Saturday, October 29, 2016

Saturday snail mail...

Sometimes the best I can say is they are done and in the mail.  sigh.  Puts me a little closer to my snail mail goal for the year (52 letters in 52 weeks).  I wanted to get a few done while I had the card-making supplies still out after making Diego's birthday card.  

Now I need to get it all cleaned up and put away.  It's time to get the sewing machine out and work on a Christmas project.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Frugal Friday File, week 43...

1.  Bathed Rudy, cleaned his ears, trimmed his nails myself.  No grooming fees.

2.  When Carey has to work out of town, he is happiest taking meals packaged from our home-cooked meal leftovers.  He keeps a separate freezer just for his work meals, and it was virtually empty.  This past week I made him four different meals, and he just started three weeks of vacation, so by the time he has to worry about taking meals to work with him, we will once again have a freezer full of a wide variety.

3.  Had an issue with my brakes this week.  Carey was able to diagnose it and repair.

4.  Made cards this week from supplies on hand.

5.  Awhile back I wanted to order new earrings, but opted to start wearing ones that have been languishing in my jewelry box instead.  I've been wearing some studs night and day for weeks on end without removing them.  Yesterday I tried on another pair that I love the look of, but in the past they were so uncomfortable that I could barely wear them for an hour.  Apparently the constant wearing of earrings has desensitized my ears, as I wore the previously painful pair for several hours last night with no discomfort whatsoever.  I'm going to have to try other pairs that were uncomfortable in the past to see if they are wearable now.

Keep Tryings:
I bought Rudy a new toy that crinkles instead of squeaks, and I took my time looking for one that seemed pretty indestructible.  He really liked it.  Unfortunately it lasted barely two days before he was able to disassemble it and was biting off small pieces of plastic.  sigh.  The whole thing had to be thrown away, and we are back to the LOUD squeakies.  Unlike our pets in the past who always seemed to go after the squeaky mechanisms and rip them out, Rudy is happy to leave them in place and squeak and squeak and SQUEAK!!!

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  King Ranch Casserole, guacamole
Sunday:  Sunday family dinner at Kasey's - Chicken & Dumplings
Monday:  grandson invited me out for my birthday
Tuesday:  Lentil Soup
Wednesday:  Chili
Thursday:  *Diego's birthday dinner out
Friday:  beef & vegetable soup

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Diego's birthday card...

Yesterday was Diego's birthday (16th!).  We are going out to dinner tonight, and I wanted to make him a card to put a little cash in. 


It has a Halloween vibe with spider-web ribbon on lime green and purple.  Love that 'test tube' full of eyes.  :)  The tubes were part of Stampin' Up's Paper Pumpkin last month.

front                             inside

All of the sentiments were computer-and-printer generated, since I had a specific inside message in mind that I didn't have a stamp for, and I wanted the font to match inside and out.

I love it when the finished product actually matches the idea in my head.  :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

What I'm reading Wednesday...

Written In My Own Heart's Blood by Diana Gabaldon

Still!  I have been at it for three (3!) weeks.  And I am only 52% through it.  (Is there an emoji for eye rolling?)

I wish I could just stop, but I actually want to know what happens.  But 850 pages?  Come ON!  I haven't had the time, or frankly the inclination, to just power through.  I think that says something about how I feel about it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

October 25th, Rudolph Day...

My birthday was yesterday and there has been a lot of entertainment opportunities (it's nice to be loved), so my Rudolph Day post will be postponed for a couple of days.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Sunday family dinner...

I roasted two chickens on Friday.  We had roast chicken for supper, and then once the birds had cooled, I took all the meat off the bones and stored it for future use.  I put the bones and pan drippings in the slow cooker, added some vegetables and bay leaves, covered with water, and cooked on low overnight.  It made beautiful stock, which I had intended to store for soup, but just seeing it made me want to make chicken and dumplings.

I have gone on record as being a firm believer in the superiority of the drop dumpling, but my son-in-law favors the dreaded rolled variety.  So today while I was making my yummy, fluffy drop dumpling recipe for the rest of us, I made an alternative recipe as well which involved rolling and cutting some of the other kind out just for Beau.

First bite...carefully considering flavor, texture, chicken-to-dumpling ratio...

...and the verdict is in.  All I can say is he had better not get used to the special treatment.  That was a lot of work!  :)

Silly boy!  Did he eat too much?  Or did he learn too late that when the mother-in-law makes one meal for the family and a 'special' meal for just you, there could be a nefarious plot in the works?  ;)  

Friday, October 21, 2016

Frugal Friday file, week 42...

1.  Turning off the wireless connection to my Kindle so that I can continue to read the library book on it that I haven't finished yet.  The library can still retrieve their copy from my Amazon account so I won't be depriving any other library patrons or incur any fine, but until the wireless is turned back on to my Kindle it will be readable to me.

2.  I responded to some correspondence from our health insurance company, so hopefully we will get some reimbursement for the money we have spent on chiropractic care recently.

3.  Last weekend I could take it no longer.  I called Kasey and said I was coming over, and someone was going to cut my hair, I didn't much care who.  Beau ended up doing it.  I started by clipping my hair up on top of my head and having him put a strip of tape across the back of my tee shirt at the length I wanted it cut so he would have a guide to cut by.  I let the bottom half of my hair out of the clip, and had him cut it at the top edge of the tape.  Then I put the rest of my hair down and had him cut it at the bottom edge of the tape (that way the top layer turns under a bit instead of looking completely blunt cut).  I've been mighty happy with it all week.  I would never try to get away with a home cut if I had a short style, but with it long, it's hard to mess up.  And in case of accident, there was still plenty of length to go to the stylist to fix it; but it didn't come to that.  :)

4.  Some weeks we just don't use a lot of bread.  I used the food processor to make almost an entire loaf into bread crumbs.  I spread them out on a large sheet pan and let them sit uncovered for a couple of days in my kitchen, tossing occasionally.  When they were completely dry, I moved them to an airtight container, and I'm storing them in the freezer till next month when I will use them for the Thanksgiving dressing.

5.  Made a big grocery shop, and have restocked the freezer with lots of fixings for cool-weather fare.  For adding meat to soups and stews I saved by buying inexpensive beef soup bones with lots of meat on them instead of buying more expensive stew meat and buying hamhocks with lots of meat on them instead of ham.  I bought individual onions that were 69¢ a lb instead of a 3 lb bag that was $3.20 (got my 3 lb for $2.07 rather than $3.20...sometimes the pre-priced bags are a bargain, but sometimes they're not...always do the math).   I bought a large family-size pack of ground beef, then came home and seasoned and browned all of it and vacuum sealed in individual-recipe sizes to make for easy meal starters.  I placed the rice and lentils into the freezer for a few days to kill any possible weevil or moth larvae, to preclude any waste or infestation.  Bought large baking potatoes, and will make a big batch of twice-baked potatoes to vacuum seal and freeze for easy side dishes.  And I made sure to shop before the digital coupon for a free pumpkin expired, so I have one for my fall decorating.

Keep Tryings:
Having to pay Carey's speeding ticket.  :(

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  meatloaf, twice-baked potatoes, broccoli
Sunday:  *lunch out and skipped supper
Monday:  *dinner out
Tuesday:  Baked chicken, roasted spaghetti squash, broccoli
Wednesday:  Ground beef patties, baked potatoes, 3-bean salad
Thursday:  leftovers
Friday:  roast chicken, seasoned rice, and green beans

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)

Monday, October 17, 2016

You can't go home again...

...and if you do, they may give you a ticket.

Since our anniversary this past April, my thoughts have often turned to our first home together.  It was a pretty terrible little town.  It was rundown and lacked everything.  It was forty miles from the nearest medical help, and the big annual community event was a rattlesnake roundup.  It's been the butt of so many of our jokes and I-can-beat-that stories over the years, that we thought it might be fun to go back and look around.

Why would we move there if it was that bad?  Carey landed a good job there just a couple of months before we got married.  The first time he took me over to look at the housing possibilities, I came home absolutely dejected.  It was truly abysmal.  The one possibility that I remember most vividly was an apartment above a restaurant.  I'm being kind to call it a restaurant.  The apartment was filled with the smells and sounds coming up from downstairs (and probably the vermin too).  I considered postponing the wedding if not calling it off altogether.  :)

We started out living in a kitchenette in a tourist court...the type of place you see in movies from the 1940s.  We were there a few weeks when we heard about a small house for rent.  We rented the house and stayed in it for about six months, when the house across the street from it, which was nicer, came up for rent.  Let me tell you it was not fun moving just across the end up carrying a box at a time from door to door.  Thankfully we were newlyweds and hadn't acquired a lot of possessions.  

We stayed in the second house which we were very happy with for only about six months, because the day after I gave birth to our first child we were told Carey was being transferred.  So we moved again, about three hours away, to a town that I had always thought was very picturesque, and I was in heaven.  I didn't have much time to settle in, because seven months later we were transferred back to the very same awful little town we started in.  

At least this time we had made some friends there, and I immediately started calling them to ask if they knew of any houses for rent.  One sweet friend called me back a day or so later about midday with news that a young electrician in town had been killed on the job that morning, and the house he and his wife rented was clean and decent and I should call the landlords immediately.  And I did.  I have never felt like such a vulture in my life, but that's how real estate worked there...the early bird got the worm.

We were approved by the landlords, but of course they couldn't give the poor young widow the bum's rush.  She naturally needed time to decide what to do and where to go and pack and move.  So while we had that house in our sights, we had to rent another really awful place for a few months until it was empty.

Now if you were counting, that was four houses that we lived in.  Today we drove around the town.  It's a little bigger, a few more businesses, but still terribly run down.  One thing we noticed was that there were way more trees than there used to be.  It used to be pretty desert like.  The trees really threw off my sense of direction.  And being that there was no home delivery of mail when we lived there, and basically no need to memorize your address, not to mention that we were in each house for such a short time, we couldn't definitively remember any of the streets that we lived on.  Oddly I clearly remember that our post office box was number 555.  I think because it always sounded vaguely fictitious to me, being that on American television all phone numbers start with 555.  

Anyway, we never found even one of the houses we used to live in.  They probably have all fallen down by now...seriously!  As we were getting bored with the search, and about to head back out of town, we turned a corner and within a block there was a police cruiser with lights flashing behind us.  We were going 27 miles per hour in a 20 mile per hour school zone.  I'm not even sure it was possible for us to have gone from a dead stop to 27 miles per hour in the after-school traffic.  And the blinking school zone sign was still in front of us, meaning we weren't even IN the school zone yet unless there was another one behind us.  Who knows?  Carey just wanted to get out of there.  He wouldn't even circle around the block to let me take photos of any school zone signage or get a better idea of what we did or didn't do, so we could decide whether to pay the fine or fight the ticket.

Anyway, sometimes you look back on things and let sentiment color it in shades of rose.  Yeah.  We never have, and today assures that we never will.  Back in the 70's we couldn't get out of there soon enough, and today we DIDN'T get out of there soon enough!  :)

Friday, October 14, 2016

Frugal Friday File, week 41...

1.  Delayed gratification can be very frugal.  I had a great find at Goodwill, which almost never happens for me.  Paying $17.82  rather than in excess of $150 plus super high postage?  Yes, thank you!  

2.  Discussed an auction item with husband, as to what it would take to retro-fit a salvaged front door in place of the one we have presently.  More expense and trouble than I want right now.  Someday I will find what I want.  Until then, I am delaying my gratification.  :)

3.  I've been cooking from the pantry and freezer, and avoiding the grocery store.

4.  I put off errands near a lower-priced gasoline station until tank was nearing empty so I could kill two birds with one trip.

5.  I need a haircut!  Really, really, need a haircut.  But I continue to put it off.

Keep Tryings:

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  headache all day and home alone, so skipped dinner
Sunday:  Sunday family dinner at Kasey's
Monday:  breakfast for dinner
Tuesday:  Salad with Chicken
Wednesday:  Greek Tortellini Salad
Thursday:  barbecue meatballs, rice, vegetable
Friday:  15 bean soup in the slow cooker, corn bread

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

My best Goodwill thrift find to date...

I've been wanting some solid white dishes for several years.  I've been looking online at different styles, but haven't found any at a price I wanted to pay.  I once ordered a place setting and returned it, mainly because I didn't want to pay for the cups and saucers we never use; I have two sets taking up space in my cabinets as it is.

Yesterday I stopped into Goodwill and saw a tall stack of white plates.  I turned one over...Mikasa.  There were 12 dinner plates (10 5/8 inch) and 12 salad plates (8 1/2 inch).  Three plates of each size had little chips in the edge, so they stayed at the store, but the unblemished nine of each size came home with me for 99¢ each...$17.82 total, and they look brand new!

I checked on ebay to see what they go for.  I saw them listed for a low of $9.99 each up to $17.99 each.  The Mikasa website lists them for $17.99 plate costs more than I paid for all of mine.  And there is hefty shipping on top of those prices.

The lowest price I saw for the salad plates was $40 for 6 (plus $20.80 shipping), so I guess that means nine could go for $60 or more.  The Mikasa website lists them at $12.99 each.

Yes, K2, more white.  I like the way it all blends together...antique bowl, new casseroles, Dollar Tree soup mugs, and my Goodwill fine china.  :)  I like the way my grandmother's green juicer stands out as the only color on the shelf.  

I like the way it looks on the open shelving next to my white cabinets.

Carey is of the opinion that nothing is a bargain if you don't NEED it, and he also doesn't go in for impulse purchases.  Miraculously, he remembers a bargain we made about 3 years ago.  He got to do something he wanted that I thought wasn't necessary (I don't even remember what it was) if I could have a new set of white dishes.  So he knows this wasn't an impulse purchase, and my internet research proves that I got it at a super-low price.  Yea!  I don't have to listen to him grumble!  :)

I occasionally whine about the high prices at Goodwill, so I was very happy to find a real bargain.  My $17.82 purchase sounds pretty good compared to a minimum of $150+ with shipping on top, huh?  It does to me!  

Friday, October 7, 2016

Frugal Friday File, week 40...

1.  I made $42 on the garage sale last weekend.  Not a fortune, but I got rid of stuff.  Kasey and I swapped a couple of things with each other.  I have a box to drop at Goodwill, and I have things left that I want to list on Craigslist later this week.

2.  I worked Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and I scheduled two more days at another branch in a week or so.

3.  Saved $60 by paying home insurance for the whole year rather than monthly.  Five dollars a month seems pretty reasonable to spread it out over the year, and there were many years that we needed to do that.  But we had the funds in the account now, so I saved the $60 by paying once.

4.  Thursday I made a big pot of Virginia's Taco Soup.  Just when it was ready, Kasey called.  They had hosted a meal for Chandler's football teammates.  After the boys left, they had tons of food left.  I turned the soup off and left it to cool while we went to Kasey's.  Soup always tastes better on the second day anyway, and all the work is done.  Free meal on Thursday (thanks again, Kasey) and an already prepped meal for Friday.

5.  Frugal is: hanging out at home, reading library books, doing chores, being creative with items on hand, playing with the dog...all my favorite things (well, maybe not the doing chores part).

Keep Tryings:
No matter how sure I am that I can go to the movie and NOT have popcorn, I always give in.

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  Tuna sandwiches
Sunday:  Sunday family dinner at Kasey's
Monday:  Roast, potatoes, carrots in the slow cooker
Tuesday:  Spaghetti w/ meat sauce and garlic bread
Wednesday:  *Schlotzky sandwiches
Thursday:  impromptu family dinner at Kasey's
Friday:    Virginia's Taco Soup

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)

Seven (not so) random thoughts on the 7th...

My thoughts are going to the dogs this month.

1.  This is a photo of Sarge getting a hug from Kasey.  I took this on the day of the garage sale.  Sarge is around ten.  They came very close to losing him recently when he and their younger dogs had an encounter with a porcupine.  Sarge had to spend some time in the animal hospital when one (or more) of the quills evaded removal at the first vet visit and traveled internally causing his lungs to collapse.  

2.  And then there's Rudy.  He is really very good.  He loves his toys, and for the most part stays away from things he's not supposed to play with.  He does like to chew on the odd magazine now and then, though.  He's learning how to release his ball so we can play fetch rather than tug of war.  It always gives me a giggle when he brings it to me, and uses his nose to nudge it toward me so I'll throw it.

3.  He absolutely hates it when it rolls too close to the dreaded fireplace tools...the ones that have been known to fall to the floor with a loud clang when a rambunctious puppy bumps into now he tries to keep his distance.  And he tries to make sure his toys keep their distance too.  He seems to think that as long as one paw is still touching the carpet, he will be safe, so he streeeeeeetches out as far as he can stretch.  If he still can't reach it, he barks from a safe distance until somebody retrieves it for him.

4.  He loves TV.  He has been known to get pretty interested in Hallmark movies on the weekend, but Pitbulls and Parolees seems to be his favorite program.  It cracks me up to watch him watch TV!

5.  I think I told you that a favorite pastime of his is watching the deer outside the windows.  Let me rephrase that...he loves to watch and bark and bark and BARK at the deer outside of the windows.  I have had to resort to covering the lower panes of the front windows.  The deer practically come up on the front porch, and it drives him absolutely wild.  He can still see deer out the back windows, but the fence is higher in the backyard and keeps them out, so the ones he can see are further away.  He's still interested, just not as confrontational.  When he gets a little older I will replace the white board with an opaque window cling product that hopefully won't be quite so unattractive.  I would do it now, but sometimes he scratches at the window when he gets excited, so I think he needs more time for maturing and training.

6.  He still loves his monkey, and usually curls up with it when he takes a nap.  Of course, you may remember it as being red and yellow.  It has had to be replaced more than once, and they were out of red and yellow when I bought this one.  This is actually the third one he has had, and each successive one has lasted longer than its predecessor.  He's learning to be more gentle with them.  This is definitely his favorite toy, and since they are only about $6 each, I have a small stockpile built up so that he is never without his leetle friend.

7.  A stuffed monkey is all well and good, but the best napping partner is still Dad.  :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

What I'm reading Wednesday...

 I went to the library website last night to see how far the line had moved on an ebook I've been waiting for.  Almost there.  In the meantime...

Written In My Own Heart's Blood by Diana Gabaldon

I have been putting off reading this one.  I've read the series, and liked each successive one less.  A friend assured me that this one is much better than the last one I read, and is actually very good.  Hmmm.  Library ebook, so if I don't like it, I'm not out anything. 

Paleo For Beginners by John Chatham

This one caught my eye and was an impulse check out.  Also an ebook, I thought maybe it would re-inspire me.

I had better hurry up and get these read.
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