Friday, June 17, 2011

Frugal Friday/Living Well

Saturday:  Although I knew I needed gasoline earlier in the week, I preferred to wait until today when I was in FV attending synagogue to fill up.  Why?  Even though I use a 'premium' station there, gasoline is at least $.10/gallon less than here in my hometown.  Not a huge savings when you need just 8 gallons, but savings enough since I planned to be there anyway.

I'd planned to go by CVS and pick up the weekly specials while in town as well, but after waiting all week long to go, I realized that truly there was little needed.  Good buys?  Yes.  But nothing that would increase my pantry nor anything I normally used and was almost out of.  Savings there: about $25 based on past spending.

Stopped for Chinese on my way home.  I think Chinese buffet or take-out is probably the best value for money spent.  Even bringing home a takeout box of Chance's favorite chicken dish meant I spent less than a single entree in any other  restaurant.

No need of a heavy dinner that night.  I opted for homemade yogurt and fresh sliced peaches.  I used up two peaches which had ripened and were just beginning to wrinkle (they were small peaches).

While out at synagogue, I turned AC up to 80F.  It was pleasant enough indoors that I didn't even think to turn it down when I got in.  It was 6 hours later when Chance was due home that I realized I needed to cool the house off a little more.  A good savings for the day, albeit unplanned.

I didn't buy half and half last shopping period.  I chose to purchase an on sale coffee creamer (flavored) with a coupon, but mostly I don't like to drink sweetened coffee.  I used whole milk for two cups of coffee daily (bought at $.75/half gal) and the creamer only once a day (1 pint/$.40). 

I'm running low on bread and knew I wouldn't have time to make any Sunday.  I thawed some hot dogs that were in the freezer.  I made 'mini' subs to go in Chance's lunch using two of the buns. 

Sunday:  Savings begin early this day.  After packing Chance's lunchbox, I make breakfast.  I used remaining hot dog buns to make sausage cheese long boats.  This is just split hot dog buns, cheese and crumbled cooked sausage.  To save prep time, I cooked sausage last night, then toasted buns in the toaster this morning.  Topped with cheese and sausage and popped into microwave.  Breakfast done in under 5 minutes.  No heating the stove required.

Dinner at Mrs. Harris' home today.  I'd planned to stop and buy a big bucket of ice cream and add in Sundae toppers, plastic bowls, spoons...Instead I decided to make my own homemade brownies.  While the brownies are loaded with butter and sugar and chocolate and aren't inexpensive to make, they are still far more reasonable expense than buying all those sundae ingredients, especially when all the brownie ingredients were in the pantry. 

Mrs. Harris had already packed a plate for Chance prior to my arrival.  He'll have a wonderful lunch tomorrow.

Wonderful exchange!  My brownie pan was given back to me empty and washed.  Mrs. Harris had tucked in a few slices of her homemade lemon pound cake. 

One of the ladies has lost a lot of weight over the past year.  She brought all of her previous clothing with her and urged us all to try on different items.  I came home with two pairs of pajamas (one pair is absolutely new), a couple of shirts suitable for wear here at home, a pair of jeans, two jackets and a sweater.  I teased Mrs. Harris', told her I hadn't expected to be fed and clothed at her home.  The jackets are especially nice and will be lovely for wear come Autumn and Winter.

No need of a big meal after eating at Mrs. Harris'.  I kept my supper light: saltines and cheese and a glass of milk.

Forgot to turn the AC down yet another afternoon after returning home.  Didn't think to lower it until I heard Chance coming in from work.  Another day of  savings and proof to myself that I can risk turning the thermostat up just a little higher on these days when I'm home alone as I apparently don't notice!

Monday:  Worked ahead this morning and made a small batch of pancakes and turkey sausage patties.  I set aside half for Chance's breakfast tomorrow morning.  I'll just reheat in the microwave.

I meant to mop floors this morning and so I decided while I was running water to warm up I'd rinse the dishes under the cold water coming out of the faucet.  These dishes were going into the dishwasher anyway, so no need of a hot water rinse.

Turned an 'empty' cleaning container upside down over the weekend.  Sure enough I was able to get enough cleanser to go over the bathroom fixtures one more time.

Washed, and hung to dry, two full loads of clothes.

Ate leftovers from last Friday's dinner for my dinner today and followed it up with a slice of Mrs. Harris' pound cake.

Supper was a bowl of hot cereal and a cold smoothie.  I made my smoothie using the yogurt that didn't quite set, frozen berries and a spoonful of cottage cheese (just for protein).  It was very good! 

Tonight was harvest night in our home.  Remember that 'extra' payday I mentioned last month?  I was so proud tonight to offer Chance the extra money in our account to go towards the car loan.  It helped us pass another mark on our debt repayment chart.  We've not yet had the car a year and we've paid back nearly 1/3 of the money we borrowed from ourselves.

Tuesday:  Grocery day...I admit I was dreading it because I didn't finish up my shopping lists/coupon matches last night.  Tired.  Dreading the heat.  Dreading the challenge.  Yes, really.  However, I pulled myself together and was soon caught up in the spirit of trying to meet the challenge.  I admit my task was made a wee bit more difficult when my husband requested a few special treats.  I hate to say it but I forgot to factor in what he might like to add to my list.  I think it will all balance out though.

First stop was the home improvement center.  I can't buy all the materials I need at once.  I can budget a few of them every pay period however, so that's what I've been doing.  Yes, it means progress is slow, but I'd rather do a little along than nothing at all in my yard and it's so nice to look out the windows and see the areas that are freshly done and know that the very next pay period I'll have another section completed.  I've budgeted $30 a pay period for the yard work.

My first grocery stop.  This is where balance came in for sure.  I bought the specially requested items first.  Then I went to work on the list of needs for this week's challenge meals.  It worked better for me that way and I felt good knowing I'd bought something Chance really wanted.  There's nothing like making someone feel completely deprived to wreck a challenge before you get a good start.  I can make savings in other areas as the month progresses.

At the second grocery I realized I was flagging.  I was both hungry and thirsty, although I'd had a bottle of water brought from home.  I found a hot dog in the deli case for $1 and when I was unloading my groceries from cart to car, I poured a little lemonade into my empty water bottle. 

It was so hot and I was so weary after making four stops that I almost put off doing the last errands. Chance had called earlier to remind me of a promise he'd made to volunteer some time Thursday morning.  I realized that he'd have to make two trips to FV that day because he had practice that evening in the same town.  Frugality won.  I pushed myself to do the two errands, which meant I wouldn't have to return on Friday as I'd been thinking I might do.  It saved us at least 2 gallons of gas to do those errands today.

I had leftover sweet tea yesterday, so I poured it into a jar and put in the fridge.  It was so good this afternoon after I'd unloaded the groceries and put them away.  I topped off the glass with a sprig of mint.  I bought a plant at the grocery today and will be planting it in my herb pot this evening.

Used leftovers to make my supper for the evening.

I bought a French bread at the grocery.  They dry out so very fast that I cut my loaf in half.  I cut one half into slices to use for garlic bread and the other half was wrapped well and put away to use for our pizza supper one night.  I froze the slices and the wrapped half.  I used the end piece from the half I sliced to make croutons for my salad.

Challenge Update:  Because this challenge is based upon grocery spending I thought I'd share that my total expenses for this week's meal plans came up to $56.  A little over budget but I hope to make it up next week. 

Wednesday:  Chance and I had a list of things we needed to purchase to complete projects around the house, etc.  We followed our list carefully to make sure we didn't forget one item.  There was one  item we couldn't find, and one we chose not to purchase due to expense...but that made a second round of savings a little later in the day, so all was well.

Our cordless phone's battery was dying.  We've priced those replacement batteries in the past and discovered them to be more expensive than a new phone.  Since we tend to use our cell phones far more often and merely keep the phone line for internet, I suggested we just plug in a standard corded phone for emergency use.  We saved about $15 over the cost of a new phone.

We planned to purchase some lumber or pipe of some sort to use but realized we had an item right here at home that we could easily use instead.

Remember that item we didn't purchase?  It was a paper shredder.  Chance used a contact cleaner on the shredder and played with the switch for a bit.  Sure enough, he got it working just fine.  Savings: $54.

All in all our repairs and making do saved about half what we'd initially thought we'd end up spending.

I'd also put buttons on my list, after examining the button box and discovering no suitable buttons for my pillow shams.  Buttons were $1.32 each and I needed ten.  I looked at smaller buttons but could not find enough of any one sort to work.  I opted to not buy buttons at all.  I'm going to go through the button box again and see if I might have enough to make a row of buttons of similar sizes but different shapes. Just an idea at this point.

My menu plan flew out of the window.  Chance wanted to stop for fried chicken at the local restaurant on our way home.  That came from the entertainment fund.

I found a top I just loved yesterday, but it was smaller than I thought it would be.  Since the top was made in a poncho style there were five inches of fabric on either side and after examining the seams it was an easy alteration to make it fit better.  It took me about ten minutes to rip the seams and five more to sew it up again.

I had a pitcher of water I'd saved from partially drunk bottles and glasses to pour over plants outdoors.

Chance washed a full load of clothes and hung to dry.

Thursday:  Washed a full load of dishes.

Checking refrigerator for foods that might have skipped being noticed, I found two flour tortillas, a bit of Thousand Island dressing, six ears of corn...Yikes!  I'd forgotten all about that corn!  A revised menu for today: I decided boiled corn was definitely a side dish to be served.  Instead of making peccadillo I made burgers for us. Made a sandwich with the tortillas and dressing and some cheese.

Leftover corn was set aside for a special recipe for the weekend.

Boiled half a dozen eggs to use as egg salad and in another dish or two. 

The waters used to boil eggs and corn was saved to use as water for plants.

Too tired to work at housework, I decided today was excellent for going through recipe file and pulling recipes to try over the next month. 

When I'd finished that task I began to go through my magazines looking for inspiration for projects for July.

We asked Kay to check at the Exchange on base for a price on software needed after finding prices at other sources out of our range.  We'll save almost half by forwarding her the money to buy it there for us.

I had a few dishes that needed to be hand washed today.  I used a dishpan to wash the dishes in and made sure to carefully wipe out the one pan that had grease in it before washing.  This allowed me to also use this water to water plants with.

Friday:  Turned AC to daytime temperature immediately upon getting up.  I've been very consistent about that this week and I'm hoping the savings shows on our electric bill. With daytime temperatures returning to the 100F mark, it's very important to stay atop of savings we can make daily.

The cinnamon rolls purchased last week and frozen were thawed overnight.  Took just thirty minutes to warm in the microwave and saved turning on the oven.

I've been monitoring the cat and dog bowls to be sure they eat every bite.  Any leftovers are removed to prevent the ant invasion.

Debated visiting thrift shops today but decided instead to visit the shed in the backyard and pull out items I stored there last fall to see if I found inspiration in my own belongings.  I think white ironstone is very summery don't you? 

Chance worked an extra shift today.  His willing sacrifice is one reason that repayment plan on our car is going down down down.  Also has helped tremendously in keeping us apace of repairs and such so savings has stayed intact.  I definitely appreciate his dedication to being debt free.

Whenever I have opportunity to go into a clothing store I always look for pants on the clearance rack that might be in my size.  Sometimes they fit, sometimes they don't but thanks to dedicated looking I've now built a nice wardrobe of pants for under $15 pair and none of them are black, which should please my husband a great deal, since he said he was tired of seeing me wear nothing but black.  I played in my closet this morning and made up a few 'new' outfits using  my latest acquisition, a pair of white jeans.  I think they are going to prove very versatile.

I know it's not summer yet, but in a few days it will be...and I'm willing to bet you'll have a hard time convincing any of us Georgians that it hasn't come already... so I thought I'd share a few of my favorite summer things:

The sound of Cicadas

Watermelon, peaches, strawberries, green beans, new potatoes, tomatoes, corn...and all the other lovely summer produce.

The pleasure of coming in from outdoors to an air conditioned home.

Mornings just about sunrise when the birds are busy housekeeping.

Iced tea and lemonade.

Freezer desserts.


Summer rain.

The smell of freshly mown lawn

And charcoal grills.

The pleasure of lawn sprinklers on a hot day.

Ice cream.

Roses, gladiolus, petunias, geraniums and all the other flowers.

That glam feeling when wearing sunglasses.

Hand held fans to use when sitting on the porch.

Citronella candles.

Light reading.


MotherHen said...

As far as I'm concern here in TN - IT'S SUMMER, lol!!! I love your list of favorite summer things, similar to mine :-)

BelleDiabolique said...

It tickles me that we are so out of touch with the turning of the seasons on such a grand scale. "Summer" starts, according to the calendar, on June 21st, but really that's midsummer. The solstice is the peak of the summer season. Summer actually started roughly six weeks ago. The Vernal equinox, usually around the end of March, is the peak of the spring season, though that's when we say spring "starts". It's the same throughout the year. By the time the calendar says the season "begins", it's actually half over, according to the actual turning of the year.

The absolute best thing about summer, to me, is a ripe melon. I love melons. But that's really about all I look forward to around here. In Ohio, I looked forward to the long comfortable twilight, the cool of evening, dew, bats, and fireflies. I'd chase fireflies for hours and hours.