Category Archives: Saving Money

thriving in my thrifty week–february 10, 2019

We enjoyed watching the birds this week during the snowy days we were excited to experience. Rob’s been putting bird seed out for them each day, and lots of them are coming to the bird feeder and the deck outside our dining room window.

Because we rarely get snow, we love looking at it. The kids had no school on Tuesday, then it all melted. There were a few snow showers during the week on various days, and this morning, Sunday, all services at church was delayed until 11 to let what fell last night melt off. It had frozen into ice on the roads. It’s all supposed to be back to rain tomorrow.

Rob made sure everything was weather-proofed.

Jake and Rob took the time to watch Star Wars.

I have been working on a baby quilt for Rob’s nephew’s upcoming baby. I was able to use some fabric I’ve had for a long time, and bought the rest of what I needed to finish. I’m almost done.

While I was at the quilt shop getting the batting and backing, they were having a Shop Hop event. So I was given a kit for a 6″ block and given a list of other quilt shops I could visit and get other 6″block kits. I went to the 2 other ones that were near by, but am not sure if I will have the time to visit any of the others, as they are not in our town. Still, I’m excited to get back into quilting, as I’ve taken a long break from it. In fact, I’m rusty and had to rip out a lot, but the project is looking good now. I just finished machine quilting it, which saved me quite a bit of money from having it done by someone. However, I’m really rusty on that–Jake’s blanket was the last one I did–and that was 11 years ago. Now I need to figure out the binding. Maybe I’ll have pictures in a few days:).

How did your week go? Are you getting any projects done during this winter weather?

thriving in my thrifty week–february 3, 2019

Rob was able to scrounge up a barrel, and box and a bin full of nice wood scraps, perfect for starting fires in the morning. There are wood places in town that give away scraps, and he was fortunate one day in finding these great ones. We are happily burning the wood our friends brought us last fall, and not running the furnace at all.

Rob did our taxes himself this year. He paid a bit through Turbo Tax, but it was way less expensive than what we usually pay our tax place to do them. One of the reasons this was possible was because our taxes were much less complicated than they have been before. We love our tax place, so this wasn’t an easy decision, but he thought he’d try and see how it went. It went well.

I’m working on this area. The camper could use more room. It’s parked on a concrete slab. When you put the step down, it is often balanced on the concrete edgers of the flowerbed and you have to walk on irises or mud when you want to go in. I want the steps to go down properly. Once I get the flowerbed removed, I’m going to put gravel down. Then, the step can go down and we won’t get muddy or wet when we go in the door. We use the camper fridge as an extra fridge, and the camper itself as a guest house, so we use it in-between trips.

I also wanted the dirt for another project. Rob built these 2 raised bed frames. I dug up an old rose, and chopped down a dying rhododendron, and we put the frames in place. I covered the bottom of the beds with cardboard I recycled from boxes to discourage weeds and grass from growing up into the new box. I covered the cardboard with the dirt. I will get most of the frames filled in with the old flowerbed dirt and will finish up with purchased bags of topsoil, saving me a bundle. We had a couple of nice days, and I worked when in could, in-between things. Before I stopped, I got both raised beds about 1/2 full, and only have about 10 feet left of the flowerbed to remove. I have to take a break for a few days, I think, as we are expecting some inclement weather, but I’ll get back to it soon. I plan to plant some herbs and strawberries in there this spring. The herbs will be close to the kitchen here, so easier to use. I’ll show pictures when I finish, but it will be a few weeks before I can plant anything.

Friends helped Rob move his last 2 pieces of shop equipment down to this house. It was HIGH time we got them from my brother-in-law and sister’s farm:). It is so encouraging that he was able to clean the shop enough that they will now fit in there. We are so thankful for the help and had a great visit with our friends. It was so great to get caught up with them. He’s got projects he wants to build and now he can!

I did lots of cooking. I went shopping and stocked up on some good deals for my pantry, and bought produce, as usual. I’ve noticed produce has taken quite a jump in price over the past few weeks, so I’ll continue relying on my preserved food quite a bit to supplement the fresh, but Rob will still be getting all the produce he wants.

I got some marked-down things at Fred Meyers. The best deal was candy coating (2 white chocolate and 2 chocolate) for 49c each. I am saving them for when I want to do some chocolate-dipped strawberries someday. I put them out in the shop. They should be safe there:). From me. And anyone else who might eat them:). For now!

Rob finally bought a pair of pants that are 4 inches smaller than he’s been wearing, at the Union Gospel Mission thrift store. He paid $10. They are already too big, but he will wear them for a while anyway. We will be searching for the next size down. He figures he doesn’t need many in each size, and would like to not spend any money on this project, but it’s getting ridiculous, folks, so I’m trying to convince him to buy at least a few things along the way! Hopefully, we will find some more thrift store finds.

They are threatening snow here in the morning. Time will tell if it materializes or not. That will affect my week if it does snow, as even an inch paralyzes our area. (I know, I know….don’t laugh too hard some of you!). But, we are snug in our little house, with lots of firewood and food, and library books to read….it doesn’t sound all bad!

It turned out to be a great week. How did your week go?

Thriving in my thrifty week–january 28, 2018

My most excellent bathroom cleaning team was at it again Saturday! Patsy, my daughter, had my nephew help her do her chore. I will mention that my nephew, Jake, and my niece, Michaela, were up earlier than Patsy and did their chores–he just wanted Patsy to play with him, so he helped her finish hers:). Doing chores at my house is part of their routine, I’m glad to say. We started that a couple of summers ago, and I’m so glad we did.

The kids spent from Thursday afternoon to Sunday morning with us, as their parents were out of town. We kept the weekend low-key, frugal, and most of all–fun! There was a special pirate exhibit at the library. Rob took Jake on Thursday after school, but they didn’t get to see it. I took him back Friday morning, because he really, really wanted to see it. The volunteer running it called in sick. So….Rob took him back Saturday morning and he got to go in for 20 minutes before that volunteer said it was the end of her shift. (We had been told it would be open from 10-5 on Saturday, so thought we were safe!). Hmmmmm. At least he got in at for a while. Each time, books, movies and books on DVD were checked out and returned. We still have quite a pile here, and I am now reading “Surprise Island” (a Boxcar Children book) to him. Rob took Michaela to her horse riding at Horses of Hope, her weekly Saturday outing. She had her training program on Friday, so he ferried her back and forth and she also enjoyed the library one of the times her brother went.

Rob’s actual birthday was Saturday. Yes, I know…It feels like we’ve been doing birthdays over and over. ‘Cause we have! With so many family members with January birthdays, we have celebrated many times. Jake was all over it! He and Michaela helped me make cupcakes in the morning. He cracked eggs and she measured and poured. Then, he helped put candles on, light them and helped blow them out. After dinner, he declared that he was going to play a game with Uncle because it was his birthday. So, they sat down to a game of chess. What a blessing those kids are to us!

To decorate the cupcakes, I used some frosting that I mixed up last weekend and hid in the back of the fridge because I knew I would be busy this weekend. I put sprinkles and sugar snowflakes on top that I got on after-Christmas sales. I immediately froze almost all of the cupcakes I made so as to not ruin Rob’s diet. That is also why he chose cupcakes–so the temptation of a huge cake would not be there. We had ice cream that had been out in the shop for literally months, but it was still good.

We cooked up a bunch of meat for the weekend for Rob and I, and fed eggs, eggs, eggs to Jake. (I have no idea why he suddenly wanted so many eggs, but I was delighted!) I had purchased English muffins and Danimals for Michaela so she was happy. Rob made pancakes and bacon one morning. We all ate very well for very little money, as I am still on my “use-it-up” project. I did the math, and I figure I have about $20 left of what I was willing to spend this month for groceries, and only a few days left in which to spend it, so we are going to make it easily. I’ve used a lot of things up, bought a lot of non-food items with the extra money, and suffered for nothing. I even squeezed in a few healthy snacks to give Rob on his actual birthday. (We bought him a used tool off of Craig’s list for his shop for his main gift). Some of the expensive things I got with my remaining grocery budget included melatonin tablets and tumeric capsules. I also bought shampoo, foil, waxed paper, and more. I’m delighted that I got all those things stocked up. I had gone over budget in December. I also made all that money up, and like I said, still have $20 left. I’m pretty happy with me right now:)

Rob’s pretty happy with himself, too, as he had lost another 10 pounds when he got weighed in on Monday. That’s 77 since last May. Go, Rob! He’s working on a list of ways that he has used to keep on track. When he gets it done, I’ll post it!

Today, after church, my sister and brother-in-law took us out to lunch. That was a super nice treat for us, and the icing on the birthday cake, so to speak, for Rob!

How did you save money this week?

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–January 20, 2019

This was a crazy week, even for us! After the formal dinner last Saturday night, and cooking for the college-agers on Tuesday night, we had a family gathering at our house yesterday for Rob’s family, and then a birthday party today at Family Sunday Dinner. Rob, Alissa and Jake all have January birthdays, so we have a small family party each year. We had a lot of fun and stayed frugal through it all!

Yesterday, I decorated simply, using some greenery from the yard and a few glittery snowflakes and ribbon purchased on the after-Christmas sales. Patsy made paper snowflakes and we put them under the plastic cover so they stayed put and looked nice.

People brought food. I made some as well. I made sweet and sour meatballs with rice, chicken soup, and cupcakes.

We served water, coffee and tea.

I got this great shot of Patsy and Rob’s mom, Grandma Dee-Dee, as the children call her. It was really good to have those relatives over. Sometimes, it gets way too long between visits.

Rob went and got Anthony and Allison, and they had a good time getting to see these relatives. It’s quite a lot of driving for Rob, but we like them to be included when they can come, so it’s worth it to us. (They live in separate group homes, about 30 minutes from us and each other–so it takes about 1 hour to 1-1/2 hours each way to do the rounds to get them and take them home, unless some of their staff can give them a partial ride.).

Rob’s sister brought us a lot of avocados that she was given by a neighbor. They are “duds” from his work where he sorts avocados as part of his job. They are thrown away if no one wants them, so he brings them to her and all the neighbors. I had at least 3x that many, and shared a bunch of them.

A lot of our canning from last summer became nice little gifts for Rob’s family.

Todays birthday party was nice, too! As you can see, Rob celebrated, but very minimally! We made it very simple, with hamburgers, potato salad, chips, salads and brownies and ice cream.

We did a few other things other than go to parties this week, believe it or not:). We cooked and cooked and cooked, for starters. I finally ran out of a bunch of grocery items, but was able to pull a lot of what we cooked from the pantry, freezers and canning cupboards.

For a while now, we’ve had a problem with our stove burner–it was on high heat all the time. We were able to get it fixed while still under warranty, which is up in early February.

I was able to get a tiny bit of yard work done–a rhododendron removed, some Coral Bell flowers moved, some chrysanthemums put in the ground, and so forth. It was rainy, but I was able to fill the yard debris bin and I’m setting the stage for some landscaping I want to do. I have some Al’s gift cards (a local garden center) and I have plans to spend them in the spring. Inside, my basil is sprouted on my windowsill.

I read half of a library book and made sure the things that were coming close to being due got returned or renewed.

I worked on my blog for hours. I’m trying to do one thing to it each day. Much of the things I’ve done are behind the scenes, such as add the “like” button, the WordPress “Follow” button, and an anti-spam plug-in. I just keep reading articles, sometimes over and over and over, but the new site is coming along.

I exercised at the YMCA on Thursday.

I took some clothes the girls had not wanted to a used clothing store and got 2 new-to-her tops for Patsy and $16. They didn’t want much of it, but hey, anything helps.

I hope your week went as well as mine did. Feel free to share in the comments below, and also let me know if anything is not working correctly on the new blog. Thanks!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week-January 13, 2018

This week was an interesting one. I did a couple of things that were out of the ordinary.

I went with my sister to visit our friend, Harnet. She has moved a little farther away from us, so we carpooled a lot of the way, saving me some gas. Even better, my sister and I got to visit for way longer than if we had driven separately. We had coffee, lunch, did errands, and visited. It was a fun day. It was on my normal shopping day, so I did not go to the grocery store. Danait wanted to wear all her gear and ride her bike, so my sister took her outside for a while to do that. Brrr…..they didn’t last long, but it was fun for them both while it did!

Rob made Jake “Almanzo” pancakes for breakfast this morning. Every since we read “The Long Winter” and Almanzo ate stacks of pancakes, Jake has been fascinated with the idea. Rob makes them small, only about 3 inches across, so he we can make a stack. Last night, we were helping with a youth event, and after Rob finished barbecuing, Jake had had enough of it all, and went home with “Unckie.”

The youth event was a formal dinner. A few weeks ago, the youth pastor asked my sister if she could make a dinner for the kids, with “real plates and courses.” Of course, my sister said she could, and roped us in. In the end, over 20 kids sat down and ate dinner at my sister’s house, in their fancy clothes (or not in a couple of cases–there were a couple in jeans, but still always welcome). Then, they went ice skating. I’m planning to do a post later in the week showing what we cooked, but here I’m going to highlight the money-saving things we did.

Rob cooked 4 things outside on a very large BBQ. He did 1 of the appetizers, the vegetables and the chicken and fish. That saved us a lot of commotion in the kitchen. He shopped around quite a bit for the best price on salmon. It varied greatly in price, according to where it was purchased. He finally found 2-lb bags for $7.99, an amazing deal.

We used between 120-150 glass plates. We were able to use hers, mine and borrow more until we had enough. (In addition to the over 20 youth, there were 12 adults and college age helpers that came for the actual event and we fed them, too, making it a crowd of around 35. Yikes!). I had some nice paper napkins someone had given me long ago that we used, and we took 24 sets of silverware over there. I bought that set years and years ago at Walmart and they are very lightly made, but they all match and I use them for large gatherings.

We tried to get the best prices on the food that we could. For instance, I got most of the cream cheese on sale over the Christmas holidays and picked up a few more boxes at Winco when I realized I had not purchased enough for the cheesecakes. Their brand was quite inexpensive–I’m not sure if they had leftover from the holidays, but I was happy to see that price! I used dipping chocolates we had on hand for the decorations and home-canned cherry pie filling for the topping.

As I mentioned before, I was so busy this week with the dinner, and was gone on my normal shopping day that I didn’t have a chance to go shopping, except early one morning to pick up just a very few items. This is helping me with my project of cleaning out the fridge and using some stockpile items. I’ll see how many days I can make it, but I’m pretty sure I may run out of some things this week. We’ll see! At this point, I really, really want to clean out that fridge–it needs a good wash very badly.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–January 7, 2018

Rob was able to get these clamps very inexpensively using a coupon from Ace Hardware combined with a sale. He was mailed the coupon because he has a birthday in the month of January. I think in the end, the price tag was about $5 for both.

Patsy took this picture on New Year’s Day. Its a view of the Willamette River, from my sister’s deck. She especially loved that she got the cat in there. I love how it shows how very frosty and cold that morning was! We get a lot of enjoyment from the river.

Today, at church, my aunt noticed a bin of potatoes and celery that were for people to take. She got me one of each, since she didn’t need them and I looked after second service and there were some left, so I grabbed another one of each. The potatoes need to be used quickly. How handy! I just finished turning the ones I had at home that were sprouting just like these into potato salad!

We had a family birthday party scheduled for today. Unfortunately, we had to cancel as the birthday boy (Jake) was sick. (The birthday young lady (Alissa) and the birthday man (Rob) were not, but they will have to patiently wait for the reschedule date!). Thankfully, we were able to parcel out the enormous bowl of potato salad amongst the relatives anyway!

Rob and Alissa have not missed one year of celebrating together in all of her 18 years. Of course, Jake joined in when he was a baby, sitting on a table at Chuck-E-Cheese in his carrier. What a birthday surprise that was for Rob and all of us! So many memories of birthday parties in many places with many themes……. One of the best was when my sister put on a “Beauty and the Beast” birthday party with all girly things and a princess at one end of the cake for Alissa and the Beast on the other end, for Rob. I can’t believe she’s 18! But, she is. It’s been amazing to see that little, cute, curly-headed blond baby become a strong, confident young lady in what felt like a blink of an eye.

One of my Christmas gifts was a little planter with some seeds to grow basil on the windowsill. There were extra seeds so I used the container that my Christmas poinsettia was in, filled with new potting soil. Since the flower died because I think it got too hot near the wood stove where it was, I was glad to repurpose the pot and use all the seeds up, and hopefully, I will have basil in 2 pots.

I’ve been sorting through my seeds and hope to get my order finished up soon. I have quite a few 1/2 packets left from last year.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–December 30, 2018

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We have been doing a lot of cleaning and reorganizing.  While doing so, we noticed that this dresser had drawers that were completely broken, so Rob repaired it.  We got this dresser years and years ago, for the first 2 girls we adopted, over 30 years ago.  It has been painted and repaired many times, and it’s now back in great condition once again.

We collected a few bags of torn wrapping paper from Christmas, and have been using it to start fires in the mornings, along with kindling that Rob cut from free scrap wood collected around town.  There are a few businesses around town that use wood to make products such as flooring and doors, and they put bins of free scrap wood out for anyone to take.  Sometimes he gets really nice scraps and uses them for cutting boards, and the rest we use to start fires.

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I made broth from the turkey bones from Christmas.  I froze most of it.

We were given a Christmas gift that enabled us to do a Costco run.  We didn’t choose what some would call exciting items–we got toilet paper, ziplocks, garbage bags, things such as that, but it was exciting to me to get those things stocked back up.  We got a few food items as well.  We also got a date out of it.  We dropped Patsy off at a youth event, went to Costco, and bought one of those yummy cooked chickens and one container of salad and ate our lunch in the car.

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Jake’s greens are growing!  (There is a Columbine flower coming up, as I used a pot that had that in there just in case the seeds didn’t sprout for him). He was under the weather today when he was here, and hasn’t looked at them lately, but I know he will be here next weekend and hopefully can see them then.  He was not himself, but was glad to snuggle on the couch under blankets and do the forbidden act of eating crackers on the couch while asking me 4-5 times to take his temperature with the thermometer.  I’m not sure why it fascinated him so much–he didn’t have a fever any of the numerous times we took it, but it did.  I kept him here for only part of the afternoon, just to keep his normal Sunday schedule, then sent him home.  Hopefully he will get over it quickly.

Patsy was able to do 2 more work projects with the youth group this week, and is well on her way to earning the money she needs for the retreat she wants to go on.

We helped prepare lunch for the teens today.  I made a large tossed salad, purchased 4 large sodas for 88c each on sale, and bought one large tub of ice cream.  I made hot fudge sauce with mint in it and got some clearance red and green M & M’s for toppers. My sister ordered pizza for the main dish.  It was very easy today.

As I mentioned last week, I had used my grocery budget up.  But, Rob ate all the salad stuff and a few other things were running low.  I decided to start in on January’s grocery money. I made a plan of what I thought I would use for the next 2 weeks, knowing full well I will need to grab lettuce at least weekly.  I had several things that helped me out.  1) There were several free items on my Safeway rewards that I needed to use before Dec. 31, so I got those–2 boxes of Safeway pasta, 1 dozen eggs, and $2 off a bakery item (I used it towards a package of  gf buns), and a bag of mini chocolate chips.  While I was there, I got 99c/1/2 gallon milk, cottage cheese, 99c sour cream and a few more items like 88c soda.  I also used a few Bottle Drop dollars to help out with that store’s haul.  2) I got a few Christmas clearance items at Fred Meyers, while getting produce: a package of Christmas cards at 75% off for next year, and the Christmas M and M’s.  3) I earned around $6 with Ibotta rebates.  4) When I stopped at Winco for the ice cream I’d forgotten I had promised to pick up for Patsy, I saw ham for 77c/lb.  I immediately grabbed the 2 allowed.

I spent a $10 JoAnn reward they sent me.  I also spent a little fun money I had.  I did not buy fabric, as I have plenty, but little odds and ends and some clearance Christmas paper.  I found one Star Wars print that had no Christmas markings at all for Jake’s upcoming birthday, some leopard print paper for Michaela sometime, and a few ribbons that went with those and the other rolls I picked up.  It was great that there were several selections that were not Christmas-y at all, and I will use them for birthdays.  What wasn’t inexpensive was the package of iron-on patches I bought to mend some of Patsy’s clothes, but hopefully they will work to fix the holes.

How is your week going?  Are you getting organized after the holiday and back to schedule?  I hope to during this upcoming week after a little more holiday fun:)

Thriving In My Thrifty Christmas Week–December 26, 2018

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Merry Christmas to everyone!  The post that usually goes up on Sunday?  I think I wrapped it on accident and put it under the tree:). Now that I have a moment to breathe, I thought I’d catch everyone up on our week before Christmas.

We spent a lot of time on Christmas this year, instead of a lot of money, so it was a mad whirl until the very end.  Despite the hustle and bustle we engaged in, there were plenty of times to just do fun things, relax and visit.  I’m very happy with how things ended up.

And, we stayed thrifty.

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A while back, I was given some super-cute Christmas sprinkles.  Jake used this entire jar up on his 2 projects.  He had so much fun, and took the wrapped Krispie treats to his teachers and bus drivers.  They loved them.

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We made lots of gifts.  Rob made gorgeous cutting boards for quite a few family members and friends.  This photo is in process, when he was treating them with oil so they would stay nice.  He made them all from reclaimed wood.

I sewed quite a few items.  We put together several photo gifts–some enlarged pictures, and a couple of photo albums.  We used coupon codes from Walgreens when we ordered the prints and went through Ibotta to get a few cents back.  One album was put together by Patsy for the cousins’ grandma who is visiting from Florida.  That way, she can have pictures of her far-away grandchildren all the time.  She loved it!

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Patsy and Rachel got matching hats.  When Patsy chose her new middle name, she chose 2 middle names.  Rachel is one of them.  She’s a pretty special cousin and they like hanging out together when they can.

Patsy made super-cute bird houses for lots of us, and Chex Muddy Buddy mix for the rest.  Everyone was happy!

Harnet and Danait came and stayed for a couple of nights.  We had so much fun!

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Danait loved seeing the Christmas train at the church before service on Christmas Eve.  She remembered it from last year and was so happy to see it again.  The service was lovely, too.

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I love this picture of my sister, Rosalie, and Harnet!  We had such a good time spending time and visiting.  Rosalie gave Rob such a funny gift–It was box inside of box, inside of box, inside of box, with cute little signs and keys wrapped in it and a toy truck!  Can you guess what was inside?

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The signs read, “Ft. Knox” and the keys were to open the fort.  The truck was a “get-away” car to haul it away with:). Then inside was a bag of gold coins (chocolate, of course!). It was very clever and everyone loved watching him open it.

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The glitter was in there, too.  I mean, gold glitters, doesn’t it?

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Of course, Rob was up to tricks, too.  He nailed and glued Alissa’s gift together, then finally gave her a hammer and chisel so she could pound it open.  Once she got in, she was baffled by the Home Depot and PetCo gift cards (both blank).  He finally pulled her real gift out of his backpack, but sure had fun teasing her first!

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Of course, she paid him back by wrapping his gift in miles of bubble wrap, yards of tape, saran wrap, and lot of other sticky stuff.

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There was an ice rink of “Frozen” going around the place!  Little girls are so fun to buy Christmas gifts for, and the family had fun, I’ll just say:). Her little costume (not in this picture, this is a nightie), actually has lights on it and it sings, “Let it Go.”  Crazy!

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Believe it or not, I got a few non-Christmas-related frugal things done as well.  I re-covered Rob’s pillow with some quilted fabric I’ve had for a long time.  It was worn out, but he likes that exact amount of stuffing, so I just made a new cover.

We did some deep cleaning and organizing on several days, spending several hours we probably should have used for other purposes, but it sure feels good to have some areas clean and things organized that were messy before.

I cooked many meals.  I spent every last cent of my reduced $50/week, plus and extra $50 grocery budget, and have to admit, I dipped into the “little extra” I had set aside.  I will still end up the month under $300 instead of $250, and that includes several food gifts for people, all paper products and toiletries we needed, Christmas extras like cream cheese,  plus lots and lots of produce for my salad eater, Rob.  One thing I bought was 5 boxes of Chex cereal for $1.49/box.  Pasty used a lot of them for her Chex mixture.  The lady behind me in line said she had never, ever seen anyone buy so many boxes of Chex at once.  (She was nice, it just wasn’t part of her world to stock up like that). I politely made conversation with her, but later, to Rob, I said, “who COULDN”T eat 5 boxes of Chex!!!”  Frankly, she might just faint if she every saw my garage:)

Patsy got to do work projects with the youth group at church twice, racking up money in her account for youth group activities. There is a retreat in February she is working hard for.

Today, when I took Harnet home, I got stuck in traffic on the way back.  It took me a long time to get home.  Thankfully, I had a piece of candy in my purse, which I ate,  and then grabbed a little ziplock of frozen ham and bean soup from the freezer, and warmed it up right away once I got home.  I was so glad that was in there!  I almost had to stop and grab something, but made it home without a low blood sugar, saving at least $5-$7.

Rob grabbed some wrapping paper, bows and ribbons today at 70% off.  We wrapped most gifts this year instead of using bags, using paper bought on clearance another year.

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The holiday was wonderful.  There are many more pictures I could show, and many more people who shared the week with us, but this post is way too long already.  We had a great time together as a family, and with friends over the past few weeks.  Tomorrow, we start our routine again, by taking the kids to the pool in the morning and I’m going to my exercise class.  Let’s just say….. it’s time:). I had a lot of turkey.  and ham.  and…….

 

 

 

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–December 16, 2018

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This was a week of bustling around, preparing for Christmas, going to the doctor quite a bit, having company over for lunch on Saturday, and having Jake and Michaela stay over here with us for a long weekend, ending on Tuesday.

On Saturday,  we wanted to attend the Christmas program at church, and our friends wanted to go as well, so we had an early lunch, then went to the program.  This meant that the food needed to be easy to fix, and easy to put away.  Our oldest daughter wanted to come, too, which meant that her special dietary needs needed to be met, as well as my need for no-gluten. There needed to be lots of it, since there were 15 people, counting us, and I needed to stay within my lowered food budget for this month.  Good thing I love a challenge and have a deep pantry!

So, what did we do?

We defrosted a turkey previously purchased inexpensively.  It was quite small, and perfect for this occasion.  Rob stuffed it with apples, cooked it on the BBQ, and we cut it up on Friday.  We also had part of a ham we were eating on, so I sliced off some nice pieces and set them aside and let the family eat the other bits during the week.  I also had part of a roast beef I had cooked earlier in the week, which was sliced as well.  All of those meats were re-warmed in the microwave, taking care to put a little liquid in with them and they were tightly covered.  Rob handled that. Nothing was dry, and everyone had choices.

I made twice-baked potatoes, home-canned green beans, corn, and cookies.  I also put some baby carrots and cauliflower pieces in a dish.  That was it.  It worked beautifully, didn’t cost much, and there was plenty.  In fact, we are going to repeat the lunch today at Family Sunday Dinner with the leftovers–win-win!

I cleaned the house.  I used items I had for decor.  I found paper plates and plastic cups and even some Christmas napkins out in the garage.  We put up a table in the living room and another small one in Patsy’s room to supplement the dining room table.  Usually, we seat extra people out in the garage, which is set up with a table and some chairs.  It was pretty cold out there, so with these tables, we were able to avoid that yesterday, and the kids were able to play games at the table in Patsy’s room as well.

We ate, visited, put perishable food away, threw away the plates, and put the silverware in the sink and went off to the program.  It really didn’t take long to clean it up that evening.  We had so much fun visiting with our friends, as we don’t see them much anymore since we live a little distance from them now, and the program was really, really well done and wonderful to watch.  The music was amazing, with a large choir, a children’s choir, an orchestra, and also drama with angels, Mary and Joseph, and shepherds with real sheep!  I’m sure glad I was not in charge of those sheep, but enjoyed watching the shepherds manage them:). To me, it really feels like Christmas when I can watch the Christmas story, shown in such a creative way, and I loved sharing the enjoyment with our daughter and friends.  One of their sons recently married, and he and his wife now live down our direction, and have been attending our church (super special for us to see them on Sundays) so the young couple were in the choir, and our youngest was on stage crew–so that was special, too.

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I messed up the first tray of cookies.  There was not enough flour in them, and they crumbled up terribly when I removed them from the pan.  So, I crumpled them up even more, made some hot fudge/mint sauce, and will serve the sauce and cookies today over the ice cream that my aunt is bringing to dinner.

I have been buying the super good deals that have been offered at the stores with most of my grocery budget.  This week, my aunt clued me in to the fact that there were eggs for 79c/dozen at Safeway on one day only.  She got me the 2 dozen allowed on her card, since she had recently purchased eggs, and I stopped by and got 2 more.  Yesterday, I got the 5,  8-ounce shredded cheese allowed at Fred Meyers for 99c/each.  I got 5 Hot Wheels cars for 50c/each to set aside for my nephew’s birthday in January, and 2 boxes of coffee at 3.99 each.  (I could have had 5, but that was what I chose to spend). I did have to buy almost $25 of produce this week though–it’s pretty expensive right now, and  but I’m not cutting corners on that right now.  There were several free items I picked up, and one more that they were out of and I can hopefully get before the coupon expires.  I put a few more cents onto my Ibotta account, but most of my shopping was items that were store brands or items that there were no rebates for.   I’ve got about $60 left from the $250 I want to spent this month.  The budget I set was an average of $50/week, plus $50 to stock up on sales with. I am on track to easily manage it, I feel, but will go over if produce continues to be so high.  (I have a little more available, but would rather buy Christmas goodies with it if possible) We are eating home-canned and frozen items, using produce from the $1/marked-down rack when I can get anything there, and still burning through salad stuff, carrots, potatoes, etc. like crazy. Go, us!  The commercial that would rather have us eat peanut butter cups says, “Not sorry–Reeses”. I say, “Not sorry–veggies!”  I’m so proud of Rob for sticking to this diet for so long.  He gets weighed again this week.  Here’s hoping he’s lost some more:)

I had 2 incidents this week where they over-charged me at the grocery store.  I was able to catch it by paying attention, and got both of them corrected.  One time was for $7 and the other $3, so I saved $10.

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I made a lot of burritos and froze them.  The filling mixture is cooked brown rice and quinoa, pinto and black beans, cheese, a tomato and a jar of the home-canned taco sauce I made last summer.  I found these tortillas at a scratch and dent store for 50c/package.  I filled them, and wrapped them in foil and froze them.  Now Rob has something to quickly make for Patsy for dinner on nights when he is just over-done from the day and I’m still at work.  I made lots and plan to gift a few at Christmas time to one of our sons who would love to have some frozen burritos to eat in a hurry.

Patsy did stage crew for the Christmas program.  She needed black clothes.  We looked through all the clearance choices at Fred Meyers and found a plain, long-sleeved t-shirt type black dress.  We decided she could wear that with leggings she already had, so I got away for only $15, since things were marked 1/2 of the clearance price that day!

I hope your week is not too hectic, and that you can have some peaceful times so you can reflect on the true meaning of Christmas amidst the busy, busy week you probably have ahead of you.  That’s what I hope to do, as well.  Merry week before Christmas!

 

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–December 9, 2018

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Patsy went to a Christmas party at church last night.  There was an ugly sweater contest.  Rob went down to a thrift shop and got this sweater and then to the Dollar Tree to get things for her to decorate it with.  We told her there was no way she was going to win–it turned out too cute!   She had a lot of fun decorating it, that’s for sure!

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Alissa’s was pretty awful by the time she got done decorating. She did not win, either.  I guess a girl in a sweater that had shoulder pads, and was just like it was made–not embellished, but very ugly with no help at all,  was the winner.  The girls had a lot of fun with it.

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She even did the back of hers because it was so front-heavy that it needed a counterbalance!

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Jake and Michaela spent the weekend, in fact will be with us until Tuesday.  On Saturday morning, it was chore time, and I said they had to help.  Jake thought the funnest chore he could think of was cleaning the toilet.  I wasn’t about to turn down that offer!  So, he and Patsy cleaned the bathroom while Michaela and I put a bunch of things away.  We made the chores fun, they didn’t last long, and a couple of things got done.  Win-win-win!

I have read until I am hoarse.  I read the first Boxcar Children book to Jake.  We read part of “Eddie and Gardenia” which is by Carolyn Haywood, his current favorite author.  Then, our library hold copy of “Here’s a Penny” which is also by Carolyn Haywood came in, and we had to go down there and pick it up and start to read that.  We are about 1/2 way through.  Rob played Plant Bingo (a botany learning game) with him because he loves it, not to teach him anything.  That he is learning while doing it is a nice bonus.  Rob took Michaela to her Horses of Hope arena where she volunteers and rides, but there was no work to do yesterday–it was done by other volunteers, so she just rode.  That worked, too. It was cold.

Then, Rob set Michaela, Jake and Patsy to wrapping presents.  All in all, they got quite a bit done, and had fun doing it.

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I’ve been sewing all week.  Those blue shorts are the sleeping shorts I sewed and gave Rob to wear.  The camo fabric is a pair of long pants that are slightly fuzzy inside–good for cold evenings and the dinosaur fabric is another pair of sleeping shorts.  He will get the long pair and the short gray pair for Christmas.  I used Simplicity 4889, a pattern I’ve had for quite a few years.

I put it all away because the kids were coming, but I do have a couple more things I want to make after they go home and I can get it all out again.

We cooked lots of meals, as normal.  I made potato soup with ham in it, roast beef with carrots, sandwiches, toasted bagels and English muffins for the kids, tuna salad, and more.

I went and got a few marvelous deals at the grocery store.  99c peanut butter, 99c milk (1/2 gallons), and a few other things.  I also got some salad stuff and veggies on the reduced produce rack.  A really tasty honeydew melon was my favorite buy–it only had 1 small soft spot, which I cut out.  I’m so often disappointed with honeydew, but figured it was worth a dollar to take a chance on this one, and it was very good!  Every thing on that rack is $1.  I happened in at the right time–the produce man had just put out 2 huge boxes of things that needed to be sold right away.  At that store, they put them in little mesh bags, and whatever’s in the bag costs a dollar, but it all has a little problem, which I trim off.  I’m feeding my healthy hubby lots of sliced tomatoes due to those little bags:). I’m not sure why some of those tomatoes were in there.  They were perfectly good–not even a bad spot.

I hope your week went well. I plan to keep working slowly towards Christmas, but I’m feeling pretty good about getting ready with a minimum of stress.  How about you?