Thursday, December 29, 2016

Bidding Farewell To 2016


Organizing pictures and backing up files on my laptop gave me the opportunity to reflect on the past year.  As I bid farewell to 2016 I am comfortable in the fact it was truly a fantastic year.


We spent a lot of time with our family and our friends.  It was one of those things that we really focused on in 2016 and we intend to continue to do so next year as well.

Remember this crazy repair job?

It was a year filled with accomplishments for both of my girls and myself.  I had set some fairly lofty goals and accomplished pretty much all of them.  I'm quite pleased about that.  As a result I am really excited about all of things I want to do in 2017.

On the ferris wheel at the fair

For the first time in a long time I feel like I have direction, which may sound a bit odd to some of you I suppose.  I attribute a lot of that feeling to the fact that I have an actual retirement date and a plan in place to get me there.  There for awhile I wasn’t so sure and it was unsettling.

American stencil quilt

I spent a great deal of time creating.  I sewed and crafted more this past year than I have in probably the last 20 years.  And I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  I plan to continue to create in 2017 as I have discovered it has been quite productive, but more importantly it is very good for me.

Our hens enjoying apple scraps

I find as we close out the year that I am rather content, incredibly happy, tremendously grateful, eagerly optimistic and extremely excited about the year ahead.  I am a very fortunate woman.

Boise, Idaho 2016

The momentum of 2016 will carry me onward and 2017 will be another great year!




Wednesday, December 28, 2016

My Grocery Budget - December Update


December turned out to be my lowest grocery spending month of the year.  Our pantry and freezers have been so well stocked I was able to shop only a few times to pick up produce and a few dairy items.  I did stop at Albertson's on the way home one evening to stock up on cream cheese and green beans on sale.


I came in way under budget and I was really happy about it.  While I did go over budget for the year, this month certainly did help me to make a dent in our yearend total deficit.

7-Up, cookies & caramels were free!

I was under budget on the non food items I purchased too as the only thing I bought was a 16# bag of cat food on sale for $10.29 and a bag of litter for $3.19 for a whopping total of 13.48.


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

Lettuce (2)

           1.76

Mixed vegetables

           3.98

Tomatoes

           0.54

Coleslaw mix

           0.98

Parmesan Romano (2)

           3.96
Sale
Jumbo shells

           1.38
Sale
Manicotti

           1.68
Sale
Salad dressing

           1.58
Sale
Salad dressing

           1.98
Sale
Buttermilk

           0.58

Cream - 1qt

           3.18
Sale
Garlic bulb

           0.58

Onion powder

           0.84
Bulk
Garlic bulb

           2.20
Bulk
Pumpkin pie spice

           0.52
Bulk
Oregano

           0.31
Bulk
Parsley

           0.50
Bulk
Pickles

           3.48
Sale
Shortening

           3.51
Sale
Lettuce (2)

           2.08
Markdown
Bell pepper - red

           0.99
Sale
Milk - 1/2 gal (2)

           1.58
Sale
Salami

           1.00
Sale
Smoked sausage

           3.89
Sale
Cream cheese (4)

           3.96
Sale
Green beans (6)

           2.34
Store Coupon
Pasta (2)

           1.00
Store Coupon
7-Up

 FREE
Store Coupon
Cookies

 FREE
Store Coupon
Caramels

 FREE
Store Coupon
Milk - 1 gal

           1.79
Sale
Lettuce

           0.99

Spinach

           1.99

Coleslaw mix

           1.49

Tomatoes

           0.58

Bell pepper

           0.99

Limes (2)

           0.67

Lettuce

           1.29

Lettuce

           0.99

Broccoli

           0.74
Sale
Sour cream

           1.25
Sale
Cottage cheese

           1.25
Sale
Salami

           1.00
Sale
Bologna

           1.00
Sale
Tortilla chips

           1.00
Sale




Total

 $       67.40


$67.40 ÷ 31 days ÷3 people = $.73 per person per day!

We ate really, really well this month and got our holiday baking done, to boot.  

Cookies!

Savvy shopping throughout the year has allowed me to pretty much stay on budget with just a little bit of overage.  Next year I will be striving to keep it in line and not go over at all.


Year End Totals:

Food Budget $1650 ($125/month Jan - Jun; $150/month Jul - Dec) 
Total Spent $1748.45 (over $98.45)

Non Food Budget $300 ($25/month) 
Total Spent $304.45 (over $4.45)


As we head into 2017 I am thrilled that we still have a gob of food in the freezer in our garage, the pantry is still quite full and we have a lot of odds and ends in our kitchen freezer.  I'll be working on clearing out the kitchen freezer in the weeks ahead so those things get used up and nothing goes to waste.

This budget month runs from December 1 through December 31.




Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Our Thrifty Christmas Without A Budget


This year I did not set a Christmas budget.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I did not set a budget for Christmas.  First time in forever, I assure you, but this year I just didn't want to.  So I didn't.  Instead I decided to buy each month what I could easily afford and although I have no idea what I truly spent, I do know it wasn't outlandish.

I didn't go into debt or overspend and I wasn't stressed or worried either.  It worked out really well because the strategy I employed this year was to spend as little as possible on each gift.  Not that I was a tightwad and bought cheap gifts.  Quite the contrary.  The gifts were really nice.  I just wanted to make sure I paid the lowest price possible for each purchase I made.


As usual I made a lot of the gifts I gave.  I used a lot of things I already had on hand and bought other supplies as needed.  Using coupons and taking advantage of sales at JoAnn's Fabrics helped me a ton.  I managed to get all of my sewing and crafting supplies very inexpensively.

I made a set of reversible placemats with coordinating napkins.  I'll be writing a post to show you how I did that and getting it up next month.

I made my girls flannel pajama shorts using a pattern I already had.  I added T-shirts bought on sale at JoAnn's.  They like to sleep in oversized T-shirts.



I made pillow forms for the girls from muslin and polyfil I had leftover from previous projects.  I bought pillow covers on sale at Amazon for $2.68 each!  With free shipping, of course.  Made for a perfect extra gift to tuck under the tree.

I bought my oldest a slow cooker for $9.99 at an after Christmas sale in January.  It was my very first gift purchase.


I found stocking stuffers and smaller gifts on clearance in January too.  I picked up gloves and socks to put in their stockings for mere pennies.


My oldest wanted a new cell phone in the worst way and was saving up to buy one after Christmas.  I found the one she wanted on sale at ShopKo for $29.99.  Since she has a tendency to drop her phone I added on a two year warranty for $5.


My youngest wanted a Kindle, but never imagined she would get one because she knows they are expensive.  I bought hers from Amazon's Black Friday sale for $33.33!  Again with free shipping.

On my birthday ShopKo gave me a $10 OFF a $10 purchase coupon.  I used it to buy two little ceramic baking dishes with lids for the girls.  They were $4.99 each on sale and with the coupon they were FREE!

Aren't these cute?  I bought the red and blue ones for the girls.

For some of my friends and co-workers I raided the gift shelf in my closet and pretty much cleared it out.  I made hanging dish towels and paired them with leftover hand soap I had bought on sale at Bath & Body Works a couple years ago.  The fabric I used was from my scrap bag and the towels were leftover from a bunch of dish towels I had made for my Etsy shop.


This year we didn't buy any new Christmas d├ęcor, not even lights.  We managed to fix a string of tree lights so we didn't need to replace any.  I made a couple votives and some quilted table and candle mattes using things I already had.  We did buy two new sets of cookie cutters on sale at Winco for $1.58 each.


I used a bunch of Christmas cards my oldest had given me that she had leftover from last Christmas.  I had plenty of cards to send to our friends and family.  I printed our annual Christmas letter out on stationery a friend gave us when she cleaned out her home office.  I ran a few stamps short so I did buy a new book of postage stamps.  Now I have plenty of stamps left for next Christmas.


Using items we already had in our pantry and freezer we baked cookies and desserts, entertained guests, prepared our holiday meals and enjoyed our lovely annual tradition - Horse Doover Nite.  No mad dashes to the store for missing ingredients.  We managed to make do with what we had and it all worked out perfectly.


Our Christmas was the best one to date.  They seem to get better and better each year too.  I sure do hope you had a wonderful Christmas with your family.



Monday, December 26, 2016

Last Week's Thrifty Moves



We were snowed in for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  We managed to stay warm and toasty indoors after shoveling a gob of snow.

While the youngest and I were able to clear the driveway and sidewalk the road in front of our home was impassable.  I know because I watched a couple of my neighbors try it.  Boy did they get upset too!  We just wished them a Merry Christmas and headed back inside.


I didn't do a whole lot really as we were keeping it pretty low key all week leading up to the big day.  I cooked meals from our meal plan with things I already had on hand.

In anticipation of the pending snowstorm I stopped at Fred Meyer on Wednesday evening on the way home from work and picked up some fresh produce and a couple other items for Christmas dinner.  The place was packed but I managed it just fine.

Hot cocoa with a dollop of whipped cream - Mmmmm

I picked up a 50# bag of ice melt at work.  With my employee discount it was dirt cheat at $6.75.  That should hold us through the winter I hope.

I was able to leave work a couple hours early on Friday to get a jumpstart on the long weekend.

I made our traditional Christmas Eve supper of clam chowder, cheddar garlic drop biscuits and a green salad.  It was perfect on a cold wintery evening after shoveling snow all day.


We shared stale bread and kitchen scraps with the chickens.

I washed out a couple Ziploc bags to reuse.

We watched Christmas movies on Amazon and listened to a lot of Christmas music on Youtube.

This is a lot of snow for us

That is really pretty much the sum of it.

How was your thrifty week?



Thursday, December 22, 2016

Baking Christmas Cookies


Nothing says Christmas more than spending a cold winter afternoon inside our kitchen baking cookies with my girls.  The aroma of freshly baked cookies is pretty hard to beat.  Not to mention, it’s a lot of fun too.

Sunday afternoon we gathered our ingredients together and got to work.  We played classic Christmas music on the Victrola - Burl Ives, Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Mathis, Rosemary Clooney, you name it.  We had it going on.

Sugar Cookie dough

It was a whopping 19° outside, but we were warm and toasty indoors as we pulled out my old recipe cards and mixed up three of our favorites.  First was our Traditional Sugar Cookies recipe because that dough needs to chill in the refrigerator at least an hour before you roll it.


While that dough chilled (notice the pretty fabric bowl cover it is wearing) we made up a batch of Chocolate chip cookies with M&Ms  and mini chocolate chips.  The youngest and I made these the first two batches of cookies while the oldest made her favorite Chewy Gingersnaps and worked on homework, simultaneously.


When we finished with the Chocolate Chip Cookies we rolled out the Sugar Cookie dough and used a combination of new and my grandmother's vintage cutters.  My youngest asked me if she could have my grandma's cookie cutters when she moves out on her own.  I am thrilled that she wants them so of course I told her yes.  Of my two girls she is the most sentimental when it comes to family heirlooms.


We had a blast decorating cookies.  We were out of red sugar sprinkles so I mixed up some homemade ones using granulated sugar and a few drops of red food coloring.  We also had a bit of leftover vanilla frosting to use up so we frosted about a dozen of the cookies and put sprinkles on the rest.


Of course there was some serious taste testing to be done to ensure they were up to snuff.  And I am happy to report all is well on that front.  We then got busy putting together and decorating treat bags and goodie plates for teachers, friends and neighbors.  We still have plenty left for ourselves, but there may be another cookie baking session needed on Christmas Eve. 

We can't forget about Santa! 
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