This Week In My Home: Ambition + Inspiration = Determination to Save

What I really want to show you are the two beautiful feather stuffed pillows I picked up for $7 at a thrift store the other day...part of a future tiny makeover in the living room...alas there are woes with Windows 8.1 that sometimes allows me to upload my photos and mostly doesn't these days.  So what I'm showing instead is a former shot of the little side flower bed I redid last year.  I wish it looked half so good just now but that's due to change as I'm feeling so much better.  In the meantime,  I want you to know that pretty on a budget is entirely possible if we'll just use what we have in a creative manner, as I did here.  This little flower bed cost me three bags of mulch and a lot of sweat equity.  Everything else was on hand, including the flower filled pots I moved from other parts of the yard.

Saturday:  My favorite day of the week.  Namely because I like to use today to gather inspiration.  I read magazines, blogs, scan Pinterest, jot down ideas and just thoroughly stoke my creative engines.  While it may seem that inspiration has been sadly lacking of late, it coming...I can feel it!  Hopefully this week will be proof.

John worked a 24 hour shift which started yesterday morning at 7am.  I pack him a healthy lunch bag meant to last him through snacks and lunch and supper.  What it doesn't do is feed him a good hefty breakfast, especially when he wakes at 4am and works three hours before coming home.  I didn't want to serve him our usual light breakfast of bagel/cream cheese so I planned ahead.  Whole grain waffles from the freezer, sausage patties, fresh fruit almost filled him up and he found enough extra (crackers and more fruit) to satisfy him.

Baked an awesome all in one dish for dinner.  I didn't even need to have side salad as it was chock full of vegetables.  And I put a dish of under ripe peach halves in the oven alongside that dish to bake. Oh my goodness!  I'd forgotten how prone heat is to bring up the sugary taste of fruit.  I served the peach halves as dessert with a dollop of whipped cream.  It was so yummy!

Curtains have been pulled on the sunny sides of the house to prevent the heat from coming in.

I took a dishpan of water out last night, meaning to use it to water plants in the back.  Well, I found ants swarming the porch in the spots where Maddie had set down her frozen bones, so I used that dishwater to rinse the pests off the porch.

Refilled dog pans with water and watered the front flower pots, while I was at it.  The cat drinks only from those front buckets, so I make sure to keep them filled to the rim or she gets dehydrated and sick.  I waited until after yesterday's brief showers to see if enough runoff from the roof refilled them but alas, no.

Living Well:  I've groused and groused about our internet connection which comes and goes, sometimes multiple times in an hour.  Yes, we've complained to our provider and their answer is that it's our router.  Its not the router.  Reading back through my blog I found we complained of the same thing in 2011 and it ended up being a wired problem which was fixed.  Anyway, complaining, complaining...BUT what good has come of this?  I've been reading once more.  I keep my book next to me when I'm working on the computer and if I can't continue with a survey or search due to internet outages, I read.  Result is I've finished two books in less than two weeks.  I've 'found time' to read all over again and some mornings, I'll take an hour's reading over an hour of cruising the internet.

Sunday:  I got up early enough to finish preparing dinner for after church service today.

I packed water and crackers to serve as snack after service.

Went by the grocery to pick up my prescriptions.  I had a mental list.  Should have stuck to it, sigh.  I spent all the money I saved today and then some.

On the other hand, John has been drinking the electrolyte drinks on these hot days when he's mown grass or is working.  I have no problem with this and think it very wise (it was 104 yesterday just as an idea of heat.  Not sure what heat index was with the humidity).  He's averaged $.88 each on sale for these drinks and usually gets two servings from each bottle.  I appreciate that he splits the bottles but multi-packs were on sale today and they averaged $.38 each, a big enough savings to warrant the immediate expense.

My splurge, a real splurge today, was the current issue of "Country Home" which is not published monthly any longer.  The issue cost me $13 but I very much enjoy it and never regret this particular magazine purchase.  I skipped the flowers I'd promised myself to offset the cost.

Came home (at last!) and ate the dinner prepared before I left home this morning.

Planned meals for the week.  Set out meats to thaw.

Went over grocery budget and decided that with the purchases made on Friday and purchases made today, I'd best leave off a big shop entirely.  I made out a short list of absolute outages (carrots, potatoes, celery) and items I knew we'd need by end of pay period (egg, milk, fruit, lettuce) and call it a good grocery week.  I'll wait to purchase these nearer next weekend when I'll most likely need those items, perhaps even the first of the following week.

John washed a load of clothes and hung most to dry.

I washed a full load of dishes.

We fought ants.  All. Day. Long. sigh.  Hot and dry, they come in, just as they do when it's cold and wet.  I wish they'd build their own house.  I give up on natural remedies and just go straight for the poisonous stuff because in the end it's less expensive to just kill them right away before they start invading foodstuffs.

Used the water from the dishpan to water plants on back porch.

Living Well:  I had planned to buy flowers today...but the magazine I purchased is a well loved publication that is published only a few times a year.  No subscription available, so no savings there. What I wanted to point out here is that I chose the magazine and didn't also buy the flowers.  This is part of living well, making choices instead of frustrating budgets with an overload of wanted items and having to forgo much needed ones.  Yes, there are times I long for days when I don't have to make choices and can indulge my wants and have all I need besides.  But part of living well is to live responsibly as well.  It is my responsibility to make my needs feed into the budget I actually have...and with care, I can squeeze in a wanted item here and there, too.  

I also believe in savoring my indulgences.  So I set the magazine aside when I came home and am saving it to read this coming Shabat.  I mean to thoroughly enjoy that magazine.  And I'll save it for looking at later on, as I have others of that same issue. 

Monday:  Went to doctor this morning.  I am down another 10pounds!  I was so pleased as I'd thought it might take two months to get to my first personal goal.  Apparently I underestimated the power of measured foods.

We skipped going back to the grocery to fill a prescription.  I have plenty of the medication on hand and shall save that prescription for later in the month when I may well need more since I'm on a split dosage.

The good doctor gave me a bottle of a spray antibiotic medication for my sore throat.

I really messed up my time scheduling this morning and I didn't make dinner before leaving home as I'd planned.  John generously offered to buy lunch.  His choice wasn't available and his second choice...well it wasn't what I should have had.  I'm going to get myself in gear this week and start planning and prepping foods and  make sure I get some meals in the freezer for convenience sake that are good healthy choices as well as having some heat and eat something in the fridge for days like today.

John was paid today, but he works tomorrow.  I have given him a deposit slip and will wait for him to deposit his check, then I'll write out checks for tithes and to cover bills and go post them, do my banking, etc.

On our way home today, we stopped to wash and vacuum the car.  Glad that we did!  As we began to vacuum, John noted our back tire was very low.  There was a tire repair place right across the street. The funds for the tire repair came from our car maintenance fund, as did the car wash fee.

While at the tire place, I dug deep into the magazine basket and pulled out all sorts of things I'd not normally read...Santa Barbara magazine is very very high end, well out of my range, but it never hurts to see how the higher income folks live.  All You, gave me an idea for a meal.  Weight Watchers interested me enough that I pulled out one of the tear away subscription cards. Amazing Wellness netted me a couple of supplements I want to ask my doctor about when I go back for my return visit in two weeks.  Garnet Hill convinced me that I have a thrifty streak two miles wide and just as long.  Every item I liked, I made note of so I could shop for a similar look in thrift and clearance sections.

John made sandwiches for his lunch tomorrow while I put together the rest of the items for his lunch bag.

Living Well:  I just have to share this.  The young doctor's aide that took my vitals today complimented me on my 'look'.  I wore the black jeans (the only ones that look decent on me at present), a sleeveless  print top that is peach/coral/cream/red/ black, two vintage faux ivory beaded necklaces and a vintage ivory enamel bracelet edged in fine black lines, my new peach colored sandals and my old orange handbag.  I felt I looked nice this morning, but I sure appreciated a very attractive young girl taking note and complimenting me!  It made all that work this spring/summer worthwhile.

Tuesday:  Packed John's work lunch.  Made him breakfast.

No savings for me on breakfast.  I burned three pieces of toast this morning.  I'm not fond of blackened toast.  I don't know why that toaster is cooking so hot at present, but I adjusted it until it stopped burning my bread.

Colored my hair this morning...and realized that 1/3 of the kit would cover my hair nicely.  I poured out color solution this morning because even mixed by half it was just too much with my short, fine, thin hair.  Duly noted, I shall make sure to mix up just 1/3 next go round.

Culled a few more items from the closet to put into the donation pile.  Shoes went in this time.  I had a few I never wear and a couple were just too big.

Washed sheets and hung on line outdoors to dry.

John deposited his check.  I wrote out tithes and bills and went into town to post them.  I went by the bank while I was out to get grocery and allowance funds.

Received my new book from Blogging for Books...and just in time.  I had less than 15 minutes reading to finish my current read.

Cut down on the grocery funds this go round.  I'd spent a little more than half of this pay period's funds over the weekend.  I'm not upset in the least.  I restocked chicken in the freezer and we stocked up on the good bread and some electrolyte drinks for John for these hot days when he's working outside.  No junk items, just good solid foods.  What's left should nicely cover the few items I feel I'll need later in the pay period.

Cashed out my survey funds monies and deposited them in my bank.

Made sure to check eBay for pricing some items I want to add to the booth.

Came home to eat leftovers for my mid day meal.  Two items from the freezer, one a leftover from this past weekend.  I'd been tempted to eat out...but in the end I chose to just come on back home.

Living Well:  A sure cure to frustration?  Inspiration.  All it took to inspire me this morning was to get OUT of the house and ride along the country back roads on my way back home.  This fired my imagination and I began to see how I could use what I have on hand to refresh some of those areas that have been frustrating me due to lack of funds.  Ha!  Take that frustration! When I got home,  I dug about and found a few pieces I've held onto for a while.  I'll be incorporating them into freshened areas about the house.

Another sure cure?  To realize that some areas of my home satisfy me very much.  Namely: the living room, both baths, and the kitchen areas please me greatly.  I just need to tweak a few areas, not the whole house.

And my final cure: do what I can NOW and let what must wait, wait.  I can weed the flower beds and do some trimming, even if I can't replant them just yet.  I can paint the porch railings and freshen up the entry doors and even paint a few pieces of furniture with what paint I have on hand.  It's not what I want exactly, but it will spruce things up and and in the end I'll be a lot happier with what I have.

Wednesday:  Made a dozen muffins this morning.  I used half whole wheat flour  and while my recipe called for Quick Oats, I had old fashioned.  I soaked the old fashioned oats in the milk (made fat free milk from powdered) first so they would be softer, like the quick oats.  I didn't have a pear, but  I had peaches...Get the idea?  It was a substitution recipe but it turned out just great.  Ever since I learned that adding 2-4 tbsp extra liquid to a recipe when using whole wheat flour, I've felt very comfortable substituting half for the all-purpose flour called for.

Went out this morning and weeded that small flower bed pictured above.  It desperately needs flowers...but it looks 80% better even without the fresh flowers in the pots.

Prepped our supper ingredients while dinner cooked today.  I steamed potatoes and boiled eggs (in the same pot, in the same water) and put a steamer basket atop that to steam the green beans.  All those ingredients went into out supper salad: Tuna Nicoise.

Somebody tell me why I'm just now realizing that canned tuna is a great convenience food?  I have a dozen cans I think courtesy that sale at Kroger several months ago.

My purpose in prepping supper:  John had an appointment out of town.

Ow...Dental work ahead and more medical bills, sighs.

Electric bill in the mail, today.  No shock that the amount was up.  Not a whole lot we can do about that when daily temperatures have averaged 104F.  Looking for the silver lining, I realized that (a) we paid much much more than this 25 years ago for cooling our home 8 days a month...(b) the 'new' unit is five years old.  But it's far less expensive to run than the old unit.  Still I hadn't planned on it going up that much.  Not sure just yet where I'll find the funds for the overage but I'll find it.  That's why I'm all about savings.

In light of the dental work, I was all for coming straight home and preparing our planned supper.

I made pudding today.  I always try to put it in the fridge in serving sized portions.  I love those little 4oz mason jars for this, as well as those KFC single serve plastic dishes with snap on lids.

I've had some trouble with my eyes, apparently allergy related.  Washing with a salt water solution helps.  It's an old remedy and like most of them, works rather well.

I drained the tuna into a glass dish to save for pouring over the pet food tomorrow.

Living Well:  I was shocked this morning, in a good way, at how much better that small flower bed next to the steps looked just because I pulled up the wild flowers in  it.  It might sound counterproductive to pull up wildflowers and then lament the lack of flowers, but the reason that bed was cleared was to keep water and power lines free of entangling I pulled them up and I guess I'll keep pulling them up until they decide that is no longer the spot to be.

But what lifted my spirits most of all was seeing how two or three of those poor neglected petunias I bought just before going into the hospital are struggling to bloom and shine despite their smallness in comparison to the huge pot they are in.  It made me smile as much as the bed being free and clear of the overgrowth.  

Thursday:  Went out this morning to pick up the weeds I pulled yesterday.  I cut the trees out of the rose bed and pulled some more weeds.  Then I found myself cutting down small cedars and privet hedges and trimming the low hanging branches.  It was a lot of work.  John was busy mowing.  Happy though that the work SHOWS.  The work I did made a difference.  I'm inspired to continue.  I think if I can get the rose bed fairly well cleaned up on the next session I can put down new mulch and it will be good to go until autumn when I prune roses.

The mower deck broke again.  John called the local body shop and asked if they did spot welding.  They did.  For $10 the mower deck was repaired.  Savings: about $690, or the cost of a new deck.  Prayers said we get another year or three from the mower.

I bought chicken in town.  I was too pooped to cook dinner today.  I spent from my personal allowance.  We'll get a couple of meals off that and a work lunch for John.  I  got a much appreciated break.

I walked to the diner from the body shop.  It's not so very far, a good city block but it was free exercise.  Remember what I said about walking with a purpose?  It seemed to me good enough reason to walk for my dinner.

Not my savings but one courtesy of nature:  We got an inch of solid rain and the few flowers will be very happy with that.

Washed a full load of dishes in the dishwasher.

Emptied some pots of dirt into the enlarged area around the Ginkgo tree.  Another area that would benefit from a couple bags of mulch.  Thank goodness mulch is cheap!

I could never get the pets to eat today despite adding tuna water to their bowls.  I put the food away.  They will eat tomorrow.

Living Well:  You'll think I'm silly when I tell you what I'm about to call Living Well today...I had a good hard cry this morning, the sort of pity party I haven't had in quite a few months.  It all started with a small aggravation and over tiredness after working in the yard.  I cried for a good hour I reckon and it's not the first time this week either.  I have plenty to cry over and it's little to do with me.  There are some hard things going on in our families both near and extended and between that and our own season of health issues, pouring money out, having things lost or broken, etc., the pressure and strain builds.

This morning I got irritated at John, hence the spate of tears and later I spoke with lovely Bess when she called.  After I'd told all,   she quietly asked, "So are you gonna talk to him about it, start a fuss or just bury it?"  Uhmmm...I needed that question because burying it was not the best idea.  Nor was causing a fuss.  The truth was, he wasn't even aware I was upset...So I talked to him about it later, when I was calm and collected and told him what bothered me and why and what was really bothering me.   And all was well.  

Friday:  Lots to do today.  I really regretted not doing more inside work yesterday but I was too pooped after yard work and a trip to town.  The heat really just drains energy away.

I decided to make Cheese Grits as our main dish this morning. I couldn't eat toast as John did, but the cereal will hold me all morning.  I had milk, fruit to round out my meal.

Took a bottle of water with me and snacks (just in case) for our morning out.

Gathered trash to go off to dumpsters.

Repurposed a box I received in the mail to ship out some tops to V.

Stopped on my way to the grocery and got lab work done.

One stop shopping today.  I bought a whole loaf of French bread at Aldi to use as our Shabat loaf.  I'll slice the rest of the load thin and use it for our bread over the next week.  I'd rather have good tasting bread thinly sliced than a regular slice of commercial bakery bread that tastes yuck.

Decided to purchase two of the frozen pizzas this week.  I got the Mama Cozzi Margherita pizza that we liked so very well two weeks ago and a whole grain, thin crust pizza that has artichokes, tomatoes and peppers on it.  That's two convenience meals that are well within my range for carbohydrates for  a two slice serving.

We scanned the fridge and frozen sections looking for convenient frozen items that I might use.  In the end, I was just reluctant to spend the money on the offerings.  I have REAL food here at home and I can make my own convenience meals.  It's just a matter of DOING it, you know?  So I kept my cash in my pocket and will just put that on my ever increasingly long list of things to DO!

I noted a pot of succulents at the register for $5.  I've been pricing these plants and they are very pricey for something easily grown and even more easily rooted for new plants.  I guess popularity makes them higher cost.  Anyway, I chose one that didn't look too pitiful and purchased it.  I picked up all the little leaves that had been broken off and planted them in pockets of soil about the other plants.  The pot was sadly over watered and in need of sunlight really, so it's on the front porch where it can dry out and get the sunlight it's begging for.  Fingers crossed these survive for me.  I've been just longing for these sorts of plants for two years now.

Drove out of town in a different direction.  No savings for mileage and no overage either.  We scouted out the Oral Surgeon's office so we know where he's located and then went by our church to drop off the items I'd set aside for donation.

John stopped for gasoline on our way back home and filled my car.  That brought us full circle from where we started this morning.

Refused the offer of take out for lunch.  I told John I had something at home.

While I unloaded groceries, I cooked a full meal from scratch.  It was all easily prepared items, that I had in the fridge, thawed, ready to cook.

Living Well:  I've said it's a tough season we're and so it is.  These seasons come and they go just like all the others.  But I've noted that John and I are both spending more time in our prayers saying what is GOOD about this season.  Yes, the mower deck broke again...but it ended up costing just $10 to fix.  Yes the electric bill was higher, but we're so thankful the AC works.  Yes, money is pouring out like water from an open hydrant (or so it feels) but we're hanging in there and managing.  Yes, my closet is getting might bare, but the weight loss is very beneficial to my health...and I've never yet left the house naked, lol!  Yes, it does seem we're having to deal with medical issues left and right but praises be said over the insurances we purchased in the past six months.  We decided to buy Dental and Vision through John's work place investment firm.  That's coming in mighty handy right now.  And the health insurance I feared I'd never manage to pay for has been more than a blessing!  

It IS a tough season, but oh what a blessed one it is!


Anonymous said...

I cannot imagine having temps that high. Our weather people are warning us that temps may be in the high 80's next week. LOL! Congratulations on more weight loss. Excited for you and hopefully you can lose more or at least maintain until the diabetes is just something you have well under control. Thinking you will be finding some new things in your favorite stores as I know they are probably getting out the next season's stuff. I am going to try your recipe for peaches when they come into season. Sounds yummy. Gramma D

Karla Neese said...

Our temps have been just at 100 or slightly below but with the humidity the heat index has been around 105-110ish most of the week. So hot but it seems for some reason I'm finally used to it this year. I've lived in Oklahoma since 1979 so I suppose it's about time. LOL

I loved your Living Well about crying. I had a little melt down of my own this week. Just built up frustration about something at work that only has to do with me and some mistakes I can't seem to stop making. My dear husband let me vent and encouraged me and built me up with love and it was just so refreshing to get those tears out - especially since in recent years I'm not overly emotional.

We are headed to the town where my sister lives tomorrow. She is moving in with a friend and can't take some things with her so I get my grandma's rocker, my mom's old side table and some family dishes to give to my brother. I'm so excited about the rocker! I am going to add it to my sanctuary room.

Hope you have a good weekend! Much love and many blessings!

Lana said...

Blessed indeed! One of the first things my husband did was thank God for our trial of having my debit card compromised. We know that in all things He is working it for our good.

We must change our way of paying for things. At the bank today the man who helped us said that he will only use a debit card in their own ATM and no where else. We are not sure which way to jump right now. All paper work has been filed to resolve it all and get the money back into our account. We are fine as we have no debt and little need right now.

When we lived in Florida I used to put small jar lids full of water on the outside window sills for the ants and they stayed outside since the water they needed was there for them. Maybe that would be a help for you, too.

Today we had a rare treat of seeing our middle son who lives outside of Boston. We did have cash to take him to his favorite Mexican restaurant for lunch and we enjoyed a full afternoon of seeing him.

Have a good week!

Wendy Gower said...

Hi Terri. Maybe some time in the future when you have really finished reading your magazine, you could make greeting cards or gift tags from the images.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for mentioning Country Home. I will check on it. I really dislike it when magazines you love no longer have subscriptions or never did. The fantastic gardening magazine Grow is another one.
I have been pushing myself to do more work than I really have energy for. Trying to catch up on many things. But do we really ever get caught up ? :) By bed time I am over tired but have had no time to relax.This is not working. :) I a, realizing I need to further simplify the yards and places inside so there is less work to start with to keep up. Easier said then done though... LOL I know that a lot of my emotions recently have to do with all of this. Some of it I brought on myself and a lot of it I just have to live with as I cannot do anything about it. I thought am responsible for my own actions so will do what I can to relieve the tensions on what part I can. A good cry though comes at times. There are time there is no stoping it.
Our weather has been hot too and more humid than it normally is. Some days it is run out and water or check on things in the yard and run back into the house. Did I say run?? Rather Walk.... !!!! If it cools enough before dark then this is the only time to get any yard work done. I even put out the washing on the lines after supper or later. Taking it down first thing in the morning before the heat is worse. Works for me. Since the weeks seem to fly by it will be December soon enough and then we will be complaining bout Not having enough heat! !! :-)
Cheese grits ..or just grits does sound so good since you mentioned it. I will eat some tomorrow. I just got a new box last week. Our electric bill is the highest it has ever been ...but we have allowed ourselves to use the cooler enough to be more comfortable now. Not that our house ever gets cold but more comfortable that we used to let it get. It gets so hot and humid in the house many times that we have to leave and go someplace cool. We still do that but not as often Hard to explain. :) We expected the bill to be higher {but friends still say ours is way lower than theirs} but budgeted for this luxury. Cooking is always harder in the summer because truthfully I don't have much appetite when it is so hot. I have heard man people say this. I could just have a plain yoghurt with fresh fruit and call it a meal. Hubby though has other thoughts!! :-) Life always has its ups and downs. That has always been a comfort thought to me. Many time the moments we dreaded turn out to have a silver lining in it someplace. Least some do.
We are so enjoying all the summer fruit buys..and vegetables. Yummm I am drying or freezing any extra. Not much canning this summer. I have peaches in a bowl right next to me and their fragrance is so peachy!! Guess who is having one soon? Thanks for all the posts!! I just went on and found them...What a joy! Sarah

Grammy Goodwill said...

I always read your posts but rarely comment. I just want you to know that you always inspire me to try harder on my frugal journey. I have a long way to go. Hubby and I had a great weekend shopping at several local Goodwill stores. He was looking for work clothes and also found some dress shirts for church.
I'm good at shopping and saving money. It's the meals where I'm lacking.
I hope you have a good week.

Tracy Lee said...

Terri, you are a true inspiration for living well and being frugal! How wonderful to be complimented on your outfit by a younger lady!

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