My Week of Living Frugally and Well: September 20 -26
Saturday: Easy meal and nothing fussy about it on this Shabat morning. It's my gift to myself, to have one morning of bagels and cream cheese...Or in my case one pop tart and a cheese cube. Poptarts are not really frugal are they? Nor are they especially good for you but I buy a 12 pack of unfrosted poptarts on sale and then I eke them out over several months. I eat one about every two-three weeks. Just one. Not because of a calorie savings, nor because of saving money but simply because I like having that little treat to look forward to. This morning was my morning. Enjoyed it mightily.
Made a meatloaf out of 1 pound of ground chuck. I had a little onion in the fridge and so I chopped that. About 1/4 onion to season both meatloaf and potatoe casserole for our dinner. For the meat loaf, I fiinished off the last of a bottle of steak sauce mixed with as much catsup, the bit of onion, some bread crumbs, an egg, a bit of milk. This made enough for six generous slices, so I figure we'll get another meal and perhaps sandwichs for supper one night off this little meat loaf. That's 1 meal more than I'd have gotten had I merely made burgers.
I mused a bit as I made bread crumbs for the meatloaf. I used end pieces of bread from the freezer, and grated them on the box grater. Why? Because I didn't want to drag out the blender and I don't own a food processor. I'm really not much of one for appliances...I've found I get a fine crumb if the bread is frozen and I grate. It takes a little physical effort but it's a good all purpose kitchen tool. I also grate hard boiled eggs for egg salad, a bit of onion when I don't want even minced onion (for making salad dressings or certain meat dishes), aside from grating cheese and any fruits and vegetables.
Made a potato casserole using one nice sized Yukon gold potato, a bit of onion, the last of the sour cream and about 1/2 cup frozen/thawed mushroom soup and some grated cheddar. I was surprised that just one potato made so much. It was more than enough for the two of us.
It was muggy this morning in the house, but we used oscillating fans to stir the air. It wasn't cool enough outdoors to open windows.
Sat down this afternoon and determined what next week's menus will be for all three meals. I'm finding my day to day meals take a lot of my time, combined with clearing up behind them. I want to use more time for home projects so I looked at how I might streamline things. Still working on that time saving aspect.
food waste: 1 cup of cheese sauce. Can't even remember how long ago I made it but in excess of three weeks I'm sure.
Was feeling frustrated over my lack of progress in making the guest/craft room look nice. I sat down wiht a magazine this afternoon and came across this quote from Nate Berkus: Decorating isn't an instant pastime or quick fix--you need to go out and search for things you really love and fill your home with objects that have meaning to you. Great style is achievable on any budget. I don't know if my room will have great style, but I do want it to be personal and reflect my own tastes and be welcoming and comfortable for those who stay with us. So I'm giving myself permission to take time, both in the sense that I have time to find things, but also to give time to the search for what I want/need to make this room come together. That means I stick to my low budget and don't just fill the room with so much more stuff as opposed to finishing it properly.
Sunday: Made breakfast for John before he left for work, then packed the lunchbag.
My breakfast was frozen leftovers of French toast with turkey bacon. So convenient to pop the toast into the toaster...and an idea of how I might streamline breakfasts at my house for weekdays!
Used a cardboard carton and many layers of newspaper to tamp down the flowering weeds that had returned to the cleared iris bed. I put a bag of mulch down too. I'll continue work on that tomorrow. I do not want to upset the knee that has only just begun to feel normal once more.
Lovely cooler morning temperatures made the day a joy to work outdoors in. I can't claim I had any hand in that but it certainly did offset the need to use AC or fans to cool down after work.
I've been using a plain tray on the counter as my coffee station. It's not really what I want, but it's what I have at this time...so I wanted it to look prettier. The tray has natural wood sides and a white melamine type bottom. I found some pretty contact paper in the armoire, just enough to dress that tray bottom up a little bit. It doesn't have to be permanent, just different for now, and it suits me perfectly at present.
Noted there were no photos of the newest babies on the fridge at all, so I took time to print off some of the photos on my computer and updated grandchildren photos. I had all I needed on hand including magnetic frames.
Ate a single entree item from the freezer as my lunch. Just heated in the microwave.
Shopped at home and 'bought' decaf coffee, pancake mix, buttermilk from the freezer.
Swapped a bedroom lamp for a problem lamp in the living room.
Put parts to fix lamps on my shopping list. I think I now have three lamps that need to be rewired.
Realized I can swap parts from one to another to make one whole lamp right now without buying a thing.
Balanced checkbook this evening. Found a vendor error on my statement. Ugh. Why are there no phone numbers any more to call businesses?
Monday: Made a trip to the store to try to get the error fixed. Some success...They agree it was their error and they agree they owe me the money back. There's just a process time that must take place. I am so grateful we don't live hand to mouth any longer. I thought about that as all this got worked out today. I am in a much better place financially than I was 15 years ago.
I may have made a menu plan but a trip out of town wasn't included in that plan. I sort of mixed things up and made up a chicken burrito. I used leftover chicken to make the dish.
I used leftover salad from John's work lunch for our salad at dinner today.
Made German chocolate cupcakes for snacking/desserts this week. The recipe makes 24, but I felt that was far too many, so I made 1 dozen and poured the remaining batter into a cake pan and made a single layer. I halved the recipe for the frosting and that thought was spot on. I had enough for the dozen cupcakes and to put on the single layer cake. When the cake was cool, I wrapped well and put in the freezer. The frosting is one that freezes well.
Worked on a project this afternoon and evening. It involved a pair of curtains I'd purchased at a thrift store and discovered were marred only after I got them home and a needlepoint seat cover that didn't sell in my booth. It was a blessed sewing session without one hitch. Another one or two of these and I might well just fall in love with sewing all over again, lol. I've finished one project on my list of making the craft/guest room a prettier place.
Hemmed a pair of jeans...I don't remember if I mentioned but I bought these jeans for $10 at a discount merchandiser a couple of weeks ago. They are black and will extend my wardrobe several times over.
Opened what I thought was junk mail from a diy store. Whoopee! It had a $10 off $50 purchase, just in time for Fall plants and my next installment of blinds.
Tuesday: Haircut this morning. I save a few dollars by washing my hair before I leave home. Dampening hair with a spray bottle works as well, and saves time as well as money. Since it was a 'new' cut, working with a growing out pixie, I let her style it as well, but if weather is inclement, I will skip that step, too.
Skipped going to Dollar Store and grocery when I realized I was feeling spendy. I didn't need a single thing, simply wanted extras and in my mood, those would have added up.
Came home and made a quick dinner. I made the Cranberry Chicken dish in the oven this time. The sauce was leftover from the last time I made the recipe. There was 1 1/2 cups left in the pan when it finished baking, far too much, in my opinion, to simply throw away. It was the perfect amount for today's chicken. When I make this recipe in future, I will decrease the amounts so there are not a lot of leftovers. There was no harm to the taste of the dish using the sauce a second time around.
Used up a double handful of sugar snap peas to make a side dish.
Learned it from Grandmama: when you want snowy mashed potatoes add a tablespoon or two of mayonnaise to the mashed potatoes. It lightens the texture, brings out a slightly different flavor and whitens the potatoes beautifully. You can skip the butter, too.
It was warm in the house this afternoon but we opted to turn on fans and not lower the AC though it was mighty tempting.
Washed a full load of dishes, a very full load. I added in the burners from the stove which I try to do every few weeks.
Washed a full load of clothes, too. I hadn't meant to do laundry today but spilled about a half cup of coffee on the cream slipcover on my chair. I pre-treated the coffee stain. Hung all I could to dry, but the slipcover had to go into the dryer. It wouldn't fit on the line.
Timed the slipcover to make sure I didn't forget it.
Prepped John's work lunch for tomorrow.
Mixed up tuna fish salad. I always add a bit of finely minced (or grated) apple, which cuts the acidity of the tuna fish and makes it more digestible. It also happens to extend the salad.
Gave dog and cat the treat of the chicken skin from Monday's makeover dish. It helped stretch their foods.
Wednesday: Store corrected error on my account...and made another. They refunded too much money. Another trip to the store in order. We plan to go in that direction to have oil changed in the next day or so and will go by the store then. In the meantime, I'm keeping my fingers crossed someone will catch that error and correct it again.
Packed John's lunch, made him breakfast.
Made a brief mental shopping list, dependent upon what Mama wanted to do. As it happened, she wanted to look at Fall plants. I had the blind I needed to swap and the receipt, so I readily agreed to that. I made the trade for a new, unopened blind, then went out to the garden center.
When I dressed this morning, I put on the black jeans, a new sleeveless chiffon top and knowing I'd likely need a sweater of some sort, dug through the donation bag and pulled out the black crochet shrug I'd just put in the bag. I'll rethink that donation because that was just the right weight to wear today without getting too warm.
I wanted a necklace to fill in the neckline of my blouse. Realized the long necklace I had on could be caught up at the back and made to look shorter. It worked beautifully and I realized how versatile this piece is going to prove to be.
I bought five small pots of mums for each that were not blooming but full of buds, 2-12 packs of pansies, and 8 snapdragons. The snapdragons were from the clearance racks. Did you know that Lowe's has a plant clearance rack? Lots of them at the moment, as a matter of fact and they included all sorts of plants that will continue to bloom in temperate climates. The snapdragons had buds but had apparently already bloomed and were looking worse for wear. I know they will revive nicely. I'll go back in a couple of weeks or so and get more pansies.
It was my turn to be treated for dinner today. Normally I'd buy us a small ice cream for dessert, but today was 'free pie' Wednesday. I told Mama I'd buy dessert the next time we're out when it's my turn to buy dinner.
The gas man came today and filled the tank. It really couldn't have come at a better time as we'll have the 'third' pay period in this month which means over the next six weeks we'll have bits of extra money which we can use to apply to the charge. We won't get gas next month and probably not in November either unless we have a really cold autumn.
Made myself a single cup of coffee this afternoon. When we go to Kingsland there are complimentary coffee pods to make individual cups of coffee. There are usually as many pods as there are adult guests in the room, in our case, two. We always bring home the decaf pods. I used one of those this afternoon when I made coffee.
I was restless this evening. I wanted to finish the project at the back door step while I am feeling so much better and was so near finished...which led to planting a bunch of pots....which led to a lot of work, lol. I mixed the new plants with older ones, so there's a mix of old and new snapdragons and old and new mums.
Ate lunch leftovers for supper. It was nice to walk in the house this evening and just wash my hands and microwave the leftovers.
Listened to/watched the sermon from last week's sermon posted by our church.
Thursday: A light drizzly rain today and cool air certainly put the spin on farewell summer, hello autumn! I decided that menu plans are fine and well but the first day for Chili was here. I used 1/2 pound of meat, the remaining black beans from our burrito meal on Monday and a can of chili beans. This made enough chili to serve four over rice, another way to extend the meal. We had leftovers enough for another serving each.
Today is a Holy Day for us. We don't do any heavy duty work on this day so naturally there's little to report as savings or spendings either one.
Friday: Did the bulk of the cleaning this morning before we left. I cleaned our baths. I use a dollar store type powdered cleaner for the toilets. When I opened the can, I pull off the sticky tab, then stick it back on and leave only 3 holes uncovered. I never lack for enough powder and if the can tilts over I lose very little.
We batched errands today. Took off trash on our way out and then made three stops. John went to get a haircut and I went into grocery. I shopped carefully at the grocery and just picked up the necessary items. Tempted by many things, I succumbed to a bright red pepper. It wasn't cheap but I've been craving red pepper for a while now...
John bought us dinner out from his allowance. We couldn't finish our meal so we brought home leftovers. Our waiter pointed out we could get a soda and our dinner as a lunch special which lowered the cost. He suggested, since we had ordered another drink to go with the meal, that we take our sodas to go.
One of our errands was to get the oil changed in the car. This came from a sub account within our checking account, so no added expense to us.
Had to buy pet food today. Took along coupons. I found the food on sale.
Supper was our lunch leftovers.
Sometimes, living well isn't about having just exactly what you want but making do until the day you can get nearer the inspiration. That was something I really struggled with this month. I have a vision for my guest/craft room and of the back flower bed that I've just finished working upon. I have a bare bones sort of budget. It's not going to be possible to have exactly the room or yard I want on my budget. I am at a stand still. Not only is my budget small, my resources are limited. I sat in the guest/craft room this past week and looked about me and I felt I was knocking my head against a brick wall. I decided that clearing up would help if nothing else could be done just now. That's when I found the needlepoint seat cover I'd purchased for the booth and sat down to examine it...and that led to the realization that I had just been looking at a pair of toile curtains I'd gotten from a thrift store and wondered how on earth I could use the marred set. The toile was the exact same color as the background on the needlepoint. And suddenly I had in my possession two items that would put me one step nearer my dream room.
I had an inspiration photo of what I want the flower beds to look like:
I love old tin...and funky looking groupings. I priced one of those washtubs and stands. O.M.budGetbusters! So when I finished the bed Wednesday evening (using what I had for weed mat i.e. newspaper, cardboard), I gathered some of my pots, old and new plants and created my own bit of junky gardening. One day I might stumble across affordable old pieces but until then, I have this pretty, neat little spot to please my eye.
That's my bit of living well this week. Being creative with what I have and being grateful for the inspirations that come upon me if I stop thinking about what I haven't got.