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...๐Ÿ˜Š

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

Simple Living, Extraordinary Life ~ The Dailies 11/7/17

sunflower still shining as evening shadows creep across the yard
Today I took DH to his doctor appointment.  After dropping him off at home, I made a trip to Kroger & Randall's grocery stores to take advantage of the sales before the weekly sale cycle ended.

I was able to stock up on pasta (.38 per 12 ounce package), some canned green beans and peas (.49 each), bacon ($4.49 each), frozen brussels sprouts and broccoli florets (.99 per pound) and a few other things that were on sale in anticipation of our Thanksgiving meal.  I always try to stock up on the great deals that come around this time of year in amounts that will see us through the year until the next holiday sales.  We're fortunate to have a spare upright freezer in addition to our fridge's freezer, along with a large walk-in pantry to store our food stores.  I use our Food Saver to vacuum seal many items as well, to extend it's life.  It's such a blessing to have our own little "grocery store" full of food items bought at the lowest prices possible!

Today's meals were kept very simple.  Since we don't mind leftovers, many times I will cook a big batch of something that will provide for several more meals.  Some days we just kind of graze, as our appetites dictate.  Today I made some cream of wheat for hubby's breakfast (one of his favorites).  Since he had the appointment, and wasn't very hungry during lunchtime, I noshed and nibbled here and there.  By the time I got home from grocery shopping, we agreed that a heated up frozen pizza would hit the spot, since I had lots of groceries to put away.  I'm so thankful that hubby is fairly easy going!

The weather today was sunny, warm and in the mid 80's!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Simple Living, Extraordinary Life ~ The Dailies 11/6/17

hundred year old oak
I discovered a Youtube channel today called Great Depression Cooking (link is to the first video I watched. I'm not affiliated with it in any way.).  It was hosted by a cute lady in her nineties named Clara and filmed by her grandson Christopher.  She shares recipes that her family ate during the depression of the early 1900's here in America, stories from that time of their lives and bits of wisdom that life has taught her.  One of her statements that stuck with me (this is not a direct quote) was how life is so much better for our population at large than it was in those days but people are still "squawking"/complaining/griping about their lot in life.  So true.

After spending the day watching her short videos when I had a moment to spare, I found myself taking mental trips down memory lane.  Back to the days of my childhood spent with my great-grandmother, grandmother and mother.  And then the days of my own young motherhood, of which many were spent as a single mom.  And how we all cooked and served our own versions of depression fare.

It also got me to thinking how quickly, if we don't record the minutiae of our lives, it can be forgotten and lost in the next generation's own struggle of building their families and lives.  And how knowing those little things can birth a new and great appreciation for your own lot in life.  Since I have never been the best journaler, but have developed a new hunger to know my own family's history, I have vowed to become better at recording "the dailies" of my life, on the chance that someday my own offspring begin to wonder "what was it like when...?".  

So here we go (this should be about as much fun as watching paint dry for most of y'all, lol!)...

Today's tidbits:

In addition to getting to know Clara ^^^ (RIP Clara), today I had some errands to run that could include our miniature dachshund, Dollface (named by my daughter).  Bank and veterinarian's office to pick up Galahad's (our cat, who was named by the shelter we adopted him from).  (Since my children are grown, I find I apparently need to continue nurturing, so the pets are my new "babies" that I tend to humanize, much to my family's eye rolling dismay๐Ÿ˜‚).

On the way to the bank, I stopped at a local park that I love so Dollface could get a bit of exercise.

Other than that, we followed our usual routine: breakfast (homemade apple cinnamon raisin oatmeal), lunch (leftovers), dinner (leftovers), a snack of DIY microwave popcorn in the evening, and all the little tasks in between.

I hope you took time to savor those little moments in each day that all add up to your extraordinary life!

Thanks for stopping by! ~ TJ 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Slow Cooker "Loaded Baked Potato" Soup Recipe~

A favorite soup of ours for cooler weather is a hearty, stick to your ribs, potato soup.  We consider it a "loaded baked potato" soup.  It's a recipe that I change up slightly  each time I make it, depending on what I may or may not have on hand as far as ingredients and "accessories" (cheese, sour cream, etc.) goes.  It is a recipe that is very forgiving and leaves much room for experimentation.  This soup can be very inexpensive in it's barest-of-bones form, or as rich and decadent as your tastes and pocketbook allow!

Slow Cooker "Loaded Baked Potato" Soup 

•  6-8 medium to large potatoes (uncooked and diced into roughly one inch pieces) *I use enough to cover the bottom of my slow cooker (see in sidebar) completely *I usually use russets that I buy on sale in 5-10 pound bags 

•  1 cup of diced onion *if I don't have fresh onion, I use dried minced onion (1/2-1 tablespoon, or onion powder 1/2-1 teaspoon 

•  4-5 cups of either chicken broth, vegetable broth or water (or a combination) note:  you may need to add more liquid, just make sure the potatoes are covered with liquid to cook in.

•  2-4 garlic cloves, minced or 1/2-1 teaspoon garlic powder/granulated garlic

•  1/4 cup butter or margarine

•  1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped fine, or 1 tablespoon of dried parsley 

•  1-2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)

•  pepper to taste (I like white pepper when I have it)

Combine all ingredients listed above into slow cooker, cover and cook approximately 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low, or until potatoes are tender and mash easily with a fork. 
Once potatoes are tender, mash and blend all ingredients  (I like to use my immersion blender to mash and blend directly in the slow cooker but a regular blender could be used as well.  If using a blender, I only fill it about 1/3 full at a time since the ingredients are hot and can expand when blending. Either way, please use caution when blending as ingredients are HOT!

Next, add in:

•  1 cup of either milk, half & half or cream

Optional:  Once soup ingredients are blended, feel free to add your favorite "loaded baked potato" toppings.  We like:

•  sour cream 

•  shredded cheese *we usually have, and use, either colby-jack or a Mexican blend but use what you prefer/have on hand

•  bacon *I usually use my kitchen scissors to cut up several slices of bacon & then cook until crisp but other bacon "bit" products would work

•  chives or green onions, chopped

If you try this recipe, I hope you enjoy it!  If you have any ideas or suggestions on how you would make it adding your own personal touches, please share!  I love learning from others!

Thanks for stopping by!~TJ

* posts may contain affiliate links that allow me to earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.  My family and I appreciate your encouragement and support more than you can imagine! 

Friday, November 3, 2017

Five Frugal Things ~ November 3, 2017

Enjoying our backyard wildlife is always a simple pleasure that makes life feel extraordinarily rich!
I'm still pinching those pennies y'all! Always have (during the majority of my life) and always will, I'm sure!  Lately I have:

•  used some over-ripe bananas to make a frugal banana cake

•  used green onions from our garden abundance in soup and baked potatoes

•  loaded a Walmart gift card with money to use for a few cents off per gallon on gas when I filled our vehicle up with fuel.

•  stayed home unless absolutely necessary.  When I do have to run errands, I plan and map out each stop so I am essentially making a "circle" and not zigzagging from place to place, wasting time and fuel.

•  researched the lowest price on flea prevention for our feline and purchased it at the best price I could find.

I hope this might give you an idea or two to add to your money saving plan!

Thanks for stopping by! ~TJ

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Five Frugal Things ~ October 25, 2017

beautiful autumnal colors in my container garden! 

Wow, it's been a while since I posted my five frugal things!  I'll just jump in where I left off...

This past week, to save money, I:

1)  juiced some limes that were on their way out๐Ÿ˜ต.  I used the juice to make a glass of limeade and also to just splash into my glasses of drinking water to give it a zing.

2)  made my stain remover for laundry.

3)  made powdered laundry detergent.

4)  made a large batch of granola (my favorite cereal!)

5)  ran across an unadvertised buy one get one free deal on pork chops and pork roasts so I bought one of each and put all four in the freezer to use later.

I hope you are all enjoying some cooler weather (if that's your cup of tea~ it is mine!) and finding new ways to save money!

Thanks for stopping by! ~ TJ

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!๐Ÿ‘‡

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 backyard๐Ÿ˜จ).  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? ๐Ÿ˜‰). 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰) 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


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