Friday, February 4, 2011

Frugal Friday - Living Well

Woo Boy!  Some weeks go by like they were on an icy patch of sidewalk don't they?  And here we are in a new month before we could blink twice!  Nevertheless, it's been another week of looking for ways to save in my home.  Let's see what I found I could do this week, okay?

Saturday:   Honestly, Saturday is a long blur to me.  I remember very little except that we went to synagogue and there was a business meeting following, we ate pizza, opting for takeout because it was so late.  Hmmm... Much to my surprise a medium with several toppings cost just $10 and we had enough pizza left for 1 lunch.  We were very, very hungry when we got in.

Sunday:  When his boss called late last week and asked if he'd be willing to cover a shift for a co-worker, Chance agreed to do so.  Overtime is not something we seek out too much.  We've always felt our week's between shifts were entirely busy enough without adding in lots of extra work, too.  However, this extra shift will be welcome on the check.

Typical of a 'work day' I rose early and went right to work, too.  I started by washing a load of towels.  I find that drying the dishcloths in the dryer helps eliminate the 'sourness' that develops as the cloths dry slowly.  However, I've learned a trick from that smart husband of mine as well:  I turn off the dryer about ten minutes prior to the time they are dry.  When we're doing clothes, he takes them out and spreads them to dry, but when it's towels, I leave them in the hot dryer to finish with the residual heat.

I moved the craft items into the guestroom/my office...You see I'd mentioned that I was planning to buy a table and someone said "Oh don't bother to do that, we've got several in storage and you can have one of those."  Well, no need to postpone creating my own space then was there?  Which meant I created more space in the chiffarobe, so I could move the tablecloths to hangers and hang them up...And that meant I had more room for the place mats and could lay them flat and separate the napkins into a drawer all their own.  Well there's nothing like a little rearranging to grow space you didn't have before and gracious it doesn't cost a single thing to do that!

I'd accumulated  a stack of stuff that really had no home and so I took it out to my shop...and that's where I discovered my son had left his wire shelving unit two weeks ago.  Vaguely I recalled him saying I could use whatever he left in my shed.  There was that additional shelving I'd been contemplating all morning long, planning an extended pantry where I might store dry goods in the guest room closet.  Just to be sure I asked when he stopped by later that day if I might use it.

I've had light bulbs, wood glue and a few other items on my shopping list for about a month.  I meant to pick them up but just didn't.  Now I'm glad I didn't.  After getting the chiffarobe looking neat and nice, I couldn't let the cabinet above our trash cupboard stay a wretched mess.  Guess what I found?  Light bulbs, wood glue and the other items on our list and some we'd meant to add but hadn't!  I organized that cabinet and it looks so nice I open the door at least twice a day just to admire it.  Not to mention admiring all those things I thought we needed to buy which are sitting right there where I can see them.

One pound of hamburger...I decided that I just had to have meatloaf.  And one of the vintage magazines had a recipe for a small meatloaf using just one pound ground beef, an egg, a handful or two of breadcrumbs, and a chopped onion.  Well why not?  I mixed up the ingredients and formed them into a small round loaf.  I should do this more often.  I managed to get seven nice servings of meat loaf out of that pound of ground beef.  Sure beats four hamburgers...

I chopped up a washed potato and roasted right in the pan with the meatloaf.

Conscious of leftovers I used the last of the slaw from Friday as a side dish.

Monday:  I had company all Sunday afternoon, followed by a phone call from Kay, which pretty much sidelined work.  Not that I minded, lol.  However, Monday morning we were right back at working and saving money.

I started a batch of yogurt in the new crock pot I'd bought a couple of years ago for $5 at an end of Christmas sale.  I didn't need a second crock pot but it was such a good buy we bought it anyway.  Glad I did. It was a nice replacement for my Little Dipper pot.  This crock pot has a lift out crockery liner which makes clean-up a breeze.

Mixed up a batch of peanut butter cookies to fill one of the snack jars.

Dinner was meant to be cubed steaks...they just didn't thaw.  I popped them right into the oven, still pretty much frozen solid and they baked up juicy and tender.  I'll keep that in mind for the future.  Sides were more leftovers and included sweet potatoes I'd baked and frozen whole, then defrosted and peeled.  I sliced one half into thick rounds and baked with butter and brown sugar. 

The whole sweet potato that was left?  I mixed up a batch of sweet potato biscuits.

Disappointed to find my yogurt didn't thicken up as it ought.  No matter, I'll use anyway.  I actually like this yogurt 'milk' over cereal and use in baking as well.

Tuesday:  Off to do errands.  We have this habit of looking for coins on the ground and we drop them in a little box to save until we have enough to buy a bag of diapers to donate to the crisis pregnancy center.  We found coins this day as well, but the big find was a neatly folded piece of green paper in the middle of the sidewalk...Which just happened to be $20!  That went into the vacation fund.

We went into the grocery store with a list...and we came out with a few more items and an addition to our food budget that puts us pretty near done for the month.  No great big splurges here, except for flowers and two videos that I couldn't pass up (a double bouquet for $5 and $8 for two classic films I'll watch many many times over).  However, those items will also be taken from my allowance this next week, pushing a little more money into the grocery fund.

We'd meant to eat out but ultimately decided to head home and heat the spaghetti sauce I'd made the day before and cook pasta.  We had dinner on the table in about 40 minutes after we got home.  Half the spaghetti and sauce were leftover.  I mixed the two and put into a foil lined pan and froze it for a future meal.

One of the items not on our list was still a good buy: a dozen donuts for $1.  Those went right into a snack jar where they will stay fresh all week long...if they last a full week, lol!

Wednesday:  Out with Mama.  She wanted to visit her favorite women's dress shop.  I knew my wardrobe was at the point where a few new tops would allow me to move slightly worn looking things to the house clothes drawer.  I figured the clearance rack was just the place to shop, too.  I came away with a pretty sweater for 1/3 the original price.

Looking over the new things displayed for Spring, one mannequin caught my eye...Because I had two pieces that looked very close to the ones on the mannequin.  What I don't have: a pretty green tee.  I didn't like the style of the one shown but the idea of combining that particular shade of green with the other two pieces hadn't occurred to me.  I snapped a photo with my cell phone to remind me of that outfit.

Out to lunch and the waitress misunderstood us when we ordered a dessert item...There was a lunch special that was one third the price and half the size of the one brought to our table.  We pointed out the error but assured the girl we would just share the one she brought us.  She came back in a few minutes and told us that because it was her mistake, the manager was giving us the dessert for free!  We were very surprised and protested but they were insistent. 

Mama wanted to stop by the grocery, a place I definitely didn't want to be.  I chose to stay in the car while she looked about.

One more clothing store.  I found one top and two pairs of pants on the clearance rack.  I never pass up pants in my size from the clearance rack if I like the style.  I paid just $11 for each pair, which is a very good price indeed.

Thursday:  I was gone almost all day long.  I left the heat cut back here at home to the nighttime temperature while I was gone.

I had a doctor's appointment and no not a thing wrong with me.  I just needed to get a prescription for occasional use refilled.  I wasn't happy about having to pay for the office visit and let the doctor know it.  I do understand his position and he understands mine.  It was agreed that I might get the prescription refilled without another office visit this year.  He even suggested I go ahead and refill it just before the year is out even if I have no immediate need of a dose.  Compromise is a wonderful thing, especially when it saves the cost of an office visit.

Starved after the LONG wait at the doctor's office I went by Chance's work shop and found he was in.  At his insistence, I raided his lunch box and had half of one of his sandwiches.  He even bought me a soda to go with it.  Not as expensive as it may sound.  The shop buys drinks by the case and sells them for $.50 each, far less expensive than a drink machine.

Came home and went by the local grocery.  Intent was to pick up two items on sale this week that would feather my pantry/snack foods for next pay period very nicely.  Also discovered two lovely Rib Eye steaks marked down to a very reasonable cost.  It really was a mistake to go into the grocery.  It took a great deal of restraint not to buy a lot of unneeded items simply because I was still a little hungry and thirsty after my morning out of the house.  I'd say it was a tie, as impulse did gain some control but I managed to stick to good sale prices on the impulses.

Friday:  A Kitchen Savings Day.  I've been busy all morning and still have a few things to do this afternoon in my kitchen to complete this savings day.  I cooked ahead for the weekend, making sausage patties for biscuits tomorrow morning.  The Biscuits are thawed and in the fridge, leftover Sweet Potato biscuits from early this week.

I raided the freezer looking for inspiration for dinner after service tomorrow.  It's cold and rainy, deserving of some sort of comfort food in my opinion.  Chicken and dumplings fit the bill.  I started the frozen chicken stewing this morning, along with the frozen onion roots and tops, celery stalk trimmings and a couple of half carrots left from salads.  Boy did that stewing chicken smell good!

I purposely cooked too much chicken so I could make up chicken salad for sandwiches.

Used one cake mix to make a dozen cupcakes and a Pineapple Upside Down Cake.

Boiled two eggs to use in salads and used the cooled water to 'feed' the violets and orchid.

Made dumplings from scratch to go into the stew pot after I'd deboned and chopped the chicken.  Had a bowl for lunch and they are soooo good!  I used this recipe: for the dumplings.  Gracious but they were good!  I could have rolled them still thinner than I did and I think this recipe would be a nice one to use to make my own dried egg noodles.  Something I shall certainly to into making soon...I just need a new drying rack.

While I was digging in the freezer this morning it seemed a good time to pull a freezer inventory and at least see how much meat I had on hand.  A lot more than I'd thought and it's always helpful to do that inventory and remind myself of just what I have to use. 

Decided to skip the ride into town to pick up that prescription.  I'll do it when I'm going through in the morning.  A small savings of gasoline is still a savings.

Discovered my yogurt was thicker on the bottom than I'd realized.  Thinking through my actions I believe I simply didn't let it 'cure' long enough.  I'll correct that next week when I make the next batch.

Followed this recipe here to make bread:
Rhonda is well known for her good food and sensible ingredients.  My loaves are rising now and I can say honestly that this is the most beautiful dough I've worked with in a long time.

Living Well

Gracious, but I am a tired woman this afternoon.  However, it is the very ,very best kind of tired, that of knowing you've been working hard and having it show.  That's right up there next to being so busy all day long that you don't even notice how utterly miserable it has been all. day. long.  And working so hard that you DO reward yourself with little things all through out the day just because you need that self pat on the back to keep going until all the things are done.  I've watched the first YouTube video of  Victorian Farm (apparently moments before it was yanked off YouTube, but that's why I have Netflix), scraped the frosting bowl clean and licked the spatula, put my feet up and eaten a bowlful of those wonderful smelling chicken and dumplings, and given myself permission to QUIT even if every single thing isn't done.

Be more adventuresome this year, I said to myself, and so this week I took no less than three roads I've never once been down before and what a surprise when I wound up right in my favorite small town (not the one I live in but the second place I ever just longed to live).

Comfort: coming in from the cold, lighting the heater, making a cup of coffee and snuggling into a housecoat even though you haven't changed your clothes.  Then drinking the coffee as you toast your chilly feet before the fire before you even THINK about doing one thing more.

I've always said I don't mind waiting, but I was frustrated at the change in my plans due to the doctor's lateness yesterday.  Now I'll look back and see the bright side.  I read about eight chapters of my book while I waited, which is more than I read all of last month.

Homemade is the best: homemade chicken salad, on homemade bread with a big Honeybell as my side and then a homemade cupcake...Yum.  Supper at it's finest.

Peace at home, when there is chaos in the world at large. 


Rhonda said...

aww Terri, your bread is beautiful! Grandpa would be so proud of you. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
You are so right that I like plain ingredient recipes. I think they are usually cheaper and usually taste better than recipes that call for packages or envelopes or bags of stuff

I love your last line, there is certainly chaos in the world but peace at home is so nice

Lisa said...

Peace at home, when there is chaos in the world at large--I really like this statement. Thank you for linking the bread recipe. I've been looking for a good one!