Friday, November 29, 2013

Winter Work in the Home!

Now that the cold weather is officially here I am spending time on indoor projects. The summer garden kept me hopping between weed pulling and preserving our harvest. There is a fall crop in but it won't entail preserving for quite a few months. So, now is the time to work on projects inside my house.

I first have to complete a few sewing projects for Christmas. Once those are finished I hope to finish two quilt tops. I have everything I need except possibly some batting for one. I've been dragging these tops around for quite a few years. My home is small and they are taking up space not to mention the fact that they are hanging over my head! I need these monkey's off my back! :-)

I also hope to go through several drawers full of pants that need to be taken in. They need to be tried on and then tailored to fit. If I don't get them altered this winter then they will be given away. I have a new potholder pattern I've also been wanting to try for several years. If I happen to finish these projects (one can always hope) then I'd LOVE to go through my closets and throw out what I haven't used this past year.

I've never lived in a home this small before except when my husband became disabled and we lived in a studio cottage as caregivers and a studio barn. Both were less than 300 sq. ft. We kept most of our belongings in storage. Our little cottage is 745 sq. ft. and everything I own is stored within it's walls and the garage. There is no room for excess.

I find clutter bothers me the older I get. I really enjoy tidiness but I rarely reach the goal that my heart hungers for! Yet, I keep trying! It's almost like the clutter is a living entity that would love to take over my house if it's not tamed!

It was kind of a slow week here on the frugal home front. Lots of  life going on and as a result there is not always time for my part time job of saving money.  Here are a few things I did write down:

1.  We had our family Thanksgiving on Sunday since my children and their families were going out of town. I saved the turkey carcass bones. The next morning I threw them in a huge stock pot and simmered them for 4 hours.  I took out the bones and then added thyme, salt and pepper along with celery, onion, and very few potatoes since we're low carbing. I normally would have added some chicken bouillon cubes but the flavor was just right.

2. Hubby made a comment about being tired of chicken and hamburger.  So, I've been keeping my eyes out for some good deals. I found pork loin roast on sale for $1.69 a pound. I checked the marked down section of the meat department and this time I hit the jackpot. They had New York steaks marked down. I bought 2 small steak for $3 each. This is over my meat budget for each meal with is $2 or less. But, I like to make my husband happy so it was worth it. I'll cut back somewhere else.

3. A dear friend brought me some sweet Pink Lady apples. I hope to peel and slice them for a low carb apple pie (if I don't eat them first!). Thanks Pam! :-)

4. My husband loves bacon but BOY is it expensive! So, what I do is cut the package into 1/4's  and use just a small portion per breakfast. I put the remainder in the freezer. This way we can have a little treat of bacon once a week. I do the same thing with maple sausage that I find at the dollar store except I divide it in half. Sometimes I'll crumble it and use it in an omelet.

5.  The same friend who brought me apples also brought me a bag of clothes she no longer wanted. I found quite a few blouses for next summer and passed the rest onto someone else in need.

6.  I tried a new salad dressing (Balsamic Orange Vinaigrette) to use with the swiss chard in my garden. I also picked a few strawberries to add! (can you believe I still have strawberries growing?). I don't want to break a copyright for the recipe I used but if you do a search you'll find a large selection of this recipe. Store bought dressings are so expensive. I always have oil and vinegar in my pantry to make homemade dressings.

Enjoying some time with my grandson!

7. I have quite a few food allergies that cause joint pain. Dairy is one of them. I heard that some people can tolerate Ghee even if they can't tolerate butter. It's very expensive to buy. I tried making some  this week and it turned out so yummy! I put 4 stick of butter in a crockpot on low until it formed a crust on the top. I scraped off the crust and the yumminess below was saved in a small 1/2 pint jar. Hopefully it won't cause joint pain. I saved the butter crust  for my husband to use.

8.  I started my winter soup container again. I let this practice go during the summer but now I'm trying to keep a pot of soup in the fridge for winter lunches. I'm placing bits of leftover veggies and meat in the container to use for leftover soup.

9.  What I didn't throw away this week:
  • Bread wrapper (re-use as a baggie)
  • Bread roll wrapper from Thanksgiving dinner (re-use as a baggie)
  • Aluminum cans from green beans (recycle for money)
  • Rinse water from washing machine (Holding it in the garbage can to use later on flowers when the ground dries out.)
  • Appointment reminder that was blank on the back side. Cut in 1/4's and used for scrap paper. 
  • Rubber bands from radishes
10.  I'm paying closer attention to serving sizes on recipes and packages. This practice helps stretch my grocery budget and not my pants. :-) I also bought radishes and celery  for snacking in between meals. They fill me up and are inexpensive.

What is going on in your home this week? I've learned so much from you ladies!


  1. In our home this week my husband and I enjoyed my brother and sister-in-law's visit. That sister-in- law and I shopped for Christmas presents and got some bargains at Macy's. The left-over food from Thanksgiving will help next week's food budget. I have two quilts to make for gifts and am working on one today. It is a round table cloth that my friend needs in a week for her Christmas tea. She has a plan B, but I hope I can pull off her plan A.
    Hugs and thanks for your inspiration,

    1. I'm always amazed at how much you do Carol! I can't wait to see your quilts finished. Won't it feel good to have them finished?

  2. What a handsome young man your grandson is Georgene!

    I have a hobby of propagating plants by cuttings or seeds. I'm looking online for ideas of how to make my own containers/pots for them. One idea I found is to put moss around cheap plastic pots and twine. I have moss and bamboo and twigs and vines amoung other things available free from my woods at the rental--so that is the kind of look I'm going for. I'm using plants to decorate my sun room. Many of them were in garden last year. I am planning to start a winter herb garden in there too. I also want to design my own Pokeberry Patch seed packets (after Christmas) so I can try selling some of my seeds.

    I gathered a lot of dry grasses and weeds at our rental property too and I plan to color them with floral paints and use them for more decor ideas.

    I go out in the afternoon and use my electric leaf blower ( a Craigslist find) to clear a big section of leaves, they have just finished falling. . 30 minutes a day makes good exercise for me. I do my exercise 'free' no gym. At my pace I will have the yard cleaned up in about a week I think.

    We also save $120 per month by doing our own yard work. Usually Hubby does the mowing when he is in town because I cannot pull the cord that starts the mower. And I do the garden stuff and trim shrubs.

    Recently I purchased a nice quality reel mower, barely used for $50 on Craigslist so I am hoping to also do some of our mowing myself in the future. No string to pull, no noise, no gas.

    I went through my Christmas ornaments and decided to save only shades of blue and things that are made of natural materials. I gave all the ornaments that don't fit that color scheme to Daughter and also a lot of old decorations I thought her children would enjoy. My plan is that I will make any other decorations for the tree that I need, and also Hubby and I plan to buy one fun lawn decoration per year to surprise the grandkids. Last year I bought a blow up monkey.

    I I bought one grandson a snow suit on sale at JC Penny's online-- free shipping to him, and his sister got pajamas and a bathrobe--which she loves so much she took it with her to daycare for 'nap time' Her babysitter sent me a photo by facebook. Those kids live on the opposite side of the country so free shipping is awesome.

    Grandkids who live here in our warmer climate will get fleece lined hoodies, all the grands will get a toy too.

    I shop around online for things--by not wearing myself out doing regular shopping I can use my energy on other things. I cannot remember the last time I went inside of a mall. I pay the yearly fee to have an Amazon Prime account so I get free shipping on most of my purchases. I also get to read some kindle books free and there are a bunch of other freebies in the package. It is only economical if you have more than $75 in shipping costs over a year. I do. I use Amazon for a lot of my shopping- for my home, gifts and my little business.

    I guess saving is relative to your situation.

    This week I also made some cheap mixes for cleaning. I have a spray of stain treatment for laundry and a spray of all purpse cleaner made from 1 pt dawn & 1 pt vinegar--it works really good.

    That's all for now. :)

    1. I should add that in our part of the country anybody and everybody that can usually has someone else do the 'mowing & blowing & trimming' just because we have 4+ months of very high heat/humidity. So it is worth $60 2x a month to pay to have it done--but we are using it as fitness.

    2. You had a busy week Mary! I have a question. Is the stain treatment recipe the 1 pt dawn and 1 pt vinegar? Or was that just for cleaning? Will you let us know if you teach how to propagate? I know how to for some plants but always want to learn more. I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving and that you're finding grace in Him to meet each days challenges.

  3. Wow, this week passed so quickly! The grandkids were out of school, but my daughter still had classes Monday and Tuesday, so I watched the kids. Then I barely had a breath and it was Thanksgiving. Took two kinds of sweet potatoes to dinner at my sister's house. Also some corn and tea. A fairly inexpensive contribution.

    I will host Christmas for the family, so trying to figure out the menu and how to get all into our not so large home. I'm thinking of a table top tree to maybe free up some space, then just decorate it with my collection of bird ornaments. But I'd hate to not put out all the ornaments my children have made. we will see.

    Mary, we do our own yard work and housework too. Saves a lot. Due to my health there are things I don't do in the house. my husband now mops. My baseboards need cleaning. Oh well, it will get done. I also continue to make my own laundry det'g.

    Georgene, that is a nice picture of you and your grandson. He is very handsome! I'm glad you were able to have an early Thanksgiving with family. I have gotten hooked on watching Extreme Cheapskates on Netflix. My husband is revolted by some things, like dumpster diving. But I am keeping an open mind if I see an idea we can use. But I don't think it will be dumpster diving!

    1. Hi Rachel,
      I watch Extreme Cheapskates, too. I always find it interesting where each person will draw their lines on how they will save money. Remember the 'hillbilly cheapskates'? Did you notice they were living on $1,000 a month? No wonder she didn't turn on lights. She was doing what she had to do to live within their means. I may think she was radical but I live on nearly twice that amount with no children living at home. I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving.

    2. Netflix only has one season of Extreme cheapskates, 2011. So I assumed there were no more. I'll have to see if I can find that hillbilly episode. There was a young couple in Maine living on $1,000 a month and she had a blog, but she shut it down. I loved reading it. They had three small children. She could certainly squeeze a dollar!

  4. Just wanted to say how much I love your blog. I read 'our story'. It was very humbling & clearly honest.

    1. Angela took the very same words from my thoughts. I am inspired, as I am sure many others are as well, by your positive thoughts, your gratitude and your efforts with God's hand to come back from adversity. Blessings to you. :)

  5. Georgene ( beautiful name by the way) I'm with you on the clutter. I turned 50 last January and it's as though a switch was turned on. I hate having anything around that I don't need or use. Have gone through Christmas items and donated boxes to Goodwill of everything I don't need. We downsized 3 years ago and most everything was garage sale this past summer. I clean homes and know how much easier it is to keep neat and tidy with less around. Everything has a place and everything in it's place.

    Rachel I live in Northern Illinois and the markets here throw out perfectly good food and then throw bleach on it all so people can't use it. Makes me crazy why they can't donate or sell it cheap. I have asked the managers of stores if I could buy it and have been told they need the write off and they don't want to get sued for selling bad food. How horrible that we waste so much. There are so many people where I live that don't have enough to eat on a daily basis. So many have lost their jobs and can only get part time. A 1500 sq ft home here pays $7200.00 in property taxes a year. That's a 60 yr old home and would be mine. I'm college educated, had a good paying job that was outsourced and I have been cleaning homes for the past 3 yrs to help makes ends meet.
    Thankful I still can clean.

    1. I thought Ca. was expensive but I think you have us beat. Before we downsized we had 10 acres and a large home with property taxes half as much as yours. Bless your heart! Yes, you are blessed to be able to clean houses. I did that for over a year and at 55 years old it just was a lot. My hats off to you!

    2. Patti, that is some crazy property tax! Ours is around $1200 a year. But on the other hand we have flood insurance, we are in Florida, and we hear it will go up each year due to Congress no longer funding the flood ins. program. For a while we had trouble keeping homeowners as well. When there are multiple hurricanes that cause a lot of damage, companies start dropping people. So I guess there is good and bad in every state.

  6. Georgene, this week I made crocheted dishcloths for gifts. Some yarn I had, some I bought. I can make 2 dishcloths from a skein. I give 3 rolled up and tied with a ribbon for a gift.
    I aslo tried to eat up fridge food, couldn't eat it all so threw it in the freezer.
    Also I went to Big Lots and found a few bargains.
    I will be finishing a baby quilt tomorrow which is also a gift.
    I stayed out of the stores on Thanksgiving and Black Friday.
    Looking forward to reading more of your columns.

    1. Is the pattern you're using for the dishcloths online? Do you crochet or knit? I crochet dishcloths. I've tried several different patterns but always looking for new ones. :-)

      I recently found a great deal at Big Lots. my husband loves Earl Grey tea. It can be expensive. I found they sell boxes for $2 at BL. PTL!

      It looks like you've been busy! :-) Good for you!

    2. I crochet my dischcloths. No pattern, just do my own thing: chain 28. Single crocket 3 rows. Then 7x: half double crochet one row, single crochet the next. End with 2 more rows of single crochet. I can do these in my sleep.
      Meijers had great deals on baking chips n cocoa this weekend, .99c each. I stocked up.
      My biggest savings is staying out of stores and no internet shopping.
      Love your blog, and the comments, check them every day.

  7. My sister & I hit the mother load of a bacon sale in Oct. Our local Martins store (which otherwise is way to expensive for me to shop) had an awesome deal on Indiana Kitchen bacon. It was on sale for 2/$6.00 & we had printed (it was a pdf coupon that was legit, we made sure, plus the store checked it out also for us) $2/1 cps. We got it for $1 a pkg. I ended up buying like 14 pkgs & my sister got 20. We are set!!! These deals do not come around very often here in my neck of the woods & when they do we stock-up! I love being frugal & am always trying to find ways to edit the food budget which is not easy since I'm feeding 5 ppl & 2 of them are teenage boys. lol


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