Monday, October 5, 2015

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

A friend emailed me some really good coupons for JoAnn Fabrics.  I used two of them to purchase fabric I need for a couple of projects on my list.  I had to do two transactions in order to use both coupons so my oldest went through and paid for one piece with my gift card making that order cost nothing out of pocket.  I paid cash for my order which will be a Christmas gift.  The coupons saved me a considerable amount of money overall.

I finished up some Christmas and birthday gifts for my daughters and wrapped them with gift wrap I had bought at the dollar store a while ago.  The Christmas wrap was actually from two years ago and I finished up the rest of the roll.  I'm excited now to get to use the new stuff I bought after Christmas last year.

I listed three more items in my Etsy store.  They are a few of the "rustic" signs I made.  I hope they find a good home.

I rinsed out an empty bottle of laundry detergent which gave me enough soap to wash a sizeable load of clothes.  I rinsed out an empty bottle of dish soap which gave me enough suds to wash a load of dishes.  I added plain tap water to my bottle of facial cleanser and shook it up to give me another week or so of cleanser.

I used up an apple that had gone soft by chopping it up and making apple fritters for breakfast.

The school district had a two day state in-service for all the teachers meaning my daughters ended up having a four day weekend.  I took Thursday and Friday off from work and decided to stay home with them and enjoy a long weekend as well.  We had a fun and productive time.

Thursday we took the insulation I bought at the Habitat thrift store for $4 and installed it in the chicken coop.  Actually, I instructed the girls on what to do and they did the work.  They thought that was pretty neat.  I also wired the light I had bought for $1 to an extra extension cord I had in the garage and installed that as well.  Afterward we went to one of our favorite diners for a burger and then made a trip to the feed store and got us an extra water feeder for under $6.  Now the hens are officially ready for cold weather and we each got a delicious burger for our efforts.

Penelope approves

One of our neighbors, who buy eggs from us, stopped by to give me an extra egg carton she saved for us and said we have the best eggs ever.  Our neighbors on the other side told us the same thing a couple weeks ago.  It makes me so proud of my little flock.  My aunt says it might have something to do with the" mansion" they live in and the fact they are loved so much.  She might be right about that.  J

I treated myself to a pair of potted chrysanthemums at Lowe's for $10.  I pulled all the spent petunia plants in our pots and replaced them with the mums.  I put out some fall décor and my ceramic jack-o-lantern.  It is so nice to have our front porch decorated for fall now.

Friday morning I went out early in the morning and picked a dozen fresh jalapeños and a bell pepper.  I went in and immediately made a batch of hot pepper jelly.  I love to spread cream cheese on top of a Wheat Thin cracker and then place a dollop of the jelly on top.  Yum!

After the jam was done I put on a pot of chili and let it cook low and slow all day while we headed off to walk along the Boise river on the greenbelt.  On the way home we stopped at the library to return books and check out new ones.  

We finished up our day out by stopping at Dairy Queen for a small Blizzard treat.  (I couldn't believe we were sitting outside, on their patio, enjoying the sunshine and eating ice cream in October)  It was such a nice time and when we finally got home dinner was ready. After playing with the chickens for a little bit and getting them fed we enjoyed some of the best chili I think I have ever made.  It was so good.

I put a quart size container of chili away in the freezer for later and the rest went in the fridge to enjoy over the weekend.

The chickens blessed us with 20 eggs last week.

Friday, October 2, 2015

30 Things In 30 Days - October

I made myself another list of things to do.  I was super inspired after how well I did on last month's list.  One again, if I don't complete everything on this list I have to remember that it is okay.

This is what I have planned for this month:

1.          Count my blessings
2.         Go to the $$ Store
3.         Send a letter or card to someone
4.         Family Game Nite!
5.         Invite guests over for a visit or dinner
6.         Make a gift
7.         Sew or craft something
8.         Make a monthly meal plan for November
9.         Make a menu for Christmas
10.       Try a new recipe
11.        Read a book or write
12.       Family Movie Nite!
13.       Winterize the chicken coop
14.       Get garden ready for winter
15.        Investment cooking
16.       Repurpose/recycle something
17.       Go on a date with my youngest
18.       Make or buy and wrap two more Christmas gifts
19.       Family outing
20.      Bake something and share it
21.       Get yard ready for winter
22.       Re-seed the lawn
23.       Complete a $5 or $10 home improvement project
24.       Make throw pillow for chair in living room
25.       Prune a tree
26.       Family Nite Out!
27.       List something to sell on eBay, Etsy or Craigslist
28.       Work on new inventory for Etsy store
29.       Decorate for fall
30.       Take some time for myself

Frosted the glass on our updated kitchen light fixtures

This is how I did last month:

1.          Count my blessings
2.         Go to the $$ Store  Didn't need anything so I didn't go. J
3.         Send a letter or card to someone
4.         Family Game Nite!
5.         Invite guests over for a visit or dinner
6.         Make a gift
7.         Sew or craft something
8.         Make a monthly meal plan for October
9.         Make a menu for Thanksgiving
10.       Try a new recipe
11.        Read a book or write
12.        Family Movie Nite!
13.        Deep clean chicken coop
14.       Clean up garden
15.        Investment cooking  salsa
16.       Repurpose/recycle something  I gave our upstairs bathroom mirror a new look rather than replace it.
17.        Mix compost with chicken manure
18.       Make or buy and wrap two Christmas gifts
19.       Family outing  Car show
20.       Bake something and share it
21.        Rake the entire yard
22.       Clean the gutters
23.       Complete a $5 or $10 home improvement project  Winterized the door leading out to garage
24.       Make my bedroom curtains
25.       Wash mini blind in dining room window
26.       Family Nite Out!
27.       List something to sell on eBay, Etsy or Craigslist  4 scarf & head warmer sets
28.       Work on new inventory for Etsy store
29.       Make pillowcases for our camp pillows
30.       Take some time for myself  I allowed myself the luxury of laying around in my pajamas and watched TV over Labor Day weekend.

Plus this item I really wanted to get done last month:

24.       Update upstairs bathroom mirror  Looks so good!

And these two items from a couple of months before:

19.       Fix our garage door  no more drafts
21.        Winterize our overhead garage door  So happy to finally have this done.  I've wanted it for years.

Not too shabby for one month's work!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Rustic Signs Project

For quite awhile I have been packing around a bunch of graphics I had printed off a freebie site a few years ago with the idea I'd be able to make some cute signs and artwork with them.  Finally I got the opportunity to make some.

Remember when I had mentioned a couple of week ago about stopping at the millwork place near my office and scoring some nice pieces from their "Free Wood" bin.  Well I spent the better part of a Sunday using my new saw and a bunch of stuff I already had on hand in my garage and my craft supplies and made a few signs.

I had the idea to make them rustic, like the sides of crates, leaving any flaws and imperfections in the wood.  I think it adds character.  I decoupaged the graphics onto the wood and sealed them with exterior grade varathane.

I always wanted to make this Fresh Eggs sign to attach to our chicken coop.

I love the look of these vintage inspired food labels.  Isn't it so nice when you can take a vision in your head and make it an actual thing just like you imagined?

I made several, more than I need, but I had the supplies and I was having a ball.  I went ahead and listed a few in my Etsy store because I think they'd make great gifts.  Aren't they cute?

My birthday saw

It's a rarity that I get to just play for a day.  However, I think it needs to be less rare and I plan to do stuff like this more often.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

My Uber Thrifty Month In Review - September

I had a really great month financially in September.  I was so blessed to be able to easily pay my monthly bills well before their due dates and my mortgage payment was made two weeks ahead of time.  Simply by making that mortgage payment just two weeks early is seriously impacting my principal balance and will save me considerably on interest payments.

I made progress on my debt payoff goals as well as adding some to savings.  I received my annual statement on one of my retirement accounts and was very happy to see the growth it has made.  I continue to add the maximum I can contribute to my 401(k) twice a month.  I also got a cost of living raise at work.

I focused a lot of attention to some home improvement projects.  In order to stay on track with my financial goals I knew that any projects would have to be completed on a very tight budget or not at all.  I was very fortunate to accomplish several.

By using what I already had, shopping around and checking out a home improvement thrift store I was actually able to accomplish more than I had originally planned.  We have two Habitat For Humanity thrift stores in town and I was able to locate several items on my list at one of those which ended up saving me quite a bit of money.  In fact, I found a Kohler brand porcelain sink to replace our worn out one in our upstairs bathroom for only $15.  This find allowed me to complete an extra project that was unplanned but definitely needed.  And for a fraction of the cost I had anticipated.  The same sink at Home Depot would have cost me $69.

Christmas gifts took a little bit of a back seat in lieu of all of the other projects on the docket, but I did manage to acquire a few inexpensive items for my girl's upcoming birthdays.  So not a total loss in the gift giving department.  I'll have to pull double duty next month to make up for my lack of progress and get myself caught up.

The other thing I worked on was getting our pantry and freezer loaded up for winter so my grocery budget flew right out the window.  I got some fantastic buys which allowed me to accomplish this task without going bankrupt.  The upside is I won't have to do much in the way of shopping in the next few months which is the ultimate goal.  With careful menu planning and use of leftovers all of this food should last quite a long time.

I managed to make my last tank of gas last five days longer than the month prior which was nice.  When I filled up my tank this time I used my rewards points to save an extra 10¢ a gallon and prices were down too so I saved quite a bit.

Yes, I am truly pleased with how last month went.  Now on to kicking butt in October.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Monthly Menu Planner - October

This month was a disaster for our meal plan but our meals were anything but disastrous.  Because I had restocked our chest freezer and pantry for winter I decided it was important to make sure and use up a collection of odds and ends in the house freezer as well as to use up the meat in the chest freezer that was prior to my latest purchases.  I wanted to make sure nothing got forgotten about and became freezer burned or wasted.

This time I went through my collection of cookbooks and my old meal plans to get some new inspiration for October.  I was getting the feeling that a lot of our meals were becoming redundant.  And while I won't be able to get away with a complete change I did come up with quite a few new things as well as stuff I haven't prepared for awhile.  The girls will be happy as their favorites are still included.

This is what we have planned for our meals next month:

Biscuits & Gravy, Fruit Salad
Pepperoni Pizza, Garden Salad
Split Pea Soup, Cornbread, Lettuce Wedges
Pork Chops, Mashed Potatoes, Onion Gravy, Peas & Carrots
Pasta Alfredo, Caesar Salad
Corn Dogs, Tater Tots, Veggies & Dip
Cheese Omelets, Toast, Fresh Fruit
Grilled Tuna Sandwiches, Tomato Soup
Chili Con Carne, Corn Muffins
Lasagna, French Bread, Tossed Green Salad
Beef & Bean Burritos, Garden Salad
French Toast, Ham, Sliced Peaches
Tortellini Soup, Breadsticks, Caesar Salad
Grilled Sirloin, Baked Potatoes, Steamed Broccoli
Chicken Fried Rice, Egg Drop Soup
Meatball Subs, Garden Salad
Ham & Cheese Quiche, Fruit Salad
Cheese Pizza, Tossed Green Salad
Clam Chowder, Garlic Cheddar Biscuits, Lettuce Wedges
Beef Stroganoff, Egg Noodles, Green Beans
Grilled Ham & Cheese Sandwiches, Veggies & Dip
Breakfast Hash, Toast, Apple Wedges
Chili & Cheese Stuffed Baked Potatoes, Sour Cream, Steamed Broccoli

I incorporated a lot of use of leftovers this time.  Not only will we make sure to minimize food waste but it will also mean I will have fewer meals to cook and extra time to focus in other areas.

Do you do any type of meal planning?  What wonderful things do you have planned to eat?

Monday, September 28, 2015

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

My oldest used up the last four strips of bacon in a package and some leftover tortillas to make us all breakfast burritos for Sunday breakfast.  They were delicious with our homemade salsa.  I have to say I really love how much my girls enjoy cooking.  So nice to have someone prepare me a meal every once in awhile.

Our crisper drawer was empty.  I had used up everything with the exception of a quarter of a yellow onion.  After work on Monday I went to Fred Meyer and bought a fresh batch of produce.  I was really happy to find 3 bags of Dole salad mix marked down to 39¢ each.  I bought all of them for us and the chickens too.  Anytime I can find marked down produce to supplement my hen's diet I buy it.

I received two packets of coupons in the mail from Fred Meyer.  I also did a quick Fred Meyer online survey and earned 50 bonus rewards points to use when I purchase my next tank of gas.

Tuesday evening I pulled out our old chipped and rusty bathroom sink and installed the new (to us) sink I bought at the Habitat thrift store.  I was able to reuse our faucet as it is still in great shape and all the plumbing fittings were still good too.  All I had to buy in addition to the sink was a small container of plumbers putty and the can of Barkeeper's Friend I used to clean everything up.  A little elbow grease really paid off in making it all nice.  It looks fantastic!

Ta da!

Wednesday I completed a $5 home improvement project and I plan to do another one very soon.  I can't believe I will complete both for less than $10.  So I'll be writing a separate post about it.  Here's a sneak peek:

We made a trip to the library to turn in books we finished reading and check out new ones.  Anymore I find it impossible not to have a good book around to read.

I veered off the meal plan again this week and used up a bunch of miscellaneous items hanging out in the fridge and freezer.  It has made for some interesting meals lately.  Amazingly after three weeks I still have stuff in there to use up.

I composted coffee grounds, tea bags, eggs shells, grape stems and onion skins.  I harvested more tomatoes from the garden.  I gave the chickens our kitchen scraps and some of our tomatoes.

I washed out a one gallon Ziploc bag to reuse.

The chickens blessed us with 22 eggs.

How thrifty were you last week?

Friday, September 25, 2015

Only 3 Months Left Until Christmas

Yikes!  I can't believe we are talking only three months left until Christmas Day.  Holy Cow!  Time is flying!

I've got a good head start on my gift list.  Most of what I'm giving this year, as with most years, is homemade so I pretty much have to get started early or I won't get finished in time.  I love to make gifts for my friends and family and I try to make things I know they will truly enjoy and use.  Even with items I purchase as gifts I try to make it something useful.

My goal every year is to get all of my gifts done and wrapped by the end of Thanksgiving weekend.  Then I can focus on decorating, baking, parties, visiting and other holiday celebrations.  I don't enjoy shopping so I really don't enjoy shopping when the stores are packed and chaotic at Christmas.  I do my best to stay out of the stores during December and I don't do the whole Black Friday thing either.

I really enjoy making my own Christmas cards too and I love to type up our annual Christmas letter and share the highlights of our year with my friends and family members I don't get to see on a regular basis.  I think it is a great way to update everyone.  I will usually get my cards ready over the Thanksgiving weekend, tuck a letter inside and address the envelopes.  I even buy Christmas themed postage stamps ahead of time to use.

We make decorating the tree an event each year by setting it up on "Hors d' oeuvre Night".  It is a family tradition where we make lots of delicious snacks and appetizers to eat while we decorate the tree.  I also like to include a nice dessert.  My girls look forward to this even every year.

Chewy Gingersnaps
Baking is a big deal for us at the holidays.  We love to make our favorites and try a couple new things too.  Of course sharing with friends, co-workers and loved ones is a must.

On Christmas Eve, after supper, we climb in the car and tour the neighborhood to look at lights.  When we get home we hurry and check the internet to see where Santa is.  Once he hits the east coast we hustle off to bed so we are sure to be asleep before he gets to our house.

Time to get busy! J