Friday, June 24, 2011

Frugal Friday/Living Well

Frugal Friday

Saturday:  Long day with our regular service followed by a teleconference call with our director. It was almost 4pm before we got home.  I made chicken salad yesterday from the last portions of a rotisserie chicken I'd bought on Tuesday (yes, the chicken was included in my weekly challenge total).

No supper for us after eating such a late lunch.

Wore a pair of jeans I bought from the clearance rack for $14.

Sunday:  Chance wanted cereal for breakfast.  Even though it wasn't on my menu I figured my savings over the past week would more than offset today's meal, a change up from the menu plans I'd made.  This is the first Sunday Chance hasn't worked in six months and it's Father's Day.  How could I not celebrate it?  My breakfast:  a smoothie using a frozen slice of pineapple, half a banana and a cup of yogurt blended with ice cubes.

Ran into town to pick up a steak for Alan.  I dropped off trash on my way to town.

Stopped to pick up newspaper.  Checked coupons and decided two papers were in order this week.

Went into grocery.  I scanned sales paper and discovered the best sale this week was sirloin tip roasts.  I bought five pounds of sirloin tip roast ground and one 3 pound roast.  I got five packages of ground sirloin and two roasts from these purchases.  I put all the meat in the freezer to save for later use.Who can beat ground sirloin for $2.49 a pound?

Had Alan grill a couple of burgers when he put the steaks on to cook.  Might as well get a future meal from the coals while they are hot.

Ran a full load of dishes this afternoon in the dishwasher.

Monday:  All day at home.  Great way to save money, staying home.  Chance was up earlier than I. He very sweetly made breakfast for me after I woke.  Menu?  He fried eggs (his eggs are well known as "The Best Fried Eggs"), used the leftover baked potato from the day before to make hash browns and cooked turkey sausage links.  We opted out of the toast we'd normally have, as I wasn't ravenous this morning, nor was he.  I sipped coffee in the breakfast area listening to him chatter and thoroughly enjoying the time to wake slowly from a very good night's sleep.

Chance went off to work in the music room and I piddled about doing housekeeping.  I put two deli chicken carcasses on to boil with tops and root ends of onions, celery leaves and a whole carrot from the fridge, plus a bay leaf.  I'd planned to make chicken rice for tomorrow's dinner since Chance wanted to get out and run a few errands. 

The aroma of the simmering chicken bones brought the man of the house out of his music room earlier than expected.  Seems his breakfast had worn off hours ago.  Was that dinner he smelled?  Since it wasn't, I hurried into the kitchen to make up a big steak salad and a pan of fresh homemade croutons.  I used end pieces of breads I'd saved in the freezer cut into cubes and toasted them in a skillet atop the stove. I reheated the grilled steak left from yesterday's meal in the microwave, then sliced tomatoes, cucumber, sweet onion, radishes and romaine.  I brought out a carton of feta cheese that had been partially used and two jars of blue cheese dressing which had a bit in each jar for dressing.  Quite a lunch and Mr. ate two big plates of salad.

Sorted out the house clothes and jewelry drawer in my bedroom dresser during the afternoon.  I organized both.  Now I can see what I have there's no need to keep several items on my list of must buy items.  Scratched those off...

Pulled recipes to try over the next few weeks.  Several use items I have on hand right now, so those went to the top of the pile to be used right away.

The poor AC ran and ran and ran.  And why not?  At 9am when I went out to feed the pets it was already 90F in the shade.  A quick check of the thermometer revealed it was 102F.  I'd pulled shades and curtains all over the house to keep the heat from coming in, turned on the fans...I'll confess I was tempted to try turning the AC down so the house would be a wee bit cooler, but instead I turned it up so the thing would cut off a bit and rest itself and the electric meter.

Dinner salads were good, but we wanted something with more stick to your ribs power for our supper.  I went ahead and picked the chicken from the carcasses, strained the broth and made up chicken rice for our supper.  We had a big gallon bag of chicken/rice leftover.  I put in the freezer for a future meal.

Tuesday:  Errand day.  I made a simple breakfast here at home of peanut butter toast.  I had a sliced rather ripe peach atop mine.  Trying to use up the fruit before it all goes bad.

Chance said he had no specific destination in mind, but I knew he had specific items he wished to buy.  I suggested we head to WR and asked if, on the way, we might stop by the big well organized thrift store so I could check for buttons.  Chance asked if I was sure I could buy buttons there.  "Oh yes, they have everything very well organized and there's a whole section of sewing notions and patterns and craft items."  Found my buttons, two different sizes, for $4 which beats the $14 I thought I might pay at Walmart.   So happy with my savings, I looked about and found a few more items to bring home.

Napkin rings...I've bemoaned forever how high priced napkin rings are.  Two sets for $1.59.

1 Jane Austen's Emma $.50

4 lovely art deco champagne glasses I'll use for desserts, $2.

1 basket to organize fridge items, $.50

Chance purchased the items he wanted in the city and then we headed home.  He decided I needed a break from all the cooking I'd been doing (ha!) and stopped at the local diner for burgers.  They are about the size of a slider and we only eat two each so not an expensive meal to bring home.  We had cold drinks and chips at the house.

Supper:  Egg salad sandwiches.

Packed Chance's work lunch for the next day. 

Wednesday:  Shopping day with Mama.  I had a strict list and nothing but items from that list might be purchased.  I'm happy to say I stuck tight and did not pick up any impulse items at all.

At the first store I spent about $20.  I bought 1 wire plate rack, 1 package of flour sack towels and 1 1-cup Pyrex measuring cup.  The plate rack went into the baking cupboard to extend the storage space there.  The flour sacks will be cut into smaller towels (these are HUGE) and one half towel will be sewn into a sack to keep lettuce after it's been washed.

Second store: 1 metal drying rack and 1 bottle of vitamins.  Shopping done, I headed to checkout and sat in the food court and watched people until Mama was done with her shopping.

Back home, I went right to the baking cabinet and organized it anew with the plate rack in place.  I have these in the dish cupboard, one in the island cabinet, one in the freezer and plan to buy one or two more to maximize storage in the bathroom cabinet as well.  For under $5 they are a great organizational tool.

Satisfied with that completed job, I took one look at the sun pouring through the closed blinds and curtains and decided to put up the summer shades.  These are aluminum coated bubble wrap and I place them in the upper half of the windows, taped in place, to block the majority of the sun and heat from coming in those windows.  I promise it felt at least 5 degrees cooler and it's no story that the thermostat reading dropped at least 2 degrees within an hour.

A big dinner calls for a very light supper. I had soda crackers and peanut butter, watermelon cubes and water.

Thursday:  A Kitchen day.  Not a zone cleaning day but a cooking day.  Made 3 pints of yogurt, 3 meals for the freezer, my dinner, two breakfasts for the next couple of days, packed one lunch,  and prepped for one more meal.  Why all the busyness?  Leftovers and items that just plain needed to be used up or go to waste.  2 meals were Leftover Makeover meals and I'll share those in coming days.

I cut 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts so that they were thinner, making 6 pieces of breast meat.  I sauteed them all at once.  Three became Chicken Parmigiana, 1 serving for my dinner and 2 servings for a freezer meal. The rest of the breast meat will be served as sandwiches over the weekend. I cooked spaghetti to go with the chicken dish and went ahead and used the whole pound of pasta.  I used 1/4 for the parmigiana dish, 1/2 for a casserole of Spaghetti Diable, and 1/4 was set aside to make another dish with later.  All foods were frozen except the single serving of spaghetti and chicken I had for lunch.

What generated the cooking fest?  Mushrooms and corn on the cob.  I had both in the fridge and new I needed to use them up.  I'd set aside two recipes earlier in the week which would use up these ingredients.  The corn became an Corn Enchiladas.  I didn't take time to make enchilada sauce today but I did make the corn filling for the corn tortillas, using those three ears of corn.  I froze the filled tortillas in a casserole dish.  I'll make enchilada sauce soon and will pour a portion over the frozen dish and put back in the freezer.

Mushrooms were sliced and cooked with garlic.  1 cup was used in the Spaghetti Diable casserole and the rest were frozen to be used in a sirloin/tomato sauce that goes over cooked Lasagna noodles for a rather elegant looking pasta dish.  It's a new recipe to me, but I have all ingredients on hand to make it in the next week so a little prep ahead will be a help.

I cut up potatoes to make potato salad with and boiled two eggs in the same pot (after washing the eggs very carefully.  I grew up on a farm and learned to do that...).  I set aside a portion of the potatoes to use as hash browns and the rest were made into potato salad using one of the eggs.  The remaining egg was used in tuna salad for work lunches.

Cleaned the bathroom cabinet and discovered free shampoo and hair care samples.  Used some of those today and I think I like this particular product.  Now I'll need to price it to see if I can afford it, lol.

Went through my nail polishes and determined that one of the colors I looked at yesterday is the same as one I have already.  No need to purchase that one I teased myself into thinking I wanted.

It took some playing with the switch but got the paper shredder working again and managed to shred the junk mail.

Was too tired following the cooking session to make cookies as planned.  I went to the pantry and discovered we had a couple of honey buns and another packaged snack on hand, so put those in the cookie jar to tide us over until I do feel up to baking.

Made up a nice bouquet from the remnants of last pay day's flowers.  I used an old painted tomato paste tin as a vase and tucked in some ivy I've been rooting in the kitchen window to soften the edges.

Friday:  Turned up AC as soon as I got up this morning. 

Housework, housework, housework.  Savings here has been to start at the back door and work my way through the house from there.  I needed all the time savers I could get today, because I was a bit behind on zone cleaning and housekeeping in general.  I'm almost done now.  I need to work on the bookcase by my chair, clean the baths and run the vacuum. 

The cleaning I've done has incorporated decluttering.  I've grown awfully tired of all the things sitting about in our home on display and so I simplified.  I figure I can always bring some of these items back later but for summer, I'd rather see more surface and less stuff.  I have a big box of things to tote out to the shed.

Pulled the last of the Challah from the freezer to thaw for tonight's Shabat.  I typically buy one big loaf at the beginning of the month and then we use a little of it each weekend.

The electric bill came in yesterday.  The expected big jump didn't come.  It seems we're using far less electricity this year than last.  I am grateful for that.  I am sure that keeping lights off and turning off TV has helped tremendously.

While I was straightening up the living room, decided to pull the July issues of vintage magazines to look through.  I've been itching for something new to read.  Nice to have these old things on hand to enjoy all over again.

Nail polish.  Ever since I looked at those new colors on Wednesday I've been longing for new nail polish.  This morning it occurred to me to mix two colors I have on hand and sort of replicate one of the polishes I tried the other day.  I used to do this all of the time as a teen, mixing my own custom colors.  So glad I thought of it this morning. 

Living Well

Susan called again last night with another prayer request.  She does that more and more often lately, asking us to pray for this friend or that and I'm happy to comply.  Her concerns this time were for friends whose homes were being flooded in Minot.  Thankfully Susan's own home is in a different town, at a higher point than Minot.  Her only trouble has been figuring out what streets are open and will carry her to and from work safely.  But her heart aches for those who are losing their homes.

There's been an awful lot of loss this year it seems, between floods and tornadoes.  I can't recall a time in the past when so many were homeless due to natural disasters since Hurricane Katrina.  It makes me awfully sad for those who must endure through such a trial. And it makes me doubly aware of my own attitude about our home and property. 

This morning as I went about the housekeeping and rearranging, etc, I found myself humming happily, excited at the way my old things looked new again just because I moved them to a new location.  But underneath it all, I've also been aware that these are just things.  True, some of them are precious.  They were once my great grandmother's or given to me by my children.  I would regret the loss of any one of them and have been known to mourn temporarily over a broken item.  For the most part, however, I think I have my priorities straight.  I have my faith, my husband and children and those are the most important things of all.  The house is just a shell without them.  The things are just common place stuff without them.

Prayers indeed for those who are losing so much, and heartfelt ones at that.  But Lord, most of all, let them find those that are the most important of all.

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