the paper from this particular store. I suggested to John we purchase it elsewhere from now on.
We had pie and coffee when we got home.
I am nearly out of fruit. I had two ripe bananas which I put in the freezer. I pared and sectioned three oranges. I put those in the fridge to eat.
Waste: I was surprised to find one of the oranges was actually a peach. It was bad at the heart of it and so I ended up tossing the whole thing.
Living Well: I had a bit of a pity party this afternoon. Truthfully I'm pretty sure it's more to do with how tired I am since I've slept so poorly nights and those two afternoon naps haven't really filled the gap of missed sleep. Anyway, we were wandering about in Lowe's and I got a good case of "I Want-itis" which is a dreadful ailment for even a little while as we all know. I got down right navy blue on the way home wishing I could do this or that and finally I vented a little bit to John.
You can just imagine how awful I felt when he apologized...He apologized for not providing those things I wanted and for not making more money. I felt so ashamed of myself then. I apologized to him and told him I was genuinely sorry I'd let that terrible diseast come upon me. I told him I'd get right back on my pony called "Make Do" and ride happily as I made our home lovely the best way I could.
You do realize a test was coming right up, right? Oh yes.
As he did the task he'd set himself today, a frame around the dryer vent outdoors broke into brittle pieces. Obviously weather and age took their toll. He realized the vent cover he'd bought wasn't going to cover the gap between siding and the cover. When he took out duct tape and some foam pipe insulation to 'fix' the area, I came indoors and cried. I'd meant to make do, but in a prettier way. Not in a duct tape sort of way, not right where every one who came to the door could see it! I didn't let on to him how disappointed I was.
Well, a few days later now, it's all fixed up really nice and I discovered that what I'd feared it would look like was all akilter anyway. He'd actually done a very neat and nice job of it, even before finding the additional cover to go over the vent which covered his make do patch.
Isn't it a shame I failed the test twice that day? Sigh.
Monday: Waste: 3 muffins...I'd put them in the freezer but apparently it was too late. They were not smelling very appetizing when I microwaved them this morning. I'd rather toss than get ill.
Put some smaller pieces of bread into the freezer. These will turn into bread crumbs or croutons.
We were out this morning at the doctor office. We went by Lowes to pick up more venting stuff for the dryer, then over to the grocery to pick up prescriptions. Both of John's medications were free. I picked up 4 prescriptions today and a bottle of normal saline and it cost me all of $5. I told John we're saving $360 a year filling his prescriptions at the grocery.
John offered to buy us a sandwich from his pocket money but I had a nice meal all thawed out and waiting to reheat when we got home: Chicken Parmesan with sauce and whole wheat pasta.
I made a pint jar of blue cheese dressing. I don't like the current mayo as it's too sweet. I tried to offset using extra worcestershire. Not a good choice either. We'll eat it until it's done but I won't do that twice. I'll definitely change back to my former mayonnaise brand.
Talked it over with my doctor and we've agreed on two supplements, Cinnamon Capsules and Oregon Grape Root Extract. The Grape Root Extract contains Berberine, the supplement he'd suggested that I found far too pricey to consider. These two supplements are both affordable for me, and I do not have to dip into savings to pay for them. Both supplements are known for their ability to lower blood sugars.
Used the bulk of the Challah bread I'd made rather than watch it go to waste as it has of late. None to spoil this week, that's for sure!
John put new venting on our dryer. He also moved the vent from where it was installed when we moved in 20 years ago to the wall vent that we'd never used. This vents onto the back porch. He put new vent covers on as well. The one he'd bought yesterday was too small and left a gap between it and the siding. I wasn't happy when he took foam and put around the new vent, but I didn't tell him that at the time but I shared it privately with a friend. Well today we found a cover to go over the vent cover and NOW it looks neat and nice. I'm so pleased and told my husband so.
We purchased a blind for his music room. This will help reduce the heat in his music room during late spring, summer and early autumn (as well as milder winter days), making it more pleasant for him. We started to purchase the blind yesterday and while I had the width right I had forgotten that the window in that room is the longest window in the house, reaching nearly to the floor. I had John measure the window for me. We didn't know we'd be returning today for more dryer venting stuff until late last night, but decided we'd go by today while we were near that area. We couldn't buy a blind quite long enough and I surely didn't want to custom order. We decided that we'd 'adjust' it on our own since John keeps an amp on the floor in front of that window anyway and there are curtains that go to the floor there.
Put together sandwiches and lunch items for John's work lunch tomorrow.
Living Well: When we were home and I'd done a bit of work, I settled before the computer and found as my first post on facebook a photo of Katie, her husband, the littlest little girl and their goofy shepherd dog. The adults are smiling at the camera, the baby looking so like her mama it took my breath away and the dog is gazing steadily at the camera as well...with her tongue in the baby's ear! I laughed and laughed looking at that bit of candid family photography and giggle now when I recall it. Zoey just loves 'her' baby. She lies at the foot of her swing and when she cries, Zoey gets up and checks on her. She can't go past that child without licking an ear or foot or the top of her head. But this photo just goes beyond. I told Katie it's the equivalent of Zoey doing rabbit ears over the baby's head, lol.
Tuesday: I planned an impromptu 'Ladies' Luncheon' yesterday evening. I was planning on four guests and though it was all spur of the moment, I managed a complete menu using only what I had on hand. Oven Fried Chicken, Beans with Potatoes, Southern Style Cream Corn, Sliced Tomatoes and Banana Poundcake.
I ran a full load of dishes in the dishwasher.
I boiled a half dozen eggs. I let the water cool and then watered the orchids, succulents and ivy on the front porch.
I spray painted the chairs on the front porch. The unexpected benefit of this was that some of the spray paint oversprayed onto the floor...which in turn caused the floor about the chairs to be rather tacky. As I would move, I'd peel off layers of old paint, as the tacky spray paint caused it to stick to my feet. I hadn't expected to be cleaning the porch floor at the same time!
I used some dishwasher detergent I can't use in my dishwasher to clean the paint off me.
I wanted to make a pretty centerpiece for my table but had limited time and stuff to work with. I removed a faux orchid stem from a compote in the bathroom, added a live plant to the pot, piled green spanish moss over the soil of the plant and found I had a rather nice looking centerpiece for the table with fresh candles.
That inspired me to tweak my mantle. I added silver candlesticks with green candles which pulls all the greens forward from the pictures above the mantel and makes the little bouquet of silk flowers appear more lively too. It's a nice nod to summer, even if it is towards the end of the season.
My luncheon went bust. Daughter in law Bess was unable to leave her Mom's as early as planned. Niece Ashley wasn't well...All that food and only Mama and I to have dinner. Leftovers were set aside for supper when Bess and Josh could arrive.
John worked today but was paid yesterday. We didn't go down to pick up his check since he was going in today. He handled the deposit. I wrote out checks for tithes and bills this morning. Part of the bills were medical ones. I was able to pay one bill entirely, with money I'd earned from surveys last month, a small gift amount I was given and a little set aside from last pay check and this.
Living Well: The best laid plans of mice and women who think they are being spontaneous...I know what the plans were. Bess had called the night before to make arrangements for her arrival. I'd asked Mama and Ashley to join us and all accepted. Well things didn't work out. I could have sulked and been upset but to what purpose? And there was all that good food already cooked when I discovered the luncheon wasn't going to occur. It wasn't the day I planned but it worked out okay. There are many times when it's important to just 'go with the flow' and forget the plans we might have made.
Wednesday: Bess and Josh decided to stay and rest one day before making that long drive home. I was happy to have them stay. I quickly replanned my day. I needed to buy milk but I wasn't prepared to do a full grocery shop and miss time with my family.
John and I went to the bank. I needed to make a deposit, get our allowances and grocery money and handle another matter. I wish I'd remembered I had an item to go into the safety deposit box, but I didn't remember it at that time.
At the grocery store, I found half gallons of milk for $1.19. It's sell by date was August 19, which was today. I got two and put one in the freezer.
I spotted a lovely beef shoulder roast for a decent price and brought that home for our evening meal. After it was cooked, I let it rest in the oven. I've often heard that meat continues to cook once it comes from the oven. I sliced it after about an hour and the center of the roast was still quite warm, proof that chef's tip is truth. Slicing the roast netted me enough meat to feed us supper and put three containers in the freezer for future meals.
I had leftover mashed potatoes. Those went into fridge and I'll use them to either make a shepherd's pie or mashed potato pancakes in the next couple of days. Just a side note, my grandmother always used leftover mashed potatoes to extend her ground beef for burgers or meatloaf.
I managed to make a salad from what remained of our lettuces, and a couple of slices of tomatoes.
Living Well: It's not often we get to see milestone moments in our grandchildren's lives but we did today! Bess noted that today Josh was standing very steadily and well on his own, balancing nicely. She brought him into the kitchen sitting to show me how well he was doing. We'd all been telling her he'd walk 'any day now' but as I watched him, I said to her "I think we can start to say it will be any hour now and he'll be walking." As she started to leave the kitchen, she said "I think I'll video him, so Sam can see how strong he's getting." She got her phone set and turned loose of Joshua's hand. Bess reassured him but stepped back. Well that little boy did't like that one bit. He was so upset with his Mama that he forgot he was afraid to walk on his own and took three steps towards her! It was all caught on video so his Daddy could see those first steps first hand, too.
Thursday: We decided last night that I'd get my labs done a day early since we were driving right by the hospital on our way to the grocery store.
We gathered trash to take to the dumpsters on our way and picked up yesterday's mail.
Our stop after the hospital was Publix. John had a new prescription filled for $5, a huge savings on what it had cost at CVS. I had a short list of sales items that we picked up while there. I stocked up on dish soap, John's favorite sodas while they were on a good sale. I was sorry as could be to see that the Red Velvet Apricots were GONE. I hope I can get some of those before the season is over, but I don't know if I'll make it back to the store in time.
Aldi was our next stop. I stocked hard on canned goods, a half dozen each of several items. I have let several areas of my pantry get low and mean to spend the next few big grocery days stocking it. I will be watching for sales. I noted that the local store had a decent price on tomatoes, green beans and corn this week at $.50 a can.
We went by Sonic for a late lunch. I messed up a little with my snacking today. I had no protein. I have to figure out a way to better plan this 'emergency rations' thing for when we're out and things like lab work take an hour or more (a busy registration day for a small town hospital) instead of the 15 minutes we think it might. I opted for the Kids Meal which comes with milk and apple slices. Well no... You must ask for the apple slices or you get tater tots, which John enjoyed with his sandwich. I paid for this meal from my allowance and the kids will appreciate the toy that came with my meal when they come to visit Gramma.
We stripped our bed and Bess stripped the guest room bed before leaving home this morning. We washed a full load of laundry when we returned home. It was sprinkling rain, so John dried them in the dryer. I'm happy to report that the last three times we've used the dryer it's run without stopping. I think all his hardwork on the venting this week has paid off nicely. I was a little concerned that we might have to buy a new dryer since ours is 19 years old.
While John did laundry and vacuumed floors, I put away groceries. This is a little involved these days. We try not to put away foods in their original boxes. We've found that packing crackers in jars or tins and putting cereal in larger jars keeps ants out of our foods. I needed an air tight container for cereal and had one that was the right size but half full of noodles. I reasoned that since the noodles wouldn't mind if they weren't air tight, I could move them into a jar that tends to dry out cookies or loose crackers pretty badly. So I poured the noodles in that jar, put the cereal in the larger jar with a seal on it.
I bought a small pot of Celosia at the supermarket. It's got four little plants in it and cost more than I ought to have paid but the color was what caught my eye. It will be perfect with my petunias and coleus in the little back flower bed...which is looking mighty unkempt all over again. Never, ever, ever, ever, plant wildflowers in a bed you hope to eventually keep cleared, sigh.
I poured a little milk from the two gallons purchased an we put those in the freezer.
I purposely tried to stock heavily on produce, lettuces, milk and bread this pay period. The goal is to make it through the full two weeks without returning to the store, and maybe even three weeks if I can. We'll see how it goes. It means I'll have to sort of ration the eggs so they last us the full three weeks.
I didn't take time to do it today, but tomorrow, I will prep produce for salad and snacking and then get the fridge well organized. It's harder to find things when the fridge is full and I've a lot of leftovers in there that I want to be sure we use. I'm aiming for ZERO waste over these three weeks.
I put the green bananas in a produce bag and made sure it was sealed. This generally allows us to have bananas that ripen more slowly. I remove one or two at a time and leave the others in the bag.
Living Well: It's little things that point up to me how much better I feel over all. I had a rough night of next to no sleep last night. We'd had a full day before we returned home. I put away groceries, made the beds and did some light housekeeping before I said the first time, "I'm tired." "You should be!" said John. It wasn't until a little later that I realized I'd just done something I've not done in years upon years. To do a big shop, put away foods and then tackle housework, too...well it mightn't sound like much but it's a big deal to this girl!
Friday: I didn't really stop this morning...Feet hit the floor and off I went with my mind jogging along listing all the things I wanted to do today. And you know what? I did them ALL. And had a nap. Not too bad, huh?
Apple Walnut pancakes for breakfast this morning. I had half an apple that it was obvious John was not going to finish. He'd already cut a fresh one just bought yesterday and there wasn't a thing wrong with the half apple at all. I've found by putting them in the fridge once cut, the air dries out the flesh just enough to sort of naturally seal it. It doesn't turn brown under the surface of that cut area at all and stays just lovely and moist. I chopped that half apple (almost a whole cup full of apple pieces, my gracious!) and some walnuts and stirred into our pancake batter. It was a lovely pre-quel to fall sort of meal. I keep hearing all about my midwestern friends cool spell..None of that going on here but I thought I'd pretend Fall was near despite the humidity that made me gasp when I went out on the porch.
I did a whole housekeeping routine, Shabat cleaning, the house. John helped that along by vacuuming and doing a load of laundry yesterday. It took just a little while to go from one room to the other and clean and straighten and neaten things up. The house looked rather nice in under an hour...except the kitchen, which I just skipped altogether for the morning.
The sun was shining and I wanted to paint. Which direction did the wind blow from today? Whichever direction I'd just moved to get away from the haze of paint floating in the air! Maddie got a snout full too and walked drunkenly to the truck to lie in the hold she'd dug under there. Silly dog. I got the last coat on the front porch chairs. They look lovely. The porch looks absolutely awful, but it's getting fresh paint anyway so I'm not going to let it bother me in the least.
I also repainted the cafe set on the back porch. I have yet to determine what I'll do about the mosaic portion which isn't a true mosaic but some sort of plastic composite stuff. It's seen better days. What to do? I've no idea but I'll get inspired with something shortly, you can bet and I'll probably have it on hand!
I didn't buy paint for the cafe set. I had three cans of oil rubbed bronze on hand, two of which were partial cans. I was able to do the set with two coats on each piece and no paint leftover.
Liquid dishwasher detergent, straight from the bottle, will remove latex based spray paint from skin very nicely. It is harsh enough to dry skin so be sure to rinse very well and use lotion after.
Made egg salad from eggs boiled earlier this week. I saved one egg to make potato salad with next week.
Mixed up potatoe pancakes from leftover mashed potatoes. I served half of that mixture for dinner today and put the rest aside for a casserole dish Monday.
I made an impromptu menu today from what was in the fridge. I needed to use leftovers more than I needed to follow my meal plan for the week. I have enough leftovers to make dinner tomorrow as well.
While I was in the fridge anyway, I wiped shelves, organized foodstuffs and determined what we'd use over the weekend for meals. Waste: I did toss one item, some luncheon meat that just didn't smell quite fresh enough to suit me. I don't know why I buy the stuff. I really don't care for it but it is a convenience, I tell myself. If it's such a convenience why did I just toss a partial pack? We seem to be much happier with my homemade sandwich fillers and the really pricey stuff from the deli. I think we'll just skip that convenience purchase from now on.
I cut fresh celery sticks for John to snack on. He likes to spread them with peanut butter or cream cheese, which makes a healthy snack.
I found two small chunks of cheese which I grated to make a lower fat pimento cheese sandwich spread.
I washed a full load of dishes in the dishwasher.
I washed a load of towels and hung them to dry on the line...where they've been wet three times more just as they near getting dry. Thank you rain for the softening effects you'll have on my laundry. No thanks to the weather girl who promised us 'hot and dry' for the week on Tuesday morning. We've had rain showers here and there every single day.
While cleaning off my desk, I entered my grocery receipts into my grocery budget sheet. Golly Gee Galoshes! I am OVER my budget for the month and must cease all spending straight away in that area. I'll do my very very best to stretch things out as I'd thought I might yesterday when I was shopping and that should put me back on even keel. It will help for it not to be peach season...sadly, much as I enjoy them they cost dear, about $7.50 each week although those purchases were only a portion of my overage. In the future, I'll make sure to tot up my totals on a daily/weekly basis to insure I know where I am with my budget.
I've been doing some minor brainstorming. Nothing earth shaking but I've jotted down a couple of ideas for generating a greater savings in my meat purchases.
I've made John's work sandwiches. He only ever wants peanut butter and jelly lately which I find keeps well in the fridge (or freezer) and since he works Sunday, I went ahead and made them this afternoon to save scrambling about in the kitchen on Shabat.
Living Well: I love to spend my days in my home and nothing makes me happier than watching order come out of disorderliness, fresh come from tired and worn, leftovers made into a meal that appears fresh and appetizing all over again. But you know what makes it so very worthwhile to concentrate so very much time and energy to my home life? When my husband turns to me and asks "Have I thanked you for all the ways you save us money?" It's not my sole purpose in life, but it is a portion of my focus in every single task I put my hand to in a day's time.