Monday, November 30, 2015

A Very Productive Day

   It has been a very productive day around here.  I probably have gotten more done today alone than I have in the last 6 weeks combined.  I have my 6 week post op follow up on Wednesday and I am hoping and praying I can be cleared to us our hot tub again...after a day like today I need it!

This is a list of what I accomplished today:

~made a double batch of turkey shepherds pie filling, and yes, I realize I spelled it wrong on my container...I blame the lack of coffee and being very tired at this point on that mistake
~made some sourdough bread
~washed 5 delicate items by hand and got those hung up to dry on the drying rack that I set up in our guest bathroom bathtub
~cleaned out the drain in the guest bathroom sink

~got our new small fiber optic Christmas tree set up on the pellet stove, I still need to decorate it.  So far all it seems to do is make the cat sleepy when he looks at it. Yay!
~made some yaki soba for lunch with some of the leftover turkey and lots of veggies
~cleaned the kitty litter box

~started to decorate the garland above the old china cabinet 
~took down and put away the Fall decorations
~got a garlic and herb pork roast going in the crockpot
~did 3 loads of laundry
~worked on my points programs

   While I did all that, my amazing hubby was caulking the tiles on the kitchen floor.  Please excuse the mess on the kitchen counters.  We had to unload things off the top of the refrigerator and put them on the counters.  Didn't he do a great job?  I'm loving it!  Tomorrow we will get the refrigerator moved back into the kitchen and the counters cleaned back off.

   I still have a few things on my "to do" list but I am really tired out now and my shoulder muscles are aching.  I think I will just fold the last 2 loads of laundry and read for awhile.

Be blessed!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Frugal Doings for the Second Half of November

   Thanksgiving is now behind us and now we have the lead up to Christmas.  Jeff and I had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  My cousin Jeremy invited us over and prepared a wonderful meal that was just delicious.  We contributed garlic green beans and a nice pie, but he did the majority of the work.  Our son Chris stopped by for a few minutes and it was nice to visit with him also.  
   Now, onto the frugal doings around here over the past few weeks:

~Jeremy sent us home with lots of delicious leftovers
~I have been using the leftovers to create new meals like a green bean and turkey casserole

~Jeff is redoing our kitchen floor and it is looking great
~working at my Swagbucks points programs and cashing in for more gift cards
~used the Walmart gift cards to buy groceries
~cleaned out my closets and had the girls go through and take what they wanted
~bought a brown full sized flat sheet and wrapped the foam pad that is under the cushions on the couch 

~bought some birthday cards at the Dollar Tree
~found Isaiah a second pair of snow bibs (brand new) and some nice warm gloves for Bradley at the thrift store
~got some free magazines in the mail
~made a big pot of chili and served it over rice

~putting leftover coffee in a nice insulated carafe to keep it hot
~borrowing more books and movies from the library
~moved the cars so they would not be hit with falling branches during our wind storm
~baked some treats
~made a tray full of hamburgers in the oven

~got some free groceries while doing our volunteer work
~won several free packages of candy
~SKYPEd with Josh
~got in on a deal to get the Minions movie for free
~making some homemade citrus cleaner with citrus peals and vinegar

   ~printing out coupons and using them at the grocery store to get free products and discounts
~taking the dog for a walk so we get some exercise and so does he
~making bread in the breadmaker
~freezing leftovers for future meals

~getting a free 8x10 photo from Walgreens
~trying to combine errands and not use my car too much
~doing the paperwork to get me on the same health insurance that Jeff is on through his work...this will save us so much money in the long run and is a much better policy than what I have now and what my current health insurance company wants me to switch to since they are dropping my plan
~doing lots of hand washing of my sweaters and using a very concentrated cleaner that only takes a little to clean your clothing

~skipped the Black Friday sales since I shopped ahead of time and got better deals that way
~watching some of our favorite Christmas shows on TV
~learning new skills by watching YouTube videos
~using some of our garden produce that we harvested and froze earlier this year in our meals now

  So many of the things that I listed I do on a regular basis and I am always trying to find new ways to save.  Any suggestions?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

One of These Things is not Like the Other



    Both of these fur babies are total goofballs.  Both can be cuddle bugs.  Both can get themselves into trouble.  But one of these is not like the other and can be a whirling force and as destructive as a mini tornado.


   If you guessed Rufus, you are right.  See him winking at you...yep that's right, he is pretty darned proud of himself.  This guy has been know to attack innocent bananas, knock them on the floor, bat them around, bite and scratch them and then claim he was just "tenderizing them" for you.  Uh huh, that is his story.  The sponge from the kitchen sink mysteriously appears in the living room.  The kitchen table is "cleared off" of anything and everything.  Pencils, pens and nail files go missing and are later found between the couch cushions.  When asked, Rufus blames it on the dog.  Funny how we never had that issue before with the dog...he must have lost his mind once we got Rufus. ;)  Caesar lays quietly on the floor in our bedroom at night to sleep while Mr. Curious is constantly waking us by getting up on the headboard and knocking things off.  Squirting him with a bottle of water and vinegar to get him to stop has become a huge game to him.  Believe me, a lamp coming down on your head is not how you want to wake up suddenly.  All this has led to a certain fur baby of the feline persuasion being locked out of the bedroom at night.  And how does he respond?  By licking himself raw and bald, that's how!  So now said feline is being treated with some anti itch spray and if that does not work, then we go to the antiseptic spray.  It's a good thing he is cute, just saying. ;)

Monday, November 23, 2015

Scaling Back this Holiday Season

   Christmas, the season of overboard consumer consumption, going into debt, stress over buying presents for everyone and their dog, rushing form event to event and trying to make everything picture perfect.  All of the above are impractical, irresponsible, and impossible!  Yet we, as Americans especially, do this to ourselves year after year.  I have been guilty of this in the past myself.  But not this year.  Major changes are happening and I hope they stick!

   First of all, we are scaling way back on gifts.  I tend to buy gifts all year long and put them in my gift closet which works out really well budget, time and energy wise.  I also do lots of baking and candy making because homemade gifts really are special and are usually very much appreciated.  My DIL Heather suggested mainly homemade gifts this year for our family and I agree!  I'm blessed that she and my other DIL Rachel are both on the same girls that my boys married! ;)

   The holidays are hectic with trying to go to all the parties, family get togethers, church services, performances, etc..  We have learned over the years that it is all too much for hubby and me and we stop enjoying and start dreading all the busy-ness.  This year we are scaling back there too.  Christmas day will find us at 2 of our sons' homes.  We will enjoy Christmas Brunch and gift exchanges with our extended family at Chris and Heather's in the morning and the have dinner at Jaysn and Rachel's, with Rachel's mom and sister Michelle joining us and I believe my cousin Jeremy will be there too. :)  As for Christmas Eve, that one is still to be determined, but I do want to go to a Christmas Eve service again.  Last year we had an early dinner and then attended 2 services that evening, both very beautiful and meaningful.

   Last year I was very stressed by this time and feeling so much pressure.  We were dealing with some ongoing and very hurtful situations that were just magnified by the holiday season and that caused lots of tears and frustration and put a dark cloud over everything.  This year we are not going to allow those things to get in the way of enjoying this magical season of lights, laughter, family and friends.  It is what it is and some things have improved on that front, while others have deteriorated even further.  We will just be thankful for the improvements and not dwell on the rest. :)

  I do hope that this year will be one where we can just kick back a bit more and just enjoy. :)  It's not the things that matter, but rather the time spent enjoying friends and family that make it special. :)  Be blessed!



Friday, November 13, 2015

Frugal Doings for the First Half of November 2015


The medical bills are rolling in like tidal waves, the holidays are upon us, it's getting colder and we need to run the pellet stove more and prices at the grocery store are going up.  I could get depressed but I'd rather be proactive, remain positive and do what I can to stretch Jeff's income.  On that note, this is what I have been doing to accomplish that during the first part of this month:

~doing my points programs to earn points that I cash in for cash or gift cards
~cashed in at Swagbucks for gift cards to Walmart
~cashed in at Mypoints for a Olive Garden gift card
~took advantage of free magazine offers
~cashed in some of the points attached to our credit and debit card accounts at the Credit Union for another gift card that will be a gift this Christmas for some very special people in our lives
~bought a chest freezer for $75 from a friend
~using up things in the refrigerator, freezer and pantry before they go bad
~looking over our medical bills very carefully and challenging some of them with the insurance company
~cashed in a Pinecone Research for a check
~using the money from Pinecone Research to shop for things at the thrift store
~limiting my outings and staying home more so I do not use as much gas in my car
~combining errands all into 1 trip when possible
~heat turned down most of the time and just wearing warmer clothing in layers and house slippers
~Jeff is remodeling my closet with materials that we already have
~bought a section of downspout for .69 at the Habitat for Humanity resale store
~watching dvds that we already have
~borrowing movies and books from the library
~found 3 snowbibs for the grand kids at the thrift store saving about $18 on each set over the price at Walmart

~stretching a ham into many meals
~stocking up on things when they are rock bottom prices
~bake to baking now that I am healed up enough to do so
~put extra blankets on the bed to help keep us warmer at night and still be able to keep the heat turned down
~Jeff put the snow tires on the car himself
~making sure I either bake several things at once or at least do piggy back baking so I don't waste energy
~using my crock pots and cooking in bulk and freezing some of the food for meals later
~Jeff buried some of the blackberry branches so that they will produce new plants for us this Spring
~used some of the Walmart gift cards I earned to buy groceries
~signed up for some free samples
~trimmed my bangs
~watching shows and videos online
~keeping my coffee warm for longer in an insulated mug
~cashed in my Disney Movie Rewards points for a dvd for my grandsons for Christmas
~listening to Christmas music on the TV
~still eating tomatoes from our garden that I brought in green before the frost hit and are ripening up now
~working on making Christmas gifts with supplies I bought after Christmas last year
~using some huckleberry jam that did not set right as syrup over pancakes and ice cream

I'm still trying to come up with more ways to save...any suggestions?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Easing Back in Normalacy

   It has now been 3 weeks since I had my hysterectomy and I am slowly easing back into my normal routine, with the exception of lifting anything heavy at all.  I am still taking things slowly, but am finding that there are some things that I can once again do without worrying about hurting myself or ripping out stitches.

  My hubby is remodeling my clothing closet and took everything out of it.  I took that opportunity to go through all of the clothing and sort it out.  I filled 2 big bags with clothing that no longer fit or I did not wear and will be donating it to the thrift store after I have my 2 daughter in laws go through it to see if there is anything they may want. I also sorted some of the clothing that had gotten a bit dusty into two piles.  One pile is being washed and then hung up and the other pile needs to be dry cleaned (I have a dry cleaning kit here at home that I will use to do this).  It feels good to have that project going and I am rediscovering clothing that I had forgotten that I had.  I now realize that I have many black skirts and that I do not need any more.

   We have been relying on store bought bread, bagels and English muffins to get us through for awhile.  My breadmaker is heavy and I still don't risk lifting it so last night I had my hubby get it set out on the counter for me.  This morning I got some bread going in it and then moved on to making some scrapple, which is really a easy sausage polenta with lots of sage and pepper.

   Before my surgery, I had made some precooked meals that we could just pull out and bake.  I also cooked up a bunch of hamburger and packed it up into about 1 pound portions and then froze it.  A few days ago I got out one of those packages, got it going on the stove and added some chopped frozen peppers (bought at rock bottom prices during the Summer and chopped up and frozen), some vegetable juice that I needed to use up, the last bit of some macaroni noodles that I had left from making a huge batch of homemade mac and cheese and simmered that all together making a nice casserole.  I added the last of some Italian cheese that I had in the freezer right before serving and we had a very nice comfort food meal that took very little effort on my part.

   Since the weather has turned much colder, it was time to get the cozy throws and blankets out.  Jeff got those washed up for me and I now have them scattered around on the chairs and couches, all ready to snuggle up in.  Jeff and I have been enjoying them, as has Rufus.

  I'm still trying to be careful and am learning my limits as to what I can and cannot handle doing.  I'm taking walks when the weather cooperates and my hubby can come along so that he can hold the leash for our Caesar who likes to stop suddenly to explore a new scent. I am getting out and doing the shopping with my hubby, but he has to load and unload the heavy bags and then I can help get things put away.  I have to keep reminding myself that although it seems like it was a long time ago that I had my surgery, it was really only 3 weeks ago and I have at least another 3-5 weeks to go before I can got back to my totally normal routine and even then, it depends on what the doctor tells me.  For now though, I am just thankful for the things that I can do and for my husband, kids and friends who keep reminding me to be careful and continue to rest as much as I can between doing some of the "normal" things that I can once again do.




Saturday, November 7, 2015

Making a Ham Stretch for Many Meals

Homemade Ham and Cheese Calzones

   Anyone who knows my sweet hubby also knows he is a ham freak.  That man could devour an entire ham in one meal if allowed to do so. ;)  It is his ultimate comfort food.  Knowing this, and wanting to bless him with many meals from that ham, we had "the talk".  Yes, "the talk".  It consisted of me telling him that although I know he loves his ham, I can make it so that he can enjoy it for longer IF he will limit himself to a reasonable serving (including seconds) at the first meal and then let me work my magic with it.  So this is how I stretched a smallish ham into many meals for the two of us.

Meal #1:  Sliced ham, chipotle mashed potatoes, applesauce
Meals #2, 3 and 4: I used the broth from the ham (I had cooked it in the crockpot) and made a big batch of split pea soup (again in the crockpot).  Meal #4 is being frozen to have later.
Meal #5: Ham sandwiches with sliced ham and pickles.
Meal #6: Made ham and celery salad and had that on bagels.
Meal #7: Using the rest of the ham salad and adding some cheese to make ham and cheese calzones (made with homemade pizza dough).  I would like to think I could get 2 meals out of this but my hubby has been working hard today on a remodeling project so I think he may finish them off in one meal.

   I love being able to stretch our budget and all that hammy goodness with the meal plan above.  When our boys were still living at home, I would do something similar with a larger ham.  I was feeding not only our family of 5, but lots of their friends as well, so I quickly learned to make things go a long way.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

When it Rains it Pours and Then it Snows!

   Today it started raining buckets, I'm talking heavy downpours that made it difficult to hear other things because the sound of the rain coming down on the roof was deafening at times.  

   Then it snowed.  Heavy wet snow that makes sidewalks slippery and the roads hazardous as the slush pulls you this way and that.  It was the perfect metaphor for our finances lately.

  The bills are starting to roll in for all my medical expenses over the past few months.  Doctor's visits, ultrasound, biopsies, surgery, hospital bills and pathology lab bills, not to mention prescription costs are multiplying at an alarming rate.  I have been on the phone with my insurance company asking them why they have not even covered  part of my visits to one of my doctors and they said $180 is the "allowable" amount for the visit and since that is what the bill is for each of those visits (other procedures that may take place at that visit are billed separately), that is coming out of my pocket.  Four visits so far and more to come...UGH!  Now I realize that this doctor is a specialist (and a very good one too I might add) and I don't blame him at all, but come on insurance company, you get a huge chunk of money from me every month in my premiums, can't you kick in a little to help offset the cost?  

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Two Weeks Post Op

I had my 2 week post op appointment today.  All in all, I am doing well.  I did get all my biopsy reports today and they were packed with all kinds of information.  Fibroids, endometriosis, dermoids (those are kind of creepy) and something else that I can't remember but nothing cancerous.  All of the "finds" would explain why I had such painful periods growing up and had such bad cramping.

We discussed my hot flashes coming back with a vengeance and are going to wait until I am totally healed and let things settle down before making any decisions on that.  I'm just going to continue to use what I have been up to this point.  I'm afraid if I stopped, it would be worse. 

I still need to get lots of rest, there is no heavy lifting and I need to listen to my body and not push myself too much but I was encouraged to be up and walking around as I could handle it.  I can just use Tylenol now for the pain or discomfort (which I find I get at night after a long day or if I have been up on my feet or sitting in one scrunched up position and not being able to just stretch out).

I go back again in another 4 weeks and hopefully I will be given the all clear to resume my normal life at that point.

I am thankful that I had this done.  Now I don't have to worry about the painful cramping, more biopsies and even worse, cancer in those organs that are now taken out.  My husband keeps reminding me during this healing process that despite that pain, discomfort and being limited on what I can do now, that in the long run, it is the best thing and I will once again be very happy that I finally got this taken care of.