Questions, Answers and Comments, Oh My!
Glenda made a comment on my first post of the month and flattered me when she said she'd spent two hours reading past posts. You are welcome to stop by just any time Glenda. Thirty-eight years of genealogy research! I have thoroughly enjoyed doing this work and can see many years of pleasure from it. I have, at the moment worked on my own family and have nearly filled a notebook with notes. I confess that sometime I just sit and read different stories/bios from other sites as I'm researching or read excerpts from hundred year old (or older) newspapers and get lost in a different time and place as I'm doing so.
Sarah comments often and there's always a little gleaning to be gotten from her comments. Please go read how she makes good use of pork roast/boneless chops...
The first frugal post of the month brought a number of comments, too. Rebecca and Rhonda noted they don't strictly follow expiration dates. Normally I'm not nearly so keen on them myself. I tend to go by smell and appearance first and second and taste, third. I'm not inclined to throw foods away simply because they are expired by some unknown manufacturer's dating system. However, since the baby foods were not being used in my household (I'd tried putting some in muffin batter and again in pancake batter and it didn't turn out well at all), I decided to toss the food that was expired and sent the unexpired food to my niece to use for her baby. None of my grandbabies will be baby food eating age until those two jars are nearly a year past expiration.
Judith thank you for stopping by!
Kathy it was a very happy belated birthday. I enjoyed it a great deal!
Sarah: We have lines outdoors and a tension rod in the laundry area doorway. There's another in the guest bath and we have a drying rack, so there's plenty of space to dry clothes. John prefers to use the dryer these days for underthings and sheets he uses at work but we hang the majority of our clothes to dry in one or all of these spaces.
The movies were found at Dollar General stores. Most of the Dvds in envelopes are $2.95, the Treasure Hunt ones (such as Cranford) were under $5 I think. They were in a cardboard box type cover. I am still nosing about and found another movie the other day at a different store. I'll be stopping to see what other stores have as I'm in their areas.
The rewards system for getting work done was mentioned by Sarah on this post's comments. I am very familiar with that system. I use it myself. I'll allow myself a time limit for a stretch of work (say 1 hour) and I'll reward myself with a half hour or so of computer or reading time or to watch a program (such as Pioneer Woman) and then I'll work at quick tasks during commercials and go right back to another stretch of work for an hour after that break time is over. It keeps me going, allows me time to rest and think about where I am in my chores and what else needs to be done. It also allows me to judge how tired I am getting and what tasks will best fit my remaining energy. Some days I can go all day long and others I'm done within a couple or three hours.
Joanne commented that my menus are fairly simple and don't use exotic ingredients and she's right. I prefer to use pantry basics as they give me more mileage for my money than fancy ingredients will. If I'm going to use something extra I try to have a plan for it. Like the cardamom I picked up a couple of years ago to make a specific dish with. I've found cardamom is a nice accent to molten lava cakes and I found a handful of recipes this week that call for it, none of them odd or strange but simple enough. I'll be trying them too as I use this lovely flower-y spice.
Lena commented on last month's Q&A post that heavy draperies found at thrift stores are also a good source of upholstery quality material...and she's perfectly right. I just hadn't thought of it!
On the same post doe853 noted that while the electric company doesn't lower their rates, she has found it worthwhile to find ways to lower her usage at home. I agree. There are many things we don't use often or are very careful about. Because our water is run by well pump, I am very conscious that when I take a shower we are using both electricity and water. I've learned a 5 minute shower is entirely possible even if you take time to shave. I noted the other day that the air dry button on my dishwasher was turned off. I suspect little fingers hit that button when they last visited. Reminder to myself to check that feature next time they leave.
Pam also noted that her electric co-op sent out a notice that charges for them were federally mandated. This is true. I believe it was 2012 that some regulations were meant to change in 2014 that would increase costs overall. I even commented on it here in the blog and the average user at that time was to see a rise of about 1/3 in their costs, or something like that. I haven't dug back into my posts to find it. I do recall wondering how the elderly who so often live on a fixed amount each month would handle that increase.
We will adjust. I expect we will reduce where we can but will still end up paying a bit more overall. The last two bills were more what we would expect to pay for summertime costs here, not winter costs. I can't imagine how much summer electric costs are going to run. I won't be living without AC simply because the indoor temperatures in our house get ridiculously high due to lack of cross currents. I suppose we'll go back to our old ways of open windows in early mornings with fans pulling in the cool shady air from the west side and putting up heat shields in the west windows come afternoon. I am also planning to add heavy duty shades to the windows this year, though I might have to work my way through the house one window at a time due to cost. These would be an upgrade from our current blinds.
When I mentioned not finding the movie John wanted to see in this post several of you mentioned Netflix. Last week they sent me a request to come back as their customer and the email also mentioned their dvd services. The movie John wanted to see is on it's way and there are three others he's mentioned wanting to watch in my queue as well. The rates haven't changed since I left them two years ago either, which is refreshing.
Sarah mentioned a drought affecting nut crops in the comments on that same post. No clue where that drought is. In Georgia we are back up to full aquifers and have had an overage of rain. Because Georgia is produces pecans as a main agricultural crop many orchards have drop irrigation systems installed as well so the drought doesn't affect them as much as it might in other places. I am hopeful that we will see good production on our pecan tree this next autumn.
When I posted the Modern Home Economist this month on basic cooking skills, Angela noted that many food stamp recipients could benefit from such classes. I agree. Any homemaker can benefit! I still learn things I didn't know. My oldest daughter went through a long period of time in which she was on food stamps. She knew how to cook and used her funds to buy basic foods and they managed fairly well. I say fairly because being young she wanted to try some expensive foods that were not in our household when she was growing up and I think she might have better used her foodstamps in simple basic foods. I have known three young women who used foodstamps as a necessity. Two were cooks who used their skills. My daughter, as said, did fairly well. One girl usually had some of her foodstamps leftover at the end of each month and she used that to stock up on basic pantry items. The third girl preferred to use hers on convenience and junk foods and usually ran out of funds before the end of the month. She relied on family and friends to provide meals for her at that point.
I will say about the mashed potatoes Pam that this particular recipe calls for hot milk as the liquid. For years now I've seen many and many a chef or how-to for mashed potatoes using the hot milk method. NEVER did we. Nope, not at all. Nowadays the big 'new' thing for super tasty mashed potatoes? Reserving and using some of the cooking water as the liquid. Well hey, that's how I was taught to make them years and years ago and how my great grandmother's made them, too! It was a frugal thing for us all. At best we might add a tiny bit of evaporated milk to make the potatoes 'creamy' but that was reserved for special meals not our daily ones.
When I mentioned making two or three types of cupcakes for us from a single batch, Dorie responded that she was banging her head on her desk for not thinking of it...Well now Dorie you just stop that. That's exactly why we share so that we can all learn something new no matter how many old tricks we already know! Not only do I make up different cupcakes, but I sometimes make two or three single layer cakes and freeze them to frost in different ways. It's much more suited to TWO or two and company for a single meal than a great huge layer cake.
Sarah I have made sausage at home several times. I haven't yet found a recipe that is just right, but some versions I've done are pretty tasty. I try to keep some ground turkey or chicken on hand at all times to use for homemade sausage just in case I can't find any at the store. I can't say there's any savings over the store stuff, as it costs almost the same in most instances. And you are right that it used to be inexpensive but no longer is. There are some cuts of meat that apparently have fallen from favor. I've asked butcher's in vain for them and been told, Nope sorry we don't have that particular cut any longer. Like Round steak. I used to substitute round steaks for sirloin. If tenderized it could broil up nicely as a steak dinner. If cut and simmered a long time for Swiss steak or Rouladen it was a lovely tender fall apart cut. And if you asked the butcher to cube twice you couldn't tell the difference between it and the pricier cubed steak (which is usually sirloin). No more. Not even the lovely butchery has it... Beef Shanks are another meat that have fallen from favor but are lovely and tender if you can get them and every bit as good as short ribs with a lot less fattiness. Oh well. Perhaps they will one day return to favor.
Rebecca it was a VERY large chicken breast half like a very young turkey breast, lol. And yes, it really did serve us two servings each! Remember it's just the two of us here and no hollow legged children to feed, lol.
Amanda asked about the water evaporation method of adding moisture to the air in the house. I turn the burner on very low and allow the kettle to simmer without a lid. I let it go all day long and keep an eye on it so that it's refilled as it evaporates. In my youth, Mama would place a tin can of water inside the front of the propane heater or atop the coal stove to evaporate. And as Sarah noted in her comment hanging clothes to dry indoors also helps. By the way everybody, click on Amanda's name to go visit her blog.
I was just reading through this menu plan before moving down into the comments area. A few menu posts ago it was mentioned that a certain husband was spontaneous and menu plans went by the way side...I guess that's what happened that week because I don't think I made a single meal from that menu...humph. All that lovely planning. Made me aware too of how much food we have on hand since all those ingredients are pretty much still in the pantry or freezer.
I spoke of finding my fulfillment in homemaking in the last Coffee Chat post. I realize that many women still are 'at home' rather than in the work force. I don't know what statistics are but I will say that in rural areas at least it's prone to feel a bit lonely. I don't run into many women who are full time stay at home wives or moms. I do find my community in blogland.
On one forum a woman was very adamant that displaced homemakers (through divorce or death) were a huge force of unemployed, unprepared women. I don't know about any of you, but I've thought about how I'd manage if something happened to John. I do have an idea of how well I can/can't handle things. I have ideas about how to close the gap between what income I'd have and what I wouldn't. I'm not blind to the fact that this is a possibility. It is one of the reasons we have worked so hard to be debt free.
John asked me several years ago, "If I died, could you handle our current debt load on your own?" One obvious idea that is widely promoted is a life insurance policy. For some that might be a possible solution. For us, it wasn't. We simply couldn't afford any more fees at the time we discussed this situation and so we set out to make sure that we were good stewards of the money that came into our household. It's why we're careful to maintain house and furnishings and vehicles. It's why I continue to practice hard the frugal things of running a household.
Yes, there is a possibility, given some scenarios wherein I might need to support myself. Thanks to the planning and carrying out of those plans we've made, should that day arrive I can afford an entry level or lower income, even part time job, rather than a full time paid position. It's one of the reasons John has supported me wholeheartedly in my flea market venture. It behooves all of us who are stay at home moms and wives to look seriously at all possibilities of what our future might hold and plan for it. The odds are nothing will be ideal, but it will be do-able. That I can handle.
This frugal week post netted a few remarks. Sarah noted that grapes can be dehydrated....and so they can. Frozen, too. Rhonda thought pimento cheese sounded good. My recipe is super simple and I hate to even call it a recipe: grated sharp cheese, diced pimentos and mayonnaise. I know there are many variations some of which include cooking the cheese with milk, etc. My big secret is straight from Mama's kitchen: add a tiny bit of the pimento 'juice' to the cheese mixture.
Courtney commented on how much she often asked herself the question if something was worth the time her husband spent working to earn it. I do that often, too. It's surprising how, when I do take that extra moment to do that, I often answer, "Why no, it's not worth the effort he put into earning that bit."
Rebecca each survey with Pinecone research earns 300 points or $3. It took about two months to earn that $27 but I think it was worth it. I find that survey groups like this do tend to sort of hold back on surveys once you've cashed in but eventually they start flowing through once again.
When I wrote my thoughts on what the Bible says about frugality I was pleased to note that God had placed this same subject on other's minds. Those of you who wrote said it was a timely post for you and I am glad that I took the time to hear what God had to say to me so that I could share it.
The last Modern Home Economist Post was all about good grooming. Sarah shared a fun memory of a friend's mom who poked them in the back when they slumped...I heard often enough from Granny to stop slouching. I confess that I spy many a round shouldered young lady these days and I have to bite my tongue to stop myself from suggesting they 'stand up straight'!
There is a fine line to walk in the grooming department as in any other. Most articles such as this truly are more centered around proper posture and cleanliness for a very good reason: it affects health. Recall the torturous corsets of the 1800s which compressed the organs, caused spine and rib malformations and affected circulation and breathing. Posture can also affect those things. How we stand or walk can affect hip, knee and ankle alignment and as we age that can affect pain levels. Did you know that? There's something to that old song about the ankle bone being connected to the leg bone, to the thigh bone, to the hip bone!
My last post of the month was a Frugal Friday post. Sarah asked if I'd keep you all informed of my inspiration idea and how I reused...If only I could remember, lol! Just like John asking me today what I'd said we should use those Command Hooks for. We were standing before a huge display of them, and he said "I remember it was a really good idea..." and that's as far as either of our memories would stretch. Well how about a consolation inspiration? I had an old picture I picked up months and months ago in my thrifting and I set it aside for myself, even though I had no place to use it. It just happens to be a wonderful piece for the bathroom.
The last milk I bought last month was $2.99/gallon. I've no idea what we paid for it when we shopped today...I was so stunned by costs overall (and most especially bread! Oh MY!) that we just paid for our foodstuffs and left in silence. I am going to try really hard to keep the next grocery time very much below our usual budget to make up for today's spending.
Courtney, I do not have a great memory for my frugal work all week long. I try to document daily and save my post after each addition. Otherwise you'd all have no idea how I save money each week except washing out zippered baggies!
Karla, I think I answered your question earlier this week about the wall board in our bath. It is paper covered. We used Kilz and then one coat of paint. It worked very well. We also used a paint specifically meant for baths and kitchens, which we bought at Lowe's. NOT Valspar brand which we have not had any luck with.
Rebecca, Yes, I do have a flea market booth. I have held this dream for many years and it involves only a little effort on my part and I mean that sincerely. I go out a couple of times a month and gather from various yard sales/thrift stores the items that speak to me. I try to limit myself to my personal allowance each month and spend no more than $50 for booth rent and items in it. It is a nice outing for me now that I'm a sahw and no longer actively parenting as I tend to be a bit of a hermit. I have consistently made rent each month except for the very first one when I started. I stopped by today and picked up another check and was shown my page for this month, which is already in the black...
And that's it for last month's posts. Thank you all for taking time to ask questions or share observations. I do appreciate it!