Friday, April 29, 2011

Frugal Friday/Living Well

Frugal Friday

My day didn't turn out as planned but that's a story for later.  This week began with my worrying over my budget...well, it certainly did keep me VERY mindful of spending and savings to be earned.  That was a GOOD thing!  And when I discovered that I had actually miscalculated the budget and things weren't nearly so dire after all, I couldn't help but think of how much potential savings we could make.

Saturday:  We had a very busy day, and a long one.  We were treated to dinner out, which was a treat.  It was mid afternoon before we headed home.  I'd entertained the dream I'd get to go by the Women's Club Book Sale (the Strawberry Festival was last weekend) but alas, it was late and we were both tired and I was a pushover when Chance asked if I wanted to go home or shop for books...No telling how much money I saved not to mention that extra bookcase I'd no doubt have to break down and buy because I have NO more bookshelf space...

After eating a big meal after 3pm we weren't really interested in a heavy supper.  It was a cereal supper for us, just filling enough without being heavy.

Sunday:  Washed a full load of dishes in the dishwasher.  Decided to limit the use of water in the kitchen for washing dishes and planned to begin a once a day wash up instead of several small sinkfuls daily.  Good for saving water and protecting my poor cuticles and nails.

Made 3 pints of yogurt.  I was thinking about this as I poured up the jars.  That's my second batch of 3 pints this month.  And at a cost of $.40 6oz cup, I'm making a savings of about $5.20 (that's including the cost of the plain yogurt to make the 6 pints). 

"Harvested" a mango that was ripe and which I hadn't taken time to eat.  I cut into chunks and froze to use as smoothie  fruit later.

No special cooking done here, I ate leftovers from the fridge. 

No trip into town for the Sunday paper either, since it was a holiday weekend.  No coupons in the paper.

Clipped coupons and sorted my filed coupons.  As I did this work I set aside coupons I knew I'd want to use on the next grocery trip.

Washed a full load of clothes (combining sheets and towels) and only partially dried the towels, I let them air dry for the  most part. 

Cut roses to bring indoors for a bouquet.  Stuck the trimmed stems down into the big pot outdoors to see if they will root.

Monday:  Chance had an unexpected meeting for the day...He took my car which was easier on gasoline.

Made up a batch of chocolate chip cookies to satisfy sweet tooths and snack needs.  I made about 4 dozen cookies for about $2...made me wonder at myself paying more than that price for just over a dozen store bought, which don't taste nearly so good.

I turned the air conditioner up another two degrees while Chance was gone from home.  It does indeed get warm but it's not unbearable and it's good practice for summer when electric costs soar once again.

Baking cookies on a warm day, with the AC set a little bit higher...The cook got a bit warm!  I turned on the ceiling fan in the breakfast area and set up a free standing fan to create a nice breeze in the kitchen.  I also turned on the vent above the stove to draw out a good portion of the heat.  It was still pretty warm but a lot more bearable.  Next time I'll remember cookie baking is best suited to mornings on warm days.

Pulled an old set of place mats from the linen cabinet that I haven't used in quite awhile.  I have six, which is enough to make three pillows.  Why pillows?  I'm in the process of gathering materials to dress up my deck.  One of my inspiration items was a glazed clay planter a friend gave me that is a chicken.  It so happens that planter has a bit of the same color as my place mats and the moment I realized they might become pillows instead of going into the rag bin, I saw my color scheme coming together.  Since I'd just been looking for pillows, I am even more overjoyed at my savings.

Chance came in late from his meeting...and went right out to mow the lawn.  That meant a light supper, since he'd eaten out and would come in weary and hot.  I made up veggie pizzas, using tortillas as the base and a bevy of leftover vegetables in the refrigerator.  Since  I had no mozzarella, I used up partial containers of Feta and Parmesan on the pizzas.  Not the least expensive choices but definitely tasty and since the Feta was nearing expiration, a timely choice as well.

Planned menus and made sure to keep the 'need to use up' items in sight.  These are canned items about to expire in the coming month.  I have no desire to toss them, might as well throw away cash.

Tuesday: Used the last of the strawberries to make 1/2 dozen strawberry muffins for our breakfast. 

Menu for the day: reheated leftover lasagna.  I rooted hard in the fridge to come up with enough vegetables to make a green salad substantial enough to serve two.  Chance finished the lawn mowing this morning and while he was sure to come in hot and tired, I was determined to finish off that lasagna!  To keep from heating up the house unnecessarily, I reheated the pasta dish in the microwave.

Whenever I can, I wash Queen and King sized bedding at home.  Washed the quilt from our bed this day and partially dried in the dryer...Why all the dryer use of late?  Pollen has been pretty heavy but should end after this week.

Ran to town to pick up bread and came home with...bread!  Nothing more.  Some kind of record that is!

Mixed tuna fish with a diced apple to stretch the cans of tuna and a tomato and a leftover boiled egg as well.  Made a nice big salad for Chance's work lunch using the last of the lettuce.  I didn't dice the egg into the tuna but cut into quarters and used around the mound of tuna salad with the tomato wedges.  Very pretty and to me that adds a great deal to 'plain' food.

Wednesday:  I've needed a new set of sheets for the guest bed ( I have a set of black sheets that were Kay's but dislike that heavy color) and a mattress pad for the same bed.  We were off to the discontinued furnishings warehouse this morning and I found both items for under $40 total...Oh and that also included a pair of panels for the master bath mirrors to soften the sound in that room.  Not bad.

Mama treated for lunch, and I treated us to dessert.  A small sundae for her and a small shake for me came up to less than $5.

Although we took the back roads home, we still kept our mileage low by driving in a more direct route than the major highways follow.

I noticed a big bag of leaves under Mama's carport.  When asked what she meant to do with them, she said they were going to be put out at the curb for the city to pick up.  I asked if I might have them to use as mulch in my potato barrel.  Saved me buying a bag of mulch for that purpose.

Set out foods to thaw in the sink before I left home.  I covered with a heavy towel, which kept the food nice and cold while it thawed.

Turned the AC up still higher since I wasn't going to be home.

I let my eyes wander in a store we'd gone into.  Glad I did.  I found a birthday present there and it was very well priced.

We'd had a heavy lunch so I settled for a yogurt and fruit supper that evening.

Thursday:  I'd planned to combine an appointment time with errands but Mama called and asked for help with something.  I went into town and arrived just as the matter was settled.  Mama suggested we go together to the next town to do my errands and offered the use of her car and to buy lunch. 

Had to pick up prescription refills so a stop at the drugstore.  I bought 1/2 off Easter candy (solid chocolate rabbit, filled eggs), a bottle of nail polish I wanted last time in the shop but decided to wait on buying, and a new pair of nail clippers.  Paid for those items with about to expire Extra Cash Bucks, since sales have been lacking in areas where I'd normally stock up.

Went into the grocery to buy produce and came out with produce...and two plants.  Seriously the plants at this grocery are deeply discounted  quality plants from a local wholesale nursery.  I got a beautiful hanging geranium basket and a 1/2 gallon pot of  wave petunias for $10 for the pair. 

Came home and made up a few work lunches ahead.  My goal was to have three days worth of food prepared and ready to go into the lunchbox, as well as a few items to make easy meals for myself since I am going to be busy the next two days.  Succeeded very nicely.

Washed grapes and cut stems into serving portions.  Gathered up the loose grapes (Chance will not eat loose grapes) and put them in a lidded container, handy to grab when I'm running out of the door for a long day and need to take a snack along.  The other grapes were put into a pretty bowl and set on the bottom shelf of the fridge, handy for Chance to grab and eat. 

Washed a head of lettuce and bagged for later use, some cut and some in leaves.  I wrapped each in a damp paper towel and then put into a zippered bag to keep fresh.

Colored my hair, using the last half of a box of color.  That's more than enough to color my fine, thin, short hair.  Cost to color was about $1.75.  Should last me about six to eight weeks.

Having drawn a blank lately for lunch box ideas, I sat down and made up a list of the things I could make from normally on hand items.  I was astonished at how quickly the sheet filled with ideas.  I'll use that to refer to next time I'm stumped or begin to feel the lunches are boring.

Cooked three chicken breasts (1 package) all at once.  One breast went into lunch box and the other two breasts are ready for salad, and sandwiches.

Poured water into the pan used to cook the chicken.  The extra flavorful broth went into the dogs pans to dress up their dinner.

I waited until very late for supper.  A peanut butter sandwich seemed suitable.

Friday:  Turned air up to higher temperature since I was to be gone all day.  Forgot to turn it back down when I returned extra early, so the added savings is a bonus.

Went to the mall and walked out with the same empty hands I went in with.  The day was a bust.  No speciality coffee, no lunch at the food court, no bargains.  In fact the mall was very nearly empty.  Such a drastic change from when I was there last two years ago.

When leaving the mall I did see a favorite dress shop across the road in another shopping center.  I went in and found a nice pair of very comfortable shorts for $10.

On the way home, instead of stopping for food, I ate the granola bar I keep in my purse and drank a bottle of water (brought from home).

Waited until I was in my hometown before stopping for gasoline and bread.  Lunch bought at the local sandwich shop will do for both Chance and I a meal.  Spent just over $5 for that.

Went into dollar store for bread, as the temptation to pick up little extras is deeply cut.

Living Well

My 'Big Day' ended being a Big Bust...but I'm glad I did it just the same.  This was to be my day.  I was going to the big city to the huge mall.  I had all sorts of plans: took my camera along to record inspiration found on dress mannequins and in store displays, take time to people watch and jot down inspired ideas gained in the little notebook I stowed in my purse, have a pricey coffee, go into the bookstore and browse, look over clearance items, have an international meal in the food court, perhaps bring home a bakery treat from one of the many shops in the mall or have an ice cream...

You've no idea what I went through just to get there.  There was lots of discouragement from myself, lots of head talk about the dangers of the big city, of how much easier it would be to go to the equally distant but smaller mall in the large town where I normally shop.  Then there was the guilt talk: the needless use of gasoline, the expense of eating out, the temptations I'd have to dodge in impulse buys, the neglected house (rolling eyes at that one), the expense of energy required to walk the huge mall.  I finally realized it was fear talking and quietly and effectively shut out the voice that kept telling me I couldn't do this.

I was up early this morning and tackled the housework before Chance was out of the road that leads to our home.  I carefully dressed, did my hair and makeup, prayed (always before starting any pursuit), read my Bible study for the day, packed water, a snack just in case of dwindling energy on the way home, made sure my shoes were comfortable but supportive...I was prepared and at the start of the journey I felt an odd sensation, one I don't experience too much any more...I was excited!  I was going to face my fear and while I could hardly call this much planned and thought about trip on my own spontaneous I did consider it an adventure.  I even skipped breakfast, because I meant to truly imbibe that wonderful pricey coffee when I arrived at the mall.

I was pleased to find a parking spot at an easy to access entrance, one that was easily remembered.  In I walked into what was, two short years ago, a very large well known department store...But it had shrunk.  Literally, shrunk.  Apparently half the top floor of the building had been turned into a deserted space of empty display tables and a bank of restrooms so far off the beaten path of the store that one felt purely eerie wandering to them...

I found no inspiring table settings, no fine china, and no customers save myself on that floor.  I went out into the main mall which was empty too.  I headed in the direction of the new section which had doubled the mall a mere ten years ago and where  I recalled there were many well known stores.  I began to get a little tired on the trek but the many benches that used to dot the area around the railings were gone.  I trekked on and on and through one of the larger department stores that seemed to be doing very well.  They at least hadn't shut down half the building nor were they lacking customers.

And out into the other half of the mall and the emptiness there was shocking.  Frightening.  Blank windows looking out onto barred staircases.  Locked doors.  Holes where signage bearing each store's name used to be. 

I turned and went back into the store I'd just come out of.  I walked on the south side of the upper floor and after trekking for EVER found a lone bench where I sat and rested.  I looked up that side of the floor and realized the whole area was now filled with a pricey department store, a pricey jewelry store, and four or five cell phone and accessory shops.  I went to the big department store at the opposite end and took the elevator to the first floor level and found it empty of shops.  By the time I'd come back to the department store where I'd entered the mall I was so disgusted and disappointed that I went in there and back out to my car.  I saw no point in wasting more time in the ghost mall.

But here's what I discovered this week and today: I like getting out and doing things I don't HAVE to do on my own.  Not like grocery shopping or running errands but just getting out of the house and going somewhere I want to go.  I quickly recalled my previous years experience of driving in the city and maneuvered very well despite some distracted drivers in other cars.  I could walk a mile or more if need be quite easily.  Tired, yes, I was, but I did it all the same.  I didn't see a lot to tempt me and not just because so many stores were empty but because I didn't feel I HAD to buy something just to show I'd been.  It was enough to have done this trip on my own.   And I discovered that despite thinking the city would show me something where style was concerned, I had pretty much the same clothes in my closet (and upon my person) in the exact color waves I was seeing in the stores, so I'm not that far out of fashion!

I discovered that given a choice between a disappointing adventure and giving into fear, I'd rather at least try for the adventure now and then.  I discovered that it's like a holiday to arrive back home early in the day to a clean house with food prepared and waiting to be eaten.  I decided that I will do this again, perhaps not to the mall but someplace I want to go that is a little distance away.  And I discovered that I am incredibly satisfied with my life otherwise.  I'm at that beautiful place where I have all I need and want little more, just enough to create a dream or two now and then.

I take it back.  This day wasn't a Big Bust at all...It was wonderful!

1 comment:

Grandma D said...

You go girl!!! Here's to adventure!!!! Grandma D.