Friday, February 25, 2011

Frugal Friday - Living Well

We've had a glorious week of weather.  I've needed the heater only briefly to put the deep chill to rest, then no more each day.  We have, however, turned on the AC a day or two due to heat build-up indoors on days when smoke was blowing about from the many clearing fires that had been set.  The little jonquils Mama gave me last year have bloomed. I'd forgotten all about them until I looked out of the living room window and saw that tiny little patch of sunny yellow in the flower bed around the Faith Tree.  The forsythia is blooming as well and looks lovely. 

I've a full day of work behind me, and perhaps a bit more work ahead, but for now, I am going to sit down and write and read and REST, before I get up to do a thing more.

Frugal Friday

Saturday:  I was very undecided Saturday about what I'd do after synagogue.  I've made it a habit of late on these alone days to spend time doing something just for me.  My indecision was still ticking off options when my cell phone rang, as I sat at the red light...Chance was ill at work and needed some medicine pronto.  That settled the indecision! 

I went to the grocery store to get required medicine (we had none at home) and something lighter and more suitable to illness for him to eat, as well as few of the specials of the week for our home freezer.  Then I took the medicine  to Chance.  I drove home a different route than the one I'd taken down.  I was so hungry, not having eaten since 7:30a.m.  I contemplated various take outs but then it occurred to me that I had foodstuffs in the insulated bag next to me.  More indecision settled.  I came home and prepared a quick meal.

My purchases at the grocery on sale: Family pack of chicken breasts ($1.19/pound), 2 cans of Carnation evaporated milk (no more since the expiration dates on all the cans was July 2011), apple sauce ($1 a quart), and 2 cans of Spam.  The last three items were meant to 'deepen the pantry'.  I divided the chicken breasts into packages of 2 each, giving me four packages for the freezer and a breast over for my dinner that afternoon.

Sunday:  Chance missed a day of work due to this illness.  Glad I bought enough extra foodstuffs for illness.  Thankfully Chance began to feel better as the day went on.  Not a lot of work went on.  Best way to keep a sick husband quiet and resting is for this wife to sit quietly nearby reading.  I'm  not complaining.  I finished a book.  That's makes 2 in 2 months, lol.

Made out grocery lists, using online ads.  No buying the Sunday paper this day. 

Monday:  Perhaps something in the air...I decided to trim the grocery lists made the day before.  I think the electric bill is to blame.  The bill was lower than last month but the amount per day was slightly higher than month before as well.  Add to that just general talk of increased prices and I can't help but feel I want to cut back where we can.

I did nothing extra special this day.  Washed some delicate items on the delicate cycle of the washing machine, did some routine chores, but mostly I spent a lot of time thinking.  I made out a list of repairs and purchases that simply have to be done this year.  They aren't hard tasks but just odds and ends jobs that are part of good stewardship of a home. 

And I thought of ways I might save more money on groceries, hence the trimming of the grocery list.

Turkey sausage I didn't really like, grape tomatoes and green bell pepper that were on the verge of being tossed, an odd cheese from a gift assortment...doesn't sound like much does it?  Yet I promise you with the addition of balsamic vinegar, a bit of garlic and sweet onion, I had a very nice sauce to go over cheese tortellini.  Thank goodness I'm an imaginative cook, lol.

Put a second container of grape tomatoes in the freezer for future soup/sauce making. 

Harvest Night in our home.  We have typically set aside small amounts of each check towards annual bills.  This day we added an additional amount for routine car maintenance.   

Tuesday:  Grocery day.  I prayed for focus and then looked over my list yet again.  I decided to skip one store before I left home.  

I arrived at the first store and looked over my list yet again.  I decided to price comparison in the one store and perhaps cut two more stores from my list.  Shopping went well, prices compared well and I found only one item on sale at another store was indeed less expensive.  Trimming the number of stores visited, sticking to my list for the one item at the second store, meant I stayed within budget very nicely.

I meant to buy flowers and chose a lovely bunch for $12, but looking about I found a lovely bunch of African violets and hyacinths for $5.99 each.  I settled on an especially large African violet as my flowers for the pay period. 

With so much extra time on my hands, I thought of visiting the local thrift stores  but I decided against it.  I didn't have a list of needs with me, didn't want to just spend randomly.  Instead I headed to pick up my son's birthday gift and head home.

Putting away groceries pointed out even further the need of an auxiliary pantry.  The freezer and the cupboards are both very full.

Wednesday:  Chance made plans to run a few errands.  I had no particular plans for the day, other than making him the usual special breakfast.  We had pancakes and sausage with real maple syrup.  Though I've been making very good syrup, it is not real syrup and this Grade B syrup was less than $5 a bottle at the grocery.  Higher than fake maple syrup?  Yes.  But some things are worth paying a little more for and this is a very very good price for Maple syrup.  Yum!

We meant to combine errands and did up to a point.  I won't mention the poor memory of one female householder that prevented us taking care of at least two of those errands...However, we combined all the rest of our errands.  

Long discussion about money.  Not a bad thing though it didn't start out well.  It was more a matter of discovering just where we are, what we each expect and want to do to get there.  I think we both felt better once we shared our thoughts.  This was a frugal move, though you might well think, "Huh?  Discussing money matter if frugal?"  Yes, it is.  Because if we both aren't aware of the other's expectations savings and spending can be out of whack. 

Back home once again, I divided a family pack of ground chuck.  I put them in zippered bags and mashed them flat so they would fit in the freezer.

I took out the meat cutter and cut the last half of the roast beef into sandwich slices.  I put four packages of meat into the freezer.  I noted that the pre-sliced roast beef we like from the grocery deli was $4 a package.  My roast cost $8.  I put away only half the meat (we ate the rest).  Even so my savings comes up to about $16.

  Supper: cream cheese spread French bread with sliced tomatoes on top (tomatoes were a potential toss item), salt and pepper to taste.  Good eating.

Thursday:  Chance made breakfast: hash browns, fried eggs, toast from end of homemade loaf of bread.

Lunch: Tacos with homemade taco seasoning, cheese I shredded by hand, chopped tomatoes (last of the about to to be tossed) and the last leaves of a head of Boston lettuce.

Packed water bottles to go with us, instead of spending cash at the store for sodas.

After dinner coffee made at home saved the cost at the restaurant.

Friday:  Made bread.

Made yogurt.

Ran a full load of dishes.

Raided the shed for spring decor items.  Found a wreath for the door, some silk forsythia branches, a pretty creamware pitcher.  Centerpiece and front door decoration from those three items.

Used a portion of the abundance of produce in the refrigerator as sides for our dinner.

More thinking about how I can continue to save money both now and in the future...and calculating what savings would be the most beneficial.  A few of my ideas are looking very home canning my own homemade soups or chili.

Scraped last bit of peanut butter out of one jar and dolloped it into the recently opened jar. 

As I put away the peanut butter, I noted that was the last jar.  I need a good sale soon...Or do I?  At hand are two jars of unsalted roasted peanuts that no one will eat.  I could make my own peanut butter from them...more thinking ahead!

Plans for supper: Banana pancakes (using up last of pancake batter, 1 very ripe banana) and sausages (reheat leftovers from breakfast two mornings ago).  

Living Well

Lovely fields of green are showing up all over this month.  The winter crops of wheat will be ready to harvest in a few months time.  This is just the first of the many signs of the season to come.  This week I've seen the red headed woodpecker is back, and an Eastern blue bird was in the Faith Tree as I washed dishes this afternoon.  A crow large enough to pass for a chicken went about picking up bits of fluff scattered from Maddie's favorite rug.  Looks like nest building is underway.

Well it is certainly not just the birds who are busy thinking of nest building.  I'm definitely feeling the creative urges of homemaking myself.  Everything from cleaning, to decorating, to gardening, to saving money is on my mind of late.

In all this creativity and beauty of changing seasons, there's a nasty little pest in my sunny outlook, called pessimism.  It's very insidious and takes a lot of  work to ferret it out and cast it away.  There are so many dire economical reports on the news these days and warnings of rising costs in so many areas that my head swims wondering how we'll manage at all.  Pessimism isn't unhealthy, but it can be if we let it get out of hand.  I had to take deep breaths and get a grip on it. 

Do you know why Pessimism is so difficult?  It has tunnel vision.  It focuses only upon one narrow set of circumstances (i.e. rising costs, an income situation that is wobbly) and nothing else.  Often, the circumstances are perfectly factual and true.  There's no denying that facts are facts.  However, what pessimism doesn't allow for is ingenuity, talent, ability, the broader picture which includes lots of other facts that actually offset the limited vision.

So, prices rise.  Income doesn't.  I change my focus areas and work a bit harder to meet the things I can't change by doing what I can.  I remember that thus far we've managed rather nicely, despite rising costs and income that remains the same.  I recall that courtesy the rising costs we're taking more care in how we prepare for the future.  I get busy and roll up my sleeves and start DOING instead of sitting about moaning.  And before you know it, pessimism is replaced by optimism, a character I am far more fond of and welcome with open arms.


Rhonda said...

really good ideas and attitude in this post.
You know I am normally a doer, this economy has me unsettled a bit because I am not sure exactly what I should do.

Michele said...

What a great attitude. I have been watching "America, The Story of Us" and realized how whiney we have become. lol The women of the past did so much more with so much less.

lislyn66 said...

Just catching up on my blogs, sorry to be a straggler! With all the room renovation I've fallen so behind! I love your posts, they always pick me up when I'm beginning to falter some on my resolve and question how I'm going to make ends meet. Thank you so much Terri!

Manuela@TPOH said...

Yep, doing is much better than sitting around worrying about things! Have you checked out the Grocery Shrink blog? She has some good ideas and recipes too. I think it's interesting to see what other people do to save money and she feeds her family for $50 per person per month. Which to me is amazing! I'm going to shoot for a similar goal this month. We'll see how I do :)


P.S. Wasn't the Swagbucks BDay bash fun! Hope you got all the codes that day!

Tracey McBride ~ Frugal Luxuries™ said...

Lovely philosophy Terri...very sensible as well. I so enjoy your writing, ideas and thoughts.