Monday, September 25, 2017

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

I bought this little gizmo at Home Depot ($9) for our hose which is fully adjustable and can act like a pressure washer if you really need to clean something.  It is also a water saver device.  They did some excavation in the field behind our house and then we had a ginormous (yes, that's a word) windstorm come through and it blew dirt everywhere and covered everything.  It was so bad we were indoors and could taste dirt and grit (gross!).  Then it rained just enough to plaster that dirt to the sides of the house and windows, our vehicles, Laverne!  I was not a happy camper and it looked like a lot of work ahead to clean this mess up.  This little nozzle made quick work of all that dirt however and in just a couple hours I had it all cleaned up without a ton of water.  It also wasn't jarring me like a power washer would have so no residual effects afterward.  I'm really happy with this thing!  Money well spent!

Tuesday, on the way home from work, I noticed the FREE WOOD bin had been filled.  I stopped to check it out and came home with a small bundle of pieces to use for projects.  I have had a couple in mind and I have been slowly accumulating wood for them over the summer.

I was super excited to see the new Albertson's ad had pot roasts and pork ribs on sale.  I wasn't planning to do any shopping midweek but since it was on my way home from picking my daughter up on Wednesday I decided to pop in and see what they had.  I ended up with a HUGE beef roast for $7.52!  And two packages of ribs.  My oldest loves, loves, loves BBQ ribs..  When I got home they went straight into the freezer as is.  I decided not to divide up the packages of ribs into meal size portions because right now I'm a meal prepper so I'll be cooking up the whole thing in one shot!

All the way out to the car the young one and I were talking about all of the meals that we could make with this one roast.  Shredded beef tacos, bolognese, enchiladas, soup, stroganoff (again), something with rice, the list was quite large.  I'm excited to see what we actually do with it.

I downloaded more digital coupons.  One was for $5 OFF $25 Purchase at Albertsons.  I used that when I stopped to pick up the meat.  I also picked up bananas, grapes and milk on sale.

Thursday, on the way home from picking up my oldest from band practice, we stopped at another Albertsons that was on the way home and picked up two more of those roasts.  I found another good sized one for just under $7.  The rest of them were HUGE and I mean HUGE.  I bought another one for $16 knowing the butcher would cut it in half for me, but I decided to take it as is.  I'm pretty sure that one will need to start cooking overnight in the slow cooker.  Or I'll cut it in half and put it into two slow cookers.  I'll figure that out when the time comes.

My oldest is the one that talked me into the second trip.  I was concerned we didn't have room in our very full freezer but she was convinced she could make a spot for them and when we got home she did exactly that.  My girls love pot roast every bit as much as I do and at that price it was smart of us to stock up.

I made creamy parmesan salad dressing.

I got a packet of coupons in the mail from Fred Meyer.

I washed out a two gallon Ziploc bag to reuse.

We fed our kitchen scraps to the chickens.  They are slowing down on egg production with the sudden change in the weather.  I dread the thought of buying eggs at the store.

Speaking of weather, it got pretty chilly around here and started raining Monday.  It rained all week long until Friday when the sun finally came out.  We really needed this rain and I'm very glad to have it.  The smoky skies are cleared out and hopefully this has helped out the fire situation.  The air quality is certainly better.

I try to not turn on the heat in September (after we pull the A/C units and put them away) for at least a few weeks for a reprieve on the electric bill, but it was pretty cold so I turned on the fireplace in the living room to take care of the chill.  Winter jammies and fuzzy socks are out about a month sooner than we usually need too.  Amazing how quickly the seasons change.

How was your thrifty week?

Friday, September 22, 2017

Managing My Home With Daily Tasks & Routines

You can't manage a home without a plan and I definitely have a plan.  Every day I have certain chores that I have scheduled and take care of.  I do as much as I can in 15 minutes and then I am done.  If I have extra time left I'll do some extra cleaning until my 15 minutes is up.  It amazes me how much I can get accomplished in only 15 minutes!

The girls have their set of chores as well.  Mainly they take care of our animals each day.  Feeding kitties and getting them fresh water, changing the litter box, feeding our chickens, getting them fresh water, collecting the eggs.  They also have to clean one of the bathrooms, their bedrooms, dust & vacuum the upstairs hallway and help with laundry.  15 minutes at a time.

Each day we get up and make our beds first thing.  Laundry goes into hampers.  Each of us is responsible to leave the bathroom clean and tidy when we finish using it.  I keep a toilet brush in cleaning solution handy for a quick swish each day.  We wipe the counters off each day with spray cleaner and a rag.  We wipe down the toilet mid week between scrubbings.  It takes less than two minutes to do this and makes all the difference in the world.

When we get home each day we hang up coats, purses and backpacks.  Shoes get put away.  Lunchboxes get emptied and containers go straight into a sink of soapy water and get washed immediately.  Then we do our chores, whichever happens to be on the list for that day.  15 minutes later we get to work on dinner (which is profoundly easier these days as I've already shared).

We take turns on "dish night".  Each of us has a dish night.  The girls have two apiece and I have three nights.  I take the extra day as I have more time during the school year than they do.  In the summer I let them trade off and take an extra day each week.  We hand wash our dishes even though we have a dishwasher.  Counters are wiped down, stove top is wiped down and table is cleared and cleaned.  Once dry the dishes are put away and the sink is cleaned out and rinsed.

Monday - downstairs bathroom/laundry room

Tuesday - dining room

Wednesday - laundry, trash & recycling to curb

Thursday - kitchen/entry

Friday - bedrooms

Saturday - laundry, upstairs bathroom

Sunday - laundry, dust & vacuum

I recently added an extra laundry day.  We used to only do laundry on Wednesday and Sunday.  I added Saturday so we are only doing one load a day instead of two on Sunday.  Another idea I picked up from the FlyLady.  It makes a big difference for us to only do one load per day.

We have morning and evening routines too and I'll go into that in more detail in another post, but the one evening routine we do every night, I think, is truly what makes it all work.  We do a 15 minute "walk through" at the end of the day to make sure everything is neat, tidy and put away.  Sometimes I'll run the vacuum real quick or clean something that got dirty, but for the most part we find we walk around and chit chat.

Once our walk through is done we each head off to complete our final evening routine and call it a day.  Like I said, I'll be sharing more about that part later as I think this post is lengthy enough.

15 minutes at a time!  That is it.  I don't feel overwhelmed and I get my stuff done!  Even better, our home stays clean!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

How I Keep Our Home Clean

Some of you may have heard of the FlyLady method for home management.  I never had until just a few weeks ago.  The methods I use are very similar, but in checking her out I found quite a few little tips and tricks to incorporate that are making a HUGE difference at our house.  I'm sure a lot of you already know these things, but for those who don't I thought I'd share what I do and the tips I've gleaned from her to keep our home clean, organized and me a happy camper!

We both do zone cleaning.  I do daily zones while she does monthly ones.  My home is rather small so daily zone cleaning really works for us.  You may find her technique works better to do zone cleaning on a monthly cycle.

Like her, we only work in 15 minute increments.  You can seriously get a lot done in 15 minutes.  Since there are 3 of us (3 times the mess) that equates to 45 minutes of cleaning.

Everything is spread out into daily, weekly and monthly tasks so we don't ever feel overwhelmed, which can easily happen if you have a busy schedule like we do.  The key is to not overtask yourself to the point you become overwhelmed and give up.  The FlyLady and I completely agree on this one.

I recently picked up two things from her method that I've added and I can't believe the difference that has made:

What does that mean? Click on the link above and it will tell you.  I can't believe what a difference this one daily task has done for me and it is infectious.  It affects my girls too.  I gave my kitchen sink a thorough scrub and I maintain it every day.  When we go to bed it is clean and empty which makes getting up and starting my day in the kitchen amazing.  It has really made that big of a difference and it literally affects how we approach the rest of our home as well.  It really is that amazing.

I started tagging my hot spots!

What is that exactly?  There are certain spots in our home that no matter what I do are ripe for piling up with crap.  It makes me crazy.  So rather than repeat myself over and over again, rant, yell or carry on like a crazy person I stick a post-it note on the wall and it works!  I can hardly believe that it does, but it really does.  And as a result the girls and I are much better about setting stuff down.

Tomorrow I'll go over my task schedules with you but for now I challenge you to shine your kitchen sink!  Let's see if that one simple task transforms you the way it did me. 

I bet it does!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Meals We Prepped #5

We did our quick trip to Winco Friday evening as we were in the area and our Saturday was looking a bit hectic with a schedule change and several activities on the docket.  I didn't do any meal prepping on Saturday either.  We came home Saturday pooped out and happy to know there was a buffet of leftovers in the fridge for supper.

Sunday morning I pulled out the piece of pot roast I'd set aside in the freezer the week before, two small packages of ground beef and a package of chicken breast I'd already cut into pieces.  I let them thaw and then I got to work.

First up was to prepare the stroganoff using the pot roast.  I sliced up an 8 ox package of baby portabella mushrooms and finely diced half a small onion.  

I sautéed that in olive oil and then added two heaping tablespoons of flour and about 3 cups of milk.  I seasoned it with salt, pepper and onion powder and let it come to a boil and thicken.  I shredded the roast and added it to the mushroom sauce.  

I let that simmer about ten minutes before removing it from the burner and stirring in a cup of sour cream.

Next I quickly put together the tater tot casserole by patting a pound and a half of ground beef into the bottom of a baking dish.  I topped that with a can of cream of mushroom soup, then peas & carrots and topped it with tater tots.  I covered the pan with foil and put it into the refrigerator.

The girls took over and made a pan of rice and cooked a bag of egg noodles.  They washed the green beans I had leftover from last week and we steamed those to go with the stroganoff instead of sautéing the squash.  We quickly cleaned up the kitchen and enjoyed an early Sunday supper.

Sunday - Beef stroganoff and green beans for our Sunday dinner with plenty of leftovers for another day.

Monday - I cooked up the cubed chicken with some teriyaki sauce I had bought at the dollar store, reheated the rice in the microwave for 5 minutes and made a quick green salad.  Dinner was ready in 15 minutes.

Tuesday - I reheated the leftover stroganoff and the green beans in the microwave.  Dinner was ready in 10 minutes.

Look how crispy those tater tots are!

Wednesday - I put the tater tot casserole in the convection oven for 50 minutes to bake while I went to pick up my daughter from cheer practice.  My oldest was home so I didn't need to worry about leaving an unattended oven.  I served it with leftover salad.

Thursday - The girls made breakfast burritos by scrambling some eggs and cooked pork sausage together.  We topped that with cheese and salsa.  I opened a can of peaches to go with it.  Dinner was ready in 10 minutes.

Friday - In the morning I boiled a package of bow tie pasta, rinsed it with some cold water and put it in the refrigerator.  When I got home I cut up some veggies and put together a quick salad with some Roasted Red Pepper salad dressing.  I sautéed some frozen shrimp I had in the freezer to serve alongside.  Dinner was ready in 15 minutes!

Saturday - I still had hotdog buns and wieners left from the week before.  We baked a small pan of leftover tater tots to go with and a little green salad of lettuce and tomato.  Super quick and the kids loved it.

Every week I find myself excited about the meals we get to eat and even the shopping and meal prepping too.  The girls help out which makes the process even easier and we are having fun too.  They enjoy going to the grocery store, helping to plan the menus, as well as the cooking.

We all continue to appreciate a cleaner kitchen and less dishes to wash during the week.  Have any of you tried to do a little meal prepping lately?

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Making Undies

Lately I've been making ladies underwear.  One of the things I wanted to do for gifts for my girls was to dig out an old pattern I have and make them some pretty panties.  While I already had plenty of elastic, lace and pretty embellishments to make them I didn't have any fabric.  My girls wear cotton so I decide to look at the fabric stores for some fun knits.  Unfortunately the selection was poor and the price surprisingly high.  So I waited and I thought about it.  Then I got an idea!

Last spring I used a 20% OFF coupon at JoAnn Fabrics and picked up half a dozen XXL 100% cotton T-shirts that were on sale for $2.50 each.  I bought the biggest ones they had so I'd get the most fabric.  The coupon shaved an extra quarter off of the price so on six shirts I saved an extra $1.50!  Not a bad haul given the current price of ladies underwear.

The pattern I have is made by Stretch & Sew and is one I used waaaaay back in the eighties when I was broke.  I had borrowed it from my mom who at one time had worked for Stretch & Sew as an instructor.  Needless to say, she has a ton of patterns.  Several years ago I had mentioned that pattern to her and told her I was going to look on eBay to see if I could find one.  She ended up giving me the pattern back and told me I could keep it.  And it sat there.  Until recently.

A couple weeks ago I washed all of those T-shirts in warm water to remove the sizing and shrink them up if that is what they might do.  Then I dug out that pattern and used a piece of tissue wrap to trace the three pattern pieces.  I used one of my kids washable markers.  That worked well and no bleed through.  I cut out the pieces and then pinned them to the T -shirts and cut out six pair.  The instructions are really easy to follow and making them is far simpler than one might think.  And it is a lot of fun.

They are coming along quite nicely and I think they are every bit as nice as store bought.  Possibly even better quality.  Once these are done I might even make a couple pair for myself.  I need to find out where to buy tricot (nylon) online as JoAnn's doesn't carry it anymore.  I think I have a couple of leads but if anyone knows where to go please share that in the comments.

I know Stretch & Sew and I believe Kwik Sew made these multi size traceable patterns back in the day.  They also made patterns for men's and boy's underwear and I've made those before as well.  If you think you might be interested in making some for yourself or your family I'd encourage you to find a pattern on eBay or maybe even Etsy.  I think they are a great value.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

On Sunday I spent half of the day sewing.  I am currently working on Christmas gifts for my girls and I'm super excited to share with you (tomorrow).  You'll be so surprised when I tell you what I'm making.  And how I'm doing it in Thrifty Mom fashion too.

Monday I had no afterschool activities planned so I got to go straight home from work and stay there.  It was heaven!  I even sewed some more and worked on my Christmas gifts.

Saved bacon drippings

Tuesday I realized I had forgotten to renew my driver's license which expired on my birthday!  Holy crap!.  I headed over to the DMV right after work and got that taken care of.  Amazingly they got me right in and right out.  Shocker!  On the way home I picked up the girls from their after school activities with plenty of time to spare.

Wednesday I picked up the youngest from cheer practice.  We stopped at the dollar store to pick up a few things on the way home which saved me an extra trip later.  Gas too.  I found real namebrand feta cheese there for $1!  Whoo hoo!

All that cheese was only 99¢ each!

Saturday morning I let the girls sleep in and I headed off to Fred Meyer to do the grocery shopping.  There were only five things on my list that I needed for the week ahead so I decided to shop for bargains while I was there and I found some good ones too.  Score!

I made some homemade creamy garlic salad dressing.  It is delicious.


We gave the chickens lots of yummy kitchen scraps.

I composted the usual, onion skins, coffee grounds, tea bags, egg shells and banana peels.

I washed out a couple Ziploc bags and a shower hat to reuse.

The weather has cooled and most of the smoke has cleared so we removed the A/C units from upstairs and stored them away for winter.  Now we are just using our box fans instead and blowing in cool air from outside when we need to.

The hard drive started acting up on my daughter's laptop so I ordered a new one from Amazon.  I took it to work where one of the techs helped me install it and reimage the laptop for better performance.  It works better than ever now!

Our home internet security was due for renewal this week.  One of the security reps paid us a visit at work and gave us all vouchers for a one year subscription of free security for our home computers.  Perfect timing and it saved me $50!

I downloaded some digital coupons to my Fred Meyer and Albertson's reward cards.

After making pasta salad I poured off the remaining olive oil left from a jar of artichoke hearts we finished up.  I used some of it to cook shrimp.  The rest I will save to cook with.  I also think it would be wonderful in some salad dressing.

How was your thrifty week?

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