Friday, May 29, 2015

New (To Me) Porch Chair

Thanks to Tania at Little Vintage Cottage I had this idea in my head of a chair I wanted to put on my front porch.  She'd inspired me to do this project and add a little whimsy to our humble abode.  Not too big, our porch is rather small, but a nice inviting place to sit in and admire our hard work, transforming our lovely little yard, from time to time.

So a couple of weeks ago when I stopped into a thrift store and found this lone sturdy oak kitchen chair for $7.99 I knew it would be perfect for what I had envisioned.  My youngest was with me at the time and the look on her face when I got all excited about this chair told me she really thought I'd just lost another one of my marbles.  In spite of her reservations we left the store with it and I was tickled.

I finally got a chance to work on it last week in between rainstorms.  I grabbed a can of gloss black interior/exterior spray paint I bought for $1.99 and my handy dandy well used dollar store shower curtain and got to work.  First I used my power sander and some sandpaper to remove the finish.  It was the original finish and came off pretty easily.  I took the paper off the sander and used it to sand the spots by hand I couldn't reach with the tool.

Glamour shot!
I only had about a 20 minute window of sunshine to work in
with black clouds on the horizon.
I vacuumed it clean and then wiped it all down with a damp cloth.  On the drop cloth I painted the bottom side first.  Then set it upright and painted the rest.  Once dry to the touch I put it in the garage and let it sit and dry thoroughly for 24 hours.

The next day, while it rained once again, I sat in the garage and stapled a new seat covering to it.  I decided to use a fun print vinyl table cloth I found on sale at Fred Meyer for $2.99 to cover it so it would be more moisture resistant.  I have plenty of fabric left to recover it later down the road when it wears out too.

Next project is to find a cute little side table to set next to it.  

Thanks Tania for the inspiration! I think it turned out pretty cute.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

KIS - Dishes & Glassware

I have enough dishes in here to serve 16 people dinner.

I keep our everyday dishes and glassware pretty simple.  I have a small kitchen and limited cabinet space so there isn't a lot of room to keep a ton dishware.  I literally have one cabinet in my kitchen for storing the majority of our dishes.

I happen to have a real affinity for Corelle and Pyrex.  In fact, I collect vintage Pyrex and I use it too.  For our everyday dishes I decided several years ago to go with the basic frost white Corelle.  I started out buying a box of four place settings - dinner plate, bread plate, bowl and coffee mug.  A few months later I bought a second box so I'd have eight place settings, enough for entertaining.

I've added eight of the square lunch sized plates, a serving platter, a serving bowl and a few other side pieces over the years as I find them on sale.  Corelle is lightweight, durable and stacks together nicely so that I can store a lot of dishes in a small space.

You can get these on Amazon too.

Our everyday glassware is pretty basic and simple as well.  Eight drinking glasses, eight wine glasses and eight beer glasses.  I bought them all at the dollar store in batches.  They are all restaurant quality and I like that they are a thicker, more durable glass.  Our beer glasses pull double duty for floats, Italian sodas and milkshakes too.

A glass rack under our cabinet stores our wine glasses and I keep the beer glasses on a shelf in the dining room.  I also keep a few acrylic and plastic tumblers handy for picnics and outdoor use.

All of my colorful cloth napkins never clash.

I really like that I can change up our table settings with different colored placemats, tablecloths and cloth napkins using our plain dishes.  They also work well with our special dishes we brought back from China and the colored Corelle and Pyrex pieces I've collected.  I virtually have not limits when it comes to setting a decorative table.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Grocery Budget Update - May

My big stock up item was boneless skinless chicken breast and I got that on sale at Albertson's for $1.66 a pound.  I ended up buying twenty pounds, dividing it up into portions sized for our family and freezing them.

Our nonfood items came in a bit over at $28.59 as I stocked up on cat food, laundry detergent and tissues that were on sale at super low prices.  I also used coupons on the detergent which save me an extra $2.00.

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



Fish fillets

Lemon juice

Dollar Store
Pepperoni (2)

Dollar Store
Bagels (2)

Butter (4)

Store Coupon

Store Coupon
Eggs - 1 doz. (2)


Eggs - 1 doz.

Store Coupon
Cheese - 5#

Chicken breasts - 20#

Milk - 1 gal. (2)

Store Coupon
Gelatin (3)

Lettuce (2)

Mixed veg.


Hotdog buns

Hamburger buns

Tortillas (6)

Cereal bars (2)

Store Coupon


Cole slaw mix (2)




Garlic bulb





Carrots - 2#


Cereal (2)

Milk - 1 gal. (2)

Store Coupon

Store Coupon/Coupon
Strawberries (2)

Store Promotion Coupon

Store Coupon
Butter (3)

Store Coupon
Cereal (2)

Cereal (2)



 $  114.65

$114.65 ÷ 31 days ÷3 people = $1.23 per person per day!

$4.00!!  About a year supply for us!

How did you save money on groceries this month?  Were you able to find some good sales and stock up on anything?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

I was blessed with a nasty and tenacious migraine that dogged me throughout the week alternating between both sides of my head so my thrifty moves were pretty much hit and miss.  I got a brief reprieve on Wednesday and then it was back with a vengeance on Thursday.  It's gone now, thankfully.  Do any of you get migraines?  If so, I totally feel for you.  No fun!

It rained every single day last week so I didn't have to water anything except the pots on the porch.

A friend of mine gave me a nice stack of coupons she saved for me out of her Sunday paper.

I went to the feed store and picked up a 50# bag of layer pellets for the chickens.

I kept grocery shopping to a minimum.  My goal was to pay rock bottom prices for everything I bought and only get what I needed.  We were out of mayonnaise and on our last jar so it was perfect timing that both Fred Meyer and Albertson's had it on sale.  I had three 50¢ coupons too so I bought three jars.  I also bought two bottles of salad dressing for 99¢ each, hotdogs for 99¢, buns for 88¢, a gallon of milk $1.99, a container of sour cream $1.25 less a 40¢ coupon, a container of parmesan for $1.99 less a 40¢ coupon and three boxes of Popsicle treats on sale for 10/$10 and I had a coupon for $3.00 off three which made them free.

Sunday I had ordered the dresser for my bedroom off of eBay with free shipping.  Our final piece of furniture! It arrived on Thursday and my girls helped me get it put together and set it in place.  Saturday morning I emptied out the plastic bins and filled it up with all of my fabrics.

I brought some shelves and brackets in from the garage and reinstalled them on the wall above my sewing table.  I'll post more about this project a little later.

The girls and I watched several Martin Yan chinese cooking shows on Youtube for free.  We also watched two movies on Amazon with our Prime membership.

I cleared out the older veggies in our crisper drawer and ended up making our own version of Mongolian BBQ.  It was really good.

I composted coffee grounds, tea bags, eggs shells and onions skins.  We fed our kitchen scraps to the chickens.

While pulling weeds I picked dandelion greens and gave them to the chickens.

I worked a little bit on the baby afghan.

How thrifty were you last week?

Friday, May 22, 2015

Kathryn Albertson Park

One thing Boise boasts is some pretty spectacular parks.  On Sunday we got a break in the weather so we headed out for some fresh air and exercise to Kathryn Albertson Park.  It is a wildlife preserve with winding paths and plenty to see and experience.  While there we were treated to dozens of varieties of birds, ducks, geese, fish, water turtles, deer and even a couple of snakes.  I totally could have done without the snakes.

Look turkeys!  Just kidding.

The water is a little murky from all the rain we've been having.

See the deer?

Look at the baby!

It was a gorgeous day.

World's largest Ponderosa pine

Water turtles.

12 babies!

And then we met up with the large goose family again as we were leaving.
Just as we were wrapping it up the raindrops began to fall once again.  Perfect timing.

I can't tell you how nice it was to get outdoors and just wander for awhile.  Lots of fresh air.  The views were spectacular and it is so much fun to get to commune with nature a little bit.  Those goslings are so stinking cute too.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

KIS - Laundry

There is nothing too terribly exciting about doing laundry, but I actually enjoy doing it.  My goal is always to do it as simply, efficiently and inexpensively as possible.  I even tried making my own laundry detergent at one time but found our clothing wasn't getting as clean as I liked and they had begun to develop an odor.  Not cool.

A few years ago when our mismatched washer and dryer gave up the ghost I splurged and purchased a front loading high efficiency matched set from Home Depot.  I had saved up for them in anticipation of ours getting older but when I was offered 12 months no interest I went that route and just incorporated the payments into our monthly budget and kept our savings intact.

I find with these units I am able to get our laundry done much easier and faster.  We use less water doing our laundry and the dryer works faster as well because the washer does a fabulous job extracting water in the final spin cycle.  I also use less laundry soap which has made continuing to purchase our detergent more affordable.

As a family of three we can usually get by quite well washing two loads on Sunday and a midweek load on Wednesday evening.  The washer holds a lot of clothes and the dryer as well.  The girls help with the folding and I am quick to get the clothes out of the dryer right away to avoid wrinkles.  I hate to iron.

I've lately been toying with the idea of tinkering with my homemade laundry detergent recipe to see if I can make it better.  I've also thought about using both homemade and store bought and alternating them to see if I have better results.  Lately, with sales prices and coupons, I've managed to buy detergent so inexpensively that I don't know if it would be cost effective or not and therefore worth the effort.

I currently use liquid detergent, liquid fabric softener as well as dryer sheets, occasionally bleach and Spray & Wash when needed.  I always buy my supplies on sale and with coupons whenever I can.  I buy the dryer sheets at the dollar store.  When the weather is nice we like to hang our things outside as often as possible so I use the liquid fabric softener the most.  I also reuse my dryer sheets and find I can get two to three loads dry per sheet which is great because in the winter I use both liquid fabric softener and the dryer sheets to control static.

One huge thing that has helped us tremendously in simplifying our laundry process is that we own so much less stuff that needs to be laundered.  Fewer clothes, less bedding, less to wash.  It really is that simple.  Love it!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Another Healthier Cookie Recipe - Chocolate Walnut Cookies

I've added this cookie to my repertoire of healthier cookies.  Lightly sweet and delicious.

Chocolate Walnut Cookies

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp molasses
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup baking cocoa
1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour

Cream together butter and shortening.  Add sugar and molasses and combine well.  Add eggs, vanilla, soda and salt.  Stir until thoroughly blended.  Add walnuts and stir.  Add flours and work until it forms a stiff dough.  Roll dough into 1 inch balls and place on lightly oiled baking sheet.  Flatten each ball with the flat bottom of a glass.  Bake at 350° about 7 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before transferring cookies to a cooling rack.  Store in an airtight container.  Makes approximately 3 1/2 dozen cookies.

My youngest loves these.  Needless to say, they didn't last very long.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Our Little Urban Homestead Is Taking Shape

I am getting super excited and hopeful.  It appears that our hard work is beginning to show that all of our efforts have not been in vain.  For one thing our little patch of lawn is a lawn once again.  After several days cleaning up the yard in February you may recall that we had raked and prepared all of the dead spots (there was more dead than alive) and then we all three hand sprinkled grass seed and covered it with pine shavings.  Our hope was to get an early enough start to take advantage of the spring rains and cooler temperatures and improve our chances of success.  The dead spots we worked on are now filled with grass and it looks lovely.  I bought more grass seed a couple weeks ago and we are working on stage 2 which is the other side of the lawn.  It isn't as bad as the part we've already worked on.

This is what we started with.

We have also been working on cleaning up the overgrown weed infested flowerbeds and have been delighted to see that some of our perennials have come back to us this spring.  In the fall we weren't certain what had survived and what hadn't.  I bought annuals to fill in the gaps as well as a couple of new hostas to add in.  The girls got me some pinks and carnations for Mother's Day.

This is the first flowerbed we did.

Our poor backyard and deck was pretty much the landfill.  Our tenants had used it to store trash, not sure why since I paid for trash service.  Unfortunately we weren't able to get to the backyard before the first snowfall so that mess wintered over.  An early spring allowed us to finally get back there and over a period of two weeks we worked diligently to get it all cleaned up back there, make repairs and by the end of March we were able to get some semblance of order in place.

At the end of February we also brought home four chicks and despite a rough start and the addition of two new chicks we have now established a flock of hens.  They lived in the house with us for two months and then we moved them into the coop at the first of May.  They love it out there and are a happy flock of birds.  Within the next few months we should see some egg production.

We planted our raised garden beds.  In March we used compost to amend all of the soil.  In April we planted strawberry starts I ordered from a strawberry farm in Oregon.  I ordered 10 starts, they sent 12, our naughty squirreled stole one and hopped over the fence with it and the remaining 11 took just fine and are growing well.  We even have a few strawberries already.  I'll fill in the 12th spot once we produce a jumper.


We started tomatoes and cucumbers from seed and transplanted them into the garden.  We've also planted carrots, beets, radishes, spring onions, bell peppers and jalapeno peppers, yellow squash, watermelon, cantaloupe and sugar pumpkins.  We still plan to clear more space and plant more seeds.  The peppers we bought as plants from the feed store and we already have two peppers growing on them.  The radishes, beets, and onions are coming up as well.

We added a lettuce bed in front of one of the raised beds and planted two rows of seeds which are already coming up.  We hope to keep us and our chickens in lettuce throughout the summer.  I also want to plant an herb garden.

At the end of April I bought blueberry bushes and a pot of raspberry starts which I was able to divide into three separate plants.  I'm not sure I'm happy with where I've put them so I'll probably be moving them.  I planted the two blueberry bushes on each side of the step leading up to the deck.  They are happy with their new location and so am I.  They are already producing berries.

Blueberry bush

Our fruit trees have been sprayed with organic pesticide in hopes of keeping them bug free this year.  Our pear tree is loaded with fruit.  Our apple tree, which was not healthy, received a big pruning a couple years ago in an attempt to save it.  It looks really good this year and we have apples on it now.  If we can keep the pests and squirrels at bay we may just get some fruit this year.


There is still work to be done, but the three of us girls are certainly up for it.  And the excitement of seeing food growing just adds to our momentum.  There is a great sense of satisfaction in a little sustainability.

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