Monday, October 27, 2014

This Week's Late Menu Plan, and Trim Healthy Mama

I'm late with things this week.  Here is our dinner menu, with some notes about how I will (or won't) adapt meals for myself.  See, I went and read that book, Trim Healthy Mama, and I'm giving it a go.  My main goal from now until the end of October is the giving-up of soda, but I also intend to be fully 'on plan' beginning in November.

Let me just say - if you haven't read the book, there is a bit here that won't make any sense.  That's okay.  If you've read it, you may have some pointers for me, which I will be most grateful for!

Here's the plan:

M - meatballs w/gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans, lingonberry sauce
Potatoes are not on plan, ever.  That said, I can make this an E meal in the macro-nutrient sense (under 45g carbs and under 5g fat) if I don't go overboard.  My plan is to enjoy this off-plan meal, (it's not November yet!) but not go wild with portions. 

T - monster hotwings, celery and ranch oven fries/zucchini fries, garden salad
My 'monster' hotwings are turkey wings that I'll roast in the oven  until they are cooked and have crispy skin.  Husband and I will have them with hot wing coating, Daughter will likely have barbecue sauce.  They get potato fries, I get zucchini fries, so this is an S meal for me.

W - rotisserie chicken (Costco), quinoa, waldorf salad
This is an E meal.  I can have a little quinoa and waldorf salad here (the recipe for the salad is in the book) and white meat chicken, no skin.  

R - spaghetti w/sauce (Italian sausage in the sauce), salad, cheesy breadsticks
I opened this jar of sauce (to make a lunch for Husband) and it is one of those 'three cheese' sauces, which has romano in it, which I just can't eat.  My plan is to have an S meal - the salad, likely with some chicken from the day before, and some of the breadsticks, which are made with an S recipe.  I don't normally want to have a different meal, but I wouldn't eat this sauce under any circumstances, so I'm cool with it.  

F - pizza, vegetable sticks, dip, apples, halloween candy
If there are leftover cheesy breadsticks, they will be my pizza, or I might try making a crust - either way, this would be an S meal for me.  I'll be skipping the apples and halloween candy, but I have some pb skinny chocolate in my freezer that I made.

S - tuna salad sandwiches (or salad), pretzels, sliced oranges and berries
I'll make an S meal with tuna salad on a bed of greens with celery, cheddar and a bit of chopped tomato.  I have strawberries and blueberries I can have as dessert.

S - enchiladas, Mexican rice, green salad
Corn tortillas are not 'on plan', but I am probably having a couple here, filled with a leaner (turkey, onion, tomato) filling and topped with homemade enchilada sauce.  That and a green salad with a light dressing will make an E style meal for me, even with the off-plan tortillas.  I simply cannot justify $3.49 for 8 low-carb tortillas when I can get 90 corn tortillas for $2.50  I don't think this will 'ruin' the week, so I guess we shall see.

Other Meals on Trim Healthy Mama

This is Good Girl Moonshine.  It's growing on me.  Sorta.

For breakfasts I am trying out different things - S breakfasts like an omelet with mushrooms and cheddar, and E breakfasts like a slice of toast with cottage cheese, a whole apple and a strawberry-cottage cheese smoothie.  I'm writing stuff down as I go so that once I get a few I like, I can just mostly stick with them, for the sake of simplicity.  

This is an E breakfast - 45 net carbs, less than 5g. fat, and plenty of food.
Lunches, I seem to want E - lean turkey on sprouted bread or one of the E breads from the book, sliced cucumbers or a salad with light dressing, some fruit.  I may try a smoothie one day, and if there is a day with an E breakfast and supper, I'd probably do an S lunch.  I bought a big container of mushrooms at Costco, which could fit in either type of meal, depending on how they're cooked and what they're served with.  I am definitely still learning and figuring all this out!

An S lunch - salad with cheddar and ranch, deviled eggs for protein, and dilly beans, just because.

Snacks are pretty easy, really.  They must have protein, so I think most of mine will be S - a few nuts or cheese cubes, maybe.  I also want to try the 'cottage berry whip' from the book, which is cottage cheese with some berries, whirled in the food processor (I think with some stevia), and I also have the skinny girl pb chocolate that I made, though it would still need some protein with it, I think.

So, that is the plan for this week.  What's on the menu at your home?

Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

We purchased pavers to do a walkway from our driveway to the front door.  We bought them second-hand, and they were less than half the cost of new, plus, no sales tax!  We are just getting started with the seems to be going well, and I'll post photos once it's completed!

There are three pallets like this, full of pavers!

The beginning of our walkway, which still needs soil filled back in around the edges.

Turkey sales have started here for Thanksgiving.  King Soopers has them for .69 a pound.  We've purchased two so far.  The sale price for chicken these days is .99 a pound, so I'm going to get as many as I can fit in my freezer...and I might even can some in the pressure canner.  If .69 a pound is the lowest price, I probably won't do any canning, but if I see them at .49 or less, the canner is coming out!

I gave up soda.  This will save money (my allowance) in the long run, but right now it's just making me cranky.  I'm not going to say I'll never have soda again (because that would be a lie), but I was drinking way, way too much of it, and it will be reserved as a treat from here on out.  I hope.

Good Girl Moonshine.  It's definitely not soda, but it's growing on me.

We combined errands to save trips to town.

I went for my annual physical, which is covered by our insurance.  I'm surprised by how many people don't get their physicals, even though they are covered.  If you haven't had one this year and it's covered by your insurance, there is still time to schedule it!

Husband has been picking up free items from Harbor Freight.  Over the course of time he has stocked up on flashlights, tarps, rope, etc.  Harbor Freight puts out lots of coupons for small items, free, no purchase necessary.  There is a store on his way home from work, so he stops after work and gets whatever he has a coupon for.

It was also time for Husband to get new safety glasses for work.  These are paid for by his employer, including the eye exam.  He was able to get a copy of the prescription, so he can order his glasses anywhere - another store, online, etc., which saves us considerably.  I am also due for glasses, and there was an offer for two pair of glasses, exam included, for $69.  I have frames picked out already, and will go back Wednesday for my exam.

We are having very pleasant weather, so there has been no need for heating or cooling.  Nice!  We have also been enjoying the beautiful fall colors.

She's growing fast!  This little pink teacup is her favorite outdoor toy.

We needed a bigger crate for our pup.  My girlfriend loaned me one while I was looking for one second-hand, and this week I was able to get one for $10, which is a great savings over new.


We read books and watched movies that we got from the library.

Did you have a good week?  What did you do to save more, spend less and make do?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Not-So-Quiet Birthday Celebration!

This past week, we celebrated Daughter's ninth birthday!  She thought it would be fun to have friends over for a party, and I thought it would be fun to share some of the things we did.  So, this is how we celebrated.

Saturday was her birthday 'for real'.  We celebrated as a family, which was fairly low-key, really.  If she had wanted to do something - go to a pumpkin patch, play at the park, whatever - we would have, but she was content to stay home.  I think that was due, in part, to her birthday present, which was a game for the Wii.  I'm about to sound totally clueless (because I am!), but it's called Skylanders.  There is a little thing that looks like a tree stump, and there are critters that sit atop that tree stump and it make the game play.  (shrug)  The neat thing is that we got the starter set with four critters for $15 secondhand.  It was like new.  The lady I purchased it from said her son really wanted it, but then just never played with it much.  We re-set the characters to the beginning, and she has been happily Skylander-ing ever since.  (Well, not constantly or anything...just, when she has some time she's allowed to play Wii.)  I stamped a birthday card for her as well, and she got phone calls from all her grandparents, who had sent gifts during the week.  It was quite a lot, really!

In our family, the birthday person gets to choose the main meal.  She wanted Cesar salad.  I am pretty sure that every year, she chooses either Cesar salad or the Chinese restaurant.  Anyway, I made some Cesar dressing and croutons, chopped some salad, thawed some steaks and baked some potatoes.  It was a lovely meal.  Since there are just three of us, I used one cake mix to make a 9x9 cake for her birthday, as well as a dozen cupcakes for the party that we had the next day.

I stamped images, cut them out and mounted them on toothpicks.  It's unusual, but Daughter loved it!
Sunday was party day.  We had it in the afternoon.  For her party, she wanted a wildlife/forest theme.  It was really fun to plan.  I put the word out that I was looking for items that went with that theme, and a friend gave us a couple of cute toy deer.  We used them on the table for 'decoration', and Daughter got to keep them after the party.  For favors, we strayed from the theme a bit.  I did get one of those toy animal 'tubes' at Jo-Ann's - there was one of North American wildlife.  I used a 50% off coupon for it, which saved a good bit.  Each child got a small thanks-for-coming box that had one of the little animals, some (Halloween) candy, owl stickers (Dollar Tree) and a coupon for a free Wendy's frosty.  There was also a hologram pencil (Dollar Tree) taped to the outside of the box.

Most of the decorating was actually low-key.  I stamped owls, leaves and acorns onto paper plates that I got on sale and with a coupon.  The napkins were coordinating in color, but didn't have animals, and the cups had little owls on them.  Daughter wanted the cups because of the little owls, so we got them, but they were only 5 oz.  Next time, I think I would just use household cups, and put stickers on them or something, because I spent a lot of time re-filling little cups for thirsty kids!

I used a fairly plain tablecloth so it wouldn't compete with the 'decorations' which were actually the food.  We did chocolate cupcakes (dirt) with green frosting (grass) and each had a little stamped image on top.  I stamped those, cut them out and taped them to toothpicks - easy peasy!  We also had strawberry mice - they were super cute and very easy to make.  I made them a couple of hours before the party, and the tails (twizzlers, that peel apart) got soggy and didn't stay.  I don't know if you can really make them ahead of time, because I can't think of a way to make that not happen.  Still, they are adorable, and were a big hit with the kids!

We made a 'forest floor' snack mix that we made up ourselves.  It had twigs (stick pretzels), seeds (candy corn and popcorn), worms (those pull apart twizzlers again), bears (bear shaped cookies) and deer poop (chocolate covered raisins).   The kids thought it was funny.  Daughter spotted these maple leaf serving dishes (Dollar Tree) and really liked them.  We will use them for other fall snacks as well.

We also made acorns from Hershey kisses, vanilla wafers and butterscotch chips.  I was disappointed that the vanilla wafers were larger than I expected them to be (the box said mini, but they were bigger than what I've seen used on Pinterest), but I just let it go and decided that the kids really wouldn't mind...and they didn't!  You 'glue' the parts together with a bit of frosting, and they can be successfully made the day before, so yay!

Finally, there was a cheese owl.  I saw this idea on Pinterest, and then there was a sale/coupon combination on sliced cheese!  It was really fun to make, and it was easy, too.  I sprinkled some twigs (pretzels) around the edge and we used black olives for eyes.  The kids really enjoyed it!  Truthfully, all the food was really simple to do.  Too bad about the mouse tails, though.

Our beverage was 'forest berry punch'.  I made some tropical punch kool aid - the kind in the little packet - and used some fruit juice that I had on hand, along with some sugar, to sweeten it.  When it was time to serve, I put some frozen blueberries and some fresh, quartered strawberries in the pitcher with ice piled on top.  Then I added fruit punch and Sprite, without really measuring it.  I had to re-fill the pitcher a couple of times - the children (and the grownups) really liked it, plus it was pretty.

We didn't want competitive games with prizes, because that always seems to end with drama.  I had a few things in mind, but last minute, Daughter said she wanted a fishing game.  She went in the yard and gathered sticks so that each person would have a pole.  She got yarn and took fridge magnets and made the poles for us.  I printed a page I found online that had six different trout on it...and I printed the page three times.  On a whim, I looked up fortune cookie sayings, and we wrote those (some adapted a little for kids) on the back.  We put a paper clip on the 'nose' of each fish, put a blue towel on the floor for 'lake' and got out of the way.  I was surprised by how long the kids played this.  I can see some neat applications for older kids - even adults - as well as Sunday school or Bible school.

We called our other 'game' (it was really an activity) Forest Friends Rescue.  Before the guests arrived, I had hidden forest animals all around our property.  Each animal (except the last one) had a clue attached, and I had a clue to give them to find the first animal.  They had to go in order (even if they happened to see an animal on the way to a different one) lest they miss an animal that needed to be 'rescued'.  The clues were silly little made up things, some of which (sort of) rhymed, and the animals were Daughter's stuffed animals.  Again, I wasn't sure how the kids would react, but they all seemed to enjoy it a lot.

These descriptions are out of order.  When the guests first arrived, they  played outside on the swing set for a bit...allowing time until everyone was here, as well as burning off a little excitement.  Once everyone arrived, we did the Trout Fortunes game.  When that began to wind down, Husband supervised the Forest Friends Rescue, which allowed me enough time to assemble the punch and pour some into the cups and get the cold items out onto the table.  (I had put everything else on the table before the guests arrived, and I am glad for that!)  The kids spent a fair amount of time at the table eating and visiting, and then Daughter opened her gifts.  My friend brought some real animal pelts that she had - they are like the ones you'd see at a nature center - and the children really enjoyed those too.  Plus, that gave them something to hold/touch while gifts were opened.  From there, the kids played outside for a little longer, then Daughter gave them favors as they said goodbye.

It was a fun party, and not expensive.  I haven't done an exact total, but looking over the list, I spent about $30 for the party, favors, food, games and all.  Mostly it came out of our grocery budget, and there were lots and lots of leftovers....mostly things that I didn't even 'make', like plenty of sliced cheese that's left for us to eat, lots of pretzels, more candy than I want to think get the idea.  I probably could have done it for even less, but I am happy with how things turned out and I think we did a good job of keeping it frugal too!

I hope there are some ideas here that will be useful to someone else.  Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 20, 2014

This Week's Menu

I didn't post a menu plan last week, because between having company and  planning a birthday and a birthday party, I just didn't get to it.  This week, things are a little more back to our version of normal.  Most of the food planned is based on needing to use something up.  For example, we bought some cheeses to have on hand for snacking while we had company, then we barely touched them, so they are worked into this week's plan.

Here is our plan, and it might even be in order!

turkey-olive and cheese enchiladas, Mexican rice, shredded lettuce salad and garnishes
meal out (we have a reimbursement offer from a credit card that will make it nearly free)
cheese fondue with apples, cubed bread, steamed vegetables, etc.  (I will see what is on hand.)
grilled chicken, broccoli-bacon salad w/grapes
zuppa toscana, Italian bread, apple wedges
homemade potstickers w/vinegar sauce, rice & kimchee, steamed cabbage and carrots
taco salads

What's on the menu at your home?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Frugal Accomplishments, Mid-October

Hi!  Waving at you from my quiet little country life!

We have had company this past week, so this week has been different from many.  For one thing, we spent last weekend out of town at the International Balloon Festival and Albuquerque, New Mexico.  We went with my in-laws, and had a very nice time.  We stayed in a small, family-owned motel that had good ratings and good prices.  The staff was very nice and helpful.

One of the statues at the Motel.
The motel had breakfast included in the price of the stay, and that saved us some expense, since this was also one of the most affordable options.  There were hard-cooked eggs, pastries, fresh fruits, yogurt, oatmeal, cold cereals, bagels, bread/toast, cream cheese, peanut butter, typical breakfast beverages, and one of those pour and flip waffle makers.  Plenty of variety and everything was in good supply.  They also had a small swimming pool, which thrilled Daughter to no end.  She really enjoyed getting to go swimming the two times that we fit it in.

We took along snacks in a range from healthy to junky, along with drinks, and ate out once a day instead of twice.  While it would have been possible to make sandwiches and other foods and avoid restaurants altogether, that was not what was intended by my in-laws, who also footed the bill, so we enjoyed their generosity and didn't fret about it.  We are still us, of course, so we still drank water instead of soda in some places, shared meals where it made sense, etc.

You could also get green chile added to the grilled cheese bacon donut.  We skipped it altogether.

The main event, though, was the festival.  We went to several sessions, but because of weather, and some events not getting the green light, we were able to re-use our admission tickets each time.  That saved a lot of admission, and we still got to see some balloon glow, a really nice ascension, an incredibly long fireworks show and several balloons up close.

Back at home, a neighbor that trades pet-sitting with me took care of my rabbits and hens.  A dear friend watched Taffy for us too - I think she deserves some sort of Puppy-Whisperer Medal of Honor!

While we were in Albuquerque, we went to Trader Joe's and picked up a few things to try.  They just opened one near where we live, but the crowds there are going to be intense for a while, so we just got the things we were interested in while we were on our trip.  I am on the fence about this store - it's 'neat', but the prices on many things seem high to me.  Time will tell whether or not we become loyal customers.

I planned for one souvenir, and brought home this wee nativity.  It is less than three inches tall, and I really like it!

Our trip was Friday to Sunday, but my in-laws were with us until the following Thursday.  We spent time at home, and also made a day-trip to Denver during the week (we had lunch at Ikea).  We ate most of our meals at home, and often, breakfast and one other meal per day, then an evening snack for those who wanted something.  I made breakfasts to order (truth, I was using up things from the fridge, so I'd say, 'Who wants fried potatoes with their eggs?  Who wants rice?') and we were able to utilize leftovers as the days went by.  Husband picked up fried chicken one day and I made baked beans and slaw (and rice and kimchee) and an apple pie to go with.  Another day I made crockpot barbecued pork shoulder, steamed broccoli (and we had enough rice already prepared to serve with that meal), plus a peach dump cake. The whole trip was pretty relaxed and easy-going.  It was great to spend some time with them and just be together.

More people means more laundry, more showers, etc., but we did the things we always do.  Laundry was hung to dry, towels were hung to dry after showers, etc.

We got a coupon in the Sunday paper for a free month of membership at Sam's.  This will give me a chance to get in there and pick up a couple of things we like from there.  A membership just doesn't seem to be cost-effective for us, so we are happy for this opportunity.

I have been preparing some things in my spare time for Daughter's upcoming birthday and birthday party.  Her birthday is the coming Saturday, with the party on Sunday, and we are almost ready.  I will put together a separate post to share the things we are doing (by then, will have done) to celebrate her turning nine years old!

I hope you had a great week.  I'd love to hear about the ways you saved more, spent less and made do.  I'm eager for your comments, so I can learn something new!

Friday, October 10, 2014

This Week's Frugal Accomplishments

We loaded up a bunch of scrap metal, including aluminum cans and some other aluminum, and took in our little truck with the trailer in tow.  We turned in $140 worth of scrap!  I was hoping for $50 or more, so I was really tickled with the results!

I found some really cute packaging for party favors for Daughter's upcoming birthday party - $1 for 12, when I only need 8.  I wanted something smallish, to help keep the cost of favors reasonable.  I'm planning for each guest to get a Frosty coupon, a pencil, some stickers, sweets and a necklace (girls) or key ring (boys).  I am making the necklaces and key rings - more on that soon.  These little packages should hold all of that, no problem.  I made a list of the remaining items we need for the party so I can make as much as possible and watch for sales.

I transplanted a few more flowers and plants, improved a river rock border on the big flower bed, and we moved some gravel.  If we paid for all the landscaping we've done this year, I think we'd need a second mortgage, but we have done most of the work ourselves, and saved a ton.  We did hire an end-loader/bobcat guy to shape the driveway, grade off the grass, spread the first 15 tons of gravel and take out some stumps for us.  We also hired a guy to put seamless gutters on the garage, but we ran the (underground) drain lines from the downspouts, along with drainage for two downspouts on the house.  We set about 25 railroad ties (that we got free for the hauling), spread the second 15 tons of gravel (by hand, because we're crazy like that) for the driveway, along with a huge load of fill dirt, many small loads of topsoil....and we've moved river rock more times than I want to admit....but it's all coming together.  Right now, I'm waiting/hoping to hear from someone who has pavers for sale (second hand) that we can use to create a pathway to the front door.  We also have some more drainage to install, and that's probably it for this season.

I gathered seed heads for Blanket Flower.  I have sown some in the field and saved some to share.

We used sales and coupons to get Chex mix for .50 a bag.  We also signed up for a freebie at King Sooper - a potato side dish.

Husband went up on the roof to use a wire brush on the spark arrestor cap.  He is a very brave soul.   (I stay down on the ground and cheer him on, like the wimp that I am.)

There were some light-colored water rings (from drinking glasses) on our kitchen table.  I did an internet search and learned that I could use some white cloth and a hot iron to get them out.  All I did was put the iron on 'steam' and iron over the area, on the cloth....a little at a time until the water rings faded away.  It worked like a charm.  If you have wood furniture with water marks, check out some of the videos on You Tube.  They were really helpful and informative.  I actually went over the entire surface of our kitchen table, a little at a time, and it looks much more even.  I polished it afterward - it's not 'like new', but it is much better than it was!

I was wanting some sort of caddy to hold the salt, pepper and butter for the kitchen table, and found a basket that I already owned that works perfectly.  We have made some changes to our homeschool process and Daughter often uses the kitchen table these days, so it's nice to have a way to whisk these items off of (or onto) the table as needed.

Sorry for the lack of photos this week - How have you saved lately?

Monday, October 6, 2014

This Week's Dinner Menu

Last week's turkey-bacon and zucchini-onion kebabs.
We cooked them on the grill and served them with roast potatoes - yummy!
We have company coming to visit this week, so the plan is far less structured than usual.  My in-laws are coming to visit, and we are really looking forward to seeing them.  You may notice a little extra Mexican food early in the week - it is one of our favorites, and they don't care for it, so we' up?  Hee hee.  Once they arrive, there will be more restaurant meals than usual, and that's just how it goes.  Here is the only goes until Wednesday, but I'll explain more afterward:

M - orange chicken, rice, mixed vegetable stir-fry, fresh fruit
T - homemade chili, baked potatoes, shredded cheddar
W - nachos supreme, sliced apples

During the time Mom and Dad are here, there are a few places we know they want to go for meals, so those are on our list.  Often, we have lunch 'out' and then a lighter supper.  Those dinner meals will be things like cheese and crackers with fresh fruit, finger foods like hard-boiled eggs or potstickers (if I can get them made), maybe even a bowl of cheerios and milk.  We will also be on the road some of the time, so I've been stocking up on easily portable foods like granola bars (which were on sale several times lately, and I had coupons too!), pretzels and chex mix.  Add some veggie sticks, fresh fruit, dried fruit, muffins and homemade cookies, and we definitely won't starve.

So, in addition to the stuff mentioned above, I'll be baking some blueberry muffins, an apple pie and some cookies.  We also have a couple of 'if needed' meals planned for at home that will happen either this week or next, depending on what we're doing, and when (and where).

Do you cook differently when you have guests?  Do you make foods at home for times when you're on the road?  What's on the menu at your place this week?

Friday, October 3, 2014

Frugal Accomplishments for Early Fall

This little fall arrangement greets you at our front door.
I've been reading more lately, because I discovered an author that I really, really like.  Her name is Francine Rivers.  Thankfully, the library has many of her titles, so it is not costing me anything to read and read and read....and read.

I gave all my indoor plants a dose of plant food this week.  I got the plant food free at the county's hazardous waste drop off.  They accept old batteries, household cleaners, etc., and they have shelves there with things like cleaning supplies and plant food, free for the taking.  So we take in our dead light bulbs and old batteries and I pick up cleaning supplies, fertilizer, etc.  It has always worked out well for me.

When we built the house, we put in faucets by Price Pfister, that have lifetime warranties on them.  This has benefited us a few times.  Recently, I called them because the pressure balance regulator (or something like that) in Daughter's bathroom wasn't working well anymore.  I also had a shower head that had lost its finish when I cleaned it, and a spigot that had lost an o-ring, making the shower not work as well as it should.  I had to call them, and then send photos of the shower head and spigot, so they could match them up as best as possible with replacements.  The charge for replacement parts is $5 each time, whether we get one item or more, so we got all the parts we needed replaced for just $5.  I think this was our third time requesting parts, and they have always been wonderful about it.  Husband replaced items the day after the box arrived.

We had two big rains in one day, so the ground was nice and wet.  The next morning, I transplanted blanket flower, a peony, some bulbs and some Russian sage that were a bit crowded in the big flowerbed.  I moved them all to spots in front of the house.  This year we put in a driveway that goes alongside the house, and it changed the shape of things in front of our house, so these flowers will fill in nicely and look really pretty.  To be honest, it looks scraggly and scruffy right now, because the plants are not well established, plus there are weeds, but I think we will be able to make it nice with some time and effort.  It feels good to add lots of perennial flowers without spending money - just by dividing things we already have (and already grow well here).  The next day, I moved a few more things around, and it is all coming together nicely.

This area is overgrown, and I can take flowers from here without anyone noticing.
This is where they are going.  I am hopeful that eventually,
this area will be just as full and pretty.
Some of our never-ending supply of weeds.
My very good friend called me Tuesday afternoon.  She is in Iowa visiting family, and she had a question - "What do you need from the bulk store?"  It's a local market run by the Amish or Mennonite community there.  She is bringing me popcorn, cocoa, coconut oil, and possibly another thing or two.  The bulk pricing is really good, as is the quality of the things we have gotten there.

I hung clothes on the clotheslines or on clothing racks to dry them, and washed them with homemade laundry soap.

We are training Taffy to come when called and to sit.  So far it is going well.  We give her a tiny piece of a treat as reward when she does well.  We don't want to over-feed her on them, so we take small ones and then break them in two.  This week I made her some Puppy Pie Crust.  I baked it in tiny little squares, about a quarter inch size.  I made a fourth of a recipe and it made a lot (because they are so tiny) so there are some in the treat jar and more in the freezer for later on.

I took a little block of free time and made some thank-you cards.  I have enjoyed rubber stamping for years and years, but don't often find a lot of time to do it.  This time, I limited myself to a single ink color and just a few stamps, but each card is a little different.  It was fun to make, I needed some thank-you cards.

We combined a sale and coupons and stocked up on coffee for Husband.  He does not drink a lot of coffee, so it may last a whole year.  We will store it in the freezer.

I worked on two Christmas gifts this week.

I was offered, and accepted, a free magazine subscription.  Most of these go through and arrive at my mailbox, but once in a while, one doesn't go through - we shall see!

I was able to learn a little about some herbs this week.  I have one I was told is 'lovage'.  I looked it up to learn more about it and learned that in the U.S. it is generally called Angelica.  I think it will now be easier to research its uses and care.  I learned all this when I was looking up a 'weed' in my walkway that I thought might be Angelica.  It turns out that one is Sweet Annie, which I have always wanted, and apparently, the birds or the prairie winds have brought to me.  I need to learn more about its medicinal uses and hopefully get it established in a flower bed - it really is right in the middle of the walkway.  It smells lovely.  Finally, I'm studying Feverfew a bit, in part to make sure that I don't confuse it with one of the other two.  They all have similar, fern-like leaves, just in different sizes.  Sweet Annie is airy and delicate, Feverfew is the middle child, and Angelica is a larger pattern, almost like Italian Parsley.  I am looking forward to learning more.

Sweet Annie, growing right in the middle of our pathway.  I won't move it...
it's an annual.  Instead, I will collect seeds when the time comes, save them,
and put them in the herb garden or flower bed next year.
We did a good job eating leftovers for lunches this week.  I made a batch of kim chee and did a fair amount of scratch cooking this week.  We ended our September grocery budget with about $7 left over.  Our budget is $160 a month for food, cleaning supplies (most of which I get free from that drop off site) and toiletries.  This past month we stocked up on a couple of things, including sugar, potatoes, and bacon, so I am happy with our spending.

Kohl's continues to send me post cards for $10 off a purchase of $10 or more.  I used one this week to get some small items - purse size hand lotions and some glitzy nail polish.  These will go into care packages, a gift for our mail carrier and Christmas stockings.  Four lotions and one polish cost me 42 cents out of pocket.

There were days when we could have gone out to do an errand, but we stayed home.  I realized we didn't need to go out, we were just able to, and decided to use our time differently, to work in the yard, call a friend, read, visit with one another and play.  It also saved fuel and meant less spending.

How did you do this past week?  How did you save more, spend less and make do?