Friday, August 19, 2016
Frugal Friday: More for the Money
Saturday: Cashed in Pinecone Research points. I opt for a PayPal payment which works out very well for me. That credit allows me to transfer to savings, or use as spending on something that gives big bang for the buck.
This weekend it's Big Bang money. I opted to purchase four new to me issues of vintage women magazines. This translates to many hours of reading pleasure for me, especially as I limit myself to reading only that month when it's timely. In other words, I read September issues in the latter part of August or early September, just as I would modern day magazines. The difference is that these old issues never fail to inspire me or just allow me time to while away a few hours reading some good fiction stories. I find the recipes are far more economical and less step/ingredient heavy although they aren't always 'Dinner on the Table in 10 minutes!' sorts of things, and too the menus offered up are generally more balanced nutritionally. Yep, Big Bang.
Made dressing for dinner. I used cornbread I'd saved in the freezer, broth from the freezer. It smells awesome baking...And to think it was all leftovers!
Roasted Chicken for dinner today, Chicken Sandwiches for dinner tomorrow and perhaps a pan of Chicken Fried Rice when I boil the bones for soup and pick them over. Of course, that's today's plans. Often times I find things don't quite go the way I'd planned but I know I'll get mileage out of this one chicken and that's a fact.
Though we generally don't work on a Saturday, John has had an ongoing project with his music room. He's let go of tons of things and every time he walks into the room he has another trash can filled. Today he took all of his things from the old dresser, the one that is 45 years old and was mine as a young pre-teen. It's been a good piece of furniture, serving myself for years, being purposed in my children's rooms and these last years in John's music room as storage. Not convenient to him and eating up floor space, but storage.
I confess to a little regret when he said he was going to trash it. Although it's not the best furniture and not solid hard woods it is sturdier than anything we can buy today. I walked into the room to claim the drawer fronts for a future project and saw the desk stripped of drawers and top and suddenly realized how absolutely perfect it would be as record storage. We need to make two cuts with a saw of about two inches and there is a wide open space that will hold our albums. In the upper two slots I can slip baskets, which can hold CDs. I told him to move the dresser to my room and he did so, a bit relieved not to have to break it down further and carry it all outdoors to the junk pile.
Because I can use that piece, I'll be able to move the dresser that's in the living room into the guest room. Of course, everything is going to be painted and prettied up, but essentially for the cost of paint and maybe new hardware we'll have two 'new' pieces of furniture which effectively remove those two pieces from my wish list. I'm pleased about that because removing two items means I'm that much nearer another one or two of the items on my wish list!
Washed a full load of dishes. I allowed to air dry.
Sunday: Made a 'lasting' breakfast of eggs, toast and fruit to see us through the morning at church.
We went into Publix after church. I needed bread (two loaves) and aspirin, bananas, chives (oh my! only one brand available and if I didn't need them for a recipe this week I'd have waited) and Crisco. I seldom use shortening but when I do I just prefer Crisco. We didn't put impulse items in the cart. Still I was shocked at the total. Oh well.
We picked up a Sunday paper. Nice batch of coupons in that.
John stopped for coffee at the convenience store. I asked him to check to see if they offered unsweet tea at the fountain drink counter. Yep! It was so good and refreshing! Thank you to whichever of you girls made that suggestion.
Home for a dinner of leftovers of Chicken and Dressing. I still had leftovers enough to set aside a single serve container for my solo meal later this week.
I put the chicken carcass, and the last of the gravy on to boil. I picked over the bones and gathered enough meat to make John a chicken sandwich and still have 1 1/2 cups to make another dish. I did not pour up the broth today. I know I want to make some soup and I need to check on how many pupsicles I have left for Maddie. She really enjoys those.
Won two of the magazines I bid on yesterday. Both from the same seller who gave me a lower shipping rate to combine them.
John washed two loads of clothes. One was a small load I'd meant to add to the sheets tomorrow. I'll wait until Tuesday now and add in whatever clothes we have that day. He hung the majority of both loads to dry on the line.
I bought a small bunch of carnations today. Not big enough for a vase, too much for a bud vase. I split them among antique soda pop bottles and placed them in a row on the mantel.
Monday: Made good on my promise to take morning coffee on the back porch and to putter about with very light yardwork. I successfully killed that lavender plant I bought. I planted in a pot of Miracle grow soil and apparently it wants to be in poor soil and be mulched with rocks too...sigh. That was $15 down the drain and a learning lesson. I won't give up, but will try to find a more appropriate place to plant the next one. There are lots of spots with poor soil in the yard!
I deeply enjoyed time on the porches. I took my journal and first coffee to the back porch. Even with sun on my shoulders it was quite pleasant save the vicious little ants nipping my legs and toes. I shall spray back there later today to try and rid the spot of them. On the front porch I noted the sun has shifted and there is now full sun on the backs of the chairs. Time to get a curtain rod up so I can hang those pretty tablecloths to shield that area a bit for more pleasant seating.
I took down the petunias, pinched them back hard and set them to soak in water buckets. I hate to pinch back petunias but it's very necessary. Some little pest had nearly eaten every leaf off the one basket anyway, making it less difficult to pinch them back. I know that in a few weeks they will be pretty once more and should last well unto frost and possibly a bit beyond.
I fed Maddie and Misu the chicken skin and gristle from the boiled chicken bones yesterday. I decreased their food slightly to offset the extra.
I cleaned our bath well. I'm working in the bed and bath this week to start deep cleaning. I don't feel I need to do it all at once. Today I wiped down the walls about the toilet and cleaned the floor about it very well. I also went along the edge of the floor on the longest bit of wall and cleaned the tiny strip that seems to gather dust despite regular cleaning. I cleaned the trash can, too. I used the vinegar and Dawn spray for it all. I'll do a bit more tomorrow. I'd already cleaned and sorted out the cabinets last month so the fall cleaning of the bathroom itself should be done in the next day or two.
In the bedroom, I emptied my bedside drawer and lined it with a pretty contact paper. I'd spilled Eucalyptus oil in the drawer, just a drop, last summer when I was sick with that awful cold. My nighties are kept in that drawer and I've smelled like a dose of medicine every night since. Today I wiped out the drawer, lined it and then put a cotton ball with two drops of my favorite perfume on it in the drawer. Here's hoping I now smell lovely at night when I go to bed!
I've had that contact paper forever. I pick up pretty contact papers the same way I do pretty wrapping paper, without a plan but with the thought that I've something pretty to use if it's wanted.
John stripped the bedding and washed it this morning (I can't keep up with his need to do laundry here of late, lol, but I'm not complaining!). I decided it was as good a time as any to dust the room and clean the ceiling fan and start the deeper cleaning of that room, as well. So the bedside drawer and tables are nicely cleaned, the room dusted, fresh linens on the bed and a bit of deeper vacuuming, getting about the very edges of the room at the baseboard and going under the furnishings with the smaller hose and tools that fit those spaces best. I am done with this room except for polishing furniture which I plan to do tomorrow.
I don't know where my mind was this morning...well I do, and it wasn't on my menu! I decided to start the fall cleaning in our master suite and got very involved in it. Dinner time (which we eat midday) came and went. And where was our dinner makings? In the freezer yet. Frozen solid. I scrambled about and managed a decent enough meal in about a half hour's time. I put frozen breaded chicken patties in the oven, popped some spaghetti with a tomato sauce from the freezer into the microwave and made a salad. I had time, after making the salad to take a shower which was much needed after working myself into a lather cleaning.
I made John's work lunch. This was only slightly more involved than in the past. I cooked boxed mac and cheese from scratch. This is our compromise over the microwaveable cups. John actually gets a larger serving (about 1 cup) compared to the 1/2 cup serving. I cut his peanut butter sandwiches from three down to two. That's two meals and several small snacks (a granola bar, a 2 ounce serving of peanuts, a packet of his favorite peanut butter crackers, a piece of fruit, a yogurt and this time a slice of Pound Cake). As you can see it's a generous lunch which is eaten a bit at a time over the 24 hour period he works. I try to make sure there's enough protein mixed in with carbohydrates to keep him feeling full of energy without being heavy on his stomach. John has to have a grab and go sort of lunch packed so he can snatch up a little something if they have time between calls and not require a commitment of time to eat. Believe me when I say it's been a science of figuring out how to pack his meals and play into his current fancies, but this particular menu has been standing for about a year now. I vary the snacks and fruits but the standard is the peanut butter sandwiches, crackers, and mac and cheese. In summer months I also make sure he has a bottle of Gatorade or PowerAde packed as well.
I went out to empty the compost and carried the drawer fronts I'd salvaged out to the shed where they can await mine or Katie's or Bess's project minds. I noted as I was in the shed, looking for a vase I can't find at the moment, that it's looking well ordered, too. I have a small pile of things to be donated and a bag of trash but all in all that shed only needs a good sweeping out to make it neat as a pin. I came back across the yard and noted the sheets waving in the breeze. I could tell they were dry from the way they swung on the line. I don't think there's any lovelier sight than sheets hung in sunlight being billowed by a breeze, except the good old U.S. Flag flying about in a nice breeze. Both just seem to shout out "This is a home!"
Enhaled deeply the scent of wind and sun dried laundry. This is why some things frugal are truly the BEST things altogether. It opens the senses to so much more than a manmade artificial scent. Good clean scent, crisp cotton, warmth...It's a lovely thing.
Fall cleaning here is very nearly done. I will be down to the back porch which I hope to start on this week. What a sweet feeling it is to know I need only to air quilts and I'll have my home ready for the coming season.
Tuesday: I packed up John's lunch and made him breakfast.
Polished the bedroom furniture. These are old pieces of solid wood and they need that refreshing at least twice a year. It's a job to do my dresser since it's full of carvings and different levels of trim etc., but the reward is knowing I might prevent another crack or peeling of veneer by doing this routinely. It smells awesome in my room by the way. The oil has a lovely almond scent.
Gathered all the trash from all over the house to take out with me today.
Packed up a box of things to send to Amie. Included birthday cards for the two birthdays this month.
Made myself breakfast.
Ran a full load of dishes this morning after John left home. I used the shortest cycle and will allow to air dry.
I watered back porch plants with saved water and then refreshed what was in the jugs. This is my water storage for emergencies and I work my way through the jugs over a month's time so there is always fresh water to be had should we need it.
Potted two plants up together to create a pretty green plant for indoors. I potted Marantha and Ivy together. Both are smaller and look scraggly on their own but together they look very nice...I want to focus on getting more green plants to have indoors over winter. They add much needed moisture and LIFE to a room.
I literally spent an hour this morning trying to get my check book to come near balancing. No it wasn't an error on my part, it was a silly calculator that sometimes added and sometimes subtracted regardless of which button was hit. I finally did it the old fashioned way with pen and paper. Maybe I should have paid more than $1 for my calculator...
I gathered up all I needed to go out with me this morning...then I waited. I have an ironclad rule: I NEVER mail out anything until money is in the bank. In this case I literally couldn't write the checks until I had figures because it was for tithes! I am at the mercy of John's job on this and have no complaints, though I do prefer to shop early in the day, I am well aware that towns generally don't close up until evening...and if I miss it they open again in the morning! So yes, I had all at the ready to go out the door: checks, mail, address, package, garbage, cold bag, water.
I ran a multiple of errands. I missed the window of getting into the post office before their hour lunch closing but I figured I'd get that on the way back. I made a return, did the banking, picked up a prescription, picked up mail, dropped off trash, and went into two stores to pick up necessary/needed items.
I caught an error on my receipt right away at the first store. The clerk was less than gracious about what was her mistake but it was corrected.
Went into Kroger. Picked up both of my Free Friday Download items. I'd scanned the store ad before leaving home and knew the only item I really wanted was the boneless skinless chicken breasts for $1.99/pound. I'd meant to go to Macon to The Fresh Market for breasts today but saving $1 a pound was the better choice. I only picked up those items and nothing more. Total spent was $7.28.
I accomplished more by going to Warner Robins than I'd have been able to do in Macon. Every place I needed to visit was all on the same road. I went up one side and came back down the other and saved a load of time.
Came back to mail off my package and the address was gone! Phooey. Came home and found it on the floor by the door where it slipped off as I left.
Had a packet of crackers in my purse and let that suffice for lunch along with a couple of squares of chocolate and the cold water I'd brought with me. I had a proper meal at supper time.
While I was out today I priced edging stones for flower beds. I decided that retaining wall blocks at less than half the price were the better buy and would look as well or better than the stones.
I contemplated going into the store to pick up the prescription but in the end went to the drive thru window. Not walking past a world of tempting items is worth sitting in the car!
I bought four pots of asters today while I was at the DIY store garden center. I'd promised myself asters this year and now I've got 'em. I'm going to add them to my rose bed, which looks neat and pretty but has no blooms currently. I'll keep my eye out for seeds for next year. Started! cosmos, phlox and morning glory seeds on my desk right now.
Wednesday: No eggs, and it's John's morning in from work. No big breakfast? Not at all. I just changed up what we'd have. I made a lovely double batch of peach pancakes (the only ones I've made this season) and sausage patties.
John washed a full load of clothes. He hung most to dry.
I asked John to repair a chain on a planter basket for me. I bought these two baskets years ago with broken chains and mended them. This year, I replaced the old chains with new ones. I bought these metal baskets for $2 each on clearance years ago and they've given a lot of value for their price.
I had a dinner plan...and again got caught up in something else that distracted me from meal plans. I came up with an alternative plan and went to the pantry to fetch a couple of items. There I found myself faced with a can of red beans. It was a little dreary today and the idea of Red Beans and Rice seemed awfully good. So that's what we had. It was a wonderful meal. I added almost as much each of celery, peppers and onions as I had of beans. I used a beef smoked sausage that we get from Aldi as additional flavoring. These are meant to be shelf stable sausages. It added a nice meatiness without being a meat filled entrée. I put leftovers into the freezer for another serving, a single meal, to be eaten at another time.
Made Chicken soup for supper from the broth (I used some in the rice and some in the beans) I'd cooked up the other night and that leftover chicken. I made a cream of chicken soup. I didn't try to fill it up with lots of vegetables just a little carrot, onion and celery for flavor and a handful of noodles to satisfy John's desire for a heavier soup. He really enjoyed this meal!
I spent some time next to the window where there was more light on this cloudy day, hemming a pair of new pants. I discovered I needed to hem them more than I'd done but I'll work on them again another quiet afternoon.
Took time to clip coupons and organize them all. I don't use a lot of coupons, but I do clip them and often will use more than enough to cover the cost of the Sunday paper each week. I need only use two or three to do that! Why do I cut them all out when I won't use them all? I give some to my girls, especially on products I know they use at times. I organize the rest so that if I see a great sale on an item I can pair it with a coupon. This is how I stock my pantry shelves at times, with items I've bought on sale and then had coupons to further coup a savings. Sometimes I get an item for free or for pennies when a store coupon can also be provided with a manufacturer's coupon. When I can do this, then I've not just saved money, I've saved the labor it takes to MAKE that item from scratch as well as John's labor in working to EARN the money to purchase it. I'd heaps rather he worked for 5 minutes to pay for something than to know what I've just purchased cost him an hour of his labor!
Yes, I do toss a lot of coupons away unused every month but I'd lots rather have the possibility of that extra savings than to know it existed and I missed it. I try to match coupons to sales. Sometimes they are just barely sales. Sometimes the savings is greater if I make it myself. Sometimes, I use a coupon when an item isn't on sale but I need it (think vitamins and over the counter items for colds and such) and that bit of savings is a help. I'm not a coupon queen by any means but I've had my highlight moments.
This is also why I mean to get a file of bloggers who specialize in savings at certain stores, like coupon mom.
I put 2 one and a half pint containers of leftover soup in the freezer. That little chicken gave it's all!
Thursday: There's nothing quite so soothing as to wake in the middle of the night and hear rain pounding the roof...I drifted right back to sleep.
Happily all the rain means the plants are well watered once more.
We were most surely at end of pay period status in our kitchen. Plenty of foodstuffs mind you but out of eggs, low on bread, very low on milk, and watching fruit supply dwindle to one over ripe banana and three wrinkly peaches. Breakfast was peanut butter toast, peach and yogurt and it suited us very well.
Picked up mail on our way out of the drive.
Stopped at dollar store to purchase a bag of dog food and I picked up three packets of half priced seeds: cosmos, phlox, and Heavenly Blue morning glory. I'll save the morning glory but could easily plant some of the cosmos and phlox now. Both will do well until hard frost.
To the post office to mail off a package for Amie and pick up stamps. I always ask for pretty stamps and I had a variety to choose from. It doesn't cost a bit more to put a pretty stamp on a letter or bill and it gives me a small pleasure each time I choose one of those stamps. I like matching the flower to the recipient if it's a personal note, like the tulip stamp on an envelope to Katie.
Stopped at Publix. I chose a variety of bakery breads for our use over the next two weeks. I also wanted to purchase a roast but the chuck roasts on sale were large and too pricey for my budget. I glanced about a bit and discovered for $1 less per pound I could have a 2 pound shoulder roast. I read the package cooking instructions and lo and behold it required a long slow simmer after browning. Oddly enough just what a chuck roast requires. We got the limit on John's favorite bottled soda that was on sale.
At Aldi we did our usual shopping, but came up a good bit less than usual. No clue why really except I didn't stock up hard on things.
Then we headed to Kroger. Yes, I'd already been to that store this week but starting yesterday there was a turkey breast for $.99/pound and store brand chips were $.88 a bag if you purchased three. Aldi's brand was $1.49 each. I did say I'd stop being store/brand loyal on many things and would buy the least expensive option. We've had the Kroger store brand before and enjoyed them, so no sacrifice to spend less money. My total for Kroger was a mere $7 and that included a 3 pound turkey breast. Pretty darned awesome in my opinion!
I did something totally different this pay period. I vowed to stop forcing myself into a budget category and so I didn't get cash from the bank other than for allowances. I went into these five stores with an idea of what I meant to get and didn't let impulses sway me at all. I came in $50 under my usual big payday budget. I don't see that we have less food than usual, indeed we bought two large pieces of meat today and all the usual snack foods, plus an item meant for Josh when he comes in to visit and a special coffee creamer for his parents. And this amount includes the $7 spending at Kroger on Tuesday when I bought three packages of boneless skinless chicken breasts... Despite these extras we are UNDER our usual spending amount. This was an experiment this pay period and one I mean to repeat next pay period as well when we have a lower amount we can spend.
John and I were discussing making a bulk meat purchase and much as we like that good meat market with smaller storage space in our freezer we'll most certainly be spending less money and buying less in bulk until we can empty out some of the items we just don't eat as often. John mentioned he'd much rather stock up our dry pantry and I can certainly go for that idea. In the meantime, we'll purchase our meats at either The Fresh Market or really good sales at Publix or Kroger. Why not at Aldi? We will purchase a few meats there as well, but the bulk of what cuts we like aren't available at Aldi.
This is hardly my savings since it doesn't involve household goods or foods but John went into a local pawn shop today. His treasure-meter is as strong as mine in it's way. He found a snare drum for the grandchildren to pound on for a mere $25. That's now three drums, a piano, guitar, kazoos, a recorder for them to use when they visit. John had a great time playing a kazoo and beating on that drum and when he was all done said "That's something the kids will enjoy!" Uhm hmmm and something I think their Grandpa is enjoying, too.
Gave myself a nice fresh pedicure last night. We all know that a diy pedicure or manicure saves a small bundle of money and it certainly is a little boost to look down and see a pretty pedicure.
Friday: It took just minutes to run through the housework this morning. I'm grateful my husband took the vacuuming over and did the bulk of that. Once floors were done and trash emptied, meals were planned (on the fly I admit but it worked out) and the weekend could start a little early for us.
Sam, Bess, and Josh are coming in tonight, so I needed a meal plan for them. I put frozen chicken breasts on in the crock pot and will have BBQ Chicken sliders tonight with chips. I know they planned to eat lunch out today so a huge meal isn't required. However, to keep costs about what they'd normally be in a day's time (and mind you I haven't actually sat down and figured this out but I do have enough knowledge to know that it costs a bit more to feed five than it does two), so we had a lighter meal much as we'd normally have for supper midday.
Prepped the items for John's work lunch on Sunday. Nothing truly perishable goes into his lunch bag so it's easy enough to work a bit ahead on packing that and it saves me having to stop on my Sabbath rest to do that as an extra task.
We opted to not wash clothing as we had such a very small load. I told John I'd do it on Sunday when I'll be doing guestroom things anyway. I did wash a full load of dishes on a short cycle.
I found some really cute items on Zulily that I've had on my accessories wish list. I ordered them with my pocket cash.
That's it from here this week. What did you do to save?