Friday, January 27, 2017

Frugal Friday Wrap Up 1/21-1/27 2017


   I'm feeling a bit beat up physically and mentally after this week.  I pushed myself way too much and am paying for it.  Tuesday morning I worked for MOPS, Wednesday I had Bradley here for the afternoon, Thursday afternoon and evening I went beyond just delivering food to shuts ins but also went back and helped for the rest of the time at the food distribution since they were short volunteers so that made for 6 hours of work there while my back and neck were screaming.  Thursday Bradley came down with an awful virus that landed him at the doctor with a high fever and Friday morning he had to be rushed to the emergency room because he was having trouble breathing since he was coughing so hard.  Poor guy is miserable.  I am praying that he heals quickly and that no one else comes down with it.  He was extra cuddly with me on Wednesday when he was here so I am wondering if he was just at the start of it then.  The whole political climate and all the ugliness being spouted is really getting to me.  Jeff suggested I stay off facebook for most of the weekend to give myself a break.  It hurts to see some of my family and friends spreading untruths. The attacks on Christians and homeschoolers have really cut deep for me.  My family and friends know that we are Christians and that we homeschooled our kids.  They also know that I love them unconditionally and that I will stand up against people who would try to bully them due to their religious beliefs, choice of lifestyles, pigmentation of their skin, etc. .  I believe in treating people with kindness and respect.  We do not have to believe the same way on every issue, but we can  still be respectful to one another.  I realize that I may never be able to change their minds about something as important to me as not taking the life of an innocent unborn child and they will never be able to convince me that having someone who glorifies the sexualization of women to make her living (Madonna) can be truly outraged about about men then viewing women in that same exact way.  It's just exhausting and fruitless to even try.  Stepping down off my soapbox now and onto the savings...

~Saturday my hubby cleaned out the big walk in closet.  He found lots of things that we had been looking for including gift bags and wrapping paper, baby gifts, 2 amplifiers (we need to check with Chris and Josh since they belong to either one or both of them), our Disney movies on VHS (I will try to sell these) and lots of clothing and linens along with other miscellaneous stuff.
~I mended a pair of pants for Jeff and a quilt that our dear Grandma Ann made.
~Leftover ziti and cheese casserole was lunch of Saturday.
~Saturday night I cooked up 5 nice elk steaks and some baked potatoes.  We had 2 of the steaks, along with some of the potatoes and a nice salad for dinner.  I used the other steaks as part of meals later as the week went on.
~Sunday I was in need of some comfort food since I was having a really bad CFS flare and crash.  I made some quick homemade mac and cheese that hit the spot.

~Monday I made some homemade syrup, a pasta salad, and some English Muffin Bread to use throughout the week, and in the case of the syrup, beyond.
~My breadmaker decided that it would mix the dough but not cook the bread.  I took the dough out and finished cooking it in the oven.  I do have a back up breadmaker somewhere in this house.  I'll have to find it.
~I made Lo Mein with one of the leftover elk steaks, some veggies and some garden delight noodles.
~While Jeff was cleaning out the closet, he found one of my large but shorter woven baskets.  It works perfectly as a laundry basket for our bathroom because it slips under the shelves and out of the way.
~Since I have found that I only need half a sheet of fabric softener sheets per load, I cut all the sheets in half to use.

~We are back to using the big heavy duty plastic bags that our pellets come in as garbage bags.  They work great and don't break open.
~I pulled 2 weekend newspapers out of the recycling bin at the post office so I could get the coupon inserts.  I also get 2 free papers this way to read and later to use for cleaning.
~I usually stop by the thrift store after I work in Tuesdays but decided to just skip it and come straight home and have some leftovers for lunch.  It's not like I needed anything there and since we are trying to save money and not eat out as much I behaved 😉
~After I pour myself a cup of morning coffee I put the rest in a thermal carafe. It keeps it hot for hours so if I want another cup later, I can have a nice hot cup and it is still pretty warm by the time my hubby gets up so he does not have to zap it in the microwave as long.

~I dug out some glass containers with locking airtight lids that I bought on clearance 2 Christmas' ago and used one of them to put the dried powdered milk in that I picked up for making English Muffin Bread.
~Jeff replaced the filter on our PUR water filter that fits right on the kitchen faucet.  I am now back to drinking more water because it tastes good again.
~I signed up for a bunch of freebies this week including dog treats, pain relief patched, vitamins, food products and lotions.
~Menu planning is once again going on in this house.  I'm trying to do it on Saturdays so that my hubby and I can do it together.  I am being flexible realizing that there may be days when we don't want what is planned for that day, so we can substitute something else in or just switch days around.

~I took advantage of an offer I got in the mail for  It is a company that sells pet supplies online.  They had a $15 off you order code.  I looked through the site and they have the expensive cat food that Doofy needs for a few dollars less that we get it for here.  They also offered free shipping if you order is over $49.  I needed more kitty litter so I searched their site and found a great deal on a 40 pound bag of unscented kitty litter for  $9.92.  I placed an order for 2 bags of the cat food and 1 bag of the kitty litter.  I got the $15 discount plus free shipping.  They will deliver it right to my door so that saves me on gas money too!
~Tuesday night I made a big pot of veggie and potato chowder for dinner and served it with homemade garlic and cheese biscuits.  Yet another man pleasing and filling meal for very little money.
~I was super sore Tuesday after working in the morning with the little kids so Jeff and I hot tubbed and I also took some ibuprofen.  It was much needed.
~Wednesday I made 2 loaves of Whole Wheat Oatmeal bread.

~My grandson Bradley recently took a bad fall and got a concussion.  His doctor wants him to stay calm and not "get wild".  Trying to get a 4 year old boy to not run around is like trying to nail jello to a wall.  His mommy had to work at the daycare this afternoon and trying to stay calm when there are all those kids to play with would have been torture for him.  He came to spend the afternoon with me instead.  We put together the puzzles I got at the thrift store, made really cool laser guns out of egg cartons (to fight off the droids that we coming to get us...he is on a Star Wars kick right now 😉), watched 1 episode of "Autobot"s on Netflix and had lots of cuddle time.
~We did our volunteer work today and came home with 2 cases, yes cases of chicken fried steaks (we had enough to give out complete cases to 50+ families who wanted them, boxes of apples and pears, bags of potatoes and onions, eggs, breads, bagels, donuts, pasta, canned goods, lamb chops, juices, milk, and snack items.  I would say that retail value this time was over $200.  Seriously!  I had to get our high school football player neighbor to bring in some of the boxes for me and sent him home with as many pears as he wanted.  I will be sharing the wealth with friends and family because all this is way too much for just Jeff and I. Oh, this is random but one of the ladies that also volunteers with the program brought in some coloring books to give away.  I picked out an Autobot one for my grandsons to share. :)

~I was so sore Thursday after helping with the food distribution for 6 hours that I came home, ate leftovers for dinner and then took some ibuprofen and soaked in the hot tub hoping to ease the swelling in my lower back and pain in my neck so I could sleep.
~Some of my free magazines came in the mail.
~We borrowed the movie "Sully" from the library.
~Friday I stayed home.  I was really tired and still sore so I made it a jammie kind of day. :)  I didn't even cook.  We had plenty of leftovers to use up so that made for very easy meals.


   So as you can see, there have been a lot of savings this week.  I was able to cross everything but 1 item off my grocery list after all the blessings we got while volunteering.  We had been eating down the contents of the freezers and now they are full again.  I had to laugh when Mason, our neighbor who helped carry in the heavy boxes of fruit for me, looked around my front bedroom that I turned into a pantry and said I had an entire store in there.   He is right!  He now knows where to come if he needs anything. ;)  I love that wonderful young man and I will miss him as he heads off to college next year.  Here's to a great and restful weekend for us all.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

When Your Conscience and Thrifting Collide

    Yesterday I was deeply sadden and surprised to find out that a "faith based" thrift store that I have shopped at over the years proudly stated on their Facebook page that they financially support the local Planned Parenthood in the town where they are located.  My heart dropped and I decided to do some checking to see if this Planned Parenthood offered any kind of prenatal care or if they, in my mind, did the unthinkable and ended a child's life.

   I went to the local PP website and found that they do not offer prenatal care or mammograms (as are commonly claimed "services" used by groups who support PP) but they do perform abortions in house or will refer you to another provider who will if it's something like an ectopic pregnancy.  To their credit, they do offer Pap tests, cervical cancer screening, STD testing and treatment, birth control and a few other services.  While some may argue that this is a good cause, I cannot support it and wonder how a faith based thrift store located in a church can either.  We do have a wonderful place called WISH Medical that is faith based and offers all of the things above except abortion services.  They will give you all the facts, do an ultrasound so you understand what is going on if you find yourself pregnant and then offer options like support if you choose to become a parent, adoption support if you are not ready to be a parent but want your baby to have a chance at a good life and have your baby placed in a loving home. If choose to abort, they will advise you of the physical and emotional risks to you but remain compassionate and non judgemental.  They also offer support for those who have had abortions and are suffering from the guilt and shame of having done so.  One of my friends, who has sadly gone down that road herself in the past and knows first hand all the shame, guilt and pain associated with it, is one of their counselors for that particular program and is very compassionate, loving and helps women heal from those experiences.  I honestly cannot fathom why this faith based thrift store would support PP and not WISH Medical given that WISH supports women and their babies not only with medical treatment and prenatal care, but also helps provide them with parenting classes, cribs, clothing for their baby and other support services.

   I will tell you that I went to bed with a very heavy heart and even though I was exhausted, I tossed and turned for hours.  I had made the decision as soon as I gathered all the facts to NOT shop at that thrift store again.  It breaks my heart to know that every time I even drive by PP, I know that a baby's life may be being ending right then.  My heart also aches for those women who make that choice and later come to realize the truth of what they have done.  I myself have had 2 unplanned pregnancies, one sadly ended in a miscarriage (this was when I was 20 and my husband and I were not yet married) and the second is when I got pregnant with our twins while on two forms of birth control, both of which failed. I never once considered abortion and neither did my husband. We both value life and knew that even before we were married, that we would have and love our child.  We have offered to take in pregnant teen moms and family members and support them through their pregnancies and if they chose not to keep their babies, adopt, raise and love their children as our own, even when we had a 22 month old and newborn twins ourselves.  Sadly all those people made the choice, whether it be from pressure from other family members or to "not be bothered with a child", to end that child's life.   I also am so thankful that I am still here and that abortion was not legal when my mother got pregnant with me but I also have survivor's guilt for another precious child who was not as lucky.  I know for a fact that IF abortion had been legal when I was conceived, that I would not be here today and that has left a huge scar on my heart.  As a parent myself, I cannot even imagine not having my amazing children, each is a gift from God.  Our twins' pregnancy may not have been planned by us, but God knew what He was doing when He blessed us with them and we are so humbled and grateful for his wisdom in giving us all three of our sons.

   I honestly feel like I was deceived by this particular thrift store by their claim of being a Christian faith based nonprofit that helps women and children.  How is helping to fund the killing of innocent children in any way "helping" them?   I will no longer shop there and I will also be letting my family and friends know where the profits of this store are going.   



Wednesday, January 25, 2017

My Banana Bread


   Mrs. Chrissy T asked me to share my recipe for our favorite banana bread.  Here is the one that I have been making for years.  I get requests for it and it is a best seller at church bazaars.  I hope you enjoy it!

Banana Bread

1/2 c. margarine or butter
1 c. sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 3/4 cups sifted all purpose flour (I use half white and half whole wheat)
1/2 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. vanilla
1/4 t. cinnamon
2-3 mashed bananas

Beat the margarine or butter until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat until think. Sift in dry ingredients and mix. Add bananas and continue to mix. Fill a greased large loaf pan and bake at 350 F for one hour or until bread tests done. 

Makes one loaf.

Savings by the Numbers


   This morning, while I was making 2 loaves of Whole Wheat and Oatmeal Bread, I thought about how much money it was saving me, not to mention the health benefits of not having all those nasty preservatives, to make it here at home as opposed to buying it from the grocery store.  Conservatively speaking, it would cost me $7 or more for 2 loaves of bread of this kind if I went out and bought it. Making it here at home costs me about $1 tops to make 2 loaves.  We buy our flour in bulk, I buy the large bags of yeast at Winco or Costco, the quick oats is free since we get it as part of our volunteer work and the rest of the ingredients cost pennies.  That got me to thinking about some of the other things that I have made or done recently that save us money.

~Cutting the fabric softener sheet in half may only save me $1 since I buy them at the Dollar Tree, but every penny counts.
~I made Lo Mein for dinner the other night.  If I had bought it at one of our favorite Chinese places it would have cost me $12.95.  Making it at home cost me about $2 since the meat for it was free from our son Chris.
~Banana Bread is a favorite around here.  It cost me about $3 to make 3 loaves.  Each loaf at the grocery store costs about $4 or more.  Minimum savings here is $9.
~English Muffin Bread costs about $3 a loaf at the store, I can make it here at home for about .50 a loaf.   Savings $2.50.
~During the warmer months I hang our laundry out to dry.  This reduces our electric bill by $13.00 a month.
~I make our own laundry detergent for the most part.  It cost me just $6 to make a 3 month supply.
~Going to see a movie in the theater is a special treat.  When we do go, we hit the matinee but that still costs us $17.75 in tickets alone and if we want popcorn and a drink, add another $12.00 to that.  We can watch movies for free here at home by streaming them through Netflix or borrowing them from the library.  I pop a big bowl of popcorn and I can even have a glass of wine with it.  Bonus! Cost for watching at home is about $1.40 including the popcorn, a glass of wine and some Mountain Dew for my hubby! 
~Each month we do some volunteer work and are given a large box of grocery items for free.  The retail value of those boxes ranges from $40-$80 depending on what is available that month.  Last month we were given 4 meat choices.  The meat ranged from chicken to steaks, to roasts and even Portuguese Sausage.  Jeff and I picked the Portuguese Sausages and got 4 of them.  This is a rare item to find and one that is really expensive in the stores.  It is also one of the treat items that we seldom buy due to cost.  Portuguese Sausage is something that takes me back to my childhood growing up in Hawaii. 😊
~We keep a running grocery list and combine errands whenever possible.  Since we live out in a small farming community with no grocery store, doctor or pharmacy every time we need to go to one of these places it costs us in gas and time.  Since it is a 60 mile round trip to go to any of these place, that is a lot of gas money.  I figured that I save at least 2 trips per week by combining errands, having my lists so I don't have to make multiple trips for things that I have forgotten, etc..
~I don't buy a weekend newspaper.  I instead get them from the recycling bin at the post office.  Since I get an average of 2 newspapers that cost $2.50 and $1.75 each, that saves me $4.25.  I get further savings buy using the coupons in the newspaper to bring down the costs of my groceries when I use them.
~I will be doing our taxes here at home next week.  Our taxes are pretty straight forward so they are easy to do since we do not itemize and just take the standard deduction. I am able to use the free e-file and go through Tax Act.  Last year they charged my son $69 to do a simple filing.  I refuse to pay that!  That is money that I can use.

   Those are just a few examples of how quickly your savings can add up.  Most of the things I do take very little time.  If I had to drive to town to purchase breads and things it would take me 1 1/2 hours, the cost of the gas and the price above what I can make it for here at home.  I'd much rather save the time and money.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Easy Lo Mein Using Leftover Steak

   I love cooking steaks or chicken and then using the leftovers (or planned overs in this case) for other dishes.  Saturday night I cooked up 5 marinated elk steaks.  Jeff and I each had one for dinner along that night and I set aside the other 3 for future meals.  Tonight I took one of those steaks and made Lo Mein with it.  I boiled up about half a package of Garden Delight spaghetti noodles and while those were working, I prepped all my veggies and meat.  

   I used half an onion, 1 large carrot, 1 stalk of celery, 1 large leaf of cabbage and one of the steaks.  I cut these all up into thin slices.  I then quickly stir fried the veggies, adding the carrots and celery first, a few minutes late added the onions and then added the cabbage, steak, and some minced garlic.  I made a quick sauce with some water, a little sugar and some Oyster Sauce and added it to the pan then added the cooked noodles, stirred everything together and let that cook for about a minute so the sauce would soak into and coat the noodles.  It was really good, fast, frugal and easy and totally satisfied my craving for Chinese food.   

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Frugal Friday Wrap Up 1/14-1/20 2017



What a week.  For the most part I was a hermit and stayed home and away from people while waiting for my colonoscopy procedure on Friday.  Can I offer a little tip to anyone who has to get one of these things soon?  If you are doing the Suprep to clean out your system, drink it through a straw.  It still is nasty, but it goes down easier that way, at least it did for me.  Plan on also not going anywhere as you will need to be very close to a bathroom for hours upon hours.  NOT fun!  So glad that everything turned out well and I do not have to do this again for another 10 years.  My doctor and nurses were all great and I did enjoy my short nap. 😉 Onto the savings for this week...

~I cashed in for a 2 year free subscription to Country Living via Recyclebank.
~Coupons came in the mail for free products.
~We did go out to eat on Saturday, but we went during off hours and got the lunch specials. We also went to a family run place so there were not college students working there who might have the flu.  There were very few people there and we sat away from the few other customers that were there.
~Monday I made 2 loaves of bread. I also made a huge ziti and cheese casserole in the crockpot.

~We have been exploring more channels on our Roku and found some from Hawaii.  It was wonderful being able to see my childhood home coastline while doing some whale watching. :)
~Jeff was able to find and fix our frozen waterline problem to our master bathroom.  Some animals had gotten up under the house and ripped out the insulation around all the pipes.  He thawed the pipes and then re insulated the entire area.   Luckily we had some insulation in the garage that he was able to use. He originally thought it might be a problem with the faucet itself and bought a new one to replace it.  He will be returning that for a refund at the store since he did not need to use it after all.  We will get a refund of $70.  Woohoo!

~Jeff picked up some cheese that was on sale for $3.99 for 32 oz. and more seltzer water for me at 5 for $10 while he was in town running some other errands.  We are stocked up again on these items.  The seltzer water helps perk me up when my Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia are flaring.
~One of our surge protector power strips stopped working.  It is one that we use all the time. Jeff simply took another one from an area that we rarely use and replaced the broken one with it.  Eventually, when I find a good sale, I will pick up another one to have here, but for now, this works out just fine.
~We used up the 3 bags of salad mix before they went bad.  It tasted so good to have salad in the middle of Winter.  I miss being able to go and pick fresh lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, green onions and other wonderful things and throw them all into a large salad.

~I dusted off some money saving books from my personal library and am rereading them again.  It is good to go back and be inspired to do even more.
~Swagbucks had again been hit or miss for earning points.  This is typical for the start of a new year with them though.  It should pick up again soon.
~Did some survey that I will be compensated for at Pinecone Research.
~My son Chris will be very happy!  I managed to snag a free subscription to Bowhunting magazine for him.

~Wednesday night I made breakfast for dinner again...bacon, homemade cornmeal pancakes and homemade syrups with coffee.  I made lots of pancakes so we could have some later too.
~My skin has been really dry lately so I dug out some of my free samples from Walmart Beauty boxes and have been using the Aveeno butter...I love this stuff!
~Jeff, knowing that Thursday and Friday would be rough days for me since I had to do the prep for my colonoscopy and have the actual procedure on Friday afternoon busted out the good Kona Coffee for me to have on Thursday morning.  Since I could not have my beloved creamer he spoiled me with the good stuff! ;)

~Friday, after my colonoscopy, much to the surprise of the nurses, I was feeling well enough to go out and do some shopping.  We got some groceries and then hit Goodwill.  We found some robes for $1.99 each for the little boys to use here when they hot tub, a enamelware large coffee pot for $7.99 to use for camping (I think we will give this to Chris and Heather since they do most of the camping and he had mentioned wanting one), some of my daily moisturizing lotion for $1.99 brand new (retails for $14.99), a full sized Bath and Body Works spray for $1.99 and a brand new in the box heater that has an auto shut off for $9.97 (retail $34.99).

    Having to be a hermit for most of the week saved us a lot of money since it kept me at home so little gas used in my car and not much shopping done.  The groceries we bought at the end of the week were all items that we needed and most of it was fresh produce.  We are really trying to eat healthier around here and yes, fresh produce costs a bit more, but it is worth it to us.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Frugal Friday Wrap Up 1/7-1/13 2017


    This post will be very short on pictures because I honestly forgot to take most of them.  I already shared in a previous post pictures of our neighbors and my hubby out dealing with the snow.  I don't think anyone is really wanting to see a picture of the Suprep (for my much dreaded colonoscopy next week) that I ended up getting free after a billing mistake at Walmart.  I know I wouldn't. 😉 And lastly, those cookies were gone before it crossed my mind to take a picture of them.  Don't judge! 😁 Just for good measure, I did throw in a picture of Doofy cat in one of his strange sitting positions just because he is so cute!
Onto the frugal doings for this week.  

~We had a mini marathon of watching episodes of "The Flash" on Netflix Saturday and Sunday nights.
~My cousin Jeremy and his puppy Maggie came over for a doggie playdate with Caesar.  Those dogs played so much that they wore each other out!  I made some cream cheese and crab wontons for us to snack on.  We sent a huge box of Milk Bones dog treats home with Maggie since I had found a sale on them for $1 a box awhile back and had a nice supply of them here. We also sent home a classic Peter Seller's movie that we had a duplicate of with him.  It made for a fun afternoon for all of us!
~Jeff let me sleep in on Sunday morning while he took care of the fur babies.  He found a movie on Netflix to watch and looked around at some of the other channels we have through our Roku.  He discovered a channel where we can watch all the episodes of Fixer Upper since Netflix only has season 1 and 2.  They also have all the seasons of Big Bang Theory which we are way behind on.  Free to watch also so that is a huge bonus!
~For lunch Sunday I was digging around in the freezer and found a smoked trout that Uncle Bob gave us.  I toasted some English Muffins, spread some cream cheese on them and then flaked some of the smoked trout on top.  Yummers!
~Dinner on Sunday was another one of my bake it all on a cookie sheet meal using some Sweet Italian Sausage (yes we love these) and both white and sweet potatoes that needed to be used up.

~My husband belongs to a bowling league and one of his bowling balls needed some work done on it.  He cleaned, resurfaced and sanded out the finger holes himself saving us at least $100.
~More loaves of bread were made this week.
~I did lots of back to back baking making use of the heat of the oven.
~I limited my trips in my car to one time out this week.
~At the beginning of the week I cooked a large pot of brown rice knowing I would be needing some for a few meals this week.  It keeps really well in the refrigerator and is very versatile.
~Lunches this week were mainly leftovers or sandwiches.  Hey, it works for me. 👍
~We live in a wonderful community.  When my hubby was out trying to help one of our high school neighbors dig his truck out of the snow so he could get to school, another neighbor from down the street came by on his tractor.  He not only plowed out the truck, but also did the driveway, our driveway and Uncle Bob's driveway since the snow had gotten much to heavy for Uncle Bob's snow blade on his 4 wheeler.
~The library just got in some more new movies that came out on DVD so I put in requests for "Sully" and for "The Magnificent Seven".  We also borrowed two other movies this week.

~Doofy cat got to watch more of his Kitty TV on Youtube.  It really keeps him occupied and out of trouble.  We did have an incident over the weekend however that a little bird that looks like the ones he watches on Kitty TV got trapped on our back screened in porch.  You should have heard Doofy carrying on and scratching to get out to it.  It just shows me that he knows the difference between the birdies on TV and in real life.  Hey if I can get an hour of him not sprinting up and down the halls or jumping up and scratching on things he is not supposed to, I'm going to take it.  I still say it's a good thing he is cute!😺
~Walmart called to tell me I had a prescription ready and that I owed $97.  Uh no!  I called them back and it turns out they do not have my insurance on file even though I have given it to them 3 different times now.  After running the info, I now have a $0 copay.  Yay!  Three minutes of my time saved me $97.00.
~Wednesday night I pulled some reduced by 75% off tamales out of the freezer and zapped those for dinner.  They were quick, easy and delicious!
~Groceries picked up this week were 3 bags of salad mix in sale, 2 bunches of bananas, 3 avocados and a gallon of milk.  I wanted to get some apples for my hubby to take as part of his dinners, but he said he did not want any.  I'm going to leave the bananas for him and concentrate on eating the mandarins that I already have on hand since he does not like those.
~I went through the pantry to see what we had that I can eat on my prep day next week since I can only have clear liquids and nothing red or purple colored. I found some apple cider and grapefruit juice that I will have to strain the pulp out of.  I can also have jello, so I checked my supply of that.  I do have bullion and broths that I can also have. Of course I have a huge supply of teas and lots of coffee too.  I don't think I will need to buy anything extra.

~I had wine and popcorn for dinner one night this week when Jeff was not home.  I needed comfort food after a stressful day.
~Jeff is having to do an additional out of the way run for work one night this week and he will be compensated for it.  It's nice because that will cover his bowling for next week plus a little extra.
~Everyone needs a treat and my hubby sure deserved one after all the long hours he is putting in at work in addition to helping Jaysn, Rachel and myself out this week.  I found some marked down chocolate chunk cookie dough in the freezer and got that baked up for him.  I will admit, I ate more than I should have also. ;)  He was a very happy guy when he woke up to fresh warm cookies. 👍

~One of my favorite things is having breakfast for dinner.  Friday night we had bacon, homemade pancakes, and a choice of homemade maple or raspberry syrup.  YUM!
~I watched several Youtube tutorials on making some artisan breads.
~I dug down deep into our big chest freezer and found a package of chicken breasts.  They will be be made into more comfort food over the weekend.
~There was just a smidgen of shampoo left in the bottle so I added some water to it.  We now have another shampooing session with that.

    So there it is.  Nothing earth shattering or life changing this week.  We are sticking to our plan to mainly eat out of the pantry, fridge and freezer.  We are not eating out for both financial and health reasons.  Too many people are sick and still preparing food at restaurants right now.  Not worth risking it even if we could afford it.  I'm watching thrifting videos on Youtube to take care of my thrift shopping addiction.  Honestly, it is the thrill of finding amazing things that I love and I have been able to "shop" vicariously through some of my favorite Youtubers.  Be blessed!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Becoming a Hermit

  Flu season is about to reach it's peak here.  The hospitals in Spokane (just north of us) expect it to reach pandemic levels by next week since all the college students have returned from vacation this week to resume classes.  They have been tracking "the wave" of cases move across our state from the Seattle area over to the East side where I live.  They are already turning children 12 and under away from being able to visit loved ones in the hospitals up there as a safety precaution because so many people are being hospitalized or going to the emergency room with flu symptoms. This flu season has already proven to be really bad and even deadly in some cases.  The people that I know that have gotten the flu so far have had their flu shots and it did nothing to protect them.

   I am one of those people that cannot get the shot anyway.  I had a horrible reaction to it and was told NEVER to get one again.  I am also someone with not one, not two, but three different autoimmune diseases that we currently know of.  Yes, I am a mess!  Today I have to venture out to the hospital for a pre-op appointment for a colonoscopy next week.  Oh joy! NOT!  I'm thinking I may just wear one of the masks while I am there.  If I get sick I then have to put off having this "roto-rooter" procedure for another 2 months (that is how long it will be until I can get another appointment).  Even though it is just a routine screening, I don't want to have to put it off.  I already had to wait over a month to get this appointment.  So I am becoming a hermit.

   In the past, I was told by one of my doctors that I had to stay away from people so I could limit my exposure to any viruses if I had any medical procedures coming up.  My friend, who works at a hospital in Spokane, also told me to avoid being around people and to stock up on anything I might need today and then stay put at home until after this procedure is over and done with.  I already emailed and cancelled working with the preschoolers next week because I catch everything they have.  I hated having to do that because I love being with them but I am almost always sick within 2-3 days after working with any of them that is sick.  I should be able to return the following week though.

   So today is the day for stopping by the store and picking up a few things after my appointment.  I need milk and some fresh fruits and veggies.  I'll make it a quick trip in and out.  That should be it for another week or two.  I am once again thankful for a full pantry, freezer and refrigerator and thankful for my friend who warned me about how bad things were getting this flu season.

Snow and Small Town Blessings

I love living in our small town.  The other day our neighbor Mason, from across the street, was trying to dig his truck out of the snow so he could get to school.  He was already running late so my hubby went over to help dig him out.  Uncle Bob, who was on his 4 wheeler, was trying to help too but the snow was really heavy.  Along came another neighbor on his tractor and he not only dug Mason out, but then did our driveway and Uncle Bob's.  He moved huge amounts of snow out of the way for us all and then went on his way to help other people in town.  This is one of the many things that I appreciate so much about small town life.  Neighbors help neighbors and watch out for one another.  Yet another blessing of living in a small town.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Ninja Skills (as my youngest grandson Isaiah would say) Frugality

Bread dough rising on the pellet stove.

   Jeff and I had a long talk this morning about our finances this month due to the unexpected Emergency Room bill from the  hospital that finally showed up here 9 months after the services rendered and after we had been asking about where it was for months.  They demanded payment upon receipt.  We also had to buy another ton of pellets since we were down to 6 bags and that is what we use in our pellet stove to heat our home.  We had budgeted for the pellets but not for the bill from the hospital which was higher than we had originally been told because someone fell down on the job and did not bill out for professional services or something like that in a timely manner and apparently just found those charges and sent them to the insurance company months and months after the fact.  Personally I think someone should lose their job! 😡

   Anyway, those 2 expenses alone took up most of the money that we have left after paying our monthly bills.  Time to use my mad ninja frugal moves for this month!  I am pretty frugal for the most part, but we do still go out to eat, have fun shopping at thrift stores, and maybe go out to see a movie.  Not this month!  This month we stick to a bare bones budget and cut spending down to a minimum.  You can't spend what you don't have and we need to avoid using the credit card.  So here is what we are doing.

   We contacted our Credit Union and did their skip a payment service on the credit card for this month.  We did incur a $15 fee but it could not be helped.  Our bills had already been high this month with taxes due on a loan we had to take out on my life insurance policy several years ago for a horribly painful and scary breast biopsy that I had to have done.  By being able to skip credit card payment and taking some money out of our savings, we were able to pay the Emergency Room bill that just arrived.

   Our grocery budget has been slashed dramatically this month.  I have 2 grocery lists going.  One for the things that we absolutely need and another for things that I need to restock but that can wait until we have more disposable income. Things on the needs list are milk, cheese, fresh fruit, and veggies. Things on the restock list are liquid smoke (I just used the last of it), certain spices, etc. and can all wait awhile to be restocked. We are also shopping our pantry, fridge and freezer.  I have been making our bread and looking for new recipes for things like English Muffins, which we really enjoy, that I can make at home.  Back to back baking sessions will be used so that I don't waste the heat of the oven. I went through a local Hawaiian cookbook that I bought at a local thrift store a couple of months ago and an finding lots and lots of recipes that I grew up eating.  Many of these recipes use things from your pantry that have long shelf lives because almost everything has to be shipped in by huge boats.  I have most of these things on hand because my pantry is well stocked with these items.  I grew up with a mother who knew the value of a well stocked pantry since a storm, longshoremen's strike or damage to a harbor could delay shipments getting to the stores. I will never forget the toilet paper shortage, along with other needed items like milk, that happened when the boats could not get to us in Hawaii and the stores had no backstock.  I now have a stockpile at home of toilet paper because I know what it is like to go without...not fun!  We are using all the fresh produce and things with a close experation date first and then going to canned and frozen produce.  Luckily I took having a well stocked pantry to a much higher level than my mother ever imagined so we are set for months!

   We have at least a year's supply of  shampoo, conditioner, body wash, liquid dishwashing and hand soaps on hand.  We also are well supplied with OTC medications, antiperspirants, feminine hygiene items,  toothpaste and just restocked our vitamins and supplements, so we will not have to worry about those for awhile. I made at least a 3 month supply of laundry detergent so that is taken care of as well.  I also just used a Walmart gift card that I earned through Swagbucks to buy a huge bag of dog food for Caesar that should last us through the month and I have enough of Doofy's expensive cat food to last the month.

   Entertainment this month will be borrowing movies and books from the library and watching lots of movies and shows through our Roku that we bought for $25 as a Christmas gift to each other.  That was money well spent since we do not have cable or satellite anymore.  We also will be getting together with family and friends either here or at their homes and sharing meals and lots of laughter. If we go out to eat, we will be using gift cards given to us for Christmas.  More board and card games will be dug out and played near the warmth of the pellet stove.  I plan on reading some of the books that I have here in my own personal library that I have meant to get to but have not yet.  Of course we will continue to use our hot tub which is a luxury that we love but keep it on economy mode when not being used.

   I will be limiting my using of my car as much as I can.  I do have work 3 times this month as well as a doctor's appointment and a medical procedure that needs to be done so the plan is to combine those with any other errands I may have.  I'm sure we will be going to see the grandkids and can use my hubby's little commuter car to do that if the roads are good.  My car has 4 wheel drive where my hubby's little car is only front wheel drive.

   Since my husband works nights and sleeps during the day, I will keep the thermostat down on the heat as much as I can and dress in layers.  I never thought I would be thankful for hot flashes, but I must admit that it does help to have my own "internal thermostat" turned way up this time of year. 😉  We dress in layers, wear warm socks and house slippers in the house and also snuggle up under cozy quilts and throws.  I make good use of the curtains to hold heat in and open them to let the sun in to warm the home during the day and I close doors to rooms that we do not use.  He does bump the heat up when he is up and about, but I can handle it a little cooler when he is not.

   So that is the plan for this month's Frugal Ninja Skills test.  Hopefully we will not be thrown any more financial challenges this month.  I think our plate is full enough already.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Cold Frugal Friday Wrap Up 12/31/16 - 1/6/17

Baby it's cold outside!

   Oh what a week this has been!  We finally got the bill from the hospital when my husband had to go to the emergency room back in March of 2016.  Our insurance company paid their portion of it back in April and sent us the statement of what our portion was.  We waited for the hospital to send us a bill...none came.  We called about it and were told they were processing it.  Still nothing.  In October my husband went in to the hospital to ask about it but the person in billing was out so they left a sticky note on their computer to get back to us...nothing.  Guess what just showed up in the mail with a "pay upon receipt" notice.  Yep.  There went over $400 in one shot that was not in our budget.  The savings account took another hit on that one to make up the difference.  That left us with about $60 until my hubby gets paid mid month and I have a doctor's appointment with a copay of $45 next week.  Oh joy!  NOT!  Luckily my husband still had $20 to use for his bowling league fees this week and between the $6 left after that along with another $8 for next week's fees we will barely squeak by. We had planned on being able to buy more pellets for our pellet stove but after paying the hospital bill, did not have the money for that.  Luckily my husband's boss, who we buy the pellets from, let us get the pellets now so we don't run out and Jeff will pay him out of his middle of the month check.  We are very blessed by the company he works for!  Thank goodness we have a full pantry, refrigerator and freezer and a big supply of toilet paper on hand. 😉  That certainly helps keep the stress level way down.

~Winco had their Christmas themed Ziplock bags marked down to $1 a box and Pumpkin Bread mix marked down to .98 a box.  I bought several of both to help stock the pantry.
~Jeff and I rang in the New Year by hot tubbing and watching a movie on Netflix while we snacked on crackers, cheese and beef sausage.  Nice, low key, and just the way we like it.
~We found more treasures at the thrift store including lots of marked down down clothing for the new baby, Jeff, and myself.  I also found a really cute purse, a Brighton wallet, some more dvds for Bradley and Isaiah, and lots of Christmas gift bags for next year.  Jeff found a Rap Raplinger CD for me.  Rap is a local comedian from Hawaii that I grew up listening to and watching his shows.  :)

A small purse that has a removable strap so it can be a clutch and a Brighton clutch that I thrifted.

~I fixed and cleaned some wallets and handbags this week.  It did not take long at all and they look really nice.
~Sunday, Jeff and I gave each other haircuts, I trimmed the dog's claws and we did some cleaning around the house before settling in to relax.
~Kalua Pig is a favorite around here so I made a double batch so we could have some to start the new year ( a tradition) and I could freeze some for later.  I never did get any frozen because we had it for 3 more meals.  Oh well...that just shows you how good it was! ;) The pork loin roasts cost me under $4 for both!  When I added in the other items that I used for each meal it came to about $1.20 per meal for 2 people.
~My husband was writing out the checks to pay our bills and realized that he needed another check register.  Since we did not have any more that came with our checks, I quickly printed some free ones off the internet.
~I cashed in for a $25 Walmart gift card via Swagbucks at the reduced 2,200 points price.

Chicken and Orzo soup in the making.

~Monday found me in the kitchen making chicken salad for sandwiches and chicken noodle soup with the leftover rotisserie chicken.
~Jeff and I enjoyed playing Scrabble by the warmth of the fire.
~Lots of delicious leftovers were eaten this week.  It saves me time and money to cook larger amounts of food and enjoy them or even freeze them for other meals.
~We borrowed several books and movies from the library this week.  We finally got to see the new "Pete's Dragon" and "Finding Dory".

Movies and books borrowed from the library.

~I made another batch of homemade croutons with some of the leftover bread that was starting to go stale.
~Our pellet stove is great for putting out heat.  We use the heat from it to dry out our wet shoes and coats.  We simply place them near the pellet stove.  I also use the heat from it to help my bread dough rise.
~I got a free subscription to Sports Illustrated for my hubby and a Outdoor Photography subscription for my son Chris.
~We were running low on Garlic salt so I mixed up some more using salt and garlic powder that I always have on hand.

Homemade croutons to be used in salads and as toppers for soup.

~My hubby borrowed our son Chris' truck to haul home a ton of pellets for our pellet stove since it is our only source of heat and we were starting to run low.  We have lots of snow moving back in over the weekend and are having an arctic blast right now so we are going through the pellets more quickly than my hubby had planned for.
~Jeff used the $25 Walmart gift card that I got through Swagbucks to buy a huge bag of dog food for Caesar.  Jeff and I got to thinking about it and we have only paid for Caesar's food out of pocket 3 times in all the years we have had him.  The rest of the time I have used Walmart gift cards that I earn through Swagbucks to pay for his food.
~I hauled a quilt out onto the couch to cuddle up under since our temps are now going down into the negatives and the pellet stove is our only source of heat for the whole house.

Doofy cat making himself all comfy and warm in the quilt I threw on the couch.

~Our wonderful neighbor gave use some firebricks for Jaysn and Rachel's woodstove since their heat exchange unit went out on them.  This way they can keep their home warm without having to use lots of small space heaters.
~Jeff had some money put on his bowling alley loyalty card as a "thank you" for being a good customer.  He used some of that to buy dinner for himself at his Thursday night bowling league since he had to leave here early to run some things out to Jaysn and pick up some things at Walmart before league.
~Thursday night I made a "snack plate" with cheese, beef stick and mandarins for dinner for myself since Jeff was at bowling league.

"Snacks" for dinner.

~Jeff stopped in at the grocery store in the town where our Chris and Heather and the grandboys live when he was picking up their truck.  He got a package of salad and some salad dressing, both were on sale and needed items.  He paid under $2 total for both items!
~I pulled some of the leftover elk roast out of the freezer and made some mashed potatoes, gravy and green beans to go with it for dinner on Friday night.
~We had some gravy and roast leftover from Friday's dinner so I cut the roast up and combined it with the gravy to serve over rice on Sunday.
~I stayed home Sunday-Friday this week.  That saved not only gas money but also kept me out of the stores. ;)

More clothing for Steven and a shirt for Bradley and Isaiah to share.  We had to get camo stuff for Steven so he could match his camo crazy bigger cousins. ;)  All of these items were either .10 or  .24 each on clearance racks at 2 different thrift stores.

~We have tried to eat mostly out of the pantry, fridge and freezer for the most part this week.  I am trying really hard to save all the money we can right now and cut our spending drastically.
~I continue to work on my different points programs.
~We are loving the Roku we bought on sale at Christmas.  It has allowed us to stream Netflix, Youtube and some other channels like PBS, news and weather.  I can put on Doofy's favorite kitty tv videos from Youtube on the big TV and that calms him down so he is not sprinting around the house and knocking things over during the day when Jeff is trying to sleep.

   I hope to continue to keep our variable expenses way down this month by continuing to not have to pick up much from the grocery store.  I also need to stay out of the thrift stores...something that is going to be very difficult for me because my car just seems to be on auto pilot when I am in town and goes there without my even thinking about it. 😏 Yep, that is my story and I am sticking to it.  LOL!