Saturday, February 6, 2016

Frugal, er, Saturday - Two weeks worth of "frugal"

Another beautiful sunrise!  We've been getting spoiled with these the last few weeks.  Sunsets too!  They've been such an encouragement to me!

The last two weeks have been busy and difficult here.  John ended up in the ER twice and my shingles are back in full force. I discovered that driving is a major stressor for the muscle knots that I develop (compounded by the shingles) and my right leg has been basically numb for the last week.  Since I have an 18-mile one-way by the shortest way commute to work, that's definitely not a good thing.  Stress levels go up, shingles come back. Anyone, want to invent a way to teleport?  I'd be all over that!

After more than a month of feeling back to normal this is really discouraging for me.  I'm trying to stay optimistic, but in the middle of terrible pain and the inability to do simple things like walk across the room without holding onto things, it's really difficult sometimes. 
I feel like we haven't been terribly frugal the last two weeks.  We spent the entire amount of "extra" money we had the last month on Power Ade -type drinks, medications, and the like.  I had planned on buying Buddy new school pants, since he's grown quite a bit, but that has to wait now.  Uff da.  We did do a few things.  Here's what we did:

* Ate almost all meals at home or took meals with us.  I ate one meal out with friends that I hadn't seen in almost 2 years and John ate one free meal at work.

* Cooked a turkey in the crockpot (it turned out delicious!) and froze the leftovers.

* Continued to eat down the freezers in anticipation of a big meat purchase later this spring.

* Made and froze waffles and scones for breakfasts later.

* Downloaded several free coloring pages from the internet.

* Checked out several books and audiobooks and a couple of movies from the library.

* Watched a few free shows on and YouTube.

* Caught up the ironing.  YAY!

* Started making homemade Valentine's for the children to take to school for Valentine's Day.  We're making rock candy for my son to take and my daughter is making decorated sugar cookies.  No child in their class has allergies so we can make and bring our own candy/goodies.

* Mended two pairs of pants for my husband and shortened my daughter's dance costume.  The legs were way too long - something that's never happened for her before!

* We earned a collective $165 to pay toward our debt repayment these last two weeks.

I think that's it for us.  What did you do these last two weeks?

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Work, Home and Family - Homemade Gifts Part 5: A Playing Card Scrapbook

So that's not the best photo ever, but I think it's enough to get the idea across.   And, yes, I totally stole this idea from somewhere on the internet and I don't have a clue where anymore.  If you know, please email me so I can give proper credit.

I'm a bit behind on posts this week - it's been quite the week and a half here - two ER trips, lots of medication, 12 inches of snow, and a variety of little things have left me with little time and feeling a bit like I'm getting pecked to death by hens!  A quiet evening yesterday made up for it so I'm hoping that for the rest of the week the "pecking" quiets down!  Lent starts next week and I'm hoping for a quiet and contemplative Lent rather than a rushed, hectic one.

This was one of John's Birthday gifts.  And I had the children make this with me.

I bought the deck of cards at the Dollar Store and used scrapbook paper we already had, ribbon we already had and three ball point pens to make this gift.

I cut the scrapbook paper to the size of the middle decoration on the cards using my paper cutter and then used scrapbook adhesive to adhere them to the cards.  Before I adhered them, I divided them between the children and myself and we each wrote down the things that we love and admire my husband.  We titled it "52 Things We Love About You" but you could change the title to fit your scrapbook.

It was great fun to see what the children had to say (so many things that I wouldn't think of!) and they had a blast making this!   After everything was adhered, I used a hand held paper punch to punch holes in the cards and then used the ribbon to tie them together in a "book".

Additional ideas for this book:  photos instead of sayings, write through the alphabet twice with a single word for each letter, thumb-print pictures (I need to try that one!), and favorite memories or events. 

Our children loved this so much, they each asked if we could make them one for their birthday! I think we'll do that - its was fun and easy and my husband loves reading it occasionally to remind him that we love him even on the tough days.

I'm thinking of having the children make these for their teachers this year at the end of the year with favorite memories and a couple of photos. 

Total Time: About forty-five minutes, including cutting the paper, writing the statements, and punching the holes.

 My Cost: $1.07 for the cards.  I had everything else on hand.

Your Cost: $1.00 plus tax (the $0.07 for us) and whatever the cost of other supplies are.  Plain typing or lined writing paper and cellophane or two-sided tape, a glue stick or craft glue would work just fine and you could use a piece of ribbon, a (clean) shoelace, a bit of rope for a more rustic look, etc. to tie this together. An awl or ice pick or craft punch would work for punching the holes too.  Wouldn't a heart shaped craft punch look great for Valentine's day?   A single hole in the corner rather than two across the top would work too.

What did you make this week?

Monday, February 1, 2016

Menu Plan Monday - Week of January 31, 2016

Scones - I made some this last week - cranberry and orange(what's in the above picture)- to put in the freezer for breakfasts.  I've been snitching - shhh! Don't tell!

We had a super busy week this last week and I'm really tired this week.  We're gearing up for a snowstorm this week and I'm hoping a few of our evening activities are canceled - we could all use the rest!

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, January 31, 2016
    Breakfast: Cold Cereal
    Lunch: Snack-y lunch (crackers and cheese, cut veggies, etc.)
    Snack: Popcorn
    Dinner: Soup from the Freezer, Cornbread, Sliced Apples

Monday, February 1, 2016:
    Breakfast; Waffles from the Freezer, Bananas
    Lunch: Crackers with Peanut Butter, Cut Veggies, Apples, Cookie
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Turkey (in the crockpot!), Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans

Tuesday, February 2, 2016:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal with Pecans and Craisins
    Lunch: Leftover Turkey and Potatoes
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Noodles with Tomato Sauce, Garlic Bread, Apple-Melon-Pear Salad

Wednesday, February 3, 2016:
    Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Toast
    Lunch: Leftover Noodles and Sauce
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Chicken Pot Pie, Sliced Melon

Thursday, February 4, 2016
    Breakfast: Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
    Lunch; Leftover Pot Pie
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Shrimp and Veggie Stir Fry, Rice, Sliced Melon and Pears

Friday, February 5, 2016
    Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Scrambled Eggs
    Lunch: Leftover Stir Fry
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

Saturday, February 6, 2016
   Breakfast: Cranberry Bread, Oranges
   Lunch: Soup from the Freezer, Biscuits
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner: Bacon and Potato Quiche, Apple-Pear-Banana Salad

What are you eating this week?

Sunday, January 31, 2016

These are a Few of My Favorite Things - January 2016 Blessings

The beautiful sunrise one morning this past week. I spent a bunch of time just looking at it. 
We've had a lot of blessings this month, the sunrise above is just the beginning:
Watching the Rose Parade on TV to ring in the New Year.
A retirement party for a beloved co-worker.
My husband's 42nd Birthday.
Two meals out - one with a gift card and one at a fundraiser.  Such a treat this month!
The ability to sleep in several days this month.
Catching up the ironing.  (Hurray!) 
Having plenty to eat on a tight budget.
5th Grade Boy's Basketball.
Board games to play as a family.
New insulation in the attic.
Sunshine after so many days of gray and snow.
Acupuncture.   This has been such a huge help with my PHN!
Advil. So grateful I live in a time when this is available and safe!
Ordering seedlings for my garden (they will ship in May).
Our children reading books that we like too.
Our daughter getting her beautiful jewelry displayed at a local venue for an entire month.
A new semester at school for me and the children.
The children being so excited about the things they are learning at school.
At home date nights with my husband and a renewed commitment to make our marriage the very best it can possibly be.
Hot Tea.
Hot Showers.
Quiet evenings at home.
Lots of books to read from our local library.
Free videos to watch online and from the library.
Revisiting books from my childhood just for fun.
My children singing at the top of their lungs!
What have been your blessings in January?

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Super Savings Saturday - $51/$100 for February Spent Today

And yes, I know it's still January, but today's shopping starts our February budget since I do my shopping for the coming week on Saturday.  We're still keeping our $100/month for everything we need grocery, toiletry, and paper product wise this month.

We spent $51.94 on the above groceries at one store. 

Everything in the first picture was an even $20 - that came to right about $1/lb for everything in the picture.  We have about 16-17 pounds of apples and pears, 2 lbs of onions and the two limes.  The store was running a $20 promo - fill a bag with a variety of things from a particular bin for $20.  Other options, aside from what we purchased, were potatoes (which we bought separately for $0.33/lb), winter squash (which we still have in our pantry), red bell peppers (which didn't look good), oranges, and grapefruit (both of which we already have in the fridge).

In the bottom picture (plus a gallon of milk) the pricing broke down like this:

10lbs of potatoes $3 (coupon)
Life Cereal $1.99 (coupon)
15oz tomato sauce 2 @ $0.79 = $1.58 (coupon)
8oz tomato sauce 4 @ $0.39 = $1.56
Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup 3 @ $0.79 = $2.37 (coupon)
Farmland Bacon 1lb $3.99 (coupon)
2lb Baby Carrots $1.99
Yellow Bananas 2.23lb @ $0.59 = $1.32
Cantaloupe $1.50
Greek Gods Yogurt oz $3.79
Kemps Skim Milk 1 Gallon (Not Pictured) $3.79
1 dozen Large Eggs $2.49
Crest Toothpaste $1 + $0.07 tax

Total Spent Today $51.94
Total Saved (According to the store receipt) $25.27 (33%)

We also received a $1 coupon for use on our next shopping trip.

The apples and pears should keep for the next couple weeks - we eat about 6-10lbs of fresh fruit per week so I'm not entirely sure exactly how long this will last but I'm anticipating at least two weeks.  It depends on how we eat the fruit and what other fruit we bought (this week bananas and cantaloupe) and have in our pantry/fridge already (oranges, grapefruit, canned mandarin oranges, canned pears).

We had hoped to get ground chicken but they were out and weren't giving rain checks since the coupon is still good for a couple of weeks so we bought the bacon instead even if it was a bit more expensive.  We'll try to get some ground chicken next week.

The potatoes, tomato sauce, cereal, soup and toothpaste are to either flesh out or fill up holes in our pantry.  I still need to buy some more flour and a couple of other things this month.

We have had two very busy weeks with this week being particularly busy and complicated by medical issues. I'm really ready for a quiet week or two.  So, come back Monday to see what we're eating!

What did you purchase this week?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Work, Home and Family: Homemade Gifts Part 4: Name badge or Key Lanyards

Lanyard on Left: The original.  All the rest: What we ended up with!

So, I've been trying to come up with homemade gifts for our children's myriad of teachers that don't involve food.  Since I don't know what teachers have allergies or likes/dislikes food-wise, I need to come up with something else.

A vendor came in to my workplace a few months before Christmas and left a re-useable tote bag with about 40 of these blue lanyards (in the picture on the left) for us to hand out as propaganda to whoever.  They were nice and sturdy and the key clip was nice.  The key clips can separate from the rest of the lanyard fairly simply so they are easy to use.  The problem?  The company logo was in BOLD letters on the other side of the lanyard (ideally, the front side of the lanyard so everyone knows what company they are from).  

My co-workers were just going to throw them away so I brought several home, sure I could do something with them.  I have a whole collection of ribbon bought on sales many years ago, so I dug out the ribbons and proceeded to take apart one of the lanyards so I could see how it worked.

I then cut the ribbon to the appropriate lengths and sewed them back together using a whole lanyard as a model.

Ta da!  Lanyards for the children's myriad of teachers! 

My Cost: $0 since the lanyards were free and I already had the ribbon.

Your Cost:  Ribbon can be found for as little as 50-cents a spool depending on sales, which ribbon you're buying and where you buy it (check out thrift stores many have craft supply sections and great deals on things like ribbons and fabric).   The clips and ring for making lanyards can be found at many craft stores and online (Etsy particularly) for around $6 and up.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Menu Plan Monday - Moving the Target and This Week's Menu

So after a long discussion, John and I decided to move the grocery budget from $80 to $100 and to continue at that rate for the foreseeable future.  I've been feeling quite like a failure in that I missed my $80 mark this month.  I do understand that food prices have gone way up and we were not starting with a fully-stocked pantry, etc. like we have for our other challenges we've had in the past. 

Going forward for the next few months, we're going to be spending $100/month on groceries, toiletries and paper products.  That leaves us with an extra $60/month to put toward our medical debt.  YAY!

Given that, I stopped at my least favorite place to shop and purchased the above for $15 and change.  That brings us in right under $100 for the month of January.

I bought:
* 3lbs apples
* 3lbs pears
* 18 ct flour tortillas
* 2lbs white onions
* 2lbs carrots
*2.something lbs bananas
* 5lb flour
* diced olives
* evaporated milk
* 2 boxes of crackers

That should hold us for at least a week!   *Evil Grin*

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, January 24:
    Breakfast: Smoothies
    Lunch: Leftovers, Crackers with Cheese, Apples and Pears
    Snack: Popcorn
    Dinner: Waffles with Applesauce, Sliced Apples and Pecans

Monday, January 25:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal with Pecans and Cinnamon
    Lunch: Leftovers from Saturday night for adults, PB&J, an apple, yogurt for the children
    Snack: Crackers and Cheese
    Dinner: Perfect Potato Soup, Cornbread, Sliced Apples and Pears

Tuesday, January 26:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Blueberries and Bananas
   Lunch; Leftover Soup
   Snack: Cut Veggies
   Dinner: At a School Fundraiser

Wednesday, January 27:
    Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Sliced Apples
    Lunch: Tossed Salad with Pecans, Mandarin Oranges, and Sliced Apples
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Fajita Omelets, Biscuits

Thursday, January 28:
    Breakfast: Yogurt Parfaits
    Lunch: Leftover Omelets
    Snack: Cut Veggies
    Dinner: Venison Stew in the crockpot, Homemade Bread, Sliced Apples

Friday, January 29:
    Breakfast: Waffles from the Freezer, Applesauce
    Lunch; Leftover Stew, Bread
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner:  Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

Saturday, January 30:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Scrambled Eggs
    Lunch: Sandwiches, Apples or Pears, Carrot Sticks, Cookies
    Snack: Popcorn
    Dinner: Bacon and Spinach Quiche, Bread

What are you eating this week?