Friday, February 11, 2011

Frugal Friday - Living Well

Frugal Friday

I'll date myself with this, but does anyone remember the Steve Miller Band's song "Time keeps on slipping, slipping, into the future..."?  Well that's how life feels to me lately.  The days just fly right past...Then I turn and look back and I don't see that much happening to make time go by so quickly.  I suppose that is the true secret of time: it's going to pass you by whether you're doing something or whether you're doing nothing at all.  I'd much rather feel like I'd done something if time is going to be slipping away from me anyway.  What about you?

Saturday:  Dinner following our service. My dinner contributions were a huge success.  I came away with just 1 tablespoonful of dumplings, a small slice of pineapple upside down cake and a bare handful of salad.  Good thing when I packed Chance's work lunch I went ahead and gave him a serving of dumplings to heat up.  Not having leftovers isn't a bad thing.  It means I planned well.

After service I headed off to the antiques mall.  My goal was to 'see it all' something I'd wanted to do for several years now.  I had a list however, to keep my mind on what I really wanted to buy.  One of those items was an antique cake carrier.  I've come to loathe the plastic one I normally carry because it's prone to shifting and coming unlocked at inopportune moments.  I found my cake carrier, with a nifty little metal handle on top and grooves on the sides that lock the top to the bottom.  It isn't going to shift and come unlocked by accident.  I went with a budget limit to spend and kept well within it, too.  Had enough money leftover to pick up supper on my way home.

Supper: Subway sandwich for $5.  Half for my own meal and half for Chance to carry to work as his lunch. 

I was gone most of the day.  Heat was set to 60F while I was out.  Yes, it was a little chilly when I came home but why heat a house when no one is home?  It took less than an hour to bring the temperature up to 67F with the propane heater.  I turned off propane and let the heat pump keep the temperature stable after that.

Decided that really, we could go a little cooler at night.  New thermostat setting is 58F.  We reset it about an hour before bedtime.

Sunday:  No plans for this day besides bare minimum housework.  I followed my quick clean routine and was soon settled in my chair with a stack of magazines.  I planned a no-cook day and had a portion of the Sub sandwich as my lunch.  The cost of that sub per serving just got lower...

Decided to skip the Sunday paper.  I knew Mama would save hers for me and I had no real desire to leave home.  It was a long week last week just filled with going places.  Staying home and saving gasoline seemed the perfect way to spend a Sunday.

Alan called to say he was coming out to visit.  I warned him I wasn't cooking.  He offered to bring along a special treat that we both enjoy.  I accepted.  One small order of chicken livers  (I can hear 'ewww' out there but we love them) was shared between us. 

It was a beautiful day last Sunday.  I left the curtains wide open in the afternoon and let the 'solar energy' heat the rooms.  It worked beautifully.  The heat didn't come on again for hours.

All that sunshine was a great substitute for lighting, too. 

Monday:  Rain, rain, rain.  I had plans for the day which didn't include rainy skies and damp air.  Sweeping, vacuuming, mopping floors, changing sheets,  washing clothes...  It was most definitely work with what you have weather, so I got busy early in the day. 

I didn't have a full load of clothes with just the sheets, so I gathered up towels and dishcloths and dumped them in the washer, too.  Ran the load on the shortest cycle.  With clothing that is only gently used there's no need of using the heavy duty, super soaker cycle.

Mopped floors and then set up the fans to blow them dry.  It did make it a little cooler in here but then again the floors were dry in under an hour.  I've known them to stay wet for hours on a cold damp winter's day.

Looked grocery ads up online and printed out the shopping lists.  I used  the back side of previously used sheets of paper to print the lists.  Gathered coupons to match sales.

Afternoon was set aside for fun, a paper craft I wanted to try my hand at.  Turned out nicely and I enjoyed having the afternoon off from work.

Tuesday:  Long day of shopping ahead.  I started out early.  My first stop was the bank.  I'd saved $30 in one dollar bills last month.  That money went into the vacation fund.  A second deposit went into our Christmas 2011 fund. 

CVS had craisins, toilet paper, laundry detergent and granola bars on sale this week.  Walgreen's offered up salt, olives, and prunes.  I don't mind a bit shopping for groceries at non-grocery stores.  I want the best buy for the money wherever that may be.

Walmart was on the list this week.  I seldom run in there due to the potential for splurging.  However, I cannot pass up the reduced cost on over the counter medicines.  As well, I had a mission:  Susan wanted a Georgia bulldog hoodie and a bottle of cane syrup for her birthday.  Cane syrup was on my pantry shelf.  Georgia Bulldog hoodie was thankfully found at Walmart, the only one available in the exact size she wanted.  Blessing: no tag meant the manager determined the cost, which came out to $22.  Also picked up the swap items needed, stuck tight to the spending limit for those purchases.

Grocery shopping in earnest followed but first, I heeded time honored advice: don't shop hungry.  I stopped for lunch first, nothing expensive, but enough to keep hunger at bay and energy levels high.  

After my second grocery stop I pulled to the end of the parking lot and packaged up Susan's birthday items, a box for my swap partner, and a package for a friend.  I brought along packing boxes, tape and scissors, and labels.  I stopped on my way home to mail the packages. No trip needed the next day to go back to the post office.

No deli items purchased during my shopping trip this day.  I opted to make supper using what I had at home.

Wednesday:  Made blueberry muffins for breakfast, using a boxed mix bought the day before for less than $1.  The only ingredient required to make the muffins: water. 

Chance's only request: chili mac for dinner.  There's an inexpensive meal...Leftovers enough for another meal were frozen.

Chance washed clothes.  He did his usual trick of removing them when they were almost dry, then hung them up about the house to finish drying.

Thursday:  Leftover muffins have a tendency to just sit in our home and not get eaten.  I've tried freezing them but seldom does Chance want a muffin once it's been frozen.  Solution this day was to take those leftover muffins, removed the paper cups, then reheated in the oven for our breakfast.  We had only one muffin left.

Plans for the day: go out for our birthday meal in the evening hours.  A light lunch was called for instead of our usual midday dinner. 

Plans changed still further when Chance became ill.  I had only an item or two on my sick pantry shelf...Yes, I let my guard down.  It's been some time since we had illness in our home.  At least we had the important over the counter medicinal remedies on hand and a few natural ones as well.  Glad I checked the expiration dates on those items last month.

Rice packs are worth their weight in gold and are so inexpensive to make.  A mateless sock, a cup or two of rice, a microwave are all that is needed to create a nice heatpack to soothe aching muscles.

Friday:  Went through the refrigerator and determined which items needed to be used right away and which should be frozen to prevent spoilage.

Chance still under the weather, so made 1/2 a pot of coffee, just enough for myself.

Had a hair appointment this morning.  Stopped by the local grocery and picked up clear soda, saltines, and a few other necessities before heading home.   Instead of take out for lunch opted for a package of chicken tenders to oven fry while I did a few necessary chores.  One half  pound of tenders was less expensive than any take out meal option and more than enough for two servings.

Home again and I started work immediately.  I breaded the chicken tenders and started them baking, then prepped vegetables for the short ribs that I needed to cook today.  I'll freeze the shortribs dish and that will be a third 'heat and eat' meal in the freezer.

Continuing to attend to my husband who 'isn't sick' but is most definitely not well.  Thank goodness we had popsicles in the freezer! 

Much discussion this year about tax prep we'll opt for.  We've decided we'll definitely not be using the bookkeeper we've used in the past.  All our other options range from FREE to $50 at most.  We'll save $110 this year.

Living Well

I had the best time walking around that antiques mall Saturday and have already planned my next excursion to another antiques store in the same general area.  It was fun to see what people 'collect' because that's pretty much what most of these little booths consist of, overflow of home collections.  What was even more fun was how many times I thought of someone while I was looking things over.  Ricksfarmwife was with me in each booth that had red handled kitchen utensils,  Rhonda with me each time I saw collections of Pyrex, Manuela was with me in each booth that had toile or transferware, Tracey and Tracy when I came across those lovely romantic white furnishings with that Shabby Euro Chic look.  Now the truth is I don't 'know' these women, yet they are most assuredly friends courtesy the wonders of the internet.

My husband is very adamant that when I'm going out to do grocery shopping or doing chores in the household  I am doing a 'job',  and it is work...But what joyful labor it is to know that I have the opportunity to provide a service for my household.  As is any job in my home. I like mopping floors and cleaning baths and the aroma of freshly washed clothes and the tactile feel of clothing that I'm folding.  At the end of the day, I look around and see the neat clean rooms, smell the good aromas coming from my kitchen and I don't think of it as work at all, but as a blessing.

Interesting note from a friend of my husband's this past week:  "What would you do if you had to join the poor and live on less than $50,000 a year?"  That generated a lot of laughter in our household, the idea that anyone would consider that annual wage as 'poor'...And so apparently did any number of other who replied as my husband did, 'No problem, we do it now!'  I daresay to some our annual household income might well look poor, and certainly the government leads us to believe that it is impossible to live well at the same income level we have, but we truly believe that living well is a matter of adjusting your expectations to what you value most and living accordingly.  We are essentially debt free.  We have an emergency fund and we're now focused on another financial goal.  We've raised our children and sent them all out into the world capable of managing their own households on a budget.  The older they get the more sound their decisions are.  An annual income is just a figure we fit our lives into, not something we see as a hindrance to a life well lived.

So seldom do I take time for a craft project anymore...I can't name the number of ideas I lose because I fail to act on them while the idea is fresh.  This week I decided I should apply that "If you do stuff, stuff gets done" motto of Rhonda's to the craft/fun side of my life, just as I do to the work side of my life.  The pay-off came after the crafting session when I sat down Monday and realized that I'd enjoyed the project as much as I did my walk through the antiques mall.  The end result was the same, I had something pretty to add to my household, only the crafting session allowed me to use what I had on hand already.


Rhonda said...

awww, I like chicken livers, just one of 2 will be me though.
When I was growing up, my mom would fry one chicken for a meal and she cooked all the pieces, even the neck, the back,the boney back and the insides. I expect most moms did the same thing while most moms now only cook the boneless skinless breasts. Hmm, how did I get off on this rant?

$50000 is considered poor? Yikes! For people who can't spend their income wisely I guess it is though.

hope you have a nice weekend.

MotherHen said...

WOW!! $50,000 "Poor" then I guess we would be considered "really Poor", hubby's income last year was $37,000 & we do just fine on that. Not saying there are some months that are a little harder than others, we do need to start an emergency fund & I would love to start a Christmas fund too, hmmm some food for thought. I so love your posts, you inspire me!!

Grandma D said...

$50,000??? Gramps and I would be living in clover!! I love chicken livers to and so does Gramps. I often dip them in flour, fry and the have with a big sweet potato cooked in the micro, split and brown sugar and butter on the top. Gourmet food!!

Kay said...

$50,000 huh.... LMHO.... Sorry...**wiping my eyes** How I wish those politicians could come out and live on our income for a year.

And GF... you had me squealing with delight over your cake-taker!! I must post a photo (and will link back here) of the one I got a year or so ago.

We are just too much alike! <3 U!

Manuela@TPOH said...

LOL! I'm the only one in my house that likes chicken livers. Everyone else just goes ewwwww!

Awww that's sweet that toile and transferware remind you of me (wonder why :)

Love the cake carrier! It's so pretty! I love it when functional things are also beautiful.

Well, I imagine 50,000 would be quite low if you lived in some parts of California, Hawaii and NYC. It all depends on where you live really. $50,000 is certainly a good chunk of money in the state of Georgia!


cherry said...

Hi Penny I'm Cherry from Savannah and my girlfriends and I are planing on doing the peaches to beaches we were looking to stay in Perry or Hawkinsville Friday night do you have any suggestions for places to stay or eat?
Have a great evening Hugs, Cherry