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Frugal Friday

I can’t believe it’s another Friday and time to go through a list of things we did to save some pennies this week.  Let me start by saying we had an unexpected expense last Friday.  I took my car in for maintenance only to find out that a pothole cracked an axel on my car.  Ouch.  It was not as expensive as I would have thought, so that was a win, I guess.  I like to think it was avoidable, but with the winter we had, I am betting we are far from the only family to be dealing with car issues caused by potholes.

  1.  My son and I went to see Toy Story 4.  He is 21, but we needed to finish that series.  I spent the better part of 3 years listening to Toy Story play in our VCR on a daily basis.  To say that Buzz Lightyear was his hero would be an understatement.  Anyway, we went before 12:00 pm on a Saturday, so tickets were $5.00.
  2. I scored 2 loaves of bread at a bakery for $2.00 per loaf.  They are normally $8.00 per loaf.
  3. My daughter’s birthday was on Tuesday.  The store gave me $20 off for her gift because it was for her birthday.  That was totally unexpected.
  4. A friend gave me 3 absolutely gorgeous houseplants from her mother’s house, free of charge.  She just wanted them to go to a home where they would be taken care of.
  5. I used up the last of my shampoo in a plastic bottle and started using a shampoo bar.  Preliminary results are good.  So far, I like it.

What did you do this week to save some money?  Remember, being frugal doesn’t mean doing without.  It means saving so that you can enjoy the things that really matter without worrying about money.

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Our newest plant

Recipes

Lemon Couscous

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Yesterday was another hot one.  We had couscous, cherries, bread and cheese in an effort to keep the house cool.  I have an electric kettle, so I heated the water for the couscous in that and was able to avoid turning on the oven or stove.

Lemon Couscous

1 cup boiling water

1 1/2 cups couscous

1 tbsp olive oil

pinch of salt

12 oz jar marinate artichoke hearts

1 minced garlic clove

1 tbsp chopped dill

fresh mint

2 oz sun dried tomatoes

1 lemon (juiced)

1/4 cup walnuts

3 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

4 oz feta cheese

Put couscous in a bowl, cover with water.  Fluff with a fork and add olive oil.  Cover the couscous and let sit for 5 minutes.

Once couscous is done, mix in artichoke hearts, garlic, dill, sun dried tomatoes, lemon juice, walnuts, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Once mixed add feta on top.  Serve at room temperature.  Perfect for summer nights with a green salad, fruit and bread.

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Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

What did you do this week to stick to money saving and frugality?  We had a couple major wins this week that only further my belief that sticking to a budget and saving money is the way to go.

  1.  For my son’s 21st birthday, we bought him a computer.  A few months ago, that computer started to have problems.  He sent the computer back to the company, because it was under warranty for repairs.  They don’t have the necessary part, so he is getting a better model than the original computer.  Don’t forget about your warranties.  I know that I do and probably throw money away without meaning to.
  2. I bought 2 heavy duty fans to help get us through the summer.  I am determined not to rely solely on central air to keep cool this summer.  I don’t have a problem using it. However, there are times when it is so hot that the responsible thing to do is to set the thermostat higher so that there isn’t such a strain on the power company.
  3. Our power was out for almost 24 hours.  Does that count?  24 hours without using electricity has to add up to something, right?
  4. After the power outage, it was so tempting to go out for dinner.  But, we popped a couple frozen pizzas in the oven and added a salad.  We stayed in to watch a movie and considered ourselves lucky to have first world problems like lost power.  It makes you reflect on your overwhelming privilege when you lose amenities that you are used to.
  5. Our electric bill arrived and it went down significantly from the bill we received in May.  A full month of no heating or cooling made a huge difference.

What did you do this week to save money?

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A much needed cocktail during a 24 hour period without power

Recipes

Lemon Dressing

It is a hot night this beautiful Monday, so I am making a simple salad for dinner.  Making your own salad dressing is a great way to save money.  Not only that, homemade tastes so much better.  Below is my recipe for lemony salad dressing.  Since it is lemon juice and olive oil, you know it’s healthy.  Enjoy!

Lemon Dressing

1/4 cup  fresh squeezed lemon juice

1/2 cup olive oil

2 tsp dried oregano

salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a mason jar and shake.

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Books

The Favorite Daughter-Book Review

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I recently finished The Favorite Daughter by Kaira Rouda.  The main character in this book, Jane, is a mother of 2.  She recently lost her older daughter, Mary, and questions remain as to what happened.  When the book begins, they are approaching the one year anniversary of Mary’s death.  Jane has spent a year, heavily medicated, to get through the grief of losing who she believed was her perfect daughter.  During that year, her husband has been working longer hours and her younger daughter, Betsy,  is keeping secrets.  The family appears to be falling apart and Jane has made it her mission to find out what is going on and what actually happened to Mary.

I don’t want to give any spoilers.  But, I have read a lot of books that follow what I have mentioned before as being in the “Gone Girl” genre and this one definitely follows that same genre.  As we all know, Amy was a certifiable lunatic in Gone Girl.  Compared to Jane in The Favorite Daughter, Amy was actually very sane and normal.  To say Jane is crazy, would be an understatement.  While I had fun reading this book, I did have a hard time dealing with the true insanity of Jane, I can’t remember the last time I read a character that was crazy and so void of humanity.  In a word, WOW!

The Favorite Daughter gives us a very fictional glimpse into the perfect, All American family living in Orange County California.  The neighborhood that they live in is over the top idyllic and the people who live there are nothing more than characters.  If this is what it is really like to live among the rich in California, I will continue to be happy in Midwestern America.  No one seems real in the story, making it hard to actually care about the characters.  That being said though, I did have fun reading the book and read it quickly.  It is a very easy read and while the ending is very predictable, Jane is very transparent, the story will draw you in.

Don’t expect great literature with this one.  I came across one very glaring mistake the author made while writing the book.  Throughout the story she talks about all the years her girls were one year apart in school.  However, when the oldest daughter goes to college, the younger daughter is starting her junior year of high school.  This was, in my opinion, a major mistake that the editor missed.  That set aside,  expect to have fun reading it and know that the ending will be very satisfying.  I gave this book 3 stars on Goodreads.  I would have given 3.5, with a half star for the fun factor if that was an option.

Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

Here is the roundup of things we did this week to save money.

  1.  When Luna was a puppy, she destroyed our couch.  I mean, seriously ripped it apart.  The result has been driving me crazy for months.  Instead of buying a brand new couch for her to destroy again, I ordered a slip cover from Amazon to hide the damage.  It looks fine and will do until we have the courage to buy a new couch.
  2. This week I was thinking that I need to order a 2020 calendar as I continue to make appointments into the next year.  Coincidentally, Amazon mailed multiple appointment books to my employer and told us to keep them.  So, I got a really nice and really free appointment book for 2020.  It’s definitely not in the league of the Lisa Condren appointment books that I like, but it serves it’s purpose just fine.
  3. I bought my mom her birthday gift online, utilizing a one day only 25% off special.  Just in case you are reading this mom, you will love it!
  4. I bought a new rug at Kohl’s (of course everything at Kohl’s is always on sale, but 50% off isn’t bad).  I got $20 in Kohl’s cash which I plan on using for new throw pillows, to replace the pillows the dog destroyed.  Also, the rug needed to be replaced, because the dog destroyed the old one.  See a pattern here?
  5. I got the oil changed on my car and used a $25 of coupon.

What have you done this week to save money?

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Recipes

Jalapeno Cheddar Breakfast Sandwich

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I love egg sandwiches for breakfast.  I have created a super simple and tasty sandwich.  The required ingredient is cheddar with jalapenos Pub Cheese from Trader Joe’s.  This sandwich is so much better than anything I have had at a coffee shop or restaurant.

Jalapeno Cheddar Egg Sandwich

1 fried egg

1 breakfast sausage patty (I use the veggie breakfast patties from Trader Joe’s)

1 english muffin

1 generous serving of cheddar jalepeno cheese spread

Assemble sandwich and enjoy!

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Required ingredient!

 

Family Life

Early Morning Treat

I woke up earlier than I usually do this morning.  Because I start work a bit later than most people, I have the luxury of sleeping in  most mornings.  I have considered myself lucky, but I do miss those early mornings to savor a cup of coffee while the house is still quiet.  Most nights I commit to waking up earlier the next morning, but I rarely follow through.

This morning was different for some reason.  I woke up at 6:00 when I heard my husband getting ready for work.  So, I pulled myself out of bed to let the dogs out and start a pot of coffee. What a treat that was.  It was a beautiful morning.  Summer is finally here, the proof was in the dew that I walked through as I took my dog out for her morning potty break.

After my husband and daughter went to work, I brought the dogs with me to our front porch.  With a book and cup of coffee in hand I took advantage of a quiet morning before going to work.  I really need to go back to my early bird schedule, the morning has so much to offer.

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Early morning game of catch with Luna

Books

Wunderland – Book Review

I recently finished the World War II drama Wunderland by Jennifer Cody Epstein.  This was one of those books that I started and had to promise myself that I would not stay up until 12:30 am reading.  I did not fulfill that promise to myself and finished it in 2 nights, it was that good.

Set in Berlin in the 1930’s, best friends Ilse and Renate, have spent their childhood together.  They share secrets and make promises to each other to remain best friends forever.  As the Nazi party continues to strengthen in Germany, they find that maintaining their precious friendship is going to be impossible.  Renate’s family reveals a secret that will make it impossible for her to sustain her lifestyle, her social connections and education.

After introducing Ilse and Renate, the book jumps to 1980’s New York City and the reader is introduced to Ilse’s daughter Ava.  Ava was born at the start of WWII and never knew who her father was and never knew why she was surrendered to an orphanage as a young child, only to be retreived by her mother years later.  She spends her life begging her mother for answers, but receives nothing from Ilse.  Finally, after years of estrangement from Ilse she receives a letter from Germany that includes the story of her mother’s life through a series of letters that her mother wrote over several decades to Renate.  These letters explain to Ava why her mother was distant and cold during her childhood.  It also explains the mystery of her father and those years in the orphanage.  The answer is shocking.

I really liked this book for several reasons.  I have read so many WWII books over the years.  The events of 1940’s Europe provided endless material for historical fiction.  Personally, I have always felt an obligation to read those stories so that I can understand why the holocaust happened and what drove millions of people to follow a madman blindly.  In all honesty, I have been backing away from those books a little bit because they all seem to end in the same place, a death camp. While I know that was the story for millions of victims, it was not the story for all of Hitler’s victims.  Make no mistake about it though, just because this story does not end in a death camp, that doesn’t make the outcome any less tragic. In the end,  the brutality these families live through ends before they have to enter a death camp.

I realize that while this book was historical fiction, it also had the element of mystery and suspense.  The big reveal is saved for the last few pages,  which allowed the book to hold my attention until the very end.  I kept asking myself, what is the secret?  So many scenarios went through my mind, but honestly, I wasn’t prepared for the end.  That is what makes a good story great!

I also appreciated that the author had the ability to make me really hate Ilse through almost the entire book.  I mean, she is really portrayed as an awful woman.  Her final letter allowed me to realize their was so much more to her.  I can’t say I walked away feeling pity or sorry for her, or that I even liked her at the end.  But, I ended the book understanding her a bit more.

I gave Wunderland 5 stars on Goodreads without hesitation.

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Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

Here is a list of the things we did this week to maintain our frugal way of life.

  1. Father’s Day was spent at home.  We grilled out and had a family dinner loaded with laughter and conversation.
  2. The kids and I pooled our money and bought Eric a Father’s Day gift he wanted, instead of buying 4 so so gifts.
  3. Did you know that Head and Shoulders shampoo is the perfect home remedy for some skin rashes?  Instead of buying cream at the store, I used the shampoo we had on hand and it worked like a charm.  NOTE talk to your doctor about using Head and Shoulders before applying it to a rash.  My doctor was the one who told me this a couple years ago, but everyone is different.
  4. I had to drive to Green Bay unexpectedly over the weekend.  Like always, I used our teeny tiny Toyota Yaris for the drive.  The car gets 30 miles to the gallon, making it an economical way to travel long distances.
  5. I have been doing some “redecorating” of the kids rooms as they move on, move out, move back and grow up. I made some changes to my son’s room and used furniture, bedding and decorations we already had.  I have to constantly remind myself to use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.
  6. Here is an extra which relates to my daughter, not me.  On her way to work on Monday morning, she filled up her tank and the pump had some kind of problem.  She got $40 worth of gas for free.  The gas station attendant told her that there was nothing she could about it and she could call corporate.  Corporate told her to talk to the gas station.  She made a genuine effort to pay for the gas.

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