Friday, April 28, 2017

My Grocery Budget 2017 - April Update


It didn't take me long after last month to slip back into my thrifty grocery shopping ways.  I mean we're talking 30+ years of ingrained thriftiness here.  No way is that just going to go out the window in a month.  And while I enjoyed having a more liberal grocery budget last month I really enjoy the bargain hunt more.  Plus, we had a lot of food waste, although the chickens would beg to differ.  To them they just ate better.  So not a total waste, but you know what I mean.


My nonfood purchases of toiletries, canned cat food, sandwich bags, fabric softener and a lint roller totaled $24.73 of my $25.00 budget.  A lot of what I purchased came from the dollar store so that helped me to keep my expenses low.


Contrary to last month my list is much, much shorter and the total is much, much smaller.  Most of what I bought is produce with a few junky items thrown in to keep the kiddos happy.  The items highlighted in red are my stock up items:


$69.25 ÷ 30 days ÷3 people = $.77 per person per day!

Free cheese!

How did you do last month?  Any great bargains?


This budget month runs from April 1 through April 30



Thursday, April 27, 2017

Why Did I Choose Laverne?


As some of you may have guessed already, acquiring a new (to me) RV is the "potential project" that has come to fruition.  I hesitated to say anything sooner because I wasn't certain it would even become a reality.  In fact, I truly thought it wouldn't happen until next year at the very earliest.  But life has a funny way of working things out.


I have been looking at RVs off and on for the past three years, but much more often and more seriously in the last year.  With so many things that needed to be taken care of first and a big debt elimination goal to finish off this one was a low priority item, however a very high priority goal for me.  It was really big on my want list.  Recently, as a friend pointed out, it was becoming more of a need and I'll tell you more about that in a future post.

So what made me choose a 30 year old motor home, of all things?  Well...

I was seriously considering another one of these Scamps, this time a 16 footer

Motorhome vs. Travel Trailer

For one thing I no longer wish to tow anything.  I went back and forth on this one quite a bit.  While I like the idea that you can park your trailer and still have a vehicle to use away from camp my days of pulling a trailer are to be no more.  Trailers are a lot of work to hitch up and a lot of work to set up once you get to where you are going.  Add the trailer length to the length of your tow vehicle and that's a lot to maneuver around.  Although I was quite able to pull and back up a travel trailer I was never really comfortable with it which made me a nervous traveler.  I don't want to be a nervous traveler.


Quality

Believe me when I tell you I've been through at least 35 RVs in the past two months.  I've dragged my kids along with me every step of the way and even some friends (Bless you!) from time to time.  What I discovered in my "travels" was that the older RVs are more rugged and the materials they used are better.  While they may not be all that pretty inside and rather dated that, to me, is just cosmetics.  I was looking at bone structure.


Size

I looked at everything.  Class A, Class B, Class B+, Class C, vans, trailers, 5th wheels, R-pods and micro trailers.  With slides and without slides.  By the time all was said and done I knew I wanted a small one and an older one.  I like that I can easily and comfortably drive this rig and park it in a regular parking space.  It also fits very nicely in my driveway. 


Attributes

I made a list of what things were the most important to me.  I wanted the bed over the cab so I'd have maximum living space.  I wanted a couch.  I wanted a dining space.  A potty and a shower.  A nice little kitchen.  Good storage space.  This one had all of these things.


Price

A brand new RV is simply not in my budget.  I don't have $80,000 to spend nor do I like the idea of driving off the lot and losing $30,000 before I even get it home.  The depreciation and resale on a used RV is astronomical.

I had set a pretty generous budget to purchase a nice older used RV so that regardless of what I ended up with I'd have plenty leftover for repairs and upgrades.  So to find this particular RV in such amazing condition and at a great price I knew I couldn't pass it up.  Especially after finding out how mechanically sound the truck is as well as the state of the coach.  Definitely a blessing.


Safety

This was the most important part of my decision making process.  I chose a motorhome because as a single women, whether I'm traveling alone or with my children I really like the idea that if we are ever in a situation where we feel we need to leave all I have to do is get in the driver's seat and go.  With a travel trailer I'd have to get out in order to get to my vehicle.  The fact that I have the option to simply drive away gives me tremendous peace of mind. 


Those are pretty much the reasons I decided to go with a motorhome but the reason I chose to buy Laverne was because when I climbed inside it felt like home.  She gave me warm fuzzies and made me feel good.  When I come around the corner and see her in my driveway I get a huge smile and my heart sings.  She is exactly what I wanted and more importantly what I needed.  I am so very happy that she is mine.  ðŸ˜


Stay tuned for more exciting news and updates about Laverne.


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Super Easy Sautéed Green Beans


If you want a really easy side dish you can't get a whole lot easier than this one.

Wash your green beans and pat dry.  Heat a little olive oil in a sauté pan.  Add beans and stir fry until they just start to get tender.


Sprinkle with some garlic powder to taste and then drizzle a little soy sauce.  Stir until they start to caramelize and serve.

These are so good and my daughters eat them right up.  You can do this with snow peas and sugar snap peas too. 


Yum!



Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Christmas Prep 2017 - Only 8 Months To Go!


Yep, I'm back with this post again!  I'm finding it hard to believe that four months have already gone by.

I didn't do a lot of Christmas prep.  I did use a couple coupons to score a super inexpensive gift for my youngest at JC Penney.  They had sent me another one of those $10 OFF coupons.  They have since sent me yet another one!


I also used a Free Item coupon at Bath & Body Works to score another free small bottle of shower gel for a stocking stuffer.  They too have also sent me another coupon!

I do think I've managed to figure out what the girl's big Christmas gift will be this year.  I hope they will like it.  It isn't very exciting, but rather more of a practical gift.  I, myself, would love it, but I'm not sure how much they will.  We shall see.

That is pretty much the sum of what I've accomplished in the Christmas arena.  How about you?  Any shopping or projects going?


Monday, April 24, 2017

Last Week's Thrifty Moves


We enjoyed a wonderful, quiet and laid back Easter Sunday.  I hope all of you had a wonderful day as well.

We all slept in and then lazed about for a while.  My oldest made a beautiful apple pie, I made stuffed shells with shrimp for our midday meal and my youngest made a lovely green salad to go with it.  It was truly perfect.


Sunday evening I took my two old bed pillows and gave them new life rather than add them to the landfill.  I was in need of a simple project to do and this one fit the bill.  You can read about how I did that here if you'd like.

The day before Easter we had looked at a motorhome listed on Craigslist.  It was the one.  But since I have a policy to sleep on all of my big decisions and really think it through it was Monday before I told the seller I was interested in a purchase.  So off she went to the mechanic for an inspection.  She passed!


Tuesday, not so thrifty.  In addition to paying for her I also went to the DMV where I had to pay sales tax, a transfer title fees, registration and buy new license plates.  I decided to put those expenses on my credit card.  For one thing I wanted the purchase points on my card and for another I was still trying to get used to the new balance in savings account.

Wednesday I got home and was able to get inside my new rig and clean and deodorize the refrigerator after it had been closed up all winter.  I fixed a hinge that had some stripped out screw holes and the loose screen on the furnace cover.  I also removed the big monster microwave.  My first tinkerings!


Thursday I didn't get to play in my motorhome at all!  Too many other things like stupid laundry and vacuuming required my attention.  Sheesh!

Friday was a different story.  We ran errands and picked up odds and ends of things to make little minor repairs.  I also fired off and Amazon order for supplies for my first big motorhome project.


We won FREE cheese!  The girls like to play Monopoly at Albertsons and they got a winning game piece.  We stopped in to pick it up and it was the big 2# bag of shredded cheese.  Score!

Saturday I spent the morning cleaning off the layer of winter that had settled over the interior of the motorhome and making a few little repairs to various things.  But by that afternoon I had taken some measurements and made a new list before heading off to Home Depot.  Once I got back I was in full project mode.

Along with motorhome distractions I did manage to cook and keep house.  Oh, I also went to work.  Ha, ha!

We fed some kitchen scraps to our chickens and they laid plenty of eggs last week.  The package of markdown sourdough English muffins I bought the week before, a package of sliced Colby Jack cheese I took out of the freezer and those eggs became our breakfast mainstay all week.  I made egg sandwiches at a cost of 18¢ each!


For the first time in nearly 20 years I decided to order pizza delivery Saturday since we were all in project mode.  I never do this and I'll probably never do it again.  They delivered everything we ordered but the pizza.  When I called to let them know they offered to make a pizza and told me there would be an additional delivery charge.  I told the gal I didn't think the extra delivery charge was right and then she told me too that the pizza was going to be more money as well.  What?!  "No, I think you need to make the pizza at the original price I ordered it at and bring it here with no delivery fee."  She hung up on me!  Yeah, real great customer service.  Time to pen a letter to corporate I suppose.  But I doubt I'll ever buy anything from them ever again.

I stuck a soap sliver to a new bar of soap in the shower and used up every last bit of a tube of chapstick.

I did not do any grocery shopping last week.

So not much of a thrifty week really, once all was said and done.  But a pretty great week nonetheless.

How was your thrifty week?



Friday, April 21, 2017

Meet Laverne


This is my new, to me, 1987 Chevy Winnebago.  She is a Minnie Winnie!  And she couldn't be more perfect for us.



I've never been one to name their vehicles.  Unless you count "Little Truck" and "Little Car" as names.  But this one just popped out and for some reason it stuck.



She is 20 feet long so she is considered a micro minnie which is fine by me.  I love that she drives more like a full sized truck, turns on a dime and fits perfectly inside a standard parking spot.  Not to mention my driveway.  She also has everything I was looking for.


The layout is great.  A large bed over the cab, a nice convertible sofa and a dinette to seat four.  Indoor potty with a shower, very important.  A/C and heat.  Stove. microwave and refrigerator.  The cab even has a newer stereo system.  And the interior isn't loud or gaudy as some RVs can be.  In fact the upholstery is quite tame by 80's standards.  Nothing has been modified or monkeyed with (meaning I don't have a bunch of stuff to fix).  I'm just amazed.


I am the third owner.  The first owner kept her well maintained and in pristine condition for 25 years.  The second owner, a self professed clean freak with a touch of OCD, went through her from bumper to bumper, top to bottom, expecting to keep her and use her for many years to come.  He presented me with all of the maintenance records which I poured through before taking her in for a mechanical inspection.  She passed with flying colors. 


She is in amazing condition.  For the most part, all original with little to no signs of wear.  The refrigerator was replaced by the original owners when they got it ready to sell.  Everything works.  Professionally checked over and winterized every fall.  Routine maintenance done each spring.  She had two owners that really cared about her.  And now she has another one!


So what do I plan to do with her?  Lots!


For now we pretty much plan to enjoy her as she is.  We'll be outfitting her for some weekend excursions so we can get to know her better and become familiar with how she operates.  Then as time goes on I imagine I'll be doing a few things to continue to keep her in such fine shape so I can have her for many years to come.  The bathroom needs a little bit of work and I'd like to spruce up the kitchen area a bit, but nothing over the top to detract from her original style.  I really love her as she is.


So what do you think?  I think she is great!



Thursday, April 20, 2017

Pillow Rehab


I recently bought some pretty deluxe pillows to replace a set I've had for years on my bed.  They are really nice and I love them.  But what to do with the old ones?  I decided to rehab them and use them for spares.



First I washed them with detergent and bleach so they were nice and clean.  Then I cut open the end of the ticking and removed the insides.



After looking them over I filled in the gaps and low spots with Polyfil I had leftover from prior pillow projects.



Once I did that I used quilt batting I had leftover also from a previous pillow project and wrapped each pillow form.  I pinned all the edges together .  I had just enough batting for this project which made me quite happy.



I used white thread and a needle to whip stitch the edges closed all the way around each form.


Then I placed each of the forms back inside their ticking and pinned the ends closed.


Finally I stitched them closed on my machine and after a bit of fluffing they were finished.  Huge difference too.  The look great and smell really nice and clean.


I re-used the plastic the new pillows had come in to put these into for storage.  I'll keep them now to use for company or the retirement house.

I'm really happy with how this project turned out.  And nothing ended up in the landfill except for that little bit I trimmed off on the ends to open up each pillow.



Wednesday, April 19, 2017

An Interesting Thing About Cottage Cheese


We happen to really enjoy cottage cheese.  I know not everyone does, must be a texture thing, but we happen to be a family that really does.  Plain with a good bit of cracked black pepper on top or as a key ingredient in a pasta dish it manages to make its way into many of our meals.


Whenever it goes on sale or markdown I like to stock up.  I didn't used to, because I'd over buy and end up having it go bad before we'd eat it.  I even tried freezing it, but didn't really care for how that altered the texture.  Then I stumbled across this tip.

Store unopened tubs upside down in the refrigerator and it will literally last for months.


I was skeptical, but thought what the heck.  I'll try it.  And guess what? 

It really works!

I've done it for years now and actually kept a 16oz. tub of cottage cheese in the refrigerator for 6 months.  It was perfectly fine.  I was amazed.


I don't know how it works, just know that it does.  Anyone else know about this trick?



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