Showing posts from December, 2016

Challenge 1 for January 2017: Use It Up

photocredit: crazykouponlady

Typically come January I issue myself a pantry/freezer challenge to try to offset the costs of the holidays.  This year, I issued a challenge to myself during the holidays to only purchase what we absolutely needed or were out of and so there was my pantry/freezer challenge, because that was carrying us through the holidays.

I've just been freshening up several areas of our home.  Not doing a major toss out but simply looking into cabinets and drawers and pantry and freezer and cabinets and fridge and noting that there are a number of things we aren't using or haven't quite finished.  I won't throw away something unless it's absolutely useless or spoiled.  We've already spent the money on these things.

Frugal Friday: Good bye, Sweet '16

Saturday:  We ran the AC on some this evening.  I should have opened windows, as I knew it was going to be warmer.  We will definitely be doing that tomorrow!  I am not anxious to watch next electric bill rise just because I was careless in minding the weather.

Our meal today was simple and frugal.  Leftover spaghetti meat sauce and a salad.  I have enough leftover for a single entrée for one of the days John is working.

I failed to plan ahead for Channukah though I'd meant to do so.  Well, I wasn't completely unprepared.  We had gelt and I had a dreidel so we played that and enjoyed it.  I will say that John's left handed spin is far better than my right handed one.  It was my out and out refusal to give up all my gelt that left me with any at all, lol. 

It was a lovely Christmas Eve.  I had my books to read, we watched our favorite A Christmas Carol with Alistair Sims and several other Christmas films.

I was inspired to look up one of the authors I'd been reading an…

This Week In My Home: New Year!!

This week in my home....
Pardon me while I feel nostalgic for what winter can look like...We're expecting temperatures in the high 70's mid-week...
...We are celebrating the New Year in our usual understated fashion.  In fact, as I type this it's New Year's Eve evening and our plans include going to bed about our usual time. This is typical of us.  We don't drink much and we certainly have no desire to be on the roads with those who might not know when enough is too much already.   Which reminds me of a funny conversation I had with my doctor during the intake process when I was getting set up with him.  He commented on my being hit by a drunk driver that I shouldn't be on the roadways during the hours they drink.  I looked at him and said "Oh okay...just so you know it was 8am in the morning on a weekday."  He looked at me and laughed and said "In other words let's just stay home!" lol We've had a pleasant last day of the year and I&…

Coffee Chat: Goodbye Sweet '16

Good morning dears.  Come on in and let's have one more chat this year.  I've been busy trying to refresh my home once more.  Well I pretty much finished two days ago.  It took me far less time than I imagined it might.  That's not to say there's nothing to be done.  I expect should I go room by room I could quickly fill my To Do list full of things to organize, purge or just plain clean.  I know this is true because I LIVE in my home.  But I felt I'd gotten a pretty good refreshing done to the house early this week and I have felt restive once more.  I even managed to go out yesterday afternoon and prune the roses and that one lantana I've tried hard to kill that simply won't die

The trouble with the lantana is that it's one of those very old fashioned sort that grows tall and huge around.  And it hangs over the edge of the flower bed and slaps John viciously when he's mowing.  It has prickly sort of branches and they hurt, as I know too well from…

Pins I Actually Tried in 2016

I was just trolling around Pinterest (and yes, I do that almost daily).  I saw a pin and thought, "Oh yes!  I tried that and it worked beautifully.  Which made me wonder what else I did in 2016 that worked well and saved us money or time or better organized us?  Well here are a few highlights.

These first pictures are not mine.  I picked them from Pinterest.  I can only credit the second photo and that goes to Sunny Simple Life

Number 1: 
 Storing lemons and limes in jars of water in the fridge.  I even went so far as to just store the fruit in a jar without water in the fridge.  I can say honestly that MONTHS later I have lemons and limes.  I will also share that the limes are a little bitter along about now but we've had them in the fridge for going on five months.  I can say truthfully that this method keeps them fresh and usable for a lot longer than letting them sit in the open on counter or on a fridge shelf.

This Week In My Home: Holidays!

This week in my home:

...I am already starting to feel the pull of the New Year/fresh frugal year though we've just lit the first Chanukah candle and the sun is barely setting upon Christmas Eve...Normally I'd post this on Sunday but it's to be Christmas and I don't want to invade your homes on that day and honestly, I don't want you all invading mine.  I hope to hear from the children, but I'm going to enjoy my day with my husband.   We're going out to church, a little early.  We're coming home to a special meal.  I feel such a deep peace and thankfulness this year.  But the New Year does tug...  I guess it's just habit after all these years. 

I generally do a 'review' of sorts at the end of a holiday season and write out what worked and what didn't.  It's a handy guideline to look back over the years.  I've been doing this consistently since 2012 and I can say honestly that reading back through these pages before the holidays …

Frugal Friday: Merrily To Christmas Day

Saturday:    Reading through old blog posts I stumbled upon a recipe I'd apparently made but once, though my family raved over it at the time.  I've all the ingredients and then some on hand so I shall make it again this week, I think. 

We were gone most all day yesterday so no meal prep was done for Shabat.  I had to cook today which is not something I care to do.  I cooked half a pound of ground meat shaped into slider type patties to use for our supper tonight.  These served in leftover rolls I'd frozen last week after the Christmas and Family day. 

I cooked the other half pound of meat and made Cheeseburger Mac as I'd planned on my menu last week.  There's enough leftover to serve two servings with generous salad and a second side vegetable or one very hearty serving for one. 

We stumbled upon the George C. Scott version of A Christmas Carol this evening.  Lovely thing.  "There's more of gravy than the grave in you!"  is one of my most favorite…

Food for Thought in 2017

There's a skit I remember seeing in my childhood years.  I want to say it was performed by a well known comedian whose face/name escape me at the moment.    It involved a sad sack going into a restaurant and ordering two cups of hot water.  Into one,  he dumped a dollop or two of ketchup from the bottle on the table, then added some salt and pepper and stirred it.  Then from his coat pocket came a used tea bag which was dunked in the other cup.  The hot water was free...and so was the 'soup and tea' that made up the meal...which he enjoyed very well until the restaurant staff caught on to his ruse.

There have been slim days in the food budget in the long ago past.  There have been sticky weeks here and there since then, but for the most part we've been blessed with food and enough money to purchase more when it was needed.  I say humbly that God often inspires me to stretch foods beyond what I dream they will go.  I've been very blessed in this area.

I've been…

Coffee Chat: Cusp of Christmas

Come in, come in and have a seat.  I'll have a cup of coffee in your hand in a moment.  It's plenty damp and cool here!  Not so cold as up north perhaps but it's cool enough to make a wool coat feel good.
I've just finished watching the nicest short film, 'Winter Thaw'.  I found it on the BYU channel and it is the story of a cobbler who is estranged from his son.  He is told by his wife in a dream that He will visit him and all he must do is ask him in.    It is well worth seeing for those of you who access to the channel or who might find it on Netflix.  I wept at parts of this short film.  The scene which most made me sob was where the Cobbler is preparing for his coming visitor and is cleaning up his home and preparing a meal and setting the table.  I wept at the idea of welcoming The Lord into my home by making such preparations.  I wept because I often feel, on a Friday as I am cleaning the house for Shabat and preparing foods for the Sabbath day, a sense…

Working Out Our 2017 Budget

Debbie in KS asked me a few weeks ago if I'd  share how I go about determining our annual budget.  Really it is not that difficult to do.

I start by determining what we might expect for income.  Typically I'd use the last check stub and work with the net income amount on that but this coming year, I know that John will be working fewer holidays and that our income likely will drop.  I was conservative in my figures this year.  The annual budget sheet is just a roadmap anyway.  I'll take it month by month until the first quarter passes and then I'll have a better idea of exactly what our income is likely to be for the year.

So I start with our net income.  That is the first figure.  I look at the GROSS income figure and determine about what we will be paying in tithes.  That is always our first check each pay period and I make sure to plan for it.  God is much better at providing  for us on our income when we tithe than when we try to manage it all.

We have only a few f…

Mini Boot Camp Crash Course

Since I had no big projects planned early this month, I wanted to make this month count mini boot camp came to mind.  I didn't read books this time but mostly trolled about Pinterest looking for new to me ideas, good reminders, etc. 

This go round I made an executive decision to STOP reading all those silly bulleted savings posts that repeat and repeat and repeat the need to stop doing the very things I never do anyway.  I also vowed  to stop reading posts like "Seven Habits of the Very Frugal" or "Things You Shouldn't Buy if You're Really Frugal".  And I promise I will try not to waste your time writing such things!

Do not save what is left after spending but spend what is left after saving. ~ Warren Buffett

Here's some of what I came up with, in no particular order, with random quotes scattered here and there.

This Week In My Home: Christmas Cheer

This week in my home...
Photos herein are of this year's decorations.  I've tried and tried to get up a post about this year's décor with the worst luck loading pictures up here on the blog.  So I've sprinkled these throughout this post.  I hope you enjoy!

...John and I stayed in pajamas all the day Saturday and it was lovely.  He'd noted the presents under the tree Friday.  "Whose are those?" he asked.  "Yours, of course," I'd answered.  Well he wanted to open them Saturday morning and I had no troubles with that.  After all, I'd had several of my gifts for weeks now and have worn or used them happily.  It bothers me not at all that there are no gifts under the tree for Christmas morning. 
I haven't made huge big plans for the coming week. Partly because there was a dinner to attend today after church at Mama's and then John off almost all the week.  It doesn't pay to make big plans when John is off, lol.  He does tend to be…

Frugal Friday: A Little Nearer Christmas Day

Saturday:  How did I save money today?  I had a house full of family visiting and it might seem I didn't save anything at all, but let's look at just what I did do:

 I'd gotten up in the middle of the night to put a light quilt over Josh so he'd have cover enough. It was cold when we got up, even with the heat pump running.   I turned on the propane heater, making sure to warn Josh that it was hot and not to touch.  Then I put my vintage coffee pot on the back burner of the stove with plenty of water in it.

Put potatoes to bake in the oven with the roast beef.

We used disposable dishes and cups today.  Not a savings perhaps on any one save myself, but it meant I could relax and enjoy my company, which was John's intention when he urged me to purchase them.

It was so sunny and bright we didn't even need lights indoors today.

We were having a big dinner so a light breakfast was had by all. Normally John and I just have a bagel with cream cheese on Saturday and th…

Coffee Chat: Christmas Cheer

Deck the halls with bows of holly....Fa la la la la la la la la la la!  Oh hello...Do come on in and let's have a nice cup of cocoa...How does that sound?  With a candy cane to stir about in it? Hmmm?

I was sitting here on Saturday, watching John's face all lit up like a child's,  listening to the squeals of excitement from this one and that and I could barely open my own gifts I was so enjoying watching everyone else.  For one fleeting moment, I thought "Oh!  After this it's all over..."  But you know it isn't all over at all.  Why it's only just barely begun well.  And I decided then and there I'd find something to enjoy about each and every day until Christmas Day comes and goes.

So this week I've been all about enjoying the holiday.  Sunday I enjoyed the day with a special viewing of Anne of Avonlea on PBS.  I do love Anne Shirley and her romantic kindred spirit.  I have been blessed to find that same feeling of kindred souls with my Kati…

Postal Order

At the post office today I learned quite a bit of new information and I thought I'd pass it on to you all, because I didn't know any of what I was told today and apparently neither does every postmaster/mistress either.  We stopped by another post office Friday on our way to Macon and this lady never mentioned any of this information to me at all.

First, if you are mailing fragile or perishable items you must say so via a computer prompt at the pay kiosk.  The post offices no longer are supposed to mark contents as fragile (the lady on Friday DID).  It is right on the postage label that prints and this is a prompt to the service to handle that piece of mail differently than they might others.  Anything perishable or liquid is going to cost more to mail than other objects in the same packaging.  This is because they must be handled differently and while they do not necessarily require special packaging you'll pay extra for that specialized care. 

This Week In My Home: Holidays Ahead

This week in my home....
                                                  Another tree from a past Christmas...

We have just had our family gathering.   It was Bess' idea to have a once a quarter family day here at our home since it's about halfway between Katie and Sam.  This time we shared Christmas with them.  Early yes, but I put up the tree on Thanksgiving week as a rule anyway, so no hardship to have Christmas early.  I made a single batch of a family favorite cookie, we had a nice meal, we opened presents and enjoyed one another. 

We went to Bass Pro to meet up with Bess and Sam and watched Josh run with excitement all the way to the entry to Santa's chair...and there he hung back, suddenly shy, crying as usual when placed upon his lap.  But oh the joy as he watched the train run through snowy mountains and tunnels at the train table, played with Lincoln Logs with his daddy, rode the elk on the carousel and watched the fish in the huge aquarium. 

But my favorite p…

Frugal Friday: A Hurried Week

Saturday:  I was up super early this morning.  I awoke perhaps 5am and at 6am I knew I may as well go on and get out of bed.  I turned on the propane heater, put on a pot of water to add humidity to the air and turned on the Christmas tree lights.  I made sure to dress warmly today, too. 

My reward for early rising?  A most gorgeous sunrise, a fitting background to my prayer time this morning.  Somehow the intimacy with God is greater when you're looking out on the glory He's created while you pray.

I used small pieces of a loaf of bakery bread to make French Toast this morning.  I wanted very much to have nutmeg and vanilla in my French toast this morning, so I made sure to pour up the leftovers into an almost but not quite empty Strawberry jelly jar.  I've shaken it well each time I've gone into the fridge today.  I'll use that to make muffins another morning and will likely add a bit of frozen berries to the batter.

I made a small pan of brownies for us to have…

No Discount

I love a discount, when it means money off, don't you?  What I don't care for is the sort of discount that  occurs when someone takes a snooty attitude towards an opinion or action that others might be taking part in.  Not politics, but money saving is still the topic.

Not long ago, as I tooled around on Pinterest looking for new to me ideas or reminders of old ones for saving funds, I came across one of those bullet point type blog posts "Ten Things I Won't Do to Save Money."   Do you know how many of those things I do?  At least 8.  And it sort of riled me a little that this blogger would discount the efforts others make!

One of her points was that she would not wash zippered baggies.  That's fine.  It's not something I'd do either if I was short on time.  It is a savings but it's not necessarily the most time effective method of savings and I acknowledge that.  Her reason?  She wasn't sure they were really clean...uhm ever hear of HOT wate…

Coffee Chat: Sanity Savers

Hello dears.  Come in and have some coffee.  I'm in the midst of stirring up Christmas cookies and wondering what on earth I did with that sugar cookie recipe I had in hand two weeks ago.  Isn't that always the way it is?  Have a seat and I'll have you a cup of coffee, or even cocoa if you'd like, in a moment.  It's awfully cold outdoors isn't it?

I really want to make a load of cookies but I will not.  For one thing butter is not as low in price as it might be for this baking season and for another there is the fact that I love cookies.  I'm making the 'We can't have Christmas without..." cookies.  In our house that is a jam thumbprint that is rolled in coconut before you put the jam in the thumbprint, and stove top cookies, Magic cookie bars and chocolate chips.  And then because I use the sugar cookie dough as base for the thumbprint cookies and Katie and Sam take those home, I'll have a few pretty sugar cookies that I'll roll in co…

Questions and Answers and Comments, Oh My!

Come on in!  Have a piece of chocolate and a mini candy cane.  No worries, we're staying low carb though they are both sugary treats.  I promise you're under 14 carbs with those two little bits of candy.  Don't mind my pajamas and robe.  I got a bit chilly and decided that nothing short of cozy would do with Christmas music, Christmas tree lit and a tiny bit of holiday candy.    November seemed to just fly by, didn't it?  Well the year has seemingly flown by as well though I realize it had only as many hours in it as every single other year (save Leap Year).  Maybe it's because I USED so many more of those hours this year than I'd used in a long time?
I've been hearing Christmas music every where I went today.  Loved it!  I sang along and didn't mind if anyone heard but I promise I didn't get obnoxiously loud about it.  Just enjoyed myself, doing a tiny bit of Christmas shopping and very nearly finishing it off, doing a bit of grocery shopping (oh …

This Week In My Home: Mad Dash

This week in my home...

Christmas 2014 door.  Oh the mess the glue dots made on that door!  And still didn't hold on to those delicate snowflakes, lol.  All photos here are from Christmas past, 2014.

...we are caught up in a mad rush.  It seems nearly every one wants to get things out of the way before Christmas so dinner parties get planned for that first week of December.  And the rest of December is a tad downhill from there.  This week we'll attend John's work dinner and then we've got the kids coming in to spend the day with us on Friday and the rest of the family comes in on Saturday and we have our quarterly family day and incidentally, Christmas, too.  We always give an early gift to our kids so they can use as needed to help the season along in their homes.  We combine these activities with a Sunday at church and John working one day so we'll have to push grocery shopping in somehow and prepare for company as well. It will all get done, it always does and w…

Frugal Friday: Using What I Have, Holiday Style

Saturday:  I found it a good bit cooler this morning than the past two mornings.  I wanted crispy toast for breakfast, not our usual bagel.  I don't know what it is about nice crunchy hot toast and a hot cup of coffee, but it seems to go nicely with a cooler morning.

I made a recipe of pizza dough...then John decided he'd rather have a turkey sandwich, which turned into not a turkey sandwich but a plate of turkey with some of the leftovers.  More power to him!  That fridge is packed with leftovers and I am trying to put on my thinking cap and determine what I can do with them all and fill the gaps in my freezer with ready to heat and eat meals.  I do have a few ideas.

I fashioned a second wreath from one of the older ones and did some decorating on our back porch entry area.  I have decided that with all the cedar on the place I can afford to keep trimming branches and using that as fresh greenery...Why on earth should I go buy more faux stuff when the cedar is free?

I used a …

Winter Produce: In Season, Best Buys