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September 14th, 2023 at 07:58 pm
I spent the day a week or so ago washing and waxing my car. I like to do it once a year and go over carefully to make sure there isn't damage I may have missed. It cleaned up pretty nicely and I was very pleased with the end result. I also cleaned the inside. I was just thinking about how much I spend on this vehicle and its maintenance (amazing where your mind wanders when you are working).
I don't begrudge any of the money I've spent so far on the vehicle. I had to break down and buy more car wax, but while I had it out, I also washed and waxed the charcoal grill we have that sits outside. It doesn't look perfect, but I think the coat of wax helps it weather a little better.
So then my mind went to other things. I usually get my leather shoes and boots out and put polish on them to keep them looking nice.
And as I sit here cooling off after doing housework and vacuuming and mopping, I think this is maintenance as well.
All time and money well spent, keeping things going and working and hopefully looking nice. And in a way, saving money in the long run. Maintenance on my car hopefully keeps it running with fewer problems and keeping it looking nice should help with the resale value when we decide to get rid of it. My shoes and boots, well, some of the shoes are quite a few years old and I think polishing them has helped them look good. I rotate my shoes so I don't wear the same pair every day during the fall, winter, and spring and I bought some really nice ones a number of years ago.
As for the housework, I like a clean house, but I also think keeping dust off of stuff helps, especially electronics. And keeping the floors clean helps by not letting grit scratch the vinyl and hardwood and we won't even talk about the ick in carpeting if it isn't vacuumed.
So, this is my take on it -- taking good care of stuff is hopefully saving me money.
August 21st, 2023 at 04:43 pm
Although I've been busy, I really haven't had anything of consequence to actually report. It has been a bit expensive lately.
We recently went for our dental check ups. DH had a tooth extracted and I had a crown as well as another tooth having a filling replaced. We have no dental insurance so it was all out of pocket expenses. Ouch. But any of the dental insurance available to us isn't really cost effective and we like our dentist and don't want to change.
My laptop was slowly dying so that was replaced. I got 7 good years out of it so I can't complain too loudly.
Like many, we've had extreme heat and I keep pushing the a/c up so it won't run as much. Lots of water for the garden so that goes up each month.
And need I comment on the groceries and how expensive they are? It seems like every week we pay a little more for the same items we bought the week before.
It's getting tougher to save money.
July 30th, 2023 at 07:10 pm
My grandmother has been gone almost 40 years. Like most dysfunctional families, my mom and my grandmother were on the outs and I didn't really get to see her very much. I feel like I was robbed of the one lone grandparent who was alive when I was younger.
I'm not really sure how I inherited my grandmother's rolling pin and recipe box, but I did. A few years ago I tried using the rolling pin and found it was larger than I anticipated and found it unweidly. But I put it away because it was hers and I didn't want to part with it.
I have been baking things for church and was making cinnamon buns and decided to try and use her rolling pin. It is interesting how since I've gotten more practice using a rolling pin (not an expert by any means) how much easier it was to use it. And I enjoyed using it, thinking of my grandmother and wondering what kinds of things she used it for. It made me happy.
The other day I was with a friend and he asked me to take some photos of him to use for his conference calls on his computer. I was playing around with the photo and on my iPhone, I noticed when I had my finger on his picture, it did a white running line around him. I wondered what that was all about and later, I played with it. Seems it "cuts" around the person and the background becomes white. I had a good time playing with that and told him about it and sent him some of the results. We had a fine time just sending photos back and forth after I told him what I had found. We laughed that we were easily amused and it wasn't anything we had to purchase since we already had the phones. Learning something new and using what we had, we agreed this resulted in simple happiness.
June 18th, 2023 at 09:52 pm
I haven't blogged for a bit because I really haven't had much to write about. Life is going along and I'm not complaining, but my days seem full and busy.
I am continuing to work on ways to decrease the church mortgage. I'm not taking credit for all of this, but we have reduced the mortgage by $50,000 in 6 months. Granted, this isn't sustainable due to some large gifts, but it is pretty amazing and we have knocked off quite a few months since this was applied just to the principal. There have been other cost cutting ways applied to also just help with the regular budget. It's nice that so many of the people of our congregation want to help by saving money.
I have donated a few things to the local thift shop. Someone wasn't happy when I said I didn't want to go every week to shop; it's easier to resist temptation when you aren't shopping. I wasn't going crazy and buying stuff every time, but honestly, I don't need to be tempted. I think I'm getting to that stage in my life where I realize less is truly more.
Just thought I'd check in. Hope everyone is having a grand day.
April 23rd, 2023 at 09:00 pm
It's been some time since I've blogged. I guess it is because I haven't had anything to really say. Just working around here trying to keep things going as well as working on the church mortgage reduction opportunity. Since we started in January, we have paid down $44K already saving us $18K in interest. So, that's good news. It isn't sustainable because this came from some larger gifts, but figure whatever we do pay down is that much more than what we had. I continue to bake and then ask people for free will offering for whatever they think it is worth to them.
State Farm offered this free thing to plug in your home outlet to check if you have wiring issues. I sent away for it and did do it. The company is called Ting. It's kind of neat they send a report each week.
A friend told me about the newest Facebook settlement claim and I applied for that. Don't know what it will bring, but figure it is more than what I had.
I have also worked a little on getting rid of a few things. DH isn't a big help on this; I've concluded he might have a little hoarder tendencies. LOL But if I haven't used something, I don't need it, right?
Just a quick catch up.
March 19th, 2023 at 11:57 pm
Fortunately I am blessed to have many friends who have many talents. One dear friend is quite brilliant and he shares insights with me on many things whether it is finance or technology. I admire his many abilities because he is humble about them and is willing to share his knowledge. I feel like I'm constantly learning things that I would not have had the chance to do so before, but this person does it in a way that is gentle and encouraging.
Another good friend is quite the woodworker. I'm amazed at how he can take a piece of wood and craft something. Again, he is very generous with his knowledge as well as his projects. He teases me that no one could afford his prices if he charged for his pieces and we laugh.
Some talents aren't as visible. One friend is the kind you'd want if you want something done. She sees what needs to be done, does it, and doesn't complain. Always busy, always friendly, and what a joy!
One lady at church is quite excellent at crocheting. She can really make beautiful pieces and is happy to share her handiwork which enriches many lives.
We have quite a few people at our church who have vast talents. It is impressive that such a small congregration is so blessed. Two people are very good with technology and working with our pastor have made it so our church can stream our services as well as provide tech support during the service. We have some ladies who are amazing at organizing the bazaar and annual rummage sale and it always comes together well. Some of these same ladies oversee the funeral dinners which I'm sure are a comfort to the families who receive them. Then there are the grand cooks who provide so much of the food, all willing, all ready, wanting to help where needed at a time where food is often love.
One lady is very good with our children and has really turned our children's ministry into a success. It is great to see these children excited about coming to church and being involved.
We have some people who are the unsung heros who serve on the church council or the board of elders, make the tough decisions, and look for ways to assist in the mission of our church. These meetings and duties are time consuming so it shows a great commitment on their part.
Our pastor is talented not only as a minister, but as a musician. But it is his love for the people that I would consider a talent. He listens, truly listens, and cares. His sermons are folksy and easy to learn from.
We are fortunate to have an amazing vicar. A vicar in our denomination is like a student teacher who learns the ropes by doing. He is talented in technology as well as caring.
One man always has something positive to say about everyone. He always looks for the good.
Although probably not considered a real talent, there are those whose dedication to our congregation is heart warming. They are willing to do those things many wouldn't.
I know we often think about using our talent to make money, and there is, of course, nothing wrong with that. But it is enlightening to see people using their talent to better the world around them and the people they associate with. And sometimes that is a talent in and of itself.
March 5th, 2023 at 09:45 pm
Not a whole lot to report. I realize it has been a while. I've stayed busy working on the church fundraising and doing stuff around the house as well as crocheting. I baked last week and raised $72 for the church mortgage. Not a huge amount, but it all adds up.
We have to wait for a document before we can get our taxes done. I need to organize what we do have, but that won't take long since I already have it in an accordian file.
We had quite the rain and wind gusts Friday with some damage to our house. At least we didn't lose power, but so many did and so many had far more damage. We feel fortunate, especially seeing so many of the natural disasters others are suffering.
A dear friend is teaching me coding. Not sure what I will do with it, but it is fun to learn something new and he's a patient teacher. My Papa always told me that if someone offers to teach you something, learn it, you never know when it will come in handy!
February 5th, 2023 at 07:09 pm
As many of you know, I'm pretty involved in my church. And like all things in our personal lives, prices have gone up for things at church too. The power bill has increased. Insurance increased for the few employees, the cost of materials like paper has gone up.
A couple of weeks ago we passed a deficit budget. And that is scary since it is often a crapshoot on giving to begin with.
I'm friends with the treasurer and he and I have been brainstorming ideas on ways to "fundraise" to make extra money to throw at the church mortgage to get it paid off sooner. If the mortgage was paid off, it would free up money for the regular budget.
I like doing research so I worked on that. Sadly Amazon is discontinuing its Smile program so that was out. But Kroger grocery stores does have a community outreach program where they donate a small amount back. So, we are working on getting people to sign up for that if they haven't already allocated these funds elsewhere.
A local meat shop is going to designate a week this month and whatever we buy and say we are from Mt. Calvary Lutheran, he will donate 10% back to us.
I know Rural King also has a Church Week program once a year so hopefully we can get some money back from that.
I have been playing around with sourdough, and I think I might have tweaked a recipe that is pretty good. I gave a loaf to a friend to try and asked if she thought it would sell. She said yes. I gave a loaf to my treasurer friend and he's going to try it and give me feedback on it as well.
And this weekend I also talked to a couple of ladies who liked my crocheted dish cloths and I asked if I brought some to them, if they might be interesed in purchasing them.
I do these receipt apps and two of them does PayPal, so I am going to donate my money for the mortgage. It's what I consider found money. It's not a huge amount, but more than what we had to begin with.
I know not one of these items is going to pay off the mortage, but I think it is like our personal lives where we chip away at stuff a litle bit at a time. Plus, having the Kroger store and the local meat shop giving back, we are helping our community by shopping, especially the local meat shop.
So, off to look for more fundraising ideas...
January 22nd, 2023 at 08:47 pm
When I was a kid, we struggled financially. It wasn't because my parents were lazy, it just that money was tight. I saw resourcefulness as well and hard work and believe I was raised with a Depression Era attitude.
Once I finished college and landed my full time teaching job, I listened to some of the older teachers talking about pensions, retirement accounts, and things like that. My dad and mom had to rely mostly on Social Security come retirement, and I can attest it was nothing but a struggle. I found a financial advisor who was willing to work with me because in 1986 teachers didn't make squat. So, $50 a pay period went into a 403b. And let me tell you, $50 a pay period was tough back then. I kept telling myself it was for my future and my retirement.
Last week at the grocery I saw a very nice looking older lady. She was dressed clean and neat. I am nosy so I was waching what she took out of her cart. One potato, a loaf of bread, a bunch of celery, some canned vegetables, a couple other fresh vegetables. She paid most of it with the Link card and I could tell she wasn't proud of that, but she also had to pony up some other money. My heart went out to her. She looked like someone who probably had been an upstanding citizen her whole life, but found herself unable to make it on whatever she was getting, I am assuming Social Security. She was careful with her shopping -- no snacks, no junk food, just wholesome food. I imagine she is careful in other areas of her life as well.
Knowing how my folks struggled and seeing her is incentive to try to save. I was fortunate -- I could save in a 403b and a Roth and I have a decent pension. I'm not getting rich by any means, but I'm careful. I know when my mom died and I was paying bills, I realized how close to the edge she skated each month to not having enough to pay for things. In fact, a few of the bills she wouldn't have been able to cover if she had still been alive.
I wonder if people who keep thinking they can't afford to put money in retirement accounts -- I'm not talking about the truly poor -- I'm talking about those who make good money, but tell themselves they will save later -- if they would have the incentive to save more for retirement if they had people like this lady tell them how the struggle is real. Then again, would they think it would apply to them?
January 15th, 2023 at 09:43 pm
I'm going to own up to it...
I did it.
I ate part of a dog biscuit.
Shocked? Well, here's, as Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story...
I have a friend who has two wonderful dogs. I also have a love of baking. I ran across a recipe for making simple dog biscuits and I had all the ingredients. In fact, I had just opened a jar of chicken broth I had canned last summer and there was a little left. I was planning on baking some other stuff so the oven would be on, and well, I'm open to new things. The recipe was easy. I used a heart cookie cutter. Baked them and let them cool. I sort of wondered how they would taste too.
Years ago when I lived in the Chicago area, I rescued a dog from a shelter. My father, upon meeting my dog, informed me I needed to get some name brand biscuits to help with the dog's bad breath. So, I bought some, and offered one to my pup. Except he didn't know what to do with it. So, I bit off a little bit to show him it was a treat, and there was no going back after that. He was sold! I remember the biscuit as being quite salty and a little savory.
So, enter yesterday. The heart shaped biscuits were cooling and I wondered...so I bit part of one and chewed it. It was very savory (tasted like chicken) and wasn't too bad.
Today at church I gave the bag of biscuits to my friend for his dogs, he teased me and asked if I tasted one and was surprised when I said yes. Another friend, after learning my gastric adventure, messaged me and asked if things were so dire with the grocery budget that I had resorted to eating dog biscuits and if so, he might be able to float me a loan.
I await to learn if the dogs like the biscuits. I, on the other hand, have taken quite a bit of good natured teasing which is fine. Nothing like some amusement in our lives!
January 7th, 2023 at 01:01 am
On Wednesday I did my weekly shopping. Same procedure every week. Usually get mostly the same stuff. But this trip had a little more frustration added.
A couple walked in ahead of me. I didn't think anything of it, until I couldn't get around them. They had a cart and between the two of them and the cart, they blocked aisles. The mister felt it was important to discuss every little thing they were shopping for. And it was usually a lengthy pontification. Seriously, how earth shattering is it to decide betwen regular cottage cheese and low fat cottage cheese?
I try not to act to impatient, but inside my stomach is clenching. I take a deep breath and try to remain calm. I get what I needed and of course they head to produce. I need celery. But they are standing in front of celery and cabbage and he has to touch every head of cabbage. Then talk about why or why not they should get a particular head of cabbage. After all the chatting and touching, they decide not to get cabbage. This goes on for a bit. I finally snag my celery and eventually get around them. I see them still roaming the store as I try to get the few things I needed and head to checkout.
I wait in line because there is only one checker and that is OK. I see the end is near. By the time I pay and am bagging my groceries, they wind up in line with 5 items. That's it...all 5 items!
I felt sorry for this man's wife or girlfriend or significant other...it wasn't like she was doing much of the talking, but all of the listening. I was glad to get away from them. I know, this might have been a big outing for them, but I would have preferred they wouldn't have blocked the aisles.
January 2nd, 2023 at 09:52 pm
We recently received our power bill and it was the most we've ever spent! It wasn't unexpected, but it still was painful. And this next month's will probably be more since we had that Polar Vortex with Winter Storm Elliott and it seemed like the furnace was running an awful lot.
In the bill was a flyer with suggestions on how to cut energy costs. I almost had to chuckle. The suggestions were things we've done for years such as turn the heat down when we leave for any extended time, make sure windows and doors are closed, and unplug any appliances you aren't using. I wondered who put together that list. I guess I was disappointed in not finding better information. Then again, those of us at SA are probably ahead of the game.
One of my friends gave me a gift card for a meat market. I'm looking forward to using it. Last week I did our weekly grocery shopping and spent over $130 and wondered what the heck was so expensive since I only bought one package of chicken. And it was a small package! But prices keep rising and just buying basics and fresh fruit is getting more and more expensive.
We had some turkey left over from a meal last week. Actually we've had two meals from the turkey breast and there still was some left. I made turkey and wild rice soup for lunch today and there's enough to make a casserole for tomorrow night's supper. Plus, there is a little soup left which we will be having for lunch tomorrow. I don't want to waste anything!
We used to buy a lot of crackers because we are big soup eaters. But I have been baking fresh bread and we have a slice of that instead. I did a sourdough starter a few months ago and use it and the "discard" or "excess" as well. The nice thing about using the excess sourdough starter is it adds moisture to what you are baking and you use less eggs. And we know how expensive eggs have become.
As much as I enjoyed the holidays, I am looking forward to spending less. I did a lot of baking for Christmas, some as gifts and some for our church bazaar. I'm wondering if I will need to cut back on baking for next Christmas because I don't see prices dropping. One can hope, right?
December 23rd, 2022 at 07:15 pm
Like many, we were inflicted with a Polar Vortex yesterday and today. Fortunately we didn't get a lot of snow, but that wind was horrific. I went out and shoveled the little bit of snow that had drifted here and there.
Three of us play Wordle each morning and all of us had the same thing to say -- how thankful we are that our power didn't go out and that we have a nice home that is warm and safe. Hopefully that continues to be the case.
Other than a few presents to wrap for DH, I'm ready for Christmas. Cards have been sent, gifts have been given to others, baking done, fudge made and given out. I'm hoping we can make it to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services.
Hope all of you have a lovely Christmas and stay safe if you are effected by winter storm Elliott.
December 18th, 2022 at 07:11 pm
Do you have a favorite Christmas movie? There are loads of them out there, that's for sure!
My favorite is "It's A Wonderful Life." It just has such a sweetness to it, that one person can make such a difference. I only hope that I make a difference in people's lives. But it also had the financial aspect to it...money played a part, but George Bailey realized life and living was more important than money, even if it makes things more comfortable.
We usually watch the same Christmas movies each year. There's something comforting about them. I always like a movie with a happy ending, though, don't you?
November 28th, 2022 at 12:17 am
The majority of my shopping is finished. I have a few items to get that need to be fresh like oranges. We make stockings for the 4 neighbor kids and I like to put an orange in the toe. Each year we start a Christmas Club so we spend what we have saved and once it's gone, it's gone.
The Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the news said that a lot of folks spent more for their Thanksgiving meals at the grocery, not cutting back even with the rising costs of inflation. They said they wanted a nice holiday and didn't want to skimp.
So, I guess I'm wondering...will you be spending as much or more than last year? It will be around the same for us I think, unless I include the rising cost of postage stamps for the Christmas cards. Then it might be a little more, but not a lot.
November 6th, 2022 at 09:50 pm
Every September I get all our paperwork out and compare our net worth from the previous year. I don't know why I did it in September a few years ago, but now that's when I do it. We lost a lot from our retirement and investments in the past year. It is disheartening. I know experts say to hold on and that's our plan, but it still hurts.
In other money matters, I do those apps to get cash back when I shop. I work with Fetch, Ibotta, Receipt Hog, and Checkout 51. Although Fetch seems to be the best, I am cashing out over $32 from Checkout 51. It has taken a long time to get to that, but I decided since I haven't been able to scan anything with them, I might as well have the money so they are going to send me a check. I don't have tons built up on Fetch or Ibotta and not really sure about Receipt Hog. I don't order a lot of stuff online so Rakuten doesn't seem to be something for me.
Our Kroger store has a kiosk that will buy back phones. I have an old one and I wondered if it had any value. So, I charged it, erased everything and put it back to factory settings, and took out the SIM card. I got $3 for it. Granted, not a lot, but $3 is better than nothing and I feel like I at least recycled it to an extent.
I continue to bake with Sammy the sourdough starter. I've made lots of things with the discard as well. I have given some away and some we've eaten. I have shared some of the discard with some friends too.
One thing we've been doing is instead of having sandwiches with commercially made bread, we've been eating some of the sourdough with our soup. It has cut down some of our food costs. This afternoon using some of the dicard I made Irish Soda bread and the ultimate price was so much cheaper than Artisan bread at the grocery or a bakery. As grocery prices continue to rise, I continue to look for ways to save money, even a few cents here and there. My husband has been laughing at me because I have been saving our old bread bags and used them for this and that, but I also have been using to store our bread in after it cools. I already wash out our plastic bags and such to reuse. I have been sharing things with a friend and I guess he has figured I'm frugal -- he has washed out the plastic bags I've sent stuff home with him and returning them! A man after my own heart!
There was a story on the news the other night that said people are hitting their 401Ks to pay bills. It's sad that people are having to resort to that. I guess it is better than accumulating more debt. But sad nonetheless.
I have most of our Thanksgiving dinner bought other than potatoes. I've been buying things here and there so it isn't one huge chunk in our grocery budget. I use potatoes most of the time and buy them when we need them. They aren't anything we can stockpile.
A friend from church is coming over tomorrow and we are going to make multiberry jam. I make a fruit salad each week for us and I cannot use all the fruits, so I freeze what we do not use. So, I have small containers of frozen fruits that I intend to thaw and we will cook down and make jam. She's never made jam or even canned before so I'm hoping she will enjoy the experience. I will share the product with her so she'll have some and we'll have some. A friend gave me a case of jelly jars so I have those. My friend asked what she could bring and I said an apron. I have everything else. It should make for a fun afternoon.
October 30th, 2022 at 09:30 pm
It's been a bit dry around Central Illinois, but the farmers have been pleased so they can harvest their crops. However, this dryness means the Mississippi River is low which can cause shipping problems as they send their crops down the river. We received a bit of rain today, but nothing to raise the river. It is just a deary fall day. But after the many beautiful fall days we've had recently, I am not complaining. We have actually had fall this year. In the past we seem to have lots of hot days, one fall day, and then bam...winter!
We had our confirmation class have their first communion today and the ladies' guild provided cake and tea and coffee after church. It's nice to see young people wanting to be a part of our church. We had a nice turnout for church so that was a bonus.
One of the things I've been enjoying is continuing to work with the sourdough and the discard. I find new recipes. I am sharing the discard with some friends as well so they can make stuff. It's kind of nice to drop some off (yes, I ask first, not foist it on them) and then get a chance to visit for a few minutes. It's these simple things that make a heart happy.
Terri77 (Firefly) mentioned in a blog wanting the election to be over. I'm in total agreement. I'm tired of the backbiting, hateful ads from both sides. There's one guy in Illinois who is running for secretary of state and imagine this -- he talks about what he wants to do and why. How refreshing!
I think in today's society of negativity in order for me to keep healthy, I need to focus on these simple things like the good people I know and the sweet things people are doing. I hate to say this, but I'm getting farther and farther away from watching a lot of news because it seems to be all doom and gloom. I know a part of life is pretty depressing, but unless it is bad, it seems the news isn't wanting to carry it.
So, looking forward to a quiet evening watching a DVD of a cozy mystery, a cup of tea, and a little crocheting are on the docket. What simple things do you do to cope?
October 24th, 2022 at 09:37 pm
A few days ago I mentioned I was trying to do sourdough starter and hoped to bake a loaf. I had named the starter Sammy.
Hopefully the photo will come through...my first attempt!
I used the discard for lots of other items throughout the week. I wasn't going to throw it away. I baked coffee cake which we enjoyed for breakfast a number of days. Yesterday I made cheese crackers and orange muffins. I still have some in the fridge and hopefully will find a way to use it. It was fun learning how to do this. I know my loaf has some improvement that can be made, but I think for a first time effort, it wasn't bad.
October 23rd, 2022 at 06:38 pm
Although there are tons of stories coming across email and such about the state of the eocnomy and inflation and...I just wonder, am I getting used to this? I mean, I was tempted to order something that was a luxury, not a need, from Amazon the other day. I didn't order it, but I really wanted to.
Then I thought back on what I do about every day -- figuring ways to make do with what I have and stock piling stuff. We bought a whole chicken at Aldi when we grocery shopped. It will make more than 3 meals, plus I have the broth. I canned 2 quarts of the broth for the pantry.
I almost hate to admit it, but my heart rate went up a little bit when the postal van stopped in front of our house this afternoon and the carrier got out with some boxes. Then I realized, I hadn't ordered anything. I met her at the door and she looked at me, the house number and then her computer. I told her I bet she had the wrong house and she asked if it was a certain number. Wrong number and wrong street. I really felt like Winthrop in "The Music Man" when he sings about the Wells Fargo man when I first saw her. Glad I could get to her before she left the stuff. Someone would have been disappointed.
Although I would love to buy some new things, I honestly don't need anything new. So, I'm struggling. I mean, we are OK so far, financially, but I don't want to look back and say I wished I hadn't spent money. So, I know I am just being tempted and I need to resist.
Are you finding the new prices the new normal, or are you still struggling to come to grips with it?
October 19th, 2022 at 09:11 pm
Y'all are probably wondering who Simon is and why this person would be proud...
When I was a little girl, I loved Alvin and the Chipmunks. We are talking early 1960s. We had just moved to this building where my parents were opening a furniture store and we would live in the apartment above. We didn't know any of the people there, and the story the neighbor told me I was standing in the back calling, "Simon! Simon!" She said she waited to see if I had a little brother. When it appeared I didn't, she answered. Any my neighbor became Simon for the rest of her life to me. Her husband was then named Alvin and the lady who lived in the apartment above them became Theodore.
Simon was like a mother to me. I spent an awful lot of time from when I was 3 until I was 12 with her. She was an amazing cook and very talented in being frugal. Her husband had diabetes and she would fix certain things that wouldn't throw off his blood sugar. It seems archaic now when I remember the sterilizer for his needles and how he had to give himself a shot each morning and night. But she was good about planning good meals, and keeping him healthy.
One thing she did every week was bake bread. It was a certain bread that supposedly wouldn't set off his blood sugar too badly. I remember sitting with her as she would put the dough together, let it rise, and eventually bake it. And what a treat it was when she would thinly slice the "heel" and put some butter on it and cut it in half so we could enjoy it while it was still warm.
I learned a lot about baking and cooking from her. I really believe God put her in my life because my childhood was not a very happy one, but she loved me unconditionally, and always was kind to me. I picked up her habits of trying to make do with stuff, find a more reasonable solution, and I believe my love of baking comes from her.
There's a Facebook page called Bread Club 20 and it was started by a Brit. I have learned a lot from the folks on this page. I never realized sour dough loaves could be such works of art. I learned about making sourdough starter and decided to try it. It means feeding the starter each day and also dealing with the discard. The discard is the stuff you take away because you only keep 1/2 up and feed that. Not wanting to waste stuff, I have kept the discard in the fridge and looked up recipes to use it.
Years ago I was given a bread machine for Christmas. I so enjoyed using it. In fact, like most of the kitchen appliances I have, I use them and they wear out. After a number of years and going through 3 bread machines, I decided to just do it by hand and have baked loaves that way ever since. I like to experiment, but never thought I could accomplish sourdough. But hopefully that isn't the case.
My oven is at work -- I just pulled a cinnamon coffee cake out of the oven made from the discard. I have biscuits ready to bake for tonight's supper. And tomorrow, if all goes well, I hope to bake my first loaf of sourdough bread.
I truly believe Simon would be proud.
October 16th, 2022 at 08:19 pm
It's been another busy week around here. Week before we pulled up the garden. I dried herbs, picked tomatoes and peppers and all that. I'm still waiting on the herbs to dry more fully before I can process them. Instead I decided to do my usual fall thing which includes cleaning and polishing.
Twice a year I put orange oil on my kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities and woodwork. They aren't painted -- they are wood. I think canning really seems to suck the moisture out of the kitchen cabinets and then during the winter, the dry air seems to also do the same. I'm always amazed at how much nicer the cabinets look when I'm finished. I figure it is a way to keep them nicer. A friend of mine commented that if I ever wanted to paint them, putting the orange oil on them would be a problem. He is probably right, but since I'm not planning on painting them, it isn't an issue.
I have a list of other things to do, like polish my shoes. I have 3 pairs and two pairs of boots that are at least 5 years old. I clean and polish them every year and they seem to be faring well. I just means keeping up with this. I decided a long time ago to buy quality shoes so that they last. A couple of pairs I wore very frequently when I worked and they are holding up well and polishing them seems to help as far as how they look.
I also want to wash and wax the exterior of our charcoal grill. We don't grill a lot, but it is nice to do so when we want and since it sits outside, I think waxing it keeps it from fading so much. Kind of like with cars. We normally wax the cars before the winter and that's been done so that's another thing to check off the list.
Each year my church has a Christmas Bazaar and sells cookies by the pound. Of course when the Pandemic closed things down, we didn't do that, but hope to again to it again this year. However, eggs went up from $2.31 on Wednesday, to $3.39 on Thursday at Aldi. I know butter has gone up and I see sugar and flour have increased, just not as much. I'm not sure how many cookies and baked goods we will be able to have due to increased costs. Plus, and this is a sad commentary, but many of us are getting older and some can't bake and do things like we used to.
I constantly look for ways to tighten our belts, so to speak. We work on not wasting food, not buying things we don't need, but honestly it is getting tougher and tougher as prices continue to rise. We had to spend money on getting our sun room fixed because it was starting to leak. We were fortunate that the people working on it could find the materials and I figure it is a way to keep value of our investment of our house.
However, I will admit, when I hear the market having another bad day, our investments losing money yet again, it scares me. I think, what else can we do to cut back without taking all the joy out of our lives? We eat less meat than we did 3 years ago. I can and preserve as much as I can. I look for sales and use coupons and continue to put money into savings that doesn't pay squat. We don't eat out as much and if we do, we go to lunch or breakfast which is cheaper. We don't go and party or go to movies. The bulk of my wardrobe comes from a thrift store. I maintain what I have. I cook from scratch. And honestly, I'm just getting weary worrying.
October 9th, 2022 at 09:57 pm
T'was a sad sight this week; we pulled up the garden. I can't truly express how much we gained from our little plot.
A person I knew one time informed me that those tomatoes I had canned were free -- we got them from our garden. I pointed out that we purchased the tomato plants, bought some top soil to enrich the soil, fertilized them, kept them watered and weeded, and then there was the work of canning them, not to mention the jars, lids, and equipment. Free? I don't think so? But I truly believe in my mind a superior product to what I can purchase off the grocery shelf.
I know we realized a lot of good things from the garden this year -- tomatoes, bell peppers, radishes, onions, and herbs. Some did better than others, but overall, we were blessed to have a good year. I canned tomatoes and made spaghetti sauce, froze the chopped bell peppers, and have been using the onions. I have the herbs drying. We had so much Basil that I decided to make Basil salt as a finishing salt and will package it up and give it as part of Christmas gifts this year. I gave some to a friend to try who likes to grill and he liked it so I figured it was a success. I know we've enjoyed using it.
My failure was lettuce. I planted it three times and it didn't come up any of those times. I even bought a different packet of seeds for the third planting. Oh, well. Maybe next year!
It's interesting that almost every site that talks about being frugal, it says grow a garden if you can. I wonder as food prices may continue to climb if the past few months are any indication, will we see more gardens?
October 2nd, 2022 at 07:36 pm
Fall is here and this past week has been nothing but glorious as far as weather. I doubt if I will be saying that when winter comes, but right now, it has been so nice seeing the lovely skies and the mild weather. So often we don't truly have a fall season...it's blazing hot, we have a couple of cooler days, and then bam! It's winter. So, I'm appreciating the sunny, lovely days.
The end of the week may result in a frost so DH and I are working on getting the garden taken care of. I have been cutting and drying herbs. It's nice to have them through the winter and spring. We pulled up a few plants yesterday after taking off the bell peppers and tomatoes off of them. We still have a few to go. I have chopped and frozen some peppers, but need to do more as I get a chance. I don't think I will be canning any more tomatoes which is sad, but we sure have enjoyed the fresh ones and I did can some earlier. I know my pantry is looking pretty good with them. A young lady I know was telling me her husband decided to plant 28 tomato plants this summer and they have a lot of tomatoes. A friend had given me a juicer that makes fast work of juicing tomatoes if you have a lot. It's a crank type. I dropped it off for them to use. They did their first attempt at canning tomatoes too, so we talked about that and also preparing the soil for next year. I'm delighted to see another young family growing a garden and taking up preserving.
I'm already dreading our monthly statement on our investments; I don't think it will be good news.
Some of the news stories keep saying prices are going down, but I'd like to know where. I keep trying to cut back on stuff, but it seems like our grocery bills remain about the same, much higher than a year ago. Sadly, most of the companies that offer coupons are for things we don't buy. Same with Ibotta -- so many of the things they offer cash for, we don't buy. I'm not going to buy anything just to "save" money. Seems a bit ridiculous to me.
We did take some things to the thrift store to donate. I need to go through more stuff, but sometimes getting DH to agree to giving up things is a challenge.
Watching the news reports on the hurricane, it breaks ones heart to see the devastation and the loss of life. Life can change in just an instant. Prayers for all involved.
For now, I will enjoy what we have and enjoy this fall weather.
September 18th, 2022 at 10:01 pm
There's just something immensely gratifying about saving money and having some cash in reserve. I can't imagine anyone on this site disagreeing with that!
Overall, our life is pretty darn good considering we both worked in the public sector and didn't make the salaries a lot of folks made working elsewhere. We have decent pensions. We have some investments (we won't talk about the Dow lately), and our house is paid for. There isn't a whole lot that we need that we don't already have. So, shopping isn't a recreational sport for me.
Growing up poor I think made me consider ways to squeeze a nickel or dime or quarter as much as I could. And I still do. I don't have to look for stuff on sale, but why would I want to buy something for full price?
We watched some series on Netflix that was called "Dirty Money" and it had an episode on plastics and how the Zero Waste Movement is trying to get away from using them. So, I did some reading on this movement because I wondered about it since I had heard mention of it before. I think many of us do some of the things already because we are frugal. We use stuff. We recycle. We buy used. We do it to save money and in the long run it also helps the environment because we aren't buying a lot of new stuff and throwing away the old.
I look at my jars of stuff I've canned. It gives me incredible pleasure. It means we'll eat well this winter as I use it. It also means I have some Christmas gifts for people since I made some different jellies. My pantry is stocked and I have put most of my grains and pastas into glass jars and recycled the boxes and paper bags. We don't have a bulk food store where you can take your own bags and jars sad to say.
I did have to break down and buy a new Crockpot. One of mine that I used a lot died a few months ago. But I wasn't going to pay full price. I knew as soon as the holidays approach, many stores start putting them on sale. So, I scored a 6 quart Crockpot for $39.99 and tax...$20 off that store's retail price and more at another store. But, I put that new baby to work. I cook a chicken in it yesterday and used the broth to cook some noodles to go with it. Then, I put the carcass back in with some vegetables and herbs and water and let it cook down over night to make more broth which I will can and have for soups and flavorings for rice and noodles. Could I buy a box or can of broth at the grocery? Yes, but at least I know what's in my broth and I'm using what I already had. Cooking the whole chicken means at least 3 meals for us plus the benefit of the broth. So, dividing the price of the chicken by 3, then adding what it cost me buying noodles in bulk, and what it cost for the carrot seeds, and then a little bit of spices and add ons, I think our meal last night cost around $8 for the two of us. To me, that is thrilling! That wasn't adding the cost of the Crockpot in of course, but I'm glad it worked and I look for it to get quite the work out!
Our grocery had apples on sale. I took my own cloth bag for them (we use them at the grocery stores) and bought some and made more apple juice and applesauce. Fortunately I have a lot of jars and lids and rings. I also made tomato juice and canned that and diced tomatoes for the pantry. I also have been picking, washing, and drying herbs. Why buy the stuff in the store when we have it here and I can dry it? I don't put in the oven or a dehydrator; I wash and towel dry them and then set them in our sun room and let them dry naturally. I then run them through a food processor and crunch them up and put them in jars. It sure is nice seeing those knowing they are relatively fresh.
We go once a week to the local thrift shops. That's our activity. I normally have a small list of things I'm looking for. I scored some beautiful Hallmark and Day Spring birthday cards, sympathy, and thank you cards last week. I bought around 36 cards for a little over $8 and that included tax. As expensive as postage is and cards themselves have gone up, I was pleased with my good deal. I have scored some name brand clothing a few times and why pay full price when I can get an item for less than a third? I'm not buying junk or worn out stuff. Plus, I guess I'm helping by buying used according to the Zero Waste folks.
The hubster still pays with cash and over the past couple of years has amassed quite a few coins. I talked him into letting me have all the pennies and he said he'd give up some of the "silver" coins as well. We have about $73 to put in a savings account. It's not a lot of money, but it is far easier than trying to save big bunches at once. We have a Christmas Club account I want to put it into. We use that to buy Christmas presents as well as for Christmas tips and all that so come January, we owe nothing as far as Christmas. And the credit card company doesn't get any interest from us as well.
I won't say I don't buy new things because I do. The Crockpot is a prime example. But honestly, if the economy depended on my shopping, it would be in worse shape than it already is.
Do you find being thrifty thrilling? What are some of your best examples?
September 12th, 2022 at 12:45 am
The garden is starting to slow down, but we are fortunately still getting a few items. DH picked a bunch of peppers and no, I didn't pickle them! I couldn't resist...I made bell pepper soup with them. We ate some and I froze the rest.
We had a bunch of tomatoes so I juiced them and canned the juice and realized 4 quarts and 4 pints. Hopefully I will have more to can this week.
My plans are to start picking herbs and drying them. I know some people freeze them in olive oil and honestly, I wish I had the freezer space to do that, but I don't. I just know I'm happy to have them once the weather turns and we can't have them fresh anymore.
I know I've blogged about making jelly...I have used every jelly jar I owned I think, except for the one I just cleaned out. That's a nice feeling to have so much ready. I use a lot of the jelly as Christmas gifts.
I did get ambitious and make some cloth Christmas bags to use instead of paper bags or wrapping paper. I've done that in the past, but sadly no one ever gives me a gift back using them. That's fine, I figure it is part of the gift. I wonder if they are using them as gift bags or what.
We received out investment statement...we lost $13K last month. It is getting depressing seeing this month after month. I get that the market is up and down, but I'd like to see a few months where it is up to offset the loss.
September 4th, 2022 at 07:34 pm
Hope y'all are having a good Labor Day weekend if you live in the states.
Most of my week was spent working with things around here. Our CSA box afforded us a few cucumbers and I made sweet relish and canned it. My husband's cherry tomato plant has been prolific so I juiced them with a couple of larger tomatoes and canned a pint of tomato juice and had a little over half of a pint in the fridge which we enjoyed with our brunch this morning. I decided to try a new recipe and made root beer jelly. I found the recipe on Pinterest and the recipe was spot on -- it came together perfectly and it is very yummy. This summer I made a variety of jellies. I will give some of it away as Christmas gifts this year so I guess I'm sort of starting my Christmas shopping already. I used all of my jelly jars and most of my half pint jars this year. With just the two of us, the quart jars are often too big for some items. I use them for apple sauce and apple juice and green beans and regular canning tomatoes, but are way too big for spaghetti sauce and tomato juice.
Also on Pinterest was a recipe for Basil salt. I made some of that and I have some for us and a couple small jars to also give away. It was easy and since we had the Basil, I figured why not. I have started drying some of our herbs so I'll have them this winter and spring.
I hated to spend the money, but I bought some things to make handles for the bags I'm sewing using up the material I already have. I have made handles with the extra material, but they just don't seem to hold up as well as the the commercially made stuff. I was fortunate to find it on sale though.
Not a lot planned for the holiday weekend. We are eating from the freezer as much as we can so I can use up some of the items we have, as well as eating from the pantry and supplementing from our garden and CSA box.
August 28th, 2022 at 07:00 pm
On an evening news program, there was a report about grocery prices and inflation. The reporter claimed that the department of agriculture claimed that grocery prices are coming down and that the cost of eggs has dropped 60%. Also mentioned was chicken wings had dropped down to prices of over a year and a half ago. Yes, you read that correctly, that's what they reported. I was aghast. That was broadcast Tuesday night and I planned on grocery shopping the next day.
The week before I had noticed eggs had risen 50 cents a dozen at Aldi which is usually cheaper than the other name brand store I pick up things I can't get at Aldi. I did notice a few cents drop when I went to shop in Wednesday, but it wasn't anywhere near 60%. However, I happened to pop in to Aldi yesterday because I had forgotten to buy something and noticed that eggs had increased a few cents from Wednesday. I looked at chicken wings and I didn't see any drop reduction on them either.
I am concerned with the rising cost of food. The saltines we like has risen 14 cents. That's not huge, but when you see everything going up, or then the worst is the empty shelves, you know it could be a grim fall and winter. I was watching a Clark Howard video and he said that grocery prices were actually showing a 13% inflation rate; far higher than the overall inflation rate.
I continue to look for sales, but honestly, the grocery stores aren't running a lot of sales, at least not on some of the things we buy. We don't buy a ton of processed foods. I can and freeze what I can. I have written companies for coupons and some are far more willing to mail coupons than others. Some flat out informed me their prices were low enough and that they don't send out coupons anymore.
So far, we are fortunate that we can afford our groceries. But I wonder how many who are already livng paycheck to paycheck are doing it. They may be going to the food pantries, but even the food pantries are being stung by the higher costs and can get less for their money.
So, I'm not sure where the reporter was giving his facts other than quoting the department of ag's stuff, but maybe it is better other places than here in the Midwest. Are you seeing grocery prices going down?
August 21st, 2022 at 07:25 pm
It's been a foodie sort of week.
The tomatoes are still coming, but not as many. I did have enough to make and can some pints of spaghetti sauce and make some tomato juice. I had some leftover chicken and made broth and canned it. I had some green beans from the CSA box so I canned those as well. Only realized a pint and a half pint, but this winter, they will enjoyed. I picked some lavender and made lavender jelly and then I got brave. I've commented that Pinterest can be my downfall.
I was perusing jelly recipes on Pinterest and one that caught my eye was coffee jelly. I like coffee, so I thought this might be fun.
I did make it and it's good. I know I won't be eating it after 2 p.m. on toast though with the caffeine, but how unique.
Grocery shopping was another downfall. I didn't think my lists were substantial -- I go to two stores, Aldi being the major one. But eggs had gone up 50 cents a dozen. Saltines had risen 12 cents a box. So, I spent more than I anticipated. I fear that prices are going to continue to rise as a drought seems to be hitting so many parts of our country. I remember during the Pandemic seeing empty shelves and what was there was so expensive. I decided that if there were lots of bread loaves at the grocery when we stopped to get DH's prescriptions, I would buy a couple of loaves to stash in the freezer just in case. There was plenty of bread, so I did just that. I haven't been hoarding stuff, but I have been filling my pantry and freezer like I normally do every fall with things from the grocery and the garden.
August 14th, 2022 at 08:01 pm
Sandi Patty has a Christmas song titled "The Gift Goes On" and it talks about how God doing stuff and how it is paid forward.
Today was a non Christmas gift, but truly a gift begetting another gift.
I've written before about the group at church that loom knits hats as well as knits and crochets scarves, cancer hats, and dish cloths which we donate to different places in our community. In the past few years, we have been very fortunate in receiving some monetary donations as well as donations of yarn from people, many not members of our church. We welcome nonchurch members to join us and we have had some who have joined us to help us with this ministry. Last Christmas we were given a sizeable gift from someone who had noticed my posts on the church Facebook page and those groups who received hats and scarves and dish cloths.
Today was another sweet surprise!
A church member told me someone he worked with gave him and his wife a handmade quilt. Knowing full well that quilts are expensive and very labor intensive, he said he felt she should receive something in return. She apparently said no, but then finally said she wanted two things. She wanted whatever change he had in his pocket, and he and his wife could then give a monetary gift to his church.
This gentleman gave it some thought. Yes, he could do both. He reached into his pocket and was sad he only had 38 cents, but he gave it to her. But, he and his wife decided that they would write a generous check to our church and earmark it to our group, Stitches of Love, honoring the lady and her quilting and knitting talents.
An unknown lady was responsible for our group getting money because of her kindness. And hopefully the items we make and donate will cause the gift to continue to go on. My heart is joyful because of this!
August 7th, 2022 at 08:26 pm
It's been an expensive couple of weeks and I hope this is it for a bit!
After a dental visit for xrays and check up and cleaning, the dentist nicely told me that I needed a little repair and crown. I could wait, but the tooth was probably going to crack. I scheduled the appointment and I now am the (proud?) owner of a temporary crown. He didn't see any major issues under the filling and I figured that was good and cheaper than a root canal and crown.
A few months ago we had helped a friend by driving and picking him up when he took a car to his daughter. He said he would wash and wax our car this summer. He called and said he would do it Friday. Yesterday when he called to say it was finished, he said he needed to talk to me. We go to pick it up. Seems my car battery died. He and his father charged it, but said it probably needed to be replaced. So, that will be on the docket tomorrow.
Yesterday when I finished emailing some friends, my laptop reported I was no longer online. Seems my modem/router decided to give up the ghost. So, that was another expense. A dear friend came over today and hooked it up and talked on the phone to get it connected to the cable/internet company. What a blessing that was!
DH's lawnmower needed replaced; it was quite old so we replaced it. We gave the old one to a neighbor who will recycle the parts.
Hopefully that is it as far as big expenses for some time. Fortunately we had the money in savings, but, it seems to hit all at once!
We had been given a gift card for a chain restaurant and since we were going to be on that side of town yesterday, we used it for breakfast. Even so, a simple breakfast with coffee for me and lemonade for DH was $28 before a tip. The gift card covered it so that was good. Honestly, I don't know how some of our friends can afford to eat out 5-6 times a week. If we eat out for lunch or supper I always get water, but it was breakfast, so I wanted coffee. Guess I could have saved some money getting water then too, but then we tend not to use the rest of the dab left on the gift card. It isn't a place we normally frequent.
I have been doing some canning. I canned some tomatoes and spaghetti sauce and then some apple juice. I hated paying full price for the apples, but DH likes apple juice and I refuse to buy the commercially made stuff since you never know where the apples are grown. I also made Basil jelly and corn cob jelly, both are sweet. DH picked way too much Basil when I was making spaghetti sauce and I wanted to use it. I could have dried it, I guess, but we would have had to pick even more to get enough to make drying it worthwhile. That will come soon. We also picked and processed our garlic and I have it in the fridge in olive oil. So, my pantry is starting to fill up. There is something very gratifying to having a full pantry and freezer. Hopefully some of the canned goods will help us save money this fall and winter!