Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Quiet Week

This week is going to be a quiet blogging week.  We had guests over the long weekend (ranging from Wednesday to Monday for us), celebrated my birthday, and our grandson stayed behind to spend the week with us.  I’ll be back next week.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Library Books

I’m a pretty voracious reader.
Unless I have company in the evenings, I normally read right on up until bedtime and can finish a book per night.
This is this week’s selection.
Last night I read Con Law, which I enjoyed.
I liked the mix of politics, law, and mystery.
I enjoyed the debates about the Constitution and the “founding fathers’ “ intentions.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Pressure Washer

Carol, over at CTonaBudget, asked about the pressure washer we decided to buy.  We knew we didn’t need a heavy jobs one because our goal is to do regular maintenance to keep jobs from getting too big.

We made a list of what we considered reasonable things to look for in one and our list went something like this:

1.  No more than around $100 in cost.

2.  Lightweight enough I could carry it around and use with no problems.

3.  Easy to operate and also “intuitive” to operate.  (Aka nothing too complicated)

4.  Wish list — soap option for outside windows and cars

5.  We also wanted something that would take up the least space for storage when not in use.

6.  I also wanted to avoid having to buy extra garden hoses and just use the ones we have.

We tried out a couple and worked with a friend, who had a much higher pressured one.  They didn’t really meet our list — they were expensive and cumbersome.  However, the one we recently borrowed did.  It was originally purchased at Lowes several years ago, but they no longer have them.  I began an online search and settled on the one that was comparable on Amazon.

This is what we decided to go with.  
It does not have a reel for hoses or things like that, which was fine with us.  
It is light weight and has the nozzles and capabilities we were looking for as well.

They do have models with higher pressure and other features, and depending on a person’s needs their prices are still good overall.

I do feel like I should say that I haven’t had mine long enough to know how well it will hold up.
However, the one we borrowed is several years old and still going wrong, so I am hopeful that we will be as fortunate.

Small Appliance Purchase

Schedules are getting crazier around here.
In the past, I have always relied on the crockpot for busy nights, but I am finding that downsizing to cooking for two is a bit of a challenge because none of us want to spend days eating the same meal over and over.

My original plan was to invest in a simple flat griddle.
I wanted a small one — for both family size and for storage ease.
I checked in Target and all they had was the really large griddles.
Instead I opted to invest in this Cuisinart Griddler and to buy the waffle plates to go with it.

The reasons included:
The price was only $19 less than purchasing this from Amazon.
The storage space required is much smaller.
I can cook a variety of items on this far easier than I can on a flat griddle.

I made waffles with no problem, too.

We’ve made panini of mulitple varieties.
It does well with both my daughter’s wheat bread and my gluten free bread.
My daughter’s favorite includes turkey and a variety of fixings.

I also made “pizza” sandwiches — basically an Italian sub on a smaller scale.

We’ve used it for grilled cheese sandwiches.
(Photo below — I’ve been freezing my homemade GF bread in slices.  
I just took two out, spread them with margarine, and put shredded cheese in the middle.
Cooked on panini setting — it was excellent.)

I’ve made pancakes (blueberry and gluten free).

I cooked French toast — regular and gluten free.
I’ve cooked boneless chicken breasts with barbecue sauce.

We also had one night where we simply made bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches.
My daughter likes hers lightly toasted.

We’ve been pleased with each dish we have tried.
(I’ll let you know how the waffle plates do.)

The bonuses for us are:

1.  It heats quickly, unlike the oven.
2.  It is small and stores easily.
3.  I can cook small amounts with ease.
4.  It lends itself to quick dishes like hot sandwiches.
5.  I can put frozen meat on it to cook.

Last of Oct/First of Nov

Frugal happenings for last week include: 1.  Sunday trip to the library. 2.  Monday was a day at home and a no spend day. 3.  Tuesday —
  • I picked up candy for trick or treaters.  While I was at Sam’s Club I found a huge beef roast and two packages of boneless pork chops that looked great. They were on mark down so I picked them up.  I also picked up the eggs, cheese, sandwich meat, and some bread (for my daughter’s lunches) that we needed for the week.
  • I pulled together a pot of taco soup from on hand ingredients to be my contribution to our annual chili dinner.
4.  Wednesday 
  • I paid bills online to save on postage.
  • I wrote out a menu and corresponding shopping list for our upcoming visits.  I was able to divide it into a couple of stores based on the sales flyers that came out in the mail.
5.  Thursday 
  • I ordered my husband three shirts from Lands End.  With a combined coupon and a discount for ordering three, I managed to get not only free shipping, but the third shirt for free.
  • I used a gift card balane to order a book from Amazon.
  • I placed a Walmart order and received free shipping.  I ordered a replacement cookie jar (on sale), a shower liner, a large decorative candle lantern (which was far less expensive than Hobby Lobby’s version), and 4 large coffee mugs that were reduced by $26.00.  My entire order was less than the cost of the candle/lantern I looked at at Hobby Lobby, and I did not have to go across town so I saved on time and gas.
6.  Friday
  • I changed the menu slightly to use up some things we had in the refrigerator and made a large lasagna with plans for leftovers for lunches for the first half of next week.
  • We hung laundry to dry.
7.  Saturday
  • We mixed some leftovers in with a jar of my home canned soup to make a hearty stew.
  • We spent the day painting.
8.  Sunday
  • On our ride back (two hours) we stopped and picked up coffees.  We opted for 99 cents cups that were on special.  We also got rewards points for these that we will use in the future.
  • We talked about grabbing breakfast on the road, but opted to wait until we were home and make waffles.
  • We picked up books from the local library.
  • We had a quiet night at home — watching online movies and eating popcorn.
On the not frugal at first glance side —
1.  We ordered a small pressure washer.  We are required by HOA ( and want to even if we weren’t required) to keep our house pressure washed.  We have been either renting, borrowing, or even paying someone to do the pressure washing of the house.  That did not include the drive maintenance.  With the costs continuing to rise, we decided to invest in our own.  The plan is to be here at least 6 more years.  Knowing that, we have opted to invest in a modest sized and modest priced pressure washer and do the work ourselves.  One year’s costs will pay for it and the other 5 will just be icing on the cake.
2.  I paid $30 for a beef roast that was on sale.  Yes, I know.  However, I am comparing this to the cost of taking 8 or 9 people out to eat.  This still is the more frugal option.  The plan is to make “oriental” beef and serve it with broccoli and rice.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Weekend Baking

We are continuing to work our way through the recipes in the gluten free muffin cookbook.  This weekend we decided to go with the gingerbread muffins, which I made per the instructions with the exception of not sprinkling extra sugar on top.

These are excellent muffins that have a great texture and fabulous taste.
So far every recipe we have tried has been a winner.
I’m actually looking forward to deciding which one to try next.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Weekend Plans

We have guests coming in next week, and my plan had been to take care of a few details this weekend.
However, you know what they say about best laid
The weather is supposed to be beautiful so we will spend our time painting.
No big deal....I’ll do the bulk of the work I wanted to do at the house today and next Monday.
I’m reserving Tuesday for grocery shopping and a final scrub of all the bathrooms.
Wednesday morning I’ll do the last minute fresh linens and some baking.
By Wednesday midday we should have the first arrivals.

So with the change of plans I altered the menu slightly.
Instead of white lasagna, I decided to do a tomato based one.

Tonight’s supper is now lasagna, which is sitting in the refrigerator waiting to be baked.
This is what I refer to as “use it up” lasagna.
My noodles were getting near their experation date.  Food waste is bad on any budget.
Plus, anyone who buys gluten free products knows they aren’t inexpensive — so wasting them hits hard.

 From the fridge I had some items to use up:
3/4 or so of a container of ricotta cheese
2/3 of a bag of shredded mozzarella
A bowl of leftover pizza sauce (homemade)
A bowl of steamed veg (broccoli/cauli/carrot/squash)

From the freezer:
The last pound of my frozen ground turkey from Zaycon

Then from food storage:
An onion lingering on the counter
Some Dollar Tree mushroom slices
1 can of Italian seasoned tomatoes
Two eggs to help the ricotta stretch

I put together a simple lasagna, but I didn’t have quite enough sauce.
The can of Italian seasoned diced tomatoes worked perfectly.
I just dumped them on top and sprinkled with cheese to finish it off.

I have actually stuck to the menu plan all week!
Next week all bets are off though because we will have a lot more input and mouths to feed.

Quiet Week

This week is going to be a quiet blogging week.  We had guests over the long weekend (ranging from Wednesday to Monday for us), celebrated m...