Friday, March 27, 2015

G-pa's Gravel Pile and His Big Helpers Isaiah and Bradley

Isaiah and Bradley came to help G-pa with a big job this afternoon.

They got here right in time to see the big dump truck full of gravel pull up.

They watched as the gravel truck emptied it's load of gravel into Grammie and G-pa's driveway.
Then it was time to get to work and load up the wheelbarrow with gravel.

After G-pa dumped several wheelbarrows full of gravel at one end of the driveway, Isaiah got to work spreading it out.

Bradley decided to help spread some gravel out the other way also.

Those boys worked hard and sure helped G-pa out.

Good thing these guys work cheap!  Grammie "paid" them in banana bread and some new Alvin and the Chipmonks DVDs. :)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Some Frugal Doings March 2015

   This has been a busy month for us but I have tried to stay true to my frugal and money saving ways.  Last month we went a little crazy eating out and had to rein that in this month.  Even so, we still did manage to have a nice lunch at Olive Garden the other day thanks to a gift card our Chris and Heather gave us for our anniversary.  Thank you! :)  Here are a few more ways we have been trying to save some money this month.

 ~I wanted to spruce up my kitchen a bit and found some D and G initialed plates and a coffee mug at the thrift store.  The plates still had their original $9.99 price tags on but I got them for $1.99 each and the mug for .99.  I will hang the plates up on the wall.
~Other thrift store finds this month were new with tags sweaters and shirts, some great books, dvds for the grandkids and us, some smaller Tupperware containers (perfect size for individual servings for picnics or work lunches), a black onyx and silver ring and some other fun goodies.

~I used up some over-ripe bananas to make 3 loaves of banana bread.
~I've been playing with one of my older bread recipes and adapting it for the breadmaker.  I found it also makes incredible soft whole wheat rolls.
~My hubby cleaned out and organized our pantry and put all the items that need to be used up first front and center.

~A few days ago I blanched and froze 10 bundles of asparagus.
~Today I roasted some asparagus spears in the oven after I had pulled the banana bread out of there. 
~I needed comfort food the other day after a very stressful situation at work so I looked through my pantry and refrigerator and made a nice fruit salad with mini marshmallows.
~I saved all the thick rubber bands from the bundles of asparagus.  We will not have to buy any rubber bands for awhile. ;)

~Looking through my potatoes, I realized that we had some that were starting to sprout so I baked up a pan full of seasoned potato wedges.
~We do some monthly volunteer work and as part of that are given some free groceries.
~Laundry has been hung out to dry on the laundry line on sunny days.
~Continuing to do my points programs and cashing in for gift cards.

~I have been watching gardening videos on YouTube and came across this winter garden seedlings starter greenhouses made with recycled milk jugs.  I started some cantaloupe, sage and basil in mine.
~We were at Lowes the other day and found Asparagus plants, 6 for $2.98 and a self pollinating Kiwi plant that is hardy to -30 F.  I love Kiwi and so do my kids and grandkids so we are going to try to grow it here.  All but .59 was paid for via gift card.
~Bi-Mart had roses on sale so we bought 2.

~I made several trips out to our town's garden waste and composting site to bring home buckets of free compost to use.
~Our driveway is a muddy mess after having to dig it up this winter.  Jeff shopped around and found the best price to have a huge load of gravel delivered to our home tomorrow.  They even gave him a discount since he is such a good customer.  No more slipping in the mud!
~Our dog Caesar, along with us, has been benefiting from more frequent walks now that the weather is better.

~Our Spring flowers are blooming so I cut some happy daffodils to bring in and put on my side table in the living room.
~I have found even more volunteer onions coming up in the garden.
~We are using our pellet stove less now since it has been warmer.
~The library continues to be my "go to" place for books and movies.  I have learned a few new gardening tricks from the book pictured above and Jeff and I have been enjoying curling up and watching some great movies that have recently been released on dvd.

~My computer is also a time and money saver.  From looking up ads online and adding deals to my customer loyalty cards, comparing prices and watching shows that we do not get on our TV package (which I would love to drop but we are locked into a contract), it is great!
~SKYPE is a wonderful thing!  It allows us to visit with our Josh and we use it often.  This momma has got to be able to see her baby boy roll his eyes. ;)
~I do evaluations for different companies on products.  Sometimes they send me free products to try.  I have some facial masks that Influenster just sent me and will be doing a review on them soon.

Welcome to the Family Little Pepper!

   Rachel and Jaysn just added a new family member to our ever growing clan.  Meet Little Pepper, our new grand bird! :)  We have been told he is a cuddly little thing.  I grew up around parrots and am looking forward to meeting this cutie soon.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Freezing Asparagus

   Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables and it only makes an appearance in our grocery stores for a short period of time.  The prices here have been pretty high so when I found a great deal, like .98 a pound great, I stocked up!

   Since my hubby is not a fan of asparagus, and I do not want to eat this all at once, I blanch and freeze it.  My method is very simple.  I fill a big stock pot with boiling water, cut the tough ends off the asparagus and blanch it to stop those enzymes from making it go bad and then plunge them into an ice water bath to stop the cooking.  From there I lay them out on a heavy towel, pat them dry and leave them to sit for about half an hour or so to dry out a bit more.  I then divide up the goodness into bundles (this time I got 10 bundles) and wrap each bundle up in aluminum foil.  Those bundles then get put into heavy duty freezer ziplock bags and then stored in our big freezer for future use.  I was able to fit 5 bundles per gallon sized ziplock bag.

   By doing this, I am not only saving money, but also time.  I am able to pull out 1 bundle at a time for me to eat or several bundles if my kids are coming over.  I simply throw the frozen asparagus on a baking sheet and season it with olive oil, freshly cracked pepper and sea salt and bake until done.  It does not take long at all and is so good!  I love being able to have this when it is out of season either as is or adding it to fresh green salads or pasta salads in the Summer.  I'm thinking I may try pickling some asparagus soon too while the prices are still low.


Friday, March 20, 2015

Grammie's Little Superheros!

Grammie loves her little Superheros Bradley and Isaiah! Their superpowers include being able to melt hearts, turn a bad day into a good one with a hug and make you laugh until you have tears running down your face.  Another amazing superpower they possess is being able to make adults slow down and see the world with a new and fresh perspective.  But their best superpower of all is when they turned Jeff and I into grandparents!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

This is Real Life Folks

Dishes piled in the sink waiting to be washed.

Caesar who insists on being outside and getting as dirty as possible leading to...

muddy paw prints on the floor that needs to be vacuumed and then mopped.

More of Caesar's piles of stuff he has collected from around the yard and breezeway along with some weeds that need pulled.

Lasagna bubbling away in the small crockpot while I work my way down my large "to do" list.

Bread going in the bread maker (I love this appliance).

A few groceries waiting to be put away in the pantry.

One of the guest beds waiting to be made once...

all the laundry on the line is finished drying, being folded and put away.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Frugal Doings Lately 3/11/15

I just realized that I have not done a Frugal Doings post for quite awhile.  I guess that these things are just so normal for me that I forget that by sharing, it might inspire someone else to try their hand at some of the things we do to save. :)  So here it goes!

~My husband rented a walk behind Skid Steer thing to level out our driveway and fill in the trenches that we had after having to replace our water main line that comes up to our home.  He shopped around for the best deal and found that our local building supply company (that he also used to work for) would rent the machine by the hour and give you free rental of the trailer to haul it.  He ended up paying $86 for the rental, including the cost of the fuel he used in the machine instead of the $250 that other places wanted to charge without the free use of the trailer.

~With the unusually warm weather we have been having, I have found myself once again enjoying hanging out the laundry on the laundry line to dry.

~We have been searching for a laundry detergent that would get that awful sour sweat smell out of my hubby's work clothing and finally found that one of the Ajax products works wonders!  The only problem is that they do not sell it up near us.  However, Big Lots was carrying it so we made a trip down to the valley (an hour away) and stocked up at $5 a bottle.  We only use it for hubby's clothing and each bottle has 80 loads worth.  We bought 5 bottles so that should last us a good long time.

~While we were at Big Lots we also found an 8 pack of flashlights for $10.  My hubby uses flashlights at work since he is a delivery driver for a shipping company and works the graveyard shift.  I also like to have them on hand in my car and in my purse.  Our grandkids think they are wonderful toys and love to play with them so this was a great deal for us.

~We had bought a couch and loveseat awhile back at Salvation Army and they have customer loyalty cards where you get a punch for every $10 you spend.  Once you fill up the card, you get $20 off your purchase.  We had 7 of these cards after our big purchase and have been using them to buy things for us, our kids and our grandkids.  By combining this with sales at the Salvation Army we have been able to get dishes, movies, clothing, books, toys, and even a gorgeous real silver and onyx ring for free.

~I have been busy baking homemade bread and cooking mainly from scratch.  This helps keep our food costs way down.

~I love iced tea and have found that I can get the 100 bags of Green Tea packages at the Dollar Tree.  I use 4 tea bags per 2 quart pitcher.  They also carry the fruit flavored teas that I love.

~I buy many of my baking supplies, dried herbs and seasonings from the bulk bins at Winco.  I can then make custom blends at home reusing the containers that I already have on hand.

~Jeff and I love to watch movies at home and have been finding lots of fun DVDs at the thrift stores.  A typical "date night" for us is popping a big bowl of popcorn (also bought in bulk at Winco) and cuddling up on the couch or in bed to watch a movie.

~There are some shows on TV that I enjoy but we do not get those channels on our DISH plan so I watch them online.

~I am able to get free compost from our town's yard refuse and composting site.  This saves me a ton of money when having to fill my pots to grow things in.

~I started planting the bottoms of my green onions last year in my garden and was so pleased to see that some of them overwintered and are coming up in my garden.  I have a few more that I need to get planted out there now and can see that I will not have to buy green onions for the rest of the Spring and Summer if we do not get another big freeze.

~I've been saving my milk jugs, juice jugs and pop bottles to use as mini green houses and will try my hand at winter seeding.

~I stocked up on garden seeds at the Dollar Tree when they first appeared in the stores because they sell out so quickly!

~It is no secret that I have a serious book addiction. ;)  I love books and enjoy not only shopping for children's books for myself, but also for my grandkids and for my teacher friends.  I recently stumbled upon some of the HUGE classroom books like the one above for .69 and .79 each at the thrift store. Anyone who has ever priced these books know how expensive they are.  I picked up some fun ones for my DIL who is homeschooling our grandsons and for gifts for some of the teachers I work with.  I will frequently take books to school to read to the younger elementary kids and if the book proves to be a huge hit with them, I will try to find another copy to gift to the classroom.

~There have been some great clearance deals lately on gift items so I have been busy restocking my gift closet with things for family and friends.

~We take advantage of the military discount for shipping things overseas to our son Josh through the post office.  If you have a loved one in the military who has an APO address, ask your postmaster for this deal.  They now have special priority mailing boxes just for this.

~I have been cashing in on my points programs that I use, Swagbucks, Disney Movie Rewards, MyPoints, RecycleBank, etc. for free movies, gift cards, magazine subscriptions, etc.

~I just can't praise the library enough for the wonderful selection of free books and movies that you can borrow from them.  Our's also has an ongoing book sale with amazing prices so I can feed that book addiction of mine. ;)

~With the warmer weather, my husband and I have been trying to take our dog out for more walks.  Caesar, our huge and energetic dog, gets so excited when we put our tennis shoes on because he knows there is a walk in store for him and he starts "talking" and dancing up a storm!

~We needed some more railroad ties for a landscaping project and our son Chris has some that he is not using so he is giving them to us.

~Our son Jaysn and his wife Rachel are going to be doing some landscaping of their own at their new home and want to get rid of their roses.  They offered them to us knowing how much I love roses.  We are going to dig them up and replant them here since we had to rip out some of ours when the water main broke.

~I'm looking into other health insurance options for myself.  My husband has his covered through his work but we have to purchase private health insurance for me.  We went through the Washington Health Care Exchange and it has been nothing but a mess for us and so many others.  Our rates have tripled for less coverage and higher deductibles and there have been so many screw ups in our state with the Health Care Exchange sitting on payments and not getting the information to the insurance companies so even though you are paying, you are not officially enrolled and do not have the insurance you have paid for (we went through this during a cancer scare and then there was also a bait and switch scenario on what was covered and what was not that we had to deal with that took months to straighten out) or the latest scandal of them triple billing one month the unfortunate people who have the automatic payment plan set up.  Thank God we did not set that up for our payment plan.

Those are just a few of the things we have been doing lately.  Be blessed and save those pennies...they add up quickly! :D

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Some of our Meals Lately

Venison Roast, Mashed Potatoes, Beans (frozen from our garden) and Onion Gravy

Homemade Split Pea Soup with Homemade Croutons

Homemade Yaki Soba

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken, Green Bean and Stuffing Bake with Orange Wedges
Turkey Bacon and Tomato on Sourdough Bread, Zesty Dill Pickle