"Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can."
Saturday: The coffee I bought yesterday was very strong. I need to use less of it to make a pot than the Aldi brand.
We had bagels for breakfast. I bought these on sale for $1, we'll get two meals off the package.
Worked on our 2016 budget sheet and set up the first quarter page.
I reheated the steaks John brought home from the EMS dinner. They were very good and tender. The dogs enjoyed the bones, the cat enjoyed the trimmings.
Yesterday afternoon, I mixed up a yeast dough and put in the fridge. I had only to pat it out on my pan and there was a pizza crust. There's enough dough left to make another pizza. I took a lesson from Sam's book when he was making pizza for us. Easy on the cheese, easy on the toppings. I let the crust be the real star.
I balked when I bought the kalamata olives I knew Samuel liked. They were about $5 for 5 ounces. Ouch. Not so ouch as it turns out. This is the fourth time I've used them and I still have a few left. Truth is they have so much flavor that you don't need loads of them, as say I do when I use plain black olives...So yet again, I'm learning that quality vs. quantity and buying the best you can afford is a better option than lots of lesser quality ingredients.
I used the last of the yummy pizza sauce Sam made when he was here on my pizza. I confess I've always used canned spaghetti sauce or canned tomato sauce that I seasoned but he made his sauce from fire roasted tomatoes, garlic and onion, cooked it down and then blended it. It's something I'll consider in the future.
Made up John's lunch for work tomorrow.
I have no eggs for John's breakfast, but I do have a breakfast sandwich that I've thawed and will reheat in the morning. I'll also heat one of those banana muffins I made for him. I'll eat the other one with a chunk of cheese for my breakfast.
Washed a full load of dishes in the dishwasher.
Sunday: If you'd told me in November when I panicked at the idea of the coming holidays and all there was to do that I'd be sitting around on the Sunday before Christmas twiddling my thumbs and wondering if I could possibly begin a project, I'd have laughed out loud. Well here's the truth: I want to start a project! So I sat down and started planning my 2016 list of projects and determined there were a couple I could start now. Ha. Use what you have, strikes yet again!
Went into town today after long hard thought. I'd meant to go to the big grocery to pick up my prescription and do my weekly shopping but I felt impulsive and spendy. I had another day of medication and knew we could easily pick it up when we'd normally buy groceries anyway. I decided to go to the local dollar store and get what I needed. I did a quick walk around the aisles once I had my list items in the buggy. Why? Because now and then I find something really useful and inexpensive at the store. Today I found three small canvas bins that will be perfect for a planned makeover. Total impulse spending? $6. I can afford that and I'm happy to have a few more pieces to go towards one of my 2016 projects.
I picked up a paper...alas, I forgot how pitiful the paper is in our town. Whoever puts these together could care less if you get sales sheets or coupons, sigh. Not one set of coupons, but there were 9 Dollar store inserts for the hometown store. Yep.
It was cool enough this morning to wear a sweater and a scarf and jacket. It won't last any longer this week but it will return. Planning now for wearing a bit later.
Cleaned the trash and cleaning cupboard today. It looks so much nicer and while it's hardly something just anyone is prone to see, it makes me feel happy when I open the door and see how clean and well organized it now appears. I feel the same way about the freezer I defrosted and organized last week.
Went over my grocery list, and through my coupons and through the sales sheets from last week (they run through the holiday this time) and decided what I'd buy and what I'd skip.
Cashed in Pinecone rewards.
Sat down this evening and went through bank statement, then did preliminary bill work and getting ready for Harvest tomorrow.
I ate some more of the Brie John bought me a couple of weeks ago. I noted as it warmed to room temperature that the cheese was just beginning to turn. Yes, it is a little waste but I enjoyed trying something new.
Monday: We had an electrician out this morning to give a quote about putting an electric outlet and light on the carport. This will allow us to run a much shorter extension cord to the pump house (less than 6 ft rather than the 50 ft it is now. It also means no extension cord draped through puddles in winter rains. The cost of the work will be covered by an extra half payment from October that is only just now coming into play and a small house maintenance fund we've had for AC repair that we didn't need this past year at all. The last small portion of the work costs comes from...me...I'll explain that in a bit.
Made chicken and dumplings today, since I never followed my own menu last week. Today was supposed to be the last cool day we had this week and I wanted to take advantage of it. I used two breasts from the freezer and mixed vegetables plus some broth I thawed out. I make the big fluffy biscuit type dumplings. Before I put dumplings in the mixture, I removed about half the boned chicken, broth and vegetable mix. John and I could never eat all that. I have a base for chicken noodle soup now that is in the freezer for a convenience meal a bit later.
I had a call from the vision care center that my new glasses were ready. I knew we needed to go pick up John's check, too. He decided we could do both this afternoon.
I packed up trash, took checkbook and bills, with me. I always have my bills/checks ready except for signature. After we write tithe checks then I finish off the bills. It's a nice time saver.
We went by bank and post office while we were in town.
Drove to Perry to the eye glass center. They were so very busy. I was surprised to find that John's glasses weren't ready. We wouldn't have gone over until later if I'd known that...but I was assured his one pair would be ready first thing tomorrow morning and they could mail his spare pair to us. We agreed since we will be in the next town doing grocery shopping anyway. It's just 15 minutes tops from the city.
We went by the pawn shop to sell some of my jewelry. These are older pieces that none of the girls wanted and that I never wore anymore. The pieces had no sentimental value either. I'd told John earlier in the summer that I ought to let those pieces go and finally had them with me when we were in that town. I made about 3 times what I'd thought I might make at best and was quite happy. That money will help finish paying for the electric work and pay off a medical bill I've been paying off in increments. I'm very happy with this 'earning' of mine that helped so much!
While in town we decided to take a chance on getting the oil changed in the car. The place is usually packed but today was so empty that we seriously thought they were closed. I pointed out the open bays and suggested we try. We were in and out again in 20 minutes. That service was paid for from the fund we keep for just that purpose.
I was enjoying a magazine a great deal while there and sorry to have to leave it. I checked and found a subscription card that I brought home with me. It's a travel magazine but the price is very reasonable, about $1.50 per issue and is published quarterly. I decided it was a good value for something I'd really enjoy having.
John and I used a portion of allowance each to buy supper from KFC...We will have the biscuits for breakfast in the morning and then we'll have leftovers of chicken and sides for dinner when we come in from grocery shopping.
We stopped and picked up mail on our way into the driveway. I love getting mail this time of year...there were lots of Christmas cards!
Tuesday: We had to leave early this morning so I streamlined things as much as I could last night. I planned breakfast, laid out clothes and had coffee set up to go off at 6:30. I got up and took my shower right away and put on my jeans and jewelry. That bought me enough time to do Bible Study and put on makeup in a leisurely fashion. Well worth the little extra effort.
I toasted the biscuits from our KFC meal last night as our breakfast bread this morning. Yum.
We took a direct route from vision place to Aldi.
At Aldi I did very well reminding John and myself often that it was a short pay period. I did get a couple of items to stock pantry that I knew we were out of and would want.
I fared less well at Publix and not at all badly either. It was a combination of picking up really good bogos for pantry and my need of fresh flowers and John's need of a submarine sandwich which undid the budget there. He's quick to say, "Oh it's a little extra..." and he's right. But it's almost always a little extra. The New Year is going to see a change in that direction because we simply must stick to a budget and that's the last frontier for cutting back.
I will be taking some of the overage of this week from next pay period's budget. I've worked out my budget for the quarter and we have a generous budget overall so no need to overspend.
I find car time is a good time to broach subjects I need John to hear me talk about. Without the distraction of TV or computer I can easily get my points across. So we had a brief discussion this morning about what I expect to happen with my insurance. I know the premium is going to go up even more and that there might be an extra cost to us for the finish of this year. I am not worried, but I want us both to understand what is going on and why and move on from there.
I made an inquiry after one of the survey sites failed to credit me for a survey, a week long survey that paid out big points. It took six weeks but I was credited for those points after they researched that I did indeed complete it. I cashed in points tonight for another $10 in Pay Pal funds.
Wednesday: Tonight was a 'Use it up' night for supper. I cleared the fridge of accumulated leftovers. What we didn't eat will feed pets tomorrow morning. There was very little leftover for them but it will extend their morning food just fine.
Crazy weather. Heater yesterday, had to turn on the AC for a bit today. It's only supposed to get warmer as the next three days occur, so the AC will definitely be running. At least it's not been an all day thing with either heater or AC. I used a kettle on the stove earlier this week to help warm the air which kept the heater from running so often and then I turned on a fan this morning to offset the need of turning on the AC until much later.
I hemmed a pair of jeans for John. I repaired the pockets on two work shirts.
Washed a large load of clothes this morning. It's been pouring rain for two days and there was no hope of drying clothes on the line. I used the dryer and dried them in stages. I dried the lightest weight times first and then put the next heaviest items into the warm dryer and then finally put the towels into the dryer last after the 2nd load came out.
I had no clue what to do for dinner today but I'd planned a meal last week that seemed doable in a short time frame. I made red beans and served over rice with sliced apples and corn muffins.
Shopped the pantry: cornmeal, flour, decaf coffee.
Put half the really big loaf of Italian bread in the freezer. We can't possibly use it all before it dries out and I really don't want to have to go to the store over the holiday for a second loaf.
Vacuumed the mattress and then rotated it on the bed.
Thursday: Went out this morning to pick up the smoked beef brisket John requested for holiday meal. I used my allowance to purchase but will take the money back from the account.
While I was out this morning I picked up mail, took off trash, went by the bank, got some papers notarized, dropped off two items at the post office to mail, and then headed out to buy brisket. That little trip counted for lots. Considering the nasty weather and such, it was doubly helpful to get it all done in one trip.
I came home and made cookies to take to Katie's. I didn't use all the dough. I put it aside in the fridge and will freeze it in dough balls for use later.
A nap was in order after the short night's sleep. I was invited to go to a friend's family party for the evening and wanted to be refreshed before heading out into the weather for what I'd knew would be a tense drive.
Friday: A merry Christmas day at home. I made a sugar free banana pudding for dessert to go with our meal. There were enough leftovers for Sunday dinner. I'm happy over this because we have plans for Sunday and I really didn't want to work hard today to make food ahead for that day.
Saturday: We traveled to see Katie and family today in their new home. It's lovely, not a huge house but plenty big enough.
Katie blessed me with five new tops and a purse from her closet. I took her some things Virginia had brought for her and promised her an item that is just a size too small for me but is her right size. I loved my Christmas gifts, every one which Katie always shows such thoughtfulness in choosing but I confess, it's the pass along things that tickle me pink to receive.
John bought breakfast from his allowance and I purchased supper from mine.
Sunday: We were out early this morning to hear a friend preach his first sermon in church. John and I came home to eat leftovers from our Christmas dinner, right down to our dessert.
We purchased a paper on our way home, which netted me the Proctor & Gamble coupons and sales papers to review.
Rest of the day was spent napping and resting. I've enjoyed my holiday but I'm ready to jump into routines and freshen things up now that the holidays are pretty much done. Rest and then work ahead.
Monday: Washed a full load of dishes.
Packed John's lunch. Made him breakfast.
Went out with Mama today and she asked to be taken to the grocery. Normally I'd rather do something else, but I thought about my desire to stock my pantry and bulk things up and agreed. I purchased some sale priced Kielbasa and hot dogs for the freezer. Best buy today was 4 storage boxes, buy one get one free. My receipt says I saved 65% today, $36, on a total of $41. I did not include the boxes in my pantry stocking up money. Those will come from separate funds, so I'll replace that portion of the pantry funds.
Stopped at CVS. I'd worked out what I should buy and did very well with coupons and CVS kiosk coupons and sales. I did get rather frustrated with a new change in policy so that I had $7 in CVS coupons that the manager refused. It seems that the system will not allow both a manufacturer's coupon and a CVS coupon if the manufacturer's coupon lowers the cost of an item below the CVS coupon limit. For example, I received a $4 off $10 purchase of razors. I found a package of razors fro $10.39, and I had a $4 manufacturer's coupon for them. Once the manufacturer's coupon was applied, the cost of the razors became $6.39...and the $4 off $10 store coupon was declared invalid by the computer system. I tried hard to argue the point but the manager would not over ride that and returned the coupon to me. It was the same deal with the other coupon, sigh. My original total was over $70 on the items I purchase, I used coupons and CVS coupons and sales to reduce the bill to $31. I received $20 in CVS ECBs back to use on my next purchases.
I want to add here that if you are new to COS and ECBs read the ads carefully. Many of the ECBs deals are now reverting back to how they were when they started this program. If the caption on the product reads "good on next purchase of 2" it is usually for the same product only and not 'cash' so to speak, just a glorified coupon for the same item. Great if you need more, not so great to if you happen to have plenty in stock. Look for those which simply say nothing about 'next purchase' with a minimum purchase number assigned.
It was Mama's day to purchase lunch. I bought dessert (we get cups of ice cream at Dairy Queen. I can easily scoop out half mine giving me a suitable amount).
Gratefully accepted a bottle of olive oil. Mama insists on buying the buy one get one free items and then doesn't want the second one. I was happy to add it to my pantry.
Came home late and made myself a cup of coffee.
I sat down and tracked my spending. I'm not tracking household funds spent. I am tracking the cash in my pocket. I have found that money seems to just 'disappear' and by keeping track of where I spent it, I know how much I should have (way too little) and where I spent what I had. I am determined to make my money work harder for me and happily I find I'm not frittering it away on nothings. I'm getting real buying power from my funds. Knowing that I will account for spending helps me stop and think about what I'm buying and whether my purchases are going to work as hard for me as we do for that money!
Took down Christmas decor but left tree up for one more night. It will come down tomorrow. My tree, nor my tallest nutcracker will fit in the storage boxes bought today. I may have one in the shed, I can swap things about and use. I think I'll have enough storage for Christmas decorations to be easily found instead of jumbled into boxes together.
I wanted my home to look fresh for winter months...You know I am big into 'using what I have' at the moment. Well my plan does involve a couple of bits of fabric that I'll purchase and then I hope to find mates to my bedroom curtains. If I do then I'll swap curtains from the living room to the bedroom. If I can't then I'll consider purchasing new black out panels when I find them on sale. In the meantime, the blue and white china pieces stayed put but were swapped about in the room.
Tuesday: Digging in the refrigerator freezer, I came across two packages of breakfast sausages. I moved them into the big freezer with the other sausage. It felt like a bonus to find those two extra packages!
I put the Christmas Tree into a garbage bag this morning. Not to throw away, just to protect it until I can swap out totes.
John and I were troubled by the way the screen on the new dryer vent kept catching lint. Our dryer, for some reason, has never been very good at capturing lint in the dryer lint trap. We'd already removed the dryer vent hose and vacuumed it out last month but two months it was clogged again. By removing the screening we shouldn't have to clear that out again. Because we have one of the pest covers over it, it should be okay.
I made whole wheat pancakes for breakfast. It was a from scratch recipe. I had two leftover pancakes which I put in the freezer.
Used extra egg yolks saved from my banana pudding on Christmas morning in scrambled eggs this morning.
Dry painted a pretty aqua color over an olive green shadow box. It makes the blue card stock I used inside 'pop' and draws attention to the antique lock inside.
I used the same blue cardboard stock and three different snow flakes from the Christmas tree to make 'new' art above the mantel. I used the same frames I'd originally had arrowheads (then autumn leaves and Christmas cards) in.
Pulled pretty cut glass hurricanes from the candle drawer to use on the mantel. I wanted to give a bigger bang to those so I plundered in glassware and found sherbet cup and pretty stemmed dessert bowls to the display. I put votive and tea lights in them. It's so pretty when the candles are lit.
I cut a piece of fabric using pinking sheers to use as a runner on the buffet. It's a blue and white plaid with green and blue slubs in the white squares and quite pretty. I bought the fabric at the thrift store a long time ago. Cutting with pinking sheers gives a sort of decorative finish to the edges and saves me sewing.
I'm not quite done with the freshening up at the moment. The dining table has to have something and the entry table needs a little something and the Christmas decor is still in the room albeit packed in boxes. I'll share a few photos when I am finished with the room.
Made pizza for dinner today. I had some whole wheat crust in the fridge leftover from last week sometime. I thawed hamburger and browned that to top the pizza, along with a few vegetables and the last of the Kalamata olives. I made a heartier pizza than I would make for a supper. I've found that if I skimp at dinner then John needs to snack more through the afternoon.
There were two pieces of pizza (my pan makes just about six slices) leftover. I put them in the fridge for supper one night.
Wednesday: I should have come here to post my doings for the day earlier. I'd have been less worried over what day it was. I struggled all day. John's schedule really does do numbers on our heads with trying to keep up with days.
I boiled 5 eggs this morning. I had one for my breakfast and made turkey salad and egg salad from the rest.
I took all the extra bread end pieces I'd saved up from the refrigerator freezer as it was starting to get a little crowded. After it thawed, I set some aside for French toast tomorrow morning and cubed all the rest. We've plenty of croutons and the larger pieces I dried are not being eaten at all. I suspect those will turn into crumbs eventually. In the meantime, here I am with bread that needs to be used up all over again. So I cubed it and while I was making Turkey Tettrazini for supper (two casseroles, one for dinner and one for the freezer), I also made up two Turkey Strata casseroles (one for Saturday and one for another date later, so they went into the freezer, too.) I had plenty of bread cubes leftover despite that and so I just put the bag of cubes in the freezer. I can toast or crumb them as needed. It was a lot less bread than I had earlier in the morning.
The turkey used was from the freezer, saved from our Thanksgiving bird. I made Turkey salad, two Turkey Strata and two Turkey Tettrazini from that meat. It was just the two thighs worth of meat, but a gracious plenty to work with as you can see.
I put a leftover whole roasted beet in the fridge. I've never before had fresh beets and I must say they were good. I'd like to have them again but cost wise they are cheaper from a can and the flavor difference is not enough to warrant the extra cost of the fresh ones.
I ran a full load of dishes this afternoon.
I culled books from my bookshelves. I have a dozen or so that will go to be donated to the local women's club for their annual book sell. The books are loosely organized by author or subject.
I noted how much I really needed a new bookcase. Then I remembered that there is a low 2 shelf one in John's music room closet. I went in today to look at it and I think I can fit it into the living room. It needs some TLC but I might be able to make a bench for under the window with it, which would give me extra seating as well and perhaps not make the room look too crowded. We'll see how that idea works out. At least I'll not have to buy another bookcase right away.
John and I wanted a little something extra after dinner today. I took out a bag of the chocolate chip cookie dough balls I'd put up before Christmas in the freezer and baked them. Yum. Warm chocolate chip cookie and a cup of coffee hit the spot. I mean to do this with peanut butter cookie dough as well.
I've been diligently working on my Swagbucks account for an hour every day. It's paid off but some days it's just plain hard. I earned more while I was eating my breakfast this morning in that solid hour I put in this afternoon! I finally gave up and walked away. Sheesh. Perhaps I'll make up the difference as I play about on the computer this evening. Not so today!
I had an email from Zulily and since I know what few things I want to buy for the coming year, I had a look about. I found two pretty pillows for a very good price. I ordered them right away. Two down and a few more to go.
Our supper tonight consisted of nacho chips and leftover pizza. Everything heated in the microwave. Super easy and a nice treat.
Thursday: Made French Toast from the larger pieces of the dry bread from the freezer.
Scrambled the egg milk mixture for John.
Shopped the pantry and brought out coffee.
Hung bread sacks to dry. I'll use these to store cut up chickens when I stock up on those again.
I've also found they are very handy to slip a frozen entree into once I remove the pan since some of the bags are quite big and wider than gallon sized zippered bags. The bonus here is that I can fit several casseroles of the same type in one bag and seal it.
I took note of the vegetables I had in the crisper drawers this week. I cooked all the mushrooms and beets yesterday, though I need to plan that one leftover beet into a meal. I washed and cut up a head of cauliflower this morning. I knew it was too much to cook at once and I'm not fond of frozen/thawed cauliflower. I cut away a few heads of this vegetable to make a raw salad with this weekend.
I made cauliflower au gratin as a side dish for dinner today.
Made a salad with lettuce, apple, pecans and dried cranberries.
Cooked a chuck roast in the crock pot this morning. I added in two red onions that I'd sliced and a packet of Italian dressing mix as the seasoning along with a good splash of vinegar and some beef broth.
I put up leftovers. I've enough roast beef, onions and broth to make two sandwiches.
We took off trash and carried mail to town to post. I had a few bills that needed to go out prior to pay day next week. I had full amounts for each one in the account. I did a quick thinking ahead and decided to go on and mail a birthday card and another item.
Another rainy rainy day. I decided I couldn't wait to move the drapes about and did it today. The blue ones from the bedroom are not quite wide enough for the living room windows but...I have sheers and blinds up on all the windows and seldom pull the drapes. I decided that as side drapes the two panels worked just fine.
I decided to make up a couple of envelope type pillow covers for the best of the living room pillows. I used some of the fabric leftover from my kitchen sitting area last spring. It has an odd coloration that is not blue/not grey/not quite green so it goes nicely with the blue drapes and the green sheers in the room.
As a treat tonight I mixed up real hot cocoa, using cocoa powder and a wee bit of sugar and salt and vanilla. Yum! Although it wasn't cold outdoors, the weather was so miserable that the cocoa hit the spot. Comfort for pennies.
Perused the iheartCVS site so that I could plan purchases I hope to make next week.
Friday: Well this two weeks has gone well and I feel secure in saying I've saved well. I'll finish up this post with today's tasks and call it a good run.
Washed a full load of clothes. Took the promise of sunshine, and the brief glimmer of it and hung towels and sheets to dry. They are there still, as wet as they were earlier in the day, alas.
Made a quick and easy meal for myself of leftover Kielbasa and previously frozen cooked brown rice, as well as fresh cabbage, black eyed peas.
Sorted out our 2015 donations, medical pays and such for tax returns.
Made good use of the new Devotional study I purchased and the comprehensive course from Marilyn Hickey "Seeing God in the Bible". I won't be able to put as much time into study as I did this morning every single morning, but I thought it a nice start to this New Year.
Packed John's lunch which I prepared last night and made him breakfast.
Downloaded the latest Kroger coupon for a free loaf of bread and noted it and the date of expiraion on my shopping list for next week. You can sign up for this free weekly coupon download (downloads to your store card) by going to Facebook and liking the Kroger Fb page. Just follow instructions when you click on that post.
I refilled clean water bottles with fresh water and put in the fridge for our daily drinks. John will grab a bottle in a heart beat but won't bother if the water is in a pitcher.
Made myself a quick treat this afternoon of a microwave s'more. I used a smear of marshmallow cream and 1 square of dark chocolate on a graham cracker sheet I'd broken in half. Just the right size and not too sweet.
Pulled several items from the freezer to thaw. These are dibs and dabs of leftover tomatoes, corn and beans. I mean to make some Taco soup now that the weather is cooling down. I hope to prep it this afternoon before Shabat and let it sit in the fridge until Sunday morning when I'll pour into the crockpot to simmer while we're out at church. It's always nice to come home to a ready meal on those Sundays.
Worked a bout of Frugal Bootcamp study this afternoon. I'm currently reading the book, Confessions of an Organized Housewife. Doesn't sound frugal to you? I believe that time, like money, has value and the more I can 'save' in one area the more I have to 'spend' in another area! This book was the first one upon my shelf and it's the first one I've started with. The book was originally published in 1982.
Balanced the checkbook.
Brought clothes in off the line. They smelled so good but were still pretty damp. I tossed in the dryer and timed them carefully to be sure I didn't run the dryer overlong.
Cleaned up the guest room...Doesn't sound like anything special? I spent a part of the day sewing in there yesterday and I know from past experience that my messes will sit and wait and wait and then I'm in a rush to clear up when guests are near arriving. No more. I'm not expecting guests but the room is ready and neat should any appear.
Tried out two different ideas, neither of which worked. That's okay. I at least took the time to try my way before spending.
The house is clean and neat, the meals planned for the weekend and so I shall end here. It's been a productive couple of weeks, a good mix of savings work and fun. Here's to a grand start to a New Year!