This Week In My Home: Practicing Thrift

I recently rejuvenated this broken pot.  It's now a unique vessel for my favorite little flower bed.  

We've tried to glue this pot back together before and it didn't hold up.  I suggested we use tape as well as the glue.  As long as the pot is sitting upright it stays together.  I really wanted it lie on it's side but this is the way it works.  I filled it with kale and a tiny seedling coleus that came up in front of the back steps.  

Saturday:  One of my favorite rituals on a Saturday morning is to take the pot of coffee, my pretty little cup and saucer from Katie last Christmas, a pretty creamer and put it all on a little tray.  Then I drink cup after cup of hot coffee.  In reality I am drinking no more coffee than I do on any week day but it feels like more because the cup doesn't hold as much as a mug.  With all the frou frou, it feels very indulgent and I like that feeling of plenty and extravagance for absolutely no cost to me at all.

Last night I toasted cheese sandwiches in a big skillet on the stove.  I didn't use oil or butter, simply let the heat of the pan toast the bread and melt the cheese.  I left the pan covered on the stove overnight and used it this morning with a bit of olive oil to sear my roast.  Then I decided to just go ahead and use the covered pan to simmer the pot roast I was planning to prepare.  I couldn't think of any good reason to mess up the crock pot, too.  I think I got a lot of mileage from that one pan and I had no fear of contamination since it was only used to toast bread.

I made a simple Apple Crisp for dessert. No sweetener or thickening agent in with the apples and a homemade streusel topping using oatmeal, brown sugar, cinnamon, flour and butter as the topping. Golly but it taste good and rich.  I often will use brown sugar in place of white sugar as I make these desserts.  I find I can use far less and it tastes as sweet as if it were made with a full measure of sugar.

It's a cooler day than we've been having.  In honesty we are getting very near that "It's cold let's turn on the heater," conversation we have each October.  At which point, John always replies, "It's not even November yet!" lol.  It is an issue of economy because in reality the temperature indoors is just a few degrees less than when we run the Air Conditioner.  He's quite right we should hold off and wait.  At present the coolness is nothing that an extra layer or two, and perhaps socks on our feet, won't cure.

The coleus I pinched from a pot full of bronze colored plants at the meat market has started to root. I'll be potting them in soil this week.

As I made the bed yesterday, I noted that the fitted sheet is getting threadbare on both sets we presently rotate on our bed.  These are prints and I've determined the better economy is to purchase solid color sheets which I might easily pair with same color fitted sheets and pillowcases as they wear out.  And then I thought about all the preppers who are setting up food stores and recalled watching the BBC WWII series about rationing.  What if we were rationed where dry goods are concerned? Could we get sheets and blankets and pillows?  Would we not be wise to have a spare set or two for each bed in our homes?  In my early married years I had 14 sets of sheets given to me and thought they'd last forever.  You know they didn't.  They lasted a good ten or twelve years but they didn't by any means last forever.  I think I shall not only purchase fitted ivory sheets and new ivory pillowcases to go with the ivory flat sheets I have at present but I'll get a spare set or two to keep for future needs. I can keep my eye out at thrift and discount retail stores where quality goods aren't too expensive.  I will also reaccess my need of blankets and such.

Many of the antique and new handmade quilts I have are lovely but they are skimpy for even a twin bed, forget using on a full or queen sized bed.  The last blanket I had for our bed, disintegrated.  It was a lovely Vellux blanket but I find that they literally do disintegrate after a few years of use.  Here too is something else to be on the lookout for:  nice sturdy blankets.  I by no means intend to hoard but simply to have good quality items on hand to meet possible future needs.

I've been very frustrated of late in my efforts to keep my budget in hand.  On paper there is absolutely no reason why we shouldn't manage just fine.  In reality it's a stretch.    I know that there must be a way to economize further and I mean to find it.  I want/need extra money to stock the pantry and buy these dry goods that are wanted for our home.  Other items I want to stock up on are basic first aid items (triple antibiotic, allergy cream and oral medications, bandages, etc), basic home medicines (Vapor rub and such) and things like matches and candles.  Since we use matches routinely anyway and we burn candles for Shabat evenings and at special times throughout the year these won't go unused.

John too is beginning to take a 'long view' as well, but his is more due to living in a rural area and not wanting to drive 80 miles to buy what he might keep on hand.  He suggested we buy extra basic plumbing repair items like plumber's tape, faucets, washers, etc.  I suggested he make out a list and we'd start picking things up a few at a time each pay period until he feels he's enough on hand to do basic home repairs.

John made another repair of sorts yesterday, this was more aesthetic.  We've had a broken cover on the electrical outlet outdoors and the previous repair just didn't look nice. It was an eyesore. (Note: that broken pot is in this photo as well). Here's a photo of the before of the outlet, seen on the wall behind my flowers here:
And here's the after.  The piece is actually meant to go over a dryer vent outlet and is to prevent pests coming in.  It's hinged so we can easily lift it to access the outlet.  It was John's idea to do this and I can't say enough about how very pleased I am with the much better 'after'!
Doesn't that look so much nicer?  It cost us less than $6 to 'fix' that eyesore.  Thank you, my smart husband.  By the way, that is the same cover he put over the dryer vent with the broken framework and that area too looks just as neat and nice.

Although we personally try to avoid work on Shabat we had a leak outdoors that hadn't been quite fixed last night when John stopped working on it.  It was down to a drop every 60 seconds, which we felt was acceptable until the plumber arrived to work on our bathroom shower.  John waited until the plumber came so that turning off the water once would suffice, instead of having to cut it on and off again and again.  John added more plumber's tape and when he still had a slight leak the plumber added still more plumber's tape and we have no leaks at the moment anywhere in the house.  Hooray!

By the way, I decided after our last plumbing emergency to keep a stash of cash at home that would pay for small repairs.  I hate to call a man who does this sort of work as extra (not his paid position) and ask him to accept a check.  I know that my check is good but he doesn't and I just couldn't help but think of the worry someone would have wondering if that check were good or not.  So I keep a small amount of cash here.  We took the funds from our home maintenance sub account and that's what I used today to pay for the work on the shower.   In chatting with this gentleman who apparently just works all the time (he is employed full time and does DJ work and plumbing work and some electrical work on the side!) he stated that he also does bathroom remodels.  This is one thing John and I have discussed for the future.  We'd like to expand our vanity to a two sink vanity and we'd like to remove the garden tub and put in a larger shower that is not a full step up from the floor.  Perhaps if we ever have the funds we can get this man to do that job for us.

I've been longing for something salty for a week but won't buy a big bag of chips to keep in  the house.  Today I remembered I have popcorn in the cupboard and so I measured out 2 teaspoons of popcorn into some oil in a pot and covered it and popped my own popcorn.  It hit the spot and is a diabetic friendly alternative.

Sunday:  I finished painting the front porch!  That should be breaking news today and I mean to be sure and get it in this post.  It wasn't a lot of work, perhaps an hour and a half total but it's now done and I'm happy to have it finished.  It looks 100% better.  Now to figure out how I shall decorate it and bring life to it.

Planted about half the pansies this morning and the last two chrysanthemums I'd bought. I also went about and picked up all the weeds that were pulled but piled up.  Amazing how even outdoors getting the 'clutter' under control and doing a bit of picking up can make things look so much better.

The heat came on for the first time today, both the propane and the central unit but not at the same time and without any discussion. Our indoor temperatures were below 60F which is more than we can take after being used to 90F days. I used the propane heat very early this morning to bring the room temperature up quickly. I turned it off after about 45 minutes.  I knew the house would 'hold' that heat well and it did until nearly 11 am.  At that time I turned on the central unit for a short cycle, as my friend and I were both cool. I set the thermostat for 68F.  It only ran the one time and then the sun began to warm the house naturally.

I prepared a favorite oven dish but needed a cream of soup in the recipe.  I didn't have what was required but I did have a full pan of chicken broth so I made a thicker sauce from that and used it in place of the cream of soup.  It worked out beautifully and tasted so good!  I not only made the cream of chicken soup, I had enough broth to cook my vegetables in for the dish, to add to the recipe as it called for and put about 1 1/2 pints in the freezer for future use.  Not bad.

My friend and I passed our time talking (naturally) and working on handicraft items.  I pulled out the hems I'd put in John's new work pants and discussed my solution for lengthening them with my friend, since she is an experienced seamstress.  She agreed that my idea might work out just fine.  I'll sew those tomorrow after I've ironed the hems out.  Then I cut out and sewed more yo yos for the yo yo quilt top I'm making, while she worked on a repair project, a UFO and cut strips from t-shirts to make into a crocheted project she has planned.  It was a productive day for us both and we had the added pleasure of chatting away as we worked.

There was enough of the casserole left for a meal for John and I later this week.

My supper was half a sandwich leftover from last night, fruit and a 100 calorie pack of cookies.  It was a frugal and inexpensive meal and just the right amount of food.

I put on socks and a sweater this evening as the temperature fell and I started to feel chilly.

Monday:  I slept a bit later than usual this morning.  I was surprised and so was John who came in from work just as I had started to shower this morning.  Since the shower water was at just the right temperature, I stepped out and left him to use it, instead of cutting it off and him having to heat up again.

I had a quick breakfast I could prepare for us, thanks to the frozen french toast I had in the freezer.

I went out to the shed this morning looking for things I could use on the front porch.  I have several items but everything needs paint to freshen and bring it all together color wise.  I don't have any more paint so I'll have to buy some.

I brought out a wreath I put together last year to use on the front door now that fall weather and colors are finally starting to show up in our area of the state.

I gathered up some old soda bottles I had in outdoor storage.  Several of the bottles were broken by a child some time ago, so I sorted out the whole ones and have them ready to clean up and put in proper storage.

Made a leftover makeover dinner (no photos) of burritos using leftover pot roast meat and carrots, and mashed black beans.  I mixed in a bit of salsa and a little cumin and boy were those burritos good.  I needed the mashed black beans to help stretch the little bit of meat.  I was able to make four burritos, which was enough for our dinner today and one leftover for me to have for supper later this week.

As I was working on John's pants I asked him to try them on while I figured out how much to hem them  Turns out John liked the length of the pants leg I had done nothing to.  I removed the added piece from the leg and made a very narrow hem.  He says they are perfect.

As I looked about the shed this morning, I was surprised at how many galvanized metal pieces I have. Baskets, an old milk crate, pans, even tomato cages.  Added to my milk can and the buckets and gas can I bought recently I have quite a number of pieces.  Time to think about how I would like to use these pieces.

My insurance requested I allow a nurse come out for a home visit.  This is meant to be a once a year thing apparently.  She took note of what medications I'm taking (including supplements), discussed the need for various tests/immunizations, checked my feet, tested my urine, took my blood pressure, etc.  I was given a very nice insulated bag as a gift today.  I will also receive a $25 gift card for Walmart.   It is nice to get these items for allowing the visit but I do have to wonder about who is paying for all this, you know?  I didn't have to give any insurance information nor any other financial information. I'm pretty sure it's one of those government sponsored programs.

After the health care visitor left, I put together two fleece coverlets and sewed them into a nice heavy weight blanket for John to take to work.  He likes it so much he has kept it over his lap all afternoon long.  I think it will be nice for the nights when he comes in cold from a call at work during these fall and winter months.

I organized the linen and gift wrap items on the upper shelf in the pantry closet then I cleared all the non-food/non-pantry items off the shelving unit we use as a pantry.  I left light bulbs, coffee filters and zippered bags but everything that isn't related to grocery shopping has been put elsewhere.  Now I have a completely empty shelf to store water and paper products.  Because the shelves are so deep and wide I can fit more than a single 'layer' on the shelves.  I need to figure out  a good affordable way to expand my storage there.

The heater came on a few times this morning but we haven't needed AC in three days.  I think we're done with that for the year.

Our supper tonight was John's work leftovers.  He didn't eat but one of his sandwiches yesterday.  We had the other two tonight with fresh fruit and a 100 calorie sized packet of crisp cookies.

Brought my plants indoors this evening, as the temperature is getting down to frost levels.  I hope the petunias survive.  I have several plants that are up now that grew from self-seeding.

Tuesday:  Cold mornings and hot cereal go well together.  This morning I made grits in the microwave.

Took plants back outdoors.  It was quite cold last night, near frost temperatures.

I asked John his plans for the day before I took foods to thaw from the freezer.  I find it's best to know what to expect.  It was also helpful to know what pieces of meat are most likely to thaw in time for dinner preparation.

My doctor's office called and scheduled an appointment for one afternoon this week. I knew John would want to get a haircut, he'd said he wanted to get his car's oil changed, he meant to go by Lowe's.  My husband and I think differently about these sorts of things.  He likes to take a leisurely morning at home then go do one errand and come home and plan to do another task another day.  I suggested we spend the day out, doing all these tasks and have the day at home on Friday with the grandson and daughter in law.  And since all of the appointments are within the same 10 mile radius I think we'll save quite a bit of gasoline.   He agreed and has scheduled appointments accordingly.  We have planned to eat lunch out that day.

Made a homemade barbecue sauce.

Had leftover mashed potatoes this weekend.  Made potato pancakes as a side for our dinner.  I have leftovers of those.  They will reheat for breakfast one morning.

Chopped bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, celery, carrots to add to the ground meat this evening for our homemade sloppy joes for supper.  It stretched the meat enough we could easily have made a fourth sandwich.  I set that aside for another day's meal.

Mama is quite fond of items she sees on TV and supposes to be handy.  One such item was  window cleaner meant for cars.  I think we both ended up with one when these came out and I hadn't used it very often.  Our house windows have storm windows outside and regular windows inside.  I can't get up in between the two windows to clean them very well not even with a proper widgie window tool.  Enter the car window cleaner which has a head that will bend flat and has a long handle.  I can use this tool to clean inside my windows quite well.  So glad I kept that tool and didn't pass it on to any of the kids!  It's made window cleaning this week a breeze.

Finished prepping John's new work pants.  We've found that iron on patches on the waistband of his pants prevents the suspender teeth from tearing the fabric of the waistband.  I positioned and ironed on those this morning.  Now he's work ready.  Oops...he just informed me that I need to sew buttons on the patches.  This keeps the suspenders from slipping.  I guess those pants will be work ready tomorrow or Thursday instead!

Pre-packed John's lunch bag with non-perishables and made his sandwiches.  They are in the fridge along with his soda, water and yogurt.

Opened windows this afternoon as the temperature rose.  It kept the house very comfortable.

Wednesday:  Washed a full load of clothes and hung them all to dry on the line before leaving home this morning.

Packed John's work lunch and made him breakfast before he left for work this morning.

I knew the day time temperatures were going to be a good bit warmer. I turned off the heat and set the AC to come on if temperatures went  up to 75F indoors.

My turn to treat Mama today.  We ate out for under $20 by choosing a sandwich/soup combination and ordering water to drink.  I paid for dinner from my allowance.

I restocked my all occasion gift wrap at the Dollar Aisle at Target.

Picked up sale priced snacks while in the store, as well as zippered storage bags.

Mama gave me a nice wool coat that was too big for her but fit me perfectly.  It is a nice replacement for the coat I had donated earlier this year that was way too big.

Mama also donated a few items to be sold at the booth.

I got the electric bill today.  It had dropped $70.

When the electric company came out to replace our burned out security light they replaced it with an LED light.  That is billed at $3 less than the light had been billed in the past.  That's a savings of $36/year.  Not a fortune but a savings.

I ate leftover soup for supper.

Thursday:  John and I combined lots of errands today.  It was a very long day overall.

We started with an appointment to get his car oil changed.   We had the money for that in a sub account, already set aside.

We stopped next at Lowe's to pick up spare plumbing parts.  Having replaced two faucets in the past 8 months it seemed prudent to buy more to have on hand.  Wish we'd known the bedroom door handle was going to break later this evening.  We'd have picked up a spare couple of those, too.
I had my own short list for projects: potting soil, African violet soil, spray paint for the front porch items I want to paint. These items will come partly from my allowance and partly from our house maintenance fund.

Stop three: lunch.  John paid from his allowance.  I plan to reimburse him this next pay period for that meal though, because it was far more economical to eat out than to plan to run home and go back for the next two errands.

We arrived early for appointment number 3, a hair cut for John.  This worked in our favor because he was able to go in a little earlier than his appointment.

And last there was my doctor visit.  We arrived an hour early and told them we'd just sit and wait as it was cooler there than outdoors and we had nothing further we could do for the day.  As it happened their 2:15 appointment was late...and so I was called back an hour earlier and we were able to head home well before my actual appointment time.

My doctor's visit resulted in me being able to stop the twice daily blood sugar testing.  The doctor was so pleased with my steady numbers of late that he suggested I test once or twice a week and if I felt off or we ate something out of the ordinary.

Arrived home to find that Bess and Josh had arrived from Florida with Blossom the Beagle.

I was just worn out enough from the week to not feel up to planning meals as I ought to have done.  I came up with a semi-homemade supper for us all.

Friday:  Still tired and still poor on the planning end, which is truly the result of being tired.  Mama called last night and invited herself out to spend the day today.  I had no meal plans in mind and simply could not make myself think last night.  I finally decided this morning  what I'd make for a company meal and then invited my niece and her girls to join us.

Poor planning on my part,..the meal proved to be just a little skimpy looking but I pulled Pumpkin Banana bread from the freezer and that filled the gap and served as a dessert, too.

My house rollicked with 1 2 year old and 2 just over 1 year old.  It was a load of fun, too.  Poor John found himself the center of Great niece Bella's world.  She insisted on calling him Pop Pop and saying "C'mon"...and expecting him to follow.  God bless the man, he did, lol.

Had enough brain power to realize that I'd best have a plan for weekend.  As it happened I have leftovers galore which will see us through the whole of tomorrow.  I prepared John's PBJ sandwiches for his work lunch Sunday and put them in the fridge.

No time to bake bread today as I'd planned to do.  I needed a loaf for Shabat.  I pulled out the loaf we'd used last week from the freezer.  I'd put it in the freezer after Shabat because we had a loaf of bread already in use.  We'd only pinched two little bits off for our kiddish and I decided that same loaf would do as well for us tonight.

From the pantry:  juice, coffee, and milk, bread x 2 for Shabat and for loaf bread, as well as Pumpkin Banana Nut bread (all freezer items).

Made a big batch of chicken salad for sandwich filling.  I boiled extra eggs to make egg salad, too, but that will wait until later in the weekend.


Georgene G. said...

You are so industrious! You wrote that you watched the BBC WWII series about rationing? I would be interested in the title of the series? Thank you so much! Your thinking on having extras on hand is a good one. My house is so small that I'm limited on storage but I do have extra sheets for both beds.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking of going through all the linens and getting rid of any extras. Then another sheet bit the dust and I rethought that idea! :) I need to find another sheet to use as a spread too.
I have started storing the hand wipe type clothes. the ones you find in packets individual usually to wipe hands. Dollar Tree sells ones bigger for full body waterless bathing. In case of emergency and we all need to really watch water these would really be a good thing to have. I have tried some of them out to know if they would be ok on sensitive areas and so far ok. And I don't want a strong perfume fragrance on them either. I started using them this summer half way through the hot hot humid days to refresh myself and it was wonderful. I guess baby wipes could work too if they are big enough and moist enough and you like them.
We have the battery tea lights handled flashlights and our door solor light that can come inside. Also LED lanterns and such. Tea light can act like night light in a darken house if lights go out. We do not want to have only candles cause of the danger in case gas lines are broken. but we do have the Bic lighters and those red light sticks they have to light things too+ matches. We get the free little flashlights when Harbor Freight has them in their ad and give them to people too for use if needed for car emergencies.
I have several of those holders for candles that have handles in case we have to carry a candle from place to place.
Since here it is hot so much we do not have a store of heavy warm blankets. That is fine for now but what if we are without electricity and it is cold? Now we use the electric blanket. :0 So I am looking into getting blankets. We have many afghans that can be used too and do on the couches during winter to snuggle in.
We don't usually keep paper plates and such but now realize they too might be needed if no water. Also paper glasses and bowels and plastic silverware. We save the plastic silverware if we are given any when we eat out. I try to keep a clean 3 gallon bucket with lid ready if we need it. I keep the paper plates and such in their packages or zip lock bags in it. If water will be very precious there will be no water to waste cleaning out things.
It seems every time I relax and think about lessening our pantry or getting rid of say sheets or excess things we get an inkling that things might get bad again for some reason, and here I am thinking of what we might need again... ... sigh.... I was so enjoying going through things and having extra room then here we go again! Not that we have that much of a pantry but we sure know how much it has helped so many times when illness or layoffs have happened. Yes we are thinking ahead some too now about home needs. Hardware wise and such. Older non electric kitchen gadgets and such.Course we have used such things always anyway. Why not. Don't forget to get some garden seeds or fertilizer...extra dog food. You know the drill. Prudent homemaker sure is wise and between her and you and others and u-tubes we have gathered many tips and information. Also life teaches us a lot too! It is just plain reassuring to know if you are too tired to get out to shop you will probably have enough to feed the family isn't it.
Congratulations on Again being able to reduce your medical things. Not just saving your health doing so well with your numbers but also saving your self some money. Sarah

vickie morgan said...

the pot would look great just on it's side broken with little pansy's rolling out of it I'm glad too you got your porch finished. I'm just like that with some goals I do a little at a time. It's gets done just slower. Have a great day!

Kathy said...

Are you feeling the need to stock up more these days? Do you think things are going to get bad? I've been feeling the urge as well, but I am limited by finances right now. Hopefully I will be able to stock up more soon. Will see if I can find the rationing series that you mention. I did check out Clara's kitchen book from the library, and I enjoyed reading it.
Love your garden area with your flowers. So pretty!
So glad that you had a good checkup. Great news on keeping your numbers under control.
John sounds like a great uncle and grandpa. My kids called my Dad, PopPop. He would do whatever they wanted...I miss him so much.
Hope you have a good wekk.

Lana said...

A few years ago my husband was unemployed for 9 months. Our sheets just went to shreds within a week of the job loss. I was so glad that I had a stack of mismatched leftovers in the closet to fall back on. We use LLBean flat flannel sheets for blankets as they work well for our fluctuations I weather in the south. The last for many years even with the hot water washes we do.

Anonymous said...

Your hard work is really paying off. No more blood testing unless you feel you need to plus your weight loss! Congratulations!Gramma D

Crystal H. in Nevada said...

I've been clearing out the refrig., pantries and large/small freezers. Need to defrost this coming week on the big freezer. Did a lot of cooking from scratch this week. My grown son loves this as I always make enough for us and him too. He swings by after work and picks up extras.

I know what you mean about stocking up and feeling the need to have extra of things this winter. I have been told by all the seniors around where I live that it's gonna be a bad winter and of course as grandma would say - Seems like things are going to hell in a hand basket. Was talking with my mom in Oregon yesterday and she is getting batteries and checking flash lights and other things like blankets, etc... She's always had a pantry closet so she's working on that with sales and coupons and deals. We have to do what we have to do.
Take care.

Lana said...

I talked to my husband about John's plan to keep hardware and parts on hand and he really likes the idea and plans to put together a list. We have had a toilet part break on Christmas with a house full of company and could not do anything about until the next day. Thanks.!

sparky136 said...

When you are browsing the thrift shops, look for the wire racks that you set on your shelves to stack you plates on. Also look for bins at Dollar Tree that stack on top of each other. This will give you more space in your pantry. You can also use tension rods vertically in your cabinets to separate cookie sheets and platters.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I went right to my list and added bottom fitted sheets for my next big shopping trip. The top sheets wear lots longer but the bottom sheets seem to wear out faster. That was an excellent idea. Thanks!

I've been thinking along the lines of preparing too. I've been doing lots of reading on this subject and there is lots of good information out there. It can be almost overwhelming at times! Smile, I ask God for wisdom all the time. He knows what the future holds and I don't. Who better to ask?! Pam

Karla Neese said...

I've been wanting to replace our comforter for awhile but I'm determined to keep it until it's falling apart. It is starting to get some holes here and there and just generally look worn. It's made from a very smooth, light weight denim material so it's plain and anything looks fine with it, just like a pair of jeans. I'd love to replace it with a quilt but I think that might be too girly for my husband's taste.

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