Sunday, January 11, 2015

Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments and Blessings (Plus Menu!)

I really like the idea of talking about Frugal Accomplishments and Blessings.  I got the idea from The Prudent Homemaker, whose blog and website are beautiful, inspirational and educational.  I count it, and her, among my many blessings!

I took Daughter to a free library program about raptors (birds of prey).  It was a really great program, but it just kept getting better!  Daughter really, really likes birds, and has learned a lot about them.  After the program we were talking to the presenters about her love of birds, where we live, etc.  In the end, we brought them all home with us, and they let one of the hawks and one of the falcons do a little hunting on our little farm.  It was an amazing experience to talk with the falconers and learn even more about these amazing raptors.  Neither bird caught anything, but they were mostly getting a sense of the lay of the land, and teaching us how to help flush out rabbits.  (We are overrun with rabbits.)  They plan to return and hunt again, and were nice enough to let Daughter participate.  It was amazing, and we are really looking forward to next time they can come!

Nike is a Prairie Falcon.

Nike, in flight to one of the handlers.

Nike wanted to 'play' rather than hunt.  She was having a good time!

Also, we borrowed books and media from the library.

We used our wood stove to heat our home and save on propane use.

I used homemade laundry soap and dried our clothes on wooden drying racks in our basement.

A friend of mine was kind enough to watch Daughter on the day I had to go speak at the Planning Commission hearing.  Having a friend that you trust with your children is such a blessing.  While I could have taken Daughter with me, she would have been just as miserable as all the rest of us that were there.  It was a very, very long hearing.  I was there from 9am to about 4pm....I left at that time because I had given my talk and there was literally  nothing more that I could do.  The hearing continued until 8:45 that night.  For those of you that are curious, the Planning Commission's recommendation was for denial of the changes to the project.  This is encouraging...sort of.  The final say comes from the Board of County Commissioners.  They may, or may not, take the Planning Commission's recommendation under consideration.  Those of us that are involved in this process have a lot of work to do in the next few weeks.  Your prayers are appreciated.

We did some stocking up this past week.  I bought 25 pounds of long grain white rice.  It will last us a very long time, and the price was considerably better than buying it in a smaller amount.  Also, it came in a woven sack that I can make into a tote bag.  We also got organic apples for .99 a pound, 2 lb. bags of carrots for .99, leaf lettuce (romaine) for .88 a head, onions for .34 a pound and broccoli for .98 a pound.  Milk is 1.99 a gallon this week.  We found organic coconut palm sugar on the markdown shelf for 1.99 a pound.  I bought 6 pounds, which ought to last us a long while.  It does not raise blood sugar the way that cane sugar does, and it has more of the minerals still intact.  It is most definitely more costly than cane sugar, but we are trying to use healthier ingredients when and where we are able.

I used sales/double coupons to get 20-24 oz. bottles of Dawn dish soap for 1.40 each, which is a good price (here) for that size container.  I got a 4 pack of TP for .35 after sale and double coupon, and I got a tube of Colgate toothpaste free after sale and double coupon.

I ground up two turkey thighs (no skin) and used them the way we would use ground beef.  I made some taco meat that we used for taco salads, and seasoned the rest and cooked it for Shepherd's pie.  The Shepherd's pie is on the menu for this week, so I froze that meat to keep it fresh.  Right now, ground beef is about 3.99 a pound here for 80% lean (that is on sale).  I paid .49-.79 a pound for the turkeys.  I wrapped and froze the bones and skin to put in the stock pot the next time I make stock.

Daughter did a great job shaping this loaf.  Homemade bread,
homemade strawberry is good!
I baked bread this week too.  I have a recipe we like, that I sort-of followed.  It calls for oats, but I used a multi-grain rolled cereal mix that I had in the pantry.  Where it called for butter, I used coconut oil, because I am able to get coconut oil for less than butter.  I used honey in place of the molasses, because I have a lot more honey on hand than molasses.  I actually reduced both the coconut oil and the honey and added two eggs, because I have a lot of eggs and need to use them.  I used a combination of unbleached all purpose flour and freshly-milled hard white and hard red wheat.  The recipe is supposed to make two loaves of bread, but we shape it into four smaller loaves.  We ate some of one loaf, I sliced the rest of it and another, then I froze two for upcoming weeks.  Daughter shaped one of the loaves for me and did a beautiful job!

Here is the recipe for that bread.  This cookbook is from the Good Shepherd United Methodist Church in Murray, KY.

I bought some things at Michaels and used a 50% off coupon and a 40% off coupon.  I really need to ban myself from craft stores....sigh.  Husband and I each get 'allowance' each month - some money we can spend any way we like (or save, or give away - it is up to use how we use it), and that is the money I spend, but I am feeling the need to challenge myself to use what's on hand and be more resourceful.

I took on about 10 hours of subbing at the library for the month of January.  It is not a lot, but it does help us financially.

We recently got new brakes for our truck.  We didn't really have a good feeling about the place we used, when all was said and done.  This week, the parking brake stopped working.  We took it back to the same place, because we expected them to fix what they quite possibly set too tight, but they said it was broken and would be nearly $200 to repair.  No, thank you.  For now, we are going to chock the wheels when we park (I found two pieces of firewood in our wood pile that will work perfectly.).  We have been watching some repair videos on YouTube and we will very likely do the repair ourselves when the weather warms up.  We do not drive the truck that often and we feel like this will work just fine for us.

Husband fixed the outdoor water hydrant that was 'stuck'.  He is AWESOME.

Here is the dinner menu for this week.  Having a menu planned helps me use what I have on hand, and there is less waste.  It's also a big stress-reliever for me, because I know early in the day what is supposed to happen that evening:

M:  lasagna casserole made w/Italian sausage, saute'ed zucchini, fresh pineapple
T:   shoyu turkey, rice, kimchee, mixed vegetable stir fry, sliced oranges
W:  tuna salad on salad greens w/shredded cheddar, toasted homemade bread, sliced apples
R:   grilled cheese on homemade bread, homemade tomato soup, fresh pineapple
F:   smothered steak fajita burritos, shredded lettuce w/tomato, guacamole, salsa and tortilla chips
S:   leftovers, or maybe pizza and salad
S:   shepherd's pie made with ground turkey and vegetables, sliced oranges

I will be making some egg salad we can eat for lunches, and I'll make some popcorn for snacks. We have lots of fresh fruits and vegetables for snacks too, and plenty of granola, yogurt, cereal, oatmeal, etc. for breakfasts.

How was  your week?  What did you do to spend less, save more and make do?  Comments are welcome!


  1. I really look forward to this post every week. So much of what I've learned about frugality has come from you.
    Today I made ham and bean soup with a ham bone that my dil WAS GOING TO THROW OUT after Christmas dinner. I also got 3 packages of ham for meals from it. The soup is cooling now and once divided it will be 4 meals.
    I have reduced the amount of shampoo I use when washing my hair with the same results. The bottle I bought is now going into it's 3rd month
    My youngest daughter handed up/down some towels to me as she got sets of new ones from her Geand mil to be for Christmas
    This saved me from buying a couple at Savers since I only had 4 and sometimes my arthritis keeps me from washing clothes as often as needed.
    Got toilet paper on sale for less than 50 cents
    Have not turned the tv on in 2 days(reading) and I make sure to unplug from the wall everything that is not in use.
    Love and God bless,

    1. Helen, I am so happy that you have found useful ideas and strategies that work for you in your situation! Do you have a recipe for your ham and bean soup? My mom used to make hers with ham, beans and onions and it was really good - mine leaves something to be desired. So, when I have a ham bone, I usually simmer the bone a while, then remove the meat and use it and the broth in a potato-corn-carrot-etc. chowder. I'd love another option, if you have one to share!

      Are you adding water to your shampoo, or just watching the amount you use? I have done both at different times. I also water down Suave shampoo (that I buy when it's on sale and use a coupon for) and use it to refill our soap dispensers. We have the foaming soap dispensers in Daughters's bathroom and at the kitchen sink - those use even less!

      Thank you for your post - have a blessed week!

  2. I have been drying clothes on drying rack.. Instead of using dryer.
    I went and paid some utility bills, and while out, went to the grocery store, and filled car
    with gas-- making one trip count.
    I used a $2 off Glade candle when you buy 2 Dollar General had their Christmas scents on
    sale for 1.25 each. So I only had to pay 50 cents for 2 candles.
    Grocery shopping--
    I only picked up sale items, as I really didn't need anything. I got 10 lb potatoes for 1.99. I bought
    30 lbs, as mine was getting low. Bought gayla apples for 79 cents a pound. I bought 5 lbs.

    I enjoy your blog, and I too like Brandy's blog.. [This is where I found your blog] thank you for sharing your frugal attempts.. So inspiring.
    Have a great week..

    1. Great finds, Judy! Thanks for sharing them with us, and for your kind words!

  3. great week....I struggle with making bread, but I am going to give it another shot...i just did my first menu plan this week. I plan to make egg salad later in the week myself....The falcon is beautiful...what a wonderful experience.

    1. I really like the bread recipe that I posted, but I always add different things (like whole grain flours). If you try this recipe, I hope it works well for you! Have a great week!

  4. Hi Laura -- I enjoy your blog and get a kick out of the fact that we are both part-time librarians with the same first name. :) I found you via the Prudent Homemaker, who I also find very inspiring. I am working on becoming more frugal but have a ways to go. I too love birds of prey and think it is so cool that you were able to have the falconers out to your property. I will have to try your bread recipe; I enjoy making bread but am not wedded to any one recipe.

    1. Thanks, Laura! I am actually a library sub at this point. I was a children's specialist in our local district until Daughter was born...then I very happily quit, but I've subbed ever since. What sort of library work do you do? I've always been in public services (circulation, reference, children's services)...I love it all!

    2. I work in a public library as well and actually have a background in children's services too. I've been everywhere from the children's department to administration. Now I fill in as needed (but on a pretty regular schedule) and am working a lot in our Main Library's reference and nonfiction departments (we have a large system). I'm really happy to be working on the front line again, engaging with customers on a regular basis. I was proud to take a position in the administration but really missed that everyday back and forth with people looking for books, music, information.

    3. Now I'm really curious about your district! It sounds really similar to here. :)

  5. I'm in awe of your time with the falconers. What a fantastic experience!

    As for saving money, I continue to work on considering whether or not I need every good deal that I find, because when you come down to it, I'm still spending money. It's a thought process I'm working on, considering other options versus my needs and wants. It's not very glamorous to comment about, though. :)

    1. Jennifer, I think that is the ultimate consideration. A great deal that's not needed is not such a great deal. I think that finding the sweet spot is key....too much stuff is no good, but it's also pretty good to have an item on hand when you need it, yes? :)

    2. Jennifer, I am in the same place. After raising 5 kids I still struggle with buying too much and not being realistic about how much I need on hand. Even if something is only 25 cents I still have to store it and make sure I use it before it goes bad. I am trying to remember that those small purchases do impact my grocery budget even though it seems to be a small amount.

  6. Sounds like you have had a wonderful week.
    I enjoyed reading about your bread making. I'm the kind of cook who tweaks and uses what she has on hand, too.

    1. Thanks, Shara! We joke in our family that unless we're canning, we're incapable of following a recipe! ;)

  7. A few things from last week-cleaned out a van load of extra junk from our house and attic and took it to the thrift store. This really keeps me from shopping for anything since I am seeing all of this stuff that we do not need. I like to donate to this particular store because they support a women's shelter and they in a in a part of town where the people shopping there are not adding to their excess but buying what they need for their homes.

    I had a Bruder garbage truck toy in my Amazon wish list for over a year. I was going through my list and deleting some things and clicked on the truck. I saw that there were some used ones listed so I checked on that and ended up buying a warehouse deal for $37 for a toy that is regularly 103.99! I paid for it with Swagbucks gift cards. I have no idea why it was in the warehouse other than a clear sticker that was partly torn off and had taken a tiny bit of print with it. This may be the only toy I ever buy for the grandchildren because we do not need anything else with what we are finding in the attic.

    We went an entire weekend without eating out! Big accomplishment!

    I made two weeks of menus using what is here other than produce. Lots of odds and ends are leaving the freezer. Made French toast with slightly freezer burnt hamburger buns. Made chicken tortilla soup with chicken thighs too long in the freezer and an open jar of lime salsa that we did not care for. Great soup!

    Paid cash for a new 'gutter' system on the house and did not touch the savings.

    Made bagels instead of buying them.

    Happy savings everyone!

    1. I love your list, Lana - thank you for typing it again (Lana's list got lost in cyberspace the first time). You got a great deal on that truck, and I bet it will get years and years of play. You might be able to sell it for more than you paid for it once it's outgrown!

      I've tried to make bagels a few times. They just aren't right, so I watch for them at the bakery outlet. I will buy when it's $1 or less for a 6 pack - they are so gigantic, I can only eat half of one. :)

    2. I do the dough for the bagels in my bread machine. It takes only 20 minutes of hands on work to get them into the oven after the dough cycle is complete. I have really spoiled us and we can probably not go back!

    3. Something goes wonky with mine in the water bath part....they get all lumpy and strange. :P

    4. Hmmm...mine sort of look like that too. I only water bath for 1 minute total, 30 sec on each side. Once I quit worrying about them being all the same size and working the dough less they seemed to be better all around.

  8. I've enjoyed reading your blog for quite awhile now and also found it via The Prudent Homemaker's blog. For the past year I've been a lot less frugally focused than I should be and your blog always reminds me that both elegance and fulfillment can be found in the pursuit of frugality.

    That said, this week I did have a few frugal accomplishments. I had free lunch twice, both times at events I worked on. I found free, beautiful, movie-related items in boxes of free stuff that someone was getting rid of. I used the movie-themed decor to add to the decorations in my home movie room. I received a tin of snacks from a friend, and I shared them with other friends. Instead of buying new clothes, I've been "shopping my closet." I can't tell you how many times the guy I've been dating has asked me, "Is that new?" LOL It's new to him because I have been digging deep in my closet!

    This week I plan to start cooking more and really managing my schedule so I can do so (I work full time, go to school part time and volunteer). I enjoy reading your menu plans -- helps me to make some of my own. :-)


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