Friday, April 8, 2011

Frugal Friday/Living Well

Frugal Friday

I can't believe this week has gone by so quickly!  I have lots to share but that shall have to wait until a little later, I think.  For now, let's focus on the savings this week brought about.

Saturday:  After synagogue, I took myself out to lunch and then off on a thrift store/flea market jaunt.  Doesn't sound like a savings?  Well let me tell  you what I did...I took along my camera and took pictures of all those things that tempted me but weren't really in my spending budget.  And in the end, I spent less than my usual monthly allowance for thrift store shopping, even with lunch added in, because I opted for the child's plate at the restaurant.  I felt pampered and enjoyed my afternoon thoroughly and didn't feel in the least that I was broke or had been too spendy.

I worried over what to make for Chance's lunch and my supper but I'd forgotten all about that extra chicken breast I'd cooked.  That and two slices of turkey bacon, a tomato that was beginning to look a little careworn, some shredded lettuce, and a few radishes and carrots made a lovely salad for us both. I used up the last of the homemade Ranch dressing on my salad so it wouldn't stay in the fridge to spoil.

I opened windows when I got home, for just a little while, since there wasn't much of a breeze.  I left them open long enough to cool off the inside of the house and then shut the windows a couple of hours later.  They were open just long enough to eliminate the need of using the AC to lower the indoor temperature.

Sunday:  Ready for a change for right away I got busy cleaning and clearing and painting the front door a lovely shade of red called "Apple a Day".  That so inspired me that I went about looking for other areas to spruce up.  I have just loads of ideas.  I settled for the easiest solutions though, cleaning (it's amazing how much soap,water and elbow grease can transform) and refreshing areas by rearranging items. 

My favorite find the day before at the flea market was a pair of all cotton pillowslips with a cross stitch pattern floral design.  The perfect touch to lighten up that guest bedroom.  Now I shall have to change out the curtains for a lighter, prettier pair...and I'm thinking that might well be crisp white cotton with ribbon trim. Of course, they will be twin white sheets, the best bargain around for curtains at just $4 per sheet.

For dinner this day I made up a recipe I found in one of my vintage magazines.  It's called Rouladen and is German or Slavic in origin.  I'd seen the recipe years ago in my favorite cookbook but having it right at hand and realizing I had two pieces of thawed round steak in the fridge, a single dill pickle spear on hand, I decided to give the recipe a try.  It was simple as could be.  Salt and pepper the meat and then lay thinly sliced pieces of onion atop and 1 dill pickle spear (I cut mine in half since I had only the one and the meat was not wide).  Then roll as you would a jelly roll and secure with twine or skewers.  Brown on all sides, add more sliced onion to the pan and water to just the top of the rolls and simmer slowly for a few hours.  I served mine with cabbage slaw and pierogi.  I made only enough for two servings so I put the leftovers in the fridge for Tuesday to have as my supper that day.  I was proud to use up that pickle spear and must say that it didn't taste sour but simply tart after cooking...I'm not fond of dill pickles. 

I'd bought bananas earlier in the week to make banana cream pie but they were so green that it was the weekend before I could begin to think of using them.  I made my own graham cracker crust from scratch (honestly it's easy as... well, pie! and tastes so much better than those store bought rock hard ones) and a box of instant vanilla pudding to which I added banana extract.  Layered the pudding and bananas in the pie shell and chilled well.  Now again, I made a small amount.  I have a pie plate that is just about 5 inches in diameter and find that a 4 serving box of pudding mix and 2 bananas filled it up.  We got six servings of banana cream pie from that little pie.

I washed a mixed load of clothes: sheets and towels.  I dried the towels first, since they take the longest and then used the dryer for half the usual drying time to dry the sheets.  It worked perfectly and saved a bit of electricity.

Monday:  I set bread dough to rise right away this morning.  I divided the risen dough into three portions.  I got a 'short' loaf of bread (one that didn't rise quite so high in the pan) a regular loaf of bread and not quite a dozen cinnamon rolls from the batch of dough.  I figured while I had out the flour and oil and yeast and sugar I might as well make up the pizza dough for the next day's dinner as well.

I had leftover fried rice.  I packed up a bowl for Chance's work lunch and then packed the rest into a bowl to reheat this weekend for a fast meal.

Put the pizza crust in to bake while I heated the oven for bread and cinnamon rolls.

Decided to go over my shopping list and scratch off those items that weren't really needed. I also pulled coupons for those items that were going to become loss leader worthy with the sale/double coupon combo.

It was Harvest night in our home and we paid bills, set aside money for our usual categories.  This week we decided to write out a little extra to pay even  more on that load we took out for the car.  We broke a major barrier in that loan this past month and are anxious to hurry through the next one.

Chance informed me he'd been told he had to take days off in May.  I encouraged him to settle upon the dates and we'd go away for a few days of retreat.  "We can't," he said.  "Oh yes, we can, because we've set aside enough for our room."  I didn't tell him I'd also reserved a portion of gift money I was given at Christmas to pay for our second retreat this year if we find it tough going to save through the summer months.

Tuesday:  Grocery day.  Not only do we pray about the grocery list Harvest night, I pray before I leave the house and again upon pulling into the first parking lot.  I truly believe this is what helps me keep focused on our needs and to see unexpected bargains. 

Best buys this day:  Eggland Eggs.  Usually they are more expensive than other brands but this week one store offered them up 2/$4.  I happened to have lots of coupons that would double to $1.  I calculated the space in my fridge and checked expiration dates carefully before stocking up.  I bought six dozen.  $1 a dozen for large eggs is a very good price these days.

I needed vitamins and there are rotating sales on the brand I prefer, buy one get one free.  I found I had two coupons good for $3 off two of the vitamins I needed.  I ended up getting PAID to buy two bottles.

I've begun making it my habit to always scan shelves to look for similar products to the ones I prefer to see if I can find a sale priced item.  Though my homemade bread is very good, Chance prefers I have a loaf or two of store bought bread on hand as well.  He likes a certain whole grain bread and so do I...but it's about $4 a loaf.  Looking about I found a store brand whole grain that looked exactly like that $4 brand and the store brand was less than $2.  Guess which one went into the buggy?

When I packed Chance's lunch I put some of the homemade blueberry yogurt in his lunchbox.  I wasn't sure if he'd like it as well as I do or not, so bought two containers of store brand blueberry yogurt.  I decided I'd really ought to buy more frozen blueberries as well just in case he did like the homemade.  I discovered in this day of continually rising prices, blueberries are now almost $2 a pound cheaper.  Hooray!  I happily bought the frozen blueberries. (Chance did like the homemade yogurt very well, so in future I'll opt to keep some homemade on hand for him).

Chance came home bearing gifts Tuesday evening:  a jar of strawberry jam from his co-worker, Coke points from cases used to refill their stock at work.

I was so careful with my spending this day that I didn't pick up sweets.  I frosted a few cinnamon rolls and set out that evening for snacking.  Chance however, had in mind something chocolate.  I had to direct him to my stash of chocolate chips since the house was lacking otherwise.

I had to have gasoline for my car and opted to buy it two towns over where I did my grocery shopping.  This saved me nearly $.20/gal over our local prices.

I had the dishwasher fully loaded at day's end and so set it to wash on the shortest cycle just before we went to bed. 

Wednesday:  Chance had plans for the day and I'd planned to tend to housework.  My husband, however, asked me to go with him.  He urged me to come along, saying he'd buy me lunch.  Well I'm awfully glad I went.  We went with friends to attend to an errand for synagogue concerning audio needs and then down to a popular chain restaurant.  The special of the day was Chicken Pot Pie, which was to be had for a lesser price...Now we all know that my two favorite main dishes are Chicken Pot Pie and Meatloaf so it was certainly no hardship to me to order the daily special.

Sue and I poked about the gift shop and I found a quilt I really liked for my bed.  It was marked down by 25% and wasn't badly priced but I decided to think about it a bit longer.  They had plenty of the quilt in stock, so I felt no concern at not buying right away.  I may return next week and look at it once more to see if it's still as appealing as I first found it.

An unexpected bonus of this new hairstyle has been the return to wearing earrings.  I have plenty of earrings on hand but often didn't bother to wear them because they weren't visible with my previous hairstyle.  Now I'm 'using what I have' and loving feeling girly.

After our meal out, Chance wanted a light supper.  I knew just the things: the last of the homemade egg salad, on homemade bread.  Oh those sandwiches were so good!

One of my purchases at the grocery were canisters of salty snack items (corn chips and cheesy curls) for just $1 each.  Chance questioned the wisdom of buying canisters over the bags.  I pointed out that the 4.5 ounce canisters cost less than a 5 ounce bag (about $1.99). 

Remembering his longing for chocolate the night before I felt it would be wise to make up a batch of cookies for the cookie jar.  It took only moments to make the bar cookies and I used the last of the graham crumbs I used to make our pie crust over the weekend.  Bonus of homemade cookies?  The delicious smell of the baking wafting through the house.  That's free, lol!

Thursday:  I had three bananas left after making our pies and they were fully ripened.  I decided to make my banana pound cake recipe.  Since I now use loaf pans that would net me two cakes, one for now and one to freeze for later use.  I had all those sale priced eggs and I'd been mindful of the price of butter (and a coupon to combine with sale price) and so had plenty of butter on hand as well as FREE sugar (a coupon/sale combo) and sale priced flour (bought on Tuesday.  I got twenty five pounds for $10).   It seemed a thrifty dessert to make.

I didn't buy flowers this week but fortunately I had some very real looking faux forsythia that I could use instead.  That's the key to silk flowers: they should be in real colors, and look so close to real that you're tempted to water them.  It's worthwhile to pay a bit more for them and then they may be used over and over again.  I bought a single stem two years ago at Michaels' end of clearance sale and paid $4. I have no problem cutting a huge stem into smaller stems either, also more realistic looking. for arrangements.

Living Well

The week has flown past and it's been a busier than usual one.  However, I gave in to Chance's urgings Wednesday morning and agreed to go along on what was meant to be a 'guy day'.   I hate to appear to be tagging along.  My husband very much wanted me to go so he urged me hard.  And I gave in.

I'm so glad I did!  The day wasn't a guy day at all, as my friend Sue came along as well and we ended up having a 'couples' day.  It was such a lovely way to spend time, laughing and eating with friends.  With girl talk and guy talk and couples talk.  With guys looking at audio stuff while girls stayed in the car and chatted about everything and then guys staying in the car while we girls nosed around a shop filled with antiques. 

We drove back roads to the city and back roads back home and saw more of the Middle Georgia area than I think I've seen in twenty odd years.  The woods were filled with dogwoods, there were spring flowers blooming along the roadside.  The sun shone and the breeze blew soft and sweet.

Though the day was long, by the time Chance and I had dropped off our guests and were headed home we couldn't help but exclaim over how pleasant the day had been, how much we'd enjoyed it.  "It feels almost like a holiday." I declared, and Chance agreed.  He looked so rested despite the long and very busy day that I could see he did indeed agree.  The day had been like a holiday for us both.


Tracy said...

Whenever I read your posts, Terri, I am always inspired to cozy up my home, bake or cook in my kitchen and appreciate the simple pleasures in life! :)

Tracy said...

Oh, and *try* to be more frugal, but I think you are Queen in that department! ;)