Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Today's List

Things Accomplished Today:

- Broke down and recycled some boxes
- Clipped, organized and filed coupons
- Sorted through and filed and/or recycled stack of magazines and clippings
 - Five loads of laundry washed, folded, put away; some of kid's clothes sorted out to be assessed for whether they still fit
- Cleaned out most of email account from December's promotional emails (still need to do photos category)
- Purged fridge of expired food and condiments
- Washed inside of fridge
- Renewed Rx online

Grateful for Today:
- Safe travel over the holidays
- A warm house and fireplace
- Traditions (e.g., Rose Parade)

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.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Friday Wrap-up

Around the House(Keeping):

I took the bull by the horns and brought the winter coat and comforter in to the dry cleaner -- because the coupons expired the last day of May. Even though we're supposed to have highs only in the 60s again for the next few days.

I mowed and trimmed the yard. That's about all I get done outside these days, because a) it's not like I have nothing else to do and b) it keeps growing like crazy due to the rain. I tried to get out there and do this week's mowing before the rain of the day hit; only got sprinkled on a bit toward the end. We recently finished The First Four Years in the Laura Ingalls Wilder series for a read-aloud; I was contemplating, as I was mowing, whether I should just let it grow and see if someone will buy hay -- like they used the hay from the school section near their claim.

Quick shop for basics at Walgreen's; Girl Scouts registered for next year so they get the early bird patch; basic weekly cleaning of the bathrooms; working on next week's menu plan; rebate check deposited at the bank.


Attended a poetry reading in first grade. An end-of-the-year celebration type thing. The class sang songs and each student read a poem (they read it; they didn't have to memorize - since they're first graders, this was part of working on reading for the year) and showed a picture they'd done to illustrate the theme of the poem. My daughter had the longest poem, "100 is a Lot." The poem had 100 words (or, really, 104 with the title, she told me, "but really 107," because she also said "read by N_"). The teacher had also put together a scrapbook for each student for the year, with photos from classroom celebrations and field trips, samples of their writing about those events, a copy of the class photo, and a personal note to each student. A really nice thing to do.

I also put the last Daisy petals on a Girl Scout vest, as well as the patches earned during this year's cookie sales. (I figured she only has a couple of times left to wear this, as she's almost done being a Daisy and will be moving on to be a Brownie.) I did this in the half hour before we left for tonight's activity: Chuck E. Cheese with six, six- and seven-year-old Girl Scouts.

This was what the girls wanted to do with some of the cookie money they earned for the troop. And we needed to do it soon, before two families -- the troop's top cookie seller and my co-leader's family -- move out of state over the summer. So, we put a coupon to work and fed the girls two large pizzas (a few slices of the sausage left; none of the cheese), soft drinks and, later, ice cream treats. The ice cream treats were our solution as to what to do when we ran out of tokens (from the 200 we started with!) for running around playing games and such. It actually worked out really well with timing for when we had told parents to pick them up, and the girls had a lot of fun running around, playing, eating, dancing with Chuck E. Cheese, and being silly.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Thursday Post

I think maybe I will experiment with when works the best for me for a weekly wrap-up and/or goal post.

The weather has been cool and rainy here for quite some time. Post-car accident, I'm still going to the chiropractor three times a week (although getting tired of how much time that's taking up) and last night, the massage therapist said, "I feel like it's been raining for the past three weeks." I answered, "That's because it has." (Up side? We're now out of drought.) Highs have been mostly in the 60s and, with that and the rain, I have done very little outside work -- which is getting to be frustrating. I have washed up my sweaters for the seasonal switch, but am still living half out of my winter wardrobe, so the clothes haven't been switched around yet.

I've also done some of the spring deep cleaning inside (insides of windows, laundry room, entryway, living room, bathroom, kid's room) and am working on sorting through paper stacks. (I am an inveterate magazine clipper.) Haven't faced the kitchen yet, although I'm kind of wanting to, and working toward minor home improvements this year to make life easier. I read a Kindle book a while ago, Organize for a Fresh Start by Susan FayWest, which talks about organizing for the season of life you're in, and the season of life we're currently in is working parents of a school-age child. (She's about to finish first grade. I'm slow in getting the house caught up.)

I'm also transitioning to more electronic time management (to-do lists and reminders, notes, etc.) and am wondering if there's a good way to keep track of my weekly meal plans electronically so that I can go back and refer to them. This week, we had weiners from our bulk meat purchase from our freezer for Memorial Day (we boiled them on the stove. Because it was raining), with chips and strawberry-rhubarb pie (fruit from the freezer from previous summers). Tuesday was Saucy Chicken (chicken breasts baked with cream of chicken soup, served over rice) and frozen peas; Wednesday, spaghetti. Tonight? Leftovers.

I got together with my book group friends this week; when we weren't discussing each other's lives, we discussed the book Illuminations by Mary Sharratt, historical fiction about Hildegarde von Bingen. I'm always interested, after reading historical fiction, in how much of it was historical fact. In this case, ti seems like all of the main characters were indeed real people, although the author of course gave them personalities for the book. Since Hildegarde spent decades walled into the room of a monastery as a servant to an anchorite, the part of the book where she carried a plant around to the sliver of sunlight that she could see for those years also had me thinking that yes, I probably would react that way, too, if penned away from the outside for years.  

Thursday, May 23, 2013

(Last) Week's Frugal Accomplishments

I haven't posted in a while, and last week shaped up to be more frugal than this week has so far. I enjoy reading the posts and comments on this topic at

Last week, I

- was better about meal planning/deliberately using up leftovers.

a) Turned some lunchmeat that needed to be used up into filling for turkey and cheese crescents with a can of crescent rolls that was in the fridge.
b) used blueberries (that had been in the freezer from a previous summer) that hadn't been used up in a recent blueberry pancakes meal, to make blueberry muffins
c) used some of sauerkraut that had been sitting in partially used jars in fridge to make German casserole (pork sausage -- from our freezer, sauerkraut, apples and onions are the basic ingredients)
d) used cream cheese that had been purchased on an earlier sale and in our freezer to make the cheesy enchiladas that someone else posted in these comments a while back (sorry, I don't have access to the recipe right now -- I did write down who it was but can't remember off the top of my head!)

- also used things on hand for food for end of the school-year celebrations and other events
a) brought strawberries and raspberries in the freezer from last summer as ice cream toppings for end of the year church youth choir party
b) used rhubarb from freezer and other ingredients on hand to make rhubarb coffee cake for potluck at final Girl Scout troop leader meeting of the school year
c) used strawberries from the freezer and Jell-O and sour cream that were on hand to make strawberry Jello salad for a church funeral luncheon

(I'm trying to increase the pace of using the strawberries and raspberries from the freezer somewhat, before it's time to go picking again and replenish with this year's crops!) I also did a little bit of chest freezer organization, so it's easier to find (and use!) the things that are in there. Right now, I'm using empty Girl Scout cookie boxes (the cardboard boxes that held several boxes of cookies) to contain the pork and beef from our meat purchase last year, so everything is not piled on top of each other. Some smaller items are in the plastic dishpans from the dollar store that we used for a Girl Scout activity. Now that the other cuts of meat are easier to find, I'm hoping to use them more -- and not just focus on the hamburger as much just because it was easy to get to!

Also, acquired a free banana from quarterly meeting snacks at work (kid ate it); used graham cracker snacks passed out at church celebration for lunchbox snacks; and fed child on Sunday by delivering her to a classmate's birthday party after church. :)

She found a free kid's book in husband's Cheerios box; I registered her for before-school childcare for next school year during the timeframe when the registration is free (even if we need to change our timeslots later); and we found free downloadable printable invitations for her upcoming birthday party.

Earned $33 from this spring's consignment sale. Read free Kindle and library books, and watched a code for a free Redbox DVD rental for the family ("To the Arctic").

The 6-year-old and I also harvested dandelions, and made dandelion fritters, before I mowed (with a reel mower -- no gas expense required).