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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. 

 

Trying to keep up

October 16th, 2022 at 08:19 pm

It's been another busy week around here. Week before we pulled up the garden. I dried herbs, picked tomatoes and peppers and all that. I'm still waiting on the herbs to dry more fully before I can process them. Instead I decided to do my usual fall thing which includes cleaning and polishing.

Twice a year I put orange oil on my kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities and woodwork. They aren't painted -- they are wood. I think canning really seems to suck the moisture out of the kitchen cabinets and then during the winter, the dry air seems to also do the same. I'm always amazed at how much nicer the cabinets look when I'm finished.  I figure it is a way to keep them nicer. A friend of mine commented that if I ever wanted to paint them, putting the orange oil on them would be a problem. He is probably right, but since I'm not planning on painting them, it isn't an issue.

I have a list of other things to do, like polish my shoes. I have 3 pairs and two pairs of boots that are at least 5 years old. I clean and polish them every year and they seem to be faring well. I just means keeping up with this. I decided a long time ago to buy quality shoes so that they last. A couple of pairs I wore very frequently when I worked and they are holding up well and polishing them seems to help as far as how they look. 

I also want to wash and wax the exterior of our charcoal grill. We don't grill a lot, but it is nice to do so when we want and since it sits outside, I think waxing it keeps it from fading so much. Kind of like with cars. We normally wax the cars before the winter and that's been done so that's another thing to check off the list. 

Each year my church has a Christmas Bazaar and sells cookies by the pound. Of course when the Pandemic closed things down, we didn't do that, but hope to again to it again this year. However, eggs went up from $2.31 on Wednesday, to $3.39 on Thursday at Aldi. I know butter has gone up and I see sugar and flour have increased, just not as much. I'm not sure how many cookies and baked goods we will be able to have due to increased costs. Plus, and this is a sad commentary, but many of us are getting older and some can't bake and do things like we used to. 

I constantly look for ways to tighten our belts, so to speak. We work on not wasting food, not buying things we don't need, but honestly it is getting tougher and tougher as prices continue to rise. We had to spend money on getting our sun room fixed because it was starting to leak. We were fortunate that the people working on it could find the materials and I figure it is a way to keep value of our investment of our house. 

However, I will admit, when I hear the market having another bad day, our investments losing money yet again, it scares me. I think, what else can we do to cut back without taking all the joy out of our lives? We eat less meat than we did 3 years ago. I can and preserve as much as I can. I look for sales and use coupons and continue to put money into savings that doesn't pay squat. We don't eat out as much and if we do, we go to lunch or breakfast which is cheaper. We don't go and party or go to movies. The bulk of my wardrobe comes from a thrift store. I maintain what I have. I cook from scratch. And honestly, I'm just getting weary worrying. 

Goodbye, Garden!

October 9th, 2022 at 09:57 pm

T'was a sad sight this week; we pulled up the garden. I can't truly express how much we gained from our little plot. 

A person I knew one time informed me that those tomatoes I had canned were free -- we got them from our garden. I pointed out that we purchased the tomato plants, bought some top soil to enrich the soil, fertilized them, kept them watered and weeded, and then there was the work of canning them, not to mention the jars, lids, and equipment. Free? I don't think so? But I truly believe in my mind a superior product to what I can purchase off the grocery shelf. 

I know we realized a lot of good things from the garden this year -- tomatoes, bell peppers, radishes, onions, and herbs. Some did better than others, but overall, we were blessed to have a good year. I canned tomatoes and made spaghetti sauce, froze the chopped bell peppers, and have been using the onions. I have the herbs drying. We had so much Basil that I decided to make Basil salt as a finishing salt and will package it up and give it as part of Christmas gifts this year. I gave some to a friend to try who likes to grill and he liked it so I figured it was a success. I know we've enjoyed using it. 

My failure was lettuce. I planted it three times and it didn't come up any of those times. I even bought a different packet of seeds for the third planting. Oh, well. Maybe next year!

It's interesting that almost every site that talks about being frugal, it says grow a garden if you can. I wonder as food prices may continue to climb if the past few months are any indication, will we see more gardens?

Fall

October 2nd, 2022 at 07:36 pm

Fall is here and this past week has been nothing but glorious as far as weather. I doubt if I will be saying that when winter comes, but right now, it has been so nice seeing the lovely skies and the mild weather. So often we don't truly have a fall season...it's blazing hot, we have a couple of cooler days, and then bam! It's winter. So, I'm appreciating the sunny, lovely days.

The end of the week may result in a frost so DH and I are working on getting the garden taken care of. I have been cutting and drying herbs. It's nice to have them through the winter and spring. We pulled up a few plants yesterday after taking off the bell peppers and tomatoes off of them. We still have a few to go. I have chopped and frozen some peppers, but need to do more as I get a chance. I don't think I will be canning any more tomatoes which is sad, but we sure have enjoyed the fresh ones and I did can some earlier. I know my pantry is looking pretty good with them. A young lady I know was telling me her husband decided to plant 28 tomato plants this summer and they have a lot of tomatoes. A friend had given me a juicer that makes fast work of juicing tomatoes if you have a lot. It's a crank type. I dropped it off for them to use. They did their first attempt at canning tomatoes too, so we talked about that and also preparing the soil for next year. I'm delighted to see another young family growing a garden and taking up preserving. 

I'm already dreading our monthly statement on our investments; I don't think it will be good news. 

Some of the news stories keep saying prices are going down, but I'd like to know where. I keep trying to cut back on stuff, but it seems like our grocery bills remain about the same, much higher than a year ago. Sadly, most of the companies that offer coupons are for things we don't buy. Same with Ibotta -- so many of the things they offer cash for, we don't buy. I'm not going to buy anything just to "save" money. Seems a bit ridiculous to me.

We did take some things to the thrift store to donate. I need to go through more stuff, but sometimes getting DH to agree to giving up things is a challenge. 

Watching the news reports on the hurricane, it breaks ones heart to see the devastation and the loss of life. Life can change in just an instant. Prayers for all involved.

For now, I will enjoy what we have and enjoy this fall weather. 

The Thrill of Thrift

September 18th, 2022 at 10:01 pm

There's just something immensely gratifying about saving money and having some cash in reserve. I can't imagine anyone on this site disagreeing with that!

Overall, our life is pretty darn good considering we both worked in the public sector and didn't make the salaries a lot of folks made working elsewhere. We have decent pensions. We have some investments (we won't talk about the Dow lately), and our house is paid for. There isn't a whole lot that we need that we don't already have. So, shopping isn't a recreational sport for me. 

Growing up poor I think made me consider ways to squeeze a nickel or dime or quarter as much as I could. And I still do. I don't have to look for stuff on sale, but why would I want to buy something for full price?

We watched some series on Netflix that was called "Dirty Money" and it had an episode on plastics and how the Zero Waste Movement is trying to get away from using them. So, I did some reading on this movement because I wondered about it since I had heard mention of it before. I think many of us do some of the things already because we are frugal. We use stuff. We recycle. We buy used. We do it to save money and in the long run it also helps the environment because we aren't buying a lot of new stuff and throwing away the old. 

I look at my jars of stuff I've canned. It gives me incredible pleasure. It means we'll eat well this winter as I use it. It also means I have some Christmas gifts for people since I made some different jellies. My pantry is stocked and I have put most of my grains and pastas into glass jars and recycled the boxes and paper bags. We don't have a bulk food store where you can take your own bags and jars sad to say. 

I did have to break down and buy a new Crockpot. One of mine that I used a lot died a few months ago. But I wasn't going to pay full price. I knew as soon as the holidays approach, many stores start putting them on sale. So, I scored a 6 quart Crockpot for $39.99 and tax...$20 off that store's retail price and more at another store. But, I put that new baby to work. I cook a chicken in it yesterday and used the broth to cook some noodles to go with it. Then, I put the carcass back in with some vegetables and herbs and water and let it cook down over night to make more broth which I will can and have for soups and flavorings for rice and noodles. Could I buy a box or can of broth at the grocery? Yes, but at least I know what's in my broth and I'm using what I already had. Cooking the whole chicken means at least 3 meals for us plus the benefit of the broth. So, dividing the price of the chicken by 3, then adding what it cost me buying noodles in bulk, and what it cost for the carrot seeds, and then a little bit of spices and add ons, I think our meal last night cost around $8 for the two of us. To me, that is thrilling! That wasn't adding the cost of the Crockpot in of course, but I'm glad it worked and I look for it to get quite the work out!

Our grocery had apples on sale. I took my own cloth bag for them (we use them at the grocery stores) and bought some and made more apple juice and applesauce. Fortunately I have a lot of jars and lids and rings. I also made tomato juice and canned that and diced tomatoes for the pantry. I also have been picking, washing, and drying herbs. Why buy the stuff in the store when we have it here and I can dry it? I don't put in the oven or a dehydrator; I wash and towel dry them and then set them in our sun room and let them dry naturally. I then run them through a food processor and crunch them up and put them in jars. It sure is nice seeing those knowing they are relatively fresh. 

We go once a week to the local thrift shops. That's our activity. I normally have a small list of things I'm looking for. I scored some beautiful Hallmark and Day Spring birthday cards, sympathy,  and thank you cards last week. I bought around 36 cards for a little over $8 and that included tax. As expensive as postage is and cards themselves have gone up, I was pleased with my good deal. I have scored some name brand clothing a few times and why pay full price when I can get an item for less than a third? I'm not buying junk or worn out stuff. Plus, I guess I'm helping by buying used according to the Zero Waste folks.

The hubster still pays with cash and over the past couple of years has amassed quite a few coins. I talked him into letting me have all the pennies and he said he'd give up some of the "silver" coins as well. We have about $73 to put in a savings account. It's not a lot of money, but it is far easier than trying to save big bunches at once. We have a Christmas Club account I want to put it into. We use that to buy Christmas presents as well as for Christmas tips and all that so come January, we owe nothing as far as Christmas. And the credit card company doesn't get any interest from us as well. 

I won't say I don't buy new things because I do. The Crockpot is a prime example. But honestly, if the economy depended on my shopping, it would be in worse shape than it already is. 

Do you find being thrifty thrilling? What are some of your best examples?

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

September 12th, 2022 at 12:45 am

The garden is starting to slow down, but we are fortunately still getting a few items. DH picked a bunch of peppers and no, I didn't pickle them! I couldn't resist...I made bell pepper soup with them. We ate some and I froze the rest. 

We had a bunch of tomatoes so I juiced them and canned the juice and realized 4 quarts and 4 pints. Hopefully I will have more to can this week.

My plans are to start picking herbs and drying them. I know some people freeze them in olive oil and honestly, I wish I had the freezer space to do that, but I don't. I just know I'm happy to have them once the weather turns and we can't have them fresh anymore. 

I know I've blogged about making jelly...I have used every jelly jar I owned I think, except for the one I just cleaned out. That's a nice feeling to have so much ready. I use a lot of the jelly as Christmas gifts. 

I did get ambitious and make some cloth Christmas bags to use instead of paper bags or wrapping paper. I've done that in the past, but sadly no one ever gives me a gift back using them. That's fine, I figure it is part of the gift. I wonder if they are using them as gift bags or what.

We received out investment statement...we lost $13K last month. It is getting depressing seeing this month after month. I get that the market is up and down, but I'd like to see a few months where it is up to offset the loss. 

News and Real Life

August 28th, 2022 at 07:00 pm

On an evening news program, there was a report about grocery prices and inflation. The reporter claimed that the department of agriculture claimed that grocery prices are coming down and that the cost of eggs has dropped 60%. Also mentioned was chicken wings had dropped down to prices of over a year and a half ago. Yes, you read that correctly, that's what they reported. I was aghast. That was broadcast Tuesday night and I planned on grocery shopping the next day.

The week before I had noticed eggs had risen 50 cents a dozen at Aldi which is usually cheaper than the other name brand store I pick up things I can't get at Aldi. I did notice a few cents drop when I went to shop in Wednesday, but it wasn't anywhere near 60%. However, I happened to pop in to Aldi yesterday because I had forgotten to buy something and noticed that eggs had increased a few cents from Wednesday. I looked at chicken wings and I didn't see any drop reduction on them either. 

I am concerned with the rising cost of food. The saltines we like has risen 14 cents. That's not huge, but when you see everything going up, or then the worst is the empty shelves, you know it could be a grim fall and winter. I was watching a Clark Howard video and he said that grocery prices were actually showing a 13% inflation rate; far higher than the overall inflation rate. 

I continue to look for sales, but honestly, the grocery stores aren't running a lot of sales, at least not on some of the things we buy. We don't buy a ton of processed foods. I can and freeze what I can. I have written companies for coupons and some are far more willing to mail coupons than others. Some flat out informed me their prices were low enough and that they don't send out coupons anymore. 

So far, we are fortunate that we can afford our groceries. But I wonder how many who are already livng paycheck to paycheck are doing it. They may be going to the food pantries, but even the food pantries are being stung by the higher costs and can get less for their money. 

So, I'm not sure where the reporter was giving his facts other than quoting the department of ag's stuff, but maybe it is better other places than here in the Midwest. Are you seeing grocery prices going down? 

Spendy Couple of Weeks

August 7th, 2022 at 08:26 pm

It's been an expensive couple of weeks and I hope this is it for a bit!

After a dental visit for xrays and check up and cleaning, the dentist nicely told me that I needed a little repair and crown. I could wait, but the tooth was probably going to crack. I scheduled the appointment and I now am the (proud?) owner of a temporary crown. He didn't see any major issues under the filling and I figured that was good and cheaper than a root canal and crown.

A few months ago we had helped a friend by driving and picking him up when he took a car to his daughter. He said he would wash and wax our car this summer. He called and said he would do it Friday. Yesterday when he called to say it was finished, he said he needed to talk to me. We go to pick it up. Seems my car battery died. He and his father charged it, but said it probably needed to be replaced. So, that will be on the docket tomorrow. 

Yesterday when I finished emailing some friends, my laptop reported I was no longer online. Seems my modem/router decided to give up the ghost. So, that was another expense. A dear friend came over today and hooked it up and talked on the phone to get it connected to the cable/internet company. What a blessing that was! 

DH's lawnmower needed replaced; it was quite old so we replaced it. We gave the old one to a neighbor who will recycle the parts.

Hopefully that is it as far as big expenses for some time. Fortunately we had the money in savings, but, it seems to hit all at once! 

We had been given a gift card for a chain restaurant and since we were going to be on that side of town yesterday, we used it for breakfast. Even so, a simple breakfast with coffee for me and lemonade for DH was $28 before a tip. The gift card covered it so that was good. Honestly, I don't know how some of our friends can afford to eat out 5-6 times a week. If we eat out for lunch or supper I always get water, but it was breakfast, so I wanted coffee. Guess I could have saved some money getting water then too, but then we tend not to use the rest of the dab left on the gift card. It isn't a place we normally frequent. 

I have been doing some canning. I canned some tomatoes and spaghetti sauce and then some apple juice. I hated paying full price for the apples, but DH likes apple juice and I refuse to buy the commercially made stuff since you never know where the apples are grown. I also made Basil jelly and corn cob jelly, both are sweet. DH picked way too much Basil when I was making spaghetti sauce and I wanted to use it. I could have dried it, I guess, but we would have had to pick even more to get enough to make drying it worthwhile. That will come soon. We also picked and processed our garlic and I have it in the fridge in olive oil. So, my pantry is starting to fill up. There is something very gratifying to having a full pantry and freezer. Hopefully some of the canned goods will help us save money this fall and winter!

Use it up...

July 24th, 2022 at 07:13 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grape Jelly

June 27th, 2022 at 04:24 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sometimes Pinterest is my Arch Enemy

June 19th, 2022 at 07:42 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

A few wins

June 12th, 2022 at 08:09 pm

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

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

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

 

Extreme Couponing on the News

May 15th, 2022 at 07:22 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Creative Gardening and frugal cooking

May 8th, 2022 at 10:46 pm

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

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

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

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

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

Home Fix Ups

March 27th, 2022 at 07:44 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 07:13 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 08:06 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 09:17 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


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