Assinging Value To What I Do: Making Do, Doing Without
March 5: I took the time yesterday afternoon when we'd returned from our day out to prep food for today's dinner and plan out what supper should be. I used the last bit of chuck roast from the freezer (bought in November...the meat market dates the packets when they weigh and price them. Very handy to help me keep track of what packets need to be used up first!). I seasoned and browned the meat off today. I used onions and potatoes I'd sliced yesterday (potatoes kept in water overnight in the fridge) to make a side dish. The meal, served with a 24 hour layered salad, was very tasty and took me just a few minutes to prepare for the oven.
Everything baked in the oven together. Most welcome warmth on this chilly day. Chuck roast is so yummy when slow cooked but it can be a very heavy seeming meat for warm days. I was glad to use this up now while the days are still cooler.
At the end of the meal, I had a small portion of roast left and about half the potato dish. I mixed the two together to make a sort of hash dish that will heat in the oven (or microwave).
Popcorn is often our easy snack for Saturdays. I keep it simple with just salt and a small amount of melted real butter to pour over. We can have 3 cups each of the popcorn and honestly, it's far more filling and tasty than a bag of chips and costs mere pennies. I bought a 2 pound bag of popcorn for $1.39 I think at Aldi. It takes about 1/4 to make the six cups of popped corn. I could buy prepared, bagged, seasoned and flavored popcorn for $2.29 a bag (about 5 ounces). I could even buy a bag of chips of the same size and not feel I'd eaten half enough with half the bag (about 2.5 servings by the way) and spent $3.49. I saved $2.10 over the bag of chips and will have popcorn for 2-3 months duration. And each time we choose to have popcorn in those 2-3 months we'll have that same savings.
Mar 6: I chose to stay at home today, going nowhere at all and buying nothing. I always contemplate my options on these days when John works and going out is always one of those possibilities. But then again, so is staying home!
I experimented with one of the older patio chair cushions. They washed up just fine but honestly are not to my taste, so I tried spray painting them...Not a complete fail but the pattern is very visible still and still not to my taste. I realized spray painting was going to take a can per cushion which is a pricier fix than I'd thought it might be. I shall keep them, as they are still good, but I'll look about to see what other options I might come across.
These cushions did so well that I am planning to wash the newer set that is on the patio furniture.
I repaired a lovely hanging basket I purchased on clearance several years ago. I've got to go into the shed and see if the missing portion of chain from the other basket is there.
I washed a full load of dishes on a short cycle. This reduces the time to wash from 60 minutes to 40 minutes. I cut off the heat dry (I should have checked sooner. I think grandson Josh must have pushed the switch into the 'On' position. The grands do love to turn knobs and push buttons!) feature to save electricity. I opened the dishwasher door and let the dishes air dry.
Frustrated in the attempts I made to do any task or to try and finish any project, I came indoors and colored my hair before I showered. Coloring my hair at home requires but 1/3 of the mix in the box. I've learned to measure it rather exactly so that I use the correct amount. I keep a bottle to mix hair color in and therefore can reserve the rest of the solutions to use to mix color two more times. My method costs me about $1 a coloring and it lasts roughly 10-14 weeks. To have my hair done at a salon would be $65 for a straight coloring and no highlights or cut and style. Savings $64.
Used leftover water from the drinking glasses to pour into house plants.
I guess last week really caught up with me hard. Well that and getting up at 5am this morning probably didn't help much. I spent the rest of the afternoon looking through magazines, crafting some collage pictures and looking up genealogy records. A productive and relaxing afternoon. The magazines were FREE subscriptions. Savings $10 for the two issues. I passed them on to Katie.
Ate leftovers for my dinner. Ditto for supper, too.
Mar. 7: John washed a full load of clothes. He hung most out to dry. I was timing the dryer load and pulled them out when they were just dry. Run time was about 25 minutes.
I saved yesterday's dishes to wash up when I cleaned the kitchen this morning. I didn't have but a few pieces and didn't want to run even half a sink of water for so little.
Made a big breakfast for John since he was coming in from working all night.
Took meats out to thaw for the week.
When I bought groceries last week I bought a big bag of apples even though we had a half dozen at home. I bought two bags of oranges. I thought perhaps this way I might extend our fruits for two full weeks instead of running out mid pay period as we typically do. I used up the last of the older apples today and made a Waldorf salad to go with lunch.
I put the raisins I opened today into a glass jar with a screw on lid. I could store them in the box they came in but I've found ants can get into them quite easy and will do so in a heart beat. Savings $3. Raisins for me and not for the ants!
Put items into the freezer and fridge following dinner today and labeled them all so I'd know just what they are and when they were placed.
Cooked extra rice and portioned into containers and froze. This works best for shorter term storage.
I spent time scrolling web pages and doing searches for genealogy. Honestly, it is great fun to see actual documents our ancestors may have signed, etc., but it is not at all necessary to belong to any of the big name sites in order to get underway with genealogy research. I'd say the bulk of my notebook (a 4 inch binder) has been filled by jotting down notes, reference sites, etc. with pen and paper. It's a great hobby in my opinion and a nice way to 'get lost' for a bit. And it's free!Savings $200 over a genealogy website subscription.
Mar 8: John was up earlier than I this morning. He made breakfast for us. We had a far better breakfast than the one I was planning, lol. No harm done as we were out at dinner time today making us eat quite late. John treated us to a meal out which was nice.
We went to Lowe's and bought some items to repair a few minor things, picked up the two blinds for our bedroom, a staple gun and staples, and some window screening. Enough items to get me started on several planned projects and do some minor repairs. About half the money for this came from the house maintenance fund. The rest was gift cards earned with Swagbucks. There should
I had some turkey tenderloin that didn't get finished off in a timely way. I think neither of us much cared for the seasoning on that particular one. The cat and dog liked it right well and so it was not a total waste.
I opened a package this morning and found a free Granola bar (coconut and caramel). Hooray for FREE! Savings $.79.
John has bought me a couple of little cup sized containers of mini cracker/peanut butter...Like Mini Ritz. I have been keeping one in the car for a handy snack as needed when meal times come and go and we're not quite at the eating stage. He asked if he could toss the cup today, when it was empty. I told him I'd planned to keep it, buy the Aldi box of mini crackers with peanut butter and refill the cup to keep in the car. He thought it clever. I pointed out that it was thrifty. A box of the crackers costs about $1.50. The little cups are $1. I'll wager I get to fill my cup quite a few times from the box. I'll post the actual savings once I make the purchase. Savings: not yet known.
When we returned today John washed a load of clothes and hung to dry. It's so nice outdoors that he's sure to have dry clothing well before sundown.
Packed his lunch for work. Larger than usual since he is working an extra 12 hours, making a total of 36 hours. I'll try to include a breakfast item for Thursday morning as well as extra sandwiches.
We used up leftovers for supper tonight. Leftover pizza from lunch, the last of the roast beef hash (enough for one, since I ate that on my own Sunday).
Mar. 9: I don't even mind saying I'm weary this evening...John was up a bit before 5am. I loathe that alarm clock at 5am...I got up and packed his lunch and just managed to close the zipper on the bag. Made him breakfast and sent him off to work.
I earned the bulk of my Swagbucks for today's goal in the hour and half after he left.
After breakfast, Bible Study and brief putter about the house to get things looking nice, I got busy. Really busy.
I painted two chair cushions. Yes, painted them, using spray paint. It's a make do thing this week and I needed cushions. I still need to touch up a few areas on them but overall they look okay. I'll wager the paint has made them more water proof and will make them last far longer than I'd like, lol, but they will do for the front porch chairs. Cost for two new cushions of the same quality (prior to paint) would be somewhere around $14 each. $28 - $4 for the paint. Savings $24.
I realized the other day that I've been gazing longingly at a table on Pinterest and I was half way there. My map topped table was a salvage operation. The tabletop was terribly worn after 25 years and needed help. Decoupaging on a map was my solution. But there was this table that just blew me away. I liked my table. I loved this one on Pinterest from AmericanPaintCompany. I happened to price a similar one at a discount retail store. Their price was $350...
Now I have my lovely blue map topped table... I used what I had. Cost to me $0 since the paint was bought for another project and was leftover. While the day was so nice, I got busy and sprayed the map part with a PolyAcrylic to protect it from water damage and seal it. Savings $350.
Back a couple of years ago I pinned this:
I didn't have a bit of galvanized tin at the time but I liked this and thought it the cutest thing for a country home. Well I gathered galvanized pieces over the last few years, a few at a time. I saw a double laundry tub the other day but golly the price was $100! I decided it was Make Do time with what I had. I had about six to eight buckets of various sizes (there's still one or two on the front patio I mean to move) Note how this photo shows the varied heights. I used bricks under some of my pieces to give a greater variety of heights. The bricks have been picked up here and there. For some reason, I often find whole bricks lying in the middle of the road or at the trash dumpster. I bring them home, one at a time and have accumulated quite a lot over the years.
I thought I'd concentrate on herbs in my buckets but I need to transplant some volunteers first. Here's another way I'm making do this year: transplanting those volunteers to use. I have petunias and snapdragons, and chrysanthemums that have put out new growth in the past week or two. All of those will look well in my pots I gathered around front on the patio. I should be able to fill two pots just with volunteers and the coleus rooted in the house over winter months. There's a savings! Savings about 12 plant sets $8.
Put a whole chicken in to roast while I worked outdoors. That meant I needed to put together only side dishes in order to have a meal. I had brown rice portioned in the freezer, opened a can of green beans and sliced strawberries. Dinner done.
I didn't feel like cleaning the back porch after my morning's work, but I could sweep and get rid of the excess stuff. I took some things to the shed, used some in my flower bed. I re purposed an old trash can with lid that we've had since we moved here and put all my potting soil bags in that. I don't especially want an old trash can on the back porch but it looks a heap neater than three or four bags of various soils sitting about. And it cleared up floorspace as well. Using what I have saved $10.
Took plants I wintered over in the house back outdoors. I think they can stay out now until next autumn.
I likely would have worked more this afternoon but Mama stopped by to visit. With John not coming home tonight I would have overdone it and then been able to do nothing for the next three days. I expect I will accomplish a few things tomorrow now I've been saved from myself.
Sat down this afternoon and made out a list of things needed to complete each project. Not the things I wish I had but what is actually needed to achieve an end to each one of the projects in progress. Overall I need to buy very little. Most of it at this point is labor intensive stuff and just means I need to work at it a bit every single day. It took the worry of 'how can I...?' to a softer level.
I made up a batch of taco meat. There is enough for a meal for John and I, plus I had tacos for supper. I made my own seasoning mix saving $.99.
Mar 10: Boy some days just come off harder than others, don't they? My day started out just fine but by afternoon it was a strain.
Washed a full load of clothes, then hung everything, even undies, to dry.
Washed a full load of dishes on short load cycle and then opened the door to let them air dry.
Had windows open this morning to air the house. We're just beginning to see a dusting of pollen so I expect that will be the last time the windows are opened unless it's just rained. The hills were hazy with pollen dust today.
I had to pick up John's prescriptions. It's also a new sales week at the groceries so I checked to see if any specials were worth my while today. I picked up only those sales items and only one deal for each. Every item I picked up was on sale except the $4 bunch of white carnations I allowed myself today. I saved $17.63. Everything I bought today except my flowers stocked the pantry.
The grocery is where my frustrations started. The pharmacy debit pad turned down my debit card. Twice. I called the 1-800 number in a panic, checking my balance. No reason at all why it shouldn't have accepted my $10 debit. I called the local bank to ask what the deal was and they could find no flags or anything else and confirmed my balance. As I paid for my groceries, the woman in front of me was denied. I had no problem with my transaction but I'm willing to bet it was a problem on the store server's end and not my end at all as the pharmacist suggested. Whew.
Went to Hobby Lobby to get thread. I was out of all the basics in my house and needed a spool of blue to mend two items. I was shocked at the cost of thread. I spent $21 on nothing but thread today. Seriously! I got a total of five spools and they were almost $4 each...Is there a better price on thread that any of you know of? I say ouch! No savings in that but it was necessary and I wasn't eager to drive uptown to Walmart.
Stopped at CVS and spent my $16 in ECBs. I had forgotten dog food for Maddie but there was a sale. My ECBs purchased an 18 roll pack of toilet paper, 3 bags of Easter candy, and a 4 pound bag of dog food. I had a small amount of out of pocket money (you'll see why in the next paragraph). My savings totaled $27.92. My totalout out of pocket (oop) was $6. I saved 83%.
I was foolish and completely forgot to eat lunch today. I didn't stop for fast food. Instead I came home and had a very late lunch/early supper. I had a carb/protein snack when I realized I'd not eaten and that carried me until I got home.
I was trying to update information online and discovered that alarmingly our data usage for the month with our satellite internet was used up...and fifteen days to go in the month. I immediately set up a request for a check on our system. This will be discussed tomorrow but in the meantime, they recommended we turn off our monitor when it's not in use. John has always insisted we leave it on but that will change now.
Mar. 11: I had a second miserable night of pain. My ankles have bothered me periodically and the past two nights have been sheer misery. I even took a prescription pain reliever. Nevertheless, I meant to go to the Peaches to Beaches yard sale. There's a stretch of Highway 341 that runs through a town just 15 miles from here and people were set up by the hundreds in that area. They take over the town square, and have several stopping places up and down the long stretch of the highway. I meant to get a chance to go visit a few booths.
I started my day by prepping tomorrow's dinner. I made a big pot of pasta and chopped vegetables to make up Tuna Pasta Salad. John will likely take some of this in his lunch for Sunday at work. I chopped twice the amount of vegetables needed so we'd have extra for Chicken Fried Rice another day.
John washed a full load of clothes. He hung most to dry here in the house.
We waited to leave until closer to dinner time since I wanted to buy us lunch out. I used my allowance to pay for that.
Prior to leaving I had a call from the satellite company regarding my request to help determine why we'd used up all of our data allowance and were now drawing on our Bonus allowance. It seemed to me that it was just horribly high usage. I admit I'm on the computer all throughout the day at various times but we don't stream movies nor do we have smart phones or television hooked up to our internet, etc. First step was a diagnostic test which began with a 3 hour hiatus from using the service and disconnecting cables. Easy enough. We were going out to Peaches to Beaches anyway.
When we returned later, I called the service back, as requested, and the tests were run. It was determined that the equipment was operating correctly. What followed in the next hour was enlightening. If you have satellite service and you go on Facebook or other social media where videos might be shared, even if you do not click on the video to run, it automatically downloads. I didn't know this. I was aware that Facebook had, at one time, set up videos to automatically run, but they also provided a setting so that you could change that, which I'd done. It only works with DSL...
I asked the service rep if there was anyway we could prevent this with facebook and was told that it was a satellite to satellite thing and not stoppable. They have a file of fixes you can use to do get around various things but there's no stopping that Facebook video data consumption. One more reason to severely limit my time and the people whom I see on facebook!
If, as I do, you use Swagbucks videos to earn your swagbucks, you're eating up data. I spent two and a half hours on videos yesterday trying to meet my daily goal. Ouch.
So what's the solution to cut down on data usage? #1. Turn off the wifi when you walk away from your computer for any length of time. Same as you'd turn out a lightbulb when you leave the room. #2. If you do watch a video click on the gear symbol and choose the very lowest resolution on the video which decreases download time and uses less data to play the video. #3. Install a download manager app and use it to schedule videos to download in the off hours between 2am and 8am. This draws strictly off the Bonus data and not off the anytime data. #4. Severely edit our facebook friends and stop following those who post multiple videos daily in their feed. #5. Increase the speed and gigabytes aka buy a bigger data package. And that's what we've opted to do except for #3. Eventually we'll figure out this data manager app and use it as well but we're following all the recommended steps and yes we bought a bigger package.
It seems that when we got the service it was misrepresented. The low end package we had, which was the very least package offered, is perfect if you do nothing but send email and share photos and visit websites. Not so much if your husband happens to like to watch guitar demos on YouTube or you yourself are prone to watch a few videos from Glamourous Homemaker or War Time Far, etc. It's not at all good for any social media networking either. And since, as I said, our children post frequent pictures of our grands or photos of places they are visiting etc and we enjoy being part of their lives in that way...and since my husband has several groups he belongs to on facebook that provide him with a great deal of information and bonding with fellow musicians and debates and such that he enjoys, increasing our package seemed the best option. I won't call it savings but we were given a $15 a month discount with the new package and in three months if we find we've substantially decreased our usage then we'll see if we should downsize. The increased service package costs more. Not savings -$40/mo...we'll call it -$120 right now for the three month period. Honestly, if the internet wasn't our main entertainment we'd have shuttled it, but I had wiggle room in my current budget and we'll call it the entertainment fund.
The money spent at the yard sale today was all my allowance and nothing from the account. I didn't find the big items on my list of wants...In fact nothing I bought was on my list but I'm happy happy happy. I'll share my treasures in another post, but the best bargain was the four brand new Sudoku puzzle books I purchased for $.50 each, retail value $17.50. Savings $15.
This Week's Total: $613.43