Of the gifts we bought for our grandson this one was the cutest and the least expensive. He has a thing about trains. John found this at Toys R Us: a bandana neckerchief, conductor's hat and a wooden whistle that sounds like a train...
What a full week it was! I am just now getting all caught up once more. I'll try to walk back through the week just past and see where we saved money.
Friday: The last of the housework done, I headed into town with my lists. Three of them: grocery, dollar store and local packing shed.
Dollar store: I bought two extra towels and four pillows. Two of the pillows were down alternative pillows and I'll be honest with you, I think they are better quality than the ones I bought at Target for half again as much money. I'll be going back next month to buy about four more pillows to replace some on our bed and we should be set for pillows for quite awhile. I paid just $7 each for the down like pillows and just $7 for a pair of fiberfill pillows.
Peach shed: Love our fresh local peaches and after stopping the week before at another peach shed, I'm happy to give my business to the local place. I never get bruised or spoiled peaches there. Also locally grown tomatoes are offered there as well. For under $10 I got enough peaches to feed a crowd and tomatoes for us and guests.
Grocery: No slider rolls to be had, so I bought hot dog buns instead. This worked in my favor as one bun equaled two slider sandwiches. I did not by the way stick hard to my list. I found some items on my list were simply too pricey to buy so I re-thought my meal plans.
At home once more, I worked ahead to make up sandwiches for our supper. I made those marinated sandwiches that go over so well every single time. I love that I can make ahead and heat when we're ready to eat. And when we did eat, they were consumed right away. Nothing like a favored tried and true recipe to be a hit when you've got a crowd to feed.
One inspiration at the grocery was the queso con salsa dip...A friend made a version that involved a jar of that mixed with a can of chili. I happened to have homemade chili in the freezer and I thought it would make a nice addition to the meal or even a stand alone meal of nachos on it's own.
Simply a default thing that worked out super well: with the house full of people, I closed our bedroom door. As it happened my daughter in law baked the birthday cake after she got here and the oven had to be on for quite a while, between two cakes and my sandwiches that had to bake. The living/kitchen areas heated up a good deal but our bedroom stayed really nice and cool. So much so that the two guest rooms were shut up towards the end of the afternoon on Saturday so their rooms would be nice and cool too.
Smart daughter in law (she really is!) wanted to make a special cake for her son. She bought a single big flat wedding cake layer pan and a small wedding cake layer pan. She put the small pan inside the big one, poured in her batter around the improvised ring. I'll show you a photo of the cake on tomorrow's section but it couldn't have worked out better. Very smart of her to figure this out, I think.
I learned quite a few things having the number of guests that I did over the weekend and this was just one of them.
Ran a full load of dishes before going to bed.
Saturday: John took over at breakfast time and cooked to order eggs, grits, toast. While he did that I prepped potatoes to put in the crock pot for hash brown casserole. Next time I'll know that parboiled are best. I had to remove the potatoes from the crock pot and bake about an hour to get them cooked in time for dinner.
We called ahead and ordered chicken from our local diner. It was not too pricey for the number of pieces of chicken we got, but I think if there's a second time I'll buy deli roasted which would save a little more. Fortunately, the chicken was covered by my grocery savings the previous week. I didn't have to spend any extra beyond grocery money. By the way, Friday's purchases at grocery were covered by that saved grocery money as well. Perhaps it didn't go into vacation fund as planned but it did come in handy.
Katie combined a trip to the trash dumpster with her trip into town to go to the diner and run into the grocery to pick up an item.
The breasts in the chicken we ordered were so big that I took my handy chef's knife and halved them. I noticed most all the women chose a half piece while the men went for the whole ones.
Smart daughter in law tip #2. The cake called for black icing and she'd bought black gel color but one taste and every mouth screwed up with "yuck" face. Quick thinking and she decided to use crushed Oreo cookies to make top the cake. She had to make a trip into town but the end result worked out even better than the original plan I think. Here's her cake:
Not the greatest photo, but the cake was shaped like a number 3 and looked like a roadway with white lines down the middle of the blacktop (Oreo cookies) and match box cars. Very very cute. Unfortunately the best shot of the cake won't upload to my page.
Notice how blurry my photo is? Well the man there in the photo gave me a hint. There's a pre-focus mode if you lightly press the button. Then a green line flashes and you have a clear shot...Since I don't have a manual with my camera, I hadn't a clue but hopefully we'll eliminate a lot of future blurry shots.
I opted for paper plates and bowls and disposable glasses for the meal. My son Jd recommended we put a Sharpie pen on the drinks table so that each could initial their glass and save confusion. Another great idea.
We washed a full load of laundry.
Leftovers of chicken, coleslaw and potato casserole made our supper that evening.
Sunday: Easy breakfast of hot coffee, bagels, cream cheese, peanut butter, toast and peaches. Not pricey but certainly filling.
John and I were exhausted after every one left Sunday. We kept things simple for the rest of the day.
Washed a full load of dishes.
Washed and hung to dry a full load of laundry.
Monday: We were out running errands Monday, after a peach pancake breakfast. We made a visit to the DIY store to pick up pest control products. We'd been fighting a steady stream of ant invasion. John got an insect product that you apply yourself (comes complete with pump sprayer) around perimeter of house as well as the Terro Liquid Ant Bait Traps we bought and used last summer. Those things are worth every penny we pay for them.
Another full load of laundry washed and hung to dry. We had a lot of bedding and towels to wash after company but limited ourselves to one load per day.
John wanted to eat out and see a movie, but we saved our money by default. The movies had all started and we didn't want to hang around for 2 1/2 hours to wait to see it. The pizza place was closed when we stopped by there. We came home and bought a sandwich at the local Subway. I saved half of my six inch sub for supper the next day.
On our way home John refilled my tank. I was proud that in more than two weeks I'd used less than 1/2 tank of gasoline.
Supper that evening: the last of the fried chicken and nacho dip. That was 18 servings from the chicken we bought for the birthday party.
Ran a full load of dishes and let air dry.
Used a dishpan full of water to water plants on the porch.
Tuesday: I'm sounding like a broken record, but we washed a full load of laundry and allowed to air dry. I promise you this was the last load of weekend laundry! lol
Mopped floors and used the mop water to water herbs and plant on the back deck.
Scanned the fridge and found two ears of corn and a handful of vegetables that needed to used. I thawed a sirloin steak and made a big dinner of steak, corn on cob and salad.
Used the microwave to steam cook the corn. I cut off ends, leave on shucks and rinse the corn well. Put it in the microwave damp, cook on High for 5 minutes. Perfectly cooked corn every time and so easy to shuck once steamed.
Used broiler and cast iron griddle to cook steak.
John did ant patrol with the natural spray he bought to use indoors. It's supposed to be safe for children and pets and certainly smells better than the chemical stuff. We've had rain two days running now and can't spray perimeter of house. Forecast says rain for the next ten days...Not complaining.
Thunder storm came up and we unplugged TV and computers, cut off AC. Electricity went out for three hours. Fortunately I'd made wrap sandwiches earlier in the afternoon while packing his work lunch for tomorrow, so we had supper at the usual hour.
I sat down near a window after the storm passed and read my book. It seemed silly to light a candle when all I had to do was move across the room.
Wednesday: My day with Mama. Started housework early but had a load of sheets from our bed to wash (another full load). I put in dryer since it looked like more rain on the way. I timed the load carefully and they were dry in 40 minutes time.
Mama gifted me magazines and coupon flyers.
My turn to pay for dinner. Mama and I both meant to get cash at the ATM but it wasn't working. I decided to just use my debit to pay for lunch, which meant I spent for lunch and only lunch, instead of having 'extra' cash.
Tipped waitress from my allowance.
We walked about the store (Cracker Barrel) after lunch but bought nothing.
Rode home through the back roads. We stopped at the Mennonite Country store where they sell bulk spices and baking supplies for far less than any grocery. I knew just what I needed. My purchases were cream of tartar, ground mustard, a jar of local honey, a favored old fashioned candy (Bull eyes), chopped dates. I spent under $10 for that.
Turned AC up to 80F before leaving home for the day. I forgot to turn it down until John came in, so there was an increased savings for us, lol.
Supper for me was the leftover piece of sub sandwich.
Made a frosty homemade frozen lemonade. Last minute inspiration was to add a bit of the maraschino cherry juice, since I have no Grenadine syrup. Oh my goodness! Cherry Lemonade was good!
Thursday: A day at home for me, much looked forward to. Per John's request did a small load of clothes, all hung to dry.
Washed a full load of dishes, and let them air dry as well.
Planned weekend meals. I noted that I needed to use up cherries, peaches. I used the peaches to make a new to me recipe of Peachy Chicken. Yummy good. I'll post recipe later.
I quartered the recipe but cooked two chicken breasts in the dish. The larger of the breasts made up John's work lunch sandwiches for tomorrow.
I worked hard today and felt I deserved a reward. Another cherry frozen lemonade seemed just the thing.
While making lunch discovered ants had invaded a food cupboard. Went to work and cleaned, sprayed, repackaged foodstuffs in glass jars and double zippered bags. The cabinet looks so neat and nice and well organized and I can easily see all my foods without a bit of trouble. Sorry it took an ant invasion to get it looking so nice.
Noticed my African Violet is blooming once again. So pretty and so worth while to nurse them along for the reward of blooms in the house.
John came in and said he'd worked hard and wanted a treat, too. He wanted a frozen Coke. I used half a can of soda and covered the remaining soda with foil wrapped tight around the top then put back in fridge.
Keeping snacks out of sight has truly kept them out of mind. We bought peanut M&Ms two pay periods ago and I 'found' the bag I'd set aside while cleaning the cupboard. Fortunately the ants had not gotten into any of the foodstuffs in that cabinet. John was surprised to see M&Ms in the snack cabinet when he came home.
Found my single cup coffee brew station while clearing out the upper cupboard. I'll use that to make a single cup of coffee for myself on those days when I want an earlier than usual cup or when John wants coffee and I don't. This will eliminate the waste of having to make 4 cups (or about 2 mugs worth) of coffee for one person.
Found my sheets meant to be curtains for that sunny end of the porch (per John's request) and hung them on a clothesline strung between two columns. I cut the ends off to hem to length. Noted I had enough width fabric to make pillows for the chairs. I like these striped sheets so much I think I might buy two more twin sized sheets to use as window curtains for the guest room. I want to buy grommets to put along the top of the curtain and then will use shower curtain hooks so we can slide the curtains open or shut as we choose.
Friday: Another small load of clothes, washed on the shortest possible cycle with the least amount of water and hung to dry.
Unloaded the dishwasher this morning and refilled the water bottles to keep chilled for weekend drinks.
1 pound of hamburger meat made up two burgers and two mini meatloaves (added saltines, onions and dried tomato pesto). I baked the burgers and meatloaves in separate pans.
Cooked a box of organic mac and cheese then divided into portions and set aside for work lunches for my husband.
Reseasoned the old cast iron I found in the back of the cupboard. I meant to give the pieces away but just couldn't. I found a recipe for bread baked in a cast iron dutch oven that I want to try. The one pan that was in the worst shape succumbed nicely to a hard scrubbing with salt/oil. When all the rust had disappeared I brush all the pieces with oil and baked them for an hour and then let sit in the warm oven. I did this in the early morning hours so the house wouldn't get hot with the oven on.
Took the second meatball hero from the freezer and thawed for work lunch on Sunday. I cut 1/3 off to save for my own lunch on Sunday. The heroes were 12 inches long when I made them, so John and I shared one last week and I froze the second one.
Pitted the cherries I had in the fridge. Because they are sour cherries I thought I'd make mini pies from them tomorrow. I mean to mix up pie crust today and let it chill overnight.
Used the touch up packet of color from my last box of hair dye. I didn't do this last time but I see the merit of it for root touch up. I hope to get a bit more mileage from this coloring.
John bought fresh from the chicken eggs today. We will get 3 dozen for $6, a bit higher than grocery store price but oh so much better tasting! I am looking forward to lovely golden orange egg yolks.
Packed two work lunches today so I can fully rest tomorrow. Put a plate of leftovers into the fridge for my own dinner.
Biggest savings today: decision to just stay home and not go out for a fun Friday. I knew that any spending would be 'extra' and I couldn't think of a thing I needed or wanted more than a day at home to piddle about in the house.
And that dears is another week of savings in my home. It was fun and a bit of a challenge but I think we made out all right. Now I'm off to make a pot of coffee (I'll share with John tonight) and have a light supper of yogurt and peaches.