Thursday, December 21, 2017

It's December!

It is indeed the most wonderful time of the year!  I hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful season as much as I am!
each fall and winter I look forward the first cool weather so I can enjoy a baby bonfire
I recently realized that I have been so busy savoring the moments of life, that I have been totally delinquent in recording them here.  So much for the "dailies", lol. Nonetheless, it has still been, (although simply lived) extraordinary.

Christmas day is looming large on the horizon...

I, long ago, decided not to let the pressure of marketing campaigns, and expectations of others, guilt me into spending beyond our budget, whatever it happened to be at the time.  It all began when I was a single mom of three small children.  I did the best I could with what I had and made do.  I've always enjoyed baking and making treats and gifts from the kitchen, so since that can help in keeping gift giving costs low, that was the bulk of gifts I gave to friends, family and co-workers.  I also enjoyed crafting and would occasionally make handmade crafty items to give.  (True, not everyone appreciated a homemade gift.  There are people in the world that feel that if you haven't spent a pretty penny on a gift, that it isn't worthy.  I couldn't allow that to be my problem.)  In all honesty, I do occasionally struggle with this.  But I find my equilibrium again and move forward...and ENJOY the season simply.

These days, all our children are grown and my gift giving list has shrunk to close family and those who perform and provide services for us.  For those, we usually gift them a little cash.  Having come from the service industry ourselves, my hubby and I both know how hard they work, and how much that little bit of extra money can mean, so we plan and budget for it.  Also, we no longer have co-workers and an extensive list of friends that requires me to come up with many, many gifts to give.

As far as decorating goes, in the past I would put out many decorations all around the house.  The past few years I have put out only a few, well chosen decorations that I mostly had on hand.  The Christmas tree, stockings on the hearth, a wreath on the front door and cards that we receive in the mail from friends and family.  This year I framed our front door with a strand of colorful lights, bought two beautiful pink poinsettias to set outside on each side of the front door and also a white narcissus bulb to force in water.  Simple. Cozy. Homey.
So, the theme of our Christmases these past few years has become: "simplify".
a simple breakfast of cinnamon toast on a chilly morning
I'm quite enjoying this newer, quieter season in our lives.  (As much as I love my children, I've never been a morning person and do not miss those crack of dawn, call-to-action-to-see-what-Santa-left, mornings.  GASP!~hey, just being honest.)  In this new season of life, with it's slow, quiet mornings, no pressure afternoons and lazy evenings, I have decided to add another theme along with "simplify".  And that is "savor".
slow cooker bean and ham soup on a winter's eve
Don't get me wrong.  I still have that soft, annoying, nagging voice that likes to remind me of all the things we can't do since my husband has become disabled and is in constant pain.  I struggle with it.  I wrestle with it, sometimes until I feel bruised and bloodied emotionally.  But, I always come back to the fact we still have SO much to be grateful for.  We still have SO much more than many others.  And it could ALWAYS be worse.  And then I find it easier to adjust my attitude from discontent, to gratitude.  And that is a much, much nicer place to dwell!

Wishing you joy and peace in this hustle and bustle holiday season!

Thanks for stopping by! ~TJ

Friday, December 1, 2017

Five Frugal Things ~ December 1, 2017

Happy December!  I know everyone says it but, can you believe we are in December already?!  This year has flown.

With Christmas looming, I am doing my bit of shopping.  I have never been one to be extravagant with gift giving, usually setting a limit of not more than $100 per person.  Now that my children are older, and decisively more choosy, I buy them gift cards to their favorite places so they can get exactly what they want.  They are much happier with that than receiving gifts they really don't care for.  And I feel letting them choose gifts that they really want is much more "frugal" in the long run because they actually use the item rather than it ending up in the trash. I figure it also alleviates the possibility of them associating any guilt for getting rid of a present their mama or mamaw gave them.  Win, win.

Oh, I still buy little hand picked gifts for their stockings, and I like to gift homemade baked goodies and tins of popcorn and nuts.  Sometimes I might sew or make them things.  I don't think anyone walks away from the tree on Christmas day feeling unloved or unhappy.

All that to say, November and December aren't the frugalist (is that even a word?  If not, now it is, haha!) of months for us in many ways, but I still continue my daily frugal endeavors no matter what month or time of year.  It is just ingrained in me.  (My daughter and I were cracking up this evening at all my penny pinching escapades...I was laughing so hard at myself I had tears streaming down my cheeks!  We have a good time together.)

So, this past week I:

•  bought only a loaf of bread as far as grocery shopping goes, since we are pretty well stocked up in our larder and freezers.  I used to bake our bread until my food processor bowl broke.  I don't knead.  Call me lazy or whatever you want.  I still won't knead.  I'm sure it's only a matter of time before we get a new bread kneading contraption though, since I 've gone through two bread machines & the aforementioned bowl in my breadmaking career.  So...fear not.

•  went to the dollar theater in our area for a mother daughter date.  We like to find inexpensive ways to have a little girl time together on occasion.

•  used Christmas decorations we have on hand to decorate for the season.

•  making a point to hold off on purchases for as long as possible, until a) we absolutely must purchase the item out of necessity, b) I find an item I already have on hand that I can use instead, or c) I decide I can live without the item.

•  froze or finished most of the leftovers from our Thanksgiving meal with minimal waste.  The exceptions were the key lime pie that no one liked, so most of it got thrown away.  It truly pains me to throw out food but it was just not going to get eaten.  I didn't know anyone else that might have liked it or I would have given it away.

 I hope you are finding fun ways of minding your money during this season of indulgence!

Thanks for stopping by! ~TJ

Friday, November 24, 2017

Five Frugal Things ~ November 24, 2017

*this post contains affiliate links 
As far as I am concerned, this is the most wonderful time of the year!  I cannot sing the praises of Autumn enough.  In the heat of summer, I exclaim that I  am in no way, shape or form, an outdoorsy girl.

Ohhhh, but come fall, I  can't get enough of the great outdoors.  With it's cool, crisp mornings, golden hazy afternoons, and brisk evening sunsets, if you need me, I'll be outside.

Even though I would like nothing more than to frolick with the leaves that flutter gently to the ground, I still must stay focused on frugality.  So this week I:
my absolute FAVORITE SPF (50!!!) lotion~you can find it here
•  condensed any jarred or bottled product that was almost empty.  Skin care lotion, mustard and dish soap were each inverted and placed on top of the new product so that I could get every last possible drop!

•  used some Amazon points that I earned on a credit card (that I pay off each month so I don't get charged interest) to pay for an Amazon order.

•  redeemed $25 in Swagbucks earnings and loaded it to my PayPal account.

•  made bread pudding with vanilla sauce using leftover bits of bread, pumpkin spice muffins and banana walnut bread.

•  made a delicious pork fried rice using a lone, leftover pork chop.

I hope your Thanksgiving was delightfullying delish!

Thanks for stopping by! ~TJ

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving 2017

For those who celebrate it, I hope you had a Thanksgiving that was everything you wanted it to be!

We had a low key celebration this year.  Hubby is unable to stand in the kitchen for long elaborate cooking sessions any longer and I don't have the desire to do all that we used to either.  So we agreed to pare down the menu to just absolute favorites.  Even still, we had a lot of food to prepare!

The cooking and preps began the day before Thanksgiving.  I baked/heated the frozen (no shame here!  After cooking everything from scratch for years, I'm over it.  I'm tired, I  tell ya!) pumpkin and pecan pies.  I baked the pumpkin crunch bars and put the frozen cream pies (Edward's brand turtle, strawberry and key lime) in the fridge to thaw.  That took care of the copious amounts of desserts.  I prepped the stuffing and cheese dip.  Even taking all these shortcuts, I was in the kitchen for a good while.

On the big day, I put the ham in the crock pot and made it according to the recipe hubby discovered on Facebook.  Easy.  Our daughter made the candied sweet potatoes like her daddy always made them (we sure miss his cooking, and I know he misses not being able to cook his specialties, but she did a great job on them) while I roasted the brussels sprouts and made gravy.

It was all very laid back and relaxing with no time pressures.  We loved it!

I would love to hear how you spent your day and all about your family's favorite dishes!

Thanks for stopping by! ~TJ

PS~ If you've read this far and we're scratching your head wondering where the turkey was, well...we have burnt out on turkey.  None if us love it so we just don't have it.  But ham, now that's a different story...😊

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Simple Living, Extraordinary Life ~ The Dailies (sort of) 11/14/17~11/21/17


Of course I intended to "journal" more often than this, but a little over a week ago, on a Friday, my daughter had the day off.  We spent some Mumzy/Mumzy Jr time together by thrift shopping at our favorite thrift stores and then begrudgingly (*wink* I jest because we LOVE mexican food) obliging hubby's request to stop by our nearby taqueria to bring home dinner.

At the thrift stores, after heading to the book displays firstly, as I always do, a found four books that looked interesting to me.  Being the hardcore bookworm that I am, that was all it took to trigger a swan dive into a reading marathon that sucked me in like a rip tide and spit me out just in time to come ashore to man our Thanksgiving dinner prep.  I lost track of all space, time and focus.  And here we are.  

Yes, I took care of the necessities of life: bathing, eating, sleeping.  But heaven help me, when I get lost in a good book, all bets are off.  I'm sure my fellow bibliophiles can relate and will relate and forgive me for neglecting this here little blog of mine.

Just so you don't think all I did was read for a week, we must also factor in the fact that this is my ab-so-lute favorite time of the year. Ahhh yes, AUTUMN.  The time when we get a reprieve from the heat and humidity that I have never been friends with in my whole life. But. NOW. I am menopausal and have discovered a new hell on earth: heat + humidity + hot flashes + bosom sweat = MISERABLE (pronouncing it with a Spanish accent takes some of the sting out of it).

Therefore, I have made it my job to enjoy all things outdoors that I feel might literally kill me (or at least make me pass out) in the other 355 days of summer that we have in these here parts.  I've been biking, hiking, gardening, and simply lounging on the patio savoring the golden afternoon light.  While I can.  Priorities.  A girl must have priorities.  

I'd love to hear about your Autumn activities & how you wile away the glorious days of Fall.

Thanks for your patience and...

thanks for stopping by! ~TJ

Friday, November 10, 2017

Five Frugal Things ~ November 10, 2017

This past week, my frugal adventures were:

•  I took advantage of the wonderful November grocery sales at Kroger and used the opportunity to stock up several items in our pantry and freezer, in order to see us through the year, until next November.

•  I used coupons in a booklet I was given at Petsmart (because we adopted our cat from the local shelter) to receive free cat and dog foods.  I simply presented the adoption paperwork and the little flyer I was given at the shelter to the cashier, and she handed me the coupon booklet with many "freebie" coupons, and several money saving coupons, on a variety of pet supplies!  I still have some coupons for free items that I will use next time.

•  I washed and dried a sheet of foil that was only used to cover a cake in a 9x13" pan.  I also continued my habit of washing, drying and saving zipper style bags.  If they are easy enough to wash quickly, and haven't stored greasy items or raw meats, they are fair game to be reused, in my opinion!

•  used a coupon for a free container of cat litter,  saving us $7.99!

•  a $40 fee was waived for us on a service that we needed to have performed!  (Businesses have been lenient on certain things in this area since hurricane Harvey's flood waters devastated so many lives here.)

I hope this offers encouragement to you if you are attempting to save money for things you may need or want or just trying to spend less!

Thanks for stopping by! ~TJ

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Simple Living, Extraordinary Life ~ The Dailies 11/8/17

US flag at the post office. SO thankful for the men and women who serve our country!
It's midweek!  Today's weather is much more to my liking.  It's cloudy and cool, with a high of 68°F.

We started our day in the usual laid back way.  I warmed up some apple, raisin, cinnamon oatmeal for hubby's breakfast from the big batch I made a couple of days ago (I usually aim for three days worth of meals when I do "big batch" cooking if it is something I don't intend to freeze).  I've never been big on eating when I first wake up so I just sit and have my coffee with him while he eats, and we converse about the day ahead and life in general.

A little while later, I take Dollface for a quick walk and then let Galahad out, first in the front yard on his leash while we keep him company, and then in the backyard on his tie out.  After bringing him in, I had to run a couple of errands.  First to the post office to see about having a new lock installed on our mailbox, and then to Target to pick up an order I placed online and had delivered to the store.  I ended up doing a little "window shopping" while I was there but I behaved myself and didn't buy anything!  I did, however, treat myself to a Starbucks frappuccino, as I had just enough to cover it on a gift card that had been given to me.

At day's end, I reflect on how peaceful the day was, how smoothly it went, and how thankful I am for it!

I hope you enjoyed your day!
Thanks for stopping by! ~TJ


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