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Friday, December 27, 2013

Life can throw you for a loop or two...or more.

Well, I haven't posted since last February.  Things have really been happening this year.  I finally found a job, which is good since my unemployment didn't have too much left on it.  Trying to figure out sharing a vehicle with my husband, while our hours are offset by 2 hours.  Trying to balance quick fix or take out on a budget for weeknight meals.  Looking for a home to buy and then finding one and getting all the papers finalized and moving in before the school year starts.  Less than a month after you move into that new house having tests show a tumor in your husband's neck.  Going thru the roller coaster of biospy, tumor removal, pathology, cancer diagnoses, treatment that went on over both Thanksgiving and Christmas wrapping up in a couple of weeks from now.  Add in some family issues and this year has been one HOT MESS.  Only throught the grace of God have we made it thru.

So right now I'm declaring that 2014 WILL BE better!

So to start things off right, I will be going over the current budget.  I need to find a way to snowball some debt, save for a second vehicle and find a financially responsible way to work on my college degree.

Stay tuned for details......

Monday, February 11, 2013

Some of Life's Pleasures for Less

I'll admit it......I have a weakness for magazines.  Anytime I'm in the store, the end caps at the check out stand catch my eye and I'm drawn to the shiny covers.  Its not the gossip ones that draw me, its the cooking, holiday ideas, creative storage and how to save money ones that draw me in.   But, I have found a way to curb my spending on magazines. 

I use my Coke Rewards points.  I drink Coke Zero (no one else in the house does, just me).  I catch it on sale for $1 a 2 liter or less.  I also have family members who drink soda and save the points for me as well.

They have a good selection of magazines.  The points range goes from as little as 133 for Better Homes and Garden to as high as 400 for Martha Stewart Living.  That's 44 caps to 134 caps.   I was really happy to find they offer the All You magazine.  I would sometimes buy it in the store if the coupons inside of it was worth the cost of the issue.  This way its even more savings! 

I'm sure there are other points programs out there that have freebies with magazine subscriptions.  I also use MyPoints.  It can generate ALOT of emails for you and it takes ALOT of points to get anything.  I usually get a reward on that site maybe twice a year and I save that for dining out gift cards.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Breakfast for Less

Breakfast Sandwich

Bagels in my area run about $2.99 for a package of six.  I just bought a package at Sam's for $2.68.  Eggs were just on sale for .99 a dozen.  Bacon runs about 3.99 per lb.  Cheese singles 1.99 for 16ct. 

Bagel - .45
Egg - .09
Cheese - .12
Bacon - .25

Total cost of a bagel breakfast sandwich $.91.   You cant even get a sausage biscuit at McDonald's for that!

You will need bread (either bagel, english muffin or regular bread), an egg, a slice of cheese (if you like) and some leftover meat (here I've used bacon, but sausage, ham or any lunch meat is good).

The bread takes the longest to cook so put that down in your toaster.  Then cook the egg, you need to select a dish that is about the same size as your bread.  Spray the dish with oil.  Crack the egg into the dish and scramble with a fork.

I have a 1100 watt microwave so the egg cooks in about 35-40 seconds.  In a 900 watt, you may need to up the time to about 1 minute.

Put your cheese slice on top of the egg.  Heat your meat in the microwave, one piece of bacon reheats in about 15 seconds (in my 1100 watt).  Place the meat on top of the cheese.  When the bread is done, I like to spread just a touch of butter on the bread.  Then slide the egg, cheese and meat onto the bread. 

There are unlimited combinations to this sandwich.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Canning and More Creative Storage

My Mom called Friday afternoon and said "Chicken's on sale at Krogers, are you ready to can?".    We've been waiting for whole fryers to go on sale so we could try canning meat.    So early Saturday morning, I head up to her house with two stops at Krogers to pick up some chickens. 

First let me say that this is not instructions on how to can chicken.  Mom and I followed her canning book instructions to the letter.  I recommend Ball's Complete Canning book, as new a version as you can get your hands on. 

Upon arrival at Mom's, she already had her chickens cut up, so I started cutting up mine.  We both cut off the leg quarters, wings and breasts.  Mom had previously worked at a chicken processing plant and has a great  way to cut off the breast meat with very little hassle.  I promise to take pictures next time we do it so I can post the technique.  We packed the drumsticks, thighs, wings and breasts raw into jars.  Giblets (liver, kidney, etc...) were placed in freezer bags for later use. 

The carcass's were placed in stock pots with celery, carrot and onion.  The raw packed pieces, we added salt and pressured cooked according to the directions.  After the stock finished cooking, we strained the stock off and then picked out the bones and vegetables from the meat.  Mom wanted to put her meat, from the stock, canned with her stock.  I just wanted plain stock canned, so I put my meat in freezer bags (I got 2 quart size bags 2/3 full).  Stock and cooked chicken took alot less time in the pressure cooker.

Mom started with 5 whole chickens.  She got 5 quarts (2 drumsticks, 2 thighs, and 2 wings in each), 6 pints (boneless breast meat in each), and almost 6 quarts with stock and meat (about 1/3 meat) in them.

I started with 6 whole chickens.  I got 8 quarts (most had 1 drumstick, 1 thigh, 1 wing and half a breast, basically almost half a chicken), 6 pints of breast meat, 6 pints of stock and 1 quart of stock.

More Creative Storage.......

I am used to having a pantry.  In my last house I converted a closet in the downstairs bedroom, which luckily was just off of the kitchen and we used the bedroom part of it as a computer room/office.  That closet was only half the size of the pantry in the house before that one.  Now I'm in a small one bedroom apartment and the kitchen doesn't have enough cabinet space for my dishes and pots and pans.  We are hoping to only be here about 6 months and then buy a house to move into.  After figuring the price of using a laundry mat verses buying used appliances.  Our decision was to not buy and use the laundry closet for a pantry.

You see the wooden shelves?  Those are from my old pantry.  Those two pieces go together to make a tall shelf.  I have two more tall shelves just like it in storage.  But that built in shelf that goes all the way across prevented me from using them.  I split that one and it works great.  The wire baskets that stack, in the past they were on the top shelves of the wooden ones.

The plastic shelves in the bottom along the sides, I found at Walmart for 14.95 each.  They work perfect for the space and was in my budget range.

This arrangement works well for trash can placement.  There is no room in kitchen for the trash can, but I can push it in front of the bottom wood shelves and I can close the doors with the trash can inside.

Also, the little basket hanging from the painted shelf was given to me for free!

Now I have lots of room for food storage!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Creative Storage in a Small Apartment

We just recently moved into a one bedroom apartment.  For a one bedroom, its larger than most I think.  At 720sf, its the only one we found (in our price range) that would hold our king size bed.  Our bedroom furniture set is quite large and definitely not meant for apartment use.  Besides the bed, there is a dresser (seen above), a chest of drawers and two night stands.  Its very lovely I think and my husband likes that it was made with electronics in mind.  The dresser seen above not only has the "see thru" top drawer for electronic components (dvr, blueray player),  it also has a plugin strip inside that drawer and an ipod dock on the top surface.  Since we didn't own a tv stand (previous tv was mounted on the wall and stayed with the house we sold) and the dresser will NOT fit in the apartment bedroom, we decided to use it as our tv stand.

Not only did the dvr fit nicely into the top drawer, but the second and third drawer are being used for dvd/blueray storage.  We currently have over 400 movies, so they would not all fit.  After looking on the internet and in local stores, we decided that the dvd storage bags from Lakeside Collection was the most frugal and would suit our needs. 

As you can see they fit nicely under the bed.  The dvd bags hold around 40 movies and there is also cd bags that hold 50.  You get 2 bags in each set for less than $6.00 plus shipping. 

Extra note, we were starting to buy duplicates every so often.  After looking online for inventory software, we found an app for the iphone that lets you scan the barcode on the movie, book, game or music and keeps an inventory of it.  There is also a wishlist and borrowed feature on it.  It lets you assign different genre's and also assigns a dollar value.  Its called Home Library.   It only costs $1.99 and we have loved it so far.  Now before we buy a movie, we pull out our phone and check to see if we already have it.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Moving Back Home

Well, the economy strikes again.  You can see I haven't posted in awhile.  Life got busy and then utter chaos.  My husband lost his job due to consolidation.  Since we were living halfway across the country from pretty much ALL our relatives ( system), we discussed the opportunity to move back.  All signs pointed to it being a good time to do so.  His job ended the later part of June, less than a week later, husband, son and all of our stuff was in a moving truck heading back here to Arkansas.  I stayed behind in Washington until our house sold, which was finalized at the end of July.  Luckily, we had a great realtor and our house sold quickly.  We owed about what it was worth, but had to borrow the money from relatives to pay for closing.  I hated to be in debt further, but it was better to be done with it and not trying to manage a rent house from that far away.

My husband found a new job, so that allowed me to quit my job in Washington and get myself back home.  Luckily, I was approved for unemployment since my husband is the major bread winner of the family and his job change allowed for an acceptable reason to quit and move. 

Next problem, hubby's new job cause strain on his back (which already gave him fits), so then back surgery.  Luckily his new job had GREAT insurance and short term disability.  He's recovering fine and not too far from going back to work, at least on light duty.  Thank goodness for relatives (support system) to stay with while recovering.

Since hubby will be going back to work shortly, we are moving into an apartment next week to be closer to his job.  Gas prices are abit better, but still pretty high at $3.00 a gallon.  So look for new postings from me.  I will posting about frugally living in an apartment.  How frugal will I get?  That will depend on when and if I find a job!  LOL

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Winter Dreams of Spring

Winter time is the perfect time for dreams of spring.  Purusing the seed catalogs and sketching out plans for when the weather warms up.   Curled up in the recliner or snuggled up in bed with visions of the new improved garden  bed or deciding would a plum tree or a cherry be better right there?  Which variety of tomatoes do I want to try this year?  Most seed books are free, just request them on their web site and then  wait for them to come in the mail.  You could look at their items on line, but thats just not as nice as sitting in the recliner with a nice cozy  afghan and some hot herbal tea. 

Some of my personal plans are to:

1) Upgrand the bed in my backyard.  It is currently just a bed without a border of any kind.  Lots of mulch around 4 trees.  I pulled back some mulch and planted a few tomatoes and peppers last year and some herbs around the trees.  This year I want to make a border out of some old lumber and make it about 6 inches deeper, keeping some open area for veggies and planting more herbs around the trees and in the back.
2)  I would like to also create some raised beds out of that lumber around the sides of my yard, inbetween  the sprinkler head placements.  All of these  would be for seasonal plantings. 
3)  I have some blueberry bushes along one side of the house that need some attention this spring. 
4)  We live in the first house of a subdivision, so one side of our back yard borders the road.  There is a mulched area between the road and our fence that used to have some flowering trees.  The two that were outside of our fence line have died and I'm thinking about replacing them with cherry trees.  The will have nice flowers in the spring like the other trees that didn't die and then fruit for me afterward.  The road isn't too busy so I think that should be fine.