Friday, January 27, 2017

Frugal Friday File 2017, week 4...


Successes:
1.  I made a menu plan, grocery list, and grocery shop before Carey had to go back to work.  Since we didn't buy my car till his last day home, I didn't want to get caught with an empty fridge and pantry and no transportation if things didn't work out on the purchase.

2.  On my own today, did I spend my first day of vehicular freedom out cruising the highways in my new ride using gasoline?  No.  I had everything I needed at home, so I stayed home and read, played with Rudy, wrote some drafts of blog posts, and ate healthy.  Never left the house except to go sit in the sun for awhile.

3.  I gave Carey a rebuilt Kindle Keyboard for Christmas; he's always been sure he didn't need one, but I didn't know what else to get him this year.  I bought the rebuilt older model because I love mine, and I thought we should both have the same model for consistency.  I originally put four baseball books on it, and he mentioned this week that he's on the last one.  Before he went back to work, I found and downloaded a couple of free ebooks (espionage fiction) that had a lot of good reviews so he's set again for awhile.

4.  Our quilt retreat is coming up next month.  Our fearless leader sent out an email with what each person's share of the rental would come to.  My share was substantially less than everyone else's which had me scratching my head.  I forgot that I had paid the deposit to hold our group's place on the calendar when I visited an open house event at the retreat facility last year.  Woohoo for prepaid fun!

5.  The new car should get substantially better gas mileage
            than my previous one.  
     We did finance its purchase, but it was at a very low interest
            rate.  The rate of earnings by leaving our money invested
            outpaces the interest rate we will pay on the loan.
     I charged the substantial down payment to my credit card to
            reap the reward points.  As soon as it posts, I'll transfer
            the money from checking to pay it off.  I suppose I could
            have asked the dealership if they would discount the
            processing fee from the sales price if I paid with cash
            versus credit, but I didn't.

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  Virginia's Taco Soup
Sunday:  Sunday family dinner at Kasey's
Monday:  Spaghetti and Meatballs
Tuesday:  *Chinese
Wednesday:  pork chops, Hot Potato Salad, green beans
Thursday:  leftovers
Friday:  Frito pie

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)
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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Pecan Hummus...

The first time I ate at Green Vegetarian Cuisine in San Antonio, I came home wishing I had some more of their pecan hummus.  It was SOOOO good!  I thought, what the heck, I'll see if I can find a recipe for pecan hummus online.  The very first response in the Google list was for Green Vegetarian Cuisine's Raw Pecan Hummus!  Man was I excited, but for some reason I didn't make it right then or any time since.

I made another trip to the restaurant last month, and they weren't serving it currently since pecan's weren't in season.  Total disappointment.

Today I wanted something snack-y but healthy, and I remembered I had a bag of pecans stored in my freezer.  Slapped those babies in the food processor with some garlic, apple cider vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and sea salt.  (The recipe calls for water as needed for consistency, but I didn't need any.)

Whizzed it till it was a nice hummus consistency.

Then I cut up some vegetables to dip into it.


This was my lunch.  It was REALLY easy and REALLY good!  If you like pecans, you have to try this.

This is a totally different take on hummus since it doesn't contain garbanzo beans or tahini, and it uses apple cider vinegar instead of lemon juice.  SO GOOD!  

It makes me want to have a party just so I can serve this and see the response.  :)  I think it would also make awesome tea sandwiches on white bread with cream cheese on one side and pecan hummus on the other.

I'm so excited that there's more left in the fridge!

I've posted the recipe at What's Cookin' 4 Miles North of Nowhere.
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Back in the saddle...

Or I guess, more accurately, I'm back behind the wheel.  It's been over two months without a car.

I was campaigning for something along these lines...
photo credit: momentcar.com
...but Carey reminded me that they weren't equipped with air conditioning back then.  Ah well, he will need another truck someday...I'll keep working on him...he likes the heat.  :)


So we got a 2015 Chevy Equinox with less than 17,000 miles on it.  Looks brand new inside and out and still under warranty.  We felt we got it for a good price as well.  

We test drove a different make and model earlier in the week.  It was one that I have admired for the past few years.  It was maxed out with computerized everything and really overwhelmed me.  I got the same feeling I get when my new-fangled HE washer thinks it's smarter than me.  It was quite a bit older, had way more miles on it, and was more than we wanted to pay.  I'm happy that I made a point to give it a try, though, so I won't have to wonder if we shouldn't have gotten one of those.  Happily, I don't have any doubts.

The Equinox is great.  Has the updates I wanted without being 'too' much. 

Now I have to clean out my side of the garage so I can park inside!  Remember WAY back when I had Carey move some things from storage into my garage space so I could go through them?  Yep.  Gotta get on that.

Coincidentally, Jared had to replace his car as well yesterday with a new-to-him version that he is very happy about.  I know he's not going to want to give up his covered spot...not after the hail damage he had to his previous car last spring.  
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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

What I'm reading Wednesday...

Never Too Late by Jo Barney

I picked this one up to fulfill the category of "a book from a genre/subgenre that you've never heard of" for the 2017 Reading Challenge.  

Subgenre: hen lit.  

Have any of you heard of hen lit?  It's like chick lit...but for the older crowd.  To quote one definition I found, "Hen lit books feature women who are a little (and sometimes a lot) older than the average chick lit heroine."  
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Rudolph Day - January 25...


My plan for Rudolph Day this month is to go through the house and make sure that all decorations are packed and put away neatly and organized for next year.  I'll edit in a photo after I'm done, which may not be today as I kind of have a lot on my plate today.

I loved incorporating Rudolph Day into my monthly calendar each month last year, and look forward to doing so again this year.  I have to admit that I still didn't have a perfectly organized Christmas...what with the car accident in mid November...I was in a bit of a Scrooge-y mood and didn't feel like a full-blown Christmas.

Last year I didn't initiate Rudolph Day until June.  This year I am starting in January and hoping that I make even better progress than in 2016.  Following is my recap list of what did get done, and what didn't...and what better headings than naughty and nice?  :)


Naughty:

  • The Christmas tree had minimal decorations. (Rudy was interested in the tree, and I was a little afraid of him pulling off ornaments and eating the hooks...okay...and I was lazy.  Bah-humbug!)
  • I did not hang the snowflakes in the window.
  • I didn't decorate the mantel.
  • I didn't wrap gifts till right before gifting.  (Again blaming Rudy, since I couldn't put anything under tree; but truthfully, I put this off every year.)

Nice:
  • Thanks to September's Rudolph Day last year, I had a good start on our annual letter written and stored in a Word document.  All it needed were final edits and printing.  I didn't mail them until after Christmas, since the cards were more of New Year cards.
  • I had holiday stamps ready to mail the letters.
  • I wrote a personal note at the bottom of each letter.
  • It was a very frugal Christmas, since I had purchased Amazon gift cards with credit card reward points early (good thing since I was without a car to do shopping!) and had enough to gift to each adult and teen.
  • I did erect my book Christmas tree on the dining room table again this year.
  • I got out my antique sled and set it up with some small pine trees atop it.
  • I made a couple of Christmas gifts from supplies on hand.
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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Special price on my favorite book of last year...

The Widow's War by Sally Gunning

In my 2016 highlights post, I listed Sally Gunning's The Widow's War as the best book I read last year.  I see that the Kindle version is on sale for 99¢ at present.  I don't know how long that price will last, so I just wanted to mention it if anyone might be interested.

In 1761 Cape Cod, a happily-married wife loses her husband in a whale hunt.  The inheritance laws drastically alter her life, and she struggles against the family members, laws, and community that steal the home, autonomy, and reputation that she enjoyed before her husband's death.

It was really eye opening for me.  I think I really identified with the main character since her husband (like mine) was away from home for much of their marriage and she dealt with the responsibilities and independence with the blessing of her community.  But when her husband is lost, so is her entire way of life.  I loved how she sought out ways to maintain her autonomy and needled those who sought to make her conform.

This is yet another reason I am happy to be living in the time that I am.
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Friday, January 20, 2017

Frugal Friday File 2017, week 3...


Successes:
1.  No meals out this week.

2.  Researching prices for books.  Library is first choice since it's free; I always check library availability first.  Then I check prices for used books on Amazon.  Third choice would be to go to used book store in the city, but that takes gasoline, so I only go by if I have other errands in the city too, and they are never guaranteed to have a specific title in stock.  Last resort is buying new, and that's only IF I really, really, REALLY am yearning to read it immediately.  Last time that happened was 3 years ago.

3.  Researching price for fabric.  I'm getting ready for quilt retreat coming up.  This morning a friend texted me that she had found a specialty fabric at our favorite online shop, which of course I then wanted too.  I priced it at different online shops.  Prices were similar, but other shops sold out or didn't have as much selection.  And at our favorite shop I had gift cards which I had purchased while they were discounted 20%...so in essence, my new fabric was discounted 20%.

4.  Researching cars and prices online before we start test driving.  As we were discussing different models, Carey had several items that he said he would have to find out about, and I had ready answers for him since I had already compared and read up.  Even so, I'm still not sure where we will start or what we want to end up with.

5.  I got a call yesterday morning from the local branch of the company I work for asking to book me for five work days in April.  I said yes.  Surely I will have transportation by then! 

6.  Sunday, 1/22/17, the postage rates are changing.  A one ounce stamp is going up 2¢, from 47¢ to 49¢.  Last night I purchased four books of forever stamps online, saving $1.60.  Not a fortune, but I do use stamps, and now I know I have enough for the rest of the year at least.  (For international readers: stamps designated as 'forever' stamps have a one ounce postage value even when postal rates change.)  I don't encourage anyone to invest in a lifetime supply of forever stamps, because a) it's doubtful, but postal rates could go down, and then you would have overpaid, b) the postal service could go out of business or change the 'forever' rule, or c) they could be lost, stolen, or destroyed.  But if you have been needing to purchase stamps, and you want to get them before the price increase, you can buy them at usps.com and click on 'buy stamps' on the left.


Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  Crock-pot Honey Garlic Chicken
Sunday:  leftovers
Monday:  Sunday Monday family dinner at Kasey's
Tuesday:  Goulash
Wednesday:  I had a sandwich, Carey had leftovers
Thursday:  Salisbury Steak w/ noodles, veg
Friday:  fried rice?

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)
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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

What I'm reading Wednesday...

The Violets of March: A Novel by Sarah Jio

Just finished this morning.  Meh.  It kept me reading, but it was much 'fluffier' than I usually read.  A recently divorced woman escapes to visit her great aunt on a favorite childhood-summer island.  While there she finds a diary from 1943 and begins reading.  I didn't like that the author resorted to having present-day characters go by different names in 1943 in order to keep the reader guessing.  There were a lot of characters, and many of those were too similarly named (Esther, Elliott, Emily, Evelyn, Evan)...add in the aforementioned name changes...confusing.  Also there were so many coincidences which I always find either lazy or unskilled of the writer.  Aside from the writing, the formatting made it difficult at times to recognize the switch from present day to diary entry making for some confusion and re-reading.

Little Wolves: A Novel by Thomas Maltman

This is next up on my agenda.  Not at all sure how I will get on with it.  I chose this one to fulfill the 'based on mythology' category of my 2017 Reading Challenge.

Both of this week's books were checked out from my library as ebooks.  I've been searching out books that fit the challenge reading prompts, and I am always checking the library website first to see if they are available as either ebooks or hard copies.  I have resorted to buying several used books (hard copies) on Amazon (mostly with a price of 1¢ + $3.99 shipping) when what I'm looking for isn't available through my library and the used price is less expensive than the Kindle price for the same book.
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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken with Broccoli...


This is the Honey Garlic Chicken I made in the slow cooker on Saturday.  Having put the thighs in frozen solid I was shocked that they came out looking browned and glazed.  And they tasted good too!

I found the same recipe in quite a few different websites, so I can't give an original attribute.  And anyway, as usual, I adapted it to what I had on hand and what our preferences are.  My version follows:

Place 4 to 6 chicken thighs in the slow cooker. (I used boneless/skinless, and I put them in frozen.)

Whisk together:
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon of sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Pour this over the frozen thighs, covering them evenly and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours. 

 About 30 minutes before we were ready to eat, I added 2 to 3 cups broccoli florets and stirred them into the sauce.  Then I sprinkled 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds and 1/2 teaspoon dried chives over all, covered, and continued to cook for 30 more minutes while I prepared rice.

The broccoli looks a little overcooked in the photo, but it was actually just done with a little bit of crunch still.  I'll be making this again. 

Also posting at What's Cookin' 4 Miles North of Nowhere.
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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Saturday and snail mail...

Saturday snail mail of the incoming variety!  What a treat to get two cards from two dear friends on the same day.  And while I was writing this post I got an email from another sweet friend I hadn't heard from for awhile!  My day is filled with awesomeness!

Yesterday was a work-around-the-house day.  I swiffered all the hard floors.  I am doing very well with my 2017 goal to swiffer one room daily, though I find it very hard to stop at one.  I mean it's so easy, and why not get more mileage out of the cloth?  Between Rudy's short hair shedding and my long hair shedding, there is always plenty to pick up.  Boy is it nice to walk through the house and not be seized with guilt from spying fuzzy corners!

I also steam cleaned the hallway floor and vacuumed the living room and laundry room rugs.  I bathed Rudy, cleaned his ears, shook out his bedding, and vacuumed his kennel.  I'll trim his nails this evening.  He was too wound up after his bath, and I was too wound down!  I needed a shower and shampoo of my own after all that.

Today I cleaned out the top drawer of my kitchen freezer.  I try to make a big container full of my 'magic' ice at a time, and I've been storing it in the laundry room freezer.  That wasn't very handy, so I wanted to have room in the kitchen freezer to store it.  The top drawer is now sparkling and holding my ice.  In the process I pulled out some long-ago-purchased frozen fruit and used it to make smoothies.  The bottom drawer is still a total disaster, but I'll worry about that tomorrow...or the next day.

I have Honey Garlic Chicken in the slow cooker, and it smells SO good!  

So though it rained overnight, and the skies have been gloomy all day, I am happily keeping busy at home.  And now I think I will go read for awhile.  :)
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Friday, January 13, 2017

Frugal Friday File 2017, week 2...


Successes:
1.  Menu planned and shopped while I had a chauffeur.  Prepped quite a bit for future meals and stored in freezer.

2.  Last weekend we had a hard freeze while Carey was out of town.  Sunday morning the house had just a trickle of water at the taps, so I assumed we had some frozen pipes.  At the end of the day, when we still had no water, I mentioned it to son-in-law.  He had everything up and running in short order and wouldn't accept reimbursement for the part he purchased.  It was a coincidental issue with well's water pump rather than frozen pipes.  No damage to pipes, no bill for repairs.

3.  Weather has warmed, windows open, heat off.

4.  Haven't gotten a haircut, but I'm really wishing it was short again.  Just for fun I Googled how much it would be worth if I sold it...approximately $115.  :)

5.  Still making do with one car.


Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  *pizza
Sunday:  Sunday dinner at Kasey's
Monday:  *Whataburger
Tuesday:  smothered pork chops, rice, green beans
Wednesday:  Mexican Cornbread
Thursday:  beef stew (because you mentioned it Sylvia!)
Friday:  leftovers

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)
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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Beef Stew Redo...


On our Costco run I bought a BIG package of stew meat.  This morning I seasoned, dredged, and seared all of it.  This took quite awhile, as I didn't want to overcrowd the pans...yes, I had two pans going.

I divided the browned stew meat into three batches.   Two went in the freezer for future easy meal starters (yea, me!), one went in the slow cooker for supper.

As I was assembling the vegetables for the stew, I realized the only potatoes I had were the really large baking variety, of which I bought a BUNCH to restock the freezer with twice-baked potatoes.  I decided to leave potatoes out of the stew, so I went ahead and got the stew going with carrots and mushrooms in the slow cooker.  And I washed, oiled, and salted all the potatoes and put them in to bake.

When the potatoes were done, I let them cool for a bit.  Then I cut them in half and scooped out the insides.  I mashed them with butter, sour cream, a little parmesan cheese, some chives, dried onion flakes, salt, pepper, and garlic.  Then I re-stuffed all the potatoes skins with the mash.  Most of these went into the freezer to freeze solid; then they will be taken out and individually vacuum packed tomorrow.  The others I put back in the oven to reheat.  Then I plated them individually and ladled the beef stew over them for supper.  Yum!

So in conclusion:  All of the stew meat has been browned and 2/3 stored in freezer; my freezer's supply of twice-baked potatoes has been restocked; supper was made in a new way and enjoyed; two additional individual servings of the twice-baked potato topped with stew are in the freezer for Carey's work lunches; and there is leftover stew for the weekend.

Whew!  I feel like I was in the kitchen all day long, but at least I have a lot of advance prep work done to show for it.  :)
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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

What I'm reading Wednesday...

Becoming Jane Eyre by Sheila Kohler

Wednesday already?!  Being without internet all weekend, and Carey working the weekend unexpectedly, has completely messed with my inner calendar.  I did, however, get a lot of reading done.  I haven't made much of a start on this one (since the internet and Carey are both back).  

Yesterday we made a Costco run and loaded up on industrial sizes of freezer storage bags, dishwasher detergent, laundry detergent, aluminum foil, etc.  I'm not sure I bought a single food item.  Today we did the regular grocery store shop.  Menu plan is made...the pantry and freezer are both stocked up again...I'm back in business.
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Friday, January 6, 2017

Frugal Friday File 2017, week 1...


Successes:
1.  Eating up leftovers doesn't mean eating the same boring thing over and over till it's gone.  Broccoli was our side vegetable one night; the leftover used to make Broccoli Cheese Soup another.

2.  Three no-spend days this week.  Would have been four, but I spent $1.07 for an ebook.

3.  Internet now out.  No impulse shopping this weekend.  Repairman scheduled for Monday a.m.  Trying to finish this post from phone.

4.  Carey picked up extra shifts.  That also means I have no chauffeur.

5.  It also means there will be no car shopping in imminent future.


Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  broccoli cheese soup
Sunday:  Sunday family dinner at Kasey's
Monday:  enchiladas, mexican rice
Tuesday:  waffles, sausage, eggs
Wednesday:  white bean soup
Thursday:  leftovers
Friday:  Tuna casserole

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)
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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

What I'm reading Wednesday...

Diaries and Journals: Narcissa Whitman

This one has been on my Kindle for ages.  When I saw "a book of letters" prompt on the 2017 Reading Challenge list, I knew this one was going to get read finally.  :)  

Narcissa Whitman and her husband were missionaries to the Washington Territory Indian tribes.  The letters and journal entries were written on their 1836 trip west, and describe scenery, diet, fellow travelers, hardships, etc.  Nearly done.

The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi

This one will be up next.  It is a library ebook, so need to get it read.  Afghan sisters, with a drug-addicted father and no brothers, have little hope and no freedom.  They rely on an ancient custom where one daughter can dress and be treated as a boy until she is of marriageable age, attending school and chaperoning her sisters.  The story is woven between the sisters' lives and that of their great-great grandmother who also relied on this custom to survive after she was orphaned. 
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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Dot, dot, dot...

Santa brought me an echo dot for Christmas.  I am the world's worst at getting things out of their box or bag and getting them set up.  So I put it on my to-do list this week.  Sometimes the promise of scratching through chores with my pink pen upon completion is what it takes to get me moving.

This morning I got it set up without too much trouble except for having to search out a power strip when the only reachable outlet seemed to have only one working plug.  I have been amusing myself all day by walking through the room and asking Alexa to tell me a joke.  :)

   edited to add sample:  A limbo champion walked into a bar.
                                       He was immediately disqualified.

Striking while the iron was hot, I searched out the fire TV stick that has been languishing in its box since it arrived over a year ago...blush...I told you I was the worst about getting things out of their packaging and into use.  My technological mojo is in fine form today, as the fire TV stick is now set up as well.  (In my defense, I procrastinated so on this job, because I had a bit more trouble getting another one set up previously on another television.)

Having two dreaded jobs marked off the to-do list, as well as several loads of laundry done, I am now happily binge watching Dr. Thorne.
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Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year...Goals Recap and 2017 Goals...


Happy New Year!  I wish everyone peace and prosperity and much, much happiness in the coming year.

Last year's goals were pretty simple.

2016 GOALS
Write it down -- continue with weekly listing goals and to-dos...this is the best way of keeping me on track and making progress  
     <SUCCESS!>

Finances -- focus on frugality, weekly blog post for accountability  
      <SUCCESS!>

Home -- reacquaint myself with Flylady routines and continue reducing possessions
     <UNMITIGATED FAILURE>

Quilting -- complete 6 quilts    As far as completing (meaning done and ready to use) it was an unmitigated failure, but I did get some tops completed, so I'm counting it as a...
     <LIMITED SUCCESS>

Water -- drink 42 ounces of water daily (over and above other beverages consumed)
     <SOMEWHAT SUCCESSFUL --MORE WATER, BUT NOT CONSISTENT>

52 Letters in 52 Weeks  <LIMITED SUCCESS - 36 OUT OF 52 DONE>

I did like keeping my goals simple and few, so I will only adjust slightly for 2017.


2017 GOALS
Write it down -- continue with weekly listing goals and to-dos...this is the best way of keeping me on track and making progress  

Finances -- focus on frugality, weekly blog post for accountability (It did keep me thinking about it when I knew I had to blog weekly, so I guess I will keep it up.)

Home -- Swiffer one room daily (My sole focus this year.  I figure the rest will fall in place.)

Reduce possessions -- Sell ten items

Quilting -- complete ten quilts/quilted projects  (because, you know, if you fail at six, try ten next time)

Water -- drink 36 ounces of water daily (over and above other beverages consumed)

52 Letters in 52 Weeks
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