Retirement Remedies: Third Quarter Report on How I'm Saving...Or why I'm not.

It feels like forever since I did my first 'report' of how I'd come along with my savings plans, etc.  I know exactly what happened in the second quarter.  I spent all my time just getting well!  There's a huge savings in that I reckon, but then again, I had no idea how ill I was, so there you go.

Since I missed reporting on the second quarter I may mention a few things that I did then.  I won't by any means try to cover all of them as I plan to try and do with my third quarter savings.

First, I did make another bulk meat purchase in May, just before I fell ill.  I bought whole chickens from a nearby discount grocer that were every bit as good as those from the meat market.  I did purchase breasts (bone in) at that time, too as they were about $1/pound at that time.  The whole chickens were $.88/pound,  a price that is fairly regular at this store this year.

 At the end of the first quarter I'd managed to 'find' all but $60 of the  insurance premium amount in our budget.  That amount came from money that formerly went into savings.  It couldn't be helped and we did our very best to make sure all the other areas we'd stretched to cover the rest of the premium stayed stretched.

We took a trip to Kingsland (paid for with cash earned from surveys once again and earning more Swag bucks with our stay) and John insisted on a short three day vacation in St. Augustine in mid-May.  He paid for this from a separate savings account that we seldom to never touch.  I am so grateful he did.  We brought money back home that we had leftover.  We'd agreed back in May that we'd set it aside for the fair.

Less than two weeks following our return I was in health crisis.

During second quarter I'd worked hard to put up several meals I made for Katie and Matt to ease the time following Taylor's birth.  I had almost three weeks worth on hand when I became ill.  Katie had asked me to wait until she was home before taking the foodstuffs to her.  As it happened I was in the hospital the day after Taylor's birth...  This worked out extremely well for us both, because I was able to use some of those meals to help me when I returned home from hospital. And along about the time Taylor was two months old when Katie was attempting to work from home, she was able to take home two weeks worth of meals for their use.  That bit of economy came in very handy for us both!

Mama generously bought and put up corn and butter beans and peas to stock my freezer.  I am still using what I put up last year, so we should have plenty of those items to fill out our meal plans through winter.

And so we'll begin third quarter:  I earned approximately $98 from booth sales, surveys and Swag bucks the first part of May and the latter part of June.  I tucked that away and ear marked it for medical bills.  I also received another $120 in gifts from two kind souls and that money also was set aside for medical bills.  The first bill to come due required only $50 more to be paid in full, and we paid it from our regular funds.  I was very proud of the savings I'd set aside to help with that first bill.

We were hit with a number of large bills all at once and after long discussions, we borrowed from our personal line of credit to pay them.  We have channeled a portion of the money we were saving to repay that loan.  We have since withdrawn an additional $1000 from savings to cover more bills.  To date, we have paid in full every bill that has come into our home.  Thank God, they are trickling in and not hitting us all at once.  Mama gifted us an amount of money which was mostly applied towards making a big payment on our loan.  I set aside a portion of those funds to pay medical bills. In the past month I've paid six good sized bills using the money set aside.

Groceries got completely out of hand in July and August.  I was well above my new low budget amount and even higher than my old budget amount.  During the first month, it was a matter of trying to find convenience friendly ways to support my new eating plan.  Not being up to a full blown shopping trip, I made do with what we could purchase at the local grocery or John could pick up when we did travel to the city.  It was about mid-July before I felt really well enough to do a full on shopping trip.

In August, I was attempting to both restock our pantry and keep a plethora of fresh produce in the house. We made several extra trips trying to keep the amount of fresh produce on hand that is required for my meal plans.  By end of August I'd decided to (a) increase my food budget once more to the former amount, an extra $50 and (b) to do my best to eke out what my diet requires using frozen and canned items.  It's not an ideal thing but between the two we did much better in September with the grocery budget.  My final tally this month was spot on the old budget mark.  We are low on beef and will need to purchase that soon.  Thankfully August was our three pay period month so the extra payments will start to build up here and there and we can easily stock up.  I do not include the purchase of beef in my monthly grocery budget amount.  We've always 'found' that money in unexpected savings, in extra half payments that are not needed for bills, or survey/Swag gift card amounts, so it is moved over to the beef fund.

I recently stocked up on chicken, and this time I skipped the purchase of breasts and cut up the whole birds myself.  Again, these were $.88 a pound at the discount grocery nearby.  I also found they carried a family pack of the turkey sausage patties we like so much.  They are packaged 18 to a package rather than 8 as they are at the major chain store, and the package of 18 costs only a little more than the 8 piece package full price, at the chain market.  I am still trying to limit us but not as stringently as I did when it cost us so much more per package.

I am no longer serving meatless meals.  I have to 'budget' my carbohydrates each day and I find it easier to just eat a small portion of meat rather than finagle the menu hard to adjust for the carbohydrates that make up meatless meals.

I managed a small stock up on paper products and laundry detergents and a few canned items.  It's a little bit at a time at the moment, but it's stocking up all the same.

Medical needs necessitated finding extra room in our budget, as well.  Fortunately I discovered that Publix Supermarkets offers many common prescriptions for a very low price or FREE.  My diabetic drug is free.  I discovered by accident that John's blood pressure medicines can also be gotten for free.  Essentially the store charges the insurance company the same as any drug store, but the co-pay amount is waived as a courtesy to the customer on the most commonly prescribed items.  I pay $3 a month for the coumadin.  John agreed to swap over his prescriptions and we now pay something like $4 for his medications each month, a savings of $25 a month to us.  Since my supplies cost us about $30 a month it balances out.

While my first diabetic supplies were purchased via prescriptions from the drugstore, I was shocked to find they and my medications were nearly $150.  When I ran out of test strips at the end of the first week (I was required to test four times a day at first) I asked to purchase 100 strips for the glucometer I had received...$130 for 100...I declined to purchase them.  Only a few each month were covered by insurance.

Thanks to the diabetic counselors at the hospital I was aware of the great prices on Walmarts ReliOn Glucometer($20) and diabetic test strips (100/$17).  I also purchase lancets from Walmart.  I use online services to order and get free shipping, so it's more than worth my while. I make my own alcohol prep wipes to use here at home, cutting a paper towel into strips and then into swab sized portions.  I do keep a few purchased alcohol prep pads on hand to carry with me, but I rarely need to test while away from home. It is a small savings, just $5 or so for two months supply.

My first doctor visit was all out of pocket and that is because I chose to change the doctor assigned to me to one of my choice.  My first visit was scheduled out of necessity prior to the start of July when insurance would have covered the visit. I had to have a doctor monitoring my coumadin therapy and John and I agreed we'd rather start right out with this doctor than swap after the first visit with the assigned doctor.  It was a cost we were willing to pay and pay we did.

John had to have some dental work done during this quarter.  His dentist sent him to an orthodontic surgeon.  Happily we discovered that the little dental insurance policy we've been paying extra for each month covered the bulk of surgery costs.  The insurance refunded us as the surgeon required payment up front.  That money was put right back into savings.  And  a couple of weeks later we received notice that they'd paid a portion of the original dentist visit as well.  Our out of pocket there was low enough we were able to pay it from our regular account funds.

All in all, we've paid a lot of medical stuff out of pocket for doctor/hospital expenses thus far.  There are a lot more bills processing.  We save in a few places and spend it in a few others.  It's balanced out, I guess.

I am now on decreased diabetic medication  and using supplements.  I purchase these in bulk from various sources.  One supplement the doctor wanted me to take was $34 for a month's supply.  I discovered that it was a derivative from another product and the less processed product contained 50% of the extract he wished for me to take.  We agreed I'd order those and take double the daily dosage.  My out of pocket for that each month is $8.  It was a substantial savings.  I have a new list of more supplements he suggested, but these may be added as we can afford them.  The current supplements are working very well indeed with the eating plan and my activity level.

I made it through summer with the bulk of the clothes I had in Spring, although I was shrinking steadily.  I purchased five tops for fall since I'd lost so much weight and none of my summer tops fit, two pairs of sandals for next summer (which I can use here throughout the early autumn days as well) and two purses for less than $150.  I needed the shirts and shoes.  I found as I lost weight that some of my shoes no longer fit, either!  The shoes were 70% off and the purses were $18 for the two.  I paid for the new wardrobe items with personal allowances.  I have since purchased a new pair of jeans (two sizes smaller) for which I paid $16, using a partial Pay Pal credit from a survey to lower the cost to that amount.  Katie also gifted me another pair of jeans, a size smaller than these so I feel I'm covered for the next 20 pounds.

I've begun a new series for fall and the wardrobe options will decrease as the season goes on but thus far I've shown a number of outfits using only 5 or 6 pieces of clothing.  At present I am still wearing summer clothes, the ones that were formerly rather snug, with the new jeans.

We've had a very frustrating time with internet in the past three months, constantly dropping us offline, outages sometimes lasting 15 minutes or longer, etc.  It's made doing surveys and swag bucks almost impossible and has taken me nearly three months to earn a $25 Pay Pal gift card.

I have earned about $15 a month with Pinecone research and NFS but it's been slow earnings on all accounts with the internet dropping off suddenly and not returning until a survey was no longer available.  I've not even been able to log Coke points into MyCokeRewards, except just enough to keep my account active.

The booth has had small earnings.  Enough to cover two months rent and nearly cover it a third.  I've had no room for new items on the shelves, so I've skipped thrifting expeditions and any new items that go in are moved from home,  things I no longer wish to use.  I am well within my $30 a month limit and most months I don't use those funds at all. 

Back to the internet issue, we've contacted several entities and apparently our phone service 'owns' this area for lifetime provision of  DSL services.  Someone apparently was aware that this was going to be a very big deal for the phone company many years ago and locked it in as their exclusive territory.   We'd asked to 'lose' our land line but we are required to keep it as long as we have DSL service and get no break on that.  We don't rent our land line phone, so there was no savings to be had in that.

Frustrated by phone/internet woes, we came back around to satellite TV services.  A friend kindly sent me her Roku to use on my TV...My son told us we had to have an hdmi port to use.  Ours was blown by lightning within a month of getting the television and we use an alternate port, which means we can't use any type of streaming content on our TV.  John was determined to change satellite TV providers simply because the low introductory rates were so awesome.  I called DirecTv and asked what they could do to reduce my costs and keep me as a customer.  My initial contact suggested a 6 month $5 'good customer' discount.  That wasn't nearly enough to suit me.  We looked at the options of changing packages and made a second phone call and found  we were only going to save $10 more on a change of packages.  We were still a long way away from those great introductory rates.

I refused to give up and asked to speak to a manager.  I was straightforward with her, telling her how pleased I'd been with their service and how long we'd been a customer (18 years). I told her I wanted to stay with them and asked her to work with me.  For my troubles we ended up saving $35 a month, were able to get an additional $10/mo discount for combining our At&t account with our DirecTV account (now the same holding company) and got NFL and SEC channels for free as courtesy on their part.  I agreed to keep using their services for one year only, at which time we can renegotiate. A savings of $50 for six months, of $45 dollars for six more months and a $325 value bonus free?  Yes, please!

And finally we contacted a satellite internet service.  We found their pricing competitive.  After talking with representatives from the company we agreed to contract with them for two years.  Our savings is small, just about $5 a month BUT we haven't been dropped off the service even once since it was installed. The company waived installation and activation fees (over $300 savings there). We decided to rent the equipment rather than purchase it.  In two years we'll see where we stand but financially we felt laying out another big chunk of money just wasn't what we wanted to do.  Saving the start up fees more than offsets equipment rental for two years. And since we are saving a little money over DSL and land line phone we're okay with that.

As my energy has returned I've expended lots of time and effort on the two porches.  At this writing I've just finished the bulk of the floor painting for the front porch and hope to finish that off finally when weather is less wet, as well as the decorating part.  Most all of the work I've done on the porches has been done using things we had already on hand.  I purchased 1 gallon of gray floor paint and 3 cans of red spray paint for my front porch chairs for a total of $36 spent.  That came from our house maintenance fund.  All the cleaning and scraping and painting has been sheer elbow grease but that is at least free if not always in plentiful supply.  We'd originally hoped we'd have the front porch rebuilt by now but my carpenter brother has not found us on his list yet...It's just as well, since we can not justify the added expenditure at this time.

We had to have a welder repair the lawnmower deck and it cost us $10, but initially we thought we'd have to buy a new deck ($700).  John trimmed several trees in the main yard and my brother has trimmed many along the driveways, as he's planning to move a double wide from this property to another piece he owns.  So we haven't had to hire anyone to help with that task.

Any decorating done in house or on back porch or work in yard at present has all been done for minor amounts of money.  I bought 1 can of paint to paint the rocker and another can of spray paint to finish the cafe set on the back porch.  I spent $20 or less for that project, with leftovers to use elsewhere.  A great deal of what has been done in the house and on the porches involved using what we had, which happened to be a lot of odd lots of things, some of which were really old but by golly they were just fine and exactly to the drop what we needed to finish tasks.

Just as we headed into September a child needed some financial help and we were able to assist.  So whatever savings we put aside earlier this year are well and truly spent but we're managing to leave what we had prior to that alone otherwise.  We've slipped down a notch or two in our checking balance for a bit but holiday pay kicked in and gave it a booster shot back to a more acceptable level just in time.

So we've spent savings and we've made minor steps forward for every leap backwards, sigh.  John's county didn't even whisper a hint about raises this year and July passed by without any sort of cost of living adjustment and a notice that they were reducing uniform allowances.   Fortunately John too has lost weight and is able to wear pants he's kept in his dresser for a while.  They were brand new pants he'd never worn and they now fit him perfectly.  Overtime shifts are not even hinted at for us. Fortunately John worked Labor Day and that was the booster shot we needed to help us along.  Technically we've made less thus far this year than we did last year but we seem to stay steady.

All in all, we've survived.  We're not any further ahead at present, but we've hung in there and we're hanging in there.  God has been very gracious to us during this time.  Bills never show up without us finding a source to pay them from.  The savings we've managed astound us at times (free prescriptions? Waiving huge fees?  NFL Sunday ticket for FREE? C'mon!).  We have not been able to save at the same rate the past three months but we've saved about half  and under the circumstances that wows us each time we realize what it means.  I sat down the last weekend in September and redid our quarterly budget for the Fourth Quarter. I made a mistake last quarter that I found this quarter.  However, despite this, there is a small overage which will allow savings. I found even with a slight increase in two areas (grocery and a small increase to our allowances) we will have an appreciable amount to put into savings.  We're approaching the increased allowances cautiously. We'll see how it goes for the first month or six weeks but I think we can manage just fine.

We look hopefully towards the fourth and final quarter of this year. 

Retirement Remedies: Last of the Fall Wardrobe Round-Up

This shall be my last of the series for Fall.  Fall so seldom necessitates heavy clothing in the South, but sometimes a light sweater or jacket is especially nice.  I am free styling with these outfits, using Pinterest as inspiration, but intent on what I have.  I was on a roll this particular day.  

I have this pleather jacket in a butterscotch color.  I've seldom worn it but I think now I've lost weight it will be a better fit.  First I put this blush shirt with it.  I've found that the amber and tiger eye necklaces go really well with the blush color.  I also have this cute autumn themed corduroy purse.  It's honestly not something I carry a lot because it tends to be seasonal.  I expect this will be my last year using it at all.

The scarf used here with the same outfit is new to me.  Mama gifted it to me in the Spring.  I'm not sure I like it and I mean that sincerely but it does have a bit of the blush color in it's background and olive green, teal and even of bit of the color of the jacket.  I think it pulled the outfit together nicely.

One of the vintage scarves and a gray t-shirt (it's the same same a-line styling as the blush shirt) change the appearance of the jacket and jeans altogether.  I really like this combination.  I think I'd use my black bag and shoes with this, but I am still looking for a good looking navy or gray tote bag to add to my accessories wardrobe.

I could swap out other scarves for this one and change the look of the outfit up just a bit.  It's really all about the accessories.

I purchased this teal/turquoise blue shirt towards the end of summer when I bought the white and cafe colored ones.
I used the same jacket and the vintage scarf.  I would love to see this with my darker bag but didn't take a photo of it with this outfit.

Again,  a change of scarf.  This one has a beautiful border pattern and is shawl length, so if it's warm, the shirt and scarf as shawl would be sufficient.  And the scarf used in the second photo of the same jacket with the blush t-shirt is another possibility with the teal...That's three looks with one shirt/jacket.

This black trench is a purchase I made a couple of years ago.  I seldom wore it because it was a little snug.  It isn't now!  We've had enough damp weather of late that this outfit would be more than appropriate.  I styled it with the teal shirt, two smoky grey necklaces, and my black bag and shoes.

Change the t-shirt...change the look...  I think I could also wear the gray shirt with this and get another look but didn't piece it together to photo it.

I used the blush t-shirt and the same pretty blue border print scarf for this outfit and paired it with the denim jacket.  I like the softer wash of the jacket with my dark wash jeans.  Somehow it looks less matchy matchy.  My favorite purse (at present...I'm fickle about purses!) completes the look.

And again, a change of t-shirt, a change of scarf and it looks like a whole different outfit, doesn't it?  

And that is pretty much all I've worked with at present.  I have  more jackets/sweaters but basically these are the pieces I'm working with.  A dark wash pair of jeans, five t-shirts in various colors, a short sleeve gray sweater, a black sweater, a denim jacket and the leather look jacket, a black trench.  It's not a large wardrobe but the accessories are the things that make these outfits go the distance.

At present because it's humid and the days are a bit warm yet, I'm mixing in the lighter version of these looks (sans jackets, sweaters) and a few pieces from summer (white or black tank) with a light sweater topper.

Funny...As I was going through my inspiration pages, where I jot down ideas each month, I came across one that said "Use more basics in wardrobe and extend it using your accessories for a wardrobe that works harder."  Ha.  I guess losing weight and having next to no money to spend sort of rolled that idea right into reality.  It's worked awfuly well, as you can see.

Can't wait to see what winter wardrobe ideas look like!

In My Home This Week: The Lists Go On

Can you believe it?  September is nearly over!  I have never been so surprised to see a month pass as this one.  I am sure the amount of tasks accomplished is the reason why it seems to me the month has flown.  I have been too busy to stop and think about time passing and I'm glad.  It's been one very  productive month and many tasks that were postponed for months (or years!) have been attended to or at least I have a good hard start on them.  My list is growing.  I've asked John to purchase a ladder (long needed and long put off) so we can take down the shutters on the house and paint them fresh.  I mean to replace the screening in the windows as well.  There are things to paint, things to plant, things to wash down.  And that's just outdoors.  I have a list of projects for indoors, too!

Then there are lists of pantry needs, and inventory lists and brainstorming lists for savings, earnings, etc.  Oh honey, I got lists!  Now to start tackling the items on them.  Lists are a wonderful long you actually start to use the ideas on them!

Let's start a list of good things to eat this week.  I've strayed a little on my eating plan.  Still losing weight and all that but I need to tweak my actual eating just a little.  I need more fiber for one thing.  Temptation indulgences must come in 100 calorie packets in this house, or healthy homemade, low sugar treats.  Not to mention that penchant for working right up until meal time on my alone days and having nothing ready to eat.  It's a problem.  I need some convenience meals and some ready to eat snacks on hand for myself.  I need to plan my own meals for those days I'm alone and there are no leftovers on hand.  I should have salads made ahead...  I've made out a list of remedies for that, too.  I tell you I am list making woman this weekend!

A Book Review: The Time Garden by Daria Song

The Time Garden by Daria Song is a beautiful book.  

Adult coloring books are vastly popular just now and can be found nearly everywhere.  I loved coloring as a child and was curious.  When I found this book, I thought I'd give it a try.

I anxiously awaited this book...and waited and waited.  It was so popular that demand exceeded supply.  Once I received it, I could see why it was so popular.  First, it has a beautiful book jacket.  The weight of the paper used in the book itself is wonderful. Not only is The Time Garden beautifully illustrated, just awaiting the inspiration I feel to color the pictures in, it tells a story.  That is a bonus.  I've enjoyed it doubly as I color in the pictures.

I plan to purchase two more of these as gifts.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in consideration for a review.

In My Home This Week: Falling Into Savings

The 'Fresh Eggs' sign is not new.  I've had it more years than I can recall but I did give it a fresh coat of paint.  I used exterior latex to paint the sign a fresh white, a red acrylic paint to fill in the letters and two different colors of permanent markers to outline the letters and the border .  I think it was just the missing thing from that little spot, don't you?

Saturday:  Our quiet day at home.  I love my little Saturday morning ritual of taking one of my pretty tea-cups (Christmas gift from Katie and Matt) and having my fill of coffee.  I brought home a beautiful creamer from my booth at the flea market to hold my milk.  I've plans to make myself a pretty tray (on hand, needs paint) and pull out my pretty pottery coffee pot...In the meantime, I get a lot of enjoyment with my ritual, which also includes an episode or two of  "I Love Lucy" these days.  John and I caught ourselves laughing out loud this morning at the episode we watched.

Made spaghetti for dinner today.  Another hole in my pantry was shown: No whole wheat spaghetti on hand.  Not one stick.  I happened to have purchased a spaghetti squash this week but John is 'iffy' about unusual things even if he's had them in the past.  Well item number three on my pantry list: whole wheat spaghetti.

A Touch of Fall

I didn't want to go all orange and red for autumn decor this year.  Early autumn in Georgia is less flame colored and more green and brown with lots of blooms.  Pink, yellow, purple wildflowers bloom in profusion in the fields.  But yes, the predominant color is green.  I was more interested in greens and browns.  It's apparently called 'neutral' in fall decorating lingo.  I pinned a load of ideas on my Pinterest board.  I started off with a blue Ball jar of mums in purple...Not quite where I wanted to head either but the flowers were inexpensive and pretty.

As with most everything these days it's all 'Use what you have,' a motto I'm coming to learn never limits me as much as I think it will.  What I had, besides those purple mums was the remnants of a bag of leaves the guys brought me back from New York state in 1993 that I had pressed in a heavy stack of books.  I really wanted to somehow use them and so I decided to put them in the frames I've had my arrowheads displayed in for the past few years.  I  chose the nicest three (and the only ones that would fit, ha), mounted them on scrapbook papers with a buff/ivory tone.  I love them next to the two long prints.  The prints were obviously meant to display an autumn scene in the country because there's a good mix of color in the trees.

Coffee Chat: Under the Bluest Of Skies

Would you believe I was all ready for a coffee chat last week and then forgot to invite you?  Yes, I was.  And then...and then, I just plain forgot!  I don't know what happened.

Well never mind.  I'm here now and please do come in for coffee.  There is candy in the candy jar. Yes, really.  I have this husband who is not a diabetic but has insisted on sticking to my eating plan these past few months.  Here in the last two weeks he has mooned about looking for that elusive 'something' and finding the cupboards bare.  A good sale, plus coupons, presented themselves to make candy really cheap just now, John seemed to find that 'something' was the sugar he was denying himself.  Me?  I have a piece now and then, which is why I bought the small fun/snack sized items, but I can take or leave it.  I find a single square of good dark chocolate is the ultimate for satisfying me.  Help yourself and let's have a nice chat.

We can sit on the back porch if you'd like.  It's warmer again and humid but it's bearable when there's a breeze as there is now.  If you peek between the clouds at present you'll see the skies have turned that beautiful autumn blue, the bluest of blues.  I'm struggling with myself over this back porch.  I am really.  For one thing that orange table and green rocker are just a bit much for me.  And it's not the green I'd planned on, but John says it's 'cute' and looks country and I'm going to trust his opinion over my own at the moment.  I stepped out of my comfort zone I guess, and I'm regretting it.  It's always good to stretch a bit isn't it?   I've got other projects I want to work on and m list doesn't include re-doing the back porch.  I can live with it...I can live with it.

This Week In My Home: Falling into a New Season

I feel nothing much at all was accomplished at home last week, yet when I checked last week's list I find I did all but paint the front porch.   I was out running errands on the nicest of days, of course.  And we're slated rain again.  Never mind.  That porch will eventually be painted!  Nothing ever goes completely undone when I set my mind to getting it accomplished.

I have made more project plans.  I think I shall be busy for the rest of this year and likely into next.  I may not finish all I hope to accomplish but I'll do what I can as time and money and ability allow.  That's the best way to approach all things.  At least get a start on tasks and do what might be done.

It's the same way with the pantry.  I noted yesterday that I have no whole wheat spaghetti on hand at all.  And then I looked hard at the shelves.  There's one whole shelf that might be dedicated to food that isn't, I've no idea why I've used it for other storage.  There is a portion of the top shelf that should be cleared of non-food items.  I need to seriously look at filling gaps and building up stock.  It was neglected these last few months as I've recuperated and now it's time to concentrate on it once again.  I like to face winter with a full pantry. I  guess homemaking days of my childhood kick in.  I remember Mama's pantry and Granny's shelves filled with jars of jellies, soup and green beans and tomatoes and such.  I kind of want to see the same in my own pantry.

In My Home This Week: Looking for Fresh Savings

When I painted this cafe set this month, I realized it was the third coat of paint I'd put on these pieces since I acquired the set quite a few years ago.  I wonder what it's next incarnation will look like?  

Saturday:  I was all set to finish up dinner.  I had only minor things to do and then put in the oven.  John asked me to go into town and buy chicken...and I went willingly and did just that since he generously offered to pay for it as well.  I took advantage of going into town to go by the local grocery and picked up a few sale items (Rump Roast and carrots and our favorite Red Baron frozen pizzas).  Every one of those items went into the freezer (or fridge in the case of the carrots) but none of them were used for today's meal prep.  I bought them 'ahead' planning to take the money from this next week's grocery money.  I mean they shall be food for later not right now.

I did purchase some frozen Brussels sprouts and John's favorite canned biscuits to make side dishes to go with the chicken.  I could have gotten fries and slaw too at the diner but it was early yet for dinner/lunch and I spent less on the sale priced biscuits and sprouts  than I would have paid for just a small 1 cup serving of slaw.

I spent all day long on Pinterest.  No outfits this week, just lots of reading budget and frugal tip articles and pinning lots of ideas for the holidays and fall and the house decor. I got ideas...a wealth of them!

In My Home This Week: Fresh Inspiration

The cooler mornings rolled in this morning and I've lovely memories associated with the second weekend in September and the subsequent second Sunday cooling day period from my childhood years.  It felt just right to go out in that cool air this morning, wearing a sweater and going off to church.  After church let out today we sat in the car in the parking lot and waited for the traffic to dissipate before we headed home.  We had the windows down and John must have mentioned 90 times how much he wished he could drive down the street, cross a bridge and be at the ocean...Oh how I longed to tell him let's just pack up and go!  

Well alas, alack and all those words which means a sorrowful acceptance of fact.  We might have been tempted say a week ago but this week there is no way, no how we could do any such thing.  As it happens we've helped out a child, we've no time, and the week ahead is already appointed.  No beach get away for us.  No get away period, for us.    No problem.  I've lots to do!

Retirement Remedies: Fall Wardrobe Part II

Today I focused hard on a white tee shirt.  It's just a plain basic tee, nice heavy knit.  I also focused on a short sleeve smocked gray cardigan I have had for about three years.   I found a few inspiration outfits on Pinterest to help me build my Fall wardrobe using these pieces.

I don't have the cute print shoes...but I'm keeping my eyes open for comfortable flats.  I have an orange bag which you'll see in the outfit below.  The navy jacket is a light cotton, perfect for cool days.  I also have a navy tissue thin cardigan that I could use on days that  are warmer and require just a little bit of extra coverage.   I have a bracelet and pearl studs very similar to those in the inspiration photo.
later note:  Looking at this photo, the jacket looks sloppy as it is displayed but has nice details that do make it appear more tailored than it appears. Mama bought one at the same time I purchased this one and she wore it today.  It really has a nice look overall, not at all slouchy.

In My Home This Week: A Season Of Savings

Last week I realized I had the basis of several outfits using the same tee shirt and cardigan, simply by changing purse, scarf or pants.  I was shocked at the mileage those two pieces gave my current small wardrobe.

Saturday:  We set out early this morning to visit Katie.  The guys were attending the opening game of the Georgia Bulldogs and we girls and the grand babies were going to visit.  Katie and Matt provided all of our meals that day.  Matt generously offered to make breakfast for us.  We had coffee here at home before leaving (so early!) and skipped the stop we'd normally make for our breakfast.

Katie cleared her closets this past week.  She had a big bag of clothing for Bess and a smaller one for me.  I was amused that she'd given me back a jacket I gave her last year.  It was too snug for me then and she was pregnant.  Now the jacket fits me perfectly and Katie says it is too warm a jacket for her. She gave me two or three other pieces, all toppers, and a lovely pullover sweater.  She also included a pair of jeans in the next size down from where I am now.

I never expected when I started losing weight to discover some of my shoes would be too big.  But yes, I gave Bess a brand new pair of sandals bought end of season last year that simply will not stay upon my feet.  She is a size larger and they fitted her perfectly.

Katie sent me home with enough soup for me to have two meals.

Questions, Answers and Comments, Oh My: August 2015

Well here we are with a fresh new month ahead of us.  What shall it bring?  I've no more clue than you have but I'm looking forward to the new season.  Summer was a bit tough over all, you know?   Well it's at an end...and so is August for that matter.  Time for a Q&A post.

In My Home, Savings Posts:  # Peggy Lineberry thank you for stopping by to read here.  I so appreciate it when a reader says they feel inspired.

Sarah, outdoors John used to scoop up a small spade of ants from one mound and drop them into another mound.  They pretty much killed themselves. We had the worst time with fire ants for the first years here but they appear to have moved on.  I don't know if it's the colder winter we had or the drought that drove them away but one of those things worked.

Lana, I love those little KFC sides containers.  You'd think we'd eaten just tons of KFC but it's about a once a quarter or less treat.  The containers last very well and they are the perfect size for a serving of most foods for anyone who must measure or control portions of certain foods.

Savings Post #2  Mindy Lewis, thank you.  Those are kind words to say I bring peace to you with my simple life.

In My Home This Week: A New Season In My Home

What a lovely last holiday of summer we've had.  I'll tell all in an upcoming coffee chat, but in the meantime there's meals to plan and homemaking to do and all the usual stuff to tend to.  It's not a hard life that is truth, but it can be a busy one.  I've not gotten one thing done in my kitchen to cull the things there, but I'll be starting it this week as I've no real plans to go anywhere nor anything much outside the house to tend to.

Meals...I though perhaps, since we were having company over this holiday weekend that I might just run to the grocery and pick up 'just a few things.'  Well, in the end, I reasoned myself out of it and said, "No, I think I'll make do with what I have."  In the end, I made do and it all worked just fine.

We've had some elaborate breakfasts over this weekend.  My son in law made a huge meal for us all yesterday morning.  My husband cooked a big meal for us this morning.  I made chicken rice soup, with leftovers enough I'll send a goodly portion home with my son and daughter in law.  They'll have a ready to eat meal when they arrive home tomorrow and not need to order out nor cook.

In My Home This Week: Saving Is Fun

                     Just one example of the fun in saving.  I spent less than $5 on this little area...
                             and there are leftover numbers as well as the stencil to reuse.

Saturday:  Used leftover chili and creamed corn to make a tamale pie.  It was quite good, but I discovered I didn't have quite enough chili and I remembered from times past when the chili was too dry the whole dish was lacking.   Fortunately I'd decided to be extra thrifty last week and saved the extra chili broth in the freezer.  I thawed it to pour over the chili and added some diced zucchini to the mixture before topping with the cornmeal mixture.  I mixed the cream corn into the cornbread batter.  This added body and moisture.  The corn in the cornbread and the zucchini in the dish also combine to form a complex protein, so it boosted the protein balance of the meal.

Mixed up a box of chocolate pudding with a little cinnamon.  I poured the extra pudding into saved KFC sides containers for two individual servings.

I didn't unload the dishwasher yesterday before Shabat began.  I rinsed and stacked dishes neatly in the sink today rather than work on the kitchen after dinner.  It looked neat enough to satisfy my desire to clean the kitchen.

Retirement Remedies: The Fall Wardrobe Series

I really debated not doing this series at all, despite several requests last Spring for me to follow up with Fall items.   My reasons were that I have at present only about five tops and three pairs of pants...and I'm not sure how long I'll be able to continue to wear the pants.  Really how far could I possibly stretch a small and hopefully temporary, wardrobe?

Then I was reading The Listening Valley by D.E. Stevenson and one of the characters was a French girl who arrived with one suitcase and a handful of things in it.  She always looked 'smart' as it was put in the book, and managed with just a change of scarves or a sweater added to look as though she had a whole new outfit.

That put me in mind of an article from one of the vintage magazines about a French student in an American college who always managed to look chic...but when her dorm companions peeked in her closet they discovered she owned a pair of jeans, a sweater and the skirt, blouse and jacket she'd worn out that evening!

Well so what if my wardrobe is limited?  I still have to dress this fall and I might as well have a bit of fun seeing how well I can do it, right?

In the Good Ol' Summertime - Porches

I seriously cannot remember a summer with any of my grandparents where the porch didn't figure prominently in memory. Granny's f...