Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Three Years and Two Months Later

Photo credit: dreamstime.com

September 12, 2012 rocked our world. My soul mate had a stroke that left him in the hospital for a month, and in physical therapy for many more months afterward. It left him without feeling in the left side of his body. Well, except for pain. Excruciating pain called thalamic pain syndrome. It left us navigating months of major change in our marriage and family life. And because I've never been good at handling change, especially one of this magnitude, I found myself in a sad and lonely place. I went through all the stages of grief and settled somewhere in a neighborhood known as Comfortably Numb. Not a great place to live.

I'm happy to say, after three years and two months of living in this state, I'm starting to climb my way out of the deep, dark hole I let myself fall into. It's taking daily effort and I'm sure I will still have days I struggle, but I am embracing the fact that I'm beginning to feel like "me" again. And that's a wonderful feeling I wasn't sure I would ever experience again.

That's why I've been absent from my little online journal here. 

Sure, I realize there are worse fates in life, I don't discredit those going through them. This is just my reality and I'm ashamed to say, I haven't handled it as well as others handle things that happen to them that are so much worse.

So, now I'm ready to write. To get it off my chest. And share what I'm doing to take baby steps back to more balance and normalcy in my life. Our new normal. Maybe in baring my soul, (which I'm not really all that good at) it can help someone else going through ______________ (fill in the blank).

I'll be back. But for today, smile. Just smile. Every so often, I just force my mouth muscles into a smile and just hold it there. Not a creepy, crazy smile. Just a "content with this moment" smile. And surprisingly, it lifts my mood ever so slightly. That can be MAJOR.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Five Frugal Things for the Week of 10/12 - 10/18/14

This past weeks five frugal things are...

1) Went through my fridge and made sure to put anything in the freezer that might be in danger of going bad soon. A couple of things I froze was pico de gallo in 1/2 cup containers (I figure I can use these in taco soup or something similar) & leftover ricotta cheese that didn't get used in the pasta dish I bought it for (I bought too much).

2) I took advantage of Randall's freebie deals & got a 22 oz Chili's frozen meal; a Dannon Creamery caramel flavored cheesecake dessert & chewable calcium 50 ct. Whoo hoo! I was so excited! (I gotta start watching for these...and for Kroger's Friday freebies too.)

3) I found some seed packets that were marked down to .20 each and bought a few varieties I didn't already have.

4) I got 2-2lb. packages of lunch meat and a 1 lb. package of breakfast sausage that were all marked down 50% to put in the freezer. The fam likes ham (:

5) Continued to use things I have on hand rather than giving in to the temptation to buy more. Such as drinking tea from my tea stash and putting blinders on when I'm going past the teas in the store (WHYYYYY am I so tempted by certain things???!!! Lipstick & fingernail polish, I'm lookin' at you!) 

I'd love to hear some of your frugal things! Have a frugalicious day!!!~TJ

Social Media Madness!

*Notice: links may take you to sites that serve to help me earn a few extra pennies to help support this blog and my family. Thanks for your support!~TJ

Well...not really...I'm not a social media maven but I post once in a while. I'm trying to get better, lol! On the bright side, I don't blow up anyone's account with oversharing!

I'd love for you to come on over to my Facebook page & give it a "like"! And let me know yours so I can get to know you too!

I'm also on Instagram & twitter: @AvonLadyTJ

Hope to "see" you there!!!~TJ

Friday, October 17, 2014

Dinner Menus

This past week we dined on:

>>>homemade salmon croquettes with dill sauce, sliced fresh tomatoes with cracked black pepper and pink Himalayan sea salt
>>>grilled ham & cheese sandwiches with chips
>>>pinto bean and sausage stew; corn on the cob & homemade corn bread

For a sweet treat I made Fantastic Cinnamon Raisin Bread! Winner!!!

Between the salmon croquettes recipe, which I doubled, and the pinto bean and sausage stew, which made enough for more than two meals, we were set for the week!

I'd love to hear some of your delicious meals! I need all the inspiration I can get, lol!

Here's to tasty treats & eats!~TJ

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Everyone's "Frugal" is Different

I read money saving type blogs as often as my life allows. And I've noticed that ideas about frugality are all as varied as the people who write about them. And that's OK. Each person has a different set of circumstances and a millionaires idea of thrifty will likely be completely different than mine or yours. That's what I think makes each thrifty/frugal/money saving blog interesting. And educational. I learn something from each and every one.

My hubby always brags to people that I can stretch a penny so far that it cries for mercy. As flattered as I feel that he's proud enough of that fact to actually share with people he knows (and not embarrassed by it), I know that I, by no means can hold a candle to some of you. And there was a time that I had to be even more careful and thrifty with my money. But seasons change in our lives and with that the wiggle room with which we can spend.

I was reading a blogger the other day that was sheepishly telling her readers that she and her spouse had decided to raise their grocery budget. She felt she might be letting her readers down since she has a money saving blog. But there's no shame in that! (You go girl!) She/they have been blessed and possibly wouldn't be able to get to the point of spending more money now if they hadn't been more careful with their money up until this point. Even still, I remember reading long ago when they were having to be veeeerrry frugal, that they decided that her having her hair professionally done (colored & cut I think. Ohhh, my sad little memory!) was an expense they felt was worth it. Then and even today, I couldn't begin to be as "with it" as she budget wise and I prefer to color my own hair. (I tried twice to have a "professional" color and highlight my hair & figured I could do as well myself. I do have someone cut my hair though.) Anyway, I'm only bragging on this blogger-I think it's great! 

And I would wish prosperity for everyone. But sometimes we have situations beyond our control, and there's is no shame in that. We just have to do our best with what we have and pray for better times.

And thank goodness for a gazillion money saving websites to glean knowledge from! Because...

when we know better, then we can do better. 
Hey, when I started researching frugality, my "internet" was the public library. Amy Dacyzyn (The Tightwad Gazette) anyone? Yeah. I'm that old.
Here's wishing you all the prosperity you can bear!~TJ

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Five Frugal Things for the Week of 10/5 - 10/11/14

I had started doing "Five Frugal Things" a long while back but I'm beginning to think I have a touch of ADD & it somehow got dropped along the way. In honor of my renewed desire to be better with da money that is entrusted to me, I thought I'd fire that baby back up! So without further ado...this past weeks (drumroll please, heheh)...

Five Frugal Things
1)  I went back to making my homemade laundry detergent. There's so many recipes for this around but I use an easy to remember 1 bar Ivory soap grated; 1 cup borax, 1 cup washing powder & 1 cup baking soda. Dump & stir, shake...whatever you gotta do to mix that stuff up. Then I use 1-2 tablespoons of it in my front loader, depending on how dirty our laundry is. I remove that little detergent cup thingy in the drawer so as not to clog it up with the powdered laundry detergent. I have also continued to use white vinegar for fabric softening but will occasionally use liquid Downy on the items that don't need to be absorbent (apparently towels & whatnot don't absorb as well when you use fabric softener on them).
2)  I continue to plant seeds in hopes of having more veggies  & herbs to help cut down on the grocery bill.

3)  I bought two dog toys marked down 50%. I always check the markdown & clearance areas in the stores I frequent. You just never know what you will find and when I find products I use anyway...SCORE!!!

4)  I've been keeping a large bowl in the kitchen sink to catch runoff water from washing our hands, rinsing veggies, etc. I use this water to water my plants. I've been surprised to realize that this is enough water to water ALL of my plants each day. The outdoor container plants usually need to be watered everyday so this is saving on our water bill!

5)  And speaking of water, I have been making a concerted effort to turn water off during times it might normally be running down the drain unused. For instance, when showering, after wetting my hair & body, I turn the water off, soap and shampoo up before turning the water back on to rinse off. Or while brushing my teeth, I turn the water off while brushing and then turn it back on again to rinse. 

These are all little things but they add up! And as I always say to my eye rolling family (usually while picking a penny up on the sidewalk), if you have enough pennies you can be a millionaire! Well, it's true.

Have a great day!~TJ 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Saving...It's a New Day

This past month we have had to adopt a new way of thinking. We knew it was coming. My hubby is now officially retired and with that comes a new level of budgeting. Even though he is in charge of finances and bill paying (because, really, he is so much better at it than I), I try to do my part in being frugal in the areas that I spend, mainly groceries, gift giving and personal spending such as clothing and beauty items.

Where groceries are concerned, I do prefer to spend more for organic milk, cream, sour cream and most cheeses, some organic produce (I go by the "dirty dozen" list when deciding how to spend on organic produce) and occasionally other organic food items. For whatever reason I haven't wrapped my head around yet, I still buy regular butter, cream cheese and American cheese slices. Mostly because I have to "pick my battles" so to speak moneywise and also because hubby is particular about his American cheese (: Anyway, I do what I can.

I also prefer to spend the extra money to purchase humanely raised chicken and eggs. I would love to buy organic, grass fed but again, money is not a limitless supply around here so I do the best I know how. We don't eat tons of beef although hubby loves him a good ribeye! When I buy fish it's wild caught.

All that being said, if it ever came down to spending the extra money for organics & higher priced items or going hungry, I will definitely make fillin' our tummies the priority!

But for now, in order to be able to continue to afford to buy these higher priced items, I will do my best to be as economical as possible in all other areas. For example, I've decided that I have enough makeup, lotions & potions to last until the cows come home (& I don't own any cows so they wont be comin' home any time soon!) so I have put myself on a "makeup starvation diet". I will stick to my favorite frugal motto which is...

Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.
I am determined to continue to use what I have until I have used up the last little bit of any particular items until I am totally out and then I will go out and replenish the item. I started doing this in the past in order to try and declutter a bit. But I fell off the wagon. I'm only human...

Back to the grocery budget...a few things I am going to begin doing on a regular basis are
  • making all our bread. We love our French bread recipe and having the luxury of having my bread maker, it wont be a sacrifice, it will be a pleasure! (note~I prefer to use the dough cycle only and bake breads off in the oven.)
  • baking in general. Cakes & cookies are easy and economical enough, especially when I stick to tried & true recipes for basic sweet treats like oatmeal cookies, peanut butter cookies, and chocolate chip cookies. And to make things easy on myself, I've started making bar cookies to save the time of dropping each. little. cookie. tray. after. tray. It's one stop shopping! I also have favorite recipes for quick sweet breads (zucchini! and banana! Yum!) And muffins and cakes! Oh my! Biscuits and pancakes have become hubbys specialties.
  • building up our stockpile/pantry with sale items.

For now, that is what I am really, really, really going to concentrate on. I know all these things. I've done all these things during lean years of being a single mom to three chirren. But more prosperous times led me in new directions. Well, it's time to tighten the belt a bit again so we will be able to continue to enjoy many things that we have for a good long time.

Little things I already do and have been doing in the kitchen (because I'm basically a frugal chick anyway) are:
  • make my own broths from bones & veggie scraps.
  • wash & reuse (fairly clean-no greasy, meaty ones) Ziploc bags & aluminum foil.
  • look up recipes in order to be able to use ingredients I already have on hand. Online searches make this fairly easy.
  • improvise a bit when cooking & following certain recipes. Sometimes I just don't have the ingredient called for so I do an online search for substitutions for the ingredient the recipe calls for. After years (and yeeeeeaaaars) of cooking, I feel a little more comfortable doing this.
  • I save that bacon grease y'all. To season all kinds of good things mainly veggies/green beans. I'm not sure if that's just a southern thing or not.
  • Meatless meals and simple meals. We don't always require a big production when it comes to meals. Sometimes a quick sandwich with chips or fries suit us just fine. Leftovers make for a quickie meal as well. And some days we just graze. I portion out a lot of meals that make too much for us and that serves for other meals in the future.
  • I cook up dried beans and divide them up into two cup portions to freeze for future recipes.
  • I try to buy in bulk when it will be economical. If I can store it safely for future use I'll buy it. But only if it's the better deal. Sometimes buying smaller sizes end up being cheaper. My calculator is my friend for figuring out price per ounce/pound etc. 
There are so many little things I do on a daily basis that have become second nature that I can't begin to think of and list them all right now, but this gives an idea of some of the things I do.

It's all about balance.

Thanks for stopping by!~TJ


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