Frugal Friday: In Bloom

Saturday:  We were up early this morning and left the house early, too.  This is not our typical Shabat day.  We headed to the Pawn Shop Sidewalk Sale.  John has wanted to go for years but was never able to attend for one reason and another.  I heard the television ad Tuesday and told John about it. 

So off we went Saturday morning which was a beautiful cool sort of morning.  We had to park about a block away.  I'd no idea this was such a huge big deal but it apparently IS.  We bought a pair of gardening gloves, another old saw (John bought two at the antiques mall just a week ago), a few really good tools.  I found a 5 ft. tall windmill to put in one of my flower beds.  We also bought an army cot which is for the grandchildren.  I could put two toddlers on the cot or 1 bigger grand child.  I was planning to buy a child sized cot but the idea of having them outgrow it didn't appeal to me.  We'll look for more but at least now I have one. 

We came home and I made dinner here.  We bought a steak at Aldi on Friday.  I've been experimenting with the Aldi beef.  I really do like the butcher shop meat and The Fresh Market meats but the cost is really prohibitive on any cut but hamburger and chicken breasts.  Bess had told me how much she likes the Chuck Roast.  I tried one a few weeks ago and was impressed with it's tenderness and how tasty it was.  I'd like to have had a larger one but they just don't package them any larger.  So this week we bought the sirloin steak and a rump roast.  The sirloin weighted 1 3/4pounds.  That's big enough for four servings for us.  I cut the steak and put half in the freezer and cooked half.  It was really tender, surprisingly so, in my opinion. 

I admit a prejudice against cryopacked meats.  I just don't like the way they look.  I guess I need to get over it because I can't complain over the Aldi beef products at all.  It looks like we're cutting another big category in our spending and that's okay, as it means that my grocery budget really is dropping.  In the past I'd set aside $50 a month just for the butcher store meats.  Then it was $50 for meats from The Fresh Market and Publix.  Now it's going to be The Fresh Market and Aldi. 

Made John's work meals for tomorrow.  Pre-packed the items that don't need to be cold.  Set up coffee to brew and oatmeal for in the morning.

Sunday:  Up early.  Made John breakfast, packed his lunch, filled his to go cup with coffee.

Finished filling the dishwasher and started a load to wash.  The machine was very full this morning. 
When the cycles stopped running, I got up and opened the door to allow the dishes to air dry.  That eliminated the switch continuing to move through the drying cycle which it does even if the machine is set on no heat.

Washed three very full loads of laundry this morning.  Two loads involved our bed pillows, the last task for Spring cleaning in the bedroom.  I partially dried the two foam core with feather surrounds in the dryer as they were very heavy and wet.  Then I took the partially dried pillows to the line and hung them in the sun and breeze.  Towels, sheets, a quilt, and two more foam pillows went straight to the line from the wash.

Moved all the viable pansies into two pots.  They filled space nicely in the top of the strawberry jar and in one other pail.  I watered them in and hopefully they will do well for another few weeks since the weather is still mild.  Picked up weeds and sticks and prunings from the trees that John has worked at.  He's mentioned several times that he didn't really want to do that job but this morning I realized he's not put it off due to lack of want to, he's been working so much he hasn't had time to.  There is a huge difference.  I didn't get quite finished with it, but I worked long enough at it this morning and it does look better for that portion of the yard at least.

I was out of one of the necessary supplements I take for Diabetes.  I'd noticed on my Amazon page that this item was offered.  I decided to check prices across several sources and stumbled upon a new to me site that had it for much less than I've paid in the past.  I was able to buy 6 bottles and spend HALF what I've paid in the past.  This will last me 36 weeks or about 9 months. 

Did housework when I came in, including cleaning under the stove top. Ugh.  I hadn't realized when I last made chocolate syrup that it had not only boiled over into the drip pan it boiled over into the area under the burner as well.  I put dish soap on the cooked on sugary mess and then laid a dishcloth soaked with hot water on top of that.  It loosed up enough to let elbow grease get the stubborn bits.  Now that's done.

Made myself lunch.  There were no leftovers and only pimento cheese for a sandwich.  I cooked a 5 ounce can of salmon, making patties.  That netted me three good sized patties.  I heated a can of beans that I dumped over a small diced potato.   I had enough of both salmon patties and beans and taters for lunch and supper.

I am trying to lose a little weight that I regained.  My goal is to just cut back a bit.  I fixed my plate for lunch, starting with the salad.  I filled half the plate with salad then measured out my potatoes and beans and served myself one salmon patty.  I found that wasn't quite enough but opted to have just 1/2 a salmon patty instead of full second helping.  This held me nicely until supper time, which was leftover salmon and beans and potatoes.

Monday:   I made a casserole for breakfast this morning, not my usual breakfast casserole, but one I saw on Pinterest, for Baked Cream Cheese French Toast Casserole.  It was really tasty.  Even halved, we had 2/3 of the pan left over so be forewarned.  It smelled amazing this morning, mixed in with the aroma of coffee brewing.  I just knew when John came in all that aroma would hit him square in the face when he opened the back door and I guess it did because he didn't waste much time getting himself changed and at the table.  This recipe used up a good bit of the bread end pieces from the freezer.  Yum!

I have been waking up extra early of late.  I don't know just why.  This morning I was up around 6am.  I don't mind this time of year being up so early.  I read my Bible, watched sunrise, puttered about the kitchen putting on coffee and getting the casserole dish in the oven. It was a very pleasant way to start the day.  It made prayer time especially easy this morning when the day begins in such a peaceful sort of way.

John washed a small load of clothes and hung most to dry.

I had a problem with the dryer yesterday which has happened in the past.  I think it's a user error and not the dryer's fault but I needed John to check it out this morning.  He assured me that all was well with it.

I've had a big plastic Rubbermaid trash can that's about 20 years old on the back porch to use as a sort of soil bucket for the past two years.  This morning, I realized that the trash can is just too badly broken to continue to use.  I needed something big and deep to put the soil from my pots into as I emptied them.  I looked about and spotted a seldom used trash can that we have tied to the carport support post.  I dragged it up on the porch and used that to dump all the pots into.

I purchase a good potting soil.  I've found that I can reuse it several seasons with good results, and that's why I as so keen to try and save it.  When I filled pots last year, I used broken up cardboard egg cartons in some of the pots.  In a few of the wire baskets, I lined them with an old burlap sack.  The egg cartons and the burlap broke down over the last year.  I just dumped that right into the trash can with the soil and mixed it in. 

I saved the largest pieces of burlap which were rotting but not yet fully broken down and lined the bottom of a pot that I planted with the herbs I bought the other day.

I stuck to menu today and made one of the meals I'd planned.  What I hadn't planned was that instead of a single breast in each packet, there were two...So I doubled up on the meat, doubled up on the corn and had enough cornbread for another meal as well.  I  think we've got a second meal coming from this dinner.

Remember my little thing of putting taco meat on the table and John helping himself to it and finishing it off even though it was more than we'd normally eat?  Yeah, me too.  I didn't announce what we were having for supper tonight.  I thawed the hot dogs just enough to take four from the package and put four back into the freezer.  If I cook a full package thinking I'll get two meals from it, John will have three hot dogs every single time.  If I cook four he knows he never eats more than two.

I don't think I mentioned it but a few weeks ago I picked up a quart bottle of buttermilk.  I like buttermilk but seldom buy it because it's pricey.  I realized that day I could buy the buttermilk, save a quarter  of a cup to use as starter and fill the bottle with whole milk to make a fresh batch.  That makes the buttermilk far less expensive.  I've just opened the bottle this week but plan to use two more times so I'll be culturing my own by the end of the week.

Tuesday:  John had requested my help in the yard work.  I took a frozen entrée from the freezer to make dinner prep easier.  When I finally dragged out of bed this morning at about 8:30am (I know!  It felt so good to sleep!), he'd already done all he wanted to do and only wanted me to make breakfast.  I put the entrée back in the freezer.

Kept breakfast simple since we were eating so late.

Washed a full load of dishes after we'd had dinner today.  I let them air dry.  I added a little water to the dishwasher liquid bottle to stretch out the last of it.  Much as you'd rinse out the last of the ketchup from the nearly empty bottle.

Made tuna pasta salad for our dinner.  I put a portion aside for John's work lunch tomorrow.  We've enough to feed two later in the week.

Went out on back porch and noted yesterday's wind had blown quite a few things about and soaked them with rain, too.

Split open one of the patio chair cushions so I can use it as a pattern to make the new coverings.

Made a chocolate sheet cake that I haven't made in years.  My reluctance is always that it makes a big pan of cake. I can't reasonably half the ingredients in this recipe so I went ahead and made the full recipe.  I cut half of and put in the freezer.  This left us with a smaller cake to eat, which is a good thing.  I'll likely take Mama enough for the three of them to have a piece each.

Put together 10 outfits to see me through the next two or three weeks.

Made a salad for supper tonight and served up the leftovers of our BBQ chicken dinner with it. 
It was easy as pie with the prepared salad toppings.  As we ate, I sat and thought up another batch of toppings I can make up and set aside for salads the rest of the week.

Cashed in Swagbucks today for a $25 gift card.

Set up coffee and oatmeal ready for morning.

Wednesday:  Warnings since Monday that today will be a worrisome weather day.  Already hearing rumblings of thunder at 6am prompted John to leave early.

I sent John off with breakfast in his tummy, hot coffee and packed lunch bag in his hands.

Removed all the stuff on the porch that might fly away in a steady hard breeze.

Mama cancelled our day out today because the weather is meant to be pretty rough, so I shall work here at home on various things.  I'd go out but with the threat of weather I'm not keen to do so.

It looks like definite changes to come on John's job.  The threat has been there repeatedly this year alone but the county is now bidding with other management groups to take over EMS.  I took stock of things this morning.  We're doing okay financially just now and I think I can pre-fund several more sub-accounts before we have any change.  I'd like to deepen my pantry and freezers, especially where meat is concerned.  I've seldom had as little meat in the freezer as I do just now.  I think I shall just set a little extra aside next pay period and concentrate on that area.

Cooked extra potatoes so I can make hash browns in the morning for John.

Set up another box of salad toppers and tore lettuce.  This means that come meal times, especially when I'm alone, I shall have no excuse for not making myself a salad.

John called and has taken two extra half shifts that were open.  This will affect the current pay period and the next.

Moved the pot of herbs up on the porch.  The tiny basil took quite a beating in the hard shower this morning.  I am hopeful they will fare better on the porch the rest of the day.

Mostly I end this day thankful. My family nor I suffered any damage in the stormy day.  There do not appear to be any fatalities from the tornados that did touch down in the areas north and south of us.  All is well and that's reason enough to give praise.

Thursday:  Planned the outfit I'll wear tonight.  It's called a banquet but tends to be pretty casual overall.  I'll wear jeans and a dressy top. 

Reheated the leftover Cream Cheese French Toast casserole and made hash browns (for John).  We shared an omelet, which is always economical because it takes fewer eggs and is easy to share.

John washed and hung out to dry a full load of clothes.  I expect to wash a full load of dishes before this day is over and will allow them to air dry.

Fed Maddie the same food she couldn't stomach yesterday.  She mightily dislikes storms and as it went on all day long yesterday she sheltered in the dog house and ventured out only for badly pressing needs, which didn't include food.   The cat is unbothered by these things. I even spied her walking about the yard during a routine sort of shower.

Thankful for texting which allowed me to check on the households north and south of us.  When I headed to bed last night there was a tornado just south of Bess and Sam and powerful storms going through Katie's area.  All is well.  I am grateful.

John printed out directions to the city where the banquet is being held.  We are out of black ink but the printer is programmed to 'mix' ink so it reads as black. 

It is much cooler today.  I expect we will have no need at all of air conditioner which will be a nice break for the electric bill.

Before we leave this afternoon (we have to arrive early-ish to claim a table as they no longer reserve them for those who've bought tickets) I will set up oatmeal and coffee for the morning and have Johns lunch items ready to pack tomorrow.

Made pizza from scratch.  I don't follow any recipe for the dough, but just mix it as I feel led that particular day, lol.  It's easy enough with water, flour, oil, salt, yeast and a smidge of sugar.  I used some artichoke hearts from the pantry as one of my toppings.  Not the whole bottle, just a few of them chopped up to add to the vegetables going on the pizza.

Friday:  We had a nice time at the banquet last night.  I'm happy to announce that John's county service won EMS Service of the Year Award!

He also won a very nice door prize of two Yeti tumblers and a Yeti Colster.  This was one of the 'small' prizes offered last night.

Packed John's lunch.  Made him a bagel for breakfast.  Filled one of his Yeti tumblers with coffee for a To Go cup.

This shift is an extra one and will bolster the check we get this pay period.

I have some shopping to do but I'm delaying it.  For one thing, it's the end of the pay period and I can wait until Monday when we're paid.  For another, I haven't made out a list yet.  I just have a mental list but my mental lists often leave off something necessary.  I have Sunday, Monday and Thursday of next week when I might go out.  I will definitely be out on Sunday for small group anyway and in town to see Mama one of the other two days.  It seems I might combine all my errands on one of those two days when I'll already be out and save the gasoline today.  It means postponing some things I'd wanted to do but it will be more efficient to wait on many more fronts.

There are plenty of leftovers to choose from today for both my dinner and supper.  No need to cook today but I will do some meal prep for tomorrow's meal.  I also want to make sandwich fillings for the coming week.

Used the microwave to steam sliced carrot, bake a potato, heat my dinner entrée and  water for my hot tea (brrr!  it's chilly indoors this afternoon!).  It took about 8 minutes total but that was perfect for me.  It gave me time to fill water bottles, prep the carrot and assemble my dinner plate, dessert and cutlery.  I even had time to pour a little milk into a container to put in my tea once it had steeped.

I made two of the four new cushion covers before dinner, including the ties and stuffing them with the pillow material.  I think in all, it took about an hour and a half to do those two from cutting to filling and sewing closed.   About three or four years ago I paid $60 for four cushions for the patio chairs. The fabric has just given in to the elements.  They were terribly faded last spring when I put them back out and the fabric just broke down over the summer.

 Last summer I paid $4 each for two indoor/outdoor tablecloths at Aldi.  I didn't use all of one of the tablecloths!  Just imagine...For less than $4 I have four new cushions.   I am able to reuse the inserts from the old cushions.  I'll  make a small tablecloth from what's left to go on the café table for an added bit of pattern/color on the back porch which is pretty awesome.  I used one of the old cushion covers both as a pattern and a sewing guide.  I found this incredibly easy.  Wanna see my after?

I'm going to call this day at an end.  I didn't sleep well last night as the broken toe decided to swell and throb after my day yesterday.  Fortunately there's a nap meant just for me here this afternoon. 

What did you do this week to save?


Lana said...

I have been making my own buttermilk for several months now and 1/4 cup will make a quart. It gets quite thick so I am thinking that a whole cup may make some sort of yogurt consistency.

Debby in KS said...

Firstly, GREAT job on the cushions! I love the cheerful pattern that screams summer. I took notes on it for when ours need redoing.

I also noted your soil bucket use. Great idea. I usually take the soil and spread it around the yard.

We're just coming into our yard work season. In fact, today will be the first mow of spring. We had a lot of rain last week so I'll be pulling weeds today. Much better when the soil is softer. It's going to be an Advil night! No matter how much I stretch, gardening manages to find muscles that I didn't know were there. And the first day after a long winter is always a humdinger.

Terri Cheney said...

Lana, I realized my mistake the other day but haven't corrected it in my post yet. Thank you for posting a reminder here!

Debbie, I chuckled over that muscles aching when gardening. I have found it to be true as I am increasingly more active and able that gardening is a whole other form of exercise, lol.

Anonymous said...

You are a veritable font of inspiration this morning always! Thank you!!!
I LOVE your cushions from the Aldi tablecloth. Sooo pretty and amazingly clever of you! Also, I am going to try your buttermilk suggestion as well...I do appreciate buttermilk based salad dressings and, like you, am reluctant to buy it due to cost. Of course, I've made the classic buttermilk substitute by adding a tablespoon or so of cider vinegar to regular works but I can still taste the vinegar in the recipes a bit. Also, you've inspired me to check the settings on our printer to see if they have a mix option as ours COMPLETELY shuts down when the black is low. Well, I am off to start my day!
I want to thank you again for your blog, Terri. It is such a bright spot for me.
P.S. When reading about your new diet, I was thinking you might want to look into psyllium HUSK capsules. They are very reasonable in cost and I've been taking one every morning with 8 ounces (or more) of water right when I get up (pre coffee) and sometimes in the late afternoon when I get hungry before supper. They are a natural fiber and I find they make me feel full and thus I often eat less. In fact I've lost 15+ pounds over the past year and I believe adding the psyllium has been a huge factor in that. These are the ones I buy which @ 2 capsules per day averages to under 7cents a day...but they do have a smaller size that are less.
The only caveat with these is you MUST up your water intake or they may become binding...they recommend 8 ounces per capsule but I often double that!

Rhonda said...

Good evening Terri, I just found some time to catch up with you.
I think you two will enjoy the Yetis. We have several and use them all the time. The keep drinks hot or cold all day, and I so appreciate they don't sweat, even on the most humid days.
I really your newly covered cushions. Your fabric is kind of retro looking, kind of modern looking, and pretty and happy. I expect you will really enjoy them.
We did a biggish shopping trip to Aldi today. We talked about going to the commissary but Aldi is much closer and I think we got just about the same quantity for price too.

Delorise said...

I got a Yeti tumbler at Christmas-wow it may rank in the top 10 gifts ever rec'd. I take it with me everywhere I travel - even just to town running errands. So handy and I don't have to worry about chemicals leaching in my water. I hit some thrift stores while out of town- got 25 cents books and 99 cents clothes. I just love thrift stores and Tifton has several so always a delight to go there. Thanks for the info on Aldi meats--I will have to check them out. Glad you had no damage from the storms, we were lucky also. I will keep ya'll in my prayers regarding the job situation. Have a great next week

Amy said...

I love reading your blog. It's so "homey" and relaxing, which is funny because you're so busy! I get a lot of ideas from you. I just wanted to send this note of encouragement for you to keep writing. You are appreciated.

Terri Cheney said...

Tracey, thank you for the info on the psyillium. I'll look into that.

Rhonda, I am slowing being won over to Aldi meats. I'd resisted but the price is slightly better than most grocery and so far we've liked all the beef we've tried.

Delorise, I noted just loads of thrift and 'antiques' sorts of stores in Columbus the other evening when we were in that area. I don't tend to think of Columbus as a shopping area for myself but it's really only a few miles/minutes further away (about 50 I think).

I think we're going to enjoy the Yeti cups a lot. John was really impressed with the way it kept his coffee hot and even went so far as to toss all his saved paper/styro cups that he'd used for coffee at work.

Amy, thank you so much. I do get a lot done but I'm not in perpetual motion, I promise, so maybe that's why I come across as relaxed. I do enjoy accomplishment and I consider this business of homemaking as much a vocation as any job I've ever held outside the home.

Grammy Goodwill said...

I always enjoy reading what all you do - while I sit in my recliner! This weekend, I've actually been busy, though, cleaning the house for a surprise birthday party for my hubby at the end of the month.
Your porch cushion is so pretty. I envy your ability to sew.
Have a good week.

Laurie said...

What a fantastic idea for cushions! I'm going to have to remember that great tip.

Tammy said...

I never knew about culturing your own buttermilk. We never had it when I was learning to cook, and it's just in the past few years since I started making our own salad dressings that I've purchased any. Can you perhaps elaborate on your process - like how long it takes to culture?
I've been making yogurt for a few months now and like it so much more than store-bought. I even made a couple of batches using the last few tablespoons of the batch before and I was tickled pink that it worked.
One of the best benefits of making yogurt is using the whey in other recipes. It's our new favorite ingredient in pancakes and makes them light and fluffy. I tried my hand at yogurt cheese last week and while I haven't eaten any yet (it's marinating in olive oil and Italian herbs), the consistency was lovely.
Aldi is a good 60 miles from us, but I try to go when we're in that city and in the area where the store is. Greg enjoys it, too, and recently I took my son, and he found some whole grain tortilla chips and those thin sandwich buns he likes.
Great job on those cushions! Look forward to a photo of your porch all done up for Spring!

Lana said...

Tammy, I put 1/4 cup buttermilk in a clean one QT canning jar and fill it up with milk. I usually try to start a new batch when I have milk going out of date. Shale the jar very well. Put in a warm place in your kitchen and leave it sit undisturbed for 24 hours. I have on occasion had to leave some 36 hours when the kitchen is chilly. When it is done it will be thickened and smell like buttermilk. I like to give it a good shake each time I use it because I do have thicker parts in each jar full. You can make the next batch with a portion of each jar as you finish it. I have not had any go bad so I have not worried about shelf life.

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