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Food savings

June 13th, 2024 at 09:27 pm

Hopefully I am saving money... I have planted a small garden, but am taking advantage of things that are already growing where I live. I've planted some radishes and green onions and have had the opporuntiy to enjoy both. There are also three tomato plants and two cucumbers that are under my tutelage.

But the ongoing joy is there is rhubarb and mulberry trees here. I know some think mulberry trees are "garbage" trees, but I'm living in the country and they are like a blessing. I've picked some mulberries and made some jam and I've been using the rhubarb for different things. I didn't plant the rhubarb and probably wouldn't have, but I'm all for using what's here. I've made a strawberry rhubarb pie and someone gave me some strawberries and I've made strawberry rhubarb jam and canned it. Supposedly there are wild black raspberries here so I hope when they ripen I can use them as well. There are two black walnut trees on the property too, so looking forward to that as well. 

One of the stores in a nearby small town offers a 5% discount on Wednesdays for folks who are 62 or older. You can probably guess I'm all over that as far as grocery shopping. I was telling a friend that and she said well, we are a generation that understands you have money because you learn to save it here and there. She didn't grow up rich, but learned to save and invest and take advantage of things like that.

The local electrical coop had an annual meeting last week and if you attended, you received a lunch and $15 off yoru power bill. The lunch was great -- two pork chops, potato salad, applesauce, and ice cream. It was an informative meeting and they even drew names for door prizes and won a $25 gift card to Walmart. Well worth a couple of hours and a filling meal to boot!

When I see on the news about folks who struggle to find enough to eat, I realize how awesomely blessed I am!

 

Grateful

May 14th, 2024 at 08:20 pm

First of all, a big thank you for all the positive remarks on my last post. Life has changed quite a bit, but I can say lots of positives have happened. I think one of the hardest things is to tell friends of the changes and I consider you my friends although I've not ever met any of you.

I'm living about 40 minutes from where I used to live in a rural setting. Close enough to a small town, but very peaceful. One big change is there is not recycling so I'm working on figuring out how to reuse things that I normally would have put in the recycling bin. I looked to see if there was a recycling facility in any of the small towns near me, but sadly there is not. But having time to be creative is a gift so I've been doing that. I repurposed a dishwasher pod container that had a hinged lid into a car trash can with some Mod Podge and scrap material. 

I planted a small garden. I've already had a few radishes and green onions to supplement my meals. Hopefully there will be more to come! 

One thing was I went through a bunch of my stuff and donated a lot of it to area thrift stores. It was both difficult as well as freeing to get rid of a lot of things that I originally thought I had to have. Plus, all the stuff I left at the house when I moved out. There are some things I wish I had, but they aren't vital and maybe it's a good lesson in learning to live with things I don't need.

Again, thank you for the supportive, positive remarks! 

Lots of changes

April 26th, 2024 at 04:09 pm

Life has been lots of changes. I haven't posted because I've been sort of overwhelmed, physically, emotionally, and financially.

After many years of marriage, my spouse and I divorced. Fortunately it was amiable and mutually agreed upon. We divided things as equally as possible, but these were big changes for both of us.

I have discovered a couple of things -- you find out who your real friends are when you do this. I have asked people not to take sides. We do not hate each other. You also get asked very personal questions by people who really have no business asking them. Because our financial picture changed, we decided to reassess our expenses and cancelled things. One person immediately asked me who gets the house? It wasn't any of her business. 

I also discovered who really cares. I had many offers of places to stay while I figured out where I would live. It was both generous and touching. I had offers of people to help me move or whatever I needed. And fortunately many people just wanted the best for both of us which is what one hopes when something like this happens.

Starting over is both scary and exciting. As we know, change brings lots of different things in one's life.

 

Pantry Eating

January 23rd, 2024 at 04:19 pm

Yesterday we had an icy day here in Central Illinois and even if I had wanted to get out, I wouldn't have.  So, my reward was to go onto Pinterest (what a dangerous site for me) and look for bread recipes. I had certain ingredients like milk that was ready to expire that I wanted to use. I found this recipe for honey buttermilk bread. I did tweak it a bit, but it made two lovely loaves. I thought I'd use some for our supper to accompany spaghetti, again another pantry offering. 

Anyway, here's the recipe: https://www.restlesschipotle.com/buttermilk-bread/

My tweaks were I added some sourdough discard (I have quite a bit in the fridge) and I added some whole wheat flour since I had a little left in a bag in my pantry. 

Last night's supper was spaghetti with canned sauce I had made and the bread and some leftover vegetables that I heated up. I'm thinking for today's lunch I will make French toast since this bread had a little bit of sweetness to it. It is billed as a sandwich bread so I was thinking maybe it would make great peanut butter and jelly sandwiches too. 

I noticed there's some frozen soup in the freezer so I think that will be supper tonight. With the bread, of course!

 

Generosity

January 21st, 2024 at 08:28 pm

I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed.

For those of you who have read my blogs, you know I'm quite active in my church. For the past year, I've been working on ways to fundraise to try and pay more on the mortgage principal for our church. Our treasurer who shared this idea a year ago talked about how it would be a good idea without coming out and saying the way our church is aging and losing members, we might not have the money to make the mortgage payment when giving declines. 

He and I have brainstormed ideas because we are afraid that just asking people to give more would result in fatigue of those who listen. Plus, who wants to be hounded all the time for money? 

So, in the past year we've tried different ideas. Monicals gave us a community day in which we got a percentage back in either take out or eat in when our church's name was mentioned. We realized over $100 for that. Kroger gives us a small percentage back if people designate our church as part of the community rewards program. We have realized over $300 for that in the past year. I crocheted dish cloths and sold them and one lady took my bag of dish cloths to work and sold them for me. That raised over $100. Then I baked. I would take orders for items people wanted and my friends would then give me what they felt it was worth to them, knowing the money would go for the mortgage reduction opportunity. That was over $335. Another way was we asked for people to donate unused gift cards. Some had the full amount on them and some had just a few dollars, but I have been working on selling them to folks and we received over $700 for those. A local butcher shop was good enough to give us 10% back for 4 days of shopping and we received almost $200. All in all, in just small items like this, we realized over $1400. This is over and above what members have given throughout the year in their offering envelopes. It's been great how people have chipped in to try and help.

As we start 2024, we are trying different things -- again -- we want to keep people from being fatigued. We are having a chili/soup luncheon in February to raise money and our pastor and vicar and a member are going to do a chili cookoff and people can vote by putting $1 a vote in the buckets. We are doing a silent auction and I have asked people to donate items, especially homemade ones. I am just touched by some of the items that are starting to come in. One man hand turns pen and pencils and gave me a set for the silent auction. 

Another man who also enjoys woodworking has made two trays and a lazy Susan. They are all works of art. We have another lady who has donated some small quilts. A friend of mine who isn't a member of our congregation is going to crochet some items and her daughter is going to make potholders. 

And the list goes on...one lady is donating Valentine and Easter wreaths and another is donating a trifle bowl that will have a Valentine theme with the candy and goodies. I suggested a free will offering bake sale and people are telling me they will donate to that. Another lady is making themed gift baskets, one with kitchen items and one for a reader. 

Do they have to do these things? No, but they want to be abundant in giving. I think people like to be a part of something and do good. 

It is truly generosity at its best. 

Grocery Shopping

January 14th, 2024 at 08:39 pm

Funny how things change. 

I never used to mind grocery shopping. Now I dread it.

It isn't the shopping per se, it is the check out that unnerves me. It seems like each week the cost goes up a little more. I know the experts claim inflation isn't as bad, but I know my grocery bills have risen. I'm not buying anything different. In fact, I'm trying to cut back. For example, I'm trying to use less meat. Kroger had a buy one, get one free as far as chicken this past week. The package had three chicken breasts. So instead of having one meal and a little left over, we are having two meals out of one package. And I put the second package in the freezer for another time.

I ran across this article and wondered how she could spent $124 a month on groceries. Granted, she's single, but there are a lot of things that factor into saving so much. I never worked any place that gave free meals. Up until my last school, I never worked at a school that provided coffee. You brought your own coffee from home or did without. And the only reason the last school had coffee was because the principal bought it. 

Anyway, here's the url for the article if you care to read it:

https://www.cnbc.com/2023/12/14/i-spent-124-dollars-on-groceries-in-a-month-what-i-bought.html?utm_content=Intl&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=facebook%7CIntl&fbclid=IwAR0p6S0CgGgvr5xdPwPG5_xDBIpCN4-uZ9UEP0KKKorr0QnSi1KxWL6W2b4

So, how about you? Are you dreading the grocery store?

Wow, I can actual post again!

December 23rd, 2023 at 07:31 pm

It's been a few months since I've been able to post. I went to the forum and commented and the IT person made suggestions, but nothing worked. Once a week I would come and try and it wouldn't work. So, I'm hoping this goes through.

Life has been going on. I've been busy with church things as well as getting ready for Christmas. We spent over $39 in postage for Christmas cards and I'm thinking we need to cut down our list considerably, especially to those we see often or use social media. I like a nice card and I like sending them, but this is getting crazy.

Our landline went up to $95 a month. A friend suggested we get a cheap cell phone since someone didn't want to give up the number. We have Consumer Cellular and they have great to work with as far as cell service. AT & T wasn't very helpful, but Consumer Cellular said they would do a three way call if need to be to move the number over. So, for  an additional $14.95 to my cell bill, we have the number at quite a savings.

Sadly we gave up our newspaper subscription as well. It used to be a daily, then the paper started not delivering on holidays. Then no paper on Sundays and Mondays. I think they were having problems getting people to even deliver and the paper got thinner and thinner. As a person who likes having a newspaper in my hand I miss it, but my bank account looks a little healthier.

The group at my church was busy making over 800 hats as well as dish cloths and scarves and blankets. Hats were given to the school we adopted, four classrooms for the teachers in our congregation, a soup kitchen, and a cancer care center where the lap blankets also went. The dish cloths were given to a food pantry to hand out with the Christmas baskets. Our congregation also was asked to adopt 50 first graders and give them Christmas bags with some items to open. We gave them socks, gloves, a hat, a coloring book, crayons, a slinky type toy, and some candy. 

Hope your holidays are going well and you have family or friends to cherish. 

Merry Christmas!

Take Good Care

September 14th, 2023 at 06:58 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.

Catching Up

August 21st, 2023 at 03:43 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.

Simple Happiness

July 30th, 2023 at 06:10 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. 

Not a lot new

June 18th, 2023 at 08:52 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.

This and That

April 23rd, 2023 at 08:00 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. 

 

 

Talent

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. 

 

Just trying to stay busy

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!

Fundraising

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...

Incentive

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?

Biscuits

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! 

Grocery Grrr

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. 

 

Savings and Spending

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? 

Brrrr!

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.

Favorite Christmas Movie

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?

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 08:37 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 05:38 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 08:11 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 07:19 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 08:57 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 06:36 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. 


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