Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Frugal.... What day of the week is it?

More of my beautiful Valentine's tulips.  They lasted a whole two weeks!
These last few weeks I have felt that the days just run together - most of the time I have to double check what day of the week it is.  Oh, wait, it's still Tuesday?  Oh, yikes, it's already Friday?  That's pretty much how the year has gone.  I've been teaching a lot of Jazzercise classes and the semester is rolling along.  Buddy's basketball season is over but dance competitions are ramping up.  Then there is band and piano, confirmation and Lent.  It really never ends, doesn't it?

A couple of really non-frugal things that have happened lately (and I can't remember if I posted about them or not):

* More furnace repairs.  The repairman told us there wasn't anything else that could break at this point.  I'm hoping he's right!   Still cheaper than a new system!  We're still cold enough that a working furnace is a must so we can't wait on repairs until late summer. 

* Our van completely died.  After $5000 in repairs and then finding out it would need another $1600 at minimum to make it drivable, we decided to bite the bullet and buy a new to us van.  Our "old" van was a 2001 and had almost 300,000 miles on it.  We had planned on buying a new to us van sometime this year, just not this soon.  We're happy with our decision and hope to drive this van for at least the 11 years we drove the other one.  On the up side, they gave us $1500 in trade in value and didn't charge us for the repairs!  We had put the new car payment into the budget already, so we're good to go for now.

* We have had a mildew problem in one room of our house every time the temperature drops significantly below zero and discovered that the previous owners had just smashed spackle (yes, really) over the problem when they lived in the house.  So, now we have mold.  Mold that has had 16 years to grow, apparently.  Fortunately, it's not the dangerous kind.  We have had to replace all the drywall in two rooms of the house plus baseboards and trim.  Fortunately, I know how to do all that so we could do a lot of it ourselves.  Unfortunately, it's not covered by our homeowners insurance.  We added insulation (there was NO insulation behind the wall at all) so it shouldn't happen again.

Okay, now the frugal stuff:

* In the middle of all the things listed above, John's new cell phone completely died.  Fortunately, it was under warranty so they just sent us a new one for free! 

* We've made bread, biscuits, cornbread, tortillas, crackers, soup, chili, pizza, cookies, cinnamon rolls and probably other things I'm forgetting at home.

* I went through my sewing stash and sent my Mom material to make 3 dresses for our daughter, two skirts for me, and a pair of pajamas for my husband.  She had asked if I had any sewing projects she could work on for me, so I took advantage of it!   She has yarn to knit our son a sweater.  My Mom LOVES to sew - it's her main hobby - and she's very careful, so I always appreciate it when she can sew the more particular clothes patterns for me!

* I have used other material I already had to sew birthday gifts and a baby gift. 

* I taught extra Jazzercise classes, so I will be paid "extra" for those.

* We enjoyed several audio books from the library, as well as checking out regular books and a movie.  We also watched several shows on Netflix and YouTube.

* Our children have had two teacher in-service days in the last few weeks.  One day was my husband's day off and the other he worked from home so we did not have to pay for childcare.

* I went to a special class on how to do our daughter's hair and makeup for her dance competitions.  Now I don't have to pay the professional to do it!

* My husband brought home the following after meetings and meals at church the last few weeks: grapes, sandwich buns, lunch meat, a two-liter jug of root beer, popcorn, potato chips and tortilla chips.  All but the two-liter of root beer were partially eaten.  We didn't mind at all!
* I did buy girl scout cookies - in the budget and most were put in the freezer to enjoy later this year.

* Our daughter made decorations for a Confirmation event using art and craft supplies we already owned.

* My  husband gave our son two pair of shoes that he did not find comfortable.  Now our son has two "new" pairs of shoes and we don't have to order him shoes for a while. (Yes, they are currently the same shoe size, though I'm pretty sure our son will grow some more.)  Our son finds them very comfortable.

* I mended two nightgowns, two pairs of workout pants, two pillowcases, a pajama top and a tablecloth. 

That's all I can think of right now.  What have you done lately that's frugal?

Monday, February 27, 2017

Menu Plan Monday - Week of February 26, 2017

My Valentine's Day flowers from my dear husband.  There was enough for two vases!

Anyone else amazed that March is arriving this week?   I know I am.  So far 2017 has been a year of long, long days and super short weeks.  I'm hoping things slide into a rhythm soon and we can hop out of what feels very much like survival mode.  Not my favorite way to spend my days certainly, but I guess that happens sometimes.

We did a stock up on chicken this last week - our regular grocery store had whole chickens for 88-cents/pound.  We bought a few.  Roasted chicken is such an easy dinner and we always use the carcass and leftover meat so it's a great deal for us!  John also found ham on sale for $1.49/pound at the grocery store near his church so he bought one.  Over all, we spent $62 and change on groceries this last week but we had been a bit below our weekly budget for a couple of weeks and we're planning on doing a pantry challenge during Lent now so that should work out just fine. 

Speaking of Lent, we're Lutheran so we don't abstain from meat on Fridays but we do observe Lent and we decided a pantry challenge would be just the thing this year.  Not only is it a good idea to use up what we have, but we also have a parishioner who is spending this summer doing medical missionary work in Malawi.  We'd like to give generously to her mission, so that will be where the money we "save" will go.

We will also be eating more vegetarian meals this coming month.  We have a lot of veggies in our freezer to use up and several other things (barley, quinoa, etc.) that would be good to use.  I like to have the deep freezer basically empty when summer comes around.  That means we've eaten the vegetables from last year and we have room for the new harvest.  I know that many like to keep canned and frozen vegetables for a long time but I think the taste is better within that first year.  I also find that it means that overall we waste less food too.

This week we're eating a fairly large amount of eggs (we got a good deal on them this week), zucchini, tomato sauce, green beans, and potatoes.  The green beans, zucchini, and tomato sauce are in the freezer and the potatoes are in the pantry (another good deal from last week).

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday, February 26:
   Breakfast: Toast and Strawberry-Banana Smoothies
   Lunch: Leftovers
   Snack: Popcorn
   Dinner: Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, Breakfast Potatoes, Strawberries

Monday, February 27:
    Breakfast: Cold Cereal
    Lunch: Spinach Salad with Leftover Chicken, Walnuts and Strawberries
    Snack: String Cheese
    Dinner: Hamburger Gravy with onions and mushrooms, Rice, Apple-Strawberry-Cantaloupe Salad

Tuesday, February 28, Shrove Tuesday:
     Breakfast: King Cake
     Lunch: Leftover Hamburger Gravy
     Snack: No Bake Energy Bites
     Dinner: Zucchini-Potato Pancakes, Baked Eggs, Sliced Apples

Wednesday, March 1, Ash Wednesday:
    Breakfast: King Cake
    Lunch: Leftover Pancakes with Raspberry Jam
    Snack: String Cheese
    Dinner: At Church (Lent = Soup Suppers at Church on Wednesdays)

Thursday, March 2, My Dad's 85th Birthday!
    Breakfast: Oatmeal with Dates and Walnuts
    Lunch: Rice Bowl with Egg and Spinach
    Snack: No Bake Energy Bites
    Dinner: Vegetable Barley Soup, Biscuits, Sliced Apples

Friday, March 3:
    Breakfast: Eggs, Breakfast Potatoes
    Lunch: Leftover Vegetable Barley Soup
    Snack: String Cheese
    Dinner: Tomato Sauce with Veggies and Pasta, Garlic Bread, Spinach Salad

Saturday, March 4:
     Brunch: Baked Eggs with Potatoes and Spinach
     Snack: Homemade Pretzels
     Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks
     Dessert: Sugar Cookies

What are you eating this week? 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Playing Catch Up - Goals for the Last Full Week of February

Well,  right about now it feels like 2017 is kicking our backsides.

First, flu, head cold, head cold, more flu, more head colds. Then the furnace needed repairs.  The van died completely.  We discovered a problem in one of our bedrooms that requires removing three walls worth of drywall, baseboards, etc. in that bedroom and the adjoining room to fix.  And of course all those things need to be taken care of NOW, as in yesterday, no waiting.  SIGH. 

In any case, I feel like I've been playing catch up since the beginning of the year.  I'm ready to be caught up already!

With all of that, here's my goals for this week:

* Catch up schoolwork to current
* Learn 4 new routines for Jazzercise
* Teach 4 Jazzercise classes
* Register the children for church camp
* Sew one baby gift (good friends had a sweet baby girl the end of January)
* Sew spring placemats
* Mend 5 items
* Read 2 books for my research
* Schedule home repairs for next week

Upside for this week so far?  Warmer weather- it's been right around 50F for several days now.  And sunny.  Whoot!   Our new-to-us van is a dream compared to the one that died.  I *think* we're all on the mend from all the sickness. 

What are you up to this week?

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Super Savings Saturday - $30.11 Shop

Well, the food poisoning ended up blending with a stomach bug and a major head bug so between the three, all four of us were down and out.  I actually ended up staying home from work 3 days this week, which is unheard of for me because finding a sub for my classes is all but impossible and we can only cancel one session per semester without it being a huge pain in the neck.. 

Anyway, it meant that this last week was a wash in terms of anything that wasn't completely essential got dropped.  Menu plan was taken over by a lot of toast, crackers and chicken noodle soup.  So, basically I bumped everything from last week to this next week menu-wise.  John did a huge shop last week - spent right around $60 - which included an 11lb ham and lots of on-sale canned goods. Our pantry is full in many ways but I'm running low on flour, oatmeal and cornmeal.  We're going to a Super Bowl party and found out yesterday that we should bring cookies so I ended up buying a bag of flour just to make sure I don't run out between baking both bread for us for the week and cookies.  Hoping to have a bit leftover for some zucchini bread next week.

I also bought corn flour this week instead of cornmeal - our grocery store had no cornmeal in stock (no location allocated for it) and when we asked we were told that they have mixes for cornbread and the like.  So, I will be buying cornmeal next time we go to Sam's club instead.  I have been wanting to try making corn tortillas and have  friend who is willing to teach me so I bought the  corn flour.

John and I did a quick trip to the store Saturday morning and here's what we purchased:

Bread Flour 1lb $2.39
Corn Flour 1lb $2.99
Flour Tortillas 2 @ $1 = $2
Campbell's Tomato Soup 2 @ $0.75 ea = $1.50
1lb Bacon $3.99 (store coupon
3lb Pink Lady Apples $4.99
Salad Blend 2 @ $1 = $2
Cucumber $0.69
Green Bell Pepper $0.69
Avocado $0.67
2.61lb Bananas @ $0.59/lb =  $1.54
Greek God's Yogurt $3.79
1 dozen large Eggs $1.89

Total Spent $30.11
Total Saved (according to store receipt): $2.28 (6%)

I'm hoping with some of the stocking up we've done we can be light on the budget this next week.  I have about $20 in the envelope which should get us milk, eggs and some produce.  We'll hit Sam's Club sometime the beginning of next month. 

Come back Monday to see what we're eating!
What did you buy this week?  Any good deals?