Saturday: My last job last night was to wash a full load of dishes.
Rinsed dishes and stacked for the day today.
John suggested we have fried chicken from the local diner for our dinner. I made the side dishes at home. He paid for the chicken from his allowance. We had our meal and had enough for lunches tomorrow from the leftovers.
Sunday: Saw John off to work this morning. He had his packed lunch and his breakfast before going off.
I washed a full load of clothes and hung the bulk of them to dry here in the house (since they were done well before sunrise). I dried undies and dishcloths in the dryer as I had less room for hanging those smaller items.
Colored my hair this morning. I used 1/3 of the solutions. This was a bit trickier than using half of each. I measured with a ruler and divided by 3s. It worked very well, my color turned out just fine and my hair was well saturated. This stretches my current supply of hair color so that it will last me through 2017.
Went through the bill box and wrote out checks for tomorrow's Harvest day. As I worked on my half payments, I realized I could push the electric bill and one other half payment over to the medical bills account, which allowed me to pay another portion of a good sized bill. I will knock this one out a bit at a time, without borrowing or touching savings. I had a portion of money left in that fund that will start the payment for December.
I was pleased to note that we had a portion of our last paycheck left in the account. This is an added, unplanned savings. I am going to let it remain in checking for now since this is the short pay period coming up and any extra is a blessing. I'm going to try real hard not to 'need' that money though so we can push it over to savings.
Went over my shopping list and made sure of the items on it. I tried hard to think ahead for our holiday meal and the pay period both. I made a trip to Aldi, where I walked the dairy/bread/produce sections for the most part and avoided all the rest. I spent about $50, keeping in mind what produce I had on hand at home. Noted that milk was $1.94 a gallon which is a good bit less than it's been. Butter was lower too but a better buy at Publix.
I decided to skip CVS today. I may well go later in the week during the Black Friday sales at the store but for today I saw no real reason to go into the store.
At Publix, I noted pickles and pickle relish were on sale. I'd not realized this (not in the sales sheet online) but definitely on my list of items we needed to restock. I'd just used the last teaspoon of pickle relish yesterday. I picked up those and John's favorite Blue Cheese Dressing, which was also on sale (not advertised). I spent about $50 there as well. Glad I decided to hold off on going to CVS today. I am at the top of my food budget for the pay period. Any further spending will be FREE shopping or have to come from my allowance.
When I went out I forgot to pick up my phone and forgot to take off the trash. I did NOT turn around and come back home. The phone is a nice thing to have but I went for years upon years with out one in hand and I figured I still could. I've found that turning around and starting over again simply leads to a frustrating day overall if the forgotten items are not absolutely necessary to the tasks at hand and those items were not.
I stopped and bought myself lunch. I realized it had been more than six hours since I had eaten and I had nothing ready to eat at home. I opted for a $5 lunch combo at the burger place and carefully edited out the items I couldn't fully eat. I made sure to get vegetables on my burger and to limit my french fry consumption to no more than 10 which is a rough estimate of half a cup. I ate half the ice cream cup and poured the rest out.
Brought home the leftover french fries which I figured Blossom would like. And she did. I didn't give her all of them either. I figure she needs to watch what she eats same as I do, lol.
Sorted out the fridge freezer and rearranged it. I was able to ADD 2 pounds of butter and four loaves of bread to the new arrangement. I will work with that space again because I am certain I can repackage some of the items into more compact containers which should net me still more room. As I worked I had a few ideas of foods I might make with the ingredients I found. I jotted down those ideas.
I pulled out all the bread sacks last night with the odd and end pieces left in them. Sometimes a loaf will dry out before we are quite finished eating it, and the end pieces of these good breads we buy are too good to not use. Tonight I sorted through the bread. I had several nice half pieces that will make a batch of French Toast for us one or two mornings. I cut a lot of bread into cubes and spread on the jelly roll pan to toast in a very low oven. I crumbled some pieces into crumbs. I just can't bring myself to buy bread crumbs at the store and croutons from the store are just glorified hard pieces of cardboard really. Homemade croutons are so good. Sometimes I catch John or one of the visiting kids snacking on them right out of the jar I store them in!
I try to make sure the crumbs and the croutons are thoroughly dry before I store them but to be on the safe side, I put the cooled bread and croutons into glass jars, top with a piece of paper towel and skip the metal lid. The ring screws right onto the jar over the paper towel. The paper towel allows any further moisture that might be in the bread to escape and yet keeps pests from getting into my good breadcrumbs. I leave the jars on the counter for a day or two and give them a shake now and then to stir them up. Croutons and breadcrumbs both keep for quite a while in a dark cupboard and once I know the bread is completely and totally dry I can put a metal jar lid on to help further protect them.
I vowed that in the coming year I would trim my zippered bag usage by putting meats in the freezer in bread and cereal sacks. To that purpose I saved all the bread sacks as I emptied them.
One downside to this cold: I can't smell anything. This morning I kept getting a whiff of something but I couldn't tell if it was something good or bad. This afternoon I found a bad orange in the fruit bowl...and the big Sweet Potato destined for my Thanksgiving dinner was found to be bad in the potato bin. Good thing I have some canned sweet potatoes on hand I can use for that planned dish.
I had some small rolls and bagels in the freezer that I sliced and toasted for use as chips, crostini and larger croutons to top soup, etc.
Monday: John had a hair appointment this morning. We made the best of the day and got in a lot of very good conversation as well. When we left home we took off trash. After his hair cut we went to pick up cash to buy Christmas gift cards for our children. Then we purchased the gift cards. I have one more purchase to make and will do that one online.
After we did our shopping, we had lunch, which I paid for out of my pocket.
Then to the grocery store where I bought fruit to supplement what I had at home (and to supplement my lunch) and another sales item I'd failed to see yesterday. This one was not strictly necessary but it is something John enjoys and while on sale it's a nice treat for him. He insisted on picking out 'something special' for me. He's struggled with his desire to do something for me. In the past he'd bring me a small bag of the chips I especially liked but wouldn't buy for myself but that is not something he will do now, which I appreciate! However, cheese is allowable in small quantity and buying me exotic cheese is something he wanted to do today. We chose a reasonably priced slice of Brie, a cheese I've read a lot about lately but never tasted. I have to admit that all this extra was truly extra and pushed me well over my budget for this pay period. This will be the last splurge for the year for us. I've got my mind made up about this grocery overage business, but that is a discussion for another day.
We left the grocery and drove down to John's work place to pick up his check. We had to wait a few minutes which gave us time to chat with one of his co-workers. From there we drove right to the bank and did our banking, drove downtown to drop off bills and my personal Christmas cards (I brought them with me to mail).
On our way home John suggested we pick up something for supper. I was reluctant...then he said he'd pay for it from his allowance. Well okay then. And since I was choosing I was able to opt for a reasonably healthy meal, too.
For all that we spent today (haircut and extra groceries) there were savings all through out the day that offset our spending. Combining multiple errands saved time and gasoline, paying for meals and haircut from our pocket money rather than our joint account, not turning up the heat this morning and not being home to use electricity while we were out of the house. The money we spent on Christmas gifts was saved for that express purpose and we stayed within our budget. Because groceries had been purchased already with a few extra added ones today, when we went to the bank I made sure we took ONLY allowance as our cash this week.
My brother stopped by this evening to check our roof. He decided to just go ahead and caulk around the vent pipes and checked a few other spots to prevent future leaks if at all possible. We were all agreed that the extreme heavy winds and heavy rains were the real culprit of that leak but we appreciated the extra care he took to prevent future problems. He refused any pay for his time because he said it wasn't even five minutes. He and John did have a beer together which he said was payment enough.
We agreed on a day for our personal Thanksgiving meal.
While we were out today V called. We'll be seeing them tomorrow. I can't wait to see her and Bryan and that big big boy of theirs. I have a nice stack of things for her and she assured me she has a stack of things for Josh and a few items for me, too. I like family exchanges, lol. Katie sent me a photo of herself dressed for a family meal and said that everything she had on I'd given to her in our last visit except her shirt. Last night I wore a nightgown Mama had just given me. We pass around things in our family.
Tuesday: Had an appointment for a haircut this morning. I paid from my allowance, since grocery expenses this short pay period were heavier than usual. John paid for his out of pocket yesterday as well.
Last night I forgot to activate shop and earn on one of my purchases but I remembered when I ordered the other two. Christmas shopping is now down to one item.
I placed an order with Walmart for the supplements and diabetic supplies needed. I followed a hunch and looked for some crackers that John especially likes. The lowest price to date was $.59/package. I found them at Walmart for $.25 per package sold in packs of 8 online only. That is even lower than the least expensive okay brand cracker.
Talked it over with John while we were out yesterday. We agreed that in future, while at home, he'll use the crackers we keep on hand and fill them with peanut butter himself. The pre-made crackers he considers such a treat will be saved for his work lunch.
Had a long and lovely visit with the Bell family this afternoon. V and I made our exchanges. She'd brought things for me, Bess, Josh and Katie from her stash of stuff at home. I had something for her and Bryan and Dru. We chuckled over the providence that brought her pajamas just as she needed a pair and my getting new night gowns from Mama's old ones just as I needed new ones.
V brought me three warm and soft sweaters. Again we chuckled as I noted that several of the items she'd given me were just what I needed to complete an outfit or three.
I'd planned to make a meal for them but they'd eaten lunch and had to be somewhere else by supper hours, so I made coffee and opened the bag of Aldi Spekulatis cookies I'd just bought. These spicy little cookies are not overly sweet and yet have a lovely crispy texture.
Wednesday: I extended a half pound of ground meat to four nice sized burgers. I added dried bread crumbs wet with a bit of milk, a little onion and an egg. This little addition really extended the meat. I served John two pieces but set one aside for my lunch tomorrow.
I didn't make quite enough gravy to have with my second piece of Salisbury steak and leftover potatoes. I added some warm water to the frying pan and scraped it well and mixed it with a whisk. I left the pan drippings and gravy bits reduce down. It made sufficient gravy for one serving in that way.
I shopped the pantry: canned sweet potatoes, sweetened condensed milk, canned pumpkin, canned cranberry sauce, decaf and regular coffees and green beans.
Put the canned cranberry sauce in the fridge right away.
I chopped vegetables for stuffing today. When I pulled out the celery I noted it was starting to deteriorate a bit. I went ahead and trimmed off the bad pieces, chopped some for the stuffing and cut several sticks which John will snack on. I was left with the nice center pieces. I'll be sure to use those up this next week as snacks.
I found an older pair of knit pants in my house clothes that I've always liked in winter because they were soft and heavy and warm. These pants are too big but they have drawstrings and feel very comfortable. And wearing them allows me to keep the heat turned a little lower on these cold days. I lean more towards wearing them in the evening, as they feel as comfortable as pajamas really.
Washed a full load of dishes.
Washed a full load of clothes. Sheets and towels were hung to dry and the bulk of the clothes were washed with those. Several items were hung indoors to dry.
This afternoon I addressed preparations for Thanksgiving dinner. Since our dinner is on Friday I can take it nice and slow, which suits me perfectly.
I made another pan of cornbread which should give me the perfect amount of bread for stuffing. If not, I'll bake another pan tomorrow. I don't believe you can have too much stuffing/dressing and I do plan to freeze an additional pan or two for the kids to take home.
I fried onion rings. I sliced an onion thin and dipped in a batter made with water and pancake mix. I did this because I want to make a green bean casserole...but I don't have the canned onion rings on hand and really don't mind that I don't. I like green bean casserole. I don't like the canned onions rings! Making my own onion rings took less than a half hour. I drained them on paper towels which I'd placed over newspaper. I packed them in paper towel in a covered jar to keep until I want them on Friday morning.
Made my own pie crust for Pumpkin Pie. I'll make my own filling tomorrow and will bake then as well.
This afternoon while I was cooking those onions, I opened windows and let fresh air run through house to sort of dissipate the aroma of onions cooking.
I laid down and rested this evening for a half hour. I'd have liked to have had a nap but it wasn't happening. Even just lying down is very restful though.
Thursday: Made Pumpkin Pie filling and baked that while I cleared up the house. John helped clean on Tuesday when we knew we were having guests and we didn't mess it up terribly yesterday, so it really only took 30 minutes or so.
Made sausage balls from turkey sausage. For years now I've skipped using the biscuit mix in this recipe and simply used flour and rising agents. Today I realized that, while in the past I'd used pork sausage, I was using a lean meat and needed the added fat that the biscuit mix has. I added in a little oil.
Noted in the baking cupboard that I had most of a bottle of vegetable oil. I normally use coconut or olive oils but I discovered yesterday that I am on my last bottle of olive oil and it is very nearly emtpy. I remember looking for another bottle two Aldi trips ago and seeing only the 1 gallon tin cans. Should have bought one of those. The vegetable oil will be useful until the next grocery day.
Made first goal on Swagbucks. Received notification of pending credit for one of the shop and earns I made earlier this week.
Read on Pinterest last night of a woman who said she built her wealth (not sure what her wealth is, as it was just the one article and dealt with her frugal ways) by checking her money every single morning. I do not think I want to be that obsessed with my finances, since this has been an area of anxiety for me in the past, BUT it did make me think of the fact that one of the single best ways to curb impulse spending for me is to look over our check register balance before I leave home when I plan to go shopping. So this morning when I was planning my day, I looked hard at the register balance, looked hard at the items I'd meant to buy at CVS and decided the best possible plan of action was just to stay at home and forgo sales. There was nothing I had to have right away and while I could have made money to spend later it was really not necessary just now when finances are a little tight. The biggest test of all: did I want to spend my allowance on any of it? Well... no. So that settled that!
Took off trash and picked up mail. One of my Christmas gifts arrived and I'm happy to be able to keep it a surprise.
Went out to the shed and brought out all the Christmas stuff. I had an idea I'd sort of do what I did last year with a few added pieces I'd picked up earlier this year at thrift stores. Well guess what? I keep getting this vision of how my house shall look this year and it looks NOTHING like it did last year. And yes, it's still pretty much a 'Use what you have' sort of plan.
I had a new vision for the Thanksgiving Meal table, too. This is what I ended up with:
The brown 'runner' is just a scrap piece of fabric I had on hand that happened to be the perfect width and length for a runner. I cut the leaves from the few trees in the yard that have any sort of color at all. And while I show this view, the glass had been moved to the proper side of the plate. The only new items on the table are the Amber Brockaway salad plates and glasses, which cost me about $12.
I refashioned a wreath for the back porch. It has nothing at all to do with what I mean to do inside the house but the colors look nice with the items/colors that are used on the back porch. Here's where my habit of picking up pretty rolls of ribbon just because I like them paid off. I had an unusual color in the drawer and it was just what was needed for that wreath.
Hand washed several baggies.
My lunch today was leftovers from yesterday's meal.
My supper: salmon patty and rutabaga. I got my carbs in the form of one of those party cups of ice cream. I had two salmon patties left (the can made three total) and I put those in the fridge to save for Monday.
Mindful of my need to rest today, I kept my to do list short and sweet. I told John when I got to the end of that list I stopped working and the only other item I attended to was to run a full load of dishes this evening so that I can simply load up dishes for the next day or so.
Tomorrow I will make our Thanksgiving meal and prep foods for Sunday (make tuna salad for sandwiches, thaw a roast, chop vegetables and put in fridge. I have tin pans ready for leftovers that will be frozen tomorrow and other than those tasks and loading dirty dishes, I consider my week done.
I'm ending this post a day earlier this week but wishing you all a Happy Holiday weekend.