This Week in My Home: Frugal On the Go

I couldn't be happier...Free books for reviews.  I joined Blogging for Books last month and just received my second selection.  It's a nice hard back copy this time and yes, the books really are free!

Saturday:  I filled the coffee jar with the free bag of coffee I picked up yesterday.

John fixed the toaster, which didn't work earlier this week.  He didn't do anything much to it but smash the lever harder than I'd been able to do.  But it works!  That means we can put off buying a new for a little longer.

Bagged up ice this morning and put in the freezer.  It's not unusual as days heat up to run out of ice and I thought I'd get ahead a little.  It also is handy for grabbing to ice down foods when we're shopping or traveling.  Why buy when I can make more?

Made up a pitcher of Koolaid.  We are finding we like this quite well as a substitute for soda and it's good!  I'd forgotten how good it was.

I cracked a tooth yesterday while eating crunchy peanut butter on toast.  It doesn't hurt at all so  I won't go to dentist just yet...I hope to put it off until after this baby is born and then I'll go.  In the meantime, if I want peanut butter, I'll just pull out the jar of creamy and open it up, lol.

Made dinner here at home.  I could have used one of the frozen entrees, but I wanted to use some things in the fridge, so made a from scratch meal.  After talking with Katie, she may well end up with a few of my freezer entrees for when this little one arrives.

Made a quick cake for sweet snacks and desserts.  I used the old fashioned one bowl cake recipe that makes a single layer.  I meant to add some crushed pineapple, but when I saw the can of mandarin oranges on the pantry shelf, inspiration said "Let's try that."  It made the cake a little heavy.  Though I drained the can, diced the fruit and drained it again, I think it was just too much fruit.  But you know it tasted really good, so not a bad experiment.

Just realized the problem with the cake was likely that I baked it at the same time the chicken was cooking...I'll just bet the oven wasn't 'dry' enough for that cake to rise to full potential...I'll keep in mind that there is no savings in combining cakes in an oven with moist air.

Sunday:  Packed John's lunch.  Made him breakfast.

Loaded dishwasher and filled it full.  I went ahead and washed that load, but on a shorter cycle since the dishes were all rinsed yesterday when I stacked them in the sink.

Baggies in the dishpan got a little greasy.  I was tempted to just toss them, but I've cut way back on how many baggies I purchase these days and I'm not anxious to throw away perfectly good ones.   I set them to soak in hot water with plenty of soap.  That  cut the grease just fine.

I didn't have big plans for today though it is Mother's Day. I heard from my children, because they are good to call or text on Mother's Day, but I didn't expect any of them to visit. So I made my plans to suit me.  There was an errand run into town, where I delivered Mama breakfast, gift and card, and then went to the grocery, and by the post office.

I came home to tend to the bill box and get things ready to be paid for tomorrow.

I balanced the check register... Gracious, I made a mess of things with that.  My check numbers were all off and out of order.  Thankfully the amounts were all correct and there were no surprises, but I can't imagine were my head was when I filled out that last section of register!

I made up a couple of freezer meals for Katie for after the baby is born and inventoried what I had in the freezer that might be suitable for them as well. I hope to spend a little time at the end of the month prepping a couple of freezer meals for my moving children so they can settle in without wondering where to go for takeout right off the bat.  I know they mentioned they are trying not to grocery shop so they don't have to move groceries...Only one of the meals for Katie involved purchasing foods. All the rest were made with what we had on hand in the freezer, or was a doubled or halved recipe of foods we were already having.

Put together a picnic kit of plates, napkins, cups, snack foods that we can grab and go when desire strikes.  I went ahead and used my own collection of 1/2 cup jars to pack up mini portions of peanut butter, jam, mayonnaise, pickle relish. I made up a small zippered bag of a roll of crackers, some dried fruit, and  I started a basket in the fridge for foods we can grab to go in our cooler as well. Carrot and celery sticks, salad dressing, juice, and even a block of cheese.  Except for sandwich fillings and bread I am picnic ready in minutes.

Even though this is our pay week I plan to skip buying groceries this week.  We may run out to buy snack foods and deli meats but I will not be doing a big grocery shop this week.  The money spent on snacks and deli meats is not my grocery budget money.  This is money set aside just especially to purchase foods we'd not normally indulge in.

When the house got a little warmer this afternoon I left the thermostat strictly alone and turned on fans to help increase air flow. I found the AC began to work better.

After I mopped floors this morning I poured the buckets (two this morning... Oh my floors were dirty!), over the flower pots outdoors.  I've done this for years, even with the cleaners in the mop water and I've never ever had a plant turn up and die over it.  In fact, it seems to help keep pests down a little.

Noticed one of the orchids had a dying leaf and wasn't looking at all well.  I checked the soil and found it was damp.  They do not like to sit and soak their feet at all.  I dumped out the excess water and apologized to it.  I think it will find life is worth living after all now.

Used leftover water in water bottles we used yesterday to water the violets this morning.   I have been tempted twice at least to water this fake green plant on the mantle.  I glad I keep remembering at the last moment that it's a fake plant!

While working on the porch this morning, I trimmed away some dead leaves on my ivy plant which is not looking too chipper either..I think it has a mildew problem.  Anyway, a perfectly healthy bit of branch broke right off.  I brought it indoors and poked it down in the water with the other pieces I'm rooting.

Monday:  Golly what a long day this proved to be and that was just the first half of  it!  I woke especially early and when I couldn't go back to sleep I got up and got busy.

I started a full load of laundry right away.

While the clothes washed I cleaned up the dishes I left yesterday.  It was only myself at home and I figured that was my mother's day gift to myself.  It took less than five minutes to hand wash.

I colored my hair this morning.   Now that my hair is very short, I think I'll cut my next colorings to using just 1/3 of a bottle.  I eyeball the measuring of the two components.  I had fully saturated my hair this morning and had solution leftover.  I had been using 1/2 of each (I keep a bottle to mix in so I don't have to waste any of the solutions.

Made 3 loaves of Challah bread.

Here's a bit of time saving: I went out to the shed this morning to put in a few items and noticed on my way out of the back door the line of flower pots I've been meaning to put in the shed.  Since putting up the new shelves and organizing it took just moments to put things away, then I was able to put the flowers pots away right away.

Made tuna salad for sandwich filling.  I always add diced apple to my tuna.  It cuts the acidity of the fish and extends it at the same time.

I made spaghetti sauce yesterday and set a portion aside for our dinner today.  I cooked some pasta and realized after it was nearly cooked that it was enough for one...sigh.  I scooped it up and put it i a baggy with a tiny bit of oil.  That went into the freezer.   I used the hot water in the pot to cook a box of spaghetti.

I used up some leftover lettuce I'd made a salad with late last week.

John and I went down to his work place and picked up his check.  We did our banking, posted our payments, took a trunk load of trash off to the dumpsters (I brought out the last batch of trash from the shed this morning).

I played with the Kindle my son gave me last month and became a little more familiar with it.   I think I'm going to enjoy using it.  I decided this evening that I'm going to use it every day this week to really get to know it.

Watered plants with water from the buckets under the house eave drip points.

We ended up doing three loads of clothes and laundry today.  All of it was hung to dry on the clothesline.   With temperatures in the mid 90Fs today and a steady breeze they dried quickly enough.

We got a lot of work done today and we worked hard all day long.  Our down time was that drive to John's workplace.  John took the long way home.  We both appreciated that rest time and were refreshed enough to tackle our last tasks when we got home.  I hope our pay off is not just the clean house and porches but a really good night's rest.

Tuesday:  We headed away today!  Obviously, we've planned this trip ahead.  It is by choice we rent a condo with a kitchenette and I pack those items which would be most expensive to purchase: butter, foil, condiments, olive oil, small jars of peanut butter and jelly, etc.  Even sodas, since I often purchase those on sale with a FREE coupon and I can't always count on sales in the stores where we might shop away from our home grounds.

We stopped for a lovely picnic lunch at a pavilion next to a big lake.  There were lots of children and mamas about that day and it was fun to watch them play.

John saved us a bit of aggravation and time.  He suggested, about 20 miles out of St. Augustine, that we stop at the Publix in that area, rather than have to fight busy traffic and tiredness to drive into St. Augustine proper to shop.   Smart man.

Want to know what we splurged upon this vacation?  I bought 1/2 pound of good beef bologna, and 1/3 pound of a Black Forest Smoked Turkey.  We got 1/4 pound of Boar's Head Baby Swiss, too.  All of that splurge cost us just about $10.  We bought chicken from the deli for a hot meal that night.

In produce we bought fresh apricots (FOUR instead of the one I usually allow myself), and Campari tomatoes which I love but rarely buy despite their most excellent flavor.  And two lovely big thick steaks.

We indulged in packaged Chocolate Chip cookies...and that was our big splurge.  Mind you groceries cost about what they might have here at home.

The water on the island is sulphurous, so we usually buy water.  I had meant to buy a 24 pack of individual bottles, when John pointed out gallons were $.79 each.  We bought two gallon bottles.

How did I save?  I shopped with a list in my hand, so those items that were not splurges would not be forgotten, which would result in another trip to another store.

Best buy I've ever made: a French shopping cart (sold in the laundry section of Target, in the Living Aids department at Walmart) that folds flat.  Generally when we arrive at hotel the luggage carts are flat gone.  We load up the groceries and smaller bags into that cart and haul them painlessly up to the condo.  I bought mine about three or four years ago and it's saved many a strained muscle/fit of temper/second or third trip to the car.

Wednesday:  Waking to sunrise on the beach...what could possibly be better?  Having an omelet and homemade hash browns and hot coffee served to you on the balcony overlooking the sunrise and beach, that's what!  Lovely morning to wake up to.

We had debated what we'd like to do this trip, since it was to be a little shorter than usual.  We had only two or three 'musts' on our list and one possibility.  The possibility was tickets for the trolley in town.  My gracious inflation had hit and we just could not justify spending that much for a ticket we'd use only one day (they are good for three days).  It would be nice if they offered a one day pass but they don't.  It wasn't hard to walk away from that expense.

John and I found we could park near the City gates for four hours for $6.  That was a savings of nearly $66.  We WALKED down some of the streets we'd have seen on the trolley, visited a shop an then walked up to our favorite coffee shop and had coffees.  John pointed out that even with the cost of the coffees we'd still 'saved' $56, lol.  We walked a bit more and then headed back to our car.  We'd been gone for less than the four hours we'd purchased the ticket for.  As we stood looking at the unused ticket, a young man went up to the meter to buy a ticket.  John offered him ours which had more than two hours left on it.  That was fun, to give someone an unexpected blessing.

It was so hot and humid.   My goodness.  I was most grateful for the new shorter hair cut which looks quite nice even when soaking wet.

We drove down to the inlet to have dinner at the restaurant there.  John handed the waitress $5 and asked her to put it all in the jukebox, choosing whatever she'd like.  All through our meal, we'd hear one patron or another say, "Oh I'm so glad you put the music on..."  It was fun to watch the people on the deck outside as they sang along and tapped their feet.  Several of the staff came by the table to thank us, too.

We had a delicious meal.  I ordered blackened Mahi Mahi and John had a thick and beautiful burger.

All in all, we ended up spending less money on all that we did that day than we'd have paid for trolley tickets.

We had leftovers from the previous night's supper for our supper.

Thursday:  Foggy morning outdoors.  It was neat to sit in the fog on the balcony and hear the crash of the waves, though we couldn't see them.

I made pancakes and sausage for breakfast.  I brought pancake mix and sausages and maple syrup with us.

John suggested about 11am that I pack a picnic lunch ( I told you that plans are always up in the air!).  I had no idea what we were about to do but I packed up a lunch for us.

It was a lovely plan and perfectly timed: we drove down old A1A to Ormond by the Sea, arriving at Grace Lutheran church at noon.  The carillon plays at that time and there we were with our picnic meal enjoying the lovely sound of the bells playing hymns.   No fear that we were trespassing.   Several people stop to hear the bells and the church offers up their parking lot to beach goers 6 days a week, as well.

We drove slowly back to our condo, enjoying the views of "Old Florida" motels and wild beaches.

We decided to cook steak for supper.  After looking the steaks over, we decided one would do just fine for our meal.  I wrapped the other and froze it.

Friday:  Packing up is the saddest part of vacation isn't it?  We watched sunrise on the beach first.
It did help take the sting out of the thought of leaving.

I made breakfast for us and sandwiches for on the road.

We stopped at the Georgia Welcome center and picnicked there.  It's full of moss hung oaks and the tables are almost all shaded.  There are restrooms, too.  It's a popular stop with travelers and many of those who stop do picnic.  It is a busy place but has an atmosphere of holiday about it,  so no one hastens away but really do take their time to stretch their legs.

No supper for us here at home tonight.  I didn't have time to thaw anything and we were too tired to stop in town.  We scratched about and found foodstuffs to eat.

John washed a load of clothes and hung on the line to mostly dry.

Living Well


Kathy said...

So glad that you were able to get away for a few days! Love the ocean!

Julie Baker said...

Vacation is so rejuvenating. Yours sounds like it was just lovely.

Anonymous said...

That is one reason you spend your money so wisely on other have money to spend on things you personally enjoy in life. Wether it is giving away $5 worth of music or the holiday itself. What a wonderful and romantic :-) time you must have had.
I have started freezing single serving meals too. Many times Hubby wants a nice full meal and all I am needing is maybe a yoghurt and some fruit. So now am set for the both of us so much easier! Thanks again Terri !!
We use our shopping cart..or a dolly, to bring bird seed bags or bags of mulch etc into the house or yard. They are so helpful aren't they. Or even to load things to bring into the garage to store. plants
I rooted some ivy and purple Wondering Jew to put in different spots recently. Our old boysenberry plants are so thin now I moved them all together in one area instead of strung out and started a few new plants. The old ones were gotten marked down at the end of the season sale 20+ years ago. We don't have wild berries around here. A good portion of our plants were given as rooting from others or as gifts. I loved reading how you found the coleus leaf on the store floor and rooted it! :) That is recycling to the max!!...skip composting the leaf..instead grow a whole new plant!!!! One of our other berries was from a women was digging out she had she did not want but we did!!
Thanks for the hint on baking the cake with other things...good to know. Thank you. Sarah

JoAnn Baker said...

I loved reading about your vacation! It sounded as though you had a lovely time. Since it is summer, it is almost time for us to visit our grandbabies up north... thanks for the picnic ideas!

Lana said...

We know and love that drive up A1A very well! And that welcome center is a lovely place to stop. My parents own a timeshare at Daytona Beach and we get invited to join them. We love meeting them there. Last year we saw the most beautiful moon rise. I have always wanted to go and stay at St. Augustine and so I envy you. One cannot go so close to elderly parents and not go on to see them. :)

This week we will be traveling to Boston to visit our middle son and his wife. We plan to visit Amish country, Monticello and Stonewall Jackson's home on the way home.

Kool aid is good! I haven't had it in years! We are green tea drinkers here for the most part.

Janell in Georgia said...

So glad you enjoyed the trip. I giggled when you said you add apple to your tuna. Growing up my mom always made turkey salad with the dark meat and added boiled eggs, apple, sweet pickle relish, and mayo. I will never forget the first time I made it after we married. I was so excited. I made a sandwich and put it in my husband's lunch. He came home that evening and told me he didn't eat his sandwich because something was wrong with it. It had something crunchy in it. He had thrown it away. Now turkey or chicken salad at my house is shredded meat and mayo only.

Karla Neese said...

Oh I just adore the ocean and wish I was closer than an 8 hour trip away from it! I love how you kept your frugal ways even on vacation so you were able to bless others and yourselves with treats that were extra special because of the savings! And just think how much more you got to see just by walking!

I too am a big Kool-aid fan - Black Cherry is my favorite!

I haven't taken any vacation so far this year (just 1 or two days for family functions) but we have been thinking about somewhere close we might go for a long weekend or something. Still thinking on that!

I love Janell's story of the turkey salad sandwich with her husband! LOL The things we do for love! :)

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you had a lovely vacation. We all need that every so often. You did well on your budget. Glad it was so fun. Pam

Mariana Cisowska said...

Dear Terri,

I found your blog through The Prudent Homemaker.
I love all of your frugal weekly updates!

Quick question - how do you make Challah bread? What is your 'go to' (no fail) recipe? I tried a few times but it just never comes out right.

Thanks so much

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