Monday, February 29, 2016

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

I asked a friend of mine to pick up a 2# package of yeast for me the next time she went to Costco.  She bartered two dozen eggs for it so I didn't have to pay her back.  Win-win for both of us.

I made two loaves of whole wheat bread.  I kept one loaf and shared the other.

After cooking pork roast the week before I poured all of the luscious pan drippings and broth into a mixing bowl and put it in the fridge.  The next day I took it out and removed the layer of fat that had come to the surface and solidified.  I melted the fat, added scratch grains to it and put it in a cool whip container.  It is now in the freezer waiting for me to give it to the chickens for Easter.

The remaining pork broth was divided in half and frozen.  It will be delicious used in recipes that call for chicken broth, I think.

We watched a Masterpiece Theatre mini series on YouTube and a movie from our DVD collection.

I found and purchased another Saks Fifth Avenue sweater on eBay for $19.99.  The shipping was a little high at $7 but it came priority mail.  The total spent was still a bargain.  For a few months now I've been looking for one to replace my current, and favorite, black sweater that is fading and starting to wear.  I've had the hardest time finding just the right one so I decided to go online.  This one is perfect and dressy enough for work.  It is a style that will go well with so many things I already have in my wardrobe and of course the color, well you just can't go wrong with black.  I am just thrilled with it.

Speaking of sweaters, you probably remember the gray one I bought last week was missing a hook and eye.  I took a set out of my sewing stash and with a needle and thread stitched them on.  Now it is good as new and ready to wear.  I love it.

I did not do any grocery shopping this week.

I composted coffee grounds, tea bags, onion skins, garlic skins, eggs shells, a small piece off a broccoli stem and banana peels.  We shared our kitchen scraps with the chickens and they blessed us with a dozen eggs.

I washed out two quart size Ziploc bags to reuse.

I did another Fred Meyer survey and earned 50 bonus points toward a future fuel discount.

Broccoli Beef

Friday evening we cleaned up all of the leftovers in the refrigerator by enjoying a buffet of assorted items for supper.  It was definitely interesting, but also quite delicious.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Why I Like to Print My Coupons Online

Or another thought… why use coupons at all?

Over the years I've gone both ways.  Use coupons a lot.  Don't use them at all.  Use them sometimes.  For me, I find they work best sometimes.

I didn't go nuts and join the extreme coupon craze but I will admit I like watching the show.  I felt for those poor cashiers, especially when shoppers lost it because things didn’t ring up how they thought it should or they had miscalculated.

But in the real world where I prefer to eat real food extreme couponing would never have worked for me.  I don't like to eat all the processed stuff.

My favorite coupons are store issued coupons that come in their weekly sales fliers.  I find I use those the most.  And Fred Meyer is kind enough to send me coupons in the mail from time to time too.

Sunday mornings I like to read the Fred Meyer and Walgreen's ads.  Then if I go and check out to see if they have any coupons I might use to pair with sales.  Sales repeat often enough that I can usually plan on one coming up in time to use a coupon before it expires.

I print them off in sets of three off in sets of 3 because that is how many fit on a sheet of paper.  Lately I've been using scrap paper so I am saving just a little bit more that way.  Even though there is printer ink involved I still feel I'm saving more over paying $2 a week for the Sunday paper.

With the Sunday paper it's more like playing roulette anyway because sometimes there aren't coupons in the paper or they aren't ones I would normally use.  In that case it is a complete waste of money, not to mention paper.  Selecting and printing them online means I can be more selective and quite I can print 2 or 3 of the same one before I max out my limit.

Do you use coupons?  How do you get yours?

Thursday, February 25, 2016

My Grocery Budget - February Update

My grocery shopping this month was much different than last month.  We really didn't need much so I concentrated my dollars on keeping us stocked up on produce and dairy items.  Then I focused on sales and my stock up list.  I was easily able to stay close to budget this month, more than making up for going over last month.  We are going into March with only a 33¢ deficit now.

My non food items budget is $25 a month and I had $10.73 leftover from January to roll over and add to it making it $35.73.  That was great because I needed to replenish our supply of kitty food.  I still didn't spend it all and have $3.11 left to roll over next month and use.

In addition to the cat food, I bought 4 boxes of tissues for 75¢ each and I used a gift card and two $1 OFF coupons to buy two bottles of laundry detergent.  I also used the gift card to pick up a bottle of shampoo and a bottle of hair conditioner.

I stocked up on pork roasts that were on sale for 99¢ a pound, canned tomatoes that were 50¢ a can, mayonnaise on sale for 2/$5 and pasta at 69¢ and 79¢ a package.

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



Pasta (2)

Pasta (2)

Tea bags (100 ct)



Canned pears


Mandarin oranges (2)

Tortillas - 10ct  (4)

Canned tomatoes (2)


Olives (2)

Cottage cheese (2)

Store Coupon
Cheese (2)

Store Coupon
Milk - 1 gal

Cream - 1pt

Baking soda



Garlic bulb

Coleslaw (2)


Salad mix



Veggie tray (2)




AP flour - 25#

Cash & Carry

Lettuce (2)


Vegetable oil - 32 oz.


Mayonnaise (4)

Store Coupon
Canned tomatoes (12)

Store Coupon
Pasta (4)

Store Coupon
Pork Roast - 7#

Milk - 1 gal

Cheese (4)

Store Coupon



Pork roast (2)



 $ 116.85

$116.85 ÷ 29 days ÷3 people = $1.34 per person per day!

It feels really good to be able to maintain our food supply and to be pretty much back on track with the budget.  

Did you stock up on anything this month?  Any super deals?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Old Fashioned Buttermilk Cookies

These are Sarah's cookies.

I made these old fashioned buttermilk cookies from an old late 1800s cookbook.  I saw the recipe for these cookies posted on facebook by Sarah Crisman.  She and her husband are living in their Victorian home in Washington state.  Not only, that but they also live like Victorians.  I find their life and lifestyle quite fascinating.

The cookies don't have any eggs in them and the recipe said they were perfect for when your chickens are off their lay.  How funny.  Anyway, these cookies are soooooo good and we absolutely love them.  Each batch makes about 44 cookies. 


Ellsworth, Mrs. M.W. Queen of the Household. Ellsworth & Brey: Detroit, Michigan, 1899. p. 108.

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp. vanilla or other flavoring]

Cream together the butter and sugar, then mix in the vanilla and buttermilk. Mix the flour and baking soda, then add these to the wet ingredients and mix until it forms a soft dough. Roll out on floured bread board and cut into shapes. Bake 10 to 12 minutes at 375 degrees. Makes 22 round cookies 2 3/4" in diameter.

Add any flavoring you wish. No eggs are required. These are very nice if grated or prepared cocoanut is added.

The buttermilk really makes the cookie so don't skimp on that.  I ended up adding a teaspoon of salt and using 3 cups of flour because the dough was too soft and sticky to roll.  I also made my cookies smaller using my biscuit cutter so that is why I got so many.

As noted one of the variations is to add coconut.  The second time I made these I added a cup of coconut to this recipe and that makes one fantastic cookie!  Well 44 of them, actually.

I love old fashioned recipes that use simple basic ingredients.  I am so glad Sarah shared this recipe on her facebook page.  

Thank you Sarah!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

My Latest Home Improvement Project - The Toilet Seat!

It just doesn't get a whole lot more exciting than this folks!  But the toilet seat in the downstairs bathroom has been replaced. 

The old one was looking pretty worn and ratty.  It had chips all over the lid and the underside of the seat.  The lid looked ugly enough on its own, but the underside of the seat was getting stained and hard to clean.  I'll spare you the picture of that.  Some things should remain a secret.

Fortunately toilet seats aren't too terribly expensive, however they can be if you want to get all technical and fancy.  Since I am still capable of lifting and lowering my own lid myself and do not require a light in the middle of the night (although I do see the value of that if you have men in the house) I opted for a rather low-tech model.  The basic white.

The job itself was pretty darn easy.  I removed the old seat by popping open the little trap doors on the hinges with a flat blade screwdriver and removed the two screws simply by turning the nuts from underneath.  Once the old seat was off I carted it directly to the trash can.  Good riddance!

Then I gave the bowl a good scrubbing because, let's face it, it is going to be a long time before I get to do so while so unencumbered, don't you know.  One mustn't waste the opportunity.

The new seat went on just like the old one came off.  Only in reverse, of course.  J

Total time spent, including scrubbing the bowl - 10 minutes!  But Wow!  What a difference a shiny new seat makes.  And boy is it shiny too.  Amazing how much better it looks.  And another item crossed of the good 'ol To Do list!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

My bread baking on Saturday was completely annihilated by Tuesday so I made three more loaves of the Steakhouse Brown Bread.  It is now my family's very favorite.

I went to Fred Meyer twice last week.  The first time was on Tuesday to get mayonnaise as we were running low (and it was on sale) and to check out the pork roasts on sale for 99¢ a pound.  I bought a 7# roast and picked up canned tomatoes and pasta on sale too.  After some thought I decided to go back Saturday morning for more mayonnaise, canned tomatoes and another roast for the freezer.  While there I picked up produce for salads and found onion bagels in the markdown bin for my youngest.  They are her favorite.

I found a gorgeous  and nearly new Saks Fifth Avenue sweater on eBay for $7 because the hook and eye was missing from the bottom and the owner said she didn’t sew.  I happen to have a package of hooks and eyes so it is no problem whatsoever for me to fix it.  I love the style and luxurious feel of it.  The shipping was only $4 so I ended up with this lovely gem for only $11 plus a hook and an eye.  I can only imagine what she must have paid for it originally.  I'll bet it was a lot more than $11.

Early Thursday morning I put the 7# roast in the slow cooker on high and let it cook all day in its own juices.  When I got home from work I had to reset the cooker because it hadn't hit the fall apart stage I was looking for yet.  It cooked all evening.

When the roast finally was done I divided it into thirds with plans for future meals.  One third went into my medium sized slow cooker with BBQ sauce from the pantry for pulled pork sandwiches.  The rest was packaged for the freezer.

I used rolls from the freezer for the pulled pork sandwiches.  I was glad I had put them up last time I made rolls.

A quick stop in at Albertsons provided us with 4 packages of cheese on sale for $5, two pounds of bananas at 49¢ a pound, four boxes of facial tissue on sale for 75¢ each and a package of raisin bagels from the markdown bin for 99¢.

I updated my pantry list and started a new grocery list for March.

I printed off six online grocery coupons using scrap paper.  I used one coupon for cat treats that were on sale.

I ran a load of laundry using both soap and fabric softener I rinsed from empty bottles.

Saturday's bounty.

I washed out 2 one gallon Ziploc bags and a quart sized one too to reuse.

I signed up for a free sample of Fancy Feast cat food for my old man kitty.

Friday evening my youngest made a quart of homemade vanilla ice cream.  It was delicious!  I have to tell you she is getting really good at making ice cream.

How was your thrifty week?

Friday, February 19, 2016

Soup, Salad & Homemade Bread

My family knows my favorite supper is to sit down with a hot bowl of homemade soup, a nice piece of homemade bread and a crispy green salad topped with homemade dressing.  Comfort food at its finest.

The other day I was talking to my youngest about writing this post and I had to laugh.  She told me that when she was little, about the first grade, she used to think that "homemade" was a brand.  Of course it is. It's my favorite brand.

I think that means I might be doing something right.  J

Homemade soup is good.  It is good for our bodies and for our souls.  Fresh made bread is the perfect accompaniment in my book and a great way to add extra fiber to our diet.  I usually make a big pot of soup every Saturday.  Fresh rolls, biscuits, cornbread, breadsticks or loaves of French bread usually make their way to the table too.

We keep salads going all week long but I really enjoy them with soup meals.  I try to keep them interesting with a variety of different vegetables, olives, pickles, and so forth.  Every week or so I like to make a pint of salad dressing and again different ones each time to keep things interesting.

Thrifty, wholesome and delicious nutrition for me and my family.  What is your favorite soup, salad and bread combination?

Thursday, February 18, 2016

A Jar Of Soap

My grandfather traveled a lot for his job.  On average he was on the road at least three weeks a month, home on weekends, and my grandmother didn't seem to mind it a bit.  In fact, I think she rather enjoyed it.  One summer, not long after I moved into my very first apartment, my grandparents came to Idaho for a visit.  My grandmother brought me a jar of soap.

I get a lot of my thriftiness from her and as I remember it was a great big sauerkraut jar that she had pr0bably washed out and saved.  She told me that very week, when my grandfather came home from being on the road, he would give her all the little bars of soap he had collected from the hotels he stayed in.  In those days when you checked into the hotel there would be two or three little bars of soap wrapped in paper with the hotel logo on it.  This was before hotels gave away the little bottles of shower gel, lotion and shampoo.

When she handed me the jar I remember thinking it was kind of an odd thing to give someone, but I also thought it was kind of quaint too.  And so like her.  The jar was filled with tons of little rectangular soaps.  Mostly white bars but there were some yellow and pink ones too.  All different brands like Ivory, Dial, Zest and Safeguard.  She told me it might come in handy now that I was on my own.

Little did I know how right she was.  That jar of soap went with me from house to house as I moved, married, divorced, moved and moved again.  And it really did come in handy.  Every time money was tight, and it frequently was, I'd dip into that jar and grab a bar of soap to put in the shower or set by the bathroom sink.

Last week a friend of mine sent me home with a basket of hotel soaps and shampoos that she had collected last year while she and her husband traveled.  It was fun for me and the girls to go through and take a few things, but the one thing I decided I really wanted was all those little bars of soap.

I had put a jar in the donate box last month because I had hung onto it for well over a year and hadn't come up with a use for it.  Then I thought - Hey! 

I unwrapped all those little bars of soap and filled it up while telling my girls about the one my grandmother had given me so many, many years ago.  Now, once again, I have a jar of soap in the house.

Because you never know.  It just might come in handy.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Steakhouse Brown Bread - Yum!

When we go out for a steak dinner we love it when they bring the bread basket and the whipped to the table.  Especially if there is a loaf of that lightly sweet brown bread in it.  As I've grown more confident with my bread baking skills I've enjoyed branching out and trying new ones.  This is what I came up with for my steakhouse style brown bread recipe.

Steakhouse Brown Bread

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
2 Tbs baking cocoa
4 tsp yeast
1/4 cup dark molasses
1 egg
1 Tbs olive oil
1 -1 1/4 cup hot water

Select the dough cycle.  Place dry ingredients in pan and select start.  Add molasses, egg, water and oil.  Once dough forms a smooth ball (you may have to add a little flour or water depending on humidity) close lid and allow cycle to run completely.

Once finished remove dough from machine and knead lightly on a floured surface.  Dough should be smooth and not be sticky.  

Divide dough into three equal parts.  Shape into a round loaf and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet.  

Cut a cross on the top of each dough ball, if desired.

Cover with a tea towel and allow dough to raise until doubled in size in a warm draft free place, approximately one hour.

Bake loaf in a preheated 400° oven for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and brush top with butter, if desired.

I like to brush with butter or spray with a little non stick cooking spray to keep the loaves soft.  If you prefer a crunchy crust just leave them alone.  Sliced and served with whipped butter is fantastic but we also think this would be excellent bread to use for tuna or ham sandwiches.

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