Monday, February 27, 2017

Another Month and More Success

Another month of this new year is coming to a close and it is time for me to report on my progress with my monthly goals.

I love to try new recipes when there are special events and there were definitely special events this month.  For the Super Bowl I made these Homemade Oreos - Football Style.  I did have to tweak the recipe just a bit as the dough was too sticky to mold or roll out on its own.  I rolled the dough out using cocoa powder instead of flour and the used a football-shaped cookie cutter.  They were a HUGE hit!!!  There have already been requests for me to make more!

For Valentine's I made these Triple Chocolate Mini Cheesecakes and Mini Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecakes.  I hadn't made a true cheesecake in over twenty years and I had never made any flavored ones.  The chocolate ones were extremely popular and the family is begging for more.  I shall oblige!

I have long been interested in making my own bread.  I have dabbled in it just a bit but have not perfected it and have not made it with any consistency.  This month I opted to try my hand at bread making again and this time I chose to make hamburger buns for the Super Bowl.  They were easy and yummy and I will definitely make them again.

I learned how to fold napkins to look like a rose.  I will be using this next month for a special party tablescape!

My home-related project for the month was to rearrange the master bedroom, caulk the windows and put up new curtains.  I am making progress.

To meet my goal of doing at least one project per month related to the organization, preservation or presentation of family memories I assembled this shadow box full of my 80's high school memorabilia.  Yes, I saw The Kinks in concert!

And, finally, my art project for the month would be a Christmas assemblage.  Serendipitously, I saw some similar things on pinterest while I was sorting through all of my Christmas stuff.  I found the Santa planter in a Christmas box.  It was broken so I felt A-OK using it for a project such as this.  Isn't it sweet?

Setting this simple goal really does seem to be helping focus.
I am pleased with these simple successes.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Last Weeks Frugal Accomplishments - Preparing for Survival Mode

The time has finally arrived and I am not certain that I am prepared for it.  Herb is finally retired and we only have one more full paycheck.  Crunch time is upon us.  So, to help me get focused I am resuming my posts on my frugal accomplishments while striving for financial fitness.
So, where did I find success recently?

-In some ways having Herb home is great for our budget.  I definitely eat out less when he is around.  He is a homebody and a great cook which makes it easier to dine in.  In other ways it has not been great for our budget.  Herb has a tendency to decide on a meal in the morning and go shopping for all of the ingredients before I have awakened.  This means that he is not using what we have in the house.  We have probably spent twice as much on groceries over the last month than we typically would but I am certain that we will work it out soon.  Of course, as the financial situation changes we will HAVE to make it change.  We have developed a plan that involves a calendar with our schedules, possible menu ideas using what we have on hand then deciding which meals will go work best on each day.  Having a plan will encourage frugality!

-We had a leftover smorgasbord on Sunday.  I think that this will become a routine part of our schedule.

-I paid the bills online and aggressively.  I am trying to make sure that some things are paid in advance knowing that our income will be significantly reduced beginning next month.  I have also been thinking about upcoming events (birthday's and such) and have spent time brainstorming what I will need or what I would like to have on hand for those events.  Again, having a plan will encourage frugality!

-I have been trying to avoid buying anything unnecessary; however, I did find a couple of items that I couldn't resist.  I found Valentine's pencils on clearance  - twenty-four cents for a package of 12.  I bought eight packages.  I bought them for our Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes but I am not opposed to using them for something else if needed.  I also bought a bag of candy bracelets for eighty cents on a Valentine's clearance for the OCC shoeboxes.

-Also, on Valentines clearance were pencils with the Disney princess Belle on top.  I bought two of them for fifty cents each.  These were a really fortuitous find as Maceo's production of Beauty and the Beast is opening this weekend and next month Keegan will be coming home and having a Beauty and the Beast themed birthday party.  So I got one for the girl that is playing Belle in Maceo's production and one to tie onto Keegan's birthday package.

-I had forty dollars in Kohl's cash to use.  I used it along with other coupons to get some really great deals.  I got a new white blouse that I need for ushering at the theatre, a package of underwear (desperately needed), and four baby items as I have three friends who are expecting this year.  The baby items were on deep clearance so by the time I used the coupons I paid pennies for the items.  In all I paid eight dollars for those items.

-Upon returning home from Kohl's I looked at the receipt and saw that the blouse had not been discounted as much as I had anticipated.  I returned to Kohl's to rectify the situation only to find that this particular blouse was not part of the collection that was fifty percent off; however, the manager gave me that discount for my inconvenience.  I used the credit to buy more of the deeply discounted baby clothes.  Two of my three babies have gifts now and I have only paid a couple of bucks for it all!

-I have a goal of creating at least one new thing (art or craft) each month.  I have managed to do that for both January and February and have only spent three dollars in their creation.  That three dollars was for adhesive, otherwise, I had all that was needed for the items.  And the bonus is that I can use any of these items for gifts if I choose to.

-We cancelled our Direct TV subscription.

-We managed to get our internet bill reduced.

-We also made some adjustments on our cell phone plan to get it reduced just a bit.

-I got LOTS of free entertainment this week, the best sort of entertainment.  I watched our community theatre's production of Beauty and the Beast Jr which stars Maceo as Gaston four times this week and every time for FREE.  I volunteered three times as an usher and once with the boutique which allows me to view it without purchasing a ticket.

It is a good start but we still have a lot of work to do!!!

Lifestyle of Learning 2017 Edition: Volume Eight

February 19 - 25

Bishop read some of his chemistry book.
Maceo joined a friend at Nakato's to celebrate a friends birthday.
Maceo officially entered tech week on the production of Beauty and the Beast Jr.  (11 1/2 hours)
Bishop had his culinary internship where he made a carrot cake and cream cheese frosting.  This is a first for him.  In fact, I have never even made carrot cake before.
Maceo had a promotional performance for Beauty and the Beast.

Bishop read some more chemistry and I got him the book, "The Chemistry of Alchemy."
Maceo went to troupe and teen players.
Maceo is working his way through all the movies nominated for an Academy Award.
Bishop researched  Mariner 9 for an oral report to be given in science group; however, Bishop got the flu and was unable to attend science group and pottery.  Shucks!
Maceo performed with the school touring company.  He performed twice as Horton and once as the Mayor of Whoville.

Bishop made gingered carrot pickles.
Bishop watched Viceland, including a show called Hate Thy Neighbor which explores various hate groups in America.
And, FINALLY, Beauty and the Beast Jr. has opened!!!

The cast performed in front of an audience six times this week.  Amazing!
The show was amazing!
Maceo was amazing!

It has been a good week!