Friday, March 27, 2015

Our Girls Are One Month Old Already


I wasn’t quite sure how it would be to raise baby chicks inside the house this time of year but so far it is working out fantastically.  It is too chilly to have them in our garage like I did last time.  I can't believe it has been a month already and our girls are doing really well.  They are growing up and are healthy and happy in their dog crate turned chick brooder.

Surprisingly the layer of pine bedding has been tremendous in providing the girls a comfortable floor in the brooder and absorbing odors.  We keep it fairly tidy throughout the week and I do a complete clean out once a week.  The used bedding goes into our compost bin.


During the daytime I keep the light on so they have faux daylight and then when the sun starts to go down I turn the light off and let them settle down and prepare for sleep.  I have an old throw that I cover the brooder with to make it dark inside and they are off to dreamland.

Matilda helping me shop for chicken feeders
We wash their feeders often as they tend to mess them up on a regular basis and as they grow they are eating and drinking more too.  I the past two weeks, as the weather has permitted, we take them outside onto the lawn to play around and stretch their legs.  They have a ball.  After about an hour they are all tuckered out and let us know they are ready to head back in by jumping into our laps and hunkering down.

Edith and Penelope
I love how they get so excited to see me when I come home from work every night.  They rush to the door of their brooder and hop up and down until I come and say hello.  Most people don't really think of chickens as affectionate creatures but I beg to differ.  Our girls love to be held and cuddled.

Nothing quite like being mauled by a bunch of sweet
little chickies.  A little bit crazy aren't I?
This week I gave them some of my homemade bread and they absolutely loved it.  I've given them lettuce leaves and they aren't as excited about those yet but when I gave them a slice of tomato they went nuts.  One grabbed it and the chase was on.  I ended up getting them another one so they would settle down and share.

Rosemary and her sisters.  Pretty happy group of girls.
Now that they are getting bigger and doing so well I am far less nervous about them getting ill and passing away.  With the rough start we had in the beginning I'm afraid I was a bit of an anxious chicken mommy there for awhile.

They are so sweet and I just love them to pieces.  And spoiled.  Oh my gosh.

Just a little bit. J



Thursday, March 26, 2015

KIS - Using Up Leftovers


One of the easiest ways to save money and control waste is to be diligent about using our leftover food.  Most of our leftovers get consumed in our weekday lunches.  Others are eaten for supper saving me from having to make an entirely new meal and giving me a little break.

I save leftover veggies and broth in a plastic container in the freezer to add to soup.  Whenever I brown meat I like to remove a little to freeze and use later to top a pizza.  Stale bread becomes bread crumbs or croutons.


Freezing things we can't eat up right away makes for a quick grab for someone's lunch later down the road.  

In the rare instance we have sour milk it is used in recipes and baked goods.  Especially pancakes and waffles.


We compost our kitchen scraps.  Soon a lot of that will be going to our chickens to supplement their feed and give them variety.  I love to spoil my girls and give them lots of bread and produce.

I've written a couple of other posts on using up leftovers.  You can read them here, here and here.



Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Am I A Cheapskate Or Just Thrifty? Is There a Difference?


I recently came across this article by The Organic Prepper that was shared on facebook.  I had to read it to see how I compared:

Do you enjoy saving a buck more than most people? Do you have a black belt in frugality? Here are 20 surefire signs that you are embracing your cheap side.  How many things on this list apply to you?

1.     You take it as a personal challenge to see how long you can go without spending money. The game is even better if you have a spouse or friend with whom you can compete.

Okay yes, I have had a few "No Spend Months" here and there.

2.        You don’t let food go to waste. You have an ice cream tub in your freezer nearly full of odd bits of leftovers, awaiting their reincarnation into “leftover casserole” or “leftover soup”.

I will save leftover veggies in a small plastic container, but that's usually about it.

3.          It’s physically impossible for you to drive past an interesting-looking garbage pile at the curb during somebody else’s spring cleaning frenzy, much to the dismay of your children. (Although there’s always that one kid who’s excited to dig through the pile with you!)

Nope.  I'm not interested in that activity whatsoever as it leads to clutter and I don't do clutter well.  I have no problem however, with those who do.  In fact, I'm a bit envious of those that find stuff and give it a fabulous makeover.

4.     Your first stop at the grocery store is the “last day of sale” rack in each department. When you get home with your stash, you immediately set to freezing, dehydrating, or canning your inexpensive score.

You know this is true about me.  I am always checking out the markdown bins and racks for rock bottom prices.  My freezer is pretty much filled with meats that were "Reduced For Quick Sale".

5.        Your kid looks at a necklace or pair of earrings at the “cool” store and scoffs, “We could make this.”  Then she puts it back and asks you to take her to the thrift store for items to disassemble for the supplies to make her own accessories.

Guilty.  Both of my girls have said this on more than one occasion.  We have an entire storage tote filled with beads and jewelry making supplies.

6.        You don’t have cable. Your viewing, if you watch television at all, is done via an internet subscription service or even a rabbit ear antenna  on top of the TV.

We don't have cable and we do have an Amazon Prime membership which includes a vast selection of streaming movies and television shows.  We also watch Hulu and PBS online which is free.  Our Roku allows us to watch online programming with our TV.

7.        A day of yard-saling is planned out like a military invasion: you have a Mapquest route of at least a half dozen sales, a thermos full of coffee, a wallet full of small bills, and a list including measurements of all empty spaces in your home that need to be filled, kitchen items you are seeking, books your daughter wants to read, and upcoming birthdays.  Your alarm is set the night before, a blueberry muffin is wrapped up and ready to go on the counter, and your comfy clothes are laid out.

I rarely yard sale but I do look for items on Craigslist and eBay.  I also enjoy shopping thrift stores and antique shops.  I sometimes think I should be better about yard saleing.  Maybe this year?

8.        Before throwing anything in the garbage you take a few seconds to ponder how it might be reused. Then, you either compost it, put it aside for a re-purpose, or you turn it into homemade “log” for your fire.

Yep, I must admit to this one.  I'm an avid composter and recycler.  My goal is to send as little to the landfill as I possibly can.  Haven't made any fire logs, however. J

9.        If something breaks, you try to fix it. If it must be replaced or purchased, you always look for a used version first before doling out the money for a new one.

Of course.  I try to fix it first, if not then I replace it.  I do shop around to find the best quality I can for as little as possible.  Sometimes it's used, sometimes it's new.

10.      You know how to darn socks….and you do it.

Yes.  Moving on.

11.      You have a special super-skinny rubber spatula earmarked just for getting the very last bit of whatever out of jars and bottles in the kitchen.

Doesn't everybody?

12.      You wash and re-use sandwich baggies, and you’ve even rigged up a little drying rack for them beside your sink.

Don't be silly.  It's quart and gallon size and I use a hanger and clothespins and hang them to drip dry over my laundry basket.

13.   You are outraged at the idea of spending $18 on a jug of laundry detergent because you could make a year’s supply for that amount of money.

I wouldn't spend that much on laundry detergent to be sure and I've tried the homemade stuff and didn't care for it.  I just buy it on sale and use coupons to save even more.

14.      You have recently advised your child to cut off that teeny bit of mold on the brick of cheese because the other side is just fine.

Fortunately cheese never lasts long enough in our house to grow mold.  So no on this one.

15.      You don’t carve the Jack-o-Lanterns until the day before Halloween so that you can cook, puree, and can the pumpkin the day after Halloween.

I admit I've thought about it but I don't like to carve jack-o-lanterns and I prefer the little sugar pumpkins.

16.      You know how to repair a plastic clothes hamper by “welding it” with a bread tag and a hot glue gun.

I can neither confirm nor deny…

17.      The dish soap beside your sink is actually 50% dish soap and 50% water.

Not quite but I do rinse out every last bit with warm water before I toss the empty bottle into the recycle bin.

18.  You can’t really understand how other moms spend hundreds of dollars on scrapbooking supplies, when your scrapbooks filled with reclaimed do-dads look just as awesome for mere pennies .

I do buy scrapbooking supplies but I keep the expenses to a minimum.  I am pretty particular about my stuff being archive safe.

19.      The concept of spending $25 dollars or more to get your nails done is as foreign to you as the concept of riding an ostrich around your yard.

True, true, true.  I did it briefly before I had my girls but couldn't quite justify the expense. Especially after figuring out the total annual cost.  I went to the beauty supply store and bought the stuff to do them myself and then it was the realization that I was spending a tremendous amount of time on this little project and it all just seemed too wasteful so I stopped.  Plus I thought the chemical exposure probably wasn’t a good idea either.

Does the list above make you say, “It’s like Daisy knows me!!!”? What are some other signs that you might be a cheapskate? We’ll do a reader’s choice version soon! 

So, how would you rate?





Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Grocery Budget Update - March


Flexibility ruled this month.  My stock up meat item this month was supposed to be ground pork but I stumbled across a couple of nice tavern hams in the markdown bin and decided to go in that direction.  I still had stock up money left so I bought four packages of bacon on sale.  We didn't have any ham or bacon so this was perfect timing.  I also spent a lot of this month's budget to stock up on a lot of pantry staples and some frozen items.


My non food budget came in perfectly at $24.06.  I was thrilled with that.  I bought cat food, cat litter, facial tissues and sandwich bags.  I used coupons and purchased everything on sale so I was spending as little as possible on each item.  The sandwich bags I bought at the dollar store.

This is the food breakdown for the month.  The items I highlighted are the stock up items:

Groceries

 $$$





Whole wheat flour - 50#

         13.44
Cash & Carry
Oatmeal

         13.75
Cash & Carry
Orange juice (2)

          1.98
Store Coupon
Butter (2)

          4.00
Store Coupon
Pot roast

          9.19
Markdown
Salad dressing (2)

          0.98
Sale/Coupon
Nutella

          2.09
Markdown
Oyster crackers (2)

          0.98
Store Coupon
Spaghetti sauce (10)

          7.50
Sale
Canned veggies (8)

          2.00
Store Coupon
Frozen dinners (10)

          7.50
Sale
Frozen sausage (10)

          7.50
Sale
Bacon (4)

          7.96
Store Coupon
Ham (2)

         10.71
Markdown
Ground beef (2)

          4.77
Markdown
Tomatoes

          0.79
Sale
Onions

          0.81

Bananas

          1.01
Sale
Tortillas (4)

          3.00
Sale
Snapple - 6pk

          4.99
Sale
Bottled water

0.75
Sale/Coupon
Lettuce

1.49

Store Promotion Coupon

         (5.00)
Store Coupon
Spaghetti (3)

          2.37
Sale
M&Ms (2)

          4.00
Store Coupon/Coupon
Parmesan

          1.59
Store Coupon
Milk - 1/2 gal. (2)

          1.98
Store Coupon
Pepperoni

          1.49
Markdown
Baking cocoa

          1.59
Markdown
Whipped topping mix (2)

          2.58
Markdown
Cheese (2)

          2.33
Store Coupon
Blue corn chips

          1.69
Markdown
Tortilla chips (3)

          2.00
Store Coupon
Tuna (4)

          2.39
Store Coupon
Customer Appreciation Rebate

         (7.55)

Olives

          1.00
Dollar Store
Cheese slices (2)

          2.00
Dollar Store
Sundried tomatoes

          1.00
Dollar Store
Eggs - 1 doz (2)

          1.98
Store Coupon
Parmesan

          0.99
Store Coupon
Milk - 1/2 gal.

          0.99
Store Coupon
Lettuce

          0.88

Sour cream

          1.25
Coupon




Total

 $    128.74


It looks like I went over a little bit but I actually didn't go over as much as you think.  I had change leftover from my January and February budget to use.  I will, however, be starting March out with a 31¢ deficit, which I can comfortably live with.


You'll notice the $5 OFF $50 purchase coupon from Albertsons and my $7.55 rebate from Fred Meyer gave me an extra $12.55 in buying power this month.  Free money!  I'll take it!

$128.74 ÷ 31 days ÷3 people = $1.38 per person per day!

How did you save money on groceries this month?  Were you able to find some good sales and stock up on anything?