Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Weekly Menu Plan

I'm baaaaaack! J 

I'm just silly about my menu planning.  It is an activity I thoroughly enjoy.  So this what I have planned for our dining pleasure next week. 

Sunday – Beef Enchiladas
Monday – Tomato Basil Soup & Spinach Salad
Tuesday – Turkey Club Sandwich
Wednesday – Zucchini Bites
Thursday – Pasta Pesto & Garden Salad
Friday – Fried Rice
Saturday – Leftover Buffet 

What delicious things are you fixing for supper this week?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I Can't Seem To Get Out Of This Godforsaken Town!

And you know what?  That's okay! 

Boise, Idaho really isn't a godforsaken town.  It is a lovely place and has a lot of wonderful things to offer.  So why leave?  Simply because I wanted a change in my life.  I wanted to live somewhere else, experience something new, meet different people, shop in different stores, work in a new field. 

There comes a time when you just have to throw up your hands and say "Whatever!"  I swear I am stopped at every turn when it comes to making this move.  The harder I try to get out of here the more weird stuff that keeps happening.   I just can't seem to make any headway.  In fact, I seriously think I'm heading backward instead of forward, if that makes any kind of sense. 

My friends are just shaking their heads in amazement at all the oddities that have been taking place and now with the truck breaking down they are all of the consensus that I'm not meant to go.  It has become a growing concern. 

The really weird thing is that this is the third time I have tried to move.  The first time I was headed to Phoenix and the economy collapsed.  The real estate market and the job market both hit the skids.  Arizona was one of the hardest hit states.  The second time I was making a smaller move to another town and lost my job.  This time, way too many things have happened to mention them all. 

But the night I got home with my truck on a U-haul there was major flash flooding in Phoenix, Mesa and Apache Junction.  We had been planning to head there next.  After watching cars and RVs being swept away on the news my friend just looked at me and said "You are definitely not meant to go there!" 

Like I said, the harder I try to leave the more things happen and they seem to escalate in severity.  If that isn't the man upstairs trying to tell me something I don't know what is.  Maybe for now I'd better just sit tight.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

I purchased two pair of capris for myself at Walmart using money that was gifted to me. 

I did not do any grocery shopping.  My friends wouldn't let me, which is tough.  I don't like to not contribute. 

I treated a friend and my oldest daughter to a mocha frappe at McDonalds. 

I diligently searched for affordable housing and employment all week. 

I relisted my car for sale on Craigslist.  I also listed two other items for sale. 

I spent a lot of time visiting with friends throughout the week.  It wasn't planned and it just happened.  Very nice! 

I helped a friend make homemade invitations for a party she is throwing for her mother's 90th birthday in September. 

I watched a few shows I like online.  I am really enjoying my inexpensive internet service! 

On Saturday our housing situation took a much better turn.  More on that coming soon!

Friday, July 26, 2013

My Pantry List - Revisited

While I am regrouping and coming up with yet another new game plan I thought it might be fun to revisit an old post I did when I very first started this blog.  My Pantry List is very near and dear to my heart and I can't imagine not having it.  It is a vital tool for me with meal planning, grocery shopping and keeping my pantry adequately stocked.  It also help me save a ton of money and time spent at the grocery store.
I hope you enjoy revisiting this post.  You may also enjoy revisiting my post on Meal Planning too.
Do you have any tips to share?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

This Isn't What It Looks Like

By looking at this picture one would assume that I decided to pack up all my precious belongings and move somewhere, right?  I mean who wouldn’t assume that is what is going on here. 

Truth is, that is sooooo not what happened here.  After spending some time in Nevada and Arizona I was on my way back to Idaho with my daughters and a lot of ideas to move to Bullhead City, Arizona.  We even found an apartment we liked.  School starts there in a few weeks so we were motivated to get the show on the road.  Now all we needed was to finish up a few things in Boise, check out a couple more places, grab our stuff and head back down.  We were feeling pretty excited too.  Things were happening. 

It ain't happening! 

A few miles outside of Ely, Nevada our truck broke down.  Not a little breakdown, a big one.  On a Saturday no less, when no mechanic is open.  Plus, if you have never been to Ely, it is located in the middle of nowhere where if someone was open I imagine it would be highly unlikely they'd have parts in stock.  I even talked to one of the locals who basically told me I was up a creek without a paddle. 

Towing to Boise would have cost a bloody fortune and waiting until Monday would mean at least two days hotel and meals plus no guarantees they could fix it and I'd still need to tow it.  Plus I'd still need to figure out how to get us home. 

I have roadside assistance but it only covers towing to the nearest mechanic.  I was pretty much already there so I didn't even bother to call them.  Instead I got creative and rented a U-haul so I could pull a car hauler with it and get the truck back to Boise.  It cost about $400 less to do it this way then to have it towed and I have no idea what car rental would have added, assuming I could find a car to rent in Ely. 

As it turns out I was the second person that day to have to do this.  Another couple had their vehicle completely die on them and they needed to get home to a much more rural area.  I can only imagine how much that might have cost them for towing. 

At U-haul the 14 foot truck had a tire blowout so my only choice was to use the 20 footer.  They were nice enough to give it to me at the 14 footer price, thankfully.  This truck was a beast to drive, a complete gutless wonder and it took us forever to get back to Boise.  It also sucked gas big time.  But it did the job and got us home. 

So what am I going to do next?  Honestly, I have no flipping idea.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Last Week’s Thrifty Moves

Unfortunately last week was anything but thrifty.  So much so that thinking about it makes me feel physically ill.  Ever had moments like that? 

So, needless to say, I don't have a list of thrifty accomplishments to share this week and I really wish I did.  I have every intention of making this week a thrifty one, however.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will be too.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Making Rice Is Simple & Economical

One of my earlier posts dealt with teaching you how to make steamed rice easily and perfectly every time.  I also listed the serving ratios so it would be easy to determine how much rice to make for a meal. 

A ten pound bag of rice isn't very expensive, lasts a long time and makes a great side dish to so many different meals.  We eat rice at least once a week.  I prefer the texture of regular long grain, medium grain and jasmine rice over instant or converted (partially cooked), not to mention the significant cost savings. 

The other day I was talking with a friend of mine who shared with me that she always buys instant rice because she found it too difficult to make it from "scratch".  When I told her how I do it she didn't believe it could be so easy.  It really is! 

I decided it might be time to revisit that post for those of you that may be struggling to make rice and are still using instant or for those of you making regular rice and are looking for an easy foolproof method. 

Enjoy fluffy, perfectly cooked rice at your next meal!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Thinking Small - Clothing

We purged a lot of clothing and kept only what fit, what we liked and what was still in very good condition.  Items that are better suited for winter were put away in our suitcases to store in the truck.  I did the same with my work wardrobe. 

Each of us girls has a duffle bag for our every day clothing.  We all will be utilizing a much smaller wardrobe.  Our hanging space is nil so that pretty much took care of that consideration.  Fold it and put it in your bag or forget about it.  Not only do we not have the space to store a lot of clothing but we really don’t have the space to store a lot of dirty laundry either. 

One of our laundry baskets is now being used for shoe storage and we are hoping to keep them all corralled.  We certainly don't want any missing shoes. 

Fortunately since we are traveling no one will notice that the outfit we are wearing today might be the same one worn just a few days ago.  Once we get settled I'll worry about expanding our wardrobes and of course when we do it will be done in a Thrifty way.  J

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Meals On The Road

I don't do well eating out.  I often find foods are too salty or greasy for my liking and tend to leave me with that sick, I wish I hadn’t eaten that, feeling.  Not to mention it can be rather expensive. 

Whenever we travel, even if we are staying in hotels, I always pack a cooler stocked with beverages, snacks, fresh fruit and items to make sandwiches.  We try to keep the junk food to a minimum. 

By eating out once a day and then enjoying a "home cooked" meal at a park or in our hotel room we are able to maintain a healthier diet, save time and save some money too. 

Freezing water bottles to use for ice is a great way to keep foods chilled.  Once they melt you have plenty of cold drinking water.  I then supplement with ice from the hotel to keep our food chilled. 

It is not uncommon for me to stop at the grocery store to shop while on a trip too.  Nor is it all that uncommon for me to haul a slow cooker along to cook a meal on the bathroom counter of our hotel room. 

How are some ways you save on meals while traveling?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Thinking Small - My New Home Office

Small and portable is the state of my new home office.  A small plastic tote holds sheets of paper, envelopes, a legal pad, my mouse, a ruler and packing tape.  My two photo boxes hold one small box of assorted greeting cards, stationery, pens & pencils, tape, paper & binder clips, staples, etc.  Still more than I actually need, I’m sure. 

I’ve traded my desktop computer for a laptop.  My laptop fits inside my backpack for easy portability.  For an internet connection we’ll have our Voyager "on the go" device. 

My day planner is coming along too, of course.  I don’t think I could manage well without that.  It also fits inside my backpack with my laptop. 

I’ve scaled back considerably on what I need and I’ll be going a little old school, especially with regard to menu planning and grocery lists.  I’ll be writing things out on paper more using a pencil.  I'm actually looking forward to that. 

As I purged and streamlined my office necessities I was rather surprised at how much stuff I had accumulated in recent years and just how much of that stuff I didn't need and wasn't using.  I used gallon zipper bags to package up bundles of various items and sold them at our yard sale.  These bundles were a hit. 

It will be interesting to see if I purged too much or if I did okay.
You may also enjoy revisiting My Old Home Office.

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

They're baaack.
I took a friend to the $1 movie Tuesday night. 

Clearance racks at JC Penney and Target provided my daughters with six pair of pajamas, a couple of tops and a hooded jacket for school. 

I bought a half gallon of milk and a box of Twinkies.  These are the only groceries I've purchased so far this month.  Total spent $5.54. 

I made my annual bra purchase, only 6 months later than I normally do. 

I treated my girls to lunch out.  We shared an appetizer platter and drank water to keep the expense down. 

I enjoyed watching several shows on Amazon Prime.  We have replaced our monthly satellite service with Amazon Prime for less than the cost of six weeks of service fees.  Much better bargain.  I plan to add Netflix streaming in the next month and we will forego regular TV services. 

I made reservations at a hotel offering special weekday rates.  I also purchased discounted concert tickets.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Simple Summer Fruit Dessert - Five Ingredients Or Less

Need a delicious simple diet dessert that is cool and refreshing?  Sugar free and low-carb?  Look no further. 

1 large 6oz. box of sugar-free raspberry gelatin
2 c. boiling water
1 cup cream
1 cup cold water
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries 

Completely dissolve gelatin in boiling water.  Place in refrigerator for thirty minutes to cool.  In a deep dish pie plate spread out berries.  Combine cream and cold water.  Whisk into cooled gelatin until frothy.  Pour over berries.  Place in refrigerator and chill a minimum of four hours.  Slice chilled dessert into wedges and serve. 


Orange gelatin with a small can of mandarin oranges, drained.
Strawberry gelatin with 1 cup sliced fresh strawberries. 

You could also put this into a graham cracker crust if you wished and top with whipped cream to fancy it up a bit. 

This dessert has become a fast favorite with my group of friends I play pinochle with.  Especially for the two with diabetes.  Give it a try.  So good on a hot summer day!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Thinking Small - New Internet Service

I turned off our home internet service last week when we moved out of our house.  I use the internet a lot.  I blog nearly every day.  I use it as a primary source of communication and now that we will be traveling we will rely on it even more so.  I do a lot of research online.  I also run two small online businesses. 

Having a reliable internet service is important to me.  Relying on free internet sources while we are on the road initially sounded good and thrifty, but concerned me with regard to efficiency and reliability. 

When I canceled my service I spoke with the representative about a "pay as you go" option.  I pretty much use that type of service for my cell phone and it has served me well so I figured why not try it with my internet. 

My current internet provider carries such a service and because I have been a long time customer they gave me a special offer to switch to this.   

I had to buy a new portable wireless device ($47.95 + $2.99 shipping through  It is so cute!  Sits right in the palm of my hand.  You could slip it in your purse or a pocket.  I plan to zip it into a pocket in my backpack.  It comes with a charger and holds a charge for up to six hours of use or you can leave it plugged in and use it just like a regular modem. 

I've had it for a week now and just love it.  I can do everything with it I did with my modem.  It's fast too.  We can stream movies, download stuff, you name it.  This is really good because we plan to use the internet as our main source of entertainment as far as watching TV and movies. 

At $30 a month for unlimited use and to run up to 8 devices I am pretty impressed with this little gem.  I was even more impressed that they are letting me have the first three months at $20 a month as a show of customer appreciation for sticking with them and giving it a try.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

New Weekly Meal Planning Template

I made a new meal planning template the other day and thought I'd share it with you.  I may not be in meal planning mode right now but that doesn't mean I'm not thinking about it.  I have the meal planning area to the left of the page and a shopping list on the right.  Once I've made my meal plan I can make my grocery list on the same page and take it all with me to the grocery store.  I'm excited to try it out. 

I've had loads of ideas bouncing around in my head so I got out my mechanical pencil and a pad of paper and began writing them down and making a couple of lists.  I also printed off my Pantry List on a sheet of cardstock and slipped it inside a page protector so I will have it to refer to. 

I love colored paper so when I finished the template I printed several copies on a variety of sheets.  All my supplies are ready to go inside my day planner for when I am set to resume meal planning. 

If you would like a workable excel copy of my new weekly meal planner just email me.  I'd be happy to share.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Plan B Is Taking Shape!

Farewell Old Friend
Where would I be without my great friends?  I am so lucky and blessed with the circle of friends that I have.  When Plan A fell apart and some tough decisions needed to be made they rallied with their support and allowed me to stress out, worry, bounce ideas off of them and made it so much easier for me to work through a lot of different thoughts and ideas. 

I really appreciated that not a one of them tried to tell me what to do, but instead listened and talked with me until I was able to get it all sorted out. 

I really have to thank my friend Chad for helping me work out my biggest dilemma, which was what to do with regard to my trailer.  He helped me gain the perspective I needed to be able to let it go.  Knowing how much I cared about that trailer, he knew it wasn’t going to be an easy decision. 

After much discussion and a good night’s sleep I knew it was the right decision.  I listed the trailer for sale and it sold in less than twelve hours.  I got a really good price and it will be more than enough for us to get a new place once we settle at our final destination.  Now that it has sold I have to say it is an enormous relief not to worry about it any longer.  Amazingly, I didn’t even cry when they towed her away.  My next door neighbors were standing by just in case too. 

So Plan B means less travel, staying in hotels and with friends and relatives along our travels and eating out more than I would like, but we’ll manage.  I decided to go ahead with purchasing a camper shell for the pick up so we can safely lock our things inside. 

My girls are super excited about Plan B.  They love to stay in hotels and the one I picked for us in Las Vegas has them over the moon.  It has a bowling alley! 

I will keep you posted as things continue to come together!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Last Week’s Thrifty Moves

Stella is packed up and ready to go.
Sunday I began my thrifty week with more sorting, organizing, purging and packing.  Once again I used boxes and bins I already had on hand to pack with. 

We used up the last of the girl’s earned free meal awards from school and went out to lunch Sunday afternoon.  They also got a free dessert which made it extra special. 

I used some of our money from eBay sales to purchase all of us new sport sandals on sale at Fred Meyer.  I also used some of that money to get the oldest one two pair of shorts and a pair of denim capris for me. 

Once we got home from our lunch out and running errands I gave the girls each a haircut. 

I used our reusable shopping bags to pack up the pantry.  Despite my best efforts to use up what we had on hand and eat down our pantry I ended up with six full bags of groceries to take with us.  It will make a nice start for our new pantry and once again reaffirmed we had a lot of food in this house! 

I rented a Rug Doctor for $35 and completely shampooed all the carpets in our house.  I already had plenty of carpet shampoo so I didn’t need to buy any.  We also had plenty of cleaner on hand to use to finish scrubbing everything from top to bottom. 

I bought a box of trash bags for $2.39 to pack our bulky blankets and pillows in. 

I called the thrift store to come and pick up a large pile of donations. 

I shared eight plastic shopping bags of groceries from our freezer and pantry with some good friends of mine.  I also gave a friend all our condiments, a half gallon of orange juice and a package of celery stalks from our refrigerator. 

I gave the leftover laundry supplies and our dishwasher detergent to another friend. 

I bought two bars of Fels Naptha soap and grated it.  I then added washing soda and borax I already had to it to make up a big batch of homemade laundry soap topped off our plastic laundry soap container and then packed it away with our other laundry supplies.  I figured it was more efficient to do it that way rather than packing all the individual ingredients. 

I topped off our Spray & Wash bottle from the refill and gave the leftovers to a friend. 

On Friday I took a year's worth of saved aluminum into the recycling center.  We netted $5.85 for our efforts in addition to saving thirteen pounds of reusable material from ending up in the landfill. 

I bought us all a pair of flip flops from Fred Meyer's clearance rack for less than $3 a pair. 

I shut off our home phone, internet, satellite, electric and water services. 

I used my Fred Meyer rewards card to save 10¢ a gallon on a tank of gas at their gas station. 
We are now out of our house so we have no report on our chickens to share. L

How was your thrifty week last week?

Friday, July 5, 2013

Getting The Truck Road Ready

In April, you may remember, my dad and I changed out all three fan belts on my pick up.  I filled up the wiper fluid reservoir and checked and topped off the radiator with antifreeze and added some brake fluid.  I also had a new stereo installed, which I am thoroughly enjoying! 

In May I got the emission test done and renewed the license plates.  I cleaned out the interior and put in new floor mats.  I even hung a new stink tree (you probably know these better as air fresheners). 

Last month the routine maintenance was completed with a new air filter and a complete oil change.  I wiped down the engine and cleaned up some grease that had accumulated after fifteen years. 

A new set of tires and an alignment was next on the list and I got that taken care of first thing Monday morning.  I wanted to be one of their first customers so I could get it done and be on my way. 

Afterward we made a road trip to the bustling metropolis of Burley, Idaho to get fitted with a camper shell.  I've had the worst time finding one to fit our truck.  Not only did they have one but it is the extended size so we can get more stuff inside.  I was super excited about it.   

I have to tell you about this place.  Save onShells is a small business owned by a father and son.  When I told them what I was looking for and they determined they had one that would work I let them know I  would be coming from Boise to get it.  Talk about customer service.  They were willing to meet me at their business anytime, even on a Sunday if it was more convenient for me.

When we showed up Monday afternoon it was 100° outside and first thing they got us in the shade and insisted on getting us something cold to drink.  Then they went to work and fit the truck with the shell and threw in a brand new set of clamps at no charge because we had driven so far to come and get it. 

The price was only $395 installed and they were so wonderful to work with.  Had I ended up having to order one custom made to fit our truck it would have cost nearly $1500.  I'm glad we were able to get this one at a considerable savings and we met two very nice gentlemen in the process. 

After a bath and another vacuuming we will be ready to rock and roll.  Now I just have to load her up.  We are gaining on it!


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

No Grocery Budget Totals For Awhile

I have completely made a mess of our grocery budget.  Not that I went over budget but simply that I have no idea where I am at.  I did very little shopping and misplaced half my receipts so my totals never quite made it into my tracker.  I have never been so unorganized as I have been working to organize and simplify my life.  How crazy is that?! 

Bear with me.  Soon things will get back to normal.  A whole new normal!  Super excited about that! 

I am excited to investigate new grocery stores, seek out new bargains and check out what they’ll have to offer.  Not to mention cooking and baking up a whole bunch of new recipes which I will be sharing with you. 

How is your grocery budget doing these days?  Care to share any new tips you have acquired?

No Menu Plans For Awhile

I have to put menu planning on hold for a little while.  I love to menu plan and it will be an activity I will miss but soon enough I know I will be right back at it.  In the meantime we will be doing something I am less than thrilled with called “winging it”. 

I don’t know about you but in Idaho we are enjoying record high heat and our A/C is barely able to keep up.  I’ve been keeping tabs on Las Vegas and Arizona weather and we have been running neck in neck with them.  Guess we are getting acclimated before we even leave town.  J 

When it is really hot out we do find that the thought of eating food is just kind of “Ugh”.  Fresh fruits and veggies plus salads sound better than a hot meal, don’t they?  Needless to say we are consuming a lot of ice water and staying away from soda.  I think I easily drank a gallon of water yesterday if not more. 

Are you staying nice and cool?  What are some of your favorite go-to meals when the temps are over a hundred?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

It’s The Final Countdown!

Purge, pack, toss.  Purge some more, sell stuff, toss stuff, pack some more.  Repeat, repeat, repeat. 

I swear when you decide to downsize you have decided to take on one of the biggest projects of your life.  Throughout this process I have managed to let go of a lot of things, even those I thought I had sentimental attachments to.  I’ve re-evaluated the importance of the material items in my life and come to terms with some of the peculiar reasons why I’ve hung onto things. 

Now that we are done with this huge project of downsizing the countdown begins.  We are getting ready to leave!  Our target date for moving is July 8.  I wanted to wait until after the holiday and with Independence Day smack in the middle of the week it kind of hogged two whole weekends. 

We will be traveling to visit some friends and relatives before heading south into the scorching heat.  It is pretty much scorching hot here these days so we are getting acclimated. 

I’m not dead set to leave on any certain day because I need to be flexible and make sure everything gets taken care of, including some pretty important people in my life.  Within the next two weeks I expect we will be well on our way, however. 

Our tenants move in on the 5th so that is one deadline I won’t be fudging on.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Last Week’s Thrifty Moves

Poor Stella.  That moving sale was hard work!
Sunday I priced and organized items for our big moving sale.  I sold our dining room set on Craigslist.  I listed several more items for sale on Craigslist.  I had a huge pile of empty bins and boxes in our family room. 

I used up some frozen ground pork and ground beef to make a nice big meatloaf and invited friends over for dinner.  Everything I served came from the pantry or freezer.  The larder is now starting to look pretty bare. 

I sold my bedroom set, the bunk beds, a friend’s dining room set for her (while I was at it), another friend’s three wheeled bicycle, and the refrigerator in the garage.  I gave my great-grandparent’s antique bedroom set and a TV to my brother. 

I sorted, organized and set up for our big moving sale on Wednesday and Thursday.  I made my tags out of stuff I already had on hand.  We put up our homemade signs on Friday morning and also advertised our sale on Craigslist. 

We sold a lot of stuff at our sale and ended up hauling less than a truckload of stuff to donate to the thrift store.  Most of the stuff we donated was clothing that I didn’t even try to sell.  I was really pleased with how well we did. 

While we were at the thrift store dropping off our donations we found a Petmate carrier there for sale.  It looked brand new and was priced at a third of what they sell for at the store.  Since we are in need of one we grabbed it up.  I was really excited about that purchase. 

The only grocery shopping I did last week was to pick up: 

·         two loaves of bread on sale for 97¢ each
·         two packages of hot dog buns on sale for 89¢ each
·         two packages of hotdogs on sale for 99¢ each
·         two bags of potato chips on sale for 99¢ each
·         and four bananas on sale for 39¢ a pound 

At our moving sale on Saturday I was able to serve eight of us lunch for less than $6.00 thanks to the items I got on sale.  We all agreed it had been a long time since we’d had a hotdog and it sure tasted good. 

Saturday I packed up the majority of our kitchen, my bedroom and our bathrooms leaving out only the items we needed to use.  All the bins and boxes I used I already had on hand. 

Our chickens blessed us with 19 eggs last week!
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