Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Our First Big Snow and Lots of Frugal Doings


   Yes, I am late posting about our Frugal Doings again.  We have been super busy around here trying to make sure that we were ready not only for Winter inside and outside, but also getting things done for Thanksgiving and seeing our family in Montana. 😊 This is also the time of year where I like to give everything a good scrub down so that we are ready for the holidays.

    We got our first big snow overnight and into today.  It was snowing lightly for most of the day, but is now turning over to rain.  I am really glad we did not have to travel over the passes today as they are just treacherous right now.  All should be good by the time we leave Thursday though.  Shannon is coming over in a bit to go over some things with me since she will be housesitting for us.  Our kitties just love her and I know they will be in good hands with her.

   Here are some of the things that we have been up to:

~I got the non perishable foods all packed and ready to go with us to my Mom's house.  I will bake muffins tomorrow to take with us also.

~Jeff changed the oil in our car and got that all ready to go.

~Chris and Heather had us over for lunch on Saturday and we had the most tender elk tenderloin along with homemade garlic bread (yes, Heather baked the bread) and mashed potatoes.  Sadly one of their kitties got run over and Bradley was the one to find him.  He was absolutely heartbroken and a friend, upon hearing about this, blessed him with the sweetest little orange and white Tabby kitten who they named Mr. Whiskers.  Mr. Whiskers spent a lot of time cuddling with me and one of the other cats, who hates everybody came to cuddle with me too.  There is a reason Isaiah calls me the "cat whisperer".  LOL!

~Jeff bought me, at my request, some battery operated lights from the Dollar Tree that can with be free standing or can be attached to things.  Our laundry room light switch is way over by the door to the outside and there is no switch on the other side coming in from the center hall.  I stuck one of those lights on the wall, near the door that comes in from the hall, and I now have light that I can just "push" on and off.  We have lived in this house for 29 or 30 year (I can't remember which at the moment) and I finally have light at that side of the laundry room!

~While Jeff was at bowling league last week I fixed myself some pot stickers and sautéed up some spinach with butter, garlic and lemon juice.  I also had some grapes with it.  YUM!

~We finished the last of the Christmas shopping for all the kids, grandkids, my parents and my brother.  It was really nice to get it all done!  I found some lovely Winter themed kitchen towels with cardinals on them.  Both my mother and I love cardinals since they remind us of Grandma, so I bought us both a set.

~I've been listening to Christmas music, along with other beautiful healing music on YouTube.

~One night Jeff and I popped some popcorn and watched a natural disaster movie.  Yes, he watches them with me. LOL!

~Jeff made us some brownies one night.  We realized that our hot tub had also reset itself when we had a power glitch, so it was hot and ready to go.  As soon as the brownies came out of the oven, we went out to enjoy that hot tub while the brownies cooled down a bit.  It was so nice to hot tub and then come in to brownies!

~We found Steven a birthday gift at Goodwill that we know he will love.  Yes, we shop way ahead of time when we see something the grandkids would like.

~I got both of the dehydrators washed and ready to put away.

~The floors were all mopped with my Swiffer floor cleaner that I got for free and the pads that I got on clearance.

~Most of our meals came from the pantry and/or freezer and fridge.  We are trying so hard not to let anything go to waste.

~I found another beautiful sweater and shawl at Goodwill.  Both were really high quality and will get a lot of use.

~Kitchen cabinets, the microwave, stove and Berkey were all washed down well.  Boy did they all need it!

Our silly youngest grandson Tate. :)  Can't wait to snuggle him!

     I hope everyone who reads this has a lovely Thanksgiving!  We are looking forward to being with family and celebrating with our youngest silly grandson Tate along with his mommy, daddy, my parents and my brother Fritz.  Be blessed!

Monday, November 15, 2021

Frugal Friday Wrap Up (the last couple of weeks or so) Edition


   The winds outside are starting to really pick up.  We are under a high wind warning with winds up to 60 MPH and gust up to 65 MPH.  These kinds of winds really scare me because the ground is so saturated and I am terrified of the old tree next door loosing more branches or coming down all together on my house, vehicles or on my neighbor's house and vehicles.  After doing my baking this morning, getting things picked and in the dehydrator, and doing a few other things that needed doing around the house, I got busy making a large cheese lasagna for dinner tonight.  It is baking right now because I want it done before the power possibly goes out later.  If the winds pick up any worse, I will call Jeff and see if he can possibly get off a bit early so he can get home quickly.  The road that comes to our town has large trees on either side in places and I don't want  him to get hit with one of those coming down or not be able to get through to home.  Praying that things don't get worse until after he gets here.  Onto the savings...

~My cousin moved to Oregon and blessed  us with some groceries, some gorgeous crystal bar glasses and some wine for my father and some for me too.

~I've been working on organizing the pantry and finding the "holes" in it.  I found a package of tortellini in back of it and cooked that up, added a diced up tomato that my cousin had given me and then added some pesto.  YUM!  I served it in one of my many thrifted Crate and Barrel bowls.  I love having such a variety of thrifted dishes to pick from.  It just makes meal time more special.  I'm the same way with wine glasses.

~I made a list of the items that we need and use both in the pantry and the HBA and general home category.  Jeff and I are filling in those gaps.

~I found some more great deals at the Grocery Outlet, including the wine that my father likes at 20% off.

~Meals here have been mostly from the freezer and pantry.  I made a huge list of things I could make after taking inventory or the pantry and going on memory of what is in the freezer.

~I dehydrated and powdered up tomatoes from our garden that had ripened inside the house.

~I also had saved seeds from the parsley plants, a acorn squash and some of our bush beans.

~I harvested more Swiss chard, green onions and kale from the garden and made a nice soup with some Asian soup base and pot stickers.  I love my greens!

~Jeff has been working hard on getting the outside of the house all winterized.

~With Christmas coming, I changed out the decorative plates in my kitchen to some with birds on them that have a Winter theme to them.  I love looking at them when I am in the kitchen because they remind me of my beloved Grandma who absolutely loved birds, especially cardinals.  I'm hoping one day to find some with Blue Jays on them as those remind me of my beloved GramBunny.

~All the makings for green bean casserole were gathered and put in a bag, along with the written recipe, to take with us to Montana for Thanksgiving.  My mom asked all of us to pick on dish that meant Thanksgiving to us and to make it there.  Both Josh and I picked green bean casserole.  Like mother like son. ;)

~I switched out the plates and the napkins to the Fall and Winter themed ones.  It just makes me happy to do this!

~I'm going through things and purging them, including kitchen appliances and cookware that I no longer use.  Jeff is thrilled about all of this since he doesn't like having to clean some of those things.

~The new cast iron skillets are all seasoned and ready to go.

~We have been enjoying using our hot tub again now that the weather is so much colder at night.  There is something just magical about sitting out there in hot water with the jets going while looking at the stars...pure bliss.

~I made more sandwich and cinnamon swirl bread.

~Running short on time one evening, I quickly washed up a sweet potato and popped it in the microwave to cook.  Meanwhile I browned up some fully cooked sausages in the cast iron skillet.  While those where cooking, I cut up half an onion, 3 leftover baked russet potatoes and then cut up the baked sweet potatoes.  When the sausages were done, it only took about 5 minutes to make the onion and potato hash.  We had a salad to go with this.

~My vanilla extract that I made was very "alcoholy" in flavor, so I added the rest of the vanilla beans, after I split them, to the jar. Hopefully that will flavor it more.

~Kale from our garden is in the dehydrator as I type this out.  I will powder it and add it to sauces.

~Jeff cleaned out and brought in a old dresser that we had in the shed.  I used it in the pantry to sort out and store sauces, mixes, dried herbs, spices, baking needs and both rice and noodle mixes.  It is so nice to have that all done and be able to find things easily now.

~While at Goodwill the other day, I found a 10 bottle metal wine rack.  The one I currently have only stores 4 at a time.  At any given moment, I have quite a variety of wine in the house since I use it for cooking and for drinking.  I try to keep reds, whites and a variety of specialty flavored wines on hand to share with guests. The cost of the new wine rack was just $5.99, I consider that a huge bargain!

~Jeff found some lined heavy duty jeans for the Winter.  They are insulated, so they will keep him warmer when he had to be outdoors.

~The Dollar Tree finally restocked it's food section so we were able to get almost everything I had on my list from there.  They however were still missing their dishwasher powered detergent.

~I found the perfect gifts for my mother and my brother Fritz while I was at Marshall's.  

~Grocery Outlet had their Kodiak Cakes chocolate chip muffin mixes marked down because they were close to the sell by date.  I will bake some of these up next week and take them to Montana with us. They also had some marked down salads that we had last night and will finish off tonight (I also had one for lunch).

   Be blessed and stay safe!

Thursday, November 11, 2021

I'm Making a List and Checking it Thrice



   My living room and kitchen are awash in a sea of boxes and bags at the moment.  I've been reorganizing and inventorying our pantry, along with putting away new purchases.  As I am going along (slowly...so very slowly), I am also checking and making a list of things that I need to fill in the gaps that I am seeing.  I need to make this list for another reason...I am now the proud owner of two new bottles of paprika seasoning and it is something I don't use that often.  I do not need to be wasting money buying things that I already have enough of.  This muddled brain of mine needs to be reminded of what I already have on hand.

   Seeing as how I over bought in some areas and underbought in others, I headed to the medicine cabinet to see if there were any gaps there.  I get distracted easily and I honestly think I needed a break from trying to get the pantry done.  I'm honestly impressed that I have gotten this far without freaking out at the enormity (to me at least) of the task at hand.  Anyway, I found gaps in there and added a few more OTC items and some HBA items to my list.  One thing I do not need to add to my list for a few years at least is body wash...somehow I have a glut of those!

   I went back to my list and divided it by store.  Some other items, like solar lights, I will add to the Dollar Tree list.  These are great for lighting up our stairs from the driveway up to the house and also for having on hand if the power goes out and I need light in the house other than candles.  Just stick those puppies in a jar or glass to hold them upright.  I also like to pick up their packages of 2 and a 1/2 gallon zip lock type bags.  I used those for holding 2 loaves of homemade bread and they are also great for keeping emergency supplies dry and together in each of our cars.  Oh, another item on the list is a shovel to put in whatever car we are using at the moment in case we have to dig ourselves or someone else out of the snow.  Very useful tool and one that we have not had in the past but are going to add to our winter driving preps.  This we will have to pick up at another store.

   Hopefully I have not forgotten anything that I needed to add to my many lists.  Since I am still adjusting to the new meds and also hate to drive anywhere in the snowy and icy roads time of the year, even when my brain is not as muddled, I need to be as prepared as possible so I feel safe.  This is the time of year where I just want to be home, snuggle in, and cook hearty meals for Jeff and I.  My lists help me to be able to do this and not freak out (as much) 😉. 


Monday, November 8, 2021

It's Okay to Stop and Pivot

   Jeff and I had plans for Saturday once he got off work to get some projects tackled here around the house.  Then we got a message from Jaysn and Rachel asking us if we could watch Steven for them while they went to a movie and had a date night.  What did we do, we pivoted and said yes!  Jeff picked Steven up after he got off work and brought him home with him.  Upon Steven's arrival, I was in the kitchen getting ready to make Chex Mix.  Steven, wanting to be a good helper, insisted that he be given an apron too so he could help.  Fine with Grammie!  I love having little helpers in the kitchen.  Steven cut up some of the butter that we needed to melt, poured the spice mix into the pan once the butter was melted and then pour a box of Chex cereal into the pan for me.  He stirred it up a bit before I added half of another box of Chex cereal and then I got that all mixed up with Steven giving it a final stir to make sure that it was fully coated.  Later, he helped us sort through the toys we have here for the grandkids and decide what he would put in the big toy bucket and what he was done playing with.  He also scrubbed the potatoes for dinner that I made into potato wedges and cooked in the Air Fryer. He is a wonderful helper!  We played with dominos, setting them up in patterns and then knocking them down (something that thrilled him beyond belief since it was new and exciting for him), had dinner and then snuggled and watched a few of his favorite shows.  When we were snuggling, Steven laid his head on me and told me how much he loved me and loved being with me.  This Grammie heart just melted and I savored this moment knowing that all too soon, he would not be as cuddly as he is now.  Yes, pivoting is a great thing when more important things come up or circumstances change.

   Jeff and I have had to practice pivoting a lot lately.  Two weekends ago it was a facetime message from Bradley telling us that things were not going well on their new post and beam shed build.  I asked him if he needed G-pa to come over and help.  Yep, he asked his daddy and the answer was yes.  Again, we had plans for that day since the previous day had been spent helping my cousin get his place all loaded up into the moving truck so he could head out to Oregon the next day and start the next chapter in his life.  I was already an emotional wreck having said goodbye to my cousin, who has become more like a brother, but over we went.  I enjoyed hanging out with our Heather, her friend Heather and her mom Tammy.  We cooked together, visited and played a new to me card game while the men worked hard outside.  Meanwhile, the grandboys and their friend built a "bullpen" in the back yard with t-posts and cattle panels and took turns lassoing each other.  Those boys and their imaginations!  I love it!  After the men decided they were done for the day, Jeff and I headed into another town to do our shopping (which had been part of the plans for the day originally) and then came home and popped some pizzas in the oven to cook for dinner and lunches the next few days. Was it worth the pivot...a resounding yes and just what I needed to help me out of my funk!

    I'm adjusting to an even higher dosage of one of my medications so a few days before I started the higher dose, I went shopping and stopped by one of the thrift stores in Pullman, WA.  I had some items on my list that I was looking for and found most of them there including a larger mesh scoop and carrot julienne tool for the kitchen, a plate with a chickadee on it (I had been looking for another Christmas type small plate with a bird on it to put up on the wall in my kitchen), some small bowls by one of my favorite pottery companies, two glasses in the candlewick pattern (I collect these),brand new ornaments (I needed 4 for the grandboys), 2 seasons of some of our favorite comedy shows on DVD, a new Christmas sign that makes me giggle because it reminds me so much of our oldest grandson Bradley, a few books for me and the grandboys and a pair of shorts for myself off the .25 rack.  I had a wonderful time, got some items I needed and lots that I wanted and saved a ton of money in the process!  I then went to Grocery Outlet to pick up some wine there for my father that he requested and they had a 20% off all wine purchases for that week only.  I did not know about this sale walking in but boy was I happy to hit it!  I had to ask about the where that brand of Malbec wine was and luckily they had it in.  I bought 4 bottles of it and then the lady that was helping me and I started talking about the upcoming holidays and I mentioned that I love to make mulled wine.  She told me they had just got in some mulled wine that all you had to do was heat it up...it had not even made it out to the shelves yet!  Well she brought some out and low and behold, it was from Germany and made it the same town that Josh and Lauren went to on their honeymoon and went to the Christmas Markets at.  I bought 2 bottles to surprise them with at my parents home where we will meet them in a few weeks!  I also picked up 3 rounds of Brie cheese, as it is one of my mother's favorites and some pickled asparagus.  I wanted to make things fun and easy for all involved while we are there and this way I can help spoil those I love a bit.  Originally my plans were to stay home that day but there was something telling me that I needed to go in that day and not the next.  I'm glad I did!

   Jeff and I have been wanting to have a date night, but we are trying to avoid going out to eat in restaurants since the covid-19 deaths are going up steeply in our area for some reason.  Yes, we are vaccinated, but we don't want to become any of those breakthrough cases.  I decided that I would cook an amazing steak dinner for the two of us at home.  I found steaks on sale at Grocery Outlet ($7.99 for 2).  I also had found asparagus marked down at Walmart.  Jeremy had given me a new container of sour cream before he left that he was not going to take with him.  I made steaks, broiled asparagus, baked potatoes and I pulled out the rest of the salad that Jeremy had also given to us.  We had a lovely steak dinner for about $10 out of pocket.  That was a huge savings and again, a pivot that paid off in a big way.

   My menu plan was laid out for this week, but I found that I had some broccoli slaw that needed to be used up today. I also have some cheese that needs to be used up ASAP.  So the lasagna that I had planned for tonight's dinner in being moved to another night this week and I am making broccoli cheese soup for dinner instead.  Jeff has not been finishing the two loaves of bread that I make for him weekly before they go moldy since he is now taking leftovers for lunch some days.  I decided that I needed to come up with a plan for the other loaf of bread...I then remembered that I had some leftover cinnamon streusel topping in the freezer that I had made too much of for a previous dessert.  I rolled out the dough for one of the loaves and sprinkled it with the topping, then rolled it back up.  It made the best cinnamon bread!  That definitely will not go to waste.

   I had great plans to get all sorts of projects done here before we headed over to Montana in a few weeks.  Due to helping out the kids and adjusting once again to a higher dosage on my meds (which are leaving me light headed at the moment since I just started this new dosage), some of those plans have either been put on hold or modified.  But you know what, it is okay.  Yes, we are having to stop and pivot, but sometimes it leads to even better things like being able to spend that time with our kids and grandkids and help them out.  It's being able to let go of the "stress" of feeling like you have to get everything done on a tight timetable no matter what.  It's finding alternatives to "date night" out somewhere and being flexible in your menu plans so that you don't end up wasting food.  It's those moments of finding exactly what you want and need at the thrift store or grocery store on sale because you listened to the nudging and changed your plans for the day.  It's also being content at home and rediscovering things that you have at home that you had forgotten about and being able to put things aside that you no longer use to donate to a thrift store that helps people in your community.  With adjusting to this new dosage, it is a blessing not to have to go anywhere because I have everything I need right here at my fingertips because I did stock up ahead of time and got the holiday gift buying done with the exception of a few things that Jeff can pick up on his way home from work.  It's knowing that I can sleep in when needed or even nap and take my day slowly.  So pivot away without guilt because it can lead to even greater blessings!


Thursday, November 4, 2021

Tying Up Loose Ends and Getting My House In Order


   Some days I look out at all there is to do and I just shut down because I am overwhelmed with all there is to do and the lack of energy to get it done.  Today, despite being in a Fibro flare, I decided to just putter along and get some of the smaller tasks done (well smaller compared to reorganizing the pantry and taking inventory of what is in there).  Here are some of the tasks I was able to accomplish...

   We have a wind storm moving in so I went out into the garden between downpours and got all the bits and pieces picked up and taken care of.  I emptied out the smaller pots that had seeds in them that never quite made it and put the dirt in places where, if the seeds decided to make a go of it in the Spring, I would happily welcome them.  I also relocated a huge earthworm out of the seed starter tray into a nice area where he could happily burrow his way down under the dirt.  I found various gardening tools in the front walkway, along with some in the backyard and got those stashed away as well.  The sheet I used to cover my tomato plants was put in a bleach was, along with some cloth facemasks and is now in the dryer.  

   My tomatoes that I harvested when they were green all seem to be ripening at the same time in the house.  I got the ripe ones cut up and they are now in the dehydrator and will be made into tomato powder.  This can be added to soups and stews for extra flavor or reconstituted into tomato paste or sauce.  The tomatoes that I did not get to soon enough were scattered in the garden area where I want to try and grow more tomatoes in hope that they will self seed.  I know I should have tried to just seed save, but let's face it, I am a lazy gardener (and yet again, I hang my head in shame), but that is the reality of my life.

   My newest cast iron pans were all washed and given a good "seasoning" so they are now ready to use.  I still need to go through my kitchen cabinets and take out the pots and pans that I no longer use and get those in a box ready to donate.  I also emptied out the cereal boxes into airtight containers so we can see what we have and they stay fresher that way.  A few things were purged from the refrigerator that were um not good anymore (hanging my head in shame here).  I try to keep up on things but sometimes they do get away from me.

   I sorted through the pile of paper, magazines, etc. that were on the dining room table and tossed all the junk and got the magazines ready to go out to either family or down to the library.  I still have to clean off the rest of the table, but needed a break since my back was not happy with me trying to do so much.

   Tomorrow I up my medication dosage yet again, so I really am trying to get as much done as possible.  This medication does make me sleepy, so I am not sure how I will do with a higher dose.  It usually takes me about a week to two weeks to adjust.  I'm not sure how much I will be able to accomplish in the next few weeks, so I tried to get all the shopping done and find all the gifts and food items that I wanted to get for family before we head to Montana later this month.  The only one I have not figured out yet is something for my brother Fritz.  I think it will come down to the wire for him.  He is hard to buy for because he does not "want" anything, but I still try to get him something because Christmas is his favorite time of the year and I want to bless him.  He has finally just accepted that I am going to do something for him and I know he appreciates it. 😉

   It looks like we have another break in the rain so I need to get out to the garden and harvest the green onions before we have another big freeze.  I may pick some kale and swiss chard and make a soup for dinner tonight with pot stickers and an Asian inspired broth since Jeff will be at bowling league so it will just be me at home for dinner.  I'll be roasting some asparagus I got on clearance too.  I love roasted asparagus and it is yet another thing Jeff does not care for.  I try to treat myself on Thursday nights to foods that I love and he is not so fond of.  It helps me look forward to my Thursday nights as much as he looks forward to his.

   Be blessed all that are reading this and remember to keep yourself safe, healthy and continue stocking those pantries to hedge against inflation, shrinkflation, shortages (yes, we are seeing them here too) and to keep your families well fed, clothed, etc..  Bye for now.