We've had a lovely week. We're fresh back from lovely old St. Augustine and beautiful Crescent Beach on Anastasia Island...Now go on and ask how on earth a vacation can be 'frugal'...And listen as I tell you how easy it was to be leisurely and frugal!
Saturday: Our usual Saturday of hurrying to synagogue and coming home later. Chance offered to buy dinner on our way home. He decided to stop for a Subway sandwich. I'd left my coupons folder in the car anticipating our upcoming trip. I had coupons for Subway. We bought two sandwiches for the price of one.
It's sometimes hard to spend the afternoon resting when you know so much must be done...but it's truly a frugal thing to rest when you have the opportunity because being all worn out at the start of a new week makes no sense at all! It's when we let our guard down and fail to rest properly that we begin to make the sort of financial choices that eat away at our savings and eventually lead to debts we might have avoided.
Sunday: Chance worked an extra shift.
I went to work on a stack of mending I'd meant to tend to and put off. I needed the clothes for our trip and had tired of continually having to reach for something else when I reached into my closet. I hemmed, sewed on buttons and repaired some seams that were fraying.
My dinner midday: one chicken breast cut into pieces and stir fried with mushrooms, onions and peas. I cooked four ounces of linguine and added a container of Italian Herbs Philly Cream that I'd gotten free with a coupon. This was very good and I had more than enough for a second meal. I put leftovers in the freezer to save for when we return home.
Spent the afternoon packing clothes, personal care items, and a few dry foods items. Chance asked me not to take along a lot of food but we were agreed that some items were more than worthwhile to carry with us. I could hardly hope to find six packs of soda for $1.98 or a box of cereal for $1. Other items I packed: salt and pepper, olive oil, steak seasoning, foil, a few zippered bags for food storage, an onion. These were items on hand that would be far more expensive to buy.
I'd asked Alan to come feed the dogs. I took a bit of extra time preparing bags of pre-measured food to be doled out. This kept the dogs from being overfed and food wouldn't be lost to ants.
My last task at end of the day was to make out a list of items to be tended to or packed the next morning. I knew this would be a huge savings for me in both time and peace of mind.
Monday: Checked off the items on my list one by one. Some of the items included on that list:
putting unused loaf bread and milk into the freezer to keep it from spoiling while I was gone. As I put milk in the freezer, I pulled out a frozen half gallon and two frozen steaks. This would keep our cold foods cool and give us milk (and a meal) for the visit. I knew with whole milk I could also use it in my coffee in place of half and half.
Packed a lunch of sandwiches, potato sticks, and apples.
We were so busy getting the pets fed, packing the car and getting dressed that I completely forgot about breakfast! I didn't even realize it until we were underway. "Did you eat anything this morning?",Chance asked me...We stopped for biscuits in the town where we hit the interstate. We kept breakfast simple. No need to start the trip with a big expense right away and since we'd be inactive a simple biscuit breakfast was easy on us as well. Some might see that meal as an unnecessary expense, but being hungry and grouchy would have only led to quarrels. Much better to spend a little to offset unnecessary stress.
Stopped for a picnic lunch in an unusual place...It was a hospital outside a small Florida town. We knew the area was shaded and took advantage of picnic tables under the trees to have a quiet lunch, and stretch our legs. It was a lovely area, with moss hung oak trees to shade us. And best of all it was free.
Chance stopped to fill up the car with gasoline after we got off thee interstate. He used a higher grade of gasoline than I'd have bought, but I'm beginning to see his wisdom. We increased our mileage by 7 miles per gallon which more than offset the additional cost.
Chance stopped for KFC on our way into St. Augustine. He felt after traveling all day we didn't need to be busy making dinner too. We got two meals from that bucket of chicken and sides that came with it.
I'd brought enough water from home to make coffee (packets provided by the condo). I set the still frozen milk on the counter to let it thaw. When Chance asked about breakfast I pulled out the box of cereal. True, we had no toast but we had cereal and fruit. I put aside some of the biscuits from our chicken dinner. Toasted, these would do well for breakfast bread. It wasn't necessary to leave the condo to go to the grocery, which was a huge blessing after riding most of the day.
Tuesday: Always looking for something lovely and FREE, I find sunrise and sunset worth noticing on the beach. It might be vacation but we were up by 6am and on the balcony facing the horizon. We were rewarded with a gorgeous sunrise.
We went into Old Town after breakfast. We had a couple of requests for our trip. Kay loves Flagler College and wanted a new hoodie from their legacy shop. A friend asked us to buy a jar of Pumpkin Butter at a speciality shop. We were happy to bring goodies back for others, but I was treated as well. There's a little coffee shop just around the corner from that speciality shop and we always get coffee there at least once during our visit.
While purchasing the hoodie we chatted with the store clerk. She asked questions and we answered and made small talk. Just our being open and friendly apparently was a bonus to her. She threw in a free reusable shopping bag from their stock. I'll be sending it along with the hoodie to Kay who can use it when she's out shopping.
It was quite warm and I brought along a bottle of water to stave off dehydration.
We headed from Old Town to the grocery. We were very thoughtful about what we purchased. Half a loaf of bread seemed sufficient and we chose a deli chicken and a packet of hot dogs, potatoes to bake and a small can of vegetarian baked beans. We discussed what we had at the condo and then we allowed ourselves a couple of splurges: cream cheese cinnamon muffins, eclairs. We also bought water ( I dislike the taste of the water on the coast) to piece out what we'd brought from home.
Back at the condo we put away groceries, spent loads of time on the balcony overlooking the sunny beach and enjoyed the breeze. Meals were kept simple and easy to prepare (broiled steaks and micro baked potatoes, bagged salad for dinner. Hot dogs, leftover slaw and beans for supper). I'd brought books from home and settled down to read in between meals and cleaning up.
Sunset on the front balcony, overlooking the Mantanzas river which was visible from our floor. That spot was far quieter than the ocean side of the condo. I noticed mostly women gathered out there to watch the sunset. No one spoke. It was so peaceful and quiet and I think it's what we all appreciated most!
Wednesday: Our anniversary. Breakfast was made for me by my husband and a very good meal it was too. He made his speciality of Fried Eggs.
There's a ride we love down the coast line that we never fail to take. It's all wild beaches and ocean along A1A to Ormond Beach. I packed bottles of water, so no need to stop along the way to buy anything to drink. We went to enjoy the views and so we did. We daydreamed and let ourselves be practically impractical in them. It was lovely! I remember my Susan's advice once upon a time "Dreams don't have to be edited for practicality." She was so right. I think more inspiration is born by opening the mind to what appears an impossibility rather than just the possibilities.
Chance surprised me by driving back into St. Augustine. My smart husband had decided we should eat out on our anniversary. We've never, in all the 16 years that went before, eaten out on our anniversary. It always had to be postponed for one reason or another. Our meal out was at a local restaurant with good reviews: Gypsy Cab Co. Our meal was simple, well prepared and delicious. It wasn't expensive. I thoroughly enjoyed looking about at the photos and local artists work for sale that adorned the walls. Every wall and the ceilings were different colors. It was a wonderful experience.
Back to our condo. I was nearly half finished with my book at this point. Naps were also a part of this holiday.
Supper that evening was the deli roasted chicken, corn on cob and more salad. I used leftover chicken to make sandwiches for our trip home. I packed up what I could and we made a trek down to the car, where we retrieved more water to chill overnight for the ride home the next day.
Thursday: Another early morning to watch sunrise. Chance wondered aloud what we'd have for breakfast then went off to shower. I surprised him when he came out of the bathroom. I'd prepared a meal from 'nothing'. Split hot dog buns were topped with cheese and crumbled sausage patties and toasted. We shared a muffin. It was a very good breakfast and I was pleased to have 'made do' with what we had on hand.
I packed up our things, then set up the insulated bag with food for the trip back home. Sandwiches, quartered apples, washed grape tomatoes, water bottles. We loaded the car, went back to check the rooms to be sure we had picked up all our belongings and to straighten the place a little more. I dislike leaving condos in disarray (except for leaving the bed unmade on the last morning). We switched off lights, unplugged appliances and tried to pretty much leave it as we'd found it.
We filled up with that higher grade of gasoline again. If I'd not been certain before that it was responsible for higher mileage, I checked figures at this fill up. Sure enough, even our in town driving had netted us over 40 mpg. I'll definitely use the middle grade of gasoline from now on.
We chose to stop for a picnic lunch at one of the state owned rest areas along the way. Again we picnicked under mossy oak trees. Our entertainment was a variety of birds who apparently lived near the rest area. And why not? It was apparently a bevy of food for them. We tossed them crusts from our sandwiches and laughed over their antics. It was a very restful half hour spent there.
Back on the road and heading home. I planned ahead and figured out a meal from items I knew I had on hand at home: bread and milk aplenty in the freezer, eggs in the fridge. My husband was planning ahead too and stopped for $5 meal on the way through town.
Arrived home to be greeted halfheartedly by dogs. It was hot and humid. The herbs on the back deck looked beyond parched. I watered plants, put fresh water in the pet pans, then came indoors and began to unpack. I was tired and hot and borderline irritable by the time I was done and very grateful my husband thought more clearly than I did about supper. What a lovely thing to simply sit down and cool off and know I had nothing else to do for the evening.
Peeked out the back door at sunset. We had a light rain and the air was considerably cooler. The AC had been turned down from 82F (the temperature we set it on when we left home), and the cooler air finally helped the house cool off enough so the AC stopped running so hard.
Friday: Up early this morning, though not quite early enough for sunrise. We normally do laundry before we come home from our trip but we had so few clothes that we just waited until this morning. Why pay to do a small load of laundry elsewhere when you've a washer at home?
I had two leftover fingerling bananas. I mashed them to put into pancake batter.
Chance wanted bacon. I hadn't bought turkey bacon in the last shopping trip, but remembered a can of the turkey Spam on the pantry shelf. I opened it and cut it very thin then fried it as I would bacon. It was crisp and tasted very similar to the turkey bacon. Spam is a good bit cheaper than turkey bacon and in my opinion, far more tasty. I may just substitute that from now on.
Payday is today due to the holiday. We'll be traveling down to pick up his check. I want to be sure and have the house fully cleaned when I leave (not that it needs much) because this is the last day of his holiday. I want him to finish it off in a peaceful restful way. Thanks to the freezer full of milk and bread we don't need to shop for any food until next week. We'll eat chilled canned fruit and frozen or canned vegetables for meals until shopping day.
One of the pairs of pants I repaired tore yet again. I paid only $5 for the pants but I told Chance I've spent countless hours repairing them each time after I wore them. I've decided those pants will make a great pair of shorts for around the house. I'll be cutting off the legs and hemming them this afternoon. No more fussing with what is undoubtedly inferior quality clothing.
Because I rinse dishes well before putting them in the dishwasher (since we don't use that dishwasher daily) I had a full load today, after our meals last night and will wash the dishes today. I haven't used the dishwasher in a week! There's a savings there.
Today's dinner will take advantage of that pre-baked pizza crust I put in the freezer last week. An easy meal for me to prepare. We'll eat the last of the bagged salad we bought on our trip.
Just a few photos of our trip for this week After all, the whole week was all about living well!
Our little picnic area where we stopped on our way down. The oaks are hung with moss...
A sunrise well worth getting up at 6am to see.
St. George Street in Old Town
The oldest school house in the US on the far right and cute little old houses middle and left.
The original gates dating to 1565 when the city was originally built.
My husband coming out of the favorite coffee shop. French Vanilla frappe for me, bagel to share and plain black coffee for him.
It wasn't yet 11am but that palm tree and umbrella brought us welcome shade while we sipped coffee.
The sunset on the river side of the hotel, away from ocean/gulls/screeching children. This is where the women tended to come in the evenings and sit quietly.
The rest area outside Valdosta where we stopped for lunch. Look at that lovely moss!
One of the many birds who joined us for lunch.