Sunday, September 25, 2022

Frugal Friday Wrap Up 9/23/22




   This is going to be in list form since I was horrible about trying to keep track of what I was doing each day.  Major Fibro Fog due to high stress levels just took me down yet again and I am slowly rebuilding my stamina.  This is something I have learned that I cannot rush or it is a "one step forward two steps back" kind of thing.  I'm trying to keep my sleep schedule semi normal, but there are still nights that despite taking medication to help calm me, I still have a multilane freeway going on in my mind.  Such is life and I cannot stress about the fact that it just happens, or it makes it worse.  This is NOT a "feel sorry for me" post, just the opposite.  It is an acceptance of what my life is and it feels good to finally be able to not put more pressure upon myself.  😊 It has taken me a long time to finally get to this point (many, many years) and I am proud of myself for finally getting here.  Yes, I still get frustrated at what I cannot do, but I no longer beat myself up about it.  There is always going to be stresses in life, but I no longer add to it by feeling guilty about that stress affecting me...does that make sense?


   Anyway, that is not what this post is really about is it?  πŸ˜‰ It's about how we have been trying to save money and live a frugal life.  Is it just me or has anyone else noticed how much grocery prices are jumping up more and more quickly?  Oh my goodness, I was shocked at my bill at Winco the other day.  I paid at least twice what I did for the same items just a few months ago!  Not only that, but my coffee, the Winco house brand, not only went up in price by $2 a can, but they also shrank the can.  Seriously, I kid you not!  I am trying to get ahead of the holidays and stock up on things that we need for those celebrations, along with getting all the gifts for the grandkids.  Anyone else doing this?  Anyway, onto the frugal doings...





~I found some Sesame Street board books for our little grandson Tate.  He loves Sesame Street!  I found the books at the Dollar Tree.

~I stocked up on 40 pounds of flour.  It was cheaper to get it in the 10 pound bags than any other way.  I got them all emptied into washed out food grade buckets with tight fitting lids that I had previously gotten free from Safeway.

~Jeff and I picked all the pears off the trees.  We got a bucket full this year, which is more than we have gotten in previous years.

~I went to Jeff's work for a free BBQ lunch and also got some beautiful robin egg blue paint for half price to paint our front door with.

~I sent some tomatoes to work with Jeff for our friend Dee.  I have an abundance of tomatoes and I wanted to bless her.

~The green larger tomatoes were all picked since the bugs were starting to really get to them with the weather getting colder at night.  They will slowly ripen here in the house.

~Blackberries, blackberries, blackberries!  Oh we have so many!  Jeff and I have both been picking them like crazy.  Most of them are being frozen for me to make jams/jellies, pies and syrups.  I have also been gorging myself on them fresh!

~We finally used up the last of our Montana Huckleberry potatoes.  They were delicious!  We did find that they are not good "keepers" for storage, so we know that we will need to grow some additional good "keeper" type next years also.

~We skipped the county fair this year, even if it was free to get into.  One of the customers that came into the store Jeff works at said that he spent $400 😬at the fair for food and rides.  He also said it was so crowded and they waited for an hour per ride.  Now Jeff and I do not do the rides, but I also do not do huge crowds!  It will send me into a panic attack, and nobody needs that.

~I froze some over-ripe bananas to use later for bread.

~More loaves of my homemade bread were made and quickly consumed.




~I have been planning meals around what we have and needs used up in the fridge and freezer.  Some of the meals we have had were a Sloppy Joe noodle casserole, Little Smokies sausages in the BBQ sauce, grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches, broccoli cheese soup and pulled pork sandwiches.  I served these with side dishes of carrot sticks, sauteed squash from our garden, sliced crisp apples, green beans, and coleslaw.

~Kitty TV once again entertained my indoor cats.  I love YouTube and apparently, they do too. πŸ˜‰

~My dear friend/sistah Roni (also known as my boys "other mother" and I am know as the same for her girls) came over for a girls' night.  We had soup and she brought carrot cake and macaroons for dessert.  Delicious and so good to have some time to just sit. relax and catch up on each other's lives.

~We have been waiting for the new "Rise of Gru" Minion movie to come out on one of our streaming services and it finally did!  Jeff and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

~Jeff fashioned a blackberry picking container out of an old coffee can and a bracket.  He hangs it on the fence as he picks.  Genius I tell ya!

~They had lots of leftover frozen burgers and chips at Jeff's work so they have been BBQing burgers for lunch for the employees and having them bring home some of the chips.

~I thought the microphone on my computer had pooped out on me and tried for hours to figure it how to fix it.  I talked to Josh about it and he offered me his old Macbook to use so we could still do facetimes with Tate.  I did finally figure it out and restored my computer's microphone, but Josh still wants me to bring home the Macbook just in case.





      So that is what we have been up to.  The garden is still producing more cherry tomatoes, squash and blackberries.  The acorn squash continues to grown and I am still praying we get some before the frost hits here.  Jeff has been working on winterizing our house, hot tub and buying more wood pellets to heat with. I've been puttering around and slowly changing out the pictures and flowers over to Fall themed ones.  Soon the new rug will go down in the living room after this (hopefully) last heat wave we are due to be getting starting today.  I am happy for the slower pace of Fall and the shorter days and longer nights.  It just makes me feel more comfy cozy. 😊Be blessedf my sweet friends!





Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Fall is Finally in the Air and some Thrifting

 




  Fall has finally made its way into the Pacific Northwest and I could not be happier.  Last night we had some rain that knocked down some of the smoke from all the wildfires burning around us.  The air felt crisp, clean and clear as I let the cats out into the back porch this morning.  I decided to join them there and have my coffee while enjoying the cooler clean air.  I breathed in deeply, something I have not been able to do while outside for what seems like an eternity.


   After my coffee, I got the sheets into the washer.  I also made plans for switching out the quilt on the guest bed to one in green tones that my mother made.  I love handmade quilts that hold memories and make you feel like you are wrapped up in the hugs of some of the precious people that spent their time in making them.  I think I will also change out the extra blanket in there that I always keep on the bed to a green one to match the quilt.


   Yesterday Jeff and I went into town to get me out of the house for a bit and pick up a few groceries.  I asked him if we could stop at two of my favorite thrift stores.  I was looking for some decorative plates in a Fall theme that I could hang in my kitchen.  I have been having a wonderful time switching out plates per season, but I had not had any luck finding some in the Fall like colors. 


   Upon my arrival at the first thrift store, I found two matching plates that were perfect for my Fall plate display.  I shared a picture of one of the plates above.  It was made by Johnson Brothers and I just love it.  I got my new to me plates put up in my kitchen now and am enjoying them immensely.  


   The second thrift store I went to is where I found a blanket that I had been eying for over a month now finally marked down to half price.  It is in what I call the "lumberjack" red and black wool pattern.  I had been wanting it to add to my winter cozy and cuddle up decor and for people to be able to use when they came to visit.  I also found a silk scarf that I am in love with and will be taking with me on my trip down to Las Vegas later this Fall.  I love silk for its beauty, softness, warmth and its breathability.


   Habitat for Humanity's resale store is where we really scored though.  I had been unhappy with a lamp we bought for the dining room since it gave off a "buzzing sound" and was not exactly what I wanted.  We stopped in and were greeted with big hugs from one of Jeff's former coworkers, Mike, who is now the manager there.  We found the light fixture that I wanted for $20 and also found fuses for our garage's fuse box (it takes the old screw in fuses).  Mike gave us the fuses for .25 each!  We got all that they had (5 in total) and an electrical adapter that we also needed.


   Now for the grocery shopping, I found a package of 2 rather large, marinated pork roasts marked down to $7.33.  This was an amazing deal!  As soon as we got home, I got both the roasts put into my slow cooker and set it on high.  They completely filled the crockpot.  I flipped them over a couple of times while they were cooking and then, when done, shredded them both up and then put it all into the refrigerator. I now have a very nice meal for us tonight of pulled pork sandwiches, along with leftovers. There are some hamburger buns that I needed to use up ASAP, so the pulled pork will go on them and I will serve it with homemade coleslaw and homemade applesauce on the side.  I also packaged up and put away 2 bags full for other meals.  Quick meals in the freezer are such a blessing since I can just pull them out for us or for someone else that may need a meal.


   Well, that is it for now.  I have things to get done before the hubby comes home later after work.  Luckily, because of the rain, watering can be taken off my "to do" list for today.  Since Jeff picked blackberries for me yesterday, I don't have to do that today either.  We have already frozen a bunch and we are just at the beginning of the harvest season for them.  I'm going to make more blackberry infused gin or vodka, since that came out so well last year.


   Be blessed my sweet friends!


   

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

When Your Heart Yearns for Things Unseen


 


   Lately my heart has been yearning for something...something unseen.  I can't quite put my finger on it other than I want that feeling of peace, comfort and safety.  I used to feel safe in this little town that I love, but it has changed, and not for the better.  I keep my doors locked even during the day because I am afraid someone may come barging in.  I am also afraid of what may happen due to the "extracurricular activities" of some people who live near me.


   The feelings of not being safe started when Uncle Bob's son came into my home in a rage and was threatening me.  I have not had anything to do with that awful man since then and I hope I never have to.  I do know that Uncle Bob read him the riot act for what he did to me though.  He "apologized" because his father told him to.  He also made excuses for his behavior, so it was a non-apology in my books.


   I have known of the drug activity taking place in our little town and have seen first-hand the comings and goings of certain individuals.  These people are all connected to other people that my son Chris, the police officer, has dealings with on a regular basis.  The other day I heard a police car siren and it stopped here in town.  I just found out this morning that it was because of a home invasion and armed robbery.  The robbery took place due to money being owed for drugs.  The people who committed the robbery were arrested when they got back to Pullman, where they lived.  I know the person who's home was robbed, along with his family.  His ex-wife and I are friends and I taught his kids, along with one of the kids of his current girlfriend.  My heart breaks for all the kids (who are now adults).  They have gone through it with the drug addiction and selling of drugs by their parents.  


   This is a small town with a population of a little over 600 people.  Most of them are decent and hardworking.  They want to raise their kids in a "safe" environment, or they are like Jeff and I... getting into our retirement years.  I also see the pain and destruction that a few "bad apples" have and continue to cause.  It also puts me into a constant stage of high alert, which is not healthy for me.


   I want to feel safe and calm.  I don't want to have to worry about my home being broken into because someone needs "drug money" and thinks they can find things here to sell to get that money.  I don't want to have to worry about seeing a well known drug dealer's car in my neighborhood at all hours of the day and night.  I don't want to see people under the influence of drugs driving their children and grandchildren around either. 😟 And yes, the police are well aware of what is going on.  They have been for years and years now.


   I yearn for a place where I am able to relax and not have to worry about all of the above.  I yearn for a feeling of calm, peace and safety.  Unfortunately, we are not in a position to be able to move out into the country like both Jeff and I would like.  It is like that unattainable beautiful dream that you long for instead of the nightmare that you find yourself trying to wake up from.  That is the best way that I know to describe how I am feeling right now.


   Praying for all of my sweet friends that read this and I do apologize that it is not a bright and cheery post.  I just needed to put down in words what I am feeling right now, at this very moment.  Be blessed, stay safe and know that you are all amazing!


   


   


   

Friday, September 2, 2022

Frugal Friday Wrap Up 8/26/22

 


~We shopped at the thrift stores and found some prepackaged quilt batting (I will give them to my mother who is a quilter), lots of interesting books, a picture frame, some china (one with my Scottish Campbell clan crest and tartan pattern on it), a nice basket, and a few other items.

~Always on the lookout for great deals, I found packages of pork and beef tamales on sale for $7.99.  These are the good ones in the corn husks.  I brought them home and repackaged them into 4 meals for us and then popped them in the freezer.

~Sunday I surprised Jeff with a day that was just all about him.  I made him promised that he could not say "no" before I told him that we were going to take him to the bowling alley so he could practice and try to see if he could bowl with his other hand since he was having pain in the one he usually bowls with.  It worked!  It was so much fun to watch my hubby so excited and figuring out how to "tweak" this approach and positioning of the ball.  We did go out to lunch, again his choice of places.  It was a fairly cheap "date" since we went out to lunch and not dinner and I picked something inexpensive but yummy from the menu and Jeff got league rates for his bowling games. Once we got home, I gave him a haircut. We then settled in with a snacky kind of dinner and watched a few of our favorite shows.

~Monday, I made Pasta Primavera with produce from our garden.  It made for a very frugal and yummy dinner!

~I did not hang the sheets out to dry this week.  With the flea beetles being so bad, I did not want to risk the possibilities of them getting on my sheets.  The "ick factor" overruled the frugal factor.  LOL! πŸ˜‰

~I'm continuing to harvest tomatoes, squash and the last of the blueberries from the garden.  I noticed that the blackberries are starting to ripen, and I am very excited about that!

~Jeff's cousin's wife Janine and I had a wonderful talk over the phone.  She is an amazing, kind and caring woman and we have so much in common.  It just made my day!

~Tuesday's dinner was teriyaki chicken and pineapple meatballs in teriyaki sauce that I added half of a yellow onion all cut up, and a small cut up zucchini to help "bulk it up" and add some more nutrition to our meal.  I served this over rice and had carrot sticks and crisp apple slices on the side.  Yummy!

~Steven and I went out to our garage and dug out my backpack so I could get it all washed up and ready for our trip later this Fall. 

~Wednesday Steven and I went to the swimming pool.  It was $4 for the both of us.  Not a bad way to spend the afternoon on a hot day.

~Leftovers were for dinner Wednesday night.

~Steven brought his puppy Gus over to play on Friday when he came to spend the day with me.  It was so nice to have Gus around.

~We went next door to "Auntie" Shannon's to see the frogs.  Steven had been patiently waiting to see the tadpoles turn into frogs.

~Jeff brought home dinner for us from Panda Express on Friday.  It had been a long and emotional day for me and I was just spent.








Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Surround Yourself with Things You Love

 



   Since I was a little girl I have always dreamed of having a Pegge Hopper painting or print.  Pegge Hopper was my favorite artist who painted gorgeous Polynesian women.  I grew up seeing her original paintings at the resort my father managed.  She and my father became friends as he commissioned more paintings for the resort.  When my father retired, she painted an original painting for him.  What an amazing gift!  It now hangs proudly in my baby brother's house since both he and his wife were born and raised in Hawaii.


   So, for years I have been on the hunt for a print or original painting of Pegge Hopper's to have for my very own.  Imagine my sheer delight when I spotted this beauty tucked in way up high hiding behind a bunch of junk at a thrift store.  I had some taller men get it down for me and we tried to make out the signature since it was faded.  I was sure it was a Pegge Hopper so I bought it, brought it home, researched it and found out I had scored me a Pegge Hopper!  My childhood dreams had come true!  


   Now I know that not everyone would be as thrilled as I am given that it is a bit sun faded, but for me it transports me back in time to my childhood.  The resort, where I first saw Pegge Hopper's work and later where I saw similar paintings (like the one above) she did later in my teens, was my second home.  It was not your typical high rise run of the mill place...oh no.  It was modeled after the different styles of traditional Polynesian houses from all over the pacific.  There were individual thatched hales (bungalows) scattered among tropical gardens, some with sea views and others with garden or pond views.  There were hammocks on the beach or under big trees to take naps on or just lay there and look up at the sky and daydream.  There were the petroglyph fields to explore (I even discovered some new one that had not been found yet by the resort staff and my father was thrilled).  In the early days there were wild goats and donkeys to catch and relocate to safer places.  Long walks along the beach discovering shells or just looking out across the ocean and listening the the waves lap up onto the shoreline were a perfect escape from some of the chaos that was going on in my childhood.  I learned to sail the Sunfish sailboats, snorkel, play with the manta rays at night that would come in to feed and made lots of friends over the years.  Some of those friends became part of our "family" and would later come to Jeff and my wedding and then spend time with Jeff, our kids and I, along with my parents up in Montana.  


   For me, the signed print above is more than just a piece of art.  It is a link to my childhood and the people and places I loved.  Some of those people have passed on and the resort, as I knew it, was destroyed by the big tsunami that hit both Japan and Hawaii.  The resort is finally being rebuilt, but the original buildings had to be torn down to begin with.  There are now new buildings in a different and more "uniform" style.  Although they are beautifully done, it is not the same place that I grew up at running freely as a child along the paths and creating of the best memories of my life.  Some of the paintings that I looked at in my childhood that led me to my love of Pegge's artwork did survive and were put in storage.  They will grace the new buildings in some way, I am sure.  They were an integral part of the history and beauty of the resort and I know the former guests that are waiting to go back have made it clear they want to see them again.  Luckily the new owners of the resort were former guests there also, so they know how important these paintings are.


   The print above now hangs in our guest bedroom, where I usually sleep since Jeff flips and flops a lot at night and which leaves me exhausted since he wakes me up each time he does it.  I can see it each morning as soon as I open my eyes to greet the new day and it just makes me feel calm inside.  Calmness is something that in the past did not come easily to me in the mornings.  Now it does because I see something of beauty that transports me back in time to a place I loved first thing in the morning.  I think we all need some things in our lives that remind us of happier and calmer times, especially now with the way things are going in the world.  I see the print above as a gift from God that came right when I needed it most. So my message to anyone reading this is to surround yourself with things that you love and have meaning to you.  It will make for a happier you!

Monday, August 22, 2022

Frugal Friday Wrap Up 8/19/22




   Since I have been "absent" for awhile, this post will be about some of the frugal doings over the past few weeks that I did not share.  I hope no one minds. πŸ˜‰ 


~Jeff defrosted our big upright freezer and we went through it.  I found so many things in there that got shoved to the back.  I pulled out rhubarb (I got none fresh out of my garden this year so to find a huge stash from last year was a blessing), pulled BBQed chicken, homemade mac and cheese, homemade applesauce, some TV dinners and a few other items to use for meals this week.

~The past few weeks I have been trying my best to make our food stretch.  I've made homemade chicken noodle soup after we ate off a rotisserie chicken for a few meals, smoke sausage jambalaya with leftover smoked sausages from a previous meal, cheeseburger casserole, and a few other yummy dishes.




~I finally had enough summer squash at one time to make my favorite squash casserole.

~The potatoes we grew were dug up and cured.  We had some for a meal and still have more for future meals.  They were small but so good!

~The Walla Walla Sweet onions were all harvested and are now curing on the back porch.  They are so good!

~Several gallons of raspberries have been harvested and frozen along with many that we eaten fresh and shared with others.

~My blueberries have been doing better this year than any previous year.




~I'm seed saving kale and pea seeds.

~Our tomato plants have been keeping us in tomatoes!

~I've hung out the laundry to dry on the line a lot.

~Jeff brought home a heavy-duty garden cart that was missing the hardware...they were going to throw it out at work and gave it to him instead.  He knew I had always wanted one.  He was able to build it using almost all with hardware he had on hand.  I am so tickled to finally have one to haul garden waste and produce around the garden.  I think it is going to be great for hauling wood pellets for our pellet stove too.




~Shannon ( hanai sister) went to the Oregon coast and brough me back some fresh saltwater taffy as a gift.  It is so yummy!

~Jeff and I have been watching movies here at home and making popcorn to have with it.  

~We "shook the pig"!  We have a huge piggy bank that is the size of a medium sized dog that sits in our living room.  We routinely put spare change in Preston and calling it feeding the pig.  Our grandson Steven loves to do this with Jeff's spare change that he leaves ut for him to find when he comes here.  Well we had over $50 in change so we rolled it all up in coin wrappers and took it into the bank and traded it for much lighter to carry paper bills.πŸ˜‰ We at first were going to use it to go to the movies, but decided to continue to pick up things that we needed for our home and to further stock our pantry.  I found boneless, skinless chicken breasts marked down and got the family packs for under $5 each.  I divided up each pack and froze 9 of the breasts individually and used one that evening as part of our meal.  It has been a long time since I have been able to find a good deal on chicken and would have bought more packages, but there was a limit of 2 per person.




~We went to some yard sales and I found brand new with tags outfits for our granddaughter Peyton.  Yes, I realize she has not even been born yet, but Grammie has got her "shop on" when it comes to finally getting a granddaughter.  LOL!

~I also bought clothes for Steven at Walmart and Bradley and Isaiah each picked something out at Ross (on sale of course) for themselves.  They are at that age now where they have very specific tastes in clothing.

~We are continuing to listen to what the grandboys want and have already bought some of those items for them for Christmas.  We shop way ahead of time when we can find a great deal on something.

~Steven came this week to stay with me for two days.  He helped me with some projects around the house and we spent lots of time playing and just enjoying each others company.  He was thrilled when I gave him a large gallon sized Ziplock bag of brand new pencils with cool designs to use for school.  He is starting Kindergarten at the end of this month!  




~I made some chocolate pudding since we are having another heat wave and I wanted something cool for dessert.  Jeff was really happy about that.

~The flea beetles are attacking my garden and seem to prefer the kale.  I am hoping they will just get their fill of the kale and leave the rest alone.  Flea beetles only attack our gardens when we are in a drought situation so I knew that they would show up at some point.  This has put the kibosh on planting any more leafy Fall crops until the flea beetles have left.

~I trimmed my bangs.





      This Summer has just flown by and it has been a doozy.  From Jeff's mom dying (and all the family drama that brought with it), certain crop failures in the garden, battling pests, enjoying time with my Steven 2 days a week (exhausting but absolutely wonderful), huge mix ups with transferring my prescriptions to a Walmart in another town (3 months of trying to get everything straightened out), the heat outside taking me down multiple times, etc.. I'm sad my time with having Steven here weekly is coming to a close and that I did not see my oldest two grandsons, Bradley and Isaiah, nearly enough.  I had planned on having a backyard campout with the grandkids, but trying to figure out everyone's busy schedule has made that impossible.  Hopefully I can still make it happen in the early Fall...that will be fun!  Be blessed!








Tuesday, August 16, 2022

A HUGE Thank You!

 




   I wanted to say a HUGE thank you to all of you who commented, prayed for and/or held our family in your thoughts after the recent passing of Jeff's mother.  I know it has taken me awhile to get back on here, but I was and still am totally "beat up" emotionally by the whole mess.  When I have to deal with complicated relationships and emotions, it takes me awhile to work through them.


   Last night Jeff and I were talking and I shared with him that although he was able to process things faster than I was because he could see the truth of it all (yes, that man is super smart and can separate his emotions from a situation to see the big picture), it took me a lot longer to reach that point.  It was only when we were talking that I finally realized that my deep empathy for others when they were hurting, no matter how much they had hurt those I love and myself, can be a huge curse at times.  I told Jeff that there is something deep within me that feels like I have to try everything I can to "fix it" and bring people back together again.  Jeff interrupted me and said "you did".  That stopped me dead in my tracks because it made me realize that although I tried everything, the other parties continued their bad and hurtful behavior.  There was and is nothing I can do to "fix it" and to continue to try and to do so is just insanity on my part.


   Without going into all the sordid details of this whole mess and the battle taking place between "the others", of which we want no part, suffice it to say that all of this has triggered a rather bad "fibro flare" along with some of my PTSD symptoms.  My pain levels have shot up (fibro), my emotions have been all over the place, there are times that I have no energy and am depressed, sad, angry and strangely relieved.  I have withdrawn from all but family and a few close friends who are going through a lot themselves and need support, and am avoiding other people for the most part because I need to heal too.  My energy needs to go into those I love and the running of my home.


   I realize that it may take awhile to fully heal and that it is possible that I may never get to that point.  I think there may always be an element of hurt and betrayal from all the years of pure hell that "the others" put us through.  I also know that I need to "shut the door" on that chapter of our lives and move on.  Easier said than done, but I am trying.


   Again, thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your outpouring of love, support, prayers and good thoughts.  I am praying for your situations too and I am so sorry for all that some of you have gone through.   ((((((HUGS)))))


   

Monday, August 1, 2022

Death in the Family




     My MIL passed away a little over the week ago and we found out by "accident".  For those of you who have read my blog for a long time, you know that our relationship with her, Jeff's siblings and his father had been strained for years and then it became nonexistent. 


   Despite all of this, it still hurts to learn of her death.  There are so many mixed emotions.  The game playing still has continued by certain parties and Jeff and I want no part of it.  My heart breaks for my husband, sons, and nieces, as well as for my FIL.  I feel bad that Jeff's siblings have lost their mother, and my heart goes out them, but based on their past behavior, Jeff wants nothing to do with them at this time.  I will support my husband in however he chooses to deal with this, and I will do the same for my sons.


   I'm trying to deal with my own emotions too.  They are all over the place including anger, hurt, feeling of past betrayal, pain and sorrow.  I was deeply hurt by her and it is something that sent me into a huge spiral of depression, and I hit the lowest point I ever have in my life emotionally.  Luckily my husband and my doctors were very supportive and got me the help that I needed through medication and counseling.  I am so thankful to them all.


   Anyway, that is why I have been absent.  thank you all for understanding.


Friday, July 22, 2022

Frugal Friday Wrap Up 7/22/22

 



  Oh Smoothies!  Our Smoothie obsession has continued since this picture was taken in late June.  It is wonderful to see Steven really enjoying fruit.  Last year it was hard to find things that he would eat.  Now he is eating raspberries, cherries and strawberries from the garden and eagerly awaiting the ripening of the apples so he can help me make applesauce.  He also has been on a bagel with cream cheese kick, so I try to keep them on hand for him.


Onto the frugal doings for the week:

~Steven and I had a water fight and used some of the water from the rain barrels for it.  It watered the lawn and we both got nicely cooled off.  I have not been in a water gun fight since I was a child.  It was so much fun for both of us and I laughed so much that I triggered my costochondritis symptoms.  Was it worth it?  Totally! πŸ˜†

~We have been harvesting cherries, strawberries, raspberries, peas and a few tomatoes from the garden.

~Steven and I gave the Walla Walla Sweet Onions a "haircut" of their green tops.  We dehydrated them and turned them into onion powder.

~Our squash plants are putting on some squash that should be ready within the next few days.  YUM!

~I've continued to shop sale items to stock my pantry and made yet another trip on Thursday to the store that is going out of business.  I got some grocery items for 75% off, so I stocked up on baking supplies like 1 pound bags of yeast for $1.25 each, crystalized dried fruit for cake toppings and muffins, and also got more gravy mixes and Chinese Duck seasonings.  I almost forgot to include the malt vinegar that I love to use on fried fish.

~I pulled out the lettuce that went to bolt and will be using that area to plant Swiss Chard that can handle the colder Fall weather along with the heat of the Summer.

~Jeff and I bought more bags of garden soil and stored it in the greenhouse.

~Jeff and I had a "lunch date" on Thursday and went to our favorite Irish Pub.  I noticed considerably less people there for lunch than I have seen on previous weekdays during the Summer months.  Our waitress was handing all the serving, clean up and the bar by herself and doing a great job at it.  We left her a generous tip hoping that it would really bless her.

~We went to my favorite used book store and found a book that I have been looking for on the sale shelves.  I got it for $2!

~When it is hot, dinner sometimes is not something that I have put much effort into.  However, I have tried to keep things to make sandwiches, Greek yogurt and fresh fruit, and have been using the Air Fryer and the slow cooker more often.  

~Jeff has been wonderful about picking up groceries at the store for me.

~Last weekend we had a birthday party for Rachel and myself at Heather and Chris's place.  Heather made the best cake for me and a lemon meringue  pie for Rachel and a dozen mocha cinnamon rolls as a gift.  We had homemade pizzas and people brought toppings and salads to share.  It was a small family party with Heather's parents and grandma joining us as I had asked for. It was so much fun and low key, just the way I like it.

~I am loving the cotton dresses that I got at Walmart for $3 each and picked up another in a soft green color while they still had them.

~Steven and I are trying to take long walks in the mornings when he is here if I am feeling up to it.  We usually end up at the park at some point, which is a real treat for him. 😊

~I used diatomaceous earth to treat some plants that were being eaten by something or other.


   There are many other things that we are continuing to do like hang laundry out on the line, watering at night, and trying to limit trips in my car.  We are going to have to try to buckle down even more because Josh and Lauren want us to come down to Vegas in November to meet our new granddaughter Peyton shortly after she is born and spend time with both her and Tate.  They have offered to pay for half of our airfare, which is an amazing and generous gift.  I am thinking if we are able to do this, that we will have an early Christmas while we are there.  Our Lauren is Christmas Crazy, so she will be more than happy to be able to celebrate early!


   Be blessed my friends!






   


Monday, July 18, 2022

Frugal Friday Wrap Up 7/15/22

 



~We went to the Farmer's Market over the weekend and bought some gifts for Christmas there.  Amazing handmade and beautiful items abounded and it was so hard to choose.  We are trying to support the local farmers and artists in our area.

~Lots of laundry was hung out to dry over the week.

~Steven and I went swimming several times and worked on his swimming skills.

~Walmart is having some amazing Summer clearance sales.  I was able to get some underwear for Jeff at half price, along with some shirts for him for $3 each.  I also found a shirt for Steven for $1, shirts for me for $1 and two dresses for $3 each.  Our little granddaughter, Payton (who will be making her grand entrance into the world in late November), will have some very adorable outfits too!  While there, we picked up 12 bags of topsoil to use early next Spring.  The price was under $3 a bag, so we got what we needed now.

~Steven and I spent last Friday shopping in the morning.  One of the grocery stores in a town that we shop in is going out of business, so we got many items for 40% off to add to the pantry.

~Dollar Tree was a great place to stop by for my favorite toothpaste (charcoal whitening stuff that really works) and a few other items.

~I found a new roll up blind for the kitchen on clearance.

~Goodwill had 2 movies I wanted and a whole bag of kitchen items for $5.98.  In that bag was a canning lid lifter, mesh coffee filter that will fit my coffee maker, many hand carved and gorgeous salad servers and butter paddles, can openers, a collapsible cup (boy did that bring back memories for Jeff and I of our childhood scouting years), an old fashioned whisk like the ones I grew up using, and a mystery item that I have no idea what it is and can't find an answer even with a google picture search.

~Strawberries, peas, raspberries and our first tomatoes are starting to come out of the garden.  We are still getting lettuce and kale too.

~I've been really hunting out the deals grocery wise and building my menus around that and what we have on hand that needs to be used up and/or what we have coming out of the garden.  I just made a broccoli slaw using a package of marked down broccoli slaw mix, and items that I had here at home.  Dried cranberries, green onions from the garden and crumbled turkey bacon, along with sunflower kernels and a homemade dressing all went into it and made for a wonderful lunch with lots left over to enjoy over the next few days.

~Jeff and I are making a conscious effort to cut back on our meat portions so that we are not eating more than our bodies need.  He eats peanut butter almost daily too, so I am not worried that he is not going to get enough protein. 

~I know that I do not drink enough water during the day so I made myself a daily chart to check off 6 glasses of water each day as I drink them.  This helps me a lot because I tend to forget to drink water and I know I need to.

~Uncle Bob blessed Jeff with $60 for helping him put together an outdoor swing and told Jeff to take me out to dinner with it. That was so very sweet of him because Jeff and I do not go out to dinner much anymore.  We chose to go out to lunch at one of our favorite Mexican places that holds special memories for us. Neither of us could finish our meals so we brought the leftovers home and had them for lunch the next day.

~I remade leftovers into new meals several times over.

~A dear friend let me borrow a book from her that I wanted to read.

~We are being wiser with our money and where we keep it.  If you see what is happening with banking, not only in the USA and Canada,  you will understand what I am saying. πŸ˜‰ 

~I used a Walla Walla sweet onion from the garden in one of our dinners. I also cut up and froze the green tops to use in other meals.

~It got super hot quickly this week.  I got the house cooled way down at night and then closed it up during the day to keep the cool air in for most of the day before I had to turn the swamp cooler on again.

~Steven and I headed back into town this Wednesday.  The grocery store that is going out of business is now 50% off groceries.  We picked up some more shelf stable items like coffee, boxed potato mixes, and a few other items.  We also went back to Walmart and got another Summer dress for me at $3 and a shirt for Isaiah for $3 for his upcoming birthday.  Safeway was our next stop for sale priced items like cheese and plums.

~Steven and I also went next door to see Auntie Shannon and took her a Walla Walla sweet onion from our garden.  Steven had a great time playing with her cats and dogs and even got to see that some of the tadpoles in her pond are now getting their legs!

~Thursday was my "at home and alone day" so I slept in and then had coffee on the porch in the cool hours of morning before the temperature started to climb.  I love being able to sit out there and just relax, listen to the birds and have my cats join me while the world around me is still peaceful.













Monday, July 11, 2022

Sometimes the Truth is Hard to Swallow

 


   I have been holding out hope that someone I love had escaped from a certain personality trait that is hurtful not only to others, but to themselves as well.  I have prayed for them for years as they grew up, but sadly they too are now showing this whole trait in full color.  πŸ˜”  It honestly breaks my heart because I know what is ahead for them.  It makes me wonder too if we had been allowed to be an active part of their lives, if we could have made a difference in the direction that their lives have taken.  


   Do I still love them?  Of course I do.  Will they be an active part of our lives?  No...but that is by their choice and all the love in the world that we have for them is not going to change anything for them, or for us.


   It does make me sad though.  I had hoped that the outcome would have been different but sadly that was not to be.

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

And He's Out Mowing Again!

 Men are Crazy!  😜


 Yes, you got that right, men are crazy!  Jeff is out mowing the lawn once again.  He is finally feeling a bit better, but I worry that he is pushing himself too much.  He tested positive for covid yet again yesterday and he is still coughing and congested.  However, he is returning to work tomorrow, with his boss's blessing (and relief if I am to be completely honest since one of his coworkers is also out with this).  He will be wearing a mask.


  I am still not having symptoms and I did test negative for it.  Hallelujah!  Heather's grandmother also did not get it, even though many of the family did get it at the funeral.  I am so glad...that would be the last thing that Sandra needs right now as she tries to sort out things.


   I do want to thank all of you who have commented and have been praying and sending good thoughts.  They are so appreciated!   (((((HUGS)))))


   Since we were stuck here at home, Jeff and I both worked on some projects indoors for the most part since we also had rain for 3 days and he was feeling pretty crappy for a good amount of the time.  I tried to get him to rest as much as possible though and I think he enjoyed his naps. πŸ˜‰  I took advantage of the time also to take some naps myself.  We did sleep in separate rooms so as not to disturb one another's sleep and to try to keep me from getting it.


   Our cold weather clothing was all finally put away and the warmer weather clothing gotten out.  We got some donate, rag and sell bags ready as we sorted through our clothing. Bread was made, as well as some comfort foods and we watched movies here at home.  Laundry was done on the days when it was nice and hung out on the line to dry.  I worked on fertilizing the tomato plants and did some weeding.  Jeff also did some weeding and totally wore himself out and set himself back early on.


   Today is the first day since he got this that I actually blew dry my hair and did not just let it air dry.  I feel like myself again.  I took care with how I dressed and did not just put on comfy old t-shirts.  I have earrings on too!  I think I may go and pick some roses from the garden and make a bouquet for the house.  Steven will be able to come over again on Friday to spend the day with Grammie...that is the absolute best part!  I have missed having my bubby with me.


  I am not trying to push myself too hard today either.  I've got a pork casserole thingy going in the crockpot and will serve that over mashed potatoes, and serve a salad from the garden on the side.  Yes, our lettuce is still good for the most part and has not gone bitter yet.  We would have some strawberries to go with it, but I ate those fresh out of the garden this morning.  Jeff is not a fan and Steven was not here to get them first.  LOL!  I will make sure to save the ones that are ripening now for him to find on Friday.


   Again, thank you all so much!



Friday, July 1, 2022

Covid has Struck YUCK!

 




   Well it finally happened.  Covid has struck on the home front.  Apparently the funeral for Heather's grandfather Carl was a super spreader event.  Everyone there seemed healthy, but by Tuesday, several people started feeling ill, followed by others the following days.  My guess is that someone was asymptomatic at the time of the funeral and had no idea they were sick.


   Jaysn, Rachel and Jeff all tested positive.  Steven's test was not considered accurate since they could not get a good sample from him.  I have not tested, as have others that were there, but some of them have symptoms also and are just assuming they have it.  I'm not feeling all that great today, but I do not know if I am getting it or if it is just my fibro flaring up yet again.  Some of the people who have it have been vaccinated, and some have not.  The three in our family that I know for sure have it all have been vaccinated.  We know though that the newer variants in this area are not respecting the vaccine. πŸ˜–


   Jeff had already taken today, Friday, off for a vacation day, but had to take yesterday off also.  So much for a vacation right?  He does not have "sick time" at his work, so he has to use his paid time off that he has accrued to cover this.  I am hoping that by Tuesday he will be over this and test negative so he can go back to work.  This leads me to why we all need to be prepared to the best of our ability for just about anything life throws our way.


   Because we have been diligent in trying to have our bills paid ahead of time, if at all possible, we are not in panic mode about that.  We are waiting for the credit card bill to come in, but luckily, that is being paid down quickly also.  I need to remind Jeff that since it is through our credit union, that I can just pay it straight out of our checking account online.  Our property taxes were also just paid off for the year and our expenses are not high right at the moment.


   We have a fully stocked medicine cabinet with all the things you need to combat covid at home.  We also have all the medications that I need for daily use here and have built up a bit of a surplus of them too over the past 2 years.  That is a huge blessing!


   Food wise, we are just fine.  Our pantry is well stocked, as are the freezers.  The garden is producing strawberries, herbs, spinach and lettuce at the moment, so we are good there too.  I make our bread, and have everything on hand to continue to do that for months on end.  I'm going to make a casserole or something today that we can eat on for a few days in case I get sick too.  


   Entertainment is not a problem with all the movies, books and streaming services (all free) that we have here.  My friend Ami had also lent me a book that I wanted to read, so this is the perfect time to do that.  I think the harder part is keeping Jeff from going stir crazy since he is looking outside at the grass that needs to be mowed and really wants to be out there doing it right this moment.  We are expecting rain in a few days so he is feeling the pressure.  I wish he would just relax a bit more, but he is a stubborn man. πŸ˜‰ I do love him with all my heart though.


   I am praying that none of you end up with this new round of covid.  I just wish it would go away.  Be blessed all, stay healthy, cool, look for the silver linings in life.



   

Monday, June 27, 2022

Thank You All and Some Frugal Doings Lately

 




   I wanted to thank all of you who have reached out to me and have been keeping our family in your prayers.  It really means the world to me to know that we have prayers and good thoughts coming our way.   ((((((((HUGS))))))  I did finally get to chat with my sister, which just helped relieve some of the stress there.  The news was not good health wise, but we are praying she gets through this and she is one determined lady, so if anyone can beat it, she can!  We laid Carl to rest on Saturday and his service was full of love, laughter, shared memories and yes, some tears too.  They showed a slide show of his life and I was amazed at how much Heather's brother's 2 youngest sons look like their great grampa Carl at the same ages!  Joby, the youngest of the boys was just tickled when I told him that. 😊  I have not heard from my friend recently, but I heard from a mutual friend that she has accepted the Lord as her Saviour, and I pray that is true.  The other situation has to deal with my husband's family, and it is still not something that we want to be dragged into, so we have opted to just continue to stay out of it.  There is nothing we can do anyway and we do not need or want the stress.  We have too many good things in our lives and don't want to be dragged down by the bad.  Now onto some of the frugal doings lately...

~I stopped at the thrift store and was able to get some shirts for .50 each on their discount rack.  I also picked up a brand new purse there for $5 that I had seen previously at Marshalls for $80 on sale. In addition to that, I found a lovely glass bottle with a lid that I can store my homemade vanilla in.  I did pick up a few other odds and ends there but only ended up paying $13 for everything.

~The Dollar had shirts for $1.25 each, all meat chili, pesto, and large tubes of toothpaste.  I have been stocking up on things that we need.  They also had my favorite large bottles of shampoo and conditioner in once more.

~Grocery Outlet had turkey bacon on sale for .99 a package (I got 4 and froze them), and ricotta cheese for $1.49 a container.  They also had large packages of string cheese at buy one for $4.99 and get the other one free.

~I made some banana peel fertilizer.

~Most of the laundry was hung out on the line to dry.

~The tomato plants that I grew in the greenhouse were all transferred out into the garden.

~I made a nice lasagna without mozzarella cheese to save money.  I also added finely chopped spinach from the garden to the ricotta cheese along with some seasoning.  I also omitted the egg in the ricotta cheese mixture.  It still came out amazing and all the flavors were there.

~I had some leftover hot dog buns that I buttered, added some garlic salt to and set under the broiler.  It made for nice "bread sticks" to go with out lasagna.

~For Father's Day, we bought tickets to go see the new Top Gun movie at the more "posh" theater with the reclining seats.  We were able to use the senior pricing, which is even cheaper that the matinee ticket prices.  Yes, this was a splurge, but we only go to the theater once a year or less on average.  We LOVED the movie!

~Jeff and I stopped to pick up a few grocery items at Winco before heading home after the movie.  Milk has doubled in price! 😟 We will definitely be cutting back on our milk consumption in this house.

~I baked 2 loaves of homemade bread on Monday 6/20.

~I made a veggie and Spam (don't judge LOL!  I grew up in Hawaii) lo mien dish for dinner.  I used some produce from the garden that I needed to use up in it.  Huge hit with Jeff and we had leftovers.

~My sister Leonie and I had a wonderful and long visit over the internet filled with laughter, shared memories and some serious issues also.  We may be separated by miles of land and a HUGE ocean, but we remain close at heart. It warmed my heart to see her doing so well.  She has been struggling with her health again and had me very worried.  On another note, she shared with me that they are seeing the same kinds of inflation, food shortages, and political turmoil that we are here.

~It got hot all of a sudden and we were not prepared for it.  Jeff had not been able to get to getting our swamp cooler up and running when the heat first hit.  I got out an oscillating fan and set it up in the living room next to where I sit.  It was able to keep me cool enough so that I did not get sick.  I cannot regulate my body temperature on my own so I can get overheated and really sick from it quickly.

~The laundry was hung out on the line to dry. On my way back to the house, a rather large snake slithered out in front of me.  This is why I wear shoes in the garden now!  YIKES!

~Jeff finally got the swamp cooler up and running just in time for the 90 heat.  Thank you Jesus!  

~We ended up having to trim the bottom half of the branches on our cherry tree off since it got hit with a fast spreading fungal disease.  It was taking out all the cherries, as well as the leaves.  I think we were able to save the top half of the tree, so we should still get some cherries off it.

~Salads, salads and more salads!  I am trying my best to keep up with all the lettuce that the garden is producing before it goes to bolt in the heat.  I am also making cold pasta salads, which taste amazing on hot days.  Last night we had another taco salad and today we are having a tuna pasta salad since the temperature is supposed to get to 91F today.

~I'm trying to get all my daily chores done either in the early morning or in the late evening when it is cooler.  I got bread made, croutons made and the pasta salad made, along with harvesting lettuce from the garden and getting laundry done and hung out to dry this morning.

~I got more sugar bought and stored in the free bakery buckets.

~Jeff worked on his car and got the oil all changed out.  We also bought some extra engine oil at Walmart before the prices go any higher or we can't find it anymore.  Oil was in very short supply there.

~Steven and I stopped to see the bears at WSU when we were in town doing some shopping last week.  He loved it!  He even donated some of his own money to help feed the bears.  That just touched my Grammie heart so much!

~We were able to facetime with Josh, Lauren and Tate.  Tate kept asking for G-pa by name until Jeff came in from the garden and he got to see him.  Tate is also working on trying to say Grammie, but so far all we have is "G".

~I was able to see Bradley and Isaiah and give them big hugs.  We have to plan a sleepover with them soon!




   


   Well, that is about it for now.  I need to get the croutons out of the oven before they burn and I think I will call it a day work wise until it is time to get the laundry off the line later and get the gardens watered tonight.  I may even take a nap since I got up so early this morning to beat the heat.  Be blessed all and thank you once again...you are all so kind!


   



Friday, June 17, 2022

I'm Sorry...Lots Going On Here


 



   I'm sorry that I have been MIA.  There has been a lot going on here.  Some of it wonderful, but a lot of it has not been exactly uplifting.  Some of it has been extremely heavy on my heart and has taken a toll on me.  


   Heather's grandfather, Carl, who was a wonderful man, died yesterday morning. 😭  He is no longer in pain and we know he is in heaven, but our hearts are breaking for his wife and Heather's family.  Isaiah took it well saying that Grandpa Carl was no longer in pain and is now in heaven, but Bradley took it really hard.  For the rest of the family, it is just starting to sink in that he is really gone.  We loved Carl and he loved us.  He gave the best bear hugs and I will miss him so very much.


   A childhood friend is still in the ICU with congestive heart failure and tumors, which they do not know if they are cancerous or not.  Her heart is too weak for them to operate to find out.  She is in limbo and searching for "home".  Another friend and I have been working on trying to show her Christ's love and lead her to him.  We fear that she is not much longer of this earth.


   Yesterday we also found out some more devastating news, which I am not at liberty to share at the moment.  Please pray for us as we navigate the choppy waters of all of that also.  I'm going to trust my husband's discernment and follow his lead on how to deal with all of it.


   I'm still waiting to be able to talk to my sister in Tahiti to get a real update on how she is doing.  She said we would do a facetime call once she got home from the hospital.  Since we have not and she has not been online much, all I can do is assume that she is still in the hospital.  I have messaged her and told her we need to talk and that I love and miss her.


   So yes, there is a lot going on here.  If it was not for our family and the time we spend with them, I would be a total wreak.  As it is, my anxiety is super high at the moment, so those times with the grandkids is what keeps me sane.


   I'll try to be back posting when my heart allows...be blessed all.


   

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

This and That Around our Frugal Home

   



       We got some bad news about an extended family member whom we love dearly.  To say that I am frustrated with the medical system is an understatement at this point.  They give you bad news and then expect you to wait for up to 2 months before they can see you.  Meanwhile the disease continues to grow and spread making the person weaker and weaker and in pain with less of a chance to have a possible good outcome with treatment. My heart is just breaking for them and for their spouse and the rest of the family. 😞  I just don't understand it at all.

Update: they had a last minute cancellation and were able to get him in this morning! 


   Our grandson Isaiah had his tonsils and adenoids taken out last week and he is healing slower than they thought he would.  Poor kiddo takes after his Grammie here I am afraid.  A simple one store grocery shopping trip totally wore him out and he took a nap after getting home.  I know he will feel so much better after he heals up, but right now it is hard for him to see that.


   I just finished getting another bucket full of spinach from our garden all washed and most of it put in the dehydrator.  The ones that did not fit will be part of a nice salad to accompany our dinner.  Honestly, the gardening and preserving are keeping me really busy, even on the days when our Steven is not here.  Jeff keeps telling me that I need to slow down, but there is just too much to do and anyone who gardens knows that gardens do not wait for you to be ready, but rather need to be taken care of when the timing is right for them.  I have spinach and Boc Choi that are starting to go to bolt, so they both need to be dealt with.  I also have more spinach coming up and have tomatoes plants that need to be put in the garden.  The potatoes need to be hilled again, but I will wait for Steven to help me with that.  He was a little put off with me that I did it without him last week.  I won't be making that mistake again. πŸ˜‰


   The dryer broke and Jeff is still working on getting it fixed.  Thank goodness for a gorgeous day so that I can hang out the laundry to dry!  I love my old fashioned laundry line and I can imagine the generations of families that have put it to good use!


   Last night, after Jeff got the dishwasher loaded, the garbage disposal stopped working.  It is getting power to it, but not turning.  Since the dishwasher is linked in directly with the garbage disposal, we could not get it running either.  Hopefully Jeff will be able to tear it down and fix it.  Meanwhile, I have one kitchen sink that is still working, so I can deal with it for the time being.


   This afternoon I got 3 loaves of banana bread made and saved the peels and put them in a gallon jar, along with some water, to make banana peel fertilizer.  I then made some tomato plant fertilizer using dried eggshells, Tums, and a bit of Epsom salt all powdered up.  I will add the tomato plant fertilizer on top of the roots of the tomato plants.  The banana peel fertilizer will be watered onto the roots of plants also when it is ready.  It adds potassium to plants that is much needed.  I have been taking notes and adding them to my gardening section of a large notebook that I keep on hand.  I think we all need to be looking at ways to fertilize our plants naturally since it saves us money and with all the shortages, many of us would not be able to find what we need in the stores soon.  Also, I am a huge fan of doing things as naturally as possible and limiting chemicals.

  

   My greenhouse has been such a blessing.  Most of the plants that I started from seed came up and are thriving, other than the peppers, which have not come up at all.  After I get the plants out into the garden, I will have extras, which I am sharing with my girls, Heather and Rachel.  Both of them are starting gardens at their homes and I do not want them to go out and buy plants if I have them here to share.  Heather will be starting a lot from seed, but this will give her a bit of a head start.  


   Chris went morel mushroom hunting the other day and got close to 9 pounds!  They sold 3 pounds of them already and Chris is dehydrating a pound of them for me too.  What a lovely gift!  Their whole family had gone previously and got about 10 pounds at that picking.  They sold a lot of those too and have been enjoying mushrooms every day themselves.


   So that is a glimpse of what is going on here.  We are trying to stay positive despite personal setbacks, extended family illnesses and the way the world is going downhill fast.  I want my home to be that soft landing spot for friends and family.  I still want to cook good meals and work in my garden.  I also want to preserve as much as I can from the garden.  Yes, times are hard right now and are just going to get harder, which is even more reason to do all we can to try and insulate ourselves as much as possible and stock up on what we need.  Be blessed my friends and continue to do all you can to live a frugal, yet beautiful life!