Friday, January 29, 2016

Finally, I Replaced My Workout Pants

Note:  I am not the model in these pants. Ha!

A girl has to look good when doing yoga.  Even when she is by herself.  With no one around.  Right?  Of course she does!

The truth of the matter is that when I am wearing my workout pants I'm rarely alone.  And although I was well aware that my last pair, also my one and only, were shot, I had other pieces of clothing to take care of long before my workout pants became a priority.  Now after several mending jobs they were becoming a priority.

For several months now I've been looking for replacements, but man are they expensive.  And some of the styles are…  well, let's just say not mine.  I like mine plain, black and roomy.  Not sucked to my bod with bright wild colors emphasizing the stuff I don’t want emphasized.

Funny thing is I'd been looking at these for quite awhile but the lowest I'd seen them on sale for was $29.99.  Too much for my budget at the time so I kept looking.  Not seriously, but when we were out shopping I'd check and I also checked online from time to time.  Last week I found this pair on the clearance rack at ShopKo.  


Needless to say, when I found the ones I wanted were on the clearance rack I was thrilled.  Especially when I saw the price.  $8.00!  Whoooo hooooo!  Can you say happy dance in the aisle?  They are a size larger than I usually buy but in this instance I find this brand tends to run smaller so they fit pretty good.  Plus they have a drawstring inside the waistband.

When I came home with them and showed the girls they literally started cheering.  Then they started giving me a hard time about my old pair.  Apparently they are worse than I thought.  Okay, I knew they were bad.

There is no way I would pay $40.00 for these pants

Now the old ones are my project pants.  Delegated for painting, working on the truck, home improvement projects and messy jobs.  Which is good.  I need a pair of pants for that.

I'm so glad I waited and took my time.  As a result, I was able to get what I wanted at a price I was quite happy with.  I'll enjoy them much more having not overpaid for these pants.  This patience thing I've got going is really starting to pay off.

How about you?  What do you have in your closet that you are wearing past its prime?



Thursday, January 28, 2016

My Grocery Budget - January Update



I did the bulk of my shopping in the first week of January.  I happened along some great deals and I had a lot of coupons to use on the things I bought.  I got a lot of those coupons in the mail from Fred Meyer and the others I found online and printed on some scrap paper I had.  By pairing coupons up with sales items I was able to buy a lot of stuff for mere pennies.  I also managed to get some great bargains on milk this month.


There were so many great sales I ended up going over budget.  Dang!  Not at all how I wanted to start out the new year.  I know the main reason was because I didn't want to pass up the 5# bag of cheddar that went on sale.  I was actually hoping they'd do it next month, but it didn't happen that way.  And the soup we love went on sale too.  Plus I had a coupon…  Yeah, you know how that is.

Dollar store haul

Although I went over budget with groceries I made up for that with my non food budget.  My non food items budget is $25 a month.  Whatever I don't spend I roll over to the next month to use.


I did really well and bought things like laundry detergent on sale at Walgreens and fabric softener and food storage bags at the dollar store.  I also bought a stick of deodorant on sale for 99¢ less a 50¢ OFF coupon making it only 49¢ and four bottles of dish soap on sale for 99¢ each.  I used four 30¢ OFF coupons making the final price 69¢ each!

I added 4 cans of Science Diet canned cat food to our stock as well for my aging kitty.  My best spend less deal was to buy three bags of kitty litter, use a $1 OFF coupon and the remains of a gift card bringing my total out of pocket to 28¢!  I spent $14.27 of my non food budget leaving $10.73 to roll over and use next month!

Markdown milk and produce made for big budget stretchers
It was definitely my month to stock up on cheese and it worked out perfectly as this was one thing I was running really low on.  I can usually hold out until the cheese I want is on sale at Cash & Carry and in January they ran 5# bags of grated pizza blend - mozzarella, provolone & parmesan on sale the first part of the month and then mid month they ran another one of our favorites.  5# bags of grated cheddar and Monterey jack.  I also bought grated parmesan.  It meant I made three different trips there but I went only when I was in the area so I didn't need to make any special trips and waste fuel.


I stocked up on more rice (50¢ a pound) and found frozen fruits and vegetables and other name brand canned goods at the dollar store.  I am planning to shop more often for groceries at the dollar store as they have expanded the selection and I find quite a few things that are priced lower than the regular grocery store.  The quality is good too.

All packaged up for the freezer

Here is the list of food I bought.  The items highlighted in red are my stock up items:

Groceries

 $$$





Pork roast

     15.34
Sale
Smoked sausage (2)

       3.98
Sale
Italian sausage

       2.99
Markdown
Pepperoni (2)

       2.00
Dollar Store
Frozen veg - 16 oz (3)

       3.00
Dollar Store
Frozen fruit -12 oz (3)

       3.00
Dollar Store
Pineapple (2)

       2.00
Dollar Store
Lasagna (2)

       2.00
Dollar Store
Banana peppers

       2.00
Dollar Store
Milk - 1 gal.

       1.88
Sale
Eggs - 1 doz. (2)

       3.28

Apples - 3#

       2.60
Sale
Green onions

       0.79
Sale
Avocados (2)

       1.76
Sale
Oranges

       4.08
Sale
Bananas

       0.82
Sale
Smoked sausage  - 2.5#

       3.68
Sale/Coupon
Salami

       2.00
Sale
Sour cream (2)

       1.98
Store Coupon
Milk - 1/2 gal. (2)

       1.38
Markdown
Bread

       0.99

Flour 5#

       1.19
Sale/Coupon
Tortilla chips

       0.60
Sale/Coupon
Spinach

       1.54
Coupon
Ground beef - 10#

     19.50
Cash & Carry
Cheese - 5#

     10.48
Cash & Carry
Parmesan - 1#

       5.47
Cash & Carry
Tomato sauce - jumbo

       3.42
Cash & Carry
Cheese - 5#

     10.98
Cash & Carry
Cream - 1 qt.

       3.95
Cash & Carry
Lettuce (2)

       2.48
Markdown
Veggie tray

       3.99
Markdown
Milk - 1 gal.

       1.49
Markdown
Milk - 1 gal.

       1.89
Sale
Canned soup (5)

       3.96
Sale/Coupon
Bagels

       0.99
Markdown




Total

 $ 133.48


$133.48 ÷ 31 days ÷3 people = $1.44 per person per day!


Next month I will work to get it lower and make up my deficit.  We are so well stocked up now I can't imagine it will be a problem.

My lovely pile of receipts
Did you stock up on anything this month?  Any super deals?



This budget month runs from January 1 through January 31.



Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Pork Fried Rice


Part of keeping my grocery budget low is implementing healthy, tasty and super thrifty meals in my menu plan.  Fried rice is one of our favorite super thrifty meals.

Pork Fried Rice

4 cups steamed rice
1 to 1 1/2 cups finely diced ham
4 to 6 green onions, sliced
1 cup frozen peas & carrots
4 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 Tbs. oil

Heat oil in a large pan or wok.  Add ham and onions, cooking until onions just begin to soften.  Add peas & carrots.  Add rice and combine well.  




Make a well in the middle.  Pour eggs in well and stir to scramble.  Once cooked combine well with rice.  Stir in soy sauce.  Serve.



It is a simple recipe to fix.  I usually serve it with a big green salad and some nice Asian condiments like garlic chili paste or sweet chili sauce.


I like to substitute a tablespoon of rendered bacon fat for one of the tablespoons of oil for added flavor.  You can also use 6 slices of bacon, diced and fried crisp in place of the ham or a diced small chicken breast half is nice as well.

Sometimes I make potstickers and egg drop soup, chow mein or egg rolls and we enjoy a Chinese "take out" night in.  Stir fried veggies make a nice side as well.

However, you decide to serve it, as the main dish or part of a bigger meal, I think you will really enjoy this one.


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

I Started My Christmas Shopping. Already.


When I decide to actually begin my Christmas shopping for the year is not set or planned.  It usually happens when I happen across an item I want at really good price.  This year that happened a couple of weeks ago when my youngest found a 1.5 quart slow cooker on sale at Fred Meyer for $9.99.  You just have to love Super Bowl sales. J


Last year I had mentioned to her I thought I might get one for her sister.  We looked at a few but didn't find exactly what I wanted.  I got her something else she wanted instead.

As my girls and I have been talking about preparing for college we have also discussed starting a hope chest, of sorts, to begin collecting things the girls will need when they eventually strike out on their own.  Items for their "hope chest" will be great gifts.

My oldest's mini cookware set.  So fun!

This Christmas I would like to find a chest or trunk for each one of them that they can use to hold these treasures.  I had a pair of cardboard boxes I kept in the closet of my childhood bedroom and that worked perfectly fine for me.  I would just love to get my girls something a little better.

At Shopko last week I found a small skillet with a lid for my youngest so she can now start her own set of cookware.  It was on sale for $6.99.  My oldest already has a set and she loves them.  Little sister and I had a lot of fun finding them and giving them to her for birthdays and Christmases.  Now I think it is her turn.

Just me.
I got a jumpstart on stocking stuffers too while I as there.  I found some really nice socks on clearance.  Two pair sets for $4.19.  I grabbed one for each of them.  Perfect!

I'm off to a pretty good start, I think.  How about you?  Have you done any Christmas shopping yet?  I'd love to hear about it.


Monday, January 25, 2016

Last Week's Thrifty Moves


Sunday I made two loaves of whole wheat bread.

I printed off a new Pantry List and started working on my grocery list for next month.

I went to ShopKo with the idea of checking out their clearance rack for some good buys on socks.  I needed some new socks and I wanted to get a few pairs to set aside as stocking stuffers for my girls.  I found exactly what I wanted and much more.  I even found some more Easter basket items too.


I did some Christmas shopping!  I know, I know, Christmas already?  I'm crazy like that and I'll be posting more about this a little later as well as some of the other things I got.

Tuesday night while my eldest was at the university the youngest and I ran errands.  First I picked up my new prescription sunglasses. The EOB from my insurance company had come in the mail on Monday.  I determined they had overcharged me $44 and that my insurance covered everything in full so I made sure I was refunded before I left.  Yaaaaay!  An extra $44 in my pocket isn’t a bad thing at all!


Afterward we did a little bit of grocery shopping.  This week I focused more on the non-food items:

Walgreens had the laundry detergent we use on sale for $1.49.  I still had an extra bottle plus the nearly full one I am currently using.  Adding these two means I am pretty well stock up on detergent for the year.


While there I grabbed two more packs of gum on sale.  I used two coupons making my final price 29¢ each.  Into the Easter basket stash!

Albertson's had their Progresso soup on sale for 99¢ a can.  I had a coupon for $1 OFF 4.  I bought five cans in order to get bonus box tops for my daughter's school.  Five cans of clam chowder for$ 3.96, not too shabby.  I also found a bag of bagel in the markdown bin for 99¢.  I love bagels for breakfast.


We hit up the dollar store on the way back to campus and I picked up two boxes of food storage bags and a big bottle of fabric softener.  The fabric softener works pretty well and doesn't have an overpowering scent like a lot of them do.  Plus at $1 you can beat that.  I also picked up four packets of seeds for the garden.  They were 4/$1.

I washed out a gallon size and a quart size Ziploc bag to reuse. 

Dollar store finds

I composted coffee grounds, tea bags, egg shells and onion skins.  We fed our kitchen scraps to the chickies and in turn they blessed us with a dozen eggs.  I took them a stale heal of French bread and they were so excited you would have thought I really brought them something extra special.

I sold a dozen eggs to our next door neighbor.  The hens are earning money toward their next bag of feed.  Yay!

Enjoying some sunshine

Since the temperatures are slated to be in the forties the next week or so I dropped the thermostat on the main heat down 5° to economize on the heat bill.

How was your thrifty week?



Friday, January 22, 2016

How I Make Throw Pillows Without A Form


Pillow forms can be downright pricey, but you can still make your own throw pillow without one.  I came up with this simple technique many, many years ago.  Someone else may do it this way too, so I won't claim to be the one and only.  But I find it works really, really well.




After completing the pillow front I cut the back to match as well as two pieces of quilt batting the same size.




With right sides together stitch around the edges and leave an opening at the bottom of the pillow about 4 to 6 inches wide.  After stitching around the edges I trim the seam, primarily the batting to remove the bulk.  Trim the corner too and turn right side out.  I re-use the batting I trimmed away and add it to the Poly-fil stuffing.  No waste.



I stuff the pillows with lots of stuffing.  This is not the time to be skimpy.  The layer of batting lining the pillows combined with plenty of stuffing keeps the pillows from being lumpy.  Once the pillows are adequately stuffed, whipstitch the opening closed and fluff them.  

I made these as a Christmas gift for some very close friends of ours.

Ta da!



Thursday, January 21, 2016

Lining Up My Little Duckies In 2015


You know, when I decided to move to Arizona I wanted my life to be completely different.  I wanted a different place to live, different stuff, a different job, a different view out my window.  I wanted a different life.  Then, as most of you know, fate seemed to step in and thwart my every attempt to leave he valley.  So I embarked on another dream of mine and we spent a year living in a 27ft RV and enjoying the tiny lifestyle.  And we really did enjoy it too.


Then fate stepped in once again and we ended up hauling our RV back to our house and moving back in on August 30th of 2014.  By this time I had a new job, had lived in a different place with a different view out my window.  But then I realized something.

I didn't really want or need a different life.  I liked the one I already had.  I wanted it back.


Once we were back in our house I got busy and made a lot of progress in the remaining four months of 2014.  But 2015 was really my year to get all of my little duckies lined up in a neat little row.  Looking back I can't believe how much the girls and I accomplished.


We finished decorating and furnishing the house, put together a sewing room last spring and a home office in December, and paid it all off interest free.  I sold some stuff on Craigslist and eBay and put those funds toward those bills as well as making monthly payments on my PayPal account.  A lot of stuff I paid cash for.


We repaired the lawn, added some landscaping and put in a garden.  The best thing ever was getting chickens back in the coop.  I love, love, love my girls and the eggs they supply us with.  After the initial investment they are pretty much self sufficient.  We sell the surplus eggs and use the proceeds for their feed and supplies.


I stocked our pantry and freezers full of food.  I mean FULL. J


My oldest got braces put on her teeth.

We all got several new pieces of clothing.  I got new bras and underwear, a pair of pajamas, six new tops and a pair of gray pants for work.  I also got a new pair of black shoes for work and a pair of tennis shoes.  The girls got new clothes for school, underwear and socks, plus winter coats, tennis shoes and winter boots.


As our budget allowed I began accumulating a few new items for camping.  We got a tent and some pillows and a couple things from the dollar store to go with what we already had in our chuck box.  We have a ways to go but it’s a start.


I have already shared with you how I paid off a huge chunk of debt.  In addition to that I also built up our savings and my retirement accounts.  At work I lobbied for and received a raise.  Then in October I applied for a new job in a different department where I work.  I got the job and now I am on a new career path, which I find kind of exciting.


Then at the end of November, as you all know, I bought a new car.  Getting the car was my final duckie.  I honestly thought it would be something I'd have to wait until spring 2016 to accomplish but then things just seemed to fall into place.


Having my little duckies lined up in a neat little row gives me great peace of mind.  I feel contentment.  I feel joy.  I feel blessed and tremendously grateful.  I am a very fortunate woman.  2015 was the best year I have had in a long time.

I'm so excited!  And I look forward to all the wonderful things 2016 holds for us.  It is going to be another great year!



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