Questions, Answers and Comments, Oh My!
Although this particular comment isn't from a December post, I must address Anonymous who seemed mighty upset that my blog now has ads. YES it is the blog, not your device.
I am desperately trying to add a small amount of income to my household through various venues and since I spend a good many hours weekly working on this blog it would be nice to make a small bit of money from it. I hope to get an Amazon affiliate link up as well if I can figure out how to activate the old one. The revenue from ads is small but it does add up. I don't ask anyone to click on anything they aren't interested in but if you do click on an ad for something that you'd like to know more about I'll receive a pittance for it and appreciate it greatly.
Now on to last month's comments and to answer any questions asked on those posts.
Gracious! Lana commented on the first post of December (a Frugal Friday) that she was making Cranberry orange relish and Sweet Potato Casserole. YUM! I think holiday foods just sound good almost any time of the year, even when the year is new and the holidays only just past!
I didn't make Cranberry orange relish this year as I have some in the freezer from last year. I also have a lot of cranberries in the freezer. Those are on my USE IT UP list. I have a recipe for a cranberry cake that sounds really good I thought I'd try, and another for an upside down cake that I know is good that I haven't made in years. Since I have two or three pounds of cranberries, I am sure I'll be able to make a variety of things with them. I also need to cook up those last little (oh so little!) sweet potatoes I bought at Aldi. I think a sweet potato casserole for the freezer would be a god thing.
Rhonda I often find that the to do lists wear me out too...but it's thanks to your old quote "When you do stuff, stuff gets done" that I DO get worn out. I used to just make the list! lol I think some of Penny Ann Poundwise was always within me and that's why this sort of post sounds like those posts. Funny...I created Penny Ann Poundwise on a nighttime inspiration as a newsletter through Yahoo groups ages ago and she became a pseudo mentor to me. I felt compelled to be what I was writing and as I grew her I grew like her. But I did find it very confining since Penny Ann was all about money saving and never seemed to have a bad day or bad moment. Ideal, yes, but not real. However, I have found that I didn't really put her away, because part of me was always Penny Ann...
On November Q&A Lana mentioned her nephew had gone home from the hospital following his accident. He's recovering despite many broken ribs and lots of bruising. Lana, please keep up updated on him and your husband's recovery. For those of you unaware, Lana's husband had a big heart attack somewhere about Christmas. He's doing well but your continued prayers will be appreciated there.
And Dale updated me about a week ago that they were moved into a rental place until their home can be rebuilt. She wanted to thank you all for your prayers on their behalf.
Sanity Savers highlight was about my finding the wise men similar to Granny's on eBay. Turns out these were meant to be used as ornaments so were smaller than I remember her set and the ones I ended up with were silver instead of gold as I recalled hers being but yes, they were the same otherwise. It gave me great joy to set them out this Christmas. I will certainly use them each year though I do tend to change things up now that the kids aren't home to command we put out this or that or it can't be Christmas.
No Discount was likely one of the most comment heavy posts I wrote in December. Pam noted that unwanted advice or derogatory remarks abound in ALL areas and she's quite right. I especially liked one forum for diabetic recipes but one woman made it her sole duty to go onto every.single.recipe comment section and leave remarks that the recipe was NOT correct for a diabetic. EVERY recipe. Had she bothered to research she'd have discovered that diabetics are as individual as people. Some people might not have been able to eat the recipe as written but many could. All of the recipes shared followed the American Diabetes Association dietary guidelines.
Rhonda, I don't mind another's opinion voiced nicely but some people are terribly assertive/aggressive even and that's what I find disconcerting. Like you said about yourself, there's lots of information filed into my brain from years of reading money saving tips on various ways to save. I try to keep that information fresh so that I can use it if ever I need it. I do get awfully tired though of people who are so opinionated that no one has the right to even voice their own opinion. Yep, "If you can't say something nice, then say nothing at all," is still a great adage to remember and I use it often in my own brain to keep me from saying some of the things I think...lol
Debbie, It was frequently commented upon in my first marriage that I must be lazy to stay at home with my children...Gracious! Lazy?! Managing on one income, stretching dollars as hard as I could and doing everything myself? I can laugh now as I look back at all I did to make our ends struggle towards one another. And the same critics later watched my children take the same amount their cousin was given each year for school clothes and stretch it to cover clothing, supplies and shoes or jackets or both while the cousin (you know the one whose mother wasn't lazy and worked outside the home) bought a single pair of pants and came to ask for more money so he could buy the exact pair he wanted...Well they spoke differently to me after that, let me assure you. I heard things like how proud they were that I'd taught my children the value of money. Indeed...and to think I learned it while not earning a penny!
Lana the comment I was referring to with Brandi was on her facebook page. It wasn't a polite question it was an out and out attack and she did get her back up on her blog comments after that. She was very hurt by the mean spiritedness and was even called names because of her choice of faith! I hope that you will find it in your heart to forgive her for what must may have seemed unnecessary nastiness but the truth is that the blog comments came up behind the facebook storm on her page. I assure you, having weathered a few mildly mean comments I was completely taken aback by the vicious criticism she drew.
Deanna Thank you for your choice to use my blog as reference in your frugal series next month! I think frugal and 'green' often go hand in hand quite nicely. I look forward to reading that series.
There were many more comments on this post than just those I addressed within this post. THANK YOU to all of you for reading, taking the time to comment and for sharing your own experiences in criticism that resulted due to your frugal ways.
Hurried Week Jennifer from Ohio Thank you! I try to get the Frugal Friday posted about sundown each Friday. With the earlier sunsets this time of year and family in the house as well in December I found it wasn't going to happen. Occasionally, as in this weekend, I have trouble with the internet and so that delayed my posting. I don't plan to do away with these posts. I find too many comments are generated and while I try to focus on fresh things each time I post there are things I share weekly because it's the consistent action of doing them that helps to make the savings worthwhile. As I shared early last year, preparing John's breakfast and packing his meals for the work day saves us a good chunk of money over the year. So much so that two years ago when I was hospitalized he asked during a visit what he should buy to make his workday meals. He might well have spent out of pocket and no fuss from me but I was touched that he knew it saved and he wanted to do his best to continue to carry that forward for me.
And we are in total agreement on that bakery bread. I buy it because it is more natural than the mass produced loaves of bread. I simply couldn't abide it and John and I discussed this week we paid the same price for both loaves. True mass produced loaves had more slices but what of it if I threw half of it away because it was sour and nasty. We eat every single bit of these bakery loaves.
Debbie in KS I chuckled to myself over your hauling Christmas things you don't use up from the basement and back down again each year. No basement here but Christmas items are stored in my shed. And even though I did sort and organize last year, I find that this year I need to reassess some of the things I've kept. For instance, Christmas mugs. Every one of the children has declined having them. They are a mixed lot of mugs and not precious or even pretty (except one...I'll keep that one). So when I sort out the shed this week, I'm putting them in the donation box.
As for the gift wrap and bags and tissue paper I went from three stored boxes down to one boot box. I shall carefully consider any future wrap purchased in the future.
Beckyathome I am sure this method of freezing will help with freezer burn but mostly it's meant to keep them contained. I am so over burst bags and contents spread over the freezer floor (or the kitchen floor which is what prompted me to do this!). I have no room in my freezer at the moment but I think when I empty the bags of black eyed peas into a milk jug, I'll have all my vegetables contained and the necessary room to store another milk jug. And a much neater freezer and more vegetables to actually EAT, lol.
Tammy, I too find scarfs 'warming', even the silk ones. I don't have many that are heavy though since our weather is so mild most of the year round.
I didn't make it to Hobby Lobby last week for the after Christmas sales but I have it in my mind to purchase solid color papers which I am sure they will keep in good supply year round. And I do mean to run in tomorrow as I do errands to see what's left. As for the Tulle ribbon, I like REAL ribbons as well as curling ribbon on packages. I also think the burlap spools of ribbon are nice and have some of that on hand. But no, I'll forgo bought bows in the future. Unless I find a less crush worthy way of storing them or wait to purchase only at time of need.
Holidays Ahead I shared our first family gathering. As it happened we had a second gathering at Mama's with my brother and his grandchildren. That too was a very nice gathering and a smaller one as ours had been. Christmas Day here alone was lovely and peaceful and much enjoyed. I feel I had almost a month of holiday to celebrate and enjoyed it thoroughly!
Rhonda, I don't think at this age Josh and Taylor realize the age difference. They just know they are on the same level height wise. Josh speaks better than Taylor but she's quickly getting there with her speech. I forgot to share the sweet/funny moment. I was sitting in the swivel rocker and Taylor and Josh came to sit on the floor behind my chair. I looked at them and Josh had laid down on the floor and Taylor was feeding him bites of the roll that one or the other had snitched from the table. It tickled me mightily to see him reclining there as she sat beside him feeding him, lol.
Postal Order I'm glad that several of you found this information helpful. Doris I don't believe you've commented before on any posts but your sweet words made my day! Thank you so much! I am sorry for the loss of your sister.
Christmas Cheer Debbie in KS You triggered a memory! Grandmama may well have kept the schedule she did because Grandaddy worked nightshift on the base...I hadn't thought of that in years and years.
The mission statement was one I used last year but it's too good to turn it loose this year. I'm going to keep right on saying to myself, "Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can."
Other's shared their mission statements or at least phrases that motivate them. Chris said hers was 'Cook once, eat twice." and said that she guessed being efficient was her mission. Not a bad mission statement at all and good sound advice I think.
Lana - It's not about me...
while Veronika shared that hers was "Take care of yourself before you take care of others". I encourage you all to read the comments section on this post. Lana and Veronika both explain themselves and I think they are both wise to choose the quotes they did. Sometimes we must switch our focus and both women have done just that.
Veronika and everyone else, I pray that 2017 is a good year for you all. I've had horrid years in the past. 2016 was not a bad year for us overall. My life hasn't turned out as I thought it would nor have relationships been all they might be. I try to be better and not bitter, a task at times to fight my way to that point. It's constant work in some areas, lol.
Tammy I've thought of the FP nativity for my grands. I haven't seen one in stores anywhere. I'll have to look at ordering online. Your word for 2017, 'purge', must have been my word for 2016. I went deeper than I've ever gone. So much so that I can think of little to let go of this year.
A Little Nearer Christmas Georgene I read somewhere that I needed four pounds of apples to make jelly. I figured my bag of peels and cores weighed about that much. I should have read the instructions in the box of SureJell before I started. However, being myself, I started and then read instructions. I covered them with water and let them simmer for a couple of hours I guess, then strained them in a flour sack and squeezed out juices. THEN I read the Sure Jell instructions, lol. It took 7 cups of juice, 9 cups of sugar and the packet of Sure Jell. You add the Sure Jell to the juice and bring to a full rolling boil, then add the sugar and bring to a full rolling boil. You're supposed to stir the pot continuously with both the Sure Jell and the sugar and it takes longer to boil than you'd think. But I made real jelly this time. It's a little soft but not just syrup which what I've gotten from my ventures without the Sure Jell. Oh and despite my lack of reading instructions, I had 7 1/2 cups of juice from my cooking of the parings and cores.
Wendi : the prettiest apple jelly I ever made was from peels and cores. I had some good old fashioned wine sap apples and the peels made the jelly pink. It was just lovely.
Judy There is a lot of debate about glass jars. Everything I've read (and that's been through years and years of canning experience dating back to my teens) has said to use proper canning jars and not salvaged jars. Part of that thinking is that some jars are not tempered for heating. Part of it is that nicks in the rim will prevent a proper seal. That said, I knew people way back when who were re-using their pickle, mustard, mayo jars to make jelly and can vegetables and no one ever ever died of ptomaine poisoning or had a jar break while canning. HOWEVER it is recommended that you use standard made just for that purpose canning jars. And if you are using older jars you should always check carefully for nicks along the rim.
I have not always used water bath method of canning jelly. I have used paraffin to seal and never had any jelly go bad with that method. I don't know if the water bath just helped seal the jar or helped the Sure Jell finish working so that it jelled better.
Susie, John was diagnosed with Hashimoto's disease a bit over a year ago now. One thing the doctor told him was to steer away from high fructose corn syrup. Fortunately many products at Aldi are now free. Not all of them, but most of them. I love that they have moved in that direction with their foods. That said, HFCS is in so many things! We bought some microwaveable soup for John this past weekend at his request (for work lunch) and guess what's in it? HFCS. I figure it won't hurt him to have that soup once or twice but still... READ the labels.
I never thought much about HCFS but after reading that diabetes was an inflammatory disease that might be related to food allergies, I thought it interesting when my mom, for the first time I ever recall mentioned I was allergic to the corn syrup they used in preparing my formula when I was a baby. Hmmmm... I have found I feel much better avoiding the majority of products that contain that product and find my blood sugars easier to control, too. UPDATE: Diabetes 1 is believed to relate to allergies but Diabetes II often relates to an autoimmune disease which causes inflammation in the body.
Sarah, I think John's thoughts about building up the pantry center around the fact that he is planning to start the retirement process in a year or so. He feels if we have the pantry well stocked and then maintain it we'll fare better during retirement years than if we waited to build it up much later. No rumblings or warnings or intuitions...Just thinking of our future needs.
I had a very inexpensive dehydrator at one time and I found it difficult to use. I know there are better ones on the market. I believe Patsi uses a dehydrator often and I know Dawn does as well. Granny used to dry her apples and peaches on window screens covered in the sunny back yard during summers. She'd cover the fruit with flour sacking to keep the flies off it and she never had any of her fruit mold. I could also utilize my gas oven to dry things I think. It's something I shall have to look into further in the future. Right now my focus is going to be on canning, I think...even in small batches.
And for all of you interested in canning, Sarah shared this: Some glass jars will work for canning but only water bath canning. But only if you can get the flats and rings fit on them as if they were made for each other. Only ever use the official canning jars in a pressure canner. If you want to just make jelly and put it in the fridge to use you can use any jar and lid.
Rhonda, I agree I was disappointed in the Aldi canned pineapple, as well. I prefer Dole or DelMonte. In these instances the 'brand' really does matter. I also find the Publix brand is very good. I look for any of those on sale and purchase them when I can.
Christmas Cheer Lana I was unsure what a Cuisinart multi-cooker was, so I looked it up. That seems like a pretty cool appliance to have. I'm glad you're enjoying your Christmas gift to you.
Veronika I have a cleaning routine that I tend to follow. I try hard to avoid the big heavy duty seasonal turning out of house and home and instead play the turtle and do things slowly and steadily all year round. I tried to look up that post here on the blog but we've got heavy rain and the internet isn't cooperating very well. I have a weekly routine that I follow and I incorporate deeper cleaning in whatever my zone is that particular week. I just haven't done a thing of late because we deep cleaned hard in October when we were shifting furniture about in every room in the house. My routine this past week was simply to go into each room, pick up and straighten, dust/vacuum/sweep, etc. That seemed to be enough to carry the house on into the New Year with just a few cupboards and drawers being turned out and organized. It didn't even take the full week.
Christie Hogan I think many of us frugal folks tend to tighten things down in January, a natural response to the holidays which do cost a little more even for those of us who are careful and thoughtful in our spending. Even though I am naturally frugal, I've signed up with Mrs. FrugalWoods for her Uber Frugal Challenge. I figured it is like another mini boot camp exercise. I'm looking forward though I'll readily admit I'm behind already!
Lana please let us know all about the Lidl grocery when it's up and going. I'm curious if we'll see any of those move into our area? Bess has to drive 120 miles to get to the nearest Aldi (Jacksonville) which is hard to think is necessary when so many have gone up. They don't even have one in Savannah which is about 60 minutes away I think.
Christine I think that $4.95 is the standard fee for most gift cards. It seems a lot of money to pay for a bit of plastic, I agree. BUT they are very handy to have when traveling and prevents the need to use a debit card at a strange pump. However, because of the fees on the gift cards, this year when we gifted the children we gave the ones who came to visit CASH which has no fee attached, lol.
Debbie in KS Are you familiar with Mediumsizedfamily? They did the very same sort of spending challenge you're talking about in 2016. She wanted to pay off a debt that was draining their budget so they referred to 2016 as The Year of NO for optional spending. She didn't quite make her goal but did manage to pay off her van and 81% of the debt they were focused upon which I think is a successful year.
Debbie in the U.P. Nope! I wouldn't give out my social security number either and I've never ever been asked for it! I'm not sure just what that was all about, but you acted wisely.
2017 budget Lana please excuse my sarcasm here: What is an annual raise? Lol! Too often we don't get one of those with the small county John works for so no great worry we'll have to adjust ourselves for that!
Juhli Thank you for commenting. I do the first draft at the end of each year and then set it up for Jan-Mar. I generally will draft a new budget come end of March based on the figures I gather during Jan-March and that will be my budget for the next quarter. It helps when prices are constantly increasing or additions are made to a budget to have a more current view. I just got notice cable bill is about to increase by $4. Not a budget killer, but if enough raise their prices by $4 it can be!
Debbie in KS Our car insurance offers a discount if you pay in full for the six months. It's a substantial savings and while it's convenient to pay in monthly installments I know that for this bill at least I can easily raise the money to pay the six months in full and use that 'payment' to build other balances in sub accounts. I would very much like to do the same with the house insurance but that's considerably more to have to save up! The savings there is not as great but it would still mean a looser belt on the finances for us.
Cusp of Christmas Kathy I highly recommend that Cheesy Chicken casserole! It was really good and the leftovers were even better.
I bought a water bath canner to use for jellies and tomatoes and pickles and such. I will add the pressure canner to my arsenal later on down the road. I haven't used a pressure cooker in years upon years of any sort. I blew the lid off several of mine in the long ago past but never had any trouble with the pressure canner. I DO have a pressure cooker I've never used. I must either sell it this year or learn to use it. I'm leaning towards learning to use it...Eek!
We never did see many of our favorite Christmas movies this year. Because of that, John has asked me to make out a list of our favorites and we will buy one each month on DVD so that next year we'll have them to choose from. I think I'll do gather them together in the notebook like Lana mentions her husband does. Then they will be altogether and we can choose as we like.
And I agree Lana that there is a great satisfaction in filled canning jars lined up neat and nice on a towel as you wait for those tell tale pings.
Mabel Hastings I really enjoy Miss Read's quiet peaceful way of writing. I shall look for Rebecca Shaw books. I lean hard towards English authors as favorites: Miss Read, Elizabeth Goudge, Doroty Evelyn Smith, D.E. Stevenson, Margery Sharp, Elizabeth Cantrell.
Mabel also shares some canning advice: Did you know that the latest recommendation from Ball is that if you are processing your food for 10 minutes or more, you do not need to sterilize the jars before you fill them? Obviously they still need to be clean but it saves the step of fumbling around with hot empty jars.
No, I didn't know this information and it wasn't in the Sure Jell information either. I did sterilize but to skip that step would be awesome. I have heard that if they've been washed in a dishwasher it eliminates the step of sterilizing but I didn't trust that bit of information. It really does depend upon the water temperature and the quality of the dishwasher.
Sarah adds this: Any pot that is high enough so that there is at least 1" of water at all times is over the canning lids when cooking is ok to use for a water bath canner. You do need a towel or something on the bottom as jars should not sit right on the bottom. Also watch they do not clink together when processing if just using a towel on the bottom and they are not sitting on a rack like in a water bath canner. I know you now do have a canner.
I didn't have the half pint jars to use or I'd have been home free. All I had on hand were pint jars so the water never quite covered them in my pot but they all sealed just fine and were plenty hot as my fingertips could attest.
Sarah also shared her favorite no knead bread recipe. There is a YouTube version for those of you who prefer to see how things are done.
Jennifer from Ohio I have all the Jan Karon books. I LOVE those books, too!
Karla I have a small collection of Nancy Drew books. I love those little books because I can usually finish one in an afternoon...and I never do quite figure out the mystery. They are really well written little books. The wonderful thing is that you can always rebuild your collection if you've hard regrets about letting them go.
I suggest you try using a serrated knife for slicing bread. And be sure it is thoroughly cool. If it's a little warm it will tend to clump up and not slice nicely. Use as light a touch as you can and still cut too and do use a sawing motion. You should find it slices very nicely.
Food for thought I seem to have given the impression I was seeking advice when I ended this post and certainly you all gave me some good advice. I was really, though, asking myself questions about my current perceptions about food. My first experience of life with a pantry was many years ago during my first marriage. My husband saw called up to serve in the Gulf War and for one reason and another I had NO money except my earnings and three months of past due bills and over $1000 in bounced check fees...Not a pretty scenario. When he returned six weeks later we'd survived on my salary. The checks were covered, the bills all paid up to date except the two that had to be refinanced to an active duty interest rate and most of the money to cover those two bills were in the bank. I hadn't purchased but one take out meal during the entire six weeks he was gone. We lived off the pantry and freezer those six weeks and both were bare after that but I was impressed with how it had carried us.
But it was Dale's situation. Losing her house meant she lost her pantry and freezer...and what if that happened? What if we had to move 3000 miles as Sarah did and start afresh? I was just reading earlier today that one young woman was moving and couldn't move anything liquid in cans. She's eating down her pantry so there's no waste at moving time. She'll have to start fresh when she arrives at her new home. What if my income were limited and starting afresh wasn't possible? All these thoughts were swirling in my mind as I wrote this post. And that led to my Eat Cheap series that I've just started. Once a month for several months this year I'll offer myself a challenge to see how I'd make out on a limited budget. The one for January is tough. $20 for 1 week to feed two. I figured out a menu plan but it's a stringent one! Check out the blog this week and early next to see how it worked out and what my take on it was.
I won't name everyone who commented on this post but I encourage ALL of you to click on the link and read the comments. There's good advice there! I like what Gramma D said in her comment: Somethings are not cheaper homemade. If we only want a one time serving we generally buy one serving items for the convenience, rather than having a lot of leftovers. The freezer is my friend and i have reusable containers which i use for one serving.
Rose in the UK shared this link: http://www.thriftylesley.com/meal-plans/
And for those of you wracking your brains about the tea bag skit I believe I saw both Lucille Ball and Red Skelton perform it at different times. I couldn't decide who had done it and so I didn't mention names!
Merrily to Christmas Day I mention the oranges spoiling. Sarah suggested calling the store and talking to the manager. I've done this with other groceries, but these were purchased at Aldi. You won't find a phone number for Aldi anywhere! When I had the trouble with my debit card and a computer glitch (charged twice for the same transaction) I had a devil of a time getting a number to the corporate offices to find out how to handle this. Their press reads that not having a phone on premises was part of their 'cost savings'. Humph. I will talk to one of the managers when I go in this week and see if they will replace the bag for free. They are generally very good about this. In the end three of the five in the bag rotted.
I have no problems overall with produce at Aldi but I have noticed a tendency with potatoes and citrus that there are sometimes the aroma of spoiled items. I carefully look things over before buying those items USUALLY. I missed a busted mandarin this last time and the beginning bad spot on the first orange.
I have noticed that when there is a spoiled item in either potatoes or citrus it will spread like a cancer to all others in the bag. I've found that the moment I catch a spoiled item, especially one that has emitted juices, to wash all the produce in that bag and let them dry most thoroughly before putting them away again.
Pins I Actually Tried Kathy asked if I froze oranges. I do. I usually pare and section mine but on The Kitchen on Foodnetwork the chefs said to freeze oranges, lemons and limes whole, zest before they thaw and then peel and use. I have not tried this. You can always try the mandarins in a jar in the fridge and see how that works. I can't imagine it would be any different than lemons or limes.
Karla I used a refrigerator freezer for food for seven at one point and I found that the flatter the package, the better. I could fit meat and ice cream and ice trays and extra milk in my freezer at that time! lol
Sweet Sixteen Coffee Chat Pam I remind myself frequently that the train wreck we see coming is not mine to control. It's not easy but as I said to John this week: Our hand is not on throttle or brake. We are outside watching and we know it's coming and all we can do is pray that the damage for our loved one is something that can be survived. It's hard but our prayer life is all we have control over.
Susan in SC I'd feed those two boys and let them dig away at the lantana...and the rose bushes that want to root in at the foundation of the house and the forsythia that needs to be moved...I could use some teenage muscle around here!
Use It Up This post generated the second most comments...Obviously I have tapped into the collective consciousness when so many agree that this is a challenge they need! lol I'm glad so many of you are on board with this challenge. I mentioned looking into cupboards and cabinets and food storage but I hadn't even thought about my fabric stash...Hmmm...definitely a need to use some of hat up too because the longer fabric is stored the greater the chance of disintegration. I'll have to look into this and plan accordingly.