Friday, October 24, 2014

Spicy Italian Sausage & Pasta

We loooooove this recipe.  Super simple to make and fast too.

Spicy Italian Sausage & Pasta

1 pkg. hot Italian sausages
2 cans Italian style diced tomatoes
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp. dried basil
2Tbs. olive oil
1 pound pasta, cooked and drained
Parmesan cheese

Slice the sausage links.  

Heat oil in a large pot and sauté sausage.  

Add tomatoes, one tomato can filled with water, garlic and basil stirring well to combine.  

I start my pasta water while I saute the sausage
so it is done at the same time the sauce is ready.
Simmer for 20 minutes.  Stir occasionally.

Basil & fresh garlic added.
Toss pasta together with sausage and sauce.  Serve garnished with parmesan.

If spicy isn't your thing the mild Italian sausage is every bit as delicious in this recipe.  Either way you can't go wrong. J

Thursday, October 23, 2014

How I Plan On Stocking Up On Meat For Winter

Meat prices have been crazy high lately.  My goal to keep purchases under $2 a pound or package has been nearly next to impossible.  But not completely.  On top of that we moved back into our house with a completely empty chest freezer and winter is fast approaching.

I always feel much better going into winter with a full freezer so my goal right now is to fill up that freezer.  So far I've been fortunate to find quite a few bargains in the markdown bin but the sales have been less than stellar.

Last week Albertson's had pork roasts and skinless boneless chicken breasts for $1.99 a pound.  I couldn't pass it up.  Using money from next month's budget I purchased two large pork roasts and five pounds of chicken breasts which I repackaged when I got home.

All re-wrapped and ready to go.
While I continue to scope out the markdown bins at the grocery stores I will be focusing my grocery dollars on a few key items.

Ground beef and turkey
Ground pork sausage
Pot roast
Whole turkey - for Thanksgiving
Rib eye steaks - for Christmas dinner

So far the freezer in the garage is only about a quarter full.  I don't need to fill it to the top but it does need to be a little bit fuller.  All in due time I suppose. J

What kind of winter preparations are important to you?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

HalloWine Party Plans On A Budget

Some of the ladies I work with have been anxious for a get together at my house.  I decided to have them over for a Halloween themed wine party.  I set a budget of $25 to put this together.

I made the invitations on my computer and hand delivered them so no postage was needed.

The dollar store supplied me with Halloween plates, napkins, a black plastic table cloth and a package of toy rings.  I thought the rings would make great wine glass markers.  Pretty clever, huh?  Total spent - $5.

Two bottles of wine on sale for $5.99 each at Walgreens plus a$2 rebate on each bottle.  Total spent $9.98.

Isn't this cute?  I tested it out to make sure they didn't fall off.
They didn't.  LOL.
I plan to make a few appetizers using items I already have on hand but I also needed a few items as well.  I bought half a pound of shrimp on sale for $3.99/lb and cream cheese on sale for 88¢ each along with a bottle of cocktail sauce for $.99.  I also picked up two boxes of crackers on sale for 2/$4 and used a $1 coupon - Total spent - $6.87

Ever make this easy shrimp dip?
Layer cream cheese with cocktail sauce and shrimp.  Serve with crackers.
Walgreens had peanuts and candy corn on sale so I picked up a bag of each to mix together and set out in small dishes - total spent $2.99.

On the invitations I asked the ladies to bring a bottle of wine or an appetizer to share so there will have plenty to enjoy.  This not only helps with the expense but allows us to sample a larger variety wines and tasty appetizers.  
Grand total spent $24.84.  Barely made it but I did it!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Our Cloth Napkins

A couple weeks ago I found a darling fruit basket on sale at ShopKo for $4.99.  I wanted one just like this to keep our cloth napkins in so I was very happy when I found exactly what I was looking for.  Even more so that it was on sale.

After placing the napkins in the basket it looked so cute I decided it needed to be on the shelf of our cabinet in the dining room.  It looks great sitting there too.  Do you use cloth napkins or do you prefer paper?

For the longest time I used paper napkins but I can't say I loved them.  I decided a little more than a year ago to make my own cloth napkins and use them instead.  I definitely can say I LOVE my cloth napkins.

I made them with fabric from my stash using up a bunch of extras pieces I had.  They are made from two pieces stitched together so they are extra durable and absorbent.  The cotton blend fabrics I used make them easy to launder and they come out relatively wrinkle free.

I made some using fall themed fabric which are perfect for our Thanksgiving table, a Hawaiian print for BBQs on the deck, and calico prints for everyday use.  This year I hope to make some out of Christmas print fabric.

Want to make some like I did?  This is how Idid it.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

After nearly two weeks without grocery shopping I headed into Albertsons to take advantage of some really good sales items.  This is what I got:

Four boxes of cereal on sale - 3 for $1.88 each less a 50¢ coupon made the final priced $1.38 and a box of Captain Crunch on sale for $1.99 just because I wanted it. J
4 cans of soup - 2/$1
4 cans of green beans and 2 cans of corn - 49¢ each
6 cans of spaghetti sauce - 77¢ each
6 boxes of breakfast sausage links - 77¢ each
2 cartons of fruit punch - $1 each
2 cartons of eggs - 89¢ each

I also picked up a package of lean ground beef on markdown for $2.29 and a pot roast on sale for $9.00.  The bagels were in the markdown bin at the bakery for 99¢.

On my birthday I found a rug at Fred Meyer that would be perfect in our living room.  I almost bought it for $129.00 but my gut told me to wait for it to go on sale.  I am so happy that I waited because I was able to buy it on sale last week and save a whopping $40!  It looks great.

We veered from our menu plan quite a bit.  Instead of the meatloaf I had originally planned for our Sunday dinner I made the pot roast I got on sale.  I used the leftover roast to make a batch of Bolognese and invited a friend over for supper.  Then I saved the last of the roast to make some beef barley soup.

Thursday we made a pizza and used up quite a few leftover items in the fridge.  We had leftover cheese, mushrooms, pepperoni, bell pepper, diced onion and diced ham.  Even the dough was leftover as I had made breadsticks to go with the Bolegnese using half the recipe of dough.  It was an awesome pizza and it sure didn't taste like it was made of leftovers. 

My slow cooker was looking pretty dingy so I put 2 Tbs. of bleach in it and filled it up with hot water.  After letting it soak for about 20 minutes it looked good as new.  Before I dumped it out I used some of the water to clean a tea stain out of the bottom of one of my white coffee cups.

I went to the movies on "Tightwad Tuesday" for only $5 a ticket.  I used a gift card I got for Christmas last year to pay for my ticket and saw Dracula Untold.  Loved it!

A couple of weeks ago I unpacked my son's old Sega Genesis game and set it up for the girls to use on our old TV set.  They were able to determine one of the controllers wasn't working anymore.  I found a set of replacement controllers on eBay for $6.88 with free shipping.  They arrived this week and work perfectly.  The girls are in hog heaven.

Thursday after work I went to ShopKo to exchange a pair of my daughter's jeans and pick up some new mini blinds that were on sale.  I was able to get two new blinds for $7.19 each.  I also had a $5 store coupon to use on my purchase.

While I was there I happened upon four packages of pudding cups on a clearance shelf for 50¢ each.  These will be great for the kid's lunches.

When I left the store I didn't make it to my vehicle and I knew I was heading back inside to make another purchase.  I bought this adorable ceramic jack-o-lantern for our front porch.  It was on sale for $19.99 and I had a $10 store coupon ShopKo had given me for my birthday so I just had to use it.  Now I have a jack-o-lantern on the porch the squirrels can't eat and make a mess all over the place.

Isn't he cute?!
Not so thrifty, but necessary, was to purchase a book of stamps at the post office.  Since I was there I picked up a book of Christmas stamps to.  I like to use those after Halloween to send mail as well as my Christmas cards.  I will be paying myself back for the stamps I use for cards out of the Christmas Budget.

One of the managers at work gave me some Friendship Bread starter.  The last starter I had going for 11 years.  I let it go when we moved so I am extra excited to get it going again.  We loooooove Friendship Bread.

I watched a cooking show on PBS online for free.  Now I am anxious to try making Artisan Bread.  I've heard it is delicious and dead easy.

We watched Castle and The Goldberg's on our Roku.

I baked four loaves of whole wheat bread and my oldest made a batch of chocolate chip cookies.

I went through all of my partially used labels and used them up to make return address labels and all the mailing labels I will need for Christmas.

I also burned three music CDs to give as gifts.  I already had blank discs, cases and CD labels in my office supplies making this a no cost project.

How was your thrifty week?  Any great bargains?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Christmas All Year Long - Books!

I love to receive a good book or a cookbook as a gift.  Even more, I love to give one.  A real life book that you hold in your hand and turn the pages.  Don't get me wrong.  I appreciate the Kindle and all those other technological gadgets out there but I still like a book.

I am always amazed when I go to thrift store how many wonderful books I can find for very little money.  A lot of them are even brand new or still like new.  The dollar store is another great place to buy books.  They stock a lot of hardback books from overstocked bookstores.  I have found many books and cookbooks there as well.

And don’t forget to hit the clearance shelves at the bookstores.  That is another great way to inexpensively purchase a nice new book for someone to give as a gift, or even yourself for that matter.

Lastly, but certainly not least, I like Amazon as an inexpensive book source and you certainly can't beat the selection.  They have every book imaginable, even mine.  Don’t forget to check out the private listings too.  Often you can get what you want for less through a private seller.

When I give a book I also like to give a handmade bookmark to go with it.  It is terrible to be all warm and comfy in bed, ready to go to sleep and discover you don't have anything to hold your place in your book.  So rather than having to get up and go find something I will often include one as part of the gift.

Do you have an avid reader on your gift list this year?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Quick Upgrade

Did I show you this?

When we moved back in to our home we discovered the glass globes were missing and presumably broken from two of our ceiling fans.

A few years ago I had bought a contractors set of ceiling light fixtures at Lowes.  They were really nice and I was able to upgrade several light fixtures throughout the house at a considerable savings.  Plus they all matched, which for some, like me, is a big deal.

Lucky for me I happened to have one left in my garage and since the fan is pretty old and outdated I decided to upgrade that old thing by using our one remaining light fixture.

Now both bedrooms upstairs have matching lighting and it didn't cost me anything extra to do it.  My daughter is thrilled because her room no longer has a light fixture with a bare exposed bulb.  Just in time for her upcoming sleepover in which she is trying to make everything in her room look perfect.

I cannibalized the outdated ceiling fan before I scrapped it by removing the pull switches and the wire nuts.  I always need extra wire nuts and I am hoping to use one of the pull switches to repair the broken one in our dining room fixture.  I'll let you know if that works out.  I also kept some of the screws that held it together for my coffee can of miscellaneous fasteners I keep in the garage.

I spent about twenty minutes replacing the light, the girls helped me with the clean up and one more item is now out of the garage.  Definitely feeling good about this project all the way around.

Contractor's packs are a great way to save a chunk of money if you have multiple things to replace like electrical outlets, light fixtures, door locks, sprinkler heads, etc.  Check them out next time you have a big project planned.