This Week In My Home: Frugal from Sunup to Sundown

I am the sort who, when I see something pricey I like, am willing to try to create the same thing at home.  I'll never win a prize for 'best copy cat' but I sure do like to see what I have on hand translate into something that is at least reasonably near what I wanted.  This tabletop was pretty beat up but the map decoupaged on it, covered that right up and totally transformed my sad table into a better piece.  

Saturday:  Easy breezy day at home.  We were quite lazy about the day today and I enjoyed the peace and quiet of it.  John spent the morning doing research on our options for 'Life Without Satellite TV'.  We watch three or four channels very consistently and sort of tune in to five or six more once a week or so and then flip through the rest.  I was happy to hear that one we watch often is available for live streaming online.

I planned meals for the coming week.  Then we ate the leftovers meant to incorporate into two main entrees.  Oh well.  Plan B works too.

Made John's work lunch for tomorrow.

Sunday:  Packed John's lunch.  Made him breakfast.  Sent him off to work.

Started kitchen clean-up right away.  Loading and putting away the dirty and clean dishes.  I did just one job at the time.  I tend to confuse the two otherwise.

Stripped our bed linens and gathered the towels.  I washed two loads today, one this morning before leaving home, the other this evening after coming in.  Both loads dried in the dryer with a few to hang dry indoors.  It is a blooming world outdoors and pollen will fall on all.  Not fond of allergy tablets myself.

Took a bottle of water and an insulated glass with me today while out with Mama.

Mama donated two gently read magazines and two weeks worth of coupons to me.

We went to Target. I found these labels for the jars in the dollar aisle.  I plan to use them to label the cornmeal, whole wheat flour and pancake mix jars in the baking cabinet for starters.  I'm willing to bet these labels end up on several jars.  I bought two packs at $1 each.

Looked over every thing especially clearance end caps in Target and I found nothing much that thrilled me.  I was so in the mood for lovely things to come home with and gloat over bargains.  Oh well. I settled for the thrill of spying Community Coffee on sale for $4.64 a bag, clearance priced per the shelf label and certainly a good savings over my usual Gevalia Decaf ($6.49/bag).  I bought all I could reach (doggone top shelf stock!) and called myself a winner.  Nice stretch for the remaining Gevalia and eliminates immediate need to make a Walmart order up.

It's felt as though we've been awfully spendy of late.  Tomorrow is a new pay day, a new Harvest Day for our home and so I sat down this afternoon with a cup of coffee and totted up all the columns, put in all the subtractions and shifted all the monies we were meant to shift.  Results were rather nice. We avoided making at least two subtractions from savings we'd meant to make.  By the time I'd paid my portion and allocated money from other sub accounts meant to cover items and made returns there was no need at all.  And we had money leftover last pay period.  Not much. If we so much as sneeze, it's gone, but it's money left over just the same.

Monday:  Made French toast this morning.  I used some bread that John suggested was 'ready for the birds'.  It was nice and dry, perfect for soaking up the custard for toast.

I cleaned under the stove top this morning.  I do that at least every other month.  Today I took the cook top completely off and discovered that thick scummy grease that builds up when cooking along the back edge.  I was asked  by Karla how I keep under my stove hood looking so white.  Well I use the same thing I used on the grease buildup this morning, dishwasher detergent.  That and straight undiluted Pinesol are the only two items I've ever found which work to remove greasy build up.  If using the Pinesol be sure and wear gloves because mild as that seems it will really ruin your skin.  The dishwasher detergent (liquid is what I use and don't dilute it either) has bleach in it and will remove dye so use old cloths to apply that.  I always rinse several times over with a separate cloth.

I stopped after cleaning the storm doors and refashioned my burlap wreath that I've used since winter. I used some of the stems from the floral picks I bought for the dining room table.  (Hope to show pictures of dining table since it was a copy cat thing but my camera is acting up).  The wreath looked rather nice when I was done.

I had a list today and I meant to work on those tasks but my mind just wouldn't steer in that direction. So I did what I saw needed to be done.  Under the stove top, wiping down counters well, cleaning storm doors, clipping coupons, picking up and straightening.  I stayed busy all morning long and I mean all morning.

John hung the new blinds.  This should help darken the room a bit more and insulate us from summer heat on those west facing windows.  They certainly made a difference in the kitchen sitting area last summer.  Next on my list, two shades for the master bedroom windows.

I've priced smaller blinds for the bathroom and kitchen windows and I've about decided that they are not worth the cost.  It seems the smaller windows cost MORE than the larger ones.  I priced a blind that can be customized to the best length at $57.  Golly, I paid just $1 more for the TWO blinds in the living room.  I've decided the way to go is to buy a single black out panel and make lined shades for those two small windows.  That should block out the some of the heat without costing the earth.

Our dinner today was quite economical.  I made Twice Stuffed baked Potatoes.  Two potatoes, a bit of egg, 1 slice of Spam diced fine, 1 cup of shredded cheese mashed with the potato pulp.  I doubt there was $.55 cents worth of ingredients in that meal but with a big salad it was sure a tasty frugal dinner.

We made unplanned savings today.  We left home to run a couple of errands this afternoon and forgot to switch the AC on before we left home.  The temperature went up to 90F today which meant the house got plenty stuffy.  We didn't return home until nearly 8pm.  It was HOT indoors but thankfully the house cooled off quickly once we turned the AC on.

Our other savings occurred during the errands.  We 'bundled' errands again and took off trash, checked mail, went down to pick up John's check, banked, mailed off our tithes, and then drove to another town to deal with John's new, but broken, phone.  We waited over an hour for him to be seen and I'll share that I'm rather proud of him.  It was suggested that we go to Macon to pick up the replacement, which would have added an additional 120 miles to our errand rounds.   John politely suggested that it was an inconvenience and as he was the customer it was really their place to see the phone got to him.  A manager was coming back from the other store and was told to bring the replacement with her...Smart man.  And GREAT customer service!

We had to wait an hour and a half for the manager to arrive, so John suggested we go buy groceries since we were in the town anyway.  He didn't want to drive further into town to Aldi so we went to the nearer grocery store.  I'd planned to buy bread, dairy, soda and produce.  Yes, it cost more at the other store, but I still walked out with a nice bit of grocery cash leftover simply by sticking to my list. And we saved the necessity of going back later in the week.

We bought water and juice to drink.  I'm sorry to say that we left home unprepared for a long wait in hot weather.  I had my insulated glass with ice and a soda but hadn't brought water.  I'll be sure to pack water bottles for us in future.  Just as we never leave home without coats from October to late April due to sudden changes in temperature, we carry water with us from April to November.

Mama is making a trip to the meat market and asked if I'd like anything.  I checked the freezer and determined that we could use a sirloin steak (four-six servings from one steak) and a rump or round roast which will do us for several meals as well.  This will extend my meats by at least another month, pushing us into May or June before going down again.

Tuesday:  John made breakfast for us this morning and brought me first coffee, too.  Wasn't that sweet?  Nothing frugal about it but it was a great way to start the day.

This morning I went out to the shed and retrieved my grapevine wreath with forsythia stems on it.  It was lovely to hang it on the back door and have spring blooms on both front and back doors.

I paid bills this morning and opened the mail we picked up yesterday evening when we came in.  There was an envelope from M D Anderson Treatment Centers which included some note cards and envelopes.  I've been collecting these cards now for the past two years as they send them out periodically.  I've been looking for Lily a set of stationary suitable for her age, but haven't found a thing that was reasonable or looked like a child.  The artwork on these were drawn by children.  I told "John, I do believe I could piece out enough for a stationary set from these."  I came up with 12 cards and envelopes.  I'll mail them with her birthday card next month.

Though I could never really work up the enthusiasm today, I went through the pantry and freezer and pulled all the products containing yeast into two areas.  A basket on the counter for dry goods and a basket in the big freezer devoted to the frozen items.  I find that I don't have many after all and I'm glad of it.  I've been mindful since January that The Feast of Unleavened Bread was coming up and have made a real effort to use them and not purchase more.  One item that slipped past my radar was some chips that have yeast extract in them as flavoring.

Mama said she was treating me to the meat purchase and bought more than I requested.  I told John we might seriously consider June or July before we need more than chicken which I can buy locally until we go to meat market again.  In the meantime I'll look for sales under $1 pound for chicken.

Yesterday while I was sitting in the car waiting on John and was resting my eyes from reading, I came up with a plan for my living room seating.  I'd hoped to buy a new recliner but my idea of cost and what the chairs run (for a good quality one) were far apart.  I need double the money I'd planned to spend.  I could buy a less expensive chair but I've had them and I'm tired of replacing them. new chair this year.  John mentioned in the store his willingness to purchase a chair with ottoman.  I have two chairs which have ottomans.  One is in the kitchen sitting area and the other is my cozy chair which is a generous sized chair.  I decided to give John my chair and ottoman and I'll move the pair from the kitchen sitting into the living room.  The less than desirable slip covered recliner will go into our bedroom for those rare occasions when John wants to sleep sitting up.  Problem temporarily solved.

I told John I'll be sorry to lose my chair in the kitchen sitting area but truth is I will spend far more mornings on the back porch doing Bible Study than in the kitchen now that warm weather is with us once more.   I'm sure I'll find something at a thrift or flea market in between now and the return of cold weather.

I had a coupon for a free Burger King Whopper and used it Sunday.  This particular restaurant was confused about how to use the coupon and did it as a BOGO instead.  I brought the extra burger home and John and I shared it for supper tonight.

The replacement item for the silverware caddy was not working for me.  I switched the tin with a flower pot I was using to hold utensils on the baking counter.  It works far better.

Wednesday:  Today is the bonus day, the day we made for ourselves on Monday when we took advantage of small frustrations that had us killing time in the big town and went on to buy groceries.  Bonus day...and we've nothing planned but relaxing.

My form of relaxing and John's is a little different.  He gives in to creative urges and plays/writes music.   I organize.  I tackled the armoire in the guest room which resulted in a small pile of items to pass along, one small grocery bag of items to be tossed and left me puzzled by one empty drawer and one portion of a shelf left free.  I really didn't move that much stuff out.  Even more puzzling was that all the fabric, including the new pieces (!) that I'd never put in the cabinet were all neatly stored together even though I did not toss any fabric.  I'm still shaking my head, but quite happy.  No cost organizing.

Mama went to the meat market and bought meats.  I knew the moment John walked into the kitchen Tuesday afternoon and saw me portioning the meats out that he'd want a steak dinner.  So I made him a steak dinner.  I truly think we might have gotten three servings from that piece of steak but there was a fat/connective tissue that ran awkwardly down the middle of the piece and it was a natural division into two pieces.  I'll watch for that next time I thaw a section and see if I can't manage it more efficiently.

I got creative with the sides. I discovered that one of the leftovers I'd meant to use and thought John had eaten for weekend supper was not all used up after all.  There was enough rice for two with a few minor additions.  I bought Jasmine rice last time I bought it and I have to say I really really like it.  It doesn't clump together and does seem to be less starchy than the super inexpensive ones I've bought in the past.  Best of all is that at Aldi, I'm barely paying more for the Jasmine rice...but I digress.  The rice lent itself well to a pilaf of sorts with mushrooms, onions, red peppers and a tiny splash of soy sauce and some cooking sherry.

I used the last of the bag of spinach with sliced fresh strawberries to make our salad.  A sprinkle of almonds only adds to the tastiness. We like this salad with blue cheese dressing (and it's quite good to add a bit of chicken if you happen to have leftovers on hand.

Thursday:  John's lunch was packed and breakfast made for him before he left for work this morning.

His last words haunt me.  When he asked what my plans were for the day, I said 'To be at home.'  "Don't do too much..."  Well I did.  I did entirely too much and by noon time I was sweltering hot and aching  and worn out and the house was a complete shambles.  I stopped for a dinner of reheated frozen leftovers (cleaning the freezer out of several yeast containing items) and put my feet up and hit the house hard all over again until nearly 5pm.  At day's end my living room looked fresh and new and I'd not bought a single thing.

I made Sweet N Saltines for cookies for the cookie jar and used up 1 1/2 sleeves of saltines (another item with yeast).  That filled the cookie jar and made my supper with a glass of milk.

I made two loaves of Challah (used a package of yeast).

I shopped at home in my pantry/freezer: 1 packet yellow rice, 1 can of black beans, 1 gallon of milk, 1 bottle olive oil, 5 pounds of flour, 1/2 cup of buttermilk, two cans of tuna.  Just imagine having to go to store to get that and the cost of it all.  Mind you it still cost me money but it was all bought on sale and there was a savings in gasoline because I didn't have to drive anywhere at all to get it.

I washed a very full load of dishes this afternoon.

Friday:  The value of a hard day's work yesterday proved to be a very solid night's sleep.  I went to bed early and slept hard.  And felt pretty good this morning, aside from some aching muscles.

I made biscuits using the buttermilk I took from the freezer last night.  I often buy buttermilk then freeze in 1/2 cup portions (I really should do 1 cup portions but I don't have one cup containers.  I re-use KFC sides containers which hold exactly 1/2 cup with room for expansion).  The buttermilk separates but it works just as well as ever in any recipe which calls for buttermilk.  I used my last portion, so time to buy another half gallon.

I had a single piece of chicken left from our fried chicken dinner earlier in the week and  I set it aside to make chicken biscuits. I reheated the boneless piece of breast and cut into two serving pieces and popped into a hot baked biscuit.  Yum!

I went out to the shed this morning in a hunt for some items to decorate indoors.  I found a few pieces which improved some areas I was unhappy with but not all I wanted to find.  I know I have more.  The shed is such a jumble I just can't find things.  I must buy shelves to go out there so I can better find my stuff.

Sarah asked about my shed.  When we bought this home we failed to note that there were exactly three closets in the place.  One in each bedroom.  It took us no time to figure out that meant we had no real storage areas.  We've turned the guest closet into a food pantry with a small freezer and shelving for dry goods.  I also store some unused curtains/spreads, etc on an overhead shelf as well as a few booth items so that spot is pretty packed.  John has a closet in the music room which contains mostly his overflow of music stuff and books and I'm not sure just what all.  Then we have our clothing and luggage, gift wrap stuff and long term paperwork storage in our room closet.    Even before my flea market days I was a roadside gatherer, dumpster diver and junk shop explorer.  Then there were seasonal items for decorating, flower pots and furniture that had to be stored over winter.  It all was crammed here in the house and John bought a shed for me to call my own storage.  It's benefitted family and friends in storing their furniture and belongings between homes and appliances that were useful but replaced until they moved on to new homes.  I think it's 8X10 and boy has it been useful.  Well worth every penny we paid for it.

Not much required today.  I made dinner and used an alternative menu: Tuna melts and vegetable soup.  The morning was cool and cloudy.  I thawed the pint of vegetable soup for last night's supper and then was too tired to heat and eat.  To stretch it to serve two I added a little water and some vegetables I'd frozen in a zippered baggy.

John used oyster crackers in his soup (using up more of our yeast foods).

I had two boiled eggs but didn't feel I needed both for tuna salad, so I mixed up a small portion of egg salad for sandwich filling.  I put that and the leftover tuna salad into jars to store in the fridge.

I mixed up pizza dough for tomorrow's dinner.  (Used 1 package of yeast).

I prepped vegetables and cheese for tomorrow's dinner.

Tagged items for booth.

Shifting the stuff about in the fridge, I found the jar of sliced fresh pineapple.  We had that for afternoon snack today.

John took off trash and picked up mail on his way back.

Living Well

Spring arrived last week.  The world has taken on an air of awakening.  Yes, the mornings can still be chilly but afternoons are warm and lovely.

In the mornings, I love looking at the pastel skies and glancing over across the field to see the Bradford Pear trees standing in their lovely blooms.

But I love most of all to look out at the Forsythia blooms.  On the foggiest morning they are bright and sunny.  On a sunny day they are beyond brilliant.  They are my favorite the moment.



sparky136 said...

I like Forsythia , too or golden bells as we call them. I know spring is here when I see them blooming.

Anonymous said...

Checked in here before I finished your letter and forgot to mention this.....Check your Ace Hardware. Ours is running a special on paint. You can get 4 of the little sample cans of paint of your choice for 99c each. All have to be different colors. Good till the end of the month only. I will collect my color ideas and get some to redo shelves and picture frames etc. ..Now I am back to reading this good post!! :-) Sarah

Anonymous said...

I have an old used small metal shed that my husband threatens to dismantle but I hope he does not. ! :) It mostly has garden things in it but also the walker and such medical things we have used several times and loaned out even more. We found a little metal cabinet for $5 at a garage sale and store some things in it. Right now it needs a good clean out. The walker and potty seat, canes and such are crammed in there and you can't get to anything else! If I had my way I would have a bigger shed so it can be arranged better. I am glad I have the one I have. I thought I could nail a thingie to the wood strip in it to hang my out of season wreaths on I covered with a plastic bag. Your mentioning wreaths made me think of this. Thanks! :-) I thought of doing it on the back of the little garage door but this is better and more hubby approved too!! :)))
It is hard to not over due when we have the energy and time for work isn't it. Even though we know we might be sore and extra tired later. That inner peace and satisfaction is so rewarding.
Today is our 45th anniversary and the years have flown by. Seems each year has passed as fast as if our life was but a book and each page a year of it. Sarah

Anonymous said...

I love forsythia. I never see it here. Have wondered if it would grow this far north. I should check that out. Otherwise a sprig of silk forsythia on my mantle would be pretty.

I bought new dark brown hand towels for my bathroom and put them out just yesterday. My pretty orange ones have gotten so dingy. I can't seem to get them clean anymore. We do live on a farm With all that entails, so he does come in dirty. I do have to remember that. It is our livelihood, but I see the new towel is snagged already. Sigh!

We were watching grandchildren in their home this past week. It was a good time, but it is nice to be home. My house really needs some attention, but this nana is tired so taking it easy today. The dirt will still be here when I do get to it.

Enjoyed your post, as usual. Pam

Karla Neese said...

Boy do I identify with your need for a shed! We have a closet in each bedroom (3) and the laundry room which has shelves opposite the washer and dryer. 2 years ago a drunk driver hit the corner of our home where the bathtub was in our master bathroom. So, when getting it repaired, instead of replacing the bathtub we put in a storage closet. Oh boy was that a huge deal! Now, I just need to organize all of these closets because they are a total mess.

Annabel Smith said...

I love the map on the table! Well done!
We don't have cable or paid TVs. It sounds like there are lots of ways around it now.
We are welcoming autumn and it's lovely too winter and summer are the harsh months, autumn and spring are the easy seasons. Xxxx

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