Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Welcome Fall!

I have been mia lately due to being under the weather.  While I was recuperating, Autumn ushered herself in!  If I had to choose, I would say that Autumn is my absolute fave-o-rite season of the year, with winter coming in a close second.  Any season that gives me a reprieve from our hot and humid weather here on the coast is welcomed with wide open arms.

Speaking of cool weather, today was such a day!  We had a high of 76°, and tolerable levels of humidity. There was just enough of a chill in the air once the sun began sinking into the horizon, that I was glad I had made a big ol' pot of slow cooker loaded potato soup (recipe will be posted soon)!  Creamy and comforting, it really hit the spot.  I garnished each bowl with additional cheese, sour cream, green onions (from my container garden that I grew from store bought leftover root-y bits) and pan fried bacon bits (found two packages marked down 50% and kept in the freezer until needed).  Hubby ate his with saltines, DD & I went the low carb route *wink* and passed on the crackers. (Note to self: buy some oyster crackers for that man of mine to eat with his soups.  A guy has to have some cracker variety!)

I hope this finds you enjoying some beautiful weather and eating delicious food!

Thanks for stopping by! ~ TJ 

PS~ I'd love for you to come on over & follow me on Instagram when you get a chance! See you there~~~

Friday, September 22, 2017

Five Frugal Things ~ September 22, 2017

The giveaway jewelry set (see end of post).
 Well, howdy y'all!  I hope you had a delightfully frugal week!  Mine was, for the most part.  A few things I did to save my pennies were:

•  I collected seeds from my four o'clock plants, which I  will continue to do until they are done producing seeds.  Hopefully, I won't have to buy any more seeds for this dainty little flower ever again.  It has survived even the most brutal heat we've had, AND even on the days I neglected to water it! (I try to water everyday during the summer months here.  One day of watering neglect can often be the death of my more delicate plants and seedlings.)

•  I planted out some zinnia seedlings that I grew from seeds.  I'm cheering them on as we speak!

•  I saved two one pound plastic salad containers to use as mini greenhouses to start seedlings in.  This will expand my seed starting "operation" without me having to buy seedling trays.

•  I have been giving the old college try to watching what I eat, thus cutting back on the grocery bill some.

•  The weather has been a bit cooler these past few days (!)
, allowing me to cut back on watering outside.

How has your week been?  If you are still in the throes of hurricane recovery, you are still in my prayers.  Be gentle with yourself and don't forget to take care of yourself the best you can.  Even though it may not feel like it right now, this too shall pass.

Thanks for stopping by! ~TJ

A BIG PS~ I am having a little giveaway over on my Avon Lady TJ Facebook page !  Stop by and join in!  YOU just might be the winner!πŸ‘‡

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Use it Up ~ Empties August 2017

*This post contains affiliate links that may put a bit of change in our pockets if you click on them and make a purchase.  This is at no additional cost to you.   My family and I greatly appreciate your use of them and support of this blog!

Along with the foods in our pantry, fridge and freezer, I have been determined to use up products that I have on hand before buying something new that may be catching my eye, creating temptation.  Sometimes that involves searching the deep recesses of closets and cabinets when I have a vague memory of buying multiples of an item in the past.  This month I managed to use up several products, giving me a sense of accomplishment towards my money saving goal.

I will also offer my opinion of the product, for what it's worth, and whether I plan on purchasing the item again.

•  Masqueology Collagen Lifting Cream Mask ~ I purchased this product either at Walmart or Target but you can find a similar one here.  I enjoy, and believe in, pampering myself from time to time, and for under three dollars I believe this little mask is worth it.  I keep these in the veggie crisper drawer of our fridge so this creamy mask felt cool and soothing.  $ saving tip:  I use these type masks more than once, until there is no more liquid or serum left in the packet.  I neatly fold the mask back up, slide it back in the packet and seal it all up in a zipper type sandwich bag and back in the fridge it goes!  I learned this trick from a lady that purchases high end masks and I figure, if it's good enough for her, it's good enough for me!
Will I buy again? Most definitely!

•  Suzanne Organics Healthy Glow Body Lotion ~ I enjoyed the subtle glow this light lotion gave my very fair skin, and the fact that it was a certified toxic free organic product.  In the future, I would love to purchase this item again as I prefer to use items that are as toxic free and organic as possible (or as close to that as I can afford).  At this time however, the price of this item doesn't align with my money saving goals.  So when I want a subtle, sunless tan, I will use my Avon sunless tanners and lotions for a beautiful glow at a fraction of the price!

•  Anew Platinum Firm and Sculpt Cream for Neck and Chest ~ I have enjoyed slathering on this luxurious cream before bed and will likely purchase again at some point in the future during a really good sale.  I am currently using a newly opened jar of this but discovered another, different neck lotion that had worked it's way to the back of my shelf. I will move into using that one when this jar runs out.

•  Flexitol Heel Balm ~ ever since reading that Dr. Phil's wife, Robin, swore by this product for smooth feet, I have purchased, and loved the products' results! Even after comparing the ingredients to other less expensive foot products, I keep buying this one.  I don't know how many tunes I have already gone through over the years but, money diet or no money diet, I will definitely keep buying this.  A girl has gotta have smooth feet, right?!

•  Avon Skin So Soft Satin Glow products ~ I do love the end result these self tanner gels and lotions give, so by the time Avon is offering them again next summer, I will probably have run through my stash and will purchase again.  The price is always reasonable compared to other brands and it allows me to have a little color on my glow in the dark pale skin.  The only reason I might not purchase in the future is if I decide to tighten my spending even more.

•  Dr Scholl's Stylish Step Clear Cushioning Insoles for Flats ~ for less than ten dollars, these allow me to wear my beloved ballet style flats when out and about in comfort for a longer period of time.  As I have gotten older, I have lost some natural Cushioning in the soles in my feet and much to my orthopaedic foot surgeon's dismay, I'm not ready to live in running shoes.  These handy little insoles allow me to still feel stylish while providing comfort.  Not necessarily ALL DAY comfort but for long enough to do a little shopping and errand running.  I will buy these again when needed.  For the time being, I am able to switch them into whatever pair of shoes I want to wear for my outings, allowing me to be able to use the one pair in different pairs of shoes.

•  Assorted skin care samples ~ I like to try before I buy whenever possible so I am a big fan of free samples.  I actually used the whole little sample packets of these two Avon products (there was enough product in them for several uses) rather than forgetting about them while they dried up in their little pouch and ending up in the trash.  I simply folded over the opened part and set them on my shelf where they were not "out of sight, out of mind", ensuring they got used up.  Speaking of which, if you would enjoy receiving a little complimentary sample package of assorted products from me and my Avon business, just let me know~I love sharing our wonderful products with friends!

If you have any questions about any of these products that I didn't cover, don't hesitate to ask!

Thanks for stopping by! ~TJ

Friday, September 15, 2017

Five Frugal Things ~ September 15, 2017

Encouragement from an afternoon walk that Autumn temperatures will soon be on their way!
This week's frugal five are again, little things that all add up.  This week I:

•  used bubble bath that I had on hand to refill a hand soap dispenser when both it, and my large refill bottle, ran out.  I didn't want to make a special trip just for that one item (which inevitably turns into several items by the time I leave the store!). The bubble bath was thick enough that I ended up adding some water to it to thin it out a bit.

•  finished the last little bits of a few different products.

•  received several cents off coupons for, and a coupon for a free package of, cat litter.

•  transplanted plants that had self sown in out of the way places to brighten up bare spots in the garden.  Propagated a couple of plants from cuttings of plants I already own.

•  only ran errands on one day this past week rather than my usual couple of errand running days.

I hope you found some new ways to save money this week!

Thanks for stopping by! ~TJ

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

My Reflections on Hurricane Harvey 2017

*I would like to preface this post by saying this is my, and my family's experience ONLY.  I know that others in the path of hurricane Harvey, and now Irma, have suffered damage, loss and heartbreak that I cannot begin to fathom.  And devastation that we did not experience.  While I am thankful and grateful to God that we were spared, my heart and prayers and donations are with those that were not.  Survivors, I encourage you to try to believe and remember, although it may not feel like it, God is with you and he sees you.
I mentioned recently that I would post about our hurricane Harvey experience.  I have come to the conclusion that if I don't get it on "paper" in bits and pieces, that the post won't happen, since my heart and mind have, and are still experiencing, different stages of shock, grief, numbness and gratefulness.  Like the roller-coaster that it is, there have been few moments where I felt I could catch my breath long enough to form a complete sentence, let alone a lengthy post. Therefore, this will be a work in progress for a while...

August 25, 2017 the Friday before Harvey, after discussing evacuation vs. staying put with hubby and deciding to stay, I felt the strong urge to make one last trip to the grocery store.  Having lived on the gulf coast for most of my life, I have lived through the aftermath of hurricanes and knew all to well what we might be facing if we were hit hard.  Although there's know way to predict the outcome, we can only use our best judgement and do what we feel is best for our personal situations.  Even though we live merely blocks from a large body of water, and are surrounded by smaller bodies of water and the gulf, we were not under mandatory evacuation orders, and the initial land hit was forecasted to be Corpus Christi (where my brother lives, and due to being a first responder and nurse, cannot evacuate. I was more concerned about HIS and his family's safety than I was ours at the time.) so we felt staying would be prudent, especially since travelling would be excruciating for my husband and his pain level.

After the "last stop shop" on 8/25, I set about battening down the hatches, so to speak.  Working in the yard, I moved and removed any plants, furniture or other items that could take off flying with a good wind (a few years back, we had a wind shear go through our area and ended up with a portion of someone's fence in our backyard😨).  Then I filled some gallon water jugs with tap water that we had saved for such a time as this, and filled the upright freezer with them.  This would serve a couple of purposes in my mind:  help keep the frozen foods in there frozen for as long as possible and, if the electricity went out for long enough that they thawed, we could use them to drink, flush toilets, wash up (dishes or our faces and bodies), etc.  I also took a clean 25 gallon plastic tote and filled it with water from the garden hose.  Trying to think of extreme "what if" possibilities, I brought a nylon rope inside so it would be handy in case we flooded to the point of floating away (not a pleasant thought but it happens).  It would give us something to hold onto to hopefully stay together in rushing currents and not lose each other.  I also washed every last stitch of dirty clothing so we would have clean clothes to wear for a while if we lost power and couldn't wash them.  I baked bread knowing there would probably not be any on store shelves.  That is, if and when, the stores were open after the storm made landfall.  (In fact, even during my pre-storm, last minute shop, food items and store shelves were already showing shortages.  And when overhearing another customer question a store employee about a certain item, the employee warned, "if you see it, get it, because we don't know when we will be getting any more deliveries after today".)

Skipping ahead in the scenario for now since just writing the above has raised my feelings of anxiety & blood pressure...

The Walmart I shop at. (Photo taken from Facebook~unfortunately, I don't know the individual to credit this to)

The extent of our property damage: 
Pear tree in our backyard that split vertically and fell. I noted with astonishment, how the fork fell AROUND my birdfeeder pole, jostling it but not damaging it. The tree had not produced this year, and even when it had, the pears were hard, making processing difficult. We still have some delicious spiced pear sauce in the freezer from when it did produce though! We also had our very own "waterfront property" for a while.

the bread shelves at the grocery store ONE WEEK AFTER the storm.

September 12, 2017 my daughter and I had some errands to run.  After stopping to fuel up her car and noting the gas station was still out of premium fuel, we decided to visit the neighborhood we lived in before moving to our present home (which was virtually unaffected by the storm, which is mind boggling, since the two neighborhoods are only a short drive from each other.) since we had heard it was under water during Harvey's rains.  The heartbreaking scene that awaited us...



Construction debris pickup trucks in hard hit neighborhoods. (9/18/17 photo from our city's government Facebook page)

Just as we were turning into the neighborhood, a huge truck that we assumed was for debris pickup, turned in ahead of us.  What a job lays ahead for them.  Because of scenes like this, trash and recycling schedules in our area are still not back to normal. 

It is the strangest, most indescribable scene to witness and live, let alone comprehend.  Some areas and neighborhoods appear normal, as the city is boasting beautiful weather.  Mail delivery is back on schedule.  But as mentioned above, trash and recycling schedules are not.  Gas shortages still exist here and there as do some food items on grocery store shelves.  There are many words, and yet none, to try and express this aftermath...

I'll be back soon to add to this.

For now, thanks for stopping by!~TJ

Friday, September 8, 2017

Five Frugal Things ~ September 8, 2017

sidewalk lined with flowers on each side~take time to savor the beauty all around you!

This past week's frugal efforts have been mostly about "continuing to's".  Things I do regularly, nothing new, major or out of the ordinary.

I continued to:

•  wash and dry resealable plastic bags to be reused.

•  rinsed fairly clean, but used aluminum foil to be reused.

•  hang and air out gently worn clothing in order to wear a second wearing.  We've had a few cool, low humidity days this past week. Combining that with wearing certain outer garments for a short time, allowed me to justify this.  Less wear and tear and breakdown of fibers going through a laundry cycle resulting in being able to own and wear the items longer, and not have buy a new piece of clothing sooner rather than later. (I usually only practice this during cooler and/or less humid weather. During hot, muggy, sweaty weather, clothes MUST be washed after each wearing no matter how short of a time I wore the item.)

•  create meals using items on hand, concentrating on first using items before they expire, rather than just cooking what I "feel like" cooking.  This is requiring a lot of thought, focus and prioritization on my part, lol.

•  strategize and think through online purchases.  I waited for, and used, a "25% off total purchase" Joann Fabric coupon to purchase some fabric I had been wanting.  I also took advantage of a labor day coupon code for 15% off my total online coffee purchase.

Little things that all add up! (Or at least help to offset those times out of our control, when we can't save money, or have to spend unexpected dollars due to emergencies.)

I hope you have been able to "stay the course" with your frugal efforts this past week, no matter how seemingly trivial!

Thanks for stopping by! ~TJ

Friday, September 1, 2017

Five Frugal Things ~ September 1, 2017 Edition

summer squash & collards
This week's frugal five are brought to you by Hurricane Harvey...

Seriously though, everything I'm listing is a direct result of dealing with the storm. I almost hate to list them when my neighbors have lost so much this past week. But I must remind myself, this is the reflection of my reality and it in no way takes away from their pain. They are continually in my prayers and thoughts. I will be donating what I can to the efforts to help my community rebuild. And we will rebuild. Life must go on. That being said, I decided to carry on. We must.

This past week:

•  I did not leave my house for the entire week.  Not that I run the roads all that much under normal circumstances, maybe one or two days of the week I have errands that I run, or I  might take the three hour trek to visit my parents. This week though, no costly gas or wear and tear on our vehicle was expended as we hunkered down and waited.

•  I used the idle times to earn more Swagbucks

•  Because of the relentless rain, I didn't have to water plants or the lawn all week.

•  I didn't grocery shop all week. I usually make at least one trip to the store for something, as I haven't gotten myself organized enough yet to go more than a week without shopping. This week though, if we didn't have it, we didn't eat it or use it. We  made do.

•  We had no major storm damage, thank God, so there will be no repairs we will have to pay for. That's major! I am all the more grateful especially after speaking to one of my Avon clients last night and she told me that her daughters family lost their home, cars and the husbands business building. There is devastation all around us and we were spared. And I'm so very thankful.

I hope you had a delightfully uneventful week and please keep Texas in your prayers!

Thanks for stopping by!~TJ

Thursday, August 31, 2017

This Week's Meals in Review ~ Hurricane Harvey Edition

from my snapchat~username: dflombard
Wow! What a week this has been with our area dealing with hurricane Harvey. Thankfully, our family and home remained high and dry, although there were some scary moments when water was creeping up towards our home from the street.

Below, I share some meals we enjoyed from our food stock. Of course this is not the only meals, snacks and beverages we consumed, only what we ate from what we had on hand. I hope it encourages you to assess the food you may already have on hand and challenge yourself to come up with tasty meals and treats, seemingly from nothing!


•  fried eggs and toast
•  oatmeal with raisins


•  spicy pintos with chorizo, cornbread
•  grilled cheese sandwiches
•  macaroni and cheese
•  lentil and broccoli soup
•  ham sandwiches

* meals listed above only reflect what I had on hand in the pantry, fridge or freezers and may have had additional side dishes added that were recently bought during my weekey grocery shopping trip.

Snacks, Sweets and Treats 

•  peanut butter cookies
•  one bowl cocoa powder brownies


•  fruit smoothies

I will be adding a post soon with more about our Harvey experience so stay tuned. In the meantime, if you are able, please consider donating to the folks affected by the hurricane or helping in whatever way you can. If you are unsure of places to donate, I strongly suggest, believe in, and donate regularly to, the Salvation Army . Also, my beloved Avon, is gathering donations to be able to transport toiletries and home goods to those in need. You can donate as little as one dollar also. It all adds up. You can read more info on my Facebook page or go directly to the Avon website to be taken directly to to donation page.

This has been set up strictly to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey

Wherever and however you decide to help, I, and my neighbors THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts!

Here's wishing you sunny days from Texas! 
Thanks for stopping by ~TJ

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Five Frugal Things ~ August 24 Edition

my sweet, but high maintenance fur babies
I'm a tad behind in posting this. Living on the gulf coast, our family has been on hurricane Harvey watch. Fortunately for us, we have only had some heavy rain and wind, nothing damaging. As I type this, it's raining, thundering, windy and we are still under tornado warnings and flash flood watches. More of the same is expected over the next few days. My thoughts and prayers are with my coastal neighbors.

In this week's frugal adventures I:

•  organized my grocery budgeting plans a little more so I can be aware of how much I'm spending each month when grocery shopping. This will be an ongoing project for a while until I feel I've figured out a good grocery budget amount.

•  continued filing my dogs nails with the Pedi Paw and giving her a supplement that seems to be helping her not to need to have to have her anal glands expressed (sorry, real talk here) every three weeks. This has been saving us the $40+ every three weeks that I was paying the vet to perform this service. It doesn't totally eliminate having to take her for these services occasionally, just buys more time in between visits.

•  made homemade mosquito repellant for our yard. Non toxic for us, our dog and the environment and best of all it works! I have a feeling we are going to need it when the rains subsides!

•  took some apples that were past their prime and made applesauce in the slow cooker. I took the portions of apples that were inedible and placed in the freezer in a clearly marked bag to use in the future for simmering potpourri.

•  my daughter had a medical procedure at the hospital so I took my own coffee and a protein bar for when I got hungry while waiting. Downside: I usually take my own water everywhere I go, but forgot this time (it was early and my brain doesn't switch on until later in the day /: ) so I ended up buying a bottle of water.

I hope you have had a wonderful, frugal week as well.

Thanks for stopping by! ~TJ

Monday, August 21, 2017

This Week's Meals in Review

sun tea
 Since deciding I needed to work on our grocery budget in earnest in order to redirect some of those monies into our household repairs coffers, I have gone back to my basics. The basics I learned, developed and used many years ago as a single mother of three children.

One of those strategies has always been not making a forecasted menu for the week ahead but rather (1) shopping for the lowest prices on food and (2) stocking up on what I can, when I can. Then (3) creating meals and snacks using the items I have on hand. So this past week, after taking stock of what I already have available, I began implementing that course of action again and thought I'd share what we've eaten.

My priority right now is to check expiration dates and use the oldest items first. That hasn't been too difficult since I always use the FIFO (first in first out) system when putting away groceries. Combining those things with the fresh produce that must get used right away makes for some tasty meals and snacks!

There were a few things that had to be thrown out  unfortunately, some items in the freezers had not been used in a timely manner and we're inedible. Try as I may, I still lose food because of poor management on my part. I will just forge ahead and continue to try my best at not allowing food waste to happen.
All the meals and snacks that follow have been made with items we had on hand.

I, myself, am not a breakfast eater but my husband is. This past week he has enjoyed:

•  buttermilk pancakes
•  cream of wheat
•  oatmeal with raisins
•  scrambled eggs with cheese, toast
•  grits

We usually have a meal that we consider both lunch and dinner since he usually eats a late breakfast and I don't get hungry until this meal (sometimes I may have a snack beforehand). Many times we will have leftovers and will eat them a second (or third!) night or for snacks.

•  fettuccine Alfredo with shrimp and broccoli, garlic toast
•  grilled ham and cheese sandwich, chips
•  homemade white bean, potato and bacon soup, saltines
•  homemade vegetable soup, saltines
•  egg salad

Snacks, Sweets and Treats
We all have a sweet tooth so, on Saturdays, while we have free electricity, I try to do some baking. I aim for a couple of different things to take us through the week to nibble on. Maybe a cake and a batch of cookies or two different types of cookies, depending on what I have to work with.

•  oatmeal raisin cookies
•  snicker doodle cookies
•  coconut cake


•  sun tea made from a variety of herbal, black and green tea bags

This, of course isn't all we ate. I did pick up a few other things at the store that were on sale. I just listed all the meals and snacks that I was able to make with foods we already had stored away. It's always exciting to me how creative I can be when I go on these self imposed pantry challenges!

I'll be back next week to let you know how that week goes and what all we ate.

Is anyone else out there doing a pantry challenge? I would love to hear the meals you are coming up with using up your stock! I know some are doing it in preparation and anticipation of the upcoming sales that happen around Thanksgiving. I am looking forward to those sales as well since there are usually so many great deals to be had! Being able to have plenty of room in the freezer for turkeys and hams (oh my!) is a wonderful side benefit to all of this.

I hope this has given you some meal and snack prep ideas!

Thanks for stopping by! ~TJ

Friday, August 18, 2017

Five Frugal Things ~ August 18 Edition

the showy, yet understated elegance of the moonflower 
Howdy all! I hope you've had a good week!

In this past week's pursuit of savings I:

•  waited an extra week before getting my hair trimmed. I figure if I wait seven weeks between hair cuts rather than six (I have a shorter style that requires more frequent trims), there's not enough extra growth to bother me, saving approximately $25.50 a year. (Fortunately, I have a great stylist that doesn't charge an arm and a leg!) Also, it saves me the time I would have spent in going to get the extra hair trims. There are many things I can spend that extra time on!

•  speaking of hair, I made the decision to quit coloring my hair a few weeks back. I've decided I would like to embrace the beauty of my God given natural color. Over the years, this has the potential to save thousands (if not more) of dollars.

•  turned the thermostat up one extra degree. We haven't noticed an uncomfortable change from this decision, so for now, we will continue doing this.

•  collected excess water from hand washing and rinsing fruits and vegetables, etc. in pitchers in the kitchen sink.  I use the collected water in container garden plants.

•  along the water saving theme, I have started taking "navy" style showers in order to conserve some water and offset the cost of the extra water that my yard and garden has been requiring this summer. (Once the weather gets colder though, this will probably change.)

If you have any hints or tips on saving dollars and cents, I would love to hear them.
Enjoy your weekend and have a frugal-tastic week ahead!

Thanks for stopping by! ~TJ

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

It All Adds Up ~Three (little) Things I'm Doing to Boost Our Financial Situation

*this post contains affiliate links which "all adds up" in helping to support my little blog when you choose to use them. And we thank you so much!
I mentioned recently that I had a shocking moment of clarity about our finances, casting aside the hazy veil of denial I've been frolicking in for far too long.

I know that I have written before that after my hubby was forced into an early retirement, and I gave up working a "regular" job in order to be his fulltime caregiver, that our income took a bit of a hit. (Thankfully, I am still able to work my Avon business very part time.) We have however, been doing okay financially with only a few painless revisions to expenditures.

Lately though, as will happen with home ownership, I've noticed several things on the verge of needing repairs. Also, hubby has made a few passing comments about possibly downsizing if finances don't improve in some way. The thought of moving makes me cringe. So, I knew I needed to do my part in s̶a̶v̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶o̶u̶r̶ ̶h̶o̶m̶e̶!̶  boosting the budget by being a better manager of the money I spend. And more importantly, not spend.

Here's a few things I've already implemented or reimplemented:

•  I began using SwagbucksInbox Dollars and Send Earnings  again. It's pennies really but as my children have heard me say time and time again, if you have enough pennies you can be a millionaire! It all adds up. In my opinion, it's painless, passive income, since I can do it while doing other things.

•  I have been putting forth greater effort towards growing fruits, flowers and veggies in my container and in-ground gardens. For the time being, I am budgeting $20 a month towards this endeavor. I plan to weigh the produce I harvest to get a loose idea of the savings. It all adds up. Now I, in no way, consider myself a knowledgeable gardener, so anytime anyone can offer me tips in this area, they are most welcome!

  Using what we have on hand. Whether it be the food we already have squirreled away in our pantry, fridge or upright freezer, or toiletries stashed in drawers or cabinets. I even have stashes of makeup, clothes, fabric, crafting and art supplies (what girl doesn't? πŸ˜‰). I also have enough vegetable and flower seeds to keep me busy for a good while. I could go on. But I will spare you. The point is, I need to take a good inventory of our "stuff" and be diligent to use what we have before purchasing more. This usually happens because I've forgotten that I already bought "X" when it was on sale and h̶i̶d̶ ̶i̶t̶ ̶f̶r̶o̶m̶ ̶m̶y̶s̶e̶l̶f̶ stowed it away for future use.

These are just a few things. There's more that I already do on a regular basis that I have shared in the past (and will probably share again and again ad nauseum!). For now, baby steps in getting back to focusing on frugality. Because indeed, it all adds up.

Thanks for stopping by! ~TJ

Monday, August 14, 2017

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things~

*This post contains affiliate links. My family and I appreciate you using them~it helps us out so much!
always enjoy learning about the tried and true favorites of others, so I thought I would share mine!

At the top of my list this week:

♡  This beautiful bracelet (actually three separate bracelets, so you can wear one, two or all three together for different looks!) that my hubby surprised me with one day recently! The picture of course doesn't do it justice. When I first opened it, I thought it was turquoise, but it is howlite. I have been wearing the heck out of it this summer (looks soon good with a cool white outfit)! The turquoise color would compliment any skin tone. A side bonus, there are no clasps or hooks to fiddle with, just slide it on (it doesn't have an extreme amount of stretch to it so take note of the sizing of 6.75" when purchasing).
♡  Access to the internet. Having lived in the pre-internet era (gasssp!!! I know right?) And being an avid bookworm with a voracious appetite for learning all I could about things that interest me all my life, I used to frequent the library and lug home stacks of books. I'm talking mini mountains. Just so I could research things. Gardening, recipes, decor, (and every now and then I'd throw in a Danielle Steel novel πŸ˜‰) you name it. Now, I couldn't tell you the last time I stepped foot in a library (which makes me kinda sad honestly). And anything we need, literally, is but a few keyboard clicks away (boy am I glad I learned to type in school. On a typewriter, not a computer. Noooo, I'm not going to bore you with talk about the five TV channels we had to choose from, sans remote control. No. I won't go there. It's too painful.). So yes, the internet, with all of it's flaws and aggravation at times, is high on this list of my favorite things!

♡  Plastic wrap? Really? Yesss! When I first used this I knew I would never go back to those other plastic wraps. It's a sturdy plastic wrap, that stretches & sticks to the dish really well, providing a reliable sealed covering for...well...whatever you're covering!
♡  I do my fair share of baking and I've put this set of bakeware through it's paces! Non-stick, not heavy (which really matters now that I'm getting older~I probably should be lifting weights instead of cookies!) and a snap to wash up, it makes baking a breeze! The beautiful chocolate brown color doesn't hurt my feelings either.
♡  This handy motion sensor night light has given me peace of mind for those times when my little dachshund, Dollface, wants to climb into the bed at night and has to maneuver her doggy stairs in the dark. I had become increasingly concerned for her safety when I could hear her hesitating while trying to work up the courage to hop up the stairs (we have a very tall bed). Luckily, there is a standard outlet right across from her stairs so when she saunters to her stairs on my side of the bed, the motion sensor night light illuminates long enough for her to get up on the bed and find a comfy spot before turning itself off. I am so truly glad I bought this little light and I think Dollface is too.
♡  Last but not least, a garden fave: Superthrive Vitamin Solution for all my plants. My outdoor plants, houseplants, fruits, veggies and flowers get this tonic on a regular basis to keep them spiffy and happy. So easy to use, this will always be in my gardening arsenal!

If you have any favorite things you would like to share with us, we would love to hear about them in the comments!

If you have tried, or decide to try, any of these favorites of mine, let me know what you think.

Thanks for stopping by! ~TJ

Friday, August 11, 2017

Five Frugal Things~ August 11 Edition

*Please note, affiliate links may be found here, there and everywhere on my blog.  They help put a bit of change in my family's pockets and, as always, we thank you for using them!
ladybug~one of the wonderful gifts of the garden!
I hope you all had a wonderful week! We enjoyed more rain again this week so that translated into more savings on our water bill! Whoohoo!

In this past week's pursuit of savings I:

•  froze all of my leftover coffee and used the cubes to make refreshing iced coffee!  The frozen coffee cubes don't dilute the drink as they melt. In this heat, being able to enjoy a refreshing iced coffee without paying the high prices for one in a coffee shop is enough to make me do a happy jig! Now, I would love to find an exquisite frappuccino type recipe so if anyone knows of one, please share your recipe!

•  In my desire to pretty up our shady front garden beds while keeping the expense low, I spent some time brainstorming ways to accomplish that. It occurred to me that I could use potted plants that were getting too big for their present homes. I transplanted some snake plants (also known as mother in law tongue or, more precisely, sansevieria trifasciata), coleus plants and some peace lily. All for a grand total of $0! There is plenty more room in those beds, so I need to do even more thinking on how I might be able to utilize plants I already have on hand, rather than running right out to the garden center to buy plants. (Although I do have plans to check out the half price fruit trees...πŸ˜ˆπŸ˜‡) Bonus:  I got a good workout!
Along with this, I pulled out my little seed starting trays and began planting seeds for a variety of veggies and flowers such as: red currant and roma tomatoes, zinnias, marigolds, snapdragons, cleome and larkspur. In the in-ground beds, I sowed a few carrot, Patty pan, parsley, Swiss chard and chamomile seeds. In my strawberry pot, I planted a few tarragon and oregano seeds to keep the thyme and lone green onion (one of several grown from a store bought green onion) company. I reseeded some brussels sprouts seeds in the spots where the last ones didn't come up (half of them did though!) And last but not least, some cilantro seeds off in a pot of their very own.

•  made a concerted effort to turn off lights, televisions and other electronics when leaving a room or not in use. Also, since we have an electric plan that gives us free electricity from midnight on Fridays to midnight on Saturdays, I have saved all our laundry and baking to be done during that time period.

•  made a fresh batch of our favorite laundry detergent. It leaves our clothes clean and smelling fresh.

•  cooked all of our meals, no eating out! This is another area I want to sit down and make a plan for cutting costs~food! As things are right now with our food n̶o̶n̶ budget, there is plenty of room for improvement. And seeing as we have several household repairs looming, it is imperative to shift the flow of money from going out, to staying put while it accumulates, to be spent towards those repairs.
roast chicken (that's one of the two I mentioned in last Friday's Frugal Five)

These are just a few things that stand out in my mind for this week, although the pursuit of frugality has been lifelong during my adult years.

I'd love to hear what you've been up to in your frugal world this week!

Thanks for stopping by! ~TJ

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Tax Free Weekend~ Does Your State Participate?

If you don't know the answer to that question, hurry on over to the taxadmin.organization website to find out!

In our big ol' state of Texas, our back to school dates for 2017 is August 11-13. We can purchase school supplies and back to school clothes priced under $100.

For my fellow Texans here is an extensive list of qualifying items you may purchase to save on those sales taxes. Combine this with the wonderful back to school sales going on this time of year to maximize your total savings!

What? You say this doesn't apply to you because you don't have any children in your life heading back to school? Au contraire ma petite cherie! There is much savings to be had on non back to school items as well. Need new work, work uniforms or workout clothes? Exempt. New underthings? Exempt. Winter coat or jacket? Exempt! The list goes on so, really, get yourself on over here to see what goods that you may have on your Master To Buy list that you can save on. If you don't have a Master To Buy list already, make one, check it twice and get out the door this weekend to fill in the gaps of all your much needed items...tax free!

Thanks for stopping by! ~TJ

Friday, August 4, 2017

Five Frugal Things~ August 4 Edition

four o'clocks
I really want to get back to blogging regularly as it is such an important component of my journaling and record keeping of our lives.  And since frugality is, and always has been, a great part of my life, what better way than to jump back in with my Frugal Five?

In this past week's pursuit of savings I:

•  enjoyed not having to water the lawn and garden several days in a row, thanks to the rain showers and thunderstorms we've been blessed with.

•  bought a couple of bags of my favorite decaf coffee so I can brew my second cup of coffee in the morning (the first cup is caffeinated) rather than using the more expensive and convenient option of k-cups.  I am going to try and locate the Gevalia Dark Italian Roast that I love in a more economical version as well. But for now, I will still be brewing the Tassimo pod. (I'm sure coffee lovers will understand if no one else does, teehee!)

•  needed windshield wiper fluid and found that the Dollar Tree had big gallon jugs for...you guessed it, $1!!! Cheaper than Walmart, where I have been purchasing it. I'm not sure why I never thought to look for it at the Dollar Tree before but, live & learn.

•  made DIY stain spray for our laundry.

•  bought two whole hens that were marked down 30% and will roast them for several meals plus homemade chicken broth! At checkout, during the same shopping trip, the cashier couldn't get my beef liver (yuck, I know. I use it in my homemade dog food.) to ring up so the manager said, "give it to her"! Savings of a whopping .78. I told him he could leave it out of my order if they couldn't manually key it in but he insisted it was fine. I don't feel too guilty because try as I may to keep an eye on the register as my groceries are being rung up, there have been many times, after reviewing receipts, that I was overcharged for items. Normally, I will take the time to have the mistake corrected but there are times that I'm just too tired, or in a time crunch or what have you, to deal with it. And I have more than once corrected a cashier when, for whatever odd reason, I see that I am being under charged for an item.

the reality snapshot:  we had an unexpected emergency vet visit this past week. I suppose it all averages out. *sigh*

Thanks for stopping by! I always love to hear/read how others save money so share if you will!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Trying My Hand at Sourdough

my baby sourdough after feeding and sitting out overnight

This month, I decided to give sourdough bread making another try.  I attempted making a sourdough starter many years ago but the starter worked it's way to the back of the fridge and promptly out of my thoughts. (It must be fed on a regular basis in order for it to live on and thrive.) RIP sourdough starter.

Recently however, in going along with trying to find more ways to save money, I dug out my old sourdough bread recipe. I regularly make bread, but knew I could forego the expense of buying yeast if I had a trusty starter on my hands. I like to use a starter that I make strictly with flour and water, allowing it to capture wild yeasts from the atmosphere, turning into a fermented batter with the amazing ability to raise bread dough without using a store bought yeast.

I found a starter recipe years ago but have since tweaked it to my liking. (Although this is the recipe I follow, there are many to be found online.)

• In a large plastic or glass container, place 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour with 1/4 cup of spring or filtered water (I use distilled) and combine until smooth. Cover with a coffee filter, cheesecloth or cotton napkin (something that will allow air flow but keep out pests) and secure with a rubber band around the neck of the jar. Let sit undisturbed for the next two days.

• On day three, mix in another 1/2 cup of flour and 1/4 cup of water. Let sit another couple of days.

• On day five, repeat steps from day three. Repeat these same steps on days six and seven.

• On days eight and nine let starter sit. Don'the mix or add anything to it. By day nine you will be able to use your starter.
a closer view of it's bubbly, yeasty goodness

Your starter should smell sour, yeasty, or a bit like beer. To store, place the starter in the fridge in a covered (lidded) plastic or glass container. Try to use the starter at least once a week. At the very least, feed your starter using the same amounts as above in step one. Each time you use some of your starter, remember to feed it again to replace what you used. The more you use it and the older it gets, the better it will work and taste!

Things to keep in mind:

1)  If your starter produces a brownish liquid on top, fear not! Just mix it in and move on with your life.

2)  If your starter develops mold do not use it under any circumstances. Pitch it and start over.

3)  I've read that some have great success getting their starter going by using some rye flour. I don't care to spend the money to try out this theory since I don't know that I would use the rye flour otherwise. And the wheat flour has worked well for me thus far.  But...food for thought.

4)  After I use some starter, I sometimes feed it with white flour and water, sometimes wheat, depending on what's out and handy.

There are many wonderful ways to use sourdough starter beyond breadmaking. I have already made a loaf of bread and pancakes with the starter, although I want to keep experimenting with techniques and recipes. It takes a little more planning and forethought to using sourdough starter in my baking but considering the savings (from not buying yeast regularly) and the health benefits, I feel it's worth it!

I will post the bread and pancakes recipes I used soon!

If you try making sourdough starter or have any handy tips for me on the subject, I would love to hear from you!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Avon Skin So Soft Bath Oil Uses

(I am posting this here, as well as on my Avon Lady TJ blog, because there are so many uses around the house and garden, I thought you might be interested too!)

With warmer weather upon us, there will be umpteen reasons to break out the bottle of Avon Skin So Soft Original Bath oil ! So, I thought I would post this list as a reminder for us all.  It's not new but it's useful!

*SSS bath oil is approved by the FDA/CDA only as a bath oil.  Avon does not endorse its use for anything other than a bath oil. This is just a list compiled from people like you & me that have tried it for things other than bath oil. You can find lists similar to this all over the web!

**Disclaimer- I don't guarantee any of these tips as they have been borrowed from others.


1.      It's a bath oil and after shower moisturizer. Obvs!

2.      It can be used to remove makeup.

3.      Great tanning oil (no sunscreen).

4.      Hot oil treatment to soften cuticles.

5.      Great massage oil for tired muscles.

6.      Cleans off tape marks left from bandages on skin.

7.      Cleans ink off the skin.

8.      Insect repellent.

9.      Helps relieve itching caused by dry skin.

10.  Applying SSS over bug bites alleviates itching.

11.  Cleans oil and grease off of skin.

12.  Painting something? Use SSS to remove paint from the hands.

13.  It soothes light sunburn.

14.  Rub hands with it before washing, it helps get them cleaner.

15.  Rub on dry, cracked skin.... helps heal skin in 2-3 days. (Funky feet anyone? Sandal season is upon us!)

16.  Add to liquid soap and use it for shaving legs and under arms. Helps razor glide and leaves skin feeling smooth.

17.  Pour a little into your foot bath to help moisturize your feet while you relax them.

18.  It removes chewing gum from hair, skin, and most nonporous surfaces.

19.  Cleans permanent ink off stamps.

20.  SSS Original Bath Oil works GREAT on Head Lice!!!!! Saturate head and let it set for 15 minutes. Then rinse under an outdoor faucet, but the lice were gone!!!!!!! Of course, shampoo hair a couple of times to get the oil out, but the lice are gone and stay gone!

21.  It kills ants instantly.

22.  Spray on skin to relieve dry itching skin. Helps skin retain its elasticity.

23.  Wash hair with shampoo and conditioner like always and after it dries.... Use about the size of a dime of SSS and rub it in your hair. It goes straight in and leaves hair as shiny as the ads on TV, not greasy at all, just soft and shiny.

24.  It can help eliminate psoriasis.

25.  It lessens the sting of removing bandages from children's sensitive skin.

26.   It removes gum from hair better than peanut butter. (Where have we heard this before?)


27.  Sponge it around doors, windows, and on screens to keep crawling bugs out.

28.  It's a good wood cleaner and conditioner for natural wood.

29.  It removes glue and gum left from price tags and labels from glass, metals, and most plastics.

30.  It removes soap scum from shower doors and curtains, and bathroom and kitchen figures.

31.  It removes lime and hard water deposits from fixtures, tile, shower doors and windows. (I'm gonna have to give this, & #30, a try as we have HARD water.)

32.  It's an oil lubricant for fitting pipe joints that won't slip together.

33.  It cleans ink off most vinyl and painted surfaces.

34.  It cleans heavy oil and grease from nonporous surfaces.

35.  It takes fur off of clothing.

36.  Rub on brass ornaments or figurines to help keep them from turning dark.

37.  Removes crayon from appliances and most painted surfaces.

38.  Wash cupboards with it mixed in your cleaning water to keep ants off and out of the cupboards.

39.  Excellent at removing lipstick stains from furniture, clothing, etc.

40.  Use it to discourage hornets from building their nests. After using a hornet killing spray, remove the nest and keep the area sprayed with SSS. They will not rebuild there.

41.  Use it to clean leather; it will also keep it soft and supple.

42.  Use it on your air conditioning screen (filter)--your incoming air will smell fresher and the filter is easier to clean.

43.  Rub all over windowsills to keep ants out.

44.  It cleans paintbrushes easily and leaves them soft as new.

45.  It removes gum from carpets.

46.  It removes scuff marks from patent leather shoes.

47.  Use it on running rails for sliding glass doors and windows.

48.  It removes "ring around the collar".

49.  It removes liquid nail (paneling glue).

50.  Two glass bowls or glasses stuck together? Drizzle a little SSS down the sides and they'll come apart easily.

51.  It removes candle wax from furniture, carpets and clothing.

52.  Hummingbird Feeders: To deter bees try rubbing SSS on the feeder surface by the feeder ports.

53.  It works for maggots in the garbage can too! You squirt SSS in can and lid, then later flushed with soapy water, and you shouldn't have any bugs in cans rest of summer!!!

54.  It is a great furniture polish!

55.  Put it in one of the bottles that you attach to your backyard hose and then spray down the back yard! Will cut down on ants, mosquitoes and other creepy crawlies.

56.  People spray it on their rose bushes to keep the deer from eating them, and at the cemeteries on the flowers they put out there for the same reason.

57.  Kills spiders.

58.  It cuts grease and cleans dirt from range hoods.

59.  Add a cap full to wash water when doing laundry...acts as a fabric softener and keeps the bugs off clothes.

60.  Spray on orchids and other flowers for moisture and to keep bugs away.

61.  Cleans baseball caps. Just spray on and rub with toothbrush.

62.  Try this recipe:  mix one part SSS and 2 parts water and spray on tomato plants to keep those ugly old tomato worms off. Spray plants about every 2 or 3 days. Works great!!

63.  Put a little in your mopping water to help keep crawling bugs out. (Not too much or the floor gets slippery.)

64.  Use to clean windows.

65.  Removes crayon from most surfaces.

66.  Screens can be lightly sprayed with Avon SSS to repel no-see-'ums and tiny gnats that otherwise might slip though the screens.

67.  Another use for SSS is it will kill those pesky earwigs. Spray it on & they don't return to life.

68.  If you ever make candles, melt clear wax and put SSS in it and let it harden.  Works great for outside in the summer.

69.  As a deodorizer, spray into air and let settle, kills those nasty pet odors.

70.  If a child wets the bed, spray the bedding and sheets before washing and will give it a fresh clean smell.

71.  It keeps bromine and chlorine from corroding metal and keeps the top of a pool pump filter lubed for easy opening.

72.  Use SSS in an oil burner outside to repel bugs.  I use the ones with the little dish on top and a tea light below.  Just put a cap full or so of SSS into the dish and light the tea light.  Your patio will smell great; it works better than citronella candles, and no citronella smell!


73.  It's a great insect repellent for your pet. (As recommended in "Outdoor Life" and "Field and Stream")

74.  Mix 5 parts water, 1 part SSS and mist on animals. Brushing it in makes their coats gleam and keeps insects off so the animals don't fidget in the show ring.

75.  Mix in your pet's bath water. It takes the fleas off of them...and in between sprays them with the 5 parts water, 1 part SSS mixture to help keep them off.

76.  Rub on your hands before and after working with your pets and farm animals. It will remove the strong smells.

77.  Black Fly Spray For Dogs: Use as a spray or a dip. 1 cup SSS, 1/2 cup liquid detergent and 3 gallons of water.

78.  For dog’s dry skin mix 1 tablespoon of SSS per gallon of water and use as an after bath rinse. Or spritz your pet's coat once per week.

79.  If your dog should get tar or asphalt on the pads of their feet rub on SSS and then wipe off.

80.  Flea Bath: Use a flea and tick shampoo. Rinse, rinse, rinse so no soap residue is left. Follow with final rinse of 2 gallons of water mixed with flea dip and 1 cap full of SSS. The SSS helps replace the oils lost in bathing and has the added benefit of repelling insects.

81.  Flea Repellent: Avon's SSS Bath Oil. 1-1/2 ounces per gallon of water; used as a sponge-on dip (or as a spritz) has been tested and proven to have significant, but not complete, flea-repellent activity for a 6-day period. It should help those dry coats, too.

82.  It works great on animals with dry skin.

83.  Use the following on horses and on dogs when necessary. 1-cup Avon SSS bath oil 1-cup white vinegar 1-cup (or more) water 5 cc of essential oil of citronella (from the health food store NOT the type you burn to keep insects away that is available in a drug store) Mix in a spray bottle. Straight SSS works well for mosquitoes too but really makes your dog greasy.

84.  (Barns) Use as an inexpensive fly control spray or a diluted mix of Avon SSS in water can be sprayed on barn walls and floor to discourage insects from hanging around or to eliminate them before putting in the new bedding. As time permits, and if you can keep your goats out of the barn for a few hours - let the barn stand and air out before re-filling with bedding.

85.  A natural way to help cats with flea problems and flea allergies is to rub Skin So Soft into the skin. Fleas don't like it either! Spread the word!

86.  Cats: SSS IS SAFE FOR FUR. Don't overuse the SSS. Use the lotion, and rub it into the skin, not more than every few days. Common sense is the rule. *Please check with your vet to be sure it's okay...


87.  SSS can be used as a hoof polish. This will put a nice shine to the hoof without drying it.

88.  SSS can be used as a muzzle, eye, and ear enhancer. SSS works great and still helps keep bugs away.

89.  Horses that have allergies and also get dry skin very easily can get baths in SSS. Bathe her like normal and then put a cap full of SSS in a 5-gallon bucket of warm water and sponge this all over her. Her coat dries silky soft and she quits itching.


90.  It removes tar spots from the car without damage to the paint.

91.  Use it to clean vinyl dashboards, seats, and tops. It not only cleans, but also keeps it soft and helps to prevent any cracking.

92.  After washing your car, use it as a tire dressing to keep them looking like new.

93.  Put some on a small washcloth and leave in the car to help keep the air fresh and clean.

94.  Wipe down vinyl surfaces inside your car. Cleans nicely and removes smoke odors left by cigarette smokers.

95.  It gently cleans heavy grease and oil from skin and nonporous surfaces (great for Mechanic's Hands).

96.  It removes tree sap.

97.  Prior to traveling...rub SSS on headlights and grill. It makes insects and bugs easier to remove.

98.  Shines vehicle tires


99.   Spray it on the outside of the tent, especially near the door & windows and it keeps mosquitoes away!


100.  Recently, I read in a Facebook group for Avon reps, that SSS will keep mice away.  Does anyone have any experience with this?

So there you have it!  Spray, dip and soak your troubles away with Skin So Soft Bath Original bath oil!

If you have any uses not listed here, I would love to hear about them!

Don't have any on hand? Go here to order yours today:  Avon Skin So Soft Original Bath oil

Thinking of starting your own Avon business? Go to www.start.avon.com and use reference code: tommielombardi 

Monday, April 17, 2017


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