Saturday, March 7, 2015

Frugal Accomplishments and Blessings - First Week of March!

I took down the Valentine's Day decorations and put up a few springtime things.  I get 'decor' at yard sales and Goodwill, and move things around from time to time to keep it a little more interesting.

I started an experiment early last week, but I wanted to see how it would work before I shared about it.  I bought a 32 oz. container of plain yogurt.  I usually buy the vanilla, but buying the plain means I can add healthier sweeteners, like coconut sugar.  It also means I can mix plain yogurt with mayo when I make things like dressings, slaw, carrot-raisin salad, or tuna salad for sandwiches.  It cuts the fat a little, adds some probiotics, and so far, no one has noticed.  There have been no complaints about the home-sweetened  yogurt either, so this is going well!

Bonus!  It is hard for us to use a gallon of milk before it expires, so I made a quart of plain yogurt by using the last of the container mentioned above as the starter.  I paid 1.89 for the 32 oz. of plain yogurt, but I can get a gallon of milk for 1.99, make a quart of yogurt each time (about every 2 weeks) and save a little more, all the while relieving the 'pressure' to hurry up and drink the milk!  I looked online for instructions and followed those.  I added a small amount of powdered milk, since I have it on hand and it makes the yogurt a little thicker/more nutrient dense.  If I didn't have that on hand, I would not worry over it.  I let it sit in front of the wood stove, where it was warm and it set up very nicely.

Taffy ran out of puppy treats, and I didn't really feel like baking up a new batch, so I just popped some popcorn.  We pop our popcorn in a pan with coconut oil, so I filled her treat jar before I seasoned the rest for the family.

I picked up some National Geographic Kids magazines for Daughter from a local freecycle page.  She has really enjoyed them.

I made calzones, green salads, slaw, a half-recipe size chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting, calabacitas, curried beef stew, some rice, salsa, taco salads, filling for Asian lettuce wraps, (I ground some turkey for the taco meat and lettuce wrap filling) and we had homemade tomato soup I brought out of the freezer.  I popped popcorn several times this week and we had it for snacks with fresh fruit or peanuts.  For a special Saturday night treat (once every 25 years, hee hee), I made onion rings from scratch.

There was enough curried beef stew to package half of it and freeze it for a future meal.  It will make a convenience food on a busy day.

This peanut butter frosting is not pretty, but it sure tastes good!
The cake underneath (a new recipe, which fell in the middle - oh well) was dark chocolate.
For the suppers where I used ground turkey (taco salad and Asian lettuce wraps) I added a little rice to the ground meat to stretch it a bit.  Both meals had multiple protein sources, so I wasn't so concerned with us getting enough protein.

I had to have some paperwork notarized for a work-at-home job I will be starting next month.  We combined errands that day and visited the library and a couple of stores.

I forgot to mention last week that Husband used the last of his free item coupons at Harbor Freight to get some free batteries.  We have been able to use those coupons to stock up on batteries, flashlights, tarps, tape measures, gloves...all sorts of items, over the course of time.  The newer coupons are for a free item 'with any purchase', and we will use one of those if we are purchasing another item.

When we have a good year in the orchard I make a lot of applesauce, but I also make peach sauce.  It's basically the same as applesauce, just with peaches.  It is very good as a topping for pancakes, stirred into oatmeal, etc.  We have been using it a lot in oatmeal this winter.  It helps cool it down and give it a little sweetness and fruity-ness.  It costs me very little to make, since the peaches are from our trees and I only put a small amount of sugar and some spices (cinnamon or apple pie spice) into it.

oatmeal swirled with peach sauce, spinkled with almonds
The wood stove has really helped this week, when we have had temperatures in the single digits.  I still dried our clothes on the drying racks in the basement, which helped save electricity.

I signed up with Blogging for Books.  I will request, read and review books from them - expect to see that here, coming soon! :)

I watched the extras on the Downton Abbey DVDs for season 5.  I was able to check it out from the library.  We also got Big Hero 6 from the library and watched for a family movie.

There were some books on the library sale shelf that I wanted - for $1 each I brought home copies of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and Country Breads of the World - 88 of the World's Best Recipe for Baking Bread.  That second title has a recipe for Boston Brown Bread (swoon!) and a chapter on the flat breads of India.  Woohoo!!

The supermarket sales this week were not too exciting, so we mostly picked up produce - green grapes and broccoli for .98/lb., onions for .50/lb and apples for .77/lb.  Since I used the last of the milk making yogurt, we picked up a gallon at the store ($1.99)and I got some unbleached flour at King Sooper.  We also picked up some items at Costco - parmesan, muenster, strawberries - much of which will last us for far more than a single week.

And....drumroll....the craft room is done! 'done', I mean arranged, and organized, in our unfinished basement.  It may not look like the ones you see all over Pinterest, but it is really functional, and I am overjoyed!  I purchased the glass-front cabinets second-hand on a local facebook page.  After I got the room organized, I sold off the items I was previously using for storage, and ended up a little bit ahead.  It is a nice size space, but not as huge as it looks in these photos:

The work table is big enough that I am using one side, while
Daughter has her school computer and books on the other side.
Stamps and fabric and yarn - oh my!
The treadle sewing machine is under the woven cover.  I also have
an electric machine I can use at the work table.
Soapmaking supplies (except the crock pots, which don't fit), are in the wood cabinet.
I have lots of storage and room to work!
We dropped off recycling on 'town day'.  There were some freebies at King Sooper that we picked up, and we went to Costco, Target and Sprouts. The three of us had lunch at Costco for a total of $3.50 and tax.  Target had a good sale on LED light bulbs.  When we got to the store, they also had coupons for the bulbs.  In the end, they were just over $2.50 each.  They can be dimmed, so we were able to put them in our ceiling fans.

How was your week?  Did the weather keep you home?  How did you make do, spend less and save more?  Leave a comment, if you please!


  1. Laura, your craft room looks great!! Love reading your blog! Teri

    1. Thanks for your kindness, Teri - have a great week! :)

  2. Your craft room organization is perfect. Such a great place to work/craft..Love the glass front cabinets.
    we has ice /sleet all last week, so I did not do any shopping.. I did the usual frugal savings..such as cutting thermostat down, Hanging clothes to dry on inside with drying rack.. Wash most dishes by hand.. And we stayed in, and cooked all meals.
    hope you have a nice week.

    1. Thank you, Judy! I hope you have a nice week too! We are having warmer weather again, which is nice. I really like all different kinds of weather, but I think mostly I like that it changes. I have lived in climates where the weather is very similar day to day, and I start to miss the other seasons. :)

      I am enjoying that craft room! I've been working on Daughter's school/play space, and will share photos when it is done. :)

  3. Boston brown bread - I haven't made that in decades! I used to make it every Friday night as a teenager in my tiny apartment kitchen, along with baked beans. I think I'll have to dig out my old recipe in the original tried-and-true Boston Globe Cookbook (yup - I'm a Boston-born gal) and steam some up soon. Thanks for the memories and enjoy making some for your family!

    1. Marija, the last time I made it, I used a recipe that was designed for the crock pot, and it came out really nice. I have only made it a few times, but have fond memories from childhood of the ones that came in the can from the store. Home-made wasn't as hard as I worried it would be and the flavor was wonderful. :)

  4. I love, love, love the craft area! It turned out so well!

    Our weather is finally warming up! We had a beautiful Sunday with sunshine and 72. We have lots of rain in the forecast this week but it will be in the sixties so we can handle it. :)

    We had the same milk problem to solve last week. We ended up with too much milk on hand with all of the bad winter storms predicted that were not nearly as bad as expected. I like to be prepared since sometimes we cannot get up the hill and out of our neighborhood for a week. I did a Pinterest search for recipes using buttermilk to use up the turning sour milk. I made two loaves of buttermilk bread and tried a new buttermilk pancake recipe for breakfast on Sunday. The pancakes were the best I have ever made so that one is definitely going to be a regular way to use up old milk. The bread was a really good keeper so I will keep that recipe on hand for another use of sour milk.

    I had a week of many nights that I did not sleep much so last week was kind of a sleep deprived fog day after day. Thankfully I am back to sleeping so I can get more done this week.

    On Monday I did make one grocery run and for $26 I brought home 2 # of bacon, 4 # of butter, 6 bottles Minutes Maid OJ, 2 boxes of organic baby greens, a box of cereal, 2# of local stone ground grits, a 5 # whole chicken and 3 dz eggs. Many of these items I consider high price groceries that I just don't get very great deals on so this was a really good total.The 5# chicken fed us 5 meals and I did not even make soup!

    We ate out more than usual last week since many friends just needed face time and some of it was short notice and due to my lack of sleep I did not make an effort to get them over to our house. But, fellowship with dear ones and new friends is always good. It was all within our budget so it was all okay.

    We have a real thing for live music and found out that we can volunteer to usher, take tickets, etc at one of our favorite venues and then enjoy the show for free! WooHoo! It is near our house at the lake so we will be planning on helping out when we are over there and taking in some free music, too. It is also a way to get involved in a community where we have spent time for 16 years.

    S-new friends at church asked us to go out to lunch after our pastor finished up the service by telling us to go out to lunch with someone we don't know. We enjoyed talking with them and getting to know them and their 9 yr old granddaughter they had for the weekend.

    M-spaghetti with meat sauce from the freezer, salad, garlic bread

    T-baked tilapia that we did not have on Friday, potatoes, grilled zuchini, salad

    W-soup from the freezer, caesar salad, cornbread

    TR-mac and cheese with ham, broc, salad

    FR-chicken and noodles, green beans, cucumber slices with vidalia onion dressing, 30 minute rolls

    ST-homemade pizza, carrots and ranch dip

    I hope you have a good week!

  5. Continued-groggy brain this AM.

    I really like the peach sauce idea. I am going to do some of that come summer and will love it on my oatmeal, too.

    Great find on those bread cookbooks. I need to check the for sale racks at my library, too.

  6. A little almond extract in the peach sauce is divine. The one pictured has cinnamon - that is good too. I also like it with ginger.


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