Friday, May 13, 2011

Frugal Friday/Living Well

Frugal Friday/Living Well

Another week just past and I am a weary woman. It has been work, work, work all week long this week...well except Mother's Day and that was my day after all!  Still a lot was accomplished this week and it all took some serious thinking to keep costs down. 

I'm including Living Well moments in each day's frugal doings.

Saturday:  Shabat service was followed by Oneg, a meal that is served  monthly following the first sabbath after new moon.  I thought and thought about what to take.  Finally decided upon Turkey and dressing.  I'd found half a turkey breast (cooked and frozen) in the freezer, made dressing from leftover cornbread I'd put in the freezer.  I crumbled the corn bread, added homemade chicken broth (from that freezer, are you catching the theme of this main dish?) chopped celery leaves and onion.  Baked until almost done and then topped with sliced turkey.  Wrapped the whole while hot in a thick towel, put into my insulated shopping bag and it was still hot when we were ready to serve dinner.  Works like a dream every time.

The rest of the meal was an easy salad: canned peach slices with mayonnaise and shredded cheddar on a bed of lettuce.  Chilled cranberry sauce and a reused plastic juice bottle filled with cold tea I'd made at home.  Any guess as to where the Banana Poundcake served for dessert came from?  That's right!  That lovely freezer.  This was without a doubt the easiest meal I've prepared to take anywhere in a long while. 

We were offered and accepted BBQ chicken sandwiches from the wealth one of the other members had leftover (planned for a larger crowd than we had).  I put them in the freezer for work lunches later in the week.

Had leftover turkey and dressing and made sure to wrap well and put right into fridge for dinner on Monday.

A long day and a night short of sleep added up two tired folks.  When we came in we unpacked foods and then crawled right into bed for a nap.  Best 25 minutes sleep I've had in  a long time.  I felt so much better afterwards.

Our supper this was cereal and toast.  We never want a heavy evening meal when we've had a more than substantial dinner midday. 

Sunday:  I'd bought Mama's Mother's Day gift earlier in the month opting to pay for something she'd bought for her home, since I knew it was something she'd wanted for some time. I was with her when she started to purchase it.  The money for this gift came from my personal savings where I stashed cash I received for Christmas.  That little fund has been handy for all sorts of nice things.  I'm so happy I stashed it and didn't squander it all at once.

Although all my children called this day, I was alone.  Chance worked two 12 hour shifts back to back (24 hours straight)...Some of this extra earnings will be set aside as gasoline money for our vacation.

Visited with Granny.  Took off trash since I was going out anyway.  Also dropped off some mail that needed to go out, and picked up a paper, too. 

Didn't much feel like cooking my own dinner.  The store where I stopped for the paper has a food counter and fried chicken was reasonable.  I did splurge a wee bit...I bought a bottled lemonade, a treat I indulge in only now and then.

Since all roads led homeward and were the same distance, I opted for the slow country roads well away from the main highway.  Such a beautiful day and a really lovely drive past country churches,
homes where families were piling out of cars greeting moms and grandmothers, some carrying dishes of food in their hands as they went up the steps.  Wild roses bloomed here and there and the breeze caused the trees, which have been fully leafed out for weeks, to sway nicely and created that lovely liquid sound that leaves and wind make together.

Spent the afternoon watching my Netflix selection: Season Two of Larkrise to Candleford.  I am so enjoying this series!  I get lost in the scenery, the costumes and the story lines.  It's one of the rare programs I'd say was as good as reading.

Monday:  Up early to make breakfast for Chance when he came in. I'd meant to make a big meal but thinking ahead in my day, I realized we had a heavy meal planned (leftover turkey and dressing) so we had a lighter meal of cheese toast and juice.

Made three pints yogurt.

Washed a full load of clothes.

And a full load of dishes.

My hands are looking better since I started washing dishes only once a day.  Since we load most of our dishes into the dishwasher this isn't a big problem.  As well we're saving water, by filling the sink only once a day and rinsing only one full sink at a time.

Dinner: leftover turkey and dressing and pear salad.  Added steamed broccoli since we had some in the fridge that needed to be used up.

Set up computer in the craft room and went to work on new series and next issue of PennyAnnPoundwise Newsletter.  Making good use of my home space to give me a quiet spot to work has been very beneficial. 

Another benefit of that workstation?  It looks out into the back yard  right into a shady area.  Watching birds in search of insects and seeds was so calming, and allowed my mind to rest periodically.  I saw Brown Thrasher, Oriole, Rust Sided Towhee, Cardinal, Mockingbird and Wren.

Cleaned shower. I love using toilet bowl cleaner on the shower.  In fact,  I use Lysol toilet bowl cleaner in the sink and tub too.  It cuts right through soap scum.  I can put a little on a sponge, wipe over the walls of the shower, leave for five minutes, come back and wash away scum with only minor scrubbing.  I usually buy the cleaner when it's on sale b1g1Free using a coupon to save still more money, for a cost of about $1 a bottle.  A bottle lasts several months.  Saves work, money and TIME.  Triple play savings.

Chance hung a few clothes to dry, put a few in the dryer until almost dry and then hung them to dry.

Had windows open and fans running until a bit past Noon.

Tuesday:  On my own most of the day, Chance went off to play golf.  First thing was light housework (all that work done on Monday saved lots of steps on Tuesday). 

Put a frozen roast into the crock pot with a mix of root vegetables from fridge and pantry.  Cleaned out several bottles of BBQ sauce, syrup, mustard, etc and made a tomato-y topping for the roast, which also gave enough moisture to the dish to steam the vegetables and roast nicely.

Set out meat to partially thaw for rest of week's meals.

Too steamy to open windows.  I opted to dry clothes on the line rather than turning on the dryer indoors.  Hung two loads (sheets and towels) to dry.

Spent the day sewing...or trying to.  Every project started ended the same way: I ran out of thread.  Made out a list of items to shop for the next day, did what work I could. 

Packed Chance's lunch while he was gone.

Sorted out fridge.  Found we had a bowl full of grapes that fell off the stem under the two remaining stems.  Chance doesn't like grapes that fall off the stem...but I'm devious and frugal, too.  I knew my husband loves chilled grapes, that it was hot outdoors and he'd come in steaming.  When he came home, I sat him down with a nice cool drink and a big bowl of chilled grapes, conveniently off the stem.  Not a grape left!

Boiled a half dozen eggs.  Some for egg salad, one for chicken salad, two for my lunch...The shells and water I boiled them in went into waiting plants to give them a nutritious drink.

Neither of us was sure what the other meant to do for lunch and we both ate a light snack and then waited...About 4pm we both decided we didn't want to wait for supper.  Our roast was perfectly done by that time.  I added a crisp green salad.

My unfinished projects (photo taken after I shopped for thread on Wednesday).
While working on piecing together pillows (the top of the stack) I discovered the fabric I'd chosen to back them was actually a silky sort of fabric.  Not at all what I had planned for a pillow to use outdoors.  I dug about in my fabric stash and round a red and white gingham with a border print down both edges.  I cut off the border print and then cut my squares.  I think this is a much better match than my original choice of blue and white gingham and this fabric is a nice cotton similar to the napkins I'm using as the pillow fronts.

Wednesday:  After a brief bout of housekeeping, I went off with Mama for our Wednesday shop and lunch.  We went to Walmart which suited both our shopping needs.  My Walmart still has a fabric/craft section and it was the perfect place to buy threads.  I remembered my desire to put a ribbon border on the curtains for the guest room and bought the ribbon and matching thread.  I stuck pretty hard to my list.  I  had only one deviation which was these:

They are plastic salad plates from the Better Homes and Gardens collection.  I thought they were perfect to hang on the wall in this room.  You can see my bedding set below and the ribbons I bought for the curtain borders. 

Those plates were under $2 each and so were the ribbons.  Not bad for decorative touches'.

Half a ripe mango, yogurt and ice cubes made a breakfast smoothie.  I froze the second half of the mango.

When I got home I put these items on the bed and suddenly thought of another children's tea set I'd tucked away.  It would help fill out the empty shelves of the whatnot shelf, I thought.  And so it did.

After playing about with my pretty things, I decided to do some kitchen work.  I made up a pan of biscuits.  Some for breakfasts during the week, some for an evening snack that evening. 

Cooked three small cubed steaks and cut two to fit some of the biscuits.  Used one piece to make a sandwich to go into the work lunch box.

Turned the AC up to 80F while I was out.  Forgot to turn it down when I came it didn't go down to 76F until about an hour before Chance came home.

Too tired to bake.  Now's the time to pull out one of those super sales priced packages of cookies I bought.  Filled the cookie jar without much effort and for under $1.75.

Thursday:  I decided to approach the yard work the same way I approach big jobs inside the house.  Choose an area and work on it.  I began by pruning trees and seedlings right around the house, then went back and picked up all the branches and stacked them.  Raked under the sweet gum in the back yard.  Then I sat on  the deck and noticed the paint daubs on the red shutters.  I've been looking at those daubs for three years or more.  I went inside and got a scrubby sponge and soap and water and went to work.  Removed a good portion of the paint daubs.

My bits of work took about three hours.  Alan came by about an hour after I'd done all I could.  He dug up a rose bush that needed to be moved pronto.  Mentioned that I'd decided to pot the bush until I can settle it to an online friend.  One of her friend's is a landscape gardener.  She sent word to cut it back to the root and let it put out all over again.  Removing the limbs and leaves allows the roots to really focus on growing.  Free advice is priceless when you really want to save a plant!

Alan's fee for his share of yard work (another two hours worth and he accomplished way more than I did) was dinner.  Not a hardship since I cook a meal most every noon anyway. 

A leftover chicken breast from that meal was chopped for Chicken Salad.

After Alan left, I cleared the kitchen, made Chance work lunch for Friday and then settled into my chair and took a much deserved nap. 

Promised Chance a special treat when he came in  that night because the day was HOT.  95F with 59% humidity.  Ugh.  His treat?  A frozen Coke, made with ice cubes and a 12 ounce soda and a tray of ice cubes.  That made enough to give us both a treat at day's end.  I pay about $1.49 for one of the small frozen Cokes at fast food or gas stations.  Our cost?  Less than $.40 for two medium sized drinks.

Friday:  Some mornings the alarm is extremely annoying...Nevertheless the day was begun and so was the work of the day. 

The mango I froze on Wednesday, more homemade yogurt and a cup of pineapple chunks I needed to use up made this mornings breakfast smoothie.  So good and filling.  No added sugar and 3 fruit servings for this day.

I knew I needed some fresh produce and fruit, eggs and a loaf of bread to go through the weekend.  I've been reading thrifty blogs and been re inspired about coupon shopping...I looked at sales of various stores, sorted coupons, gathered the best of the best for the day's shopping and off I went.  I also had plans to spend a set amount of money on mulch and plants for the house.  And I had a thrift store agenda based upon a change of decor in the living room.  Tall orders for a day that must also include my pre-Shabat cleaning for the weekend, planning meals for the weekend, etc.

I thought long and hard about my route before leaving home. I had no desire to waste gasoline.  I knew I'd need to fill up the car and was not anxious to see that total.

First I ran errands here in town, going by the bank and post office, dropping off trash at the dumpster.
Then I drove two towns over to a thrift store that was on my route.  Walked in the front door, went right to the section I needed to check, found one item, walked down two aisles and found a second item.  Both are perfect for my living room and I had no need to look further.  Spent $3.

Next was Goodwill.  I look for several things when I go to Goodwill.  I always check the books.  Today found two, for $4.   Nice hardback editions, too.  Then I always wander down the furniture aisle.  Sorely tempted today by a big outdoor metal table (the grid sort of metal) and eight chairs for $60...Realized it was the lifestyle the table represented and had nothing to do with my own life...sigh.  Saved that $60 anyway.  Sometimes it pays to really think about why we want something.  I liked the idea of having guests seated around the table.  Reality: guests usually want us to be the guest rather than drive all the way out to our home.  I live in Georgia.  An outdoor table would be used only about 4 weeks out of the year.

I always look for nice baby blankets.  I donate these and try to find the ones that were obviously not used.  I found a like new receiving blanket today for $1.  While digging through the linens I came across four brand new packets of matched napkins, two to each packet.  They were the right color to match two sets of place mats I already have.  The napkins were less than $2 per packet.

My real goal today was to find pillows to go into those pillow covers I was making.  I needed a small set of pillows for the front porch and larger ones for the deck chairs.  Why buy brand new pillow forms to put into outdoor pillows?  If I forget them and they get wet or Maddie takes them out to the yard, I'll be a lot sadder if I paid more for them.  I found 2 pillows for $2 each. Satisfied, I left that store only a little lighter in pocket and richer in goods.     

Next shopping took me to the home and garden center.  I needed to buy mulch, wanted six packs of potting plants, and herbs.  I had some of that Christmas gift money set aside for these purchases.  I bought 8 bags of mulch, six packs of portulaca, three colors of petunias, one of impatiens and one of salvia.  These are all hardy, long lived annuals.  They will survive our heat and reseed and bring on new plants as the season goes on and on. 

My herbs were basil, sage, thyme.  I spent far more for them than for the six packs but I should be able to harvest from these plants all summer and well into the autumn months, possibly even into winter before the plants begin to die back.

Next stop grocery store.  I bought buy one get one free deals on grape juice and cat food.  Found an unadvertised b1g1 deal on bread, too.  I knew I had plenty of room in the freezer so I bought the two loaves.  I walked the perimeter of the store.  I got a bag of apples (far less expensive to buy a bag of apples than to choose individual apples.  A bag cost $3.99.  Individual apples of the same variety cost $1.99 a pound.  That's about two apples. 

Another good buy this week was seedless watermelon.  I love watermelon and cucumbers.  Both have a vehement dislike of  me.  In summer, I will always buy seedless melon even though it's a bit more costly than regular melon.  I bought a small mini melon today for $4.  This is what I did with it.
First I cut into quarters. Then I slice it.  I set aside the end pieces.

Now I have a big bag of wedges ready to chill.  My family loves to have a wedge or two for impromptu summer snacking.  I scooped the melon out of the end pieces and put them in a container to send in Chance's work lunch.  Working atop the cloth is much less messy than trying to cut the melon a cutting board or counter top.  The cloth absorbs the juices that run out of the melon and I need only to rinse the cloth and then wipe the counter.   

Doesn't it look like a much more substantial purchase when it's all divvied up like that? 

I didn't make any impulse purchases at all in the grocery.  That is a record for me!  Think of all the money saved in that store alone, just by sticking to my list and buying nothing but what was on it.

Last stop CVS.  Milk there is more expensive than at the grocery, but this week was a little lower and had a $1 ECB offer.  That made it less than the cost of grocery store milk.  I had ECB I needed to spend.

I noted a sale on a brand of razors: b1g1 50% off. Normally I pay no attention to those sorts of deals but I'd just sorted coupons and recalled a coupon that read b1g1 Free.  I paid less than $1 a package for the razors.  The amount spent used the last of my expiring ECBs. 

Bought toothpaste and toothbrushes on sale as well.  Used coupon for both items.  Earned ECB back on the two purchases.  Final cost to me worked out to $0.  That's my sort of shopping.

Was pleased to note gasoline had dropped nearly $.60/gallon since Sunday.  I filled the car up.  I'd heard oil prices were on the rise again and I'm pretty sure that means gasoline is going right back up.

It was late.  I was famished, and hot and miserable.  I wanted to get something to eat and something cold to drink, but decided to drink the water I brought from home.  I came home and heated up one of those BBQ chicken sandwiches we'd put in the freezer over the weekend.  Settled with a glass of iced water, sandwich and peaches left in fridge.

Put that new gallon of milk in the freezer since I have almost a full gallon in the fridge.

Spent the last part of the afternoon preparing work lunches for Saturday and Sunday, planning meals ahead for the weekend and cleaning house.  It was so nice to sit down on the porch with Maddie while she ate, sip my iced water and rest.  Satisfaction filled me.  I'd put in a hard week of work and I couls see my accomplishments inside, outside and in the checkbook as well.  Flowers nodded at me, basil and sage scented the air.  A nice breeze kept gnats and mosquitoes at bay.  Lovely end to a busy day and a busy week.


Tracy said...

How is the milk after it's been frozen? And does the bread get stale after having been in the freezer?

BelleDiabolique said...

We used to freeze milk and bread, and the bread was always fine. Gramma would just set it on the counter to thaw.

Frozen milk just has to be shaken a lot. The water and fat separate. Also, be careful about your jugs. If there aren't dents in the side of the milk jug, you might want to open it and pour about 1/4 - 1/3 of the gallon into a different container, because just like water, it swells when it freezes and can bust.