Sunday, January 18, 2015

Frugal Accomplishments and Blessings for Mid-January (Menu too!)

This was taken several days after the snow had fallen.
We were blessed with lots of beautiful snow last Sunday night.  On Monday, we played in the snow and made snow cream.  Do you know about snow cream?  This is how you make it:

1.  Put a food container out in the snow, up high where dogs can't get it.  This container should hold way more snow than you think you need.  Let it fill with new-fallen snow.  (Alternately, you can scoop up snow, being careful that none of it has tracks in it...and that none of it is dirty, or yellow.)

2.  Add cold milk, sugar and vanilla to your snow, and stir.  It will 'shrink' a lot.  There is no real measurement for this, so start with a little, and add gradually.

3.  When it becomes like a white slushie, taste for sweetness/vanilla and adjust if needed.  Serve immediately.  Warning:  Snow cream can give you a frozen brain headache!!

Minifigs with cocoa, warming up in front of the fire after skiing in the snow.
(Can you see the flames, deep in the fireplace?)

When I shoveled the front walk, I put the extra snow onto the perennials in my flowerbed.

I got credit for three surveys this week, all from Pinecone Research.  I also took one more survey.

I contracted with the local library district to do three chicken programs in March of this year.  They are really, really fun, and they help us financially as well.

See the Great Horned Owl?  He's sitting atop the center tree at sunset.

We heated with our wood stove to save on propane.  I also warmed our meals on the wood stove when it was feasible, to reduce our propane use.  It also made me feel a little like Laura Ingalls, which always makes me happy.

I used the drying racks to dry our clothes.  I washed them in homemade laundry soap.  Our washing machine is being wonky.  It stopped mid-wash on Monday, because the little sensor that tells my machine that the lid is down has a crack, so it had moved out of line.  I dis-connected it from the body of the machine, and stood there holding the little lever in place while the clothes spun, just to finish washing that load of clothes.  Husband used a strong epoxy to re-attach the broken piece of the sensor.  Once it was set, he re-installed it, and all is well.  We already had the epoxy on hand, so there was zero cost.

Raarrrr!  Snort!  Groooowwwwlll!!!  Raaarrr!  At least, that's what I hear.
Daughter plays a Wii game called Skylanders.  This week, she got 8 of the characters second-hand for $15.  She used some of her birthday and Christmas money to pay for them.  Buying them second-hand saved her a lot, and buying them locally also saved her shipping.  The 'trick' to all this, if there is one, is that she is playing, and enjoying a game that is 'old news' to a lot of the they cost far less than they did when they were the new, hot thing.

I made lasagna this past week.  I've stopped using lasagna noodles, simply because I ran out.  I cooked up some wide noodles instead, and you know what?  It's easier to assemble, it's easier to cut/eat, and we like the texture of the dish better.  I just put some (cooked) noodles down, then the cheesy layer, then more noodles, and then sauce.  Bake, then top with cheese and bake a little more.  It's become a favorite for us.

Taffy gets prettier every day!
Taffy went to the spay-neuter clinic this week and had her spay surgery.  She is doing great, and two of the technicians said she was so sweet that they wanted to take her home.  We also had them do her rabies vaccine (that one doesn't 'count' if I do it at home), and the total was just under $100.  I hear that going to a full-service vet in our area would be 2-3 times that amount, just for the spay surgery.  The clinic has been in operation for almost 35 years, and has a very good reputation.  They did an exam, asked questions of me about her history, even called the day after surgery.  We are very pleased with them.

Taffy's get-well present.

I went a little wild this week, and bought myself a butter bell.  It was second hand, and I used some of my spending money to pay for it.  We do keep our butter on the counter, and a butter bell is supposed to keep the butter fresh a really long time, even in summer when the temperatures are warm.  Since we don't go through butter very quickly, this is useful.

We were in the right part of town on the right day, so I went to the LDS Home Storage Center and bought a 25 pound bag of dehydrated refried beans.  We use them for refried beans (of course), in burritos, taco salad, to make bean dip, and I have used them to thicken chili and soups.  They are very affordable, and we really like them.  It is $29 for 25 pounds.  I have never weighed them before and after rehydrating them, but they really expand a lot and go a long, long way.  I also splurged and got a little bag of the potato pearls.  I have always heard they are good, and I have always wanted to try them.

We picked up books, movies and media when we went to the library.  There are some bins in the entry with magazines that are free for the taking.  I picked out several, since these are titles we don't usually see.  When I am done with them I'll pass them on to friends or donate them back to the library.

When friends came to play on Thursday, I made popcorn and sliced apples and oranges for snack.  Popcorn is filling (and whole grain!) and sliced fruit reduces waste, because the individual pieces are smaller.  None of the children ate a whole piece of fruit - if I had given them whole pieces, there likely would have been some waste.

A friend gave me some sliced rice cake rounds that she does not think she will ever use.  They are frozen...we think they are to add to stir fry.  I have never used them, but I will do some research and give them a try.  The same friend had a birthday party for her daughter this week, and sent leftover sandwiches home with us.  I made a card for the birthday girl, and used sealing wax to put a paw print on the front.  This was my first time using sealing wax - I like the effect!

The folks from the raptor rescue program came out on Friday to hunt.  We spent two hours out in the snowy fields, flushing rabbits out of the bushes and from under the trees.  Still no catches, but Roxanne, the Harris Hawk, is getting more comfortable with her surroundings (and with us).  Nike, the Prairie Falcon, is mostly learning to fly to a lure, so she is not really hunting.  The entire time, Daughter and I were learning more about the characteristics and habitats of both birds, along with the history of falconry.  It is a wonderful opportunity!

I am starting to think about the garden, and what to plant this spring.  I know I want to grow lots of greens, so I picked up kale, spinach and chard seeds at Dollar Tree.  I think I already have seeds for everything else I want to grow.  Packets there were .25 each.

I made bread again this week.  I had thought that the bread I made last week would last longer, but I was wrong.  We have all the ingredients on hand, so there was no out-of-pocket expense to make it, just the use of pantry ingredients.  It is a multigrain bread, similar to the one I made last week.
This recipe says it makes two loaves, but I have smaller bread pans,
resulting in three loaves of tasty bread!
I picked up a large package of the fruit for fruitcake, on markdown for $1.  I also got a red bell pepper for 34 cents, some fresh green beans for .99/lb., a pack of pepperoni for $2, and a slab of ribs that was on markdown for $1.70 a pound.  Husband was wanting to make ribs, so this works out well!  I also bought tater tots that were on sale, 2lb. for $1. We are trying to eat better, and I think we are doing good overall...but tater tots!  Oops.  I didn't buy a lot this week - we still have a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables on hand from previous weeks.

Here is the dinner menu for the coming week, too!

S - barbecue ribs, slaw, baked beans, baked apples
M - char siu lo mein with vegetables, kimchee, sliced oranges
T - cheese enchiladas, Mexican rice, broccoli, sliced apples
W - homemade chicken noodle soup w/crackers, garden salad, canned pears
R - calzones (makes 8, so extras for the freezer), marinara sauce, apple-carrot-raisin salad
F - lentil curry with vegetables over rice, sliced oranges
S - leftovers

I also plan to make babaganoush, blueberry muffins, and possibly some fruit and nut energy balls with the fruitcake fruit in them.  (I have to find a recipe to work from on that last one!)

How was your week?  What did you do to spend less, save more and make do?  I'd love to read about what you're doing these days - leave a comment if you will!


  1. I saw that you had asked about my ham and bean soup so I thought I would post it here.
    Put ham bone in crock pot with one quart chicken stock and one 28 ounce can diced tomatoes and dimmer on low for 4-6 hours
    Turn to high and add
    2-3 ribs chopped celery
    1 cup chopped carrots
    2 medium potatoes
    1 can red kidney beans
    Simmer on low for 2 additional hours
    Makes 5-6 generous servings

    My granddaughter was in the hospital this week and that pot of soup was my supper on the nights I didn't stay over, what a blessing it was.
    She had surgery to remove her gall bladder and is out of the hospital and well on the road to recovery.
    While at the hospital I was grateful for the Ronsld McDonald parent's lounge and their free coffee and snacks.
    Keeping an eagle eye on my electric use as our rates just went up 23%!
    Hope to do more frugal things this week and pray it is a quiet one. Heck I'll even settle for boring!
    Love and God bless,

  2. Thank you for the recipe, Helen. I will continue to pray for your family, for your grand-daughter's healing and that you have a nice, quiet, boring week! :)

  3. Taffy is becoming a beautiful dog! We have seen a great horned owl on our property in the last few months, too. They are so quietly beautiful. I like the Lego fireplace scene!

    We are having some milder weather here which allows outdoor chores to be caught up on and saves on the utilities. It will be 60 today! We are blessed to have been able to hire our 11 year old neighbor boy to do some outside chores for us. He is a hard worker and completely cleared the acre of yard that we mow of downed limbs and sticks. We were tickled to get that chore done and he was so happy to earn some money. Hubby said to keep a list of chores for him to do. He can come and work for us on Fridays each week. His parents said to pay him $4 an hour and he certainly earned it.

    My sister owns a lawn business in central Florida and works for well off retirees. Those ladies are constantly cleaning out their closets and giving her huge bags of expensive clothing. I brought home some of those bags after Christmas and my older daughter and I went through them. I have established a 'skinny' closet in one of our guest rooms. I have those clothing items plus ones I have purchased from the 50 cent racks at a favorite thrift store in that closet for later as I get thinner. The clothing from my sister was a real blessing with items such as jeans and light jackets.

    I bought apples for .59 a pound, 85% lean ground turkey for $2.39 for a 20.8 ounce package, large bags of potato chips for 50 cents, half pound pkgs of good lunch meat for 50 cents, cucumbers for .29, grape tomatoes for .99 a pint, Oreos for hubby's lunches for $1.48 a pkg and clementines for 2.98 for 3 pounds. A new Papa John's pizza opened near us and they had a special 2 topping lg pizza for $4. I cannot make pizza with all that meat for $4 so that was a great deal. We ate it for two meals. We are doing well with using up what we have on hand and wasted almost no food last week.

    We did not eat out for nine days straight!!! We did go out for breakfast on Saturday and really enjoyed it after such a long break. Hubby and I both signed up for Honey Baked Ham's emails and received a coupon for a free sandwich. We plan to use them for lunch on Thursday when Hubby works from home. We still have a free sandwich and lg drink on our Chick fil A calender cards to use before the end of the month. (We got two calenders each for this year.)

    We continue to clean out around here. I have two large boxes ready to be donated. I have the hard decision of deciding what to keep for the grandchildren to play with and what to get rid of. I may end up having to save toys and then clean out from that batch again later. Our adult children have said that they want us to keep some certain toys but do not want them at their house. Grrr....we cannot keep them all!

    I canned black beans, 8 pints and 2 half pints of pinto beans. The pintos were a trial to see how it works in half pint jars and they turned out great. I just ran them in the canner with the pints of black beans. They are a good size for for Mexican meals and taco salads. I am very happy with the results. I had a few partially cooked beans that did not fit in the jars so I combined them and finished cooking them for Saturday's lunch. I added a bit of brown sugar and BBQ sauce and served them with bread and butter and some grape tomatoes.

    Our menu-
    S-Italian style Salisbury Steaks served over bow-tie pasta, peas and salad
    M-one pot goulash, sauteed zucchini and onions, salad
    T-grilled smoked sausage, sauteed peppers and onions, oven potato wedges, coleslaw
    W-leftover goulash from Monday, oven roasted fresh green beans, salad
    TR-tilapia, baked potatoes, coleslaw and hush puppies
    FR-tacos, refried beans from the freezer, tortilla chips and salsa
    ST-we have another coupon for a lg, 2 topping pizza for $4 from Papa John's, baby carrots and dip

    Helen, your soup recipe sounds like something we would enjoy. Thanks!

    Have a frugal week everyone!

    1. Daughter is tickled that you like her lego creation! I'm really glad you found someone to help with the yard work - that is win-win! We are having a milder day or two here as well...the wood stove gets a rest (and I get a break from all the vacuuming/maintenance that it requires) and all the snow we had is melting into the earth, which is really good for our plants and trees. Sounds like you had a great week, Lana - thanks for sharing with us! :)

  4. Hi Laura. I have been subscribed to your blog for some time and thoroughly enjoy reading about your frugal journey but this is my first time to comment (i think). Taffy is so cute. I have 4 little furry kids myself. Last week I cooked a ham and saved the broth( I cook it in the crock pot). So yesterday I made a huge pot of Pinto beans and used the ham broth to cook them in. They were yummy! I also used up some leftover taco fixins to make a mexican casserole with some stale tortilla chips I had in the pantry. It was very good. I love using up leftovers and creating a new dish. I didn't have any sour cream so I used ranch dressing and the kids loved it. They usually aren't really fond of my leftover dishes just because they know they are from leftovers but they loved this one. I vow to never let chips go stale again so when a bag is opened I will use cleaned pickle jars to put them in and vaccum seal them. I've done this in the past but have gotten a little lazy here lately but will get on the ball again. I hate wasting food, even junk food.

    1. I'm so glad you posted, Saundra! I like to re-make leftovers too! It seems like when I just heat something up from before, it is not as well received....but if I take some leftover turkey and then add a dressing and make Asian lettuce wraps, it's a 'new' meal and everyone is happy. I am forever substituting this for that (like your ranch dressing in place of sour cream), so you are not alone in that, either. I've never vacuum sealed chips. It is very dry here, so they have to be out a long time to get stale. If they do, I just put them in a low oven for a couple of minutes - that's another way to refresh them. Thanks again for sharing your comment with us! :)

  5. Hi Laura, i have a butter bell and love it. The butter does stay fresh no matter what the weather.I love reading your weekly frugal post! Blessings to your family from ours,Denise

    1. Thanks Denise! Maybe I will start the butter bell now instead of later! Thank you for your kind words. :)

  6. My car insurance is due at the end of the month, and finally after 12 years with the same company, I took time to get quotes elsewhere. I ended up switching to another provider for $223 less per six months, with increased coverage amounts, a deductible savings account and roadside assistance! I'm working on comparing home insurance rates with this same company so that I qualify for a multi-policy discount. So far it looks like I could save $211 over twelve months for the same amount of coverage that I have now. Sometimes I could just kick myself for not researching these options sooner! So in this same vein, I've been researching the costs of an eye exam and contacts, both online and in my area, in order to get the best possible value.

    Have a great week!

    1. It seems like companies will give a better deal to win a new customer. We have found that if we switch every so often, our costs are lower than if we were to stay with a company long-term. Saving over $425 a year is great - I hope it works out for you! :)

  7. Laura, Taffy is indeed a beautiful girl. I've been fascinated too about your having the raptors coming in to hunt the land there. When we moved here, our land was clear and we had hawks hatching young here and teaching them to fly. It was so cool to watch! Now we see them gliding on breezy days, catching those air currents but they no longer hunt here since the land has grown up into trees.
    I posted my week's frugal doing here:

    1. We have a combination of trees/shrubbery and open spaces. The trick with these particular raptors is that they are rescue animals, used to being fed, and so they are not necessarily as interested in hunting as a wild raptor might be. It's fascinating, learning each bird's history, goals, etc. It's been a fantastic opportunity. :)

  8. Laura, love reading your blog! You will love the potato pearls! They are so easy and yummy! Thanks for all the ideas. Teri

    1. Thank you, Teri - I am eager to try them soon! I hope you find things here that make your day a better one. :)

  9. Thanks for mentioning the seeds that you bought at Dollar Tree. I always miss when they put out the displays because I rarely go there and have to content myself with the picked over selection when all they have left are radish and a few flower seeds! Because of your post, I went to my Dollar Tree today in search of the seeds; the display was out and full and I totally went overboard by buying... 26 packets! I already have a ton of seeds but those were mostly seeds I didn't have or needed to restock. Anyhoo, it only cost me $6.50 or less than what I would have paid for just 2 packets at this weekend when they had the free shipping offer.

    I also liked the LEGO creation and your bread looks delicious. Have a great week!

    1. I'm so glad you were able to find what you needed in the seed selection! I noticed that most of the ones at my store were labeled as heirloom seeds, so we ought to be able to save the seeds for upcoming years. That is something that I am going to try and learn more about.

      Thanks for your kind words, Nathalie, and I hope you have a great week too!

  10. The bread you baked turned out beautifully!

    This week my biggest frugal accomplishment was mixing up concrete and repairing the masonry work on my outdoor fireplace instead of hiring someone else to do it. It has been raining here in the southeast A LOT and I'm just so happy I had a day sunny and dry enough to do it. Now I just need a few weekends like this so I can battle all the leaves in the yard!


Thank you for joining the conversation! I moderate the comments, so please be patient - they will appear as soon as I have read them!