Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016, the highlights...

I was going to rerun the format I used last year for the year-end review, but man were my first posts of each month boring!  So I'm going straight to the year's highlights.

✫  RUDY:  Nuff said.

✫  HOSTING:  The other Kathleen came for a whole week!

✫  COOKING:  Between eating more of our meals at home for frugality, and preparing desserts for Sunday family dinners, I did a lot of cooking this year.  

✫  QUILTING:  Even though they are not quilted and bound, I did get four quilt tops assembled this year (three of which I'm still thinking about adding borders to).  

My 2016 goal was to get six completely finished this year.  Yeah, that didn't happen.

✫  WRITING:  I got my name (and article and photographs) in print and was paid for it!

✫  BLOGGING:  I posted 192 blog posts.

✫  READING:  I read 33 books this year; down from 37 last year.

The best book I read this year was...The Widow's War by Sally Gunning.

I gave up on so many books this year.  Some I was really enjoying, but just couldn't concentrate on reading long enough to finish, but I may give them another try in the future.  Some were just too bad to waste time on.  I can't pick a worst.

And that's another year completed.  It was a pretty good one; glad I was here for it.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Frugal Friday file, week 52...

It has been a full year of Frugal Friday File posts!  I'm still debating whether or not to continue these posts into the new year.  I will definitely be continuing a focus on frugality in my daily life.  If you have an opinion on whether you want to see the Frugal Friday File posts or not, please leave a comment below.

1.  Low-spend holiday. Partly because without a car I didn't get out to shop; partly because the specter of having to buy a new vehicle kept me from wanting to shop.  Adults and teens got some of the $50 Amazon gift cards purchased with credit card reward points, wrapped with small gifts of candy or handmade item.  Tweens got gifts purchased well before holidays.   Zero charged, so no bills looming.

2.  Annual property taxes have been paid in full without dipping into savings.  Carey picked up a few extra workdays which helped.

3.  I noticed that our monthly cable/phone/internet bill went up by $13+.  I called our rural telephone cooperative to renegotiate price.  They offered me $10 off per month.  I held out, and they offered to lower the bill by $15 per slightly lower than we have been paying for the past year.

4.  Continued mild weather should make for another low electric bill.

5.  Cooking from pantry and fridge; cooking once to eat twice by putting extra dinner in freezer; also freezing individual servings of leftovers for hubs to take to work.

Keep Tryings:
1.  We finally got confirmation that our car was deemed a total loss.  We have taken care of required signatures and received and deposited check.  Now we begin the hunt for a replacement which I just can't psych myself up for.  :(

2.  I've had to turn down several days of work due to not having transportation.

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  roasted chicken, diy rice-a-roni, broccoli
Sunday:  Chicken Pot Pie for lunch, sandwiches for supper
Monday:  family Christmas dinner at Kasey's (shrimp gumbo)
Tuesday:  Salisbury steak, noodles & gravy, corn
Wednesday:  roast, dumplings/gravy, green beans
Thursday:  leftovers
Friday:  chili

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)

Thursday, December 29, 2016

2017 Reading Challenge...

photo of a previous year's reading challenge selections

I feel like I've been in a bit of a reading slump for the past year or two.  A lot of people I know feel the same way.  After reading my friend, Frugal Trenches, blog post about her planned reading challenge for herself and her children for next year, I realized that my reading went into a slump after I quit setting challenge goals for myself.

So I went in search of challenges on the Web for the coming year, and the one that matched my mood the best was the 2017 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge.  The categories were varied and included topics and/or genres that either interest me or will make me stretch.  And they have a great printable challenge list with boxes to check off your progress.  I'm all about lists with little check-off boxes!  :)

The challenge has 40 book prompts, and an 'advanced' section with 12 additional prompts for overachievers.  :)

You can see the list and follow my progress by clicking on '2017 Reading Challenge' page link under this blog's title photo above.  As I finish a book next year, I will check off the box of the book prompt that it fulfills and add it's title underneath.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

What I'm reading Wednesday...

Mercer Girls by Libbie Hawker

When the American Civil War ended cotton shipments to the north, the mill town of Lowell, Massachusetts suffered lost jobs and lost fortunes.  When A. S. Mercer, a Seattle resident, came east to recruit women to travel west to Seattle, where men outnumbered women ten to one, a few plucky Lowell women took the risk.  This book was inspired by actual events, on which the late '60s television show Here Come The Brides was also based.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas to all...

I was looking on my computer for a photo to put on this post, and for some reason I noticed the similarity between these two photos.  The one on the left is of Carey who was born in August of '53.  The photo on the right is of Jared, who was born in July of '83.  So these were their second Christmases, and they both got bouncy horses.  

Both of these photos had been scanned and were in the same computer folder, but I had never noticed before that they were so similar...maybe because there was an older sibling and Christmas tree in the photo of Carey that I cropped out tonight, and I converted Jared's photo to black and white, and I added the years to both.  :)  But really, the same age and the same gift!

I don't know about Carey, but Jared rode thousands of miles on his horse.  He absolutely loved it.

I hope that each of you has a wonderful Christmas that brings you much joy.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Frugal Friday File, week 51...

1.  The other Kathleen and I each paid our own way most of the time, but she insisted on picking up the tab for lunch twice.

2.  We exchanged gifts (past birthdays that had never gotten mailed and Christmas) while she was here which saved  us both postage.  My gifts were unbreakable and rather flat, so they fit in her luggage going home.

3.  I made a quick Christmas gift with supplies on hand and with love to go home with her that I hope will warm the heart and hands of her precious daughter.

4.  I returned the rental car on time (and with no blemishes) so my deposit was returned.  I had also received an upgrade from a mid-size car to a minivan at no extra charge.

5. It seems like we splurged a lot this week, what with meals out and movies, but still it wasn't really very bad.  Breakfast tacos are less than $2 each.  When we did eat lunch out, it was usually a late lunch so we could skip or have a light dinner at home.  We drank water instead of more costly beverages.  Movies were always the matinee which are discounted.

Mostly we entertained ourselves just visiting and doing things at home.  She wanted to learn to make crocheted dish scrubbies from net.  She had brought the net with her, and I cut it into strips with my rotary cutter and mat...a job that took me 13 minutes (we timed it) and an acquaintance in her hometown had quoted her a price of $40(!) to cut for her.  We found youtube video tutorials that refreshed her crochet skills.

We talked a lot about things like frugality and retirement savings and planning for the future.  Always nice to bounce ideas off of a friend.

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  *sushi
Sunday:  Sunday family dinner at Kasey's
Monday:  *Whataburger
Tuesday:  skipped dinner after *lunch out
Wednesday:  meatloaf, twice-baked potatoes, corn
Thursday:  hot dogs
Friday:  pork chops, baked sweet potatoes, spaghetti squash

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A quick catch up...

In the last week:

We went to see two movies:  Arrival and Office Christmas Party.

We ate breakfast tacos four mornings out of six.  (It's one of the things the other Kathleen misses about Texas.)
photo credit:  the other kathleen

I thoroughly enjoyed the rented minivan.

I bought one Christmas gift and made two.

Rudy drove me nuts.  His excitement at having a houseguest was uncontrollable.

I read only one chapter of my current book.

We shopped at Dollar Tree, an historic downtown, James Avery Jewelry, Amazon, ebay...  (And when I say 'we,' I mean mostly the other Kathleen.  I'm frugal, but I'm an enabler.)

I received a wonderful gift of homemade fig preserves in the mail one day!!!  Yikes, I just realized I didn't serve any fig preserves to my houseguest who loves them too. 

I drove the other Kathleen to a wedding, and while she attended said wedding, I scoped out Goodwill stores that are out of my usual traffic path.

We finally received confirmation that my car is considered a total loss.  :(

I did zero loads of laundry.

I did a grocery shop before I returned the rental car.

I took a nap.


Friday, December 16, 2016

Frugal Friday File, week 50...

1.  Cleaned my self-cleaning oven with baking soda and vinegar and elbow grease.  It worked really well.  I did have to resort to using a metal spatula to chip away at a large spill that had carbonized.  Glad it's done!  It has a self-cleaning function, but I've read that the high temperatures have been known to blow fuses and/or control panels.  Didn't want to risk that during the holidays.  

2.  Trimmed my own bangs.

3.  One of the hub's coworkers asked if anyone would be willing to cover three of his shifts in the week before Christmas (not Christmas Eve or Christmas Day).  The hubs said he would work two of the three because this guy has little kids and we don't, and we DO have a large property tax bill to pay at the end of the year, as well as a little thing like figuring out what we are going to do about my car.  😖

4.  Continuing to freeze individual portions of leftovers for hubs' work meals.

5.  💗 = visiting guests who insist on going Dutch on everything.

Keep Tryings:  Definitely some meals out this week, as well as movies and popcorn at the theater.

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  *Tex-Mex
Sunday:  Sunday family dinner at Kasey's
Monday:  Sausage/Rice skillett
Tuesday:  *Whataburgers
Wednesday:  *Panang Curry with Duck
Thursday:  Homemade Turkey Pot Pie
Friday:  Frito Pie

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

What I'm reading Wednesday...

City of Hope by Kate Kerrigan

I had just finished a Kindle book and needed to grab something quickly to take with me to the airport to entertain myself while waiting for the other Kathleen's plane to arrive this afternoon.  I picked this one up from a bureau top where it had been gathering dust.  It is the second of a trilogy.  I liked the first one, and hope this one is good, though I'm not sure how much time I'll have for reading this week.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Frugal Friday File, week 49...

1.  Have been making do without a car for three weeks now.  Not too fun since we live in a semi-rural area and Carey has been working out of town for two of the three weeks.  Rental car is not covered under our insurance policy, so managing without for now.  I restocked the pantry and fridge while Carey was home, so it's not been too bad.  The kids run my errands, and a friend picked me up for quilting, both of which I'm very grateful for.  Luckily I like hanging out at home with Rudy.  Gasoline bill should be quite low this month.

2.  The other Kathleen is coming to see me next week!  I'm so happy!  I booked a rental car for the week she's here so that we can do some running around.  I used a discount through an organization membership perk and saved 5%.

3.  Thermostat is set on 62͒ F, which sounds low, but it's not uncomfortable when I'm wearing my favorite sweatshirt cardigan.  Carey will undoubtedly turn it up when he gets home.

4.  I made the last payment on Carey's truck.  I hate his truck.  It is unnecessarily loud and huge and hard to get into, and it has frequent issues and is a constant source of irritation for me.  But it is paid off!

5.  I remembered to cancel Kindle Unlimited before my free trial ended so didn't incur any charge.

Keep Tryings:  I had to turn down another day of work due to being car-less.  We haven't gotten a definitive answer yet, but it's looking like it is going to be considered a total loss.

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  Frito pie
Sunday:  Sunday dinner at Kasey's
Monday:  grazed the fridge contents
Tuesday:  Turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans
Wednesday:  Tortilla Soup
Thursday:  Haluski with Sausage
Friday:  Turkey Tetrazzini

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

What I'm reading Wednesday...

Hiding the Past: A Genealogical Crime Mystery
by Nathan Dylan Goodwin

This is one I'm reading on Kindle Unlimited...which I have to cancel by tomorrow, because really, I don't think it is worth it for me.  I didn't see enough books that compelled me to read them to warrant $10 a month...mostly books and authors I've never heard of, which isn't to say they are bad, but they aren't on my loooooong reading list, so I will do better with the library.

But this book is pretty good, so I need to finish it before my trial period is over.  :)

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Apple Brown Betty...

"She could peel an apple in one long curly strip."  That's the quote I always think of when I'm peeling apples.

Unfortunately, I only ever get about this far before it breaks.

Usually I quarter the apple, then cut the core from each quarter, then peel the quarter.  I find it easier, and it doesn't give me an inferiority complex because I can't do it all in one strip.

Today I made Apple Brown Betty for Sunday dinner dessert.  I remember my mother making Apple Brown Betty when I was a kid.  It was one of the very few things that she made from a store-bought mix instead of from scratch.  

I used Pioneer Woman's recipe for the most part, but I played fast and loose with ingredients and amounts as I wanted to double it to feed a crowd and to use up a bag of apples that has been taking up space in my fridge without being eaten and a loaf of homemade cinnamon bread that had been hiding in my freezer for about a year.

I peeled and sliced about ten smallish Gala apples very thinly.  I cut the cinnamon bread into thin slices, and then cut those slices into small cubes.  Got out my bag of dark brown sugar and two sticks of salted butter.  I used about a tablespoon of the butter and rubbed it into the baking pan with the wrapper to cover generously.

I sprinkled about 3/4 c of loose brown sugar (not packed) over the bottom of the pan.  Then I spread about 1/3 of the apple slices over that.  Then I spread about 1/3 of the cubed cinnamon bread over the apples.  Then I repeated those layers twice more (3 layers of each total) ending with the cubed bread on top.

Then I cut the butter into very thin pats and place them side by side over the bread cubes to cover completely.

This is easier when using very cold butter and a very thin bladed paring knife.  Today my favorite paring knife for this job was in the dishwasher, so I used a not-so-favorite one and pouted to myself the entire time.

I used two 1/2 cup sticks of butter for this job.  I used about a tablespoon to grease the pan, and ended up with another tablespoon left over at the end.

Sprinkle a little more brown sugar over the top of the buttered top, and then sprinkle about six tablespoons of water over the top of the whole thing.  I covered the pan with foil and baked it at 375͒ F for 45 minutes.  Then I uncovered it and let it bake about 5 or 10 more minutes.

I forgot to take a photo till after it had been tucked into.  We served it warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and it was a hit with the troops.  I thought it was just a tad too sweet, in the way of desserts that don't have a smidge of salt added to the recipe, if you know what I mean.  It was a nice warm dessert for an autumn day, and it made the house smell lovely.

Now, if you are the first to tell me what movie the opening quote of this post came from, I will send you a Christmas ornament.  :)

Saturday, December 3, 2016

A little project finally finished...

I mentioned in yesterday's Frugal Friday File that I was recycling some linen from an old pair of wide-leg slacks to make an embroidery piece.  I used only supplies I had on hand, and I started and almost finished it while I was binge watching Season 2 of Outlander that I had checked out from the library.  I finished the last little bit this morning, and I wanted to show it off.

I used to love the blog, Chez Larsson.  The blog author stopped blogging at the end of 2013, and I miss it.  She once showed a print that hung in her laundry room. It was a rather modern image of clothes hanging on a line, and it said "Mrs Larsson launders here."  I have never forgotten that and often thought of doing something similar.  Of course Carey would laugh if I had the nerve to put something that said, 'Mrs. St       launders here' in our laundry room, as he does as much of our laundry as I do.  :)

I found the frame at Goodwill about a year ago, and thought it was a great shape to hold a clothes line image.  I wanted to do something really primitive and simple.  I Googled 'primitive laundry embroidery' images, and found a crewel piece that looked to be circa 1970.  It had a great quote and really sparked my imagination.  I won't show it, as I couldn't find the original attribution.

I drew a simple pattern with pencil and paper.  When I got it how I wanted it, I traced it with a Sharpie.  I laid the fabric over the pattern and was able to see it pretty well, so I used a Pilot FriXion pen to draw/trace it onto the fabric. 
 FriXion's ink disappears when you apply heat, so it worked great.  All the pattern marks disappeared when I ironed it before framing.

Here's a closer look that shows just how primitive the stitching is.  I added the quote in small letters as if it were the 2nd clothesline.  It says, "If all of our troubles were hung on a line,

"you would take yours, and I would take mine."  Isn't that true?  I wouldn't want to trade my troubles for anyone else's.

Here it is hanging again.  I could do a better job framing, and I may someday, but for now done is better than perfect.  And I'm very happy with it.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Frugal Friday File, week 48...

1.  I have not spent 1¢ at Sonic since my ice machine has been put in use.  I LOVE my Opal Nugget Ice Maker!

2.  I made a menu plan, and did a big grocery shop to restock the pantry and freezer before Carey left for working out of town.  Stuck to my shopping list.

3.  Kasey has been on a business trip and needed some help picking up and delivering kids while she was gone.  But, of course, I have no car at the moment, so she delivered her car to my house before leaving town.  Though she said to use it for whatever I wanted, I didn't really have anything I needed to do in the outside world.  

4.  I'm using some recycled linen (from a pair of wide-leg slacks) to make a primitive embroidery piece for my laundry room.

5.  Paper towel consumption WAY down since Rudy is having fewer accidents in the house these days.

Keep Tryings:
I had to turn down a day of work due to the car situation.

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  King Ranch Casserole
Sunday:  Sunday dinner at Kasey's
Monday:  Twice-baked potatoes with barbecued brisket
Tuesday:  leftovers
Wednesday:  ground beef patties, potatoes, broccoli
Thursday:  *pizza
Friday:  leftovers

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)
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