Monday, December 1, 2014

Frugal Accomplishments - Week of Thanksgiving

Nine pints of poultry stock.
There are two weekends included in this posting, so it's a long one!!

Last weekend, my girlfriend invited me along to a clothing swap at our school district's virtual academy.  I didn't really expect to find anything, but I was wrong!  I got a pair of gray jeans and a silk scarf for myself and a western shirt, tank top and a sweater for Daughter.  There were lots of nice items available, and many happy families getting clothing.  That same friend shared some clothing that she no longer needed, some for me and some for Daughter.  I am going to try my best not to wear the green sweater she gave me every. single. day.  (It's so pretty!!)

On our family town errand day, we went to the new 'outlet' Goodwill.  It was....interesting.  There are big shallow bins full of clothing, small appliances, toys, etc.  You have to rummage through and find what you want.  The items are sold by the pound (most items are .89 per pound).  They wheel out new bins every 15 minutes or so, and when they wheel them out,  no one is allowed to touch them until they say 'go'.  From what we gathered, this is because there were issues with people being too aggressive, but what we saw this day was just a lot of hovering and waiting over the newly released items.  We didn't really participate in that part of the experience, and stayed by the 'older' bins.  We spent about $7.50 and got quite a few things.  Daughter got a foam-coated baseball bat, a Ty stuffed kitty and a long stuffed snake, both like new.  She also got a sweater and a really nice nice that I have joked about trading with her.  I found a vintage teacup and saucer, a chicken wire basket, a shopping bag and a North Face backpack, and Husband found a 4 cup coffee maker.  Everything cleaned up nicely.  I made some minor repairs to the backpack as well.  At another Goodwill store, Husband got jigsaw puzzles to send to his parents, and we got a big, heavy dog dish for outside water.  Taffy has managed to upend everything I've put outside with water in it.  Hopefully, this one will solve the problem for $1.99!!

We are watching the local grocery sales and stocking up when there is a really good deal.  This past week we got 10 pound bags of potatoes for .99 and onions for .39 a pound.  I also found avocados for .50 each.  We combined a sale and coupons to get Chex mix for Husband's snacks at .50 per bag.  We paid .99 for a head of romaine lettuce, too!

It is cold again, so we are heating with our wood stove.  This saves us a lot of expense for propane.  We get the wood free, then cut it and split it to size.

I sold a few household items on a local buy-sell-trade page on Facebook.  They were items we no longer needed, and will be useful for their new owners as well.  win-win!

blueberry muffins
I did a fair amount of scratch cooking this week.  One to try, if you never have, is oven fries.  All I do is scrub the potatoes, slice them into fries (we like them skin-on but you can peel them if you want).  Rinse and drain, then drizzle with a little oil to coat the potatoes.  I spray the pan with nonstick spray, sprinkle it with a little salt and then add the potatoes to the pan.  I bake them at 425 degrees, turning every so often with the spatula.  They will brown and crisp toward the end of cooking.  The time to cook depends upon how thick the fries are, how many are in the pan, etc.  Ours are medium thick and take about 30-40 min., but we are at high altitude, and everything takes longer to cook.  The fries are super tasty - great potato flavor - and you can add other spices and seasonings of your choice!

To make some space in the freezer, I thawed, then canned, 9 pints of chicken/turkey stock.  I had a little left over, so I used it in place of water in the Mexican rice I made this week.

I have been debating getting a carpet cleaner for a few years, but decided it is time.  I think that by having one here at home, I can clean a single room, instead of renting one and trying to do all the rooms at once (there are not enough hard surfaces to hold all the furniture for that!)  I looked them up on consumer reports (free via our library website) and then polled my fellow homemaker friends.  My friend Lana suggested that I put it on my 'wish list' on Amazon (they had the best price) and watch the price for a bit.  We started at $ went down to $119...then up to $160...then back to $119.  Meanwhile, someone put one on a local buy-sell-trade page on facebook, free to a good home.  It does not have the attachments, but I can order those if I want them.  Free is a great price!

On Thursday, Husband said that he wouldn't mind getting a good smoker second-hand, and asked me if they ever have them on the buy-sell-trade page.  I told him they rarely do, and when they do, they are gone in a flash.  Friday, someone posted one - parents had moved away, and the smoker needed a good home.  We picked it up Saturday.  It needs to be wire-brushed on the outside and painted with high-temp paint (which we have).  The inside is in excellent (but dirty) condition.  I told him, Merry Christmas!, hee hee.

We got books from the library.  I also chose some magazines from the free bin by the entrance.  I will return them when I'm done with them, so someone else can have a turn.

I accepted a free subscription to Redbook magazine from Mercury Magazines.  I know it's a women's magazine, but I haven't read it since I was a little kid and used to read my mom's.  Whether it's a 'fit' for me or not, I'll take them to the library when I am done with them.

I participated in a survey for Pinecone Research and earned $3.

My friend invited me to go Black Friday shopping with her, and I did!  We left around 5am.  It was kind of fun, in a sleepy sort of way.  I got some craft supplies for 50% off.

Our dozing puppy is growing like a weed!
We did some shopping on Small Business Saturday.   If you have an American Express card/account, you could sign up for $10 in rebate (on a purchase of $10 or more) at up to three participating small business retailers.  Husband and I both signed up (we have separate accounts), so we received a total of $60 in savings.  We purchased dog food and chicken feed at the feed store, then we each did a transaction at the Asian market and stocked up on dark sesame oil, seasoned rice vinegar, nori and some produce.  We had lunch at our favorite Chinese restaurant and Husband got a tasty liqueur to make special beverages for the holidays.

After our tasty Chinese food, we checked out the newly opened Goodwill retail outlet.  This is not the one I mentioned above, it is a standard retail store.  It seems like when they open a new location, there are a lot of really nice items.  We found new and like-new boots and coats for everyone, along with a couple of books for daughter and a photo frame.  We are set for a while!

Our kitchen stove had been acting up.  The burner I use the most wasn't lighting from the spark, so I was using one of those long, rod-type lighters to light the burner.  We thought about having a repair person out...we even looked at new stoves.  One night after supper, we pretty well tore the stovetop apart.  Husband noticed that the spark ignitor on that burner was slightly different from the others.  He made a temporary adjustment and it began to work much better.  He ordered the part on Amazon (paid for it with Swagbucks!) and replaced it when the part arrived.  Meanwhile...the back of the stove was looking worn - it is black paint over aluminum and there were places where the silver showed through at edges.  I cleaned it really well, then colored over the silver parts with a black sharpie.  Then I wiped it down and polished it with furniture polish.  Now it works great and looks better too!


  1. That's a lot of great frugal accomplishments! I especially love the stuff you managed to get for free. FREE is so great, isn't it?!

    When it comes to keeping an eye a price on Amazon in hopes of getting it cheaper at some point, you should check out Camel, Camel, Camel.( It's really helpful!

  2. I have one of those 'outlet' Goodwill stores near me, and I find it's a great place for craft supplies. I've bought slightly damaged sweaters and sewed them into mittens. If I find a piece of clothing with really nice buttons, I've gotten it just for the buttons. I once bought a pocketbook in terrible condition for the hardware on it, and used it to make another pocketbook.

    I'll have to check out Camel, Camel, Camel. I use to keep tabs on Amazon prices.

    Great post!

  3. What a list!

    I am glad it all worked out on the carpet cleaner! You will love the smoker. We have had one for 25 plus years. They are always grody inside because of the smoke. When we use ours we put the water pan and racks in the dishwasher to wash all alone. It is the best and easiest way to clean up all of the greasy soot.

    We did small business Saturday, too. Breakfast out and pizza for supper combined with a certificate. We ended up with 3 big pizzas for $8. We have 14 lunch servings in the freezer after eating it twice over the weekend. The other credits went to the liquor and wine store. I got a giant bottle of vodka for tinctures and extracts for $2 and then we got some very nice wines that we would not normally spend the money for.

    Our turkey got made into broth and then ladled into containers and chilled in the screen porch over night to avoid heating up the fridge or freezer. I froze 5 containers on stuffing, turkey and gravy for later and put turkey into 3 of the containers of broth for turkey and rice or noodles later.

    We got an estimate for installing our RainHandler gutter system. It will come out to about $2400 for the whole project and water will no longer be running down the house walls and rotting the wood on our house. The gutter system is poorly designed and just cannot handle the amount of roof that we have. We had an estimate for gutter guard gutters a few years ago and that came in at $8000. This is a huge savings and this system works better than gutter guard gutters.

    I am continuing to find smaller clothing in what I already have as I get smaller. I have found that wearing a tank under my shirts and tucking them in helps slightly too big pants to stay up!

    I planned my menus for the week so that I am on top of meals and using up what we have. I am still shopping the deals but they are slowing down now for which I am thankful! I have potatoes and onions and sweet potatoes in the garage and hopefully they will keep for a bit. My cupboards are crammed with flour and sugar and baking supplies.

    We have had a couple of warm days so I have opened up windows to let warmer air into the house and get out the winter musties which I hate.

    I have found that our local grocery store with Fuelperks gives 15 cents a gallon for $50 gas cards. Also on Black Friday they were giving 25 cents for each $50 card. We used all available gas money to get cards and now I have $1.60 in Fuel rewards banked. We will continue to do it this way as we spend that money anyway. Gas prices are all over the place around town but Sam's Club is down to $2.14 here. Our vehicles do not like Sam's gas but to me it shows that it is still going down. Yay! This will really help with Christmas travel.

    Have a good week everyone!


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