It's been two weeks since I last posted a Frugal Friday...and I can say quite honestly that I've felt a little ungrounded without doing so. I guess I just need to write this little post each week to remind myself of all I've done to save money, where I spent money and how I saved while spending it and what choices led to revelations about how to cut corners, make do, etc.
I find that the holidays often mean too much food and that leads to waste. I have to share that I had to toss a few things this week. I'd kept a pint of homemade soup in the fridge just in case the kids might want it, but no one did. And I made too much potato salad, even that even Chance who thinks it's a treat got tired of it, so that and the soup went to the doggies. With snacks at work, he brought home a sandwich or two each night from his lunch but we ended up with one that didn't get eaten. I had a small portion of red cabbage that had to be composted and about half a bag of spinach leaves that were inedible. It was a high week for food waste for me I'm afraid.
Remember I said I tried three new recipes this week and threw two of the them away after. Well one of those recipes I halved instead of making a full recipe. I ended up tossing most of those cookies this morning. They didn't get any better for the sitting around in the cookie jar. I'm awfully glad I halved those recipes as I tried them instead of making up full batches!
Rhonda sent a reminder through to check coupons and use those that were expiring if they were high value. So glad that she did! I had three coupons for free sugar and her message jogged my memory. Now tell me who can afford to pass up a kitchen staple like sugar when it's free? I pulled the three coupons and tucked into my wallet to have them with me when we went out on errands yesterday. It took a bit of doing, and a bit more driving than we'd anticipated but I got my free sugar.
I made a vow this December that I'd start saving for Christmas and give up that silly notion of mine that I'd "shop a little along all year long". Well I'm proud as peaches: I have done just what I said I'd do. I have my first deposit ready to go into a savings account on Monday when we go into town. I've planned the amount into our budget for 2011. It's modest enough we should be able to keep up the deposits without any troubles in even the leanest times this year, and yet net us a sufficient sum for gift giving come time to Christmas shop.
Weather is so changeable here. Last week it was cold and the wind blustered and blew. Today it's so nice that I've opened the windows to let the house air. I remember laughing earlier this year after reading an old homemaking book from the 1850's where the advice was to open windows and let the sunshine and good clean air IN, and then found myself reading the very same advice in a 2010 magazine! Fresh air and sunshine are two of the best known disinfectants and air fresheners. God created them and man hasn't improved upon them. Best of all: they are both FREE.
We were given a monetary gift for Christmas by a relative. Chance and I talked at length about how to use that money. Truth is, we're in a rather happy position at the moment of not needing the cash to purchase anything for our home or make any repairs. After a bit we decided that we'd get the most pleasure from adding that money to our vacation fund. I think we chose wisely, rather than spending it on clothes we don't need or on dinners out that won't be a lasting memory.
To help start the New Year right, I've planned to begin a Pantry/Freezer challenge. Because of that plan I was pleased as punch when Kay came home bearing gifts from her moving neighbor's: 3 bags of powdered milk and two pounds of elbow macaroni. I used one bag of the powdered milk right away to make up a batch of hot cocoa mix which went into Christmas gift bags with enough leftover to make a big jar full for our own kitchen.
It hasn't been that after Christmas shopping doesn't appeal...It does. But I've not really had an opportunity to get out to do much of it! I did look over the things at the few stores I went into while grocery shopping and I was pleased enough with what I found. Two bars of Godiva chocolate for about $.25 each after the clearance price and a hefty coupon, a roll of paper for Christmas that happily embodies next year's theme of Nature's Elegance and two rolls of Hannukah wrap plus a couple of themed gift bags for nearly nothing, colored sugars for $1 for huge containers and two angels that were just what I'd been looking for all these past weeks for $2.49 each. Oh yes and cards for sending out next year. I've done about as much after Christmas shopping as I care to do, really. I think for the $10 spent I did rather well.
Grocery store bargain this week was two one pound packages of ground lamb for just $2 each. That is an amazingly low price for lamb. I also bought a quart of eggnog, which I love in my coffee as creamer, and to use in pancakes, French toast batter, to make muffins and such. It was just $1 and will stretch quite nicely into several lovely things for us.
Fruitcake is a seasonal treat I love and I bought one for just $2. I sliced and put in the freezer so I could remove just one piece at a time. Sure wish Kay was still home, she likes fruitcake occasionally, too.
I tried a new recipe for the homemade syrup this past week and I definitely think this is going to be my go to recipe. I found it The Tightwad Gazette under the title "Pancake Syrup". It's thick and lovely, not thin as water such as the last recipe I tried. It made about 1 pint of syrup using a half recipe. I followed their recipe for Chocolate syrup as well so I'm well supplied with the makings of cocoa now what with the mix I made and the chocolate syrup.
I've saved the carcass from the turkey breast I cooked Christmas Eve. I don't need more broth, but the weather will turn cold again and when it does I think a pot of Turkey Noodle soup will be just the thing.
Chance gave me money to buy bras early this month and I'd put it off for weeks on end. It wasn't that I didn't have the time, but the truth is bra shopping is about as enjoyable to me as a visit to the dentist. There are so many styles to choose from! I'm glad I put off that shopping, because we decided Wednesday that Thursday was to be Bra Day. I was anything but excited, but committed to going and looking. We went to one store, where I found a lovely bra...at a price that made me gasp with horror. However, desperation and all that, I told Chance "I'll buy three and just not think about the cost." At the register I was shocked when three rang up for less than the price of two. Turned out they hadn't yet put up the sign stating that all lingerie were 40% off...Love those bargains that are surprises, too.
We've kept our heater set at about 66F for the most part except on those extremely cold days. On those days I considered 68F a necessity what with the wind blasting the house and creating nasty little drafts every time the door opened and shut. I put a kettle of water on the stove to add moisture into the air and that helped it to feel much warmer, too.
I've spent the week going through the January issues of the magazines Mama gave me two weeks ago. I've started a list of things to practice. Everything from a tea meant to soothe coughs (made with rosemary) to a note on how to rid dishcloths and shirt collars of that 'sour' smell (sudsing ammonia and no soap in the wash).
Tax papers are fully organized and awaiting the arrival of W-2s and 1099s so that we can file those taxes right away. I also looked for and found the tag receipts from last year. Those are the two tasks that we must deal with in late January and it's helpful to have the info where I can put my hands right upon it.
It was lovely to spend Christmas Day in a quieter way than usual, knowing the family would all gather together once more come evening. I spent the time productively and so enjoyed the head start on New Year's tasks that I felt spurred on to work on little tasks all week long. I now have a perfectly organized desk, all the tax info and tag receipts ready for the end of next month, my January goals lsited and a good many of my December goals taken care of as well. I love feeling I've accomplished something.
I could hardly wait for Chance to leave this morning...I planned to mop the floors. I do so love the aroma of the pine cleaner I use. It always smells so fresh and makes the house just seem so sanitized somehow.
I worked hard this afternoon. What luxury to have delicious leftovers I can put on the table for supper. Heat and eat with a slice of good bread and dinner is done.
Having the windows open has been such a luxury this afternoon. I've had a special soothing music channel playing and the birds calling outdoors fit right in, making the music seem that much more special.
I've been practicing that lie down for 30 minutes resolution a wee bit this week. This afternoon when I finished my work and was so weary it was so nice to lie down and stretch out. I read a couple of stories in The Blue Bedroom by Rosamunde Pilcher, one of which is titled "Gilbert" and made me dissolve helplessly into giggles.
Almost time to end the day and begin our Shabbat preparations. I so look forward to this peaceful, restful time each week. And how especially appropriate that this Shabbat will see the close of this old year and the opening of a new one. Here's wishing you and your family a year of blessings!