Saturday, April 30, 2016
My Frugal Week: Out and About
Saturday: No prep work done yesterday for today's meal but I wasn't much worried about it. I knew I had several frozen homemade entrees in the freezer, there was produce to use up prior to leaving home. I came home from the Strawberry Festival and popped a meal in the oven, made us an appetizer plate of cheese and crackers (by the way anyone else like Stilton as much as I do?) and put on a pot of coffee. In honor of what we're terming 'the start of vacation' we had an adult beverage with our cheese and crackers. Lovely.
Yes, we went to the local Strawberry Festival. Not sure what John spent but I'd guess less than $1.50. My own stack of books was $2.20 and I donated the rest of the third dollar to the Womens Club Building Refurbishing Fund. It's a good cause since the Women's Club is in an 1830s home and a project that is near and dear to me is historical preservation. Happily will I donate to any group that is trying to maintain one of our few remaining historical homes.
We did not buy a thing to eat or drink at the festival. Yes, we could have and likely would have enjoyed it, but with food waiting at home it was unnecessary.
I spent $5 on a cute handmade cottage-y unpainted bird house. That will go on the front porch and is one of my upcoming UFO projects (the front porch).
I bought two new pillows for the living room back in late winter and like them fine but not quite...This past week when Bess was visiting she used the quilt I keep on the back of the wing back chair. Remember it's a patterned quilt I had reversed to the white backing . Well when Bess put the quilt away, she folded it pattern side out and I was smitten. The colors are not garish bright but they are bright and clear and I realized that what my living room has been missing is that additional pop of color. I left the quilt as it was and have been really liking how it looks with the small patterned pillow in front of it. Well this morning I saw an ad on Facebook for a company that sells pillow covers and one in the ad caught my eye. I went to the site and looked and found two pillow covers I loved for $7 each. I think the two covers will be just the pop of color the room needs and just enough pattern to add interest. And thankfully so very affordable.
The credit card statement came in this morning. I was bummed to see how much it was, but reviewing it online I realized that all but one purchase is already covered with money in hand and that last item is pretty close to half paid for. I am careful to pay this bill in full each and every month and never pay interest nor an annual fee. I'm afraid the company makes no money on me at all and I enjoy the convenience of a more secure way to shop.
We're planning a trip this coming week and I have been steadily setting aside grocery items to take with us. I don't mind buying groceries when we arrive. I mind buying foil and condiments and such that we have loads of at home for lots less than what we'd pay at regular grocery prices. That's the part I mind. So I pack foil and olive oil, garlic and potatoes and an onion, cereal and coffee; the sort of things we have at home and will buy to use when away from home as well. That leaves funds for easy to prepare or deli foods to offset the necessity of cooking much and eliminates buying great huge amounts of foods. Our goal is to bring home less than we leave home with, which means we don't overbuy at the grocery. I'll take along a bit of frozen foods, too: a steak from that meat market we like so well, milk, butter...
Sunday: Washed a full load of laundry this morning. I hung things to dry on the line before we left home for church.
Stopped at the bin at the church parking lot to drop in that big bag of clothes I'd culled earlier last month. The bag has been sitting in my bedroom all this time. It was an eyesore but also an effective reminder of something I needed to do.
Went into CVS today to pick up a small travel makeup bag (just to carry the basics in) and while there treated myself to a Peach Tea ($1) and the Sunday paper. I'd forgotten to take in my CVS card but fortunately the customer in front of me needed to swap something and I told the clerk I was getting my card. I'd forgotten the coupons I'd loaded on that card this past week which saved me $9. I also earned $4 in ECBs today.
We went by bank and got cash while we were within a mile of a branch of our bank.
Made dinner. I'd thawed ground beef and really did mean to make Sloppy Joes but decided to do a quick meal of spaghetti with meat sauce. It's been ages since I made spaghetti sauce quickly using canned sauce and ground meat. It was quite good and certainly was easy. It took perhaps 20 minutes start to finish. I started with very hot water in the pot for the pasta and then put a lid on it to bring it to boil still more quickly.
Froze a quart of milk, and several water bottles to go in the cold bag tomorrow. This will not only keep my foods cold but allow me to have milk when I arrive instead of having to go pick up groceries right away.
Packed our groceries in an old suitcase. It was John's suggestion because the suitcase has rollers and a handle that allows it to be pulled or pushed instead of having to be lugged. This should considerably lighten our load. It seldom fails that when we arrive all the luggage carts are missing or we've so overloaded it that we lose our stuff twice on the trip up to our condo, and we won't mention how often one of us loses our temper as well...
John scrounged about and worked up another load of clothes to wash. This allowed me to put fresh jeans in my bag. I'll wear the outfit I wore to church today on the trip down.
Joined a new survey group. I"ll see how it goes before I give a recommendation...**so far it's been mostly 'You do not qualify for this survey, try another'...So much for that attempt.
John decided to make supper. It was an interesting meal but tasty. We're finding the no bread part of the meals a bit of a challenge. I'm having to be very creative to get my carbs in, too.
Prepared the bills and set up the checks so that they could be signed and loaded into envelopes tomorrow as soon as we have check in hand. These went into my purse to be dealt with tomorrow and not forgotten.
Monday: We postponed our leavetaking so that we might pick up and deposit John's paycheck. We wanted to be able to finish that task before we left, even though we didn't need the money for the trip itself. We took along our luggage, bills and planned to leave from there which is no further from the interstate than we are at home.
Bills paid and check deposited. I opted to leave grocery money in the bank for the time being, but we did get our allowances. This pay period, I put money aside for savings and for the two medical bills we're paying in increments. John's extra hours of work were helpful in doing this.
We stopped at a grocery on the way and John picked up a snack for me (I had snacks but i'
I carried along food for our supper which we cooked in the condo. We ate on the balcony, though it was dark. Moonlight and surf are never a bad thing when combined with a long awaited meal, I find.
Tuesday: We went to the grocery this morning but not until after we'd had breakfast. I'd brought along enough foodstuffs to feed us breakfast. Had our meats thawed on the trip down, we could have had our midday meal too but it was still solidly frozen well into this morning.
Our goal on vacation is to have no food waste and so we buy very carefully with an eye to having the right amount of foods and not too much. I'll tell you how well we did at end of the week. We spent about what we'd normally spend for a week's foodstuffs. The difference is that on vacation we do not stock up. And we do splurge, but reasonably. The one item I bought that I knew we would bring home was a bogo for a cracker that John is especially fond of.
John asked what meats I'd brought along. We priced various things and in the end determined to buy chicken. I typically avoid chicken tenders and chicken fillets but enough for just the two of us is quite affordable and would make a quick meal ...So we bought those two cuts of meat.
We bought ice to pack the food into the insulated bag and then placed that in a cooler.
John took me out to eat at a restaurant we found about four years ago. On vacations we try to balance things out. We do cook most of our meals in the condo kitchen. We picnic. And we eat out occasionally. We enjoy our splurges because we don't splurge often.
We spent the rest of the day at the condo.
Wednesday: I packed a picnic lunch and we went uptown to one of the missions to picnic on the grounds. For entertainment we walked down to the antique district where John sat on a bench outdoors and chatted with other men whose wives wanted to walk about the shops, lol. He was quite pleased with his 'relaxed' afternoon and I was happy. I went in with the idea I was looking for something specifically for the living room wall. I did not find what I wanted but I was happy looking about at the lovely things.
We had another lovely supper on the balcony of our condo.
This is the balance to yesterday's splurge at the restaurant. Our total expense for the day was $0.
Thursday: We love to go into Old Town. The most fun way to do this is to take one of the trolley cars with a driver who tells historical data. These tours change up from time to time. However, the one we've always used only sells passes good for 3 days and it's pricey. Last time we did this we gave tickets to someone standing outside the ticket booth. They got two free days usage and it was fun to bless them but it wasn't something we felt we could do this time. Another service offered senior discounts (we both qualify) and a 1 day pass. One of us would pay half price on the senior discount. Sold! You can get on and off trolleys all day long and walk about downtown as much as you'd like. We did a full tour then rode the trolley back into Old Town where we got off and walked about. We boarded the last trolley to pick up for the afternoon and went back to our car which we were able to park for free at the trolley station. This too was a savings of nearly $10 to park our car anywhere else.
We had a meal out but opted for a low priced place that served al fresco meals. We sat in the shade near the opening on the bay side of the restaurant so we got a full sea breeze throughout the meal.
Back to condo for supper that I cooked, served on balcony overlooking beach.
Contributed the hateful, irritating book I'd brought along to the communal bookshelf in the condo. Perhaps someone else will enjoy it. It won't take up room on my shelf here at home.
John went to the laundry area to do a load of laundry while I stayed in the room and packed our bags. I also made a lunch to eat on the way home.
Friday: I was especially proud this trip. My sole throw away food item was a 1/4 cup portion of uncooked yellow squash which I'd thought I'd put in a salad and John discouraged (he isn't crazy about squash. It really was bought for myself only). I used leftovers to make breakfast this morning of breakfast burritos with fresh fruit.
Packed up the cold items in two bags, one to go home and one to be our snacks/lunch on the way home.
We tried a new route on our way home and cut almost an hour and a half off the overall travel time.
We stopped for restroom break and ate our lunch in the parking lot of the stop.
Arrived home and discovered our son was here, not going home as we'd expected. I pulled a whole frozen chicken, and two entrees from the freezer to cover meals this weekend. Dinner was scant, as really the pot pie I'd cooked was meant for two and not three. I had a can of biscuits in the fridge, which I'd intended for breakfast and made a big salad and that sufficed. My son offered twice to go pick up food but there's little need when I have things on hand, even if I haven't been home all week.
Family discussion ensued and we agreed upon a nominal fee for bed and board over the next month or so. My children have always paid 'rent' for staying here since they've been grown. I never charge more than their being here will offset us, but it's enough to keep our budget running smoothly and their pride of 'paying their own way' intact, both of which are important to help cut down on resentments and frustrations.
Saturday: Used what was on hand to make meals. I'll grocery shop for a few things tomorrow, just enough to get us through this pay period. In the meantime, we've not gone hungry today. Proof that indeed one might manage even without fresh produce on hand. Our salad today consisted of raw onion rings, sliced black olives and the segments from the last orange on hand. For breakfast we had peanut butter toast with apple slices. Snack this afternoon was celery sticks from our trip with peanut butter.
Noted this morning that I've a lovely larkspur growing from under the back porch. I'm going to do my best to remove it and the joining plants and put in a pot. It's a lovely deep red...I always repot any volunteer plants that come up.
The temperature really heated up the house indoors yesterday despite air conditioner running. Today I made sure to pull shades on the sunny sides of the house and keep fans running to circulate air. I think it's staying a little cooler today indoors. I have, usually, had to call and have a Freon boost each spring and I set money aside for it but if we can keep the house temperature pleasant enough I'll skip that call.
And here I shall end this week of savings. It was a lovely week. We've discussed what we spent and how and we're agreed that we've no regrets about our splurges and none about our savings over the past week, which means we struck a good balance, I think. There's the part of living well and meaning to do so.