In My Home This Week: Frugal All Week Long

Our drying rack which is such a boon to drying clothes indoors.  This one is metal and quite sturdy.
(Ignore the date on the photo, I never do set the dates on my camera as it must be reset each time you turn it on or change batteries.)

Saturday:  I am a little ticky about things.  I want throws that match my current color scheme in the living room but don't have any.  So...I do without as I continue to look and John uses a red one but it bothers me because red isn't in the color scheme.  I discovered this morning that one of the quilts has a cream backing on it...Which is lovely with the living room when turned to that side.  It works for me for right now.

John made breakfast this morning.  He used some cooked diced potatoes to make hash browns.

At dinner today, I made Rice Pilaf with some leftover rice.

Although it was windy and cold outdoors I opted to turn the heater up within one degree of the usual daytime temperatures.  I counted on the sunny day to offset the chill.  I noticed that the moment I started to feel cool air drafts the heater came on and was satisfied I'd struck the right balance.

Mama wanted me to order something for her yesterday.  I was able to use Swagbucks Shop and Earn to order the items.  I will get those points later next month.

Retirement Remedies: How We Use Sub Accounts to Stretch Our Money

Sarah asked me several questions about what I call Sub Accounts and I realized that this might be as unclear to others as it is to her.  So I thought perhaps a detailed explanation and an example might be in order.  Now the easy way to do this would be to take a photo of one of my actual ledger sheets but my husband would have a fit if he saw it on public display.  So for the sake of his sanity, I will show an example of how our checking register is set up.  The figures are totally fictional and used only as an example, just so you know.

We gave up using a check register about a year ago when we found that we now had to pay extra for them along with checks.  For about $3 I can buy a notebook full of ledger sheets (or print off the web) for about the same costs in ink which is less than we'd pay for the 2 registers!  Crazy, ain't it?  So we now use ledger sheets and because they are inexpensive, I use one for each pay period.  As a bonus the ledger sheets are so much easier to read than those tiny lines in the registers.

We have, as most folks do, certain things that come up routinely.  For us those would be electric, Internet, cell phone bills, insurances.  Each pay period we set aside HALF of the total amount due.  Then we set money aside in what I refer to as "sub-accounts".  These categories include car maintenance, home maintenance, tags and taxes, etc.   We take the average annual costs and divided them by 26 (we are paid every other week, 52 weeks in a year divided by 2 is 26).

Frugal Fail: What It Is and What It Isn't

I suppose it was really brought home over Christmas because I was doing what I normally do each year at that time: watching every version of Dickens A Christmas Carol.   It's our tradition to watch all available versions of it, excluding cartoons.   I like A Christmas Carol ! Scrooge  has money enough to meet his needs but he suffers privation in a prideful way.  He eats poor meals, refuses to allow sufficient heat in home or work place, even begrudges his clerk his wages and makes Bob feel shame and embarrassment for asking for his deserved and much needed pay.  He implies that Bob, who is poorly paid and has a family to feed and clothe, squanders his money in a frivolous way.  Scrooge is a miser.  He doesn't care for money for what it can do for him or others.  He only accumulates it.

I write a good deal about frugality on my blog.  I follow other frugal blogs. I really enjoy reading other people's frugal doings, but I have noticed a trend of late of people apologizing for any sort of spending or for any indulgence or splurge.  It's almost as though there is a contest on to see who can be more frugal, in a miserly way, than another.

Sometimes someone takes another person to task for not doing a certain thing that they personally have found frugal.  Oh the brouhaha that can get started because of a spending point that others disagree with!

In My Home This Week: Planning the Week Ahead

It's another new week...they do seem to keep coming around regularly don't they?  I haven't gotten nearly as much done as I wanted for this month and here we are in the last week.  I'm going to approach the week cautiously, not wanting to aggravate my back which has been acting up to some degree all month long.  Old pesky thing.  I finally determined there were plenty of jobs I could do that were low stress on the back.   Trouble is they are just not the jobs I want most to be doing.  I was thinking more along the lines of mulching and digging and painting and shifting furniture.  Well.  Instead I am sorting out drawers and trying to make things look a tiny bit fresh.

My pantry and freezer are full.  I need to purchase only produce, bread and dairy for foodstuffs.  I think this next month I shall focus on stocking paper and personal care products and one or two pantry items that are very low (rice and pasta comes to mind).  That's the plan for the next two pay periods...

Coffee Chat: Winter Serenade

Here we are!  Time to stop and have another chat...I've got some lovely Cherry Almond Cupcakes.  You can find the recipe right here.  They turned out the most perfect shade of pink.  I am really fond of cherry cake.  I'm always looking for a good recipe and I think I've found one.  Next time I'll chop cherries to add to the batter of the cake because I like to bite down on a bit of cherry.  If I'd known how pretty pink these were going to turn out I'd have saved the recipe for Valentine's Day.  But then that would be later and this is now and so have one and some half and half in your coffee and let's chat a bit.

Oh Half and half...First I'm going to address a comment from Pam earlier in the month.  Carageenan is a seaweed (Irish Moss) byproduct that is used to thicken and stabilize dairy products. I haven't meant to say it is bad for any/every one.  I have mentioned that it's bad for me because it causes me to have mild respiratory symptoms that I dislike.  The more of it I imbibe the more I feel I can't get a proper breath.  When I stop using products that contain it, I find I breathe easier.   It's an allergic reaction and it's mild but it's unpleasant enough to make me want to not feel that way.   It seems wise, on my own behalf, to watch for the product in the ingredients list and avoid those products.

And Angela asked about the Butter Chicken recipe.  I sort of combined two recipes but this one was one of those.

This Week In My Home: Frugal All Week Long

 I freshened two areas in my home (this one is in  the back entry) using what I had on hand.  I re-potted the ivy into a prettier pot and everything else was moved about from other areas.  It all looks fresh and new and I love it!  No cost decorating.

Saturday:  I promised John a breakfast of sausage gravy.  We had that over leftover warmed biscuits.  Yum.

I made a simple at home lunch even though I had no desire at all to cook.  It was quick and easy.  I thawed frozen burger patties (I made up when we brought the ground meat home at first of year) and cut two medium potatoes into oven fries.  Everything went into the oven to cook.  It was quick and easy and painless for clean-up as well.  I cooked two extra burgers to put in John's work lunch tomorrow.

After sunset, I prepared items to go into John's lunch for work tomorrow.

The New Savings Culture

I have reported before that I spend a few hours each week trolling about on Pinterest reading frugal blog posts.  There's always the off chance I might learn something I haven't known before, or relearn something I'd forgotten (just as good as a new trick is a forgotten trick!)...Most blogs tend to stick to the old basics that we've all learned and repeated: stop eating out (as much), stop buying new when used will do as well, stop spending what you haven't earned yet...You get the idea.  Sort of a 'Frugality for Dummies' mentality.

However, there is a new savings culture out there and I've noticed it creeping in amongst frugal blogs with a subtle message: Frugality isn't worth it.

How, you might ask, do they justify their position?  By trotting out the old and hackneyed methods of savings (stop eating out, stop buying lattes and stop overspending) and hinting that small savings are the least effective way to manage your funds.  The new take is this:  You should work to earn more because a new and better job will reward you many times over.  You should invest instead of save. You should cook from scratch but forget coupons or meal plans.  That's too much work for too little return.  You should buy top quality as you can afford to pay cash but used is not necessarily the way to go, if it requires repairs or sprucing up.  You should skip the work of a vegetable garden but find a good CSA that will deliver organic vegetables and fruits to your door on a weekly basis...

Shabat Thoughts: Unpacking

In the Talmud, it is stated that Abraham's father, Terah,  was a shopkeeper who sold idols.  We know Abraham, or as he was known at that point in history, Abram, was a man whom God promised to father nations, with generations as numerous as the stars in the heaven descending from him.  He is often referred to as the Father of Faith, namely the Christian Faith.  Yet his father was a maker of idols...

Skip ahead two generations and we find that Jacob, his grandson has returned to the house of his mother's peoples, also descendants of Terah.  Though he has been there many years, his uncle Laban does not deal fairly with Jacob. At last Jacob determines that he must leave that land and return to his own country.  He takes his wives, children, cattle and sheep.  Rachel however takes more than her own belongings.  She steals her father's idols.

This has always puzzled me.  Jacob was a son of Isaac and a grandson of Abraham.  He was raised to believe in one God, the true God and not to worship idols.   Laban had obviously been raised to worship the idols and this was taught to his children.

In My Home This Week: Menus and Job Plans

Shame on me...Or not.  I sat down early this morning to look up a couple of items I'd pinned so that I could work on a project or two...and I was happily pinning away still at 5pm this afternoon.  Good thing it was Shabat and I had nothing but free time, huh? lol  It is so easy to get lost on that site.  I enjoyed it.  I spent a lot of time reading and got inspired for a new post and then I finally remembered why I was there and went off to do what I sat down to do.

Now I have a list of recipes I mean to try this coming week and I've put together three outfits to wear the next few times I leave home (my original purpose in sitting down to Pinterest, ha).

Eggs and Toast
Cheese Grits, Apple Raisin Biscuits
Hash brown Egg Nests, Bacon, Toast
Waffles, Sausage
Oatmeal, Peanut Butter Toast
Cheese Eggs, Toast
Bagels with cream cheese

In My Home This Week: Frugal All Week Long

Glass jars, new or used, are excellent for storage in any pantry/kitchen.  Frugal for me because I can see what is in them, and second I am assured the contents will remain pest free.  They are great for fridge, freezer, or pantry shelf.

Saturday:  I try to keep meals as easy and work free as possible, especially if I fail to use Friday to prep ahead.  Well yesterday we were out and didn't come home again until a short time before Shabat.  I opted to run the vacuum and put away things (laundry, dishes) which improved the appearance of the house, rather than spend the time cooking ahead.    Today I put a turkey breast roast in the crock pot to cook.  I used the microwave to cook two Sweet Potatoes.  We split the largest and shared it.  I put the other one up to use for Sweet Potato Biscuits which are a seasonal favorite.  I made a fruit salad and used the gravy packet to make gravy.  Oh yes, I added dry stuffing mix to the crock pot during the last half hour of cooking.  All in all prep work was  minimal.  I think getting the roast ready for the crock pot was the most difficult thing.

Coffee Chat: Hurry Up and Shut That Door!

Well come on in!  I haven't made a thing but coffee but I do have a yummy almond creamer I mixed up yesterday afternoon.  It will give us that 'touch of sweet' that one craves now and then.  I was so disappointed to discover this past week that evaporated milk has carageenan in it.  I'd opened a can to use in my coffee when I ran low on milk and in an idle moment I picked up the can and read the label.  Sheesh.  It's in everything and finding a dairy product without it these days is getting mighty tough.  I made rice pudding yesterday for our dessert and didn't need the full can of  sweetened condensed milk since I made a smaller portion of pudding.  I mixed half and half with milk and almond flavoring.  I tasted a tiny bit of it and it was pretty good.  I think as a replacement for an afternoon sweet bite this will do me just fine.

Embracing Winter: Trying to Make the Most of a Season

While winter in the South hardly means the sort of cold and snow some of my northern friends experience, it does have a tendency to be a little depressing.  Our colors are mostly gray, brown and the deep green of evergreens, the sky often overcast, frequent cold rainy days and general gloom.  The sunny South takes a back seat to the seasonal version of a good long cry with all the whines and moans that go along with it. It's a short season and I've always tried to cheer myself along with  the idea that peaches were being formed in these cold hours of the year, but the truth is, it's the lack of sunshine that I find most depressing and which affects me hardest.

This Week In My Home: Settling In To The New Year

We've had a wonderfully restful Saturday.  Just what was needed.  I'm feeling more like myself and ready to tackle my home and go over my Resolutions to see where I am incorporating them a where I need to get to work.  First on my list is always planning meals.  I've been over my refrigerator and just discovered it is burgeoning with far more leftovers than I'd supposed.  I'll be putting several single serve portions of things into the freezer, far too much there to be eaten by one.

breakfast:  Banana/pineapple smoothie, toast (x2 for me)
                   Fried eggs and toast (x2 John)
                   French Toast, Bacon
                   Rice Pudding (leftovers and why not?  It's made the same as butterscotch oatmeal)
                   Biscuits (leftovers) with bacon, egg and cheese filling
                   Cheese Omelet, Hash browns, Toast
                   Bagels with Cream Cheese, Clementines

This Week In My Home: Frugal Friday, A New Year of Savings

                      My vintage kitchen paper holder...who knew cute would lead to savings?

Thursday (New Year's Day):  We didn't have the components of our holiday breakfast on hand.  I will surely plan better next year but my lack of planning does not warrant spending extra.  We had some apple fritters and John fried eggs.  It was pleasant enough, a nice hot meal on a cold morning.  I ate my meal in the sunny kitchen sitting area which just added to the meal in my opinion.

Washed a full load of laundry and hung most of it out to dry.  I added the mattress pad to the sheets this morning and I knew that the mattress pad can be stubborn to dry outdoors.  It went into the dryer, sheets went on the line.

Retirement Remedies: Fighting Back Determining How Much Is Enough

I was cleaning out my Home Keeping Notebook, setting it up fresh for the New Year ahead.  I came across an item I copied from a vintage magazine, Daily Dietary Requirements.  It's not that far off our own modern day food charts...but it started me thinking and I asked myself the question:  How much is enough?

The average adult needs 1 pint of milk daily.  That's 2 cups.  It can come from cooking, cereal, in coffee, be eaten as yogurt or cheese.  How much milk do I drink daily?  I don't know. I have milk in my coffee (three cups over the day).  I drink a coffee mug of milk at night.  Am I getting enough?  Am I getting too much?

Questions and Answers and Comments, Oh My!

A new month, a new year and the halfway mark for this decade...Can you believe it?  Didn't 2014 go by fast?  I hope that 2015 isn't quite so quick to get away from me!

Deck the Halls:  So many of you liked the look of the snowflakes on my front door...So did I.  I had two problems with them.  The largest was just too heavy for the double stick mounting tape I used.  It fell several times even after I used multiple bits to hold it up.  In the end, it fell and shattered.  The medium and small ones did very well despite the warm sun heating the door up.  The next problem I encountered was removing them.  The mounting tape was sticky and left residue on my front door.  I used adhesive remover and took a bit of paint off the door too.  My fault for never getting around to the second/third and no doubt fourth coats the doors really needed.

Thank you all too for the compliments on the tree.  It seemed a little dull to me with the browns and burlap but my husband was super complimentary about it and all of the decorations this year.  I'd meant to doctor things up a bit more after the family party but never did get around to it.

This Week In My Home: Menu and Work Plans

I believe this is the first January in ten years I haven't started out with a Pantry Freezer Challenge.  Truth is January is a fairly flush month for us.  We usually begin it with holiday pay from Christmas and New Year's. In the past I've avoided stocking up as I might otherwise have done and limited myself to just the purchases needed to piece out pantry menus, then rued it mightily in March which has no holidays.  This Christmas season was not a tough one with lots of added expenses.  We put money back into savings from the budget we'd set...then John got his annual bonus and not having urgent need of funds we put that into savings as well.  In the end we put over half of the funds we had taken back into the savings account.  I had an overage in our checking account that allowed us to pay for our meats last week without dipping into the grocery budget.   I've always used this month to balance the books and this year it's not necessary.  Instead I will plan to focus on my pantry holes and stock those...which we started New Year's Eve when went to meat market.    And I'll save my pantry freezer challenge time for months with no holidays and less funds, such as March and August...and other lean periods that might appear.

In My Home This Week: All Routine