Monday, April 26, 2021

Redoing the Budget for a Smaller Income


   There is a possibility that our income may drop a bit in the near future.  We have run the numbers and we can still manage, but we will have to tighten things up considerably.  Honestly, there are areas that we can easily cut some costs, but others expenses are set, so it will be a balancing act of sorts.  We have been praying about this possible change and, if it is part of God's plan, it will come to fruition.

   There are areas that I need to work harder on, like our food budget and being careful NOT to waste food.  I have shamefully fallen short in that arena and need to get back on the frugal wagon once again.  Today I went through the refrigerator and the fruit bowl.  I looked at what needed to be used up ASAP.  I found 6 bananas that were way overripe and turned those into 3 loaves of moist banana bread.  I noticed that we were down to 1 lonely piece of sandwich bread, so 2 more loaves of that were made.  I had a big tub of cottage cheese that needed used so I got that out and decided to make cheese lasagna. I mixed that up with some Parmesan cheese and parsley from our garden.  Since I was lazy, I used some Havarti cheese instead of Mozzarella.  The slices were easy just to layer in.  After the lasagna was baked, I put some fresh Parmesan cheese on the top to melt in and give it a little kick.  All of the ingredients I used were deeply discounted or from our garden and I had them on hand here.  I served this with some garlic bread that I had gotten for free.  There are lots of leftovers for later in the week, which is a good thing since I have a leftovers night planned for Thursday.  Our freezers are still packed with lots of meat, cheeses, butter, veggies and frozen fruits.  Our pantry is full to the brim, so we have lots of options to pick from there also. We will be using those things instead of buying more right now unless I see a screaming deal.  We are also going to finally do what I have been wanting to and that is having a $200 monthly grocery budget and use cash because it really is harder for me to part with that.

   I also went through our HBA items and made sure I had all the shampoo, soap, antiperspirant, body wash, hair spray, OTC medication, etc. that we need for the next 6 months.  Luckily I had used some coupons the other day to get toothpaste for .50 a tube and big bottles of dishwashing soap for under $2 a bottle.  I also stocked up on laundry detergent at the Dollar Tree (4 more bottles) so I think we are set.

   Since I am sleeping in the guest bed now (it is way more comfortable with my fibromyalgia pain), I wanted to make sure that we had 2 complete sets of sheets for both that bed and the bed in the mater bedroom that Jeff prefers.  I dug way back into our linen closet and found that I already have what I needed.  I had forgotten about a set that Jaysn had given us years ago that he had bought for his bed and then decided that he would rather sleep on the couch at that time since it was comfier for him (this was way before he married Rachel).  So I can cross that off my list!  Savings of at least $40 right there.

   Jeff and I also made some fun plans for this Summer that only involve the cost of gas for the car or truck.  We are going to try and limit taking my car to once a week and he will continue to use his little commuter car for work the rest of the time. Keeping me out of the stores also saves money. 😉 Our list includes going huckleberry picking with the kids, going down to the river for the day and going to see the fish ladders at the dam, going to see the bears at WSU (they just make me so happy), going up to CouerDAlene and spending the day there, going to a beautiful botanical park in the Spokane area that has a huge indoor tropical garden, butterfly house, Asian gardens, etc. (and it's all free), and going camping.  When we go, we will take our own food with us to picnic.  Things at home we want to do are get out the corn home game Jeff made me and play that, have fires (in the firepit when it is safe to do so) and roast sausages and make smores, do BBQs with the family, and just walk around town and enjoy everyone's gardens.  My parents are coming over in a few weeks, so we are also having a big BBQ at Jaysn and Rachel's new place to celebrate the May birthdays, anniversaries, and do a housewarming.  It should be a lot of fun and we finally, after more than a year, get to see and hug my parents again!

   In the next few weeks we will have the garden beds Jeff built me up and have the colder weather crops planted, the rain barrel will be up and ready and Jeff will have the soaker hoses all in place.  He is going to run the hose to the side garden in some conduit pipe and bury that in the grass so he does not have to unhook the hose every time he has to mow the lawn.  I am going to see if I can get some well established chive plants  from Jaysn and Rachel since there are many in their garden just thriving and going crazy.  I need to dig up some of the strawberry plants here that escaped their bed and get those potted up in a planter for Steven.  That boy loves his strawberries and there are none currently on their property.  I figured that if we had them potted up near the front door, he would be able to take care of them and make sure they stayed watered.  Jaysn and Rachel also have lots of fruit trees and we can't wait to see what all of them are.  The plan is to share all our fruit and veggies here and there with the family since there is way too much for any of us to use on our own.  Chris and Heather will continue to do the hunting and are great about sharing that with the rest of us.  We are truly blessed!

   So that is the plan for now.  Hopefully everything works out the way we want it to.  It would mean a smaller budget, but a lot less stress in our lives and that is much needed.  Be blessed! 





Saturday, April 24, 2021

Frugal Friday Wrap Up 4/23/2021


~I had  bought some Million Bells plants on clearance earlier last week and potted them up in hanging baskets that I already have.

~I planted some Hollyhock seeds directly into the flower beds...we will see if they come up.

~Jeff mowed the lawn and added the grass clippings to the compost pile.

~One of our neighbors approached Jeff about building her a raised garden bed box like he had done for me.  She wanted to pay him to make it.  Jeff and I looked at each other and decided to just bless her with one of mine. :)  She was shocked that we would do that but we told her that is what good neighbors do...they help each other out. 😁  We are so glad that we were able to do this for her.

~We stayed home all weekend since we had gotten our covid vaccine and were not sure how the side effect may affect us. We made the most of it though by getting creative with meals and taking advantage of the super warm weather to eat out on the porch.

~Jeff got my old rocking chair out of the garage and fixed it so that we can now use it on the back porch.  The cats love it!

~I planted the green onions that I had rooted from the bottoms of the 2 bunches I got at the grocery store.

~We SKYPEd with Josh,, Lauren and Tate on Sunday.


~I made a big tuna pasta salad with some green onions from our garden.  Hubby was a happy camper!  The kitties were too since they got the "juice" drained off the tuna.

~Two more loaves of bread were made.

~I transferred most of our income tax refund that arrived today into our savings account. The rest has been earmarked for something else.

~Jeff hung up some wasp traps in the front and back yards.  The wasps are awful this year!

~Jeff and I both spent some time in the gardens.  He did some weeding and I trimmed back the herbs and picked up the sticks that came out of the trees during our windstorm last night.


~Jeff and I went out to see Jaysn and Rachel's new house and property.  It is amazing and Steven is so happy to have all kinds of room to run!  They have lots of fruit trees, an established garden and tons of building materials that were left there.  Jeff and I are taking the metal roofing to build more raised garden beds.


~Jeff brought home some free lumber from a job.

~We called my parents and my middle brother and had a long and nice chat with them. :)

~I repotted some rosemary and basil plants in pots that I already have.

~Dinner was four cheese ravioli ($2.49), with pesto sauce ($1) and some Texas Toast (FREE).

~Our backyard provided all kinds of entertainment for the cats and I today.  There were birds, a silly squirrel and even a nice kitty who came to visit.

~I washed down the rocking chair cushion with some laundry detergent and hot water, rinsed it and then set it out in the sun to dry.  The cats were right back on it as soon as it was brought back onto the back porch.  So much for a clean chair for me.  Good thing I love them!


~Chris came over to get some of the wood chips we have for his yard and filled up the back of his truck with some.  He also brought me over a bag of organic potting soil.  I sent him home with some peony plants and a door mat (along with some paints) for Isaiah to paint for me.  He has a whole big plan for how he wants to do it and I told him to just go for it!

~I watched a movie on YouTube.

~Dinner was chicken breasts cooked in the air fryer, broccoli cheese rice and a salad.  Quick, easy and semi healthy.  I save one of the chicken breasts for another meal since I cooked 3 of them.  We had leftover dressing from the salad kit so I saved it for another salad.

~I loaded coupons onto my Safeway card.


~I found the huge family sized boxes of Captain Crunch cereal (Jeff like this for a snack) for .99 at Grocery Outlet. I also found crackers for .50 a box.

~I decided to buy the sale price bags of coleslaw mix and garden salad mix instead of the salad kits.  Savings of $8 right there. I can't wait until I can get lettuce going in my garden so I can just pick it fresh.

~Jeff and I stopped to see the bears at WSU.  Four of the younger ones were out in the huge play yard running around and walked right in front of us.  The HUGE bear that was still in his cage climbed it for us and we saw how big he really is.  Free entertainment and I always feel better after seeing the bears.

~It is no secret that I love flowers.  I found some beautiful geraniums for $3.97 each and will be potting these up in one of my pots for the front porch.  I am going to try my hand at propagating them too and see if I can master that.


Sunday, April 18, 2021

Did You Say Shots?


  Friday was "shot day" for our youngest grandson Tate, his mommy and Grammie and G-pa.  Tate got his baby immunizations and stopped fussing the minute his daddy picked him up.  He is a brave boy!  Yes, that is him above. :)

   Lauren, Tate's mommy, also got her Pfizer shot #1 earlier in the day and Jeff and I got ours that night.  All of us Covid-19 vaccine takers  had sore arms for about 2 days, mild headaches for us girls, and some minor fatigue.  Josh has his first one in a week.  All in all it was not that bad...we are hoping the same for the shot #2.


Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Blissfully Peaceful...for the Moment and Other Thoughts


    I just got up (yes, it is close to 1 p.m. but in my defense I did not go to sleep until 5:30 a.m.), got the coffee going, wiped down all the outdoor furniture after yet another dust storm, and am settling down to drink my cup of liquid gold (Coffee).  I'm seated at my outdoor table on the back screened in porch, cats lounging in the sun spots, and am greeted with a picture of my youngest grandson Tate on my computer screen.  How can you not smile when you see that little cutie?  All my grandsons bring me such great joy but since I can see and hug the others in person, this little guy gets the place of honor as my screen saver. 😘

   At the moment it is blissfully peaceful out here in my little oasis.  No dogs barking, the wind is blowing through the trees and the birds are singing their beautiful songs.  I am savoring every moment because I know that it can quickly be shattered at any moment by a screaming lady and her yapping dogs that is back up here for about 6 months again.  Honestly, it is like nails on a chalkboard.  I have tried so hard to be nice and to model good behavior in how to treat your pets for her, but nothing seems to work.  It honestly makes me sad for her dogs and for her family too.  She has been this way for as long back as I can remember her coming up here.  With that said, I am going to continue to soak in the peacefulness for as long as I can. 😉

   Onto other thoughts...lucky you! LOL!  Jeff and I were supposed to get our Johnson and Johnson covid-19 vaccines yesterday.  We were woken up early in the morning with phone calls from his work, messages from the doctor's office and our kids messaging me on facebook that the government put a "pause" on giving that particular vaccine due to rare blood clotting reactions with it.  YIKES!  I talked to my nurse friend who was helping us to get the vaccine and she recommended the Pfizer since we could not do the Johnson and Johnson.  With the cases rising in our county and being put back into Phase 2 with some pretty restrictive measures in place once again, we were getting worried.  So now we go in this Friday night for that and have the weekend to get through the worst of it praying it does not send me into a huge flare since we are helping Jaysn and Rachel move the following weekend.  Jeff is taking that night off. And then, the icing on the cake, is that we get to do it all over again in a month's time. 😞  Maybe it was a blessing in disguise, at least that is the way I am choosing to view it.  Given that I already have anxiety issues, that waiting after the vaccine for a couple of weeks after the J and J vaccine to see if I would get that rare blood clotting issue is not what I need and would have keep me heavily medicated to avoid major panic attacks.  I already am dealing with high anxiety and a few panic attacks at the moment, but I am able to deal with them, even if they are unpleasant and also bring nightmares with them.

   Given that we did not get our jabs yesterday and it was a nice sunny and warm day, Jeff was able to finish building the raised garden bed boxes for both the front and the side gardens.  I am so proud of him for not only building them, but using free lumber and old roofing metal that we had here on hand to do so.  Love that talented and ingenious man of mine! He was so cute, having me come out and check the heights along the way to make sure that they are just how I want them.  I now have 4 lower leveled ones for taller plants and a taller one for things like lettuce and lower growing plants so I can easily harvest from them with out having to bend too much. 🎕

   One of the other things I had done was cook up a huge casserole dish full of homemade macaroni and cheese, 2 loaves of bread and 3 loaves of banana bread for after our jabs on Tuesday.  Well, we are now working on that and I am coming up with plan b for food to get us through the weekend.  I will make more sandwich bread, am making breakfast sausage sandwiches with precooked sausage patties and English muffins from the freezer (I'll have those ready to go in a container in the refrigerator), I cut up a cantaloupe (but I think Jeff will have that gone before Friday so I may have to pick up another on Friday and cut it up that night before the shot really kicks in) and will most likely make some sort of casserole that is easy on the tummy.  In addition to that, the freezers and pantry are stocked with lots of easy precooked foods that will be easy to grab.  I have lots of other fruit on hand and already have water bottles by the beds (I frequently sleep in the guest bedroom since that bed is better for me in dealing with pain), bathrooms are stocked with toilet paper, and I am keeping up on the laundry so we will not have to deal with all that.  I'm thinking the one thing I have not planned for and need to is digging out 2 more sets of queen sized sheets (I know I have at least one extra set) so we can quickly change the sheets if they become sweat soaked (gross right).  Hopefully though, our reactions will be minor like my parents were.  They got the same vaccine and only had sore arms and a little bit of fatigue.

   So I was in for a shock last night when I was looking through the grocery ads.  Have you noticed a HUGE jump in the price of bacon?  Oh my goodness, it's over $9 a package here and we are not talking those huge deli sized packages, but rather the regular small sized ones!!!  Holy piggies! 😲  Packages of crackers have also doubled in price...thank God for the Dollar Tree and Grocery Outlet or we would not be getting any more of those either for awhile.  This is one of those moments when I am so glad that I try to keep a very well stocked pantry so we can avoid having to buy things at outrageous prices or just go without them.  I fear this is just the beginning of prices going through the roof on food.  So glad we are planning for a bigger garden and really working on having great and productive soil this year.

   I think I am going to end this here.  I hear Jeff stirring and I want to be able to just finish my coffee while visiting with him without any other distractions.  We shall see what the afternoon bring blessed!



Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Amazing Friends, Family and a Frugal (and Normal) DITL



    So there I was last night and into the early morning hours trying to secure another Covid-19 vaccine appointment for Jeff and I and still hitting a brick wall.  One of the places that had the vaccine available would not take us because we were not "current patients" there even though Jeff has been seen by them in the past.  One of my dear friends saw my post on Facebook about my frustration in trying to book an appointment and told me to let her check into things for me.  She called today and was able to get us in at that place that said they were only taking current patients because she pulled the "friend card".  She is a nurse but I did not know where she was working and it turns out that she works in that very office!  So much love for our Minnie!!!  She is also one of Chris's "bonus moms" as I am to her son Nathan.  I am so very grateful for all our friends in the medical community who have been there time and time again for us helping us get appointments, referrals, etc. when we have either been told they can't take us or we will have to wait for months to get in to be seen.

   Jeff and I are breathing a huge sigh of relief today between that great news and finding out that the dirt Chris had removed to make a nice pad for his future shop will work as fill dirt for our raised beds.  That dirt has had years of cows grazing on it before Chris bought it so lots of built in fertilizer. 😉 Chris and Heather have been wanting it gone for awhile now so this works out well for us all!   Chris and Heather even fed us dinner while we were out there yesterday afternoon/evening.  They had caught a bunch of fresh bass the day before so we had a fish fry.  YUMMY!  I took out a bunch of asparagus because I know they love that and I had two bunches here at home.  Sunday Jaysn and Rachel had us over for Easter, along with her mom Joyce and my cousin Jeremy.  We all contributed a dish to the meal and it was so good.  It was also wonderful to see Joyce again.  We had not seen her in over a year so we got caught up on each other's lives. 💖

   So this week I have failed miserably in keeping track of my frugal doings so I thought I would just do a post on a typical day in my life.  And yes, it's boring but can be rather productive on those days when I do have the energy to do things.  Some days NONE of this happens, but today is a good day.

   We got the phone call from our dear Minnie about getting us appointments, which woke Jeff and I both up (not complaining at all).  Jeff and I had been so stressed out about all of this and it has been leaving us emotionally drained.  We had coffee, Jeff worked on getting the bills done, checks written and all ready to mail off  after he deposits his check tomorrow morning.  I took one look at Jeff after that was done and could tell he was struggling to stay awake.  I sent him back to bed to get more sleep before he goes to work tonight.

   While he slept, I got busy with doing a load of laundry and then getting the bread dough mixed up and rising.  When the dough had risen, I got the two loaves baked and started in on the pork chop and rice casserole so I could pop that in the oven when the bread came out.  Not wanting to waste any of that heat in the oven, I made some cookies and put those in when the casserole was done.  We had green onions that needed to be chopped up and frozen, so I cut the two bunches of those up, saving the bottoms of them and sticking them in a cup with water so that the roots would grow for about a week before I plant them out in my garden.  I lost some of my green onion plants out there over the Winter, so I needed to fill in some gaps.  Green onions...the gift that keeps on giving!  There was also a bag of fresh green beans that needed to be used, so I got those all cut up and cooked to go with our pork chop and rice casserole.  During all this, I realized that I forgot to eat up until I started cooking so I grabbed a yogurt to tide me over.

   In between the cooking and laundry, I worked on scanning through the grocery and garden center ads.  I also uploaded coupons onto my Safeway card and made a grocery list of things we needed at both the regular grocery store and at Grocery Outlet (we get our snack type things like chips there and yes, Jeff loves his nachos and we are about out of tortilla chips and potato chips that he takes with his lunches).  We will go in early next week before our vaccine appointment and get the shopping done, then go down for our shots. Jeff is also off that night so that makes things less hectic. We really don't need much so the shopping should go quickly.   All the stores we need to go to are within a 2 block range from the medical office so that works out great!  

   Plans for this evening are to go over the couch with a damp washcloth to get the cat hair off it (never ending job) and then fold two loads of laundry while watching some "trash" TV.  Don't judge me, we all have our ways of dealing with stress and one of mine is watch the Real Housewives series.  I can get as mad as I want with some of their antics that remind me of people I know and then just turn it off and NOT have to deal with them.  LOL!  Yes, again, one of my many maladaptive coping skills but hey, it works for me and that is all that matters. 😛




Thursday, April 1, 2021

Buckle Up...Things are Getting a Bit Dicey Again

    Buckle Up Baby!  It's About to get Rough Again...

   I'm getting that worried feeling again.  Covid-19 cases are climbing with the new variants in our state and is being made so much worse by the partying college kids at WSU.  Our county is going to have to revert back a phase with further restrictions going into place that we just had come out of.   That is what is going on locally here.  Now add to that all the national debt that our country is adding, inflated housing prices and rising taxes to pay for all the "special programs" and things that for some reason are seeming to be prioritized over what is good for and helps the actual American people as a whole.  Why we are paying for gender studies in other countries just baffles my mind when we have so many people hurting here right now that do need help.  All this frivolous government spending with no regard to the amount of debt we are saddling our children and grandchildren with just ticks me off to no end.  I can also see a huge economic crash on the horizon with hyper inflation, lots of home foreclosures and even more suffering.  If you have studied that stock market crash and what led to the Great Depression, you will see a lot of similarities to what has been going on currently.  Buckle up people, we are in for a world of hurt if we are not prepared for what is to come.

   Bearing all of the above in mind, along with having a goal of Jeff being able to at least semi retire at age 65 before his back gives out (degenerative disk disease that runs in his family), Jeff and I have decided to buckle down even more and try to pay off debt at an more accelerated rate than we have been.  Our goal of having 3 months worth of income in our emergency fund is just about there so once that happens, every spare bit of money over what is needed to pay for basic living expenses and some big projects around here will be going to debt repayment.

   While Jeff is outside right now working on getting the garden cleaned out and trimming trees, I am inside working on a few things myself.  I have rice cooking to go with our dinner of leftovers.  We have  have lettuce, tomatoes, salmon loaf, carrots, and tamale pie that need to be eaten tonight.  I am cooking a large pot of rice to go along with this, making sure that I cook extra to us in future meals.  Two loaves of homemade bread just came out of the oven and the leftover bread from earlier in the week has been made into homemade garlic croutons (which Jeff loves).  I quickly broiled some asparagus while the oven is still hot and use that to have with dinner also and use some cold in a pasta salad also.  Asparagus is one of my favorites and I only buy it when it is on sale in the Spring.  By using the same pan that I did the croutons on, I was able to not only use the heat from the oven, but also save on washing another pan and the pan itself already had olive oil and garlic salt on it.  All I had to do was add a bit more oil, roll the asparagus around on it and then add some freshly cracked pepper and Himalayan salt to it and pop it in the oven.  Easy, quick, frugal and will make for a delicious treat! I will have half of the asparagus with dinner and use the other half in a future pasta salad.

   Jeff has been working on making my raised garden beds with free lumber and some old metal roofing.  He took down a fence in our yard today and will use some of that on the raised beds also.  We are going to go out to Chris and Heather's to see if the dirt that they had cleared for a pad for their future shop will work to help fill the raised beds and all we would have to add is some compost that we are going to be buying in bulk.  Jeff has been really good about using our compost pile to put dead grass and kitchen scraps in along with weeds so they can compost down. Tomorrow I need to put the leftover used coffee grounds around the blueberry bushes.  They love the acid in it and it helps keep them healthy and productive.  Since it is so warm, I am thinking it might be I will get some of the cold weather crop seeds started within the next few days.  The hot tub area is the perfect area to start seeds in because it is protected from the wind and if you put the seed trays on the hot tub cover, the warmth from the hot tub helps the seeds get off to a good start.

   I want to encourage people to learn as many skills as they can and always look for new ways to save a penny here, a dime there and a dollar today and tomorrow.  Be conscious of food waste and freeze things if you cannot use them up right away IF they can be frozen.  Try to eat what is in season and stock up on fruits and veggies at their lowest prices.  Enjoy them in season and freeze some for later.  When you see a good sale on canned goods, pasta, or things that you use on a regular basis and can safely store, buy them so that you do not pay inflated prices later.  Look at the thrift stores for things that you need.  I even find new sheet sets at Goodwill for 1/4 (or less) of the retail prices.  The hand held high pressure shower head Jeff found for $12.99 and installed in our shower retails for about $50 and it has 6 settings.  We love it!  It has excellent reviews and makes showering much easier for me since I can then direct the flow of water water where I need it and not have to bend and twist as much.  I know I sound like a broken record, but YouTube is your friend.  You can learn so many new skills, see how to do repairs, learn a new craft, cooking videos and even find some amazing movies there.  This is how Jeff and I watch the news too.  Honestly, you do not need to be paying for cable TV or monthly streaming services.  The Dollar Tree is a great place to buy laundry detergent, dishwashing soap for your dishwasher, huge packages of napkins, bags of Himalayan salt, cotto salami, medicated body powder and the generic version of Neosporin.  I also buy my jarred pesto sauce there, garden seeds, kitchen gadgets like scrapers, ziplock type bags and parchment paper, foil containers for freezing homemade make ahead meals in, etc..  I even found a small front door mat there that Isaiah and I will be painting together.  Try to think outside the box and substitute things when you can.  Even though the road ahead may be rough and bumpy, we can still find ways to cut costs and enjoy life!