A Year of Savings: 2013

April 15  So happy that my taxes have long since been done.  None of that last minute tension.

I had a dinner plan...John admitted what he really wanted was fried chicken.  No trips to town.  I'd thawed out chicken.  I fried it myself in the electric frying pan and added french fries to the oil.  I made coleslaw from scratch.  Typically this meal costs us $13 in town.  I spent far less.  Savings $9

Planted the cabbage root end.  There were a few new roots on it and space in one of my pots to plant it.

Mixed up more shower cleaner.  This particular recipe is very good at melting soap scum: Equal parts dish detergent (Dawn is recommended, but I've used Palmolive both times) and vinegar.  Shake in a spray bottle, spray on the walls, leave for an hour or so, then rinse.  No scrubbing is needed unless you don't spray well in an area.  This costs about $1 to mix up and use (sale priced detergent, plain old white vinegar).
It does have a little vinegar aroma but that isn't unpleasant to me the way the chemical heavy stuff is.  Savings $1 over sales priced cleaner.  I used the whole bottle of detergent, have enough cleaner to use several more times.

Menu Plan Monday

Ever feel un-inspired?  That's me right at the moment.  Nothing comes readily to mind that I'd like to eat except what I made for a meal today: Spaghetti with Meat Sauce which was truly far more heavy on the vegetables than on the meat.  It's telling that I scorched the first pot badly and scorched the second pot slightly (we ate it anyway).  No salad, no sides, nothing.  For supper I had yogurt with strawberries and John had a sandwich and leftover mashed potatoes that he reheated.  You see how uninspired I am?

Now it might well be just because I'm tired.  We had a very full weekend and I enjoyed it from start to finish.  The weather was outstandingly beautiful, breezy, just cool enough to warrant a lightweight jacket, sunny and wonderful. Appetites were revved up for every meal.  We said goodbye to the last of our guests this morning around 7:30.  There was the house...shambles.  Absolute shambles.  I confess, I focus more on my guests, less on what is required to keep the house clean, and it showed,   Oh my.

Random Thoughts: And Then It Was Spring

I've wanted to weep for two weeks now.  If you were to ask me why, I'd only shake my head.  It's one of those "It's everything and it's nothing," mix of emotions.  Spring finally arrived here, with the occasional chilly wet rain and cold cold morning to remind us that she's not fully made up her mind yet.  April is so fickle.  Sunshine, rain, wind, soft breezes, chilly, warm, cloudy, stormy.  It's the teenage portion of the year.  And maybe that's what I'm going through is a Spring all of my own, a change of season in my life and heart that I wasn't even aware of just at first.  Maybe I'm being April-ish too.  I'm not unhappy, nor sad, but the desire to just lay my head in my arms and cry my heart out has hit me daily for the past two weeks at least.  I'm not unwell, nor upset.  I'm not depressed or even slightly deep blue. Maybe it's just overwhelm at this lovely season, a season of blessings.

We found a synagogue a couple of weeks ago and visited and today we were back.  It feels comfortable. The place is friendly but not overwhelmingly clingy friendly nor so distant that they leave you feeling snubbed either. But we're holding off on full commitment.  I think this time we're going to do a little courting before we settle in.  We've been in or we've been out for all these years in one place or another, working hard, and worked harder, trying to hang on to some sort of  balance and losing,  but a sounder saner reasoning has grown in us over the past year.  Still, I greet these Shabat mornings that we are synagogue bound with gladness.  "I was glad when they said, 'Come and let us go to the house of the Lord.' "  But it's so much more than just that.

A Year of Savings: 2013

April 8:  We wanted to make an investment in our health.  To that end, after months of just talking about it, we began to look at a piece of exercise equipment this past weekend in store and then online.  We found a great bargain on line but after reading reviews on two different machines one thing was obvious: Size was everything.  One complained a piece of equipment was far too short for his longer legs (not a problem in our house) but we were concerned about reach for our shorter legs.  Another common complaint was that the machine was too narrow between the seat and handlebars so the elliptical feature was difficult.  "Perhaps when I lose weight," the review ended.  Well that hit us hard.  We were wanting to buy the equipment to use, not to sit about until we lost it!

We agreed that we'd go back to the store and 'try on' the pieces we were most interested in.  I'm so glad that we did!  We discovered that one piece of equipment was not nearly as stable as it appeared.  Another had plenty of room...too much room!  I had to bend double with the seat in the nearest position to reach the handle bars.  In the end we found a third piece that was, as Goldilock's tale goes, "Just right."  We came home and ordered the item online, a less expensive option than returning to the city with our truck to pick it up.  Shipping was just $8, a savings of $20 in gasoline for us.

As we walked about the store we found some good buys on clothing that John was in desperate need of.  I also took time to peek at the outdoor furnishings.  We've been just longing to get furniture for our patio but zowsa!  The table and chairs were over $300 and lightweight stuff, apt to blow away on our windy hilltop.  Coming back through town, I craned my neck and looked hard at the Once a Month yard sale.  I spied a patio table and four chairs.  When John said he was coming back to town with the truck to get gas for the lawnmower I asked to ride along and go back to the yard sale.

Weekly Menu

The weather is awesome.  Breezy, temperatures just right.  The breeze sounds wonderful in the leaves.  Every year that sound takes me by surprise the first time I hear it it rustle through.  It's sounds like moving water to me.  The sky is the most incredible blue, different from the blue in October, but just as intense.  Sigh.  All I want to do is sit outdoors and daydream, soak up the sun...and sneeze. Lol.  There is a fly in my lovely ointment.

I sat on the back deck Friday morning sipping my first coffee.  I took a photo of the lilies, pansies, daffodils and snapdragons in the pots with their lovely colors and sent it to Amie.  She bewailed the 12 inches of snow they are due to receive today.  Poor baby.  She needs Spring to hurry along.

We have a full week ahead of us.  I'll clean and prep my shopping lists today and tomorrow.  Tuesday is errands day.  I mean to buy petunias that day for the pots, as the pansies are fading very quickly now.  Wednesday we have eye appointments, Thursday we shop for groceries and Friday we must get ourselves ready for Shabat.  Our two youngest are coming down to do car repairs for Miss Katie.  Big news is they are each bringing a guest.  We're about speechless over that fact, so the pressure is on to put the house in order and be in an entertaining frame of mind.  We want to make a good impression, lol.

Iced Tea Chat...Spring!

The temperatures crept over 85F today.  It feels as though Spring has come to stay.  The pecan tree out back sprouted tiny leaves over night.  Pecan trees are the last trees to leaf out in our area.  Even The Faith Tree has tiny green leaves.  I am afraid the pansies will soon be history.  I'm planning to buy some petunias next pay period when I have a fresh supply of allowance.  I'm pretty broke at the moment.

Broke, yes, but with good reason.  I found a patio table and four chairs at the Once A Month yard sale in town this week and purchased them at a very good price.  This is an old fashioned heavy iron mesh set, of the same quality as those two chairs I got from Grandmama's home years ago.  I couldn't be more pleased, even if it took my allowance and a bit more to get them.

John and I were inspired last month when we sat on the patio at a nearby Subway shop.  We agreed that we enjoyed that time outdoors and liked eating meals outdoors (our habit of picnics attests to that), so why weren't we doing this at home?  We have a porch, a deck and a patio for goodness sake and we only ever use one as a passage way to the back door, the other to sit outdoors on the occasional evening in warmer months, and the patio never.  So now we have a table and chairs on the patio.  I'll purchase an umbrella to go over the table too, but Faith Tree shades most of that area so it should be very nice even without the umbrella.

Of course, that slightly battered patio set has my mind racing creatively: what color shall I paint it and what color cushions shall I get?  Plain or patterned? And the umbrella?  The same question applies there as well.  How to arrange potted plants and where to acquire the pots needed and what types of plants and...Well you can see how I've run on in my own mind and here, too, over all these things!

Spring did seem to be taking forever to arrive and even as I enjoy these first warm days.  It will stay in the 80's with only the occasional shower of rain this week.  I think Spring in the South is here to stay.

A Year of Savings: 2013

April 1:  John and I were discussing things this morning.  "We should just take our savings and do all the work on the house, pay off that car loan and then we can sit here and start fresh!"  Yep, you can bet he got my attention all right.  And then I remembered what day it was!  I started breathing again after that.

Spent more time than I ought to have going over sales sheets, looking over coupons and getting them in order.  That's what I get for watching a few episodes of  Extreme Couponing  Well it did pay off, I found a free items hidden in the sales sheets.  And yes, I do mean to go shopping for those items.  By the way, if you click the link above you can watch program episodes.

I carefully read an email from CVS instead of just assuming it was advertising and deleting.  I discovered that I had ECB that could be added to my card.  Savings $5.

It's been very warm lately, as in needing to use the AC sort of warm.  I decided to offset the cost in two ways: I changed the filter which helped the air to move more freely and I use the fan only feature in the evening and early morning when outdoor temperatures have cooled down.  That way we're only using the AC for a few hours each afternoon.  I'll use this same method on really mild mornings in the summer, too.

Made pancakes and sausage for breakfast.  I purposely cooked the whole box of sausages.  Then I told my husband that the sausage on our plates were all that we would be eating. I have plans for another breakfast that includes those.  savings $1.00

Fed the dogs some food scraps from our meals over the weekend.

Menu Plan for Spring

The weather outside is Springlike once more, after a couple of chilly rainy days at the end of last week.  We went visiting yesterday and the ride was made that much more pleasant by the site of dogwood, redbud, azalea, and cherry trees along with that soft gentle new green of leaves starting to show upon many of the trees.

I woke a little late this morning, to a world riddled with sunshine, dew, birdsong and the most beautiful blue skies.  SIGH!  It's nice to see Spring has finally arrived.  Mosquitoes, too.  I got bitten twice last night while the dogs ate.  John's planning to mow the lawn today, first time for this year.  I think we had to mow in February last year due to the unexpected heat wave that hit us and shoved Spring away in about one and half weeks.  I like this slow easing into a season myself, despite the pollen.

Trouble is, weather like this has me thinking all sorts of thoughts: mulch, plants, new curtains, paint, etc.  I mean to stick to my Back to Basics plan but I can see that will be a huge challenge if this keeps up.  One just naturally wants to spruce everything else up to look as pretty as it does all outdoors.

As I said earlier I was up late this morning.  John took one look at me and knew without a doubt he would be waiting a bit longer for breakfast as I was definitely on a two cup coffee call before I was going to be sensible, lol.  Bless the man he got busy rattling pots and pans and made quite a nice breakfast for us of omelets, fried Spam (no Ews allowed we LIKE Turkey Spam!), and toast.  So nice to be pampered by the man of the house while the coffee took effect.

Big late breakfast and plans to mow the lawn, there's no need for a big heavy meal.  I had a prepared entree in the freezer that I'll heat and add salad.  One meal down, six more to go...

In My Home This Week: All Routine