Friday, August 26, 2016

A Trip To The Fair

We went to the Western Idaho Fair on Monday.  Going to the fair is definitely not a thrifty endeavor, but I got paid for house sitting for a friend this summer and it was more money than I was expecting.  I planned to put it all in savings, but decided instead to use it to take the girls to the fair.  Mainly because they had never been and we had not done any type of family vacation or road trip this summer.

I took off work at noon as Monday was family day, so if you wanted to buy a wristband for $29 you got in and could ride all the rides.  It was the best deal but to pay $87 for the three of us just to get in the gate nearly killed me.  I was doubting the wisdom in this but the girls rode enough rides to more than pay for our wristbands and I even went on some too!  Boy did I feel that the next day.  They had a blast.

We started out with rides.  Then a lunch of Pronto Pups, cotton candy and kettle corn (ugh).

Next we hit all the exhibits and I mean all of them.  We started with the animals then moved on to art and photography, baked goods, canned goods, home grown fruits and vegetables, quilts, homemade clothing, crafts, miniatures, you name it.  We saw it.

My oldest holding a hen for one of the 4-H kids
getting ready to show his chickens

We took in the all the vendors, the end of a juggling act, a singing sisters duo, more rides, the Olate Dogs from America's got talent, dinner (I don't even want to think about how much we spent on food), more rides and finished up with the petting zoo.

We left at 11:00 p.m. exhausted but despite how much it cost I was happy.  Because my girls had the best time and seeing their faces on those rides and hearing them say how much fun they were having was worth every penny.  That day I was super mom and if felt really good.

It is unfortunate that they have literally priced going to the fair out of reach for most families.  I had expected a lot more people to be there.  Longer lines for rides and food, but I imagine it is just too expensive for a lot of people.

Not so long ago it wasn't so expensive and you could pack a picnic lunch and bring water bottles or soda, a small cooler even.  Not anymore.  They search your bags and backpacks quite thoroughly to make sure you don't bring anything in.  Not even a bottle of water.  It is kind of a shame.

Spending that much is way outside my comfort zone.  I spent almost as much on food and bottled water as I did getting us into the place.  Just two meals and a couple of snacks.  Pretty darned insane.

Next time we decide to go to the fair we'll most likely be heading off to the smaller county fairs and carnivals.  To be honest, I kind of prefer them.  It's a shame though.  I wish our own hometown fair was more affordable so we could go again, but it is just too expensive.

Have you gone to the fair lately?

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Only Four More Months Until Christmas

Are you kidding me?!  How is that even possible?!

Needless to say I am going to have to get my rear in gear.  I haven't really done anything to get ready  in the past month and I have a lot to do.  At least I have a list!  Ha, ha!

I have pajamas to make, a couple other gifts to get started and quite a few things to order.  Eek!

What I do have is a start on our annual letter, the cards I plan to send out, all of our gift wrap, gift bags (we need tissue paper), tape and ribbon.

I do have a handful of gifts in my closet, but not nearly what I was hoping to have by now. Time to kick it up a notch, I'm afraid.  It will be here before we no it.

How about you?  Any progress?

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Prepping For School Lunches

Since today is the first day of school I thought I would share how I like to get things lined up for preparing school lunches.  I find a little bit of prepping ahead makes it much easier to get those lunches packed first thing in the morning.

As you probably already know (if you have followed my blog for awhile) we use insulated lunch bags and I have an assortment of plastic containers, spoons and forks, and drink bottles on hand to fill and reuse.  I also keep reusable ice packs in the freezer.

On Sunday morning I like to prep for the week ahead.  I get out the big bowl that holds all of our washed and clean containers and bottles.

I like to fill the bottles with milk, sometimes flavored milk and juice.  My girls also like to have a water bottle to take to school.  I usually buy one case of water bottles a year and they wash and refill them.

I prepare small containers with gelatin, fruit (or a combo of both), applesauce, etc.  I pull from the freezer any lunchmeat I plan to use.  I usually plan one PB & J each week.

For a change of pace from sandwiches I like to make a salad or a pasta salad for them to have.  I'll boil the pasta and put that together with veggies, sliced olives, some chicken or ham and a little homemade Italian salad dressing.  Another salad I make is one of our favorites - Chinese Chicken Salad.

I like to hard boil some eggs to have on hand.  Bananas and fresh fruit as well.

I like to keep individual packages of chips on hand too, but they aren’t a daily thing.  Only a couple times a week as they are more of a treat than a staple.

I also like to bake up a batch of cookies or brownies.  Cupcakes or sliced banana bread is nice too.  I enjoy baking and usually can come up with a variety of yummy and fairly healthy desserts.  Once they are cooled I package them up as well.  I also like to freeze extras for later to use later.

Each day when the kids get home ice packs go back in the freezer and containers are washed, dried and put back into the big bowl.  About midweek, usually Wednesday evening, I'll refill some drink bottles, as I don't have enough for all of us for the full week, and we carry on.

I sent my high schooler to band camp with a PB & J cut up like she was
in kindergarten.  She loved it and said it made her laugh.

Do you have any great tricks for getting lunches prepared?  What are some of your favorite items to pack?  I'd love some more ideas!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

My Favorite Egg Salad

This recipe is delicious, super simple and thrifty too!

Start with a few ingredients:

Hard boiled eggs, peeled and rinsed
Salt & pepper

I like to use an egg slicer to dice up my hard boiled eggs but a knife works just fine.  Then I add enough mayonnaise to moisten and a good dollop of prepared yellow mustard.

I personally skip the salt but I love a nice grind of cracked black pepper.  Stir to combine.

Other things that go nicely in this include:

Chopped black olives
Chopped dill or sweet pickle
Sweet relish
Thinly sliced green onion

I find I enjoy this as a sandwich for lunch, but what I really like is to toast half of a whole wheat or sour dough English muffin and top it with the egg salad and some more cracked pepper.  Breakfast is served!


Monday, August 22, 2016

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

Sunday morning we enjoyed breakfast at our neighborhood Dennys.  We love to go there and they have a great value menu perfect for families on a budget.  I had a $5 OFF coupon so our bill only came to $15.00 plus tax and a tip.

I spent the afternoon doing a little sewing.  I had a scrap of sweet blue calico that a friend gave me.  I've had it forever.  It was leftover from a quilt she had made.  I used it to make a hot pad.  I made a pretty lace trimmed table cloth too that I shared with you last week.

I took one of the vintage patterns I had bought from a seller on eBay and cut out a nightgown.  As I was cutting the fabric out I couldn't help but think, Wow, this pattern is 65 years old!  I'm pretty excited to see how it turns out.

After all the grocery shopping we did the week prior we ate strictly from what we had on hand.  I did not do any grocery shopping last week, which also made it a super low spend week.  I needed that!

Unexpectedly my daughter needed to bring drinks to a band party.  That is why I try to keep a couple extra 2 liter bottles of soda (bought on sale of course) in the pantry.  You just never know.

My daughter broke the thumb rest on her clarinet right in the middle of marching band practice and boy was she upset.  We called the music store and they told us they had one so the next day we headed clear across town and battled construction traffic to get it.  Turns out they happened to have one in their used parts pile but the man who does the repairs was out sick.  I told them that was fine and that I could put it on so they let us have it for free.  Score!

Early Saturday morning the wind shifted and gave us a welcome reprieve from the thick smoke we've been dealing with from a nearby forest fire.  I took advantage of it and opened all the windows and set the box fan at the back door to blow in lots of cool fresh air.

While the house was cool I took advantage of that and made a triple batch of almond granola.  It filled up two half gallon Mason jars.

I used up leftover chicken and vegetables in the refrigerator (from Sunday dinner) to make a soup.  I also put the chicken bones and some veggies together to make broth in the slow cooker. 

I worked four hours of overtime.  Fortunately I was able to do it all from home. 

I made homemade salad dressing.  Twice.

I ordered a free sample pack of feminine hygiene items from Kotex.

One of the salads I made to take to work

We shared our kitchen scraps and some extra spinach leaves with the hens.  We also gave them some stale bagels.  They were in heaven!

Another salad I made to take to work for lunch

I did an online survey for Fred Meyer and earned 50 bonus points towards a discount on fuel.

I rinsed out a laundry detergent bottle and had enough soap for a load of laundry and a little bit to add to another one.

I mended the seam on my daughter's blouse where it had come apart.

I pulled out our good old can of metallic silver spray paint once again and sprayed one of my daughter's favorite necklaces.  It was a cheap one and once the finish wore off the metal turned copper colored.  Once it dried I gave it a coat of urethane to help make it last.  She was thrilled.  I also did the same thing to touch up the back of a pendant she has that was doing the same thing.

Hanging out with Miss Edith

Enjoying a snack

How was your thrifty week?

Friday, August 19, 2016

I Believe in Karma - Do You?

I firmly believe in karma, both good and bad.  I believe that whatever you project into the world you get back in return.  If you choose to carry a grateful heart and act in kindness toward others you will receive the same in return.  I also believe that if you choose to be an ornery and rotten person your life will continue to be crap and you will never be happy.

I know this because I've experienced it, both the good and the bad, and I've seen it happen.

Whether you believe in karma or the boomerang effect, what goes around comes around or reaping what you sow it is all pretty much the same in my opinion.  The world always seems to have a way of evening things out.  Whether we witness it or not.

Imagine what kind of world we might live in if we all chose to practice good karma.

Case in point.  I happen to be related to a rather cynical and pessimistic woman who seems to take a great deal of pleasure in making others miserable.  She has a strong tendency to project a lot of negativity in her comments and conversation.  She also enjoys manipulating people and uses dishonest tactics to sever relationships between others.

I've tried like crazy to get along with her, because she's family.  Unfortunately she is just too destructive.  As a result I have chosen to stay away from her.  Completely.  I have no room in my life for that type of behavior.

The saddest thing is that karma keeps kicking her in the butt and I honestly don’t think she even realizes it.  She just continues to carry on.  As a result, I'm quite positive she is a miserable, lonely and unhappy person.  I'm sad for her.  I pray for her, but I don't want to be around her.

I see this in someone I work with too.  She says terrible things about people, projects a steady stream of negativity and acts deplorably.  Yet she can't understand why all these bad things keep happening to her.  Karma is kicking her in the butt but she just can't seem to see it.

And then I look around and I see people who are truly grateful for what they have.  They treat others with courtesy and respect.  They do their best to be a good person and do the right things.  As a result they are happy.  For the most part things seem to go well for them.

Sometimes bad things happen, regardless of what we do or how we behave.  I strongly feel it is the way we handle those challenges that makes all the difference in how we overcome them.  I know from my own personal experience that if I take on those challenges in a positive way I overcome them far better than if I choose the opposite.  Whining and crying about it or copping a bad attitude just makes it worse and takes longer.  Life is just too short.  I'd rather get back to the good stuff and move past the bad.

You may or may not agree and that is completely fine.  You may have a completely different life philosophy.  Or you may think it is all a bunch of bunk.  Whatever happens, happens.

What do you think?

Thursday, August 18, 2016

A Lace Trimmed Tablecloth

I have seen several sweet and simple lace trimmed white tablecloths in antique shops and on old antique tables in museums.  It was important to me to add one of my own to my linen supply for my future home.  I want to add that same touch of nostalgia.

Wanting a square tablecloth I began by cutting a piece of white muslin from the yardage I had bought on sale over the 4th of July weekend.  It was 44" wide (I measured it to be sure) so I cut it 44" long making sure the ends were cut nice and even.  It made the perfect size square tablecloth.

In my stash of trims and laces I had some pretty 2 1/2" wide flat lace that I thought would be perfect to finish it with.

First I pressed all the edges at 1/4".

Then I pressed it again going all the way around another 1/4" to make a neat and clean hem.

I pinned the lace along the edge and then top stitched it in place and finished the hem.

It was super easy to make and because I already had the lace and had bought the fabric on sale ($1.99 a yard plus an additional 20% OFF) I figure this tablecloth cost me less than $2.50.  That makes it a very thrifty little project.

For now I'll be putting this away with all the other little treasures I have made.  It will be so much fun when I finally get to use it.

Now to find the perfect little kitchen table to put it on.