Friday, October 9, 2015
In My Home This Week: Settling into the New Budget Quarter
I often wish to renovate a space but renovations are not in my budget. The creative side of me has to figure out how to make what I have work. This is not a recent project, but it illustrates what a bit of "Use what you have" can accomplish. In this case I had a cleaning closet without one item to help maximize the space was transformed with a $2 clearance key rack (that's where the broom and fly swatter is hanging) and four milk crates I'd used in my master closet but decided would best be re-purposed here. Now I have a space to hold cleaning supplies and the trash can, as well.
Saturday: Last night before sundown I cashed in my Pinecone Rewards for $18 in Pay Pal credits.
Today I received my new purse in the mail. I ordered it using Amazon credits earned through surveys and Swagbucks. I am very pleased. The purse was a clearance item, formerly selling for $90 and I got it for $15. It is the grey purse I kept saying I wished I could add to my wardrobe. I love how God seems to listen to even my chatter at times and supplies wants as well as needs.
I dressed up a plain cheese pizza with some diced peppers and onion and a couple of pieces of chopped turkey sausage.
Went through the older magazines in my basket and culled out the recipes and articles I wanted to keep.
I was pleased with how streamlined dinner and dishes were today. I don't like to work per se on my Sabbath day. Today it really was easy. Well worth the prep time I put in yesterday getting things prepared. I had only to rinse a handful of dishes and stowed them right in the dishwasher. Easy peasy and I liked it a lot!
Still in list making mode: this week I'm thinking of those items we need only occasionally like first air and cold medicines. Bandages, triple antibiotic, benadryl, Vapor rub, Vitamin C tablets, Zinc, tissues. I'm good on the Vitamin C and tissues but we need the other items. I've put them on my watch list and hope to supply these items from sales.
Sunday: Arghh! I made a subtraction error on my deposit this past week and I've had to adjust the total of our check register. I really needed not to 'lose' that extra money this pay period. I've subtracted from various sub accounts just enough to make up the difference, but it means working doubly hard to make those adjustments up over the next pay period. Ugh. Well thank goodness for the sub accounts for just such times as this!
I froze leftover pancakes earlier this week. They were heated in the toaster this morning and served with sausages and the leftover mixed fruit. Very quick and easy breakfast this morning and a real time saver for me on church morning.
Put the chili mixture in the crock pot to cook while we were at church.
We stopped for a newspaper on the way home. John always buys us a soda. I have gotten fond of Sprite Zero but I never can drink a whole one, so I always bring home a little more than half and save it for another day.
I had only to mix up fried cornbread batter (same as pancakes really but made crispy on purpose) to go with the chili. The salad was cut and bagged on Friday. I've learned it takes about 4 minutes to bake apples in my microwave, and it's such a quick and filling dessert. I often don't stuff them but now and then I will, usually with oatmeal and raisins.
The kitchen was quickly set to rights and then wiped down well for the week. It's helped to keep the weekly clean up a very easy job.
I had a pair of shoes that I felt were entirely too snug last year. This autumn I find they fit very well indeed and I am pleased. They are a cute pair of flats, dressy enough to wear to church, but perfectly suitable for jeans, too. On the other hand, I've two more pair of 'out grown' shoes that no longer fit my feet. Time to re-home those.
Made John's work lunch sandwiches and gathered all in one spot in the fridge for easy filling of his lunch bag tomorrow. I went ahead and packed the shelf stable items in his bag.
I didn't have as much chili leftovers as I'd planned. It would do as a soup, I think, with a bit of beef broth added to stretch it further. I also have leftovers of rice and chicken which might well be a second meal, despite the sandwiches we ate from the breasts tonight.
Speaking of sandwiches, because we'd eaten a late lunch I decided John wouldn't want two sandwiches for our supper tonight (and I was right) so I put the extra chicken breast meat back into the casserole dish to save for use later this week.
One of the last apples in the bowl was badly bruised. I cut away the bruised portion. I think I can use it up tomorrow and not let it waste, but if I don't eat it then I'll pop into the frozen fruit odds and ends bag for future making of jelly.
I spent the afternoon watching Wartime Kitchen and Garden, another of those British films that are so handy for reminding us of true thrift as a necessity. The link leads to episode 2 but you should see episode 1 on the same page on the right sidebar. It seems to be my time to learn a lot of stretch it and make it sorts of recipes. A steamed chocolate pudding that used grated carrots to make up a portion of the sweetness? Sounds good for my current eating plan and my budget. I look forward to learning more.
Washed a full load of dishes this evening.
Went forward with earning Swag points and made second goal. It was easy enough to do as I worked on a Sudoku puzzle and watched a bit of televised sermons that required mostly listening skills.
Monday: Up early this morning and packed John's lunch, made him breakfast.
Started right away on earning Swagbucks. These early morning hours the bucks often add up faster. I was nearly to goal when John left for work.
After Bible Study this morning, I took a quick shower. Water is not at a premium, but I do want to keep in the practice of not wasting it. I need to be more diligent about letting water run at the bath and kitchen sinks though. That's where the bulk of my water usage literally goes 'down the drain'!
Made myself a quick breakfast of toasts with half an orange. I used up the last piece of deli cheese we'd purchased last week.
Jotted down my plans for this week. There's things to do both staying and going so it does me well to remind myself of all that needs to be done this week.
I clipped coupons then scanned the CVS ad one more time to plan my purchases. I started with the amount I had in extra cash bucks, which I believed to be about $17 in hand and on my card. I made out my list, pulled matching coupons, mulled over this item and that and finalized my list.
Gathered up the bill box and check register and made sure bills were up to date. I have one more check to write this week but will wait until towards the end of the week to make that one out and then will drop in the mail. Working on the check register prior to going off shopping is really a good way to curb the ideas of what one might do and puts reality right before you. I decided then and there that I'd only spend what I had in ECBs to work with today, plus buy a gift for my great niece (since that comes from a separate fund and not from the balance).
Noted that the land line/DSL bill was a pre-paid thing apparently. We received a bill this past week and it was apparently for the month of October. We cancelled service before October arrived. I pushed the bill amount I'd set aside over to the meat fund, giving me nearly all I should need to purchase our bulk beef supplies this week.
When I went out, I gathered the trash to take off, took bills into town to mail, stopped by the post office to purchase a book of stamps.
Printed off coupons at the kiosk. Did you know you can scan your card multiple times (I generally do it twice) and will get different coupons each time? It also prints off a reminder of what is loaded on your card. In my case, I'd thought I'd let a valuable coupon lapse, $10 off $40 purchase, but discovered it was good for today, so I rapidly added two items to my list based on other coupons that printed off at the kiosk.
I was surprised by a relatively high value razors coupon in the print outs which I'd planned to purchase anyway. A few minutes later, as I stood at the razors display looking for the brands I'd meant to purchase, a woman stopped and picked up a bag of disposables. "Ouch!" she said. "Price?" "Yes!" I asked if she had a CVS card and told her to print the coupons at the kiosk to get a $4/$10 razor purchase coupon. She scanned once and came to ask me what to do if it didn't print. I suggested she scan the card again and told her it would print different coupons. She was a lot happier after that second scan.
I purchased my gift item right there at CVS. No need to visit a second store, no need of further tempting myself to spend money I didn't have to spend.
Headed home immediately after CVS. I had plenty of dinner items practically ready to eat here at home, in fact, I named off three possible meals I might have just as I loaded my stuff into the car. Good incentive to head home, so I did.
Shopped my shed this morning. I am ready to see this front porch start to come together. What I pulled from storage this morning: two fancy iron plant hangers, two fancy metal hanging baskets, a plate rack...Not sure yet how I want to use that. I also found a couple of fancy little pots but every last thing needs a coat of paint and I mean that sincerely. Which means still more delays in getting the porch finished up because I have to wait for weather to be suitable for painting. I shall keep reviewing all my options to see if I can't make anything at all work without painting every single item I touch.
Sliced an orange bell pepper and put in the freezer, since it was starting to look a little past it's prime.
Cleaned the oscillating fan in the kitchen sitting area very well using the vacuum cleaner.
When we went to visit Katie Labor Day weekend, I'd forgotten my SunDisk for the camera. It took about a dozen pictures to have my camera tell me that the camera memory was full. I hadn't deleted them because I really did want the photos, but every time I turned on the camera it would bleat that the internal memory was full. I learned today how to copy those photos over to my SunDisk. Go me! It just took trial and error pushing buttons and seeing what menus came up. It takes me a good while to figure out my electronic things but eventually I'll learn something.
Tuesday: I made extra French toast this morning. I was so pleased with the time savings in having a ready to eat breakfast last Sunday I thought I'd put French toast up for Sunday coming up.
John always ask that I cook the leftover egg/milk mixture. I stopped adding vanilla and nutmeg to the French toast batter because of this. Then I add in an extra egg or two and cook up the leftovers. It's a nice extension of the eggs and doesn't affect their flavor or the ability to scramble them in the least.
I started right away trying to figure out what we'd have for dinner today. There was the chicken and rice from Sabbath dinner...I chopped the leftover chicken and mixed with the rice, a bit of apple, onion and celery. I added a can of mushroom soup and a bit of chicken broth and some curry powder.This was meant to cook up and thicken, but miscalculations on my part...the rice was already cooked! We ended eating it as a soup but it was still very tasty and there are enough leftovers to make a soup supper for me later this week when John is working again.
I put the chicken carcass in the freezer. I reckon I got about 1 cup of meat pieces off that for our casserole/soup.
I have discovered that John considers celery sticks a great treat if he can fill them with pimento cheese, cream cheese or peanut butter (really good!). I never toss celery any longer nor do I have loads in the freezer as I did once upon a time. No, we eat the bulk of the celery these days just as it comes off the stalks. I cut up three stalks today, putting only the very rough root end pieces into the freezer bag where I put tops and bottoms and outer skins of onions, and carrot trimmings, too.
Made a carrot and raisin salad. The bits that were too small to grate easily went into my chicken broth bag in the freezer.
I used Liquid Gold on the old wood pieces of furniture in our bedroom today. I do this about twice a year, as it saturates the wood and brings up a lovely color. I also use it on the wooden sugar bowl on my dresser and the old cedar wood chocolates boxes. All looked beautiful when I was done in that room today.
Went out this afternoon and planted the bulk of the plants I brought home two weeks ago just before all the wet weather came in.
I noted while I was messing about planting that one planter on the patio is loaded down with freshly sprouted seedlings. I suppose it's all the petunia seeds I scattered there mid summer that have sprouted. I left that pot undisturbed. In about four weeks I ought to have a nice crop of petunias to bloom well into January for me if I protect it from frost. We don't generally have frost until late November.
I bordered the small iris bed next to my shed with bricks I'd had stacked on the patio.
I spent a good deal of time weeding the big flower bed in the corner of the patio/back porch. Maddie made a right mess of that bed this summer, digging cooling holes to lie in and now wildflowers are scattered all over it. I shall have a rough time getting at all of those and removing as much as I can and trying to get that bed back into some sort of shape. I got all the edges done today. I only quit to leave the toad in peace...You know how I feel about toads and I found three today as I worked in the yard!
I removed all the morning glory vines from the back porch rails. They'd gone fully to seed and stopped blooming and were dying back. I weeded about the edge of the porch where I plan to have my flower bed and my old chairs set up.
In between cycles of working today (I dusted our bedroom walls and furniture, polished the furniture and then vacuumed and did all that weeding work outdoors) I got a good bit of blog work done.
As Maddie was being incredibly patient today I managed to groom her some more and cut away lots of matted fur. She's been especially reluctant to let me near her with the blunt scissors I use but I guess she's finally gotten uncomfortable enough that it feels better to have the fur cut away. I've only a few spots more on her, mostly near her ears and neck to get and she will be free of mats entirely.
When I came in from weeding, John had filled celery sticks with peanut butter for a snack. It was most welcome! He must have been lacking from our dinner today because he ate all that celery except for the few pieces I ate. I shall have to get another bunch this next pay period. I have only the pale inner stalks left to use up from this bunch.
I thawed sliced roast beef for sandwiches this evening.
I bought a mango a couple of weeks ago that was odd. As it ripened it blackened in areas. The spots didn't penetrate to the flesh of the mango but I wasn't sure I'd get to eat the fruit at all, based on the outward appearance. I'm so glad I cut it and found the flesh was just fine. I did this on Sunday and finished it up this evening with my supper. It wasn't the best flavored mango I've ever had, having a more lemon-y taste, but I didn't waste my money and throw it away either.
John and I spent some time on the back porch this evening. The sun was in my eyes the whole while. I imagine come real winter that bit of warmth will be most welcome to me. Good thing we went out. Maddie walked from the back porch to the patio and picked up the multi pack of ornamental kale I'd left sitting there! She was toting that nine pack by the handle but just what she'd planned to do with it, we weren't certain. I rescued the plants and put them out of her reach. Silly dog!
Worked on Swagbucks at moments through out the day. I printed off a coupon that I know Bess and Sam will use for a nice amount of Swagbucks to add to my total today.
Katie told me something she wanted a sugar bowls for Christmas. I told her I have a pretty one in my stash of things that I bought and loved but never use since we don't take sugar. I'll pass it on to her and I will keep my eye out as I do thrift shopping.
Wednesday: Did I share that the Subway sandwich shop in our little town closed up and went away? We've no idea why but were sad to see them go. At least we still have the local diner which is good food, albeit hot dogs, burgers and fried chicken. I mention this only because I'd toyed briefly with the idea twice this week of going into town and buying sandwiches for our evening meal. The diner is usually closed come evening. Now the truth is I'd come home two or three weeks ago and told John that Subway was closed but I'd forgotten. As we went by it this evening on a detour to head home we noted that it was closed up tight and is apparently done. I'd hoped it was simply up for remodel but apparently not. That's two businesses lost in our little town in the past four months. Remember the auto parts/hardware store closed up as well in June of this year. Not a good sign in my opinion, not a good sign at all.
Tried to work on Swagbucks this morning prior to leaving home and did okay but never did make goal today. Oh well. I'm earning just small amounts of money anyway, and there is life beyond this computer. I'm certainly not looking at making this anything but a supplement not an actual part of income that we must have, although it's a nice supplement.
Washed a full load of sheets and dishtowels. I hung them to dry and put what wouldn't go on the lines on the drying rack and set that on the porch in the sun to get that good fresh sun and breeze.
I did housework this morning and then gathered up all of our trash, as well as several packages/books/etc that needed to go out to the car. I also made sure we had the electric bill (due tomorrow) and that I had water, snack and reading material. We were off for the afternoon to a doctor's appointment (for John this time) and then down to meat market to purchase this quarter's supply of beef.
We were shocked and unpleasantly surprised to discover that the amount we were requested to pay a the doctor's office was not deductible but because the doctor was not a provider for John's insurance. We'd have loved to have known that prior to the appointment, since they had his information and could have told us two weeks ago when the appointment was made...Oh well. He needed to have a new doctor and I guess we've got one. I'm just glad that he doesn't see one more than once in five years!
John mentioned to me much later in the evening that he thinks his insurance allots him one visit to an out of network doctor once a year. It would be nice if we could get a portion of this refunded or all of it applied towards the annual deductible.
At the meat market I didn't buy as much meat as I have in the past. They had gone up a little, not dramatically and I was cautious. I think we'll be eating more chicken, while I can get it cheaply. At least it is a versatile meat.
I bought 15 pounds of ground beef. 10 of those will be for casseroles, soups, etc. I will make the other five pounds up as meatballs and a few pre-formed burgers. I bought two big thick chuck roasts, each cut in half. Six cubed steaks, packaged in twos. Three sirloin steaks which are not nearly as large as they have been in the past. In fact, they are now about half the size although they are nice and thick. That will make three steak dinners for us. I bought a big sirloin tip roast as well and will cube that for stew beef and possibly put half that in the freezer as another roast. I spent about what I spent last visit and I'll just be very creative with how I use it. My goal is not to return before January or possibly even February.
We came home the long way. It was a beautiful autumn afternoon with temperatures suited to riding with the windows down. I really enjoyed that ride home with all the blooming wildflowers (weeds) and grasses (more weeds) at roadside. John unfortunately has allergies to ragweed and despite his allergy meds we ended up having to let the windows up and use the AC in the car, but it was nice while it lasted. The aromas were awesome of freshly turned dirt, cows, and the occasional aroma of cooking or a blooming plant such as Tea Olive scenting the air.
We dropped off electric bill at the EMC.
John stopped and filled up my car. I hadn't put gas in my car in nearly 3 weeks.
I made us burgers and oven fries when we got home, although I own it would have been lovely to pick up something along the way. I was good and hungry at that point.
When I reached for a potato to slice into fries, I smelled that tell tale aroma of a bad potato. I emptied the bag into the sink immediately and found the culprit and one other potato that had a bad place on it that was too far gone to cut away. John carried those out and tossed into the woods away from the house. I washed the other potatoes well, checked for bad spots. I found two with tiny bad areas and cut those away. I always do a smell check on my cut potatoes when they have spots on them. It's just my way of being sure we aren't eating anything spoiled. I cut up potatoes for the fries, cut up few more and put in water to use to make mashed potatoes tomorrow. I left the good potatoes to dry in the dish drainer. They'll go back in the basket tomorrow when they are fully dry.
Thursday: Washed a full load of dishes in the dishwasher this afternoon.
Used up that half apple and half an orange and about half the pomegranate in making a fruit cup for supper tonight.
I weeded some more of the flower beds.
Cleaned off the back porch after John finished mowing about the house. It was good incentive to sweep away spider webs and straighten up the area that was bothering me so much. I was very pleased with my work at the end and thought the porch looked far better and not nearly so cluttered.
Made dinner. I cooked the potatoes I cut last night.
I saved the water I cooked English peas in. I used it to water the surviving orchid.
I ran too much water for coffee, as I stepped away to do something else. I used the excess water in the coffee pot to water the houseplants and used two portions of bottles of water that we'd drunk from yesterday to water the plants on the back porch.
Took coffee on the back porch this afternoon. So nice!
I had windows open this morning and until well after dinner, about 1:30. I chuckled at myself. I was just fine but when the temperature hits 75F indoors, I can tell it. I went ahead and started shutting windows and sure enough before I was done making the rounds of the house, the AC kicked on.
Brought the checkbook up to date.
Clipped coupons that came as an insert in a magazine I received yesterday.
Agreed to a health check up with a home health practitioner who will be sent out by my health insurance. I don't feel I need this service, but I will receive a Walmart gift card for agreeing to this service.
Prepped John's work lunch for tomorrow.
I have lists to help me while I'm out doing things tomorrow, a reminder of fun things and needed tasks that I must attend to.
Now and then I get an email offering up a great deal (as in FREE) for magazine subscriptions. They aren't always magazines I'd want but now and then they are. I just received my first issue of Weight Watchers magazine. I'm pretty excited to get it for free. If I get another email from the company I'll try and post here so others can join the mailing list and take advantage of the deals. While the set up is for business organizations, the real deal is that individuals may also apply. Magazines must have so many subscribers to keep the post paid status they applied for. Without the subscribers they must pay to ship each magazine, something they do not want to have to do. That's why they often make these really great or free deals on subscriptions. Besides, they also hope the incentive of a free magazine will encourage you to pay full renewal fees later when the subscription is near expiration.
Friday: A long and productive and fun day all around. I am weary but I so enjoyed myself today. I feel it was a savings day despite spending bits here and there, but I'll tell you all about it. I started a work day as I always do:packing John's work meal and making him breakfast.
I rounded up all the clothes I could and washed a full load of laundry. I hung the majority to dry.
I got that meat portioned out that I ought to have attended to yesterday. I cut the sirloin roast in half and then cut one half into two smaller halves which I made into small rolled roasts, just about a meal for us. I cut the other half into stew meat and packaged into three packets. The fat and tough bits, I put in a bag to make soup with later on.
I portioned out the bulk purchase of ground beef (we had some of it packaged in 8 ounce packets. I made 8 burgers which I stacked by twos with cereal box liners between layers and then froze. Those are handy when I've forgotten to thaw meat as they thaw more quickly and can be cooked while partially frozen. I mixed up meatballs with the rest of the bulk meat (I'd guess about two pounds) and packaged those into three servings for us. I flash froze them first before packaging them up.
I gathered mail and trash to take with me, made sure to bring along my midday dose of supplements and grabbed a bottle of water on my way out of the door. Poor toe took the brunt of that when I dropped it and turned a lovely shade of blue, sigh.
Stopped at the flea market to settle up for last month. I was so close to making profit this month but not quite there. Oh well. I didn't sell enough to make a dint in my stock, and didn't take time to gussy up the booth as they were busy with customers.
I purchased a cabinet, a steel kitchen cabinet to go on the back porch. This is my solution to John's need for storage for a few items that he can only use when near a source of electricity outdoors and my desire to have a place to store grilling needs and a work surface nearby. I have plans for the piece as it does need a fresh coat of paint and prettying up just a little bit. Best of all, delivery to my house was free, a very real kindness on the part of the store owners. I offered to pay a fair value for delivery (small town stuff not city size, lol) but they declined and said it was 'on the house'.
Went to visit two thrift stores though I had only about $15 in pocket. I was feeling poor as I drove over to the stores and had to give myself a good hard talking to. I don't have time to feel poor when I am so very blessed!
Found a lamp to use on the front porch. I mean to put a solar light in the socket and have a little 'free' light for the pets there. I have a shade in the shed. That cost me $2.50.
I bought a nice carpet sample square to use as a back door mat. It's nearer the colors I've used in that area. I was actually looking for a new mat for the front door but decided I could as well move the back door mat to the front. I paid $2.50 for that as well. My final purchase was a set of napkin rings for $.99.
My second thrift store stop was at my most favorite place, run by the Episcopal church in that town. I found two books, both by Elizabeth Gaskell and both printed in England. I paid $3 each for these lovely little books (very antique in size). I had a set of napkins in hand but only had enough money for the books. The woman at the desk asked if I didn't want the napkins, which I'd put back. I have napkins at home and while those would have been useful, I didn't have those books...Books were the important thing there!
Went to the grocery where we fill our prescriptions to get John's new lot filled. I had list of items I meant to buy while there. I bought other items as well. I decided to look at a few items while there. Salmon for one. Mama buys these little cans of salmon. They were $2.49 but Bumble Bee brand was $1.85. I put four of those in my buggy. The doctor suggested I'd benefit from eating Salmon or tuna at least once a week.
I found lower carb tortillas and lower carb corn tortillas. I thought they'd make a nice change from bread for me. I'm craving tacos and burritos! I also wanted to purchase a little cornmeal mix. I'd looked for it at Aldi last pay period but they had none in stock. I found Publix brand 2 pound bags of white cornmeal mix were on clearance price sale for $.77 a bag. I got four after checking the expiration date (all in June 2016). I suspect I got just enough to last me until then.
I was going to treat myself to flowers and a chicken dinner for Sunday but skipped both. I felt with the extras I'd purchased, and knowing I meant to go pick up chicken breasts at another store, I might just give up something to balance things a tiny bit.
I bought three family packs of breasts. These breasts were so big that I am fairly certain that 1 will serve two. So convinced of it that I packaged them individually and froze them. I figure for the 12 breasts we'll get 24 servings. No complaints there.
The money spent on groceries today was spent ahead. I will subtract those amounts from my budget next week when we're paid. It might sound like I'm just blowing my budget and will take out extra but I generally don't. I've got a list made out for next week. I'll need bread and milk and produce and that's it. I can mange that easily on what is left of the budget and we can get by without any further purchases for the next two weeks. If I ever found I was consistently over budget all of the time and it was due to spending ahead, I'd stop going to pick up these great buys. Many items bought today will be pantry/freezer stock. I should have more than enough meat to see us through the end of the year.
I splurged on a flat of mixed pansies for $8. So much for skipping flowers...but they will be lovely around the Ginkgo tree in the bed I just got through thoroughly weeding.
Came home and planted a bunch of daffodil bulbs I'd planted in pots last year. They had a great root system on them and were nice and firm. I'll appreciate the extra daffodils in that flower bed. Some of the bulks had multiplied already.
Maddie and Misu have grown close. The funniest thing is in the morning Misu wants to be petted. Now Maddie will walk up to her while I'm petting her and takes her paw and pats the cat, just as though she's petting her, too. Misu rewards Maddie with purrs and head butts.
I don't know just how these two will react when we get Blossom the Beagle here but I'm guessing they'll all settle in together rather nicely once the new wears off. I'll keep trying to get fresh photos of these two and will certainly take pictures of Blossom when she arrives sometime towards the end of this month.