Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Using Less

We all know of many ways to cut back on expenses that can save us many dollars.  We can cut back on groceries, cable, phone, utilities, etc..
We have all brain stormed on the big cut backs.

There are also many ways to cut back in small, maybe even tiny ways.  Why do those tiny things?  Well, pennies make dollars.  If you can cut back and stretch the use of items, why not!  If you do not notice any major difference - then cut back.

Here are several things I do.  They may seem trivial to some, but it makes me feel comforted in knowing that I don't have to be a consumer hound.
  • Shampoo - I keep a bottle that I mix shampoo and water in.  I use 1/3 bottle of shampoo to 2/3 water.  I let it set for a day or so, till the soap actually 'melts' into the water.  I actually think it makes better suds and I am using less chemical on my hair.
  • Dish soap - A tiny squirt will do ya!!!!  Suds is not what cleans - hot water is.  When I get down to the end of a bottle - I add water and continue using.  I can generally get close to 90 days from a normal bottle
  • Laundry soap - same as dish soap.  I am sure I use at least half of what is called for on the bottle.  Remember - their instructions are enabling them to get another sale!  Soap builds up in your clothes and causes damage.  Use less and still be clean
  • Drier sheets - I only use these in the cold winter.  I cut them into thirds and they work perfectly.  They cause a build up on clothes and in your drier.  Better yet, is to use white vinegar in your rinse cycle (if you can catch it).  Is softens and you get no smell.  It also helps clean out the buildup in your clothes.  It is also cheap and natural.
  • Concentrated fruit juices - add an extra can of water.  It doesn't change the taste (sometimes improves it), and you a glass or two more
  • Use less meat.  Healthy diets call for a piece of meat no larger than the palm of your hand.  When making soups or casseroles, I cut meat in half.  Add extra fillers such as rice, beans or more veggies
  • Toothpaste - use a pea size amount on your brush and you will have plenty.  Again it is the action of scrubbing that is the most important, as paste is abrasive.  You can clean your teeth with just a brush and rinse with salt water.
  • Only use deodorant when you need it.  You should know your aromatic ways!  If it's cold and you are not exerting yourself - you may not need it.  Baking soda or cornstarch can be used as well - cheaper and natural.
  • Sweet tea - cut back your sweetener in tea or Kool-Aid.  I have cut back till I finally started to notice a difference.  I am using far less now
  • Oil in baking - can be cut back by using a healthier item like applesauce in place of some of the oil
  • Paper products - I only use paper towels to clean up kitty upchuck!  I use rags for everything else.     **I don't buy paper napkins unless they are practically given to me.  This spring I did get several packs of decorated ones at a yard sale 10/$1.  I could not pass that up.  They can be used for other things too.          **  I don't buy tissues - haven't for years.  We either use TP or I use hankies made from old t-shirts that are soft and washable.            **  Use less TP - cut back until you start to feel uncomfortable.  Many people use washable cloths - I still haven't gone that route.  I just don't feel comfortable with that.
  • I wash and re-use foil (if not too icky) and plastic storage bags (that didn't hold meat).  I keep wax cereal bags to use for wax paper.  I hardly ever purchase baggies, foil or wax paper.  I also re-use my vacuum seal bags.  I am careful to cut right at the seal - wash and re-use.  Those things are pricey!
  • Utilities - can be cut back in many ways.  **Turn down the heat or turn up the AC.   **Keep lights off unless absolutely necessary.     **Change lights bulbs to more efficient ones.      **Unplug items when not in use.      **Make sure all cracks and drafty places are filled and covered.       **Insulate           **Close curtains in the heat of the day and open for warmth.    **Turn the water heater down       **Don't waste water - catch water when letting it heat up.  Use that for watering plants or flushing or pet dishes.  I keep several plastic gallon jugs of "caught" water for the animals.              
  • Use smaller plates - therefore giving small portions.  Not only does it save money it saves your waistline and health
  • Using leftovers and making into new dishes saves on the grocery bill. 
I realize that these tactics are NOT saving hundreds or thousands of dollars, but it does add up over time.  I am not just cutting back just to save money, but it also helps to save the environment.  It also stretches my resources, and hopefully it would be easier to cut back if the dynamics of our world and finances changed drastically.

Do you have any special things that you USE LESS OF?  Let us know.  Helps us all find new ways to cut back and stretch our resources and money!
I look forward to getting some new ideas.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Frugal Happenings 9/18

Good morning my friends.
Here we are starting another new week , and we are half way through this month!  They say time flies when your having fun!  I'm not so sure it has all been fun - but it is flying!

We have had decent weather a lot of the week.  We have gotten a much needed reprieve from the heat and humidity for a few days.  Got to have several days with no AC.  We got lots of rain again this week.  Next week, as I understand, the heat moves back in, and we are to start fall in the high 80's.

My week was full of ups and downs.  For the most part I have felt like I was on a roller coaster ride all week.  Emotions have been every where - laughing, crying, happy, sad, frustrated, shocked, etc.  I tell you, it sure makes one appreciate those calm weeks.

My frugal week:
  • Got to do a lot of yard work while the weather was cooler and dry at the first of week
  • Lots of laundry line dried
  • Windows open and AC off a good part of the week
  • Made a run to the feed store for squirrel corn for the fall - and they had a sale of buy 2 bags get 1 free.  That was a savings of $13.75.  They had the most gorgeous mum plants (huge) for $5.25 each - so I did get 2 of those. (That free bag paid for mums).  I got mums that were still in bud (not open), so I can enjoy them longer.
  • I also stopped by the orchard and got a gallon of fresh cider, pears, and a small bag of apples.  I only buy cider a couple times in the fall - but it sure is yummy.
  • I had some bananas that needed to be used.  I made almost 2 quarts of banana ice cream (YUM).  I made a banana pudding, and I cut up and froze 2 other bananas for smoothies later.
  • Fixed a hose that sprung a huge leak.  I cut it, put on a new connector, and all is well now.  We had the connector in the garage.  This is my house cleaning hose.
  • Picked more tomatoes, beans, squash, and peppers this week
  • Blanched and froze 2 more quarts of beans
  • Stayed out of grocery stores!!!!!!!  No shopping other that orchard and feed store!
  • Been straightening my medicinal/health closet.  I have more than I thought in there.  I do believe that we are good for a long time.
  • Went to the library and got some interesting reading material.
  • Picked some pretty roses from the yard.  I have never had roses doing this good this late in the year.
Click on picture to enlarge.  Can you see the pretty little gold finch sitting on the flowers eating?  This is taken through a window.
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Meals this week:
Leftover zucchini soup
Fried chicken and beans and rice
Leftovers
Squash/sausage skillet served with cheesy rice
pizza (from home) and salad - 2X
Taco salad

Been enjoying banana pudding, homemade ice cream, fresh fruit and nuts
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What is happening in your part of the world?  Are you in "get ready for winter" mode?  Let us knows your frugal finds and ways this week.
I hope you are all having lovely weather and are getting to enjoy some outdoor time.  We are coming into a lovely and beautiful time of the year.
God bless each of you this coming week.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Zucchini Yum

I know a lot of us are still getting zucchini and yellow squash from our gardens.  It's beginning to get to that time of the year that everyone is trying to figure out "what else can I do with this stuff?"
There are lots of great recipes and zucchini and yellow squash can be used interchangeably. 
Here are a couple ideas that I have been doing lately.


Cream of Zucchini Soup
2 Tbsp. butter
2 C zucchini, grated
2 Tbsp. chopped onion
2 Tbsp. chopped parsley (optional)
1 1/2 C milk
1/4 C half and half (I would use evaporated)
salt and pepper
Melt butter.  Stir in onion, parsley and zucchini.  Cover and cook 7-10 minutes, stirring frequently.
Remove from heat and stir in milk.  Reheat, stirring constantly until near boiling.  Simmer 15 minutes.  Puree in blender.  Reheat with half and half.
This is an official recipe! 
Now here is mine!!!!!!


Cheryl's Cream of Zucchini
2 medium zucchini and 1 smallish onion  chopped and cooked in 4 cups broth (whatever type you wish).  I then puree with a stick blender when the zucchini and onion are soft.
I mix up and add some of my 'cream of' soup base and I also mix up some of my peppered gravy mix (from Sam's).  Add to zucchini mixture.  These two items insure that the soup thickens some and gives it great flavor.
I then chop and add one more medium zucchini and about 3/4 - 1 cup rice (whatever amount you want.)
We are not big JUST CREAM soup people - and we want substance.
This made approximately 14 cups of soup.
Second time we heated and ate it - I added a drained can of corn for more substance and variety.
Serve with a dollop of sour cream in bowl.
AS YOU CAN SEE - I KIND OF WING IT WHEN IT COMES TO MAKING SOUP.
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Zucchini Stew
1 lb. ground sausage
8 C. diced zucchini
2 C diced celery
1 C diced onion
2 - 16 oz. cans of stewed or crushed tomatoes  (or 2 pints)
2 C diced green peppers
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. basil
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
Crumble sausage and brown.  Put into a large pot and add zucchini.  Cook 20 minutes.
Add everything else (except green peppers) and cook 25 minutes longer.  Lastly add the green peppers and cook an additional 25 minutes.  If you prefer it thinner, add some water.
This is yummy!
We love this and it is a very hearty dish.  We like to serve with tortilla chips instead of crackers.


Zucchini Cupcakes
3 large eggs
1 1/3 C sugar
1/2 C canola oil (I use coconut oil)
1/2 C orange juice
1 tsp. almond extract
2 1/2 C flour
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cloves (I used allspice)
1 1/2 C shredded zucchini
Preheat oven 350.
Beat first 5 ingredients together.  Combine dry ingredients; gradually add to egg mixture and blend well.  Stir in zucchini.
Fill paper lined cups about 2/3 full.  Bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Bake approx. 20-25 minutes.  Cool and ice if desired.
The recipe recommends topping with caramel icing, but we love them with chocolate icing.

I hope this gives you a few FALL recipes to use up some of that remaining squash!
We sure love it mixed into about everything.  Too soon it will be gone, except for the freezer squash and the dried for soups.
ENJOY

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Frugal Happenings 9/11

Before I start my weekly post - I just want to say NEVER FORGET those who died on this date 15 years ago.  None of us will forget where we were or what we were doing on that horrible morning.  There are a handful of those days in our lives.
September 11, 2001 was a day that the world changed forever.  It was a day that what innocence we had - vanished.  It was a day that made us sorrowful , yet proud.  It was a day that the strangers that died became family.  It is a day that I will never forget.
God bless all who perished, their families, and ALL the wonderful responders and volunteers.
GOD BLESS AMERICA
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I do believe that we are now getting ready for fall in these here parts of the country!!  It was hot and humid this past week with lots of rain.  We have now turned that corner, and the weather is beautiful.  Highs are predicted to be in the 70's and lows in the 50's.  I slept with the bedroom windows open last night.  Heavenly!!!  The weatherman said we have seen the last of the 90's till next year!  We'll see.

I kind of made this week of ME after having such a busy and stressful week the week before.  I just enjoyed my time, did a little shopping, did odd ends around the house, and did some relaxing.  I feel re-energized and ready for a new week.

We have been having nightly visits from 'Rocky' the raccoon.  That bugger is big!  'Opey' the young opossum is growing up.  He is still smallish compared to others I have seen - but considering he was hand sized and alone - he has done well.  I am so thankful that my outdoor kitties are NOT confrontational.  They just ignore the nature that shows up in our yard (unless it's another cat!)  I still have 2 hummingbirds feeding.  Some days it's hard for me to remember we live in the city with all the nature that abounds in our yard.

My frugal week:
  • Made 2 lbs. of bologna into sandwich spread
  • Made the gifted jalapenos into poppers.  Ate some and froze the remainder for other days! YUM is all I can say!!!!!
  • Dried squash, carrots, and bread in the dehydrator.
  • Line dried laundry on clear days
  • FINALLY totaled  all receipts for 2 months.  Got everything entered into our spending charts.  Won't let that happen again.  Lesson learned - don't procrastinate!!!!!
  • I went to Menard's and bought $52 worth of bird/squirrel food and spent $17 OUT OF POCKET!  I used rebates I had.
  • I made a Sam's run this week.  I go once or twice a year.  I received $10 off bill with instant savings. 
  • I used another $10/$40 coupon at Aldi for stock-up.  The cashier gave me 3 - $5/$30 coupons good through end of October!
  • Re-arranged some storage items in the kitchen to make things more accessible.
  • Hard boiled a dozen eggs and made egg salad - one of G's favorite things!
  • Picking produce from the garden.  Beans are on their second wind as are the bell peppers.  Still getting lots of cherry tomatoes, some regular toms, squash and beans.
  • AC now off for  hopefully many days
  • Blanched and froze another quart of green beans
  • Purchased 6 lbs. of cheese at Kroger for .99/8 oz.  That brings my total of variety of cheese to about 20 lbs. on hand.  We are good for the winter.
  • Did survey for additional FREE 50 points for Kroger gas program
  • G's power chair quit working this week - while he was on it and in the garage!!  YIKES.  We managed to get him inside.  After much searching info on computer and asking questions of people around the world - we figured out the problem.  It was a fluke thing - but at least we did not have to pay someone to come look at it.  (They charge $110.hr.)
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Weekly meals:
Sandwiches, salad and chips and salsa
Chicken strips and jalapeno poppers
Homemade meat pie (pot pie) and sliced tomatoes
Burger, fried potato chunks with onions and sliced tomatoes
Home fried chicken livers and garden beans
Fried fish, leftover beans, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers
Zucchini soup
All leftovers were used for lunches

Snacks included watermelon, cantaloupe, trail mix, and chocolate mousse
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What was your week like?  How are your gardens doing?
I look forward to hearing from you all this week.

May God bless you and yours and keep you safe and healthy. 
My prayers also go out for the safety of all the innocent people of the world from evil.
PEACE my friends.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Shopping and Prepping

I know everyone has been working hard with their gardens and fresh produce to put food back for the winter.  We all like to be prepared for whatever may come to us in the future (or near future).

DO YOU EVER FEEL YOU HAVE ENOUGH?  I ask this question, because no matter how much I have put back, I never feel like it is enough.  I am NOT a hoarder, at least in the traditional sense of the word.  I use my stock daily and I share with family and those in need.
I just never feel satisfied with what I have.

I know there are probably some armchair psychologists out there thinking I must have been deprived as a child or something.  NOPE.  We were not rich by any stretch of the word, actually we were probably poor - but I had no clue.  I always had nice clothes (home made) and plenty of food on the table (gardening and canning).  Never felt like I was deprived of anything.  Christmas was always wonderful and I have so many good family memories.  So not deprived.

I try to get the most for my money - that is for sure.  I have been getting $10/$40 spent at Aldi for 4 weeks and have taken advantage each week.  I have not needed weekly groceries, it's all for stock.  Today I went and the cashier gave me 3 coupons $5/$30 - which spread over the next month.  I will surely be buying my Halloween candy there!!!!
From what the cashier said - these coupons have ONLY BEEN in the Indianapolis area!  Lucky me!!

I take advantage of sales, use coupons now and then (hardly any I can use anymore), shop Aldi and places like Big Lots and Dollar Tree.  I did a big Sam's run this week.  I go there once or twice a year at best.  There are just some things I can't get any where else as cheaply.
I shop at Kroger for CLEARANCE ITEMS  and GREAT specials only.

I recently received the coupons from Bath & Body Works for a FREE item, which I will be getting for a Christmas gift.  I also take advantage of the $10/$10 Kohl's coupons I receive for gifts as well.
I can't understand why someone wouldn't make use of these items.
IF SOMEONE GAVE YOU A $10 OR $5 BILL - WOULD YOU THROW IT AWAY???  NO!!!
So why not use the FREE money these stores give us.



My G encourages me, and has never thought I was crazy or being greedy.  He brags about my 'adventures' to everyone.  He is definitely onboard - and even lets me know if he sees something about a deal he thinks I should take advantage of.


What tactics do you use to prepare for an uncertain future?  What are your saving tools?
Do you EVER feel like you have enough and are totally prepared?
Am I just a crazy lady????!!!!!  Hopefully there are some others who feel the same way I do!

Let us know your shopping and prepping strategies!!!! 



Tuesday, September 6, 2016

This, That, and the Other

Good morning all.  Hope you had a great long weekend with family and friends.
This morning I am going to ramble a bit in between doing laundry and filling up the dehydrator racks!

I thought I'd share the recipe for the sandwich spread I made this weekend.  That stuff runs about $4 a pound at the deli's around here.  I made it much cheaper - of course I got my bologna cheap.  You can make this with any cheaper lunchmeat.

SANDWICH SPREAD
1 lb. bologna or lunchmeat of choice
1/4 C relish
1/2 C mayonnaise (can add more to taste)

Grind up your lunchmeat (I used the Ninja) and then mix in relish and mayo.  Easy peasy!

This was two pounds of meat ground.

This is the bologna chunks I bought on clearance.  One went into the freezer to make sandwich spread at a later date.  It sure does make for tasty sandwiches at lunch, breakfast, or even a quick dinner.


I made jalapenos poppers this week too.  I posted in Sunday's comments how I did them - but in case you didn't read the comments - here we go!

JALAPENO POPPERS
I made approximately 2 lbs. of peppers worth.
1 - 8 oz. package cream cheese (softened)
2-3 big dollops of sour cream
seasoning (I used garlic)
I added a couple tablespoons shredded cheese (your fav flavor)

I cut the ends off the larger peppers and cut the membranes and seeds out.  Filled with cheese stuffing.  I cut some in half and added the filling.  I then rolled in egg wash and coated with flour/Panko mix.  Baked at 400* for approx. 25 minutes.
I did several and placed on a cookie sheet in the freezer and froze, then bagged for future dinners.
AS YOU CAN SEE - NO SPECIFIC RECIPE - I JUST KIND OF WING IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 
My filling was sort of derived from the zucchini boat recipe.

This is an 8 x 8 pan.  I placed a fork in there so you can see just 'how large' these peppers were!  Close to 4" long each!  YUM - and they weren't even hot!
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I started doing a little bit of fall decorating yesterday as well.  My decorations are pretty generic for fall, so I can usually leave most out till Thanksgiving.  I will put a few odds and ends out for Halloween a little later.

This was just made from this and that.  A basket that I got last year when buying fruit, a country napkin, mason jars and a decoration I have had for years.

My front door wreath.  I have had this for years and last fall I added a bunch of new flowers (I had on hand) to improve it a bit.  (My security door gets a paint job this fall! - YIKES)

What are you doing to start your week?
Inquiring minds want to know!!!!!






Sunday, September 4, 2016

Frugal happenings 9/4

HAPPY SEPTEMBER everyone!
Here we are on the last big hoorah weekend of the summer!  Now the countdown begins for all the holidays!!  OH MY.

This past week seems to have been an absolute blur to me.  Busy, busy, busy sums it up.  There were visiting trips to rehabs, meetings at rehabs, an all day event  at the hospital, one complete day of yard work, then time for some shopping, laundry and company.
My second brother went in the hospital Wednesday for a heart cath, they found an 80% blockage in a major artery, so they did a stint.  He is fine now and good to go.  That is always scary though when someone is going through that procedure.

I sure am hoping for a quiet coming week!  I plan on doing almost nothing (but enjoying the weather) today.  I want to get outside a bit, eat some yummy food, and relax!

We have had three days and nights without AC.  It turned to such nice temps.  I am sure I will have to turn it back on later today as the temps increase.  Hot and humid again this coming week, but I am not complaining, as these warm temperatures will soon be gone.

I believe my hummingbirds are about gone.  Last Sunday and Monday was absolutely incredible and awesome.  I had more birds than I have ever seen in such a flurry to get nectar.  I sure enjoyed that.  I guess we had many that were going south coming through the neighborhood.  I usually have 4 birds!  I think I am down to two - so they are too soon to be gone till spring!  That makes me sad.

My frugal week:
  • I went to the library and got some free reading material
  • Made a faux apple crisp from zucchini.  YUM  I just used zucchini instead of apples and increased the spices and sugar a bit.  Tasted like apple crisp!
  • Shaved my brother (at rehab) 2X this week, saving one of us $40 ($20 per)
  • Still picking some veggies from the garden
  • I was given 2 lbs. of nice jalapenos from my brother.  I will making 'poppers' from them.
  • Lined dried laundry
  • Windows open for the 4th day
  • Did a ton of yard work - free exercise
  • Stopped by Kroger to check out clearance.  I got 3 large boxes of Kellogg's Corn Flakes for 1.29 each.  2- quart jars of Italian balsamic vinegar for 1.99 a bottle.  (We use a lot making dressing and this stuff is wonderful).  I got 8 - Almond Joy candy bars for .39 ea.  (TREATS)  I also got 2 packs  of 2 lb. each of bologna (non-sliced) marked down to 1.39 each.  I will be making sandwich spread with that.
  • I had a $5 off coupon I used at Kroger as well!
  • Ran to Aldi - I had another $10/$40 coupon.  So I purchased more goods for my stockpile.  I couldn't resist.  If I threw that coupon away - it would be like throwing away a $10 bill to me!!!!  THAT WON'T EVER HAPPEN!
I noticed this week that my pepper plants are going through a second season.  They have lots of small bell peppers coming on again!  I will take whatever I get.  I also have green onions and lettuce growing again!
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Meals this week:
Biscuits/gravy and homemade hash browns
Mexican casserole and broccoli slaw (2X)
Arby's (with coupons) - too tired to cook on hospital day
Chicken strips, broccoli/cheese rice and tomatoes
Leftover Arby sandwiches, leftover rice and some sautéed squash and onions
Chicken and dumplings and salad

Had cantaloupe and grapes as fruit this week.  Also had nuts and popcorn for snacks.
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I love that we all got learn and get some new ideas from each other for our Christmas gift giving this week.  Thanks to all that checked in.

I hope you all get to enjoy this last summer holiday with your family and friends. 
Give us a shout out to what you have been up too!  I love hearing from each of you.

Have a wonderful and blessed week.
PEACE