Friday, November 20, 2015

Frugal Friday - Two weeks of frugal "stuff"!

These are from our Christmas Day Tea from last year.  Since Advent starts in just over a week, we're doing a little planning around here!

We've been pretty busy the last two weeks. I still feel that I haven't "caught up" yet and I probably won't until the semester is over.  I did put together a calendar with all the things that I want and need to do before Christmas Eve all planned out.  I'm not sure how it will work, but I'm giving it a try, anyway!
We redid our budget a couple weeks ago at the beginning of November and basically found out that things are far tighter than we had initially planned. Some expenses have been higher, some income has been lower, and there are some unanticipated expenses that have popped up. So I scrapped any plans to buy anything other than food and gasoline for the cars between now and at least January (probably longer) unless we have gift card.  I have plenty to keep myself busy so it should be perfectly do-able.

Anyway, on to the stuff that we did do these last two weeks:

Ate at home or brought meals from home.  Two exceptions: two free meals at work for me and two free breakfasts for John at work.  They were a nice break!

John brought home leftover bagels, yogurt and Clementine's from those breakfasts.  If he'd had a bag of some type he'd have brought home far more bagels, since they were just going to throw them away if no one took them.  Another person, who did have a bag, took the rest.

We brought home leftover cranberry bread and blueberry muffins after coffee hour at church on Sunday.  YUM!

I used items we already owned to make two Christmas gifts and half of a third.  Once the paint is dry on the third, I'll finish that one too.  I'm hoping to have three more gifts and a few more stocking stuffers made in time for Christmas.  I'm planning on posting photos on those in December.

My son had a friend sleep over last Friday evening.  We made homemade pizza, played board games we already owned and watched movies we already owned.  They had a blast and asked if they could do it again really soon!

Baked two loaves of homemade sandwich bread, oatmeal cookies, cornbread, pizza and breadsticks and two kinds of soup from scratch.

 Stopped at a new-to-us grocery store on the way home from work one day.  I bought four dozen eggs at $0.99/dozen, 2lbs of carrots for $0.99, and 10lbs of potatoes for $1.99.  I did a bunch of looking since I had not been in there before and ended up spending $28 on all of the above plus baking powder, corn starch, three boxes of tea bags (two are for birthday gifts) and 4lbs of apples at $0.99/lb. 

We spent the rest of our $100 for two weeks grocery budget on several stock up items including canned goods and meat.  I don't plan on buying groceries again until after Thanksgiving unless I can scrape together the money to buy a $0.99/lb turkey.  So far I haven't succeeded in finding that money, so we may have to wait for Christmas or not get one at all.

Wore first a blouse and then a dress that I hadn't worn in quite a while to work to see if I wanted to keep them or donate them.  The blouse will be donated and the elastic taken out of the sleeves on the dress so I can keep it and wear it.

Used the leaves from the trees in the yard to mulch the flower and vegetable beds this fall.  We do this every year, but this year we had fewer leaves since a neighbor took down a tree that really needed to go and so did we.  We had just enough.  Yay!

Saved seeds from my zinneas and my snapdragons for next year. 

Instead of buying new rose cones for our rose bushes, I upended the large foam pots that I fill with geraniums in the summer and place on either side of the garage door.  They have four large drainage holes that will work well for air holes and the foam insulates just like the rose cone would.  No cost for a new rose cone!  And my roses are safe for another winter.

My husband broke down and listed a few items on Craigslist and a specialty item on eBay.  He had sworn that he never would do this again (he used to sell on eBay years ago) but we decided that it would be worth it for a the extra cash to pay some medical bills from my shingles from the last few months. 

I polished four pairs of leather shoes and sprayed them with waterproofing spray to ready them for winter.  I also washed all the winter coats, hats, mittens and snow pants so they are ready before the snow flies.  I had washed them in the spring but another doesn't hurt!

We finally defrosted the deep freeze.  It wasn't hard, I just don't enjoy doing it.  So glad that's done!

I think that's it. What have you done in the last few weeks?

Monday, November 16, 2015

Menu Plan Monday - Week of November 15, 2015

Another week!   Here we go!

The last week has been crazy busy - I spent the entire weekend resting and trying to catch up.  I'm glad and feel blessed that I can do that occasionally without huge penalties in other areas of my life.

We have a quiet week and I'm grateful that this week is slow before the week of Thanksgiving, which is always so full. 

We spent our entire two-week grocery budget this week and stocked up on several things this week.  I'm hoping to find the money to purchase a turkey or two this week but I'm not planning on buying more groceries between now and Thanksgiving unless I can find that money.  We have plenty of everything so I'm hoping that's not a problem.  Some of the things we stocked up on: Potatoes, carrots, canned beans and fruit, ground beef, soda crackers, and baking supplies.  I also bought some tea and nuts, which I don't buy very often but are on great sale around here right now.

Here's what we're eating:

Sunday, Nov 15:
   Breakfast: Banana-Orange Smoothies
   Lunch: Bacon, Onion and Potato Frittata, Tossed Salad, and Sliced Apples
   Snack: Cranberry Bread (brought home from church)
   Dinner: Baked Potatoes with Chili and Cheddar Cheese

Monday, Nov. 16:
   Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Toast
   Lunch: Leftover Chili or Frittata
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Soup from the Freezer, Biscuits, Sliced Apples

Tuesday, Nov. 17:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Craisins and Almonds
   Lunch: Leftover Chili
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Pork and Mushrooms over Rice, Apple-Pear-Banana Salad

Wednesday, Nov. 18:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Bananas
   Lunch: Leftover Pork and Mushroom and Rice
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Pasta with Tomato Sauce, Tossed Salad, Sliced Apples or Pears

Thursday, Nov.19:
   Breakfast; Blueberry Oatmeal
   Lunch: Leftover Pasta and Sauce
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Taco Soup, Tortilla Chips, Tossed Salad

Friday, Nov. 20:
   Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Sliced Apples
   Lunch; Leftover Soup and Chips
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Fried Fish, Tossed Salad, Pear-Mandarin Orange-Bananas Salad

Saturday, Nov. 21:
   Breakfast: Blueberry Buckle
   Lunch: Salad with Tuna
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks
   Dessert: Apple Crisp

What are you eating this week?

Monday, November 9, 2015

Menu Plan Monday - Week of November 8, 2015

A full rainbow arc a few weeks ago - food for the soul!

We're supposed to have beautiful weather this week - I'm so excited!  I feel like we've had rain for the last month.  My head knows we haven't, though we have had quite a bit.  I'm hoping to get some more yard work done this week even though we have gotten enough done that we would be just fine if the rest didn't get done.  I'm amazed at how much quicker things go now that the children are old enough to be a real help.  Time to rake the giant amount of leaves we get in our front yard: 1 1/2 hours.  Unbelievable.  When they were toddlers, we had to take turns or "work together" while the children "helped" and it would take a day or two.  I think I'm going to be totally spoiled by their help in the next few years!
We have another quiet week this week.  My son is having a friend sleep over on Friday and John is on call on Friday also but that's it for "excitement" this week.  I may be meeting a friend for coffee on Saturday afternoon also (with one of my gift cards) but that really doesn't effect the meals. Here's what we're eating:

Sunday, November 8:
   Breakfast: Banana Bread and Banana-Peanut Butter Smoothies
   Lunch: Egg Casserole Bake, Apple-Grape-Pineapple Salad
   Snack: Banana Bread
   Dinner: Turkey Pot Pie, Spinach Salad, Apple-Pear-Pineapple Salad
   Dessert: Apple Crisp

Monday, November 9:
   Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs and Toast
   Lunch: Leftover Pot Pie
   Snack: Apple Crisp
   Dinner: Noodles with Vegetable Marinara Sauce, Garlic Bread, Sliced Apples

Tuesday, November 10:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal with Craisins and Almonds
   Lunch: Leftover Noodles and Sauce
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner: Soup from the Freezer, Homemade Bread, Sliced Apples and Pears

Wednesday, November 11:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Bananas
   Lunch: Leftover Soup
   Snack: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
   Dinner: Scalloped Potatoes with Ham, Spinach Salad, Pineapple-Mandarin Orange-Banana Salad

Thursday, November 12:
    Breakfast: Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
    Lunch: Leftover Scalloped Potatoes with Ham
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Pulled Pork on Homemade Rolls, Carrot and Celery Sticks, Sliced Apples and Pears

Friday, November 13:
    Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Toast and Applesauce
    Lunch: PB&J, Yogurt, Apple, Cookie
    Snack: Homemade Granola
     Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks
     Dessert: Cookies

Saturday, November 14:
    Breakfast: Waffles with Bacon and Applesauce
    Lunch: Spinach Salad with Chicken, Cranberries and Mandarin Oranges
    Snack: Popcorn
    Dinner: Crockpot Fried Rice, Spinach Salad, Oranges

What are you eating this week?

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Frugal Friday - the Sunday Edition!

My son took this photo of a lone little red tree a few weeks ago out of our rainy car window.  I'm already missing the fall colors - our weather is glorious and being outside is fun but I feel like I missed the "real" fall!

Friday was a bit of whirlwind and so was Saturday so this got written WAY too late on a Saturday evening.  We had a thankfully quiet week and I'm hoping for another quiet week before a couple of busy weekends and weeks ahead and the rush of the holidays.

Here's what we did this week in the frugal realm:

* Redid the budget for the next 10 months. Ouch.  We had some sort of misunderstanding or miscommunication about what John would be earning while in residency this year and needed to revamp everything.  It was really difficult and more than slightly disheartening to see those numbers in black and white. We have several costly things that we really need to complete this year and now we're not sure how we're going to be able to do them.  Time to get creative!

* Picked the last two winter squash from our garden - an acorn and a butternut.  I wasn't sure they survived the freeze we had a few weeks ago, but they did and they're now in the pantry for later use.

* Made ribbon headbands for my daughter's Christmas stocking (she asked for some to keep the hair out of her eyes in her dance class) and some decorated pony tail holders for our Operation Christmas Child boxes.

* Did a lot of cleaning up, tidying up and putting things away.  It's amazing how this just doesn't get done sometimes!

* Wore two skirts I wasn't sure I liked or if they fit anymore to work this week.  They both fit but I didn't like them, so they went in the donate basket.

* Made two meals in the crockpot this week so they would just be ready when we got home.  Love that!
* When we cleaned out the furnace room in August, we realized that we needed a second storage shelf in there.  We had hoped to save up for one but then we realized that if we rearranged some things in the garage, we could move the existing shelf out there and two of the shelves we have in the garage into the furnace room.  That works perfectly and no money spent!  Bonus: The shelves in the furnace room now match each other.  Storage that looks good counts for bonus points, doesn't it?

* Cleaned out the coupon file and reminded myself what gift cards we have that need to be used.  I looked up balances online and wrote them on the card with a permanent marker so we know what the balance is.

* We were gifted 3/4 of a tube pan of banana bread.  A friend baked it for a fundraiser and it didn't make it out of the pan in one piece.  She didn't want to sell it at the fundraiser, so she asked if we'd like it.  Yum!  It's made for a great breakfast the last couple of days.

* I ate one meal at a meeting at work this week.  I'm so glad that lunchtime meetings have a catered lunch so I don't have to figure out when to eat lunch on those days!

* With the focus on cleaning out the deep freeze in the basement, our upstairs freezer-over-the-refrigerator has become quite the mess.  We cleaned it out and were pleasantly surprised with what we found!  That included: frozen bananas and blueberries, a pork roast, lots of cooked turkey (we knew about that one but there was more than we thought), and a few other random things that we thought we had already eaten.  Now we can use those things!

*  Worked on two other Christmas gifts - one embroidered, one sewn.  Hope to complete those this week and move on to another gift or two this week.

* Returned a huge stack of library books.  The children have quite a bit of reading from school and I have several books at home already that I can read so we didn't check out any before coming home.

* We watched several online television shows and a movie on Netflix.  My husband and I watched a video we already owned and love for an at home date night this week.

What have you done this last week in the frugal things realm?

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Super Savings Saturday - November 7, 2015 - $60.81 Shop

Hello everyone!
I have no photo this week either - mostly because I'm feeling TERRIFIC after weeks, and weeks, and weeks (literally 6 months) of being in constant, awful pain.   I'm feeling great and have spent the last few days tackling project after project of things that I've been putting off because I just haven't been feeling well enough to do them. 

I'm so glad to be feeling like myself again!  I'm not sure if it will last but I'm hoping that if it doesn't, the downturns are short-lived and rare.  In the meantime, I am going to enjoy it as much as I can.

We redid our overall budget as of November 1, and we're budgeting $200/month for all groceries, toiletries and paper products that we need. What that means on a day-to-day (week to week?) basis is that we'll have $80 in hand every two weeks for shopping and the other $20 set aside for our CSA and any bulk purchases we decide to make.  So, having spent $60.81 this week, we have $19.19 to spend next week.  The first week in December we're hoping to hit Sam's Club for TP and some other things - we'll have about $60 to take with us for that. 

We hit one store with our $60.81 and here's what we came home with:

Tide Laundry Detergent $5.99 - $2 coupon = $3.99
Yopliat Yogurt 10/$5 - $1 coupon = $4
Crisco Shortening Sticks 3pk 2 @ $2.99 = $5.98
2 lb Ground Pork $5 (store coupon)
1.2lb Pork Fillet $5.99 (store sale)
10lb Russet Potatoes $2.99
4.9lbs Apples @ $0.99/lb = $4.85
2.79lbs Yellow Bananas @ $0.67/lb = $1.87
2.64lbs Bartlett Pears @ $0.99/lb = $2.61
1 Gallon Skim Milk $3.79
Smart Balance Spread $2.50 (store sale)
2 Dozen Large Eggs $5.98
Mixed Dried Fruit $11.83 (7 large packages on clearance)
Tax $0.43 (on the Tide)

Total Spent: $60.81
Total Saved (according to store receipt): $4.98 (8%)

What did you buy this week?

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Menu Plan Monday - Week of November 1, 2015

* Sooo, I totally wrote this post and saved it instead of publishing it!  It's only Tuesday but it's been that type of week around here already....   SIGH.

I was going through my photos and found this one of some of the last produce we picked from the garden - tomatoes and some very small peppers - I LOVE the colors!
We're into fall here - but we're supposed to have a warm week.  I'm hoping "they" are right and we can get some much needed yard work done.  It's always amazing to me how fast the yard fills up with leaves once the trees start to drop them.   I think lots of raking is on the agenda this week!
We don't have anything extra or special in our calendar this week - just our normal weekly activities - so we're pretty excited about having a more quiet week than the past few.  We tried three new recipes a little while ago for the crockpot and they were all delicious.  This week we're trying one more new one and resurrecting one we haven't used in quite a while.   I definitely am a HUGE fan of coming home to an already made or almost already made dinner! 

* Tuesday I came home, popped the cornbread in the oven, took a shower, set the table, pulled the cornbread out of the oven and we were ready to eat!  LOVE that! *

Sunday, November 1:
   Breakfast: Smoothies
   Lunch: Buttermilk Coffee Cake, Fruit Salad
   Snack: Popcorn and Halloween Candy
   Dinner: Ham Sandwiches, Chips and Sliced Apples

Monday, November 2:
    Breakfast: Fried Egg Sandwiches, Bananas
    Lunch: Apples with Peanut Butter, Yogurt, Carrots or Celery, Leftover Coffee Cake
    Snack: Popcorn
    Dinner: Chicken Stir Fry, Rice, Grape-Banana-Apple Salad

Tuesday, November 3:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal with Crasins and Almonds
    Lunch: Leftover Stir Fry
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Three Sisters Stew, Cornbread, Apple-Grape-Banana Salad

Wednesday, November 4:
   Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Bananas
   Lunch: Leftover Stew and Cornbread
   Snack: Carrot and Celery Sticks
   Dinner: Pork Loin, Mashed Potatoes, Spinach Salad, Pineapple-Grape-Mandarin Orange Salad

Thursday, November 5:
    Breakfast: Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
    Lunch: Leftover Pork Loin on Spinach Salad
    Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Crockpot Fried Rice with Turkey, Pineapple and Mandarin Oranges

Friday, November 6:
    Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Sliced Apples
    Lunch: Leftover Fried Rice
   Snack: Yogurt
    Dinner: Salmon Cakes, Spinach Salad, Apple-Pineapple-Grape Salad

Saturday, November 7:
   Breakfast: Cinnamon Crumble Muffins with Bacon
   Lunch: Soup from the Freezer, Homemade Bread, Spinach Salad
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks

What are you eating this week?