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!

Breakfasts

•  fried eggs and toast
•  oatmeal with raisins

Lunches/Dinners

•  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

Beverage 

•  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.

PLEASE NOTE *I DO NOT RECEIVE COMMISSION ON THESE DONATIONS* 
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.

Breakfasts 
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

Lunches/Dinners
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

Beverage

•  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? 😉). 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 😉) 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...😈😇) 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!

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