In My Home This Week: Inspired to be Frugal
Saturday: We had the propane heater on this morning to chase the chill of the frost morning away.
I made chili for our main meal. The recipe on the seasoning packet (a favorite of John's that I buy occasionally) calls for 1 pound of meat and 1 can each of tomatoes and beans. I double the beans and tomatoes and serve the chili over rice. It's a bit spicy and I can't imagine how much heat it would impart if we made it as the recipe reads.
I cut slices of Challah and made cheese toast to go with the chili.
I put a little more than a standard quart of chili in the fridge for a 'Leftover Makeover' dish later this week of Tamale Pie.
Washed a full load of dishes this evening.
I have found that by adding just a little more water to the coffee pot when I make our after dinner coffee I can squeeze out enough to give John an evening cup of coffee. The flavor of the coffee is just as good despite that extra water and he really enjoys having that cup at end of the day.
Hindsight: I had about 1 1/4 cups of the 'sauce' left from the chili. I poured it in a bowl for the pets to have in the morning over their food but this evening I realized I might have saved that to add to a pot of leftovers soup. I'll be on the mark next time where that is concerned. I just didn't have my thinking cap on tight enough this afternoon.
Even though it got rather warm this afternoon we did not turn on the AC. I'm going to try hard not to turn it on again unless it gets above 75F (where we normally set it anyway). I was going through magazines and the EMC's magazine said rates were increasing next month. We don't really need anything else to increase, so I need to get creative and figure out ways to fight the creeping inflation I'm seeing nearly everywhere.
I made pancakes for supper. 3/4 cup of pancake mix and 1 cup of water made just the right amount of pancakes for us.
Made John's lunch for work tomorrow.
Set clocks ahead about 6pm. I don't know who sits around waiting for 2am to come along to set their clocks...do you? It's just as easy to go on and set them early. I confess I felt a bit snarky at losing that hour of sleep later, especially since we have to get up so early in the morning already.
Sunday: Packed John's lunch. Made him breakfast.
I've stopped saving end pieces of bread with Passover coming. I put two pieces in the dog's scrap bowl this morning to absorb some of those juices and add bulk to their diet. Maddie is not a hug fan of people food but Misu and Taz enjoy it.
Didn't turn up heat this morning. The house seemed rather comfortable at 65F.
Switched off porch light as soon as John was out of yard. I've been in the habit of leaving it on until I go out later in the morning. Time to change that old habit for a new one.
I had a short list of things to do today. Mop floors; wash curtains and towels and rugs from our bath; and make a return. I also needed while out to pick up dog and cat foods, soda for John and hoped to purchase my two blinds for the living room windows now that all the money was earmarked for that purchase. I realized on my way to the store that I hadn't made out a list. And thinking about it, there was a Walmart with both a Lowes and a TJ Maxx in the same shopping center in Warner Robins. I headed there and sat in the parking lot making out my list before I walked into the stores. So I had a plan when I shopped.
At TJ Maxx I found some aqua blue bottles that made me think of some I'd seen in BH&G magazine last year. These were smaller but better suited for my need which was a dining table centerpiece. The ones in the magazine were filled with spring flowering shrubs. I wanted to replicate that look.
I also found organizers for the kitchen island drawer, and a top for $10 that will work with several pieces in my closet.
At Walmart I made my returns. Lo and behold that totalled what I'd spent at TJ Maxx which I think is rather neat. At Walmart I purchased a Sunday paper, pet foods, bananas, two more twin sized sheets, three faux spring blooming shrub picks, a baby shower gift for Katie's husband. That was a mixed lot of things meant to come from two separate money sources but I paid for all out of my personal funds.
At Lowe's I bought the two shades (I had half the funds in gift cards with me) and a can of spray paint. Since I paid for grocery items with personal funds, I put the remaining balance on the debit card which evened things out.
What I didn't buy today was anything that wasn't on my list (with the exception of the shower gift). I didn't wander down aisle after aisle in Walmart or Lowes (I did in TJ Maxx but stayed on target there). I also decided to forgo a few items and use another item already on hand here at home. Instead of buying black spray paint to freshen the curtain rods with, I'll use the can of black enamel that I have on hand already. It will do just as well for touching up.
It was late when I got home, after 3pm. I decided to wash bath rugs and curtains and hung them on the line about 4pm. By 6pm last night they were completely dry.
Monday: I made an experiment last week... Well two actually and I wanted to share results.
The first experiment I started last pay period. We bought our groceries on Tuesday of that week and I bought two bunches of bananas. I'd read that keeping bananas in a plastic bag would keep them green longer. So we set one bunch on the fruit stand and the other was put in a zippered plastic bag. Both bunches were VERY green. We broke off two and set next to some tomatoes on a plate and left the others on the fruit stand. The two on the tomatoes ripened nicely within a couple of days. The others ripened more slowly. Those in the plastic bag were still green at the end of 7 days.
When the first bunch was gone we broke off three from that in the plastic bag. They ripened quickly but had slightly less flavor than those that had ripened naturally over the previous week. The last four were removed from the bag and never really looked ripe. They did get soft. The sugars did not develop as fully in the last few. I used them to make pound cake and they did fine and tasted best that way.
So...In future when the bananas at Aldi are very green I will buy two bunches and try to keep them for 10 days rather than for 14, but this definitely showed me I could 'stretch' bananas to cover two weeks instead of having them for just a few days.
Experiment two took place last week when I was making mashed potatoes. I cut large russets into thirds and cooked those pieces in with the potatoes I meant to mash. I took them out the moment they were just about fork tender. I put them in the fridge and grated them to use in hash brown casserole. This worked out very well and I will do this again in future when I want hash browns. I came " - " this close to buying shredded frozen potatoes to make this dish with.
I made the hash brown casserole this morning and then made nests in which I cracked eggs and baked. I've done this before and it's really a tasty and different way to eat hash browns and eggs.
Liquid Gold...That's the product name. I've seen commercials for years for this stuff and I finally bought some. I'd meant to use it on the vanity I gave to my grand daughter. I used it today on my antique dresser and my goodness! That grand old lady looks like someone resuscitated her!
I discovered a tiny leak, just a tiny little drip on the water line to the toilet yesterday. I turned down the flow a bit and wrapped with a cloth which was just barely damp at day's end. Definitely a small leak. John came home this morning and checked it and was able to tighten a fitting which eliminated any drip at all.
John washed two full loads of clothes. One had a tissue in the load. It's amazing how one tissue can make such a huge mess, isn't it? We put a few clothes in the dryer (mostly underclothes) and let the dryer do the work of pulling of the shredded paper. John took the rest outdoors and shook them hard then hung on the line. All of the second load was dried on the line outdoors.
John came in very late this morning which meant he ate a warmed over breakfast casserole and I knew a lighter menu was wanted than any I had planned for our dinner.
Made egg salad for sandwich filling.
Economy of motion. I had to finish the hems properly on the bathroom valances. Washing really frayed those edges. I keep my sewing machine set up all the time now that I my own space for it. It took just a few minutes to trim edges and run a seam along them to prevent further fraying. After the valances were done, I reached into the mending pile and pulled out a grocery bag that needed a seam sewn and a couple of holes repaired.
I did the same thing when ironing the valances. I got the newest place mats out of the table linens drawer and pressed them while the iron was hot. So much easier than heating the iron for just the one job.
I worked on my closet this morning. I set aside a few things to get rid of...and then I reconsidered. One item I love but have never really figured out how to incorporate into an outfit. The other I've worn once when Katie was around to style me an outfit which really looked cute. I realized that the first piece was the same color as two items I had on my want need list, yellow. The outfit had a navy sweater with a yellow scarf and purse. Why not use my yellow sweater and pair with navy accessories? I put that piece back.
As I folded scarves I realized that three had the same shade of pink as another shrug. I realized I had another basic piece for several different looks. Back on the hanger with that one, too. Sometimes we just need to 'see' what we have in our closets.
I sorted the tank tops. I like to wear a tank top under all of my shirts in the winter, but in the warmer months I use a tank under a sheer tunic or under an unbuttoned cotton shirt. I noted that I was lacking basic color tanks that I've worn over and over again in the past. I will be altering my list.
Cashed in Swagbucks for another gift card.
Completed a Pinecone research survey. Decided to hold onto my points for a higher pay out in a couple more surveys.
Tuesday: Warmer weather has been around for a couple of days. I turned on the AC yesterday evening to make the thick air breathable. The heater never came on at all last night for the first time in many months. I told John that warranted a cold cereal breakfast for the first time in months, too, lol. Not a savings perhaps of anything but my personal time and lot of dishes.
Fed the dogs leftovers. Turns out Maddie doesn't care for pasta. She lay each piece out beside her bowl. Now we know.
We took a rather meandering drive over to Warner Robins and another one back home. It was perfect with the windows down and flowering trees and daffodils all along the way. I think Spring is finally easing in. No savings in meandering but it's nice to be relaxed and easy going now and then.
We stopped for lunch at a drive in place. We bought $5 lunches. Later, on our way home, we discussed our meal choice. I mentioned I'd seen corned dogs on the menu and had chosen not to order that. Now John knows how I feel about corned dogs. They are a favorite. "Why didn't you order that?" "Pricey." He assured me I could have ordered and I agreed. "But John, I couldn't help but think that for the price of one I could buy a package of really good hot dogs on sale and made 8 on my own. I can see the value in a $5 lunch but I don't see the value in something that is ridiculously inflated like the price of that corn dog."
We made a trip to Walmart today...Yes is the third time in a week and it won't be our last. The reason for the next trip? Returning items bought today that won't work for us. I suspect that will be the very last trip out for us.
Wednesday: No day out with Mama. Instead I stayed at home. Sick. Had another massive nose bleed last night and the nose spray not only did nothing to help but seemed to cause the bleeding to increase greatly. We were trying to get out of house to go to the hospital this time but were dealing with a distant family crisis at the same time and by the time we were done so was the nosebleed. However, the nose spray had me so hyped that I was up all.night.long.
Well it's cheap enough to stay home. I've had off lights, opened shades for daylight and ate something from the freezer that was languishing.
I put a ripe banana cut into chunks in the freezer. I'm going to have a smoothie from that this evening.
Lots of naps and taking it easy ensued today.
Thursday: Felt much better this morning. I slept like a top last night. I hit the shower right away. I'm finding more and more that if the day is to be productive I need to start it right away with a shower and clothes. Now I know why Granny dressed first thing every morning. I've promised myself I can wear pajamas on Saturday mornings.
Made biscuits for our breakfast this morning.
I have stuck to my resolve to keep AC set at 75F...and even went to 76F. I won't go any higher at present but that's just 2 degrees lower than our summer setting.
We looked at all our options and made a choice to go with another cell phone company. We are saving 1/3 of our current bill which is a nice amount of money. It's not all the money we needed to 'find' in our budget but it's a start. We've a plan in place to deal with the other two areas where we hope to find more savings.
Made the return to Walmart this afternoon. I don't normally shop often at Walmart. I prefer to do my spending with them online which means that I can limit the temptations that assail me. I'm not sorry for what we spent this past week. It was all necessary or wanted and carefully thought out but all the same I'm done.
I put dinner in the crock pot before we left and I was pleased as could be with the results. I experimented. I made a Tamale Pie! I used leftover chili, a can of corn (not drained) and mixed up a small batch of cornbread batter and spooned over the top of the wet mixture. I put on the lid and cooked it on low for 4 1/2 hours. This was delicious! The cornbread was perfectly cooked and tender and the chili mixture had just begun to thicken nicely. I've never seen a recipe for this before but I'm getting more and more brave about trying things I've never seen done.
I had enough leftovers to make our Shabbat meal on Saturday.
As soon as we came in I started a full load of dishes to washing.
Spring has sprung here. The trees are blooming and so lovely. The peach trees most especially are gorgeous and here where I live there are hundreds and hundreds of acres of peach trees.
Friday: It seemed this morning that I was overwhelmed with all that needed to be done but in the end I did rather well.
Started my day by making breakfast. I used the leftover biscuits and toasted them. John had fried eggs with his but I find them toasted with cheese or plain butter very tasty.
John washed a small load of clothes. It looked so dreary outdoors that I was sure it was meant to rain again. I put the clothes in the dryer since John was busy at the time.
I prepared dinner today for us and Mama. John did her taxes before dinner. I made a recipe I've made many times and never once have I made it the way the recipe was written. It calls for 1 1/2 pounds of meat and I use only 3/4 pound (usually I use 1/2 pound but I had extra beef out for another purpose and I used what remained). I added a 4-ounce can of mushroom slices (wish I'd thought of those fresh ones in the fridge!) to add further meatiness. I didn't have any tomato soup so I mixed a small can of tomato sauce with 1 tbsp of flour, 1 tsp of sugar and added that to my meat mixture. I don't have fresh basil on hand this time of year so I used pesto from a jar. I was out of mozzarella but had plenty of cheddar and a portion of Monterrey Jack on hand so used those. It was all about substitutions, lol. The recipe calls for 8 ounces of fresh tortellini. I had 20 ounces of frozen ravioli on hand and used that instead, and yes, I used the whole bag.
I made TWO casseroles instead of one. That's why I used the full bag. It was meant to stretch our all the other ingredients. I am expecting I might have some company for an extended stay and wanted to be semi-prepared with a few entrees on hand. Over the next few days I plan to make a few more things for the freezer.
I made up a half dozen sliders from about 1/2 pound of ground beef (just a smidge more). I put these small burgers into half the dinner rolls I'd removed from the freezer.
I cut up a pineapple and put in the fridge. That will be a nice addition to our meal tomorrow and made a nice snack for us this afternoon.
I had a small portion of foods scraps for the dog bowls. Maddie is so funny. If Taz is not here, she goes to his bowl and eats his portions first then eats what she wants out of her own bowl. At least she is not overeating as she always leaves as much in her bowl as she's already eaten. Taz is really about the size of a cat and gets only about 1 cup of food.
I've been worried over a family situation. Years ago I was a compulsive eater. Nowadays my refuges are simpler and kinder. I spend a lot of time in prayer and then I pop a game into the PS2 and while away a mindless hour on a video game. Then I find housework therapeutic as well. A lot easier on the budget, the spirit, and the wardrobe.
We had the last of the egg salad for our supper tonight. I plan to make some pimento cheese. That is a childhood favorite and now that it's turned off cold again I welcome a toasted pimento cheese sandwich and a bit of vegetable soup at day's end.
I deposited another $25 into my savings account. That was earnings from Swagbucks this time. It's not much but with the surveys and Swagbucks I have averaged $50/month. It's a help with the insurance bill.
I told John the other day as we came home, "There's a new season ahead." He nodded as he gazed at all the blooms. It looks like a new season already but I knew I meant more than that.
Within a few hours a family crisis developed. I don't know just what our futures hold but I can say most assuredly there is change ahead. I want it to be positive changes, but the truth is I don't know if it will be or not. I can see this thing going two ways. Both are hard and difficult paths. Both will alter my life to some degree, one far more than the other.
It is not where I want to be. I don't want either of these choices but another entirely, one that was pleasant and filled with the things John and I have talked over the last few months. Those were sweet dreams. Oh how I would love to have those dreams!
I do not handle change well. I tend to whine and complain and cry about it but I get on with it all the same. This time I hope to be more graceful. More grace filled. To have regrets but to take what is and accept that this is God's will for my life at this time. To do my best and stop trying to please the un-pleasable. To give my all to those who deserve it and reserve my strength when dealing with those who never appreciate my best anyway.
I feel a certain stoic calm. What will be will be. There is nothing I can do to alter facts, or hearts or paths. I can only do my level best to stay calm and wait for what is coming and face it head on and greet it as though I have God's strength and protection over me. And I do. Every minute of every single day. My portion. My mantle of grace.