Friday, May 20, 2011

Frugal Friday/Living Well

Saturday: Standing on the back deck this morning for the goodbye ritual I listened to birds calling.  One I haven't heard in quite a long while, and which I was glad to hear once more called out.  It was a whippoorwill.  I stayed on the deck longer than usual just to  hear that sweet sound. 

I wanted a treat for dinner.  I decided to go home and make my own meal but some little something for dessert would be nice, right?  Ice cream was on sale at the local store (and a handful of other bargains) so I stopped in on my way home.  I bought the ice cream, 10 cans of diced tomatoes for $.50 a can, 5 boxes of Little Debbie treats on sale for $1 each (a price I haven't seen in  a long time on those), and 2 Rib Eye steaks for the freezer.  Having picked up the specials for the week I won't go back in on Tuesday.  That saves me time on a typically busy shopping/errand day. 

My lunch?  A big plate of Nachos Grande, made with items from my refrigerator and pantry.

Food waste alert: Opened the carton of sour cream to find it was a science experiment.  I haven't had anything spoil in ages up on ages but it seems that this past week I've had more than enough to make up for it.

Sunday:  Cloudy and overcast and cool.  I'd decided when I got up that I'd skip yard work this day, but the weather prompted me to go right outdoors and get busy.  It's not that I felt so terribly energetic but it's seldom yard work can be as comfortable as it was this morning.  Since temperatures are meant to be in the 90's by week's end, I'm glad I got a little more work accomplished.

Despite the cloudy weather there was a nice breeze.  I hung out a load of clothes to dry on the line.  I filled the washer full: towels and sheets went in together, along with a handful of 'extras' that had accumulated in the basket overnight.

Washed a full load of dishes in the dishwasher.  Waited until evening to unload, allowing the dishes to air dry.  Then I reloaded and washed the few dishes that I normally wash by hand. I rinsed the dishes to be loaded under the faucet while I was waiting for it to warm to run into the sink.

Filled water bottles and made sure we were well stocked with water in the fridge.  Chance will grab a bottle of water but will not choose to pour from a pitcher.  If it encourages him to drink water to have those bottles waiting, I'll keep filling bottles.

Sat down and went over bill box.  Bills were readied for checks and mailing.  Then I 'looked ahead'.  We've got an extra pay day this month which means over the next three or four pay periods we'll have an 'extra' amount of money we can put towards the car loan or aside as savings.  I noted on my records pages which payments we would apply to the car payment and savings for the next two pay periods.

Went over online grocery ads, noted coupons on the shopping list.

Renewed subscription to All You magazine.  The coupons in this magazine make it high value for me.  One issue saves more than one year's subscription costs.

Made macaroni and cheese for my dinner and since I needed only a small portion, I divided into one small dish for my dinner, one big entree sized dish for the freezer. 

I made cheese sauce from scratch to go over the macaroni.  Since I had little cheddar I used what I had to make up enough cheese to season the sauce. Four sandwich slices of Gouda, a sprinkling of Parmesan Romano blend, the last of the packet of cream cheese I needed to use up, and a wee bit of cheddar just for color.  Ha...In the restaurant they'd bill it as Four Cheese Macaroni and dub it gourmet.  I deem it thrifty to use what you have.

I had about 1/3 of a steamed broccoli crown left from a previous meal.  I chopped that and added into the macaroni and cheese.

I figured out how to reduce my favorite Cobbler recipe.  I made just enough cobbler for one, using up some peaches that were left from a can I opened this past  week.

Sat on the front porch and folded sheets and towels, enjoying the cool breezes (in fact, getting a little chilly).  All the pets came to join me.  That hot cup of coffee certainly seemed extra good after the cool outdoor air.

Monday:  More yard work as the cooling trend continues.  I didn't even break a sweat while working outdoors it was so cool!  And yes, I worked hard.  I picked up the rest of the limbs and piles I'd raked up last week, dug up Spider wort that had spread itself far and wide, loaded up the rocks I'd pulled from the flower bed border.  Discovered too late that the heavily loaded wagon was too heavy for this girl to move.  That will wait upon Alan or Chance, I guess.

Indoors once more, I worked out menus for the week.  Nearly all meals used only what is on hand already.  This led me to trim my previously written grocery list and plan to buy only the super specials at the grocery.

Finished making the pillow covers for my bed.  Next project, now I'm nearly caught up with the other sewing projects,  will be a set of shams, and valances from the same material to further dress up the bedroom a little further.

Cleared the fridge and fed the dogs the mixture of leftovers and end pieces of bread and such that had accumulated and were taking up needed space.  It was a 'free' meal for them as there was enough food they needed no dry dog food.

Made up a batch of yogurt using milk that was just at expiration date.  Three pints joined that in the fridge already.  I've enough yogurt to last me a month now.  If I find I have more than I can eat I'll use in baking as I would buttermilk or sour cream.

While waiting upon the dogs to eat, I sat on the porch and dreamed up a way to use two old bar stools that have just been sitting about. 

Cleaned off the old glider that has been sitting abandoned in the yard because I was told it was 'broken'.  I managed to slide two parts back together that had come undone and lo and behold it works just fine.   It needs a couple of new nuts and bolts that are missing and I want to paint it a fresh fun color, but then it's going onto the deck to use as seating.  My new pillows made for the deck will be super cute on that glider.

Ordered a free quart of Glidden paint after a friend sent me a link.  I just did get in on that deal.

Harvest night. After discussion we agreed to add three new sub categories to our checkbook savings. I pity the poor bookkeeper who ever tried to sort out our checkbook to balance it, because I find it tough enough to do and I know what's what! I keep track of our separate little sub accounts in a notebook so we know just what we have and where.

Made an awesome pizza using fresh home grown basil, fresh tomatoes (starting to wrinkle just a little) and a homemade crust, plus fresh mozzarella.  It was so tasty and good.  I made an extra crust to put in the freezer for a quick pizza one night when we're rushed.

Tuesday:  Meant to go shopping for groceries, but Chance called and asked me to wait until the next day since we were going to be in the area getting the car serviced.  Instead I went back to bed and got a little extra sleep.  What a luxury that was!

After I piddled about the house a bit, I went off to run a few local errands.  I took off trash and then cleaned up my car at the car wash in the next town.  I've been neglecting that poor car of late.  Not a good thing.  With our country lifestyle the dust and dirt get into the car's cracks and crevices, gets ground into the interior carpet...I've got to return to a bi-weekly clean and vacuum.  I was encouraged to really do this as it cleaned up beautifully and looked almost new all over again.
Went to CVS and used ECB to purchase this week's specials.  Walked out with $30 worth of goods for just $5 out of pocket and earned another ECB.

Went by the bank and took care of banking needs. 

Stopped at the local diner and bought hamburgers.  That cost me a whole $2.  I saved one of the burgers for Chance to have when he came in that evening.

With the lovely cooler weather we've had windows open for the past three days.  I opened them most afternoons, because honestly the mornings were too cold!  It was so nice to hear the breeze in the leaves.  I did chuckle as around 5pm it was necessary to begin shutting windows once more as the late afternoons cooled off a lot.  Who would have thought I'd be too cold in May?  Sure did appreciate the savings on electricity!

Wednesday:  We've been setting aside a little money every pay period since our last service on the car to cover the oil change we'd scheduled.  I'm so glad we did.  We had a minor replacement that needed to be taken care of right away and that was a bit extra.  Thankfully we were able to use a portion of our home maintenance fund to take care of that.  It's a lovely thing to have money at hand to cover needs and unexpected needs too.

Off to do our grocery shopping.  My list was short, but the car was packed as full as usual after shopping.  Most of my purchases were stock-ups on some exceptional deals.  Sodas were on sale for $1.98/6pack for 16 ounce bottles.  I bought almost the limit on those.  Then a clerk stopped me mid-aisle to tell me that the great buy on milk $10/10 half gallons was even better than advertised due to a shipping mistake.  The dairy department was desperately moving out those extra gallons and half-gallons of milk due to that error.  Half-gallons were $..75each and gallons were just $2.  I bought the limit on the half gallons of milk.  I was pretty sure I had enough room to fit them all in the freezer.

Off to Walgreens where we stocked up on coffee on sale.

We kind of ran out of steam at the grocery after our long morning in the dealership waiting on the car.  Over in the deli I spied a sign that said if we bought a Nathan's hot dog and 20 ounce Coke we could get a second hot dog free.  Chance ordered two of the deals.  When I discovered the sodas were warm, I asked for and received two cups of ice free to cool the sodas.  We had an impromptu parking lot picnic and boy was that good!  We opened up the windows and sat there enjoying the unseasonably cool breeze and the fresh hot food and cold soda.  It lent a rather peaceful air to a morning that had felt rather rushed.

Home once more, I barely got groceries unloaded and put away in the kitchen.  I found I didn't have enough room for that 8th half gallon of milk and I had more than a gallon in the fridge with the extra I'd poured off each half gallon to allow for head space to freeze.  Fortunately Alan came along and agreed to take that half gallon home with him. 

We worked in the yard once more this afternoon.  Alan mulched, trimmed trees and dug up the last of the running spider wort.  I potted the six packs of annuals I'd bought last week, then repotted the geranium and moved volunteer petunias from one pot to the strawberry jar of petunias.  Now every single thing I bought the last two weeks has been planted....that means I can buy more, right?  What a bonus to harvest all those volunteer petunias for the pot.

I cautioned my husband and son to stay away from a volunteer plant by the back steps.  It's Queen Anne's Lace, something I've tried to grow here for years.  I guess the dogs brought in the seed on their fur or the wind blew it along until it lodged there.  There are four or five plants of Queen Anne's lace coming up.

Impromptu supper made up of a deli roasted chicken and odds and ends from freezer and fridge.

Another day of open windows.  The weather is due to break on Thursday but oh how nice it has been!

Thursday:  A morning of sleeping in.  I didn't rise until nearly 9am.  I made pancakes for breakfast and served them with real maple syrup.  I've found Grade B bottles of syrup for just over $5 this year and I try to keep one on hand for special mornings.  Luxury this week, that's what! 

Lunch time meal made up of leftover chicken...Just really good sandwiches and chips but it put those leftovers to good use.  The carcass I put in the freezer to make soup with later.

Packed a snack to offset hungries while Chance practiced worship music this afternoon.  Good thing, as he accepted an invitation to coffee with Rabbi afterwards.

We got a new key for our car on Wednesday but it's not working at all properly.  I'll be taking it back.  Chance wasn't sure they'd accept it but I pointed out that since the error code is coming from the computer chip in the key there should be no problem.  They'll fix it or give us a refund, one.

We went over the repair ticket for the car.  The dealership printed out a list of upcoming items that would need to attended to.  The service manager suggested breaking the items down over the next two oil changes.  We went a step further.  We broke them down into the repairs our son could do and those we felt really need the dealership's expertise.

UGH!  Ants!  Found them in a food item we had set aside on a kitchen counter as well as in our trash cupboard.  Knowing how they are, I went right ahead and sprayed along the seam of the wall and cupboard and then along the bottom edge of each cabinet to keep them from infiltrating the rest of the cabinets.  That's a line they won't cross and yet my foodstuffs are perfectly safe from the spray as it doesn't penetrate the cabinet itself.

Friday:  We were up fairly early this morning.  Chance washed a full washer of clothes this morning. 

Our breakfast was a simple bowl of cereal.  That yogurt I made the other day didn't set up as well as the last batch (I'm finding the secret is to use a bit more yogurt starter than the original recipe suggested.  Duly noted and will do in the future).  I poured it over a bowl of cereal for myself this morning.  I'll make a fruit smoothie with some of it and use some to make up a batch of biscuits or scones.

Chance noted a line of ants along the ceiling.  He grabbed the can of spray and sprayed a line around the top of each of the upper cupboards.  That should certainly keep them from stealing my harvest.

Washed a full load of dishes.  I am getting quite expert at recognizing how to squeeze in one more item without overfilling to the point that nothing comes good and clean.

Used the last of a bottle of ketchup by rinsing out the tad that wanted to stick with a little water. 

Planned ahead...We ate pizza last night, a meal out not in my menu plan for the week.  Since that's the second time this week, I thought I'd just go ahead and cook the portion of our meal for tomorrow that will take the longest to prepare.  Now I need only to reheat the main dish with the FREE Philadelphia cooking cream I got at the grocery this week and boil water to cook pasta.  We should be eating in under 15 minutes Saturday after we get home.

Dug about in refrigerator and double checked everything.  I found two bell peppers that were beginning to wrinkle a tad, so I went ahead and seeded them and chopped to put in the freezer.  

Had to toss an eggplant, two zucchini and a tiny portion of a yellow bell pepper.  sigh.  Money out on that deal is only about $1 but I still hate waste.

Living Well

Probably one of the best gifts I've given myself this year was to make over a portion of the guest room as a personal crafting/work area for myself. 

This week the space has been used for the sewing machine, as I plowed my way through one project after another.  As I worked there the other evening, ripping out seams I realized how much pleasure I took in sitting near the window looking out into the yard.  I watched birds hop about, saw the cat as she slinked through intent upon the hunt,  saw Maddie come barreling by as she ran across the yard (she does that just for fun now and then).  I watched the wind blow in the trees and found myself in a dreamy sort of state.  With the windows open each day it was even more pleasant.  I felt really, as though I were invisible behind the window screen and yet part of every little tableau that played out under the trees just outside the window. 

Peace sank deep into my bones as I pulled threads and rematched fabric for further sewing.  Peace sank deep and I felt quiet and full, content in my own little bit of the earth.  The human world is just the push of a button away from us these days.  I often feel bombarded, even here in my own home, as news is pushed and shoved at me from computer screen and television and a husband who at times forgets he's cutting back on debates and politics and news programs.  It's shoved at me in stores and in traffic and in people who can be disturbing in their intense push to live. 

But this quiet peace and calm that settles around me as I work next to the open window in my home, surrounded not by screeching announcers or honking horns but by the rustle of leaves and the chirrup of a bird and the soft tread of a cat...well that's really the world I belong to, not the busy pushy one forced upon me.  I need that space in my home to remind me of this fact, of what the world is at core still, under all that other stuff.

1 comment:

Heidi said...

Well said Terri! And I am so happy in my heart that sitting in your space with your sewing machine can give you that peace. Enjoy it!

Hugs from Holland ~