Saturday, February 25, 2023

A Frugal Friday Chat

    



    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. ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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! ๐Ÿ˜‰  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!



   




   


   


   


   


   




   

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Good Eats at Home and some Random Thoughts

 



   Well hello again!  Jeff and I have been battling some leftover sinus issues after having the nasty virus that went around here. We are finally feeling a bit better.  Thus, the reason for my absence.


   I had Steven here with me on Monday since it was a school holiday and both his parents still had to work.  We had a wonderful time and made bread and cookies.  He is such a smart little guy and spelled potato and tomato by sounding the words out!  Proud Grammie moment.  Auntie Shannon even came over after she got off work in the morning and brought him a doughnut and some bacon.  It was so much fun to see my grandson just light up when he saw her and again when Jeff got home and Steven ran out to greet him.  Steven and Jeff cuddled until Rachel came to pick him up.  My hubby was such a happy G-pa and kept talking about how much needed that time with his grandson was.  Melted my heart...





   Jeff and I are trying our best to eat at home and enjoy some of our favorite meals at a fraction of what it would cost if we went out.  I have been doing a mental math breakdown of the cost comparison and let me tell you, we are saving so much money!  The food I cook usually tastes a lot better too.  Here are some of the meals we have had lately...


Sweet Italian sausage, sheet pan roasted sweet potatoes,
and fresh and juicy pear slices.  YUMMY!



Thick cut bacon and tomato sandwiches, baby carrots and bread and butter pickles.  The bacon was a gift and the bread is homemade.



Pork steak and creamy rice casserole served with green beans on the side.  I think we also had crisp apple slices that are not shown.



Burgers with tomato and avocado and homemade French fries that were cooked in the Air Fryer.  Avocados were on sale for .50 each so I bought 4 of them and have been greatly enjoying them in many ways.  They are a real comfort food for me.


   You may have noticed that the plates are all different.  I love having a nice selection of plates to choose from.  I rotate them according to season and always try to have a mixture of plates that can go in the microwave and others that can't.  What can I say, I really enjoy eating off pretty plates.  It is the small things like that that just make me smile.

   Be blessed my friends and stay warm with this polar vortex taking over much of the United States and parts of Canada as well.  Prepare as best you can for the hard times ahead too.  Most of all though, make sure that your faith is strong.


   

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Waste Not Want Not


 


   On Sunday I cooked up a spiral sliced ham and we had a wonderful meal of ham, mashed potatoes and green beans.  Monday, although I was sick with a bad head cold, I got 2 marked down pork roasts into the crockpot and later added some fresh spinach to it at the end to make Kalua Pig.  I served this with rice and some fruit.  


   Jeff and I had leftovers and ham sandwiches for a few days and enjoyed that immensely.  I then divided up the rest of the ham into 3 bags of ham slices and 2 bags of ham cubes.  I also divided the leftover Kalua Pig into 2 meals sized portions for 2 people.  We will use these as quick meals, to add to potatoes and for sandwiches in the coming months.


   In addition to not wasting food, I also am stocking up on some items ONLY when they go on sale.  For instance, I am having Jeff pick up two 2 lb blocks of cheese for $4.99, $2.50 frozen pizzas, and four boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios for $1.49 after sale prices and digital coupons.  This way I am not wasting money by paying higher prices on things when I know, based on past experiences, that these items will cycle through on sale every few weeks.  Sometimes, like on the pizzas, the sale price this week is lower than it has been for months.


   It is so important, now more than ever, to try and save as much money (and even time) as possible.  I really like the cook once and get multiple meals out of things.  It saves me time, energy, and money.  It is also great to have premade meals on hand so that you just have to add the side dishes on those days when you are too tired to cook, sick or even tempted to go and get fast food. Jeff and I figured it out that we save $16 to $40 every time we do not eat out and eat at home, and that is not even adding up the cost of gas since we have to travel for about half an hour to go to our favorite restaurants.  I really do prefer our homemade meals for the most part.  I know what is in them and they are seasoned the way we like it.


   As for the rest of our groceries, I am buying more and more basics.  I like the versatility that the basics give me in being able to create homemade breads, treats, casseroles, other meals, etc..  We tend to eat seasonally, which also helps us get the best prices and nutritional values.  We've cut back on our meat portions, which is also saving us money.  Jeff was hesitant at first about that money saving strategy, but is onboard now.  Change is hard. ๐Ÿ˜‰


   

Monday, February 6, 2023

Frugal Friday Wrap Up 2/3/23

 





   It has been a busy week at our home.  Lots of cleaning, purging, and spending precious time with the oldest 3 grandboys, Bradley, Isaiah and Steven.  We got caught up with Josh, Lauren and the kids via Facetime and Tate has now entered the crazy two year old antics stage of life.  He really does make me laugh!  Peyton is growing like crazy and even smiled at me. ๐Ÿ˜ Now onto the frugal doings...


Saturday:

~Jeff and I spent quite a bit of time cleaning out some things in our guest bedroom and started a big donate pile. To be honest, Jeff did most of it and I just supervised and carried things to the donate pile. I was in so much pain all over my body that even moving hurt.

~We combined errands later in the day and dropped off the things we had in the donate pile to Goodwill.  I did NOT go into the actual store part itself because I know that the temptation would be far too great for me to find something I liked and I do no need anything at the moment.

~I wish I had brought my cane, but I forgot it at home, so I just powered through and prayed that my hips, legs and back would hold out while we got everything else done.  Note to self, put the cane back into the car on Monday!

~We stopped at the Dollar Tree to pick up some specific items.  I got hair spray, body powder for Jeff (they had the Arm and Hammer brand), pineapple, 5 packs of garden pots, 4 packages of seeds, and stayed under my self imposed budget of $20 including tax.

~Walmart was another stop where we picked up a few grocery items.  We also compared prices on cat scratching pads and cat food. We opted not to get any scratching pads there and I am glad we didn't.

~Winco was the winner for prices on scratching pads!  I am so glad we waited.  We picked up a few grocery items there also and we shocked at how quickly some of the prices on things are continuing to go up.  We also ran into one of our hanai daughters and shared hugs.  I love when that happens!

~Our last stop for the afternoon/evening was by far my favorite.  Our grandsons, along with some of our "bonus grandkids" (cousins and close friends of our oldest grandsons) had a dance recital.  Rachel and Steven joined us there and we got some snuggle time with Steven, which was much needed.  Bradley, Isaiah, the bonus grands and all the kids did so well and it was a fun and wonderful evening!  We got to see people that we had not seen in ages, so that made it even more special.

~After the recital, we exchanged things we had for Chris and family with a box of old books that they brought home from my mother for me.  I gave Isaiah a package of sunflower seeds since he loves to grow them and he told me all about his plans to make a sunflower "house" this coming summer.  That kid just makes me smile with his love of gardening!  We also gave Chris some ammo that we had to either give to someone that in the family that could use it or, if no one needed it to sell it.  We told him to keep whatever money he got out of it (since no one needed it in the extended family) and use it towards the cost of chicken feed.  He was very appreciative.

~Once we got home, we had some hot cocoa to warm us up (Christmas gift from Heather) and I started going through the books.  Some were over 100 years olds including works by Dickens.  One of the other books was given to my grandmother in 1928 for Christmas by her school when she was in 8th grade.  I am so glad there was that inscription in it!  Some of the other books were ones that I read as a child when staying at my grandmother's house and they brought back wonderful wonderful memories for me! Yet another was a book of Hawaiian music from long ago.  I know that some of the songs were ones that I remember and others are ones that I had never heard before.  That is a special treasure also!


Sunday:

~This day found me totally exhausted and all "peopled" out.  Too much stimulation, including totally awesome things like recitals, tends to zap my energy levels, so I spent a good part of the day in bed.

~I cut Jeff's hair in the afternoon.  Mine will have to wait since I needed to rest again after that.  Life with Fibromyalgia is not a fun one.

~Dinner was leftovers since that is all I could manage.


Monday:

~After a fitful night full of nightmares that mentally drained me, I got up, fed our outdoor kitty Ginny, and had some coffee before getting started on my day.  It was a two cup kind of day and I finished off the pot.

~I washed the sheets and towels in hot water.  I combine the two loads for washing so I only use the hot water wash cycle once during the week and them separate the load into two when I put them through the dryer during this time of the year.  I would hang them out, but it is far too cold (12F) to do that.

~I threw 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts into the small crockpot and then topped it with a jar of peach salsa that I had in the pantry and needed to be used up.

~Leftover chicken salad was what I had for brunch.

~Having a multitude of purses comes in handy since I love to switch them out.  It just makes me happy!  Today was a switch out day.

~While putting away the books that my mother sent over, I came across my grandmother's childhood bible given to her at Christmas of 1921!  Oh my goodness, what a treasure!  It has pictures that were taken at the different places mentioned in the bible in the early 1900's.  It was amazing to see what those places looked like then and compare them to what it looks like now.


Tuesday:

~Jeff was off from work so he got busy and fixed our leaking dishwasher.  Hubby for the win!

~I put some ingredients to make sourdough bread in the bread maker, which then decided not to work.  I quickly got the ingredients out of the bread maker pan and into the mixing bowl.  I got the dough all mixed and kneaded, let it rise for about 1 1/2 hours, and then baked it at 400F for 35 minutes.  It was really good.

~I made a double batch of our favorite cheese tortellini and pesto sauce.  I started the sauce off by sautรฉing some cherry tomatoes from our garden that I had frozen with a little freshly cracked black pepper and a dash of salt.  I then added some diced frozen red and yellow peppers that I got on sale in the Summer, cut up and froze and bagged up into 1 cup servings.  When that was nicely cooked up, I added a small jar of basil pesto sauce, warmed that all up and then added the cooked cheese tortellini.  Jeff and I had half of it for a late lunch and the other half will make two meals for me later in the week for a lunch and a dinner when he is at his bowling league.

~We sorted through more stuff and got things bagged up and ready to donate.

~I found some books in my "Grammie's library" that I thought Bradley might enjoy and set those out for him.

~I got the sheets off the guest bed and got them all washed up.  Jeff put two featherbeds on the guest bed to see if that would make it more comfortable since it is a rather firm bed and I seem to be the only one in the family that will use it for that reason. We shall see if that works.  If not, we will have to invest in a good pillow top mattress cover.  Note: It worked wonderfully!

~While going through the books in my "library" here at home, I found some Country Woman magazines that I had bought at the thrift store to read over the Winter months.  I got those all put on my side table here in the living room for me to enjoy.

~Jeff made us grilled cheese sandwiches on some of the sourdough bread that I had baked earlier in the day.  It was really good and nice "comfort food" on a snowy evening.

~I emptied out a milk crate that I had been using in the pantry and gave it to Jeff to use in our chest freezer.  That is a project for a future weekend.

~Jeff put a sign that he bought me years ago that says "I love you to the moon and back" up on the wall in the living room.  It makes me smile whenever I look at it.


Wednesday:

~I went over the grocery store ads for the week and uploaded some digital coupons onto my Safeway card.  To be honest, other than one local grocery store having a sale on chicken, there are not many good deals to be had.

~After over doing it yesterday, I gave myself permission to take things slow and easy today.  I am not feeling guilty for doing this anymore and that is a good thing.

~I've been planning out my garden and trying to find some tips on YouTube to make things easier and more productive. The Elliot Homestead has some great tips and I love that YouTube channel anyway.  She is a joy to watch.

~Jeff called to let me know that he would be a bit late coming home.  I decided that we would just have leftover peach salsa chicken for dinner since he did not take any of that for lunch today.  I have some pears that need to be used ASAP, so we will have that as a side dish.  I think I will also add some fresh spinach to each of the burritos for extra nutrients.

~I called my mom and had a nice visit with her and my brother Fritz.  It was nice to catch up and get some good news on my uncle who is battling cancer along with my aunt.  My mother is going to check on my other aunt and uncle who are also battling cancer and get back to me on that with more news on them.  All of them are in their 80's now (as are my parents) and sadly things are happening that are beyond our control health wise.  Please keep them in your prayers if you are so inclined.  Thank you.


Thursday:

~I got a call from Rachel telling me that Steven's school was evacuated due to smoke and there not being heat in the building.  She asked if he could come here for the rest of the day.  Of course I said yes! It turned out that a fan engine overheated sending smoke into the school.  They got it fixed so school is back on for tomorrow.

~I made two more loaves of bread.

~Steven and I made cookies.  He chose the sprinkles to put on them and I had him take them home with him.

~He and I played games and he drew out the recipe for making the cookies in pictures.  He is one smart little boy.

~Poor Steven is still dealing with the after effects of having RSV.  He kept coughing and ended up with that deep seal cough, which in turn led to him throwing up multiple times.  Poor bubby was trying to take care of himself because he told me he did not want to get me sick.  I let him know that my job is to take care of him, not him take care of me and he ended up cuddling with me for the rest of the time.  He even asked me later "what if I throw up on your shirt?"  I told him then I would wash it, no big deal.  He started running a low grade fever so Rachel is going to try and get him back into the doctor.

~We watched lots of Bluey and Micky Mouse Club House.

~I trimmed my bangs.  I need a full haircut but the bangs were bugging me really badly, so they got a trim for the time being.

~We had a new bathtub play kit with all kinds of fun instruments for little ones.  I had bought a bunch of these kits on clearance years ago as gifts.  Jeff took the last one to our friend Dee (whom he works with) for her grandbabies.  She was so touched and thrilled because she had all the grandbabies over at her house that night.  I consider Dee "family" and have known her for years.



Friday:

~Exhausted Grammie here so I slept in.  It felt good to be able to give myself the permission to do so with no guilt whatsoever. 

~I finish off the sourdough bread for a late breakfast.  It made for 3 slices of toast.  YUMMY!

~Since it was a gloomy day outside, I put on some uplifting music to help bring a smile to my face and a lightness to my heart.  Music makes a huge difference for me.  Anything by Tim Janis on YouTube does the trick and the videos that go along with his music are simply stunning.

~I made a run down to the post office and to the library.  Sarah, our librarian, had 2 movies waiting for me. :)

~While looking through the grocery ads, I saw a Lemon Capellini Salad that caught my eye.  I looked up the recipe for it and definitely will be trying to make it when my garden is producing the tomatoes and basil needed for it.  Cold Lemon Capellini Salad Recipe (mashed.com)

~I realized that I was getting a bit light headed while driving right here in our little town.  I came straight home (about a 5 block drive) and had some yogurt.  That helped my blood sugar levels get back to normal.

~Jeff picked up some boneless, skinless chicken breast that were on sale, limit of 2 family packs.  I used one of the chicken breasts, cut in half, for a simple dinner and butter basted chicken breasts, corn bread stuffing, pear slices.  I repackaged the rest of the chicken breasts individually in Ziplock bags and then put those bags in another larger bag and froze them to use in future meals.


   I do hope that everyone is stocking up on sale items and other essentials when you can find them.  I've noticed a huge increase in the cost of things.  My creamer has gone up another full dollar since the last time I bought it.  Don't even get me started on the price of coffee.  I am so glad we stocked up when we found a terrific sale!  Anyone else noticing the prices increasing at an alarming rate?