Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Frugal Accomplishments for the Past Week

Here is my list of frugal activities for last week, for the weekly roundup of "what did you do to save money" last week at The Prudent Homemaker -- check out Brandy's posts and all the comments for some great ideas!

- I made roast beef in the crockpot some time last week; the liquid used in the recipe is beef broth, but it only uses a little bit from a can. I've previously saved the leftover broth in the fridge, thinking I'd use it for something -- but never got around to doing so. This time, I put the leftover broth in the freezer! I'll have it for something in the future. I also saved the bone from the roast and put that in the freezer, to be used later for making homemade broth (also in the crockpot).

- Finally had nice weather in Minnesota! I got the plants potted up in containers on our deck. (We shall see how they do ...) Used leftover spinach leaves and radish greens for compost mixed in the soil to feed the tomatoes and strawberry plants, as per the advice of a master gardener at the plant sale this spring. I keep my potting soil in a large tin in the garage -- one of these Christmas-themed ones that probably originally held flavored popcorn. I got it several years ago at a thrift store as "payment" for helping them sort donations.

- Cleaned out the garage (a chore I usually try to complete in April) in time for the free city cleanup day on Saturday, where I was able to donate/recycle batteries, a metal planter that doesn't fit our deck (I tried to Freecycle it but got no takers), Venetian blinds we removed from my daughter's window in favor of curtains, and a small bicycle my mom had found at a garage sale. When our neighbors down the street with a slightly older daughter moved, one of the things they gave us was a bigger bicycle for my daughter!

- The city cleanup day also had free refreshments: hot dogs, chips, and drinks.

- My mom came to visit this weekend and brought rhubarb from her plants and a dish drainer she wasn't using -- I think my dad won it at some event. (Mine was plastic, almost 20 years old, and needed replaced.)

- Went to a city park with a splash pad to play on a hot day.

- Took my daughter to Toys R Us; she had a coupon from the birthday club plus birthday money from two aunts to pick something out. We also happened to be there at the right time to get a free Lego police car build and a Lego poster. She likes Legos and has recently started getting into decorating her room with posters.

- Gave daughter birthday presents purchased earlier in the year on sales, including a Barefoot Books Book of Princesses for which I paid only shipping after receiving the voucher for filling out their survey earlier this spring.

- Switched out winter for summer clothes (finally!) and loaded up a box of my daughter's outgrown stuff to send to my sister for her girls.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Sunday/Monday/Tuesday (Da-da-da-DUM!):

(An aside: young children in our school district learn the days of the week to a ditty composed to the tune of The Addams Family theme song.)

My daughter had her dance recital on Sunday. She did mostly a good job -- she actually is the best dancer in her class (not due to heredity, I can assure you), but fell twice during her class's dance. She had told me the day before, after dress rehearsal, that the stage floor at the high school where they peformed was slippery. After slipping, she did get right back up and keep going in the choreography, however, and we assured her after the show --when her response to "did you have fun?" was "No! I fell!" and the beginnings of tears from my perfectionist child -- that that was exactly what she needed to do. She also had some really good leaps across the stage during the portion of the dance where each individual girl leaped across the stage. And, during the show's finale -- when all the teachers and assistants were dancing, and all the young dancers came out from backstage and gathered at the edges of the auditorium to watch them -- I saw her enthusiastically dancing along to the music with her own choreography and her love for dance.

Her recital was at 4:30 on Sunday afternoon, so we went out to eat afterwards, followed by Cherry Berry frozen yogurt (requested by the six-year-old "because it's a special day!" -- and I had purchased a local deals coupon a while ago). My mom was able to attend the dance recital, coming up to our place on Sunday after attending my nieces' dance recitals in a different state on the previous day. It's a dedicated dance recital weekend for her. The show was fun, if a little bittersweet -- my husband's cousin, who passed away this March, was able to attend with us last year.

This is the last week of school; yesterday they brought flashlights -- or, in our case, a headlamp on a headband -- in and used them during "read to self" time, as well as having a pretend bonfire with Christmas lights over which they used pretzel sticks to pretend roast marshmallows, as well as doing camping-themed worksheets for reading, math, etc. Today is "sun" day, with beach blankets and sunglasses requested as props.

I also bought manila folders for further sorting of the "to-keep" school papers. I'm running out of time, however, to further cull them without an observer. I bought those, stamps, and a flexible plastic Rubbermaid tote at Office Depot, so I will accumulate rewards points to later be used on school supplies, etc. Put the turtlenecks I've taken out of my dressser and replaced with short-sleeved summer shirts into the tote for summer storage in my linen closet. The cardboard Avon boxes that I've been using to store out-of-season clothes in there (left over from my aunt's stint as an Avon lady during my childhood ... thirty-some years ago?...) were getting a bit worn. Still haven't decided if I like the tote thing. Plus, i am still wearing long-sleeved shirts. :(

Monday dinner: pasta salad, made with kidney beans and cheese from our food storage. Tuesday dinner: Pot pie, using leftover shredded pork from the ribs I did in the crockpot on Saturday, as well as a half bag of frozen mixed vegetables that was in the freezer.

Started a new read-aloud with the six-year-old: The Complete Beatrix Potter. Note: "The Tailor of Gloucester" is hard to read aloud. First of all, is it "glou-sster" or "glou-chester"? Also, I grew up with a mother who is a seamstress, so have been exposed to fabric names for my whole life but there was a bunch of weird, old-fashioned names in that story for things I've never heard of.

I've been getting a lot of invitations to events with friends for this month. Really hard to figure out what to say "yes, I will attend" -- with "summer" (I use that term loosely these days) time and "family" time both being in short supply, so that I don't want to fill my non-working hours with non-family things, plus my husband's busy season at work has started, where he often will have to go back to work in the evenings and weekends -- but we don't know that until that day, which makes it really hard to plan ahead and commit to things.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Saturday: Dishpan Hands

I feel like I have done nothing today but dishes. Not true, of course (I also washed the countertop, the microwave -- I don't even want to know what that was -- the sheets, the towels, the kid's hair), but I have done them several times in the course of cleaning up the kitchen/cooking.

The six-year-old and I made carrot cookies today, from the Living on a Dime cookbook formerly known (when I acquired it) as Not Just Beans. We ended up adding another egg to the batter, because it just looked too dry when it was "supposed" to be done, and I knew there was no way it would stick together. The cookies taste OK (kind of like slightly carroty sugar cookies), but they still came out pretty crumbly. I'm not sure if that's in part due to the fact that we thought we had no more baking powder left after the first teaspoon (recipe called for two) and so used the substitution of 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda. (Later discovered that we did, indeed, have a new container of baking powder in the cupboard where I told her to look - but it was in a different shaped canister than before. Regardless of the fact that it says "Baking Powder" on it in big letters.)

I also made cornbread to go with the ribs I threw in the crockpot this morning for supper.

Needed to have supper planned, because the day was broken up with dance recital dress rehearsal (and the accompanying doing of the hair, slathering on of makeup so she can be seen from the stage, annual motherly speech about how this is the only time she gets to wear makeup, etc.). Announcement from the backseat of the car: "My favorite part about dance recital and dress rehearsal is being up on stage in front of all those people!"

Also spent part of the day going through the mammoth pile of school papers that have accumulated over the course of the year. I think I have uttered several times recently that next year, we are going to keep up on the sorting and not let it all wait until the end of the year. The parental review of this sorting needs to stay in place, though -- she thinks we should keep way more than I think we should. But, on the other hand, she didn't think we needed to keep her report cards.