Household

5 Frugal Things – May 1-7

We tried to continue with frugal and earth friendly choices the first week of May.

  1.  I bought a second hand halogen lamp from a friend for $15.  She is moving soon and getting rid of stuff.  We needed a lamp so it was a win-win.
  2. I did my monthly gas fill up on my car.  With gas points from my grocery store, I saved 90 cents per gallon on a 20 gallon tank.  Not too bad.
  3. On impulse a couple weeks ago, I bought a $60 moisturizer at Macy’s.  I don’t do things like that and knew I had to return it because I didn’t need it.  My husband on the other hand needed new shoes, desperately.  So I returned the moisturizer and bought the shoes.
  4. More on shoes.  My daughter needs sandals and as a size 11 foot, they are hard to come by.  I ordered a pair for her and for me from Teva, received a 10% off code and got free shipping.  Teva tend to be pricey, but quality shoes are worth every penny.
  5. We are phasing meat out of our diets.  This was not a spur of the moment decision and not a decision based on health.  As more news comes out about the consequences of meat consumption to the planet, we knew it was time for us to do our part.  I have also been having a difficult time reconciling my love of animals with my diet that included meat.   I did not buy any meat at the grocery store this week and the savings was noticeable.

Side note regarding our decision to phase meat out of our diet.  I know this is a personal decision and I personally do not have issues with others eating meat.  I will never be the person who lectures someone about it.  I have been on the receiving end of a lecture about why I am wrong to enjoy a hamburger (I do enjoy hamburgers).  So, I am not looking to debate the issue either way.

What did you do to save money this week?

 

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Luna pondering life

Books

My Top Book Pick For 2019…So Far

As a prolific reader, I tend to read the top picks every year. Each year, I find one book that I would rate as my top pick. The best of the bunch. One that needs to be read, by everyone. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens is already my pick for 2019. Maybe I will read something that I think is better, but I highly doubt it, it is just that good.

Where the Crawdads Sing tells the story of Kya, a girl who grows up in the marshes of North Carolina. Her story is one of true heartbreak and tragedy. She lives alone in the marsh with little contact with the outside world. She is a truly kind and intelligent soul, who has had more disappointment in her life than any one person should ever have.

Without giving spoilers, I will explain why I have such a high opinion of the this book. First, the story itself. The author is able to write an incredibly heart breaking story with such beauty. Her writing is lyrical, her descriptions make the reader feel like they have been transported to the marsh that Kya lives in. You will feel her pain. Make no mistake about it, her pain visceral and the reader will feel it with her. I knew when I started this book, it was going to be a heartbreaker. In fact, I had reserved it 3 times at my library, read the first page and then returned it. I was afraid to feel such sadness, but in the end I am glad I read it.

Second, all of the characters are integral to the story. Like the story itself, the author has created characters with so much description, you feel like you know each of them individually. Some you love and some you hate. But all are necessary to the story itself.

Third, the focus of the natural world in Kya’s life. You will be able to feel like you are sitting in the marsh with Kya. The descriptions of the tides, the birds flying, even the shells she finds on the beach are described with such intense detail. It is clear that the author’s first profession was as a naturalist. She has a way of describing everything with such beauty.

Fourth, the ending is truly satisfying after a heartbreaking journey through Kya’s life. Expect to cry a little, but also expect to feel relief at the end. Her journey is long and full of disappointment, but she finishes that journey with less loneliness and true happiness. This is truly a beautiful read.

Household

5 Frugal Things

Spring is finally sprung in the midwest.  We had a really nice Easter and my birthday was also on Easter Sunday.  My family spoiled me with a wonderful day and the greatest gift a mother of 3 could ask for.  They were home with me all day and my husband took a portrait of them and had put on canvas and framed.  It had been 10 years since we had a photo like that taken.  Wow, kids change a lot in 10 years!  Even with my birthday and Easter, we were able to stick to frugality.

  1.  We had Easter brunch at home.  I made quiche with the eggs from our backyard, served with kringle, bacon and fruit.  We also had mimosas.  My birthday dinner was also at home, shrimp kabobs, rice, asparagus and homemade chocolate cake.
  2. I still try to give my kids gifts for Easter.  We keep it simple and give them things they need in addition to something for fun.  This year we were able to give our son a 6 pack of beer.  He’s 21, so totally legal.
  3. My daughter had prom.  We did not pay for her to have her hair done.  Instead, her sister came home form college and did a great job.
  4. I needed to purchase new tires for my car (not frugal, but totally necessary).  We chose tires that include a $70 rebate.
  5. My husband and daughter went to the theatre to see the new Avengers movie.  They used gift cards, saving us the cost of full price movie tickets.

What did you do to save pennies this week?

Recipes

Kale Lasagna

My son comes home from college most Sundays to spend the day with his dad and have Sunday dinner with us.  Last night I made Kale Lasagna.

Kale Lasagna

1 package lasagna noodles (I use the oven ready, no boiling needed)

5 oz kale

2 jars marinara sauce

8 oz ricotta cheese

4 1/2 cups mozerella

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine 4 cups mozzarella, ricotta and parmesan in bowl and stir.  Put one cup of sauce in bottom of 9 x 13 baking pan, place 3 lasagna noodles vertically in pan.  Spread 1 cup cheese mixture on noodles and then kale.  Repeat these steps 3 more times.  Top with remaining mozzarella and sauce.  Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes.  Uncover and bake for 5 more minutes.  Let stand for 5 minutes.  I served with a salad.

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Recipes

Oven Baked Chicken

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My oven baked chicken is perfectly moist and juicy.  The coating is crispy and crunchy and turns out perfect every time.  Here is my recipe, it is very simple.

Crispy Crunchy Oven Baked Chicken

1 lb chicken thighs (or other pieces)

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 cup bread crumbs or panko

1 cup parmesan cheese

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Put mayonnaise in a dish and the bread crumbs and paremesan in another dish.  Coat chicken pieces with mayo and then cover with bread crumb and cheese combination.  Bake until chicken has an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

Household

5 Frugal Things This Week

We didn’t start this week off frugally.  Saturday night we went out for dinner, a rare occurrence for us.  When we go out, we tend to not keep it cheap and instead enjoy the time out.  But, we did do other things to save pennies.

  1.  My husband and I both took our lunches to work.  This is such a huge money saver.  My husband makes himself a batch of chili every week for lunches at home and the office.
  2. It’s tax time.  My husband prepared our taxes at home.  Using the site is not free, but so much cheaper than using an accountant.
  3. I stocked up on naturally made soaps at a local farm.  Four times per year the owner has an open house and sells the soap for CHEAP!  She sends out a coupon to those who have signed up on her website, I also received an additional percentage off because I am a frequent buyer.  Her soaps are wrapped in paper and twine.  No plastic, no chemicals, no waste.  I bought enough to get us through to her summer open house.
  4. I made homemade sour cream.  Suprisingly simple to make and frugal.
  5. Meal planned for the week.  Used a list at the grocery store and stuck to it.

 

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Recipes

Broccoli and Mushroom Casserole

Winter has returned, which means I had an excuse for one more casserole.  I made this one up with what I had in the pantry and it turned out delicious.

Broccoli and Mushroom Casserole

8 oz egg noodles

8 oz button mushrooms

12 oz frozen broccoli

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp heavy cream

1 can cream soup (mushroom or chicken)

1/4 cup sour cream

1/2 cup cheddar cheese

1 garlic clove

1 tsp rosemary

1/4 cup panko

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease casserole dish and set aside.  Boil egg noodles.  While noodles are cooking, saute sliced mushrooms in olive oil and butter.  Once mushrooms are cooked, add cream and rosemary.  Set aside.  When noodles are about 3-4 minutes from being done, add the frozen broccoli to water.  Drain.  Stir together the noodles, brocolli, mushroom, soup, sour cream and cheese.  Pour in prepared dish, sprinkle panko on top.  Cook until bubbly.  Add additional cheese on top and put back in oven for 5 minutes.  So simple and so delicious.

 

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Household

Five Frugal Things

I love to turn frugality into a game.  We have to, our 2 oldest are in college and we committed to paying for their state tuition so that they don’t have to start their lives in debt.  We are proud of this gift we can give them, it does come with sacrifices on our part.  I look for ways to be frugal every day.  Here is a list of 5 things I did this week to save a few pennies here and there.

  1. We have 2 cars.  One car has a 10 gallon tank and gets amazing mileage.  That is the car we use for errands, travel and my husband’s commute downtown.  The other car gets adequate mileage, I use that for my commute 2.5 miles away from home.  We have timed gas fill ups for my car to once a month on the last day.  I use points from our grocery store to lower the cost of gas to 40 cents less per gallon.  This week was fill up day for the month of April.  Total saved $6.40
  2. As I do every week, I used the library.  It helps that I work there, but even if I didn’t I would be using it.  I checked out 4 recent movies, for free.  According to my daughter, the free viewing of Aquaman was worth $0.  She said it was terrible.  Total saved $30. This is a guesstimate of how much it would have cost had we gone to the movie theatre instead.
  3. Last summer my husband had an accident and had to have some dental work done.  What insurance did not cover (which in the United States isn’t much) I put on a Care Credit account.  We got 6 months to pay without interest.  The due date was April 5.  I paid that off on April 1.  Total saved $150.00.
  4. I have been shopping the pantry and freezer this week.  Our freezer is in desperate need of defrosting, but first it needs to be emptied, so I am getting creative.  Not sure how much I saved on groceries this week.
  5. My husband brewed a batch of beer last weekend.  He recycled the grains that he used in the beer for homemade bread.  Delicious bread.  Again, not sure on the savings.

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Recipes

Kale and Tomato Frittata

The chickens are laying A LOT of eggs.  So, it’s been a lot of dinners with eggs as the protein.  Last night was Fritatta.

Kale and Tomato Frittata

3 cups kale

2 tbsp olive oil

1 cup chopped tomatoes

8 eggs

3 tbsp half and half

1/4 cup Gruyère cheese

Preheat oven to broil.  Saute kale in olive oil for about 3 minutes or until wilted.  Whisk eggs with half and half, set aside.  Add tomatoes to kale once wilted.  Add eggs and cook for about 3 minutes.  Spread cheese on top and put under broiler for 3-4 minutes.

I served this with cauliflower tots I had in the freezer.  Delicious dinner and easy to make.IMG_0175

 

Household

Earth Day, Every Day

Last night I challenged by friends on Facebook to choose one thing that they can do every day in the month of April to reduce their consumption of plastic.  Then this morning, while scrolling through my news feed I came across a story of a pregnant whale that died with 44 pounds of plastic in her stomach.  I truly wish that story was a rarity and that it  was not a follow-up to the story I read last week about the whale that died of starvation and dehydration, a result of ingesting 88 pounds of plastic.  These stories are becoming a part of our daily lives and to say they are heartbreaking would actually minimize the true consequences of our addiction to plastic.  Specifically, single use plastic.

To say that this has become my cause would be an understatement.  I have always been aware of the problems with single use plastic.  But, I believed that since I put mine in the recycling bin after use, I was doing my part.  Then 2 years ago, my husband and I watched the movie Plastic Paradise.  This movie reformed me and my views on plastic.  I am not going to give a synopsis of the movie, but I highly suggest watching it.  It should be part of the curriculum in our public schools.  If we start young, maybe future generations will care more than we do. Since seeing the movie,  I have spent the last 2 years talking to anyone who will listen to me, trying to get them to reduce, reduce, reduce.  I believe I have changed more than a few minds.  But, it is truly not enough.

Yesterday my mom and I were driving through Milwaukee and the streets were covered with plastic bags, plastic bottles and balloons.  Those are all products that do not decompose.  In 1000 years, if not picked up and thrown into a landfill, they will still be there, probably looking the same way they do today.  It’s a crime.  As the only species on this planet with the ability to create such mess, it is our responsibility to all the other creatures to clean it up.  I think we have all seen the pictures of turtles with a six-pack ring around their shell.

All this being said, I truly believe that plastic serves an important purpose.  Hospitals could not run efficiently without it.  Those without clean water after natural disasters could not survive without bottled water.  It also nearly impossible to eliminate is completely, it is part of our lives now.  But like so many things in life, less is more.

Think about some of the things you can do to reduce.  Do you get coffee at your local coffee shop everyday?  If so, can you bring your own takeaway mug and eliminate 30 plastic covers from our landfills?  Do you use the plastic grocery bags at the store?  If so, can you bring your own?  Do you need a new toothbrush?  Can you replace it with a bamboo toothbrush?  My parents have swapped their daily vegetable juice from the plastic containers to the metal containers.  One couple will be responsible for 52 fewer bottles in the landfill each year.   The possibilities are endless and it can be fun if you make a game out of it.  I work on it every single day, often times fall short.  But, it’s worth the effort.

So, what are you going to do in April to reduce your plastic consumption?  Everyone together can make a difference.

gem-lauris-rk-409606-unsplash (1)Photo courtesy of gemmalouisek.com/unsplash