Thrifty Thursday

One of my favorite activities when we go to St. Augustine.  Ride down old A1A along to Ormond by the Sea and view the incredible ocean views.  Cost for gasoline under $5.  

I'm afraid this week's post is a bit short...Vacation last week and not much time at home this week.  That is due to change, however.  I'll be back on my savings trend.


Friday:  Last day of vacation.  I did nothing today except prepare a simple meal for our lunch and that was leftovers from yesterday.  We spent the entire day enjoying our last day of vacation.

Boiled eggs earlier in the day and made egg salad for John's work lunches.  I added the water I used to boil the egg to my saved water and poured over the rose bushes I need to plant.

Saturday:  I had some leftover rolls from Thursday and Friday meals.  I thawed a 1/2 pound of that good meat market ground beef and made little slider burgers from the rolls. I managed six little burgers, enough for me and enough for a work lunch for John. 

Sunday:  Spent the day sorting and decluttering.  It started with a messy drawer where I keep my costume jewelry.  I had really let it get out of hand.   I removed all jewelry and then put back neatly.  And yes, I do have quite a bit mostly good quality pieces bought on sale.  However, costume jewelry is costume jewelry.  A few pieces just looked dated, and a few pieces needed repair. 

I set aside a few pieces to spray paint...I'm going to buy that beautiful metallic paint and try repainting a few pieces.  I'll let you know how well that works.

One of the necklaces looked just fine except for six beads which had been painted to coordinate with the necklace. The paint had flaked and that made the necklace look rather tatty.  I found that lightly rubbing the beads with the finest side of an emery board removed the last bits of paint leaving the clear beads looking like new.  And the necklace, too.  I was happy to add that piece back to my drawer.

I had a mess of knotted and tangled tiny gold chains and pendants.  I kid you not when I say I worked away slowly at that bunch of necklaces until every one of them was free.  It took several sessions of concentrated work.  Once untangled, I made sure each chain was closed, then slid the necklaces onto a safety pin, running the pin through the catch.  This allowed the necklaces to hang nicely, preventing further tangles.

That job spawned other jobs about the house.  One of the other jobs was to sort out all the mismatched silverware.  Years upon years ago I bought Community Plate Stainless.  Now I have six place settings out of the twelve and extra pieces.  I decided that I'll try to sell the extra pieces.  I sorted out the really inexpensive pieces of flatware and set up a tumbler of 'tasters' near the stove (extra teaspoons to be used to check seasoning when I'm cooking).

I worked so long that it was nearly 2pm when I stopped for lunch.  And of course, I hadn't thawed anything out.  Fortunately  I had a single serving entree and side dish in the freezer.  I cooked in the microwave and had lunch in 2 minutes flat.

I'd meant to go to the grocery today but kept postponing.  I decided I'd wait and go on Monday.  Then Mama called and said she needed to stop at the grocery on Tuesday so I decided I could wait until Tuesday, too.

Made a cake this afternoon for snacking.  The recipe is from one of my 1940 magazines.  And quite good.  Traditionally this particular cake was served unfrosted, making it just right for easy snacks.

The cat hadn't been eating the last few days.  I was pretty sure I knew what was wrong with her. She is shedding like crazy and I felt a hairball was the problem.  I've been brushing her daily but she still is putting off a lot of fur.  I fed her half a can of tuna.  She ate it right up.  I think the wetness of the tuna was easier to handle than the dry food she normally eats.

Monday:  Saved the coffee grounds to put around the potted hydrangea.  It's not done well in the past but the leaves are getting big and glossy and the plant is definitely growing with these nutrients from the coffee grounds.  I will save coffee grounds and egg shells to add to the ground around the rose bushes, too.

Set out a sirloin steak to thaw.  Half was more than enough for a meal for two.  Since the steak had not thawed completely I put the most frozen piece  back into the freezer, well wrapped for a second meal.
 
I used leftover mashed potatoes to make potato pancakes to go with my dinner.

Cleaned out my closet this morning.  Mama and I are going shopping tomorrow and I thought it would be better to do this today, so I'd know just what I might need for the season.  A few months ago I hung my clothes by color.  I could see easily exactly what colors I needed no more of...And I noted it well before closing that door.

Harvest Night in our home.  We had a five week month last month and were able to set aside extra to repay our car loan.

Noted that it was a 'short' check this time.  John opted to skip his allowance.  I won't skip mine since I plan to take Mama out to lunch tomorrow for her birthday.  We generally cut back on our activity when we have a shorter check, so we won't be eating out or taking a short road trip while John is off.

Tuesday:  Off with Mama who wanted to visit clothing stores to look for summer season pieces.  I had in mind what was in my closet when I walked in and was looking for specific pieces.  It wasn't hard to walk out empty handed.  I tend to buy myself a 'consolation' piece of costume jewelry when I can find nothing else to buy but after clearing out the jewelry drawer on Sunday helped quell that desire too.

Mama decided not to go to the grocery after all.  I didn't go either.  I know John and I will shop for groceries tomorrow and while there are things I thought were good buys there were no items on my list that I simply felt I had to have.

Came home with my purse lighter only by lunch money.  I stopped at bank while out with Mama and picked up my grocery cash.

Brought home some fabric from Mama's I meant to use to make a dust ruffle but it wasn't a good match for my quilt.  I'll use it instead to make a summer housecoat.  Mama also had a couple of patterns set aside for me that she thought I might like.  One will be perfect for cotton nightgowns.  The other will make cute house dresses for those super hot days.

Mama also sent home a stack of magazines and coupon flyers from her daily papers.

Wednesday:  Two weeks ago before we left to go on vacation I didn't buy any groceries except milk and bread and eggs.  I knew this week we'd spend more but I was determined to do at least as well as last month.  I raised my spending this pay period to the old rate but will lower it next pay period.  We did very well today too.  I got all I need for two weeks and no extra runs to the grocery store for produce, milk, or bread.  I bought extras of them all so we'd skip that mid pay period shop.

I've been making turkey sausage from scratch but I have to confess...Not such a fan of the taste of ground turkey in sausage.  It's great in dishes that mask the flavor more (tacos, spaghetti sauce, etc) but not so much in sausage.  I opted for ground chicken today which is about the same price and leaness.

When we bought meat at the market I noted that while their prices on chicken and chicken pieces were about average their product was no better than what I buy at Aldi or Publix.  Aldi had breasts on sale today, I bought them.  Too good a price to pass up.

I had enough money left of the grocery cash to purchase a splurge magazine (Country French) and a deli sub and sodas for our lunch today.  Not too bad.  I thank the good Lord for stretching our cash so far.

Picked up the free coupons at the customer service counter at Publix.  One of those coupons helped us save a bit on soda.

Used a FREE coupon from myCokerewards to get a 12pack of soda.  I usually use my coke points to get magazines (like the latest subscription for All You magazine) but now and then I find I can use points to get coupons good for a box of crackers or free sodas.

Thursday:  Breakfast sandwiches seemed the ticket this morning.  It's a good way to stretch a little bit of sausage.  I split frozen sausage links into halves (using just four links total) and added to toast with a fried egg and cheese slice.    A good balance of carb/protein for my husband who was going off to golf today.

Watered front porch plants heavily.  I haven't had a lot of spare water or dishwater either one this week so it seemed a good time to rotate my storage water bottles and freshen my supply.

We bought pet food at the grocery yesterday.  Comparison shopping proved it was as well priced as at the dollar store.  We wanted to buy a special blend to prevent hairballs for the cat.

John had a golf game this morning.  I decided it was a good time to go look for sandals.  I found two pair.  One pair I paid just $13 for, they were on the clearance rack.  I was very pleased.

I shopped carefully today.  I looked over the things I normally would but didn't pick up chotsky type items.  My 'splurges' today were two thick 8X11 spiral bound sketchbooks for $5.99, a sheer sweater for too cool AC or cooler evenings for $7, a two roll pack of lovely green and white contact paper ($5), a nice t to go with my brown slacks ($7).

It was late by the time I finished visiting all the stores I went into, almost 2:30p.  John called and had just finished up his golf game. I called ahead to Dominos and ordered pizza for $6 for our dinner and picked up as I went through town on my way home.

Before leaving home this morning I made sure to set the AC a tad higher.

The week is done.  I'm satisfied with my week of savings. 

A Little Economy, A Little Splurge

                                    This photo a good example of my splurge/thrift notions
                                      Thrift store treasures and new purchases co-mingle

A while back reading Cranford, I came across a few paragraphs in which Mary noted the strange economy of various households in Cranford.  It explained the scene in the series where Miss Mattie notes to her sister Deborah that the candle had burned down below the unlit one on the mantel.  Apparently the two sisters preferred to have their neighbors think that they burned two candles each night.  In fact they did...but only one at a time, lol.  They burned one at time and kept them as nearly even as possible by putting out the other when it was below the level of the second candle, at which point they used the flame to light the second candle, and put out the first.

Mary went on to note the little economies other neighbors made as well.  I was amused reading this account but all too aware that this is true of many households even 200 years later.  For instance in my household, I choose to wash and rinse used zippered bags.  I tend to use a tube of toothpaste and a bar of soap until there is nothing left.  Mama runs a rather liberal household budget overall but she too has her little economies that she practices.  She will not, for instance, pay anyone to cut her hair but relies upon courtesy cuts by her daughter in law.   Since Deb is not a professional hairdresser but has a talent for cutting hair (she also trims the Spitz, Alaska, each summer) this works well for Mama.

Granny and Grandmama both had a tendency to turn off the hot water heater, especially in summer and turn it on only when a bath or hot water for dishes was wanted.  Granny often skipped turning it on and just heated her water atop the stove.  And both of them saved the dishwater to pour over potted plants or down a row of the garden.

Of course, we all have our little economies, those things that go the extra mile in saving a few pennies here and there.  But odds are we all have our little splurges as well.

I thought of this yesterday when I was organizing the silverware drawer in the kitchen.  You see, I have about three different sets of silverware, none of them complete at present.  Two are rather inexpensive sets of stainless.  One is a quality stainless and those things have been in use for 30 odd years now.  And you know what?  I'll be passing them on to one of the children because they are heirloom quality stainless.  Now when I bought those place settings I purchased one every other month.  It took two months to pay for one place setting.  In two years time I finally collected 12 settings.  It was a splurge way back then, but looking back over the usage I've gotten and the fact that I shall be passing them on...Well is it really a splurge?  Or an investment? The two lesser quality sets  of stainless were gifts.

As I worked yesterday, counting spoons and forks and knives I realized that over the years I have 'lost' one full place setting and have 11 pieces of half  the items and 8 pieces of the other.  I'm trying to decide whether I shall replace the missing pieces or simply set aside the 8 place settings and purchase a new set of good quality stainless.  John would prefer a simpler pattern than the one I chose long ago...I could sell the remaining pieces as replacement pieces.  I'll have to think this one over and check the pattern line to see if anything else is suitable.  

Other areas where I make a splurge: books of course, though I do tend to buy used since I love authors who are no longer in print and flowers.  As you know, I usually purchase fresh cut flowers each grocery shop.  Here of late I've bought herbs.  The cilantro died immediately (I've heard it was fussy and but it did fare well over winter so I'll try again then), but the mint and basil are growing very well indeed.  This pay period I mean to buy six packs of perennials to plant in my pots for deck and porch.  And we can't forget my thrift store habit.  Every item on my dresser in the photo above came from a yard sale or thrift store.

Mama has various splurges that she makes: she likes to read and so has a lot of books and magazines that she buys each month.    Granny tended to buy books (she joined several book clubs) and the best perfume.  No man made scents for her.  Only real perfume would do and she happily paid more than she'd pay for electricity each month on a single bottle.

Grandmama's splurge was on really good shoes.  She bought Naturalizer and Aigner and other well known brands.  This was in part due to her narrow foot which was hard to fit and these manufacturers carried her size.  These shoes were strictly for wearing when she left home.  Around the house she tended to wear the least expensive tennis shoe.  She also purchased quality coats.  Those two items were her splurges.

Thinking it over yesterday I decided that truly the frugal life is really about balance.  We save in areas that matter little to us in order to have a bit more for the areas that give us pleasure.  What are your little economies and splurges?

Menu Day - Shaking Things Up

 

Vacation is over...Insert extremely sad face...It was grand, truly it was and I had the best time all around.  Now Shabat is over and it is the start of a new week.  I thought I'd like to tackle menu plans right away from now on.  After all this is my 'first day' and the day when I really need my plans for the week to start afresh.  

I didn't plan  meals last week, except to take some meat from the freezer at night and start thawing overnight in the fridge. I was flying by the seat of my pants.  Take out a packet of meat and have NO plan in mind?  That was tough!  Especially when my refrigerator is so low on fresh produce.  I will be happy to shop for groceries on Wednesday. In the meantime I shall do my best to use what I have.  I do hope to make it to the grocery early tomorrow morning to pick up a few sales/coupon specials that I would like to take advantage of but it won't be a big shop by any means.  Just a few items that will nicely add to our foodstuffs over the next few weeks, or pantry staples that we need to restock while the prices are good.

I'm happy to say that this past month my 'experiment' went rather well. Even including the vacation foods, I came within $12 of my goal for the month.  Thank you, new plan of attack!  That would be mostly Aldi purchases, the meat market and a very few items from drugstore and another couple of grocery stores.  It wasn't easy, it meant finagling what I had on hand and s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g foods out to serve an extra meal here and there.  The results show.  I'm proud and pleased and I even managed to put a few more items in the freezer than I took out.  I'm keeping track so I can share my at home 'harvest' with you at end of the month.

I sat down yesterday with three of my cookbooks and made out a month's worth of menus for June.  Yes, I planned meals using mostly what I have on hand.  I am not, however, doing a pantry/freezer challenge this month.  I mean to do one in July when the next fiscal quarter starts. I just find cooking is more tedious in the warmer months of the year.  Inspiration is wanted and having 24 meals to choose from for dinners, 14 each for breakfast and suppers will make things a whole lot easier.  I'll follow a few to the letter, shake a few up using the same basic ingredients to make another meal entirely and ditch a few altogether because someone has a craving for a certain dish.  I use my menus as guidelines not hard and fast rules. You'll note I left six open slots on the dinner menu.  I know one of those meals will be Katie's birthday meal.  She's already placed her order for the meal.  The other five we'll either eat out or figure out on the fly.  It may well be that we have leftovers from other meals (we so often do).

Chicken Nuggets, French Fries, Carrot Raisin Salad
Homemade nuggets are so tasty and rather than fry I use the oven fry method.  French Fries cook alongside.  I don't have a great deal of fresh lettuce, so I'll use the carrots to make my salad.  I may add a bit of crushed pineapple to it.

Shepherd's Pie, Green Beans, Waldorf Salad, Tiny Biscuits
 Years ago I purchased a frozen beef pot pie at Sam's club that was simple and awesome.  A pastry shell bottom, creamed hamburger middle and simple mashed potato topping.  That's what I'm going for in this menu.  I'll make extra biscuits to use for breakfasts.

Lemon Chicken, Rice, Stir Fry Vegetables, Pineapple Slices
I usually package breasts two to a packet.  I think I'll be able to use just one breast half for the nuggets and for this meal as well.  If the chicken seems skimpy I'll revamp the meal and toss the chicken in with the vegetables to stretch the meal.

Pizzaroni, Tossed Salad, Garlic Bread, Pudding Parfaits
I first made Pizzaroni when my oldest two were little babes and the meal is still a favorite in my household.  Macaroni is cooked al dente, mixed with pizza sauce, pepperoni slices, cottage or ricotta cheese (I'll use cottage since it's less expensive) and shredded Italian cheese  You can top with garlic bread crumbs if you'd like, but it's not necessary.  

Club Salad, Homemade Croutons, Creamy Tomato Soup, Marble Loaf Cake
I have turkey, turkey bacon, and at this point of the week will have produce a plenty.  I'll replicate a club sandwich in salad form.  I think a soup and salad meal will do nicely on these hot days we're having of late.       
Marinated Beef Roast, Stuffed Mushrooms, Pan Roasted Potatoes, Green Salad
Mama used to marinate rolled beef roasts in the summer months, then Daddy would grill.  I'm going to try my hand at this.  I can put the potatoes on the grill to cook too, in a pie pan.  The heat will be slow and low.  We should have leftovers of the meat.
Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches, Chips, Pickle Spears
An easy meal for Shabat.  We can toast the sliced rolls in the toaster, heat the sandwiches in the microwave. 

Coffee Chat - Vacation Is Fun!

Hello Hello Hello!  Won't you join me for a cup of coffee and a chat?  Just store bought cookies in the cookie jar this week.  I broke down last week and bought them so I wouldn't have to bake right away when we got home.  I took one package of sugar wafers with us...That was more for nostalgia's sake.  Granny almost always had the Nabisco Sugar Wafers on our pantry shelf.  I bought a less expensive brand but to me they taste just the same.  Then John spied chocolate chip cookies on sale at the grocery while we were out of town and we bought those.  I've got cookie overflow!  There are far far worse things to have an overflow of, don't you agree?

Our vacation really started a few weeks ago when we returned to the air museum to complete our tour there.  We'd gone several months ago and due to an unexpectedly long delay for a car service we barely saw one hangar of planes and displays.  So a couple of weekends ago we went back, walked through all the hangars and had a very nice picnic lunch.  I posted a picture of our picnic meal on the blog for a Thrifty Thursday/Frugal Friday post.  Here are a few other photos from that day:



The weather was iffy that day.  It was humid and breezy and thunder rumbled and then the sky would be blue.  About the time we headed out to the car to get our picnic bag, it began to rain.  There are had been a world of scouts visiting the museum that day and picnicking as well.  John had even suggested we'd have to go elsewhere.  Well not once the rain started!  Every scout was loaded up and carted away in under 3 minutes.  I thought the funniest thing was the leader who grabbed up the two boxes of fried chicken and ran to his car leaving the scouts to fend for themselves, lol.  Forget the kids, save the chicken!

There was one other couple about our age that shared the empty pavilion while we ate our food.  Isn't it funny?  When the kids were young we used to picnic a lot.  It was just so much easier and cheaper to pack food at home and take it with us.  We were so broke back then that John jokes now we couldn't afford to be poor, we were just po', lol.  He's not far wrong!  Anyway, I got so I liked picnics very well indeed and now I look for excuses to have one.  I'd rather have a picnic on the road than stop off to eat at a restaurant.  And you know how I love to picnic in the graveyards.  The very best picnic ever was the one in St. Augustine in a graveyard at Nombre De Dios church overlooking the Mantanzas Bay. 

Last Wednesday John started his regular week off with a few extra days vacation tacked on.  With ten days off we planned to have fun and I can say quite honestly on the 7th day that we have done just as we planned. 

We meant to make a trip to our most loved city and beach.  To that end I didn't plan any real grocery shopping into the week.  I bought extra bread and milk and eggs over the weekend before, thinking I'd need nothing else.  John was a little disappointed not to go shopping.  As it happened though we did have to go to the dollar store to restock our vitamins and he had an errand to do.  He took me out to breakfast at IHOP.  I had a coupon from way back in September that hadn't expired.  Our waitress suggested, as she handed us our bill, that we buy a $25 gift card, use it to pay for our meal that day and we'd get a $5 coupon back.  Between what was left on the card after paying, the cash John was given for the coupon and the $5 coupon we figure we have another meal coming to us free.  Pretty good isn't it?  We call that blessing at our house.

Thursday we packed up the car and took off to St. Augustine.  I confess that along about Monday of last week I'd figured out I had a virus and not just a migraine.  I was not feeling perky but I wasn't about to confess it and risk spoiling this trip! 

This whole trip had been such a blessing, truly it had been.  First of all, we won a gift card at an EMS dinner that was substantial.  I'd gotten an email from the place where we normally stay offering us a deal: book three nights and get a fourth night free.  I had managed some small savings since the first of the year simply by stashing away $1bills.  Well with all that, we had to come up with just $34 to pay for our stay.  I'm telling you, I thought that was just wonderful and I guess anyone would.  I saved grocery money to buy food for the stay once we arrived and packed a few of those necessities that are pricey (foil, olive oil, butter, steaks).
And you know we had a nice picnic lunch packed for the trip down.  We stopped at the Florida Welcome Center and had our lunch.
Weather was iffy that day, too.  However, it was sunny and clear when we stopped.  This rest stop/Welcome center was especially well kept.  It's right off I-75 and I watched as an employee went from table to table picking up any little bit of trash left behind, cleaning tables and seats.  I was impressed by that.

It took us quite a while on the road to finally reach our destination.  But we got there at last:
 Don't we look happy to have arrived?

I told you the weather was iffy...See the stormy sky over the beach?  We never did see any real rain the whole time we were there but the 'chances' per the weather men were quite high and not in our favor.  When John remarked upon this Wednesday night before we left I told him I reckoned I'd just take his approach to the weather. "How's that?" he asked.  "Well you're forever telling me if there's a 60% chance of rain there's a 40% chance it won't...So we'll just shoot for the odds."  He laughed but it all worked in our favor.  Sure wish I'd played the lottery too while we were at it, lol!

The next day John surprised me.  I thought we were going into town for coffee.  Nope.  He bypassed the parking lot we stop at when we're walking over to St. George Street for coffee...I was very surprised to find that we were going to do this:
I love the trolley ride through Old Town.  This particular line is Old Town Tours.  You buy passes that are good for three full days, from 9:30am until 4:30pm.  You can get on and off the train at various points or 'stations' and back again at any other station.  There's a trick to the trolley: trying to get on a different bus each time.  Well we got on a different bus each and every time but somehow we ended up with the same drive every single time!  That's not supposed to happen but our driver kept changing buses.  If you get different drivers you'll hear different historical points even though the route is the same.  Here are some of the sites along the way:
Castillo San Marcos...The fort that protected the city.  Once upon a time the grounds around this fort were turned into a gold course for the wealthy...

The original gates to the Old Town.  The city had a curfew back in the 1500's.  If  you weren't in town come nightfall and within the gates, you had to stay outside all night long.  Not too many missed that curfew.
Just one of the many beautiful old streets in Old Town.  This is Hypolita Street.
 Just a tiny portion of the Flagler Hotel, now Flagler College.  In it's heyday at the turn of the century guests paid $290,000 for 3 months stay here.  The dining room has Louis Comfort Tiffany windows.  The hotel had electricity installed by none other than Thomas Alva Edison himself. 
  A private residence across from Flagler is The Alhambra which was built with Middle Eastern influences inside and out.
 Government House dates back to the early days of the city when the English took control of Florida.
 Another of the original Colonial residences.
St. Francis Barracks houses the Florida National Guard now, was originally a monastery.
 This home was built as a winter residence for a wealthy family by the name of Warden.  They decided they must have a bedroom for each child and room for guests.  They had 13 daughters.  So they built their home to accommodate their family and guests and added in one bathroom because they didn't want to be seen as 'behind the times'. Often the home housed as many as 34. This home now houses Ripley's Believe It or Not, was at one time home to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.
 You may need to enlarge this picture to see the tall cross in the right hand background.  This is the mission Nombre De Dios (The Name of God).  The cross was given to St. Augustine by the Vatican in honor of the 200th anniversary of the founding. It is believed that this is the spot where Pedro Menendez first landed and set foot on what was destined to become the oldest city in North America.  To the left in this photo is the graveyard where we once picnicked.
This is called Magnolia Drive.  It is cited by National Geographic as one of the most beautiful streets in America.

All of this is just day one in St. Augustine.  I don't think I can share many more photos tonight without overwhelming you all.  We had a lovely lunch downtown in a garden off St. George street this day.  It was a lovely day, truly it was and I couldn't have asked for a nicer one.

Saturday we took another favorite drive down the coast from our hotel along old A1A.  Thank you to whoever decided to preserve the beaches as state parks down that way!  It is the most beautiful ride.  Along the way there are glimpses of 'old Florida' not as old as St. Augustine, but of the motor court days.
 See what I mean?  This is the sort of place I think "Where The Boys Are" would be filmed at...

 Isn't the beach just beautiful?  The whole area is wild and wonderful.

 John was just full of surprises this trip.  He took me to a restaurant for lunch that we discovered last year.  It's The Gypsy Cab Co.  It was featured in Southern Living last year.  They have the most awesome burgers, but they don't limit themselves to just burgers.  There are all sorts of things on the menu. 
 The outside is as colorful as the inside.  What's more they feature some beautiful pieces of local art/photos for sale at very reasonable prices. 
And that pretty much wraps up Day 2 in St. Augustine. 

Sunday we stayed at our condo and did nothing but gaze at the ocean, nap on the balcony, people watch and regret that we had to leave Monday.

It was a wonderful get away with lots of time to talk over things we've discovered in the past month, time to set the seal on a brand new set of dreams, and study.  I think we both came away refreshed.  Now I'm ready to start my savings campaign so we can return in the autumn!

Choosing Our Way

 Recently we took a short trip.  I was surprised to find my attention caught by signage all along the way.  It made me think about a portion of our life at present where we are questioning and seeking answers.
 Here's one.  This sign makes it plain that a time of choice is ahead.  Go this way or go that.  It seems  safe enough choice knowing that it is an acceptable place to turn or go straight ahead doesn't it?
 And another, which makes the choosing a bit harder.  Choices...Oh they do rule our lives!
 This is plain enough.  WRONG WAY.  I could have used a few of those signs along the pathways of my life.  Oh the troubles it would have saved!
 I encounter this one all too often.  It helps tremendously  to understand that this is just a sign to protect me and keep me safe.  It's not really a sign that I should stop and go no further.  It is a suggestion that I stop and carefully consider what is choice I make before I move ahead.

Sometimes signs are confusing.  There are a lot of messages in this set of signs.  It is very difficult sometimes to read all the signs at once, mind the traffic and stay aware of all that is going on in and out of the vehicle isn't it?   
 Clearly all of these signs are giving me immediate directions based upon any number of decisions I might make.  Some are meant to give me direction, to help me find my way.  Others are meant as severe warnings.  Failure to pay attention means I am literally taking my life (and others) in my hands or missing the opportunity to go the way I'd meant to.  Backtracking can be difficult at some points in our life if we miss our way...
 This sign says that this is no place to stop and find your bearings...And that's the way it is with life at times.  There simply is no place to pull over and get your bearings.  You must keep going a little further ahead before that opportunity presents itself.
 Another cautionary sign.  Watch out for what might be coming at you...
 And some signage simply eliminates the matter of choosing altogether.  It's plain that the way in which you are going is the ONLY way to go at present. 
A few signs warn about slowing down...Not a bad thing.  I think we all tend to go too fast at times.  We make quick decisions that we regret.  We get too busy and discover we've missed an opportunity we might have taken instead.  Or we miss a turn we really wanted to take.  Slowing down is a time to reflect.

We are facing a few choices at the moment.  How much easier it would be if we had road signs to warn us, guide us, tell us what to do!

Menu Monday - Here and There

One more day of work for John after today and then he's off for a few days more than usual.  We've made plans to  lend a holiday feel to our time off this go round.  That means planning picnic worthy meals as well as meals that can be served at home or quick meals after we've been gone all day.  No rhyme or reason to the way the days are laid out, so I'll not label them, just jotting down a week or so worth of menus.

Red beans and Rice, Waldorf Salad, Cornbread Muffins, Oatmeal Cookies
I actually made this meal for today.  I've had Red Beans on my menu list for the past two months. I haven't felt well over the weekend and didn't really want a meat heavy meal, so this seemed the perfect solution.  I had a couple of leftover apple halves that I used to make the salad.

Grilled Ribeye Steaks, Corn on Cob, 7 Layer Salad, Crusty bread
7 layer salad:  Mushrooms, frozen peas, turkey bacon, halved grape tomatoes top lettuce and then a creamy dressing is poured over the top.  Shredded cheddar cheese is sprinkled over the top of the dressing and the whole thing is covered to wait in the fridge for up to 24 hours after making.  

Chicken Salad Sandwiches, Chips, Sliced Apples, Ice Cream Sandwiches
If we're away from home, this meal will go on the road with us.  If we are just out late, it can wait upon us...The only variant is ice cream sandwiches.  I have homemade chocolate chip cookie/vanilla ice cream sandwiches in the freezer.   If we're on the road we'll pick up at a convenience store.

Chef's Steak Salad with homemade Crispy croutons and Feta, Chilled Grapes,  Brownies
I'm pretty sure there will be leftover steak.  These things are good sized.  I might even just set aside a portion of each before we ever sit down to eat...I'll caramelize onions and mushrooms while I'm toasting the croutons (leftover crusty bread from our steak dinner) for added richness to the salad.    Brownies from the freezer for dessert.

Deli Roasted Chicken, Asparagus, Micro Baked Potatoes, Strawberries with Sour Cream and Brown Sugar
I can make this in a matter of minutes if I steam the asparagus in the microwave.  The simple dessert could be enhanced with sugar wafers if you'd like.

Chicken, Spinach and Strawberry Wraps, Honey Roasted Nuts, Baby Carrots, Red Bell Pepper Strips,  Key Lime Pie
Another here or there meal plan.  Leftover chicken and strawberries, most of a bag of spinach, some feta cheese get wrapped in flat breads or tortillas (or stuffed in pitas) with a honey mustard dressing.  I'll set aside some spinach, chicken and red bell pepper for our pizza.

Spinach and Chicken Pizza, Fruit Salad, Sugar Wafers  

A package of flat breads or pitas will net me pizza crusts and sandwich breads.  Pizza will be made using olive oil and garlic base with a bit of caramelized onion and mushrooms (saved from earlier in the week) spinach, halved tomatoes and the last of the chicken.  I'll combine apple, strawberries and grapes for the salad with sourcream and mayo for a dressing.

Coffee Chat

I don't know where time went this week.  It seemed it was Monday just yesterday...and here it is Sunday!  It's not like I did anything special this week or even got projects tended to either.  It was just one of those sorts of weeks.  I did my routine work, I was tired, I went to bed, got up and did more and was tired.  Over and over again all week long.  It didn't seem as though the week was rushing past...until I realized yesterday afternoon that Thursday had come and gone and Friday was fast passing by as well.

John and I went off Tuesday to get haircuts.  I got a short cut for summer and the hot months ahead.  It stands to order, doesn't it, that it would turn off cooler these past few days?

I was out with Mama on Wednesday.  I'd had several ideas for her gift but she mentioned that she wanted wind chimes and pointed to the ones she wanted.  I bought them for her and gave them to her right away.  It's the best way with Mama.  She doesn't want to wait, you see.  I mailed her a card on Thursday which she should have gotten by Saturday.  Isn't it funny that I might well mail Katie a card and she'd have it next day, but to send one round to Mama, who is in town perhaps 4 miles away,  means a two day wait?

Wednesday when I got home from traipsing about with Mama, I picked up mail on my way up the drive.  I got a package  from Kim S., a book I've wanted for some time:  Jenny Walton's Packing for a Woman's Journey by Nancy Lindemeyer.   I was so pleased when she wrote to tell me she'd picked it up at for me...How sweet is that?  It's a lovely copy and she added in two of the prettiest bookmarks.  I never have nice bookmarks so these will make reading an extra special pleasure I think, sort of like sitting down to a prettily set table makes a meal seem more special.

Thursday I had to go back into town.  I'd paid the electric bill Wednesday but was so weary  that afternoon that I skipped the grocery, dollar store and dropping off the telephone bill.  When I came in Wednesday afternoon the phone rang and John's prescription was ready to be picked up.  So Thursday morning I did the housework, planted my mint, basil and cilantro (do you know how quickly cilantro can die?), then dressed to go to town.

I wasn't doing so well on Thursday. I tuned up and cried over every little thing that morning and indeed had tears running down my face in the afternoon as well.  It seemed I couldn't just get a good grasp on a sunshine-y outlook that day, try as I may.  I realized I'd not had lunch so went into the Chinese place and got a bite to eat.  I was wondering if John might not like a plate of food when he called.  I thought it rather nice to have him call as I was thinking of him and told him so.  And yes, he did want Chinese takeout for his supper so I got him a plate.

I haven't been feeling my best.  Wanting new clothes, wanting a new look, short short hair...I needed some make up and I thought I'd try something different but gracious goodness!  I couldn't make up my mind what I ought to have.  I've worn the same shades of eyeshadow and liner for so long that it seemed unnatural to even consider a new color.  In the end I relied on my Katie's advice. I texted her to ask if she thought a deep gray liner and a gray eye shadow quad would look all right.  She texted me right back with a yes, so I bought a new color.  And just for fun added in a pretty nail polish that was just $1.  It's sort of a dusty rose with a hint of coral that keeps it from looking too pink or too orange.

I went to bed early Thursday night just weary to the bone.  Nothing like a good night's sleep to right the world.  My late father in law always said, "Nothing is so bad it doesn't all look better in the morning."  He was full of good quotes like that.  "Nothing is so bad you can't eat..."  That was another of his, too.  He was a wise man and I dearly miss him.  Probably as much as I miss Granny.  Sigh.

Well the world did seem brighter and righter on Friday morning.  I'd mapped out a good day's work and started it as soon as John left.  It was well under way and I'd settled mid-morning for a cup of coffee and a Bible study (and a rest) when I had a call from John.  He was on his way back home, having extra hours to use up and the boss telling him to head home.  Well that tossed a horseshoe into my plans!  He'd said he wanted to mow the lawn, and I knew he would.  I also knew that eating breakfast at 6am and working half the morning at work and the rest at home would mean a hungry man.

I altered my original menu plan and planned out a more substantial man type meal.  And while he mowed the lawn, I went to work baking cookies (Oatmeal Date and Raisin) and zooming through the routine household chores so my afternoon would be free as well.  Good thing.  Another horseshoe got tossed into my plans, lol.

I had just put two potatoes in the oven to bake when I heard a car door shut.  I've been expecting my niece to stop by all week long and thought it might be her.  No, it wasn't.  It was Samuel who'd come to spend the day and night.  As soon as I spied him out the door and called a greeting, I hurried back in to put another potato in the oven...and to thank my good Provider for the inspiration to put on a man sized meal!  Here was an appetite to feed to match the one already at home.

We had such fun the three of us, chatting and laughing over lunch, catching one another up on family news.  John was glad to see Samuel, I was glad to see them both.  It was rather nice to have all my plans tossed up in the air and come down with so much goodness to replace them.  It made up a great deal for the weepy day before.  We spent the afternoon together talking and napping.  Then Samuel went off to visit friends and we eventually crawled off to bed.

I woke with a raging migraine Saturday morning.  The tummy wrenching, thumping, pounding, can't-take-it sort.   I seldom have a migraine with headache pain, just all the other symptoms  but this morning, it was migraine with an attitude.  That is so hard to take at 5am in the morning, let me tell you.  Now paste on a cheerful smile...Nope I couldn't do it, either.  Saying good morning in a weak voice was about the most I could muster.  Fortunately I'd planned a cold cereal breakfast for John's morning meal.

About an hour after John left, just as I was thinking I might be able to bear the headache after all, Samuel showed up.  He's an early riser and had left his friend's house to come here for breakfast.  His appetite was no less than it had been the day before.  Good thing I'd made biscuits for supper the night before!  He ate a few of those toasted with cheese and a few doughnuts and had a couple or three cups of coffee, lol, and he was filled for the morning.  We chatted a bit more, listened to ORU The Gathering, and finally he decided he must head for home.  I kissed him goodbye, thanked him for coming to see us, and thought I'd settle into my chair for a bit of a rest.  But before I did, I put some onions on to caramelize because I'd planned to make burgers.  And then, I put my feet up and thought I heard a car door...lol

This time it was Katie come to spend a couple of days with me and just in time for a meal...I got up and added to the menu because I needed to stretch the meal a bit.  She doesn't eat like a man by any means, but I'd planned to feed one not two.  Extra food was most definitely in order.  I contemplated that I had now made three meals and the day not yet reached noon as I patted out the ground meat into thinner burgers...and wondered what on earth I'd do about supper and John's work lunch (meal numbers 4 and 5 for the day).

We spent the afternoon eating, chatting and playing.  Kate decided I needed 'help' to feel better so she decided to do my makeup and hair.  I confess she did a very good job with the makeup but I was not surprised a bit when she said there was nothing she could do with my hair, lol.  I know just what she means. 

Today has been a little better than yesterday.  I still don't feel well but better than the day before.  Amie called, Samuel and V texted me.  I called Mama.  Well wishes all the way around.  Isn't it nice to think of good wishes and love just sort of settling down all around us?  I like to think of it that way.  So that when bad things happen, I can pretend I have a buffer between me and the not nice things. 

That's the way it is, here in the Blue House...

 

     



Thrifty Thursday/Frugal Friday

                                                             Our picnic lunch. 
 
Friday:  Up earlier than usual this morning.  I'd promised John a big breakfast since we had nothing to do until late afternoon.  While breakfast was started, I also started dinner for today and tomorrow.    I noted that a friend of mine had lined her crock pot with aluminum foil one day...I took her idea a step further.  I wanted to cook two entrees but I didn't want to mess up both of my crock pots.  Instead I used foil to shape two dishes inside the largest crock pot.  I put chuck roast and onions in one dish and two chicken breast in the other. Both meats cooked on low for the same amount of time.  The juices remained in each dish...I was very pleased with how this worked.


John has been mentioning Harvard beets for the past two pay periods.  When we were in Aldi on Wednesday he mentioned them again.  I can't buy Harvard beets, only plain, at Aldi.  However, my cookbook had a recipe for Harvard beets.  I might add that the lovely glass jars of Harvard beets at other grocery run around $1.59.  My can of beets cost me only $.59 and required no ingredients that were not already in my pantry.

I have recently begun making it my habit to label everything I put in the freezer.  I got so tired of wondering how long ago it had been since I put in this item or that or worse, wondering what a frozen item was that it seemed reasonable to  find a method of labeling.  I bought the labels in the office supply department of the store and they are so handy!  I bought them to label jars of bulk bought spices, but they work as well on a zippered freezer bag or plastic container.

I bought a bag of oranges and a grapefruit a few weeks ago.  We just weren't eating them.  I do like oranges and most certainly did not want to waste them.  I peeled and sectioned and then froze in two containers.  I can't imagine anything more refreshing on a hot summer day than frosty ambrosia.

We had a bit of leftover gravy.  It might seem odd to save that but the truth is, it makes a great addition to a meal of roast,  hamburgers or meatballs for a yummy entree or a good addition to soup or pot pie.  Just another bit of flavorful goodness.

Ran a full load of dishes in the dishwasher.

Before we went out for the afternoon/evening we turned the AC up so that it wouldn't run so much while we were gone.

Saturday:  John wanted to do something special today.  We thought we'd pack a picnic lunch. 

I like for a picnic lunch to be above average.  I didn't have anything special on hand but it's so easy to make a meal different with simple ingredients.  Making honey mustard to go on our sandwiches for instance: a bit of mayonnaise, a bit of honey, a bit of brown mustard.  I'd kept some of the oranges I cut up in the fridge yesterday and made a quick ambrosia.  Mama had given us half a poundcake last month when we had sweets a plenty in the house, so I froze it.  I cut thick slices of that.  I put water bottles, sandwiches, ambrosia in the freezer for an hour or so before we left home, then packed everything on ice.  It was a great picnic lunch.

Our destination was the air museum we'd tried to visit earlier and missed due to an unexpected car repair.  No problems today.  We saw every inch of the hangars and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
 

We stopped in the town next over to fill up with gasoline on our way back home.  This
saved us nearly $.10/gallon over our hometown station.

Supper this evening consisted of leftovers from the fridge.

Ants have been pernicious this year on the front porch.  I have been picking up the pet's feed bowls even if empty and storing them in an air tight bucket. 

Sunday:  Chopped the jalapenos I bought and froze in an ice cube tray for later use. 

I made taco salad for my lunch.  I had frozen taco seasoned ground beef in the freezer and I thawed that.  Then I used avocado, tomato, shredded cheddar, black olives, a bit of diced jalapeno and some corn tortillas I'd cut into strips and fried crisp to make the salad. Yummy!\\

John worked an extra day today.

I had meant to make guacamole.  No chips.  No crackers.  Ripe avocados...I remember seeing on another blog where the lady froze portions of avocado for her baby in a vacuum sealed bag.  I thought I'd try freezing mine.  I did toss the sections with half a lime's worth of juice to prevent darkening since I didn't have the vacuum seal.

John had been lamenting the empty cookie jar. I had meant to make Molten Lava Cakes, but I made brownies instead.  It takes the same basic ingredients ( a little more flour and eggs) and stretches a lot further.

I had briefly contemplated 'doing something' since I was still smarting from my Flat Tire Friday but ultimately, looking at my schedule and my bank account...Well I opted for the day at home instead.  A savings anyway I choose to look at it.  I did watch my Netflix Dvd of Downton Abby.

Monday:  John and I didn't go anywhere today, so another day of saving gasoline.

Washed a full load of dishes and a full load of laundry.

I wanted to make a pretty journal, similar to one I'd seen on a blog I'd looked at the night before.  She used a sketch pad, but I found a Goodwill thrift store school composition book (the type with sewn in pages) that I'd purchased for $.50 in my supplies stash. It wasn't pretty, sort of sick purple and the cover had been written on in permanent marker. This lent itself very nicely to being recovered.  I was kinda of surprised how nicely it turned out.

My next inspiration was to put random verses from Psalms on various pages.  Then I gathered some pretty pictures from my picture stash (all culled from magazines and advertising folders) here and there throughout.  I've not finished with it yet, but I am pleased.  Who'd have thought that ugly notebook for $.50 would be so nice?

Rhonda gets tickled when I mention her in my blog.  Well she's a smart cookie that Homemaker!  A while back she had trouble with her dishwasher and they stopped using it.  Then she decided to just try it one day and it worked fine for quite a long while after.  We had a ceiling fan stop working one day back in winter.  I cut it off at the switch and we hadn't turned it on since.  The hot temperatures and the lack of a fan was really felt in the living room.  I hadn't realized how much cooler the ceiling fan made the area until we didn't have it running.
This week I decided to 'do a Rhonda' as I said to myself and turned it on at the switch, pulled the cord and lo and behold!  The thing works!  It's made all the difference in the world in how the room feels.

I've just got to mention the wise words I read on another Homemaker's blog...Dawn cleared out her pantry and did a complete inventory a couple of weeks ago.  She noted that
the items which needed to be tossed were convenience items.  I love what she said and I quote: "
I noticed everything I was tossing out was processed, convenience items.  That made me realize that I practically never throw out basic ingredients."  I was stunned for a moment after reading that.  She's right you know?  I sometimes have to toss convenience items but I generally run out of basic ingredients. I think my mantra "Can I make it myself?" will be written at the top of all my grocery lists from now on, just in case I forget and start to load up on boxed foods.

Tuesday:  I have a new haircut for summer.  I can't say I got the haircut I went in for but I do short hair, albeit shorter than I'd anticipated and I'm determined to make the best of it until it grows.  But in future, I'll go to an established salon with established stylists.  I'll willingly pay more for a better cut.  This is the last frontier for me of 'settling for' instead of looking to see where I could get the best possible haircut for a good price.  "Good enough" isn't when it means living with a haircut that isn't even near the photo you took in to show the stylist...If the saying is "You get what you pay for," I got just about value for my money and I'd rather have had MORE, even if it did mean spending more money .

We hurried home and bought chicken tenders at the local diner.  Their 'tenders' are not those tenderloin strips from the back of a breast.  These are actually flat cut portions of breast halves.  Typically two are more than sufficient for a serving of meat for us.  John bought just four today and we still had one leftover.

I used that leftover breast strip to make a Fried Chicken Salad for John's work lunch tomorrow.

Wednesday:  Knowing that Mama had planned an extended trip today, I decided to clean my house prior to leaving home.  I stripped bed and remade it, washed and dried sheets and since I was doing a load of laundry tossed in everything that was washable with the sheets. 

We visited that meat market where the meats are so well priced.  Mama mentioned the cost of a certain cut of steak.  I noted the meat market was about $5 a pound less for the same cut than the price of the premium grocery where Mama shops.  I decided to buy chicken wings and legs.  I've been craving BBQ wings for weeks now and these were about the same cost as the local grocery minus the nasty feathers here and there.  The legs will be marinated and roasted for a picnic lunch next week.

We didn't have to buy ice.  I'd saved the ice from my last two shopping trips (purchased at grocery) and packed insulated bags here at the house.  We had perfectly cold meats when we returned home.

I'd planned to buy Mama a mother's day gift and had several ideas but when she mentioned wishing she had a wind-chime in her yard, I thought I'd get her one.  She's never before mentioned wanting one and I thought she might like that best of all.  I spent no more than I would have on potted plants (my usual gift to her).

Dropped off the electric bill on my way through town.

We'd had a late lunch and I wasn't terribly hungry.  I heated a can of soup for my supper.

Thursday:  Washed a full load of laundry. 

Had to run a couple of errands today.  I should have done yesterday but I was so tired after our long trip out of town.  Just as well.  The pharmacy called and had filled John's prescriptions so I went over to the next town to pick them up, stopped in the grocery there.  I discovered their dog food is better priced than I pay at the local dollar store.

I was in a spendy mood, ready to fill planters and my wanting new things for my upcoming trip and new makeup and hair color. And I could name off a dozen grocery items I wanted besides the ones on my list.  Well in the end, I cut my list down to what I had to have (including make up and hair color).  I can't say I saved tons of money but everything I purchased was on sale.

And I'll get four colorings off the hair color.  I may not be the happiest I've ever been with my hair cut but I can at least keep the gray covered, lol.

I'd meant to bake today but couldn't with the chores and errands taking more time than I'd anticipated.   Fortunately I spied a Fundraiser bake sale for a church.  John loves doughnuts and that was what they were selling.  I didn't save money on that purchase either but I'll spend a bit more for a good cause.

Came home and  washed a load of towels.  I hung these on the line to dry, even though I knew they'd have to stay on the line overnight but I also knew the towels would be nice and soft after being dampened by the dew.

Friday:  Got up early this morning and colored my hair.  As I thought, half a box of hair color worked just fine.  I'll get four colorings for an average of $3 each.

I did a pedicure this morning too.  I splurged on new nail polish but it was just $1 for the bottle.  Now I have five new colors, all under $2 a bottle, enough to last me all year long.

Ran a full load of dishes.

I had  a call from John just as I was getting started on my day.  He was on his way home.  Seems he has a number of days to use up before the end of the fiscal year.  He cut grass.  I baked cookies, refilling the cookie jar.

I had just put two potatoes in the oven to bake, as well as those chicken wings I bought the other day when I thought I heard a car door shut.  I looked out the window and discovered my son's car.  I greeted him then skipped back indoors to add another potato to the oven.

When I made brownies Sunday, I made a bigger pan, cut in half and frozen half.  I was pleased to have brownies to give to Sam today. 

Menu Monday - May Thunderstorms

Monday Monday...Gracious but Mondays do seem to come around rather often!  I've been struggling today and it's all to do with a silly back that wants to spasm and be painful (currently under control, thankfully).  I can't imagine what I've done.  Was it cutting the branches last week?  Tugging on the heavily laden wagon?  Lifting too many grocery bags at once the other day?  Who knows?  It hurt and though I just use the standard over the counter pain reliever, I feel slightly groggy from them.  It's an adventure when you are medication sensitive, lol.  Aleve tends to sort of knock me into a cotton stuffed head sort of person.

I did have a bit of fun this morning after chores, while I was waiting on dinner to cook and dressed up a $.50 composition book I picked up at a thrift store a few weeks ago.  I'm making myself a fancy journal out of it.  I've already recovered the outside and the front piece inside.  I'll add pictures, words, quotes, etc all throughout the thing for inspiration just in case I have none and just the pure joy of rediscovering it if I am inspired.

In the meantime, I went through my oldest most loved cookbook looking for springtime inspiration.  Here's what I came up with:

A Size for Everyone, Not Just Some





I've spent the afternoon and evening  yesterday reading through the blogs on my bookmarked list.  I have a mix of blogs.  Some cooking, some decorating, some simple living, some faith based, but almost all have one common theme: every one of them has a frugal slant.

I'd just finished reading a blog in which the author stated what she felt was excess, taking a slap at anyone who didn't subscribe to the same viewpoint, when I felt the need to stop and think.  Truth is while this author accomplishes a lot in a small space, her 'style' of frugality is not mine...and I resent being told that it should be.  I've been frugal for 33 years or more...I don't believe I've been doing it wrong all these years simply because I don't subscribe to all her methods and ways.  And I think this is one area where we who blog must be very careful.  We can encourage or we can discourage.  It's all in our approach.

This brings to mind a discussion Friday night with another guest at a friend's home.  She and her family live a frugal and simple life.  We each blog about it,  but each of us approach it in a far different way.  Neither of us do things in the same way.  We have in common two things: we are full time homemakers and we are frugal.  Our incomes are different, our approaches are different, our life circumstances are different.  But we are dedicated to the purpose of keeping our home in as economical manner as possible. 

I see the merits of and admire greatly the work they do in their home.  We were both amused and frustrated by the viewpoints and comments of others we encounter on our blogs, of those who felt they must also do exactly as she does or as I do or they could not be called frugal.

A Day in My Life

Much amused by the hoohaw surrounding stay at home wife/mom not working a day in their life, I decided to track a day in my life.  Just one day.  And this wasn't a FULL day, doesn't include blogging, writing, phone calls, creating shopping lists, etc.

Here's my day as it transpired on Tuesday:
When John left I made cinnamon rolls.  The recipe calls for buttermilk.  My carton was only 1/3 full when I made this recipe, so I added as much milk to the carton and set it on the counter for 24 hours.  Wednesday morning, I had buttermilk.
The cinnamon rolls, waiting to go in the oven.  I went outside to finish clearing up the limbs, weeds, etc.
My second wheelbarrow load of limbs...I had two more to go after this.

All winter I've watched a red cockaded woodpecker pick up pecans and come to the Sweet Gum tree with it.  I suspected he was finding a handy place to lodge the nuts and crack them.  Proof that my suspicions were right...He was on the security light pole pecking away when I came out this morning...

Thrifty Thursday - Merry Merry Month of May

My kitchen window garden as of Tuesday morning.  Two romaine lettuce end pieces that are meant to root (the smallest is already producing new leaves as of this morning), mint I mean to plant on Friday morning, a cabbage end piece with five or six new cabbages forming upon it, and a  small bottle with ivy and an African violet leaf rooted in water...

Friday: It was meant to be a fun Friday, though I do confess I was feeling spendy.  I wanted to go to Walmart to find the items on my growing list.  Nothing pricey but altogether bound to get expensive.  Well I had a spendy day all right!  Four new tires and an alignment later...However, as my husband pointed out, we save for rainy days and we were certainly in a rainstorm yesterday.

Money saver for the day?  That Premium AAA membership we bought last year.  I had no idea, I really didn't, what a savings it was!  I thought it was an unnecessary expense.  I certainly thought no such thing yesterday when I found myself with a flat tire and no help to call upon but AAA!  I was so impressed with the service from first call to repair.  The first question I was asked "Are you in a safe area?".  The repair service was able to arrive within 15 minutes.  Someone spoke to me on the phone every five minutes until repair arrived.  And it was this young man who 'educated' me on the premium service: four emergency calls FREE each year.  Which means I paid not one penny for service yesterday.  Wow.  Since I'd just spent my last $5 at Goodwill this was a great thing.

My education for the day was not over.  I went to Walmart as planned, since the store there has a tire service.  I don't know about you all, but I do not know how to buy tires.  A young woman at the tire center told me that it was her job to teach me and she did her best.  We discussed attributes of this set over that and she told me that due to the mileage put on my car each month I'd best go with a higher rated tire.  Thanks to her education, I knew what I needed when I went to the Tire store.  I am sorry to say that Walmart did not have the tires I needed in stock and the young lady would not sell me an inferior tire (that was a good thing).

Was it a frugal day?   Yes and no.  We knew we needed to buy new tires soon, but not this soon.  Now I have four new tires.  The AAA membership was up for renewal and I'd already planned to argue against renewal...We'll be keeping that.  We included Katie on it last year since she travels so much on her own.

Gift Ideas I've Found This Week.

I don't think I've ever written out a list of gift ideas for a holiday and I didn't suppose you'd find me starting it now, ...