Saturday, July 20, 2013

Frugal Accomplishments - a Busy Week.

Blanket flower and some branches from an apricot tree root for the picking in our flower garden.

Picked up some free Quaker Chewy Granola bars, thanks to King Soopers and some freebie coupons they've been putting on their website each week.  These will help stock the snack basket this week.  I love the snack basket, by the way.  It's so handy to grab something on a busy day, and I think it's a comfort to the girls that there's something waiting for when they get hungry.  I picked up a stemmed bowl (for lack of proper description) and I've been keeping some fresh fruit in it, right next to the snack basket.  Between the two, the girls are getting good variety, and it's really affordable to maintain, since I don't purchase prepackaged items...I just get some for free here and there or make things at home. 

Speaking of snack basket, we had pancakes one morning.  I used the extra batter to make mini pancakes (a cookie scoop is great for getting them evenly sized), which I made into mini pbj sandwiches.  They are a huge hit, and the perfect size for between meals.  They are mostly pb, very little j, because I was afraid the jelly would soak through the bread.

I accepted grapes from a friend who over-bought.

The girls each got a clementine orange as a sample at the supermarket.

We've spent about $32 at the grocery store in the past two weeks.  We are buying a lot of produce, even though we are getting some from the garden, and picking up a few deals here and there.  We are spending a lot less at the store lately, and the freezer is emptying out some. 

I'm on the lookout for good sales on pork, especially a shoulder roast that we could make into kalua pig or bbq pork (eh, same-same).  We've pretty much decided to quit buying milk for now.  The only times we use it are as a vehicle for cold cereal and in cooking.  I can make up Morning Moo if we want to have cereal, and I can use the less costly powdered milk for cooking.  A gallon of milk is just too much of a challenge these days.  I could freeze it a quart at a time, but for now, we're going to take a milk break.

I made teriyaki beef, hamburgers, shoyu turkey, a pot of rice, sesame spinach, pasta salad, bean sprout salad, cupcakes with sprinkles, oatmeal raisin muffins, Italian dressing, kimchee and a really big vat of chili this week.  To make the chili, I first had to make chili beans from scratch, and I also cooked up some kidney beans.  Some of the kidney beans went into the chili, and the rest went into the freezer for future meals.  I also made a second batch of oatmeal raisin muffins, mainly because they would use up the milk that no one was drinking.  Those went into the freezer as well, for future breakfasts and snacks.

Sunday found us out the door early and unexpected.  I did grab a snack from the basket for each girl, but by the time church was over, they (ok, we) were famished, and we still had errands.  We went to DelTaco, because they had coupons for free meals from Summer Reading.  I also used a coupon to buy one item (a .50 taco) and get a bean burrito for free.  The three of us ate well for 53 cents. 

K-Mart sent me 3000 reward points that I had to use right away.  That's $3 in store.  We picked up a package of 48 Crayola crayons and 2 packages of erasers, which came to exactly $3.  The way their system is set up, we didn't even have to pay tax.  We have a fund for school supplies, and I've been picking up some of the really great back-to-school offers that are out there.  Our virtual school provides most everything, but it's nice to have fresh crayons and markers for school and for crafts. :)

We took donations to Goodwill and the attendant gave me a soda.  I picked up one of those salad dressing bottles.  We make a lot of our own dressings, but right now, all my dressing bottles are full of sno-cone syrup, which is another great use for those bottles.  This one is currently filled with some homemade Italian dressing.  Yum!  I also got a beautiful scarf and two baskets.

We were home a little more this week than we have been in weeks past.  The girls have been playing outside, reading books from the library and listening to some music CD's we got at the library as well.  They've been reading The Daring Book for Girls, and have created a game that has all sorts of codes - calls that require various actions, hand signals and secret phrases.  It's called Zombie Chicken, and it creates lots and lots of giggling.

Sound the alarm!  Zombie Chickens are here!!

A family at church gave me two sets of twin size sheets.  Sister's bed is twin size, and a spare set will be great.  She will use the Barbie set on the bed.  The other sheet set is pink satin.  I am considering some options with those...a swag to go along the top of Sister's bedroom curtains, pajama pants for both girls for Christmas (if I can sew satin - it sure is slippery!), possibly something for Halloween?  Time will tell....please share your ideas too! :)

That same family gifted us with a pair of really fun sleeping bags.  Unzipped, they will make cute bed covers too!

Sunday afternoon, the girls were 'bored'.  Husband and I were sitting at the kitchen table shelling pecans.  My parents sent them to us for Christmas, and every so often, we shell a bunch.  The girls helped us for about an hour, and we ended up with 3lb. of shelled pecans.  Frugal, because my folks got us 50 lb. of pecans (in shell) for Christmas, which will result in about 25 pounds shelled....which is a huge blessing.  They got them from someone with pecan trees, and even with the shipping, the shelled pecans work out to about $3 a pound, if I'm doing the math right.  Thanks, Mom and Dad!

Husband and I worked on setting up the classroom area in preparation for fall.  We use a virtual school, which starts in about 4 weeks.  When Sister moved in, we had to dismantle our office/classroom, so now the school area is down in our basement, which is unfinished.  We used the school desk and the larger office desk to make a space where both girls will have room to work.  We used some pretty cloth we had on hand to make the wall behind the desks look more cheerful too.  I think it looks nice!  Once all the books and materials have arrived for both girls, we'll adjust as needed.

I registered a gift card with Starbucks a while back, and they emailed me that I had a free item item of my choice.  It was a small window when I could get my free item, and I ended up in Starbucks, in Safeway, on the last day.  That's when I learned that the offer isn't good in the Starbucks locations that are in grocery stores and stuff...I'd have to go to a free standing Starbucks.  Since we don't have any of those out here, I gave the card (which was almost empty) to the cashier at Walmart, since she will be driving past a few locations on her way home.  Made her happy, made me happy too! 

I gave Husband a haircut, gave Sister a wee trim, trimmed both Daughter's and my own bangs.

We picked peas, lettuces, parsley, spinach and green onion tops from the garden.  The zucchini are coming, and the green beans and tomatoes are blooming.  We picked the cherries from the pie cherry tree.  They have been pitted and simmered in a sugar syrup, and once they are rinsed, they will be dried and stored for snacking.  (They are so, so good!)

Lots of library books this week.  Hooray! :)  We had a library program one morning, and instead of eating out we had a 'car picnic' on the way home.  It only took me a few minutes that morning to gather some things and make sandwiches - well worth it!

I bought an enamel coated cast iron pot with a lid - never used - for $20.  I've wanted one pretty much forever, so I was really happy to find this great deal!

There was a 'curb alert' near my home on freecycle - someone who had set out some things for whoever wants them - just come by and take what you want.  I had an appointment and it was on my way.  I got a large cooler, a girls bike and a carpet cleaner!  The cooler needs the hinges replaced, which I think we can do easily, the bike needs a little work too, but we have a couple of old bikes here that might provide the items we need, and according to the person who offered it, the carpet cleaner just needs to be cleaned.  I've gotten it partially cleaned, and I'm hopeful that I'll have everything spiffy this next week!  The same day, I picked up another bike at Goodwill for $8.  It's in working order, but older looking, so we'll do a little spiffing up there as well.  Pics soon!

I've started secret lists for Christmas - I plan to make some gifts this year, for certain.

This is posting on Saturday.  The girls and I will spend the day at the annual church picnic, so I'm sure I'll have some photos to share soon!  We are taking cupcakes with sprinkles, bean sprout salad, pickled beets and dilly beans.

Room for Improvement:

I haven't been very good at thawing things in advance lately.  I know that thawing in the microwave uses electricity.  Maybe it's not a lot, but still...I want to do a better job of looking ahead and getting things thawed in advance.

The girls have gone through a tremendous amount of hair conditioner (we're talking 3/4 of a bottle in a week and a half) in a very short time, so I'm doing a bit of 'training' there.  We generally get that sort of thing free or very low cost, but that is not so we can waste it.

I need to look at my options for additional ways to bring in some income.  A combination of changes in our family size and new staff at one location means that I am not getting sub hours at the library like I used to.  I would like to sew.  I like sewing, and I have a lot of supplies on hand...but I need to come up with something cute/affordable/not too complicated that people would want.  Oh, and time to sew!


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading about your week. You always have some great ideas (love your snack basket - and the "car picnic" was fun!). Concerning the conditioner - my granddaughters have curly hair and were going through conditioner pretty fast, too. I put some in a spray bottle diluted with water and we spray it on before combing. Seems to be working well. - Rhonda

Laura said...

Rhonda, we make homemade detangler too! This was more of a difference because Daughter's Sister just came to live with us, and didn't know about using a dime size dollop...she was filling her hand. :)

Theresa said...

Really love reading your savings each week.

Mari said...

I found your blog through your comments at the Prudent Homemaker. I admire your taking on the challenge of the second child!

To avoid getting bread or pancakes soggy from jelly, spread a thin layer of peanut butter on both sides of the sandwich and put the jelly on top of one side. The peanut butter is thick enough to 'protect' the bread. This works especially well when you use an entire load to make sandwiches for freezing.

Laura said...

Thanks for your kind words, Theresa! Mari, I did think about the peanut butter 'coating', but I was a bit pressed for time, and just did the thin layer of jelly, since the pancakes themselves are on the sweet side too. It is a great tip for frozen sandwiches though - thanks! :)

Cathy said...

Oh my Laura! You have been super busy. I applaud you on your frugalness this past week.

I just returned from the south to visit my new grand nephew. He turned 2 months old on Monday and I spent the entire day with him. Most of that day he spent sleeping on my shoulder. What an absolute cutie pie. You can just imagine the very fine baby hair he has and it is RED! His daddy is Irish so I guess it comes from that.

Last week I stopped at a super bargain store in North Carolina and my big purchase was 30lbs. of penne pasta for $6. I couldn't pass that up and we all know it will store nicely until needed.

In an older post I thought you said you may be keeping sister for awhile. Sounds like she will be joining your family in a more permanent capacity. I believe you are doing something very good here. It isn't like you can't afford another girl. They are almost the same size and most likely have the same interests. Looks like a win-win situation unless bio-mom takes her back unexpectedly. That would hurt.

What else? Well I'm glad you asked! I made a quick run in a Goodwill store in SC. I managed to pick up a nice sized aluminum pan for $1. I wanted to get a pan to melt my beeswax in on the stove. My other pans were a little too nice for it so this pan works well for it.

I can't remember much else from the past week except for a very handsome and spoiled little baby boy with red hair! LOL

Laura said...

Hey, Cathy,

I'm so glad you got to spend some time with your newest family member. Congratulations to all! :) And yay on the pasta - that's a great price, and like you said, it will store for a very long time in a sealed container.

Sister is staying with us for a school year, as long as I get all the legal paperwork that I need. There are no plans beyond that for her to stay....we love having her here, but it's not entirely up to us. Still, we are glad to have the opportunity to spend time together and share our home with her. :)


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