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Spendy Couple of Weeks

August 7th, 2022 at 07:26 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 06:13 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?

Grape Jelly

June 27th, 2022 at 03:24 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!

Sometimes Pinterest is my Arch Enemy

June 19th, 2022 at 06:42 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?

A few wins

June 12th, 2022 at 07:09 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. 

 

Extreme Couponing on the News

May 15th, 2022 at 06:22 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 09:46 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. 

Home Fix Ups

March 27th, 2022 at 06:44 pm

Each month we put money in an account that we designate as our home fund. We have other savings accounts too, but we have used it to pay for things like a new roof, a new driveway, and a new sink. Honestly, I cannot imagine not having some savings to pay for stuff, expected or unexpected. 

We have lived in this house 24 years. When we bought it, we figured we wanted to stay since it is a ranch, has few steps to get in, and is in a decent neighborhood. But things wear out. A friend from church has a son who has a remodeling business so we contacted him for a quote on updating a tub/shower, bathroom floor, fixing the wall in the bathroom, fixing a dishwasher problem (it wasn't the dishwasher, but the installer problem), and replacing a light in the closet. We talked to him and received a quote before Christmas. Like everyting prices have gone up since the last time we had anything of any magnitude done, and we had to wait until his crew was free, as well as when he got everything ordered. So, for the past two weeks we have been under construction. The crew was respectful not only to us, but to our house. They ran into a couple of problems, and we figured them out, but the house was built in 1979, so we assumed they would find some issues. At least nothing was major. They cleaned up after themselves at the end of each day. 

DH has a light in his closet that works. We have a new tub/shower that is lower than the old tub which was quite high and we have grab bars. We have a stool that seems to work far better than the old one. There is new flooring and the squeak that was under that floor is gone with some extra bracing. And my favorite part -- my dishwasher works! It was an easy fix -- we bought the machine in August of 2020 and paid a "professional" to install it. Twice. It never worked right. We had the warranty company come out and they said it wasn't the dishwasher. The fix was there are levelers on the bottom of the dishwasher and the installer never bothered to use them so the dishwasher sat at a weird angle and wouldn't run since it wasn't balanced. 

Was this expensive? You bet! Was it worth it! Definitely! It also has a great side effect...I've been cleaning and decluttering as well. Saving that money made it far easier than getting a loan. 

This and That

February 13th, 2022 at 10:30 pm

This is going to be a mish mash of topics. I apologize in advance.

I don't know if I'm the only one, but the news about Russia and Ukraine is unsettling me. I know like there's not much I can do to even resolve this, but pray which I have been doing, but when I feel out of control I do something to give me control and that is bake. DH always knew when I had a bad day at work because I would bake sweet muffins of some sort when I was fixing supper. I explained that although I could not control what happened in my life, I knew putting certain ingredients together following the recipe would result in the same product: muffins. There was a comfort to that. 

A friend gave me 5 books in a tearoom mystery series and the last one talked about tea breads. I researched them since there was no recipe in the book and discovered one that you make with Earl Grey tea. I like that type of tea so I was delighted to try it. Instead of one big loaf, I made 3 small ones and gave two away. Since Valentine's Day is coming up, I also made some applesauce bread and gave those away with some cards. Here is the recipe I used and it came from the Food and Wine website:

Earl Grey Tea Bread

2 single serving Earl Grey tea bags

1 1/4 cup boilng water

2 cups prunes, diced

2 large eggs

1/2 cup plus 2 T light brown sugar

1 1/2 t orange zest

2 1/2 c all purpose flour

2 1/2 t baking poweder

1/4 t salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Brew tea with tea bags and hot water. Add prunes until some tea is absorbed and prunes are softened. Pull out and discard tea bags and let cool.

Whisk together eggs in a large bowl. Add the brown sugar and orange zest. Stir in the tea and prunes. Add flour, baking powder, and salt. Gently fold in until there are no flour streaks. Pour into buttered loaf pan. Bake until skewer comes out clean approximately 1 hour to 1 hour, ten minutes). Let sit on wire rack for ten minutes and then remove from pan and let the bread cool on wire rack. Serve with softened butter. 

Optional, but I did do this suggestion and was to toast it lightly. It was amazing! 

 

Besides the bread baking, I did some frugal stuff around here. I still had some material left from the last hot pad I covered, so I sewed a cover for another one. I will say it did brighten up the drawer I keep them in; they look so much nicer and newer. I have been saving and washing bread bags and using them to store things as well as marinate meat. I'm also one of those folks who will wash and reuse foil? Are you?

Our newspaper comes in an orange plastic bag when the weather is bad and a few years ago I made a windsock out of them using an old yogurt container. I still have the old one and it is pretty beat up, so I have been saving the bags and plan to make another one for this year. I have also been looking for sites on reusing things as much as I can. We already use cloth bags for the grocery when we can. For awhile during the worst of Covid, they wouldn't let us bring them in. I wash mine frequently, but I understand, because you never know what kind of homes they come from. And I believe I've mentioned my love affair with glass jars, especially Mason jars. I am sorry so many places use plastic jars because I really don't like them. I'm sure it is cheaper, except I won't reuse them for food stuff. 

I also spent an afternoon clearing out some papers in my desk. It was long past the time I should have done that. I figured if I hadn't used or needed them in the past year, I didn't need to keep them. Many will go into the shred pile, but most went to recycling. Kind of sad how I like to hold on to silly things. But I did feel better doing some decluttering, even if it was a small space. 

This was my mish mash of the week. I kept busy as you can tell. 

 

Snow Days

February 6th, 2022 at 08:51 pm

This week was not a fun one as far as the weather. Here in Central Illinois we started with a lot of rain Tuesday afternoon, which then became ice, then it started snowing. We received over 11 inches of snow from Wednesday through Thursday and then we had high winds which meant we had huge drifts. Then, as if this wasn't enough, the temperature dropped. Sadly our city road crews did not keep up with things and we were snowbound for three days. Fortunately we did not lose power. I had already slipped to the store Monday morning when they started talking multiple inches because I wanted to avoid the panic shopping. I didn't think we'd be able to do our usual Wednesday morning grocery shopping. I didn't get fresh fruit other than bananas and tangerines since we still had some, but I did pick up a loaf of bread and a half gallon of milk as well as some yogurt. 

Because of the extreme cold and the ice under the snow, I did not even try to shovel. On Friday a kind neighbor came and used his snow blower and cleaned out our driveway. DH and I did the sidewalk from the driveway to the front door.  The city snow plow didn't come until Saturday morning around 6 a.m. Our streets were so deep, we couldn't have gotten out even with our driveway cleared.

I spent some of the time doing genealogy, but I also spent some time sewing. I am hard on pot holders. I cook a lot and I use them a lot and although I try to keep them clean, I still spill or touch something and therefore I wash them a lot. I had two that I've kept for sentimental reasons. They weren't really pretty or anything, but my mom had given them to me years and years ago. But, even after many washings, they looked kind of icky and they were getting thinner and thinner. The stuffing inside had compressed. I looked at them and being frugal, I decided I didn't want to throw them away. So, I sewed them together and then made a cover to recover them of some leftover material. I did it all by hand because I didn't want to get the sewing machine out. It kept me busy Thursday afternoon and I felt like I had made something out of nothing so I counted it as a win.

We were able to get out yesterday and to be honest, after being homebound for over 3 days, it wore me out. We did hit the store for some fresh fruit and kitty litter. We use the kitty litter on our driveway since salt is so corrosive. People were shopping like crazy and fortunately we didn't need any bread because there wasn't any on the shelf. I guess Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday during the start of the snow, the shelves were bare at most stores so it made me feel good I have canned what I did this last summer, plus I buy extra things when it is on sale. 

We have a Facebook page for our subdivision and a dad said his son wanted some money and he said this was the perfect time to go out and make some. He offered a deal for his 12 year old to come and shovel the snow at the end of our driveways for $10 that the snow plow had left. We jumped at that offer! It was darn cold out there so it was a pleasure to give this kid some work and some money. DH gave him a little more since he came on time and was police and respectful. 

I'm ready for winter to end!

Old fashioned skills

January 30th, 2022 at 07:35 pm

Handwritten notes, button sewing, and leftovers -- what do they all have in common?

I believe they are old fashioned skills.

A week or so ago, a friend and I were talking about writing thank you notes and how we still like to send and receive those thank you notes in the mail. Recently I read an opinion column where a man said writing thank you letters as well as letters to companies have resulted in some grand things for him. He complained to a CEO of a company that he had had the repair people out over and over and eventually had to fix something himself. He said he didn't get nasty or threatening, but wondered if the CEO would at least reimburse him for his doing his own repair. The CEO apologized and went a step further and not only paid what it cost the man for the parts, but gave him some of the money back he had paid them initially. 

I think we can agree with the cost of food going up due to inflation, we are trying to squeeze more and more meals out of what we buy and make. I've always used leftovers either for lunches or what I tease DH as our buffet dinners. Some of the meals you get when you out are so huge, so not bringing the leftovers home is almost wasteful. I see lots of recipes for making use of stuff and I know that is going to be the case for us tonight. I made a huge pot of vegetable soup this week. We have had one meal already. We plan to have another tonight. A couple of days ago I fixed spaghetti and I don't put the sauce with the spaghetti, but serve them separately. We didn't eat all the spaghetti so I will chop it into small pieces and will add it to the soup as well as the little bit of leftover sauce. It will make the soup a little different than what we initially had. I am predicting we will have enough soup to freeze for another meal as well. I know I keep a bag in the freezer for leftover vegetables, you know a spoonfull of cooked carrots, or a few green beans, and I often use that to make vegetable soup with the other stuff. 

I recently ran across an article about sewing on buttons. Here is the url if you want to read it: 

https://www.southernliving.com/culture/do-you-know-how-to-sew-on-a-button?utm_campaign=southernliving_southernliving&utm_content=link&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_term=61f48c445ce2c700010cd246&fbclid=IwAR1kSLiAfLIJ8czHsEJr2COkjBykeFsiZ0qogXpexr6CyA3rUB3JbMB5IhI

Anyway, I just can't imagine taking it to someone and paying them to sew on a button. I cut off buttons of stuff that is no longer wearable and keep them in case we lose a button so I can hopefully find one that will work. A few years ago a woman I worked with popped the button off her slacks. She said she would be throwing them out and buying new. I told her to bring the slacks and the button and I would sew them on, but she refused. I thought it was wasteful. Before teachers were required to do all the state testing and basically regimented on what they had to teach and when, I used to do an art project where we would "decorate" felt Christmas trees by sewing on buttons. I figured that was a sneaky way of teaching a life skill. I would ask my friends for any stray buttons they had and I would teach the kids how to thread a needle and sew on buttons. I had to stop doing that since administrators felt since it wasn't on the state test, it wasn't a worthwhile thing to teach. 

I like reading articles on different skills and what people used to do. So  many were to save money and make do with what one had. 

Christmas spending and saving

December 25th, 2021 at 10:03 pm

 Today is Christmas and I find it hard to believe it is almost over. All the excitement and planning and now it is almost over. It kind of makes me melancholy.

DH and I went overboard on Christmas presents this year. Everything is paid for, so no outstanding debt there. We open a Christmas Club each year and I put money in when we get out pension checks. But, it was nice not to scrimp. We plan to spend money on some remodeling and hopefully if Covid ever settles down, some traveling. 

We had Christmas Eve Candlelight Service last night and it was so sweet and moving. It was nice sitting with friends (masked of course) and getting to enjoy some sort of normalcy. We still socially distance, but at least we were close enough we could see each other and not do the Facebook virtual stuff. 

Today was quiet for us. We invited a man from church to join us for dinner. I know he's been vaccinated and also the booster since I'm the one who set up the appointments and filled out the paperwork for him. He is careful and wears a mask when he goes out as well. Our friend was in an automobile accident years ago and as a result, he often has short term memory issues. His parents go to Florida over the winter, so he is basically home alone and although he can take care of himself, we know it gets lonely for him. He joined us for the meal and left and I guess called his parents. His father just called to thank us for being so nice to their son and how much they appreciate us for doing so. That made my day! 

Hope your Christmas is a blessed and joyful one!

Christmas spending and saving

December 21st, 2021 at 12:32 pm

Again, I find it difficult to believe Christmas is already here! 

Every year we open up a Christmas Club and we use that to fund our Christmas shopping. I saw on the news last night someone said spending was up because people want to make this a special Christmas and give a little more. I thought, I bet inflation plays a part in that as well. I wonder how many people will be owing big time once the holidays are over. I noticed on many of the blogs many of you made your own gifts, or shopped throughout the year so you won't owe after the season is over.

We already started our Christmas Club for 2022. Just hope 2022 is less Covid and more joy!

Potpourri

September 21st, 2021 at 06:13 pm

The past couple of weeks I've stayed busy, but nothing really earth shattering. I thought I was finished canning, but did wind up with some more tomatoes. Then a friend gave us some zucchini which I'm working on using. I made some zucchini relish, and am itching to try zucchini marmalade. We purchased a half share of CSA this summer and there were cucumbers in it, so I made some sweet relish too. 

It's hard to believe September is nearly over. DH's 75th birthday is Monday. I plan to bake him a chocolate cake and we hope to go out for supper. I spent some time cross stitching some towels for Christmas baskets as well as crocheting some dish cloths. I plan to make those little baskets up with those and some jams, jellies, and relish. 

There was a spot on the news a couple nights ago saying to do one's Christmas shopping early because they think there might be shortages of stuff.  I hope they aren't just saying that to put people in panic mode again. Other than DH, my shopping is basically finished. He usually tells me some clothes he wants. We give money to those who do things like cut our hair. 

The group at church branched out a little this year and we adopted a group that gives blankets to people who donate organs of loved ones. We made 30 blankets and I mailed them yesterday. We continue to make hats and scarves and dish cloths. 

I guess we are saving money because other than the normal stuff like groceries and medicine, we aren't going shopping. There isn't much of anything I need or want at this point, except for people to stay healthy and the Pandemic to end.  

Mish Mash

September 4th, 2021 at 07:06 pm

Sadly, I think my canning is over for this year. I think we have enough, but I always like to have extra on hand. DH had a good tomato crop, but he grew more heirlooms and they don't produce as many. But they sure were tasty. 

A few months ago I found this small weaving loom at a thrift store. Someone donated some rug yarn at church and no one wanted to use it -- a couple of skeins are not going to make much of anything plus it is rough stuff to work with. I decided to use it and make a scrubby for myself. I'm almost finished. I plan to donate the loom when I finish because it is OK, but nothing I really want to use. I did use one of the skeins to make a crocheted basket and one of the other ladies wanted it so I gave it to her. 

We continue to work on hats and scarves with the church knitting group. I finished a scarf and had some yarn left over. I saw a pattern using the rings from milk jugs and have been saving a few of them. You crochet around them to make a mini wreath ornament. So, I did that since the yarn was green, then made a dish cloth and used up the rest of the yarn. We have been making dish cloths to donate to one of the food pantries and women's shelter. A friend of mine is involved with the local CASA group and asked if we could provide hats for the kids so that is one of the groups we intend to give the hats to. 

I had some yarn left over from a hat and I used it to crochet a small bag to hold soap. I guess you can put a whole bar in it, but on a couple of the frugal sites, you put in parts of bars and then use that to keep the pieces together and lather up. I made myself one a few months ago and it did work. So, the bag is going to a friend for Christmas, but I'm going to include a whole bar of soap with hers. I also crocheted a dish cloth and then a smaller dish cloth and attached it to a scrubby. I'm not making as many Christmas presents this year simply because I haven't had the initiative. A lady and I were talking about this at church. She's a big crafts person and she said lately she hasn't felt like doing much of anything either. I'm wondering if the fact the Pandemic seems to never end and if we are just getting mind weary of it all. 

We received some much needed rain here today. DH is delighted because he was worrying about the yard browning. He hopes it will bring it back. I used the time inside to clean and organize the linen closet which I have been procrastinating about. It wasn't as bad I as thought, but I still was dreading it. 

The first Tuesday of the month, our Walgreens has senior day where if you are 55 or older, you can get a percentage off of anything not on sale. This doesn't include prescriptions however. But, I often try to make a list of things we use and often are not on sale and save a bit stocking up. It's fall and I'm in my stock up mode anyway on so many levels. Anyway, I'm making my list for that. We don't need a ton, but saving a bit here and there is always pleasant. 

Not being trendy paid off!

August 15th, 2021 at 08:17 pm

I know I'm usually out of step with whatever is the current trend. I'm OK with that.

Let me briefly explain. For a time in my life, I wanted silence. Being a music lover, that was strange, but I didn't want music or talk or television or anything while I did things around the house or while I was in the car. 

Recently everything has become more pronounced in my life. Music seems sweeter. My enjoyment is immense.

DH has quite a collection of CDs, and one of them was the greatest hits of ABBA - very upbeat and fun. Except DH isn't always the most careful and the middle of the CD is damaged. Very discouraging when I wanted to listen to one of my favorites: "Money, money, money!" (OK, imagine that, eh?)

I decided I would splurge and go to Target and buy a new one. Imagine my chagrin to discover Target no longer carries them. We have no music stores in our town so that is out. I refuse to go to what I term the evil empire aka Walmart. So, I figured I would just have to do without. 

On our weekly thrift shop foray one place was selling CDs for a quarter each. And you guessed it, ABBA was in the group of them. Of course I snatched that up! What a delight. What a joy! What a bargain! How fortuitous!

So, apparently CDs are passe. All the better for me -- a quarter for some great tunes!

Being Frugal

March 24th, 2021 at 08:23 pm

A few weeks ago I happened upon 3 books at a thrift store for 50 cents each: "The Tightwad Gazette," and the next two volumes. So, for the sum of $1.50 and tax, I had all three books. Normally I get books from the library, but our library has been getting rid of older books (I'm not happy about it either), so they do not have these books. 

I just finished reading them. Yes, I realize they were set in the 1990s, but some things still ring true. I honestly think a lot of the things we discuss here on SA would make Amy proud. 

One thing she mentioned was although when things were no longer tight as far as money, she continued being frugal because it was so ingrained in her lifestyle. I think for most of us, we would say the same. 

Now that I have finished them, I plan to donate them to a thrift store and hope someone else can get some good from them. I think for less than $2, I derived a lot of pleasure of learning some new things and having some things validated.

 

Weekend Warriors?

March 23rd, 2021 at 08:41 pm

DH and I spent a big share of Saturday and Sunday working in the yard.

Let me make myself perfectly clear, I am not a yard person. I get sunburned easily, have allergies, and basically am not a happy camper. Yes, I wear a floppy hat and long sleeves. 

Anyway, we did get quite a bit done. When we moved into this house almost 23 years ago, the front had these ugly bushes with white rock around them. DH wanted to plant flowers, but rocks are not condusive to growing plants. We hired a friend to add garden timbers in front of this so he could plant some flowers. My friend was the kind of guy who always did everything exactly right. There were some garden timbers around the other side of the yard. Well, 23 plus years have taken a toll on the wood. We decided to pull the timbers and get rid of them. DH sawed them into small pieces to dispose of them. Except I think my friend must have buried the posts halfway to China because I couldn't find the bottom of them. Of course digging around plants makes it dicey to find the bottom. We decided to leave them. We had some limestone pieces we moved and that meant digging up the bottom pieces since it had sunk into the dirt. And those puppies were heavy pieces to begin with.

Well, two afternoons and we got them moved. We figure we saved about $1000 not hiring someone to do all this. It's not perfect, but works. 

We wanted to get it done before planting season because instead of flowers, DH has planted herbs in that area. Our Oregano comes up each year, but he plants others on each side. He had to trim the Oregano since it was starting to creep into the yard since the former rotten timbers no longer provided a barrier. 

We did wind up spending about $26 on bags of top soil becasue we had to fill in the areas where the bottom layer of limestone pieces were that we dug up. 

If nothing else, not having rotten timbers decaying does make the area look better. 

Last year my yard work was helping DH with the "dwarf" burning bushes that were over 12 feet tall. Sure glad he didn't buy regular size burning bushes years ago! LOL They had gotten away from him, so we spent days and days trimming and cleaning up the stuff. Other than our sweat and sore muscles, it didn't cost us anything. 

Just for the record, though, I'm not a good weekend warrior. I was ready for bed at 6 p.m. each night. LOL

Rainy Sunday Potpouri

February 28th, 2021 at 08:52 pm

It rained over night and we needed it. Our lake is low so this precipitation is a good thing and I'm a happy person it isn't snow or ice. We had warmer temps this past week -- in the 50s -- so I think people are getting spring fever.

We had to have the plumber out and am awaiting that bill, but we have the money to pay. Other than that, just keeping up with the day to day expenses. My credit card bill was lower this past month and I think part of it is because we haven't spent as much on groceries. I have been trying to use a lot of what we have and making things stretch. Tonight is the third seating of the huge pot of vegetable soup. It started out with a beef roast and potatoes and carrots for the first meal, then after we had that, I used the leftover beef, broth, carrots, and potatoes as a starter for vegetable soup. What we have left from tonight will go in the freezer. The roast was kind of expensive, but if we get five meals from it, I think we did pretty well and it is far cheaper than eating out. Maybe even far healthier. 

I have been trying to learn to quilt. I started this project a few months ago. It is a throw and you embroider the top, then quilt the thing.  Although I have enjoyed it, it's been long enough that I'm sort of getting tired of working on it. Because of the close work, it tires my eyes and makes my fingers sore. I will be glad when and if it gets finished. I hate to not finish it and go on to something else because I don't want it sitting around taunting me. 

I keep checking online to see if there are canning lids in our local stores. I think I have enough for our own perosnal canning, but I normally give things away too, and if I don't have the extra lids, I don't think that is going to happen. Right now some of the stores have the cases of jars with rings and lids, but honestly, I do not want to buy more jars. I have plenty as it is. 

My church is doing this Red Letter Challenge. It is a workbook that has something for the 40 days of Lent and challenges. The Red Letter is about the red lettering of Jesus' words in the Bible. One of our projects (I skipped ahead) is to collect items for our local women's shelter. There are two places that house women and children who are either homeless or need to find a short term place to stay due to domestic abuse. One of the items requesteed was underwear. When I heard that, I thought, why didn't I think of that? Who would want to get used underwear, even if it has been washed? So, I'm trying to search out places to find reasonably priced underwear that we can buy that will be easy to take care of and sturdy. 

Last summer we found an Aerogarden at a local thrift store. It had one box of 3 pods with it unopened. It was for herbs. After our garden herbs froze, I decided to start these. Well, I guess the seeds must have been too old. Nothing happened. So, I used some leftover lettuce seeds and they went to town! I purchased three more pods to put with it, and if they grow as much as the original ones, we should be doing well for lettuce for some small salads. I'm kind of excited because that was the real reason I wanted the Aerogarden in the first place. So, all in, not counting the leftover lettuce seeds, I have less than $30 invested. I looked online and the same one lists for over $100 new. 

As you can see, this is one of those posts that has a lot of this and that. 

No Lottery Win Here and Saving Money with Good Maintenance

January 24th, 2021 at 07:26 pm

Illinois is one of the states that participates in the MegaMillions Lottery tickets. Sad to say, we didn't win. Of course, we didn't play either. I guess some lucky winner in Michigan will be the next millionaire. DH turned to me last night when they announced where the winning ticket was sold and said he bet that even if we won a jackpot like that, I would still shop at Aldi and clip coupons, and reuse bread bags. You know, he's right! He said being frugal is ingrained me and I don't doubt it. 

This week was spent doing things that are in effect, taking care of things. I have a few pairs of shoes that were expensive and are leather. I spent some time using some shoe cream on them and polishing them. One is a pair of ankle boots that I cannot even remember how old they are. They don't look perfect, but the fact that they look as good as they do I chalk up to using this shoe cream/polish on them. I know when I went in a year or so ago with a pair of leather shoes, the salesman recognized them as being quite a bit older and asked if I wore them a lot. I said yes, but I try to take care of them. He said that was the key. 

Twice a year I use a cleaner and polish on my wooden kitchen cabinets. They are 16 years old which probably isn't really old, but my kitchen gets a work out with all the cooking, baking, and canning I do. 

I have a couple of pots that belonged to my grandmother. I don't know when she got them, but I know they are at least over 60 years old. I wash them by hand. I try not to let them get scratched or burn stuff in them. It's amazing how quality stuff lasts when you take care of it. I have a Pyrex dish that also was my grandmother's. It still looks pretty nice. I have a set of wooden handled steak knives that are over 30 years old. They still look great because we hand wash them and I treat the handles with a special oil so they don't dry out.  I'm going to say that taking care of stuff also saves money because I don't have to buy a lot of new stuff when the older stuff keeps going. 

These are just a few examples of good maintenance. Do you have something you've taken care of that still looks and works great?

 

You Deserve It?

January 4th, 2021 at 12:49 am

Looks like 2021 has finally gotten here. 2020 was a challenging year on so many fronts and I think most of us hope that the new year is far healthier. 

One thing I noticed before Christmas were so many of the advertisements and emails and messages is how many claimed people deserved to buy this and that because "you deserve it" after the year we've had. I wonder how many succumbed to the persuasion. I have a friend who does subscribe to that theory, and has for years and then complains how he's running out fo money. 

I don't know if we deserved it or not, but we did trade cars. We felt we were treated fairly and got far more for our 8 year old car (only 35K miles) than we expected. We got a three year loan simply because we owe for nothing else and wanted to help our credit scores. 

That was the big news as far as finances for us. We continue to eat at home -- we really don't have a choice since Illinois only allows take out and to be honest, as much as we would like to help the local restaurants, after you order, go pick it up, bringing it home, reheat it, and then clean up, it just isn't worth the expense and trouble. 

My birthday is Tuesday and to be honest, it is going to be a little bit of a challenge. I'll be 60. It's weird, 40 and 50 didn't bother me, but for some reason, 60 is. One of my friends who has self taught herself on baking and decorating cookies brought some she made over; what a pleasant surprise. A far better one than the two we had this morning -- 6 inches of snow (we were to get a dusting to an inch) and no power for a few hours. Fortunately we did regain power. Hopefully the snow will melt in the next couple of days. 

Let's hope that 2021 is a wonderful year for all of us!

Looking forward to election day

November 2nd, 2020 at 03:49 pm

Let me point out this is not a political post. 

That being said, I'm looking forward to election day because I'm simply tired of all the nasty political advertisement and social media posts. I want to tell them all, go back to kindergarten and learn how to play nice. It's not just one side, it is both sides. Egad. 

In other news, DH picked the last of the herbs and the leeks and green onions. We did a third planting of onions and they are small, but hey, food is food, right? I plan to use some of the onions and leeks and roast them with potatoes and bell peppers as part of our supper tonight. 

We had a nice time on Halloween. We put a bowl of candy in the middle of the driveway and sat in the opening to the garage door and instructed the kids to take two pieces of candy. It was fun seeing the kids dressed up and the kids and parents were very polite. We have quite a bit of candy left over. I have some cookie recipes on using it up, so I may put the candy in the freezer and then make Christmas cookies with the leftover stuff. 

Last week the stock market wasn't very good. Sure hope it rebounds. We haven't spent as much as usual simply because there isn't a lot we need or want. Almost all of my Christmas shopping is done. Just waiting on DH to tell me about a musical CD he wants so I can order it. I may start thinking about addressing Christmas cards in the next few days and will need to buy stamps. I guess I'm old fashioned. I like sending and receiving cards. One of my friend's daughter just started college and I have been mailing her a card each month and her mom visited her dorm room over the weekend and said she has the cards tacked to her bulletin board and was so happy to get "real mail." 

Hope your day is a good one.

Food, Glorious Food

October 29th, 2020 at 08:22 pm

I notice that many of our blogs are food oriented lately. Maybe it is the cooler weather or perhaps we are all foodies at heart. 

I was going through the freezer and noticed I still had some slices of ham there. I pulled them out to defrost and decided to use them for two different meals. One is for tonight -- quiche. It's dark and damp here today and nothing makes me happier than to have a hot meal from the oven when the weather is like this. Thursdays are usually egg night at our house anyway. I went out and pulled some green onions and chopped them as well as some Sage and Oregano. I added bell pepper and some chopped mushrooms and will add cheese to the eggs when I whip them with Half and Half. DH likes this type of quiche and it should be nutritious and filling.

The rest of the ham is being cooked with beans for ... ta da...ham and beans. OK, not original, but something good. I had some chicken broth in the fridge and thought, I better use it. A number of years ago we went to an Amish fundraiser and the Amish lady made ham and beans and besides chopped onion, she chopped celery. We had never had it with celery and I've made it that way ever since. I figure another vegetable won't hurt. I plan to make skillet cornbread the day we have the ham and beans. A cheap, economical meal and using up something from the freezer.

I notice I have quite a selection of soups in the freezer so we will be partaking of those in the next few days as well. It sure will help save on the grocery bill and using up some of the stuff will also help with the packed freezer. 

Are you having trick or treating on Halloween? So far we are allowed to have it as long as we do not hand out candy up close. Our plan is to put a bowl on a box in the driveway and put candy in it and sit back aways so we can greet the kids and see their costumes. Hopefully no one will empty the bowl for just themselves. If they do, they do. 

Well, nice we can again blog. I feel like I missed out on your lives.

I don't know if it is food, but I'm getting ready to fix a cup of tea. Reusing a tea bag of course. Frugal is as frugal does! Smile

Who was that masked saver?

August 11th, 2020 at 06:56 pm

Yesterday was a busy shopping day, masks included. We decided to eat lunch out. I ordered a salad and although it was expensive - over $9, I brought half of it home so I had a second lunch today with it. While we were out in the north end of town, I decided to do some shopping. DH was surprised when I said I wanted to do some shopping because other than grocery stores and browsing thrift stores, I rarely want to go anywhere to shop. However, I had some things in mind that I was looking for.

Being a retired teacher, I still like using notebook paper. Staples had it on sale. While we were there, I noticed they had a 3 pack of Kleenex on sale as well so we bought that as well as some ink refills for a pen. I received a coupon for $10 off our next purchase of $20, so I think I may have to go back and get more Kleenex. DH has bad sinus problems and he goes through a ton of Kleenex besides using cloth hankies.

Our next foray was Joann Fabrics. I wanted one of those foam ink pads. I had another one that wasn't foam and it seemed to have dried up pretty quickly. I looked at yarn not because I wanted any, but I was nosy. It looked like someone had bought a lot of yarn because there were empty bins in some of the more economical yarn. I also wanted some elastic. Since I think we will be wearing masks for awhile, I wanted to try and make some masks. However, other than the really wide stuff, they were out and the clerk said people were in over the weekend shopping like mad for elastic and yarn. No kidding. The stamp pad was on sale. Yay, another savings!

We hit Walgreens to pick up a prescription and they had grape juice and peanut butter on sale. We drink a small glass of grape juice with supper since we are not wine drinkers. We have peanut butter sandwiches for lunch many times so figured we might as well stock up. I bought some of those elastic hair holders to use instead of elastic. They let me use my Balance Reward points for $20 so I spent $11 and some change there after they took off the $20. All in all, I spent less than $100, but felt like I had gotten some good deals and have worked on my stock pile of food and paper products. Plus, I had a couple of things that were wants: the stamp pad and the ink cartridges. Yes, I can use the free pens, but I really like the Cross pen I was given in 1979.

I spent part of the afternoon stamping some cards. I had found a new package of blank cards and envelopes at a thrift store for a quarter a couple of weeks ago so I thought I could stamp them with some designs. I have had the stamps for years and years. I had a red one and green one already so the black one just added to my collection. It was something fun to do.

So, that was it for my shopping trip. I was pleased with my results and shopping on a Monday later morning, early afternoon meant few crowds. No one to ask, "Who was that masked saver?"

Food Follies

August 9th, 2020 at 06:40 pm

Our pantry is getting pretty full. No complaints either! DH's tomatoes have really been producing, but have sort of slowed down in the past week. We had a few days of cooler temps and I think the plants took a break. But that was fine. I started canning a few weeks ago when things were going hot and heavy and I think I have more then enough tomatoes and spaghetti sauce made for the winter. What a blessing that is!

Our neighbors shared some of their cucumbers so I'm going to make a few jars of sweet pickles and then give them some. It's nice when there are good neighbors, not just ones that share, but just nice people who realize that there is something about being kind to each other. Last winter I gave them some jars of green beans and spaghetti sauce and asked they return the jars and rings. They did. We've been passing things back and forth ever since -- baked goods, vegetables, and it's really nice.

I have a friend who lives a couple states away and she said she found a salsa recipe that is a little beyond what she considered the norm: it also incorporates cucumbers. I had never heard of that. But, I Googled it, and there are a couple of recipes like that. It's nice to learn something new. I don't make salsa, so I don't think I'll try it, but nevertheless, I learned something.

My state, Illinois, seems to continue to have large numbers of the virus cases, so I don't look for our church to be able to have our church bazaar the first Saturday in December. It breaks my heart. We bake cookies and sell them by the pound as well as other sweet treats. I guess I'll bake a lot of stuff this year and give as gifts.

I was discussing with a friend some of the meals I've made this week and she was teasing me about my using the Crockpot so much. I guess I really do. I used it three times this week. Twice because I would be canning and it was easier to just have supper in the cooker than to have to stop everything and take things off the stove to cook supper. I have read some of the blogs where people really like their Instapots. I haven't succumbed to one yet. But, I can see the draw.

Since we have been eating a lot of fresh foods from the garden, our grocery bills haven't been as high as they were in the past. That's a nice relief. We normally spend over $100 each week and the past three I've spent less than $60.



Rebates

July 1st, 2020 at 11:57 pm

We have received a couple of rebates. One was from Menards for some things we purchased for a new sink and faucet. We didn't really need anything as far as home improvement stuff, but then I thought about it and decided to use the money to buy paper towels, facial tissue, and toilet paper. I figured that is stuff we would buy anyway and why not use this "found money" to purchase it?

DH uses Miracle Gro garden soil to enrich his garden and they had a rebate of $2 a bag. He bought ten bags, so that meant $20. We got the rebate for it and I'm going to put it in the home improvement savings account.

Just a little catch up

May 24th, 2020 at 05:57 pm

It's been a busy week as I tick things off my to do list.

One thing I've been waiting to do until it was a decent day with no rain is clean up the car. We had road tar on the bottom half of it, probably from the pot hole filler they put in. We have so many pot holes, they are filling them and even when you try to avoid them, you still wind up running over some of it. So, yesterday afternoon was spent working on the car. About 4 hours later, it looks a lot better inside and out since we vacuumed and put some of that Armor All stuff on the plastic inside and out and washed and waxed the exterior. It's 7 years old and other than a few paint chips here and there, it isn't faring too badly.

DH worked some in the garden too. We had so many gloomy, rainy days, he was very worried about his vegetable garden. We've had some sun the past couple of days and I think the plants are excited.

We were hoping our peonies were going to open so we could put them on graves for Memorial Day. Sadly, only a couple have.

I asked DH to plant radishes earlier this spring and he did so, reluctantly. Well, we've had a few ready to eat and I pointed out how healthy they are for us, now DH can hardly wait to get more planted since we've eaten all that are ready. Funny how when you have to stay home and not go out, your taste buds appreciate different things.

Since we do not have room to grow green beans, I buy fresh ones from the store and can them. I'm about done canning beans for the upcoming year. I also decided to try my hand at making dill pickles. I've never made them before. DH doesn't like them, but I do, so I bought a couple of cucumbers to work with. I was pleased with the outcome. Here is the original recipe:

Dill Pickles

8 pounds of small pickling cucumbers
4 cups distilled vinegar
3/4 c sugar
1/2 c Kosher salt
4 c water
3 T pickling spice
7 heads fresh dill
7 cloves garlic

Place cucumbers in large pot and cover with ice. Let sit for 2 hours. Drain and pat dry. Place all other ingredients in sauce pan and let simmer for 15 minutes. Add to large pot with cucumbers and cover. Put cucumbers in sterilized jars. You can hot water can them if you wish.

I of course did not make this much because I wanted to try making them and I didn't have fresh dill; I used dry so I used less, but they are pretty good and will satisfy my dill pickle craving I have every so often. I guess I continue to be astounded how expensive pickle products are. So, I made 2 1/2 pints of dill pickles for myself for a little more than $2 since I had the vinegar, sugar, dill, and garlic. Figure that is a good way to save money.


Sunny Sunday Sort of

April 19th, 2020 at 06:30 pm

After a cool, dreary week, it has been nice to see the sun yesterday and today. Well, so far today. It's supposed to get cloudy as a cold front moves in with a chance of showers, but right now it is bright and looks springy.

DH is impatiently waiting until the chance of frost passes so he can start to plant part of his garden. We picked up some bell pepper and herbs as well as a few tomato plants before the governor has said lawn and garden places can only sell online or do curbside service. So, we move the plants inside on cold nights and then take them back outside when it is nice. We are getting our exercise anyway by doing this.

I'm impatient about the lettuce I planted way over a month ago. It's been so cold and gloomy that it has come up, but not much else. I have been covering it at night when it gets cold trying to keep it from getting frostbitten. It will probably surprise me and get big all of a sudden and I'm looking forward to when that happens.

We received our stimulus money and we let it sit in our checking account a couple of days and then moved it into savings. Right now we are doing OK money wise. I did order some whipped honey online this week and did a small Kohls order for underwear, but other than groceries and paying the regular bills, haven't been spending a lot. Other than these items, we haven't need anything. Just waiting and staying home, hoping this will soon pass.

We've seen things get a little better at the grocery stores the past couple of weeks. We shop at Aldi and Kroger. It's funny though, Kroger was totally out of flour and sugar last week. We didn't need any, just happened to go down that aisle to get something else and noticed the bare shelves. But Aldi had both. Kroger honestly had regular size packages of name brand tp too and Aldi had no tp. So, I guess it depends on the store and clientele as to what is available and what isn't. I was happy to be able to buy the loaves of bread we like. We haven't been able to for about 4 weeks.

Hope everyone is doing OK in the SA community. Hope you are all hanging in there!

What do you reuse?

March 8th, 2020 at 08:04 pm

I really like the show "Home Town" on HGTV. I guess one reason is the hosts seem like nice people. But another reason is they work with a variety of budgets. And both Erin and Ben seem to be the kind to not only use new stuff, but reuse and repurpose other things. I like watching that kind of thing and it seems I am spending a lot of time looking for ways to do just that.

As many of you know, I belong to a knitting group at my church where we loom knit hats and scarves and give to schools and other non profits in our area. We gave to 4 schools last year as well as the hospital for the preemies, and then a bunch of baby hats for one of the clinics here in town as well as a social services group and a woman's shelter. One of the things I do with the smaller bits of yarn is crochet dish cloths and I made and donated 125 of them to a local food pantry.

Besides that, I've been making those market bags and giving those away to my friends as a way to use up bigger pieces of yarn that there isn't enough for a scarf or hat. It keeps me busy (and off the streets LOL). Seriously, I just like making sure I can use up the things we have.

I saw on Pinterest how to fold newspapers and make bags so I've made a few of those too. Our comics section is printed on heavier paper and I'm thinking these would make great "gift" bags for thinner things.

I recycle what I can, but I also reuse as much stuff as I can. I seem to have a fetish for glass jars; I have all different shapes and sizes. I like them for storage as well as for leftovers. Plus we won't even mention my love affair with canning jars.

I make my own laundry detergent and have been using the same plastic jug to store it in. I figure I'm saving money as well as not contributing to using more plastic bottles. I also have smaller glass jars with some of the extra laundry detergent in it.

We eat a lot of chicken around here and one thing I do is pound the chicken breasts to tenderize them and then flour them. I hate using a new bag each time, and read a suggestion about using a bread bag. What a great idea. Granted, it is still using plastic, but I figure using them for something else helps.

I'm collecting those mesh bags that fruit and vegetables come in to make a scrubby. I don't have enough yet to make a decent one.

I reuse envelopes that mail comes in. Some I make lists on, and some I just use to store things in. We collect cancelled postage stamps for a mission at my church so I keep an envelope with those in it. We also collect coupons from the paper inserts to send to some military folks and I use one of those reply envelopes for those.

For years I've used cloth napkins and I go through a ton of kitchen towels. I do use paper towels for stuff like raw meat, but I have cut down on the paper towel use a lot. Most of my friends as well as my hubby know if they want to give me something for Christmas or birthday, a kitchen towel is appreciated.

I continue to search for ways to reuse things. We shop at thrift stores a lot for things. Most of my kitchen dishes and plates were bought preowned. I figure I'm saving money not only by doing that, but also by not using one use items like paper plates. I have a couple of cast iron skillets that I use frequently. I have one of those splatter ware lidded pans that is oblong that I use for a lot of baking and cooking. It was my grandmother's.

So, what do you you reuse or repurpose to help save money as well as our environment?

Doing What I Can

March 1st, 2020 at 11:30 pm

A friend and I recently were discussing ways we could cut more of our plastic consumption. I know we will never be able to totally forego it, but we figure anything we can do to help the environment helps. In an earlier post I talked about making bags. I have sewn a bunch of grocery bags for us and I even made some for some friends to use as well. And recently I have been knit looming some "market bags" that I will use for produce as well as gift bags.

I was thinking about my coffee maker. I use paper filters. Now, I know I'm going to offend some coffee experts, but I don't use a new filter each time. I'm the only one who drinks the stuff and I don't make a full pot each time. I put the coffee grounds on our garden, but throw away the filter. I thought, I wonder if there is such a thing as a reusable coffee filter out there for my machine.

There is and I bought one yesterday. I thought about sewing some, but I didn't have any muslin, so I figured maybe this would be the best bet and I can rinse it out without having to run it through a washer and dryer.

Speaking of which, I make my own laundry detergent. I've been using the same old vinegar bottle for years. It's scary how much water is really in laundry detergent. I also make my own knock off of Febreze.

I try to reuse any jars I get besides my canning ones. I use a ton of canning jars not only for canning but for other food storage. I have some Pyrex that is probably older than I am and cook and store things in them.

My friend wants to learn how to make bags. We are challenging each other to come up with ways to reduce our plastic. I was very careful with a plastic bag I had in the freezer with tomatoes. I washed it out and it looks like I can use it again. Hopefully my doing what I can will also save me some money!


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