Thursday, November 29, 2018

Fun and Functional Gifts

We talked about doing some different types of wrapping or containers for gifts - now let's talk about some fun and functional gifts that are a bit different.
I don't like doing what everyone else is doing.  I want to give that one gift that keeps on giving and the one that they will be talking about or thinking of us when they see/use it.
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I love getting anything home crafted.  It could be a scarf, hat, lap throw, pretty kitchen towel, canned goods, bath salts, hand scrub - ANYTHING that someone takes the time to make is special.

Think about putting together baskets/bags of things everyone uses or needs.
Items can be cleaning products - homemade or store bought.  Goodies to snack on.  Adult themed baskets.  Poker night baskets.  Game night baskets.  Snuggle & read baskets.

Cleaning pack - I would enjoy (some may not).  New home owner, newly married, college student..
Movie night snacks
                             Adult night entertainment - poker party, adult game night, etc.

Think about getting inexpensive books (2nd hand, dollar stores) and an inexpensive throw.  Good for a reader.
Books, candle, and hot chocolate mix.
A nice mug, a packet of hot chocolate mix and some fuzzy socks (all stuck in the cup)
Get a pretty thrift tea cup and a box or two of fancy tea bags & a small bottle of honey
Card games and some snacks
Board game/puzzle for the family
Kleenex, chicken soup mix, cough drops, cold meds
A basket filled with different jar mixes (homemade)

Do you have someone who spends a lot of time baking or in the kitchen.  Go cooking/baking themed.

Baking items - cookie/cupcake decorating.  How about an ice cream sundae topping basket?

Fun for the baker.
Vintage accessories
There is just no end to fun and different ideas.  Think about the receiver, and what they enjoy doing and HAVE FUN and  BE CREATIVE.

Know a prepper?  Maybe some jar mixes of different goodies.  Heirloom garden seeds to put back for the future.  A box of shells for hunting.  Jerky seasonings.  Tarps, plastic rainwear, anything camo.  Insulated socks.  Hand warmers.  Life straws, etc.
CALENDARS - would be great for the busy Mom, college students,  co-workers, etc.  I know many people keep track of things with their 'devices' - but it nice to be able to just glance at the wall and see what it happening.  I like the idea of adding all family birthdays to the calendar and giving to family members.  No more forgotten birthdays!

College student who doesn't make it home often - rolls of quarters for laundry.  Maybe even a basket of laundry supplies.

Oh golly, there are just unlimited ideas that are fun, functional, and many that can be quite frugal!  Watch for mark downs, use coupons with sales, check dollar stores, and have a ball putting together some memorable gifts.


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Ideas for Fun & Unusual Containers for Homemade Gifts

It is that time of the year.  Everyone will soon be  busy baking goodies and thinking of ways to gift them.  You may be making cookies, candy, bread, muffins,  mixes, bath items, etc.
Many give to teachers, daycare workers, neighbors, co-workers, service folks, acquaintances, friends, family...................

Wrapping these items gets a bit boring sometimes.  Let us think outside the BOX!
You may have all kinds of items around the house that you can use, and haven't even thought about.  IF by some chance you don't - think Dollar Tree!  You can get all kinds of neat items to put goodies in.
I figure when gifting my goody baskets or just yummies - I want the outside package to be useful as well.  Kind of like 2 gifts in one.

We all know about using reusable grocery bags, baskets Mason jars, etc.  Here are a few more fun ideas.

I buy a whole package of brown paper lunch bags - they can be decorated, tied with jute or ribbon, old car fronts affixed, colored by kids etc.  Cheap and easy and fun!

I received this bag when buying from a craft bazaar - keep those card fronts!
Any kind of plain bag can be decorated at home.  These are great for gifting cookies or candies or small loafs of breads (all wrapped in plastic or foil.
Plain brown mailing paper can be purchased in rolls pretty cheaply.  This would be great for any kind of gift, crocheted/knitted items, throws, clothes, etc. Decorate  simply.

Think about using some items that have been passed down through the family or vintage items that have been purchased at thrift stores/flea markets or yard sales.  Have some fun with it.

Here are some items I walked around the house and found.  All kinds of jars, mugs and fancy glasses, tins, even a vintage pitcher.  My mind is thinking of all kinds of goodies I could put in these.  Hard candies, cookies, fudge, drink mixes, bath salts (how lovely in a pretty wine glass!) a pitcher full of  tea mixes or picnic items, or even cookies.  The pitcher would be a lovely addition to any kitchen!

Any kind of big mixing bowl or holiday dish could be filled with packages of baking mixes (think pancake mix, muffin mix, cookie mix, etc.), kitchen utensils or a kitchen towel, or cookies or candy.

A colander with pasta, spaghetti sauce, a shaker of parmesan cheese and maybe a spaghetti fork.
A round baking pan - with pizza sauce, mix for dough, shelf stable pepperoni, and a shaker of cheese.
A terra cotta flower pot filled with flower/garden seeds and a pair of gloves.

All home stores sell these.  It may be plain or it may have the store name on it - it doesn't matter.  Check with your local grocery deli or bakery and you may be able to get them for free.  These are great for making up goody baskets for preppers or just for filling up with a variety of home made items.  It is sturdy and can be used for other things by the receiver.  Good old buckets would work as well.
A bucket can be used for a guy with a 6 pack of their favorite beer and snacks, or car washing supplies.
A minnow bucket would be cool, with fishing supplies.
Wrap loaves of homemade bread in kitchen towels. 
Old gallon jars (like pickle) filled with birding or squirrel goodies for the outdoorsy person - or fill with kitty or doggy treats.

Do you have any old picture frames hanging around (LOL).  They can be gifted with children's art, family pictures (new and old), made into jewelry racks, collages, filled with old recipes, etc.

There are just so many options for original packaging.  Why be boring?  Have fun with it.  Holiday gifting is supposed to be thoughtful and fun in my opinion - and we just all need to raise it up a level!

I will post a few ideas this Thursday and next Thursday of some different gift ideas that can be put together for little money.  I just want others to have fun with this and not be so serious.  It seems many 'serious' gifts are never really used. 
I figure everyone has to eat and we all have hobbies or interests - so why not give a gift that shows some thought of the recipient's likes and be FUN!!!!

Goody bags and homemade goodies gifted one year.

Take a walk around the house and see what you can get creative with.  We all need to de-clutter and we all love to recycle and we all like to save money - so lets get creative.

You have any fun ideas?

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Frugal Happenings 11/25

Good morning everyone.  I hope this finds everyone healthy and rested.
What a strange week it has been.  I stood for 2 days cooking, but it was worth it.  I sent food home for 2 other families, and we will be eating on the meat for many more meals in the future.  Lots and lots of food.
We had our 12 year old 'baby' kitty pass over the rainbow bridge.  That has been so very sad for us and for the other kitties.  THANK YOU all for your kind words this week.
I didn't do ANY Black Friday shopping this year.  I generally go to Menards only on Black Friday - but was pre-occupied this year and had no interest at all.

We have had cold and cloudy days.  We also had about 3-4 days of actual sun!  How wonderful.  Today is foggy  yet partly sunny - the calm before the storm.  Tonight a front moves in and it supposed to get quite windy and rainy (here) and temps dropped.  Tuesday is supposed to have a high in the 20's!!  YUK!

My frugal week:
  • Finished deep cleaning (I thought) before Thanksgiving.  This weekend I have thrown myself back into it trying to keep busy.  I have de-cluttered more, trashed more  and cleaned even more!
  • I do believe I have laundered everything that wasn't nailed down!  Gotta keep my mind busy.
  • All laundry in cold and many items line drying in the basement (free humidity!)
  • Our friend/neighbor brought me some goodies he got a food pantry and doesn't eat.  We got 2 bottles of mint choc. syrup for ice cream, flavored oats and a chicken salad/cracker snack
  • He also mowed our front & side yard while mowing his for the last time.  It mulched up leaves and looks nice.
  • Eating lots and lots of leftovers this week!
  • I made 8 bags (2 C each) of ham broth for the freezer
  • Turkey carcass is in the freezer to be made into stock at another time
  • I did run to Kroger for weekend specials.  I got limit 5 - 1 lb. butter for 1.99 ea.  Also got 5 boxes (various flavors) of Triscut crackers for .99 ea.  And I purchased a 6 quart - really nice - crockpot for a gift for 19.99.
  • I did a quick color job on my hair (FINALLY).  I mixed and used 1/3 a box of dye.
  • Bagged and froze lots of ham and turkey for future meals.  Slices and many bags of pieces for soups and beans.  We had a lot left after eating on it for 3 days and gifting a bunch.  Considering turkey cost .37/lb. and my ham was a clearance ham that cost .89/lb. - not too snaggy!  Lots of cheap meals.
This was a roasting pan filled with ham and turkey AFTER.  We had lots leftover.  I do not know how to cook a little!!
  • Got all the extra holiday cooking pans put back up in the closet in basement.  Some pans I only use a couple times a year
  • Totally cleaned and straightened the laundry room area

Meals this past week:
Shepherd pie and salad (I had made 2 pies last week)
Fried chicken and salad
Chicken/bean/rice burritos (beans/rice from freezer - chicken leftover)
Thanksgiving dinner
Turkey Manhattan's (hot turkey sandwich - split, mashed pots and everything smothered in gravy)
Ham, turkey - dressing and green bean casserole

Snacks - holiday sweets!  Cherry cheesecake, fruity Jello salad, and brownies

Exactly one month from today is Christmas Day - oh my.  It will be here before we know it.  Are you ready?  I am getting there, but more to do.  Oh, and there is all the baking and goodies!  We will definitely be watching our diets after the new year!!!!!!!

How was your week?  Any great deals to be had?  Tell us how you have been frugal.

I pray you are all safe and healthy, as well as your families.  Remember to take a moment each and every day to be thankful for the people, pets and things you have in your lives - it's what makes life special.
Blessings this week from our humble home to yours.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Morning Sadness

This morning our sweet, lovable, and precious kitty - Pooty - crossed the rainbow bridge.
She has been losing weight and in the past few days seemed to be breathing harder.  This morning she seemed distressed in breathing, so to the Vet we went.

X-rays deemed she was in extreme heart failure.  The Vet said it was the sort of thing that humans get, when in need of a heart transplant.  There was nothing we could have done.
He brought her back in the room, and I was holding her and kissing her, when he suggested putting her down - and she passed in my arms on her own.

We are just so saddened.  She was 12 years old.  We rescued as a little baby when she showed up in my flower bed!
I am so very THANKFUL that we got those 12 years with that sweet and gentle soul.
Coogy and Lilly seem a bit confused - they keep walking around as if they are looking for her, which I am sure they are.
Our fur babies are our children - we love them so much.

She will return home next Friday.  We have all our babies cremated after they crossover.

       This was one of the last pictures taken of her last month.  Such a sweet and beautiful kitty.

Tears are flowing and sadness is being felt by both of us.
Rest peacefully my sweet baby.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Thanks & Giving - The World

I know that the Thanksgiving holiday celebration is an American tradition.  It represents the  celebration of the Pilgrims and their Indian friends in the fall of 1621 - giving thanks for their first harvest in the new land.

We now get together each November with family for Thanksgiving.  It is supposed to be a day of giving thanks for all we have.
In that 'definition' - it can be celebrated whenever you want and should be celebrated all over the world.  Having a day of giving thanks should just be a regular event for everyone.
As a child, basically every Sunday was a day of thanks.  Lots of family appeared at and around the table and we had wonderful large meals - no one was ever turned away, and there always seemed to be enough!  Granted, it wasn't on the grand scale of Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter - but it was always a celebration of thanks and family.

It seems that now the day has become a day of over indulging and football and parades.  It is considered the day the holiday season really begins in America.  It is the day for giving thanks for what we have - so the next day/days can be spent spending money we don't necessarily have  on things no one really needs and fighting with strangers over that stuff - just a time gluttony (on many levels).
If you live somewhere other than the U.S. - you just can't comprehend the total and absolute madness of 'Black Friday' (the day after Thanksgiving).  It truly is shameful!

I challenge EACH OF YOU no matter what country you live in - to spend the day or a day that you pick, truly giving thanks for all your blessings.  Make it a true celebration.
I  give thanks each and every day on some level.
Days that we get to spend with family are joyous and special.

In the U.S. we are now heading into the coldest part of the year.  There are so many folks that have no homes, no proper clothing, no nutritious food, and they live on the streets.  I just can not fathom this!  Many are families.  I know for a fact it happens - it just is so hard for my brain to understand and comprehend.  How can we allow this to happen?
The nights that get so cold, my mind wonders to these folks and how they are trying to survive and stay warm.  (I realize for some it is a choice - but not all).

If you have a family (could just be you and your other), a roof over your head, warmth, food to nourish you body (no matter how simple) and a reasonable amount of health - you are INDEED BLESSED!!!!!!!
Not everyone is so fortunate.

So please, IF you find yourself out shopping this weekend or anytime - thinks of others,  Maybe buy a few inexpensive fleece throws, cheap gloves or stocking caps, thrift store blankets, non-used (from your home) winter coats, etc. and give to the local shelter or food kitchen to help others.  Getting super deals at the grocery?   Donate some to food pantries for those in need.
Think of others less fortunate - that is what the entire holiday season is about.

We have always donated to the shelters and food pantries.  ALSO, think about getting some small toys for the kids that are part of homeless families in shelters - they don't understand why they have nothing.

I believe as citizens of Earth, we have an obligation to help others.  If each and every person did SOMETHING, no matter how small, for another person - this would be one totally blessed and wonderful world.

BE KIND, BE GIVING, LOVE those LESS fortunate.
Be the help that you want to see.  The next time you think, "something should be done" - be one that DOES SOMETHING!!!


Sunday, November 18, 2018

Frugal Happenings 11/18

Good morning.  We are on the downward spiral of the month.  For those in the U.S., Thanksgiving will be here in a few short days.  It seems that Christmas comes very quickly after that - then the year is over.  2018 has gone by in flash.

We have had a lot of winter weather this week.  It seems like we got about a split second of Spring and a split second of Fall this year.  Summer came and went and then it became winter.  It does appear that we will have more fall like temps this next week, which is nice, since so many people will be traveling.
We had ice, cold, wind and flurries this week.  No snowfall accumulations like many had - thankfully. 
It is kind of funny - we are all so used to snow, ice, cold and ick (not that we like it), yet others can not even fathom what that could be like. 
For some strange reason, my allergies have been raging this week.  That is crazy considering everything outside is dead and it is so cold.

My frugal week:
  • I put away all my canning supplies until at least after the holiday season!
  • I did do a little bit of Christmas and winter decorating.  Trying to get myself into the holiday mood - it hasn't worked yet!  LOL
                                                               My little baby tree
Came across this candle holder I had forgotten about.  It holds jar candles nicely and gives a pretty glow
  • I rearranged some smaller furniture items - not much I can move, but it feels good to have it a little different
  • Air dried all the bread for dressing
  • Continued working on deep clean.  Just about done - then it will just be normal daily, weekly stuff
  • Washed and polished the hard wood floors (on hands and knees)
  • Thawed & strained some  watermelon juice I had in freezer and added it to fruit juice.  Tasty.
  • Had about a half inch left in the bottom of a wonderful smelling jar candle - chipped it out and using as melts
  • Preparing ice for company Thursday
  • We received a $250 Wal-Mart GC using bank card points!!!!
  • Ham and turkey are both out of the freezer and thawing in frig
  • Did NOT shop at all this week. Did NOT leave the property!  WOO-HOO
  • Made up my menu for Thanksgiving and checked my pantry for ingredients.  We have all we need
  • Normal weekly activities - making tea & cooling outside, laundry in cold, meals at home, using what we have, etc.
Meals this past week:
Chili with crackers and butter (I love that combo)
Chili/cheese covered rice
Chicken/rice casserole and spinach
Sloppy Joe's, green bean/corn mix and pickled veggies
Grilled cheese and tomato soup
Shepherd's Pie and salad
Chicken salad sandwiches and fresh veggies with ranch dressing
We ate apples and peanut butter, some peaches from freezer and ice cream for treats

I have absolutely enjoyed the day or two that we have seen the sun this week!  I sure do appreciate small things like that.  Cloudy skies can get you in a gloomy state for sure.

This week  (probably today) I will finish the deep clean.  I will probably start my holiday baking on Tuesday.  I have a small kitchen, so I have to do things in shifts!  There won't be many here, but I think my brother-in-law may be coming (doubtful on MIL) and we have a friend (next door) coming for dinner.  Of course I will send goodies home with both and we will enjoy leftovers for days.  That is my FAVORITE part - little or no cooking for a few days!!!!!!!
Can't wait for that cold turkey sandwich the day after.  I think I look forward to that more than any part of dinner.

What have you done this past week to stay frugal?  Any good stocking up deals?  Working on Christmas yet?
Are you all ready for Thanksgiving?
Let us know what you are up to.  Love hearing from each of you.

May you and yours have a safe and wonderful week.  Praying that all that are traveling have a safe journey.  Remember to take time to be grateful for the small things and give blessings to others whenever possible.  A smile, a kind word, a dollar - could change someone's day, week, or month.

I saw this quote the other day and loved it.  "The best you can do is the best you can do."  Bob Costas
We all need to remember that and not beat ourselves up.  NO ONE is perfect.
Just do what you can - and let the rest happen.  Life is a journey we can't predict or control.

Blessing from our humble home to yours!

Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Rule of Half

Have you ever heard of this?  
It is basically the story of my life, and has been for ages.  Now there are stories about this idea on the news!  They are saying it's the new way of thinking!  LOL- it's been the frugal way forever!!

The idea is to use half or less of just about everything.
Manufacturers recommend serving sizes, measures and uses for items.  Their purpose?  To get you to use up the product and buy more - thus making more money.
Frugal folks have been using LESS for ages and SAVING money.  This principle can be utilized for just about anything.

If you go out to eat - try buying one meal and splitting it.  Buy just appetizers and split.  Order water.  Buy one dessert (or better yet - eat dessert at home).

I like to buy concentrated fruit juice - I always add at least one extra can of water than that it states to use.  If making kids drinks like Kool-aid - use less sugar than called for.
Try using a little less coffee in a pot each day.  Use a tea bag more than once.

Soaps of all kinds can be watered down.  I have a bottle that I fill 1/3 with shampoo  - then add water.  Let it 'melt' for a day then shake.  It makes more suds than full strength.
Make you own foaming soap - 1/3 bottle (soft soap bottle) of body wash or liquid soap and fill with water.  Works perfectly.
Liquid laundry soap - I always use a lot less than recommended.  Soap doesn't easily wash out of clothes and can actually damage them.  Most people don't actually get their clothes that dirty - so less soap works fine.  Now if you have mud or grease on clothes you will need to experiment.

                       Dish soap watered down and a splash of vinegar added to help cut grease.

Along the lines of laundry soap - cut fabric softener sheets into 1/3 or 1/2 size pieces - works just as well.  Better yet, just use vinegar in your rinse - or throw in a drier ball or ball of foil into the drier.

All cleaning products can be diluted down.  Simple remedy - use vinegar and baking soda to clean.  Works for most things.
I also like peroxide instead of bleach - keeps whites white and colors brighter.
Toothpaste - use a pea size drop on brush and it works great.
Lotion - a little goes a long way.  Think about using a natural ingredient like coconut oil - a big jar can be purchased cheaply and will last for ages!

Food - if we eat less it is healthier.  There are many of us that could stand to lose a few pounds.  Meat should be consider a side, not a main course.  Use a palm size piece per person.  (I know this may take some getting used to - but try).
If using meat in soups, stews or casseroles - use half of what is called for and load up with veggies.
About the only place I don't recommend using half - is in baking.  Baking is more scientific than everyday cooking.
Meals for CHILDREN - place half of what you think they should have on the plate.  Odds are that will be enough - if not then give them more.  No more waste!!!!  Same idea with milk or juice - start with a half glass - then add more is needed.

Think along these lines with things like cable as well.  I can bet money that you only watch a portion of the channels you receive.  Cut back your package to basic!  Think Netflix or other service.  Cheaper and you still get variety.
Go back one level on Internet speed if possible.  Odds are you will not notice the change at all and it is cheaper. 
Do you really need that fancy phone?  Seriously - who  needs internet connections while shopping or in the car???  Use a simple phone and keep it for emergencies only.  Saves money on phone and plan!
I wish we could eliminate 'smart' phones - as they have truly DUMBED UP the world.  No one interacts much any more - they are spending all their time looking at the phone.
(OK - sorry that is a whole other rant!!)

Utilities - can be halved as well.  keep of lights when not truly needed.  I very seldom turn on a light during spring and summer months - as well have daylight early and late.  I use more in the fall/winter.  Turn them off when leaving a room.  Turn the heat down or the cool temp up.  Dress accordingly.
Don't just run water all willy-nilly!!!  Be mindful of what you use.  Do full loads of laundry.  Don't leave running when doing dishes, brushing teeth, etc.

The RULE OF HALF works for about everything.  It is the frugal way!  Use less - save money.
Consciously think about everything you use and at least TRY to half it.  You may be quite amazed!
You surely will save dollars and foil the plan of the manufacturers!!!!!  WIN - WIN!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Frugal Habits That I have Slowly Learned

Sometimes I think I must not be the sharpest knife in the drawer.  There are many hints and ideas that it has taken me years to learn.  Some days I am doing something, and BOOM I get this brainstorm!  LOL
I then stand there and shake my head and wonder why did that not come to me years ago.

I am always learning.  Here are a few ideas I have come across over the years that seems to make my life a little more frugal, or so it seems.

NOW is the time to ASK for those special gadgets you have been wanting.  Crockpots, Instant Pots, bread makers, vacuum sealers, canners, etc..  Maybe just maybe - Santa will bring it to you! 
Also check thrift stores and-or yard sales for those gadgets.  So many people HAVE to have the latest greatest new craze in gadgets and then they don't use them.  You can often find them for pennies on the dollar.  The biggest non-used item people sell cheaply and buy expensively is exercise equipment.  You tend to see it every where.

Get your FREE items whenever possible.  Check out Bath and Body Works - they often have coupons for FREE items.  Keep for yourself or gift.  Victoria Secret has a FREE panty program.  Crazy Kroger days (and maybe affiliates) have FREE downloads for Fridays.  Items can be received for nothing!  Sign up for WalMart freebies - I used to get lots of free samples from them.
Along these lines - REMEMBER if you love an item or hate an item - let the company know! 
They may send you coupons or free products.  They want your feedback.  There is generally a website address or toll free number on most products.

I hate being cold.  I also hate shoes!  I wear socks in the winter, but I still get cold.  NO I don't want to turn the heat up.  We all know to layer clothing and bedding to help.  I have finally learned that house shoes warm my feet in no time and then the rest of me stays warm.
We lose much heat from heads and feet.  Hats keep your head (thus you) warm outside and slippers keeps you warmer inside.

I found these memory foam slippers on a pre Christmas sale for $10 quite a while back.  They warm me up in no time.  They also have rubberized bottoms - so I can go get the mail or feed the kitties outside with them on (NO I don't wear to shop!).

We all get to the end of condiments in bottle and there is such a bit in the bottom - it doesn't seem to come out.  Things like ketchup, BBQ sauce, spicy mustard, etc. - add some water to the bottom of the jar.  Swish.  It is great to use in jazzing up your cooking.  No it probably won't work over fries or on a sandwich - but it extends the product  and makes great seasoning. NO waste.

Make sure you STOCK UP when you find great deals on seasonal sales.  Odds are you won't find the same prices for 'at least' another year (and then who knows) - so if at all possible with finances and space - stock up for a year.
Figure out how many pasta, canned good, etc. you use a week or month and multiply to have enough of a cheaply priced item for the year.  Prices are bound to go up and this is just like money in the bank.

I used to use a Tea Pot (brand name) to make my tea for iced tea.  It quit after years, so I went back to brewing tea on the stove.  We neither one was happy with it.  One day a light bulb went off - use the coffee pot!
I place my tea bags in the 'coffee' holder and fill the pot with water and run through a total of three pots - then add plain water to my jug. (I make a gallon at a time).  It is quick and works like a charm.
The coffee pot is also a great way to make 'quick' hot water for a cup of hot tea or for anything else - like hot chocolate.  Quick and easy. 
The coffee pot is for more than coffee!

Many times sponges, scrubbers (store bought) or even Magic Erasers are kind of big for most hands.  Cut them into the perfect size pieces.  I like to cut into fourths and they work great.  I tend to have to purchase less often.  It seems any time I have used a Magic Eraser, most of it is actually wasted and melts away.  No sense is just throwing money/product away.
I have many loofas that my Dad actually grew many, many years ago. (He passed in 1984).  I cut them into 3"-4" lengths and they last forever.  You can buy them at a lot of places - cut them and have more than one.  These are great for bath and kitchen chores.

Think about getting inexpensive wash cloths (same color so different from others) and use as  every day napkins or purchase cheap bandanas for napkins.  You can get different color sets for different occasions.  Darker colors are great as they don't show stains!!!

Lastly - utilize, utilize, utilize the library.  Books, movies, music - it's entertainment and educational items all for FREE!!  I realize computers offer a world of information - but there is just something about going to the library and wondering the aisles.  You find things you didn't even know you might be interested in.
Not everyone gets cable or Netflix (or other services) as they do cost.  You can get movies/videos at the library, video games, and so much more.  ALL FOR FREE
No better deal any where!

I hope this gives you something to think about.  What are some of your "DUH" ideas that hit you like a bucket of bricks?????  LOL
We all need new tricks!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Frugal Happenings 11/11

Good morning.  Happy Veteran's Day to all of our veterans past and present.  Thank you for your service.

It is a cold November morning in my area.  We have had very windy (20 mph - 45 mph) and much chillier days this week.  Friday night got down to 18* - brrrrr.  It looks like our highs will stay around the 30's and 40's this week.

Wednesday (one of 2 days that was NOT windy) there was a house fire 2 blocks south of us.  The smoke was awful and I stood on the front porch and actually watched the flames rising to the skies.  It was very scary to see.  Everyone got out, except their doggie.  I just kept thinking what a blessing it was that we were not having a windy day.  Had the usual wind of the week been blowing, many houses would have caught fire.  As it was, it sounded as if every fire truck in the city was in our area.
I can not imagine what the people of CA are going through.  Prayers for their safety and for containment.

Got a bit nostalgic yesterday.  While going to a bazaar, I drove through the neighborhood I grew up in.  Sadly our home burned years after out of our hands.  Then at the bazaar I ran into the daughter of a lady that lived 2 doors from us back in the day.  She is older and grew up with my siblings.  We talked about the old neighborhood.  Yesterday was also 2 years since my brother passed.  Just kind of a sad, yet remembering happy times, kind of day!

I am a little stiff this morning.  This body doesn't  rebound as quickly as it used to!  Things need to be done - it just takes a little longer to  re-coop from the physical labor!

My frugal week:
  • I patched and mended 3 pairs of jeans
  • Refilled all the spice bottles from bulk jars
  • I salvaged about 8 lbs. of cheese powder this week.  We had bought 10 lbs. quite some time ago. (I use a lot - just not as quickly as I thought!).  It had solidified - so I chunked it and ran through the Ninja.  I placed in smaller bags with oxygen absorbers.  All is good and I have it tucked away in old ice cream containers.
It had been in a plastic bag in a box.  Solid cheese powder it was!!!!

Now I have 13 bags and a jar for the kitchen.  I am pleased it was savable.  I am good for cheese powder for ages!!!!!!
  • I was cleaning the corner cabinet in the dining room and found a $50 bill!  YAY - I have no idea when I tucked it away or why - but it was found just in time for Christmas shopping!
  • I did a major stock-up this week on pantry items.  Turkey .37/lb. - over 20 lbs.  Baking goods and can goods .45 ea..  Aldi and Meijer shopping.  Good for the winter!
  • Ran to a Christmas Bazaar at an area church on Saturday (my first of the season).  Only spent 50 cents in the 'Grandma's Attic' section.  I got a bread machine recipe book.
  • Stopped at Kroger which was a couple blocks from bazaar and got Saturday specials.  TP and 8 oz. cheese blocks.  I also found a .99 bag of sweet potatoes.  G likes them and I don't get often.  I got 3.5 lbs. in the bag. (5 potatoes and 1 is huge)
  • I then dropped in Sav A Lot on my drive back home.  10 lbs. of Russet potatoes for 1.89!
  • I reorganized and inventoried freezers, cleaned out the frig and made some new storage areas for overstock of pantry.
  • Made a batch of grape jelly (5 pints) from freezer grapes.  Ran water through the pulp left, and made a light grape syrup to add to sparkling water for flavor.
  • Meals at home this week.  Laundry in cold.  Tea cooled out on porch handrail.  All the normal stuff
  • Made dip
  • Got the last rain barrel totally emptied and put away for the winter
  • Took the 'kitty' heater from the greenhouse apart and thoroughly cleaned.  Heater and all water bowls all plugged in for the babies and birds and squirrels. (teens and low 20's at night)
  • Raked the back yard and got leaves out on the garden area.  Still have more to come down - but made great progress
  • When reorganizing freezers - I brought inside (from garage freezer) - 5 lbs. chicken breast, 10 lbs. ground beef, 3 OJ concentrate, 2 lbs. butter, frozen peaches and grapes.  Made room for turkey/ham deals
  • Got a big bag of items ready for donation

Meals this past week:
Fried cabbage, carrots & sausage with rice
Pork chops, asparagus and tangy mac n cheese
Breaded tenderloins and leftover mac
Chicken & cheese baked spaghetti and side salad
Homemade pizza and salad
Mini cheeseburgers and baked potato wedges
Chili/cheese dogs, chips and dip

This coming week I plan on working more on my fall cleaning.  I also plan on getting all my bread dried for Thanksgiving dressing.  I hope to color my hair (oh it needs it badly).  I plan on spending a couple dark early evenings (it's dark by 6PM) addressing Christmas cards.  I can get it over with and actually do something constructive on those boring dark evenings!!!
Oh so many things to do - it just never ends.

How was your week?  Are you gals taking advantage of any of the holiday grocery sales?  How is your Christmas gifting going?
Let us know what you are up to!

I pray you all have a safe and healthy week.  May we all be filled with gratitude for all we have and a giving heart for those who have little or nothing.
Blessings from our humble home to yours.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Getting Holiday & Winter Pantry Ready

This is old gal is feeling kind of flushed today.  I have been a busy bee.  It is nice to sit down and rest my back for a few minutes.
I decided today was the day to get myself in gear and get the holiday and winter pantry sorted, arranged, cleaned out and ready to go.

I started with both of the freezers (actually last night).  I finally got outside and went through the deep freeze in the garage.  I brought a lot of items in, and placed in the upright freezer.  There was sadly a couple things that I just tossed.  I believe I had gotten them free (not that waste of free is ok), and they were very old.

Downstairs & frig freezers are now all sorted (AGAIN) and have new inventory.  Deep freeze is ready for sale turkey or hams!  YAY!

I totally cleaned out the refrigerator and combined bottles and got rid of a few.  If I have had a half bottle of something for a few months - it obviously meant we didn't LOVE it.  Washed all the shelves and re-arranged things.

I did my HUGE Aldi shop of the season this morning!  I get several things to last through the winter, just in case.  I like being prepared for anything during the holidays and I like knowing I don't have to run out for basics if the weather gets nasty.  I got several cases of veggies that I just don't grow or can myself.  I am great on fruit.  Got extra baking goods and some boxed items that we really like.

I then ran across the street from Aldi to Meijer and took advantage of .37/lb. turkey!!!!! WOOHOO.  I got a nice big one for $7 and change (limit 1).  I will use it for Thanksgiving and the others (2) that I already have went to deep freeze.  I will keep my eyes open for more cheap turkey in the next few weeks and for inexpensive hams.  Heck, you can't buy lunchmeat for .37 pound!
I got a few stocking stuffer gifts as well.

It was absolutely pooped after loading the car from Meijer, packing my groceries at Aldi and loading car - then unloading the whole mess and finding a place for it!  They need to send someone home with us to do that - don't you think???  LOL
Sadly much of my EXTRA storage is in the basement - and that gets tricky and scary, carrying things down.
I rearranged some things on some shelves we have in 2nd bedroom and made room for extra pantry storage upstairs.  That will help me make a lot less trips.  I can get extra from there - then replenish that at my leisure. 

I have one more store I want to go this week.  Sav-A-Lot has some good deals.  Potatoes are super cheap, as well as fresh sweet potatoes.  Both will last for a good while in the cool basement.

I basically had everything I needed for Thanksgiving here already - so we are also ready for whatever the holidays or winter throws our way.
I feel accomplished knowing what we have on hand and that it is orderly and accessible, and that I am well stocked for the winter.
BRING IT ON!!!!!!!

Now I just to need to finish making jellies - and using up all that fruit I brought in.  I do need to dry more bread for dressing, and finish the fall cleaning chores.  Then on to Christmas fun.

Are you taking advantage of the great deals that can be found this time of the year? 
Are you ready for Thanksgiving (in 2 WEEKS!!!!! YIKES)? 
Have you got your pantry in order and inventoried?
Now is the time!

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Challenges in Life

We all have them.  Has your life gone exactly as you thought it would 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago?  Bet not!
Life changes daily and nothing is guaranteed.  We have to go with the flow, accept what is, and MAKE the future a little brighter.

It is not just those BIG LIFE decisions - but all the smaller ones as well.  I am a big believer that everything happens for a reason.  It may never be understood what the reason is - but I think there is one.
It could be to help someone else in a specific situation.
Learning to be a better listener.
Learning to be more thoughtful.
Being a better steward of what we have (money, things, relationships, etc.)
Learning that MONEY is not the only ANSWER.
I do believe that we are all put in certain paths for a reason.  I think even something so simple as taking to a stranger at the store, has consequences (may make a stranger's day).

  1. Seriously, nothing stays the same.  Everything will change at some point.  We just have to go on the ride.
  2. Remember back on those times that you just couldn't imagine going on.  YOU DID!  You will again.  You have survived EVERY worst day ever so far!  Sadly we all have horrible things happen in life that we feel we just can't bare, but we are given the strength to go forward.
  3. LEARN from everything that happens in life.  That is part of the journey
  4. Surely we all have experienced not getting what we thought we wanted or needed.  New opportunities come along and they may be what we NEED.  Remember that thing about "when one door closes......"
  5. We get one shot at this thing called life.  ENJOY IT!!!!  Play, sing, dance, eat, laugh - have fun along the way.  How boring it would be if we didn't have a little fun. You don't need permission and you should never feel guilty about JUST enjoying things.
  6. Like yourself.  It took me years to 'get' to this point.  I made a lot of mistakes along the way, and beat myself up.  But today "I like me" - and I wouldn't be who I am, had I not had those challenges along they way.
  7. Don't give a rat's patooty what anyone thinks!!!!!  Some people just CHOOSE to be negative Nellies in life and you don't need that.  Ignore them, stay away from them, block them, do whatever you need to - keep positive!  Put YOUR sunshine into the world.
  8. ALWAYS be THANKFUL.  I woke up today!  I live in a society where I got to freely vote today.  I have my husband and family for another day.  I have the cuddles of my sweet kitties.  I have a warm home and a roof over me.  I have made many lovely friends around the world. I have enough!    Need I go on?    There is ALWAYS something to be thankful for, and I am - each and every moment of each and every day!

Life can be discouraging at times, BUT there is so much that could be worse.  There are days that we all need to put on those big girl panties and march forward.
I just thought that perhaps someone might need a 'nudge' today to get past something negative (it doesn't matter what).  I had something else planned for today's post - and when I sat down at the computer this is the direction that was chosen.
This is the month of THANKS - and we all should be thankful for what we have present in our lives today.  No matter what gets thrown at you - go forward - it will make you stronger.

REMEMBER we have each other - to listen - to confide - to learn - to comfort.
Sending love and  blessings your way, my friends.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Frugal Happenings 11/4

Happy November.  Wow, just a few short weeks and it will be Thanksgiving here in the U.S..  This year is just flying by.
I hope all that had to, got their clocks set back.  I hate this so much.  I don't feel drained in the fall, like I do in the spring - but it gets dark so much earlier.  This is not my favorite thing.

The color of the trees have finally started changing a lot - although many are now on the ground!  We had rain, rain and more rain this week.  We also had wind, wind and MORE wind.  If it wasn't so chilly I would think we are having spring storms. 
I know that November is considered one of the cloudiest months and we are seeing it.  Yesterday was gorgeous, so a little reprieve.

This week my computer decided to totally ignore Internet connection.  We had connection, G was using it, but my computer said NO!  G's uncle - who is a major computer tech, came and worked on computer for 6 hours!!!!  No go.  We had to save info and take computer back to day 1 of 6 years ago.  What a pain.  It took another 4 hours after uncle left.  Now my computer is like a new one!!!!
I guess I might not buy a new one for a while now.

My frugal week:
  • Cut G's and my hair
  • Received a coupon for a FREE full size item from Bath & Body Works (going next week)
  • Made black raspberry jelly from berries in the freezer
  • Computer completely restored and updated - cost - 1 jar of jelly!  (Would take nothing else)
  • Put 3 bags of spicy beans/rice in freezer for future Mexican meals
  • Received a Martha Stewart Living magazine in the mail.  I did not order - so not sure why!  Enjoying reading it.
  • Put away any Halloween looking d├ęcor and just left out fall decorations
  • I went out on Nov. 1 to hunt for markdown candy - NONE TO BE FOUND!  2 Kroger stores said they ordered less, so as not to 'lose' money on it after Halloween.  Wal-Mart - removed candy from shelves at midnight and by the time I got to store at noon, the Christmas candy display was already complete!!!  CRAZY!
  • I did get milk and a few odds and ends at Kroger.  Found markdown heirloom cherry tomatoes for .50 a pack.  Gal was tossing into a trash can and I asked what they heck she was doing.  She said they were dated and they said trash them.  The date was Nov. 1.  I saved all from the shelf - she wouldn't let me take the ones she had trashed.  They were perfect and taste just like fresh!!!  I shared some with our neighbor.
                                                      These normally cost 3.99 box!
  • I also got blocks of cheese at Kroger for 2.99 pound!  That is super cheap in our area.  I bought 8 pounds - which should last the winter.  I am thinking about going back for more.  We love and use a lot of cheese (especially on holiday snack plates).

Meals this past week:
Homemade beef and bean burritos, chips and salsa
Pizza bites - chips, salsa and cheese dip
Burgers and fries
Chicken and wild rice soup and biscuits
Dirty rice with ground sausage, leftover biscuits and side salad
Poor man's  Swiss steak and mashed potatoes and salad
French bread pizza (from clearance bread in freezer)

We had approximately 50 - 60 kids show up on Halloween - that is the smallest amount of kids ever in 32 years!  About 7:00 PM it started pouring rain, so poor kids didn't have a chance!  I do have plenty of candy left, but sure thought I would find some bargains on it to last the year.  Guess it was not meant to be.  We'll see what happens after Christmas!

This next week, I really need to get more fall cleaning done.  I also have some errands to run in the next town south of us (about 20 minutes away.)  I like combining all errands into one trip to save gas.
I still need to make more jelly from frozen fruit.

How was your week?  Any deals this week?  Staying frugal?
Anyone getting ready for the holidays?

May you and yours have a great week.  Praying that everyone stays good, kind and happy.
Blessings from our humble home to yours.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Organizing - the different pantries

Good morning. 
I do believe we all have several pantries in our homes.  Many may not think of some things as pantries - but it helps when you do.

Yes we have food, but what about gifts, health, crafts, freezers?  I think we all have separate areas for these things - so if you look at them as different pantries - it will help when stocking.

FOOD pantries -
Try to keep them organized - it aids you in saving money and knowing what you need.  If you have things that have gotten stuck in the back - it may end up going to waste, and also you may go out and spend money on something you already have.
*  Always put oldest items to the front - use them first
*  Organize by category - keep soups together, fruit together, spices, baking items, dressings and condiments, pasta, etc.  You see where I am going with that?  It makes it so much easier finding things.
*  Don't buy things you won't use!!!!!!
*  Get creative - use up things that are getting older to make something new or different.  Don't waste. 
*  If you have a secondary or over flow pantry area - keep like items together and know what you have.  'Shop' from it before going to the store.
*  If you have little ones around - maybe keep a snack basket for them at their level
*  Check your pantry before you go shopping - know what you are low on, what you have plenty of, and what you might get if the price is right.  Don't run out of things - it costs you extra money!!!!  If you are anything like me - it is almost impossible to walk in a store and buy ONE THING!

It is harder (for me) to use older items first.  I have a tendency to get new items and stick them in the front.  I am usually in a hurry - and that is where they go.  NOT GOOD!  We need to be as efficient with our freezers as our dry pantries.
It is VERY wise to do a sorting, organizing, clean out, inventory, what ever you want to call it at least 2X a year.
I noticed reader LaurieS said on FB that she did hers this week.  It is amazing what we can find in there.  Her mission is to use up the older stuff.  I did this a while back as well.
Good job Laurie!!!!
If you all think about it, write down what you have and stick that on the freezer - it sure does help to use it up!
Keep those frozen goods organized as well.

Debby in KS mentioned in the comments on the last post - to get that cold/flu pantry stocked now.  VERY WISE!  It is that time of the year - that folks will be getting sick.  You sure don't want to run out or have someone else come in while your sick - no need making others sick.  Have tissues, cold meds, antihistamines, Pepto, Vitamin C and Zink,  clear liquids, soothing soups, etc.  Stock up on all those items that will help you feel better.
Keep it where you can get to it and have it sorted by product.  You sure don't ant to go searching for stuff when you feel bad.

I just recently went through my gift basket to see what I have on hand.  I have a huge tote that holds items I purchased on sales/clearance all year long.  It sure does help with Christmas baskets I make up.  It is also nice to have items on hand for special gifts - birthday, cheering up someone, maybe even helping a random stranger.
It aids in not spending as much money at the holidays.  This can be an expensive time of the year for a lot of people.  Some people go into debt for gift giving - DON'T do that!!!!!!  Buy along the way and you will be ready!
Keep an area JUST FOR gift items.  Keep it straightened so nothing gets lost in the shuffle.

Many of you craft items for gifts.  Keep those items together and keep you supplies organized and together.  Shop at sales and use coupons.  Keeping your crafting and sewing area organized saves money and time.
Norma does a lot of crafting for Vets and those in need.  She is always on the lookout for yarn in different places.  If she weren't organized with her supplies, she would spend a lot more money.
I know my crafting/sewing area is always in need of organization.  I see some gals post pictures of their areas and I am envious!

Organization saves so much money.  If you keep the many pantries of your home organized you will easily find what you need when you need it, you won't have items go to waste, and you will MOST DEFINATELY save money.
Each one of you has a special talent and can be so creative.  It is heartwarming to read all the comments you all leave, and know that there are so many special gals gathered together here willing to help one another.
It is nice that we each add ideas and tips to make life a little easier for all.
Thank you!

Now go and get organized!!!!!  LOL