Showing posts from March, 2017

Frugal Friday: SPROING!

Friday:  I lost track of time on Friday and didn't get to do my usual end post for last week.  I wish I could tell you now why I was so busy, but I can't.  I wasn't spring cleaning at the time...Oh yes, I recall now how I spent that day!

I packed John's work lunch and made him breakfast.  Sent him off to work with a cup of coffee.

I worked on Swagbucks until 7am.  I opted to do a survey that pays out later.  I have to test a product and complete the follow-up survey.   I've done this sort of thing for other survey groups and there IS a free product for me in it. 

I did some light routine housework and then ran a full load of dishes.

I wrote out checks for bills on Harvest Day next week and balanced the checkbook.

I set aside 1/3 of the money needed to pay the car insurance again in July.  Two more pay periods and this sub-account will be full.  Then I'll begin on the house insurance sub-fund!

I washed a load of clothes at John's request and hung most of th…

April Challenge, Seasonal Foods List and Pretty Things

Isn't April just grand?  It's so pretty.  It has a holiday smack dab in the middle.  That means that more than likely there will be family coming to visit.  Did I mention how pretty it is?  Oh family coming to visit...that means a little bit of extra work doesn't it?  I think we're all agreed it's happy sort of work, planning and preparing for family visits.
I have a few different things to share this month with you.  I'm down to cleaning the kitchen for spring.  I purposely procrastinated at the end of March and saved this room for April because of Passover cleaning.  It just made good sense to do it at the end, though I'd planned to start with it back in March. 
I've tidied the pantry and freezer and checked the food cupboards and they are all looking nice and neat.  It's just the ticky sort of cleaning that is required now: under the appliances and inside them, too (toaster, stove, microwave).  I'll wipe out the drawer of the island, as wel…

$68 A Month

I had hoped back in November to pay off our house insurance in full and not have to pay that monthly amount.  I'd discovered in my figuring that I could save a decent amount of money by paying it off early.  Try as I might, I just couldn't manage it. There was no overtime to be had and no extra room for stretching dollars to reach that big goal.   However, what I did save, I decided to set aside to pay the next six months of car insurance.  I thought maybe I could take that small amount of savings each month and use it to pre-pay some of our sub-accounts each month.

I'd never have believed that this could work as well as it has!  In paying off that car insurance early, I was able to save $68 a month.  In turn that $68 a month has built exponentially into an even bigger savings of nearly $162 a month thus far and it has potential to grow into even more. 

1st Quarter Review for 2017

While March isn't quite ended, I feel it's close enough I can review my first quarter of this year.  I'll be working on our budget for the second quarter today.  I've felt rather prosperous this new year on many scores.  I think part of it has been the number of things I've managed to do this year.

Budget meal plans:  I've had three challenges, one for each month of the quarter.  My first was to feed the two of us three meals a day on $20.  I did put together a grocery list with real prices for my area, real menu plans which we followed with some additions to accommodate my diet.  I learned that if the world turned topsy turvy, we could eat on a very tight budget.

I found planning a little easier with the $27 and $30 week budgets I worked up for February and March.  It really restored my confidence in my ability to manage on a dime, too.

Meatless Meals:  I'd pretty much given up meatless meals because they tend to be higher in carbs and therefore more diffic…

Spring Cleaning - Execution

I am nearly done with the Spring cleaning.   I have just the laundry/back entry and the kitchen to tend to. I must say that while I felt I'd done rather well overall with my cleaning, I've noticed there are some things I ignored.  This made me stop and think how much more helpful if I'd had a list of all that needed to be done in my deeper cleaning.  I will be looking for some more detailed lists.

I thought perhaps you all might find it helpful to know what I found to be most helpful this season.

1.  Remove cloth layers first.  Curtains, sheers, shades, spreads, quilts, sheets, dresser cloths, tablecloths, pillows, doilies, runners, etc.  In my work in the living room and bedroom I found it helpful to first strip those things I wanted to wash.  I stripped slipcovers from chairs and pillow covers.  In the bedrooms I stripped the beds.  In the bath, rugs, towels and shower curtains.  My first task for each room was to immediately start a load of laundry.  I ran laundry loads…

This Week In My Home: Busy as a Bee

This week in my home...

...I lost my way last week.  This week I'm renewing my purpose: get my home and yard spring ready.  The yard doesn't require much from me so that's not the big thing.  I want to finish off the spring cleaning indoors so I can make my way outdoors to the porch and patio next.  I need to do some things to the main living/dining room and work on the kitchen a bit more.  Not so a hard task to say it like that, but it's coming nearer the Passover mark which means the kitchen really must be deep cleaned.  I think subconsciously I put it off because I realized it was near and I wanted this task done nearer the end of spring cleaning. 
Why did I lose my way last week?  I went out to rake leaves and pick up limbs one day and then had a nosebleed which made John command me to stay indoors out of the pollen, sigh.  This happened last year and the year before too, and it's really an old story but every time I have a nose bleed he worries.  It's easi…

Frugal Friday: A New Savings Season

Saturday:  We'd planned to go and had to cancel several times, but there was no stopping us today!  We went off to visit Katie and family.  Of course, Gramma was excited to see Taylor who is very much a toddler GIRL now and hardly a baby anymore.  Just look at the picture her Mama took early last week:

I had a bag of things to take with me to Katie.  I keep a shopping bag ready for her and Bess both.  (I do boxes for Amie and Virginia).  In that bag went things I'd decided to no longer use here or which I knew she'd like and bought especially for her and her family.  This time I brought along the rugs I'd had in the kitchen but didn't like with the new flooring.  Katie said she had just the spot for them.

I packed supper to be eaten on the drive home.  This included sandwiches, fruit, water and chocolate.  It was a lovely ride home, because we were filled up to the top with happy after our nice visit.

Before we left home we turned off the ceiling fans and lowered t…

Life Savors

Orchids re-blooming.  Above is the white one.  The purple one Bess and Sam gave me for Christmas re-bloomed yesterday.
Snuggling in bed on a cool night.
Hot coffee, Bible study and sunshine in my special corner.
Reading over old notes and realizing that long ago hurts have healed.
A date with my husband.
Strolling through the big antiques mall, waiting to find my treasure.
Found treasure.  Three vintage women's magazines from 1943, a lovely tin tea caddy, another Tole tray to add to my growing collection.
The agony and ecstasy of finishing a good book.

Ten Tips For Decorating on A Budget

You all know, I've just finished 'refreshing' my home, giving it a little face lift for  spring and summer.  What you might not know is that I've been doing this exact same thing for years upon years.  My home is always evolving.  I do this on a strict budget.  There are no $100 room makeovers or big renovation projects or even new furniture purchases for us except once in a great while.  More of the pieces in my home were bought or given to me as second hand pieces than were ever bought new. 

In the early days after moving here, John and I bought three sofas.  Within two years, each of them was trashed.  Not because we were careless but they were so poor quality and inexpensive.  The only other pieces of furniture we've bought are our dining table (the chairs fell to pieces within 3 years but the table holds up), two chairs that are still in current use in our living room and an entertainment center that we bought on sale at Kmart 20 years ago that we altered an…

Coffee Chat: Spring Has Sprung

Come on in and let's talk a bit.  Choose your favorite cup from the cupboard, fill it up with coffee and settle here in this comfy chair.  I'm ready to chatter away.  Are you?

Spring has sprung
The grass has riz
Wonder where
The flowers is.

They are no where
to be found
Cause they're

Soon the heavy
Rains will pour
That will make
The flowers soar....

And from there memory dies. 

53 years ago, Mama stepped into a welder's shop in Ft. Valley and bought an old Tiger Striped oak upright piano.  It was her dream that I'd learn to play piano.  The huge old piano came to the house with a flat topped bench seat which had a compartment under the seat for music books.  Fortunately for me, some of those old music books lurked inside, all nice primers for beginners.  Daddy wrote the corresponding alphabet letter above each note on the pages, then wrote them in pencil on the ivory keys, and showed me where middle C was.  He explained that everything on the bott…

Posts From the Past: I Want a Divorce!

reposted from Penny Ann Poundwise, March 19, 2008

I Want A Divorce! Oh horrors!  Those have to be the most awful words ever spoken in any relationship.  (John) and I promised we'd never use them during a fight and to this day we've both honored that vow.  But I have used them during this marriage.  I used those awful words one day when working on my budget during my ever increasing battle with personal finances.

You see,  I'd never really learned to handle money.  Money was the source of a great deal of worry, pain and fear. Would there be enough to cover bills?  If bills were paid would it stretch to cover groceries?  Clothing needs?  Would unexpected expenses arise?  Would I make a fatal error in the totting up of the checkbook?  Would I be forever robbing Peter to pay Paul?

I want to share with you how I came to the point of screaming "I want a divorce!" at money.  One of my first memories in life: men coming into our home to carry out our belonging…

In My Home This Week: A New Season Awaits

In my home this week...'s Springtime at last.  No matter what the weather acts like (seasonal in our case) or what we feel like, the calendar assures us it is a new season.    We've passed our last frost date.  Now it is safe to plant for those who care to believe the weather will be true hearted.
We've had a busy week behind us, one that was both pleasurable and a little stressful. John worked extra hours and because he was at work more than usual, I was busier than usual in my home.  I did spring cleaning in our bedroom and bath and closet.   I turned out the small guest bath and freshened it up after.  I'd like artwork to go in that room but haven't a clue just yet what I'd like.  I cleared and cleaned up the guest room aka sewing/craft area at least three times this past week.  I think I can most assuredly call it spring cleaned, too, since we just dismantled it all the first week of February. 

I did the usual household things and bought groceries and…

Spring Fresh II

I wanted to share a few more photos of things about my home.  I used money earned from the blog to purchase new rugs for our bathroom and the kitchen.   I really like the kitchen rug.  I bought a matching rug to go under the desk and chair.  This room has taken on a feminine air of late.  I think it's because of the toile covered desk chair and plants. 

Frugal Friday: Savings Spring Up

Saturday:  I don't know if any of you follow the blog SimpleIsGood4U or not.  She has a small following at present.  I found her via Prudent Homemaker's frugal savings comments (where a lot of good frugal folks and bloggers report their weekly savings).  This week one of her posts was this quote:

If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way." ~ Napoleon Hill  I must say I think that's a mighty good quote and it fits right along side my own favorite quote of "Start where you are. Use what you have.  Do what you can."  I'll gather my inspiration where I can and this quote Mariana shared does it for me!

Food stayed simple today.  While I was tempted to take something else from the freezer there was plenty of that chicken in the fridge. I reheated the legs and wings and cooked green beans and potatoes.  We had a slice of cake to follow.  It was good.  It filled us up.

Noted that butter is awfully low in my food stock just now.  Well it ought …

Today's Life Savors

Bluebirds flying across the yard.

A kitty cat purring happily.

Wisteria winding in the branches of a blooming red bud tree.

Winter cold air mixed with wood smoke and the scent of Wisteria.

Bunches of cut daffodils, looking like buckets of sunshine on this cloudy morning.

The long cut home.

Taking my time to just look in a store where I'm usually hurried.

A warm wool coat and scarf and feeling quite comfortable wearing them both.

Real peppermint tea.

Another area cleaned for spring.

Hot coffee on a chilly evening.

Be sure to read the comments...Others have shared their Life Savors too!

March Challenge: Eating on a Tight Budget : Tortilla Factory

For this challenge, I determined I'd learn to make tortillas.  I used the recipe here.  I thought it sounded pretty easy.  I'd been wanting to try to make homemade tortillas for quite a long while but kept putting it off.  This challenge presented the perfect opportunity to try something new.

John has decided he quite likes whole wheat tortillas.  We've been buying two packs of them each pay period.  He prefers a tortilla over sliced bread most days.  The only brands I can buy all have yeast in them, for no reason I can fathom.  I knew during Passover we'd want an alternative for this bread. 

I had whole wheat flour on hand and substituted for 1/3 of the all purpose flour this recipe required.  I increased the water slightly.  Too much as it turned out.  I ended up having to add an extra cup of flour to bring the dough up to the ball stage.  It was a very soft ball stage.  And I forgot to take pictures of this step.

Seasonal Cleaning Primer

I said I wouldn't do seasonal cleaning any longer but after last fall's clearing out of rooms to accommodate new flooring and then putting it all back, it made for a big fall cleaning as you can imagine.  Unfortunately, I rested on my .... erhm....laurels and didn't continue to do deep cleaning after that big move.   Guess what?  It's SPRING now and I'm months behind on cleaning.  It's either a big seasonal cleaning and then begin the monthly deep clean routine afresh or simply let it all sit here as it is and do the monthly stuff.

I feel like I need a fresh start.  So it's a deep seasonal clean for me this Spring.

So I'd planned to start this week cleaning the kitchen.  I will do some of the tasks mentioned in that area this week,  but yesterday morning as I stood in the bathroom thinking it needed just a quick wipe down, I noted dust on the wainscoting molding.  " Might as well..."  I swear those are dangerous words to hear echo across my …

This Week In My Home: Pollen Chronicles

In my home this week...

...pollen has begun to fly outdoors.  That means no hanging laundry outdoors.  It means carefully wiping off seats before we stop to rest.  It means hand washing if we go outdoors and if we spend any time at all out there we come in and shower.  It means no painting projects.  And of course, it's along about right now that I'm itching to have a brush in hand or to feel a spray paint can trigger give under the pressure of my finger.  It's now I am ready to hang quilts and curtains and pillows to air and freshen.  Not gonna happen!
So, mostly I shall focus myself indoors.  There's plenty to be done.  I seem to have finally shaken the malaise that grasped me the past few weeks.  I spent Saturday resting, listening to sermons and grabbing all the little inspired ideas that floated through my brain and jotted them down on a sheet of paper that I marked boldly "INSPIRED" just to remind myself that inspiration does still float.  I just have to…

Eating on a Tight Budget: $35/Week Diary

Day One:  I have a day out with Mama this week.   It is her turn to buy dinner today. This is going to extend my challenge week considerably since John will already be working two days of this week.  I expect to treat this as a seven day challenge and I'll just have a few more leftovers than I'd planned, but I'll only count those we'd actually have had left if I'd followed this to the letter every single day for 7 days.  It seems my plans for challenge weeks and the plans made around me never gel up just so.  Onward!

Roasted the chicken.  Cooked just enough rice for this meal (1/2 cup dry brown rice makes up 1 cup cooked rice) and cooked the turnip greens which was an ample serving each.  I can eat all the turnip greens I'd like, since they are low carb and because I don't cook any fat meat in them (as most Southerners do), they are also low fat. 

I made chicken gravy from the pan juices.  Can I just say that I'd forgotten how very delicious REAL chick…

Coffee Chat: Cobwebs

Hello dear.  Do come in!  It's a bit warm outdoors isn't it?  Hard to believe that I woke shivering under the covers this morning at 6:15am because it was cold. Yesterday morning it was frosty outdoors and beyond chilly indoors.  Brrr!  By noontime, the AC was on and I was glad of it.   Today the AC hasn't yet come on.  The wind out there is a bit brisk, but the sky is blue as can be and the sun shining like nobody's business.  You'd never know we had a random rainstorm at 5 this morning. I told John tis crazy weather when you must use both heat and AC within a few hours of one another, and have no idea if you need a jacket, sunscreen or an umbrella.

So take your choice...Coffee?  Iced Tea? 

I've been having a bit of a struggle of late.  I mean to write, I want to write but when I come in and sit down the pages stare blankly back at me.  I think, truly I've spent so much of my spare time focusing upon the challenge meals that I haven't a thought for …

Frugal Friday: Spring Things

Saturday:  Last night I gave myself a manicure and pedicure.  It took just minutes.

We had breakfast at home this morning before hitting the road.  We do usually like to have breakfast out but with a second family trip planned this month, it seems wise to save our extra cash for the extra gasoline usage.  So here at home we had our coffee and a quick breakfast. 

We turned off fans and turned down the heat before we left home.

I took along snacks for any unexpected blood sugar lows.  I also carried along water bottles that I'd filled here at home.

At John's request I packed sandwiches for our supper on the way home. 

We took food with us.  The last thing I wanted Bess or Sam to do today was have to prepare a big meal.  I'm glad we took that food along as they had weekend guests and our simple lunch basket was a small labor savings for them.  Their guests had gone out before we arrived and we left before their return which meant they had a quiet space.

We stopped and fille…

Spring Fresh

When the daffodils bloom along the roadsides,  I want very much to have spring come indoors, as well.  Even if I have freshened the house recently in shifting furniture about when we got new flooring, I wanted something to be different here in the house. 

It's been especially difficult this season to make that something fresh happen because I'm practically out of ideas and I have very little wiggle room in my personal budget for any decorating.  I poured my Christmas money (as did John) into carpeting the two back bedrooms.   I very much wanted rugs for the kitchen.  I wanted new doormats and new rugs for the bathroom.  I stretched the earnings from ads and bought three rugs: one for the kitchen in front of the sink, one for the back porch entry door and one bathmat.  I cashed in a $15 Pinecone Rewards and found two bath rugs.   After that it was very much  'use what you have'.

And just as fair warning, there's a whole lot of almost nothing ahead, lol.

Eating On A Tight Budget: March Challenge Menus

Just a quick reminder of the leftovers I had after last challenge I can manage all breakfasts for this week and two supper entrees without touching our newly purchased items.  I have placed the full canister of oatmeal I purchased this week on my larder shelf.  It's a true beginning on my pantry.

I started my week making a recipe of bread (2 loaves) and 1 batch of biscuits.*  My plans fail already.  I can make bread or I can make biscuits and tortillas right away and then make bread during the week.  I need six cups flour for the bread.  I have about six cups left.  I'll make both bread and biscuits just not all from the leftovers.  So for breakfasts we will have oatmeal three mornings, peanut butter toast three mornings and eggs and biscuits one morning.  We have a few leftover biscuits.  Honestly these would do for snacks.  In long past days, I used to serve leftover biscuits as  dessert.  The kids ate all they wanted with jelly.  As a diabetic, I could still eat one as a s…

In My Home This Week: Spring In My Steps

In my home this week...
Well, we haven't gotten quite as busy as these folks but we each have been working a little towards sprucing the place up a tiny bit.  I've bigger plans than I've had time or money for at present but that usually all works out eventually.

March being the split personality that it is, we had a humid quite warm day March 1, then the wind roared, we go a bit of rain and it turned off cold.  We've had two frosty mornings back to back now.  Oddly, John had just asked me on Thursday to look up the last frost date.  April it said, and never ever any sooner than March 15.  Well, here's proof that some folks do know just what they are talking about. 
I've been trying to add a little spring freshness to the indoors.  So far that has involved rearranging pictures and painting frames fresh, creating a new little something here from a lot of old things...but it's not quite come together just yet. I was just contemplating possibly moving all the q…

Frugal Friday: Savings At Home

I'm afraid the blooms came and went rather quickly this year, but I've no regrets at spending the money on these bulbs!

Saturday:  John left a sizeable portion of roast beef uneaten this week.  I had a few potatoes that were sprouting pretty quickly.  I trimmed them well.  Thawed the beef juices I'd cooked the roast in and then made a lovely pot of roast beef hash.  We're rather low on groceries overall at the moment so I opened a can of green beans and sliced oranges.  It felt a little bit like a challenge menu, lol, but it was good and it filled us up.
I made chicken salad from about 1 1/2 cups of the chicken I pulled from the carcasses I boiled yesterday.  I'm sorry to say that the rotisserie chicken that was strongly herbal was still strongly herbal but it was masked well enough in the salad. I made enough for sandwiches two times more.
I took a nap, lying down on the bed in a pool of sunshine.  On a cooler, blustery day, I felt much like a cat with all that lov…

Eating On a Tight Budget: March 2017 Challenge

I've waffled about which challenge I'd choose this time around.  I've looked over the notes I made previously in late December.  Do I attempt a 2 week challenge at this point?  Continue gently amping up the budget and continue along the one week route?  Do I continue planning to shop from my usual stores or plan only from the local store or just one store?  Oh lots of questions...and lots of future challenge possibilities!

So far, I've not been able to fully eat as planned due to not getting the right balance for a diabetic diet.  I love the investigative parts and am enjoying eating entrees or some of the side dishes, but my ultimate goal is to find the sweet spot, the place where budget and menu culminate in a balanced diabetic meal plan at a low cost.  That's what my goal is.  I won't compromise my health for the sake of a challenge, but it is good to know that if it were necessary  I could feed us.  One week of a super budget diet wouldn't be so horrib…