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How's the shopping going?

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.

This and That

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. 

 

Simple Things

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?

 

Sammy

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. 

Are you tempted?

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?

Simon Would Be Proud

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. 

Trying to keep up

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. 

Goodbye, Garden!

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?

Fall

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. 

The Thrill of Thrift

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?

Tomatoes, and Peppers and Herbs...oh my!

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. 

Labor Day Weekend

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. 

News and Real Life

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? 

Food Frolics

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. 

The Gift Goes On

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!

Spendy Couple of Weeks

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!

Use it up...

July 24th, 2022 at 07:13 pm

There's a slogan about not letting stuff go to waste, something to the effect "use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without" or something like that. That is my go to slogan lately.

My mom died a number of years ago. She was a quilter and she had all this material she had purchased and never used. I gave it away since I don't quilt. But there are lots of jokes about people with yarn, material, etc. and how much they have stashed. Or hoarded.

I have purchased some material at thrift stores and estate sales. Not huge quantities, but some. My new goal is to use it up before I buy anymore. I believe I blogged about recovering some of my hot pads. I had enough to make a new table cloth for our dining room table. I have sewn cloth bags to use for shopping as well as one for my stuff for my knitting/crocheting group for church. I had looked at bags when we were in England and the cheapest price on a bag was over 30 pounds which was even more in American dollars. I had found some new material at a thrift store that had English symbols like the red telephone booth, and the double decker bus printed on it, and it was $1.99 for it and I paid $3 to make some handles for it. A far cry from what I would have paid, and if it gets worn out by my using it, well, I don't have to regret it. 

I have also purchased some other things craft wise  like towels to do counted cross stitch on. I like doing that, and I have a couple of friends who like them, so I usually work on them and give them as gifts. But, I am not allowing myself to buy anymore until I use what I have. 

The only thing I'm allowing myself to buy is yarn for the hats, scarves, and dish cloths we make in the Stitches of Love group at church. I have used all the yarn I bought originally, so I bought a little more, and am almost through with it. I have been crocheting mostly scarves since we have so many who make hats. I can't make as many scarves as they do hats, but we promised hats and scarves to our Lutheran High School's Student Council for the number of kids they are adopting for CASA. The leftover yarn I make dish cloths and we are donating them to a local food pantry to put in the Christmas baskets. Nothing goes to waste when it comes to the yarn. 

I did a small canning yesterday since we had some extra tomatoes. I made lavender jelly earlier since our lavender was really blooming. Some of this is for us, but I use some of it for Christmas gifts. Same with grapes...made some jelly. Some for us, some for gifts. I hate to see food go to waste. 

So, are you using stuff up or wearing it out?

Fresh Food

July 19th, 2022 at 09:16 pm

Some of you have blogged about your gardens and I have as well. The tomatoes are really coming on and what a pleasure it is to enjoy them fresh from the garden. What a difference it is in taste. We are also getting some green onions as well as bell peppers and herbs.

Last year we did a half share of a CSA and we elected to do it again this year. Last week it was fresh green beans, onions, new potatoes, broccoli, corn, garlic, cabbage, and hot peppers. We gave the hot peppers away. We have enjoyed the fresh stuff with our own tomatoes. This week it was corn, potatoes, bok choy, a type of cabbage, and an onion as well as 2 green tomatoes. Lots of fresh eating.

I feel blessed to have so many wonderful fresh foods to fix and eat. I know it makes a difference in our health. I do wish more of the food pantries and government programs would encourage people to garden. Years and years and years ago after my Papa retired, we had moved to a small town north of where we live now and the government had a program called Green Thumb and his job was to help teenagers learn to garden. I wonder what happened to those kids and did they grow up and garden? As a former educator I refuse to even say schools should teach it; there are too many standards for a teacher to even cover as it is, as well as gardening. But think about how much money people could save if they could learn to garden. I see so many empty lots in our town and I wish the city would create a program that would allow people to make gardens on them to help feed themselves. I know that many of the inner city neighborhoods are basically food deserts. There's something immensely satisfying about growing and eating the food you have planted. Not to mention far healthier than the cheap processed foods many have to rely on. Anyway, that's just my take on it. 

Garden and Pantry

July 10th, 2022 at 08:21 pm

We finally received some rain Thursday and Friday. DH has been keeping the garden going with nightly watering, but natural rain is preferred to the plants. So, it was a blessing.

We've been getting a few onions. I continue to use some of our fresh herbs. We enjoyed some cherry tomatoes and DH brought in a couple larger ones that were starting to turn red; he was afraid some of the animals might go after them for the moisture in them since it has been so dry. 

I broke down and bought some fresh green beans at the market. I kept hoping they would have a sale, but I guess that isn't going to happen anymore. I washed, snapped, and cooked them in chicken broth and then canned them. I also made and canned some apple juice as well as kept some in the fridge for DH. I have been saving some of my vegetable ends and made and canned 3 quarts of vegetable broth. 

We did venture to the Amish community near us and have lunch out at a restaurant that is set up like and old fashioned soda fountain. They have a lunch special and then make homemade ice cream. DH loves ice cream. We then stopped at a meat market and bought some beef. They will package it the way I like it since there are only 2 of us. After that we stopped at a bulk food store and got a few things I was starting to run low on. On our way home we stopped at Aldi and Kroger and did our weekly grocery shopping and I was pleased to get all of this done in one day. It makes me feel a little more secure with a full freezer and pantry, especially during these uncertain times. Plus, since we were near the two grocery stores on our way home, felt like it was a good stewardship to stop.

There's something exciting about seeing my canning jars starting to accumulate with the different colors of goodness in them. Sure hope we can get lots and lots of tomatoes this year!

Hard Times

July 4th, 2022 at 09:21 pm

Apparently I'm into books about struggle. I blogged about a Depression Era book the last time. My next book was on the Dust Bowl which was Depression Times as well. The book was "The Worst Hard Time" and it was based on interviews of people who lived during the Depression and a bit of their lives before and then during and a little after the Dust Bowl. I have a lot of respect for these people for not giving up although they sufferered considerable losses and I look at our drought brown grass realizing how fortunate we are to have what we have, even if we haven't had much rain. 

Another book I read was "The Kitchen Front" and it is fiction, but based on true events in England during WWII. I had watched a series a year or so ago where two archeologists and a historian go to a farm that was operational during WWII and explain what England had to do to try and raise food since before the war, they imported so much. The premise of the story for the book was the rations and how 4 cooks vied in a contest using rations and what they could grow or forage in order to win the contest, but also provide recipes for other people in England. It was an interesting book and I really enjoyed reading it. Again, I feel so fortunate that I am not living under those conditions. A friend of mine was teasing me that I was trying to get in the mindset since some of the farmers interviewed around here are predicting food shortages this fall. I don't know if I am or not. I hope we don't have food shortages, but ever since the Pandemic, who knows what can happen. I never would have thought we would have had all the problems that came about with Covid. 

We had the first of our homegrown tomatoes. Mostly cherry ones, but one larger one and another one is almost ready. I've been using herbs and we've had two purple bell peppers as well as some green onions. I am frustrated because I have planted lettuce 3 times and it has not even tried to come up. DH had some problems with carrots. Some came up and others did not. I'm wondering if the quality of seed might be a factor; they were not cheap seeds so who knows. I may be writing the company to complain. It won't give us lettuce or carrots, but maybe they had an issue and can resolve it. 

Anyway, going back to the books I've read, although many may think we have hard times, I'm thankful our times are not as difficult as during the Depression or Dust Bowl or World War II. 

Grape Jelly

June 27th, 2022 at 04:24 pm

One of my  recent posts I commented about Pinterest and how it makes me try new things. A positive was I found a blog that mentioned some books about eating and living during the Great Depression. My parents lived through that and I remember them talking about how hard it was. As a result, I often have that Great Depression mentality of worrying about the future, reusing stuff, finding resourceful ways, and not wasting food.

Over the weekend I had the oppoortunity to go to the library and checkout a book called "A Square Meal - a culinary history of the Great Depression" by Jane Ziegelman and Andrew Coe. I wasn't sure what it would entail, but discovered it elucidated so many things during that time that I had not been fully aware. 

The book started out before the Depression, in the early 1900s and how things had changed as more of the population decided to leave the rural farm life and head to urban areas. 

Apparently even before the stock market crash, there was a bread line in New York City that was substantial, but the rub was it was open from midnight until 1 a.m. because the area businesses didn't want the line around during business hours.

After the Depression hit, the bread lines were plentiful, but only men went; it was thought it was there might be too many rough men in line for women and children. There were a few places that catered to women and their children, but many women refused to go because it would be an admittance of being not able to take care of themselves and needing a man to protect them.

Many of the cities who offered "relief" or "welfare" would publish the names of those who were on the rolls. I can only imagine what that did to the dignity of so many and probably kept some from applying. 

We often talk about someone having "spring fever" as in acting a certain way. Apparently there was something truly called spring fever: it was when people, when winter was winding down, but before spring was arrived, who no longer could have vegetables or fruit, fresh or canned, and their bodies would get weak and lethargic. This was made even more so when food was hard to come by and people were eating mostly starches to try and survive. 

Under President Herbert Hoover's administration, he wanted states and charities to step up and take care of those who were poor and hungry. Many churches and charities did, but there were so many it was impossible. The government did eventually get involved by hiring "experts" who were to talk about how to feed folks and then someone had the bright idea of giving food based on one's employment: a carpenter should receive more food since his job was far more taxing than that of a store clerk. As a result, so many people starved. Yet, Hoover's administration said the data didn't show that big of a difference in the overall health and that people losing weight was a good thing and the flu numbers weren't as high. Talk about skewing the data!

FDR, when elected, did do many beneficial things, taking charge and having the federal government start programs to feed as well as employ many. But even he and his administration made mistakes, especially withdrawing money too soon and a recession came about. The book was scary and fascinating all at the same time.

My Papa and his family were hard scrabble, yet he would say they never received a government hand out. He said his patches had patches on his overalls. His mom was the one who worked at home, cooking, cleaning, and figuring out how to get by. His father had left and I never knew why. His uncle Alex worked at a local restaurant and other odd jobs. His aunt Dorothy worked various jobs. His grandfather and grandmother lived with them and they moved often. So, all these adults and my father and his little brother trying to scratch out a living. If someone offered them something, they took it; one time a neighbor had a grape arbor and after picking what they wanted, offered the rest of the grapes to my grandmother. She and the boys went to pick them all. She made grape jelly and canned it. 

Papa told me once when I was making grape jelly he was sure it was good, but he didn't want it. He said for many days  after the grape jelly his mom made, that's all they had, bread she had baked and grape jelly for meals. It almost makes me feel guilty when I see the bowl of fruit on my island and my full pantry!

Field of Dreams

June 24th, 2022 at 08:29 pm

I'm sure y'all remember the slogan, "Build it and they will come." 

Well, it rang true. Not only in the movie, "Field of Dreams" but now for the former movie set in Dyersville, Iowa. 

Our local tour company offered a short overnight bus trip there and my husband is a big fan of the movie and he was all for it. 

We arrive in Dyersville Tuesday afternoon and are met by two ladies from the local Chamber of Commerce. We are given a short tour while on the bus and then are taken to Basilica of St. Francis Xavier there in Dyersville. Not being Catholic I was sadly ignorant of the difference between a basilica and a church, but were soon schooled in the difference. The sanctuary was magnificent and then we were treated to a tocatta on the pipe organ which was nothing short of glorious.

Another stop was the National Toy Museum -- it's Iowa so three guesses and the first two don't count on what the toys depict. Wait, did you say farm implements? If you did, you'd be correct. Many, many of them from well known John Deere and Case and Ford as well as little dioramas of farms hand made by a local man. Ertl is a toy company that once made many of these toys in the same city. 

Our next day was to the field and farmhouse. And it is outside of town in case you wondered. 

Dyersville, Iowa, is only about 4,400, but I guess they aren’t as quick to annex as other cities are, so it actually may be closer to 5000. Thirty five years ago when they were scouting for a place for Field of Dreams, one of the producers found this one place with the house and the fields and said this was it. They renovated the farm house, put on a new porch, and then built the diamond. They told the farmer they would put things back the way they were and when it was all said and done, the farmer liked the changes to the house like the porch and a/c. After the movie people started coming to see the diamond and wanted tours of the house and I think that helped the farmer decide he liked this aspect. Dyersville also was famous for those  farm equipment toys like the brand name Ertl.  Since then, the town has embraced the tourism aspect and then last year MLB built a stadium for a game and it was such a success, they plan to have another game there this year. That stadium is considered temporary  and MLB plans to build a permanent one as well as youth baseball diamonds are in the works as well. There are two small baseball museums in town, one is by the actor, Dwier Brown, who played Ray’s father in the movie. The other the town is putting together giving history about the movie and how it was made. New factories and businesses are locating there, even a Belgium cattle farmer is bringing cattle there to have local farmers raise and sell them for him. The town created incentives to the older folks to sell their homes that were in the middle price range by building beautiful 55+ communities so there would be housing for younger folks and then the town sought out grants that would help young people move and stay there. Farm land goes for around $17,000 an acre. 
 
We had a "ghost player" get on the bus and talk to us. He was one of the extras in the movie. He said that at first when he was offered the job he wasn’t sure he wanted it, but he loved baseball and thought it might be a good experience. He said because of that, it changed his life and gave him opportunities he never dreamed of. The extras helped Ray Liotta learn how to play baseball and he said the work ethic of Ray’s was amazing. He would stay in the field hours and had blisters on his hand from trying to learn how to bat. After the movie, the “ghosts" were invited to different things and they did lots of things in the past 34 years. They played baseball games with real baseball players, famous ones like Lou Brock. They toured all over the world talking about their experiences. He didn’t tell us this, but the lady at the chamber of commerce did — our ghost, Frank, and some of the others, went to visit soldiers who were stationed far from home and talked about their experiences with the move and baseball and tried to cheer up the troops. Frank said it enabled him to take his wife to places he otherwise could not have afforded. He’s retired from the post office, but still volunteers at the site because he likes people and likes sharing his story. He continued to say how blessed he was from having been given the opportunity of being a ghost or extra. 
 
 
I went to take photos and was stopped by a security guard for the MLB saying I could not take photos of the MLB stadium that is beyond the field for the movie. I wasn’t planning on taking photos of it. I wanted to take photos of the field and the house. Apparently the professional stadium will be hosting the Cubs and Reds this August, and the MLB plans to build a permanent stadium in the area soon. 
 
 
The doll museum was pretty extensive. I guess they have way over 2000 dolls, mostly donated. It is in the house of the town’s founder. We had a tea there with sweets and a cup of tea. The house was Victorian and pretty interesting. 
 
It’s impressive how this little town as really taken itself seriously and embraces progress. Just like the movie, build it and they will come, not only the ghosts, but lots of tourist to see this wonder. 

Sometimes Pinterest is my Arch Enemy

June 19th, 2022 at 07:42 pm

I will admit it, I like Pinterest. Too much. It seems to be my go to site some days when I'm not sure.

As a result, I've tried new recipes, tried new crochet patterns, and even found some cool genealogy templates. I like blue willow dishes and I have one very big "board" of all sorts of blue willow. Peter Davison is one of my favorite British actors and I have a board with stuff about him. 

I have even searched frugal living on Pinterest. There seem to be quite a few things to pin there as well, but I've noticed there are a lot of repeats. 

I can't decide if Pinterest is valuable or a time waster. Hopefully valuable since I tend to get some good info from it.

My latest project was to make an apron using men's ties. It took me two days since I sewed everything by hand. My machine is not heavy duty and sewing through ties would be too much for it. It's kind of cute. I found the ties for 10 cents each so I have 90 cents worth of ties and used some other stuff around here. I was pleased the way it turned out and plan to give it as a Christmas gift for a man who likes to cook, but hates those "girly" aprons. 

I will admit Pinterest often tempts to try new things and get involved in stuff that hopefully has some value. It just makes it way too easy to find things. That's a good thing, right?

Nice friends

June 14th, 2022 at 07:38 pm

A friend from church called this morning. He asked if we were going to be home. I said we were. He and his father brought over some aspargus and rhubarb. What an unexpected gift! Bet you know what we will be enjoying! 

A few wins

June 12th, 2022 at 08:09 pm

We don't have a lot of grocery stores where we live...Aldi, Kroger, Sav-a-lot, and Walmart are basically it. Target has some grocery items, but not a whole lot. So, we basically shop Aldi and Kroger and when Walgreens has something on sale nonperishable wise, I will go there. I felt like I had a savings win this week at Kroger -- between using some of the coupons I received after emailing some companies, using Kroger digital coupons, and buying stuff on sale, I saved over $35 -- over a third of what I would have spent. I can't do that every week, but it was nice to see that on the register tape. I then took photos for Fetch and Receipt Hog. Sadly, nothing I bought was for anything Ibotta was giving credit for.  Not extreme couponing, I know, but still a win. 

We planted some radishes earlier this spring and we had a chance to have some of them this week. We still have some that aren't quite ready, but I know the packet of seeds cost less than what a few bunches of radishes would have cost. Plus, I know when they were picked and where they were grown. We've also been enjoying some herbs. I picked our first green onion this week too. I don't know why, but I get awfully thrilled when we can enjoy some of the things in our garden. I'm going to consider this a win.

A number of years ago I wanted a Christmas tablecloth. Silly, I know. I looked at the cost of them and was gobsmacked. Plus, if I bought a cheap one, I've discovered after they are washed, they tend to shrink so using them over and over is often not possible. We were doing our weekly thrift store foray -- someone had donated some yards of Christmas fabric. It was less than $10 for quite a bit of material. I bought it, measured it, cut it, and made myself a Christmas table cloth. Plus, I had extra and made some table runners which I use on the sofa table, the pie safe, and the buffet. The other day I noticed I still had some scraps. I have been recovering my hot pads. I decided to recover one with the Christmas fabric. I looked at it and thought, maybe I could stitch around some of it and make it "pop." So, I did.  It took quite a bit of time, but it was relaxing for me to do this. I used a hot pad I had, material that was scrap, and quilting thread I had...basically using stuff up I had. I thought it turned out decently and other than my effort, wasn't expensive and I have something "new" to use. Hopefully the photo will come out below.  I'll call that a win as well. 

 

Happy Memorial Day

May 30th, 2022 at 04:33 pm

It's difficult to comprehend it is already Memorial Day. 2022 seems to be flying by.

I was very worried that our peonies were going to be bloomed out before, but there were some beautiful blossoms left. My grandmother and my mother always took peonies to the cemeteries for what was then called "Decoration Day." I have tried to continue the tradition. 

We always start with DH's mom and dad. I'm going to put it out there...whomever sold that cemetery plot to his mom knew it was a crummy one. It is on the side of steep hill, under a bunch of trees, and the way it is situated, little to no grass grows there. But moss grows on the gravestones. I spent over half and hour trying to clean the headstones and I still didn't get it all. But they looked better. I then picked up the twigs and stones around the stones and cleaned up the area. I always take a flag for DH's father's grave since he was a veteran. They used to put flags out at this cemetery for veterans, but no longer do that.  I did some research and hope to find something that will clean the stones safely and hopefully inhibit some of the lichen growth. We then went to the Lutheran cemetery where much of my maternal side is buried. I cleaned the stones there, but that was an easy task, then put out the flowers. Someone puts flags on the veterans' graves at this cemetery so that was good. I also put flowers on a the grave of a church friend; she no longer has relatives alive who live here; all are in Germany. DH always comments on the Polish and German names in the cemetery and I laugh because back when the cemetery was started, most Lutherans were German and/or Polish. My father's grave is about an hour away and we didn't get there, but plan to when we go to the nearby city for something. I would hope he'd understand that the trip with gas prices would be sort of expensive with gas prices they way they are. I would hope he'd be pleased I at least remembered him, even if I didn't visit his grave on the weekend.

The week rolling up the weekend was one spent doing chores around here. I cleaned and organized the garage. DH is not the most organized person and so if he offers to put something away, I know a mystery will often be ahead of me searching for it. But, I organized things as I tidied up. There were 5 golf balls in the garage. A number of years ago the park district decided to build a fancy golf course near us (there used to be a 9 hole small one on the other side of our subdivision away from us) and every once in a while we find a golf ball in our yard. I imagine the person who was unlucky enough to hit it over here didn't want to own up that his or her shot was that off course -- our property doesn't border the golf course so it would have been quite the wild shot. Anyway, a friend from church runs a group for veterans who like to golf, even if they are handicapped, so after I finished cleaning the garage, I aired up the tires on my bike and rode over to his house and put the bag of balls on his front porch. Maybe the guys can use them and save a couple of bucks. One of the reasons I wanted to organize the garage was to not only figure out what I have as far as canned goods, but also to make room for more. I have been stocking up here and there because I worry that come this fall, either food prices are going to skyrocket even more, or we will have shortages. I'm not hoarding, I don't think, I just buy an extra can of this and that when we go to the grocer's. 

We normally eat out Friday nights as our "date" night, but we haven't the past three weeks. Besides saving money on gas, some of the places we frequent have raised their prices so much and by the time one leaves a tip, even a cheaper meal is awfully expensive. 

I washed and detailed my car and cleaned out the inside. I try to do that at least once a year. I figure it helps save money if I keep the car looking nice as well as checking for any damage. During the winter the city and county uses a lot of salt on the roads and I like to try and get underneath the car as much as possible with the hose to make sure all the salt is washed away since it makes the car rust. 

Hope you have had a lovely weekend. I intend to grill out and have already started food prep for our meal. Do you have any Memorial Day plans?

A little canning and coupons and shopping

May 22nd, 2022 at 07:57 pm

Although I work at trying to keep the grocery bill down, even before inflation, I would buy fresh fruit, even out of season. I read that certain fruits are pretty darn healthy and I would justify it that good food helps with good health. So, each week I make a fruit salad and we have some each day. But, I often cannot use all the fruit, so I freeze the small bits. When I get enough, I make what I call multi-berry jam. I made that yesterday and realized 4 half quarts. 

Last week at the grocery I bought the smallest package of chicken, but even so, there was more than we could eat at one sitting. So, I trimmed some and used the extra to make chicken broth with some vegetables. I canned 3 quarts of that. It makes me happy to see those glass jars filled!

I think I wrote that I was writing companies asking for coupons for items we buy. So far I've received in the mail coupons from Chobani and Kimberly Clark and Yoplait emailed me some coupons. I was pleased they responded. 

I believe some of you have written that you use apps like Ibotta and Fetch. I use both and this week cashed in $50 from Fetch. I wanted a new hand mixer since mine quit working altogether. Kohls had a Kitchen Aid on sale for $59.99 and so after applying the $50, I paid around $15 and change for a mixer that is normally around $70. The one that died was a cheapie model and honestly, we got what we paid for. I decided I better upgrade and get something else. 

Overall, I felt like I had a good week on canning, coupons, and shopping. Just wish the stock market had been as positive. 

Where's the Smelling Salts?

May 18th, 2022 at 08:16 pm

DH and I did the weekly grocery trip. It seemed like everything we bought today has gone up except eggs. Eggs were down a dime. Granted, I had to buy a couple of things I haven't had to purchase in awhile, but oh my goodness, the prices! And we only bought a small package of chicken, a small pork loin, and a package of turkey sausage patties as far as meat. This was going to two stores, Aldi being one of them. We spent over $150! It's been a long time since we've spent that all at once, and normally it was a stock up trip. This was not a stock up trip! I told DH he needs to start bringing smelling salts with me in case I faint at the checkout! 

Before we left, we checked the Dow and it was down over 400. When we checked after we returned home and cleaned up after lunch, it had dropped over 1000. It looks like another losing month for our investments. 

We were watching some of the news and a couple of the commentators were saying that with the rapid increase in prices on so many things, people are not buying. I believe it. I know with the increase in gas prices, we are rethinking some of our errands and such. Today we went to the post office, and two grocery stores in one trip, trying to bunch things together. And we're lucky. We can afford to this. I honestly don't know how people who are already struggling are going to weather this. 

Extreme Couponing on the News

May 15th, 2022 at 07:22 pm

Last night there was a story that claimed it was "Extreme Couponing." That of course piqued my interest. I remember watching those shows, jealous as can be, because in our area we could never get all those things for next to nothing.

Let's just say the story wasn't really extreme couponing. It was on NBC if you want to search for it. It showed a lady who is using digital coupons from CVS to buy things and getting it for less, but not like the old days where people would get tons of stuff and pay next to nothing. The reporter went on to say gone are the days of clipping coupons since so much of it is done digitally and made a very brief mention of getting money back with companies like Ibotta. 

The news story said couponing has come back into fashion due to inflation. I wanted to say that a lot of us on the SA blogs still coupon when we can if it saves us money. 

I remember years ago watching these folks prepare for battle with their lists and getting all this stuff for little to nothing and being jealous. Of course a lot of it I don't need or use and unless it was something I could have donated to the food pantry, I wouldn't have even tried to get it. But it was fun watching them. We've never had decent coupons in our newspaper; I discovered years ago that there are different coupon sets. Our newspaper must have bought the cheapest set because the coupon inserts were mostly ads to buy stuff like Franklin Mint and things like that. DH used to get the Chicago Trib and they had better coupons, but then they quit putting them in the paper downstate. 

I check the digital coupons for the places I shop and use them whenever I can. I also use Fetch, Ibotta, and Receipt Hog, but the problem wtih these, I don't buy a lot of the things to get the credits they promote. 

I have been emailing companies and asking for coupons. Some are really very good about sending them. Chobani will send you some each month. One company informed me they keep their prices low so they don't have to provide coupons. I thought, well, maybe I'll find a company that has the same prices and provides coupons. 

DH bought some Miracle Gro soil a few weeks ago and I was happy to see they still do a rebate on it. I don't go and buy stuff to just use the coupon or send in the rebate, but will use these if it is something we would normally purchase. 

So, do you use coupons? Do you use them more now or less?

Creative Gardening and frugal cooking

May 8th, 2022 at 10:46 pm

It's spring and that time when DH usually puts in a garden. This year we are looking for different places to plant besides the normal spots. With the way prices are at the grocery, we want to make sure we use every onion set and every seed in the seed packet. 

We don't have a huge garden area per se. But today I took an old kids' wagon we have had sitting in the back and we put dirt in it and I planted radishes. It is deep enough for them. Then we dug up around this one area that wasn't too big and planted onion sets. I had planted radishes, lettuce, and carrots a week ago in some spare pots we had sitting around. 

All winter I have been saving tea our of tea bags, coffee grounds, and egg shells and putting them in our garden areas. I guess I think I'm not only eliminating some trash, but also enriching the soil. 

We had an awful lot of rain in the past week, so DH can't plant his tomatoes quite yet. I figure the rain helped put those tea, coffee, and egg shells into the ground. We had worked them in with a spade last weekend.

We went to an Amish bulk food store a couple of weeks ago and I bought some white rye flour. I mix it with all purpose flour and bake loaves of bread. I think between the flour, water, sugar, yeast, and oil, the loaves are less than a dollar each. We had invited a couple over for supper the other night and she was shocked that I had baked bread from scratch. I commented it wasn't that hard, wasn't that expensive, and I know what's in it. She looked in some of my cabinets and was equally shocked with all the stuff I had canned. We've used quite a bit of it already but we still have quite a bit. I had her try some of the lavender jelly I made last fall and she asked me why I would even think about using lavender and I said, well, DH grew some and I used it for jelly and also for an all purpose cleaner, and why not use something he grows. He planted it originally because we read it was popular with butterflies. So, we figure that is good for both the butterflies and us. 


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