Thursday, February 28, 2019

Lovely Surprises, Snow, Staying Put and Catching Up

   Time for a catch up post.  I have wanted to write a post for a few weeks now but kept being sidetracked and/or was in a crash/flare and did not have the energy to do so.  Such is life with me at the moment. 😉

   Last week I was so surprised and blessed to receive a box in the mail from someone who did not put a return address, name or anything on the box.  Inside it held a beautiful sconce for candles, a really pretty hook for hanging something from and a gorgeous bracelet.  I have been trying to find out who sent it and so far no luck.  I really want to thank them for thinking of me and blessing me.  It touched my heart so deeply.  If it was one of you that reads my blog, please let me know and thank you from the bottom of my heart!

   We have been hit with wave after wave of snowstorms and frigid temperatures.  The roads around us have been drifting badly and have been closed at various times.  Some of the schools have had to close, county offices have shut down, appointments have been cancelled, people have been snowed in and there have been multiple car accidents, including fatalities in our area.  Jeff's work even had him stay home one night and I am wishing they would have also called off last night as the roads were treacherous and the county sheriff along with the DOT was asking people to stay off the roads.  Poor guy had a heck of a night and then came home to have his car spin out on front of our driveway.  Luckily a neighbor came and helped him get the car into our very slick driveway and out of the road.  Jeff sprained his wrist at work so having to push the car by himself would have been nearly impossible.  I am so grateful to have neighbors that pitch in and look out for one another.

   I have been staying home for the most part unless I have to go to an appointment (and yes, I have cancelled them on bad days) or we have a break in the bad weather and I can get out to do some grocery shopping for essentials.  I also spent an afternoon/evening with Steven while his parents had an appointment to get their taxes done.  I was so thankful that they got home safely because the roads were horrific and scary.  We live in an area where snowdrifts come fast and can block roads very quickly.  I sadly had to miss a Ladies Family and Friends Brunch yet again and am praying for better weather and everyone being healthy so we can make it to Bradley's birthday party in a few weeks time.

   My Low Spend Challenge that I gave myself for the month of February has done really well.  I have stayed out of the thrift stores (Yay Me!!!) and we have only been buying essentials or things that are on rock bottom stock up prices.  The other day between mark downs, sales and even a coupon for a free product, I saved $40!  I only spent a little over $7 for grapes, spinach, seltzer water (helps with the Fibro and was free), 2 huge gift tins of popcorn and 3 packages of ham and turkey from the deli.  I have had Jeff pick up a few things here and there like bread when I am flaring and cannot get it made here at home and also some milk and fruit.  I've managed to save well over $100 on groceries which came in very handy since we had to replace a light fixture in our kitchen.

   Between the storms, spending time with the grandkids and delving back into some difficult things in counseling, it has taken a toll on me and caused lots of flares/crashes.  Time with the grandkids was planned for and yes, I would do that all over again...they are my heart and so worth it!  Weather greatly affects me and my pain and energy levels.  Dealing with the nightmares and the moments of reliving and realizations that come with counseling has really taken a toll on me but I know that I have to get through it and deal with it so that it hopefully will help me heal those parts of me and make me stronger and happier.  It's difficult and draining now, but it worth it in the end.

   I've been working hard on making my daily life as simple and calm as possible.  I'm giving myself "permission" to just go with the flow and really listen to what my body needs.  If I need to sleep until 10 or 11 a.m. because I have not been able to get to sleep until 4 in the morning, that is ok (unless I have an appointment that morning that I need to get to).  I have Jeff pick up bread and not feel guilty about it if I am unable to make bread due to pain and low energy.  I've been avoiding lots of social media and even email (because I am bombarded with so much crap there).  I do need to get better about email though because I have missed emails from friends and family  (sorry SJ).  There are days and even weeks when I don't get on my computer.  I have a big pile of books from the library to read along with some here at home that are mine.  All of them were picked with simplicity, beauty, and frugality in mind. 😉  Jeff and I have been enjoying watching shows on YouTube or Netflix that make us laugh, show us beauty or take us back to  simpler times.  Jeff has been on a James Bond movie kick lately which is fine because I enjoy those too.  So all is as well as it can be at the moment and I am taking the needed steps to make my life the best it can be.  I'm trying to continue to focus on the good while allowing myself the space to grieve when needed also.  It is a balancing act for sure, but the good is winning. 😊
Be blessed all!





Friday, February 15, 2019

Frugal Food Lately 2/15/19


   I spaced out on keeping a record of my frugal doings this week so I thought I would do a Frugal Foods Lately post of the things we have been eating here at home over the past 3 weeks or so  instead.  Enjoy!!!

Apples and Cheddar Cheese

Creamy Venison Casserole

Ham and Veggie Chowder

Brats and Potato Hash

Homemade Chili

Broccoli/Cauliflower and Cheese Soup

Chicken, Tomato and Pesto Pasta

Chicken Noodle Soup

Another Snacky Dinner

Teriyaki Venison Meatloaf and Rice

    Some of the other homemade meals that I did not get pictures of were Split Pea Soup with Ham, Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Crab and Cream Cheese Wontons, Pizza, and a few other things that I cannot think of at the moment.  I always try to cook enough for leftovers for a few days also.  We love leftovers and on days when we are either busy or I am not feeling well, they sure come in handy!  

   Though not as frugal, I am not making homemade meals this weekend when we have our oldest grandsons spend the night on Saturday and hopefully have Jaysn, Rachel and Steven join us for sledding followed by dinner.  I took the easy way out and bought 3 frozen pizzas at less than $4 each and  
some marked down Valentine's Day cookies for .98 a package.  Breakfast will be strawberry yogurt that I got on sale since they love yogurt along with Little Cuties mandarin oranges.  I'm still thinking I am getting off pretty frugally. ;)

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Low Spend Month to Save More Money


   I need to save more money and do it rather quickly.  The recent government shutdown, with a possible second one in the very near future got me to thinking about how we definitely need an emergency fund so that we are covered in case of job loss, prolonged illness on Jeff's part (his job brings in all our income) or any other emergency that we might need funds for that we could quickly get our hands on without having to go into further debt.  We do try to put money away on a regular basis, but I want to be able to "up" that amount.   I went over various ideas in my head but kept coming back to one in particular...

   I have seen people doing "no spend" months where they only spend money on things like housing, food at home, utilities, etc..  I would love to be able to do something like that, but Jeff has committed to his bowling league for the rest of the season, so we cannot drop that.  Also, I do not want him to.  He needs to have a fun outlet and something to look forward to each week.  He works so hard for all of us, takes great care of me and works at a job that can be especially difficult due to the weather this time of year.  He also gave up the sport he loves for year while we raised our kids and I am happy to see him be able to be on a league again. 😊  I've decided instead to do a "low spend" challenge for the rest of this month.

   My parameters for this low spend month are as follows:

1. Jeff will continue to bowl in his league.
2. I will not be shopping that the thrift stores for the rest of the month (ok, this is going to be a really tough one for me but I am determined).
3. No eating out or ordering in food from the tavern. All meals will be eaten at home, at family gatherings or packed and taken with us if we go somewhere.  The exception will be if we use a gift card that covers all the cost of the meal and tip.
4. All meals will be created around what we have in the pantry, refrigerator and freezer.  I can buy fresh produce, dairy products and anything else that we might use up on a regular basis like the hot cocoa mix that Jeff uses in his coffee.
5. I also plan on trying some new recipes and also doing a once a week soup night like I used to.  This has saved us so much money in the past.  I just made a large pot of homemade chicken noodle soup using only half of a large chicken breast and bulked it up with lots of veggies and noodles.  I currently have a ham bone that I thawed out from our Thanksgiving dinner that will go into a large crockpot of homemade split pea soup that I will be making tomorrow.  Most of that will be frozen for future meals which is a wonderful thing to have on hand when I don't feel like cooking.
6. We will cut down on trips out of town with my car.  Jeff has to go to work 5 times a week and we usually use my car twice a week to go to appointments, shopping or to see the kids.  We will combine my twice a month appointments with any needed shopping.  That should limit our trips in my car to once a week on average instead of twice a week.
7. We will continue to make use of the library, YouTube and Netflix to watch movies and different TV shows.  I am also borrowing more books on frugal living, health related issues, and some "just for fun" reading as well.
8. Even though we are in a cold snap weather wise right now, I will keep the heat turned down at night and during the day when Jeff is sleeping.  I'll turn it up when he is awake though since he likes it warmer than I do.  I can always snuggle under blankets during the day and add another one to the bed at night.  I prefer it cooler anyway. I also turn the heat down when he leaves for work so that I can have a cooler bedroom to sleep in at night.
9. I need to be more diligent on working my points programs.  I have been neglecting them lately due to me not wanting to be online much due to all the political BS and some abhorrent laws that have been passed in a few states lately that absolutely disgust me and break my heart. It has been all over social media and I just have not been able to deal with it.  It gives me nightmares and makes my anxiety and depression get so much worse.
10. Lastly, I hope to list some things online that we are not using any more and get them sold.  That money will go into our emergency fund as well.

   So that is my plan for the rest of this month and we will see how it goes.  I may do a modified version of this every month limiting myself to one trip to the thrift stores a month. or every other month.  I do need to get that money saved as well as putting more money towards our debt.  I am getting this feeling lately like this is super important to do and I am going to go with what my gut tells me.


Frugal Friday Wrap Up 1/26-2/1 2019

~We used a $25 Walmart gift card I earned through Swagbucks to buy a huge bag of cat food, hamburger and hot dog buns, feminine products, a cucumber, cereal and a huge bag of potato chips.
~We also used a $20 customer loyalty reward card to buy 2 shirts for me (one was Chico's brand), a Helly Hanson rain jacket for Jeff, a vintage glass refrigerator food container (this will go in my cousin's store), and the movie "Heat" on dvd.
~Lunch was eaten out at Jack in the Box where we ordered the special and 2 sides and had water to drink.  It came out to just a hair over $10.
~Jeff and I stopped in to visit Jaysn and Steven (Rachel was at work) on our way home.  Steven was thrilled to see us and we were entertained by his antics.
~We watched "Escape to the Country" on YouTube at night.  We love that show!
~Dinner was leftovers and ice cream.   Yum!
~The weather was not that great so we stayed home and got some things done around the house.
~I ran my points programs
~Jeff worked on organizing the front bedroom which also houses our pantry.  This way we know what we have and can make meals based on what needs to be used up soon.
~I pulled a family sized pack on Bratwurst out of the freezer.  We will have some tonight and the rest will be used for future meals.
~Soaked beans so I can cook them up on Monday in the slow cooker.
~Made a menu plan with Jeff and set out some of the things we need in a large bowl so that I don't have to go searching for them later.
~We watched a movie we borrowed from the library.
~I was in need of some "retail therapy" today so we went to Goodwill.  Every Monday is Senior discount day of 20% off your total purchase and the new color of the week tags just changed on Sunday.  I was on the hunt for a Mother of the Groom dress for Josh and Lauren's outdoor Fall wedding.  Josh really wanted me to wear something in Navy Blue so that is what I was searching for and I happened upon "the dress" today.  It is a Navy Blue, long sleeved and full length dress that is warm, flows beautifully, does not need ironing (bonus) and was brand new with tags!  It was priced at Goodwill for  $7.99 minus my 20% discount!!!  We also found a cd Jeff wanted, 2 shirts for him (one was the color tag of the day so he got that one at half off) and I also found a buttery soft shirt and a Lia Sophia gorgeous bracelet that was also brand new.  We got everything for $31.08.  Happy Camper here!
~Walmart had my prescription ready.  It only costs us $9 after insurance.
~I threw the beans I had soaked into the crockpot and let them cook away!  I then turned them into a nice meatless chili.  Jeff is not a fan of chili, but I am so I will freeze a bunch of it.
~I cooled the chili off on the screened in back porch since it was 30F out there before putting it into the refrigerator.
~My sweet friend Julie crocheted a prayer shawl for me and it is so pretty.  She and I both have health struggles and she makes these shawls as part of her church ministry.  She asked me what colors I liked and took it from there.  The shawl is so very special because not only did she make it, but she prayed over it for me as she worked on it.
~I have compiled several binders over the years with Laine's Letters, and tips, hints and frugal recipes that other friends have shared.  I am going back through those binders and getting myself more motivated to save more money.
~I was in a huge fibro flare so Jeff made dinner.  He cooked up the ground venison I had got out to thaw and made sloppy joes with a canned sauce.  He was not happy with the results and asked me why it did not taste as good as mine.  I told him it is because I make a homemade sauce and add peppers to it.  The can is ok in a pinch though.
~One of the things that I really enjoy is watching documentaries.  I have found a lot of different ones on both YouTube and Netflix that keep me entertained for hours.  This is a great thing for me to watch when I am not feeling well and can't concentrate enough to read.  I just cuddle up in my recliner, usually with at least one cat on my lap, and watch.  This helps take my mind off the pain and believe me, it is much needed!
~I put in requests for a lot of books from the library and also picked up some they had on hold for me there.
~There was a free magazine offer that I took advantage of.  I get these for our local library also.
~I uploaded coupons onto my Safeway card so they are there when I need them.
~Jeff and I watched "Hotel Transylvania 3" on Netflix.
~Rachel and Steven came up to show off Steven's "big boy" haircut to G-Pa.
~I froze 2 containers of the leftover chili soup for future meals.
~Comfort food was much needed so I made homemade broccoli, cauliflower and sharp cheddar cheese soup.
~Jeff hurt his back at work last night when he fell so he used the hot tub to loosen up his muscles.
~We are headed into some bitter cold weather so I got all the throws washed today so they are ready to cuddle up under for anyone that may come by.
~I was feeling nostalgic so I found the movie "With Six You Get Eggroll" on Youtube and streamed it on my TV.  I used to have it on VHS but do not have it on dvd yet. :)  Love me a good movie that brings back some wonderful memories!