Questions and Answers and Comments, Oh My!

I started October with a Freezer Challenge.  I realized that no turkey, or any other purchase!, was going to fit in my freezer in November unless I got serious about eating from the freezer.  Several of you offered to join me: Rhonda, Sarah, Linda, Pam, and Glenda...and Maranda had already posted a similar challenge on her blog.  Lena was on a mission to FILL her freezer.  She's expecting twins sometime this month and she needs easy meals for the first weeks.  I'll give her a pass, lol.

I hope you all did well.  I feel I made some headway.  I went through the two chest freezers and defrosted them and organized them.  That meant purchasing baskets for the smaller freezer, something I'd meant to do but put off for too long.  Now I can easily reach in and remove a basket of like items to get to the stuff I want to find. I have a small amount of room in the back freezer, a little more room in the big chest freezer and hope to continue to make a dint this month although I have not issued any challenges for this month.  Every chance I get, I pull something from one of the freezers to use, even if it's a small item, because I figure it's that much more room I shall have for holiday needs.

I mentioned in the Coffee Chat post in early October that I was reading An Everlasting Feast by Tamar Adler.  I am still reading it.  I find I need to take time out and savor it a bit and then I go back and read another bunch of chapters.  I am enjoying it a great deal but hope to finish it up this week.  I want to put some new books before me for November.

Total Eclipse Coffee Chat  Rebecca said there were to be more blood moons in the near future.  Yes there are.  I think two more between now and the end of September 2015.  I very much enjoyed my viewing of the Blood Moon and Eclipse but the photo from St. Augustine was an even better view than I had here.

Annabelle thanked me for posting the link via Brenda's blog about Laine's letters.  I so hope some of you stayed and visited and went back again.  Annabelle's blog, The Bluebirds Are Nesting,  is lovely and she has her 'Feathering My Nest" posts on Fridays which are like my Frugal Friday posts.  It's a lovely place to visit over there.

Joanne, I have the stroganoff soup on my menu for this week...I'm going to give it a trial run and see how it comes out.  This week the weather is just right for a rich hearty soup.

The first Frugal Living post of the month I mentioned I'd read that shampooing after coloring your hair would 'set' the color.  IM asked me about how it was done and the magazine article mentioned just shampooing once after coloring, said it would 'set' the color.  It did no harm, as my hair was a bit darker than I wanted and I thought it might help tone it down if it was wrong information.  It apparently did do something as it didn't lighten there for a week or two longer than usual.  I'm only just now starting to see bits of gray at the edges.  I won't tell anyone this is a tried and true method, but it appears to have worked for me.

Stephanie, my snapdragons from the clearance rack at Lowe's are so beautifully full of blooms!  As I type this we're expecting our first frost and I'm not sure how they will fare, but they were well worth rescuing and planting.

Georgene has a lovely blog as well.  You guys go visit with her when you have a chance.  Georgene you asked about how I shop at Walmart.  I have been using my Swagbucks lately to purchase Pay Pal gift cards which are automatically deposited to my Pay Pal account.  I then use Shop and Earn feature through Swagbucks home page to visit Walmart and do my little bit of shopping.  I order right at $50 worth of stuff about every two or three months, usually things I don't want to take time (and all that extra spending money lol) to find in the physical Walmart store.  I keep a running list of needs to be purchased.  This last order was for decaf coffee (I don't like Aldi's at all, it upsets my system), a big bag of mixed candy since Aldi's chocolates were not stocked for nearly two months, muscle rub, and a permanent coffee filter.  I also do the occasional gift orders through Shop and Earn as well as hotel bookings.  I earn more Swagbucks for shopping (triple points for every dollar spent this last time at Walmart and double points for the last hotel booking).

I do occasionally run into headaches.  My last trip to see the Kingsland grand kids through still has not credited and from all I can tell might not for another 60 days, which is crazy when you consider the one booked through Priceline three weeks ago credited yesterday.  (Typically credits are earned so many days after the travel date is completed.  Some items are not credited from some stores (videos don't count at Target for instance) but do from Walmart or another store.

Obviously the real trick is to not shop any more than usual, to check Swap and Earn first when you do start to shop online and to know the ins and outs before you make a purchase so you're not disappointed if an item does not earn Swagbucks.  I have few complaints with the process but there is the occasional blip and replies to queries tend to be automated and not a real help, but overall it is a decent way to earn a little help in the household budget.

Second post of the month I mentioned freezing some navel oranges.  Sarah I was out of town when your first comment posted and I never did reply to you when I did publish your question!  I am sorry.  I pare and section navel oranges so there are no membranes or pith in the fruit and I do squeeze the peels and membranes to insure I get all the juice.   That is all I freeze.  I do not add water nor sugar nor citric acid.  I've never noticed it being bitter, but then I usually serve as part of a fruit salad or ambrosia.  I also freeze grapefruit and tangelos in the same way and mix them into ambrosia as well.

Annie, cutting down on my time has been a big help.  Every now and then I forget what I'm about and drop right back into my old routines but I am making a concerted effort to really change into the new, time saving methods.  It gives me far more time to do other tasks and conserves energy.

Third Frugal Living  Grandma D I find taking food to the hotel is a good way to cut down on expenses.  I didn't just at first when we started going to Kingsland but it took about once of realizing how much I missed having something to munch on when the hungries hit and realizing the can of Pringles placed prominently on the dresser for $4 and the ice cream chest next to the elevator with ice cream bars for $3 each was going to get mighty pricey! lol  We've always carried food along when we stayed in apartments or condos on vacations but I just never thought of it for the hotel.  Now we do!  If we're staying a few days I opt for the room with a microwave and fridge.  If for just one night, we take an insulated bag with ice for cold things and set it in the tub.  I've never had anything spoil yet.

I will do a tutorial on biscuits.  I have put it on my list of posts to do this month.

Week four of Frugal Living  Thank you all for your congratulations on my younger son's marriage.  We are very proud to add Bess to our family in the legal sense.  She'd already been given honorary status anyway, but we are glad to have them married indeed.

In my first Weekly Plan post, Stacie made me laugh out loud when she noted that she made a dint in the freezer every time she made a meal for her family of eight.  I did too with my family of seven lo these years ago and I think back to the first three years when we were a family and I had only the freezer atop my fridge to use to store our foods for two weeks!

Week II  Sarah I agree that we are blessed to have the 'worry' of a too full freezer and new items constantly available to go into it!  I feel I am especially blessed that whatever I make tends to give me still more.  It is a multiplication of blessings and I am deeply thankful and forever amused by it at the same time.

Vickie, a freezer meal or two is always nice to have on hand.   I always considered it worthwhile too when I had a family at home to have three or four entrees in the freezer so when I was sick or was needed outside the home (as when Mama was in hospital) it made my life a great deal easier.

Pam, Thank you for the Coke code.  I entered it right away when you sent your comment.  I had enough points this time to consider another magazine subscription but decided to 'save' points in October and see what was offered in November.

I don't always get all of my jobs accomplished and sometimes not any.  The jobs I list are always 'extra' things, over and above housework and errands and such.

Week III  Vicki, I have a booth at the local flea market/antiques shop...No craft booth for me although I've entertained that idea too.  I just never get enough time to work on crafts as much as I'd like.

Judy, I can so identify with the fact that food stretches and stretches these days.  It sure didn't seem stretchy enough when I had teenagers living at home, lol.

Week IV  Sarah it is good to know that you have gained some information from me about freezing meals.  I will try to freeze almost anything and if the results are bad for some reason I don't do it again or figure out why.  You mention dehydrating which a few of my friends do a lot of as well for storage.  I tried but I think my dehydrator was just too cheap and not very good.  I might occasionally do a thing or two in the oven but mostly I freeze.  It's easy and convenient!

Angela, I would really like to start work on my front porch even though we have plans to have it worked on in the near future.  We'll be removing the inset steps which will double my floor space.  This was a feature John wanted badly  and got and then realized how much it compromised the usable area.  We want to put a set of concrete steps there as well to avoid the problem of rotting steps.  In the meantime I'd like to paint the portion of the floor that won't be replaced and paint furniture there etc.  You know how projects go!

I also have a deep desire to change my kitchen.  I find these days that I am over floral patterns (and chevrons too for that matter) but that will require a lot more money than I have at the moment.  With two double windows and a sink window, rugs, paint for cabinets etc.  However, there will be a project somewhere, lol.  I'm pretty pleased with the way the craft room has come out but it's not by any means finished.  I still want a headboard, there's furniture to paint and I could so use more storage!  I have a small armoire but need a much larger one.  So it all goes on and on and on...

Rutabagas  was the subject of this post.  There's a lovely one in my fridge just now.  I am trying to decide which day I shall cook it!  Tammy you asked how long to cook the fries.  I do them at 450F on a cast iron griddle and cook until tender and slightly caramelized.  I do toss them with olive oil, but have recently read that olive oil can make some things bitter (like Asparagus) when roasting.

Gramma D mentions a Swedish dish called Rotmas which is a mixture of mashed rutabagas and potatoes.  I think that sounds good!

And Louise notes that she cooked her rutabagas with a bit of bacon grease (as a right farm wife well might) but her mother in law used brown sugar...I don't know as I'd want them sweetened with brown sugar but it does make me think of what John says every time he sees me cooking with rutabaga, "Mmmmm Rutabaga Pie!", lol.

Kathy I find most greens are an acquired taste.  I  grew up eating turnips and collards and mustard greens so I expect I'd eat kale and Swiss chard just fine.  I still prefer spinach raw in a salad rather than cooked.  Katie enjoyed turnips as an oven fry as well, but I admit that we seldom ate the root portion of the turnip. Now and then I'll buy one to put in a soup or in the roast dish.  I like to add parsnips to soup too, finding they taste less peppery than turnips.

September Q&A  Laurie, we've been praying in our household for a resolution to your situation...Let me know how things work out, please.

Rhonda, I really like the green shirt you mention but need to cut off the sleeves.  They would be much better 3/4 length.  It's just a matter of sitting down a the machine to do it.

Retirement Remedies was a debut post this month and you all received it quite enthusiastically.  It may be in the next couple of months that I replace the Frugal Friday caption with Retirement Remedies but I will also be sharing a few more posts that came from my brainstorming session a couple of weeks ago.

Georgene, I make it a point every quarter to sit down and go over our budget and note what changed.  It's not a huge increase to see $2 in higher costs at first, unless you see small bumps in several areas at once!  It all means, if the income is the same, that we must adjust somewhere else...It's a constant watch.

Gramma D, you really made me think hard with your comment about not having big cuts of meat but using  smaller portions.  When we were really broke, I bought one 'big' piece of meat each week and the rest was bits and pieces.  I remember laughing out loud when my son asked, as I prepared a roast dinner, if we couldn't just skip the pot roast and go straight to hash.  I couldn't help but think  how much less expensive it would be to do just that!  However, I knew from past experience that too many meals with bits and pieces of meat led to a growing peckish feeling in all of us.  Knowing we had had that one meal of sliced meat each week  really made a difference in how we handled our highly stretched meals the rest of the week.

But there are many areas where I am more than willing to attempt to cut back these days.  We've a brand new bag of chips that has been in the house, unopened, for three weeks now.  That is the direct result of taking only a small handful of chips at a time.  If I find we are eating over much of something I hide it and don't buy it again any time soon.  Long winded way of saying I know there are many more ways yet to return to a more frugal path in my kitchen, for all my current savings.

Joanne, thank you too for letting me know that I've been a help. I understand the not so empty nest (we've had two return home over the years) and the need to adjust the budget.  We too had wiggle room and money to do some small traveling a few years ago but between the economy, too few raises and a new schedule that actually cost us money too, the wiggle room went bye bye.  And we're here trying to determine where we can make a little more savings for a retirement that looms in the next few years.

Pam...a sugar cookie without sugar and with a frosting...isn't that called a scone? Yes, I expect it is a savings, just a matter or what you call it, isn't it? LOL

M Ripples gave a short list of husband approved (meaning he didn't notice the lack of meat on his plate, lol) dishes:  "Some meatless recipes that have been husband approved: eggplant Parmesan, lasagna, chili with lots if different veggies, vegetable enchiladas, spaghetti with marinara sauce and garlic bread."

I started my own list and another of salads that require no lettuce. I have been taking time a couple of hours each week to flip slowly through my cookbooks and read recipes in these categories.  This is one area where I hope to make a bigger savings.  For myself, the eggplant Parmesan is not something we would eat but it does remind me that I used to add eggplant slices to my lasagna (meatless) and I had a recipe in our low carb days for Eggplant Rollatini that was greatly enjoyed.  I might try that one again and see how it is favored these days.

By the way ladies, go check out M's blog, just hit her name for the link.  I laughed out loud over her post "Sometimes My Husband is My Biggest Enemy".

Retirement Remedies II  Sarah my pressure cooker is a European model and specifically says that it will hold pint and half pint jars for pressure canning.  It has a regulator and special lock and sealing system that is unlike any American pressure cooker and more like a pressure canner.

I feel the same way you do with my budget decorating...and that might well lead to another Retirement Remedies brainstorming session.

Olive oil should be stored in a cool dark place.  The fridge is really too cold and may cause the oil to congeal (sort of like butter that has been melted and then chilled again).  Sour cream and yogurt both contain so much water that freezing them tends to cause them to curdle.  Cream cheese can be frozen.  It too will change texture, less creamy and more grainy, but it perfectly fine for spreading or for use in anything except dishes where the creamy texture is key (think cheesecake).  I just bought several packets of cream cheese and none of them expire until end of April 2015.

Pam thank you for reminding me about the cereal bags.  I do save those and have added to my list of brainstorm ideas for Retirement Remedies.

Patsy L shared this, which was also thought provoking "I've found myself stockpiling goods that it will take us the rest of our lives to use up, and I'm not sure that is the best use of our funds. I have to remind myself that the goal is to keep my money in my pocket, which means buying as little as possible at the lowest price possible. I find that planning is the biggest part of success in that effort. "

I find myself constantly evaluating what we have and why and how we use it.  John would like me to keep about a year's worth of food on hand.  I am not in that place yet.  I do see my pantry as an emergency fund, but it's a perishable fund and has to be constantly monitored.   I don't want to be one of those extreme couponer sorts.  

Mable, I used to reuse zippered bags that I store meats in.  I would wash them super well, with a little bleach and then reuse them for meat storage over again but over time I have stopped doing that.  The meat we buy at meat market is wrapped in plastic wrap and then in paper and it works perfectly for storage over a 3-4 month period.  However, Pam's idea of using cereal bags is one I'd consider putting in a zippered bag too, as they tend to be sound good strong bags and may be heat sealed with a low iron.  That would make them suitable for storage in a zippered bag.

Well that should do us.  On to another month!


Rebecca said...

Waving at you :)
I'm exhausted just READING about all your efforts--and you STILL find time to compose such specific responses! Amazing!

Anonymous said...

Nice post! I do like your responses to individual gals.

The last of the potatoes and carrots were dug on Sunday and the garden put to bed for the winter. I picked a few more cabbages and made slaw.

I did fairly well on the October challenge, but when flour and butter came on sale, I did re-stock. With all the fall baking (zucchini and pumpkin bread), my stock went quickly.

I'm finding that our little grocery store is very competitive with Wal-Mart. For example, eggs and butter are a lot more expensive at Wal-Mart than our little store. Wal-Mart is 60 miles away, our store is 7. Hmmm, where should I shop?? Kind of a no brainer. ; 0)


Anonymous said...

When our first Walmart neighborhood grocery store opened their prices were so low! Then up they went!! Now to get good prices on many things you have to hope you can use their price matching. We go there but not often. Only for a few things only they carry. We plan to stock up and not go back for as long as possible. I keep a short list of what we do get basically only there to refer to. Even with that I later find better deals elsewhere and this list gets even shorter. I wish an Aldies would come to our area. Or Winco move closer. :-)
For those who can use this information..eggplant can be sliced thin and dehydrated. To use it later in eggplant Parmesan that has lots of sauce in it, just add the dried egg plant and cook! No need to rehydrate! Sarah

Spicy Apple Cake - I FOUND IT!

While sorting though Mama's cookbooks the other day I came across a Family Circle magazine cookbook that looked familiar.  I brought...