This Week In My Home: Stretching to Save
Saturday: It's supposed to be a rest day and I had to restrain myself. I was unsuccessful on two scores. I went out to wash up a coffee and milk spill and watered the plants while I was out there. I used stored water that needed to be refreshed.
I decided to try and clean paint off the mosaic portion of the cafe set. It was working quite well but I stopped midway. I used a green scrubbie and dishwasher detergent.
Went out to feed the pets and found myself scraping more paint off the porch floor, sigh. So many projects! I brought myself right indoors and settled in to Bible study.
Today's dinner was a mix up of leftovers that I simply reheated and fresh foods: a beautifully colorful green salad (with carrots, tomatoes and yellow bell pepper), and a dessert of molten lava cakes. I've been craving brownies and I recalled this recipe. I though it might be less caloric than brownies since it has less sugar, less butter and less flour...and the bonus is it makes just four individual servings.
Spent time entering information I'd collected into my genealogy notebook.
After a morning spent reading blogs, I decided to go to Pinterest where I read money saving hints, looked at recipes and such. I found a couple of good salad ideas that appealed to me. I may have found a money saving hint: ordering toilet paper from Amazon in bulk...It looks like the best price is available only if you have Amazon prime. It did make me stop and do a check on something I'd never thought about before which is why I read money saving hints every week.
Living Well: It's been some time since I've been so eager to work on a project as I am at present...and I've started TWO! One is the sort that is all hard work and looks really horrid at the middle and one is just little things (though they keep adding up all those little things) that will result in something nice at the end. I'll be most happy to share both projects with you once they are done, but in the meantime, I feel my fingers itching to be at work and it's a lovely thing, this desire, genuine real desire, to get to work.
Sunday: Made John breakfast and packed the lunch I'd set up for him Friday evening.
I had my day planned...and it looked like it was all going to go off, just so. I was working on the back porch planning to paint when it began to thunder. The sky was clear...but it kept right on thundering and within a half hour we had dark skies and heavy rain and great booming thunder. No washing quilt and spread and hanging on the line, no painting. I mopped floors instead.
I put on a pan of chicken parts to boil for broth. These were carcasses, a leftover leg, backs and necks I'd been saving.
I set out meats to thaw for my big weekly meal prep.
The storm brought in cooler air. The AC stopped running non-stop and runs only intermittently now. It's not anything I personally did to save money but I'm glad of the savings!
I made enough food at lunch to carry me through supper, too. Cook once, eat twice. I can spend time doing something else besides thinking about what I need to make for my next meal.
Checked the fridge for leftovers and made sure I had a plan to use them all. Glad I checked. I'd forgotten some corn that I need to use. I have a plan...
The skies cleared, the housework was done. I thought I'd just go scan the skies and they were all clear of dark clouds. It was hot and sunny outdoors, perfect weather for painting. I got about half done with the rocker and heard the first rumble. Are you kidding me? No dark clouds anywhere but definitely thunder and soon enough the dark clouds moved in over the northwest horizon. Sigh. No more painting. I only hope every thing got dry enough to stand a bit of rain on it.
Living Well: I couldn't help but think today, as I tried to work outdoors and kept getting rained out, that these series of storms that came up out of seemingly nowhere at all, with no hint on the horizon that they were coming is a lot like life. It happens to all of us. I could still tell you all the plans I'd meant to have going on this summer and then Sam and Bess moved, and JD was stationed to California and my health has kept me home when I'd thought I'd spend a few summer Sundays with grandchildren.
Plans. They are just so many clouds in the sky aren't they? They blow in and they blow away and we spend our time making new ones.
Monday: John worked a little late this morning. Long enough to allow me time to finish painting the rocker, then shower and start Bible study.
I worked on food prep for the week. I browned 2 pounds of ground beef all at one time, with onions and garlic. I used a portion for today's casserole and made chili from the rest. The chili will make a tamale pie and chili for meals. I hadn't planned to have chili this week, but John asked for it.
I picked over the chicken bones and got nearly 2 cups chicken from them. I decided to make chicken noodle soup with a quart of the broth.
I put two quarts and 1 pint of broth in the freezer.
I used leftover creamed corn in the topping for the tamale pie.
I rinsed a can of pears to rid them of the syrup, then made our salad from them.
I put 1 quart of chili in the fridge, plus enough to make a tamale pie. I had some leftover broth and put it in a pint jar to use as a 'taco soup' base later.
I put 1 pint and 1 quart of chicken soup base in the freezer. I put 1 pint of chicken soup base in the refrigerator for supper one night this week.
I mixed leftover corn up into the corn pudding recipe that typically calls for corn muffin mix. I used my regular corn bread recipe using cornmeal mix. It's a small savings in cash and a savings in additives and preservatives. I will use this to top my tamale pie later in the week.
Living Well: I think of all the changes I've made this summer, I like this kitchen prep day the very best. I'm always happy in the kitchen, playing about with my food but sometimes resented having to give up time I'd like to spend working on a project. Well this extra hour or two each week is well worth the sacrifice. It's lovely to know I can spend all morning tomorrow working on the porch and not have to come in until just before dinnertime and set things to reheat or cook in a few minutes time. I think I'm going to keep this habit!
Tuesday: I thought perhaps we might have plans today, not mine, but John's. He prefers to be spontaneous and I try to go with the flow. I discovered that his spontaneity today was non-existent. I started to paint the front porch railings. I got two big sections done on the inside and most of the outside of the railings as well. We had the white paint on hand. I've done a fair job this month emptying out the paint cupboard of a lot of old paints.
I put a fresh coat of paint on the ironing board. It took the full can to cover that ironing board. I was glad I had a fresh coat over the ironing board. I had just enough yellow left to touch up the center of the flowers on the iron chairs.
I stenciled a sign for the back porch. I used a gold paint pen I had on hand, rather than wait to purchase a black paint pen. I'm not unhappy with the look at all. The back porch is really coming together. I need only to decide upon a method to take care of the ugly faux mosaic on the furniture.
I worked myself silly...and needed a second shower when I came in. John reheated the chili an put out fresh fruit, saltines and yogurt for a meal. It wasn't 'planned' but it was easy and handy and I was quite happy to have it.
I put a turkey breast roast in the crock pot for sandwiches tonight.
Living Well: I wish I could transform all the areas of my life I don't like so much with a can of spray paint! I was thinking that today as I worked on various items and recalled what they once looked like. I'm not a big 'before' picture taker. I tend to do pictures of the 'after' when an item is already transformed, but still...
If I could find a magic spray paint that could change my harsh thoughts into kinder ones, or change my sober moments into joyful ones then I should certainly do so. If I might change my unhappy thoughts for a better attitude I'd spray paint that as well. Oh the many things I'd change!
Wednesday: Packed John's work lunch. Made him breakfast.
Made my own breakfast, I opted for cereal this morning with yogurt and maple syrup topping. I used yogurt to boost the protein of the meal and because I know it's getting mighty close to expiration and I don't want to waste it! I used half a banana left from yesterday to go on the cereal, too.
Watered plants with stored water and then refilled the jug with fresh.
Refilled for water bottles and put in fridge.
Washed two loads of laundry. Load one: the King sized quilt from our bed. Load two: our sheets and towels for the week. I hung all on the line or on the drying rack which I set outside on the back porch.
I put on a shirt this morning and found a hole in the side. I've put it in the sewing room for mending.
Rather than use a second planned outfit from the closet I quickly put together another.
Went out with Mama today. She wanted to go by her favorite women's dress shop. I found three nice heavy knit cotton t-shirts on sale for about $11 each. I paid for them with my allowance. I bought three solid colors: white, cafe, and teal. These are good basic colors and will work well with multiple items. I think with the other two tees I bought at the end of July that I'll be good for tops for the rest of these hot months. All are solids and all will work into the first part of Fall or until I 'un'-grow them.
I paid the tip and covered dessert/coffee today as my part of the meal out.
I came home this afternoon and put the one dollar bills from my change in my savings box and change in the charity box.
I made chicken noodle soup for my supper, with the pint of chicken soup base I put up in the fridge yesterday. I ate a slightly wrinkled but very ripe and tasty plum as my dessert.
Living Well: It was 58F on the back porch this morning when John was leaving for work. It was lovely. I went to sit on the front porch with the cozy blanket that normally hangs over a chair in the living room wrapped about me. It was so nice I decided that I must plan to makeover some old throws to use on the soon to be 'new' porches for the cool mornings coming so soon. Another project! Oh how my mind does enjoy finding new projects to keep me well employed.
Thursday: Where was the savings in today? In the front porch where I was putting on the fresh coat of paint on the railings. It looks so pristine and pretty (at least the railing does...the rest not so much). Among other things we'd planned this year, we'd also planned to re-do the front porch. We can't, but it's no reason to let it continue to look so terribly bad. I might not be able to reconfigure it as planned but I can sure make it look pretty once again. I used a half gallon of paint from the paint cupboard. I've just enough left I think to cover the last bit of railing when I get it cleaned up and that will be that.
I ordered a new pair of jeans. I'm not sure what size I am but I ordered two sizes smaller than I'd been wearing at the end of Spring. Fingers crossed. I ordered through Swagbucks Shop and Earn.
Plain old cheese sandwiches...That's what we had for supper. It doesn't sound fancy but it was most certainly tasty. Sometimes simple foods do taste the best.
I cooked eggs for John this morning and noted that we've managed to keep our usage thus far to about a dozen, which is less than we'd normally use.
I started dinner in the crock pot before I went out to paint.
I 'made' a steamer for the microwave. I have two nesting glass bowls. My broccoli was tall and I didn't see any point in wasting the stem. I set it upright in one bowl and turned the smaller bowl over the top upside down. Voila! A glass steamer of sorts that worked perfectly to cook the broccoli.
Living Well: Oh the peace of being outdoors in the country. The breeze rustling the leaves, the braying of a donkey across the field, the gentle buzzing of a bee. I worked for three hours but it never felt like work. It was so relaxed and all I felt was a deep sense of well being. Thank you Lord, for the country!
Friday: I sat down last night and quickly planned out weekend meals. I have food prepped for Shabat.
Made John's work sandwiches ahead. The sturdiest sandwich to make is a peanut butter jelly, I think, for they do keep well.
John and I had planned a trip to Walmart. I made out a quick list of items to pick up there. Mine included decaf Gevalia coffee, a whole loaf of bread for Shabat and fruit for the last of this pay period. I had a short household list of paint to finish off the cafe table and chairs and paint for the front porch floor.
Found a penny at Walmart. Picked it up and added it to our charity box change.
Sick and tired of our poor internet service we stopped at at&t to see if we could get satellite service through them, now they are affiliated with DirecTv...Well we learned that certain areas are 'owned' as territories by certain providers. Our area is 'owned' by the phone company that services our area. The area where the at&t branch store is located is owned by another internet provider so even though at&t has their own service they can't use it in that area. Isn't that ridiculous? So the upshot of this learning process was that we came to our hometown and politely lodged a complaint against the sorry service we've had. A technician came out and checked the line and said we had a good solid signal and suggested a few adjustments and left. We had a good strong signal until 3 minutes before the business closed when it fell off once again. I guess we've got what we've got and that's just the way it is, huh? At least now we're not doing nothing and complaining. Now we know we've done what we can and we're going to try and curb the complaining.
Cut grape bunches into portion sized bunches. I do this all the time. It does make a difference because if John reaches in and gets a bunch with about 50 grapes he'd eat the whole bunch. If he reaches in and gets one with about 20 grapes, he eats those. I've just doubled our grape quantity without purchasing more, lol.
Did my usual trick with bananas, which does extend the life. I removed the two that appeared the most nearly ripe and put them on the fruit stand. The rest of the bunch, which were mostly green went into a plastic bag. I prefer to use a produce bag from the grocery but today I didn't have one. The bag is tied up tight and I won't open it until those two bananas are gone. Typically now we have bananas last a good week without all of them ripening up at once. I don't know about you all, but I've plenty of ripe bananas in my freezer and really don't care to add anymore to the stash!
In fact, I added 1 1/2 bananas to the freezer this afternoon. Once a banana is ripe (freckled) John won't touch it. I plan to make some banana bran muffins this next week. I'll use some of the frozen bananas.
Washed a very full load of dishes, adding in the coffee pot and filters this time to insure the load was truly full.
John treated us to lunch today. He paid from his allowance.
We were pleased to get a 75% refund from the dental insurance provider for John's oral surgery we'd paid for a couple of weeks ago. Since the fee came from our savings, we're returning the money to that account.
Living Well: Some days are obviously filled with blessings. Today we had such a day. From the unexpected check to the kind phlebotomist who grieved over a difficult blood draw, to people who went above and beyond and were kind as could be everywhere we went today, even the tearful phone call from someone who just needed to vent (what a privilege to be a confidant!), the day was just blessed.
It's little harder on those day when the sun refuses to shine and the day is filled with breakdowns and repairs and quarrels to find the blessings, but I believe they are there all the same. We just can't see them because all those other things have shielded our eyes and prevented us from seeing rightly.
I pray God gives me the wisdom to remember to pray that the scales fall off my eyes on those days when I am blind to his blessings!