My Frugal Week: May I?
Sunday: Packed John's work lunch and made him breakfast.
My son offered to buy breakfast out for he and I. This was in exchange for taking him to pick up his car.
I picked up two birthday gifts for two of the smallest grandchildren at the clearance table in a store we visited.
After dropping off my son, I contemplated going to the town where I normally shop. Just a few miles away however were the same two stores. I was reluctant only because I am not familiar with these particular stores. Yes, they were set up completely different than I'm accustomed to but in a way, it proved to be a help, because I was so focused on finding what I knew I needed that I managed to avoid 'just looking'.
Purchased another trellis at Aldi. It was much needed in the rose bed.
Kroger is across the parking lot from this particular Aldi. I'd reviewed my 'free' items last night and knew which I needed to look for today. I looked for three items, was able to find two of them and consider myself quite happy as it was the two we were most likely to use in our home.
In all, I saved myself driving about 40 miles more by shopping in the town where I was instead of the town I prefer.
John agreed to work an extra half day in the near future.
My son made pizza for our dinner. He made the dough and the sauce from scratch.
He also began a big house project: replacing the screening in windows on our home. The entire front of the house has been done, including the storm door. In the coming week he'll gradually finish the task. He guessed he had about $10 in materials and estimated that he was saving us upwards of $350 in having it done professionally. On his way home today he picked up bags of mulch...Can I just say that my children all spoil me and I greatly appreciate it?
I got my checkbook in order, going over my receipts to be sure that those we used debit card to pay were written in. Vacation is definitely over, sigh. There is nothing like groceries and a totaled checkbook to make you aware that the real world is where we live.
On the way home, I filled my car with gasoline.
Monday: My son has to leave for work in the wee hours of the day, since his district is about 2 hours from my home at it's nearest point and 5 hours at it's farther point. I set up the coffee pot to go off in the early hours and set out to go cups for coffee so he can at least start his drive with coffee. I have been getting up very early of late, myself, though not as early as he. I finished the short pot of coffee and started a fresh pot for John's coming in from work.
Made a 'welcome home' breakfast for John. We are currently out of a few things despite my recent trip to the grocery. I felt there were just some things that might wait until next pay period. Making breakfasts this week will be a challenge but I'm up to it.
Totaled what we'd spent on groceries this pay period, including that spent on vacation and we are spot on budget. Good incentive to follow through with my 'wait'.
Finished removing old screens from the frames. Now Sam can just stretch and replace the rest of the screening when he has time. I must say the whole of the front of the house is complete and it looks so nice!
I spread two bags of mulch after I finished with the screens. The smallest flower bed was my focus area. What was left of the second bag I began spreading under the trees where I did all the work a few weeks ago. I noticed that already privet and more cedar are sprouting up there, despite pulling all the former roots.
For some reason, this outdoor work took a heavy toll on my energy. Perhaps it was due to the headache I woke with. I let my next jobs be easier ones. I washed a small load of clothes, including the clothes I'd worked in this morning and then hung to dry the heaviest items and used the dryer only 20 minutes for under clothes.
I moved my sewing items, a sketch book and color pencils from the guest room and shifted a few items to allow for more room for our family. I'll have my son move the stationery bike out for me later in the week, before his family arrives.
I cooked a whole chicken in the crock pot yesterday, setting the chicken on a ring of crumpled foil. Today I reheated that same chicken in the oven for about 30 minutes. The result was closer to a fully roasted bird and not the semi stewed state a chicken normally gets in the crock pot. It was a great 'heat' saver for kitchen work.
While the chicken was crisping in the oven, I put asparagus in to roast as well.
I cooked a full batch of wild rice (I use a brown/wild mix that has wheat berries and bulgur). I portioned leftovers into servings and froze them.
I set a portion of rice and chicken aside for my son to eat when he comes in. I've decided to make a big bag of salad since he really seems to like salad. John and I will continue eating as we're accustomed with a big meal midday and sandwiches at evening meal. Sam will have leftovers of our noon meals if he wants them.
I washed a full load of dishes in the dishwasher.
Remember when I said I needed more plates? I 'found' a set of enamelware with plates (four) in my cabinet which will at least give me 12 plates to use right now and that will be a help in cutting down on the need to wash dishes daily, I think.
I am slowly working my way through full beauty treatments. Yesterday morning I shaved and moisturized after. Last night I used cuticle cream and then applied cuticle rehab oil (severely dry cuticles here). This morning I colored my hair. This afternoon I worked on the soles of my feet...I hope by week's end to have done a full mani/pedicure and a complete facial, all of which should help revitalize my appearance. The general finish will be a full spa treatment but at nowhere near the cost nor the investment of time all at once, both a savings of time and money.
Tuesday: I made a breakfast of cheese toast and called it quite enough. As it happened, John was at home, our plans didn't involve heavy labor and we sufficed with that until lunch time.
John bought a take out lunch at the local diner from his pocket money.
I discovered my yogurt was just beginning to turn. I used a portion with our supper (cooked) and dumped the rest. I simply could not think how I might salvage it to use the rest of this week. Not working with a menu plan is a lot more difficult than figuring out how to change up what I thought I'd use and making another meal entirely. I hate wasting food and really ought to have taken it with me on vacation, I just didn't think of it. I think perhaps 1/2 cup went down the drain. My other waste was 2 small mandarins (about golf ball size) that we did take on vacation but we didn't eat then nor after we returned home.
We combined several errands (surprise) while out. We took off trash, dropped off a piece of outgoing mail, went by the lab, went by the credit union and then to Home Depot. Our last stop was at CVS and then home.
At Home Depot we picked out three ceiling fans to replace 20 year old ones we have here. John looked at fans online last night and took a set amount of money out of credit union to cover them. As it happened we saved quite a bit over what he thought he'd spend on them and that allowed us to pick up various other items we needed: primer for the dining room chairs, more screening for the windows, cleaner for the back porch railings and rafters, a nice clothes hook for the guest bath. We were $1 over his guesstimate and I call that pretty doggone good.
At CVS I restocked on pain relievers. I find their store brand acetaminophen has an unpleasant effect upon me so I bought name brand stuff. Ouch. I was happy to find I had a store coupon for a few dollars off pain relievers. So happy I brought along my coupons.
I stopped at the kiosk to print off other coupons. One or two qualified for today's purchases.
My biggest expense today was Mother's Day cards. I was shocked that one I sort of liked was $6...I know cards are pricey but they have gone up a lot in the past few years. I shall get busy making some cards for my stockpile. My Mom does NOT appreciate a handmade anything but my girls don't mind and neither do the grandchildren or the boys.
This evening I finally found what I was looking for to replace badly worn purse straps: silver chains. It will cost me about $18 but I consider that good value to continue to use the purse which is a better quality handbag. Had it been a low end purse I'd probably have just turned it over to the toy box for the grandchildren to play with. John and I checked at Lowe's and Home Depot for something suitable but it was obviously not accessory quality stuff there. Perfect for hanging baskets, but not so much for a purse strap.
Made John's work lunch.
We scratched about for supper tonight and that was just fine. There are no leftovers and no sandwich fillers and no prepared entrees. I prepared the two chicken fillets and opened a can of 3Bean salad. I keep one in the fridge almost all summer long because it's good, inexpensive, cold and convenient.
Wednesday: Packed John's lunch and made us both breakfast. I was hungry at 5am this morning myself, which is unusual. I was careful to have a snack about 9:30 to tide me over until lunchtime.
Because I was up so early I was able to work on Swagbucks. I was in the time frame that uses 'bonus bytes' rather than the bytes we pay for from Hughes Net. Honestly, I don't know how much I earned today but more than I've been able to do in a long while.
Honesty time: Hughes net has not been altogether the golden fleece we'd hoped. Yes, we get better service and aren't dropped off line every five minutes for 20 or 30 minutes at a time. Nor do we now have to worry about buffering. What we do have to watch out for is a mystery usage of our gigabytes. The company assures us the equipment is fully operational from their end. When we left for vacation last week we had about 10% of our 20Gigabytes left. When we called to complain we were told that streaming movies (we don't), videos (we do but on the very lowest setting and usually only 3-4 minute ones), smart phones (we don't have them and I can't imagine why we'd use our home wifi if we did), kindles (don't use it because I can't connect to the wifi), etc. are all data suckers so to speak. That we don't have these things and aren't using them and still with 20Gigabytes are nearly running out of bytes by end of each month is beyond our comprehension.
My children assure me that we're being rooked. Katie says they constantly stream movies and music and cartoons and barely use 16Gigabytes a month. Samuel says that he uses less than 12 each month and all of his service is through his phone including the smart TV feature that they run at home. We are not happy at the moment and are looking at other alternatives. We will not be returning to the DSL plan at the local phone company which is broadband gussied up and sold as DSL. I will keep you all informed if we do make changes or if we figure out where the data vortex is that is eating up our Gigabytes.
Out in the yard this morning about the time our bonus bytes time ended. I spread three bags of mulch, weeded and pruned a wagonload of items from the rose bed. I tied the new growth to the trellises and pulled up some smaller rosebushes. All in all it's starting to look rather spruce in the back yard and when I'm done I'll go to work on a new spot. It is one of my goals to have my house properly landscaped about the edges by summer...we'll see how far I make it.
I managed to get about five with a bit of root on them and have them soaking in water at present. I know I have two more behind the other trellis that I'm going to try to get out. If all else fails I'll take cuttings to try and root. I find that after 20 years the New Dawn is 'tired' out and it's time to replace with fresh plants. It's been my experience with this particular breed that I'll likely have a 50% success rate of acquiring healthy new plants from the slips I have. It's so pretty and though not a floribunda I can't help but love it because the original plant was from Granny. This rose always blooms just about Mother's Day. I brought in a small bouquet this morning to put on my bedside table.
Off to Mama's. I carried along cards to send out in the mail. Had to stop at post office for stamps. I slipped Mama's card onto her table while she was out of the room.
Brought home gently read magazines from Mama's.
Took Mama out to lunch. She was very unhappy with her meal. The entrée dish did not come as described and was stone cold, too, her salad was slightly wilted in her opinion and the overall experience was not good. This is quite unusual for this particular restaurant. They removed her meal from my check and offered to make her a fresh item of her choice to go but she refused. The bonus for her was that it was free pie day and she got her free piece of pie which she liked very well.
We went by Dress Barn to look at the new selections. I didn't see a thing I wanted or needed but was intrigued by the drape-y scarf-like fabrics used as long vests and such. I priced them but ultimately decided I'd rather put my money into much needed sandals. Besides, Katie has shown me how to tie a scarf so I can use it as a sort of shrug over a shirt. If you do a search online you'll come up with a plethora of videos about turning a scarf into a shrug, a vest, and a kimono type cover up. Since most of my scarfs already match my clothing pieces it's one less item I need to purchase. Savings about $40.
I did get a much needed pair of sandals. I opted for silver which will look well with blue jeans, white jeans or black maxi.
Came home for coffee.
Ate a portion of a sandwich that was leftover the other night from my supper. I stretched out the meal with grahams and Nutella, a banana and milk.
It was much cooler out today than it's been but I'm getting into the habit of pulling curtains on the sunniest side of the house to cut down on heating up indoors.
Thursday: I scratched up a reasonable breakfast this morning from odds and ends. It worked but it made me aware that my hopes of pushing back a visit to the grocery was just a pipedream. And yes, I did just go on Sunday, foolishly having thought I might manage with produce alone and not waiting until I had a list.
I went by the flea market to check in. I didn't sell a single thing during the festival this year nor even the month. I was so disappointed, having recently revamped the booth and put in a few new items and done copious markdowns. I pledged to stay with the booth until September 1, but I told John I think I shall give notice end of July. I will start to move items out and give it up. Truly I could use that little extra money I spend on rent to do home improvements.
Went over to the next town's discount store. I'd anticipated going on to Aldi where eggs were on sale for $.99/dozen this week. I priced eggs at discount store and found I could purchase five dozen (what I'd anticipated buying at Aldi) for $5.63. Truly I couldn't have covered gasoline over for $.63 so it seemed prudent to pick them up at the discount store. I found a brand of crackers that John is especially fond of were cheaper than ordering from Walmart as we'd been doing. They were $1.67 for 8 packages (compare to the $1 each at CVS earlier this week) and $2 for 8 packages from Walmart.
I bought chicken breasts for dinner tonight, picked up the turkey sausage patties, hot dogs and eggs and milk at this store. I stocked up on the sausage and hot dogs.
I also purchased three plants at this store for my current pots. I spent less than $10 on 2 1/2 gallon pots and 1 four pack of impatiens, which my great grandmother used to call Sultanas.
I was aching all over after yesterday's work out in the yard. Muscles ached that haven't ached in years and bones hurt, too. I was so tempted on my way home to stop at the local diner and pick up chicken...I even pulled into a parking spot but before getting out of the car I realized that hot dogs make for a quick lunch, too. I had hot dogs in the car. I shut the car door, backed out of the parking space and came right home. Lunch was ready before I'd finished putting away groceries.
Tonight's meal was simple and easy: Chicken fajitas with pico de gallo. I cooked peppers and onions in the oven with the chicken and truly it smelled awesome. I didn't add sides as I wanted to keep the meal lower in carbs. We had a gracious plenty to eat and even had leftovers.
Sam finished the screens this evening. He did a great job and it's so nice to know that now windows may be opened without worrying about mosquitoes coming in as the sun goes down. We bought extra screen and splines while out at Home Depot earlier this week. Good thing we did. Sam needed all of that to finish the task. He and I figured it cost roughly $30 to do 14 windows and 2 storm doors.
It was cool enough for sweaters outdoors this evening. My electric bill will appreciate not having AC run.
Friday: I worked hard on the yard this week...and it's put me behind on many other things I would have done but oh the satisfaction of seeing things looking pretty and trim! The photo that heads this post is one area I worked upon. I also laid mulch about the little gingko tree and flower bed around it and put fresh red cypress mulch on the little bed by the doorsteps. I used eight and a half bags of mulch.
John mowed the lawn while I worked outdoors this morning.
I was tired when I came indoors but I knew once I stopped I was going to be stopped for awhile, so I went right ahead and bagged trash, started a roast to marinate, swept porches and patio, swept the kitchen and started dinner. Thankfully the house has held up well and didn't need much work.
Dinner was simple and easy. I had 1 more package of Katie's Brunswick Stew that I'd thawed this earlier this week. I cooked brown rice and served the stew over that.
I packaged up the leftover rice into 1 cup servings and put in the freezer. This is very handy especially since brown rice takes a little while to cook. I took some of the frozen on vacation and it was so convenient, even more than instant rice would have been.
I took a roast out to thaw and found some marinade I'd had leftover from another meal. I'd cooked it and then frozen it so that I could reuse. I poured the marinade over the roast while it thawed.
John washed a full load of clothes and hung most of them to dry on the line.
I washed a full load of dishes and let them air dry.
It's been a full busy week and while I've not done as much as I'd hoped it's been a productive week overall.