Friday, January 21, 2011

Frugal Friday - Living Well

Just a few more days and this month will be over...Hasn't it been running away from us?  I've enjoyed the month thus far.  It's been a wonderful start to the New Year and a good month for accomplishing a lot of good work.  If this is the way the year shall go on, I shall call this one of the most productive years I've had in years!

So, time to see how I saved (or missed) over the past week.  I'll do as I've been doing and start way back at Saturday (which seems so long ago at the moment).

Saturday:  Synagogue and Oneg (meal) that followed.  I carried homemade lasagna, a salad and a pan of frosted homemade brownies.  Everyone brought brownies this time, lol.  Chocolate overload!  That meant I brought home a good portion of those rich brownies.  We had brownies for snacks all week long.  Not a bad thing.

I had a few leftovers, so brought them home and put them away right away.  Future meal ready to heat and eat.

I was offered, and accepted, smoked beef brisket that was soooo good.  I took just enough to make sandwiches for us.

We were on our way over to Alan's old place when he called to re-route us back home.  Chance invited him to supper.  No worries we had leftovers.  Then Alan called when we walked in the door to say he was bringing guest with him...Not enough leftovers for four when two of them are very hungry young men.  Quick thinking gathered up half a roast chicken stripped from bones to make sandwiches, the smoked beef brisket and a single packet of pastrami bought on sale.  A loaf of bread, a fresh bag of chips pulled from the pantry, hot cocoa, juice and coffee for beverages, brownies for dessert...Whew!  A meal from 'nothing'. 

Alan called again before arriving to ask if he might store some things...Certainly he could, if he didn't mind putting them in the shed.  The new apartment is smaller and he had to downsize.  Instead of storing some items he decided to give one item to me:  flat screen monitor for the desk top computer.

I'd seen a picture earlier in the week of a desk area in a kitchen that I really liked.  It was so roomy, so nice.  With the flat screen monitor I had loads more room.  Chance however, wasn't quite satisfied.  There was a rat's nest of tangled cords and with speakers, wireless router and broadband router on the desktop the little desk still seemed cluttered.  First he sorted out the tangled cords and made that look a lot neater.  Smart man, smart smart man that he is  he HUNG the routers and speakers on the wall above the desk.  Now the desktop is clutter free!  All that space for just four nails being put in the wall.  Did I mention how smart the man is?

Sunday: We drove to the city to help Alan unpack...Only he'd already unpacked.  He needed a ride to his old apartment to pick up his car.  He took us out for coffee.  He drove and asked if I'd noticed my car was a little hard to drive.  I told him I had.  He said the tires were under-inflated and I'd get better gas mileage if they were filled to the maximum amount of pressure.  Good deal.  I get a free tip that not only improves the car's handling but saves me gasoline as well.

Back at his old apartment, Alan announced that he had nowhere to put the stainless microwave in like-new condition nor the rolling office chair...Would I like them?  Oh yes!  The microwave was much nicer than my own and more to my taste (the other was a gift) and the desk chair would be perfect for my future work/craft space.

Supper at home?  Leftover lasagna and salad from our Oneg meal on Saturday. 

Monday:  We'd planned to go buy groceries but woke to rain.  And weariness from our busy week just past.  We decided to wait until the next day to do the shopping.  We stayed in our pajamas all day long.  Dinner was leftovers that I'd combined and frozen in a casserole.  I made a salad and side dish to go with it.

Curiosity led me to do a visual inventory of the fridge/freezer.  Hmmm...Quite a bit of foodstuffs still on hand.

The weather truly was miserable.  We kept the curtains pulled closed on all but one window to avoid drafts.

The gas man came to refill our propane tank.  Chance asked if we were using too much.  I said no, and from all I've heard about the increases friends and family experienced with their first electric bill for this year, we are going to be using that propane heater a little more and the electric heat a little less. 

Bread was running low but we had enough to manage sandwiches for supper. I warned Chance to eat crackers etc if he wanted toast for morning.

Chance looked at weather forecast online and told me it would be raining again the next day.  I am not keen on shopping in rain...He suggested I wait until Thursday.  I considered this and told him that as we had to buy a few things (bread, milk, eggs, cheese, lettuce) right away I would settle for a trip to the local grocery and then postpone any further shopping until my usual Big Shop.

Received an email from the book club thanking me for my last order and offering a buy one get one free sale...and as it just happened I'd planned to order two books the first of next month.  Why not buy now and get the second book free?  I did just that. 

A friend shared that my new bras would last longer if hand washed.  I did this and hung to dry in the spare bath.  She said the agitation of the washer stretches and twists the material, while the dryer ruins the elasticity of the fibers.  I'll follow her advice from now on. 

Tuesday:  Another dreary rainy day.  The propane heater kept the chill down and we kept curtains drawn yet another day.  I am not fond of a dark home. I am less fond of a frigid home though. 

We went to the local grocery to buy the needed items.  I went prepared with list in hand to insure we forgot none of the necessities.  Splurge for the day: three packs of cubed steak that were marked down for quick sale and 1 frozen cheese rising crust pizza.  I spent about 1/4 the budget for the pay period.  That means I'm going to come in under budget for this month!  I hadn't planned to come in under budget this month, just to use some of my stockpiled foods.  As it happened, the weather sort of prompted the savings and I'm pleased that we have done so very well.

While out we ran two other errands in the local area: one stop at the hardware store for caulking (Chance was on another minor repair kick in the house) and the post office.

Chance spent the afternoon caulking gaps and making minor repairs.  It's amazing how much neater a home appears if things are in good repair.

Pizza for lunch at the man of the house request.  Supper?  Another leftover item from the freezer: 1 pint of chili, 1 drained can of corn, 1 box of muffin mix prepared per directions equals Tamale Pie.  A side salad of thawed ambrosia (I'd frozen last month when Chance didn't help eat the big bag of oranges I'd bought) and we had a very healthy and hearty supper.  Really the only cost to us was for that box of muffin mix, bought on sale for just $.50 and 1 egg (about $.20).  Supper for two for $.70...Can you beat that?

Wednesday:  The plan: Light housework, lunch and shopping with Mama.   The reality: Chance dropped his phone which broke into several pieces.  Plans for the day changed slightly.  All of the above plans PLUS a ride to pick up the broken phone and then a ride to the city to exchange the phone...

Mama didn't want to do any shopping.  We stopped for Honeybells and shared the 1/4 bushel bag. 

A stop by my own home on my way to the city to grab another bottle of water and one of those Honeybells just in case I felt hungry as the afternoon progressed.

Turns out Alan had opted to purchase insurance on the phone when he gave it to Chance.  We had only to call the insurance program and request a replacement which they sent overnight.  Cost for the new phone $40 thanks to his foresight.  Savings about $160.  Suddenly the half tank gasoline used for all the extra running about didn't seem such a budget drain.

Alan suggested while we were near the bookstore we stop by.  He treated me to a cup of coffee.  While he looked I made a bargain with myself.  Since I'd just ordered two new books, I felt I shouldn't buy another.  Instead I walked over the magazines and told myself only if I found the favored two very hard to find magazines would I buy anything.  Well they didn't have either of the magazines.  I looked over the bargain bookshelves but kept my word and spent nothing.

Alan skipped a class to run this errand with me.  He hadn't had lunch and it was now suppertime.  I  treated him to a meal.  I told Chance I took it from the grocery budget savings.

Thursday:  Overtired from the long long day before, I had to use reward incentives to push myself to get the house cleaned...and it really needed cleaning after nearly a week of light housekeeping only.  Well it worked.  Housework accomplished and I was able to read for a couple of hours, too.

Didn't want any of the planned menu items...Thawed chicken and breaded it to oven fry.  Homemade Honey Mustard dressing was awesome: 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 2 tsps Dijon mustard, 2 tsps honey.  YUM!  I'll never buy honey mustard again. 

Three breasts in the package: one for my dinner, one sliced made two sandwiches for Chance's lunch, and 1 leftover, along with half the vegetables, put away for easy heat and eat meal Saturday when I come in from synagogue.

Longing for artwork in the guest room I opted to pin up some colored pencil pieces I'd done.  A bright spot in an a rather impersonal room.

My supper was leftover Tamale Casserole. 

I forgot to buy dog food.  I thought I'd need to go to town to buy more but couldn't leave home.  I remembered a container of food I'd set aside when the last bag wouldn't all fit in the bit container.  I have enough dog food on hand to last through Saturday.  I'll pick up more then after synagogue.

Chance came home with an armload of Atlanta Sunday papers.  Our friends sent them to me with all the coupons inside.  Lovely!   There are far more coupons in the Atlanta paper and this paper is not available for me to buy locally anymore.

Friday:  No lunch meat in the house...I pulled a roast from the freezer to cook in the crock pot with onion soup mix and mushroom  soup.  Sandwich meat for Chance and open face sandwiches for myself.

I'll boil eggs and make egg salad and tuna salad for sandwiches as well.

Baking for the weekend will be fairly easy.  I think a snack cake is in order. I'll use bought on sale cake mix from the pantry to make our snack cake.  I always substitute water for the oil required in the boxed mix, with no loss of moistness.

Big Shop next week will be a little intense after a full month of not shopping.  I am pre-planning, using the advantage of online 'sneak peek' ads to help me along.  I can go ahead and gather coupons and make a list for all but one store.  What a time savings to be able to do it today instead of having to wait until Monday to begin.

Chance took the pre-paid envelope containing the broken phone to drop in the mail.  This is part of the insurance requirement.  Delays could mean an additional charge of $50. 

Another at home day for me, so no gasoline or money spent.  We'll finish up this pay period with a bit of money left from our last check and that is definitely a bonus. 

Living Well 

While working at the kitchen desk last Friday, I looked at the cramped quarters and thought how nice a flat screen monitor would be, and how much room would be freed on that desktop.  I love that the very next day my son gave me his old flat screen monitor and that my husband figured out a way to give me more room.  It's not quite where I want it yet, but it's a whole lot nearer that inspiration photo thanks to my two guys.

Our pajama day was a huge success for us both.  It was so relaxing!  I think we may have to do that again this winter after we've had a busy week .  There's something about pajamas that just makes us naturally slow  down and relax and not work hard.  Take one cold rainy winter day, one pair of pajamas for each person in the household and earn the maximum in relaxation. 

I'm MAKING time to read these busy days and am getting back into the reading habit once more after months of reading in snippets.  I've finished two books this week, started another and am halfway through with the third book.

There's a sitcom I deeply enjoy that plays in the early evening as a 'filler' program.  It never fails to elicit laughs from me and so I'm making a point of watching it each evening in the interest of increasing my ability to laugh out loud.

Sunsets this week (at least on the clear days) have been gorgeous.  Well worth being out late to drive home with the panoramic view before me.

Moonrise on one of those late nights was equally spectacular.  The view the very next morning was pretty awesome as well.  The ground was shrouded in an icy fog but the sky was clear and the moonlight made the morning appear to be made of mother of pearl.  There are advantages to having a husband drive off to work just after 6am.

Honeybells are a seasonal treat, well worth taking time to savor and enjoy.  They are so big and orange and tasty!

It took quite a bit of time to get the broken phone replaced but it all worked out just fine.  I got to spend some nice one on one time with Alan, enjoyed a beautiful sunset and moonrise and then was rewarded last night with my husband telling me how very much he appreciated my taking care of  it for him.  Gee...I never expected that glitch in my plans to turn out so nicely.

I've been making sure to get outside for a little time each day, even though it is damp or cold and generally unpleasant.  Winter brings it's own rewards: crisp, clean air that is marvelous to breathe, an extended view with the bare trees, lots of bright pretty birds to watch bathe in the puddles, the black etching of bare branches against the sunset sky...

Trust is sometimes hard won. Alan's female cat had been abandoned twice and she's just not the most trusting creature around.  This weekend I was allowed to show her a little affection.   When I went up on Wednesday she got up on the couch and walked slowly over to me and stood upon my leg.  She wouldn't look at me, but that gesture of coming to me and standing on my person spoke worlds about where she was in trusting me.  I felt honored and told her so.

A good giggle this morning watching an energetic Robin toss leaves about in a frenzy of hunting insects.  He reminded me of myself when I've lost something in a dresser drawer and begin to toss items about, lol.

Beautiful day today deserves open curtains all around, no matter how cool it is outdoors.  The sun is so welcome after our cloudy days.

I look for signs of the season in the agricultural world around me...Peach trees are now being pruned, right on schedule and spring wheat is coming up in the fields.

The recent decluttering has left me feeling light and airy as my home's open spaces.  I love it.  


Rhonda said...

a tip I heard for bras, but have not started following, is to not wear the same bra 2 days in row. The expert said that wearing the same bra day after day stresses the elastic.

Did Alan not buy the house he was considering?

your kitchen office sounds very nice.
hope you have a nice Sabbath and weekend too.

Anonymous said...

If it is "Country Home" magazine you are looking for, you won't find it except on ebay or thrift stores. They have quite publishing it.

Manuela@TPOH said...

Always enjoy your weekly post! Must try the handwashing tip. I usually put them in the washing machine but hang them to dry.

Decluttering is great! My husband wanted me to keep things for another garage sale in March (before we put the house up for sale) but I honestly can't stand keeping all that stuff stored so I had him take a few boxes to Goodwill yesterday. Makes me feel light and airy too!