Sunday, January 25, 2015

Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments, Blessings and This Week's Menu

On Tuesday, our internet provider had an outage.  I called the library, reserved the study room, and we packed up Daughter's school books.  She used my laptop to do her school work and I borrowed a library laptop and worked on a project.  We both got a lot done - we are so happy to have such a great library district here!

When we went to the library, we found a couple of book in the free bin that I was very happy to get - Fences for Pasture and Garden by Gail Damerow and How to Write Fast While Writing Well by David Fryxell.  The first is a comprehensive book about all sorts of fencing for livestock, garden, landscaping and more, and Daughter thinks the second one will help her be a more effective writer.  We also borrowed additional books and media for the week.

This is Tallulah Mae, our very fussy cat.  She only really likes Daughter, but tolerates Husband and I....and is starting to accept that we got a puppy.  She is beginning to come upstairs during the day (when Taffy is not crated), but just now and then.  This week, I got her a set of dishes on a local Freecycle page.  I really like them!

What is really cool is that I had gone to pick them up, and the house next door to the house with the cat dishes had a smoker on the curb with a sign, "Free Smoker".  I called my dear friend and made sure they were still looking for one, then I put it in my trunk and took it to her house.  It is one of those vertical dome-shaped ones and is in very good shape.  We live in an area with a lot of military seems like a lot of people 'need this gone' fairly often.

On the local buy-sell-trade page I purchased two complete sets of queen size sheets for $15.  One is cotton sateen and the other is a cotton percale, and both are colors that we have in our bedroom.  The lady said one set came from Costco and the other from Kohl's.  We were down to one sheet set and some odds and ends, so this was a good purchase for me.

We ended up doing a little more work on the washing machine this week, and now it's working fine, and still zero cost.  Meanwhile, I started looking at the space a little differently.  We have a cubby for the washer and dryer, and we had them both centered in that cubby.  We moved them both over to one side, and that made a space along the other side, about one foot wide.  It is perfect for storing the mops, broom and dusters.  When we had a small space on either side, it was not as manageable as this space is.  I think of this as frugal because it is a zero-cost improvement in the way our home works.

I washed with homemade laundry soap and dried clothes on drying racks in the basement.

We heated with wood to save on propane.

Husband used swagbucks to earn some credit at Amazon and Domino's Pizza, and I took a survey with Pinecone Research.

I signed up for various, random free samples (tea, soy sauce, lotion) on the internet, and when we were in Walgreens, I got a free sample of lotion that is a nice purse/pocket size tube.

Husband's MP3 player stopped working a couple weeks ago, and just never came back to life.  He has been using an old one we had, but it doesn't hold a long enough charge.  This week, we found one for him on a local buy-sell-trade page on Facebook - $10 for an Ipod Nano.  It's 2Gb...he said that is plenty.  I hope it works great for him!

I have been going through the fridge freezer, looking for things that need to be used and things that are past their prime.  For example, there was some yogurt I got, free with coupons, that we didn't much care for.  I had put it into ice cube trays and frozen it so that we could use it in smoothies....except we don't much care for dairy in our smoothies.  When I came across a bag of yogurt cubes, I took them to the chickens.  I did the same thing with the container of gooseberries dated 2009 - oops!  This stuff is fine for the chickens and cuts down on the amount of chicken feed they consume.  I also found 2 hot dog buns that were really dry and some bread ends, which I pulsed in the food processor, then dried in the oven for bread crumbs.

I saw this post on Facebook that said you could get all the oogy baked on stuff off of glass baking pans using one of those magic eraser type sponges.  I had some that I bought at K-mart with a free gift card, so I decided to give it a try.  What do you think?


I feel like I have new bread pans!

I sewed a button onto a pair of Daughter's pants, and I cut the buttons off of an old shirt that went to the rag bag.

I polished my black loafers.  A little polish, an old rag and a shoe brush, and they look much better.

I went out with a friend one afternoon, and we went to town.  I took my coupon to Penzey's Spices and got a free jar of roasted garlic that I will use in cooking.  On the way home, we stopped at Starbucks and I got Husband's free drink that he was offered for registering a gift card on their website.  He and Daughter shared the vanilla bean frappuccino....which she said tasted just like snow cream!  :)  Later in the week, we had snow cream again.  It snowed all day long, so I just put a container out to collect snow.

I forget to mention it, but whenever I prepare fresh produce, I put the peels, cores, etc. into the 'chicken bucket', and I give all that to the hens, so that it's not wasted. For them, it's a real treat!  I also rinse the eggshells and give those back to them, so that they have adequate calcium.

I cleaned out the closet in the master bath...and took a picture (because I'm goofy).  There is no 'before' picture.  I'm glad about that, because you won't have proof of what I slob I can be, but you don't get the full 'wow' effect that you would get if I'd taken one.  Frugal?  I think so, because things are easier to find, so we don't go buy vapor-rub when we already have a jar.  Not that I've ever done that.  Besides, I returned it, since it hadn't been opened yet.  Ahem.

I got almonds for $4.99 a pound at Walgreens by combining a sale and a coupon.  A supermarket in town was remodeled and had a grand re-opening.  One of the special sales was 93% lean ground beef for $2.99 a pound - I purchased five pounds.  I also got a gallon of milk for $1.49 and two tubes of Colgate toothpaste free after sales and coupons.  We got free yogurt (a free digital download offer) as well.  I did some price matching to save on travel time and fuel, and got avocados for .50 each, Roma tomatoes for .50/lb. and zucchini for .99/lb.

Thanks to a helpful tip that Lana shared with me a couple months ago, I was able to get four 12-packs of Coca-Cola for $1.33 after sale and coupons - that's less than 35 cents per 12-pack!  (three cents per can!)  It was buy 2, get 2 free, and I had two coupons, each good for a free 12-pack...but the price at Safeway was a little higher than the maximum value of the coupon, so I paid that difference and the sugar tax.

Mom's (my mother-in-law) lo mein recipe
I did quite a bit of scratch cooking this past week, from enchiladas to lo mein, chicken noodle soup to calzones.  I popped popcorn a few times too, and made blueberry muffins and banana-nut muffins (with bananas from the freezer).  Yum!

Here is the dinner menu for this coming week:

S - spaghetti w/meat sauce, zucchini w/herbs and Parmesan, pears
M - roast turkey breast, stuffing, carrots, apples
T - ham, baked sweet potatoes, steamed mixed vegetables, oranges
W - vegetable-beef soup, corn bread, apples
R - tamales, refried beans,shredded lettuce & chopped tomato, chips with guacamole and salsa
F - omelets w/diced ham, vegetables and cheese, hash browns, green beans, oranges
S - leftovers/meal out
S - (I think there's a football game?) pizza, raw vegetables w/ranch, possibly buffalo chicken dip, oranges

I will also pop popcorn, make muffins or scones, and since the granola jar is running low, I'll probably make some granola too...bake bread if needed, and keep plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables prepped for snacking.

How was your week?  What have you been up to, and how have you been blessed?  I'd love to read all about it! :)


  1. Wow, you've had a full and quite frugal week. How do you make your Lo Mein?

    1. Shara, I have the recipe on my old blog - here is a link. Keep in mind, you can sub in different meats, different vegetables - it's very flexible! :)

  2. Wow, your glass dishes look brand new! I'm going to have to try that trick on mine. I just read this week in an old magazine to spray them with oven cleaner and put them in a plastic bag overnight but the magic sponge might be faster? I get my knock-off magic sponges at the Dollar Tree. They used to be $1 for 4 to a box a couple of years ago and now I think it's $1 for 2 to a box. I have a stock to use up before I try to make my own (a recipe I had found in AllYou Magazine last year, I blogged about it here:

    I like the "after" photo of your closet, it looks very organized. I agree that you will save money just by being able to find things easier instead of just buying more because you thought you were out.

    I also agree with counting gaining usable space in your laundry room as a frugal accomplishment! Sometimes it's the little things that make the most difference... I just reorganized furniture in my entry room (we live in an older house that was expanded upon several times so the rooms are awkward and our "entry room" is actually the place where the kids have their entertainment center/computer and where the cats reign) so I could put my small garden greenhouse (which is missing its plastic sheath) in front of the south-facing sliding door with my seed "nurseries" on it. It frees up my breezeway, which is narrow to start with and felt very cluttered with all the seeds growing by the windows. I'm also counting it as a frugal accomplishment because I reused items that I had instead of buying new ones.

    Sounds like you had a great frugal week! I like reading your posts! I posted my frugal successes and failures for the past week this morning. I tend to ramble on as I keep the blog mainly to hold myself accountable. It works too... I was re-reading my grocery shopping posts from last March and marveling at how little I seemed to spend back then... and it reminded me that I had gone several weeks without buying meat since we had so much in the freezer... which is a great reminder since I have a hard time resisting bargains but my freezer is completely full. So I'm looking forward to a much smaller shopping trip this week.

    1. I will say, the magic eraser sponge works well, but you do have to do some scrubbing. It wasn't 'easy', but it is chemical free, which I like. I have a 9x13 glass pan that I'm working on this week and I have to use oven cleaner on the outside of it, because it is embossed all over with fruit. It's a very pretty pan that is a bit of a chore to keep clean!

      Thanks for your kind words, and have a great week!

  3. I had to read the "free smoker" part three times. I envisioned a person standing on the curb!!

    Great deal on the Coke. Love reading these posts each week.

  4. Hi Laura, I too think the bread pans look new and am duly impressed! As for the unexpected gain of space in the laundry area, I think it's super clever when we can manipulate things slightly and gain additional space with out spending any money at all! I did this when I put stacked milk crates in my trash cupboard. Now I can store cleaning supplies and such there and it's super handy. The trash can still fits nicely but it's my intent to get a smaller can and put under the kitchen sink then use that cupboard to store the vacuum, mop and broom.

    Here's what I did this week to save money:

    And if you would follow me on Pinterest I'll be able to follow you back. should take you there.

    1. I will try to make that happen on Pinterest - thanks!

      You know...that small cubby type thing that is in the bottom of the bathroom closet photo was downstairs with yarn in it. I just moved the yarn and put it in the closet, and it fits in there nicely. It gets some things off the floor, plus it divides the floor space - cleaning stuff to the left, bath salts to the right, and then the stuff on and in it is better stored too...a free fix to a minor problem, but I'll take it! :D

  5. You had a very good week! The dishes trick is one I need to try on every casserole dish in my cupboards.

    I did the Coke thing too but ours was B2G1 so not as good. Publix had the deal along with a $10 off $50 gas card deal with a $50 purchase. I got nine 12 packs for $3.60 as my coupons were short too and it was a total of $33 toward my gas card. I ended up paying $55 for a $50 gas card and $54 worth of groceries! I had $49 in coupons come off! There were a number of great deals at Bi-Lo, too.

    I air dried two loads of laundry.

    We cleared out 4 more boxes of stuff from the attic and cleaned out hubby's clothing. The clothing is a huge accomplishment and like your closet I now know what he has and he has all the clothing he needs except two new pairs of jeans that need to be purchased. Two boxes of clothing will go to the thrift store and a big bag went into the trash.

    I continue to use up things from the freezers and pantry. Chicken legs were cooked in a soy sauce honey marinade and thankfully they are gone. I found a small boneless ham in the freezer which will be much of our meat for this week. I used up two slightly out of date cake mixes and two muffin mixes last week. Much of the baking is in the freezer but now it can be eaten or shared with others.

    That was a great find on the smoker! Our son was supposed to be stationed out there near you but the Air Force reassigned him to Boston two years ago. He could end up out there near you this fall though. If he does I am going to come and see you when we come out to visit him and our daughter-in-law!

    Our neighbor boy worked for us for 9.5 hours last week at the $4 an hour rate that his parents suggested. The way I consider this frugal is that it frees up time for my husband to do needed maintenance on our home instead of doing chores that kids can do. It is such a blessing to have this willing worker and help. I have to stop at the bank this week for more cash to pay him. I never expected him to be such an eager worker.

    Menu-I need to use up frozen veg so they are a theme here
    SN-leftover honey soy chicken legs from Friday, rice a roni, sauteed yellow squash, Caesar salad
    M-macaroni and cheese with ham, frozen veg that needs to go, salad
    T-pan fried ham slices, sweet potatoes, frozen veg that needs to go, coleslaw
    W-tacos, refried beans from the freezer, chips and salsa
    TR-dinner out with friends, a local seafood restaurant has a $5.49 special on TR nights and we will drink water, comes out to only $14 with tip for a sit down dinner (and the food is SO good!)
    FR-Italian Black Beans and ham over rice, cornbread, frozen veg from the freezer that needs to go, salad
    ST-one more $4 Papa John's pizza which will also feed us on Sunday night, carrots and ranch dip

    Have a good week everyone!

    1. Who do I call to get your son out here, lol!! I would love that, Lana.

      Your menu looks yummy. I've been going through our upstairs freezer of late, and finding things to use, so I know how that is.

      I will tell you, once you clean a glass pan, they all look so scruffy! I'm working my way through all of mine, little by little.

      Have a wonderful week! :)

  6. I love your closet cleanup. Not sure how to organize mine it is very deep. You gave some ideas though thanks! Such a great deal on coke!


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