Friday, October 31, 2014

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Taking A Little Break

I've decided to take the rest of the week off from blogging.  I'll be back next Monday though with a new post to share with you.  Have a fantastic remainder of the week my friends!

Have you checked us out on facebook yet?  
Be sure to do so and Like us then tell all your friends about it. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

I went to Albertson's on Sunday morning to buy some meat that was on sale.  I used money from next month's grocery budget to pay for it.  I don't plan to use any of it this month.

For our Sunday dinner I took the leftover meat I had saved from last week's pot roast and made a pot of beef barley soup in my slow cooker.  I made the broth with the drippings from the roast, some vegetable broth I had saved in the freezer, water and a packet of brown gravy mix.  I added a quarter cup of barley and let it cook for about four hours before adding half a bag of peas and carrots.  I made a batch of homemade baking powder biscuits to go with it.  It was such a good meal.

I went to two stores on the way home from work to pick up a few items on sale for my HalloWine party.  Perfect timing because one store had a big wine sale going on plus some brands were offering rebates.  Because of that I was able to get some peanuts and candy corn on sale that I wasn't originally planning to get.  It was a real hit at the party

I worked some overtime this week.

I took my daughter to a friend's house and stopped along the way to put our water bill in the drop box so I could save a stamp.

I printed some online coupons for groceries.

I used a 50% OFF coupon at JoAnn Fabrics to buy 300 cupcake papers in super cute printed designs.  I paid for them using a gift card so they were no cost to me.

How was your thrifty week last week?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Spicy Italian Sausage & Pasta

We loooooove this recipe.  Super simple to make and fast too.

Spicy Italian Sausage & Pasta

1 pkg. hot Italian sausages
2 cans Italian style diced tomatoes
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp. dried basil
2Tbs. olive oil
1 pound pasta, cooked and drained
Parmesan cheese

Slice the sausage links.  

Heat oil in a large pot and sauté sausage.  

Add tomatoes, one tomato can filled with water, garlic and basil stirring well to combine.  

I start my pasta water while I saute the sausage
so it is done at the same time the sauce is ready.
Simmer for 20 minutes.  Stir occasionally.

Basil & fresh garlic added.
Toss pasta together with sausage and sauce.  Serve garnished with parmesan.

If spicy isn't your thing the mild Italian sausage is every bit as delicious in this recipe.  Either way you can't go wrong. J

Thursday, October 23, 2014

How I Plan On Stocking Up On Meat For Winter

Meat prices have been crazy high lately.  My goal to keep purchases under $2 a pound or package has been nearly next to impossible.  But not completely.  On top of that we moved back into our house with a completely empty chest freezer and winter is fast approaching.

I always feel much better going into winter with a full freezer so my goal right now is to fill up that freezer.  So far I've been fortunate to find quite a few bargains in the markdown bin but the sales have been less than stellar.

Last week Albertson's had pork roasts and skinless boneless chicken breasts for $1.99 a pound.  I couldn't pass it up.  Using money from next month's budget I purchased two large pork roasts and five pounds of chicken breasts which I repackaged when I got home.

All re-wrapped and ready to go.
While I continue to scope out the markdown bins at the grocery stores I will be focusing my grocery dollars on a few key items.

Ground beef and turkey
Ground pork sausage
Pot roast
Whole turkey - for Thanksgiving
Rib eye steaks - for Christmas dinner

So far the freezer in the garage is only about a quarter full.  I don't need to fill it to the top but it does need to be a little bit fuller.  All in due time I suppose. J

What kind of winter preparations are important to you?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

HalloWine Party Plans On A Budget

Some of the ladies I work with have been anxious for a get together at my house.  I decided to have them over for a Halloween themed wine party.  I set a budget of $25 to put this together.

I made the invitations on my computer and hand delivered them so no postage was needed.

The dollar store supplied me with Halloween plates, napkins, a black plastic table cloth and a package of toy rings.  I thought the rings would make great wine glass markers.  Pretty clever, huh?  Total spent - $5.

Two bottles of wine on sale for $5.99 each at Walgreens plus a$2 rebate on each bottle.  Total spent $9.98.

Isn't this cute?  I tested it out to make sure they didn't fall off.
They didn't.  LOL.
I plan to make a few appetizers using items I already have on hand but I also needed a few items as well.  I bought half a pound of shrimp on sale for $3.99/lb and cream cheese on sale for 88¢ each along with a bottle of cocktail sauce for $.99.  I also picked up two boxes of crackers on sale for 2/$4 and used a $1 coupon - Total spent - $6.87

Ever make this easy shrimp dip?
Layer cream cheese with cocktail sauce and shrimp.  Serve with crackers.
Walgreens had peanuts and candy corn on sale so I picked up a bag of each to mix together and set out in small dishes - total spent $2.99.

On the invitations I asked the ladies to bring a bottle of wine or an appetizer to share so there will have plenty to enjoy.  This not only helps with the expense but allows us to sample a larger variety wines and tasty appetizers.  
Grand total spent $24.84.  Barely made it but I did it!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Our Cloth Napkins

A couple weeks ago I found a darling fruit basket on sale at ShopKo for $4.99.  I wanted one just like this to keep our cloth napkins in so I was very happy when I found exactly what I was looking for.  Even more so that it was on sale.

After placing the napkins in the basket it looked so cute I decided it needed to be on the shelf of our cabinet in the dining room.  It looks great sitting there too.  Do you use cloth napkins or do you prefer paper?

For the longest time I used paper napkins but I can't say I loved them.  I decided a little more than a year ago to make my own cloth napkins and use them instead.  I definitely can say I LOVE my cloth napkins.

I made them with fabric from my stash using up a bunch of extras pieces I had.  They are made from two pieces stitched together so they are extra durable and absorbent.  The cotton blend fabrics I used make them easy to launder and they come out relatively wrinkle free.

I made some using fall themed fabric which are perfect for our Thanksgiving table, a Hawaiian print for BBQs on the deck, and calico prints for everyday use.  This year I hope to make some out of Christmas print fabric.

Want to make some like I did?  This is how Idid it.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

After nearly two weeks without grocery shopping I headed into Albertsons to take advantage of some really good sales items.  This is what I got:

Four boxes of cereal on sale - 3 for $1.88 each less a 50¢ coupon made the final priced $1.38 and a box of Captain Crunch on sale for $1.99 just because I wanted it. J
4 cans of soup - 2/$1
4 cans of green beans and 2 cans of corn - 49¢ each
6 cans of spaghetti sauce - 77¢ each
6 boxes of breakfast sausage links - 77¢ each
2 cartons of fruit punch - $1 each
2 cartons of eggs - 89¢ each

I also picked up a package of lean ground beef on markdown for $2.29 and a pot roast on sale for $9.00.  The bagels were in the markdown bin at the bakery for 99¢.

On my birthday I found a rug at Fred Meyer that would be perfect in our living room.  I almost bought it for $129.00 but my gut told me to wait for it to go on sale.  I am so happy that I waited because I was able to buy it on sale last week and save a whopping $40!  It looks great.

We veered from our menu plan quite a bit.  Instead of the meatloaf I had originally planned for our Sunday dinner I made the pot roast I got on sale.  I used the leftover roast to make a batch of Bolognese and invited a friend over for supper.  Then I saved the last of the roast to make some beef barley soup.

Thursday we made a pizza and used up quite a few leftover items in the fridge.  We had leftover cheese, mushrooms, pepperoni, bell pepper, diced onion and diced ham.  Even the dough was leftover as I had made breadsticks to go with the Bolegnese using half the recipe of dough.  It was an awesome pizza and it sure didn't taste like it was made of leftovers. 

My slow cooker was looking pretty dingy so I put 2 Tbs. of bleach in it and filled it up with hot water.  After letting it soak for about 20 minutes it looked good as new.  Before I dumped it out I used some of the water to clean a tea stain out of the bottom of one of my white coffee cups.

I went to the movies on "Tightwad Tuesday" for only $5 a ticket.  I used a gift card I got for Christmas last year to pay for my ticket and saw Dracula Untold.  Loved it!

A couple of weeks ago I unpacked my son's old Sega Genesis game and set it up for the girls to use on our old TV set.  They were able to determine one of the controllers wasn't working anymore.  I found a set of replacement controllers on eBay for $6.88 with free shipping.  They arrived this week and work perfectly.  The girls are in hog heaven.

Thursday after work I went to ShopKo to exchange a pair of my daughter's jeans and pick up some new mini blinds that were on sale.  I was able to get two new blinds for $7.19 each.  I also had a $5 store coupon to use on my purchase.

While I was there I happened upon four packages of pudding cups on a clearance shelf for 50¢ each.  These will be great for the kid's lunches.

When I left the store I didn't make it to my vehicle and I knew I was heading back inside to make another purchase.  I bought this adorable ceramic jack-o-lantern for our front porch.  It was on sale for $19.99 and I had a $10 store coupon ShopKo had given me for my birthday so I just had to use it.  Now I have a jack-o-lantern on the porch the squirrels can't eat and make a mess all over the place.

Isn't he cute?!
Not so thrifty, but necessary, was to purchase a book of stamps at the post office.  Since I was there I picked up a book of Christmas stamps to.  I like to use those after Halloween to send mail as well as my Christmas cards.  I will be paying myself back for the stamps I use for cards out of the Christmas Budget.

One of the managers at work gave me some Friendship Bread starter.  The last starter I had going for 11 years.  I let it go when we moved so I am extra excited to get it going again.  We loooooove Friendship Bread.

I watched a cooking show on PBS online for free.  Now I am anxious to try making Artisan Bread.  I've heard it is delicious and dead easy.

We watched Castle and The Goldberg's on our Roku.

I baked four loaves of whole wheat bread and my oldest made a batch of chocolate chip cookies.

I went through all of my partially used labels and used them up to make return address labels and all the mailing labels I will need for Christmas.

I also burned three music CDs to give as gifts.  I already had blank discs, cases and CD labels in my office supplies making this a no cost project.

How was your thrifty week?  Any great bargains?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Christmas All Year Long - Books!

I love to receive a good book or a cookbook as a gift.  Even more, I love to give one.  A real life book that you hold in your hand and turn the pages.  Don't get me wrong.  I appreciate the Kindle and all those other technological gadgets out there but I still like a book.

I am always amazed when I go to thrift store how many wonderful books I can find for very little money.  A lot of them are even brand new or still like new.  The dollar store is another great place to buy books.  They stock a lot of hardback books from overstocked bookstores.  I have found many books and cookbooks there as well.

And don’t forget to hit the clearance shelves at the bookstores.  That is another great way to inexpensively purchase a nice new book for someone to give as a gift, or even yourself for that matter.

Lastly, but certainly not least, I like Amazon as an inexpensive book source and you certainly can't beat the selection.  They have every book imaginable, even mine.  Don’t forget to check out the private listings too.  Often you can get what you want for less through a private seller.

When I give a book I also like to give a handmade bookmark to go with it.  It is terrible to be all warm and comfy in bed, ready to go to sleep and discover you don't have anything to hold your place in your book.  So rather than having to get up and go find something I will often include one as part of the gift.

Do you have an avid reader on your gift list this year?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Quick Upgrade

Did I show you this?

When we moved back in to our home we discovered the glass globes were missing and presumably broken from two of our ceiling fans.

A few years ago I had bought a contractors set of ceiling light fixtures at Lowes.  They were really nice and I was able to upgrade several light fixtures throughout the house at a considerable savings.  Plus they all matched, which for some, like me, is a big deal.

Lucky for me I happened to have one left in my garage and since the fan is pretty old and outdated I decided to upgrade that old thing by using our one remaining light fixture.

Now both bedrooms upstairs have matching lighting and it didn't cost me anything extra to do it.  My daughter is thrilled because her room no longer has a light fixture with a bare exposed bulb.  Just in time for her upcoming sleepover in which she is trying to make everything in her room look perfect.

I cannibalized the outdated ceiling fan before I scrapped it by removing the pull switches and the wire nuts.  I always need extra wire nuts and I am hoping to use one of the pull switches to repair the broken one in our dining room fixture.  I'll let you know if that works out.  I also kept some of the screws that held it together for my coffee can of miscellaneous fasteners I keep in the garage.

I spent about twenty minutes replacing the light, the girls helped me with the clean up and one more item is now out of the garage.  Definitely feeling good about this project all the way around.

Contractor's packs are a great way to save a chunk of money if you have multiple things to replace like electrical outlets, light fixtures, door locks, sprinkler heads, etc.  Check them out next time you have a big project planned.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Denver Style Quiche

We love Denver Omelets and this quiche is great too.  Not to mention super easy!

Denver Style Quiche

1 cup diced ham
1/4 cup finely diced onion
1/4 cup finely diced green bell pepper
1 shredded potato
1 shredded carrot
2 Tbs. oil
4 eggs
1/3 cup flour
1 1/4 cup milk
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 375°.  In a medium skillet sauté ham onion, bell pepper, and potato in oil.  Allow to cool.  Meanwhile beat eggs.  Whisk in flour, then milk.  Stir in salt, pepper, and cheese.

Pour into a prepared 10" deep dish pie crust or lightly oiled pie plate.  Bake 45 minutes until set.

We love this for breakfast, brunch or supper.  Absolutely delicious.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The $1 Designer Purse

Remember this bag of miscellaneous junk we bought?
So is anybody wondering what happened to the Kate Spade designer purse and wallet we got in our $1 all you can stuff in a bag deal?  I washed it.

Lots of projects!
First I laid it out in the kitchen sink and sprayed it thoroughly with Spray & Wash and let it soak a bit.

Then I scrubbed it with a soft bristled brush before I hosed it off with my kitchen sprayer.  The dirt poured off of it.  I did it again and then when I rinsed it the water ran clear. 

On a kitchen towel I laid it all out to dry and guess what?  It is just like new.  Smells good too.

Voile! Turned out amazing.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

With my computer I made Christmas cards and invitations for a Halloween Party using cardstock and envelopes I already had on hand.

I made a small batch of black beans and one of kidney beans to put up in my freezer.  I like to have them on hand to add to recipes as I need them.

Using one of my 50¢ boxes of cake mix I made a cherry Jello-O Poke Cake to take to Bunco.  It was my turn to bring dessert so I made my favorite go-to recipe.  Light and not overly high in fat and calories.  Not to mention scrumptious.

I made another payment on my six months same as cash account using money I earned working overtime which makes three payments in one month on my furniture.  I worked another four hours of overtime this week too.

I added extra money to my savings account.

At the dollar store I found some things I needed on my grocery list.

Green olives
Jalapeno peppers
Marshmallow crème (for fudge at Christmas!)
Baking powder
Triaminic cold medicine
Maraschino cherries
Two graham cracker pie shells (to use for quick desserts when needed)

Plus a few other items:

I also found a really nice pair of lined jersey cotton work gloves to wear when we get ready to tackle some yard projects in the coming weeks.

I bought eight new wine glasses at the dollar store.  They are heavy restaurant quality and very nice.  Now I have plenty of stemware for when company comes over.

I picked up some party supplies too which I will be talking more about in another post.

I bought a pumpkin pie spice scented candle for the downstairs bathroom and a vanilla one for the living room.

I did not grocery shop this week.

I sent a letter to my aunt and printed it off on my own homemade Halloween stationery I made on my computer.

Using our Roku we watched three of our favorite shows for free on Hulu - Sleepy Hollow, Castle and The Goldbergs.

We finally got the rest of the trash cleaned up out of our front yard.  Our next door neighbor was kind enough to lend us one of their extra trash cans which saved me having to go and buy one.

How did you save money last week?

Friday, October 10, 2014

Christmas Budget Update

At the beginning of the year I set our Christmas Budget.  A ridiculously low amount by many people's standards but by mine, not so much.  I took an envelope and labeled it "Christmas 2014" and every month I tucked a $10 bill inside.  Well it is now October and the envelope is now full of bills.  And the remains of a $25 JoAnn Fabrics gift card.

In order to make my $100 go as far as possible I am using my gift card, a birthday gift from a friend last year, to supplement my cash.  At the beginning of the year I used my credit card rewards points to order another $25 gift card to Bath & Body Works.  Late last spring I used it to purchase some things there to go with homemade gifts I am planning to give my friends.

We have also gone to Harbor Freight, a hardware store, to use free item coupons from the newspaper and stashed those in a bucket in my closet to add to another fun gift I am putting together.

Any food gifts we make will come from items we already have on hand in our pantry.  Lately I've been adding baking items to our grocery list every month so I will have plenty of ingredients in store when the time comes.  I am very much looking forward to the baking! J

To make my budget successful I will have to be resourceful.  I've been scanning Pinterest and other blogs to get plenty of ideas for everything from gift wrapping and décor to baked goods and handmade gifts.  I'm getting excited too as I prepare and get started.

The goal is to have all gifts done and ready to go by Thanksgiving Day, with the exception of food gifts.  I want those fresh, of course.

Have you started any preparations for Christmas yet?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Debt Repayment - Mortgages - A Repost

I originally wrote this post in February 2012.  I thought it might be helpful to repost it for some of you interested in saving money on your mortgages.  It is amazing to me how much money we can save by making a few simple changes here and there.

I like mortgages.  That kind of debt is OK, in my book, because it is a huge investment in your future.  For most of us it is the largest single debt item we will carry but I think it is well worth it.  We all have to live somewhere and what could be better than your own home.  The key is to purchase only as much home as you need and can well afford.  I don’t want to become a slave to my home or my monthly payment.  I have other things to do. J

I don’t like second mortgages or homeowner equity lines of credit (HELOC).  Unfortunately these types of loan arrangements can be difficult to re-pay and most have adjustable interest rates which cause payments to fluctuate.  Many homeowners have found themselves unable to afford to meet these payments when interest rates soared.

If you have a second mortgage or a HELOC get rid of it.  Refinancing your home may be a good option, especially with the current interest rates so low.  Make sure when you refinance, however, that you are doing so with a fixed interest rate and not an adjustable rate.  Finance for the shortest duration possible or plan for early payoff.

When I bought my house I personally took out a 30 year fixed rate mortgage, just in case.  I wanted the option of a low house payment in case I was ever laid off from work or had to take a lower paying job.  This actually did happen to me once and I was off work for ten months.  I was grateful to be able to make my monthly house payment while on unemployment without worry.

If you decided to take out a 30 year mortgage plan to add to your monthly payment to reduce the overall length of your mortgage and pay it off sooner.  You will save yourself thousands of dollars in interest.  A simple way to pay off your mortgage early and really impact your savings is by using the power of compounding interest in your favor.  A simple math equation will get you started:

Take your house payment, divide it by 12 and add that amount to your monthly payment.  For example let’s assume your monthly mortgage payment is $800.

$800 ÷ 12 = $66.67 + $800 = $867 new monthly payment.

Round up to $870 for even greater impact to savings.  Round up again to $900 and you will be amazed at how that will play out on an amortization calculator.

You can increase your savings and shorten your mortgage even more by adding “balloon” payments periodically throughout the year.  Say every quarter you pay an additional $500 toward your principal or you put all of your tax refund toward it every year.

Make sure that when you pay your payment that you specify all the extra dollars are paid on your principal.  If you pay your mortgage online there is a place set up to do this.  If you pay by check you will want to specify this request on your payment coupon.

If you are unable to refinance to get rid of your second mortgage or HELOC then you need to work on it first and pay it off.  The same principals above will help you to accomplish this as well.  Sometimes these loans just need to be paid down so that you can then refinance. Depending on your situation sometimes it is in your best interest, no pun intended, to just pay off the loans you have and move on.

Weigh and measure all your options.  Whichever the case may be, it is always a good idea to pay it off sooner than later.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Roasted Lemon Pepper Chicken & Vegetables

One of our favorite Sunday dinners is easily a roast chicken dinner.  There are many ways to make a roast chicken, either whole or pieces, and they are all easy and delicious.  One of our favorites is Lemon Chicken.

I start by thoroughly washing a chicken and letting it dry a bit.  Meanwhile I cut up carrots, onions, celery and potatoes.  I find yellow or red potatoes more flavorful.  I coat a baking dish with non stick spray and arrange the vegetables in the pan.

After seasoning both sides of the chicken with lemon pepper I place the pieces on top of the vegetables.  I cover the dish with a sheet of foil and place in the oven for an hour at 350° for an hour before removing the foil and allowing it to bake another thirty minutes. 

The chicken falls off the bone and the juices flavor the roasted vegetables to perfection.  Leftovers reheat beautifully too.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Our Fun Day Out

After working our little fannies off getting our house in order I wanted to treat myself and my girls to a nice day of shopping and going to lunch.  I was inspired by my friend and fellow blogger over at Blessed Beyond Measure to do it sooner, rather than later.  Sometimes in the middle of a lot of hard work you need to take a day off and do something fun.  Saturday was our day to do exactly that.

Friday night I gave the girls their allowance along with an additional $5 bonus.  I told them it was because they had been working so hard and doing such a good job in helping me get things cleaned up and put away, plus they had helped me get the RV ready to sell and had been incredibly patient and resilient during the whole move in process.  I am very proud of them.

We started out Saturday morning checking out thrift stores looking for gifts, items for our house or whatever caught our fancy.  As it turned out there wasn't much that we found that was worth buying.  Not much tempted us to part with our hard earned cash.  So we went to lunch.

I had received a gob of coupons to area restaurants.  Normally I toss these in the recycle bin but last time I received them I decided to cut some of them out and put them in the glove compartment of our truck.  We went through them and decided to go to Burger King.  We ordered two Jumbo Jack meals complete with fries and a refillable drink for me and my oldest for $7.99.  The youngest ordered a 10 piece chicken nuggets for $3.  It came with fries.  It was more food than we could eat but quite enjoyable.  We left feeling pretty full and ready to tackle a few more thrift stores.

In the afternoon we took another break and stopped in to visit the mom of a friend of ours at the nursing home.  She loves it when the girls come to see her.  We stayed for about an hour and then headed off to check out more thrift stores.  At this point we still hadn't bought anything.

At the final store we went to I found a brand new Belgian waffle iron for $4.99.  I thought it would be nice to have so we could make more waffles in a shorter amount of time and we could eat together instead of in shifts as we often do so everyone gets a hot waffle.  We tried it out on Sunday and I really was nice.

As we were leaving the store my daughter was checking out the bargain table set up outside.  The sign said "Fill A Bag For $1".  We rummage around in all the stuff and my daughter picked up a purse to move and I recognized it as a Kate Spade.  It was in wonderful condition except that it appeared to have had something spilled all over it.  I checked it out and inside was a matching wallet in equal condition.  My thought was for $1 I could risk it and see if I could clean it.  We grabbed a bag and stuck it inside.

We also found a freezer container, three votive candle holders, a laundry sign we felt we could makeover, a wooden matte for a picture frame, a cute little wicker basket and a decorative hook that I thought would be nice in our garden or on our porch to hang a flower basket on next spring.

After that bonanza we headed back toward home and stopped for gas before heading over to A & W for a root beer float.  I used a coupon that got us three medium sized floats for 99¢ each.  We also used another coupon to get an order of fried cheese curds for $1.99.  They were really yummy.

On the way home we stopped at ShopKo to get a few things that were on sale in their flyer and use one of the $10 coupons I was given at my last visit.  I treated myself to the cutest long sleeved top on sale for $7.88 regularly $19.99.  We found flip flops on clearance for $1.59 a pair so the girls each picked out two pair to put up until next spring.  I bought two of their basic pillows on sale for $2.88 each to use with my new pillow shams for my bed.  I also wanted to get a rug for the downstairs bathroom.  I found a nice one on sale for $15.  I wanted a good quality one that won't fall apart after a few washings.  It is also super soft on bare footsies.  I picked up a bag of cat food on sale and used a $1 coupon.  I also grabbed another bag of Milky Ways off the clearance shelf for my new pumpkin jar. 

We finished off our day by going home and making up a veggie plate with dip.  Healthy snacks to counter our junk food lunch and afternoon snack.  After putting away our new purchases we settled in to munch and watch a marathon of How I Met Your Mother on our Roku.  It was the perfect way to end our day.
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