My Frugal Week - June 28 to July 4
Saturday: I made our dinner in the oven today, even the vegetables. It seemed the most economical and easy way to proceed. I made sure to use the exhaust vent from the beginning to cut down on how much the house heated up.
I used up a dab of sour cream, adding to the scalloped potato dish I made to go with our dinner. I'm going to do that next time I make scalloped potatoes even if I don't need to use up sour cream. It added such a nice richness and creaminess to the dish. I only used about 1 1/2 tablespoons in my two potato dish.
Of late we've been leaving the AC set at one temperature day and night, never moving it up nor down. This has meant the nights are a bit warmer but we're finding that bearable.
Our public libraries are seldom open on the days and times when I'd normally be out of the house. I've been very frustrated lately, wanting to find books to read. I've settled that by choosing a stack of books from my own home shelves to read in the coming month. I will share the titles in my next Afternoon Refresher post.
Breakfast casserole for breakfast and a sizeable vegetable heavy dish for dinner. We decided we'd had plenty to eat today and opted for a late supper/early evening snack of a bowl of cereal. That was just right.
I loved having a special breakfast for Shabat morning. I think I want to make that a sort of tradition for us, to have that little something extra special that I've made ahead during the week. I have a plan for this next Shabat in mind already.
Sunday: John off to work. I packed his lunch and made him breakfast just like always. After Bible study I was hungry and made myself something to eat.
I don't know what material my kitchen counters are made from. It's not stone nor laminate. It's different from anything I've seen. The surface is white which is nice and not nice, all at once. It stains and gets grimy looking after a while. In the past I've bleached it by laying down paper towel and spritzing them with bleach/water mixed properly to both sanitize and whiten. Today, I didn't want to use up my paper towels...So I pulled out the dishwasher detergent bottle. I've found that liquid will bleach things (and remove heavy grease). It worked beautifully. So well that I decided to add it to hot water and mop my white linoleum tile floors. Gorgeous! I've admired them all day, each time I walked into the kitchen.
The shelf above the stove that we attached to the wall seemed to be very loose...and very spotty from greasy film. I removed the shelf, cleaned it and the back splash behind the stove with...what else?..dishwasher detergent! It really took off that hard to scrub away grime and made things look a lot brighter. Discovered the shelf was loose due to too short screws. I found longer ones and then rehung the shelf. Much better!
Spent the afternoon in quiet work. I did not go to town for a paper, nor out for food to eat as I'd planned, nor to shop. I stayed at home.
Used freezer items to make my at home Chinese take-out meal of stir fried vegetables with Chicken Potstickers.
Skipped the afternoon cup of coffee, not on purpose, but realized I'd done so much later in the evening. This is typical of me in summer. I start to cut back my coffee drinking from 3 cups a day to 1.
Monday: Up quite early. My newest grandchild arrived in the wee hours. It's a girl!
John and I talked last night and he'd mentioned he wanted to come home and get his gas can to fill so he could mow. I asked him to text me when he was headed home and I'd greet him at back door as I wanted to pick up sale items at local grocery, check for peaches at local packing shed. I was on the back steps when he came home, a bag of trash by my side, a cup of coffee for him and the shop keys in hand. We also checked mail and filled up his car while we were out.
Not the best price ever, but the lowest lately on Mahatma Yellow Rice. I bought 8 packages and a 12 pack of sale priced toilet paper and a loaf of bread. I didn't walk down any other aisle nor give in to temptations. That's what I went in for and that's what I bought.
Peaches were $.50 less than in years past for the small bags. They looked under ripe and they were downright crispy...I wonder if they were less because I'd have to wait for them to ripen? Peaches are one of the few fruits which may be picked a little under ripe and then will ripen if kept at room temperature.
John got a half dozen honey buns in the gas station store. They were selling them 3/$1 which is a good price. We put some in the freezer.
Called Mama to share baby news and she reminded me I'd promised to take her to eye doctor this afternoon. Good thing I called. I was about to start a major project. No time! Shelved that idea and started work on my 3rd quarter budget sheet.
Mama and I stopped at the pharmacy in the town we were in to fill her prescription. I stayed in the car out of temptation's way.
Stretched a pound of ground beef with bread crumbs soaked in milk, a little onion, shredded carrot and an egg to bind it all. I managed a nice sized meat loaf with plenty of leftovers for sandwiches or a second meal.
Found two cans of tomato paste just past best by date on pantry shelf. I opened them and portioned and flash froze. When I need tomato paste I'll just drop a disc of it into the dish I'm preparing.
July 1: Today marks the first day of my Nothing Extra month. This is an effort to cut down on discretionary spending and generally pull the sagging balance up a notch or two. I've a few obligations I must meet this month that are extras: a hair cut, a birthday, a trip to see my southerly grandchildren, and I plan to look for a pair of jeans which I am in desperate need of...but thrift stores are not on my list this month, nor bookstores, or walks in any store just to look, or garden centers or any of the other places where I'm tempted to spend. Extra trips made into the grocery are out, too. I'm tightening the purse strings for this month.
I realized yesterday when I started to make my meatloaf that I'd forgotten to buy fresh garlic. I looked in my pantry and found a bottle of garlic powder. Not my first choice but it will suffice until grocery day.
Needed some hand lotion. I've just tossed two empty bottles and my third was very low. I walked into the guest bath and rediscovered the stash of travel sized bottles I'd put in that bathroom for our guests to use. I have hand lotion to spare.
John went out to mow before dinner. I decided I needed to switch up my menu to suit his appetite after that hot job. I made Tuna Pasta salad. I added in some of all the vegetables in the fridge and just one can of drained tuna to an 8 ounce box of elbow macaroni. Cool and tasty.
I had to take Mama to another appointment this afternoon, a specialist in the city this time. I brought along a thermal glass of ice, a bottle of water, and my book.
The doctor performed some minor surgery on Mama's eye. Not what we expected today. We thought she was there for pre-op and we'd go back on Wednesday. The doctor told her the eye just looked too painful to wait another day. I had to change plans slightly. She needed to get another prescription filled and obviously wasn't going to drive home from my house as planned. This time I had to go into the drugstore for her. It was hard not to look about while I waited, nor to not pick up something to snack on, since it was well past our supper times. I reminded myself of my challenge and held myself in check.
Mama asked me to take her by a fast food place for her supper and offered to treat John and I to supper too...I accepted. I had been wracking my brain trying to decide what we should have at that late an hour that I could quickly repair when I got home.
July 3: Another work morning for John. I made his breakfast, packed him a lunch.
After John left this morning I got busy. So busy I completely forget my promise to have a second cup of coffee this morning. I was hot and tired by 8am so I made myself a mango smoothie using a ripe mango from the fruit basket, some frozen pineapple that I needed to use or toss (why do I save these things so long?!), and some pineapple juice from the pantry. Yum. It was cool and filling. Toast was enough to call it breakfast.
Washed a very large load of clothes today. I stripped my bed and took down the living room curtains. I washed on the heavy cycle which is a little longer and has an extra rinse. I felt the extra water was worth the decreased lint I'd find on the clothes.
Hung sheets and curtains to dry, but put the sheers in the dryer for a few minutes. They were done in no time.
Fed the cat, moistening her food with the liquid from the tuna can yesterday.
Maddie doesn't care for people food really. I need another dog that will eat table scraps, as Trudy used to do. I am portioning them out to the cat and reserving in case my brother's dog stops by to visit.
Finished the 3rd Quarter budget sheet. I was pleased to note that in the past quarter our gasoline usage dropped nearly $30 and I was able to lower that amount on the budget sheet. It almost helped balance that new item added in. We had an extra pay period last quarter but I know we won't this next. I made sure when I averaged our income to drop that amount from the figures I had so I'd have a truer picture of what we're looking at this quarter.
Ate leftovers for my lunch. Not very satisfying but there's now nothing languishing in the nether regions of the fridge to become a science experiment.
Thought I was out of a cornstarch but digging in the cabinet for another item, I found a brand new box. My former container was a plastic jar. I guess I was just confused by the difference in the two containers. Scratched that item off my shopping list for next week.
Thursday: I planned to go into town this morning to check the flea market booth then return home. I bagged trash to take off with me.
I made Challah and left it to rise while I went into town.
I didn't expect John to come along...and I was not at all prepared to spend the next 6 hours running errands! I hadn't even brought along my usual bottle of water. I tried hard to keep my Nothing Extra challenge in mind today, but I did buy a bottle of water at our first stop, which was Tractor Supply. John was looking for a mower battery, but they didn't have the one we needed. He did purchase some RoundUp. That item was covered by one of our sub-accounts.
John went by the car wash to clean our car. It costs about the same as going to the do it yourself place with the vacuuming totally free so we can take our time and go over the car very well. This is budgeted for once a month.
Stop four: John went to get a haircut. The grocery next to his barber is the only place I can buy the Turkey sausage we like best. I always plan to pick that up while in that area. I also bought sodas today, a bag of salad for his work lunch on Sunday, and a bag of ice. John requested I get steaks for our dinner tomorrow as well as baking potatoes. I opted to buy a loaf of bread since I was unsure what state my bread would be in when we finally returned home today. I chose a loaf of bakery bread, on sale for less than standard loaf bread. The steak and potatoes are definitely extra. The remaining items will come from next week's grocery budget. Now to find a way to offset the costs of the extra items.
John offered to buy me lunch. He paid for it from his allowance.
I skipped supper tonight. Our very late lunch and the heat had quelled my appetite.
Baked the Challah when I got home. It was wide and flat. Not sure it will turn out well...
Booked a room for our travel to see the southerly children. I went through Swagbucks. I will earn points 30 days after our stay. I was able to pay with PayPal where I had a $10 credit from surveys I'd taken over the last two months. That's a beginning savings for our extra spent today.
Friday: We typically have small beef sausages and canned cinnamon rolls for any holiday breakfast. We had the sausages and I made my own cinnamon rolls from scratch. That was another small savings and cost us nothing extra.
Went through the fridge and took out everything we weren't likely to use in the next day or so. Those items went into the freezer. I'd rather save for later than have it spoil.
I cooked a small portion of chuck roast to make sandwiches with this coming week.
I was prepping lunch when John asked if Katie was visiting us today. I told him I'd asked her but hadn't got an answer. John told me she'd said on Facebook she was coming...Oops! I needed a meal plan for four not two. After checking with her, I discovered they were only just leaving home at close to noon, so John and I sat down together and discussed possibilities for supper. I suggested we make pizza from scratch. His idea was to make a Steak and Cheese pizza using one of our dinner steaks, while we shared the other steak. I thought it an excellent idea.
I doubled on the salad I was making for dinner.
Used bell peppers and onions from fridge to prep for the pizza.
When I make tea these days, I double that amount, too. I pour up a jar of concentrate for a future pitcher, then make a pitcher for that day.
Typically I use about 3 tablespoons of sugar to a pitcher of tea. I am not a fan of sickly sweet tea.
I needed a dessert to extend our meal for supper. I decided to peel and slice all the peaches we had left from our purchase earlier this week. They had ripened nicely over the week. I didn't have quite enough to make a peach crisp so I dumped in all the remaining blue and black berries I'd frozen last week. It made a beautiful crisp. Tasted good, too.
Our pizza dough covered a big cookie sheet. Katie partially cooked the peppers and onions and added in some fat fruit Italian dressing. I dotted the crust with the garlic Parmesan butter I'd mixed up a couple of weeks ago to make Cheesy Garlic bread. We topped the steak and vegetables with cheese I shredded then baked. John's idea was a very good meal, indeed.
We used the Challah for Shabat this evening. I don't think this loaf is salvageable for much beyond bird feed. It crumbled when we took a piece of it for home communion this evening. I may try to make bread crumbs from some of it.
Sometimes our days get all turned around upside down don't they? I had my week all planned...lol. Some might say that was my biggest mistake. But yes, I planned my week.
Sunday went along just fine. I paced myself well and wasn't overtired. I was tired enough to go right off to sleep Sunday night but then I woke around 1:30 and from there it was sketchy sleep. I was awake at 2:30am when Amie called to say she'd gone into labor and was being prepped for surgery. I stayed awake after that waiting the next phone call. It came about 4:30am. My granddaughter arrived almost two weeks early, an impatient little girl already. After Ben called to tell me all was well and that had a granddaughter, I got up to look at the photos on Facebook. She is so pretty and so tiny.
John was working and since I knew he'd be home fairly early, I chose not to wake him (if indeed he even got a chance to sleep). Facebook beat me to sharing the news. His partner saw the announcement and photos and called him on his way home to congratulate him. We didn't mind in the least, just thought it funny...John called me and laughed and wept. Our hearts were filled with joy.
We had made plans Sunday to run back into town as soon as John got in from work and we managed to do so. We stopped last at the local gas station to fill up the car and the gas can for the mower. I watched as a man with a guitar slung over his shoulder walked across the parking lot to the store next door. I didn't see him come back, but I did hear him when he said to John, "You got a minute?" This man, a complete stranger, immediately began playing his guitar and singing.
If you hear as much guitar as I do you know the sound of a quality instrument and even the sound of good new strings. This man had neither. The guitar was just off tune, the sound of the strings muddy and dull...that was my initial thought. But somehow this less than stellar instrument became a thing of true quality with this man's hands playing and his voice was rich and true. He sang Lynrd Skynrd's 'Simple Man' . When the gas pump clicked off, John said huskily to the man, "Don't stop." He played the full song and blew us away. I was weeping when he finished and John so moved he could barely thank the man...
As it happened it was a hard week this week. Wearing and stressful and just plain hard in too many ways. But we had Monday to carry us through. A lovely new baby in the family, a beautiful summer morning, and one of those lovely rare moments that occur now and then out of the blue, an especial blessing, to carry with us for always.