Being frugal (maybe this will be the theme for this entire post-- who knows where my mind will wander....)
We've been using up and making due and watching the bills. You might remember we purchased an infrared heater on Black Friday. I was eager to see what our electric bill would be the next month. ERG-- Up about $40. We had some mightly cold temps in December, and we were both home during the long, dark, cold evenings (the field work was done), and we had the Christmas lights on, as well as the extra cooking & baking I did, which means more dish-washing. I worked more days at the magazine, which meant more laundry. I have not compared our propane usage for the last several months, but I do know that last winter, I was constantly fiddling with the thermostat. Now I leave it on 58 at night & when we leave and on 62-64 when we are home. Last year I had to have it at least 66 and usually 68. I'm hoping those 4 degrees cooler, helped.
We had our married son & family here as you know. With guests comes more meals. And since this was our family Christmas celebration, we had some goodies too. I tried to plan ahead and get most of those when things were on sale in December. But then you have Pappo, who loses all reasoning when it comes to his girlies. lol Pudding cups and boxed mac & cheese and other items we do not normally buy, found their way into our cart. (Fresh Strawberries in January?!!! Oh Help Me~~~) Now things are back to "normal" and those splurges are still hanging on, in the pantry, the fridge, (my hips!). Slowly I've incorporated most of them into our meals. Leftover strawberries will go into smoothies or oatmeal breakfasts. The pudding will go into Farmer-dear's lunches. DS2 will take the Mac & Cheese. The soda will last and be offered to guests. The tortilla chips have been used in our meals and DS2 will take the potato chips. The store bread will be used for French Toast or crumbs. I like Breakfast Casserole but Farmer-dear does not. 2 chicken breasts (cooked) will be made into Chicken Salad or Chicken Tacos this weekend.
A few things still remain and I'm looking for answers. What do you do with left-over French Onion Dip and French Vanilla Creamer? (besides the obvious, of course)
Since the pantry, fridge and freezers are full, the only shopping I've had to do has been for Super Bowl goodies. (Because I love my Farmer and he deserves to enjoy that day.) I made Rotel-Cheese Dip with our ground beef; fresh Pico de Gallo (Pioneer Woman's recipe) and Guacamole (again from PW) for me. The last of the Rotel dip was eaten for lunches today. The last few Tablespoons of the Pico will have to be tossed today. Unless I can salvage it in .... OH WAIT!! Brain Storm Here!! Chicken Enchilada Soup!!! (Thank you Lord.)
Other buys have been local store sales: Butter; refrigerator biscuits (I hate them but they were 33¢ and F-d likes them.); frozen Mashed Potato Boats (again for F-d's lunches); bagged salad since that is what we've been eating for suppers (Salads); bananas (38¢!) and fresh pears.
Also, this may not sound much like being frugal, but I saved $40 on a recent on-line purchase. These particular site lets you use multiple coupon codes, so I got $15 off the total, another $10 off and a free $5 item and I had a $10 customer rebate card. I like the quality and fit from this company, so it is worth my time & money to wait for a good sale and buy more then. I won't need to do this again for 6 months.
Two of my pleasures are reading and music. I very rarely buy books full-price at a book store, unless it's for a gift. Most of my books come from the public library or thrift stores/garage sales. But this past year I found Paperback Swap (www.paperbackswap.com). By listing books you are willing to part with (books in good condition), you earn credits when someone "buys" them. You do have to pay the media mail shipping to your "buyer" but you get books back for free. I've gotten at least 6 - 10 so far. And I can always relist any I don't want to keep.
Sister sites are CDSwap & DVDSwap.
As for music, I don't have an iPod, nor do I want one. My radio in the truck works just fine. I have 2 stereos here in the house; music channels on the satellite; iTunes on my Mac; many CDs and tapes. But occasionally I want to listen to a song that I don't have on CD, when I want to. I found Playlist.com (you'll find my current favorite Playlist at the bottom of my site). I have 8 playlists right now. Christian, Worship, Country, Instrumental, Christmas, etc.... And it's FREE! Not every song I've wanted has been available but most of them have been.
I have some bdays coming up in the next few weeks. I can't disclose what I'm doing for 3 of them, but I'm planning on being VERY frugal and using my time and talents. (I'll tell you all about it later.) I'll be watching for sales for the other ones.
Also I have a ministry idea brewing....or would that be, baking. :o) I love to bake bread & rolls. But goodness knows my rear does NOT need to eat them. And Farmer-dear & Ds2 can & will only eat so much. But I have a whole list of friends who maybe would like some home-baked yumminess. I have some apple butter in the freezer now and more apples, strawberries, peaches, rhubarb in the freezer too. As the new crops come in this year, I'll be using last year's in jams to include in with my baked gifts. I'm excited about this one. I have a "no-knead bread" recipe I want to try this weekend. And I am going to gift it to.....
(what? You thought I was going to tell! Local friends read my blog too. LOL)
We have our Income Tax appointment tomorrow. I'm as ready as I can be. Farmer-dear needs to look it over this evening. It's always interesting to see how we come out at the CPA's office.
After that (and probably this evening), I have to finish out our Medical Flex Fund reports. We have until the end of February to use up the funds we have taken out of F-d's paycheck. I've been lax in sending in those filings this year. (Shame on me!)
The other money project I want to get started again, is to start saving our change and loose dollar bills again. I'd like to try and have a Cash Christmas this year. Or use it as the start of our Living Room renovation fund. That project is set for 2010. This year's projects of the 40s Back Porch and the Girlies Guest Room will just need paint and curtains. I plan to go to thrift stores and antique shops for the accessories.
And now it's time to switch out the laundry and dishes and get freshened up for my Farmer-dear's homing.
Have a wonderful weekend everyone!
** "A hundred men may make an encampment, but it takes a woman to make a home."
-- Chinese proverb