Home > Archive: January, 2015

Archive for January, 2015

Lunch Bunch

January 31st, 2015 at 10:20 pm

A couple of weeks ago two of my coworkers told me at one of our meetings they weren't going to go out lunch; they asked if they could join me because they brought their lunches.

These are two nice young ladies. They are not the ones who have made snarky comments about my lunches or Thermos. One comment they did make was they realized I was right that going out to eat was an expense that they didn't need at this point.

So, our conversation start talking about saving money and we started comparing notes on what we are doing. Both are young and have young families and started talking about life insurance. I had the opportunity to explain the difference of term and whole life and the pros and cons of each. There is an insurance company that is visiting during faculty meetings and they are offering to meet with individuals about life insurance. But, like most of these meetings, it is a sales pitch. So they were happy to get information so they went into these meetings well informed.

Our conversations aren't entirely financial. We started out this week talking about coupons and saving money and wound up talking about recipes.

It's nice to have some others who want to save money and be able to talk about it with them. And I'm especially pleased they are younger so they will realize the benefits of this instead of trying to play catch up when they get my age.

Etc., Etc., Etc.

January 25th, 2015 at 08:12 pm

Remember the movie "The King and I" where the king learns all about Etc.! Well, that's sort of my thinking today...this and that and etc.

Paid some bills, balanced the checkbook, and guess I'm ready for another week. We had an unexpected expense in the last month. Our garage door spring broke. Neither of us are handy so we had to pay to have it replaced. Believe me when I tell you, it would have cost more in medical bills if we had even attempted it. But, fortunately we have the money to do so.

A planned expense was some home repairs. Seems our exhaust fans in our bathrooms were never vented outside. So, the humidity was sent to the attic. This caused problems with this so we had to have the attic treated and then pay someone to have the fans vented outside. Our next step is to get more insulation both in the attic and in the crawl space. We had an energy audit last fall and these were things he suggested. Part of having a house is keeping things up, but it is never easy. Besides the expenditures, it is always a challenge to get someone out to work on stuff. I don't get it. Our little city is still having big unemployment so lots of folks are putting off having things done so you'd think it would be easier to get folks out to do work. In a word, no. I call and leave messages and no one returns the call. It is frustrating. It's not like we don't pay them. Oh, well. The first stage is taken care of and onto the next.

We went to church and came home and fixed brunch. After brunch I went to work on chopping vegetables for three different meals this week: pork loin roast, sloppy chicks, and Italian Wedding Soup. The pork loin will actually be two meals because we always have leftover meat and vegetables. It is easier to chop everything at one time so that worked out. So, in about an hour, I have the legwork done. Not bad. I teased my husband that I'd have more time to read and goof off if I didn't cook so much and perhaps we could eat out every night. Fortunately he knows I was kidding because I'm cheap and I like knowing what we are eating.

A friend at church gave me some cooking magazines she didn't want. I'm looking forward to perusing them after awhile and then will pass them on.

Hope your Sunday is wonderful.

Grocery shopping schedules

January 24th, 2015 at 09:00 pm

Thursday night after supper I commented our fridge looked bare. It usually does and by Friday, it is almost scary. Friday lunches around here (I take mine to work and DH fixes his at home) are normally what we haven't eaten so far and we are finishing up. During the summer Friday lunches often look like a poor buffet...a little of this and a little of that. I hate to waste food and I try to plan carefully so that we use what we have.

That being said (or written in this case), I posted on Facebook the query of when do you grocery shop...a schedule or when you run out of things. The answers were all over the place. A couple said before retirement they planned and scheduled it every week. A few said they go weekly and shop by what's on sale. Then there were a few who go when they run out of things.

I am not a spontaneous person. I'm not sure whether that is good or bad. For me, I have to know what I'm doing and what we are eating and I look at the sales and plan my grocery lists by what is available, what we need, and what is on sale that we can stock up on. I then make my menu plan based on that list or lists. This week was a three grocery store shopping spree.

Every week DH hits Aldi for the basics...eggs, milk, fruits, vegetables, dairy, and chicken and pork roast. I supplement with the other two stores, County Market and Kroger. Well, between these two days, we bought something at all three, due to sales and need. I think I shop on a schedule for two reasons...I like to plan and know what we are eating and I like to save money by watching sales.

The late Mike Royko wrote in his Chicago newspaper column that he used to go the store and buy the same things each week, and he and the kids would fix the easy stuff and leave the harder stuff. He claimed he decided they wouldn't go to the store until all the frozen chicken was eaten, the flour used, and the eggs and onions were devoured. He said there were some creative, but strange meals, but he felt like he taught his kids something -- be creative or marry someone who can cook.

So, do you shop on a schedule or go when you run out of everything?

Music and Misc.

January 18th, 2015 at 10:14 pm

Last night a friend treated us to tickets to a play put on by our local theatre group. It was well done and an amusing way to spend the evening. In the play, one of the characters celebrated every holiday by dressing up and writing a song -- the lyrics were set to a well known song. It was funny and it was also fascinating how knowing the tune made it even funnier.

It got me to thinking when I was in college in a Chicago suburb, one of the music classes I was enrolled in required we attend a concert. I had the opportunity to attend the Chicago Symphony conducted by Sir Georg Solti. It was a sweet wait until the day of the concert and get a voucher for an unsold seat for a very reasonable price. I remember sitting in seats which seemed very close to the ceiling (read: nosebleed) and enjoying the music. A lady sitting a row ahead of me was bedecked in fur and jewels (I wonder now why she was sitting so high up) starting crying during one of the movements of a piece. I thought it was odd, but never forgot it.

Two summers ago a group took a bus trip to New York City. We had a chance to see a Broadway show and we chose "Jersey Boys." We sat in balcony seats and when the first vocal harmonies came through on the first song, tears streamed down my face. The beauty of the harmony as it rang off the walls was such a sensory pleasure. I understand, over 30 years later, why the lady at the concert cried. It is fascinating how music can effect us.

In other news, DH and I have been throwing pennies into a pickle jar. We also add a few other change. Last summer when we took our coins into the credit union to deposit into an account, there was a couple ahead of us who had a large glass jar with change. DH said he wanted to save change for a year and see how much we get. We don't have a huge jar, so I'm using our pickle jars.

After church we cleaned house and DH is working in the yard. I'm getting ready to go back in the kitchen and start supper. I am still working on organizing the kitchen and I thought maybe I should figure out a way to get the plastic spatulas out of the drawer and into a container. I already have a container with wooden utensil sitting near the stove. I found one of those ceramic wine coolers a couple of years ago for $3 ... perfect height and I didn't have much invested. But, I didn't want to buy anything. I kept looking around and I thought why not use the extra glass pitcher I have sitting on top of the fridge? I use glass pitchers to make iced tea. I have three I use regularly and I had this one when I made lemonade last summer. So, it is now housing our spatulas. It also gave me an excuse to clean and tidy up the area near the stove. Now I have more room in a drawer.

Menu planning for this week:

Scrambled eggs, grits, sausage, toast, and fruit salad
Sloppy chicks with potato chips
Pork loin roast, carrots, onions, sweet potatoes, cottage cheese, apple sauce
Skillet chicken lasagna with cottage cheese and fruit salad
Short ribs and rice, green beans, cottage cheese, fruit salad
Tuna cakes, mashed potatoes, green beans, and peas

I had hoped to buy tilipia this week, but I refuse to buy it if it comes from China. No such luck.

How Newsy Are You?

January 11th, 2015 at 08:04 pm

I am startled at how few people watch the news, read the paper, listen to a broadcast, or read what we used to call "hard news stories" online. Not to mention not watching the weather.

A friend I email was surprised when I mentioned we might have freezing rain today and snow tomorrow. Our local news station has been talking about the possibility for days.

Then a relative was equally surprised at the weather forecast.

Both have cable television. Both have Internet.

We kid around when the weather forecast calls for extreme cold or snow or sleet how shoppers flock to the stores and buy milk, bread, and eggs. It is kind of funny, but at least they are keeping on top of things. I know last winter there were days we didn't get out because school was cancelled and there was a huge amount of snow and the temps were so low. The emergency workers were asking people to stay home unless they had to be out so they could get the roads cleared. We do our grocery shopping every week and I try to keep extra things in the pantry and freezer. Yet the two people I mentioned didn't know they would do because they hadn't gotten the store and didn't have much available.

So, do you read local and national news and the weather? I like to be informed. I think knowing what is going on around me helps me plan for things both for my safety as well as my financial well being.

Is Planning Your Meals Fun?

January 11th, 2015 at 12:09 am

It's back to work Monday for me. So, Wednesday and Thursday nights I went through the grocery ads to help plan my grocery lists and menus for the week. We normally shop at least two is Aldi and we get eggs, milk, dairy, fruit, and fresh vegetables there. In fact we buy the bulk of our groceries at Aldi. Then I shop at one of the bigger stores usually consulting the ad. Sometimes we hit all three, but that isn't normal. DH buys the Chicago Tribune on Sunday and they have far better coupons that our local paper so I scored $15 off in coupons for things we normally buy this week. We also went to an Amish bulk food store yesterday and stocked up on a few things we get there. So, for now, I'm pretty well stockpiled on a number of items.

For my birthday a friend shared some hamburger, sirloin, and chuck steak with us. She and her husband purchase a cow with a daughter in her family. So, I look forward to use this. For Christmas this same friend gave me some of her homegrown and home canned green beans. Nice friend, eh?

Some of the meals I have planned include:

- Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans
- Scrambled eggs, sausage, cheesy grits, toast
- Sloppy chicks and potato patties (made with left over mashed potatoes sauted in a little oil with Panko
- Oven baked chicken, cous cous, honey glazed carrots
- Italian vegetable soup (made with ground beef, vegetables, pasta)
-Pork tenderloin roast, roasted potatoes, carrots

The pleasure of cooking some of these things is I have leftovers. I peeled extra potatoes to cook and mash so I could make the patties. The extra meatloaf will make meatloaf sandwiches for lunches. The pork roast usually winds up being either pork stew or pork stir fry, or another pork supper as I heat the pork back up and then put barbecue sauce on it before serving. The sloppy chicks can also be lunches or I can add a little more tomato sauce and serve it over pasta. DH talks about how many ways I use leftovers. But he doesn't seem to mind; he says he eats like a king.

Each week I make a fruit salad and we have it at least for one meal.

Different couples we know complain how cooking is just too hard. Then they go out. Then they complain they are broke. One couple doesn't go to the store until they have nothing left in their pantry or fridge. So, that means multiple meals eaten out.

It takes planning. I know it does. But it is kind of fun too. What can I find that is on sale that we like? How can I save a few pennies here and a dollar or so there? Sometimes I try to figure up what a meal cost us and then compare it to what we would have spent if we had eaten out. I try to make it a much money can I save us without compromising on healthy food? Or what did we save that can be spent on something else?

I do believe that people who don't bother to plan for their meals also don't plan for other things in their lives, like their retirement. Two people I know are always eating out and then complain how they can't make it on their pension and/or Social Security. I think most of the people at SA are planners. I read your blogs and the forums. I learn from them and I hope you learn from mine.

Cold, Damp, Dreary but Keeping Busy

January 8th, 2015 at 08:19 pm

It's another cold, damp, dreary day here in Central Illinois. My school district had planned for this third week off from school because they were to move schools, but unfortunately the building wasn't completed. I kind of groused about the third week, but with the extra cold temps, this might have been a good thing. Many of the local schools have called for emergency days because of the extreme cold.

I have read two more books: Dave Ramsey's "The Legacy Journey" and "Secrets of the Southern Belle" by Phaedra Parks. The Southern Belle one although nonfiction was entertaining. Most of it is manners and common sense. She talked about being polite, being modest, being friendly, and being responsible. Responsibility included not going into major debt, planning for things, including a wedding and not going all out for a wedding if you couldn't afford it. I know one thing she wrote about was sending cards and letters and how nice they are. I know so many people prefer email and texting, but there is something special about receiving a handwritten letter and a personalized card.

I did venture out to the library yesterday to return books and check out some new ones after getting my haircut. I didn't really want to go out, but I had made the appointment and I didn't want to cancel the same day of the appointment knowing that the stylist would be getting out and probably needed the income. She gives me a reasonably priced haircut and tries to work around my schedule so I hate to inconvenience her.

I pulled chicken out of the freezer so we will have that with mashed potatoes and green beans and cottage cheese. Lunch today was scrambled eggs with leftover sausage as well as toast. It is Thursday so I'm trying to use up what I have before we hit the grocery tomorrow and Saturday.

I took out all our received Christmas card and updated my address book.

Before supper I hope to dive into book #7.

Not a cheap day

January 6th, 2015 at 01:29 am

Today has not been a no spend day.

It hasn't been a bargain day either.

It has been one of those days you save up for.

Today is my birthday. DH took me shopping at a clothing store that had sent me a 15% off card for my birthday. I found some items that were 40% off and using the 15% and then using my credit card, also received 5% off. That was nice, but it still cost money. But, I did find some new clothes.

We went to a pricey restaurant for my meal. No balloons, no singing waiters, just an excellent dinner with fabulous service. It was nice and relaxing and wonderful.

I didn't worry about the cost or saving money or feeling guilty. All those days I scrimped and saved...all those overworked leftovers...all those coupons clipped and sales enabled me to be like a queen today.

Now tomorrow...I go back to being ordinary penny pinching me!

A little this and that on a cold January day

January 4th, 2015 at 10:31 pm

It's cold here in Central Illinois with a few snow flurries. Guess it is to be expected since we are truly in winter.

Here are the books I've read so far in 2015:

Book #1: "Almost True Confessions" by Jane O'Connor. Murder mystery by the same author of the "Fancy Nancy" series.

Book #2: "Kitchen Organization Tips and Secrets" by Deniece Schofield.

Book #3: "Top Secret Twenty One" by Janet Evanovich.

I won't finish a book today. After church, spent most of the day doing housework. That darn maid, laundress, and cook did not show up at the house yet again! Smile

We did make it to the library yesterday and I checked out a couple more books and some magazines. I most certainly get my tax dollars' worth out of the library.

I did splurge this week. I wanted new curtains for my bathroom. It has a small window. I was very frustrated that so many places don't carry anything but 84 inch panels. I refuse to go to Wal-Mart because I consider it the evil empire. Our K-Mart is barely hanging in there, but they did have a set of two short panels and valance for the pricely sum of $13 with tax. I think I paid $9 for the ones I had been using over 10 years ago, so I think I got my money's worth out of them. I shoved them in the laundry and they will be washed, dried, and folded in case I want or need them for something else.

Last summer we went to a garage sale and someone had two sets of sheers for $1 each. They were just what I was looking for to put in my husband's den. I tend to re-purpose our curtains. The ones in our computer room had at one time been in the living room for a number of years. I still have some of them in the linen closet in case I need them for something else. A couple we know thinks we are super stingy when it comes to spending. I spend money, I just hate to spend it foolishly. They had their curtains custom made to the tune of $1500. Wow...I told them I don't think I've spent $1500 on all the curtains in my house, including the ones sitting in the linen closet. Of course this couple complains about not having money...golly, wonder why!

A friend of mine also does a lot of cooking like I do. We were comparing notes about menus and it was funny, we both planned a couple of the same meals. Maybe great minds do think alike!