Saturday, April 2, 2016
Assigning Value to What I Do: Lovely Lovely Days
Mar 26: Rinsed out bread sacks to reuse for storing meat in the freezer. Tomorrow I will hang them in the laundry area to dry out thoroughly. I usually fold them flat and store in a lidded box so they can easily be retrieved and stay neat as well.
Meal prep today took all of 10 minutes and that included making a salad and pudding as well as mixing cornbread and starting rice. I had already combined the wet ingredients and stashed them in the fridge, had the cornmeal and rice sitting on the counter, had washed salad greens. Amazing how much time these small steps saved today.
I mixed up the pudding and divided into four servings right away: two sherbet cups for today, two lidded 1/2 cup containers for later in the week. I made lemon pudding and grated the zest of a lemon into the pudding mixture, which pushed the flavor up just a tiny bit without giving it that sharp lemon taste I love and John detests.
Stretched a meal really though the intent wasn't stretching but decreasing the spiciness. I served Brunswick Stew over brown rice portions. I put two containers of rice into the freezer, 1 1cup portion and 1 1/2cup portion. I also put almost a pint of leftover stew into the freezer. That will be my meal one day when John isn't at home.
Immediately bagged up and put the leftover cornbread into the freezer. It's prefect for making crock pot stuffing a little later down the road.
Today's snack: stove top popped corn.
It was cool outdoors and so when the AC kicked on we decided to push it up another degree. It hasn't come back on since then.
Used water left in a bottle to water three plants.
Mar. 27: We had our traditional holiday breakfast of canned sweet rolls and little sausages. I had the sausages in the freezer, bought on sale back when they were 3/$10 which saved about $2 over the non-sale price.
We did not travel to church this morning since we knew that record crowds were expected. We listened to the sermon via live stream, saving the gasoline we'd have used to make that trip, not to mention soda and a Sunday paper...savings of $10
We had dinner at home eating from the freezer. Both entree and fruit salad came out of the freezer.
After dinner I washed a full load of dishes. I checked to be sure the heat dry was OFF and air dried the load when it was done.
I worked on the bill box and balanced the check book. I decided, while writing out bills, to continue to set aside the money I'd formerly put aside for the loan. For whatever length of time we are not making payments that money can be set aside and go into savings (savings $100/month). If we find we need to renew the loan we won't have to strain to make room for the payment each month, as we'll be accustomed to setting it aside.
Decided today was the day to cull those books. I culled hard and really seriously considered how long I'd been meaning to read some of those books. It was not as difficult as I'd thought. I think I pulled somewhere close to three dozen off my shelves. And no it didn't leave me room for new books. It just left me with full bookshelves instead of shelves double loaded with books. They will be donated to the local Women's Club who put on an annual book sale here in town each year.
Cleared my dresser drawers and closet and tried on every.single.thing. I have a bag of clothes to donate, a drawer in my dresser for out of season clothes that fit and clothes that will fit very nicely in 5-10 pounds. I organized my clothing by colors and put back into the closet. I culled purses and checked shoe boxes (nothing there to donate) and scarves (let go of 1 that just didn't suit me). Now I can better tell what I can mix and match and what I might need if I come across a good buy on something. I'll b better able to put together outfits for Spring.
It was a quiet day at home overall. John stumbled upon a movie called "Job" and another after called "Ruth" and then "God's Compass", all good films well worth watching. The first two were a modern retelling of the Bible books by the same name. They were well done.
Mar. 28: I am very low on bread and really wanted to avoid the store, since we've not been in the grocery in two full weeks (Woot Woot!! That represents a savings of nearly $40). I looked at the options on hand and decided we might as well use the extra bagels we had on hand for breakfast bread.
Last night I set out to thaw: a beef roast, a pound of chicken wings (was meant to be breasts but I found the wings and made different menu for that day). I took a gallon of milk from the back freezer this morning.
I didn't have time to do the prolonged cooking the chicken wings required. I dug in the freezer and pulled out the other half of the Corn Moussaka I made last week and put that in the oven to heat while I continued working.
Washed the kitchen and laundry area curtains. I hung them on the line to dry.
After dinner, John and I drove down to his work place to pick up his check. We took off trash, took books to the library (drop off point for Women's Club books), picked up his check, did our banking, dropped off bills at the post office, picked up parts at the auto parts store in town, and on our way back in, picked up the mail.
On the way home, John asked if I'd made plans for supper. I had...but asked if he had any ideas, because generally when he asks, he does. His idea was "A Big T-Bone and Baked Potato!" That's a far cry from a skimpy little chicken sandwich! He thought we'd go by the local grocery but I suggested a compromise. I knew I had a nice New York Strip in the freezer from our trip to the meat market. I didn't have baking potatoes but I did have some nice multi-colored potatoes (red/white/yellow/ purple) to pan fry. Could I thaw a steak in less than two hours? I have a trick for quick thawing. I put the frozen item on a cast iron pan and set it on the stove burner. I have a gas stove and the pilot lights emit a very low warmth. The temperature of the pan picks up that little bit of heat and the meat quick thaws. Yes, I had my steak practically thawed in two hours and ready to cook. The savings today? The cost of a steak and two potatoes, $20.
There was another savings today. I had planned to iron the kitchen curtains. I'd hung them on the line and the wind snapped and popped them until they were as fresh and crisp as newly starched curtains might have been. There were no wrinkles and no need to iron. I liked that savings most of all.
Once curtains were up again, I totted up the checkbook. John's extra half shifts have helped tremendously and it was easy to set aside the money I'd hoped to for savings. It was also helpful when I received a bill from the hospital stay last year. I was able to make a decent sized payment on that bill.
Last fall when the snapdragons were blooming, I made a point to let some of the flower heads go to seed and shook them out on the soil. Payoff this spring in a bumper crop of healthy plants. If the first one blooming is any indication, they shall be super lovely this year.
Mar. 29: For the first time in ages upon, I stuck hard to my planned grocery budget and even brought home a few dollars. I was so happy! I'll stick that back in a hidden spot to use one of those weeks when we don't have quite enough. I think I got all the milk, bread, produce I shall need for the coming two week period.
Oh and that grocery budget covered a sandwich each for our lunch today. Since I had my episode of low blood sugar the other week John insists I eat within the proper time range.
I'd planned to purchase a Horseradish cheddar for sandwiches later this week and thought I'd buy it at the deli at the big grocer. I looked over the dairy case hard at Aldi and found a small block of the cheese for less than $2, savings $4.
Aldi also had brown bags of bulbs. I got one of Dahlias to put in pots here in the yard and the other has bleeding heart, lily of the valley and Astibille. I hope these last three will have enough to share with Katie as well but if not they should multiply and then I can share them.
John mowed our lawn today. A yard in town costs $40 per mowing. We keep about 2 acres mowed and must mow along the main driveway as well since our property fronts the road. John saves us TONS of money each year because he does this job himself. He long ago paid for his big riding mower with what he saved over the years. This mower has been long lasting but his dream mower is a zero turn one. I've made up my mind that next mower, he shall have what he wants.
I made coffee at home for us, instead of us stopping to purchase a cup. When John asked if I wanted a drink to go with my sandwich, I declined. I had a bottle of cool water in the car and I knew I'd left it sitting in the shade.
Mar. 30: I slept in a little longer than usual this morning and failed to get my feet under me until well into the morning. I realized that work was going to lag today and I might as well just marshall my thoughts and ideas of what I'd get done. A trip to the porch proved it was too windy to spray paint today so I decided to skip that today.
It was so late when I finally determined I must do something that I decided kitchen work was the best use of my time. I made dinner for us: Teriyaki Chicken Wings, Green Salad with Pineapple and Cottage Cheese on top, and Lima Beans. That meal was a substitute for the Hawaiian chicken kebabs I'd meant to make after I found no bell peppers at Aldi this week. Helped by the fact that I'd thawed chicken wings and not breasts!
I put a beef roast in the oven while the chicken wings cooked. I'll slice it thin for sandwich meat. One of my planned meals this week will do for home or picnic and will use the roast.
I made a quick cheese sauce and cooked whole wheat pasta and made up two pans of Macaroni and Cheese. One went into the freezer for a future meal. The other into the fridge. We'll have it for dinner in the next day or two.
I saved the sauce that was in the pan with the chicken. It had cooked with the chicken and was thick and nice. A shame to toss it I thought, so I bottled it up and put in the freezer. It will be sauce for chicken another time in the future, or be used in a stir fry or fried rice recipe as added flavor.
I put all my leftovers into a basket in the fridge so I'll know we must use them up within the week. As I dug in the fridge looking at the various containers, I came across one of those "Help I've fallen behind other things and you haven't seen me" items. There was a full bag of lovely green jalapenos. One pepper had a tiny spot on it where it was starting to go bad but the rest were still fresh and green. I seeded those and put them in the freezer for future use. We don't use a lot of jalapenos but I like them in pico de gallo or homemade salsa and now and then in a dish that might be bland otherwise. Keeping them in the freezer means I always have some on hand. Savings $2.49.
John got a rather cool item from a ministry that is metalwork. It's a cross over a Star of David and it really is a beautiful item. I loved it but when he proposed hanging it on the wall I was stumped. This afternoon I was standing in the doorway of his music room and saw a picture I'd bought for him ages ago at the thrift store: David sitting on a hilltop playing his harp to the sheep in the meadow. I love that piece and it just happens to be full of the same blues and greens and grays that we currently are using in the living room anyway. I asked if I could borrow that picture to hang here in the living room. We hung the Star of David/Cross directly above it. I think it's lovely together.
We changed out the ink cartridges on the printer. It's been telling us for months that it was low but today it just wouldn't print any longer. As it happened, I bought new cartridges last month but we've gone four months since the first warning message...Not sorry I waited, just amazed at how much longer we went until change was absolutely necessary.
Tomorrow will be my last day doing the monetary values on things I do for a little while. Of course, I'll still be doing my frugal posts and doing the savings that generates those posts but I find that doing these monetary value posts can really bog the mind down.
It's easy to get so focused on whether something has a big value that we might be tempted to forgo the little things that save mere pennies, as well as the things that we do because they give us pleasure. I don't ever want to apologize for spending my funds on something that I truly enjoy nor should you. I want to keep things in perspective. By the same token, I'm glad I've done this over the past three months because it's easy to forget that we really are saving money as we tend to our home tasks, the things that we do every day and repeat over and over again, and that we are good stewards of the blessings that come our way.
Mar. 31: Today I used three items from the leftovers basket. I am especially proud that this month I have tossed only a few mushrooms and that small bit of cabbage/carrots left from the corned beef dinner. I simply lost them in the fridge and it was too late to salvage. Still, we're talking perhaps 1 cup of food tossed this month and that is a record low for me. Both breakfast and supper used leftovers.
John and I planned a day away from home. Did we pack a picnic? Nope, but I did grab my coupons which netted us a dinner for two for $9 which he paid for out of his pocket money. The sandwiches I made up from the roast beef were put in the freezer for another time. My little roast was sliced super thin by hand, and made into sandwiches last night, which we had for supper and then I made up six more sandwiches.
We spent the morning rambling through a huge Antiques Mall that is no more than 20 minutes from home. It was fun to walk about and look and look. I wasn't tempted by much because the prices there are a little steeper and I tried to be very specific in what I was looking for: something to complete the living room wall, something for the front porch decor. I found nothing for either one. I did buy a book, a vintage scarf, and a pretty blue pottery planter. I will see about getting some ivy or other greenery to go into that later. I came away having spent just $14.98 and that was from my pocket money. Oddly, John spent the exact same amount from his pocket money.
From there we drove to the big city so that John could get guitar strings. Again, he paid for those out of his pocket money. I asked to stop in at the big Ross for Less. I found a black maxi skirt and a pretty green shirt. I had torn a page from a catalog and planned to order a black maxi. Their price was $39.99...savings $20. I paid just $10.99 for the one purchased today. I looked hard for pants but the skirt was as near as I could come to black pants and I think I'll get as much use from it. It will be nice for summer wear I think. Of course, I paid for my pieces out of my pocket. I found a set of sheets, too, 100% cotton this time, cotton percale which is what I prefer. I typically pay $35 a set at Ross for Less. I saved $22. I purchased those with money from the house fund.
John stopped at a gas station on our way home to buy cups of coffee. This was very good coffee, a Peruvian roast and rivaled the coffee at any of the Name coffee shops.
It rained on us on the way home. I set the potted petunias under the runoff from the roof to get watered when we came in.
You know the routine...we combined as many errands as we could when we left home. Stopped and picked up mail, took off trash, went by the post office (bought stamps, mailed a letter) before actually heading off to our fun day.
for last days of March, savings total: $220.49
For March as a whole: $3,333.46
For 1st quarter of this year: $12,235.47
Well there you have it. Admittedly this is not a completely accurate figure. I don't know how to figure interest saved in paying off the loan early, nor did I count the penny savings things (washing baggies, combining errands, using the oven to cook more than one item, adding humidity to the air to make it feel warmer than it was, saving bread sacks to package up meats, etc.). I didn't count savings in doing my own pedicure the other day, nor the savings in moving plants I already have rather than simply buying new ones. But there is no doubt that a dedicated homemaker can create a substantial financial contribution to the household just in doing the every day tasks.
April 1: I touched up some frames and replaced the backing on another item. These will be hung in our entryway. It was done at no cost to me, using what I had on hand.
I needed bread crumbs. I had some bread slices I'd dried. Easy enough to make crumbs by crushing those.
Used up the last of a can of pineapple chunks and made a Pineapple Upside Down Cake. I used the pineapple juice for most of the milk called for in the recipe. No maraschino cherries on hand, so I used pecan halves. The cake turned out very pretty.
I noted the bananas had ripened rapidly despite being put in a zippered plastic bag. I went ahead and used the pineapple cake bowl to make banana bread. I put the bread in the oven with the cake. The banana bread went into the freezer for a future date.
When making meatloaf for tomorrow's dinner, I found that an onion had spoiled and several others were starting to spoil. I chopped those and put them in the freezer. I double bagged them to keep them from smelling in the freezer.
Planned my month by setting up my calendar, setting goals and putting the new quarterly budget sheet in my budget section.
Warmed leftover broccoli to go with our dinner. I reheated some butter beans as well. That cleared the fridge of all leftovers from this week.