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.

Living Well:  I've been reading and reading of late.  I'm enjoying it so much.  I finished Listening Valley by D. E. Stevenson this morning.  How lovely to do nothing but sit and read and read and know that there is nothing else I need attend to.  I brought my coffee into the living room this morning, pretty cup and saucer, coffee pot and all.  Lovely bit of time.

Sunday:  I packed John's work lunch and made him breakfast before he left for work.

I finished cleaning the front porch railing.  It's rainy today but since it was wet work anyhow, I didn't see any point in letting rain stop me.

I cleared out a bunch of old VHS tapes I'd hung on to thinking I'd get to watch them once more.  I can't since my VCR is kaput and it seems silly to hang on to them any longer.  The storage space in the entertainment center is put to better use now storing games for the PS2 and the DVDs we own.

Made my lunch from leftovers today: rice, broccoli and chicken became chicken fried rice.  It sure was tasty.

Cleared the freezer of all the odds and ends of bread.  I cut up most for croutons and put those in a slow oven to toast.  I saved out some smaller pieces of bread that were nice sized to make French toast.

After the croutons cooled I put them in a glass jar.  I purposely chose one that doesn't have a seal.  I found storing cookies in that jar that they often got too dry, but it's just what I want for croutons.  If they are sealed up too tightly and there is any little bit of moisture they will mold.  This way I know they will continue to dry out.   By the way, in my house, a handful of croutons is considered a snack food!

Between rain showers I was able to paint the cafe table and chairs mosaic section.  I like the table as a solid I think.  Thank goodness, lol.  I can scrub that paint off but what a pain to have to do so.  I did mess up and wiped away a section that dripped badly and then repainted.  It looks just fine.

Living Well:  There is nothing so energizing to me as a good productive day in my home.  And the day following our Shabat is my most energetic of the week usually.  I was very satisfied at the end of the day today to sit down and put up my feet knowing I'd done all I could to save money for this day at least, and accomplished a good bit of project work and such as well.  It was well worth rewarding myself with a favorite film without jumping up during commercial breaks.

Monday:  Made French toast this morning using those smaller pieces of bread.  It was kind of like having silver dollar pancakes, just French toast in a smaller size.

John washed a full load of clothes.  He hung some to dry but with the weather damp and threatening rain, he used the dryer for the rest.  He always sets the timer for less time than he thinks clothes will dry.  Often several pieces are dry when the timer goes off.  He removes those and resets the timer for a shorter period.

We had a long talk over the weekend about satellite.  Again.  John was finally ready to make a move, He went online and looked at packages from a competing company.  I offered to call our current carrier and see if I could get a better deal, one nearer the introductory costs for new customers.  Well it's done. It took some work to do it.  First I started with an initial phone call and got a $5/month reduction for being  good customers.  The customer service suggested we look at packages and choose one to see how much we could reduce our current billing.  The package we chose was $12 less than we're now paying...but that wasn't nearly enough to suit me.  Not when a new customer is paying 1/3 of what we're paying.  So I asked to speak to a supervisor.  I was honest.  I love DirecTv and have been very pleased with their service and customer support.  I have to reduce our outgoing.  I asked if she could help keep me as a customer so that I didn't have to change services.  She thanked me and went to work. We're saving half of what we have been paying...and John is getting a free year of NFL Sunday ticket, a $300 value.  In addition to all this I was told that as an at&t customer we could save an extra $10 a month linking our DirecTv account to our at&t account so that we received one bill each month.  

What will we do for an extra $10/month savings?  We discovered today that we can't access our DirecTv account online so we couldn't combine our two accounts into one monthly billing (that's where the 10/month comes in).  We tried every thing and every trick and spoke rather warmly (not as in loving but as in this side of angry, lol) to each other.  Finally I suggested we call customer service at at&t and let them sort it out.  They did.  It involved a good half hour on hold and another 15minutes to complete (which makes you wonder why it's supposed to be so easy for us on our end if it takes them so long on theirs) but it's done.  And we're saving that extra bit of money each month.
Stubborness and perseverance pays off.

I ordered a new pair of jeans last week two sizes smaller than the ones I'm currently using (and have taken up twice).  I bought the new jeans on sale, using Pay Pal to purchase.  I had $15 in PayPal credit.  My new jeans were $13.  They fit.  I was dubious but they do fit.  I need to hem.

We decided to wait until tomorrow to pick up John's check.  We'll do our banking, drop bills in the mailbox, and from there we'll go get groceries.

While I was getting set up to hem John's jeans, I went ahead and hemmed my new jeans.  Easy peasy to do one pair after another rather than put off the task.

Living Well:  John called last night and suggested it was time to let go of  something...I knew he was quite right.  So this morning we made the short trek to the place and I prayed to relinquish the thing I'd held on to for the past couple of years.  It was a matter that had been settled unsatisfactorily because someone else was in charge of the situation and had reacted with jealousy and anger.  There was never going to be any satisfactory conclusion and the dreams that were attached of a peaceful haven and a place of refuge died hard.  

It wasn't easy.  As I told Bess earlier this week, sacrifices are never easy.  It is something I've come to understand through reading the Old Testament, the Torah.  Sacrificial work was done by the person who brought the oxen and the goats not by the priest.  The priest offered it up on the behalf of the owner but the work involved was all on the individual giving it.  

Well I had my own little bit of a mess to clear up after, but it was worth it.  

Tuesday:  Normally I avoid doing banking, post office and groceries on the first of the month as though it were a day of plague.  Truth?  I forgot it was the first of the month.  We didn't run into any real crowds anywhere except Aldi and that was hardly a crowd.  It took the cashier mentioning that it was the first of the  month to even cue us in...

I had to fill a prescription today and that meant a walk around in Publix.  I went prepared with a list.  Spent about half my planned grocery budget there.  I really would rather not stop there first, but we pass right by it to go to Aldi and John just naturally swings in. I refrained from picking up any produce.  I plan to buy apples at a farm stand over the weekend ahead.  I figured we'd get by with what we have at home and whatever I chose at Aldi.  I was hopeful of finding some of those Red Velvet apricots but apparently that season is fast finished and I missed it.

At Aldi we spent a little more than I'd thought I might.  I went over by $13.  When I mentioned this to John he asked rather sternly why was I going over?  Well you know what, I might say we bought all healthy good foods (we did) but the truth is I tend to shop more by my list at Aldi and less by what things cost.  It's a habit I need to break!  Yes, it's true that shopping at Aldi saves me loads of money.  I couldn't buy anywhere near as much at Publix or any other store.  It's still no excuse for being consistently over budget however.  I shall have to stop shopping on auto pilot once I go in the store.

Eggs this week were $2.79/dozen.  I noted milk was $1.99 which is a very good price.

We combined errands: took off trash, picked up our mail, went to pick up the paycheck, deposited it and dropped off mail.  Then we headed to do our grocery shopping, which included filling a prescription and last we filled up with gasoline on our way home.  Quite a lot done for our time out today.

When I got cash for this week I did not get an allowance for myself.  I have some cash left from last pay period and I'd pretty much spent all my allowance purchasing those new shoes and tee-shirts on the credit card.  That card was paid off in full yesterday, by the way, just as I do every month.

Washed a full load of dishes last night before bed.  I made sure to fill every last spot.

Living Well:  Some days just go smoothly.  Today was such a day.  The sun shone, the checkout lines flowed smoothly, we were greeted in a friendly manner every where we stopped.  It was just a nice day.  

Wednesday:  John washed a full load of clothes and sheets this morning.  He hung most pieces to dry but put the sheets in the dryer... and as a very kind surprise he remade the bed with them to save me the trouble later on.  I'm gonna keep this man.  He also vacuumed and fried our breakfast eggs this morning.  Yep, keepin' him.

I finished painting the front porch railing.  I used every last drop of wet paint from the can.  I had enough to spare after painting porch railing to paint a sign I wanted to re-do.

In the spirit of "Use what you have.", I used a permanent marker and acrylic paint to finish off the sign.

John wanted take out yesterday.  I knew fried chicken was on sale and that we'd get more than one meal from an 8 pc. box.  We had chicken for dinner yesterday and I reheated chicken today for our dinner, since I was outdoors longer painting than I'd thought I might be.  I put together quite a decent meal...using what we had.  I steamed corn on the cob, made a tossed salad and we finished off the meal with banana pound cake, the last of it.  There is enough chicken left to go into John's work lunch tomorrow for a hot meal.

I cleaned up the guest room.  This meant actually gathering some things I mean to donate, determining what items I am giving to others and then clearing the space of those items.  Not so much work as I thought it might be.

John fashioned me a longer handle on the paint scraper.   No more having to bend over double to scrape paint off porch floor.

He went into town to get gasoline for the lawnmower.  While there he filled up his car for his work day tomorrow.

Made a fruit cup to go with our supper this evening.  I had a nectarine, 10 black grapes, 1/2 orange and 1/2 golden pear.  I chopped all the fruit and mixed.  I don't add anything else just the fruits.  I measured out my portion and filled John's cup then put the rest in the fridge.

Living Well:  I talked to Bess yesterday afternoon and Katie today.  Both girls shared with me that their dearest ambitions at present center around their home and family.  Bess was telling me how she'd been in a discussion with her classmates, most of whom went on to college and are now graduated and living out their 'five year plan'.  "My five year plan is to have another child and be here to raise them.  I guess some thought that sounded less than ambitious."  I reassured her that it was a worthy ambition.  

Tonight it was Katie.  She texted me that after long discussions, she and her husband had determined that she will not go back to work.  She's going to stay home to raise her little girl.  

All I could say was an encouragement to both.  I wasn't the world's most patient mom, nor the best housekeeper.  I'd say I was average.  There were days that were just plain hard and I was tired at times, too often in Katie's younger years.  But I loved being a stay at home mom.  I felt special for doing something so few can or want to do any longer.  Not everyone understood my passion for 'being at home' but my family did.

Except one day when Katie had had enough of hearing about 'It's not in the budget...'  "Budget budget!  Why can't you go to work like other moms?  Then we could afford things."  I remember looking at her as I laughed gently.  "You don't know it yet, Katie, but one day you're going to realize what an awesome privilege you had having me at home for you every day."  

No, I don't think she's quite there yet, but she's getting an idea of it, I think...and I'm honored that she wants to follow in my footsteps, at least for a time.

Thursday:  I may go great guns most days but some days I just feel like a hamster on a wheel: going fast and finding I've gotten nowhere for all my efforts.  Such was today.  I had hours of time on my hands and it flittered away without a thing to show for accomplishment, sigh.

Batched errands and still forgot a few:  I meant to run by and pay the utilities but was distracted by the tearing down of the old Flint Electric building (which was beautifully kept by the way, mid century modern and now is rubble).  Good thing they aren't actually due until next week!  I did pick up mail, take off trash and put a bag for donation in the trunk of the car.  Didn't donate it but that is because my brain was definitely not working well today!  Also went by the booth this afternoon, where I picked up a small check (yeah!! rent was covered by booth this past month!).  Went by hospital to get lab work done prior to holiday weekend.

Spent a long time today talking myself OUT of spending.  I wanted things.  A new rug for the guest bath, for instance.  Still need a new rug but when you're feeling spendy it's best to just not go where temptations lie, which is what Ross, TJ Maxx or Target would have been...We won't even discuss the new Home Goods or At Home stores.  Ack!  In the meantime, I'll donate the smaller of two rugs from my bath to the guest bath and wait until I am more controlled or actually have cash to spend before going into those grand stores to shop.

Bought lunch out today.  I was craving a food item that is not altogether diabetic friendly: chicken wings.  It seems wings are the fattiest portion of the chicken (I don't know why...I have never had to cut excess fat from a wing, unlike breasts and thighs).  I worked out a way to have what I wanted and do my best:  I ate my coleslaw, celery sticks and piece of fruit first.  Then I ate the wings I could hold (about 3 pieces as it happened) after I'd eaten all the 'good for me, diabetic friendly' stuff.  I drank water rather than add the sodium of a soda to the mix.  I bought my meal with my allowance by the way.

I have company coming in this weekend and I kept thinking I needed to shop for them, even though I just bought groceries this week.  I finally reminded myself how sad our checking balance looked this morning just before the booster shot I gave it (nothing like incentive is there?) and how much I'd overspent on groceries this week already.  I have all the basics foods and everything I thought I needed to buy was truly extras.   I'm hardly out of food, not with my pantry and freezers!  I even have frozen and canned fruits...So the excuses were deflated and I stayed away from the grocery entirely.

When I went into the store to monitor my booth and freshen it this afternoon, I walked around.  This can be dangerous territory for me, too, but I have a short list of specific items I want for my home/yard and I knew if I stuck firmly to the list I'd not be tempted by sundry items.  I found two old galvanized buckets, a galvanized kerosene can (LOVE!) and an old Coke crate, all affordable items and all on my list.  Happily paid for them with a portion of allowance, my overage from booth sales and credit card for balance.  I had cash at home to cover balance, just not on my person.

Why so willing to spend at flea market and not at the  other stores?  Self control isn't nearly so hard for me in the flea market.  I am really disciplined about what I will purchase to bring home from there.  Sad but true.

I used the Coke crate to corral my spice and herb jars.  I am overjoyed with how this looks on my kitchen counter.  It makes me smile every time I walk into the room.  I was able to fit all the spices and herbs from the cabinet as well as the improvised k-cup spice rack.  Happy dances.

Took time to sit down and plan out weekend meals and discovered that, ha!, I have enough and we will do just fine without purchasing a single thing.  Imagine that.

Living Well:  You can't fight against time.  It seemed like all day long, I was trying to get something done or be somewhere but I was not managing a thing well; not time, not routines, nothing.  I fought and fought to try and hurry up but somehow an hour or three would pass and I'd not have gotten very far along.  Finally I just stopped.  What was the point of trying to push time to mold to me when it obviously meant to mold me to it's own form?  I can't tell you I did a great deal today.  I certainly didn't.  And I didn't ever really get to any of my planned stops at the times I'd meant to.  In the end, it was okay and I felt a lot less stressed.

Friday:  Up early this morning, well before usual time.  I made the banana bran muffins again using two older well ripened bananas from the fruit stand.  I measured the batter into the muffin tin and made ten muffins this time rather than the 8 I managed last time.

The recipe calls for egg whites.  I saved the yolks to add to scrambled eggs for breakfast.

My family is all excited about our upcoming weekend.  There have been texts back and forth between us all and John and I have discussed it often.  This morning he asked me how much money we'd need for the day. He'd told Katie he'd buy pizzas for supper and was planning to give it from his allowance.   I was so happy to tell him, I'd put money aside after our vacation for this weekend.

Made a big pot of chicken rice soup for our midday meal today.  It's something I can reheat easily if the kids want something when they come in.  We'll have a steak dinner for supper tonight.

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

I worked on the back porch railing this morning.  It doesn't need paint but it does need cleaning.  I used the last of the cleaner I'd mixed up for the front porch.  I'll mix more after the weekend and work on the rest of it but the job is well started today.

Katie needs an ace bandage.  I happen to have one on hand and will take with me, as well as some safety pins since I have none of the fasteners on hand.

Washed a full load of dishes in the dishwasher.

Living Well:  My family is excited about this weekend together.  Texts have flown between households.  Plans have been made and altered and confirmed.  The fly in the ointment?  Not all of my family will be together.  Some will be there and others will be there and only a portion of us will be here together.

When a few of us gather, the others are mentioned and we laugh over shared memories common to us all.  Those who are with me ask for news of the those who can't be with us and comment on the happenings of their lives.  They share stories with me of similar situations and obstacles and triumphs they've had.  I later get to share those stories with those who couldn't be near.  

 I've noticed something funny.  We always are together whether we gather or not.


sparky136 said...

I love the coke crate spice rack. Great idea.

Lana said...

Oh, Home Goods, I can't trust myself in there for even 10 minutes!

We had dryer repair to make this week
. Thankful it was only $20. Then the A/C went out in my van. Told it was the compressor but on the end only a broken wire and only $80!

We did get off to the lake Wednesday night even though it seemed we wouldn't. Thrift store shopping here is always productive and I found cotton coverlet that has been on my list for 2 years. Also more fifty cent clothing for the thinner me closet. We are starting to feel rested and human again. This time is long overdue.

Enjoy your family!

Anonymous said...

I love your porch. Isn't it lovely when a plan comes together? I think that statement was on the A-Team show. (smile) But it's so true that I use it often myself. The Coke crate was such a fun find. I'm so glad you found it and that it makes you dance. We need more dancing in our days.

I'm back to making menus. July and August were harvest months and the garden was producing so abundantly, still is actually, that I didn't make menus. I have pre-made harvest menus that I use every year. But now my pantry is full, the freezer is full, Hubs is coming in at more regular meal times so I am back to cooking for both of us at the same time. Does that make sense?

We've harvested all our carrots and onions. The onions had started to spoil. Oh no! We should have pulled them weeks ago and let them dry. I forget how far into the year we are because it has been July hot here and the trees haven't started turning colors yet. I think the onions will be okay. I cleaned them up. Some are drying out and some are in the fridge and will be used quickly. A garden our size is a LOT of work but oh the bounty. So thankful for it all. Pam

Tammy said...

The coke crate spice rack is genius. I love how it looks, too. When something makes you smile each time you walk into the room, it's a great investment. I'm also a lover of galvanized buckets and have a few of those and a watering can outside. I think they add a vintage look wherever you use them.
Hope you're having a fun weekend with your kids and their babies!

Karla Neese said...

Oh we all have those days/weeks when everything seems to float right out of our minds, don't we? LOL

I am so glad you are having the family get together this weekend. I know you've worked hard and have been looking for it! I pray it's a sweet time of togetherness and love.

Spicy Apple Cake - I FOUND IT!

While sorting though Mama's cookbooks the other day I came across a Family Circle magazine cookbook that looked familiar.  I brought...