Friday, August 29, 2014

Last Weeks Frugal Accomplishments

*52 Week Savings Plan:  Slow progress but... $29.

*Christmas Jar of Change: My new total is $145.07 after adding $1.85 to the former total of $143.22. 

*Favorite Frugal Accomplishments:

-I had points from my grocery shopping that could be used for a discount at the gas pump.  I used these points to fill up the gas tank at a savings of .20 per gallon.

-I am trying to take full advantage of my trash service. I pay the same amount for my trash service whether I put out one barrel or not.  For the past two weeks now I have put to the curb the maximum amount of trash allowed.  This also has the advantage of facilitating a goal of mine.  One of my goals for the year is to go through, purge and organize every nook and cranny of my property.  The desire to fill up those trash bins has me going through cupboards and shelves and baskets and boxes.

-I got some bone-in chicken breasts for $1.59 per pound so for dinner one evening I fried it up in some lard that I got for .50 per pound.  After frying up the chicken I used the oil to fry up leftover baked potatoes to make some french fries.  Found one last bag of vegetables in that freezer of mine and steamed them to accompany the chicken and fries.  Satisfying!

-I made a big batch of potato rolls that have been used for several meals and snacks.  For the mashed potato I used some instant mashed potatoes that had been given to me a while back (free - yay).

-We are in the midst of a heat spell but we did get one nice rain.  I collected rain water and have been using it to water the herbs.

-I discovered a jar of peaches languishing in the refrigerator.  They were a specialty item, peaches infused with vanilla, that I had purchased thinking they would be a special treat for the kiddos who like to eat canned peaches.  The kiddos didn't like the peaches.  They didn't prefer the added vanilla.  So those peaches just sat on a shelf in the fridge most likely doomed to a future as a science experiment.  However, sorting through the fridge with the goal of reducing waste I discovered them and turned them into a most yummy cobbler.  The kiddos had no problem eating that!

-Still pulling stuff out of that freezer (it is amazing the amount of stuff a little freezer can hold - whew) - used the last of the pork to make pulled pork sandwiches (used the rest of the .79 cent buns purchased for hamburgers); used some of the pecans for a crumble on an apple crisp and to make a double batch granola (I figured that while the oven was heated I should go ahead and make up a big batch - did I tell you that I love this granola?);

-I decided that the hamburger buns should be an entry of their own.  I purchased a bag of nice hamburger buns on managers special for .79 almost two weeks ago.  I initially used them to accompany hamburgers and, just this week, used the leftovers with the pulled pork sandwiches.  I go two meals out of one .79 package of buns - Yay!

-I discovered some apples that were less then desirable for just munching on so I salvaged them and made a most delicious apple crisp.

-With short notice I was invited out for a ladies lunch.  I needed to feed the kiddos but didn't think that sandwiches were ideal as they had many a sandwich as of late.  I opted to make them quick pizza crusts using the frugal recipe posted below.  I went "shopping" in my food storage pantry for some pizza sauce and pepperoni, grated a bit of cheese and left them to bake up their own pizzas.

This is the pizza crust that my mama used to make for her young family.
This is an eat with a fork kind of crust.

1 c. flour            1 tsp. oregano         1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper      2/3 c. milk           2 eggs
Mix and pour into a greased pizza sheet.  Bake for approximately 9 minutes at 375.  Check on crust as baking and poke down any bubbles with a fork.
Top with your favorite toppings and pop it back in the oven.
Try it!

-I canceled the insurance on the vehicle we sold.  Although this cancellation is fiscally responsible, it will prevent us from paying unnecessarily, it would have been truly frugal weeks ago.  Yep, for weeks now I have paid insurance on a vehicle we don't even own anymore.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Last Weeks Frugal Accomplishments

*52 Week Savings Plan:  I am excited to say that I am adding $5 to this savings plan for a small, way behind  but making progress new total of $25.

*Christmas Jar of Change:  I have $9.62 to add to the jar.  When added to the previous balance of $113.60 I have a grand new total of $143.22.

*Favorite Frugal Accomplishments:

-Sunday:  I went to the grocery store for some donuts, bacon, orange juice and hot dog buns and came out with deals.  Serendipitously, the buns and bacon were on sale.  And, again serendipitously, there was a coupon in-store for $2 off when buying a dozen eggs and some orange juice.  Orange juice was on the list and it never hurts to have a few more eggs.  But most exciting were the managers specials.  I got some pineapple-orange juice for $2 that, if the kids do not drink it, I will freeze into cubes and add to smoothie packs.  I got a pack of really nice hamburger buns for .79 and three packages of ground beef for $2/lb.  The beef was particularly exciting because a group of people had formed around one section of ground beef that had just been marked down.  I saw that that beef would be about $2.20/lb. and didn't want to fight the crowd for that.  Passing it by and moving down the aisle I discovered the three packages that I bought.  Everyone was so distracted by the other beef that they didn't notice these packages that were higher quality and marked down even lower.  I felt triumphant.  I see hamburgers for dinner in our future.

I had a 30% off coupon for Kohl's that was due to expire today.  Bishop and I were both in dire need of new tennis shoes so we decided to see what we could find.  We both found tennis shoes that were on sale.  There was also one pair of cargo shorts in Bishop's size and a couple of nice t-shirts that were on sale.  While at the checkout counter I realized that there was another coupon in my mailer that was for $10 off shoes and, upon further inspection, found that the coupon had expired.  However, they very graciously opted to utilize the coupon despite being expired.  When both coupons were applied it dropped my total to $100 which I am very pleased with.

-Monday:  Today Bishop and I joined some friends at the park for a picnic.  Despite my love for true picnics I must admit that I most often bring carry-out to them.  This time, however, I triumphed - I made blueberry muffins with the berries that I had purchased on sale last week and made deviled eggs.  Bishop and I both enjoyed this simple yet yummy picnic.

-Tuesday:  Bishop enjoyed the muffins so much that he asked that I make more.  I made a triple batch of muffins today so that I could have some on hand for breakfasts and snacks throughout the week.  While the muffins were baking I also baked some potatoes for dinner.  We had stuffed baked potatoes using leftover chili and other goodies found in the fridge.  The environmental science merit badge that Bishop is working on requires that he list ways to conserve resources and then utilize two of those ideas for seven days.  He chose to be conscientious of how electricity was being used by making sure that we turn off lights when it is not imperative that they be on.  He also chose to only run the dishwasher when it is full.  I will be interested to see how these goals impact or energy and water usage.

-Wednesday:  I swung by the grocery and discovered some great managers specials.  I got the largest green bell pepper accompanied by three cucumbers and three hot peppers for .99!  I also picked up 12 packages of raspberries as they were on sale for .99 each and chicken thighs that had been highly discounted.  And I picked up summer sausage for $2 each.  I love to have summer sausage stocked in my pantry.  I frequently use it to serve to guests alongside cheese, crackers and fruit.  Sometimes we munch on it for lunch and it would be handy for a spontaneous picnic.  It was a good shopping trip and one that should help fill out our menus without filling up my freezer.  (Still awaiting the beef delivery!)

-Thursday:  Today Bishop and I met some friends at Wild Animal Safari.  We had coupons to get two of the kiddos in for free and more coupons for free bags of food.  They allowed us to stack the coupons and we were thrilled with our adventure.

-Friday:  I went to a park this morning and was captivated by its beauty.  Good, simple, free, and nourishing entertainment!  I continued to work Swagbucks and Bing Rewards and have earned another $5 Amazon gift card.  I have a couple more educational resources that I am wanting to have on hand so I intend on applying the gift card to this purchase.  I used that marked down chicken to make a delicious dish utilizing lemons that I had on hand and fresh herbs clipped from my garden.

-Saturday:  Other then seeing a show that I had purchased tickets for I just stayed home.  I served leftovers for lunch and cooked a simple pasta dish for dinner and just worked on household projects that need to be completed.  Productive and restful and the pocketbook stayed in the purse!

*Next Weeks Goals:

-I have been perusing this blog as of late and find it to be inspirational.  She has so many ideas for me to glean from including her frequent cleaning of her fridge, culling from it items for dinner or to put in the freezer.  Of course, I look at my leftovers as potential meals but I do not routinely go through it and put those tidbits in the freezer if I am not going to get them on the menu in a timely fashion.  This week I will clean my refrigerator and I will attempt to go through it every two or three days in order to be a good steward of what has been provided to me and, thus, reduce my waste.

-Also inspired by Blue House Journal and all of its delightful menus, I intend on returning to menu making this week.

-I want to make raspberry vinegar and/or cordial.

-Go through my freezer yet again to ensure that it is prepared for the beef delivery.

-Update my financial accountability log.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Last Weeks Frugal Accomplishments

*52 Week Savings Plan:  Still at $20.  It was so much easier to get in to the groove at the beginning of the year then it is now.  Why?!?

*Christmas Jar of Change:  $1.98 will be added to the jar's previous total of $111.62 for a new total of $113.60.

*Favorite Frugal Accomplishments:

-Remember that soda we purchased for .79 with a coupon from the fair?  Well, we had use for it this week and it was nice to have it on hand.  The boys were invited to a party and I wanted them to take something to the gathering.  So I had them grab a bottle of soda and a couple of packages of microwaveable popcorn that just weren't getting used by us.  The contribution was appreciated!

-I turned off the thermostat every chance I got.

-I made enormous progress on getting that freezer cleared out.  I found smoked sausages and hot dogs in there that Bishop grilled up.  The ice cream is just about gone.  The smoothie packs are getting used.   The last two chicken breasts were used for quesadillas. The last of the ground venison is in the fridge waiting to be turned in to chili.  Menus have centered around what has been found in that freezer and that has kept me from doing in significant grocery shopping for weeks.

-I purchased a case of blueberries highly discounted at Aldi.  I am not sure what all I will do with them but will place them in that nearly empty freezer while I decide.  I learned that the beef will not arrive for another couple of weeks so I have that long to get those berries processed.

-I was gifted a gallon of tea and a large container of vanilla greek yogurt (Thanks, Roxie!) that has really encouraged me to just stay home instead of heading to the bakery for tea and a snack.  This has helped me save money and accomplish more.  (Brandy is right on this one).

-I enjoyed a walk in one of the beautiful gardens that our city maintains.  It is relaxing, inspirational and free.

-The last of the frozen cookie dough was used to treat unexpected guests.

-I am still working my Bing Rewards and Swagbucks.  I have enough Bing Rewards for another $5 Amazon gift card and am almost there with Swagbucks.

-I purchased a gift through Shutterfly using a 50% off coupon.  Because the purchase was over $30 I was able to get free shpping.  I also got 101 free photos (truly free because I didn't have to pay the shipping).  The final bonus was that I was able to use Swagbucks shop and earn feature and will receive 180 Swagbucks for this purchase.  I love it when all the deals stack like that!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Last Weeks Frugal Accomplishments

*52 Week Savings Plan:  Still at $20.  I am going to have to seriously recommit to this goal or I am doomed to failure.

*Christmas Jar of Change:  $4.15 was added to the previous balance of $107.47 making for a new grand total of $111.62

*Favorite Frugal Accomplishments:

-I scored, for FREE, these really cool vintage items for use in my garden.
Maceo and I helped clean out the prop 'closet' of our local community theatre.  It was a treasure trove of the rotted and moldy and the cool and funky.  It was satisfying work and I got these little bonuses as well.

-I continued to make progress on clearing out the freezer; which is good given that cow delivery should happen at the end of this week.
I did clear most of the apples out of the freezer by making a fantastic apple cake.  The recipe called for apple cider or juice which I did not have.  I substituted apple butter that I watered down a bit.
I had a bit of raw peanuts in the freezer so I gave homemade peanut butter a try.
There were lots of walnuts and pecans in that freezer of mine.  I didn't feel compelled to use up all of it but I did want to get some of it out of the freezer.  I made this granola substituting pecans for the almonds.  And, oh my goodness, it is absolutely delicious!
I assembled 10 smoothie packs.  Sure, these still get stored in the freezer but they are now in a more useable form.

-I washed my used plastic bags so that I could reuse them.

-We did a great job using leftovers this week.

-I used my $10 Kohl's coupon and $10 WalMart gift card given to me by Ebates to purchase 3 Christmas gifts.  In addition, I purchased these items on tax-free weekend.  I paid relatively little out of pocket.

-Bishop made my birthday cake and frosting from scratch utilizing ingredients that we had on hand.

-I received coupons to various restaurants for my birthday and we utilized some of this week.  Some of them were for totally free items.  Others were buy one get one free deals but these have been fun as I have taken one boy out at a time for some individual time with them.

-The boys and I went for a nice walk on my birthday - it was healthy, free, and fun entertainment.

-After our walk we went out to eat.  We used a coupon for a free appetizer and we ordered water only for our drinks.  Both really helped to keep the tab down.  However, ordering the waters instead of tea or soda was huge.  I often times forget that.

-I started a jar for dried and crumbled egg shells which I will either feed to the chicken or use in my garden.

-I finally planted some flowers that I had purchased some time ago and I place banana peels in the ground prior to planting for fertilization.

-I went to Walgreen's to see what I could find at a good price to put in the Blessing Bags that we were making.  I found some lip balm on clearance for .69, Emergen-C as a buy one get one free, and a couple of other clearance items.
The donations for our blessing bags!

-While at Walgreen's I found Mio's on sale for $3 each and a $3 register rewards coupon would print with each purchase.  I purchased 3 Mio's and received $9 in coupons.  I used those coupons to purchase a Christmas present which I ended up paying $1 for. 

*Next weeks goals:

-I will make a final push to get the freezer cleaned out as my beef order should be ready by the end of the week.  
I found some sun dried tomatoes in my freezer and want to give this recipe a go.
I will probably make some apple scones with the remaining bit of apple found in the freezer.
I still intend on making the cranberry orange vinegar.

-I still need to update my financial accountability log.

-I need to get my dried herbs in labeled jars and get more herbs drying.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Last Weeks Frugal Accomplishments

I made no progress curbing my impulse to dine out but in all other areas I feel as though I have progressed.  The biggest area of improvement for me is simply in the area of mindset, as I believe the longer then usual list of accomplishments illustrates.

*52 Week Savings Plan:  This account is no longer empty (Yay!).  New balance = $20.00.  It's a start!

*Christmas Jar of Change:  I managed to add $7.66 in change to the Christmas fund.  When combined with the previous total of $99.81 I have a new balance of $107.47.  (Yay!  That feels really good!)

*Favorite Frugal Accomplishments:

-I cut sage, marjoram, thyme, two types of oregano and two types of mint from my garden and dried them.

-I also engaged in a bit of wildcrafting.  I foraged some red clover and dried it.

-I used my citrus fruits.  I ate some of them straight up and juiced the rest.  I then dried the orange peels that I will likely use in one of these ways.

-I continued to line dry our clothing.  Sure it is largely out of necessity, due to the fact that the dryer is broken, but I have been managing to get laundry done without going to the laundromat.  The process is slow but as long as I work at it steadily the job gets done.

-I made dishwasher detergent and laundry detergent.  For years I have intended to make these detergents.  I have had the ingredients on hand for at least a year.  I used this recipe for the dishwasher detergent and this one for the laundry detergent.

-I worked hard to use up items in the freezer.  I made lasagna using not only beef from the freezer but also bell peppers and herbs.  I used more ground beef to make this salisbury steak and, in an attempt to utilize some of my frozen strawberries, I made this strawberry ice cream, which just flew out of the house.

-I topped off the gas tank using my fuel reward points for .20 off per gallon.

-We joined some friends for an outing at the tiger sanctuary.  Months ago, at a benefit silent auction, we had won admission for two to the sanctuary paying far less then the regular admission price.  We utilized our prize.

-I cashed my Ebates checks and found a check for returned school books that I also cashed.

-I began the process of familiarizing myself with the Christmas plan that I had created at the beginning of the year and have begun doing some work on Christmas projects.

-I ushered two showings of Once Upon a Mattress at our community theatre so that I could watch Maceo perform without having to buy a ticket.  A friend had an extra ticket and invited me to watch the show with her. I also utilized his complimentary tickets so that I could watch the show twice more.  I only paid for Bishop's ticket. I watched five of his six performances and only paid $6.  Yay! (And, by the way, the show was absolutely, positively fantastic.  It was stellar entertainment!)

-A cool spell moved in to town so I turned the a/c off.

- My grand-niece gifted me sweet corn that she had picked herself.  I boiled 3 ears for dinner this week.  I saved the water used for cooking the corn so as to reheat some the following day for lunch.  I then, after allowing it to cool, used the water to water my herb garden.  This is such a simple and practical way to save on my water bill yet I so rarely do it.  This feels like an accomplishment.

-On the back of our fair tickets was a coupon for .79 2-liter bottles of Coke and Dr. Pepper.  I do not drink soda at all and the kiddos only drink it on occasion but we did utilize these coupons so that we could have some on hand for a special family football event or for when we get invited to a social event and are requested to bring something.  We were able to get three bottles for $2.49.

-Bishop participated in the reading program at the library and received a punch card full of free goodies - ice cream, cupcakes, bowling, local attractions, etc.

*Next weeks goals:

-continue to harvest and dry herbs

-continue trying to get through the fruit in my freezer by making smoothie packs; trying this apple recipe and this strawberry recipe; and starting this Cranberry Vinegar recipe:
1 c. cranberries, crushed
2 pieces fresh orange peel, 1/2 inch wide, 4 inches long
3 three-inch cinnamon sticks
1 qt. white wine vinegar
Combine all ingredients in glass container, cover and set aside for three weeks.  Strain, add 1/8 c. honey, mix well and bottle.  Store in refrigerator.
(Taken from Making Herb Vinegars by Jim Long)

-I received a $10 coupon to Kohl's for my birthday.  I intend to apply it towards a Christmas present.

-I also have a $10 gift card to WalMart that I plan to use this week for a Christmas present.

-Cancel that auto insurance (ugh, I didn't do it last week)

-Update my financial accountability log and utilize this debt reduction calculator.