Sunday, August 9, 2015

Back to School Week Savings, Blessings and Fun!

If you read my weekly update last week, I want to thank you for indulging my whining.  I'm doing much better, and I appreciate your grace!

Daughter started school!  I did OK - I was almost back to the car when I started crying, so she didn't see me.  She was a trooper, and did just fine.  I subbed at the library that morning, which was good, because it kept me busy and kept my mind off missing her.  The people I work with are so good.  I was there for 4 hours, and the first two, they had me scheduled in the work room, with a box of tissues.  I did cry, a little, but part of it was being so appreciative of such thoughtful people, who gave me hugs and agreed that it really is hard that first day.  I am so proud to know these fine folks.

A lady whose daughters attend the same charter school as Daughter handed down some uniform shirts her daughters had outgrown.  She is a friend of mine...and I guess we are family, in a way - her dog is Taffy's brother!  Some of the shirts fit Daughter now, and some will require a bit of growing, so I have them sorted accordingly.  I did a little spot cleaning and a bit of mending and they are just fine for school!

Daughter has a binder and planner that will go back and forth each day for school, and she needs a tote or backpack to transport them in.  We have several different tote bags around, but a backpack distributes the weight more evenly on her frame.  We were looking at backpacks at the store, but I remembered that we had this one:

We got it at the Goodwill Outlet store, for about 80 cents...back in the spring.  It is a really nice backpack - heavy duty, and the pockets on either side are nice for snacks and such.  It had a small cut hole in it...which is why it has that cute kitty cat embroidered patch on the front.  It's iron-on, but it wasn't sticking well to the nylon, so it is sewn on too.  I used a discount coupon at Michael's and paid $1 for the patch.  Less than $2 for a really well-made backpack is a great deal!

There were just two full school days this first week, and Daughter took her lunch both days.  We had an insulated tote at home that she decided would be just right.  I picked up two re-freezable ice packs so that we can rotate them - back-up seems like a good idea.  We already had a stainless steel thermos and all of the containers for sandwiches, sides, snacks, etc. are things we had on hand.  Daughter picked out a water bottle that has a screw-on snack container.  It is BPA free and it was just a dollar.  I put about an inch of water in it the night before, screw on the snack container (so it doesn't swell funny and keep the container from fitting properly) and freeze it overnight.  In the morning, I add snacks to the bottom, fill the rest of the upper part with water, and her water is still cold at morning snack.  She really likes it.  Our lunch gear cost sits at $3.  Grandma and Grandpa were kind enough to pick up a couple more of the lunch totes (we got them when we were visiting a while back) and they will send them in the next goodie box.

My friend had handed down a bag containing several thermoses - they are stainless, double walled, and really keep things cold.  The decals on the outside were scraped in places, and some were for characters my daughter either doesn't know or doesn't care for, so I took a stainless steel scouring pad and cleaned off the decals on one a long time ago, and I did another this week.  Husband did the remaining two with mineral spirits.

Basket o' Snacks - we have something similar in the fridge with melon cubes,
string cheese, etc.

As for food, she is pretty easy to please.  She helped me make a list of foods that would be good for lunches, and they are all things that we make/eat pretty regularly.  This past week she took sandwiches, carrots and celery, fresh fruit, string cheese (we got 12-packs for 1.99 after sale/coupon!) pretzels, trail mix, whole grain crackers and water.  The time for lunch is just 20 minutes, so taking lunch from home gives her more eating time, because she's not waiting in line for her food.  I think she will eat these foods more readily, and I won't have issues with keeping the same budget we already have for groceries ($180 a month for 2 adults and 1 child).

When we stopped our subscription (years ago!) they never
came for the box, so now it is by my garden, holding hand
tools, a knife for cutting zucchini or lettuce, and plastic
bags to bring in the produce.

In the garden, I've been picking zucchini, green beans, peas (just a few), kale and zucchini (the veg. so nice I picked it twice! har har).  The tomatoes seem to think that they don't need to turn red until Christmas.  I'm hoping they change their minds soon!  I was letting the arugula go to seed, but I lost my patience with the harlequin bugs that kept coming for it.  I was squishing about a half dozen a day, but the weather got hotter and drier, and suddenly, I was finding 12-18 on the plants every morning.  So, I pulled them and fed the plants (and the resident harlequin bugs) to the chickens.  Hopefully, the arugula won't change the flavor of their eggs.

I enjoyed the flowers in our flower beds.  I picked a few for inside the house, but mostly, I've just enjoyed them outside.  We've also been enjoying all the birds at our feeding station!  It is working very nicely as a gathering place for birds, and that lets us observe them through the day.  However, when I took this photo, they all flew into the trees.

I checked the orchard, and we have peaches, pears and apples forming.  No huge crops, but we had late frosts that took many of the blossoms.  We will need to net the trees soon, lest the birds and deer have a feast the day before they are ripe!

Kohl's sent me a post card for $10 off a $10 purchase.  Daughter found these towels that she just loved!  They were in the kitchen part of the household section, but she wants to have them for hand towels in the bathroom - fine with me!  I also picked up this cold drink cup that was on clearance.  The total was $9.98, so our cost was zero out of pocket.

I didn't do much grocery shopping this past week, but I did pick up a few items.  Milk was 1.99 a gallon, leaf lettuces were .50/head (I am between crops right now), and I got a huge cantaloupe for .75!  I also picked up a few peaches for .69/lb and some red tomatoes (hello, tomato plants?) and jalapenos for .59/lb.  Avocados were 3/$1, so I bought three.  We also went to the bread outlet and stocked up on different types of bread.

I made a batch of little pancakes, froze them individually, and then put them into a container so I can pull out 2-3 for Daughter's breakfast a couple of mornings a week.  She eats them with some ginger-peach fruit butter that I made and canned, along with some ham for protein.  It's a nice 'treat' breakfast.  I made potato salad this week, Husband brought home some chicken from Popeye's.  On Tuesdays, it is $1.09 for 2 pieces. I can't make decent fried chicken, so this is an occasional treat.  We ate zucchini, peas, kale and green beans from the garden.  I made guacamole and salsa on the night we had taco salad, and we grilled teriyaki beef for another night's supper.  We had leftovers for dinner a time or two as well, and I made something similar to minestrone with garden produce and some odds and ends from the fridge.

I called my mom to wish her a happy birthday.  I sent a card as well, but a phone call is always nice for catching up!  We also talked after school started - Grandma & Grandpa wanted to know how their grand baby had done on her first day!

I expressed Taffy's glands and then gave her a bath.  I trimmed bunny toenails (sharp!) and Tallulah spent the week acclimating to the bunny barn.  Tallulah is our cat.  Since she can't read, I will just tell you.  We have had that cat since she was about 6 weeks old, and she's never been quite right in the head.  She's a spayed female...who sprays.  We had relegated her to the basement, but she began spraying down there, too, so we made some security improvements to the bunny barn, and moved her there.  She was not happy the first day - outside is a big new world for her - but she has adjusted quite well and seems to be very happy out there.  The barn is 3-sided, with a gate along the entire east side.  The gate has cyclone fence over it, so she is safe.  We added a strip of siding and some wire mesh along the top of that east side, so there is more shade, but still very good ventilation.  When I go out to check or tend the bunnies, she greets me with lots of love and affection...when she lived in the house, I barely got the time of day from her, so this seems to be an improvement in her disposition.  Hopefully, it will work out.  Despite her tendency to be a hot mess of a cat, we do love our Tallulah Mae.

We sold some more items that we no longer need or want, using some local facebook pages for advertising.  I had some things that I really like that I was holding onto, even though I didn't have the 'right' space for them.  I sold my butcher block table, for example.  I really liked that table.  It worked really well as an island in the two kitchens previous to the one we have now, but it just doesn't fit anywhere here.  I'm a little embarrassed that it took me so long to...let go...but I'm just glad I finally managed it.   I used a small portion of those funds to purchase a 'spot bot' - it's a small carpet cleaner that can be used to spot clean, and it also has an attachment for corners and small spaces.  I will use it for spot cleaning and stairs.

Look who we found at the feed store!

How was your week?  What did you do to spend less, save more and make do?  Leave me a comment, won't you please?


  1. I am very very jealous of your food prices. Milk is 3.59 for the cheap store brand, Lettuce is at least 1.00 per head, Avocados are 1.50 Each. Peaches/necteries/plus have been 1.99per lb and cantaloupe has been going for at least 3.00 per

    1. Bwanna, a lot of those great prices I mentioned are at a store called Sprouts Farmer's Market, though some of them were also Safeway, and possibly another store. I do 'cherry pick', getting the sale items at each place (or price-matching at Wal-Mart sometimes), rather than just choosing one store to shop. Please also know that I have seen the same prices you are listing above at the stores around here...I had ferreted out some great sales this past week...those aren't everyday pricing. Good luck!

  2. I enjoy your updates very much, your garden is amazing!

    1. Thanks so much! I admit, my garden is amazing me this year. Not counting the pumpkin patch, we have one that is about 10x10 and one that is 7x13, and we are just getting a really good yield from that size space. The 7x13 one is new this year, so that soil has not been amended year after year like the other one, but it is producing well! I did add egg shells, coffee grounds and rabbit manure to it, and it seems to be working! Thanks so much for your kind words. :)

  3. Love your repurposing of the newspaper box! We have one too and I just said yesterday "I wonder what I can do with this?"

    1. It works really well, Dawn. There are lovely drainage holes in the bottom, and it's just the right size to store a few things without become a place where it's hard to find what I'm looking for! Thanks for posting! :)

  4. It is good to hear that everyone is adjusting well to school days away from home and I am so happy that you have sweet friends to help you on this journey. Good on the North Face backpack!

    Our biggest savings was just not shopping for anything last week and we did not even go to the Flea Mall while visiting our son over the weekend. I did take a 1/2 bushel of peaches whith us to our son's house so I guess that was shopping sort of.

    Friday noon we left for the five hour drive to our son's house. We packed lunch to eat in the car. It is a race to get to Atlanta in time to get through without sitting in a huge traffic jam. We did well with timing the traffic both directions so that saved gas by not idling for hours on end.

    Our oldest son'd family recently moved to a new house. It is a very nice house but it sits on a tiny lot and I felt suffocated there. We do want less to care for here but not a yard that can be completely done in forty minutes! Somehow I cannot see them staying there for ever but fr now they are happy. We took everyone out for Mexican after church and then headed for home, Their favorite Mexican has 3.99 lunches everyday so we usually do this when we go. $36 for 7 to eat including tip is quite reasonable to me. We do have a budget for that. Everyone went swimming in the community pool on Saturday. Our stop for supper on the way home took advantage of hubby's last birthday freebie so we only paid for one meal at Zoe's Kitchen which is a favorite of ours. We had a cooler with water for travel both ways. I planned menus and made a grocery list for this week before we went away for the weekend.

    My tomato ripening has slowed. I have lots of green ones but the weather seems to be changing and I wonder how the rest will do. We have had robins here in the yard for several weeks which is quite odd. I really am starting to think fall is coming very early this year.

    Our neighbor boy cleaned up all the sticks and limbs in the yard, weeded four flowerbeds and brought in the trashcans for us after we were gone on Friday for $13. Such a big help! This allowed us to get away for thee weekend without feeling the weight of undone chores. I fell like he is worth more than what his parents asked that we pay him but I don't want to go against their wishes.

    We are planning fall get aways around the concert schedule at the civic auditorium near the lakehouse. If we take tickets and pass out programs we get in free. We booked our fall week for the steel drum band concert. Every Thursday on September there is a free concert on the lawn of one of our library branches. We hope to get there for most of them. We will pack a picnic supper and chairs for a free evening of entertainment. Free lunchtime concerts are starting back up at the library on a few weeks, too. A friend and I meet there every time our schedules allow.

    Have a good week everyone!

    1. You've been one busy lady, Lana! I noticed some geese in formation just the other day. They might have just been going to a different pond, but it did give me pause.

      For your neighbor boy, maybe you could give a monetary gift directly to his parents, that you request goes directly into his college/higher education savings? That way you could acknowledge his hard work without just handing him more cash, perhaps?

      I sometimes think it would be nice to have a small yard, but that's from the perspective of tending (and semi-tending) five acres. I don't think I would do well on a tiny lot either! Have a great week!

    2. Great idea about the extra bonus for a college fund.

  5. Man, I remember the first days of school for both of my kids. That first day was SO hard. I'd just go home and sob for a bit. The kids always did fine, but it was hard on me. Especially my son. He has autism and he started preschool the DAY he turned three. I wasn't ready for him to leave home, for sure, but also knew he needed the social interaction and any therapy he could get.

    Good work getting through that, though. It's not easy.

    1. Thanks, Erika! I'm kind of struggling with it today, I think because this is the first whole week!


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