Sunday, January 19, 2020

Weekly Wrap-Up 1/19

Good morning all.  Oh baby, it is cold outside.  Feels like winter for sure.
Yesterday was in the 40's and lots of wind and rain.  This morning it was 11* when I got up!!!!  High today is to be 18*.   Brrrrr.
There was a lake in the back yard again yesterday.  It was so saturated from last weekend, and no where for it to go.  This morning I have an ice rink!!
I finally started getting cabin fever and went out for a bit one day this week.  I am outside many times each day, but needed to get out and see people!
My neighbor did come over one afternoon and we had a nice visit.  It seems everyone stays inside during the colder weather, and we just don't see each other much.  It was nice to have 'human' conversation.

It was a quiet week again.
  • I found a series I have been watching on YouTube that is kind of interesting.  It is out of Canada.  Young man owns an antique store and he is always on the look for treasures.  He bought a 'hoarder' house.  It was quite a journey.  Eventually changed name of series to "Potter" house - as the lady was a very famous potter.  He has videos on all sorts of other buildings and lots of things he has purchased.  I really have been enjoying this.  He is called Curiosity Incorporated.  I know it was time I didn't accomplish anything - but I enjoyed it - and that is what matters!  If it makes me happy - I am doing it!!  My new motto.
  • I have been cleaning out drawers and doing a lot more de-cluttering
  • Took 3 more boxes of items (way more than 20 items) to the church thrift store.
  • While at church store I got a pack pita bread, bagels and a 2 lb. bag of split peas for FREE
  • Ran to Kroger just because!  I got a 2 lb. box of mushrooms for 1.99, a bag of 4 pears, 5 apples, and 3 grapefruit for .99 a bag and got 6 packs of neutral (can use all the time) tissue paper marked to .30 pack.  I also got a gallon of milk for 2.19.  
  • Chopped and froze the mushrooms
  • Cleaned all the bedding including all bed pillows and pillow covers
  • Doing all the normal stuff.  Eating from home and using up leftovers.  Drinking water and Kool-Aid.
  • Sent my neighbor home with a couple cans of cinnamon rolls (to bake) and some gravy mix for when his grandsons visit over the weekend.

Meals this past week:
Tostadas (used leftover skillet enchilada mix)
Grilled ham, egg and cheese sandwich and slaw (leftover in jar of home canned)
Cheesy potato soup (from freezer) served over Ramen noodles - topped w/sour cream
Red beans and rice w/ground beef 2X
Made layered refried bean dip and ate with Pita bread
Veg. soup (canned condensed - no water added) with pasta added - threw in balance of bean dip

This is the month that I think I tend to just veg out every year.  It is usually the gloomiest month and usually the coldest.  Not necessarily the coldest this year (until today).  The daylight hours are extending a bit in the evenings, but it is pretty cloudy most of the time.  So boring and ho-hum.
I plan on doing more de-clutter this week.  My plan is to take 2 - 3 boxes or bags to the church store every week.
How was your week?  Did you get any deals?  Did you stay on track with low spend?

DID you do the 20 CHALLENGE on anything this week? I look forward to hearing what everyone is doing?  It gives us all that needed boost.

So thankful to hear that our friends in Australia are getting some much needed rain!  Hope the fires  are doused completely very soon.  Prayers to those in the North with all the snow.  I saw pictures of a part of Canada this morning - OH WOW!  They had a ton of snow (blizzard).
May you all have a safe, healthy and frugal week.  May we all keep our distant friends in our prayers.
Stay busy and stay frugal.

Blessings from my humble little home to yours.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Fiction or Reality (?)

Let your mind wonder back many years and think about some of the TV shows and movies we had available to watch.  The Star Trek TV series was so out of this world as was Star Wars.  Now we have space craft and people are spending months in space, we have landed on foreign planets, we have genetic manipulation, we have technology that can seem scary at times.  Fiction in many cases became reality.
Over the New Year's weekend I watched part of  The Twilight Zone  marathon.  First let me say, that ANYONE who went on to be famous in the acting field, was on that show!!  It was amazing to see all kinds of young, not yet famous, actors.

Why do I mention this?  Well, one of the shows I saw - reminded of what "could" happen today in the event of a major disaster.
Let me set the stage:  Cold war years (started mid/late 40's), mid America, newly built modern middle and upper middle class neighborhoods, young families living the dream.  People moving upward on onward after the war/depression were over.  Prosperity seemed to rein.  Life was tranquil.

In this show - only one family in the neighborhood had the foresight to build a bomb shelter under their new home.  They had it equipped with food, water, medical and living comforts for their little family for 2-3 months.  Everyone else thought they were crazy.
One day a radio announcement happens - unidentified flying objects have been seen in the skies heading toward metropolis.  Government and public were in a panic.  This family was getting their last minute items into the shelter - then the neighbors start showing up!  They wanted in too.  It is only the right thing to do they said.
Now mind you - there was enough oxygen and air supply and power  (not to mention food and supplies) for this family of 3.  They HAD PREPARED.
The show went on to show the anger and meanness that happened with people trying to get in this shelter.  The were destroying this families home, they were working together in a mob to rip open the shelter, they didn't care that by prying it open they were guaranteeing doom to all.  All they were concerned about was themselves.  They were ready to harm their neighbors - to survive.

After causing much destruction, name calling, and truly making forever enemies - an announcement came that it was all a false alarm - the coast was clear.  Men were trying to apologize for horrid behavior, Moms were saying  "you would have done the same thing", people were expecting relationships to go back to normal.  The prepared family saw just how horrible people (their neighbors) could be. Nothing would ever be the same.

My point - this was a fictional show - but I see this as reality in just a heartbeat.  Those who live in areas that has cold weather know what havoc the four letter word SNOW can cause.  Shelves at stores empty in a couple hours.  People act like they will be snowed in for weeks (although many just buy junk).  Milk, eggs, and bread - are gone in minutes.  People panic!
Hurricanes and  any other natural disaster - items are gone and if found - price gouging takes hold.  Trucks can't make deliveries - stores only carry enough provisions for a week or less.  Power outages - stores, banks, gas stations, etc. are all in the digital age now and can not open and operate - looting happens.

We discuss our prepping, storage and pantries here - but 99.9% of us have never met or seen one another - nor do we have any idea where exactly the others live.  This is our SAFE spot.

BE CAREFUL who in your neighborhood and local area knows what you have.  You too could become the target of those who have NOT prepared, as in the TV show.
Yes, many of my family know how I prepare - and most of them have followed suit and do so as well.  My neighbors - I truly doubt any have prepared  (but perhaps they have and don't advertise).
People who feel desperate will do anything.  We see this on the news every day.

I guess this post is just a cautionary tale.  Be careful of who knows what you do.  Be prepared by all means (odds are some occasion will happen at some point) - but be quiet and somewhat secretive about your preps.
Keep working on learning about growing, preserving and preparing for any future problem.  It could be a natural disaster, a medical emergency, job loss, economic collapse, world strife, grid collapse, ANYTHING!
Keep your local network small.  Don't brag to neighbors (people talk)…...  BUT BE PREPARED.

"You are moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas.  You've just crossed over into ………….The Twilight Zone".

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

The Year of 20

Here we are in this brand new year.  It IS just another year - but it is also a date like we will never see again.  Think about it.  There are probably just a handful of people on this earth who saw 1919.  We will not see another double digit year (2121).
Every single year is special and wonderful - but maybe if we get the opportunity to experience a double digit year - we should do something special or different!  What do you think?

I think we should make this year of 20.  Maybe pick something and try to reach doing it 20 times over the year.  This could be fun.  It could make us reach new goals.  Do new things.   Do old things we haven't done in ages.  Do fun things.  Do learning things.  Do healthy things.  On and on.

Here are a few ideas.  I am going to try and work on a few of these for my year.  I may not make it to 20 on each, but I will be better for trying.
  • Read 20 books
  • Save an extra $20 each week or each month (whatever you can afford)
  • Lose 20 lbs.
  • Take 20 walks in nature
  • Write 20 letters or send 20 cards (snail mail)
  • Discard 20 things a week or 20 a month.  I can probably do this each week easily.
  • Quit following 20 people that just bring you down
  • Do 20 random acts of kindness
  • Try 20 new foods
  • ENJOY 20 sunrises and sunsets - make a point of experiencing them
  • Add 20 EXTRA items to your deep pantry every month
  • Connect with 20 people from your past
  • Try 20 new recipes
  • Experience 20 new things - step outside your comfort zone
  • Do/finish  20 crafty projects
  • Try 20 new things that could improve your health (vitamins, herbs, organics, getting outside, walking, more fresh air, stop bad habits, etc.)
  • Decrease your grocery bill by $20 a week/month
  • Spend 20 less hours a week sitting around - get active
  • Donate $20 a month to some special cause 
  • Volunteer 20 hours a week/month/year - whatever you can do
  • Plant 20 different flowers or veggies or fruits this year
  • Help with neighborhood or community clean-up 20 times this year
I think you get the point.  There are no limits to things we can accomplish by just trying to reach 20 during the year.  Set your goals for a time period that works for you - it can be weekly, monthly or yearly goals.  
Like I said above - IF we don't get to 20 of whatever we choose to do - we have still improved our lives and probably someone else's!!  That is huge.
We are so perfectly imperfect - that ALL small changes matter.

Here we come 2020 - let's experience things like we never have before.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Weekly Wrap-Up 1/12

Good morning.  Hope this finds you all well.
It has been another quiet week for me.  I just don't have the get up and go I need to get a lot accomplished.  Winter blahs?  Holiday let down?  Lonely?  Feeling sorry?  Probably all the above.  I need to have a big talk with ME and get in gear.  I hate just wasting time.  Time is such a precious gift.

We have had above normal weather again most of the week.  Friday and Saturday was rain and more rain and lots of wind.  The back yard is a lake!    Got up yesterday morning and it was 63*  This morning it was 33*  You just never know around here.
I looked out the other day at all the critters and it was so cool.  There were 13 squirrels in my yard (that I saw) - not to mention what was next door.  I counted 22 doves and 2 different types of woodpeckers, lots of cardinals, 4 blue jays, and all the other sweet little birds.  It was surely amazing.

My quiet week:
  • I met with my financial advisor
  • Started a file folder with all income tax information
  • I did run to the Post Office and mailed 3 parcels to various areas in the country and got a book of stamps
  • Been working on organization of all the Christmas stuff (wrapping items) in basement storage
  •  Working on craft area - cleaning up and declutter
  • Cooked up about a half pound of burger and used in 3 different dishes this week
  • Made a batch of 'baked spaghetti' - used couple types of pasta instead of spaghetti and used a bunch of other goodies I had on hand.  Turned out pretty tasty.
  • NO grocery store - using what I have
  • Been drinking tea, water and Kool-Aid
  • Got to have heat off for 2 days again this week
  • Still  eating on Christmas goodies - candies and a few cookies.  Also ate fruit, popcorn and apples w/peanut butter for snacks.  Had  cheese slices and beef stick with crackers a time or two as well.
  • Made plans (in my head) for a couple of sewing projects to do this week - small projects to maybe get me motivated
  •  Basic tidy up and all normal things
Meals this past week:
Leftover soup/stew  (froze balance)
Poor man's Swiss steak and mashed potatoes (used homemade soup in this)
Baked fish and a small potato and home canned coleslaw
Baked spaghetti and garlic toast (old buns) 2 X - (froze balance)
Homemade fried rice
Enchilada skillet dinner and served with soft tortillas

There you have it - QUIET!  Just me and the kitties hanging out!
How was your week?  Did you get any good deals?  Are you doing well on no spend January?

I continue to keep our Australian friends and their country in my prayers.  May the Lord bring them lots of rain and douse the fires.  Such a sad situation.
There is a lot of bad weather around much of our country this week and earthquakes in Puerto Rico.  Please stay safe everyone and my prayers for all.

I pray for you all that you are well and safe. Stay safe in this coming week and stay frugal my friends. Blessings to you all from my humble little home to yours.  

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Some Odd Uses for Common Things

I am one of those people who try to figure out different ways to use what I have at home.   There are so many uses for common every day things that many don't even think about.  Any time we can find many uses for an item, we are saving ourselves money and time!

Here are a few of my unconventional uses!
  • I love baking soda!  So many uses.  I mix baking soda and peroxide together into a paste and use that 2 - 3X a month as a tooth whitener.  Just use as you would toothpaste.  Baking soda is a wonderful cleanser - I use it all the time for cleaning.  I throw some in the with the kitty litter to reduce any odors.  I keep some old and outdated baking soda in the frig and freezer to rid it of food odors.  Pour some baking soda in your drain and top off with vinegar for a great drain cleaner.  Many people add to laundry as a whitener.  **(I use peroxide instead of bleach)
  • Vinegar is another multi-functional item.  As stated above, use with b. soda as a drain cleaner.  I use in the rinse cycle of laundry for a fabric softener (no smell when laundry dries).  I use vinegar to soothe the burn from sunburn and often use it to soothe the itch from poison ivy.  It works wonders to clean windows and mirrors.  Once in a great while I use it as a rinse for my hair - it softens my hair and it removes all residue buildup from soap (helps eliminate itchy scalp). (No smell when dry).  I also add a little vinegar to my dish soap to act as a grease cutter.
  • Dawn dish soap is another multi use item.  It's not just for dishes any more!  Blue Dawn is a wonderful stain remover for clothes.  I have even used on set in stains and it has removed them ( may need to do it a couple times).  It is good to use with b. soda as a cleanser.  I use it in bug killers and weed killer I make up and spray on flowers and garden and yard - it helps set the mixture on the grass/plants.  I mix with water and spray on certain pest bugs that flock the yard/house in summer.  We get box elders bugs to cover the siding and furniture outside and simply spraying with a mixture of Dawn and water - they instantly die.  I mix vinegar, water and a squirt of Dawn to make my window cleaner.  Shoot I have even used in a pinch to wash my hair and a couple times in a pinch added a squirt or two to do laundry.
  • Salt is another great product.  I keep a bottle of salt water in the bathroom all the time and use it anytime I have a blister or sore in my mouth.  It heals almost instantly.  If you have bleeding gums, salt water helps heal that as well.  Glen swore by it.  Recently I was talking with G's aunt about how my face breaks out (been doing this for a couple years).  She said grandma used salt and salt water to heal everything.  I tried it as a rinse on my face after washing and within 2 days it was healed!!!!!  I splash a bit every night on my face and my face has remained blemish free!!!  Amazing.  Sometimes the old ways are the best.  THANKS ROSE! I have even used salt on my toothbrush if running out of toothpaste or baking soda.  If you are dying fabric - add salt to the water to help set the color.
  • I keep lids from parmesan  cheese containers and from the glass jar candles to reuse on Mason jars for dry storing.  Lids from peanut butter jars also work on Mason jars.  I also have a neighbor that gives me their individual size pop bottles.  I use those to refill with water (for emergency water storage).  I also use for that salt water I keep in the bathroom.  Squirt bottle lids (like detergent & shampoo) fit them and they make great bottles for shampoo or dish detergent (condensing down from big bottles).  I also cut fresh chives in the summer and drop into a bottle and keep in the freezer.  Whenever I want chives in the winter I simply shake some out.  I refill and make my own individual water bottles, instead of buying bottled water.  I also keep the tops of iodized salt boxes - they can be cut and used on Mason jars under the ring for a pouring jar!
  • Epsom salts are good for a variety of things as well.  It works in a nice hot bath to soothe aches and pains and help detox body.  I sometimes sprinkle a bit on a wet wash cloth and use as a scrub.  Depending on how you mix it and what you mix it with - it can also be used as a weed killer or as a plant booster.
  • Add liquid coffee to anything you are baking that is chocolate.  Coffee really intensifies the chocolate flavor.  Coffee grounds can be added to your garden/plants and compost for beneficial results.  Grounds can also be added to homemade soap- making a great scrubbing soap.
  • Lemon juice added to rice while cooking keeps it from getting sticky.  I always add a splash to cooking rice.  No lemon flavor in the rice.  This really does work.  I like adding a splash of lemon to tea or water for a fresh flavor.  
  • If you have old home canned pickles that are limp and soggy - drain and slightly pat dry  and then dehydrate.  After completely dried grind into a powder.  This is a great add to sour cream for a dip - or to add to dressings or salads or salt.  No need to throw things away - find a new use!  I like adding some pickle powder to deviled eggs or to potato salad (it is also good mixed with salt on popcorn!).
  • My brother keeps all toilet paper rolls to make seed starter pots.  He cuts them in half and folds in the bottom a bit and starts all his seeds in them.  Just fill with soil and add seed.  They can be placed directly into the garden without disturbing the plants roots!
  • I am not a coffee drinker  -  but I do buy instant coffee for my morning blended drink I make (I like mocha flavor).  I keep the bottles and reuse instead of using my Mason jars.  They are great for candy storage (M&M's or any small candy), they are also good for mixes and all dry storage.  I can place items in them for gifting and not be worried about getting them back.  Good for so many things.
  • Coconut oil is great and healthier for cooking - but has other uses as well.  It works great for dry skin.  Just a little works wonders and is so healing.  I have had many people tell me they do a hair treatment once a month with it as well for dry hair.  Wash hair, lightly apply coconut oil and cover with a heated towel for a while - wash well and rinse.  Stops brittle hair and breakage.

So there are a few of my uncommon uses for common things.  Do you have any great ideas of using things in a new way?  I am always looking for new ideas.
Any tricks that save time and money using household items?  Ways to reduce waste and reuse items?
Give us a shout out!!!

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Budgeting - Do You?

Budget -  def. - an estimate of income and expenditure for a set period of time.
Do you set a budget?  Do you have everything spelled out in black and white?  Do you have a very specific plan for your money?

I really dislike the word budget.  I always have.  It makes me feel very constrained for some reason.  The logic we always used - we made X amount of money, therefore we HAD to spend less than that.
Luckily, that worked for us.
There are so many things and ways for people to budget.  Some divide money into jars or envelopes.  Some use spreadsheets, notebooks, special accounts - the list goes on and on.
I have to admit (sheepishly) I have never read a Dave Ramsey book nor have I watched any videos, etc. of his.  It just never appealed to me.
Now I have read Tightwad Gazette and a ton of books on ways to do things cheaply - but no real budget material.

I/we just always used the simple principle of never spend more than we made.  We tried to work it out that either one of us could pay the bills in case the other was without pay for a certain amount of time.
Yes, that meant we didn't go out shopping a lot.  Yes, that meant we bought a smaller and less expensive home than most people we knew.  Yes, it meant learning how to do things ourselves.  Yes, it meant we took our lunches to work or came home for lunch.  Yes, it meant we learned to have quality fun with friends cheaply (movie nights, camping, etc.). Yes, that meant for most of our lives we drove older vehicles.  We only purchased a brand new vehicle (a first for us both) after our house was paid in full.
Lot's of people didn't understand us - but we eventually rubbed off on some of them!!!  I think they began to see we saved and had some money for the future and we weren't in horrible debt - and they wanted to taste that treat as well!

Some things we did:
  • ALWAYS saved 10% - 15% of our pay right off the top
  • Didn't just shop whenever we felt like it - we set specific days and weeks to shop
  • We got on the budget plans for all utilities that would let us.  We paid the same amount every month - versus huge payments in some months
  • We talked about and saved for bigger purchases
  • Found new ways to do things - husband was a mechanic and could take care of our vehicles.  He was handy.  I was crafty and learned older ways from my parents.
  • Cooked at home
  • Loved clearance and mark downs
  • Joined in 401K or other programs offered to the full extent
  • Gardened and put up a lot of our own food
You get the idea.  We just LIVED WITHIN OUR MEANS!  That is the big statement!  Don't try to keep up with the Jones - keep your life simple and within YOUR means.

I hear people say "I can't cut out anything else".  Bet you can.  You don't HAVE to have cable, internet, cell phones, morning lattes, lunches out, shopping all the time, tons of junk food, etc.
There is always something that can be cut out - you may not like it - but if you are having money problems, you need to do whatever you can to get above water.  WHATEVER IT TAKES.

Like if you go overboard at the grocery and just buy because you see it and it says 'buy me'.  Shop online and have your groceries delivered.  Stay out of the store.
If your internet bill is too high - either shop around for better service or just go to the library and use their connection (free).  Maybe you and a neighbor can share both connection and cost.
Read books from the library - quit buying them
Take lunches (leftovers are great) and quit going out
Stop bad habits - smoking, drinking fancy coffees, pop, etc.
Read blogs, watch Vlogs about new ways of doing things (cheaply)
Reuse, reduce, recycle everything you can - it does make a difference

I am curious how others BUDGET.  Share your ideas and hopefully those ideas will help someone else.  We all need new ways and ideas of doing things.
What say you?

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Weekly Wrap-Up 1/5

Good morning to all my frugal friends.  I hope this finds you healthy and safe.
Prayers continuing for our friends in Australia that the devastating fires quickly come to an end.  So much loss there. It is all so sad.

I have had a pretty quiet week.  Spent much of it reflecting on the past year and contemplating what might come in the new year.  I truly have no idea what might be.  I just know I have to find ME!

My Coogy and his new favorite toy!!!!   Ribbon from a Christmas gift.  He has played and played with that despite having so many toys.  Just goes to show - it doesn't have to be store bought!
I went to a baby shower last Sunday for a cousin of Glen's.  It was a super nice affair.  I got to see many of his relatives and catch up.  That was nice.  They are just so kind.  It was my farthest trip so far (not that far really), just new to me to go that far away from home.  I am slowly moving out of my comfort zone - very slowly!!!

I watched a part of a marathon of The Twilight Zone NYE and NYD.  I do that every few years.  My goodness, everyone that ever went on to be famous was on that show!!  A fun blast from the past.

The weather has been mild for this time of the year.  There have had many above normal temperature days in the past couple weeks.  A few flurries mixed in and some cold nights and a little rain - but nothing to complain about.

My week:
  • Put away all the Christmas stuff and all my lovely gifts
  • Got all bills that were received and due in January PAID
  • Froze up 2 containers of salsa chicken (left from get together) and gave some to my neighbor
  • Got to turn off heat during the day for the first 3 days of the year!
  • Straightened up and organized the pantry
  • Received a coupon in the mail for a FREE 40 count box of Truvia
  • Made a small brisket for new years and made great use of it
  • Used all leftovers and some odds and ends to make a pot of  "stoop" - thick stew like pot of hamburger/veggie soup 
  • Just doing all the normal stuff around here.  Nothing exciting and the week has been quiet.
  • NO shopping at all
Meals this past week:
Ate at the shower - chicken salad  and veggies/dip - later at home had some beef stick and cheese and crackers leftover
Salsa chicken soft tacos
Fish sandwich and oven fries
Corned beef & cabbage and black eyed peas (new year's tradition)
Reuben sandwich and pickles  (home canned kraut and pickles)
Corned beef hash topped with cheese
Hamburger stew/soup  made from leftovers and odds and ends

This week I need to get myself in gear and start accomplishing some things.  New year - new start.  I need to get out of my own way and start getting busy.  
Did you have a nice new year's?  Are you looking to get back on the frugal bandwagon this month?  It seems we all spent a lot of extra money lately - I am really going to try to spend less on everything.

Take care of yourselves and be safe and stay healthy.  Looking forward to a new year of sharing with you all.  God bless and comfort each of you.
Blessings from my humble little home to yours.