Sunday, March 26, 2017

Spokane Getaway Last Weekend

   I thought it would be fun to share some pictures of Jeff and my spur of the moment Getaway weekend last weekend in Spokane.  The river pictures are of the Spokane River and Falls.  It was running really high on Sunday when I took these pictures and by Monday morning it was another 3 feet higher and touching the bottoms of some of the bridges.  They ended up shutting down all the pedestrian bridges later that day across the river.  Sadly, someone jumped into the river, committing suicide Monday afternoon from one of the bridges also.  

      These next pictures are from the Red Lion Hotel that we stayed at.  They had just finished remodeling their hotel and I love the way the main lobby area turned out.  So much fun!  I did not take any pictures of our hotel room because frankly, it was just a standard room and we had multiple problems with it and the housekeeping service.  They did give us a voucher for a free deluxe room for our next trip up there.

      This is our breakfast on Monday morning.  Oh so good!  Our waiter, Daniel, was amazing and so kind, attentive and courteous.  When talking the to manager about our other issues with our hotel room and showing him in our room what those issues were,  I was sure to tell him about the great service we got from Daniel and that he really helped turn our morning around after the other issues.  I know that Daniel was a new hire but I sure hope they give him a raise.  He deserves one!

   I wish I had gotten pictures of the time we spent with our friends but we were all having such a good time and totally spaced off taking any.  It was great to get caught up with them and to play with the toddler and the baby.  My friend Robyn is totally in Grandma heaven with those two little cuties and my goodness they adore her. :)  All in all it was a good trip with lots of shopping, good food, time with friends and being able to just relax with my hubby.  Hopefully the next time we stay there our room will be clean and not missing things.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Frugal Friday Wrap Up 3/18-3/24 2017

Brand new Columbia brand fleece jacket for $3.97.  Yes, this is the second one I have bought within that last dew weeks.  I am definitely set on fleece jackets now.

   It's been a mixed bag for frugalness along with some splurging.  We did go away for the weekend and tried to keep it as frugal as possible, but we did spend money on eating out a few times.  The rest of the week, once we got home, we pretty frugal though in part because I was just too worn out to go anywhere or do anything for several days and my body was in crash mode.  Onto the savings...

I loved the pattern on this lightweight sheer top and it was only $1.50!

~Saturday we took a swim and used the hot tub at the hotel.  We also had some snacks in our room that I had brought along.
~We took a long walk and took pictures of the Spokane River and Falls.  It was roaring and so pretty!
~Our hotel provided a free latte each day and free coffee all the time to all the guests.

More thrift store finds.  I was tickled to find the matching baby shower themed napkins to the dessert plates I had bought last week at another thrift store.

~We did more thrift store shopping at several thrift stores. Many of the store had great deals and I found some clothing items for .25- .99 each.  I also found a new leather purse that is perfect for Spring at half price, a leather key case, napkins and cups for the baby shower that match the plates I had previously found at another thrift store last week, some jeans, a caftan, a dvd, another brand new Columbia fleece jacket, a few things that Jeff wanted (I can't remember what all he found), some books, a small leather wristlet purse and some prepared microscope slides for the little boys to use with their microscope.  At the Union Gospel Mission they had done away with their rewards cards but honored mine so I was able to get $10 off my purchase there. 
~Sunday we spent the afternoon with one of my closest friends from college and her beautiful family.  I got to meet her newest grandbaby, Evie and get caught up with her oldest daughter who I used to babysit when she was Evie's age, played with her almost 2 year old grandson Blake who I had not seen since he was an infant and get caught up with her middle daughter, the husbands of the girls, her son, who stopped by and her hubby.  We made plans to go camping over Memorial Day and to go to a few college football games in the Fall.

The purse  and the key case were both half off and the little wristlet was only .99 since all yellow tags were .99 at the store where I found it.

~Jeff and I stopped by the Grocery Outlet on our way back to our hotel and grabbed some things for dinner there and had that back in our hotel room.  We hit another Grocery Outlet the next day to pick up a few things there also and ran across some great deals including big cans of coffee for 2.99 each.  Jeff grabbed 4 of them.
~We enjoyed watching HGTV at the hotel since we do not have it here at home anymore.
~Trader Joe's had some good deals on produce so we grabbed a few things there.

Coffee for $2.99 a can from the Grocery Outlet store.

~Due to some problems at our hotel with our room and poor service from some of the staff, I talked to the Front Desk Manager and we were given a voucher for a free night at the hotel in a deluxe room at a future date.  The manager told us he would even try to upgrade us further and to contact him directly so he could make it happen.  Yes, the problems were that bad!
~Tuesday I stayed home from work because I was having trouble with my stomach and was just worn out.  The upside to that was that I did not spend money on gas or in another thrift store.
~Tuesday's dinner was something that I threw together trying to use up the kale I bought last week.  I sauteed up some thinly sliced chicken pieces with the kale in some butter, added some lemon juice, salt, pepper and a bit of water.  When that was all cooked, I added some diced frozen red peppers, turned the heat off and let that sit covered for a few minutes.  I also made some Cheesy Broccoli Rice and served it with some cherry tomatoes.
~The leftover coffee was put in the thermal container to keep it warm throughout the day.

Dinner on Tuesday night.

~I renewed a dvd that I borrowed from the library since we did not get a chance to watch it over the weekend.
~We got a coupon for a free protein bar in the mail.
~Wednesday I was still out of it and had done something to my neck so it was really stiff and sore.  I decided to go easy on myself and not worry about making bread.  There was still enough for sandwiches for Jeff for work.  I remembered that I had some homemade par baked pizza crusts in the freezer so I pulled them out, defrosted one and put a thin layer of mozzarella cheese on it and stuck it in the microwave to melt the cheese.  It was quick, easy and satisfied my carb cravings.
~I worked on my points programs.
~Jeff drained and cleaned the hot tub and then refilled it so we have fresh water in it again.
~Thursday I cooked up some pasta and added the leftovers from Tuesday to that along with some cherry tomatoes, garlic and some more kale to it all.  It was really good!

Leftovers from Tuesday's dinner were turned into a pasta dish with a few additions for dinner on Thursday night.

~A dear friend called me Thursday to check on me and see how I was doing.  It was just what I needed and so sweet of her.  It sure lifted my mood since I have been struggling this week.
~I made 2 more loaves of bread, much to my hubby's delight.
~I scored 2 more free magazine subscriptions for magazines that my son Chris and my grandsons love.
~Insomnia hit again several nights this week so I spent my time rehabbing handbags, looking up cruise information and putting all the things away in the early morning hours that Doofy cat was knocking off  things and then batting around.
~Friday night's dinner was another comfort food meal using items that needed to be used ASAP.  I threw some elk steaks in the crockpot along with a can of mushrooms, some Cream of Mushroom Soup, onion soup mix (I buy that in bulk), some dehydrated onions, and some leftover red wine.  I served this with brown rice.  I then cut up the leftover steaks, threw that back in with the leftover gravy and will serve this over baked potatoes sometime this weekend.
~There was an email from Petco for free cat treats.  I will be printing this off and picking some more up.  Doofy will be a happy camper.

   This next week looks to be a busy one for me with work Tuesday, helping to homeschool my grandboys on Wednesday and they volunteer work on Thursday.  Depending on how I am doing Thursday, I may or may not spend the full 6 hours doing volunteer work.  Be blessed!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Dansko Shoes Rehab


    I bought the above shoes at the thrift store for $4.97.  They are Dansko brand and super comfortable.  They showed very little wear on the soles of the shoes.   Dansko is a pretty expensive brand that retails for $100 or more per pair.  Looking at the shoes, I thought I could rehab them and make them look pretty good with just a little effort.  I started by using leather conditioner on them and let that sink in and dry.  I then used brown shoe polish on the non suede leather parts.  I finished it off by using a brush for cleaning suede on the suede parts of the shoes.  I spent about 10 minute of actual hands on time on these.  I think they turned out really well and I will be using them for years to come in the Fall and Winter months.  I love being able to make something that is a bit beat up look great again!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Frugal Friday Wrap Up 3/11-3/17 2017


   It's been a busy week here with me trying to push through despite the Fibro flare and my Chronic Fatigue deciding to join the party too.   UGH!  Despite all that, we did have a good week filled with fun and family and that balanced out the bad stuff. 😉  I am thankful that my work was cancelled for this week though because I was not moving well at all on Monday and Tuesday.  Now onto the savings!

~Jeff used a Home Depot gift card we got for Christmas to buy a Air Hammer wrench and some router bits that he wanted.  Both will be used quite a bit to work on our vehicles and on household projects.  He still has a remaining balance on the card to use later.
~We went out to Olive Garden for lunch and used another gift card that we got for Christmas.  They are having their Buy One Take One deal so we had a nice meal there and were able to bring home 2 additional entrees for free.  We chose Cheese Ravioli in Marinara Sauce and a Five Cheese Ziti as out take home meals.  We used these for dinner, served with a nice salad, for dinner another night.

~Jeff picked up some other tools he needed from Harbor Freight where they were on sale.
~While we were in Coeur d'Alene, ID, we also went to the Grocery Outlet and spent $32 for groceries that would have cost us $82 anywhere else.  I found 3 bunches of asparagus marked down to .79 each and some marked down hot Italian Sausage and marked down mushrooms.
~Sunday I used the marked down hot Italian Sausage, some potatoes and onions that needed to be used up and half a large bag of kale that I picked up (for 1/3 the price of regular grocery stores) to cook up a huge batch of Zuppa Toscana soup. We had some for lunch on Sunday, had some Monday and I froze some for future meals also.

~The thrift stores in Coeur d'Alene yield some amazing deals for us.  I was specifically looking for some black pants, dark blue dress shorts, snow bibs for the grandboys for next year and a few other things.  I found all of them!  Both the black pants (Chico's brand), shorts (Coldwater Creek) and a new flannel pajama gown were all brand new.  I also found some gorgeous Cookie Lee earrings (also brand new) and some large Rubbermaid containers for storing cereals, books, a CD for Jeff and a few other things.
~Sunday afternoon Chris called and asked us if we would be interested in having a big family dinner at a place that we all had gift cards to (another Christmas gift) if he would arrange it.  Jeff and I thought that was a wonderful idea!  Chris was able to arrange it and asked if we would like to go bowling beforehand.  The bowling alley has specials on Sundays for families and we had money on a gift card there also. :)  It was a fun way to spend the afternoon and evening and for this Grammie, the ultimate moment was when both my grandsons, who were sitting on either side of me at dinner, decided to make me a "Grammie Sandwich" by hugging me and the same time.  I love those little guys so much and oh they make my heart sing! It was so great to have 2 weekends that we got to spend time with Jaysn, Rachel, Jeremy, Chris, Heather and the grandboys. :)
~I baked 2 loaves of bread and made another batch of croutons.
~I had saved some perfume sample inserts from some older magazines.  Monday I tried out one of the Versace fragrances and I am in love.  I would never spend how much they want for it, but it was sure fun to enjoy it for one day. :)
~Jeff is continuing to strip good parts off his old car to use on his newer one as needed.

~The outside fresh pine wreath came down this weekend.  I stripped the pretty velvet bow and some of the pinecones off it to use on future wreaths before I threw the other drying out part away.
~The thick rubber bands that held the asparagus in bundles was saved.  These come in so handy.  I have no idea when the last time was that I actually bought rubber bands.
~Our hot tub was used multiple times this week because I both overdid it several times and had fibro flare on top of that.  When ever fiber of your body is aching, the hot tub really is the only thing that helps sometimes.
~I worked my points programs as time allowed.
~Stress has caused another yeast infection.  I used a homeopathic treatment here at home to treat and get rid of it.
~I had to refill two prescriptions and did that at Walmart where they only charge $4 for a 30 day supply.

~Jeff and I stopped at the thrift store that helps the disabled.  I had a loyalty card that I had filled up so we got the first $20 of merchandise free on this trip.  We ended up paying $8.36 out of pocket.  I was able to find more shirts for the little boys and some cute baby things for Steven along with an adorable little girl's sunsuit on the .10 clearance rack.   Other great finds were a pair of Dansko leather clogs, a shirt for Jeff, a sweatshirt for me, some outdoor solar lights, a CD, a beautiful coffee mug (found it selling on ebay for about $16 and some change) for .49 and 2 really nice large pasta/soup bowls with the wife rims that were made for Macy's that retail at $18.00 and I got for .79 each.  We also found some cool books on making birdhouses and another recipe book for sandwich wraps, 2 brand new leather men's wallets at .99 each, another Rubbermaid storage canister, some dessert plates for baby Steven's baby shower and something else that Jeff picked up that I have not idea what it is used for, but he does. ;)

~I borrowed a book and a movie from the library.
~The sun was out Thursday so I took advantage of that and no rain to hang out some laundry to dry on the laundry line.
~I conditioned and used brown shoe polish to bring the Dansko shoes I bought for $4.99 at the thrift store on Wednesday back to looking almost brand new.

~I was craving a salad for dinner on Thursday so I used some of the greens I had on hand, some of the rotisserie chicken and some apple to make a yummy dinner for me. is one of my go to spots to book hotel rooms.  I was able to score a $225 a night room for $66 a night.  Woohoo!  We have stayed at the hotel we "won" before and are looking forward to a belated anniversary getaway. There is also an indoor pool at our hotel that I am sure we will be using

~Friday I got a bag of goodies ready to take on our weekend away.   There is a refrigerator, microwave and coffee maker in the room.  I'm taking Pumpkin Bread, chips, crackers, cheese, sausage meat stick, tea, coffee, hot cocoa mix, seltzer water, bananas, creamer (travel size), juice, milk (those little aseptic packs) along with some insulated mugs (so we can take our hot cocoa or tea with us when we leave the hotel to go shopping), some paper plates and plastic silverware.  We can pick up things at the Grocery Outlet or Safeway since they are right down the road and zap them in the hotel room so we don't have to eat out as much.  The hotel also offers free cappuccinos each morning to their guests.  We will be taking advantage of that.
~I stocked up an area of our kitchen with goodies for our house and pet sitter.  I hired one of our neighbors to come and stay here since Caesar knows him and Doofy will love having him here too.

~We had been wanting the movie "Moana" so I bought the dvd/blu ray combo pack.  I am giving the dvd to our grandsons who are thrilled about it and keeping the blu ray here for us.
~Friday turned into another cold, gloomy and wet day so I made some Cheese and Beer Soup.  I had half a can of beer that was unfinished last night so I put it in the fridge with this soup in mind. ;)
~We are taking a baby gift to our good friend's daughter who had a baby in December.  I babysat that same daughter when she was just a baby. :)  Luckily I had bought some adorable NWT baby girl clothes and put them away in my gift closet.

   I know it sounds like we are spending money like crazy, especially with us going away this weekend and staying at a hotel.  There are times though when you just need to escape for awhile and both Jeff and I have been feeling like we needed some time away, just the two of us.  I am trying to keep it as frugal as possible.  I'll share in another post more on how we are doing just that.  Be blessed and I hope you all have a great weekend!

Preparing Your Pantry For Emergencies

   I love Starry Hilder's videos.  She is a homesteader who lives up north of us and recently was snowed in with the horrible storms we had.  We are now dealing with flooding issues and some of the roads in our area have been severely damaged and/or are overrun with floodwaters. Other emergencies could be illness, loss of income, even your vehicle breaking down where you are unable to have transportation to the grocery store.  Check out here video below!



Monday, March 13, 2017

March Grocery Challenge 2017

A large pot of Zuppa Toscana soup made at home.  So good and we had 5 meals out of it since I froze 4 meals worth after enjoying some the day I made it.

   Time for a way overdue update on how I am doing on my grocery challenge for this month.  Rounding my total up, I am at $70.   I have been trying to stick to just buying the things we need at the moment but I did hit the Grocery Outlet store while we were in Coeur D'Alene over the weekend and they had some deals I just could not pass up!

   The grocery items that I have been buying down here have been bananas, milk, oil, flour to make bread, lots of fresh produce and a few treats thrown in here and there.  Jeff eats 1-2 bananas a day so I am always having to get those.  We have been going through a lot of milk lately and I needed the oil and flour to make bread and other snack items with.  Salad making supplies have been pretty expensive lately so I have been trying to find deals on things like sweet peppers to throw in to both stretch the expensive lettuces and to add some crunch and great flavor to it.

   The Grocery Outlet store had some amazing deals on produce like kale and asparagus.  I got a huge bag of Kale for $2.99 and 3 bunches of asparagus for .79.  I also found some marked down hot Italian Sausage so I cooked up a huge batch of Zuppa Toscana with that, half the bag of kale and and some potatoes I had here at home that needed to be used.  I froze 4 meals worth for future dinners along with us having some on Sunday. One of my favorite scores of the day there though were some Betty Crocker Mint Chip Brownie mixes.  We are throwing a baby shower for our Rachel next month and I thought that would be perfect for one of the treat plates.  I'll cook up 3 of the boxed mixes for that and serve it along with a nice fruit platter or salad to go with the cake that Heather is making.  I also found huge bags of organic whole green beans so I bought one of those since Jeff and I love stir fried garlic green beans.  We did get some other snack type things and a large 2 pound block of Pepperjack cheese for $4.99.

   Today while I was making room in the freezer for the 4 containers of soup that I was freezing, I pulled out a reduced priced rotisserie chicken.  I'll be making meals this week with that and then using the carcass to make more soup.  I need to use the asparagus this week also and use up our salad greens.    With all the rain we are having, it sounds like this is the perfect week for comfort food!


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Frugal Friday Wrap Up 3/4-3/10 2017

   This has been a great week for some amazing finds at the thrift stores.  Sometimes I think God is really smiling down on me and saying "I know you are having a rough week so here is a nice surprise to brighten your day".  This was surely one of those weeks where He blessed me big time!  Even better than that though was that we were able to spend lots of quality time with our family going out to dinner with a gift card given to us at Christmas and also celebrate Bradley's 5th birthday with friends and family.  Our greatest treasures will always be our family!  Onto my savings and wonderful finds!

~My goodness did I score big time at our thrift store that benefits the disabled in our area.  I found a Coach purse for $2.29.  Yes, you read that right!  Happy Dance!!!!😁 
~I recycled a gift bag to put our grandson Bradley's birthday gifts in.
~We managed to get the whole family together for dinner at Pizza Hut on Saturday.  We took advantage of their deals and used a $30 gift card to pay for most of it.  It was great to have everyone together, including my cousin who we had not seen in quite awhile. :)

~As much as I wanted to go to a huge library book sale on Saturday, I resisted the urge to do so and saved the money instead.  I have so many books here already that I still need to read.
~Sunday was Bradley's 5th birthday party!  I still can't believe he turned 5 on Wednesday!  We had a wonderful time with family and friends.  By the time we got home I was worn out though so Jeff made some boxed mac and cheese for dinner while I made us salads.
~Monday I made 2 loaves of bread, a double batch of biscuits, roasted sweet and yellow potatoes along with some red peppers, and maple syrup.

~Tuesday I worked and was in need of some "retail therapy" after a rather hectic morning. ;)  I hit up Goodwill and found some shirts, a blu ray/dvd combo of "The Lego Movie" (this will be a birthday gift for our second grandson Isaiah for his birthday in July), a insulated mug from my college, a book, candle and some of which was brand spanking new. One of the shirts was half price and I also used a 20% off the most expensive item coupon.
~Jeff made us pancakes from my homemade mix for dinner on Tuesday night.

~Wednesday I borrowed 3 more dvds from the library and put in requests for several others.
~Wednesday night Jeff and I went out to dinner to celebrate our anniversary (a day early).  Our son Josh gave us $50 for anniversary and told us to go out to dinner on him.  We went back to the same place (it was a different restaurant than it is now, but still the same building) where we had our rehearsal dinner 32 years ago.  It is now one of our favorite Mexican restaurants.  They serve huge portions so both Jeff and I brought home part of our dinner to have for another meal.

~Thursday I dug into my stash of greeting cards and found a wonderful card for my hubby for our anniversary.  He stopped and bought me one on his way home from work along with a Snickers bar.  Yep, Snickers are my love language. 😁
~We borrowed Chris' pickup to haul home another ton of wood pellets to use in our pellet stove.

~I threw more overripe pears on top of the garden bed.  They will break down and make nice compost.
~Thursday night Jeff had his bowling league so I just made a big bowl of popcorn and had that for dinner while I watched videos on YouTube.
~Friday I was craving steak so I pulled some venison steaks from the freezer and made a marinade right in the ziplock bag the steaks were in.  I let them thaw in the refrigerator and we had them for dinner along with a wild rice mix and salad.

~Do you ever crave something that you have had at a restaurant really badly?  Well that has been me with a certain pasta salad that is different from anything I have ever had before.  I set out to try and recreate it and came close!  I think all I need to add is some cilantro to the parsley that I already added and it would be perfect.  I do think however that my hubby would enjoy my version as it is better though. ;)

~I worked on my points programs and did surveys as time allowed.
~The Asian food cravings hit this week so I dug through the freezer and found some pork pot stickers and cooked those up.

   I think I did pretty well overall both in finding amazing things and in the food department here at home.  Jeff and I will be heading out here soon to go up to a lakeside town about an hour north of us for the day to do some shopping and to have a early dinner.  Be blessed all and have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Wedding Gift Ideas That Will Be Appreciated and Used

Thirty two years ago we had a Hawaiian style wedding (my culture) and got married in the same church my husband's parents were married in.

   Today Jeff and I are celebrating our 32nd wedding anniversary so of course I have been reminiscing and taking notice of the items that we got all those years ago as wedding gifts that we still use on a regular basis today.  Jeff and I also received our second invitation last  week to weddings that will be held this Summer.  That got me to thinking about wedding gifts for the newlyweds to be and what would actually be appreciated and used.  I don't want to get them things that will just end up gathering dust, be regifted or donated or sold at their next yard sale. 😉

    Let's be honest here, although the thought was nice, there are many gifts that we were given that we never or rarely use.  Those napkin rings, while pretty to look at, just were not something that my husband and I (or anyone else we know) use.  We are not fancy people at all.  The beautiful Japanese lacquered serving trays have been used once.  I was terrified for something (or someone) to drop hard on them and ruin them.  The fancy cocktail bread molds, well unless you throw a lot of cocktail parties or tea parties, they are not practical at all and besides that, they are a bear to clean.   I know this one is going to be hard for some people to accept, but that beautiful fancy (and delicate) china, although I really wanted it and was blessed to get some of it, I have used two of the plates (I have four complete place settings along with one of the serving platters) exactly one time.  We had three boys and my husband is tends to get a little heavy handed when using a knife so again, I was afraid of my china being broken or scratched.  It does look lovely in the china cabinet though and in the spirit of being totally transparent and honest, I do collect pretty china pieces because I am drawn to them and I will use some of them myself (mainly the pink Haviland patterns) because they bring back warm and wonderful memories for me of eating off the family china on holidays at the Grandma's house.  I did inherit all that china from her plus another set of her china, but it is packed away at the moment.

   So let's get onto the more practical (and appreciated) gifts ideas that will be used.  Remember that some of these items, especially the Winter type linens, are on sale at many stores right now.  Go get some and put them in your gift closet for those upcoming wedding gifts and even graduations.   Here is my list...

~Tupperware food storage containers.  I am still using the set that my Aunt Lucy and Uncle Ed got us when we were married and I have added to it over the years.  This is probably my most used wedding gift because they are in constant rotation in my refrigerator storing leftovers or bringing something to family dinners.
~Blankets, sheets, towels, kitchen towels, and oven mitts.  These are items that get a lot of use.  Invest in good quality towels please while they are on sale.  My husband and I prefer the huge "bath sheet" sized towels and find that most of the people that we have given those kinds of bath towels too love them.  Same goes for sheets, buy the couple a nice high thread count set while on sale.  Nobody likes scratchy sheets.  Don't forget about the beach towels!
~Cloth napkins.  No, not the fancy damask kind, but practical cotton napkins that can be used on a daily basis and just thrown in the wash after use.  With so many people trying to "go green" or be frugal, this is a wonderful and much used item.  They are also easy to sew and you can find fun fabrics that match the decor and interests of your recipients.  We use our's on a daily basis and our kids have grown up using them so now they have them and actually request them as gifts.
~Pyrex glassware for storage or baking.  These are things that we and everyone we know uses on a regular basis.  One of my favorite gifts to give is a Pyrex rectangular baking dish with it's insulated carrier.
~Mixing bowls.  My favorite mixing bowls are rubber with handles and a rubber ring on the bottoms that help it to drip to the counter while I am mixing something up.  They are a nesting set that we were given when we got married and are still going strong and seeing lots of use.
~Good knives.  Everyone needs good sharp kitchen knives that can be sharpened when they get dull.  Steak knives are also on my list of things that are much appreciated and used.
~Cookie sheets, bread pans, cake pans, and cooling racks.  Again, these are items that see a lot of use in my home.
~Rubber spatulas, tongs, wooden spoons, wisks, a good potato masher, ladles, large slotted spoon, measuring spoons and cups, Pyrex glass measuring cup that can also go in the microwave, splatter guards, and a kitchen timer.
~Good pots and pans.  These make cooking so much nicer and easier.  I also think everyone needs a good heavy duty stock pot to make soups in or to cook for a crowd.
~An immersion blender.  I love these for making creamed soups.  They are so easy to just put directly in the crockpot or regular pots and puree up things like lentil or split pea soup.
~A nice mixer.  This can either be a good quality hand held one or if the recipient does a lot of baking, a nice KitchenAid, Bosch, or Oster one.
~An Instapot pressure cooker.  I really want to get one of these for myself because I have heard such good things about them and they make it easy to get a nice meal cooked quickly.  This would save so much time and money for anyone!
~Matching silverware (stainless steel).  I know so many young people that have mismatched silverware and would love a nice set of matching good quality silverware.  I am still using the set we got as a wedding gift.
~Nice water glasses.  Again, this is something that I have seen appreciated over and over again.
~Cleaning supplies.  Fill a heavy duty laundry basket with cleaning supplies for the newlyweds who are setting up their home together.  I include paper towels, all purpose cleaner, glass cleaner, dishwashing soap, laundry soap, dishwasher detergent and dryer sheets.
~If the newlyweds will be living in a house as opposed to an apartment, you can get them shovels (both regular and snow), rakes, hand shovels, hoses, and outdoor gardening stuff.  Big trash cans for garden waste are also a good idea.
~A small toolbox filled with a hammer, both Phillips and regular screwdriver, duct tape, assorted screws and nails, picture hanging kits, eye hooks, and a measuring tape are also much appreciated and needed.
~A customized cookbook.  It is so special to gather well loved recipes from family and friends that will bring back wonderful memories for the newlyweds.  Who doesn't want to eat Grandma's special angel food cake, Nana's meatloaf, Uncle Brad's "secret" marinade for steaks to grill, Mom's shoyu chicken and many other special foods.  Gather those together and make a cookbook.  Many of those recipes will be lost as people pass on and this will become a treasured family heirloom as the years go by.
~A calendar filled with all the family birthdays and anniversaries written or printed in.  You could make your own filled with family photos or beautiful scenery shots that have special meaning to the recipients.
~If you are a quilter, a handmade quilt in the newlyweds favorite colors is a much treasured gift.  My mother makes quilts for all the newlyweds in our family.  She also makes baby quilts for all the babies to follow.
~A family heirloom (if you are related to the newlyweds).  Maybe there is something that one of the newlyweds cherished as a child that can be passed down on their wedding day.  My MIL gave some of the family china to one of my nieces.  It is something that my niece cherished and uses.  For me it was a needlepoint picture that my grandmother had been working on for me before she died.  I loved her needlepoint pictures that she made.  When my grandfather remarried, his new wife Hazel, who had been good friends with my grandmother, had it finished by another friend and gave it to me on my wedding day.  She told me about how my Grandma Jean had been trying to get it finished before she died to give it to me as a wedding gift.  My husband and I were not even engaged yet when she started it, but Grandma told me I would marry him shortly after I first met him and he would take good care of me after she was gone and she was right.  That needlepoint hangs up in my livingroom  in a customized frame that my sweet hubby's father hand made for it as a reminder to me of her love and also of my FIL's love for us.
~I gave my DIL Heather my pearl earrings that I wore on my wedding day as a gift and she wore them on her wedding day.  I would have given our Rachel some jewelry too but she is allergic to so many metals and I did not have anything that she could wear that would not cause an allergic reaction.

   I'm sure there are many other things that I am missing here and that are special to the newlyweds in other people's lives.  I like to mix practical with unique and meaningful to the recipients.  This is just a start of what could become a very long list but I hope that it helps remind me and gives others some ideas to help out with all those weddings coming up.


Saturday, March 4, 2017

Frugal Friday Wrap Up 2/25-3/3 2017


   Good Saturday Morning!  I woke up this morning to snow falling.  I'm not sure who was more surprised to see it, me or Doofy cat. I usually try to get this weekly post finished off on Saturday mornings while Jeff sleeps.  He got home later than usual after working last night and I am hoping he continues to sleep for awhile since he really can't get out and do some work on his car like he had hoped with this weather.  My savings were not huge this week due to Jeff having to use my car for the later part of the week.  I had not planned on going anywhere so I thought we would be saving money by not using my car (since it uses more gas than his), but he is working on replacing something on his car that he is trying to strip the part off his old car and use it.  So far this has not been going well since the bolt is not cooperating and coming off.  Praying he can get it done at some point this weekend.  Onto the savings that I did have...

~Saturday Chris and Heather and Bradley brought Isaiah over to stay with us for the weekend.  They came over earlier than planned so we had them just stay for dinner too.  I made homemade pizzas and we all had a wonderful time!
~After they left, we hot tubbed with Isaiah and he was so tired after that he begged to go to bed.  LOL!  It had been a long day for him.
~Sunday we went to Petco and picked up our free cat treats for Doofy.  We also looked at all the animals there and got to see a chameleon change colors!  That was so cool!
~Isaiah won a stuffed animal in the claw machine at Walmart and proclaimed it was his "Lucky Day".

~We stopped at a thrift store on our way home Sunday after having lunch at McDonald's (Isaiah's choice) and found a pair of DriFit Nike workout capri pants for me, a toy for Caesar, a shirt for Isaiah, a extension cord and some craft supplies.
~We borrowed the movie "Trolls" from Chris and was hilarious!
~Sunday night we watched "Finding Dory" on Netflix.
~Sunday night we had grilled cheese sandwiches and ice cream for dinner.
~Monday Chris, Heather and Bradley came over to hot tub before they took Isaiah home with them. While they were here I took advantage of having us all together and made a double batch of homemade biscuits and also made some sausage gravy.  We had that for a very filling lunch together.
~Jeff and I hot tubbed on Monday afternoon before he had to go to sleep for awhile.  The hot tub was already warmed up since the kids had used it earlier in the day.

~Chris and Heather brought us over another bag full of elk and venison steaks, roasts and burger.  They needed the room in their freezer since they are have a whole pig that was just processed.  They will be giving us some of that too.  We are very blessed!
~I used one of the packages of elk burger to make flat baking sheet burgers.  I used up some of the leftover pizza sauce, some bread, some home dehydrated onions and other seasonings and then patted the mixture onto a foil lined baking pan.  I cut the flat burger mixture into squares.  We had them along with leftover rice and potato salad for 2 meals and then as burgers for another.
~I realized that one of my SwagUp bonuses was expiring tomorrow and since I did not have enough Swagbucks for a discounted $25 gift card come the first part of March, I went ahead and cashed in now for a $10 gift card since I do need to place an order there for our hot tub supplies and I am trying to cut the cost of that expensive purchase.
~Jeff needed a cell phone that would actually work in the areas that he travels through each night.  We found one that was a Verizon Tracfone for $100 off the regular price.  It has 3x the minutes, text and data as a regular phone and the phone card was also on sale.  We are going to try again to transfer over all of his minutes (over 400) from his current phone.

~I found lots of items on clearance today including a darling giraffe stuffed animal for the new grandson Stevie at 90% off.  I also got a candle, some Valentine's candy and some earrings.
~I worked my points programs.
~I worked Tuesday morning and got home to find Jeff awake so we headed back into another town to get his glasses.  We got his glasses, did the shopping and came home to grab some dinner of leftovers.
~I borrowed 2 more dvds from the library this week.

~Our sweet neighbor girl's basketball team made it to the State Tournament.  Her mother called and told me that they do "encouragement buckets" for each of the girls filled with notes of encouragement and small token gifts for the girls to read on the way over by bus.  I know that this amazing young woman is just getting into makeup and doing her nails.  I found a pretty card in my stash here, wrote her a note and included a package of the Jamberry nail wraps that I thought she would love because they are a soft minty green color with sparkles on the ends. ;)
~Wednesday night I was exhausted so we switched up the menu and had leftovers for dinner.  I usually save leftover for Thursday night since Jeff bowls then and leaves early.  We ended up having more leftovers Thursday night also.
~Thursday I baked up some Pumpkin Spice Bread from a mix I got on clearance awhile back for .98.  It is one of Jeff's favorites. :)
~I had some Cream Cheese and the last bits of some Mozzarella and Cheddar cheese. I added some bacon bits and seasonings, mixed it all together, and made a nice cheese spread to go on crackers.

~Friday I finished watching the rest of the series "It's a Different World" on Netflix.  Free entertainment for me.
~Friday night I cooked up a big Ziplock bag full of chicken fried steaks.  We had some for dinner and the rest will be eaten over the next 3-4 days.  This is a favorite of my hubby so I know they will not last long.
~Our Heather asked if we had some extra pasta on hand that was not spaghetti noodles that they could have.  We have told the kids to please shop our pantry and ask us if we have something they need before going out and buying it.  I was happy to be able to fill up a bag of assorted pastas for her.
~I took a long hot bath and used some of the anti stress soaking salts that Tammy (Heather's mom) made me for Christmas.  I love them and need to learn how to make them so I can keep some on hand.

   So those are my savings for this week.  I am proud of myself for not having my hubby go and pick up dinner at the tavern for us when I was so tired.  I've been happy to be home for the later part of the week because all the running around and having tons of fun with Isaiah over the weekend and then working on Tuesday along with running errands for most of that day wore me out.  Be blessed!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

March Grocery Budget Challenge 2017


   March is a month where we seem to hemorrhage money because we have the property taxes due, both our life insurance premiums are due, and we typically need to buy another ton of pellets for our pellet stove to keep us warm.  Add to this a rather large unexpected medical bill (that I thought was covered by my insurance but turns out not to be) that needs to be paid and planning to go out to a nice dinner for our anniversary this month to a new Japanese teppanyaki style restaurant and we have to cut the budget drastically.  In looking at where I can make some cuts, it seems to come down to our grocery budget because I find that is where I have the most "wiggle room" due to a very well stocked pantry, fridge and freezer.

   My plan is to try to utilize the foods that we have on hand as much as possible and build menus around that.  We will be picking up fresh produce, milk, cheese and a few other things this month because those are important to us and we rely on them as part of our regular diet. We will also be picking up a few treats here and there.  Chris and Heather brought us over more elk and venison and will also be giving us some pork from the pig they raised and just had processed.  Yes, I do realize just how blessed we are by their generosity and I know that most people do not have this "resource" like we do.  During the growing and gardening season, I provide them and the rest of our friends and family with all the cherries, raspberries, blackberries, lettuce and beans, tomatoes and cucumber they could ever want. ;)  It saves us all money and is so much healthier since I do not use chemicals on our garden unless absolutely necessary and that only happens once in a blue moon.

   I'm going to try to keep track of what I spend to keep myself accountable.  I'm not posting a target amount to stick to but am going to try to keep it way below what I normally spend. I want to post and share my progress as an encouragement to myself and to everyone who reads this little blog of mine. :)  I know that Becky at is also doing this type of challenge for herself and her family this month along with some other fellow blogger friends. :)  Anyone else want to join in?