Saturday, December 7, 2013

Frugal Accomplishments - December

Here are the frugal accomplishments for the first week in December.  I hope you find an idea or two that would work for you, so you can save more, spend less, and still have a wonderful Christmas season.

Back in the summer I was playing a game on Cacique's facebook page and I won a bunch of coupons.  This week at King Sooper, there were 10 oz. packages of one of the fresh cheeses for $1 each.  The coupons I have doubled to $1, making the cheese free.  It's a crumbly cheese.  Since I have never had feta, I'm using it in salads in place of feta.  I'm also putting it with refried beans, on enchiladas, mixed in scrambled eggs....I had a lot of those coupons, so I'm using it lots of ways.  I've also put some in the freezer for later.  My other purchases were markdown items - portabella mushrooms for 1.99, a six pack of sesame bagels for 1.19 and a box of donut holes for .69 (splurge, for sure!).  There were cutie tangerines in the sample bin, so Daughter and I each got one.

We are slowly getting out our Christmas decorations.  My grandma always had a similar candle with a little
'wreath' around the base.  I always think of her when I light this candle.  The quilted mat beneath it is
from goodwill, purchased a few years ago.

I did a lot of cooking this week.  I made enchilada sauce, a turkey enchilada filling (and then, of course - enchiladas), Mexican rice that was horrible, salsa that was really quite good, sweet and sour meat balls (I ground a roast into ground beef first, woo hoo!), steamed broccoli, rice, calzones, fresh salad, tuna salad for sandwiches, carrot-raisin salad, creamy ham-vegetable soup, waffles, fruit salad, cole slaw and mashed potatoes. 

My neighbor let me have a branch from his fir tree (he had cut it and was throwing it away).  The ceramic
tree is just like one my grandma made.  My parents still use the one grandma made...I got this one at Goodwill
several years ago.

That horrible Mexican rice?  I cooked it as 'patties' in a nonstick skillet, low and slow, until it was crispy outside and more dry.  I drizzled them with sriracha and added a little sour cream and fresh cilantro.  It was a pretty good salvage!

I made extras of several items and froze meal-size portions for future weeks' meals. 

It took a couple years, but we finally filled our punch-card at the bread outlet, so we got to choose two free items.  I got a pack of English muffins and some bagels.  They also had 12-packs of Hawaiian rolls, for .50 each, so I bought two.  I put one package in the freezer - we've been told that we'll be getting a ham from Husband's employer at Christmas, and I think instead of tamales, we just might have ham, rolls, fruit salad and...other stuff, lol.

We got chicken at KFC a while back when there was a special, but they got our order wrong.  To make up for the mistake, they offered us a bucket of chicken (and cookies!) free of charge, so we had that for a meal (with the homemade slaw and mashed potatoes). 

A very nice lady at church gave me this ornament last year. 
I have it in my kitchen, and I smile each time I see it.

On Cyber Monday, I bought a $25 Del Taco gift card.  If you buy it on that day it comes with two certificates, each good for a combo meal.  The combo meals are huge, so we usually get one, plus a bean burrito for Daughter, and that feeds all three of us.  The gift card lasts us until Summer each year, because we make frugal choices, drink water, combine with coupons, etc. 

I've accumulated a few of these bail-top jars over the years, mainly at Goodwill.

I mentioned on freecycle that I would love to have some buttons, and after stopping at three houses not far from my own home, I am nearly a quart of buttons richer!  I have several things coming up I would like to use them for, plus Daughter has really enjoyed pouring them out into a tray and just sort of playing in them.  (I did the same thing when I was a kid!  Okay, I also did it yesterday.)

I made this advent pocket-calendar for Daughter a few years ago, from cloth my mother gave me.  I used
rubber stamps for the numbers, then darkened them with fabric paint.

I filled Daughter's Advent calendar with candy from Halloween and 'the jar'.  She didn't trick or treat this year, but still got some things at a church event.  I still need to get little activity slips made and tucked in there - right now, most of it's on the paper calendar.

We sold a few used items we no longer needed.

I used homemade laundry soap to wash our clothes and drying racks to dry them.  We heated with wood on cold days to save propane.  I even simmered some soup on the wood stove one afternoon.

We got books and media from the library. 

I got to go through the 'misfit toys' box that has been circulating through a thrifty group I belong to.  I got a set of Christmas cloth napkins (which aren't toys, but will be nice on our table), a stocking stuffer for Daughter and some ready-to-color or paint ornaments we can use for a craft project.

I sure hope she likes the earrings.  I made them to match the scarf (which I laid them on for the photo).

I made some Christmas gifts.  I can't share about some of them, but these should be OK.  I made earrings to match a scarf I had gotten for my friend's daughter, and I made string-style bookmarks for the ladies in my Sunday school class.

I've had these beads and findings for a long time.  Some came from clearances or sales, others from broken
 jewelry.  It's fun to combine and re-combine things to come up with something pretty, and I like that the
 bookmarks are useful as well.

My neighbor cut a good-sized branch off his Douglas Fir tree.  With his permission, I brought it home to make a swag for our front door for Christmas.  I also draped a few branches in the house for Christmas greenery.  It's a bit early, and they may not make it all the way to Christmas, but we will enjoy them while they are nice.  We are using the remaining branches, in a vase of water, for our Jesse tree.

It's a simple swag, made with part of the fir branch, a crochet Christmas angel from
our ornament box, and ribbon we had on hand.  It's held together with cable ties!

A vase we already had (goodwill), some ribbon leftover from the craft bin, extra fir
branches and we have a Jesse 'tree'!  I found some free print-ables with scripture
 references for the Jesse tree.

I am 'back' as far as walking is concerned.  I was sick a couple weeks back, and it took me a while to get back in the swing of things, but I seem to be back up to my previous abilities.

I filled our 'block rack' with concrete block in the back of our little pickup.  It makes for much better traction on snowy roads.  Better traction keeps us from having to be towed!

I fed kitchen scraps to our hens.  We do this all the time, I just forget to mention it.

I accepted some hand-me-down clothes from a couple of friends.  We will use what we can and pass along the rest.

We found some cute printed t-shirts that Daughter really likes - only $2 each!

We mailed a couple of boxes out via priority mail.  Did you know that if you are mailing flat-rate boxes, you can go to and print your own postage?  It saves you about 1.50 per large flat-rate box if you print it at home.  Also, you can schedule for them to pick up the boxes at your home, free of charge.  It saves us waiting in line, and saves a little money too!

Well, that's what I remember.  How was your week?  What did you do to save, or to decrease your spending?  Leave a note in the comments, won't you please?


Sheila said...

I love the gifts that you made! You really have an 'eye' for things like that. Here is a recipe that we love with the Hawaiian rolls. They even fight over the leftover ones. :)

Theresa said...

The swag on your front door is really pretty.

Laura said...

Thank you Sheila! I like to make things, and lately, things have turned out the way I imagined them, which is kind of nice!

Theresa, thank you too! I was really happy with the swag and how easy it was to do. It was really just a bit of assembly, since the angel is an ornament. :)

momma-lana said...

Wow! All your projects look great! I really like your door.

All I can think of right now is what I have to do next and next and after that....

The grandchildren's bar in the kitchen is finished except the painting and that can wait until after Christmas. We wanted to get it up before the kids come. Total cost was only about $10 with the $5 thrift store table and some hardware. We had the chairs.

There are still amazing grocery deals going on. I am stocked for everything for baking for the next year other than bread flour. I am, so far, doing pretty well with not overbuying for Christmas week.

Hubby is away right now picking up our free ham from his employer.

Have a good week everyone!

Jennifer said...

Woohoo! Pictures (which really make me feel like I need to clean my house)! Like everyone else, I love the door swag. Cable ties are my MacGyver item; same with binder clips. Give me both and I can save the day!
Last week was terrible. Everything felt like it got turned upside down when we got a considerable amount of snow on Friday and my senior cat had an emergency late in the day. Oregonians don't know how to deal with 7 degree weather and packed snow and ice! (Go ahead and laugh :)) I'm happy to say that my cat pulled through his emergency, against all odds and is back to normal. And I feel like I made smart decisions for his care which was estimated at approximately $3k. I got away with a bill of $810 for after hours care, and a long term plan that involves an OTC drugstore product.
Anyhow, my spending log abruptly ends on Monday, but I vaguely remember making rolls on Tuesday and then giving them all away on Wednesday because I didn't like them enough to keep for Christmas. In exchange for all the rolls, my friend took me to lunch on Wednesday (and he liked the rolls).

Sat Nov 30; total spent: $89.80
• Late black Friday shopping: Staples ($0)-two reams of 500 ct paper and one pack of 5 Pentel RSVP pens for free; Rite Aid ($85.80)- four large bags M&M’s @ 50 cents each; two small packages of trail mix @ -20 cents (they paid me money); two bags of chips @ $2 ea. (Okay. That’s enough junk food for a while. Ugh.) Two home improvement gift cards, $100 total, with $20 reward back. I love this deal because there is no fee on these cards and they can be used at multiple stores. I may use them myself, like I did this summer, or give them away for Christmas gifts. Either way, I’ve made $20! Walgreens ($4)-four bottles of Welch’s sparkling grape juice @ $1/bottle (I’ll stash these for Christmas); free 2 oz contact solution.
• Rented a Redbox movie using a free promo code.
• Finished Thanksgiving leftovers for dinner.

Sun Dec 1; total spent: $0
• Ate breakfast for dinner: egg and cheese muffin sandwich with an orange and apple juice.
• Completed Staples rebate forms online, saving the cost of an envelope and stamp.

Mon Dec 2; total spent: $0
• Started planning the Christmas dinner menu to take advantage of sales.
• Made dinner from my stockpile: two small pork loin roasts stuffed with buttered herb crumbs, scalloped potatoes and a quick batch of applesauce from two apples I had in the fridge. (Apparently, I’m Peter Brady: can’t eat pork without applesauce. :))
• Sorted and organized my personal item shelf in my linen closet. Discarded expired items and things I no longer use. I had no less than fourteen contact lens cases (they come free with bottles of contact lens solution)! I saved two and threw out the rest. It took me less than 15 minutes to get the clutter under control on this shelf, and it will allow me to quickly see what I have and what I need so that I can spend my money wisely.

Laura said...

Lana, I saw the 'bar' for the kids on facebook and it's awesome! You two have really done some amazing projects. :)

Jennifer, I wish I'd caught the sparkling grape juice deal, but alas, I did not. Good for you, all the ways you find to save! :)

Anonymous said...

I love the book marks. We stock up on baking supplies cheese yogurt laundry soap butter flour and other pantry items. We got 4 20.00 dollar catalinas from albertsons for buying gift cards. Used the gift cards to do our online shopping for christmas
Today I finished with magazines.Value mags has some free
magazines. Sorry I do not know how to do a link. Found on hip 2 save on the 12/10 post maybe they will still be doing it friday. Makes great gifts.

amanda emerson said...

I love the swag!

Precious People Preschool said...

You are so creative,love a the book marks. I just finished the last of the earrings and necklaces for all the girls in the family,From Gma down to my 9 year old niece .The 9 yr
old does not have pierced ears so I made her a charm bracelet. I made my mom and sister birthstone necklaces.
I got all the family a mag subscription that they like by doing surveys or finding them free on line.
I got the girls socks found them 6
in a pack for the littles at 99 cents only got my mom and sister
socks 2 pairs for 99 cents. The guys are getting coffee cups with
the free kcups inside I do not have
one of those coffee makers. The men are also getting a griddle that I got on special at khols after rebate and khols cash they will be a good deal I just have to figure out the rebate. My daughter started baking last night we are a little behind on that. Have a blessed week. Patti


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