Friday, August 30, 2019

Wrapping Up A Thrifty August

Oh my goodness, what a month!  Where to even begin?  When August began I wasn't too sure how things would go, but I have to say I'm pretty impressed with how things ended up.  I'm always amazed at what can be done when you set your mind to it.  We have, or had, loads of projects needing to be completed around this house and not a lot of time or money to get any of them done.

I didn't need to drive much, other than my short commute to work each day.  I began the month with a half tank of gas in my car and didn't need to fuel up for three weeks.  I had $35 in my checking account, some cash in my wallet and plenty of food in the fridge, pantry and freezer.  A very good way to get things started off.  On the payday I paid all of our monthly expenses and added to my savings and retirement accounts.  Then with my next paycheck I paid our mortgage two weeks early and added some more to my savings and retirement accounts.

I knew it might be a tight month as school would be starting up again and high school registration was looming.  Yearbooks and activity cards are true budget busters, but I had been working some overtime so I had the money to cover it this year without it coming from our regular budget.  We had gone through both of my daughter's clothes and shoes finding they both had more than enough.  Our school supply bin was stuffed and both girls have backpacks and lunch bags that are still in very good shape so we were well covered there too.

I had two big home improvement projects to do this summer which I managed to do with virtually no budget at all.  The first one was to renovate the master bedroom and the second one was our main bathroom.  Amazingly, we managed both of those in record time and by using gift cards I'd saved up to pay for all the supplies we needed.  I bought new carpet for the bedroom and decided to put it on my PayPal account as I get six months with no interest.  I've already made the first payment early so I'll be a payment ahead each month.  Paying it off in six months should be totally doable.

We were able to do a much needed bonus project as well, which was a complete surprise and a lot of hard work, but so worth it.  In one weekend we managed to procure most of the wood we needed to renovate our garage and add some much needed storage.  A post on that will be coming, but we got 90% of the wood from the FREE WOOD bin near my work and then I used the tail end of a gift card plus $10 cash to buy six 2" X 4"s to complete the job.  My neighbor lent me his ladder too so no need to purchase or rent one.  I'm excited to share this project with you next month.

I have one more project ahead which is to renovate the upstairs hallway and replace all of our doors with new ones.  We are hoping to knock that one out over Labor Day weekend and I'm super excited about that.  We've been without doors upstairs for a few weeks now.  Good thing for us we are all girls and we haven't had any company come to stay.

A super thrifty, super productive month, to be sure.  Yes, I'm a little bit tired from it all, but so very happy with all that we were able to accomplish and for as little money spent.  August far exceeded my expectations.  It was an amazing month for us.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Another Small Home Improvement Project - Main Bathroom Paint, Trim & Wainscoting

This forty year old bathroom got a complete makeover back in 1995.  New tile tub surround, new floor, new paint and a new countertop.  A few years later I got up the nerve and painted the vanity nautical blue.  Over the years I've decorated with various colors of towels, shower curtains and rugs as well as all kinds of knick knacky sorts of things.

One big blank wall

Some holes to fill

A couple nail pops to address

I've long dreamed of adding more architectural details in this bathroom just like I've done in most of the other rooms in our home.  Adding trim just seems to make a world of difference by taking the plain and ordinary to something much more.  The simple addition of some trim makes our home look richer and more expensive.  It is one of those details that really transforms a space.

Taking my time to make sure my measurements are correct

These girls learned how to install trim

The bathroom was pretty much a blank slate.  The bathroom door and door jamb was the only demolition required in here.  Once that mess was cleaned up I got busy and put up some trim along the ceiling.  I love the decorative trim pieces in the corners so those were added in here as well.

Trim is installed

Wainscoting going up

Install completed

We had most of a roll of beadboard wallpaper leftover from our entry way renovation and even though we used it to update our dining room, which looks amazing, we still had quite a bit left.  It was the perfect amount to add a wainscot wall to our bathroom.  I also had enough trim in the garage for the chair rail.  So we put it up!  And wow!

And then we caulk

For a flawless finish

Caulk fills in any gaps or unevenness along the ceiling and walls

The wainscotting really changed the look of this one big blank wall we had in there giving it a whole new look and adding interest.  This room has always been kind of cool and boring.  Now it seems much warmer and there is plenty for the eye to take in without it being too busy in there.

And then we paint

And paint

And paint some more

I stuck with my usual Pure White semi gloss paint by Behr.  We discussed colors, looked at colors, but at the end of the day decided that because the room isn't overly large we'd stick with white and decorate to add color.  Leaving it white does keep it open and bright, especially as there are no windows in here for any natural light, and it keeps our options wide open for adding color with decor.

Taking a break between tasks

All done!  Phew!  We made it!

The vanity turned out beautifully!

The vanity adds a nice warmth to the room too, so not a complete oasis of white.  I think the paint colors we chose all tie together nicely with each other.  Now I get to put it all back together and that part is super exciting!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Back-To-School Meal Prep

With it being just the two of us meal prepping is on a much smaller scale now.  And I'm finding we have more leftovers from supper to use the next day in our lunches.  So this week when we meal prepped it was really quick and simple.

I started out by making a big pot of chili without the beans and let it simmer for a couple hours.  We had it in mind for suppers and lunches for the week ahead.  Because it was such a big batch I put some into a four cup freezer container and froze it for use later on.

After filling a few small containers with serving sizes of almonds for both of us to pack in our lunches, my daughter pulled off all the grapes and gave them a good rinse along with a pound of strawberries.  We packed grapes and cut strawberries into small containers.

Although my daughter is primarily Keto we decided that if she is going to deviate from that it will be at lunchtime.  Because of this a couple turkey sandwiches, some crackers and a few granola bars were on the menu for her.  That is completely okay.  Most of what she is packing is very healthy.

My lunches were mostly made up of leftovers, however I did make up a beautiful Curry Chicken Salad to enjoy throughout the week.  I love this salad and it has been a while since I last made it.

Every evening we put leftovers into a microwave safe container, I prefer to use glass Pyrex bowls with the lids, and have it ready to go for in the morning.  Morning lunch prep is super easy and all we need to do is grab what we want and tuck it into our lunch box or bag and fill up the water bottle.  With ten minutes we are done with that daily task.

On other weeks I plan to make up small containers with cubed cheeses, pepperoni, nuts and seeds, yogurt, cottage cheese, olives and things like that.  I'll periodically post from time to time to share what we are doing and hopefully give you some inspiration.  I'm always looking for good ideas too so if you have some please feel free to share.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Off To College!

Well, we did it!  The oldest one is officially off to college!  I took this past Friday off from work and early that morning we got up and loaded the last of her things, then made the drive over to the campus.  I have to tell you, we had a great day!!

Most of what she ended up taking fit inside her car.  A couple boxes ended up in mine.  Once we arrived we checked in and drove over to the dorms where we were greeted by alumni members that had come to help.  Everyone was so welcoming as they helped us grab stuff and invited us right on in.  They had a donut and coffee station set up, but we were too excited to see her room and meet her roommate so we got right to it.

We couldn't have asked for a better day.  The weather was perfect!

Her RA (resident assistant) checked us in, gave her a key and showed us her room.  No sign of a roommate yet, so my daughter had first dibs on bed and furniture.  She chose the end of the room and we got to work moving her desk, dresser and closet into position.  We went through several reconfigurations before all was said and done, but I think she came up with a great setup that allows for privacy but is still open enough so the wall won't feel as if they are closing in.

Another trip down to the car and we pretty much had all of her clothes and toiletries unloaded.  Then on our third trip we were greeted by three members of the football team offering to help carry stuff and I couldn't have been any happier about that, believe me.

These are the people who will keep my girl safe.  Amazing group of individuals.

The fed us lunch and had cookie and coffee stations set up all over campus.  We took a break from unpacking to get some food and then over to the campus safety building for her student ID and to get a parking pass.  Next was to the campus store where I treated her to a school windbreaker and a long sleeved T-shirt.  Lastly, we headed over to get her mailbox assigned and get her key.  Then back to the dorm to unpack some more, tweak the room again and find out her assigned roommate had decided to go to school elsewhere.  So for now my daughter has the room to herself, but that is most likely to change in the next couple of weeks.

By 2:00 we had orientation, at 3:00 parents split off from the students and orientation continued for another hour.  Then there was a parent's happy hour, but I skipped that to help my daughter finish unpacking before we headed off to dinner.

Look at this happy girl!

All day long we felt a true sense of wellbeing and as if we were being taken care of.  So many people on hand to help out and reassure us as we navigated throughout our day and super, super friendly.  Everyone we met was so nice and seemed so happy.  I know she is in a great place and I couldn't be more pleased.

We had the option of the dining hall on campus, however knowing my daughter would be eating there on a daily basis we opted to go to a restaurant instead.  Along the way we stopped at Dollar Tree for a few supplies and at a thrift store to see if they had a bathrobe for her.  As it turned out we found one, brand new with the tags still on it, in her size and favorite color.  She stated it was meant to be and we bought it.

Oh my gosh!  These fajitas were so good!!

I took her to one of my favorite restaurants in the area and we shared a HUGE fajita platter.  It was a fantastic meal and the service was topnotch.  We left the restaurant feeling stuffed and well cared for.  On the way back I drove her around the little town and showed her all of the places she would find helpful, including an urgent care center as well as Wal-Mart.  The grocery store is literally across the street from her dorm which will be super handy for her.

She has it fixed up super cute.  In the opposite corner is her desk.

returned her to her dorm and helped her carry up the items we had purchased at Dollar Tree and the thrift store as well as her leftovers from dinner.  Then it was time.  I told her I loved her a lot and gave her a giant hug.  Then I got out of there before either one of us had a chance to tear up.  I had a lot of fun that day and it was truly a special time for us.  She is going to do so well at college and she is surrounded by a lot of good people to make sure she does.  I couldn't be happier for her.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

Sunday morning I got my chores done and then was right back into project mode most of the day.  So much to do and not a lot of time left in which to get everything done, but we are making progress and I'm pretty darn happy about that.

Monday was the first day of school (sniff) and we are back to it with practices and activities (groan).  It will be another full and busy school year for us, no doubt about that.  That evening we had friends stop by to check out all the things we've been doing at the house with our master bedroom and the main bathroom.  After they left I went outside and finished up the very last of another big project we did over the weekend.  I'll be posting about that one later on, however.  I think it will be worth the wait.

Tuesday evening I went home and didn't do a whole lot other than to fix supper.  I pretty much took the evening off and it felt pretty nice, I must say.  It has been a steady marathon of projects around here.

Wednesday evening we set out a very full trash can along with one of our regular trash cans with an overflow sticker on it at the curb for collection.  We also set out a very full recycle bin right next to it.  With all of the various things going on around here lately I've actually had some trash to set out each week and we've recycled quite a bit too.

Thursday we packed up the girl to head off to college.  Some more of our friends stopped by to wish her well and see all the changes going on at our house.  We had a really nice visit.

I took Friday off and we were up before the chickens and getting ready to go.  It sure is going to be different around here without her here.  Much quieter as she is my bubbly chatty girl.  The young one and I will have some adjusting to do, but she is close enough to visit often so that will be nice.  I'll talk more about our day tomorrow.

Saturday my day get caught up a bit around the house, do some grocery shopping and come up with a meal plan for the busy week ahead.  I went to Fred Meyer for groceries and used up a gob of coupons I had acquired pairing as many as I could with items on sale.

I stocked up on meat for our freezer too while I was at it.  I got it all divided into meal size portions for the freezer.  I left the 3# ground beef packages whole to use for meal prepping later down the road.

I worked a couple hours of overtime last week.

I picked up eight brand new skeins of Red Heart yarn at a thrift store for only 99¢ each!  Yay!

Stocked up on meat for the chest freezer

We washed out several Ziploc bags to reuse.  

The hens enjoyed our kitchen scraps and some leftovers.

Fred Meyer freebies!

Some of the 15 Minute Chores I accomplished to keep my home in order:

Laundry Room & Half Bathroom - cleaned sink & toilet, vacuumed floor, cleaned washer & dryer.  Daily swish & swipe.

Dining Room - vacuumed floor, dusted windowsill & chair rail.

Kitchen -  vacuumed & spot mopped floor, cleaned cabinet fronts above the stove & fridge, cleaned range hood & filter, cleaned top of refrigerator.

Bedrooms & Main Bathroom - vacuumed & dusted.  I cleaned the tub & sink, vacuumed floor, my youngest cleaned the toilet.  Daily swish & swipe.

Other - two loads of laundry, moved furniture to vacuum underneath, vacuumed & dusted living room, hallway & entry, cleaned baseboards.  Swept front porch & garage.

How was your thrifty week?

Friday, August 23, 2019

Another Small Home Improvement Project - Main Bathroom Vanity

Our forty year old bathroom vanity was very much in need of a total makeover.  Some would argue a total replacement, but I could see some potential still left in her.  The vanity itself is still strong and sturdy.  It just lacked some luster and was showing the signs of daily wear and tear.

The finish was worn and these brass knobs had to go

Too much crap!

Although the vanity was clean underneath, the wood had some staining and looked pretty yucky.  The bare wood is also difficult to clean and keep clean so I opted to give it the same treatment I gave our kitchen sink cabinet.  We cleared everything out and I got right to work.

Removing the drawers, doors and hardware

Sorry this is so blurry, but you get the jist
Not sure what that stain is from, it has been here as long as we have

All of the drawer fronts and the cabinet doors were removed.  After a light sanding I washed everything inside and out.  Once that was dry I taped it all off along the walls and the countertop.  Then I used a sponge brush and some paint I had leftover from the downstairs bathroom vanity makeover and gave it two good coats of paint.  I can't believe this paint sample was enough to completely paint both of our vanities.
I can't believe how much this little sample of paint covered

Vinyl peel & stick floor tiles for the base of the vanity

First one in and already an improvement

This looks great!
The difference is like night & day

The inside of the vanity, other than the floor of it, was in really good shape.  I had already cleaned it so the next thing to do was to use vinyl peel & stick floor tiles and cover the bottom of the vanity.  The ones I chose matched the paint nicely and really made it look so much better under there.  Not to mention, it will be so much easier to keep it clean as well.

Time to clean these out!

All clean and ready for some Howard's

The finish was pretty much nil here

The drawers were looking pretty ratty and the finish inside them was rather worn.  I scrubbed them clean and then used some of my Howard's Restor-A-Finish and a piece of fine steel wool to give them a once over.  I wasn't sure if it would work, but it did!  I was able to put a nice finish back onto the drawers, inside and out, and minimize the worn spots as well.  I'm extremely happy with how they turned out.

The one on the left is before
The one on the right is after!

Once again Howard's did not disappoint
These drawers turned out amazing

With everything nice and dry I added new knobs to the drawer fronts and reattached them to the drawers.  I added new knobs to the cabinet doors as well.  The hinges got a bath and allowed to dry overnight before I got after them with some Rustoleum Metallic Aluminum spray paint.

I splurged at Dollar tree on a roll of shelf liner
and a couple drawer organizers to keep things nice

New knobs!  Love!

I didn't want to risk the drawers and cabinet doors sticking to the face frame of the vanity so I allowed the paint to cure a good 48 hours before I reassembled everything.  Much as I wanted to hurry and put it all back together and re-organize our things I patiently waited.  Nothing is more upsetting then to work really hard on something and then ruin it because you got impatient.
Doors back on with their "new" hinges

Not to worry though because while I was waiting for the paint on the vanity to cure I was able to get other things done in there as well.  Plenty of things to keep me busy.  No need to just sit and watch paint dry!

This mama is soooo happy with this makeover!

Even the sides of the drawers are pretty with their new finish

The vanity looks amazing, if I do say so myself.  It matches the one in our downstairs bathroom so we have a nice cohesive look going on.  I'm excited to share the rest of our bathroom renovations with you so be sure to check back.  Those details and the big reveal are coming up soon!

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