Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Once upon a time, I started a Pinterest account.  I wasn't really quite sure what it was or what to do with it, so it just...sat there...for a long time.

This year, when I was planning Daughter's birthday party, Pinterest came in really handy for finding and storing ideas.  I think I'm starting to understand how it works. I'm a regular pinnin' fool.  If you want to 'find' or 'follow' or, on Pinterest, I will try to find, follow,, too!  I never quite understand how these things work, but I bet one of y'all will be able to help me out!

On Pinterest, my account is under my name - Laura Foye.  I think.  I'd love to connect!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Dinner Menu for Thanksgiving Week

skillet corn bread from last week's menu...yum!

Looking over our schedule, this week is a fairly quiet one for us.  No piano lesson or awana for Daughter, and no appointments or other obligations are on our calendar.  We do not travel for Thanksgiving, and no one comes here, so it will be the three of us together at home for a quiet, low-key celebration.

I am hoping to spend the week getting ready for Christmas - finishing Christmas cards, making some gifts, etc.  I will likely start putting away some of the autumn decor - not everything, of course, just some of it.  I feel like I need a little space between all the harvest decorations and Christmas!  At any rate, here is the menu plan for dinners this week:

M - hamburgers, oven fries, carrots and celery w/ranch dip, fruit salad
T - cheese enchiladas, Mexican rice, steamed broccoli, leftover fruit salad
W - eggs to order, homemade turkey sausage, hash browns, toast, orange wedges
R - cranberry-pecan garden salad, fried Thanksgiving turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, glazed carrots, chocolate cream pie
F - leftovers
S - Chinese restaurant
S - to be determined (based on Thanksgiving leftovers)

I also plan to make some blueberry muffins and pop some popcorn.  I signed up to bring snacks for awana the week after Thanksgiving, so I will likely prepare some things in advance for that as well.

Do you have big Thanksgiving day plans?  Are you home or traveling?
What is on your menu?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Frugal Accomplishments, the Week Before Thanksgiving

Hi friends!  I'm getting back into my blogging groove - here are this week's frugal accomplishments:

Daughter and I have been spending some time coloring together in the evening.  I found this artist - Karla Dornacher - who offers some free printable coloring sheets.  Daughter likes to draw her own pictures, but I am enjoying the coloring sheets.  If you do an image search of Karla Dornacher free printable coloring pages you may find some that you like too!

Last Friday, we combined all our 'city' errands into one day and got them done!  It saved us time and fuel.  We scheduled our visit to Costco mid-day, and those samples held us over until mid-afternoon, when we stopped for lunch/supper.  It was also 'happy hour' at the restaurant (OK, Del Taco - so fast food restaurant), so quite a few menu items were half price, saving us over $5.  Here are some savings highlights from our city errands:

We stopped at the vet supply and picked up Taffy's last dose of puppy vaccination.  Each time I give her a shot it saves us about $10 over taking her to the clinic.

I picked up the prescription I had transferred to Kmart and received a $25 gift card for the transfer. (I mentioned this in last week's frugal accomplishments posting.)  They had some Thanksgiving/autumn decorations for 90% off - we got a stuffed felt and wool turkey for 1.29 and an autumn 'Welcome' sign for our new walkway.  When I paid for the prescription I got a $3 off coupon for TP, the same brand that was buy one, get one half off, so that made that deal even better!  We got a nice backpack that was on clearance for $3.75 and some 11.5 oz bags of ranch flavored tortilla chips for 25 cents a bag.  Husband likes to have chips in his lunch, so I asked him to open a bag and taste them.  If he didn't like them, we'd be out 25 cents, but if he did, we could stock up.  They were good, so we stocked up!  This store is pretty far from our home, so I didn't want to make a second trip. We got a vat of fabric softener and some windshield washer fluid and after the gift card, it was just a few dollars.

Our $1.29 turkey.

At Costco we picked up a Christmas gift (I would say more, but that would be a spoiler) and peanut oil for frying our turkey this year.  The oil was less per ounce than it is at Walmart, but we had to purchase more of it.  Since peanut oil is an oil I use throughout the year, we decided to get the larger container, and I can dispense it into something smaller.

Kohls had sent me a $10 off $10 post card.  We picked out two Christmas ornaments that totaled $9.98.  When the cashier scanned the post card, the amount owed was zero.  I thought we'd pay some sales tax, but that wasn't the case.

I picked up the prescription I had transferred to Albertsons and got a $25 gift card there as well. (I mentioned this one last week too.)  We picked up some bacon for 2.99 a pound and some cream cheese for 1.19, and I will save the rest for a good meat sale.

Daughter took along a library book so she wouldn't be 'bored to death'.  I took some crochet, and worked on a scarf when we were in traffic.

That was errand day.  It took a few trips to get everything into the house, and I have no desire to do more errands any time soon!

The rest of the week, we stuck fairly close to home.  We went to the library for books one day, and I attended a free paper crafting program another day.  Daughter spent her time reading, choosing books and playing educational games on one of the computers in the children's area.

Husband has been having some neck and shoulder pain, and a pinched nerve is a possibility.  We agreed that, if we had one, there are nights he would sleep in a recliner, mostly to prevent him from sleeping 'on' the sore shoulder and making it worse.  I put the word out on a couple of local buy-sell-trade boards that I was loking for a brown, tan or tweed recliner for him.  A friend of mine saw one of the postings and sent me a note.  The next day I brought home this recliner.

She had gotten something else and was going to put this chair out for thrift store pickup, but gave it to us instead.  It needed a little bit of upholstery cleaning, but I was able to get it cleaned up with rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle and hand-scrubbing with a microfiber cloth.  (I learned about using rubbing alcohol instead of water - it won't make water spots on light upholstery and also disinfects and dries more quickly.)  It fits in our space and goes with our other furniture, which is fantastic!

Daughter used some of her birthday money from October to get a Wii game second-hand.  It is a game she really likes (Kirby's Epic Yarn) and it is in excellent condition.  She paid $3.

I worked on some Christmas items and crocheted about half of a scarf.

We gather firewood, for free, from various sources.

We heated the house with wood.  We had some days that were warm enough that we didn't have a fire, but we did have a fire every  night.  We have flannel sheets and blankets on our beds to help us stay warm at night, and we are wearing warm clothing during the day.

Daughter went out in the field and gathered some pine cones from beneath our pine trees.  We will use them for Christmas crafts and decoration.

homemade kimchee
I did some cooking from scratch this week - cornbread, soups, pancakes and waffles, etc.  I also partially thawed a large turkey.  I removed the breasts and legs and wrapped and froze them for future meals.  I removed the meat from the thighs, wings and frame (as much as possible) and made all of that into ground turkey.  I took 1 1/2 pounds of that ground meat and made turkey breakfast sausage, and then froze the ground meat (and sausage) in 1/2 pound packages.  All the bones, skin, frame, etc. went in the crock pot with herbs and seasonings.  I got about two cups of cooked meat off the bones and also made about 2 quarts of rich stock.

I went through some items we no longer use and sorted them for selling and donation.

I took some dog treats and cut them into quarter-inch pieces for Taffy.  She is still training (on SO many levels), so small treats are better for her anyway.

I'd love to hear about what you did this week to spend less, save more and make do - comments welcome!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Homemade Christmas Cards

I really enjoy rubber stamping.  It may, or may not, be the most frugal thing, but it is a creative outlet for me that is satisfying and gives me something useful when I am done.  I will say...stamping is not the craze that it was several years back, and second-hand stamps can be very affordable.  So are embellishments, if you look for things second-hand, on sale, etc.  The library has books about stamping techniques, and there are lots of websites full of ideas and inspiration. I was a Stampin' Up! demonstrator for a couple of years (a long time ago), so I never really paid full price for any of my stamps or supplies.  Still, it is more about enjoyment for me than it is about it being cheaper than purchased cards, bookmarks, gift tags, etc.

This  year I am making our Christmas cards.  We do not send very many, but I joined a card exchange in a group on facebook, so I will be sending to those ladies too.

Once I get started planning, I usually come up with several ideas that I like, so I make a dozen of each card, and then send different cards to different people.  I have paper, cardstock, scissors, adhesives and embellishments on hand, so it feels like an affordable thing to know...since I'm not spending any money at this time.  Anyway, I wanted to share some of the card designs I am making this year.

This is our snowman card.  When I ran out of the baker's twine in the colors that matched, I switched to ribbon:

I like nature themes, and this is what I came up with this year.  Each card is a little different from the others:

I have some more planned, but I am not sure how many I will get completed.  Do you make Christmas cards, or do you have other crafts you do at the holidays...or year round?  I'd love to hear about them!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Menu Plan - the Week Before Thanksgiving

Hello, Dearies!  I wanted to share our dinner menu for the week.  It's a fairly simple plan...nothing fancy. Here it is!

M - sausage with apples, pancakes - or- waffles, milk
T - southwest turkey stew, cornbread, oranges
W - sliced ham, macaroni and cheese, steamed broccoli & cauliflower, pears
R - shoyu turkey, rice, kimchee, ginger carrots, plums
F - pizza, salad, fruit salad
S - franks and beans, rice, sliced apples
S - loaded quesedillas, shredded lettuce & tomato salad, refried beans

We have everything on hand for all of these meals, but the pizza is actually take-out.  Husband earned a $5 gift card for Domino's and they have a good carryout deal for during the week.  Hm.  I think that deal is only Monday-Thursday, so we may scoot some things around.

What are you making this week?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Frugal Accomplishments - Two Week's Worth

Hello, dear friends!  I have not been a very good blogger this month - it's been hard for me to make or find the time to get here and share what we've been up to.  Here are our frugal accomplishments for this week and last week:

One of Husband's co-workers gave him a floor jack and some jack stands that he didn't want any longer.  Now that we have a garage, this will be really nice to have if we have repairs where we need things 'up'.

I accepted some sausage links prepared with apples from a neighbor.  Someone she works with brought them to share at work, and brought a she shared some with us.  It was a nice side with the roasted butternut squash soup we had that night for supper.

I was given five large pumpkins, all uncut.  Two had spots on them, so I smashed them for the hens.  The other three are stored in the pantry.  I will cut and roast them when I need pumpkin for recipes.

A friend gave me a pair of shoes that were not quite her size.  They fit me just right!  I passed on some shoes to someone else as well.

I made a couple more scarves to sell so I can raise funds for The Chicken Project - Coming Soon!  I also shared some yarn with a friend who is knitting for charity.

Turkeys have been 69 cents per pound here.  Better yet, Safeway sent me some personalized deals for my loyalty card that made them as low as 45 cents per pound (there were some coupon overages that helped get it that low).  Right now, I have six turkeys on hand.  One is small, for us to fry on Thanksgiving day, but the others are 18-22 pounds each.  I have one thawing now, and I'm going to grind as much of the meat as I can separate from the bones.  We will use the ground turkey for things like meatballs, taco meat and flavored turkey burgers.  Since 80% ground beef has been going on sale here for $3.49 a pound (sometimes more) this will be significant savings for us.  I'll put the frame in the crock pot afterward, strip the cooked meat and use it in recipes and make stock to can.  The freezer is very, very full, and we are very blessed!

Our Kroger affiliate has 'free Friday download' items some weeks.  The last time we were in the store we picked up free dog treats and Greek yogurt.  This week's download is a package of deli meat.

I've done plenty of scratch cooking and we've done a good job of using up leftovers. We've been shopping sales and stocking up - mostly on the turkey, but we've also got a couple of extra loaves of bread in the freezer and we added some baking supplies to our food pantry.

Several pharmacies in our area are offering gift cards if you transfer a prescription.  We have earned $75 in gift cards this month, which really, really helps with the grocery and household budget.

We completed the walkway from the driveway to the front door.  It's SO PRETTY!  I couldn't be happier with it if I tried!  We figured out that the pavers cost us 22 cents each, but I haven't counted to see how many we used for the walkway.  We took the cut/broken pavers when we bought them (they were purchased second-hand) and we ended up  using some of the cut pavers at the very end.  It was so nice to be able to use them instead of having to figure out how to cut pavers ourselves.

After all the pavers are in place, you cover the walk with fine sand and sweep it
into the crevices.  This locks the pavers in place and gives a finished look.
From the driveway to the house.  Now that the walkway is done,
everything to the left will be flowerbed.  Everything to the right
will be 'lawn'  (country lawn!).  We will remove the river stones
on the left and clean up the flowerbed area as time and weather permit.

I have been making our Christmas cards.  I don't know that this is the most frugal option, but I really do enjoy it.  I will share some photos in another post.

Daughter and I have been staying close to home.  It seems that the more time we spend at home, the smoother things go.  Life is more settled, we get more done, and we are happier.  We still do some errands during the week, but we are keeping it short and sweet, so that we are home more.

We are in the middle of a pretty extreme cold snap.  The day we finished the walkway was in the mid-sixties, and the next day was in the teens...and it's been colder from there, including some below-zero temperatures.  We are using our wood stove, which keeps the house nice and warm while saving on propane use.  We are dressing warmer, drinking more tea, having more soup and as I type this, I'm wearing my warm, snuggly shawl.  My Mother-in-law gave us three pair of knitted booties several months ago, and they really keep our feet toasty warm.

If one of us gets really chilled, I put the throw from the couch into the dryer for a couple minutes, then wrap the cold person in it.  Daughter has a small blanket that I warm in the dryer when I tuck her into bed, and she drifts off to sleep, all snug and warm.  I put the small blanket on her, then cover it up with her big covers.  I have flannel sheets and a very warm comforter on our bed, and it is nice and cozy.  We keep the house around 65 degrees, but on really cold days, it just feels colder, somehow.  It's good to have a few tricks for getting warm without turning on the furnace!

We have gotten books, movies and other media free from the library.  I discovered an author that I really, really like (Francine Rivers) and it has been so nice to enjoy library copies of her books.

I'm rooting some jade plant cuttings to make more plants.

I have cut my soda consumption significantly, and I'm drinking more water and tea.

I set back some of Daughter's candy from Halloween so I can use it in her advent calendar.   After I get the pockets of the advent calendar taken care of, we'll use the rest to decorate a gingerbread house.

We decided to have a smaller Christmas tree this year.  Taffy is still such a puppy, so a smaller tree that is up off the floor seems like a good plan.  Rather than purchase a new tree, Husband is planning to make a stand that will hold the top two sections of the tree we already have.  If that does not work as planned, my friend told me she has a spare 4 foot tree we can borrow for this season.

I spent some time on Pinterest pinning ideas for some Christmas gifts and crafts we can make with pine cones.  We have quite a few pine trees on the property that will supply us with raw materials.  I would tell you how to find, or follow me on Pinterest if I knew how.

I washed our clothes with homemade laundry soap and fabric softener I got for free with a gift card.  I used drying racks and/or the clotheslines to dry our clothes.

We replaced two tires on our car.  The other two were still in decent shape.  Husband called around for the best price before we decided which tires to get, and where.

What about you?  What have you done to spend less, save more and make do?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Meal Plan - First week of November

Hi, all!  Happy November!  Here is our supper menu for this week:

M - kahula pork, rice, slaw, apples
T - fried chicken, baked beans, broccoli, pineapple
W - chili, rice or baked potato, oranges
R - BLT sandwiches, bean soup, grapes
F - salmon patties, rice, carrot-raisin salad, pineapple
S - taco salads, oranges
S - ribs, sweet corn, slaw, apples (If you're thinking that, hm, didn't they just have ribs last week?, well, no, we didn't, because it was too windy to do the charcoal grill.)

But...wait...what about that Trim Healthy Mama thing?  Yes, about that.  It is not a terribly complicated plan, in my opinion.  Eat protein every time you eat, and also eat either fats (and very few carbs) or some carbs (and very little fat).  Yes, there is more to it than that, but that is the foundation of the plan, right there. is what happened Sunday morning.  It was pancake Sunday, so I made pancakes.  I made half a recipe of the recipe I always make, for Husband and Daughter, and they had them with real maple syrup.  Then, I made some Trim Healthy Mama pancakes for me.  I didn't much care for them.  I also didn't much care for the sugar-free syrup.  Also, even though both were pancakes, it was like cooking two separate meals.  Truth be told, I am a little discouraged with trying to do it for the whole-family meals.

My intent, for now, is to work at breakfast, lunch and snacks, and not worry as much about supper.  I am going to watch portions closely for suppertime, and adapt where I can (and by 'can' I mean where I feel motivated to do so).  For me, skipping rice isn't too hard, really - I can take it or leave it - but chili, on a baked potato?  I think I'll probably have that.  I've also learned some things from the book that help me see some things I can do to make our meals healthier without huge, drastic changes.  I'll try to share more when I have a better grasp of what and why.

I also wanted to tell you that I stopped drinking soda a little over a week ago.  Ten days ago, actually.  When that all started, I told myself that I could have soda once a week, because whenever I say 'never', I fail.  So, last Saturday, I had some soda.  It didn't taste as good as I thought it would, and I felt kind of oogy after drinking it.  It was a disappointment.  This, for me, is a big big deal.  That is one thing I can say is that following this plan, even in a less strict sense, has made sugar a bit overwhelming for me.  I'm not perfectly following the rules, but I do think I'm making some progress.

Ok, so that is our plan and then my little soapbox-y bit on why I'm not fully converted to Trim Healthy Mama.  Have a great week - and share what's on the menu at your place!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Frugal Accomplishments - End of October

We made a menu and did our cooking at home (except, Costco rotisserie'd a chicken for me!).  Every few days, I would take any remaining leftover odds and ends and put them on the table at supper.  Often, there was just a single serving of something left, so one of us would have carrots, another would have green beans, a third would have waldorf salad, but that way, nothing went to waste.

Our homemade Halloween Jack-o-Lantern pizza.

I had a 'town day' this week and combined several errands to make better use of our time and gasoline.  I also learned that the place where I was getting my glasses and eye exam had a new location that was much closer to all my other errands, and I was able to switch to that location, which saved a little more time and fuel.  I used a half-off coupon at the craft store for something I will be using for some Christmas gifts, and I picked up some autumn and halloween rubber stamps for .45 each.

I've been trying to get a turkey fryer set for the past several weeks, preferably used.  This week, I got a set, used once, for $20.  They are selling rather high in our area, even used, so I am very happy with this purchase.  Husband wants to try frying a turkey this year, so now we are ready.  They can also be used to do shrimp boil, and I am thinking that if I can turn the burner low enough, I could make tamales in the big pot.  (If not, I could use the big pot on my stovetop for the tamales.)  If you have other ideas or suggestions, please leave me a comment!

I got an igloo-style dog house for Taffy this week on freecycle.  She is uncertain about the door flap, but I think we can help her get past that with some treats.

I've been giving Taffy a bath once a week, both to keep her clean and to get her used to the idea.  So far, she fits in the laundry tub in our basement, but I don't know if that will always be true.  I just use human shampoo, and it seems to be fine for her.  I trimmed her nails this week, for the second time, and it was much easier than the first time.

We got books and movies from the library.  We really, really love the library.

It was pretty weather most of the week and I was able to hang the laundry on the clothesline.  I used our homemade laundry soap too.

We are going to 'bell train' Taffy so that she can let us know when she needs to go outside, so I made these for the front and back door of our house.  I had everything on hand, so there was no cost.

Apparently, macrame' and braiding are both like riding a bike!

We made some halloween decorations for the front step from milk cartons, sharpies and glow in the dark bracelets.  They are a bit of a pinterest fail (not as bright as I expected), but we had fun.

We also used sharpies and shrinky dink plastic to make ID tags for the dog.  Fun!

I hope you had a great week, and a great October.  Don't forget to share your frugal accomplishments in the comments!