I thought it might be nice to have a chat, and a frugal themed one at that. Go pop yourself up some popcorn and get yourself something to drink...I'll wait. 😉 Don't forget a cloth napkin to wipe your buttery fingers off with. You do not want that all over your computer keyboard.
So we got some good news! Jeff got a raise at work! After taxes, it works out to about $100 more a month. The bad news...inflation has risen up faster than his raise will cover. Good news...we are very experienced at stretching our finances and planning out how to purchase needed items without putting them on the credit card. Case in point, we needed a new battery for the truck. Jeff shopped around and found the best price for a good battery with a 1-year guarantee. He bought it and will take the old battery in to get his $25 core charge back. Luckily this paycheck has less coming out of it for regular bills so we were able to get the battery replaced. Next month he will buy another ton of pellets for our pellet stove to keep us warm for the rest of the cold weather season and hopefully give us a good start for the next heating season also. We needed the battery in the truck so we could use the truck to haul the pellets.
I've gone back to using our local library again. I was able to borrow some movies and books. Both of the books were cooking related. I do love me a good cookbook!
Speaking of cookbooks, I have had a certain one on my Amazon wish list for years. Low and behold, I found it at the thrift store, along with a pepper grinder that has been on my "look for at the thrift store" list. I also found another Taste of Home cookbook and a book on home remedies and supplements for .50 each at the library book sale. It just made my week!
I've been picking up non GMO, Organic and Heirloom seeds for my garden, along with some of the cheaper seeds. I know I can seed save from the Organic and Heirloom plants. I seed saved from a bunch of plants last year and am hoping that I get a good germination rate out of them. The goal is to expand my garden even further. Jeff has been picking up free buckets from Safeway bakeries each week. This is a great way to get free containers to grow plants in and we can always use more buckets around here for out in the gardens and for food storage in the house. Steven and I are going to try to get some cold weather crops started next month in the greenhouse. He will be with me for 2 days over Spring break.
Jeff and I had been trying to figure out how to finance a trip over to the Seattle area for a long weekend this Spring to see my baby brother Eric and his family, and also one down to see Josh, Lauren, Tate and Peyton after they move into their new home in Utah. Josh will be deploying at some point and we want to get over and see them before that happens. I've been trying to set aside $100 each month towards the trips, but we had to skip a few months due to everything else costing so much. Anyway, I got some fantastic news. My nephew Cade will be playing in the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival with his high school jazz band! My brother Eric, my sweet SIL Christie and my other nephew Eli are coming over to see him perform. Not only that, but my parents are coming over to see him perform also! We thought we would not get to see my parent until the Fall since that is when we had a trip planned to go and see them. The Jazz festival is held at the University of Idaho and draws talented students and big name Jazz musicians from all around the world. When I was in the University of Idaho Jazz Choir (oh so many years ago) our choir won and we got to sing back up for Diane Reeves in concert. That is one of my favorite memories and I am so happy that now my nephew will be performing and doing workshops just like I did. Maybe, just maybe, he will like the college enough that he will decide to go there after graduation from high school. Here's to hoping that will happen. It would be so nice to have him close to us. So we will have a good portion of our family together again. I have not seen my baby brother and family since Josh and Lauren's wedding. We keep in touch with one another, but I miss that "face to face" time. I also can't wait to hug my parents again. Last time I saw them, I could not stop hugging my mom and my dad and I had such deep conversations. I love spending time with both my parents and, as they are getting on in years, I want to make every moment with them count. We will do a big family dinner or lunch together and do it potluck style. I don't want my parents to feel like they are obligated to pay for all of us to go out to eat. In the past, that would not have been a big deal financially for them, but with the cost of the hotel stay and travel expenses, along with their investments not doing as well, they need to cut back on expenses too. Same thing with my baby brother and family. He survived the last round of layoffs at Microsoft, but he realizes that he too may be cut in the future.
Jeff and I are carefully looking at the sales ads and stocking up on the loss leaders when we find them at a super great price. Recently Rosauers had Cosmic Crisp apples for .89 a pound. We stocked up on what we could reasonably use for the next month or so. We eat a lot of apples and pears. Since apples were cheaper, we got those instead of pears this time. We continue to pick up canned meats like chicken and tuna. Both are wonderful sources of protein. When fresh meat is on sale, we will buy that, divide it up into smaller meal sizes and freeze it for using later. Cream cheese and hard cheeses are only bought when on sale. I do buy cottage cheese, but shop for the best prices on that too. If I find a salad mix on sale that I like, I look at what is in it and try to plan one growing the veggies needed to go in it, along with stocking up on the other goodies it might contain. I am able to recreate so many of our favorite dishes just based on looking at it and the flavors I taste. Luckily I have a really good taste pallet and know flavor profiles for most dishes. My upbringing gave me that gift since I was blessed to experience and enjoy foods from all over the world.
We were plunged into an arctic blast of frigid temperatures, so I made some homemade soup. I decided that I wanted to make something filling, creamy and comfort food like. I wilted some celery that was diced up in some bacon grease. When that was at the desired softness, I sprinkled some flour over that and cooked the flour off so it did not have any of the raw flour flavor left. From there I added the liquid from a can of diced potatoes, a can of corn, and some water to get it to the desired consistency that I wanted. Chicken bullion was added, freshly ground pepper, the can of corn and the can of potatoes. I let that simmer for a few minutes and then added some of the chunked up ham, that I had frozen previously, into the pot as well. I topped that off with some milk to add to the creaminess. Jeff and I each had a big bowl full and it gave me leftovers for two more lunches here at home.
Jeff came home Wednesday night with a huge blessing from work. They had bags of wood pellets that had ripped open in transport that they could no longer sell. The company Jeff works for just totaled them out and let Jeff and another one of his co-workers have the bags for free. Jeff brought home 4 bags and his co-worker also took 4 home. That is 4 less bags that both his co-worker and we have to pay for to keep our homes heated. It is currently just 9F outside as I type this, so we will for sure be going through a bag of pellets within 24 hours with this cold snap.
Chris dropped Heather, Bradley, and Isaiah off at our house Friday night and headed to a dinner meeting here in town. I had made a big cheese lasagna and Heather baked some French bread and whipped up some herbed garlic butter. She also brought ice cream for dessert! Everything was delicious and the company could not be beat! 😉 Time spent with our family is what Jeff and I cherish the most.
I slipped on some ice Friday afternoon and managed to do a ninja cat move mid air so that I did not break anything. I am however now the proud "owner" of lots of scrapes, bruises and a sore neck, hip, back and butt. It could have been so much worse and I am very thankful that I got away with as little damage as I did.
Lots going on here in our lives and homes, but I am making sure to take time out to rest. I am also trying to make sure to appreciate all that we have been blessed with and treasure each moment with family. None of us are promised tomorrow so we need to focus on there here and now and be totally "in the moment". Be blessed!